A reader recently wrote in to ask me why I thought his text conversations weren't going anywhere. He's been working really hard to get his game tightened down, and thought he was doing well... but here, again, he could feel this girl slipping away. The texting transcript he sent picks up mid-conversation:
Him: You suck with directions. Lol. Are you from the city?
Girl: haha I dont know what the streets are called1 Just know theres one down a side haha. Its by the big bungy thing, down a little street:-)
Him: haha. You suck. Need to get a gps then. Can you cook?
Girl: haha sorry:-) uhmm like simple things. and if I had instructions then yeah lol
Him: Imple things like biting your nails or fun things? I like dangerous stuff:)
Girl: haha as in easy stuff
Girl again:haha as in easy
Him: Im just finished with my engineering project. I think youll find it interesting. Are you a metal head or a classical music type like me?lol
Girl: Haha uhmm, not really... More party side.lol
Him: Im running seminars in the city next week,. We should go grab a coffee and you can come by...
Girl: I have exams and school next week.
Him: Im running it in the weekend. But your missing out! IM hungry. Make me some soup.
Girl: Um, Whats it about?
Then he replied with some brief info about his seminar, and... nothing. She never replied. It was lost. And he didn't know why. Was she just not interested? he wondered.
Actually, she sounds pretty interested early on. How'd he lose her? Well, it's a little more complicated than you might think. And, as the subject of today's post, one of the main problems it turns out is that he wasn't quite teasing this girl the right way. Because this isn't just a texting issue -- it goes deep into how you hold conversations with women in general. And if you aren't teasing women right, you may very well be costing yourself a lot of success with girls you like.
Teasing Should be Pleasing
All right, I'm guilty of a bit of a cheesy headline for this section here, but it gets the message across that I want to get across in this part of the post: namely, that teasing is supposed to be fun.
"What's with the word mix ups, are you mildly retarded?"
"I love your hair... it looks like a bunch of small animals made their nest on your head. Creative."
"You're pretty awful at thinking logically, aren't you? Maybe you should stick to emotions."
"Hey, you know what would be a really good idea? Not that one you just had."
"What kind of music do you like? I hope it's not Britney Spears."
This is how lots of guys tease girls. It's sarcasm, and indeed it can be quite funny. But, here's the thing... this kind of humor is amusing to people watching it from the outside.
It's hilarious when you watch one person on TV tell another person her hair looks like a pack of wild dogs had it out over leadership of the clan on top of her head. But to the girl who actually has someone say that to her, it's both a little funny... and a little hurtful.
Even if she laughs, it probably stings, ever so slightly. And when you hurt a girl, she closes up.
She gets cold. She begins to auto-reject. And then... you lose her.
This confused me a little at first when I was starting out. Back in 2005 and 2006, I'd get to talking to a girl, and she'd be excited, and clearly was glad to be getting to know me. And then I'd tease her a little, and she'd get even more excited. And then I'd tease her a little more, and she'd still seem happy. And then I'd tease her a little more, and then -- well, then she'd start going cold.
I'd panic. Crap, I'd better find a way to get her interest back again, I'd think to myself. Then, Ah, I've got it! I'll just tease her some more!
And then, wouldn't you know it, she'd get really cold toward me, and she'd stay that way for the rest of the time I'd know her.
At first, I reasoned I was teasing her too hard. So I scaled back my teasing. But the problem nagged me for years. I'd challenge girls less, and then I'd have a harder time attracting them. Then, I'd challenge them more again, and they'd just get pissed off.
It was maddening.
In 2007, a mentor of mine gave me a piece of advice that changed everything for me with regards to teasing:
"I listen to you tease and flirt with girls, and it's good stuff, and funny stuff -- like really witty, smart stuff," he told me. "But I almost feel like it's too much for most girls -- they're going to feel like they aren't able to compete with you. And you tease girls competitively, when you could be teasing them cooperatively. It's a small difference in how you word things -- but the difference it makes in how women respond to you is huge."
At first, I wasn't quite sure what to make of that advice. How do you tease a girl cooperatively? I wondered. I filed it away in the back of my head and figured maybe someday I'd come back to it.
Well, nowadays, I tease women cooperatively almost exclusively. Almost all the humor I use with women is about what she and I are going to be doing together, or what she's trying to do with me, and I am a more-or-less willing participant. That's probably a little hard to follow, but I'll explain it more; chase framing is one part of this that we've touched on before here.
