DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I wanted to share a couple of similar experiences with you as I’m trying to learn from them.
A little background about me. I’ve started my journey when I graduated college in 2018. I really started focusing on my dating journey back in 2019. I was having trouble with the whole “just be yourself” vs “if you done this tactic, she would’ve liked you.” so at that time, I was more focused on what nuances I should pay attention to during my approaches. That means even though they felt a little forced, I ended up cold approaching whenever I can, one because I want to meet her and another reason is that even if I don’t get her, I’ll try and improve my game. Sometimes, it also results in anxiety because I just have no idea if she just doesn’t fancy me or if I done something wrong.
Ever since the pandemic started, I started realizing there were certain key moments in approaching that body language was present yet I wasn’t able to pick up on that. Now what I’m trying to do is I still plan on doing cold approaches, but I’m trying to utilize body language to ensure I don’t end up approaching girls who don’t want to be approach. Considering I don’t see much active signals thrown at my way, I also look for open signals (I call it that to describe signs a woman is not really looking at me yet she is open to talking.) I have two recent stories I wanted to share.
These two stories are pretty similar. They’re both about a girl and her friend enjoying a picnic together.
Scenario 1: I was just walking around a park in my old neighborhood and I see a couple of girls just sitting on the hill having a picnic. They don’t see to be looking into a crowd, but their body language seemed relaxed as if they’re just having a fun conversation. It didn’t seem like they were too focused on talking to each other otherwise their body language would have them leaning closer instead of backwards. This was my initial assessment and I decided to go up and talk to them. The conversation went pretty good, I made a few jokes that got her laughing. I think where I messed up is I let my nerves get the best of me to immediately asking for her number when back then I would’ve just build rapport and repartee (this was at a time where I was thinking in my head to remember to do this and that, whereas this one I was letting my body somewhat take over to not be too technical with this.). Ultimately she told me she was seeing someone, so I took that as a rejection and told her to have a great day. I took it as a win because I was able to have a good back and forth conversation with them.
Scenario 2: I was at another park and I see a couple of women also sitting down having a picnic. However, this one felt very different to me. Even though both of their body language was facing outside and not each other, they were also hunching their backs down and payed attention to their food. I also took the location of their spot into account, they’re away from people. I wasn’t sure if these were girls that didn’t want to be bothered or if I was just psyching myself out. What I did is I walked over there and looked around, and tried to make eye contact and she looked back at me a little bit but she went back to her friend. I walked past them. I was wondering if she was continually checking me out even if I wasn’t looking. So I looked back and caught her looking at me, but immediately turned my attention away. I think she gave me eye contact as she was looking out if I was gonna approach her or not as if she’s getting ready to deal with that. I didn’t see any other signs of interest nor disinterest after that. At the end of the day when I decided to go home, I was walking back to my bike and they were still at that same spot. I could tell that she wasn’t trying to move her face towards me, but was side eyeing me to see what’s going on if I was gonna do anything. My conclusion with this is that these girls didn’t really want to be approached by a guy at all, they just wanted to enjoy each other’s company. Of course me coming near could shake that sense of security they want to have so it may have made it worse.
My conclusion is since Scenario 1 they seemed to be having fun and open with their body language, it was okay for me to approach. However, scenario 2 is the exact same setup as Scenario 1 but the body language and context there suggested that they just want to be left alone. I wanted to share this experience but I didn’t want someone giving me pickup jargon i.e “you should’ve just gone up and talk to her” without risking harassment. I’ve read your articles and you seem to break it down for a lot of readers, so I’d like to know your perspectives on my situation.
I would like to get better at reading situations before making the approach to ensure I’m approaching at the right times and not at the worst possible times.
DEAR LONELY DAYWALKER: Alright LD, congratulations for wanting to get better at meeting people. And right off the bat: yes, you read scenario 2 correctly. They were just having a picnic and wanting to spend time on their own. They were facing each other — clearly interacting with one another — and set away from everyone else because, in all likelihood, they didn’t want to be bothered. They were likely watching you as you walked past because they were wondering what exactly you were going to do. You made eye-contact and were kind of lingering, so now they were asking themselves “ok, is this guy going to come over and start talking, or is he going to keep walking and let us enjoy our lunch?”
In scenario one, they were likely having a similar situation; they were enjoying a picnic when you came and talked to them. But I don’t think that was ever going to go anywhere…
In fact, with that in mind, I’m going to use your letter as a bit of a digression, LD, because this is something that comes up a lot.
One of the things that comes up a lot around here is the idea of “where do you meet women”? The problem is that a lot of dudes focus on making what are known as “cold approaches”; that is, approaching strangers that they have no pre-existing social connection with. As a result there is a lot of emphasis on either approaching women at bars or clubs or approaching women during the day as they’re going about their business. And, in fairness, I’ve written a lot about cold approaches, so I’ve definitely contributed to this. But as time has passed, my approach (er… as it were) to the concept has evolved, as has the way I recommend that people pursue them.
The problem that keeps cropping up is that people latch onto cold approaches as the ne plus ultra of meeting potential partners — whether they’re looking for a relationship or to find someone to hook up with. And that actually ends up being counterproductive.
