Dating Book Chapter

DATING: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FROM

THE FRONTLINES

CHAPTER 3

Movin’ in for the Kill:

Are you giving me the eye or is my fly undone?

Okay, so you’re in your feng shui class and you’ve got your eye on the guy with the best angles in the room. Now what do you do?

If it’s not your fear of rejection that prevents you from taking action then it’s your uncertainty about whether this person gives a flying cahooney about you, right? Sometimes, it’s hard to know if the person is smiling at you from across the room or smirking because your fly’s undone.

Sometimes you’re too dense to realize that running into the same woman every morning when you get your coffee is more than “coincidence” on her part.

Sometimes you read into things too much and imagine that running into the same woman every morning when you get your coffee is more than a “coincidence”on her part.

Add to all this the delicate issue of trying to suss out someone’s availiblity and you’ve got a lot of people going home alone. “I am so bad at approaching people… I don’t even get it,” as Jean, a 31-year-old gay video-store manager. “Ally McBeal has nothing on how neurotic and dumb I can be.”

Bottom line, if someone’s interested and available, you can shoot spitballs at them and they’d find it charming. It’s the ones that haven’t yet realized that you are the one that will make their life complete that are more of a challenge. Or the ones that you’d like to maybe just take for a test drive. You’ve got to find a way to make them come over to your side.

And it’s all in the approach. One false move and you could blow it.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, straight or gay, putting the moves on someone is tricky business. It’s all fun and games until someone throws you a bad pick-up line or moves in way to fast. And even if you get his or her attention, how do you know they’re really interested. More on all that in a bit.

But first, just in case you thought we’re the only ones who have to go through this hell, a little history.

The Historical Approach

As the old story goes, back in Napeoleon’s day, a certain Prince Regent made a rather valiant attempt to get this babe, a widow named Mrs Fitzherbert, to go out with him. According to A History of Courting,

“He beat his brow, popped his eyes, tore out his hair and writhed on the floor. He threatened to carry her off to America by force; he drank three pints of brandy and finally, in a last ditch attempt to woo her, sent her a message saying he had stabbed himself. She went to his bedside, fainted at the sight of blood (which some believe he had faked) and then skipped town.” They did eventually marry but it didn’t last.

There is such a thing as trying too hard.

Then again, there was also a time, back in 17th century England when guys were fined and imprisoned for pursuing women at all. It was strickly her fathers responsiblity to find her a husband, end of story. Any unnaproved candidates need not apply. I suppose that would be one way to avoid the stress of trying to find a date.

When you look back in history, its not hard to understand why guys today are a little confused about how to approach a woman.

For example, during the Restoration, courting a woman was more about getting laid than about love and marriage.

In 18th century England, guys went all out trying to win her heart, Again, Turner writes in A History of Courting, “[Serenading] had achieved expecial notoriety in Nottingham,where young ladies complained of rioutous lovers infesting the streets with violins and bass viols, from midnight to four in the morning”

Talk about overkill.

But things really got out of hand when the Romantics raised amorous expectations with all their still hearts and mushy poetry. Some poor guys began to complain they couldn’t keep up. The Romantics set a dangerous precedent, writes Turner, because women were “stuffing their heads with romantic nonsense.” What’s a romantically-challenged lovestruck boy to do? Why hire-a-romantic, … la Cyrano de Bergerac, of course.

Today, women still want to be serenaded. Only, hardly anyone plays the lute anymore. And now, Cosmo sets women’s expectations when it comes to wooing us.

That means women want men to romance us, except when we don’t, and we also expect to be free to approach men.

Of course, without years of serendading practice or men’s magazines telling us how to woo a man, we’ve got even less to go on. And, truth be told, women hitting on guys is still a relatively new concept. Some of us (both men and women) aren’t even completely comfortable with it yet.

But let’s face it, as much as history has brought us to where we are, most of us got our romantic education on the playground. If you liked someone, you chased him or her around the schoolyard and then gave ’em a good slug in the arm when you caught them. I still have a piece of pencil lead in my hand where a boy who liked me in grade five jabbed me.

It didn’t get much better high school. There, if you really liked someone, you played it super cool and ignored him. If you were really brave, you got your friend to tell him that you liked him. Then you ignored him.

Now that we’re mature adults and walking up to someone in a bar and slugging them in the arm might get you charged with assault, what do you do when you like someone?

Death to The Pick-up Line

Which brings us to pick-up lines.

You’d think this would be a dead issue by now. Pick-up lines don’t work. I don’t know that they ever did. Who started that whole thing, anyway? Guys, was that you? If there ever was a time where we led you to believe these lines work, we’re sorry. We were only humouring you because we felt bad that you had to do all the work.

I know it’s tempting to try and come up with something clever to say so you stand out from the rest, to be charming, or to get the ball rolling, but honestly, walking up to a woman sticking out your tongue and saying, “If I buy you a drink, will you sit on this?” is just not an appropriate way to introduce yourself (yes, someone actually did this). The thing is, if a someone isn’t interested, you’re wasting your time and your clever (or not so clever) line.

If you find yourself searching for a good opening line, stop yourself right there. She can tell you’ve been working on it. I’m sorry to harp on the guys about this, but it does seem to be mostly a guy thing. Like I said before, I’m sure that has something to do with the amount of pressure on you to make the first move. But honestly, most people (men and women) would rather a genuinely delivered, “Hi there,” than a comedy routine. “The most effective lines are honest statements that don’t feel like a line,” as Karen put it.

