BECOME THE MAN WOMEN WANT
8th of December 2014

How To Be Attractive To Women, Pt. 10: Being Popular Matters (Social Proof)

Introduction:

Everyone knows that women are attracted to men with high social status, but what most guys don’t understand is that it’s possible to display high social status in many different ways, namely through what psychologists call “social proof.” Social proof is what people think of you, and your social proof is a key part of your ability to attract women. In this episode, Tucker and Geoff explain why social proof is important, how to raise your social proof by improving your social skills, making friends, adding value to those friendships, and how to utilize those friendships to meet women.

Podcast:


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Key takeaways:

  • Social proof is not just what a woman thinks of you, but what everybody else around you thinks of you, and that gives a huge amount of information to any given woman about all kinds of traits and social skills that you have.
  • Loners are not very attractive to women, and guys who have shitty friends or can’t make friends, that signals a lot of bad things.
  • Social proof matters to you because women are attracted to men who have high social proof, and women make mating decisions based on this, sometimes exclusively based on that information.
  • If you don’t have friends, make friends.
  • So, guys, what this means to you is you need to have friends if you don’t and you should be doing activities where you can shine. You don’t have to dominate. You don’t have to be in charge. But they should be things where you’re contributing and other members of the group recognize, acknowledge, and value your contribution.
  • It’s much easier to make friends with guys than to court women. Just put in a little bit of work.
  • Having female friends is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. If a woman isn’t attracted to you but wants to be friends, you should be happy that she wants to be friends. If you want to get used to talking to women, having female friends is a great way to do that. They can also introduce you to other women they know.
  • Small talk is important, and proves that you’re warm, safe, trustworthy, you can understand other people’s beliefs and desires and how their brains work, and you can conform to your local, social norms about how to talk. It’s social proof.
  • A good way to make friends with guys is by doing activities together. Sports, Crossfit, improv, whatever. Just do something that interests you that involves other people.
  • If you can’t make friends, it might have to do with how you interact with people. Make sure you don’t interrupt people, keep up with what they’re saying, make eye contact, listen to what they say, be humble, smile, and talk about things they care about.

Podcast Audio Transcription:

Tucker:
Alright, so in this episode of The Mating Grounds Podcast, we’re going to talk about social proof. I know it’s one of those things where you’re like, “Social proof, who cares?” It’s actually a very important episode, one of the more important ones we’re going to talk about. So, let’s start off. We’re going to teach you what social proof is, why it matters, what does it mean to you, and then how to increase it. So, Dr. Miller, why does social proof matter? Why should I, as a guy, give a shit about what women think of my friends or my social abilities or whatever?

Geoff:
Social proof is not just what a woman thinks of you, but what everybody else around you thinks of you, and that gives a huge amount of information to any given woman about all kinds of traits and social skills that you have. So, if you’re surrounded by cool, interesting friends and you laugh at their jokes, they laugh at your jokes, they’re all successful, they’re not a bunch of slackers, then a woman will think, “Wow, that is a cool guy,” even apart from your own traits. So, social proof matters because we live in a hyper-social species. Not just social. Hyper-social. We pay so much attention to everything going on around us in terms of relationships, and that carries information to women. That’s why it matters.

Tucker:
It’s an honest signal. We talked about this many, many times. Social proof is an honest signal about many things about you that women care about and find attractive. The reality is, loners are not very attractive to women, and guys who have shitty friends or can’t make friends, that signals a lot of bad things. It is not an easy thing — It’s not super hard, but it’s very hard to fake having good friends, having funny friends, being popular. In fact, right there, I think I just nailed why social proof matters the most. Especially to young girls, what’s the number one thing that young girls look for in a guy?

Geoff:
Just popularity.

Tucker:
How popular is he? In high school and college, the number one thing that will get you laid is popularity. That is the—

Geoff:
Do people know your name? Do you have friends?

Tucker:
Are you important? Are you highly revered?

Geoff:
Do people watch you when you do stuff or do they ignore you?

Tucker:
Guys, if you’ve ever wondered why athletes get laid in high school, that’s why. Social proof is the answer. Listen, the fact that they’re in shape is nice, but that’s not really that big of a deal. Plenty of guys are in shape who aren’t athletes. List all the attributes of an athlete. None of those added together matter as much as social proof. Whether it should or shouldn’t be the case, the fact is football, baseball, basketball, hockey, wrestling are revered sports. Sports are revered and those are the most popular iterations, and if you do those things, that is an honest, very difficult to fake signal to a girl that you matter socially and, and for young girls, that is the most important thing. Number one for attractiveness for young girls is social proof.

Geoff:
Think of it this way. When I go to primate research meetings, primatologist goes out in the field. They’re trying to understand a new baboon troupe they haven’t studied before, trying to figure out who’s high-status, who’s low-status. What do they pay attention to? Eye gaze. Who are all the other baboons looking at? Those are the high-status individuals. Teenage girls are the same, right? They look at who is looking at everybody else. The athletes aren’t super attractive because they’re taller. It’s because everybody else is watching them. They hold everybody’s attention. That’s popularity. That’s a massive cue of the value that those guys can offer, rightly or wrongly. That’s the cue. Gaze direction, attention, who’s the center of social focus.

