Please don’t hit on your fellow miserable commuters on the subway

subway flirting
Yeah, but is she really though? via Flickr user jbc

What is the best way to interact with your fellow humans stuck on the subway with you? Climaxes of 1980s romantic comedies would suggest you get involved in their romantic affairs. Actual real life suggests you should just read a book or stare at the signs, and only interact with your fellow commuters when you need them to get the hell out of the way or to let them know they’re about to step in puke. Should you be hitting on your fellow commuters though? Dating experts that DNA Info talked to think so, to the point where they offered some tips to hit on your fellow passengers. I have a tip on how to effectively hit on your fellow passengers as well: DON’T.

I’m not here with qualms about the actual flirting advice, which is pretty run-of-the-mill dating advice. The thing is, the subway isn’t a bar, or a park. It’s not a place where people are having a good time and being sociable. It’s the last place you can maybe get a little relief or turn your brain off before you get to work, or where you can try to empty your brain of work stress at the end of a long day. If you didn’t have to be there, you wouldn’t choose to, so why in God’s name would it improve your commute if someone started in with some “Hey, you have really nice eyes” or “Hey oh my god I love Margaret Atwood too”?

The subway is a speeding metal tube on which you’re a captive audience. Some self-styled Lloyd Dobler (a best-case scenario) who thinks his soulmate is around every corner can’t be easily dismissed, or even escaped from when all you want to do is be thankful for a seat on a crowded train. Especially if he reads something like “[A]s women, we have the benefit that men are not afraid of us,” which is what dating expert Tracy Steinberg told the site. Go ahead and explain to Miss District of Columbia Jennifer Corey, or any other woman who’s dealt with unwanted attention on the subway that men not being afraid of women is an advantage, please.

Yes, sometimes you will lock eyes with someone on the subway and it will be cute and you’ll start talking. This happens, it’s where Missed Connections come from. If, naturally, a conversation starts between two people, then sure go for it. But expecting that, looking for it when you got on the subway is only going to lead to you acting like a creep. To steal a line from the Clinton Administration, hitting on someone on the subway should be unexpected, respectful and rare. Emphasis on the rare.

Follow Dave for further embraces of romanticism at @DaveCoIon


  1. I have to admit, I think it’s interesting when people actually interact on the subway. It’s got such a strong code of required contact (no eye contact, don’t talk, don’t touch – unless you’re hopelessly crammed into one another on the 1 train), it’s interesting when people break it.

    Either friendly foreigners who have no idea that it’s super weird when you sit down next to someone and just start chatting or someone doing something so dang odd, that you catch another person’s eye and share a “really, WTF is happening here?” moment – I think they’re all pretty cool.

  2. Sam Corbin

    On the other hand, we are reeaaaaally getting down to the wire in terms of real life opportunities for sober, face-to-face interaction. I mean, the only reason people feel like they need to ‘turn-off’ on the train is because our obsession with our phones and machinery creates this brain hyperactivity that (Thank God) can’t exist underground without cell service. The one time there’s actually the chance to connect, we take this very New York mentality of “please fuck gently off, I’m busy staring into the nothingness”.

    When I want alone time, sure, it’s annoying. But I’d also be grateful for more humanity on the subway. I wish people had the bravery to approach one another without defensiveness or some perceived ‘expectation’ on either end..

    • David Colon

      Don’t blame cell phones for the perfectly reasonable wish to be given some peace before you get to work. And “expectation” is the very basis of hitting on someone. You’re not trying to pick up a friend, you’re trying to pick up a sex partner.

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