DEAR MISS MANNERS: Three years ago, upon my return home from a year away, I happened upon a tall, handsome man at an afternoon picnic who looked very pleased that I had arrived and smiled at me. I did not encourage him.
After two sordid attempts to reconcile with my ex-husband, I realize that I would like to get to know the tall, handsome man a little better. As it would turn out, he’s an acquaintance of my ex-husband. Does this mean he’s off-limits forever?
Friends have suggested I ask him out. My philosophy has been that a woman should never ask out a man – I believe that doing so may set a disappointing precedence for future dynamics. I’ve put my efforts the past year into becoming as healthy, fit and happy as I possibly can, as I am hoping to simply become irresistible.
Well, five men except he have pursued me. He still hasn’t asked me out – but he flashed me that smile again two weeks ago.
Now what? I believe I must keep focusing on my educational goals and health commitments, but really – do I just keep hoping? I simply refuse to ask him out.
GENTLE READER: Refusing to initiate a date is not a philosophy, Miss Manners feels obliged to tell you. Stoicism, existentialism and sophistry are philosophies. Dating strategies are not.
Fortunately, mere tactics can be altered without the necessity of re-examining the meaning of life. As you seem to encounter this gentleman socially, see if you can turn those smiles into some sort of conversation. If you can get to an impersonal topic, you can then say, “I’d love to hear more about what you think, but I suppose this isn’t the place for a prolonged conversation.”
If he wants to pursue you, as you put it, he will make a suggestion. If not, it may be that he considers the former wife of a friend to be off-limits.