Change Your Attitude: How Your Mentality Affects Your Love Life

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I’ve noticed something lately. Something surprisingly common, especially amongst geeky guys. Especially among geeky guys who’re trying to get better at dating.

There’s a lot of you venting your frustration about your dating lives, in your letters to me and in the comments on the blog. You’ve been taking my advice. You’re approaching the women you’re interested in. You’re working on your banter. Hell, you’ve been hitting the gym for the first time in forever.

But nothing’s getting better. Friday night’s still the lonliest night of the week and you’re stuck at home, wondering what the hell it is that everyone else has that you don’t.

It’s all bullshit right? Who cares how much you work at “being confident” or not being “the nice guy”, none of it’s ever gonna help. Girls are just gonna keep throwing themselves at assholes and you’re stuck at home while everybody else in the world is having way more sex1  than you ever will.

GAZE INTO YOUR DARK FUTURE!

 

That right there? That’s the problem.

Let’s talk about your attitude.

If you’ve spent any time in the self-help section of a bookstore or were online any time around 2006, you’ll have heard more than you can stand about how your mindset affects your life. Whether it’s Think and Grow Rich to the pseudoscience hokum of The Secret,you undoubtedly have been bombarded with messages about how your mentality and your attitude can affect your success in life.

You know what?

They’re absolutely right.

Now, don’t get me wrong. You’re not gonna cure cancer, win the lottery or sleep with Scarlett Johansson just because you really really want it 2. But your attitude and mentality will make a difference in your life, especially when it comes to your love life.

Y’see, your attitudes and beliefs color everything you do. It affects how you react to rejection. It affects how you respond to criticism. It affects how people see you. It affects how you see yourself.

Let’s look at the attitudes that hold you back… and more importantly, the ones you should have and why.

Negativity Is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Raise your hand (metaphorically speaking) if you’ve ever thought something like this:

“Women don’t like me because I’m too _______”
“Only ______ people get what they want.”
“If I do _______, people will figure out I’m a fake.”
“There’s no point in ________, it’ll never work anyway.”

Any of this sound familiar?

These are what’re known as self-limiting beliefs; ideas that become so entrenched within your sense of self and identity that they’ve become part of you. They’re the little voice in the back of your mind that keeps telling you that nothing you do is going to work and that you may as well learn to settle for your life as it is now, because it’s never going to get any better.

I know that voice pretty damn well. When I was younger, I had a group of friends. As with any group, we all had our roles.

I was “the guy who wasn’t good with girls”. I accepted that identity. It became part of who I was. And because  I believed it, it became true.

Y’see, when you let negative beliefs like these take root, it starts to spread and influence everything. Every interaction I had with women carried the subtext of “It’s ok if you don’t like me. I wouldn’t like me either if I were you.” It showed in my posture – hunched over, compressed, eyes anywhere but on the person I was talking to. It showed in the way I spoke – too quickly, my voice a little higher than my natural register, sounding as though I were pleading rather than speaking. God knows it showed in my attitudes towards women, equal parts desperation and resentment. The few relationships I did have were unhealthy; either I stayed in relationships that had turned toxic because I didn’t think I could do better or spent my entire time consumed with the idea that at any moment I would get the dreaded “We need to talk…” as my girlfriend realized that she could do better.

Negative beliefs and attitudes become self-fulfilling prophesies because when you give into them, you make them come true. You will see everything in a negative light, missing out on opportunities (or not being willing to take advantage of them) and focusing on the bad. You’re perpetually on the look-out for the next shoe to drop or the next thing to go completely wrong. After a while, you become bitter and resentful of everything. It starts to feel like the universe itself conspires against you. And let me tell you, when you’re walking around with a chip on your shoulder and a little black rain cloud following you, you’re going to chase off people who might well have been attracted to you. And when you do, it becomes further evidence that these beliefs are correct and justified, thus reinforcing them and perpetuating the ugly cycle.

Even your language can reflect this mentality. Take the word “try”. “I’m trying to get better.” “I’m trying to get a date.” Trying implies that failure the inevitable result and any success is, at best, a surprise. To quote one respected philosopher and dating coach: “Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’.”

"'Negs'. Pfah. 'Openers.' Heh. A ladies man cares not for these things."

 

The first step is to make yourself aware that you’ve accepted these beliefs, that they’re holding you back and they don’t . You need to break yourself of this mindset, and it can be difficult. The longer you’ve held onto it, the more deeply ingrained it can be. If you have any issues with chronic depression, like I did, you may well need medication to help pull you out enough to start taking control again.

So how do you break the habits of years, or even a lifetime?

Well to start with, you change your physicality. Your body influences the brain. Adopt the posture and bearing of someone who not only attracts women but feels as though he deserves to. As I’ve said before, I am a huge proponent of “fake it until you make it.” Putting on the attitude that you’re awesome and you know it, even when it’s a front at first, will help you start you down the right path. Reframe negative thoughts and ideations; when you find yourself thinking “Women don’t like me because…”, stop and force yourself to change it. “Women do like guys like me because…”

The next step can differ from person to person. There’s no one way to break yourself of these beliefs. You may practice relentless positivity. You may use visualization exercises, picturing your ideal self.  You may repeat affirmations to yourself. You may take outside supporting evidence of a more positive belief and reinforce it with Grant Morrison’s charged sigil exercises. Find one that works for you and run with it. The sooner you break your negative mentality, the better.

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwNVE37BGVE – you’re welcome. []
  2. ‘cuz if that were true, I would’ve beaten all of you to that particular finishing line []

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Comments

  1. this is wonderful advice for men and women!

  2. Funny thing is, this is the kind of advice women get from magazines all the time. The best way to boost your self confidence is to act like you already have it, and the rest will fall into place.

    My husband and I were friends for almost 2 years before we started dating. I never had any interest in him past a friend. Then he magically seemed WAY more attractive. Just one day out of the blue. Nothing had changed about him physically. He looked exactly the way he did the night we met. Only this time he was more confident. He played it cool and I ended up the one asking him to lunch and putting the moves on him.

