5. The Opener
You’ve made the approach. Now it’s time to open. The opener is quite simply the first words that come out of your mouth. Most guys leave this to chance; they rely on luck or hope. Not us, though. In this chapter you will learn what to say to women upon the approach and then what to say just afterward to transition smoothly into an interaction that feels natural and unforced.
The First Minute
The first minute of a pickup is the most important. In this time, you will have identified a girl, gotten into state, overcome any approach anxiety, positioned yourself, opened, and hopefully achieved a “hook point.” Normally, by the end of the first minute you know how receptive your girl is, and whether or not you have a realistic chance of success.
The Pre-Opener: Just Say Hey
Believe it or not, all openers should start with “Hey.” This pre-opener is an important element, and because it’s counterintuitive—I mean, you expect that first word to be meaningful, right?—it needs to be explained.
Think about it: if you deliver an opener to a woman or a group, most of the time you’ll be interrupting something. They will likely be in conversation already, or at least thinking about something with a conversation going on inside their head. When you start talking, you’re breaking that state, and their response will be, “What?” In fact, they’ll say, “What?” even if they heard what you said. Think about how you do this in your own life; be aware of your interaction next time you join a group.
I only learned this properly when I started as a trainer and watched students open without first saying, “Hey.” The girls would say, “What?” and the interaction always seemed to go badly after that. It got the guys off on the wrong foot from the beginning.
The “Hey” is followed by a pause, to ensure that you have the attention of the group before you deliver your actual opener. It’s “Hey!” (Pause as group looks at you.) “Do you guys …” Actually, you’ve got a little leeway here: the pre-opener can be anything that gets the attention of the group: “Hey!” or “Yo!” or “Howdy!” or even something nonverbal, like a raised hand, a funny or inquisitive facial expression, or some other action that makes the girl or group stop what they’re doing and look at you.
Transitioning from a Good Opener
Friends are always asking me what are the best openers, but what they don’t realize is that the transition is actually more important than the opener. The most important thing is what you follow the opener with. That’s why, until you can freestyle on your own, you need to know your opener and also the transition before you start an interaction.
If you open with, “Hey, should I dye my hair blond?” and the girl says, “Yes,” and you say, “Okay, thanks—bye,” you haven’t accomplished anything. You need to know what you’ll follow it up with. So you can use that opener and then your transition might be, “Cool, because my hairdresser tells me every time I go there that I’d look great with blond hair. He’s a great hairdresser and knows his stuff, but he’s gay, so I really wasn’t sure on this one. Actually, I say he’s gay because I just think he is, but on the other hand he tries to talk about women. He just looks gay. Do you think you can tell when a man is gay?” If you go in with that much prepared, you have enough to get to the hook point in the majority of cases. If you have just the opener ready, you’ll be putting a lot more pressure on yourself.
Personally I don’t think the opener is that important, and I prove this with students by asking for the lamest opener possible and still showing that I can hook or close.
An example would be, “My elbow hurts,” which was one given to me by a one-on-one student who thought the opener was key. I went up to a seated pair of girls without knowing what I’d come up with as a transition, and actually used, “I was testing the theory that you can use anything to start a conversation.” They were initially very negative, but even after this lame opener they opened up after a minute or so; I stayed for fifteen minutes and got one of their numbers.
Elements of a Successful Opener
The opener is the first real thing you say during an interaction, once you’ve taken the stage with your pre-opener. The best openers make your audience laugh, make you look cool, and are much more interesting than whatever the girls were discussing before you came along.
There are various types of openers. An indirect opener is one that doesn’t immediately convey your interest in her and doesn’t put much pressure into the interaction. If you say, “You’re hot and I want you,” that’s very direct and puts a lot of pressure on her; if you say, “When does it get busy here?” there’s no pressure.
Opinion openers, a common form of indirect opener that we’ll talk about later, work very well in bars and quiet clubs; time and time again I’ve seen a guy use them to successfully hook or connect to a group. For now, though, let’s look at some basic indirect lines.
Here are some indirect openers and how they might be used. Different people feel comfortable saying different kinds of things. You can pick a few from below, modify them to fit you better, and later make up your own. You don’t need hundreds. A couple of solid, tried-and-tested openers are enough.
Are you guys talking about me?… Why not?
