by Jack Dalton on December 11, 2012

The thing is whether you’re a dude (or a woman) looking to get laid or looking to find the woman (or man) of your dreams, meeting people just isn’t what it used to be. It used to be simple. You grew up in the village, they gave you a wife, you had sex together until one day you keeled over in the field and the whole town wore black in your honor. Now, we have to go out to places – like bars and restaurants and airports – and we have to gather the interest and the balls to approach some attractive member of the opposite (or same) sex and basically without even saying a word, show them that we want to exchange bodily fluids. The lions and monkeys are laughing at us.

So we write books about it – lots of books (The Rules, The Game). We make TV shows about the process – some of them fake (“SATC”, “Girls”) and some of them real (“Miss Advised”, “The Bachelor”) – and we commiserate with each other at the bar, the restaurant, the airport, and still, we go home empty-handed. And for dudes, more often than not, we go home with our dick in our hands.

Unfortunately, the most critical aspect of this process is often left unmentioned – which is that rather than approaching each other with visions of sugar plums and Playboy orgies in the air, we need to approach each other like we’re starting a business deal. We need to always be qualifying. What is qualifying, you ask? It’s the art of identifying other single people as well, single. It’s what moves the conversation from buddies to fuck buddies, or even the future Mr. and Mrs. Married Suckers, if that’s what you’re looking for.

You wanna hear a story? Good, because I have one.

So, it was a crisp fall afternoon. I was in line at a trendy coffee shop, getting ready to pay more for a cup than I would for a gallon of gas. It’s a scenario that happens everyday. Boy gets cup of coffee. Girl gets cup of coffee. Boy and girl try to get each other. And the operative word here, ladies and gentlemen, is try. So this adorable brunette walks in – olive skin, dark hair, great tits – she was like Pocahontas’ great-great-great-great granddaughter.

My mind raced as I tried to figure out the best way to approach her. And here’s where we all screw up. Because our mind is so busy racing, we either don’t go in at all or we come at it looking like a moron, which is what I was about to do. We stood like sheep waiting for our names to be called, when the barista shouted out, “Jack!” I knew my timing had to be perfect. I slowly made my way over to the cream and sugar counter and waited for Dances With Sexiness to join me. 

I decided to go bold as I explained to her as though we had known each other forever, “Look, I really just think we should be friends.”

“Really?” she laughed, clearly aware that I was hitting on her.

“Okay, fine,” I relented. “If you want we can be more.”

“You think so,” she replied, putting the top back on her coffee, and getting ready to leave.

I decided I should shoot my flair, asking, “So what are the chances of me seeing you again – 1% or 2%?”

It was an easy line, one I can throw off without hesitating.

“Oh sorry,” she said, genuinely looking sad about it. “I have a boyfriend.”

I tried to play it cool as my back crippled over like I had a bad case of scoliosis. The old boyfriend reply – there is nothing more damaging to the male ego than rejection. But honestly, it was my fault. I jumped the gun, and had done a hasty approach, because I failed to qualify Already Taken as single before I put myself on the line.

When we qualify, we are able to find out about the boyfriend before we’ve invested three jokes and an invite, but more importantly, before we’ve invested our pride. I know more guys and girls who have given up on dating because they are tired of hearing no. Are they bad people? Absolutely not. But are they confident people? Absolutely not. And confidence attracts.

That’s why it’s critical that you protect your confidence at all costs. That’s why you must always be qualifying. It’s like going on a sales call to a client who doesn’t have the budget to buy your product. If I didn’t do my research before pitching him, it would be my fault for going after the wrong prospect. Likewise you need to do your research when going in on someone. Because here’s the deal, when you ask someone out, and they respond that they have a boyfriend, chances are they’re lying. Now, sure, there are the people who are madly in love with some schmuck who just happened to get there before you, but really, what they’re saying is that you just got voted off the island. At best, they’ll let you qualify for the shitty ghetto in the middle of the island reserved for friends. “Oh so I get to be your friend, while you go fuck someone else?” That sounds awesome!

Why hang yourself out to dry like that? After my coffee shop rejection, I realized that before I ever went after another woman again, I would change my approach. Instead of asking if I might see them again, I might first want to ask if they had a boyfriend or girlfriend or intense cult affiliation. A few weeks after my coffee rejection, I was at a crowded restaurant in LA, and I met a woman from Kentucky. Before our conversation went any further, I asked, “So is your boyfriend also from the South?”

She shook her head coyly, and giggled, “I don’t have a boyfriend.”

I smiled, “Neither do I.”

It was a low-key approach that immediately sets up a number of things: one, that she was single; two, that I was single; and three, that there was enough interest there for both of us to admit it.

I didn’t have to do some ridiculous song and dance only to find out she had some baby daddy on the other side of town. No, I get to keep my pride, and maybe get her number. Before you go buying the milk, you need to see if the cow is single. Because we aren’t assigned brides or grooms anymore, and we certainly aren’t assigned one-night stands – and thank God, because I like choosing those. In fact, I’ve made a career of it. But with choice comes great responsibility. We have to do the work, and we need to make sure we don’t lose our balls in the process. So get out there, go in on the next hot chick or dude you see, and remember to always be qualifying. What’s the worst thing they can say? I have a boyfriend. And if so, you can always lie, and say, “Funny, so do I.”

Jack Dalton is the author of “Hesitation Leads to Masturbation: A Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Laid.” When he’s not banging chicks, he is busy inventing the next Mars Rover, working on the perfect Cantonese accent, and operating a towing company using only his moustache.