How do I break the "ice" with others (especially girls) and get closer with them?
November 13, 2009 10:54 PM   Subscribe

How do I break the "ice" with others (especially girls) and get closer with them?

Hi. I am a freshman in college. While I wasn't the most popular in high school, I was well known by many and had many girl friends, but no girlfriend, just flirted and played with some girls.

Anyway, what's been bothering me is that there are some people I talk to almost everyday in college but it's always the how are you, how's studying, how was your exam, what are you up to this weekend? I also haven't been able to meet as many girls as I would like to.

I was wondering if anyone could explain why this is. Is there a way to break the "ice" with these people and also with girls. It seems that I have trouble having a deep conversation with anyone other than how are you and some small talk about what's happening around on campus.

Thanks.
posted by rintako to Human Relations (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Take an interest in the girl as a person. Oh, and deep conversations are best left for philosophy class.
posted by dfriedman at 10:56 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Of all the cliche advice for relationships you hear, nothing has been more true for me than the old, "as soon as you stop worrying about it and just be yourself, something somewhere will spark."
posted by june made him a gemini at 11:10 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I have to agree with june made him a gemini.

I was a bit of a wallflower in school. Certainly didn't have any girlfriends, and fairly few girl friends. I took a year off and worked around Europe for a year after school, which helped, but when I returned I found that meeting people isn't nearly so hard as getting past the casual acquaintance stage, and becoming proper friends with them (or further).

What I've since found is that someone looking for a girlfriend is far less interesting than someone who is simply doing their own thing, enjoying themselves. What interests you? Do that. What do you want to learn? Take classes. Not because they're great ways to meet girls (and they often are) but because you'll be enjoying yourself, and someone who's enjoying themself is far more attractive than someone looking for some magic trick to break the ice.

I know, I know, it'd be great to hear a few easy tips, or secret conversations that instantly make relationships happen, but it doesn't work like that for a reason. Furthermore, anyone trying that approach will (rightfully) be rejected as a phony. So go out, do things that will make you happy on their own, regardless of whether or not they help you meet people. Then you will be having fun, and have more to talk about, and instead of being that desperate guy who always just asks about uni stuff then has nothing to say (this may not necessarily be you), you'll be that guy who paints/skydives/organises underground raves and is learning how to swing dance/make origami/teach English. Much better.
posted by twirlypen at 11:32 PM on November 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


nothing has been more true for me than the old, "as soon as you stop worrying about it and just be yourself, something somewhere will spark."

Seconded, it worked for me too. I came to the conclusion people can sort of tell when you're trying, and it's kind of off-putting. Best to just "be here now"... don't sit around on weekends, rather keep doing new and interesting things and don't stagnate. You do that not necessarily to snare people in your net but rather to cast your net and stretch it further each time you go out. You lay a groundwork of new experiences, and with that it will get more and more easier to connect with people. Oh, to be a freshman again... your social scene is just beginning, believe me.
posted by crapmatic at 1:16 AM on November 14, 2009


As a freshman in college, I remember a friend of mine waxing philosophically that girls in high school just wanted someone fun, and how nothing had changed.

It's more than ten years later now, I have nothing new to report. Whatever you truly are, bring the more fun side of that to the table.
posted by No New Diamonds Please at 1:41 AM on November 14, 2009


Remember that girls aren't defined by their gender. Be interested in their lives. Sure, ask her how her exam went, but after class, go grab a bite to eat and ask her what she plans to do to relax. Do you see her with her iPod a lot? Ask her what she's listening to. How do you make friends with guys? Do the same thing with girls. We're not that different.

Crapmatic gives good advice - be engaged in your own thing. Girls are interested in guys who have it together, who have an interest beyond school and partying. It'll give you something to talk about, plus engaging in activities and clubs is a good way to meet people who're more likely to have the same interests as you do.

Besides, it's November, and you're a freshman. You've been in college barely two, three months. Making friends takes time, especially in college when everyone's going through a transitory stage in their lives and adjusting to not necessarily seeing the same people day in day out and just letting proximity work its charm. Give it some time, and keep being friendly to people. It'll get easier.
posted by Phire at 1:45 AM on November 14, 2009


How do you make friends with guys? Do the same thing with girls. We're not that different.

Agreed. I have never once in my life dated a guy who approached me like I was something to be dated -- or even engaged in more than one conversation with a guy who seemed only to want to talk to me because of my gender. I have, however, been friends with a great many guys who treated me like their male friends, and then dated and eventually married from that pool of guys.

That doesn't actually make things much easier, though, because it's always a crapshoot whether a stranger, male or female, is interested in the same things you are unless you're at a club meeting or something -- and do join clubs for things you enjoy. I've always bonded with people over video games or books, although a handful of times I made friends with people in my class by being one of the people that would contribute to discussion. I tended to find better friends -- as in, more closely matched to me in personality and interests -- in my philosophy classes and, to a lesser extent, in my government classes. Maybe you have classes that attract people like you? If it doesn't seem that way just yet, wait until you get out of introductory classes -- people take those for more varied reasons -- and things should pick up.