In fact, most of you said the most effective line is…wait for it….”Hi, my name is …” Variations on “Hello” can work but they have to be sincere. Something along the lines of, “Hey, I couldn’t help but notice you dancing tonight, you look great, My name’s —–“.

But to a certain extent, what you say is fairly inconsequential.If there’s a mutual attraction, most any opening statement (except for maybe the tongue line) will do.

“Your smile lights up this room,” can melt you if you wanna do the person delivering this line, but it can sound like a big hunk of cheese if you don’t.

If you want to pique someone’s interest, and don’t feel a simple “Hello,” is a strong enough self-marketing campaign, keep it simple. Don’t try to be too clever.

Compliments work well _ if they’re genuine and don’t involve certain body parts. “You’re great to talk to,” rather than “You have nice tits,” for example. But don’t get carried away. Too many compliments of any kind and you start to sound insincere.

“An appeal to my intellect – that always works,” says Jennifer. “Hi what book are you reading? It looks interesting,” for example. Mutual interests provide a good opening. “Oh yeah, I love that painting too,” if you’re at the art gallery, let’s say. This gives you something to talk about. “You’re so beautiful,” doesn’t exactly open the floor up to conversation. Whaddya supposed to say? “Oh you really think so? I think I’m pretty damn hot myself.”

Any “So, do you come here often?” type lines are out, out, out. Again though, if you suss out whether there is interest first and then phrase it genuinely. Something like, “I’ve noticed you before, I really like coming here because…” might stand a chance. “I like someone who will reveal information about himself before asking for information about me,” says 26-year-old Sarah, a fine arts student who is bisexual. “It’s an exchange, it’s not about ‘I want information, give it to me.'”

That Was The Worst Line I’ve Ever Heard

According to A History of Courting, back in the 50s in Communist Burma, lines like, “You are beautiful,” were not only cheesy but they were also considered too bourgeois. A hot line then was often politically oriented and went something more like: “I am deeply impressed by your qualities as a faithful and energetic member of the Party, and I wish to wage the Party struggle together with you.”

Try that in a bar sometime. Though it seems people in the free world do fine on their own coming up with some pretty odd lines. Here are some examples from the people I spoke to, for instance:

“I wish I were that coffee machine over there so I wouldn’t feel sad if you were to walk away from me.”

“You are a Canadian savings bond I’m interested in investing my time in.”

Taking advantage of a situation can work: “A girl kicked my ass in babyfoot and in pool and I asked if I could get my revenge one day. Bingo!”

Some of the worst one-liners collected go from the poetic: “Hey mother, want another?” to the ridiculous: “Your eyes are so beautiful. I could fall in love with you” “This was five minutes after this person had met me,” recounts Tara, a free-spirited 29-year-old and the provider of this gem. To the just plain cheezy: “Can I look at the tag in your shirt to see if it says, ‘Made in Heaven.”

Lines delivered purely in anticipation of sex are always, to be diplomatic, interesting. “Nice shoes, wanna fuck?” is one Martin’s gotten some use out of, for example. It has a certain appeal, if, well, if it’s obvious you want to fuck the person. “It gets their attention, anyway,” he says.

Out of the blue like that, this kind of direct approach can be a little unsettling. “I was in Toronto, having a drink at Woody’s, a gay bar, and some guy came up to me, – actually he was quite good-looking- and said, ‘You wanna fuck?’ -I couldn’t believe it. I was dumbfounded. I said, ‘I’m Sam, who are you?’ It was so funny.”

It makes ya wonder: It must work if folks (see guys, I’m lettin’ you off the hook a little there) keep dishing ’em out like this. Well, Sam confesses, the problem is, sometimes if he’s horny enough, they do. “I went to the bar with a raging hard-on, and had a bit to drink, and someone came on to me with some sleazy line and I was like, ‘Okay, you’re breathing? Let’s go.’

Sleazy lines delivered on a bet on the other hand aren’t so welcome. “‘My face is leaving in five minutes, you better be on it.’ Robert writes, recounting the line he delivered on a dare from his buddies. “Ach! The woman almost slapped me, but I got a big laugh from the guys.”

And finally, added gimmicks only make a bad line worse. “One of the first times I ever went into a gay bar, was in Alberta,” Sam retells. “A guy came up to me in a cowboy hat lit-up with Christmas lights and delivered the ‘Do I come here often,’ line.'”

Like I said, death to the pick-up line.

Snappy comebacks

The one thing really bad lines are good for are snappy comebacks. Next time someone tosses a stinker your way, instead of kicking yourself half an hour later, and thinking, “Damn, I should have said….” try one of these clever comebacks that were e-mailed to me:

Bad Line: “Haven’t I seen you someplace before?

Snappy Comeback: “Yeah, that’s why I don’t go there anymore.”

BL: “Is this seat empty?”

SC: “Yes, and this one will be too if you sit down.”

BL: “So, wanna go back to my place ?”

SC: “Well, I don’t know. Will two people fit under a rock?”

BL: “Your place or mine?”

SC: “Both. You go to yours and I’ll go to mine.”

BL: “I’d like to call you. What’s your number?”

