A reader writes in:
“Hey man been a LONG time since I've emailed you! But I've been keeping up with the site and I love both you and Ricardus advice just awesome all around. The one thing that has INFINITELY thrown me off about the site is the sort of serious tone.
You guys understand pickup so well its scary sometimes lol! But one thing I realized yesterday was how important a bit of playfulness and humor is in pickup.
Maybe a post on how to inject playfulness into an interaction, because that is one thing I think that has really helped supercharge my interactions in the past. The ones that I had a playful attitude about were the ones where my success was higher. Whereas when I had this "I'm coming to pick you up" vibe it kind of scared some girls off because they weren't used to that level of directness but I believe if I had that playful side I could have saved the interaction.”
He raises a good point.
I've actually stayed away from talking about how to be playful on here for a long time because being playful is one of those things most guys who are new to learning about getting girls place way too much focus on and overdo.
If you've been through this site, you know there's a strong emphasis here on actively avoiding trying to get yourself making girls laugh all the time and on showing why fun is overrated for making headway with the women you like.
And all this might lead you to believe you ought to be Mister Serious in all of your interactions with women.
But if THAT's the impression you've got, then we've got a little reconditioning to do.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
You probably know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears,
right? Pretty common childhood story for most people in the West.
Just in case you don't though, it's the story of a little girl with golden locks who walks into an empty house one day (the house of three bears, unbeknownst to her) and tries a big bowl of porridge, a middle bowl of porridge, and a small bowl of porridge, all set out on a table, and breaks a chair by accident after trying the other two, and falls asleep in a bed after trying the other two. A theme of the story though is her search for the bowl, the chair, and the bed that is just right.
Learning how to be playful needs to have a strong vein of this search for what is "just right," otherwise you can very much overdo it.
Playfulness is incredibly attractive to women when done right.
Yet, it's also incredibly annoying and off-putting to women when guys go overboard with it, and it can create far too much tension when guys don't employ it at all.
So, you can think of the three phases of playfulness like this:
- Annoying, entertainer guy (too much)
- Weird, tension-creating guy (too little)
- Attractive, comfortable guy (just right)
Because, you see, playfulness serves a function of alleviating tension and is an attractive quality... so long as it isn't used too much.
It's getting to that "just right" place that most guys struggle with, though.
When I was first teaching myself how to pick up girls, I stayed away from the local meetings of guys learning the stuff because there was a problem I noticed in them, and the biggest problem was this:
Most of them were TOO playful, or NOT ENOUGH.
So you'd end up with this odd mixture of guys: a big chunk of the guys were these joke-cracking rib-nudging funnymen, while a smaller chunk of guys sat around creating spheres of uncomfortable tension around them that people tried to get away from. It was bizarre.
I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was at the time - I just knew that these weren't guys I wanted to learn from or spend too much time around when I was learning and impressionable (you become like the people you spend your time with). So, I went out on my own in the wilderness (allegorically-speaking), until I started meeting guys who were naturally extremely good with women whom I could learn from.
But these days it's easy to pinpoint: these guys were cracking too many jokes, and at the wrong times. OR, they weren't cracking any AT ALL.
And this misfiring playfulness killed their coolness, their attractiveness, and their social desirability.
It turned them into those kinds of guys everyone else ends up looking out of the side of their eyes at in the party and saying, "What's that guy's deal?"
And I'm not certain any of them even knew it.
Timing: It's Everything
When I was in 7th grade and I decided to start developing a sense of humor (formerly, I didn't have one), I spent a lot of time watching David Letterman's The Late Show, as well as the then-funny MadTV (they still have a few skits that have stood the test of time... most of them no longer seem quite so witty, though. Humor changes fast as the times change).
I was studying the kind of humor that worked best, the timing it was employed with, and who it was used on. Within a year, I was able to deftly crack jokes in the middle of class that both the teachers and my classmates loved. I had sharp, witty lines for every occasion when guys and girls would come to talk to me. And I focused heavily on timing, because I knew it was an important element in being both funny AND cool.
You see, there's two kinds of funny:
Cool Funny, and
... and the two are as separate from one another as night and day.
"Cool Funny" is the kind of funny you get when a really cool guy says or does witty or amusing things. You know, that guy that steams coolness off of him and girls like and guys want to hang out with, and sometimes he just drops a line that people crack up at BUT YOU DON'T SEE HIM AS A COMEDIAN. He's just a cool guy with a good sense of humor.
"Clown Funny" is the kind of funny you get when an otherwise ordinary guy says or does witty or amusing things, and you can tell he's doing them a lot and you can tell he's trying to be funny.
One is natural, the other is not.
One seems effortless, the other does not.
Are you picking up on the difference here?
The man who respects them interjects wittiness and fun only when it is easy and effortless to do so, and his timing is impeccable.
The man who does not respect them forces his humor in willy-nilly, and as fun as it is, it shows you he is not so cool, not so desirable, and not so attractive to women.
