BECOME THE MAN WOMEN WANT
29th of August 2014

John Romaniello Interview

Introduction:

John Romaniello is an entrepreneur, fitness trainer and best-selling author. In this interview Roman opens up about his transformation from skinny, dorky high school kid to becoming a bodybuilder, a model and a guy who’s friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

No one goes through that kind of change without learning a few things. Specifically, Roman will tell you how to develop confidence, the small change that dramatically improved his interactions with women, and how to highlight your good qualities in an authentic, organic way.

Podcast:


You can click here (right click, then click save as) to download the episode directly.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.
Click here to subscribe to the podcast on Stitcher.

Video:

[coming soon]

SPONSOR: This episode is sponsored by Bookhacker. They do the reading, so you don’t have to. Check them out on Amazon or Bookhacker.net.

If you want to sponsor the Mating Grounds Podcast, email [email protected].

Key takeaways:

  • While he was still in high school Roman met some girls from outside of his school who really liked him. But it wasn’t happening for him at school because all those people still saw him as the uncool kid they knew from middle school. Social context is hugely important.
  • Roman really built confidence when he became really good at something (specifically, bodybuilding). He wasn’t the best in the country, but he was better than most of the people around him, which was a big shift that allowed him to have confidence in himself.
  • Going from chubby to being in great shape is a perfect example of demonstrated performance (which we’ve talked about before) which gave Roman confidence, because he knew he could achieve something that he had previously thought was impossible.
  • When a woman deliberately makes physical contact with you, that’s a sign that she’s into you. Likewise if she initiates plans with you.
  • Be careful listening to other guys about sex and dating. If they are the same age and experience level as you then they are probably just as lost as you are.
  • Being honest about yourself and what you want makes everything so much easier. Even if your goal is to sleep with a bunch of women like Roman did, it’s easier if you’re honest about it, and then you can find women who want the same thing.
  • The benefits of being in shape far outweigh the costs – in terms of ROI if you’re only going to do one thing to improve your attractiveness, it should be getting in shape.
  • Being in shape should be part of an overall strategy to make sure that you’re physically attractive (or at least not repellent). So that means being in shape but also dressing well, being clean and being well-groomed.
  • You should also become more interesting. The way to do that is to do more things. Improv, CrossFit, learning an instrument, standup comedy surfing – whatever it is, find something interesting that you want to do and go do it.
  • People tend to have standard conversation questions. Work out what these are (e.g. “so what do you do?” or “Do you like to travel?”) and come up with good responses that allow you to demonstrate what’s interesting about you.
  • Even if you don’t think you’re interesting, you can still ask interesting questions and give the other person your full attention. One way to do this is, when meeting someone, try and find out what’s unique or compelling about that person.
  • Roman is particularly interesting to people because of the dichotomy. His physical appearance means people assume he’s going to be a meathead, but when they find out he’s actually very smart and a bit nerdy that’s really interesting.

Links from this episode

John Romaniello’s Bio:

Podcast Audio Transcription:

Tucker:
Alright, so John, without having to go through and bullshit and recount everything about who you are and what you’ve done, you’re very successful, you’re an author of a New York Times bestselling book, you’re a big…I don’t want to say a fitness celebrity like John Basedow, but you run—

Roman:
Yeah. Me and John Basedow, we’re like this.

Tucker:
Fitness celebrity. That was one of my favorite commercials ever. But you run a really famous and popular online fitness blog. You do a lot of coaching. Etc.

Roman:
Yup.

Tucker:
But if I didn’t know you and I was, like, a 17-year-old kid, I’d look at you and I’d be like, okay. Here’s this guy who’s really successful, really rich. He’s a big, muscular, jock, dudebro. He married this beautiful woman who’s really smart. He lives in LA. He hangs out with Arnold Schwarzenegger. This guy is so far beyond the realm of comprehension for me that I can’t even – why would I ever listen to this guy? He’s gonna tell me to do push-ups and sell me his supplements, and to hell with this fucking guy, right? The funny thing is, I know you really well, Roman, and I know that when you were in high school, you were one of those dudes, right?

Roman:
Yeah. I never had anyone put it to me like that, but I guess that…when I was, like, fourteen years old, it’s not even that I would’ve viewed this person as being unattainable. I probably would’ve, based on that alone, fucking hated him. So, yeah. Wow.

Tucker:
I know. It is kind of funny, when you have someone else put it in perspective. But let’s talk about it. So, what were you like in high school? Like, without any dramatics or whatever. Just, what were the things you were into? What were your friends like? Etc.

Roman:
So, when I was in high school, I was not a popular kid. I sort of inherited being unpopular because I had an older sister who was unpopular because she was sort of special needs. You know, like if you have a cool older brother in high school, you’re like, fucking set for life? I had the opposite of that. But also, I was kind of a nerdy kid. When I was in 7th and 8th grade, my friends and I were the kids who were playing Magic: The Gathering with those cards in the lunchroom. We didn’t even have the good sense to be fucking complete nerds at home. No. We were just like, “Let’s just do it where everyone can see!” So, we were pretty nerdy kids. By the time I got to high school, I realized not to fucking do that. It seemed like a bad idea. But, I was kind of chubby, very academically-minded.

Tucker:
Hold on. When you say “kind of chubby,” how tall are you? 5’10”?

Roman:
I’m 5’8”.

Tucker:
Alright, so you were 5’8” and what?

Roman:
My freshman year of high school, I maybe…170? Well, I can tell you this. I started wrestling my freshman year of high school and I wrestled 160, but I had to diet down to get there. So, I was a chubbish 170.

Tucker:
Okay. So, you were kind of chunky. Yeah, 170, 5’8”, unless you’re muscular, is pretty chubby.

Roman:
Right. So, just to put things in perspective, when I was competing in bodybuilding, if I walked on stage at 4% body fat, I was 190. Right now, I’m like, 194 and certainly not as lean as that, but….chubby. I was always a thick kid, always had some muscle under there, but didn’t really do anything. I wasn’t an athlete. I was a kid who got straight A’s ‘because I had one of those – not a completely eidetic memory, but I remember things I read and see very well. I never had to study. I just was always in all of the honors classes and my friends and I played Dungeons and Dragons on the weekends.

Tucker:
So, this is your freshman year of high school. You’re playing D&D, Magic: The Gathering, you are in all the nerd classes.

Roman:
Oh, even better, way back in the fucking way back, before World of Warcraft was a thing, there was online roleplaying games, but there were no graphics. They were all text-based, because we had fucking dial-up, right? So, I played – not a joke, I played a game called Dragon Realms, which was an MUD, a multi-user dungeon, that you would log into and be…like, basically playing D&D online. And I failed classes my freshman year that were first period because I couldn’t make it to school because I’d stay up till, like, three AM playing this game. It was really bad. So, it was…

Tucker:
I feel like we could do the whole podcast of how—

Roman:
…What a fucking nerd I was.

Tucker:
Multi-player games with no graphics. How ridiculous that is.

Roman:
It was so bad. But I was pretty good at it. I played a human Paladin named Trevilin Dagmar. He was, like, level 30. Had a cool sword and armor and everything. Or at least, there were words on the screen, describing his cool sword. But this is who I was. That’s the shit that was important to me. I’d be at school, not thinking about class ‘because it was easy, and I’d be like, “Man. I can’t wait to get home and build whatever skills are necessary to get to level 30.”

Tucker:
“I can’t wait to go live in my fantasy world where I get to be cool.”

Roman:
Exactly. Right.

Tucker:
Right. Okay. So….you remember the guy’s name. That’s amazing.

Roman:
Oh, I’ll never forget. He was everything I wanted to be.

Tucker:
Well, here’s what’s funny. So, the dude you built, whatever, what’d you say, a Paladin? I don’t even know what a fucking Paladin is, but that’s fine. So, how close would you say that, stripping away all the swords and sorcerers and dragons bullshit, how close would you say that Paladin is to who you are now?

Roman:
A lot closer than I was. This is important. The Paladin is a sort of idealized knight, holy knight, so there’s a lot of restrictions on the types of behavior you can have. You basically always do the right thing. If you look at a situation and you’re like, “What’s right? What’s wrong?” you never steal the gold or attack people when they’re looking. You have to be – in D&D, it’s lawful good. It’s a very difficult thing to play. I would say that I try to do the right thing, but I have done fucked up shit often enough in my life that I wouldn’t say that I could claim that. What I would say is that I am most of the things that I wanted to be. I am strong and fast, athletic, attractive, successful. I was able to develop each of those qualities first piecemeal and then all together.

