How do I work my way into a table full of girls at a bar?
June 13, 2009 5:44 PM   Subscribe

You're a single male sitting at your local bar and a rather large group of girls walks in and takes over a nearby table. How do you proceed?

Ladies, I know there's quite a few of you out there who have ideas on what you'd want a guy to do in this situation. Yes, I realize at least half those girls at that table prolly have boyfriends (a la ladies' night out) but does that really matter?

Gents, I know you've prolly been in this situation before. And some of you have probably succeeded to some extent. And though you may not be so generous with your killer suggestions, bear in mind that we're probably too far away for us to rub elbows over said group of ladies. So please, ego aside, help a brother out.

You may assume there's a guy or two among this crowd of ladies (at least 6) - if you'd like. I'm 99.9% sure that the dynamics change in this situation, especially if one or both of these guys are linked up with a couple of these girls. Plus, I don't have the luxury of my friends alongside me here... this is strictly a solo op.

Lastly, bear in mind that I'm not looking for a quick one-nighter or anything, neither - just something to get my feet in the pool and get some conversation going. I can take over from there if there's at least one chill gal!
posted by cannotremember to Human Relations (45 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I actually find it easier to chat up a group of girls than a girl by herself. Group dynamics come into play. I think a group is more likely to cut you some slack and find cute any difficultly you have in talking to the group, since they all are likely aware that it is brave to wade into a group. Sincerity and humor are key I think, since if you betray any sort douchiness or come across as skeevy, then the group will turn on you quickly. The times I've attempted this, I usually would listen to their conversation and then pipe in with an "Sorry, I wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but I overheard you saying [x] and [here is some comment on that]."
posted by Falconetti at 5:52 PM on June 13, 2009

Have you considered just saying 'hi' and introducing yourself?
Whether this comes across as nice and genuine or skeezey depends on your age, their age, and so on, but being direct sure beats following some sort of cunning plan.

In general, I wouldn't look at this sort of thing as an 'op'.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:53 PM on June 13, 2009 [7 favorites]

rub elbows over said group of ladies

If it's your elbows you are rubbing, you are doing it wrong.

I think that there is a huge difference between trying to work your way into a group, and trying to talk to a particular person who happens to be in a group. Know which you are doing, and behave accordingly. But either way, honestly, I think it's as simple as having the courage to walk over and say "hi." Most people can't manage that, so if you can, you are miles ahead.

And I'd also say that yes, it does matter if they are attached but out for an evening with their friends, or if they are single and open to meeting someone. While I suppose you can't totally tell in every case, there sure can be a difference in body language and attitude in the different kinds of groups, and I'd hope you are observant enough to pick up on that.

(Lastly, if the oh-so-slick tone of your writing -- one can just hear the "laydeez" -- comes through in person, you will probably want to rethink your overall approach, rather than worrying about the details. Women aren't some separate species, needing artificial techniques and practiced openers. They are just people, just as horny as you are, but probably tired of smarmy smooth movers trotting out the same old PUA lines every time they go out with their friends.)
posted by Forktine at 6:04 PM on June 13, 2009 [10 favorites]

If I were a girl in this situation, I wouldn't mind a lone guy coming over and saying, "Hey, do you mind if I sit down? I'm here by myself, and you guys seem like a fun group." This might work better if the girls have had a couple a drinks in them.
posted by lunalaguna at 6:05 PM on June 13, 2009 [6 favorites]

That should be, "If I were in this situation..." I actually am a girl.
posted by lunalaguna at 6:07 PM on June 13, 2009 [4 favorites]

Your results will vary. Some women don't mind being approached like that, especially if the guy is cute, but some see it as smarmy if a guy comes up to them for no specific reason (other than to hit on them). I am in the latter camp, myself, and just recently my friends and I had to deal with a dude who wouldn't leave us alone despite our trying to hint that we weren't interested in talking to him. He was 15 years older than us and kept bringing up how old he is, so it was a little different. It's better if the guy has something actually to say. Like if you overheard something and could actually jump into the conversation in a natural way, or if, say one of the women had a shirt on for a band or sports team you like (or are willing to pretend to like) and you can talk to them about it.

