Do young people fear asking their romantic interests out?

I observed an online chat session where people were exchanging dating advice. What struck me was how many of the people (mostly in their early 20s) seemed to not know how to ask people on romantic dates. Other people gave advice like “you got to put yourself out there, otherwise nothing happens.”

The closest thing I have to experience with romantic dating is guys asking me out. I always said ‘no.’ I have nothing against any of them, I just never wanted a boyfriend.

Intellectually, I understand that asking someone to romantically date you is hard because it feels so important and personal. Emotionally, it doesn’t feel like it should be hard. That I put such low stakes to this is a sign of how aromantic I am.

It’s curious that I haven’t gotten more requests for romantic dates over the years. I’m happy because it’s convenient—I don’t like rejecting people—but I’ve wondered. I figured I somehow signal well that I’m not interested—which is true.

Part of it, based on the chat I observed, is that I ignore online dating services. That’s where a lot of initial dating happens these days. The people in this chat didn’t appreciate “use this dating app’ as advice since everyone had thought of that. The people seeking advice didn’t like Tinder (and, I assume, other similar things).

If I had wanted a romantic partner, I’d assumed I would’ve done it the same way as the guys who asked me out—approach the person I was interested in and ask them. Is it rare to do that face-to-face these days? The pandemic may have something to do with it, though I’ve been asked out since the pandemic happened. If it’s rare to ask people out face-to-face without digital technology, then I have more appreciation for the guys who asked me out that way.

Some people say that aromantics (and/or asexuals, these people don’t always recognize the difference) are just scared of intimacy. Well, we have good reasons to fear intimacy, such as the heightened risk of various forms of abuse. In some cases, it may even be the root of why someone is aro and/or ace, and that’s valid. These people in the online chat, it seems, felt interested and nervous about dating. I feel the opposite—disinterest and lack of fear.

I said little in the chat, and nothing about my situation. Didn’t even say that I’m aro. I didn’t know what I could say that would help.

I doubt young people today are scared of asking their love interests out any more than earlier generations. It’s always been scary.

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