“Dang, girl, you look just like a banana.”

My friend Gaby was at a bar when an older man approached her and used this as a pickup line. While the line didn’t work — she in no way looked like a banana, nor understood how this would be flattering — I’m going to give this guy some props. It’s challenging to strike up a conversation with someone you’re interested in because it’s so easy to sound sketchy.

Surroundings are key.

A pickup line’s creepiness, for example, is inversely proportional to the lighting of your location. Going up to a random girl and asking, “Hey, do you want to get out of here?” in a park during the day is way creepier than asking in a poorly lit bar. Yet even in Yale’s poorly lit places, we tend to be skeptical of people who visibly hit on us, and more often than not, we’re too scared to visibly hit on people. We shoot people down constantly.

Once this guy was hitting on me at Box, and I already didn’t like him because he insulted the Phillies and earnestly wore his hat sideways. He drunkenly lost his balance, falling on my friend and spilling beer on my body. I didn’t give him a second chance, and maybe I should have. Another guy once approached my friend and “politely” asked her, “Do you care to dance?” and then pointed to his crotch. Poor kid didn’t get a second chance either. Sometimes, however, we give guys points for creativity. One guy asked my friend, after she had insulted his strange leather pants, “Do you want to see what’s underneath?” And she did.

Initiating is always challenging, especially at Yale. This is why blackout bros grind up on girls, and girls let themselves be grinded up on. How else to initiate contact? A conversation? Nah, man. Nah.

Sometimes we recycle contacts from our phonebooks. Technology fuels both our chronic shyness and laziness. We don’t have to look at a face, or deal with a face rejecting us, when the conversation is on a phone or a Facebook chat. But, technology is actually the worst. We are doomed to relearn this over and over again, as we continue to text regrettable things to regrettable people at late hours. Give me two drinks minimum and I’ll do everything in my power to text a boy something I’ll regret. It’s this weird instinct that kicks in with alcohol, like the urge to gyrate or eat nachos. It can’t be stopped. Your friends might try to stop you, but you’ll say, “No, no I’m just checking Nicki’s twitter,” and the second they turn their backs you text your ex-boyfriend a winky face. Or worse. This past New Year’s Eve I texted every guy in my phone book who I felt had wronged me “Fuck you” and a personalized insult. It’s not a good look.

We should all take more risks with people in the flesh. Despite what guys think, girls really want to be approached. Girls also wish it was easier to approach guys without coming across as desperate or too forward. My friend once told a guy in a bar she thought was cute, “I like your face.” It didn’t work. There’s a delicate balance to be struck between the forward, I-like-your-face-approach and my general approach, which is to lurk in the corner, play “Fruit Ninja” on my phone, and avoid making eye contact with people. My friends who are successful flirters, however, adhere to the holy trinity of flirting: the hair flip, the giggle, and the casual arm graze, which 60 percent of the time works every time. (Good flirters also have body language that doesn’t suggest they’d rather be home eating).

If you struggle with flirting and humans make you uncomfortable, another good way to initiate contact is to write an article insisting that Yale men are bad at sex. Guys will approach you who want to prove you wrong, insisting “you’ve been having bed sex because you haven’t had sex with me.” People will also call you a huge whore and/or virgin, so it’s really a mixed bag.

At the end of the day, confidence is the most important component of successful initiation. Confidence not only significantly improves a person’s attractiveness, even more so than symmetrical features, a proportional body, good hair, and the intoxication level of others in the nearby vicinity, but it also makes what one says sound funnier, smarter, and generally more charming, similar to British accents. I propose we all carry on as though we have British accents, and take more risks. Things might just work out.