Hello, lovely reader. How are you? Would you care for a glass of Berocca?
There’s a very nice pub near my house which my friends and I have nicknamed Hanging Gardens of Babylon, mainly because it has the best beer garden in the entire metropolis. Last Thursday evening – despite the fact that it had been half-heartedly snowing all day – my friend and I decided to sit in said beer garden and have a jolly good catch up.
Wrapped up warm and clasping our pints, we endured the wintry weather by distracting ourselves with chat, and by militantly turning the outdoor heaters back on whenever they timed out. After a while the conversation turned to our love lives and it transpired that my friend had recently met someone. Sort of. In her own words, she thought that “maybe there might be a sort of thing perhaps but not really oh I don’t know it’s complicated stop looking at me like that Vicki”. I don’t know what she’s talking about, by the way. I’ve never given anybody a look in my life.
Anyway, the long and the short of it is that the chap clearly likes her and has been trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to ask her out on a date via a popular social media messaging platform. (For the record, lovely reader, it turns out that you can message people on Instagram. Did you know that? I had no idea.) When I suggested that she take the initiative and ask the guy out herself, her first question was “can’t I wait for him to ask me out?”
I had two problems with this. Firstly, what the hell is this “waiting” nonsense about? The friend I am talking about is an absolute marvel. She has found herself great jobs, created huge projects and been promoted umpteen times because she has always had precisely the opposite attitude to waiting around: she knows how to get things done. Once she has decided that she wants to achieve something, she flipping well works her socks off until she achieves it. This is a quality in her that many people love and admire, and her refusal to twiddle her thumbs and hope for the best is precisely what makes her such a powerful woman. So why does she want to wait around to be asked out?
Secondly, this friend of mine was blithely ignoring the fact that the poor guy had been trying to ask her out for several days and that she had wilfully pretended not to notice. Some people – most of us, if we’re honest – would rather ignore a whole bunch of signals than risk looking foolish by jumping even the tiniest distance from enormous hint to obvious conclusion.
Sadly, I think that a lot of us feel this way when it comes to emotional risks. It is easier to wait and hope that the other person will be brave, never saying or doing anything that has any implications whatsoever, for fear of looking foolish and being exposed as someone who feels things. The chap in question clearly felt this way and had been hoping that my friend would bite the bullet. I suppose it doesn’t help that the metaphors we use for being bold are so violent: jumping the gun, biting the bullet, etc…
I know that succeeding in life and at work are not the same as being successful in love. If you work hard at a diet then you will get healthier, for example, whereas there is no such guarantee when it comes to relationships. Feelings are tricky bastards. Having said that, if everyone sits around waiting for someone else to say something then nothing will ever get said. The person who “loses” the waiting game is the one who is brave enough to speak up first. So who is really the loser?
It took me a solid half hour to convince my friend to ask this guy out, and I had to threaten her with some dreadful stuff just to make her consider it: refusing to buy my round, for example, which is not a tactic I enjoy resorting to. When she did eventually send the message, she immediately downed her pint and called me all sorts of names, which was absolutely fine. But then she asked me another question: “what if he says no?”
And here we reach the heart of the matter. What is the worst that can possibly happen if you put yourself out there and declare your true feelings? What horrendous, life-ruining, earth-shattering consequences arise from risking rejection? Obviously you lose your job, your friends abandon you and your ears fall off. That’s how it works, right? No? Interesting…