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I Don’t Know How to Talk to Guys

The Tiny 2-Word Phrase That’s Stopping You

black woman in jumpsuit on blue wall doesn't know how to talk to guys
Mike Von/Unsplash

In this article, you'll discover...

Table of Contents

Have you ever found yourself chatting with an attractive man when suddenly you hit an awkward silence or start overthinking about what to say next? 

Having an “I don’t know how to talk to guys!” moment can happen to even the most confident of women, so if you’ve ever experienced one, please know you’re not alone.

Growing up, I had social anxiety and would get nervous around guys. I could barely look most men in the eye, let alone actually have a conversation with them. “I can’t talk to guys” was basically my daily mantra.

I remember when I was 16 years old, my parents and I went on a Princess cruise ship across the Caribbean. 

I’d met this cute black-haired boy, Tyler, who was there with his family and his friend Russ. They were actually from a city that was only 20 minutes away from mine back in Oregon.

I must have gathered courage from being in what I call the Vacation Mindset, where your inhibitions are lowered because you’re in a new place where no one knows you. 

I ditched my normally-shy self and had so much fun around Tyler. I found myself falling for him as we danced together to Tupac’s “California Love” (ever the romantic ballad).

When the ship docked, we exchanged phone numbers and parted ways. After returning home, I waited about a week, desperately hoping Tyler would call – but no dice. 

I resolved to call him but realized that while conversation had flowed during our shared experiences of beaches, buffets, and island tours, I had no clue what to talk about with him now that we were back home.

So, I decided to first call Russ to warm up my conversation skills. 

I rehearsed exactly what I would say when calling his house, casually asking if Russ was available – but I didn’t think about what I’d say after that. 

When I called and Russ picked up the phone, I said, “Hi it’s Camille, from the cruise.” He said “Hi, Camille,” and then… I froze. 

I had no clue what to talk about next – and I had clearly caught him off-guard, so he didn’t know what to say to me either. 

After a 10-second silence, which felt like two hours, he said, “Well…my mom’s calling me for dinner, I’ll have to catch you later. Bye, Camille,” and hung up.

I was mortified, and my “I can’t talk to guys” mantra set in once again, remaining in place for several years.

All Readers Welcome

rainbow watercolor representing offline dating without apps for all humans

While this article was written with single women seeking men in mind, as that’s the perspective I can personally speak to, most advice is applicable to all genders and orientations.

So, if you identify outside of a heterosexual female, let me extend a warm personal welcome! 

I’m glad you’re here and hope my content helps you achieve your love/life goals even faster.

- Camille Virginia

Knowing how to talk to guys is a complete life-changer. Having that power means you’re just one sentence away from making a new friend or connecting with a man you end up spending the rest of your life with. 

I don't know how to talk to guys: 5 reasons why

Before we get into the benefits of learning how to get a guy to talk to you, let’s cover a few of the reasons that you get so nervous around guys right now.

Here are five common reasons you can’t talk to guys…yet:

1) You’re terrified he'll reject you

Fear of rejection stems from ancient times when getting kicked out of a community or tribe meant death for our ancient ancestors.

It’s an acute pain because Mother Nature wants you to make amends for whatever you did to get rejected so that you can be welcomed back into the safety of the tribe. 

That’s why humans are wired to seek acceptance – our survival literally depended on it.

While the ability to be accepted or rejected no longer means life or death, those ancient instincts haven’t completely gone away and the sting of rejection can still feel like your life is on the line.

Luckily, we’ve evolved enough to start overriding that fear, because if you haven’t challenged it lately, it’s definitely been stopping you from meeting great new people.

Also, did you know that the number one fear of men is the fear of rejection? 

So, no matter how scared you are of rejection, take comfort that the man you’re interested in is likely even more terrified.

2) You have no clue what to say to him

“But…what do I say to him?” 

My coaching client Jennifer had asked me after spotting a man she wanted to talk to. 

single white woman in bun holding sweater over mouth can't talk to guys
Adobe Photo

We were out at a bar on a Wingwoman Session, where I was helping her overcome her fear of talking to men by modeling how to do it and supporting her through each conversation.

I responded, “If your life depended on having to say one sentence to him, what could you find to say?”

She answered, “I guess I could compliment his jacket. It’s a cool shade of camel.”

I said, “That’s perfect. Now, go say that to him.”

So, she did – and, after a quick chat, he ended up asking for her phone number!

