Three Easy Steps to the Perfect First Date

I was talking to a friend a few months ago who said he wanted to start doing more fun activities on his first dates with women. Seems like a good idea, right?

Wrong. When you’re on a date with a woman, the goal is not to have fun. It’s to make a connection. And every second you spend looking at or engaged with something else is a second you’re not engaging and connecting with her.

Once you realize this, you’ll see that trying to do something original and fun is not just unnecessary, it’s counter-productive.

So, what’s the fastest way to make a connection?
  1. Meet for a drink and sit at a 90-degree angle to her. Have her meet you at a bar or lounge that is not too loud, i.e. not a sports bar or a nightclub. It doesn’t have to be a fancy or trendy place, but it should have soft lighting and a nice ambiance. Get there early enough to sit at the corner of the bar, or if that’s not available, find a table and move the other chair in such a way so that she’ll be sitting at a 90 degree angle to you. This is important because sitting face-to-face across a table is awkward because it feels like an interview, and there’s a table in the way, making physical contact more difficult. Sitting side-by-side at the bar can work in a pinch, but you have to make sure to turn your body to partially face hers, otherwise you’ll both have to crane your necks to look at each other. (You have her meet you there not just so you can get there before her to choose the right spot to sit, but also because she might not be comfortable having someone she doesn’t know picking her up at her house. Pick a place in her neighborhood if she doesn’t have a car.)
  2. Look her in the eye and have an intelligent conversation. “Intelligent conversation” may very well be a topic for a whole series of blog posts, but the crucial detail here is “look her in the eye”. Most men don’t do this, and that’s why they fail. You can’t connect with someone if you don’t look them in the eye. Eyes are the window to the soul. “Intelligent conversation” doesn’t mean bore her with intellectual topics. Keep it light and fun. Don’t interrogate her with a bunch of questions, and don’t brag about yourself and your accomplishments like most guys do. It doesn’t really matter what you talk about as long as you’re not being creepy or boring. (Turn off your phone and give her your undivided attention. And just to be clear, this is not a staring contest. You can look away from her eyes every few seconds. But they should be your anchor point.)
  3. Hold her hand and escalate consensual physical contact from there. I don’t know what it’s like in other cities, but a lot of women in Seattle have told me how refreshing it is when a man holds their hand on the first date. Apparently, most men here are too passive to make any physical contact at all. Holding someone’s hand is not a creepy, aggressive move. No one has been sued or publicly shamed for sexual harassment because they held someone’s hand. I’ve held a woman’s hand within the first five minutes of meeting her. You’ve held someone’s hand within the first 5 seconds of meeting them, too. It’s called a handshake. With someone who likes you, you can hold their hand a little longer. If you need a pretext, act like you’re interested in her jewelry. Or hold her hand up against yours and say “Wow you’ve got long/short fingers. You’d be really good/bad at playing piano/basketball/whatever”. Gauge her reaction. If she pulls her hand away almost immediately, wait another 10-15 minutes before you try to hold her hand again. If she doesn’t pull her hand back, maybe give her a hand massage.
Where you take it from there is up to you and her. If she’s touching you back and leaning forward and giving you bedroom eyes, kiss her. If not, keep talking. The key is to pay attention to her body language and move things forward at the right pace. Don’t try to make anything happen or put pressure on her. Not only is a high-pressure approach sleazy and unethical, it’s also ineffective. Women aren’t attracted to desperation. But if you show her you’re not in a hurry to have sex on the first date, she’ll be a lot more likely to have sex with you on the second or third date (maybe even on the first date).

