Getting to Know You
The first key to successfully juggling women is understanding who you are. The other key is becoming comfortable with yourself. Basketball players must know their best position before taking the court. A slow seven-footer will not be very successful at point-guard. The same lesson applies in life. If you are twenty-something, do not have a lot of money, and work as a newspaper reporter, you are not going to be very successful at telling dates you are a rich corporate raider, and taking them to the Four Seasons. However, the newspaper reporter I described can be very successful, as long as he understands who he is. Self-confidence is absolutely essential. It can often be more attractive than wealth or career. There are millions of single women out there and not all of them like the same type of person. Just be yourself.
In addition to knowing what your strengths are, you also need to recognize your weaknesses. If that twenty-something reporter understands this, he can walk into the Four Seasons and pick up the woman with the man who is feeding her lies. No one is perfect. You must work on your shortcomings to minimize their impact on your life. A key is not to act like you are the perfect male specimen.
The first step is to find a mirror, take a long hard look, and ask, "Who am I? What am I all about?" A confrontation like this is not always easy (so don't do it early in the morning), but you may learn a lot about yourself. It is essential that you know what makes you tick in order to capitalize on what you have to offer the opposite sex. Before you confront yourself, however, you must understand that being a man has inherent implications. Generally, we want to be dominant, as men are always the hunters. We are also more primal in our needs and wants. These basic urges range from sex to cars and even sex in cars. For some reason, women have more control over these urges and often do not share our indulgences. Keep this in mind when you interact with the opposite sex. As much as women may like sex and cars, most will not be impressed by your obsession with either. If you find one who is, stop reading this book and ask her to marry you.
Men also tend to be slightly more competitive than women, although this is changing thanks to increased opportunities in schools, work, and athletics. We still hold the edge in this area, which is why you find us playing in thirty-and-over basketball and in softball leagues and meeting the guys for poker at every available opportunity. Competition among women, however, is often more subtle and dangerous.
Most men recognize their macho traits, which are generally good to have. You just have to realize that women are inherently different and do not share these testosteronesque qualities. We do not always realize how different they are and often shove our manliness in women's faces. No, not literally, although I am sure this happens too. What we need to do is tone down our "macho meter" when we pursue females. They know you are a man. It is their job to find out how much of a one you really are.
As far as women are concerned, I will not even try to explain why they are the way they are. They may be from a different planet but it is not just Venus, it is Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and all the other planets in our system, as well as some other galaxies, some of which are so far away we have not even discovered them yet. If you really want to understand women, the best way is to read the magazines they read: Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Vogue , and other insightful publications. Another way to get an inside look is to peruse for books about women in the sex section at any bookstore. Eventually, you will become about as confused as they are.
Personality traits like aggressiveness, sensitivity, anger, stubbornness, and kindness contribute to your behavior as a whole. I am not suggesting that you go to a shrink. I do think it is useful to try and understand which behavioral patterns have the strongest effect on your daily life. You may be an overly aggressive person, which in some situations might be beneficial. If you apply your aggressiveness effectively at your job, it will probably pay some handsome dividends, unless you are a cop in South Central Los Angeles, in which case it might cause you some irreversible harm.
Recognize your aggressive behavior and use it to your advantage in dating. Aggressiveness in the dating scene can either work in your favor or backfire in your face. Your persistence can be flattering when pursuing a woman, but there is a fine line. If you call her every day without any response, you should probably pull back the reins before you make a fool of yourself (i.e., see George Costanza or Swingers ). Keep your aggressiveness in check. There is a time and place to put on a full-court press, but be careful.
Once you have become familiar with who you are, the next area to work on is your appearance. It is time to stare in that mirror and ponder what kind of look you have going. Take into account the physical characteristics that you cannot change. Are you tall, short, balding? Do you have dark hair, dark skin? Do you have blue or green eyes? Millions of single women are out there, so there is a market for whatever look you have. It really does not matter if you are tall, dark, and handsome, or short, light, and not so handsome. Okay, it matters, but not as much as you think. Shirley Manson, the attractive female lead singer of the band Garbage, once said that her ideal man was John Goodman. So, it is not so much what you look like, but how you make that look work for you.