Tucker:
Okay. That long-ass answer was the point I was looking for, was that you basically created a real-life version of who you fantasized yourself to be, who you spent hours being, right?

Roman:
Sure. Yeah.

Tucker:
So, that’s the question I really want to dive into, is how did you do that? So, you kind of started off with your body, right?

Roman:
Yeah. So, that didn’t happen until much later. The interesting thing was I was not, as I said, an athletic kid. I was a nerdy kid, but I really, really wanted to go to a good school, so I wanted a diverse resume for my college application, so I started playing sports specifically to broaden my horizon. I was never a star athlete at first. I played football, I wrestled, I ran track, but when I was doing those things, I was in better shape and I built muscle when I was training for football and wrestling just because I am a mesomorph and I am good at building muscle. By the time I got to my senior year, I had some school bench press record. Every year that we tested for football, the ridiculous tests that you, like, leg press 450 pounds as many times as you can and it was always me and this one other kid who had the record there. So, I started seeing how physical culture could make an impact on what I wanted to do and could help me. I got broader. By the time I was a senior, I guess I was in slightly better shape. I had a girlfriend. But I did not have a girlfriend in my school. Everyone who’s ever been to high school knows that however people look at you in 7th grade is how they will look at you up until you run into them at a bar when you’re twenty-five.

Tucker:
Right.

Roman:
So, I had been unpopular for whatever reason that that was, so when I met girls at other schools, they didn’t know I was unpopular. They just thought I was this cute, funny guy.

Tucker:
They met you in a totally independent social context.

Roman:
That’s the exact right way to put that.

Tucker:
Right. So, they judged you based on how you presented yourself to them. They were attracted to who you were, not…they didn’t judge you based on what everyone else thought of you already.

Roman:
Precisely correct. So, by the time I was a senior, I had been playing sports a while, I had a girlfriend, I got into a great school, and then all of the things that I was doing sort of stopped. Obviously, when you have a girlfriend, you no longer really care as much about making—

Tucker:
Wait. Hold on. We’re gonna get back to this. What I want to talk about real quick, though, is your freshman year in high school, you didn’t have any girlfriends anywhere, right? Not even outside—

Roman:
No. I was always in the friend zone. I had female friends.

Tucker:
Right. But by senior year, you became a guy who could have girlfriends at other schools.

Roman:
Right. So, a big part of that was just getting a car and being involved and meeting women in different situations. I’ll tell you how I met my first real high school girlfriend. It was February 27 of 1998, and my buddy, Chris, and I – he was, like, my best friend – he and a couple of other friends, we decided not to go to our junior prom because we were losers and we couldn’t have fun anyway. Instead, we decided to go to a concert. We saw The Offspring, ‘cause it was 1998.

Tucker:
I don’t know if D&D or that is worse.

Roman:
I was pretty fly for a white guy. But anyway, we took the train into Manhattan from Long Island to see The Offspring and on the train platform, me and my group of friends met this group of girls who were also going to The Offspring concert, so we rode into the city together and all just chatted. Then we all went to the concert together, had a good time. And this is the first time the importance of independent, social contexts ever really became fully apparent to me. It was the next day, and one of our friends had known one of the girls because they went to some – they were both Polish and did some Polish shit together. The next day, he comes into school and he’s like, “Bro. All of those girls were in love with you. Which one do you want to go out with?” And I was like…”Why is that? What is that that that just happened? Why doesn’t that happen here?” Independent social context, but…I had become cool, in the way that I presented myself. I was well-spoken, I was intelligent, I was athletic, but the things that you do to be cool, developing those characteristics, I had managed to develop. So, I wound up dating one of those girls and we dated throughout the rest of high school. So, it’s really interesting that when you get out of this box that other people put you in, it’s amazing how different you feel as a person. So, when I was in my high school, up until that point, I was just like, “I’m a loser because these other people who, for whatever reason, are the arbiters of cool – they determine what is and isn’t popular – they think I’m uncool.” But when that wasn’t a constraint for me, when I was in an environment wherein I could just be who I felt that I was, everyone around me thought I was cool. As a result, completely unexpectedly, I never hung out…in my school, I never went to my school dances. I went to the school dances at the other school, where the girls I’m dating went. Does that make sense?

Tucker:
Yeah, it makes total sense. Yeah. Of course.

Roman:
So, I just hung out over at that school because I was a cool guy there. The great thing about that was, although that relationship obviously didn’t last past my senior year, I met a lot of really amazing people. So, my girlfriend was a couple years younger than me and I just became friends with all the kids in her class, and three of them are three of my best friends in the world, guys that I met when I was a junior and they were freshmen, we just became really tight and three of them were actually in my wedding party this past September. So, just guys I’ve known forever because of that relationship, because when they met me, in their eyes, I was cool and I didn’t have to fight against any of those preconceived notions. So, I wound up meeting women that way but also meeting some of my best friends.

Tucker:
So, what happened when you went to college? Was it the same thing or was it—

Roman:
Yes and no. I sort of just got fat again, physically. So, I went through a bad breakup with that girl and…I mean, I had sort of inserted myself by that time, into a few other scenes. I was no longer playing D&D. We were really into music, my group of friends. I had been in a couple of bands. I was sort of in the punk rock scene, which started to get more popular with bands like Blink-182 at the time. So, I’d been playing some music and I made some good friends in school, but it wasn’t even that I was a loser, I just sort of…when I went through my freshman year of college, I was dating this high school girl and all your friends are like, “Bro. You’ve got to break up with her. Go do college.” But I was like, “No. Fuck that. I’m a good person. I’m not gonna do that.”

Tucker:
Right. You’re a Paladin! You would never do that.

Roman:
I’m lawful good. I don’t just break up with my girlfriend ‘cause I go to college. Yeah, I just sort of built this image of myself as a guy who was not interested in other women, ‘cause I cut myself off from that. Then, by the time I was single and had gone through this breakup, now I put on a bunch of weight in addition to having established that image. All the girls were either taken or not interested. So, I again, went through this period where I have no options for female companionship. But I think a big part of it was that I was not ever truly confident. Even up to that point, even though I had a girlfriend, even though other people thought I was cool, I was not—

Tucker:
Why not? Why weren’t you confident?

Roman:
I could not actually say. You know what? A lot of it is just ‘cause the people around you, even when you start to play sports, if you’re not a star athlete, there are star athletes, so no matter how good you’re able to become from your freshman year to your senior year, there’s always those super stars who are fucking amazing. So, you always compare yourself to the best person, which is why most people feel like shit all the time. You know? You’re like, I want to write a book. My book didn’t sell as many copies as your book. If I was still in that mindset, I would feel like shit about my book, even though it was a best seller. Yours hit number one. Mine hit number four. Blow my fucking brains out. So, I think that we have a tendency to make really comparative analyses when we try to determine our self-worth, particularly when we’re younger, and because I was never the best at anything, in my mind, I was the worst. So, I went to a good school, but not the best school. I was a smart kid, but not the smartest kid. I was an athlete, but never the best. I had a girlfriend, but not the hottest girlfriend. Whatever. So, I was never truly confident. I just didn’t…

Tucker:
Would you say you’re confident now?

Roman:
Yeah. I would say, because now—

Tucker:
What’s changed?

Roman:
A big thing that’s changed was I got to be the best at something.

Tucker:
What? What are you the best at?

Roman:
When I was nineteen, I really discovered fitness. I had the moment of clarity that alcoholics have and I saw a picture of myself and realized I was chubbier than I thought. Then, I went through this body transformation, right? I lost all of this fat and I gained all of this muscle, and at my school, I was like…the guy with the great body. I was the best body in the school. I was competing in body building—

Tucker:
Wait. Hold on. You went to Cornell, right?

Roman:
I went to Cornell University.

Tucker:
That’s kind of funny. A second ago, you were like, “Oh, I went to a good school. Not the best.”

