Planning a Cool Dating Approach

Okay, person who’s ready to begin dating for real, we’ve discussed who (both you and other, in Chapter 4) and we’ve talked where (both places to look and places to avoid, in Chapter 6). Now, you with sweaty palms, let’s talk how: how to turn possibility into opportunity, how to go for the gold, how to make the sale — in short, how to get a date.

The Eyes Have It

First rule: Eye contact is crucial. If you can’t connect with eye contact, you can’t connect. Eyes are not only the window to the soul, but being connected directly to the brain, they’re the primary information gateway for human beings (and we know that everything comes from the brain, in spite of your humming hormones). Make eye contact. No looking down at your shoes. No checking out buns or breasts or legs.

Focus your baby blues on the potential date’s baby blues. But for heaven’s sake, don’t stare (and remember to blink). You want to be perceived as soulful, not psychotic. The goal here is to show that you’re interested and sane.

From Your Mouth

After you make the contact with eyeballs, you need to verbalize what your eyes are telegraphing.

Using what works
When you approach someone, take this advice:

  • Be sincere. The key to being sincere is to mean what you say. Pleeeeze don’t practice sincerity in front of the mirror. For sincerity to work, you have to focus on the object (person, please) of your desire and believe what you’re saying. In the most basic sense, you are selling yourself, but the soft sell works the very best.
  • Be honest. If you’re a rotten dancer, say in a self-effacing, engaging way that you have two left feet. Don’t try to make yourself someone you’re not to impress someone you may or may not like. Don’t pretend to love jazz, collect Porsches, or own a yacht. On the other hand, telling the truth isn’t the same as baring your soul. To find out what you should and
  • shouldn’t divulge, see Chapter 20. Also, when it comes to discussing the other person, remember what your momma said: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
  • Be friendly. Who doesn’t like friendly people? When you’re friendly, you smile, you’re open, and you’re fun to be around. Be positive. I’m not talking goody-two-shoes here, just pleasant and upbeat.

Avoiding what doesn’t work

When you’re approaching someone, don’t be any of the following:

  • Cute: Unless you’re 6 years old, the Little Bo Peep routine gets pretty annoying pretty fast.
  • Slick: When you think of slick, think of snake oil salesmen. People don’t trust slick.
  • Obscene: Nothing is a bigger turn-off than lewd or disgusting gestures, jokes, and personal observations. Remember you’re in civilized society; if that doesn’t work, pretend your mother can hear every word you say.
  • Silly: Straws up your nose and lampshades on your head have never been attractive, so give it up and act like an adult.
  • Stupid: Acting stupid puts you in a catch-22: I mean, really, you act stupid to attract someone’s attention, but do you really want the attention of someone who finds stupid attractive?
  • Negative: Gossiping about someone brings up the very real possibility that you would gossip about present company.
  • Whiny: Please . . . I really don’t have to explain this to you, do I?

A word on compliments

It’s okay to be complimentary as long as the compliment is sincere and at least fairly reasonable and stays away from body parts below the neck and above the ankles. Saying to a fat person, for example, that he doesn’t sweat much isn’t even in the compliment ballpark. Saying “You remind me of my grandmother” (for either sex) isn’t too hot, either.

Admitting you’re not perfect

Given the reality that making the acquaintance of a stranger is tricky stuff (even if you believe that a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet), the idea is to be nonthreatening without looking like a complete wimp. That’s why being vulnerable really works. Consider the following:

  • Asking for help, directions, or an opinion. Most people are more than willing to jump in and help out, so take advantage of that tendency. Helping others brings out the best in all of us and also feels safe. At that moment, you’re in control. (Supermarkets are a natural; see Chapter 6 for details.)
  • Admitting that you’re nervous. Admitting that you’re nervous because you think someone is so cool is complimentary and sweet and honest. But once is plenty; more than that is whiny and makes you sound like an overstrung bundle of nerves. Panic isn’t sexy, and it’s sometimes contagious.
  • Admitting that you don’t normally do this but you’re so inspired that you’ve ignored your usual shyness, fear, or sense of propriety. Think about it: Aren’t you impressed when someone puts in extra effort and seems to be doing something for the very first time and you are the motivation? Heady stuff.

Perking up pick-up lines

Don’t even think about using lines like these:

  • “Come here often?”
  • “What’s your sign?”
  • “I must have died and gone to heaven, because where else would I see an angel like you?”
  • “If I told you that you have a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?”

The danger with overused, hackneyed pick-up lines is that they generally end up sounding like the equivalent of “Oh, baby, baby, hmm, hmm, hmm.”

So rather than practicing a pick-up line, follow these two guidelines:

  • Focus on the situation and your feelings. “I couldn’t help myself; I just had to come over and tell you your smile was keeping me from concentrating,” is ever so much better than “New around here?” “Do you know the hostess?” “Heard any good jokes?” and so on.
  • If the line sounds like a title to a country song, don’t use it.

Of course, an original pick-up line can be memorable. I have never forgotten a guy who said he knew I wasn’t from around here (I was in Alaska at the time) because I didn’t smell like fish. While I’m sure this line probably worked for
him once or twice, I just giggled and remembered the line, not him.

Never say, “My wife doesn’t understand me” or “You’re the best-looking person in the room” or “Want to spend the night with me?” on the assumption that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. We’re talking about finding a date, not spending the night in jail.