If you’re anything like the rest of the world, you’ve probably started a relationship in a digital space. Don’t worry, you’re normal. It turns out , according to Pew Research in 2015 57% of all teens made new friends online. This includes some dating relationships!

You’ve probably seen this, some people make friends online. Others ask people out through text or a messenger app. As long as you understand the importance of talking to a trusted adult about relationships and you follow the tips for being safe online, that can be a positive experience. 

But there was once a time when people did things differently. New findings show that long ago, people would actually ASK for a date. In person! FACE. TO. FACE. 

Crazy, right? 

Here at the EDGE, we have been reviewing some of these ancient texts to bring you what we believe to be the ancient art of asking someone out. What you find beyond this point may be unbelievable, but I assure you, it is true. Tread carefully, curious adventurer. 

shirley temple vintage GIF

The Lost Art of Asking Someone Out on a Date

Step 1: Make a good impression.

Way back when, people couldn’t Facebook stalk each other. There were only two ways to learn about a person: 1. by interacting with them and then by 2. asking their friends what they were like. 

awkward the little mermaid GIF

It was important to make a good impression. Without social media, your best bet at finding friends wasn’t your ability to twist a phrase on Twitter or to look snazzy with Snapchat cat ears. It was to leave a lasting impression. 

How to do it now: Being memorable isn’t easy, but everyone has their own way. This can be the way you dress, how you wear your makeup, or even just your kindness. Find what works for you. Everybody is different, if you’re going to leave a good impression, try just being yourself. Get out there and make friends, human interaction IRL is important in our technological world https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150158/. And don’t worry, even awkwardness can be charming.

Step 2: Make eye contact.

Nowadays you can go through an entire dating relationship from the initial ask to break-up and never look the other person in the eye. You may not believe this, but there was a time when you were EXPECTED to look people in the eye. Awkward... 

scared dog GIF

The second step in the ancient art of asking a person out was to get them to notice you. Share a moment where your eyes meet. It might make your heart beat fast, but at this point there was no way to tell if the other person felt the same way. 

The ancient texts do not mention, but we feel compelled to add: staring lovingly into a stranger’s eyes is creepy. Use discretion.

Step 3: Make conversation.

We have found certain scenarios where the initiator walks up to a stranger and says something like “Do you believe in love at first sight or should I pass by again?” or “I’m lost, can you give me the directions to your heart?” 

According to our historians, these cheesy pick-up lines do not often work. They can serve to break the ice and initiate conversation, but they do not have the power to successfully end in a date. 

awkward jesse williams GIF

The better route was to make conversation. Initiate a friendship before you initiate a date. This seems to have worked. 

If you are looking for ways to initiate conversation, comment on something funny, like the Hawaiian shirt you’re wearing even though it’s the coldest day of the year.

4: Make Banter.

Uh-oh. You never learned about banter? That’s alright, as long as you know how to share a dank meme, you’re going to be ok. 

What the older generations did for banter is difficult to describe. So let me walk you through the process. 

Let’s say you’re the one initiating. The person that you would like to ask on a date will be Dear Amicable Talking Energy (DATE for short).

here i am dancing GIF by evite

You initiate conversation by saying your coolest “hhhhey.” DATE comments on the funny Hawaiian shirt you’re wearing today on the coldest day of the year. You then say something mildly funny. It doesn’t have to be REALLY funny. Meeting a stranger is awkward enough that every unexpected statement should elicit a giggle (Otherwise abort mission, you’re talking to a robot sent from the future. See previous blog for examples).

All you have to say is something totally unexpected. Make it memorable. This will be your call-back line for the rest of the conversation. Try to stray away from cringeworthy and creepy. Do not, I repeat: DO NOT, mention your 12 cats. It’s too soon for that.

If you have a dry sense of humor, tell the DATE that you inherited your shirt from a great great great ancestor and that you always wear it on cold days to remember that he/she actually discovered America even though history remembers Columbus, “the dirty credit stealer.” 

It’s a joke that’s bizarre enough to be memorable later when you really need it. 

If you have a more straight-forward sense of humor, stick to more proven jokes: “I ordered a Hawaiian pizza for supper and wanted the atmosphere to match the meal,” or if you’re more sentimental, “Oh, this old thing? It reminds me that there is hope and that warmer days are coming.” Whatever your strategy, just make sure you refer to something memorable. 

The goal of banter was to have common experience. These ancient banterers built the rest of their conversation on these shared experiences. 

5: Ask.

We’ve come to the final step in our journey: The Ask. After a few minutes of banter, there was usually a pause lasting around one full second. At this time, the initiator would either go home or ask for a date. 

Some initiators would back down. Perhaps they didn’t like the person as much as they thought they would, or maybe their heart was pounding too loudly to hear anything the other person said. 

leaving spongebob squarepants GIF

Others would make their move. They would say something like, “hey, this has been a lot of fun, do you want to go to [insert event here] with me?” It was that easy! 

angry power GIF by SpongeBob SquarePants

Sometimes people would say “no.” But in some rare cases, where the stars aligned and the birds were singing above them, the person would say “yes!” 

spongebob squarepants dancing GIF

Thus begins a relationship. That was how it was done. No social media required. 


Obviously there are plenty of other ways to start a healthy relationship. Digital communication and social media can be a great resource for teens, but it can also lead to jealousy and uncertainty.

Any relationship can be successful as long as both partners are trustworthy and willing to respect each other’s boundaries. And if you choose not to date in high school or middle school, or even college, that’s your decision, don’t let anyone look down on you for your choices.