Roman:
But that’s the thing! Let me tell you something—

Tucker:
Cornell is the ugly little brother of the Ivys, I get it, but it’s like—

Roman:
See, that’s the thing. Everyone there has this – if you Google “Cornell inferiority complex,” check out what comes up. Because every fucking kid who goes to Cornell didn’t get into Harvard or Princeton. So, everyone there is suffering from…So, I got to be the best at something. I got to be the guy with the absolute best body. Just getting to wear that around, getting to experience that for the three or four years that I was seriously competing in body building and doing fitness modeling…I guess when you’re the best at something or you have the best of something, you sort of gain some perspective on everyone else. Because there would be my friends who were working out and they weren’t as good as me, but that did not matter to me. I was like, “Bro. You still look great. You’ve made progress.” Just being at the pinnacle and consciously making the effort to reach down and pull other people up instead of pushing people down, like had been done to me previously, it really gave me perspective that the only thing that matters is constantly trying to improve. Being the absolute best no longer became interesting to me. What I wanted to do was simply just be the best version of myself, and that sort’s sort of an idea that I’ve carried.

Tucker:
This is what’s funny, though. So, you had to be the best at something to see this, right? But the reality is, you weren’t even close to the best. You’re right. I mean, you were the best at Cornell at one thing, but I bet you weren’t even the best in western New York. You weren’t winning New York state titles or anything, were you?

Roman:
No.

Tucker:
And even if you were, you definitely weren’t the best in the country!

Roman:
Right. I wasn’t. What matters is just feeling like you’re the best out of your immediate circle. In my orbit, I was the best, you know? In the gyms that I trained at, I was the biggest or the strongest.

Tucker:
That’s the point that I’m trying to make, is that you didn’t have to be the absolute best. You just had to be good enough at something where you were better than most of the people around you and could see yourself in that way. You could see yourself as something that you couldn’t see yourself as before.

Roman:
Precisely correct. Exactly right.

Tucker:
Alright. And then, let’s get back. You were actually making a really good point, that once you became the best at something, once you learned to see yourself as valid and as someone that’s worthy of respect or confidence that you didn’t have before, then what shift did that really create? It made you stop looking down on others or it made you realize that being first doesn’t fill you with all the stuff you want?

Roman:
I think it was more the second one. I never looked down on anyone, but a lot of it was that I realized that when people were looking up to you, what they really should’ve been doing was looking inward, right? All of the guys around me, the kids that I worked out with and even the people that I trained, they made such a big deal about my body or the fact that I had one, like fucking low-level, Nafa County body building types. To me, it didn’t seem like a big deal. I was like, “Well, I just put in the work and I did this, so anyone can do it.” I just believed that anyone could accomplish it even though I would have a mental, a psychological grasp on the fact that six months, a year earlier, I would’ve thought it was as impossible as making the sun rise in the west. I now knew that was not the case, so for me it was more once I had other people looking up to me, I realized that no matter what it is in life, everyone is sort of going through some insecurities. Everyone is experiencing moments of doubt, and that’s okay. So, for me, I think that being the best in my orbit in terms of my physical appearance, it didn’t fulfill me with any extreme sense of validation as a human being. It was just this one aspect that I could check off a box and I was secure there. I still had all this other shit to figure out, and I think that that’s what most people are going through. Whatever it is that they feel insecure about, they’re so insecure about it that they don’t ever get to realize that every other person in the room they’re in, every other person in the school they’re in, everyone is feeling like shit about something. Sometimes it just takes going through the shit and coming out not on top, but higher than you were, to grant you enough perspective to realize that when you thought everyone was looking down on you, they were too busy hating themselves. For me, it just became about helping other people see that.

Tucker:
So, that’s actually a super good point. How specifically did that realization make you confident?

Roman:
There were a few things. The first is that none of these things happen in a vacuum, Tucker. So, I get this great body and then you’re experiencing worship from younger guys and adulation from younger women, and that does help build confidence. It helps convince you that you’re worthwhile, and then you start helping other people and that makes you feel worthwhile. So, I think that the confidence really came in through a combination of things. It was a culmination of having a lot of things around me change in a short enough period of time that I had no choice but to accept the new perspective. I think that it also made me more confident in terms of my ability to do things, because as I said, for me, having been chubby my whole life, if I looked at my body building stage and the shape I was in a year prior, I would’ve said that’s literally impossible. It will never happen for me. In much the same way that as a 14-year-old boy, if I looked at the lifestyle I had now, I would say that’s literally impossible. One of the things I touch on in my book is that once you accomplish one thing that’s impossible, everything else begins to seem more possible. It gives you this innate sense of confidence. I did this thing that I never thought I could do, so looking out at the vast landscape of possibility, what are the other things I thought I could never do? Start a business, write a best-selling book, whatever, and I’m going to feel more capable of accomplishing them because of what I learned over here. Does that make sense?

Tucker:
Right. It makes total sense. In the psychological literature, it’s called demonstrative performance, which is…that’s sort of the big argument about it. A lot of guys see confidence as a chicken or an egg problem. Like, “I’m not confident so I don’t do anything. Because I don’t do anything, I can’t be confident.” What you’re talking about is exactly what I tell guys. I’m like, “Look. You need to go find something. It doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be something that you like and that you’re remotely good at. Even if you’re not very good, work at it. Get better and better and better and then look back on where you used to be. At the very least, you’re gonna feel more confident in that because you have demonstrated the ability to perform.” That’s what I explain to dudes. That’s how you get real confidence, is you practice, get better, do things, and then you believe you can do those things.

Roman:
And once you believe you can do those things, you begin to believe that you can do things, period. The phrase that we use in the book is that success is a learned habit, and I believe that truly. Not only do you learn to be more successful, but you learn to be more successful specifically because – we talk a lot about the hero’s journey in the book. The skills that you learn, the characteristics that you develop, going through one type of change or developing one skill, discipline, sacrifice, motivation. All of those things are portable to everything else in your life, and I can say with a real level of certainty that had I not gone through a physical transformation, I would not have been able to start a business, certainly I wouldn’t have started a fitness business, obviously. But I wouldn’t have been able to start a business of any kind. It was only because I had gone through that experience and had success that I felt, “Fuck it. I can start a business. Of course I can start this. I can do anything.”

Tucker:
Right. If I can get on stage in front of thousands or hundreds of people with 4% body fat or whatever. If I can do that, then how hard can it be to start a business?

Roman:
Exactly.

Tucker:
Right. Even if, in certain ways, it’s objectively foolish, it doesn’t seem foolish. It seems possible. And usually, that’s about 80% of getting something done, is it seeming possible. Maybe not 80. That’s 80% of starting, is it seeming possible. The rest is just kind of doing the work. Alright, let’s go from there to women, because…this is sort of what the podcast is about. What I tell a lot of guys, I want to talk about that stuff first with you because I tell so many guys. They’ll start asking me questions about women, and I’ll say, “Well, what about you? If you are unattractive and if you don’t believe that you’re datable and if you are fucked up in some way, then knowing shit about women’s not gonna help you, right?” So, that’s the first thing I talk about. You obviously embody this. You went through this kind of dramatic change. For you, it happened to embody itself physically. It doesn’t necessarily have to be predominantly physically for guys, but the point is you’ve got to decide that you’re going to be good at some things that are attractive to the world and to women, right? So, once you did that, once you became really good at fitness and body building, then how did your life change with women?

Roman:
It was really interesting because it’s the difference of two summers, right? So, the summer between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college – one thing you should know about me is that for a large part of my life, I worked at summer camps during the summer. I worked at day camps, and so when you’re working at a day camp, you meet new people every year, new counselors come in, some leave. So, you always have a fresh crop of people that you can sort of see how you effect. So, the summer between high school and college, I was sort of chubby, I had this girlfriend, didn’t have a lot of confidence, and then I went through my physical transformation right before the summer. So, now I go back to this day camp and I see two really interesting things. The first is that when you’ve gone through a really obvious and impressive physical transformation, all of the people who knew you before the transformation now ask you questions about it constantly. “How do I do this?” So, you start to develop expertise. The second thing is that when you’re meeting people in an independent social context and they have no preconceived notions, when they meet you and you have 6% body fat and all this muscle, you never start out as, “Oh, that funny guy, Roman.” You’re always, “Oh, do you know that hot guy who hangs out by the pool?” And it was a very different experience to have that be people’s first impression of me, that I was this jacked guy. Not that I was this good counselor or that I was a funny guy or I was friends with these five people that they knew from high school. It was that, “Oh, he’s the jacked guy.” “The body builder guy who works at the pool?” That’s the first thing. So, now, when people say your name, Roman, that’s the image that comes up. Not these other things. It became really interesting from a sort of…just sociopolitical sort of perspective to see how all of a sudden because all the girls from camp think you’re attractive, that now all of a sudden, you’re the most popular guy there. It’s really interesting.

