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August 14, 2006 6:37 PM   Subscribe

asking people out on the street in NYC? How successful would I be? (more inside)

I'm a woman, and have come back from yet another disappointing internet date. I don't have single girlfriends to go out with, and my friends don't know any single guys that I haven't met.

I always see attractive men on the street. In fact, I saw one on my way to meet this other guy. I have a good amount of confidence in my physical appearance, and am a social person.

I'm considering making up a dummy gmail account, printing it on some of those free cards, and just going up to attractive men, chatting for a bit, and then handing them the card and asking them if they'd like to have coffee. Is this a good or bad idea? Would it be too bold? Would I seem crazy? Get arrested for solicitation? Has anyone tried this, and should I use an address that incorporates my name or not? Usually in NYC, guys are too shy (or indifferent) to walk up to women, strike up conversation, and then ask for the number (in my experience), so this would sort of help them out and they could email me or not depending on their interest. But would they like it? I'm sick of these tired internet dates.
posted by sweetkid to Human Relations (55 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Personally, I would love it if women did this to me. I've often thought of doing the exact same thing, but always felt like, as a guy, it was much too likely to come across as creepy.
posted by autojack at 6:44 PM on August 14, 2006

If someone handed me a pre-printed card that wasn't an actual business card, the first thing I would suspect would be some kind of scam.
posted by reverendX at 6:45 PM on August 14, 2006

It might work better with a phone number, or writing the email address by hand. Otherwise, this is the best kind of boldness. Go for it.
posted by sixacross at 6:49 PM on August 14, 2006

I too considered doing this, and didn't carry through because I thought it would come off as pushy/creepy. But I am a big creepy looking man, so YMMV.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:50 PM on August 14, 2006

Speaking anecdotally, and as an ex-single man, if my SO hadn't hadn't come up to me at a party and made her intentions perfectly clear, well, the past 8 years would have been considerably different. A lot of us guys aren't so hot at interpreting the signals you women send. That said, the good reverendX makes a good point, you'll want to make sure that there's no comfusion as to what exactly it is you're offereing. A card with an email address could be an honest offer of friendship, escort service, or a multi-level marketer.
posted by lekvar at 6:50 PM on August 14, 2006

Why not do the same thing in a bar? It seems to me that if you'd feel comfortable going up and talking to attractive guys in broad daylight, you'd feel even more comfortable doing so in the setting that's designed for it -- a dark, smoky (ok, it's New York, not smoky) bar, where people are expecting and seeking this kind of encounter. Whether or not you'd be more comfortable, they very well might be.

(Not that I'm saying that your idea is a bad one -- if the guy is receptive, he's going to have his socks flattered off. Though I would maybe skip the card -- like reverendX says, it might send the wrong message. Why not write your phone number longhand on a lot of pieces of paper, so you can still hand them over quickly without looking like you're on some kind of organized campaign?)
posted by tweebiscuit at 6:54 PM on August 14, 2006

I agree that preprinted cards can be ambiguous. Carry a little notebook and a pen around, and write your email address or phone number down when you're ready to give it to the guy. In addition to being less professional (which is good) it seems more spontaneous and maybe he's special and you aren't doing this all the time to everyone you see as part of a survey to answer your own ask.mefi question!
posted by aubilenon at 6:54 PM on August 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is all great. I guess the reason I was thinking of preprinted cards is that i was thinking of really quick moments, like walking down the block next to some guy, and then turning in different directions at the last moment. Standing in line behind someone at the bagel shop. Something where there wouldn't be enough time to have the conversation, decide he likes me, and then give him my number. More of like a "you're cute, call me" scenario.

The reason bars are less likely is that I don't have single girls to go out with, and when I go out with guy friends or couples I'm less likely to break away to do this with people.
posted by sweetkid at 6:59 PM on August 14, 2006

I would never consider it.

Not that you aren't ravishing, but men generally are terrified of insane stalkers.

Some fat fucker might love a pretty girl to come over and talk to him, but in shape normal people with careers, etc. would be hesitant.

There are many maniacal women who just 1. want money 2. want babies and will do/suck/massage anything to get it.