  3. As a geeky guy struggling with women, it's no surprise that I have issues with the article.

    —————

    A lot of guys who want to get better with women often have issues with validation.They feel an emptiness in their lives and they believe that having more dates, more sex, more girlfriends, more everything that they feel they have been denied will fill it. You see this frequently in the pick-up community; many men feel that if they were better with women, if they were having more sex with the hottest women out there, their lives would be fixed.

    ————

    That describes me perfectly. Though I don't care about getting the hottest women. Just A woman.

    —————–

    I can’t stress this enough: women cannot and will not fill any holes in your life. You will, at best, numb yourself temporarily… and even then, the emptiness will still be there, waiting for you when the afterglow wears off. The holes in your life can only be fixed by sorting out your life. Get your life in order and you bring your locus of control back where it needs to be: within you.

    ———————

    That is something I simply cannot accept simply by reading it. I need to experience it for myself to see if a woman is the answer or not. If a woman is the answer, great I'm fixed. If it's not, great, one more thing checked off my list.

    ————————

    You need to be the source of your own validation, which will in turn, help provide you with that external validation as well. You need to find the zen state where you don’t need the approval of others and the ease and confidence that comes from knowing what you’re worth and you’re worth a whole goddamn lot.

    ——————–

    How is that even possible to achieve? It sounds like something one would only accomplish with drugs, lots of alcohol…… or sex.

    ——————-

    The key, of course, is that these people are self-amusing. Much like with self-validation, these are people who aren’t reliant on others to bring the fun. They’re the ones having fun, regardless of whatever’s going on. They roll into a group of strangers at a party and it doesn’t matter how they react; love him or hate him, either way, he’s still enjoying himself.

    —————–

    Same issue as the one before it. How do you suddenly become that?

    ———————-

    When it comes to dating, the scarcity mentality is poison. The idea that there are only so many women in the world leads guys to focus on the negative; every woman who rejects them is one less in the ever-shrinking pool of available women. This leads to guys putting too much effort and importance on one person; after all, their options are shrinking all of the time. Oneitis is the scarcity mentality taken to it’s extreme; it’s not that there’s a dearth of women, there’s only one and if you don’t land her then you’re destined to die alone and unloved.

    ——————————

    I definitely suffer from oneitis. I'm in the process of getting over a oneitis that lasted almost two years. And it's just another in a long list of unrequited loves.

    What the article doesn't address, is that oneitis happens because it's very rare for a guy like me to find a girl who actually gives a damn about us. Once we do, the last thing we want to do is lose her, because we have no idea if we'll find another.

    So no, women are not scarce. Women who will let me spend time with them are.

    Lots of observation, no solution.

    • Dr. NerdLove says:


      That is something I simply cannot accept simply by reading it. I need to experience it for myself to see if a woman is the answer or not. If a woman is the answer, great I’m fixed. If it’s not, great, one more thing checked off my list.

      Sounds great as long as you're willing to burn a potentially great relationship. You're putting the responsibility for fixing your life on her, which is profoundly unfair and a hell of a lot of pressure besides. This need for someone to fix you is going to come out in your interaction with women; you'll be unconsciously signalling that you're not looking for a partner, you're looking for a nurse. Or a bandage. Nobody wants to feel like they're occupying a space marked "Insert Girlfriend Here". All you're doing is setting yourself up for more disappointment and another case of Oneitis when it doesn't work out.

      You need to solve your own problems; not having a girlfriend isn't a problem, it's a symptom. Sort out your life and when you've found that satisfaction that comes with knowing your life is pretty damned good, the women will come.


      How is that even possible to achieve? It sounds like something one would only accomplish with drugs, lots of alcohol…… or sex.

      By achieving satisfaction with your life. When I first started on my path of getting better with women, I dealt with a lot of surface issues; looks, style, parties, glibness, flash. Everything was designed towards getting laid. And I will tell you: I did pretty damn well. But I also hit the wall pretty fucking hard and started spiraling back into depression really quickly and the drinking and sex were ways of numbing the emptiness inside.

      It wasn't until I started going through my life and systematically fixing it that I really began to improve. I developed a tight core group of friends, I found work I could take pride in, I had some solid goals I could reach towards. I dealt with the little nagging issues that would keep me up at night. It was when I could turn around, look at my life and say "Yeah, I've got it pretty damned good" that things really started to improve. I quit going out to the downtown scene as often as I used to, but I had far more success than I did in my early days.


      Same issue as the one before it. How do you suddenly become that?

      You honestly have no idea how to entertain yourself?

      I definitely suffer from oneitis. I’m in the process of getting over a oneitis that lasted almost two years. And it’s just another in a long list of unrequited loves.

      Do I really need to point out the common denominator here?

      What the article doesn’t address, is that oneitis happens because it’s very rare for a guy like me to find a girl who actually gives a damn about us. Once we do, the last thing we want to do is lose her, because we have no idea if we’ll find another.

      That would be a perfect example of a scarcity mindset, actually.


      So no, women are not scarce. Women who will let me spend time with them are.

      Hate to tell you this, but that's on you, not them.

      You're pretty much demonstrating everything I mentioned in the article about how negativity is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Until you can break yourself out of this funk and start dealing with the actual issues, you're not going to be getting any better.

      • Thank-you pointing out these problems. As a caring, good listening, empathetic lady (who worked hard to push back against a lot of my own negative attitude and insecurity from my younger days), I've attracted my fair share of men who must ultimately have been looking for a woman to fill the emptiness or a nurse. They did seem to be really into "intellectual sorta-geeky but nice and pretty me" at first, but I finally realized they weren't working on all the things about their lives they didn't like, because as long as they had an awesome (so they said) girlfriend…or a lot of admirers/hook-ups… they must be okay! In the last several years I've had both a couple of boyfriends and a few heavy-sexual-tension- nothing-happens flirtbuddies in this vein. I eventually started to feel like I was an interchangeable "attractive enough" woman with all of them.

        I tried to talk about the things that made me unhappy and encourage the boyfriends (and flirtbuddy I knew well enough) to make positive changes to which they argued, "it's just things are bad now, when 'insert-life-circumstance' changes" it will be different". It never was, and I grew more distant, irritated, and lonesome as the relationship/friendship felt like it was usually only me doing the relating/caring. Yet they were all utterly shocked and devastated when I broke up/drifted away.

