One of the things that sends people looking for dating advice online is trying to make the already stressful process of dating easier. Everybody’s always looking for the silver bullet, the magical process that will transform you from nerd to natural instantly and bring sex swimming to your door without effort… and unfortunately, it doesn’t exist.
If you held a gun to my head and demanded to know one single thing that would make dating easier, it’d be easy:
Embrace the Friend Zone.
I’m completely serious. You want to make dating easier? Increase the size of your social circle.
All too often when I hear people complain about the Friend Zone, they say “I don’t want friends, I want a girlfriend!” This is an incredibly short-sighted view of relationships; true players don’t fear the Friend Zone, they welcome it. They know that when it comes to dating having a good friend – expanding your social circle – is one of the best things you can do. Most people looking for dating advice online are often looking for information on making a cold approach and completely neglecting the possibilities offered by widening your social circle beyond the people you know already.
The Power of the Networking
People who want to get good at dating are best served by learning how to be social. Your social circle – your circle of friends and acquaintances - is possibly the best resource you have for meeting new and awesome people. Too often, I see people who don’t look beyond their immediate friends, never realizing that your friends represent networking potential as well as companionship and camaraderie. Your friends don’t just represent fellowship or your family-by-choice, they also represent access to other people whom you may very well want to meet.
Networking is an often neglected skill when it comes to dating. Most of us understand the value of networking and making a wide – if possibly shallow- circle of social connections in hopes of discovering or expanding job or business opportunities, but very rarely do we treat our social lives the same way. People who are outside of our immediate social circle are often treated almost as an impediment - someone who’s presence is a distraction or an annoyance rather than a potentially valuable new contact. After all, social circles expand exponentially; your immediate circle may be only five or six people, but they also have circles of five or six… or more. The more people you have in your social circle, the more people you potentially have access to.
This isn’t to say that you should only be getting to know people solely so that you can expand your circle and thus have more women to approach; people aren’t stupid and they’ll recognize a user right away and nobody is going to be interested in introducing the new guy to their friends if it’s clear that he’s only looking to get laid.
You want to be social because getting to know more people is fun and offers you the opportunity to meet awesome people who you might not otherwise have gotten to know. Thanks to broadening my social circle, I’ve been hired for jobs I never would have even known about, discovered new and amazing people, landed a place on my favorite podcast… and it made it much easier for me to meet and date some incredible women I might never have met otherwise… or who might never have given me the time of day.
Warm Approach Vs. Cold Approach
Y’see, there are two methods of approaching women: you can approach complete strangers – also known as “cold approach”… or you can meet people through mutual friends and shared communities – essentially, people with whom you already have a social connection.
Let’s take a quick exploration of the terms.
Warm approach refers to approaching someone you have an acquaintance with or some other form of social contact. You may have a mutual friend in common or work for the same company. You may both be members of the same community or organization, you may both be students at the same university… you have some degree of connection with one another that establishes while you may not know each other well, you’re not exactly strangers. As such, there’s a certain level of comfort pre-established; you have been vetted to a limited extent, which means that you won’t have to work as hard to build up trust. You have an instant commonality with which to build rapport: you’re both friends with $NAME or you both play Dungeons and Dragons or Cards Against Humanity or you are both students at WhatsaMatta U, as well as an automatic “in” for starting a conversation. Warm approaches are usually less stressful for the approacher, since both parties are at least somewhat familiar with one another to start with.
Approaching a stranger, usually with the intent of starting a romantic or sexual relationship, is called “cold approach”. This can be intimidatingly difficult – approaching someone cold means that you have to know how to generate trust and build rapport very quickly while generating physical attraction and finding commonalities. This can be difficult, especially if you’re not naturally gifted with charisma or are on the socially inexperienced side of the spectrum. You need to learn to be able to process information rapidly and respond quickly and appropriately. It’s a skill that requires practice and study, and it can take a while to get good… and it’s also a skill that is highly prized. Most people who get into pick-up culture are looking to improve their skill at cold approach; they want to learn how to strike up a conversation with anyone at any time, whether it’s the cute waitress at lunch, the attractive co-ed walking her dog in the afternoon or the sultry woman at the bar in the little black dress.