The drunker they are, the better any approach will go over.
posted by ishotjr at 6:18 PM on June 13, 2009

Don't walk over and introduce yourself or ask to sit down without a prompt. Wait for a huge laugh from the group, or a group reaction to music/tv/band whatever is happening in the bar. Act on their reaction to something rather than presenting yourself randomly half way through their conversation - you need a reason to speak basically.
posted by fire&wings at 6:38 PM on June 13, 2009

I like the idea of going over and seeing if you can join their party.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:38 PM on June 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

Another female chiming in, essentially seconding what lunalaguna has to say, but I want to upgrade her recommendation that the "girls have had a couple of drinks in them" to a requirement. I'm not saying you should wait until women are drunk to hit on them. What I am saying is that if I went out for a night with my girlfriends and some guy cut in on the group before we'd even had a chance to hash out our latest romantic/family/career sagas, I'd be turning him right around and sending him back to his lonely table. It's ladies' night because we need time with the ladies, not because we're trolling for men.

But, that doesn't mean we aren't happy to flirt once we've gotten caught up. So wait 30 minutes or so from the group's arrival before you stroll on over and say "hi." If you want to gauge whether or not you're welcome say something like "did you take a look at the wine list? There's a fabulous merlot that's hard to find around here..." Then, of course, you have to be willing to buy a bottle for the table. (If you're short on cash or at a pub this technique can also be used with beer or an appetizer.) If any of the ladies says "oh, really? I love merlot/1554/spinach artichoke dip" that's your cue to pull up a chair and start a conversation about said food/beverage. This technique isn't a necessity - just a type of opening line you can try. (on preview, ishotjr has some other good opening gambit ideas)

Hint: the one who responds to your initial line is typically the protector for the group. She may not necessarily be the single one, but if she accepts your advance towards the group she will assume responsibility for directing your attention to the eligible members.

If you are rebuffed, try not to take it too hard. In general, women DO like it when men chat them up. But if the ladies night was instigated because someone's husband is cheating on her, or someone's father just died, then the group spokeswoman will turn you away. Hopefully kindly.

Best of luck. Happy flirting!
posted by philotes at 6:40 PM on June 13, 2009 [9 favorites]

As a girl, I agree with the others. Just a simple "hey, do you mind if I join you" may work. But chances are, unless its a night of drinking rather than talking, they may take offense. Sometimes when we ladies are out, we actually just want to talk to our friends, so don't take it personally if they ask to be left alone. I'd say wait until one of them goes up to the bar to order to gauge the situation. Is it a girls only night, or are they there to party.
posted by Unred at 6:55 PM on June 13, 2009

Great advice above, but a few points that I'd emphasize:
-Definitely pay attention to the body language of the group. If they're mostly inward-focused, involved in a conversation with only their group, don't approach them. If they're looking outward- i.e., they're checking out guys/people at the bar/hopefully you :)- go for it. Try making eye contact with a member of the group who looks fun/you find attractive- chances are they'll discuss the guy at the bar checking them out and decide if they like him or think he's a sketchball. Judge body language after that, and then make your move if they seem to be encouraging your interest.

-When you do approach, as philotes said above, chances are that one member of the group will be the spokesman. Pay attention to what she says and how she acts. If they've figured out you're interested in them (pretty likely if you haven't been completely ignoring them up to this point and they're interested in guys approaching them), they'll know how they feel about you and the spokesman's job will be communicating this to you.

Good luck!
posted by MadamM at 6:56 PM on June 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

If I were out with my girlfriends and some random guy asked if he could join us, I would be super annoyed. You'd likely get permission just out of politeness, but your continued presence might be a burden on the group. "OK, so how long are we stuck with this guy? Are we going to have to go elsewhere to get rid of him? Do you think he's gonna come with if we leave?".

Starting a conversation is fine, but wait to be invited to sit down. Or if you must invite yourself into their group, don't stay too long unless it's very clear that you're hitting it off.
posted by pizzazz at 7:00 PM on June 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

This applies in 90% of situations, whether girls arrive in a large group, a small group or alone. You need a wingman to spot which of these girls is eyeing you. Approach that girl and ignore the rest. If no girl seems interested in you first, your chances are slim (though not impossible).
posted by randomstriker at 7:09 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sitting alone in a bar may signal "WEIRD LONER ALERT", so you're off on the wrong foot from the start. Use the fact that you're alone to your advantage- introduce yourself, and lie saying that you are waiting on friends and can you join them while you wait. They will probably say yes- then- you'd better be very entertaining because you've interrupted them, and they will be looking for the payoff.
posted by mattoxic at 7:15 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm a girl. Approach. It's cool. Some girls will be okay with it, some won't. You won't know until you try. I do agree that a group of girls looking around is a much better indication than a group that seems completely uninterested in anything but the other girls they're with. That's probably your best indicator.

