Playbook Rule No.1:

Play it cool and don’t seem too eager

I was at a cafe recently when I overheard a conversation between two close friends. (Yes, I am a bit of an eavesdropper).

One of them, let’s call him Joe, was talking about how he recently dated his childhood crush. He had always felt that she was way out of his league. Cut to present day, Joe has a fancy job and a nice house. He stumbles upon aforementioned crush on social media, realizes they lived in the same city, and that she was single. The two of them connect, start talking regularly. In a few months, much to Joe’s happiness, they were dating.

However, Joe never felt at ease in the relationship, because he couldn't be himself. He went along with her likes and interests, her opinions and her lifestyle. All because he was terrified of showing her who he really was, in case she discovered his worst fear, she was still way out of his league.

The girl realized there was something wrong when Joe couldn’t handle a conversation for longer than a few minutes. When she did ask him about it, Joe ‘played it cool’, pretending nothing was wrong. This went on for some more time. She brought it up again, persistent this time about how she felt they were emotionally disconnected. Joe found his way out of, what was turning into a pretty stressful relationship, by saying he wasn’t ready for emotional intimacy.

The girl of Joe’s childhood dreams had turned into a run-of-the-mill, modern dating incident. Almost a non-incident.

His friend reassures him and tells him that he did well by getting out of all the drama that came along with being with this girl.

Why, I wondered, was there an implied, congratulatory tone to this conversation? The girl put herself out there and demanded answers to a perfectly legitimate question. Joe, in what can only be called an act of cowardice- dodges it and comes out of the situation without having experienced anything real.

The conversation reminded me of a popular episode on the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother”. Barney, a casanova, tells his friend Ted, an old-fashioned romantic, that he can’t call a girl that he just met, right away. He would seem way too eager and ruin his chances with her. Barney insists that Ted has to wait at least 3 days before calling the girl back.

This is now popularly known as the 3-day call back rule.

It’s become a part a cornerstone of the proverbial Modern Dating Rulebook for Men.

According to Mark Manson, (author of the current raging bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck), when it comes to dating, men are constantly taught by peers and pop-culture, that it pays off more ‘to play it cool’.

However, he argues that playing it cool has lesser success with women than showing them ‘your rough edges’.

Being vulnerable, according to Manson, means doing things like expressing an opinion or telling a joke that may or may not is perceived well. It’s sticking your neck out in social situations, “…In this way, vulnerability represents a deep and subtle form of power.”

Vulnerability. Now that’s a word that represents a certain emotional weakness, for some of us. Not for Manson.

His philosophy of vulnerability has to do with an honest, authentic portrayal of who you really are. According to him, it takes guts. “A man who’s able to make himself vulnerable is saying to the world, 'I don’t care what you think of me; this is who I am, and I refuse to be anyone else.” He’s saying he’s not needy and that he’s high status.”

In social situations, relationships, at work, we do tend to keep our guard up.

A defensive guard that we think protects us but is really doing us a disservice.

It is robbing us of a good time if nothing else.

Carlos, on the other hand, definitely knows how to have a good time. (link)


A man named Carlos e-mailed every Nicole at the University of Calgary, to find the Nicole he met at a bar. He was laughed at by all the other 245 Nicoles he cc-ed onto the email, and there were tweets doing the rounds about how 'Carlos just wasn’t getting the hint'.

This grand, stupidly vulnerable romantic gesture worked surprisingly well in Carlos’s favour, though. It brought the real Nicole out into the open. Turns out, she hadn’t given him a fake number, the Canadian number she was using was a short-term one, and she was very touched by the gesture. All in all, a happy ending for Carlos, who stuck his neck out publicly.

Lesson learned? Dreams can come true if you let the world take a peek at the ‘real you’. No swag attached.

Imagine the man or woman of your dreams. Would this be someone who you could trust, who is comfortable letting their guard down, so that you can too? Someone who is honest about their faults, and sometimes maybe even yours? Someone you can laugh with and not get caught up in playing games of power? If your answer isn’t yes, then either you’ve been reading too much of Jane Austen or you’re a fan of time-consuming, energy absorbing, psycho-drama. Or both.

I think we could all afford to be a little more like Carlos.

Joe, for one, has a long way to go.

Words by

Uttara Krishnadas

Content Writer at Wysa

Source: and Ideas.ted

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