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"Why don’t more guys ask women out?" This is the frustrating question that my female friends frequently wrestle with after a night of meeting new people, but coming home without having been asked on a date by anyone.

My two cents? Fear of rejection.

Fear of rejection is the number one reason a man who might be interested won't approach a woman or go a step further and ask her on a date. In fact, when I asked eight men what their biggest hang up is, and every guy I spoke with—and I mean every guy—commented that fear of rejection and lack of self-confidence are the main reasons they don’t ask women out.

I was proud of these guys for saying it. They owned up to the fact that much of our floundering dating culture today is one we men need to take some initiative toward improving. I'm sorry to say it, but if a guy is just too insecure to ask a woman out, there's not much you can do.

But every once in a while, even for the most confident and ready-to-date man, there are certain things that can make him immediately backpedal from a date proposal. So if it's not fear of rejection, what else could be holding guys back? Here are some examples.

Closed-Off Circle of Friends

Guys are nervous enough to ask a woman out, but surround her with a bunch of her friends and it can be an immediate obstacle—one that guys don’t always know how to smoothly navigate.

The first problem with the closed-off circle of friends is that it isn't very welcoming to newcomers. "When I try to join in on the conversation, I am constantly wondering if they think I am creepy for approaching them," James says.

James also explains that he has a hard time asking a girl for her number if he can't get her alone for a moment. "Girl circles are impossible to navigate," he says. "How am I supposed to ask her out when her friends are staring us down? I don’t want to make her friends feel bad because I ask her out and not them."

Even for guys who overcome their fear of rejection and want to take the initiative, women in groups can be intimidating. So when a guy walks in to the room, and you catch his eye but he doesn’t immediately come over, extend an invitation. Feel free to say, “Hey, we have a question for you,” and invite him to join the group. It breaks the tension, and makes the man feel welcome. If he is there for another reason, then he’ll keep the conversation short and move on. But if he is up for meeting new people, now he has the opportunity to join the circle.

Disinterested Conversation

Men have a bad reputation for being shallow and only interested in looks when it comes to who they choose to ask on a date, but this isn't completely fair. Sure, we are initially drawn to beauty (aren't we all?), but for most men, conversation is key. Men know that without good conversation the relationship isn't going to go anywhere. And on the flip side, a lack of conversation or seeming disinterest will immediately kill his incentive to ask you out.

"Have you ever been about to ask out a girl and then done a complete 180?" I asked men. Their response was an overwhelming yes.

“She kept taking out her phone to text,” Chris told me. “Immediately that tells me she is more interested in what is going on somewhere else than in getting to know me.”

The more a woman reciprocates and engages the man in conversation the more likely he is to ask her out. “Ultimately, your marriage is going to be your best friendship, and good conversation is one of the best indicators that turns on the lightbulb in my brain saying, ‘Hey, I should ask this girl out!’ Michael explains.

Bad Body Language

Last year I wrote about how recent research suggests men have a tougher time picking up on women’s nonverbal cues and body language. There are some instances where it impacts guys so much that they might even shy away from asking a woman out.

“I think a lot of people don't realize that they're not smiling,” Eric told me. “When a woman smiles a lot or smiles at me, that makes her more approachable; it makes me more likely to ask her out.”

This goes both ways. Body language affects both men and women. I am living proof of this one, and more often than not I am the culprit. I can’t tell you how many times I have had good female friends who later in life told me that they were very intimidated the first few times they met me. Trust me, men are not immune to that classic female trait of RBF, you know, "resting b---- face." I've definitely been guilty of it. That and my naturally quiet demeanor sometimes gave off a “serious” and “intimidating” vibe, my friends would say.

The important thing to remember is that when it comes to helping guys feel encouraged, you don't have to do anything beyond being your best self. The next time you think something is holding him back, smile and be friendly, welcoming, and conversational.

So when Mr. Right gets over his fear of rejection and plucks up the courage to come over and ask you out, here’s hoping there is nothing else standing in the way of what will hopefully be a long and happy relationship.

Photo Credit: The Kitcheners