Do not read this unless you want too much information about me. Far too much information. 4,997 words. No photos. All text.
“As long as there is whiskey in the world we can drink away the heartache, drink away the girls.” – Adam Turla
I don’t often drink whiskey, but I can relate to Mr Turla.
Like a lot of guys, the success I’ve had with women has usually been luck. And I mean this in regards to the full spectrum of relationships, from friends to lovers and in between. The phrase “getting lucky,” was probably coined by a guy like me. Natural? Smooth? Confident? Nope, not me.
Last week I flew to Los Angeles for a paradigm shifting adventure as far as male/female interactions are concerned. If you’re on my e-mail list you heard about it. (If you’re not on my e-mail list sign up above.)
I’m happy to report that the response to that e-mail was very positive from both genders (I received one hate e-mail and a few more unsubscribes than normal). Most people got it, some didn’t. That’s all good. In my attempt to get to zero readers I’m going to open up about more than I have before. I write for myself, but I’m thrilled when others get something out of it and I appreciate your following along.
Let’s get to it.
I hung out with some friends I previously knew while in LA, but the reason I booked the trip was to attend a 3 day bootcamp run by the guys at SimplePickup.com. I discovered their YouTube channel last year when Ramit linked to it and I’ve been a subscriber ever since.
Like many single guys aged 18-40 I’ve read the best-selling book The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss. A very well written book full of true-life accounts, but I never vibed with it. It was about being indirect with routines and lines; stuff that I could never get into. Did I try some of what was in the book? Yes. But because I wasn’t genuinely into it I didn’t have any success and it just wasn’t an overtly positive experience.
(In the book Neil, aka “Style,” doesn’t get the “girl of his dreams” until he stops with all the games and bullshit. I think most guys who read it forget that part.)
I liken it to using a popup on a website vs not using a popup. Being manipulative and dishonest = popup. Being direct and honest = no popup. You can reach most of your goals either way, but one way feels better than the other.
That said, the older I get the more I realize life is one big game with infinite rules and you get to play it however you want. This holds true for school, work, and relationships.
I’m already getting ahead of myself. Let’s take this back a step to the beginnings of my fears and anxieties with women …
I’ve always been a very nice and respectful guy (still am) and as far back as I can remember I’ve been very bad with women.
A lot of my anxiety and fear of failure with women began when I was younger (late Elementary – Junior High School) and many of the pretty/popular girls (as well as some guys) found it hilarious to call me ugly. Constantly. Daily. Even now when I hear or see that word – whether it’s directed at me or not – my stomach tightens, my throat clenches, and my heart races. I didn’t have self-confidence as it was and being called names took it from zero to sub-zero.
Whoever coined the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” was wrong.
You would maybe think this would make me an asshole who hates women. That never happened, but I did let it ruin my interactions with girls throughout junior high & high school. And when you don’t interact with girls you don’t ever get good at interacting with girls. With no self confidence and very few friends, most days consisted of going to school and coming home to play guitar, read, watch TV, or do school work. Most of the time I hated life.
By Senior year of high school I had made some friends, but things with girls didn’t improve much. I didn’t have my first real kiss until nearly the end of high school – I was 18 by then.
If I think back to high school I remember consistently being “hit on” by girls and completely ignoring their advances for fear of being called names and hurt again. I thought every girl was playing a joke on me.
One example: In 11th grade there was a girl named Mandy who would come up to my locker many mornings and try to talk to me. She was very pretty and very nice. I mostly said nothing. One time me and my friend Joe were walking the empty halls during class (we may have been skipping), Mandy was coming towards us (don’t know why she wasn’t in class), and she tried to say something, but I kept walking. Joe turned to me, “What are you doing? Why didn’t you stop to talk to her?” Me: “What? She’s just fucking around with me.” I felt so small already I didn’t want to take any chances at feeling even worse. Eventually Mandy stopped trying to talk to me. (She was smart like that.) Off the top of my head I can think of five other examples just as pathetic.
By the time University rolled around I grew some balls insofar as I would talk to girls in class and out of class and try to get dates. It was still very rare that I would approach girls I thought looked cute/interesting/whatever, but it was a start. At some point during Sophomore year I met a girl who I would go on to date for over 4 years. I was 20 at the time. How’s that for losing your virginity late in life?
In other words, the only other easy time to practice getting comfortable interacting with girls went out the window. If University is good for nothing else, it is good for building social skills. That is if you don’t date just one girl the whole time you’re there, of course.
