Here’s an interesting email from a reader asking for dating advice. Brace yourselves, guys — this one’s a doozy.

“I’ve been asked out for drinks by this older, bald, slightly overweight guy. He’s probably mid to late thirties, maybe older. I add all of these qualifiers because I’m a superficial 26-year-old who isn’t at all physically attracted to him. I know I have the right to decline, or even ignore the invite, but a part of me feels that isn’t fair. Part of me feels like ‘What’s the harm in drinks?’, but I don’t want to lead this guy on. I really have no physical interest in him whatsoever. So, obviously I should say no. But then, there’s another part of me that says, “Who knows? Maybe he’s really awesome like Colonel Brandon and you’re just being snotty like Marianne Dashwood*. Just because you would prefer to date a Willoughby right now doesn’t mean that’s a good idea.” But then I get grossed out by the thought of kissing this dude. So, I don’t know what to do. Again, I know I could ignore it all together, but I feel like that’s really immature.”

The point of a first date, as I see it, is to get to casually get to know someone and determine 1) whether or not this is a person you’d want to spend more time with, and 2) whether this is a person with whom you’d want to have a romantic/physical relationship. Sometimes, you won’t even get to question two on a first date. Sometimes you’ll know right away.

The point is, there’s no reason stressing before the date about whether or not you can imagine yourself kissing him — you don’t have to kiss him! Kissing him is not on the table yet!

It’s obvious that you don’t have an immediate physical attraction to this guy. But he just wants to get drinks. And, like you said yourself, maybe he will be awesome! Maybe, at the end of the date, you still won’t be attracted to him, but you’ll have had an awesome time. If that’s the case, you simply say, “I’d really like to hang out with you more, but I think we should just be friends.”

And if at the end of the date, you aren’t attracted to him and you had a bad time, you say “Thanks for the drink!” and then never go out with him again.

But there is ALSO the possibility that you have a wonderful time, and eventually fall in love with him so much that you do become attracted to him, because the overweight body and slightly balding head belong to him.

“I can’t imagine making out with him” — one of my good friends said this to me a long time ago about her now-boyfriend, and I, like you, resorted to Jane Austen. I used Emma and Mr. Knightley, you used Colonel Brandon and Marianne…the point is, sometimes you really can’t imagine making out with him, until it just happens.

And sometimes it never happens.

But unless you go on a date with the guy, you’re not going to find out.

*Characters from Sense and Sensibility. Marianne eventually ends up with the older Colonel Brandon, despite not being initially attracted to him.