Welcome to 2014 folks. It’s a new year and ripe for potential and improvement.
If you’re like most folks, you’ve made some New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps getting better at dating is one of them…
Usually around this time, I make my annual tirade about how New Year’s resolutions are wastes of time but I want to do things differently. You see, one of the reasons why so many resolutions fail is that you’re addressing surface issues rather than the core causes. For example, f you’re trying to lose weight, you have to adjust your entire lifestyle, not just go on a diet or adopt an overly ambitious exercise routine that you’ll inevitably quit in a month’s time.
Similarly, if you want to get better at dating, you have to do more than just learn some new techniques and snappy patter and calling it a day. Those are surface issues, not core ones. Most long-term dating problems stem from what the PUA community calls “inner game” – that is, issues that stem from your self-esteem and attitude. Your core beliefs – both about yourself and about other people – affect far more than you realize. The way you see the world acts as the filter for everything in your life, and the more negative and restrictive your views, the more negative and restrictive the world will be to you. The more self-limiting beliefs you accept, the harder of a time you’ll have with dating; you will have effectively hobbled yourself with nothing but a mistaken idea of what you can and can’t do. It becomes a self-reinforcing concept thanks to what’s known as confirmation bias: the brain’s tendency to give greater emotional weight to evidence – no matter how weak or unreliable – that validates what you already believe.
But that goes both ways. Just as self-limiting beliefs lock you into place and keep you from being able to progress, adopting positive beliefs help liberate you and empower you to pursue your goals in ways you never could before. And just as with self-limiting beliefs, those positive attitudes can become self-reinforcing as well.
So let’s talk about one of the most important beliefs when it comes to success in dating: adopting an abundance mentality.
Scarcity Vs. Abundance
Most men I’ve coached have had issues with a scarcity mentality – that is, the belief that women are a limited resource. There were many varying details – some men believed that they needed to find their “soul mate”, while others artificially limited the number of women that they believed they could possibly be interested by holding onto incredibly high – even impossible – standards. Still others didn’t believe that there were many women who could possibly be interested in them. But while the particulars would differ, the end effect was the same: they believed that every rejection and every break-up was one step closer to dying alone, unmourned and unloved1.
Many issues that hold men back in their social development spring from a scarcity mentality. Neediness, for example, is often born out of a scarcity mentality; you fear losing out on this potential relationship because you believe that it’s your “last chance” or that women who are attracted to you are so rare as to be almost non-existent. Because you’re so hyper-aware of the potential “missing out”, you convince yourself that it’s going to disappear into a puff of hyacinth and loneliness if you don’t lock it down now now now. As a result – you become clingy and needy, constantly texting and calling and poking her on Facebook, with each unanswered message making you even more nervous and convinced that something is wrong . Of course, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as that behavior is precisely what drives her away.
To pick another common problem, look at Oneitis. Oneitis is a scarcity mentality taken to the extreme; it’s the idea there is exactly one person in the entire world for you out of a population of 7 billion and if it doesn’t work out between the two of you… well, tough shit Chuck, hope you’re prepared for a lifetime alone with nothing but bitter regrets and cursing fate for deciding that your soul-mate would be better off married to a stockbroker named Chad with his perfect hair and his natural charm and his teeth and God I fucking hate Chad…
A scarcity mentality can often result in approach anxiety – you become afraid to make that first move because you risk getting rejected and that rejection means that you’re that much closer to a life of involuntary celibacy. It leads to resentment and entitlement issues; the idea that 20% of the men get 80% of the women – a common, if mistaken belief amongst many MRA and PUA forums – stems from a scarcity mentality, for example. It also leads you to becoming bitter and resentful over the success of others for “hogging” what would, supposedly otherwise be yours.
