Help me flirt like a man?
March 21, 2011 6:52 PM   Subscribe

How do men and women flirt differently? I'm a straight man who often comes off as feminine or gay, and I don't like it. I think it's ruining my success with women. Help?

I fear I'm an extreme case. I've blatantly hit on women and then had them remark to mutual friends that they think I'm gay. Twice. Recently. This has to stop.

I think it's causing me to land in the friend zone/be unable to be flirty when I need to be.
I'm chaming, tolerable-looking, and can relate to people very easily, and can do "flirty" things (casual touching, eye contact, etc.), but when I try to flirt with women, I think it comes off as vaguely feminine.

Not looking for specific feedback on what I do or don't do, but more for general ideas about how masculine and feminine flirting, or straight and gay, styles are different. (Yes, I've read the usual things people link to here, like that guide to flirting, and yes I've read, though am ambivalent about, some of that "pua" stuff.) I have overwhelmingly female friends, was raised by a single mother, had no older siblings, etc., so my life has been basically totally devoid of male role models for this sort of thing. (And it's way too weird/creepy/awkward to talk to other guys about this.)

Like, what would my dad have said to me if he were around?

Relevant data: 31, grad student, mostly tends to have slightly younger friends, intellectual crowd. Additional issue: my voice tends to slip into the high-pitched range unless I exercise conscious control over it.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (53 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Howard Stern recently interviewed his Rolling Stone interviewer Neil Strauss, who also happens to have written a book called "The Game". He's a short bald Jewish guy and used his skills to pick up tons of women. I'm gay and I could care less about learning some tips, but Strauss' insights were brilliant and quite fascinating. Stern had him on for ages, and that should tell you something. (You can read a better summary of his remarks here - just scroll down.)
posted by teedee2000 at 7:11 PM on March 21, 2011

Where are you meeting these women? Do you meet them more than once? Do you ask them on dates? Are they women who generally notice when guys are flirting with them? I've met attractive guys who I thought might be gay; my response was usually "oh, too bad" and if they turned out to be straight/bi/queerish instead, that was great. A little time usually clears up the gay-or-not thing.

I really think this "friend zone" business is overemphasized. At least in my circles, it's not so much "oooh, you missed your window, now you're friend-zoned, it's too late!" as "I'm not that attracted to you, so we'll just be friends", unless it's "we're friends, but I'm kind of attracted to you so I'd go on a date if you asked me".

Also, perhaps you could say more about the women you're attracted to. Maybe a little planning about this would help--I'm sure you can learn to be more masculine/straight in affect, but it might also be helpful to find women who aren't as insistent on 100% heteromasculinity. Miscellaneous women may not work that well for this.
posted by Frowner at 7:13 PM on March 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

(I pause to add that "The Game" absolutely skeeves me out, as it does pretty much every woman I know. If I got even the faintest hint that a guy was using PUA/Game stuff on me, I would walk away, possibly after saying something mean.)
posted by Frowner at 7:14 PM on March 21, 2011 [53 favorites]

I think you're just meeting the wrong type of women for you.
posted by mleigh at 7:15 PM on March 21, 2011

Read and enact the principles outlined in The Game only if you'd like to get kneed repeatedly in the nuts. It's basically a book about how to treat women like shit so they'll have sex with you. So, unless you'd like to prey on women with low self-esteem or play games for the rest of your adult life with unhealthy women who enjoy playing head games rather than having your back and thinking you're really awesome and boning you with joyous abandon, avoid this book and all others like it.

As for "flirting styles", I have no idea. I just think you should be yourself, get to know several people you find interesting, work on opening yourself up to real, honest to goodness intimacy with one or a few of them, and then kiss somebody you want to kiss very deeply, yet sweetly, and passionately on the mouth.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 7:19 PM on March 21, 2011 [16 favorites]

I should add as way of an example - if I meet a guy who is sensitive/feminine, I can tell that he's putting on the masculine facade almost immediately. It just makes me not trust him and feel uncomfortable around him. However, I can respect him a whole lot more (and be far, far more into him) when he's being his normal sensitive/feminine self.
posted by mleigh at 7:20 PM on March 21, 2011 [10 favorites]

The Game "is" PUA, as the poster mentioned. Don't. Do. It. It's utterly disgusting and treats women like some sort of "other" or a puzzle to be figured out at best, animals to be tamed at worst. Is that what you want in a partner? Who cares if Howard Stern had him on forever? Here's something: don't take advice from someone Howard Stern admires.

