Fortunately, there’s a simple way to make the first move without getting aggressive or into a game-playing tailspin. “If you like someone, ask him or her to coffee. Keep it simple and light at first, and this will make it easier to ask,” Dr. Sbarra says. “Don’t think of it as a date. It’s just coffee.”
What exactly is “simple and light?” No matter how much you know you shouldn’t think you’re asking someone on a date, that date word will be seared in the back of your head. “It’s all about how you say it, and how you say it can change how you think about what is and what is not an actual date,” Sbarra says.
Here’s Dr. Sbarra’s super-chill guide to asking someone out on a non-date:
1. Make it about you, not you two.
“For subtlety, focus on yourself,” Sbarra says.
Example: I was going to grab some Starbucks later today, would you like to join me?
“In this sentence, I am doing something, and you are joining me,” Sbarra explains.
2. Avoid date-y language.
Talking about the two of you sounds the date alarm.
Example: Hey, we should go check out that new Japanese restaurant.
“The ‘we’ in this sentence instantly makes it a date,” Sbarra says. We’re mincing words here, but that’s what makes it the delicate art of asking someone out without them knowing it. Think this sounds too much like game playing? Waiting around and playing hard to get when you want to get to know someone is far more cunning and exhausting.
3, Invite him to do something you’ll already be doing.
Simple and light, remember? You’re not going out of the way to plan anything elaborate.
If you cook at the soup kitchen every Sunday, tell him you could use an extra hand. With an afternoon chopping onions, you’ll laugh (and cry!) more than you would on a strained dinner date. By the day’s end, you’ll also know if you even want him to take you on a one-on-one next time.
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