The reason why so many people struggle with dating isn’t because of their looks, their height, their genes or their hairline. It’s because they are caught in a cycle of bad habits and practices that destroy your confidence and sabotages your ability to improve.
Here’s how you can break out of this negative cycle and build the habits that will improve your willpower, your self-esteem and help you find the dating success you deserve.
- How self-limiting beliefs cause you to fail before you’ve even begun
- Why negativity is so powerful and seductive
- How the training secrets of US Navy SEALS can improve your social life
- Why dreaming about a better life keeps you from achieving your goals
- How Brad Pitt and George Clooney developed their famous charisma
…and so much more
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Want more dating advice? Check out my books at www.www.doctornerdlove.com/books
You are your own worst enemy. Every day you do a thousand little things that sabotage your desirability, handicap your ability to improve and hold you back from the dating success you want — hell, the success you deserve.
But here’s the secret: the reason you, like so many people, struggle with dating is not because there’s something wrong with you. The reason why you’re having such a hard time isn’t because you’re uglier than everyone else, it’s not because you’re more flawed than anyone else, it’s not because of your genes, your face, your hairline or just because the gods themselves looked down from Olympus and said “fuck THAT guy in particular”.
It’s because you’re caught up in a negative cycle that makes it virtually impossible to make things better. That negative mindset, a combination of habits and practices that you developed without even realizing, it saps you of your agency, your self-efficacy and even your belief that you can get better.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, one that reinforces all the worst things you believe about yourself. Every day, you tell the story of who you are… and you’re the one telling yourself that you suck, you’re awful, you’re a failure and nothing you do will ever be good enough.
And in fairness: when you decide this… then you’re going to be proven right. Not because you’re objectively correct and there’s nothing you can do… but because you’ve DECIDED that you’re fucked, and so you’ve given up.
That decision is what makes all the difference, because by deciding that you’re a failure and that there’s nothing you can do, you’ve cut yourself off from success. Even if you were to take radical steps — such as, say, plastic surgery — then you’ll realize that nothing will have changed. You’ll still find that you’re not getting the attention, dates, sex or relationships you want, which will just put you into an even deeper depression spiral.
That’s not speculation. That’s what a lot of people have gone through. In fact, I talked about this specific example in a previous episode — link’s in the show notes, or just hit the thing.
The reason why even something as radical as reshaping your entire face will fail is because the issue isn’t in your bone structure or your genes or your height. It’s literally that you’ve decided that you can’t succeed. Everything radiates outward from there.
And that’s not just woo-woo, think positive and everything will be fine bullshit. It’s about what we believe and how those beliefs shape us. When you expect the worst, you GET the worst, and more often than not, you’ve set yourself up to ONLY believe the worst… especially about yourself.
None of this is surprising, because negativity is seductive. It feels more real, because we have a psychological bias towards negativity; negative feelings affect us nearly 5 times more than positive ones. And we live in a world that prioritizes negativity. Social media is especially prone to this; stories and links that make us angry or upset get more engagement, which then makes them more popular in the algorithm, which means that people prioritize negativity. Negativity feels righteous. You’ll never meet a pessimist who will call themselves a pessimist; they’ll insist that they’re a realist, someone who’s taken the red pill and now sees through the world’s illusions unlike the rest of the sheeple.
Burt they’re wrong. They’ve just fallen to the same trap, giving up their own agency for the addictive thrill that anger and negativity brings.
The mistake that people make all the time is that they believe that they’re an objective observer — not just of their own life, but of the world and the people in it. But it’s not true. What they’re doing is allowing their beliefs to determine how they interpret the world around them. They then respond to those BELIEFS as though they were objective reality.
And I know a lot of you are getting ready to argue with me about this. But before you roll out the list of all the reasons why you’re 100% correct and literally nothing you do will ever make things better… hear me out, listen all the way to the end.