Don't worry too much about your behavior. Just drop subtle hints about your straightness around friends/women you're interested in. They'll get it.
posted by sweetkid at 7:21 PM on March 21, 2011 [8 favorites]

I have no idea what a dad would say to you, but I think you should ask your female friends. They can probably point out exactly what it is you are/aren't doing when you're flirting.
posted by grapesaresour at 7:26 PM on March 21, 2011 [11 favorites]

I had a lot of gay male friends when I was single. They loved to blatantly flirt with me and casually touch me. I think you might actually be TOO comfortable around women. I don't think you should fake masculinity, but being more standoffish (can you pull off mysterious?) might net better results.
posted by desjardins at 7:27 PM on March 21, 2011 [7 favorites]

I think grapesaresour and desjardins both have good points. First, ask the female friends you have (who you are NOT sexually attracted to) what, specifically, you do that might make other women think you are gay. I don't know why they didn't just ask you in the first place. Is it possible someone is suggesting you are gay so as to cut out the competition? Just a thought.

And secondly, try...well, not trying so hard. Don't be so available, if that makes sense. My youngest son gets in the friend zone with girls sometimes because he just has a lot of girls that he enjoys being with, and then they end up taking him for granted. When he started playing high school soccer, he was not around as often, and they saw him in a different way, and that helped.

And if you are alone with a woman you are attracted to, go for the kiss if she seems at all interested. Don't let so much time pass that she writes you off as only 'friend' material.
posted by misha at 7:39 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Maybe your technique could use some work, but I wouldn't fixate on the "thought you might be gay" thing. I know a lot of straight men who people sometimes think are gay, and they get laid all the time. Some women might be put off by a demeanor that isn't 100% macho, but you don't need 100% of straight women to be interested in you, so it's not a problem.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:40 PM on March 21, 2011

Your tone sounds paniced, yet only two instances are mentioned. Are you sure it's a problem?

I'm straight, but occassionally had people insisit I was gay in my 20s, really insist. It flipped me out until I realized they had no mental slot for a straight, but sort of quiet guy more into the arts than sports. I didn't fit the stereotype, thus "gay".

Looking back, I would tell younger me to quit fretting about that shit, just be yourself, be explicit about wanting a date and quickly, and if you get a no, keep moving.

I tell you to talk to your female friends, they know you, can see your body language and can give the best advice.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 PM on March 21, 2011 [8 favorites]

There's a certain thing that a lot of men do, without talking: the body graze. Like, looking over a woman's body (especially chest) and then looking back up. I read an article saying that when a man lets a woman see him doing this, it's his way of saying, "I'm considering you as a sexual partner".

But it can get creepy fast if done too much. However done once or twice, an quickly, gets the message in that the guy is probably interested. At least for me (female).
posted by bearette at 7:43 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

(And it's way too weird/creepy/awkward to talk to other guys about this.)

I'm a not-at-all feminine guy who works with a bunch of equally stereotypical guys, and we talk about this kind of stuff all the time. And I talk about this stuff when I am out with guy friends, whether they are straight or gay or whatever.

I'm not saying you have to instantly become ok talking about this -- my point is that talking fairly openly about attraction and flirting and dating is in no way at all unmanly or weird. I think it's kind of the reverse, where keeping it bottled inside and being so uncomfortable with yourself that you can't say anything is actually kind of weird and creepy.

