Saturday, February 5, 2011

Body Language

Their education over, most young men set forth to conquer the world. Among the males in today’s cohort of emerging adults, another likely scenario has them setting forth to pick up girls in bars.

Some young men are hard at work honing their skills as market participants. Others are attending seminars on how to become pick up artists.

For those who care about such things, I will tell you the deep, dark truth about pickups. If she doesn’t want you to pick her up, you won’t. And if she does, she will not only allow you to sweep her off her feet and out of her clothes, but she will let you feel like you are the ultimate dude.

Think about all of those Duke athletes who picked up the famous Hookup Queen, Karen Owen. When they read her thesis, extensively analyzed here and elsewhere, they will come away with the sense that they were not doing the choosing; they were chosen. They might have felt that they were in charge, but, when push came to shove, she was in control of the situation.

This does not mean that publishing it all, or even doing it all, was a good thing for her, but it would be a mistake to think that she was not running the show.

Men make a mistake then they base their manly pride on their ability to pick up girls.

Because if they think that they are the ultimate dudes, then one day some girl is going to let them know that they are really not as cool or as manly as they think.

The ego boost that a man gets from thinking of himself as a great seducer or pickup artist is a mirage.

Over the years I have known men who are masters at the art of picking up girls in bars. Some of them do not even need a bar to ply their talents.

Not a one of them learned how to do it by attending a seminar. In all cases they learned it from women because they have been willing to allow women to teach them.

Also, true masters of the game can walk into a party and know within minutes which woman is available for a hookup and which one is not. No seminar is going to teach you that.

A true pickup artist is an instinctive economist. He will calculate how much time and effort it will take to seduce her, and he will avoid women who require too much time, effort, or money.

One more thing to keep in mind: the great pickup artists are never world beaters. If a man's mind is pondering his last or next female conquest, he is going to be less focused on his work.

The more time he spends working on his pickup technique the less he is spending on his business project. This may be one reason why married men are generally more successful than single men.

When I read that women are complaining about not being approached in bars, as they do in a column by Meghan Casserly, I want to know whether they are there to be picked up or to meet a man and develop a relationship. Link here.

I applaud the effort to teach young women how certain kinds of body language make them appear to be unapproachable, but without further information we cannot really judge whether they are self-sabotaging or are simply looking for the right thing in the wrong place.

A woman who crosses her arms and leans against a bar is going to appear standoffish, but it might well be that she understands instinctively what the young man wants from her and she does not want to play his game.

I recall one young woman who explained what happened when a young man tried to pick her up at a bar. She answered him: “If you want a pickup, buy a truck!”

Not very approachable, you will say, but not inappropriate under the circumstances either.

In my opinion Casserly and her experts place too much of the onus on young women. That can only make them more self-conscious and less self-confident.

For my part, I suspect that most women, left to their own devices, know how to get picked up in bars.

I am sure I am going to be corrected, but there are no seminars and workshops that teach women these skills. Call me old fashioned, but it does not feel like a very great challenge. Witness Karen Owen.

We need also to take account of the fact that in a hookup culture, in a culture where dating has gone out of fashion, the signals are going to get mixed, especially when young women are confused about what they should even expect a relationship.

The real question for young women today is how to find a durable relationship when the cultural climate, to say nothing of the economic climate, is militating against it.

While I agree that people should learn the kind of body language that makes them more approachable and less standoffish, I do not think that the best use of such skills is in teaching girls how to get picked up in bars.

But what if the issue is more about making friends and less about getting laid? What if the lessons are more about how to connect with people and less about how to have more cheap sex?

If you want to make friends and influence people, it is useful to understand some elementary body language.

Casserly’s article defines the two wrong ways to make friends and influence people.

First, if you cross your arms and evince disinterest and boredom your posture will denote defensiveness. You will be saying that you feel threatened.

Most of us will not approach someone who is withdrawn and scared. It would simply be impolite.

And if you are scared of me without knowing whether I am a threat, then you are likely taking me for someone I am not. In itself, this is rude and offputting.

