Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Fantasy of Nightlife

When women go out, they are done up: they have makeup on, their hair is done, they are wearing heels, wearing their best clothes, etc. In addition, nightlife venues are almost always dimly lit, so that any cosmetic imperfections are hidden. In other words, they look their "best."

Men also get dressed up when they go out; but more importantly, they drink. The alcohol makes them more social and confident, more willing to go for what they want. And the magnum of Grey Goose they bought makes them look more important than they are. The loud music and bustling environment makes it unnecessary for them to lead a real conversation, so any lack of social skills is masked. In other words, they also look their "best."

Granted, men often over-drink, in the same way that girls often over-dress. Taking extra shots is the male equivalent of wearing too short of a skirt, or too much makeup. But the point is that, in nightlife, men and women lean on the crutch of added confidence or beauty (respectively) in order to appear more attractive to the opposite sex. The interesting thing is that, in addition to leaning on their own crutch, both sexes actually lean on the opposite sex’s crutch as well…

When men go out, they indulge in the belief that they can get girls who look like supermodels. The truth, of course, is that these guys can only get girls who look like supermodels in the club, and only when they themselves have liquid courage to assist, or loud music to mask their insecurity, or when they have the best table in the club to hide the fact that they are a run-of-the-mill manager in a medium-sized company.

When women go out, they indulge in the belief that they are attractive enough to get confident and powerful men to approach from across a room; but the reality is that they can only attract the men who can act confident after a couple drinks, or guys who know how to look powerful in a nightclub.

While this dynamic is far more exaggerated in nightclubs than it is in bars, it still exists in degrees wherever women are dressed up and men are drinking. Women lean on their appearance and sex appeal to be more attractive than they are normally, men lean on alcohol and status symbols to be more attractive than they are normally; and both sexes bask in the glow of the “results” they get in those circumstances.

This isn't necessarily a problem as long as you recognize what is going on, and enjoy it for the fantasy that it is. But it can be a problem if you let yourself slip into the mentality of “I get a lot of attention from the opposite sex,” when the reality is that you only get a lot of attention from the opposite sex when you go out – in other words, when you participate in the fiction of nightlife. This is significantly different from being able to attract someone in normal life, and assumptions to the contrary might be fueling your complacency.


Related Posts
1. The Analogy Between Confidence and Beauty
2. Bars Are a Bad Place to Meet Women
3. Bars Are a Good Place to Meet Guys – Part 1
4. Nightlife Tip 1 – Create Space at the Bar

Friday, September 26, 2014

Nice Guys Don't Exist

Everyone adapts their behavior to the people around them, and in response to the situation at hand. We are nice to people we like and mean or bitchy to people we don’t. We are friendly and cheerful when things go well and short-tempered or depressed when they don’t. Yeah, sure, there are some people who are generally more disposed to (for example) mean or more egocentric behavior than others, just as there are some people who are more disposed to (for example) kind or generous behavior than others; but even they are more mean or kind to some people, and less egocentric or generous to others. And of course there are some people whose behavior is less affected by circumstance than others, but not to the point that it isn't affected at all – and not even to the point that it isn't affected significantly. We like to think of personality as static and constant, intrinsic to each person. But the reality is that personality is merely a name we give to a set of behaviors coming from an individual; and those behaviors are very much mood-driven, situational and dynamic.

This misconception plays into our perception of the opposite sex significantly. Consider how frequently you change your behavior towards the men in your life…

If I approach a girl in a bar awkwardly, and then speak to her in a low voice because I am nervous, she isn't going to be attracted, and isn't going to respond well. The fact that she is short with me, or excuses herself immediately to go to the bathroom doesn't mean that she is a "bitch;" it just means that I didn't attract her enough. The next guy who approaches her might approach her confidently and genuinely, and have her wrapped around his finger the rest of the night.

If I have a dead-end job and lack ambition, my girlfriend isn't going to respond to me in the same way as the guy she dates next (i.e. after she dumps me), who is intentional in his career and gainfully employed in a position he truly enjoys. I might tell my friends that she was “cold” or “distant” but they'll know as well as I will that her next boyfriend probably has none of the same problems. Or maybe she is the one complaining that he is cold and distant.

The same kind of girls that ignored me when I was young and lacked confidence now treat me entirely differently, because I am older and far more sure of myself. At twenty years old, it was tempting to view those girls as stuck-up or bitchy; but the reality is that they were probably acting like angels towards some 30-year-old who was much more attractive due to his age, maturity and position in life.

I am not saying all of this to make a point about women, but to make a point about men – because men work exactly the same way. It is easy to believe that a certain guy is an asshole because he dumps you without an explanation, or that another is an authentically nice guy because he treats you well. But I am telling you: those men behave in entirely different ways with different girls.

The guy who you think is a player because he hits on three other girls before taking you home, then never calls you the next day – I guarantee that he is genuine and respectful and serious with other girls he dates. I know this because I've been that guy plenty of times. Some women I treat well and with respect, and others I don’t. If I see a girl I'm attracted to and whom I respect, I change my game completely. My male friends do the same.

The guy who is a dismissive asshole to you is a babbling, nervous idiot with the girl he is crazy about, and the guy who is such a gentleman to you absolutely crushes the hopes of girls that he doesn't find attractive, or doesn't respect. Likewise, the guy who never calls you back isn't “flaky,” he just doesn't care that much about you. I am sure there is a girl out there who has complained that he was needy and contacted her too much. And I am equally sure that the guy you were dating who seems to have “commitment anxiety” has at some point in his life practically begged to be in a relationship with a girl.

