I'm willing to bet "how to talk to women" is among the most commonly Googled phrases. There are quite a few dudes who've gotten it in their heads we're such elusive creatures that step-by-step instructions are necessary to figure out how to approach us. Google provides plenty of results on the issue, so any dude truly searching will have no problem finding advice...unfortunately.
Capitalizing on this ridiculous myth that women are like unicorns who may poof into nothingness if approached in the wrong way, Some Dude Undeserving Of Named Credit penned an article you may have seen trending in the last few days called "How to Talk to a Woman Who is Wearing Headphones" (Google it if you want, but I see no point in furthering his website traffic.) In it he gives bullet-pointed instructions on how to get the attention, when out in public, of a woman wearing headphones — generally the universal human symbol for "I don't want to talk to strangers right now."
The internet has responded appropriately, quickly calling this guy out for the sexist he is. So I won't lay into him, as much as I might want to. But in case there's anyone who still thinks this dude's advice still sounds reasonable, here are a few examples we have from the movies that, while not perfect, are better examples of ways to approach women.
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1. Talk Her Out Of Jumping Off A Ledge
- Movie: Titanic
- Tip: She legitimately looks like she could use someone to talk to.
Even though it may seem like a touchy moment, here's a rare time where it's actually a pretty decent idea to approach a woman about to jump to her death. Just remember to temper your expectations of romance from such a meeting, but even knowing Rose's intentions, Jack is gentle in his approach. Jack and Rose have one of the most romantic love stories ever put to screen and their first meeting, while untraditional, is at least a reasonable and helpful interaction.
Hopefully yours won't end up with you freezing to death in the sea.
2. She's Dropped Major Hints (Or A Note) That She Wants To Talk To You
- Movie: Sixteen Candles
- Tip: Be respectful and make sure you aren't intruding.
By no means assume she wants to talk to you WHILE her sister is getting married, but if she wanders out alone after the event and it's been a whole movie, ahem, a large amount of time since you found a note expressing her interest in you, go for it. Make like Jake, however, and ask if giving her a call at a later time would be better. Bonus points if you can make Thompson Twins magically play in the background.
3. Show Genuine Interest In What Interests Her
- Movie: Before Sunrise
- Tip: OK to ask what she's reading, unless she has headphones in.
This is the ideal way to begin talking to a girl, or any human for that matter. You ask a question, they respond and continue the conversation with a bit of trivia. Discussing literature is also a solid move. Jesse has an intellectually stimulating conversation with Celine and if at any point she had simply said she wanted to nap or get back to her book, I'm willing to bet he'd have nicely left her alone. As should you.
4. She Tripped You
- Movie: The Lady Eve
- Tip: Be a gentleman and polite.
Granted, you may not want to talk to a woman who's tripped you on purpose. But it's certainly a natural reason to ask her what's up. It may or may not have been an accident, but either way, an accident involving you both is reason enough to say hello. In The Lady Eve, Jean wants to talk to Charles. Though I would recommend to women that, much like a man bothering a woman while she's wearing headphones, ladies, it's best not to catch a guy's attention by physically accosting him.
5. You Have Mutual Friends And/Or She Says 'Hello' First
- Movie: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Tip: Well, if she says "hello" first, you are pretty much golden.
Finding a communal reason to talk with a woman is ideal. Having friends in common is a huge validation that you're likely a decent person and not a creep. While Clementine engages first with Joel in this movie, it would have been equally acceptable for Joel to say hello, drawing from their shared world of friends and interests. This, at least for women, is usually the preferred way to meet a person. One with a built-in friends' stamp of approval.
6. Genuinely Compliment Her Skill At Something
- Movie: Now And Then
- Tip: Make it about her skills or brains, not her looks
Teenaged conversation is always going to be a bit awkward, but it's alarming how many grown men would do well to pay attention to the teens in this movie. Even though Scott initially criticizes Roberta's basketball skills, he quickly follows it up with a compliment when he sees he's misjudged her and that she is indeed a decent player. Complimenting a woman on talent/skill/intelligence is always the better approach than commenting on her looks.
7. She's Put Herself Out There Online
- Movie: You've Got Mail
- Tip: Do engage in witty and intelligent conversation; don't persist if she doesn't respond
Strictly speaking, You've Got Mail came out before the advent of online dating but as far as lessons in online etiquette, it's a shining example. Joe and Kathleen engage in conversation via AOL email that starts out as friendship and leads to a stronger connection. Online conversations have great potential for meaningful conversation. If a woman finds you charming or intelligent or interesting enough her interest is likely to grow deeper via continued discussion. The best part is, if it's an online dating site you know she's there with the intent to talk to men, so you know you have permission to say hello. But under no circumstances get angry at or shame a woman for not responding. And don't send unsolicited pictures (you know the kind) or social media requests.
It's sad that media — sweet conveyors of romantic fallacy — can give us better examples of male-female interaction than a dude on the internet claiming to be an expert. Unfortunately, it may be some time before all men realize that speaking to women should be done with the same respectfulness used when speaking to other men. In the meantime, I'd be open to the Harry Potter hippogriff method. Bow low to me, and if I bow back, maybe we can talk.
Any male-female interactions in films that renew your sense of non-sexist romance? Share in the comments!