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Dating Mating Sex and Reproduction

Social Groups, Social Proof, and Game

In my recent post about online dating, I mentioned some of the reasons why it’s a poor percentage play, and encouraged singles to go out and meet people in person.  Today, I want to talk about some of the reasons going out is a high percentage play.  I’ll also mention some ways to use group dynamics to your advantage in social networking.

Online Social Groups

With the coming of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, World of Warcraft, Second Life, and all the other online social applications, we’ve entered uncharted territory.  South Park recently aired an episode called “You Have 0 Friends.”  (Check it out at South Park Studios if you haven’t seen it.)  Out of pity, Kyle sends a facebook friend request to some random loser kid who has no friends.  For the rest of the episode, the poor kid dances and runs around the house telling his parents all about what his new best friend is doing — what he’s had for dinner, what he’s up to in school, etc.

It’s a good joke.   The kid still has no friends, but he gets the endorphin rush as if he had friends.  Believe me, if he were to hang out with Kyle and the rest of the South Park gang, he’d be kicked to the curb.

The truth is that online social circles are a kind of surrogate dope dealer.  They give us a feeling of belonging and acceptance, which kicks in our dopamine production and makes us feel good.  But like the dope dealer’s high, it doesn’t actually get us very far in the real world.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not being the old fart who automatically dislikes anything the kids are doing these days.  I’ve got a ton of friends on Facebook. I use Facebook for atheist networking and plugging my blog.  It’s a very good tool for that, and has me connected to people all over the world.  It has its uses.

Real Life Social Groups

But when it comes to dating and success in the real world, it’s just not that useful.  Out in the field, it’s about who you really know.   For men, I think one of the great failings of books on “Game” is that they sell us short on the power of groups of friends.  Sure, it’s important to know how to carry yourself, how to talk to women, and how to escalate attraction.  But when it comes right down to it, having a social group is one of the best ways to generate attraction without even trying:

  • Social groups are social proof. When you’re happily interacting with a group of people — especially a group of both sexes — it’s proof that you’re not some weirdo loser.  You’re accepted by lots of people.  You’re entertaining lots of people.  You play well with others.  These are all qualities that are attractive to both sexes.  It’s no secret why the Mystery Method encourages players to insinuate themselves into a group of strangers immediately after entering a bar.  It’s creating the impression that you have lots of good friends.  Everyone else in the bar notices you with “friends.”  But what I’m recommending is one step better than that.  Make real friends, and go out with them! Simple, eh?
  • Social Groups are Dating Networks. Most people don’t just have one social circle, and you shouldn’t either.  Most people have their work cohorts, their family, their sports friends, their bowling league, their book clubs, etc.  So when I am accepted into a social group, I’m also one step away from dozens of other social groups, and if I want to, I can use my friendships as social proof for new groups.  It’s networking at its finest.  And each new group I join is a potential dating pool.
  • Social Groups are Comfort Building. Comfort is one of the important steps in finding a mate.  Attraction by itself usually isn’t enough.  Social groups allow people who are attracted to one another to become comfortable.  Instead of having to cram attraction, rapport, comfort, and seduction into one crazy evening, people in social groups can gradually build all of these things while not feeling the pressure of having to focus on each other all the time.
  • Social Groups Generate References. Girls love to play matchmaker. Ask any girl.  When you’re in a social group, your best advocates are the girls who don’t want to date you!  I think a lot of guys make the mistake of abandoning a group when it becomes clear that none of the girls are interested.  That’s a mistake.  A big mistake.  A guy who stays with the group and proves that he’s not just after tail is giving social proof to all the girls he’s not constantly trying to seduce. They may not be attracted to him, but there’s a damn good chance that they have a friend who’s single, and pretty soon, those female gears are going to commence to scheming.

Game in Social Groups

So much literature about Game is directed towards seducing complete strangers!  But Game can also be very effective in groups.  It just has to be played differently.  What I’ll call “Single Game” is about being over the top.  It’s about putting a supercharge into the process of attraction in the shortest time possible.  “Group Game” is more understated.  It’s about being an integral and dynamic part of a group, not always being the center of attention.  It’s about demonstrating values consistently — especially towards your desired sex.   It’s about showing that even though you have alpha qualities, you are not a micro-manager.  You don’t always have to be the object of everyone’s affection.  (That will display confidence, by the way… letting other people have the floor for a while.)

