How To Be Charming

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About Harris O'Malley

Harris O'Malley provides geek dating advice at his blog Paging Dr. NerdLove, as well as writing the occasional guest review for and appearing on the podcast The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen. He can be found dispensing snark and advice on Facebook and Twitter (@DrNerdLove.)

Dr. NerdLove is not really a doctor.


  1. Georgianna says:

    This is a well thought out analysis. Although you have written this for a guy trying to charm women, I think it could work for anyone. I personally like to think of a couple entertaining stories of recent things that have happened in my life before I go to a social event. What is your advice for charmingly disengaging from someone you no longer want to talk to at a party?

    • Say you want to check out the dessert table or get a drink or that you have to go to the powder room… Have your friends check on you from time to time and interrupt if it looks like you are getting bored…. Ask for the person’s business card and then say there is somebody that you want to say hello to….

  2. Joel Ferris says:

    Not that every item in the how-to isn’t on point, but MAN, that seems like a lot of work. And a lot of acting!
    I’ve been called “charming” a couple of times. It was revelatory… and kinda strange. I don’t think of myself in that way. “Charming” carries with it a certain Master Of Ceremonies stigma; a mantle handed down by Carey Grant and Jack Lemmon, to be worn with poise and dignity. That’s a lot to live up to. And a lot of work!
    I’m just a nice guy — the kind that frequently finishes last — and I can live with that. I make it a point to give every person with whom I come into contact the opportunity, at least once in his or her crappy day, to let out a good hearty laugh, or at least enjoy an honest smile. I’ve been on THAT side of the cash register, suffered through patrons who refuse to be satisfied, stared down the barrel of a grumpy boss or two… or ten… For me, “Charming” is not a practice, not a ploy; it’s the Golden Rule. Treating people the way you’d like to be treated, being good to people because you want to be good to people beats the heck out of being the life of the party or all things to everyone. A genuine empathy and caring trumps a song and dance any day of the week.
    Encouraging people to loosen up their apprehensions, to expand their bubbles, is a good thing. However, to me, practicing new behaviors that might not match up with what’s really inside a person seems… I don’t want to say dishonest… disingenuous? I’m a goof and a spaz, and I like to make people laugh. That’s simply because I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD. I am who I am, and that’s all anyone really needs to be.

    What was it Groucho said? “I’d never join a club that would have someone like me as a member.”

  3. Eduardo García says:

    Mr. O’Malley

    I applaude you, sir. Like a standing slow applause waiting for others to join in applause.

    Charming and engaging is not a talent, it is a skill and a concienciously active attitude. You choose to be charming. People might complain that it take alot of energy and effort. So does Pool when you start. At first you have to look at every angle and every option, and the resulting angles and options after the shot. Interestingly enough, after a while, you do that automatically, without having to even think about it.

    • @Eduardo Garcia,

      “Charming and engaging is not a talent, it is a skill and a conscientiously active attitude.”

      You sir are 100% correct!. I grew up in the Deep South. We are all freindly. The men are taught to be charming and to act like a gentleman. I have never met a stranger. I talk to everyone!

      When you have done this for 30-40 years in life, it is automatic.

      With the growing de-socialization of American culture, sometimes I stand out like a sore thumb. I go to two different bars each week. Instead of people having their drinks and chatting it up, now they are having their drinks and texting away. Often heads down playing with smartphones….No much conversation as in previous years. Sad.