Why is this approach so effective?
    Because it’s how women connect – I didn’t know why this worked so well until I read the book You Just Don’t Understand – Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen. As she says “I found that at every age, the girls and women faced each other directly, their eyes anchored on each other’s faces. At every age, the boys and men sat at angles to each other and looked elsewhere in the room, periodically glancing at each other. They were obviously attuned to each other, often mirroring each other’s movements. But the tendency of men to face away can give women the impression they aren’t listening even when they are.” [1] When you go on a date with a woman, and you think it’s going well because you’re back at your place and you’re making out and then she says “I feel like I don’t know you well enough”, this is why. Because you didn’t connect.
    Because it’s low-pressure and low-commitment – asking her to go bowling, kayaking, or play racquetball invites a bunch of variables into the situation: she has to find the right outfit, she’s tired at the end of the day, she doesn’t want to sweat or grunt in front of you (at least until she knows you better). Dinner involves a lot of complicated distractions: what to order, dietary restrictions, table manners, who pays the bill, etc. When you say “Meet me for a drink”, there’s no awkward concerns about reservations or buying tickets. All she has to do is show up.
    Because it’s cheap, regardless of who pays – for the cost of one or two drinks, you can know right away if there’s a connection or not.
    It communicates confidence – Inviting a woman on a elaborate date says “I really like you so I feel like I need to impress you”. This kind of attitude is not a turn-on for women. “Meet me for a drink” says “I want to get to know you better first to find out if I like you” It sends the message that you know you’re fun and interesting and you don’t need dinner, live music, or any other fun activities to entice her into spending time with you.
    It’s distraction-free – Going to see live music may sound fun, but you won’t be able to talk to each other because the music will be too loud.
    It’s efficient – If you don’t have chemistry with them, you can find out in half-an-hour with minimal expense.

    “I’m an introvert and this is too intense for me” – I’m an introvert, too, so I understand your objection. Seriously, I hate going to bars and meeting people, and I get really nervous in social situations with strangers. I’ve even pretended to go to the bathroom to avoid getting in the elevator with co-workers! However, if you want to be successful with women, this is a skill you’re going to have to learn. Saying “I can’t because I’m introverted” is like saying “I can’t go to the gym because I’m too out of shape” or “I can’t go to yoga because I’m not flexible enough”. Of course it’s going to be uncomfortable at first, but you’ve got to deal with that initial discomfort if you want to improve. And also, this is someone you like, and who likes you. If you can’t look her in the eye and talk to her, how are you going to have sex with her? If you really can’t picture yourself sitting down, making eye contact, and having an intelligent conversation, then by all means do an activity like walking around the park first to create an initial rapport. But then make sure you follow it by going to a bar or coffee shop and doing the steps above. Practice making eye contact and having conversations in other low-pressure situations on a regular basis. It’s like anything else in life – the more you do it, the easier it gets.
    “This feels like a pick-up artist/seduction technique” – No, it’s not. This is not seduction or manipulation. It’s about creating the right environment for a connection to develop naturally, if the attraction is there. If you don’t like each other, no amount of eye gazing and deep conversation will get you into bed with each other. If, however, she is attracted to you, this is the fastest way to make a connection so she feels comfortable getting intimate with you. And for the record: there are plenty of women who enjoy having sex on the first date, and there’s nothing wrong with that. When you really internalize this fact and get comfortable with it, women will be more comfortable with you.
    “I’m not trying to be smooth and get women into bed” – It doesn’t matter what your end-goal is, your short-term goal is to make a connection. I did this with my girlfriend on our first date, and we didn’t sleep together until almost a month later. But we both knew we wanted a second date because we had allowed the connection to develop.
    “If I do this with someone I don’t like, then I just had a boring date” – I can’t guarantee that you’ll be attracted to each other, but I can guarantee you’ll save time by finding out right away rather than wasting time and money on a more elaborate date. And you’ll get valuable practice at the skill of looking people in the eye and having good conversations. The more comfortable it is for you, the more comfortable it’ll be for the next woman you meet. Because really, you need to be at least somewhat comfortable in your own skin and have minimal conversational skills for this to work.

So what happened to my friend who was thinking about planning more elaborate dates? He took my advice and simplified instead, and now he has a girlfriend. Last month, he took her to meet his family at Thanksgiving, and next month they’re going to Thailand together. Sounds like it’s getting serious.

 Stay sexy, my friends.

What Mexican Beach Vendors Can Teach You About Business, Dating, and Time Management

I was at the beach in beautiful Sayulita a couple weeks ago, and two vendors kept approaching me. One was selling hammocks and the other was renting umbrellas. Which do you think was doing more business?

