Today’s question comes from Barry O’Herlihy:

Ok so, recently I was going through Dirk’s blog and came across his “stop blaming others” post. However, it’s not the post I wanted to email you about, but rather, a line from it where he talks about refraining from using cockblocks as an excuse why she didn’t like you. So that got me here wondering, how should one handle cockblocks in social settings or if her friends/friend tries pulling her away?

It’s always bittersweet when I read the late, great Dirk Manley’s blog. He’s certainly right that it’s a waste of time to be sour over losing a girl to another guy — if you’re good enough at this, you’ll be doing that to plenty of guys yourself.

There are, of course, ways to help yourself when dealing with a woman’s meddling friends or jealous admirers. But this is another of those topics where the pickup gurus make guys believe there’s a foolproof, Mortal Kombat punch-kick combo that will chase away any interloper.

The truth is, no such technique exists. Sometimes bad logistics can be overcome, and sometimes they can’t. Fortunately, I’ve rarely dealt with c-blocking men in San Francisco — they’re often too scared to approach even when the woman is alone and waving a “talk to me” sign. It’s her female friends you often need to watch out for, and a great wingman can help there.

Also, there’s an antisocial streak to this subject. Some guys will call someone a “cockblock” or “obstacle” when maybe that person is just her friend and wants to have a good time with her. After all, the world doesn’t revolve around you and your pickup agenda. Trying to remove a girl from her friends right away is not an alpha-male move; it’s a dick move.

Anyway, in actual c-block situations at a bar or party, a guy should take action depending on the circumstances. Here are a few:

The guy/girl is her friend: I touched on this at the 25:30 mark in my Nerd Nite video. As a certain famous ballplayer learned, you ignore or demean a woman’s friends at your own peril. But if you simply exercise good social skills and win them over, you’ll prevent a lot of these problems.

Still, sometimes her friends will either be jealous of you, jealous of her, or simply be unfriendly and try pulling her away from you. Sadly, many groups of women, no matter how attractive and friendly, will include one of these wet blankets. You still want to kill them with kindness, but you’ll also want to call them out.

Without showing anger, tell the girl that her friend doesn’t seem to like you much, and that you’ll leave if she wants, but you’d like to stick around and get to know her better. Often the girl will acknowledge that her friend is being a downer, and if she likes you, she’ll invite you to stay. At that point, there’s little her friend can do but pout or try to make your girl leave the party. 

I wrote about such an experience two years ago, though I didn’t find out until later that the guy had a crush on her and was trying in vain to make her leave. 

The guy doesn’t know her and is trying to pick her up: I did a podcast with Eastside Mike where he talked about this scenario in New York. Some might go the intimidation route, but if you weigh 147 pounds like me, pissing off a drunk guy is simply not an option.

A little diplomacy will still go a long way. Rather than get into a verbal war where neither of you gets the girl, just be friendly with him for a few minutes while keeping your focus on the girl. Often his game will be so drunken or inept that he’ll hang himself by his own rope — I especially like it when he’s trying Mystery Method or something childish like that. At that point, after you’ve had a little rapport with the girl, you can lead her away.

The other guy flirting with her is better than you: Look, you’re not going to get every girl. She might dig the other guy’s Australian accent or “Lord of the Rings” tattoo and decide he’s the one she wants to talk to. Rather than go all Tonya Harding and club him in the knee, just give the man respect, learn from what he did right, and go to the next girl.

If you have your own tips to share on this topic, please do comment.

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When to Approach a Large Group

by GK on July 4, 2011 · 2 comments

We’ve often heard about the “three-second rule” when it comes to approaching people at a bar or party, but I was reminded of one scenario where waiting a little longer can pay off.

Watch out for those big waves, dude.

I was with a student at a bar in the Mission recently, and over our shoulders stood a party of perhaps eight people — guys and women, including a couple of approach-worthy girls. The student  bravely entered, and it turned out he’d joined a birthday party — in fact, he’d approached the birthday girl. She had friends around her, but she remained in one-on-one conversation with him for perhaps 10 minutes.

