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Everything I Am Afraid Might Happen If I Ask New Acquaintances to Get Coffee (newyorker.com)
379 points by misnamed on Aug 22, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 228 comments

Hit 30, realised I had probably done as much in my chosen field as I was likely to.

Got sad, considered changing careers and slowly started getting more frantic about seizing my Big Chance. In the process I discovered I'm unspeakably awkward and horrible at networking. Developed a dislike for great networkers being Machiavellian shits.

Didn't get my Big Chance.

Turned 35, had long since stopped counting birthdays, and then one day realised that imperceptibly something had changed.

I wasn't sad anymore. At least not noticably sadder than anybody else if I took the time to look. I'd come to terms with my crippling imposter syndrome, and was free of the quixotic trappings of my equally crippling Dunning Kruger. Read Jon Robson's psychopath test and decided I probably wasn't a sociopath either - I was just a bloke in his mid 30s.

Realised I should stop self diagnosing psychological conditions via the internet.

I have a great family, a good job, I wake up every morning and genuinely look forwards to spending my day doing what I do. I still harbour secret dreams of world domination, but they exist withing a framework of reassuringly tedious goals, like making sure I have enough clean pants and socks for the week.

Learned to work the washing machine. Still don't like inviting people to go for a coffee.

> " Developed a dislike for great networkers being Machiavellian shits."

I'm a bad networker, as a software engineer you rarely have the incentive to improve. I've never had to look for a job... I just say yes when a good email comes in. Recently though I realized that I can only go so far the way I've been going. I've become noncontent with waiting for the right email to come in. So I started working on changing myself.

I think the first part of networking is to start before you need the benefits from it. The second is to be more concerned with what you can give rather than what you can get (it's just like Christmas!) and finally... and this sounds really basic. You actually have to go out and do things, and you actually have to talk to people (very hard to do if you're an introvert like myself).

1. Learn to appreciate yourself, because self confidence (when not coming out as arrogant) is attractive

2. Make sure you have a list of hobbies/interests you can relate through

3. Most importantly, be actually curious about the person (a smile helps). Everyone has amazing things to talk about, just get the person you're with to get there and do not keep the conversation focused on yourself

4. Before you ask for coffee, make sure you've had a nice enough and mutually engaging conversation. It naturally yields a better approval rate.

5. Whatever happens next is just fun and it is whatever is meant to happen. (It follows that this New Yorker article is funny in the way it's not relevant to improve one's coffee invitations success) so just loosen up and enjoy. Meeting new people is great fuel for a balanced life. It won't always be perfect, but it will often be fun.

Note I'm a developer too, but I personally find a good balance between nice people and coding necessary to feel content and happy.

Reading Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" taught me a lot about networking, building relationships, and social interactions. I highly recommend reading it to anyone who feels like there's something other people have that they don't, because a lot of the time I find it's some quality found in the book.

> " I've never had to look for a job... I just say yes when a good email comes in."

This, is what gets me. It's stuff like this that makes me feel like the longer I stay in software the further detached from the general reality I will become. I love software, but I hate how much it drives me away from the rest of society.

>> " I've never had to look for a job... I just say yes when a good email comes in."

>This, is what gets me. It's stuff like this that makes me feel like the longer I stay in software [...]

I can assure you that this is not the general job hunting scenario for software people. This may be the case for a particular engineer, or small class of highly-sought-after engineers, in a couple of very short-lived time periods of frothy hiring. The vast majority of us still have to get out there and pound the pavement like everyone else, and it's not overnight.

Does that make it harder for you to connect with people? I found it to be the case for me when I was a developer. It would sort of make me unable to identify with the majority of people, which would tend to make me not care to interact with them as deeply as I wanted to.

Having to leave my job let me spend more time with a variety of people (lots of baristas, many of them are super interesting) helped me significantly.

I believe that's one of the more succinct descriptions of being English that I have read.

"In the process I discovered I'm unspeakably awkward and horrible at networking."

read this: "Design Disruptor" ~ https://thedesignteam.io/design-disruptor-b1c0c58d90b7

You are a perfect example of the type of person I am glad I will never be. You don't even realize how conceited and self-obsessed you are.

You know what your problem is? You've spent your whole life feeling sorry for yourself and you can't stop doing it because it feels so good.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop being a bad person.

Except I don't feel sorry for myself, that's kinda the point!

It was a post about coming to terms with yourself, and getting on with life.

Ah, the twenties.

How's the saying go?

"In your twenties you worry what people think of you, in your thirties you stop caring, in your forties you realize no one spends any time thinking about you anyway."

True so far in my experience (35 with friends of every age level.) But there are also many solutions to loneliness.

My engineery brain solved it for me by figuring out that inviting people to group events, preferably ones that represent mutual interests, is a good foot in the door.

Once your confidence increases a bit you can pursue deeper relationships with some of these people, as well as further amplify your results by actually organizing something you're interested in that has reach outside of you -- think of a meetup group or business/technical community.

Eventually you have hundreds of acquaintances, many will cheerfully meet you for the occasional coffee or beer, and you can start being selective about who you spend time with based on deeper shared connections. (Prior to that you'll probably have to put up with some colorful characters and learn to limit the damage they do to you.)

Not claiming to have made any of this up or that it is easy, it's hard, it takes years, it's been talked about it before. But I think I summarized it pretty well there (there are many more nuances to learn of course).

My uncle Guus has been playing viola with an orchestra in the Netherlands for many, many years; he gave me a great way to describe some of this:

> When I was young, and my beard was not this gray, and someone at the orchestra was angry with me—could be personal, professional—I would ask myself "what's wrong with me, how do I fix myself?" But I have noticed that now that I am older, and my beard is very gray, when someone is angry with me, I wonder, "what's wrong with him?"—and I don't try to fix anyone.

Can confirm. Mid 40s, now wear socks with sandals. It's comfortable and I don't care I look like my dad.

Mid 20s, have been wearing socks with sandals for years. It's confortable and I don't care I look like my grand-dad.

(My sister in law is desperate that I'll never find a girlfriend, though ...)

Though I don't wear socks with sandals (find it uncomfortable) I've found most people don't care or follow "fashion rules" people post online.

I recently saw one about not wearing shorts after you're 20 years old... I just had to roll my eyes. Enjoy wearing pants all the time in the summer.

A lot of the "fashion rules" were made up by people in New England and other cooler climates. As you said, good luck wearing long pants through the southern US summer, which spans from May to November, when it then becomes "fall-spring" until next May. Also of note is seersucker suits and guayabara shirts, both of which see much more formal use in the south.

Agreed, but even rules aren't followed. If you go anywhere in the summer in New England you'll find people in shorts (even in upper class areas). In NYC this summer I feel bad for the finance people who probably suffered from a heat stroke while wearing a suit during our hottest days.

People online will make up rules like "men who wear this are children!" which are never based in reality. And to keep on topic, I'm sure they too stop caring by age 40 :-)

> I feel bad for the finance people who probably suffered from a heat stroke while wearing a suit during our hottest days

In my org, my reasonning for the many people wearing suits (usually not devs and management higher ups) is that their home has air conditionning, they come to work in their car with air conditionning and the building where we work has air conditionning.

