James M. Sama with some man-to-man advice on when to leave a woman alone.
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen or heard about women who are completely annoyed by men who have approached them in public when they were giving ‘clear signs’ that they wanted to be left alone.
Let me start by saying that as a man, I understand the frustration of getting an attitude from a woman you doesn’t know anything about you when you are just trying to be nice to her or say hello. Unfortunately, many women are on the defensive these days when a random guy approaches them because frankly – a few idiots have ruined it for the genuinely good guys.
But that being said, there is also a time and place for everything, and if you do want to start a conversation with a woman, the first thing you’ve got to do is make sure that she’s open to it [or not]. If you don’t pay attention to her non-verbal cues that she’s doing her own thing and doesn’t want to be talked to, then you will immediately be on her nerves before you even say hello.
Here are a few things to watch out for that signal you should just keep it moving, at least until the circumstances have changed.
1. She’s wearing both headphones.
Whether she is at the gym focused on her workout or just walking down the street, she probably doesn’t want to be bothered. It may or may not be personal, but both headphones in is the universal sign for “whatever I’m doing, I’m focused on it – leave me alone.” If you can’t pick up on that, why would she think you could pick up on any of her other wants and needs?
2. Her baseball cap is pulled down over her face.
If she’s standing in line for coffee looking down at her phone with her hat pulled over her eyes, she’s hiding. If she’s waiting for coffee that means she hasn’t had it yet, and we all know how days begin before you’ve had your coffee. She probably isn’t wearing makeup and isn’t feeling her best, so she doesn’t want to talk to you, man.
If you can’t help yourself, make your move by buying her coffee for her and let her start up the conversation if she wants. If she doesn’t, take your extra bonus points and wait for her to recognize you next time.
3. Her body language is closed off.
This is perhaps one of the most obvious but also overlooked signals of availability, or unavailability. Crossed arms, body turned away from you, avoiding eye contact, or other ‘barriers’ should all be clear signs to save the pursuit for another day. Some ‘dating coaches’ will try to sell you ways to overcome her attitude, but if you make her uncomfortable in the process, you’ve already lost.
4. She’s avoiding eye contact with you.
…Or, with anyone. Making [and holding] eye contact would be on the list of signs you should approach a woman, so then common sense tells us that avoiding contact with people means that she doesn’t want to be talked to. She is not being coy or cute or feigning shyness so you will go chat it up to her, she is literally trying to avoid you, and pushing it any further will make her uncomfortable.
For example: Whether or not she is reading a book will not tell you if she wants to be approached or not. What will tell you is her willingness to look up, look around, and smile at passers-by. If she is buried in the pages and is clearly focused, leave her be.
5. She’s working on her laptop.
Whether you are in a bookstore, coffee shop, or cafe – it is easy to spot quite a few people working on their laptops, particularly in the millennial age of “work from anywhere you want.” But – that means she is doing exactly that, working. She might be doing homework or writing her manuscript or preparing for a big presentation she has in 45 minutes. One thing is for sure though, she has not hauled her workspace to the local Starbucks in hopes that someone will come charm her out of her pant suit.
Point number one will also likely apply here.
The real takeaway here is the simple but overlooked idea of just being considerate of other people’s personal spaces. Comfort and safety are of paramount importance to a woman – and once she feels as though either of things are threatened, you will never be able to recover them. There are plenty of opportunities to meet or be introduced to new women, but as I mentioned earlier – there is a time and a place for everything.
Have you ever had someone just not be able to take a hint and wouldn’t leave you alone? Let us know about it in the comments below!
Originally appeared on James M. Sama’s blog.
Photo: Flickr/Nana B Agyei