I often hear women giving guys who struggle when it comes to meeting women the well-intentioned but deadly advice:
Just be yourself.
Any guy seeking advice on meeting women knows that this just doesn't work. After all, you've been “being yourself” your whole life, and look where it's got you so far. Given that so many women offer this nugget of advice so frequently, it's worth looking at why it fails in practice:
Who Are You Really Anyway?
Who you are is a combination of your core self, and all the learned behaviours that you've acquired since you were conceived. Together, these make up your personality. Of all the animals on the planet, humans have the largest capacity for learning, and hence the highest proportion of learned behaviour in our personalities. Your personality is what other people experience when they meet you, but it's not really who you are at your core.
Given that most of your personality is learned behaviour, if you are sufficiently motivated and persistent you can learn new behaviours which get you better results; especially in your interactions with other people. If you feel like a failure when it comes to women, you need to realise that they problem isn't you; the problem is the way you have learned to behave and communicate.
All Communication Skills Are Learned
The way you communicate is the most noticeable behaviour in your personality. The only access that others have to your core self, including what goes on inside you and your general persona, is through your communication. Nobody else can dive into you and know what's really going on directly; the way you communicate is key to connecting with other people and being attractive to them.
Now here's the important point to note: All communication skills are learned. When you were born, you couldn't even speak. You even had to learn to talk, and it took years. Reading and writing took even longer. Whether you made a conscious effort at it or you just picked up the habits of the people around you, you learned it. Perhaps you learned powerful styles of communication which allowed you to expose your brilliance to the world and connect magnetically with other people. If so, you're probably not reading this. More likely, you learned styles of communication that involved avoiding the pain and discomfort of having your core self exposed to the potential ridicule of other people, who were sometimes jealous and wanted to shut you down.
For example, all people love to have fun, so at your core you're a fun guy. But if you've learned to be nervous and inhibited around other people because you've been hurt in the past, your playful, fun, attractive core self isn't going to be showing up around the women you're interested in.
Or perhaps you lack confidence in social situations. Social interactions all result from learned behaviour too, and with enough study and practise of social dynamics, you can learn more productive behaviours that give you the confidence and outcomes you want.
You Are Not Who You Think You Are
Given that most of our personality is made up of behaviours and communication skills that we learned before we were old enough to even remember, we're left with the illusion that we are somebody we are not. Poor self-image and low self-esteem are all based on our own negative assessment of the illusion we project to others, which lacks integrity and isn't really who we are at our core. In addition, we are not static; we all have the capacity to learn, grow, and add whole new dimensions to our true selves.
When we lack confidence, we don't realise that the persona we project isn't our true self. This is why guys like Neil Strauss who learn the pick-up game end up being in greater integrity (and much more attractive) at the end of it; because they shatter their self-perception myths and discover that they aren't the limited guy they thought they were. My favourite quote from Neil is:
“You have everything you need inside you; you just don't know it yet”.
In essence, what the women who suggest “being yourself” really want is access to the true self that you don't normally expose, because you've been wounded or shamed for doing so at some point in the past. You've learned to act like someone else to compensate, but that act lacks integrity with your core... and women can sense it. It makes them run a mile.
So What's The Answer Then?
The answer is to develop the communication skills and the confidence you need to expose your true self to the world, including the shining brilliance along with your perceived faults and flaws that you normally keep hidden. This is much more powerful than walking around behaving the same as you've always done and hoping that you'll somehow attract a compatible woman's attention.
Ironically, once you can communicate who you really are with confidence, the previously useless advice you were given on being yourself becomes both true, and redundant, all at the same time.
There are lots of ways to develop these skills and all of them involve taking action and stepping out of your comfort zone. The place I'd recommend you start is the program in Confident Man.