How to recover after she tells you she has a boyfriend or a girlfriend

I just moved to Montreal in November of last year

Roger and I spent 9 months driving from San Francisco to Montreal, exploring the United States and living in the back of my pickup. A dirtbag version of John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charlie in Search of America if you will. Great book, I learned a lot from reading it before my trip.

Here’s one thing I learned. Offer strangers something to eat or drink, especially if you might’ve parked on their land inadvertently. This will lower your odds of getting shot.

Dating wasn’t on my radar

I was getting settled and finding an apartment. For someone who’d just spent 9 months in the back of a pickup, I was pretty picky about finding the right apartment.

Home for 9 months.

But I finally found it and started building a life here. I found a gym and started lifting and playing badminton again. Began writing blogs again, more than I’ve ever written. Found my natural food store and started cooking again. Connected with old friends, and started making new ones.

Even though we’d come here to meet a girlfriend and eat some famous bagels, I hadn’t asked a single woman out yet. I wasn’t ready.

But spring is coming and I’m starting to thaw a bit.

I need rules in life

I need them or else my life is chaos. My friend says I’m addicted to rules and structure, but they help me create positive habits and rid myself of bad ones. I’m OK with that.

Here’s a new rule I just came up with. No buying clothes for the rest of 2017. No shoes, no gear, no clothing, new or used.

I won’t spend money on clothing this year and I’ll use the stuff I already have. I have enough clothing, I’ll be fine.

Contrary to popular belief, clothes do not make the man. Habits and action make the man.

I also have dating rules

I don’t ask people out at their work. It can be awkward, and it can put them on the spot. They’re being paid to be nice to me, there’s a really good chance they’re not flirting with me. I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable at their work. It sucks enough having to work sometimes without getting hit on by customers.

I don’t ask people out at the gym. Women have a hard enough time as it is being in male dominated spaces, they don’t need guys hitting on them at the gym. I still peek at nice booties every now and then. Peeking OK, staring bad.

I don’t ask out young women. Young women are still beautiful to look at, but I have less in common with a 23 year old than I do with a 33 year old, for the most part. When I 22 I dated a 32 year old, she used to say “youth is wasted on the young’. I didn’t know what it meant back then but I think I do now.

This time, I broke all the rules

All at once.

She’s the young woman who works the front desk at my gym.

We’d been talking every now then over the past several months. Always short pleasant conversations about her going to school as a physical therapist, or about my wrist injury as a result of a climbing accident.

I knew she was young because when Brandi and Monica’s The Boy Is Mine came on the stereo, she admitted to not knowing who they were. Uh oh. Red flag. She probably doesn’t know Ginuwine’s Pony either, this wasn’t going to work out.

She’s pretty and friendly. I don’t feel a strong attraction to her but it could be fun to take Roger for a walk with her, or to have coffee together. Like I said, I’m starting to thaw a bit.

The lazy long shot

She mentioned having tried climbing a few times and liking it, so I saw my opportunity. I casually invited her to go climbing with me in the spring.

Oh you climb? We should go climbing outdoors in the spring.

I call this the lazy long shot. It’s lazy because it’s not a question, it’s a comment. And it’s a long shot because it’s for some undetermined time in the future.

It’s not a bad approach if you’re talking to someone at their work though. It’s vague enough to pass off as a friendly offer to get together, but there’s no urgency and it doesn’t put her on the spot.

She could easily respond with, “Oh that sounds fun” or “I don’t climb outdoors, I’ve had a bad experience”. She could also say, “I’d love to!” if she really wanted to go climbing with me.

Either way, it’s non threatening and non threatening is good. Especially when it comes to asking out young women who work at the gym.

Instead, she just ignored it

Pretended like I hadn’t said it. It wasn’t awkward in our flow of conversation. I hadn’t asked her a question, so she didn’t provide an answer.

Then a few minutes later, it all made sense. We were talking about climbing safety and she said, “Oh my boyfriend weights 185 pounds, I’m used to belaying people bigger than me”.

Bingo. That’s probably why she’d ignored my lazy long shot invitation of going climbing together. She had a boyfriend.

It would have been inappropriate for her to accept, but also difficult to bring up her boyfriend, “I have a boyfriend, I don’t think us going climbing together is appropriate”.

I wasn’t disappointed. Some people are available and some aren’t. That’s how it works.

Time to switch gears

The faster you can switch gears, the less awkward it’ll be. That’s the key to the art of recovery. I said this before I even had a chance to think about it,

Oh and he climbs? Cool. We should all go climbing together this spring. A few friends and I are always looking for fun people to climb with. I’ll let you know next time we organize a trip.

I’d just turned a lazy long shot into an invitation for a group outing. I’d quickly recovered from a potential disappointing and awkward conversation.

Include the partner

That’s the secret. If you ask someone out and they tell you they have a partner, simply ask,

Oh great, how’d you meet?

Include the partner in the invitation or the conversation. It’s a simple trick and it works every time.

People really love sharing how they met their boyfriend or girlfriend, I certainly love hearing how they met.

Showing that you can handle rejection by quickly switching gear makes you a versatile and flexible person. People like that and they’re more likely to continue engaging with you once they find out you weren’t just interested in asking them out.

Plus, you never know when someone just might introduce you to their sexy rad friend. Remember, sexy rad people have sexy rad friends.

Shaun Galanos is The Love Drive. He lives and write in Montreal.

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Originally published at thelovedrive.com on February 28, 2017.