In "Effort Aversion: Or, Why You Don't Work Hard and Get Laid", Gem asks the following about picking up girls with male friends or orbiters around:
“Chase is there a way to efficiently approach girls who have orbiters with them; the problem here is sort of congruent to approaching a set I would think where it's tough to make a smooth natural approach because it isn't one on one.
Lately I've been seeing a lot of girls with orbiters at the gym (it's quite sad really), and my standard approach here has always been to wait till the orbiter goes to drink water or use a separate machine and meet the girl in that break that she is alone. If the guy comes back he may come back or stay away and if he comes and she thinks they're good "friends" she might introduce him (or otherwise ignore him; it makes no difference once I've met the girl).
A great girl I met yesterday took me a long time to approach because her orbiter was with her forever watching her squat ass to grass and not even working out haha. The girl and I met eyes several times but I couldn't approach till the guy went to get water. Finally I met the girl and moved things forward and the guy didn't come back but I remember kicking myself at how long it took and if there were a better way I could think of to do the whole approach would have went for it right then
Approaching girls with male friends hanging around. It's something that can scare you off of approaching at all, at least early on.
Yet, this one's far from impossible, and you may even find yourself getting a kick out of doing it if you're of a competitive nature.
Sometimes it's just fun watching that other guy's jaw drop in frustration and awe as you sweep in and make the kind of connection with a girl in minutes he's been working months to have... and then ask her out and get a "yes."
Of course, there's some nuance here - and chief among the details you need to mind is whether the girl respects the guy or not... and if so, how much.
Because how she thinks about, feels toward, and treats him is going to have big implications for the kind of approach you need to do to make the kind of headway with her you want to make.
Before you go diving in to liberate some girl from the uninspiring
men hovering about her, the first thing you need to assess is what the
situation is between her and those men... because different situations
will call for rather different approaches.
The possible scenarios you'll encounter are:
- She's just met a guy / guys
- She's acquaintances with him / them
- She's friends with him / them
There's also "she's already together with him", but that one's
covered in this article: "How to Steal a Girl from Under Her
I'll go into more detail on each of these non-attached scenarios here, and how you differentiate them.
She Barely Knows Him
When a guy's hanging around a girl and she barely knows him, there are a few usual dead giveaways:
If he's an unwelcome interloper or hanger on, you'll notice her giving him only the briefest of eye contact, polite-but-unwelcoming smiles, and often throwing about looks of exasperation after turning away from him, to show the world that, "Hey - I'm not with this guy"
If he's neutral and not creepy, but also not all that interesting, she'll be polite, and will talk to him the way she might talk to a random middle-aged woman who approached her to talk - politely, with some mild interest, and a little back-and-forth, but still somewhat preoccupied with whatever else she's doing and not turning her full attention over to this person who wants to speak with her
If he's smooth and attractive, she'll be very visibly excited - lots of animation, lots of communication. For obvious reasons, women don't behave this way with men they already well know, usually... even if the guy's very attractive and someone she likes a lot, she's just not going to be bouncing off the walls to talk to him
Those are the girl's signals. There are also typically a few from the guy:
Most men stand uncomfortably far away from women they've just met. You'll notice a larger gap between guys and girls they've just met typically than you will between opposite sex friend confederates who are better known to one another (exception: men who know what they're doing with women, who will always be close and comfortable, regardless how well or not they know a girl)
Most men just meeting new women are overly stiff and not relaxed, and will have their bodies fully turned toward the new women they're talking to... even as those women give them only partial body attention (again, the exceptions here are men who are good with women)
Most men just meeting women also talk about ordinary "getting to know you" topics if you're within earshot of them and can hear what they're saying. Someone she's known a good while won't ask her where she works and what she does - only someone who's just met her will
The "barely knows her" guy is the easiest to get around typically, because his connection to her is string-thin, and he often isn't going to have much he can say or do to turn things around if you step in with better fundamentals and better game and she just likes you and takes to you more.
