Social Skills with Jeremy Kochis

Welcome to my brand-new series, Friday Romantics! This is a new series where I interview dating experts to learn their secrets.

Today’s Romantic is Jeremy Kochis. Jeremy runs the website where he helps introverted men overcome their social obstacles and become skilled at dating to find fulfilling relationships.

Jeremy is one of my friends and he was super supportive of me when I first set out to grow my website. He coaches men one-on-one with dating (something that I’ve never done before as of writing this) and I had the honor of formally meeting him last September at a conference in Chicago called Forefront 2017.

Below, pay attention to how we talk about:

  • Jeremy’s three recommendations on talking to women, naturally
  • How he expanded his social circle and made more male and female friends even when he didn’t know anybody after college
  • His one biggest piece of advice when it comes to finding a girlfriend, which will naturally make you more attractive and confident around women
  • His approach on coaching men with dating and one of his success stories
  • How he overcame his shyness and social anxiety

One thing a lot of men struggle with is how to talk to women. What are your thoughts on that? Do you have certain lines or techniques that you use?

In the general sense, it helps a lot to have platonic female friends that you can talk to and bond with over time. It makes it easier and takes the mystique out of it. But when it comes to talking to someone in a flirtatious way and not making that awkward, there’s three things that come to mind.

One is the mindset of curiosity rather than having a goal. Maybe you do want to get this woman’s number but it doesn’t exactly help you to be forcing yourself toward that goal. It’s about wanting to get to know something that’s really interesting about her that you can ask genuine questions about. Start with small talk and being curious about her personality and what she’s into, then you can move to flirting.

Another thing is, if you have a reason to talk to somebody then it takes the awkwardness out of it. When you’re at a party and a friend introduces you to one of their friends, it feels a hundred percent less awkward because they can say “Here’s my friend Steven. Steven, meet Kathy.” And you’re like “Oh hi, how’s it going?” and there’s really no awkward transition because you had a reason to start speaking to that woman.

You can create that moment for yourself, it just depends on the environment. I think it’s the most difficult to talk to someone out of the blue when you’re at the bar. So, a lot of the time I don’t focus on that environment for getting dates because that’s really coming out of nowhere, and you almost never have a reason to talk to somebody new. But if you’re sharing an activity or you’re somewhere you can ask a question like a bookstore or a coffee shop you’ve never been to, try something easy like “What should I read? I’m looking for a new book” or “I’ve never been here before — do they have anything that’s especially good? Do you come here a lot?” Some context-specific reason to talk to the person makes it less awkward than saying “Hi my name is…How are you?”

They call that a “cold approach” in the pickup world and in my experience that’s really, really hard to pull off successfully.

It depends on your mood and the place but I do it all the time unintentionally, just because it’s good practice and it’s fun to talk to someone you’ve never talked to before. Especially if you don’t have a goal in mind.

The third thing is just paying attention to what’s around you and looking for those kinds of opportunities.

After initially breaking the ice, holding a conversation is sort of a different thing, right? They’re both kind of wrapped up in that question. It’s hard not to feel like you’re interrogating somebody when you’re trying to get to know them.  Especially as an introvert or shy person. I think trying to shift things in the direction of storytelling really helps a lot because it lets one person talk for an extended period without having to go back and forth and say things constantly. You just listen without thinking too hard about what’s you’re going to say next. If you have a couple of stories you love telling or that you know will get a fun reaction, you should look for any opportunity to bring that out.

It’s difficult to approach someone with the intention of getting their number. If I understand correctly, what you like to do is find reasons to talk to them or you go up to them and you’re genuinely curious about them. You’re not even worried about getting their number off the bat, you just want to go up to them and see if they’re interesting.

Exactly right. You might not even want to get their number once you start talking to them.

True. A lot of people who’ve never had girlfriends or relationships before try to make their standards as low as possible. But then you might attract a low-quality woman or someone who’s going to make you unhappy. And that actually makes you less attractive to women because it shows that you don’t even think of yourself very highly.

For sure. That’s never a good place to be in, even if you think you need more dating “experience”.

You mentioned that having some platonic female friends makes it easier to talk to women. But what if you don’t have a lot of friends or you don’t have that big of a social circle?

It’s kind of just one step at a time. One person at a time. Sometimes the people you already know have friends that you don’t even know about. They’re in two different circles. Sometimes you can just ask that question directly depending on how close you are with your guy friends. “Hey do you know anybody that’s fun that we could hang out with outside this group?” That’s not a weird question to ask your close friends. Maybe it’s weird asking that to someone you just met. I had a community at college and a lot of people moved away, so I had to start over with a lot of my social group. And I met a lot of them through the activities that I do and care about.

I have a lot of extrovert friends and they love to hang out with people all the time. As an introvert, I’m like “Don’t you ever get tired?” Often I’ll find that they know a lot of people that I didn’t know they knew, and I’ll find out when I hang out with them. I end up meeting two or three new people that I’ve never met before.

Yes. Sometimes people tend to keep their friend groups separate from each other but it’s great if you can make that bridge happen.

Another note would be that when it comes to making new friends you can see often, I find that you really need to take the initiative.  When you meet a guy or girl you like, make sure you don’t leave without staying in touch somehow.  And then invite them to do things with you later!  

What’s your biggest piece of advice when it comes to getting a girlfriend?