Tucker:
So, what was the result? Because I’m sure I know what the result is, but I want to get it from your words. So, now, all these girls are seeing you as the jacked guy, right? In addition to that, they talk to you and they probably assume you’re gonna be a fucking meathead and you’re gonna be annoying and like a goomba from Long Island. Turns out you’re a really funny, intelligent, empathetic dude.

Roman:
Yes. So, the first thing that happened to me was I sort of got a taste of cynicism, which speaks to my personality up to that point. Because the only thing different about me from one summer to the next was that I lost thirty-five pounds and gained some muscle, right? To see the difference in the reactions to people vs. Item A and Item B, you sort of get a little bit fucked up, right? It creates some head trash, because you start to really look down on even girls who like you and obviously want to blow you. You’re just like, “Well, fuck you. You only like me ‘cause I have a nice body. Where were you last year?” On the one hand, you just want to take advantage of it. But on the other hand, you start to think, “Shit. Are people really this shallow?” Looking back on it now, having a lot of distance from it, I realize that a lot of it had to do with the increased confidence and just feeling better, but there was that.

Tucker:
Well, hold on. We’ll get to the second thing in a minute. Do you ever think that there’s a third thing to think that most people forget, is, “Oh, do I do this to other people as well?” You know?

Roman:
Yeah, of course!

Tucker:
Like, I know you well enough to know you didn’t, but I know a lot of guys in that situation probably are judgmental shits about girls and then once they see it the other way around, they’re like, “Oh, my god. I had no idea what it felt like to be totally—“ because now you know what it feels like to be objectified.

Roman:
Right.

Tucker:
You know? And it’s kind of shitty, in a way.

Roman:
I think that we all do it, right? Like, as a chubby kid in high school, when a guy was like…a guy on a sports field happened to take his shirt off and he had abs, I’d be like, “Oh, fuck you, showing off.” We all make that judgment. Maybe he’s just hot. You know? Or we do it about women who look a certain way. We just assume that women who are that pretty are just fucking bitches or, what I see now in physical culture, you see it. If a guy posts a picture online and he’s both very big and very lean, everyone is like, “Fucking juicer. Can’t possibly—“ So, we all do it.

Tucker:
Alright, so get back to the second thing you were saying.

Roman:
So, the second thing that happened was dealing with attention from the opposite sex is a learned skill, and I had only ever needed to deal with it in small amounts, because I had this girlfriend. You know, occasionally, girls would have crushes on me and you deal with that one at a time, but it’s very different from being the generally accepted object of adoration for an entire—

Tucker:
Being the hottest guy in the room is a totally different thing.

Roman:
Right. And so, over the course of the summer, I had all of these different women approach me and there were two things. The first is that I had no real gauge for knowing 100% whether someone was really hitting on me or if they were just being friendly. You only learn how to do that with a lot of experience, you know? You just get to figure it out, when someone’s trying to fuck you vs. when they’re just trying to have a conversation with you. I made a conscious effort to never be the type of person who just assumes that every girl that ever talks to me is just trying to suck my dick, which is a really good trait to develop, by the way. Don’t think anyone’s trying to blow you until they say, “Hey, is it cool if I blow you?” The thing was that I didn’t understand how to do that and I didn’t understand how to do it with a large group of people, so over the course of the summer, I had all of these different girls do everything from talk to me to give me their phone number to just trying to hook up with me at a party, and because camp is such a small population, the butterfly effect is very profound. I got inside my own head. It was the first time in my life that I ever had a lot of options, and it fucked me up because I thought…I got in my own head and I really overthought it and I was like, “Well, if I hook up with this girl, she’s friend with three other girls, so I won’t get to hook up with any of them. If I hook up with this girl, I think she wants to date and then I won’t get to hook up with anyone else all summer.” So, I just overanalyzed and overanalyzed it and at the end of the summer, I had kissed one girl. Not slept with. One girl the whole summer, I made out with at a party, and at the end of the summer, my friends were like, “Bro. You really shit the bed on that one.” I was like, “I know.” But there were a couple of things. I didn’t really know how to talk with women. I didn’t know how to close, really.

Tucker:
You mean you didn’t know how to flirt or you didn’t know how to close? They’re two different things.

Roman:
Both. I mean, I knew how to be funny, but…and I could flirt a little bit. I was always just a really friendly guy. When you’re good-looking, people assume that when you’re friendly, you’re flirting. When you’re heavy, people assume that when you’re flirting, you’re friendly. So, there was that. But I also didn’t know how to close. I didn’t know how understand when a woman’s giving you signals where you can just be like, “Alright. Let’s get out of here.” So, not knowing how to do that, not knowing how to make a decision and be okay with how the chips are gonna fall—

Tucker:
Can you think of…if you can’t, no big deal, but can you think of specific signals you missed where now you’re like, “That girl would’ve fucked the dog shit out of me”?

Roman:
Let me tell you a story. So, the summer camp I worked at was on Long Island in the North Shore, and my buddy, Rob, who is one of my best friends – he’s now my executive vice president of my consulting branch – he actually performed my wedding ceremony. So, he has a party at his house, like, forty minutes away. So, the whole camp fucking drives out there, and there was this girl that I was kind of hanging out with that summer named Marissa, and at one point, there was a lot of people around, including two other girls I thought I might want to hook up with. Marissa and I were sort of standing there. She got her arms wrapped around my waist. She’s consciously trying to walk herself into that pre-kiss movie stare, and I wound up not kissing her. I fucking shit you not. She left a note on the windshield of my car that said, “Are you gay? Why won’t you kiss me? What’s wrong with me?” I was like, wow.

Tucker:
What did you do after she left that note?

Roman:
I saw her the next day and so I kissed her! That was the one girl I kissed all summer!

Tucker:
The girl had to leave a note on your windshield!

Roman:
I know. It’s the worst. But yeah. So, my buddy Rob has not let me fucking live that down. But yeah, that’s how bad it was. I was so completely unaccustomed to living the life of a guy in that body and the way that people react that I just didn’t even think. When this girl is, like, locking her arms around you and staring blissfully into your eyes, that’s a really good time—

Tucker:
You should make a move, maybe, I think.

Roman:
Yeah. Maybe. I think.

Tucker:
My professional opinion is kiss her.

Roman:
So, yeah. “Are you gay? Why won’t you kiss me? What’s wrong with me?”

Tucker:
Oh, Roman. People get mad at me for ruining girls. You probably ruined ten girls that summer without even fucking knowing it.

Roman:
So, true story. That girl, Marissa, went on to marry this other dude who worked at the camp, Scott, and now my buddy, Rob, is roommates with that guy’s brother. So, he sees her all the fucking time and will not let her forget it, which I think is even better than him not letting me forget it.

Tucker:
Oh, that’s beautiful. So, you screwed up the whole summer camp. Clearly, at some point, you figured it out, though, ‘cause we’ve talked about this. So, how did you figure it out? Or how did you figure out how to deal with attention from women, is what I want to say?

Roman:
Just time, I think.

Tucker:
Well, no. It’s not just time. Things happened in that time.

Roman:
Well, yeah. Sure. Okay. So, a few things. There were a couple of girls who were really aggressive, for which I will be forever grateful. So, sometime after that summer ended, I kept in touch with a few girls and at this point in time, a little something called AIM chat was very popular, so AOL Instant Messenger. So, you’d be online just doing whatever at school, and girls would IM you and over the course of time, they’re like, “So, listen. I was really into you.” Once there was the screen between you that sort of—

Tucker:
They can be brave.

Roman:
They can be brave. So, they’re just like, “So, listen. Over Thanksgiving, we should totally fuck.” I was like, “…We should totally fuck.”

Tucker:
“Yes. That’s a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that this summer?”

Roman:
“We should totally fuck over Thanksgiving. Let’s do that! I’m so sorry I didn’t bang you this summer.” So, a couple of girls were really aggressive about it, which was helpful, and I started to figure out when women were hitting on me vs. when they weren’t.

