Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

I’m Too Intimidated To Talk To Women

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a student, 22 years old and almost graduated. I got a nice part-time job (and soon a full-time job!), workout once a week. I do not have a problem making people laugh or give serious advice when they need it. People think I’m generally feeling good, but the fact is I do not feel that at all.

I’ve stumbled on your site about 2 years ago and I can’t thank you enough for all the delightful stories and articles you came up with. During that time, I was in a relationship and everything felt good but the relationship turned out to be really toxic. She lied to me about important things for months, she would make me feel like she was the only one approving me and I should be lucky that I even had a girlfriend. I kept up with it and forgave her everything because I did believe her and I was scared that when this would be over, I would be alone forever. Fast forward to this year (January) and some exchanges overseas, she cheated on me and decided that she didn’t want me anymore because she was not in love with me anymore. I was heartbroken and then the fear really kicked in: I would be alone forever.

After reading the books you wrote (and even The Game and Rules of the Game by Strauss) I thought even I could be successful again in finding love and possibly ‘the one’. But it turns out, that even when I remember all the advices and approach tactics, I can’t get over the fear of approaching women. I do not have that many friends and when I finally go out with them and miraculously use an approach (the famous ‘ninja or pirate’ question you came up with) and almost every time ignoring the ‘3 second rule’, women answer it with a laugh and I just completely fall still. I can’t get a conversation going or even a single word out of my mouth and I just smile and slowly turn away while fighting the dragons in my head that say ‘you are useless AF’. After each of these fails, the dragons seem to grow stronger and its becoming harder to fight with them. The feeling of ‘you will not feel love again and be without a girlfriend forever’ grows bigger even though I know I’m only 22 years old and feel like being a little child complaining about nothing.

The fact that I am insecure about my appearance also doesn’t help. It became a little bit better by following the rules explained in the books (get some fitting clothes, change things up etc.), but I am still worried about the scars I have on my face as a result of the wide variety of pimples I had when I was around 16. Even now, sometimes one of them just pops up at the wrong moment, figuratively saying ‘F you, I won’t let you get near girls today.’ And ruining my self-esteem.

So yeah Doc. I feel like a whining little child (and even more so by writing you) that just exaggerates the problems. But I just feel so miserable by now after it seems like I’m unable to follow the advice given to me and I’m starting to get real tired of fighting the dragons that keep telling me I will be alone forever to the point I do not want to approach women because I’m scared of the internal aftermath that I need to keep up with.

I am really at a loss here Doc. I know you are busy and I am probably sounding like a dick, but I really do not know what to do.


The Whiny Little Child

DEAR WHINY LITTLE CHILD: Hey WLC, here’s how you can de-intimidate yourself: stop approaching women.

That is: stop treating approaching  women as being an all-or-nothing event where you have to perform everything correctly or deal with the consequences. You’re psyching yourself out by making every single interaction with women a massive event. This ain’t Wrestlemania dude; you don’t have an audience of thousands watching to see someone give your ego the Stone Cold Stunner. All you’re doing is simply starting a conversation with someone. That’s it.

That’s why you’re choking as soon as you get past the opener. Because you’re seeing this as a “if I do everything right, I get sex, if I do everything wrong, I get DOOOOOOMED” scenario, you’re triggering a fear response. If you disentangle the idea that this is a pass/fail scenario, with the future of your sex-having days on the line from simply talking to someone, it becomes much easier.

I want you to do a little mind experiment for me. Imagine if you were going to go up to your six year old cousin and say “hey”. Are you going to have the same freak-out reaction? Of course not; even if your cousin is absurdly rude to you when you say “hi”, it’s just kind of ridiculous. You aren’t intimidated by their rejection because hey, they’re a freaking six-year old. Their judgement doesn’t have impact on you.

Similarly: what if a stranger – someone who’s clearly not well – comes up and tells you that he knows, knows that you’re with the aliens who’ve been beaming messages into his brain and he wants you to  know that he knows that you know that he knows that you’re a bad man. Are you going to let that define your self worth? Same story: almost certainly not.

So what’s the difference between these interactions and the stranger at the bar? The value you put into it. You are putting far too much value into them and their opinion when their opinion is worth as much as the crazy stranger or your bratty cousin.

You need to decouple the idea of value from approaches. All you are going to do for the next… oh, let’s say 20 cold approaches, is start a conversation with attractive women. Doesn’t have to be long. Doesn’t have to be deep. Just they seem like they might have insight onto something you have a question about. Or they might have seen this weird thing happen at the bar before and what’s that all about? Oh cool, by the way, where are my manners, my name is…

That’s all you’re gonna do. Get used to having conversations. Once you do, once they’re no longer any scarier than your bratty little cousin, you’ll find it much easier to approach women with the intent of flirting and seeing if there’s the possibility of something more.

Good luck.

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