Tucker:
Right. Also, another reason, women select guys that are popular, that have a lot of social proof, but also, women tend to copy other women. So, that’s another thing why social proof matters. Ask any married guy. I know so many guys who were not – they weren’t totally unsuccessful, but not very good with women, and they got married and they put that ring on their finger, and they were like, “Dude, I had no idea. I wish I’d put a ring on my finger when I was single because I have an endless supply now of women coming up to me hitting on me.” You learn these things as you get out of college and you get into young professional and you realize, “Oh, wow, this is totally different than college,” and everything changes. And you realize that this isn’t a myth. It’s actually very true. My thought was, “Oh, these must be a bunch of broken whores who just want to have one-night stands with married guys.” And that’s true for maybe anywhere from 25-50%, right? But, it’s not true for all of them. What’s actually going on is that women are very attracted to the fact that this ring means that at least one other woman found this guy attractive enough to marry. So, her immediate thought is this guy must have something going on with him if some woman is marrying him.

Geoff:
Yeah. We even call it the wedding ring effect in science, right? It’s pretty well documented. This mate choice copying, where females will tend to choose other males that have already been chosen by other females, it goes all the way down to guppies, even insects. This does not require a lot of sophistication. It just requires a female to go, “Oh, I have limited information about which guys are excellent. Other females have other information. By combining their information with mine, I can make better choices.”

Tucker:
Right. So, it’s very unconscious, but it’s very real, and it’s very important. So, to summarize, social proof matters to you because women are attracted to men who have high social proof, and women make mating decisions based on this, sometimes exclusively based on that information. Guys, I can’t tell you how many times – this has happened multiple times, actually – where I’ll go to a book-signing or some event or even just out at a bar and some girl in a group of girls will recognize me, and she’ll be like, “Oh, my god, I love your books,” whatever. Maybe even the rest of her friends don’t have any fucking idea who I am, or maybe none of the girls know who I am but they’ll see guys who are coming over getting pictures. This has actually happened. In fact, this just happened a year and a half ago, right before I met my girlfriend. I was in New York, sitting at a bar with a friend of mine, and two different sets of guys – one waiter who worked at the restaurant and then just some random other people – came over and got pictures, and these really hot girls at the other end of the bar kept staring and they eventually came down. They asked the bartender and the bartender was like, “Yeah, he’s famous.” And they came down and started talking to me and my friend. They had no fucking idea who I was, never heard of me. I could’ve been Malcolm Gladwell. They didn’t fucking know. They didn’t care. I remember, when I walked in, I thought those girls were hot and I kind of looked over at her and I saw her. She looked at me and then looked away and didn’t look back. No big deal. I didn’t care, ‘cause I think I had another girl lined up that night. She went from not caring about me to coming over and initiating contact because she was like, “Why are people getting pictures with this guy?” That’s one of those things where I was like you don’t really realize how important it is until something like that happens.

Geoff:
And guys, bear in mind, this is not irrational. This is not women being superficial. This is women paying attention to the information about you that they can get from their environment, and if a bunch of other people are showing deference and respect and fascination with you in public, that is gold. That’s so much information. Now, I’ve never had Tucker’s fame, but I remember the first time a grad student came up to me and went, “Oh, my god, are you the Geoffrey Miller?” Which is absurd. “There are many of them. Do you refer to the general who was indicted in the Abu Ghraib torture scandals? The NYU law professor who’s really pissed off that I worked at NYU last year?” Then, the fascinating thing was not just her reaction, but all the other women within earshot, swiveling their heads going, “Oh, valuable information is being radiated here. I need to pay attention to this.” That’s social proof.

Tucker:
I’ve hooked up with dozens of girls, not because they knew who I was but because they saw other people knew who I was. Either their friends knew – there’s a little bit of a different dynamic, but some girl will be a huge fan of mine and see me at a bar and then she’s like, “I don’t want to hook up with Tucker Max,” and the other girl’s like, “This guy’s famous? Alright,” and then basically wants to fuck me or does fuck me. It’s a little more complicated, but that’s basically the way it breaks down. Same thing. Which actually brings up a really good point. We’re going to get into this at the end of the podcast. We’re going to talk about how to increase social proof, but what does that mean to guys? If you’re a guy, you get it; you’re into it, what does this mean? You actually brought up a great point. You just said, “I’m not as famous as Tucker, but in my niche, I’m famous.” Actually, in academia, you’re super famous and very high-status. So, in your niche, even though no one outside of academia gives a fuck about you, you have met and hooked up with a ton of women because you are very high-status in a tiny niche, right? So, what’s the lesson from that?

Geoff:
One is use your niche. Figure out where you’re famous, even locally, and hang out there with people who know you and respect you. For academics, it might be don’t just stay in your office. Go to conferences where people have read your paper and know you. If you’re famous for whatever…

Tucker:
We don’t have to make this about fame, though. Fame is almost its own podcast, because true fame, in a sense, is a very weird, difficult thing. So, we’ll probably do a podcast about fame and celebrity. This is social proof, which is not the exact same thing. They operate similarly, but they’re not the exact same thing. 99.9% of guys listening to this podcast will never be famous, but they can be what you are, which is very well-known in a niche. That basically acts as fame. So, let’s get more to the meta-lesson. What does this mean to guys? What this means is you need to have as much social proof as you can because there are few things that women, especially young women – if you are a young guy, if you’re under 25, social proof is incredibly important. Over-25, it becomes less important or there’s other things you can do that can make up for it, but for a young guy dating young girls, there’s almost nothing more important than social proof, right? What does that mean? Let’s talk about this for a second. The lesson to draw from your example is being well-known in any niche is better than being not known at all. So, being well-known in a small niche. If you’re really good at something, anything, you’re a great skateboarder, hang out with girls who like skateboarders. Let’s extrapolate that lesson, ‘cause I hear this a lot. This is a big mistake that I think a lot of dating/seduction advice makes, is they think everything about social proof and about dating is being a dominant alpha male. First off, most of the way they define alpha male is wrong, but that’s a different discussion. But does having high social proof mean you have to be a dominant alpha male? Does that mean I have to be in charge and the big dog in every room or not?