Dear God, don't have a "plan of action" or a cheesy line when you approach. No seriously, please don't. Personally, my favorite approach is the one where the guy just says "Hi" and he is obviously a little nervous about approaching. And don't try to fake that move- it's obvious. If you're nervous, be nervous. If you're not, don't. If you feel like buying drinks, do.* Be completely real. Don't over-compliment. Also, I don't want to hear a bad joke, nor do any of the girls I know. Just explain that you're on your own tonight and, "Do you ladies mind a little company?" or something. If you approach and you feel yourself crashing and burning for some reason, don't drag it out. I've seen this alot. It's embarassing for all involved. Basically, it boils down to being yourself and being aware of social cues. It's really that easy. You'll win some, you'll lose some but so what?

If you want to buy a round, buy a round- but not until you're "in" with them. Maybe I'm weird but I feel like a guy that offers to buy me a drink before we've established a general feeling of "Okay, you're okay. I can talk to you for a bit" is trying to "buy my time" with a $5 beer. I'd much rather know I like your company without the beer than not know you and feel I owe you twenty minutes because I'm rude if I walk away. So, I generally turn down an approach of "Can I buy you a drink?" Just a heads up. Establish some good vibes, then offer drinks. But it's not mandatory.
posted by smeater44 at 8:11 PM on June 13, 2009 [5 favorites]

*If you want to buy a round...
posted by smeater44 at 8:13 PM on June 13, 2009

I either go two ways - I go up to the table, but talk to maybe one or two of the girls... "Hi, hows it going, are these your friends, whats the occasion, its a nice night" etc etc etc - give them a chance to say how they all know each other, what the night is for etc.

Or if I'm at the bar and see one or two seperate from the group, try the same thing. A little less intimidating than a whole table of people watching you do your best work, but I just like to talk to people and listen to what they have to say. I like to think that genuine interest rather than just talking to pick up is the key distinction between a good conversation and being shut down early on.

If theres any nerves, just think "whats the worst that will happen? They'll say 'no thanks, its a girls night only, not looking to talk to guys' and I'm back where I am now, its a no lose situation"
posted by Admira at 8:23 PM on June 13, 2009

Buy them all a drink.
posted by karizma at 8:40 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hint: the one who responds to your initial line is typically the protector for the group. She may not necessarily be the single one, but if she accepts your advance towards the group she will assume responsibility for directing your attention to the eligible members.

haha, I never thought it this way, but I am usually the spokesperson for my group and my first reaction is always to rebuff strange men. I can think of a couple of instances where a guy approached the whole group and just bombed. One time, the guy opened with "what are the chances one of you is single?" and I replied with something snotty and probably unnecessarily cruel. It just irked me that he wasn't particularly interested in any particular girl, but seemed to be fishing for a hook up. At the other end of the spectrum, we once had a guy come over and shake each our hands as he introduced himself. I asked him what political office he was running for and he much buggered off.

So... I think the idea of catching a girl on the fringe and gradually working your way into the group is the smoothest option. It would subvert the power of the spokesperson (if she's unintentionally evil like me) and give you a chance to figure out what kind of group this is before you dive in . Plus, if they don't want you around, someone can give you the hint without the entire group observing your dismissal. If you join the group in a general way, that would give you time to figure out if any of them are interesting before you blow your ONE chance at hitting on a member of the group.
posted by parkerjackson at 8:51 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Beyond the other good advice given:

If you ask if you can join them, or sit down, or anything along those lines, and they say some sort of no, listen to it. Don't sit down anyways. Don't badger them until someone says yes. This means leaving off a jokey "You sure?" or anything other than "Another time, maybe" (or some other such) and walking away. Yes, yes, women will often be unclear about it ("letting you down easy"), because being straightforward is taken as being a bitch, etc. Take no seriously. Yeah, it sucks, and we all hate rejection, but you're not winning any points if you ignore it, or if you accept it but stalk off making a nasty comment.
posted by jeather at 9:05 PM on June 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

Found myself in this situation when I was in a bar in Belgium. I was young and inexperienced, because I was underage in the US and I never went to bars. After entering, I found a comfortable seat among a table of guys. Hearing bits of the conversation, I realized that the one guy talking about how to pick up women. And they were pointing out girls that they could totally pick up for the night. If someone were to describe them as skeezy, I wouldn't have argued.

A group of girls walked up to the next table, and I swooned. I'd had a couple drinks, so my swooning was in top form. Like the OP, I wasn't entirely sure what to do because they were involved in their own conversation and who was I? But I was traveling, so I said fuck it and asked them, "Excuse me— mind if I take a seat?" The talking girl paused for a second, looked at me, shrugged. By this point, I must've been grinning smugly because I thought myself quite smooth.

