I was sitting with a friend not too long ago, discussing her current situation with a boy that she liked. She told me about all of these interactions they had had and what was going through her mind as she chose how to react and judge the situation. The most common thing I heard from her was, “…because I didn’t want him to think that I like him—even though I do.”

It doesn’t make any sense, and yet I know I’ve had the exact same thought tons of times. It’s really scary for someone to know that you like them. Suddenly, you’re opened up to all the repercussions of that knowledge which you assume will be utter humiliation and disappointment even though another possible upshot is falling in love (which we all want and fear, often in equal parts).

My point is, I have listened to men express their frustration with the dating scene and women express their frustration with the dating scene, but I don’t see a lot of very useful communication between the two to improve it. As such, I asked dozens of single LDS men from various parts of the country what they wish single LDS women understood and these are five of the most compelling and frequently repeated answers:

1. Girls can ask boys on dates

This was far and away the most common answer I heard. Nearly every boy that I asked mentioned this in some form. In the back of my mind I was thinking, “but that’s so scary what if they said no…” and then I realized that’s exactly how they feel. I think a lot of women have this sense that they will mystically attract the romantic intentions of a boy, without actually striking up any kind of relationship or comfort level with anyone.

During my later years at BYU, if I ever felt like it had been a long time since I’d been on a date, I’d stop and think, “is there anyone in my life that I would feel comfortable enough to ask on a date right now?” If the answer was no, then there probably wasn’t anyone around that felt comfortable enough to ask me out.

But it doesn’t have to be a hypothetical question, boys are open to being asked out. If you’re worried about the awkwardness of who pays in that scenario, find something free to do together. If you’re worried they will turn you down, they might but so what? Asking someone out is essentially just saying, ‘you are someone who seems worth spending an evening with.’ Most people walk around desperate for someone to tell them that they worthy of notice so at the very least you’ve given them that. 

2. A date is a date, not a proposal. 

This is an important thing for both genders to remember in the whole drama of asking someone on a date. You are not asking for their hand in marriage. You are merely asking for the opportunity to have some fun and get to know them a little bit better. This is an important reminder for the girls who jump into project-a-vision and become clingy or territorial over boys with whom they’ve only had one great date and already envisioned what the kids would look like. It’s also for the girls who turn someone down cold feeling super awkward about the assumption that this guy was asking way more than they were really asking. “Dinner on Friday” does not mean “dinner every Friday” and “do you want to go on a hike?” does not mean “do you want to climb the mountains of life with me?”

Read the rest on Meridian Magazine.