You feel it. Someone's watching you. You turn. She waits a split second before looking away.
Your heart pumps a little faster, there's a flush of adrenaline. Your body is saying we're ready, let's do this. She's still there, glancing this way, but the moment will get weird soon. There's nothing stopping you.
What do you do?
And how many times a week do you sense an opportunity like this? At the grocery, waiting for the ATM, eating lunch, riding the metro. Medellín is filled with beautiful single girls. Many of them are curious about you. What if you talked to even half of them?
This article tells you exactly what to say to make a great first impression and get a girl's phone number. But it isn't about having a magic phrase. It's about getting comfortable in a new place, with a different language.
It's about not having to think when opportunity appears, not giving yourself time to invent excuses. When you know in advance exactly what you're going to say, there's no reason to hesitate and no excuse to bail. That's the benefit of a simple, planned approach. Do it a few times, see that it works. When the results are predictable (and positive), you don't have to pump yourself up to speak. It becomes automatic.
She already did her part by getting your attention. What's your move?
Three things you need to date well in Medellín
Let's take a step back for a moment. The first idea you need to absorb is this: As a foreigner, you only need three things to date well in Medellín:
- Smartphone with Whatsapp installed
- Willingness to communicate in Spanish (awful Spanish is fine)
- A bunch of phone numbers
With just those three things, some level of success is pretty much guaranteed. It's an embarrassment to dating everywhere else, really. The reason is simple economics, supply and demand. There are huge numbers of desirable single women here, many of whom are bored out of their minds.
More importantly, men in Medellín don't really do cold approaches; they usually find their girls within close-knit peer groups. That means at any given moment there are potentially hundreds of opportunities all around you—sexy and outgoing girls nobody is hitting on.
And many of them are very interested in meeting foreign men and having a new experience. It makes sense, doesn't it? Look around. This is a culture cemented in repetition, familiarity and routine. Just being different qualifies you to go out with lots of girls who would probably shun you at home. That's the beautiful truth of dating in Medellín.
Bueno. I’ll assume that you're not living under the bridge in Parque Lleras and so you already have Whatsapp. The rest of this guide contains everything you need to know about getting those numbers.
Two things you need to know about getting numbers in Medellín
#1. Getting numbers is easy
For the reasons described above, women will cough up their phone numbers everywhere you go in the City of Eternal Spring. Again, unless you're oozing a murder vibe, most single women will you give you their number just because you asked.
This is your main advantage. Beautiful women in Medellín are almost never cold-approached. That means they’re not pre-annoyed like most of the women wherever you’re from. Quite the opposite. They are almost always flattered by the attention and happy to chat, even with idiot gringos like us.
That means you simply have to do the work of introducing yourself and asking for numbers. Continuously collect new numbers, start campaigning effectively for dates via Whatsapp, and you will see results.
#2. Getting numbers is too easy
Getting numbers in Medellín is too easy. Single paisa women freely give their phone numbers to any guy who doesn't look like a straight murderer. If you look like a non-murdering rapist, they make take a chance and give you their number anyway.
You see, this is a culture that prizes (and demands) basic agreeability in social interactions. It's just awkward for them to say 'no'. Paisas are raised and trained to give an agreeable and accommodating response whenever possible, even if it's a lie. If you've been here more than a week, you may have already figured that out for yourself.
So what happens is you get lots of bad leads, dead-in-the-water numbers from women who really have no interest in going out with you. In their minds, they've done you a courtesy by not rejecting you to your face. How sweet. Unfortunately, all these 'fake' numbers only create confusion and increase the already-steep learning curve of dating in a foreign city and culture. An individual number just doesn't mean much.
Because you won't be able to readily distinguish between a good number and a bad one early on, dating as a foreigner in Medellín truly is a numbers game (nice one).
A good rule of thumb: you'll probably need 3-5 good numbers to produce a single in-person date. This leads us to a fundamental piece of advice: The solution to most Medellín dating problems is get more numbers.
Who you should approach (and when and where)
The general rule
In general, you can ask for numbers in Medellín from anyone, any time, anywhere. The hard shutdown is not really a thing here. Nobody is going to slap you, curse you out or run screaming for their boyfriend when you introduce yourself in broken Spanish.
You can stop a stranger in the street. You can interrupt someone in a group or at the gym. You can ask your waitress for her number. You can ask a lady police officer for her number. And so on. If she's single, there’s a good chance she’ll give it to you.
I mean it. In general, it's always open season for number-getting in Medellín. That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Boyfriends and male friends
Most of the time, if a girl has a boyfriend (or a husband or whatever), she will tell you so and won’t give you her number. But not always.
