Most dating advice focuses on practicing specific words and actions to get a desired result. But in dating, words and actions are only as useful as the emotions they elicit out of a woman (and yourself). They don’t have any intrinsic value by themselves.
Chances are you’ve heard me say this before. It seems to be all I say sometimes.
The reason I’m always beating this into everyone’s head is that men have a tendency to become overly concerned with the exact words and actions they’re performing without being aware of the emotional implications. They may say some cool jokes or funny lines and get a woman to laugh, but they’ll be unaware of the emotional reality that his working for her approval is only making her feel more in control and more indifferent to him sexually.
Or a less common but more egregious example is a man who pushes the interaction physically in an aggressive manner. On the surface, he’s aware that he’s going from touching to kissing to getting her back to his apartment. But he’s unaware of her emotional reality, which is that of feeling pressured, unsure and untrusting. In this case, even if he does get her home with him, chances are she will resist his desire to have sex with her and he’ll feel cheated out of all of the “work” he put in with her.
It’s important to view sex and dating in terms of emotional needs rather than actions because emotional needs are the most fundamental factors which determine what actually happens in each interaction. The words, actions and behaviors can shift and change and collide, but like tectonics floating on a hot surface underneath, it’s the emotional needs that create the results. If you feel unsure or unsafe, it will bleed through your words and actions and inhibit you from proceeding any further with her. If she feels lame and used, then she’ll find a way to flake, no matter what you say or do.
Learn to read the emotional realities underlying each interaction and you’ll truly understand where you’re at with a woman at any given moment.
But despite me repeating this incessantly for the past year or so, it seems for most men it goes in one ear and comes out the other. The problem is that emotional processes are quite enigmatic. It’s easy to read some cool lines and go out and say them. It’s easy to learn about how to move a woman around and touch her well. But you can’t see or touch an emotion. It’s a subjective interpretation of a situation, and so pointing out specific examples can be difficult. And the fact of the matter is, men who suck with women and who read articles like this one, are in the position they’re in because they’re painfully unaware of many emotional processes (both their own and women’s). So telling them to look for something that they don’t even know is there can be difficult. It’s like asking Stevie Wonder to read you a lunch menu.
The idea that humans are motivated primarily by emotion and then use conscious decisions to justify their unconscious decisions goes all the way back to Freud and is a cornerstone of psychological thought. It’s the basis for the entire profession of marketing, salesmanship and public relations. Indeed, neuroscience has found that actions and impulses originate in the amydgala (where emotional impulses reside) and are then processed and altered by the frontal cortex (rational thought), not the other way around.
So when you approach a woman who rejects you, it’s not that she does a quick mental tally in her head of what shoes you’re wearing, the angle of your posture, your facial features, how funny your line was, and what your friends look like, adding them all together and then taking a mental note of how her friends will think of her if she responds well to you. She just gets an instant gut reaction of yes or no. And will then base her behavior on that. If she does bother to come up with a reason why she’s rejecting you, her mind will then search for a benign (and maybe irrelevant) excuse such as your nasty shoes. Does this mean she’s shallow? Does it mean your shoes are ruining your game? Does this mean that it’s even true?
Not necessarily. When women meet a guy (or when we meet a woman), we’re looking for “that feeling,” and if you don’t give her “that feeling,” then the exact reason is often impossible to know, and any exact reason given is probably only part of the story. Our sexual reactions to each other are a combination of so many factors both conscious and unconscious, that we’ll never be able to pinpoint them all with any certainty. And not only that, but what may cause one woman to feel positively (let’s say, having tattoos on your arms), may make another woman feel a completely different way.
So instead of looking at what words work the best in dating scenarios, or even what actions work the best in dating scenarios, we should pay attention to what emotions we should elicit for the best results. Again, being physically aggressive may turn one woman on but intimidate another. Self-deprecating wise-cracks may make you look like a loser to one woman but humble and charming to another. What’s important is zeroing in on the emotional motivation behind her judgments and perceptions, not the actual judgments or perceptions themselves.
This may sound difficult or complicated, but it’s actually quite the opposite. There’s little logical to learn. It’s merely an exercise of practicing empathy and intuiting what others are feeling rather than thinking and analyzing their surface reactions. It’s removing your mental blocks, rather than erecting new models of information.
I’ve zeroed in on what I consider to be the three primary emotional motivators when it comes to sex, dating and relationships. These three motivators exist for everyone, both men and women, straight and homosexual, old and young. And how we meet them or don’t meet them determines the quality and duration of our interactions and relationships.
Fundamental Emotional Needs in Dating:
1. Status (Feeling important or superior, feeling challenged)
2. Connection (Feeling understood and appreciated, shared values and experiences)
3. Security (Feeling safe and reliable, trust)
These three emotional triggers are universal. We all have them and our willingness to become sexual or intimate with someone is based on these three triggers and how we prioritize them. Some of us prioritize the search for status and challenge far more than security and trust. Others seek out connection and appreciation and aren’t as interested in status.
It’s common in relationships or interactions to feel ambivalent or slightly torn with the woman you’re with. You kind of like her, but you wonder if there’s someone else you’ll like more that you haven’t met yet. You really like her when she’s alone with you, but when she’s with her friends, she can be a cold bitch. In fact, this sort of ambivalence is often the rule with people we date, not the exception.