Alas, they only knew Dutch. For the next hour and a half, I was listening to Dutch. At one point I think they ordered peanuts for the table, and I took a few. Finally, they asked me where I'm from, why I'm alone. I answer and ask a couple questions of my own. Turned out they were college friends and they had finals tomorrow, so they had to leave quickly. One of them grinned and gave me a hug.

So OP, that's what you do if the girls speak a different language. Had they spoken English, I would have probably fumbled before we got to the hugs.
posted by anonymuk at 9:48 PM on June 13, 2009

How do you proceed? Unless it's obvious they're looking to meet others, you leave them to have fun with their friends and find women to date through work, friends, friends' friends, activities, hobbies, and online dating.
posted by salvia at 10:46 PM on June 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you're going to approach them, don't wait - just go up and do it as soon as you see them - if you hover and pounce later it will seem far more creepy.
posted by skylar at 12:33 AM on June 14, 2009

cannotremember: You're a single male sitting at your local bar and a rather large group of girls walks in and takes over a nearby table. How do you proceed?

I wouldn't. I suggest you don't either.

Ladies, I know there's quite a few of you out there who have ideas on what you'd want a guy to do in this situation. Yes, I realize at least half those girls at that table prolly have boyfriends (a la ladies' night out) but does that really matter?


Gents, I know you've prolly been in this situation before. And some of you have probably succeeded to some extent. And though you may not be so generous with your killer suggestions, bear in mind that we're probably too far away for us to rub elbows over said group of ladies. So please, ego aside, help a brother out.

Ego aside? Fine. But you just said you'd be hitting on my wife, and that it didn't matter to you that she has a guy, so, well, why should I want to help you out, guy? Does any of this actually make sense to you? Seriously, do you sincerely believe you're acting like an equitable and noble human being? Or do you simply not care?

You may assume there's a guy or two among this crowd of ladies (at least 6) - if you'd like. I'm 99.9% sure that the dynamics change in this situation, especially if one or both of these guys are linked up with a couple of these girls. Plus, I don't have the luxury of my friends alongside me here... this is strictly a solo op.

‘Solo op’? I think you're approaching this all the wrong way. Women are amazing, man—they figure it out in a heartbeat when you view meeting them as an ‘operation.’ They're like men that way.

Lastly, bear in mind that I'm not looking for a quick one-nighter or anything, neither - just something to get my feet in the pool and get some conversation going. I can take over from there if there's at least one chill gal!

This is the thing that you say that confuses me the most. You're not looking for a ‘quick one-nighter’? What, were you hoping for a longer one-nighter?

I mean this in all honesty. What are you looking for? The path you're taking is a sure route to nothing but embarrassment and disappointment; I have a feeling you'd be much better off if you just focused your desires by thinking a bit about what those desires are. You say you're not looking for one-night stands; fine. Are you hoping for a longer-term strictly sexual relationship? Be honest about it. Would you like somebody to hold you through the lonely nights? Be honest about it. Are you secretly hoping to fall so deeply in love that all else appears but a pale shadow? Be honest about it. Seriously: women will respond to this.

Stepping out into the world and opening your eyes, you will be amazed and astounded to discover that women have many of the same needs and desires as men. You want sex? Fine. Women like having sex, too. You want companionship or friendship? Women, same thing. Amazing thing, that: they're just normal, average, boring human beings, just like you. So try this: tell women what you're after. Be honest and straightforward. You'll be amazed and surprised at how many of them came to the bar to have sex just like you did…or to find a companion, or to find somebody to hold the whip, or to find somebody to fall madly in love with, &c. Richard Feynman, the famous physicist, says that when he was in college he realized that things went a whole lot better if he just skipped the pointless banter and said to women: “I would like to sleep with you. Would you like to go home with me?”

The reason this worked wasn't because he was a hunky physics student, or because he knew which women to ask, or some hidden mojo. It worked because he wasn't being sexist. And, though I hate to tell you this, my friend, you are being sexist. I know you probably don't realize it, but you're being sexist because you seem to think that talking to women—even when your purpose isn't purportedly just to have sex—is fundamentally different from talking to men. It isn't. Express yourself. Be honest. If you're after sex, put your cards on the table. If you're an ignoble person who doesn't have scruples or sincere predilections or a real desire to be a good human being, well, print it on a t-shirt and wear it. But don't think there's some kind of formula for talking to other people just because they lack the flap of skin that dangles between your legs.