The thing is, nice guys don’t exist. “Douchebags” don’t exist. The behaviors we describe with these terms are not innate and static characteristics of any given person; they are behaviors that change depending on the other person involved and the circumstances surrounding the interaction. Of course there are men out there who are more disposed to certain types of behavior than others; but the degree of attraction a man feels for you will affect his behavior towards you far more than anything intrinsic to his personality, and the degree of attraction he feels for you is significantly affected by the kind of behavior you'll accept from him.

So instead of complaining about the dearth of nice guys or the abundance of douchebags, start thinking about what you can do to make then men in your life treat you the way you want. Because that is what is going to make the difference – not finding some "perfect guy" with some supposed personality type. You don't find perfect men, you elicit perfection from men.


Related Posts

Friday, August 22, 2014

How to Set Up Your Friends

Most women I've met like the idea of setting up the single men in their lives with the single girls in their lives. In other words, they like match-making. Mothers seem to love this more than most, presumably because it puts them back in touch with the romantic spark that is often dead in their own relationships. Perpetually single girls love this too, probably because having influence over someone else’s love life is the next best thing to having control over your own. But normal girls like it too, and this is understandable because it is only human to want to have an influence on other people's lives (it is human to want to have influence in general). In the same way that it is empowering to know that you were the one who got your friend the job that was the springboard for her career, it is empowering to know that you introduced her to the guy that finally gave her confidence in her dating life, or even the guy that she eventually married.

Now, let me preface what I am about to say by pointing out that setups are usually a bad idea. In the vast majority of cases, the very fact that your friend needs help finding love is a good indication that your attempt to help is going to fail. This is because the problem is never one of "just not having met the right person yet." It always runs deeper. Maybe she is insecure, or too introverted, or overweight. Maybe she is trying to be masculine, or makes herself unapproachable. Whatever the case, her inability to take charge of her own romantic life isn't merely a matter of bad luck; it is a symptom of a deeper problem, which your attempt to introduce her to someone new isn't doing anything to solve. It's like giving another book to a child with a learning disability, and thinking "this time he'll get it." Exactly. It isn't going to happen.

So with that background, let's take a look at what most people do when they try to set up their friends (because this blog is for women I am going to use the example of a girl, but guys make the same mistake). Once a girl sees a potential match in her social circle, she goes to the girl and guy separately, and tells each of them that she knows "someone that they have to meet." She might tell each person a few things about the other, maybe show them some photos, and she gets them to agree to the setup. Then she arranges some kind of event at which the two people have the opportunity to meet each other. She's "really good at this" because she never lets either person know that the other one knows it's a set up. That way it won't feel forced or awkward. Perfect, right? Wrong.

The problem isn't that the person thinks that the other knows about the setup. The problem is that the person themselves knows they are being set up. And they knew this the very moment the girl told them there was "someone that they had to meet." This does two things: first, it generates expectations and makes both parties feel like they have to perform, which of course results in an encounter more awkward than a new graduate's first job interview. More importantly, however, and what I want to point out here, is that it destroys the single most important thing for someone who struggles with their dating life: autonomy.

Let's look at this from a the guy's perspective...

One of the hallmarks of masculinity is self-control: men want to be in control of their lives, and by extension, they want to be in control of their dating lives. A man will never feel good about himself if he can't initiate and perpetuate his own relationships. (Remember that his inability to do so is the reason his friends want to set him up in the first place.) By setting a guy up, you are essentially stepping in and putting training wheels on his bike - reminding him that he cannot handle himself. Yes, it might be true that he rides poorly (or not at all) without those training wheels; but by taking control of his dating life you are making him feel like a child, and he won't respect himself for any girl he "gets" with your help. He also won't respect any girl that he needs help to meet, because men know instinctively that women are attracted to men who don't need help: men who are in control and confident with their own capabilities. In other words, he knows he can get a better girl if he gets his shit together and deals with his lack of options himself.

You might argue that without some initial help, a guy (or girl) will never date anyone at all. To use the bike analogy, you might argue that, yes, a guy might not respect himself for using training wheels, but without training wheels he will never learn how to ride. But this argument assumes that his problem is balance. In real terms, your insistence on setting him up assumes that his problem is meeting girls. But as I pointed out at the beginning, this is never the case. His problem isn't one of balance, it is the fear of crashing. His problem isn't one of meeting girls, it is the fear of rejection; and setups do nothing to help him overcome that fear.

There is a feminine perspective on this too. When it comes to match-making, the feminine problem is that a girl will not respect a man who needed the help of a friend (i.e. you) to meet and attract her. This isn't only a matter of judging the man's courage, or the social abilities needed to make a connection with her. Women know that if a man is motivated enough, he will dig down and find that courage, and make something happen - or at least he will try. You want a man who desires you enough to push through a crowd to meet you, or takes some kind of initiative. At very least, you want a guy who does more than accept dates that are handed to him because his friends think he has no other options. A girl who finds herself in a relationship that started that way won't respect him, won't respect the relationship, and won't respect herself. So deep down, girls doesn't like being set up any more than guys do. They might like being single even less, but they'll be even less enthusiastic still about being dumped once their boyfriends wake up, and realize that they are only with those girls because they never had the balls to go for what they really wanted.

