Do you know why he won’t ask you out? You like him too much.

So, Rowan took it upon himself to blog an answer to the question he gets most often (“What camera should I buy?“).

Taking his initiative for my inspiration, I’ve decided to try answering a question it feels like I’ve been hearing a lot over the last few months, namely, “Why won’t he ask me out?”

Well, okay I can’t write the answer, but I can at least offer one possible angle.

When Rowan and I were first getting to know each other, I went and sat in on an IPS course. I was working just out side the classroom when Rowan walked in and said, “Here catch.” and tossed me what I’m pretty sure was a Canon EOS 70-210mm F4.0L lens –a camera lens worth over $1,500.

I, of course, freaked out.

That’s how the guy feels when a girl likes him too much. He sees her under-handing her heart at him from across the room and thinks, “Why is she throwing her heart at me before she even knows if I’m capable of catching it? And what makes her think I’m going to know what to do with it even if I do?”

And to the really good guy (you know the one I’m talking about: godly, mature, insightful, the one you know is going to make a great husband and father) as he watches that heart come sailing through the air, several well placed questions start to form a queue in his head.

  • “How much prudence does this girl lack to be pulling a stunt like this?”
  • “How much wisdom is absent from her gorgeous head that would compel such an insanely stupid action?”
  • “After this spectacular show of indiscretion, would I even want to ask her out? Or a bush in my yard have to burn and insist we start dating?”

So the whole room sits in stunned silence watching this poor heart follow its trajectory and land splat on the floor.

What happens next is possibly the funnest set of exchanges in western interpersonal communication. Everyone in the room looks at the mess on the floor, then at the poor girl who tossed it, then at the bewildered guy who didn’t catch it and they shake their heads at each other muttering,

  • “That guy is an idiot.”
  • “Men are so clueless.”
  • “That’s why marriage in America is on the rocks: men just won’t step up and show initiative.”

On the other hand, if the guy is generous and socially reflexive, he may catch it and try to give it back to her, making those around him say

  • “Wow, what a jerk.”
  • “I told you! They just don’t work as a couple.”
  • “He should not have strung her along like that.”

The problem is the girl is so head-over-heals for him that he can’t get to know her without also having to sign a 30-year lease. He fears that if he says, “Hi”, she’ll say, “I do!”

Relationships, Poker and Why He Won’t Ask You Out

From what I can tell, romantic relationships are a negotiation. For negotiations to continue, both parties have to feel equitably invested. But if one party has put everything they’ve got into the deal and the other party hasn’t even signaled that they’re interested in investing, the whole thing is going to collapse.

And that’s why he won’t ask you out. He doesn’t want to sign up for something that’s already failing.

What I love about poker is that you can quit (or “fold”) at any time. You are never obligated to keep playing. If it gets too weird for you, you just cut your losses and walk away.

That’s an annoying option when you’re the one holding a winning hand because if the other players are not equally confident in their hand, they’ll bail on you.

The same thing happens in relationships. You think you’re looking at a winning relationship, so you bet everything. But if he’s not equally sure, then he folds.

This is usually the part where the story gets sad. When the guy senses that a relationship has gotten too rich for his blood, he walks away. But the girl isn’t ready for the hand to be over, so she keeps investing –adding more and more to the pile in the middle of the table, not realizing that she’s the only one still playing.

And that’s when she’ll sit across the table from me and, with an exasperated sigh, ask, “David, you’re a guy, why won’t this guy ask me out?”

The answer is pretty simple: you like him too much.

A Different Way to Think About It

But the situation isn’t hopeless. In fact, I’d like to humbly suggest two ways to think about the situation. Firstly, you really don’t want him to ask you out and secondly, you need to try loving people before you date them.

1. You Don’t Want Him to Ask You Out

Assuming everything I’ve written above accurately describes the situation you’re in, then you really don’t want him to ask you out.

I mean, do you really want to date a guy who isn’t as crazy about you as you are about him? It may have been that, given enough time, he might have seen “something there that wasn’t there before” and found the spark that you’d known was there all along.

But that shipped sailed when you went all in. As it turns out, if you’re going to be Carly Rae Jepsen then you don’t get to be Paige O’Hara. Sorry about that.

You screwed up the bid and he walked away. That’s how it should be. Please just be grateful you’re not in a relationship with a guy who isn’t sure he wants to be there.

2. Try Loving People Before You Date Them

We are always in relationships. From the moment you meet someone, you begin a relationship with them. The closeness you have to that person is just a gradient scale from that point on.

So, what are we supposed to do with all of those relationships? Simple. Love them.

Writing to Timothy, Paul says, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim 1:5)

Writing to the church at Colossae, he says, “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Col. 3:14)

The Apostle John writes, “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…” (1 John 3:11)

The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let love of the brethren continue.” (Heb. 13;1)

And Christ Himself, when asked what the greatest commandment was, basically said Love God and love people, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-38)

And as Jesus headed to His for-ordained death, he turned to His disciples and said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35).

