I asked my high school crush to the prom. I didn’t want to go alone and I was always the kind of girl who went after what she wanted. When I did, I usually won. Why would guys have been any different?
He said yes. We colored coordinated our ensembles. His tie and the pinstripes on his suit matched my dress. He picked me up in his daddy’s shiny Suburban. We went to PF Chang’s and had the beef and broccoli with brown rice. He paid and complimented me on my earrings and my shoes. Then we went to the Westin Hotel to party it up with the senior class.
“I think I’mma hit up some afterparties with my boys. But it was a great night!”
He dropped me off at my girlfriend’s house where I spent the night. She was a junior and didn’t attend the prom. I watched from her second floor bedroom window as he drove away in that big ass Suburban.
Most people get laid on prom night. I got a lesson.
“Well, he never hinted that y’all were ever more than just friends. From now on, you should let him chase you.” I’d heard that all my dating life and once again, my friend was telling me to let him do the work. He never did. I was kind of hoping that prom night would spark an Alicia Keys-style teenage love affair. After all, I had been in high school love with him since we were both freshmen. But all that time, even after he agreed to take me to the prom, I had totally been Biz Markied. Indeed, I was just a friend.
I haven’t talked to him since we graduated from high school. While I’m glad he didn’t try to fulfill an American Pie fantasy and then decide that we were just friends, this scenario made me wonder about grown-up dating dynamics.
For some women whose go-getter attitudes have made them successful in other aspects of their lives, the concept of the chase might be hard one to grapple with. Even if we wish to shirk the patriarchal presets that seem inescapable in the dating world or even if we couch our assertive (or, for some, aggressive) attitudes towards dating as a means to skip the game-playing, maybe the old-school rules do apply if for no other reason than this: The chase eliminates confusion.
I recently met a man at a bar and I thought that we were vibin’ somethin’ serious. He texted me his number and when I told him about my blog, he looked at it on his phone. He said he was impressed. We chatted for about 45 minutes over my lemon drop and his liquor. I thought he’d be a potential suitor.
He never called. Neither did I. I wasn’t looking for another male buddy or business associate and lately, I’ve done as much as get on a man’s radar, appear open and available, then let him come the rest of the way. Had I asked him out for lunch or drinks, I might have wasted a good dress and then wondered, “Okay, so am I in the friend zone? Is he being polite? Is he gonna call? How do I know he likes me?” If a woman knows what she wants, then maybe it is better to know from the jump if a dude is not interested.
“But I shouldn’t have to do all the work.” I’ve heard that from many male friends a time or two. Logically, it’s a fair argument. Guy chases a girl who ‘s playing hard to get and he never really knows if she has romantic feelings for him. “Is she just being polite? Is she using me?” Another old adage applies here: It takes two to tango.
In matters of life and dating, when does the chase give way to the dance?