Whether you’re flirting in a bar or meeting an online date for the first time, those first few minutes of chat are crucial. Get it right, and you’ll have them at “hello” – or at least within a few minutes of it.
But chatting someone up is a tricky skill. Some people have the gift of the gab; others wouldn’t chat to a stranger if they were stranded on an island together. Follow these tips and you can go from chat-phobic to flirting champ.
1. Picture the scene
Before you approach that gorgeous creature or meet your date, run through some chatty scenarios in your head. Think about things you might say and how they might reply. Picture yourself responding with calm wit and fluency.
You probably won’t stick to these mental rehearsals, but the exercise will boost your confidence. It’s like the “visualisation” tricks sports stars use to calm their nerves before a game or a race.
2. One beer good, six beers bad
A drink or two can ease your shyness and help you mingle, but booze is not a magic confidence bullet. Alcohol on an empty stomach can turn you into a one-woman stag or hen party, and that won’t do your romantic chances any good at all.
3. Be a lone shark
Girls and guys who hunt in packs* are terrifying. If you want to pull a potential keeper, strike out on your own. (Numerical note: “a pack” means two or more. We’re easily intimidated.)
4. Flirt with your eyes
Intense eye contact is one of the strongest bonding signals humans can send out. So if you meet someone’s eye and they seem willing to maintain that eye contact until your backbone tingles, you’ve already done five minutes’ worth of chat in a few seconds of silence.
5. Make your move
If you see someone you want to talk to, don’t procrastinate – especially if you’ve made eye contact with them. Approach them before the moment is gone. If this one doesn’t work, there will be 100 more opportunities in the future.
6. Start small
The best chat-ups aren’t chat-ups at all, they’re small talk. So strike up a conversation, and keep the opener brief and casual. Make a comment or ask a question related to your surroundings, because that’s what you already have in common. For example if you’re at a party, ask if he or she has seen the bottle opener, and follow up with a comment about the choice of booze.
7. Cheese can work – in small doses
Don’t dismiss cheesy chat-ups completely. If you’ve already spent half the evening making eyes at each other, all you need say is “do you come here often?” – and they’ll laugh, and you’ve pulled. Humour is one of the best seduction strategies around.
8. Make sure they’re available
You’re wasting your time if they’re taken. First, the no-brainer – if there’s a wedding or engagement ring on the third finger of their left hand, don’t even think about it.
It harder to find out whether they have a girlfriend or boyfriend. Light humour is your best tactic, especially when combined with a flirtatious look. “So, will your boyfriend/girlfriend kill me if I buy you a drink?” is all it takes.
9. Watch your body language
If you seem to be at ease around the person you’re chatting to, they will feel more relaxed as well – and that’ll help your connection along no end. So relax your facial muscles and shoulders, and keep that lip-twich under control. To reel in your catch, subtly mirror their posture and behaviour. For example, sip your drink just after they sip theirs, or giggle at the same thing. Don’t be too obvious, though, or they’ll think you’re making fun of them.
If you find them interesting, they’ll find you interesting. Listen to what they say, even if it’s small talk about the weather, and respond to it. Don’t bombard them with questions, though – this isn’t a job interview. Overdoing the questioning will make you seem inexperienced. Learn more about how to be an interesting date.
11. Don’t brag
Bragging makes you sound both arrogant and insecure. What really attracts people is being passionate about your interests, but even passion can be overstated if it means telling someone how much you love your car within a minute of meeting them.
12. Avoid heavy topics
Politics and religion are no topics for chat-ups. You’ll seem overly earnest, and you may even start an argument. Save it for a longer conversation.
You’re nervous. Of course you’re nervous. So focus on your breathing and try to slow it down. Rapid breathing makes you babble, and that will make you feel worse.
14. Don’t admit that you’re nervous
Apologising for your nervousness, or even making a joke about it, will make the other person feel uncomfortable. Keep the conversation going, and the flow of chatter will distract you from the thump-thump of your pulse.
15. Let them know you’re interested
Forget about playing hard to get. If the person you’re talking to didn’t find you attractive, they would have made their excuses quickly. Seal the deal by maintaining eye contact and touching them gently on the arm as you talk. They’ll get the message. Chances are they’ll respond by showing their interest, too.
16. Leave them wanting more
Don’t outstay your welcome. Make your break as soon as there’s a lull in conversation. Ask for their number and vanish alluringly into the night. If they don’t want to give you their number, cut your losses and move on.
Once you’ve locked down that date, learn the 8 Dating Dos and Don’ts discover The 5 Pieces of Dating Advice You Should Definitely Ignore.