I’m 29M, from a European country. I’ve got a good career path (in training to be a doctor). I also have an introverted personality (more like crippling social anxiety when I was younger, but residency forced me out of this). I’ve never had luck with attracting women and have never had a girlfriend or a sexual partner.
A lot of the advice I come across seems either contradictory or platitudinous. For example, a lot of mainstream dating advice tells men to focus on their own lives and to stop caring about getting a girlfriend or having sex. This is how I lived my life for years while I was focusing on my studies and just doing things I liked. After years of not caring, suddenly at 29 I looked back and realized I still had no experience with women. I had a quarter life crisis because I didn’t want to end up dying alone never having experienced physical or emotional intimacy with a woman. I started paying more attention to how I dressed and going out more, holding eye contact longer with people, slowing down my speech and being more deliberate and calm with my choice of words. All things that I learned from “dating coaches” online. Truth to be told it made me feel more confident and at least it did more for me than any mainstream advice I had ever followed that told me to be myself, it’ll happen.
But it does seem like dating coaches for men are looked at with a tremendous amount of suspicion. Some of these guys might cross over slightly into PUA territory, but the terms are sufficiently vague that it gets confusing. In any case, PUAs and even dating coaches seem to be painted with the same broad brush as the worst among them (i.e. the guys who teach other guys how to “neg” a girl to lower her self-esteem). Approaching women in public is also vilified by many as borderline or actual sexual harassment.
I understand why since there are quite a few sleazeballs among them, but here’s the thing. In the mainstream, there is not a lot of advice out there to men who timid and who are not bold enough to express their interest in women. We are now in a phase of our culture where the dominant message to men is to encourage them to leave women alone, or at least to think before you speak. I’ve never had to internalize these messages, as I have always been too shy to act on any interest and I overthink everything.
So you can tell me “just treat women like human beings” all you want, I know for a fact that I have talked to women for 29 years in the same way I talk to men, with no underlying motives, with a genuine interest in who they are as a person, and that it has gotten me plenty of platonic friendships with women that I cherish, but never a date or sex. No mutual attraction that just organically manifested itself. (By the way, how insulting is it that the go-to assumption with guys who are not romantically successful is “he must treat women like subhumans”)
I’m not saying you coaches or worse, PUAs hold the answers, but it’s totally understandable why men would try out some of their advice when everything else fails. Obviously, as soon as I hear someone talk about childish and abusive shit like “negging” I switch off the video. But there do seem to be some actual some genuine people between the obvious charlatans.
This plays into my next gripe, which is really the number one thing that is giving me so much anxiety in this whole dating game. Which is my observation that male sexuality is demonized. I am well aware of the demonization of female sexuality, slut shaming and all the awful things that entails, and I am radically opposed to it. But at least those issues seem to be acknowledged through mainstream feminist discourse, while talking about the demonization of male sexuality gets you looked at askew like you must be a woman-hating MRA or incel. But it is everywhere, and it’s inescapable as a man. It seems that there is no agreed-upon way of showing your attraction to a woman that doesn’t carry a risk of labelling you as a creep or worse. Everything men do nowadays to try to act on their attraction to women is scrutinized to oblivion. Men who are just hoping to meet a partner (sexual or romantic) are met with some zinger like “Women are more than just potential dates or fucks, you know”, as if being interested in a woman automatically dehumanizes her. Attempts at getting better at flirting are met with suspicion and alarm and assuming the worst intentions. “OMG do you just want to manipulate women, women aren’t just a code to crack you know, we’re human beings.” (Again, this rings hollow when 29 years of treating women like normal human beings has yielded no results. Flirting is a different kind of interaction than normal social conversation, deal with it). It’s so tiring to walk on eggshells all the time, because trying to be more successful with women is now taken to mean that you think women are mindless sex objects with no worth beyond that. It’s not everyone obviously, but there is a sufficiently vocal minority spouting this stuff that seems to be growing.
It really fucking SUCKS to be told over and over again that your natural sexuality is disgusting and objectifying and creepy and unwanted and predatory and evil and dirty and sinful and harmful and dehumanizing and misogynistic. It’s like Catholicism without Jesus and Mary. But voicing your insecurities or sadness resulting from a lack of dating success just risks inviting scorn or assumptions about your moral character. I, for one, wouldn’t imagine in a million years telling a woman who is having dating troubles that she shouldn’t go out of her way to find men to date (a natural reaction if there ever was one) “because men are more than potential dates or fucks”. How twisted is that kind of thinking?
