Let’s be honest: dating can be a trial. For a lot of men, dating isn’t something you enjoy, it’s something you endure. From trying to meet women, to getting a number, to actually getting women out on a date… it’s more like pulling teeth than meeting a potential partner.
Today, I want to give you all some advice I wish I had gotten back when I first started dating. Because, if you’re checking out these episodes, then the odds are good that, frankly, you think dating… kinda sucks. And in fairness: you’re not entirely wrong. Dating for men can be kind of awful. But not for the reasons you might think.
In fact, the biggest reason why dating can suck is because of how much harder we men make it for OURSELVES and in the process, make ourselves miserable… even when we think we’re doing everything right.
So let’s look at 5 reasons why dating can SUCK for men… and what you can do about it.
- Why men have a conflict mentality when it comes to dating
- The secret to passing women’s “tests”
- Why so much of what you believe about women, dating and sex is WRONG.
- How guys get caught in a cycle of dating failure
- Why you’re taking the wrong advice about how to meet women
…and so much more.
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Before we get started this week, we’re gonna do a quick bit of housekeeping. This is going to be the last episode for 2020. I’m going to be taking a short break into the new year just to recharge the creative batteries, avoid burnout and and I’m going to be putting work into the next version of the Dating Accelerator Project, as well as the new videos I’ve got planned out for 2021. Like I’ve said in a few places, I’m working on a new series, looking at the lessons we can learn about love, sex, relationships and masculinity, from movies and TV — starting with Cobra Kai. If you’ve got a movie or a show you’d like me to talk about, share it in the comment.
I’ll probably rerun some old episodes of the podcast, especially the ones I started doing before I made the jump to YouTube, and of course, I’m still writing and taking your questions at doctornerdlove.com every week, so be sure to keep checking in there. And of course, there’ll be announcements about some exciting programs and workshops I’ll be launching in 2021.
Now, as we’re heading towards the end of the year, it’s natural to look back at the year before and think about what we’ve done, what we haven’t accomplished that maybe we wanted to — especially without a global pandemic getting in the way — and what we want to achieve in the new year.
Which is why I want to give you all some advice I wish I had gotten back when I first started dating. Because, if you’re checking out these episodes, then the odds are good that, frankly, you think dating… kinda sucks. And in fairness: you’re not entirely wrong. Dating for men can be kind of awful.
But not for the reasons you might think.
In fact, the biggest reason why dating can suck is because of how much harder we men make it for OURSELVES and in the process, make ourselves miserable… even when we think we’re doing everything right.
Now to be clear: these are all very common mistakes, mistakes that I see lots of people make. Mistakes, in fact, that I made when I was starting out, and I wish I had learned about these much earlier than I had.
And in fairness: unlearning these mistakes can be difficult; many of us have spent a LOT of time laboring under these bad practices and misconceptions and that makes it hard to root them out. I’ve been there and done that myself, so trust me, I know.
But I ALSO know that when you can unlearn this lessons and learn the better way, it makes everything easier, more relaxed and much, much more fun. And in the process, you’ll find that you have much greater success.
So lets look at 5 reasons why dating can SUCK for men… and what you can do about it.
Mistake #1: You’re Assuming You’re Pre-Rejected
The first — and possibly biggest mistake — that a lot of guys are making is that they are coming to dating with the belief that they have to “win” with women; that women are actively LOOKING for excuses or reasons to reject you and that it’s YOUR job to pass her “tests” so that you can eventually prove that you have enough value or worth to date her.
This… isn’t a thing. Women don’t “shit test” guys to see if he’s “really” worth dating or if he’s of “higher value”; they’re not going to insult you to see if you are going to zing them back or see if you sit there and take it, and they’re not going to ask you to do things to test whether you can see through their bullshit or if you’re just too beta or whatever.
They’re not disrespecting you in order to gauge your reaction, and they’re certainly not putting up “bitch shields” in order to ensure that only the best dudes go through.
