People Tell Us Ideal Ways for Strangers to Hit on Them
"If I say 'no' or 'I'm not interested,' I should not have to tell you that over and over again."
Image via 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'
This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
I’m sure we’ve all imagined countless scenarios wherein a beautiful stranger approaches us and changes our life forever. One moment you’re standing in the grocery store, wondering what the least depressing shape of pasta is, and next thing you know, some angel walks by with a jar of Prego, a wedge of parm, and a smile that could bake cheese on spaghetti for years to come. It’s a chance encounter that could make your dinner, and your life, complete.
But across all these fantasies, my guess is that you never imagined your stars first colliding when you saw each others’ photos on the screens of tiny, handheld robots and slid your fingers across each others’ digitally-enhanced faces. And yet, tapping or swiping or clicking on someone’s avatar is the most common way for people to couple-up these days. Dwindling are the days when actual effort would need to be made IRL in order for romance to bloom. Today, finding a date can feel eerily similar to buying books on Amazon with a nearly-maxed-out credit card. You add items to your cart, and hope the transaction is approved.
So in service of those folks who still believe in the magic of a good pick-up, as well as those who are tired of strangers hitting on them with about as much respect as a sewer rat has for itself, VICE decided to ask people of varying genders and orientations to discuss their ideal scenarios for being hit on.
But as you might have guessed, people are into, well, all sorts of stuff when it comes to dreamy meet-up scenarios. While one person may prefer gentle, note-passing à la eighth grade, another may be more accepting of “direct hits”—for example, a pee-soaked queen in a leopard suit asking for their digits.
Jess, 29, interested in men and women
In public spaces, I would be most interested in somebody who is respectful of consensual engagement. I’ve definitely had experiences, with men in particular, where someone will just come up and invade my space without asking to do so. Say I’m reading a book or I’m out with friends, that person will just pull up a seat nearby and start talking to me without having asked. That, to me, is non-consensual engagement, and no matter what they say at that point, it’s already going to be icky.
If someone wants to approach me, passing a note would be a good way to do so. Because even if someone comes up and asks, “hey, do you mind if I ask you something?” it’s still sort of interrupting. Sliding me a note that says—“I didn’t want to interrupt you because I wanted to let you keep doing what you’re doing, but I wanted to ask you out. Text me at this number.”—would be really cute! It’s also not imposing. I can choose to respond back and consent to the engagement being continued, or, worst case scenario, they slip me the note, they leave, I throw the note away and continue on my day without having to deal with an uncomfortable situation.
What is the difference between guys hitting on me and girls? I don’t think I’ve ever had a woman hit on me. Vancouver queers are too fucking cool for that. I’m very straight passing, and more femme presenting, so I’m assumed a lot of the time to be straight. But I do think that I would be less grossed out and more inclined to engage with a woman than with a man in terms of a pick-up. I would still want a very respectful engagement, for sure, but to have someone come up and ask for my number or ask me a question, I would be more inclined to accept than with some random dude.
Casey, 31, interested in men and women
I don’t mind being approached—even if I have no interest. What I mind is when cues aren’t taken. It’s not too hard, with a certain degree of emotional intelligence, to tell whether this stranger [me] would like to converse or would like to be left alone.
When people hit on me, they usually don’t read me as a trans girl—and if they do, they don’t try to pick me up in the first place because that’s... kind of how things tend to go. But there certainly have been times when people will go out of their way either to make comments about the fact that I’m trans, or to ask me questions about me being trans in a way that implies “oh, don’t worry, I’m cool,” but I’d kind of rather that not happen.
There have been a couple times where people have said, within the first few seconds of talking to me, “are you pre-op or post-op,” and I’m like, “excuse me, can we talk about your genitals?” I have a really good story about a 7-Eleven clerk at 4:30 in the morning who was trying to pick me up and really failing and I was like, “I’m going to go now,” and he was like, “just so you know, I’ve gotten really proficient at anal,” and I’m thinking, That’s your trump card? This is what you pull out to save the whole transaction? What the fuck, dude?” He also asked the pre or post-op question, so, you know.
