Let’s talk about some common misconceptions when it comes to meeting women.
One of the most common questions I get from men is “where do I go to meet women?”
More often than not, the people who ask me this aren’t asking the right question. They see women all the time, throughout their day to day lives. The disconnect is that they don’t know what to do; they’ve absorbed so many conflicting ideas of when it is or isn’t appropriate to approach women or how to do so that they’re left feeling caught in a trap.
If they don’t thread the needle of “right time/right place/right method” just so, they’re doomed to be accused of being a creeper. They’re terrified that they will screw up by accident and a good-faith attempt to talk to somebody will crash and burn in a spectacular fashion. Next thing you know, they’re in the final reels of Frankenstein, being chased by a torch-and-pitchfork wielding mob of faceless anti-creep vigilantes. In reality, the worst they’re likely to face is an awkward conversation that is easily forgotten as soon as they leave that person’s eye-line. However, our fears our rarely rational and logical.
The problem that they’re having isn’t that they’re not meeting women, it’s that they don’t know how to meet them. They’re seeing meeting women in terms of a cold-approach scenario, where they’re trying to approach a total stranger and impress her enough to make her consider starting a sexual or romantic relationship with them… and this doesn’t work. In fact, the scenarios most men imagine are almost perfectly designed to backfire in their faces for one very simple reason: women are tired of strangers trying to ‘pick them up’.
The men who are the best at meeting and dating awesome women understand this; they know how to connect with women in ways that bypass the feeling of “he’s just trying to pick me up” and create an immediate and powerful connection. You don’t need the gift of gab or to be a Hollywood celebrity. You simply have to know the right way to approach and talk to women.
How To Convince Strangers Like You Right Away
The first, and possibly most important, thing to understand about meeting women and getting them to like you is very simple: most people mess up before they so much as say “hello”.
People rarely realize how much they set the stage for success long before they’ve even set eyes on someone. They set and manage people’s expectations by the choices they made before they ever leave the house. The way that people think about you is directly influenced by the impression that you make when they first see you. That first impression becomes the filter through which people interpret everything that you do, for good or for ill. Being mindful of how you present yourself to the world means that you’re better able to set expectations and maximize your opportunities when they arise.
By the same token, making the wrong first impression can make things that much harder. I can’t count the number of women who, for example, thought a guy didn’t like them because of how he looked or behaved when they first met. Those guys may have been shy or nervous… but they gave the impression of being unfriendly and standoffish. They had to work twice as hard just to correct those mistaken first impressions and reset expectations and get back to a neutral or positive place. That’s time that could’ve been spent more productively, getting to know people, flirting and going on dates. Instead, they’re having to convince people that their initial feelings about them were wrong and to give them a chance to correct the record.
Needless to say: being mindful of the impression you make upon first meeting people conveys a huge advantage when it comes to dating. Which is part of what makes it so astounding how many people neglect this.
If you want to maximize your success, you want to make sure you make a strong, positive first impression on folks. Start with your presentation: do you look well put together? This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be dressed to the nines at all times, but you do want to look like you’ve put some effort in. One of the best compliments a woman has ever paid me was that every time she sees, me, I look well put-together, even in a t-shirt and jeans. And honestly, it takes so little to stand out from the crowd, I’m astounded at how rarely people bother to try.
In practice, this means you want to make sure that you’re dressed well when you’re going out — you want to make sure that your clothes are clean and look neat. They don’t need to be pressed to military sharpness, but you also don’t want to look like you scooped your entire outfit out of a crumpled pile on the bedroom floor. You want to make sure that your clothes fit correctly, and that they convey a sense of who you are as a person. One of the more underrated benefits of paying attention to your style and presentation is that it allows you to give people an idea of the type of person you are; combine that with dressing well and you subtly encourage them to see you in specific, positive ways, associating traits of that archetype with you.
Similarly, you want to make sure that your grooming is on point. I can’t emphasize enough how much putting a little effort into your hair and skin care can utterly transform how you look. If you’re going out and you want to be in a position to talk to that cute somebody who catches your eye, you want to make an effort, even if that effort is just a little product in your hair and cleaning up your beard. You also want to make sure that you smell nice. Yes, this is a thing that needs to be emphasized. Smell is a powerful sense and has strong emotional connections. How you smell can make all the difference between being that charming stranger and someone that folks wish would move a little down wind.
