You’re at a party/mixer/bar. The evening is young, you’ve had a couple drinks and you’re feeling pretty bold, if a bit restless. As you laugh at a friend’s well-told joke, you glance around the room and your eyes alight with an attractive member of the opposite sex. You want to approach, but are unsure of the best course of action. Should you:
A. Approach quickly and open with a corny one-liner that praises his/her attractiveness
B. Go to the bathroom and have a good cry
C. Leap onto the nearest piece of furniture and start dancing in order to impress him/her with your dancing savvy
D. Get way too drunk and pass out in the yard
E. Find someone who knows him/her and have him/her introduce you during the course of the evening
If you had trouble answering that question, or if you considered B for more than 0.2 seconds, then this handy guide is for you!
1. Maintain Eye Contact
Eye contact is the be all and end all of social interaction. If you carry out an entire conversation with someone and he or she rarely (if ever) makes eye contact, odds are that you’re going to label him or her:
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating constant, piercing sex-me eyes during every conversation you ever have (things could get pretty awkward with the Chipotle staff). I am saying that you shouldn’t underestimate its importance. Take the classic circumstance in which you glance toward someone you find attractive, only to meet his or her gaze as he or she looks at you in that instant, as well. Traditionally this is where both parties think “oh balls” and quickly drop their gazes, embarrassed to have been caught looking. Looking at this logically, though, wouldn’t it stand to reason that since you were looking because you thought he or she was attractive, perhaps her or she was also looking for that reason? Next time, hold the look for a slightly longer amount of time. Pair it with a small smile. Don’t stare, just hold it long enough to acknowledge the attraction. If you get a smile back, it might be time to make your way across the room and introduce yourself properly.
3. Remember Important Details
OK, now we’re getting serious. It’s all too easy to screw the pooch early on when meeting someone by forgetting key details such as his or her name, major or face. When meeting someone make a deliberate effort to remember these key details: Often, people get so caught up in making a good first impression that they are focused solely on themselves when the other person tells them his or her name. Don’t do that.
If you have trouble with this, one technique often recommended by professionals is to repeat a person’s name, both aloud and to yourself, several times when first meeting him or her. An example:
“Hello, and you are?”
“Hello, Susan, I’m Daniel. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Susan, Susan, her name is Susan. “So, tell me, Susan, what do you do?” Susan.
Just don’t overdo the whole repetition thing, and don’t zone out while thinking to yourself, or you could end up lost in thought, alone, with that perfect 10’s drink dripping slowly down your face.
4. Don’t Get Wasted
I know, I know. “But my buddy gets blackout drunk at every party and gets more action than a Michael Bay movie!” Look, I’m not saying that drunk hookups don’t happen (they do) but they’re not nearly as satisfying and the odds against them are much higher. I’ll illustrate with a gambling analogy. If trying to hook up with someone at a party is like playing a complex game of poker (complete with bluffing and betting), then trying to hook up with someone drunk is like playing slots—it’s mindless, boring and your odds are terrible. This analogy doesn’t hold up under examination, though, because if you try to make out with a slot machine you’ll probably be arrested.
What I’m trying to say here is that getting trashed is not your surest route to success. Not only are you dependent on the other person also being entirely too drunk, but you’re also running a risk of vomiting or passing out at a key moment. Don’t do that.
5. Be Confident
This is the most important tip I have for you, you sad, lonely little person. But seriously, don’t be shy. Being timid is one of the worst ways you can screw yourself if you’re trying to play the hookup game. Confidence is your best friend.
Remember to keep things in perspective. It’s just a conversation. Even if you do somehow screw things up with your date by accidentally saying, “Hitler was actually very misunderstood,” that’s only one person who will leave the party thinking of you as a bigot (Pro tip: don’t say that).
For some, parties and mixers are a chance to get wasted and make poor decisions. For others, they are social events made for meeting new people. But for you, you newly-educated pick-up fiend, they are opportunities. So go out there and party hard, you… sexy… panther… you. Never mind, forget that last bit. Just go out there and carpe hookup.