One thing that’s become abundantly clear since launching the forum is that a lot of guys are consistently asking for 1) a roadmap to steady improvement and 2) help in specific areas that I’ve already covered in other places. In fact, everything I’m about to present here can be found in various forms in other posts and in some of my products. But the questions keep coming up more and more, so it’s obvious that people aren’t seeing them (I don’t blame them, I blame my lack of marketing finesse).

So I’ll lay it all out here quickly and succinctly: how to steadily improve your love-life, your confidence and your social skills. Throughout this article I will then point to the appropriate resources that people keep missing.

The Three Factors:

Everything we work on in this entire thing called “Game” can be fit neatly into one of three categories: getting over fear/anxiety, building the appropriate skills, developing an attractive lifestyle. I covered this a while back in my post The Three Fundamentals. So for example, a typical guy who comes to this industry may have to: 1) overcome his fear of expressing his sexuality, 2) work on his sense of humor and his ability in bed, and 3) stop living with mom. If he can nail those three things, he’ll pretty much be set for the rest of his life. This is a reasonably average example of a guy getting into this stuff.

[note]So if we break it down one step further, looking at HOW to accomplish each of these fundamentals, this is what we find:
– Overcoming fear/anxiety involves progressive desensitization.
– Building a skill involves developing proper habits and breaking bad habits.
– An attractive lifestyle and persona requires long-term attention to self-improvement.

The first item involves taking action.
The second item involves proper education and taking action and then feedback.
The third item involves introspection and then taking action. [/note]

If you haven’t noticed, taking action is necessary for ANYTHING to improve. Let me say that again: taking action is required to get better at ANYTHING. Education without action gets you NO WHERE. Action without education can sometimes work, but far more slowly. Action with proper education and feedback is BY FAR the most efficient route to improvement. But action must always take precedent. Indeed, experience is your best teacher and it always will be.

Overcoming Your Fear

And here’s where we run into the biggest issue with this entire industry: we sell and give out education, not experience. As a result, surveys have found that the vast majority of guys who read this stuff and educate themselves will never actually go out and use it. Chances are you reading this, you, right now, have either been reading this stuff for years and never used it, or you read this stuff for years before you finally worked up the nerve to use it.

The problem is your fears. Fear of rejection, fear of intimacy, fear of sexuality, etc. One of the most common reactions to fear and anxiety is to tell yourself, “I need to learn X, Y and Z first.”

Actually, you don’t. Sure, X, Y and Z don’t hurt, but they’re not necessary. Taking action is necessary.

About a year ago, I recognized that 1) not only is fear/anxiety the root cause of 80% of guys’ sticking points with women, but that also 2) fear/anxiety is the root cause of why 80% of guys don’t actually ever get off their ass and do anything with what they learned.

So how do we get a guy to take action?

Glad you asked.

The answer is progressive desensitization. All of the recent psychological research on fear and anxieties points to a progressive and incremental desensitization to whatever causes the anxiety.

How does this work? Let’s say you have terrible approach anxiety. The typical advice in the PUA community and dating advice industry usually amount to little more than, “Just get off your ass and do it.” Sometimes they may give you breathing exercises, special openers to memorize, games to play with your buddies, etc.

Either way, none of it ever really alleviates that fear of approaching, it just hopefully distracts you from it. Then once you’re distracted, most coaches will have you approach a bunch of girls right in a row and bam, no more approach anxiety.

Until two days later when you go out again and not only is it back, but it’s even worse because you’re putting all of this pressure on yourself to live up to the approaches you did a couple days before.

This is a horrible way to go about it with little real long-term effect on guys. This is why there’s such widespread discontent with pick up “bootcamps” and the like.