        Unfortunately this can make us girls and ladies even more cautious, which makes the guys more hesitant, and it's a bad spiral. I've been trying to get to know guys better before I get romantically involved, and as a result have had only one short fling in the last couple of years. Luckily my friends have all found some great guys online/out dancing/active in their community lately, so I'm not giving up!

        My advice to the guys is to spend the bulk of your free time doing a variety of interesting things – over-reliance on any one of drinking, gaming, media, smoking is now a big warning flag for me because they've tended to signal that a guy isn't working on whatever insecurity/issue/unhappy life circumstance is getting him down. And yeah, definitely, if you're willing to put in some consistent effort, you almost always can change the nagging issue!! I know a guy right now who has been doing just that for a while now, and wow does this make him shine and stand out from the rest!

    • Somedude, (which, sidenote, you shouldn't call yourself. if you're just somedude, you're interchangable. People don't want to be in a relationship with someone interchangable. Be uniquedude.)(sidenote: Yes, I know that sounds cheesy) since you're worried about not being able to meet women that would be interested in you, have you tried online dating? If you haven't, you should check out some of the Doc's articles on it. Dating websites are a great way to meet new people.

      http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2011/07/online-datihttp://www.doctornerdlove.com/2011/07/online-dati

      If you have tried it and it didn't work out for you, try these articles.
      http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2011/08/online-datihttp://www.doctornerdlove.com/2011/08/decode-dati

      All of his articles about online dating can be found here.
      http://www.doctornerdlove.com/?cat=24

      Read through them and try it out! If you follow his advice and work at it, you can meet people through there.

    • Dear dude,

      I am about the closest thing there is to that Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope Dr. Nerdlove keeps talking about (a.k.a. Mahou Kanojo, in Japan).

      I am a nerd's nerd. As in, I translate epic literature in my spare time, create my own elaborate fantasy worlds, and have never played a video game in my life. Unusual in particulars, perhaps, but not in form. The whole nerd 'package' is very much oriented toward boys. Women have greater freedom to pick and choose. There is no compulsion to embrace the full field of nerddom.

      I met my First Kiss over my first ever game of Dungeons and Dragons. He had suffered a series of bad relationships and rejections, and he was actually quite timid in approaching me. However, while he was certainly apprehensive, he was genuinely hopeful. And he approached me, directly. Nobody had done that, before. I mean NOBODY. I am quite intimidating, intellectually, among my peers. When other guys liked me, they quietly convinced themselves to be friends with me, and I heard none of it until WELL after I was officially taken. His courage (modest though it was) impressed me. I knew it wasn't easy for him, so I told him outright that I liked him. We have been together four years, now, and are engaged to be married.

      Let me be clear. My fiancé was timid, yes. But his failed relationships had forced him to mature, in other areas of his life. He was an interesting fellow with many close friends. More attractively, he was entirely comfortable with himself, with a serenity about him that puts everyone around him at ease. It was that quiet, understated self-confidence — even though it did not apply to his pursuit of me — that drew me. Unintentional charisma.

      If I had any sense that he was merely approaching me to fill a void in his life, I would have fled. But he had given up on that way of thinking, and he approached me without any preconceived expectations. You write that you cannot accept that a woman is not the answer to your problems, without experiencing it, but you have to understand something. SO LONG AS YOU THINK ABOUT IT THAT WAY, she won't be. I am quite sure I have made my beloved's life considerably nicer. Certainly, his hopes and aspirations are centered around our life together. He hoped to have a stable relationship. He found a wife.

      Please, I beg you! Do not presuppose that women are the answer to your problems, until proven wrong. If you are so uncertain, could turn that around, to not expect women to craft you into a better person until proven otherwise? Even women who WANT to craft you into a worthy person (and they do exist) feel taken for granted when it is EXPECTED of them.

      At the VERY least, you could think of us as something to aspire to, in our own right. I'm sure most women would rather be thought of as muses that inspire self-improvement than as mere means to a selfish end (i.e., your own self-gratification). We had rather be goals than tools. Technically sexist, but it would still be a MAJOR improvement.

      As to happiness, I can assure you that happy people do not drink, smoke, or have sex in order to remain happy. People who do that are trying to distract themselves from their thoughts or their problems, which is EXACTLY what Dr. Nerdlove is warning against.

      If you need better philosophical direction/grounding in this area, I suggest reading Buddhist or Taoist texts. You may need to systematically train yourself to think well. And that means laughing at yourself, without belittling yourself. We are, all of us, rather ridiculous human beings. You are only as woebegone as you believe yourself to be. Be contented. Do not try to build yourself into the tragic hero or the white knight. You are a very silly person with many good qualities, as are we all.

      We are not scarce because you are a lonely disillusioned soul destined for eternal anguish. You are actively driving us away with your attitude. You are saying that you want us and saying that we are a 'rarity'. If you are convinced from the get-go that we are a fantastic life-changing force, you are NOT going to recognize us, when we show up. I guarantee it. Geeks, regardless of gender, come in quirky packages.

      P.S. If you can't imagine finding a quality woman, start by finding quality guy friends. Rising to their level of maturity an confidence can be a lot easier than trying to do the same thing, with the other sex. Not to mention that people judge one another by the company they keep. If your friends are successful, confident, kind people, women will assume that you are the sort of person that successful, confident, kind people like to be around. Which, by that point (assuming you are not being an asshat and simply using them to get at women), you probably will be.

  4. Exactly right. Nobody can save you from yourself. It's a widespread misconception, though- I'm surprised that nobody's registered a dating site called betterthannothing.com. ("We match lonely, desperate people with other pulse-owners in their general location for a lifetime of awkward silences and a total lack of chemistry.") I'd rather live and die alone than deal with that.

