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Why Can’t You Be Nicer?
It’s time for … Ask the Coach.
Oh, thank you – you’re too kind – please, no applause, just throw money.
I received an email the other day that essentially asked: “Why can’t women be more approachable? And can you create programs that teach them how to be?” I then (coincidentally) had a conversation with a woman who was stalked by a man she had gone out with a few times – and then shortly after that, randomly stumbled upon a humorous clip from Louis CK on dating that I thought was rather significant.
“How do women still go out with guys when you consider there is no greater threat to women then men?” – Louis CK
There is never a straightforward question for me – everything is multi-layered – so I’d like to address several things in response to this topic.
But before I do, I should remind you all that as a coach my mission is to help you unlock your own inner resources and wisdom; I’m really not here to solve the riddle for you or to give advice. Hence I don’t want to fall into the “dating advice column” trap. However, I know part of this terrain very well, from a personal perspective, so I’ll give myself permission to editorialize and give some recommendations.
I have always been very hard to approach – if you look up the word “stonewall” in the dictionary, you’d see my head shot. In fact, not only was I a stonewall, but I was also wrapped around a fire-breathing dragon. Only a few years ago, when a man would hit on me, or chat me up, I would fight impulses to give them the “malocchio” – or evil eye with laser beams. Now what could drive such behavior? In my case, the only way men would hit on me was by referencing my looks. Every time I heard “Hey you’re so hot – what’s your name?”, my blood would absolutely boil. I never want to be regarded as a piece of ass – by having men repeatedly and collectively and solely focusing on my physical attributes, I felt objectified and disrespected. If a man persisted (beyond the stonewall), out came the dragon. Now try attracting love into your life from this energetic point on view. Fortunately for me, I have done a lot of my own inner work and gone through a lot of training for me to understand what was driving my reactions and to move into a more relaxed mindset, to not take these weak introductions so personally.
Also, fortunately for me, men never tried any silly, cliche pick-up lines, but I know women who have experienced them. In fact, one of the funniest lines (delivered seriously, I should note) a friend heard was “Baby, you must be a broom, ‘cause you swept me off my feet!” That was an eye-roll moment. I’ve found that most of the time, women do want to react nicely – but it’s very hard to politely respond to a man who is chock full of dumb expressions, such as “Hey baby, you must be a light switch, cuz every time I see you, you turn me on!” Or even worse, men who try to employ a pick up artist technique called “negging” – subtly insulting a woman as a way to undermine a woman’s self-esteem and get her to engage with him by defending herself.
A woman who is not interested (or who is smart enough to recognize “negging”) will react to these come ons with a horrified face (you’re spot on, Louis CK) or use some choice words telling you where you can go. Maybe it’s an overreaction, but, in the words of my friend Sarah, most women are outfitted with a “creep meter” which imm- ediately goes up when we hear such terrible lines and all we want to do is create as much distance between ourselves and you.
In the case where a woman whose looks are the constant focus of attention, the reason why she puts up this “wall” becomes clear, if you consider things from her perspective. More than likely, she has 25 men approaching her all in the same lame way. After a while, she grows tired of it and she figures out that the easiest way to get all these guys to simply leave her alone is to put up a “mask,” or persona, that is rude or downright mean.
In a way only focusing on a woman’s looks is rude, because it seems like you don’t care if she’s Mother Teresa or a serial killer, as long as she’s hot. Which explains my dragon-like reactions.
(Conversely, some women may not appreciate physical compliments because they might be forced to face a secret, buried belief they hold: they don’t love themselves and maybe even believe that they’re unattractive. When a man tells them they’re pretty, they become acutely aware of how much they despise themselves and their looks.)
So what’s a poor man to do?
Again, I don’t want to focus on dating advice but I can tell you from my experience that it helps if a man understands what women in general deem important and flattering. The real key to complementing a woman is to appreciate her. Pay attention. Take the time to notice the details. Considering this, I would recommend finding a feature that you find interesting or striking and talk to her about it. Ask her questions about it. I’ve had many, many men ask me questions about my experiences with letting my hair go grey — it’s a great way to create an opening.
It also helps if a man honors what women value — any man who has ever had even the slightest contact with the fairer sex knows that women place a high value on communication. So guess what – try an actual conversation (or several) with her first.
And above all, I’d recommend that you give up any notions of “entitlement” or “expectation” – I’ve been in situations where a man complimented me on my looks and when I didn’t respond in the way he wanted, he proceeded to get angry and vicious. A woman owes you nothing, even if you tell her she is the most gorgeous woman you’ve ever seen. (And when a man feels entitled to sexual desire being reciprocated, or has other motives, it infringes on the woman’s boundaries and turns creepy.)
Which brings me to the safety issue.
Stay tuned for the next post on this very important topic.