So, you’ve met someone on an online dating app and you’re hitting it off. Conversation is natural, you’re attracted to him or her, and you want to get to know them better. It’s time to initiate that first date. But in a world of hanging out and hooking up, you may be wondering how exactly you should go about asking someone out.
Chances are, you’re battling some nerves as you get ready to ask someone to spend time with you intentionally. But asking someone out doesn’t have to be stressful or anxiety-ridden.
If you’re getting ready to ask someone out on a first date, here are four tips from dating experts to help your chances for success.
1. Avoid the pickup lines
Forget everything you learned from romantic comedies about asking someone out on a date. Sure, the cheesy pickup lines you’ve seen in the movies can leave you smiling, but if you want to be successful in your first date ask, leave those pickup lines to Hollywood. “Don’t use lines, for example, ‘Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk by again?’ Lines are transparently canned and appear techniquey,” Dr. Marty Nemko, a career and personal coach, advises.
So how should you open a conversation where you hope to ask someone out on that first date? Dr. Nemko recommends leading with what he calls an environmental comment.”Say something about your immediate environment. For example, if you’re standing in front of a bookstore’s psychology section, you might say, ‘Quite a collection they have here.’ If you’re in a Trader Joe’s line and you see something intriguing in the person’s shopping cart, you might say, ‘I’ve been curious to try the Kouigg Amann. Have you had it before?'”
2. Don’t assume the odds are stacked against you
In 2010, researchers Hald and Høgh-Olesen investigated how likely an individual was to say yes to a variety of dating requests. Their research assistants were asked to introduce themselves to a stranger of the opposite sex in public and say, “Hi, I am so sorry to disturb you like this, but I’ve been noticing you around and I find you very attractive.” Then, the research assistant would make a request. They might ask the person out on a date, or see if they would want to come over to their place.
When the researchers removed individuals who were already in a relationship from the count, they found that 68% of men and 43% of women agreed to going out on a date. So what does this mean for you if you’re trying to figure out the when and how of asking someone out?
“A person of average attractiveness, using a pretty bland introduction and approach, had about a 50/50 chance of getting a ‘yes’ response to a date request from a complete stranger (who was single). Let that sink in for a minute. That is probably a lot better odds than you were originally thinking,” explains Dr. Jeremy Nicholson, a doctor of social and personality psychology with a focus on influence, persuasion, and dating.
“Overall then, the message is simple. Ask, ask, ask! If you want a date, then ask for it! If you want some company, ask for it! You have a pretty good chance of getting it.”
3. Get curious about the person you’re interested in
Are your palms getting sweaty and your heart rate skyrocketing? Don’t let anxiety and nervousness stop you from asking someone out on a date. First, remember that everyone gets nervous and wants to make a good impression. That’s normal!
So how can you beat those feelings of nervousness? Get curious about the person who you want to take out on a date.
“If you are feeling anxious in a social situation, you might want to try being a bit more curious,” Dr. Nicholson recommends. “Really listen to what your potential partners or dates are saying. Listen to their words, notice their body language, smiles, and eye contact. Stay ‘outside’ of yourself, ignore your internal reactions, and focus on them. Don’t get stuck on your own thoughts, concerns, or opinions. Try to remember what they just said they liked, thought, felt, etc.”
4. Take a cue from the traffic light
“If you tend to be long-winded, consider using the traffic-light rule,” recommends Dr. Nemko. “During the first thirty seconds of an utterance, your light is green. In the second thirty seconds, it’s yellow: the person may start to think you’re long-winded or has something they’d like to say in response. At the sixty second mark, your light turns red. Yes, occasionally you want to ‘run a red light,’ for example, if telling an interesting story, but generally you want to stop, perhaps asking a question.”
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Did you use any of these expert tips to ask someone out on a date? Let us know how it went in the comments below!