That's how I think they survive. At least, that's what I hope for them.

I've heard recently that suits are making a comeback... :)


(I assumed you were a longstanding reader referencing this, but with an account ~3 months old, maybe not...) - http://www.paulgraham.com/submarine.html

well, long time lurker, only recently bothered to create an account. And yes, reference to that. :)

New England is pretty hot and humid during its (shorter) summer.

Having grown up in the south, and lived for several years in New England, let me assure you, "humid" in the south is in a completely different class than the exceedingly brief New England summer. I've seen humid days in NE, but it's just a different thing altogether in the south where you can open the back door and walk into what feels like a wall of watery air. I'm sure NE has a day here or there where it gets to that extreme, but it's practically guaranteed in the south.

NE is a different climate; that has its perks too: beautiful fall colors and wonderful snow storms (the milder ones I find fun to watch), and relatively speaking, no humidity.

As a Texan friend of mine once (jokingly) said "Weather is what you experience in a parking lot." (because everywhere else, on a day to day basis in a city — buildings/cars — is air conditioned; only that during that short trip from building to car do you endure the great outdoors) The few New Englander's I've tried this on didn't get it, whereas southerners seem to; YMMV, of course, there's no science here.

The other thing I've never seen, outside of the south, is the horizon turning green during a bad storm (caused by light refracting through hail). Also, I highly recommend the sight of a rainstorm moving across and towards you on the plains, and the sweet scented down-drafts that precede rain. And if you're sick of weather, Silicon Valley has none. (Unless you like fog, then see SF.)

> Having grown up in the south, and lived for several years in New England, let me assure you, "humid" in the south is in a completely different class than the exceedingly brief New England summer. I've seen humid days in NE, but it's just a different thing altogether in the south where you can open the back door and walk into what feels like a wall of watery air. I'm sure NE has a day here or there where it gets to that extreme, but it's practically guaranteed in the south.

I've been to the South too; we get like a week of weather like that most summers. Maybe you could quibble about the differences but it gets hot enough that I think the whole question about whether to wear shorts is equally valid.

As far as the parking lot thing... I mean, do you think we all spend a lot of time outside in the winter?

We had a tornado briefly touch down in Brooklyn maybe 7 years ago and the sky definitely turned that green, it was the first time I had experienced that. I had read about that before and knew to get away from the windows. Luckily we were fine, but a brownstone a couple doors down had its skylights blown out.

If you wear pants all summer in Dallas there is a good chance you will die of heat stroke.

Nah. I live south of you and I wear jeans all year.

What, you don't wear pink on Wednesdays?

God, who are you?

Even if it's 105 degrees on the subway platform trying to get back to Brooklyn I'll still be wearing black jeans or pants. Shorts are for boys, tourists, and the beach.

Recently my girlfriend told me to pack some shorts for a trip to the Caribbean coast of a Latin American country and I bet her that there was no way the locals were going to be wearing shorts. I won.

Were those locals on vacation?

He he he, went to sports bar last night, drunk guy on the patio, made some snide comment about my black socks... I couldn't care less (other than to chuckle about it right here), thats why I went to the bar still wearing my clipless pedal shoes+socks, and probably a line of mud on my ass...

Yah, i'm in my 40's.

LOL, I did that until I got married (in my 20's) - now my wife won't let me :P

My favorite version of this insight is that people spend 90+ percent of their time thinking about themselves, leaving a scant 10 percent to think about everyone else. And /your/ share of that 10 percent is vanishingly small, in almost all cases.

I'm in my late twenties, and I just started trying to stop caring, but it's a little more difficult than I thought it would be.

In my late thirties. I didn't stop caring, I just got so full caring about other stuff—wife, kids, family, career, various projects, etc.—that I just didn't have as much capacity left to worry about what people think about me as much.

Give it another year or two. Turning 30 in a few weeks, can feel the caring beginning to evaporate on its own.

When you stop trying, you'll know you've stopped caring.

I'm 26 and I almost nearly don't care and can't relate to half the things the article said. According to (unscientific) Myer's Briggs, I am very strongly introverted, however.

What a strange saying; I think I went through that pattern 10 years ahead of schedule.

How lucky you are! Legitimately envious. :)

can't wait for forties. I always thought 'good stuff' stops coming in mid thirties when you finally feel aging take effect, but looks good stuff keeps coming :)>

If you can say this in your mid-30's and your parents are well, then chances are your 40's will be similar. At 45 and I can honestly say I have never been healthier mentally or physically. It's great! Other than presbyopia, which is easily corrected, and gray hairs, which takes <10 minutes a month for my barber to extract, I too have yet to notice any effects of aging.

Given that my 77 year old dad says the same, I may have hit the genetic lottery. I suspect he will just unexpectedly die one day while mowing the lawn, never having known what it is like to feel old.

> gray hairs, which takes <10 minutes a month for my barber to extract

Let 'em grow, man. Good enough for George Clooney, good enough for me.

The fun thing is that either choice is vanity.

(I started getting gray hairs at ~25)

I'm 28 and I wouldn't give it more than 5 to go full gray, as it's progressing quite nicely. I enjoy the grays :-)

I recently turned 28, have lots of gray hair. I don't do anything to cover it or care what others think of it.

Two bad things:

1) I can't just eat shit and not get fat anymore. I made that mistake around 35, and it took a lot of hard work to reverse it.

2) Thining hair. Did you know that some people say that a "cure" for baldness might be worth more commercially than a cure for cancer? I don't feel that strongly about it, but it is kinda annoying.

Not much to complain about really.

No. 1 is utterly true. It's like I hit 40, and my whole metabolism just spun down to about 60%, the weight piled on despite no change to my diet or lifestyle. I'm still overweight (40" waist, 5'11" height), but having never really exercised in the past, getting the motivation to do it (and more importantly keep at it) is really hard.

So now I eat yoghurts instead of bagels, and stare miserably at my sugarless fat free white tea. For all the good it does...

I found that walking in the morning can kick-start your metabolism and helps. A bit.

But basically I had to eat less. Soup was my trick - warm chicken noodle soup was on 30 kcal, but the liquid filled up my stomach.

1 good meal and 1 activity a day.

not being too hard on yourself is the key to winning this :).

I got hit with 1 too, I caught it early fortunately. Don't miss fried food anymore but I have cravings for desserts which I never had in my 20's :\

About 2, I started balding in my teens and my hairline more or less stabilized in 30's. Full head of hair was never part of identity, 'me according me' has been bald for a while. 20's sucked being bald but became irrelevant in 30's :D.

I'm almost there and it's all totally true.

It takes a while before the realization that the world doesn't really give much of a shit about you kicks in and you're like "Oh, really?" then you go through a mildly deflated feeling of disconnection from society because nobody cares and then one day it hits you like Mac truck "Oh! Nobody cares! I can do whatever the fuck I want because, nobody cares!" and it liberates you. If only we'd all realized that in our 20's.

And in your fifties you don't even think about this kind of thing any more. I love getting older.

And in your sixties you're too tired to think about it, and in your seventies you can't remember, right? ;)

Guys, you're seriously amplifying my midlife crisis, and I'm only 28 now.

