There's just no way around it. Approaching a girl can be nerve-wracking -- especially when it's a face-to-face, non-Facebook conversation. So, if the idea of striking up witty repartee with a girl has you reaching for extra-strength antiperspirant, take heart: Flirting is supposed to be fun.
Our advice (don't worry, it doesn't include any lame pick-up lines) is brimming with practical information designed to help you feel more at ease. From boosting your self-confidence to reading body language, this primer's packed with promise. You'll be making new (girl)friends in no time -- all without taxing your cell phone's data plan. After all, there's something to be said for witnessing a smile, rather than receiving one by text, right?
Of course, this doesn't mean you won't still use your go-to methods of communication; we just think you should forgo sharing your feelings by instant message until after your first date. In the meantime, let's get ready for a reality check on the next page.
Overcoming a Fear of Approaching Girls
Your fear of rejection may be overshadowing reality. That's because even one rejection causes a significant ding to your self-esteem. It helps to put rejection in perspective. If you approach a girl and she rebuffs your inquisitive leanings, this doesn't mean you: (a) will be dateless forever, (b) need a personality transplant or (c) really are better off alone. Odds are she's been affected by something that doesn't involve you at all, like a recent break-up. She doesn't even really know you yet, so how could the rejection be personal?
However, a brush-off is easier to take if you're feeling confident about your self-worth. Take a good look at your strengths and positive qualities, and then make a plan to nurture them. For example, if you like to play hoops in the driveway with your little brother, take those skills to an afterschool program for younger kids or volunteer to coach a youth basketball team. Sure, this doesn't seem like it will directly land you a date -- but it's all part of the preparation. If you feel good about yourself, other people will, too. On the flipside, low self-esteem is often accompanied by anxiety. Giving your nervousness the boot may give you the gumption to approach her.
So, when's the best time to approach a girl you don't know? Don't do it when she's with a group of her best girlfriends. They're likely to be protective of her and make it more difficult for you to ask her a direct question. Still, it's a good idea to talk to the group she's in. If it's a boisterous crowd, crack a joke. If the collective vibe is more like a study group, subtle humor will help you make headway. Then, when the girl you like is by herself (it will eventually happen), all this pre-talk will make it easier to strike up a one-on-one conversation. But what do you say? We've got a few openers on the next page.
Things to Say When you Approach a Girl
Before you dive into conversation, let a girl know you're interested. The response you receive will let you know if she's feeling the same way. Start with eye contact, but use it sparingly. Don't check her out with a head-to-toe eye sweep. She'll think you're a creeper. Look her in the eye. Then begin to look for reciprocal clues. Does she smile at you? Gaze in your direction? Then by all means, talk to her.
As for the "what to say" debate, keep this in mind: Delivery is the key to success, and it matters even more than what you say. Still, you'll want to steer clear of lowbrow pickup lines like, "Heaven must be missing an angel." Instead, offer a genuine compliment about her appearance. Better yet, make a joke about a situation you're both familiar with. Maybe your P.E. teacher reminds you of Sue Sylvester on "Glee." When you let go of your own self-consciousness and are truly interested in getting to know someone, conversations naturally occur.
As the conversation begins rolling, look at her and really listen to what she's saying. When she finishes a thought, follow up with a question connected to what she just said. Remember, there's no need to get too serious. You're not splitting the atom here, just getting to know someone. Keep the conversation light and friendly. If, by the way, she leans into you as you speak, gives you her undivided attention or touches your arm while laughing at something you've just said, know this: As body language goes, she's into you [source: Tattersall].
When it's time to close the conversation, there are three strategies to follow. First, offer a positive statement, such as, "It was fun talking to you." Then, make a plan. "You want to hang out Saturday?" Finish with your reason for ending the conversation (real or otherwise), such as "I've to get to class, so I'll talk to you soon" [source: Marshall]. Need a few more tips for approaching a girl? Check out the next page for ideas.
Tips for Approaching Girls
Group dates are a low-pressure way to get to know a girl. Try orchestrating a group outing so you can spend more time with her. This will also give you a chance to see how she acts around her friends. This is important because if she's a completely different person, she's probably not being honest about who she is when she's with you.
A group date also gives you an opportunity to gauge your own personality. If you're mildly jealous about how much fun a girl has when she's with longtime guy friends, that's probably normal. If, however, you become angry, paranoid and convinced they're going to "steal" her from you, then you've got work to do. Unless you tame the green monster, you'll end up alienating her and fighting over far-fetched scenarios. Instead, work on your own self-confidence and self-control. Don't let your imagination get the best of you
There's always room in a relationship for texting, but it shouldn't be used to plan a first date, or deliver really good or bad news. For example, don't text her to announce that you think you're falling in love -- or that you like another girl better. The same rules apply to Facebook or e-mail in general. We recognize it often feels more comfortable to text than call, but until you've really spent a lot of time together, stick to talking in person or on the phone. It takes more than 140 characters at a time to develop a relationship.
It also takes practice to approach girls. The process is a bit like playing a sport-- the more you practice, the better you get at it. There may be some rejection along the way, but in the end, you'll be glad you tried.
- Cape, Anthony. "Overcoming Jealousy in Relationships." AskMen.com. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.askmen.com/dating/curtsmith_60/78_dating_advice.html
- Griffin, Matt. "Relationship Rules: Text Messaging." AskMen.com. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.askmen.com/dating/curtsmith_250/261_relationship-rules-text-messaging.html
- Marshall, Lisa. "How to End a Conversation." Nov. 21, 2008. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://publicspeaker.quickanddirtytips.com/politely-ending-conversations.aspx
- Muller, Heidi. "The Subtle Pickup." AskMen.com. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.askmen.com/dating/heidi/17_dating_girl.html
- Ponton, Lynn. "Building Self-Esteem." PsychCentral.com. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/building-self-esteem/
- Smith, Curt. "Overcome Your Fear of Rejection." AskMen.com. (Oct. 1, 2010) http://www.askmen.com/dating/curtsmith/19_dating_advice.html
- Tattersall, Mike. "How to Tell if a Girl Likes You." HowToDoThings.com. (Oct. 1, 2010)http://www.howtodothings.com/family-relationships/how-to-tell-if-a-girl-likes-you