Over the course of my career, I’ve dealt with a lot of people who haven’t had much dating experience — from people who’ve only had one or two girlfriends in their lives to literal 40 year old virgins.
They all had in one thing common: they had the same fears, beliefs and anxieties regarding dating and women that made them give up.
Here’s how to break through your dating fears, conquer your anxiety and overcome your self-limiting beliefs.
- How we project our anxieties onto other people
- How self-limiting beliefs hold us back
- Why our brains trick us into giving up
- Why we give up control so easily
- How to let go of fear
…and so much more.
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Hey everyone, Harris O’Malley from doctornerdlove.com, brought to you by my generous patrons at patreon.com/drnerdlove.
Over the course of my career, I’ve dealt with a lot of people who haven’t had much dating experience — this ranges from people who’ve only had one or two girlfriends in their lives, people who’ve only had a handful of dates but no relationships and people who are literal 40 year old virgins.
One of the things that’s interesting is how often they had the same fears, beliefs and anxieties regarding dating and women — beliefs and anxieties that I know a LOT of you share.
In fact, how many of these fears and beliefs do YOU have?
Women will think you’re weird because you’re a virgin
Women only date certain kind of guys
Women don’t want men who don’t have a lot of money/ work retail/ don’t have a car/ doesn’t have their own apartment
Women only want men with certain faces or bodies Women sleep with one kind of guy and only settle down with other guys when they can’t get those guys any more
I can’t meet women because women think I’m creepy
I’m too old to start dating or lose my virginity
I’m too short/fat/ugly for women to find me attractive
Women would never like me when there are other, better options out there.
This is by no means a comprehensive list; I could go on for an hour about the various things that guys believe that keep them from dating.
But there’s one thing that all of these beliefs have in common… and it’s not “they’re all false” — although they are. It’s that, at their core, the people who share these beliefs don’t actually believe that women think these things. These are all anxieties men have about themselves, anxieties that they are externalizing and projecting onto others. They are, in effect, taking things they dislike about themselves or beliefs they have about their own value or worth and turning them into universal rules.
The people who, for example, think that women don’t like short men are very rarely 6’ tall; they’re guys who are already insecure about their height. I can guarantee you: Robert Downey Jr. and Oscar Isaac don’t think that they’re too short to date…
These are what are known as self-limiting beliefs — beliefs that people hold that keep them from not just achieving their true potential, but from even trying. Part of what makes them insidious is that men often aren’t aware of how they’re taking the things they feel about themselves and are projecting them outward.
Instead of addressing the root issue — insecurity, body issues, societal messages about “real men” — it’s easier to project it onto other people, make it their fault. It becomes a way of excusing yourself from even TRYING; it’s simply a law of the universe, so what’s the point?
But if you’re here… it’s pretty clear that you don’t believe this to be true. After all: why would you be seeking out videos and podcasts about developing an incredible dating life? At some level, you want to change your mind and shake off these beliefs. So let me ask you something: what do you actually get from believing this? What is the benefit that you receive from believing that you are too ugly, too broke, too under-employed, too short, too bald, too awkward or too old for women to be interested in you?
What do you get from believing that you’re helpless and powerless to change. It clearly doesn’t make you happy or bring any sort of comfort. If anything, it makes you more miserable. And often that misery starts to curdle and turn to anger and hate. Sometimes that hate is directed inward. Sometimes that hate is directed out at others, especially women. But none of that hate or anger actually helps. It just serves as fuel to make you angrier and makes you hurt more.
Now think about those beliefs again — the things you think are keeping you from dating and ask yourself this question: what if you’re wrong?
I can already hear you starting to argue and insist that you’re not, which I get. I get where you’re coming from. But again: what would change in your life if you were wrong? Not just about the beliefs that women are not and will never be attracted to you, but the idea that there’s nothing you can do to make your life BETTER?
It’s important to ask this because those self-limiting beliefs frequently become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Believing that you have no chance or no hope hacks your brain; it slaps a filter over EVERYTHING you see and everything you do. When you believe that no woman could find you attractive, you act accordingly. You don’t approach people you’re interested in, and the few times you do try to talk to someone, you assume that you’ve ALREADY been rejected. This means that you see literally EVERYTHING in that light — from the way they stand to the tone of their voice. They may not have SAID or INDICATED they weren’t interested… but you know what they meant. It also means that you won’t believe it when someone IS interested in you. Either you’ll assume that you’re mistaken, or you’ll dismiss it as a fluke or a trick. This is what’s known as confirmation bias; you believe something and so you only pay attention to the things that confirm what you already believe. When you have evidence that proves you wrong, you disregard it, assume it’s a mistake or that it simply doesn’t apply to you.
Now the thing that’s insidious about these beliefs is that they feel logical. Right now, a lot of you are probably insisting that this isn’t a belief, it’s a fact, brought on by experience. But the truth is… more often than not, it’s brought on by feeling helpless and powerless. When you feel like you have no control, you start to give up. You condition yourself to simply… stop. It doesn’t mean that the pain stops. But you stop trying. You quite simply just lie there and take it. Life is pain; anyone who says otherwise is selling something. You can’t change your height, you can’t stop being ugly, you can’t make women interested in a guy who works at Target or who mops floors or who has to take the bus instead of having their own car.
But… what if you’re wrong? What if women aren’t only interested in status or money? What if you AREN’T helpless?