Seriously, man. Respect yourself already.
posted by koeselitz at 2:35 AM on June 14, 2009 [36 favorites]

People talk to people in bars all the time. That's the fun thing about them--you get to meet and talk to other random drunk people. You say you're not looking for a one-night stand, so some of this advice seems weird to me (as though people are just used to only being solicited for hook-ups and are advising you accordingly). Anyway, it's okay to just go up and say hi, but if that feels too awkward then it's generally easiest to wait until some of the group go to the bathroom (it's just easier to break into a conversation of two girls at a table with empty seats than a full table of five) or wait until one/some of them go to the bar and then just start chattering with them there while they're waiting to get a drink. If that goes well you can ask if you can join them at their table or ask if they want to get a table or whatever. (If you've tried the at-partially-empty-table approach, then when the others return you stand up, apologize for taking their seat, and if things have gone well they usually will be all "oh nono let's find another chair.") If you happen to approach one of these women who are on the defensive and think you just want to club them over the head and drag them home, then you'll know pretty quickly and you just back off and move on (do not let them discourage you--there are plenty of cool people at bars who are more than happy to talk with you). I think you can also increase your chances of this depending on the type of bar you go to and the frequency you visit it. Back when I used to go out regularly with a group of girls we would go out to the same places pretty often, and we would get to know a variety of different guys who would also frequent the same places (and who were quite often alone--I never found it weird but it would sometimes make me wish I had the guts to just go out to a bar by myself when my friends were all busy). And it was always really cool to go into a place and be like "HEY it's random guy that we met last week invite him over!"
posted by Polychrome at 2:44 AM on June 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here's an idea: if they're taking photographs, you could always offer to take a photograph of the group as an icebreaker. (People seriously bring cameras with them for seemingly every occasion these days.) Women tend to value fairness, and love for everyone to be in the picture (not minus the one woman who had to take the photograph).

Otherwise, seriously just be yourself. We're people too. I wouldn't go under any assumptions that half of them have boyfriends or whatever--many times I hit the bars with *all* of my single girlfriends, simply because we didn't feel like being alone on Friday night watching our romantic comedy poison of choice.
posted by Dukat at 3:28 AM on June 14, 2009

The best way to approach me in a bar when I am with a group of friends

Make eye contact and smile. If I start smiling back, then the next time I'm at the bar, come over and start a conversation or offer to buy me a drink or something. If we hit it off, I'll invite you back to the table, (or possibly just hang around at the bar talking to you until one of my friends shows up to drag me away.)

Reasons I would not want you to approach me in a bar based on this post

You're drinking alone. (There's nothing wrong with enjoying a nice quiet beer in the company of the newspaper. That's cool. But when you're drinking alone and start striking up conversations with strangers, it implies that you do want company and this is the only way you can get it. That's not a sign you want to be giving out.)

Your comment that it makes no difference whether the women are in relationships. (Because if you wanted nothing more than conversation, why specify women? And if you did want more than conversation, then it does matter.)

You referred to a conversation with me as a "solo op". Ew.

You appear completely indifferent as to whether you end up with me or with some other girl. People aren't fungible and dislike being treated as if they are.

You say you would change your approach if there were men in the group. Which combined with the 'boyfriends don't matter' thing implies that you wouldn't care if a woman said that she was taken, but you would care if her boyfriend said she was taken. Again, ew.

If you are determined to inveigle your way into a group of strangers like this.

Find a nearby pub quiz and be good at trivia. The likelihood that my friends will invite a stranger to sit with us increases exponentially if the stranger knows the periodic symbol for tin or what JFIFM medals were awarded for.
posted by the latin mouse at 5:19 AM on June 14, 2009 [9 favorites]

I believe that the OP said that it didn't matter if a few of them women might have boyfriends because he isn't planning to date *all* of the women. Just one. And presumably that one should be single. But her friends needn't be. Also, as much as we'd all like to believe that we're precious snowflakes, I know full well that if I see a group of men I might think, "That looks like a cool group of guys - I like their style, their dynamic. They seem like fun people." That doesn't mean that I'd "take" any one of them, but that they - as a group - seem like the kind of guys I'd be interested in.

Alright, so much for defending the straight boy looking for a date. As it may be obvious by now, I'm the friend you should approach in a group of friends. I also tend to be the one with the biggest purse, the friendliest manner with the bartender, the supply of kleenex/chapstick/breath-mints (hence the big purse). I'm the group's mommy (emotionally, not literally). I know who's single, I know who would find you attractive, and I know how to introduce you into the group in a low-key way and how to gently let you know that we're just having a "ladies' night" and would prefer to keep the table female.