Oh, that midlife crisis thing. Just survive it when it comes. Don't wait around for it or look for it, either. It'll find you on its own time, and you won't necessarily realize what it is till it's over. Then, things are better than ever, and you'll think things like, "Why did I do all that stupid shit when I was younger?" Then you'll chuckle and go on with your day. It's not that bad.

And probably more focused on the toilet[0].

[0] http://scontent.cdninstagram.com/t51.2885-15/e35/13269334_17...

Surely people in their twenties already realize nobody cares about them. My self-consciousness is still there, regardless of how irrational its basis is.

Any of you folks in your 30's and 40's have any advice on how to fast track this process a bit?

Start giving a shit about what you think of you. If that's hard, it's because you've not really thought about it before. Once you've got your own back, nobody else really matters.

Also talk to people. Talk to them all the time. Standing in line at the store. Passing by on the street. Just make an observation about something to start the conversation. Compliment someone. Over time you'll get two things from this. First, you'll realize that everyone is just a person like you (like, the subconscious part of your brain will get the message). Second, you'll get a bunch of little rejections (weird looks, things like that) over time in a scenario where you basically have no skin in the game. You'll no longer care about rejection and you'll realize that people rejecting you almost never has to do with you - it has to do with them.

Great advice!

Get married and have some kids. You will stop caring about what others think pretty quickly.

Yah, my first kid, I was so sleep deprived, all I could think all day long was "God I want to take a nap", then it got worse..

Yeah, realize now that unless you're making daily headlines for your misdeeds or any gossip you may be generating is actively and visibly impeding your life, even those that gossip about you will be gossiping about something/one else tomorrow. In the grand scheme of things, as far as the world at large is concerned, you're meaningless. Not to say you are meaningless, you're quite probably a most lovely person, but if you take the number of people who know you, that you care about and care what they think, divide that by the number of people in the world and the resulting number relates somehow to the amount of significance you have. Given that lack of significance, which is remarkably unfair considering how awesome you are, does it really matter what you do as long as it doesn't land you in prison or impede your freedom? I mean, if nobody gives a shit, why should you waste time caring about what they think? It doesn't serve to make you happy in any way...

Do whatever you think is more 'scary/make people laugh at you'. Then repeat, and again, until you no longer care.

I'm 33, haven't cared in a long time. Just do stupid shit and own it, with time, it is still stupid shit, but you won't feel embarrassed by it (I live in a posh area, my kid goes to a posh school, I wear 15 year old tshirts (that lost all their color due to washing), no shoes/socks, use shorts 90+% of the time)

edit: And interestingly enough, even though I'm married and with little interest in that, the amount of female attention I get over the ones that care is amazing (and no, I'm not good looking, 5'6, bald earlier in life, long beard and a few scars in my face)

I have found meditation helpful. It has enabled me to treat my feelings more like weather, to put some distance between stimulus and response. If you spend enough time sitting quietly while letting your thoughts come and go, you begin to take them less seriously.

For me it's in some ways similar to the part in the debugging or performance tuning cycle where you're just watching things happen, letting logs and metrics scroll by on your screen. Externally, you look like you're not really doing anything. But what you're doing is noticing relationships, reoccurances, rhythms. At some point you say, "That's odd. When X happens, Y follows. I wonder why that is?" And that's where the magic begins.

Pay attention to everything that is apparently mundane and ordinary. Don't dismiss it as normal or uninteresting. The more different things you can appreciate in this way, the easier it is to let go of the "surface stuff" and be who you are inclined to be naturally, as over time your values will adjust to make room for the mundane and it correspondingly becomes easier to see what you really care about. If you cling to a narrow value system then you never hit the point where it coheres into a life you feel in control of - and that will really leave you adrift when you're older and all the opportunities have passed!

Go bald and have a child.

It depends on what is refraining you from achieving it. Is it because you aren't confident enough? is it because you haven't achieve your most important goals in your life? is it because you are introvert? the most you understand yourself, the easier it will be to solve it.

Relax more. Yoga did it for me.

Peanut butter and jelly bro!


Turned 30 in April.

Stopped giving a shit some time around age 19.

Got good job, a few good friends, girlfriend.

Seems to be working out.

I skipped that long line somewhere around my mid to late twenties when it became quite clear that the majority of friends I made amounted to "no one spends any time thinking about you anyway".

In your 50s, snakes.

I know this is article is humor, but it's also pretty spot-on for me (maybe a lot of us here). Most of my friends don't seem to understand the extents to which I overthink everything.

"Just ask. The worst that can happen is they say 'No', and by not asking, you're already giving yourself a no."

I get this advice a lot and particularly hate it. Getting a "No" is not the worst that can happen. A meteor hitting the earth is the worst that can happen (or maybe snakes, or crossfit). Worst that's actually happened to me? You go up to say something to someone, stutter a few times, throw up in your mouth a little, and then run away.

Having done a lot of coffees I'd say "yes" is overlooked as a possible worst thing that could happen.

This. Exactly this.

A meteor isn't going to hit the Earth because you asked someone something. The worst that can happen because you decide to ask someone something? You go up to say something to them, stutter a few times, throw up in your mouth a little, and then they say "No".

(You're free to think that's worse than not asking in the first place, of course, and therefore not bother, but then you give up on the possibility of "Yes". I'm terrible at adhering to this advice, but I know I want some "Yes"es in my life and there's only one way to get them.)

The worst that can happen because you decide to ask someone something? You go up to say something to them, stutter a few times, throw up in your mouth a little, and then they say "No".

They laugh at you, and all the people around turn around and it turns out they were listening and are friends, and also laugh at you.

You turn and look into the cafe window, the barista is staring at you and shakes their head patronisingly.

You feel a sudden panic attack coming on - maybe you've never had one before - it feels like your chest is in a vice, you can't breathe, you piss yourself and collapse on the floor. Someone calls 911.

An ambulance turns up, by which point you feel OK again. You have to explain to the paramedics that you had a panic attack because you asked someone to get coffee. Their faces.

Someone took their phone out and had been recording the events. Cloudy face recognition picks up who you are and tags your name onto the clip.

You are making your way home when the police call you; somewhere along the way the events have gone down in the paperwork as a fraudulent 911 call. Nobody can tell you how.

Your insurance company hears about it and your insurance is provided by your employer. You are laid off from work.

Right but in reality getting hit by lightning is more likely to happen to you than these events.

One thing that works for me is to think how much I will regret not having tried when I had the chance. If it happens to you too, maybe those regretful feelings will be worse than give it a try and be embarrassed about the result (whatever it be).

I had the chance every day for 4 years. Every time it was easier to delay it.

For me imagining she says yes worked better. YMMV.

"No" is the second best answer you can hear, and many times it is the best one. The devil is in all those "may be".

Upvoted for being the first comment I found that mentions the humor.

Don't solve for people's feelings. If you have good intentions and are useful to others, they will be attracted to you.

Sometimes you will offend or annoy people. These negative experiences are growth opportunities. Apologize. Learn a social lesson. Next time you won't make the same mistake.

To coin a strategy from Tony Robbins, sometimes it takes offending or annoying people to snap them out of the mode they're in and make them pay attention. So while I appreciate what you're saying, these are not always negative experiences or mistakes that want to be apologized for. Sometimes this act of disruption is used with good intent, for a good purpose and with good results. Of course, most of the time we offend or annoy people it's not with this in mind and we do it thoughtlessly or carelessly, so with that in mind, I agree with your sentiment.