I am sure many readers know people who have had successful relationships after being set up, some of which might have even lead to marriage. My parents were set up, and they've been married more than 30 years. Maybe you were set up and are still with your boyfriend. And that's fine. But it doesn't mean that those cases are ideal or likely, or that they do anything to strengthen the inner core of the relationship.

So what do you do? How do you help facilitate a match that you think has potential? Well, you let both the guy and the girl ride without training wheels. You encourage them to take control of their own dating lives, and then you let them do so. This doesn't mean that you can't set them up, but it does mean that you can't tell either of them you are setting them up. Here is what you do: you invite them both to whatever event you've organized, then you sit back and see if they connect. Nothing more, nothing less. If he doesn't take the initiative on his own, nothing happens, and that's OK - or at least, it isn't something you can correct by stepping in and facilitating the connection any more than you already have.

Of course, it isn't always the case that the person you are trying to set up has any problems dating or attracting the opposite sex. Maybe they have plenty of options, and you just happen to know someone who would be a great match for them. But in these cases, you won't need to do anything other than introduce the two people anyway; they will be perfectly fine on their own if there is an attraction, so the strategy is the same: introduce, step back, and let it happen. Nothing more.


Related Posts
1. You Are Responsible For Your Own Romantic Happiness

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bars Are a Bad Place to Meet Women

I've met the majority of the women I've dated in bars. There have been plenty of girls that I've met through friends or randomly in public, but in bars, the sheer density of attractive, young, single women is enormously greater than it is on the street or beach or office (or anywhere else); and my dating history reflects that. I've made the point previously that the higher concentration of the opposite sex in nightlife venues is a good thing, and I stand by what I said. But as I've gotten older and come to know myself better, I've recognized two serious disadvantages to meeting women in this way.

1. Randomness

The first thing I've realized is that I don't value the way that I meet women I meet in bars – that is, I don’t value the process itself. I was telling this recently to a girl that I know, and she suggested that it was because meeting girls in bars is "too random." I think this is the common supposition - namely, that because you don't have any history or connection with the people that you meet in bars, there is no foundation for a relationship, and so any attempt at one is doomed. But this isn't the problem. A strong foundation for a relationship is just as much a function of personal compatibility as it is a function of common history or connections. Meeting the opposite sex in a bar isn't unsuccessful for lack of foundation, and it isn't unsuccessful because it is random. It is unsuccessful precisely because it isn't random.

Randomness is actually what we all want, in the sense that we all want our "how we met" story to be unique and unexpected. The more random it is that you met someone to whom you find yourself deeply attracted, the more special it feels, because you know that you were incredibly lucky for it to happen. It's the same phenomenon that makes people appreciate life so much after a near-death experience. You value what you have because you know that you almost didn't have it. As absurd as most romantic comedies are, it says something about our ideals of romance that so many of them start with some permutation of a girl hitting a guy on a bike with her car - randomly - and then falling in love with him. Things are romantic at least partially because they are unexpected, that is, seemingly impossible or unreal. I probably don't need to explain to most women how un-romantic it is to receive flowers on Valentine's Day. It might be nice, and it might be better than never receiving flowers, but it isn't romantic because it is too predictable. It isn't random at all.

Being picked up in a bar also isn't random at all. In fact, it is exactly the opposite of random; it is boring because it is too mechanical, too planned. Guys know that they want to meet girls, they know where to find them, and they go there to do so. Girls know that they want to meet men, they know where they will be hit on, and they go there for that reason. The encounter might take place in an exciting, fast-paced and sexually-charged atmosphere, but that's just superficial ornamentation. Underneath, those meetings are absolutely bland, because they are absolutely intentional.

Yes, obviously, not everyone in a bar is there with the conscious intention of meeting the opposite sex, but the percentage of people who are is infinitely higher in nightlife environments than it is in, say, a shopping mall. And following the train of thought described above, we project that intention onto every person we meet in a nightlife environment, then down-rate the value of those encounters accordingly. I don't value the women I meet in bars because there is nothing special about the way we met.

2. Difficulty

The second thing I realized is that I don't value the effort I make to meet girls in bars. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with the girls themselves, but I don't respect my relationships with them because I didn't have to work very hard to make those relationships happen. Men are very keenly aware that things of low value are easy to obtain, and so we assume (and in most cases are right) that things that are easy to obtain are low in value. A man might have the best job in the world, but he'll never feel good about it as long as he knows that he only got it because his father pulled strings with his professional contacts to make it happen. The same mentality applies in dating.

It hasn't always been this way for me. In my early twenties, approaching a random girl in a bar and attracting her enough to get her phone number took balls and felt like a real accomplishment - because at the time, for me, it was. I was able to have genuine relationships with girls that I met in bars because I respected myself for meeting girls in bars. But I don't anymore, because it has become too easy, too boring. Without the challenges that my adolescent social anxiety used to pose, all I see in bars is a social scene hugely facilitated by dark lighting, loud music, commotion and alcohol. They’re still a great place to have fun and get laid, but they’re not the kind of place where I expect to find a relationship anymore.

Now, does this mean that bars are a bad place to meet guys, or that you should stop going out?

Not necessarily. Despite the fairly categorical nature of this post's title, what I am really saying here is that bars are a bad place for me to meet women at this point in my life. I am no relativist, but the reasons explained above don’t apply to every guy, and they don't apply in every situation. If you meet a guy tomorrow who is the way I was at 22, for whom it is a big deal to meet a girl in a bar, then this isn't going to be an issue at all. And even if the guy you meet in a bar is exactly like me in the sense that it isn't a challenge for him, there is still the possibility of something working out; it just means that you are getting off on the wrong foot. If there is a strong enough connection, "how you met" probably won't be enough to prevent or disrupt it.