That being said, I automatically dock points from a guy who is at a bar alone - I have no interest in dating men who don't have friends or a social life. In general, I think the kind of women who go to bars in groups tend to want to date men who have friends, men who are social and outgoing - in short, men who are like them. If you go to bars alone, I reckon you'll have better luck approaching women who go to bars alone. If you want to date a woman who is there with a group, you know that she already has friends and likes to socialize, so please be prepared to explain to her (perhaps to the group) why you're at a bar alone, and - if possible - do so as part of your intro. "I'm waiting for my friend Jack to show up, but he just started a new job, so getting away is tough for him... In the meantime, you guys seem like so much fun, do you mind if I hang out for a drink?" And then leave after one drink (unless they ask you to stay) - this construct gives you and them an out. Other reasons you might be there alone but still be deemed "safe" to hang out with the table for a drink would be that you're new in town, your friend's the bartender and hates Tuesday night shifts alone, you can only focus on crosswords at a bar, your friend blew you off (work/date/kid/whatever), you're the only person among your friends interested in a concert down the road so need to kill time until it begins... etc. I think you get the idea. Please don't just go to the bar by yourself with the express purpose of looking for a date unless you intend to approach a woman who's gone to the bar by herself with the express purpose of looking for a date.
posted by pammeke at 7:55 AM on June 14, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'd get up and move.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 7:59 AM on June 14, 2009 [3 favorites]

Ignore them.

No, really. I go out all the time by myself to concerts and such. I do this because I do not have to entertain anyone and I can leave when I please (the most important part). This rarely seems to stop people from coming up to talk to me or wanting to sit with me, despite the fact that I might be reading, eating, or otherwise concentrating on the performance at hand. I am neither attractive nor wealthy. I'd say about two-thirds of the time I go out, despite a complete lack of eye contact, one or more someones will decide to chat me up.

As far as I can tell, just the act of not trolling about is interesting to some people. Aside from the inhibited, if someone with a few drinks in them wants to talk to you, they'll generally do so. This can be a bug or a feature, depending on your mood, but there you go. This is more likely to occur when that someone is part of a group, I've noted.

(I admit I do not do this with bars, as, let's face it, if you're not looking for personal interaction, driving to a smoky, noisy room where you get to pay too much for poorly-prepared alcohol and then risk driving home buzzed is far too much trouble to avoid the AA Fairy, who will see you having two glasses of wine at home and *whammo* instantly deem you an alkie.)
posted by adipocere at 9:00 AM on June 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

From a veteran third-wheeling guy who used to hang out with a group of girls as the only guy quite a bit:

Usually half of the girls were seeing someone seriously (I'm talking about girls in their twenties). That leaves half that were essentially single. Their receptiveness to the lone guy was pretty much as other posters have said; it depended on the depth of their female bonding that was going on.

To be blunt, in a setting where you might be sized up across the room and then again in a split second if you approach the group, it really depends how good looking you are. I saw good-looking guys gain entre to the group with the corniest of intro lines when the equivalent line from the lesser looking guy would elicit eye rolls. The world is full of hot girls with so-so looking guys, but those couples generally didn't meet in a bar under your proposed circumstances where initial immediate impressions are the most important.

Paradoxically, the girls I hung out with would give some really good looking guys the cold shoulder as an action of solidarity to the girls night out, even if they were attracted to them.

To summarize, follow the advice of the previous respondents. Keep an eye on the dynamics of the girl-girl interactions and gauge their receptiveness over 30 minutes or so. Don't go over right away.

Also, bring a guy friend along if you can.
posted by teg4rvn at 9:09 AM on June 14, 2009

I have to chime in about the guy who is alone at the bar. Amazing interactions and conversations happen when you are alone. Two of my best friends have no problem going out alone, meeting people, or approaching a table full of strong minded, attractive, well armored females. But they both also understand body language, group dynamics, rejection, and confidence. It also helps that they are good looking ( not great looking ), charming, and funny. Unfortunately, a lot of this dynamic is initially formed by your appearance. And in my experience, the guy who has the best chance is the guy who is cute, but not too cute. If your ugly you're a creep, if you're Brad Pitt your a player, but if your cute, you might get a chance to open you mouth. This is my experience. Others may disagree with my stance towards superficiality.

