Chance and Venus help the daring

Antique face

Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish. – Ovid, Ars Amatoria III:ix

Chance and Venus help the daring. – Ovid, Ars Amatoria I:xv

So, two points here from our Ancient Roman dating guru.

First of all keep up your attraction skills wherever you happen to be. Be pleasant to everyone, not just to beautiful women, because it’s pleasant, because you need to keep practicing light-hearted chat, and because women can smell a false-hearted creep a mile away.

Practicing light-hearted chat with everyone, not just beautiful women, enables you to practice your skills in situations in which your fear of failure is not evoked. You will begin to experience success and get smiles. Those skills are transferable, so that next time you really do want to start a conversation with a woman you fancy, you’ll be able to do it without becoming tongue-tied.

Which brings us to the second point Ovid is making – chance and Venus help the daring. There are few things so attractive for a woman in a man as confidence. Not brashness but quiet confidence. And one way to develop this is to keep practicing light and pleasant repartee with everyone you meet!

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Attracting a woman – practicing repartee

What do you say after you say “hi?”

I talked before about repartee – making light conversation. It can be about anything. Just pick up something in the situation that seems natural to talk about. Be creative, but don’t spend too long thinking about it or the moment will have passed.

Example: you go into a wine shop and luckily you are served by an attractive woman. You ask advice about what wines might go with the meal you are planning. You want advice anyway, that’s why you’re in the shop. You might then say, “You seem to know everything. Do they make you taste all the wine in the shop?” Silly conversation opener, but it has the merit of (1) being lighthearted and (2) being about her.

Top tip: people love talking about themselves.

I’m not going to talk you through how to turn that into a date right now. You may not be ready for that yet. The point of this post is to say, practice. Practice even on women you wouldn’t want to ask out on a date. Practice on the till girl in the supermarket, even if she isn’t your type. Even practice on men too.

The point of practicing on people you don’t necessarily fancy is that it removes the fear of rejection. You will find that you are seldom rebuffed and this will build confidence. You are honing your skills for the moment when it will count. You are practicing becoming a fearless master of light conversation.

Don’t imagine the right words will just come into your head when you see that really hot woman you want to talk into a date. Most likely fear will freeze your mind and by the time you’ve worked out the perfect thing to say the moment will have passed. You need to practice. Don’t worry if it’s a bit clunky at first, but keep practicing and give yourself a mental pat on the back every time you do this.

One more thing to make this easier. Stop worrying about yourself. Your aim is to make the other person smile.

Rush hour crush – 4

I think a lot of us live in dreamland.

Do we really want to meet the man or woman of our dreams or do we just want to fantasize about it?

Here are two examples from the ‘Rush hour crush’ section of the Metro newspaper today.

Example 1:

To the gentleman with the gym bag who catches the 08.32 from Penarth to Queen Street every morning. Let me see how many shades you have. Drink? – Brunette

Ooh la la! The reference to ‘shades’ is probably something to do with the recent publication of the ‘shades of grey’ novels, which I understand have lots of references to kinky sex. So if the guy with the gym bag is into that then it’s game on. But (even assuming he reads today’s Metro) how is he to know which brunette is offering? I can imagine a highly amusing farce made out of that (writers of TV comedy take note).

Ok, there is a chance that the target of these entertaining texts will actually read them. And that might just break the ice (or facilitate a very polite refusal) in the event that the two of them ever actually talk to each other. But please, Brunette, consider adding a bit more of a description. Why not wear an unusual brightly coloured shoulder bag or a distinguishing hair ornament? If you weren’t wearing anything eye-catching on the day you could still have said that’s what you’ll be wearing next time. You’ll have to be the one to break the ice unless you do that.

And for the avoidance of doubt, as the lawyers say, the gentleman wasn’t me and I’m not into shades of grey.

Example 2:

To the man with the white dog on the train from Clapham Junction on Saturday, I wish I’d written your number down before you got off at Feltham. Coffee sometime? – Smiley Brunette

Of course this is better. The description of the man is more precise, because fewer men have white dogs than have gym bags. And Smiley Brunette is a little more specific than Brunette.

