I’ve been dating Justin for a month and I really like him.
Valentine’s Day is coming up and I want to plan a romantic evening with him. But I’m afraid if I ask him out for Valentine’s Day he will think I am presumptuous or way out ahead of where we are; or else he’ll think I am desperate to be a couple.
Justin is my first boyfriend (I’m 22) and I’m so nervous about doing the right thing. I don’t have any real experience.
How long do you have to wait to make a move like this?
There’s no rule for when to make a move that may take your relationship to the next level. If you like Justin and want to make a Valentine’s plan with him, go for it.
Yes, it’s risky, but that’s not a good enough reason to hold back. There’s no way to predict how Justin will respond, so things may not turn out as you hope. You can only be honest, respectful and do your best.
The good news is, this situation is a great opportunity to learn how to do one of the hardest parts of couplehood: advocating for what you would like, knowing that the other person may not respond as you hope. If you’re interested in continuing to date Justin, or simply want to get better at dating and being in a relationship, you must practice doing this.
Because when you’re in a relationship, it’s not as if you settle all your difficulties at the beginning and then live happily ever after. Being in a relationship presents all of us with a never-ending series of disagreements, challenges and dilemmas. To get through these with your relationship and your self-esteem intact, it is vital that you be able to speak with your partner about what’s important to you, without any guarantee on the outcome.
So when you get ready to ask Justin out for Valentine’s Day, remember that you are about to practice two great skills — speaking about a scary topic with the guy you’re dating and learning to keep yourself calm enough to act even though you’re scared. Keeping this in mind may give you the inspiration and energy to propose a Valentine’s date.
I wonder why you are so worried about not being in synch with Justin. Does he keep you at a distance or make it clear that he wants to keep things casual? Or are you just insecure as you start your first dating relationship? I want to reassure you that liking someone and wanting to spend Valentine’s Day with him does not make you presumptuous or desperate.
There’s a popular point of view in our culture that when dating, it’s a good idea to not seem too interested and to wait for the other person to make the next move. I’m intuiting that you’ve been influenced by this philosophy and I suggest you disregard it, for two reasons.
First, if you want to have an honest relationship, you don’t want to hide how you really feel. If you’re excited about being with someone, why play games? Pretending not to feel what you feel just makes it hard for the other person to know what is really going on, which creates confusion and distance.
Second, if you wait for the other person to make the next move, you may have a long wait.
Good luck. And remember that if you want the possibility of a straightforward and sincere relationship, you’re going to have to accept the risk of putting yourself and your heart out there. Tolerating that risk is one more great relationship skill you now have the opportunity to learn.
Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay couples and individuals in D.C. He can be found online at personalgrowthzone.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@personalgrowthzone.com.