As Christians, we are biblically mandated to love. It is not an option. The love we have for each other shows people that we are genuine, bona fide disciples of Jesus.

The problem is, we’re so busy trying to be in a romance, we don’t have the time nor the inclination to be in a relationship.

We want so badly to have that “can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over- the-fence, World Series kind of stuff.” that we’re willing to believe Dean Martin over St. Paul.

Dean says love is “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie”;
Paul says love is “is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,”

Dean says love is “When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine.”
Paul says love “does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

Dean says love is when “Bells will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling
And you’ll sing ‘Vita bella'”
Paul says love, “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;”

Dean says that love is when “Hearts will play tippy-tippy-tay, tippy-tippy-tay Like a gay tarantella”
Paul says love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Dean says love will “make you drool just like a pasta fagiole.”
Paul says, “Love never fails”

These are the two end of the spectrum. One uses people like crack so I can get an emotional high; the other sees people as God’s loved and fallen creation in need of redemptive, godly love.

I should mention that Rowan really didn’t throw a camera lens at me. He threw a coffee thermos that was designed to look like a camera lens. The stupid thing only cost about $15.

And If we’re honest with ourselves, that’s what we do, too. We’re not really throwing our heart around, we’re throwing around cheap imitations that are designed to keep our superficial and consumeristic longings warm.

On the other hand, if we want robust, God-honor relationships that will last through the many trials and storms that will come our way, than we simply have to make sure that there is no difference between our spiritual life and our love life.

That means we have to stop crushing and start praying. We have to stop flirting and start serving. We have to stop consuming and start growing. We have to want less death and more life.

In other words, we have to change what we love so we can change how we love.

The only way to do that is to receive God’s love, then wisely and inimitably share it with those around us. So we start loving God, He starts loving His creation through us. And that’s a love that we can and should give over and over and over again –without needing anything in return.

Freely we receive; freely we give.

And from that place of content generosity, we can begin truly life-giving relationships, and many more life-given friendships and yes, possibly find a “significant other”.

14 thoughts on “Do you know why he won’t ask you out? You like him too much.

  • January 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm
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    I would just add that it’s scary to just start loving people instead of trying to get something out of the relationship. If you’re only investing without regards to the outcome – and without trying to manipulate the other person into the response you want – there’s no guarantee you’ll get a significant other. You may just end up with a bunch of really good friendships as you watch all your friends (who, it seems, have manipulated their situations and loved with agendas) end up with what you want: a spouse. It takes humility, servitude, and a WHOLE LOT of faith to let go of relationship agendas and just trust the outcomes to God. It’s more rewarding, for sure; but it’s really scary at the same time. (Hey, does that mean that relational agendas are cowardly? I never thought about it like that.)

    • January 22, 2013 at 5:44 am
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      Hey Charity! Good to hear you from you!

      “Manipulation” is exactly the right word, but I’m not convinced it’s bad.

      We live in the intersection between divine sovereignty and human responsibility (just two quotes from Proverbs about that a few days). So in a sense, I don’t really have a choice but to manipulate something when I put my hand to it.

      Plus, Jesus Himself doesn’t love agenda-free. He makes it quite clear that he wants His love for us to do something in us and through us. And we should want the same thing.

      I think the real problem is our relational myopia. We see exactly two possible out comes for a relationship: Marriage or not marriage.

      When every interaction is filtered through that grid, it’s no wonder we don’t have room for God’s grid.

      That being said, I do think that relationships that are completely superficial and flirty are cowardly. That hits it exactly on the head. And that should really make us consider: Do I care for them as a person or do I care for them a check mark on my bucket list?

      • January 28, 2013 at 7:07 pm
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        I noticed the other day that the “love God, love others” verse comes as a response to the question, “How do I gain eternal life?” It made me think of your statement that Jesus loved with an agenda. So basically, the end of the matter is: We need to love with Jesus’ agenda in order that we and others might gain eternal life. That makes crushes and “ooh, why doesn’t he ask me out”s seem infinitely petty.

        At the same time, I still would like to go on a real live, not-with-a-girl date for my 30th birthday.

        I’m so glad God loves me despite my pettiness. :-)

        • January 29, 2013 at 6:53 am
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          Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more. When it feels like your entire life’s future is in the balance, it doesn’t feel petty. And I might argue it actually isn’t. I think our romances become petty when they aren’t tightly tied to a robust spiritual life. It’s a tough truth to keep in front of you, that’s all.

          And I hear you on the 30th birthday thing. For what it’s worth, reading through the Psalms, I’m again challenged by how God wants us to be honest with Him.

  • January 21, 2013 at 11:51 pm
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    This is fantastic, David! You write so well. thanks for sharing :)

    • January 22, 2013 at 5:45 am
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      Hey friend, thanks for your encouragement! Say ‘hi’ to the folks back home!