Look up any thread on r/AskWomen about where and how women like to be approached, and you’ll find that every location or context you can think of has its detractors. “I don’t want to be approached in the street, I’m moving from point A to point B”. “I don’t want to be approached in the bookstore, I’m here to read.” “I don’t want to be approached in the club, I’m here to dance.” “I don’t want to be approached at a bar, I’m here to have a drink with my girlfriends.” “I don’t want to be approached by a guy in my salsa class, I’m here to dance salsa.” It’s not about the personal preference, but the implication that often accompanies it that any guy who would approach is a creep or is exhibiting predatory behavior, because any kind of potential romantic interest is somehow predatory. The only uncontroversial “location” remaining to “approach” women is Tinder. Hours and hours of aimless swiping with near zero matches and certainly zero dates, your self-esteem eroding with every swipe. Dating, flirting etc. should be fun, but it’s not fun when all you are told is that women never ever want to be bothered by your nonsense and that you have to keep all your interest to yourself and bottle it up until it fucking explodes (this last bit is obviously never said, but it’s the logical end result).
Then there’s the advice that is centered less around flirting techniques and more around becoming all around more attractive man so that women will start chasing you. Go to the gym, lift, advance ambitiously in your career, dress fashionably, etc. However, this kind of advice is always underlined with the caveat that you should never do this to attract women, but authentically for yourself. Well, try as I might, I can’t lie to myself. I have no interest in lifting weights and subjecting myself to strenuous, repetitive exercise for its own sake. Any benefits (being able to lift heavier boxes, having bigger forearms) would not be worth it for me outside of the confidence boost from being more attractive to women. I don’t like looking at other guys’ guns, why would I suddenly feel a need to admire my biceps in the mirror? No, I have no problem whatsoever with doing things outside of my comfort zone and changing things about myself, but I can’t pretend that there isn’t some kind of underlying motive there. Same goes for signing up for more “female-friendly” hobbies like yoga or salsa. I’m sure that I could enjoy those things if I put my heart to them, but I wouldn’t really consider doing those things if they didn’t help meeting more women. But with all those people saying you’re a predator for asking out a woman from your salsa class, why not stick with my nerdy hobbies that involve meeting zero women, but at least I get to do something I truly love with a bunch of sweaty dudes whom I don’t feel any need to impress?
Finally, the nail in the coffin for me: the male gender role. I grew up as a sensitive kid in a warm family that encouraged emotional expression. As a young kid I used to gravitate more towards socializing with girls. Consequently, I’ve never had a problem forming fulfilling platonic friendships with girls, but the older I became, the more I started to have nagging thoughts that something about my demeanor just wasn’t very attractive to women, like most of them saw me as an asexual being, a little brother or “one of the girls”.
I believe now there is a multitude of reasons why the “male gender role” persists, some of which is “men’s fault”. But I also believe there is no escaping the fact that a certain degree of male stoicism and “strength” is seen as more attractive by many women, maybe even most, and that deviating from this lowers attraction. It’s certainly not all women, but it happens often enough that I hear a lot about it from other men, and finding women who deviate from this seems like a needle in a haystack. I don’t blame anyone for what they are attracted to (men’s general preference for beauty, youth and fertility isn’t exactly morally superior), but as Brené Brown says:
“Most women pledge allegiance to this idea that women can explore their emotions, break down, fall apart—and it’s healthy,” Brown said. “But guys are not allowed to fall apart.” Ironically, she explained, men are often pressured to open up and talk about their feelings, and they are criticized for being emotionally walled-off; but if they get too real, they are met with revulsion. She recalled the first time she realized that she had been complicit in the shaming: “Holy Shit!” she said. “I am the patriarchy!”
Even when texting a girl from some app, I now notice I seem to get better/flirtier responses when acting vaguely emotionally unavailable rather than as my true emotionally supportive self who is interested in the girl’s hopes and dreams. So this makes me think that even if I do manage to attract someone, it’ll be a struggle to keep her attracted to me and eventually the cracks will show and it’ll be back to square one again. Cue Nice Guy accusations. But as much as I’d like to be physically intimate with a woman, what good would it do if it meant I needed to suppress myself?
So what do you reckon? Should I just give up?
