The Gentle Art of Pickup (Not for Men Only) Biologists, as they watch animals spotting each other, sniffing, growling, hissing, nuzzling, and finally copulating, observe the same courtship rituals over and over. The identical patterns of proceptivity and aggression repeat themselves time and time again. If the pattern is broken, often copulation does not take place. It is no different with Homo sapiens (that's us), but we operate with a serious handicap. Unlike those of lower animals, our brains get in the way of our instincts. In other words, we think too much. We ask ourselves, and others around us, too many questions. "Will he think I'm forward? Should I play hard to get? Do I look alright? Is my tie straight? Maybe I should go to the ladies' room and put on some more lipstick first." Shyness often takes over and paralyzes us, like a deer frozen in car headlights. Rabbits have no such reflections. Nor should we, when we spot our Quarry. We must merely follow what research tells us are the right moves when we spot him or her.
Hunters, Make the First Move . . . Fast Gentlemen, what are the right moves when you spot a woman you think you'd like to make part of your future? No argument here. You must approach, and you must do it fast. The old chestnut "He who hesitates is lost" is a rock-hard nut in the singles' jungle. Once a male buddy (a PMF , or platonic male friend, as we called nonromantic male friends in high school) and I were dining at a restaurant. My PMF , Phil, spotted a strikingly beautiful woman sitting alone at the bar behind him. He turned back to me and announced, "That's the woman I'm going to marry!" "Congratulations. So how do you intend to go about meeting her?" I challenged. "Let's see," he mused. "Perhaps I'll just go up to her and say hello. No," he decided. "That's too mundane for my future bride. Maybe I'll go offer to buy her a drink. No, that's too trite. Possibly,'' he joked, "I'll go tell her I'm passionately in love with her. No, that's too forward. Shall I tell her I want to make her the mother of my children? No, that's premature." While Phil was bantering on about his approach, I watched over his shoulder as a good-looking man marched right up to Phil's intended and sat on the empty stool next to her. By the time my friend turned around, the newcomer and Phil's never-to-be bride were in deep conversation. "Love at first sight" became Phil's "loss at first sight." As it usually does for a Hunter who hesitates. When you spot an attractive lady, what's the best strategy? Let your body do the talking. First, use your eyes. Look at her and hold your eye contact for a few extra seconds. Be prepared for her to look away. A woman has been trained to lower her eyes whena man looks at her. This does not mean she is not interested. An analysis of flirtation patterns tells us if, after looking away, the woman looks up again within 45 seconds, she welcomes your attention. Gentlemen, set your chronograph. As she coyly feigns interest in something else in the room, clock how long it takes for her to glance back at you. If it's within 45 seconds, proceed as follows. Smile at her and give her a little nod. Think of it as making a reservation for a table at an exclusive restaurant. When you've signaled a woman's attention, you've made your reservation to talk with her. Abolish all thoughts of "What will she think of me if I'm too forward or move too fast?" She won't think anything of you—good or bad—if you don't meet her. If you don't move fast, every woman will be the one that got away. TECHNIQUE #7 (FOR HUNTERS): MOVE FAST "Move fast" doesn't mean making a beeline for your Quarry and jumping her bones. It simply means immediately making your presence known by signaling your interest. Here's the best proved method. Make eye contact. Maintain steady eye contact with her and hold it just a tad too long. Smile at her. Make sure your smile is friendly and respectful, not a leering grin or a salacious smirk. Give her a nod. If she returns your gaze within the decisive 45 seconds, nod slightly. The nod reads, "I like you. May I make a reservation to talk with you?" Move within her range. The final step is to move close enough to her to talk. You are now in position for conversation. What should you first say to her? Abolish the words opening line from your thoughts. Generic lines come across just like that—lines. After my love seminars, many a shy Hunter has asked me, "What's a good opening line?" I find it charming that men ponder such dilemmas. Once an extremely shy chap attending my seminar pulled a dog-eared book out of his pocket called How to Pick up Girls. Apparently he wasn't the first to seek such guidance. The book is twenty-five years old and has sold over two million copies, primarily through advertising in men's magazines. It suggests antique gems like, "Don't tell me a beautiful girl like you doesn't have a date tonight" and "Are you a model?" This scintillating repartee may have worked when Dad met Mom, but in our more enlightened times, women abhor lines. Far more significant than what you say is how you look and how you say whatever you say. Gentlemen, your opening words should relate to the woman or the current situation. Ask her what time it is. Compliment her watch or her outfit. Ask her for directions. Inquire how she knows the host or hostess of the party. In fact, the less clever your opener, the better, because this early in your relationship, she's not metabolizing your words—she's checking you out. Her brain is hard at work sizing you up on your manner and your words. Whatever you say, she knows it's just an excuse for you to talk to her. If she likes you, that's fine with her. Although you should not memorize any line, do pay attention to the first words which flow from your lips. Just as the first glimpse of you should please your Quarry's eyes, so should your first words delight her ears. Remember, that first sentence to your Quarry is 100 percent of her sampling of you so far. If you open with a complaint, in her book you'll be a complainer. If you open with a conceited remark, she'll label you a braggart. But if your first words charm her, she'll find you charming. Gentlemen, you may be wondering why you have to play it cool. Why do you have to be so subtle, controlled, and precise in your approach? It all goes back to nature. Buried deep in a woman's instincts, when she looks at you, is a subconscious judgment of you as a possible partner. She wants to feel you are captivated by her. But she also wants to know that you cancontrol your animal passion, thus demonstrating what a suave and effective partner you would be in life. Huntresses, Make the Fast Move . . . First Huntresses, you may think the responsibility for the pickup rests on the man's shoulders. Surprisingly enough, though, research shows that women initiate two-thirds of all encounters. This, too, is part of nature's grand design. In the animal kingdom, wannabe-lovers attract each other by hooting, crowing, or stomping the ground. They are more overt than Homo sapiens are. A female chimpanzee in heat will spot her Quarry, "stroll up to the male, and tip her buttocks toward his nose to get his attention. Then she'll actually pull him up to his feet to copulate." 20 This behavior is known as female proceptivity. Female proceptivity (as opposed to receptivity) is not unknown to our species, although we are, I should hope, a little less obvious. How do women initiate encounters? The same way kids do. The same way the birds, the bees, and all the wonderful animals in God's kingdom do: with an attention-getting device. Ladies, let's say you behold Mr. Handsome Stranger dancing at the disco, seated across the table from you at the Senior Center, or huffing and puffing on the next StairMaster at the gym. What should you do? The usual scenario goes something like this. Uponspotting him, a woman locks eyes with him for a split second and then glances away. More courageous women flash a little smile and then look away, hoping that he will then take the initiative (after all, she doesn't want to appear forward). As fifty thousand tiny seeds blow from a flower and only one takes root, your chances at love might as well be one in fifty thousand with Mr. Handsome Stranger if this is your entire attack. You must do more than just flash a little smile and leave the rest to nature.