SC: “It’s in the phone book.”

Response: “But I don’t know your name.”

SC: “That’s in the phone book too.”

BL: “I’m here to fulfill your every sexual fantasy.”

SC: “You mean you’ve got both a donkey and a Great Dane?”

BL: “If I could see you naked, I’d die happy.

SC: “Yeah, but if I saw you naked, I’d probably die laughing.”

BL: “Hey cutie, how ’bout you and I hitting the hot spots?”

SC: “Sorry, I don’t date outside my species..”

BL: “I would go to the end of the world for you.

SC: “Yes, but would you stay there?”

For straight girls only:

Man: “So what do you do for a living?”

Woman: “I’m a female impersonator.”

Man: “Hey, come on, we’re both here at this bar for the same

reason”

Woman: “Yeah! Let’s pick up some chicks!”

Dance With Me

Anthropoligists and biologists with way to much time on their hands have spent hours in bars studying human mating behaviour. Thanks to their efforts, they’ve discovered that we humans have a whole dance number worked out when two people are checking each other out. Apparently, we go through a series of well choreographed moves _ you leer at her, she leers at you, she smiles coyly, maybe plays with her hair, he runs back to his table like a scared rabbit. I’m kidding. But you get my drift. Basically you tip toe around each other, until one of you moves in for the kill.

In order to get the moves right, let’s take it step by step.

I’ve Got My Eye on You

“They can copulate with their eyes,” I once read somewhere. There’s no denying the power of eye contact. If you’ve ever held someone’s gaze for that brief second longer than usual, you know what I mean. It’s often what gets everything going.

Just be careful. “I have literally been checking out someone out trying to make eye contact and walked into a wall,” says Sarah.

Don’t kid yourself. It’s not just fear of walking into walls that makes it hard to look directly at someone you fancy and hold it for that extra second.

“At gay bars. I make eye contact and then look away. I’m so bad at it,” says Jean. “Same goes for the ‘eye contact on the street’ rule.”

Hang on a sec, what’s this rule?

“Well, if you’re walking in the street and someone makes eye contact with you and you think you’re being cruised, you just wait three seconds and then turn around and look back and see if he’s still looking… But then what do you do because, at this point, you’re like six paces apart, and unless one of you decides to run back, you’ve lost it! I usually just never look back because it makes me too nervous.”

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if the person is really looking at you. “Is he looking at me? I think he’s looking at me. I’d better look at his eyes again and make sure he’s really looking at me. Yes, he’s really looking at me!” But of course, since you’re both so cool (read: terrified) about making eye contact, you both have an expression on your face that implies that the other person just shot your dog more than “I’m interested.”

This would be a good time to smile.

Give Us A Smile

Eye contact followed by a smile can really do the trick. And we’re not talking a big grinning idiot smile. Just a quick little George Clooney flash of teeth delivered genuinely with a direct look at the person and you’re bound to make an impact if there’s any spark of interest on the other end.

Of course, if you smile and the other person sticks out their tongue (unless you’re still in elementary school) it probably means you should move on.

At this point, as far as I’m concerned, there is no need to get your tongue involved in the action. Some of us (see Leil Lowndes How to Make Someone Fall in Love With you Seminar) suggest women put on liptick and then lick their lips while he’s watching. Yeah, that should be good for a laugh. At least he’d be smiling. Call me conservative, but I’d go for a slightly more subtle approach. Same for you guys. No lipstick.

Word Play

You exchange a few glances, a smile or two and you’re certain it’s not because you have food on your face.

You finally get up the courage to walk over and say, “Hi,” that’s right, no cheezy line, just “Hi.” Then you stand there like an idiot not knowing what to say next. “Uh, terrible cold snap, eh?”

Even in the days of the Renaissance, writes Turner in A History of Courting, when the fashionable lover was expected to “weep seas, live in fire, eat rocks, tame tigers,” it was most important that “he have the gift of the gab.”

Being able to strike up a good conversation is way up on there on the lists of both men and women when it comes to the best way to win them over.

And that does not mean you must become marathon mouth. The key to a good conversation is to express genuine interest and curiousity. Always be aware of how long you’ve been talking and how long ago you asked him or her a question.

“I was with a group of women at this bar and all of us were pretty hot for this one guy that was there. We finally got him to come over and sit with us and I ended up going home with him. He told me the reason he like me was because I asked him questions about himself,” retells Dawn, a 33-year-old conversationally gifted TV writer. “I thought to myself, ‘Why can’t men figure that out. If you’re going to give men a tip on meeting women it should be to ask her about herself.”

Hear that guys?

Just don’t turn it into a cross examination.

“If you’re asking all the questions of the other person it’s not fair,” says Nathan. “You have to give enough information about yourself so the other person feels a balance and finds out something about you too.”

But not too much information.

“I was at a show and this guy kind of latched onto me,” Jennifer retells, “And within minutes, it seemed, he started telling me about his ex wife and the house they bought that he has to drive by now, and how he is a romantic, and how awful it was being alone at Valentine’s Day but how he’s not ready for a relationship. Needless to say, I cooled to him.”

Easy, eh?

Really, though, it can be fun. In fact, turning it into a game can be a great thing. “Wordplay is a big turn on,” says Mark. “I love it when I can play with someone intellectually, and not in a restrictive or stuffy ‘let’s show off how smart I am way,’ but good intellectual banter. I like that.”