There is also the chance that there will be some other coincidence that makes the encounter incredibly random, despite the environment – maybe you find out that you both come from the same town on the other side of the country, or that you have identical ancestry, or that you are both obsessed with the same nerdy sci-fi movie, even though you met in a nightclub. And as I explained in previous posts, you still have to consider the disadvantages posed by what I've explained above, along-side the low probability of getting off on the right foot somewhere less intentional, like a shopping mall or at work.

No, I am not saying that you shouldn't go to bars. I am saying that you should be cognizant of the fact that men – just like women – will not respect or value what comes too easily, whether it comes too easily because (a) it is too mechanical or (b) because it requires very little effort. The converse of this is that men will value their encounter with you in proportion to how (a) unlikely or (b) difficult it was. While this doesn't mean that you should lock yourself in a steel cage and only accept men who are willing to tear it down to get to you, it does mean that you should avoid situations in which every man has easy access to you.

Incidentally, this post could also have been written about online dating, or anything else that dramatically facilitates meeting the opposite sex. You might think of bars and online dating as completely different – even opposites – but they share the strong similarity of taking the difficulty out of approaching (and therefore, being approached by) the opposite sex. Even though it seems like an ideal situation on the surface, the reality is that, for many men and women, bars and online dating are shortcuts. And no one wants to know that they got something important to them by taking a shortcut. Even if online dating or going to bars isn't a shortcut for you, be aware that it might be a shortcut for the guy, and that he is liable to respect himself and the relationship less because of it.


Related Posts
1. Bars Are a Good Place to Meet Guys – Part 1
2. How "Hard to Get" Should You Play?
3. Don’t Initiate Contact
4. Why You Don’t Get Approached by Men

Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Announcement

I am sure everyone who reads this blog regularly has noticed the decline in post frequency in the last several months. What's probably not as evident is the reason, which is that I have been working on a book. In fact, since December, more than 100 % of the time that I typically devote to the blog has instead been focused on writing it. So while it might seem like my output has declined in recent months, the reality is that it has increased significantly - you just haven't seen the output yet.

I've mentioned the book a few times in the blog comments, and in replies to some readers' e-mails; but I've largely kept quiet about it - mostly because I didn't want to announce the book and then wait months or years for its release, but also because I didn't want to announce something before I was absolutely sure it would actually happen. But as of last week, the manuscript is finally finished, and it's mostly downhill (at least in terms of my commitment to the project) to the point of publishing; so this is a good time to make the announcement.

The book is about how to understand and handle breakups and rejections. It explains in detail why they happen, what the guy is thinking, how to maximize your chances of getting him back, and how to move on. I will rely on an excerpt from the introduction to explain my choice of topic:
"It might seem a little strange to write a relationship advice book that deals exclusively with break-ups and rejection. After all, if the break-up has already occurred, it is a little late for the kind of advice that could have made a difference...
"...[But] it has been my experience that, for most girls, a painful break-up or rejection is actually the beginning, not the end. It isn't the beginning of a relationship, obviously, but it is the turning point at which they start to question their approach to dating and relationships – the beginning of their efforts to make a change... 
"It is only after a painful or repeated loss that a woman begins to think twice about her approach to the opposite sex, and it is precisely then that she has the interest and motivation to learn why things didn't work... It also happens to be the time when she is most in need of advice about how to forget about him and move on – even if it isn't the advice she is most interested in receiving."
An additional consideration was that I get hundreds of e-mails every month asking for advice, and 95 % of them are questions about breakups. Although writing this book was a fairly big undertaking, it's a hell of a lot easier than re-writing the same 30 e-mails over and over again for the next ten or twenty years.

The topic is ostensibly narrow, but the reality is that you can't navigate a breakup properly without a pretty comprehensive understanding of male-female dynamics; so the book covers just about everything: what makes a man fall for a woman, the mindset with which men approach relationships, the model you should use for your expectations in relationships, what pulls relationships apart, the nature of your relationship with your boyfriends' family, the importance of emotional honesty, etc. - not to mention all the practical stuff like what to say, when to say it, how long to wait before contacting him again, and all the rest. I will post a full chapter list prior to publishing; but the point is that the book's topic is more of a framework for the discussion of much larger issues in dating and relationships than it is the theme of a purely practice guidebook. So the book will be extremely relevant to anyone who has been broken-up with or rejected, and probably even helpful to those who haven't. While I won't say that I'll never write another book, I don't have any plans to write a second one, so I didn't hold back any topics that might be more appropriate for future publications; I addressed everything here.

Originally, my plan was to simply publish a compilation of previous posts from the blog that were loosely related to the topic of breakups, with some additional wording weaving them all together. But the more I wrote, the more I realized was missing in order to cover the topic comprehensively; and the book soon grew into something far greater than just the existing material. I estimate that the re-used parts from the blog account for only 20 % of the book; and even those parts have been significantly expanded and improved. They also benefit from being placed in the wider context of the surrounding chapters. 

In total, the manuscript is just over 15,300 words, so it will probably be about 200 pages printed. Unless I receive an attractive book deal, the book will be self-published, in both paperback and electronic formats. It will also be available for purchase worldwide. I am not sure of the release date yet, but if I do go down the self-publishing route, it shouldn't take more than a few months to at least publish in electronic format, and the printed version will follow soon after. This might be a good point to mention that I am a complete rookie in self-publishing, and I know I have readers with experience of not expertise. So please e-mail me if you have any advice. I am very open to ideas, and I am also looking for one or two more (experienced) copy editors.