Again, I have no doubt you are a wonderful caring person. But, anonymous street bombs are the tactics of a lesser kind.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:08 PM on August 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

I have no idea how it would be interpreted, but if you really want to have something pre-written that doesn't suggest "multi-level marketing" or "scarm artist," you could fill out some of these ("The Bad Girl's Calling Cards") ahead of time and hand them out. The whole package isn't the same, though, and some cards are more forward than others.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:09 PM on August 14, 2006

-walking up to stranger on STREET in nyc -- easier for woman to do this; if guy does it, immediate suspicion, creepiness. Understandably so; its a big and wierd city. (different situation tho if you're at a party, or even at a restaurant or cafe and happen to be already next to the person).

-would the guy love it? depends on the guy. Plenty of guys I know would be highly suspicious and/or not respect you in the morning. (on the other hand, plenty of guys I know would simply consider it their lucky day and think nothing else of it).

-handing out a fake looking business card: I'd immediately think its a scam. As someone above suggested, writing it out by hand in front of them would be better.

I think your best bet is to get invited to parties as often as possible; in NYC the parties of mutual friends, or extra curricular activity groups, is a good way to meet people in a neutral setting.
posted by jak68 at 7:09 PM on August 14, 2006

don't do it. you will come across as a complete bunny boiler.

better to learn how to strike up conversations, make them feel comfortable and trust you and then casually ask them out for a coffee.
posted by dydecker at 7:10 PM on August 14, 2006

This is all great. I guess the reason I was thinking of preprinted cards is that i was thinking of really quick moments, like walking down the block next to some guy, and then turning in different directions at the last moment.

I agree with others above. Dont preprint the cards. Write them out by hand beforehand if you like with your name and number. When you do hand it to the guy, he'll just assume you saw him earlier, quickly went off to write down your number and then came back to approach him.

Even guys want to think they're special and preprinted cards say the opposite of that. The point is not to come across like you do this all the time. Instead, shy and awkward is fine. The guy wil be immensely flattered.
posted by vacapinta at 7:11 PM on August 14, 2006

I think your solution would, unfortunately, lead to a lot more unfortunate dates. I live in NYC, and would be thrilled at the gesture, but would have no idea where to respond from there. I don't know anything about you, really, except that you thought that I was hot enough to give a card to.

I agree that if you can do this on the street, you can approach guys in bars, or at the gym, or in church, or at a siminar, or in a class, or at a coffeeshop, on in any of a thousand places better suited to actually striking up a conversation without having to deal with the trouble of the first date to see what you think.

By your solution, I think, what you'd get would be guys wou'd decided that they'd like to fuck you, and who knew nothing else except that, by virtue of your approach, you're game. Aside from the obvious potential danger of that, you're setting yourself up for dissapointment.

Instead, go to the places you like to go. Talk to the hot guys there, since you're feeling so bold. Your approach will be just as flattering, and you'll save yourself a lot of worries on the possible date. Plus, if it works, and you move forward through the marriage-kids-old-age-and-death, at least you'll have a better story to tell your grand-kids than, "I was handing out my e-mail address to every hot guy I saw on the street."
posted by Navelgazer at 7:12 PM on August 14, 2006

No on the preprinted card.

Yes on the chatting up men. Some oddballs may find it so flabbergastingly unusual that they'll freak out. But a sizable number of men, a vast majority of those I know, dream of a world where women actually take the initiative if they are so inclined. I don't know who keeps propagating the myth that most men actually like having to initiate every relationship when the odds, generally speaking, are never in their favor.
posted by drpynchon at 7:17 PM on August 14, 2006

My guess is that most of the guys would think you were a little weird, but they'd call/email you anyway.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:20 PM on August 14, 2006

I think this will work pretty well, assuming you 're primarily interested in meeting hot guys who are into you because of your looks.

I know that sounds snarky, but it's my honest assessment.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 7:33 PM on August 14, 2006

Response by poster: I know the men are judging me on my appearance, so why shouldn't I do the same? There should be mutual attraction.
posted by sweetkid at 7:37 PM on August 14, 2006

A pre-printed card says, "I'm handing out pre-printed cards with my phone number to lots of guys besides yourself."