Geoff:
No. It just means people know you, like you, respect you, get along with you. It can even be something as simple as you’re the protégé of a respectable mentor. It doesn’t mean you’re always the alpha or the mentor. If you simply have a high status guy who’s taken you under his wing, you don’t have to try to dominate him. The woman will notice. She’ll go, “Oh, somebody else sees potential.”

Tucker:
“He’s a grad student of Geoffrey Miller, he must be great.”

Geoff:
Right. And when I was in grad school and nobody knew me and I just name-dropped my PhD advisor, Roger Sheppard, who nobody’s heard of except he’s a super famous cognitive psychologist. Then, women would be like, “Oh, that’s cool. I’ve heard of him.” You get the reflected glory, the respect that he’s chosen you as a protégé. Or just hanging out with your friends. If your friends look cool and you’re interacting positively with them, you don’t have to try to dominate them and lead them. Just the fact that you’re surrounded by people rather than ostracized in the corner by yourself, that’s social proof.

Tucker:
Right. So, guys, what this means to you is you need to have friends if you don’t and you should be doing activities where you can shine. You don’t have to dominate. You don’t have to be in charge. But they should be things where you’re contributing and other members of the group recognize, acknowledge, and value your contribution. And it can be literally anything. That’s one of the cool things. The reason women care about social proof is – and correct me if I get anything wrong here, Dr. Miller – the reason women care about social proof is because we evolved in very hyper-social, very small groups and social proof is one of the most important indicators of fitness and overall set of traits about you. What other people thought about you, a woman could almost substitute for her own judgment and could very accurately judge your overall attraction or your mate value.

Geoff:
And part of that’s just about being known to people. It’s as simple as take a girl to a coffee shop and you know the barista’s name and she knows yours. That’s social proof. It doesn’t have to be like, “Oh, yeah, I used to date the barista and the barista’s super hot.” It’s just you’re friendly and other people know and kind of trust you.

Tucker:
It makes you safe, immediately. We’ve talked about this over and over. You’re immediately safe if you have friends. Psychopaths, sociopaths, murderers, rapists don’t have friends most of the time. Maybe some certain frat guys, but…I’m kidding. But people who have shitty, psychological profiles and social lives don’t have friends. That’s a bad sign. Good people have friends, generally speaking, of course. I can’t tell you how many times…there’s probably six or seven restaurants in Austin I go to all the time, to the point where I literally know the valet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled up there with girls and get out of the car, bullshit with the valet, talk to him for a second, and the girl will look at me like, “You know the valet? How do you know him? Is he your cousin?” I’m like, “No. I just come here a lot. I talk to him. We’re friends.” That’s one of those weird things that…I didn’t make friends with the valet to try and impress women, but I have been, my whole life, cognizant of social proof and being friendly to people, making friends, making allies only helps you. It never hurts you with mating. No girl is ever like, “Man, I kind of want to like this guy, but he has so many friends and that’s a bad sign.” No. What girls will say or think is weird is, “Why doesn’t he have any friends?” That’s always weird, if a dude doesn’t have friends. Here’s a great example. We’ve talked multiple times and we’re going to talk more about this. It’s a huge pain in the ass to go out and meet women at bars. There’s many other, better ways to meet women. In fact, we’re going to talk about this later in this podcast. But if you’re going to go out to meet women in bars – which, listen, I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I’m just saying it’s hard – try it going out alone vs. going out in a group of friends and see which one’s easier. It’s about 100 times easier if you have at least one dude with you, because if you don’t, you’re what’s known as the creepy dude alone at a bar. You can’t even find someone to come with you to a bar? Have you ever seen someone eating alone at a restaurant or going to a movie alone? Of course you have. Guys, think about this. Don’t you think, “What the fuck is wrong with that person? Why are they alone at a restaurant? That’s super weird,” right? That’s what girls think if you’re alone in a place where you should be social. If you’re alone at the gym, that’s normal.

Geoff:
And this is not even about your guys being wingmen or running interference or any bullshit like that. It’s not that they have to serve a specific mating function in your little mating strategy. It’s just you’re with people and, therefore, that’s social proof and it’s reassuring to women and it’s safe and you’re not a psychopath or alone or an introvert. It doesn’t even matter that much what your friends look like. It’s just better to have them. We’re a tribal species.

Tucker:
But of course, the cooler they are, the better.

Geoff:
And here’s a crucial thing. Guys, remember, it is so much easier to make friends with guys than to court women. So much easier. If you actually are conscious about it and you’re like, “There’s this cool guy at work. I wonder if we can be friends. Will I succeed in making friends with him?” Yeah. Just put in a tiny, tiny bit of effort.

