The Book

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There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. –  Ernest Hemingway

I have planned many singles events – mixers, networking events, and speed dating events. Many people like speed dating because it allows you to have short “dates” (typically 5 minutes or less) with different people of the opposite sex. In most speed dating events, each person has a number. If you like someone, you write their number on a sheet of paper provided by the event organizers. At the end of the event, you return the paper with your likes to the event organizers. Typically, the person who you like will not know that you like them unless they like you. It’s kind of like when a boy likes a girl, and he writes her a note that says “I like you if you like me. Do you like me?” Speed dating is the adult version of “I like you if you like me.”

I recently organized a speed dating event and learned that five of my guy friends liked one of my good female friends – we will call her Rachel. I asked Rachel if any of my five guy friends ever approached her or asked her out and she said “No.” I found it surprising that they never asked her out because we all lived in the Atlanta area, and we all attended some of the same social events. They had several opportunities to ask her out, but they never did. I caught up with one of my guy friends a week later to find out why.

I asked him, “I noticed that you like Rachel. Did you ever approach her or ask her out?”

He replied, “No.”

So I asked him, “Why not? She’s friendly, she’s down to earth, and she seems pretty approachable.”

He replied, “I wasn’t sure if she would be interested.”

When he said that, another friend of ours who was listening to the conversation said, “Dude just be yourself.” When I heard that suggestion, I remembered thinking that being himself was actually the problem.

We are often told to “Be yourself.” This suggestion is sometimes vague, unhelpful, and counterproductive. It suggests that you are perfectly fine as you are, and you don’t need to improve. This book will disrupt the “be yourself” mindset and hopefully change your perspective on dating and relationships. As you read, try not to fall into the trap of thinking that there are only two choices – 1) be yourself or 2) pretend to be someone else. This book presents a third option – 3) be a better person. This third option is critically important because, contrary to popular belief, women often don’t want men to be themselves. Also, men often don’t want women to be themselves. I’ve done many surveys and conducted many interviews to support that claim. I studied International Psychology, and I also work with people from different cultures. I enjoy listening and learning about people’s dating and relationship experiences.

The Approach Impasse

I recently surveyed 150 men to find out why they don’t approach women who they find attractive. I conducted the survey because women sometimes ask me “Why don’t men approach? Are they shy?” There are various reasons men sometimes don’t approach women, which I discuss in Chapter 6 – Why Men Don’t Approach. Some men do not approach women who they find attractive because they are worried that the women will not be interested in them. These men have a condition known as approach anxiety. I discuss several ways to overcome approach anxiety in Chapter 8 – How to Overcome Approach Anxiety.  For now, the point I am making is that men are being themselves when they don’t approach.

I surveyed 225 women to find out why they are not interested in some men. The women in my survey said that they usually turned men down when they are genuinely not interested in them. I also asked the women “Why don’t you initiate conversations with men you find interesting?” Most of the women said that, with regards to dating, they feel that the man should approach the woman and initiate the conversation.

Let’s quickly recap. Women sometimes want men to approach them. Men sometimes don’t approach because they are afraid that the woman might not be interested in them. Women sometimes don’t approach men because they feel that the man should take the initiative and approach them. So basically, we have an impasse. Men and women often don’t approach each other for reasons that amount to them being themselves. As a result, many potential relationships do not blossom. Instead, they become dreams and fantasies in the minds of timid individuals who did not seize the day.

The approach impasse highlights one of the key challenges in male and female interactions and relationships – men and women sometimes don’t communicate well. Many married couples stress that communication is important. However, in dating scenarios, men and women sometimes don’t clearly communicate what is important to them. If someone does not communicate well, it is not helpful to suggest that they be themselves. I discuss solutions to the approach impasse in Chapter 8 – How to Overcome Approach Anxiety. I also offer some communication tips in Chapter 9 – Good Communication.

The Hungry Don’t Get Fed

Usually, by this point the vast majority of people see the flaw in saying “Be yourself” and instead, they say “Be authentic” or “Be genuine” or “Be your best self.” These suggestions are better than saying “Be yourself” but they may not be the best suggestions for you. If you are struggling to get dates, or if you feel that it is taking too long to find that special someone, it is possible that you are authentic or genuine based on what you know. It is also possible that you may be a bit too eager to meet that special someone. Let me explain by introducing to you the concept that “The hungry don’t get fed.”

When you interact with someone for the first time, or you are in the early stages of dating, you do not want to appear too eager, anxious, or hungry for affection – some refer to this behavior as being thirsty. For example, a guy may appear thirsty if he approaches a woman and the first thing out of his mouth is “Wow! You’re really beautiful. You’re amazing. I would love to take you out to dinner. Can I call you sometime?” This is a bad approach because it shows neediness and lack of confidence.

