7 min read

Do you know why he won't ask you out? You like him too much.

So, Rowan took it upon himself to blog an answer to the question he gets most often (“What camera should I buy?“).

Taking his initiative for my inspiration, I’ve decided to try answering a question it feels like I’ve been hearing a lot over the last few months, namely, “Why won’t he ask me out?”

Well, okay I can’t write the answer, but I can at least offer one possible angle.

When Rowan and I were first getting to know each other, I went and sat in on an IPS course. I was working just out side the classroom when Rowan walked in and said, “Here catch.” and tossed me what I’m pretty sure was a Canon EOS 70-210mm F4.0L lens –a camera lens worth over $1,500.

I, of course, freaked out.

That’s how the guy feels when a girl likes him too much. He sees her under-handing her heart at him from across the room and thinks, “Why is she throwing her heart at me before she even knows if I’m capable of catching it? And what makes her think I’m going to know what to do with it even if I do?”

And to the really good guy (you know the one I’m talking about: godly, mature, insightful, the one you know is going to make a great husband and father) as he watches that heart come sailing through the air, several well placed questions start to form a queue in his head.

  • “How much prudence does this girl lack to be pulling a stunt like this?”
  • “How much wisdom is absent from her gorgeous head that would compel such an insanely stupid action?”
  • “After this spectacular show of indiscretion, would I even want to ask her out? Or a bush in my yard have to burn and insist we start dating?”

So the whole room sits in stunned silence watching this poor heart follow its trajectory and land splat on the floor.

What happens next is possibly the funnest set of exchanges in western interpersonal communication. Everyone in the room looks at the mess on the floor, then at the poor girl who tossed it, then at the bewildered guy who didn’t catch it and they shake their heads at each other muttering,

  • “That guy is an idiot.”
  • “Men are so clueless.”
  • “That’s why marriage in America is on the rocks: men just won’t step up and show initiative.”

On the other hand, if the guy is generous and socially reflexive, he may catch it and try to give it back to her, making those around him say

  • “Wow, what a jerk.”
  • “I told you! They just don’t work as a couple.”
  • “He should not have strung her along like that.”

The problem is the girl is so head-over-heals for him that he can’t get to know her without also having to sign a 30-year lease. He fears that if he says, “Hi”, she’ll say, “I do!”

Relationships, Poker and Why He Won’t Ask You Out

From what I can tell, romantic relationships are a negotiation. For negotiations to continue, both parties have to feel equitably invested. But if one party has put everything they’ve got into the deal and the other party hasn’t even signaled that they’re interested in investing, the whole thing is going to collapse.

And that’s why he won’t ask you out. He doesn’t want to sign up for something that’s already failing.

What I love about poker is that you can quit (or “fold”) at any time. You are never obligated to keep playing. If it gets too weird for you, you just cut your losses and walk away.

That’s an annoying option when you’re the one holding a winning hand because if the other players are not equally confident in their hand, they’ll bail on you.

The same thing happens in relationships. You think you’re looking at a winning relationship, so you bet everything. But if he’s not equally sure, then he folds.

This is usually the part where the story gets sad. When the guy senses that a relationship has gotten too rich for his blood, he walks away. But the girl isn’t ready for the hand to be over, so she keeps investing –adding more and more to the pile in the middle of the table, not realizing that she’s the only one still playing.

And that’s when she’ll sit across the table from me and, with an exasperated sigh, ask, “David, you’re a guy, why won’t this guy ask me out?”

The answer is pretty simple: you like him too much.

A Different Way to Think About It

But the situation isn’t hopeless. In fact, I’d like to humbly suggest two ways to think about the situation. Firstly, you really don’t want him to ask you out and secondly, you need to try loving people before you date them.

1. You Don’t Want Him to Ask You Out

Assuming everything I’ve written above accurately describes the situation you’re in, then you really don’t want him to ask you out.

I mean, do you really want to date a guy who isn’t as crazy about you as you are about him? It may have been that, given enough time, he might have seen “something there that wasn’t there before” and found the spark that you’d known was there all along.

But that shipped sailed when you went all in. As it turns out, if you’re going to be Carly Rae Jepsen then you don’t get to be Paige O’Hara. Sorry about that.

You screwed up the bid and he walked away. That’s how it should be. Please just be grateful you’re not in a relationship with a guy who isn’t sure he wants to be there.

2. Try Loving People Before You Date Them

We are always in relationships. From the moment you meet someone, you begin a relationship with them. The closeness you have to that person is just a gradient scale from that point on.

So, what are we supposed to do with all of those relationships? Simple. Love them.

Writing to Timothy, Paul says, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim 1:5)

Writing to the church at Colossae, he says, “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Col. 3:14)

The Apostle John writes, “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…” (1 John 3:11)

The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let love of the brethren continue.” (Heb. 13;1)

And Christ Himself, when asked what the greatest commandment was, basically said Love God and love people, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-38)

And as Jesus headed to His for-ordained death, he turned to His disciples and said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35).

As Christians, we are biblically mandated to love. It is not an option. The love we have for each other shows people that we are genuine, bona fide disciples of Jesus.

The problem is, we’re so busy trying to be in a romance, we don’t have the time nor the inclination to be in a relationship.

We want so badly to have that “can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over- the-fence, World Series kind of stuff.” that we’re willing to believe Dean Martin over St. Paul.

Dean says love is “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie”;
Paul says love is “is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,”

Dean says love is “When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine.”
Paul says love “does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

Dean says love is when “Bells will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling
And you’ll sing ‘Vita bella'”
Paul says love, “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;”

Dean says that love is when “Hearts will play tippy-tippy-tay, tippy-tippy-tay Like a gay tarantella”
Paul says love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Dean says love will “make you drool just like a pasta fagiole.”
Paul says, “Love never fails”

These are the two end of the spectrum. One uses people like crack so I can get an emotional high; the other sees people as God’s loved and fallen creation in need of redemptive, godly love.

I should mention that Rowan really didn’t throw a camera lens at me. He threw a coffee thermos that was designed to look like a camera lens. The stupid thing only cost about $15.

And If we’re honest with ourselves, that’s what we do, too. We’re not really throwing our heart around, we’re throwing around cheap imitations that are designed to keep our superficial and consumeristic longings warm.

On the other hand, if we want robust, God-honor relationships that will last through the many trials and storms that will come our way, than we simply have to make sure that there is no difference between our spiritual life and our love life.

That means we have to stop crushing and start praying. We have to stop flirting and start serving. We have to stop consuming and start growing. We have to want less death and more life.

In other words, we have to change what we love so we can change how we love.

The only way to do that is to receive God’s love, then wisely and inimitably share it with those around us. So we start loving God, He starts loving His creation through us. And that’s a love that we can and should give over and over and over again –without needing anything in return.

Freely we receive; freely we give.

And from that place of content generosity, we can begin truly life-giving relationships, and many more life-given friendships and yes, possibly find a “significant other”.