Because today, I want to help you break this cycle. I want to help you recognize these patterns and beliefs and teach you how to snap out of it.
By changing those beliefs and developing new habits, we’re able to change our world, and develop the strength and resilience it takes to become socially successful. These are changes that ANYONE can make, ones that that will help you transform your life.
The first key to transforming your life and breaking the cycle is that you need to change the story you tell yourself. And I do mean that literally.
Studies estimate that we speak to ourselves at a rate over 300 to a 1000 words per minute. And the words we choose directly affect what we think, how we see the world, how we respond to it. Whether we use positive or negative words when we talk to ourselves makes all the difference.
Negative self-talk — saying things like “I’m not good enough” or “They could never like me” — reinforces your fear and despair. They sap your will and your drive because they shift your focus to the worst possible outcomes. You give up more easily because you believe failure is inevitable, and you won’t work as hard or as effectively because you have already decided that success is impossible.
By choosing to use positive self-talk on the other hand, we give ourselves the strength, the grit and the drive to succeed.
This isn’t just a case of “think happy thoughts and you’ll fly” or “send out the right vibes and the universe will reward you”. It’s not like this is the province of optimists who are believe in a world where unicorns shit rainbows and fart cotton candy clouds. These are the same techniques that the Navy SEALS teach their recruits to help them develop the mental and emotional strength to pass the most grueling program the US military has to offer.
But the key isn’t to just say “EVERYTHING IS FINE!” and call it a day. It’s to look at things differently and CHOOSE to change negative self-talk to positive, even when things aren’t going your way. Instead of “I’m not good enough”, you reframe it to “I’ve got this, I’ve been working hard at it and it’s going to pay off.” “They could never like me” becomes “they’re friendly and they’ll like me when they get to know me.”
Even failure is a point for reframing the situation. It’s not “I was rejected because I’m not Chad Thundercock”, it’s to remind yourself “They clearly weren’t right for me” and “hey, I did better this time, it’s just a matter of time before I nail it.”
If you go into a situation expecting the worst, you’re going to get it. Not because of any inherent magic, but because you’ve set yourself up to LOOK for the worst. You’ll interpret everything in the most negative possible light and you’ll have primed yourself to expect rejection and failure and then blame yourself for it when it happens.
By engaging in more positive self-talk, you reframe the situation so that your expectations change accordingly. You see things in a more positive, more charitable light, which adjusts how you interpret people’s actions and motivations… including your own. When you talk yourself up, keep yourself pumped and treat failure as something you can overcome with work and persistence, you give yourself the strength to give it another shot. And then another.
And that leads to success. Because the reason why people who use more positive self-talk perform better than people who use more negative self-talk is that the people who are more positive are simply willing to keep trying.
And that willingness to keep trying is important, because it leads to success.
The second key to breaking the cycle is very similar: you want to be able to picture HOW you’re going to succeed.
Again, this is the sort of thing that seems like woo from The Secret, but there’s actual science to back this up. Our brains don’t know the difference between something that’s imagined and something that’s real; it’s part of why dreams can feel like memories. But it’s ALSO why visualization is a powerful tool for success. In a very real way, visualization exercises are a form of practice; doing them makes it easier to perform those tasks in real life.
But if you do it the wrong way, then you end up sabotaging yourself. Lots of people, for example, spend time picturing all the worst-case scenarios that would happen if they dared to talk to somebody they’re attracted to. Just as with negative self-talk, this primes your brain to EXPECT the worst. You’ve spent so much time practicing those negative experiences that you’re going to expect them, no matter what actually happens.
But at the same time, the answer isn’t about having a fantasy where you succeed.
A lot of folks will fantasize about having a better life. They can see a world where they’re just magnetic, dating the hottest woman they know and living a life that would make Jay Gatsby would green with envy.
The mistake is that they’re imagining the end goal, the moment they cross the finish line. And while this may SEEM like something that would motivate you to do better, in reality, it actually saps your willpower and makes it HARDER to succeed. When you’re so busy picturing the reward, you’re priming yourself for victory without doing the work it takes to actually get there.
