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The Art of Subtlety
A guide to romance for the shy
by Ingrid Díaz


Meeting women when you’re shy can be a bit of a challenge. Odds are that you won’t be approaching the hot girl with the nose ring at the end of the bar any time soon. Instead, you’ll fantasize, repeatedly, of what you would say were you to suddenly transform yourself into your alter ego – the one who isn’t a bumbling idiot – and approach said goddess.

A million and one brilliant conversation-starters filter through your mind. You can imagine her completely taken by the fascinating factoids pouring out of your mouth: “Did you know dinoflagallates glow when…?” You’re not even a hundred percent sure that what you’re saying is true, but she seems genuinely captivated by your use of polysyllabic words. She wants to know your name. She wants to go out to the movies with you tomorrow. She becomes your best friend. On one fateful night, while the two of you are fighting over who gets the last of the popcorn on the bowl, you stare magically into each other’s eyes and as your lips begin to inch closer, you realize…

… that not only are you fantasizing in the middle of a bar, but you’re also partially drooling.

This is not how you win over Ms. Right. Or even Ms. Wrong for that matter.

But worry not.

Let’s imagine for a moment a worst-case scenario:

Susie 1 walks up to Susie 2 and says: “You’re hot. Do you want to go out with me sometime?”

Susie 2 glares at Susie 1, throws her Cosmopolitan (the drink, unless they’re at Barnes & Noble, in which case it would be the magazine) at S1’s face. At the same time, she stomps on S1’s foot, screams, “HELP!!!! THE LESBIANS ARE ATTACKING!!!” and pokes S1 in the eye.

Admittedly, this is a bad thing.

Thankfully, a shy girl, unless encouraged by her less shy friends (who probably just want her to make a fool of herself anyway), would never approach another woman in such a manner.

A shy girl would stare longingly, while avoiding eye contact, and pretend to be fascinated by something simple, like … a peanut. “My, what an oddly-shaped peanut.”

But meeting women, when you’re shy, need not be a lost cause. Observe:

Susie, now recovered from her broken nose, stubbed toe, and sporting an eye-patch, has returned to her shy roots. She spots Maria looking at some books. She thinks Maria is super hot, but she’s too shy to approach her.

What to do:

Assess the situation. Notice what category of books Maria is standing under. In this case, we’ll say that it’s American History. You either love or hate American History. If you love it, the next step should be easy. If you hate it, pretend that you don’t. After all, she’s super hot.

The next thing to do is to get Maria to notice you. Walk over casually, as if you’re just looking at the book selections. Pick a book at random, and drop it by her feet. At this point, she will either lean down to pick it up, or give you a look that says, “Loser.” The loser look is a bad sign. But we’ll work with that.

Say something self-deprecating like, “I’m such a loser. Sorry.” Then quickly add, “I’ve just stepped off the elevator and everything is a little bouncy still.”

If there is no elevator, improvise with something else that might be bouncy. Like a pogo-stick, or a trampoline. She’ll understand. Bouncy things make people drop books all the time.

Depending on what you went with, she’ll reply with: “I understand. Anti-gravity boots make people drop books all the time.”

At this point, your shyness is kicking in. You’re wondering what to say next. The silence is inevitably descending upon you.

Fear not.

Take a moment to look at the book you’ve dropped. Turn it over and read the back. Regardless of what it says, make a few grunting noises. Make sure they’re noncommittal. You neither approve, nor disapprove of what you’re reading. Continue to, “Hmm,” until she says…

“Are you a fan of [insert author’s name]?”

Get out of it by shrugging. “Depends on the day,” should be your answer.

At this point, your many layers of mystery intrigue her. She’ll probably ask you a question. If you don’t know the answer, or fear the answer might reveal your utter ignorance of the subject at hand, tell her you’re in a hurry and have to leave.

As you walk away, pretend to trip on your own foot and fall down. Normally, this would be an embarrassing situation. But when it’s on purpose, it’s a masterful strategy. Try to avoid the shelves of books, cause that would make a big mess. She will instantly run over to help you and ask if you’re okay. You can revert back to the bouncy excuse, she won’t notice.

At this point, you can tell her you skipped out on dinner/lunch/breakfast (whatever meal comes before the time you’re talking to her), and should get something to eat. She’ll ask if you can make it on your own, or offer to accompany you. If it’s the former, say yes, and then when she helps you up, fall back down again. Then she’ll definitely offer to accompany you. If she doesn’t, she’s not worth it. Go sit at the café and wait for the next hot girl to come along. If she does, congratulations, you’ve got yourself a date with someone seemingly unattainable.

Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about the drool.

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