How to Attract the Man of Your Dreams/Playing games vs normal behavior & anxiety
QUESTION: Firstly, I've read a few of your other answers and thought the whole game thing was interesting. I have met two guys who play games (i.e., reciprocating for a little while, then withdrawing, wanting to be the pursued party). So I was wondering what a girl is supposed to do about that. I gather that the idea to only be involved with people who reciprocate. But what do you do if they hold off on this sort of behavior until the point you've started to get emotionally invested in them? And what is a more healthy guy likely to do by comparison?
My second problem is with anxiety in social situations. I am okay with established friendships and family, but in the beginnings of relationships, I always feel like I say the awkward thing. And it doesn't exactly give a good impression if your hands are shaking or there's a tremor in your voice (something which I deal with by just carrying on until it goes away, since there's nothing else I can do about it).
Worse, I am used to being around people I can discuss intimate things with, and not so good at carrying on a casual conversation. And most embarrassing of all, though, is a tendency to rush. I might blurt out a question about say, thoughts on marriage, on a first date. Even though I know better--that I should be keeping things fun and casual. I am not sure how to overcome this and any advice would be appreciated...
ANSWER: Hello Sarah Jane!
Let's start by clearing up a misconception. In fact, it's extremely unlikely that these guys you mentioned are "playing games" in the same way that women "play games". It's amazingly rare that this happens and is usually due to some deep-seated insecurities when men do this. It's not that men won't play games WITH you. It is however highly unusual that women will start games like this with particular outcomes in mind.
There's a ton of science behind this I won't bore you with, but consider that women know they aren't going to get men to do what they want through brute force. Over the millennia women have evolved a large number of tools and techniques ("games") in order to make things happen. Men have no such internal programming. The "games" men use are learned tools far more than natural responses. That's one reason why women's games tend to be so ineffective. You simply can't predict what any particular guy is going to do or think or how he'll react to these games.
So, to get to your question, the first issue is to be extremely careful about what games you play and with whom you play them.
Consider this: because of what I do, I'm particularly aware of (and weary of) these games with the women I date. I see them coming from a mile away. Surely at least SOME women must know that I'm aware of them and that I fully understand where they come from. However, women try to play me far more often - and with far greater effort - than they will other guys!
Many of these games center around trying to get me (or any guy) to show his hand early - without her having to do the same thing. That's a way of giving herself some chance to not fall too quickly in a case where the guy isn't interested. However, when someone like me or my students understand this, what do you think we do? Answer: we either tell you what you want to hear or we simply start getting scarce.
How is that of benefit to you? Answer: it's not. In fact, it's very counter-productive to your own personal goals.
Sarah Jane, keep in mind that this isn't "manipulation" at all. It's simply a response to your ineffective and unhealthy manipulation. You and I and everyone else in the world has our own interests and benefits at heart. That's the way the world works - and the only way it can. Thus, when you (or anyone) focuses solely on their own personal benefit and ignores that of the other person, you have this "battle of the games" at play.
By the way, this is something I try to tell guys all the time: to you girls, male attention is like sex is to us guys. Women believe that by withholding sex (or trying to hold it off as long as possible) that they are creating "value" via the "scarcity principle". (Frankly, that doesn't work today either for reasons outside the scope of this question.) Unfortunately, men don't understand this however and tend to lavish attention on women as an attempt to exchange it for sex. You girls understand this however and instantly put those guys into the friend-zone.
Ok, I'm a little off topic here, but all of this background is important to understanding what you need to do to handle this.
Here's what you need to do with this: be more open and honest about your feelings and interests! Yes, I know that terrifying. I know that gives you huge anxiety, but consider this: by becoming more comfortable with your own self interests and getting that out on the table early, you avoid most of these games you're trying to prevent. You actually gain self-confidence and lose insecurity because you are taking control of your own destiny.
