For many people, confronting a wild bear on a camping trip is preferable to asking out someone they’ve been crushing on. If this sounds familiar, you are totally not alone, and you're not a coward.
After all, you’re making yourself emotionally vulnerable with someone whose opinion you highly value. While there’s always the potential for things to not work out as planned, the ultimate reward — dating someone you seriously dig — is totally worth it.
We spoke to several relationship experts and life coaches to help you work up the nerve to ask your future bae out.
Don’t put a ton of pressure on the idea of date itself
Listen, we’re not all working with a "Bachelor" budget here. Not to mention having an evening filled with a lavish meal, private band, or fireworks is just way too much pressure to put on a first date.
“Don’t make it heavy or intense,” says Dr. Fran Walfish, relationship psychotherapist and author. She suggests something like an invite to a concert or movie you already have tickets to, a lighthearted activity; or even grabbing a quick bite at your favorite coffee shop.
Be direct and concise
You know how when you have your eyes set on a cupcake and, once you get that cupcake in your hand, nothing else matters but the cupcake? Take the same approach to asking out your crush. Forget about things going on in the periphery; focus on your crush, and keep things direct and concise.
“Beating around the bush will only make the task more difficult,” says Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a relationship therapist. “Strike at the heart of the matter, [and] don't backtrack or blabber on. That will only complicate and dilute your intention.”
Not only will clarity help your crush know your exact intentions, it’ll make you look and feel confident.
Don’t stifle your emotions
On that same note, Dr. Hokemeyer says you should “realize there's an inverse relationship between your emotions and intellect. The more emotional you feel, the less your intellectual brain will function.”
Instead, give in to your emotions.
“Utilize your humor, your nervousness, and your humility to deliver your intentional message,” he urges. “It will color your request with charm and grace — two incredibly attractive qualities.”
Use your history as a starting point
If you’ve known your crush for a long time, it can be even more nerve-wracking to ask them out. What can help, though, is referencing the history you’ve shared. For example, Dr. Howard says you could say something like this:
“I know we have known each other for years, but something has changed for me and I would love to take this friendship to a new level. I’d really like it if you’d have dinner with me Saturday evening as my date. What do you think?”
Flattery can take you far
Who doesn’t love a good compliment? Whether you’ve known your crush forever or for a short time, a date proposal speckled with flattery is always good. It demonstrates why you want to spend additional time with that person while making your crush feel truly valued and special in your eyes. To come across as genuine, Dr. Howard says to think of, and express, a characteristic or quality that really draws you to your crush.
If you can tell that your crush is vibing on you, or has even already given you a yes, don’t be afraid to get flirty. Breaking the physical barrier with a hug or an arm rub can relieve nervous tension — lots of smiling helps make both parties feel comfortable, and again, compliments and flattery are always a good thing.
Be OK with a "no"
It’s hard to think about rejection when you’re already nervous, but being OK with "no" before you ask your crush out can actually empower you.
“You need to bolster yourself for the possibility of rejection,” says Dr. Walfish. “There are many reasons why someone might turn down your overture that have nothing to do with you personally. For example, your crush may be involved in another relationship, or getting over one, or you simply may not be his or her cup of tea.”
She adds that having plenty of resilience will help you spring back more quickly and try again with someone else who may be a better match, personality- and timing-wise. “Determination and drive are key ingredients in finding your best fit,” she says.
Know you’re awesome
The reason we’re telling you to be authentic and real and to not shy away from your emotions is because you’re awesome. Don’t forget it.
“Remember all that you have to offer — who you are, how attractive you are, and how much people have enjoyed being with you in the past,” says Dr. Howard. “Remember how your friends love you and how lovable, smart, fun, and adventurous you really are.”