The Do’s and Don’ts of Approaching Guys in Bars

February 28, 2011

Today we’ve got a guest post 2-for-1 deal that I think you’ll enjoy, giving two perspectives on how women can most effectively meet a guy in a bar.

I’ll repeat my usual caveat when it comes to this topic. It’s possible though not very likely that you’ll begin a relationship in a bar. However, it’s a very popular way for people in their 20s and 30s to get together with friends, so you might as well make the most of any opportunity that pops up. In general, the best way for you to allocate your time seeking a relationship looks like this:

10% Bars and other crowded venues with friends

10% Online dating

80% Other

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to the posts. First up: Cali Bradshaw. Cali writes the blog Sex and the Twenties. I like her writing – she’s honest, smart and perceptive.

How NOT to Approach a Guy in a Bar

You know, I’m always hearing that guys like girls who come up to them and initiate conversation. Supposedly they are nervous, and they appreciate a woman who makes the first move. I am calling bullshit on that one. Very, very rarely have I seen making the first move be an effective strategy, but perhaps I’m just doing it wrong. Since I have yet to come up with a subtle, classy and sure-fire way to go up to a guy, I have compiled a list of ways not to do it.

Ladies, here is how not to approach a guy in a bar:

1. Hit him – I get a bit feisty after a long night, and from time to time, I seem to think hitting is appropriate behavior. On occasion, when I’ve seen a cute guy, I’ve given him what I considered a love pat (but what actually resembled a smack). Please note ladies, hitting him will get his attention — as well as his annoyance.

2. Ask him about his drink and or straw – Ok yea, so this is scraping the bottom of the barrel, but sometimes it’s the only thing I can come up with and hey, we are in a bar. Sadly, this never results in a stimulating conversation and it is extra awkward if what he is drinking is water.

3. Give him a high five – Why is this not an effective strategy? It’s like, “oh heyyyy how’s it going?! High five!” Often, the high five is returned, but as he keeps right on walking.

4. Asking him to take a photo – Confession, I have tried this one a lot. In theory, it’s a great idea. As he looks through the lens he’ll notice your pretty little smile and he’ll just HAVE to know more about you. But in reality, most guys just seem to be annoyed that you are yet another girl, taking a picture in a bar.

5. Send a friend to go talk to him – We all have those confident, “in-a-relationship” girlfriends who have absolutely no qualms about approaching a guy in a bar. And why would they? If they get rejected, they still have a warm body to go home to. While these fabulous friends may appear to be a natural solution to our nerves, this plan generally fails. I find that our “in-a- relationship” friends often use this time to validate that they’ve still got it, and occasionally, forget that they are supposed to be talking you up.

6. Mistake his identity – You know what’s awkward? Going up to a guy you think you’ve met before and chatting him up, only to discover he is definitely not the person you thought. Bonus points if the person you thought he was is his brother — especially if you’ve dated them both. Not that I’ve done that or anything…

7. Ignore them/Don’t approach them at all – This one is usually my plan of action. It goes a little something like this, “Wow check out that cute guy. Maybe if I pay him absolutely no attention and just stand here looking pretty, he’ll come up and introduce himself.” WRONG. Usually one of two things happens. He either A. leaves the bar, sad that no cute girls came up to talk to him. Or B. leaves the bar with a skanky looking girl. Le sigh.

In truth, there really is no easy way to chat up an attractive man in a bar. Even a well executed plan can go south when you notice the wedding ring on his hand 30 mins into the conversation. LAME. But if  there is one tactic that I have found to have at least a semi-decent success rate, it would be what I like to call the “prolonged eye contact.” Sometimes guys just need to “catch you” looking at them to get the courage to come say hey. So next time you see a cutie at a bar, avoid the 7 awesome ideas I listed above and instead try a couple of quick looks, and if you are really daring, maybe even a smile. If nothing else, it should definitely  get you farther than hitting.


Now meet Single City Guy. He writes about dating in NYC from the male perspective. He’s a believer in women approaching, and he wrote a great post building on Cali’s thoughts.

How to Approach Guys in a Bar

Approaching men at a bar, really isn’t a difficult thing. I’ve previously written that women should be more proactive approaching men while at bars or clubs. Most men find it an attractive trait and it often separates you from most women. It displays initiative, and a strength we often seek in a women. Approaching men seems to be more mystery for women than it does for us men. When you boil it down, there’s no real science to it, men won’t turn down an attractive woman (unless they truly want to be in solitude. Cali recently wrote a great article on how to not to approach men at the bar, as a return favor, I’m providing how women should approach men while out at a bar. After reading these tips, take a deep breath, head out to a bar, and try them out yourselves. What’s the worst that can happen?

1. Take An Interest In What He’s Watching

This tip comes from watching many bar tenders perform their craft. Most bars have a television that are turned on to a sports game. Most of the time we’re paying attention to the sports game (even if it’s on mute). If a guy you’re interested in is keeying an eye on the television, asking a simple do you follow…” with the name of the team that’s playing, or the sport that’s going on is a great way to grab his attention. It shows your taking an interest in him, and his interests. If your a fan, asking a more sports related question like “what do you think of…” and the name of the team that’s playing earns you extra points. Often, this question leads to us wanting to know your name.

2. Sit Next To Him

When sitting down in a public space, it’s human nature to leave a space between yourself and the next individual. However, if you want to approach a guy at a bar, sitting next to him and striking a conversation is a great method. Sitting next to someone is not very confrontational, and in many ways invites conversation. Guys prefer sitting next to someone than sitting across or being separated by them. Most men don’t run away from a woman if they sit next to us. During my worse days, when I’m seeking a drink to wind down, I wouldn’t turn down an attractive woman from sitting next to me and striking a conversation. That would be a great end to a horrible day.

Don’t Be Afraid to Comment on His Look

Often when a woman says they like my shirt, ring, or style, I pay attention. Paying compliments to a guy doesn’t hurt. Many times we wear a specific outfit, or maintain a certain style to gain female attention. If at a loss of words, complimenting a guy is a great ice breaker to further conversations. If he’s not wearing anything impressive, or has already received a compliment about his wardrobe from someone else, try something else. Many men place their phones out on the bar, or may have a gadget they are fooling around with, if commenting on his look doesn’t work, comment on the hardware.

Be Confident. Ask Direct, Straight-Forward (But Not Personal) Questions

We hate dancing around. Flirting is great, but being too playful, or asking questions that are too vague is a huge turn off. Your questions should be direct, straightforward, and not completely personal. Asking, “I see you’re a beer person, do you have any recommendations?” is different from, “So, how’s your beer?” You should only be asking the latter if you’re the bar tender or waitress.

What do you think about these do’s and don’ts? Have you successfully introduced yourself to a cute guy when you were out? Or was it a fail? I think Single City Guy asks the key question:

What is the worst that can happen?