On The Fence
I’m gonna level with you OTF: I picked your letter for today in part because… well, over nearly 2000 words, you managed to cover something close to 90% of the complaints I hear on the regular from folks who struggle with dating. And, quite honestly, this makes for an excellent opportunity to address the majority of them in one fell swoop.
However, I think a lot of it can be traced to a single point of origin — not just for you, but for a lot of folks. In fact, as I was going through your letter, I started counting down until I got to the point I knew was coming — the part of your letter that was leaping up and down and waving its arms and yelling “WELL THERE’S YOUR PROBLEM.”
It was right here: “Look up any thread on r/AskWomen about where and how women like to be approached”
And, welp… there’s your problem. Not r/AskWomen, per se, but your scouring the Internet for answers.
As I’ve said before: I’ve been doing this gig for a long time and I’ve answered literally thousands of letters, and over the course of the years, I’ve dealt with a lot of folks who — understandably — feel like you do. And reading and answering those letters — and even the ones I don’t get to on here — makes it really easy to zero in on certain root causes.
No, not being a man or toxic masculinity — though that certainly doesn’t help.
You need to take a long, very hard look at your Internet browsing history and — and I mean this in all sincerity — log the ever-loving fuck off.
The other day I made a joke on Twitter about people getting brain poisoning from the Internet. At the time, it was partially in response to folks making references to Miette the cat, who declared JAIL FOR MOTHER FOR 1000 YEARS, but it’s also not entirely a joke. At the risk of sounding like a chin-stroke-hmm-yes Internet Academic, there’s an appropriate quote from Nietzsche: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
Now this quote gets bandied about a lot, often in ways that encourage a very literal reading. But what it refers to is the idea that when you adopt a particular outlook or belief and make it central to who you are, it begins to take over everything about your life. If, for example, you believe that you’re disadvantaged in dating because women only like a certain kind of man and you go looking for evidence to prove your point, you’re going to find it. In fact, if you do it for long enough, you’ll get very good at finding that proof… to the point that there’s nothing but proof, everywhere you turn. This idea — the ressentiment that Nietzsche talks about — becomes the whole of your existence and it will curdle your soul. Part of what makes the incel mindset so toxic isn’t being frustrated at not having sex — that’s a very understandable and reasonable frustration. It’s that their core belief — the thing that they have gone out seeking “proof” of — has lead to their believing that this is a thing actively done to them. That there’s no hope, no point and that women in particular, are inflicting these indignities on them.
The abyss that Nietzsche refers to in the second half of the quote, refers to the danger of that quest, the fighting of monsters or the quest for truth. If you go seeking hard enough, you’re going to find it, whether it’s real or not. And if you keep searching, that search will take you deeper and deeper, to the point where that “the truth” drains away everything you have — your will, your energy, your drive — because you encounter “truth” after “truth” that causes you to lose what you believed before and get replaced by that new mindset. You’ve become the monster you’ve fought. The abyss — an endless depth — is gazing back into you because you have become the abyss.
The Internet is, in a very real way, the Nietzschean abyss. If you stare into it for long enough, without a very healthy dose of perspective, skepticism and critical thinking, you find all the “answers”. Not answers — genuine resolution to your struggle — but “answers”: things that you internalize without realizing it and take as being genuine and universal, rather than a subsection of a subsection of a population.
Here’s the thing: one of the flaws of the human mind is that we’re quite literally programmed to trust. Trust is, after all, vital to our survival as a species. We’re pack animals, and mutual cooperation and collective working for the good of the whole is how we were able to survive literal apocalypses and become the dominant species on Earth. Being able to trust one another is absolutely crucial to this goal, and so we are wired to trust others; it’s only as we age that trust becomes much more conditional. However, that hardwiring in our brains leads to a number of unintended effects that can work against us as individuals; after all, we evolved for survival, not happiness.
One of those unintended effects is that if you hear something repeated often enough, you start to believe it. If someone says something often enough, especially from a place of authority, you’re prone to internalizing it as truth, especially if you don’t push back against it. While this is often leveraged against us — that’s part of how propaganda works, after all — it’s also something we inadvertently do to ourselves.
Such as, say, when we find ourselves neck deep in an Internet research rabbit hole. Particularly on topics that are near and dear to our hearts. Like, and I’m just spitballing here, “why am I struggling with dating?”
