Today, I commented on a conversation with a group of friends and acquaintances in D.C. about the bar scene, and specifically, how to approach someone at a bar, and which “pick-up lines” are worth using.

Personally, I’ll talk to a stranger at a bar if I’m alone and bored, but only when it’s obvious someone isn’t hitting on me. I’ll accept a drink from a stranger at a bar if it’s given as a genuine compliment, and it’s not apparent there are some ulterior motives attached. The first time I hear a pick-up line or anything resembling such, I’m probably not going to continue the conversation.

Here’s what I had to say about dating, and meeting people at bars:

“I haven’t dated anyone who wasn’t a good friend first for the past 8 years, maybe longer. Why? I want someone who is genuinely interested in knowing me, who isn’t afraid to get “deep” or talk about what really matters in life, and is willing to put the most authentic version of who they are out there. I’m disinterested in small talk, which tells me nothing about a person, and I’m even less interested in pick up lines, which often tell me about who a person isn’t or would like to be. If someone’s interested in getting to know me, they’re going to do it the old-fashioned way, through friendship, conversation, and spending time together. If someone wants to get laid without putting too much into it, they’ll offer to buy me a drink and ask what I do. My answer is “What I don’t do is meet strangers in bars, but thanks.” :)

The people who interest me are those who show me they’re interesting people who respect my intelligence and find me attractive, but aren’t plying me with alcohol and bad jokes to get me to sleep with them. I invest a lot in the people in my life, and trust and affection is earned over time. We might *meet* at a bar, but we’re not going to develop a lasting relationship or start a valuable friendship at the bar. You can buy me all the martinis you want, but if you’re seriously interested in me, you’ll have to call me and ask me out when we’re both sober.

I get annoyed with the clear disinterest in other human beings and selfish ulterior motives I see at bars and clubs, and it isn’t a gender-related thing. Both men and women show a huge capacity for being fairly vapid and shallow and not demanding too much in exchange for attention or affection. Both men and women allow how other people treat them, how much attention they get or how many numbers they get, to validate or invalidate a sense of being interesting and attractive.

I like bars. But they’re the place I go to have conversation with friends and significant others and people I already know and enjoy, not the place I go to seek validation via feedback from strangers. I miss the idea of the old 1920′s style bars, which were gathering spaces for artists and intellectuals.

Plenty of them got drunk, danced, had fun, hooked up, had relationships, and met new acquaintances. But somehow, some of the most creative ideas in the world were born, friendships solidified, the drama of relationships and marriages played out, and people had more interesting things to say than “You’re cute, where are you from?”

If I meet you at a bar, I might talk to you. However, your chances are so much greater if you’re a genuine person without ulterior motives. I seriously doubt I’m the only one.

If you’re single or in an open relationship and want to meet people, actually show interest in knowing people. Not because you’re out for no-strings-attached sex, or because your ego has taken a hit and you need a boost, or because you want a drinking partner who isn’t hard on the eyes, but because you’re the kind of person who is interested in other human beings. More than that, show interest in honestly putting yourself out there via real conversation that isn’t interrupted every time another attractive person walks by. It’s just a matter of respect and honesty–you know, the stuff that friendships and relationships are built on. Why would anyone want to go to the trouble of a drunken hook-up with someone who doesn’t offer any of that?

It’s not going to be an experience you remember. It probably won’t even be with a person whose name you’ll remember. Trust me.

Emotional and intellectual connection is hugely underrated, and an hour drinking at a bar with a stranger won’t get you that. If you do go home with that person, you’ll be able to tell you’re spending time with someone who could care less about you, and whom you’re equally non-invested in. I’d rather stay home and watch a movie or talk to someone with whom I genuinely share a bond.

Maybe that’s just me. I’m old, and not much fun. I’ve had enough wild times and meaningless encounters to identify the worthlessness of those experiences, and maybe everyone needs to go through that. Then again, I don’t really think it’s just me. I think there’s a lot of people like me, male and female, who are looking for much more than they’re ever going to find at the bar—but don’t know how to fill that empty space.

There are many shallow people out there looking for shallow things. If you’re not one of them, you have to set the bar high enough that you’re not going to tolerate anything less than what you want, just because you’re bored, insecure, or think you need to “play the game”. You don’t. You need to define the rules of your own game, especially if you live in Atlanta or DC or any other city that is known for being perpetually single, work-oriented, and transient.

tags, , ,

Comments are closed.