Dating coach Connell Barrett answers your questions on how to compliment a girl, why your looks just don’t matter, and a simple tip to confidently approach women.
Connell, I really need to know how to compliment a girl. I know from your book that it’s important to create a “man-to-woman” frame when you’re talking to a woman, but every time I want to compliment someone, I worry that I’ll come across as needy or overeager. When it comes to learning how to compliment a girl, what’s the right way?
—Jason, 40, Tampa, Fla.
Ah, how to compliment a girl? It’s one of life’s age-old questions, right up there with, “Is there life after death?” and “Why the HELL did Game of Thrones’ final season suck so bad?”
Fear not, Jason. It’s actually very simple to compliment a girl, whether you’re on a date, chatting in a social environment, or just texting back and forth on a dating app.
A fantastic way to do it is to pay her a Power Compliment. It should be three things: sincere, specific, and not about her physical attributes.
Does she have a cool tattoo? Stylish leather boots? An awesome Springsteen T-shirt? Tell her what you noticed and why you’re impressed. (“I love Bruce, too. He was my first concert.”)
There’s nothing wrong with appreciating a woman’s physical beauty, but women want to be appreciated for what’s inside. Let her know an inner quality that you like about her. Are you impressed by her smarts, wits, sense of humor, or caring heart? Tell her.
Lots of guys have told her how beautiful she is on the outside. Be that rare man who also sees the beauty within.
That’s how to compliment a girl, in a way that she’ll love.
I’ll be blunt. I’m not a good-looking guy. I have a big nose, and also some scarring on my neck from an accident from childhood. And my looks really hurt me in the confidence department. I almost never talk to women, I haven’t had a girlfriend in years, and I don’t bother with online dating. I figure, “What’s the point? It’s all about being great-looking.” But I’m so lonely and low in confidence. Can you give me any tips? Or just some hope?
—Michael, 37, Nashville
Michael, I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there. I used to think I just didn’t have the looks or washboard abs that women want.
But the truth is your looks are way, way overrated, when it comes to dating success, and attracting a great girlfriend.
That’s right—your looks don’t matter.
Hey, if you’re a guy who has chiseled, Hemsworthian features, good on you. But take it from a fellow who’s dated some beautiful women despite resembling a Weasley brother: Your looks don’t matter all that much—unless you make them matter.
If you stop and think, you’ll find that the old Joe Jackson song “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” rings true. How often have you seen a head-turning woman with a regular-looking guy? Lots, I’ll bet. There are many high-profile examples, too, from past and present. Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe. Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts. Pete Davidson and Half of Hollywood.
I used to buy into the whole “looks matter” myth, which is partially why I married a woman I wasn’t in love with. I wanted to be single and date around, but I felt I wasn’t attractive enough to do that, so I settled. And she rightly dumped me nine weeks later.
When I started hiring coaches and getting some good wingmen, I met tons of not-hot guys—chubby, scrawny, short—who were attracting sexy women.
The first time I saw a “regular” guy getting rock-star results, I almost rubbed my eyes and questioned reality. Owen Cook was an old-school pickup artist whom I’d read about in The Game. (He’s left behind pickup artistry to focus solely on self-development.)
A five-foot-eight, balding fellow-ginger, he’s hardly male-model material. But he understands that attraction is about giving women good emotions, not about a guy’s looks. Early in my dating education, I took his boot camp in San Diego. At one club, I watched Cook make out with three different women he had just met—all of them SoCal stunners, all in under ninety minutes.
While nowhere near his level at the time, I landed a fistful of phone numbers that weekend, as well as my first instant make-out, which is when you boldly walk up to a woman and, if you read the signals, start kissing in seconds. That weekend taught me that it’s not about looks.
But as men, we get hung up on this myth for a couple reasons. First, it’s societal conditioning. We’re told that good looks are paramount in dating.
Also, we tend to value physical beauty in women more than women value it in us. Why? Men are very visual—we love a pretty face and an attractive figure.
