Dating coach Connell Barrett answers your questions on gaining instant confidence, how nice guys finish first and date quality girls, and turning a “rejection” into a first date.
Connell, I loved the chapter in your book about being “Radically Authentic.” I really like the sound of that, because I’m a man who just does NOT want to be some phony “pickup artist” type of guy. Can you share some practical tips about how to be Radically Authentic?
—Jake, 37, Indianapolis
Jake, it’s fairly simple: Being truly Radically Authentic is about ripping off those masks that most men wear with women and instead showing her your very best, most real and true you.
I speak from experience. I wore a lot of masks over the years. Consider my dates with a woman named Laura, whom I met back when I was trying to crack the code of dating success. I was super into her. She was the pretty much the perfect combo of smart and sexy, and she was quick with a witty one-liners. After our first date or two, I was totally smitten, pretty much scribbling “Connell + Laura” on my Trapper Keeper notebook.
But I felt out of my league with her—a minor-league ballplayer in Fenway Park. What would a bright beauty like her see in a nerd like me? She was into SCUBA and mountain-hiking, so on our second date I put on a mask and pretended to be the rugged, outdoorsy guy I assumed that she wanted.
Which is to say, I made a bunch of crap up. Lies, lies, lies. I told her that I was studying to get my pilot’s license (a lie), that I was into skydiving (double lie), and that I swam with dolphins and sharks off the coast of Belize (double-dog lie.) I have a terrible poker face, and as I spewed these tall tales, my upper lip became a Slip-n-Slide of sweat. She could tell I was not being the real me. She friend-zoned me, naturally—as well she should have! Because when you feel that you’re unworthy, and you pretend to be someone you’re not, women can tell.
You must remove the mask. To quote John Updike: “A mask eats at the face.”
Yet when you’re what I call radically authentic, you relax and grow more at ease, making you more confident and attractive to women who like your type. Also, you give ladies an exciting, singular experience. After all, you’re not merely one in a million. You’re one in seven billion!
Put it like this: It’s the difference between being a watered-down wine spritzer and a glass of strong, 18-year-old Scotch.
Women want to catch a buzz on the good stuff—the top-shelf, 80-proof, barrel-aged you.
So, as I write in my book, “Dating Sucks but You Don’t,” here are the (cue: drumroll….)
Never, ever lie to women, and never put on a false front. Shed that mask. Instead, share your sense of humor, your stories, your points of view, your passions, your feelings, your true self. The more honest you are, the more you accept your true self, and that acceptance makes you instantly more confident. (And women LOVE confident men!)
Let your flaws, fears, and foibles show, while fully owning them. It takes real strength to be vulnerable, and women want to date strong men.
Example of vulnerability: Instead of telling that story about the time you scored the winning touchdown, talk about the time you fumbled and LOST the game.
Align your dating actions with your words and values. As Shakespeare wrote, “Action is eloquence.” This can be as simple as approaching a woman you find attractive and saying hello.
Kindness is so underrated by men. In fact, it’s the thing women want most in a guy, according to a 2019 survey of 64,000 single women. That’s right. It was no. 1, ahead of looks, money, or height. So, be nice.
Both in dating and in life, the more you grow as a man, the more you give to women you meet—and the more you give, the more women want to give back to you.
As I write in my book, but it bears repeating: Your Authentic Self is King—forever may he reign.
How can I stop being so nice? I’ve heard that women want to date bad boys and jerks. How can I stop being such a nice guy and start being a bad boy?
—Craig, 28, Denver
Craig, don’t do it! You may think that women all want bad boys, rather than nice guys. But that’s not the case. The truth is, nice guys are sexier than six-pack abs.
You may be thinking that women love the bad boy (and his cousin, the cocky jerk.) You know, Han Solo, Russell Brand, and the like. The swagger. The bravado. The Millennium Falcon.
Bad boys get girls giggling, twirling their hair, and giving out their numbers. But the odds of women swooning over YOU—a nice guy—are slim, right?
Wrong! The fact is, you can steal a little bad-boy mojo while still being the nice guy you are. And without getting stuck in the friend zone.
I know this because I’m a nice guy who was raised by nice parents in a nice Ohio town. I volunteer at a residence for blind people. I say please and thank you. I literally help old ladies cross the street. I’m not bragging. Just pointing out that you can be a nice guy and also be great with women.
