Struggling with how to approach a girl? It might help you to learn you’re actually in the majority here. In fact, it’s so common that we even have a term for it — Approach Anxiety. If you’re anything like I used to be, that term probably sums your struggle up pretty well.
Like so many things in dating, the best way to get over your approach anxiety is repetition. But of course, the first time will always be the most difficult. This process is exactly what we’re going to focus on today. How to push past your anxiety that first time and stick with it.
By the end of this guide, you’re going to have the tools you need to get out there and finally get a handle on that anxiety.
How to Approach a Girl the Right Way
First of all, I'd like to make one thing abundantly clear about how to approach a woman you like: There's no "perfect moment" or "best time" to approach. Stop allowing yourself to make that excuse or this is never going to improve. Again, speaking from experience.
Instead, I'll let you in on a little secret . . . You don't wait for the perfect moment, you create it!
This means you can approach absolutely any woman at any time, provided she's not showing obvious signs she's busy, in a hurry, or unavailable. She might even be giving off signs she wants you to approach.
Yes, you can even approach women who are with their friends and who are talking to other men. Because when a woman's talking to another man, it doesn't necessarily mean she's taken or that they have any relationship going on. You'd be surprised by how often that's not the case.
Besides, you can easily find out the nature of their relationship during the course of your conversation. By saying “So how do you guys know each other anyway?”
Where you're approaching also has a huge impact on how to think about this. If you want to successfully approach a girl in a club you're going to have a different approach than if you're on a bus.
The basics: look like a friendly stranger
I grew up in a conservative culture and the majority of women aren't equipped with social skills to deal with a conversation with a stranger. It's not surprising that a good percentage of women I approached would end up freezing up.
This means looking like a friendly individual is going to make all your conversations and interactions with women a hundred times easier. Whilst most pick-up artists obsess over arbitrary lines or techniques when talking to girls, you should focus on making her feel comfortable initially.
This is non-negotiable.
You don't have to go overboard and walk around in a three-piece suit. However, you should have at least some sense of fashion and grooming. This means clean shirts, jeans, and shoes that fit. Seriously, this is a common complaint from women and I have to agree with them, it’s not that hard!
Your first impression
Psychological research shows humans base the majority of our perception of people on the first couple of minutes we spend with each other. This initial perception extends and influences our relationship to the person for weeks and even months. So, assuming you approach a girl you’re attracted to, how can you make a good impression on her through your first couple of minutes?
You'll need to be dressed well, with a fitting t-shirt, jeans, and shoes as a bare minimum. You’ll also need to be well groomed — hair done, shaved or beard trimmed and smelling fresh. I shouldn’t have to say any of this but you’d be surprised just how often guys fail these basics.
Second, factors such as tonality and body language should be taken note of.
Body language, eye contact and tonality
You want to be going for neutrality and coming from a curious standpoint. You'll also want to have assertive but soft eye contact. Neutral body language and an assertive tonality will demonstrate that you're comfortable with starting this conversation, that you're no threat and you're also confident with asserting yourself.
Understand social norms
When you’re approaching a stranger on the streets and hitting on her directly, it’s something that’s out of the norm.
Going up to a girl and saying you find her cute is quite an unconventional behavior. It's not something that happens to the average woman daily and should be recognized as that. Because I recognize this and I call it out in my own interactions, I rarely creep girls out. It’s disarming and keeps me from looking like a “pickup artist” that walks around recording himself hitting on women. Most women I approach are willing to listen to me for at least 30 seconds as a bare minimum.
How to Introduce Yourself to a Girl in Person
With that out of the way, do you know what to say when approaching a girl?
The answer is pretty simple: Whatever is on your mind at that moment!
This may sound weird at first but it's essential for success. It's also something most men fail to understand. Because men usually believe they have to think of something amazing or "perfect" to say when approaching a girl. But that couldn't be further from the truth.
First, it keeps you from overthinking it — you can’t procrastinate while you try to craft that perfect line. Second, this isn’t Hollywood. There’s no such thing as a perfect introduction. All you’re trying to do is start a conversation and she’ll either be into it or not. That’s it. That’s all an approach is.