The fact that I’ve worked from home since age 19 and don’t like going out to coffee shops/stores/etc didn’t help my cause. So, although I got a little more bold over the years, I never got good. Interacting with people in general was a struggle, but interacting with females was more of a struggle. Girls were always put on a pedestal. The superior gender. Which is fair. But in my head I was not allowed to mess up while speaking to this perfect creature.
At some point in 2005 I took a “pickup bootcamp” from a company called, laughingly, The Approach, which was run by Sebastian Marshall (before he went by a different name) and another guy. They were quite bad and didn’t teach much of anything. They refused to demonstrate approaches so everything was theory-based. (Not a good way to teach anything, ever.)
In Extraordinary Insights Volume 2 I mentioned I probably only approach 2% of the cute girls I come across (#59). That was very true. And because I interact with so few people on a regular basis that meant I would, at most, approach 1-2 girls per week. Often none at all. And most of those approaches would be really weak and indirect.
It is kind of sad that I’ve been able to figure out so much stuff on my own, but have always been fearful of bad interactions with women. It has been the one big weak spot in my life. The one thing I never spent much time improving.
Fast forward to the recent past. I’d been watching the Simple Pickup videos for about a year. They proved that you could literally say anything, and as long as you were having fun with it, it would sometimes work out well. If you watch their videos you see they take suggestions from viewers and then go out doing crazy stuff to get numbers.
But it was rare that I actually did anything with this knowledge. There was always an easy excuse to stop me.
Just a few of the many excuses I would come up with for not approaching:
- “Oh, she’s shopping right now.”
- “She’s on her phone.”
- “She’s listening to music.”
- “She’s eating.”
- “She’s too pretty.”
- “She’s probably got a boyfriend.”
I knew I needed to change, but I didn’t know how.
Whenever I want to learn something I try to find the best I can and pay them whatever they want. I was thrilled when SimplePickup announced that they’d be doing bootcamps. I originally wasn’t even going to set foot in the US in 2012, but I had a short trip to Dallas for a sort of business meeting. I used it as an excuse to stay in the country for SXSW and SimplePickup.
After I signed up I didn’t tell people about it because it would have been very easy to talk me out of attending. I was apprehensive, unsure, and kind of felt embarrassed for signing up. It wasn’t until I booked my non-refundable flights, AirBNB, and rental car, and paid my final bootcamp payment that I think I told one or two people.
I’m glad I didn’t talk myself out of it. The weekend was exhausting (mentally and physically), but it was incredibly fun and enlightening.
I approached at least 150 girls or groups of girls/guys. My frame turned from “Wow, she’s pretty, I’ll never talk to her” to “Wow, she’s pretty, I need to go find out if we connect.” Everything else that happened is unimportant right now and I’m not going to break down the actual SimplePickup bootcamp. (I already reviewed it on their forums if you want to read that although I didn’t go into specific details there either.)
What I will discuss is the reality checks/aha moments/paradigm shifts I went through. I understand I should have learned all of this many moons ago, but, as we’ve learned, I’m a late bloomer.
Reality Check #1: There are no secrets.
There is nothing you can ever say or do to make 100% of your interactions turn out well, whether with men or women. There are no secret words or phrases or techniques. Some people are just not into you. And you are not into some people. All good.
Reality Check #2: You don’t need to run “lines” or “routines.”
That said, you can say any line you can think of and if you say it confidently it can work out well. SimplePickup proves this on their ridiculous YouTube videos where viewers tell them to pickup girls using various lines or characters. (Video game quotes, memes, Fresh Prince quotes, dressed as Emo guys, so on and so forth.)
They don’t do it like that in day-to-day. They simply want to prove to men that it doesn’t matter what you say or what you look like. Saying something, anything, is better than saying nothing.
This is what I loved most about the SimplePickup weekend. They were along for the ride guiding me and challenging me to push myself and my fears, but not telling me “the perfect thing to say.”
Side note: Jesse, Jason, and Kong were some of the nicest, most motivating guys I’ve hung out with. It did not feel like a business transaction. It felt like their one and only goal was to help me reach my goals with women*. They went above and beyond what I expected. I hope their business explodes while positively affecting the lives of tens of thousands of men and women the world over. I cannot praise them enough and no words I write will do them justice.
*My goal: I’m unsure about marriage and I don’t want kids, but I do want a long term relationship. That said, I don’t think we all have a “the one.” I think most of us have multiple “the ones.” Even though there might be more than one, it’s still a challenge finding them. Hello, where are you hiding?
