There used to be a guy in my social circle, A*, who spent years chasing women. His goal: sleep with 40 women. One night I asked him, “Dude, why is sleeping with 40 women so damn important to you? What difference do you think it’ll make?”
He told me, “Well once I do that, I’ll know I’m attractive and desirable. Then I can be happy and confident.”
A few years later A* texted me to tell me he finally did it! I asked, “So did this change you? Are you happy now? Can nothing shake your confidence?”
He replied, “No…I think I need to sleep with 10 more women.”
A lot of guys believe that once they have a girlfriend or sleep with a certain number of women, their self-esteem will magically improve. Consequently, guys spend huge chunks of their lives searching for lines, techniques, and quick hacks that will make them more attractive.
But that’s the wrong path.
This is the male equivalent of wearing heavy makeup, a pushup bra, and high heels. It might make you more appealing but only in a temporary, superficial way. Beneath your lines, fake confidence, and strategies, you’ll still be controlled by the same insecurities.
Until you improve your mental health and heal emotional wounds, you’ll struggle to get the love and sex you deserve.
Investing in your mental health is the most effective way to become more attractive. From there, everything else will start falling into place.
Foster joy within your life
One of the most fun – and attractive – ways to improve your mental health is to increase the amount of joy you experience. Learning to fall in love with life has a magnetic power to it. Without meaning to, you’ll draw great people and opportunities to you.
Here are three of my favorite approaches…
1) Take yourself on a date. You know how you’ve spent a lot of time, energy, and money trying to delight other people? Now it’s time to invest in yourself.
The goal is simple: spend a few hours on your own, with your phone off, doing real-world stuff that makes you happy. For example:
Relax with a massage or a session in a flotation tank
Wander through a cool neighborhood and check out different shops
Go to the movies and order a huge box of popcorn
Spend the night reading a great book – I’m loving “The Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson
Eat all of your favorite foods
Go for a drive while listening to your favorite album
Play games at the nearest arcade bar (I’m a sucker for pinball and guitar hero)
Sit in a hip cafe and journal for a while
Treat yourself to a nice cigar and scotch
I know the idea of taking yourself on a date sounds strange, but try it.
Many of us have been depriving ourselves of the same compassion we give to others. When we celebrate and enjoy our own company, our lives and self-esteem become notably better (which coincidentally makes you more attractive).
2) See your friends more often and tell them a few secrets. Countless men are dying to have great guy friends but are afraid of taking initiative. Don’t be that guy. Instead, emerge as a leader in your circle by spending time with people you love and organizing engaging activities.
Shoot a quick text to one (or a few) of your friends inviting them to do something like grab a beer after work. In fact, stop reading this right now to text a few people.
If you’re feeling ambitious, organize a larger group. One fun idea: invite 5 or 10 people over, and have everyone bring their favorite six pack. Then you can do a beer tasting together. You can also invite people to a sports event, pool hall, camping or hiking trip, or have people over to play games.
If you have a group of friends you love but you don’t live close to each other, schedule a conference call. Once a month my guy friends from college and I get on the phone to shoot the shit for an hour. Sometimes we just catch up and bust each other’s balls. Other times, we help each other deal with difficulties like heartbreaks, miscarriages, and career hurdles.
Two important things to keep in mind:
First, realize that you’ll probably have to take a leadership role in your social life. This is a good thing. Not only will it position you as the most influential person in your circle, it will improve your love life. As Nick has pointed out many times, being a skilled leader is one of the most attractive qualities in a man.
Second, open up to your friends. Tell them about what you’re proud of and what you’re wrestling with. Ask questions about them, too. Many men struggle with vulnerability and connection. Opening up and being curious about the people in your life will create stronger relationships.
Not only will these steps bring you joy and security, they will also make dating easier because you’re more skilled at forming connections than most guys. I cannot overstate how attractive a vibrant social life is to women.
More on making friends here.
3) Always work to improve yourself. As a man, part of your nature is to continuously conquer things. While our focus tends towards money, strength, status, influence, and women, there’s an even greater achievement: becoming the best version of yourself.
