When it comes to approaching cute strangers, my game level is a solid medium. When it comes to approaching anyone I remotely have/had/or may eventually have a crush on, I devolve into peak awkwardness no matter how many Tito's and sodas I've ingested.
Case in point: I was out in New York with friends and we spotted Adrian Grenier (yes, of Entourage fame) a few tables down from us grabbing drinks with his dog. So darn adorable.
My friends and I usually try to be cool New Yorkers who don't approach celebs, but he did seem a little lonely, TBH. So lonely that one of my friends got up, followed him to the bathroom, and returned to our table with him. He took a picture with us like an angel.
I was horrified and mortified... but also in awe of this friend.
I am awkward; she was not. She went balls to the wall to ask for what she wanted, no apologies or questions asked. It worked.
Inspired by my friend's bravery in the face of actual celebrity, I decided that I should be able to talk to my crush without melting into a pile of weirdo.
Julia Armet, director of matchmaking at Tawkify.com, and dating coach Stef Safran of Stef And The City shared some techniques that make talking to your crush easier when you feel awkward AF. Here they are:
1. Own Your V-Card
Nope, I don't mean your virginity. I mean your vulnerability.
Talking to a stranger is an act of bravery; talking to a crush is even bolder. You are inevitably going to have some nerves when it comes to talking to someone you are super attracted to.
"Accept the reality that vulnerability is an attractive part about you. Your natural reaction in your crush's presence is more authentic than a scripted maneuver," Armet says. The not knowing is what makes crushes fun.
"Smile and say, 'How's it going?' And then let your crush take it from there," Armet suggests.
Rather than plan a whole weird bumping-into-each-other thing out, just be yourself, nerves and all. We're semi-adults; there's no such thing as cooties, and it's 100 percent OK to let a person know you are interested in them.
"The reality is, vulnerability is the most attractive quality when you are out there in the dating world," Armet says.
Hear that? Vulnerability is hot.
2. Give A C-Word
And by C-word, I mean compliment. Have you ever received a compliment you didn't like?
Unless it's a backhanded, "You look less tired than you normally do," compliments are a pleasure to receive. They're also a pleasure to give to others.
Safran agrees that compliments are usually the easiest way to go. You don't have to compare his eyes to the ocean, but you could mention that you like his shoes. Or better yet, the points he made at today's meeting.
"When you are perceptive to a part of your crush's character beyond the physical, it shows that you see him for who he is," Armet explains.
Your crush will feel good, and you will be the reason for it.
Still feeling timid? "Have some water cooler type discussions ready to go; maybe your city is a sports city, maybe there is something trending that everyone is talking about," Safran says.
It's super simple. Literally start a conversation. Overthinking will only compound your awkwardness.
3. Keep It Casual
If your crush works with you or is in your larger friend group, it can be scary to cross the line from friendship to flirtation. There's a lot more at stake than when you're swiping through Bumble.
Start slowly with an invite outside of the world you usually hang out in and stay patient.
"Don't assume that you have to 'close the deal' with someone right away. Especially since it seems that many people go on dates that go nowhere, sometimes becoming friendly in a casual way by hanging out can determine if they are truly interested in you beyond work," Safran says.
It can be scary to ask a co-worker or friend out, so don't. Get to know them better first. "Take the risk of actually becoming friends before going to the next step," Safran says.
Invite them to grab coffee and talk about their experience at grad school, or ask them to a smaller group hang out. "Inviting a coworker to meet up outside the office is an actionable way of gauging his receptivity. This will be an opportunity to see the way he connects with you on a personal level," Armet explains.
Your crush won't assume you're hitting on them. And if they do? See tip number one. Vulnerability rules.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
I'm not saying you should start trying out pick-up lines in order to devise some elaborate plan to ask your crush out, but if you're feeling uncomfortable about making the first move, why not flirt with some strangers first?
Armet explains, "Practice with strangers and see the physiological response you have when you take those risks. By becoming familiar with those feelings, it will get easier to approach the guy you actually like without being so awkward."
Amen to that. Start small, aim big. Simply getting used to putting yourself out there is important.
And if a stranger rejects you? Great. It was a stranger. Plus, you'll never be able to fully open up if you are forever terrified of rejection.
Safran explains, "In order to be successful, you have to be OK with rejection. Plenty of people have actually even been rejected due to timing and not due to a lack of interest."
I love this. So many times I've harped on why things didn't work out, blaming my own actions, feelings, or even my body type, when down the road I've learned from an ex it really was timing and an imperfect match.
Practicing the worst case scenario — rejection — will make you far less nervous and awkward when it comes to your crush.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the fact that you have a crush. Crushes are the best. They're innocent, they make you feel like a kid again, and they make everything more exciting.
Still convinced you are "too awkward?" I would venture to say that awkward is just a bad word for vulnerable.
Everyone's a little awkward because everyone's a little vulnerable. The people who ask for what they want — whether they are talking to a crush or to Adrien Grenier — are nervous, too. They're just better at hiding the nerves and doing it anyway.
So fake it 'til you make it. Be patient. You're gonna crush it.