    You've given great advice, but remember everyone- sometimes it just doesn't work for people. They do everything right, the men/ women they find do nothing wrong, and it still doesn't happen. It's like healthy living- even people who eat well, exercise and get plenty of sleep sometimes get hit by a bus at 25. Things aren't always fair. It's not right to resent other people because you have a bad attitude, and it's not right to resent them because you have bad luck.

    • I'm assuming it's because that anyone with any measure of self respect, no matter how small, would not want that. I've never met any people like that, though I'm sure they're out there.

    • There was a great sketch on Mad TV years ago called Lowered Expectations where it was a dating service for completely unmatchable people. Some of the characters were pretty damned funny.

  5. Thanks doc

  6. Great advice. I know I am guilty of the scarcity and negativity at times. I am about to enter field training and have that same anxiety of "will I mess up?". You echoed what our instructors have said: fake it until you do have the confidence in yourself and your abilities. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Have to admit I agree with pretty much everything "somedude" posted.

    I guess it's a bit too hard to try and see things on the bright side when your life up to now seems full of downsides and failures, while people around yourself seem to have more success than you ever hope to achieve.

    It's not that I haven't tried anything, is just that after trying from therapists to working out to dating sites (no one seems to answer me more than 3 times and e-harmony apparently can't find a good match). Heck, I even tried ***** hypnosis! I wish I was joking about that last one.

    I really reached a point where I've accepted that I'm just not gonna be able to get a girl or whatever simply because I'm not what anyone seems to be looking for, or at least that the percentage of girls that would be willing to date me is small enough to be considered null. I look at myself at the mirror and see how unattractive I am, then look at the piles of manga on a corner of the room, realize how I – really – prefer to stay home enjoying my nerd things over going out to any place and say "Yep. No girl out there for me, and if there is one, I'm not going out to meet her anyways…so whatever."

    I agree with you when you say that this kind of mentality is bad, but I guess you sorta have to admit it's a tad hard to just look at yourself, look how much you've failed, realize that twenty something years later and the only girl that ever said "I love you" is your mom and then just say "You know what? Screw all the clear evidence all over your life that says 'you're screwed', and let's ride on the positive thinking waves!". Sorry, things just don't work like that, and I fail to see how "pretending you're awesome" when you clearly aren't will help at all (or if I am even able to do that). It's the kind of thing that seems very good on paper and I'm sure that for some people it can work, but I just can't see it working out for me.

    PS: I actually bought "The Secret" and to this day I want my money back.

    • You are looking at yourself completely negatively, so it would be naturally impossible for you to see how any of this could work. Positive thinking is not a joke, and I would be willing to argue that it can work for nearly everyone. It's not easy, and it doesn't happen overnight. I don't know you or your situation beyond what you've said, but you said yourself you've 'accepted' that you won't be getting a girl. That stems from the fact that you think you've failed, which you also said.

      Who said you are a failure? Because you don't have a girlfriend? I've had one real girlfriend in my life and far more limited sexual experience than I would prefer to have had, but that doesn't make me a failure. And, I nearly flunked out of college, then tried to restart TWICE and still failed all my classes. That didn't make me a failure (technically, it did – but in the grand scheme of things, I mean). Of course, that second attempt (and subsequent failure) to restart college also coincided with that relationship ending, which combined shattered all self confidence I had ever had. Those were some rough months for me. And I can't say that I suffered from depression like many people do, so I don't know what it's like for other people. But I couldn't rely on anyone for help, and I had to fix things myself. I got a new job, stopped trying to go to college until I was ready, and went to India to volunteer my time. And suddenly things started looking just a little bit better. In a year I had completely changed how I felt about myself. Now it's a year and a few months after that trip to India (where I really discovered who I was), and I'm back in college on the Dean's list and on the verge of starting a new relationship (in no small part thanks to Dr. Nerdlove, here).

      It all started with me wanting so badly to be better that I simple refused to accept that I couldn't. I have told myself so many times that I know I will be a catch for any woman who does go out with me. At first, I was just guessing. I was thinking that I could be a good boyfriend, and hoping it was true. But now I really believe, because I know it is true. You have to be willing to have some faith in yourself to do the right thing. And when you royally screw things up, you have to be able to try again. Resilience will breed success, eventually. And it is going to take time and it is going to hurt. But, twenty years from now that pain won't linger if you've fixed yourself.

      • That's a fantastic example of exactly what you can accomplish if you give yourself permission to throw caution to the wind, and make the changes you want to make! Good for you, Anthony! :)

    • Robert Squirrel says:

      Here's the problem; everything you're doing is still aimed squarely at "meeting someone", so when it doesn't work as expected, it's easy to get hopeless. The Doc's advice only really works if you open yourself up to EVERYTHING, not just situations that might lead to relationships.

      When I finally figured this out — 25 yrs old, never even had a single date, and feeling pretty similarly to the way you do now — there was still a LOT of work to do before I saw results. Audited college classes, took Kung Fu, started going to shows just for the sake of going to shows, took bar-tending classes, joined a D&D group, went to genre film festivals & various nerd conventions, worked in customer service jobs… Sometimes I got depressed, of course, but ultimately my life WAS fundamentally better and more interesting than before.

      And of all things, what led to my current (6 year) relationship was the D&D group, through 3-5 other intervening steps (friend of a friend of a friend). Didn't go into it expecting anything like that, but if I hadn't started it, I might still be alone now. And along the way one of my close friends married one of my coworkers (they met through me).

      But I still sometimes feel alone, even though my girlfriend is totally awesome. Mr "somedude" is dubious; however, the most painful parts of my life have mostly come *because* I was opening myself up like that. Helpful hint: as much as you might feel that you life would be better if you had a girlfriend, if that girlfriend has borderline disorder and intentionally drinks alcohol to screw with her medication, you're probably better off alone.

      Ultimately, the lesson is: making your life more interesting is its own reward. Go in with no expectations, and just try to meet people without any ulterior motives. You might just end up with a buddy to play Call of Duty with, but that's still more than you had before. And that buddy might have a sister who might be taking yoga classes with someone who's in a band, and when you go to that band's shows you might end up meeting one of their other friends and getting invited to a party where you end up bonding with a friendly girl over how bad the band was. And then she might set you up on a blind date with her best friend who's a bit overweight but who likes all the same things you do, and then 6 years later you're getting married and it was all because of Call of Duty.

