GI Joe Got It Right
In a recent email, a reader asked for some advice regarding making some changes to his life to help him meet his relationship goals. He’s somewhat like me in regards to profession, age, and general situation in life. I certainly empathized with him as I read his email. One of his major complaints was his history of being the NiceGuy®. Of course I recommended the book “No More Mr. Nice Guy” as a start to his way off that emotional trap.
As he was looking to get back into the dating scene and wasn’t real keen with trying online dating, I gave him my standard advice about finding live singles events in the cosmopolitan city where he lives. As is a technologist, I know full well how difficult that line of work is regarding building social skills. Somewhat related, his city – like mine – has a large number of tourists and these folks are excellent to work on social skills. Of course I recommended that he hit the tourist spots and strike up conversations.
Attending live singles events can yield some excellent results especially when being more of a passive observer that an extroverted fellow who happily meets others. Here is what I wrote on this: You have to become extremely self-aware of what you are doing in social situations. It will feel very weird in the beginning and you will likely not speak much fearing that you might revert to someone you were and not someone you want to be. By the way, hearing and analyzing how and what you say (even body language) is something of a Zen experience. But it can be done with practice.
Thankfully, there are two positives that come with being a good social observer:
1. Without yet being a serious participant in social interactions, this gives you the opportunity to watch social interactions in an appropriate context. This gives you the time to watch critically how men and women communicate. The subtle forms of non-verbal communication are extremely important to watch. Women, in particular, use non-verbal communication like a ninja uses a throwing star.
2. You will be perceived as mysterious and aloof and the dames actually like this. The body language you must project is that of amused/aloof mastery of the social scene. But if someone makes eye contact – man or woman – acknowledge that with a small chin rise and a pleasant “Hello”. It’s a social event and a conversation might actually break out. The horror! Hold your drink at your waist, dammit. The “drink shield” is a defensive posture. You’ll be dressing one level up from the rest of the guys, too. Finally, don’t stare, just observer with some degree of subtlety.
I must reiterate that this process is neither easy nor natural for most guys re-entering the dating scene. There will be awkward social moments at first. There might even be a social gaffe or two. If the guy can recognize what happened and why, that’s a huge step forward in re-learning some key social skills. You know the GI Joe cartoon from way back when? Yeah, “knowing is half the battle”.