And it’s certainly not a case that “the more ‘value’ — for whatever weird-ass definition of value you’re working with — she has, the more she’s going to test you”
Most of the time, if someone has her “bitch shield” up, it’s because she’s just not interested and she’s in an increasingly bad mood because people’ve been ignoring her lack of interest and that is pissing her off. This doesn’t mean that she pre-rejected you or you failed her tests. And even when you’re just being turned down, it doesn’t mean that you weren’t of “high enough value” or you weren’t “as good” as someone else; it’s almost always a case that the two of you weren’t compatible.
And the ones who’re just dismissive, disrespectful or insulting from the jump aren’t shit-testing you… they’re just rude.
The problem is that guys tend to take this personally and assume it’s about THEM, when it isn’t. Women aren’t going around actively gauging who’s fuckable and who isn’t like some weird sexual Terminator, they’re just trying to go through their day.
Think of all the women you encounter on a daily basis that YOU aren’t interested in. You don’t hate them or dislike them; you’re just neutral on them. The same applies to women; their disinterest isn’t a value judgement on you and it doesn’t mean that they’ve pre-rejected you; it just means that they’re not interested and it’s really no more significant than that.
Buying into the idea that you need to “prove” your worth or “pass her tests” leads to a conflict mentality, one that makes it impossible to actually relate or connect with the people you’re meeting. You can’t generate mutual interest when you’re convinced that you have to play dominance games, have weird, PUA-inspired “frame control” contests or buy into other bullshit ideas like “who cares least, wins”.
As the saying goes: play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
But this actually ties into the next mistake…
Mistake #2: You’re Trying to WIN, Not Date
Just like the previous mistake, when you go into dating with a conflict mentality, you tend to see dating and sex as being about dominance, not connection. A lot of guys, especially men who’ve been caught up in PUA or red-pill bullshit tend to buy into this; they see relationships as being about “who’s in charge” or who’s on top, rather than a partnership, something collaborative that you both build together.
A lot of this comes across in bullshit “rules” and tactics that are supposedly about proving your value or passing those mythical “shit-tests”. Negging is the classic example; in theory it’s showing that you’re clearly higher value because you’re willing to tease or mock someone and bring her down a peg, causing her to crave your validation.
And it doesn’t work like that. You’re just insulting her.
The same goes with things like trying to catch out a woman who gives you a fake number or invents a boyfriend when you ask her out or says she can’t go out but you “catch” her on Insta out with friends. Proving that it’s a fake number or that her boyfriend doesn’t exist isn’t going to make her say “oh, you were so clever to see through my trick, now you have earned the right to date me”; it’s just going to confirm she was right to turn you down in the first place.
But you’ll find it just as often with random “advice” — and I use that word sarcastically — about how to keep women under control or keep the upper hand, such as having artificial limits on how often you’re willing to text or talk to them or how a fast a relationship is “supposed” to progress. Or, for that matter, being willing to actually be good in bed.
All of this just makes it impossible to build a real, genuine connection that it takes to start a relationship… or have good sex, for that matter.
Now to be fair: there have been folks who will advocate that women should play the same sort of weird head games — I’m sure a lot of you remember “The Rules” from the 90s and early 00s. But those are equally bullshit and the only way to “win” with ANYONE who plays stupid games like that is to walk away.
When you treat relationships and dating as something you have to ‘win” or being about who’s “in control”, you can never relax, you can never be genuine and you can never actually be HAPPY.
Small wonder that people who buy into the conflict mindset have relationships that fall apart in days or weeks; everyone is miserable and nobody is genuine and the entire relationship is just one altercation after another.
Relationships are collaborative. They’re a jam session; here’s what you bring to the table, here’s what they bring to the table, let’s put it together and see what happens! Trying to “control” the relationship is a great way to watch it blow up, messily and all over the place.