Tucker:
So, what are some things you picked up?

Roman:
What I realized is that anytime a woman is going out of her way to touch you, she is probably hitting on you.

Tucker:
Yeah. When a woman makes plans, initiates plans. “Hey, what are you doing this Sunday? Have you seen this movie?” Something like that?

Roman:
Yeah. Right. So, that’s not even hitting on you. That’s asking you out, as far as I’m concerned. But things that I thought were hitting on me but turned out not to be…I think this is unique to being a body builder. Because the muscular carapace you’ve developed is such—

Tucker:
You said carapace.

Roman:
Carapace, yes. It’s sort of a novelty, right? So, girls will ask to see you with your shirt off. And once you’ve got your shirt off, if they’re touching you, that does not mean they want to bang you. That’s a very different thing, particularly if there’s more than one of them at a time. If you’re at a bar and a girl takes your shirt off, that is a clear indicator that you can at least get her phone number, I think.

Tucker:
Right. Women who undress you are sexually attracted to you.

Roman:
That seems to be…yeah. I couldn’t say for certain, but that seemed to be accurate. Another thing that I realized was…it’s one of the weird things that I picked up on, was women would seem to be interested in one of my friends, they’d ask me about them and what was going on with them and if they were single, and then at the end of the night, would kiss me and I’d have no idea what that meant. I wound up actually dating a girl who started out sort of initiating the conversation under the guise of asking questions about my friend. I just realized that women are as bad at starting conversations, at opening, as men are and will find literally any safe excuse to talk without the possibility of being rejected, right? So, that was an interesting thing. What are some other things that are definitely not flirting?

Tucker:
I know a lot of guys, especially guys who have a lack of experience with women, they’ll mistake kindness from a woman for flirting, which is…kindness is very different than sexual attraction, but guys without experience don’t know that.

Roman:
Yeah. That’s a really good point. Just because a woman is nice to you doesn’t mean she wants to be very nice to you.

Tucker:
Nice is, “Oh, hey. How are you doing today? Having a good day?” That’s generally kindness, niceness, whereas flirting is like, “Hey, Roman. What’d you do this weekend?”

Roman:
Yeah. “What did you do this weekend?” is very different from “How was your day?” Like, “I want to know what you do at night,” is really the difference. That’s a really good one. Yeah. I think there were a few big ones. Another thing is not…this never happened to me, but it was a really interesting experience being the guy that was getting all the attention and what your friends…if you listen to your friends, you will either believe you are a fucking idiot or you’re a god. One of those two things. There’s no in-between. When you’re getting a lot of attention from women, your friends are like, “Bro. That girl wants to bang you. Bro. You can totally fuck that stripper.” Whatever. All these different things, and your friends will put shit in your head. So, I became very aware of not wanting—

Tucker:
Because most of the are lost with – here’s something that I think a lot of guys…Exactly what you just said. I want to point that out to all the guys. Most of your friends, especially if they’re about your age and your experience level, are just as lost as you are with women and just because they seem confident in their opinion, doesn’t mean they know what the fuck they’re talking about. You need to be careful listening to guys that don’t know what they’re doing, because just because they seem like they have confidence in their opinions doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing, is my point.

Roman:
Right. So, that was a big thing. When I was in college in particular, I became very aware of never overstepping with women, so I just made it a point. Keep in mind, I grew up in a house full of women. My parents split up when I was nine and I don’t have a relationship with my dad, so I always just grew up with stories of assholes and I never wanted to be an asshole. For me, I took no means no very seriously. I was just like, okay. Just because a girl invites you to her room doesn’t mean you’re gonna sleep with her. It sort of worked out in my favor in the sense that…well, it certainly worked out in my favor in that I was never accused of date rape. Fuck yeah. But what I mean is that because I was always…I was never sexually timid, but I was always very tentative in terms of pushing things. Women tend to be very sexually aggressive with me, so it was very nice to have a very clear indicator of what is and isn’t okay, because…

Tucker:
Well, this actually brings up a good question. How much opportunity do you think you lost with girls who wanted to hook up with you but just won’t be aggressive?

Roman:
Quite a lot. At the same time, I probably lost opportunity with a ton of girls because I just didn’t go talk to them, for example. That’s just what happens. So, I don’t know. I think that the big thing for me was at that period of my life, I needed to be as close to the outside looking in as I could and to let women take the lead seemed to be a really good way to learn that because if a woman’s flirting with you and you don’t flirt back, but you give some indication of interest, she’ll try harder. So, a really good way to learn whether or not a woman is being nice or whether she’s being sexually interested is to just…don’t fucking pick up the rope. Just let it…

Tucker:
Or just pick it up a little bit and then set it back down.

Roman:
Yeah.

Tucker:
Well, you went through that stage, and then I know that you kind of went through a stage where you were very much, “Alright. I’m gonna fuck every girl I can.” So, what led to that stage?

Roman:
So, this is when I was 23-year-old, maybe almost twenty-three. Maybe just after. So, I had dated this girl…So, when I say that I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my life, I’ve definitely made a lot of bad decisions and I did some things that hurt some people. I dated this girl whom I had grown up with. She was one of my closest friends. Then, when I was, like, 19-years-old, we dated for, like, two years. It sort of ended badly. By that, I mean I cheated on her with her best friend for, like, six months. I was a terrible person.

Tucker:
What? You lost your Paladin status with me, bro.

Roman:
I know! So, here’s what happened. I was dating this girl and then she started going through some stuff and she went on these anti-depressants and it killed her sex-drive. After eight months of that, the last year of our relationship, we really didn’t have sex. So, the last eight months, it was getting particularly hard on me, and…so I was tight with her best friend, as well, we were a group of friends. And she started saying things one day. She was like, “You know. If you’re not having sex, it’s not really cheating.” I don’t know. And she started making a lot of sense, and so I wound up hooking up with her behind that girl’s back for, like, six months. I’m not proud of it. Eventually, girl A and I break up and, not surprisingly, girl B and I start dating. You might not be surprised to find out she was sort of a terrible person.

Tucker:
Shockingly. She cheated on her best friend with her boyfriend.

Roman:
Right! The kind of girl who is going to aggressively pursue a sexual relationship with her best friend’s boyfriend, shockingly, is not a good person. That girl put me through the fucking ringer. At this point, I’m only maybe 21-year-old when we start dating, but you can still experience a lot of pain when you’re twenty-one, and I went through some fucking – first of all, when we dated, it crashed through our group of friends, so now I’m dealing with the guilt of a bunch of people who used to love me now hating me and having two very – people taking sides. So, I’m dealing with that, and then this girl is really into me sometimes and not as into me others, and then she got into this habit where she would break up with me every six weeks and then every four weeks and then every two weeks. And it was so painful because in my head, I believed that if I was willing to cheat on this girl, if I was willing to ruin our friendships with a bunch of people, then being with that girl had to mean something.

Tucker:
You justified it in your mind.

Roman:
I made it important. I added value to it because of the cost, and as any marketer can tell you, cost and value are not mutually inclusive. So, even though this girl was a terrible person, I kept trying to get her back and so she would just keep breaking up with me. I remember there was this six-month period where all I did, every single day, I just thought about trying to get her back. I would make mix tapes and sent flowers. It was bad.

Tucker:
Mix tapes?

Roman:
You know. CDs. But I will mention, by the way, that because I was still sort of a bad person myself, I was obviously sleeping with other girls while professing my love to this other girl.

Tucker:
Of course. What else does that girl deserve but a cheater for a boyfriend?

Roman:
I wasn’t cheating on her! We weren’t together! She wouldn’t be with me, right? So, anyway. It went on for, like, a year. I eventually had this…it was really bad. My friends were worried about me. She was putting me through the ringer. She would break up with me and then a couple weeks later get drunk and we would sleep together. Then, we’d sleep together again the next morning and later on, she’d be like, “What are you talking about? We’re not together.” I’m like, “Um…We had sex, like, three hours ago.” She was like, “Yeah. I was drunk.” “You were drunk last night. You were not drunk three hours ago.” Just like, really leading me on and putting me through some shit, and then on one of these breaks, she like, started dating this other guy. So, I turned psycho. I was doing drive-bys past her house at two am. It was shitty. So, even though at this point of my life, I’d been having a lot of success with women, there was this one girl who because I made it important, because I added value to it, I kept telling myself this is the check. Eventually, she starts dating this other guy, breaks my heart. So, I ran away to California. Two of my best friends and I – my buddies Josh and Ross – we were big poker players, and so we decided, let’s go out to Cali. So, I was personal training at this point. I was like, “I’m gonna take three weeks off my business. We’ll go to California and we’re gonna play at all of the casinos in LA and San Diego and make our living playing poker.” So, we did that. It was great. We actually spent three weeks on vacation in San Diego, meeting girls, going to bars, hanging out, playing poker, and somehow, I came home with $3,000 more than I left with, so it was pretty good.

