The Rationalization of Effort

I got some pushback in the comments on my last post. FBNF thought that 100 times a year was a lot more than her experience. I responded that this was probably due to environment: I probably should have said she the 100 dates was probably average for her environment and lifestyle, but the general pattern would still hold.

I haven’t been able to find studies on how often women are asked out. I remember reading a number of threads on the issue, where women were asked how often they were asked out: answers for most were once a week to once a month. I can’t figure out where those threads were. So I did another search.

A quick google of various internet threads says it depends a lot on how one defines “asked out”; “real” asks are uncommon, a dozen or two a lifetime, but “random” ones are fairly common. This thread ranges from uncommonly to multiple times a day.

I turned to a quick search on /r/AskWomen. The answers across threads there were comparatively low to elsewhere. Never was common, a 6-12 in a lifetime was the plurality, a few times a year also common, while once a week or more was rarer. I think one guy from one of the threads had the right of it:

  • I’m seeing a lot of people distinguishing between a request to hang out that turns romantic and a request for a formal date, which is probably not a distinction the asker was making.
  • Redditors in general tend to identify themselves as introverted and/or shy, and shy people don’t get asked out nearly as often as outgoing people do.

Also, not to be an ass, but on the whole Redditors are probably far less social and far less attractive than average people and would be less likely to be asked out.

Here’s a thread where the bizarre top answer is “Have had 5 or 6 boyfriends in my life, but never actually been asked out on a date.”

It seems that it is common for women to only include explicit requests for a date. Being hit on doesn’t count, being asked for a number doesn’t count, being asked to ‘hang-out’ with romantic intentions doesn’t count, etc. Someone even being a relationship isn’t counted as being asked out. This is bizarre to me. As a man, I would (and did) count some lady on the street asking me to hang out as being asked out.

Anyway, it seems once a week to once every month or two would be “average” if you included hitting on and phone number asks, but a lot less, a few time a year or less, if it’s only for formal dates.

So, in my assessment we could say somewhere between 6-50 times a year would be normal for propositions of all types, but about a dozen “real” requests for formal dates a lifetime. This would of course vary a lot based on the women’s environment, attractiveness, and personality.

The bigger her social circle, the larger her city, the prettier she is (to a point), and the more outgoing a women is, the more she’ll get asked out.

****

Which brings me to the point of my post: the rationalization of effort.

Unless you are a very experienced player or naturally very social, asking women out is a frightening and draining experience for most men; it has a fairly high mental cost. In addition, being rejected after asking a girl out is both painful and humiliating. Because of this men will often do a quick analysis of their odds of success combined with the ease with which they can ask a woman out and their level of motivation to ask that particular girl out. (This often leads to over-thinking, which is a major problem I struggle with).

This can lead to some weird outcomes. As Heartiste recently noted (NSFW) men will often not hit on the hottest girls, because the odds of success seem so slim. The prize may be great, but if the odds of success seem too low a man will not even try. It works the other way as well, a man may go after someone he might not otherwise chase simply if he thinks the odds of success are high.

What this means is that a man will only ask a woman out if he thinks he has a chance and the situation allows for an easy way to ask a girl out compared to the potential odds of success and his attraction.

He also needs motivation: most men see women around them all the time in their daily lives, including many attractive ones, but they rarely approach them. They will go out of their way to approach a particular women if he has some particular motivation to.

For one example, years ago there was a girl at my church who my mom would occasionally bring up as someone I should pursue. She seemed nice, she was attractive enough, and there was a decent chance she could have hit the points on my list but I never did approach her. There was nothing that really made her stand out to me. If happenstance had brought us into conversation together perhaps something might have happened, but there was nothing motivating me enough so I would put in the effort and take the risk of approaching her. (In retrospect, I probably should have).

As a contrasting example, there was a woman I was friends with for a while, she was attractive and fun to hang out with, but it didn’t even really cross my mind to think of her as a prospect. Then one day she was holding a friend’s baby and cooing over it; that display of maternal instinct peaked my attention and I started to entertain the prospect. I ended up asking her out a month or so later. (A mothering instinct is something I find incredibly attractive.).