And the beauty of Group Game is that it can run simultaneously with Single Game.  If you’re out with a group and you see someone you’re interested in, you can still turn on the Single Game and try to either pull her into your group, or merge the two groups.  And seriously… how much better is it to pull your target back into a group that will banter with you about that ski trip two years ago?  Sure, you could just make your own group on the fly, then pull a girl into it, but there are a lot of unknowns.  You never know when your new group is going to turn on you or just abandon you completely.  That’s not going to happen with a real group.

Groups of Girls

Most of what I’ve been talking about has been directed at guys.  After all, girls know about groups, right?  They travel in packs.  It’s very rare to see a girl by herself in a club.  Very rare.

But I think there are distinct advantages for girls who integrate their groups.  Admittedly, it’s not always so easy for girls to form stable groups with guys, since the guys will tend to hit on the girls they’re interested in, then leave if they don’t get the response they want.  But it can be done.  One of the easiest ways for girls to get into integrated groups is to join some sort of league.  Bowling leagues, dart leagues, softball leagues, poker leagues, etc… these are usually stable long term groups.  In other words, once it’s become obvious that a girl’s not interested in anyone on the team, the team’s still going to keep showing up every week.  And every week, there’s a new group of guys to check out on the opposing team.

There are also lots of clubs in the world.  Most girls have at least one hobby or interest that’s compatible with guys’ interests.  (If you don’t, you should look into that.)  Joining a club is a great way to gain an instant social group.  A girl who brings her single friend into a social group is a hit with everybody, too.  It’s a win-win.

The Power of the House

Entertaining at home is magic.  By letting all of your friends see you at your most personal, you’re building significant comfort with lots of people all at once.  By showing off your cooking skills, your wine collection, and your taste in art, you’re demonstrating value.  The fact that your house is clean and you have kept several plants alive demonstrates long term commitment possibilities.

The trick to good networking from home is the “plus one.”  Don’t just invite your friends.  Invite your friends, and give each of them a “plus one” to invite one of their friends.  (The trick to this, by the way, is to give one “plus one” to each couple.  That way, they are more likely to bring a single friend than one of their couple friends!)  Get names, get phone numbers.  Get yourself invited to parties at other people’s houses.  It’s magic.  Really.

Turnover

Unfortunately, groups in and of themselves are not necessarily magic.  Groups can isolate themselves just like individuals.  I’m reminded of a group of twenty-something guys that used to hang out in a remote corner of Starbucks and play Magic The Gathering for six or eight hours a day.  It was the exact same guys every night for months.

Groups work best when they’re dynamic.  In leagues, new players come while old players quit.  With good clubs, there are usually conventions to go to.  If a “Beer Club” goes to the same club every week, it’s not going to be as effective as if it picks a new club each week.  The group that sits in the corner is not as effective as the one that mingles in the middle of everything.

Finally, groups work best when they encourage people to join.  (This is part of the “Group Game” I was talking about.)  If someone comes up and asks what the bunch of you are doing, tell them, then ask them to join you! The beauty of this tactic is that it’s confident without being threatening.  Even if it’s a group of two girls joining a table of guys, it’s still a group joining a group, and most people are more willing to do that than to sit at a table with only one or two people.

Some groups encourage outreach.  Political groups, activist groups and such… these are groups where recruiting new members is a priority.  If you have an interest in something like this, consider being part of a recruitment drive.  You get to meet all the new people first!  Even if you’re not that socially comfortable, just joining a group will go a long way towards meeting new people and making new friends.

Let the Dating Happen

Once you’ve expanded your social networks, don’t worry too much about finding the love of your life right away.  Don’t try to run Game on every girl in the first month.  Just relax.  Make real friends.  The group is not there to get you laid right now.  It’s there to give you the social power to be more attractive when the right person crosses your path.  And the beauty of it is that even if you don’t find a mate right away, you get to do something fun, and get all the dopamine rushes from being accepted socially.

