November 01, 2014 / Always Maintain Forward Progress
In dating, there is no such thing as retreat; just surrender.
You’ve probably heard the term "strategic retreat" before, but you may not have realized it’s something of an oxymoron. The goal of any retreat is to withdraw, regroup, and live to attack another day. Running off wildly with your dick tucked in between your legs isn’t a retreat; it’s a surrender.
In sports, retreating in one form or another is a common move, and often a smart one. A football team punts the ball on 4th-and-long. A basketball forward passes the ball back to the guards instead of taking a contested shot. All of these moves can be considered retreating, and can often lead to setting up a better attack later on.
In a lot of situations like warfare, sports, the retreat can be a very intelligent maneuver. But there’s one situation where retreating is almost always a mistake, and that’s dating.
There Is No Retreat, There is Only Surrender
I raise this point because I think it’s relevant to a recent email we received from a reader earlier this week.
"I went out to a bar with my friends, I saw a cute girl and I approached her. We hit it off and had a great time. I got her number, and towards the end of the night we were making out on the dance floor. Her friends were going to another bar and she invited me to go with them, but my friend drove so I wouldn’t be able to get home if I went.
"I texted her a couple days later and asked her out to dinner. We had a great date, I thought about asking if she wanted to come to my place after dinner, but during the date she told me she had just gotten out of a long relationship and wanted to ‘take things slow,’ so I didn’t think it would be well-received. At the end of the night we kissed good night. For the rest of the week we were basically texting constantly.
"That weekend there was this cool band playing at a bar near my place, so I asked her if she wanted to go. She initially said yes, then said the day before she couldn’t make it. I asked if she was free any other time that weekend, she said she could meet me for lunch on Sunday.
"Lunch was good, but I noticed some sort of distance, and she wasn’t that talkative. We had been texting pretty much constantly that week, but after that lunch she barely texted me back, and then finally she told me she’s not ready for a relationship now.
"It really seemed like she was into me and I can’t really figure out what I did wrong. Is there any way I can get her interested in me again?"
Some of you may be face-palming yourselves right now, but others may not be sure what went wrong. This isn’t our first e-mail like like this (and that being said, don’t ever hesitate to e-mail Josh or e-mail me because we’re happy to answer any questions), so some of you may even be thinking, "hey, that sounds similar to a situation I had!" So let’s break down what our reader did wrong, and how he failed to maintain forward progress through his interactions with this girl.
Mistake #1: Don’t Let Logistics Prevent You From Advancing
First, props to our reader for going out, approaching, building attraction, and escalating. This is exactly the kind of forward progress you should be making when you’re out with friends and looking to talk to women.
But our reader’s mistake was stopping that forward progress when she gave him an open invitation to do so. She invited him to continue the night, but he declined because he needed a ride home from his friend. This was a mistake. If you can advance — if the girl is giving you an a definite indication she wants to move forward — then you should do everything you can to mitigate any logistical limitations. It’s a mistake to think, this girl seems pretty into me, I’m sure I’ll see her again.
That may be true, but when you see her again, will she have the same level of attraction? Maybe not. Don’t use logistics as an excuse not to keep moving forward, especially when the girl wants you to move forward! Assuming our reader was in the same city he lived, it should have been an option to take a cab home or call for an Uber.
Mistake #2: Always Escalate At Least As Far As You Did Before
When our reader first met the girl, they spent a lot of time making out on the dance floor. On the second date, he kissed her good night. On the third date, nothing happened (or so I presume).
See a pattern here?
I used to make this mistake constantly. I’d meet a new girl, bring her back to my place, and escalate physically. The next time I saw her, she’d suggest going out in her neighborhood and so I’d meet her there. After the date I wouldn’t want to impose on her, so unless she’d explicitly invite me back to her place, I’d just drop her off at the end of the date and figure I’d see her again. Sometimes I would, but often the next time I talked to her she’d give me the "you’re a nice guy, but…" talk, or she’d just flat out go cold on me.
So it’s a mistake to think, "Well, it’s pretty awkward to escalate right now. When I see her again I’ll make sure to escalate again." Remember, there is no strategic retreat in dating. There is no, "punt the ball on 4th-and-long, and get it back with better field position." Failure to at least maintain your previous advance is surrender, and you don’t want to surrender.
If you can help it, set up similar logistics that allowed you to escalate with her the first time. And if you can’t, then at least make the attempt. Let her prevent your forward progress. You don’t need to make assumptions and do it for her, especially if she may want you to move forward!
Mistake #3: Don’t Go From Evening Dates to Day Dates
As Josh indicated in previous articles, day game is hard, and his suggested time for a date is 8pm. All these principles apply here: once you’ve seen this girl at any point in the evening, then you should never need to make plans for a day date. Again, you may think a day date is a simple strategic retreat. She’s really busy this week. It’s better that I see her on Sunday for brunch than not see her at all this weekend. I can make plans with her next Friday night. Once again, this line of thinking is flawed. You aren’t retreating to make forward progress later, you are just surrendering your field position and getting nothing in return.
If you’ve already met in the evening, day dates now force you to build romantic and sexual attraction in a completely new context. She may have thought you were handsome and charming at the bar when you were both enjoying a few drinks, but is she going to feel the same way when you’re awkwardly spooning frozen yogurt in broad daylight?
I’m not saying day dates are a bad idea, I just like to reserve them for girls I’ve been seeing for awhile. Once you’ve been out several times and you’re regularly having sex, you can go on all the brunches, froyo runs and hiking trips you want. Until then, stick to the nightlife when you go out.
A Forced Advance Can Be Worse Than a Retreat
Let me make this clear if isn’t already: the core principle here is never go backwards.
That’s not the same as "always go forward." There’s a reason the word "maintain" is in the title of this article. You want to go at least as far as you went before. That’s it. You won’t always be able to advance, you just want to avoid going backwards. And you especially avoid want to going backwards and deluding yourself it’s a retreat, when hopefully I’ve made it apparent that it’s actually a surrender.
Forcing an advance when there’s not an opening can be just as destructive as surrendering. Hopefully I don’t need to explain why. If you escalate physically with her one night but without intercourse, and then escalate another night without intercourse, that’s fine. Once you’ve made that forward progress, maintain it. Don’t go backwards. As long as you’re doing that, you can be confident the right opportunity will to move forward yet again will present itself.