Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Some Encouragement For Those Of You Just Starting Out...or Starting Over

Not everyone has a lot of dating experience. Some of us missed out in high school. We prioritized careers or education. We were shy and nobody seemed interested so we gave up. Maybe we married someone early. The choice was made for us, so we never really had to make the decision for ourselves.

Maybe time has passed and change has happened and we're ready or willing to start dating.

And we're finding ourselves lost and overwhelmed.

Dating is hard when you first start doing it, especially if you're starting late. Every date was a mystery; every conversation was a mysterious exchange; every moment was fraught with decisions I didn't know how to make--when and how do I try to hold her hand? When do I ask if I can see her again? Do I walk her to her vehicle or is that creepy?

One of the many unfair things I noticed was the most unwinnable situations happened at the beginning of my dating experience--when I was least equipped to handle them. As I grew in experience, empathy, ability, and judgement, not only did I get better at handling those situations, I found myself better at avoiding those situations in the first place.

It reminds me of stand-up comedy. The hardest shows you do are always at the beginning of your career. The lighting and sound are terrible, people are indifferent or heckling and it feels like you're being set up to fail. Not only that, because you're new, you don't have the ability or experience to know how to deal with those things. As you move up the ladder, your comedy improves to the point where you get booked on shows with better lighting, sound, and venue security.

But when you're starting out, hearing someone who is doing better than you say: "Try not to get put in that position" or "Pay more attention next time" or "just keep plugging away--things come together with time" is discouraging. It feels like it's easy for them to say because they don't understand.

Looking back now though, the people who told me those things were 100% right. There's no secret they were holding back.

I think that it's also helpful to remember that things change. Just because you're experiencing something now doesn't mean it will always be that way.

Regardless of how the first few dates or encounters turn out, you are doing a good thing. You are investing in yourself and making an effort to try something new.

So I hope you can be patient but persistent with yourself. Progress will happen. Maybe not as quickly as we like or the way we like, but it happens.

-May All Beings Be Sexy


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jerks Get The Girl: The Red Pill Revisited

 I wrote a whole article on the Red Pill--a metaphor people use about dating and relationships where "reformed nice guys" believe that the way to improve their luck with women is to be more of a jerk.

Here's a shorter version:

My opinion is the Red Pill is an overreaction to what has already been tried: "I was 'nice' before and I didn't get the girl. So now I'll be a 'jerk.'"

This isn't exclusive to men. A lot of women's dating advice also swings wildly between extremes: Men love bitches. Men love low-maintenance. Be laid back and up for anything. Be mysterious and unavailable.

Better yet, do all those things at once.

No. Wait. Don't do that. Do the opposite: Just be yourself and don't try too hard.

It's okay to seek advice. But we want to be careful about assuming that because one thing is false, the opposite is true. Similarly, we also don't want to decide that since one reality is true, any contradictory or competing information must be wrong.

In other words, we replace one story about reality with another.

That's a mistake.

What we want to is close our storybooks about what reality is and look directly at reality ourselves.

The truth is always there. We just need to lower the thing we're holding between us and it and look.

Looking is a process though, which is why I've always preferred the 'Inception' metaphor to the Red Pill/Blue pill.

 We progress through different layers simultaneously -- 'surfacing' to the truth about others and our relationships while 'deepening' our understanding of ourselves.

I've never found anything in relationships or life where you can just take a pill/read a book/hear a talk and you're done. Things take time.

The world isn't this or that. The world is this AND that.

It's not enough to know something. We need to learn to live it.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Attraction Is About Them, Not You

Here is an important fundamental principle about attraction.

Attraction is about THEM, not you.

People aren't aren't attracted to your clothes, your looks, your behavior, or your accomplishments; They are attracted to HOW THEY FEEL about your clothes, your looks, your behavior, your accomplishments.

 What does this mean?

1 - It means we are not responsible for other people's attraction. If they aren't attracted to you, it doesn't mean that you are unattractive or did something wrong. If they are attracted to you, it doesn't mean you did something to provoke it or are leading them on (*).

2 - It means we can't 'make' someone attracted to us. If we have characteristics that they already admire, we can amplify, enhance, or showcase those. But we cannot create feelings in another person.

3 - It means that attraction isn't personal. Whether someone is attracted to us or not says nothing about our worth as a human being. It just means they are attracted to us. Many of us have had the frustrating experience of being attracted to people we didn't even like that much. Many of us have also been frustrated by NOT being attracted to someone who is a perfectly fine person and might even be a good match in many ways.

4 - It means that attraction is not the be-all end-all. We don't need to get involved with someone just because we're attracted to them. Depending on what we're looking for, it's only a piece of the puzzle. It may also mean that someone can be attracted to us and still not want to date, have sex, or get into a relationship with us. Similarly, if we're attracted to someone outside our relationship, it doesn't mean there is something wrong with us, our partner, or the relationship. It just means we're attracted.

5 - Perhaps of all, it means that 'being attractive' is not about turning ourselves into another person. It's about finding ways to let our attractive qualities shine through clearly and completely.