That's why I always discourage men from learning and relying on canned pickup lines. Because there's no perfect line for every occasion and each approach is unique. Since every woman you approach is a unique individual with her own likes, dislikes, desires, wants and needs. This is why you should treat every approach as a new opportunity.
Plus, it’s mostly not about what you say, but how you say things. That’s why body language, tone, attitude, eye contact and similar things are significantly more important than some “line”. No matter how you deliver it, a canned line will always sound like a canned line.
By walking up and saying what you’re thinking, you’re making it easier for yourself and it’ll be much more lighthearted and fun. Generally, this is how women want to be approached.
An example of approaching women based on appearance
Since I want to teach you how to correctly approach a woman you like, I'll give you a couple of great examples.
Let's say you're going about your business in a bar and you notice an attractive woman walk by. She's caught your attention and you want to approach her. But how do you do that in a successful way?
Well, you take a good look at her and notice something you genuinely like about her.
It can be anything that catches your eye. Her style, hair, clothes, figure etc. It can even be how she carries herself, what purse or accessory she's wearing, or something you notice about her demeanor and personality. As long as you notice it and genuinely like that about her as a person.
Let's take something simple and say you noticed her hair and then thought to yourself "Wow, her hair looks awesome!"
What you do next is simply walk up to a girl at a bar and say exactly what you were thinking: "Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice what an awesome haircut you have! It instantly caught my eye and I just wanted to tell you that. My name's Andy, by the way. What's yours?"
Do you see why something like that would work?
What I said in that situation was completely improvised on the spot, so there was no pressure on me or her.
There was no rehearsing this line. I didn't wait for the perfect moment to say it or try to figure out what the best thing to say was. I just told her what I thought about when I saw her.
If you say something like this in a normal, relaxed and friendly manner, it's incredibly endearing and disarming. It’s also a very authentic thing you do, which is always attractive.
Most of the time, this is all it takes to get a great conversation started. When she tells you her name, you can just continue talking to her about whatever you fancy.
At this point, engage her in some light and fun small talk. If things go well after that and she sticks around, then begin flirting and take things from there.
A great example: fashion accessories
Let's say you thought her shoes were unique. It's as simple as saying "Hello! I saw you walking by and your shoes instantly caught my eye. So I thought to myself I just had to meet someone who's got such great taste and I'd be very disappointed in myself if I didn't come over and say Hi! What’s your name?"
You see, if you do it this way, you’ll never have to wonder what to say when approaching a woman. Because you’ll always be able to improvise and rely on your genuine thoughts.
This also helps you rely on yourself and your personality more. This is perfect since women want to see who you are and not who you pretend to be when approaching.
Just remember that you also have to get your body language, tone of voice, attitude, and eye contact in order or you may seem a bit creepy.
Most importantly, straighten your back and don’t slouch. Keep steady eye contact and don’t look away in a nervous fashion. Don’t let your voice crack and speak loudly and clearly. Once you get these things handled and rely on this technique of genuinely saying what you’re thinking, you’ll be unstoppable.
If you aren't a complete anxious mess and can say these things with genuine enthusiasm and a smile, you'll have a lot of successful approaches. Because they'll be completely unique to the woman you're approaching and to your situation. And women tend to really notice things like that.
Be specific with your comments to avoid sounding generic
A quick word of warning here, you want to comment on something specific that you notice rather than broad observations. For example “Those shoes look amazing, do you think they’d fit me?” is far better than “You’re so beautiful”.
Think about it this way. If your comment equates to nothing more than an adjective for her as a person, find something else. In general, you want to look for things she has control over.
Her eyes, for example, aren’t the best thing to compliment her on because she was born with them. When you’re appreciating her sense of style, though, you’re complimenting something about her as a person. About a decision she consciously made.
How to Introduce Yourself to a Girl Online
One of the major benefits of online dating is the relative anonymity of it all. We feel protected by the fact that, worst-case scenario, we can silently block someone and move on.