Agree except for the apologizing part. Especially if you're the kind of person that over-thinks things, like me.

There are two situations that I can think of where apologizing is appropriate and appreciated:

1. You did something bad, rather than just saying something. Like puking on a friend's couch. Go out of your way to make amends.

2. Immediately after you said something and realized how insensitive or offensive it was. Conversation moves fast, if it hasn't already moved on briefly retract and apologize, then let others talk for a while.

I tend to fixate on things I've said in the past that I regret. I have a rotating roster of my "most awkward moments" that my brain likes to randomly replay for me without prompting. In the past I used to go out of my way to find a way to apologize for these moments. Almost always the encounter was awkward enough to give me something new to fixate on. Most of the time they don't even remember the conversation in question.

Don't take yourself too seriously. There's a certain amount of hubris in assuming that something you said in passing deeply affected anybody else. Forgive yourself and let these small fixations go and others will too, probably much faster than you do.

I replay awkward (or bad) moments occasionally, too. You can actually break that habit, though. When you catch yourself remembering them, just make the effort to blank your mind. "Don't think about cheese" and all that.

Fine, then I could write the same article about the traps inherent in trying to be useful to others.

Eh, I agree it's kind of a strange choice of words, but you don't really expect people to want to spend more time with somebody who doesn't provide any value? Just being pleasant company is useful and has value.

If you have good intentions and are useful to others, they will be attracted to you.

Am I the only one that finds this statement darkly utilitarian?

Useful probably isn't the best word choice. "Create value" is probably better substituted here. You can create value for others without the "being useful or used" connotation.

Although "create value" brings up images of corporate board rooms for me. Attempting to talk about interpersonal relationships without invoking capitalism is difficult. :(

How about "Be helpful"?

Oh god. It makes sense, but still sound awful.

If you are a good person and your company has a positive effect on them?

Well, at least get the variable(s) representing the person's feelings on the left, equated with the appropriate expression on the right. But you don't have to actually evaluate it; just leave it in algebraic form.

Does this actually mean anything? It reads like a pataphor.

Leaving in algebraic form means you aren't finding a solution, but can see that, e.g. with '3x = 2y/12z' increasing z will decrease x, but increasing y will increase x. So you know the trends for the variables, and which ones can be usefully manipulated. Reasonable advice, if a little glib.

This made me want to reflect on my own list and realized that it's morphed somewhat over the years from:

- What if I invite them to coffee and I think they're super awesome and they think I'm an idiot


- What if I invite them to coffee and that 15 minutes turns into 4 hours and I still want to hang out more because they're awesome (which they will be, because frankly I find everyone fascinating); except now I have this disquieting sense of guilt because none of the other projects I have scheduled to complete in this time are getting completed... or started, or thought about.

- What if I don't invite them to coffee and they are or have some information to share that (combined with my own experience) is the key to my entire existence... or perhaps the future of humanity.

Maybe I let my mind get away with me sometimes...

Sometimes coffee is just a way to blow off 15 minutes with some amusing banter because sometimes it's better to step away from the computer than it is to keep bashing your head against it.

You seem wise...I'll ask for advice!

How do I, as a 27 year-old Grad student invite women for coffee without them feeling it might be a 'trick-date', or having them not get comfortable?

Really, I want it to be a date _less_ than you do, but how do I convince you that?

I don't think he was necessarily implying it'd be date-like - I've had those "4 hour conversations resulting with the key to my existence" type conversations with the sex I'm not romantically interested in, from small coffee "dates."

To quote Always Sunny, it's all about the implication. I start with a question unrelated to the coffee "Jane, how are things going at Salesforce? I've been considering a move lately, mind if I get you a coffee and pick your brain a bit?" You can initialize the convo at that point and then either fluidly move the conversation elsewhere if desired, or, you know, not. Anyway, that's how I do it: transparent objective.

LOL I didn't mean to imply that they only come from romantically driven situations. Of course we've all had them at some point or another whether it be with someone we are attracted to or not. But the point is, right at the beginning there's nothing been invested yet. The risk isn't anywhere near as great as we hype it up to be in our own mind. We didn't know this person an hour, a day or a week ago, they had no bearing on our life prior to that, yet we drum it up to be this huge event in our mind that realistically, even if we get shot out of the sky in a flaming wreck, is it really that big a deal... after all, they had zero consequence in our life such a tiny piece of our life ago, what's the difference if they go back to being such a tiny piece of our life 10 minutes from now?...

The converse is also true though, there's a much greater risk for not taking the leap given a). the amount invested (lack of it) so far and b). the real risk of them saying no (I mean if they say no, then what?). What if this person is the key that unlocks the meaning of life for me and I don't take this leap? Admittedly they're probably not but weighing these risks against each other, it would appear more foolish not to ask than to ask. If you don't ask, or you ask and they say no, you're exactly at the same position you are now (except your ego is a little bruised, but that'll recover). If you don't ask, you'll spare your ego potential embarrassment but you'll always be stuck where you are.

I don't think there are any characters in Always Sunny that you should ever take life tips from... :-)

> How do I, as a 27 year-old Grad student invite women for coffee without them feeling it might be a 'trick-date', or having them not get comfortable?

Please don't do this. Make your intentions very clear. "I find the fact that you love old botanic illustrations and go to flea markets every weekend to find them sexy about you." (where X is not her appearance, of course). "I'd like to buy you a coffee and continue this conversation."

If there is one thing my women friends may agree on, it is the ambiguousness of a meeting, particularly if they are interested in the person. Changing gender roles aside, the man has to take the lead. There must be polarity in the relationship from the beginning, otherwise it won't even start. This is the classic "friend zone", in which the window of opportunity exponentially fades away and trying to make the relationship romantic will burn the friendship.

Yes, the woman chooses if she wants to accept. Make it easier for her to say not. If she says yes to an ambiguous thing, she has to consider the possibilities. So, in fact, it may be easier for her to say no or give an indefinite "maybe" which is in fact a no.

One of my women friends who works in tech was lamenting recently about how guys would invite her to coffee wanting to learn more about her research. And then it would become clear that they just wanted an excuse to ask her out for coffee (a date). It is awkward for both sides. Consider this - if one of these coffees becomes a date or more, she fears word will get around that, yes, she will "date" people in her tech community.

I dunno, leave the campus and go into the workforce sometime while you are still in your 20s?

Getting coffee with coworkers of different genders is such a completely benign and routine activity.

Does require a gender-balanced workforce.

yeah thats true, otherwise you get a skewed perspective on what is attractive as that gets elevated into relevance due to limited supply

Go in a group of 3 or more.

Keep calm and friendly when asking. Make sure the stakes are low for you.

Try ice cream.

Why does it need to be a trick date? The key is to know this:

Worrying about the outcome of this date/trick date/non-date probably isn't going to change the outcome of your conversation - it's probably not going to change her answer to your invitation. All it's going to do is worry you into not inviting her; and then what?

