Saturday, December 24, 2011

Self-Improvement Takes Time

I've been getting a lot of e-mails from girls asking for urgent advice about how to act around a particular guy, or how to interpret his behavior. Others express concern about the difficulty inherent in striking a balance between extremes (for example, between "hard to get" and needy, or prudish and slutty). And while I do usually have suggestions relevant to the specific situation, more often than not these kinds of questions are an indication that the girl is missing the big picture - that she is splitting hairs, and placing too much importance on one particular thing, when the truth is that no single thing matters completely.

If you find yourself worried about the wording of a particular text, or fretting over which earrings to wear, or generally wondering how you should behave towards a particular guy in a particular situation, take a big step back and realize two things:

1. If he is really into you, you will have to make significant mistakes to make him change his mind. While there are always ways to make him like you more, your baseline should be to simply continue doing what you are doing and making gradual improvements. By "significant mistakes" I mean things like revealing that you are actually addicted to coke or gaining 30 pounds.

2. If he isn't that into you, no single small change you make is really going to attract him. A new set of clothes or "hard to get" attitude will not make the difference. You will need to revolutionize yourself to really hook him, and it is impossible to do this overnight. Instead, admit that he is a lost cause, and spend the energy that you would have spent on him on improving your appearance and personality. Then, by the next time a guy of that caliber comes along, hopefully you will have improved enough to make him stick around.

I am not saying that little things don't matter - they do; collectively, they matter a lot. But no single one will make or break a guy's attraction to you, and improvements to each one take time to implement and become natural to you. You need to be patient. But if you continue to make a steady effort, there is no question that the quality of guys you attract will improve.


  1. Thank you again for being so patient and helpful. I need to be patient with myself as well and keep at it, and remind myself about the big picture. When emotions get stirred up in specific situations though, they tend to shout louder than reason (which I try very hard to listen to despite the din). One foot in front of the other as I keep moving towards the new and improved me....

    Merry Christmas to you Andrew!


  2. You should do a post about social media: facebook, twitter. For me, I can not give them up all together career wise so I am looking for a balance. Also I have people on there who I have previously dated, should I delete them? What if they are in the same field aka might be helpful later.

  3. Hey, I have a question regarding self-improvement. I've been struggling a bit lately, I've been depressed, my relationship with my father has gone difficult, I'm reconsidering some of the education choices I've made etc. and I'm planning to see a therapist for some time. What is a guy's reaction to that? Do you consider it a positive thing, thinking someone is looking to improve themselves or do you think "she must be a bit of a nutcase"? Is it something, if it persists, that I should preferably not share?

  4. You have probably come across people who think of therapy as "a bunch of bullshit," and others who think it is a legitimate means of dealing with your problems. Men of the former opinion WILL look at this as a negative thing, while men of the latter opinion will think of it as more of a neutral thing, though perhaps slightly negative (even if you are doing something about it, which is good, you still have the issues to begin with, which isn't ideal).

    I would be honest about it with guys you meet. I wouldn't tell them right away just because they will think "why is she telling me this, I barely know her?" After a few dates you could mention it casually.

    Ideally though, I think your best bet is to deal with those issues in your life (through therapy or other means), and look forward to a time when you won't have them as a better time for meeting men.

    I am not suggesting this makes you "unmarketable" by any means, I am just saying it sounds like you have too much on your plate to date right now anyway, and men will prefer meeting you when your plate is clear.

    1. I am going to suggest that it is probably not a good idea to volunteer highly personal information about yourself until deeply entrenched in a relationship.

      You do not need to volunteer in the early stages that you are seeing a therapist, plastic surgeon, trainer, or a witch doctor, for that matter.

      I have been in therapy for a well managed mild form of mental illness for over a decade. I keep it to myself because I'm generally well accepted, but also because I don't want people to think that they have to burden themselves while I "work it out" with them. I am a big girl, and it is my problem.

      Give it time.

  5. The problem for most women is to know for sure when you've reach point 1 (he is really into you). He may say it, want to see you, prioritize you ++. But who knows deep down... A post on it would be great.

    1. If only there were A SINGLE way to get a guy into situation #1...

      Fact is, there isn't a way to do this. There are MANY ways, and I have a lot of posts about them - read this blog all the way through and you will know how to get a guy into situation #1.

