Breaking the ice on dating apps is pretty low-stakes. Since you’re not face-to-face with the object of your affection, if they blow you off, your ego usually doesn’t take the biggest hit. But ask someone to approach a complete stranger in real life, and you might watch the color drain out of their face. How do you even go about breaking the ice IRL? And what if the person blows you off?
Well, according to Megan Stubbs, EdD, a sexologist and relationship expert, people rarely blow others off face-to-face. “Most people are polite, and chances are they aren’t going to reject you outright,” she says. That said, thinking of an opening line can be rough.
But it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re at a bookstore, a coffee shop, or just walking down the street, it’s surprisingly easy to strike up a conversation with someone. And a lot of the time, the best way into a conversation is to just ask a question, because it immediately gets the person talking about themselves (which tends to be a lot of people’s favorite topic). This helps spark conversations with people of all genders — and whether the person you want to talk to is a potential romantic partner or someone you just want to learn more about.
(Though just in case it doesn’t go without saying: You should never have to play dumb to get a date — if you already know the answer to a question, it’s best to find another way in.)
Ready to break the ice? Ahead, find a handful of ways to start a conversation face-to-face.
It’s a compliment and a shopping recommendation all in one.
This one works whether you’re chatting up the cashier or a fellow customer at your regular lunch place.
Waiting through some unfamiliar opening acts during a concert isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it can be good fodder for striking up a conversation.
If you feel awkward mingling at a party, you’re probably not the only one. Break the ice by sussing out whether the two of you have any mutual friends.
Hey, group hangs need not always be a buzzkill. If you spot a cutie sitting alone at the bar, inviting them to join you all. Your friends can help break the ice and leave room for a little one-on-one time later on.
There are way too many beers in the bodega fridge, if you ask us. Luckily, that surplus lends itself to a key icebreaker. Already a beer expert? Ask them to pick between your two favorites as a tie-breaker.
See a bae browsing at the bookstore? Strike up a conversation. You may find yourself bonding over Neruda in no time.
This works especially well at a cocktail bar. But people are usually extra chatty when booze is involved.
Commenting on a pup is paramount to complimenting a child to some people.
Who doesn’t want to feel good about their footwear choices?
If you’re at a coffee shop, this line is a great way to break the ice — and get you to try a new coffee drink.
Since you’re asking them to join a group, the pressure is off. Use the time between questions to get your flirt on — and see how up-to-date they are on current events.
Simple, but effective.
Use this one while waiting in line at Whole Foods, and then segway into a conversation about soft cheese vs. hard.
This is great for those people you know you’ve seen at your local bar or on dating apps, but haven’t actually spoken to yet.
Employ your friends to help you break the ice. Even if you don’t score a number, you’ll score a photo for Instagram.
Spread the music love while also getting a sense of what kind of tunes they’re into.
Misery loves company, right?
Put those post-workout endorphins to use by bonding over your mutual love of indoor cycling.
Screw Yelp — ask a cute stranger instead. If the conversation goes well, you can even invite them to join you.
Hey, markets put the best things in hard-to-reach spots sometimes. And who doesn’t need a little help from time to time?
Put Google Maps away and ask a local! It’s more fun looking into their eyes than looking into your phone screen.
Double points if they suggest a duet for you two to sing together.
Shopping for a gift for your friend/cousin/sibling? Ask the object of your affection if they’d be stoked to get it themselves.
Seriously, though. Does anyone actually know this?
Who knows? You may learn something about a band you never knew.
No one would ever turn down free food, right?
Sometimes, a gimmicky pick-up line is just that — a gimmick. Muster up the courage to just introduce yourself. It could turn out to be a pretty amazing decision.
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