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A Man On The Meek

I’m a guy and need directions! For a month, I’ve been flirting with this woman at work, and I think she’s flirting back. I now have a week’s vacation, but I’m not leaving town. Before I left, she said, “You know, if you’re bored, you can drop by work and see us.” She said it again before I went down the elevator. Do you think she’s hinting that she’s interested? I’d ask her out, but if she said no, it’d be weird because we work together. What should I do?

--Between A Rock And A Workplace

Guys these days will find any excuse to avoid asking women out: It’s too hot, it’s too cold, the moon’s in Aquarius, or isn’t in Aquarius, or making a move could cause a woman to have an epileptic seizure, go into diabetic shock, or start speaking in tongues. And sure, those last few are serious concerns, especially if she’s epileptic, diabetic, or has given some indication she’s possessed.

But, assuming the woman’s head doesn’t start whirling around like it’s on the spin cycle, and she doesn’t ask you to drop by for coffee in a Satan voice, a guy could make the leap that she’s less in need of an exorcist than a cute guy to take her to the movies on Saturday night. And then, in hopes of being that guy, you could make a slightly bigger leap and ask her out. That’s what’s worked since our ancestors were dragging their hairy knuckles across the African plain -- the guy pursuing the woman, that is, not waiting for a fortuitous turn of fate, like that the woman might eventually get assigned to the rocking chair next to his in the nursing home.

The notion of male pursuit got mucked up in the wake of women’s lib. Post-modern gibberish trafficking became a legitimate university career, and the women’s studies industry rose up, stuck its tongue out at men’s and women’s differing biologies and correspondingly different psychologies, and sold the fallacy that gender is merely a social construct. Suddenly, meeker guys, guys who, in the 50’s, would’ve had a simple choice -- ask women out or die alone -- got it into their heads that they might not have to, or shouldn’t have to; that they could forget the alpha male ideal and start acting like alpha plastic daisies.

Oh, but you’re not like that! This is just a workplace thing. Yes, it is. Which means you should take a wait-and-see attitude on goosing her in the elevator. But, if a woman says anything the slightest bit forward -- “We’re all going for a beer after work, wanna come?” -- operate on the assumption she may be interested. The after-work aspect gives you plausible deniability. If it goes badly, or her interest seems only friendly, you can both pretend it wasn’t a date. Or, maybe you get to the bar and she’s all “Hey, whaddya know, nobody else from the office showed up.” So, chances are, it’s either a contract murder or a seduction.

But…but…it could get weird if she says no! Yes, it could. Especially if you dress in black every day afterward and crumple up beside the copier weeping -- as opposed to seeing rejection as the price of getting dates, and each individual rejection merely as a message to be on to the next. Good things do not come to those who wait. No, good things come to those who ask. Well, most of those. Of course, if Romeo had been too wimpy to go for it, Juliet might’ve ended up alive and well -- and probably thrice-divorced and living in Cleveland.

Posted by aalkon at February 27, 2008 12:12 AM

Comments

It would be weirder if she says yes. Google for "office romance" and tally the pluses and minuses. I think the verdict is in, and it goes against dating your colleagues. Amy's right to say, screw your courage to the sticking place; but wrong to say that in this particular scenario.

Of course there are exceptions. Perhaps your colleague is "the one" and you are going to be happy ever after. Perhaps your colleague is someone from a different part of the world and you only meet once a year at a conference. Perhaps your workplace employs 5000 people. But if she's just the girl from the cubicle next door - heck, there's 3 billion others to choose from, without the baggage.

Posted by: Norman [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 1:04 AM

My advice is "don't fish off the company dock". I've seen and heard too many horror stories of people who get involved with coworkers and end up in H.R. defending/charging sexual harrassment! Not to mention the wagging tongues of other coworkers who may find out and start their own rumors. My workplace holds a seminar every spring, given by a lawyer, on workplace conduct and sexual harrassment. Companies are getting tired of paying damages for the PERCEIVED harrassment that they didn't put a stop to. It's crazy to the point of being afraid to even make eye contact with a coworker, for fear they may take it the wrong way. I'd never put my job on the line for a date.

Posted by: Jan at February 27, 2008 5:42 AM

It's a situation I call "Rule 1". Don't date coworkers. Ever. Because when the inevitable breakup comes, at least one of you will be looking for a new job.

There was a time when companies had strict anti-fraternization policies for just this reason.

