Understanding Approach Anxiety (AA)
The single most common question I’ve gotten over the years from guys just starting out in both day game and night game is “How do I get over approach anxiety?” Now I’ve written a lot about online game, and I’ve recommended in the past that guys choose one type of game and stick with it. But I want to make it clear that even if you’ve chosen to focus on the online realm, you will see vast improvements to your game if you learn to overcome your fears and approach women in real life. Approaching women in real life builds massive confidence, which shows through in how you conduct yourself in online game. And it prepares you to remain cool and collected when you meet a girl in person after talking online.
Before we get into the challenge itself, I want to go over a bit of why men tend to have approach anxiety in the first place. First, let me assure you that approach anxiety is totally normal, and most men experience it. For a lot of men, it feels totally debilitating. You are not alone, and you should not feel ashamed for having AA. It is a normal, natural, healthy part of your psyche that you should come to accept for what it is.
Fear and anxiety are designed to keep us cautious and prevent us from putting ourselves into dangerous situations. We are afraid of heights, because we know a fall from a high place could mean death. We are afraid of tigers, because a tiger can rip us apart. But why on Earth would we be afraid of talking to women? At first glance, it makes no sense. Women are not threatening and pose no danger.
So where does the approach anxiety come from? The most common explanation I’ve heard is that AA is really a fear of rejection. I find this explanation rather unsatisfactory. Rejection by a woman is just not any real threat to our health or wellbeing. I’ve been rejected by thousands of women over the years, as have all experienced PUAs, and I’m still perfectly healthy. And besides, when I experience AA, it doesn’t FEEL like a fear of rejection. I’m usually not thinking or worrying about rejection. It feels like something deeper, something more visceral. It’s a feeling that I’m doing something dangerous and wrong.
Our psychology has been filtered through a process of natural selection for thousands of years. The psychological traits that we have today are those that were most beneficial for our ancestors’ survival. Which brings me to a much better explanation for approach anxiety: in the primitive setting for which our brains are mostly still wired, women were a resource that men fought over. In that setting, making a move on the wrong woman could have gotten you beaten up or killed by the man who owned her.
For a modern equivalent, think about it this way. You see a nice new BMW with an open convertible top parked by the side of the road. You think about hopping in the driver’s seat, looking around the car, caressing the steering wheel, etc. What are you feeling? Probably a lot of anxiety. You probably have that inner voice screaming at you “This is wrong! This is dangerous!” Your mind is probably concocting nightmare scenarios of some big bodybuilder dude coming back and bashing your head in for trying to steal his car. You’re not afraid of the car rejecting you; you’re afraid of getting beaten up or killed or put in jail for messing with someone else’s property.
In modern times, women aren’t “owned” by men in the same way they were in primitive times, but our reactions haven’t really registered this yet since natural selection works slowly over many generations. Talking to a woman by herself in a coffee shop is very unlikely to get us in any sort of real trouble. But our unconscious minds are still stuck in the primitive setting which screams “Danger!” The best way to overcome approach anxiety, then, is to give our subconscious minds reference experience that shows that approaching women does not result in any sort of physical harm. In other words, suck it up and do it. That said, if you have severe approach anxiety and have a hard time just approaching a woman to hit on her, I’ve come up with a program to ease yourself into it to build up to that point in a series of smaller steps.
Here’s what I want you to do. Set aside four consecutive days where you have at least half the day to dedicate to these exercises. Take a few vacation days from work if you have to, or wait for a long weekend. Then each day you’re going to go to a city that is at least one hour drive from where you live. The bigger the city, the better, usually. If you don’t have a car, take a bus or train. You can either find a hotel and stay for the full four days, or you can drive back and forth each day. Either way is fine. The idea is to get you psychologically invested in the outcome. You’ve spent time and money traveling another city, so you’re less likely to wimp out on the exercises.
- Find a well-populated public area. Shopping malls, college campuses, beaches, and large department stores are all good options.
- Walk around the place and ask 15 people for the time. They could be men or women, old or young. Doesn’t matter. Ask them what time it is, say thank you, and continue walking. Try to notice your feelings as you approach each stranger.
- Once you’ve done this, give yourself a 20 minute break. Think about how your subconscious mind reacted to the exercise. Note the thoughts that came up, and note how your reaction changed from the beginning of the exercise to the end. Relax and congratulate yourself for having the discipline to complete the exercise.
- Now go ask for the time from 15 attractive girls and make a note of your feelings as before. Don’t be super picky. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if she was naked in your bed, would you fuck her. If the answer is yes, then she is attractive enough for this exercise.
- Once you’ve finished this, go buy yourself some sort of small reward. But only IF you’ve finished ALL of both exercises. Get something small that you enjoy and that you wouldn’t normally just buy anyway. For me, this would be something like an ice cream or a cinnamon roll. Enjoy it, and congratulate yourself. Tell yourself “This is what it feels like to be a real man who faces his fears and goes after what he desires. This is my new life. This is who I am now. I will never go back.”