I want to end by pointing out that I am very proud of this book. Around the time that I started writing it, there were a few comments on the blog about the decline in post quality. That didn't surprise me, because - having started the book - my mind and energy was entirely dedicated to the topic of breakups and rejection, which meant that every new and insightful thought I had went into the book rather than the blog. Only the remnants ended up on the blog, which is why you only saw posts about jeans and sports for the last several months. But the book contains my best material to date, and I hope you will look forward to reading it as much as I am to publishing it.

Stay tuned for more...

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Importance of Variety in Your Appearance

There is a girl in my office that is extremely attractive. She is good-looking, but she is much more than that. She has great posture, always fixes her hair well, smiles frequently, is confident, and she generally radiates an air of femininity that is painfully lacking in many girls’ demeanor.

One thing that always stands out about this girl is the way that she dresses – specifically, the variety of clothes she wears. Every day she wears something completely different. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen her wearing the same thing twice. I am not making a statement about the quantity of outfits she owns or the size of her wardrobe; I know plenty of girls who wear different outfits every day but still look boring. This girl actually looks different every day. One day she will be wearing jeans and a blouse, the next day she will be wearing a long, close-fitting dress, the next day cotton dress-pants with a loose, flowing top, and the day after that a pencil skirt. I've seen this girl wear clothes and dress types that I didn't even know existed. I realize that might not be saying much coming from a guy, but the point is that she is very clearly an outlier relative to other girls when it comes to the variety of clothes she wears.

It would be hard to underestimate how much men love this – and I say that with confidence because I've talked about it with several other guys and they agree categorically. Her daily choice of clothes is the topic of our lunch conversation more often than is probably healthy. It’s worth pointing out that this attention isn't the wrong kind of attention. Plenty of girls could work their way into our conversation by wearing short dresses, small tops or tight skirts. In fact, plenty do, and we talk about them too. But we come back to this girl way more than the others because we are constantly surprised and impressed with the variety. It’s hugely refreshing to see her every day in a different outfit.

While I am sure that women can appreciate variety in male fashion also, I am convinced that this is something men appreciate much more than women. I've explained before how strongly men crave sexual variety, and I've explained the importance of visual stimulation. By varying her appearance, a woman appeals to both of those masculine desires. Of course she can’t actually be someone else; but by looking different every day, she can come close enough. I don’t have a huge amount of evidence to support that claim, but when I think about how tempted I would be to cheat on the girl I am describing versus other girls that are equally attractive, there isn't much of a competition.

Having thought about it a bit recently, I can break down this girl’s fashion success into three factors:
  1. She takes risks. This girl doesn't always look good. In fact, I've seen her look downright horrible at times. One day she came in wearing these shitty gypsy-looking baggy pants and an ugly shirt, and I almost cried. A couple times she's worn colors that washed her out completely. I’d say that roughly 5-10 % of the time, she looks bad. But I realize that no one can pull off the kind of variety I am advocating without fucking up occasionally; besides, the variety and successes are both well-worth the mistakes. In fact, I would even be fine with more mistakes if it meant I’d get a girl who was equally dynamic in her wardrobe.
  2. She doesn't pay attention to office fashion norms. In other words, she doesn't think “this is a professional environment; a sun dress is inappropriate.” She might not always be wearing clothes that are “appropriate,” in the sense that they play down or divert attention from her looks, but neither is she dressing overly sexy or provocatively. Trying to bring women into the workplace and expecting them to dress like men is about as ridiculous as asking men to stay home with the kids and forcing them to dress like women. Women need to be allowed to be women, and “appropriate” has unfortunately been defined largely by a society that doesn't fully understand that.
  3. She enjoys looking good. There is no way that a girl will be able to force herself to dress in such a varied manner if she doesn't enjoy doing it. And although you shouldn't try to force yourself to enjoy it, you can let yourself enjoy it to whatever degree you naturally do. I said a lot about this in the post Femininity, Authenticity and Compatibility, so I won’t repeat myself here; but I want to make one additional point in that regard: you don’t need to be a supermodel to enjoy looking great, and you don’t even need to be hot for men to appreciate how you dress. Let yourself enjoy looking your best in as many ways as possible.
Of course, these principles apply to make-up and hair also. The important principle is appearance variety, not just wardrobe variety - but you can draw the analogies.

For the record, I recognize that having a wide variety of clothes can be expensive. And I am not going to pretend that women with less income are without a disadvantage here. That's life. If it helps stomach that fact, you can remind yourself that wealth disparities affect men in their dating lives far more than they affect women. But anyway there are plenty of ways to work the concept of variety into your wardrobe without breaking your bank, and there are plenty of girls reading this post right now who spend all kinds of money on wardrobes bigger and more boring than this girl’s. Make the most with what you have.

Now, all this being said, there is some value in the adage “looking good every day is more important than looking different every day.” While I suspect this statement was popularized more more with men’s fashion in mind than women’s, I also want to make it clear that I am not advocating wearing ugly clothes or crazy make-up only for the sake of variety. You need to indulge in variety wisely, choosing colors and cuts that look good on you. But within the limits of what you know suspect makes you look good, don’t be intimidated by the pressures of “what is acceptable” or what feels safe at the expense of what is different. Different counts for a lot.