Tucker:
“Hey, dude, you want to go grab a beer?”

Geoff:
Yeah. It takes, like, 5% as much effort to make friends with a guy as to court a woman and get her into bed. Guys are easy.

Tucker:
And simple, for the most part.

Geoff:
And simple. Yeah. Buy them a drink and talk to them and listen and it’s not just a way of practicing your verbal courtship with women. It’s actually a really high-leverage, really efficient strategy for developing social proof.

Tucker:
And every friend you have has friends, and those friends might be women, and those women might like you. Which brings us to the next point. What is another thing this means for guys? Having female friends is not a bad thing. There’s so many guys who are like, “I don’t want to get in the friend zone.” We’re going to have to do a fucking podcast on the friend zone with all these fucking dudes asking so many questions about this. Most guys’ frustration is, “I got friend zoned by a girl I want to fuck.” Basically, you aren’t attractive to her. That’s the problem. We’ll get to that in detail in the friend zone podcast. But look, having female friends is not a bad thing, okay? Having female friends is social proof to women that other women like you. So, listen, if you can meet a really hot girl who likes you as a person and doesn’t want to fuck you, it’s not the end of the fucking world. Yes, of course you want to fuck her and she doesn’t want to fuck you. Okay. Fine. Let it go. There are women who don’t want to fuck me, right? It’s happened to all of us, probably more than you’d realize. So, she doesn’t want to fuck you. If she’s cool and you like her and she likes you, hang out with her, because she’s going to have friends. She’ll introduce you to friends or you can go places and you can meet women, and if you meet women with a woman, you are always ten times more attractive to that new woman because you are safer, immediately, because you’re with a woman. And you’re cooler because some other woman – even if she’s not fucking you – another woman likes this guy, which makes you infinitely better than all these other dudes out there who can’t get women to talk to them.

Geoff:
It’s just like the wedding ring effect, in a way. So, don’t think of it as, “She’s rejecting me as a lover.” Think of it as, “This is exciting. She’s accepting me as a friend.” That’s valuable. You can do the same thing with ex-girlfriends, even. If you can stay on good terms with them…

Tucker:
That’s a minefield, dude.

Geoff:
I know it’s a minefield, but it is actually reassuring if you’re still on good terms with at least some of your ex-girlfriends.

Tucker:
We’re going to go over this a lot in another podcast, talk about women, but I think we’ve talked about this before. The one thing you’re right about there is the way you talk about your ex-girlfriends to new girls will tell your girls what you think about women overall. That’s a good point and that does kind of tie in to social proof. A lot of these things overlap, guys, so there aren’t clear lines between these things. That’s absolutely true. I recommend for most guys, until you get to be very emotionally intelligent, don’t try to play the ex-girlfriend as friends. That’s a fucking minefield. Here’s the thing to be careful. If you meet a girl – let’s say you start doing Cross fit and you meet this cool, hot girl and you want to fuck her. You’re into her. She’s not into you. No big deal. But she likes hanging out with you and you like hanging out with her. Alright. Let’s go out drinking. Whatever. First off, let your sexual shit go if she’s not fucking you. Just let it go. And I don’t want to say use her to meet girls, but that can be a part of your relationship that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. PS, if she’s a very needy, awful person who uses you for emotional support and gives you nothing back, that’s not a friend. That’s just someone using you. So, let’s say a young guy is listening to the podcast. “I get why social proof matters. I buy it. I get what that means for me. How do I increase my social proof?” There’s probably about twenty things we can go through really easily that will increase social proof. What are some of the first things off the top of your head?

Geoff:
Well, just look around in the social environments you’re already in, your classrooms, your workplaces. Ask yourself, are there guys here I could make friends with and make just a little effort? Are there women here I could make friends with, even if I don’t want to have sex with them? There are always women around you where, yeah, maybe she’s not hot to you, but maybe she’s really well-connected or maybe she’s really articulate and insightful. You can learn so much more about women from female friends often than from girlfriends.

Tucker:
You just made a fantastic point. What do you do with women around you who like you, but you’re not into? We have a lot of different guys listening to this podcast. Some are really good with women and just want tips at the margins. Some literally can’t get women to talk to them, and then everything in between. So, it’s hard for us because a lot of different advice applies to different guys. So, if you’re one of those guys who has girls around you that you’re not into, that’s almost the opposite of what we just got done talking about: a hot girl that doesn’t want to fuck you. What if you’re attractive and the ugly girl you don’t want to fuck – maybe she’s not ugly. Maybe you’re just not into her, right? Alright. What do you do then? You do the same fucking thing, I think. I think you do the exact same thing. If you like her and you like hanging out with her – and listen, don’t pretend to like someone just to meet their friends or something. That’s a little lame. But there’s no reason not to be like, “I really like this girl. She’s fun to hang out with. She’s cool. She likes football. We’ll get beers,” and say…There’s no reason not to help each other. “What kind of guys do you like, Jennifer? Oh, I’ve got two friends who are like that. I’ll bring one of them out. Do you have any tall, blonde girls?” “Yeah. Of course, my friend is a nursing student ” “Bring her out.” That is not just accepted. One of the best ways to meet people is through other people. That’s how most people meet people that they end up dating, is they have some mutual connection. So, the more friends you make, not only does it make you attractive to other women that you have a large group of friends. It connects you to a ton of people who can connect you to women.