Humor is the approach here. The key is making certain that the first line is deadpan and the second is delivered with a smile. Women are attracted to the unexpected. When they realize that they’ve fallen into your line, they’ll laugh and become interested in you.
There’s a guy over there who is so perfect for you!
This opener involves approaching a woman, pointing to a guy you (supposedly) think is “perfect” for her, and trying to take her over to meet him. Invariably she’ll refuse, and then you can say how she should trust you because you’re a great matchmaker. That opener leads nicely into conversation on dating and relationships. Her objection is projected onto the other guy, so you’ve got less chance of getting rejected yourself. It also provides a false disqualifier, meaning something that hides the fact that you are hitting on her, ultimately making it easier to hook a group.
You are so … in my way.
If you’ve got a situation where you’re walking and a girl you’re interested in blocks your path, put your hand up as if to gesture her to stop.
Look at her seriously and deliver the line. The key is the pause; it makes her think you’re going to say, “You are so beautiful” or some other clichéd statement. If you do it right, it guarantees a laugh. I used to use it when I first started, and the girls would laugh but still carry on walking afterward—so you need to quickly introduce yourself in order to extend the opening.
Are you girls sociable/friendly?
Standard opener—can be delivered with a skeptical face. Be ready for a yes or no answer and have a follow-up ready.
Are you girls super-shy or what? I’ve been here for ten minutes and you haven’t offered to buy me a drink or even said hello.
This one puts them on the spot slightly and then releases the tension; they’ll laugh if it’s delivered right.
Are you rich chicks?
This allows the funny follow-up, “I’m looking for a rich girl who can buy me stuff.” I use this successfully, but, as with all the other one-liners, don’t expect it to be a magic bullet. You still need to work a bit more to reach the hook point.
Did you invite all these people? I thought it’d just be us.
This is a semi-direct approach, but the pressure is softened by its humor.
I knowyou probably get no attention fromguys whatsoever, so I thought I’d come and make some conversation with you.
This one should get a laugh. You’ll be on the spot after this, though, so have something to follow it up with.
(Execute clothing primp.) What’s your name?
This one is good for a girl with a hat or some other kind of striking accessory. You look at her, do a double-take, focus your attention on the item, and screw your face up as if something is wrong. Hold out a finger as if to say, “Wait,” adjust the item, then study her again and make a thumbsup. Don’t let the opener end there, though; otherwise that’ll be it. Follow it up with something like this:
You: What’s your name?
You: Tanya, I’ve just made you 38 percent more attractive. You owe me!
Hey, I’mout meeting people tonight; what’s your name? Standard, low-risk opener that fits a Mr. Sociable frame. Are you undressing me with your eyes?
If a girl is making eye contact with you, this is a good opener to use. By way of variation, you can accuse girls of stalking you, checking you out, etc.
My girlfriend thinks you’re hot.
This line uses fake social proof, a guy with a girlfriend being higher value than a single guy out on the prowl, to make it easier to open. Point to some random hot girl as your “girlfriend.” Later it can be revealed that she’s just a female friend, and you’re in fact single—although you’re friends with lots of girls.
Are you gals making mischief over here?
This is a funny one, and the delivery is important: suspicion mixed with playfulness works well. You might add that they look shifty, like they’re going to steal something.
My friend wants to knowif you think I’mhot.
This is a fairly direct opener that offsets the direct question by asking it from a friend’s point of view.
I knowthat look. Are you gals male bashing?
When you see women talking seriously, you can open with this. Chances are they’re talking about men, and so will laugh. If not, they’ll still probably laugh because they know that they often are male-bashing.
How’s it going? We’re out picking up chicks.
This approach works purely because it’s funny. If you deliver the lines right, you’ll get a laugh. It’s important to make sure they know that you’re joking. Otherwise this turns into a direct approach.
Are you listening to our conversation?…
Then why are you acting so nervous?
This is a good way to open a group that is standing near you. You can follow up with something like this:
You: So what do you think?
Her: About what?
You: About what we were talking about.
Her: We weren’t listening!
You: Okay, well, we were talking about whether…
From here you can segue easily into an opinion opener (again, more on those later).
Which of you gals gets hit on the most?
This is a pretty good opener for two attractive girls who look kind of different from each other.
Are you confident enough to accept a sincere compliment?… Good, so am I—you go first.
This is a classic, and it will usually make them laugh. However, it can sometimes fall flat after they chuckle, so make sure you have something ready to follow up with.