Instead, here’s an example of how progressive desensitization would dictate getting over AA:

  • For the next two days, ask every single cashier/waitress how their day is going. Restaurants, clothing stores, bus drivers, etc. Ask them all how their day is going. They’ll respond, they’re paid to.
  • Go out one afternoon and ask 20 people what time it is.
  • Go out the next afternoon and ask 10 attractive women what time it is.
  • Go out the next afternoon and ask 10 attractive women for their time and then ask how their day is going. Smile when you ask.
  • Go out and ask 10 women for the time and then where they’re from.
  • Go out and compliment 10 attractive women on something they’re wearing.
  • Go out and compliment 10 attractive women on something they’re wearing and then ask where they’re from.
  • Go out and tell 10 women that you find them cute and want to meet them.
  • Go out and tell 10 women that you find them cute and want to meet them, and then ask them out on a date.

This is just an example. It can be expanded/contracted or altered to fit your specific needs.

There are three parts of this method:
1) Start easy. Even the smallest action is better than no action.
2) Do high volume to desensitize yourself at each level.
3) Progress in increments.

The amazing thing is that when you do it this way, you can more or less permanently alleviate your anxiety and fear within a week or two. I’ve seen it and done it with dozens of guys at this point. Your approach anxiety will never go away. In fact, studies show that the more you fight it, the worse it will become.

But this method will train you to be able to act despite it, and even act comfortably despite it… more or less permanently, within a week or two.

Building the Appropriate Habits

The other major mistake this industry makes is that they teach short-term fixes for major skills such as conversations, humor, leading, etc. What I mean is, when you read typical dating advice on “how to start conversations,” they’ll give you 1-2 good lines, then explain why these lines work, and then leave you on your own.

Sometimes they’ll get into very esoteric theory and explain the concepts of “value-giving”, reciprocation, mirroring, blah, blah, blah. Again, great to learn, but going out and applying it is a whole different ball-game.

The thing is that skills like conversation skills, humor and the like are built out of the correct habits. Guys who suck at carrying a conversation don’t only suck because they don’t know what makes a good conversation (education), but they developed very poor conversational habits at young age (experience; taking action).

The way to overcome this, again, isn’t a one-hit-wonder method, but it’s giving guys exercises, tools and benchmarks so that they can develop the appropriate habits over a period of time. For instance, you, reading this right now, tell a true story about a stray dog that lasts for over 60 seconds — don’t think about it, just go — starting now…

Could you do it? Probably not. But there are exercises and techniques which you can practice, both on your own and with your friends, that will turn you into a great story-teller, will teach you to be able to improvise dynamic and exciting conversation, and help you engage with others on the fly. It just takes work and progressive, incremental education.

Long-Term Lifestyle

Building an attractive persona (body language, vocal projection, style/fashion) as well as an attractive and happy lifestyle (hobbies, career, living situation, health, friends, etc.) isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a long-term project that never ends and it’s accomplished by 1) asking the right questions and 2) setting the appropriate long-term goals for yourself and then setting out to achieve them.

Typical “attractive” lifestyle advice consists of:
– Get a cool outfit and haircut.
– Like your job.
– Try to live in a cool city and hang out with cool friends at cool clubs… or whatever.

This is all fine and good, but these goals are going to differ from person to person. They’re decent examples, but any specific example is only going to be useful for a minority of guys reading. What will be considered attractive on a 40-year-old lawyer divorcee will be totally different than what’s attractive on a 22-year-old college senior and vice-versa.

Lifestyle is determined by looking at the proper factors in your life, establishing both near-term and long-term goals, and then TAKING ACTION towards those goals.

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15 Responses to Breakdown: Improving Quickly

  1. David says:

    Mark you could consider a banner ad for G3 on this page as well as having a separate link for it (instead of putting it under ‘products’). You could also incorporate G3 somehow into the ebook sign up box. And are other gurus advertising it?

    If anyone is interested, I’m someone who’s on ‘the other side’ and really recommend the G3 programme. Not only that but I hope to do some training in my city when Mark comes to Europe in the summer.

