In an age where dating apps are more synonymous with relationships than ever before, doing things the old-fashioned way and approaching someone you've never met before is becoming increasingly rare, especially when you don't have the benefit of alcohol to give you that much-needed bout of Dutch courage.
That said, a fear of rejection and general shyness get the better of most, but with a few tips, you'll be surprised how easy it is to talk to someone you like. Here are ten ways for both men and women to successfully approach someone in public without looking weird.
1. Gauge their interest
Talking to someone you've never met before and happen to find attractive is, for many of us at least, a daunting enough proposition, so it goes without saying that the level of interest should be mutual. But how can you determine this?
For a start, wherever you are, exchanging eye glances continually or even exchanging a brief smile can indicate a willingness to start up a conversation. Even if it is just a simple hello, the chances are that they are likely to want to add something to the conversation if they like the look of you.
2. Think of a conversation starter that could lead somewhere
A healthy amount of game is vital in attracting a partner, and it's for these reasons alone that many (particularly men) are put off by striking up a conversation with someone. But it needn't be so fraught. If you compose yourself and think of a conversation starter suitable to the environment, you'll be surprised how easy the conversation flows.
If you're in a gym, for instance, perhaps make up a white lie and say you could have sworn you saw them in a recent class. They'll likely smile and say no, but then you'll be able to make a joke out of it and follow it up by asking if they're new to the place or if they could offer advice on an individual exercise you noticed they appeared to have mastered. Or, if you're in a cafe and both happen to have laptops, make a joke out of always being busy and not having time to even enjoy your coffee.
These are small conversation starters but have the ability to spawn decent conversations.
3. Don't care about those around you
One of the hardest things about talking to a stranger in public is, believe it or not, not the fear of rejection but the fear of looking sleazy and desperate to people nearby who might be watching you and listening in.
Of course, watching someone attempt to woo another person, which in most cases often takes the form of the male courting the female, can be quite comical to others, but if you remain composed those around you will admire you for having the courage to put yourself out there!
4. Remind yourself that you will eventually be dead
Weighing up the pros and cons of talking to someone you like should always have more pros than cons, because, if we're brutally honest, a life where you embraced every opportunity, no matter the outcome, is certainly much better than one where you let nerves get the better of you.
Most of all, love is the most important thing about life and what makes it worth living, regardless of career ambitions or inner-happiness.
In the words of one of America's greatest President's, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
5. Be genuine
It's a cliche you've probably heard over and over again, and it likely sounds like a broken record, but if you manage to come across as genuine, then you'll be off to a great start.
And by all means, compliment him/her! If you're a guy in the gym, it might be best to avoid complimenting their body as that come across creepy, so compliment their natural hair color or even admit how jealous you are of their amazing workout routine.
For women, complimenting someone's muscles/body often works, though away from the gym, asking for directions is another great way to spark a conversation, or even praising a piece of their clothing.
6. If they're looking at you, stop looking away
The Belgian artist Henri Matisse once said, "There are always flowers for those that want to see them." It's certainly a fitting quote for a generation increasingly disengaged with their natural surroundings and instead find more comfort staring at their phone's screens- even if that means not reciprocating eye contact with someone you like!
So play along to such signs and don't be afraid to look them in the eyes for longer than a split second and smile.
If you fail to act on these things, you might have just missed the opportunity of a lifetime, and life's too short for regrets.
7. Take it slow
One of the most important lessons in life is to be patient because as the saying goes, all good things come to those who wait. When speaking to a stranger, however, time is very much of the essence because you might not see them again but that doesn't mean you should go full guns blazing the moment you lay eyes on them.
Instead, give it a few minutes and think of something to say, and when you do speak, speak with a slow ease and confidence, as opposed to rushing your words.
A great quote that describes the importance of self-assured speech is by the legendary British actor Michael Caine who once said, “The basic rule of human nature is that powerful people speak slowly and subservient people quickly–because if they don’t speak fast, nobody will listen to them."
8. Try your hardest to not look like a serial killer
When we stare into thin air, we don't often realize how creepy and sinister we can sometimes look, and that can be a recipe for disaster, especially when we are enamored by the person nearby.
A good way to make sure your gaze doesn't make you look like an ax murderer is to simply smile at them when you catch their attention and then say a quick hello. By appearing affable and approachable, as opposed to simply staring at them, chances are they will feel at ease as opposed to being creeped out by someone staring at them without saying anything at all.
9. Block your inner-voices
Shyness and fear of rejection can be a crippling disease that sadly dictates many people's lives, so much so that they force themselves into a corner and miss out on a plethora of opportunities and potential partners that could be perfect for them, so for the love of god, don't let that be you.
You don't have to possess the socializing prowess of James Bond or the looks of Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie to start up a conversation. All it takes is a rejection of the fear of rejection. And if they reject you, so what? You would have only just met them, and there are millions of others out there so roll the dice and see where the conversation leads.
10. Tell yourself that you are making their day by approaching them
If you have a sincere interest in getting to know them, then they will see that and even be flattered that you have gone out of your way to strike up a conversation with them.
And let's be honest: if you've followed the other steps and genuinely believe he/she is interested in you, then they probably are and are likely having the same thoughts as you! So do something different and just go for it! Or remain perpetually depressed on Tinder...
The choice is yours.