One major factor in a man’s thinking is environment. Small, casual social environments (like house parties or games nights) are far more conducive to approaching for most men than most other environments. Church always has some formality, cold approaches are the most difficult ones, work comes with extra baggage, large parties/clubs/bars are good for certain personalities (ie. players and extroverts), but not for most men, etc.

There’s more to the sexual marketplace than a person’s raw SMV/MMV and displays thereof, there’s motivation and risk. A woman may be attractive, but she also needs to demonstrate something to motivate a man to approach (a particularly high level of beauty may be enough) and make it so that the type of man she wants to approach will think there is an ‘easy’ in.

****

So, based on that here’s a few practical tips for women hoping to be approached more:

Be out in the world. Men can’t approach if they don’t see you.

Get in environments where approaching is easy. A casual, social environment is best.

Smile: A kind smile lowers the expected cost and raises the perceived odds of success, increasing the chances of being approached.

Signal availability: Look pretty, have an open demeanor, put yourself in a physical space where approaching is possible (ie. stand around other people, not on the other side of the room by yourself), walk casually instead of bee-lining: make it easy for a man to approach and it will be more likely.

Don’t signal unavailability: Don’t wear earphones, don’t wear a ring on your ring finger if you aren’t married, don’t stare at the ground, don’t walk around staring at your iPhone, etc., these will all discourage most men (players aside) from approaching. Most men don’t want to intrude on you when you are doing something. By doing this you are self-selecting for the kind of guy who interrupts busy people.

Signal something unique: Signal something that makes you stand out, particularly for the kind of man you are looking for. If you are looking for an physically active man, wear something that indicates you participate in a sport. If you are looking for a bookish man, carry a book. If you are looking for a traditional man, look traditional. If you are looking for a family man, coo over your friend’s baby. If you are looking for a player, show your cleavage. If a man sees you share something in common, something particular that interests hims, or that gives him an easy in to open, he will be more likely to approach you.

Do the opposite of all this if you want to be approached less.

****

For Christians in particular:

When out of a church setting, it can often be difficult for a Christian man to tell if a woman is Christian or not, and if she isn’t he likely won’t be motivated to hit on her; hitting on a non-Christian would be a waste of time and effort. By displaying something obviously Christian, a Christian woman can give him that much more of a reason to talk to her, increasing her odds of meeting someone.

For Christian women, if you want more Christian men to hit on you, bring along something with you when you go out that makes it obvious you are Christian. Carry your Bible or a CS Lewis book or something else obvious; wear a Jesus fish necklace or a Bible camp t-shirt. (This is probably what the WWJD bracelets used to be for).

I know this from experience; there have been at least two cute girls I’ve cold approached because I overheard they were Christian, where if I hadn’t overheard them I probably would not have.

****

For men, something similar probably applies. Make it easier for a woman to say yes when you approach. I don’t have a list of specific practical steps beyond what I’ve already thrown out in the Omega’s Guide (if you have one drop it below). Just keep in mind that if you reduce the cost/risk or increase the perceived benefits of saying yes, you’re more likely more likely to get a yes.

Don’t make it more difficult for her to say yes than you need to.

34 comments

  1. “Don’t signal unavailability: Don’t wear earphones, don’t wear a ring on your ring finger if you aren’t married, don’t stare at the ground, etc.,”

    And for heaven’s sake, put away your iPhone; stop walking around staring at it, typing away furiously on it.

  2. So much of this is about a simple concept: Risk vs. Reward. But as with many other things, people can’t seem to apply them when it comes to pair-bonding relationships. With most sensible people, the reward needs to be commensurate with the risk. If the two are off (usually high risk, low reward), most sensible people will just stay away.

    This is what is happening with both dating and marriage.

    But as you note, women won’t get approaches if they aren’t actively seeking them.

    Overall, good post.

  3. @ FN: Great! :)

    Recall my Patriaphorism:

    On smartphones:

    A smartphone effectively doubles the thickness of a woman’s bitch shield.