Posted by: brian [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 5:50 AM

Norman and Jan are right, to an extent. I think it also has to do with what kind of work environment. If you both work in the kind of company that frowns on workplace romances, and you still pursue it, one or the other most likely will have to give up their job in order to have the relationship, if it's worth having. Other establishments might not be so hard-line, like a restaurant or something, because it'd be easier to work different shifts, although that's also been known to be a deal-breaker in a lot of relationships. Depends on the people involved, though. I've done both, and it's much easier to carry on a relationship with someone outside of your own workplace; you don't have to worry about being gossip fodder. YMMV

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 5:56 AM

The notion of male pursuit got mucked up in the wake of women’s lib. Post-modern gibberish trafficking became a legitimate university career (Amy)

LOL You're a riot. First the old fashioned "women's lib" then the swipe at post-modernism.

But…but…it could get weird if she says no! Yes, it could. Especially if you dress in black every day afterward and crumple up beside the copier weeping -- as opposed to seeing rejection as the price of getting dates, and each individual rejection merely as a message to be on to the next. (Amy)

True, men should realize that there's tons of chicks out there. Guys should try to identify the bitches early, and then move on as soon as possible. What as bitch some here will ask?

It's a woman who fails to live up to the female evolutionary ideal, the traditional woman stereotype --- something you never talk about Amy. In my view you still propagate the error that men should act like 19th century gentlemen, while women should act like 21st century feminists. I really wish you'd address that point, some time.

Also, I still think you underestimate the number of insufferable bitches out there. Since I'm pretty sure you haven't dated any women, let me offer a book suggestion. Norah Vincent impersonated a man for a year, and dated women as a man! She has some surprising observations. It would be a proxy for your lack of experience dating women.

On the other hand, you're right when you write,

Good things do not come to those who wait. No, good things come to those who ask. Well, most of those. Of course, if Romeo had been too wimpy to go for it, Juliet might’ve ended up alive and well -- and probably thrice-divorced and living in Cleveland.

Women don't seem to be made for the heavy lifting in a relationship. Some things just take an alpha male. The guy needs to buck up and ask this wench out. He may have bought into the notion of female equality at work, but the alpha female is a myth.

Posted by: Jeff at February 27, 2008 6:47 AM

Lots of good discussion about on-clock dating but LW is apparently not too worried about that. He’s just looking for some insight because he’s a clueless male and he knows this about himself.

While it’s easy for the self-employed redhead to smirk at the timidity of the cubicle-bound male it IS important to tread carefully these days. Also, modern male timidity doesn’t seem to be the issue as our hero leads off by saying he’s been flirting. And it really isn’t treacherous or cowardly to just be nice to people and see what happens. Scuttling your career or even a pleasant acquaintanceship over some potentially mixed signals is just dumb.

There is a middle ground that leaves the way open for a date without risking that invitation to the Human Resources Department that says: bring a box for all your stuff.

When she says something about missing the office while on vacation, just say something like: “I’ll miss you guys but not this place.” Followed by suggestions for times and places to get together. Get together and if there is chemistry, plunge ahead; if not, it was just a round of drinks between pals.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 6:50 AM

Jeff -- I'm not sure what your definition of traditional male stereotypes are, but I don't think women are looking for either a knuckle-dragging tough guy or for a coat to be laid across a puddle while providing for her every need. Just being the one to ask us out the first time. Once we're past that courting ritual, things can even up.

And what about a traditional female stereotype? Amy has often said a woman has to look and act like a woman if she wants to do her part in the dating field.

It seems like a pretty fair trade -- guys don't behave like the world will end if someone says "No, thanks" and girls don't walk around in frumpy sacks whining that its what's inside that counts.

Posted by: moreta [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 8:23 AM

He needs to quickly decide whether his interest in this woman outweighs his fear of the risks which may include being reminded of his failure to act. He's already put the line in the water, so he owes it to himself and her to taste the fish LOL.

Posted by: DaveG at February 27, 2008 8:25 AM

ust being the one to ask us out the first time. Once we're past that courting ritual, things can even up. And what about a traditional female stereotype? Amy has often said a woman has to look and act like a woman if she wants to do her part in the dating field. (moreta)

You know what? You're right. Amy does say that. I was projecting my frustrations onto a sympathetic party, and that was stupid.

Just being the one to ask us out the first time. Once we're past that courting ritual, things can even up...It seems like a pretty fair trade -- guys don't behave like the world will end if someone says "No, thanks" and girls don't walk around in frumpy sacks whining that its what's inside that counts. (moreta)

LOL I like your attitude. I agree, it would be a fair trade. So..ummm...are you free next Wednesday for lunch? ;-)

Seriously, in my locale, most women really are looking for guys who act like Sir Walter Raleigh while they act like Gloria Steinem on a Jamaican holiday. I'm not exaggerating. I wish I was.

