Ask Nicci: Is this a date or are we hanging out?

By Nicci Sprouse
From the September 20, 2012 edition

I have had a crush on this girl I work with for a while now. I recently found out she got a new job so I figured it was safe to ask her out since we will no longer be working together. I asked her to “go see a movie and hang out.” We are going out on a Saturday night but I have no idea if she thinks it’s as friends or a real date. What can I do to make sure she knows I am not interested in being just friends? – Mike

Don’t fret Mike, your challenge will be interpreting her cues and turning this crush into chemistry. The good news is that you have a lot to work with, since what’s important is that she agreed to go out with you.

Actions speak louder than words. Show her this is a date and act like a gentleman. Don’t just offer to pay — go ahead and buy her ticket and snacks. Think a step ahead and be early so you have time to talk in the theater.

Pay close attention to her cues and body language. Before the movie starts, take advantage of your time and be attentive. If she declined your offer to pay her way or gives you other negative cues, you may be just hanging out. But if by the end of the evening the vibe is good and she’s receptive to you, tell her right then you’d like to see her again.

Always set the stage for your intentions when asking someone out. Worst-case scenario for you Mike is you have a new friend to hang out with, and we can all use more of those.

I went out with this guy last week and could not get a good read on him. I was certain he wasn’t interested by the end of dinner, but then he surprised me by asking for my number. It’s been a week and I haven’t heard from him. I get it now. He probably had no intention of ever calling me. Why do guys do that? – Ellen

Number swapping and never calling should not be standard dating protocol, people. I hear these stories all too often from clients and singles I interview whose instincts were proven wrong because they were misled. This is a big pet peeve of mine!

Guys: If you ask for a girl’s phone number with no intention of ever calling her — stop it! By asking for her number you get a free pass out of an awkward situation, but in reality you’re leading her on. She assumes she made it to Round 2 — a second date.

Sparks won’t fly on every first date, and your exit strategy should not signify otherwise. When the chemistry isn’t there, don’t feel compelled to ask for or take a number. Be polite and thank your date for a nice time and be on your way. Trust me, parting ways as friends and never speaking again is OK.

Remember Columbus is a small town and your reputation will follow you. I suggest you don’t worry too much about this guy, Ellen. You will find better guys out there and if you and this date cross paths again you’ll know exactly what to think of him.

∙ Nicci Sprouse is the owner of a local dating service. Send your questions about love and relationships to infoasknicci@gmail.com. Or get in touch through her website, asknicci.com.