In other words, shyness and anxiety is not who you are. It's something that distracts from who you are. Dressing badly or not taking care of yourself physically to the best of your ability is not 'who you are.' It's something that gets in the way of who you are.

There was a time when I would have read that last paragraph and thought, "In other words, be exactly yourself only better looking, smarter, more sociable, and perfect. ."It's that same old B.S. dating advice about being yourself."

It's not about perfection. It's okay to recognize we have limits. Genetics. Our personalities. The time and energy we have to devote to this sort of thing. It's okay to say, "It might make a difference if I did 'X', but I don't have the time, energy, or willingness for that right now."

It's about doing the very best we are willing and able to do with what we have.

You don't have to 'fix yourself.' You don't need to 'be somebody you're not.'

You are already good enough. There is nothing wrong with you and you are not broken. But you do have to be willing to let go of the things that are blocking you.

Sometimes that can be hard. We like to hold on to things: Beliefs, habits, ways of behaving. Sometimes the thing that stops us isn't that we want a partner. It's that we want a partner, but only under our own terms. We think we're entitled to something and shouldn't have to make any changes to get it.

Be who you are. Be that person completely and unapologetically.

And also be the best version of that person you can be. Understand that you can change everything and still be yourself.

From there, you can safely let other people's attraction take care of itself.

You might be surprised at how things work out.

-May All Beings Be Sexy.

(*) You are responsible for how you behave towards someone who is attracted to you. I'd encourage you not to manipulate or take advantage of it. Sometimes the consequences aren't worth it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Let Them Know What You Want

I got approached the other day.

Standing in the bookstore in the bargain section with one eye on the book I was reading and the other scanning for staff about to kick me out, I suddenly became aware of a well-dressed young man standing beside me.

He was polite. He was well-dressed. He asked me lots of questions about myself. He had confident, relaxed body language (*). When I told him I wanted to get back to reading, he withdrew gracefully.

There was only one problem:

I had no idea what he wanted.

Was he gay and attracted to me (**)? Was he a pick-up artist or salesman practicing cold approaches? A guy getting over his shyness? Did he want to sell me something or invite me to join his religious cult? Was he new in town and looking for a friend?

He never told me.

He never gave me the opportunity to let him know whether or not I was interested in the thing he had to offer because he never told me what that thing was.

It can be a scary thing to put our cards out on the table but it's good practice. Furthermore,  when it comes to approaching strangers, especially in situations where they aren't expecting to be approached, it's crucial.

Otherwise they aren't able to give you their full attention and give you an honest interaction because they're do busy asking themselves: What does this person want? How long are they going to keep talking to me? Is this more interesting than what I'm already doing or am I dealing with a creeper here? What will they do if I tell them I want to go about my business?

Always let people know what your intentions are.

It doesn't have to be a big thing. Something as simple as: You look interesting so I thought I'd say hi to you and introduce myself goes a long way.

Other examples:

Hi there. I saw that book you were reading and it looks interesting. I thought I'd come over and ask you about it.

Hi there. I'm waiting for a friend and you look nice so I thought I'd chat with you. Do you have a couple of minutes?

[TECHNICAL TIP: Pause for a beat or two after you say "Hi there." This gives the other person's brain a chance to go from whatever-they-were-thinking-about mode to Oh-someone-is-talking-to-me mode]

These aren't the greatest examples in the world. Often though, they don't have to be. Sincerity and letting people know what you're doing and what you're expecting in return often goes a long ways.

(*) Actually, the cold approach technician in me isn't fond of the T-stance he used. I endorse feet parallel and hip-width apart. But that's a minor quibble.

(**) I'm going with this one. I like feeling pretty.


Take a few moments right now, to come up with some reasons you might want to talk to someone. Imagine situations where you might want to talk to a stranger. Practice out loud saying those reasons. If you're nervous or don't think you can do it, practice it by yourself in the privacy of your bathroom mirror.

If you're feeling brave...well, take a walk and see what happens.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Not Approaching

Last week, we talked about why approaching is useful. This week, I want to talk about the subject of NOT APPROACHING.

Cold approaching is one of the most over-valued and over-talked about skills in all of internet dating-advice-dom. Women ask about it. Men ask about it. PUAs talk about how to do it. Feminists talk about how to do it. Dating advice writers talk about it.

There are a lot of different ideas out there about when and how to do it and who to do it to. And while it's true some advice is more helpful than others, there is reams of stuff out there. So if people want to 'learn how to approach' there is a LOT of stuff out there from the technical to the situational to the psychological.

Sometimes though, some of the questions I get have a different vibe. They ask why should they approach. They say they want to approach but only when they know to do it exactly right or have X,Y, or Z handled. Or you give them information and they have more and more technical questions, even though they are not actually going out and trying out any of the suggestions.

Or they're tired. Or they're sick. Or they aren't good looking enough. Or they don't want t offend anyone, interrupt them, or 'ruin their day.'