      But you HAVE to be okay with none of that happening. Because otherwise you are GUARANTEED to lose hope and give up. It's super hard, but it's worth it.

    • Ashley, don't give up on online dating yet! Check the doc's articles on it. Try OKCupid (it's free, so there's no financial pressure) and if you've had several e-mails back and forth and are interested, ask him/her out already! If the conversation only stays online, you'll never get on a date. Yes, if you ask, the person may say no, but hey, then you don't have to keep messaging back and forth and can start working on meeting someone else.

      • Well, I still login on OkCupid almost daily, pretty much just to see if the one girl that actually replied more than once has finally replied my last message (been almost one month, so I guess it won't happen); I gotta admit I'm pretty picky when it comes to choosing who to try talking to, I pretty much already "rejected" almost everyone thats been active recently and close to me, and it doesn't really seem to have a good influx of new users around my area. Then, the other few girls I've actually messaged won't really send me a reply, and I don't really want to go all desperate and try sending more messages to see if they answer those.

        There are plenty of fun tests and I kinda like answering those random questions when I'm bored, meh.

        • It is worth asking where do you live? Because if you live in a relativelysmall community you wikl have far fewer options. I don't know how much mobility you have, but I would recommend moving to or near a city. What once may have felt like hopelessly limited options, not just for women but for everything, will turn into the exact opposite. And there might be fear moving to a new place, but just like everything else: work hard and keep trying to meet people and eventually things will be as you want them to be.

          • I'm actually in a pretty big city, but I'm not American. Well, I actually am American……South…American.

            Now, you may wonder "what are you doing in an american dating site, then?". Well, there's quite a few people using okcupid (Just not a huge influx of new users, like I've mentioned) and OKCupid is far, far better than the dating sites we have around here, which explains why there are plenty of people using it.

            Trust me, I tried a few of the options around here, and they suck a lot, even the paid ones. Here's I hoping OkCupid realizes it's somewhat famous over these parts and try making a version for us. I know E-Harmony did.

  8. I really enjoyed this post, it is easy to see these things in others sometimes, but not myself. I realized last year that I have a weird vibe when I'm out in public. I am so self-conscious that I'm pretty sure I give off, I'm a bitch, don't talk to me vibes. I try not to seem that way, but my "normal" face of just being alive isn't very smiley at all.

    I am so guilty of not realizing that guys might be trying to show interest because I'm so not expecting it, that I kind of just blow it off. I always feel bad after I realized what has just happened and that the drink I turned down, or the conversation someone tried to start might have been someone trying to show some interest, so that when I complain that guys never talk to me that I might have been a big part of that problem.

    Though it is hard to change some defense walls as a result of pretty much being shut down by guys through high school and college when I tried to show interest. Now I avoid it even if I am attracted because I don't want to be some weird chick that is trying to talk to someone who isn't interest.

    I appreciate your insight, many thanks :)

  9. MetalGearNerd says:

    I recognise myself completly in the article. I suffer from all the bad mindsets mentioned, and I have been aware of that fact for some time now. The problem is that being aware does not change them and I seem to have no control over these thoughts/emotions. They seem detached from my normal internal logic and rational thoughts cannot reach them (i hope this makes sense). And I do feel like I need some kind of external validation to get some selfesteem about this issue. I really need some concreet steps to be able to change these mindsets, because knowing what mindsets limit my life and what to change them into, only seems to give me more frustration, because it is something I feel like I have no power/control over. I hope you will publish an article about how to change these mindsets, not just identify them, and present the alternatives.

    • Check out the book Feeling Good by David Burns. Unlike a lot of self-help books, it's not a book of airy-fairy advice. It's all about various rational tools you can use to talk back to and dismantle the negative self-talk that keeps us down.

    • Here's what I did when I was getting over my negative, geek girl, "I will never find anyone!" rhetoric.

      Focus on the things about yourself that are actually pretty cool. Can you knit an quirky hat? Code CSS? Cobble together a bad ass/amusing/original DnD character? Write essays picking apart and analyzing the elements of the story arcs in your preferred media (movies, comics, books, whatever)? Draw pictures? Run a website? Insert your amusement/skill du jour here, no matter how random they may be.

      These are cool things that you can do. These are some worthwhile things that make you interesting. Yeah, they may be niche, but you're not the only niche person out there.

      Now pick out some physical attributes. You're not allowed to focus on those imperfect things that annoy you. Forget those. You think about them enough, believe me, we all do. But if you have eyes of a nice color, or hair with an interesting curl to it, or nice hands, or a little quirk to your mouth when you smile or [insert quality that could be considered pleasing] focus on that. Do not think there is nothing, because there is at least one aspect of everyone that is attractive. Focus on yours.

      Now, what personality plusses do you have? Are you a good listener? Intuitive? Friendly? Frank? Funny? Other adjective that begins with F? Focus on that.

      Now, here's the trick: do not worry about whether someone else notices these things. They may or they may not, but you can do nothing about other people. What you do have is agency over yourself. If you pick little things to like about yourself, and get in the habit of recognizing them… guess what? You're trucking along the path to self-validation. And when you like yourself, a lot of the rest starts to fall away.

      I know it sounds hokey, but this is what worked for me. Latching on to little concrete positive points helped put me on a path to liking myself more than berating myself for not measuring up to a standard of my own imposition. And once I reached that point (and stopped focusing on a relationship as something I neeeeded) a relationship came along. It didn't last, mind you, but it was my first. And once it did end I was confident enough in myself not to be devastated when it did end.

      (Disclaimer: I'm not saying this is how things would work out for all. Just saying this is what worked for me.)

      • Thank you for the advice. I am really trying this positive approach, but it is just so damn hard and I have yet to succeed seeing things in a more positive light. But I will continue to try.