We'll talk more below about how to run your approach when one or more guys like this are present - for now, this is how you identify a guy falls into this category (and is likely of the lowest threat level of the different men you might classify as "orbiters" you'll find hanging out around a girl you'd like to meet).
She's Acquaintances with Him
This is the guy a girl knows casually and has met before, but isn't actually all that close to and isn't someone she'd consider a legitimate "friend."
He isn't someone she's going to invite to a party she's going to
this weekend, for instance, or someone she'll call to ask for help
moving out of her apartment. He's
just some guy she knows whom she runs into every so often and has some small talk with.
These guys can potentially turn into something more for the girl - if for instance a guy is taking a slower approach with her because he's running slower gym game or classroom game or workplace game - but usually they're just harmless men hanging about hoping for a break or just being flirty and social.
They generally fall into these categories:
The annoying guy who keeps bugging her: this is the guy she tries to minimize communication with as much as possible. She'll avoid eye contact with him and pretend she doesn't notice him usually; he'll always be the first to greet her and come over to talk to her. She gives him as many one-word and otherwise short answers as humanly possible
The social guy she's neutral on: this guy is someone she exchanges a little polite conversation with because why not; it's good to be social, and there's nothing terribly weird or off-putting about the guy, so if they're on friendly terms, might as well say "hi" and make a little chit-chat. Sometimes this guy will think he's "getting somewhere with her" though, even though she's just being sociable
The guy she thinks is cute: this guy has a shot with her, but usually he's a victim of moving too slow, and he's gotten stuck in tar somewhere along the way - he likes her; she likes him; but if he makes a move, it's going to feel weird to both of them because they've both gotten so used to liking each other and flirting with each other but nothing happening
How do you tell a guy she's just acquaintances with apart from the other kinds of relationships she can have with men around her? Here are the clearest signs:
If she behaves excited to see him, or surprised to see him, he's an acquaintance. Someone she knows more intimately she'll have coordinated with beforehand and they'll expect to meet each other - no surprises. But if she wasn't planning to run into him, you're very likely to hear a "Heeeeeey! How ARE you?!" - and he is almost certainly an acquaintance
They'll have mostly "catch up" talk - "So how's your job/class going?" "How'd you do on that thing from 3 weeks ago?" The vaguer it is and the longer the time span it covers, the less well they know each other
They'll (usually she'll) break it off with a "Well, it was great seeing you!"-type remark (that really means "Anyway, time for me to get going about my day")
Acquaintances usually are best just waiting out - the majority part ways after a few minutes of chatting.
Sometimes, however, that isn't the case - and we'll cover that more in just a moment. But before we do, there's one more type of relationship to go over...
She's Friends with Him
Whether he's a bona fide orbiter, revolving around her desperately hoping to one day get a chance at making her all his, or he's a guy whom SHE is hoping will want to sleep with or date her at some point, he's a guy she knows pretty well, sees often, and has some measure of connection with. They stay in touch, coordinate on places they're going and people they're seeing, and they have certain expectations for how one another will treat each other based on past experience (or, sometimes, wishful thinking).
The kinds of friends include:
"Just friends": these are the classic orbiters - the guys who are convinced that if they just hang out around a girl long enough and talk to her often enough, their shining personalities will poke through and she'll fall in love with the quality of their characters. Which, of course, is like trying to make a million dollars by working your paper route harder. Even the guys who are the "lovable losers" here, while they may command affection from a girl, typically do not command her respect - you won't want to be mean to them, but you certainly won't treat them as equals
Legitimate friends: these guys are guys who legitimately like the girl as friends and nothing more. If you ask them, they'll tell you she's like a sister to them, and thinking of her sexually is kind of off-putting. Girls legitimately like and respect these guys every bit as much as they do their gal pals
The guy she's friends with and crushing on: this is the guy who treats her like just a friend, but whom SHE is hoping to get somewhere with. She's usually going to be chasing this guy down and flirting with him much more than he is her
Here's how you differentiate guys she's friends with from other classes of men:
She'll stick around with them a whole lot more - it's not just an "Oh, hey! How are you?" like it is with a mere acquaintance; neither is it the "just getting to know you" questions of the guy she's just met. Rather, they're there because they're there together, and they're going to stick around and hang out together... he won't be peeling off and leaving anytime soon
They'll clearly have a more relaxed vibe with one another, with much more joking around and laughing, than what she and less familiar men will have together (which will be something far more tense and expectation-laden)
Whenever you see those two signs - sticking around, and a real chummy vibe together - you know you've got a couple of people who are pretty close and comfortable with one another. It can sometimes be difficult differentiating a close male friend from a boyfriend simply by observation - sometimes all you can do when meeting them is to ask outright how they know each other.
