How to Stand Out in the Sea of “Sup, Sexy”
Q: I’m a quiet guy who’s terrified of approaching strangers and talking to them, both online and in real life.
I see a lot of women posting screenshots of bad messages on dating apps, and no one wants to be that guy. But I’ve seen very little in the way of what actually *does* work.
Meanwhile, a lot of the dating advice that is out there for guys comes from creepy, misogynistic pickup artist blogs. I honestly think a lot of guys end up reading and internalizing this stuff because they want to feel less awkward, and are lured in by the promise of anything that will help them gain the upper hand.
So yeah. I was wondering if you had any pointers for successfully approaching women online that *aren’t* sociopathic.
A: Interesting question!
First, we think your take on pickup artist culture is insightful. There seem to be a lot of men who realize that attempting to manipulate and objectify women is dehumanizing, and yet find themselves reading that stuff against their better judgment because meeting new people can be so intimidating. But the reality is that women can smell ‘negging’ a mile away. Not only does it not work, it makes you look like a complete amateur.
To answer your question, we asked a group of women who are either happily partnered or actively dating what approaches have worked well for them in the past.
As you may have guessed, there aren’t really any shortcuts, but there are certainly ways you can improve your odds, if your ultimate goal is to make a real connection with another human being. (Since your question was about meeting women as a heterosexual man, that’s the dynamic we’ve focused on, but virtually all of this advice is universal.)
1. Find an entry point of common interest
By far, the most common feedback we got from the women we surveyed was that it’s a turnoff when men send them lazy messages like "Sup?” or “Hey gorgeous.”
This is a woman you might someday like to introduce to your family, right? Or see naked? Or at least go on a date with? Well, none of those things are ever going to happen if you don’t put in a little bit of effort.
You're a human being, right? Well so is she. So go find something she has said that you can relate to, and relate to it.
If you’re meeting people on Siren, find a Question of the Day response that sparks your interest and reply to it directly. Maybe you both love the same band, book, or movie. Maybe she volunteers at an animal shelter and you think that’s admirable. There are entry points everywhere, once you’ve learned to look for them.
2. Get her to talk about herself
Now that you’ve established your entry point, it’s time to get her to open up. Aside from lazy opening lines, the second biggest complaint about men on dating apps is that they talk about themselves too much. This doesn’t mean that you should be afraid to reveal things about yourself, but like everyone, women want to feel like they’re being listened to.
Ask her questions about her interests. If you’ve established that you love the same band, ask her if she saw them live the last time they came through town. Again, balance is key. No one wants to feel like they’re being grilled or interviewed, but showing genuine interest in something she’s passionate about will help you stand out in a sea of “Sup, Sexy.”
3. Leave the competitiveness at the gym
...or the bowling alley, or chess club.
This one is tricky, because so much masculine socialization revolves around competitiveness, but you’ve got to make sure that when you’re asking her about yourself, you’re not really just bragging about how cool your interests are, or how much more you know about a subject than she does. Sometimes when men think they’re being impressive, it’s perceived by women as shallow posturing.
Remember that the goal is establishing a connection, not auditioning her for a quiz show or challenging her to a game of one-upmanship. There will be plenty of time to get competitive later, if you realize that’s something you’re mutually into.
4. Take it offline
“The guy I dated most recently just walked up to me and asked me out,” one woman told us. “That was literally all it took.”
The online equivalent of this confident, classy move is to invite her to do something specific. Anyone can meet for coffee; what if you’re the guy who proposes a trip to a museum exhibition, a planetarium laser show, or a paddle boat ride at sunset?
An interesting date idea can take the pressure off that first conversation and allow you to get to know each other more organically, by doing an activity you both enjoy.
Hope this is helpful. Happy dating!
Siren to the Rescue is a resource to help real people navigate the world of online dating and interpersonal relationships. If you’ve got a question about dating or romance you’d like us to tackle, get in touch!