In grad school especially, some guys over-intellectualize things to the point that they are so "sensitive" that they transcend masculine/feminine and become some kind of cosmic neuter creature. If that's what you are doing, I think the answer is to relax a little and allow yourself to be both more selfish and more genuinely connected to other people, both things that don't happen with transcendent sensitivity.
posted by Forktine at 7:44 PM on March 21, 2011 [9 favorites]

Flirting like a man entails being a man, which is something no woman can teach. The "single mother, have mostly female friends" is a dead ringer for nice guy syndrome. Best way to rectify things is by getting stronger male friendships, observing your male friends flirt with women, and discussing it with them - it's a completely normal thing to talk about among men.
posted by mnemonic at 7:47 PM on March 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

Demonstrated competency is really attractive. Pardon my generalization, but a lot of intellectuals talk a lot but don't do much, and that can lead to a general 'meh' vibe and lukewarm interpretation thereof. Do you have a physical hobby? Could you take more action instead of talking about taking action?

Basic flirting (complimenting, touching, whatever) is easy to overdo. Many women tend to cue into character signals, since male flirting can be a load of BS. Look for small ways to demonstrate competency and get things done.

I have a male friend who did get mistaken for gay, but he was/is quite straight, just on the softspoken, quirky side. He took up adventurous hobbies that involved teamwork with adventurous minded men and women. He gained a wealth of good conversation fodder and it gave him an aura of solid competency. It really helped him.
posted by griselda at 7:50 PM on March 21, 2011 [12 favorites]

Much easier to actually say something than worrying too much about it or, god forbid, putting on some kind of notionally masculine act. I recently met a guy I swore up and down was gay, and was floored to find out he was not from a mutual friend. If he came back and flirted with me I would totally be into it. So just figure out a way to work an ex girlfriend into your conversational, or have a mutual friend talk you up, or just ask her out.
posted by yarly at 7:51 PM on March 21, 2011

My guess is that you are being perceived as not being forward enough, which is why the feminine label comes up. I'm not sure why the gay label came up because I've been hit on by gay guys and it wasn't what I would call "feminine" or subtle. Perhaps you seem "flirty" (which is seen as gay) but you don't seem convincingly attracted or committed to the whole thing.

Flirting is very different than trying to get a date. If you want a date, you can just ask. Flirting is more about having some fun, almost like verbal foreplay. Flirting (to me) is the art of having the attraction be totally obvious without saying all the words that may hang there awkwardly if the attraction isn't mutual. If you don't mind an academic viewpoint, you can watch the first few minutes of this video to see what I am referring to: Language as a Window into Human Nature
posted by acheekymonkey at 7:54 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is it possible that you're complimenting them in ways that would imply that you're not so much attracted to them as interested in them in an aesthetic or friendly sense? For example mentioning their clothes?

Honestly, if you have mostly female friends and often meet women you're attracted to via said friends, that might be the core of the reason they assume you're gay. Just ask them out. Then they'll know you're not gay.
posted by Sara C. at 8:16 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Flirting like a man entails being a man, which is something no woman can teach

Uh.. My boyfriend was raised by a single mom and had two female siblings, and basically no male role models who weren't faraway or such chumps that he knew from an early age not to emulate them. He's awful at masculine performativity, doesn't play sports or fix cars or do any typically masculine things, is soft spoken, and very much seems safe to women. But for some reason women (interesting, intelligent, attractive women, at that) are really attracted to him, and he gets hit on all the time when we're not obviously together. So I wouldn't put a lot of stock into the theory that you have to come across as more manly. Rather, I think it's important that you come across as friendly, intelligent, engaging, with a broad appreciation of all things (e.g. not just 'manly' things), that you not play hard-to-get, maintain eye contact, and that you actively ask out women you're interested in.
posted by soviet sleepover at 8:21 PM on March 21, 2011 [12 favorites]

Just to clarify on The Game and other PUA stuff: you might be a little surprised by the vehemence of women's reactions to even casual mention of this stuff, because a lot of it is good commonsense advice like "wear clean clothes, live an interesting life, and don't be afraid to talk to a girl if you like her." What freaks women out [1] is stuff like negging, qualification, plowing, LMR, etc. The problem is, the community does not distinguish between the two, so it's easy cross the line if you don't already have some experience with women to tell you what's creepy and what's normal.

Fortunately, the good stuff is very common and can be gotten from sources which aren't universally reviled. Try AskMeFi, advice columns, and as well as, of course, your friends both male and female. The last one is especially effective because sometimes you get not only advice but introductions to girls.

