There are several advantages to being a content singleton, one of which is not having to deal with first dates and the thorny path known as flirtation. But I finally decided to just learn to flirt, and decided to take some cues from Marie-Claire‘s nine steps to flirting like a pro, provided by a guy named Neil Strauss (he likes to be considered the world’s greatest pick-up artist). I got some amazing results and learned some valuable lessons!
STEP 1: Learn the Art of Eye Contact
Don’t shy away from staring him down, but do it the right way. Ease into it by practicing triangular gazing, where you look at one eye, then the other, then at their mouth. Strauss says practicing this for just a day will get you ready to start learning to interact with guys you’re attracted to.
This was a tough one to start with, because I had to practice it for a day. “Just” a day, but that’s a 24-hour commitment! It was really hard to find a guy who would agree to be tied to a chair so that I could repeatedly practice triangular gazing, so I gave up and just tried it on my cardboard cutout of Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings. It turns out I’m not any good at triangular gazing, but I’m an absolute wizard at rhomboid and octagonal gazing!
STEP 2: Practice Small Talk
Before you approach a guy you’re into, make sure you’ve got the basics of small talk down. “Challenge yourself to go out and make small talk with five strangers today,” advises Strauss. “Don’t worry about whether they’re people you want to date. Approach grandfathers, other women, someone who’s not your type, whomever you come across. It’ll help you adjust to stepping out of your comfort zone.”
Setting aside the usual heteronormativity that plagues this article (other women can never be your type!), it was a bit odd approaching grandfathers so I could practice small talk. I kept thinking about how this was flirting practice, so the conversation would inevitably turn to how I love long walks on the beach and good Thai food; all they would do in return is show me pictures of their grandkids and ask if I was free to watch reruns of Perry Mason. Awkward!
STEP 3: Perfect Your Body Language
Want to get under his skin? “Get just a centimeter into a guy’s comfort zone, and look up at him with big eyes,” says Strauss. The no-fail move? “Put your chest out, chin down, eyes high in the socket, head slightly tilted, and your weight on one foot. That’s important. If your feet are planted, they feel the resistance, just as much as they would if you had your arms crossed.” Practice makes perfect–you might look like a cross-eyed chicken at first, but get it down right and it’ll make him crazy.
I don’t have big eyes! And my chest already sticks out even if I’m not pushing it. However, this trick really worked. I met a guy who broke down in tears, saying he had been looking for a woman who looked like a cross-eyed chicken for his entire adult life and he was so relieved to finally find one!
STEP 4: Don’t Think Before You Speak
Don’t think too long before you open your mouth–it’ll come off unnatural and awkward. “People sense it when something sounds too pre-meditated; that makes them uncomfortable,” Strauss says.
I’ll stop doing that if guys will promise to stop using those fun canned pick-up lines, like “Did you hurt your ass when you fell out of heaven?” (Yes, someone actually used that on me.)
STEP 5: Ask for Help
When it comes to conversation starts, asking for his help or opinion is a sure thing, says Strauss. “Maybe it’s some article from a women’s magazine that offers some kind of advice and you want to know if he agrees with it or not. Or maybe it’s: “It’s my cousin’s birthday and I want to buy him a CD—but his taste hasn’t evolved since the 80’s. Any suggestions?” Or maybe your friend just got a three-legged cat and you need a name for it.”
A three-legged cat who needs a name? WTF? More importantly: why the hell do we need to play that I’m-such-a-helpless-woman-who-needs-a-man-to-assist-me-in-matters game? An opinion is one thing, but blatantly asking for help just as a conversation-starter? Annoying. But suggesting that women ask men’s opinions on articles from magazines like Cosmo is actually not such a bad idea, at least for a laugh. (I can just see it now: They think I want candle wax dripped on my WHAT?!)
STEP 6: Set a Time Limit
Within the first 60 seconds of your conversation, Strauss says, immediately mention that you have some kind of time constraint, whether or not you do.
“Whether or not you do”? Pointless lying FTW!
STEP 7: Neg Him
The trick when you’re flirting, Strauss says, is “figuring how to keep a balance between being engaging enough to retain someone’s attention and not seeming overly available.” Tease him a little and call him out by saying something like, “Oh sure you do…”
Neg? Is that a word? But seriously, thank God they instruct women not to seem overly available, because everyone knows that single women always come off as needy, desperate creatures who will clear their schedules at the drop of a hat to spend time with a cute guy.
STEP 8: Lower Your Expectations
Flirt for the sake of flirting. “If you meet a really high-quality guy and you’re really attached to the idea of him being your boyfriend, that pressure—that neediness—is something he’ll sense,” Strauss warns.
So don’t try to date anyone other than scuzzy jerks, you pathetic woman. Leave the high-quality guys to the women who really deserve them. Hint: you are not one of those women.
STEP 9: Make It Fun—For You
Make it about you, not about him. “If it seems like you’re trying too hard, whatever you’re doing will come across as desperate,” Strauss says. His advice? “Think: “I’m fun. I’m cool. I radiate charisma, I am free to do whatever the hell I want.” The most important thing to remember while you’re doing all this flirting is to make it fun for yourself—because then it will be fun for the other person.”
How am I supposed to be free to do whatever the hell I want when I’m instructed to meticulously follow these flirting lessons? It really doesn’t seem like any of this is fun when it’s dissected and turned into something this scientific and reliant on “expert” opinions. Doesn’t that just negate the whole point of flirting and dating? It’s supposed to be an individual, personal experience, not something that fits into cookie cutter shapes. But hey, all women are basically the same, and we want the same thing from guys and from life. So we should be grateful to Marie-Claire and Neil Strauss for showing us the path to eternal flirting happiness!
Now I’m off to practice my octagonal gaze at a singles bar, and I promise to ask every single man there what my friend should name her new three-legged cat. Wish me luck!