Youth brings a number of things. A lack of bills to pay. A constitution that can handle more than two nights of heavy drinking on a row. An overinflated sense of confidence that gets you through things you don’t know that you should be scared of doing.
It’s this last one that got me my ex-wife. We’d know each other through friends, and at a nightclub I drunkenly kissed her and the rest is very much history. But that was all a long, long time ago in a since-closed nightclub in Walthamstow with a sticky floor and £2 snakebite-and-blacks on the menu.
These days, unfortunately, I’ve not got the bravado of youth to get me through that first barrier – the approach. Back then I didn’t need any encouragement to approach a woman and start speaking. I never worried about what to say, whether she was already in a relationship, how confident I should be or whether I was dressed appropriately. And I never had to track down eligible women because at that age they were nearly all out looking for guys.
These days it feels very different indeed. When I see an attractive woman she is invariably with friends, either male or female, and invariably in an environment where rejection won’t simply mean I move slightly further along the bar and try again (not that I was ever that guy, of course!).
My head says “don’t worry! It’s muscle memory and is no different to just talking to someone. You do that all day for your job!!!” But it is different. I’m not selling a software platform, I’m selling myself. The opening isn’t to create an opportunity to show them some powerpoint, it’s for me to show them myself.
Like Marty McFly, I don’t handle rejection very well (as I’m sure most people don’t). There are no secret moves or phrases which will guarantee I get to speak with someone, no cheat sheets. All I see is people saying “be yourself”; if that’s all it took then no-one would be single!
I’m relatively confident in myself. I know my limitations in the looks department and that there are no doubt more charming, smooth men out there but I also know that if given a chance I can be a thoroughly incorrigible flirt and have even – on occasion – been called funny. And not just by my Mum. I know that with a willing partner I can have a great time and make sure she does too – if only I can strike up the confidence to strike up a conversation.
So until I get comfortable with approaching an intimidatingly attractive woman and simply saying “hi, I notice you’re sitting on your own, would you mind if I bought you a drink and joined you?” I’ll look jealously at pick-up artists doing just that, knowing I could do just as good a job at entertaining someone else.
If you have any good starter lines, then I’m all ears…