One of the biggest issues with this “approach every stranger you see” is that nine times out of ten, it’s going to feel like you’re trying to pick them up, and that’s going to work against you. Just about every woman you know in your life has multiple stories about how dudes treat them existing in public space as a sign that those women are there for guys to hit on. And honestly that can get exhausting for the people who’re on the receiving end of it. Think of it like this: you’re hanging out with a friend or walking down a street and someone with a clipboard comes up and starts soliciting… something. Signatures for their petition, donations for their charity, whatever. And as soon as you convince that person that no, you’re not signing, you’re not interested in donating or what-have-you — and they are determined to keep talking until, like demons of old, you have denied them three times — another one comes along with a similar spiel.
Now imagine that happening to you for the next four hours.
Cold approaches in general — especially the way most people go about them — are very goddamn difficult. You are, for all intents and purposes, trying to persuade someone you have literally just met to start a romantic or sexual relationship with you… usually within the span of 20 minutes to an hour. To be perfectly blunt… that’s not how most people start relationships. The vast majority of people meet their partners either through mutual friends, shared activities or dating apps. While the meet-cute cold approach makes for a romantic story… it’s not really the most effective way of meeting people, and focusing on it has a tendency to make most of your interactions with people mechanical and not terribly enjoyable for everyone.
But just as importantly is what I said earlier: you inevitably feel like you’re trying to pick them up and under the best of circumstances, that’s likely to make people uncomfortable. They’re not interested in being picked up, especially by someone who knows nothing about them. That’s going to work against you at times and places where “hooking up with a stranger” isn’t part of the social context.
Now notice that I said 9 times out of 10. The remaining 10%, things feel smoother and more organic because you weren’t trying to pick them up, you were just talking. The cold approaches that are the most successful, especially in the daytime, tend to be the ones that are the least like approaches. These are the times when you find an opportunity to just start a conversation with somebody and things proceed from there. These work best at times when the conversation feels organic, something that occurs naturally, instead of feeling like a dude who’s hitting on them. Getting hit on by randos isn’t as much fun as you’d think. But an encounter with a fascinating stranger who’s fun to talk to and — critically — isn’t there to hit on you is an enjoyable experience that can lead to more. Think of it this way: which makes a better “here’s how we met” story: you rolled up on ’em to pick one of ’em up, or a chance remark started a conversation that lead to your inviting them to a shindig you were throwing that night?
Most folks — especially the ones you’re likely to be hitting on, would prefer the latter.
So, for example, using an open observation about something around you — the song on the in-store music system, the dude who just biffed straight into the door on the way out, whatever — can be a start to a conversation at, say, your local coffeeshop. Similarly, sitting at the counter at a diner or the bar and chatting with the bartender or the folks next to you can likewise lead to a more personal conversation. I’ve had success when I’ve started conversations with folks I’ve seen sketching at bars or coffeehouses — I was legitimately interested in what they were working on and focused more on just chatting and building rapport, than trying to pick them up. That particular mindset — this person is doing cool stuff, I’d like to know more about them vs. this person is hot and I want to bang ’em — makes all the difference. I’m showing interest in them as a person, but I don’t have an agenda other than a decent conversation and then going my way. If things click and we catch a vibe then hey, great! If not… well, that’s cool too, and I’m off to go do my own thing.
And the curiosity about them vs. trying to pick them up likewise changes the tone of the interaction. I don’t even know anything about them other than how they look, so going in with a mind towards getting a date is going to make them feel like an object. And while sometimes you’ll meet folks who are likewise open to getting picked up, especially at particular bars or clubs, not everyone is. Coming to the interaction with a mindset of “you seem like you’re interesting and I just want a nice conversation” means that everyone relaxes, everyone can enjoy the interaction for its own sake and anything else that happens is a bonus. You’re getting to know them and then deciding if you’d be interested in more, based on more than just what they look like. They may be hot enough to make a bishop kick in a stained glass window, but that’s not enough to decide whether or not they’re worth trying to hook up with. Hot is nice, but hotness goes away when you find out that they like eating live kittens or whatever.
And for that matter, even folks who are hot like to be appreciated for more than what they look like. As the saying goes: compliment the beautiful for their intelligence. Showing that you dig them for themselves and not their looks makes you infinitely more charismatic.
Now this isn’t to say that cold approaches are bad. It’s a very useful skill to cultivate, especially when you’re in an area where you don’t have a pre-existing social network. But relying them to exclusion as a way to meet potential dates is likely to make life harder for you and much more frustrating.
So my overall suggestion is that you dial back the “looking for opportunities to practice cold approaches” and simply take more opportunities to have conversations — ones that occur naturally and more organically than approaching a couple girls having a picnic. You have far more opportunities for casual conversations than you realize, and with more people than just women you find attractive. Becoming comfortable with talking to anyone — men, women, everyone — means that you’ll be naturally more charismatic and fun to talk to, and you won’t have the vibe of only being interested in talking to the hot chicks. It’ll help put your anxiety at ease, because all of your interactions will be much more enjoyable and fulfilling. You’ll be in a headspace to enjoy them for their own sake instead of worrying so much about signs, signals and tactics or doing everything perfectly so that they’ll like you.
Plus: if you’re comfortable with talking with everyone, you’ll be in a much better position to take full advantage of those organic opportunities when they do arise… even when you weren’t actively looking for them.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com