External Link: “Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think”

For dating, confidence is key and one of the best ways to get that confidence is to live an authentic life. This means ditching the obsession of worrying about what others think, and getting comfortable with being who you want to be. This ultimately attracts people who like you for being you.

“Wait But Why” has an excellent post dealing with exactly this. It calls that obsession a “Social Survival Mammoth” and introduces the notion of a “Puppet Master”:

a person or group of people whose opinion matters so much to you that they’re essentially running your life. A Puppet Master is often a parent, or maybe your significant other, or sometimes an alpha member of your group of friends.
[…]
We crave the Puppet Master’s approval more than anyone’s, and we’re so horrified at the thought of upsetting the Puppet Master or feeling their nonacceptance or ridicule that we’ll do anything to avoid it.

It contrasts this with your “Authentic Voice” that:

knows how you feel deep down about things like money and family and marriage, and it knows which kinds of people, topics of interest, and types of activities you truly enjoy, and which you don’t.

The post explains why listening to the Mammoth and Puppet Masters – instead of your Authentic Voice (AV) – is so dangerous:

When you don’t know who you are, … instead of digging deep into the foggy center of what you really believe in to find clarity, you’ll look to others for the answers. Who you are becomes some blend of the strongest opinions around you.

Losing touch with your AV also makes you fragile, because when your identity is built on the approval of others, being criticized or rejected by others really hurts.

It describes ways to identify the obsessive thoughts that are running your life, by looking for these clues:

1. where your fear is — where are you most susceptible to shame or embarrassment? What parts of your life do you think about and a dreadful, sinking feeling washes over you? Where does the prospect of failure seem like a nightmare? … If you were giving advice to yourself, which parts of your life would clearly need a change that you’re avoiding acting on right now?

2. the way-too-good feelings you get from feeling accepted … Are you a serious pleaser at work or in your relationship? Are you terrified of disappointing your parents and do you choose making them proud over aiming to gratify yourself?

3. anywhere you don’t feel comfortable making a decision without “permission” or approval from others.

The post concludes with why it’s important to listen to your authentic voice, and be who you want to be, rather than being a people-pleaser:

Being approved of by one type of person means turning another off. So obsessing over fitting in with any one group is illogical, especially if that group isn’t really who you are. You’ll do all that work, and meanwhile, your actual favorite people are off being friends with each other somewhere else.
[…]
You can start to relish the feeling of being viewed as weird or inappropriate or confusing to people, and society becomes your playground and blank canvas, not something to grovel before and hope for acceptance from.

Ultimately, the “Wait But Why” post talks about being more secure in who you are and reducing your anxiety levels. This lets you live a more fulfilling life and also makes dating much easier.

Until next time my friends, keep dating!

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Entitlement

My friend Sam recently met Simone, Gabby, and Madison at a freshmen “Welcome to College” party at their dorm. Sam felt that they really hit it off and looked forward to hanging out with them again.

A week later, Sam was walking through the cafeteria with a meal tray, looking for a place to sit. Sam was excited to see the three women and a number of potential new friends sitting at a table in the center, and said “hi!”. Gabby turned to Sam, responded with a bored “hi”, and then immediately turned back to the group conversation. No one made room around the table so Sam stood there awkwardly for about 10 seconds, before leaving due to the lack of a welcome.

Upset at this apparent rejection, Sam asked me why it was so hard to make friends and why women were being so cold. As a good friend, I realized that I had to tell Sam “The Truth”: People like Sam are entitled assholes who expect they should be able to walk up to women, rattle off a few clever lines, and demand that those same women entertain them in the future. These people see women as objects to be “picked up” or trophies to be won. And worst of all, they get angry when women see through their put-on “Nice” persona and rightfully reject them for the scumbags they are. Maybe if they stopped being such misogynists, women would actually like them.

There is only one problem with this story: Sam is not a heterosexual man looking for a date. My friend Samantha (Sam) is a feminist heterosexual woman looking for platonic friends. And of course I didn’t say all those mean things to her!

The point I’m making is that too often people who say these kinds of mean things are jumping to conclusions about the motives of others they don’t like (and/or don’t find attractive). These mean people engage in intellectual gymnastics by inventing a narrative that those others are despicable, without necessarily knowing much about them – all while they are cheered on by armchair Social Justice Warriors on Tumblr.

Now, make no mistake. There are entitled misogynistic men. Sometimes, we encounter men who who have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. But some, I assume, are just good people — people who might just not be particularly popular or attractive. And while no one is entitled to be anyone’s friend or lover, do we need to impugn their reputation just because they dared to ask?

The flip side is that sometimes people who bring forward the asshole and “fake nice” accusations are simply projecting the fact that they themselves are assholes. And they get away with it because they are attractive and/or popular assholes. Let me give you an example. Madison posted this on the freshman Facebook page for her degree:

Madison: SUPER IMPORTANT.

I have a friend who needs a ride up from New Jersey to New York City on the 17th at lunchtime. Would anyone be willing to do that?

Person: That’s pretty far. I think it’s going to be hard to find someone 😦 Good luck my friend!

Madison: I don’t need luck or unhelpful commentary. I need someone who will drive him.

And the crazy thing is that many people actually jump through hoops to appease people like Madison no matter how obnoxious she is. People might bend over backwards, doing favor after favor that Madison twists their arm for but at any point in the future, Madison could flip around and accuse them of having ulterior motives.

So my advice is that there is no point trying to befriend or date people who don’t respect you. Instead, associate yourself with kind people, try not to take rejections so deeply, and ignore the background noise of any mean things that are said.

Until next time my friends, keep dating!

External Link: “Why Lonely People Stay Lonely”

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/07/why-lonely-people-stay-lonely.html?mid=wired

This article is a fascinating overview of Prof. Megan Knowles‘ paper, “Choking under social pressure: social monitoring among the lonely” (emphasis added):

One long-held theory has been that people become socially isolated because of their poor social skills … this is a fundamental misunderstanding … Lonely people do understand social skills, and often outperform the non-lonely when asked to demonstrate that understanding. It’s just that when they’re in situations when they need those skills the most, they choke.

I’ll be writing a future blog post on how to overcome this social anxiety.