A great example of this can be, say, fandom on Tumblr. A lot of Tumblr “controversies” come about because one particular idea gets repeated and amplified often enough that it becomes the narrative within that community. A fan artist getting hounded because they drew a character wrong starts with “you did X and that’s bad because”, but becomes “You did X BECAUSE you’re bad”, which becomes “You’re bad BECAUSE” — they are no longer a person, but someone who is associated with this nebulous bad thing and thus is bad by definition. The context has collapsed; they are now associated with being bad because enough people said PERSON IS BAD that people internalize it. Evidence is then found (or twisted into existence or invented out of whole cloth) in order to justify the initial position. But the people who hear it over and over again have internalized that “truth” and shape everything that comes afterwards in accordance.
Now in your case, OTF, and with a lot of folks in your position, that repetition and amplification hits in two ways. First is the internalizing of those beliefs — such as how incel forums serve to reinforce that they have been genetically finger-fucked by the fickleness of fate. The second is taking in the idea that certain beliefs, attitudes or outlooks are much more prevalent than they actually are. And these two things intertwine like horny snakes of depression, perfectly designed to absolutely fuck with your head.
Let’s take the first major gripe you have: the supposed demonization of male sexuality. This is a prime example of why perspective, skepticism and critical thinking can be important when you’re gazing into that abyss: because what you’re seeing isn’t real. It’s a fun-house distorted mirror of what some folks say and believe, but hardly the dominant belief. If anything, the opposite is true: male sexuality is very much lionized. The vast majority of society and culture is based around how awesome male sexuality is. We advertise products by implying — or in some cases, outright saying — that using these products will get you laid like a champion. Women are cast in roles specifically because of how much their looks appeal to straight men’s boners. Movies treat losing men losing their virginity as not just an epic quest but one that will literally transform everything about them for the better. Damn near all the songs sung by men are about how good they are at fucking, who they’re fucking or why someone’s wrong for not fucking them anymore.
Now to be sure: things have been changing and shifting. People are starting to wake up to the fact that this is fucked up and things are changing. More and more women are empowered to actually speak up and talk about their experiences and are doing so. And, to be completely fair: a lot — even the majority — of women have stories to share about being treated like shit by dudes who wanted to use them as a human Fleshlight. But the fact that people are saying “this happened to me and it’s really fucked up” isn’t the same as demonizing men and male sexuality.
And here’s the thing: to the extent that people are ‘demonizing’ male sexuality — the idea that men are doofuses when it comes to sex, that we’re all horny and want to fuck all the time and we don’t care much about who or how, etc. — it’s being done by other men. Men — who dominate ad companies, film studios, music labels and so on — are the ones who are spreading those messages about manhood. The “goofy fat incompetent man with the improbably hot wife” sitcoms? That’s Lorne Michaels, baby. Horny road trip movies about dudes looking to get laid? Male directors, male producers, male screenwriters. The folks shitting on men for being virgins past a certain age? Men.
Again, to be completely fair: there are feminist voices out there that’ve said that male sexuality is inherently bad — Andrea Dworkin is the Ur example of this. But leaving aside a shitload of context — such as Dworkin’s “all sex is rape” being about society disempowering women and how without true equity you can’t have true consent, how she was deliberately using different definitions of “sex” and “pornography” from the mainstream, or how Dworkin herself was coming from a place of constant and horrific abuse — they’re not the dominant voice in feminist theory and haven’t been for a generation. Shit, for every Andrea Dworkin out there, you’re gonna find a bell hooks, a Susie Bright or a Cindy Gallop. People still treat Dworkin as The Voice of Feminism… but only folks who haven’t done even the barest amount of research.
Even issues like systemic sexism — much like systemic racism — aren’t about the individual so much as how much these issues have been baked into society for centuries and how many improvements have been very fucking recent.
There’s also the fact that part of modern mainstream feminist thought entails breaking down a lot of the shitty, restrictive and limiting beliefs around masculinity. A lot of modern mainstream feminism is “Yeah, restrictive and arbitrary gender roles really fucking suck, let’s fix that shit, shall we?” This is, in fact, where your Brené Brown comes in; yes, men have been socialized to not connect with their emotions, to repress them and to keep everything inside… by other men. When they do open up, part of why they’re met with revulsion is because we are so fucking bad at handling our emotions that it all comes out like someone’s trying to drink from the firehose. It’s not so much that men expressing themselves is repulsive, but that it’s a torrent of feelings-vomit that comes from a lifetime of not having an outlet. Women have had the advantage of being taught and encouraged to share and open up to others; they are better at it because of a lifetime of practice. Men, for the most part, aren’t, and they’re punished — primarily by other men — for even trying. And while yes, women may react negatively and some see toxic forms of masculinity as attractive, that’s because of what they’ve been taught too… primarily by men, both directly and indirectly.