    2. The question is not HOW to reach that point but how to KNOW when you've actually reached it.

      For me it's always been something intangible, a gut feeling that the guy was in love with me to the point that I had no doubt in my mind about it. But maybe he had reached the point earlier and I hadn't realized it.

  6. I'm dating a guy I am very certain is into me. He's been giving all the signals of constant calling and texting, told me how much he likes me, wants to see me all the time.
    As we're not certain where we stand, I feel like we're approaching that point where it needs to cleared up. Last time we met things were a bit weird..I don't know why, but sometimes he's a bit 'too much' in the way he flirts and teases me, and I can't really connect. I don't know if it's nervousness on his part, or if our chemistry is a bit off.
    That was Saturday and we haven't spoken since. I spotted him one day with a friend as he lives nearby (I didn't go to say hi, I looked a mess), I have no reason to believe he's seeing anyone else.
    Usually it's never more than 48 hours without me hearing from him. I haven't made an "significant mistake" to turn him off. Should I just wait?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Thanks for your blog !
    Do you consider that call him a little (so) tipsy, for talk too much "sweet" with him (I wanna kiss you, "lindo", "enjoy your concert" (pianist), it's a wrong think ? No es cierto ? We are dating sin only a month (and I never call him).
    :( I hate alcohol

  8. I want to ask you a question, Andrew. Why do men say they like soft and feminine women but are ignited sexually by women who are outspoken and seem strong-minded? Is the ideal woman a balance between the two. I always get hit on more when I seem aloof and opinionated than if I'm accommodating and 'nice'.

    1. I think you misunderstand femininity. Feminine is not the opposite of outspoken and strong-minded. I am not surprised if men don't like you if you are timid, shy and boring - but this is not feminine. Feminine is open, affectionate, caring, incorrigibly pleasant, receptive, understanding, etc. These are mostly PASSIVE qualities. Men on the other hand are ACTIVE. It is true that being outspoken is masculine, and in some sense so is being strong-minded. But I doubt that it is BECAUSE you are being these things that men hit on you more. Men are more attracted by the energy that comes with your outspokenness, and not the outspokenness itself. They are attracted by your confidence, not your strong-mindedness (though they normally go hand in hand).

      So think a little more about what men are drawn to you by, and revisit your ideas about femininity. Sexuality is a deep-rooted aspect of a person, and women are all passive sexually by nature. They literally RECEIVE a man physically, they take him in, they accept him. A man is driven, active: his main function is his PRESENCE. He penetrates a woman, emotionally and physically. So when you think about masculine and feminine qualities, remember them in these terms: a man is active and a woman is passive.

    2. Thanks for clarify this, Andrew. That really helped. I was brought up with traditional ideas of masculine and feminine - models which I want to reject. I'm always being told not to have opinions, to not be sexual, find myself a man etc. It's kind of jarring but what you said helps balance that out. I used to be timid and shy but no any more. I've realised now that "shy" is another word for "scared". I think it's very easy for people to label themselves and get stuck. I come across some shy guys online and they sell themselves on being shy. I think there's more to them than that but I can't find them appealing if they put all their worth into that. Even though I have social anxiety, I've made a lot of progress because I don't treat it as all defining. Problems can be magnified but they only represent one moment in time. Think it's important to know that in dating, don't you think?

    3. A friend of mine once said that men are attracted to "movement." They want to do two things to something that "moves" in the bush: "shoot it or screw it." So think about that, Anonymous. Both acts are hit-and-run. And fun, by the way. But they don't require staying power. You shoot, you eat it. You're done. You screw it, you leave it. You're done. It's OK to put out that bait to attract a man, sincerely telling him what you think; just don't get lost in your own argument.

      I like the remark that they're attracted to "the energy that comes with your outspokenness, not the outspokenness itself." It's a hard lesson. Because what if I really have to say something here? What if my values demand that I stand for a principle?