Playfulness Women REALLY Like
As I first talked about with you in "Reactions from Women, or Result with Women?," a lot of guys get fooled by women's reactions into thinking they're doing things that are attractive... when they're not.
"She's laughing - that means I'm getting somewhere with her!" they think excitedly.
"She's spending time with me - she must like me!"
But women laugh at a lot of things they have no interest in going to bed with, and they spend time with a lot of people they'll never take as lovers.
Most guys miscalibrate by focusing on the wrong things.
If you want to know if she's into you, here are the questions to answer:
- Does she move with you when you tell her to move with you?
- Does she agree to meet up with you when you text her for a date?
- Does she come home with you when you invite her home?
- Does she take you as her lover?
If what you're doing is actually working, the answer to these will be "YES."
If it ISN'T, the answer is "NO."
And it's as simple as that.
Focusing on laughter, flirting, that sort of thing is training yourself the wrong way. Why? Because there are women who will flirt like CRAZY with guys they'd never go to bed with, and there are women who won't show it at ALL with guys they'd sleep with in a heartbeat.
Yes, you may well have passed up girls who would've done anything to have you as their lovers simply because you didn't move things forward with them, and you may well have spent weeks or months or more chasing after women who weren't remotely interested in you simply because they flirted with you because that's just what they do.
How's THAT for a wake up call?
What kind of playfulness do women actually like, then?
You'll notice it isn't just "teasing girls" or "flirting with girls;" it's teasing girls effortlessly; it's flirting with girls effortlessly. It's touching girls correctly and attractively.
When you do it wrong, it's off-putting and pushes women away (or you into the friend zone).
But when you do it right... it's a sight to behold.
How to Be Playful... Effortlessly
Now of course, this won't actually be effortless when you're learning it. As we discuss in those posts linked to earlier on the Law and on sprezzatura, it isn't actual effortlessness that we're going for here - if women were actually most attracted to the most effortless men, guys at home in bed would be through the roof in hotness.
They're not, of course.
What women are attracted to, rather, is maximum apparent result with minimum apparent effort.
Basically, if one guy seems to be chilling out not doing much but women are around him and appear entranced by him, and another guy is around women who seem kind of interested but he's doing a lot of obvious work talking and laughing and joke-cracking to keep them that way, the first guy wins. Maximum apparent result, minimum apparent effort.
You need to have this in mind as you employ playfulness.
You need to be playful with women... but it needs to seem natural and effortless.
Natural and effortless... ground that into your skull. Too many guys focus on the thing itself, without focusing on how it's presented. But presentation is everything.
And here are the keys to yours - how to be playful in a way that women really respond to:
#1) Have an Audience of One: HER
A lot of guys starting off learning humor as a "power of the crowd" thing. They think, "I've got to get everyone laughing. Then they'll all like me - and so will SHE!" So they make a joke - and make sure everyone here's it.
"Wow, look at those eyes!" a guy might say loudly to the group, pointing at the girl he likes. "You must be drunk already!"
Everyone laughs... and the girl feels embarrassed and insulted.
Instead, the guy who actually GETS it does this: he leans into her, when no one else is paying attention, all of them absorbed in their own conversations, and he whispers, "So you've got this kind of quiet-sage-looking-over-the-crowd thing going on... what's the story with that?"
And she laughs, and he laughs a little with her, and she starts telling him about herself or what she's feeling.
#2) Build Her Up; Don't Tear Her
Another glaring difference you might note between those two examples in #1 was the first guy tearing the girl down - "Look at those eyes! You must be drunk!" with the second guy building her up - telling her she looks like a sage.
Most guys do #1. Girls do NOT respond to this.
You see, it's easy to
be funny being critical of
someone - it's one of the easiest ways to crack jokes: doing so at
People just don't like it much, is all.
What's far more challenging, but far more EFFECTIVE, is creating "inside humor" - humor that build her up, or builds the two of you up, without offering anyone up to the sacrificial alter of humor.
But that isn't all - you see, truly strong guys, the alpha males of the group, don't tear people down because they're far more interested in building allies than enemies. They know that the more you tear others down, the more THEY wan to tear YOU down... and it's only a matter of time before they do. So instead, truly strong guys take care of the people in their group - and women can recognize guys that know how to do this - they're the guys who are free from cynical, critical humor, and only use build-them-up-style humor instead.
#3) Get to Know Her - Don't Just
Be a Comedian
Socially talented men employ playfulness for exactly TWO reasons:
- Breaking the ice, and
- Reducing tension
... that's it.
Playfulness only serves those two functions. They're two sides of the
same coin, really - the "ice" that you break is really just the tension
that comes before initiating a conversation where no one really knows
what to say yet to do that.