In fact, if you want a great example of how emotionally constipated men can be — because of societal expectations, generational trauma and so on — I’d refer you to this scene from season one, episode six of the Starz series Heels:
In this scene, “Wild” Bill Hancock — who is Id and toxic masculinity personified — is dealing with the consequences of his actions, both recently and decades ago. And part of what’s fucking him up is because he literally doesn’t know how to express how he’s feeling or even how to make amends to someone he’s hurt deeply and repeatedly. “I said that what I said wasn’t right,” is the closest he can come to saying that he’s sorry that he hurt Willie, because he doesn’t know how to apologize. The closest he can come — what he thinks is an apology — is ultimately just a statement of fact. But acknowledging the truth of something that’s unquestionably true isn’t an apology, nor does it make things better.
Another thing that’s hitting you is that you’re not just conflating volume for popularity, but you’re also assuming a uniformity and universality of opinion. The r/AskWomen subreddit, despite its size, isn’t a representative sample of women or women’s opinions. It is a subset of a subset of a subset — female Internet users who use Reddit. This means that demographically, you’re getting a very small and non-proportional slice of women’s voices and opinions, who are going to skew cis, straight, white, American, middle-class and Extremely Online. These are not, by any stretch of the imagination, even vaguely close to a statistically meaningful sample of people to get the diversity of opinion that you might want if you were trying to get a feel for how women feel about being approached. Reddit itself also skews what voices you’re going to see by virtue of it’s upvote/downvote mechanic. A thread or a comment that gets tons of upvotes will be pushed to the top, and opinions that fit the mainstream within that group are going to get the most upvotes. So as a result, you’re going to get the illusion of agreement, because disagreeing or dissenting voices will be ranked lower. You might get a slightly more diverse range of opinions if you set the filter to “most controversial”, but even then, you’re back to subset-of-a-subset-of-a-subset.
Just as importantly though is that you’re taking the opinions of individuals and treating them as though they were a universal truth. This is very much the fable of the miller, his son and the donkey. A miller and his son are bringing their donkey to market to sell. At first, the miller and his son walk alongside the donkey, but a group of people passing comment at how selfish he is for making his son walk. So he places his son on the donkey, but another passing group say “how rude of his son to make his aged father walk when he’s so young and vital!” And so he and his son both ride the donkey — only to hear others say “how cruel, overloading that poor beast like that.”
The moral of the fable is that you can’t please everyone; no matter what you do, someone will think that you’re doing it wrong. And so it is with the opinions of the women you see in that subreddit: no matter how you try to approach somebody, someone else will think what you’re doing is unforgivable.
Now, are there some best practices to keep in mind when you’re starting out and building your social calibration? Of course there are; I’ve written about them extensively. However, those are very much guidelines, not hard and fast rules. I mean, let us be honest: do you think that the women who said that they don’t want to be approached in the club would be upset if it were Joe Jonas offering to buy them a drink? Or that Idris Elba were to strike up a conversation with them in the bookstore?
Here’s the thing: much of why women say “don’t approach me at X, I’m there to Y” is because the dudes who are approaching them are either bad at it or who make it clear that the only thing they’re interested in is a warm body wrapped around their penis… and they’re not too particular about who. A guy who’s friendly, social and knows how to talk to women will likely do just fine. The truth is that plenty of people will break those rules — approaching someone at Whole Foods, for example — and succeed. However, those tend to be folks who are experienced and know what they’re doing; they’re in a much better position to know what would be acceptable in that instance and what wouldn’t. But that’s entirely contingent on skill, practice and experience. It’s not that these places are forbidden; it’s that making approaches in those places is much more difficult — especially if you’re trying to avoid being an asshole. Picking options that are more beginner-friendly means that you aren’t doing the social equivalent of trying to run endgame raids when you haven’t finished the tutorial area in Destiny 2.