[1] I usually try not to generalize, but as far as I can tell the generalization is actually warranted here. Literally every girl I've ever asked dislikes The Game, and after I noticed this pattern I started asking every girl I knew.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:42 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

For some reason, people sometimes assume I'm a lesbian. I've found casually dropping comments about my ex-bfs, or asking out the guy in question on a date clears things up pretty quickly, though!
posted by smirkette at 8:49 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I asked a similar question two years ago (I didn't mention it in the post but I also got mistaken for gay more often than not), and got mostly unsatisfactory answers in the short term. However, I seemed to have absorbed flirtation skills between then and now. I can't say whether the answers to the post primed me.

I can say, however, that when I started being successfully flirtatious (and romantically successful) was after I totally re-worked my view of gender and gender relations. This happened over time, and part of it came from getting hired to edit a book on human sexuality, but it really crystalized when I read bell hooks' mind-blowing yet accessible work Feminism is for Everybody. (I didn't really like her writing style, but the ideas contained within were worth reading it and it wasn't a hard read at all.)

Now, I generally find myself attracted leftist intellectual types, who generally enjoy my dealing with them like they're human beings who have agency and stuff rather than people into whom I can stick my penis (contrast this to the sort of women that will be attracted to the methods used in The Game). But flirting "like a man" usually means leveraging culturally-determined insecurities and tropes, and in the long run is pretty lame. Flirting like a human is much more about getting to know a person, care about them, and determine if they care about you. It takes work, and it doesn't work for every girl you think is attractive, but that's because not every girl you think is attractive is going to think the same of you. Even if you're really good looking.

Also, don't worry so much about getting mistaken for being gay. Having one's gender identity questions is a HUGE deal in American culture, and lots of things would be much nicer if it weren't.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:57 PM on March 21, 2011 [17 favorites]

For some reason, people sometimes assume I'm a lesbian. I've found casually dropping comments about my ex-bfs, or asking out the guy in question on a date clears things up pretty quickly, though!

This, too.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:58 PM on March 21, 2011

First, you're obviously way panicked by this. Relax. Seriously, only twice? Let it go man. If you think about this at all while you're interacting with a woman you're interested in you're done. Insecurity is never attractive.

There's a lot of good advice up thread. My first thought was similar to desjardins', maybe you're too flirty or maybe you come across as catty and not flirty in which case you need to tone it down, slow down, and do some serious quiet eye gazing.

Another possibility is that it has nothing to do with flirting. Possibly its the way you dress or your mannerisms (how do you hold a glass, how do you cross your legs, where do your hands go when you're standing) or the way you speak, inflection, etc.

But honestly changing those won't help you. And their existence won't hurt you.

Let your lusty interest in the woman be honestly and respectfully known and she won't doubt your intentions.
posted by Ookseer at 9:06 PM on March 21, 2011

For some reason, people sometimes assume I'm a lesbian. I've found casually dropping comments about my ex-bfs, or asking out the guy in question on a date clears things up pretty quickly, though!

I get this as well, and I'm a pretty good flirt. Meaning, no one mistakes my meaning when I put my flirt on.

Anyway, to answer your question -- in my experience there isn't a difference in the way genders flirt. Flirting is flirting and most of flirting is all about getting to know the person you're talking to in order to see if your chemistry is good.

Honestly, this is the best advice if you want to avoid being labeled as gay, casually drop hints that you are certainly not gay and let it go from there.
posted by patheral at 9:07 PM on March 21, 2011

I briefly dated a guy who sounds a lot like you (to the extent that i wondered if you WERE him, until i realised he's no longer a grad student). We met online, he was looking for women, we got along great, we flirted, but still - i wondered if he was gay.

The key thing, i think, is that women often flirt with giggling, light touches on the arm, cute little looks, looking up under our eyelashes, sort of light graceful arm movements - like, lightly touching the stem of wine glass. This guy sort of did all those things. Not all at once, but the cumulative effect was pretty feminine. Men tend to flirt more with strong, steady eye contact (vs fluttery looks), by being very attentive, and by touching in a more... concious way? Like, rather than a couple light little touches on the arm (like i might do, as a girl flirt), a guy will rest his hand several seconds on a leg or arm or back. I think overall, i think male flirt is about being attentive and gently but confidently physical and seeming in control, whereas female flirting is more about seeming... a bit... nervous? intimidated? ditsy? (I don't like to admit that... but thats sort of what all the coy smiling and hair flipping is about!)
posted by Kololo at 9:11 PM on March 21, 2011 [7 favorites]

If PUA is out (I'm not saying it works) than where should guys learn flirting tips?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:18 PM on March 21, 2011

If PUA is out (I'm not saying it works) than where should guys learn flirting tips?

