Last week’s Ask Dr. NerdLove brought up a question that I hear from a lot of people: how do you keep a woman’s interest in you instead of all of those other guys out there? And the answer is actually fairly simple: you show your value.
Now, I know a few of you are recoiling because this sounds like some typical PUA shit. But stick with me; this isn’t about gimmicky “DHV” (demonstration of higher value) stories about how you used to date a model (who does’t exist) or the time you saved your best friend from a bar fight (that never actually happened). Those are bullshit stories designed to create a false front and, honestly, not only have women heard every variation but nobody believes them, either.
Nobody’s going to look at someone who’s clearly nervous just being in the bar and buy “oh yes, I totally believe you dated two supermodels back home.” Nobody cares about your lifestyle resume padding that turned “I like posting pictures on Instagram” to “I’m a professional photographer!” or how handing out fliers got turned into “Yeah, I’m a club promoter”.
No, you want to demonstrate real value – reasons why someone will prefer you and want to spend time with you instead of someone with lots of flash and looks but very little substance. Flash might get attention, but value is what makes them stay… and come back for more.
Value and Status vs. Flash and Noise
The concept of “value” is something that comes up a lot in PUA circles. If you’re going to be the “player” versus the “average frustrated chump”1 then you want to have lots of “social value”. They talk about women – especially the women you meet in clubs – as looking for proof that you’re of equal or higher “status” as they are; if you’re not at least as “high value” as they are, then they’re just going to move on to somebody else and leave you standing there with your metaphorical dick in your hand. Why was Jock McPopCollar able to convince the woman you approached to go off with him instead? Well, clearly he was “higher value” than you, bra, so women “instinctually” flock to him. It’s just evolution, man.
The idea of value – who’s got it and who doesn’t – comes up a lot. Dude trying to “steal” your girl? Make him “lose value” by implying he’s actually subservient to you (“oh you’re a photographer? Awesome, take a picture of me and Giselle here!”). Get a woman craving your approval by negging her and lowering her value while demonstrating yours, and so forth and so on. Except none of that is value. Neither is being the best-looking man in the room or the smoothest talker. It’s not about having the flashiest clothes or the most expensive watch. That’s all flash. It’s trickery and distraction. It’s the magician waving his hand over here so that you don’t notice what his other hand is doing.
Value is what you are. It’s what you bring to the table. It’s about being your authentic self. It’s knowing what you’re worth and you’re worth a lot. You might not be the hottest guy in the room with the best abs. You might not be the richest or most connected guy. You’re the guy who knows that you’ve got a lot to offer and what you have is damned good.
But here’s the part that trips people up: you can’t broadcast value. This is why the PUA trickery falls apart if someone so much as looks at it cross-eyed: you’re busy telling people that you have status and value… and that’s one of the surest signs that you don’t have it. Just as the man who tells everyone that he’s a “nice guy” isn’t, telling people about your value and status is the first thing that makes them doubt you. You demonstrate value. Not through your stories or through back-handed compliments, but through your behavior. Someone who’s high-value is calm, even a little zen, in the face of adversity. He doesn’t have to tell people he’s a good guy, he just acts like one without calling attention to it. Someone who shows they have high value is going to be magnetic. Someone who doesn’t show they have value is going to watch people drift away; they’re showing that they don’t see anything of value in themselves, so why should anyone else?
So how does one demonstrate value?
Straighten Up And Dress Well
You may notice that I talk a lot about style and body language here. This is because these are the first things people notice about you and those seemingly minor issues tell them everything about you. The way you stand, the way you sit, walk and the way you dress communicate volumes about your character and how you see yourself… and other people are going to pick up on that. This is going to be the first sign that tells people whether you have high or low value. To give an example, let’s take a look at this photo:
This is not someone radiating value. Quite the opposite: he’s a pissed off failure. Everything about his body language is telling people that he’s trying to avoid people. He’s curling up in on himself, taking up as little space as possible. He’s slouched over, giving signs of defeat and low self-esteem. The message that he’s projecting is that he’s miserable and that he believes he’s worthless. Or. Y’know. Practicing for the Zombie Walk.
