Breaking The Ice

People are doing it all the time – at bars, cafes, dog parks and elevators. Ordinary people, not ust exceptionally courageous individuals, are approaching and talking to complete stranger. What is it they have that we don’t? It’s not that meeting someone new (someone attractive and interesting, perhaps?) is particularly terrifying. There’s just something inescapably daunting about breaking that iceberg of initial contact.

So what is it that works? What kind of pick-up lines separate those engaged in lively conversation all evening from those who lurk in the background, dejected from rejection? Well, for starters, there’s certainly a wrong way to go. So let’s begin there…

What not to do!
Lines like “You remind me of my ex” or “I like my lovers like I like my…(fill in the blank)” are destined to fail, not to mention conversation starters that ask “Is that/those your real (hair, eye color, breasts, age, etc).” Likewise, trying to seal the deal in the first few minutes probably won’t go over very well. That means that “Wanna check out my new car?” “You’re pretty. Are you free on Friday?” and “I’m told I’m a great kisser” aren’t going to get you very far.

In that same vein, phone numbers solicited without benefit of conversation will likely lead you, not to the attractive brunette you approached, but rather to a local delivery shop or maybe, Moviefone (a personal favorite). Also remember, women are less visual than men. This means they may actually have to talk to you for awhile before they knows if you’re worthy of a phone number. Someone is always in a better position to gauge how witty, insightful or intriguing you are when they’re not feeling manipulated by the situation.

Not to mention, you get a chance to decide how interested you really are based on more than a brief visual assessment. On the other hand, when you’re interested in someone across the room, the one thing you want to be sure not to do is let on that you’re looking for a long-term relationship. That can be a huge turn off for both genders. No one should be thinking of long-term commitment when they first meet – it should be more about fun. Wanting too much too soon suggests a whole other set of issues!

What do you do?
So what should you say to meet that intriguing person? Everyone likes compliments, but they have a way of sounding insincere when occurring at the beginning of a pick-up. Over-the-top praise is always cheesy, i.e., “Your hair is stunning in the moonlight,” or “You look just like Brad Pitt.” Even something innocuous like “You have nice eyes,” which is a winner when it comes at the right time, reeks of agenda when it’s the first thing out of your mouth. Honestly, when most people are approached in a social situation, they know why.

And being “picked up” can feel a lot like being played. Paying compliments or buying drinks doesn’t disguise the fact that you approached a potenial love interest or friend because you want something, and a snappy line makes it seem like it’s not just getting to know you better. Snappy dialogue, as long as it’s not too forward, can reveal your fun side… as long as it’s coming out of the real you and not forced.

No lines at all
In actual practice, the lines that work best are not lines at all. She’s probably not interested in hearing about how her eyes reflect the light so you can secure her number, but she might honestly enjoy engaging in a conversation about, well… anything. He may think it’s cool that you’re not afraid to approach him, but what’s really going to be interesting is that you have a point of view about life.
That’s right: a simple, honest conversation with no pressure to accept or reject a dating prospect trumps some silly one-liner every time. But how to start up that real conversation? Consider approaching that ice breaker less like a pick up and more like a talk. You’re not asking for acceptance, you’re just looking for a conversation. By removing the stakes, you’ll find yourself feeling less disappointed – by rejection or even by finding out you’ve got nothing to say to each other.

Common ground is always fair game. That can range from talking about your dogs at the park, to gossiping about the neighbors or commenting on the game on at the bar. The key is keeping the “pick-up” part out of it, at least until the end of your interaction. And if it doesn’t work out once you get there, what have you really lost?

If you didn’t enjoy the time you spent in your first real conversation, then you haven’t stumbled onto your dream date. And if you did but they still slipped away, a comfortable, mutually enjoyable exchange is hardly an unacceptable cost. You scored an interesting evening, maybe even laid some ground work with a future prospect. At the very least, you’ve scored some excellent practice for the one who will fall head over heels for you in the future.

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