It also says, "I don't have time to talk to you, but I think you're hot. I know nothing more about you than that, but since I'm the sort of shallow person who hands out her number to complete strangers just because they're hot, here's your big chance to go through all the effort-part of getting to know me."

It's kind of like a salesman coming up to you on the street and telling you that you want to buy something. No, no I don't. If I did want to buy something, I would have approached you instead. This is almost precisely what bars were made for. Well... that, and getting drunk.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:45 PM on August 14, 2006

Yeah, you'll sleep with a lot of guys that way -- but I don't know how many would actually date you. Try at least to keep it indoors, like strike up the conversation with someone in line when you're getting something to eat, to return videos, anything besides "Hi, would you date me? Here's my g-mail address." Unless you're being so picky about attractive guys that the odds of you running into one in an enclosed environment versus one where the turnover and flow is incredibly high (i.e. the street). I mean my god, I would say 1 in 20 guys at any given place has to at least be above an 8.
posted by geoff. at 7:47 PM on August 14, 2006

There's nothing wrong about first impressions that are based primarily on looks, but looks do not a relationship make and your approach is a bright red stop sign about everything except your looks (IMO).

As much as I might be flattered if a women did this as I was walking down the street, the pre-printed cards and so-called spontaneity make it come across as desperate or some kind of scam. The guys that will respond to that are probably not the types that you would want to date anyway (and again, this is my opinion).

Why not find other outlets for meeting people? Besides the internet, there are a lot of singles outlets that do not carry the "entourage" effect that bars etc. require. For instance, book clubs, gallery tours, cooking classes, continuing education courses, community sport clubs etc.
posted by purephase at 7:55 PM on August 14, 2006

There's also the "this is so unusual it must be a scam" angle to consider.
posted by smackfu at 7:56 PM on August 14, 2006

I don't think there's anything "wrong" with doing this. I don't know whether you'll get better results than what you're currently doing but if you're prepared to deal with the possibility that it will be a complete failure then go ahead and give it a try.

But I definitely agree on no pre-printed cards -- you can prepare post-it notes with handwritten e-mail addresses almost as quickly, but they don't give away that you've made more than one :-)
posted by winston at 7:56 PM on August 14, 2006

business cards no way.

meeting on the street-possibly but i think a long shot and i'd be a little wierded out more often than not.

meeting in a normal place for encounters like a bar, coffee shop, long line, party - definitely. give the number by cell phone or hand written.

It sounded like you were up for going to a bar but the stumbling block was no single girl friends. Wouldn't any of them be up for just going out without their boyfriend/husband?

I wouldn't call back someone who just gave me their number and that was it (barring some exceptional circumstance). I'd want to talk to her for at least a minute to get to know her a little. Looks are important but not the only thing. (see all the comments above about mens fears of crazy stalkers).
posted by bangitliketmac at 7:58 PM on August 14, 2006

Pre-printed card == bad idea.

The rest is fine. I've been asked out by strangers on the street or cashiers/waitresses and am always delighted, even when they're not my type. Just write your gmail address on a piece of paper and give it to them or get theirs.

As for those "no time" moments--just remember that that extra 30 seconds could change your life. Pause, be sincere, ask nice.
posted by dobbs at 7:59 PM on August 14, 2006

You know, if you take the extra fifteen seconds to jot down your email address after you approach him, then you get an extra fifteen seconds of flirt time with the fella. Those seconds when you are writing but smiling up (bonus points if you are looking up archly over the edge of sexy-librarian glasses) are priceless. Seems like a good trade-off to me.
posted by Elsa at 8:11 PM on August 14, 2006

Also, although the gender roles are flipped, this thread might be of interest.
posted by Elsa at 8:21 PM on August 14, 2006

Personally, I'd go for the email address written on a guy's hand method. Totally hot (says my best male friend who is sitting next to me).

note: i just got back from a truly awesome internet date with a super cute guy. they ARE out there, really.
posted by echo0720 at 8:22 PM on August 14, 2006

Response by poster: That link Elsa offered is pretty interesting. Doesn't look like too many people in that thread thought the guy would come off as shallow or slutty, just creepy. It seems like gender roles make a big difference. Anyway, looks like printed cards are a bad idea, totally see why. I do think what I am talking about is more along the line of following through on casual encounters with people who seem interesting, not just trying to bang someone hot. It's still pretty tricky to pull off.
posted by sweetkid at 8:29 PM on August 14, 2006