        Marth/MetalGearNerd

    • Just so you al know, I am the same guy as Marth later on in the comments. I thought this post didn't get posted but I guess it did. Thanks Derek for posting your advice twice

      MetalGearNerd/Marth

    • Also do acknowledge your negative feelings, don't try to just quash them. Try and recognise them for what they really are. Anger is often a mix of hurt and fear. Despair is often some kind of mix of hurt, fear and sadness. Acknowledge what it is that you're afraid of. Allow yourself to know that this is something that you fear or this is something that hurts you. Ultimately, it'll help you see what it is that's important to you. And then you can find times when that fear was invalidated. You're despairing because you're afraid of rejection and hurt by past experiences? Well there was that one girl who flirted with you a bit on the bus, the one who shyly gave you glances and didn't dare get up to talk to you because she was too shy, the friends who have stood by you… If your friends stand by you, it's because they see something in you. That's a validation right there!

      • Thank for your reply.

        I am currently a bit afraid of going to deep into negative feelings since I am quite depressed and I dont want to sink any further.

        About the validation from friends.

        I do have a good amount of friends and a couple of really good ones.

        But they like me in a platonic way (not that I want them to feel any different, just to clarify).

        My main insecurity is that women dont find me attractive as a potential mate.

        That seems like a different thing.

        I mean, I like lots of people who I am not attracted to in that way.

        That is why I have difficulty using that as validation.

  10. Great article, Doc. Though a bit more practical advice might be helpful for the real sadsacks out there.

    I think this is another one of those areas where Hollywood and pop-culture in general have a lot to answer for. I've seen the hopelessly depressed antisocial guy being saved by the impossibly perfect girl be presented to me as the very height of romance so many times it makes me sick.

    Question: do you think it's a good idea for people trying to turn their attitude around (as I am very much trying to do) to avoid certain types of movies or music that might fuel their negativity? I mean, I love Horror (both film and literature) but it doesn't exactly make me want to skip down the street humming "sunshine, lollipops and rainbows".

    Also, I like Swingers, but positivity or no, I have to say that I don't ever see myself becoming a guy like Trent. If only for the fact that I've got asperger's syndrome (though you wouldn't immediately say so if you met me, I'm 22 and I was diagnosed this past year) and am therefore always going to be a thinker before anything else (and that's really not a question of attitude, it's just what I am). Are there any other characters from movies you can name that serve as good examples of a positive attitude at work?

    On another note: do you ever plan on doing a "Learn from this" on either "Blue Valentine" or "Revolutionary Road" because those two seem like good examples of the "falling in love will fix my life" attitude gone horribly wrong.

    • I misread that last sentence as "Blue Velvet" and thought "What else is there to say other than 'Don't sleep with Dennis Hopper's woman' and 'Drink more Pabst Blue Ribbon'?"

    • "I think this is another one of those areas where Hollywood and pop-culture in general have a lot to answer for. I’ve seen the hopelessly depressed antisocial guy being saved by the impossibly perfect girl be presented to me as the very height of romance so many times it makes me sick."

      You know who writes those movies? Other sad sacks for the sole purposes of wish fulfillment. Relying on Hollywood stories is an awesome way to set yourself up for failure if only for the fact that it sets up unrealistic expectations.

      I think a good way to introduce positivity into your life is just to find something you love to do and then do it, like a hobby. Do you play a musical instrument? Love to read books? Love to cook exotic cuisine? I love to draw and create artwork, so I most often do that in my spare time. In fact, the times when I'm most unhappy are when I cannot create art or be with the people I care about. Illustrating has become a big lynchpin for me when it comes to making. I attend meetups for art and comics. I make friends. I impart wisdom on my techniques and I truly believe that this community has made me stronger and better.

      If you are curious about trying something new or getting into a new hobby, it's okay to start off as a newbie for a while and ask for help getting started. People can be pretty supportive of newcomers as long as they have the right attitude.

      You just have to build your own light from within doing what you love. People will be attracted to that light. I promise you.

  11. First of all, thanks you for this site and the advice offered on it. This article is both a big feast of recognition as well as a bit of a source of frustration. Let me try to explain. I recognise all of the bad mindsets presented in the article (and have identified them for a while now), and admit the are a big part of my problem. However, this rational knowledge is not enough to change the mindsets. It just seems like my irrational (negative) thougths are completely disconnected from my rational thinking.What is could really use is advice on how to change those mindsets. It is frustrating to alway read what thoughts of mine are bad and what they should be changed to, but feel powerless to make these changes. I hope you can offer some tips on this (maybe a follow up article?). Thanks in advance!

    • I've dealt with this sort of thing myself. You've basically got to be aware of when you start mentally badmouthing yourself. When you recognize that one of those negative tapes is on an infinite loop in your head, stop for a second and think: "If some random stranger on the street came up and said this to me, would I take their crap? FUCK NO! So, I shouldn't take crap from myself, either!" And then, change the tape in your head. Replace it with positive thoughts and plans to make yourself into the sort of person that you really want to be.

      ls this easy? No. Is it going to take time? Yes. It's going to take focused effort. It's basically a matter of rewiring your mental pathways, literally creating new circuits in your brain. It will probably take months, but it's more than worth it.

      Force yourself, if you have to. It's kind of like the "fake it until you make it" idea, but it's completely in your own head. It doesn't cost any money. It just takes effort.

    • I will give the same advice I gave above:

      Check out the book Feeling Good by David Burns. Unlike a lot of self-help books, it's not a book of airy-fairy advice. It's all about various rational tools you can use to talk back to and dismantle the negative self-talk that keeps us downloaded.

      This book gives concrete steps, not just useful notions. It helped me.

      • Thank you. I will look into that. I already tried some self esteem book, and repeated endless affirmations and other excersizes but it does not seem to help. Maybe this book will offer good suggestions on how to change my thoughts.

  12. Can I say something about "Oneitis?"

    As a girl, I do not want to be "The One." I've been "The One," and it's actually a really negative experience. You tend to think that putting a woman up on a pedestal, believing that she's perfect, and that she's your "true love" is something that she wants to *be* just as badly as it's something you want to *have.* It's not.