Geoff:
And there’s something specific about non-sexual female friends that’s a huge value, which is that when you hear them talk to you about their exes or their boyfriends or other men they’re interested in, you’ll get a lot of insight into how women think about guys and what they want, what puzzles them about guys. They’ll share things with you that a girlfriend won’t share with you.

Tucker:
And you can ask them your own questions. “What am I doing wrong with this girl?” And she’ll be like, “Oh, it’s obvious. You’re wearing Crocs to a date, you fucking loser.” Or, “Why don’t you shower before you meet her out?” “You need to do this for her.” Whatever. Some basic thing like that. My whole life, actually, I’ve always had at least one or two really good female friends that either…I was about to say, either they weren’t into me or I wasn’t into them, but now that I think about it, I wasn’t into them sexually. It doesn’t work. If I want to fuck them and she doesn’t want to fuck me, that drives me nuts. Either I fuck her or I have to get away from her because it drives me nuts. Listen, overall, guys, it’s not easy to emotionally manage the situation where you’re pining for a girl and she doesn’t want it. That’s difficult to manage. Some guys can do it. I can’t manage it, ‘cause I have to either fuck the girl – if she doesn’t want to fuck me, quite honestly, it’s probably too much of a blow against my ego for me to deal with long-term. Or, I just end up fucking her. She gets to know me for two weeks and is like, “I guess I’ll sleep with him anyway.” It’s much easier for me and, I think, for most guys to have platonic friendships if you don’t care about hooking up with a girl. If she doesn’t care back, that’s fine. A lot of girls in the reverse situation can manage that, though. If they want to hook up with a guy and the guy doesn’t want to hook up with them, they don’t have a problem emotionally managing – some do, but anyway. My whole life, I’ve always had – in fact, if I were to list my ten best friends, six or seven, I think, would be women. In the top three, two, I think, would be women. And that’s not counting girls I date, which you put in the list. I’m talking friends. Just friends.

Geoff:
Just to break this down, a key think here is guys, don’t ignore women just because you’re not sexually attracted to them.

Tucker:
My point is, those girls have gotten me laid so many times.

Geoff:
Yeah. For example, if you are used to hanging out with female friends and talking with them and understanding them, you’ll lose your fear of approaching women in general pretty quickly. If you just get comfortable with women as friends, they’ll stop scaring you as potential lovers.

Tucker:
You want to get used to talking to women? Have female friends. You want to get used to making good, effective jokes around women? Practice on women you aren’t fucking. You want to look more attractive to women? Have women around you. Dr. Miller, how many studies are there where you’ll take a picture of a lone guy and the same picture of the guy with photoshopped women around him and the women will rate the picture with the women around six times more attractive or something like that, right?

Geoff:
Yeah. Look at every movie poster. The hero on the movie poster always has some woman clinging onto him. Is that because Hollywood studios want to promote patriarchy and sexism? No. It’s because the woman makes the hero look cool.

Tucker:
To women!

Geoff:
To women.

Tucker:
Yes. And men, but mostly to women. Right. That’s the thing. So, we talked about how having female friends, on one side or the other, increases social proof. I think, just make friends overall, is the big thing. In fact, I think the best example of this, a lot of times it’s hard for people to understand in human context. So, in baboon troops, there’s two ways to get girls, basically, to have sex with women. Either you are the huge, dominant alpha male and you basically fight other men off and you physically dominate the top-ranking women. The other way is you do a ton of grooming, which is considered high-value in baboon troops, is grooming. So, you groom a bunch and you create a bunch of alliances and you create friends with all the women and men, and then you can dominate. There are baboons – baboons dominate either physically or socially. You don’t have to only be physically. In fact, it’s very easy to dominate socially as humans, much easier than a baboon troop. Creating alliances, having friends, being valuable to people is a great way to be attractive. It’s so fucking easy. All you have to do is be nice to people, hang out, make friends. It’s not that hard.

Geoff:
And how do humans groom each other? We talk. Oxford Psychology prof, Robin Dunbar, made this point twenty years ago. We don’t have time to go around individually and pick nits and lice off of everybody else’s fur the way baboons do. So, we have a more efficient way to kind of groom each other verbally, which is we talk and we can talk in groups, which is kind of like grooming a bunch of people at the same time. So, think of it as verbal grooming. Don’t think of it as, “Oh, small talk is beneath me.”

Tucker:
Hold on. Let’s talk about that for a second. I want to do a whole podcast on this. We’re going to do multiple podcasts on conversation, but let’s just hit small talk really quick. A lot of dudes are like, “I hate making small talk. It’s worthless. It’s stupid.” It’s the opposite of all of that. Explain why to these guys.

Geoff:
It’s so important ‘cause you’re basically giving proof that you’re warm, you’re safe, you’re trustworthy, you can understand other people’s beliefs and desires and how their brains work and you can conform to your local, social norms about how to talk.

Tucker:
Exactly. It’s social proof. It’s honest signals of, like, six different things, but mainly social. Social intelligence and emotional intelligence, right?

Geoff:
Yeah. Who can’t make small talk?

Tucker:
Psychopaths.

Geoff:
Psychopaths, guys with low IQ…

Tucker:
Schizophrenics. Idiots. Narcissists.

