You don’t have to take anything too seriously, but there is some serious business to be done here.

Photo by St. Mike.

Don’t let the fact that it’s 2013 scare you. You just want to have some fun, meet people, and maybe even find true love. More realistically, you want to enjoy a night out, and if a date happens (and that’s a big if) you’re hoping it’s not just a pity fuck. So this is what you do: You put on your best shirt, your best shoes, your least grubby underwear, and a confident smile.

When you arrive at the bar or restaurant, don’t slouch, be attentive, and try to speak to anyone that looks interesting. This can be trickier than it seems, and part of your job is to make sure you don’t look too needy or desperate.

Because of your own self-consciousness, you may feel more than a little pressure to be more outgoing than you usually would. Don’t worry too much about this. Think more about how to approach someone and what to say, and then do it. Just be yourself and whatever you say will be interesting and rememberable. If you want to be cool, just listen to hip-hop and rap and rap and then talk about how awesome you are, and remember to be genuine.

Now, let’s get into the big stuff. Here’s how to approach a bar or restaurant.

When to Approach

If you’re right on the cusp between cute and hot—or, in other words, if you have a subtle glow about you but aren’t on the verge of throwing off an erection—it’s best to put yourself out there early. You can still get in the mood, get some drinks, and potentially get lucky early in the night. Approach between 8 and 10 p.m. at the most.

If you’re not right on the cusp of sexy but you don’t want to make things weird, now is also a good time to approach. If you’re a bit nervous, the bar may have a group you can join or you can mingle with people around the bar. Both are preferable to trying to approach people at table.

When you’re right on the edge of being hot, it’s a good idea to wait until around 11 p.m. because people are usually done with dinner by that point. If you’re feeling even hotter, consider having a few
We’re talking about dating in 2013—internet dating, that is. No need to fumble around in a dimly lit bar when you’ve got nothing to lose. Thanks to the rise of dating sites like OKCupid and Match, you can get to know potential suitors ahead of time. Sure, you could just go to the bar and hope for the best, but real dating involves some degree of online interaction. This guide will get you acquainted with the world of dating websites.

Won’t the Internet get me in trouble?

While it’s true that « people you don’t know » can be dangerous, don’t worry: The Internet is known for being able to create family even without a personal connection. You can get to know people using tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Once you create your profile, you should only fill out the information that you’re comfortable with sharing with people you don’t know.

Also, because you have your very own Google profile, you can answer a multitude of questions about yourself—not just your hobbies and relationship history. If you’re concerned about your background, The Secret Life of the American Teenager has a good primer.

What kind of questions should I ask myself when I’m creating my profile?

You should describe your sense of humor, your ideal partner, and any disorders that you have or have had. Here are some possible questions to ask yourself:

Are you compassionate, honest, and kind?

Do you have any disorders?

Are you a smoker?

Are you involved in any clubs?

Are you into music?

What is your favorite vacation spot?

Are you stressed out a lot?

Are you a morning or night person?

What are some of the things that you like to do on a weekend?

Do you prefer to have or to show a good time?

Do you have any illnesses?

What are some of your favorite things to do?

What are some of the things you are looking for in a relationship?

What are your best and worst qualities?

Do you like to have fun?

Are you into the arts?

What are some of your hobbies?

What do you like to do?

What should I ask my friends when I’m trying to get in touch with them?

Before you ask your friends to be your wingmen or wingwomen,

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