“I say something fucking inane like ‘you know that ‘trumpet’ and ‘triumphant’ are from the same root?'” Walter, a 28-year-old engineer and obvious wordmaster, offers as an example. “If they think that’s intriguing I know I’ve gotta good thing.”

Finally, don’t get too panicked about a few moments of silence. You don’t have to fill every second with conversation. A pause here and there gives the other person time a chance take the lead or an out if he or she wants one.

And it beats having to start talking about the weather….

You’re Really Funny

Humour’s next on the list. Most people like someone who can make them laugh.

“Humour implies intelligence,” offers Mark. So it’s obvious that being able to talk out of your butthole … la Jim Carrey is not the kind of humour we’re aiming for. Many of the people I talked to said that someone who’s witty and playful gets you every time. But you don’t want a one-man or woman show. Just someone who doesn’t take themselves and the world too seriously. And knows how to be funny without being mean or too crass.

You also want someone who appreciates your sense of humour back.

“I like a guy’s who’s funny, but funny in a way that allows me to be funny also,” explains Ann-Marie. “If a guy thinks you’re funny, it’s a big deal. My girlfriends think I’m funny. Guys don’t. The guy I’m seeing now won me over because he thought I was funny. I was like ‘Wow, this is great! I got a guy laughing.'”

If you think someone’s funny, tell them. “You’re really funny.” That’s a great compliment. But only if you mean it. You don’t want to encourage them if they’re not funny.

Prop-er Behaviour

Back in the old days, masks and fans were popular flirting props. They gave you something to hold, something to drop and have someone else pick up for you, or something behind which to hide yourself from that creep who keeps trying to make eye contact. Fans even developed their own language: According to Turner’s A History of Courting, a fan touched to the left cheek, apparently meant: “I want to get rid of you;” a fan to lips said: “Kiss me.”

You can’t say “Kiss me!” with a smoke, but cigarettes are to flirting today what the fan was of yesteryear. Smoking became part of flirting from the day it became socially acceptable for men and women. At the time, Turner writes, “Some theatregoeters complained that the business of exchanging and lighting cigarettes constituted 90 per cent of the new love-making.” A cigarette can come in handy as a pretext for opening a conversation, or for covering up an awkward pause. Thought it’s best if you already smoke. And these days, unless you live in Montreal like I do, that’s less and less likely.

Drinks are another handy prop. You can hold one, buy one for someone, maybe even have the waiter send one over, However, sending someone a drink can be risky. Plenty of people will accept a free drink even if they’re not interested in you. They may just be broke. Best to ask first if you can buy them a drink. Then judge the response. Dave Hingsburger is a sex therapist who specializes in working with the developmentally disabled. At a conference a while back, he told a great story about buying someone drinks. He was in a bar with a friend of his — a woman with cerebral palsy. “Have you ever been to a bar with someone in a wheelchair?” he asked. “People send you pity drinks. This woman would talk about how it was patronizing, but she drank them anyway. She had that edge of hypocrisy that made her truly interesting.

“Anyway,” he continued, “this guy in the bar was sending her a lot of beer and she says, ‘If he sends over another beer, I’m gonna go talk to him.’ Of course the guy sent over another drink and she went over and said, ‘Listen buster, one more beer and I expect to get laid.’ The guy’s mouth hit the bar table and he was out of there.”

I’ll drink to that.

Touchy subject

There’s nothing like a well-timed brush of an arm or a gently placed hand on a shoulder to get sparks flying. Just make sure the person is open to it.

Unwelcome touch is about the worse move you can make.

Where you touch someone is important too. “Knees are good. Backs are good. Asses are bad,” offers Alex, a 31-year-old retail clerk.

Again, it depends on how you feel about the person touching you. “If it’s someone you really like they could probably touch you anywhere and it would be OK,” Alex continues. ” If it’s someone you don’t like and they slike their hand across your back– eeeeugh!”

Best to reserve touching for the more advanced stages of an encounter, when you’re pretty sure you’re in. If you must, keep it to a gentle touch of the shoulder or elbow to emphasize the intelligent remark you just made. Or a gentle, friendly jab in the arm (not like in grade school) if they say something particularly clever or funny.

It the person tightens up or cringes when you touch them, that’s it, hands off!

The Art of Flirting

Rule # 1: Don’t try. The danger with trying is that it’s one step away from trying too hard. Flirting is _ or at least it should be _ a natural act.

“The key to being a good flirt is to flirt without intention,” offers our pro-flirter Lise. “You don’t have to have sex with the person that night.”

Well, not necessarily.

Rule #2: Subtlety. I tried to explain this to a male friend who couldn’t figure out why his “Hey, Bra Girl!” salutation to a woman at a party we were at didn’t exactly win her over.

I know men are afraid they’ll be perceived as macho assholes if they approach women. That’s because women think men are macho assholes if they approach them in the wrong way. Then again, men are always saying they want women to be more sexually aggressive. So women start flinging themselves at men with all the subtlety of a freight train. We both lose.

Rule # 3: No flinging yourself. In fact, you should avoid body contact of any sort until flirting is well under way, and then keep it to the brush of an arm or a well-timed elbow touch. Of course _ and I can’t stress this enough _ only after you’ve been given the go-ahead.