If she thinks you're an interesting person, she'll come for coffee, if she doesn't think you're an interesting person, she's probably not going to come for coffee unless you're more interesting than whatever else she's got going on right now... like studying for that exam she's procrastinating about not studying for... and really, do you want to be the guy (or girl) she has coffee with only because you're a distraction from her current reality or would you rather be the cause of the distraction?

The key isn't to appear interesting, it's to be interested and interesting. Start with the small talk, let her get onto a topic that fascinates her. Listen! Become invested in the conversation, find something you find fascinating about it. Offer insights you may have, walk, talk, get coffee and let life unfold.

... and if you don't mean it to be a date, why worry about it anyway? The outcome of whether or not she goes for coffee with you doesn't even make a difference. You may as well just say "hey, can we walk and talk? I'm not really finished with this conversation, but I need a coffee, perhaps we can walk in that direction" or if you're already walking perhaps "Hey, do you mind if we just stop in here so I can grab a coffee?" and then when you're paying say "hey, can I get you anything while we're here?"

The key is to be invested in the conversation. When you're invested in the conversation - not just your part of the conversation, but theirs too, people want to be around you. Being engaging is a key ingredient of that thing that everyone calls charisma. People want to talk to you because you make them feel important, you make them feel like things matter (not only to you, but to them as well), but mostly you make them feel; and I can tell you this:

A few days after, people may not even remember what you talked about, perhaps not even what you looked like, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

I feel like someone important may have said this before, perhaps Maya Angelou. Though I've held to this for years, so I like to believe she ripped me off (I'm deluded, what can I say? :D)

Often then you find that life will just unfold as you let it; and if you do find yourself in a position where you feel you have to make a leap, perhaps because you want it to become a date, or whatever, to rip a quote right out of a movie (We bought a zoo):

"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."

Conversely - if you don't, where are you? You'll spend your life kicking yourself and asking "what if I had?"

> The key isn't to appear interesting, it's to be interested and interesting.

You might as well tell a blind man the key is to use his retina.

Some of us find success at this sort of interpersonal interaction to be well-nigh impossible.

It doesn't take interpersonal interaction skills to be genuinely interested in what a person has to say. And if you can't manage even that much, trying to appear interesting is not going to help. Just give up and be yourself, awkwardness and all.

Being interesting is nothing more than projecting what you're interested in in such a way that it brings your audience along for the ride. The awkwardness is mostly you second guessing what the other person thinks about you.

If you don't project what you're interested in, how are you ever going to know if they're interested in it? I've generally found that even the most arcane things I find fascination with, that you'd probably think people would think are boring can spawn the most intriguing conversations. If you project that fascination, that sense of wonder and awe, the thing, the grain of the idea that most excites you about it, when you get excited about it, people (in my experience) tend to come along for the ride. Before you know it, 15 minutes is 4 hours and all that stuff you wanted to get done this evening is gonna have to wait until tomorrow.

it's probably not going to change her answer to your invitation.

Not a woman, but I suspect this is true & a good point. Coffee is ambiguous, and it seems unlikely you'd be turned down because I would probably enjoy hanging out with you but this MIGHT be a date so NO.

She (or he) might wonder "is this meant to be a date?", but you can concretely answer that question just in your behavior. The way you act will telegraph your intentions. Stammer a compliment about her/his eyes, it's a date. Wave them over to your table when they walk in, say hi, don't even get up, it's just friends.

The crossfit line reminds me of this joke:

Crossfit is just like fightclub if the first two rules were the opposite.

Long time lurker on this site and think I finally have something worth conributing. As someone who has struggled with social anxiety, a big ommission from that list is "their reaction will provide emprical proof that insert negative self perception isn't just in my head*.

At which point the hypothetical doomsday scenario extends beyond just the immediate scenario. For whatever reason age does help though. Part of me wonders if modern marketing plays a minor role. The younger you are, the more advertising pushes the need to 'fit in' or impress peers as the primary appeal of a product.

Welcome to commenting! I'm sure you have much worth contributing.

I asked a girl to coffee once and she ran off. She literally sprinted away. I had to append my list of worst outcomes.

I asked a girl out, once, and she said yes, then I never heard from her or saw her again. I can't read people worth a damn, so that basically taught me to stop trying.

That's the wrong lesson to take from it.

That is just rude. See Mattm

Rule 1: Be attractive; Rule 2: Don't be unattractive.

Not really an objective standard.

That depends on your target market demographic and size, certainly enough to be statistically relevant.

This is pretty non-standard. However, if it wasn't a deliberate joke on her part (maybe she wasn't interested in a coffee, but saw this as a chance to do something someone would never forget), her behavior suggests that she may have been more nervous than you. A more painful outcome could be, for example, if she laughed at you and then walked away indignantly.

Look at it his way: it can't get any worse[1], so you've nothing to lose the next time opportunity presents itself.

1. Probably

Well the same thing could happen again. I'm imagining that it wasn't particularly pleasant the first time, and just because it (probably) can't get worse, doesn't mean the same outcome won't hurt less. So it seems that one thing he has to lose is some amount of happiness (at least in the short term).

That being said, go get 'em, it probably won't happen again :)

Pepper spray and then run off.

> I had to append my list of worst outcomes.

This sentence you just wrote should make it very clear why she ran away from you....

This is really for my fellow single male programmers.

I think programmers tend to identify with being socially awkward as we spend our time focusing on analytical problems usually by ourselves or with similar individuals which emphasizes our brain's wiring to be that way even more so over time, then the less traveled wiring weakens over time (social wiring, your developer buddies don't count).

The crux is we are all social creatures and need to feel accepted by the opposite sex. If we fall short, we will spin ad infinitum worrying about it. Its a deep rooted need within us and cannot be rationalized away, similar to rationalizing you are full when you haven't eaten for a long time. You must take action. Blame Darwin if you must but do something about it.

Because a lot of programmers like me are social pansies when it comes to taking risks, you can try this approach first. Do real weights and wind sprints and eat right to promote testosterone as looking like a dude attracts women. Running long distances way too often will make you a look like a unic twig, lower your testosterone levels, and rob you of muscle. I can't stress enough how the right eating habits and exercise will change everything, most likely within 90 days you'll see a huge difference like night and day, looking lean and mean. Your personality will also have changed, being more confident and bold with the added bonus of girls looking your way. You will become more attractive to females in other words, prepping you for the next step.

Now you are ready to take the issue head on and expose yourself to as many social situations as possible, forcing your social wiring to strengthen, but with the caveat of not giving a shit of individual outcomes, thinking of it more like the sheer act of doing this long enough will cause things to move in the right direction. To truly not give a shit is freeing and what's odd about that is people (especially women) seem to like you much more when you are worry free and have a natural comfort about yourself. Women truly are like buses where the next one will come along simply because there are so many fucking people in the world. Break some eggs and get out there.

> The crux is we are all social creatures and need to feel accepted by the opposite sex.

Yeah, no.

> If we fall short, we will spin ad infinitum worrying about it.


> Its a deep rooted need within us and cannot be rationalized away, similar to rationalizing you are full when you haven't eaten for a long time.

Lol. No.

