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When You Don’t Want to Pick Up at Bars

It had an epiphany last week on a dancefloor.

Somewhere between Like a Prayer and Summer Rain (it was 80s night), I finally realised with absolute clarity that clubs and bars are far from the optimal situation for meeting new people.

For a start, most people are fall-down wasted after a few too many Sambuca shots at the bar.

Sure, everyone is dressed to impressed but that hardly matters once the high heels are off and the make up is smeared.

The music is too loud to speak to anyone and it’s hard to get a gauge of what they really look like with all those strobe lights winking in your face.

The single redeeming feature these venues have going for them is that everyone’s inhibitions have been checked at the cloakroom.

Vodka certainly does its job as social lubrication, if nothing else.

But where else can we meet people?

It’s not like you can just stride up to someone on the street in broad daylight… is it?

I was walking through the CBD a few months ago when I was stopped by a guy. He said: “I saw you walking past, and I just had to come and say hello. Can I take you out sometime?”

I was beyond surprised.

How often are you approached in the middle of the day by a completely sober guy?

I smiled and thanked him effusively for coming up to ask (positive reinforcement, everyone… we want to encourage this kind of behaviour for the benefit of all of us).

I explained that I was already in a relationship, but if I wasn’t I would have absolutely said yes. He smiled and nodded, said my partner was a lucky guy. I walked on, grinning like an idiot.

But then I stopped short as I realised what had happened. Men don’t just approach you in the street like that. I quickly scrambled for my phone and wallet, thinking I’d been mugged by an accomplice while he distracted me.

Of course, I hadn’t been mugged. It was just so out of place that my first thought was not: “He actually wanted to take me out on a date” it was “I’ve been robbed!”

Men, let me tell you not enough of these approaches go on. You make a girl’s day when you ask her out in a gentlemanly fashion, with no signs of slurring or groping.

I was on top of the world for about a week after my not-a-mugger encounter.

There’s a relatively new concept known as social skydiving that we should all make the habit of. Whether it’s to pick up or just to have a friendly chat, society doesn’t do enough of it anymore.

In short, make a habit of talking to strangers. Drop yourself right on into a situation and cut your parachute loose as you strike up conversations with anyone and everyone around you.

On the tram? Have a chat with your neighbour.

In an art gallery? Ask someone their opinion on the piece you’re looking at.

At the dog park? Tell someone you love their Chow Chow.

You will be met with resistance. That, I can promise you. Not everyone wants to talk. Some will be downright rude about it – you can’t blame them, we’re living in a world that is increasingly anti-social.

But once you see that rejection is the worst that can happen – and is their problem, not yours – you’ll be able to press on until you find responsive people.

Ten rebuffs may well be worth it to have one great conversation. And the sting of the rejection only lasts a little while. Shake it off and move on.

You can build up to it slowly. Start just by making eye contact and smiling at people. No doubt some will smile back. That might be enough for you for awhile. Then you can graduate to a casual ‘Hi’. You’ll get some his in return.

Eventually, shape yourself up to have conversations. There’s no telling who you might meet this way. One thing’s for sure – it beats yelling into someone’s ear in a crowded nightclub.

Where have you made an approach/been approached that’s not in a bar?

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Author |

Writer, dating columnist, wife, coffee addict, foodie, fashionista... Melburnian through and through. Muser, dancer, blogger, tweeter. Likes to get her head on telly now and again. Sleeper, dreamer, a sucker for romance. And of course... a cheap date.


4 comments for “When You Don’t Want to Pick Up at Bars”

  1. Posted by Veda Gilbert | March 26, 2013, 1:30 pm

    I approached a guy in a café, sitting with his friends, and gave him my number with a ‘I don’t usually do this but…’ then walked out.

    He texted me 20 mins later & asked me out. We only went out the once as he was just out of a relationship but he said he loved my ballsiness.

    Two years later he text me to say he was moving house & had found my note, that it had made him smile & he hoped I was doing well.

    Have I done it again since? No. Would I do it again? Definitely!

  2. Posted by Emma | March 27, 2013, 8:33 am

    That is ballsy! Nice work, Vee. Most women still baulk at the idea of doing the approaching, but guys seem to love it from what I hear… And a cafe is so much more civil than a nightclub! At least you’re pretty sure the person coming up to you is in full control of their faculties!

  3. Posted by Chris Manak | March 27, 2013, 10:46 am

    Great article. I love bars, but through the day is actually easier. I see single men letting huge potential go by – it walks right past them many times a day.

    From what I see, the numbers are something like this. Out of about 10 approaches, 8 are very friendly. 2 just won’t be, which is fine.

    From those 10 … 5 will have partners (but will likely respond like you did Emma) … 2-3 just won’t be up for it (handing out a number after a 5 minute street conversation is just too far out of their reality, or they just aren’t attracted to you) … 2-3 will be interested and if you manage to ask for a number, you got yourself some dates!

    I think men get into the mentality that if they try it, it should just work out, like their effort should be rewarded. So they may try it once or twice, and give up when/if those times don’t end in a date. Truth of the matter is – even the best are getting only 20-30% solid turnaround. That’s all you need – your next approach could shut you down in a second or she could be your future wife! View each approach as a step in your growth, an expansion of your confidence, rather than trying to get a date, and that way you never lose

  4. Posted by Richard P | May 27, 2013, 9:45 pm

    Wow this was such an uplifting article to read!

    It is true that a lot of us get caught up in thinking only bars/nightclubs are the only places to approach. But I think that is because it is such a foreign idea and most would need ‘liquid courage’ to get them to do anything.

    I approached a girl while strolling through Myer once and we spoke for a while. I eventually told myself I needed to ask her out else I would shoot myself!
    So I did and she surprisingly gave me her number and we went out a few times after that!!!

    So after reading this article and my own experience I am encouraged to make more approaches during the day. At worse I am going to get a no, but I will more than likely have made her day (if not week)…

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