The hammock seems like a much better value, right? Wouldn’t it be stupid to rent the umbrella when you can have the hammock for life?

Wrong. A hammock is useless without two trees to hang it between. So hammock-man isn’t selling me rest and relaxation. He’s selling me a project. But I’m not at the hobby store. I’m at the beach. I want to relax, and hammock-man is selling an incomplete experience.

Umbrella-man, on the other hand, not only puts up the umbrella for you, making sure to dig a deep enough hole so the umbrella doesn’t blow away, but he also adjusts it as the sun changes position and takes it down for you at the end of the day. That’s one less thing you have to deal with when you’re ready to go home. That is a complete experience!

So, what can we learn from this?

It’s often better to rent a complete experience than to buy a incomplete experience. I haven’t owned a car in years because I don’t particularly like driving and I don’t need the hassle of looking for parking and dealing with insurance and other maintenance costs. But keep in mind when comparing the difference in costs between two options, that you have to consider not just the monetary costs but also the impact on your time and your sanity. There’s a laundromat in my neighborhood that charges me double what all the others charge, but they pick up and drop off my laundry, and they do it in about 5 hours, while the others take at least a day. That is a complete experience, and I’m happy to pay for it because it saves me time and energy and the stress of worrying about whether or not I’m going to have clean sheets on my bed tonight.

If you’re a business, are you providing your customers with the complete experience? You’re not selling a product, you’re selling the experience that that product provides. It’s not that hard to segment your market, providing some customers with the complete experience (assembly, delivery, etc) and giving others the minimum. The laundromat I mentioned above has some customers who do their own laundry, and then other customers (like me) who are willing to pay for the complete experience.

Are you giving the people you date the complete experience? And I don’t just mean satisfying them sexually, though of course you should be doing that. Are you stimulating them intellectually and emotionally as well? Are you just assuming “I’m hot and good in bed, therefore women are going to love me” but you’re not really that interesting or fun outside of bed? Well then you’re providing an incomplete experience. Maybe some women will be okay with that. But most of them want the complete experience.

Stay sexy, my friends.

Are you being blinded by your own mind?

Today, I want to talk about limiting beliefs and how they can screw up your perception of reality.
Recently, I had a stupid limiting belief that this really hot girl that I met was a “nice” girl who wasn’t going to get down with me right away. I assumed she was going to make me at least play part of the boyfriend role, if not actually become her boyfriend.
The night we finally went out I scrolled up on my phone and saw a message saying “I’m very attracted to you. Not as a boyfriend, but maybe something more casual.”
The weird thing is I had read this message but I was so stuck in my limiting belief that I hadn’t really understood it. I had just assumed she was saying the opposite – that I was the one who was interested in something casual. Here she was literally telling me what she wanted and I was ignoring it and persisting in my limiting belief.
And this was a very stupid limiting belief, because obviously a woman can be hot, smart, and classy and still enjoy casual sex. Her self-esteem isn’t dependent on how much sex she has or doesn’t have, or on how long she makes you wait. (And if you need me to tell you that, you’re an idiot whose backward attitude is causing you to miss out on a lot of great sex). And it showed a lack of self-confidence on my part for assuming that I wasn’t attractive enough for her to only want me for one thing.
But sometimes limiting beliefs don’t just make you misinterpret things. They can actually make you blind to reality.
One time, when I was in a low state of confidence, I was walking through the mall with a female friend and she says “Wow, EVERY girl here is checking you out!”. Somehow, I was so wrapped up in my own self-loathing, that I hadn’t even noticed. How bizarre is that?
As a wise man once said “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” I was so stuck in a negative self-perception that my mind was blocking out anything that contradicted it.
On the other hand, a positive belief can work wonders for you. One time this girl came over to my house, we had a great time, and the next day I see that she had sent me a message saying “I’ll come over, but this time we’re not going to have sex”. Because I hadn’t seen the message (I don’t have internet at home or a smart phone), my mental frame of “Of course we’re going to have sex” was stronger than her mental frame of “I want to but I don’t think I should”. (And just to be clear: she consented, verbally and non-verbally).
So, how can you identify your limiting beliefs and recognize them for what they are? That’s a topic for next week.
Stay sexy, my friends.

