Saturday, February 14, 2015

Book Update

In July I posted an announcement that I’d finished working on a manuscript for a book about breakups. While I never committed to an exact release date, I mentioned that I expected to have it out within a few months. I certainly expected to have it edited and published before the end of the year. Clearly that hasn't happened, and I know from the emails and comments I receive that many of you are eager to read it, so I want to give you an update.

Let me start by saying that the book is definitely still coming out. Content editing took longer than I anticipated, but is now complete. At the moment, the manuscript is undergoing copy editing, which I expect to have finished in a few weeks. In parallel I am working on the cover design, but I already have a few solid concepts, so this should be finished before the editing, so hopefully this won’t hold things up.

Once all that stuff is done, I’ll need to order a proof copy, make adjustments as needed, and proof again. How long that process will take is a little unclear, but I expect it won’t be more than a couple weeks. All said and done, I suspect the book will be out in a couple of months.

To hold you over, below is a chapter list, which makes the content pretty transparent. The chapters are almost all very short, like a typical blog post, so don’t be intimidated by the chapter quantity. The full book will be about 200 pages.

It is probably also worth pointing out that although some of the chapters have the same titles as blog posts, and are based around those posts, most of them have been significantly expanded. A couple have been almost completely re-written, notably the first two.

More information is here in the original post about the book.

Chapter List
Introduction
Part 1: Understanding What Happened
Men Don’t Fall in Love the Same Way Women Do
The Analogy between Sex and Commitment
Why This Always Happens to You
Changing Your Perspective
Why You Didn’t See It Coming
Men Don’t Have “Commitment Problems”
The Difference between Liking You and Liking You Enough
Why Men “Fade Out”
You Weren’t Dating Him in the First Place
The Small Things Didn’t Matter Anyway
Why Your Ex (Who Dumped You) Is Still Contacting You
Your Ex and Guilt
Your Ex and Pride
Your Ex and Decisiveness
Interpreting His Emotions
What’s Going Through His Mind
Part 2: How to Handle the Breakup
The Importance of Silence after a Breakup
No, You Can’t Be “Just Friends”
How to Know If You Should Cut Him Off
Why It’s Never Too Late
Why You Should Tell Him That You Are Cutting Him Off
What to Say
Managing Your Expectations
When You Should Fight to Save Your Relationship
Exceptions to the Rule
How to Know If You Should Dump Him First
When He Cheats
The Anatomy of Missing Him
Part 3: Following Through with the Breakup
Making Him Jealous Doesn’t Work
Seeing Him at Work…
Keeping in Touch With His Friends and Family
Being Connected with Your Ex on Social Media
Returning His Things and Getting Yours Back
What to Do When He Contacts You
When He Says He Wants Another Chance…
Stop Sleeping with Your Ex to Prove He Likes You
Part 4: Moving on and Rebuilding
You Are Responsible for Your Own Romantic Happiness
Stop Letting Him Waste Your Time
Know Why You Want Him Back
Why Getting Him Back Won't Help
Why Getting Dumped Is a Good Thing
The Importance of Emotional Honesty
Dating Again
Putting the Breakup in Perspective
When You Can Contact Him Again
Reframing the Future
A Final Word

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Interpreting Male Compliments

When people change something about their appearance – their hairstyle, clothes, makeup, hair color, etc. – they often rely on the feedback that they get from others in deciding whether or not they themselves like the change. I hear people say all the time (after updating their look) “Yeah, I wasn’t so sure about it, but people seem to like it." Of course, this often goes unspoken, but in general people take others’ compliments at face value. This is the problem I want to address.

Let me start with a couple examples. A female coworker recently showed up at the office with short hair. Whereas previously it had been mid-back length, she’d cut it to be only a few inches long. It looked OK at best; but she looked significantly worse than she had with long hair. When she walked into our area of the office for the first time, the “feedback” started…
Guy 1: “Oh, wow you cut your hair – it looks great!”  
Guy 2: “Yeah, wow, looks good.” 
Guy 3: “You look much younger.”
(I didn’t contribute, because I’d run into her earlier in the day and after expressing my surprise at barely recognizing her, told her it looked “stylish” in an unenthusiastic tone.)

When she walked out of our area and out of earshot, we all looked at each other. Guy 1, who had previously always talked about how sexy this girl was, burst out immediately: “Maaann, it looks horrible! What did she do???” We all agreed.

Another time, a girl walked into the same area of our office wearing a new shirt, which was bright green. It drew attention, but it looked horrible. It didn't work with her complexion at all. Immediately, one guy – who is particularly attractive to most of the girls in the office – said “Nice shirt. Good color; green looks good on you.” I am sure she walked away thinking to herself “Wow, I guess green is my color.”