But I do think there is the possibility for random hook-ups or pick-ups to be good transactions. Last Friday, I was at a bar and this guy came and sat in the corner across from me. He said hello, I said hello, but he didn’t pressure me or annoy me—I was reading or something. But then we started chatting a bit more—kind of innocuous, silly stuff. He offered to buy me a drink, I accepted, and we chatted more. After a little bit I was like, “do you want to get out of here?” and he said, “yeah,” and overall it was a really good interaction. I feel totally good about the whole thing.
David/Dust*, 28, interested in men
*Dust is David’s Drag persona
First off, I like to think that there seem to be two types of people in the world: the hit-on-er and the hit-on-ee. I’m more of a hit-on-er. So if I'm feeling confident and I like someone, I will go up to them and get their number. That’s just how I do—in or out of drag. For me to be hit on? I like it very direct. I don’t like pick-up lines—I think that’s super ridiculous and a trope at this point, but I think there’s something special about someone coming up to you and telling you they like you. I also think picking up people is a dying art. We rarely do it anymore. There’s no, like, “oh, I just popped into this place for a drink after work and I met him.” People get more creative with it now, like, they’ll see someone at a bar and go, mmm, I see who they’re with, I know that person, and so I’ll just find them through their Instagram handle.
I have a really fun story about a pick-up situation when I was in drag. Last November, I was competing in Mr./Mrs. Cobalt All Stars, and I was doing a really crazy number, and I knew that this guy I had a crush on would be there. My plan was to ask him to go on a date with me. I was like, this is it, this is going to be the most empowering night; I’m going to ask him out before the performance. But it didn’t happen because I was too nervous before the show. Anyhow, I got up onstage and did the performance. I was wearing this big yellow dress, and I lip-synced to Annie Lennox’s “Why,” and I had my friend come out onstage and pee on me—like pee all over my face and all over me. I was wearing pads, but I had pee all over my face and everywhere, and there was no shower at the venue.
I finished my performance and took my dress off, but my pads [which I was wearing underneath the dress] were still soaked with pee! And so, when I put on this leopard bodysuit—like an ankle to neck situation—it got damp pretty much immediately. But I was feeling so empowered because people obviously really enjoyed the performance. People go fucking crazy for that garish stuff. So I went outside, walked over to this guy that I had a crush on, completely covered in someone else’s pee, and asked him to go on a date with me. And he said, yes, of course.
Jocelyn, 26, interested in men
My ideal situation would be in a non-alcoholic venue and with an approach that is easy to accept or deny. Hypothetically, a bookstore. If someone came up to me and was like, “what books are you buying?” and I was like, “The Bell Jar,” but said nothing else, then that clearly signals I’m not interested. But if I said, for example, “I’m buying The Bell Jar,” and then elaborated by asking “what are you buying?” and starting a conversation, then that would mean I might be interested. I guess my ideal pick-up situation would be with someone who understands the difference between responding out of politeness and responding due to genuine interest.
There are situations where I don’t like being chatted up. Like at a bus stop, on any form of transit, at a coffee shop where I’m clearly working or engaged in my own stuff, any time I’m wearing headphones.
Or when I’m out with my friends and having a good time with them. I always find it a little awkward at bars because it feels like people are waiting to isolate you from the heard. But the worst times are always on public transit. I say that because you feel so trapped. You’re stuck on the bus with that person, whether you want to be or not.
Levi, 28, interested in women
I have a plot in the community garden, and the other day I was thinking that if a girl walked up and complimented my green-thumbery, that’d be kind of sweet. I’d definitely prefer a scenario in which I’m alone. Having friends around would kind of destroy the moment. But I like the garden because it’s a very wholesome and disarming environment. It’s a place where you could have a nice, candid conversation with someone.
I once had a pretty bizarre situation involving a lady hitting on me. I was standing at the bar and she came up to me—grabbing on to me, talking to me, flirting or whatever. I was talking back, just being friendly I guess, and she was pretty drunk. Then she pulled me down toward her and started whispering in my ear. She immediately offered me a blow job and said something about blowing me in the park across the street. I started laughing nervously, and she just smiled and started whispering more stuff, like, just graphically describing what would happen after I finished in her mouth—like in a weirdly biological way. She was mapping the anatomical path of my jizz from her mouth to her stomach. I was a little taken aback, slightly weirded out but oddly aroused. I told her that I had a girlfriend, and left to meet my friends.
