OK, so this isn’t strictly game-related, but every time I go to a game forum or site, this issue comes up, and frankly I’m getting bored of it. I figured that if I could just tackle it once and finally, I can just link people here in future. Yesterday, it was Tycho and Gabe wittering on at Penny Arcade, today it’s some rant about the same, and I can guarantee that even without looking there will be three active topics in Bethesda Game Studios’ Community Discussion forum on How to Get Girls.
The ludicrous thing is that it’s actually painfully simple when you think about it. You just need to do what Girls do to Get Guys and flip it – but weirdly enough you don’t get any topics in Community Discussion so I figure that most girls on the forum either have Got Guys or aren’t terribly worried about the issue.
I teased a friend of mine recently after pointing out that he naturally, unconsciously did all these things without even realising it, which gives him the net effect of coming off like Ace Rimmer. The difference being that Getting Girls (or Guys) isn’t about scoring or getting laid – it’s about managing your behaviour in order to make other people like you more.
1. Girls Are People Too
The craziest notion in any of these posts is the idea that women are somehow Other. Sure, there are differences between boys and girls, but actually they’re pretty minor. If you took my brain out and saw what I was thinking, it’s probably not a whole lot more different than what you are thinking. Women do not just think about “embroidery and kittens”. My husband was pretty shocked once when he crept downstairs when my friend was staying over to eavesdrop on our secret girly gossip … and found us despairing at the state of the economy and comparing pension plans. You can talk to women like people! Imagine that!
2. Consider whether you actually like her
Oh, this one’s a big one. Probably the biggest of all. Most of the time, people are too busy lusting after the object of their desire to actually consider whether … well, they like the person. That girl you might be freaking out over might be a terrible bore or really annoying. Don’t make the mistake of trying to go out with a girl you don’t like, either. I know someone who was desperate after a few months of singledom and called up his ex, only to realise all the reasons he broke up with her in the first place. Sure, he got a date out of it … followed by a few more months of being single. It was like being handed a cup of water in the desert – he was still single and back to square one. Only when he found a decent girl that he really liked could he actually be happy – and, of course, in a healthy relationship it’s pretty much “on tap” – so why waste your time and effort trying to “pull” a girl you don’t want to spend time with?
So how do you find out whether you like a girl?
3. Listen to her.
Oh yes, this one’s important. Most questions focus around talking to girls, and that’s missing the point: if you’re too busy talking then you won’t really have time to listen. Sure, of course, you can improve your talking skills so you don’t start saying “I like melons” or stuff like that, but then that’s exactly the problem – Adam was so desperately trying to think of something Witty and Cool to say that he lost the thread of the conversation and started talking utter crap.
Going back to my husband, my Ace Rimmer-style friend, or any of the other very confident guys I know, their Big Secret is that when they are talking to someone they give them their full attention. Yes, it’s hard work and it’s boring, and after a while you stop doing it all the time because half the stuff you say to each other is rather dull and nonsensical – but at least before you really get to know each other, and as much as you can manage to even after you’ve been together a long time – you really do need to put the effort into listening because you never know what you’ll hear. You might decide that you don’t really like this girl after hearing her views on politics or religion, for example. On the other hand, if you demonstrate that you are listening attentively, you’ll have a ton of useful tips to help you with later – when her birthday is, her dog’s name, which team she supports – and you’ll get to engage in a conversation that interests you at the time.
If you’re just bragging about yourself the whole time, this can get pretty dull for the other person to hear, and it prevents you from actually learning important stuff about her (like whether you like her or not). There’s no harm in mentioning achievements you’re proud of (or even, as my husband did, wryly alluding to your “length” before cheekily disappearing to the bar – which managed to be funny and downright intriguing); the trick is not to bore her.
More than that, though, most of the time people are so busy trying to think of something Witty and Cool to say that we don’t listen to each other at all. This makes most people feel terribly starved of attention, even in a crowd, so when someone is giving you their full and undivided attention, it just makes you feel like the most important person on the planet. When you’re listening to a girl – really listening – she’ll likely be so grateful not to be half-ignored that it’ll act like an instant 100-point disposition boost. Magic.
(Note: don’t stare at her the whole time, though, that’ll creep her out a bit.)
