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Where the Nice Guys Are

bookstore guyYears before I was a serious-minded mental health professional, I was writing articles of a different sort.

Today I thought I’d share with you an early offering from my young-free-and-single self who was fully immersed in the New York City dating scene circa 1999.

This is one of the first articles I posted on my then-newly-minted personal website, www.TinaGilbertson.com. (It’s changed a tad since then, as you can see.)

Guys, this was written for women, but please read it and let me know what you think of this advice.

Given the setting, it’s not exactly hopelessly out of date, but going in that direction:

How to Pick Up a Guy in a Bookstore

1. Spot cutie.

2. Scope for female companion. Sometimes she saves a table in the café while he scouts for books, so beware.

3. Make your move by saying something to him. Here’s a tip: Look at the section he’s in. See what’s in his hands, if anything, and put the two together.

For example, if he’s standing there with a sorry-looking umbrella in the Do It Yourself section, you can say, “Are you looking for a book on how to fix your umbrella?”

4. Note his reaction to this charming display of your humor. If he responds with a smile but doesn’t have a comeback, he may be shy OR he’s not single/interested.

The difference is this: a shy guy will look like he’s struggling to think of a way to keep the conversation going, even if he’s not successful right away.

A guy who’s not interested will look back at the bookshelves and keep his eyes off you. He won’t struggle at all. You’ll sense it and move on.

In that case, just begin at 1 with someone else and repeat until you get to step 5.

5. He’s interested! You’re 95% of the way to a date. Remember to smile throughout the encounter. Smiling is a signal that you’re approachable and you won’t call security if he expresses interest. It also makes you look happy and confident, which are turn-ons for guys who are boyfriend material.

6.  The Closing. After a little conversation it’s time for the closing. “Well, it was really nice talking to you,” you say, smiling still. Hesitate; let him know it’s hard for you to tear yourself away from him. If he doesn’t come out with a “Maybe we could…” then help him out by saying, “I hope I see you again.” Check his response.

At this point, he’ll probably attempt to ask you out. If not, give him one more chance, as he could be very interested but bad at this kind of thing or not sure of your response.

Your final bid: “Do you come here every Friday night, or …?” If he doesn’t bite, he’s not going to. Time to move on with a face-saving “Well, it was nice meeting you, take care.”

Usually, by your first “It was really nice talking to you,” IF you look into his eyes and smile enthusiastically at him as you say it, he will be tripping over himself to ask you out/get your phone number.

Try to get his number, too. Guys often second-guess themselves and think, “She probably doesn’t really want to go out,” or else they’re so nervous that they tell themselves this just so they don’t have to go through the anxiety of calling.

Be SUPER approachable. If you’re busy, make a counter-invitation for another day. Asking people out is very difficult because you have to put yourself out there and face rejection in order to do it. Men deserve big props for doing this all the time.

Of course, you could bypass all the smiling and encouragement and just get straight to asking him out yourself – why pussy-foot around? Believe me, I’m a big fan of women taking the bull by the horns.

But not all men — even cool ones — are ready for this up front and might actually get scared off. They don’t know you well enough to know you aren’t a man-eater.

Later, when you know each other better, break out the non-traditional behavior by letting him do your dishes and the laundry.

Good luck!

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting and other resources, and offers assertiveness training and executive coaching for organizations. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."
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