But if you're afraid of approaching because he might be her boyfriend, you'll miss out on a lot of cute girls who'll be happy to meet you - that's because women who are out with platonic male friends are some of the EASIEST women to get phone numbers from, and even pick up same night.
Now, let's talk how.
It's possible to approach girls with any combination of those men above around them. However, you will need to tailor your approach to the situation.
Don't worry - I'm not going to give you 9 different approaches you need to memorize to deal with each of those categories and subcategories of men. Rather, I'm going to give you several different approaches - and let you know which categories these correspond with.
Approach #1: Wait for Him to Leave
This one's the most hassle-free approach.
It's also one that requires you to be pretty sure you've made the right assessment of who this guy is to her... because if you're not, you may end up waiting until the cows come home.
The approach is simple enough: wait for the guy or guys to peel off, give it a minute so you aren't jumping into the fray the moment she's all alone, then go approach her the same as you would a girl who's been by herself the whole time.
This approach is best used with:
Guys she barely knows and has just met... unless it's clearly going very well and you think he's going to stick with her / try to pick her up then and there
Guys she's acquaintances with - usually, her interactions with these guys won't tend to be more than a few minutes, and all you'll need to do is wait for things to die down a minute or two in and the two to part ways. In certain social situations, her and this guy or these guys maintain proximity and ping each other every so often with light conversation, though - and in those cases, you'll need another approach
Guys she's legitimately friends with that you can tell or have overheard that are leaving - otherwise, assume these guys are going to stick around
If you're unsure whether she'll split from the guy (or he'll split from her), it's usually safe to give the two of them a minute or two, and then if they're still hanging around, turn to another approach.
Approach #2: Ignore the Guy and Go Right In
This one's the next in line in the "least complicated" playbook, but it's another one you've got to make sure you've gauged correctly, because someone's always going to come out of this looking like a bit of a fool - and if you don't properly gauge whom this other guy is to her, that someone can easily end up being you.
Why's that? Well, if you're going in pretending the guy's not even there (aside from maybe the most minimalistic of acknowledgements his way to take some of the edge off), you have a few possible outcomes:
The girl's happy to receive you, turns her attention toward you, and now the guy's shut out and feels like an idiot (alternately, very occasionally, she can be happy to receive you and actually really like both you AND him, in which case she finds herself in a tough balancing act trying to keep both of you interested and preventing either of you from deciding to leave... but that's rare and you'll only see it on occasion)
The girl's more interested in talking to or maintaining a good connection with the other guy, and gives you a neutral or worse reception - either introducing you to the other guy (bringing you down to his level), or quickly exiting the conversation with you and returning to the one with him - leaving you on the outside
The girl's not really interested in talking to either of you, and pushes you off into talking to the other guy, then makes her getaway - with both of you left trapped in polite conversation wondering why you're talking to one another when what both of you wanted was to be talking to her
The last one doesn't happen too much, but it's always pretty amusing (in an embarrassing kind of way) when it does... like, "What happened? That was weird."
