Dear Jan: A divorced woman moved into the house next door to mine two weeks ago, and I find her attractive. I have seen her outside a couple of times and felt intimidated — a little. Last night I rang her doorbell. Another woman came to the door, so I asked if the owner was home. She went and got her. My neighbor’s name is Pam. She has two children — one 22 and one 18. I thought the conversation on the front porch went well and left with a good feeling.
I would like to be neighborly friends, but I also want to take her out. How do I come across as not being just a neighbor, but someone interested in dating? I know nothing about her and want to find out all I can. Should I start by asking her to go to breakfast or do something that wouldn’t be a full-fledged date? — More Than a Neighbor
What a great question! You have inspired a column — here goes.
As you point out, what you want to do is learn more about your new neighbor. And it’s probably a good idea to do that before you ask her out on a date. So, yes, breakfast is a great place to start!
And you don’t have to leave her wondering — as she’s apt to do — what your intentions are. You can explain that you find her attractive but realize you don’t know anything about her, which leaves you wanting to spend some time with her. Oddly enough, that may seem like a novel approach…and I bet she’ll appreciate it!
In our society, we often go on a first date with somebody we barely know or have never met, all the while wondering whether we’re going to get a goodnight kiss or even a sleepover. No wonder women are painted as nervously primping while men wipe their sweaty palms off before ringing the doorbell.
As soon as we think, “date,” our knee-jerk reaction is, “I hope they like me.” Here’s the problem: You may decide halfway through the first date that you are not interested, without abandoning your pursuit of approval. This is one way to get lured into another date and emotional involvement — with somebody you don’t know and might not like (especially risky with somebody who lives next door).
We let too much ride on the “first date” when it’s really just a chance to get to know somebody, to see if you enjoy their company enough to want to get to know them more. If you see it for what it is, you can relax and let the relationship unfold naturally, without any preconceived notions.
You have a better chance of getting to know who she really is if you do it before the first date. Then she’s not trying to second-guess what you want in a woman so she can deliver it, and you’re not preoccupied with pleasing her or checking her out.
You can listen to each other. You can say what you really think. You can see whether you find each other attractive mentally and spiritually, as well as physically — before you develop expectations based on the physical. You can see whether you are genuinely interested in knowing each other when sex is removed (if only temporarily) from the equation.
The only thing better than consuming desire with a stranger is consuming desire with a friend. And you have a better shot at that if you are not too busy dating strangers to develop friendships.
Remember, you are wonderful! You are looking for somebody wonderful. And you need not be intimidated when you find her (or him). Ring as many doorbells as it takes to find somebody you want to go home to.