Moving on …
Sometimes they would tell me what to say just to see what would happen. It was all to get out of my own head about things and to learn that I could literally say whatever and if I said it confidently it would be OK.
More than saying the perfect thing they pushed me into seemingly crazy situations like this:
Jesse: “Karol, how ballsy do you want to be tonight?”
Me: “Shit, what do you want me to do?”
Jesse: “Behind you there is a group of 2 girls and 2 guys sitting down at a table. Go tell the girl in the pink shirt she is cute.”
Me: “Fuck, OK!”
I walked over, “You are very cute and I need to say hi. Hi, I’m Karol.” She blushed, giggled, we started chatting and then …
The guy across from her: “Whoa! That is ballsy. What if she was my girlfriend?”
Me: “Then you’d have a cute girlfriend.”
I didn’t chat with her much longer, but as I walked away I heard the guy say to the table, “Fuck, that was so ballsy.”
I heard that multiple times (from girls mostly) throughout the weekend.
Example: After a few minutes of chatting a girl I was talking to said, “Wow, nobody has ever approached me like this. Do you want my number? I have to go. You need to call me.” (This was during the day, outdoors at ~5pm.)
This is what I’m finding. While most girls get approached by guys very regularly, most guys go about it in a very off-putting way. I’ve asked quite a few girls about this and being direct is actually not a common way for a girl to be approached. Although the rejection rate is still high it seems to be much more appreciated than other ways of going about it.
Now before you tell me I’m wrong, I already know everybody has an opinion about this. Some girl friends have told me “do not approach a girl with a compliment.” I already see it works and what I used to do did not. Additionally: If sincerity & honesty do not work then I don’t want that girl anyway.
Reality Check #3: You need to meet a lot of people to find the few you get along with.
This is similar to Reality Check #1. This goes for platonic as well as romantic relationships.
We all intuitively know this, but we act in accordance with some kind of false beliefs.
Laura and I have a sort of running joke that I hate people. This is not true. I just don’t get along with most people. You probably don’t either. That’s perfectly OK. I don’t need more friends. If I make more friends that’s cool, but I’m quite happy with a small social circle.
The reality is that there are a lot of people out there who we connect with, but there are a lot more who we do not connect with. This is why being social with intent is important. She might have the personality of a rock. Or she might be your future wife. There is exactly one way to find out. Meet her. Meet everybody.
Same goes for women reading this. Be open to men approaching you and also go out and approach men. If you’re not getting what you want you’re allowed to go after it. And, of course, this also holds true if you’re LGBT. All love. (On that note: Legalize marriage for all already. Why are we still having this discussion in 2012? Sheesh.)
Reality Check #4: Almost all girls are very receptive to talking to you.
Sometimes it went well and sometimes it didn’t, but nearly no pretty girls were rude or insulting. Although maybe that depends on your definition of rude. Quite a few girls I stopped on the streets didn’t want to talk and just kept walking. That’s not rude though. It’s not natural to stop dead in your tracks and engage in conversation when you’re on your way somewhere.
Again, most beautiful girls weren’t rude – save for Lauren Conrad. Instead of responding with words she just gave me a look of contempt, hateful eyes, and a head shake. She may be worth millions and “famous,” but I didn’t even know who she was until after I walked away. Whatever. Kong (from SimplePickup) got rejected by her after me as well. ;)
And I did make an attempt. Fuck preserving the ego.
This is not a selfish endeavor and preserving the ego is selfish. This is about changing your life and the lives of the people you meet. I don’t care who you talk to, if you sincerely offer up a compliment to somebody they’re going to feel better about themselves. The more people who feel good about themselves the better all of our lives become. If you can’t approach for yourself approach for humanity. Thank you in advance.
Oddly enough, there were some girls I was not attracted to who weren’t very nice to me. I talked about this with Jason (from SimplePickup) and he has some theories as to why this is. Maybe he’ll talk about them on their YouTube channel some day.
The lesson here is: if you’re attracted to her she’s probably also very nice. And if she’s mean, who cares? We all have bad days and you can’t fault someone for having an off day. But know it’s not you. It’s them. Really. You’re all good. Also, please don’t respond with something rude if a girl is rude to you. Just move on.
One of the funnier interactions I had was when a girl told me the following: “Hey, I have a boyfriend, but there are a lot of pretty girls here. Go wrangle up some of that snatch!” Not only pretty, but very supportive/encouraging. We chatted for ~10 minutes after that because she was fun to banter with. (For me this is about being social not just getting girls.) Maybe she didn’t have a boyfriend and just wasn’t interested, but I will take this type of rejection any time.