As a thirtysomething guy, I say I'd be least intimidated by a completely-handwritten phone number or E-mail and a slightly flirtatious but respectful demeanor. Since it's so rare that women take the initiative I agree that pre-printed stuff would set off warning bells for MLM/escort/services/etc (not to mention giving the idea that lots of other guys are getting the cards). But slight self-deprecation, smiles, and a sense of humor would really break the ice.
posted by rolypolyman at 8:52 PM on August 14, 2006

I think a handwritten note would be a fantastic thing, and what is New York City about, if not the fact that you can fall in love every day on the subway with a new person? When I was single, I'd have swooned for a woman who did this, if it seemed sincere and not manufactured.
posted by anildash at 9:02 PM on August 14, 2006

I'm not speaking as a New Yorker, but I think your experiment would come off as weird and you'd seem a little unhinged. The men who would respond favorably might end up being the worst of the men you approach. Many decent, well-balanced guys might be put off by your boldness; they'd naturally wonder if your way of approaching men is a sign of pathological promiscuity; and they'd possibly even suspect you of being a sociopath.

Men value looks, to be sure, but in my experience, most of us would much rather have a normal, average-looking woman than a hot-looking, but impulsive and crazy woman, any day. And lots of guys might steer clear of someone passed out these cards, thinking it's a sign of craziness.

I damn sure wouldn't call you. But maybe I'm just generalizing my own hyper-suspicious mindset to everybody else. And maybe in New York this kind of stuff would be more accepted.
posted by jayder at 9:18 PM on August 14, 2006

I agree with bangitliketmac - I don't see how having no single girl friends is an obstacle to going out. Surely some of them would come out with you if you planned a girl's night out. Or you could go in a mixed group. Or you could go by yourself.

Going to a bar by oneself is a very difficult thing to do if you're shy. It requires you to be able to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger or else you will be quiet and alone and that's very uncomfortable in a bar. However, you claim to be social and it's really not that different from the experiment you propose. Wander in, sit down at the bar next to a guy you like the look of, order a drink, and say hi. Or just sit by yourself for a while - someone will come up and say hi to you soon enough. Next time you're in a bar, look around. You might be surprised how many men and women are there by themselves.

In any case, in response to your question - I might be mildly creeped out if a girl just stopped me on the street and asked me out, but I would probably say yes anyway. however if a girl started talking to me in a bar I would be much more receptive.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:19 PM on August 14, 2006

I know the men are judging me on my appearance, so why shouldn't I do the same? There should be mutual attraction.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it. I mean, if you just want some hot guy to fuck, it'll work out great.

And I know, that's what a lot of people want. But those people are unlikely to post your AskMe, so I'm sort of guessing you might want more.

If you want somebody who has things and stuff in common with you, it seems like a flawed strategy.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 9:48 PM on August 14, 2006

(and for what it's worth, if you did this to me, I would be evaluating you as a sex partner only, because well... obviously you just dig my body, so you're probably gunna be easy.)
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 9:50 PM on August 14, 2006

Yeah, I've always wanted to do that preprinted card thing.

...what's your sign?

(But seriously. I would certainly voice your feelings, and then be prepared to hand out something that functions more like a business card than a Love Coupon.)
posted by thejoshu at 10:57 PM on August 14, 2006

TAPG just reinforced my previous thoughts, but I'll go further.

You live in New York, which, despite it's images, is one of the friendliest places on earth.

If you drink, and are feeling as bold as you do, go out to the bar. I'm a guy, and I'll often head out alone if I'm in the area for an hour or so before my friends are, or if I just want to sit down with a good book and don't feel like heading back to Brooklyn (I hate coffeeshops, and love beer.) Yet even with my noticable lack of breasts, I'll inevitably be brought into someone's conversation, half the time with men (GFs on their arm) buying me their next round.

If your problem is meeting new people in New York City, then you're either spending too much time at home (an easy thing to do, to be sure) or else you aren't engaging with the tons of people who approach you every day.