      My own answer to that is twofold:

      (1) I can stand for a principle by using my feminine gifts of going "light" with it. My friend calls this "speaking into the microphone." Men hear lightness from women. They are attracted to, and stick to, kindness. Everything else -- take out the garbage, listen to my feelings, we have to talk about this relationship, etc. -- they tune out. Speak on that happy "radio station." (And you just might lighten up yourself instead of ruining your own day.) I have a canned remark that I use all the time, on myself as well as on a guy who's "on it" about something: "Don't sleep in the subway, darling." (See Petula Clark on YouTube.)

      (2) I can stand for a principle -- a specific issue -- by leaving behind any guy who does that little experiment on me to test my idiotic submissiveness: No, I DON'T think it's OK to talk violently about women and children, advocate carrying guns to the supermarket, and generally invade every country west of Saudi Arabia to prove your freakin' manhood, dude. I'm outta here. Why am I interested in such a moron in the first place? He should go cruise a different neighborhood, where women think that macho thing where he slams them against a wall is sexy. Not me. In short, I have feminine values -- which are what a man is supposed to be out there with guns protecting in the first place, remember? I don't have to picket in front of a guy's house with signs, kick him to the curb to make a feminist point, and so on, but I'm not going to get picked on, either. I deserve better. The "receptive" way to handle this is to leave. Or let him leave. Ride off into the sunset, cowboy! Go harass "the new schoolmarm."

      Just to be annoyingly outspoken, of course! LOL.

      But seriously, girls, don't castrate an asshole or try to reform him. Not worth your time. Just leave. If you're running into this problem repeatedly, you need to seek higher quality men in a higher quality place.

    4. If you can, girls, get a copy of a book called "Carry On, Warrior," by Glennon Doyle Melton. She's amazing. And she's done it all wrong. It's a book about doing your life WRONG and still liking your life and loving your husband.

      There's a chapter called "Birthdays" where she writes beautifully about being a total bitch about wanting certain kinds of attention on her birthday and demanding it from her husband. He goes along with it, believe it or not. She demands -- playfully -- that he show up with a pad an paper to take notes on her "birthday dinner," which she has recast into a "love seminar" about how to do what exactly she wants, and when. She asks for a do-over the next day, in which he is going to do it all right according to her. A new birthday.

      And he does it!

      Because she did that "energy" of outspokenness thing. The energy was positive. She told him exactly what she wanted him to do, on that "radio station" of high feminine energy. I think any guy would want to be tuned into that 24/7. He'd be walking around with a glazed smile on his face all day, just to be a part of that. People at work were probably wondering what he was up to -- getting blow jobs under the desk by a Playboy bunny, or what? His answer -- that he was living with a total spoiled bitch and four screaming children -- would have had them calling the guys in the white suits to take him away.

      Guys are just kind of nuts that way. You'd be nuts not to take advantage of it.

    5. So shy girls are boring? The guy can't have two moments of patience to give it a chance? Really? Wow.

  9. Andrew, here's a question,

    How do you get a man to put effort into his appearance. I am dating a man who has quite a lot of potential but he just doesn't seem bothered with improving himself..his weight, fitness, style. I send a lot of time making sure that I look my best and it angers me that he won't try. I don't want to come across as shallow by wanting to change these things about him but I can't help how I feel. Is there any way I can tactfully get through to him or is it a lost cause?

    1. Sex. Men respond to sex.

      Have him look better some day, using whatever excuse. take him to a social gathering were you know people will react to him looking better than usual. Make sure he notice how glad and turned on you get when people start to give him praise.

      Than give him amazing sex, stressing that you love it when he looks so good and gets higher social standing.

      Adjust for quality, so you can up the reward when he ups the effort.

      If that doesn't work, it's because he is using porn. Porn just screws everything up. Before porn, you would not be able to see so many naked girls without social status.

  10. I like your advice on #2. That is exactly my frame of mind....going to improve myself my continuing to work out more, lose the weight and get in shape, get some new style to make me feel great about me and I am trying really hard not to go to the same place I go to to hang out....have found most of the people there are really fake and most the guys are not anyone I would want to connect with. Most are just my friends and we karaoke together but lately I have learned more than I want to about some of them and realize they are not in my league at all. So now I need to just concentrate on getting fit, working, spending time with my family, traveling, etc.

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  15. Hey, Andrew, I LOVE your blog. You are a rare and warm human being.

