Rules of engagement: lessons in train flirting

Everyone should know how to train flirt, it’s just the best. However, unwanted train flirting can sometimes be a huge pain in the ass. For those of you who are unclear on what train flirting is, it’s when you see that cute guy or girl on the subway and start making doe eyes at each other. One person looks, then the other and eventually you both look at the same time and then both look away shyly. You know, like the shit that happens in the movies. While train flirting usually doesn’t lead anywhere, it’s always fun, making you feel good about yourself for the day.

While there are ways to take train flirtation to the next level, let’s just start with what not to do. If someone is not returning your glances, don’t even try. Train flirting has to be accepted by both parties. I was on the C train one time and there was this older Indian man who kept looking my way. I noticed, as usually it’s hard not to; but I, in no way, was returning his looks. In fact, I was purposefully not looking anywhere in his direction. When I got to my stop, he followed me off the train and approached me saying how beautiful he thought I was and asking if he could take me out. Now, unwanted attention on the train is one thing, because you can always just get off the train. However, if someone follows you off the train, you’re escape plan is ruined and you’re trapped with them. It becomes a whole other ball game. I politely told the man that I already had a boyfriend (sure, sure) and that I needed to go to work (that part was true, at least). Luckily he didn’t try and push anything and I left the train station while he waited for the next train. This should be rule number one: if someone isn’t returning your advances, don’t push it, and certainly don’t get off the train with them. That’s just stupid, because then you have to wait for the next fucking train, and when it’s the C train, so you could be waiting awhile.

Another no no in the train flirting world is trying to get someone’s attention who has kids with them. As a nanny I often travel on the subway with the kid that I watch, who is a nine year old boy. As a 22 year old, I understand it might be slightly hard to believe that it’s my kid, but you can never be sure and honestly it doesn’t matter. Waiting for the L train, a man gave me his seat on the bench so that I could sit next to George, the kid that I nanny for. That’s always nice so I thanked him and sat down. He kept looking our way and when we got on the train he stood right next to me. He started asking me if it was my kid, what grade he was in, and even tried to get George involved by asking him what book he was reading. Then he progressed from there, asking me if he could take me out sometime, telling me to come by the Raw Foods store that he managed. He gave me his business card, urged me to call him and then got off the train. After that I was left to answer George’s questions about who he was and what he wanted. That’s an awkward conversation to have with a nine year old, and is definitely a birds and bees type situation well above my pay-grade. So, in conclusion, women with children on the train are off limits.

Last but not least, train flirting is usually done from afar. The train is not a pick up place, some sort of trying-to-get-laid buffet line, it’s public transportation. At best you make flirty eyes at each other, and possibly (by coincidence only) get off the train together, maybe get some numbers, maybe someone says something lame about the weather and then there’s a dumb reply and before you know it you’re off to the races, drinking gin and Mountain Dew from a can on the observation deck of the Empire State building. That’s how most dates go, right? Anyway, that is definitely best case scenario. What makes it awkward is when the person you were making eyes at gets up and comes over to you. Kind of ruins the whole mysterious aspect of train flirting.

Recently I was on the G train, heading to Queens (on a side note, fuck the G train and fuck Queens). I was on my way from work and going straight to a friend’s birthday shindig. I wasn’t feeling particularly put together, having just come from work, and was reading a great book. I’d been on the train for awhile when I noticed an extremely good looking guy get on the train. I looked up from my book once over at him and then went back to reading, poised for a nice casual meaningless across the aisle flirt. However, next thing I know this guy is sitting next to me on the train, telling me his name and asking me what I was reading. Now that wouldn’t have been too bad except for the fact that he was from Argentina, his English was terrible and he didn’t understand anything I was telling him about the book. This is when foreign accents go from sexy to being the worst thing ever. I reluctantly put the book down and we get to talking. By not-so-happy coincidence we get off on the same stop. Leaving the train I asked him what he did and he told me he works for a model agency. This explains the extreme good looks. However it also makes me completely uninterested (if I was at all interested before). Walking above ground he literally shoved his phone in my face and I put my number in before I even knew what was happening. Once back in cell service, I’m now trying to figure out which way to go. This guy is trying to help me out, even though he has no idea where we are either. He walks me in the direction that I need to go and then proceeds to try and invite himself to my friend’s birthday. Yeah, no, not going to happen. He then tells me that he wants to say goodbye. I’m like “Okay bye!” Not quite what he meant. Instead he tries to slobber all over my face and I’m like “Whoa, slow down, ask a girl to dinner first”. Needless to say, I managed to slide out of that situation, excuse myself and practically run off in the other direction. This guy, in a matter of 20 minutes, went from having all the makings of a perfect train flirtation, to being an utter disaster just by shattering the mystique of the perfect stranger.


It’s a fine line between cute harmless flirtation and overly aggressive creepiness when it comes to the train. You’re a captive audience, there’s no escape, which makes all social interaction potentially weird, doubly so if there is romantic intention. Train flirting should be fun and innocent, usually nothing more than a few passing glances. Breaking the rules can lead to unnecessary discomfort for everyone involved. So get the fuck over yourself already. 


About 25shotsandcounting

My name is Sylvia. I’m a 22 year old girl living in NYC. For reasons I wish I knew, I get hit on a lot. I don’t think it’s because I’m particularly more attractive, funnier or even more intelligent than other girls. I’m convinced that it’s some kind of weird aura that only men can sense. An invisible sign that says, “Well hi there, I’m open for business.” Ironically, I’m usually not. The idea for this blog came about while I was dating a bartender in Williamsburg. I would go his bar and have several drinks by myself while waiting for him to get off work. Like clockwork, it was usually only a matter of time before I had a parade of guys come and talk to me. So much so that it became a running joke between my boyfriend at the time and all of his co-workers, just betting how long it would take before I had my next victim. Sometimes flattering, sometimes annoying, other times like some sort of scientific curiosity, the unelicited attention became enough of a pattern to notice and, free drinks aside, generally dread. I seem to be a magnet for awkward pick up attempts, which sometimes lead to misadventures of one kind or another. I know this is a common phenomenon for young women in NYC, but I figured, why not write about it.
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