Periscope Depth

beginning with a look and then a smile

(Part two of my series on dating. Part one: my dating advice to teenagers)

Years ago, I witnessed an Internet argument (on Livejournal, natch) between several benevolent females and one frustrated guy.

The frustrated guy had voiced some of the common complaints about women: it’s easier for them because they get to be choosers; they date jerks instead of nice guys; they’re so superficial, etc. Implicit in every complaint – and, toward the end, explicit – was the refrain why can’t I find a girl who likes me? Someone suggested that there was no magic to it. The way to attract a girl you’ll be happy with, she said, is to be yourself.

His response: “I’m so sick of hearing that!”

You rarely see someone voice their insecurities, and the flaws inherent in their philosophy, as loudly as that. That’s why it stuck with me for years. It’s an object lesson into why some guys have perpetual trouble with women.

To the guy who’s sick of hearing “just be yourself,” I have to ask: what sort of advice were you expecting? Were you hoping for some seduction archetype that you could put on at the start of the night and take off with your socks? Some blend of PUA, Don Draper and AXE body spray that would start the panties dropping? Some arcane combination of language, posture and timing that overpowers a woman’s will?

If so, what does that say about you? What does it say about your self-esteem that, when someone tells you to Be Yourself, you react with frustration? How much must you hate yourself for that to be the case?

Also, supposing I were to give you the secret words that’ll get any woman into the sack: what would you do with them? Form a meaningful relationship with the girl you tricked? How are you going to do that, when their attraction to you is predicated on a charade? I thought you were supposed to be the nice guy, not the jerk who takes advantage of women. And here you are asking me for the secrets to get a chick to sleep with you.

(This leads to one of those open secrets about dating: that Nice Guys aren’t really Nice Guys. They think sex is something they’re entitled to, and that the assholes / jocks / rich guys are taking up more than their fair share. That’s a creepy, manipulative attitude, Nice Guy. Women can sense that attitude on you like a musk. That’s what’s driving them away)

What most people find attractive is confidence. Not cockiness – though it’s often a close substitute – but confidence*. This confidence can take several different forms. A joyful, outgoing exuberance. A quiet, knowing look. A serene acceptance of the world. A bold attitude that infects the whole room. A calm certainty that comes when you’re holding up your end of the conversation. All of that’s attractive.

Looks have a lot to do with it, too. But you’d be surprised how much dressing well, shaving regularly and smiling improves your appearance.

The reason people keep telling you to Be Yourself, Nice Guy, is because that’s where you’re most likely to be confident. That’s where you’re most likely to hit your stride. When you’re putting on a mask, negging 9s and angling your crotch toward your target, you’re not increasing your confidence. You’re playing at being confident. In reality, you’re more self-conscious than ever, checking in on your playbook (“did I touch her when she laughed? have I talked to her too much? do I need to neg her?”) and checking out of the moment.

Of course, if you think women are attractive molds of moist plastic, and not human beings with agendas, then maybe acting that way will be more like Being Yourself. But I thought you were the Nice Guy.

(Part three: on why it’s important to keep busy)

*To find the difference between confidence and cockiness, put two confident guys in a room together. If one of them is cocky, he’ll start pushing the other one.

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