Matt, 22, interested in women
An ideal situation would be if a server that you’ve been having a back and forth with all night invites you back to their place, or leaves their number for you to talk to them later. She literally just writes on the bill her number and says “call me,” with a smiley face. Servers are always the hottest way to go. They have a position of power, to an extent, which is for sure attractive. What I mean is that, even though they have to talk to you, whether or not they invest in you is their decision, you know? They have the power to make the decision whether they’re going to hover and talk to you. And in this situation, it’s best if you’re in a group of friends. The male ego demands it.
Michael, 23, interested in all genders
I’m bigender and often present feminine. Getting a compliment on my outfit or presentation is always welcome. I usually don’t accept “wow you’re so brave” as a compliment because it strikes me as people trying to prove to themselves that they’re inclusive. Of course, it’s all subject to tone of voice, perceived intentions, etcetera.
I’d say I’m comfortable being approached in most settings. I only get annoyed when people start to believe that I owe them anything for being hit on. If someone calls me cute, great! But if they start trying to dance all up on me just because they said I was cute and I said “thanks,” then I have a problem. Acceptance of a compliment is not consent for entering into my personal space.
Jess, 30, interested in all genders
I don't mind the general action of being approached, as long as it is 100 percent respectful. What I don't like is the temper tantrums, name calling, disrespectful attitudes when I show disinterest. That shit scares me, and I never know which man is going to haul off and hit me for turning down his drink offer. Until violence against women due to men's general entitlement to our bodies and time takes a major downturn; being approached by a stranger will always put me on edge. If I let my guard down, I might be blamed for my own rape or murder.
Respectful would be 1. Not interrupting if I'm already having a conversation with someone. Even if you can 100 percent tell I'm with someone who is strictly a friend, interrupting someone is rude and shows you won't respect my words and thoughts when I feel like sharing them.
2. Not making any sort of comment about my body. Compliments land a whole lot better when they are given about a choice someone has made, rather than when it’s about something can't easily change.
3. Keep the first initial contact short. I might be here with someone, or meeting them shortly. I might be here to grab eggs for super really quick so I can run home and finish cooking something. Approaching to say hello then backing off shows a person is respectful of my time and my autonomy. Lingering around can be super creepy and intimidating, even if the convo is going well. The fact of the matter is: I don't know you and I didn't come here for you. It’s nice to meet you, now it’s time to let me do me.
4. Absolutely no negging.
5. If I say “no” or “I'm not interested,” the person should say “no problem, have a good night" then promptly leave me alone. Not for ten minutes. Not for the rest of the night. Forever. I should not have to tell you no over and over again.
6. Don't argue with me and try to change my mind about whatever it is that you're offering. Again, I've said no. Ignoring that answer is indicative of the fact that my voice will not be taken into account by you.
7. In the same vein, if I seem to be on the fence about your offer, don't push the subject. Back off and maybe there will be another chance.
Andrew, 26, interested in women
I’m a typical liberal-arts-holding 20-something cliché. Of course, I can imagine an ideal situation where I meet someone over a craft beer at a local cinema where we realize we’re about to see a classic movie we so coincidentally both love. Or maybe we catch each other’s eye in a park while one of us reads a book that evokes a big emotional reaction from the other. Groan. Vomit everywhere. What a sap.
But in all honesty, it’s more important what’s said. And all that matters is that anyone who’d try to hit on me or get to know me realizes I’m skittish and easily scared off by sudden movements and aggressive talk. Be too blunt in asking me out after we just met, and I’ll stammer out a laugh, avoiding both eye contact and your question. Use a pickup line and I’ll hightail it the other way, a sweaty mess. I want to be coaxed. Let’s take our time and just chat because inevitably I’ll cluelessly be the last one to realize anything’s happening in the first place.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily
Follow Mica Lemiski on Twitter.