Someone who has value – who’s demonstrating their value and status – is going to walk with their back straight and their shoulders back. They’re not afraid to take up space. Their body language is open, with their arms at their sides rather than held in front of them or crossed in a defensive posture. Dressing well is another visual clue to one’s value; it’s an external sign of who you are and, critically how you think about yourself. A lot of people assume that this means wearing flashy or expensive clothing, which is a mistake. Price and glitz aren’t signs of value; fit and style are.
See, it’s not about having the sharkskin suit and silk tie: It’s about wearing clothes that fit properly and looking like you actually put some thought into how you present yourself. Clothes that are too large make you look diminished. Clothes that are too tight make you look like you’re delusional at best and incredibly vain at worst. The price matters less than the overall package. A man in a well-fitting shirt and slacks from Express that matches his archetype is going to be demonstrating more value than someone standing around awkwardly in an Zegna suit that makes him look more like someone in a costume than in clothing. If you’re going to demonstrate value, you want to make sure you’re doing so from the moment that people lay eyes on you. Otherwise you’re stuck playing damage control for the rest of the evening.
One of the biggest mistakes guys make when they’re trying to impress women is that they believe they have to be perfect. They can’t show any flaws. They have to be living the ideal life, where they’re always winning and everything is a goddamn triumph.
They can’t have any guilty pleasures. They can’t have any interests that people think are lame, silly or absurd. They can’t show weakness. They can’t admit to doubt or confusion or fear. They have to march in lock-step with the image of the “real man”. As a result: they can’t connect with anyone. Everything about them is surface; all of their depth and authenticity has been balled up and locked away, for fear of appearing like anything less than whatever bullshit idea they’ve been fed that women are attracted to. And what happens to these guys? They approach woman after woman and get shot down again and again. They may look good at first glance, but it’s a façade. The exterior looks nice but it takes less than a minute to realize there’s nothing behind it.
Someone who has value is comfortable with vulnerability. They know they may not be everyone’s cup of tea and they accept that because, frankly, not everybody is going to be theirs either. They don’t hide from their truth. They don’t worry about being judged. They don’t feel the need to defend or justify what they like because they don’t feel shame for liking it. They don’t hide how they feel because they don’t see it as something to be ashamed of. They’re not looking for permission from others to feel the way they feel, to like what they like or to be who they are. You don’t want to put on a performance. At best, you get a kabuki version of “you” – all exaggerations and stylized gestures that only serves to hide the real you. At worst… well, you end up trying to be someone else entirely, which never works.
And the thing that people don’t realize is that never showing weakness isn’t the same thing as “confidence”. One of the best ways to melt someone’s heart? Opening up a little. Whenever I’ve approached someone and screwed up out of nerves, I own it. “Sorry, you seem like you’re really cool, so I’m a bit nervous talking to you. So… hi!” This isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. You like her, you want her to like you, too, and you’re secure enough in yourself to be honest instead of playing it off and making everyone feel awkward and uncomfortable.
Recognize That Not Everyone Needs To Like You
Another behavior that demonstrates value is a lack of neediness. People who are needy lack value in themselves; instead, they put too much value in everyone else. They’re almost entirely concerned with the thoughts and opinions of everyone around them. They become desperate for external validation and the approval of others. At the more extreme ends of things, needy, low-value guys get hung up on winning that one woman no matter what. One of the worst examples I’d ever seen was at a party where four guys were competing over the same woman. It was quite possibly the saddest thing ever; it literally devolved into the four of them having a push-up contest to try to impress her.
To put it mildly, none of this was demonstrating value; they were all so invested in trying to get with this one woman that they were willing to completely sacrifice their dignity and self-respect in hopes that this would somehow magically get them into her panties.
Someone who has value, on the other hand, understands that he’s not going to win them all. Not everybody is going to like him and that’s ok. The fact that someone doesn’t like them isn’t going to destroy them because… well, why should it? It may sting – getting rejected sucks – but it’s a minor inconvenience at best. One person didn’t like him. Big goddamn deal. All that’s happened is that he’s been freed to go find someone else who does like him instead of making getting the approval and validation of this single individual the center of their universe.
Yeah, she may be the hottest thing since World War III… but there are other hot women out there. She may be a great person, but at the end of the day, she’s just someone he barely knows who’s shown that they’re not compatible. Better to roll on and find someone who he is compatible with instead. And if she’s especially mean about rejecting him? Well then she’s proven that he’s better off without him. After all: why should he concern himself with with the opinions of assholes?