    Perhaps off-topic for this particular post, but I'd like to share that I turned a corner today in a conversation with my current love interest. Who knows how it's going to turn out? He leads the dance, not me. But I'm OK with it, especially with your reassuring words here. I'll stop nitpicking my own behavior and just keep questioning, investigating -- being present with that other human being and trying to see things "his way."

    I'm almost 50, by the way.

    Part of my conversation with my amazing, complex, sexy, screwed-up and fascinating man today concerned his behavior on certain blogs when we worked together raising awareness of a certain scientific fraud about 6 years ago. (I've known him, off and on, for a long time.) I had kind of slapped him around about it back then, telling him that he was, yes, "below his league" with these idiots, wasting too much time when he could be using his gifts more effectively. OK, I was brutally direct. And I didn't care. I still don't care. He's better than that.

    Then he said to me, today, "I've realized that it's a waste of time to deal with such people."

    No shit, Sherlock.

    I remembered something about letting a man take credit for things. So I let him get away with that. Kind of. I started laughing and said something like, "That's amazing. I'm going to take that advice from now on."

    And then I said, "Do you know why I'm laughing?"

    And he said, "Yes." And moved on. It was cute.

    The "Rules" books would have scolded me for my sarcasm. So sue me. . . .

    All the "Rules" books would have probably told me not to treat it as the joke it was, and really get into my role of being humble and submissive and receptive. But in the spirit of respect for both of us, I did something slightly different. After all, you did say that highly intelligent men are attracted to intelligent women, and intelligent women don't go under the bus. (In this case, I don't even have to worry about being TOO intelligent for him; he's a noted scientist. Resolution Number One for me is to stop settling for less in the intelligence department.)

    I'd been reading this site last night. I "got" your tone of respect and logic. That was enough. If the specific thing I did today didn't work perfectly, I'll live with that. I just feel good about it. When you talk about "self-improvement," you're not just talking about getting a new hairstyle or learning some techniques. Self-improvement is really becoming a better person, more understanding, and using those feminist gifts of what I call "being able to see around corners" more effectively for the good of humanity. It really is the woman's job to do this, and to forgive men for being clumsy at it. They know it, just don't rub their noses in it like disobedient puppies.

    Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

    P.S. Please remove the above "spam" messages. Geez, can it be more obvious that they come from China?

    1. Oops, I meant "feminine gifts," not "feminist gifts." LOL! Though perhaps these skills should be included in what we call feminism, huh? Feminism is taking charge of your own life and responsibility for what you do, how you treat others, as a woman. Whiners need not apply.

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  18. "If he is really into you, you will have to make significant mistakes to make him change his mind."
    This is true, but are those 'mistakes' obvious? Let's say you're in this situation, and sure of it (he's asked you out, nervous around you, talks about you to friends, have introduced you to friends etc.) - he was definitely deep in it, but have suddenly stopped talking to you. Everything is (seemingly) the same (no change in appearance or anything). What should I assume? Has it ever happened that someone else have said something about a girl which has made you change your mind? If so, wouldn't you confront her rather than stop talking to her? Or are men different in this manner?

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  21. You have to ask yourself why you're into someone who doesn't like who you are.. Sure strive to be a better version of yourself, but the essence of who you are can't be changed.
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    If they're not impressed by you being you then navigate new waters and save yourself the heartache

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  28. Not sure if you're actively managing this blog anymore or if you read the comments but I wanted to thank you as a long time reader for publishing this blog and demystifying the male mind for me. I found it when I was 19 and tried my best to implement the key ideas you have in here all the way (imperfectly I must add but I tried) all the way until I was 28 and met my now husband. At the time, I didn't understand why some girls just attracted men like moths to a flame and I was really struggling with this. But I realized how much of this is visual, hair and fitness make a massive difference. Like this blog post states, it took alot of time and sometimes I got tired and deviated from the plan. I had phases where I gained weight and it took forever to lose and worked too much and didn't care about my hairstyling at all. But slow and steady won the race and I got my guy. Understanding male psychology was a game changer versus my friends who would be in the same crazy cycle with the same guy 6 months apart. I always blocked them bc I knew "maybe" meant "no" and focused on myself and constant improvement whenever I could. Thanks for writing this blog - it was truly a gamechanger.

    1. Also I was around 19 when you posted this!