Appearing normal in this day and age is really hard.
As is talking to other humans.
Putting the two together is like a complicated Mensa puzzle that less than 2% of the population can ever solve.
And if that wasn’t enough, it is infinitely much harder to have a normal conversation with a girl, especially one you like.
Even if you are usually thoughtful, caring, intelligent and have a way with words, put yourself in the near vicinity of an attractive female and you can easily be reduced to a blabbering idiot or someone who wishes they could somehow achieve “blabbering idiot” status.
And guys, I can’t state this strongly enough, but the ability to participate in a normal conversation with a girl is a very important first step if you want things to go somewhere. Plain and simple, if you can’t even string together words to make sentences that she will not only understand but enjoy hearing, you can kiss any chance you may have had at a date or a relationship goodbye.
Yes, that’s correct: If you can’t engage in a normal conversation with a girl you like, you will be single forever.
But don’t worry, help is on its way!
Over time, I’ve become quite the expert conversationalist. I am intimately aware of the pitfalls and the dead ends. I have made the gaffs and put my foot near and in my mouth so many times I could be a yoga teacher who strangely enjoys putting their foot near and in their mouth.
So, with no further adieu, here are the steps to take to have a normal conversation with a girl.
1. Put your best foot forward!
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times — first impressions matter. You could be the emotionally intelligent man of her dreams, but if you look like you were raised by wolves (excluding the increasingly dwindling subset of the female population attracted to wolves), the conversation may end before it begins. So spend some time brushing what needs to be brushed, clip what needs to be clipped, and would it kill you to moisturize something? One word of caution: Don’t smell or look too good or you run the risk of her fainting, hitting her head, and entering into a concussion protocol that you will likely never have the chance to tell you forever-unborn grandchildren about.
2. Practice makes perfect!
Since conversations invariably involve speaking (believe me, do not attempt to converse with her solely using eyebrows and nose wrinkling), you need to practice beforehand. For a week, solely rehearse walking and waving while keeping your balance. Then, to help with enunciation and diction, I suggest starting with a vigorous jaw massage followed by an array of tongue twisters and, when ready, speaking to yourself in the mirror as if you were a pretty girl. Caution: This is a slippery slope, so if you live with roommates, please refrain from kissing your reflection no matter how well the conversation has gone.
3. It’s all in how you move!
You will see each other from across a crowded room, or maybe she will be sitting on a park bench with a friend nearby to “save me if I cough three times.” How you approach her is key. Remember, this is not a duel, you are not a spy, and you should not make her worried that “someone must have cut my breaks.” Take your time, saunter a little, enjoy the moment, but don’t walk so slowly that she either falls asleep or is worried about your executive motor functioning.
4. Baby steps!
Begin with a simple greeting. So many conversations die before they begin because no one says “hi” and the participants just stand around looking confused until a loved one picks them up and takes them for ice cream. I suggest either “hey,” “howdy,” or “hello.” There are more options — other languages, exotic accents, Klingon, mime trapped in a box — but I suggest waiting on those. Physical contact is not suggested at this stage, and that includes: handshakes (this isn’t a business deal), fistbumps (she ain’t your bro or your bruh), or bear hugs (no explanation needed). By no means yelp, no matter how excited you may be. If it helps, imagine she is a jumpy squirrel; however, if this actually helps, consider seeing a therapist immediately.
5. Engage in small talk!
Open with a few neutral comments about benign topics that can not be seen as controversial or offensive in any way whatsoever. Pretend you are talking to someone’s grandmother, as long as that grandmother hasn’t let things go on the manners front because why not. Common safe topics are: the weather, vanilla (though not the potential powderkeg that non-ethical harvesting of organic vanilla is), shoe polish, and the letter “J”. If you do bring up the weather, this is not the time to show off your immense meteorological knowledge. That’s best saved for year 11 of marriage, if you get that far. Remember to feign interest during this stage of small talk, even if it feels like a small part of your soul is being vacuumed through your ears.
6. Ask how she is!
Ask, “how are you today?” and remember, you are actually interested in the answer and not just following boring social customs. This can be achieved by smiling (limit the size and intensity of your smile, as this isn’t an audition) and nodding your head as she speaks (don’t nod more than once every two seconds, as you may become nauseous and she may grow concerned about your long-term neck health). Experts also recommend showing interest by leaning in, but not too far, as very few lasting relationships begin with aggressive headbutts (and those that do have an expectation you will be able to keep this up over time without whining that “it hurts”). If she asks “how are you?” keep your answer to five words or less that in no way addresses the actual question in any real or honest fashion. The reality of how terrible or horrible your feelings/self-worth/existence are should be hidden away and saved for future couples therapy sessions.
7. It’s all about momentum!
As the conversation continues, ask about her work, her hobbies, her family, and her friends in that order. Refrain from bringing up ex-boyfriends, money problems, and especially the intersection of the two. Also avoid potentially “hot button” topics such as: favorite television shows, deporting vegans, embalming, the pros of child labor, and eating mashed root vegetables in the summer months. Your goal, in case you have forgotten, is to appear normal at all times regardless of the cost, while also making her feel smart, funny, and if possible, young and attractive. It is highly suggested to plan some topics of conversation ahead of time you think she will be interested or knowledgeable about. This does not mean you should discuss the contents of her trash that you randomly found yourself searching through last week or her menstrual cycle unless she brings it up first.