Which brings us to:

Rule #4: Being perceptive. “You have to be able to read the leave-me-alone signals,” offers another pro.

A good flirt is an expert at reading body language and respecting personal-space zones. Just because you’ve managed to maintain eye contact across the room for that fraction of a second longer than usual doesn’t mean you can move in for the kill. Don’t get too close unless invited, and if things suddenly cool off, that is not a signal to try harder (see Rule #1).

Rule #5: Be prepared to back off. Even if you thought things were going swimmingly, when it comes to flirting, either party reserves the right to stop the game at any time without explanation.

Rule #6: Drinking and flirting can be hazardous. While alcohol may help grease your flirting wheels, too much alcohol can turn you into a greaseball and dull your ability to respect Rule #4.

Any flirting that starts with “Huveyever tuld you…” or involves any sliding hand movements (you know very well what I mean) is out. This is not flirting but pent-up sexual tension, and it ain’t pretty.

The trick is to find a happy medium somewhere between bra-man’s tactic and the drunk-uncle-at-a-party approach.

What makes a good flirt?

Here are some of the things people I talked to said made a good flirt.

“Good delivery. Not too schmarmy, not too cool.”

“Having a sense of humour about it.”

“Good timing”

“Being perceptive enough to know when to turn it off”

“Looking you in the eye.”

“Paying attention to someone – whether it’s a subtle pat on a shoulder, a strategic brush of the arm, or simply a confident warm look in your eye.”

“Sincerity”

What makes a bad flirt?

And here’s what some people said made for a bad flirt.

“Lack of humour and a sense of desperation.”

“Being a bragging idiot.”

“Putting me on a pedestal. That’s a turn off for me.”

“Being a loud, groping bad drunk.”

“Not being able to read body language.”

“Focusing on my ethnicity. In this day and age, it still happens. It’s come to a point where they’ll say ‘You must be Chinese,’ and I’ll stare at them and say ‘You don’t want to go there. Don’t get me started.'”

How to Pick up Girls (if you’re a boy)

Honest, it’s not that women are playing hard to get or that we enjoy shooting you down when you try to pick us up (unless you deserve it, that is). Usually, we’re just being cautious. Hey, a girl’s gotta be a little picky. We don’t want to end up going home with an axe-murderer or, even worse, a guy who wears white socks with sandals. You can never be too careful.

So just how do you tell whether a woman is interested in you?

Well, the most obvious sign is if she approaches you. Trust me, women won’t initiate any kind of interaction with a guy unless she’s not curious in some way. That doesn’t mean that if we smile at you that you should come running over. Be cool, you’ve got time. Let her watch you for a while, catch her glance a few more times, just to be sure there’s something going on.

Even then, there’s no need to pounce. She’s still just checking you out and if you move in too fast before she’s decided she wants to pursue anything with you, she’ll wiggle out of it even faster.

Be on best behaviour at all time. Consider that women scope out men just as much as men check out women and chances are we’ve got you pegged before you even come near us. So consider how you’re conducting yourself.

The way you treat the people you’re with reflects on you big time.

Try not to make it too obvious that you’re cruising. She wants to feel like you’re she’s the only one you’ve got you’re eye one. Like you picked her becasue she’s just so darned special.

No comments on her body in first encounter, not of a sexual nature anyway. You can compliment her funky outfit maybe, but that doesn’t mean you say, “Wow, that dress makes your breasts look great!”

Oh, by the way, just one of my pet peeves. I can’t stand a guy whose idea of conversation is to tell you how much the place you’re in sucks, or how the crowd are a bunch of losers. It’s not witty, it’s cynical and boring.

Consider that if a women does respond to you, it doesn’t always mean she’s interested. Some women are way too nice and they’ll talk to you only because their mama taught them not to be rude.

Let her take the lead, but don’t sit back and let her do all the work.

If she’s uncomfortable she’ll let you know. Just make sure you’re not so busy trying to charm her, that you don’t pick up on her discomfort. Be alert. We love a guy who can pick up on our signals. Watch her body language and read her verbal and physical clues. If she steps back while you’re talking, she’s literally backing off. If she’s looking around while you’re talking to her, she’s looking for an escape or a rescue team. If she starts telling you about how she’s escaped from prison twice and killed her whole family, she’s probably trying to not-so-subtly blow you off.

The idea is to be charming but not “a charmer.” “I like a guy who’s confident and sure of himself without being cocky,”as Karen sums it up.

If you’ve got a nice butt on top of it all, bonus.

You may think we’re being “a bitch” if we give you the cold shoulder, but the problem is, sometimes guys just don’t get the hint. No matter how blatent we are about our lack of interest, some guys take this as a sign to try harder. It isn’t. Really.

Signs that you’re in with a woman

So guys, how do you know she’s into you:

* She compliments you.

* She laughs at your jokes.

* She hangs around, and doesn’t suddenly have to go to the bathroom.

* If she does have to go to the bathroom, she leaves behind her coat and asks you to watch her drink.

* She’s genuinely engaged in the conversation, and picks it up when there’s a silence.

* She touches your arm/knee/shoulder.

* You brush past her to grab an ashtray, or pick up a drink and she doesn’t flinch.

* She’s ignoring her friends.

How to Pick up Boys (if you’re a girl)

“Show up at a bar in a short skirt.” “Breath.”