Geoff:
Right. Schizophrenics. Autistic guys.

Tucker:
Broken guys, basically. Unattractive guys. Men who are unattractive generally don’t make it. Listen. If you’re LeBron James, you don’t have to make small talk because you’re LeBron James. None of us are. We have to make small talk. The way I always explain it to guys is I’m like, “Look, when dogs greet each other, what do they do?” “They sniff each other’s asses.” Okay, why do they do that? Because they get information about the other dog from their smell. That’s an honest signal. That’s how they evaluate each other. Every dog, when they meet another dog, the first thing they want to do is sniff their fucking ass. It makes humans feel weird because we have weird things about assholes. For dogs, it’s totally natural. They all do it. They circle each other, sniff each other’s ass, and then they know exactly what’s going on with the other one, right? Small talk is the human equivalent of sniffing each other’s asses for dogs. It’s super important. You might not like it, but it tells the other person a huge amount of information about you.

Geoff:
Yeah. A really general point throughout our whole Mating Grounds podcast and site and the Mate Book is going to be there’s a hidden logic to a lot of what we do that is easy to disdain and to think that’s stupid if you take a super rational approach. But there’s always hidden information in human behavior that’s super important to women. If you see people doing stuff and you don’t understand it and you think, “Oh, that’s beneath me. That’s stupid.” Hold on. Do a little more research. Find out and ask yourself what information is being conveyed here. Not verbal information. Unconscious, trait information about who is this person? What do they offer? Why do other people value him or her?

Tucker:
We’ve talked about this in multiple podcasts. We talked about it in how women see you, how women interpret their interaction with you. The main components of attraction are unconscious, automatic. Social proof is a huge part of that. So, how do I make friends? Believe me, this is a big question a lot of our listeners have. As a guy, how do I make friends? “I’ve got my video game friends or whatever, but how do I make friends if I’m a guy?” To me, there’s one obvious answer. What do you think? What are the things you’d tell guys?

Geoff:
For me, a lot of my friends come from working together and doing a shared activity together that’s goal-directed. Guys are a little uncomfortable. If you go up to a guy and go, “Will you be my friend? I think you’re interesting” That comes across as weird or you’re gay. But if you go, “Hey, dude, I’m doing this project. I need to fix the air filter in my car. Will you help me?” Or, my best friend, Peter Todd, who’s an Indiana University professor – we’ve been friends for almost thirty years – why? Because we published our first ten papers together. We literally worked on a shared project and got to know each other through a goal-directed, joint activity. That’s how human males tend to make friends. “Hey. Let’s go hunting together. Let’s go kill that mammoth together.”

Tucker:
“Let’s go grab a beer and watch football.”

Geoff:
Right. Or even something more passive, like if you’re on a sports team. You’ll kind of automatically start bonding with those guys.

Tucker:
Not kind of. You will.

Geoff:
If you’re in a platoon in a firefight, you’ll never be as close to any guys in the future as you are with your war buddies.

Tucker:
Or maybe women, in some cases. Everyone I know in the military is like, “Yeah. The guys in the units that I fought with, those are some of the closest if not the closest people to me on earth.” I think you nailed it. The way that men make friends is by goal-directed action. Joint, goal-directed action. So, what does that mean for you as a young guy, if you want to make friends? Join fucking groups that are doing shit that you like, okay? Listen, I promise, I don’t own stock in Crossfit, but I keep recommending it because it’s so obvious and easy. It kills three birds with one stone. You get in shape, you’re going to meet girls, and you’re going to make male friends. Go to improv classes. It kills three birds with one stone. It teaches you how to be funny and how to speak – actually, four birds – introduces you to women, bonds you with guys. It introduces you to men and women you can become friends with, right? Honestly, if you like distance running, go join a fucking running club. If you like picking up trash on highways, I don’t give a shit. It really doesn’t fucking matter. But if you are sitting home alone or if you have the same circle of loser friends and you never go out or you do go out and the same shit happens over and over and over, you basically come home with your dicks in your hands, you need to make more friends. You don’t have to fucking dump your old friends. I don’t care. Go out and do something, man. Pussy doesn’t come to you. You’ve got to go find it. Women aren’t going to seek you out. You’ve got to go to them, show them that you’re attractive, interact with them, treat them as people, etc., and they’ll be like, ”Oh, I like this guy.” Unless, obviously, you’re getting hookers, then you don’t need this podcast.

Geoff:
Yeah. A lot of guys neglect this. A lot of guys ruminate about women, “How do I get women?” But guys will spend almost no effort thinking, “How do I make guy friends?” Even though that’s an absolutely crucial step towards getting women.

Tucker:
Right. You don’t have to think about it. It sounds a little bit weird to say, “How do I make guy friends so I can sleep with girls?” The way to think about it is, “How do I do things that will put me around people?” We’ve said this before and we’re going to say it again. The best way to meet women, when you go out, is to not think about having sex with them, to make your goals something tangential. Or make your goals something else so that sex it tangential. My goal is to meet people. My goal is to have fun with girls. Then, you’re going to meet girls. You’re going to have fun. They’re going to like you. You’re going to be attractive to them, and then some of them will want to sleep with you. That’s great. Same thing with friends. You don’t go out being like, “Hey, will you be my friend?” That’s super creepy and weird. What you do is you say, “You know what? I love playing Ultimate Frisbee. I’m going to join an Ultimate Frisbee league.” And then your team will probably become friends. Here’s something else I think we should talk about. We get this feedback all the time. We don’t hear from the guys that are doing well. We hear from the guys who aren’t. So, what happens when you join some league, some activity, and no one likes you? What does that mean? What do you do then?