Some physical characteristics can and should be altered if you are unhappy with them. If you are overweight and happy with your extra baggage, then fine, you can work with it. But if those extra pounds diminish your confidence and self-esteem, then you must either learn how to live with them or you have to shed them. Women will more likely be attracted to a confident overweight person with a good personality, than an insecure slim person with no personality. I know that losing weight sounds a lot easier than it actually is, but if being overweight is causing you stress and unhappiness, then you have to make the effort. Men seem to be more content about their weight anyway. Let's face it, how many men will you find running to the bathroom after gorging themselves on a seven-course meal only to lose it to the porcelain gods?
Whether it is thinning hair, extra pounds, or even that your small friend below is . . . well, small, you do not have to look like Antonio Banderas or be hung like Johnny Holmes to date a lot of women. Many women are turned off by men whose muscles look as if they are on the outside of their bodies. The key is self-confidence, and if you find aspects of your physical appearance limiting, then you have to ask yourself, "Is this something that is holding me back?" If the answer is yes, then deal with it, either by eliminating the problem or learning how to live with it.
Merge your physical characteristics with your wardrobe. You are probably saying, "Why do I need to know what to wear? Isn't that what women are concerned with?" That may be true. However, if women are concerned with what they are wearing, you can bet they are checking you out to see if you are still wearing a Members Only jacket, circa 1986, with pink Converse high tops. And unless you find someone who wants to be your mother and dress you every day, start knowing something about the clothes you put on your body. You probably do not have time be concerned with clothes and fashion when you are already obsessing over sex and cars. You do not, though, have to become Calvin Klein to have fashion sense.
Find clothes that accent your physical appearance, as well as your age and stature. You do not have to look like someone out of GQ, but you might want to read it to receive some fashion advice. Visit a men's clothing store where you feel comfortable asking someone to help you find a new look. Take along a female friend whose advice you can trust (if she dresses like Cyndi Lauper, leave her at home). If you have a little money to spend, hire a fashion consultant. They will go through your closet and discard anything that does not work for you and then will take you shopping for a whole new wardrobe. Drastic? Yes, but if your wardrobe has not changed since the Reagan era, it may be necessary.
Another consideration is the venue where you will be wearing your new attire. Dress appropriately for the occasion. Obviously, you are not going to wear your best suit when going to a watch a baseball game, because in some situations, it is actually better to dress down. Showing up at the local pub with the softball team in your grass-stained uniform after a game may actually work in your favor. Having that two-day scruff on your face can also be appealing. You want to look natural in any setting. The goal is to look like you care about your appearance while not giving the impression that you ever even gave it a thought. If you look like you care too much, you might be perceived as self-absorbed. Most men are anyway, but you do not want to make this too obvious.
Now that you look and feel good, you may be wondering, what the hell is this going to do for me? Good question. The answer is quite simple. However vain it may seem, your looks will be the first thing that is judged by the opposite sex. Yes, those damn first impressions. Before you even open your mouth, you have already been assessed, evaluated, and critiqued. You feel pretty cheap, don't you? Well, get used to it. I know, you thought men were the ones who were supposed to make women feel like a piece of art at an auction, but that is not always the case. Women are just subtle about it.
The importance attached to looks and appearance will vary depending on the female's personality. Women know that most men do not have a clue about how to dress, so many are very forgiving. Some will actually bypass judgment on your looks and attire. If your personality can make up for your lack of attire and grooming skills, then you should be okay, but why not take advantage of an opportunity? Having your looks in order and a little fashion sense will give you a huge advantage over men who completely ignore their appearance.
Remember, though, that looks will only get you so far. That is, unless you are Antonio Sabato Jr., and then your looks can get you into Calvin Klein underwear ads on tall buildings in New York. Nevertheless, now that you look suave and debonair, or at least showered and in a clean shirt, you can open your mouth and say something intelligent to that beauty across the bar.