Eh. Maybe I should stop taking up for these losers who don't have the balls to ask women out. I guess I kinda' feel their pain, like I empathize. Not that I have a feminine side or anything. If i did have one, I'd probably be touching it all the time.

Posted by: Jeff [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 9:47 AM

"Not that I have a feminine side or anything. If i did have one, I'd probably be touching it all the time."

Oh I am stealing that one.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 10:17 AM

You're making me hot.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 27, 2008 10:49 AM

steve martin said that - something along the lines of "it's a good thing i don't have breasts becuz i'd never leave the house; i'd be too busy playing with them."

LW, you might check out the book "Anatomy of Love" by Helen Fisher, if only for the description of women's flirting behaviors - being able to recognize said behaviors might give you more confidence as to when a woman is interested in you and wants you to ask her out. because in most cases, the woman will be flirting like hell - like it sounds like your coworker is doing - but not doing the actual asking.

i second the emotion about not dating people at work (or neighbors!). if it gets wierd it can be a real nightmare, stuff you don't want to have mixed up w/your employment and in your face every single weekday....

Posted by: trina [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 11:34 AM

to clarify what may come across as a contradiction, i think you should read up on women's flirting behaviors but then use that knowledge OUTside of the office.

Posted by: trina [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 11:41 AM

I have the book, and have corresponded with Fisher, who I also heard speak at an evolution conference. Just wish she'd speak at more of them.

I do recommend it - here's a link: Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray

Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, also by Fisher, is also good.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 11:42 AM

oh i have to share this testimonial about recognizing flirting behaviors. i have an ex (oh how many stories begin that way...) who, when we were still just acquaintances, still just in the flirting stages, that time when you both have the hots for each other but nothing is being said or done about it and it's completely torturous... it went on like this for a painful couple of months because he didn't realize, couldn't TELL that i liked him and he assumed, was CONVINCED that there was no way i WOULD like him...... even though i was flirting my ass off!! THEN - thankfully - he read an article in national geographic about mating behaviors, and to his amazement, recognized the descriptions of flirting as things i had been doing..and doing and doing...... and he realized he needed to ask me out.

Posted by: trina [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 12:03 PM

My last two relationships started at work. We just kept it to ourselves -- both lasted over three years. We really enjoyed people at work that were either hitting on one of us or commenting to the other that they'd like to hit on one of us.

I say go for it. It worked for me and my many-years-happily-married friends as well.

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at February 27, 2008 1:02 PM

Don't do it dude. Don't mix your private life with work. It's way to much risk. If things don't work out you still have to work with this chick.

If you like her then just be friendly for now. If you still like her when one of you leaves you can always give the chick a call after that. That is the upshot to all of this. Work is the perfect environment for screening out chicks. You can find out more about them in six months working with them then you can in six years of dating them.

Posted by: cybro at February 27, 2008 8:04 PM

Wow, dude – let me get this straight… For one month you’ve been flirting with a woman. In that entire month’s time, the extent of your conversation has left you unable to determine whether or not you have a serious interest in her. Yet you are concerned that if you ask her out, there may be repercussions if things go badly. Doh!

Of COURSE there are repercussions if things go badly. There could be the whole spinach in the teeth thing; there could be a conversation that, for unknown reasons, suddenly escalates and makes politicians with ugly ties look bad; there could be a case of flatulence that leaves you both stunned and trying to blame it on the non-existent dog; there could be any number of things that go bad … and glad -- that you never, EVER (thank the gods) have to see this person again in your lifetime.

But you are considering a date with a co-worker, so you need to seriously consider what you want from this encounter.

It’s really rather simple – if you have been flirting with her whilst thinking what a good fuck she might be, I would recommend looking elsewhere to satisfy your urge. If, on the other hand, your flirting has included some modicum of substance which has convinced you that you would really like to spend more time with her than a memo from the boss whizzing through the copier machine, grow some testicles and ask her out.

I’ll tell you this. I am 45 years old. Perhaps I am out of touch with how things go with younger people, but my rebellious 20-something-year-old daughter has experimented around with various dating techniques and has actually called to thank me for my perspective on things.

My perspective is this: I have never asked a man out for a date. Ever. I have never called a man during the beginning phase of the dating game. Ever. It’s been my observation that men who do not have the courage to ask women out on dates ultimately do not have the character to endure the strength of those women they do go out with.