> Lose weight, eat right, get fit, etc etc etc

I lost 120 lb's and got down to 10% body fat when I was in my early 20's (300 to 180) having been extremely fat my whole life up to that point. I was still a nervous wreck with severe self confidence issues. I did it for women like OP says to above. Please don't make the same mistake I did. Do it for yourself. Do it for your own health. If you do it for such shallow reasons like the OP is saying, you won't keep it off. It takes work and it takes time. Also, you don't need to be fit with a 6 pack to talk to/pick up/ask out women. All you need is self confidence, and thats not something you can get by lifting weights. Anybody who tells you different is naive and a fool (and probably more insecure than you). The best piece of advice I ever got when it comes to confidence: Know yourself, appreciate yourself, love yourself - if you can't do any of those things how do you expect someone else to.

Ok. I accept your individual experience. I would then tell you that what I've written may not be for every single heterosexual male in every conceivable case as the permutations of gene combinations are quite daunting and its possible to have so many varied outcomes that are atypical.

The working out thing isn't about hubris or for women. Its for you. What happens when you change your body's chemistry makeup to promote testosterone, rather than lots of fat having the effect of creating estrogen and lowering T and your outlook in life... the methods to increase T change your personality so you are more of a risk taker and are better able to have that boldness to talk to women and take action in general in life, while also being more attractive, if that was your problem in the first place. You may be horribly shy etc but at least you are more embolden to take action than being out of shape, creating estrogen and logically, you will have less reason to have lower self confidence. Its a good place to start to become more social as your physicality is primed for it.

It is not shallow to promote an optimized version of yourself and I would talk about more areas of finance and giving as well but that is outside of the subject. Taking care of yourself is something that you will regret if you don't.

I'm very past even worrying about women now, I only worry about one and have 3 young sons. However, my strategy worked so well with such dramatic results that I felt the need to share that experience. Maybe the writing style should be more IMO-style, "careful to not offend everyone", but again, I'm still doing the lifestyle health thing and will do it till I die. I have plenty of boldness to go around, now focusing that energy on attacking the business world.

I have tried your strategy with 0 change in results. Success in this matter is determined by many more factors than just being in above average shape and your trying to present it otherwise is disingenuous at best and harmful at worst.

Disingenuous is insulting. It isn't something you try. Its something you live. Also the what you eat is actually most important, much more so over working out but working out just makes you look nice too. There are precursors that definitely put us in the right position for social acceptance. Go ahead and list the ones that have worked for you. If none have worked, I am sorry about that. Also, I'm not selling anything, just noting what worked for me. My advice is free and without agenda. Its completely free if you fuck off as well with your insulting bullshit.

why just the opposite sex? actually, i believe all the gendered parts of your point could simply be removed.

Testosterone, namely. I talk about what I know. That type of thinking dismisses everyone as generic. We are all varied creatures with our own distinct traits however specific gender and sexual preferences have a common pattern. For me to talk outside of preferences that I do not understand is doing injustice to those that hold them.

Wow, actual advice that works gets down voted. This is a bit of irony but also tragic. The group that needs this type of advice the most, will not take it.

My insecurities all run in the opposite direction. What if someone invites me to coffee? Do I tell them I really don't like coffee? Do I tell them that I really don't want to spend $4+ for a sugar-laden caramel frappe machia-whatever and that I'd rather just get a diet coke from the vending machine? Should I be "that guy" and get a hot chocolate that turns out to be a squirt of chocolate sauce in milk, and feel let down? Should i get a donut and nothing to drink?

Once we're sitting down and talking, I'm fine. I just don't know how to deal with my little "non-conforming weirdnesses" with others.

Or don't even justify it, just get there and pick whatever you feel like or don't. When they're like "er, why didn't you get coffee?" say "Meh, I wasn't into it, I just came because I was enjoying the conversation and quite like hanging out with you"

Being real always trumps being fake - even if that real looks like what you call "weird". Weird is the new normal... mostly because there is no normal. Everyone's weird; if they're not, you just don't know them well enough yet. I'd rather hang with 2 weird real people than 10 "normal" fake people - I don't even care if they don't like $4 coffees... because I don't even drink coffee.

That's my typical piece of advice for "younger" folks looking to find themselves. You don't find yourself by trying to conform with what everyone else is saying and doing. You find yourself by taking those things that are "weird" about you and owning them.

Absolutely. Reflect on yourself. Be conscious of yourself. Behave consciously. Own yourself.

What you eventually realize is that there's nothing weird about you and conforming with everyone else doesn't make you normal. What you end up doing is conforming with your perception of everyone else (which is largely a mask - the Facebook effect) and keep your weirdness hidden. Weird is normal. What appears to be normal (sadly) is that everyone hides their weirdness because they're so busy being afraid what other people will think of them (when in reality nobody gives anyone else much of a second thought), that they end up feeling isolated and alone.

The weirdness is part of the richness of life, you can't be wholly yourself by holding that back from the world around you.

Yeah, you're right. I just hate explaining myself to people all the time, I guess. It shouldn't bother me, but it does.

The feeling you need to explain yourself comes from where? I don't need an answer to that. But look within yourself, figure out why you feel you need to explain yourself. Did you feel unheard as a kid and now you need to justify your thoughts and needs? You're an adult now. You make the rules and boundaries surrounding your own life (within the confines of the law) with no other justification than I am.

You don't drink coffee... millions of people don't. I don't eat peanuts, I'm not allergic to them, I just don't like peanuts. When there's peanuts, I don't eat them. No justification required.

Not that I'm trying to project what I think you should do, but I will tell you, when you stop feeling like you need to justify everything (I went through this too), suddenly life feels a little easier... and life's pain in the ass enough without getting in your own way.

You don't have to explain yourself to anyone, just say "I don't like coffee, I'll get a tea/water/juice/etc". Easy—a lot of people don't. Whatever ideas about people thinking you're weird or disliking you because of that are false.

I don't get sugary coffees either. I just order a black coffee. If anyone asks (rarely happens) I just tell them I don't like sugary or sweet/caramel drinks (I don't).

I'm pretty sure nobody cares if you order tea or whatever it is you do like. As for the four bucks, think of it as a fee to hang out in the cafe for an hour.

The number of times I ask people "to get coffee" and get the response that they "don't like to drink coffee" used to drive me up the wall. It's not about the coffee! It's never been about the coffee! Just buy something and chat! Haven't you read narrations in books where the writer describes how everyone buys something different? It's exactly like that! Do as you please!

> The number of times I ask people "to get coffee" and get the response that they "don't like to drink coffee" used to drive me up the wall. It's not about the coffee! It's never been about the coffee!

Everyone knows that. If you are accepting the culturally implied subtext but rejecting the specific superficial form, you say "I don't like coffee, but maybe we could..."

When people do a flat rejection, with no suggested alternative, its usually intended as a polite rejection of the culturally implied subtext, not merely the superficial form.

The root comment is talking about not wanting to go for coffee because he doesn't like sugary coffee.

That's a polite denial - and in some cultures that is the proper response. Just like how some cultures require things to be asked three times.

Once because it is polite to ask - the other person, if polite, is expected to refuse. Twice because it is considered polite to ask again. Only to be denied again out of politeness. The third offer is the first "real" offer at which point the recipient can accept without being rude. A conversation might go like this:

"Would you like to stay for dinner?" - "Thank you, but I wouldn't want to intrude." - "I insist! If you are hungry, please stay." - "Thank you, but I'm fine." - "There is enough food to go around - are you sure you don't want to stay and eat?" - "I will, thank you. / I'm not feeling hungry, but thank you."