From interacting in meaningful and respectful ways with actual women.
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:22 PM on March 21, 2011 [20 favorites]

anonymous: "I've blatantly hit on women and then had them remark to mutual friends that they think I'm gay. Twice. Recently."

You aren't the one with the problem. Grown adults do not question another person's sexuality— the "gay or not" guessing game is nonsense that should have stopped in high school.

It's a big red flag for me when a person does this.
posted by grammar corrections at 9:47 PM on March 21, 2011 [7 favorites]

grammar corrections - that may be a well articulated reduction of the moral high ground, but it is completely irrelevant to real life. (Its equivalent to responding to questions about the causes or logistics of currently occuring wars by answering that the question is irrelevant because countries should be using diplomacy instead.)

People make evaluations of each other every day, and when you are deciding whether to invest time and emotions towards a romantic/sexual relationship, it makes sense that people would try and evaluate if that investment is worthwhile, and part of that is whether the person is unlikely to reciprocate because they are sexually oriented in a way that will prevent a positive outcome.
posted by Kololo at 10:00 PM on March 21, 2011

You aren't the one with the problem. Grown adults do not question another person's sexuality— the "gay or not" guessing game is nonsense that should have stopped in high school.

That's ridiculous. People of all ages are interested in other people's sexuality. It's an inherently interesting topic. So, people are going to make guesses. This doesn't make them not "grown adults" (whatever that means).

The OP is right to be concerned if he's finding it to be a persistent problem. Saying "they're the ones with the problem" is sweeping it under the rug. However, even if people thinking you're gay is a concern, it's not the only concern. I'm more concern that you're going to try to transform your whole personality over this.

OK, so control your voice more and maybe drop some references to ex-girlfriends. Fine.

But beyond that, I wouldn't focus on this issue. You might succeed in preventing any women from thinking you're gay, while causing women to wonder why you're trying so hard to put on a persona instead of relaxing and being yourself.
posted by John Cohen at 10:14 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Kololo: It's relevant because the OP doesn't seem to realize that many of his experiences (doubting his own masculinity, "what would my father think?," endless friend zone, high pitched voice) are completely normal experiences that don't get talked about very often.

Using your war example, it's worthwhile to discuss diplomacy if one country doesn't even know what diplomacy is because they've been at war for their whole life.
posted by grammar corrections at 10:17 PM on March 21, 2011

Instead of putting on a big poise of masculinity, I'd suggest being yourself, dropping a few subtle hints about your heterosexuality ("my ex-girlfriend...") etc. I'm a straight girl and some of my boyfriends initially thought I was gay, yet they still asked me out once they figured out I wasn't.

You want a girl who likes you for you are, and, yes, there are women who like men who are not stereotypically masculine. Moreover, acting like someone you're not is always evident and never attractive.
posted by vanitas at 10:48 PM on March 21, 2011

Also, on the whole "friend zone" deal: I think this happens because the attraction is just not there, and I don't think there's much you can do about it. There are some men whom I've just not been into despite their many positive qualities, and some men who are totally idiots yet I'm inexplicably attracted to. I blame pheromones.
posted by vanitas at 10:49 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

