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This is my first question on this stack, so anything I can improve in this question, just comment on it.

The story so far:

About two weeks ago I found a girl online that sparked my interest, and because of that I would like to date her, if we end up growing fonder of each other.

She is my type but I'm insecure if I'm hers. We've been talking everyday about every topic that comes to mind, no holds barred. We play online games together with friends or just the two of us. We have different sleep schedules at the moment, and most of the time she insists that I have to be awake as long as she is, too.

Today I followed a friend's advice and simply asked her if she wanted to have coffee, to which she replied, "I'm too lazy to leave home".

The thing I want to find out, as I always sucked at reading love signals and I struggle a lot with insecurity, is how should I approach her with the objective of telling her that "I want to have a girlfriend in the future; you are really interesting. Do you want to go out to know each other more?"

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    You say you met her online. Have you ever met in person? Do you live in the same area? – Studoku Jan 2 '18 at 17:44
  • @Studoku I haven't met her in person, that was the purpose of going out for coffee. I work near her and we live around 25Km apart – diomonogatari Jan 2 '18 at 17:46
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    To clarify: you don't want to ask her to be your girlfriend just yet, but you want to explore the idea of dating each other to see if you're compatible? Are you thinking this process would involve casual dates with no commitment, or spending time together as friends, or something else? – Kat Jan 2 '18 at 22:57
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The best way to ease into dating is by setting up some activities that you will both enjoy in and of themselves, rather than activities that hinge on your enjoying each other's company.

The most traditional "dates" (getting coffee, getting a meal together, etc.) are set up as opportunities to talk to each other. In your case, you may want to start one step back from that, though, since the two of you have never actually hung out in person and online interactions can be quite different from in-person ones.

Look for activities or events that appeal to your shared interests --- things you think both you and she would probably like to go to whether or not you were going together. For example, maybe going to a gaming tournament? Or seeing a movie* you know you're both interested in? Would she like doing a locked room puzzle with you and some friends, or playing paintball, or laser tag, or hiking? Check to see if an author you both like will be in town for a book signing, or if there's an exhibit at a local museum that would appeal to you, etc. You get the idea. No matter what, you should phrase the invitation as something that will happen with or without her, but you'd love her to join (e.g. "Hey, some friends and I are going to go hear Neil Gaiman when he's in town next week. I know you love his books --- wanna come?"). That makes it clear that you're not inviting her on an actual "date", just looking to hang out doing something fun with people you enjoy.

Here are the advantages of inviting her to a strongly activity-focused hangout rather than a conversation-focused one:

  1. It is less clearly a "date", which would take pressure off both of you. She might be more likely to accept an invitation to a non-date hangout; if she's not sure whether she's interested in you romantically or not, she may be leery of leading you on if she accepts an invitation to something that sounds like a date.
  2. No matter what you're doing, if you do an activity for a couple hours with her, you'll get a chance to get to know her a little better and see if you want to keep moving toward the dating stuff. You don't need to spend two hours in private conversation to start to know someone.
  3. Even if the two of you don't really "click" in person, there's a good chance you'll still have fun if you're doing an activity you both genuinely enjoy. That might take some of the awkwardness out of deciding to go back to "just friends" afterward if one or both of you don't want to date.

A good activity-focused hangout should have something for you both to "do" other than just talk, ideally it should have clear start and stop times, and it should be something you're both interested in for its own sake. Depending on the personalities of you and this girl, you may also want to make it an event with more people than just the two of you (invite her to something with your friends, or invite her to bring her friends along). Having more people there helps to clearly communicate that it's not a date, but it can backfire if she's the type of person who would be stressed/overwhelmed by meeting a bunch of people at once.

If you successfully set up a time for you to hangout like this, great. See how things feel and if you want to keep getting to know her better, keep inviting her to these low-stakes hangouts. As you both feel comfortable doing so, you can add more "private" time before or after (e.g. "Hey, there's a really neat-sounding exhibit at the museum right now. Wanna go? There's a cafe I like right by there, so we could stop and get lunch afterward, if you like." or "Awesome Band is playing at cafe on Friday. Wanna meet up at your work and walk over there together?"). In this way, you can slowly build up your in-person friendship. And eventually, if you both want to, you'll be able to make a smooth transition to more date-y dates.

*While a movie might work, it also has some "baggage" as a date activity, and she might interpret an invitation to a movie as implying that you'll do some snuggling etc. in the dark, which she (or you) may or may not be up for yet.

