Confession #13: The Freeze

Over the last six months, I’ve done some typical single guy things like going to bars and Vegas. Not a lot, but a few times. In doing so, I’ve learned something about myself: I freeze up at bars.

I should say that my ideal bar experience is one where I go with a group of friends and hang out in a place where we can hear each other and just relax and have a few drinks. But I also really enjoy flirtation–I’m just not good at initiating. Nay; I’m terrible at initiating. I really do freeze up. I reach an unhealthy level of high anxiety.

Which is crazy, in a way, because I think I’m actually pretty good at talking to people. I enjoy the banter and the flirtation. It’s just that ability to walk up to a woman and say something that eludes me.

In Memphis, I had a major breakthrough with this. A friend of mine (who I will now forever respect and be indebted to) basically just said, “Okay, we’re doing this,” and went over to a few women with me before I had a chance to protest or think about it. He had a brilliant pickup line that shall never be repeated…in fact, it wasn’t so much of a pickup line as an ice breaker. And just like that, I broke through this enormous barrier that I had built up over the last 6 months. I had a great time talking to one of the women. I’ll be honest–it felt amazing. And it was much easier to talk to people at the bar the following night…I was literally about 10 times more relaxed. No freeze.

In a way, it felt a little like the first time I went on a roller coaster…when I was 17. I was so scared of them my entire life, and I decided to finally just get over it. So I sat between my two funniest friends and laughed/screamed the whole way up and down. My stomach still flips when I go on roller coasters, but I enjoy it now instead of dreading it.

So what have I learned from all this?

  1. Anxiety can build up to near-paralyzing levels, but a single breakthrough can make a huge difference.
  2. Friends can help in a huge way by stepping up. This one may be obvious, but I think my friends did exactly the right thing in both of those situations. Us guys, we kid around and mock each other quite a bit. And for the most part, that’s part of the hilarity of male friendships. But sometimes you have to put that aside and just grab your friend, take him over to some women, and put everyone at ease by saying something brilliant and ridiculous so you can have a fun conversation.

Have you ever had a breakthrough like this, and possibly a friend who helped you?

17 thoughts on “Confession #13: The Freeze”

  1. That picture is classic!

    Congrats on overcoming the freeze. Now, how about a woman overcoming it? What’s the right and wrong way to approach a guy anywhere. I see myself doing it, but I can never MAKE myself do it. I give advice, but I can never take my own. I need to get out more… LOL

    • That’s a great question–how does a woman overcome the freeze? I would think for the most part that men are going to approach you, but not necessarily the men you want to talk to. So for those men, having a bold friend definitely helps. I would say that the more you think about what you’re going to say and do, the worse the freeze becomes. You just have to jump in. I’d say lead with a question, a fun question, maybe something with a little sass.

      I wouldn’t say there’s a wrong way to approach a guy, but there will be the possibility that he doesn’t want to talk to you after a few minutes (I’m being blunt here). I’d suggest making him chase you a little bit if he’s interested: Go over and chat/flirt/banter for a few minutes, then excuse yourself while leaving something for him to follow up with you about. That way if he wants to continue chatting, he’ll find you. If not, there’s nothing lost.

      • I have a slightly different perspective on Jamey’s advice. Jamey noted in his post that he enjoys “the chase”. I’m going to posture that 50% of men do enjoy “the chase” (completely arbitrary estimate) and 50% hate “the chase”. I’m going to represent those who are not in favor of the chase and say that once you’re talking to a guy, if you’re really interested, don’t leave unless you stop being interested…or you’ve probably lost about 50% of guys you’ve already hooked. Many guys (myself included) would then consider you to be only marginally interested and move on. It’s fine if you leave, but if you’re truly interested, be forward and give the guy your phone number and tell him to call you tomorrow before you go back to hanging out with the girls.

        • Trev–This is good advice, but I was thinking more along the lines of if a Girl A is talking to you but you actually want to be talking to Girl B across the bar. It’s tough to get out of that situation. So I was thinking if Girl A gave you an out, then you could go over to Girl B or go back to Girl A. But I agree that in general, if a girl excuses herself, that’s generally taken as a sign that she wants to move on.

        • I like that. Here’s one though. I’m not a drinker…like at all…so unless I’m with friends, I’m never in this scene/situation. Now what? LOL, is water as a response to “Can I buy you a drink?” weird?

          • I’ll be honest–if a girl at a bar says, “I don’t drink,” it comes across as a rejection. I think a better answer is, “I’d love a drink, but a soda would be great–I’m not drinking tonight.”