If you’re struggling to find something to say to a guy, simply keep it casual and contextual to the moment. 

Say or ask something about what he’s wearing, holding, looking at, his dog, his phone, his watch, the setting you’re in, or the people around you. 

Basically, anything you two both have instant context on in the moment. 

If you're struggling to find something to say to a guy,
simply keep it casual and contextual.

Topics like those are simply to break the ice and get the conversation rolling. 

But the icebreaker is an important entryway into discovering what sparks emotional attraction in a man and knowing how to get a date with a guy.

3) You're putting too much pressure on one conversation

It’s impossible to determine what role someone may play in your life after having one conversation with them. 

So, if you feel like you don’t know how to talk to guys, try easing up on pressuring yourself to make decisions that you don’t have enough information to make yet.

This relates to the negative mindset barrier, “I can tell instantly if I’m into a guy or not.” 

Sorry Charlie: No, you can’t.

If you feel naturally drawn or attracted to someone, simply focus on seeing where the connection goes. Approach them with a question or genuine compliment, then go with the flow from there.

That person might be your next big client, your new BFF, or the person who tells you about a new whiskey-tasting Meetup group that you end up meeting your future husband at. 

But if you cut someone off too quickly because of a flash judgment or arbitrary reason, you’ll never know the magical places that connection may have led you if you had simply followed it.

As long as you’re enjoying a connection with someone, just see where it goes. 

Release the pressure of trying to make a big decision, like, “Is he The One or not?” when you can’t possibly have enough experience with him to make that call yet.

4) You feel drained after talking to people in general

If you don’t feel confident talking to guys right now, you may just need to get to a more meaningful level of connection with them.

As an introvert who used to tailor myself to what I thought people wanted me to be, I used to feel completely drained by conversations. 

I would try to match other people’s high social energy – especially extroverts – and it was exhausting.

single blond white woman laying on bed drained from talking to guys
Kinga Cichewicz/Unsplash

I finally learned how to settle into simply being my consistent, authentic self around new people; the same way I am with my close friends or when I’m relaxing alone.

Every time you say something that you wouldn’t say to a close friend, or speak in an over-exaggerated tone that isn’t natural, you’re expending energy between your authentic self and a faux persona you’re projecting.

graph showing expending of energy with talking to guys

Even just a few minutes of this approach can drain your energy, let alone an hour-long conversation or an entire evening where you find yourself doing it. 

If you feel like any of that describes your approach to conversations, it’s no wonder you feel like you don’t know how to talk to guys – you associate it with draining the life force out of you.

Another reason you might feel like you can’t talk to guys is if you’re spending a lot of time online dating. 

Mastering how to send the perfect DM or 160-character text message often comes at the expense of practicing your in-person conversation skills.

That’s one reason why dating can feel really hard, and why I advocate offline dating – i.e. dating in real life, not online – to all my followers.

Conversation skills are like muscles – you either use ’em or lose ’em. And the longer you go without practicing in-person conversations, the more your communication skills will continue to atrophy.

5) You weren't exactly taught this in school

I’d like to take a moment of gratitude for grinding my way through AP Calculus because I use it so often in my life now. Insert eye-roll.

woman in bun with papers against face nervous around guys
Siora Photography/Unsplash

If the education system had spent a fraction of classroom time teaching basic social skills instead of math concepts that 99% of us don’t use in our adult life, the world would be a less lonely and more fulfilling place.

But alas, those social skills are not yet part of standard school curriculums, which leaves you to figure out important dating questions like, “Why don’t guys ask me out?” or “Why can’t I find a boyfriend?” on your own.

If I had my way, I’d add classes for single women to the curriculum like, How to Attract the Right ManQualities of a Good Boyfriend, and What Makes a Man Chase a Woman. 

Heck, I’d even add How to Flirt with a Guy since I use to teach a live workshop on the topic and have a lesson all ready to go.

But until someone gives me the magical power to control school systems across the world, those article links will give you the answers you seek 😉

Emotional Labor (it’s a thing)

Sociologist Arlie Hochschild originally coined the term “emotional labor” in reference to managing expressions and feelings in a job environment.

This could be a waitress or receptionist always maintaining a pleasant attitude as they serve customers, regardless of how they truly feel in the moment.

The definition has since expanded beyond work, now encompassing a woman’s tendency to constantly “manage” herself, her feelings, and her interactions with others. 

Emotional labor is the exertion of energy for the purpose of addressing people’s feelings, making people comfortable, or living up to social expectations.