It’s been my experience that men enjoy pursuit and that women enjoy being pursued. Only after men have successfully captured the woman, can she then have her way with them and toy with them to her ultimate pleasure – BuWAhahahaha!!!! Be afraid, be very afraid!

All that fun being said, I have never lacked for dates and I have been proposed to on more times than two hands can count. I eventually married one of them. What I’m trying to say is that I think I had a very successful dating life because …. drum roll, please…. MEN ASKED ME OUT.

For you – read what Amy said, think about it and do the right thing. If you are interested in a fling – don’t date your co-worker. If you think you are interested in something more serious then ask her out! Be prepared for repercussions if you think she’s worth the chance that there won’t be any. Geesh – how simple is that?!

Posted by: Inquiring at February 27, 2008 9:11 PM

For what it's worth, I've dated at work a little and nothing ever came of it, but there were no serious repercussions either. But there was this one guy who seemed quite nice and personable, and I was delighted when he asked me to dinner. All went well until he drove me home, and in the car during the goodnight phase he turned on the roof light and started trying to look into my mouth while asking me about my teeth and my fillings! I've never heard of a tooth fetish but he definitely had one!

Needless to say, that was our first and last date and things were a bit awkward after that.

Not offering this as a bit of the much-reviled anecdotal evidence, just sharing what I think is a funny story -- the point of which is, you never know! So go easy, unless you think the potential is worth the risk -- as was put very well by Inquiring.

Posted by: Pussnboots [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 10:36 PM

A good rule is never crap where you eat. Yes it's crude but true nonetheless. It's not a nightclub it's where you make your living.

And given the rise of sexual harassment law misreading what you think is flirtation could cost you your job, reputation, and even put you in jail. And if you do start dating and it ends (badly?) a complaint about you may still be made out of spite.

I know I'm generalizing here. I'm sure she's a wonderful woman etc. etc. And yet millions have been lost on SH suits for violations both real and imagined. Heck! Just the accusation can ruin you.

My advice is leave her the heck alone. Work is for making money. You lose that and few women will ever flirt with you again.

Posted by: Jean Valjean at February 28, 2008 12:37 AM

Just hit it already. Jesus.

Posted by: Tom at February 28, 2008 5:38 AM

Is it ok to test the water with a writer?? If she isn't interested would I get kicked off the internet?? Here goes...Amy, you're hot....I know you have a boyfriend but if he took you to Paris, I'll take you farther, to the south pole. There I said it.

Posted by: brian [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 6:53 AM

OK, there are officially too many brians on the internet.

Everyone that isn't me - get out.

Posted by: brian [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 7:11 AM

You can say I look like a dog's anus, and you won't get kicked off, as this is a free speech zone. Although I much prefer what you said, and thanks, but we're very happy, and I hate the cold.

And there are FAR too many Brians on the Internet.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 7:23 AM

It isn't sexual harassment to ask somebody out, it's sexual harassment to do something persistently after you've been told to stop. People can bring suits without merit, sure, but when I worked for big companies, right out of college, I dated in the workplace with abandon. Then again, I'm not psycho. Look before you ask at who you're asking.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 28, 2008 7:25 AM

To all of those who put forth the "don't date your co-workers" rule (which I actually agree with if you love your company and don't want to dread going to work everyday or get fired), did you see the recent Fortune magazine cover entitled "Sleeping with the Boss"?

If not, you can Google Fortune Small Business: When Marriage is in the Mix...of course, it speaks most about small business owners bedding down together.

Posted by: Helene at February 28, 2008 10:20 AM

inquiring said: "It’s been my observation that men who do not have the courage to ask women out on dates ultimately do not have the character to endure the strength of those women they do go out with." YES YES YES so true and thank you for saying so. if they expect the woman to make the first move, they're also, in my experience, going to expect her to make all the decisions and plans later in the relationship, and generally take care of EVERYthing while they are passive bystanders, and thereby not culpable for anything that may go wrong.

there are a lot of people who are saying that dating at work does/can be ok - TRUE, but this guy has said he is concerned that if he asked her out and "...if she said no, it’d be weird because we work together." if he's uncomfortable with THAT, my guess is he wouldn't be able to handle working with her when/if she becomes his ex. i think both people have to be pretty confident and strong for that to be comfortable.

Posted by: trina at February 28, 2008 11:04 AM

trina said:
"if they expect the woman to make the first move, they're also, in my experience, going to expect her to make all the decisions and plans later in the relationship, and generally take care of EVERYthing while they are passive bystanders, and thereby not culpable for anything that may go wrong."