It’s an underwear gnome scenario. You’re expecting profit with no clue how to make it happen. As a result, you’re teaching yourself that the key to success is waiting for a miracle, instead of putting in the work.
Instead, you need to visualize not just the reward but how you’re going to EARN it. This only works if what you’re visualizing are the steps you’re going to take that will get you there.
By running through scenarios in your mind over and over again, visualization exercises help prepare you to take those steps in the real world.
So instead of skipping straight to “and then I take her to the bedroom”, you want to focus on things like imagining approaching someone and having a successful conversation with them or visualizing HOW you would ask somebody on a date. Doing this over and over again, imagining different scenarios that you might reasonably encounter and how you would handle them is a form of rehearsal. This way, when you’re doing it for real, you’re ready for it. That task feels more natural and you feel more relaxed and capable.
But it also helps keep you motivated. When you’re visualizing the steps it would take to succeed, you’re priming yourself to do the work, not just to wait for success to fall in your lap with no effort on your part. The work becomes part of the process.
And that actually takes us to the third point: you need to change how you TREAT social success. The people who end up sabotaging themselves see social success as a binary: either you’re popular and attractive and charismatic or you aren’t and there’s no changing it.
I should know. I used to be one of them. I used to look at folks I thought were naturally charismatic and believed that I could never be like them.
But I was wrong.
This is a common and self-defeating world-view, one that emphasizes how powerless and helpless a person is, an outlook that says that any attempt at self-improvement is a futile gesture.
In reality, social skills are skills and any skill can be improved with practice and dedication. Many people have problems with meeting women or even starting conversations because they don’t consciously work to develop those skills.
Part of the reason why it’s often so difficult to get to a place where you can flirt with ease or even just talk to someone you’re attracted to, is because of how rarely we treat social skills AS skills that you can practice.
When you’re not in the habit of talking to people on the regular, it gets much harder to do so when you feel like “it counts”. That’s why it’s understandable that you might choke or panic; it’s the emotional equivalent of that dream where you realize you’re about to take the final exam for a class you’ve never actually been to.
And you’re naked.
And everything’s on fire.
Even charisma is a skill that can be developed and improved on. For all that we hold up Brad Pitt or George Clooney as the epitome of sex appeal, it’s very easy to miss how much of their appeal is due to their having worked at BEING charming. Being able to convey that charisma is as much a matter of deliberate practice as it is natural gift; otherwise they end up limited as actors. Part of the secret to Clooney’s easygoing smile and bedroom eyes are hours of working with a mirror until it becomes muscle memory.
Taking time to practice talking to people you meet during your day, practicing your flirting techniques, your jokes, even your smile, all help build your social skills and get you ready for the moments when you want to make it COUNT.
Which actually is a great lead up to my next point:
The fourth key to breaking the cycle of self-sabotage is that you need to take back your sense of control. So much of the self-sabotage that hinders people in dating comes from the sense that they have no control over their lives. The fantasy of unearned triumph trains you to believe that success would require a miracle, not that it comes from hard work. Believing in the social binary of “You have it or you don’t” is a belief that robs you of your agency and power.
Even basing your self-worth ONLY on things that you think other people value, robs you of your agency; it puts your self-esteem entirely in the hands of other people.
When you don’t believe you actually have meaningful control in your life, then it’s all too easy to just give up.
Which is why you need to take control back and remind yourself of just how much actually is within your power.
Now the good thing is that this is easier than it seems, because it doesn’t take much to reestablish your sense of control. Something as minor as cleaning and organizing your apartment is a way of expressing agency; you’re demonstrating that you have control over your environment.
