Dear Auntie Seraphic,
You've written before that Nice Men are extremely annoyed when a lady looks at them like a frightened rabbit. I've discovered lately that I do just that. While I smile at nice men who ask me to dance or whatnot, I smile what my friend terms a "Please-don't-eat-me smile." I've caught myself in the mirror and thought about how I hold myself when meeting men (or it may be people in general, but I think it's worse with men) for the first time, and it's quite true: I look scared stiff.
Since you don't know me I know you can't tell me why I do this (and for the record I have a lovely dad, good brothers and wonderful guy friends, and I haven't dated yet, so no traumatic experiences behind it). I was just hoping that, since looking scared is apparently a fairly common problem, you might have some practical advice on how to not look so, without necessarily knowing what causes the look-of-terror.
Scared Bunny Face
Dear Scared Bunny Face,
Nice men come up to you and ask you to dance and whatnot? Poppet, you are ahead of the game: A. these are nice men and B. they come up to you. I have readers dying to be you. Obviously you look approachable, and that is great.
Now what men have written to me is that they hate it when women look at them like they (the men) are potential killers. Frankly, some men like girls with big, timid eyes. It makes them want to hug you and say, "Don't worry, little bunny! I'll take care of you!" But let's assume you aren't looking at nice men like a sweet little bunny per se but like a sweet little bunny about to be pounced on by a big murderous OWL.
Personally, I always used to look at strange men like they were potential killers. But then I had my Heidi Klum Moment of Revelation, and it was that men like women who have big toothy smiles. What set Heidi Klum apart from a host of supermodels in their Victoria Secret undies and wings, in the eyes of my then-boyfriend, was her big happy smile. So my first piece of advice is to practise flashing a big happy smile at people. Enlist a friend for practice. Get her to pretend to be a nice man.
Friend: Wanna dance?
You: (flash big happy smile) Sure!
Friend: How's it going?
You: (flash big happy smile) Great! You?
Friend: So you enjoying the party?
You: (flash big happy smile) I am now!
Yes, at first this will feel fake. But do it often enough and it will become your natural, spontaneous reaction to nice men. (If you have trouble telling bad men off, create a different scenario in which your friend says something rude, and you scowl and say "Get lost.")
My next piece of advice is to watch the movie called Swingers. Make sure it is the one with Vince Vaughan and is in the comedy section, not the yucky section in the back of the store. Swingers is the most brilliant movie I have ever seen about men and how they feel about meeting women.
Essentially, going up to women can terrify men. You may not know this, but sometimes when nice men go up to women to say "Hi", women are really, really rude to them. In Swingers, the hero tries to talk to a woman at a party. She asks him what kind of a car he drives. When he tells her, she walks away. Ouch! Harsh! But this kind of thing actually happens to guys.
My favourite scene is the one in which Vince Vaughan's character gives the hero a pep talk ending with "You're a Bad Man. A Bad Man. Bad Man." Although reprehensible from a Christian Ethics 101 point of view, it is screamingly funny. It is so funny, that if you remember it when guys come up to you, you will have no problem with your big happy smile. Bonus: he talks about the girl the hero wants to talk to being like a little bunny rabbit.
Finally, when I first laid eyes on the man who would in less than eight months (!) become my husband, I was nervous. I was really nervous. But when I saw his incredibly LOUD tweed jacket, I firmly thought, "Just A Friend." The thought that Benedict Ambrose, aka Mister Tweed, was Just going to be A Friend calmed me right down. I smiled and let him lead me away for a meat pie and ale in the nearest nice pub. I revised this hardline "Just A Friend" attitude later, obviously.
Here's my CR article on the topic of talking to boys. I hope it is helpful!
Grace and Peace,