There’s also the ego factor. Nothing puffs out your chest like hearing an envious buddy say, “Dude, your girlfriend’s hot!” Because men prioritize looks, we project our preferences onto the opposite sex and assume that women see us the same way. If you’d love to date a model-caliber woman, you might assume that those women want runway-ready guys.
Now, the typical woman would be happy to have a handsome man in her life, sure—but looks are way down on her “must” list. In one poll of 64,000 women, respondents were asked what traits they want most in a male partner, and physical attractiveness didn’t even crack the top ten.
So what’s your move? Play to your strengths!
Focusing on what you think you lack will only hurt your confidence. Play to your strengths, such as your intelligence, wit, or sense of humor.
If you make a woman laugh in a flirtatious way, she’ll find you as sexy as Brad Pitt, even if you look more like Brad Garrett.
My client Jeremy had been dateless for two years before he hired me. A restaurant worker who loves Will Ferrell movies, Jeremy is no pretty boy, as he readily admits. “I look like John C. Reilly’s uglier brother,” he told me during our first meeting.
His focus on looks blinded him to his witty, weird sense of humor, which, when he harnessed it, changed his love life. He realized he could simply approach, crack a few jokes, and girls started to dig him. One day he sent me this email:
“Connell, my mind is blown! At lunch today, I approached a pro-football cheerleader. I just chatted her up at the salad bar. Had her laughing and loving me. Phone number . . . from a cheer-babe! I feel incredible.”
Looks only matter if you let them.
At least 10 times this week I’ve seen cute girls at my gym, but I just can’t seem to approach them. The same happens when I go out at night, especially when I see a woman who’s in a group. I just feel like they’re gonna think I’m a creep, if I go up to them. How can I get the courage up to break the ice with women, because every time that I wimp out, I just feel like such a loser.
—Gary, 41, Indianapolis
You might think that it’s creepy to approach women, but in reality, it’s creepy NOT to.
Assuming, of course, that you put your best, most authentic self out there.
Here’s a quick story. When I started learning how to attract women, I was at a trendy hotel lounge in New York City one night. My wingman challenged me to approach a table where a cute brunette and her blond friend sat with a muscular guy.
At that point, I was still nervous about talking to women, let alone dealing with a potentially pissed-off boyfriend. And this guy was huge, like a bottle of Muscle Milk made corporeal. But I summoned the courage, walked over, grabbed an empty chair, and offered a warm hello.
The brunette’s eyes widened and she leaned forward. “Oh my God! You came right up and talked to us. Do you know what you are?” I thought, Umm, a creep who’s about to get his butt kicked? “You’re normal!”
She tilted her head toward a fellow sitting a couple tables away. “That guy’s been staring at us all night, and it’s creeping us out!” Oh, and the hulking dude I was worried about? Super friendly. I traded numbers with the brunette, who was as charming as she was pretty.
Most men don’t approach women, often from a fear of appearing creepy. But there’s nothing creepy about approaching.
What feels creepy to women is when a guy wants to approach, yet does nothing except stare.
Think about it: You’re a man, and men (mostly) are attracted to women. There’s nothing creepy about an authentic approach, as long as you have good intentions, and are empathetic to how the woman you just approached is feeling.
My advice? Follow the Three-Second Rule
When you’re in a social environment and you see a woman you’d love to meet, approach her immediately. Begin walking toward her within three seconds of spotting her. If you delay for too long, your Lower Self will talk you out of it, filling you with doubt.
The longer you wait, the heavier the weight.
Three, two, one . . . go!
Connell Barrett is a NYC dating coach helping men all over the world attract the women of their dreams. Connell's book Dating Sucks But You Don't helps men learn how to approach women and how to talk to girls in an authentic way. Connell has appeared on The Today Show, Access Hollywood, and more. Book a meeting with Connell or purchase his book here.
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NYC Dating Coach Connell Barrett
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