On a simple level, this means finding great hobbies, diving into your interests, and sharpening your existing skills.
On a deeper level, this means improving how you engage with the world. You can do this by healing old wounds, learning new skills, traveling, staying open to compliments and criticisms, developing your spiritual side, sitting with discomfort, taking calculated risks, finding work you love, and giving back to your community.
Eliminate the darkness that has been quietly plaguing you
Countless men wrestle with hopelessness, isolation, desperation, and depression.
Most of us try to ignore those feelings or deny their existence. Bad idea. Doing that only gives them more power.
Instead, we need to learn to defeat our demons. Here are three techniques:
1) Develop a gratitude practice. Our minds have a habit of obsessing over what’s wrong and failing to notice what’s right. This is called the “negativity bias” and it sabotages our self-esteem by making us think we are far worse – and less attractive – than we really are.
Thankfully, we can counterbalance the negativity bias by practicing gratitude.
I suggest something simple to start. Each morning write down three things that you’re grateful for and a quick reason why. This could be both about yourself and your life.
Doing this will help shift your focus and encourage you to notice how amazing you – and your life – actually are. One of my friends said this habit felt like it was rewiring his mind. Research backs this as well.
If you’d like a slightly more involved practice, I’m a fan of the Five Minute Journal.
2) Improve your physical health. In some cases, we can defeat the demons simply by being more healthy and active. If you’re not already exercising and eating well, start small but start now.
A simple approach that will get you 80% of the way there on the diet front: quit drinking soda and other sugary drinks. Then have a smoothie for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and something healthy-ish for dinner. If you can build those couple of habits, you’ll end up healthier than most people.
As for exercise, find something you love and then begin doing it even once a week. This can be as simple as a jogging program (I really like Couch to 5K) or as involved as spin, crossfit, or yoga. More on getting in shape while having fun here.
3) Stare your demons straight in the eye. Most of us try to ignore our demons because they’re unpleasant and difficult to deal with. But ignoring parts of ourselves is never a good idea. A much better approach is to acknowledge and investigate the darkness.
In my 20’s, I was extremely insecure about money. When I finally found the courage to admit that I had an unhealthy attitude I asked myself, “Why are you so worried about money, man?”
“Well I’m afraid of running out and going into debt.” Each time I got an answer, I dug deeper by asking myself, “Why do you feel that way?”
Eventually, I got to my core fear. I realized I was afraid that I ran out of money, no one would take care of me, and I’d have to face the unbearable reality that I wasn’t worthy of love or connection.
I know that sounds extreme but many of our surface-level stressors have deep roots. By becoming curious about the thoughts and feelings that distress us, we can better understand and master them.
Note: If you’re looking for an even more effective approach to dealing with complex feelings and emotional mastery, see the PS at the bottom of this article.
Learn to defeat anxiety
Your success in life is largely governed by your ability to handle anxiety.
If you’re afraid to go up to that stunning woman and say hi, then you’ll probably never meet her. On the flipside, if you learn to approach her, strike up a fun conversation, and ask her out, you’ve unlocked a world of potential.
Here are three approaches to overcoming anxiety and making it easier to leave your comfort zone:
1) Meditation. When people envision meditation, they often think of weird hippies and spiritual poseurs. Really, meditation is a form of mental training that positively impacts your happiness, confidence, awareness, and anxiety.
Here’s a simple practice to get started:
Sit in a chair with your feet flat and your spine straight. You should feel somewhere between relaxed and alert.
Set a timer on your phone for two minutes and close your eyes.
With your eyes closed, breath in and out through your nose.
Attempt to focus on your breath. When you breathe in say, “in” in your head. When you breathe out, say, “out” in your head. When you notice your mind drifting, simply bring your attention back to your breath.
At the end of the two minutes stand up and go about your day. As you get more comfortable with meditation, you can add more time.
The goal is not to clear your head of thoughts. That’s not possible. Instead, it’s about resting your attention on a single point of focus. When you notice that your mind has drifted from whatever you’re focused on, gently bring it back.
