A FEW WEEKS AGO, I was talking to a friend when something about dating became very clear for me. Not long before she had been walking down the street when a guy came up to her, hit on her, and asked for her number. She thought he was nice and gave it to him. They soon got talking and agreed to meet up later.
She was nervous about the date and was asking me what she should do. For context, she’s good-looking, confident, and fun to speak to. So my advice was pretty much along the lines of ‘why the fuck are you asking me for advice? Just show up.’
Ignoring this, she started describing how she was aware that she was good-looking, but that she thought her confidence in herself, and her conversational skills helped her to be attractive – and stated all of this as if she wanted me to confirm it.
I asked her what she liked about the guy, and she said she enjoyed speaking to him, found him attractive, and said he was calming (the last one being something I think only a woman would single out as an attractive trait).
I then asked her what he talked to her about, and she said they’d chatted about a bunch of things in their lives, then he spoke about his career, and how well it was going.
As she was saying this, that ‘something’ about dating started to become apparent.
She liked him for reasons that were entirely irrational. Her enjoyment, her attraction, her feeling of calmness. Yet at the same time, judged his own view towards her as a set of logical traits. She was confident, fun, good looking.
Likewise he, despite having a woman that obviously was already into him, found the need to introduce the fact that his career was going well. Something she barely mentioned, as it meant so little to her. To him, that was his ‘thing.’
Each one liked the other for irrational reasons, but each one rated themselves as attractive for logical, rational ones.
This problem sits at the heart of all dating. We’re measuring ourselves constantly. We’re seeing how good we are, and figuring out what we think works.
We’re thinking of dating as a logical problem to solve.
But in reality, dating doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s not something you can wrap your head around, it’s only something you can feel.
HOW WE JUDGE OUR ATTRACTIVENESS
When we look at dating and relationships as a set of logical problems, it becomes something that we equate to trading, bartering, gambling, and simple mathematics.
Good looks + charm = winning combo. Right?
We take the metrics that make the most sense, and we add them together in the hope of equaling the result we want. In this sense, we turn dating and relationships into a house of probability and odds – we turn it into a casino. And because we turn it into a casino, we behave like we’re in one, and we treat ourselves like we’re part of one.
Here’s we do this:
We have we think matters about us – I.e. ours looks, money, and humor. Then we use these things as ways of getting what they want.
If we were playing poker, these would be our chips. So we slide these chips forward, and we either win the gamble (the person likes us) or we don’t.
Now, I’m not going to get into whether this is the correct way to look at dating (well not yet – but *spoilers* it’s not), but this is, if you’re honest, how you look at it on some level.
You’re gambling the chips you think you have.
But here’s what this does:
HOW TO BUILD A TOXIC SELF-IMAGE
Let’s say you have fuck all self-esteem. It’s rock bottom, sit around all day watching TV, cereal for every meal level. You decide that no woman will ever like you, let alone love you.
And you believe this, for a while. And for a while your life sucks. For now, you believe you have nothing. Or at least, the small amount of humor and intelligence you have aren’t enough to impress anyone.
You’re that guy at the table bleeding chips.
(Not to be confused with bleeding from the face, like that guy in James Bond).
But one day this all just gets too much, feels too shitty, and you decide that enough is enough. You’re sorting your life out.
So you do what most guys do when they decide this. You start smashing weights at the gym. After a while, your muscles begin to grow. Your confidence in yourself begins to grow. And you start getting more attention from women.
Suddenly, you look down at your pile of chips, and next to your small piles of humor and intelligence, you suddenly have another pile. A big pile. Muscles.
And when you gamble this pile, it seems to work. Women like that bet.
So what do you do?
You go all in on that it. You lift like you’re competing for Mr. Olympia. You gain more muscle, and you learn to associate any time you ‘win’ a woman as an indication that all you need is the muscles. So you start introducing them as early as possible.
You wear tight, open clothing, so that you’re, for all intents and purposes, naked at all times.
This is now the model of gambling that you’ve built for yourself. And when it doesn’t work? Guess you need more muscles. Hit the gym and try again.
This same logic applies to anyone who thinks they succeed because of their looks, humor, money, intelligence, status, fame, whatever. You can see it everywhere – hell, just look at 99.9999% of Instagram celebrities. Money, status, muscles.
They have what they perceive as there thing, and the offer it first. If it doesn’t work, they invest more heavily into it. Get richer, look cooler, be funnier. Keep going all in on that one ‘thing.’
They find the way of gambling that they ‘feel’ (not ‘know’) works and they run with it. And do you know what that makes them?
DATING DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE
Thinking of dating and relationships in terms of gambling is an easy thing to do. It appeals to our desire to rationalize everything. To make everything neat and fit in its box.
We want it to make sense.
But in reality – dating and relationships don’t make sense. They’re messy. They don’t fit into boxes.
What woman ever ends up with the guy who’s historically been ‘her type’? What guy ever ends up being liked by a woman for the reasons he thinks make him great? What relationship isn’t awkward, unpredictable, and fumbled?
None of them.
Why can something that seems, on the outside to work on a logical level, all come crashing down when applied to reality?
Here’s why: Attraction is entirely emotional, and thus entirely irrational. Attraction doesn’t make any sense. It’s an irrational, nonsensical feeling, that comes out of nowhere, and does crazy drug addict shit to the human brain.
In no way is it experienced in a way that can be logically broken down by anything beyond simple, superficial tips. It just doesn’t work that way, no matter how hard you try, and no matter how clearly it seems it does.
Let’s go back to the gambling analogy.
In Poker, you don’t just win by having the right hand and a lot of chips, you win by how you play and how that makes the other person feel.
If you play with a bunch of people who suck – having the right hand and a lot of chips might work for you. As long as your luck doesn’t run out.
But if you play with people who don’t suck, then playing in a way that overly invests in your hand (and thus luck) is going to quickly get you sniffed out by the other players. It won’t take long for them to wipe the floor with you.
How you play and how this makes the other person feel is massive. You can only influence the latter, but you have complete control over the former.
HOW TO NOT SUCK AT DATING
Coming back to dating, this means that you understand that your ‘chips’ aren’t everything. Your looks, money, status, and so on, they aren’t nearly as important as the interaction you’re having with the other person, where you’re coming from, and how you both feel.
This is called not being a creep. And it doesn’t just apply to dating, but to all human interactions.
If your self-esteem is clearly wrapped up in some shallow detail about yourself (‘she’ll like me if she knows I’m famous’) then that’s going to drive a whole bunch of women away who sniff you out as the pathetic chump that you are. It’s a choice that poorly reflects the reality of the dating, and of people in general.
But if your self-esteem is wrapped up more in your feelings and hers (‘do I genuinely like her?’ and ‘is she genuinely into me?’), then it’s going to come across that you know exactly what you’re doing, that you have self-respect and integrity, and you treat yourself well.
Your investment is entirely in the irrational experience of dating, rather than stuck looking at it as some rational puzzle.
This is the dating and relationships equivalent of being that guy at the Poker table who understands emotions enough to send Matt Damon packing on a full house.
Measuring yourself and over investing in certain areas is actually self-limiting, and reflects a warped perspective of yourself and dating. You are never attractive because of X, Y, and Z. You’re attractive because of how the other person feels about you.
Which is always, always connected to how you feel about them.
I hope so… because I don’t even like Poker so I have no idea why I choose this analogy.
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