My advice is to sit and observe for a while. And this has to do with a single female, two females, or an entire hen night. You need to make sure that they are receptive to being chatted up, are not about to meet their boyfriends / husbands, or are not on the verge of tears or a man-hater rant. If you have any type of radar, you should be able to figure out if they want to flirt. Are they looking around? Are they laughing? Do you get the sense that they are friendly? Do they look like girls who just aren't that much fun? If you get a good feeling then: Observe something, go over their, comment about it, and see what happens. Be yourself. But don't come off as needy, desperate, or lonely. You must exude some type of confidence. And I don't mean arrogance. Just let them know that your are not afraid to come into their airspace. If they launch a barrage of anti-aircraft missiles, do a few barrels rolls, and fly into friendlier skies. Do not take it personal if they shoot you down. There are a variety of reasons, as pointed out above, that they may not want to chat / flirt / etc.

And I will disagree with koeslitz on his point about putting your cards on the table. Flirting should be far more subtle than that. Where would romance and seduction be without a little innuendo and mystery. Put your cards on the table when your in the champagne room with a girl named Peaches you can't keep her hands off you.
posted by jasondigitized at 9:15 AM on June 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

See.. here's the thing. I think to many people focus on trying to find ways to MAKE (force) something work... instead of opening up their awareness and letting things naturally fall into place.

Approach #1 (that most people use) .. is trolling the bars and looking for "opportunities", using pickup lines and basically trying to force interactions that wouldn't normally occur naturally. As you can expect, this effort typically comes across as not very genuine. It feels smarmy, cheap and shallow. Women pickup on it in a micro-second, and then you spend even more effort playing the game trying to convince them that you are actually a really nice guy (but you wouldn't have to do that if the first impression you made wasnt so smarmy)

Approach #2 on the other hand is about waiting till you see a genuine, honest, real, true, transparent and believable reason to approach them. In order to do this, you have to be humble, and patient and accepting of the fact that an opportunity may never present itself. Raise your awareness of whats going on around you. Watch the "flow" of people coming in and out of the bar. Watch their table, see if you can tell why they are there (for trivia?, karaoke?, dancing?) If you can't find a way to respectfully approach their table, then dont. The amount of class and creativity you approach their table with will earn you a lot more points than Approach #1 ever could. ( it may not be "successful" as often as Approach #1, but the times it is successful will be of higher quality)
posted by jmnugent at 10:50 AM on June 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ignore them, they'll be ignoring you
posted by A189Nut at 11:16 AM on June 14, 2009

I'm a single dude who goes to bars alone. Not to 'pick up' chicks, mind, just to be amongst a sea of humanity rather than being alone at home. It takes a lot of work to become a regular at multiple bars. Starting out I was self-conscious about hanging out alone at a bar, but over time the bartenders and servers got to know me so that going there alone was sort of hanging out with friends to a degree.

Anyway, this one time I ordered a Pisco, I'd never had one before. I had it and it was amazing. I just announced out loud(I'd already had other drinks) "Man, this pisco is great, does anyone else want to try some". "Sure" came replies from my right. And they were two of the most divine looking girls I'd ever seen(remember, I'd already had a few) So I bought them drinks, talked for a while. Simple.

Also, one time I was at trivia night by myself, girl walks up to the bar to get drinks, asks me why I'm doing trivia by myself. We start talking, turns out she lives in the same apartment complex as me. We're going out for drinks tonight and trivia tomorrow.

I've never actually approached a group of girls at a distant table, but have initiated conversation with groups of girls sitting next to me at the bar. I guess this is easy because, you can say your piece, not expect a reply or hover for one. Like you would with any other stranger at a bar.
posted by prufrock at 11:39 AM on June 14, 2009

If a large group of girls walked in and took over a table at my local bar, there'd be about a 90% chance that they're all lesbians.

That aside, I'm a guy who (like prufrock, above) likes to go to bars alone, just for the random interactions you get, and I'd never ever just walk up to any table where a bunch of friends are sitting, and force my company upon them out of the blue like that.

The thing is, bars only have three areas where random interaction is generally socially acceptable:

1. At the bar itself, whilst queueing or buying drinks;
2. At the pool table (or darts, whatever); and
3. Wherever smokers go for a cigarette.

That's about it (unless there's a dancefloor). Anything outside of those socialisation spaces should be considered private - ie you should no sooner invite yourself to somebody's table than you'd walk into somebody's house when they're having a dinner party. And nor should you need to; you ought to find that you can get chatting with enough people just by pulling a stool up to the bar, or challenging people to pool, that you might or might not find yourself talking to one or more of the table of women at some point in the evening.