  4. About this “asking you to “hang out” with romantic intentions”… how is this not an explicit date request? And if it is somehow different, how is a girl supposed to know that the guy has romantic intentions if he doesn’t make them clear, but instead acts like her buddy? We’re not mind readers either. There’s been quite a few guys that have been friendly with me, playfully tease me, treat me like their “pet”, make offhanded commments about how cute/adorable/etc they think I am, that sortof thing. But they don’t actually make any moves to be anything other than my friend. Maybe some have been interested in me, maybe they haven’t been. But if they don’t make the distinction between “friends” and “friendlier” than how am I supposed to know? This is probably why we don’t include them in our numbers ~ because we don’t know if we should or not when they don’t make their intentions clear enough for us to know they are actually attracted to / interested in us.

    As for outright hookup requests, I was including them in my #10 on your other post. Adding in phone number requests takes it to about 15. If you add in possible hookup requests (where a guy brings up the topic of sex, I tell him I’m remaining a virgin until I get married, then he proceeds to virgin shame me, but doesn’t actually proposition me) then you can add a few dozen or so to that number. Still nothing close to 100 per year. Also, my number is the number of guys requesting, not the number of requests themselves. I had one that turned into an engagement, so obviously there were plenty of dates with that one guy.

    Anyways, thanks for including tips meant specifically for christian girls looking to be approached by christian guys. I hadn’t thought of some of those and will give them a try.

  5. There’s been quite a few guys that have been friendly with me, playfully tease me, treat me like their “pet”, make offhanded commments about how cute/adorable/etc they think I am, that sortof thing.

    Seems like the intentions are clear enough. Hint: When those things happen is the time to turn on the IOIs.

  6. @ Ballista,

    “Seems like the intentions are clear enough.”

    Not really. Not when quite a few women treat me the exact same way, and I’m sure they aren’t showing romantic interest. Which is what I was getting at ~ you guys might think those are clear signals, and perhaps they might be if a woman did them to a man, I dunno. But to a woman who gets that same treatment from other women as well as from men? It’s not so clear. In order for it to be clear, the man’s treatment / behavior has to be more overt and less like what we wound expect from other women. Otherwise, we won’t be so sure of his interest and might even be completely clueless to it. I could be speaking just for myself though, but I’m not so sure I am speaking only for myself in this case.

  7. Sure they are. If men are acting like that towards you (especially going out of their way), they’re interested in you. But it’s a step in the process towards an explicit date request, which women can’t just sit back and expect them to come rolling in. Unfortunately, one of the big problems in dating is exactly this. You have to actively express interest in return for things to even have a chance of going there. Hence the IOIs. The explicit date request is about step #4 or so in the process. If a woman doesn’t actively seek it, she will never get it. Step #4 doesn’t happen without the first three.

  8. And to harken to the topic of the original post, 100 times a year is not out of the realm of possibility for any woman who actively is seeking and expressing interest in men. I knew of women who get less interest than you do, simply because they aren’t putting themselves out there and advertising themselves as interested. Period. If they would, they would get the men lining up. The only message they put out to men was “not interested”.

    As I kept saying over on SSM’s blog, the only reason most women aren’t having to pull out appointment calendars to field dates is looking back at them in the mirror.

  9. And speaking again of simple life principles, you reap what you sow…if you don’t sow anything don’t be surprised when the field isn’t ripe for the harvest.

  10. FN:

    Excellent, excellent post.

    FBNF:

    You’re overthinking this WAY too much. You’re taking something really simple and overcomplicating it.

    Here are a good couple of rules of thumb.

    If a man is talking to you, he is sexually interested in you.

    If a man says he wants to hang out with you, he wants to be alone with you. If he wants to be alone with you, he is sexually interested in you.

    If he says he wants to hang out but doesn’t really want to be alone with you, he is NOT sexually interested in you.

  11. First off, are you seriously saying that if a man does something for / is kind to a woman that she should automatically think he’s interested in her? As if a man can’t do those things simply because he’s a good guy and treats everyone well because he sees that as the way you should always treat people? Or as if men are naturally NOT kind to those they don’t have romantic interest in? I don’t buy that, especially with christian men. To believe that is to subscribe to the idea that men are evil just for being men, which I don’t subscribe to. I believe a lot of men do what they do because they want to be good, and/or Godly men. Meaning it doesn’t guarantee that he is interested, but it might show that he is. If he’s going out of his way, I can see that being clear interest.

