When you’re trying to get a number, release your expectations of the outcome.
A friend of mine had gone through a bad breakup and spent the last several months rebuilding himself. He was working out, eating healthy, furthering his career by taking additional classes for software development and dabbling with meditation here and there.
Without a warm introduction from a mutual friend or a “random hook up” fueled by alcohol, he felt powerless when it came to meeting women.
On our first Skype call, he told me”I want to be able to meet who I want. If I see a cute girl at the coffee shop I want to be able to talk to her. I want to see her and think, I’ve got this.“
Right now he was a prisoner of his own mind. What do I say? How do I ask her out? How do I tell if she’s interested? These were the questions holding him back.
I asked him to record his conversations and we would analyze them together and give him feedback.
Our first barrier: What do I say to her?
Striking up conversations with women at coffee shops can feel like an insurmountable problem at first. The thought of breaking someone’s routine to talk to them is terrifying.
On my own journey, this same barrier held me back for years. I read every book, listened to every seminar, and asked everyone who would listen on how to talk to women. I felt like I didn’t have permission to walk up and interrupt someone from their latte. Let alone ask them out on a date. I kept hearing the same advice: It doesn’t matter what you say; say anything.
At first, this pissed me off. Surely “say anything” couldn’t be the answer. What do I say after I say anything? And what about after that? I would disregard their advice and go back to the internet looking for the magic string of words and pick up lines that would take me from “hello” to “wanna make out?”
After years of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, I pulled my head out of my ass and realized they were right. Conversation is a skill you practice and develop. If your biggest fear around meeting women is not knowing what to say, then the ONLY answer is to practice and improve your conversation skills until they are no longer a barrier.
Start with some of the best resources on conversation:
- The Ultimate Guide to Conversation
- Nick Notas Guide on Conversation
- Nick Notas Conversation (Cont.)
- First Date Conversation Tips from The Mating Grounds
- Brene Brown on vulnerability in social situations (great if you are wanting deeper conversations.)
“There’s no one-size-fits-all to conversations,” I told him. “Instead of focusing so much of your energy on your words, learn to pay attention to how she is responding. There’s a difference between her smiling with eye contact and her looking away and responding with short answers.”
“The best way to start a conversation is to lead with what’s true for you,” I said. “Is a genuine compliment true in that moment? Use that. A question about the book she’s reading? Ask her.”
So he did. Upon reviewing the conversations he was off to a great start. I could hear the friendly warm tone in his voice and the genuine interest he showed in her. For the most part, women were receptive and happy to talk to him. A few had no interest, which is fine. That’s life. Move on and don’t take it personally. The sun didn’t rise because of you and it certainly won’t set for the same reason tomorrow.
After the introduction and a few small talk exchanges, I noticed the tone of his voice became stiff and he sounded much more nervous.
“What’s going on here? It sounds like you’re going to piss your pants.” I asked.
“I know man. I just… lock up. All of the sudden, I’m not sure what to do. It starts off great but then I fumble. I get stuck in my head and start to freak out.”
“Why do you think that is?”
“Because I get nervous about asking for her number. I don’t know when to actually do that. I’m not sure when the right time to ask is.”
“Why should she give you her number?” I wasn’t trying to make him uncomfortable, (okay, I kind of was) but this is where a lot of guys—myself included—get hung up.
“I don’t know. She’s just hot and I want to get to know her.”
It’s perfectly fine to feel that magnetic attraction to a woman and want to talk to her for nothing more than to spend a few moments admiring her beauty.
But where we go wrong is thinking you can walk up to a woman, string a series of words together and walk away with a number. As if she’s sitting around waiting for a guy to come charm and whisk her away from her mundane daily life.
“Why are you doing all of this? Why do you want to meet women in public?” I was digging for the truth.
“I just want to man. I want to know what it feels like to meet the women I want.”
Years of reading psychology books, putting myself through therapy, men’s weekends, and conducting group therapy sessions has taught me there are always many layers behind a man’s desire like this. This was the surface level answer to his bag of shit he was carrying around.
“Okay, what else is true?”
“Well… fuck man… I feel scared. Like, I want to meet women SO BAD. I hate this feeling of not knowing how to act around them. It’s like… why am I so fucking scared? They are just people like me. I can’t seem to get past that.”
He had opened his bag of shit. And it stunk.
This is a common problem for a lot of men. There are two main issues here:
- Attaching our identities and self-worth to the approval of women.
- A belief we are owed something from women.
We all have a story we tell ourselves about our relationship to women. Some of us have a healthy story. Some of us have a toxic story filled with fear, resentment, and anger. My friend possessed the latter.
“Right now the story you’re telling yourself is, I have to get her number and approval from her. The conversation has to go well and she has to like me. If I don’t…
I’m a failure.“
This is one of the biggest hang-ups we have as men around meeting women. And for good reason. We’ve evolved to have a deep fear around sexual rejection. It hurts.
That doesn’t mean it has to stop us. What it does mean is we owe it to ourselves to drop our agendas and meet women where they are at. Instead of thinking, I need to get laid (if that’s your goal), what if we thought, I wonder how she’s doing today. I wonder if we’d actually get along and connect?
What if your only goal was to ask her without attachment and judgment how she was? And if she met your eyes with a smile and said, “How are you?” then you sat and had a conversation.
What if instead of banking your entire livelihood as if you are man on who should be approached, you allowed yourself to see who was interested first?
Once I uncovered his truth about why he was actually meeting women, we changed the strategy.
“I want you to meet women and see if you actually connect first. Stop trying to get her number. Stop using the same compliments. Explore the conversation as two people together, and you tell me what’s interesting about her.”
It worked. He sounded less robotic in his conversations and began to sound more like two friends out for coffee.
“It’s much easier. I don’t feel like there’s so much pressure. We can actually just talk and it’s not such a big deal if it doesn’t work out.”
He still felt nervous when approaching—which is fine—but he wasn’t in a state of panic when he met women.
He still wanted her number, but he didn’t need it.
That’s the difference between the little boy and the mature man. The boy needs approval, the man doesn’t.
A myth in the world of personal development is that there’s a finish line to getting what we want. That’s not how life works. Sometimes the universe grabs you by the balls and pile drives you onto the cold hard earth. Our control lies in how we choose to show up, moment by moment.
When my friend released the attachment for women’s approval and started allowing himself to enjoy the conversation—he felt empowered. There was no magic string of lines, there was no right time to ask for her number.
Most guys email me asking for tips on conversations. But I think what we all need is to release our attachment of outcome. It’s not about us–and that’s a good thing.
Photo credit: Getty Images