Now, breaking the ice is pretty straightforward - you know when to use that (whenever you're resuming a conversation with her or starting it for the first time), but how do you know when to reduce tension? That one's a little harder to get a handle on, and probably warrants a post in its own right (I see a "Breaking the Ice and Reducing Tension" post coming up at some point), but go by this rule of thumb for now: any time a conversation starts feeling too "heavy," some tension needs to be defrayed (or, you need to escalate things to the next step - don't get so obsessed with being playful that you forget to keep things moving forward!).
I can always tell a guy's mastered pick up these days when I watch him in an interaction and see him tease a girl very warmly, just the two of them, and she's laughing and he is and then he completely flips it and starts having her tell him about herself again. Anytime you see that, you're watching a man who's got the conversational element of a seduction down cold.
And to the GIRL, this just feels like she's in an AMAZING conversation with a man who knows EXACTLY how to make her feel the way she wants to feel. It's heaven. So fun... so comfortable... and so exciting.
#4) Toss in Some Pauses and Stares
We talked about pregnant pauses sometime back. What's really fun (and somewhat counterintuitive) is running through a process like this:
- Tension is rising in the conversation
- You make sure you're positioned with your face close to hers
- You defray some of that tension with playfulness
- You then STOP... and just hold eye contact with her, and let the tension ramp right back up as the two of you sit there in silence staring into each others' eyes
This is the point where most guys are going to go for the first kiss, but I'd suggest you NOT do this the first time you take a girl here. Instead, create this high tension moment... hold it for a few seconds... and then, very calmly, make a cold read about her.
It might look like this:
Her: So THEN I told my friend I just can't have that dog at my place anymore. Done.
You: I bet your life's been a lot more peaceful and less messy since then.
Her: Yeah! [laughs]
[staring into each other's eyes, no one saying anything]
You: You're a very interesting girl.
Her: What do you mean?
You: I mean, you're funny, and you're charming, but I feel like there's more there that you're afraid to show. But you shouldn't be.
Now, what you follow the pause up with is INCREDIBLY important. Incredibly.
Because what you follow it up with is going to tell her if you're perfect lover material, or perfect boyfriend material.
We're already getting a little more in-depth into this than I meant to in a post on how to be playful with girls, so suffice it to say this: if you change topics and try to act like nothing happened after the pause, it defuses too much tension and she'll feel like you're NOT a guy who is accustomed to too much sexual tension, which means she's less sure about you now and will need you to work harder to prove your virility in order to get her (so you end up going through a more traditional boyfriend dating routine to get her).
But if you escalate things by making a comment about her, you communicate to her that you are totally in-tune with the emotions, and you're going to explore her even more deeply.
And thus, you take a playful comment, and use it to create emotional depth and sexual desire in this girl who'd just been telling you a story about a dog.
That's how you use playfulness. Not giving a girl a hard time about
What About Nonverbal Playful?
Before we wrap up here, here's one final topic: what's the story on nonverbal playfulness?
Well, when it comes to learning how to be playful, I'd strongly suggest you treat nonverbal here no less significantly than you would anywhere else.
Reason being, nonverbal is one of the most potent, effective ways to communicate a LOT of information as EFFORTLESSLY as possible.
And thereby, it satisfies our primary rules of playfulness right out of the gate: maximum apparent result, minimum apparent effort.
How do you use nonverbal playful?
She says something smart-alecky to you, and you give her a skeptical look and a mischievous grin and lightly push her away
You see something funny you want to call her attention to, so you give her a nudge with your elbow and motion her to look in a certain direction with a quick shift of your eyes from hers to the place and a slight nod of your head in its direction
You eye-code her during group conversations - e.g., some guy says something ridiculous, and you lock eyes with her and raise your eyebrows like, "What did that guy just say?" (she'll smile back and make some, "I KNOW!" look)
Playing with her body: this is one you can play around with quite a bit, and it's actually quite effective once you get it down right. This is things like having her sit on your lap, having her put her legs over yours, playing with her stomach. I had a friend who would always play with girls’ breasts when he'd first meet them (after they were in a good conversation and having fun and they clearly liked him); he'd start by patting the underside of their breasts, allegedly to see if they're real or not, which women have less natural resistance for (since guys who are drunk or molesters or whatever tend to just grab women's breasts inelegantly from the front or top).
Playing with her hair over her face to give her a moustache or beard if it's relevant to the conversation is another one. Lots of things like this.
- You can kick a girl (lightly) or nudge her with your knee if
you're sitting next to her and the occasion calls for it (she says or
does something silly)
All of these require some calibration, and you'll like go through some periods as you learn how to be playful where you're making yourself do things that feel a little unnatural for you and might feel a little unnatural for the girl.
But that's part of the learning process.
Go through it, get comfortable with doing things like this (maybe not the breast one, if that's not your cup of tea), and keep your focus constantly on optimizing these for yourself and making them progressively more natural and progressively more effortless. As you improve, you'll get better and better - and women will respond better and better.
And before you know it, you'll be one of those cool, sexy guys who's got his playfulness down just right. And all the girls will know it, too.