You see her across the way–she might even be looking your way. Maybe you even make eye contact. She may even smile at you. But for some reason, you still can’t muster up the courage to go over to her and introduce yourself–heck, do anything.
Believe it or not, we’ve all been there. Approach anxiety, the fear of approaching women, is one of the most, if not the most common issues men have when it comes to dating. There are several reasons why this condition is so common:
- Fear of rejection — No one likes to get rejected. As a matter of fact, most people dislike it so intensely that they will avoid an interaction just to avoid the potential for rejection
- Evolution — Since the “caveman days” up to not so long ago (and still, in some places) if you approached the wrong woman, your life could be at stake. This fear is ingrained in us men at a subconscious level, even though nowadays in most parts of the world, the risk of going up to a woman to say hi is quite low.
Every other excuse in the book usually boils down to one of those two. For example, “I don’t know what I would say”. How about “Hi”? “She’s not really my type.” Also, usually just an excuse.
No matter. In this article we’re going to show you how to overcome your approach anxiety through the use of eight exercises each of progressing levels of difficulty. Once you can conquer all eight of these on a consistent basis, you should feel much more confident approaching the women you’re interested in. Not only will you approach, you’ll also do so with confidence, which will get the whole interaction started on the right foot.
1. Maintain Eye Contact
The first step is a small one. Simply work on maintaining eye contact. Not just with women you’re interested in, but with every woman. You can even try it with men too, if you have issues maintaining eye contact with people in general. You don’t need to overdo it in this first step, the goal is just to “not shy away”. That’s it. If she looks at you, whoever she may be, don’t immediately look away. That’s all there is to the first exercise.
2. Make Eye Contact
Once you’re comfortable not diverting your gaze away the second your eyes cross path with those of another woman, take it a step further and make deliberate eye contact. Again, not just with women you’re interested in–that might be hard at this stage. Start small–family members, service industry workers like baristas or bartenders, or even just a random person you’re crossing paths with on the street. You don’t have to make eye contact for long–even a split second is fine in this stage. The key is taking deliberate action. Don’t worry about coming off as a creep–of people with approach anxiety, their issue is almost always too little eye contact, rarely ever is it too much eye contact.
If you can maintain eye contact, and you can make eye contact, the next step is to smile. Doesn’t have to be a big goofy clown smile–even the slightest curl of the lips should suffice. As usual with these steps, it doesn’t have to be with someone you like, it can be with anyone–barista, random passerby on the street or your aunt. You don’t have to say anything at this stage, you just want to get into the habit of reacting positively and taking basically any action in response to the presence of women. Once you’ve mastered this stage, we start actually using our words.
4. Say “Hi”
There’s a chance you may already be doing this in certain situations, like the bartender or the waiter at a restaurant. If so, great! If not, then start. No need to say anything else. Just “Hi” at this stage, and again, not to women you like necessarily, to any women–barista, bartender, waiter, woman walking down the street passing you by. The last example might seem intimidating but it really shouldn’t be. You’re walking opposite each other, you aren’t stopping, and neither is she–you’ll intersect for about a second at most, nothing bad will happen, we promise.
At this stage, the goal is to be able to make eye contact, smile, and say “hi” to women you have no vested interest in. You should ideally be comfortable with that, including to the “random passerby” before moving onto the next steps.
If you struggle to get comfortable with these steps, keep practicing them. Try putting yourself in situations where you have more opportunity to practice them. For example, at the supermarket, make eye contact, smile, and say “hi” to one random person who passes by you. (Don’t do it to everyone because that’s just weird.)
5. Make small talk with “easy targets”
By easy target, we mean someone who is easy to talk to. The prime example would be a bartender or other person in the service industry. It is their job to engage customers so you would not be out of the ordinary and the odds of your interaction being rebuffed is extremely low (and even if it does happen, it would be done in a nice way). Start with very simple small talk–just one extra question. For example, instead of “Hi” in step 4, go with “Hey, how’s your day been?”. You can also try this in other settings, social gatherings with friends, for example. Don’t worry about this step on a complete stranger just yet, but if you can master this with “easy targets” then you’re well on your way to conquering approach anxiety.
6. Eye contact and smile with women you’re interested in
Now you’re ready to finally ready to start engaging women you’re interested in with confidence. If you aren’t immediately ready to just approach at this stage, take the final intermediate step to an approach: eye contact and smile. You’ve already worked on this in earlier exercises, so the mechanics should be familiar and the feeling should be familiar. Also, you should already know that nothing bad is going to happen from your experiences in steps 1 – 3. Now it’s time for you to find out that if the woman on the other side is one you’re interested in, the outcome isn’t going to be any different! She won’t give you the finger just because you are attracted to her. She’s going to respond the same way the passerby does, most likely by smiling back.
7. Proximity Practice
One element we haven’t had a prep exercise for yet is proximity. Approaching involves two main components: communication (verbal or non-verbal, such as eye contact and smiling) and proximity–you’ve got to actually physically approach her. The final exercise before you actually approach and start a conversation is to practice getting close to her.
For this step, depending on the venue, find an “excuse” to walk near her–whether to a less crowded entry to the bar to order a drink, or to the bathroom, or maybe to go outside to get some air. Now, go to that location and make sure you walk by her. If you are up for it, make eye contact and smile as you pass her. You don’t have to say anything in this exercise–you just have to get comfortable physically approaching. You’ve already worked on eye contact, smiling, and saying hi + asking a simple question (which is pretty much all you need to start a conversation). Now you’re working on literally approaching her.
8. Go up to her and say “Hi”
The final step is practicing an actual approach. If you’ve done the other exercises in this series, by the time you get to this point, you’ve already had experience doing everything you need to do, you just haven’t combined step 7 with 1 through 6. Now is the time to do so. Walk up to her, make eye contact, smile, and simply say “Hi”. If she responds with pretty much anything other than ‘F off’, you’ve approached. What you do from here, once the conversation has begun, we’ll cover in a later article.