First Moves That Work for Women Let's look at the studies and see what works. A researcher named Monica Moore heard that women made two-thirds of the approaches and wanted to find out exactly how they did so. She set up a study where she observed more than two hundred women at a party and recorded what are scientifically known as their nonverbal solicitation signals. Here, in descending order, are the results of Monica Moore's findings. The number following each move is the number of times Moore saw it work successfully during the experiment. 21 Need I spell it out? Huntresses, these are the moves that make a man come over and talk to you at a party. HOW WOMEN SUCCESSFULLY MAKE THE FIRST MOVE Smile at him broadly 511 Throw him a short, darting glance 253 Dance alone to the music 253 Look straight at him and flip your hair 139 Keep a fixed gaze on him 117 Look at him, toss your head, then look back 102 "Accidentally" brush up against him 96 Nod your head at him 66 Point to a chair and invite him to sit 62 Tilt your head and touch your exposed neck 58 Lick your lips during eye contact 48 Primp while keeping eye contact with him 46 Parade close to him withexaggerated hip movement 41 Parade close to him withexaggerated hip movement 41 Ask for his help with something 34 Tap something to get his attention 8 Pat his buttocks (My note: not advised!) 8 Sisters, do not be hesitant about making the first move. If you need more courage, think of it this way. Female choice is an evolutionary mandate given to a woman so she may select the best mate and thus assure the survival of the species. You are merely fulfilling your instinctive destiny when you overtly lure Mr. Handsome Stranger. Mother Nature would approve. Still shy? Do you feel he'll think you are too forward if you smile broadly at him in the crowd or "accidentally" brush up against him? He won't, because, happily, the male ego takes over . . . retroactively. Ten minutes later, he won't even realize that he was not the one who made the initial overture. Researcher Moore said that men think they are making the first move when they are actually responding to women's nonverbal overtures. I decided to add my own research to Monica Moore's established findings when I was dining alone recently at one of the ubiquitous TGIF restaurants in Albany, New York. I was giving a talk the following morning to a singles' group, so as I was finishing dinner, I was running the next day's seminar program over in my mind. In my talk, I planned a segment on the "smile," in which I would tell women how important it is to smile at an attractive man. I thought to myself, "Leil, you hypocrite. Tomorrow morning you'll be telling women to have the courage to smile at strangers, and you don't even have the nerve to do it yourself." While ruminating over this, I spotted a good-looking man reading while finishing his dinner a few tables from me. I thought, "OK, Leil, courage. Let's try it." So I smiled at this handsome stranger. The poor chap looked a little stunned and dove his astonished nose back into his book. Soon after, he looked up again. I smiled again. Once more his nose disappeared in his reading material. A few minutes later, the handsome stranger got up and walked past my table to go to the men's room. As he passed, I forced myself to smile yet again. The perplexed fellow kept on walking, scratching his head. Then things got interesting. On the way back from the men's room, he walked very slowly by my table. Once more I looked up at him and—you guessed it—smiled. Mr. Handsome Stranger stopped walking. After the flood of smiles I'd drowned him in, it was perfectly logical to start chatting as if we had been formally introduced. He joined me at my table for coffee. Well, I invited this gentleman—his name was Sam—to attend my seminar the next morning, which he did. To illustrate the "smile" part of my seminar, I told the audience the story (without revealing Sam's identity, of course) of how my smile had engineered a meeting with the lone diner. After the seminar, Sam said, "You know, Leil, I suppose you were talking about me in that little story you told. But," he added, looking thoroughly confused and quite sincere, "I thought it was I who made the approach to you." Sure, Sam. I tell you, Sisters, the male ego is a wondrous thing. Have the courage to smile broadly, nod, point to a chair, and invite him to sit—or choose almost any of Monica Moore's maneuvers—and he will forget that he didn't make the first approach. TECHNIQUE #8 (FOR HUNTRESSES): MOVE FIRST Huntresses, when you spot a possible Quarry, do not wait for his approach. Nature decrees that you must make the first move. Use any of the proved ploys. It's as close to jabbing his buttocks with a syringe filled with PEA as you can get.