Further, you'll start focusing on what's most important: mutual benefit. You'll start seeing things in terms of getting what you want by giving what your guy wants - and needs. Now, what do you think he'll do with that? If you think he'll just use it and toss it away, you're sadly mistaken! In fact, it's THOSE women that tend to steal other women's boyfriends! Think about that last point for a moment and you'll quickly see examples you know of in your own life.
Women that can get past their own internal struggle to play games (understanding that there's also huge pressure from outside to do these things too) you'll instead start working on that mutual benefit thing and all of the games - and responses - will simply end for you. You'll start getting right to the things you want rather than dealing with all the drama and misdirection that actually prevents them from happening.
Let's get into the social anxiety question:
The worst thing to do with this is to try to deny and hide it. The harder you work to mask that you're nervous the more your mind and body put into being nervous! All that shaking and over-talking is a symptom of how your body is processing this "fight or flight syndrome". You're so deeply in your own head that you have to work even harder to get out.
There are a number of ways to handle that.
First, create a "confidence persona" that you draw from before you get into social situations. This isn't a difficult as it first sounds. To do that begin by understanding that nobody is "confident". Everyone - you, me, everyone else - only gets to borrow confidence when they need it.
Like you said, you're fine around friends and family, but outside of that you don't feel calm, relaxed and confident. Why not? It's because you use a different persona in those situations than when you're with others.
Everyone has one or more "triggers" that help to create a confident persona. For example, if you were asked to speak to a small group about something you know very, very well - and that they wanted to know - you'd have a very different persona than if you were thrust into a party where you knew nobody, right?
There are many different types of triggers and some work for some people and not for others. Some people do really well by visualizing a situation they were in before where they were totally and completely confident. They "feel" that confidence and draw from it in new situations. Others are motivated by powerful music or by relaxing, calming, confident feelings, etc. You can find your own triggers (or create them) and use that to have solid confidence even when you're in an unfamiliar situation.
Another way to do this is to get yourself out of your own head. Instead of focusing on entertaining or impressing someone, focus exclusively on them - and only them. Think about this for a moment: what's the most important thing to that person? Answer: themselves! By being focused on them you're not only becoming more relaxed (and not "performing") but you're learning all kinds of things about them. Learn to ask open-ended questions for example and really listen to the answers they give - which gives you additional things to ask about and discover!
Regarding "blurting out questions" there's absolutely nothing wrong with this! I like to think of first dates like job interviews. You're trying to determine whether someone meets your criteria and if you meet theirs. I think it's entirely ok to talk about someone's interests in marriage, dating, family and even sex. Don't think about this as rushing at all. Look at it as discovery to determine if you're a good match or not.
Dr. Dennis W. Neder
Producers: "BAM! TV" and “Love and Sex”
Publishers: "Being a Man in a Woman's World I, II & III”
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for the detailed response--I appreciate it very much. I do have one more question about this point:
"Further, you'll start focusing on what's most important: mutual benefit. You'll start seeing things in terms of getting what you want by giving what your guy wants - and needs. Now, what do you think he'll do with that? If you think he'll just use it and toss it away, you're sadly mistaken!"
Unfortunately, this has not been my experience. In several relationships I made an effort to meet the other party's needs, and did not receive the same. For example, a guy who began things on a more mutual basis with me (both of us meeting the other's physical/emotional needs from the beginning), who gradually decided to give less and less while demanding more. Even telling me that he thought he would spoil me if he told me he loved me too often or spent too much time with me, but wanting me to contact him constantly (chasing after him!)
I would like to be "sadly mistaken," but this wasn't the only guy I was involved with who had a similar pattern (or power game?) going on. The average guy you describe sounds like a mythical creature. To me, anyway. Wouldn't mind meeting him, though.