Heh, while true in many circumstances that also sounds like a lot of "modern" women these days. He takes the "lead" as it were but they want their say. Then make sure the guy is on the hook for all the responsibility should things go wrong. Most of those women are the ones who believe in "equality", either the feminist (women are superior) type or even many of the actual "equality of opportunity" types. Why am I as the guy having to do all the work in the courtship? Why am I paying always? I'm the only one who should take a risk?

As for the LW. He doesnt sound meek rather than stupid. As other wise folks have said, don't fish off the company pier. These days its not a mere annoyance in the fallout of failed fornication, its possibly career/life ending. Be polite, be courteous, and only talk about work.

I dont care if naughty nancy shows up at my cubicle as nekkid as the day she was born, bouncing up and down with pom poms asking if I'd like to go for long walk to the broom closet. I'm saying no thanks. Odds are it'll end badly and I'll be out of a job. That or sour sue will stop by at the same time, see that I've popped a boner due to nancy's blatant advances and charge me for sexual harrassment of her and nancy.

Posted by: FP at February 28, 2008 12:59 PM

It’s been my observation that men who do not have the courage to ask women out on dates ultimately do not have the character to endure the strength of those women they do go out with. (inquiring)

Um. Why should your strength be something a man has to "endure" unless you are turning it against him. In which case, the fellow should dump your ass immediately. Not because he's weak, but because he has some self-esteem and you're a bitch. Who wants to take a competitor on a date?

It's been my experience that women who don't pursue aren't interested. True, there are coquettes, but these days American women just aren't sexually subtle enough to reliably pull that off. Italian and Chinese women are experts at it, though.

Pursuit must be mutual. For a man, anything else is like paying a prostitute who doesn't put out.

Should a man ask first, sure, maybe for the first few dates even. Should the woman start taking an active role after that. Yes.

I dump early and often women who aren't giving. This has freed me up to spend time only with women who are actually interested in me. This one area where male and female dating is not in accord. All we ever hear is how to maximize women's dating prospects. But what about men? sure you can spend lots of money and time with women who will never be giving, loyal, and sexually available. But why in the hell would a man want to spend any time with a woman like that?

I've lived in the UK, Hong Kong, and briefly (under a year) in Italy, and I've traveled all over Europe. In every other culture I've encountered, men ask women out as a matter of course --- but not in America. Why? The American men I know, even timid mathematical geeks, very quickly learn to engage women when they leave the country. Why?

Ladies, a modest proposal: maybe it's you. Or at least maybe American women are doing something to turn off their men. Just give it a fair thought. Or you can call me a 'misogynist,' if that's the best you can do.

I can tell you my experience. About 60% of the time (just a rough anecdotal estimate) the woman flirting with you, is completely uninterested beyond the next drink you can buy her. the ladies here will deny this, but one hears often women openly discussing doing this kind of thing. Women think it's funny, clever even.

In Europe and Asia, when you get signals from a woman, about 60% of the time she really is interested. In my experience, American men hesitate to approach American women because they want more evidence, because they've been mislead so many, many times by duplicitous women.

And I have to say. Although Amy is a fair advocate, I still see no recognition that dating approaches do in fact differ between men and women. No recognition that what's generally in a woman's best interest may not be generally in a man's best interest.

Maybe Amy could comment on the differences she's seen in France and the US.

Posted by: Jeff at February 28, 2008 8:44 PM

"Pursuit must be mutual. For a man, anything else is like paying a prostitute who doesn't put out."

Awesome.

Posted by: Tom at February 29, 2008 5:47 AM

Men in France pursue you. It's wonderful.

And there are a lot of men who can't deal with women who have a lot going on. Men have to be secure with themselves. I've dealt with this. Gregg, luckily, found the idea that I'd be intimidating rather hilarious -- because he's a guy-guy from Detroit. He is introverted, but was interested enough to overcome that and ask me out. A friend of mine told me the same thing about her husband. When she told her husband's sister, a good friend of hers, that he was calling her every night, the friend almost didn't believe her: "X doesn't call anyone," she said.

It's not a woman's job to ask a man out. It's a woman's job to flirt and let the guy know she's interested. Then he asks her out. It's a dance, and there's a balance. And what's "fair" or what feminists say should be doesn't matter in the slightest. Men have many times more testosterone than women do. Men are the biological aggressors. The fact that Gloria Steinem wore bunny ears and there are sicko feminists like Diana Russell who say "Most marital sex is rape" doesn't change 1.8 million years of evolved psychology.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 6:52 AM

Jeff -- I agree there are a lot of women out there who do play the game you talk about. I've seen them too, and I've never understood (or liked) them. You suggested a lot of ladies here would deny they exist but I think it would be more accurate to say a lot of ladies here will deny they are one of them. Amy attracts a certain readership, and they aren't the flaky, princess types.