You cannot command a woman's attention unless you talk to her, which is sometimes difficult. Some of us are understandably uncomfortable approaching women and starting conversations. It can be very intimidating. The fear of rejection looms in your mind. The woman you approach may chew you up and spit you out, or she could make you feel six inches tall. But you never know unless you try, and the results are often not as bad as you think. If she is not interested, so what? There are millions of women out there, and you know that you are a likable guy, so you just keep trying.
Besides being intimidated, you may just feel awkward going up to a total stranger and start gabbing away. You could do it, however, if you had to walk up to a man. You would just start talking about sports or women. But the same formula does not work with females. If you do not believe me, walk up to any woman and say, "What do you think of that blonde over there with the huge breasts?" or give her a high five and ask, "What did you think of the Knicks' game?" Unless she is a lesbian or a huge sports freak, I do not think you would get a very positive response. Men and women have different conversational patterns and they discuss different subjects. Concentrate on the safe areas of interest that overlap. We often disregard this, and talk to women in our normal conversational mode. This is bad. The following example shows us why.
I was recently at a baseball game with three female friends. Between innings, we all went to the smoking area to enjoy a rich, hearty tobacco blend. Two men approached us. Apparently, they had seen my female friends earlier and had tried to get their attention. Here is what happened next.
Guy 1: "Hey, we were the guys waving at you from the beer line."
Female 1: "Oh, really? What's going on?"
Guy 1: "Nothing. Where are you guys from? Connecticut?"
Female 2: "No, we live in Manhattan."
Guy 1: "Really? My friend here manages a bar out in Fire Island. It's a really great bar. You guys should come out there sometime."
(He introduces his friend and himself.)
Guy 1: (turns to Female 1) "What is that, a cigar you're smoking?"
Female 1: "No, it's not a cigar. It's a clove cigarette. It's more natural than a regular cigarette and it doesn't have any nicotine."
Guy 1: "Natural, my balls are natural. It's a fucking cigarette."
I will spare you the rest of the conversation, but as you can imagine, it ended rather quickly. This may be an extreme example, but I just wanted to illustrate my point. This guy had no regard that he was in the presence of three females when he blatantly discussed his genitals. And even though they were at a baseball game and not a Broadway show, using expletives when you first meet someone does not help either. Stick to "gender-neutral" conversation. Men and women have a lot of common ground, so use it. Sports talk is okay if she reveals that she has some knowledge and interest.
If you are still confused, here is a short list of topics to avoid when you first meet a woman:
The murder you got away with
Your bowel movements
Her bowel movements
Any bodily function
Using pick-up lines to break the ice is not a bad idea, but you have to be careful. Stay away from ones that are offensive or too complicated to figure out. Recommended lines should be funny and can even be cheesy, as long as they know that you are just making an effort to start a conversation. Stop after you have used one or two. If they did not work, move on or move out. You do not want to turn your conversation into a failed comedy routine. If you are not creative enough to come up with your own lines, there are resources to find some pretty witty ones. The Internet has sites that list pick-up lines. Romance 101 -- www.rom101.com -- and Humor, Inc. -- www.humorinc.com -- both have large selections. You also find books devoted to the art, including 1,001 Pick-Up Lines; Baby, All Those Curves and Me with No Brakes; and 500 New, No-Fail Pick-Up Lines for Men and Women
The best approach is to be natural when talking to women. Try not to be too eager and do not rely on a lot of props. The best approach is often to simply go up and introduce yourself. If you have enough self-confidence, then all you need is an opening to say, "Hello."
Many women dislike men who try to impress them with their wallets or success. Believe me, if you flash your money around enough, some women will flock to you, but you will end up broke. Then see how many of those women stick around. So, put that roll of singles away. If you are successful, then there is no reason to shamelessly call attention to it. She should figure it out on her own. Let her ask you some questions and she will find out all she needs to know.
Since you are supposed to be interested in her, you should be the interrogator. No matter how shallow you are, you should at least attempt to feign interest. Listen to what she is saying, instead of contemplating the next brilliant thing you are about to impart. React to what she is saying, to further show that you really are paying attention. However, try not to be too controversial. If she is discussing her work at an abortion clinic, hold off on your pro-life tirade. Obviously, you have some differences, but you can make your respective opinions without being confrontational.