Okay, yes, I admit, as these responses from some of the guys I spoke to prove, when it comes to making the moves on a guy, women have a slight advantage. And perhaps because we’ve been at it less time, some of the tired moves guys make still work for us because it doesn’t feel like a routine. We can walk right up to you and start talking and most guys will respond. We can send you a drink and it’s a novelty not a bad clich‚. Ironically, the problem with approaching guys is that half the time they don’t even clue in that you’re coming on to them. Sometimes it seems like unless you walk up to a guy pull your shirt up and say, “Me and my friends here would like to entertain you for the evening,” the guy will almost always think you’re making googly eyes at the guy behind him.

“We choose to maintain our innocence,” Tom, a shy 30-year-old web designer, cries in defence..

“Yeah, we’re just plain dumb,” his more honest friend Michael, a 29-year-old who does something to do with computers (don’t ask me to explain). “I’ve had women hit on me and I’m sure they’re just looking at me because I have snot in my nose.”

“I’m actually not very aggressive in the hunting department so I often end up with women who make it very clear that they want to be with me,” admits Nathan. “I’m not a big chaser so I like women who make it easier.”

And just how can women make it easier then?

“She can come up to me!” Nathan offers as enlightenment.

“She can do anything!” adds Michael.

Oh brother, we’re back on that are we? Give us something to work with here guys.

“Okay, bottom line. If a girl approaches you, she has to be able to talk,” says Martin.

“It’s probably based a little bit on the way she looks,” says Sandy, an honest 18-year-old high school lad. “But if she’s too good looking, I’m almost gonna be put off [read: intimidated]. Behaviour is more important.”

I am actually happy to report that while most of the guys I talked to said looks mattered, they also said a woman too concerned about her looks turns them off. As Tom put it, “If I find a woman is too concerned about her looks I’m wondering, what are her priorities.”

And even if she looks good, she has to have a sense of personal style. Guys seem to like that too. In other words girls, it’s not necessarily what you wear, but how you wear it. Or something like that. “I dunno… she has to project radiance,” a somewhat confused by the question Martin offers.

Hmmm….I can just imagine it. “My look at that woman radiating at me over there. She must want to be with me.” Anyway, before you girls throw your radiant, stylin’ selves at the first guy you fancy, some boys do have their limits. “I don’t like it when a woman presumes that I’m interested in her,” says John. “Or that just the fact that she’s interested in me is exciting to me.” In other words, guys want women to play it cool too, until a mutual interest has been established.

What can I say, women also get confused about what men want us to do. Because on one hand guys often say they’d love it if women took more initiative when it comes to making the first move, that it would take so much pressure off men. But at the same time we’ll still fighting with that old negative stereotype of the “sexually aggressive woman.” Everyone told us boys don’t like girls like “that type of girl.” It’s especially hard to get over when you come across 21-year-old guys who still buy into that. “I find it sort of repels me if a girl approaches me,” Sandy tells me. So as much as guys say they want us to make the first move, I get the sense that they’re not entirely at ease with it yet either.

Of course, if you’re the kind of girl who has no problem making the first move, you’re probably not going to waste your time on these kinds of guys. As Ann-Marie says, “When you let somebody lead you you attract someone who wants to lead. I like to decide what I want and go out and get it.”

And sometimes that means you just gotta apply that old schoolyard approach. “I met this woman a club,” retells George, a 31-year-old printshop clerk who looks like he goes to a lot of clubs. “I was dancing next to her, and then she bashes into me. It was this weird aggressive flirtation. We started dancing together, being pretty rough and then we started kissing and she bit my tongue. It was weird, I liked this girl but I had no idea what do do.”

Safe to say, tongue biting, while no doubt intriguing, might not be such a good approach. But there are plenty of ways to put the moves on him without using your teeth. “Touching me while we’re talking,” is just one example Nathan offers. “It lets me know for sure she’s interested.”

I imagine where she touches him shows him just how interested she is. Actually I’ve often wondered what would happen if you just walked up to a guy you fancied and grabbed his crotch. I know if the reverse were to happen, the guy would get slugged, if not arrested. I don’t know that she would get the same kind of violent reaction. Kinda reflects how men and women approach each other when you think about it.

Signs you’re in with a guy

How do you know you’ve got his full attention.

* He touches you.

* He’s attentive.

* If he asks you to save his spot while he goes pee.

* If he buys you a drink.

* He asks for your opinion.

* He includes you in conversations with his friends.

* If you bite his tongue and he continues to dance with you.

How to Pick up Girls (if you’re a girl) or boys (if you’re a boy)

Show up in a short skirt. I’m kidding.

Actually, you’d think gays and lesbians would have it easy when it comes to hitting on each other. They already have one thing in common _ their gender _ and they should know what works and what doesn’t for each other based on first-hand experience.

Yeah right. Gay people are just as complicated as straight people when it comes to cruising. And they come with their own set of rules. But since most of the people I talked to were straight, I hardly feel qualified to explain it all here. And besides, this is only a 200-page book.

Suffice it to say that I’ve had enough butch lesbians hit on me to realize they can be just as obnoxious as straight guys. Admittedly, it’s somehow less obnoxious or threatening coming from someone who you know gets her period just like you do. Of course, other lesbians are perfect ladies when they approach another woman.

