Back-to-School: Social Improvement Tips from Neil Strauss

As you settle back into the dorms and sift through syllabi while searching for drink specials from the local pub, you also should put in some time improving your social life. The fall is a great time to lay a solid foundation of dating success on campus. To provide some tips on turbocharging your dating life, we turned to Neil Strauss, author of the international bestseller The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists and founder of the Stylelife Academy.

Be Adventurous
The first thing you need to realize about improving your dating life is that some techniques may seem unusual or even a bit uncomfortable at first.

“Your goal is to understand attraction and social dynamics,” Strauss says. “Often the things we’ve been taught by our parents, teachers, and friends fail us here. And logic and attraction, unfortunately, have nothing to do with each other. Attraction is often counterintuitive. When I was learning the game, I did some embarrassing things that seemed ridiculous to me, but they actually worked.”

The key is being willing to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. If you spend all your time in the computer lab, try going to the hippest club in town. If you’re the stereotype of the frat boy party animal, take a chance on a poetry reading. And make sure you talk to people as soon as you arrive, instead of standing alone in the corner. Don’t let a few uncomfortable moments stop you from trying something new. It’s the only way you’ll learn and grow.

Be the Social Center
The second thing is that you should understand that you can improve your dating success. Many of the factors that influence your skill with women are under your control.

“Guys need to understand that looks are not as important as we think they are,” Strauss says. “Women are more attracted to status than looks. And that status is not about money or fame. It’s about a set of behaviors. For starters, it’s about being perceived as the social center of the room. And making sure you don’t come across as needy or supplicating or reaction-seeking around a woman you’re attracted to.”

Be sure to understand that being the social center of the room can have many interpretations, depending on your group of friends and the nature of the room. It doesn’t mean you have to be the drunkard dancing on the bar wearing a pitcher of beer as a hat. If it’s a quiet dinner party, then you should make sure everyone has a good time. If it’s a debate team happy hour, then you should influence the conversation and ensure there are no lulls. In short, being the social center means you strive to make sure everyone, male or female, has a good time in your presence, whatever the setting.

Be Exceptional
The third thing you should do to improve your social life is strive to be the exception. Always be interesting. If everyone other male in the bar is blabbering about fantasy football and how drunk they got last night, then you should talk to women about astrology, whether magic spells are real or psychological, or even the latest fashion displayed on Gossip Girl. Just remember to be different.

“Make yourself more interesting by learning things like handwriting analysis. You can look at her notes in class and say, ‘Oh God, you’re trouble.’ When she asks why, explain it’s because of the large loops in her letters. When she asks for more, tell her, with a smile, you’d like to tell her more, but you don’t trust large-loop people. This is just a random example, but the idea is to learn a skill, and then use that skill as a way to teach someone about themselves and, in the process, display your charming personality.”

Another key way of being the exception is probably the most counterintuitive thing you can do. Conventional wisdom instructs men to plant seeds about how well-matched they are with a woman. “You like sushi?” guys will exclaim. “So do I! That’s awesome. We should totally get sushi sometime.”

The problem with this is that every man does it. So to be the exception, you must go in the opposite direction. Instead of telling her why you would be great together, you should tell her teasingly why it would never work.

“You’re really cool, and normally I would be totally into a girl like you,” you can say. “Too bad I don’t date English majors.” Say this with a bit of a smile, so you don’t come across as rude or dismissive. Or, you could say, “My mother told me to stay away from girls like you.” The key here is that you’re the one guy in the joint who hasn’t approached her on bended knee with visions of your great life together. That makes you the exception. That makes you interesting.

Miscellaneous Tips

Finally, here are a few random tips.

    Remember to be non-reaction seeking. Approach a woman because you genuinely like to interact with people and have a good time, not because you want her number. When you approach, your goal is to start an interesting conversation, not instantly whisk her away to a romantic private island.

      Pretend that you’re hosting a party wherever you are. Your job is to interact with everyone and ensure they are having fun. This means interacting with men as well. Other guys in the area are not to be feared or showed up. Be cool to them, have fun, show them respect. And instead of being your competition, you can even enlist them in helping you get the girl.

        Don’t wait until a woman is alone to say hello. “Most guys won’t approach women if they’re with men,” Strauss says. “But most of the time, those women aren’t even dating the guys they’re with and they end up going all night without other men talking to them. Instead, approach the group and pay attention to everyone there. Respect the men and don’t ignore the friends while you attract the woman who interests you. If you win over her friends, you win her.”

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