If you’re not a feminist, you’re an idiot

Some men don’t realize what an incredibly awesome world we live in. They think it’s bad that women are free to have sex with whoever they want, and free to work for themselves and earn their own money.
News-flash, idiots! Every woman who’s free to have sex is one more potential sex partner for you. And every woman who’s earning her own money is a woman you don’t have to support.
Think back to 100 years ago, before women’s liberation. If you wanted to get laid, your choices were: go to a prostitute, or get married. In both cases, your sexual purchasing power was connected to your economic power.
Thanks to feminism, we don’t have to be married in order to get sex from just one woman. We can all be free agents and have sex with other free agents. I cannot understand why some men have a problem with this. More sex, plus economic freedom. What exactly is the downside?
In short, feminism is literally the best thing to happen to men since women. So, if you’re a man, and you’re not a feminist, you’re either gay, or you’re an idiot.
But as good as things are, we’ve got a lot further to go. By holding women back from career advancement, we’re not fully utilizing 50% of the population’s creativity. And every woman who’s having her sexuality repressed by stupid, slut-shaming, immature boys is a woman who’s less likely to have sex with intelligent sexy geeks like us.
So, as a mature, intelligent man, what can you do to help? You don’t need to start burning bras. Feminists don’t even do that anymore, and the ones who did probably never wanted you at the rally anyway. Instead, focus on the little things you can do in your day-to-day life.
  • Don’t tolerate slut-shaming. Every time you hear someone doing it, say “Dude, are you gay? Because what you just said contributes to a culture that makes it harder for all straight men to get laid. Cut that out.” (Not that gays can’t be feminists, but you get the idea)
  • Don’t accidentally slut-shame. If a woman has sex with you right away, call her the next day so she knows you still respect her. Because of course, you do still respect her, right? After all, YOU had sex on the first date and you still respect yourself, I assume.
  • Be aware of the ways women are being held back and/or objectified and stand up for them. A lot of times all it takes is someone to say “Hey, that’s not cool”. Be that guy.

Stay sexy, my friends.

Why Setting Goals Doesn’t Work

It’s the received wisdom that we should set goals and work toward them. But amidst all this positive thinking, no one ever talks about why it fails. Laziness and lack of motivation are obvious reasons, but I think another important reason is that people get focused on the milestone instead of the behavior that leads to it. They focus on the product instead of the process. Some examples:

“I just want to lose ten pounds”. This is a classic example of stupid goal setting that leads to stupid counter-productive behavior like juice fasts and other crash diets that destroy the muscle that was keeping your metabolism high, screw up your hunger-regulating hormones, ensuring that you’ll get fat faster in the future. Weight is a meaningless number, after all. If you told me you gained or lost 10 lbs in a month, the first thing I would ask you is how much of it was muscle.

“I wish I could get her phone number/get her to go out with me”. Ok, and then what? Getting a girl to go out with you is just a milestone in the whole process of attraction. A lot of guys focus on getting girls’ phone numbers, not realizing that that’s actually the easiest part. Believe me, I’ve learned this the hard way. I have a lot of numbers in my phone of extremely hot women, most of whom don’t text back. That’s ’cause I didn’t take the time to develop a real connection with them BEFORE I asked for their phone numbers, because I was stupidly focused on getting the phone number as though that was the magic key.

“I wish I had a million dollars”. Most people who win the lottery end up bankrupt and in debt within a year, because they haven’t learned how to be rich, successful people.

Instead, for each of your goals, you need to dig a little deeper and figure out what you REALLY want, and not just look at the outer signifiers or the milestones.

“I just want to lose ten pounds”. No, you don’t. You want to be a fit, healthy person. But that’s not a two-week project. It’s a lifestyle change. But trust me, it’s worth it. And the two-week crash diet will just make you miserable in the short-term and fatter in the long-term. It’s scientifically proven.

