One of the Christmas-y movies I’ve been watching this season is “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.” Matthew McConaughey’s character in it is a lady’s man, or pickup artist, who must have hundreds of little black books filled with his conquests. True to a good rom-com, especially one taking cues from A Christmas Carol, he sees the error of his ways by the end of the movie and gets with the woman he’s actually in love with. I must admit, partially I like it because he reminds me of some guys I’ve known. Watching his uncle teach him the art of “picking up dames” reminds me of reading Neil Strauss’ The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. The best thing about this movie is that it illustrates that if you really want to fall in love, most of that pickup artists crap will not work for you.
The theory out there that good guys can’t get the girl drives me crazy. I think it is entirely untrue that women are naturally drawn to jerks. What we want is a strong, confident man who will make the effort to pursue. The primary reason pickup artist are successful is because they’ve learned how to manipulate women into thinking they’re stronger, more confident and more interesting than they really are. While they’re successful at one night stands, they’re hardly good for anything else. They aren’t as appealing as media can make them out to be (their strike out rate is very high). Even the woman who ends up with McConaughey’s character in the movie is entirely unimpressed by the persona that he’s put on. The only way he can be with her is by actually being himself. As well as by seeing her as a person, instead of a conquest.
There are some things that good guys can learn from pickup artist. Mostly it boils down to this: Try! What you’ll learn about women is that were pretty receptive to a sincere pursuit. Since I’m tired of hearing good men complain that women’s standards are too high, or that they have no chance because we’re inexplicably drawn to a man they don’t want to be, I’ve decided to come up with A Good Guy’s Guide to Get the Girl.
1. Become Intentional About Meeting Women – This is something that pickup artists are right about, the only way you have a chance to find someone to date is if you meet women you could date. This means getting comfortable approaching women you don’t know. Striking up a conversation with a woman in a coffee shop or bookstore, getting to know the women in your church or small group, talking to a female friend-of-a-friend at a holiday Christmas party. Or joining an online dating site. This is true for women too. If we want to date, we have to become better about meeting new people. My friend Carrie has always recommended finding environments with like minded people. When she lived in Dallas, she got very involved in the art scene to meet women there. I’m finding that I have more options when I leave myself open for lightening to strike where ever I go, meaning being comfortable chatting up strangers anywhere I am. We’re all different. But, you won’t find women to date if you don’t stretch your comfort zone a little.
2. Break the Ice – I know, starting a conversation with a stranger can seem hard or awkward. Usually, it isn’t actually as intimidating as you think it’ll be.(I say this as someone who used to find it very intimidating and now does it with ease). All you have to do is find an opening. It’s best to take a cue from your environment. You could ask her a relevant non-personal question (do you know where…is?). Say a witty comment that’ll provoke a response (but isn’t offensive). Make an observation about her that could spark a good dialogue (You’re reading Atlas Shrugged. I read that in high school, what do you think of it?). Etc. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. The best rule of thumb is not to be disingenuous. Be yourself. But bring you’re A game. Unless it suits the circumstance, avoid asking super personal questions too quickly. For example, Where do you live? Is an especially creepy question to ask too quickly.
3. Carry Yourself with Confidence – As Uncle Wayne in the movie says, “Cool comes from the inside.” While we, women, are also suckers for a pretty face, we’ll give a homely guy a chance if he carries himself with confidence. Being cool doesn’t necessarily mean being cocky. It means having the courage to strike up a flirtatious conversation with us and conveying that you’re at ease both with us and yourself.
How do you convey ease? For starters, by not awkwardly seeking validation or trying too hard to impress. Pushing yourself like a used car salesman trying to get rid of a lemon isn’t attractive (I’ve got a guy doing this right now and let me tell you, no amount of persistence is going to wear me down though he is wearing out my patience). Instead of peddling your pros, let your personality come through in the conversation. Let your attraction be both a little obvious and tempered (it’s cute when we can see in your eyes how much you like us, it’s not cute when they convey ‘I’m so in awe of you I can’t consecrate on a single word coming out of your mouth. Marry me, now!’).
