Note: This article was originally published on sosuave.com
Let’s talk about confidence.
Women always say that they love confidence in guys. As I was growing up, it always felt like women would always go for the guys who were more confident and outgoing. Whenever I had a crush on someone, most of the time I would be too scared to ask her out. My mind would tell me things like “she probably already has a boyfriend,” and if I did try to talk to her then I would become super awkward and would barely even be able to say anything.
This makes it especially difficult because as men, we’re the ones who are expected to be the initiators when it comes to dating. It’s up to us to take the first step and ask her out, to go for the first kiss, to ask her to be exclusive, to say the first “I love you”, and so on. And this can mean having to step way, way out of your comfort zone. How are we supposed to be confident when it comes to dating, then?
I’m not going to give you some generic advice such as “fake it until you make it” or “just be confident.” You’ve probably already heard that enough times already. Instead, I’m going to show you the three steps that I used to finally become confident around women.
Step 1: Understand the Psychology of Confidence
The first step is to understand how the psychology of confidence works. Simply put, confidence reflects how much faith you have in yourself that you are able to complete a task successfully. This is influenced by your experience as well as the amount of risk involved, and it’s an evolutionary survival tool designed for keeping you out of trouble. Imagine that you’re in the jungle with a friend and your companion decides that he’s going to fight a lion with his bare hands. You, on the other hand, don’t feel confident about the idea of doing so. One of you is going to be okay and the other…probably not so much.
In order to improve your confidence, you need to build the relevant skills and experience that allow you to have more faith in yourself around what you are trying to accomplish. Think about the first time that you drove a car. Do you remember how you felt when you first pressed that gas pedal? How you felt when you pulled out into traffic the first time? And how you felt when you drove onto the highway for the first time? You probably felt a little nervous or unsure of yourself. After all, you had no experience other than studying the textbook in drivers’ ed class. How do you feel when you drive a car today? By now, you’ve been driving for hundreds and hundreds of hours. You have a lot more experience and a lot of it just feels like second nature to you. Because of this, you have a lot more faith in your driving abilities today which makes you much more confident than when you were first starting out.
Let’s apply this to dating. Confidence around dating involves gaining the skills and experiences that allow you to have more faith in yourself around women. One of the most powerful ways for you to approach this is to adopt a growth mindset. Someone who has a growth mindset knows that their skills and abilities can always be improved. They believe that they have the power to improve themselves and they see failure as opportunities for improvement rather than becoming discouraged by it.
The opposite is a fixed mindset. Someone with a fixed mindset believes that their skills and abilities can’t be changed. They might say things like “I just don’t have what takes” or “I’ll never be as good as he is” or “I’m just not good at this.” Each of these sentences implies some sort of helplessness.
It might take some time to switch from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, especially if you’ve been following it since you were young. By learning to recognize these types of thoughts as they pop up and then realize that they aren’t true, you’ll slowly be able to adopt the new mindset.
Step 2: Give Out Drive-By Compliments
The next step is to build up your courage by doing some drive-by compliments. To do this, you give someone a genuine compliment and then vanish.
Here are some examples:
- Nice shirt/shoes/pants/jacket!
- Your hair is awesome!
- You are a handsome man!
- Looking good!
- Your dog is so cute!
This sounds deceptively simple and yet is really awesome. First and foremost, you cannot possibly be shot down by the people that you approach. Since you are not asking for anything, you risk no social rejection. And you will long be on your merry way before it can ever become awkward.
In addition, you probably made the day of everyone that you complimented. Think about it, the person you just talked to might have been having a really rough day. Suddenly, you step out of the shadows and brighten their mood with a compliment before disappearing into the night again. You’re now the mysterious stranger who went out of his way to make someone else’s day better.
Like Batman. Seriously! (Bonus points if you actually do this dressed as Batman.)
Now, the first few times you do this may feel daunting. That’s perfectly okay! When I first started giving out drive-by compliments, I was absolutely terrified. I tried to say “Looking good” to a jogger as he ran past me but I was so nervous that my voice squeaked as if I had just taken a huge breath of helium. Yikes!
After I did this a few times, my fear of approaching people started to melt away. It quickly became much easier to go up to strangers and interact with them. And seeing the smiles on the faces of everyone you talk to really makes it worth it! Giving out drive-by compliments might feel scary at first, but it will become so much easier after the first few times. After you do this, your fear of approaching other people–including any women that you may have your eyes on–will start to melt away.
Step 3: Start Random Conversations With Strangers
Finally, we’re going to begin some random conversations with strangers. This is a little more daunting than drive by compliments. Here, you can get rejected. You can get shot down. And it is possible to make it totally awkward.
That’s okay. Remember that we’re using a growth mindset. If you’re playing a video game and you lose a life, do you turn the game off and never play it again? Of course not! You dust yourself off, learn what didn’t work so well, and try again! It’s the same thing here. If you try to start a conversation with someone and it ends up becoming awkward, that’s okay. Don’t get down on yourself, and instead try to understand why it didn’t go so well. Did you say something that killed the conversation? Did you try to make a joke or tell a story that didn’t quite hit the mark? Maybe it wasn’t anything you did and the other person just didn’t feel like talking.
My recommendation is to start small. Instead of starting off by trying to chat up Megan Fox or Scarlet Johansson, set the bar a little lower and just try talking to the cashier the next time you go grocery shopping. Ask her how her day is. Maybe she’ll engage you. Or maybe not, which is also completely fine.
After that, I suggest stepping it up a little bit. The next time you are waiting in line at the coffee shop, turn to the person next to you and introduce yourself. Another conversation starter you can try is to compliment someone and then asking them a related question instead of disappearing. So, you could say something like “Nice shirt!” and then follow up with “Is it new?” or “Where did you buy it?” Another example is to say “Your dog is so cute!” and then follow up with “What’s his name?” or “What kind of dog is he?”
In my experience, talking about weather kills conversations. It’s cliché and impersonal to try to have a conversation about the weather. On the other hand, asking people questions about themselves often gives me good results. Everyone has an ego. If you can tap into someone else’s ego by asking them about themselves and then showing that you’re interested in what they have to say, they’ll probably talk your ear off.
Get out there and try making random conversations with strangers. You’ll get some practice talking to people and you’ll become skilled at making a conversation flow and keeping it engaging.
Being Confident Around Women
Did going through these three exercises really help me become more confident?
A little while ago, I was in the coffee shop and I happened to run into this stunningly gorgeous woman. The old Steve would have sat there paralyzed, unable to go up and talk to her. But this time was different.
This time I didn’t worry about being rejected or getting embarrassed. I didn’t feel a crippling fear holding me back or hear that voice in my head telling me that she’ll probably just turn me down. And you know what the best part was? For the first time, I was able to relax and just have FUN talking to someone that I liked.
Once you perfect the art of going up to random people and starting conversations, you’re going to build up a lot of faith in yourself. This will make you more confident. Naturally confident.
And you won’t ever have to fake it.