I’ve made, like, five new friends this month, just from flying on airplanes. I find it basically impossible not to meet cool people on airplanes, unless I actively choose not to (which I do, sometimes -- airplanes are also one place where I’m tremendously productive).
This has always been the case for me, and it's one of the best things about flying. Beyond learning interesting stuff about women's health, self-driving cars, forestry, and so much more... I've learned at least one important life lesson from which we can all benefit:
Too often, we don’t start a conversation… because we don’t know how. We all needlessly miss opportunities because we think we need some sort of “pickup line”... when, really, we don’t.
If there's an attraction, you really don't need a pickup line. You just need guts.
Here's the story:
Once upon a time, I was boarding a plane at MSP, when I spotted a guy who, like me, was ridiculously tall. Obviously, I was intrigued... He caught me staring at him, and the moment our eyes met, I couldn't help but smile. And feel a weird connection with him.
But he was a few spots behind me in the jet bridge. Too far for me to say anything to him without shouting over other people.
I broke eye contact, secretly hoping his seat was next to mine. But then I was like, Wait -- do I really want to sit by him? That dude is like, 6'8. It might be uncomfortable.
He followed me almost to my seat, but stopped short at an exit a few rows before me. I started reading... but we continued making accidental eye contact throughout the flight.
Finally, I was like, Okay, enough! I'm going to see if this plane has that seat-to-seat messaging service. I wasn't committed to messaging him... but I was committed to checking if it was even a possibility.
So then I was like... What if I just went and sat next to him? There was a man in the aisle, but the middle seat was open. How weird would it be if I just sat down and said... what? "Hey, you're tall like me. What's up?"
I strongly considered it... but ultimately decided it would be inappropriate. Like, if the moments we were sharing were imagined on my part and he didn't feel them, plopping down right next to him in a seat that wasn't mine would be imposing.
A few meaningful looks later, the plane landed. We disembarked, and I thought that was it. I blew it.
But when I stepped out of the jet bridge into the airport -- there he was!
"Hey. Do you... want to get coffee or something?"
"How much time do you have?" I asked. "I have a connecting flight in an hour... but if you walk me to my gate, we will probably have time to stop somewhere for a drink."
So, sure, we wouldn't have much time, but everything's always worth it, right?
The conversation flowed as we began our journey as small talk about where we were going and where we'd been turned to discussions about why he might be closer to his maternal cousins than his paternal ones. I suggested it might be because mothers are the gatekeepers to relationships and offered to send him an article on the topic.
"Is that your way of asking for my number?" he smiled.
"No!" I exclaimed playfully. "I was going to send it over Facebook."
A few minutes later, we arrived at a Peet's Coffee and decided it was a good place to stop. "What are you getting?" I asked him.
"I'm not sure... I don't actually like coffee."
Remembering an article I wrote once about how I judge guys who ask me out for coffee, and wanting to confirm that I hadn't somehow steamrolled him into doing something he didn't want to do, I prodded, "You don't? But it was YOUR idea."
I make exceptions to the "coffee is a bad date idea" rule if the coffee has bears on it. Or... if we're in an airport and there aren't a lot of other options.
"I know," he told me. "But I wasn't sure what else to say. I just wanted to... talk to you."
He'd been vulnerable with me, so I was vulnerable with him. I told him how I'd totally checked to see if there was a seat-to-seat messenger thingie, but there wasn't, and we kind of laughed about the weird mutual attraction we'd both felt.
And... that's the most important part of this story.
We both felt this weird mutual attraction to each other. We both wanted to talk to each other. But, having never talked before, we had no idea what to say.
But, I realized, it actually completely did not matter what he said.
It could have been, "Hi. I'm Will."
It could have been, "How tall are you?"
It could have been, "Airports, amirite?"
Whatever dumb thing he said wouldn't have mattered -- because it would have gotten the conversation started. (If you struggle with conversation-having, check out You'd Get Invited to More Parties If You'd Mingle Instead of Cling.)
Well, okay. If he'd actually used a cheesy pickup line in a non-ironic way, or if he'd said something crass, sexual, or disrespectful, I wouldn't have responded, because it would have proven he's gross and stupid. If you think negging or watermeloning or ponyhorsing or whatever stupid thing you read about in your "pickup artist" book is going to help you with women, you're sadly mistaken.
But other than that... if there's a mutual attraction, you really don't need to worry so much about what you're going to say. That's a good way to not say anything, and then always wonder, "What if?"
Now. I'm definitely not suggesting you go around harassing everyone you find attractive. Just because you find them attractive, doesn't mean they feel the same about you. But if you feel fairly confident that there's something mutual going on, here...
AND you can start a conversation without being weird or imposing...
You totally should.
Worst case, the connection/attraction was imagined, and you get rejected by someone you're never going to see again.
But if you don't at least make an effort -- "Airports, amirite?" -- you're never going to see the person again, anyway.
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8/29/2018 02:45:17 am
It's not your main point here; but the story also demonstrates that if you're a woman, you have better odds of managing even without the guts.
8/29/2018 01:21:16 pm
I did chicken out in this story and it still worked out. In other stories, I sit down at a table full of dudes I don't know because there's one I want to talk to, or I chase down a guy I just had fun playing basketball with because I want to get his number and play with him again.
8/30/2018 03:34:15 am
I've been reading several of your blog-posts about topics related to this one over the last couple days.
8/30/2018 12:31:33 pm
I would love it if you wrote a blog post about this topic. More viewpoints is always better. I think there are parts of my experience that many people could benefit from... but I only know what I know. You write clearly and beautifully and sound like you have some interesting experiences.
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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