July 9, 2021

On our recent trip to New York, Cathy and I met another middle-aged couple on the air train and had some good conversation. Their kids had given them this trip to New York for their 50th birthdays. They were still thinking about what they wanted to do in the city for the 4th of July. Cathy invited them to come to dinner with us at the Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington gave his farewell dinner when he left military service at the end of the war. The room is still preserved as it was at that time, and there is a neat museum attached to the tavern. They were interested, and I was able to expand the reservation for two more people. (They are the couple on the viewer's left at the far end of the table.) At the beginning, I would have thought there was about a 15% chance that they would accept and show up to the dinner. But there they are in the picture.

Do you ever do that to yourself when you contemplate dating--you know, decide for the other person whether they are willing to go out with you without even asking? I know there were times when I did that, mostly in my twenties.

I acknowledge that asking someone for a date is a little different from asking another couple. When you ask for a date, you are expressing romantic interest. You are confessing an attraction--something we are usually pretty private about. Asking out another married couple does risk rejection. But the rejection might mean you are just strangers to them and that they have other things they would rather feel free to do at that time. We don't typically think of it as a deeply personal rejection. When we have plucked up the courage to ask a member of the opposite sex for a date, we make a turn down mean that the attraction to the other person is not mutual or that he or she finds something in us objectionable. We typically take it more personally. But we don't have to. That is a meaning we are giving it. It isn't necessarily the truth. Cathy and I could tell you stories about our courtship when I understood certain statements or actions by her as rejection, when they were anything but rejection. So our thoughts have a lot of power in this realm too. I could go on about that but it is not the subject of this post.

The subject of this post is really that you don't lose anything by asking someone for a date. You didn't have a date before you asked. At worst, you are still in the same position you were before. You might feel like you are now in a one down position relative to that person. But that relationship is not happening anyway, so who cares? Keep trying until you find someone that is actually interested and who you can be on equal footing with in the relationship. Some television sitcoms grade people on a scale of 1 to 10 or refer to one person as the "settler" and the other as the "reacher." My experience is quite different. Attraction is really in the eye of the beholder. People are attracted to others for a host of reasons. We may not even be consciously aware of 90% of them. Sometimes, there is an instant attraction. Sometimes that attraction takes a while to develop. Either way is fine and can lead to a storybook romance. The point is, you can't know the results until you ask. So ask. Take a chance.
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