Getting Past Hello

I got to lunch with two of my best girlfriends yesterday, a rare treat that included grilled eggplant, iced coffee, and a lot of sweaty laughter (because even cracking a smile in 30 degree, 100% humidity heat results in sweat).

Because my two best girlfriends have been single longer than I have (not unusual, since I think I was the only person in Germany stupid enough to stay with her first boyfriend ever), and at an age when slipping a note adorned with mis-shapen hearts in the boy’s locker door is no longer an option, I took the opportunity to pick their brains for tips on how to let a guy know when you’re interested in him.

The impetus for this conversation is a ridiculous crush I’ve been harboring for ages that renders me completely and utterly mute whenever I’m in the presence of Adonis, which happens on a near-weekly basis. Those of you who know me must know how unusual this is; usually I only stop talking when I’m seething with anger. Well, I’m seething all right but not with rage.

Anyway, said crush is not going anywhere and I am convinced this is entirely because of me. It could have a little something to do with dude thinking I can’t speak a word of German because I can never get my lips to part when he’s around. And it’s not like he hasn’t tried to speak to me. I just can’t seem to get a word out in response. Nothing more than hello.

A couple months ago, when I first mentioned crush to another friend, she suggested I invite him and kid (he’s a single dad) over for a playdate. Hahaha, have you seen my studio apartment that looks like a tornado hit Legoland? Or the stained sleepersofa I use as a bed? Yeah, um, not happening. Then she said I should suggest coffee – all Germans do coffee, she says.

But how weird would that be? Hi, Adonis, I know you think I don’t understand you when you talk to me but that’s just because my brain shuts off whenever I see you, so I was wondering if maybe we could just get over this little hump and head off for some caffeinated quiet time? You know, so you can talk at me and I can continue to look demurely at the floor and act as though my jaw’s been wired shut?

So yeah, that’s not happening either.

I think the real issue at play here is that I’m American and he’s German. As a good old-fashioned Ami, I expect him to do all the work. What kind of girl comes onto a guy? Not this kind of girl…

But girlfriend 1 said this is the wrong attitude in Germany. Says German guys are too polite to make the first move, out of fear of making things awkward. You know, in case the girl says woah, wait a minute bud, wires crossed.

So it’s not awkward if the girl makes the first move, I asked.

No.

What happens when the guy says no?

The guy never says no, she told me. At least not in her experience. Lucky girl.

I have a feeling it won’t be the same for me, but that’s just my self-consciousness talking. For now, though, it seems I have my answers, even if they weren’t what I wanted to hear. If I want to get past hello, it’s all on me. Which means I’ll just have to keep on being rendered mute by the weight of this crush. I’m not that German yet.

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13 thoughts on “Getting Past Hello

  1. GinBerlin August 1, 2012 / 3:26 am

    I think your friend is absolutely right. That’s been my experience as well. But after that first invitation, they do generally quite well;-)

    • Milly August 1, 2012 / 11:26 pm

      So can I assume you did the asking with Mr. G, then? However did you gather the nerve? The whole idea of it gives me the shivers, which is weird considering how often I have no problem sticking my foot in my mouth in other situations….

      • GinBerlin August 1, 2012 / 11:58 pm

        I invited him for Thanksgiving with the family:-), after he made a point of telling me had broken up with a gf in London. We were lab partners, but then, he had wanted to be lab partners as well. But other women were definitely interested and I think it sailed over his head. Having a play date with coffee sounds like a great and low risk idea. We have lots of indoor playgrounds with coffee areas in Berlin you must as well?

  2. Milly August 6, 2012 / 8:05 pm

    Well, G, Thanks for the vote of confidence. Inviting the Herr home for Thanksgiving certainly was brave of you. Don’t think I’d’ve done the same.

  3. GinBerlin August 8, 2012 / 8:03 pm

    Broken thumb, so short response:he was alone in a foreign country-Thanksgiving is thr time to extend an open hand! But I did it as a friend, he took it from there. Glad it went well.

  4. Steven August 25, 2012 / 5:51 pm

    This kind of post is really interesting to me, because I’m on the other side of this coin- mildly introverted American living in Germany with only a rudimentary grasp of the language. And when I DO have sufficient spine to speak to someone interesting, I usually retreat by the second or third misunderstanding.

    Another thing I’ve noticed- back in the US, if I smile at someone, they’re likely to smile back. If I smile at someone here, they seem be very suspicious. This is a cultural difference I hadn’t expected.

    • Milly August 25, 2012 / 10:56 pm

      Steven, I have to admit that it’s quite different to be attempting this in a “friendly” German city — and I think Stuttgart is not known for its friendliness — but I’ve come to learn that it only takes spine when you’re interested. Affecting nonchalance is super easy when you don’t give a crap, as are overcoming those misunderstandings (and believe me, I’ve had *plenty* of misunderstandings, both linguistically and because people mistake my American niceness for actual caring). Also, you’ll get over the smiling. I did and now my family’s embarrassed to be seen with me in the US because people think I’m perpetually pissed off 🙂

  5. sophiespov July 12, 2015 / 6:56 pm

    Hi, I just found your blog after googling “how to charm a german man” (hahaha..ha…ha), because I’m french, live in Germany, and have a MASSIVE crush on someone that’s not going anywhere either. I’m struck down by all the cultural differences of the dating world, which I find super interesting, but also inconvenient. And that’s an understatement.

    Anyway, I don’t have much to contribute, just wanted to say I share the pain, 3 years after your crush experience.
    I’m slowly discovering -and loving- your blog, I’ll keep on reading!

    • LiebeMilly July 28, 2015 / 11:10 pm

      Oh man Sophie, give up. Give up now! 3 years on and I still have not figured Germen out. The only positive way I’ve been given of viewing this is found in the lyrics to “Aurelie” by Wir Sind Helden and truly, that doesn’t help. Sure, a German dude might find your accent charming, but what good is that if he never ever does anything about it?… Good luck, though.

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