Is it still acceptable to ask a stranger out in person? New Yorkers weigh in

Katheryn Rose, 33 Ryan David, 31 Jose Palanco, 34
Between the advent of dating apps and a cultural reckoning in the wake of the #MeToo movement, many daters are left wondering: Is it still acceptable to ask a stranger out in person?

C’mon with the come-ons.

Between the advent of dating apps and a cultural reckoning in the wake of the #MeToo movement, many daters are left wondering: Is it still acceptable to ask a stranger out in person?

And while today’s singles are currently rewriting the rules of engagement, the consensus, according to The Post’s polling, seems to be “yes” — just don’t be creepy about it.

“I wish it happened more often,” Astoria resident Kathryn Rose, 33, told The Post. “I think it’s a lost art.”

“Honestly, it feels pretty good to the ego,” 28-year-old Jhonatan Mendoza told The Post — though he rarely does it himself.

“I wish it happened more often,” Astoria resident Kathryn Rose (center), 33, told The Post. “I think it’s a lost art.” Stefano Giovannini
“I wish it happened more often,” Astoria resident Kathryn Rose (center), 33, told The Post. “I think it’s a lost art.” Stefano Giovannini

Mendoza is in a crowded company of reticent male singles: About 45% of men aged 18 to 25 polled by behavioral neuroscientist Alexander on the website Date Psychology had never approached a woman in person.

But why so? Dating coach Blaine Anderson found that 53% of men say the fear of being perceived as creepy “reduces their likelihood of interacting with women.”

“There’s a difference in male and female being picked up on the street,” New Yorker Jose Polanco, 34, told The Post. “It’s the whole power structure thing.”

“I’m sure every girlfriend, you know, has some horror story or experience where they were uncomfortable,” 30-year-old local Ryan David told The Post. “I just never want to be in that category.”

Friends Jhonatan Mendoza (left), 28, and Ryan David, 30, discussing dating etiquette in the East Village. Stefano Giovannini
Friends Jhonatan Mendoza (left), 28, and Ryan David, 30, discussing dating etiquette in the East Village. Stefano Giovannini
“There’s a difference in male and female being picked up on the street,” New Yorker Jose Polanco, 34, told The Post. “It’s the whole power structure thing.” Stefano Giovannini
“There’s a difference in male and female being picked up on the street,” New Yorker Jose Polanco, 34, told The Post. “It’s the whole power structure thing.” Stefano Giovannini

Melissa Di Menna, 43, can attest. “It always depends on the person who’s hitting on you,” the Canadian said. “Sometimes it could be annoying or sometimes it’s flattering.”

Many said that being approached by a stranger for romance varies depending on “vibes” and “feelings,” but according to men’s dating coach Connell Barrett, there’s a subtle difference between flirtatious and freaky.

Melissa Di Menna (left), 43, and Laurence-Anne Charest Gagné, 29, agreed a friendly in-person approach is fine depending on the person. Stefano Giovannini
Melissa Di Menna (left), 43, and Laurence-Anne Charest Gagné, 29, agreed a friendly in-person approach is fine depending on the person. Stefano Giovannini

“The first kind of creepy is a guy who objectifies a woman for her looks and her body — like a cat caller,” Barrett told The Post.

Another, he said, “hides the reason he’s there” and is “not putting any romantic cards on the table.”

To avoid being put in this category, men should express good intentions.

“Just be straightforward. There are a lot of stupid lines out there,” Laura Beasley, 54, explained to The Post.

“Just be straightforward. There are a lot of stupid lines out there,” Laura Beasley, 54, explained to The Post. Stefano Giovannini
“Just be straightforward. There are a lot of stupid lines out there,” Laura Beasley, 54, explained to The Post. Stefano Giovannini

The married New Yorker always appreciates being approached even if she has to politely reject them “because then you can decide whether it’s for you or not.”

However, some women worry a rejection may lead to more than an awkward moment but an act of violence.

“The first thing we teach our male students is like, the first thing a woman thinks when she sees your photo on a dating app is, ‘Is this guy a killer?'” Emyli Lovz, co-founder at EmLovz, told The Post.

The dating coach advises men to smile, make eye contact, have open body language, reference other people in their lives and voice that they won’t be hanging around all night to let women know they’re safe.

Experts and daters agree that the most successful approaches are friendly, straightforward, confident and quick.

“Just be very polite and think before you say something. Be intentional and calm,” Iris Liao, 18, told The Post — although the flustered Gen Zer would prefer not to be approached in person.

“Just be very polite and think before you say something. Be intentional and calm,” Iris Liao (center), 18, told The Post — although the flustered Gen Zer would prefer not to be approached in person. Stefano Giovannini
“Just be very polite and think before you say something. Be intentional and calm,” Iris Liao (center), 18, told The Post — although the flustered Gen Zer would prefer not to be approached in person. Stefano Giovannini

And she’s not alone.

“I think [dating apps] have made it a lot harder,” 43-year-old Lower East Side resident Sean Howard told The Post. He met his last partner at a bar but recognizes it seems like a rarity nowadays.

“I think people are more standoffish now when you walk up to someone in person. I think [dating apps] have made it harder because people have expectations of, ‘Oh, I’ll just go online and search through all these people to find a date,’ as opposed to just going out.”

While there’s a seemingly endless supply of potential dates openly advertising online, many still believe approaching a person IRL can lead to a more authentic connection.

“I think people are more standoffish now when you walk up to someone in person. I think [dating apps] have made it harder because people have expectations of, ‘Oh, I’ll just go online and search through all these people to find a date,’ as opposed to just going out,” Sean Howard, 43, told The Post. Stefano Giovannini
“I think people are more standoffish now when you walk up to someone in person. I think [dating apps] have made it harder because people have expectations of, ‘Oh, I’ll just go online and search through all these people to find a date,’ as opposed to just going out,” Sean Howard, 43, told The Post. Stefano Giovannini

“It’s more genuine. You can have a real conversation with someone up front,” Howard said.

“I feel like with the dating apps a lot of people are messaging back and forth with a pen pal and so you have this idea of who they are, it builds up in your head, but they’re not the actual person you’re talking to and then you meet in person and it’s a disappointment. Then you both leave feeling bad.”

While you might be able to gauge someone through an app in a generic sense, people still question the authenticity of some dating profiles.

“I would prefer getting hit on in public because I’m like, ‘OK, you already see me in real life.’ There’s no second-guessing how I look or how I think you are,” Richard Lynn, 19, told The Post.

Along with an “organic connection,” 26-year-old Brooklynite Jackson Manuel said you can “see somebody’s charisma in real time.”

“That’s something that’s not shown over an app,” he added.

Great conversation can lead to a connection, but every relationship still needs a spark.

“It’s not really about what you say. It’s more about what your eyes say,” Canadian singer Laurence-Anne Charest Gagné, 29, said. “You just have to feel it.”

And, as Polanco put it, “just lay off the creep vibes.”