Geoff:
I would join a different league.

Tucker:
Okay. So, the first thing you should do is evaluate the people. So, if you join some activity, you join an MMA gym and none of the guys like you, maybe those guys are fucking dicks. That’s always a possibility. Sometimes, some people are just fucking assholes. But if you’ve done this a couple times and no one likes you, you need to start thinking about the fact that it’s you. There’s something wrong with you. You’re doing something that other people don’t like, and this actually gets to the core of social proof. Social proof is, essentially, how the world reacts to you and, generally speaking, the world is going to react to you based on what you do for the world. I don’t mean to sound like Tyler Durden in Fight Club, but you are not a special, unique snowflake. No one gives a fuck about you. They only care about you to the extent that you provide value for them. You don’t have to be cynical about that. You don’t have to be bitter. Because the reality is, you’re the same way about other people. And it’s actually fine. It’s totally fine for your friendships to be, on some level, based on the fact that you provide value to each other. You know? That’s not a bad thing. If friendships are purely transactional, that’s weird. But if friendships have an underlying core of mutual value, that’s actually really beneficial. Then, on top of that foundation of mutual beneficial interaction, you can then trust each other, relate to each other, confide in each other, support each other. Then, you can start building emotional bricks of friendship. If you can’t make friends, the problem might be you.

Geoff:
And it’s usually just a handful of little, interactional tactics or habits that you have that you need to fix. This happens all the time at academic conferences with me. There’s always that one guy my friends and I will call the conference leech, and we want to go out to lunch and this conference leech wants to come along, right? He’s always somebody who subtracts value from the conversation.

Tucker:
By the way, 90% of the time, a dude. Very rarely a woman.

Geoff:
Yeah. It’s almost always a dude who’s a little bit socially oblivious, can’t read nonverbal feedback or cues of disinterest. So, if you’re that conference leech, it’s fixable. You just have to pay attention to what are people expressing nonverbally? How do conversations work? Are you interrupting people too often? Really basic stuff like that. And if you can fix that so men start accepting you, women will start accepting you.

Tucker:
Yes. Women will like you more because other people like you. We’re going to have a whole podcast about conversation, nonverbal cues, feedback. But let’s dig a little bit into this, because this applies to this topic and I think it can be really helpful for guys. If I’m bad at conversation, if I’m that guy – let’s pretend I’m the social leech at your academic conferences, which makes me laugh because I’m usually the opposite – pretend you’re talking to me or whatever. What would you tell me, general advice. By the way, what’s going to be so cool about this advice is that if you’re that guy, no one will tell you this. Actually, I might because I’m one of those weirdoes who tell the truth to people, like, “Dude, you need to talk less and listen more,” and then people actually get upset. That’s why no one ever does it. But if you’re that guy, listen to what Dr. Miller and I are about to tell you because this is the advice you’re not getting from other people.

Geoff:
It’s actually hilarious, there are these social psychology experiments where you put little arrows literally on top of people’s heads, and there’s an overhead camera and then it records the social dynamics that happen at a party. And you can see these time-lapse images of people get together, and the arrows on their heads are pointing to each other, and they’re in little groups. But then there are these individuals that I think the social psychologist called them the social bombs, where if they go to a group, the group disperses within two minutes and everybody just goes, “Fuck this. I’m out of here.” Then, the social bomb goes to the next group and explodes them.

Tucker:
So, what are the traits of the social bomb?

Geoff:
Basically, they don’t ask about other people. They interrupt. They talk too much about themselves. They don’t keep up with the conversation. They’re thinking about, “What was said two minutes ago and how can I respond to that rather than what’s currently being said?”

Tucker:
It kind of sounds like me during the podcasts.

Geoff:
They’re not making eye contact. They’re not actively listening. They don’t fucking listen to what other people are saying. They often overestimate how much expertise they have about a topic. What are some other things you’ve noticed?

Tucker:
I honestly think you’ve nailed them all. The big one here is you will not shut the fuck up about yourself, or you just won’t shut the fuck up and listen. That’s the most important. We’re going to go over this stuff in conversation when we cover conversation fully, but the number one rule in learning how to have a conversation is fucking listen to people. Stop fucking talking. Look. You can talk too little and that can be a problem in conversation, but those people are not the social bombs you’re talking about. The social bombs are the ones who will not listen to other people. Almost everything you said is a function of that. They interrupt them. They only talk about themselves. They’re not making eye contact ‘cause they’re not actively listening. They’re all the same thing.

Geoff:
You know, I’ve been at meetings with scientists and finance guys and business school professors who are way higher status than me, and the social value I add in those situations is I talk very little, I listen really actively. Once in a while, I’ll ask a question that’s informed by what they just said. A short, articulate question that leads them to have a hook to talk a little more about what they want to talk about. And you know what? Even though I don’t talk much, they always have a positive impression. “That Miller guy, he added a lot of value.” ‘Cause I talked 1% of the time? Because I facilitated their conversation, made them feel smart, and kind of deferred to them. I know I have a lot to learn from you. I’m not going to impose my views on you. If you can make the conversation run more smoothly instead of nuking it, that’s social value and people appreciate it.

