JUST WING IT: WINGMAN PROTOCOL FROM BOTH PERSPECTIVES

Let’s face it – the dating world is a dangerous place. It’s full of conversational land mines, social mishaps and the occasional grenades to dodge (in the Pauly D sense of the word, that is). Thus having a wingman is not only necessary, but a huge help in chatting up the opposite sex.

You need someone to help you with your approach, engage in playful rounds of verbal sparring so that you seem witty, and chat up any friends your target has in tow to free you and your intended up for a love connection. Someone to be the Goose to your Maverick, if you will. But what are the rules of such a set up? This is where things can get tricky.

A friend recently sent me an email detailing her distaste for the way a man behaved while she was serving as wingwoman one night. She said the gentleman attempting to win over her friend virtually ignored her – the cardinal sin men can commit in a social setting. Be nice to the friend, be nice to the friend, be nice to the friend – always, and under all circumstances.

Because after all, when you walk away, if you’ve rubbed the wrong way the one who will have her ear on the ride home, you’ve just shot yourself down and all of that hard work was for naught. So here are a few behavioral guidelines for those chatting up someone with a wingman in tow, as well as for the wingman (or woman) him or herself. It’s not rocket science, but it needs to be said.

Be inclusive, not exclusive - If the person you’re talking to has a friend (or friends) with them, as I said, make sure to engage them in conversation as well. Or, at least make eye contact while you’re talking to the one you’re really interested in, so that they don’t feel like human furniture. Eye contact or nodding when they talk is just as effective an interaction. I can’t emphasize this enough.

Even if you are underwhelmed by said friend, this will make the friend think you have manners, and possibly rally in your favor later on if he or she thinks you’re particularly funny or charming. If there is a momentary lull in conversation, ask how they know each other, chat up the friend about what she does for work – whatever, just keep the exchange going as long as possible to gain an opportunity to showcase your personality.

Smile - There is nothing as disarming as smiling at someone. People should do it more often, in my opinion. So, if you’re talking to a woman you’re into, make steady eye contact, smile (not in a goofy, cartoon-ish way though) and be as relaxed as possible. It’s just a conversation, don’t over-think it.

Offer both of them a drink - If you notice that one or both of the women you’re chatting up has a drink that could use some refilling, take the initiative and ask to buy them a round. I know this isn’t an inexpensive or convenient move, but it shows us that you have manners, a rare commodity these days.

For those serving as wingman/woman - It becomes clear fairly quickly who the intended target is, so if it’s established that it’s your friend’s affections that are being sought, you have some responsibilities as well. If you seem to like the person who just approached (or at least don’t abhor them instantly), you would do well to help him or her out. It’s good karma.

If there is an awkward silence, jump in and ask a question, like, “So, what does a (fill in the blank job) do exactly?” *Note, obviously if the person has an easy job, like a dentist, that’s pretty self-explanatory. Don’t inquire unless you want to look slightly challenged in the smarts department.

Or you could talk up your friend if you think that he or she could use some help closing the deal. Casually bring up something impressive about them, or if he or she is particularly funny take a cue from earlier and do the whole witty banter thing. Verbally tag-teaming your friends makes you both look approachable and reminds us all of our own friendships, which helps put people at ease.

But whatever you do, try to avoid cutting the poor person at the knees and forcing them to walk away with a bruised ego and shattered confidence. It takes guts to approach someone, after all, and that type of bravery should never be scoffed at or insulted – unless the person approaching is particularly lecherous or annoying.

In that case, the wingman should fake an asthma attack or say something to your friend like, “Hey isn’t that your girlfriend (or boyfriend) over there?” and then point to the most intimidating-looking person in the room. Then make a hasty escape.

It shouldn’t be that hard to meet people, we do it every day in various circumstances. It is, however, hard to meet people of substance, worth keeping around. So if you’re on the prowl or just keeping a buddy company, remember that some rules of decorum apply. And if you can’t be helpful or straighten up and fly right, perhaps you’re better off staying home.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

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MR. MANNERS: MOVES THAT WILL UP YOUR STOCK IN OUR EYES

We learned all of the really crucial things in grade school: the Golden Rule, sharing, and most importantly – manners. No one is a bigger proponent of instilling good behavior and values into men (well, into everyone really but let’s start with the guys) than yours truly. If you fail to see the value in brushing up your etiquette skills just for the sake of decorum, perhaps you’ll respond to this claim: Do it because it could get you laid.

That’s right, polite is sexy. Polished is down right hot. This stems from the idea that it’s such a rarity to find in men these days (well, north of the Mason-Dixon line at least). No matter what your motivation, a well-mannered man is a huge turn on for us. So if you want to up your stock, I suggest you add these moves to your repetoire.

Sure, opening doors for people and pulling out our chairs is lovely, but it’s also pretty standard. The man who gets my attention is the one who stands up when a woman approaches or excuses herself from the table. Any man who doesn’t rise to his feet for an introduction is also missing an opportunity to make us swoon. It’s a thoroughly thoughtful gesture.

Another adorable move? Offering your seat to someone on the subway or train. Whether it’s a pregnant woman, elderly person, child or just someone with a stroller, whenever I see a guy insist that someone take his spot, his sexiness factor goes through the roof.

Likewise when a man apologizes for using foul language or saying something crass in the presence of a woman, it shows that you regard females differently than everyone else, which is refreshing. I’m not suggesting that you watch your mouths all the time – I swear like a sailor, after all – but the simple gesture of saying, “Excuse me, I’m sorry” to us can be enough to score you a phone number or maybe more. If this sounds like a stretch, believe me it isn’t – I’ve seen it happen more than once.

And finally, an even lesser-used but off-the-charts chivalrous move is walking on the outside of a woman while on a road or sidewalk, thus shielding us from oncoming cars. No one’s saying you have to take a bullet for us or throw your body at all potential safety hazards (this is hardly the age of knights in shining armor anymore), but we like when a man makes us feel safe. Even if we say we don’t need it, we love feeling protected.

Have a signature move that always impresses? Or want to share an instance where one of these moves worked in your favor? Send it to us, misswingman@gmail.com, we’ll pass it along. Until then, mind your P’s and Q’s, boys. ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

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