Just as importantly though: how is your body language and posture? Are you standing up straight and relaxed, or are you hunched over or folded in on yourself? Are you walking with ease and purpose or with timidity? These all convey messages about you, your personality and your sense of self-esteem and confidence. Moving smoothly and with purpose conveys a sense of confidence; quick, jerky motions, on the other hand, come off as nervous and off-putting. Smooth is more important than speed; it signals a level of ease and comes off as graceful.
But more than anything else, you want to make sure that you are smiling. A warm, genuine and friendly smile makes a world of difference when it comes to making first impressions. A serious look or lack of emotional affect often comes across as stern or unfriendly; you end up seeming judgmental or cold at best. Warmth, on the other hand, encourages others to return that warmth and invites them in. Friendliness, likewise, encourages others to be friendly in return.
What you don’t want to do is obsess about the tiniest details. You don’t need to be perfectly put together any more than you need “the right walk” or what have you. Similarly, you don’t need to convey a sense of superiority, cockiness or being above it all, nor do you need to be putting on a performance of “being funny”. Your goal should be calm ease and certainty; everything flows from there.
That makes the next step much easier…
Bypassing the Pick Up Filter
Here’s the thing you need to understand about meeting women: women are understandably defensive when strangers — or even nodding acquaintances — approach them out of the blue. Almost every woman out there has had the experience of meeting men who think that “existing in a public space” is an invitation to be hit on by randos. Often several in a row. And usually while they’re in the middle of trying to go about their day to day lives.
Think of it as walking down a busy street lined with people holding clipboards. As soon as you walk past them, they’re going to be trying to get your attention. They’re going to get in your face, pepper you with questions… even step in front of you to try to get you to stop and talk to them. And as soon as you pass one group, another is going to be right there waiting, demanding to know if you’ve got time to talk about shaving the whales or something.
Now imagine if this were your day to day existence. Small wonder, then, that women tend to be on the defensive when folks roll up on them.
Of course, this often leads to the common complaint of “well, they’d like it if Brad Pitt were to approach them.” However, this is a classic case of missing the point. Yes, women would enjoy it if a charming man were to strike up a conversation with them. However, there’s a difference between “having a good time talking to a stranger” and “random person hitting on you.”
The difference is very simple. The former involves two people having a mutually enjoyable conversation. The latter involves someone who is more focused on what he wants, rather than getting to know somebody.
The problem is that people conflate approaching women with trying to pick them up then and there. This is the basis of so many “social experiments” on YouTube and TikTok that I’ve lost count. However, what everybody misses is that even women who want sex that night and are down to bang a stranger don’t want to fuck a guy they can’t talk to. Not being able to hold a conversation with someone is a reliable indication that they’re going to suck in bed. So is treating a first meeting as a pick-up scenario; at best, you’re signaling that you’re more interested in them as a potential lay first, a person second.
In fairness: this isn’t always a dealbreaker; there’re folks of all genders who’re down for anonymous or no-strings sex and don’t care about seeing the other person again after. But those tend to be specific circumstances and venues, not everyday occurrences.
On the other hand, displaying strong emotional and social intelligence are reliable indicators that this person tends to be better in bed. A better connection means better sex overall; great sex is about connection and listening, rather than treating sex like putting together especially fleshy Ikea furniture.
The key to being that charming stranger is to not try to pick someone up. Instead, the goal of the initial approach is very simple: you’re building rapport with them. You want to have a good time talking with a fascinating stranger. That’s it. Will anything else come of this? Possibly… but that’s all going to depend. After all, you don’t know this person. All you know about them is that you find them attractive… but that’s all surface. You know nothing about what they value, what they find interesting or desirable, or even if they’re a good or interesting person.
Trying to impress them or woo them with your flash and status just signals that you know nothing about them. Worrying about ‘sexual market value’ and the like just ensures that you broadcast how little you care about them as an individual — a great way to invite a visit from the slap fairy, less so for getting them in bed.
