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The single gal’s guide to getting asked out

The single gal’s guide to getting asked out

By Julie H. Case

Let me begin by saying I am not beautiful. I am not a perfect size six, Hollywood-actress pretty, or a supermodel in the making. I’m fine-looking for an average woman; in other words, attractive enough to make myself happy. Like most of my fellow single ladies, I am an average woman who has made the most of Mother Nature’s moderate blessings. If I’m lucky, I might even be perceived by some guys as the “girl next door” type, though these days, I seem to possess more of the single-mom-next-door appeal. And yet, despite my completely benign and average appearance, I still get asked out with an alarming degree of regularity.

If I complain about my single life, my friends just roll their eyes at me. Sure, I have spent the majority of my adult life being single — seldom coupled up with a partner, actually — but, they’d argue, at least I was usually dating someone. And while the majority of these relationships were brief (many only lasting for a week or two), some have actually stretched across the span of many fulfilling months. In a big city where dating seems to be incredibly difficult for most people, I was getting asked out — and often. That’s not to say I’m always being pursued by the same men I want to date. While I am not particularly fond of married men making a pass at me, on more than one occasion, I have been astounded to discover that the eligible bachelor across the table from me simply wasn’t a good fit, despite looking like an ideal match on paper.

But that’s beside the point; above all else, I was dating. And what, my other single friends wanted to know, was my always-successful trick to winning men over? Let me explain the not-so-secret reasons for my romantic success:
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A little confidence (and genuine flirting) go a long way to grabbing any fellow single’s attention
To some extent, it is a combination of my current state of mind and my ability to flirt in a genuine way. That first part, being in the right state of mind, is the hardest to master. And yet the one weapon every woman ought to have in her arsenal is the power of confidence. “Real confidence that comes organically is sexy,” says Brent Shriver, a creative director in New York City. “TV confidence that comes from a stereotype... yeah, not so much.” It’s true: confidence isn’t from knowing that you’re the hottest person in the room, the smartest woman at the table or the richest bachelor in town. It’s not about being drop-dead sexy or thinking that you’re better than everyone else who’s single and looking for dates. It isn’t about the outfit you’re wearing or the height of your heels; rather, it’s a quiet, internal assurance that you belong in the world and that you are finding your way through it with dignity and grace... and that others will take note of those qualities and be drawn to them, like moths to a flame.

Men share the qualities they find particularly “sexy” in a woman
“Confidence comes through in a woman who’s capable of easy repartee during conversation, who shares an opinion that’s offered (but not forced), holds a steady gaze while I’m speaking to her, and who makes a glancing, but intentional touch while we’re chatting,” says Jeff Reeds, a Seattle-based writer. “Those things are qualities that I find particularly sexy in a woman.” That animal magnetism doesn’t have to be limited to a select few single ladies, but it certainly is a gold mine for those who naturally possess it. Frankly, any woman of any size and age can exude the same level of confidence as a swimsuit model or gorgeous actress. There are whole legions of women who, if you really look at them closely, have little to boast about in the looks department. And yet, whenever they enter the room, there’s that intangible something about these women that compels you to want get to know them better. They exude confidence, and are therefore inherently sexy.

Naturally, confident men have the same sort of appeal as their female counterparts do. After all, what else could explain why some of the most unremarkable-looking men marry the most stunning women across the globe? It probably has a lot more to do with confidence, mutual chemistry, shared interests and lifestyles and the couple’s emotional connection than her looks or the size of his bank account. Confidence attracts the opposite sex in unbelievable ways, and self-love and respect are key in in building up your own inner light to attract others. Don’t feel that confident with yourself just yet? Sometimes faking it really does help you until you can finally make it flow more effortlessly. Getting a woman to agree to go out on a date is a lot easier when you approach her with confidence, guys — and if she does reject your invite, simply take it in stride and move on to the next prospect.

