You can smile, run your hands through your hair and bat your eyelashes all you want, but eventually you're going to have initiate contact, and contact requires conversation.
Check YourselfDo you have lettuce stuck in your teeth? Is your hair okay? If you're out with friends, ask them to give you a quick once over before you make your move. If you're on your own, take a glance at your reflection in the bathroom mirror or a compact. Don't obsess, and don't be obvious about it but you want to make sure you're putting your best foot forward so take a moment to now to avoid embarrassment later.
Tic Tacs, Anyone?First impressions matter, and there's nothing more off putting than bad breath. Pop a breath mint a minute or two before you go in for the kill to ensure that your smile (and not your gingivitis) remains the main focus. Gum works too, but mints disappear so you'll be less tempted to blow bubbles or smack your lips. If you find yourself at a loss for supplies, take a drink of water, or - even better - use the situation to your advantage. "Do you have a mint?" might be the perfect excuse to start a conversation.
Break AwayIf you're out with friends, you'll need to break away from the pack. I know, I know. You brought your friends along for a reason. They're your security blanket. They're your wingmen. But they're also in the way. Conversely, if you're out with friends and hoping for someone to approach you, you'll have much better luck if you manage to strike out on your own. Sometimes a quick trip to the bar or the restroom is all it takes.
BreatheYou're both human. The worst that can happen is that you'll get shot down, and unless you're an airplane pilot (in which case, shouldn't you be concentrating on your job?) you're not going to die. Sure, it might sting a little but don't take it personally. Maybe your target wasn't actually single, or maybe he or she really was just out with friends and not looking to meet anyone. There are plenty of other fish in the sea so you need think about rejection as a sign that you're making progress. (One down, two dozen to go.)
Jump inThe longer you wait, the harder it's going to get to break the ice. Follow our 5-step guide in Lesson 6: Flirting 101 and as soon as you've gotten through the eye contact phase and the body language adjustment, it's time to make your move. If you don't, there's a chance somebody else will, and then you'll have to start the whole process all over again.
Start TalkingPick up lines are not the way to go, unless of course you have a great sense of humor and you're going for irony. (Although, keep in mind this requires that your irony by understood, and this is often easier said than done.) Try one of these techniques instead.
- Introduce yourself. Keep it simple and say, "Hi, I'm so-and-so." Common courtesy requires a response and although an ice breaker of this sort isn't the most clever, it will show that you're confident and confidence, as we all know, is very sexy.
- Ask a question. If you're at a bar or a coffee shop, try "What are you drinking?" "What do you recommend?" or even "Can you point me to the restroom?"
- Request technical assistance. I love this one, probably because I'm a technophobe and never manage to find a wi-fi signal on the first try but asking for help is a great way to get a conversation started.
- Ask for directions. I can still remember my college boyfriend asking me if I knew "where the waterfront was." I was sitting with my friends at a bench in Baltimore's Fells Point at the time, just a few feet away from the water's edge and found myself thinking, "My God, is this guy blind?" Turns out he was a Baltimore native and just looking for an excuse to talk to me. Moral of the story? Use being lost to your advantage, and if you're not lost, pretend you are.
- Say something nice. Everyone loves a compliment, so if you genuinely like someone's shoes or t-shirt or eyes, tell them. Be sincere, and don't act as though you're expecting anything in return. Chances are, however, that they'll be eager to hear more.
- Ask someone to dance. If you're a club or a party, you could, of course, just grab someone's hand (or another less appropriate body part) and pull them onto the dance floor. Asking their permission first, however, shows good manners, plus it gets the conversation flowing.
- The next time you're at a bar or coffee shop, try a new drink. But don't rely on your inner barista to steer you in the right direction; ask someone for a recommendation. Even if you don't find them even remotely attractive, do it anyway. It's good practice.
- Play helpless. Ask for directions, or technical assistance, or whatever strikes your fancy. As long as it gets you talking, its fair game.
- Commit to complimenting at least three people every day. It's okay if you start with the bus driver or the old lady who lives next door. The point is to get in the habit of saying nice things to others so when you find someone you're attracted to, you can let them know you love their shoes/tie/rock hard abs without feeling disingenuous.