In the first example, obviously the intention behind the compliment was to make the cute girl feel good, or at least to avoid making her feel bad. This is fairly easy to recognize and understand. But something different is at work in the second example, and I've been recognizing it happening more and more in my daily life as I've come to realize what is going on: people respond positively to the things they notice, not to things that are positive. A person might see a friend and think “wow look at that new belt” because it really stands out, or “wow her hairstyle (or color) is completely different today.” But then, because it is so noticeable, they feel the need to acknowledge it. Once they've acknowledged it, the same phenomenon at work in the first example kicks in: they feel the need to make the person feel good about it, and an inaccurate compliment is the result. So in the end, “nice haircut” actually just means “I noticed your haircut.” And if you subscribe to the school of style that says "you should wear your clothes; your clothes shouldn't wear you," then you realize that this is more often a bad sign than a good one.

I've occasionally been given compliments like "you look good in grey." However, knowing what I do about wearing colors that compliment my complexion (I look OK in grey, but not great. I wear grey because it is an easy color to find in stores and doesn't look horrible on me), and recognizing that these compliments came from someone with the desire to make me feel good, I realize that what they really meant was "You look good," and "you wear a lot of grey." But the causal link between those two facts what purely in the eye of the beholder - or rather, the complimenter.

But the problem isn't only that people get inaccurate feedback when they wear or change things in extreme or otherwise noticeable ways. The problem is that when people change things in subtle-yet-powerful ways, they get no feedback whatsoever. The best changes more often than not draw no feedback, while the worst changes draw compliments. If you pay attention to others’ opinions, you’ll end up with a completely skewed opinion of what makes you look good.

The best compliments are those that are mistaken, or indefinite. I've had this happen to me several times. One time my receptionist told me “Andrew, you look great today! Did you change your hair?” I hadn't touched it. In fact, nothing was different about me that day except for my shirt. It happened to be one that I didn't normally wear, but which, in retrospect, perfectly complemented my complexion. Her compliment of my hair was actually a compliment of my shirt.

So pay attention when people give you general or indefinite compliments: “you look very… vibrant today,”  or “something looks different; I like it,” or “did you change your hair?” (even though you haven’t). If you reflect when you receive compliments like this, you can often decipher them to understand their source. And if you succeed, you can rely on your interpretation of that vague or mistaken compliment far more than you can rely on normal “compliments,” which are often little more than sugar-coated observations.


Related Posts

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

No, Your Intelligence Isn't the Problem

I get e-mails from girls all the time telling me that they are attractive, sweet, well-dressed, fun, etc. but can't seem to get the guys they want. They then point out that they are working on a PhD and conclude their question by asking whether or not their intelligence is intimidating men and therefore turning them off. I get similar questions about career success: "I am doing everything right but I am very highly paid - does that intimidate men?"

This is the equivalent of a guy pointing out that he is smart, tall, reasonably good-looking and successful in his job, but struggles to attract girls - then asking if it is because his muscles are too big. I mean, after all, maybe that's what is keeping the girls at bay, right?

If you are a rocket scientist, there is a chance that your academic prowess might be intimidating to an average guy, in the same way that a steroid-injected meat-head's muscles might be a a little much for the average girl. Yeah, sure, there is a risk that pouring too much of your energy into academics will turn guys off a bit, especially if it is done as a mask for your feelings of inadequacy with respect to other women. It's the same risk that a guy runs when he devotes the majority of his free time to getting jacked, especially when it is done as a mask for his feelings of inadequacy relative to other men. But the muscles themselves aren't the chief problem, and neither is your degree or your job.

It's way more likely the case that you are underestimating the importance of your weight, or that you cut your hair way too short, that your posture is horrible, that you talk like you want men to believe you're stupid, or that you don't realize how much your lack of boundaries is making men dismiss you. These are the kinds of things that actually turn men off, in the same way that low self-esteem and low intelligence are the kinds of things that actually turn women off (not coincidentally, these are common problems among meatheads).

The women who ask this question are always asking "why don't I get any attention from the men I want?" Their question is never "why do I get tons of sexual attention from men, but none stick around?" (some do ask this question, but they never then go on to blame it on their degree or job). If a woman were asking the latter question, I still wouldn't jump to the immediate conclusion that her degree or salary was the problem; I would look first to her personality. But if a girl isn't even getting sexual attention from the guys she is concerned about intimidating, I guarantee her hypothesis about her threatening intelligence is wrong. Why? Because there is a remote possibility that men will be intimidated or turned off by a woman's brains or job when they are considering her as a girlfriend or spouse, but there is no possibility that it will prevent at least some guys from trying to get in her pants. None whatsoever. Men go for the girls they are physically attracted to, then choose from those the ones they are personally attracted to. Only after that do they take into account things like brains and (much later) salary or professional success. You can't blame academic or financial intimidation on your inability to get a boyfriend or husband if you aren't at least getting sexual attention from the men you want; it'd be like blaming the power outage in your house on a government conspiracy or that neighbor you hate... during a raging thunder and lightening storm.