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    Been doing this since I asked this question, we're building a nice friendship and I notice that she treats me somewhat differently with me than with other friends. I know differentiation can be good and bad but that's my next "task" to find out which one is it. – diomonogatari Jan 9 '18 at 12:09
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    @diomonogatari Great! Congrats on building your friendship. I think your "go slow and pay attention to signals" attitude will serve you really well. Best of luck! – Rose Hartman Jan 9 '18 at 14:41
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Most dating is "try dating" in the beginning. When you're in the "getting to know you" phase of things it's normal not to have a huge level of commitment, you're just getting to know the person to see if things click.

This, of course, means being vulnerable... You're putting yourself out there without any guarantee that things will turn out the way you would like. Unfortunately this is pretty much unavoidable. It's not as if guarantees made in the very early stages of dating can be called upon later if things don't go well, so you have to take the chance of getting hurt anytime you start a new relationship or get to know someone new.

The thing to ask yourself is "Is it worth it?"

Is taking the risk of putting your self out there and not having your feelings reciprocated worth exploring a relationship with someone? Or is it worth getting to know someone, knowing that there's a chance that things won't work out?

Is it really better "to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"? I tend to think it is, but that's a question that you have to find your own answer to.

  • @diomonogatari If depression is something you struggle with it may be worthwhile to seek professional help, partners/dates won't fix that for you. Dating may help you feel better in the short term, but depression is often much more deeply rooted. – apaul Jan 2 '18 at 18:01
  • It is not something I struggle, it is something that I consider a possible future by the way I am getting more vulnerable to strong sad feelings. – diomonogatari Jan 2 '18 at 18:03
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I say what is the worse that can happen. Better ask then never find out is how I see it. We all been rejected before once or twice and survived it (that is likely the worse that could happen). Maybe she likes you but doesn't know what your intentions are?

This is just my personal perspective but I would say maybe talk more and get to know her and get a feel for her interest level and take it from there.

I think that you don't have a lot to lose if you try to find out where you stand, rather than developing feelings and dragging it out longer without knowing how she feels and getting even more hurt in the process.

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found a girl online

asked her if she wanted to have coffee, to which she replied, "I'm too lazy to leave home"

Sounds like a seclusive person with fear of commitment. "Too lazy to leave home" actually means "I'm scared to meet new people. Without a screen between us it is coming to close". This is also known as relationship anxiety, and is fairly common. I don't have exact figures, but I'd say about a third of the US population suffers at some point in their life from relationship anxiety.

To find out whether she is scared to meet you ask her "Are you scared to meet me? There is no harm done in getting a cup of coffee, right?" This might have her reconsider her response instead of sweeping aside your request with an automatic response like "I'm too lazy". Also using open questions like "What kind of coffee do you like?" can help to open her up to you. It is not a scary question, but it's already getting you closer together by sharing your interests and likings. She doesn't need to lie or joke about her answer either.

An effective psychological technique is using the three-yesses question pattern. After getting two yesses from your conversation partner move in the target question. It is best to be used somewhere in the middle of the conversation. For example:

you: What kind of coffee like?

she: Chocpresso with whipped cream.

you: I've never had that. Where can you get it?

she: I always make it myself. [she is seclusive]

you: Can you teach me?

she: Sure! [she starts typing this and that]

you: [now comes the crucial point] Ooh, that sounds interesting. Do you often make it?

she: Yeah, mostly when I'm feeling down.

you: [now the finishing blow] Would you like to make me a Chocpresso some time?

she: [it can go either way now, but you're hoping for..] Yeah, sure. I'm too lazy to leave home anyway.

Don't worry about it if she drinks drip coffee, the general pattern will work too.

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About two weeks ago I found a girl online that sparked my interest"

Today I followed a friend's advice and simply asked her if she wanted to have coffee, to which she replied, "I'm too lazy to leave home".

So have you seen her in the physical world? Perhaps you should first verify that she exists as a woman, with the physical appearance and age she put up online.

For security reasons, you may want to try to talk to her through online video, such as through Skype, where you can follow the topics you have discussed. If she refuses, you can be more cautious, especially on monatory issues. Otherwise, Rose Hartman's advises would do.

  • I feel like it almost answers the question, but it probably should be rephrased to focus more on what to say, or how to say it, with the "security issue" being one aspect of it instead of the focus – Maxim Mar 7 '18 at 22:44
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    @Maxim Well, that's a roboticist's description: if !video_chat; caution++; else; call(Rose_Hartman_advises). Feel free to rephrase it. – zyc Mar 8 '18 at 0:11
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Today I followed a friend's advice and simply asked her if she wanted to have coffee, to which she replied, "I'm too lazy to leave home".

Am a female. I would like a direct approach from the guy, as follows:

Greetings,
The reason I asked for a coffee with you is that I like you as a person and I feel we share common interests. I am interested in knowing more about you in person.
I understand that it is difficult to trust someone you meet online, so if you are not currently interested/comfortable etc. with me - just say so. I am willing to wait.

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