It's really quite silly. Many cultures cut it down to only having to ask twice with the first time being the expected denial and the second time expecting an honest answer.

Skylar: Maybe we could go out for coffee sometime?

Will: Great, or maybe we could get together and just eat a bunch of caramels.

Skylar: What?

Will: When you think about it, it's just as arbitrary as drinking coffee.

Just say "sorry, not a big coffee guy, can we go to X/take a walk in the park/eat a bunch of caramels instead?". The coffee is just a conversational placeholder, there is no spoon. As long as you immediately propose an alternative, you're fine.

you order some kind of tea you've never had before and get on with your life.

What if you've compressed a life's worth of tea drinking into just a few short years and they don't have anything new?

Hopefully you liked one of the ones you tried before.

think of it as a hot opportunity to stare at a new ceiling with someone else.

Until you are on a first name basis with someone who owns a tea shop, you have not tried all the teas. And if you have, try another tea shop.

> Should i get a donut and nothing to drink?

Sure, why not? I don't drink coffee (or tea either), and if I'm not in the mood for hot chocolate, I get a pastry of some kind, and maybe a glass of water if I'm thirsty. Nobody thinks anything of it. You're way less weird than you think you are.

When you get asked "do you want to get coffee", the coffee is beside the point. It's an excuse to walk or meet somewhere, be together, and talk. Accept the invitation and order nothing. If asked about it, just say that the actual coffee is beside the point.

Just order tea.

17. They will sue me for (sexual) harassment at work

There is no place that asking someone out for coffee will result in a lawsuit or sexual harassment claim. You can even (usually a bad idea for other reasons) ask a co-worker out on an honest to goodness date without it turning into a sexual harassment thing if you do so politely and you don't ask more than once.

That, plus a host of possible related problems, is actually a real concern; there are enough women in the world that you can invite for coffee that you don't have to pick them from among coworkers. Indeed, don't do that.

Because love should be compartmentalized, and falling in love (or even love at first sight) with a coworker should be shunned, right?

This kind of thinking would have killed millions of succesful marriages and/or long term relationships. Not to mention tons of steamy short term relationships.

Besides, after a certain age, that there are "enough women in the world" doesn't say much. After university, the place people most tend to socialize and meet other people is work -- in fact there was an article about this very fact this week on HN.

Every decision you've ever made has "killed" countless unknown alternative futures involving people that, as a result, you don't even know exist.

Which is beside the point, since it doesn't mean all "alternative future killing decisions" are equal.

Besides, people are actually (in this universe and at the present) in love, getting married etc with other people in their workplace, and you are telling those people not to do it, thus constraining with arbitrary dictums their present experience, not some future universe one.

And if my argument about "most people after thirties socialize more at their work than any other place" is true, this advice also severely limits their options.

And for what?

And for what? To prevent those situations in which things go wrong, unlike in the successful anecdotes.

For example, people are actually (in this universe and in the present) in love with someone who is ... hooked up with someone else who also works in the same office. They have that rubbed in their face every weekday, starting at 9 a.m., until either they, or those other two, change jobs. While you can't prevent disappointment in this area of life, you can prevent having it be a work situation. In fact, work can be a place where you can get such things out of your mind by concentrating on something else.

>And for what? To prevent those situations in which things go wrong, unlike in the successful anecdotes.

Might as well not do anything in that department then, because all affairs can go wrong (and almost half of marriages do).

>They have that rubbed in their face every weekday, starting at 9 a.m., until either they, or those other two, change jobs. While you can't prevent disappointment in this area of life, you can prevent having it be a work situation. In fact, work can be a place where you can get such things out of your mind by concentrating on something else.

And you can prevent it by magically making yourself not to be in love anymore with a coworker? Or by making yourself to avoid even thinking about liking someone you work with in the first place?

> Or by making yourself to avoid even thinking about liking someone you work with in the first place?

Good grief, what are you going to do if you're married, yet still in daily contact with attractive coworkers? "Hi Honey, I'm home; oh I couldn't conjure up the 'magic' required to stop myself from falling in love with Sue at work today. Sorry!"

One trick is to find at three things (or more; as many as you can) that turn you off about anyone who might even remotely be a target of your affections. You will be surprised how easy it is.

Exactly, dating among coworkers is usually indicative that you don't have a broad circle to choose from. With some exceptions aside, I personally think it's a little lame when people let circumstance dictate their dating life. Work on broadening your circle. Learn how to put yourself out there and meet new people. Take charge of it.

Well, the main reason I'm against dating others from work is that I've had to deal with people acting in annoying and unnatural ways because they are trying to impress someone on the team they are attracted to, even if its just subconscious on their part. Sometimes it's even the team leader, which is the worst. Make a rule that you don't date coworkers and the behavioral changes usually go away (break the rule if you want, but at least make it in the first place).

You're attracted to whom you're attracted. Attraction is not math. Maybe you already have friends and acquaintances, but happen to like someone at work?

I met my wife at the office. I had friends at the time. There were some other women I was attracted to, as well. It didn't work with them. It worked with my wife. It's as simple as that.

For people with social anxiety, this is true to the point of being not funny. This is almost exactly the kind of stuff I always worry about, although I'm usually a bit more negative about it.

(If I slip up and they accidentally see through me, see what a socially inept and boring person I am, they'll hate me forever and also they'll tell everyone in the world about their boring experiences with me, and no one will ever like me anymore.)

I share your pain with this. The insecurity that comes with social anxiety can be crippling.

Just ask about the damn coffee and quit stressing thinking your decision will set in motion events that will change society.

Save the stress for the relatives and in-laws, those will kill you.

For the second part, I'd add: people from your country.

If there's a gathering of less than 20 people from my country, I love everyone. 20-50 and I start hyperventilating. More than 50, and I make and execute elaborate plans to get out at any costs.

Travellers often don't like gatherings of people from their own country. I overheard this on a train, in Japanese from a conversation between two girls ... "minna nihonjin da kara, ikitakunai". (Everyone will be Japanese there, so I don't want to go.)

I go on vacation to get away from all these boneheaded idiots, not to meet even more of them!

"The coffee will be bitter/weak/mediocre/disappointing."

Closely followed by:

"I'll be branded a coffee snob for criticising the coffee."

Who am I trying to kid, I clearly am a coffee snob.

Forget the coffee, it's just an excuse.

The best outcome might even be for your coffee to wind up cold and untouched- maybe you just had a riveting conversation.

I guess it depends where you live... here in NYC obviously there are plenty of places that make coffee better than me. In many areas people only have Starbucks though (which I can handle without acting like a snob, fortunately).

The main source of this anxiety comes from the flaw in the phrasing, "There are plenty of fish in the sea."

That simply is not true. People are so unique and diverse that while there are other members of the opposite sex out there, to find someone truly compatible is rare, hence why divorce rates are so high. For me, the anxiety comes when I have found someone who I know is extremely compatible but am afraid I won't attract them.