  4. Being a charmer has it’s time and place.
    Charmers seek attention throwing it out there to bait whatever bites.
    Having intense emotional connections with women friends is a downfall if a new woman comes on the scene. The history he’s created with these friends will come first and sometimes he would allow them to judge if the new gal is suitable. This is when boundaries need to be drawn. And when the g/f draws them she’ll be doing it resentfully since she didn’t sign up to date two or three people but one and it was something he should have taken care of on his own accord.
    Sometimes it’s hard for the charmer to let go of emotional connections with women as that’s all he ever had when single. And being single he played the friend role well but many women can see when a male friend acts like a boyfriend more than a friend and charmers act like boyfriends-in-the-making.
    To date one, a charmer tests the waters to see who else might bite, a way of keeping his options open. Sometimes using his charm as a weapon to keep a g/f in line to put up with his constant flirting, he seemingly gives the impression he is still available to others (married or not). If the charmer has all these emotional connections, what differentiates his emotional tied-in friends from the g/f other than he’s sexing the g/f and spreading himself thin by being emotionally involved with several other women? A red flag that this one is an emotionally immature type of charmer.
    The one warning I give the g/f(s) is that you will be taking on loads of emotional baggage when you hook up with a charmer as he can’t shake old habits from being single. Some of these charmers use the line, “I’m not emotionally available” when some authentic romantic interest comes along as he’s too tied into a history of seeding his emotions into many other women and maintaining those connections as it feeds his ego and he’s getting the attention from women, any woman, since he doesn’t have a woman of his own.
    Many of these women who are emotionally connected to, say, your new b/f will not be eager to give up the friend-charmer for fear of losing the emotional support given them through the years when he was single and available at a whim. Such tight connections will show an ugly side, the side where the female friends of the charmer will hold the charmer to account with false hopes of something more. Sabotaging his desire to build a life with someone because they’re the ones who have a history. Many times the charmer thinks the friendly but strong emotional connection he has with his female friends took a new turn for them to show their true feelings for him NOW that he has a new romance blossoming. Even a hint of interest from the female friends, he’ll forfeit something new for it and when he does and is on the market again, the female friend goes back to being just that, a friend who just needs someone to call late at night when emotionally distraught.
    He plays a balancing act that no matter what side of the fence a woman sits on, every one of them knows how to play, knows how he plays, and in the end, he gets played and love delayed.

    • Tosh, it sounds like you’ve had some bad experiences with charmers. I’m sorry to hear that. I’m not sure that charming = emotionally unavailable though. Perhaps you’re making a distinction between being a player (who often is charming) and the trait of being charming. I don’t think there is any shame in being charming, and I don’t see any place where it would be unwelcome, as long as honesty is a core value. Being charming does not necessitate a compromise between honesty and people liking you; that kind of charm starts to ring hollow pretty darn quickly. I definitely know people like the one you’ve described, and I also know many people who are genuinely charming and have intense emotional connections with people of either gender without compromising the boundaries of their intimate relationships.

    • Nick Jurczak says:

      What you describe sounds more like someone who is a manipulator (uses charm for the benefit of himself and himself only) or someone who has been burned one too many times and in the end has a negative charm. They have the ability to be truly charming but rather than use it positively they use it to spread their own misery. A charming person is someone who is charming to everyone, uses tact in situations, etc. without feeling the need to get anything out of it. They don’t talk to women/men for the strict purpose of getting laid or dating them but for the purpose that they are kind and want to talk to people.

      I have two roommates. One of them is relatively charming. He smiles and talks to people not because he is getting something out of it but because he likes to talk to people. He acts more than friendly with people, even those who are taken, but it is because he wants to be friendly with those people and be liked by those people. The other roommate is an overly negative person who feels he needs to be guarded all the time because he has been burned one too many times. He’s afraid to speak because he’s afraid of seeming stupid or insulting. He also feels like those who have burned him seem to owe him something for trying so damn hard for talking to them. Think about the differences between the two people.

  5. This isn’t a very good how to. I could say a lot more but these two stick out for me:

    Be funny? Where is the how to instructions in this? You can develop humour, but you’ve given no indication how to do this or given any resources.

    Your ‘Presence how to’ is way off the mark. If a guy is stuck in his head (as a lot of guys are), telling him to put 100% of his attention on someone is not going to have him feeling present and increase his magnetism – and what you describe comes across a lot more like manipulation than actual presence – i.e. genuinely giving a s#&t. Presence comes from self awareness, not other awareness.

  6. Not to be a negative Nancy, but this article seems totally unhelpful. I must say, I do all of the stuff on the list already I don’t think anyone would describe me as charming. Also, you can’t learn to be funny. People might be able to learn to better form connections by following some of these guidelines, but I don’t think it will help anyone learn to be charming. Sorry :/

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