4. Good Grooming & Good Style are Winning – You don’t have to be an Abercrombie & Fitch model or look like you stepped out of GQ to get a girlfriend. While I personally go for more of the metro male, most women are just looking for a guy who takes good care of his teeth, showers regularly, matches most of the time and wears clothes that fit (too big or too small is not so hot). I’d say that’s a pretty achievable standard. If you’re really having trouble dating, I highly recommend asking one of your female friends to be your personal shopper and help you put together a good wardrobe. If there is no such woman in your life, I’m happy to offer my services. I’ll gladly send you a personalized guide if you contact me (I’m not joking either).
5. Get To Know Her Before Asking Her Out – I’ll confess, this one might be more of a personal rule. A guy doesn’t stand a chance with me unless he takes the time to get to know me a little bit (and gives me a chance to sense him out). We could just have one good, long conversation, or multiple little conversations but simply coming up to me, talking to me for a minute or two and then asking me out on a date or for my number is a sure fire way to get an automatic rejection. Even if you’re really good looking. I’ll be flattered you think I’m attractive, as long as you aren’t too creepy, I’ll nicely and humorously let you down. I don’t give out my personal contact information to strangers. I also don’t go out with people unless I know we can hold a comfortable conversation and that I’m at least somewhat interested too. I don’t think I’m alone in this. #MyFriendsAre Married is right there with me. There is a reason that online dating profiles consists of more than photographs. Women like knowing a little bit about who you are before we grab a cup of coffee with you and would like you to be interested in more than just what we look like.
6. Ask Her For Her Contact Information and Ask Her Out! – If you don’t make a move, you don’t stand a chance. Yes, in this day and age women can make the first move. Most of us prefer it when you make that move. In my experience, if a guy doesn’t get up the courage to ask for my number or other contact info it means one of two things: he’s not that into me or he lacks confidence/follow through. In other words, it’s not worth my effort. When you have the courage to make the first move it conveys that you’re probably going to be worth her time and emotional investment. (We tend to emotionally invest a lot in a even a first date, it’s part of why we can be so picky).
If you’re interested in dating her, ask her out soon after you get her contact information. Text, facebook message and instant messenge are all now acceptable ways to ask a girl out. Sometimes, they’re better than calling or asking her face to face. Then, if she happens to reject you, it’s much less awkward for both parties. If you are really obviously vibing and she’s already giving you physical indicators of interest (touching your arm, leaning in towards you, etc), feel free to be brave and ask her out then. If you wait too long to ask her out you run the risk of putting yourself in the friend zone or irritating her. The date doesn’t need to be fancy but it should be a neutral location. Don’t invite yourself over, or invite her over for a first date. That’s uncomfortable and forcing an intimacy that doesn’t yet exist.
7. Accept the Risk of Rejection – I know, it sucks to be rejected. I’ve had my fair share of rejections and it always stings a little. You get over it. The sooner you let it happen, the sooner you’ll recover. Harboring feelings for someone for months or years before asking her out then finally getting rejected, when you’re incredibly emotionally involved, will be much more painful than getting rejected after two or three conversations or a month or two of dating.
While it’s normal to wonder what you did wrong, and in some cases this is a legitimate question to ask, you should also remember that chemistry and compatibility aren’t entirely controllable. No matter how interesting, well dressed and wonderful you are, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll really click with someone. Or that you’ll work out long term. Some connections, though genuine, don’t really translate well to romance or a long term relationship. Even if you’re both physically attracted to each other. It’s sucks when you feel it works and they don’t but you don’t want a person who doesn’t return your feelings.
Don’t let the potential of rejection get in the way of taking a risk.
8. Be a Student of Relationships – Let your past relationships teach you about the quality of people that you click with. You can learn both from your romantic relationships and non-romantic relationships. Like, while I never was attracted to my friend Ben, he has qualities that I know are a good compliment to me. I’m finding myself more attracted to guys that have those qualities. I don’t recommend having a checklist of requirements, that’s always struck me as a little childish and impractical. It’s more about honing your senses so you’ll better know who is worth going out with and who isn’t.