  2. Kevin says:

    I think it says a lot about the dating industry that the concept of gradual exposure/systematic desensitization, which has been a gold standard for treating phobias for decades is considered a fairly new idea.

    I’d guess in the future dating coaches are going to discover more and more therapy concepts and start porting them over into their advice. It’s going to be more based on what empirically works, and get away from the cheesier self-help stuff.

    There’s actually a lot more your can do to make exposure therapy work, both as someone doing it on yourself, and as a coach helping a client. There are lots of good Cognitive Behavior Therapy manuals that go into it.

    • Mark says:

      Yup. I’ve just started diving into this stuff in the last year and I really don’t see how this industry doesn’t end up in the place you’re describing eventually.

  3. Nathan says:

    Hey man,

    Something I REALLY struggle with is story-telling. I’m totally fine if it’s a few sentences, but if it’s a longer story I stumble big time. I feel like I almost subconsciously self-sabotage myself early on because I know (think) I’m bound to mess up the punchline/story.

    I really want to work on this.

  4. questra says:

    Mark, have to admit, I’m one of your readers that didn’t know much about your online coaching program. I disagree however, that your marketing is shitty. It’s just not pushy.

    Your material is the most genuine, honest and practical material I’ve ever come across on the topic. Part of the charm comes from the fact your writing sounds real, not just promotional hype to sell your readers something. A lot of other stuff out there just sounds too much like marketing and selling, without much substance.

    Yes, we readers are spoilt. You put out too much good material for free. But we love it.

  5. DJ Fuji says:

    Fantastic post, as always, Mark. I’ve got a feeling I’ll be linking this on both the blog and facebook a lot as an answer to frequently asked questions.Great, great stuff here. Agree 100%.

  6. Domonic says:

    Mark, I just wanted to thank you for this great info and for your time in making a forum and posts like these. With Sinn’s useless fake war he’s doing recently, I realize how great you are.

  7. Axel says:

    I don’t know about others but give me some guidelines and I am set. For me personally, I know a quick answer is not the solution. It’s more of a gentle nudge that I need; I just need an abstract idea of what I am doing and that is all the verbal advice I could need (and have already attained).

    I’ve realized that it is up to my intuitiveness and myself to come up with ways to fully and creatively express my thoughts and I like it that way; I never know which way a conversation will turn. The other day I just made a friend of this guy who I thought was nothing but a bully. Turns out he’s a nice,albeit misguided fellow. I just need some ideas to play around with, hopefully other guys are the same.

  8. Roy says:

    Something that crossed my mind while reading this post: I can see how taking all of these actions will increase a guys threshold to pressure, but how does telling a girl that she is “cute, attractive, and you want to meet them” early in the conversation, fit in with me being the “prize”?

    • Mark says:

      Think of it as telling her she just won the lottery.

      Just because you’re a prize doesn’t mean she isn’t.

  9. Robert says:

    This should be near the top of the Best Of list

  10. Leo says:

    I understand what you say and I like it. But how do you get out of your head? How do you stop the over-analysis? Just acting progressively? And how about the other kind of anxieties present in the dating world, not only approach anxiety? Sexual anxiety, looking for approval, etc?

  11. Tobias says:

    Leo: See implementation intention. Getting out of your head is simple. Just talk to people. Especially, when you go out. Just say some random bullshit such as “This is an awesome song! Let’s dance.” Probably, she is not going to dance with you after five seconds of talking. But who gives a shit?! You are out of head. That was the goal. After you are out of your head, you will be able to take action.

  12. Toni says:

    Hey Mark,

    how does self worthyness relate to this improvements?
    Is it true, that your selfworthiness determines your sucess with women to a big degree? So that would mean, that improving in the three factors raises your selfworthiness.

    Or does self worthiness stand totally apart from sucess, so you dont need it, and as a result can be extremly sucessfull even with a very low selfworthiness?

    If thats the case, what would you recommend for raising the selfworthiness?

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