Do The Cuffs and Collars Match? Embarrassment, Rejection and Social Control In Relationships With Women (and Other Men)

by Harmony's Riddle

A common theme for many people, both male and female, is embarrassment — specifically, embarrassment that a person has felt in the past and anticipates for the future.

Question: Is it a good idea to study pick-up and seduction in order to get past feelings of embarrassment related to women, sex and dating?

Typical embarrassment-related issues include the following:

– the fear of that others will “out” a guy for studying “pick-up” (i.e. social skills applied to sexual relationships with women).
– the expected embarrassment of looking back when you’re old and gray and knowing that you didn’t study these “sexual social skills”.
– the embarrassment of being too young or too old (the measure is relative, not absolute) to study such sexual social skills.

Your entire brain and body may be stuck on the idea that you absolutely shouldn’t approach women, and yet, when you’re in a socially “sanctioned” event like a cocktail party, your problems may drastically diminish or even disappear.

Embrasse Moi?

Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller.

Embarrassment is a mental habit that, by definition, shows up at inopportune moments. There might have been a time when someone used shame against you as a social control tactic (women try to do this to men all the time, precisely because it works so well against the average guy). If you grew up in a sexually repressive culture or under strict religious rules about “the sins of the flesh”, shame is at work there, too, for various reasons.

There’s also the well-known and often-repeated fact that social rejection physically hurts.

There may have been a time in your life when you didn’t exercise for a long interval due to illness, injury or apathy. Instead, perhaps you sat on the couch (maybe watching entertaining videos about pickup and seduction, even). What happens when you finally get up and start moving? It hurts. You’re physically stiff and weak; everything feels totally wrong. Part of you just wants to go back to sitting on the couch, to enjoy the entertaining sideshow while stuffing your face with natural painkillers like chocolate, sugar and saturated fat.

Learning “sexual social skills” is the same way.

Never Talk to Stranges — Unless You Want to Find New Friends (And Lovers)

Many people have no problem approaching women when they’re “supposed to” (cocktail parties, for example). This shows that for some, social skills themselves aren’t necessarily the problem.

The next step is to realize that the sexual form of social skills are completely healthy and normal. It’s true that other people will often try to leverage social norms like the “never talk to strangers” rule against you. Who is first taught that rule? Children, in grade school or even earlier. Anyone who still believes that they’re supposed to be afraid of strangers is probably living a very small, limited life (this is more common than you might think). By contrast, everyone who has a well-developed lifestyle has at some point had to make new friends — i.e. talk to strangers.

The “don’t talk to strangers” social norm is great for protecting second-graders, but not so useful once you’ve learned to differentiate between potential friend and foe. Women in general are socially skilled (they’ve been competing against each other for status since grade school), so if they try to shame you, often it’s for the sake of control (i.e. power and the quick ego boost of cutting someone else down) rather than genuine fear of a “scary/creepy/etc.” guy.

Men who want to throw scriptures at you — either of the social programming kind (“you’re studying pickup? What a loser!”) or any other kind of rote tactic — are doing the same thing. Recognize that most guys have no reliable skills, techniques or strategies before they start to study pickup or “seduction”. This is why finding a woman is referred to as “getting lucky”.

What does that mean? It means that the average guy is embarrassed, too, but he’s stuck where you used to be. The typical guy doesn’t even know that “sexual social skills” exist, so when he sees it, his first reaction is to curl up on the couch and stuff his face rather than stand up and get moving. Anything beyond his limited range of motion is threatening because he might get “hurt”, just like your muscles will hurt the day after a challenging, safe, relevant and effective (if you stick with it) workout.

Not In This Lifetime: Sexual Social Skills vs. Self-Isolation

At least in terms of online dating, I’ve found that the older a woman gets, the more likely she’s single for a good reason (i.e. personality flaws that make relationships difficult), but given the divorce rate, plenty of young women in their biologically “hot” years (age 18-25) have similar problems.

Learning to effectively screen potential mates can save you massive amounts of time and frustration.

It’s also easy to fall into the habit of projecting yourself into the future, then collapsing your anticipation of future failures into the present moment. This manifests itself as what’s called “anxiety”. Note that learning social skills — sexual and otherwise — becomes even more important, not less, as you age. Social isolation is one of the primary problems of modern, urbanized society. This means that you have the entire rest of your life to either be isolated (loneliness is optional), or improve your range of social motion in all directions, including your strength, endurance, skill and flexibility in dealing with women. Half of all marriages end in divorce and fewer people are getting married at all, so there will be no lack of single women to “game” as you grow older.

It might be useful to take bootcamp run by pickup artists***. Equally useful could be to buy a book for about twenty bucks from your local bookstore that contains exercises for dealing with social anxiety. You might take a look at clarifying your criteria regarding valid opinions from other people: the opinions that you’re willing to listen to may be very different from those that you learn to recognize as social control tactics, or habitual “scriptures” that are otherwise not worth your time.

A Terrifying Shortcut to Finding Social Freedom

Handcuffs dangling between breasts clad in shimmering leather.

There is one shortcut, though. It’s both exciting and probably terrifying to you right now. You undoubtedly already know what I’m about to say, so you can probably guess the shortcut before you even read it.

The shortcut is this: actually expose yourself to embarrassment. Go out, walk up to a woman and do something completely weird. Use a pickup line that really isn’t “you”. Wear mismatched socks. Sing to a woman instead talking to her. Cut your hair in a strange way or wear unusual clothes just to see how people will stereotypically react to you. All of these techniques will show you that “strangers” aren’t looking at you, anyway — they see their own preconceived notions, often conditioned through social programming over the course of their entire lives. The embarrassment that your brain and body feels is a similarly conditioned reflex that is no more “natural” than discriminating against people who have red hair, for example (or any other form of racism or sexism).

Once you fully experience and internalize the “normality” other people’s bizarre knee-jerk reactions, you might notice more of your own. You may even wake up one day and become aware that only a miniscule percentage of the human population are conscious of their habitual behavior patterns at all (regardless of their lip service to the contrary). And once you see that clearly, the future will become your playground. All the adults still living by childish rules like “sex is scary and bad”, “never talk to strangers” or “you’re weird if you purposefully study social skills” will have shown themselves to be the ones trapped in the arrested development of very old, yet stubbornly ignorant children. The avenue by which you choose to arrive at that understanding is up to you, and the opportunities to see it clearly grow with every passing day.

***Update: A critical point was left unmentioned above. More important than taking a bootcamp or buying a book is being ready and willing to dedicate yourself to the continuing process of change over time. Many people can have a “life-changing” experience at a bootcamp, seminar or other “immersion”-related event of some kind — and when they get back to their familiar environment, they slip back into old habits.

The key to change often (but not always) takes place long before any drastic action is taken. The real question to ask yourself before you start is, “am I ready to make as many mistakes, as quickly as possible, and to learn from those mistakes as fully as possible, in order to attain my goal?” In order to do that, you have to define the deeper values that drive your sense of purpose, and connect those values to the goal(s) that you’ve set for yourself. The values come first; if necessary, allow the goals to change. Once you’ve done that, the rest is relatively simple. Self-reliance is less expensive in the long run (and probably in the short run, too) than any bootcamp — and social support is accessible from local groups, online and elsewhere.