    Think about it: You've put unrealistic expectations on someone, but couched them in positive, romantic terms. As "The One" you are responsible for the emotional fulfillment of your partner, 100%. Nobody can love them the way you do and, conversely, nobody can love you, "The One," the way that your partner does. Can you see where this is going? "The One" starts to feel like she's trapped. She's obligated to stay and love you because Nobody Else In The World Can. So, what happens when "The One" realizes that she's not happy with you, but she believes she's responsible for your emotional well-being? Chances are she sticks around out of a feeling of obligation, while the love has long been gone. What kind of a relationship is that? A completely unhealthy one. In the worst case scenario, it becomes obsessive and stalky. Eventually, if she has a shred of self-respect and self-worth left, she's going to leave.

    I've been approached at a bar and, after three minutes of conversation, been told that I was the guy's "dream girl," and that I was "perfect." It sent me running (politely) in the other direction. Having been a victim of "Oneitis," it was the last thing I ever wanted to hear from a guy. It's a total red flag for me, and it should be for you as well.

    Being "The One" is not romantic. It is not healthy. It is not realistic. I don't want to be The One. I want to be myself.

  13. Boatloads says:

    Dr. NerdLove does it again. And I've been told similar things before about my attitude (as well as read it through various advice columns), so this just reaffirms the idea that if you want men/women to want to be around you, you need to start being someone they want to be around.

  14. What I still kinda miss in the article is that you don't only should do this to get a girlfriend!

    Can't mention this enough, you should do it at first line for yourself! Maybe getting known and being more interesting to girls is a nice side effect, but it SHOULD NOT be the main motivation for you to change your life!

    I am myself currently in the proccess of changing my life and making it more interesting, and I needed a quite long time to find out that I should not only thinking of getting a girlfriend by changing my life, I should do this because I myself want to get more interesting! I want to advance my horizon, I want to get into some sports again, and I want to do this all for my life.

    If you start thinking 'I'm going to the gym each day, to get more attractive to women." or "I'm making this new exciting hobby to have better talk with woman about what I do." then stop there immediately!

    It will take away the fun from these new changes in your life, you will get only more frustrated and depressed if a woman rejects you, because you will think you changed your whole life only to get rejected anyway!

    That is a very wrong thinking a lot of people have "I will now start to do this and that to get better with woman." is the WORST approach to this, better say to yourself "I do this for me to achieve experience in that area!".

    Yes, you change your life and get new hobbies, but do it for you, not to only get laid.

    (Don't know if I am allowed myself to talk so convinced of it here, cause I am myself still planning out some changes, but I can tell that doing new stuff only for the sake of meeting women will get you even more depressed)

  15. For those of you looking for practical advice in changing your attitude, look at DNL's earlier articles.

  16. On "trying", I much prefer this picture: http://blag.esotericsystems.at/igor/says/try – a nerd-sniper to boot.

    On validation: http://abstrusegoose.com/279 – the comic is great and the video is the most wonderful short film I've seen in years and I love to rewatch it every now and then.

    @Laura: Subnormality has taken two attempts on this: http://www.viruscomix.com/page498.html and http://www.viruscomix.com/page549.html
    Btw, you ALL should all read ALL of Winston Rowntree's wonderful comics (full of WALLS OF TEXT) – he addresses a lot of issues the good Doctor does. Or at least beautifully illustrates the symptoms many in the comments and the letters exhibit. And by illustrate, I mean make fun of, often in a dark way.

    @Marth: You see, the funny thing about a depressed brain is that it's *your* brain. If it tells you that you're shit, you're gonna believe it, because, it's your brain telling you – how could it not be true? If you're *really* depressed, get professional help. DrNerdLove is not a real doctor.

    Now, changing an attitude internalized over years or decades is a little bit like changing a habit. First you have to recognize it's there and that it's bugging you — or perhaps your friends will tell you. And then you have to actively work on getting rid of it. With habits it takes around three months – and I made the experience that with attitude it's similar. When you're trying to change habits or attitudes there will always be set backs. I remember when I tried to fix my sleep schedule: The first week went splendid, then the second week just completely screwed me. I was jet-lagged 24/7.

    Once you're past the tipping point, I recommend reflecting, and seeing if this new you is actually somebody you still like. — Oh, and there we go! I actually left out the most important part, because @Lyla described it so beautifully: First, you have to be okay with yourself. — You cannot change yourself, because you hate yourself. But you can change little aspects of yourself, because you like yourself.

    @Floris: Joey Comeau is Into Survival: http://intosurvival.blogspot.com/ — among many other things, but he's the epitome of fun loving skipping down the street while singing kind of dude.

    @Cat: re taking crap from you brain: I gave my former girlfriend who was bi-polar that exact same advise, but it wasn't very fruitful. Worked much better for me — but hey, I'm "just" suffering depression.

    Aaand, I think I'm done for today.

  17. ConspiracyTruth says:

    My story is quite a bit different from the Doctor’s but may work for those who insist on an external locus of control. There is a song that I have come to look to as something meaningful to my life that may fit this discussion, discovered by accident. It is "Hopeless Bleak Despair" by They Might Be Giants. Specifically the line:

    “For years and years I wandered the Earth, until I died and went to hell.

    But my despair had ascended to heaven, that's how I finally got rid of it.”

    May sound like a confusing mess to some but a few years back I nearly died. I should have died, by all accounts. I had a genetic disorder that has killed every guy in my family around the age of thirty but I discovered that in 1996 they had devised a treatment for it (almost too late to save me, but a smarter doctor I had suddenly called it and found the treatment in time) and I was saved from it through six stomach operations and other nasty, painful treatments.

    My locus of control has always been exterior but it has always been negative. Nowadays, my locus of control is still on the exterior but positive. I thought about it and began to feel like I was meant for something greater. What are the chances that I, of my entire family line, would be the one to survive? Perhaps it is just chance but I feel there is something more there, for better or worse. Now I live my life in that way. Anywhere I am I try to find pleasure in the little things – a sunny day, the way a parking space is painted, the flowers on the path I walk at work, even finding pleasure in the presence of children when they used to annoy me. I literally walk with no fear or worry because I now feel that there is more to predestination than I ever used to think.

