Dating After 50: How to Approach Someone - dummies

Dating After 50: How to Approach Someone

By Pepper Schwartz

Copyright © 2014 AARP. All rights reserved.

If you haven’t dated in a long time, approaching someone may feel awkward, and being approached may feel embarrassing or even a bit scary. If you’re freaked out, be reassured that while customs have changed, the basics will come back to you.

It actually is a little like remembering how to ride a bicycle. If you haven’t been on a bike for a long time, you’re a bit wobbly in the beginning. But then it all comes back to you, and you’re on your way!

There’s an art to approaching someone. If you’re awkward, even someone who was intrigued by you may move away. She may feel annoyed or even threatened. If you do it right, even someone who wasn’t interested at first could come around and want to know you better. She may feel flattered or intrigued.

The most critical act, however, is to gather up your courage and do something! As the old saying goes, “He who hesitates is lost.” True, if you never start, you can’t be rebuffed — but then you stay alone.

As you start, the first thing to remember is your most important tool. No, it’s not your opening lines. Even before the first word is mentioned, a successful beginning starts with your eyes . . . and the other person’s eyes.

Make eye contact with a possible date

When you first see someone, the instinct is to look down, to look away, to look anywhere but at the person. So the first instruction is, “Don’t look away.” The eyes have it. They’re the first way you both signal interest in each other.

Don’t look away if you’re interested. The person may feel rebuffed. If you do look away, force yourself to look up again quickly. Beginnings can be over in the blink of an eye — literally.

Here’s the gazing protocol:

  1. You glance at someone.

  2. He glances at you.

  3. You both return the glance and hold it until one of you breaks into a smile.

  4. The smile is returned.

  5. One of you walks over to start a conversation.

Of course, if the other person doesn’t glance your way, or you don’t get a return on your glance, or your smile isn’t returned, you’d be right in thinking that this is not a promising situation. You can walk over without this sequence, but your approach is likely to be unsuccessful. If you’re bold, however, it’s still worth a try.

What do to when you make contact

The first step in approaching someone is to focus on him and allow him a moment to focus on you. If you come up to someone and start a conversation looking down at the ground or across the room or only intermittently meeting his eyes, you’ll come across as shifty, not really interested, or even crass.

You have to meet someone’s eyes and then hold his attention and keep him focused on you. This is the beginning of connection, and if you don’t create it at once, you may not get it at all.

After you approach someone, it’s true that it may take you a few sentences to get the other person to really “see you” and take you in. If he’s busy or distracted, he may not want to meet your eyes initially. That’s when you have to combine eye contact with something really interesting to say or demonstrate.

If your target person is in a grumpy or self-absorbed mood, getting him to focus on you is hard but not impossible. Men and women, however, have to use slightly different strategies, which we detail in the upcoming sections.

Don’t try any of this with sunglasses on. Sunglasses may look sexy, but they hide expression and can make people nervous.