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ESSENCE Truth or Dare Dating Challenge

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1. Get five friends to hook a sister up.

"Put out a dating SOS to your girls, telling them you'd like to be set up," says Julie Taylor, coauthor of How to Be a Dominant Diva (Avalon Press).

Why it works: Since the root of each setup will be a trusted friend, chances are you'll at least have a good time-or even five fun outings.

2. Check out a Lock and Key Party.

You're guaranteed to meet many eligible men at these events, at which every woman gets a locket and every guy gets a key. Mingling is inevitable because the goal of the gathering is to discover whose key fits into your lock. Find a party in your area at lockandkeyevents.com.

Why it works: "For just $15 to $45 you get a party experience with music, food, drinks and really cute guys," says Tosin Ola, aka Vixen, the woman behind The Bad Girls Guide blog (vixentales.blogspot.com).

3. Just ask a brother out, already.

That guy you've had your eye on? Give him a smile and ask him if he'd like to have dinner on Friday or go to a book reading this weekend.

Why it works: He just might accept! Need we say more?

4. Make it easy for him to approach you.

"Overtly suggest how he can ask you out," says Joyce Morley-Ball, a psychotherapist and relationship expert in Decatur, Georgia. Mention activities you would enjoy with him, and tip him off to when you're free.

Why it works: Men fear rejection, big time. But you're assuring him there's nothing to worry about.

5. Flirt with men you're not interested in.

Touch the postman's shoulder when you thank him for directions, tell the cabdriver this is the smoothest ride you've had all week, or mention to the 411 operator that you think he has a great voice.

Why it works: Practice makes perfect, and you'll want to be adept at flirting when a handsome catch walks into your life.

6. Don't decide for yourself.

Whether checking out brothers at a party, a club or online, let your best friend pick the guy you should go for. Why it works: "She may select someone you'd never even consider, and sometimes a guy you don't think is your type is the best one for you," says Taylor.

7. Seek spiritual guidance.

The pastor of your church is an unusual but excellent dating resource.

Why it works: "He knows everyone in the church, including who's single and looking," says Vixen.

 8. Take an AP class in dating.

Whether its experts are teaching you how to flirt like a pro in Dallas or giving a makeup makeover in Chicago, MoxieintheCity.net offers courses nationwide to boost your dating quotient. Why it works: At about $20 to $40 per event, even if the advice doesn't get you a guy, you're bound to have a blast meeting new people who might later introduce you to someone.

 9. Date EIGHT guys in one evening.

Get dressed up in your cutest outfit and go to a speed-dating event, like the ones hosted by hurrydate.com, 8minutedating.com or pre-dating.com. Sign up early-they fill up fast.

Why it works: With the number of guys you'll meet in just one night, you're bound to click with someone.

10. Get out of town.

Traveling on business? Hit a happy hour in a commercial district or a hotel bar that's popular with locals. On a solo vacation? Dine at restaurants where you can eat at the bar or there's open seating to up your chances of rubbing elbows with a single guy. 

Why it works: Travel broadens your horizons, automatically making you more open to new possibilities and people. "Embrace the fear you may feel about leaving your comfort zone, and you'll be more receptive to the men you meet," says Amy DuBois Barnett, author of the soon-to-be-published Get Yours: The Girlfriend's Guide to Having Everything You Ever Dreamed Of...And More! (Broadway Books).

 11. Open yourself up to compliments.

Whenever you go out, wear a conversation piece, like a colorful scarf, an antique bracelet or the Singelringen-a trendy turquoise band that's used to signal your solo status (singelringen.com). "It's one of the most daring ways I've come upon recently to help single people identify one another," says Vixen.

Why it works: It gives a guy an entry point for approaching you.

12. Get him talking.

Looking for an icebreaker of your own to approach a guy? Ask a question that lets him flex his mental muscle. At a movie theater? Ask his opinion of the flick you're buying a ticket for. At an electronics store? See what he knows about a particular brand of stereos.

Why it works: You'll have an easy, free-flowing conversation.

13. Have an ex fix you up.

Even if you don't have a specific guy in mind, just assume he knows cool brothers.

