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?
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