There are definitely women who get amnesia about their man when presented with an intriguing opportunity. I’ve met some who just wanted simple revenge on their cheating boyfriend. Kind of disturbing really.
These are troubled waters. I don’t recommend getting mixed up with a woman who is in a serious or semi-serious relationship, unless you are on your way out of town and want to throw a Hail Mary for the win. Depends on your politics I guess. You’ve been warned.
By the way, most times it’s easiest just to ask up front: ¿estás soltera? (are you single?) or ¿tienes novio? (do you have a boyfriend?). Some women may conveniently fail to disclose their boyfriends, but very few will straight-up lie about having one if you ask.
And what about male friends? Colombia is not like the UK or the US or Europe or Australia. Colombian men will not start fights with you because you talk to women they’re with. They’re super chill about it.
Now if it’s his girl you’re hitting on (in front of him), that’s a different story. So just use common sense. Don’t be afraid to approach a girl who is with male companions, unless it seems like she’s unavailable.
How do you know if she’s available? How do you know if you should make a move? Watch her eyes. If she’s frequently looking around, making direct eye contact with the attractive men in the room, she’s almost certainly available.
Eye contact is always important in scouting the situation, but in Colombia it’s particularly telling. Girls with their boyfriend do not look around too much, and definitely don’t lock eyes with strangers in front of him. It’s a machista culture thing.
On the other hand, if she’s available and interested in you, she will make it pretty obvious. In Medellín, staring is a clear sign of interest and usually an invitation to talk. In Medellín, eye contact is your crystal ball and your secret weapon.
Day vs. night
Brainteaser: What’s better than creeping from the shadows at night to bother women for their phone number? That’s easy. Creeping from the shadows during the day to bother women for their phone number!
It makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s just not the same at night. Women going out in Medellín get approached all night by drunk dudes, just like every other part of the world. Even worse, if you are anywhere near Poblado, chances are it’s mostly gringos doing the approaching.
So there’s a basic novelty issue here. By the fifteenth foreigner chatting her up, she’s yawning with disinterest and also getting pretty cocky. And that’s the second issue.
When she’s out at night, she expects to get approached. She’s all dolled up. She’s with her surprisingly large group (a co-ed mix of friends and family that’s hard to infiltrate). She’s in her domain. Her guard is up, her deflections and excuses are ready.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t approach girls or ask for numbers at night. That’s stupid. Of course you should. You should always be getting numbers from the girls you like in Medellín. But most guys lean on the nighttime approach and wonder why most of the women they meet have some agenda, have been with a hundred gringos, or just kind of suck.
The point is, nighttime is the right time, but daytime is even better. The very same girl who brushes you off at the bar or club would often gladly share her number with you in the day. The daytime is your domain.
She isn’t expecting to meet random strangers in the day, and she knows it takes balls to introduce yourself and ask her out totally sober. She’s flattered. She’s intrigued. She’s caught off guard. She’s alone and yes, she has a minute to chat. Why not?
The exact same words and actions, down to the letter, will yield a much better response in the day than out at night. And the quality of women you’ll meet during the day is significantly higher, too. Do not ignore the daytime. Be bold, say hello.
"Buy my Spanish is terrible..."
I believe you. Mine was too, for an embarrassingly long time. But there’s only one way Spanish can actually hold you back in Medellín. And that’s if you refuse to speak it, ie you are afraid to speak it.
In my experience, a majority of foreign visitors to Medellín fall into this scared-of-Spanish category. If that’s you, the information that follows may not help you much. Actually, if that’s you, nothing will help you. But look on the bright side. There might be some European girls in the hostels that you could sleep with.
For those of us who are not afraid to make moves in a strange new language, there is unlimited potential. Paisas are extremely patient with people who are clearly making an effort to use and learn Spanish. Most of them will go out of their way to help you improve.
Bad Spanish is no obstacle to dating, and certainly no obstacle to getting numbers. Strangely, paisa women seem to be charmed by the child-like, mutilated Spanish of foreigners.
If you can make yourself understood, you’re fine. Most of them are just relieved that you’re not trying to communicate with them in English.
How to get a number in polite, confident Spanish
You really only need a few good phrases of Spanish to get all the numbers in Medellín. It’s a small and predictable interaction, and you can follow a predictable, winning formula.
Use language they’re expecting (ie paisa Spanish) in an accent they’re not expecting (from you, anyway), and you’ve got their attention. It puts them in a weird half-comfort zone, I think. All I know for sure is that it works.
1. The first few seconds
2. Useful excuses
¿cómo llego a ____ desde acá? = how do I get to ____ from here?
¿conoces un lugar que se llama ____? = do you know a place called ____?