On the other hand the description could have been improved by stating the time of the train at Clapham Junction. But maybe this isn’t so important, because the text suggests that they actually spoke. I deduce this because she writes “I wish I’d written your number down…” rather than “I wish I’d spoken to you.” So almost full marks here.

Next time, ask for an email or mobile number, or if really shy, at least a Facebook name. “Hey, are you on Facebook?” is a risk-free question. Actually, asking someone if they’d like to meet for coffee sometime is also risk-free. If they’re not interested (or married – check the left hand) they can always find a polite way of declining.

Lessons?

1. If you see someone you fancy, make some harmless remark (the weather, overcrowding on the tube, ‘nice gym bag, where did you get it?,’ ‘what kind of dog is that?,’ whatever) and see if a conversation develops;

2. If a conversation develops in a positive way, ask for a Facebook name/ email/ mobile phone number;

3. If you only think of these things when it’s too late and you text in to the newspaper, you need to be specific enough that the intended recipient has half a chance of knowing who you are. But I can’t help thinking that the ‘Rush hour crush’ column is the repository of lost dreams.

Why don’t we act on our desires? I’ll talk about fear of rejection another time, but it’s all imagination, really. The sky will not fall in.

Pivot – useful dating tip

Here is another useful dating tip. Understand and learn.

You may have heard the term ‘wingman.’ This is a male friend who helps you in approaching potential dates. Apparently there is a new piece of jargon attaching to a female friend who helps you out in a similar way.

The term ‘pivot’ is explained in this women’s blog.

This is essentially very simple. I shall explain with a story.

In the days before I met the woman of my dreams, that is to say, when I was actively searching for her, I made friends with two very attractive young women (that’s another story). The three of us were out at a comedy club night and we were chatting at the bar in the interval. Another young woman (one of the comediennes in the show) saw me from a distance chatting to these two women and later reported to a fellow comedian (whom I happened to know) that she thought I was very sexy.

This came as a bit of a surprise to me, because I was a lot older than any of these women (a fair bit older than the usual age of people who attend comedy clubs, in fact) and didn’t think of myself as having anything like film star qualities (despite my George Clooney haircut, but that’s also a story for another time).

So, my assumption is that women are attracted to men whom other women find attractive. Or whom they think other women find attractive. By associating with attractive women you acquire extra value in other women’s eyes: ‘If they like him there must be something to him.’ Or, ‘hey, I want some of that, too.’ You see where I’m going with this?

It does you no harm to be seen talking to attractive women.

Consider the possible strategies here. You might go straight up to a woman you find attractive and start talking to her. There is nothing at all wrong with that, and you get instant points for confidence, if you can do it. Alternatively, you might start talking to her friends instead. You can make light conversation, and some of the fear is taken out of it  for you because it is not these exact women you are trying to impress.

If the stars are working in your favour then the woman you really fancy will become more attracted to you because you have now acquired a perceived value with her friends. If she’s interested she may start chasing you. At any rate she may start talking to you. Play it cool and let her work for your attention, but be nice. (More on not being too eager another time.)

Am I talking through my hat here? I don’t think so, because I have verified this in other situations, including when I met the love of my life. But that story is also for another time.

Rush-hour crush – 3

Kudos to this one (from the Metro, Wednesday August 15):

To the attractive woman in the parka who got on the Northern Line on Monday, June 11. We broke the Tube rules and spoke to each other. We got off at London Bridge and went our separate ways after exchanging names. You have been in my thoughts ever since. – Guy in the black cashmere coat.

They exchanged names? But not phone numbers?

Kudos, because he actually spoke to her. Brilliant! How hard can it be? Just make some remark about something and see if a conversation develops or not.

Then say, hey, meet for coffee some time? Or just ask for her number?

Asking for a Facebook name is one option, and a non-threatening one because if she is just being polite she doesn’t have to respond to your ‘friend’ request later – or she can give you a false name. Then when you can’t find her on Facebook you can stop thinking about her and move on (the guy in the black cashmere coat is still thinking about her two months on, note). I can’t help thinking that asking for a Facebook name is a bit lame, though.