And finally, I think you both misunderstand the advice about doing things for yourself rather than for meeting women and the purpose behind that advice. When folks tell you to try X for your own sake rather than to meet women, it’s because, for example, assholes have poisoned the well when it comes to meeting women in yoga classes. It’s not “going to yoga classes because you want to meet women is bad, you sicko”, it’s “a fuckton of guys only come to these classes to hit on women and it makes it really fucking annoying for the women who want to do yoga”. However, if you were to go and do yoga for its own sake — improved circulation and muscle tone, better mental health, etc. — and, in the process, get to know people, make friends and eventually you hit it off with someone and go out for coffee… that’s fine. The difference is that the former were treating that class like their own Sex ATM and making the experience worse for everyone else.
Now, if you don’t want to lift weights or exercise, then hey, you do you my dude. But there’s more to physical fitness than looking good for women. Exercise and physical movement is good for you and makes you feel better over all. We are built to move around and our sedentary lifestyles are incredibly bad for us. Physical exertion — especially outside, in the fresh air — is healthier, helps you live a longer life and also makes you feel better emotionally. It also helps you fit into different clothes and can help you develop a physique that many (but not all) find attractive — and that physique will vary significantly.
Similarly, the point of “Just be yourself” isn’t to never do things differently or try to improve, it’s a call to be authentic rather than trying to change yourself to fit somebody else’s ideas of what is popular or attractive. Trying to force yourself to be someone you’re not will fuck with your head; we’re bad at lying, and lying — to ourselves and to others — for long periods of time starts to affect your mental and emotional health. Being yourself is about being true to yourself and — importantly — being the best version of yourself.
However, your doing things like exercising or getting fit isn’t automatically about “impressing” others. There is value — a lot — in doing things because it makes you feel good. Dressing well and feeling like you’re attractive feels good even when you’re doing it just for yourself. There’s a joy in feeling like you look like a million bucks — not because of other people, but because it pleases you. I like to dress up sharp, because I enjoy how it makes me feel; even if I’m just going to hang with my friends at the back patio of the bar, I like to put some effort in because hey, it feels nice. I’m not worried about impressing them, I just enjoy it for its own sake. And that feeling does make everything else easier; after all, it’s much easier to connect with others when you feel good about yourself. But again: it’s specifically for your own enjoyment, not because of what others think. If I worried too much about what other folks thought, I wouldn’t have my earrings or nearly as many tattoos, especially ones I can’t cover up easily.
The point of this admittedly massive wall o’ text isn’t to say “YOU ARE WRONG AND MUST CHANGE EVERYTHING”, OTF: it’s to say that you’re in a lot of pain and frustration in part because you’ve been staring into the abyss. You’ve been internalizing a lot wrong messages without realizing it, and absorbing others without recognizing that you’re missing context or taking things in ways that weren’t intended. That’s going to throw everything off, for extremely understandable reasons. After all, you’re never going to find your way through the woods — even with a map and compass — if you don’t know how to read the compass and the map isn’t half made up and full of blank spots that just say “here there be dragons”.
Now if you want to give up… well, give up. That’s your call, my dude. You don’t need my permission or my approval. But I don’t think that’s what you actually want. If it was, you wouldn’t have written nearly 2k words to a loudmouth with an advice column.
If you want my advice, here it is:
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to log the fuck off. Take a long break from Reddit, from Twitter, from Instagram and definitely from YouTube. Hell, you can even take a long break from me and my column. But take that time to go out and socialize. Hang out in social spaces. Talk to people. Get to know them and the people around you, but without the expectation that you can see The Matrix. Try to experience the world around you and the people in it with as few preconceptions and pre-existing beliefs as you can and just be open to what comes your way. Doing so will help you detox from the Internet and unlearn a lot of those wrong lessons.
Just as importantly, however, being social will help you build those social muscles. Social skills are skills, and they’re developed through use and deliberate practice. The better you are at socializing and reading the room, the better you’ll be at meeting people in general and women in particular. The more at ease you get with talking to folks, the easier it is to pivot to flirting with them and showing romantic or sexual interest.
But you can’t develop those online; those credits don’t transfer. Nor can you improve yourself by drowning yourself in conflicting and contradictory research, especially research you’re misunderstanding. If you want to get better at meeting people and start having romantic and sexual success, you have to do the work in the flesh. And it is work; it takes time and effort to develop a skillset, even if you have a natural affinity to it. You’ll suck at it at first and that’s fine. As the sage says: sucking at something is the first step towards getting kind of good at it.
The most important thing to learn, however, is that doing this work will help you learn about other people and about yourself. And the more you know about both? The better you’ll do overall.