When I meet a woman, I can judge pretty quickly whether she's princess or genuine and make a call whether she's friend material. Why can't men do the same?

Of course most of my experience is with Canadian women and we've just hit a million people, so I guess we're relatively small town here.

Posted by: moreta [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 7:46 AM

It's not a woman's job to ask a man out. It's a woman's job to flirt and let the guy know she's interested. Men have many times more testosterone than women do. Men are the biological aggressors...doesn't change 1.8 million years of evolved psychology. (Amy)

I feel like the women here evade my questions. Maybe I'm not being clear. I'll try to do better.

Areas of agreement: I stipulate that men are more aggressive. I stipulate the validity of most evolutionary psychology. I stipulate

(1) What evidence do you offer that women aren't fit by evolution to pursue dominant males? (notice I wrote 'pursue' not 'prefer')

(2) What evidence do you offer that men are fit by evolution to prefer women who don't pursue them?

(3) What does evolutionary psychology say that men prefer in a female mate? (notice, here I wrote 'prefer' not 'pursue') What does this say about how males should approach dating?

(4) Are evolutionary behavioral patterns between male and female always cooperative or are they sometimes competitive? If so, which ones? If so, then shouldn't dating advice reflect the differences?

I've read most of the books you have, and I think you tend to leave out as much evidence as you posit. Set me straight.

Men in France pursue you. It's wonderful. (Amy)

Do you think there's a difference between male pursuit behaviors in the US and France? If so, why?

Posted by: Jeff at February 29, 2008 7:53 AM

When I meet a woman, I can judge pretty quickly whether she's princess or genuine and make a call whether she's friend material. Why can't men do the same?

It's a good question, and thanks for the sober, reasonable response.

Norah Vincent impersonated a man for a year, and dated women as a man. Here's one thing she wrote about it:

Not only was dating one of the hardest of Ned's experiences, it was also the most fraught with deception. I decided I would out myself to anyone with whom I had more than a passing, unsuccessful, date or two. To most of the women I dated, even the odd date meant a lot, especially women who had been out roaming the singles scene for years in their mid-30s, trying to find a mate amid the serial daters.

For these women, men as a subspecies - not the particular men with whom they had been involved - were to blame for the wreck of a relationship and the psychic damage it had done them. It's hardly surprising, then, that in this atmosphere, as a single man dating women, I often felt attacked, judged, on the defensive.

Men can't judge women's intentions as well as a woman for two reasons: (1) women are more duplicitous around men, and especially around men who are romantically interested in them, and even more especially around men in whom they are interested; (2) men often err by assuming women are just like them.

(1) is supported by evolutionary psychology, and (2) by everyone's anecdotal experience.

Posted by: Jeff at February 29, 2008 8:11 AM

"When I meet a woman, I can judge pretty quickly whether she's princess or genuine and make a call whether she's friend material. Why can't men do the same?"

Because they're too busy staring at her tits. They judge women solely on looks then whine about the person behind the pretty face.

Posted by: JoJo [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 9:09 AM

They judge women solely on looks then whine about the person behind the pretty face. (JoJo)

Totally true.

Posted by: Jeff at February 29, 2008 9:17 AM

"...Because they're too busy staring at her tits. They judge women solely on looks then whine about the person behind the pretty face..."

It's true. Men are all the same. We're just disgusting horny lowlifes and we'll hit anything that moves.
So, got any plans for this evening?

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at March 1, 2008 8:50 AM

Gog, I wasn't taking about all men, I was talking about a specific subset of men who don't give a rat's ass about the person inside, go out only with hot slutty chicks then whine that she's shallow/stupid/greedy/bitchy/etc.

I feel no sympathy for someone who chooses girlfriends solely on the size of her bazooms.

Posted by: JoJo [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2008 12:11 PM

I agree 100% that men and women are biologically different and thus the traditonal courting/mating rituals make sense.

But in some respects, men and women are so similar that it's hilarious. Men are naturally drawn to beautiful women, and women are naturally drawn to confidant men. Men are so distracted by beauty that they have a hard time judging a woman's character, and women are so distracted by confidance that they have a hard time judging a man's character. Many men will end up in relationships with beautiful, fake bitches, and many women will end up in relationships with cocky, self-absorbed assholes. Then men and women alike blame the opposite gender for their supposed bad character and low morals.