Tucker:
Yeah. Not bad.

Roman:
It was a good couple of weeks. So, I needed to clear my head. Then, I decided to go on a bit of a bender. I was just like, “I’m just gonna fuck a bunch of different girls and I’m gonna parade them by her whenever I get the chance because fuck her.” So, now, my pain had turned into anger and became acrimonious, so I wound up sleeping with a bunch of girls. I went on probably, like, a six month run of really, really just successful sluttery and then it was, like, there’s a moment – I’ve never told this story on a podcast, so I hope everyone really enjoys this ‘cause it’s a big moment for me. So, I literally never told this in any podcast, obviously ‘cause I mostly do fitness bullshit, so this is fun. So, I went on this pare and it was pretty successful, and then one day, I woke up the morning I had this threesome. These two girls, one of whom I was sleeping with pretty consistently and…I slept with the two of them and the day before I had slept with this other girl and then that night I was supposed to see another chick, and for whatever reason, my mom had come over to my apartment right as these two girls were leaving, ‘cause we were supposed to go have breakfast. I’m taking a shower, my mom is waiting in my living room, just, “What is wrong with him?” So, I remember, I stepped out of the shower and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, all fucking tanned and god-like, looking like a fitness model, and it was a moment where I was just like…it was fucking one in the afternoon. I had only been awake for, like, fifteen minutes, and I think it was one of those moments where you sort of decide who you’re gonna be. I think there was a part of me that felt I should have been disgusted with myself. My mom was certainly disgusted with me. But I wasn’t. Instead, I looked in the mirror and I was just like, “What if I got all the pussy? What if I just did that? What if I just dedicated my life to getting all of the pussy? What would happen? What happens at the end of life? Is there a high score? What do I get? Maybe I can compete with that Tucker Max guy.” And then I spent…now, instead of revenge-fucking a bunch of girls that I hated my ex, I just in the next year in a half, just dated casually. I decided…the six months that I was revenge-fucking, I was not a good person. I would lie to girls. Some of them thought they were my girlfriends. They thought they were on their way to becoming my girlfriend. Some of them thought that I was only sleeping with them, even if it wasn’t serious. So, I was telling what you might call a fuck-ton of lies, and it became so easy for me to lie, it was almost pathological and I started to become really concerned and I spoke to my therapist. I was like, “Dude. I think I might be a sociopath.” He was like, “If you’re concerned about being a sociopath, you’re not. But you’re still doing fucked-up things and you should just not do them.” So, I spent the next year and a half being a Paladin version of a man whore, and every girl I went out with, I was completely honest with. I was like, “Look. I’m just looking to have fun. Not trying to convince you of anything. I’m in a really bad place right now. I don’t want a relationship, but you’re very attractive and I think at some point we could see each other naked.” Being honest was the most effective form of game that I have ever encountered. It’s absolutely amazing that it was actually easier to sleep with a bunch of women telling the truth than lie to a bunch of women and sleep with them. So, I learned a lot in that year and a half. I learned a lot about women. I learned how far you can take things before people really do stop believing your words and only believe your actions. So, I learned a ton about not only women and relationships, but about the way I react to women and relationships. After a year and a half, I decided I need to step back because I’m really fucking myself up. I learned a lot of important lessons that I think are very valuable. So, yeah. If this is of interest, I think I’ve slept with, like…300 women or whatever in my life. Had a lot of great sex, tons of threesomes. It’s been really fun, but…

Tucker:
So, this is super interesting. Tell me specifically what are the things you think you learned.

Roman:
One of them is that I learned that although I was attempting to have casual sex and I was able to have sex casually, I apparently attach a lot of responsibility to sex. So, again, I was raised by my mom, my sister, my aunts, and every woman in the world has a story about some guy who just didn’t call them back. So, for me, I became very adamant. I was like, “I will never not call a woman back. I’m gonna tell her the score up front, and then we’re gonna sleep together, but I’m still gonna call her back the next day.” So, what would happen is that I would sleep with a woman on the first date, she’d come back to my place, and most normal guys don’t have a problem being like, “So, should I call you a cab?” But I could not bring myself to kick a woman out of my apartment, because it felt like being an asshole. Instead, I would just be like, “No, you should just stay,” and the next day I would make them breakfast and hang out with them and then I would call them later in the day like, “Hey, I just want to make sure you got home safe,” because I was trying to check off all these boxes. I was trying to do all the things that a good guy would do, because I was so terrified of being a bad guy. What I didn’t realize is that I was literally giving women every possible indication that I was interested in more than sex even though I had previously said the night before, “I’m only interested in sex. I’m not interested in a relationship,” I was acting like a guy who wanted a relationship. They would obviously begin to believe that I wanted a relationship, so I tried so hard not to be an asshole that I was a complete asshole, because I would…I don’t want to say make women fall in love with me. I don’t think that’s possible, but women definitely began to feel very attached to me because I was acting like a boyfriend instead of a booty call, and so after seven or eight weeks, things would end because I would sort of back off a little bit or they would eventually go, “Where is this going?” And I’m like, “What do you mean? It’s going to bed and then to sleep. That’s where we have been going for eight weeks.” So, I just realized that I was not capable of behaving as casually as I wanted to, so I stopped sleeping with women on the first date. My friends always joke about this, that my process for dating is now first date, no kiss; second date, no kiss; third date, little kiss; fourth date, rape scene; because by the time you get a woman back to your house for the fourth date, she is going to rip your clothes off. So, that, for me, is more effective or was before I was married. I decided that I would not have sex with a woman until I could really decide whether or not a) she wanted what I wanted or b) that I was actually interested in spending time with her. Because obviously, one date isn’t long enough to figure that out. So, I would date these girls, go on a date with them, sleep with them, and then after another date, I’d be like, “I fucking hate this person, but I have to stick around for at least four or five dates. Otherwise—“

Tucker:
“So, I don’t feel like a bad person.”

Roman:
“So I don’t feel like a bad guy.” And my attempts to not be a bad guy really, really got me in trouble. Or, it caused a lot of trouble.

Tucker:
So, let me ask you a question, then. Why didn’t you just change the way you perceived what’s good and bad and say it’s not a bad thing, at least, internally, to yourself – “It’s not a bad thing if we both want to have sex and have sex and it’s not a bad thing to stop having sex. It doesn’t make me a bad person. I’ve been honest with the girl. The girl wants the same thing I do. What’s wrong with that?”

Roman:
I have no idea. I don’t know why I didn’t think it and I can tell you now, I wouldn’t have known how to achieve that invisible script. Instead, I just became very adept at finding girls who were 100% down to just fuck. Some of them would fuck and leave on their own and others would fuck and stay, but I wound up being able to avoid women who would say that they’re totally cool with being casual but are obviously looking for something—

Tucker:
So, you ended up fucking a bunch of terrible women, then, probably. By accident. The ones who are just down for sex were really cool, great girls. They were just down for sex?

Roman:
You know what? Most of them wound up being girls I was already friends with and they sort of knew who I was and they were just sort of like, “I am not falling in love with you, no matter what happens.”

Tucker:
Oh. They would just use you as sort of life support for a dildo.

Roman:
Yeah. Right. They were just friends who I fucked. Other girls whom I met and established a purely sexual relationship with, some of them were terrible people but some girls whom I met and wanted me as their boyfriend, they were terrible people, too. There’s no…your attitude on sex does not, I have learned, wholly determine whether or not you are a quality individual. I think that you and I can both say that from experience. So, there were a couple of girls who I met and they were, like…totally down just for sex. They were looking for a boyfriend, they just understood that it couldn’t be me, and then we’d have sex for a couple of months and they were like, “So, I’m dating this guy. Not sure where it’s gonna go, but I would like to tell him that I’m not sleeping with anyone else, so we’re not gonna sleep together for a few weeks until I figure it out.” I’m like, “Alright.” Pull someone up from the JV.

