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You’ve spotted him. He’s the one you want and there’s no denying it. What do you do–stand coyly by and hope he notices you, chooses you, initiates? You can. But the women with a little hustle are going to beat you to it. I will beat you to it.

I’m not telling you you have to “pick up” a guy the way a guy would pick up a lady. For many of us, it feels unnatural. (Of course some of you love it, and that’s ok too–for me, it depends on the situation and the mood I’m in.)

I’m all for bucking the rules, but quite often, the aggressive-girl mode just doesn’t work (and again, it depends on the guy). Coming at someone, full-throttle, in an “I demand your attention” kind of way, or worse, “Impress me, you douchebag” can be a major turn off. You may get attention, but it won’t be sustainable. Unless you find a man who wants you to run the show. But it gets old. Fast. And he’ll eventually resent you for it anyway.

And after all, you want someone to choose you–even if you’ve already picked him out of the crowd.

But the opposite of picking up is not standing there weeping in a corner or staring at the wall. The answer is to create the conditions for you to connect, not by hitting on him, but by happening to him.

This allows you to be in control, and at the same time let him choose you…by making it easy to do. That’s all you’re doing really: facilitating a connection.

How to Happen To Someone

So here’s my strategy for happening to someone you want to meet. And it has been field tested, multiple times. This doesn’t guarantee a connection, of course. But it sets the wheels in motion so you can find out, rather than go home wondering if it could have. It’s not rocket science, but it doesn’t have to be. It just has to get you talking.

Ready? Go.

Make eye contact from wherever you are and let a smile spread slowly across your face, says Richard Wiseman (his book, 59 Seconds). Smile big, I say, show teeth. Crinkle your eyes. Mean it. Then look away. Don’t do a creepy staring contest while smiling. If you cannot make eye contact from across the room, proceed to the next step. This first step is not essential for the rest of this to work.

Get within striking distance. Work your way into his immediate vicinity. Don’t just do a drive by. That doesn’t do anything. Plant yourself close. I once wedged my way through a thick crowd to get right in front of a man I had my eye on, but kept my back to him, as if I was just passing through. You pretend you got there by accident. Call it synchronicity.

Activate the oblique approach. Just as you don’t want to barrel up to someone like a runaway train, you make your entry into his atmosphere a subtle one. Turn toward him a little, look in his general direction, look around him, maybe start talking to someone he’s standing with. Then, catch his eye, smile, and then…

Say something. It can just be a hello, as if you’ve just discovered him there. Or you can introduce yourself–extend a hand. He won’t turn it down. And then you’ve hit two birds because you’ve established contact and made physical contact (which is two jumps ahead). Ask a question (“Is that the 5? How do you like it?”). I wedged myself into a tight little knot of people at an overcrowded event once to get close to this gorgeous man. It was one of these tiered events with velvet ropes separating one group of wannabes from another, and I played dumb. Ok, not dumb. Uninformed. “Do you guys know if this is a private party area? Am I barging in on your private party?” To which he said, “No, not at all!” Bang.

Engage. Open up and draw in his attention by being interested in him. Which is easy, because you are. Wide-eyed, smiling–there’s a reason these things work. I can be a smart-ass bitch, but you better believe when I’m meeting a guy for the first time, I turn the snark dial way down, and turn up the soft, open, easy charm. Laugh at his jokes, ask genuinely interested questions, all that. It works. I actually like myself better that way. It’s not fake–it’s a softer version of you. You’re making it safe for him to connect with you.

Make actual contact. If you didn’t shake hands, and you’ve been chatting, find a reason to touch him. Maybe it’s a light touch on the upper arm as you punctuate a point or a playful, flirty brush of his arm or chest when he makes a joke. This. Is. Key. And notice if he finds reason to touch you, which, when it happens, is a sign that things are going well. Very well.

Back off. So you’re talking, laughing, having a nice back and forth. Now leave. Not forever. Just for now. This is the hard part, because everything in you is telling you to plant a flag and stake him out as yours for the rest of the night. But in fact what you must do is reintroduce some space and distance. This is a page right out of Neil Strauss’s book, The Game. In fact, a lot of the players’ rules apply. Because they create some delicious tension.

Anyway, don’t wait til he’s looking around the room distractedly to say, “Well, I think I’m gonna go now.” Lame. Say, “It’s so nice talking to you, but I don’t want to keep you from your friends.” Or, “OK, I feel I’ve kept you to myself for long enough–I should let you go.” You’ve shown him how lovely you are, now he needs to know that demand may exceed supply; you’re a rare commodity. Demonstrate it. Get a drink, go to the ladies’, whatever. Or…

Let him convince you to stay.  Maybe he’ll insist on buying you a drink, or tell you his friends are boneheads and he’d rather talk to you. You can submit to this request, hesitantly, and accept his offer. The key here is that you’ve given him the chance to do the choosing–and this puts him in control, where he feels most confident. And you get to be chosen, even though you made all of this happen. Let him know he’s changed your mind. Now he thinks he won. You win.

You should, if at all possible, be the one to leave first (but whatever if this isn’t the case) and tell him, honestly, “I’ve really enjoyed talking to you.” If he’s into it, this is his chance to ask for your contact info. And then you have his (“Oh let me text you so you have mine”–ah technology!). Let the text flirting begin.

I told you it wasn’t rocket science. Just fucking do it. You want things to happen, make them happen–by happening to someone near you.