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Tuesday, April 18, 2006


‘When you get a ‘no’ get happy’, someone said to me years ago, when I worked in sales. The idea being, that every rejection you experience brings you closer to acceptance; for every person that turns you down, you’ll get nearer to the one that says ‘yes’ to you.

The same can be applied to chatting someone up I think.

For years I have worked with this philosophy, since when it comes to dating or sex, it’s usually me who puts myself on the line, doing the equivalent of the cold-call. Men almost never approach me - I rarely get chatted up; to make advances in my love/sex life, I've had to rely almost wholly on my plucking up the courage to go and talk to a bloke.

I occasionally question why men don’t approach me instead; though I’m no supermodel, I reckon I’m OK in the beauty stakes, so surely some men find me attractive enough to want to take the initiative with me? Or perhaps it's not only about looks.

I questioned my friend JN about this a while ago, on one of our evenings spent moaning about our sex lives. ‘I want you to watch me as I go to buy us more drinks’ I told him. ‘Tell me what you notice; I'd like to know if any men check me out’.

He agreed and I sauntered to the long bar, ordered our drinks and tried to look relaxed amongst the thirty-something dressed-up crowd. A few minutes later, cocktails in hand, I made my way back to our seats.

‘Well?’ I asked, ‘anything?’

JN nodded. ‘Yup. About five blokes checked you out.’

I was stunned that so many might have shown interest. But I didn’t believe him till he pointed each one out to me. ‘Why didn’t any of them approach me? Is my hair a mess? Am I showing too much or too little cleavage?’

JN shook his head. ‘You look great; it’s not about that. The problem is how you carry yourself. You look too confident.’

Not the first time I have heard this, I sat there in silence and waited for JN to continue.

‘You see, that makes you unapproachable: most guys are intimidated by women who look so at ease as you do. Even the way you walked to the bar, you seemed like you owned the place. It's scary for a bloke to deal with that - far easier to talk to the timid-looking girl sitting by the door.’

‘But I wasn’t confident’ I pleaded. ‘Actually I felt very self-conscious and couldn’t wait to get back to my seat.’

‘You carry off your insecurity well then: you looked like you literally oozed self-assuredness.’

‘What am I supposed to do?’ I asked him, exasperated. ‘Pretend to be all meek and shy? Will that make guys approach me?’

JN shook his head again. ‘Nah, you’d just come over like a twit: that's just not you. Be yourself and do what you do; eventually you’ll meet a bloke who sees through all that.’

I looked down at the table. ‘And if I don’t?’

JN took a gulp of his cocktail. ‘And if you don’t, then just continue to chat guys up; with your personality and prettiness you’ll always pull.’

And of course, he had a point: of all the boyfriends/dates/shags I have had over the years, I’d say a good 95% of them were instigated by me. Clearly something about me, or something I do, works: so to coin another cliché, ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?’

But I don’t always have success from my approaches – far from it. I have had more face-to-face rejections than I can count; I have given out scores of scraps of paper with my number on and never been called back; typed tons of ignored emails; sent dozens of unanswered text messages – being turned down is something I am used to and accept as part of the course of being single. Let’s face it, if I was upset by every rejection I have ever had, (and there have been many) I would be a quivering wreck by now (and never get laid) which clearly is not the way to go.

Still, sometimes the snubs I get do affect me. I'm not as strong as I think I am and so take to heart the unreturned calls, the delays in replying to my invitations to meet, the excuses offered up by way of avoidance; I begin to question my approach to men: am I perhaps too aggressive? too forward? too honest?

Occasionally I wish that just once, some nice bloke would approach me and talk to me. Not some foot fetishist, or some arsehole wanting to tell me what great tits I have; but instead, some normal guy who thinks ‘she looks interesting, I want to go and talk to her and find out what makes her tick’.

And you know what they’d find out? That I am not as confident as I appear; that political issues and movies fire me up; and that I’m a hippie at heart, believing that ‘all we need is love’ and the world would be a better place. (Of course they’d also discover that I have a high sex drive, am interested in group sex and that given the chance to be spanked, I wouldn’t say no). (If they chatted to me for more than an hour, that is).

And right now – even though I'm sure that with the amout of ‘no’s’ I have had recently, I must be closer to that ‘yes’ I so wish for – I would love for a guy to make the move on me and initiate things.

So to all the decent men out there, if you see a thirty-something woman in a London bar and she seems to exude confidence and flirtatiousness, please understand how much she'd appreciate it if you could just look past that, swallow your shyness and find a way to talk to her.

Because it may just be me saying ‘yes’ to you.

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