(And though he was my student, he already showed far more social grace than a certain athlete at a birthday party I recently wrote about.)

My student got a little nervous and left the birthday girl prematurely, but I’d be hornswoggled if I was going to let the story end that way. Always be closing, remember? I was going to send him back in, but before I could, we noticed something.

Every now and then a new arrival would join her group, and each time it would start a wave effect. Everyone would stop what they were doing and greet the friend in excitement, and after a minute or two, things would die down and they’d go back to their conversations.

I did not want to send my guy in there during such a wave, lest he be drowned in it. The girl would be too distracted to talk to him, and he might feel too awkward to carry on. So we waited for a lull where she was only talking to one person, and we sent him in then.

Like the hero he is, the student got back into conversation with her, and he even survived a little wave or two when other friends were around. He ended up with her phone number and let her get back to her friends after that.

I still think it’s better to approach sooner rather than later, but sometimes, waiting for an emotional ebb in the group has its logistical advantages. If you get caught in a wave after your approach, don’t panic. Just keep your cool, let the girl give her hugs and have her talk, perhaps talk to someone else in her group, and re-engage when you can get her attention again.

And when possible, swim with a buddy.

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Does game really matter? I’ve seen it debated, most recently in the comments section of my post on looking for women’s interest. Heck, even I’ve contradicted myself — on one hand I talk about how technique is overrated and often irrelevant, and yet, um, have you noticed the name of this blog?

My buddy Tre Tre represented my thoughts perfectly in those comments. And I’m turning to him yet again, because he had a jaw-dropping experience over the weekend that demonstrates our point further. Game doesn’t matter in my life anymore, or in his. But it does matter when you’re repeating the same social mistakes. Even when you’re famous and rich.

I can’t help but feel a little “Revenge of the Nerds” vindication from this, but I’m not repeating this story to make fun of the guy involved. And I am not TMZ — I will name no names here. I’m into teaching lessons, and in this case, Tre Tre is the teacher. He spent 10 minutes helping a famous athlete understand why he failed to get a beautiful woman’s phone number — a number Tre Tre had succeeded in getting.

It all went down at a bar in the Marina, and if you’ve read my blog you know I consider that neighborhood a cesspool of frat-boy superficiality. Tre Tre was there for a birthday party — the woman of honor was the sister of his friend’s girlfriend, and he’d met her before but didn’t know her well. He assures me that she’s so smoking hot, she could  power a small city. In addition, she’s down to earth and a woman of substance.

Nerds 1, Jocks 0

 Jocks rule the Marina, and they pick up many a woman there. So it’s no surprise that two well-known pro athletes were prowling this bar, and when one of them spotted the birthday girl, he zoomed in on her like Google Earth.

The athlete did what has probably worked on other women countless times — he offered to take her away from her group and buy her a drink. When you’re tall, famous and making millions of dollars a year, that’s often all it takes, especially in a place like the Marina. 

But the birthday girl politely refused — she was with friends and family, including her parents, and she wanted to spend her time with them. I should point out that she doesn’t follow sports and had no idea who this athlete was. When her group told her who he was, she didn’t care.

There were other girls in the bar showing this athlete some interest, but he was undeterred. He approached the birthday girl’s table and tried forcing his way next to her.  One of two guys at the table (Tre Tre being the other) confronted the athlete and told him that she meant what she said — she wanted to spend her time with her party. But as long as she didn’t complain, he could sit with them.

The birthday girl didn’t make a fuss, and the athlete offered to buy a round of drinks for the entire table (about half accepted).  He then tried having a one-way conversation with her that wasn’t going anywhere, and the others in the party — some of whom were his fans and female — were getting annoyed.

At one point the athlete told the birthday girl that it seemed the group didn’t didn’t like him; her response was that they didn’t even have a thought in their mind about him, but they cared about her and cared if she was having fun.

After desperately hanging around her some more, the athlete made a futile attempt to close the deal by making this grand romantic gesture: “Are you DTF?” If you don’t know what that means, you clearly haven’t watched “Jersey Shore.” Here’s a definition. I remind you, her dad was right there.