I've found that funny anecdotes help; everyone wants to be your friend when you're funny. If this comes naturally to you and you've just been too shy, then go for it, but otherwise don't try to force it.
posted by Nattie at 2:24 AM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Smile, and also act a little like you know people. Act like you understand them. Without being overly familiar of course. It's not an easy thing to balance, but once you get the hang it's supremely important. Monitor how you emote understanding and familiarity to friends, then monitor by contrast how it is with strangers. Mix in a couple things at a time from your familiar-circumstance mode to stranger-mode and see what fits.

Also, smile. It's weird at first, but you just have to "find" the appropriate level of smiling. Humility, acceptance and understanding in a smile is pretty great.

Be friendly and non-threatening, focus your thoughts on positivity, and just say whatever comes to mind. Clever remarks are not really that well suited to making friends - they do belong in the arsenal, but they're more for engineering relationship dynamics in a group you're already in, like study groups etc.

Also, being shy is OK. If you're shy, you probably hate your shyness as you observe it from the inside, but I've discovered that a reasonable level of shyness is rather attractive in a person - it's a form of humility.

Smile :) It's magic.
posted by krilli at 3:24 AM on November 14, 2009


Read this thread and do the opposite?
posted by Lucinda at 5:37 AM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow OK, I don't agree with pretty much any of the advice here with regards to girls at least. Background: I'm a senior in college, who had rather poor social skills up until a couple of years ago, and since then worked on improving them significantly. I've had good success with girls as well since this shift (to the point that now I'm the one turning them down).

One of the biggest things I've learned is that there's a different way of interacting with a girl you want to be friends with, versus interacting with one you're attracted to and might consider dating. The former is what I see a lot of the above advice aiming at, e.g. act the same as you would with guys. But the latter needs a different approach. Basically, you want to immediately put yourself in the context of a potential romantic partner.

What does this mean? You need to be seen as fun, interesting, flirty, and cool. So your interactions are always flirty, brief, and you come away looking like a cool guy who does fun things and who she's intrigued by. You're not relating to her on a prosaic how-was-your-day basis; that stuff is great for forming friendships and getting to know a person, but not at all for making yourself attractive. Eventually there will be a right moment where you can say "hey so you want to catch coffee some time?" or "oh you haven't seen Firefly? it's amazing, come by my place some time and we can watch it together." And, well, once you get to that stage, it's a different game, but we can save that for a future question ;).

Now, of course, a lot of the time things do develop through friendships first. And honestly, that might be the best thing long-term. But when you're thinking "man, she's cute; I'd like to date her," then the above approach is the way to go. In one instance, it was meet her at lunch and flirt/be cool as above; see her at a party the next night, dancing -> conversation -> Firefly + makeouts back in my room -> girlfriend for the next 5 months.

---

Backing off to the more general question of how to interact with people (not just girls) and make friends, I'd say that deep conversations are somewhat rare, so you have to get good at enjoying the everyday small talk. Again, it's better if this is dynamic, instead of following a how-was-your-day script; conversations should start somewhere prosaic, but immediately jump somewhere fun or interesting. Example: how was your day -> oh I overslept and missed class -> pssh, who goes to class -> haha yeah I know right? that professor's so worthless -> oh but not nearly as bad as my 9th grade bio teacher; let me tell you a funny story -> oh haha that's great! yeah in high school i thought i liked biology but now I don't -> why's that? -> ...

You can kind of see how this might even become one of those "deep conversations" that you're looking for. Indeed, I'd say the primary differentiator here is whether it's a group conversation or a one-on-one. Group conversations will jump topics too fast and people will take turns being funny and getting attention or whatever. And these conversations will be more fun if the right energy is there (e.g. spontaneous high-fives or lots of laughter), so try to be the guy who brings that to the conversation.

---

Finally, I'd suggest the eBook "Conquer Your Campus." I think there are torrents of it, or you can buy it (~$20 I think?). It's basically about how to be a cool, attractive guy in college. Highly recommended.

PM me if you're interested in more; as I said, figuring out this kind of stuff has been a bit of a project for me over the last couple of years.
posted by Jacen Solo at 9:50 AM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is why people party together.

Go out, get a little drunk, smoke a little, make some memories together. Then you'll have something to talk about.

Cheers.
posted by kathrineg at 10:03 AM on November 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Don't overthink it.

Just ask them out on a date.

When it's a good match, you won't have to be anything but yourself.
posted by milinar at 10:07 AM on November 14, 2009


Be aware of your faults, yet comfortable with yourself. Do not act desperate.
Know to pick up on when she's 'just not that into you' so you don't waste your time.

No matter what, don't fall into the pitfalls of "Nice Guy Syndrome": That is, expecting women to go for you simply because you're civil and don't act like a misogynistic gym-bag. Being a shoulder to cry on when her relationship's rocky is not how you start a relationship.

