Confidence, Get Some
Well, the good news is that it's probably just a confidence issue. The bad news is that confidence can be a bit tricky if you weren't born with it (I know; I wasn't). But don't worry: we've outlined some of the basic techniques you can develop to break the ice, and you won't even have to worry about pick up lines once you've mastered the following.
Eye ContactYou know that really annoying song by the British boy band One Direction, "You Don't Know You're Beautiful?" The one about the girl who spends all her time smiling at the ground because she doesn't know how gorgeous she is? Well, as cheesy as they may sound, this is a common problem. And not just for women, but it's not nearly as adorable when it's a guy who shuffles around staring at his feet because he doesn't have the confidence to look up. It's a double standard for sure, but it's one that's ingrained in our consciousness: we like confident people and women especially like confident men. So look up! And catch someone's eye. You'll be happy you did.
I was extremely shy all throughout high school and college. Then I moved to London to go to grad school and started frequenting an inordinate amount of nightclubs. It was there I discovered the power of eye contact. I would scan the room, make my pick and zoom in, all from the comfort of my bar stool. I had no idea how powerful eye contact could be, but eventually I got to a point when I could basically will a man to come to me without even opening my mouth.
It was amazing, and it opened up an entire new world of possibilities. Granted, there is an art to it. You don't want to spend the entire night staring at someone; it's better to look, then smile, then look away. Check back a few seconds later and maybe add an eyebrow raise, or, if you're a woman, use that whole blushing beauty thing to your advantaged and lower your gaze. And be careful. If you make eye contact with someone by accident, you may have to spend the rest of the evening warding off unwanted advances but it's worth the risk.
SmileSince you've already gone to the dentist, your smile should be bright and clean and better than ever. Flaunt it. Nothing breaks the ice as well as a smile. A smile says, "Hey! I'm nice. And available. Come talk to me." If you're not comfortable striking up a conversation with a complete stranger, let your smile do the talking for you.
PostureStand up straight! Don't slouch. Shoulders back, chin up, the whole nine yards. Staring at the ground and slumping your shoulders says, "I don't really know what I'm doing" but projecting confidence is as easy as adjusting your posture.
If you're a habitual arm crosser, stop. Uncross your arms and try to open yourself up a bit. If you're at a bar or a party, grab a drink so you have something to do with your hands other than shoving them into your pocket. And if you're out with a group of friends or even on your own, turn sideways. You'll have a much greater chance of catching someone's eye and your body language will signal that you're available.
Pep TalkIf the thought of saying hello to someone new fills you with terror, know that you are not alone. I used to be the same way. Dating 31 men in a sixteen month span helped me get over that but you don't need to become a serial dater to stop staring at the floor. Before you go out, think about all of the great things you've been doing to kick start your love life. You've been trying new things, wearing new clothes, following a new workout regime, and it hasn't killed you. Smiling, making eye contact and projecting confidence through your body language aren't going to kill you either. In fact, they'll signal to the world that you are open and ready for business, and once that happens your future other half will step in to do the rest.<
- Look around. Catch someone's eye. Smile. Or coyly raise an eyebrow. Or lower your gaze. Keep experimenting until you discover your "look" and once you've figured it out, do it again, and again, at least five times a day until you don't have to think about it anymore.
- Ask a trusted friend to observe you in a social situation. They may notice things you weren't even aware of, like the fact that you tend to cross your arms or hide in the corner behind your security blanket of friends. Listen to what they have to say. For extra credit, ask them to give you a secret signal if they notice you falling back into your old habits so you can correct yourself on the spot.
- Start saying hello to everyone: your neighbor, your mailman, even the crazy old lady next to you on the bus. With a bit of practice, you'll be chatting up the cute checkout girl in no time.