    The whole "God never gives you a bigger cross than you can bear" thing is a big comfort and takes a lot of responsibility for your failings off of your shoulders. While mine is less Christian focused, my views are now largely the same. I act in accordance with my whims and heart and if I fail, I will learn from that since it is all part of some greater weave, and if I succeed, great, since either way it was unavoidable. I am where I am supposed to be at any given point which frees me up and lets me either learn from or have fun with any given situation.

    I can't say if it would work for others, especially the more skeptical of such things, but it works for me. Oddly, now that I am not looking for women I suddenly have a few that seem interested in me at school.

    Not to disagree with the writer as his points are all good, just offering my personal experience as supplemental. Ultimately, what makes you happy maybe a bit different but outlook seems to be a unifying factor. If your outlook is negative then you give off a negative energy.

    • ConspiracyTruth says:

      "My locus of control has always been exterior but it has always been negative. "

      This line should read "My locus of control has always been internal and was always negative." I generally assumed if I failed it was because I was stupid or an unfit human being and it reflected in my attitude. By switching it to an external focus, I shrugged the weight of the world off my shoulders and absolved myself of failings. Rather than focus on me being a failure when I failed, I look at failure as a predestined lesson from the universe – something just meant to be.

  18. Good one.

  19. gianniphilosopher says:

    guys remember: if you are not happy alone, u will not be happy in a relationship

  20. Basically what Dr. Nerd Love is asking people to do is have faith, in spite of what may be a lifetime of experiences that run contrary to the message of hope he is preaching. Yes, self-fulfilling prophecy etc etc., no news there, but a lot of people (myself for instance) have a high threshold for mouldering depression, unhappiness, etc., and there is no rock-bottom in sight that will suddenly transform that faith into a do-or-die necessity. No rupture, no crisis, no rebirth, no renaissance. Not to mention that the kind of people who work to change themselves in this way (transform their thinking) come off as (is this a fair criticism?) deliberately self-delusional, irrational, self-help book manipulated happiness clones. What about neurochemistry? Solidified thought processes? Physical handicaps that could only be changed with thousands and thousands of dollars in cosmetic surgery? And most importantly to me, what about the fear that comes with abandoning everything you have come to see as constituting your identity, to chase the ready-made, self-help guru promise of the power of positive thinking?

  21. Also something I think about often, and I wonder how other people deal with this–problems in the world today: Syria, global warming, Mali, sex trafficking, the high-hell of American politics, public manipulation by the media, etc etc. All these issues I take very seriously, and my awareness and interest in following these things as an internationally minded social and political activist contributes greatly to my overall negativity (or my long-time negativity and cynicism leads me to engage with these problems; whichever), reinforcing my depression. Do you more positive people out there just avoid thinking about these issues? Turn a blind eye to politics, to global warming? Are any of you able to be positive thinkers while engaging daily with the class-based inequalities of our society, global warming, etc? In short, one obstacle to me aiming to be a more positive person is my sense that it might require to avoid engaging with these issues–is this an inaccurate view?

    • I realize how delayed this is, but in case someone happens to see it, here goes!

      As a positive thinker, I have often struggled with keeping up on the news and politics. As a deep thinker and idealist, it has become increasingly important to me to maintain an active state in political thinking and influence. The only way our world will get better is through people like us, negative or positive thinking people, people who care.

      If it is too overwhelming to be aware of (and depressed by) every thing out there that is horrible, find a cause you are especially passionate about and focus on that! I had to pull back on my awareness of global distress because it made me feel helpless. I have another passion for the sad state of education and resources for children and parents in our country, and that is something I saw an opportunity to help. In my small way, I believe I can make a big difference. Even touching just one life here: helping a child by volunteering tutoring, organizing a class for parents, delivering Thanksgiving meals to families in need…Might not seem like it’s making a dent, but it’s what I can do. I can’t go overseas and help with genocide or starvation or health issues on a global level. However, I can write to my congressmen and I can do what I can locally to help those around me. There are SO many non-profits that are making a real difference. I encourage you to find one you like and help out! Giving to others of your time and resources is a great place to start on the road to positivity!

      My main motivation in helping where I can: I was once a lonely, insecure kid who was reached out to. There was a woman who volunteered and she was single and 40. She spent her spare time volunteering for a multitude of programs, internationally focused and locally focused. Due in large part to her attention and care for me in a vulnerable time in my life, I came to grow in confidence and see that my time was worth so much more than my physical appearance or even my own perception of my talents.

      If all that sounds too happy-go-lucky for you, try this: If you focus on yourself, you will be miserable! Selfishness does that. If you focus on others and give what you can, try to be loving and generous with your good opinion, it is pretty hard to stay bitter and lonely. Get up off your butt and make a difference!

  22. Not a bad article on I'm ok, you're ok, or positive versus negative. With that said, this article could have been proof read and some of the reference to the sexual diminished. There is also too much profanity — a great self help article should not need the crude.

    There is one short reference to depression and the need for meds to lift it before proceeding on with a more positive posture. Having skipped over this so lightly paints an overly bright picture for the many who have faced life long depressions accompanied by personality disorders, manias, phobias, heartbreaks, and other self feeding mental conditions. All the meds in the world will not set these people completely free of the devils that haunt their ability to just cope. Yes, some of this can be masked, by a few, but it only is a mask that can at times become so transparent that others see through to the revealed Dorian Gray inside.

    May God help all of us who trip more than we skip.

  23. KiraFromDNMUHAHA says:

    geeky bros my advice is this, only one ****ing mindset.
    "I know I'm awesome, who gives a **** what others think"
    then with this mindset you go out and you do exercises
    to actually deal with your social anxiety.
    Force yourself to ask 10 women for the time.
    Say hello (for no reason at all) to 10 women you pass by and just keep walking
    ask for directions for whatever X times
    compliment a woman about something totally random X times
    etc etc…

    this will teach your brain to not really give a **** what other people think, everybody is anyway only concerned about themselves. Bad responses from women teach your brain "hey bro nothing happened we're ok"
    women are attracted to confidence, every idiot outs there saying it, if you think it's only looks they want just really research women's opinion about attraction to men on Google that's what I did.

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