And if you don't, hey, maybe you've met some friendly & worthwhile people anyway.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:00 PM on June 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Are you interesting? If not, you've failed already.
posted by ZaneJ. at 1:27 AM on June 15, 2009

Here's an idea: if they're taking photographs, you could always offer to take a photograph of the group as an icebreaker.

FWIW, I think this would be creepy.

Of course, I like to go to my local bar by myself, so apparently based on that I'm creepy and have no friends.
posted by inigo2 at 6:31 AM on June 15, 2009

Speaking of photographs, I have met some interesting people by photobombing their poses. Jump in between them and make a face or a giant heart with your arms and then pretend like it didn't happen and walk away. If they don't suck they will think it's hilarious and probably come talk to you and show you the result.

Also, ignore anyone telling you not to go for it...the worst that can happen is you get embarrassed--it'll pass, and could be well worth the reward of meeting cool attractive peoples.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:10 AM on June 15, 2009

I also say ignore those who tell you not to do it...yes you will bomb a lot but you will never know what could happen....I rarely go out along but when I do my approach is to wait for the eye contact and approach those who look like they want to be approached....sometimes I dont get the eye contact but they look bored and are not really talking (this usually only happens when there are 2 women) also just because you got there alone doesnt meant you cant talk to other males and recruit them as your friends you can have instant wing man most of the time if you can play your cards right!......let me know how it goes...
posted by The1andonly at 10:36 AM on June 15, 2009

I am usually the spokesperson for my group and my first reaction is always to rebuff strange men.

Several years ago there was a cover article in the Washington DC City Paper about how this attitude was so common among groups of women in DC bars -- there was even competition among the groups to see who was best at putting down the approaching guy.
posted by Rash at 12:10 PM on June 15, 2009

The thing is, bars only have three areas where random interaction is generally socially acceptable:

1. At the bar itself, whilst queueing or buying drinks;
2. At the pool table (or darts, whatever); and
3. Wherever smokers go for a cigarette.

Hey! You forgot the Jukebox! I've seen men use the awesome ice-breaker of picking some songs on the jukebox and intentionally leaving credits - then walking up to a group of folks and urging them to play some free music. Return when their songs play, and complement/tease/ask a question about what's playing. Done and done.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:18 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hehe - I was almost going to add the jukebox! Well spotted, TLF!

Of course, I like to go to my local bar by myself, so apparently based on that I'm creepy and have no friends.

I wouldn't necessarily let this attitude deter you. Yes, some people will make that kind of kneejerk assumption (including in this thread), but that's understandable, considering that they might only want to spend a few seconds weighing up whether you're safe or dangerous, and hell - why shouldn't they err on the side of caution?

My attitude however, is that if you're creepy you'll be seen as creepy; if you're open & friendly then this should show through instead. And as others have said, there could be all kinds of reasons for you to be in a bar on your own.

Speaking for myself, it's something I like to do as unstructured downtime away from other, more structured, social activities. I can come & go as I please, read if I like, chat if I like, and not have to engage in the kitten-herding that inevitably comes with group activities involving more than three people. There are times & places for that, but as far as I'm concerned it's not all the time, and certainly isn't a prerequisite for going out.

On top of that, I'm also a teensy bit suspicious of people who apparently don't have the balls/ovaries to hang out in their own company, and instead need the security of bunches of people around them, even if half the time they look uncomfortable & out of place in whatever group they're in. So, there's a bit of reverse discrimination, if you like.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:49 PM on June 15, 2009

Of course, I like to go to my local bar by myself, so apparently based on that I'm creepy and have no friends.

Yeah, I was coming back in the thread to say that at the bar where I work, there are a lot of people who come to the bar on their own. They generally now know each other and us. Or they come with a book or science journal article. Most are really normal and kind. (A few others aren't exactly date material.) People are wrong to judge across the board on this point.
posted by salvia at 1:02 AM on June 16, 2009

Hitting on girls as a single guy on your own is hard. Koeselitz makes some valid points - imagine it was a group of men - how would you join that group? Needy is bad.

That said, a group of men is generally not looking for a new friend - groups of girls may well be.

It's also hard to judge when to try to interact, look to long and you are a creep in their opinion, but you also have to be patient. Some of the other lone bar goers have this down, since they are pretending, or at least comfortable with the idea that they aren't there to meet anyone. But they are always open to the opportunity ...

I think jmnugent covers this well, be aware, but DO NOT STARE.

disclosure: I have recently rejoined the bar going deer hunting male population in a foreign country where I have no friends ... it's not something I relish, but its Friday night and I'm damned if I'm staying home.

Good luck!!!
posted by fistynuts at 1:41 PM on June 19, 2009

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