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|Hunt Ethridge • 4/04/18|
In the advice-giving game, I come across a lot of sensationalized clickbait headlines. “Wear This Color to Instantly Get Her to Notice You!” “These 4 Sex Tips Will Keep Him Running Back For More!” “Do This ONE Thing to Get Everything You’ve Ever Wanted!”
Most of these articles do not pay off, or, if they do, there’s only a vague gain. I promise you this article is not only not clickbait, but there’s a lot of science to support the advice.
While I do like discussing colors to get you noticed (red and yellow) and sex tips (say yes, repeat), I love to get into the nitty-gritty of psychology, sociology, biology, business theory, mechanical engineering, implicit bias, and other areas of science and learning to help us: 1) Understand where we are coming from and 2) Get where we want to go.
So alright, guys, let’s use some science to help each other get more dates.
When we feel good, we feel good about the world, in general. We overlook little and even big things. We see the glass as half-full. We’re more complimentary, we’re more open, and we’re more loving. This is why I always coach my clients to access emotion, make their date or partner feel good, and put themselves in situations where they’re likely to be happy.
A happy partner is also motivated to make the relationship better. According to Dr. Terri Orbuch, America’s Love Doctor and author of “5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great“:
“Research shows that there are three basic needs all people in relationships have: 1) Reassurance of self-worth. 2) Intimacy and closeness. 3) Assistance. The happiest couples from my study have these three needs met by their partners.”
In relationships, the common word for this is affirmation, which consists of words, gestures, or acts that show the other person that they are noticed, appreciated, and loved. I understand that I’m talking about people already in a relationship, and this article is about how to get into a relationship. However, I need to lay the groundwork for how this is going to play out.
Do you feel good right now? When was the last time someone affirmed, noticed, respected, and appreciated you? My guess is it’s probably been a long time. Because if you spend most of your time socializing with other men, they probably have not been giving it to you. This leads us into the next section.
Whether it’s mothers, sisters, friends, lovers, or kids, we know females are cut from a different cloth. We are all equal, but we’re definitely different. If we say that we’re the same, it doesn’t help either side. Let’s celebrate our differences, equally and happily. Now, with all that being said, there’s a vast difference between how women treat other women and how men treat other men.
In my honest opinion, women are better at explaining their emotions, being empathetic and sympathetic, and, most of all, being supportive of each other. More importantly, they’re vocally supportive. Even aside from a large amount of friend support, women can walk into a store and a complete stranger can look at her and say, “Girl, your hair looks fabulous today.” Not saying it happens all the time, but it does.
When was the last time you, a guy, were complimented on your hair, outfit, masculinity, or intellect? I’m guessing it’s been awhile.
“Men simply don’t get these perks [of friendship] as much as women do, and they are downright starved for them.” Dr. Terri explained. “The need for reassurance is an essential basic need [see point number one above] all people have.”
Men typically don’t have anywhere near as many confidants as women do, Dr. Terri has found in her work. In an exercise in which participants were asked to look at a target of five concentric rings and place the names of the five closest people in their lives (family excluded), men and women responded very differently.
First off, many men have trouble even coming up with five people, whereas women ask if they can have more than five. When the circles are complete, they look something like this:
Men crave and need affirmation from their partners because they don’t get it from their male friendships. If you’re relying solely on your partner to make you happy and affirm you, it can put a lot of pressure on your lady. While we should all help, support, and love our partners, our happiness, or lack thereof, is in our hands and is our responsibility.
So you have men who are not getting any affirmation from outside their relationship. Not only are they not getting small, random affirmations and happiness from strangers, but they’re also lacking the deeper affirmations that only good friends can give you. Thus, they put all of their affirmation eggs into one basket, the relationship, and that’s a lot of pressure. No one likes the feeling of desperation or neediness. So what can guys do?
“Men don’t have the same sorts of friendships as women do. Women bond in their friendships by talking and affirming each other. Men bond by doing activities with each other,” Dr. Terri said. “If a man calls a male friend to get some advice, they’re more likely to shoot some pool or have a drink together. You just can’t imagine a male friend responding “Let’s have a cup of tea and explore your feelings. Thus, same-sex friendships can be binding for men, but they don’t create the necessary intimacy and closeness we all need as human beings.”
I was not a sports guy; I majored in acting. Generally speaking, in the gender/sexual/identity fluid/accepting space that theater, music, and film is, there’s more room, or rather, less judgement, to be whatever you want to be. That allowed me and my friends to have a safe space to explore male/male friendships.
Twenty+ years later, we still say, “I love you, man” when we get off the phone with each other. Even my wife, a very open-minded woman, would gently tease me about saying that until she realized that even her teasing me was perpetuating the stigma that doesn’t allow men to open up to each other. She doesn’t tease me anymore and instead says how great it is that I have friends in my life who I can say that to.
How many times have you been somewhere and you see this dude and you’re like, “Damn, man. That dude has it going on.” He’s well-dressed, well-spoken, and nice. Now how many times have you gone up to said stranger and told him that? My guess is zero. Why? Because we’re fearful of seeming gay? Or like a pansy? Or too much up in someone’s business? That’s all bullshit noise that your brain is (erroneously) telling you.
How good would you feel if, after a presentation at work, one of your guy coworkers said, “Man, that was great. You seemed really prepared and knocked that out of the park?” You’d feel awesome. If you were at a bar talking to your friends and some dude came up to you and said, “Hey, dude. Sorry to interrupt, but your outfit is on point,” you’d be walking around on a cloud.
It’s so easy to affect someone’s life in a positive way. A simple “Lookin’ good” as you pass someone can be the best thing someone says to them all day. If we can help each other out with our craving for affirmation, we can take the pressure off our partners, and it will help us be in positive moods. It only takes five seconds out of your day to make someone else’s.
To all my guys out there, this is a little wake-up call for you. We need to be vocally kinder and complimentary to each other. There’s nothing bad about it, and so much good can come from it. Every day say one nice thing to a guy, whether it’s a stranger or friend. That will create ripples of positive energy that go out into the world and, well, make the world a better place. It will also make you feel better about yourself, which, in the end, makes you a zillion times more attractive to others when you date.