They just show up at the bar with their U-Haul trailer and move in with the first woman who buys them a drink.

As for gay men, I can’t say I’ve ever had any hit on me so I’m not sure how obnoxious they can be. Some of the one-liners from gay men that I mentioned earlier seem to prove they can shell ’em out just like the straight boys. But I have been to plenty of gay bars and frankly I’ve always been a little jealous over the way gay men cut through all the crap. You catch each other’s eye, you go home, you fuck (safely, of course). Beautiful.

Of course, you still have to figure out afterwards if you want to go out on a date with the guy.

Sealing the Deal

Which brings us to that all important moment. Asking someone out on a date. You’ve exchanged glances, had some good conversation and brushed arm hairs. Now one of you actually has to ask the other person out.

This is the really scary bit.

“I was working with this woman and I thought she was really cool,” Nathan recalls. “I was getting to know her a little bit better _ she had a radio show and I’d listen to it so we’d have something to talk about. I finally asked her out, and she laughed at me. She said, ‘yer asking me out on a DATE?!’ She then proceeded to reach down, and pretended to masturbate, She said, ‘Why do I need you, I can do this myself.'”

Ouch! No wonder we’re scared to actually ask someone out.

And the fact that it is so anxiety provoking is probably the reason most of us are so eager to to seal the deal that we blow it by moving too fast. You know, you meet someone, things have been going swimmingly, all the signs are there, you figure you’re in and you go for it. You invite them to your cousin’s bar mitzvah right then and there. Sometimes it’s better not to push it right away. He or she might not be ready to move so quickly. As much as you feel like this could be your last chance on earth to ask this person out, sometimes it’s more effective to casually confirm your interest and say good-bye. This allows both parties to go off and reflect and make sure they are really interested. I know, it may give him or her time to decide they are not interested but chances are they will appreciate the space and add it to their lists of pros about you. It can also build a little anticipation.

Here’s what you do. You simply and politely say, “It was nice meeting you, I’d love to talk to you again.” Or, if you’ve been talking about a common interest, like I don’t know, cycling let’s say, suggest that maybe you should go cycling together sometime. Let him suggest how this might happen. If he’s doing sommersaults across the bar looking for a pen to write down his number for you, you know you’re probably gonna see each other again.

A word on exchanging numbers. In this day and age, most women are hesitant to give out their number. Offer her your number, guys. It’s better than having her make up a phone number. I know, I know, she never calls when you give her your number. There’s a reason for this. Trust me, if she likes you she’ll call.

Some of us are less patient.

“I don’t like to do the whole phone number exchange thing,” says John. “I’ll try to set something up right then and there, as opposed to saying ‘let’s call each other.’ I just find that often amounts to nothing.”

But he admits, this doesn’t always get results either. “People are funny,” John continues. “Even though she might be interested, women seem to want to say ‘Well call me sometime and we’ll talk about it.'”

Like I said, we like some time to consider.

If you truly feel you must set up a date on the spot, make it something casual. Again, no bar mitzvahs right off the bat.

And don’t be too insistent, it’s a turn-off. No one should have to be convinced to go out with you. It’s pathetic. If you ask someon out and the person says no, that does not mean No, he or she will not go out with you that night but perhaps another night.

A friend of mine said he would ask a girl three times before he would give up.This is not baseball. Once is enough. If he or she really can’t make it for the specific date you are proposing, they’ll let you know. “I’d love to but I can’t. How about next week?” for example.

If she tells you how busy she is this weekend and you say, “Sounds like you’re busy,” and she says “Yeah, but next weekend I’m totally free,” that’s your cue. If she says, “Actually, I’m busy every weekend for the next ten years,” it’s probably a good idea to drop it.

If and when you do ask him or her out, you might want to consider a weeknight as a first date night. First of all, people do often already have plans for the weekend. Also, most of us are too busy to give up a precious weekend night for something that might turn out to be a dud. It also avoids the image that you have nothing to do with your weekend and by extension have no life.

It also implies casual. That, “Let’s get together and do something sometime,” feeling.”No big deal. Just a chance to hang out. No pressure.

But by all means, if you’re being asked out and are interested, don’t hestitate. “I’d love to go out with you” is all it takes and you’re in.

Who asks Whom?

“Girls are always saying they want equal rights, but no way are they going to ask a guy out,” complains Sean, a bitter 19-year-old dating veteran. “But then if you ask a girl out and she’s not interested, you’re a jerk.”

Rough eh? I know we like to think men and women are now equal in the “who asks who” department, but quite honestly, I know we’re still not. And it’s one thing if you live in the city, but it you’re out in the boonies, where I’m originally from, or if you’re from a more traditional cultural background, things are still very much, “boy asks girl.”

Like I said earlier, part of the problem is that some men still aren’t entirely comfortable with woman taking the lead.

“Men will say they find it flattering if a women approaches them. But when it comes to the relationship stage they say things like, ‘This doesn’t really count because you came on to me,'” complains 24-year-old Julia, a waitress who is speaking from experience. “They find your assertiveness sexy at first but then suddenly you’re ‘pushy’ if you continue to take charge.”

Maybe that’s why, as Mark offers, “Woman may ask you out but rather than come right out and ask you out on a date, she’ll ask you out in more casual and subtle terms, so it’s not so obvious.”

