by E

It was sometime after 8pm when I made my way across the floor of the coffee shop towards a tall, slim, Korean girl with a hip-hugging black dress and dark chestnut hair that curled upwards, just above her shoulders. Her hands were busily etching their way along a Korean notebook, carving out answers to questions already inscribed into the page.

A few steps away from her I let out a friendly “Hello,” making sure there was a broad smile stretching across my face.

She looked up with wide eyes and a ghost like expression. She was absolutely shocked.

Sometimes It’s Just Not You

It can be hard to put yourself in the shoes of an Asian woman living in her home country. Most English speaking western countries have a good mix of races, so it’s easy to assume that people are as comfortable talking to members of another race as we are. When it comes down to it, though, a lot of Asian women are actually afraid to interact with foreigners.

There are a whole bunch of possible reasons for this: they haven’t talked to a foreigner before, are totally self-conscious about their English level, are concerned about how they will look to other people, find your appearance strange or out of touch with who they are used to talking to (ie. other Asians)… some Asian women find talking to foreigners a really uncomfortable and stressful experience. The problem is, you never quite know who is going to react that way before you start the interaction.

Like Calming a Nervous Horse

This girl was totally freaking out. To me, that’s not a reason to end an interaction – why take away her chance to meet someone great, someone she might really value after a while?

I smiled again, and sat down at her table. Aside from her eyes growing wider, she was totally frozen in place.

I gave her another little wave, then asked in Korean, “Are you okay?” As planned, she snapped out of her paralysis for a moment to assess the situation then smiled with embarrassment. Her pale white cheeks started to glow red like a pair of Macintosh apples.

I pointed at her book to draw her thoughts away from the awkwardness, to focus her attention on something else entirely. “Oh, you’re studying. You must be a student,” I suggested in Korean again. I was purposefully using the little Korean I knew in the best possible way, since she would feel much more at ease if she knew I could speak her language and didn’t feel pressured into having a conversation in English. This is a key reason why learning language is such an important aspect to dating in foreign countries.

She shifted a little on her chair, then let out in a quiet but calm voice, “I am a university student.”

“Ah, right,” I kept up in Korean. “What are you studying?”

“Well…” she continued, noticeably more at ease now.

The Shortest Distance Between Two Points Is a Squiggly Line

A lot of guys assume that becoming good with women is little more than memorizing a few lines that you can use when the time is right. In reality, though, it all comes down to learning social skills. Sure, knowing what to say can be important, but what’s more important is being able to read the situation and know what effect your input into the interaction will have.

Guys who are just starting to learn how to be good with women, on the other hand, know this, but they usually assume that an interaction follows a standard pattern from first approaching a girl, to building attract, to letting her know that she fits into your life for specific reasons, and then building comfort with her and beyond. While all these aspects of the interaction are important, interactions don’t follow a set path like this – they’re fluid and dynamic. When it comes down to it, every interaction will blend some of these elements together at any one point in time to get the desired result.

That means that sometimes comfort comes before attraction. When you approach a girl you need a basic amount of comfort before she will even let you have a decent interaction with her. While a lot of women will be comfortable enough to talk to you, that doesn’t mean that all women will in all situations.

Don’t Walk Up to Women from Behind in Dark Alleys

Three key areas you should be paying attention to is what your immediate environment is like, how you are presenting yourself, and specific aspects of the woman that could make your interaction awkward.

Pay close attention to the environment she’s in. Note anything that could reduce her comfort level. Is she with her mother? That could be awkward for her. Is the street the two of you are on too dim? Horror movies use darkness for a reason. Is she with another guy? While it’s possible that it’s not her boyfriend, it could be – and that is something that you should find out before hitting on her.

Does she see you coming? If she doesn’t, you can really give her a scare when you say hello. If she’s surprised enough then that might kill the interaction before it’s had a chance to get going. If you’re a big guy then you should definitely smile. Girls don’t know what guys want all the time, and definitely don’t know who you are if you’re just approaching girls you don’t know in public, so having a serious look could totally freak her out. If you don’t look like a squishy teddy bear than you should definitely be smiling. Smiling telegraphs your internal state, and usually happy people aren’t attacking random people in public.

But it’s even more than that. Your body is programmed to pick up on emotions in the social environment and then take on those emotions. This system works through mirror neurons, and can be read about in Daniel Goleman’s fantastic book, “Social Intelligence”.  Smile and the person on the receiving end won’t just know that you’re not out to stick a knife in them but they’ll also pick up on that nonverbal emotional signals and start to feel positive/good themselves.

The same goes for how nervous you are while approaching a woman you’re interested in. If you’re shaking with fear then you run a pretty good chance of making the girl nervous as well – not a recipe for a successful “get to know you” talk. Put on a smile, slow your body movements down, resist the temptation to look around spastically.  Instead, lean back comfortably and show that you’re cool and confident. She’ll pick up on that and feel a lot better for it.

social intelligenceSometimes, of course, she’ll feel nervous because she can’t speak English, or because she just drank 9 cups of coffee, or because she’s had a string of bad relationships and now gets anxious whenever guys approach her. These are the kind of aspects of a woman that we just can’t control for. You might not even ever know that’s what was going on inside of her. All you can do here is approach her, then try to put her at ease as best you can in order to have a good interaction.

Guys often forget that they aren’t the only ones who can be extremely nervous when it comes to new interactions. Women can be just as nervous when you approach, which is why it’s so important to be aware of the situation and have a good understanding of what needs to be done initially in order to bring about your desired end. “Advanced pickup-lines” can’t do this. Only a strong understanding of the social situation and practice interacting with real women can allow you to adapt to the variety of situations you’ll find yourself in whenever you approach. Oh yeah – and sometimes comfort comes first.