Do men like being approached by women?

Have not blogged in a while as I’ve been working on a super secret project (Ssshhhh… all will be revealed in due time). I felt inspired though.

As often happens when people find out I’m a psychologist, they like to talk about their intimate lives. Which most of the time isn’t terribly annoying, but is often as I like to call it, an opportunity to do some “field research.”

Some of the things I might say in this particular post may mostly apply to cisheterosexual men and women, but as the psychoanalyst Harry Stack Sullivan liked to say, “we’re all more human than not,” so the struggles I’m going to talk about might resonate with a lot people.

Women approaching men at a bar

I was at a bar in Brooklyn a couple weeks ago and I was talking with a woman about dating in New York City, and some of the challenges and anxieties people face. She was really resonating with the idea that people in this town struggle with a lot of social anxiety, finding that it’s easier to just stay at home, Netflix and chill with your own damn self rather than risk going out into the wildlands of social life in New York City.

Like a lot of people, including a lot of women I know or even worked with, she talked about how it has gotten harder to hang out with her girlfriends because so many often decide to just stay home on a Friday night.

One of the things she and and her girlfriends often talk about that makes going out really unrewarding is approaching guys.

Now this is like, the fifth person in as many weeks that has brought up this issue in conversation. And like other people, this woman would love to approach a guy they find attractive, but she didn’t think guys are really “into that.” That men would feel intimidated or not know what to do if a woman took the initiative in striking up a conversation.

What do (most) men think about being approached?

Now the truth is, a lot of guys, off and online, talk about how they would love it if a woman they like would approach them, so they don’t have to feel the pressure all the time of being the ones initiating an advance, and potentially getting rejected.

So what makes the disconnect? Why would a woman, approaching a guy, not receive a positive or enthusiastic response? A lot of women I’ve talked to believe it is because the guy feels insecure or that the woman taking initiative threatens their male ego, which presumes that if the man didn’t have a hang up about being approached, they would welcome the attention and respond positively, maybe even try to get the woman’s number or give them their number.

This in turn depends on the assumption that any guy would jump at the bit to get with any woman, really any one that makes herself available to him. This—I’m sorry to tell you—may not be true.

Men—like women—like being approached by women they like or find attractive. Which means that men—again, just like women—don’t like being approached by women they do not find attractive.

So what’s the disconnect?

A man who is approached by someone they are not interested in might get stuck in his head, and feel really awkward about making an outright rejection. Or, they may weigh whether to respond, because, hey, they’re a dude, shouldn’t they just accept any advance they receive from a woman? If they go along with it, it might get weird and potentially hurtful, especially if they are not truly interested in the woman.

For the woman that shit gets really confusing. Like, wait a minute, I did the thing, I approached the guy, why isn’t he responding?

They answer may have less to do with the man feeling his masculinity is being threatened (“What?! I AM THE HUNTER!!”), and more to with whether he is into the woman. If he lacks social skills or is not into her, he may not know how to respond, let alone reject the approach.

A deceptively simple answer

We all, men and women, whether cis or trans, LGBTQ or straight, want to make some sort of connection. And we’re all, also, really afraid and anxious. Specifically of rejection.

So everyone, not just men, should approach someone they like, and also, be prepared to accept a rejection.

Pro-tip: if it’s not an enthusiastic response, a welcoming response, an interested response, then it’s not a yes, it’s a no, which means—whether you’re a man or a woman—it’s a rejection.

Rinse, and repeat.

Daniel Gaztambide