“How do I strike up a conversation?”

I got on the bus this morning, and see this absolutely gorgeous woman standing in the aisle. We make eye contact, and (at least I thought) hold it for a split second longer than if it were just an accident. Then, the eye contact happens again, and again with the split second hold. Because I’m a complete chicken, I say nothing and just stand there. However, this bus wasn’t one where anyone was really having a conversation. Everyone, this early in the morning, was just sitting quietly and staring off into the distance, reading, or whatever. We don’t make eye contact again the rest of the ride down. However, a couple of things stick in my head – her green eyes, flawless face, and soft smile (since she was kinda smiling when she looked at me the first time).

Okay, story out of the way. What do I do in that kind of situation – how do I strike up a conversation? Is it really as easy as just saying “Hello” or “Good morning”? I’m kicking myself right now because I said/did nothing.

“Is it really as easy as just saying “Hello” or “Good morning”? ”


But you have to do it right.

Is this the bus you normally take? If not, and you can, take it again until you see her. Put a business card in your pocket where it’s very easy to access.

Assuming you ever see her again, or heck, if you see ANY woman you want to meet:

So other people on the bus don’t talk. The hell with them. You aren’t dancing a jig in your underpants; you are making conversation with a pretty girl. It’s hardly bizarre.

I know this is a bus, not a street corner, so do what you can with the following: You make your way near to her casually and naturally as possible, keeping a respectful physical distance away. Say “Hello, I noticed you before and I wanted to meet you. I’m Gary.” Don’t compliment her at this point because duh, you’re attracted to her, she will know that because what the heck else context do you have? Stating the obvious can come off as ingratiating at best and vaguely sexually threatening at worst. Say something neutral on the order of, “I usually take this route” or “I don’t usually take this route…” “I work at X building…” “I live in X neighborhood…” “This is some weather we are having, huh?”

Make calm polite chit-chat like normal people. Completely nonsexual, nonthreatening and nonintrusive. See if she volunteers any information in response to yours, but try not to ask many personal questions.

10 seconds before your stop, you say, “Here is my card. I’d love to hear from you sometime. It was nice chatting with you. Goodbye.” and BAIL. Leave calmly and confidently and don’t look back.

She will call you or she won’t. But at least you practiced meeting women, you had a nice five minutes of your commute, and you won’t be kicking yourself for doing nothing.

The above can be adapted to almost any situation: hello, chit-chat, card, goodbye, quick exit. If you don’t have business cards yet, get some basic calling cards made. Something to hand to new friends.

Men, you always want to give the woman as much power and control as possible. It makes her feel safer. Err on the side of too much physical space, keep it short and never demand her time, her attention, or her personal info. Demonstrating confidence and sanity, yet keeping it short and respectful will encourage her to get back in touch with you.


About amywinns

Semi-snarky, semi-sincere, occasionally ranting, always paying attention. Feminist who can work a skirt and crack a joke. Grammar nerd who is also fun at parties. Mid-career writer/editor with 15 years’ experience in newspapers & magazines who now helps developers at a major media corporation communicate with the suits who write the checks. Pro-women, pro-family, pro-choice, pro-workingclass, pro-entrepreneur, pro-farmer. Like every other bourgeois Brooklynite, I choose local/organic/raw food — mostly vegetables — whenever possible/reasonable/affordable but I’m not a smug asshole about it. Hometown: Atlanta. Weird hobby: lindy hop. No pets, no kids, no thanks.
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One Response to “How do I strike up a conversation?”

  1. amywinns says:

    Also, I should have put more emphasis on reading her interest level (or lack thereof). This blog goes into terrific detail on this aspect: http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger%E2%80%99s-rapist-or-a-guy%E2%80%99s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/

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