Talking to strangers you hope to one day see naked is a nerve-racking endeavor. What if they don’t like you? What if it’s awk city? What if you get in front of them and don’t know what to say? The good news is that talking to hot girls is not nearly as hard as we’ve made it out to be in our minds. Read on to learn the dos and don’ts of conversing and building connections with the librarian babe (or equivalent!) of your dreams.
Did you know that people who maintain eye contact are perceived as having higher self-esteem, appear to be more reliable, warm, sociable, honest, attractive, and confident? Numerous studies have shown the impact good eye contact has not just ourselves, but on those we are speaking to. And yet, how many of us — especially when feeling shy or nervous — immediately shift our eyes in any other direction than at the person we’re talking to?
Before you attempt to chat with your dream girl, practice looking people in the eye until they look away. Do this for a few days with everyone you encounter, even while talking, when our tendency is to glance elsewhere. Make sure to smile and break contact occasionally so you don’t seem like a creepy stalker. But practicing holding someone’s gaze will help you feel more powerful and confident. Plus, eye contact increases intimacy, connection, and the quality of the interactions we have. And we barely have to do anything to change this! All it takes is practice.
Terrified of approaching a stranger? Practice doing it in a low-pressure, nonsexy way. Ask an attractive stranger for the time. Ask for directions. Ask for a napkin. Once you get more self-assured, you can extend the conversation for as long as you want. The point of doing this is not to get phone numbers or sweet lady kisses, but to get comfortable having friendly conversations with people you don’t know. Most of us are out of practice because we don’t do it on a regular basis, especially those who are more introverted and neurotic (like me). Plus, it’ll give you a chance to work on your eye contact and help you realize that a cute girl is also just a person with the same insecurities, fears, and caffeine addictions as you.
Part of coming off as a confident person whom women want to talk to is dressing for the part. This doesn’t mean you have to drop loads of cash on designer duds, however. It means dressing in a way that makes you feel awesome and shows that you have your own unique style. You do this by thinking about items that get you the most compliments (for me it’s a pair of well-worn red cowboy boots). My girlfriend does this by accident — she never leaves the house without her Amelia Earhart-esque aviator hat and a gigantic studded peacock necklace. She literally peacocks, and it gets her tons of attention (admittedly, some of it unwanted). Dressing uniquely helps you stand out among the sea of flannel and Doc Martens, and it helps to bolster conversations by giving ladies something to remark upon.
On the flip side, do notice and comment on other people’s clothing items/hairstyles/amazing boat shoes. Lesbians love to accessorize and are usually happy to discuss the finer points of bow ties, manicures, undercuts, or messenger bags with you.
Caveat: Don’t dress like somebody else because you think that’s how a “smooth” person dresses. Remember when there were at least a dozen Shane lookalikes at every queer party fidgeting with their carefully messed up hair and talking to no one? It’s awkward when you look uncomfortable in your own skin. Be yourself. You do you. You’re great.
Try not to overthink this one or you’ll psych yourself out. The first words out of your mouth are not that important. In fact, a simple, “Hey, I’m so-and-so” or even “Hi! I don’t know anyone at this party, so I’m meeting some new people” work just fine a lot of the time. What’s important is to be friendly and sociable and gauge the other person’s interest. I once picked up a girl by asking her for money (a quarter for the pool table). She didn’t have one, but it got us talking and a few minutes later I asked for her number, and she gave it to me. So remember, it’s not what you say, so much as it is about establishing a conversation. And remember that awkwardness can be endearing, so don’t fixate on being smooth or suave.
If the idea of going up to a stranger with nothing to say freaks you out, don’t worry. It freaks a lot of people out. That’s why 90% of the time, girls never talk to each other, instead making half a second of hungry eye contact and praying someone else will make the first move. This is good news for you because it means 90% of your competition is standing in a corner clutching their low-calorie beer and doing nothing! While this tactic may work on TV shows, in the real world it’s a terrible strategy that never works. So what helps break the ice? Using what’s going on around you. Is someone trying to pretend they don’t love dancing to whatever Taylor Swift song is playing? Use it. Did someone nearby show up in a mesh top, go-go boots, and nothing else? Comment on it.