Related Posts:
1. The Most Important Time to Dress Well
2. Feminine Beauty is Highly Controllable
3. Men and Sexual Variety
4. The Importance of Taking Fashion Risks

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Advice Roundup 2

Here is another round of questions and answers that have come through my inbox recently:

1 ----------------

Andrew,

I have a question for you. I read your blog, really value your opinion, and would so much appreciate your input.

Do men ever feel a sense of obligation to keep in touch with a girl? I have been seeing my older brothers best friend (age 28, i am 24) for a few months, and get the feeling he may now just be keeping in touch out of politeness, to avoid a situation with my brother - do guys do this?

Is it ever right to wait for a guy you really like, if he is moving slower than you want to? I feel as if the waiting for a relationship to form drives women absolutely crazy - is it right for the beginnings of relationships to feel like this?

Thank you in advance, very much.
Sandra

Sandra,

Probably he isn't doing it out of politeness. He probably likes you, and enjoys being in touch with you because he likes flirting with the idea of something happening between you, but he is probably too worried about the fact that he's friends with your brother to actually make a move. Or maybe he just wants to talk casually to decide if his attraction to you is enough to risk his friendship with your brother.

There is no reason (other than the strain on your patience...) why you can't continue talking to him, and seeing where things go. If this goes on for several months and you are talking regularly - say, a few times a week - but he isn't doing anything, you might bring it up by telling him that, while you are interested in dating, you understand the situation is complicated by your brother, but you also don't want to keep talking endlessly if he is never going to decide it's worth a shot. Of course, this is just a soft way of telling him to grow some balls and make a decision, and it's likely to bring the whole thing to an end, but if that is what happens, you'd be fooling yourself in believing that the "whole thing" would ever have worked out anyway.

Good luck,
Andrew

2 ----------------

Hi Andrew, your blog is awesome!

My question is, would a man ever want a non-sexual friendship with a woman just to get emotional support? I had a sexual relationship with this guy for six months last year. We met through a community project. We ended it mutually... We wanted to try to keep our friendship intact because we will continue to have community interaction, and we care about each other.

We have both tried hard to keep the friendship. He is a natural alpha guy, man of few words, but has always made the effort to text me and call and we've stayed in pretty close contact like this for months. He has taken some big personal hits over the last couple years and I give him a lot of support and praise (not that he'd ever ask) which I think he likes and maybe even needs. The problem? I feel like he avoids seeing me in public. We have mutual friends and opportunities to be out together and socialize, and he doesn't pursue it. It feels weird to me to have just a phone relationship. It's always drummed in girls' heads that guys never want to be friends with women. Is it possible this is just an ego feed for him and he doesn't actually want to be friends? Despite all the texts and calls it's hard not to take it personally that he never wants to get together face to face in a platonic setting... which is what I do with all my other friends.

Thanks for your help!
Majda

Majda,

His willingness to stay in touch is definitely motivated in part by the fact that he enjoys the personal chemistry between you and the conversations, etc. - but for sure there is an element of ego there too. He likes knowing you like him. Incidentally, this means that he must have some level of sexual attraction to you also (otherwise his ego wouldn't value your attraction to him); but his unwillingness to take it any further is a much stronger indication that the level of attraction isn't high enough to get back together. I'd tell him you are interested in getting back together, but you realize that he isn't on the same page, and that because you see things differently, you think it's better not to talk. Then cut him off.

Good luck,
Andrew

3 ----------------

Hi Andrew,

I have a very quick wit and use natural puns, double meanings, subtle references in conversation--people laugh a lot around me. I've cut my playful, though sarcastic, banter but kept wondering this: Do masculine guys like girls with great situational humor or not? Do I "lose points?" I am otherwise extremely feminine. Still stepping on Mr. Alpha's toes?

Thanks!
Rebecca

Rebecca,

I realize I am reading between the lines a lot here, but I have a hunch that your sense of humor is a way you've subconsciously attempted to make yourself stand out to men, i.e. to make them notice you. And if I am right about that, it isn't your success (or even failure) at being funny that is turning men off, it's the fact that men can recognize your discomfort with who you are shining through your attempts at being funny. I think you've made the right move by scaling back your wit a little bit, since I suspect you were using humor as a crutch for garnering male attention. As you probably have realized, good and bad attention are sometimes difficult to distinguish, and the desire to be recognized can very easily blur the lines between the two. I suggest recognizing that (a) you don't need to be the most beautiful girl in the world to find a man that you love and who loves you back, (b) being comfortable with who you are is way more attractive than humor - in fact it rivals physical beauty for the most attractive female quality, and (c) just because there are other girls who are prettier doesn't mean that you can't be noticed for your looks too.

Good Luck,
Andrew

4 ----------------

Hi Andrew,

In your blog, you say that a woman should never tell a man when she will sleep with him. However, you also advise women who want a high-quality boyfriend not sleep with a man until he has demonstrated commitment. In most cases, demonstrating commitment = agreeing to date exclusively.

These two bits of advice seem to contradict each other. For example, let's say you like a guy, you've been dating for a while, and you haven't had sex yet. You want to let him know that you are willing to have sex eventually (so that he doesn't give up in despair), but only after you're exclusive. But if you say "I want to be exclusive before sex," you're essentially saying, "I'll have sex with you when we're exclusive." So by communicating that exclusivity is necessary before sex, you're breaking the rule about never telling a man when you'll sleep with him.

What's the best way to manage this situation?

