As guys, we can be our own worst enemy sometimes. I just had this question from a reader:

I have finally come to the realisation that I know enough of this stuff. What I haven’t mastered is the action step. And I don’t know why. Whenever I see an attractive woman, I know I have a lot to offer, but regardless of what I think, I still don’t actually do anything. It drives me spare to be honest. How do you connect learning and doing?

I fall into this trap too sometimes; I see an attractive woman, yet I don't approach her. Call it approach anxiety, fear of the unknown, not knowing what to say, limiting beliefs, lack of confidence... It doesn't matter what you call it, the question is: what to do about it.

So here are a bunch of ideas that work for me at overcoming or avoiding approach anxiety/reluctance:

Start Wherever You're At

Don't beat yourself up just because you don't approach every woman you find attractive. I don't either, but I am committed to personal growth and to improving my social and communication skills on a consistent basis, and that's what gets me results. Start wherever you're at, and keep working on your social skills until you can talk to absolutely anyone. Most guys don't even bother with this stuff; they just settle for whatever comes their way. So just by reading this you're already streets ahead.

Become A Guy Who Takes Action

Start thinking of yourself as a guy who takes action generally. Where others hesitate, you act. Be decisive, even if you're unsure. The way to overcome indecision is to take action, and learn from the outcome. No matter whether it's favorable or unfavorable, you always learn something when you take action. Drop the perfectionism and need to get things right all the time, which are unattractive qualities anyway. Just Do It. Take action in all areas of your life, not just when you see a woman you want to talk to.

Take Improv or Acting classes; you'll have fun, learn to act on your impulses, and meet women. I met so many women taking acting classes last year that I still don't have time to get back to them all, let alone to approach strangers I probably have nothing in common with.

Start taking action in life generally, and stop worrying about approaching women. Work your way up to that later. Become a man with an interesting life and you'll start attracting women to you instead of having to approach them.

Talk To Everyone You Meet

Social skills don't just materialize instantly when an attractive woman walks by. If you want to be ready to charm the potential girl of your dreams, practice with everyone you meet. Start talking to everyone from shop assistants to bus drivers. Anyone in the service industry will often appreciate a chat in an otherwise tedious job. The trick is to wait until they're half-way through serving you, then ask "How are you going today?". Be genuine about it. Sign up to my free confidence building course, which covers activities like this in a structured program with more detail.

Take a genuine interest in the people you meet regardless of how physically attractive they are and start getting to know people on a deeper level. Everyone has something interesting to offer. The more friends you have, the more social proof you have available to you; and women notice the way you treat other people. Female friends you might not want to date have other friends you might find attractive. Get super social.

Learn To Read Body Language

A woman's body language gives you cues to whether she's approachable or not. Is her posture open and inviting, or closed and defensive? Is she laughing and having fun, or is she looking for the door? Rather than setting yourself up for failure with women who are taken or disinterested, learn to identify when a women is sending out indicators of interest. Approach women who appear receptive so that the odds are in your favor. This stuff comes naturally to many women, but not necessarily to guys so read books on body language and check out programs like Body Language For Meeting Women from David DeAngelo.

Break It Down

Social interactions occur in stages. You learned the current social skills in your personality step-by-step early on; you were just too young to remember. Don't expect to walk up to a gorgeous woman and jump straight into bed (or a relationship, or marriage, or whatever you want) with her on the first attempt. There is a pattern to meeting and getting to know people. It's a game, and you need to learn how to play by the rules. Your goal is to become unconsciously competent at it, so it happens naturally. In order for that to happen, you need to start by consciously mastering and practicing each step.

It's like learning scales on a piano; at first, it's tedious and difficult. Discouraging even. After a while, you can do it without thinking. Later, you're playing beautiful music. Keep practicing and one day it will appear effortless like you've always been a natural at it.

If you want a guidebook to the process, I recommend The Art of Approaching by Joseph Matthews. Also check out my free confidence building course, which includes step-by-step exercises on starting conversations with strangers.

Remember That You're The Prize

We've been conditioned through a post-feminist upbringing and an onslaught of male-oriented pornography to put women on a pedestal and believe that they are the prize. They're not. They're just human beings like you and I. In fact if you look at the differences in our reproductive capacity, it's clear that women choose who to mate with, not men. That means that men are the prize.

Everything you've been taught that makes you become a scared, needy guy around women is backwards and contrary to your basic biology. Forget the feminist nonsense you're heard: Women need us for survival, reproduction, sexual and social fulfillment. It's hardwired into them. You are the prize. Take that woman down off the pedestal and start treating her as an equal. When she's honest with you, she'll agree that she doesn't really want to be up there either. She can't relate to you when you put yourself beneath her, and it's a long way for her to fall. She's just a flesh and blood human you know, not a super-being.

Treat Everything As A Practice Run

It's time to stop taking life so seriously. You're here for a fun time, not a long time. One thing I find helpful is to treat every social interaction as a practice run. I was invited to a party a couple of weeks ago where I didn't know many people; a situation which to be honest makes me a little nervous. So I decided to go with the intention simply of practicing some new social skills to have fun. Nothing more than that. I ended up hooking up with a really pretty girl. All because I didn't pressure myself and simply set out to practice joking around and being more fun.