The abundance mentality, on the other hand, is simply the belief that there are many, many amazing and available women out there. While a rejection or a break-up may hurt – and it certainly does – it isn’t the end of the world because there will be others out there who will also be incredible. It’s the belief that each rejection isn’t one more step towards being Forever Alone, it’s one more person who wasn’t right for you and puts you that much closer to finding somebody who is. It’s the rejection of the idea that there is The One and an acceptance that there is The Many – many women with whom you are compatible, who are incredible and beautiful and caring and who would make an incredible partner for you. It means not stressing yourself out over whether or not she’s going to flake on your date, worrying that you’re going to say the wrong thing or all of those other annoying fears and nagging anxieties because the worst that can happen is that you move on to somebody else… and when it does work, that person is all the sweeter because you’ve chosen her out of all the other possibilities rather than latching onto somebody out of fear or desperation.
But how do you go about developing that belief, especially if you’ve spent so long in a scarcity mindset?
Going about actively developing an abundance mentality can be tricky, especially if you’ve long held a scarcity-based mentality. There are a few steps to the process.
1. Retrain Your Brain
The first step is to break down the negative patterns. Negative thinking is a habit; you carve a groove into your brain and your brain prefers to stay in that track because it’s easier than deliberately trying to push it out and carve a new one.
So you have to deliberately build up a habit of thinking positively – in this case, consciously deciding to see things differently. You have to become more mindful of your thought patterns, learning what triggers these thoughts and why. Once you start being more aware of those thoughts, you want to deliberately reframe negative thoughts about the scarcity and unavailability of women. For example, you may want to think to yourself “It’s ok if she rejects me; there are plenty of women out there who will want what I have to offer,” or “The worst thing that happens if I ask her out is that she turns me down and I’ll go talk to somebody else.”
It will take some time; it takes anywhere from 21 to 66 days to develop a new habit to the point that it becomes automatic… but the rewards are worth it.
2. Practice Gratitude
Want to recognize how many opportunities there are in the world? Start being grateful for what you have. A scarcity mindset focuses on what you don’t have. When you’re paying attention to what you don’t have leaves you feeling like you need to grab for everything because it could be taken from you at any moment. Taking time to practice gratitude means you’re forcing yourself to be more aware of everything you do have and how fortunate you are to have it. People who practice gratitude are happier and feel more fortunate and tend to be more optimistic in general. Optimism is, after all, a key part of an abundance mentality; you’re believing that even when things are difficult, you’ll still do better in the long run.
3. Be Vulnerable
Part of a scarcity mentality is fear. The fear of missing out, the fear of rejection and the fear of being alone. You fear rejection because you believe that you’re going to miss a narrow window of opportunity and when that window is closed, it’s closed forever. All too often though, we let those fears push us into bad decisions – holding onto toxic relationships for fear of being alone, trying to conform to other people’s ideas of who we should be in order to avoid being rejected.
When you’re cultivating an abundance mentality, you want to embrace those fears. You want to open yourself up to them and admit they exist without shame. It’s fine that you’re worried about rejection - everybody is. But when you let a scarcity mentality convince you to try to avoid rejection at all costs, you’re ultimately hurting yourself. By being willing to be vulnerable – to deliberately open yourself up to the possibility of being hurt – you’re saying that you understand, even welcome rejection because you realize that in the end, rejection means that you most likely weren’t compatible in the first place. It’s better to get rejected from a potential bad relationship than to go endure one out of fear that you’re going to never find somebody who will say “yes”.
4. Stop Comparing Your Unedited Footage To Other People’s Highlight Reel
A scarcity mentality breeds resentment; you look around at other happy couples and feel jealousy and bitterness because they have what you want. Why do they get to have it so easy when you have to struggle and scrape for every crumb of affection? Why do other people get to feast when you starve?
Once again, you’re focusing on what you don’t have at the expense of what you do… and you’re not even basing it on reality. You have no idea what’s going on through that other person’s head or how they got to where they are. You are basing your supposed inferiority on a fantasy you’ve built up in your mind. That player you envy is a bundle of insecurities who continually chases after women because it’s the only way he can get validation. That guy with the hot girlfriend is miserable; they may look great together but she treats him horribly.
