When it comes to asking people out, there are a fair number of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind. If you approach a stranger too intensely and in the wrong circumstance, they might have an adverse reaction to your advances and dismiss you as “creepy.” But if you shy away from ever taking that same risk, you might miss out on the chance to meet somebody who — maybe, just maybe — turns out to be your soul mate.
When it comes to mastering the art of asking somebody out in a public space, there is a fine line between doing it in a way that comes across as weird and one that comes through as charming.
Here are five tips to assist you in navigating the daunting prospect of asking out that cute girl or guy that you couldn’t help but notice:
1. Drop the cliché one-liners.
Unless you’re intentionally trying to work the “so purposefully cheesy and painfully awkward that it might actually be mildly endearing” angle, corny pickup lines and “you come here a lot?” retorts are not your friends. While they’re more ridiculous than they are blatant red flags, they’re still unoriginal, and you could do so much better than simply regurgitating tired clichés. They’re also deeply impersonal and reveal almost nothing of significance to the person you’re hoping to woo.
Instead, opt for making conversation on something that is more pertinent to the circumstance you find yourself in: If you happen to be waiting around for your food or coffee, start a conversation with the pretty girl next to you about how much you love this spot (or alternately, how you’ve never been here before and hope they make a mean vanilla latte).
Or, say you’re at a concert. It would make a lot more sense to get close to that attractive guy in the crowd with some kind of comment, observation or statement about the artist you’re both there to see. Don’t forget that dating is a process of finding things you have in common with other people and solidifying connections based off of those shared interests.
Relying too much on a stale and stereotypical dating script is a sure way to kill the exciting spontaneity that comes with getting to know someone. Do yourself a favor and leave the pickup lines at home where they belong.
2. If you’re not getting a reaction, don’t insist.
Rejection isn’t always a sign that you’re going about things the wrong way or that there’s an inherent flaw in how you’re approaching the other person. It could be as much as the person you had your sights on not quite vibing with you. Suffice to say, if you’re not getting any sort of reaction from them, steer clear of pursuing the conversation blindly.
It’s important to be sensitive to other people’s facial expressions and body language, so as to gauge how they’re responding to you and if you happen to be infringing on any personal boundaries. That’s why if you detect — or so much as suspect — a lack of interest or an unamused demeanor on their part, don’t hesitate to bring the conversation to an end as politely as you possibly can. You should never coerce, or pressure, for that matter, someone into engaging in an interaction they’re clearly not comfortable with.
And remember: So many of the chances we take in life don’t always pay off. Keep your head up, and don’t let one snub discourage you from putting yourself out there again in the future.
3. Short and sweet hits the spot.
Sometimes the best method for asking somebody out is the most direct one. Yes, you could always pick a conversational topic and try to draw the other person in with it, but maybe you start talking and find it impossible to segue into the part where you ask them for their number or out on a date. That’s why sometimes it’s worthwhile to consider a more candid strategy.
Go up to them. Let them know that they caught your eye from across the room and that you’d like to know if they might be interested in getting to know each other. I can’t guarantee that everyone will love this option, as it’s rather blunt and you’ll still remain strangers to one another at the end of it, but there will be some who will appreciate the sincere transparency that comes with someone admitting their intentions right off the bat.
Asking somebody out doesn’t always call for a long and overworked conversation that sprawls interminably. Every now and then, go ahead and just bite the bullet.
4. Don’t make it a spectacle.
There is such a thing as “too much” when it comes to asking somebody out in a public space.
If it’s a place filled to the brim with other people — whether that’s a crowded coffee shop or a university library during finals week — be wary of the prospect of putting this person in an uncomfortable situation where they might resent all eyes being on them. Save the spectacle for a marriage proposal.
When you’re planning to approach someone for the first time and you’re not familiar with their embarrassment levels or the extent of what they’re at ease with, keep it as subtle and discreet as possible.
5. Choose the right moment
If you have to chase the person down your campus to ask them for their number, interrupt them while they’re in a middle of a group setting or intrude into what seems to be an intimate conversation with a close friend, you might want to think twice about doing it at all.
If someone looks like they’re rushing down the street in a hurry, it’s probably not the best option to run after them or stop them in their tracks with the hopes of initiating a conversation. Ideally, you want to pick a moment when the person appears to be relaxed and unoccupied —when they wouldn’t mind as much being approached by a stranger and would be more inclined to partake in a conversation.
In that same way, if you see a beautiful girl on the street but it’s dark and she’s walking all alone, put your private inclinations to the side and think about the kind of stress it would put her under if you chose to pursue her in those circumstances.
At the end of the day, when it comes to asking people out in public, so much of it necessitates an honest reflection on how you yourself would want to be treated and what would eliminate feelings of discomfort and danger in the person you’re hoping to impress.
Above all, don’t forget that your personal affinities should never come at the expense of other people’s sense of safety and security.