Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dating and Attraction: Get Her Age (without creeping her out)

This one is important.

Summertime can be a dangerous time for the guy on the prowl. When I was growing up, only certain types of high school girls wore bikinis. Parents in those days thought anything too revealing was simply inappropriate. So, you could tell at a glance which girls on the beach were in high school and which were in college. At the time, given my sixteen-year-old libido, the logic of those parental restrictions was simply lost on me.

Now in my thirties, I can certainly see the sense of it.

Please bear in mind, I'm in no way moralizing on this issue. The simple reality is that once you're down to today's trends in fashion and makeup, there's just no way to clearly distinguish 17 from 27. And in the summer, this is even harder. You can't take it for granted that if you see someone working at a department store in the middle of the afternoon they must be at least out of school.

So the safest pickup tip for summer is this: DON'T GO TO THE BEACH TO PICK UP. Seriously...it's just a bad idea. The only thing that might play for safety is that if they're at the beach at 2:00 p.m. they're obviously not holding down a full-time job, and therefore are probably too young to consider. Don't believe me? Check out these pictures:

One of these models is 23. The other is 14. Think you could spot the difference on the beach? I doubt it.

What are you doing at the beach at 2:00 p.m. anyway?

Better bet: hit the pubs, patios, bars and clubs. At least you know they need an age of majority ID to get in. If they have a drink in hand, green light.

A reader emailed me this question last week:
"There's a really cute girl who works at the cosmetics counter at my drug store. Like REALLY cute. I can tell she's young, but she also seems to really know her stuff, so I'm thinking she must be in college. I'm 32. Can you find some tips on getting her age without looking like a creepy older guy who's just trying to hit on her?"
Derp...That's a tough question. For some reason it's still considered impolite to ask a woman her age (although it's easier with practice, and most don't really seem to mind). But how else are we supposed to know that we're not going to throw out a creepy vibe by flirting with someone who's too young?

Incidentally, in just my opinion, if this reader is 32 and she's 18, I still would probably suggest against it...it'll still seem creepy.

Anyway, I asked my friend Sam, who is a published relationship author and dating "guru" (his website will be relaunching soon...maybe we'll tap a guest article from him!) what he thought, and this was his response:

Wow, tough one. But you're right...you need that info. There are a couple of fun ways to do this though.
First, if the guy is shy, he could engage one of her co-workers in conversation. Use a product question as a point of engagement, and casually point out the girl in question, saying something like, "I didn't realize you guys were tapping the grade school pool for summer staff! How old is that kid?" This will usually get the co-worker laughing, and you can ask them more directly without looking like a nutcase.
Going directly to the girl in question, he could use a product pretense as well, just to get her talking and build a rapport. The trouble is the way the information is gathered. Some experts think a C&F approach with something like, "I didn't realize they were hiring high school kids as cosmetics experts now," would be a great lock, especially if there's already a bit of banter going. If you're lucky, she might respond positively. However, what I've found is that women 18-24 (roughly, of course) like to be thought of as mature and responsible. This is especially true if they're being professional or working in management. So the high school crack might be offensive.
By the same token, women 25 and up tend to like to be seen as younger than they really are. If she's obviously 30, then it would be ridiculous enough to be funny, and you might have a good opener.
Sometimes direct is better, but not too direct. Veil it as a compliment, and you'll have more luck getting the info you're looking for. I tried this out with a server at a pub in Toronto just to see how it would work. She was obviously the younger of the three girls working that night, so I thought it would make a good test case. Here's how that went:
Me: Wow, you really know your drinks for someone so young. How old are you anyway? (this is called a "neg." It removes me as a possible pick up artist because it kind of lacks their typical flow; yet it still shows a bit of interest, even though it's so casual...remember, it's not "normal" to ask a girl her age...she won't expect it from a PUA)
Her: Haha...guess! (this is a "shit test" that she threw back to see if I would jump her hoops...so rather than take the bait, I reversed it. Plus, this keeps her talking.)
Me: Should I guess high or low? (now I'm the one qualifying her...)
Her: Ummmm....low. (so now I know she's probably over 21, closer to 25, so I can ballpark it...but I'm still gonna swing wide)
Me: Then I'd say you're...nineteen going on twenty-five.
Her: Haha!! Nice...way to hedge your bets! I'm twenty-four actually.
Me: So I was right then.
Her: Looks like! (big smiles at this point...let her go)
When she came back to see if I needed another drink I said I had to go, but that we should get together for lunch the next day. After all, she works nights, right? So I left with a phone number and a date for lunch (which was a lot of fun by the way). I guess if your reader is interested, I'd suggest using either the co-worker approach or the conversation approach I just described. Just replace "drinks" with "men's cologne" or something (men's cologne is a good one...how could some high school kid know lots about men's cologne?...nice context there too).
If he's still only 80% certain he wants to try it out, start with the co-worker. Then if she turns out to be underage, or too young for him, he can pre-filter and avoid the conversation altogether.
Hope this helps.

So there you have it. Rule #1: Daytime pickups (especially at the beach) are riskier in the summer, so they're best avoided without context. Rule #2: If there's any doubt at all, you must get her age. Rule #3: If you're not sure how to start, go with the funny co-worker conversation. Rule #4: If you have an established frame of reference (i.e., you know her age), you can still use the age conversation as a fun opener IF you handle it the right way.

Thanks to Sam Adrian for helping out with this one. We'll keep you posted on updates to Sam's site when it's ready to go...I have a feeling we're going to be picking his brain a lot!

[about the pictures: The top picture is 14-year-old Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian's half sister. The bottom pic is 23-year-old Canadian film actress Veronika London.]


  1. Bear in mind that there are some pub like places that do allow children in bars, but they are not allowed to buy drinks. I've been to a couple. Now also from what I've read in other places, the children are asked to leave the pub (usually) after 9 pm. You still have to be careful in bars. The key is, as you stated, look for the alcoholic beverage.

  2. True, but we're talking averages here. Because the food is more expensive than, say, McDonalds, most teenagers don't just hang out in pubs. They're allowed in, but most of the time they'll be with their folks anyway.

    By the same token, teenagers will sometimes sneak into a nightclub. But your general assumption is that the vast majority of women in these places are actually old enough to be there. It's still a better place to meet than a beach.