Thanks!!
Ana

Ana,

You are right in the sense that saying "I want to be exclusive before sex" implies that you'll sleep with him once he commits. But I don't recommend phrasing it that way, mainly because I don't recommend thinking about it that way.

The implication of such a statement is not only that you'll sleep with him once he commits, but that you have essentially already decided that you want commitment from him. But if you are in doubt about his willingness to commit - to the point that you are turning him down for sex - then you shouldn't be sure yet about what you want from him. This isn't because you should play hard to get; it is because, if you are self-confident and have a non-needy approach to dating, you shouldn't want commitment from anyone who doesn't like you enough to commit to you. Everything else about a guy might be great, but unless he desires you enough to be exclusive (and demonstrates that by pushing for exclusivity), one of the most important pieces of the puzzle is completely missing.

Instead, I suggest saying "I am not ready for that yet," or better yet, "I only sleep with my boyfriends." This frames the whole interaction in a healthier mindset, because there is no implication that you'll say "yes" if he asks you be to exclusive with him. There is therefore also no implication that you will sleep with him, let alone when.

Hope that helps,
Andrew

5 ----------------

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the great blog!

I am 32, female and single. I have an illness which does not have any effect on my daily life, but I don't have enough eggs and no periods without pills. Despite this I have 5-10 % to fall pregnant spontaneously, but doctors can't improve this percentage. I do want kids but I am also happy to adopt. My question is, when and how should I tell a guy? I am worried to death that a guy will be disgusted by my infertility.

Thanks a lot!
Anika

Anika,

You shouldn't tell a guy about your low fertility until you are sure that marriage is something he is considering. On the surface, that might seem like a long time to wait; but the flip side of that advice is that (assuming that marriage is what you want from dating) you shouldn't continue dating a guy more than 6 months without knowing that marriage is something he is at least starting to think about. If at 6 months you know that the guy isn't even asking himself whether or not you could be his wife someday, then he isn't on the same page as you, and you shouldn't continue dating him. If you are uncertain about whether or not he is considering it, then you should bring up the subject yourself sometime before 6 months. This isn't "pressuring" a guy; it's making sure that you are only dating men who have the same goals as you, and are on the same timeline. Yes that means that you won't be able to date a lot of men, but that's just part of the dating landscape for women interested in marriage.

So the short answer to your question is 6 months at the latest, and as soon as you know he is taking you seriously at the earliest. I am saying this not because I think you have some kind of moral obligation to tell him, but because you don't want to spend too much time with a guy for whom your fertility will be a deal-breaker. But of course, you also don't want a guy to write you off before they have a chance to really appreciate you.

Good luck,
Andrew

----------------

If you want to ask me for advice, please follow the guidelines here: How to Ask Me for Advice And if you liked this post, let me know in the comments; I have about 200 more e-mails I need to answer, so I should have plenty of material for additional posts like this.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Advice Roundup 1

I spent the last month without a computer, so I am way behind on posting and e-mails. In an effort to get back on track with both simultaneously, and because I haven't posted any reader Q&A in a while, the following are 5 that I thought might be of general interest - either because they are unique, or recurring, or not covered elsewhere on the blog.

1 ----------------

Hi Andrew....

My ex broke up with me he claims its because I have tattoos and different kids father but he has tattoos and 2 different kids mom.

In the beginning of the dating I asked if he mind if I have tattoos and he replied,  "So do I, why would I mind?" Two months into the relationship he says that at the rate our relationship is moving he had to step back and think about every thing and me having tattoos and kids by different men (my ex husband and another guy) he could no longer be with me. He said he really enjoyed me and was having a blast but couldn't get past those two factors.

We became a couple fast. He said he had never ask a girl to be his girlfriend as fast as he asked me. Could the fact that it was going too good for him scared him away? I never pressed the issue of us being together... It was all him. Your thoughts please

Thank you,
Janette

Janette,

The tattoos and even your kids are excuses to avoid telling you what he really dislikes about you - which he might not actually know definitively for himself. But if things were really going as well as they were in the beginning, he would still be able to look past those things. He is losing interest, and now he is latching onto the obvious "problems" - as I said, either because he wants to avoid telling you the truth, or because he just has a gut feeling that something is wrong but he can't pinpoint what it is. The tattoos and kids from other men are just easy scapegoats.

Keep in mind that the beginning of any relationship is always colored in a man's mind by the prospect (and if you sleep with him, the actuality) of sex with a new woman. He was able to look past the things about you that he dislikes - not just the tattoos and children - because he was partially distracted by the novelty. Now that the novelty has started to dissipate, he is looking at you and the relationship more critically. In the future, you need to treat with a heavy dose of skepticism anything a man says to you during the first, say, three months of being together.

And come on, you know as well as I do that no guy (or girl) has ever genuinely been scared away by something being "too good."

Good luck,
Andrew

2 ----------------

Dear Andrew!

I have a friend who was interested and liked me and thought I am beautiful, however, did not tell me directly recently, so, I was not 100% sure, if he still has feelings for me. Important point: he has never been in a relationship (we both are pretty inexperienced due to cultural things, and priorities for studies, etc.)
Recently, he asked me for a favor, I helped, he responded "thank you, you're the best!)", then i joked, and then he: "not only, in general you're the best",

My intuition is telling me, that this reply is a typical "friend-zoning" answer, do you think so? I helped him twice, when he asked me, probably I shouldn't have done that. However, I never called first, tried to show limited interest towards him, only responded when asked, never stalked him on facebook, since I liked him. Now I learnt that bitter lesson, that I even shouldn't have helped him eagerly... since men need to be ignored totally to like you (sorry).