“I wish I could get her to go out with me”. No, what you really want is to be so attractive that women like her actually WANT to go out with you. That requires you to work on yourself and improve your social skills. But it’s worth it.

“I wish I had a million dollars”. No, you don’t. What you really want is to be successful. The million dollars is just a trophy that proves you were successful.

Try this with all the goals you set for 2015 and see if you’re focusing on dumb external measurements instead of the things you really want.

On Loving Women

I was at a wedding a couple weeks ago and a girl said to me “You’re way too comfortable around women”.

Now, I don’t think that’s actually true. I still get very nervous around girls and I’m not nearly as suave and confident as everyone thinks I am.

But I think she was onto something. I do prefer the company of women. Always have.

I think a lot of straight guys see women as kind of a necessary evil. They want them in their lives for obvious reasons, but they don’t really understand them or like them all that much.

Not me. I love women. I love everything about them.

I love the fact that they smell better than my male friends, and they don’t call me “bro” or try to yak my ear off about sports or other stupid shit.

I love the way women intuitively understand that all human relationships are high drama. It’s no wonder the world’s first novel, Tale of the Genji, was written by a woman.

I love how mysterious and complicated women are. I love how some women will have sex with you and then treat you like an acquaintance a week later, while some women you’ve never even kissed will look at you like they’ve loved you for 1000 years.

I love how honest women are about their insecurities, how they don’t try to cover them up with macho bravado the way insecure straight men do.

I love how hard women work at being beautiful, because they know how much we care about superficial stuff like that and they want to make us happy. I love all the colors they wear that most men are too afraid to. I love the freedom they have to wear things that have absolutely no functional purpose other than to look good.

I love the way they smile constantly. I even love the excessive smiley faces they decorate their texts and instant messages with because it reminds me of their real-life smiles and it makes me smile to know that they’re happy to talk to me.

I love their immense capacity to love. I know that they know better than to get involved with me or any other man, for that matter. Let’s face it, we’re pathetic and useless and we’re almost guaranteed to hurt and disappoint them. But they never give up hope. When a woman loves you she sees you in a way you haven’t seen yourself since you were two years old and you thought you were a superhero. A great woman will bring out the best in you, make you want to be that superhero just so you can live up to her expectations and justify that look in her eye.

And that might be the best thing about women – that in addition to making the world a better place, they also make us better people.

Top 5 Reasons to Keep Your Damn Mouth Shut About Your Sex Life

The urge to brag about a successful sexual exploit is very understandable. We’re guys, so a lot of what we do is for the purpose of proving our status to other guys. But in reality, bragging about your private life can quickly backfire. Here are the Top 5 reasons why a Sexy Geek doesn’t kiss and tell:

5. You could hurt her reputation. This is the most obvious one. It’s unfortunate, but we still live in a world where women are seen as sullied by sex, where their worth is inversely proportional to the number of sexual partners they’ve had. Do her a favor and let her decide whether or not she wants your affair made public.

4. You could hurt your reputation. Wait, isn’t there a double standard, where men are praised for how many women they have sex with? Not so fast. Do you really want to be known as a womanizer? Or worse, a womanizer who can’t keep his mouth shut? On the other hand, if everyone knows you as someone who’s tight-lipped about his sex life, women will feel comfortable getting intimate with you, because they know you’re not going to brag about it. If you think about it, the phrase “A gentlemen doesn’t kiss and tell” isn’t just a bromide, it’s an implicit confidentiality agreement – “I’m a gentleman, so you can trust me not to blab about whatever we do tonight”.

Would James Bond brag to the guys at the office about this? Of course not. He’s a gentleman. And he doesn’t need their approval.

3. You could hurt someone’s feelings. Say you brag to one of your friends about how you had sex with a girl you both know. You do it because you want to impress him. But what if he really liked her? Now you’ve hurt his feelings and caused him to think of you as a threat. You may have just lost a friend. At a minimum, he’s going to think twice before he introduces you to any of his other female friends. But what if word gets around that you had sex with that girl, and another girl who really likes you finds out? Now she sees you as a player, and if she agrees to date you at all, she’s going to be extra guarded, because she doesn’t want to be just another one of your “conquests”.