Tucker:
Alright. So, what led you out of this stage? Was it just, like, what you talked about before?

Roman:
Sort of. I mean, it was that and also I was of an age at that point. By this time in my life, I’m twenty-five, twenty-six, and I went through one more relationship. A girl cheated on me with her ex. I did knock him around a little bit, not really because I cared that much—

Tucker:
Wait, you went and beat this dude up?

Roman:
No. Maybe. Yes. Maybe. I mean…

Tucker:
I’m laughing so much because you’re such a cuddly teddy bear, a. And b, you can’t fight at all.

Roman:
That’s not true.

Tucker:
You’re just bigger than other dudes. I would choke you out so fucking fast, dude.

Roman:
Well, you have a lot more experience at this point in life.

Tucker:
Yeah. But I’m not some great fighter. Guys who can fight can whip my ass. So, like—

Roman:
Okay. But what I was saying is that you probably have 100 to 200 more hours of fight practice under your belt. At that point, I had done a little gekido at that point, so I knew some striking. But that was the only time in my life I ever actually played around with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu until I realized I don’t like getting choked. I know this is surprising. People look at me and they’re like, “There’s a dude who likes to get choked.” Sometimes, under the right circumstances, but not by men and not from behind. I just don’t like getting choked into unconsciousness.

Tucker:
You’ve got to get good so you can defend the choke, Roman.

Roman:
Anyway, I did knock this guy around a little bit. I gave him every opportunity – but here’s why. I’ll tell you why. This girl I was dating, she was like, “Hey. My ex just reached out to me. He really needs people in his life. I want to just be friends with him. Nothing’s gonna happen.” And I was like, “Okay.” She and I were hanging out. He came over to my apartment with her. She was over and he came over with a couple of his friends.

Tucker:
Oh. He was cuckolding you under your nose.

Roman:
No. He broke bread in my house, and then the first time they ever hooked up, she’s like, “I hooked up with Mike,” and I’m like, “Well, look what you’ve done! Now I have to beat up this guy with whom I’ve established a relationship!” And I didn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t really violent. It was very methodical. I was, “I just have to…Look what you’ve done! This is not my fault.”

Tucker:
You sound like an abusive boyfriend. “Look what you’ve made me do!” I can’t believe you. So, that led you out of that. After beating a dude up.

Roman:
Yeah. I got out of that relationship and I was like, “You know what?” I did some self-analysis of myself and I was like, “I’m not actually that upset about this.” I guess I wasn’t really that into the relationship. I sort of beat him up on principle, if there is such a thing, but—

Tucker:
It’s what a Paladin would do, right?

Roman:
It is! You have to right the wrongs, and when someone wrongs you, you must retaliate. It’s a very Jedi concept. So, I just was single for a little while and was sort of casually dating, not really sleeping with a bunch of people, and then I met a great girl, wound up in a great relationship for a while, and just was enjoying being in a partnership. We moved in together and it went on for like a year, and then it ended, as many things do. So, from there, I guess I had interspersed periods of being single and sort of being a whore vs. being in a relationship and being committed. Then, that up and down, until I met my wife.

Tucker:
So, let’s talk about this. What do you think the benefits of being in a committed relationship are vs. being sort of single and sleeping with a lot of girls? Because what I always say is that both have their place and both are great, but just not at the same time and it kind of depends on where you are in your life.

Roman:
Yeah. I think one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given was that everything in life, every change you make, every decision, ultimately comes down to exchanging one set of complications and benefits for another. I think that’s true, you know?

Tucker:
Everything’s a trade-off. No doubt.

Roman:
The drawbacks of being in a relationship are that, first of all, you usually can’t bang other broads. I mean, that’s a thing. They don’t really like when you do that.

Tucker:
“Bang other broads.” You’re definitely from Long Island.

Roman:
I’m bringing that word back, bro. I’m bringing broads back. It’s more of a Brooklyn thing, but broads, yes. So, you can’t really sleep with other dames, but I think the largest drawback or seemingly, the largest drawback is the lack of freedom, right? You now have this other person to answer to. You can’t just make decisions, usually. You have to consider this other person, right? It’s not like, “I’m gonna go out tonight.” It’s, “What are we doing?” So, there was definitely that. The benefits of being in a relationship for me at that age – I was twenty-five when I got in that first relationship, I really enjoyed having a really good friend around all the time. It was really nice to be able to spend a lot of time with someone. I thought that when I cohabitated with someone, I really had this internal fear that I would get sick of someone, but it turned out every girl I’ve lived with, I’ve never gotten to the point where I’m like, “I’m just sick of you and I don’t want you around.” I’ve come to realize that my status as a true psychological extrovert allowed me to have someone around at all times and not ever feel the need for true solitude. But I liked having someone. It was cool, always having someone to do something with. You’ve got a buddy. You’ve got a friend. You have a partnership. You have someone to go to movies with. You have someone to help you…I cook, you clean kind of thing, and at the time, I was twenty-five, so finances were an issue. Cohabitating was certainly less expensive, and you never have to worry about a plus one to a wedding. You just…if you’re in a relationship, and I think that’s a real thing, ‘cause if you’re in a relationship that means something, someone’s always got your back. Someone always wants what’s best—

Tucker:
Right. If it’s a good relationship.

Roman:
Right. Someone always wants what’s best for you as a person, what’s best for the two of you as a couple, and over time, you may realize that what you want and what they want is different, but yeah.

Tucker:
When it’s working, it’s the same or it’s pretty close.

Roman:
Right.

Tucker:
So, let’s circle this back to that sixteen-year-old kid, right? Or even the nineteen-year-old. It doesn’t really matter. A young guy who is nowhere near where he wants to be with women, right? How important do you think…I know it played a huge role in your life. How important is…I don’t want to say a physical transformation, but in your experience, is there any way around being in pretty solid shape, at least? Obviously, not a body builder. You don’t even necessarily have to be like me. Not that I’m some paragon of strength, but is there any way around that? Is there any way to hack being in shape?

Roman:
I knew you were gonna ask that and I would have loved to prepare an answer. I wish that I knew.

Tucker:
I don’t think there is, to be honest.

Roman:
I think that it’s possible that there is, but it’s such a handicap that there’s no reason to do it, because the benefits of being in shape – just the benefits in terms of female interaction, are so vast that the cost-to-benefit ratio in terms of what it takes to get reasonably fit…Because I think this is the scale, right? It’s like, here’s when I was in absolute best shape and then here’s a complete fat piece of shit, and here’s where I was when I was here. Just going from here to here made all the difference in the world. Just getting to the point where you’re in what we consider, in America, to be acceptable physical condition – I don’t care where your starting point it, it’s not that. If you weigh 400 pounds, it’s gonna take you a year and a half. If you want to spend a year and a half getting in shape so you can just have—

Tucker:
The time’s gonna pass anyway. What are you gonna do with it?

Roman:
Right. Exactly right. So, I think that there might be a way around it if you have a lot of money or something else, a lot of musical talent.

Tucker:
Okay. That actually brings up a good point. Yes. There is a way to get around it, but it requires such outsized skill or ability or talent in some other area that it’s almost impossible for the average guy to really consider that a viable option.

Roman:
Fair enough. Absolutely. So, yeah. I don’t see any reason that you would. Just get in reasonable shape. The further along you are on that scale of physical excellence, I think there’s a point of diminishing returns, but I definitely think the easier it’s gonna be. It played a huge part in the success that I had. I’ve seen a lot of guys be very successful without being in amazing shape, and I’ve also seen it be a hindrance to some people.

Tucker:
Being in too good of shape?

