How to Be a Great Wingwoman

[Ed. note: The whole wingwoman sitch can be difficult to navigate. Yeah, you love your girls, but no, you aren't willing to hop up on a banquette with them every time Ri-Ri comes on. Sure, you want to help your friend meet a guy, but not just any guy. Yes, you want everyone to feel pretty, but maybe they should reconsider that skirt. Ultimately, a successful night out is all about striking a balance between having fun and keeping cool.

That's why, inspired by the fact that ABSOLUTTM Tune (the new, sparkling fusion of ABSOLUT vodka and crisp white wine pictured below) makes the perfect companion to a ladies' wild/glamorous night out, we asked our friend Lauren Passell to share some tips on being a great wingwoman.]


How to Be a Great Wingwoman

Recently I found myself in a bar with my girlfriend and a guy she had just met. She was being all not-herself — suspiciously good-spirited and cheerful, to be specific, and when she tenderly grabbed the guy's arm and said, "Wow, you must work out!" I thought, "Did I miss the memo that we joined the Bullshit Olympics tonight? Who are you?" Then it hit me: I did miss a memo — the one that informed me that I (whether I liked it or not) had been elected to be my friend's wingwoman that night.

Becoming the perfect wingwoman takes time and preparation. It's a delicate balancing act: part effortless fun-maker, part behind-the-scenes schemer, and part invisible. So if you unexpectedly find yourself in the wingwoman role, here are three things I want you to remember:

  • Wingwomaning Is Not About the Wingwoman — Wingwomen, you are a crucial part of your friend's relationship future. Without you, they'd just be sitting around staring at the TV while dying her lips red with wine. But stay humble, because at the end of the day, you don't matter. When your girlfriend and her love interest are canoodling in their El Camino on Make Out Point, they aren't thinking about what a pal you were a few hours earlier.
  • You Are the Spotlight — You are not in the spotlight. You ARE the spotlight, bringing out the best in everyone, without bringing too much attention to yourself. (I am picturing Lampy from The Brave Little Toaster.) While you are asking questions and adding anecdotes, your goal has nothing to do with you: it is to make your friend look bomb-ass, and to bring out the best in your friend's love interest, too. This is different than being a Wingman — you're orchestrating the whole project, from all sides.
  • There Is No Pam — It's easy to get carried away cracking jokes and slinging around wit-shattering banter. Because you're not interested in scoring, you're free from the pressure to come off as desirable. Wingwomen, you do have to be memorable, intriguing, and able to drive a successful conversation, but if you forget that you ARE the spotlight, you're going to get the digits, not your friend. Which would be cool if you were a catty, self-absorbed cast member of a tacky reality program – but you're not. If you notice that you are attracting too many glances or laughs, make it obvious that you're not available or interested. Bring the focus back to your friend. And when you feel your friend and her target are ready for some alone time, back away gracefully. Say you have to pee. (You don't have to be couth — you're not trying to score.) Say you're getting a drink and that you'll be right back. (You don't have to go back.) Say you have to go say hi to your friend Pam. (There is no Pam.)

I've developed my wingwoman skills so much that I‘ve received flack for being too positive, too much of an enabler, too much of a nurturer. People have told me that I should harness my enthusiasm for certain gentlemen who have been pigeonholed as "psychopath douchebags" (JUST because he bought everyone's drinks and called me "brah" does NOT mean he's not a good egg). Listen, my skills and magic only go so far. It is up to me to put my friend and my friend's love interest in the best light possible and to steer conversations toward Make-Out Town. It is up to my friend to decide whether she is or is not interested. To reiterate, dear wingwomen, this is not our time to shine.

The best thing about being a killer wingwoman? That moment when you're home on the couch, at 2 AM. Your cat is licking the salsa you've been binging on from your toes, and your head is still spinning. You know that at that moment your friend is happy. Don't think about it too hard — but pat yourself on the back. You got her there. Yes, karma is a bitch, but she's also a glorious, generous gift-giver. And if you play your wingwoman cards right, you're next.

Lauren Passell is a freelancer writer and founded Loop, a weekly storytelling newsletter and blog. (Submissions are welcome!) She was Wingwoman for her friend Nikki once and it almost worked out.

Image by Justin Cross, Studio@Gawker