I’d like to say the birthday girl threw her drink in his face. But instead she just said, “No thanks.” And the athlete finally walked away. And by walked away, I mean getting up from the booth, walking over the table and into the aisle.  Not a graceful way of handling “no.” 

Later, Tre Tre got into conversation with the girl, and they flirted for about 15 minutes. She told him she heard he had broken up with his girlfriend, and he confirmed that. He asked for her number, and he got it.

When that was done and Tre Tre was walking through the crowd, he got a tap on the shoulder. He turned around and looked up, and returning his gaze was none other than the athlete.

Humbled by his trainwreck of a pickup attempt, the athlete asked Tre Tre — who generously stands at 5-foot-9 — how he was able to get that woman’s number (of course it helped that he was in her party). When Tre Tre got the athlete’s permission to be frank, he obliged, and they went down the list: 

  • He didn’t listen to her. The athlete tried strong-arming the girl away from her party even after she told him why she was there.
  • He didn’t take a genuine interest in her and it was obvious he saw her only as a conquest.
  • He tried using his status to impress the girl rather than connect with her.
  • He either insulted or ignored her friends and family to the point that they hated him.
  • And oh yeah, he made that DTF remark.

Maybe the athlete saw his own mortality, and he knew there would come a time when fame or money alone wouldn’t be enough to attract a high-quality woman. But I hope he learned from the experience. I’ll be happy to coach him in exchange for some front-row seats.

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I’ve talked before about the benefits of making friends with women rather than just pursuing them, and I was reminded of it last night with some helpful feminine insight.

I was sucking down Malbec with Tre Tre and his female friend from out of town — she’s a lovely, outgoing woman with plenty of dating experience.  The topic that arose was whether a woman will make eye contact with a strange guy from across the bar if she finds him good-looking. It’s the kind of dramatic foreplay we’ve seen in countless movies and TV shows.

In the overworked minds of men, we’re often looking for such a sign as a green light to approach her. The industry term is an IOI, or indicator of interest. Some gurus will tell you that a man needs exactly three IOIs, divided by her height, multiplied by your hair color and subtracting the number of letters in her middle name, to determine if she likes you. Of course, I flunked high school math.

I’ve taught guys the importance of making and keeping eye contact with women — body language matters, remember? And I’d advise it for women, too. But I’m sure there have been times where I didn’t approach a girl because she looked away as soon as she caught me looking at her. Not because I lost interest, but because I incorrectly presumed there was none on her end.

Tre Tre’s friend, who is single and as confident a woman as you’ll want — actor Matt Dillon once hit on her in a bar, only she turned him down — pointed out that she usually isn’t making eye contact with guys she wants to meet. Because she’d be taking a risk by doing so. It’s a subtle risk, but to the female ego, it’s no small one.

“If I make eye contact with the guy and he looks away, I think he’s rejecting me,” she said.

As she mentioned it, Tre Tre and I both recalled that of all the women we’ve met in our years, few of them had made much eye contact before our approach. Often, they were just girls who were near us — though it was often intentional — and we started talking to them by making a comment or overhearing what they were saying. In fact, I can think of girls who I thought were looking at me with interest, only it turned out they weren’t.

(The big exception to this is on a dance floor, where there is a lot more staring down and I do think her eye contact means a lot before the approach.)

This game is meant to be challenging — and a little weird. If women would make more eye contact with us, they’d probably have a lot more of us calling them. But the same could be said about women approaching guys.  Men are expected to take the risks in seduction, and we cannot look for any flags to wave us in.

This isn’t all bad, though. Because if you damn the consequences and simply act, you’ll be exactly the kind of guy she’s looking for.

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They say we hurt the ones we love most, but that might also go for striking fear into them. I’m talking fear of the Jason Vorhees variety. And I faced that fear last weekend in one of the world’s loveliest locations.

One of my best friends, J-Raw, asked me earlier this year to be the best man at his wedding in Carmel. I said yes in an instant, and I looked forward to the day. But my job came with one oft-dreaded requirement: the best man’s speech.

