So, if you’ve been taking my advice and practicing talking to women, you may be feeling fairly confident and ready to start talking to that cute barrista at your local Starbucks or the hot coed you keep seeing crossing campus every Tuesday. But… what do you say? Do you go for something clever, or something funny or just a direct “hi, how are you, I’m…”
And then your anxiety kicks in, your brain starts to smoke and either the girl has wandered off or you’ve been standing there looking increasingly like a panicked deer before you make a sudden about face and flee.
Or worse, you’re at a bar and you try an honest-to-god pick-up line in the hopes that you’re going to get the girl laughing instead of thinking you’re the cheesiest, most unoriginal creep to hit on her tonight.
So, what’s a nerd to do? How are you supposed to approach these new women you want in your life?
One of the most common things I hear about are how guys literally don’t know what to say when they’re approaching a woman for the first time. They’ve been swamped with too many conflicting ideas about how they’re supposed to proceed, ranging from specific lines to “Look, the best pick-up line is to introduce yourself and say ‘hi, my name is…'” from well-meaning friends. I hear from guys who want to find the perfect way to start a conversation with a girl, some opening salvo that is just so magical that the conversation blows open like rickety doors in a storm and the girl swoons and melts into their arm.
Well, fine. Here it is. The great secret.
The great secret of opening lines is… whatever you say is really doesn’t fucking matter.
No, seriously. Out of all the girls I have ever dated or hooked up with, almost none of them have remembered what it was that I said when I first approached them. Over the years, my opening approach has been almost random depending on mood, location, whether it was day or night. I have, no joke, started talking to girls – whom I would later go on to sleep with later – by asking them about their favorite sexual position. Or by looking at them and saying “Wow, you’re really tall,” or “Did anyone ever tell you that you look like Grace Jones?”
Opening lines are strictly that: they’re there to break the ice. That’s it. Whatever you say isn’t important; it’s how you say it that makes all the difference. You want to be friendly and open. Depending on what you say, you may want to be a bit goofy and charming, channelling your inner Ryan Reynolds. And you want to smile. My God I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen well-meaning nerds try to start a conversation with a cute girl while they’re busy glowering like she had just run over their dog. And they’re genuinely mystified as to why the girl is creeped out by this. The guy thinks they’re being Byronic; mad, bad and dangerous to know. The girl, on the other hand, thinks they’re psychotic and busy sizing up whether or not they’ll need one or two more bodies in order to turn her into the ideal skin-suit. David Boreanaz can pull off brooding. You can’t. So make eye-contact and smile, for fuck’s sake.
There are any number of ways to start a conversation; you can say “You seem like you might be cool. Are you friendly?” You can say “Hey, I know this is completely random, but I saw you across the $PLACE and I just really wanted to meet you or I’d be kicking myself for the rest of the day. I’m…” “Hey, you looked like you might be cool and I wanted to come over and meet you, I’m…”
Hell, I’ve had a female friend who would go up to anyone and make the joke of “How much does a polar bear weigh?”. You laugh, but it worked.
If you can’t think of anything at all, you can always rely on basic social or observational questions, like I recommended last time. These are a good way to break the ice, especially if you’re talking to someone outside of venues or locations where approaching strangers is both expected and encouraged. It fits into the expected behavior of the day, so you don’t end up on the wrong foot by making the girl think that you’re going to hit on her right away. Social questions like “Do you know where the Starbucks is?” or “Do you know which subway line gets me to Tribeca?” are innocent, low-investment and offer low-risk. The odds are good that the person you’re talking to will respond.
But you need to be able to follow it up otherwise it’s just going to end with an awkward “…well, thanks. Bye.” And you end up shuffling off, kicking yourself and wondering what the hell went wrong.
Here’s the thing: if you can’t actually start and maintain a conversation past the initial introduction – no matter how you do it – you are going to end up going nowhere with the interaction. If you’re asking the same standard questions “where are you from, what do you do, what’s your major”, you’re going to run out of conversation fast. So you need to be able to flip it into a teasing, playful banter. You can make a joking story about the crazy situation that brought you there. You can start a teasing role-play; “You don’t know? That’s it, you’re fired, you’re the worst guide I’ve ever had, I can’t imagine why the agency recommended you, I totally should have gone with the other girl.” You want to take the conversation out of the norm that it started in to avoid being relegated to the same bin as every other guy she’s talked to that day. You need to keep the interaction moving and fun, or else you will find it coming to a halt.
And you don’t want that.