For instance, let’s say you’re seeing an extremely hot girl (triggers your motivation for status) who is also quite immature and self-centered (negatively triggers your need for connection) and who is flakey and flirting with other guys (negatively triggers your need for security). You’re going to feel ambivalent. Should you tolerate her behavior? Should you talk to her about it and try to get her to change? Your friends say you should break things off with her, but you keep giving her more chances. After all, you’ve never dated a girl as hot and sexy as her before.
Or perhaps you meet a woman who is a bit unstable and erratic, but when you two are alone together, you have the most amazing chemistry and connection. It’s just that those moments are few and far between. The lack of security she makes you feel will be in constant tension with the feeling of connection and appreciation you feel for one another and you’ll struggle to figure out what to do with her, often moving back and forth between cutting her off and moving on, or going back and trying things again.
But these play out for women as well, and in the situations of pick up. The dreaded “friend zone” can easily be described in terms of making a woman feel appreciated but not meeting her emotional motivation for status (by being needy and supplicating to her). She likes you so much as a friend, but you’re not meeting her needs for status or challenge, and she doesn’t want to compromise that connection you’ve built to try and do that. Or perhaps you approach a girl in a bar, play with her, dazzle her, charm her, but come across as TOO smooth and TOO confident. You turn her on and make her want more (status) but she has a nagging feeling that you’re like this with other women and are probably seeing other girls at the same time (lack of security). Hence, she’ll feel ambivalent towards you, giving you positive signals in some situations but “testing” you in others, trying to see if you’re genuine and reliable.
Like us, all women are different. Some women have a large need for security. Others are more interested in meeting a cool and challenging guy who can keep their attention. In fact, maybe the lack of security you provide CREATES a greater sense of status and challenge.
Emotional motivators can also manifest themselves in healthy and unhealthy forms. The normal and healthy emotional need for status and importance can become an unhealthy vanity and superficiality. Trophy wives, harems, dating drug-addicted strippers, obsessive lay counts — when too much emphasis and importance is placed on these things, the need for status begins to crowd out and suppress the other emotional needs of connection and security. So a man with an unhealthy need for status will seek out the highest number of sexual partners with superficial traits at the expense of his other emotional needs, often causing him to feel more depressed and alone than ever before, despite having so many sexual experiences.
The normal and healthy need for connection and appreciation can become an unhealthy dependency and neediness. The clingy boyfriend/girlfriend, the guy who calls the same girl four times in one day desperately asking for a date. This overwhelming need for acceptance and affection can crowd out the normal and healthy needs for security and status. A desperate man or clingy woman will overlook their partner’s flaws or infidelities, settling on anyone who will accept them and show them just a little attention.
The normal and healthy need for security and commitment can become an unhealthy form of possessiveness, obsession and jealousy. This unhealthy drive can crowd out normal and healthy forms of connection and importance. It’s the demanding husband who won’t let his wife out of the house, despite the fact it drives her to resent him and undermines the trust of the relationship. It’s the woman who marries the rich man she doesn’t love in order to take comfort in his wealth and security.
Everyone exhibits different levels of these emotional needs, and one’s emotional needs can change over time. A 20-year-old party girl may prioritize status and fun at the expense of security. But by the time she’s 30 she may openly desire a strong connection and appreciation for her as a person, and by the time she’s 40, she may seriously value a man who can commit and make her feel comfortable and secure in her life. She may even be willing to compromise her need for status at that point to satisfy that need, just as she was willing to sacrifice security to satisfy her desire for status when she was 20.
It’s important to understand our own needs as well. Many men are drawn to pick up as a means to seek status and sexual conquests, but as soon as they experience a little bit of success and meet a woman they connect with very strongly, they find themselves not wanting to leave that one relationship. They become torn: date the amazing woman they’ve already met, or go out and meet a dozen more like they originally planned?
What they planned consciously doesn’t really matter if their biggest emotional motivator is for connection and appreciation. They just didn’t know it. Lennon had the famous quip about life happening while you’re making other plans. You could easily amend that to say that “Emotions are what happen while you’re making other plans.”
But understanding emotional needs is also important on an interaction-by-interaction basis. It’s a good way to understand that not every rejection is the same. A woman making a disgusted face and telling you to buzz off is a rejection based on you not meeting her need for status (you’re dressed poorly, carry yourself poorly, are too nervous around her, etc.). A woman who seems to like you but is hesitant to get too close to you and finds excuses to flake out on you could be seen as not getting her need for connection and appreciation met by you. She’s attracted to you but she doesn’t feel like you actually value her for being her. A woman who gets nervous around you and makes up an excuse to leave is not getting her need for security met.
Next week, in part two we’ll get into HOW to trigger these emotional needs in women and in yourself. How do you make someone feel appreciated? How do you generate trust? How do you convey status and importance?
The short answer is, it depends. Every person is different. But there are some clear patterns in which we can formulate our behavior around. From there we can pursue women with a conscious understanding of their emotional realities and how to meet (or not meet) her emotional desires with ours. Far more satisfying and far more efficient than blindly re-enacting the same behaviors over and over, hoping they’ll eventually “work.”
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