No, in all likelihood, your academic degree or high-paid position isn't the fundamental problem; but it is an very convenient scapegoat - and an ego-boosting one at that. It is a hell of a lot easier and more satisfying to blame big muscles or advanced degrees for your lack of success with the opposite sex than it is to find out (or admit) what's really wrong. And for women, what is really wrong almost always has something to do with your looks or personality, which, thankfully, are both very much controllable.


Related Posts
1. Men Don't Care About Your Accomplishments
2. The Importance of Personal Boundaries
3. Human Energy is Conserved
4. Are You Repressing Your Femininity?
5. What Men Think About Your Intelligence

Monday, November 10, 2014

Be Patient

Blogs that give dating and relationship advice can be hugely motivational. When you read them, you can feel like you've uncovered some huge secret, and that everything in your life is immediately going to change for the better. The e-mails I get from readers confirm this. I've had the same feeling myself many times in the process of reading about how to improve my workouts or to improve my success with women.

In spite of being a little naive, this feeling isn't a bad one. In fact, it is often a great one in the sense that it usually results in the kind of enthusiasm that propels you a long way towards success. But a few months later, when reality sets in, and you start to realize that what you read didn't completely revolutionize your results with men -  that that you are still single, or that you still haven't been asked out - it can be easy to lose steam.

Putting advice into practice is never as smooth and easy as experiencing the initial "wow" factor when receiving or reading it. That one post you read about personal boundaries might have completely changed the way you think about behaving towards the men you date, but following through under the sway of a man's attractiveness proved far more difficult than you expected. Another post affirmed your emotional intelligence and gave you all kinds of confidence in yourself, but the practical applications were difficult to find. And although you agree with that post that claimed you can control your looks to a very large extent, there just isn't enough time in the day to worry about everything you'd need to in order to look your best. Ideas are perfect; reality is anything but.

However, after you go through a few (maybe even several) of those initial "wow" moments, only to find yourself disappointed by your progress, you start to realize something: you really have changed. You really have improved. The progress is much rougher and more halting than you expected, and certainly far slower than you hoped. But when you look in the mirror a couple years after you started, you really do see a different person - one who has changed for the better.

Ideas work on the mind in subtle but powerful ways, such that their effects are often unrecognizable for a long time after their seeds are planted, or even after those seeds have taken root. The efforts you make might seem to have next to no impact at first, but they do slowly and inevitably accumulate. Eventually, if you work hard and thoughtfully, you will see real changes. They might not be what you dreamed of at first, but you wouldn't appreciate them if they'd come easily. And what you find is that, although the improvements are far smaller than you expected, they are also much more satisfying than you expected - you don't need to improve as much as you think you do to be happy.

Eventually you learn to temper your expectations so that they don't get out of control each time you digest a new idea or learn a new lesson. This also serves to rein in your disappointment when you find yourself feeling like you've made no progress since a few months ago, when you were sure that you finally figured out what was wrong. Experience teaches us that each new effort made and new truth learned is not some panacea that will change our world overnight, but rather a small (yet important) piece of a very large puzzle – one that we will continue to work on for a long time, perhaps for the rest of our lives. This recognition is a sign of maturity, and the first step toward real, concrete progress.


Related Posts
1. Self-Improvement Takes Time
2. Do You Really Want Dating to Be Easier?
3. You Are Responsible for Your Own Romantic Happiness

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"I'm Not Like Other Girls"

Dating and relationships are rife with cliche lines and expressions. People hear them in movies or on television, and then rehash them because they seem like the appropriate thing to say when the narrative of their relationship starts to vaguely resemble the script of their favorite romantic comedy. You know what I am talking about - things like "Let's just be friends," "I had a really great time tonight," "It's not you it's me," etc. But one of the most overused lines comes up when a man makes a sexual advance with a girl he just started seeing. Every guy knows the line I am talking about here:
"I can't do that... I'm... I'm not like other girls."
If girls had any idea how often guys hear that line, they'd cringe at the mere thought of using it. I cringe every time I hear it, just because I've heard it so many times before, and hate cliches. But most girls probably didn't realize how common it is, because it is always said in private, out of earshot of other girls. Now you know.

