You’re dying to say “hi” to that cutie in your calculus class, but it just feels weird going up to someone you don’t know well. It seems like you’re never going to get a conversation beyond integrals and derivatives.
If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone! When trying to make the first move, collegiettes who are a little on the shy side may find themselves at a loss.
Rachel DeAlto, relationship expert and author of Flirt Fearlessly: The A to Z Guide to Getting Your Flirt On, says shyness might come from a number of factors, whether it’s a fear of rejection or a bad past relationship experience. DeAlto says it’s important to face the fact that everyone faces rejection, and it’s simply a part of life if you want to take the good with the bad. Luckily, we’ve come up with five ways to practice putting yourself out there and giving your crush the signal that you’re interested!
1. Be confident
The first step to being more confident is to realize that flirting is not about getting someone to like you – it’s about making a genuine connection.
“Part of it is starting to recognize that you’re not hitting on a person or chasing them,” DeAlto says.
If you don’t get the response you’re hoping for, keep in mind that if you don’t connect with someone, it’s not the end of the world. If that cute guy or girl is responsive, then it opens up the possibility of getting to know someone better.
Having confidence is also vital, since other people won’t know the best sides of you unless you show them.
“Remember a time you felt good about yourself,” says Dr. Diana Kirschner, love expert and CEO of Love in 90 Days. Remind yourself of all the positive friendships you’ve had and ask your friends to tell you what they think are your best qualities. Getting honest and positive feedback from others will help you be true to yourself and stick to your genuine qualities.
2. Practice saying hi
If you’re a bit shy, you’ll probably want to be as casual and subtle as possible, and the best way to practice is by having ordinary conversations with people every day. It’ll make you a more outgoing person overall and also help you react to different situations so you’re not caught off-guard with someone you’re really looking to connect with!
DeAlto suggests setting a goal for the number of people you say hello to each day, starting with two. Whether you’re passing by a classmate in the dining hall or a professor walking on campus, smile, make eye contact and give a quick, “Hi, how are you?”
“Eye contact should be done all the time,” DeAlto says. Instead of cutting off a conversation by responding with “good” every time someone asks how you are, try adding an interesting detail such as a great movie you just watched or plans you have for the weekend to spur a continuing conversation. It doesn’t have to be a long talk, but it’ll help to practice making those connections with people as you try to put yourself out there more!
3. Make small talk
Most of us can’t just make up clever pick-up lines on the spot, but you don’t necessarily need a super interesting topic to start a dialogue. “Say something, anything,” Kirschner says. “Even if you come across dorky, that can be endearing.”
Kirshner recommends giving a sincere compliment, such as, “Hey, I like your shirt; that’s my favorite band!”
However, while it’s good to share mutual interests with someone, it won’t help if you pretend to like activities just to keep the conversation going or seem impressive. “Have an authentic interest in whatever you’re asking,” DeAlto says.
If you’re nervous or feel like you don’t have anything to say about a topic, ask more questions! After all, people love sharing and talking about themselves, and it’ll give you time to compose yourself if you’re not comfortable talking to new people.
4. Ask for help
It’s not always easy to get a guy’s attention, but everyone enjoys being asked for help and getting complimented on their abilities. Maybe you missed a lecture and need to borrow some notes, or maybe you forgot to bring a pencil to class. It’s a great way to introduce yourself and at least get someone’s name and have him or her learn yours.
“Asking for help is a great way to start a conversation,” DeAlto says. It’s also a great way to start an ongoing relationship, since you have an excuse to help someone back as a thank-you. Offer your lecture notes for the next class and suggest studying together, and voila, you could have a great way of keeping in touch! While you shouldn’t be dumbing yourself down for any guy, doing work together can be a great way to flirt with a classmate. If you’re not used to reaching out to people, here are a few things you could say to set up a study date:
- Hi! I’m having trouble with this problem. Could you explain it to me?
- I didn’t catch the last part of what the professor said – would you mind filling me in?
- Can I get your number in case I have any more questions?
- Do you want to get together before the exam to go over the problems?
When you’ve gotten to a study date, DeAlto recommends gradually directing the conversation towards more social topics, like talking about where you both grew up or movies you’ve both watched. If he or she starts engaging in the conversation, you’ll know it’s a good sign. If the other person starts redirecting the conversation back to studying, you might get the sense that he or she isn’t interested, but you won’t have to deal with outright rejection.
5. Show flirty body language
Body language plays an important role in what other people think of us, especially when you’re trying to send a positive message. DeAlto’s point about making good eye contact is important here, because if you’re nervous about saying the right words, you can make your body language do more of the work.
Smiling, looking directly at your crush when speaking and not being distracted by other things in the room will show him that you’re interested in what he’s saying even if you don’t tell him directly. Even if you’re self-conscious, no one else will notice as long as you don’t bring attention to it.
Kirschner also says it’s usually good to make physical contact. “Touch the guy’s arm,” she suggests. While this might be scarier for someone who’s on the shy side, sitting closer to someone or leaning towards the person you’re talking to are definitely good ways to show that you’re interested. On the flip side, if someone’s returning those signals, you’ll get a sense of whether or not your feelings are reciprocated.
Making the first move can be tough, but it’s just as disappointing to miss a chance with someone special. Whether you ask someone to study or start with flirty body language, the important part is being confident in yourself and taking things into your own hands! In fact, since flirting is pretty scary regardless of whether someone’s shy or outgoing, a lot of people will probably appreciate that you’re willing to take a risk and put yourself out there. After all, as the intelligent, stylish collegiette you are, there’s no reason why you should be afraid of taking the initiative and showing the best sides of yourself!