8. Keep your eye on the prize!
Warning! Despite your plan to focus solely on her, she will invariably ask you about yourself. Now is not the time to create a diversion (keep those sacks of fake human blood sealed), refuse to answer on the grounds that you may incriminate yourself (there will be plenty of those opportunities later on) or show your vast collection of sock puppets (surprisingly, there really isn’t a time for that — sorry to disappoint). Yes, you don’t want to speak about yourself too much, as you will risk coming across as egotistical and selfish, but this doesn’t mean steadfastly refusing to divulge any personal information at all or else she will report you to the FBI. So, if she asks you questions, briefly answer them in as non-programmed-robot means possible. Whatever you do, don’t allow this to devolve into a therapy session or rant about the government, your dentist, or how annoying geese are. I would also steer clear of why your nose kept bleeding in grade four, how incredibly attractive your aunt is, and notarized positive reviews from past girlfriends of your sexual performances that you carry around just in case. Share enough to pique their interest and keep them coming back for more. You want to appear worldly without seeming otherworldly, and you want to come across as sharp and witty without sounding like a loser and a know-it-all. If this is too challenging, just sound like a loser and own it.
9. Embrace the silence!
Throughout your conversation, there will be some natural lulls. Don’t be afraid of some silence — any shrieks, requests that she “hold you,” or sudden jumps like an on-edge house cat are frowned upon. You also shouldn’t take small periods of silence as cues that you are an absolute failure with the opposite sex and should just give up now and become a eunuch (that’s something to look forward to later on). Attempt to find the positives in silences. For example, when no one is speaking, you can (a) drink some water (because as my dad used to tell me “being dehydrated will not find you a girlfriend”), (b) look off, meaningfully, at the horizon to give the illusion you are thoughtful (this can also be a great pose if she wants to paint your portrait) or (c) gaze into her eyes but not from an ophthalmological point of view.
10. But not too quiet!
There is such a thing as too much silence. Long, awkward periods where no one is doing more than clearing their throat or glancing at their phone are bad unless you’ve previously planned to rehearse some scenes from a silent film she is directing. You need to be ready in case the awkward silence threatens to derail the conversation. So the smart guy prepares a few jokes, a witty observation or two about geo-politics or geoducks, some h’or d’oeuvres, and even some magic tricks (note: do not perform magic tricks).
11. Compliment her!
Women love a good compliment, and it demonstrates you are a caring, sensitive person. But watch out, as this is a potential minefield, as women are pros at taking a well-intentioned compliment and turning it into a “don’t ever talk to me again, you jerk.” Even if she is the most wonderful girl you’ve ever spent time with, don’t lay it on too thick. Overly effusive praise so early in what may be a developing relationship will both set the bar so impossibly high for you making it impossible to keep this standard up as well as setting off her “bullshit detector,” causing her to wonder what you are hiding or not saying (for example: you can’t get her the discount at Best Buy after all and were just being nice). Once this detector is set off, it usually spells the end for whatever this actually is between you.
12. Maintain eye contact!
Constantly looking away will have her thinking you are either bored, have a hard time telling exactly where her voice is originating from, or are much more interested in the nearby cloud formations than her. However, this does not mean you should relentlessly stare at her without blinking for long periods of time, even if you are a veritable pro at staring contests or are an expert at sending Morse Code messages by blinking. You want her to feel at ease, and this will not happen if you appear to be “staring her down” or “making her crack under pressure” or “trying to actually look within her soul.” Finally, when looking into her eyes, aim is paramount. If you miss, she will think something is wrong with her ear or that you are a sicko who is a little too into lower foreheads.
13. Ask follow up questions!
If you really pay attention, she will be constantly dropping gold nuggets of valuable information about herself throughout. And if you are able to ask questions about these nuggets that demonstrate you have not only been listening but also thinking about what she is saying, this will really impress her unless she is badly in need of a bathroom. A well-timed follow up question will impress her to no end, but even if you ask excellent questions, remember this is not an interrogation. You may be a super detective who can point out faults, errors, and incongruities, thus reducing her comments to a pile of shreds when you are done, but, and I must repeat this, she should not be treated as a hostile witness.
14. Play it cool!
If things are going well, you will get excited because you are only human, but you must maintain an even disposition and come across as a reasonably mature adult male who isn’t just now going through puberty. Act like you’ve been there before and that this isn’t your first exposure to a real-life human female in over 6 years. So, take a deep breath and act like you have ice in your veins without drinking copious amounts of ice water beforehand, as shivering throughout the time together may end in her calling 911 out of concerns you have sepsis.
15. Nail the landing!
Finally, it is time to leave, and regardless of how this conversation is ending and what, if anything, is happening next, do not skip, preemptively remove your wig, or high five yourself while leaving—unless you are a whole lot cooler than me, which is definitely within the realm of possibility.