Picture this: two dudes are at a bar, two dudes that are both relatively cool dudes, two agreeable dudes, two dudes that aren’t douchey and don’t use Axe Body Spray and are sufficiently self-aware and concerned with their own and others’ well-being and etc. One of these dudes notices two females at a table nearby and comments that he’s attracted to one of them, and (in jest) that, perhaps, if the conditions were right, he would consider having sex with her. Said dude is single and generally lonely, and his bro feels that this situation calls for some bro-therly advice. “Bro,” he says, laying a heavy hand on his dude’s shoulder and looking him squarely in the eyes. “Grow some balls man. Just go up and talk to her.” The single dude smiles, looks down, considers this for a moment, takes a sip of his beer, and feels alone in the world. “Nah, man… I can’t do it…”
I submit that advising your bro to “just go up and talk to her” a) is a conversation-stopper, b) is alienating, and so c) is basically worthless. Don’t get me wrong — it’s clear that the conscious intent of “just go over there and talk to her” is in no way malicious and definitely represents a sort of stoic attitude that I’m sure has worked well for many individuals in certain aspects of their lives. Basically an iteration of Nike’s “Just Do It” — the concept of not letting your fear dictate your behavior — “just go over there and talk to her” indicates a brave approach to life and a willingness to seek large payoffs by taking large risks. I think, for specific areas of one’s life, this is a great strategy.
But in the case of the scenario written above, I think that advising someone to “just do it” is not valuable, i.e. will probably just make the person who’s been told to “man up” feel even more at odds with the world than he already does and so less inclined to have the “balls” to get up and talk to the pretty girl in the corner. Because maybe it’s not rejection that’s frightening the dude in said scenario. Maybe he’s scared because he doesn’t know what to do when he actually approaches. Maybe this is exacerbated by the fact that he’d feel like a total creep for doing so. This is the era of self-awareness and crippling insecurity; let’s not mistake it for the time before Facebook friend request soft sells and online dating profile pre-introduction.
In other words, maybe our dude a) doesn’t know what to talk to her about, and b) is convinced that this type of behavior is inappropriate. These are not unreasonable thoughts, in this day and age.
Maybe he’s nervous that he’s going to say hi and it’ll go swimmingly for about 15 seconds before it just completely crashes and there’s suddenly nothing for him to say and nothing for her to say. Maybe he’s worried that after the crash he’ll says something really, really stupid like “So, uh, well it seems like we have nothing to talk about” or “Wow this silence is awkward!” to which she’ll respond by rolling her eyes and glancing at her friend knowingly and turning the “shaming” vibes on full blast. And so maybe it’s not as easy as “just going up there and talking to her”; maybe some different advice would be helpful.
Let’s rethink the scenario at the beginning of this piece: Two cool dudes are at a bar. Both are bros; not ‘bro’ bros but like, earnest friends who really like hanging out with each other. One comments on the attractiveness of a nearby female. Bro mentions to dude that dude is single and hey, what do people go to bars for anyways? “I mean, why not just stay at home if you aren’t secretly hoping that you might meet someone tonight?” bro rhetorically asks dude. Dude nods and sees his point. Fifteen minutes of banter and ‘pumping up’ ensue. “Maybe I’ll talk to her,” dude finally says. “After all — you’re right, what are we all doing here, anyways? This is a legitimate move. I’m going to freaking do this.”
Some suggestions: stop telling your bro to “just go over there and talk to her.” Instead, help your bro out with logical information that compels him to take advantage of the situation at hand. Explain that approaching someone he finds attractive at a place where people gather to socialize is completely legitimate behavior. Make him realize that if he really wants to talk to her, has the opportunity to, but never does, odds are he’ll feel worse about himself and his situation than if he had made an attempt to talk to her. In other words, talking to her will result in a) rejection, b) nothing, or c) something, while not talking to her will result in a) nothing and b) regret. Recall that if he acts awkward, it will be awkward. If he acts like this situation is specifically not awkward, it will most likely not be awkward. Impress upon your bro that coming up with conversational topics beforehand is kind of ridiculous; if everyone’s comfortable and receptive and has sufficient social awareness, the conversation will work itself out, so if he finds himself more or less grilling her, it might be time to leave. Finally, ask him how he’s going to get good at this type of thing if he never tries. It’s basically in his best interests.