Are you single? So when are you asking me out? Are you nervous?
This one works very well because it puts the girl on the spot and gets her frustrated. You can then release the pressure by nudging her and laughing or saying, “Wow, you’re really cute when you’re mad.” You want to fire the questions in quick succession without giving her much time to think or answer fully.
If I didn’t have a girlfriend and wasn’t gay, you’d so be mine.
This is a variation on saying you’re either gay or have a girlfriend. I think this one is better, though, because most people don’t want to mislead a girl into thinking they’re gay or have a girlfriend—and saying both suggests that neither is true. It’s also confusing, of course—but her subconscious will get that you’re actually saying, “Be mine.”
Hey, sorry I’mlate.
How the hell do you approach a big group who are waiting in the street or sitting at a table in a bar/club? In this way: talk about how the traffic was terrible; you’re Paul’s cousin, or bob’s nephew—whatever. It’s funny. When you get caught out, don’t dwell on it. Ask some names and find out what’s going on; then proceed as normal.
You have very thoughtful eyes. I think you have a lot going on inside here. (Touch her head.)
This is a good direct line to use on a girl who looks bored. Most guys go in with, “You look bored.” That’s never going to work, but this variation is a nice direct compliment.
Hey, I have a policy of meeting the hottest girl in the club when I go out. My name’s Rich. (Shake hands.) So, do you know her? (Point at another hot girl.)
Remember to deliver the first line deadpan and the second line with a big smile. She’ll probably give you a punch to the arm. Don’t worry: this means the opener worked and she likes you.
Opinion openers, a subcategory of indirect openers, are the easiest way for a newbie to start a conversation in a quiet club or bar. They’re good in that they can get a long conversation started pretty easily. A well-crafted opinion opener can guarantee you a few minutes of conversation in which to make a connection.
You’ve got two delivery options: you can either make it seem spontaneous or “root” it. A spontaneous opinion opener comes from reacting to something your friend supposedly said and simply asking whoever is nearest—who just happen to be a pair of hot chicks!—what they think. Rooting the opener means that you tell them the reason you’re asking, so that they know why they’re spending their time giving you their advice.
All of the examples below include roots, but remember that you can always go the spontaneous route if the situation calls for it.
Howsoon is too soon to get engaged?
Here’s how you might deliver this one: “You look like you can help me with something. My friend is coming in an hour and he needs my advice. He’s known his girlfriend for three months and he’s going to ask her to marry him tomorrow. He says he wants my advice, but I think he’s already made his mind up. I think it’s too soon, but if I tell him that he might never talk to me again. On the other hand, if I say it’s a good idea and it doesn’t work
out, I’ll feel responsible. So what do you guys think, how soon is too soon to get engaged?”
This is a fantastic opener that leads straight into relationship talk and has a lot of drama built in. It should hook very well.
What kind of present should I get for my friend’s girlfriend?
“Hey, I need your advice on something. My best friend had to rush away on business—he’s got the biggest business deal of his life going—and he’s asked me a massive favor. He’s given me two hundred dollars and asked me to get a present for his girlfriend. He’s done so much for me over the years, so I said I’d take care of it. I really want to get it right. I’ve been giving it some thought, but I’m pretty stuck. Do you have any ideas?”
This is a great one for daytime, in malls and stores, but it can also be used at night. It’s very flexible and also very engaging because it hits a great topic—shopping and gifts!
Howshould my friend deal with his jealous girlfriend?
Picture this conversation:
You: Hey, guys, let me get your opinion on something. I’m trying to give my friend over there advice, but we’re just a bunch of guys and don’t feel qualified to comment on these matters. Okay, well, my friend has been dating a girl for three months, and she just moved in with him. Now, this is a two-part question. Here’s the first part. So, imagine you’ve been dating someone for three months and he’s still friends with his old girlfriend from college. How do you feel about that?
Girls: That depends. Are they just friends?
You: Yes, they’re just friends. There’s nothing else going on. They talk like once a week at most.
Girls: I think it’s fine./I don’t think they should be talking. / Whatever.
You: Okay, now let’s say that he has a drawer in his apartment. And in that drawer he keeps all of his old photographs and letters. Now, some of those letters happen to be from exes and some of the photographs happen to be with exes.
