How Not to Talk to a Woman Who is Wearing Headphones

The How To guide unfortunately already exists, so here is the complementary information you’ll need instead.

CC BY-SA Sascha Kohlmann

These days, many women walk around just like men, playing with a smartphone or tablet device and often wearing headphones and listening to music at the same time.

Yet, that doesn’t mean you have to talk to them.

Of course, not all women are open to being completely ignored by you while they’re busy doing their own things, but it’s a safe bet they’re happier about you if you do so.

However, if a woman wearing headphones is single and straight and hoping to meet a boyfriend (or even a new lover), you’ll probably have a better chance at being that “special guy” for her some day if you don’t royally fuck up your chances at the start.

Her taking off her headphones for you only means that she is polite enough not to ignore you, and/or concerned that you might turn out to be one of those guys who prioritize their misplaced sense of entitlement over their respect for women’s independence and autonomy and, in the worst case scenario, escalate their frustration all the way up to a violent response.

(It’s probably the latter.)

CC BY-NC-ND Ian Sane

What to Do to Not Get Her Attention

  1. Stay put right where you are. (Unless you’re within 1 meter or so, in which case maybe move out of her personal space just to be sure she doesn’t mistake you for someone trying to interrupt her activity.)
  2. Have a confident, easy-going smile. Make sure you always smile, never too much, never in a creepy or leery way, but really, you should smile more. People would like you better if you smiled more. I’m just saying.
  3. If she does see you smiling, make sure it doesn’t seem like you’re smiling at her. Remember from point 2: don’t smile in a creepy or leery way! Wave at someone behind her far into the distance, as if you were really just smiling at a friend who’s not close enough to come talk to you. (Whew! Nice recovery.)
  4. If she keeps looking at you, confidently look away to make it clear that you’re not desperate for the attention of a woman you find attractive in order to fill that void in your ego.

If she doesn’t understand that you do not actually want her to briefly take off her headphones, you may have screwed up during steps 1 through 4. Don’t worry, you can still save your reputation as a non-creepy guy by making sure you do not say something creepy, like “I want to talk to you for a minute.”

In most cases you won’t have to go to that extreme, but some women are confident enough in their ability to escape from you and/or kick you hard enough in the balls if you turn out to be creepy, and may even take their headphones off on their own. (Or, once again, she’s worried you’ll turn violent.) If she hasn’t so far taken off her headphones, it’s a good sign that you can be an upstanding gentleman by letting her go on with her life uninterrupted, so respect that and do nothing further.

If she takes off her headphones to talk to you, you have failed in your mission, but now we enter what we call the “acknowledgement out of politeness” phase. Quickly make sure to listen to what she says and detect the tone in which she says it (see the conversation example below), to demonstrate you understand that women generally despise being accosted by men (especially when they’re wearing headphones) and you’re happy to leave her alone as quickly as possible—unless she indicates a genuine interest to talk with you. After all, a healthy conversation only occurs when there is interest for one from all parties.

For example, in a shopping mall or shopping street:

You: (Smiling in a friendly, confident manner but perhaps too creepy because now she’s taken off her headphones and you fucked up these instructions) “Hey.”

Full stop. Don’t say more. Especially don’t say anything about her personal appearance, and if you really can’t control your hormonal urges to say more, say “Excuse me,” turn around, walk away, head home, call up a woman in your family, and kindly ask them to explain the problems of male entitlement to you. Offer to buy them a nice dinner or something special of significant value for the time and energy that you’re asking them to dedicate to you, so that at least your request itself isn’t too egregious an example of what they’re about to explain to you.

But, in the 0.00001% chance that she asked you for your name, say “hi, I’m (whatever your name is). Sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you.”

If it’s clear that she’s interested in talking to you, like if she asked you another question that isn’t “why are you staring at me?”, it’s probably okay to keep the conversation going for a few moments longer. But however long it keeps going naturally, don’t put her in an awkward position by asking for her phone number. This woman is not in this world for you to pursue, and if you were the kind of respectful guy she might be interested in seeing again you wouldn’t have failed in the first place during one of the four steps above.

If she somehow is interested in actually seeing you again, she will definitely make that clear to you, don’t worry. Women are assertive like that, when they feel you’re not one of those guys who would criticize a woman for being assertive.

Common Mistakes That Guys Make When Not Talking To Women Who Are Wearing Headphones

1. Approaching women who are wearing headphones

This is by far the most common mistake guys make when not talking to women who are wearing headphones.

Most women are attracted to men who have the confidence in their own self to know when and when not to interrupt or bother women, and are turned off by the weakness of men whose behaviors are still led by their misplaced sense of entitlement or sexual interest. So if you are approach a woman who is wearing headphones and thus show no respect to her or the very obvious boundary she has set to the world, she won’t be interested in talking to you.