A good way of thinking about it is this:
If you're more attractive than he is, and she seems disinterested in talking to him, she'll probably be thrilled to have you drop in rescuing her (and helping her to get away from him)
If he's got better fundamentals than you are and seems more attractive, and/or she's interested in talking to him, you're going to seem like a socially awkward intruder who doesn't know any better than to butt into places he isn't really wanted, and she'll be annoyed that you're there
If you and he are both similarly unattractive and she doesn't want to talk to either of you, she may be trying to get away from him when you approach, and then first feel overly put upon ("Oh no - ANOTHER guy to escape from?!"), then throw the two of you at one another and get out (less socially calibrated girls will just throw their hands up and leave)
Hopefully, you won't run into the last scenario that often (you really only will if you're brand new to meeting girls, your fundamentals need a lot of work, and your social calibration is way off), but the second scenario will happen from time to time when you've misjudged her interest levels in the other guy or the depth of their relationship - hey, it happens. No need to beat yourself up over it.
The guys you'll use this approach with are:
Guys she's just met and it's going pretty well (but not SUPER well) - essentially, guys she seems to like enough that they aren't going to part ways anytime soon, but not so much that she's drooling over him. If you're sufficiently attractive or interesting, you can come in and pull her attention away for a few minutes, which is usually enough that most men will get discouraged and leave, or will hover around awkwardly and make themselves look bad waiting for the girl to give them attention again (which only solidifies your attractiveness over them in her mind)
Guys she's legitimately friends with whom she seems to be not treating with respect - you don't want to go in overly respectful toward men she does not respect as men unless you want to be classed the same as they are. In other words, if she's treating a guy as a nice guy friend zone friend, give him a polite greeting, and then completely ignore him, or treat him like a lower status individual you're dealing with patiently but not terribly interestedly, and get back to her quickly, if you must interact with him. If she thinks she is above him, you want her to see you as on or above her level, rather than his
The treatment of the other guy is important here - if you're largely ignoring a guy, it's because he's lower social status than you. It's kind of mean and requires you to be something of an asshole, which may not be something you naturally like doing... but if you want the girl's respect and attraction, and this other guy she's talking to doesn't have it himself, you can't treat him all that well - just the bare minimum of politeness, and then ignore him fast.
Approach #3: Slow Open, and Treat the Guy Respectfully
The most complicated of our three approaches, and the one you'll want to employ if the friend or friends aren't going away anytime soon and it seems as though she respects them, this is different from what we'd employ in a genuine group situation, or even when a girl's out with a girlfriend most of the time.
That's because the dynamic you'll encounter with women who are out with one or two male friends is often very different from the dynamic you'll encounter with women out with one or two female friends. Her female friends are more likely to be cool and not cockblock if you are an attractive, socially-calibrated man; if she's out with one or two male friends though, they can quickly become defensive or protective if she hasn't already shown strong approval in your direction first.
So, our whole approach to approaching women who have a good friend or orbiter around that they hold in some measure of respect or have some measure of a connection with is geared around maximizing approval from her, and minimizing bruising the guy's ego.
You'll thus use this with the following types of guys:
Guys she barely knows whom she's just met and really hitting it off with
Guys she's acquaintances with who are hanging around and keeping proximity with her
Guys she's friends with whom she respects or likes
Basically, anyone she respects or feels some sense of social obligation to, you'll use this approach.
Why this one? Because it takes care of the other guy's ego, rather than bruises it - and if a girl cares about someone else's ego, she's going to be very sensitive to taking part in any kind of social interaction that will risk bruising it, especially with strangers.
In other words, if she likes him, you don't win by making her choose between you and him. You win by skirting that choice altogether and simply making talking to you without hurting him much / at all the natural thing to do.
That works like this:
Start with slow opening: position yourself near her, or pass by her, and ping her with an opener, quick comment, or other short remark. Just something to set up a little precedence of having had a bit of interaction with her - then keep moving (or go back to whatever you were doing).
