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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

From Wallflower to Flirt

Dear Mistress Maeve,

In last week's Seven Days, you told a woman how to break away from her guy friends (a.k.a friends with benefits) in hopes of finding more substantive relationships. I'm in a similar situation, so thanks for the advice. But I have a follow-up question.

When I'm out on the town — can you share some tips on how to get a guy's attention? I'm shy and need to learn how to break the ice.


Dear Wallflower,

If you're shy, perhaps going "out on the town" isn't the best dating avenue for you. Have you ever considered signing up for a class or volunteering for an organization to meet prospective mates? Think about it — if you're both in a cooking class or volunteering for your favorite charity, you already have something in common.

Whether you're out on the town or at a community event, the guide to flirtation remains the same. Once you've scouted out the guy, check for a wedding ring (or a tan line, indicating the ring is stuffed in his pocket). If the coast is clear, begin with a simple smile in his direction and some subtle eye contact. The key is to indicate that you find him attractive without coming off as a potential stalker.

If he's returning your overtures, it's safe to move in. (Yes, woman can make the first move, too.) Introduce yourself with a firm, but not industrial-strength, handshake. If he seems pleased to meet you, continue with small talk, sprinkled with questions about his interests. Let's face it: Most people love to talk about themselves, so it's a great icebreaker. Interject witty banter when you can, and be sure to mirror his body language. If his elbow is on the bar, put your elbow on the bar. If he's rubbing his belly and patting his head, you do the same. Studies show that mirroring body language puts people at ease, and it's a common practice among salespeople when they want to "close a deal."

After you've been chatting for a while, if you still fancy him, you need to ask the question: Would you like to go out sometime? Contrary to some old-fashioned rules about dating, it's OK for the woman to ask the man out. Just be ready for the full gamut of possible responses. He could respond positively, or he could tell you he already has a girlfriend. Regardless of his response, remain calm and keep your wits about you. If he says yes, get his number or arrange a date. If he declines — hey, at least you tried. In this dating game, practice makes perfect.

Good luck,

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