Dear Miss Lonely Hearts,
I am a very nervous person when it comes to hooking up or asking someone out. I have never been in a long term relationship. I have never really hooked up with anyone unless I was inebriated and I’m not really comfortable with that. There have been times when other people have wanted to hook up with me, but they were inebriated and I was not at all. It’s not that I didn’t like the person, it’s just that I wasn’t comfortable with the situation. This brings me to my first question: what is the best way to say no to someone? Should I be worried about hurting their feelings? What if I do actually like them, but I am not comfortable in the moment?
At Reed, it seems like relationship stuff only happens at parties and dances. But I don’t really want to go to a dance unless it is to dance, and I don’t really want to go to a party unless it is with close friends. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested in anyone. There are definitely people I would like to get to know better, but I also don’t want to creep them out or make them feel unsafe. What is the best way to ask someone out, what is the best context for that?
Dazed and Confused
Dear Dazed and Confused,
First of all, you shouldn’t feel awkward about refusing to hook up with inebriated people. They might be embarrassed or angry in the moment, but in the long run they’ll be grateful. If you’re turning them down just because they’re drunk, tell them that you would love to hang out again some other time. Giving a definite time to meet up will make it clear that you actually like them and aren’t just blowing them off with a vague “see you around.” However, I wouldn’t necessarily bring up the fact that you want to leave because they’re drunk. Best case scenario, they love your Austin Powers impersonation of “I can’t darling. You’re drunk, it’s not right.” Worst case scenario, you go down the rabbit hole of them insisting that they aren’t that drunk, and you don’t want to put them on the defensive when they’re drunk and exposed. Long story short, stick to a simple “This was great! We should get lunch this week, but I’m going to head home now.” And if
you get them water and snacks before leaving, they’ll focus on how thoughtful you are rather than the fact that you left.
Even if Reed’s hookup culture is centered around SU dances and off-campus parties, you should do what you want to do when it comes to relationships. Own the fact that you want to dance at SU dances and to hang out with friends at parties. You only have four years at Reed and you should make the most of your college experience before it’s gone. And you certainly don’t have to make eyes at somebody across the SU to let them know you’re interested. Telling somebody that you want to hang out and get to know them better isn’t creepy, at least not in my book. If you start by becoming friends with somebody, they won’t feel uncomfortable or unsafe if feelings evolve from there. You can make it even easier by hanging out in a large group before becoming close friends that can hang out one-on-one. If you don’t want to pull a Jim from The Office and wait years to ask somebody out, keep it casual and just ask to hang out. If you have a class with them, ask to work together on an assignment. If not, walk with them on the way to Commons and get lunch together, and tell them about a new record store you’ve been meaning to go to. If you focus on sharing an experience with them, you won’t come across as creepy. Take it from me, you’ll probably do just fine as long as you don’t say something along the lines of “I’ve been watching you. Do you want to come to my room sometime?” If they say they’re busy, take that as a soft “no” and wait for them to make a move. They might actually be busy, and if that’s the case the ball is in their court to invite you to do something. That being said, you seem like a thoughtful person who isn’t likely to face rejection. Best of luck!
Miss Lonely Hearts