I do it too. I'm not saying I'm above it just cause I recognize it. But it IS funny.

Posted by: Jes [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2008 2:04 PM

But in some respects, men and women are so similar that it's hilarious. Men are naturally drawn to beautiful women, and women are naturally drawn to confidant men. Men are so distracted by beauty that they have a hard time judging a woman's character, and women are so distracted by confidance that they have a hard time judging a man's character.

These are not similarities, but differences. They are similar simply in that they are strong, evolutionarily driven preferences/drives in each.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 1, 2008 2:24 PM

"Men are all the same. We're just disgusting horny lowlifes and we'll hit anything that moves."

I hear this all the time - mostly from men! :-)

Posted by: Pirate Jo [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2008 4:08 PM

I guess some guys don't want to take any responsibility for their actions, so they use this "I'm a horny lowlife" as their out.

Something that happens to me all the time is a guy trying to pick me up while his date/wife/girlfriend has gone to the bathroom. I go to the local pubs sometimes, sit and read and have a beer, and I can always sense which guys are checking me out. I make a point of ignoring guys who are with a woman, but these guys keep looking and the first chance they get they either come over and give me their phone number, or ask for mine. It just happened to me again last night. All it does is make me think what a slut the guy is, on top of being disrespectful their date. They're never young good looking guys either...

Posted by: Chrissy at March 2, 2008 7:36 AM

Back to the actual letter, a very important thing to consider is how large is the company you both work for? A small office with 10 people will make it much more awkward if she says no. However, if you work in a large office, it'll be easier to let the die-down time go by. Since you mentioned an elevator, it's probably a larger office.

Like Amy said, make sure it's a casual thing when you ask her out. If necessary, arrange a group outting yourself. Or even better, get with her to arrange a group outting - you ask the guys, she asks the girls. It's an indirect way to ask her out that saves face for everyone if she's not interested.

Posted by: Kelly [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2008 9:46 AM

I'm not suggesting the guy throw her up against the wall and tongue her in the elevator!

Yeah, people can sue over anything, even a nonchalant compliment about your shoes, but I think too many people get caught up in hysteria about sexual harassment suits. I mean, look at the person you're interested in. Does that person seem like a psycho? If so, shop elsewhere.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2008 10:00 AM

*I guess some guys don't want to take any responsibility for their actions, so they use this "I'm a horny lowlife" as their out.*

Well, if all you're meeting are slimeballs that hit on you while their date is in the can, I can see where you'd get that idea.

But I know exactly what you mean, because I've had guys hit on my dates when I'm living la vida lavatoria.

Have you considered going over to the woman and asking if she's dating the shmuck and knows what he's up to? Your patented Shmuck-O-Vision could help the blind amongst the sisterhood.

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at March 2, 2008 3:49 PM

We're just disgusting horny lowlifes and we'll hit anything that moves. (Pirate Jo)

Yes. Men will take women up on easy pussy. Women will take men up on easy money. But there's a chasm between normative and prescriptive statements.

Men should be more discriminating about who they fuck. Women should be less selfish when dating. Guys should ask first. Women should reciprocate. Pursuit should be mutual.

These are not similarities, but differences. They are similar simply in that they are strong, evolutionarily driven preferences/drives in each. (Amy)

IMHO, the existence of those powerful drives doesn't support your advice to men on some aspects of dating. I've been specific about my questions.

Yeah, people can sue over anything, even a nonchalant compliment about your shoes, but I think too many people get caught up in hysteria about sexual harassment suits. (Amy)

That's because you are a woman, and therefore unlikely suffer under one. Sexual harassment law is a double whammy: subjective and draconian.

Posted by: Jeff at March 2, 2008 6:45 PM

"... sexual harassment suits ..." - never had one of these. But I have had security breaches. They're no fun at all.

(Apologies for inappropriate humour. Now, back to the topic.)

Posted by: Norman at March 3, 2008 12:28 AM

"*I guess some guys don't want to take any responsibility for their actions, so they use this "I'm a horny lowlife" as their out.*

Well, if all you're meeting are slimeballs that hit on you while their date is in the can, I can see where you'd get that idea."

Actually, I was just coming up with a theory on a previous comment by Gog., as to why guys would take say this.

I personally meet lots of guys, nice ones, cute nerdy ones, funny ones, and slimeballs. Because I have developed some people skills and am able to see both women and men for what they are, I avoid the slimeballs, and CHOOSE to socilize with the nice ones.