However, when you focus simply on meeting people, getting to know them and building rapport with them, you actually remove the fear of meeting people. When your only concern is “is this person interesting to talk to,” you are freeing yourself from tying your ego and self-esteem into the outcome. You’re able to relax and be in the moment, rather than worrying about every single word, gesture, tone of voice or microexpression. And — just as importantly — you bypass that initial defensiveness that so many women develop out of necessity. After all you aren’t giving “pick-up” signs. You’re just interested in having a good conversation.
This does, however, require that you be genuine in your outcome independence. Being sincerely curious and interested in other people makes you interesting. This isn’t something that you can fake. Women aren’t stupid; they can tell when someone is feigning interest in hopes to get into somebody’s pants.
Making that disconnect can be difficult. After all, the main reason you’re interested in talking to them in the first place is because you find them attractive. However this ties into a familiar question from the pick-up scene: “what does she have going for her besides her looks?” Rather than asking her that question, you want to find the answer yourself. The mindset you need to have is “Is she someone worth knowing? Is she worth your time?” By being curious about the things that make her awesome, you take yourself out of the pick-her-up mindset and instead end up focusing on learning more.
Those interactions have a very different vibe than someone just hitting on a stranger. And, just as importantly, that makes the entire interaction more enjoyable for everyone. That, in turn, means you’re more likely to end up with a phone number or a date… if not then, then perhaps down the line.
But how do you get that conversation started?
How To Talk to Women At Any Time
Starting a conversation with an attractive woman is, at its core, incredibly simple. Much of the stress and anxiety that comes from the where, when and how tends to come from self-imposed fears of rejection — often because of how much importance people place on that initial conversation. However, by focusing on the quality of the conversation, rather than the outcome, you eliminate those fears. Taking your ego and expectations out of it allows you to focus on the now.
What also helps is to understand the basic structure of an approach. As a general rule, you want to tailor how you start the conversations to the social context. The way you would start a conversation with someone at a bar, for example, is different from how you might start a conversation with someone sitting across from you at the food court at Whole Foods. Similarly, how you approach someone at a party tends to be different from striking up a conversation at a bookstore. However, they all tend to follow the same general structure, and once you understand that structure, it’s easy to adjust your approach as needed.
The structure itself is fairly simple, consisting of four parts.
- The opening
- The pivot
- The connection
- The closing
Let’s break it down.
The Opening — this is incredibly simple: it’s literally just how you get things started. Men tend to drastically overthink the opening, assuming that it can make or break the entire interaction. In practice, however, it’s ultimately the least important. All you are doing is providing the opening for a conversation. It’s also much easier than you’d think; if you can introduce yourself to men, you can introduce yourself to women without trouble. You’re easing into the conversation, not diving in head first.
The least-stressful method of doing this is to be indirect, asking a casual and open-ended question or making a comment that invites a response. This allows them to join the conversation without feeling the pressure of “What are this person’s intentions with me?” Another method of opening is to ask a situationally relevant question. If, for example, you’re out of town and you overhear someone talking about the local food scene at the bar, you can say “hey, you seem like you know this town pretty well… can you recommend a good Thai place?”
You can also be more direct, especially in situations where you have a “warm” connection — that is, a pre-existing social connection to the person. If you’re trying to talk to a classmate or someone at a party, you could say “Hey, you know $MUTUAL_FRIEND yeah?” Or if you’re at a networking event or a place where it’s expected for people to meet and mingle, you can simply say “I don’t think I’ve met you yet…” and introduce yourself.
What you don’t want to do is lose sight of the fact that the opening is just that: an opening. It’s the pretext to get the conversation started. Most people rarely remember exactly what you said when you first met them; they tend to remember how you made them feel instead. Don’t get hung up on the opening or making sure you have the perfect line. Cheesy pick-up lines can work with some folks, but it can still trigger that “trying to pick me up” defensiveness. So too does trying to be ‘smooth’. Genuineness and sincerity go much further, even if it’s not perfectly polished.
The Pivot — The pivot is exactly what it sounds like: now that you’ve gotten the introduction out of the way, you’re pivoting to the actual conversation. You’re moving from your initial topic and making the early small talk that serves as the bridge to the deeper conversation. And yes, that small talk is important. Small talk is like the on ramp to the main conversation. If you try to move straight into talking about the “serious” stuff, you risk the conversational equivalent of a head-on collision. Small talk is what lets you match the speed of traffic and merge seamlessly into deeper and more meaningful topics.