Caveat! Don’t be negative or judgey, like, “Look at that weirdo. Has she no shame?!” Instead say something like, “I wish I could pull that off,” or relate a story from your own life. “One time I was a slutty lobster for Halloween, dressed in a similar outfit. It was hard for me to be out in public in so little! Is that easy or hard for you?” Another topic that works, especially if it’s a group looking serious, is to say something like, “I’ve seen that look before. Did someone’s ex just show up?”
Contrary to common sense, people like you more when THEY do favors for you, rather than when you do favors for them. This is known as the Ben Franklin Effect and it’s named after Franklin because he used it as a strategy to turn an enemy into an acquaintance. Franklin asked his hater to loan him a rare book, appealing to the hater’s ego. The enemy, flattered, sent it, and afterward spoke to Franklin for the first time. So instead of offering to buy ladies drinks, ask them to buy you one instead. Or, if that’s too high-pressure, start smaller. Ask them to grab you an extra lime from the bar or to watch your stuff for you while you go to the bathroom. They’ll be invested in you without you even trying.
People love to share their opinions and weigh in on discussions, so leading with an opinion question often works well. For instance, I write dating advice columns, which means I almost always have relationship questions on my mind, but you can use examples from your own life or your friends’ lives as well. “Let me get your opinion on something. My friend just started dating this girl who’s in the closet. It’s really weighing on her. Do you think she should stick it out?” Or: “Are you friends with your exes? Because my friend is having a hard time with this one.” Or there’s, of course, the proverbial queer lady question: “How soon is too soon to U-Haul?”
If relationship talk doesn’t do it for you/her, pursue other topics:
Travel: “I’m overdue for a vacation. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?”
Style: “Could I pull off leather pants/a Ruby Rose haircut/a rainbow bowtie? My friends think so but I don’t know if I trust them.”
TV shows/Celebrities: “Do you watch Orange Is the New Black? My friend thinks Alex is the hottest, but I’m team Poussey. What do you think?” This can be hit-or-miss depending on if she watches the show, but if not, you can ask her what she does watch and go from there.
If you haven’t seen Amy Cuddy’s revolutionary TED talk about faking it until you become it, do it now.
Done? Good. If you skipped it, here’s an easy life hack for appearing and feeling confident: Adopt a power pose (I’m partial to the Wonder Woman). In as little as two minutes, power posing reduces your cortisol (stress) and increases your testosterone (confidence). Even if you don’t feel transformed, adopting a powerful stance makes others perceive you as confident and powerful. So take a look at your posture when you’re talking to a hot lady, and make sure you’re looking her in the eye, standing tall, and taking up space. (I do this before job interviews too and it really helps.)
Raise your glass and “cheers” people. It’s nice to have a reason to do this (Women’s World Cup victories, same-sex marriage celebrations, pride, and so on), but you don’t even really need one. The girl will most likely ask what you’re cheersing, which gets the conversation going right off the bat. Is it Friday? Cheers. Are you having a good time? Cheers. Are you talking to a cute girl? Major cheers. High-fives also work if you’re not holding a glass. Spreading good energy makes people feel good and makes them more receptive to talking to you.
Here’s a tip that’s worked well for me in the past. I learned how to do some palm reading, which can be accomplished in an hour on the internet. I looked it up because I was genuinely interested in it, but what I didn’t realize was how interested people became in me after learning this very basic skill. It’s not surprising when you think about it. People love to hear about themselves and learn about themselves. Why else would we take a thousand internet quizzes about what kind of cheese we are? (I’m Gouda, if you’re curious.) Horoscopes are also very popular for this reason, and so are tarot cards, etc. The same goes for palm reading. Plus, it gives you an excuse to touch them in a familiar and sweet way. (Hand-holding is nice!) If you’re nervous about looking like you don’t know what you’re talking about, just take it in stride. That’s actually a perfect excuse to “practice” anyway. Tell her you’re learning so she shouldn’t take this one reading and invest in the stock market or anything. And, I like to end my “readings” by saying something cute that is obviously about me, such as, “Soon you’ll meet a someone, and feel a strong connection right away. Possibly she’ll be wearing glasses and holding your hand within the first few minutes.” It might not lead to anything, but it will definitely make her smile.
