WHAT WE’RE THINKING WHEN YOU APPROACH US (SPOILER ALERT: WE’RE JUDGING YOU.)

When it comes to approaching someone you’re interested in – whether it be at a bar, the gym, the supermarket, whatever – all I have to say is, “I’m so glad I’m not a dude.”

Yes, the art of the approach is a delicate one, gentlemen, and plainly put – it sucks to be you. True, Miss Wingman has schooled you more than once on how to execute this maneuver within certain situations, but it wouldn’t hurt to clue you in to what’s going on in our heads while you’re sweating it out. Consider it a play-by-play analysis, boys – though I suppose I should apologize for the title. It’s not that we’re judging you, per say, it’s more like dissecting. Or…no, wait, info gathering. No…

Oh hell, fine. We’re judging you. And if you’re smart, you’ll beat us at our own game.

The zero hour (i.e. the moment we realize you’re beelining in our direction): There’s an initial second of panic on our end. “Sh*t, is he looking at me? Do I want him to be? How do I look? Do I have anything in my teeth?” and a host of other female neuroses. So don’t worry, you’re not the only one holding your breath. Incidentally, we’re also probably checking to see if your friends are hotter than you, so you might want to leave the Bradley Cooper types at home, bro.

Then we size you up, from the top down. I know it’s harsh, but hey – no one ever said broads weren’t superficial.

Before you even start speaking: We’re looking at your hair – is it combed? Your shirt – is it tucked in and belted? Does it have a wrestling logo on it? (No Tap Out, please.) Is it shiny and tight? Revealing too much chest hair? Hopefully none of the above. Next is your shoes – are they regulation guy footwear? Or something offensive, like Crocs, white dress shoes, mandals (Merrells are the devil), or (gasp!) SWIMS? It might seem ridiculous that girls pay attention to such things, but we do.

When it comes to your appearance, we’re really just looking for clues into who you are, it’s as simple as that. And we’re hoping that who you are isn’t a guy who just robbed an Old Navy.

We’re also checking out your physique (hey, if you can do it so can we), your smile (it’s disarming, and way better than looking nervous), and what you have in your hand – a man’s drink says a lot about him, after all.

In the first 30 seconds: We’re listening to what you say. And if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: no pick up lines, guys. A simple “Hi, I’m _____” will do. Don’t ask us if we know you from somewhere, just tell us who you are and that you wanted to come introduce yourself. A simple “I noticed you” is enough to flatter us – leave the Barney Stinson game at home.

But you still have to have a follow up move, right? So use your resources. If you’re at a bar, offer to buy us a drink (um, not if we have a full one in our hands though, so pay attention.) If you’re at a party, ask how she knows the host. In the park? See if she wants to join your game of frisbee, or use your dog (or hers) to break the ice.

Don’t over-think this part, fellas. You talk to dozens of people every day, just be yourself. And if you’re really struggling, ask us questions – it keeps the pressure to be interesting off of you, and it tells you whether or not you even want to continue talking to this girl anyway.

In the first five minutes: We’re watching your body language. Are you respecting our personal space? Engaging our friends in the conversation? Making eye contact? All of these are a huge thumbs up. If you seem uptight, or worse – check out girls over our shoulder – don’t be surprised if things go south. Another thing we’re praying to avoid? Standing downwind of bad breath, or hearing you any egregious grammatical errors. We’re not expecting you to be Hemingway, but we’re hoping you have at least an 8th grade education.

In the first 10 minutes: If you get that far, and that’s a big “if,” you’re doing well. At this point, if she hasn’t run you off or suddenly had to pee (read: escape to the ladies room or “find her friends”), then you’ve got a solid chance. Remember, women know within the first 10 minutes of meeting you whether or not we’d sleep with you. It’s hardly scientific, but it’s true.

From this point on, the game is yours to lose – meaning, you can really only eff it up if you do something rude or socially awkward. And like I said, if you’ve made it that far without bungling it, chances are strong that you won’t. So it’s a safe bet that we’re wondering when you’re going to ask us for our digits, and hoping that you do. Now is the time to ask when you can see us again. And if you’ve read the tea leaves right, she’ll probably oblige.