Unless you are dating fourteen-year-olds, you should have a lot to talk about: career, hobbies, interests, education, etc. I would suggest that at least initially there are some subjects you should avoid discussing. You want to be yourself, but it is unwise to bring up the time your mother caught you masturbating. Embarrassing experiences are taboo until much later in a relationship. Anything controversial could easily lead to an argument and impede any progress, so avoid discussions about gun control, capital punishment, and Jesse Helms. Emotional subjects should also be avoided. These include abortion, religion, sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, past relationships, etc. She may have had a negative experience with one of these issues and will probably express strong feelings about them. You will know if you have invoked one of those topics if she starts crying or slugs you in the stomach. Even if she asks for your viewpoint on some these issues, tread carefully. You do not have to lie, but be sensitive and remember these very basic tenets: date rape is bad, pro-choice is the only choice, and hiring a woman based on her chest size is unacceptable.
Merge your rap with your personality. Do not try to be someone you are not when talking to women. You have already developed a good understanding of yourself, now you can share it with others. Focus on things you have in common and try to sound interesting without appearing full of yourself. As I mentioned earlier, you want her to ask questions about your life. Yes, if you are successful and have traveled all around the world, you want to work that into the conversation, but there are subtle ways of doing that without just coming out and boasting. For example, if she compliments your sweater, you might comment, "Thanks, I bought it when I was traveling in the countryside of Ireland. An elderly woman knitted it herself."
I want to stress that you do not have to compensate for your shortcomings. You do not have to be rich, good looking, or highly educated. If you pretend to be one of these things, she will see right through you. Try not to call attention to the fact that you never made it past the sixth grade and your bank account collects more dust than interest. If you have followed the advice given earlier in this chapter, you have made yourself a more complete person and can emphasize your strong points.
The following is fictional example. Suppose you are an alcoholic and a garbage collector who never made it past grammar school. How do you initiate a conversation? Here are two possibilities:
Guy 1: Excuse me, but they may ask you to leave, you're making all the other women in here look bad.
Female 1: (chuckles) That's pretty funny, what's your name?
Guy 1: Scott. And you are?
Female 1: Lisa. It's nice to meet you, Scott.
Guy 1: It's nice to meet you, too. That's a great dress you're wearing.
Female 1: Thank you.
Guy 1: I was just about to get a drink; can I get you something?
Female 1: That would be great, I'll have a Whiskey Sour.
Guy 1: (buys drinks) Here you are.
Female 1: What are you drinking there, Scott?
Guy 1: Oh, this. This is just a club soda. I don't like to drink too much; it impairs my judgment. I may have looked right past you otherwise.
Female 1: That's pretty responsible. What do you do, Scott?
Guy 1: I'm an efficiency specialist for the city. But enough about me. What's your story?
Guy 1: Excuse me, I couldn't help notice you staring at me from across the room.
Female 1: I was actually staring at the wall, it looked more interesting than you.
Guy 1: That's pretty funny. My name's Scott, what's yours?
Female 1: Lisa, nice to meet you, Scott.
Guy 1: Listen, my wallet's feeling a little heavy; can I buy you a drink?
Female 1: I guess. I'll have a Whiskey Sour.
Guy 1: No problem. (Buys drinks)
Female 1: Thanks. What are you drinking there?
Guy 1: Oh, this is a double bourbon and soda. A real man's drink.
Female 1: So, what do you do, Scott?
Guy 1: I'm a garbage collector. It pays really well.
Quite a difference. The guy in Example 1 relied more on his personality and also downplayed his deficiencies, while the guy in Example 2 emphasized his wallet and his ego.
Now to review. Be a little introspective. Look at who you are. Examine what made you this way. Finally, look at your appearance. After you do this, assess what, if anything, you want to change in your life. Now that you feel comfortable with yourself, use your great qualities and personality and meet some women. Remember that they are a different species, so when you are talking to them, cut down on the male lingo.
You are ready to move on, but hold back, Tiger, you still have to learn a little about the women who await you.
Copyright © 1998 by Stefam Feller