The first thing that occurred to me, even before I got to the part about how you have a high-pitched voice, was that it was something about your voice. But I don't think it's necessarily the pitch. Bluntly, do you talk like a valley girl? How many times in a 5 minutes conversation do you say the word "like"? In my days of online dating, there were two instances with two different guys where I found myself wondering if the guy was gay, even though he was on a date with me. In both cases, I really think it was the guy's manner of speaking that triggered it. I ended up dating one of them for quite a long time, and know other people wondered if he was gay, too - as far as I know, he wasn't/isn't at all.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:00 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Most of the people I (a straight girl) have ever been attracted to fall on the side of 'gayer' in their presentation for one reason or another; thin body type, boyish good looks as opposed to tall dark and handsome, total lack of any bro/macho mannerisms. I'm just one woman, but I know I'm not the only one whose taste leans this way. It doesn't mean I want someone gay, or that I really even think of those things that I am attracted to as 'gay' things at all, it's just what gives me good vibes. Macho gives me bad vibes well over half the time. 'Gayer' for lack of a better way of putting it, is more relatable, more human, more interesting, and at least to my brain, sexier.

I would only work on the voice thing, if you must. It's fine to speak softly or with a slightly higher pitch but you still need to project confidence and authority in what you're saying, and the pattern of pitch can really sell or break you. I think lack of control over your voice is unattractive in any gender or orientation, and I have been totally put off of people on the basis of voice, but more because their pattern of inflection was weird or they were kind of nasal, etc. A soft voice with steady pitch can still be totally hot.
posted by slow graffiti at 11:12 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

A few years ago there was this period where my luck with ladies was not great but my luck with lads was awesome–except I’m straight, so it was all very flattering but no thanks. One night (after a guy tried to kiss me in a bar) I found out that to the last one all my friends–male and female, gay and straight–that I’d met in my new city had assumed I was gay until they heard otherwise.

My friend, I have turned my luck around.

And I did that by embracing my gay identity.

Wait, scratch that. I did that by embracing my identity, gender roles and stereotypes be damned. Realizing that the world thinks I’m gay actually made it feel OK for me to be my effeminate straight dude self. As in: oh, wait, I’m not weird, the city is filled with guys like me. They’re fun and outgoing and totally unselfconcious and no one judges them and everyone likes them–the fact that many of them happen to be gay is besides the point.

Women don’t like swagger or competitiveness or aggression, they like confidence. You’re a good-looking and charming guy! Own it–and that’ll give you the confidence to the bold moves you need to on any gals who are missing the point.

Just today a stranger I met at a coffee shop posted a missed connection for me on Craigslist. It actually says at the end, “Gay or straight?”

But the poster is a woman.
posted by rafter at 11:31 PM on March 21, 2011 [14 favorites]

I think masculine flirting is sort of towing the line between confidence and arrogance, in a sort of "I'm really awesome, but not an asshole, but you're awesome too" kind of a way. Honestly, I think men have a harder time of it than women. It's a fine line.

Men also flirt by catering/taking care of a woman they are interested in, but without pushing it too far by doing anything that is overstepping boundaries or makes her feel like she owes them something. Things like getting drinks, helping her hail a cab, giving her your jacket are all in this arena.

Seriously though don't worry about the gay thing. I swear half my female friends think every fifth guy they meet is gay. Of course they never pick out the actual gay ones. It's also never stopped any of them from dating any of these guys, so go figure.
posted by whoaali at 12:08 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have two friends who might interest you, one is gay and very popular in the lunchroom with the women (of all ages, including the clueless), the other straight, short, chubby and very popular with women (his best friend is a woman).

Both of them are interested in what women think, say, do. One of them likes sex with women. I like them both a lot, but I'm hoping to have sex with the straight one, because he likes sex with women.

I hope I'm not being obtuse or offensive, but I think it's a plus that you're seen in that light. Not so you can be a fake gal pal to a fag hag or whatever the terminology is, but because you're seen as a person - not as a man with an agenda. Maybe the question is not what your dad would tell you but what your sister would say.
posted by b33j at 2:14 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Check out some of David DeAngleo's stuff.

Can't help but laugh at all those who say "just be yourself!" We take it for granted that every other skill in life can improved with training, and that you shouldn't be able to drive a car or cut someone's hair without careful study. Yet when it comes to choosing potentially-lifelong mates and the parents of our children we're supposed to sit on our hands and let the Fates take over?

The people who are shitting on what they call "pick-up artist" stuff are bringing their own baggage to the table, and most are basing their prejudice on the reading of a single book, "The Game". That's like basing your entire knowledge of the internet on a single viewing of "The Social Network."