Whether you choose to stick it out beyond this point, or make a tasteful exit is up to you, gentlemen. It’s not a bad thing to leave us wanting more. Just remember that even though we may be sizing you up, doesn’t mean we’re not hoping you like what you see, too. And if you have a rough take off or a bumpy landing, no worries. Just call for back up – that’s what wingmen are for.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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THE ART OF THE PICK UP: GYM APPROACH

By now you’re probably all nursing your holiday hangovers and contemplating New Years Eve plans. Add to that the fact that everyone will be hitting the gym to work off those Christmas cookies, and it creates the perfect storm of opportunity for you to chat up that cute girl on the elliptical.

We’ve established that the grocery store is a prime spot for picking up more than just produce, and also that the cold approach is a little…tricky. But the biggest advantage you have in sidling up to any potential gym targets is familiarity – as in, “Haven’t I seen you here before?” Normally that line would leave you dead where you stand, but in these cases, if she recognizes your face or has kept the same fitness habits/schedule, that could actually work in your favor.

As a female who has been privy to gym game before, it helps to put us at ease if we have spent multiple workouts alongside you. We automatically know or assume a few things: A) that you live or work in the neighborhood, which is our ‘hood too, after all, and B) that you’ve seen us at our most unattractive and are still willing to roll up on us anyway – a check mark in the “plus” column for you, as far as I’m concerned. And finally, that you’re most likely single if we haven’t seen a workout partner of the female persuasion with you on a regular basis.

Working against you, however, are two possible scenarios. The first is that many of us feel self-conscious or will have our defenses up if we’re sweaty messes and you’re looking squarely at us, matted-down hair and all. Even girls who get gussied up for the gym eventually have to break a sweat.

The second is that she may just be looking to get her fitness on in a limited amount of time and isn’t trying to get sidetracked by your advances…unless you’re really good looking. A strong rule of thumb is that no girl will rebuff a guy’s advances if he’s exceptionally easy on the eyes, no matter how momentarily unattractive or rushed we may feel. Attention is attention, after all.

The best way to make your approach is to put yourself in her immediate vicinity. Jump on the machine next to hers, post up in the same corner to do your ab workout, whatever – just get in her line of sight so it’s not so random when you begin speaking. Or you could try a well-timed out trip to the water fountain right when she’s headed there, and then step back to allow her to go first (the obvious plus being that you now have an unobstructed view of her posterior – just don’t get caught scoping it out).

What you choose to say could vary anywhere from flattery to curiosity. If you’ve noticed she barely batted an eyelash during her five mile run, ask her if she ran track or ask if she has any pointers for that half-marathon you just signed up for. Did she just put up an impressive amount of weight on those leg presses or show off her speed bag skills? Use those slightly-stronger-than-your-average-female-bear abilities to ask her how she got those skills. She’ll appreciate that you noticed, so long as you don’t do it in a condescending way.

Then there’s the use-what-she-has-on method to strike up a conversation. If she’s rocking a lacrosse T-shirt and you played lax, too, ask her if she played offense or defense. If she’s wearing shorts from a school you’re very familiar with (read: you or a family member went there), ask if it’s her Alma mater, too. PS, you might want to avoid using that tactic if it’s a school that’s been in the news for something scandal-related recently. Penn Staters generally don’t like hearing the name Sandusky, for some odd reason.

If all else fails, ask what she’s listening to and tell her you need some new workout music if she has any suggestions? Sounds lame, but people tend to put some thought into their gym playlists, so maybe she’ll jump at the chance to share her tunes.

Just make sure to avoid these pitfalls: If she has earphones in and you’re trying to talk over it (and she seems oblivious to your attempts – intentionally or not) beg off, lest you embarrass yourself. If she’s running on the treadmill, obviously engaging in conversation is less than ideal, unless she has the breath control of Usain Bolt. And if you signed up for that yoga class just to get closer to her, probably don’t wait until you’re mid-pose to break the ice. There’s nothing more awkward than a fumbled attempt at small talk during a downward-facing dog, unless that’s what you’re into.

Remember to use what you have at your disposal, and pay close attention to her body language and behavior. She won’t appreciate being a captive audience to your advances while she’s doing cardio any more than you’ll enjoy getting brushed off in front of others, trust me.

Even though the gym is one of the harder scenarios for picking up women, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible – unless you skimp on the deodorant, in which case you’re on your own buddy. So just remember to be confident, flex your flirting muscles, and try not to sweat it.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

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