When you approach someone, take this advice:
1 Be sincere. The key to being sincere is to mean what you say. Pleeeeze don't practice sincerity in front of the mirror. For sincerity to work, you have to focus on the object (person, please) of your desire and believe what you're saying. In the most basic sense, you are selling yourself, but the soft sell works the very best.
1 Be honest. If you're a rotten dancer, say in a self-effacing, engaging way that you have two left feet. Don't try to make yourself someone you're not to impress someone you may or may not like. Don't pretend to love jazz, collect Porsches, or own a yacht. On the other hand, telling the truth isn't the same as baring your soul. To find out what you should and shouldn't divulge, see Chapter 20. Also, when it comes to discussing the other person, remember what your momma said: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
1 Be friendly. Who doesn't like friendly people? When you're friendly, you smile, you're open, and you're fun to be around.
1 Be positive. I'm not talking goody-two-shoes here, just pleasant and upbeat.
Successful flirting is all about fun and confidence and playfulness and sexiness. Unsuccessful flirting is about being too out-there, too sexual, too self-absorbed, and too eager to flirt with anyone. Basic rule: Flirt with your date, not the waiter, hostess, your date's best friend, or her mom. That said, you can find more about flirting in Chapter 13, but here's some info on how to flirt with style:
1 Be interested. Few things are sexier than someone who's totally into you. Paying genuine attention is a great place to start.
1 Lock eyes. Don't stare, but connect with your eyes and you have a better chance of connecting with your hearts.
1 Play. Good flirting is fun. Don't be afraid to giggle and tease.
1 Touch. Brush arms, bump knees beneath the table, tweak noses.
1 Flatter. A sincere appraisal of what you really like about this person is a turn-on. False praise, however, is a total turn-off.
1 Take a chance. Flirting, by its very nature, is active. Sitting back and waiting for someone to flirt with you may mean you put in more couch time than flirt time. Take a stab. Unless you drool all over your date or flirtmate, you have nothing to lose. Who doesn't like a little flirting?
One of the most focused first dates I ever heard of happened between the people from whom I bought my apartment. They had met in passing at a seminar years earlier. Then they bumped into each other at a party. He got her phone number and called her. He said that he had to go out and check on his summer cottage to see whether there had been any hurricane damage and asked if she'd like to come along. She said she was looking to get married and have kids and had no interest in "casual dating." He said he wouldn't even consider that kind of seriousness unless he'd had sex with a woman first.
Before the first date, they'd negotiated a weekend together, sex, and a potential for marriage and kids. While I'm not sure I would recommend this approach to everyone, it worked splendidly for them; they were married within six months and pregnant shortly thereafter. Being this focused certainly makes a statement. Like my mom says, "You don't ask, you don't get."
Avoiding what doesn't work
When you're approaching someone, don't be any of the following:
^ Cute: Unless you're 6 years old, the Little Bo Peep routine gets pretty annoying pretty fast.
^ Slick: When you think of slick, think of snake oil salesmen. People don't trust slick.
^ Obscene: Nothing is a bigger turn-off than lewd or disgusting gestures, jokes, and personal observations. Remember you're in civilized society; if that doesn't work, pretend your mother can hear every word you say.
^ Silly: Straws up your nose and lampshades on your head have never been attractive, so give it up and act like an adult.
^ Stupid: Acting stupid puts you in a catch-22: I mean, really, you act stupid to attract someone's attention, but do you really want the attention of someone who finds stupid attractive?
^ Negative: Gossiping about someone brings up the very real possibility that you would gossip about present company.
^ Whiny: Please . . . I really don't have to explain this to you, do I?
It's okay to be complimentary as long as the compliment is sincere and at least fairly reasonable and stays away from body parts below the neck and above the ankles. Saying to a fat person, for example, that he doesn't sweat much isn't even in the compliment ballpark. Saying "You remind me of my grandmother" (for either sex) isn't too hot, either.
Just when you think a compliment's safe . . .
Believe it or not, even conservative compliments can occasionally get you in trouble. I was working on a TV show and a very well-known actor was in make-up with me.
I said, "Love your hair."
"Nice teeth," I responded. "They're caps," said he. "Beautiful eyes?" "Contacts."
At that point, I said, "Nice package," and left it at that — and I wasn't even flirting.
It's okay to compliment men on their:
¡^ Hair: Thick, shiny, wavy, healthy locks, a nice cut, an attractive color. Talking hair is pretty safe. But don't talk about receding hairlines, bald spots, early graying, or anything else that may be a sensitive topic. Don't make even a casual reference to dandruff; avoid the words flake and flaky for at least five minutes after talking about hair.
¡^ Eyes: Blue, green, black, or brown, all God's children love to hear that they've got nice eyes. Some particularly good adjectives? Try bright, clear, beautiful, expressive, warm, laughing, and sensitive. Avoid sexy until the third date.
¡^ Neck: If he's got a neck like a wrestler, tell him. If it's a chicken neck, let it pass.
¡^ Tie: Cut, color, style. But don't say you want to use it to tie him to a bedpost — at least not yet. Make sure it's patterned and not grease stained before you comment on the unusual design.
¡^ Socks: Some men take a lot of care picking their socks. Stun — and impress — him by noticing, but never lift his pant leg without asking.
¡^ Smile: Men love to hear that they've got a charming, handsome, alluring smile.
¡^ Teeth: A bit more personal. Shiny is good, but big, dangerous, or sharp should not be noted.
Women find praise for essentially the same things really cool:
¡^ Hair: Women spend a lot of time on their hair, and they like the effort to be noticed. But don't touch without asking, be careful about noting an unusual color (two out of three women in America color their hair), and never say "dye."
¡^ Eyes: The same rules apply for women that apply for men. Like I said before, everyone likes to be complimented on his or her baby blues (or greens, etc.).
1 Neck: Complimenting a woman on her neck can often be a bit iffy — unless it's long and slender. If her neck is as thick as a linebacker's, though, you can comment on skin unless she's wearing something really low cut.
1 Smile: Women love to hear that they've got a warm, engaging, sweet smile.
1 Teeth: If you don't know how to give a compliment on teeth without coming off as an oral surgeon, go for the smile instead.
Stay away from body parts — even muscles (in either sex). Also, complimenting women's shoes can be a bit tricky, raising the possibility of a foot fetish. It's just not worth the risk this early on. Avoid the killer b's: buns, breasts, briefs, bazooms.
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This basically means that you should enjoy your dates more. Aside from that, you should also view dating as something that can offer you an opportunity to meet new people and socialize. Moreover, it can also offer you a potential to finding someone whom you can build a relationship with.