4. Touch her
OK, so there’s a time and a place for that type of touching – we’ll get to that later – but when it just comes to getting a girl to like you, just engage all her senses. Most people like being touched – but not everyone, so don’t force it – just a friendly pat on the forearm when you’re telling a story is enough. If she flinches, stop – some people get really freaked out by physical contact – but for the many people who are touch-starved, it can make a massive difference.
I once heard about a guy who was given a therapeutic massage, after which he burst into tears because it was the first physical contact he’d had with anyone in years. People vary, and some people have particularly acute senses that they really enjoy stimulating – such as listening to music or looking at art or eating good food. Those sorts of people react unusually favourably to touch, so that split second contact of your hand brushing against hers when you pass her a drink is enough.
Touch memory is acutely powerful, too. If she really likes you, she’ll remember your cologne for a few weeks, but the sensation of touch for months or even years – it lasts almost as long as the visual memory, and probably a lot longer than anything you actually say to her.
It’s also a handy thing to remember for friends you rarely see: not as a sexual thing, but as a way of reinforcing the bonding between you. It’s why guys hug and pat each other on the back (“I’m hugging ya but I’m hitting ya”) – a very primal and powerful connector between people.
5. If she’s losing interest, back off
I looked a lot better in my 20s than I did in my teens, and at first I thought, “Hey, I’m finally not so bad to look at, so I’m pretty sure that the cute guy I like will be attracted to me”. The thing is, even if you’ve worked on your appearance, it doesn’t automatically entitle you to the affections of the opposite gender. If you think of any conversation you’ve had with your friends about favourite movie stars or game characters, even if that person has all the right bits in all the right places, you’re not always going to agree. Even if all your friends tell you you’re smoking hot, not every girl in the world is going to fancy you and you’ll just have to deal with that. Even the thought of your fantasy girl going off with a guy you think is much uglier than you: that man might really be her type.
So, you’re talking to that girl you like, and you realise that she’s not as interested in talking to you as you are to her. That’s fine. Just back off. Politely break off the conversation and walk away.
The thing is, if she does actually like you but just thinks you were coming on a bit too strong, it gets better: she’ll start to demonstrate a bit more interest. If she’s just not interested at all, you’ll have saved yourself the embarrassment of making a fool of yourself.
This also works on friends. I had a friend break off a long planned girly outing at short notice, and she asked me to call her back to rearrange. Since she’s not the most reliable person, I didn’t want to keep catering to her whims. The balance of power in the relationship was heavily tilted in her favour, effectively leaving me at her beck and call. She wanted me to call her straight back and rearrange it for the following weekend. I waited 24 hours to call her back and told her I was busy (I wasn’t!) but that I could do two weeks after that.
The net result was that she stopped taking me so much for granted and started to make me a slightly higher priority in her life. I wanted to hang out with her, sure, but not as someone she can just fit into her life when it’s convenient to her.
It’s exhausting and humiliating to go running around after someone who just isn’t interested. The minute you get the impression that she’s Just Not That Into You, it’s time to take a step back and figure out whether she likes you at all.
6. Don’t Wallow
People who are upbeat and positive tend to be better liked than people who are moody and miserable. It doesn’t mean that naturally introverted, downbeat people can’t get dates – my husband is probably the moaniest person I’ve ever met – but there’s a difference between Blackadder-style cynicism and holding your own pity party. There was this guy once who stayed over at our house after a party and wouldn’t leave. He’d broken his leg and sat in a chair, whining endlessly about his aches and pains and saying, “Ohhh, let’s all laugh at the cripple, why don’t we?” if anyone criticised him. Eventually, he was picked up bodily and thrown out of the house. Nobody liked him. Don’t be that guy.
There’s certainly a place for mentioning your problems – if something is bothering you and you don’t talk about it, you’re excluding her and making her feel unwanted. It can be very hurtful to be pushed back and shut out by someone who just pretends everything is fine when it’s not. The difference is that it goes back to paying attention to the other person – if you’re too busy oversharing at an inappropriate time (like on your first date), then you’re not getting to know whether the girl is actually worthy of your attention – and you’re probably boring the crap out of her.
Worst of all, do not under any circumstances complain that you find it impossible to get a girlfriend. She’ll assume that if nobody else can stand you, there must be something really wrong with you.