Start the pivot by introducing yourself; a simple “oh man, where are my manners, I’m $NAME” or “Hi, I’m $NAME” is all you need. If she introduces herself first, that’s even better — that often shows some initial interest in you. Don’t try to force them to make the first introduction, however. Yes, people do this; they think forcing a sign of interest creates interest. No, it doesn’t work the way they’d hoped. It just comes off as awkward.
The key to the pivot is to ask general or open-ended questions. One of the mistakes many people make is that they ask binary questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”. If you can answer your question in three words or less, you’re asking the wrong questions. The point, after all, is to get the conversation going. Open ended questions invite conversation; they encourage detailed answers that provide opportunities to springboard to other topics. They’re also much more enjoyable overall.
My personal favorite pivot question when I’m meeting someone for the first time is “so what’s your story?” Not only is this question broadly applicable in a wide array of social situations, but it can be taken in a number of different directions by the person you ask. It can mean “the story of tonight,” “who do you know at the party” or “how did you end up in $CITY?” It also sets a tone of friendly curiosity — you’re interested, but not unusually so. It’s low stakes, low investment and allows them to decide how comfortable they are at this moment. If they feel like sharing about themselves, they’re welcome to do so. If they feel like holding back a bit, that’s cool too. More often than not, however, people will respond by telling you more about themselves.
This is ideal, because it leads to the next stage:
The Connection — This is where you move from the initial chit-chat and start to build rapport with the person you’re talking to. The point of the connection is to create that feeling of “you get me”… and the best way to do that is to find those shared connections. Contrary to what decades of pop culture have taught us, opposites don’t attract. We like people more when they’re similar to us. The more similarities or points of commonality we share, the more we feel a connection.
Think of how you feel, for example, when you’re on vacation and meet someone from your home town. There’s that thrill of familiarity and shared experiences, even though you’ve just met. The same goes for finding people who like the same songs, books or movies as you, or discovering you have mutual friends. Emphasizing the ways you are similar helps build that sense of connection to one another in subtle but powerful ways.
At this stage, you want to make sure that you’re showing interest in getting to know them, rather than trying to impress them. Worrying about impressing someone works against you. It creates a mental frame of feeling like you need their approval, which works against your confidence. Worse, it rarely works. It comes across as try-hard, and you don’t even know what they value. Trying to flex when you know little about what matters to them can backfire on you. It doesn’t do you any good to brag about your high “status” job in finance to someone who thinks that venture capitalism is a plague.
Instead, you want to think of it as finding out what makes them worth your time. The mindset you want to adopt is that this person is fascinating and has a secret that makes them cool. Your job is to find out what it is by getting to know them. Showing that you genuinely think they’re interesting makes you stand out from all the guys who expect her to drool all over them.
— Reductress (@Reductress) August 29, 2021
It’s also important to show that you’re listening, rather than just waiting for your turn to talk. Active listening is a valuable skill, but especially when making a connection with someone. The easiest way to keep the conversation flowing is to take what they say, relate to it and return it. That is, find that point of interest or connection in what they say — “wow, yeah I get it. It must have been like…” — and then encourage them to continue with another question. “So what did you do after they…?”
The Close — this is the end of the interaction. Unlike the opening, the close is actually important, because it’s ultimately where you set expectations for how (and if) things proceed. At its most basic, you’re simply reaching the end of the conversation and going your separate ways. However, it’s also the point where — if you hadn’t already — you can set up the possibility of seeing each other again and connecting elsewhere.
Now, the thing to keep in mind is that the close doesn’t mean that this is the last time you talk to them. At parties, for example, it’s normal at a lull in the conversation to break things off and come back to talk to them later. In these situations, it’s easy enough to say “Hey, I have to go talk to X; will you be around later?” In this case, you’re making it clear that you’d like to talk to them again; this makes it much easier to reengage a little later that night and continue the conversation without feeling like you have to start from the beginning.
However, under other circumstances, the close is the perfect opportunity to connect elsewhere. The key in this case is to make it clear that you’ve enjoyed talking to them and want to do so again. “Hey, I’m really enjoying talking to you,” or “I have to go, but I’d love to talk more,” are all easy segues to asking for a way of getting in touch with them or seeing them again. Depending on circumstance and location, you could ask if they’ll be around after class, if they’re interested in going for coffee or a drink on a particular day (“next Wednesday” or “this weekend”, not “some time…”) or just getting their number.