Where guys sometimes struggle is moving on from the first message to an engaged conversation. See, if you fall into the trap of sticking to awkward small talk, you’ll find that she’ll stop replying pretty fast. And with good reason — small talk is boring and unimaginative.
Since we both know you’re better than that, here are a few easy tips to help you get a real conversation going.
Stop talking about boring topics
It sounds obvious when I say it but I can guarantee you’ve got at least one of these conversations in your inbox right now. Here are just a few of the common examples that will help with her insomnia and have her drifting off to sleep in no time:
- Anything to do with the weather
- What either of you is studying/have studied
- What either of you does for work
- The gym
If you want to talk about these topics after you’ve built a rapport, go ahead, that’s up to you. If you’re incorporating any of these into the introduction phase of the conversation though, you’re boring her and sending the wrong message.
Ask questions to find some common ground
The easiest conversations are the ones where you both share a common interest. The best way to identify these common interests is to ask questions and pay attention to the answers.
If you’re stuck for things to ask, take a closer look at her profile. Look at the activities she’s into, the places she’s been, the things she seems to value. Read her bio and see if she’s written anything interesting in there. Usually, a profile is a gold mine of topics to ask interesting questions that she can answer easily.
On the very odd occasions though, her entire profile will be so vanilla that you’re still struggling. In these cases, talk about yourself briefly as a way to frame an otherwise-boring question.
The last time I came across this situation, here’s what I went with after our conversation was underway:
“So I’m visiting family this weekend and need to live vicariously through others. Please tell me you’ve got something interesting going on this weekend!”
Remember, you’re not trying to “wow” her with a single message, just get an engaging conversation going. In this case, she had a themed house party on the following night so we had plenty to talk about. Simple.
Healthy conversation is a team sport
The other common mistake I see from my guy friends is rapid-fire questions like it’s a quiz or a job interview. The point of these questions isn’t to build a psychological profile on her, it’s to find that common ground.
So, when you have something relevant to contribute, do it! “No way, I just got back from vacation in that same spot”, “I used to do that every week but haven’t for a while, I miss it”, “Oh I’m terrible at that but I think that’s half the fun!”. A simple back and forth makes for flowing conversation.
Once you’re both chatting about that shared interest, you’ll start to learn more about each other with no effort at all.
How to Overcome Approach Anxiety
As I said in the beginning, by far the most difficult part of overcoming approach anxiety is forcing yourself to take that first step. This guide will help you a lot and give you the tools you need to make that approach. In the end though, only you can take that literal first step.
Here are a few tips to help you get over this anxiety and feel more comfortable as you approach.
The minimum viable action
One tool I find helpful when I’m struggling to approach is called the minimum viable action. It’s the one action that you can take other than the direct approach itself. That can be approaching her for time and directions. This not only gets you comfortable walking up and stopping her, but it'll also help you become more desensitized and get in a more social mood.
Blast through your excuses
Through the years of getting into this, I realized that success with women boils down to one key factor. That's personal integrity. Not your kind of school integrity, but integrity to push through your social fears. It's a personal badge of honor you conform to push through your fears.
When you’re pushing against your approach anxiety, you’re bound to fight against your own psychological defenses — They are called defense mechanisms. Here are some common excuses you'll tell yourself.
Avoidance and procrastination
"I am going to start on this tomorrow. I'm just not feeling it today."
"I am going to start hitting the clubs next week."
"I don’t feel like it today."
One day I was preparing to approach at the mall and tons of excuses and defenses popped up. First I told myself I was tired and had to grab a meal, then a sweet drink…
I didn't approach anyone for the first half an hour. I spent the time eating, drinking and waiting around. It was only when I started paying attention to the monologue in my head that I was able to start calling myself out on the excuses that popped up.
Here's the truth: There's no perfect club night and no perfect mood to approach. Just because something feels absolutely terrible at a certain moment does not mean it is. It's only when you get off your butt and start approaching that you feel much better. I can't tell you the number of times I've felt horrible, not wanting to leave the house and then feeling much better after stepping out.