Girls: Blah, blah, blah—concerned comment—blah, blah, blah—question.
You: It’s not like he ever looks at them. They’re just there, like old souvenirs and memories of his past.
Girls: I think it’s fine. / I think he should destroy them. / Whatever.
What do you think of piercings?
I deliver this one as follows: “Hey, gals, what do you think of piercings? My ex-girlfriend was a bit of a rocker chick, and she always used to say, ‘You should get a piercing here.’ (Pinch eyebrowto show where it would go.) I’m not going out with her anymore, but I’m still kind of considering it. Do you think piercings are sexy?”
This one goes into various areas of male attractiveness and exactly what women consider attractive in a man.
Do I look gay?
This one is a killer. It never seems to fail. The root could be that a guy just tried to pick you up, or your friend said you look gay in those shoes/that shirt, or you were at the bar (doesn’t even have to be that night) and you got hit on by a guy. They’ll laugh, and it just works like a charm.
Do you think David Blaine and Chriss Angel are sexy?
The follow-up (planting the root) is to say that you’ve been studying magic/psychic stuff/ESP or whatever, and that you wondered whether it was these guys’ looks or their abilities that made them sexy to some women. It leads into any skill you profess to have, or any routine you can perform, in these areas.
Do you believe in palmreading/handwriting analysis?
Follow with, “Me too,” or “I didn’t either, but then …” and go into a story about a relative who does it for a living and showed you some stuff. “I was skeptical, but I brought my friend along and they got everything right. I’m not entirely sold, but I’ve been learning it a bit and want to see if it’s a way to get to know people better, more quickly.” This is a nice way to open and lead into one of these areas in a smooth way.
Some opinion openers have more “walk-up strength” than others. If you have three girls sitting in the corner and need to go to them to make an approach, it’d seem strange to go out of your way only to ask if they think you look gay. That question, more spontaneous-seeming, lends itself to
someone right nearby. However, using “How soon is too soon …?” would work very well in that circumstance. Generally, you need a more serious opener for a walk-up.
Is it lying to use these openers? I certainly don’t see it that way. First, if you have something from your life that would work as a real opinion opener, then feel free to use it; it’ll work well as long as it follows the format of the above. My feeling on using these openers is that it’s okay to have an “excuse” to talk to women—and I’ve met so many amazing women from doing just that. We don’t have many real reasons to talk to women. We know what time the club closes, which bars are good, and what time it is, so why not use an excuse to talk to them that’s likely to lead to a good, genuine conversation?
It took a while before I had the confidence to deliver a direct opener. You have to believe in what you say and put yourself on the line. You have to have complete authority. If there’s even a hint of weakness and the girl picks up on it, the opener will fall flat. When you have confidence from your success with other openers, or if you’re confident because you can tell the girl is attracted to you, bring out the direct opener and it’ll be fantastic. You will receive super-fast results and women will think you’re incredible because of your boldness. With a direct opener, if she doesn’t respond negatively, take the direct route and escalate quickly.
Here are some examples:
I saw you and just had to come and tel you that you have the most amazing smile/energy/legs/fashion sense.
I know this is kind of random, but I had to tel you that you’re just too cute.
Do you know who you remind me of? Someone I want to meet.
I saw you and I knew that if I didn’t come and introduce myself, I’d be kicking myself al day.
I like you, and I’mgoing to get to know you.
Situational openers are what I mainly use now, after years of trial and error. When you find yourself spontaneously using situational openers, you know you have them down. This means you’re well on the path to becoming a true natural.
A situational opener involves taking something about the current situation and using that to start the interaction. It could be noticing something about the woman you’re approaching; it could be a Seinfeld-esque “What’s the deal with that guy?” Usually it’s noticing something about the environment and posing the first question that comes to mind: “How can they eat ice cream in the winter?” “Would you wear that?”
In looking back on an evening, I know when I used a situational opener because when I try to remember which opener I used, I can’t. It’s so natural and unconscious and uncalculated that it slips my mind. The way to become comfortable being as natural as possible is to get used to saying whatever comes into your head, without delay or planning.
Write down three openers you like; then go out and open ten new interactions. Your goal is just to open and stay as long in the conversation as you’re comfortable, make an excuse to leave, get the woman’s name, and eject. This is to help you get comfortable with opening sets. You wil notice that, as you become more comfortable, the interactions wil last longer and longer.