On any given night in New York (particularly on a weekend) a person who's out on the town will likely run into two dozen of their friends, and given the variety of people, those friends will all be unique.

Go out to a bar, like Revival or Shades of Green if you're near Union Square (if not, I can offer better locations) and let yourself get drawn into a nearby conversation. All it takes is hearing something that you can comment on and turning around to say your thing. The person you overheard will be overjoyed - hell, this is why he/she came out anyway, to be social.

Even if you aren't into any of the guys in the group (you very well may not be) see if you can continue on with them through their night. You can go home whenever you want to, and you can expand your group of friends (read: party-hosts) exponentially. And chances are that you'll meet somebody you can be into from that group of friends. And if nothing else, you'll have an interesting evening that you wouldn't have had on your own.

Seriously, I've picked up a successful, name actress doing this on the fly. And it's a far less threatening (and more rewarding) way to show off your boldness than spamming on the street.

Think of it as selling yourself. DO you really want to use the same technique as Flashdancers?
posted by Navelgazer at 11:03 PM on August 14, 2006

In my more adventurous single days I would think this was pretty cool (on the off chance I fit your particular idea of hot). But the pre-printed thing would seem odd, once the "hey, this hot girl came to talk to me out of nowhere" glow faded away. So you shouldn't do that.

But I think you shouldn't be afraid to approach someone just because you think they're cute. It's fun and spontaneous and some would work out and some wouldn't. Be careful, of course, but I think it'd be perfectly fine for you to meet some equally spontaneous guy out for coffee or a drink.

[Full disclosure: New York heterosexual male, but going on six years not single]
posted by lackutrol at 11:06 PM on August 14, 2006

Who needs a number? I sense a slight emphasis on dating, courtship, ritual--this is fine, but not particularly gratifying. And it sets up an interview-type feeling. If you're looking for someone to show off to friends and family, that is the way to do it.

If, by contrast, you want to get to know people who appeal to you, it's best if you feel unburdened by expectations and outcome-dependence. You'll be more able to connect if you feel free, relaxed, maybe a little goofy. You're appealing, they're appealing, there's soomething in the air.

So, how about the immediate date? Meet, chat say "I'm going for coffee now. You?"

You're funny. Coffee should give you home field advantage.

(Keep the drink order simple.)

You'll feel as though you have some history together if you see each other in more than one context, even if it's in the same day. Walking in somewhere together is a unifying experience. After coffee, if the chemistry is there, it will be perfectly natural and non-awkward for one or the other to suggest meeting again.

Otherwise, the line "Do you mind if I give you my number" works fine, if you strike the right note of, uh, bemused optimistic indifferent curiosity.
posted by Phred182 at 12:29 AM on August 15, 2006

but men generally are terrified of insane stalkers. Some fat fucker might love a pretty girl to come over and talk to him, but in shape normal people with careers, etc. would be hesitant

I disagree, based on a scientific study of a sample of me :-)
Sure, I guess some men might be terrified of stalkers, simply because people are a mixed bunch. Most men I know, including the most eligible ones, would bite without much hesitation if the attraction was mutual (and assuming the cards were not pre-printed). With internet dating fairly normal these days, protection against stalking comes built-in to dating culture, so it's not something we need to worry about - she doesn't get to know enough to stalk you until you give her enough information to stalk you. I have confidence in my judgement on these matters, and I will deal with the consequences if I err in my judgement.

So, I think it's worth doing - if you are an attractive women, it signals assertiveness, not slutishness. (Assuming there are NOT pre-printed cards! :-) Assertiveness isn't what everyone is looking for (people are a mixed bag), but it's a good thing, and more importantly, it's what your future boyfriend/husband is looking for :)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:33 AM on August 15, 2006

Single people are buzzing through the world like comets through space. The only way you'll collide is through fate (not very dependable) or putting yourself into someone's orbit. Go for it, but be safe!
posted by DZ-015 at 4:32 AM on August 15, 2006

It's always in the sales pitch, even for women. If I was approached by you and you gushed, "OMG! You are the man of my dreams, here is my card!!!!", I would definitely cross to the other side of the street.
posted by JJ86 at 5:59 AM on August 15, 2006

Sounds like it may be a problem in NYC, but I'd do it anyways. It wouldn't even raise an eyebrow down here in the South. Some of us even have a thing for assertive northeastern women.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:51 AM on August 15, 2006

You're going to end up with a lot of guys with girlfriends or wives. They're going to think you're easy and you've done half the work for then (not that you are, it's what some will think).