Something along the lines of say, “I’m going to this concert on Saturday and I just happen to have this extra ticket and every single one of my friends just happens to be out of town this weekend so if you want to go, you’re welcome to the ticket.”

Or we get sneaky about it. Since some women still aren’t always completely comfortable coming right out and asking and we know guys aren’t always comfy with us doing the asking, we’ll will set everything up but let him do the asking. “Oh you’re going to that concert. Really. I love that band. Too bad I’ll be stuck at home that day doing nothing because all my friends are out of town.” Then lo and behold, he invites us.

She gets her date but he gets to take credit for asking her out.

Apparently, this latter scenario happens quite a lot. According to Leil Lowndes, author of How To Make Someone Fall In Love With You, two-thirds of all marriages result from women having made the first move or gesture when the couple met. Even though if you ask the men in the couple, they’ll say they did.

In other words, even if she hits him over the head with a two-by-four and drag him out on a date by the short and curlies, thanks to the male ego, he will take credit for picking you up.

When All Else Fails….There’s Always that Old “Sticky Eyes” Routine

There are about 40 of us crammed into a room at a downtown Toronto hotel at a seminar called How to Make Anyone Fall in Love With You. Our host is Leil Lowndes, author of the bestselling book by the same.

“There are three cheap tricks to make someone fall in love with you — to make the spark happen — and they all happen with that first impression,” she tells us.

Forty sets of ears prick up in anticipation. “Please, tell me the secret,” their expressions scream.

For men, Lowndes announces, “Trick number one: Sticky eyes.”

Women love to be looked at by a man she likes, Lowndes theory goes, so if you keep your eyes tranfixed on her you’ll get her Phenylethylamine (the drug that pumps through our nervous system and blood stream when we start to fall in love) flowing.

But if you really want to make an impression, our leader continues, give her the old “epoxy eyes,” or the “super sticky eyes,” if you prefer.

To do this, you’re supposed to keep your eyes on her even when she’s talking to someone else. So while she’s turned to her friend to tell her about this creepy guy who won’t stop gawking at her, you keep gawking at her to watch her reactions, to make her feel like you’re really interested in her.

For the ladies, she recommends “the visual voyage.” To do this, let your eyes travel down his torso, (no need to travel below the belt), then look him in the eye and give him a nod and a smile — the big seal of approval — and watch his chest inflate.

One participant wants to know if these techniques are guaranteed to work even for someone who’s shy. Guaranteed!? Is he serious?

The bottom line, responds our host is that “you can’t make someone fall in love with you if they aren’t attracted to you.”

Just a minor detail.

Next she calls up man who fancies himself quite a pick-up artist (I suppose that’s why he’d paid $40 to attend a seminar on how to pick someone up), and stages a pick-up. She tells him to choose a woman in the room he’d like to pick up. Big surprise, he selects the blondest, buxomest, biggest lipped woman in the room. Then he walks right up to her and suavely asks, “You here by yourself.”

Ooohh… big thumbs down there, buddy. Walking right up to someone and saying something usually isn’t gonna work, tsks tsks our host. “It’s how you approach, not what you say,” she advises.

According to the Lowndes, the sequence should go like this: catch her eye and smile, she’ll look away “cause that’s what women do.” If she looks up within 45 seconds (apparently they’ve studied this), you’re in, smile again, she’ll look away again. Now you can approach her.

And what should the girls do to get him on board? She calls up one very brave woman to demonstrate. “Brush your hair back to expose your neck and look up at him through your batting eyelashes,” was the instruction.

The woman actually did it. She’s good, if she were auditioning for a bad porn video. Obviously the woman agrees, especially after Lowndes makes her practice the next seduction tactic. Applying your lipstick and then licking your lips while the object of your affection looks on. “That’s perverted,” the woman protests. It was a little embarassing.

Another technique Lowndes describes is the mirroring technique, where you do everything the person you’re interested does. This is how my brothers used to drive me crazy when I was young.

During the break, men are instructed to practice their sticky eyes and women to practice the visual voyage.

Instead most people have their eyes stuck on the extensive list of books and tapes Lowndes has for sale. The few who do meet and talk separate themselves into groups of men or women only.

My desire to flee before anyone gets their sticky eyes on me is overpowered by my desire to know know why these people had paid 40 bucks each to pack themselves into a hotel room on a Friday night in downtown Toronto in order to learn how to lick their lips seductively.

When I casually inquire of some of the guys whether they found it hard to meet women, they all say it isn’t hard for them to meet or date people (uhhh, right that’s why they were here).

“It’s meeting the right people and knowing what to do” that presents the problem one guy says. The lip licker tells me she’s there with a friend who wanted to come. Yeah, right.

Obviously, no one is about to announce, “I’m a loser who can’t meet people and have to come to a seminar to teach me how to perform what is supposed to be a completely natural human act.”

It’s a little disheartening, somehow. This was a nice bunch. Why are they having such a hard time? I thought.

But I also can’t help feel that this issn’t helping. Having someone imply that all you have to do to make someone fall in love with you is to learn how to stare at someone or eyeball their torso just right seemed a little unfair. Did these people really think that these techniques would help. I imagined them venturing out into the world sticky eyeing perfect strangers or taking visual voyages down their chests and feeling even more like losers because it still wasn’t getting them a date. That is, if they didn’t get slugged first.