2. Not giving up easily

It’s entirely possible that despite the great barrier a woman has placed between her person and the rest of the world by wearing headphones, she’s still polite enough to talk to you even though you disrespected that barrier.

Most women wear headphones because they don’t want guys or anyone else to speak to them, so if you try to talk to a woman who is wearing headphones, just respect that and walk away.

However, sometimes a woman will take them off at roughly the same time that you were nearby and looking at her. This is by no means a test to see how confident of a guy you are, or an invitation for you to talk to her now. In fact, it’s likely she’s either leaving or arriving at her destination, and she is now even less interested in being bothered by someone.

The best thing for you to do, if you’re really confident, is to not bother the woman whatsoever and not let that trouble your sensitive ego. If you are troubled by the emotions you experience while successfully giving up on your ill-advised attempt to talk to a woman wearing headphones, it means you’ve spent a large part of your life not knowing what actual confidence feels like, and now it feels alien and scary to you. You’ll like it the more you do this, though, so keep it up!

3. Leading the conversation

Remember, your goal is to not bother or in any other way inconvenience the woman wearing headphones, so if you find yourself in the failed situation of talking to her after all, just make sure you don’t lead the conversation as if this was a bar and she was constantly looking around making eye contact with strangers.

You failed at keeping a respectful distance, so do your best to maintain a respectful distance and give her the freedom to bow out of the awkward situation you’ve caused her at any time.

You simply need to remain confident and remember in a relaxed, easy manner that your life and happiness in no way depends on how this conversation goes, and should never depend on someone else’s attention being devoted to you. Confidence!

4. Not sticking to polite or reserved conversation

You’re interrupting a woman in whatever she was doing, so she’s probably not going to be very enthusiastic about talking to you for long.

Interrupting her life was rude enough, so make sure you don’t engage in anything other than polite, reserved conversation. Unless somehow she’s really keen on taking the conversation somewhere else, but again, you’re hopefully not leading this conversation (how many instructions can you fail in one conversation?!), so she will make it clear to you if that’s where things are at. And if it’s not entirely clear to you, that’s not where things are at.

So, make sure that you have the confidence to not have a burning desire to talk to her, and be real: you’re not the charming stallion of a man she was waiting to arrive into her life. And even if you somehow were, she was definitely not wanting you to arrive in her life like this. No one wants to tell their kids “mommy met daddy because he disrespected her on the street.”

5. Including any flirting

I get it, you’re single, and you believe your flirting is a discreet way to communicate your sexual interest in another. But you’re not subtle (again: you disrupted the woman’s life in a rude manner, holy shit dude), and she’s most definitely not in the mood for flirting (headphones!), so avoid this mistake at all costs. No, really, it costs you the opportunity to ever see her again—unless you are Channing Tatum, but in which case you already knew not to bother a woman wearing headphones in the first place and also why are you reading this and not making Magic Mike 3? (Call me)

A woman talking to you after she was just wearing headphones knows all too well that you are interested in her; no need to show your complete lack of confidence by flirting with her. She already gets it, you like her; now show her that you are also capable of respecting her. Because otherwise, what makes you different from all the other guys who accost and insult and catcall her on a daily basis, all behind the blatantly false excuse of it being “just a compliment”?

Not Approaching Women

As you may have noticed, women usually don’t go around actively approaching men in public places or even in bars or clubs. This is partly thanks to a patriarchal history that dictates men “should” approach woman and win them over, as if women are either some goal to be pursued or a reward for men’s good efforts (hint: they’re neither), and partly because a lot of men treat women really poorly and the ratio of good experiences vs. bad ones with unknown men that they’ve had likely skews up to 90% towards bad. So you might understand their hesitation to interact with even more strange men.

Women know that it is not a man’s “role” to be obnoxious enough to walk over and bother a woman just because he finds her attractive. Women will happily talk with men they’re interested in talking to, so make sure you have the confidence not to measure your sense of self-worth by how many women you can date or sleep with, or even how many attractive women you talk to.

So, don’t ever think that you’re doing a respectful thing by approaching and talking to a woman who was, until just moments ago, wearing headphones. Most single, straight women are open to being approached by a guy who respects their obviously-set boundaries, so that precludes you if you violated said boundary already.

The key to talking to a woman who is wearing headphones (or who has her face buried into her smartphone and checking Facebook) is to leave her the fuck alone. (And revisit the idea of learning about male entitlement.)

Who knows, she might just be your perfect woman, and you very likely will fuck up your chances by being a disrespecting asshole.

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