As a general rule, it’s preferable to make plans to get together, rather than just to get their number or to ask to connect on WhatsApp, Kik or social media. When you have definite plans to see each other once again, they’re much more likely to respond when you text or message them and keep the conversation going. However, if you’re not there yet, that’s fine. Some connections are a slower burn than others, and you may prefer talking to them again before asking them on a date. If you aren’t sure that you’re in a place where you can actually ask them out, you can instead set expectations of seeing each other again.
I’m a fan of saying “I’m usually here on X days or time, so hope I see you again,” if I feel like there’s a potential connection but not quite at the point of a number or a date. It creates windows of opportunity — both for serendipity but also for them to say “well, I’m usually here on Y days”.
And of course, there’s also just the pleasure of meeting someone interesting, even if nothing comes from it.
Don’t forget: this structure is just a guide, not something to be followed religiously. Give yourself room for flexibility and just let the conversation flow, rather than trying to control or direct it.
But how do you make sure that you’re the charming stranger they’d love to get to know?
Glad you asked, convenient rhetorical device…
Build Rapport with The LCD System
The single biggest mistake people make when it comes to building attraction is that people focus on the wrong areas. Far too many people put all of their attention on the very start of the interaction, convincing themselves that initial attraction is the most important. This is how you get people who convince themselves that they have to be X height or have the “six sixes” in order to date successfully. A classic example of this are people who focus almost entirely on the number of matches they do or don’t get on dating apps. Matching on Tinder isn’t the end of the game; it’s only the start. The initial connection is much like the opening of a conversation; it’s there to get the party started. You still have to connect and build rapport with people if you want to actually see them in person.
Building rapport is the most important part of the connection.
Rapport is best described as the moment that things “click”. One of the signs that you have strong rapport with someone is when it feels like you get each other on a deep and fundamental level. This is incredibly powerful, and can transform how people feel about you. This is what makes the difference between a pleasant conversation with a fascinating stranger and the story you tell your friends about how you two got together. It’s the singular feeling of “I’ve known you forever”, even though you’ve just met.
It’s also a feeling that you can create deliberately.
When you know how to keep the conversation flowing smoothly, how to build that sense of connection and mutual interest, you can build rapport incredibly quickly. It’s also very simple: you just want to remember LCD.
The three keys of building rapport are: Listening, Commonalities and Demonstration
Listening, for example, is about showing interest in others. We so rarely meet people who are actually interested in us and what we think or have to say, that being a good listener is like giving them a profound gift — one people enjoy more than food or money. Being an active listener and showing genuine interest in others is huge. You want to make sure to really listen; don’t interrupt, especially not to disagree or analyze what they’ve said. It’s more important to take things in than to try to correct folks, especially early on. Ask meaningful questions, and use the relate/return structure to demonstrate that you’re paying close attention. Use encouragers — “uh huh, wow, then what” — to show that you’re still listening and want to know more.
Similarly, labeling emotions or feelings can be powerful tools for creating rapport by showing that you understand them. “Wow, that must have really hurt,” or “that sounds like it was really exciting!” demonstrates that you’re empathizing with them. However, it’s important to be non-judgmental about how they feel. We rarely feel good when someone judges us, and even less so when a stranger does. The same applies to telling someone how they should feel — it’s rude and presumptuous and it breaks rapport. Understanding them is powerful and attractive; dictating to them how they felt or should feel is deeply unpleasant at best.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t talk or share anything about yourself; it just means that you prioritize what they think or have to say. You’ll have plenty of your own stories to share, especially when you relate to what they say. However, you want to be careful not to come across as trying to one-up or outdo them. This is part of the problem with trying to impress people; it can make it sound like you’re minimizing their experiences, even if you don’t intend to. It’s better to focus on relating to and connecting with the emotions of their stories or experiences than it is to try to sound cool or impressive. Yeah, your vacation in Bali may have been amazing, but it may not be the best thing to bring up in direct relationship to someone sharing an amazing experience they had.