  2. So Jamey, are you saying that you will no longer be frozen when approaching women? Or only so if you have a bold friend there? I think there’s a distinction and I’m curious as to your answer.

    • Oh no, I wouldn’t make a claim that brash. I’m sure I’ll freeze up again. But I think I’m a little less likely too now. I still don’t think I’d be good in any environment when the music is too loud–I’m most certainly not the type to walk up to a woman and start grinding on her.

      Having a bold friend will certainly help, though. And I think I’d like to be the bold friend too if I’m not single. The non-single bold friend really has nothing to lose.

      • Haha. Fair enough. And yes, I agree….the non-single bold friend has nothing to lose….the single friend just has to support him with semi-decent game.

  3. First, I have to laugh because we had identical first roller-coaster rides, right down to the age!

    Secondly, welcome back to the world of non-forced single-hood which is really not all that different most of the time.

    Thirdly, as a lady, I must say that I do *not* envy the guy’s position of being the approach-er. Although “waiting to be approached by the RIGHT guy” is no picnic, either. Which is why sometimes we women do make the move… but the point is, I’m glad you aren’t a wait-for-the-ladies-to-come-to-you guy. It’s time for the men to start being gentlemen again, even if they have to watch Kate & Leopold to learn how to do so. 🙂

    • Maybe 17 is the ideal age for those of us who grew up afraid of roller coasters. Probably has something to do with peer pressure.

      To be clear, I WISH women would just come up and talk to me–that would be much easier on my blood pressure! 🙂

  4. two things (at least!) pique my interest about this post, jamey. first, any man who has so many ryan seacrest-ish qualities needn’t freeze around women. you, sir, are that man.
    second, and this is a legitimate query, what is it with pick-up lines (or whatever you choose to call them) and secrecy? i knew someone once who was quite adamant that he had the best pick-up lines ever, and that he would never, ever share them. so there. my question would naturally be, well, why not? if these lines of picking up get out, does that mean less women for you and more for me?
    because, personally, i would be fine with that scenario.

    • Ha ha…I don’t know if I’m all that happy about being compared to the Seacrest. But I’ll let that slide.

      As for pickup lines, I don’t know about that other guy, but the only reason I didn’t post mine here is that it’s not the type of thing I want posted in public forever. I’m happy to share it, just not here. I’ll e-mail it to you.

  5. thanks ryan. i mean—no, seriously. thanks for the note. i can see why you would opt to not broadcast *that* to the world. for now, anyways. though if it happens again, i must insist that you check yourself into an insane asylum or some equivalent.

  6. The fact that so many people are hesitant or ambivolent about talking to strangers, you could think, makes it easier to be really good at it. Being good at stuff people think they’re bad at is kinda easy (many people hating it leaves a lot of room for people to be awesome at it), but kinda impressive.

    My complete favorite thing in the world is good conversations. Here are some of the tactical techniques I do to encourage good convo:
    1) In the beginning of a conversation, I always try to continue to open the conversation further. When someone asks where I’m from, giving a one-word answer makes things harder for both of us. Having a few basic stories I’m comfortable telling makes things easier… not a 5 minute story, but things like, “well I grew up in St. Louis and moved for college, I like where I live now better” gives a little bit of intrigue and conflict to jockey with in a non-offensive way. And leads to an easy next question (why do you like…)
    2) Most conversations start with the same basic facts. I try to get beyond them quickly to the interesting stuff. What do you do? Boring basic necessity. Why do you like it? Interesting. I believe good questions are the key to amazing conversations.
    3) When stuck for questions, I ask “origin” questions. If I find out someone’s job or studies or whatever… I can always ask a “how did you get involved with that?” or “did you always have an interest in…” type question and it usually leads somewhere interesting. Best is when I ask a question that makes the other person think a bit, because then you get very genuine answers and reactions.
    4) I try to balance building common connections/identities, but quickly saying things that can be mildly contraversial (see St Louis line above). Gets interesting quickly, and I can always change my mind as a result of what the person says.
    5) I try to come across as very “warm” for my first impression. This doesn’t work for everyone, but in general it seems to make the other person comfortable. Likewise with being positive and confident.
    6) I try to use the words “yes and” instead of the words “no but”. No but conversations go nowhere fast. Conversations are meant to build upon ideas to create common interest.

    Anyway… that’s my style. “Yes, and” I love conversations.

    • Lisa,

      It sounds like you think about the art of conversing just as much as I do. I like the idea of mixing in a little mild controversy in what you’re saying. As for the idea of saying “yes,” I think I wrote a while back about the power of nodding versus shaking your head. People will walk away with a better impression of you if you nod more because of the affirmative connotation associated with it.



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