Thanks,
Zeneb

Zeneb,

"My intuition is telling me, that this reply is a typical ‘friend-zoning’ answer, do you think so?"
No, a guy could say that in an attempt to hint at the fact that he really likes you.

The interesting part of your question is the second part. You didn't make a mistake in helping him. A lot of girls mistakenly believe that they need to be cold and distant to attract a guy. But you don't need to be cold; you just need to maintain your personal boundaries. So, for example, if he'd asked you to help him at a time when you already had plans to do something else, it wouldn't be smart to change those plans just to spend time with him (i.e. a guy who hasn't proved his genuine interest in you yet). But if you were free to help, you definitely should have helped him. It's a perfectly natural thing to do, and it provides an opportunity to get to know you better and ask you out. If you are constantly avoiding those opportunities, he will get the impression that asking you out will surely end in rejection, and he won’t even try.

Good Luck,
Andrew

3 ----------------

Andrew,

I've been with my boyfriend for 7 years. He's 29 years old, I am 25. We started dating when I was 17.

We fight a lot. However, we often speak about marriage and imagine a future together. He broke up with me a week ago and told me he can't trust me and can't be with someone who he will always doubt because of an incident that happened 6 years ago. I went to hang out with friends (guys and girls) from work and didn't want to answer his phone calls [mainly because] I felt like I couldn't do anything on my own. Even hang out with my friends because I felt like he was checking up on me.

I don't give him reasons to doubt me. Instead, he's the one who does that. For almost 2 years, he's been clubbing. When we first started dating, he NEVER did this and I don't know if that is the reason why he does this now. He goes out behind my back and I always find out because of Facebook or Instagram. He has girls who will leave comments on Facebook. I've seen pictures of him with girls (side hugging) and I get very jealous. I act like a crazy girlfriend. I feel the need to always be checking on things to find out what he's doing.

I know our relationship is not healthy and I'm sure you've read the "but I love him" sentence before. Yes, I know that is not enough BUT it's hard not to try and make things work after 7 years of a relationship. I don't know what to do. We were fine and suddenly he comes out with this. I'm heartbroken.

Thank you,
Cara

Cara,

There isn't an easy way to tell you this, but I am also sure that you know it already: your ex was just looking for an excuse to end the relationship. There are two ways I know this: first, the fact that he is citing an incident from years ago rather than something recent (i.e. relevant), but secondly - and this is the interesting part of your question - the clubbing.

Clubbing is inherently sexual in nature. Your ex might not be sleeping with the girls that he meets in clubs, but by indulging in the nightclub atmosphere, he is indulging in sex by proximity - he is getting "close" to sex. And of course it is possible that he is sleeping with the girls he meets; it might not just be proximate. Either way, his going to clubs is a clear sign that he doesn't feel sexually fulfilled in the relationship. That doesn't surprise me, because men crave sexual variety, and he's spent the vast majority of his 20s committed to you, while the social norm for a guy that age is to be having sex with lots of girls. He's probably been feeling that "deficit" for a while now - at least since he started going out, but probably before.

You are right that the relationship isn't healthy, and I understand that you feel like you are throwing away seven years by letting him go. But it should help to realize that the relationship has been dead for at least two of those years already. This will also help you to frame the situation (rightly) as letting go of something that's already dead, rather than (wrongly) thinking of it as holding on to something that still might have some life. It doesn't.

Good luck,
Andrew

4 ----------------

Hi Andrew

I am 27 years old. How can women best go about putting herself out there and go out to places like bars, cafes, events to potentially meet guys, when she has no single girl friends to be her wing women?
I have many friends, however, no single girlfriends. My girlfriends rarely go out these days, and when they do, they always have to go early like 8-9pm.

Kindest Regards.
Anne

Anne,

You aren't asking the right question. You shouldn't be asking how to meet guys on your own, you should be asking how to make more girl friends. If you were 40 and living in a small town, maybe I would understand, since a lot of the women your age would be married; but at 27, this really shouldn't be a problem.

Either your life situation isn't set up in such a way that allows you to meet other girls, or else you are closing yourself off to new female relationships. If the former, then move, or change jobs, or do whatever you need to change your life situation. If the latter, start making real efforts to open up to other women more. If a girl can't even relate to her own sex easily, she can't expect to be successful interacting with the opposite sex.

Incidentally, I think you'll find that as you make more girlfriends and expand your social circle, you will meet their guy acquaintances and might not even need the bar scene.

Good Luck,
Andrew

5 ----------------

Andrew,

I have a simple question and it is one you have not answered before on your blog. Why would a guy ask for your phone number and then not call?

Thanks,
Jamie

Jamie,

Men do this to prove to themselves that they can get your phone number. In other words, they do it out of pride. This might be a shitty thing to do, but recognize that it is ultimately rooted in insecurity or narcissism: either he has a low enough opinion of himself that he needs the reminder that girls like him, or else he is so obsessed with the fact that women like him, that he cannot resist reminding himself of it. Either way, you should be glad that the guy didn't call you.

On rare occasions, a guy might have recently met another girl that he likes more than you, and be focusing on her instead.

Hope that helps,
Andrew

----------------

If you want to ask me for advice, please follow the guidelines here: How to Ask Me for Advice And if you liked this post, let me know in the comments; I have about 200 more e-mails I need to answer, so I should have plenty of material for additional posts like this one.