What I'm about to say isn't likely to come as much of a surprise: an awful lot of men care an awful lot about meeting women. Whether it's for sex, a relationship, or something else, most single men seem pretty preoccupied by the issue. Inevitably, when there's that much thought put into the topic, and that many people invested in it, there are plenty of opinions around about the best ways for men to go about it. In fact, there's a whole industry built around it, with so-called ‘pickup artists' making their riches selling their tips and techniques to the less fortunate.
If you devote any time to the topic you'll hear a lot about what you need to successfully woo women. Some say it's all about confidence. Others recommend revamping the way you dress. Yet others go into endless detail about the right way to approach women, to meet them, and to talk to them. You'll be told that you need to ask lots of questions, to make them feel comfortable, to show your value to them, or even, from certain circles, that you should subtly insult them and put them down. There's some good advice tucked away in most of this (not the bitabout insulting people though) but for the most part, it's irrelevant. There's only one thing that you need to know about talking to women: say ‘hello'.
No, this isn't a discussion of the intricacies of which greeting you should use to make a first impression – though, for the record, I prefer the informality of a simple ‘hi' – rather, it's about ignoring the bullshit and the extraneous stuff. If you see a woman that you'd like to get to know better, then (circumstances permitting) just go and talk to her. Be polite and friendly, introduce yourself, and try and find something to talk about. That's it, really.
It's always easy, and tempting, to over think things like this. That's exactly what the pickup artist industry relies on. When you think about it too much you'll come up with a hundred questions, and I could probably find you a hundred books and 10-step programs to answer those questions. None of them will get you much further than just starting a conversation though.
Sure, just saying ‘hello' is hardly a foolproof plan. It can go wrong. You might meet someone who's rude and unfriendly to you. Or they might just not be attracted to you, or might be taken already. Maybe you'll even say something silly and embarrass yourself. But those things are all true no matter what, you can't get away from them. They're part and parcel of walking up to random strangers to talk to them. When you do that, you take a risk, and you need to come to terms with that no matter what. And you know what? Barring exceptional cases where things go really excitingly wrong (helpful hint: if it results in a court case, it's gone really excitingly wrong) the worst that can happen is a bit of awkwardness, a bit of embarrassment, and you both move on with your days. That's it.
A lot of people want to convince you that they have the magic bullet, the simple method to having any girl that you want. It's bullshit. There's no way to have any girl that you want. It doesn't matter who you are. Everyone gets rejected sometimes and the only way to avoid it is to never try at all. There is no magic bullet. So just take a chance, say hello, and see where things go. It won't work every time – but then, nothing does.
There's one thing in common to most pickup strategies, and that's treating talking to single women as fundamentally different to any other conversation, requiring its own skill set and tactics. This attitude sees women as women first, and people second, and is a natural precursor to some potentially sexist views. It’s not even a particularly unusual attitude – how many guys do you know who claim that they don’t know how to talk to women? You might think that yourself, and if you do it’s because you’re putting their gender before and above all the other aspects of their personality. If you can talk to men, then you can talk to women. It’s the same deal, guys. You might spot a male coworker by the water cooler and ask if they want to grab a beer later, and think nothing of it. What part of that conversation would change if the coworker were female? Absolutely none. And that’s not even touching conversations about hobbies and interests. If you love tennis and you meet a woman who does too, then of course you can talk to her – you can talk about tennis! Just like you would if you met another guy who loved tennis. There doesn’t need to be, and shouldn’t be, a big difference between these situations.
If you were starting a new job and trying to impress your boss, you wouldn't try and open conversations with slick lines, use manipulative psychological tricks, or any of the sort of rubbish that people go into when chatting people up. You'd just try and get to know them, and bond with them over shared interests. Talking to women is no different – they're just people, not some special class of being. And, perhaps more importantly, they’re people first, and women second.
Now, the obvious response at this point is that you need the tactics to try and attract women to you, to interest them in either romance or sex. But really, not much is likely to attract them more than just normal, friendly, engaging conversation – just like you'd have with anyone else. People tend to fall for other people that they like, that they get on with, and that they have interests in common with. Get on with someone on a personal level and they're much more likely to be attracted to you, or even seek out a relationship with you. There's really not much more to it than that. If you’re talking to a woman that you’re attracted to, and you’re enjoying the conversation and think that they are too, then invite them for a coffee or a drink – now it’s the offer to have another great conversation, another chance to discuss your opinions and get to know another. If romance or sex follow down the line, then great, but it all starts with good conversation.
The great mystery of how to talk to women really boils down to one thing: talk to them like they're a person. Because they are! And just like talking to anyone else, say hello and take it from there. That really is it. Just say hello.