MSN Dating & Personals

Beach pickup tricks

By Kimberly Dawn Neumann

It’s summer! Time to head seaside for some sun, sand and singles surfing. But if you’d like to actually take home a souvenir (i.e., some hottie’s phone number), you need to have a meeting plan. “If you spend the whole day lying on your towel with your head in the sand, you’re not going home with anything other than a sunburn,” says David Wygant, author of Always Talk to Strangers. “There is an art to meeting people but the beach offers lots of
great opportunities if you play it right.”

With that in mind, we culled advice from experts and real people to help you turn your beach- blanket flirtation into a shore thing.

Do practice strategic spot-picking.
Scope the beach before you decide where to drop your stuff by taking a little walk around the area. The objective is to land in hottie central. Otherwise, you may spend the whole day fighting off unwanted advances instead of um... enjoying the view. Or try this trick from Graham, 50, New York, NY: “I always sit near the water so that people get a chance to notice me! They have to pass by my towel when going to play in the waves, which gives me more opportunities for conversation.”

Don’t wear dark sunglasses.
You may think they make you look cool. Actually, dark lenses make you unapproachable. “If you need dark sunglasses because the sun hurts your eyes, be prepared to take them off when you smile at someone,” says Wygant. “Otherwise, your flirtatious efforts will be lost.” Another option is to get a beach umbrella so you can spend time sans specs.

Do create a sand trap.
If you create interest around you, you give people a reason to visit. “Try building sandcastles,” suggests David S., 40, New London, CT. “Even if you’re not artistically inclined, just start digging and have additional tools and buckets handy so if someone cute approaches, you can invite him to help.” Same thing goes for collecting interesting pieces of glass or rocks and arranging them near your towel as a conversation piece.

Don’t show too much skin.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it by all means, but please don’t go to the too-tight Lycra or nearly- naked extremes. “I know you’ve worked hard all year at the gym to get into amazing beach shape and you deserve to show it off but don’t be too obvious,” says Ryan, 42, Los Angeles, CA. “I’m much more captivated by the guy who’s giving ‘body’ beneath a tank top and surfer’s shorts than I am the shirtless guy who’s parading up and down the beach in his Speedo.” In other words, think sexy subliminal messages, not an overt I’m-so-hot advertising campaign.

Do walk the water’s edge.
Going for an actual swim isn’t the best way to snag someone—unless you stage a drowning to meet the lifeguard. However, standing in the shallow end or wading through the waves is a great greeting tactic. “One of the easiest ways to meet someone at the beach is to put your toes in the water and face a direction where you can see and flirt with people when they walk by,” says Wygant. “A conversation can be started with a line as simple as ‘Wow, this water is so cold!’”

Don’t hide behind technology.
You may really love your iPod, cell phone, or Blackberry but if you spend your whole day satellite-linked, you might as well be creating an electronic force-field around your beach blanket. “Don’t sit on your cell phone and use up all your free weekend minutes complaining about how you don’t meet anyone,” says Wygant. “Your friend on the other end is not going to introduce you to the hottie two towels away.”

Do play nicely with others.
We’re talking activities and games here. “I always bring at least two kites to the beach. A Delta flier that can be flown in impressive and dangerous-looking patterns but also has a lot of drag so I can fake being pulled by the wind in the direction of whatever cuties seem to notice,” says David C., 38, of New York. “Then after striking up a little conversation, I offer my second kite to the object of my flirtation and give him lessons which means I have to stand behind Mr. Cute-Shorts to demonstrate.” Other ideas? Bring a Frisbee and ‘accidentally’ toss it in the direction of someone you think is hot. You get the picture.

Do forget something.
“When you go to the beach, ‘forget’ to wear a watch,” suggests Wygant. “Then you can legitimately approach anyone and ask the time, which can lead to chatting but isn’t an obvious pickup.” Another item you might want to ‘forget’—or at least be unable to find in your beach bag? Try a high SPF sunscreen. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I grabbed my SPF 4 instead of SPF 40 by mistake, and this sun is so hot I’m frying. Would you have a stronger sunscreen I could borrow?”

Don’t shout out towel-utations.
Mind your towel etiquette or you’re doomed. “Saying ‘hi’ from your blanket makes you look like some desperate beach troll,” says Chris, 41, of New York. Other no-no’s? Don’t ever place your towel right up next to someone else’s. And never approach anyone who is lying out on their towel but hasn’t invited your attention. “It’s their personal space, and your invasion will instantly tick them off,” says Chris.

Do bring extra drinks and snacks.
Everybody loves a freebie. Bring some surplus sodas, beers, cookies, whatever. If you start sharing about mid-afternoon, you may find yourself instantly popular. If you don’t want to pack extras, then be a concession-stand saint instead. “Show your generous side by saying ‘Man, I'm thirsty, be right back,’ start to go, then turn to the cutie near you and say ‘Hey, can I get you anything?’” says Doug, 50, Newark, DE. “If he says ‘yes,’ go get it, and bring it back. He’ll probably ask how much it was, and you say ‘Ah nothing... my treat.’ Works like a charm!”

Don’t tan in packs.
If you place yourself in the middle of 10 of your best friends, realize that no stranger is going to bust through your tanning circle to say “hello.” If your goal is actually to meet someone, head to the beach with just a few other single-and-looking friends, and keep in mind it’s helpful if you all have different types. “Don’t go in twos or people might mistake you for a couple. Then again, don’t bring too many buddies, or it won’t look like you need new friends,” says Wygant.

Do show off your gym membership.
It’s just a simple fact, people notice great bodies. So, if you’ve spent time working on yours, you’ve done your pickup homework. “For gay men to be successful in picking up other gay men at the beach, there are only three things you must do: Make a serious commitment to the gym in the fall, make a serious commitment to the gym in the winter, and then make a serious commitment to the gym in the spring,” says Bob, 55, of Manhattan, NY. “By summer, pickups should be a breeze.” Even if you’re not ready to win a body-building prize, at least you’ll show that you care about yourself—which is always attractive.

Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a certified fitness instructor and health and fitness writer whose work has appeared in Prevention, Women’s Health, Weight Watchers, and Fitness magazines.

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