The self-help and dating advice industries are notorious for this. If you consume dating advice and watch videos without taking any action, you're intellectualizing your problems. I used to do this a lot when I first started out where I would just read, read and read some more. Overloading myself with one theory after another. It's also a false trap. That's because reading and watching videos make you feel like you're doing something. However, it's often the opposite.
“I genuinely don't care and it doesn't bother me.”
If you’re watching porn and telling yourself that you don’t give a fuck about your sex life... you’re running into apathy. You convince yourself that you don’t care about your dating life. I know for sure, I was there. Truth is, I do care about my dating life. This bled over to school and all other areas in my life. It's something I've had to fight against for the last 3-4 years. It’s a defense mechanism I run even today.
Helplessness and surrender
“I just suck at this”
“I'll never get good at this”
I found myself running into this defense mechanism sometimes. I’d get too anxious and surrender to the anxiety, admitting: “I suck and have no courage.”
This is the opposite of apathy. Caring too much and acknowledging that you’re powerless to take action against the anxiety.
Blame and anger
This defense mechanism mostly comes in the form of generalizing and stereotyping chunks of the human population. When I first started going out to approach girls I told myself this approach thing only works for good- men and shallow women. I blamed women for what I thought was shallowness and I was angry (and maybe a little jealous) of conventionally attractive men who get everything they want.
It took me a while to realize that comparing myself to other men and blaming women for their preferences wasn’t going to get me anywhere.
If you measure your cold approach results, you're going to get better
If you’re actively attempting to better your dating life with cold approaches, sooner or later you’re going to realize dating is a numbers game.
One new heuristic I adopted over the years is: Whatever gets measured, gets accomplished.
You can measure:
- The number of times you go out to cold approach each week
- The number of women you talk to in a session
- How many numbers you get before an approach turns into a date
If you make it a point to approach 3 women every day, that’s 90 women per month. Out of those 90 women, how many reacted positively? Out of those who reacted positively, what did you do? Was it a good approach? Were you at the right place at the right time? Try to quantify your results and keep using those that got you a positive reaction.
How to Be Rejection-Proof: Don’t Take Things Personally
It’s human psychology to focus on the negatives and ignore the positives. I find this human trait similar in business and dating lives. If you approached a hundred women, 10 said you’re extremely attractive and 90 told you you’re an asshole, you’re going to start thinking you’re an asshole. What you should be focusing on is the fact that 10 out of a 100 thought you’re extremely attractive. That’s part of our human psychology.
In social psychology there’s an argument that people behave according to their situations, as opposed to their innate personality traits. There’s nothing you need to take personally, especially so if it’s from a stranger.
These days I learned not to take things personally, in business or in dating. I get rejected a ton and I get labels and opinions applied to me as a person. They can range from being an asshole, to being foolish, to being smart to ‘X’ personality trait.
Leading in the conversation for the first five minutes
You'll be expected to lead and initiate 99% of the time. And I do mean a good 99%. I've lost tens of interactions because I played it chill. It's incongruent to the girl if you approach her and expect her to lead. She'll be wondering what is up.
She's not going to lead the conversation or add to the conversation. That's because you're approaching her in an unconventional manner and she may be shy and reserved. You have to make statements, ask questions, tease her and laugh at yourself to put her at ease. Demonstrate to her within that 10 minutes that you're an attractive individual that's socially aware.
The fundamental principles of cold-approaching girls in nightclubs and/or daytime situations are similar.
- You need to present yourself assertively and positively
- You need to be willing to back off. If she's taken aback, show that you're willing to back off through your body language. Try not to heavily touch her when approaching: use hand signals or a light touch to stop her.
If you're approaching groups, you should also engage her friends, both male and female.
For beginners, I recommend getting comfortable with going direct first. This puts you out there and makes your intentions clear. It's also a time-effective method. It’s genuine and authentic for beginners. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the direct approach, though as you progress you’ll start to find that going indirect can be more effective and feel less socially awkward.
These days, I start off by saying “I know this is random", followed by: "I think you look interesting (indirect), and just wanted to say Hi".