Don't invest your personal self-esteem in the outcome of any interaction with a woman. Learn to divorce yourself from outcomes. Drop your attachments and expectations. If you're someone who puts a lot of pressure on yourself, adopt the philosophy that everything in your life is simply a practice run. Nobody else needs to know. Approaching women, job interviews, conflict situations, sales presentations, stressful work events, whatever. It's all just practice. Oh, but I wouldn't recommend telling your wife this on your wedding day...

Train Yourself To Approach

With enough repetitive practice, you can hard-wire any response into your system, including approaching women you want to talk to. The trick is to practice practice practice in environments where you feel comfortable approaching to start with so you're not nervous. I don't know about you, but for me noisy nightclubs do not qualify.

A couple of weeks ago I was on a personal development course and I saw a pretty girl sitting at a table with two others. It was right at the start when people were particularly receptive to getting to know each other and before I knew it I found myself walking towards them and saying "Hi! How are you guys doing?" in a friendly tone without even thinking about it. The attractive girl turned out to have a boyfriend... and an attractive girl friend I ended up hooking up with two weeks later. But I wasn't thinking that at the time; I was just thinking "Pretty girl... approach.", and even that was mostly subconscious.

Take A Wing Man (Or Group)

If you're serious about approaching women in places like bars and clubs, take a wing man with you. Simply being with someone else gives you social proof, along with a comrade to go back to commiserate and laugh with when things go wrong. You don't have to be a dufus about it and make a scene like in Top Gun; it's just that you won't feel like a loser if you're not there by yourself. It's much easier to be in a fun frame of mind, and to maintain it in the face of adversity, when you're with a supportive buddy. Even better, go out with a mixed group of guys and girls simply to have fun. Learn to be the source of fun in your own social group, and other women will pick up on this. You're much more attractive when you're having fun, and meeting other women in the same environment will feel more like a friendly chat than a scary approach.

Go Do Activities Which Women Do

It's no coincidence that the activities that I recommend to boost your confidence in Confident Man all get you interacting with a lot of women in environments where they are generally receptive. Learn to dance. Go to a yoga class. Take night classes in a language. Learn to play music. Get into art. Build an interesting life for yourself doing activities that women are also into, and before you know it you'll be meeting more women than you'll know what to do with. Follow the Confident Man program and you'll be too busy having a great life to worry about having to approach women cold.

Heal The Wound That Rejection Triggers

Approach anxiety is generally about the fear of rejection. More specifically, the fear of the way you'll feel if a woman you're interested in isn't interested in you. This is partly hard-wired into your biology, and partly the result of your emotional baggage. If you have long-standing emotional wounds around rejection and/or abandonment in your subconscious, they're likely to manifest as a reluctance to approach women. Start doing the hard work of healing your emotional wounds and not only will you be more comfortable approaching women, you'll be happier and more fulfilled generally. This is really important, but most dating e-books don't even cover it; there's a whole section (Part 2) on this in The Confident Man Program Guide.

Don't Bother!

Cold approach pick-up is hard, especially when you're first learning to do it. Chances are there are women in your existing extended social circle who you would be interested in if you were to meet them. Take time developing your existing relationships with men and women, and go to the parties and events that they invite you to. Become a social hub yourself and begin organizing dinners, movie nights and parties. Whenever you meet people through mutual friends, you have instant social proof and a higher level of general trust to begin with. This is much easier than taking pot shots at random strangers and you'll still meet plenty of interesting women.

Try Internet Dating Instead

Like many guys, Dave M. was too petrified to approach women in person, so he chose to master Internet Dating instead. Most guys fail at internet dating because the volume of contacts that women get from men with poor social skills is overwhelming. You don't have to come face-to-face with rejection on the Internet, but neither does any other guy so there's a lot more competition. The trick is to know how to write an authentic engaging profile and contact emails that make you stand out from the crowd. To learn how to do this so you can make it work in your favor, I recommend you get Dave's Insider Internet Dating program.

Never Give Up

I get knocked down. But I get up again. Eventually.

Never give up on yourself. Take a break for a while if necessary and focus on other things, but stay committed to your personal growth. That's what this is really all about. Growth takes time and energy. You couldn't possibly implement everything I've mentioned here in one hit. Break it down into steps, and celebrate each and every success you have along the way, large or small. Enjoy the journey and aim to have fun no matter what happens or how long it takes. You will get there, and along the way you'll build a confidence and belief in yourself that even the worst possible "rejection" from a woman can't shatter. You may even begin to enjoy the challenge...