We all fall into the trap of “getting to know” new people by asking the same tired questions we’ve all been asked thousands of times. So what do you do? Where are you from? What are your hobbies? The answers to them are almost always: ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz. And while it’s possible the gal you’re chatting up has an interesting or weird job, it’s more likely that she’s in the service industry or works in a cubicle, which doesn’t necessarily lend itself to scintillating conversation.
Instead, a better question to ask is to find out what she’s passionate about. While it can be a touch awkward to go up to a stranger and ask her about her passions, I’ve found it helpful to start with a guess. “You seem thoughtful. Are you a writer?” Or “You have a great style. Are you an artist?” Because lots of queer girls are artists, even if not professionally, it’s not a terrible guess, but even if she says, “No, I’m an insurance adjustor,” it’s still somewhat easy to follow up with a question about what she loves to do.
It’s tempting to drink our way to bravery (I’ve certainly done it many times), but stop short of getting full-on blitzed. Being hammered seriously reduces our ability to pick up on how others are feeling and perceiving us; though you may be feeling super charming, it’s more likely that you’re coming off as obnoxious, slurry, and gropey. I once pursued a lady I had been flirting with earlier by following her into the bathroom. In my inebriated state, I thought it’d be a great idea to woo her while she was peeing. She slammed the door in my face, in case you’re wondering how that worked out. Another time, I tried to suavely lean my elbow on a table while talking to a lady, missed the table entirely, and ended up taking BOTH OF US DOWN.
If you’re at the stage of drunkenness where others are offering to take care of you, don’t attempt to be a Donna Juan. Just don’t.
Girls you talk to will probably also ask you the standard small-talk questions. If you love your job, great, talk about that. If not, then keep the job talk short and instead tell her about what excites you outside of work. A friend of mine is great at this. If asked, she’ll say she’s a server, but that she’s far more interested in fixing bikes at the co-op where she volunteers, writing lyrics to funny songs, and teaching herself how to make fancy cocktails. In telling new people what she loves doing, as opposed to simply what pays the bills, she’s providing them with other possible topics to discuss, proving that she’s interesting, and giving them opportunities to get to know her on a deeper level.
So think about what excites you. What do you love about it? How does it make you feel? Even if your hobbies are super nerdy or fringy, if you can speak about them passionately, that excitement will come across and pique the person’s interest. Plus, happiness and good energy are contagious. Caveat: Don’t monologue. It’s one thing to talk about your love of manga, but it’s another and less desirable thing to give a 20-minute lecture on it, especially when you’re trying to get to know someone.
I don’t do much talking on the dance floor (because it’s loud and I’m kinda deaf and then later they get offended when I can’t “remember” their name that I never actually heard). But dancing is a phenomenal icebreaker for a few reasons. One: Moving your body around and getting your heart rate up reduces stress and anxiety. If you’re nervous about talking to hotties, you’d do well to get your sweat on first. It helps calm and expel nervous energy. Two: It’s another nice way to connect with someone in a physical way (don’t be too grabby, though!).
I can hear you moaning already that you’re “a terrible dancer! I look like a Muppet on drugs!” Here’s the thing, though: You don’t have to be a B-Boi or a Fly Girl to have fun dancing. In fact, it’s almost better if you’re marching to your own damn drummer. It’s more memorable. Some of my friends who excel at hitting up new people are the ones who dance like they don’t give two Macarenas.
The important thing is to look like you’re having fun. (Remember how we talked about being comfortable in your own skin? That’s applicable here too.) One of my most successful “tricks” (it’s not a trick, it’s just me amusing myself) is to mime that I am fishing and reel a girl in on my imaginary pole. It works because it’s unexpected and playful (plus, miming!), and at the end of the day, that’s all flirting is — getting to know someone in a playful way. So try out some weirdo moves! Try locking eyes with a girl on the dance floor and then shadowing her moves, sort of like they do in capoeira. Try having a vogue-off or a walk-off. Try holding your hands out to her. If she takes them, spin her around and have fun with it. Then once you’ve established a physical connection and need a break, say to her, “I’m thirsty. Let’s get a drink!” And talk to her in a quieter setting.
Now that you have an arsenal of talking tactics, don’t just sit there! Go out and do the thing. The more you practice, the better and easier it’ll become. You can even write to me and let me know how it goes. I’m rooting for you.
As the fantastic writer and queer lady Susan Sontag eloquently put it: “Do something. Do something. Do something.”