The opposite is not an improvement. Some people are so anxious to make a connection, not just a casual encounter, but a deep and meaningful connection that they share too much information too soon.

They pour out their heart and soul to strangers. They treat them as intimates even before they exchange names.

When confronted with such a person you are going to turn away, because the person is not relating to you. He or she is relating to an image, a phantasmatic being that seems to fulfill a wish that does not concern you.

Whatever you believe about love at first sight, making a meaningful connection with another human being takes time. Rush it, and it will disappear.

You are not going to connect with people who do not know who you are and do not care to find out.

The wrong body language can involve the closed fist of defiance, the closed off posture of fear, or the excessively intimate hug.

What is the right body language? The open hand that offers friendship. In Zen it's the sound of one hand clapping


Cappy said...

Finally, a practical, every day use for analysis. Thanks, doc! A few points, tho:

I am the ultimate dude.

If you're going to write a book about this, the title "The Chosen" is already taken.

Robert Mitchell Jr. said...

I'm having a hard time buying that. I have heard too many men despair of being "just friends", and certainly the men who are very successful with women do not act like you describe. Do you imagine that Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy put any time or effort into being "friends"? I watched a man who was cheating on his wife with eight other women. There are not enough hours in the day for the courtship of eight women. Certainly, at the end of the night, the women choose who they are "going home" with. But given how often obvious dirtbags "go home", it would seem to be something women desire.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I agree with you that great womanizers like Bill Clinton and Teddy Kennedy did not put in much time trying to be friends with women. In some sense they did not have to.

But when I was talking about making friends I was trying to distinguish between friendship, even love, and picking up girls in bars.

Just because women go home with men who are not exactly the best, doesn't mean that they are not making a choice. Women who allow themselves to be picked up in bars might be looking for the kind of man who is good at that and not at too much else.

To be fair, some of them might also imagine that they can catch a man by hooking up with him.

David Foster said...'s an analogy. In electronics, if you want to transmit a signal over a noisy communications channel, you need either a very high power transmitter, a low information rate, or both. Systems developed during the Cold War for communication with deeply-submerged submarines featured bandwidths of bits per minute, not megabits per second.

In relationships, a pickup scene--especially in a bar/club--is a noisy environment, and not only in the auditory sense. Hence, it is difficult to transmit subtle messages about one's personality; only the most basic sorts of signals about masculinity or femininity are likely to get through.

Robert Mitchell Jr. said...

"Just because women go home with men who are not exactly the best, doesn't mean that they are not making a choice."

Just so. They made a choice to "go home" with the dirtbag. Most of them with the expectation that they will choose a guy, a friend, to settle down with, later. But the fire that is not fed goes out. Most thirty five year old+ virgin men have given up on the game. And one night stands with dirtbags still leave scars on the soul. How much of a shared frame of reference do the virgin man and the woman with 30+ partners have? It just seems to me that your post is just saying that women will want you as a friend, later. Haven't seen that as something men are looking for. They're looking for physical contact. The friendship is a happy byproduct, or was, before the Feminists poisoned the well. But if the choice is between "friendship" and "going home", most men are going with option two. Thus the silliness of "game".

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks, David, for a great insight here. The fact that bars and clubs are fundamentally noisy environments must have a crucial influence on the way communication takes place and on what messages get through.

Subtlety will never make it; friendly connection will not either. Only the most flagrant expressions of gender identity and sexual interest seem to qualify.

As we know, some people are good at it while some are not.

The Ghost said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Ghost said...

when I was living in NYC as a newly single guy (seperated not yet divorced) I spent alot of time at one of my local (200 feet away from my apartment) bars I would often sit at the end of the bar with one of the owners and watch the pickup scene unfold.
I think you are spot on with some of your evaluations. All too often you could watch a group of young ladies be approached by guy after guy only to watch the young men go down in flames. But then one guy would manage to strike up a conversation and on the surface there would be no difference between him and those that had crashed and burned before him.
Obviously there was a difference that the ladies had picked up on and he had caught their signals.
In the end measuring your manhood by the number of women you bed is a painful and pointless exercise in futility that diminishes the men who play the game.