“But If I Can’t Buy You A Coffee, How Will Our Species Reproduce?”: How To Hit On Women
When I wrote my essay about buying coffee as a metaphor for sexual harassment, men started asking: “Well, what do I do if I can’t hit on women? Do you expect me to live my life in a closet, wandering alone through my tie racks forever? Why, if no man ever approached women, our species would go extinct!”
The panic is understandable, to some extent. It’s scary meeting new people, let alone asking them out on a date. There’s a lot of upsides to being a guy in modern society, but one of the downsides is that you’re expected to take the initiative when it comes to asking someone out on a date – which is pretty fucking scary. It’s like going on a job interview, except they’re not rejecting your work experience, they’re looking right at you and going, “No, you suck, go away.” I’ve had women friends who had to start asking out strangers for various reasons, and their reaction was invariably, “My God, how do men do this? This sucks.”
But you know how you don’t approach it? By treating it like you’re doing the woman a favor.
The overall reaction from men is a whiny, “But I’m being nice!” No, sir, you are not. You’re buying a coffee to try to get in her pants. The whole “What a nice guy I am!” aspect makes it easier for you to approach an intimidating situation, but let’s not romanticize this moment. You’re not paying a compliment to that old, unattractive woman, or sharing your love of Terry Pratchett books with that dude over there. You’re trying to buy five minutes of a cute woman’s time via a combination of guilt and gift-giving. Jeez, what a prince you are!
If you gotta, you gotta. And there are places that’s likely to be well-received. If you’re at a singles bar and the girl is alone, well, chances are good that she may actually want that drink. But the trick is understanding that this is in no way a compliment. It’s a strategy.
And if you spam that attack like somebody using Ken’s fireball in Street Fighter II, people are likely to hate you.
Look, if the girl is so attractive that you just have to snag this opportunity at this very moment, then so be it. But acknowledge you’re being selfish. You’re saying “She’s so pretty, I have to go bother her at this very instant on the off-hand chance that she’s into me.” And maybe she likes your looks and you’ll click. Synchronicity happens.
But think carefully, chum. The odds are good that she’s not going to respond well. And if you keep bugging women just because they happen to be within eyesight, then you send the none-too-subtle message that “A woman showing up in public means that she’s fair game.” Which means she’s not a person, but an antelope in a game preserve.
There are those who think you should never ever approach a stranger in public; I’m not one of them. But if you take the attitude of, “Hey, anything could happen, might as well take my shot,” then you are being a dick to women. What you should do is size up the situation: is this a space conducive to strangers talking to each other? Does she look involved in something else? Does her body language say she’s receptive? Would this friendly approach look threatening if she had no clue as to your intent? (Because despite your peppy smile, she does not.)
If all of those clues don’t add up, then fucking walk away. Give her the privilege of being a person, and not some slot machine for you to take your shot at.
And even if you’re really nice about it, recognize that hundreds of men have done this before, and this may not go over well. If she rejects you coldly, she is not a bitch. That’s on you, chum. You took a shot, knowing full well you might irritate her, and lo you got exactly what you deserved. Don’t tell yourself the story that “I was just trying to buy her a present!” because you were not. You were bothering a woman in a clear attempt to get something from her.
As I said, I don’t think you should never approach a stranger in public. But I think you should carefully consider it, because some people do think you should never approach a stranger in public, and the rest usually don’t like to be bothered. So the hitting on people should be a rarity, that time when all the planets align.
Will the human race die out without your botheration? Well, maybe it would have in the past, but now there’s this thing called “OKCupid,” where like-minded people can specifically search each other out for romance. While I appreciate your concern for the future of humanity, I’m pretty sure we’ll find a way to get by if you don’t call out, “Hey, you so beautiful!” on the street corner.
We’ll get by. So it’s okay for you to be quiet. Really.