Note to women: Seriously, if you’re female and you reject guys like this you are my hero. Be firm about it if you’re not interested (no mixed signals), but be supportive. “Listen, I am not interested, but you have some balls and I respect that. See that girl over there? Go, go, go!” I know some guys are dicks and won’t get it, but most guys are not. Don’t let those few spoil it for the majority.
I think what I’m really saying here is leave people better than you found them. That means:
- Say something nice.
- If someone says something rude don’t respond (or respond with another compliment and really throw them for a loop) and move along. Some people hate themselves and, as a result, also hate you. It’s not your job to deal with it.
Reality Check #5: Say what you mean and don’t beat around the bush.
Being confident goes a long way. If you see a girl you think is cute/beautiful/ interesting/fun/whatever then immediately walk up to her and say that. “You are absolutely stunning and I needed to meet you. Hi, I’m Karol.” Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t come up with lame lines or routines. Just fucking say what you feel. It doesn’t matter what it is. You already know you won’t get along with most people so you might as well state your intentions quickly so you can either move on or continue chatting.
Again, I know a lot of people will tell me this is wrong. Unless you’re the woman of my dreams I’m not listening.
Reality Check #6: There are no excuses. Everyone everywhere is fair game.
Headphones on? Jogging? Riding a Segway? A bike? Going in the opposite direction as you? Walking far in front of you? (Run after her!) Eating lunch? Or maybe she’s a barista or cashier or working any other job?
It doesn’t matter.
Ask yourself this: Is she human (and of age, of course, you perverts!)? Then you have the green light.
Maybe you see her sitting down on a couch with friends at a lounge? Cool, sit down and start talking. I did this a few times. (Often at the prompting of Jesse who was constantly looking out for “difficult” situations to put me in.)
This is how it works:
- See group of pretty girls sitting down.
- Walk over and sit down with them.
- Start talking.
- Maybe they’ll like you, in which case you stay.
- Maybe they won’t, in which case you leave.
If that sounds a little insane remember people often go out to have fun and meet other people. Just because someone is sitting down doesn’t mean they don’t want to meet you.
Reality Check #7: You won’t have anxiety. You will enter a high mental state, tunnel vision, god mode.
I didn’t have anxiety with approaching. In fact, it wasn’t nerve wracking at all like I thought it would be. After you get started the adrenaline starts flowing, you enter a high mental state (or “god mode” as the SP guys call it), and you feel great. When I think back to most interactions I don’t even remember the people around me or the place I was in. I had tunnel vision. Me and her. In a bubble. Yeah, the bubble can burst, but the bubble is safe. It feels good. It pumps you full of adrenaline and endorphins. Your dopamine receptors go apeshit.
How to enter this mental state.
- See girl.
- Say something direct.
- Repeat 1 and 2 until you find a girl you connect with.
I have a feeling the only way to enter this mental state is to be direct. A lot of “pickup artists” (like in the book The Game) advocate an indirect approach. For example, go up to a girl and say, “Hey, can I get your opinion on something? Who’s hotter, Justin Timberlake or Ryan Gosling?”
Disingenuous. Weak. Does not pump you full of adrenaline. Does get your interaction started off with a routine/line. How do you then transition to stating how you feel? Just start there from the beginning.
If it’s a rehearsed routine then it’s almost like starting the relationship off with a lie. That doesn’t interest me in the slightest.
You could maybe argue that telling every pretty girl you see that she’s pretty is a routine/line. It’s a weak argument though because if it’s direct and honest it’s not really a “line” at all.
“If you never tell a lie, you never have to remember anything.” – Mike Skinner
Reality Check #8: Boyfriends and Husbands Will *Not* Get Pissed and Fight You
Quite a few times I unknowingly approached girls who were with boyfriends and/or husbands that weren’t in their immediate presence. This is what always happened: nothing. Sometimes the boyfriend/husband would come up and swoop her away. One time the boyfriend just watched me and laughed. I was literally talking to his girlfriend for two minutes while he was 10 feet away (I didn’t know until she pointed it out and then he walked up to us). They were both playing a game with me I guess. But hey, no fisticuffs and no harm done.