The same applies to exercising, talking to strangers, even dating. Doing one more pull-up than you could the week before, saying “hi” to one more person than you did yesterday… these are all small, easily achievable goals that prove that you CAN improve. And those are wins that you can and SHOULD celebrate. Because as minor and seemingly insignificant as they may be… each of them is a reminder that you have far more control than you’ve ever given yourself credit for.
People who have small daily goals are ten times more successful than the ones who don’t. Those goals help keep you motivated and encourage you to do more. It doesn’t matter that they may seem laughably small. Each milestone may seem minor, but every step gets you closer to where you want to be… and serves as a reminder of how far you’ve come and how much you’re capable of.
My last point is possibly the most important: if you want to stop being your own worst enemy and build a more positive and resilient outlook… you need to pay attention to your environment. Where you spend your time and who you spend it with is incredibly important because it has a direct effect on you, your outlook and your ability to improve.
Remember what I said about how we have an inherent negativity bias? Part of why it can be hard to escape that cycle of self-sabotage is because we often end up surrounding ourselves with people who actively encourage it.
One of the most glaring examples of this is the incel community. Part of why the incel mindset is hard to escape is because of how the incel forums, subreddits and Discords reinforce those beliefs though the negativity bias. When you’re surrounding yourself with people who continually shit all over any of your attempts to improve and insist that you, like they, are just a genetic dead end, you end up digging yourself in deeper and making it harder to get away.
The negative validation of people who will confirm your worst fears AND tell you that you’re right to be upset and angry about it can be addictive… and it’s hard to leave behind the people you feel “get” you at that level, even as it actively harms you.
And worse, just as negative posts on social media create more engagement, there’s a reinforcement cycle in communities like this that encourages louder, angrier and more extreme negativity. The more vitriol and hate people spew, the more people respond, which encourages others to try to be even MORE extreme in order to get the same level of clout and approval… which only goes to reinforce those negative, self-limiting beliefs.
But this goes beyond the incels. It’s just as prevalent in MGTOW and red pill communities, even in various genre fandoms: people who revel in and trade on negativity, anger and spite… often for profit.
If you want to break out of the cycle of self-sabotage, you need to cut the negative influences — from the boards you read to even the YouTube videos you watch. Instead, you need to invest your time in POSITIVE spaces, with people who care for you, believe in your ability to succeed and encourage you to do better. You want friends and a community who encourage and prioritize compassion and empathy for others… and for you.
The more you have your Team You backing you up, the stronger you’ll be emotionally and mentally… and the more you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
And one more thing. If you want to learn HOW to develop the skills to transform your dating life, then you’ll want to sign up for the beta test of the Dating Accelerator program — an 8 week seminar where I will be teaching you and a limited number of students how to transform your dating life and help you build the social success you’ve always dreamed of. I have only a few spots left, and members of NerdLove Academy get the first chance to reserve a spot before I open up applications to the general public.
If you’re ready to take your love life to the next level, be sure to join the NerdLove Academy Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/DrNerdLove for more information.
So that’s going to do it for this episode.
So you heard from me and now I want to hear from you. What steps are YOU ready to take to build a better life for yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments below. And don’t forget: I’m answering some of your dating questions in my new Ask Dr. NerdLove series of videos. So if you’ve got a short dating question you’d like to have answered on here, hit me up and share it in the comments as well. Maybe the question I’ll be answering next week will be yours!
Meanwhile, if you want to work on practicing those social skills, learn how talk to strangers and turn people you’ve just met into friends and lovers, then check out my book New Game Plus: The Geek’s Guide to Love, Sex and Dating. This is the instruction manual you’ve always wanted, the A to Z guide for learning how to develop and unleash your inner Casanova and find the relationship you’ve always wanted, whether it’s for a lifetime… or just that night. Links to buy it are in the show notes, so go check it out. And if you do check it out, or any of my other books for that matter, be sure to rate and review it on Amazon and Goodreads, it’s a huge help.
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And as always hit the logo to subscribe, check out my other videos, and I’ll see you here next time with more about love sex and dating. Later!