April 24, 2014 / Approaching is Not the Only Part of Attraction
How to adjust your mentality between approaching, conveying interest, and escalating.
(comic taken from http://www.xkcd.com, by Randall Munroe)
A lot of dating advice can sound contradictory. You’ve probably heard advice like this on JoshSway.com or elsewhere:
- "Play it cool and don’t be too eager."
- "Use ‘negs’ to keep her guessing whether you’re interested."
- "Don’t reveal you’re interested too soon."
- "Just act like you don’t give a fuck."
But then you’ve probably also heard this:
- "Don’t wait more than three seconds to approach."
- "Overcome your anxiety and just do it."
- "Be confident and don’t hesitate to escalate."
This seemingly contradictory advice literally confused me for years. How am I supposed to escalate without revealing I’m interested? How am I supposed to "just do it" but "play it cool" at the same time? It didn’t make any sense, until I realized…
The Approach is Not Everything
This pretty much says it all, actually. You have to separate thinking about your initial approach from your overall interest level. A lot of guys don’t do this because they feel like most of their problems are mainly with the approach. They’re mainly focused on optimizing for the best ways to start talking to a girl at a party, bar, or club. They’re not thinking about building attraction in a holistic sense, and how your actions are received in a larger context.
If this is you, then you should break out of that mentality. Realize the initial approach with a woman is just one component, and different advice applies to different stages of building attraction.
The Approach Does Not Automatically Convey Interest
Imagine you’re at a bar ordering some drinks for your friends. There’s a girl also at the bar, she sees the bartender making the shots you’re ordering, and asks "what are in those?"
You tell her, "Those are Irish car bombs for my friend, it’s his birthday. He’s actually from Austrailia, but we joke that he’s Irish since he’s a redhead."
(At least, I hope that’s what you said, since it’s a great example of an identity statement).
Say you continue talking to this girl. Even though she was the one that technically "opened," can you automatically tell that she’s interested just because she asked what drinks you ordered? Of course not. Maybe she really was just curious. Maybe she’s Irish. Maybe she’s interested only because she has a fetish for Austrailian redheads. It’s impossible to know, why is why you need to keep talking to her and look for IOIs.
So flip the roles. As the XKCD comic in the article’s image indicates, opening up with an innocuous question or compliment doesn’t automatically flag yourself as, "THIS GUY STARTS CONVERSATIONS WITH RANDOM WOMEN BECAUSE HE IS A LECHEROUS CREEP." There’s a reason why it’s called an "Indicator of Interest," not "A Definite Gurantee of Interest." Approaching someone is an IOI, but indicating interest is not the same as conveying interest.
Breaking it Down
1. Be Aggressive on the Approach
Generally, you want to be aggressive on the approach. Don’t let approach anxiety consume you. Don’t let a fear of rejection prevent you from talking to a woman you think is attractive.
That being said, you want to avoid an opener that conveys interest immediately. This is because…
2. Play it Cool Once You’ve Engaged
When you open with something like, "you’re beautiful and I just had to come over here and introduce myself," you’ve literally showed your entire hand. She won’t wonder if you’re actually interested or just someone making small talk. By conveying interest so soon, she’s now forced to evaluate whether she’s interested in you, before you’ve gotten a chance to DHV. And even if she doesn’t reject your advance, she won’t be trying to attract you because she already knows you’re attracted to her.
So whether it’s on the approach or once you’ve negaged, don’t jump the gun and convey interest too soon. Play it cool and convey interest when she’s conveyed interest. The whole point of "negging" isn’t to put women down or lower their self-esteem. It’s basically you just saying, "you go first."
You want to have this attitude until you feel there have been enough IOIs to move forward. At which point…
Escalate, Then Escalate Some More
When you’ve determined she’s interested, you want to move towards escalating. This is where you want to have an aggressive mentality again. Above all, you don’t want to convey interest without escalating. In other words, escalating should be your way of conveying interest! If a girl says "I like you," there’s no reason why you shouldn’t respond by kissing her. But not saying anything is still a better response than just saying, "I like you too."
Juggling Your Mentalities
The steps I just described do require some mental gymnastics. Shifting from an aggressive to a casual mentality isn’t easy, but like anything you’ll get better at it with practice.
But what I’ve hopefully done is given you a frameworkfor those adjustments. At the most fundamental level, most mistakes with building attraction occur when you were too passive when you should have been aggressive, or too aggressive when you should have been too passive. That’s really it.
Also, you don’t need to "fix" everything at the same time. If you feel overwhelmed by this, then my advice is to just focus on being aggressive enough to escalate. Not approaching a cute girl may feel like a missed opportunity, but not escalating when I should have always made me feel like I had someone hand me $1000 and then I just dropped it. Once I felt comfortable enough escalating with girls that were into me, that’s when I focused on finding girls and making them interested in me. A similar step-wise approach may work for you as well, and before long you’ll have what it takes to adjust to any phase of building attraction.