A woman may appear thirsty if she brings up marriage or talks about starting a family on a first date. Instead of discussing marriage on a first date it’s better to get to know each other and learn as much as you can about each other. In real life (outside of the dating world) it’s okay if you are hungry or thirsty. In the dating world, it looks bad. Be sure to read Chapter 7 – The Hungry Don’t Get Fed – and take the Thirsty Test to make sure that you are not giving off thirsty vibes.

The Relationship Framework

If you wish to have healthy relationships, you should be aware of your strengths, limitations, values, and biases. You should also be aware of others’ perspectives and views. As an international psychologist, whenever I interact with someone from a different culture, I am encouraged to do three things:[1]

  1. Be aware of my values and biases.
  2. Understand the worldview of my culturally different client.
  3. Design the best therapy solution based on my understanding of myself and my client.

Interacting with the opposite sex is very similar to interacting with someone from a different culture – cultural sensitivity is important.

With cultural sensitivity in mind, the main goal of this book is to encourage you to follow the three steps of what I will refer to as the relationship framework:

  1. Know yourself and invest in yourself so that you can be a better person.
  2. Understand and appreciate the needs and perspectives of others (especially the opposite sex).
  3. Think of the best interaction or relationship that makes sense for you and the other person.

Very few people can consistently apply this framework to their dating relationships. It requires an advanced level of self-awareness and understanding to consistently know yourself (your strengths and limitations), understand someone else’s wants and needs, and interact with them in a healthy constructive way. Think about the second step of the relationship framework for a moment. If you are in a relationship (friendship, dating, or marriage) you should understand and appreciate the needs and perspectives of the other person. You also want the other person to understand your needs and perspectives on a regular basis. This understanding typically only happens if the person is in love with you, loves you consistently, or has a deep amount of respect for you.

Parents who love their children usually consistently think about their needs. Unfortunately, some parents don’t provide a healthy amount of love. Also, some parents do not meet their children’s emotional needs. I will touch on that in Chapter 2 – Things Unsaid. Right now I am referring to parents who genuinely love their children and wish the best for them. Those parents tend to consistently think about their children’s needs.

People who don’t love you seldom think consistently about your needs or wants. Instead, they tend to focus on their specific needs and desires. They want what they like. If they had to choose between A) you being yourself and B) you doing something that they really like, they often prefer B) you doing something that they really like. Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t know what they really like because they don’t tell you. I’ve written this book to help you figure out what the opposite sex wants and likes.

Invest In Yourself

When you are in a relationship with someone, they often want you to be your best. “Be your best” in this context means that you are doing the best you can with what you have. Your potential (and future) dates often want you to be your best before the relationship begins. To be your best, you should consistently invest in yourself – specifically your mind and your body.

You should regularly invest in your mental well-being. Your brain is remarkably capable of changing and improving. There are many things that you can do to improve your brain or emotional health. To name a few – you can eat well, exercise regularly, sleep well, meditate, spend time in nature, and avoid stress. You can also improve your brain health by stimulating your mind. According to a Psychology Today article, [2] “One of the simplest things you can do to make your brain sweat is to try to understand points of views that you do not agree with. Open your mind and listen to arguments that make no sense to you—and try to find some sense in them.” When you invest in your mental and emotional health, you will find it easier to tackle many of life’s challenges.

You should also invest in your physical health and overall appearance. Your physical health and appearance are important for many reasons. When you invest in your physical health and overall appearance, you are more likely to have greater self-esteem and confidence. In the dating world, your physical health and appearance are important, because they are visible to others. In psychology, there is a term known as thin slicing. [3] Thin slicing refers to the fact that people make decisions about you within seconds of meeting you. The term thin slice comes from the fact that you don’t have to eat an entire cake or pie to know how it tastes. You can simply have a thin slice.

People take “thin slices” of information about you and draw larger conclusions. For example, if you are well-dressed and well-groomed many people will assume that you are successful. If you have a nice physical appearance people will assume that you are healthy and fun. Your appearance is one of the four key elements of sex appeal – which I discuss in Chapter 5 – Sex Appeal.

When you invest in yourself and constantly try to improve you will find the dating process a lot easier and rewarding. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you are perfectly fine, and everyone else is the issue. There is a saying that “Happiness is not only about finding the right person it is also about being the right person.” My wish is for you to be the right person – a more knowledgeable person – a better person.

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David Ross

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