Regardless of whether it’s a conscious or unconscious effort, the intention behind this arduous process usually stems from a desire to live up to other people’s expectations or to be liked by them. 

And it can feel ex-hausting.

Emotional labor is the energy required to maintain the gap between your real self and the version you’re projecting to the world.

Emotional labor is the energy required to maintain the gap between your real self and the version you’re projecting to the world.

Think about it: If you’re like many women, you’re constantly managing not only your own emotions but also taking into consideration everyone else’s.

Here are a few examples…

So, what does emotional labor have to do with feeling like you don’t know how to talk to guys?

Everything.

This constant surveillance of your emotions, thoughts, words, and actions requires a ton of energy to maintain. 

It can also suck the fun out of any conversation and lead you to believe that you “hate talking to people,” – despite the fact you can easily chat with your bestie for three-plus hours at a time.

The “draining” aspect of talking to other people comes into play the moment you become more focused on how someone is perceiving you rather than how much you’re enjoying the interaction. 

This often manifests in the form of presenting a more “polished persona” of yourself to the world.

Now, I’m all in favor of making a great first impression – but not at the expense of your happiness, and certainly not in a way that requires you to be anyone other than your authentic self.

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Share it to spark a conversation and connect with your followers…

Also, with technology providing us with endless entertainment and “connection” options, many people are now out of practice with how to actually talk to each other – as in, having a face-to-face conversation.

For example, if you haven’t chatted up a stranger in years, you’ll likely have some major fear around doing so because it’s become unfamiliar territory for you. 

On the other hand, if you complimented a random woman’s hat yesterday, you won’t have that same trepidation because your recent experience proved there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Even as an offline dating coach, I often hole up for several days to get into deep creative focus on a project.

Once I finally re-emerge in the real world, I’ve noticed it takes a conversation or two before I’m fully at ease talking to people again – because after just a few days I feel out of practice.

With many people feeling like they have to present a different version of their real selves, are out of practice with conversations, and spending more time online than in person, of course it feels hard to talk to guys. 

So, what’s the solution?

Time to find your flow

What if instead of feeling like you were “going into battle” every time you spoke with a new person, you instead felt like you were laying on an innertube, head tilted back, gazing at the blue sky, floating down a tranquil river to a dreamy destination?

single asian woman in blue dress motioning hands by river
Xiaole Zheng/Unsplash

Well, when you find your natural conversation flow, you’ll be able to enjoy a metaphorically similar experience. Minus the innertube and tranquil river.

So, what’s the secret to confidently chatting up any man? It’s being the same authentic version of yourself with everyone you meet: friends, coworkers, men you’re interested in, the cashier at Costco, everyone.

We’re drawn to authenticity because it’s real and feels good. We all want to live as our most authentic selves, but not everyone has that courage. So if someone is radiating that feeling, we can’t help but move towards joining their bubble.

Being your same self across every interaction prevents you from expending precious energy trying to keep up whatever different alter-persona you think you have to put on for each person. 

It also keeps you energetically aligned and naturally attracts the right people to you – including the right man.

Every relationship starts with one conversation, so be your real self from the very first word to attract the right people.

Every relationship starts with one conversation,
so be your real self from the very first word to attract the right people.

9 awesome benefits of knowing how to talk to guys

Once you understand why you feel like you don’t know how to talk to guys and start creating experiences that override that mindset, here are some of the many results you’ll enjoy…

#1 Errands become adventures

When you have the power to easily talk to anyone, the world becomes less lonely, and an everyday errand can become an amazing adventure. 

I used to hate running errands, going to the gym, going to the library, etc. – but now I see them as opportunities to put my cell away, look my best, and be feminine. Having the skills to start conversations with total strangers is invaluable, especially in the technical times we live in. Offline Living Rocks!

single white woman standing on cliff with camera
Donald Giannatti/Unsplash

You’ll see that you’re just one sentence away from connecting with anyone you want to – and every conversation you create holds the potential to bring someone new and exciting into your life.

#2 Easily chat up anyone (with zero risk of rejection)

Fear of rejection tends to surface when we get too attached to a specific outcome – like needing a conversation to lead to an ask-out. 

When you master the art of effortless engagement you focus on the opportunity instead of the outcome – which means there’s nothing that can be rejected or disappointing. 

You’re simply the person who casually talks to everyone about everyday topics, focusing more on enjoying the connection rather than achieving a certain goal with it.

