My Week of Picking Up Women

7 days of approaching women at an array of locales—from bars to bookstores—yields surprising results…and some phone numbers.

By Matt Schneiderman

or one week, I was on a mission to determine where the best venues to meet women are, so I hit up my usual destinations — and a few timely events — with a bit more forwardness than usual. I learned that context is everything: Approaching a woman at the bookstore, for instance, is vastly different from approaching a woman at your best friend’s wedding. Each destination has its charms, caveats, and strategies for meeting… but which places are most likely to yield dating success? After seven straight days of this, I know the answer and am ready to share it.

MONDAY: Hitting the gym
For all the time I spend working out (three to four times a week), meeting a woman at the gym should come easily—where else can I
Can a yoga class help a guy meet women?
show off my muscles? And yet, despite all my flexing and smiling, it had never happened. I blame iPods and the de facto segregation of the sexes, whereby men lift weights and women take exercise classes. For the sake of improving my chances of finding unplugged-in women, I decided to attend my first-ever Nia class (a combination of stretching, dance, and yoga). I spotted a cute young lady outside one of the classrooms and asked her whether she was taking the class. She responded that she was waiting for her mother to finish exercising. I contend that the girl was at least 18, but “waiting for my mom” is not an invitation to continue flirting. Instead, I found another woman who was, in fact, waiting for the class. We chatted for ten minutes about Nia as well as the other gyms in the area. The class itself was exactly what I was hoping for: 20 women and me. As the newcomer, I was introduced by the instructor and greeted by all the other students. An hour of mind, body and soul work can really bring you closer to a room of strangers; afterwards three women separately came up to me to chat. No numbers exchanged, but the opportunity was definitely there. The soreness I felt two days later somewhat dampened my memory of the experience, but if that’s the cost of meeting fit women, so be it.

What I learned: Forget bugging a woman about her form on the machines or talking through her headphones—the female-dominated classes are where you can easily make your moves.

TUESDAY: Trying out a volunteer activity
I’m a huge proponent of having fun while doing good for others, so I contacted a volunteer organization about helping out at a basketball clinic being held at a youth center. Even better, I realized, I’d be meeting women who share two of my interests, volunteering and playing ball. Such was obviously the case with the activity leader who emailed me back with the details for the clinic. I arrived in shorts and jersey, as she had suggested, and found myself one of six volunteers — three men, three women — working with twelve teenage boys. Once the drills began, opportunities to talk to the team leader or the other two females — all approximately my age — were limited, though I did chat with one during a water break who, like me, was attending this particular event for the first time. Competitive scrimmages helped build rapport between the volunteers and the kids—as well as with me and the women volunteers. Sweating profusely (the tiny gym was without air conditioning), we volunteers chatted at the end of the session about coming back in the future. I walked the team leader towards the exit, hoping to make plans to hang out prior to the next event two months away, but she stopped in front of the ladies’ room, obviously ready to clean up and get home. Luckily I still have her email address!

What I learned: While opportunities to make quick connections or to get a first date lined up are limited, it’s likely that volunteers will see one at future outings if they return, which makes for good long-term relationship-building potential.

WEDNESDAY: Heading to Happy Hour
I hit up a bar and grill at 5 p.m.—just in time for drink specials. The place was empty save for the wait staff and, typically, the male loner sipping beer in the corner. After a fruitless hour of two-for-one melon martinis, I left and found a venue with more of an after-work crowd, albeit one with five-dollar beers. I approached two women and asked them if they worked in the area; they offered up minimalist answers. After a few minutes of polite conversation, I left them to resume their chat. We exchanged smiles — but no numbers — when they walked out. A bored-looking woman seemed to be inviting a distraction from the seven businessmen she was standing with, but again I was rebuffed by clipped responses and interruptions by her co-worker—who obviously didn’t appreciate my infringing on his group. Finally, though, three women sharing a bar table engaged with me when I asked for a female opinion on whether my friend should confront a mutual acquaintance about a potentially unhealthy relationship. They readily offered their advice and conversation smoothly transitioned to other subjects. By this point — about 7:30 p.m. — the bar was full; I’d had about four beers and was finding it easier to approach women, but harder to concentrate on the conversations. I spoke with one other group of women with whom I exchanged contact info and left. Two days later, I emailed to make plans with one of the women I met; we decided — you guessed it — to meet at a bar after work.

What I learned: The bar scene is a ‘meet’ market requiring direct approaches and quick judgment. Certainly, after-work bars offer up a variety of women—women out with their co-workers looking to unwind, women out with their boyfriends or on dates, and women looking to meet guys. Within thirty seconds of initiating conversation with a smile and a comment about the bar, I could tell which was which; within another three minutes I could tell whether there was any interest. And by 10 minutes I either had a phone number, email address, or an excuse to move on.

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