7. Be Polite
Don’t slag offf your ex-girlfriends. I mean, OK, it’s alright to mention the really crazy one in a funny story once you know this girl a little better, but it comes across as cheap and untrustworthy to be continually putting down girls you obviously liked enough at the time to go out with in the first place.
Be polite and observe good manners – but take your cue form her. Don’t tut-tut if she puts her elbows on the table, and if you reach the door first then by all means open it – but don’t go nuts if she opens the door for you.
It’s normally expected that you should pay for the first date or two and then you can alternate after that – but that’s a guideline rather than a rule. Don’t be overly flamboyant – you don’t need to take her anywhere fancy, and don’t take her somewhere you can’t easily afford. Any woman worthy of your attention would be just as happy in Nandos as some posh restaurant – your conversation should be the focus of the date.
Good manners are based around making the other person feel comfortable. If you’re intimidated by restaurants, just go to the pub and eat there. If a formal date is making you both nervous, meet up for coffee and lunch and then go boating in the afternoon.
Wash. Really, you don’t have to be super-neat or particularly fashionable, but hygiene is kinda essential.
(Oh yes – a note on physical appearance: most people are actually a lot better looking than they think they are. Girls have it a bit easier – clever underwear, good makeup and a pretty dress can go a long way. On guys, it might just be a matter of wearing more flattering glasses and growing/cutting your hair. If your chin is weak, grow a beard. If you’re going bald, shave your head. Just don’t worry too much about it, though – looking good is not about having a six-pack or having perfect features. In fact, guys with six-packs are less fun to cuddle and most really attractive guys don’t fit conventional norms on good-lookingness. Don’t let the “Men’s Health” type magazines make you miserable because you don’t fit some impossible ideal – if you’re not morbidly obese or about to keel over, most girls probably think you’re quite attractive. If working out makes you feel better, go for it, and almost everyone wants to fit their own notions of “ideal”, but don’t go around getting all weepy because you think the “homage to beer” around your waist is putting the girls off, because what’s probably putting them off is you acting like you don’t deserve a girlfriend. Attractiveness is 99% attitude – thinking “I’m OK” when you look in the mirror.)
8. Be reliable
You know those really annoying, clingy women? A lot of that is probably your fault.
Not all women are like this, but a lot of the time – before Reason kicks in and makes the girl back off because she figures you’re just not very interested – the instinct is there to be just that little bit clingy because she doesn’t frankly know what the hell is going on and you’re confusing the crap out of her.
Newsflash: she doesn’t care about your porn collection. She doesn’t care that you fancy the waitress. She doesn’t care that you still have letters from your ex, or that your friend at work is a woman that can reasonably be described as “hot”.
What she wants to know is that you’ll call when you say you will and be there when you say you will.
So, you make her a priority in your life. You call her by Tuesday for a Saturday night date – not giving her a half-assed call on Thursday afternoon to see if she’s free later that day. She’s not a pizza takeway! You wouldn’t like it if she just snapped her fingers and expected you to come running, so don’t do it to her. She knows that she’s meeting you at 7.30 on Saturday, so she doesn’t have to worry about whether her other plans are going to clash with yours. She’s not half-glancing at the phone, wondering if you’re going to bother to call. She’s not waiting around at the venue, feeling exposed and underdressed and wondering if you’ll be late. If she’s not worrying about whether she can trust you with something as simple as being on time, then she can actually concentrate on having fun and conversing with you like a polite, attentive, fellow human being who actually likes her.
Besides, messing someone around like that is just effing rude.
9. Be Discreet and Don’t Cheat
Telling all your friends about your sexual exploits – or, worse, lying and exaggerating about them – is incredibly rude and a breach of trust. It shows a fundamental lack of respect. The thing is, if you do this, she’ll tell all her friends about what a jerk you are, and they’ll tell their friends, and you’ll never get another girlfriend.
Don’t be that jerk.
This isn’t the same as a private conversation between you and your best guy-friend, in which you respectfully discuss your intimate lives. Girls do this, and this is fine. I’m just talking about the lazy, crude bragging that often unfairly labels girls as “easy” when a lot of it is bull in the first place. I lost count of the number of guys I apparently “slept” with – men I never even kissed – because they thought it would make them look cooler if they pretended that they were more sexually successful than they were. This is how men get labeled as bastards – because it’s a really mean, nasty thing to do. Imagine how you’d like it if those girls retaliated by telling everyone how “small” you are.