2. Your friends don’t want to hear about it. Your attached friends don’t want to be reminded of all the variety they’re missing out on, and your single friends don’t want to hear about how you’re getting lucky more often than they are. No one likes a braggart.

But the number one reason not to talk about your sexual exploits is very simple:

1. It’s just not that big of a deal.  So you got laid. Big deal. It’s not like you cured cancer. For a lesser man, getting lucky might be a major accomplishment, but not for you. You’re a sexy geek. You’re good-looking, stylish, confident, charming, the whole package. Of course women want to have sex with you. It’s not something to brag about. It’s just a part of your life. You’re a grown man who’s good with women, not an immature little boy who needs to brag to his friends about how he got lucky last night. Keep your damn mouth shut and just be secure in the knowledge that you’re living the life you want to live.

There is, however, one person you can brag to the day after sex: the person you had sex with. Call her up and say “I had an amazing time last night”. Make her feel as special about it as you do, and you’re much more likely to get a second chance.

Stay sexy, my friends.

P.S. Fellow geek-blogger Wesley Zhao points out that guys often hypocritically use the phrase “A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell” to imply that they actually did kiss the girl. Don’t be that guy. Just keep your mouth shut. You don’t have to lie, but you can omit the details that are nobody else’s business, e.g. “We went out a couple of times but we’re just friends now”.

And you can have fun with it too. The other night, my friends were telling me “Joe, that girl likes you.” Now, I knew very well that that girl liked me. I’m not going to tell you how I knew, but trust me, I knew. But with my friends I just played it off and said “Really? I think she’s just being friendly.” And then she and I laughed about it later.

The Real Reason You’re In The Friend Zone

A lot of guys like to complain about something called The Friend Zone, which is basically when a girl they like in a romantic/sexual way only sees them as a friend. The phrase implies that this is some sort of temporary purgatory that you can end up in by accident, and that it’s difficult to get out of.

The reality is that maybe you never had a chance with that girl at all. Maybe she’s out of your league. Maybe you’re not in her Friend Zone, but in her “Guys I wouldn’t Fuck in a Million Years” Zone. Maybe it hurts to realize this, but surely it’s less painful in the long run than holding out false hope that if you keep being her friend and being nice to her, she’ll change her mind.

The other reality is that while you may not be able to change her mind about you, you don’t have to remain in the painful friend zone. You can cut her out of your life and start spending your time on someone you actually have a chance with. Trust me, it’s the best thing for everyone involved.

Have you ever been on the other side of this? Have you ever had a female or worse, a male friend, with a serious crush on you? I have. After a while, you go from feeling nothing for that person to actively disliking them as they continually creep you out with their stares, their questions, their unasked-for favors, and the way they laugh at all your jokes and constantly try to touch you.

So, do yourself and everyone else a favor and resolve to never be in the Friend Zone. If attraction’s going to happen, it’s going to happen right away. If it hasn’t happened, and you can’t neutralize your feelings for that hot friend of yours, get the hell out of her life. Give her a chance to miss you while you improve yourself. And spend your energy on someone who actually wants to date you. Trust me, she’s out there.

Stay sexy, my friends.

The Lazy Way To Be a Gentleman

Being a gentleman is about being considerate of other people, within reason. That’s it. There is nothing else to it. It’s not a bunch of fancy rules involving handkerchiefs, umbrellas, and calling cards. And it does not involve treating women like they’re helpless.

A lot of people think that being a gentleman involves grand gestures of kindness or generosity. Examples:

  • Offering a woman you don’t know your umbrella – Would you take an umbrella from a stranger? How would you get it back to them?
  • Holding a door open for anyone who’s more than five feet away from it. You’re insinuating that they’re too weak to open it themselves, and obligating them to run to spare you from having to hold it open for so long.
  • Taking “Ladies First” to absurd extremes – If you’re at the front of an elevator and a woman is at the back, you’re not doing her any favors by moving around so she can squeeze past you. Just get out of the damn elevator and make everyone’s life easier, please.
  • Anything that would make you uncomfortable if someone did it for you, especially if you suspected that they had ulterior (read: sexual) motives.