Those are all legitimate things. I just don't always see what they have to do with talking to strangers.

With those people I find myself wondering if they are actually looking for help approaching or if they are looking for someone or something to justify their decision to not do it.

It's okay to find approaching difficult. It's okay to find approaching scary and to be worried about how others will perceive you or being rejected. It's okay to decide not to do it--it's a low-percentage play for getting a partner. It's strength is in building confidence, gaining social experience, and helping people realize that they can do something that makes them anxious or ends in rejection and still be okay. But there are lots of other ways to do those things also.

It's okay to decide cold approaching isn't for you right now or ever. It's also okay to do one or two and change your mind.

But if it's the case that you're trying to hide your anxiety and fear about talking to strangers from yourself under a cloak of "I'm not afraid--I'm just doing what's best for the otherfolk by protecting them from myself" or "Respecting boundaries" or whatever, it's not going to work.

Our bodies know when we're lying to ourselves.

And if you're looking for other people to validate or justify those lies you're telling yourself--that doesn't work either. Even if they DO tell you what you think you want to hear, it won't help you at all.

Because your body KNOWS. And it will let you know it knows. And you will keep feeling it, whether you want to or not.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Approaching Is Not About Getting A Date

Learning to approach strangers is a great skill to have. I sometimes think it is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your dating life.

When I tell people this, they sometimes ask me how often it happens that you get into a relationship off a cold approach. Isn't it easier to meet people at parties or shared activities?

Yes, it certainly is.

The thing is though, cold approaching is not about getting into a relationship. If you're measuring results by whether or not someone becomes your partner or not, cold approaches are a long shot even for the people who are GOOD at them.

 But that isn't why we do them. Approaching strangers is not about 'getting something'--not getting a girlfriend, not getting laid, not getting over anxiety.

Approaching is about learning.

What cold approaches do is help people without social experience make up a lot of ground very quickly without putting the relationships they're already in at risk.

There's less social consequences for both parties if you're strangers to each other. You don't have to see each other again at parties, work or social functions

Committing to cold approaching means you meet a lot of people and  see a lot of different individual reactions. You see how people are different and how they are the same. You learn to deal with your own anxiety. You learn to deal with rejection. You learn how to deal with success, even when you don't feel worthy of it. You learn that most people are good to each other and nobody wants to hurt anybody's feelings. You learn that you are likable and that you have something to offer and that other people aren't jerks or stuck-up bitches or dudebros or whatever. You learn that you will make mistakes and neither you or the other person will die a horrible death. You learn other people aren't perfect or normal either and that there's no secret formula that everyone else in the world knows but you. You learn that awkwardness is uncomfortable, but it's not the end of the world.

Best of all, you get to do all this at a pace you can comfortably handle.

You discover which types of strangers are the hardest to approach whether that's attractive people, authority figures, or little old ladies that remind you of your fearsome junior high school English teacher.

You learn to become confident and comfortable with your own fear. You get enough social experience that you start to realize that no matter what happens, you're able to handle it.

And if things go wrong...you're able to handle that too, either by smoothing over awkwardness, apologizing, or walking away.

-May All Beings Be Sexy

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Text Anxiety

When it comes to texting or other forms of instant communication, heres a question to get in the habit of asking yourself before you press send.

Am I sending this text to communicate something to the other person or am I sending it as a way of managing my own emotions?

Instant communication is scary.

Its easy to read things into messages that arent there. Its easy to fill in the blanks between messages with our own fears. After all, its instant communication--so why arent they answering? Dont they know Im dying over here?

Some dating advice contains rules about texting or calling to help with this. Only text Y many times a day. Wait X amount of  time before replying. If you message the other person, wait until you get a reply before sending another.

Im actually fond of that last one, especially if its someone youve just met or are in the process of deciding whether or not youre going to meet. I dont think its a hard and fast rule though.

Instead, lets make THIS the rule: Text to communicate.

That means we use instant messaging as a way to connect or relay information rather than as a way to relieve our own feelings.

Even when were really anxious? Even when our feelings might be justified?

Yes, even then.

Especially then.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine found himself worried when his girlfriend, who was on the road, wasnt answering his texts.

Every moment that passed without hearing from her made his anxiety worse. His way of dealing with his anxiety was to text her some more. The more he texted, the less she wanted to engage with him. The less she engaged, the more texts he sent, leading to a bombardment of texts and calls that went on until three in the morning.

When they finally spoke, she was not a happy camper.

Sometimes in dating, we have a tendency to take actions that create the very situation were trying to avoid. This was one of those times.

Before you text, ask yourself: What am I feeling right now? Am I lonely, angry, or frightened? Am I bored, stressed or impatient? Am I hungry or overtired?

Give yourself some space.

Maybe the message needs to be sent anyway. Often youll find it doesnt.

Its hard to notice this when were in the grip of those emotions, but there are times when all the instant communication in the world isnt nearly as effective as time and space for both people to reflect.

It might not be instant. But sometimes its a whole lot faster.

-May All Beings Be Sexy