Asking for email is also likely to be perceived as less intrusive than asking for a phone number. Ask her to write it down for you (top tip: always carry a pen and a diary or small pad of paper). Some say that once she’s writing down her email you ask her to write her phone number underneath, since by now the ice is broken. Consider, however, not being too pushy, as that will not work in your favour.

What I have done (and this did work) is give a woman my number (written down). She rang me two days later.

These are a few ideas to work with. Which you do depends a lot on the situation. If you’re clearly getting on well I’d just ask for the phone number or else give her yours.

To the guy in the black cashmere coat: unless you see her again, you’ve blown it this time. But you have learned the most important first step. My advice: talk to other pretty women on the tube, and follow through by getting some phone numbers. If the woman in the parka turns up in your life again, excellent. If not, then don’t waste your time hoping. It’s in the lap of the gods.

Rush-hour crush 2

Another one from Friday’s morning paper:

To the girl with sort white hair and pink streaks reading her Kindle on the westbound Piccadilly line: you are the prettiest girl I’ve seen in a long time. Our eyes met, we both smiled but I regret not saying hello. Any chance I could buy you a drink? – Guy wearing yellow polo shirt

Ok, what did he do right, what should he have done and what should he do now?

First of all, let’s emphasise what he did right, because this is important and it gives him a head start.

Think about it a moment. What gives this guy a chance?

He made eye-contact.

Now of course if you stare at anyone on the tube or in a bus, something tells them they are being watched and eventually they will look up to see what’s going on. This is very a very basic instinctive reaction and it has to do with survival. The other person will eventually look at you and therefore eye-contact will inevitably occur.

If you continue to stare this may be taken as creepy and threatening. This is not what I am advising at all. So what did he do next that made it ok?

Easy isn’t it? He smiled.

How did he know that she didn’t feel freaked?

She smiled as well.

Now as always, caution. Smiling can be defensive. It is not possible in a blog entry to analyse at length different kinds of smile. You have to have a certain amount of emotional sensitivity, and I can’t give you that if you don’t have it (although most of us do have it if we are not blinded by desire, frustration and self-deception – a topic for another time perhaps – for now let’s just point to Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night for those who know the play).

People also smile because we are hard-wired to copy what others do (we have so-called ‘mirror neurones’ that help us do this). She doesn’t necessarily fancy him just because she smiled. BUT…

But he’s in with a chance.

What he should have done of course was what he now regrets not having done. He should have gone up to her and said ‘hello.’ If she wasn’t interested after all would the sky have fallen in? No, of course not. She’d have made an excuse, smiled again and left. No problem. There are other women and there will be other times.

What he should do now is obvious isn’t it? Assuming he’s lucky enough to be on the same carriage of the same tube train as her again.

Rush-hour crush

Big mistake:

“To the girl with dark hair eating an apple on the bus. You took the 13 bus to Clapham at 7pm on Tuesday and I think you took my heart with you. I wanted to approach you but you were with your friend. Fancy a coffee sometime? – Shy Guy in the red tie”

(Adapted from entries in the section in the morning newspaper where such people write in.)

How does the woman’s friend stop Shy Guy from offering a meeting over coffee? Answer: she doesn’t.

What’s Shy Guy’s chance of getting a date with this woman? Probably close to zero.

What should he have done instead?

It’s obvious isn’t it? Yet every day there are a handful of these messages in the newspaper, from women too. I’ve read these in Canada, so it’s not just a London thing.

Think about it. Shy Guy goes up to woman and says “hi.” No smarmy or creepy or clever lines. Especially not, “You’re so beautiful, please go out with me” (which will never work unless she’s desperate). Just “hi.”

Of course, he’ll have to follow through with something further, depending on what she says. But his back stop line could be as simple as, “I just saw you and thought I’d say hi. My name’s Shy Guy, what’s yours?”

If she’s not interested, he can pick up the cues and not be annoying, smile and withdraw gracefully. What’s to lose? We act as though the sky will fall in if some woman isn’t interested. Done properly and lightheartedly, this incident will brighten up her day – even if you’re not her type.

One more comment until I return to this topic in due course: being confident and saying “hi” gives a much more powerful message than a line in the newspaper.