Why it works: Yes, it takes guts to tell your ex you're still single. But since he knows you so well, he could be a top-notch matchmaker.

14. Do the work for him.

Already got a date? Do the planning and take the pressure off him. (Design your perfect evening in the process.)

Why it works: He will be so happy he didn't have to think about this that he'll have a great time before the date even starts.

15. Send an anonymous valentine. Too shy for the face-to-face? This is your one chance all year to say "Be mine" to a brother through the postal system. Send him an old-fashioned card every day for a week and reveal yourself at the end of the week by asking him to meet you at a restaurant.

Why it works: By week's end he'll be flattered, extremely curious and eager to meet you.

 16. Date a friend's brother. Hey, he may have ruined that girly sleepover back in the eighth grade, but he could make your night now that you're both all grown up.

Why it works: Your friend was raised right, so you know he was, too.

 17. Wear sexy lingerie.

Why save it for the night you know you're going to get some, especially if it's just sitting around collecting dust in your drawer?

Why it works: Having sensuous, expensive underthings on when you go out makes you think sexy-and act sexy-without even trying.

18. Snag him at hello.

If a man looks interesting to you, say something-anything-and you could be halfway to a date. Hint: "Hi" works wonders.

Why it works: Men consider the most innocuous encounters to hold the possibility of romance. According to researchers at Elon University in North Carolina, when men and women meet for the first time, men are more likely than women to consider even brief interactions to contain sexual undertones.

One great way to clinch a second date is to get very close-but not quite-to a good-night kiss on the first one.

Why it works: It can be hard not to give in to temptation when sparks are flying, but remember, men want what they cannot immediately have. So display enough attraction and desire to let him know that you are quite certainly, most definitely, open to the possibility of kissing him, but that the matter is still under consideration.

20. Flip the Script.

"Date like a man," says Barnett. "See more than one guy at the same time. Take a day or two to call him back, and be the first one to end a conversation."

Why it works: Wouldn't you like to be in the driver's seat for a minute?

 21. Work Your Best Guy Friend.

Go hang out with a male friend and be each other's dating ally. "When you notice a studly male," says Vixen, "send your guy friend over to chat with him. A few minutes later, walk up and have your friend introduce you."

Why it works: This is an oh-so-easy icebreaker.

22. Work Your Girlfriend.

Next time you're out with an attached friend, ask her to invite the cute guy at the end of the bar over for a drink.

Why it works: She has nothing to lose because she's already taken. And there's no pride lost on your part because you're not the one who's initiating contact.

23. PLAN the Second Date.

How's this: "Isn't this merlot amazing? You know, there's a wine tasting in my neighborhood next Wednesday night; we should check it out." That didn't sound too bad, did it? "There's nothing wrong with showing your interest in moving beyond now," says Morley-Ball, who is also the author of Seeds for the Harvest of a Lifetime (Author House).

Why it works: Why leave Date No. 2 to chance when you can clinch it there and then?

24. Let Mom Hook You Up.

She may meet more single brothers in a day than you think, and she's not too shy to approach them.

Why it works: Come on now-no one has your interests at heart quite like your mother.

25. Test Our Advice.

Next time you're looking for a way to step to an eligible brother, tell him you read a story in Essence about dating that said men like to be approached by women.

Why it works: It takes nerve, but it'll get the conversation flowing easily and tell you a lot about his dating preferences.

 26. Avoid tossing 'em back.

If you're on a first date, order a drink to be social, but be sure to sip it slowly.

Why it works: It's counterintuitive. You may reason that a few drinks will relax you and make you more chatty and fun, but this strategy could leave you labeled That Drunk Girl.

27. Pick the Right Questions.

Instead of asking a man how he makes a paycheck, ask him what his passion is. Instead of asking him where he's from, ask him about the best place he ever lived.

Why it works: Being nosy is intrusive, but being inquisitive shows that you're interested and interesting.

28. Bust a Move.

Get active on your date. "Go hiking in a park, try your hand at bowling, or check out an arcade," says Vixen. 

Why it works: Even if you end up stinking at miniature golf, men are action-oriented, so your date will have a good time. Moreover, having something to do besides sit and talk over dinner takes the pressure off.

Filed Under: Expert Advice
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