Do you have interests? Do these other people have interests? (they must, unless they're the most boring people in the world.) These are things you can talk to and connect with these people about.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:05 PM on November 14, 2009


One of the biggest things I've learned is that there's a different way of interacting with a girl you want to be friends with, versus interacting with one you're attracted to and might consider dating. The former is what I see a lot of the above advice aiming at, e.g. act the same as you would with guys. But the latter needs a different approach. Basically, you want to immediately put yourself in the context of a potential romantic partner.

Whoa, I'm sorry Jacen, but I am completely put off by anyone that is intentionally acting different around me in order to try to "woo" me -- quick relationship or not.

It''s painfully obvious when this is the case, and if some guy invited me to go back to his place to watch Firefly after seeing me at a party, I'd promptly raise my eyebrows and say thanks but no thanks.

Then I'd probably end up going home and looking at Nathan Fillion pictures all night.
posted by june made him a gemini at 1:58 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was going to post, basically, a commiseration earlier, but decided against it. Out of curiosity, I read about half of Conquer Your Campus. I've read The Game and various other pickup artist manuals*. Douchebaggery. Total douchebaggery. In addition, the "nice guy syndrome" comment above smells a little baggish also, though I don't know exactly what he means.

There's a fine line between trying to get what you want and being manipulative. If you're applying systems and terminology, "diffusing girls' objections," "playing the dominant role," etc. then you've crossed that line. Apparently it works, though, so if being a creepy asshole seems to you to be a fair trade-off to get laid, then go for it I guess.

Everyone says to be yourself, but that doesn't mean very much to me. Who else are you gonna be? I think it's more accurate to say that you should be comfortable with yourself. If you're not then you end up trying to be someone other than yourself (impossible) and that will always come through when you talk to someone. If you're naturally a nice guy, then what's wrong with that? Basically, stop worrying.

To illustrate my point, I searched for the wife of Carl Sagan, who, off the top of my head, is one of the best male role models ever. Oh look! She's gorgeous with a genuine smile and an open face**! I highly doubt that Carl Sagan, a somewhat eccentric and sort of goofy looking guy, was using any kind of pick-up system. R. Crumb is probably a better example. Though probably not the best role model, he's definitely goofy looking and not very "cool," but his wife is very attractive still and there was a time when women would literally travel the world to sleep with him.

*That book was pretty good for other reasons, though. I'd read it as ending up showing how pointless the whole thing was, but apparently Strauss wrote a companion book that specifically was a manual, so whatever.

**I don't know her obviously, but you get the point.
posted by cmoj at 2:52 PM on November 14, 2009


>: In addition, the "nice guy syndrome" comment above smells a little baggish also, though I don't know exactly what he means.

http://xkcd.com/513/
posted by dunkadunc at 2:58 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I highly doubt that Carl Sagan, a somewhat eccentric and sort of goofy looking guy, was using any kind of pick-up system.
I don't think of them as pick-up systems. I think of them as social skills manuals for those of us who aren't so natural at it.

Again, it's not acting like a creepy pick-up guy; it's being a cool, interesting, fun, and flirty guy who engenders attraction instead of just friendship. This is why I recommended Conquer Your Campus and not The Game or Double Your Dating. I agree that there's a fine line. To illustrate:
...and if some guy invited me to go back to his place to watch Firefly after seeing me at a party, I'd promptly raise my eyebrows and say thanks but no thanks.
Sure, that's creepy pick-up stuff; I bet they'd cover it in terms like "numbers game" or whatever. But, if you're hitting it off really well with a girl, have been dancing and flirting all night, and there's clear sexual tension, then this is much more reasonable. Maybe it didn't come through in my original description of the interaction, but I am, in fact, not a total douchebag :P.
posted by Jacen Solo at 4:02 PM on November 14, 2009


Whatever word you choose to frame it, Conquer your Campus is a system, and the "Field Stories," or whatever he called them illustrate a manipulative sociopath. I don't know how you apply this stuff, obviously, but what I read was no different from the Joker system or whatever.

dunkadunc So it's sort of a passive-aggressive mutation of one of these systems. I'd never thought of it that way. I can agree that that's something to be avoided.
posted by cmoj at 5:17 PM on November 14, 2009


cmoj, I'll see your Carl Sagan and raise you Richard Feynman. There's a bit in Surely You're Joking... where he's trying to pick up in a bar and gets some tips from a couple who are there. The context is very 40s, but it's essentially the same advice that the "PUAs" would give you today.

To the OP, go ahead and read The Game and follow up on bits and pieces of the advice therein as takes your fancy. But don't take it too seriously. Eventually you'll realise it's not the specific pickup lines and "patterns" the PUAs detail, they're just tools to get you to understand the "meta", which is all about the being interesting, flirty and fun that Jacen Solo mentions.
posted by m1ndsurfer at 1:08 PM on November 20, 2009


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