Thursday, November 13, 2008

Uncorking the 'Mystery'

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine traveled to San Francisco on a work-related sojourn. While there, he was in the company of a fellow employee who happened to be a) beautiful and b) female. Although the two of them were only platonic friends, or platonic colleagues, he couldn't help but notice the reactions she kept getting and the lameness that seemed to surround it.

Was his feeling jealousy-inspired?

Not really.

He didn't mind the fact that she was getting attention, but what made it all the more strange was the fact that so many would-be "Pickup Artists" were basing their entire "script" off of a VH-1 reality show that the whole thing began to seem totally unbelievable.

He would see groups of two or three guys come and approach, usually him first, with an off-the-wall question, i.e. Hey, is there a concert going on here? (When there obviously was not).

Then, they would quickly turn to his female companion and deliver a quick insult: "Hey, your nose is kind of crooked."

So, after having "opened the set," "disarmed the resistance" and offered "the neg" they moved in for their number close, which never worked. The entire thing was way too forced, way too transparent, and way too, well, dumb.

In fact, the very widespread popularity/awareness of the "Mystery Method" is its own undoing, as way too many people are familiar with the standard checkboxes involved in the process to enable the proverbial wool to be pulled over their eyes.

I may not be the best advice-giver on this stuff, since I've spent most of my adulthood squarely in the "single" category. But then again, sometimes the best descriptions of what's going on inside a fishbowl would come from someone looking from the outside in, and not from a fish swimming around inside. [Think about it -- who would you rather listen to talk about money management: Someone who was once poor but since became rich; or someone who inherited wealth and was always rich?]

Well, here's my profound conclusion: People date who they know. I know, I know, I win the obvious award for this one, much like my groundbreaking observation that people win political elections because they run.

But this time I know I have statistics on my side. Something like 80% of marriages and long-term relationships form in one of three ways -- work, school, and friends-of-friends. Sometimes it might even be two, or even three, of the three working in concert.

But just look around you -- that's really how it happens. I know if I start thinking about all the friends I have who are married, engaged, or quasi-engaged, roughly 4 in 5 couples met one of those ways -- not so much for elevators, bars, or grocery markets where men won womens' hearts by telling them how crooked their nose was, or how annoying their laugh sounds.

So if you're single, and you're not in school anymore, and you telecommute (or work is somehow off-limits for dating) you need to get to know more people. Join things. Volunteer. Get to know your local baristas and bartenders. The whole time, just remember you might not be meeting your partner directly, but you may be meeting his/her brother, sister, cousin, roommate, best friend, or some variation of the above. Be friendly to everyone, and let the ripple effect happen on its own.

As Chris Matthews titled the first chapter of Hardball, "It's not who you know, it's who you get to know."

Good things will happen.

You can save the hocus-pocus, the set-openers, the negs, and the parlor tricks for your local follies presentation.

In the past few years, I've definitely met a few guys with lots of highly elaborate "theories" about how to meet women (The Seven Threads of Conversation, the drawers full of books and tapes on the subject, the endless war stories about their exploits in number-closing, etc.)

You know what ONE thing they all had in common?

They were all choice.

But the choice, mind you, was not theirs.

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