“Why didn’t he ask me out?” I get this question all the time from my female friends, seeking a male perspective. The conversation was amazing, sparks seemed to be flying, and then—nothing, nada.
The popularized belief is that if a guy is interested, then he will make it abundantly clear by asking for your number, texting you, or just flat-out telling you. If he doesn’t, then he is “just not that into you.”
Sure, this oversimplification might help women have closure and move on from murky, gray waters, but it doesn’t give my female friends credit for their intuition that, yeah, there was some serious attraction happening.
As a guy who has been in the dating scene for a while, I can speak on behalf of my fellow men when I say that it takes more than merely liking a girl to ask her out. Life happens, and I think in many cases, it is the guy (not you) who feels like he “needs to get things in order” before being ready to date—no matter how much he may like you.
These guys generally fall into four categories—and over the years, I’ve fallen in a couple of these categories myself. And if you’re a single woman out and about in the dating scene, chances are, you’ve definitely met some of us.
01. Mr. My-Heart-Is-Broken
I remember meeting this amazing girl in college. She was joyful, her laughter was infectious, and talking with her was incredibly easy. The only problem: My heart was broken.
It can take men a while to work out their emotions. If they’ve recently left a relationship or been turned down by someone they really liked, it can become even more difficult to move on. In my situation, I felt that there was just no way around it. Until I had recovered from this past relationship, I could not see myself asking someone else out, no matter how amazing she was.
Can I give him a nudge? You can’t, really. Time is the only healer for heartbreak, and I would never tell any woman to wait around for this guy. Plus, jumping into a date during the recovery process could be bad for both parties and ruin a potentially great future relationship down the road.
02. Mr. Bu$iness and Mr. Busyness
Guys can often approach dating in an extremely practical manner. We frequently bring up “time” and “money” as issues, often citing work, school, family matters, or straight-up just being way too busy as reasons why we’re not asking anyone out.
There are two truths buried deep inside these excuses: a guy’s need to feel secure before dating and a desire to give a great girl the time she deserves.
“I just started law school and have next to no money,” one friend laments. Like many of us, he feels he must be financially set or at least have some money set aside so that he can be more active in the dating scene.
As for the time-crunched guy who feels stretched thin because he travels too much for work or is burdened with some other time-consuming stress, he can feel like he just doesn’t have the energy to invest in a woman he likes.
Can I give him a nudge? It can be tough to get this guy to have a paradigm shift (impossible for some), but remember that some of the greatest romances begin with the simplest of means. See if he’s up for coffee or something low-maintenance. But, remember, if you feel like his mindset isn’t changing and he’s set on not dating, don’t waste your time.
03. Mr. Glass-Half-Empty
When I asked my male friends what holds them back from asking a girl out, especially a girl they think is great, one of the first responses I received was that they didn’t know if she was really interested.
There is a constant struggle for self-worth in our culture today, and guys are not immune from that. Many of the men I talked to felt that they either misunderstood the signals the girl was sending or that there was no way they could be worthy of such a great girl.
This is nothing new to the world of dating. A 2013 study found that men more accurately interpreted male nonverbal cues than female. In another study, scientists found that men were more likely to misinterpret when a woman was sending signals that she was interested than when she was sending signals that she only wanted to be friends.
Not only that, but from personal experience I know it is easy to think: How could such a great girl be interested in me?
Can I give him a nudge? If you think he is interested, and you want to counteract this gloomy male outlook, try using some more obvious verbal cues. It can be as straightforward as stating the obvious by saying, “Hey, I really enjoyed spending time with you.” Yep, that simple.
04. Mr. Down-in-the-Dumps-Rejected
I’ll let you in on a little secret. We usually think that men fear rejection. But what men really fear is the way rejection makes them feel.
When a man has been turned down in the past, the feeling from that rejection can linger for weeks, months, or maybe even years if it was really bad. Some men feel shame, disgrace, humiliation, or even a sense of being unworthy or unattractive. Presented again with the opportunity to ask a woman they like on a date, those feelings can begin to reemerge.
Guys do not consciously process this when talking with a woman they are interested in. “I realize later that it’s as if my brain is disconnected,” says Jason, an undergraduate college student in the Washington, D.C., area. “The conversation is going great, but something inside me is holding me back. It’s as if those past experiences have trained my body to avoid any future chance at being rejected and experiencing those same feelings.”
Can I give him a nudge? It’s hard to know if a guy you just met is psychologically scarred like this, but you might want to try giving him a compliment or straight-up suggest a date idea. But more often than not, this guy might need to make a change on his own before he’s confident enough in himself to be in a relationship.
We’re Simple Creatures, Except When We’re Not
As much as we may like to say how “simple” and “straightforward” we are, the reasons why men ask or do not ask women out rarely ever are. Maybe it comes from our pathological need to fix things, or maybe it simply takes us longer to understand that we are interested—but for most men, there really are certain aspects of our lives that must be “fixed” before we begin dating. And even the most beautiful, intelligent, kind-hearted girl in the world isn’t going to get us to move unless we’re in the right mindset.
So if you find yourself in this situation again, questioning whether he was really interested in you or if you are worthy of him, stop questioning and remember that your worth does not depend on how many dates you’ve been on or how many guys may or may not have asked you out. Frankly, many men are oblivious to how not asking out a girl they like makes her feel. Sorry for that.
It may seem like the cliché “it’s not you, it’s him” excuse, but there is actually a lot of truth in that.