If you’d like additional instruction on meditation and how it can improve your life, check out the app, “Waking Up“.
2) Progressive desensitization. Nick makes brilliant use of progressive desensitization in his coaching for men.
Progressive desensitization is a simple technique: slowly but steadily expose yourself to the stuff that makes you anxious. Over time, you’ll become more and more comfortable with the things that used to cause discomfort.
The trick is to start small.
If you’re nervous about striking up a conversation with a stranger, don’t worry about it. Instead start with something easier, like making brief eye contact with a waiter or bartender. Once that becomes comfortable, try saying hi.
As that becomes easier ask, “How’s your day going?” From there, consider sharing a bit about how your day has been. Keep moving the needle until you can strike up conversations with random people.
Give yourself a few days, or even a week to get comfortable with each step. If one step is too big, break it down into more manageable pieces.
When you succeed, treat yourself (I like pizza) to celebrate and reinforce good habits.
Approaching your anxiety this way will nudge you out of your comfort zone and put you on the fast track to mastering your nerves.
Note: if this approach to building confidence and mastering anxiety resonates with you, check out Nick’s and my program “Effortless Encounters”. We blend evidence based practices like progressive desentization with real-world experience to help you form amazing relationships with the women you want.
3) The deathbed exercise. I use this exercise when I’m struggling to take action on something important to me.
Close your eyes and envision you’re on your deathbed. Now imagine looking back on two versions of your life.
In the first version, fear was your master. You wanted to travel, ask your crushes out, and write a book, but you were too afraid to do any of those things.
Now, imagine a second version where you mastered your fear. This is a vivid life where you travel, go on dates with women you desire, and write books.
Compare and contrast the two possible lives.
The life defined by fear ends up muted, subdued, and under-lived. The life that masters fear is vibrant, wildly alive, and exciting.
Then remind yourself of one more thing: though we know we will die, we don’t know when or what happens next. All we know is that we’re alive now and the decisions we make in this moment have the potential to color everything.
If you’re anything like me, going through this exercise will flood you with the awareness, energy, and motivation to overcome the obstacles holding you back.
Putting it all together to improve your mental health
We’ve covered a lot in this article and I want to leave you with a few ideas:
When you think about improving your mental health, think in terms of moving a needle, not flipping a switch. Slow methodical change fosters far better results than trying to do everything all at once.
Focus on one thing at a time. Doing so will make a dramatic – and sustainable – difference in your life. Once that thing becomes natural, you can move on to a new change you want to make.
You can do all of this in environments where you’re likely to collide with women you’d be interested in. So if you’re getting friends together for happy hour, and you like women who are a bit edgier, choose a grungy dive bar. Likewise, if you’re taking yourself out on a date, and you like nerdy women, browse a used bookstore or go for a walk on a college campus. And as you work on getting your fitness together, keep in mind that dance classes and yoga studios are filled with beautiful, fun women.
I know it’s tempting to click away from this article and try to find another tip to magically boost your confidence, or search for some line that will make your crush fall head over heels for you. But both you and I know that doesn’t work.
Instead, make a meaningful investment in your inner well-being. Everything in life flows from your relationship to yourself. The more connected you are with yourself, the more attractive you will become to amazing women.
PS What if you’re really struggling with your mental health?
I spent two years in therapy. It was the best thing I ever did for myself (and my love life).
Try improving your life on your own. Read, experiment, reflect, work with Nick, etc. But if you’ve been doing this for more than a few months and you’re not making meaningful progress, I urge you to seek the help of a licensed mental health professional.
Mental health problems are almost never your fault, but they are your responsibility.
Take control of your life now and get the help you deserve. No matter how old you are, your life will be better for it.
Besides, why bother dealing with more suffering than necessary? You deserve the best life you can create and if that requires getting help, so be it. You can find detailed instructions on finding a great provider here, and you can read about my experience in therapy here.
Nick Notas is a Dating blogger who mostly focusses on men interested in dating smarter. Check out his site here https://nicknotas.com/blog