Anyway, there's a lot to learn about this if you go looking. Again, I recommend David DeAngelo's stuff for a gentle and helpful introduction.
posted by meadowlark lime at 5:45 AM on March 22, 2011

The people who are shitting on what they call "pick-up artist" stuff are bringing their own baggage to the table, and most are basing their prejudice on the reading of a single book, "The Game". That's like basing your entire knowledge of the internet on a single viewing of "The Social Network."

Nah, I was in a band with a dude who worked for a pickup artist consulting service (yes, they exist). He would book our band to play his company's events for free, and he and his co-workers were some of the sketchiest, douchiest, most obnoxious folks I knew, and his work parties were some of the skeeziest I've ever attended.
posted by Jon_Evil at 5:53 AM on March 22, 2011

Obligatory "I Once Went Out With A Dude Who..." anecdote.

I recently had an experience dating a guy who I thought might be gay. It was related to something that happened when we had sex.

If you're not at that point yet with these women you're flirting with, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
posted by Sara C. at 7:05 AM on March 22, 2011

Roissy is somewhat of a notorious (nefarious?) internet phenomenon, but may be a good starting point for someone who may be 'too much' of a 'nice guy'. The theory there is that girls respond to 'alphas', and you may be behaving too 'beta' with the girls you are meeting, and are thus not demonstrating your masculinity.

Whether you subscribe to those theories or not, you will at least get a different perspective on things.. I would recommend checking it out.
posted by eas98 at 7:09 AM on March 22, 2011

Roissy is somewhat of a notorious (nefarious?) internet phenomenon, but may be a good starting point for someone who may be 'too much' of a 'nice guy'. The theory there is that girls respond to 'alphas', and you may be behaving too 'beta' with the girls you are meeting, and are thus not demonstrating your masculinity.

One of the most telling aspects of the whole "Game" style pickup systems is that they talk about the importance of confidence and self-assurance, but jump immediately to debasing women as a substitute for developing any real internal confidence. Witness this gem from the Roissy site that eas98 linked to:
"It’s imperative that you sexualize a hot girlfriend soon after beginning to date her. Hot chicks have huge egos and crave a man who will bring them down to earth. This bringing down to earth process involves basically treating her like a convenient wet hole."
Read those two sentences. They are not sarcasm, they are actual genuine advice. If they sound like good ideas, well, you've got your work cut out for you. If they don't, keep in mind that they are the essence of "The Game." All of the "It builds your confidence" stuff that is used to describe the game is a cheap shortcut: it doesn't deal with underlying issues of confidence and self-perception, it simply debases the people being targeted.

If you're okay with that, then roll on, friend. If not, look elsewhere.
posted by verb at 7:25 AM on March 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

(I pause to add that "The Game" absolutely skeeves me out, as it does pretty much every woman I know. If I got even the faintest hint that a guy was using PUA/Game stuff on me, I would walk away, possibly after saying something mean.)

It's just "The Rules" but for men.

There is a lot of good stuff to be gleaned from the various pick up artist sites and books and whatnot.

Chief among them: A lot of people will change who they really are when trying to woo someone. A lot of people turn into the ass-kissing, "oh, whatever m'lady likes, my preferences are irrelevant" milquetoasts when they are trying to impress someone. We get into a goal oriented frame of mind: me want sexytime, do not screw up. And many of us are stuck with the "girls are different" presumptions- "little girls are sugar and spice, little boys are toadstools and evil urges" kinds of things. So we try like hell to mask who we are (*) because we misinterpret what our grandmothers told us. We fake it 'till we make it.

(*) and this applies to men and women alike. 90% of dating is trying to avoid revealing that we want to jump the other's bones.

And that's a huge mistake. Of course we should be polite and charming and not violate social norms. But faking who we are leads to misery.

So when we meet someone who doesn't do any of these things, we project our own insecurities and the douchiness of others onto them. "I'm nervous around guys I like, most of the guys I have dated have been nervous around girls they like. This guy isn't nervous, so he must not like me. Or girls at all even."