    Second, I never said I wasn’t at fault for my trouble with men. I’ve said before, and you know I have, that I’m not good at showing my interest in men most of the time, for a variety of reasons. To put it bluntly, I suck at this, even though I do try. Yes I’ve also said that I also have trouble with finding guys that are willing to wait until marriage for sex, and that has been my experience with nearly every guy that has asked me out or been overt in their interest in me. You can’t honestly say that *most* men are on board with such a concept. They might want a virgin, but nearly all of them will still expect to sample the goods before marriage, and that goes for christian men a lot of times too. I can count on less than 2 hands how many men I know that want to wait until marriage for sex, and every single one of them are from the ‘sphere. Outliers themselves. So it’s my own fault for not being good at this, and for insisting on no sex before marriage (which obviously all but knocks me out of the running for 99.999999% of men that I know IRL).

    Third, even when I do show my interest it’s never been a guarantee. There have even been times where someone will tell me that so-and-so likes me / wants to ask me out, and I say that if they ask me I will say yes, and then… nothing. Be nice and friendly to him and smile at him… nothing. It’s no more a guarantee for a girl than it is for a guy. So please don’t give me the “just show some interest and men will be lining up” stuff.

  12. This comment is not directed at anyone in particular. It’s just something I have considered in my participation in the manosphere over the past 3 odd years.

    At a few other venues where I’ve participated, the men used to get vociferous objections whenever it was suggested that women might approach men. Not to put too fine a point on it, but women were absolutely MORTIFIED at the notion that they should do anything to initiate anything with men they might find attractive or interesting.

    Now, the suggestion is that a woman might do things to show that she’s available for approaches, that she’s open to approaches. And what I see in response (not here, but elsewhere) is resistance, second-guessing, navel gazing, overthinking, and objection. “Why, oh why, should we have to do anything to show our interest in being approached? Shouldn’t men just KNOW that we want to be approached or not? It just seems so…artificial. Shouldn’t this “romance” thing, you know, just kinda ‘happen’?”

    Well, uh, no, it doesn’t “just happen”. You have to make it happen. You have to be open for it to happen. You have to seek it out. You have to do things.

  13. FBNF:

    Calm down. By saying a man talking to you is probably sexually interested in you, I am NOT saying he has sex on the brain, is mentally undressing you from the first second he sees you, or is plotting ways to get you into bed from that first second he sees you.

    I’m saying that if a guy is taking time out of his day and going even a little out of his way to talk to you, he is acknowledging you as an attractive woman worth that time. He is acknowledging interest in you in a sexual way meaning he’s a man and you’re a woman.

    Something that a lot of women don’t seem to understand is that men don’t take time out of their lives to acknowledge women AS women unless we think there might be some chance of striking up or starting something. We are busy. We have a lot to do and even more to think about. We don’t have time for it. We don’t have the inclination to have lots of female friends. The risk of talking to a woman who gets offended or repulsed is enormous. So if a guy is talking to you, he is interested in you AS A WOMAN.

  14. Oops, sorry deti… I meant my last comment as a response to ballista’s previous 3 comments. I see now that I forgot to put “@ ballista” at the start of it, so it probably looks like I was fussing at you. Actually now that I read it back it looks like I was trying to be fussy at ballista, when I was just trying to make a few points in response to what he said to me. Sorry ballista…

  15. FBNF:

    Can you walk up to a man you’re interested in and strike up a conversation with him?

    Can you walk up to a man and say “Hi. My name is FBNF. How are you today?”

    Have you ever done any of those things? If not, why not?

  16. As Cappy Cap would say, it’s the matter of EROI – estimated return on investment. Negative or neutral net return in sight, therefore no investment.

  17. @FBNF Deti caught most of the response anyway. What he said is good because 9999 out of 10000 it’s true. It’s human nature, most people won’t do anything without some form of rational self-interest behind it. There’s no “good” or “bad” behind it, that’s just how life is.

    The only other thing I want to point out is that whether these men want to wait for marriage for sex is irrelevant to your ability to garner interest in men. It’s just an excuse to deflect from the real issue at hand.