What if you DID have control? Not over other people, but over yourself.
Now I can hear a lot of you demanding that I prove that you’re wrong. But the point of this episode isn’t for me to prove ANYTHING. I’m asking you to simply ask yourself that question: what if you’re wrong? What if things COULD be different? What if you could prove to YOURSELF that you had control?
Not in any huge, flashy way. Not in some massive transformation overnight or even over the course of a month. Just one little change.
After all, one of the reasons why it’s so easy to feel helpless is because you keep running headlong into massive challenges that feel absolutely insurmountable. This happens all the time, especially when people try some form of self-improvement. People who want to lose weight will start an incredibly stringent calorie-restricted diet and then quit following it within weeks. People who want to get in shape will start trying to pull two hour workouts at the gym and quit going before the month is even over because nothing’s changed but everything hurts.
It’s very easy to get demoralized when all you’re doing is running headlong into the same wall over and over again. Even the hardest of the hard core are only going to punish themselves so many times before they give up. When things feel impossible or it feels like you’re being punished for having never done something before, you’re going to get demoralized. Which is why it’s time for a little game theory. This is going to sound weird, but there’s a point to it, so stick with me.
If you’ve played video games at all — whether it’s Candy Crush on your phone or games like Dark Souls, Sekiro or Bloodborne — you will notice that the game is… relatively easy at first. Even games that are known for being punishingly difficult ease you into it with levels or missions that are relatively undemanding and not difficult to complete before the difficulty ramps up to legendary levels. Obviously, part of the reason why they do this is to teach you the mechanics of the game. But there’s another reason: it’s because those minor victories at the beginning give you a sense of accomplishment. If the game starts off by immediately punching you in the dick, you’re never going to bother trying to get past the first level, never mind finishing the damn thing. Looking at YOU Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Yeah, that’s right, I didn’t forget that shit.
However, when you start off with some relatively easy victories — ones that may have been a little challenging but still ones you’re able to overcome — then you feel empowered. The more successes you feel at the beginning — even when they feel absurdly easy — the more motivated you are to persevere when the difficulty ramps up. You feel like you have the ability to tackle the harder, more demanding challenges.
This approach goes beyond just games; it’s the cornerstone to a lot of different training and exercise programs like Couch-to-5k. The early stuff may be insultingly easy… but they give you the motivation to keep going and tackle the harder things.
All of that is why when you want to challenge your self-limiting beliefs, stop feeling helpless and take control of your life again, you want to focus on what are known as micro-revolutions. Micro-revolutions are tiny challenges to your sense of helplessness, seemingly minor victories that stand in defiance of your beliefs.
So start by looking at those beliefs and ask yourself: what are some little ways that you could challenge them? What are some little victories that would show you that you do have control? What are simple, concrete steps that you can take that push back at those anxieties?
The key is keep them small and easily achievable. It can start as easily as getting a flattering haircut and taming your facial hair or finding a shirt that you feel looks really good on you. It can be as simple as “I jogged for 5 minutes without stopping” or simply walking on the treadmill for a half hour.
That same idea applies to interacting with women — keeping things simple and easy to realize. Not “can you go out and get somebody’s phone number”, but “can you make someone smile?” “Can you make somebody laugh with a well-timed joke?”.
But it’s also important to keep in mind the point of it. Being able to make someone smile isn’t proof that you’re a Casanova in the making, it’s proof that women aren’t going to run screaming just because you looked at them. It’s a small, concrete challenge to those beliefs, a test that proves that yes, you do have control and that you CAN make things better.
But there’s another important part to challenging these beliefs: you need people who’re going support you, back you up and cheer you on. Part of what makes those self-limiting beliefs hard to shake is that often people who share them often congregate, in a sense of support and sympathy… but it often it turns into a source of reinforcement. The incel community is a great example of this. What was originally intended to be a support group turned toxic and became about hate, not answers or support.
It’s one thing when people say “yeah, I feel that way too and it sucks”. It’s another when they say “you’re right, you’re fucked, there’s nothing you can do except lay down and rot”. Hear that enough times, SAY that enough times and it starts to become part of your identity and that much harder to shift. Doubly so when challenges to the orthodoxy of the group are shouted down as being false or “cope”. That’s why you want to surround yourself with people who HELP you challenge those beliefs, people who cheer on your little victories and help you keep going. Stepping away from the constant chorus of negativity and reinforcement goes a long, LONG way to changing your mind and helping you break through those beliefs.
These may sound like they’re incredibly minor, even absurdly small things. How could something as simple as getting a different hair cut change your mind about being unfuckable homunculus? And the answer is: it won’t. Not by itself. What it WILL do is put a little crack in that wall, dig a little at the foundation of that belief. One crack by itself isn’t a big deal. But add another micro-revolution, another little victory, another crack in the wall… and suddenly that wall isn’t as strong as it was before. Enough little cracks and even the strongest wall comes crashing down.
Those beliefs may be holding you back from the life you want, the life you can HAVE. But you can change that. All you have to do to start is ask yourself: what if you’re wrong?
That’s going to do it for this episode. Thanks for tuning in,
So you heard from me and now I want to hear from you. What are some of the little victories YOU’VE had recently? Share yours in the comments below so we can cheer you on.
Meanwhile, if you want to take time during the quarantine to develop your social skills, learn how to meet new and amazing women and take a level in sexy badass so that you’ll be ready to hit the ground running when things open up again, 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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