It’s to build a genuinely rich life outside of your home and your comfortable circle in a way that you’ll meet people through doing things. You’ll have something to talk about and something you care about, and good people will enter your life if you pay attention to the community around it. Something with a social component. Pay attention to who’s there regularly. Are there women you’re attracted to or interested in? Are there people you could see yourself adding to your life? A lot of volunteer communities have a really high quality group of people. Food kitchens, animal shelters, stuff like that.

I like athletic things. I do rock climbing and everybody there at the gym is my type of person.

Finding a couple things that you could really throw yourself into and start to learn adds a whole lot to your social skills. You get comfortable around those people and then you have something you can talk to them about. Then when you find a girl in one of those places or when someone introduces you to one of their friends and she happens to be single, you’ll have things to make yourself interesting.

That’s true. And people don’t usually want to hear that. In my experience, men tend to want to have an “easy way out” that doesn’t involve working on themselves.

There’s a couple things about that. One is that people overestimate the time involved with the activity piece. You can go to a thing twice and be like “Oh, this is awesome!” or if you don’t like it after a couple of times then you can stop going there. It can take only two weeks for some hobbies. But what do you think the alternative to that is? I have my thoughts and I want to know what you think.

There’s a couple of alternatives and I have mixed feelings about them. In the pickup world, some people will tell you to approach 50 women until you get numbers. That sounds good in theory. But you’re no longer approaching a woman because you’re genuinely interested in her and she’ll sense that, which stacks the odds against you. You’ll get shot down a lot and that grates on you and makes it even less likely that you’ll find someone to go out with. And then it just becomes a vicious cycle.

The other way is online dating. That’s like the one activity where your goal is to explicitly find a date. Which can work, but I’ve personally had mixed results with that. I’ve had a lot of dates that just never went anywhere. And sometimes I’d go on a date and right off the bat I’d realize that we were not a good match together.

I’ve had those experiences too, and my response to that is I use those dates as practice. Asking questions, conversational skills, which you can work on at any point in time. Also, I suggest setting up first dates that lend themselves to brevity. Getting coffee, one drink, taking a walk.

I feel that if you have a life that you genuinely enjoy then it’s naturally going to make you more confident. It doesn’t matter as much whether or not she agrees to go out with you. There’s a concept Mark Manson calls “neediness” where if you’re really needy and you ask her out and get rejected, then it’s going to make you feel like you’re still lonely, like you lack companionship. If you’re coming from a place of non-neediness, if you have a life that you like and you have hobbies and friends, then you go ask a woman out and get rejected…it’s still going to hurt but you know you’re going to be okay, because you have everything else to fall back on. Having all of that makes you more confident and it makes it more likely that she’ll agree to go out with you.

I think you hit the nail on the head. When you evolve from that “needy” feeling to being fulfilled with yourself, the change is very tangible. It affects your body language, voice intonation, the way you describe yourself and what you do.

How do you help people with that? What’s your approach to coaching?

When I coach people, I have them set small goals and big goals. The small goals can be something like “start two conversations with strangers” and the big ones are like “start a new hobby” or “ask somebody out”.  It creates a pattern of success.

One of the men I coached just moved into a new city from a different state. My city, actually. I had the privilege of coaching him one-on-one in person. He was concerned about how he was going to find people that he liked in his new environment where he didn’t know anybody. By the end of our seven weeks together he had four new friends, two new hobbies, and he was feeling on top of the world about it. I could see a measurable change in his mindset.

Wow. That’s amazing!

Yes, it made me really happy to see that, too.

Do you feel that being an introvert has had an impact on your dating life?

When I was in college, it definitely affected my life 100%. I rarely reached out to people unless I had a solid reason to talk to them, to a fault. But over time, I learned to manage my energy. Going out a certain number of times a week really makes you value the times you do go out. For me, that made me pick important things to me when I could only really bear three social nights a week max. Now, it’s not really that much of an issue.

Do you feel like it was a disadvantage for you?

Not really. The way I see introversion is your relationship with your energy, whether or not you get exhausted with other people or being around other people energizes you. I think having shyness and social anxiety had a bigger impact on my dating life, which I was able to work through.

How did you work through that?

It’s been one of the biggest difficulties I’ve had in life before becoming a dating coach. I would say I just kind of brute forced my way to improvement. I told myself that I need to be better with social skills and I want to connect with people much more easily. I made myself uncomfortable a lot and tried a lot of new things. For example, one of my hobbies is partner dancing, which I was terrible at for the first three months. It was not fun at first, but I practiced two times a week anyway. The people I met there helped a lot. They made me more comfortable. It can feel that way for a lot of people socially, I think.

One person on my list emailed me and said “Ask him what he thinks about pickup.” Do you have any thoughts on that?

Yeah. You touched on it a little bit earlier. I’m pretty strongly against everything it represents. It might help a couple of guys with dealing with rejection or putting themselves out on a limb to talk to a stranger. But the methods, I don’t think any of them are helpful.

What’s frustrating is that teasing is such a great way to flirt, but there’s such a fine line between negging and teasing. I’ve put off writing about it for a while because I don’t know how to describe it. You can say something backhanded about her in a way that she knows you’re not serious about it, all smiles. That’s teasing. And there’s not much difference comparing that to a negging situation. It’s funny.

With pickup, most of the time you’re not being genuine. It’s really only built to create hookups and that’s not what I’m about. I don’t seek them out because I’m more of a relationships person. So I feel really strongly about helping people find relationships.

To connect with Jeremy or to read more of his dating advice, check out his website

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