  • January 22, 2013 at 1:18 am
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    David Knopp, I miss the thoughts from your head space, but i am dreadfully glad you continue to honor God by sharing them with those who need solid, godly advice.

    • January 22, 2013 at 5:50 am
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      Hi Posie! You’re very kind. Thanks for stopping by!

  • January 22, 2013 at 6:53 am
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    Hey David,

    I am so glad you shared your thoughts on this topic. They were very insightful and well spoken (Written). I agree with everything you said. The question, However, that seems to be more pertinent in the circles I frequent is more about balance than not leaning to the extreem. What I mean is, many girls who were raised conservatively grew up with this fantastical idea of sitting in our castle turrit awaiting the arrival of our Heaven-sent prince who would take us away (preferably around the ages of 18-22), marry us, and then we would start raising the next godly generation. The problem is many of us so raised girls begin getting more out in the world and we realize that this method is only going to keep us trapped in a distant tower, because all the princes, godly or otherwise, are down in the village living and serving and often have no clue that beautiful maidens are hidden in towers.

    But, These kinds of girls also know that being the avantgarde female who takes control and pursues relationships is both non-advantageous to having a strong godly husband, and tastes of a personality that most of us just do not get. Thus many many girls are left wondering how to strike a balance.

    We are afraid that if we put ourselves out there we will do just as you described above, and if we hide no one will find us. Do you, being a guy, have any advice for these girls? This is a topic of ongoing discussion in my neck of the woods and some thoughts from the other side might be helpful.
    Do you think there is a way to strike that balance, to be friends yet make it known that if he were to make a move you would open to that, but are not going to pursue anything else unless he perused it?

    • January 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm
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      Hey Jo!

      Thanks for your comment! I totally hear you and the sentiment you’ve expressed is a pretty common frustration.

      Let me think about it a bit more and I’ll get back to you.

      Hope you’re school year is going well!

  • January 31, 2013 at 10:19 pm
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    You ask us to not submit to romance so quickly that it is rendered fake: the rush of incredibly good feelings right up until the crash when it proves to be without foundation. But perhaps the most painful is that despite our good intentions and desire to love as God wants, the crush is what we know. We are not taught HOW to love a person we are attracted to as our neighbor, or as Jesus would love. We are taught to flirt, to try harder, to give more. Show us the next step. Teach us HOW to do it. We want to.

    • February 3, 2013 at 6:48 am
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      Julie, when you first said “submit to romance”, that took me aback for a minute. Because the poor woman I had to “let down” last week used similar language of initial resistance and eventual surrender, even though I was not consciously pursuing her except as a friend and collaborator; in fact, she was initiating most of the contact. So if “submitting to romance” means submitting to a guy’s advances, that’s something quite different than what the original post was envisioning, although the girl could imagine such things.

      Then I thought of the language I’ve used of “submitting to temptation” to lust after videos online. It’s giving in to an addictive feeling. And it clouds the judgment and makes me try to excuse myself by imposing a figure outside myself to which I try not to submit to. In reality, this “temptation” or “romance”, when we talk about it thus, is taking the place of Jesus in our lives. He’s the one we should submit to and think most about.

      It may be true that someone is teaching girls to “flirt, try harder, and give more.” But at least one secular dating coach, whose newsletter accidentally got into my inbox, says the way for a girl to get guys to commit is by having fun with lots of people and by keeping her dignity, playing kind of hard to get. So this kind of advice is out there, believe it or not.

      If I could give any advice on how to love, based on my experience above, it’s to give with no hidden strings attached and to be nice indiscriminately, not just to the guy you like. That way, if he pulls back, there’s no need to divide up the property or cancel projects. And that way, he can see that you actually have a level of love and joy that stays in you, not something that’s manufactured just for “the right guy at the right time”.

      Make it clear by your actions that you forgive people when they fail or when they hurt your feelings. Don’t hold grudges or always gossip against one person in particular.

      Find ways to serve others. Let him know when he can help with that. Maybe get him in some conversations about life, even in a group setting, and see what he’s thinking about the important questions. Figure out how he makes decisions, where he’s headed. What his needs are, and how he is growing spiritually. Be a friend, and let him make any next moves.

      Tricky business, but worthwhile, I think, if done from decent motives, and with good boundaries and honesty.

  • February 1, 2013 at 11:23 pm
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    David, this article is fantastic. I read a lot of “biblical” relationship advice that… honestly… I feel is crap. What you’ve written here is awesome, and I’ll probably be referring many a friend to it, of whom I think will greatly benefit

  • February 6, 2013 at 9:22 am
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    David,

    This post is excellent. I wish I had read it when I was one and twenty. I have learned a lot of this stuff the hard way, which is not a good way of loving God or loving people… Thanks for taking the time to write this. I hope your words will sink deep into the hearts of all who read them.

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