  18. I may have missed this, but what about a woman simply having a friend or family member let a man know that she would be open to his interest? In the (very distant) past I had young, Christian women let me know that one of their friends would be receptive if I were to ask her out. By using intermediaries everyone also avoided the (perceived) danger of rejection. It’s an option with a rich literary history as well.

  19. @ deti,

    As for cold approaching (or whatever you call it) a guy that I don’t know from Adam, I don’t typically do that apart from doing my job at work (which doesn’t really count). I’ve attempted to a few times, but end up backing out before even getting close enough to the guy to talk because it’s enough to bring on a mild anxiety attack. I’ve done so around here a couple of times though by being the first one to send an email, not sure if that counts or not.

    I can sometimes (but certainly not always) walk up to a guy I’m interested in and strike up a conversation. It depends on the environment, how well I know the guy already, how brave I’m feeling at the moment, how intimidating he is to me, if I can come up with something(s) ahead of time to talk about, how friendly he is during the times when he approaches me, etc. But as noted above, I have to already know him in some way for it to be doable without having an automatic mild anxiety attack. The easiest guy of interest for me to approach was my best friend in highschool, who I had known since 6th grade, but didn’t become “interested” in until 10th grade. By then we were already each other’s best friend (which he also referred to me as) so approaching him was a breeze. I’m not usually so good at it though and tend to make an idiot of myself (at least IMO). I’ve been attempting this more lately with guys in general to help me get over my extreme shyness and have made a bit of progress, but still have a LONG way to go.

    I did outright tell one guy several months ago that I was interested in / attracted to him, without any indications whatsoever that he was interested in me that I could see (but I can be very dense so who knows) because I saw/see a ton of value there to the point that he actually exceeded the qualities on my “list”, and I simply couldn’t *not* make my interest known, just in case I could maybe have a chance. He was very gracious about it, thankfully. I seem to still be in his friendzone though.

    I won’t ever ask a guy out on an official first date though. That’s delving into “a woman trying to be like a man” territory. Uh-uh.

    @ okrahead,

    I’ve done that a handful of times. I don’t know how many women do this though.

    @ ballista,

    It’s not an excuse to deflect from the real issue at hand if it relates directly to the issue at hand. I may be able to garner plenty of interest initially, but if this thing is a barrier that prevents me from keeping that interest / getting somewhere as a result of that initial interest, then what does that initial interest matter? The goal isn’t just to get someone interested, it’s to get somewhere after getting that interest. It’s also not deflecting when I also said that I have a lot of blame in my not being good at this. I’ve stated my blame before elsewhere and am trying to resolve them. That’s not deflecting.

  20. @FBNF It is an excuse that you’re putting out to keep yourself from doing your rightful part in getting male interest. It’s like me saying: “All the women out there just want to pressure me into sex, so why should I try approaching them anyway.” It’s an excuse. Period. I’d still have to approach women, and find out if they’re going to want sex if I want a woman that doesn’t want sex until marriage. There’s no way to know until I get out there and do it.

    Same goes for you. You have professed yourself that you aren’t putting out interest to men, so all you are doing is holding onto an irrational fear that if you were to get the interest of a man, all he would want is sex. You don’t know that half or more of the men around you would wait, simply because you haven’t bothered to find out. It’s keeping you from getting out there and sparking the interest of men. That’s very plain from all the times you’ve mentioned that.

  21. Recently found this blog and like it quite a bit.

    Another good post by FN, and I enjoy the commentary here as well. Attraction and relationship creation/maintenance are serious topics and worthy of serious discussion, but I want to digress a little bit. In this post is a link to FN’s list of what he is looking for in a wife. I think it is a fine list and while I doubt that such a candidate will be found without significant enough and a lot of luck, finding and attracting this person is far from the end of the story. “And they lived happily ever after”, is really just for fairy tales.

    I found someone who basically met all my requirements and married her. I was crazy about her and she appeared to be crazy about me. Her background and family history were all strong indicators that I’d made a good choice and what she said were her goals were highly compatible with mine. She’d passed the “vetting” process. But, over the years she has changed so much as to be a person I would never have been attracted to, let alone marry. She’s gone Brundle-fly on me. If not for our children, I would walk out the door and never look back.