Think about it. If you’re with your girlfriend out somewhere and a guy starts flirting with her are you going to cut his throat? No. Unless you’re a psychopath. You will likely be annoyed, defensive, and maybe even flattered. But not violent. Maybe you’ll say something like, “Yo, that’s my girlfriend/wife. Step away kind sir.” You’re not going to get into a fight. It’s just not worth the trouble.
How to diffuse the situation if the boyfriend/husband is pissed: “Whoa, sorry dude, I was just hitting on your girlfriend/wife. Didn’t know you were together. My bad.” And walk away.
Reality Check #9: Not Approaching Hurts More Than Rejection
I used to tell people I have no regrets. I lied. I have thousands of them. Every single girl I ever wanted to say hello to and didn’t. That pain hurts far more than the pain of rejection.
Sometimes my ego still kicks and I don’t approach. But, if I had to guess, it’s probably skewed 80% approach / 20% no approach instead of the former 2% approach / 98% no approach.
I’m not going to say rejection doesn’t sting. But it’s temporary. And the adrenaline I feel from doing a direct approach is nearly impenetrable. The adrenal force-field is strong, my friends.
But my words mean nothing. You have to feel it yourself. Try the following:
When you see a beautiful girl immediately – and I mean within 2 seconds – walk up to her (the adrenaline will start flowing already) and say, “You are pretty/beautiful/cute/gorgeous/stunning/interesting/fun/whatever and I had to meet you. Hi, I’m [your name]” Say whatever you want and don’t worry about if the conversation is a dud. A lot of them will be.
I promise you two things if you do this.
1) You will get very high sans alcohol or other substances.
2) If will be fun and addicting.
If you’re male I know you feel regret about the girls you don’t approach. There’s exactly one thing you can do to fix that pain. Approach, approach, approach. The pain period of the approach goes by quickly.
Interestingly enough there is no such thing as actual rejection. It’s just a learning experience. Calling it a rejection is simply the easiest way to convey it. Every “rejection” brings you that much closer to a girl you connect with. Having that kind of power needs to be celebrated instead of feared.
Reality Check #10: This is about more than women.
It’s about life. It’s about not being afraid to talk to people. Probably 10% of the time I’m out now I talk to random dudes or old people or families. If I think somebody looks fun to talk to I’ll talk to them.
Here’s an example that happened a couple days ago: I went out to a bar to meet some friends. I didn’t see them so I walked up to a table of 2 guys / 2 girls and started chatting. (There were no groups of just girls to talk to, so I went with the group that looked most fun.) They asked me to sit down, bought me a shot, we hung out for an hour and had a great time. That type of thing was always beyond my reality.
Another example that happened just yesterday: Went to my favorite food truck for dinner and started talking to the dude working there (had never seen him there before). It was slow so we chatted for a good 5 minutes. We were chatting like old friends, not typical small talk. When it came time to pay he gave me my food for free. Again, this type of stuff used to be beyond my reality.
Reality Check #11: Everything I’ve written here is bullshit. I don’t know anything.
Sometimes I still feel I’m hopeless. The truth is, even on my best days my self-confidence tops out at maybe a 5 out of 10. I don’t write this to get pity. I’m quite happy with life and rarely feel down. Pretty much every day of the past ~4 years has been better than the day before it. But I’m not confident in my looks or my social skills. I’m confident otherwise (as far as business, for example – maybe too confident), but it doesn’t carry over.
Where I’m At Right Now
I’m not better with women today than I was two weeks ago. I’ve been embarrassing myself daily since I came back to Austin. Come watch me when I make my daily lunch/dinner visit to Whole Foods and it usually (not always!) turns into a hilarious game I’ve dubbed “Rejection Theatre.” When I go out at night it’s often the same. It sounds worse than it is though. The rejections go both ways.
Two weeks ago I gave too much of a fuck about preserving my ego and not making a fool of myself in front of women.
Today? I’m all out of fucks. If I see a girl I think is interesting I want to go find out if she is, in fact, interesting. I might not even have a chance to find out because I might stumble and misspeak or completely freeze up. That happens at least once per day. It feels really good in a shitty kind of way. And it’s OK because the action is important to me and I’m going to keep on failing until I don’t.
I’ve learned that the worst that can happen if I approach someone is I’ll get strangled to death or boiled in oil. Oh wait, nope, that won’t happen. If it doesn’t kill you … wait for it …
wait for it …
wait for it …
it often does make you stronger.
2) Since most people Google before dates nowadays any girl I date will probably find this Essay before I mention it. Hopefully it opens up some interesting conversations. If nothing else, it’s the ultimate filter.