Graham Stoney

Graham Stoney

I struggled for years with low self-esteem, anxiety and a lack of self-confidence before finding a solution that really worked. I created The Confident Man Program to help other men live the life of their dreams. I also offer 1-on-1 coaching via Skype so if you related to this article contact me about coaching.


dave · November 19, 2012 at 12:38 am

Mr. Stoney - Your responses are really honest. You have to pass by a LOT of pickup artists school ads to get to yours. I do not get the man-hating part and I do not understand the anger part on my end because I happen to disagree with you.
I will say very nicely that I do not understand how any guy would want to be a little dog chasing a meatwagon down the street. I get approached from time to time, but I have always believed that I am a good person.
Maybe the numbers show that men are approaching less, maybe an attempt to gain more value for men?

dave · September 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Mr. Stoney - We can't ALL sound "kinda angry with women" to you! For whatever reason, you have mastered a number of skills which keep you involved in this. I cannot speak for Mr. F---' kem , but our dads taught us how to be polite and respectful to women, not because they were inferior or weak, but because it was the right thing to do.
My life has been better since I gave up trying to be someone else ( nobody's "fault" ,
so don't say I feel entitled and blame others) and I wonder, from time to time, how I got here. I was fortunate, I never approached any of them, so there are no "wounds" to be healed. You have just found this knack of being glib enough not to care. I just would not be treated that way. I give you LOTS of credit!

    Graham Stoney

    Graham Stoney · September 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Hey Dave,
    Yes I definitely think the journey of building confidence is about becoming more authentic rather than less. When we let go of needing to be a certain way, we get to be free.
    Thanks for your comment, Graham.

Moxie101 · May 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm

One of the best ways to overcome reluctance is also to be in a giving mind-set. If your motivation is to be fun and happy and you don't want anything, then you have nothing at stake.

    Graham Stoney

    Graham Stoney · May 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Yes, absolutely; focus on what you can contribute in creating fun for other people instead of on what they think of you.

dave · March 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Mr. Stoney - There you go again! This lunacy seems to work for you, and I give you your props for that. If you find "anger" in that ( and in Mr. F___kem's remarks) ,then you are misreading. I do not think that good men need this runaround that a handful of guys seem to flourish in ( the angry guys are the ones who beat up the women since Mr. F___kem and I never get close enough) if exhibiting kindness and a healthy attitude gets you nowhere.

    Graham Stoney

    Graham Stoney · March 25, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I get that you don't like the article, yet you keep coming back to comment on it. What's going on for you here?

Matt · March 11, 2012 at 11:24 am

I agree, Graham.

Based on the other comments on this post, it's easy to see that there are a lot of men out there carrying a lot of hostility about themselves. That could have been born in numerous places across their lives but exploring it and eradicating it from their lives would certainly be the optimal first step toward living a happier life!


dave · January 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Here! This one is easy! This is a duplicate comment ( you will not print opposing views anyway ) and yes, i have said it before, in many ways, already!

    Graham Stoney

    Graham Stoney · January 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I'm not sure what you're getting at here; I approved and replied to your last two comments. I'm not afraid of publishing or discussing opposing views. In fact, I welcome it: let's discuss your views on the forums and see how we can help other guys and ourselves.

dave · January 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Mr. Stoney - You have REALLY missed the boat. The guys, like you, who enjoy this horrible game, MUST find ways to validate your selves by supporting the one-sided rules that exist. Do you need a label called "manhating" to rally against and tell good, respectable men to "hang in there" for more abuse?
You do not even know if Mr. F---k'em was rejected! He could have dumped the women based upon her reaction to his being a just plain, good person. When do the women get to take our test for THEM? Oh, never? Let me guess, that does not bother YOU at all. Keep taking those tests and I hope that you are truly happy in going through all of that. It is all yours!

    Graham Stoney

    Graham Stoney · January 29, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Hey Dave. You sound angry. I can see this article has triggered something in you and I encourage you to explore why... What's going on for you?

F__k 'em · January 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm

An interesting article. You mentioned feminism, I think the way that men are second-class citizens is one reason men are reluctant to approach women. Whenever I hear that a woman has done something that a man would get in trouble for (domestic violence, sexual assault), I instantly can't help but think that all women are bitches. I must be rather attractive because I often have women look at me when I go out (and I don't go out often because I have anxiety), but because we men are discriminated against in society, I've decided I'm not going to look for a life partner and that women are really only good for sex. If there really was equality I'd be perfectly happy to have a serious relationship. Why does the world have to be so man-hating?

    Graham Stoney

    Graham Stoney · January 4, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I hear ya. You sound kinda angry with women. Perhaps you've been hurt in the past; I think a lot of guys have. The challenge is to avoid projecting past hurts inflicted by one woman (or perhaps many women) onto all others; when we do that it becomes self-fulfilling. Just because one woman rejects us doesn't mean the next one necessarily will, yet our brains are wired to make such generalisations automatically. It can take conscious effort to work against; and if we've been wounded badly we need emotional healing to get back on track. It's true that we all get discriminated against in some ways; child-thinking complains "it's not fair!" whereas adult thinking says "how do I make this work in my favor?". We all build an artificial view of the world in our heads, and then find evidence to validate it. I encourage you to drop the "If only..." thinking, and look for evidence that the world isn't man-hating; or more specifically, doesn't hate you. It's just giving you a test.

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