Even though it can seem like online dating is the way to meet people these days, it’s not impossible to go the old-fashioned route and make a romantic connection at a bar. That, of course, requires one person actually working up the courage to walk up to a complete stranger knowing that the underlying message will be, “Hello, person I don’t know. I find you attractive and would like to know if that feeling is reciprocated.” Since heteronormative conventions dictate that men should always be the ones doing the approaching (which is wrong, but annoyingly pervasive), we got eight guys to share what goes through their minds when they’re heading over to strike up a conversation.
1. How can I bail if this goes south?
“Whenever I approach a girl at a bar—which is rare because I am so very afraid to do this and am terrible at it—a few things go through my mind. The first is usually hoping that I look OK, that my breath doesn’t smell, and that my hands aren’t too extremely sweaty for if a handshake occurs. (They are always extremely sweaty.) But the thing I find myself thinking the most about—and this is probably horrible, because it’s not helping me go into this approach with confidence—is how I’m going to gracefully exit if I’m shot down or flat-out ignored. Before I even make my approach, I’m already plotting out a route of egress.” —Scott M.
2. Is she sending any signals?
“I’m thinking about how to play towards her signals. If she’s been glancing around the room, not even necessarily at me but at other guys, I would acknowledge that maybe she’s trying to meet someone of the opposite . I don’t really feel nervous about going up to someone or potentially being rejected. I’m there to have fun, so why should they influence my life that much? It’s like when you do that thing with someone on the street where you both step to the left, then the right to get out of each other’s way—that’s an awkward moment, but it doesn’t ruin your day.When in doubt, I compliment an un-ual part of her outfit, like her earrings. Sometimes I also just do a ‘this or that,’ question, like ‘pineapple or kiwi?’ It’s so innocent. ” —Willie W.
3. I hope she doesn’t shoot me down.
“I’m always pretty nervous when I do this. As much as I’d mentally like to write off a rejection at a bar, my ego’s too big, so I try to search for some sort of common ground we could pursue outside of normal social niceties. Gauging whether she’d be a good fit for me rather than keeping it general is a defensive strategy. That way if she’s not into me, I can tell myself we weren’t a match. If we only talk about general things, it’s easier to think she specifically didn’t like me.” —Theo B.