Tucker:
I think you nailed all the big ones and you described someone who’s anti-charismatic. We’ve talked about charisma before and we’ll probably have a full podcast on charisma. But basically, charisma breaks down to are you effective and powerful? Do you project effectiveness and powerfulness? And are you warm? If you had to pick one or the other, take warm. Warm is the opposite of all these things. You talk about other people. You don’t interrupt them. You keep up with what they’re saying. You make eye contact. You listen to what they say. You’re humble. That’s all warmth. You smile. You interact with them. That’s warmth. If you can be warm with people, at the very least, you are neutral and neutral means you can make friends. And then, from neutral, you can start adding things. Once you start adding things, then you go from, “Oh, I don’t mind him,” from being a wallflower that some people don’t mind, then you go to, like you said, “Oh, that Miller, man, he’s smart.” You go to someone who adds things to the conversation, who adds things to the interaction, and then people want you around and that’s social proof. That’s how you get social proof. To sum all of it up, you can increase your social proof by making friends, joining groups, and then adding things to those relationships that are positive. That’s how you develop social proof, and once you develop that social proof, women will see it, find it attractive, and you’ll do better with women.

Geoff:
Again, the key point here is there’s a big overlap between the traits that lead you to be successful with your friends and your family and the traits that are important to women, in terms of good genes, good partner, good dad. All the social skills that you demonstrate in friendships overlap so much with those that’ll be important for being a boyfriend. There’s a few other extras. Like, okay, with your male friends, it doesn’t matter that much how good you are at cunninglingus. They don’t care. But that’ll matter with a woman. In terms of everything else, conversation, empathy, warmth, charisma. It’s the same stuff that women are looking for in a boyfriend.

Tucker:
Yup. I think that’s good. Let me actually end with this one thing, because I know a lot of guys – especially if they read my books and they’re like, “The thing I love is you don’t care what anyone thinks,” and I think young guys, especially, get this idea not just about me, but that they shouldn’t ever seek acceptance. That seeking acceptance is a way to be weak and is what they think beta males do or whatever nonsense they spew. Look, it is perfectly fine to seek acceptance from others. In fact, every human does it. You do it naturally. The only people who don’t do it are either literally sociopaths, psychopaths, or you’re lying to yourself. That’s it. Those are the only ones who don’t seek acceptance. Even narcissists, in a weird way, do. They have their own perverted form of acceptance, which is just a reflection of themselves, which isn’t really acceptance, but whatever. It’s okay to recognize that you need acceptance from other people, but the way to manage that is to think to yourself, “Who do I want acceptance from?” If you want acceptance from the whole world, then you’re going to have a ruined, disastrous life, ‘cause never will everyone accept you. It’s very important for you to understand, “Who do I want acceptance from and what does that acceptance look like?” So, for example, for me, I want acceptance from people that I respect intellectually, emotionally, academically, whatever. People who I think are really smart and really capable who’ve done things that are impressive or meaningful to me. I want acceptance of my work from them. I also want my work to benefit others. That’s a form of acceptance, right? If people buy my books and enjoy them, that’s a form of acceptance, as well, whereas your acceptance is probably totally different, more academic, like, “I want my peers to validate my work, recognize it as beneficial to the field, etc.” We have very different forms and we measure them differently. Seeking acceptance is fine because that’s basically the core of increasing social proof, is you’ve got to find others, seek their acceptance – and they do the same to you, by the way. Social proof goes both ways. Friendships go both ways. Relationships go both ways. So, we’re not saying you have to be the subservient male in all these relationships. By no means are we saying that. All these things are fluid. Some meetings, you’re the big dog. Some meetings, you’re the little dog. Same for me. But I want to make sure you understand, seeking acceptance is not weakness. It’s humanity.

Geoff:
And you get acceptance by offering value to others, and if they accept you, others notice and go, “Oh, the value, whatever it was, that he offered to his friends, his relatives, his ex-girlfriends, maybe that’s value that I can benefit from as well.” And you don’t get acceptance by needing acceptance or being desperate.

Tucker:
By earning it.

Geoff:
You earn it. You offer value. It can be as simple as you make them laugh, you teach them stuff, you’re fun to hang out with. All that stuff. People will automatically like you if you offer value to them and make their lives better.

Tucker:
By the way, the greatest leaders in history, whoever you want to pick – Genghis Khan, Ghandi, Winston Churchill, Andrew Jackson – it doesn’t matter. Greatest leaders in history all had one thing in common: they sought acceptance from their followers by providing for them. That’s actually the key to leadership, is rulers make people do things. Leaders are responsible for people and provide for them. That’s kind of a key lesson guys don’t understand. The real alphas are the ones who give the most, not control the most. In a real way. This is not some bullshit, hokey, hippie, whatever. That’s how real leaders fucking work. Ask any military general. Anyone. They’ll tell you. William McRaven just gave an amazing fucking speech at UT that said that exact thing, and McRaven ran fucking SOCOM. So, don’t fucking talk to me. The man who fucking ran the U.S. Special Forces during Iraq and Afghan invasion? If he says leadership is about being responsible and giving and providing value, then you don’t fucking argue with that shit. That’s the end of the discussion. Good. I think we covered it.

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