Using my approach of speaking to everyone as if you’re already friends with them, you keep your initial investment in an interaction small. 

That way, even if the other person chooses not to respond in the way you were hoping they would, you won’t really care. 

Would you feel rejected if you asked your sandwich maker at Subway for extra pickles and she looked a little annoyed as she added them? 

Of course not. 

You’d be happy you got more of your fave topping and her tiny reaction would never cross your mind again.

#3 Feel in complete control of every conversation

On the apps, you’re at the mercy of whatever a complete stranger wants to say to you – whether that’s calling you a derogatory name, criticizing your weight, or sending you a vulgar picture.

When you do offline dating (i.e. meeting and dating without apps) and meet men in person as you simply go about your day, you have the power to choose who you engage with. 

Plus, men will inherently treat you better because their human instincts have a chance to kick in – and you can exit the conversation any time you like.

Also, knowing how to talk to anyone doesn’t mean you need to talk to everyone. It simply means you have the power to talk to any person you want to, when you want to. 

You’ll no longer be at the mercy of only discussing the topics other people want to talk about or feeling trapped in a boring conversation. 

You’ll feel more empowered to start a conversation once you know how to make it enjoyable and how to gracefully end it any time you want to.

#4 Never regret another missed opportunity

black woman in orange shirt with hands on hips can't talk to guys
Eye For Ebony/Unsplash

Back in my super-shy days, it was depressing to watch all my classmates easily connect with each other while I sat there feeling powerless about how to do it myself. 

If someone tried to talk to me, I never knew how to comfortably handle it, and would simply shut down.

I still cringe at a memory from when I was a teenage assistant camp counselor at Tryon Creek State Park. 

One of the head counselors, Jason, whom I’d had a crush on all summer, came up and started talking to me. 

I was so flustered all I could do was pretend to be focused on the clipboard of papers I was holding, giving him short answers and not even looking him in the eye. 

After about twenty seconds of unsuccessfully trying to engage me (which felt like an hour), he walked away. 

I felt awful knowing I’d missed out on the chance to connect with him – but I didn’t know how to talk to the guy!

#5 Create instant rapport from the first word

When you talk to a stranger the same way you would a close friend, something magical happens. The person will likely respond to you the same way they would to a friend. 

Sharing a comment that’s relevant in the moment and in the same casual tone as a friend reminds them of other people they know, like, and trust, so they instantly begin to feel the same familiar comfort with you.

This “instant trust” phenomenon isn’t usually a conscious one, (“Wow, this random woman is talking to me just like my best friend Ellie does! I’m going to trust her as much as I trust Ellie…”).

It’s usually a feeling they aren’t even aware of (“This person makes me feel comfortable”).

People can usually tell when you’re being inauthentic or have an ulterior motive (like bragging or selling something), and that tends to keep them stuck on small talk because it feels safer. 

No one wants to be vulnerable with someone who seems untrustworthy. 

I’m sure you’ve experienced a conversation with someone where you felt there was something disingenuous about them. Even if it didn’t feel malicious, it probably prevented you from going past basic pleasantries.

#6 Naturally attract the right people to you

People can feel it in their bones when a person is being authentic, which means that showing your true self to everyone is a powerful way to attract the right people into your life.

Being your authentic self attracts the right people – including the right man – to you like a magnet.

Being your authentic self attracts the right people
(including the right man) to you like a magnet.

white woman and latina woman smiling together
Omar Lopez/Unsplash

On the flip side, if you’re displaying a fake persona that doesn’t show your true self, how are the right people – including your future guy – supposed to find you? 

What’s worse, being anyone other than yourself will start attracting the wrong people to you; the ones who resonate with the phony signal you’re emitting. 

Then when the real you appears – which it always does, eventually – they’ll feel duped at the difference.

I’m acutely aware of this character “bait and switch” because I did it for over a decade, especially with men. 

I used to feel like my real self wasn’t interesting or worthy of the guys I liked, so I’d pretend to be someone I thought they would be more willing to accept. 

But as time went on the “real me” started to come out – and suddenly the “play it cool and casual Camille” they’d been initially attracted to was replaced by “insecure Camille who needs a lot of attention.”

Once you figure out what your voice is, you’re in a league of your own.
Because no one can compete with you being you.

So if you want to attract the right people – including men – into your life who love and accept the real you, it’s your responsibility to show them who you truly are from the very first conversation.