I’d never given one before, and I found myself asking friends for advice and researching speech tips online — much like I once researched how to talk to girls. (Believe it or not, people likewise charge for products that teach best-man toasts. There is a market for everything, it seems.)

Based on the advice I’d gathered, I devised a little formula for giving my speech, and it worked beautifully. Compliments galore. So for when your day comes, I thought I’d offer some Best Man Game.

First, a side note: The paper-and-lace boutonniere you see me wearing was created by J-Raw’s bride, and I thought it was a creative touch. I’ll definitely be wearing it again with my blazer, and I’d recommend a real or manmade boutonniere for any guy looking to boost his style.

Side side note: Speaking of nuptials, I just heard that Greg of Los Angeles, the former Charisma Arts instructor and friend of the blog, is engaged. With Rob Overman also wed, I’m quickly becoming the last of the Bachelor Mohicans.

Anyway, let’s talk toasts. And before I advise you on what to do, I think it’s more important to remember what not to do:

  • Don’t let the speech go over 10 minutes, unless you have Martin Luther King’s gift for oratory (five minutes will do just fine).
  • Don’t tell any raunchy jokes or stories. I kept this in mind because J-Raw is the best wingman I ever had. I actually went to a wedding last year where the best man’s speech included talking about the strippers they met during their bachelor party. You could hear crickets a zip code away. My buddy Tre Tre gave me this advice: “You don’t want the hot girl complimenting you on your speech. If you can get the grandmother to walk up to you and tell you she loved what you said, you did it right.”
  •  You can poke light fun at the groom, but don’t turn it into a roast. This day is about him and his bride, not you channeling your inner Dave Chappelle.
  • Don’t get drunk beforehand. I limited myself to one drink before my toast, and it kept me from seeking liquid courage, which would only make me look sloppy.
  • Don’t wait till the last minute to think of what to say. I wrote my speech days in advance and added a few details on the wedding day, which helped my confidence tremendously.
  • Don’t try to give the most original speech ever. This is one case where it’s OK to be mediocre. Stick to the basics, and the rest is gravy.

Now, on to the content. I structured my speech like so:

Phase One: Thank the parents. Be sure to give their names, and thank them for whatever role they played in the wedding. I included the fact that they came from as far away as Mexico and Hong Kong, and I also thanked them for raising two wonderful, good-looking people.

You may also want to thank everyone for coming and contributing to such a joyous occasion.

Phase Two: Talk about the couple and how cool they are. In my case, I gave the story of how they met in their graphic-design class. The class was essentially divided into white and Asian tables, and by beginning their interracial romance, they got all the students mingling. I said the United Nations never did so much for race relations.

Phase Three: Talk about the groom and what a great husband he’ll be. In classic push-pull fashion, I teased J-Raw for looking bad in blue paint when he agreed to my idea of being Smurfs for Halloween, but I used that to show what a loyal friend he is. And I got him some applause when I mentioned how he changed my tire when we got a flat on the way to Carmel.

Phase Four: Compliment the bride. This was challenging for me because I don’t know the bride that well, so I went with something simple. I said that as cold as our outdoor ceremony was, she exudes the opposite amount of warmth toward my friend. And that from seeing them together, I know they’ll look as happy in 50 years as they did that day.

Phase Five: Tie it together with a touching quote. I must admit I stole this from the very awesome Art of Manliness blog, but it was a crowd-pleaser: “I’ve heard it said that marriage isn’t about finding a person to live with. It’s about finding the person you can’t live without. I know my friend has done that.”

Phase Six: Raise your glass and have everyone show their undying support for the couple’s undying love. And scene.

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I promised to occasionally sprinkle some sugar on my nutritious postings, and as I prepare to be the best man at my friend’s wedding this weekend, I thought I’d give you a former student’s encouraging story. I hope you’ll see that breakthroughs in dating don’t often come in an instant burst of glory. Sometimes it’s a modest flash of accomplishment in between struggles.

Mike was in his early 20s when he visited me from the East Coast for a bootcamp about 1 1/2 years ago. He had almost zero experience with girls, so we took things slow while giving him a solid foundation for the future. His highlight that weekend didn’t so much come from his own interactions — though he did have a couple of good ones — but from watching me talk to a girl for an hour and get her number.