Not every member of the opposite sex makes me feel the same way certain ones do. Saying there are plenty of fish in the sea is like saying there are plenty of baseballs to hit in batting practice. While true, it elides the fact that it's only real at bats that matter. Once you strike out, you're stuck waiting for your next at bat which may never come.

Having any of these things happen to you would be great, even the bad stuff. Action is better than nothing.

Nah, the worse part is sitting at home, alone, kicking yourself for not asking her out.

Once got a coffee a day with someone new for six months; it was fun, but then again, really didn't have any expectations.

Whoa... how did you find so many people to get coffee with?

> They’ll think I invited them to coffee because I have a crush on them.

This is so true. I'm an aromantic lesbian, so even though I'm attracted to women, I have no desire to date anyone. But I'm worried people won't know that I'm aromantic and will think I'm hitting on them when I just want to hang out and maybe become friends.

A few years ago, I pretty much botched any chance I had to be friends with one of my female coworkers, who was a really cool person I'd have liked to hang out with more. Unfortunately, I was afraid to talk to her, ask her to hang out after work, etc., because I was terrified she'd think I have a crush on her and was hitting on her. It doesn't help that I'm transgender and I knew her before my transition, so I was always afraid she'd think of me as just being another guy trying to get into her pants. Oh, and it didn't help that I was jealous of her, because she looks pretty much exactly how I want to look but will never be able to (dysphoria is a powerful thing).

As such, I was terribly awkward around her, and every time I wanted to hang out with her or anything, I either decided against it or was so nervous and awkward that anyone around me could tell.

I'm a little better at it now, thankfully.

And, yes, I'm the kind of awkward person who over-analyzes every conversation I've ever had with anyone.

Unfortunately, I was afraid to talk to her, ask her to hang out after work, etc., because I was terrified she'd think I have a crush on her and was hitting on her.

The funny thing is sometimes, for me, this has turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and suddenly I'm into them.

It's modulated by how furiously I worry about it.

Get married, have kids, have them move off. Now you're just not going to have any of these hangups or concerns. I'm fine asking anyone to coffee.

Amusing article.

Isn't this anxiety? Couldn't this apply to any situation that is anxiety inducing?

I suspect it's all originating from the same irrational feelings.

You forgot about meeting a lion in the street (Proverbs 26:13).

How about the other consequence: getting addicted to coffee? I am already hooked on some degree of sugar and cellphone use.

Everyone knows that "Daily Shouts" is The New Yorker's humor column, right?

Actually, "Shouts and Murmurs" is the The New Yorker magazine's humor column. The "Daily Shouts" is the daily Internet-only version of 'Shouts and Murmurs.'

And thus ends another smug, elitist, pedantic, humorless and certainly unnecessary HN correction. You're welcome.

Clearly the author is too nervous, likely from drinking too much coffee.

I don't understand why this article is so long.

It can be boiled down to "I am afraid of rejection, and I don't want to put myself out there."

Rejections suck. We've all been there, and nobody else out there is responsible for your mental well being.

Why are you afraid of a simple "no" or a response out of an obligation? Maybe the person you're asking out to coffee is a Mormon or has high blood pressure and can't drink caffeine, or he/she doesn't like the taste.

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. I know that I personally regret everytime I wanted to ask somebody out or even ask for a raise at work, but didn't, cause "that would be weird".

>I don't understand why this article is so long. It can be boiled down to "I am afraid of rejection, and I don't want to put myself out there."

The same way War and Peace can be boiled down to "it speaks about Russia and Napoleon", to quote Woody Allen.

If it was boiled down to what you suggest, you wouldn't have much of a glimpse on the author's fears and though process, just know that they, like billions of others, "fear rejection".

>Why are you afraid of a simple "no" or a response out of an obligation?

Because they really want the answer to be yes.

Because social anxiety isn't rational. It is, unfortunately, something that a good many people (myself included) suffer from.

Use of pronouns is very important. She uses the pronoun "they" a lot, as though everything that happens to her is inflicted on her.

Instead if she said "I suffer from social anxiety, and I'm working on it" it'd be a much better article.

It's all about the interior vs exterior locus of control.

>as though everything that happens to her is inflicted on her.

Yes, because the things you fear as a result of social anxiety are inflicted on you. They are not things you can control, that's what makes them scary.

Thank you for making my point for me.

Things do happen to you, things you can't control. You can however control your reaction.

You are choosing to be scared, or not enter therapy, or talk to somebody about that.

Maybe you don't have enough money to talk to a therapist, or you have other things on your plate, or your social anxiety isn't a huge problem, something you can deal with.

The onus is still on YOU to deal with your anxiety, not on the world to treat you with kid gloves. Internal rather than external locus of control.

> I don't understand why this article is so long.

It's a humor piece. "Shouts & Murmurs" is the New Yorker's humor section.

Wow, the article reads like a Seinfeld episode, full of neurotic self-absorption. Almost every sentence includes either "me" or "I". If you over-dramatize going to get coffee with someone, making it all about you and your feelings, I'd hate to see how you handle signing a mortgage or picking a career to commit to.

to be fair, in this scenario, Me or I has a 50% stake in how things go down.

Our biological OS is built to worry about every one of these things.

Our bodies are still Windows 98.

17. Being stuck with the nagging question afterwards: Was that a date?

Snakes?!! Velociraptors!!!!

Another cliche quote to add to all this: "Your own worst enemy is...yourself".

Awesome read.

could use a (2015) in the title

Absolutely! The reference to "snakes" was so dated.

Must be a US English <-> British English thing, but I thought this was about asking a new acquaintance to buy some coffee for me.

"Everything I am afraid might happen if I asked a new acquaintance to meet for coffee."

It's definitely a colloquial US thing. We say "let's get coffee/beers/lunch sometime" almost everyday, especially when parting as a "see you later". Whether we actually follow up with those invitations here in San Francisco is a completely other story.

Same in Seattle, except it's "Let's go for a hike/climb/ride some time!"

Yeah, but that's "let us get coffee" which is normal. The unusual language being highlighted here is "ask to get coffee" without specifying "together" or "with them". Without that, I parse "get coffee" as an instruction, thus meaning asking them to go and buy some coffee for you.

I agree with you that it's awkward; however, "get coffee" is now a colloquial term, which is why most people probably didn't read it the grammatically correct way.

But yes, depending on how one reads, the title takes on a totally different meaning. I usually have this trouble.

I am an American and I though it as asking someone to go get me some coffee like at work. I thought it was going to be that they might pee in it or something.

to get coffee [together]


to get [a] coffee

to get a [cup of] coffee

Ditto. I thought of:

- They'll go to StarBucks or Nero or Costa some other god awful chain with over-roasted fully or semi robusta coffee

- They'll want me to explain what a flat white is

- They'll put sugar in my drink

- They'll get me some kind of American milkshake instead of a coffee.

Creating fictional outcomes is pretty common (it is for me), but this game has definitely helped overcome that: https://is.gd/GAbuN6

Whoa, this is amazing. Thanks for sharing!

Indeed! Saved to check out more closely later.

Accept the consequences


Well then, no coffee for you.

The article was weak but we left the thread up because it was relatively good.

In amongst the good heavyweight tech stuff, it's nice to have a fluff article once in a while, and the comments have made for great reading!

At least it was an amusing waste of time.

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