Commonalities is all about emphasizing the things that make you similar to one another. This includes everything from shared values to goals or experiences. The more often you can find those moments that you (and they) can say “yes, exactly, you get it!” or “I know exactly what you mean”, the stronger that sense of similarity can be.
However, while that includes shared experiences, it also includes phenomena like similar body language, word choice and vocabulary or even vocal cadence. You may have experienced this yourself without realizing it — you may adopt a similar speech pattern, turn of phrase or even rhythm of someone you’re vibing with. Some people will even unconsciously pick up pronunciation or accents without being aware of it. These are all ways that we subconsciously use to connect and ingratiate ourselves with others. It’s a way of saying “look at how similar we are” on an almost subliminal level.
The same is true of body language. People who are attracted to each other or who get along often end up having very similar body language. They may take a drink at the same time, shift their weight to the same side or lean in the same direction. Again, it’s an almost unconscious decision that we often fall into without realizing it.
This is referred to as synchronizing, and it’s a powerful sign of just how in tune two people are.
But you can also choose to do this deliberately — what’s known as “mirroring” somebody. By subtly mirroring someone, you can increase that sense of connection and interest. If they lean to one side, you shift your weight so you lean the same way. When they’re resting their head on their hand, you might cradle your chin in a similar manner. If they tend towards more descriptive or emotional language, you might use similar language yourself. If they speak with a particular tone or tempo, you would adjust the way you speak to be similar to theirs — which increases feelings of being heard and understood.
However, the key is subtlety. You don’t want to play “man in the mirror” games and you’re not just out and out copying them. All that does is make them feel like you’re mocking them, which ends up breaking rapport. Very subtle mirroring, however, helps build that connection to the point that you will often synchronize and everything will feel natural and effortless.
Demonstration is all about expressing yourself and showing that you like and are impressed by them. Think of how often you worry about how someone feels about you. How many times have you been telling a story or anecdote that you are excited about and then you worry that you’re boring people? How good does it feel when they let you know just how much they’re enjoying hearing from you?
Now imagine giving that gift to someone else. For all that people say “whoever cares less, wins”, letting people know you find them fascinating is powerful. Don’t pretend that you’re too cool for the scene; you’re not, and neither is she. Being the person who wants to hear about the niche thing that gets them excited is a power move. It creates an incredible connection because you’re someone who gets them. You may not share their interest, but you can dig on how much they enjoy it.
Laughing openly at their jokes, emphasizing that you’re listening and giving them your full attention are, likewise, incredible tools for increasing rapport. Giving someone your full attention and approval is powerful, even in group situations — more so, in many cases. In a real way, you’re giving them validation by letting them be the center of focused and positive attention and showing that you value their time.
Keep in mind: this needs to be genuine. People can tell when you’re humoring them, and if they think you’re just pretending, you’re going to end up blowing the entire thing. This is especially true for women who’re used to being talked over, having their interests dismissed or told that they’re not interesting. They’re going to be especially sensitive to dudes snowing them. It’s better to be encouraging and ask questions that lead to different topics than it is to fake enthusiasm that you don’t feel.
However, demonstration isn’t just about demonstrating your interest. It’s also about modeling behavior that you’d want to see by demonstrating it yourself. Sharing information about yourself, showing enthusiasm and unabashed passion about the things you love encourages others to do the same. Being willing to be vulnerable and authentic gives others permission to do likewise. Show that you’re not afraid to laugh at your own mistakes or misadventures. You don’t want to dip too far into self-deprecating or denigrating humor, but be willing to own your dorkiness as much as your coolness.
Just as importantly, encourage reciprocation and sharing by being generous with compliments, particularly on topics that seem important to them. Many women are used to being told that their interests, experiences or thoughts are silly or inconsequential. Hearing “wait, no, that sounds rad as hell” can be huge.
Because at the end of the day, the thing that makes the difference between being “just some guy” and “THE guy” is how you make people feel. Understanding how to connect with people in ways that make them feel good is incredibly powerful. It’s a skill that’s easy to learn and easy to practice. And once you get the hang of it, it makes you magnetic.
Learn the right ways to connect and engage with people on that emotional level and your fear of approaching folks will vanish.
You’ll be the exact charming stranger that women would love to talk to.