Mike has maintained enough drive to keep in touch with me since then, and he’s taken his lumps in the dating world. Girls were flaky or weird, or sent mixed messages, and I could see the frustration in him. I offered advice where I found it necessary, but I also just urged him to be patient. As long as he was doing the basic things right, good times would come.

Indeed, he’s had much better times lately with one girl he likes, and it affirms my credo that often when things go wrong in dating, it’s not you. It’s her.

Here’s Mike’s recent e-mail to me:

“I met her about a month ago while I was out with some friends. That night I was low energy and not really talking to her much. One of my friends actually talked to her a bunch that night and I noticed how into him she was, only because he was high energy and talking a bunch. He has a girlfriend so he wasn’t trying to get into her pants or anything, he was just being friendly.

So I ran into the same girl another night, and I made a point to talk as much as possible. To her, to her friends, to everyone. I wasn’t thinking, I was just saying and doing. After about an hour of this she started insisting that we go to her house. So things went well that night, and more important to me, we’ve hung out a few times since and she wants to see me again.

I have been in similar situations, multiple times, and for whatever reason, things didn’t work out. I learned from those “failures” and used my wisdom to help things go better with this girl. But I also give a lot of the credit to this girl. She is what I would call “normal” and doesn’t have the same issues hang-ups that the girls I’ve dated in the past. Or maybe I’m just not triggering those issues/hang-ups anymore. I’m doing lots of leading, but this girl is also doing plenty as well. Or at least making it obvious that she’s willing to follow my lead.

Yes my “game” is better than it was a year ago, but I am convinced the dating world is a numbers game and you may have to go on dates with a bunch of girls before you find one that’s a good fit. I’m not motivated to go on dates with three girls a week, so finding a good girl takes me a while, but I’m OK with that.

As for this girl, she’s not the girl of my dreams, but she’s the closest thing I’ve found yet, so I’m really happy about that. I remember being jealous of friends who were in relationships similar to what I’m in now. Finally I’m there.

Unfortunately/fortunately she moves to Texas in two weeks. I like her a lot, and I wish she was living in Baltimore longer, but I know she’s not the girl of my dreams, and I won’t have to break up with her this way.

I’m sure I’ll find another girl that likes watching basketball, likes the taste of beer and also likes me. So I feel good about my dating future. Thanks for all your advice/help over the years.”

Thank you, Mike.

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On Being Yourself

by GK on May 24, 2011 · 5 comments

My buddy Tre Tre pointed me to this blog post about the PUA world today:

It interested me because it’s written not by some Community junkie, but by a female psychologist who recently ordered “The Game” and Mystery’s book. Her post reads as follows:

I recently recommended (the books) to a friend of mine for her son who she said was depressed over his lack of ability to get a date. At first, I started to give the same old tired advice. “Just tell him to be himself and a woman will find that attractive.” “Bullshit,” I thought to myself. “Give him a copy of ‘The Pick Up Artist’ by Mystery or ‘The Game’ by Neil Strauss and let me know how it goes.” Two months later? My friend tells me her son is no longer depressed and is dating and learning how to interact with women.

Score one for Mystery and Strauss. Zero for dumb advice on how to “be yourself.”

Though I may not agree with some of the methods in those two books, I find it encouraging that “normal” folks out there are offering them praise. I still want to vomit whenever some judgmental fool who knows little about attraction mocks guys in the Community and tells them they’re better off just “being yourself.”

Of course, being yourself is the right answer — if you know who you are and like yourself, and you’re able to present the best of yourself to a new woman. But inexperienced guys can’t do that, just as I once couldn’t. Back then, telling me to be myself — as some people did — would have been like telling me not to prepare for a job interview, or telling me I could learn the guitar without taking lessons. In other words, it was the worst advice I could get.

In the first months after I discovered the PUA material out there and I realized I’d been doing the wrong things with girls for so many years — in part because girls and the media told me to act that way — I became pissed off, and I can see it in some of the comments in that blog post. I’m sure I’m not the only guy to have felt scammed by our culture, and it took me a while to get fully over that.