As for cheating, just don’t even go there. I cannot think of anyone whose lives have been improved by cheating. One man I know successfully talked a male friend out of cheating by saying, “Your marriage, your house, your kids, and the respect of your friends – is it really worth losing all that for one hour of fun?”
Even if you’re not married and it’s just a girl you’re dating casually, it’s not worth the grief of trying to juggle multiple flings at once. If you like more than one woman, that’s fine and that’s normal – but you only get to actually date one at a time. Otherwise, there’ll be tears and recriminations, and people will think ill of you and you’ll feel like a jerk. That’s because you’re acting like one. Don’t do that.
10. Take the Hint
By this point, you should probably have got the impression that Girls Are Just Regular People, and you’ll be focussing on her rather than yourself in the conversation and it should all be flowing naturally and easily. Since you’ve stopped focussing on yourself so much, you won’t be shuffling in, stooped and petrified of what she thinks of you, but wandering confidently into the room, wondering what new and interesting things she’ll tell you. If you’ve never really talked to each other before, your conversation might go something like this:
- Hey, we’re going bowling (*or insert any other social activity here*) next Saturday – me, Kenny, Jane, Tom and Alice. I’d love it if you could come too.
- Uhh … sure. I’m free that day. What time?
- Well, we’re meeting at eight, but we could get some pizza before then if you like.
- Ah, I can’t make it before eight.
- That’s fine. I can pick you up, or meet you there.
- I’d … rather make my own way down, thanks – I’ll be coming from work.
- No problem. We can go for a drink afterwards, if you’re up for that.
- It’s been a hard week, so I might be too tired, but I’ll definitely bowl.
- Great, OK. I’ll meet you in the bar downstairs at eight.
See there that although you’re being quite forward, you’re not backing her into a corner. You’re keeping the stakes low – an outing with friends, in case you don’t get on so well – but also with some alone-time in there in which to have some one-to-one conversation. She’s giving herself an excuse to get out if she decides that she plain doesn’t like you – but unless you’re Being Impolite or Wallowing when you’re out with your friends, she’ll almost certainly come along for a drink afterwards, having already got to know you a little bit by now. If she genuinely is too tired, she’ll probably drop hints that she’s happy to see you another time. The Big Clue will probably be the words “… another time”. If she says, “I’m too tired, I’m going home now,” without giving any indication of another time, she’s probably not interested. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to say, “Oh, OK. Would you like to meet for a drink next Saturday?”, but she’s more likely to accept if she said “another time”. Again, if she’s genuinely too busy next Saturday, she’ll say something like, “Oh, sorry, I’m busy then, but I can do Friday” – whereas if she just says she’s busy, she’s just not into you.
If you already know her a little bit, then just invite her down the pub or to a gig or … ya know, something fun. Just pay attention to her and take the hint. If she’s opening doors (“I can’t do x but I can do y”) she’s interested; if she’s closing them (“I’m busy”), she’s not.
Another thing that you have to be careful about is how far to go on your date. This doesn’t just vary from girl to girl, it varies from date to date. Some girls are happy to sleep with you on the first date; others want to wait a while. Some girls don’t mind sleeping with a guy on the first date – but just not you. She just might not be very sure about you, so if you push the issue, you’ll put her off. On the other hand, nothing is unsexier than an apparent lack of interest. Ideally, she should think that you’re crazy with desire for her, but just waiting for the go ahead. It’s pretty likely that she’ll at least want a kiss from you at the end of the date, but after each stage – a kiss, a caress – pause a little and see if she still seems to be comfortable, and if she’s appearing hesitant, even if she’s not actually saying so, back off a little. If she wants to continue, she’ll let you know. It’s better to leave early, or to wake up fully-clothed from cuddling all night, than to have you both embarrassed and regretful the next day.
Oh yeah, and if you’ve spent the night with a girl – even if nothing’s really happened – you should at least offer to spend some time with her in the morning. It doesn’t mean you have to date her forever and ever (and she might not even want to), but booting a girl out the door at breakfast, even if you just kissed, is acting like a jerk.
It all goes back to being polite and paying attention, ultimately.
Now, good luck with your dating lives! Wash, don’t be a jerk, and treat her like a person. That’s really all there is to it.