Anyway, that's the lesson to be learned from the pickup artist books. People like it when you are real with them. If someone accidentally snorts when they laugh and it is funny, if the person sitting across the table from them does not acknowledge it, that's phoney. It immediately sets in their mind a narrative of "ok, this dude is clearly restraining himself, what else is he hiding/faking?"

(And the rest of the stuff is creepy bullshit, but probably works for a lot of people. But it only works on girls who have the awful mindset the authors think *all* girls have.)
posted by gjc at 7:29 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

[folks, take PUA debate elsewhere and help the OP answer their question, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:24 AM on March 22, 2011

Recently, I was dating this guy who was new in town. In his previous town, his best friend was gay and lots of their acquaintances thought they were a couple. Many people in the other town assumed he was gay.
I wouldn't have guessed this myself. I'm bi and I've spent much time in the gay community, so I was surprised that others saw this in him when I didn't. Of course, I'd spent most of the last few weeks in compromising positions with him, so I was pretty sure he was straight or at least mostly straight.
Really, though, this totally turned me on. He was secure in his sexuality. Secure enough that he could hang out in San Francisco gay bars, was super cool with his gay best friend's sexuality, had lots of gay and straight friends through the years. It's not like he hadn't had the chance if he wanted it, but he knew it wasn't him. It was SO AMAZINGLY HOT. I think many bi women find it difficult to date straight men who aren't comfortable in the gay community because it requires so much compartmentalizing of life and friends. It was such a relief to be with a guy who could operate comfortably in gay circles without shutting down or feeling insecure or like less of 'a man'. Once we went to a gay bar with a bunch of our friends. He got drunk and it brought out a very very effeminate and flamboyant side. It was totally cute. And the best part was that he couldn't take his hands off me when we got home.
So. My point to you is OWN IT. You are more attractive when you're confident and secure in yourself. As long as you know that you like women, it doesn't really matter if a couple of people make assumptions. Flirt like yourself, not like this mythical 'man' you assume exists. It's possible that, in trying to be someone else, you would turn off the girl who would like you for *you*.
posted by aabbbiee at 9:13 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are you physically fit? This changes everything. I've been on both sides. When not particularly fit, I was perceived as something that the word "gay" was used as an approximation for.

Become physically fit if you aren't.
posted by krilli at 10:15 AM on March 22, 2011

I knew two guys who I thought were gay at first. They turned out to, ahem, definitely not be.

I think the voice is a big one. These two guys didn’t have particularly high- or low-pitched voices, but they both had this slight sassy-gay-friend intonation and word choice. They also were expressive with their hands in a feminine-end-of-the-spectrum way. Nothing flaming—I was never positive that they were gay, just suspicious.

But really, because I thought a lot about this, with both guys I remember thinking that they were so nice. And not in an annoying “nice guy” way. Just genuinely nice. They were very comfortable with talking to me and touching me and being overly familiar, except without giving off a sleazy feeling like I was being gamed into bed. Which made me think “gay,” because a lot of straight guys, even ones who are confident, are a little bit awkward, like they’re afraid of being creepy or too familiar, or maybe if they touch me too much their pants will explode (see the Virgin Hover Hand).

I guess to sum up, they didn’t give off a vibe that they were in any way interested in sleeping with me, which most straight men will, at some level. And then it turned out that they definitely were—maybe it was all part of their strategy because I was lulled into this false sense of security and then BAM they would turn around with a major move. And it totally worked both times.

So I think keep doing what you’re doing, but be sure to always be clear about your intentions, whether it’s sex or romance or a trip to the soda shoppe. Because if you couple sometimes coming off as maybe gay with that infuriating vague let’s-hang-out attitude, you’re going to keep confusing women.
posted by thebazilist at 10:26 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

This may be totally wrong, but I suggest you ask your friend if you have a 'gay' vocal intonations or a 'gay' sounding laugh. I knew a really nice guy, but everyone, (and I mean EVERYONE) was convinced that he was gay. Why? His laugh was almost sterotypically queeny. Any no one wanted to tell him.
posted by zia at 2:29 PM on March 22, 2011

Oops, meant to say "ask your friends" not friend
posted by zia at 2:31 PM on March 22, 2011

AND no one wanted to tell him!
posted by zia at 2:32 PM on March 22, 2011

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