But as I commented, once a guy gains confidence and a better sense of himself, “be yourself” is the best advice ever. It means he will attract women who are similar to him and he’ll have a better chance of happy relationships. I don’t need to wonder anymore whether I have a better chance with a ditzy Marina sorority girl or a Potrero Hill movie nerd.

And what can a guy do when he’s not there yet? Perhaps the better advice for him is, “Be Yourselves.” Explore every facet of who you are and what you enjoy in life. Try some new hobbies and travel to new places. Say some things to women that you’re normally too scared to say. Ultimately, you’ll be able to pick a guy you like. And so will she.


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Rob: Stay on Her Radar

by GK on May 19, 2011 · 12 comments

For today’s show, we have DJ Rob taking a request from our faithful reader Erich. The question reads like this:

“I’d like to suggest a future blog post for you GK and Rob to discuss. The differences you’ve noticed between a woman that needs to be pursued for a longer period of time before she agrees to go out, versus a woman who’s just stringing a guy along and is unwilling to vocalize she’s not interested.

Recently I talked to a buddy of mine at work who’s good with women. He got married to a coworker a year ago who he says he pursued to go out for ten months before she finally agreed. He said he thinks the long wait had something to do with her not being really broken up with her ex at the time but still, if it had been me I would have given up after a month.”

ROB: Hi Erich, good question.  The question is about pursuit.  And, looking a bit ahead (and maybe reading into your question), a pursuit ends once you’ve gotten whatever you’re going after.  In your question, it’s about getting the girl to agree to a date with you; and if she won’t initially commit, how long should you spend your time trying to get her to go out with you. 

I’ll be honest, I don’t like asking girls out.  It’s awkward.  It also puts social pressure on them.

Dude: “Would you like to have dinner with me?”

It’s like you’re saying: “Either you will date me or you will not date me.  There can be no gray area.”

It’s like you’re telling them to choose.  Choose.  CHOOSE.  It becomes forced.  I hate that.  It just gives me that ick feeling.  It’s like a guy that doesn’t know any better will spend his entire life acting like he’s trying to lock down a prom date.  Ya know, either she’ll go to prom with you or she won’t.  There is no in-between. 

I’m a huge fan of living life on the in-between.  Think of it as staying on the radar.  Attractive women are constantly dating someone or breaking up with someone.  Very, very very rarely will you meet one at the perfect moment where she is single with no other interruptions and available to date when you are. 

So instead you should constantly flirt, constantly show that you’re interested.  (Yes, that can sound scary to guys who like to play their cards close to their chest.  But we all know that doing so is a defense mechanism aimed at protecting their ego, so we get past it and do the right thing anyway). 

So instead of asking every girl you like to prom (forcing them to either date you or not date you) you should flirt with no expectations other than staying on the radar.  I highly recommend casually dating multiple people at once so you don’t get needy and start thinking that you need to date THIS ONE GIRL RIGHT NOW. 

Being on the radar means that you are not friends.  You all know that I don’t believe that guys and girls can be friends because one is just using the other for something. (Insert story about how your cousin’s friend’s brother is friends with a girl and totally happy.  Bullshit, he was trying to sleep with her, screwed up somewhere, and now he’s just a friend.)

Once again, it’s all about being on the in-between.  You should be somewhere in-between being friends and dating.  Like, you’re flirty, so you’re more than friends, but you’re not exclusively dating, so you’re not BF and GF.  It’s like the fuckbuddy zone. 

And it’s a fun place to be.  You can hang out there for a long time.  One month, 10 months, hang out as long as you’re having fun. 

So the takeaway is this: if you don’t put a girl in the position where she has to choose to either date you or not date you, then you don’t have to worry about pursuit, and then dating becomes fun again because there’s no pressure on either side.  And since you’re staying on the radar, you can jump in when the time is right.  And it will be eventually.  And when there’s a boyfriend involved, just remember that you don’t always have to be number one right now.  Stay on the radar and one day that guy will screw up and you’re next in line.

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