Something that high-value men have in common is one that a lot of people don’t do: they take chances. They take risks. They’re not afraid of failing because failing at something doesn’t mean that you are a failure. Part of demonstrating value is that you show that you aren’t paralyzed by the fear of the unknown or that you aren’t locked into a rut. It shows that, even if you have doubts or concerns, you’re still willing to take a chance instead of sitting back and assuming you’d fail. Now don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that you go out and do something foolhardy like blowing the rent money on roulette in Vegas. It means that you try things that you’re afraid of. It means being willing to err on the side of having an awesome story to tell later.
The thing is, most people don’t take chances. They’re incredibly risk-averse, preferring a life of certainty and minimal excitement. Their life is dull and repetitious, a daily trudge through the same thing, day in and day out, as their dreams and ambitions fade away into the fog of mediocrity. Someone who takes chances is someone who’s inviting excitement, even some risk, into his life. They have passion and drive and a certain devil-may-care attitude that propels them through life when other people would hang back. Someone who takes risks is someone whose life is more than “wake up, go to work, go home, repeat”. They’ve pursued dreams, even if those dreams didn’t work out. They’ve faced things they fear – if only so they can say they did it. They don’t exist, they live. Just as important, however, is that people who take risks demonstrate that they have a positive attitude. They don’t let themselves get held back by self-limiting beliefs and cycles of negativity that say, “it can’t be done,” or “there’s no point to even trying,” and end up quitting before they even begin.
Failure isn’t something to be avoided, because – as much as it may suck – failure is how you learn. It’s how you improve and learn how to do better later. People who are willing to take chances are inherently saying that “yes, I may fail… but I might succeed too.”
How Does This All Work Though?
Recently, television provided an excellent example of demonstrating value. The reality show “Married At First Sight” put two people together in an arranged marriage. Upon seeing her groom for the first time, the bride quite literally burst into tears of despair. But despite being struck with a bukkake scene of humiliation – being not just rejected but super-rejected in front of a national audience – the groom shrugged it off. He respected his new bride’s boundaries – no touching, no referring to her as his wife – without complaint. He took it all in stride, being there when she might be interested maaaaybe snuggling for a little bit but keeping his distance when she wasn’t.
And it worked. He was showing his value, which at first intrigued her, then attracted her, and then won her over. So you’re probably wondering just how demonstrating value works to, say, keep someone you’re interested in from going off with somebody else? Well, let’s start putting it together, shall we?
Imagine a scene at a party. You’re talking with someone and there seems to be something there. She’s cute, she’s smart, she’s funny, she’s ambitious… everything you like in a woman. But as you’re hanging out, Jockface McPopCollar rolls up on you both and starts bragging about his awesome job and trying to squeeze you out. How do you avoid getting pushed out of the conversation and hopefully keep Jockface from snatching your new friend away to the back room for fifteen minutes of squishy noises and a month of regret?
The low-value response is simply to assume that she’s going to like him better and give up. Similarly, someone with low value might freak out over the intruder and try to push him out of the conversation – getting indignant that he’s there, trying to imply that he has a girlfriend, trying to clown on him until he goes away. All any of this does is betray the fact that the person freaking out feels that he has no value; over-reacting to another person simply coming into the conversation makes you look hellishly insecure.
The high-value response, on the other hand, is to take it in all stride. Jockface is simply not a threat. The worst case scenario is that your new friend likes him better. And if so… well there’re other women at the party; it’s better to focus on the people who like you than to make a fuss over one who likes someone else. If he’s actively trying to squeeze you out – interposing himself between you and the woman you were talking to, trying to drag her away – then there are ways of handling it via social pressure and body language. But on the whole, someone who’s high value keeps his cool. You engage your competition but keep your focus on the woman you’re interested in. You’re better able to connect with her because you have stories to tell and live a genuinely interesting life. You’re not intimidated by Jockface. You’re more confident than he is, more engaging than he is. You’ve been showing that you bring far more to the table than he does… which is why eventually he gives up and moves on to other prospects. And you’ve done it without having to use tricks or deception. You were simply your best, authentic self.
You demonstrated your value. And when you do, other people don’t stand a chance.
- God, I’m getting migraines just bringing up the jargon… [↩]