Mistake #3: You Don’t Listen To Women
The third mistake guys make is that a lot of folks get their information from the wrong sources.
Case in point: Back when I was studying pick-up, we were taught untold number of rules — handed down like Moses bring down the tablets from the mountain — about what women wanted in men, about what women thought about sex, how long it took for a woman to want to have sex with you and so on.
The problem is that these were all based on MEN’S ideas and assumptions about women and female sexuality. Had they actually talked to women about these “rules” and gotten their input on it? No. Had they done any research into studies about female sexuality or how social roles affect sex and sexuality? Nope.
They literally just came up with ‘em out of whole cloth based on ideas that they felt were true because “everyone knew” that women didn’t like sex and so on. Needless to say: pretty much none of ‘em actually worked in the real world.
But here we are, 15 years later and I STILL see people espousing the exact same bullshit — occasionally dressed up in “evo-psych” drag but having about as much validity as the idea that there’s an “evolutionary” basis for blue being a “boy’s” color. And of course, you can see people’s brains vaporlock when reality refuses to go along with their iron-clad rules.
<Women date men who don’t go to gym>
A great example of this is the idea that women don’t face rejection. And yeah… they do. All the time. I mean, even if we ignore pretty much every woman who’s ever complained about being turned down or rejected, there’s an entire INDUSTRY based around teaching women how to get a guy, how to keep him and how to avoid getting rejected by him. All you have to do is look at the cover of half the magazines in the racks or the relationship section at Barnes and Noble.
(Or hell, just check YouTube…)
One of the common reasons why guys struggle with dating is because they’re often reacting to THEIR idea of who women are and what they want… even as actual women say otherwise. Twitter user AmaniOnEarth provided an astounding example of this, sharing a conversation she had with a guy SHE SWIPED RIGHT ON on Tinder.
Despite the fact that she had ACTIVELY shown interest in as direct and unambiguous a way that you can, her match was still convinced that he was just too short for her and that she didn’t actually like him.
Not only did he snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but after she unmatched him after his misery vomit, he then he went on to stalk her on Instagram in order to keep complaining.
Literally all he had to do was shut up and take the win. But he was convinced that his self-limiting belief was more valid than the woman telling him that she was interested in him.
This is why it can be important to actually LISTEN to women and try to understand their side of things, instead of making assumptions without evidence outside of “well it’s OBVIOUSLY true” or on the word of dudes on shitty subreddits who’ll tell you that women are clearly lying because FUCK YOU PENIS, THAT’S WHY.
And that needs to come with a certain amount of self-awareness. The idea that women only want ONE kind of guy is, on its face, absurd. Even ignoring just going out and looking at couples in real life — not just on social media — you can look at your OWN preferences and notice how varied and diverse the body types YOU are into can be. And using the excuse of women squeeing over Hollywood celebrities or Instagram models is about as valid as insisting that men only want one body type based on the porn they’re jerking off to.
Hell, the same thing applies to dudes who send dick pics. Even if we focus exclusively on guys who honestly think that sending a dick pic would turn someone on, they are sending THE WRONG PICTURES. Women’s erotica and porn doesn’t feature disembodied phalluses; it’s about the entire person the penis is attached to. Studying the pictures women find hot will give you a better idea how to send pics they’d be into…
Now, there’re a lot of ways to get a better idea of women’s perspectives when it comes to dating and attraction. The obvious one is to literally just LISTEN to the women in your life. Not asking them to teach you how to be more attractive to them but just listening to their experiences, adventures and problems… WITHOUT assuming you know better.
But you can also learn a lot by paying attention to the advice that women give to other women so you can get an idea of what women struggle with, or studies that actually break through stereotypes about sex and sexuality. I recommend checking out Jenna Birch’s “The Love Gap” — though, in full disclosure, I’ve interviewed Jenna on this channel and I was interviewed for the book. I also recommend “Faking It” by Lux Alptrum and “What Do Women Want” by Daniel Bergner.