Of course, the irony is that, in the very act of saying she is different, the girl saying so is being exactly the opposite of different. Perhaps the greater irony still is that, from a guy's perspective, her saying so is actually a pretty good sign that she is about to say yes to sex. Some guys realize this more than others, but the ones that do know that the girls who really are different (in the sense that they don't have sex very quickly) don't feel the need to verbalize that fact in order to convince anyone.

Now, if you are a normal American girl, you've probably said this yourself at some point. And that's OK. I've said just as stupid and equally cliche shit to girls before. Most guys have, so I'm not pointing fingers. And actually, I'm not even accusing you of being like every other girl. For that matter, I'm not even saying that you shouldn't be like every other girl when it comes to sex. I am just pointing out that, if what you say is true, then you don't need to say it; and you actually undermine your credibility in the very act of doing so.

So if you really want to prove to a guy that you are different from other girls, just be different from other girls, and leave it at that.


Related Posts

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fat Women Look Hotter in Tight Clothes

I hear the following conversation regularly:
Guy 1: “Man, check out that girl in the yoga pants [or any tight article of clothing] over there.”
Guy 2: “Damn, she is hot. I love when girls wear yoga pants.”
Guy 1: “Yeah, me too… except fat girls, that is just disgusting.”
Guy 2: “Haha well yeah, not fat girls. That is just gross. They shouldn't be allowed to wear stuff like that.”
This line of thinking always bothers me. The implication is that, while tight clothes make fit women look more attractive, they make fat women look less attractive, and should therefore be avoided by any woman that is overweight. But this simply isn't true. Fat women, though unattractive, still look more attractive in tight clothes than they do in loose ones.

I know a lot of readers will initially disagree – men included. There was a time when I disagreed myself. In fact, I used to participate in the very kinds of conversation I am criticizing. But eventually I started paying attention to fat women rather than just dismissing them, and in doing so I realized that what we were saying wasn't true at all. What happened was that, on a few occasions when out with female friends or acquaintances, they started criticizing heavy-set girls for wearing tight clothes. They said things like “She shouldn't be wearing that, look at her stomach!” or "That girl needs to go home and lose 20 lbs before getting in a swimsuit like that!" But when I looked at the same girls they were criticizing, I found myself attracted to them, precisely because of their tight clothes. I had enough imagination to recognize that the very same girls in loose clothes would do absolutely nothing for me; but in a tight dress or yoga pants, I was checking them out.

Look, here is the thing: the female figure has evolved to be attractive to men, and it shines most when its natural curves can be seen. This holds true even when those natural curves are covered in fat; which makes sense, because (except in severe cases of obesity), the woman's proportions still exist. Loose clothes only serve to mask a woman’s figure. When a fat woman wears loose clothes, it makes her look like a mass of floating fabric. You not only still know that she is fat, but you also forget that she is a woman. True, a tight dress might show that a woman has a gut, but loose clothes don't hide it - they just hide her femininity.

Granted, there is probably a way in which an overweight woman can choose clothes very carefully in order to play down her weight while playing up her curves; but these clothes won't necessarily be loose. Anyway it is somewhat beside the point, which is that, on the whole, tight clothes still make fat women hotter, even if they don’t make fat women hot. You might be able to argue that fat women gain less attractiveness than fit women by wearing tight clothes - great, no problem; I am just saying that they don't lose it.

It's been too long since I illustrated anything on here, so let's do so with a plot:


If you still aren't convinced, it might be worth pointing out that the mistake I am accusing people of making is actually a very common one in human reasoning. It’s easy to think that something is a certain way (i.e. unattractive) because of something rather than in spite of something. In other words, it is very easy to believe that a fat woman is unattractive because of her tight clothes, when the reality is that she is unattractive in spite of the tight clothes. The tight clothes make a woman's BMI a little more evident, so people are more prone to make this logical leap; but that doesn't mean they are right in doing so.

Conversations like the one above happen because men like to indulge in the idea that fat women are unattractive. It makes them feel better about their own sexual attractiveness to look down on someone else’s. If they have to slip through a logical loophole in order to do so, they aren't going to lose sleep over it. And the girls who mock fat girls for wearing tight clothes usually just aren't secure enough with their own bodies to wear something that tight. They aren't mad at what you are wearing, they are mad because it reminds them of their own insecurities. Of course, it is easier to mock the fat-but-confident girl than it is to face up to your own body issues, so that is exactly what they do.

Anyway, fat and overweight ladies: don’t be shy about wearing tight stuff to the gym, bikinis on the beach or tight dresses to the club. You can ignore the guys and girls that claim you should cover up, because their complaints say a lot more about their self-confidence (or lack thereof) than anything about how you look in spandex. And yoga pants might not make you look like a supermodel, or even thin, but they still turn guys on more than your baggy jeans.


Related Posts

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