Let's say you've been going out with friends night after night on a mission to meet someone new. But, night after night, no luck. Chances are it's not your fault, but learning how to be more approachable may help when trying to meet new people. Showing that you're open to conversation and getting to know someone can't hurt.
If you're aware of your body language, you can effectively remove any potential barriers that might make you seem like you're not looking to meet someone new. Did you know, for example, that seemingly harmless habits, like checking your phone, can make you appear closed off or disinterested? Same goes for standing around with your arms crossed (again, body language is a big one), not making eye contact, and/or creating an impenetrable circle with your friends.
These little habits can make it difficult for others to get close to you, much less strike up a convo. But the good news is they're all easily fixed. As therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle, "Having awareness of your behaviors and striving to make a change will help you learn to be open and approachable." That being said, meeting someone new is also about taking initiative, so be sure to keep these things in mind both when striking up a conversation with someone you find interesting, or being approached by someone you may be into. Here are a few habits that might make you seem less approachable, as well as how to fix them.
1. Circling Up With Friends
Hey, if you're out at the bar with your friends and want to enjoy each others' company, then circle up all you like. But if you're there with the sole purpose of meeting someone new, don't be afraid to break away from the pack and venture off on your own.
As Hershenson says, "It can be intimidating for someone to speak with you when they feel they need to fight for your attention." So take a moment to stand by yourself for a while. Or, if you're feeling good vibes from a cute stranger across the room, leave your friends and go approach them. You might be glad you did.
2. Having Closed Off Body Language
This one might sound overly simplistic, but the simple act of crossing your arms can makes it seem like you don't want to talk to anyone else. "Keeping your arms crossed sends a signal to 'stay away,'" says Hershenson. "It gives off the energy you are either bored or want to be left alone."
To change the mood, simply open up by uncrossing your arms and keeping them down at your sides. You might also consider facing people who are talking to you, all in the name of showing you're down to talk.
3. Staring Into Your Phone
Staring at your phone isn't the best idea when you want to get to know someone new. "If you're texting and making calls constantly, you'll give off the vibe that you aren't interested in interacting with others," Hershenson says. But if you want to meet people, put that baby away, look up, and interact with your environment. It really can make all the difference.
4. Wearing Headphones All The Time
As you know, headphones lock you into your own little world, and that definitely has its perks. But if you'd like to meet someone new — at the bar, on the bus, while jogging at the gym — it'll behoove you to remove them every once in a while, and be a little more open.
If you'd rather keep them in, that's cool. But do know that it makes it more difficult to initiate a conversation with you. As certified counselor Jonathan Bennett tells Bustle, "[Headphones] add an extra layer to the approach and most people will feel like they’re rude for interrupting your enjoyment of the music."
5. Being Inauthentic In Conversations
While we all want to make a good impression, but people can tell when we're trying hard to be something we're not. "If you are a talkative, energetic person and you try to play it cool and silent — you will come off as standoffish," clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow tells Bustle. "If in contrast you are more of a quiet and shy type and you are trying to be the life of the social scene to compensate, you will come across as trying too hard." So the next time you hit the town, feel free to be yourself and see if your luck changes.
6. Not Making Eye Contact
When someone's trying to catch your eye, your instinct might be to look away, or act like you didn't notice. But that's kind of the opposite of what you should do. By making eye contact, you'll be telling the cute stranger that you're confident and open to being approached, life coach Mitzi Bockmann tells Bustle. And if you decide to approach them, it's a good idea to meet their eyes while talking to show them where your focus is, and let them know you're interested. It can be scary at first (because yikes, eye contact) but if you meet someone interesting, it'll have been well worth it.
7. Wearing Something That Feels Uncomfortable
Don't let your friends tell you what's appropriate "going out" attire, and instead just do you. "When you go out, wear clothes that make you feel confident and express who you are," Bockmann says. If you're comfortable, That comfort will show, and you'll be more confident. Rocking your favorite outfit can give you that extra push to go out, and approach someone yourself.
8. Getting Caught Up In Other Conversations
"If you’re talking to someone else, whether it’s your friend, the bartender, or even a total stranger, you’re going to seem less approachable," Bennett says. "Very few people are going to interrupt someone already clearly engaged in another conversation."
That's why it can help to stay aware of your surroundings. If you're out with the goal of meeting someone new, don't be afraid to end these types of convos in favor of looking around, and going up to someone you want to talk to or catching someone's eye. That person may have been waiting for their turn to swoop in and chat you up, and by breaking away you'll be giving them their in.
9. Keeping Your Head Down
Since this is all about sending out the signal that you're ready and willing to chat, you'll understand why staring at the floor is never a good idea. At Bockmann says, keeping your head down can make it seem like you don't want to be approached. So pay attention to your body language, and make sure you're not giving off sullen vibes that say, "I just want to go home."
10. Not Letting Yourself Have Fun
People tend to really like the person who seems to be having a good time, Bockmann says. So if you're having fun, just go with it — even if your nerves are telling you to hold back. Whether you're laughing with someone at the bar, or tearing it up on the dance floor, it'll be impossible for others not to notice, and want to join in.
11. Letting Your Nerves Get The Best Of You
Hey, if you're nervous, that's OK. But do be aware of how nerves may rub off on others, and make them feel stressed, too. That, and the fact anxiety often leads to all the habits mentioned above, like checking your phone or circling up with friends — thus creating a vicious cycle.
"Although these strategies may help you reduce the social anxiety, long term the only way you can overcome your social anxiety is to practice being with others in social setting," Dr. Nazanin Moali, a licensed clinical psychologist tells Bustle.
So get out there, be yourself, and have fun. You might just meet someone great as a result.