Roman:
Yeah. So, actually, we should sidebar and talk about this quickly. So, what I realized is that traditional – even though I didn’t really know what game was at the time ‘cause I hadn’t read Neil’s book, I did find that most of the tools in that particular toolset were completely ineffective and actually counterproductive for me as I tried them during my experience. Here’s what I have found. People are not interested in people who confirm their expectations. Instead, what people really want – and I talked about this in our other podcast, because it works for business as well as personal development. I think, in general, what makes people interesting is dichotomy, right? So, you sort of touched on it earlier when you talked about me at camp. They think I’m gonna be this meathead and then it’s like, alright, played D&D and went to a good school and he’s well-spoken and empathetic. I found that when I went to bars, particularly on Long Island, and looking the way that I did, women expected me to be a meathead or expected me to be overly cocky or anything else. Not confirming those expectations made them interested. When I tried negging girls, all it did was…girls would look at me and they were like, “Good-looking, jacked, probably an asshole.” So, what would happen is that I would do these things that would then confirm their suspicions of me. That’s not interesting. But when I was, like, a good-looking, jacked guy and they looked closer and I was wearing a Gryffindor teacher, they’d be like—

Tucker:
“Wait a minute. Hold on.”

Roman:
They’re like, “That’s…that’s a what?”

Tucker:
Yeah. “That’s unusual.”

Roman:
So, they’d come over and they’re like, “You read Harry Potter?” and I’m like, “Fuck yeah, I read Harry Potter.” First of all, it’s an easy conversation starter, so I think that being in too good of shape and then acting like you’re the shit because of it is…because it definitely makes people think of you a certain way. Like, you see a guy and you go, “Oh, steroids,” or whatever. So, yeah. It definitely creates a set of expectations that you then have to work against. I think that the reason that having traditional game was so effective for Neil, you know, Neil was short, skinny, bald, kind of nerdy-looking even when he dresses like a rock star. You don’t expect him to come at you with this crazy amount of confidence. Then, he does and all of a sudden, you’re taken aback. So, I think that all of those things – then again, there are women who are going to look at you and maybe expect you to be an asshole and then you are an asshole and it’s still interesting to them for whatever reason. But I think that for the masses, the further from their expectations you can be, the better.

Tucker:
Usually, right. So, in my opinion, I think you’re exactly right, that for most guys that are doing poorly with women, the first thing they can do that will create the most amount of return the quickest is not just get in shape, but get in shape as an overall strategy of making sure that there’s nothing visual about you that’s repelling, you know? I’m not saying you need to look like Roman, but you should not be a fat slob. You should dress decently well. You should be clean. You should be groomed decently well, whatever. Let’s say after some guy who’s a total loser with women, let’s say he cleans up his act, he looks basically like a normal dude. He’s not in amazing shape, but he’s not fat anymore, right? What, in your opinion, is the next thing or set of things that that guy, that kid can do to help him be way better with women? Here’s the better question. What are the things you did that you think had the most return, aside from body/visual type things?

Roman:
Yeah. I think that just becoming a more interesting person and then finding a way to talk about the things that make you interesting.

Tucker:
So, how do you become more interesting? Because I know that’s exactly the question that I’m gonna get.

Roman:
Right. Do more shit! Think about the top five things that you think are fucking cool. What’s cool to you? Is surfing cool? Learn how to surf. Is playing guitar cool? Learn how to play guitar. In college, I did a little standup and improv. I think that makes me interesting. Do that. Whatever interests you and whatever you think cool people do, find one of those things and do that. That’s really important.

Tucker:
Yes. Absolutely. So, be interesting means doing interesting things, right? Now, that’s a little different than being able to talk about them, so how to you learn how to talk about this?

Roman:
I think this is really important and nobody ever talks about this. When I was running a gym in my early- to mid-twenties, I had to train my employees how to close. The most important thing is learning how to redirect, right? Because there are, like, five big things you want to touch on when you’re trying to sell someone a gym, right? Five big sales points. So, whatever they ask, you need to figure out a way to get it back to one of those points so you can sell it. The same thing happens in dinner conversation. Let’s say you go out and you’re talking to one. You want to figure out the way that you can get to one of those five points that they want to talk to you about yourself, right? So, let’s say you travel a lot. Let’s say you’ve been to Thailand and India and a lot of cool places. Women find that shit fascinating, right? So, maybe you’re wearing a bracelet that you got in Thailand, right? So, you talk to a woman and maybe she’s wearing a bracelet. You just compliment her, “Oh, I really like your bracelet.” And then naturally, she’s gonna say, “Oh, I really like yours. Where’d you get it?” And then you can just go, “Oh, I got this in Thailand. I was there with my buddies for, like, three weeks.” And then all of a sudden, you have created a situation wherein you get to talk about this interesting thing about you. Obviously, you don’t talk too long. You be interested in her. But that’s peacocking, right? It’s wearing this one item that gives you a reason to talk about something interesting. One that always works really well for me is my tattoos. I’ve got a tattoo of a semicolon on my wrist, so I got that when my first e-product was really successful. One of the comments that I got about it was that it wasn’t just good fitness information. It was really well-written. When I was at Cornell, I had a professor who always said that my use of the semicolon stuck out my freshman year. He pulled me aside and he told me about it. So, in my head, semicolons and good writing and understanding how to use punctuation are important. So, I got this and every time I was at a bar from then after, girls would ask me about it and I had this cool story to tell them, you know? I’m not saying go get a tattoo or go find a bracelet. My point is, understand what people are going to say and understand how to get it back to a way to tell them something interesting about yourself. Especially if you’re a young guy, right? “Oh, are you going to school? What are you studying?” All you need to do is figure out the five to ten questions every fucking person is going to ask in that first conversation or on the first date, and then figure out a script to get back from your answer to that question to something else you want to say that makes you interesting. It can even be a symbol, like…I travel. So, you’re talking to a girl at a bar. Conversation has been going well, and you say, “Oh, so you like to travel or?” You can just ask, “Do you like to travel?” Everyone likes to travel. They’re going to say yes. They’re going to tell you a story, and then they’re gonna be like, “How about you? You like to travel?” And now you get to tell your Thailand story about how you fucking went to the beach where that Leonardo DiCaprio movie was filmed or whatever else. The most important thing is think about five qualities that you want to highlight and then find a way to gear the conversation back to them. That’s all you need to do to be interesting.

Tucker:
I totally agree. The only other thing I would add to that is what I usually tell guys is to develop a skill where you can bring this stuff out of other people, because even…there are a lot of guys, I promise you, who are gonna hear that and say, “Oh, there’s nothing interesting about me.” And the thing I always tell them, “Even if there’s nothing interesting about you, you can seem very interesting to another person if you ask them questions about themselves and really get them to start talking about themselves.” I always tell them the game that I like to play is even if I don’t want to talk to this person, they’re boring, whatever, my goal is to find out what’s interesting or unique or compelling about that person. Even the most boring people on Earth have at least one or two things about them that are like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” So, my goal is to find that and usually, if I stick to that goal, then I get them talking and then going on and on about themselves and what invariably happens is that they think I’m super interesting and I’m so funny and I’m so charismatic and I haven’t done anything except pay attention to them and ask them questions.

Roman:
Right. That’s huge. I mean, people typically love to talk about themselves. So, if you give them a forum and a—

Tucker:
And an audience.

Roman:
And an audience, and also a script. You ask them questions.

Tucker:
Yes. And pay attention. Don’t ask them questions and then look over their shoulder or something, obviously.

Roman:
Right. One thing to consider is that the things that you think are weird or lame about you, those are very interesting. For example, I can tell you that the fact that I read Harry Potter or that I have a Lord of the Rings tattoo or that I played Dungeons and Dragons, I can tell you a number of instances where that’s somehow come up in a conversation, and I mean by that, I figured out a way to bring it up in a conversation without just bringing it up. It’s always seemed very interesting to women for a couple of reasons. One, it is unusual, but two, it is unusual for a guy that looks like me to have done those things. So, the things that you think are weird are not. If you fucking play violin, find a way to work that into conversation, because I guarantee it’s cool. To anyone who doesn’t play an instrument, people who play instruments are fucking super cool. It doesn’t matter if it’s corny. It’ll look cool. So, the things that make you different, the things that you feel weird about, if you’re seventeen, I guarantee by the time you’re twenty-seven, man, those are gonna be the things that get you laid. Those are gonna be the things that, in a conversation with a woman, it’s gonna be the thing that makes her fall in love with you and you wind up, maybe, getting married with the girl of your dreams, like I did.

Tucker:
Yeah. There you go. Actually, I think that brings it on a pretty good note. We’ve been on for, like, an hour and a half.

Join the Mating Grounds Mailing List

Get the voicemail number to ask us your questions directly:

SHARE THIS ARTICLE