#7 Honor your own feelings first

Being your consistent self doesn’t mean maintaining the same emotional state all day, every day.

For instance, maybe you had a bad start to your day. You woke up late for work, spilled coffee on your white blouse, and the first email you opened was an annoying request from a high-maintenance client. 

If you were meeting your best friend for lunch later that day, would you “put on your happy face” for her after going through a morning like that? Of course not.

You’d let her know today isn’t exactly the best day ever and that you’re a little grumpy. 

You know she loves and accepts you regardless of your mood and being true to your emotions in that moment feels better than pretending that everything is, “Just fine, thanks.” 

So, honor yourself and how you feel in the same way with everyone else you encounter too. Pretending to appear any way other than how you truly feel will only make you feel worse.

If you find yourself in a bad mood, obviously don’t be rude to people, but maybe give yourself a break from actively engaging with others, or keep interactions to the bare minimum until it passes. 

You’re always allowed to feel how you feel, and those moods always pass in time.

So if you don’t know how to talk to guys, start by honoring your own feelings first so you can kick off the conversation on an authentic note.

#8 Satisfy your innate need for social connection

Engaging with another person fulfills your intrinsic human need for social connection, no matter how brief the encounter might be. 

Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival: to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, and to be appreciated.

That’s why when a person says something random to you, it’s usually more about their need for connection than it is about the actual topic. 

This phenomenon is called a “bid to connect,” a term coined by Dr. John Gottman of The Gottman Institute social research organization.

For example, if you’re at a coffee shop waiting for your drink order to come up and an elderly woman next to you says, “Their bacon quiche here is delicious, have you had it?” that comment isn’t really about the quiche. 

It’s about the woman’s need for connection in that moment. So don’t get hung up on the topic, just roll with it. 

Maybe share the moment with her by saying something like, “I haven’t tried it, what makes it so yummy?” It’s a simple opportunity for both of you to exchange a few words before you go your separate ways. 

Plus, you never know where that interaction may lead. Maybe a few seconds later her extremely handsome, single grandson walks up and introduces himself to you.

#9 Validate yourself on a deeper level

If you’ve been adopting a “polished persona” for a while, you may feel out of touch with how to be your authentic self around others – or worse, convinced yourself that no one would accept the real you. 

single blond white woman standing by a waterfall
Kalen Emsley/Unsplash

Yet you haven’t even given them a chance to. You made that decision for them without even giving them the option to decide for themselves, which has essentially robbed them of the experience of the real you.

That’s why a deeper benefit of showing everyone your genuine self is that it validates to yourself that the real you is fabulous and worthy of engaging others.

When I was walking down the aisle, I was walking toward somebody who didn’t have any idea who I really was. And it was only half the other person’s fault, because I had done everything to convince him that I was exactly what he wanted.

Discovering how to talk to guys will feel incredibly liberating. 

It will also create a new truth for yourself that overrides any feelings of inadequacy you’ve developed by limiting how you show up in social situations with men and people in general.

Conclusion: You can learn how to talk to guys (with ease)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about chatting up men, letting alone flirting with them and knowing how to get a guy to ask you out, just remember there are legitimate reasons why you don’t know how to talk to guys yet:

  1. You’re terrified he'll reject you
  2. You have no clue what to say to him
  3. You're putting too much pressure on one conversation
  4. You feel drained after talking to people
  5. You weren't exactly taught this in school

No matter the reason(s) you tend to get so nervous around guys, these natural fears can be overcome with just a little practice. 

Once you start building up your social confidence and conversation skills, you’ll enjoy benefits such as…

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Camille Virginia
Camille Virginia

After graduating from Santa Clara University with a degree in Marketing, I worked in the corporate consulting world for over a decade before starting my business Master Offline Dating to help singles attract love in the real world.

But my true passion (and the secret sauce to my clients' incredible results) is helping people create more meaningful in-person connections in our digitally-disconnected world.

I'm now the #1 Offline Dating Expert, an award-winning writer, and author of two best-selling books. I've also taught over 100 live workshops, reach subscribers across more than 130 countries, and have been featured in major media outlets including the Atlantic, the BBC, and USA Today,

Meet Camille

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Article By

Camille Virginia

#1 OFFline Dating Coach +
Best-Selling Author

I believe that every day presents countless opportunities to find love. I’ve made it my mission to help you overcome your fears, unlock your innate connection skills, and attract your perfect partner in the real world. 

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