The myth goes that getting a date is extremely hard. You need a wingman and you need to know "the game". You need a string of complicated pick-up lines and the experience to know exactly when to use them. To get a date these days, you pretty much need a PhD in the art of seduction.
At least, that's what men are led to believe by the super-daters who write books and blogs on the subject. Dating is a complicated business. You need their help to bag the dates you want.
But that's not how science sees it. According to research into dating, picking up women isn't complicated at all. The truth is, women are as keen on dating as we are, and nowhere near as choosy as you might think. Here are simple, proven strategies for men to get dates the easy way.
Asking for it
The easiest way to get a date? Just ask for it. You don't have to employ phoney chat-up lines and you don't need to bring your wingman along for moral support. If you ask someone for a date, there's a decent chance they'll say yes.
That's not just my opinion either. Researchers from Copenhagen and Aarhus Universities in Denmark asked assistants of average attractiveness (not Clooney, but not Shrek) to approach random strangers and tell them they had seen them around and found them attractive. Then the assistants were to ask the subjects if they'd like to go on a date.
Needless to say, not many of those in relationships agreed to the request. But plenty of those who weren't did. In fact, 43% of single women who were approached agreed to a date simply because they were asked, without any recourse to fancy pick-up lines and 'game theory'.
An earlier study by different researchers was even more encouraging for ordinary men. It found that 50% of the single women who were approached accepted the date. Taken together, the research suggests that nearly half of unattached women will say yes to a date if an average-looking bloke plucks up the courage and asks them.
And that, say experts, is the problem. How many times have you failed to approach an attractive girl at a party because you were scared of rejection? That's a shame, because science reckons there's a decent chance many of those girls would've been happy to hear you out.
So the published research suggests that overall between 40 and 50% of single women will respond positively to a request for a date. That's a pretty high number, but it's just an overall figure. The fact is, there are two or three very easy ways to hike your hit rate even higher.
First off, remember that the people doing the asking were of average attractiveness. They weren't models, but they were reasonably well groomed and well dressed. They'd made a bit of an effort, in other words, and you'd be well advised to do the same. Make an effort.
That's an obvious one, and so is this. Be polite. In the experiments, asking nicely, being friendly, and not badgering or applying pressure made it more likely that subjects would say yes. It's also advisable to pick your location wisely. Women were more likely to say yes in dating experiments if they were approached in places that were public and perceived as safe.
In other words, ask a girl out in a half empty carriage on the last train home and she'll probably knock you back, because her defences will be up. But put the same request to the same woman in the town square during a relaxed lunch hour and it might end in an exchange of numbers.
In this research, the assistants used a pretty straightforward introductory line, and it worked. And it's not the only research to suggest that those oh-so-amusing or flippant pick-up lines are likely to result in not-so-amusing rejection.
In fact, when psychologist Chris Klein researched chat-up lines in the 1980s, publishing the results in the journal Sex Roles, he also found that direct requests, politely asked, were most successful. In his research, one of the most popular first lines men could use (as judged by women) was simply "hi".
Other good lines included "do you want to dance?", "want to grab a beer or coffee while we're waiting?" and "can I help with those bags?" Conversely, women tended to hate lines like "I'm easy are you?" and "is that really your hair?" Anything remotely sexual was a definite no-no, and 'witty' one-liners were frowned upon. OK, those last two were particularly lame chat-up lines, but the conclusion was clear. Don't try to be funny, boastful or ironic, and certainly don't be sexually suggestive. Just say something straightforward and do it nicely.
Easy does it
All of which suggests that dating or at least getting a date in the first place is not the mystery you may think it is. Women like to be asked on dates (it's flattering, if nothing else), and if they're single there's a decent chance they'll accept a straightforward request that is simply and charmingly put. And after you've got the date? That part is up to you...
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