Alone in a new city, working full time and working on my doctorate (full time), I find myself restless for human contact. As I load my messenger bag and empty coffee mug into my car one Saturday after class, all I want to do is go home, put on sweats, order takeout, and watch bad reality TV. But as I drive away from campus, I picture the night unfolding this way and realize that staying home alone (again) is not going to get me closer to meeting new people. Plus, after a particularly brutal stats class, I could use some blowing off steam, I decide. And so, I pull into the mall parking lot, buy a $10 long sleeve shirt at H&M, put on some lipstick and drag my tired ass out to a lesbian event.
From the moment I walk in, I’m certain I made the right choice. I breathe a sigh of relief. The small bar is jam-packed with women – cute women. As I make my way past the overflowing dance floor toward the back patio, I am caught off guard when women begin talking to and hitting on me. For a moment, I’m both shocked and overwhelmed by the attention. Suddenly self-conscious, I need a drink, I decide. And I turn and make my way to one end of the long bar. After I stand there a few minutes, unable to get the bartender’s attention, I realize that one of the women who flirted with me is ordering drinks at the opposite end of the bar. She is actually getting served. It hits me then that this is the perfect opportunity for a girl to hit on another girl.
I realize that the first step in hitting on women is to find an access point, or an opportunity to talk to her.
1) Look for access points
The bar (no pun intended) is pretty low when it comes to hitting on women – we literally only have to be polite and sincere. Players know this, which is why it’s a numbers game to them. Eventually someone will flirt back.
I consider sending over a drink to the other end of the bar. But to my dismay, despite standing up taller, on tip toes, I cannot get the bartender to come anywhere near me. And I realize this is an opportunity for the woman at the other end of the bar as well. A girl standing alone at the end of a bar, waiting to order a drink. Not getting served. If I’m the girl getting served, it’s an easy in – send her a drink . And still, this is not how it goes down. Instead, I stand there for 20 more minutes, until the bartender, who I’ve concluded thinks I look like her ex girlfriend’s new girlfriend, finally saunters over and I get a beer. While I don’t need a girl to buy me a drink, I recognize that it’s situations like this one that are access points, or opportunities to cross that imaginary barrier between saying hi to a girl and talking to her long enough to get her number.
Later, a girl walks past me, turns around, walks right up to me, looks me in the eyes and tells me, “You’re beautiful.” This stops me in my tracks for a moment and I mumble an embarrassed, thank you. I look down at the floor and back up again to find her still looking at me. She continues, “I just wanted you to know that”. At that, she turns, and walks away.
2) Put yourself out there
Unfortunately, we women don’t hit on other women very often. And when we finally work up the courage after 3 shots of tequila, the delivery can be a little loud, a little inappropriate, and a little forward. And so, someone has to make the choice to put themselves out there and initiate movement.
As I watch her go it occurs to me that she did what no one does – she approached a stranger and gave her a compliment without asking for anything in return. I admire her guts. Even if a girl isn’t looking to date or you’re not her type, everyone appreciates a compliment and the courage it takes to approach a woman.
And so, I walk right up to her, tap her on the shoulder and offer to buy her a drink. In the end, we wind up laughing and dancing our asses off until the wee hours of the morning. Dating wasn’t in the cards for us, but we had fun and I smiled more that night than I had in a really, really long time.
A few weeks later, I find myself standing in a small crowd of women at a wine bar Meetup. As the night unfolds and I alternate between ordering wine and making my way around the bar to chat, I notice that the women I’m meeting fall into 2 categories: those who are paying attention and those who are not. The lovely ladies in the paying attention group are making eye contact while we’re chatting, listening as much as they are sharing about themselves, and noticing social cues. The ladies in the not paying attention group are often looking around the room as we speak, as if maybe there’s a better option on the other side of the bar. They talk nonstop about themselves, without really asking anything about me or answering my follow up questions, which I interject to be polite until I realize there’s no listening happening. In those moments, I’m tempted to say something outrageous, like,
“I have 12 cats and believe in scientology”. Or something. The most awkward moments, though are the ones that in not noticing social cues, the conversations become painful. At one point, I physically remove a woman’s hand from my knee. Another time, I politely walk away from a woman leaning in a little too close who is not noticing that I keep stepping backwards.
3) Pay attention
Social skills, like many things in life, exist on a spectrum. Hitting on women isn’t reserved for the extroverted. It’s okay to nervous, shy, or unsure. I think where paying attention goes sideways when it comes to hitting on women is in the blatant ignoring of social cues. For example, flirting with a woman verbally and seeing how she responds is a good precursor to leaning in closely or touching her. I think as lesbians we get it mixed up at times and think that if a woman is talking to us it’s a green light. Flirting is like dating – there are stages, and they can’t be rushed.
As the evening winds down, I find myself losing track of time in conversation with a woman who is paying attention. I am enjoying chatting with her so much that I forget to close my tab. I ask her what she does. She talks about her job, I ask questions, she answers them. We maintain eye contact, navigating out of the way when women squeeze past us through the crowd or when we’re interrupted with a hug goodbye from someone exiting. She asks me what I do. I answer and she asks questions and appears to listen. We exchange numbers and agree to meet up another time.
As I drive home, I shake my head at the recognition that hitting on women successfully begins with looking for an access point and ends with basically trying not to be inappropriate. My next thought is that perhaps it is in fear of being inappropriate that we don’t initiate movement and hit on each other in the first place. I sigh. I don’t really know why it feels so complicated – hitting on each other. What I do know, is that when it’s done poorly, you feel over sexualized. When it’s done well, though, why that’s the stuff good stories are made of.
I believe we are all better when we can learn from each other. If you’d like to share, post a comment below or email me. I’d love to hear from you! Want more dating musings? Subscribe to my weekly newsletter here.
Kim Baker is an educator, freelance writer, and blogger whose writing explores lesbian dating in the digital age. Drawing on 20 years of dating, she redefines dating through the lens of mindfulness and connection. Kim is writing a dating book that offers a healthy approach to dating, beginning with self-care. Follow Kim on Twitter: @sdwriter girl, or visit her website: www.sdwritergirl.com.