What this does is puts you on both her and the other guy's radar - she's going to have a (very brief) exchange with you, which means the next time you speak with her a moment or two later, you won't be a complete stranger; and HE's going to have a quick "Wait, what's happening - do I need to fight this guy off / is he a threat?" moment, that subsides when you leave off talking to her (he thinks: "Oh, that was silly of me; false alarm"). It also pops the bubble the two or three of them were in if they were in intense conversation, without you sticking around to be that annoying guy who "doesn't get it"
Ping her a second time, then break off, if you need more of an "in": keep in mind of course that you're going for clever / funny / interesting / insightful remarks, and you're trying to showcase your sexiness when you do, so that she's becoming very intrigued in whom this new man is. You're also activating the other guy's fight-or-flight response, then letting the adrenaline just sit there in his veins unused, which sort of burns up this response as an option for using against you later - when you really go into conversation with her, he'll have been conditioned to just hold on and not do anything by your previous couple of pings
Finally, go in and seriously open her: next, really go into opening her, and treat the other guy like you would her brother: thoughtful, respectful, but only giving about 5% to 10% of your attention to him - and the other 90 to 95% of it to her. If you've done this right, you'll have primed her enough to be opened by you, popped the bubble with your first ping (so you aren't some socially uncalibrated guy barging in to pop the bubble and hang around all in one go), and shut down most of the other guy's resistance to you (unless he's the super-sensitive type who's been fuming every since your first ping, and waiting for a chance to one-up you - but these will usually not ever be the respected friends of women, and thus you're better off ignoring or waiting for guys like this to leave)
Here's an example of what this'd look like, taking the gym scenario Gem painted for us in his comment:
Guy: So then I [blah blah]
Girl: That's hilarious.
[momentarily lull in conversation]
Girl: Yeah, no problem.
[you do a set while the guy and the girl talk]
You: [after set, when guy and girl have another lull in conversation] Big Barbie fan? [pointing at her Barbie headband]
Girl: Huh? Oh... [laughs] Yeah. Barbie rocks.
You: She's certainly good motivation for the gym. That waist is about as tiny as it gets.
Girl: Yeah, Barbie's in awesome shape!
You: The great thing about her is she never has to eat anything either, so she always stays that way.
Girl: I know... I'm so jealous!
You: You have a really nice smile. Very warm. I'm Claude.
Girl: I'm Elsa!
You: Nice to meet you, Elsa.
In a bar, you'd roll right into some playful banter and then a bit of deep diving; in a gym, you'd break off to go do another set and talk to her a little more later (this conversation would be the first ping ["Mind if I work in with you?"] and the second ping [opening and some light banter, complimenting, and exchanging of names], and you'd talk to her more later and exchange numbers).
Wait, Ignore, or Slow Open?
If you want a lightning quick reference to remember which to use when by, here's a good rule of thumb to follow:
- If he's going to leave soon anyway, just wait a few minutes
- If he's sticking around but not respected, just approach her, and ignore him
- If he's sticking around but she likes him, slow open her, and be respectful
... and that's pretty much it.
You don't want to barrel in and ignore him if she likes him and is going to view you as socially uncalibrated / rude / making her look bad socially.
Likewise, you don't want to come in being respectful of him if she herself is not respectful of him - otherwise, she'll view you as on his level (lower), instead of hers (higher).
And, you don't want to do EITHER of these if you can take the road of least resistance and just WAIT for the guy to take off on his own anyway - that saves your time and your energy.
Pick whichever one's going to be simplest without stepping on anybody's toes it'll be bad to step on, and run with it.
(Final note: if you have a wingman or a wingwoman with you, it's all about 10X simpler, because you can have your wingman or wingwoman go in first and peel off the other friend or friends, and then you go in and meet the poor lonely girl who's all by herself now that her friends are being occupied. This article assumes you're solo and don't have a partner-in-crime to make life easy - but if so, don't overlook this one!)
Provided your fundamentals are in order and you're a guy she'd like to get to know anyway, her male friends, orbiters, or acquaintances will almost never be an obstacle if you go in the right way.
For further reading on approaching in sticky situations, make sure you read "Meeting Girls in Messy Situations / Friends Around" and "5 Essential Insights on How to Meet Girls in Groups."