If you have a hard time finding enough people to complete the exercises, go to multiple locations until you find enough people. If you only find 5 hot girls in the mall, go look for a grocery store or a department store, or wherever. Change venues as many times as you need to until you get all 15. Or stay in a venue and stand by the door waiting for them to come in. Or lower your standards a bit for which women to talk to. Just whatever you do, don’t skimp on the numbers.
- Go to a public place as before. It can be the same place or a different place, either is fine.
- Approach 10 hot girls (same criteria as before) and ask for recommendations for a good place of some variety in town (i.e. “Do you know where I could find a good Chinese restaurant around here?”). It could be anything: restaurant, hair salon, night club, or whatever. You could ask all 10 girls the same question or vary it up each time, either is fine. When she gives you a reply (an “I don’t know” is perfectly acceptable), thank her and continue.
- Take a 20 minute break and reflect on the previous exercise, as with day 1.
- Approach 10 hot girls, and ask for a recommendation, same as with the last exercise. Whatever she responds with, ask a follow up question that relates to her experience with the place. “Do you go there often?”, “What’s your favorite menu item?”, “Have you gotten good service there?” or something along those lines. Thank her and continue.
- Take a 20 minute break and reflect.
- Approach 10 hot girls pretending to know them. Go up to a girl saying something like “Hey Allison, how are you?” Chances are her name is not whatever name you guessed, so she will give you a weird look and tell you she’s the wrong person. Say something like “Oh sorry, I thought you were someone else”, and continue. If by chance her name is whatever you guessed, say where you know her from, like “Washington High School, right?” When she says no, politely excuse yourself as before. The purpose of this exercise is to put you in a slightly awkward interaction so that you can get used to awkwardness and realize that nothing bad comes of it. Note your feelings as you do this exercise, as with the previous exercises.
- Reward yourself as you did the day before, you badass motherfucker.
- Go to a public place, as before.
- Approach 10 hot girls, tell them you find them attractive, and ask them for a date. Something like this: “Hi, this is a little random, but I noticed you and I think you look really cute. I’m in a bit of a hurry right now, but I’d love to take you out for a drink.” If she says yes, take her name and number, say goodbye, and continue. If she says no, just say “Ok, well nice to meet you” and continue. Note that this is NOT good game, and you probably shouldn’t expect much follow up success from any numbers that you get doing this (though it doesn’t hurt to try). This is just to get you comfortable with stating your intentions to women you find attractive.
- Take a 20 minute break and definitely congratulate yourself, because this was the most difficult exercise so far. Take a note of your feelings and how your anxiety became less intense toward the end of the exercise.
- Walk around and notice girls in your age demographic. They don’t have to be attractive, they just have to be around the age of girls you’re interested in. Come up with some light-hearted tease for each one. It could be about how she’s walking or what she’s wearing or what her hair looks like, or anything. Could be that her hair reminds you of a lion. Or she’s walking like she’s running away from the cops. Or her hat makes her look like a crazy hippie. Don’t approach any of these girls, just make up the tease in your head. Come up with at least one tease for 30 different girls.
- Take a 20 minute break and just let your mind rest.
- Approach 5 hot girls with both your statement of attraction and a tease tailored especially to her. For example, “Hey this is kind of random, but I wanted to say I think you’re really cute. I like your hat, it makes you look like a crazy hippie.” Pause for her to respond. Usually she’ll say “haha thank you”. Then continue, “Listen, I don’t really have time to talk, but I’d love take you out for a drink.” If she agrees, take her name and number. If not, politely excuse yourself. This is slightly better game than the previous example, but will probably still result in flimsy number closes (if any at all). The idea here is to ease you into longer interactions that are personalized to the individual girl.
- Reward yourself. At this rate, you’ll soon be unstoppable.
- Go to a public place.
- Do exactly the last exercise from day 3 over again. Approach 5 girls with your statement of intent and a tease, then ask for a date. Note how it makes you feel.
- Rest for 20 minutes.
- Approach 10 girls with your statement of attraction and tease. But this time, don’t ask for the date right away. Keep talking. Keep going with teases and make up silly stories about her. Ask her questions about herself if you can’t think of anything else to say. If she asks you a question about yourself, that’s a good indication that she’s interested (this is called “hook point” in the PUA lingo). Continue the conversation a little bit after she asks you a question, then ask for the date as before. If she leaves and never asks you a question, that’s fine, it still counts.
- That was pretty hard, wasn’t it? Go reward yourself. You did something very few men have the balls to do, and you should feel awesome. You’ve successfully conquered your approach anxiety.
If you finish all four days of these exercises, you will be dripping with confidence and should feel pretty damn good about yourself. Your game still might not be great, but you’ve managed to conquer the most difficult obstacle. Do at least a few approaches every week from now on (in your home town is fine), because your approach anxiety will come back somewhat if you don’t constantly desensitize yourself to it. You are a strong alpha male with balls of steel, you are entitled to beautiful women, and from now on you will go after them.