Keep in mind: the goal here isn’t too find new insight that you can use to get laid, it’s to build empathy and understanding so that you can start getting out of your own way. Once you realize how much of what you’re struggling against are your own misconceptions, it’s a hell of a lot easier to let go of assumptions and resentment and actually connect with people on a genuine level… which helps take your dating success to new levels.
But while we’re talking about assumptions, let’s talk about the other side of that coin:
Mistake #4: You’re Constantly Reinforcing Your Own Limitations
One of the things I see all the time — i see this in my clients, in the comments and the people who write into the column — are men who believe that their past mistakes mark out the limits of who and what they are.
Most of the time — not always, but most — this spins out of the first time they got a serious rejection. And for a lot of folks… that’s high-school or college.
And if I’m being honest: I get it. The scars of high-school run deep, especially when there’s a constant cultural drum-beat about how IMPORTANT high-school is supposed to be and the idea that high-school and college are the prime years of your life.
And they really aren’t. It’s possibly the WORST time to actually try to date because everyone’s freaking the fuck out between not knowing who you are as a person, your hormones are screaming at you and the social dynamic is less real life and more maximum security prison.
But the fact is that a lot of people take those early experiences — complete with the bullying, social pressure and everyone acting like it’s emotional Battle Royale — and define themselves by those initial experiences, extrapolating ENTIRE lives from it.
But even if you aren’t hauling around scars from high-school, people STILL treat their failures as definitional and, worse, keep telling themselves that this failure or that experience means that they cannot and will never improve.
The biggest issue here is that through constantly dwelling on and repeating the idea that you’re helpless and hopeless, you’re invoking what’s known as The Illusory Truth effect — a cognitive bias where people begin to believe what they hear over and over again. Repeated exposure to the idea causes you to believe that it is true, regardless of validity.
This is why people who find themselves in conspiracy theory forums start to buy into patently absurd ideas after sufficient exposure, or why the incel community becomes convinced that the reason for their being single isn’t because of glaring hatred for women but because they don’t squint just the right way.
That’s why the first step to breaking this mistake is to stop exposing yourself to those beliefs. Part of stopping being an incel is to leave the incel community and stop visiting the boards and subreddits that reinforce that outlook; people who step away from the community and actually interact with folks in the real world quickly discover just how wrong all of the beliefs the community taught them actually are.
The same goes with not repeating to yourself about how you’re a loser, that you’re hopeless or that this failure or that experience is proof that you will never improve or that nobody could ever find you attractive.
It seems absurdly simple: doctor it hurts when I do this, well stop doing that. But it’s true. The first step to improving your social skills and getting better at dating is to stop constantly telling yourself that you suck at dating.
And the next step is to accept that dating and socializing is a SKILL — one that takes practice.
Part of what’s absurd about this outlook that so many guys have is that dating is one of the few areas that people tend to assume that improvement is impossible.
It doesn’t matter that we don’t believe someone is going to be an expert at basketball the first time they ever set foot on the court or that you’re going to be able to write amazing code the first time you sit down at the keyboard. People still buy into the dating binary: you’re either good with women or you aren’t AND THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.
The problem is as much about perception as it is about attitude. Part of why it seems like other people have it easier than you isn’t because they won the genetic lottery or they were just naturally gifted. It’s that you never see the whole picture of somebody else’s life.
You haven’t seen them struggle with talking to people, the mistakes they’ve made or even the things that taught them how to socialize more effectively. You’re only seeing the end result of everything they’ve gone through.
Michael Jordan didn’t start off as the greatest basketball player in the world. Bruce Lee wasn’t a pure martial arts prodigy who never had to work at it. Everyone who’s good at something put time and effort into their craft and into their skills. What you’re seeing is the result of practice, study and repetition, not just an instant gift that you never received.
