DATING 101: From First Date to Perfect Mate

Step 2: Meet Someone Great

As Dating Doyenne here at iVillage, I receive virtual truckloads of emails asking for advice on meeting a great guy. Many women seemingly won't be satisfied unless they snag Mr. Absolutely Perfect (think Bill Gates, Michael Jordan and Einstein rolled into one). Others simply don't know how to approach Mr. Good Enough. And still others are so afraid of being rejected that Mr. Fantastic could be standing right next to them and still they would make no contact. How do you approach someone who catches your eye without making a fool of yourself? How can you ensure that he'll want to talk to you? The simple answers are: (1) you need some decent opening lines; (2) you have to be a good flirt; and (3) you can't worry about the end result before you even begin.

In this step, I'm going to help you calm your fear of rejection and learn to flirt (better). Plus, I'll introduce you to some opening lines -- the ones that work and the ones I urge you not to let pass your lips.

Fear-of-rejection Remedies
One of the big ''stoppers'' that keeps singles from finding love (or at least a Saturday night date) is that old bugaboo, low self-esteem. Simply put, if you don't consider yourself a catch, no one else will either. So not everyone you're interested in will be interested back. Move on. It's a numbers game. When you see a man who interests you, approach him and try out your best opening line. You will either snag another date or the self-satisfied knowledge that, yet again, you were brave enough to risk a rebuff. The golden rule of meeting someone great: Never fear rejection. Rejection is when your boyfriend of four years says out of the blue, ''I don't love you.'' But when a guy talks to you for five minutes then walks away without asking for a date, it's not rejection. It just means you weren't the type he was looking for on that day's casting call.

Winning Openers
Unfortunately, unlike ''one size fits all'' pantyhose, there is no perfect line sure to work for all women all the time. I can, though, tell you what won't work -- dated and obvious clunkers like ''What's your sign?'' and ''Do you come here often?'' Also, don't pop a question that can be easily answered by a ''yes'' or ''no'' unless you've got a follow-up prepared. You want to open a conversation, not close one.

Next page: Help for the flirting impaired.

Your approach should suit your personality. If you're the shy type, avoid provocative posers. If you've never picked up a newspaper, don't lead with a current events item even if it's one the rest of the world is buzzing about. And if you can't tell a joke, don't.

Here are some fairly low-risk and general conversation generators:

  • ''How do you know the host?''
  • ''What are you drinking? It looks good.''
  • ''I just had the craziest experience getting here on the subway (bus, plane, etc.).''
  • Or, delivered laughing, ''I'm helping a friend research an article on how men react when a woman walks up to them at a singles event. Do you want to give me your answer on or off the record?''
  • Or go with the plain, unvarnished, ''Hi, I'm Sherry. Nice to meet you. What's your name?''

No matter what your opener, if you utter it while your eyes are downcast and your voice is barely a whisper, you won't get the response you're hoping for. Be as upbeat and natural as possible. If the focus of your attraction doesn't take the bait, at least you took a chance. Now take another one -- on the next guy who catches your eye.

Prescription for the Flirting-Impaired
If your ability to offer up a great opener is hindered by your shyness or fear of being a bad flirt, know this: Flirting is a state of mind. You have to be in the right one to successfully act the coquette. If you feel desirable, men will swarm. If you look approachable, you have a much better chance of being approached.

When it comes to flirting, your best bet is to say and do what comes naturally and be true to who you are. When you're talking to a guy you find appealing, don't act assertive, aggressive and cool if, well, you're not. Instead, smile and bring up topics that interest and intrigue you. Enthusiasm is contagious -- and sexy. And the sexier you feel, the more confident you'll become -- and the more ready to hit the ground flirting.

Now you're all set to meet someone great. Your challenge: Before your next big night out, give some thought to some openers you would feel comfortable using and have them ready to roll. Then get out there and test them out. Next step, a workshop in first-date success.

Talk about the single life on the Dating Doyenne message board.

What (and who) is your ideal date? Figure out what kind of date suits your style!

Adapted with permission from The Q&A Dating Book by Sherry Amatenstein. Published by Adams Media Corporation. Copyright 2000.

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