As an introvert, people-watching is one of my favorite activities. I love to go to my favorite coffee shop down the street from my office and watch the flutter of caffeinated people around me. I was sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops a few weeks back when I saw something so rare, I couldn’t help but stare and watch it unfold.

A single woman, about 70 years old, embracing her gray hair and rocking her red glasses, sat down to her cappuccino and a good book. A single man, roughly the same age and owning his plaid and sneakers did a double take when he saw her. It was a very obvious double take, I might add, but the woman was clueless – as most women are when trying to blend in and thinking they are going unnoticed to the world. But what happened next made me smile.

The man went right up to her and said: I know you just sat down to your book but I would love the opportunity to get to know you. You seem interesting and like someone I would enjoy talking to. Would you mind if I joined you?

She blushed like a middle school girl talking to her crush and set down her book. While she respectfully declined as she was meeting her friend, she thanked him for asking and said that she would be happy to talk with him another time, and that she was grateful he approached her.

I have to say, these strangers impressed me. 70 year olds know how to flirt better than anyone I’ve seen in my own generation. We have become the texting generation where few know how to truly communicate beyond cell phones, and often “dates” are found on tinder. We’ve stopped talking and reaching out to one another. We’re afraid to get to know another person we might find interesting or cute.

Now, unless a friend introduces us or we have a previous connection, meeting people is almost strictly for those with liquid courage (alcohol) or on the Internet. Why approach somebody new when you can swipe right on Tinder and hope they talk first instead of you? Why have a public conversation when you can stay silently in your own safe bubble and text without fear of not knowing what to say next right away like a normal conversation?

Dating might as well be dead. But I have to admit, I know I’m part of the problem. Just as I watched the older couple in the coffee shop and thought to myself, I want that – I want to be approached by a nice guy who asks to get to know me. I don’t want to be glued to my phone hoping for a text or a snap chat from a cute guy I’ve hardly spoken to in person but have had deep personal conversations with via text. No sooner had I thought this when I looked up and saw a guy my own age walking towards my table to talk to me, seeming brave as he smiled in my direction hoping for a response or encouragement to approach. And what was my immediate response? I hid my head in my phone in a panic and realized: I am the problem.

It’s a two way street. Men no longer feel they can confidently approach a woman without being shot down for a simple date. Women no longer know how to respond to a man actually being a man and asking for a date. But it’s just that: a date! It’s not contract for a long-term relationship. It’s not a hook up. It is (or should be) just a chance to get to know each other one-on-one. There doesn’t need to be all the pressure we put on it. Maybe the date will go well and there will be others. Maybe there won’t be another and that’s okay too. The point is, you were brave enough to ask or to say yes.

So if you’re reading this, I want to give you a challenge: Go outside your comfort zone. Put down your IPhone and get to know someone new. Men, be brave and ask someone you’d like to get to know for coffee or a date. Women, be open to the ask and kind with your answer. It takes a lot of courage to ask a beautiful woman like you on a date. It’s one date: just say yes!

In dating, you’re either going to break up or get married. Do you want your story to be that you both swiped right on Tinder or that you were both brave enough to step out of your comfort zone and get to know someone new?

Comments

comments