Basic politeness and common courtesy, on the other hand, are always welcome. Some easy ways to demonstrate it are:

  • Listening intently, showing an interest in other people and their interests
  • Hold the door for the person behind you, if they’re right behind you, regardless of their age or gender.
  • Saying “Please” and “Thank you”.
  • Call people you don’t know “Sir” or “Ma’am”.

Do these things every day with everyone, male or female. Then when you open a door for an attractive female, it won’t seem awkward or forced.

And don’t expect a thank-you or a woman’s phone number when you do any of these things. It’s called common courtesy for a reason.

How smart people unknowingly sabotage themselves by neglecting to develop one simple skill

It’s been said that luck = preparation + opportunity. Most geeks are great at the preparation part. We’re willing to spend hours and hours alone studying, practicing, and working hard at what we love. But we neglect the other half of the equation: opportunity.

The problem with this approach is that, despite the cliche, opportunity doesn’t knock on the door while you’re sitting at home alone preparing. You have to go out and find it. And more often than not, it happens serendipitously, through the people you know. You can’t just go up to random people, or to people who you think have the ability to help you, tell them what you do and say “Do you have any opportunities for me?”

For example, when I first moved to Puerto Vallarta and wanted to start playing music, I went around to several bars and restaurants and asked them if they needed live music. Most said no, some said they’d look at my Web-site and give me a call, but none of them did. But then one day I was walking home and I passed a boring little bar with a few gringos inside and I told myself “I haven’t done any socializing today. I’m going to go in here and have a drink and see what happens.”  The guy next to me at the bar was the owner of a rock club in the tourist zone, and by chatting him up casually, I got my first gig. From there it all grew through word of mouth and from the people I met. I got my favorite gig, playing at a yoga retreat that’s only accessible by boat, through a guy I met at a party that I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to. But because I forced myself to get out of the house and meet people, I now get paid to get on a boat every Tuesday around sunset and go play music at a bar overlooking the beach to groups of mostly women, then I wake up the next morning and hang out on the beautiful deserted beach by myself.

And the beauty of expanding your social circle is that it can open up opportunities that you weren’t even expecting. I got asked to be a model for the Puerto Vallarta tourism board, which meant that I got paid to spend a day on a yacht with beautiful women, sunbathing and paddle-boarding, through a woman I struck up a conversation with at a salsa club.

But it’s not just about creating opportunities. Being social will make you happier and healthier.  A study found that even introverted people are happier when they act like extroverts.

On the flip side, loneliness is toxic. Studies have shown that lonely people have a greater tendency to abuse alcohol and drugs, get sick, and die young, than people with active social lives.

This is because we’re a social species, like apes, dolphins, and wolves. We’ve romanticized the idea of the “lone wolf”, but in reality, the lone wolf doesn’t get to mate.

So, if you don’t want to be an evolutionary failure as well, you’d better start cultivating your social skills. Too often, we nerds spend all our time avoiding people and then complain that we have a hard time talking to girls. News flash: women are people, too. If you get better at talking to people, you’ll get better at talking to girls. Haven’t you ever noticed that the guys who are good at talking to girls are also the guys who have a lot of friends and acquaintances, and tend to be at the center of their social circle?

This is because women intuitively understand that social success = success in life. Studies have shown that women are more likely to notice a man when he’s with other people, and that women find men more attractive if they see him with other women who are smiling or laughing.

How many female friends do you have? Most guys complain about being in the friend zone, but the friend zone is actually your key to success. Your female friends are your chick magnets. Treat them really well, but don’t hit on them and creep them out. Practice being your best self around them – fun, charming, and entertaining.

But don’t focus myopically on one gender or age group. Everyone you meet has the potential to open a door for you, introduce you to someone special, or teach you something new about the world. Every person is more fascinatingly complex than the most intricately plotted novel or video game. Whether you want to spend lots of time with them or not, be curious about what makes them tick.

Learn to love people, and the world will open up to you.