Being jealous of what other people have only makes it harder for you to improve. You’re defining yourself by other people’s standards, standards which may not even exist except in your imagination. It makes you spiteful and bitter, which inevitably comes out in your day to day interactions with other people.
Someone with an abundance mentality doesn’t worry about the success of others; he understands that dating isn’t a zero-sum game. One person doing well in no way affects his own future. It’s not something to be jealous of but something to motivate him to strive for and achieve too.
5. Look Around
This can seem a little obvious but part of cultivating an abundance mentality is to be more aware of what’s around you. It’s easy to get tunnel vision, letting your confirmation bias filter out the hundreds and thousands of women you see every day.
People with scarcity mentality spend a lot of mental bandwidth justifying why all of these women around them “don’t count” for one reason or another; this one would never like him, this other one almost certainly has a boyfriend and the one over there, well just look at her, she clearly only dates douchebags…
Just as when you compare yourself to others, you’re filtering out the people around you based on imaginary standards and perpetuating the idea that there are so few women out there. Yes, there will be plenty of married women, or women with boyfriends, girlfriends or who are otherwise unavailable. There will be those who you don’t find physically attractive. That’s not the point. The point is to increase your awareness of what’s around you. People with an abundance mentality look around and realize that all of those people around them – whether he’s lusting after them or not – represent potential. It’s a constant reminder that there are many, many women out there – you just have to go looking.
Abundance In Action
Having talked about developing an abundance mentality, let’s talk a little about how it works in practice. The benefits to having an abundance mentality, as it were.
Imagine, if you will, that you’ve set up a date with a cute woman you met at a coffee shop. Except… you’re starting to get those nagging feelings that this isn’t going to happen. Sure, she seemed interested in getting together but she asked you to text her on the day of, and since you didn’t read my article on preventing flakes, you agreed. And now that you’re getting ready, she’s still not responded to your text trying to make sure you’ve still got plans.
You’re about to get flaked on… so now what?
Someone with a scarcity mentality is going to get upset; he just spent all this time anticipating the date. It was going to be the highlight of his week! Now he’s either going to be desperately trying to salvage the date or pitching a fit over how unfair it is for her to just blow off his plans.
Somebody with an abundance mentality wouldn’t have invested so much importance in the date in the first place. It’s definitely something to look forward to, but he’s already suspecting that it may not happen. And when she does flake out on him… well, yeah, it’s rude as hell and it sucks, but all it means is that he now knows she’s just not that into him. In many ways, she’s done him a favor; he’s found out early on that she’s not somebody he’d want to spend time with anyway, rather than having just invested hours of his life on what would’ve been an otherwise mediocre date at best.
Similarly, someone who has an abundance mentality has fewer problems with making an approach. After all, all rejection does is clarify that the person he’s tried flirting with isn’t into him – valuable information to have before he spends a good portion of the night hanging out with her. She’s freed him up to go find somebody else who appreciates what he has to offer; now he can spend the rest of the evening just enjoying himself instead of trying to sort out whether or not she digs him.
People who have an abundance mentality also notice that they have more dates and better love lives than those with a scarcity mentality; having that belief in abundance actually helps bring that abundance into their lives. Not because of woo-woo, “I read the Secret” prosperity bullshit but because they are setting themselves up to find that abundance. By believing in abundance, they are priming themselves to notice it and take advantage of the opportunities that those with a scarcity mentality miss out on because they’re so caught up in the idea that there is so little out there. Women respond to men with an abundance mentality – after all, that belief in abundance is a critical part of confidence and as I say over and over again, confidence is sexy.
Someone who believes in the possible may be wrong, but the ones who believe in the impossible are always right… to their sorrow. Develop an abundance mentality and realize just how amazing the world can be… and be able to find that abundance you seek.
- Hat tip to Dave Sim for that turn of phrase. It’s kind of a shame that he became a raving misogynist in the end… [↩]