    So, yes, locating and attracting a good candidate are the first hurdles, but only the first. The race is long.

  22. @ balllista,

    I’ve professed nothing of the sort. If you think I’m not putting in any effort then you aren’t reading my comments carefully enough. I said I’m not good at it, not that I don’t still try. I’ve said multiple times that I smile at and am nice to guys, that I am friendly when one wants to talk to me. I also have said that I’m shy and easily intimidated by men which means I get very nervous and make an idiot of myself which probably looks like disinterest to him. That’s not me refusing to do my rightful part, that’s me trying even though I suck at it. There’s a difference. Did you miss the comment where I said I’ve told a handful of people that if so-and-so asked me out that I would say yes (every single time they said they would tell so-and-so)? Or my answer to deti’s questions in my last comment? The reason I know it’s rare to find a man willing to wait until marriage is because it’s a conversation I’ve had so many times before with them, which typically ends with the guy virgin shaming me (I get it from them way more often than I get it from other women). Occasionally one will say something like “good for you… but I’m not waiting”. My ex-fiance claimed that it was a good thing to wait, but then he started getting very pushy for it. So I’m not using that as an excuse to not bother trying. I’m saying that has been the vast majority of my experience with the men I know (again, the only exceptions I’ve found – even among christian men – have been around here online. But I’m still trying, in case you’re still ignoring all that I’ve said to the contrary.

  23. The frustration evident in this thread is because dating is a substitute for marriage, not a path to marriage. If you want dates, signal that you are interested in dating. But don’t think that signaling an interest in marriage will get you dates, because dates are an extremely poor method of determining a prospect’s suitability for marriage, and most serious marriage-minded men will therefore avoid them.

  24. @ FBNF
    Any attempt to spend time with you, to gauge your opinions, or get to know you is a man interested in you as more than just a friend. He will then make a decision on his goals with you after he sees what kind of woman you are and makes a judgment. If he’s marriage minded, you will either be a potential wife or you will become a Sister in Christ. If he’s romance/sex minded, you become either someone worth the risk of the time sink or not worth the risk.

    By throwing out that your marriage minded, you eschew the second category, and thus get less ‘dates’.

    @ FN
    Great post on why women get dates or don’t, and then on why they’re not counting interest as true or not. They’d much rather rationalize it away as interest, because they don’t want to consider themselves mean for turning down men nor do they want to consider themselves not up to the standards of men that decide not to continue showing such interest in the woman.

    Personally, I don’t ‘date’ women. I get to know them, about them, and then move forward. I don’t approach women directly any more. It simply isn’t worth my time. I’m strict on my “Catholic only” part of women, so if I run into one and learn she’s Catholic in the hustle and bustle of daily life, I’ll invite her into the casual parts of my life. I’ll invite her to the next diocese event, invite her to the parish events I organize, or I invite her dancing. It’s not a date and they know it, but it’s also interest and they know that as well. If they’re similarly interested, they show up and show some of the dedication to their faith I desire in a wife. If they don’t, they either weren’t serious about their faith, about finding a spouse, or judged me as not spouse material when they stopped to think.

    No harm in any of those to me, but still taking risk and not wasting opportunities

    From there I can learn about them. Upon learning more about a woman I will ask her to coffee or a museum a couple times. It’s the grey area between date and hanging out, but gives me a chance to see if she presents a different person at church than she really is, and gives us a chance to see if we’d like to start a courtship. After 2 or 3 of these I’d approach her father, ask his permission, and then tell her I’d like to court her.

    So far, in the year of being Catholic, that has happened with a grand total of 3 women. Two I nexted, one softly and one hard (otherwise she would have wasted her time and emotional energy). One I asked her father, than herself, to court, and she gave the “I want to live a little first” type speech.

    It’s all part of the dance.

    But I only let the grey area live a short time – long enough to try and get an honest assessment as women will change how they act very quickly when they see you’re serious. The path to success, for a woman, would be for them to show that they’re serious about it before I have to.

    There’s efforts and risks in this method for myself and the woman; though I bear the brunt of it initially. I’m ok with that, and simply ask her along with me in the journey towards God.

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