When you define yourself by what you ASSUME are your limitations, you immediately cut yourself off from your ability to grow and improve. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy; you believe you can’t succeed, so you don’t put the effort in to learning and developing your social skills. And then, when get turned down again or flub something, you take that as confirmation that you can’t succeed. And so the cycle continues.
Social skills are SKILLS and any skill can be improved with time, effort and deliberate practice. And here’s the thing: nobody cares when you started or when you had your first relationship. I can tell you from personal experience: nobody I have ever dated or slept with has EVER asked me about how many sex partners I’ve had or when I met my first girlfriend. Women aren’t dating your resume or your relationship history, they’re dating you.
And you don’t need to be the equivalent of an Olympic athlete to be successful; like I said: you’re not fighting your way past having been pre-rejected. You’re just trying to connect with people who WANT TO CONNECT WITH YOU TOO.
Which actually leads to our last — and possibly most important — mistake.
Mistake #5: Dating Shouldn’t Be Difficult
Here’s a secret about dating: if dating feels like you’re pulling teeth, you’re doing it wrong.
Now this is the thing that brings up a lot of argument. I can already hear a lot of you limbering up your fingers to yell in the comments about how it’s impossible to meet women and the women you meet don’t like you and so on. Hear me out.
I go into this in my book Simplified Dating — check the show notes for a link where you can get your copy — but part of the problem is that men who are trying to get better at dating tend to devote all of their energy into the wrong areas. Worrying about having the perfect physique or being “high value” or specific flirting techniques are all examples of throwing effort in areas that give the least return for your investment.
What really matters? Building chemistry. Understanding the important aspects of attraction, what actually makes a woman want to spend time with a man and — importantly — how to find and MEET women who are actually right for you. It does you no good to go trying to meet people who you may think are hot if you have nothing in common and who are fundamentally incompatible with you.
Now I will be the first to tell you: MEETING women and finding women who you’re compatible with is a numbers game. Even people who might be right for you may not be in the right place in their life to date. Or you and they may not be right for each other YET. That’s just life. But you maximize the odds of meeting people who are right for you by simply being social, talking to people and actually living your life in ways that brings you in contact with folks — guys, gals and non-binary pals — that you’d want to hang out with even if dating were off the table.
Online dating has its own challenges… but as with a lot of dating challenges, this has everything to do with the way men and women use online dating differently. I have an entire episode about this; hit the thing or check the show notes to check it out.
But the number one reason why guys tend to struggle in dating is that they put far more energy into chasing women who don’t chase them back. They are putting all of their time and effort trying to change the mind of someone who, frankly, isn’t interested.
The Friend Zone is a classic example of this. Men who get “trapped” in The Friend Zone could leave at any time; all they have to do is let go of that particular person and go pursue someone else. They CHOOSE not to give up on her and, as a result, they are throwing time and energy at women who aren’t into them.
When you find that someone just isn’t willing to keep up their end of the conversation, or you struggle to actually get them to reply to your texts or they either ghost you or simply give you reasons why they can’t see you… those are all signs that you’re investing effort in ways that will never pay off. It doesn’t matter how much you water a dead plant, it’s not going to grow.
When you find someone you’re vibing with, you’re compatible with and is into you? Then things feel MUCH EASIER. You don’t struggle to keep the conversation flowing because they’re enjoying it as much as you are and they’re contributing as much as you are. You don’t have a hard time trying to make plans because THEY WANT TO SEE YOU TOO and it’s just a matter of making your schedules match up. If you feel like you’re struggling to get their attention or it seems like you’re putting in all the work with very little return… then it’s time to step back and decide that maybe you should be putting more effort into a relationship that’s actually MUTUAL.
Now I’m not gonna lie: dating has its challenges. Social skills are skills and you have to practice them to improve. But when you can recognize these common mistakes, it all comes much easier. So if you’re struggling with dating, take some time, fix these mistakes and watch how dating goes from something you hate… to something you enjoy.