Women are dying to date nice guys. Consider: In a Glamour magazine poll, single women chose “loyal and lovable” men as the category of guys they most want to date, at 33 percent. You know who finished second to last, at 6 percent? “Bad boys.”
I tried playing the cocky bad boy with women, and I struggled. Then one evening I met a gorgeous, glossy-haired Maxim model who opened my eyes to what women are looking for.
She was bemoaning all the narcissistic jerks she meets. “I’m so sick of arrogant, selfish men,” she said. “I’d love to meet a nice guy, but they never approach me. They’re intimidated. It’s too bad because nice guys are sexier than six-pack abs—as long as they have a back- bone.”
Did you catch that? “As long as they have a backbone.” When nice guys strike out with women, it’s not because of the niceness. It’s because they don’t convey the strength and confidence that women want.
You don’t need to wear some assholier-than-thou mask, and you don’t need to be an “alpha male.”
You need to be a nice guy with steely self-confidence.
Don’t only take my male word on this. “By the time they reach their late twenties, women are done with bad boys,” Cherlyn Chong, a relationship coach for women, told me. “They put up with dick pics, arrogance, even emotional abuse, and they just want a nice, honest guy with some form of sexy going on. A guy who’s genuine dismantles women’s walls by being respectful while unapologetically real. That’s sexy as fuck.”
In other words, nice guys finish FIRST.
This is driving me crazy! I get close to a cute girl having a date on me, and then she backs out last minute. That gets me trying to talk into meeting me, and that never works. What do I say to a woman who cancels a date? Is there a way to flip it around?
—Charlie, 35, Portland, Maine
If a texting interaction isn’t going the way you want, use this move: Change her mood, not her mind.
That is, don’t use logic. Try humor or storytelling or try to tease her. Spike the interaction.
You can’t logically persuade a woman to meet you for a date – you have to strum the strings of her emotions.
For a few weeks, I had been trying for a first date with Annie—a kind, cute, private-equity real estate agent I’d connected with on a dating app. We couldn’t get our schedules aligned.
One day she sent me a polite blow-off message. I used some humor and silliness, rather than logic or pleading, and only a few messages after seemingly rejecting me, she called ME to set up a date. Here’s how I did it.
ANNIE: Hey, sorry I won’t be able to meet you. I am talking to someone else about a first date. But best of luck.
ME: No worries at all. Glad to hear you made a love connection. But I’ll have to return the engagement ring I bought you. [Ring emoji]
ANNIE: Lol. Sorry I’m just an honest person . . . But hey, perhaps it will be a terrible date.
ME: I have an idea. How about I come on the date with you! & you can give the guy you like most a rose, like on “the Bachelorette”
ANNIE: Lol! That would be different for sure. It’s too bad that you and I never connected. I just don’t like dating more than one guy.
ME: No worries. I only spent $7 on your ring so it’s OK. A fake diamond. Diamond-oid.
ANNIE: Perfect. I’m clumsy and I probably would fall and lose the ring.
ME: Phew! Then I dodged a bullet. I mean, you’re adorable and you seem cool, but if you dropped the symbol of our eternal love down in the gutter, that would hurt. [Frowning emoji]
ANNIE: LMAO. I can’t help it. I’m clumsy.
ME: That is SO you. It’s why I proposed.
ANNIE: Hahaha. You’re cute. Maybe I should meet you.
ME: Lol. Thanks. You’re suuuper cute. I’m just trying to keep up. You have a great sense of humor. & Don’t worry. I never propose till date no 2.
ANNIE: Haha. We should meet up. Imma call you in a min . . .
Seconds later, my phone rang, we talked for a half hour, and we had a great date three nights later that ended with her spending the night. And all I did was have fun by cracking dumb jokes, rather than try to logically convince her to meet with me, which would NOT have worked.
To change her mind, change her mood.
Connell Barrett is a NYC dating coach for men. He's helped men all over the world find the woman of their dreams with actionable advice. His work has been featured on Access Hollywood and the Today Show. In addition, you can find him in print in Maxim, O Magazine, and Cosmopolitan. Ask Connell a question below!
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