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 3, 2008 6:26 AM

"But I know exactly what you mean, because I've had guys hit on my dates when I'm living la vida lavatoria." I have had guys hitting on my wife pretty regularly while I was in the can. Now I know exactly where this comes from and the guy doesn't have to be a slime ball. It's a fairly stupid practice called a resident cock block. The wife and her buddies go out with on or two of us to keep the other guys away. Now some guys have figured this trick out and that's where it gets dicey for all. How do you tell the trained clock block from the boyfriend. The absolute worst is when it is group of women going out and some are single, fucking confusing.

I have to agree with Jeff about the girl just interested in a free drink. I get fairly pissed at her when she mooches free drinks from guys at bars when out with the girls. However with only a few exceptions it appears to be gay men, they are more interested in where she shops than anything else. The worst being when a guy asks her for MY number. It's a lot more confusing in the US than in other countries.

Now I also have no problem buy a girl a free drink or three cause I actually finally after year of ass rape under academia can. It's kind of an ego boost knowing I can blow $140 to drink with someone I have no intention of sleeping with, fun company is always nice. Just remember that's how Amy paid for breakfast I believe.

To the LW if it's only about doing the horizontal pole rotation don't do it, not at work. Now if it's more than a fun fling and your not married (you'd think this could be assumed and you'd be wrong) tread slowly. Make sure you have some physical distance between yourself and her at work. If you work in the same or adjacent cubicles then don't do it. Try to probe the waters gently, the group work outing sounds good, make yourself the DD. It might be good if you had one drink at the start of the night preferable with her, you would be buying. If she offers to buy the first round read nothing into it. If she offers to buy YOU a drink your golden, make that your one drink of the night. Make sure you socialize and don't spend your whole night talking to her, at least not till the end. How to behave once you've reached the end of the night would best be advised by one of the ladies.

However as a boss I'd fire which ever one of you is higher ranking (or both) once the whole thing got uncomfortable. You would both likely suffer productivity wise if it started to fall apart and that costs me money, which pisses me off.

Posted by: vlad [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2008 6:38 AM

"Have you considered going over to the woman and asking if she's dating the shmuck and knows what he's up to? Your patented Shmuck-O-Vision could help the blind amongst the sisterhood."

A lot of the sisters live in denial, so it would be my word against her perfect and saintly date, who would of course deny everything, and tell her that I was coming onto him, not vice versa. Besides, I checked out his date-she was in her mid-40s so should know better. If she were 20 and looked naive, I would think of maybe saying something, but once anyone (male or female) is over 30, I don't have any patience with them being stupid.

And on the subject at hand, don't shit where you eat. I would never consider dating anyone where I work, or even in the apartment building where I live. There's too much at stake, and plenty of other guys in the world to date which won't screw up my source of income, or make me move.

Posted by: Chrissy [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2008 9:41 AM

Have to disagree with the "if she buys YOU a drink you're golden" comment.

This was the classic trick I used to avoid getting myself into a situation where I felt like I owed the guy something, while simultaneously avoiding actually telling the guy.

I rarely accepted drinks from guys I was interested in. I NEVER offered if I was interested, unless we were already on a date. Then I would offer to pay, so as not to look like an asshole, but politely accept when he offered to treat.

Accepting gifts was my signal of interest.

Posted by: Nicole at March 4, 2008 8:40 PM

About ten years ago, I was working at a large, well known financial corporation that I won’t name. A woman in my department was having sex on a regular basis with our boss. A guy in another department politely asked her if she’d like to go for coffee sometime. She complained to the Human Resources department and they promptly gave him a stern talking to and a written warning.

At a retailer I worked at briefly, a guy in one department repeatedly asked a co-worker out and she repeatedly said no. Finally, she complained to HR. He was fired and banned from ever working for that corporation again in any capacity. Additionally, he is, of course, unable to receive a recommendation from the company at which he worked for fifteen years so his working life and career are finished.

I would never - I repeat NEVER, as in not ever, as in no effing way - never ask out a woman I work with. The risks are astronomical and the rewards are…what, exactly? I buy drinks, dinner, etc., for someone who I may not even wind up liking much or dating longer term? Per one of Amy’s recent columns, maybe I wasn’t breast fed enough or was breast fed too much but in any case that doesn’t seem like a good deal to me.
In American society right now, women have ALL of the power in male/female relationships. Amy, you can call men nutless losers all you want but that simply proves that even with your humor and perspective you don’t have a clue what it’s like to be a man in America in 2008. American women have reached a level of regal arrogance and privilege that is, yes, threatening and creepy as well.

Posted by: DF at March 10, 2008 7:12 PM

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