The Benefits of A Warm Approach
Warm approaches are often easier and less stressful than cold approaches – after all, it’s easier to start a conversation with someone you already know tangentially rather than working up your courage to try to strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never talked to in your life.
You’re also more likely to get better results – by virtue of having friends in common, you have been pre-vetted; presumably your mutual friend wouldn’t like either of you if you weren’t cool in some way.
Even better though: the odds are good that your potential date already knows a little about you. She may have seen you at a the same parties as your friend or taking part in the same community. She may have seen that the two of you share similar interests. Having seen you before – or having heard about you from her friend – means she will be more aware of your good qualities, which will carry more weight than if you try to show off or even brag a little.
All of these little things add up quickly and accelerate the rapport-building… after all, you already have so much in common. Feeling as though she knows a little about you will help make her feel more comfortable with you and more interested in getting to know you better.
Warm approaches also lessen the chance that you’re going to get rejected immediately. The fact that you’re an at least semi-familiar face is going to make her be more willing to give you a chance to make a positive impression – after all, if you’re friends with her friend, she should be at least a little curious about you. In addition, you’re less likely to be interrupted – either by her friends swooping in to pull her away, or by other guys who might be trying to make a cold approach; as a friend of a friend, she’s much more likely to prefer to continue talking to you rather than the guy moving in to hit on her in the middle of a conversation.
Warm approaches will also make it easier to get a number, one where she is much more likely to respond, rather than to use her voice mail and caller ID to filter you out.
Best of all however, is how versitile meeting someone via a warm approach can be; even if neither of you is particularly interested in dating the other, you’ve just expanded your social circle exponentially… which you can now use to your benefit.
So Why Cold Approach At All?
After reading that long list of benefits, some people will now be asking: “so why the hell would I want to cold approach anyone at all if warm approaches are so much easier?”
To start with: not every person you’re attracted to or want to get to know is going to be within your six-degrees-of-separation circle1. There will inevitably be some hottie you meet purely by chance; if you aren’t able to approach them cold, you risk missing out on getting to know them.
For another: being able to approach strangers and befriend them is a valuable skill to have under any circumstances. You’re not always going to have that social circle to rely on – you may move, friends may drift away… shit happens. Being able to cold-approach strangers is a good way of rebuilding that social circle from scratch.
And, most importantly: mastering a difficult skill makes the related skills even easier. If you’re able to convince a total stranger that he or she should be attracted to you but should go on a date or go home with you, imagine how much easier it will be with someone you already have a social connection to.
Successful Approaching Via Mutual Awesomeness
One of the keys to increasing your social circle – and thus having greater opportunities to make a warm approach – is to be someone who is interesting and fun. You want your friends – and by extension, their friends – to want to introduce you to other people; they’re not going going to want to introduce someone who is only going to suck the life out of the room with their shitty attitude, closed off body language and outlook on life that makes Eeyore the life of the party by comparison.
If you want to be the person who gets referred to others and has people singing their praises, you need to apply your charisma and social skills to everyone you meet, not just women you’re looking to nail. You need to be the awesome, fun guy that people like to hang around with. We instinctively like people who help us have fun and make us feel good… and we’re more likely to introduce those people to our other friends. If you’re able to engage with everybody, you are much more likely to find yourself introduced to even more people.
Make The Most Of Your Opportunities
The people who are most successful at dating – who expand their social networks and use those networks in order to be able to make a warm approach – are the people who take every opportunity they can get to network and be social. College, for example, is one of the best places to learn how to broaden one’s social circle – everybody is expected to mingle and get to know each other and on campus, you’re rarely less than two or three degrees away from everybody else. Work, meet-ups, amateur sports leagues… these are all places where you have a chance to expand your social circle and potentially meet new awesome single people.
Remember what I said about how true players don’t fear the Friend Zone, they embrace it? This is why. Yes, it sucks that the girl you like isn’t attracted to you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should cut ties with her. After all… she may not want to date you, but she probably has quite a few friends who would.
And if you can show her that you’re an awesome, stand-up guy, someone who can take a rejection and not be bitter or resentful about it…
Well… odds are good she’ll be more than happy to introduce you to them.
And probably put in a good word for you as well.
- With the possible exception of people living in Austin; everybody here inevitably knows everybody else within two to three degrees. It’s freaky. [↩]