Sometimes it's tough to be a single guy trying to meet a girl in the real world.
Nature has wired men to pursue: to "go forth and conquer" (or in today's world, you know, talk to people). But with online dating and everyone constantly being glued to their phones, it's increasingly difficult to engage with someone who catches your eye.
And yet, we can't blame everything on technology. Even if a guy has the confidence to approach a woman he sees, it takes two to tango, as they say. A conversation with yourself just makes you look like a creep.
As an offline dating coach, I consistently see women make two major mistakes when a man approaches them.
The first mistake is when women take the term "stranger danger" a little too far and become afraid or suspicious of engaging with everyone.
As a woman, I get it. The world can be a dangerous place. These days if I crave a good scare, I don't flip to the horror section of Netflix, I just pull up CNN.com.
But in reality, most of the "strangers" around us are actually fairly normal and nice people. Pausing for a second and listening to your feminine intuition before making a snap judgment about someone can really work wonders in the screening process.
It's finding that healthy balance between comfortably chatting up that man who just held the elevator for you and avoiding the crazy guy who's reciting his shopping list out loud on the bus.
The second common mistake is when a woman may be open to engaging with a guy who approaches her, but she completely misses the social flirting cues or doesn't know how to handle the interaction.
Here's an example.
I had a client. Let's call her Kate.
One day, Kate and I were chatting about how accessories can be great conversation starters, and I asked her which item she tends to get most complimented on.
She immediately answered, "My pink crystal necklace. Even guys compliment it".
I asked how she responded to keep those conversations going. She shot me a confused look.
"I usually just say 'thank you' and walk away… Oh. Crap."
"Did you really think all those guys were interested in your pink crystal necklace?"
Kate's face fell and I immediately knew she was having an "aha moment."
This is why I do what I do.
Here are three simple steps that show you exactly how to handle yourself when a seemingly normal and potentially cool guy approaches you.
Step 1: Always assume he's interested until proven otherwise
Picture this. You're in the grocery store, making flirtatious eye contact with that guy across the produce section, when suddenly he comes up to you and asks, "do you play volleyball? I swear I've seen you out on the beach before."
Your heart sinks. Turns out he was only looking at you because he thought you were some other girl, and after you responded that, no, you don't play volleyball, he's clearly not interested anymore. Right?
I'll venture to say that nine times out of ten when a guy says something like this to you (a modern take on "have we met before?"), he absolutely knows you aren't that girl from volleyball. He probably just made her up as an excuse to talk to you.
That's why you should always assume that when a man approaches you, he has some level of interest in you... unless he makes it very clear that he isn't interested in you.
Not only will this shift your mindset to a positive place where you consider yourself worthy of being someone's object of desire, but you'll also stop missing opportunities to flirt and engage.
Step 2: Think of something to say about the random icebreaker topic he just introduced
This step lowers the risk of rejection for both of you and helps determine if the comment or question was meant literally, or just as a way to start a conversation with you.
Saying something about the icebreaker topic could mean telling an anecdote or story, giving an opinion on it, or making a joke about it.
So for the volleyball girl icebreaker, you could respond with "I actually don't play volleyball; you're much more likely to catch me at an afternoon Cubs game."
Or maybe he made a comment about the beautiful weather. A reply along the lines of "Seriously, days like this are why I live here" paired with a big smile is perfect.
The main point is to initially stay on the random icebreaker topic while also revealing a little bit of your personality, style, or humor, so that he then has something to react to other than "Thanks."
If he's on the shyer side or needs a little help to keep the conversation going, not a problem. That leads us to Step 3…
Step 3: Ask "How's your day going?"
Ok, you responded with that cute Cubs game reference to grocery store guy (which also told him something you like to do for fun), he smiled, and... now what?
This last step serves as an acknowledgement to both of you that your conversation was never really about that girl who plays volleyball. It's about connecting with each other.
By asking "How's your day going," you move the conversation off the random icebreaker and into a more meaningful topic (a relief for everyone who hates small talk) and confirms for him that you're interested in getting to know him too.
That's it! Three easy steps to keep a random conversation going and meet someone special in an unexpected place.
Now that you have the power to create and progress a fun, flirtatious conversation with anyone who approaches you, share the knowledge with your single (or socially shy) friends so they too can take advantage of every random encounter that comes their way.