David Darnauer discusses dating advice and barriers to approaching women

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I met photographer David Darnauer soon after I moved to Nashville a few years ago. Since then, David has brought a lot of laughs, photography tips, and good conversation my way. I thought he would be an interesting interview subject for the blog, so I asked if I could do a story on him. He said yes.

When he arrived to meet me at the appointed dessert shop in Cool Springs, we each ordered a cup of The Country’s Best Yogurt and moved the interview outdoors. As our conversation unfolded, we wound up mostly discussing women – a favorite, confusing topic for us.

You, me, and a few guys we know were all together recently when you posed an interesting question: what was going on with you when you first started to wonder about whether any dads gave their sons advice about approaching girls?

All my relationships have happened organically; things just came together over time with me never having to just straight up call a girl and say, “Hey, you wanna…do…a thing…with me?” Instead, it just kind of happens, and we just feel each other.

But one day I was thinking there may be cases in life when I’ll have to be more intentional. What if I meet a girl one time, and she seems very interesting, but there’s not an avenue that I can naturally meet her again unless I specifically try to.

I’m not too familiar with that. I’ve never had to go through the process of really intentionally – in a way that wouldn’t happen unless I make it happen – spending time with a girl. And I don’t know the best way to go about that. I’ve never been told anything about it. Of the things a dad would teach a son, you’d think somewhere along the way, he’d give some information on that. My dad never really did.

My dad’s a pretty talkative guy – he communicated a lot of things with me, and it’s funny he never really shared too much on that. So then I started asking people – a good 7 or 8 now, and so far all of them said their dad never really shared anything.

I think for a lot of guys, whatever girl they end up getting, they’re still not totally sure how they got her. They’re like, “I asked a lot of girls out, they said no, one said yes, we dated for a while, then we ended up getting married. I don’t know exactly how that worked out.” So, I think a lot of dads don’t know what to tell their son about how to ask a girl out or take her on a really good first date. They’re like, “I don’t know – I had a lot of times fail, and then one worked, and I don’t know if I can tell you why.”

So, it’s fascinating to me that most guys aren’t informed.

What’s the hardest thing about approaching a girl for the purpose of dating?

The hardest thing for me is I always want to minimize how unsure I am when I try to convince a girl that she should spend time with me.

The question is how can I get in scenarios where I can figure out if I really want to pursue a date with someone. Because I don’t want to pursue it, convince her she should be into it too, and two dates later I’ve convinced her it’s a good idea, she’s into it too, and I say, “Now, I’m not into it.”

So I’ve got to figure out if I’m into it, but there’s not an organic way to do that. That’s my conundrum: when it comes to possibly asking out girls I’m not sure I’m into, wanting to find out if I am into them, but then dealing with the fact that I won’t see them unless I make it happen.

It’s a hard problem for guys. I’m sure there are hard problems for girls too, and I know you find yourself giving advice to female friends sometimes. Are you ever in a position to advise girls about how to know whether a guy is interested?

I generally lean towards the idea that if a guy is interested, either he’s going to do something, or he’s interested, and he’s not doing anything and needs to be more of a man.

Guys usually will show a sign, I think. They’ll probably show interest. The problem is girls will read into something that may not be interest when they’re dealing with someone they hope will show interest.

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