The majority of girls are going to figure out what you're trying to do anyway. The indirect approach subtlety conveys: “hey, I'm officially invested in the prospect of getting to know you better”.
Questions and statements
There’s nothing more boring than getting to know someone by asking a bunch of questions. If you're only asking her question after question, you’re putting all the spotlight on her and you don't get to share anything about yourself. The easiest way to have a two-way conversation is to include “I” and “you”.
Stop asking questions and turn them into both statements about her and yourself. If you only ask monotonous questions, you're severely limiting yourself. There's no connection and no rough edges. Through the art of cold reading, you turn questions into statements. You can also find out about her occupation and hobbies in a way that doesn't make it feel like an interview.
You qualify by finding something unique about her lifestyle, job or occupation and appreciate something about her by saying: “That's really interesting, I've never met a girl who…”
Imagine if someone took the time to notice the effort you put into something you care a lot about. Imagine if someone went on to say: “You know, I really like the details of your work, there must be a lot of effort and attention that goes into that, not everyone is willing to go through the pain of building a business”.
How will you feel about that? Amazing, right? Now, flip that around and find something unique about her and show that same type of appreciation.
Remember, you can't fake it when you say something like this, you have to mean it. Take this as an opportunity to cultivate a genuine appreciation for others.
Make future plans on the spot
Here's the deal when attempting to get her number. Only ask for it after a positive interaction and you can tell that she's interested. Second, get straight to the point by asking her out for coffee or drinks right then and there.
Through making future plans on the spot, you'll solidify yourself as someone she's potentially going to see again. You can also add in a little qualification before asking for her number. Let’s say you found out that she has quite an upbeat personality, you can say:
“That’s awesome, you seem like a fun and adventurous person, let’s hang out and go bungee jumping together someday.”
Or, if you just find her pleasant to be around, you can say:
“You seem like a cool person to be around, let's party someday. Do you have WhatsApp?”
Note: If she's only willing to give you her Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, she probably isn't attracted. I don’t buy that, just treat it as a rejection and move on.
Benchmark: staying in a cold interaction longer than a minute
The rule of thumb is this: If you’re able to hold a conversation and stay in the interaction for longer than a minute, you’re approaching correctly. If you’re getting blown out interaction after interaction in less than thirty seconds, you might want to rethink how you’re approaching.
You can’t completely objectify or quantify social interactions. However, if you aren't getting results then it's time to put some metrics into action. How long are you staying in an interaction? Is she smiling at you? What does her body language say?
You need to look at the basics: your body language, your dress sense, your vocal tonality and your intentions. Girls aren't stupid, in fact, they are a lot more emotionally intuitive than men. If you are approaching her with the wrong intentions, she'll figure it out fast.
A note on crazy pick up techniques
There are many pick-up artist techniques popularized like spinning girls off the approach and outlandish behaviors from Youtube videos produced by other dating advice companies.
Here's my verdict on them: They aren’t sustainable. They’re only showing a tiny fraction of the interaction. They are also showing these flashy techniques for marketing purposes. It also rarely works when approaching women who aren’t into big, bold gestures. Second, if you can’t even get a girl to stop and speak to you for half a minute, don’t even bother about all the other techniques.
There were times I ran around the club like a headless chicken approaching girls just for the sake of it. I was relying on ineffective dating theories and not approaching from a place of effectiveness. They are also socially uncalibrated behaviors. Needless to say, I got rejected repeatedly.
Results and Success
The majority of your approaches are not going anywhere. That’s just the way it is. There are so many external circumstances that cannot be controlled. For example: she has a boyfriend, the last guy that approached her on the streets freaked her out, she’s not into men, etc.
As you get better, you’ll be able to point out the interactions that aren’t going to get anywhere and you're going to spend a lot less time on them.
Ultimately, if you want to get good at approaching women who are complete strangers, you need to work on the fundamentals. Intentions, relaxed body language, eye contact and conversational skillsets. Lastly, remember that it's always your responsibility to approach her. It's always your responsibility to move the interaction forward. It's always your responsibility to spark an interesting interaction between you and her. If you don't, she'll never do it for you, ever.