I know the men are judging me on my appearance, so why shouldn't I do the same? There should be mutual attraction.
posted by sweetkid

A lot of these men are going to call you no matter if they're attracted to you or not.
posted by justgary at 6:54 AM on August 15, 2006

It sounds to me like you don't need the card really, but if you have it it sounds like you'll feel more confident about approaching strangers. Go ahead have a few printed up and see what kind of conversations you start.
posted by Sara Anne at 7:56 AM on August 15, 2006

The wide range of reactions on this thread should give you enough evidence of the wide range in personality type. Some people will freak, some will think it's totally hot. Just go for it and see what happens. Just make sure you give yourself a realistic success rate (for guys it's about 10%, I suspect for engaging, attarctive women it could be higher).

I'd suggest sticking with a handwritten email address as opposed to a phone number. (I think it's a lot easier to filter out creeps when reading email). Maybe you should just carry around blank precut business card stock. Easier to stick in a wallet and keep track of than scrunched up notebook paper.

Best of luck.
posted by perelman at 8:46 AM on August 15, 2006

This is what Craigslist's Missed Connections is for. Sweetkid, you could make sure you're wearing something easily describeable (shirt that says something, bright green bag) or try to have a tiny exchange with each of these cute guys (what time is it/where's the nearest ___ store) and then post about it on Missed Connections with your email address for followups, or just keep an eye on that page for them to post about you.

Also, if the idea of passing notes is particularly fun to you, go to the Quiet Party (there's one next week). It's a young crowd and the notes can be hilarious.
posted by xo at 9:30 AM on August 15, 2006

Great...now every time I'm walking down the street on the way to the subway I'm going to be eyeing every girl I see wondering if she's you and wondering if I would rate getting a card.
posted by spicynuts at 10:13 AM on August 15, 2006

You could start by including one of those email accounts in your profile at Metafilter. This thread is bound to attract some attention and I would put a Mefi ahead of a non-Mefi. Mostly.
posted by geekyguy at 4:44 PM on August 15, 2006

Do you have a business card that you could hand them? (Or, alternatively, you could make up a side business, that's unsuccessful, but still needs cards.) People exchange business cards all the time, and it's not considered strange at all.

I know a freelancer who has a lot of different skills, so his business card is just his name, phone number and URL. The card has a lot of white space (blank on the other side), and depending on the situation, he writes a different title for himself underneath. You could do the same. After a bit of conversation, take out a card and on the back, write "You're cute! Call me!" Then, hand them the card and run off to catch a train or a taxi or what have you.
posted by hooray at 8:25 PM on August 15, 2006

You might consider writing both your phone number and an address for your profile on a social networking site (i'd recommend friendster over myspace, as there tends to be a 'higher class' of person, i.e. fewer 22 year olds in their underwear on the former). That way, the guy has a chance to see a bit more about you before deciding whether to follow through.

At this point, a Friendster/MySpace friend is such a low-level social interaction for most that most guys wouldn't think twice about at least checking you out.

Of course, that probably decreases as the age of the participant increases.
posted by softlord at 6:09 AM on August 16, 2006

Yeah I would second what geekyguy said.
posted by spicynuts at 8:28 AM on August 16, 2006

I know a guy that did the card thing and he's now happily married to someone that some would say is...too good for him appearance-wise.
If it can work for a guy in NYC, it can work for a woman.
posted by Furious Fitness at 3:41 PM on August 16, 2006

Does it really matter if the guy thinks your weird? So what? He's random street dude; it's not like you're going to see him again. Some guys will think it's weird, and you won't ever see them again. On the other hand, other guys might be thrilled, and those are the guys you'll get to meet.
posted by bananafish at 10:58 PM on August 19, 2006

What can I say? Try it out!

Just be wary of giving your info out to random guys, might be a stalker here and there.
posted by DanTolumbro at 10:03 PM on November 24, 2006

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