And, the times I tease women competitively verbally, I use vocal tonality that makes it explicitly clear I'm just giving her a playful ribbing and that I'm actually warm and affectionate toward her.
The end result when you use this style of humor is, instead of building attraction while pushing women away, you build attraction and pull women in close to you.
Sound appealing? Let me show you how it's done.
Teasing a Girl... the Right Way
There are as many ways to tease women playfully as there are stars in the sky, but only a handful of ways to do it right, without offending and without pushing those women away. What I'll share with you here is what I've found to work, consistently and reliably, and what I've seen work for other guys I've known and trained.
- Put yourself on the same level. This is part of the "cooperativeness" of the teasing; you don't let a girl get cast into the tease alone. You go with her.
We can do this by rewriting the example from above:
"What's with the word mix ups, are you mildly retarded?"like so:
"What's with the word mix ups, are you just trying to confuse me and throw me off the trail?"and voila, now instead of imply that she's retarded -- and you aren't -- you're implying that she's mixing up words to try and confuse you. She's subtle and sneaky, but you're onto her. It's cooperative, fun, and most definitely not insulting.
- Avoid commenting on sensitive topics. These include physical features, style and fashion, intelligence, social skills, family, anything like that, in anything that might be remotely construed as insulting about a girl herself. Instead, comment on people at large -- and make sure you reassure the girl you don't mean her.
So, you wouldn't say to a girl:
"I love your hair... it looks like a bunch of small animals made their nest on your head. Creative."but you might say:
"I love how people dress in this city. Not you, you're fine -- you're fashionable and you look good. But I'm not sure I get the whole leggings-meet-tutus thing they've got going on here. Scary."
- Keep it critique-free. Don't like how a girl does something? That's fine -- but don't tease her about it. That's called passive-aggressiveness, and it stings. I did it plenty when I was young and angry and had a bone to pick with the world. Stay away from it and play nice -- nobody likes being told they suck.
Instead of saying:
"You're pretty awful at thinking logically, aren't you? Maybe you should stick to emotions."you might instead remark:
"Let me go see if I can find an intermediary to resolve this debate. No, I'm kidding, how about we leave the ideological wars until Date #4? I'd rather get to know you than sit here and tell you you're horrible because you like Bach and I'm a Beethoven guy."Note that when you go this route, you always want to pick some very silly topic rather than the one at hand to defuse the argument (e.g., maybe the two of you were beginning to debate politics or religion, when you disarmed this by joking about her liking Bach and you liking Beethoven... a harmless contrast, and one that can let you switch back to lighter topics with ease).
- Suggest instead of veto. This one is giant, not just for teasing, but for all forms of deciding what you're going to do or where you're going to go. For the purpose of teasing though, remember that you always want to suggest an alternative rather than veto something outright with a flat negative.
"Hey, you know what would be a really good idea? Not that one you just had."with:
"Or we could just go play skee ball. Or maybe go back to your place and put on sexy movies and... talk, or something."This is a much better response to a girl suggesting something you don't like the sound of. So, if she suggests you go hit some club and you don't feel like managing a party date, you can tease her this way instead.
- Be absurd in place of mildly against. This one's kind of fun, but basically, whenever you might otherwise suggest you don't like something, instead go over the top and let her know you really don't like something. This takes the edge off your not liking it and changes it from something awkward to something amusing. Like so:
"What kind of music do you like? I hope it's not Britney Spears."becomes:
"What kind of music do you like? If it's Britney Spears, I'm jumping out the window and landing on a samurai sword."
When you're teasing a girl the right way, you'll know it. She'll be smiling, laughing, enjoying herself, and getting warmer and warmer and closer and closer to you. Her attraction tells you your teasing is good -- and her closeness tells you she's feeling cooperated with, not competed against.
Bring women close to you and attracted with your teasing, and it becomes an extraordinarily powerful tool in your arsenal.
A pair of other notes to point out about that reader's conversation with the girl at the start of this article -- at one point, he says, "IM hungry. Make me some soup," which, as it turns out, is asking for too much investment at this point in the interaction. But that's for another post! It's also a bit choppy in flow, but again -- we'll have to get to that another time ;)
For now, happy teasing, and here's to a great upcoming weekend.