There’s a fine line between exuding confidence and coming off as egotistical and snobbish toward others
While confidence is sexy, a person will still appear unattractive if he or she comes off as aloof, untouchable, shy, unhappy or snobbish towards others. Being approachable matters, but braggarts tend to be equally boring and unattractive to both genders. A woman who is open to genuinely interacting with others always attracts attention, not jealousy or anger from her peers. In my own experience, that means I’ve ended up talking with a lot of homeless people on the bus and during my daily walk to work. Then again, thanks to these offbeat conversations, I also have a whole repertoire of funny stories for entertaining my dates later on. Of course, the homeless aren’t the only people who feel at ease talking with me; smart, interesting men seem to find me equally fascinating. When I’m out with my girlfriends at a restaurant or a bar, I’m inevitably the one who takes on the role of conversational opener amongst our group: men approach me first, even if it’s another woman in my group that they are truly interested in.

It’s not just nightclubs that have served as a feeding ground for my social life: airplanes and grocery stores have, too. I’ve been asked out at work (once by a campus security guard and a groundskeeper in the same week!) and in my favorite local coffee shop. I briefly dated a contractor I met who used a question about the difference between drinking sherry and cooking sherry as a pick-up line, and a stockbroker who invested in my time at a restaurant opening to earn a date in return. Being approachable and willing to engage in small talk with strangers eventually led me to the date of a lifetime: a snowboard instructor who chatted me up on ski patrol one day. The point is, I dated all these men (and many more) because I seemed approachable to them. And even though it’s often easier and emotionally safer to just put a wall up to protect yourself from rejection, you might just shut out Mr. (or Ms.) Right with your closed-off body language and standoffish appearance.

Four ways to make yourself more approachable to men:
1. Begin with a smile and making direct eye contact with whomever you’d like to meet. If you look like you’re going to kill the next person who says hello to you, you’re obviously limiting your odds. “A smile directed right at me and held for a couple of beats is a sure sign I can approach a woman,” explains Reeds. “But if she’s with friends, that makes her hard to approach.” A shared glance and a smile are hints you’re interested in more than the olive floating in your drink.

2. Limit the number of friends to include when you’re out socializing to boost your odds of meeting more single men. Never go out with a bevy of single pals to try and find new dating prospects as a group; otherwise, you’ll sabotage everyone’s chances of meeting someone on his or her own. Few men — no matter how confident they may be — are interested in approaching a gang of women in order to speak with just one of you privately.

3. Position yourself in an eye-catching locale and use open body-language cues that send out nonverbal “welcoming signals” to others. Closed-off body language sends the message that you’d rather be left alone, but you might be doing these moves unconsciously without even realizing it. So, try to avoid standing with your back to the crowd, crossing your arms, staring at the floor or hiding in the corner of the least-visible booth at the back of the restaurant. If you absolutely must sit down, choose an aisle seat where you’re more approachable to people passing by, not somewhere in the middle of a booth or the chair that’s closest to the wall, which puts you behind a human barricade of friends who are also seated at the same table.

4. When a man makes a move in your direction, let him know that you’re available and interested in getting to know him better. Sure, stuffing your number in his jacket pocket will make you memorable, but probably not in the way that you’d hoped. However, making brief physical contact — brushing your hand against his arm, for example — gets the same message across without making you seem obnoxious or desperate.

Of course, even if you follow all of the above advice to a tee, getting a date will still be next to impossible if your idea of having a social life includes spending nights in with a pint of ice cream, your cat, some knitting and a Downton Abbey marathon on the couch. You’re never going to meet a man while you’re sitting at home alone in your pajamas, ladies. Then again, every woman needs a night off from hunting high and low for The One to avoid flirting and first-date burnout, so take time to recharge your batteries as needed to keep yourself fresh and genuinely excited to get out there and meet someone new.

Julie H. Case is a freelance writer based in Seattle. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Sunset, Alaska Airlines Magazine and Wired.

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