By the way, lumped as I am with the rest of womankind with all those you's, I feel I should say that I always thought the stereotypical female games were stupid. When my female relatives would tell me to hold off on calling back or to wait a bit before answering the phone, I just did what I wanted. If I'm interested I don't wait three days or whatever the magical number is. And if the phone is accessible, I get it on the first ring. And I don't expect anybody to read my mind or always know what I'm angry about. Or tests--goodness knows I always fail tests other people impose on me (and I have experienced this from men!) Nor do I think that if I approach a guy with behavior A, I will get outcome B. A wiser relative used to tell me that was "magical thinking," like when you're a kid and you believe if you think something really hard, you'll get a particularly outcome. Surely that's not just a female thing to grow out of.
And anyway, thank you for the tips, and especially those on social anxiety. I definitely overthink things and worry too much about how I am appearing to new people rather than getting to know them, so that advice is very pertinent and useful.
Hello again Sarah Jane!
You're very welcome.
Since I don't know you I can only work from generalities and try to apply them to your particular situation. That isn't as counter-productive as it might sound however. Keep in mind that I've dealt with over 35,000 of these questions! I see the same patterns over and over again and also see the same results based on the limited number of choices.
I'm not exactly "lumping you into" all the other women in the world here. I'm going off what you're experiencing and working backward to get the root cause(s).
For instance, if you're finding that guys aren't returning your attention one of three things is happening: either you're misreading the cues, you're way over-investing (not investing commensurately at the same rate the guys are) in an attempt to artificially move things forward faster or you're expecting these guys to perform to some script you have in your head rather than looking at the outcomes from an individual perspective.
What you want to believe is that these guys are taking advantage of you expressing your interests and being connected and invested. However, in my experience that only happens in one instance (and ONLY one instance) - if you're dealing with psychopaths.
Psychopathic behavior is another one of those extremely rare situations; but most women want and almost seem to need to believe EVERY guy is a psychopath! While you're special and unique Sarah Jane, I don't believe that you're so special and unique as to ONLY attract psychopaths! If you are this is a very different discussion and not one I can help you with here on this board. That would take personal consultation to fix.
Frankly, I don't see those conditions here in you and thus, we have to go back to one of the previous three possibilities.
It's easy to misread other's interests and intentions. Women generally believe they are good judges of character; and thus, of determining intentions, but in reality often aren't any better than average. That's the most likely answer then to what you're experiencing.
The second most likely answer is that you're expecting guys to perform to your script. If they don't, then they must be trying to use you. Obviously, individuals will act individually and you aren't able to use anything other than the specific outcomes as a guide to how things are going.
The point about not telling you he loves you too often is a good example. Some people are "words people" and need to hear "I love you" in order to feel loved. Others are more visual and need to see acts of love to feel it. Others still are feelings-oriented and need to feel it in touch, connection and in other ways.
If you're a words-person (and you are!) other words-people will get this and deliver to you based on your script: the need to hear the words. Others won't get this and will attempt to give you love in their own "language". Do you see how a rock-solid script can work against you? If you look at their expressions in their own languages however you can start to see that they aren't denying you anything. They are trying to give you their own form of love. That script will also prevent you from seeing this.
This is why so many women think that guys "play games". We don't. We simply don't have that same internal wiring that you do. You are expecting us to operate the same way you do and we don't do that either!
Absolutely the stereotypical games are "stupid". They are ineffective and actually work against women. It's tough for you not to use them however because you're not only wired to do so, but there's huge pressure through the media, your family and friends for you to try them or at least to fall back on them. In lieu of learning to interpret men's language you naturally fall back on these games. The "phone game" is certainly one of those but there are many others.
As to "tests"; in fact, men don't test women. It's not how we think. In my latest book, "Being a Man in a Woman's World III" I actually show men HOW to "test" women because again; it's just not part of our wiring. In my first two books I talk about how to deal with women's natural test-wiring, but that's a different topic.
I hope this clears things up for you.
Dr. Dennis W. Neder
Producers: "BAM! TV" and “Love and Sex”
Publishers: "Being a Man in a Woman's World I, II & III”