Use the group as a safety net when you go out.  Branch out, invite people to join you.  Hit on people you find attractive.  If it works, introduce them to the group, then relax for a little while, and then start running the separation and seduction.  If it doesn’t work, shrug it off and go back to the interesting conversation you were having before.  It’s soooooo much easier to take rejection when you’ve got a group to fall back on.

Finally, if you really want to pony up the money, you can still go home after a night out with the group and check Match.com.  If someone’s interested, you can invite them to do something with your group.   How awesome is that!

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Discussion

9 thoughts on “Social Groups, Social Proof, and Game

  1. I’m reminded of a group of twenty-something guys that used to hang out in a remote corner of Starbucks and play Magic The Gathering for six or eight hours a day. It was the exact same guys every night for months.

    …Hey now – in my own defense, sir… err… hm.

    I got nothing. I’ll now hang my head in shame.

    *Hangs head in shame*

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | April 23, 2010, 5:16 pm
  2. (Chuckle)

    Sometimes the truth hurts.

    Posted by hambydammit | April 23, 2010, 5:30 pm
  3. A lot of the game guys seemed to have started out *really* socially stunted. I think of myself as pretty darn nerdy and I still didn’t have a hard time finding partners or going out to dinner on my own even as a socially awkward 18 year old. It is partially salesmanship on their part, but some of them have described social issues with simple things like going out to dinner on their own. So their lack of social circle shouldn’t be surprising. The later interest in inner game instead of the fairly fake outer game is probably also related to some of those guys growing up and wanting more then random lays. And once you have a real life doing interesting things you will meet other interesting people.

    They overplay the “friend zone” problem. While you don’t want to be some womans gay friend there is still a fair bit of latitude with modern women. And I way agree keep making friends. Even if the woman you met last night didn’t turn you own she will introduce you to her friends. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    Posted by Miles Anderson | April 23, 2010, 5:55 pm
  4. Thanks for the comment, Miles.

    I agree with you that a lot of game guys focus solely on the bedding of women and ignore the larger significance of developing a fruitful and socially satisfying life. Social approval is a really big deal, and in terms of pure old psychology, there aren’t many things besides sex that give us more dopamine than receiving social approval from a group. The fact that social approval will also help get you laid is something that ought to be drilled into the head of everybody who starts to learn “Game.”

    And there’s more to it than that, even. Social circles means opportunity. The people who get the good jobs are usually the people who knew the right people. Getting the right job means making the right money, and let’s not kid ourselves about who dates the most attractive women. It’s the guys who make good livings.

    In many ways, I think of “Game” as a one-dimensional approach at social betterment. It’s primarily about how to get pussy, which is fine if someone is perfectly happy with their life in all aspects except women, but I wonder how many of the “Game Guys” are using their newfound pussy magnet skills as band-aids to cover up the bigger lack of social savvy and networking skills.

    As far as the friend zone thing goes, most game guys seem to talk out of both sides of their mouth. They say, “Don’t let a girl friend zone you. If she does, just move on to somebody else.” Then, they say, “Keep girl friends who can be pivots for you.” But they miss a third option, which is this: Make lots of friends, keep them, regardless of whether they’re attracted to you sexually or not. Use that large social group as social proof to help you get girls that are attracted to you.

    Or hell… maybe keep friends around and see if anything develops over time. I read a statistic once where women were asked how long they’d like to know a guy before sleeping with him. To cut to the chase, at 6 months, it’s about 50/50. In other words, just keeping a girl in your social circle for six months — even if you haven’t been gaming her — is enough to improve your chances if you do start gaming her, or if she breaks up with her boyfriend, or has a bad day at school, or whatever. Game focuses on getting laid RIGHT NOW. This kind of “modified group game” is about increasing your social capital for the long term so that in general, getting laid will always be easier for you because you’ll have a larger pool and better social proof.

    Posted by hambydammit | April 23, 2010, 6:07 pm
  5. Getting the right job means making the right money, and let’s not kid ourselves about who dates the most attractive women. It’s the guys who make good livings.

    I should say this:

    I really am skeptical of this idea now that I’ve had a few discussions about it.

    For starters, it’s quite difficult (especially in the era of modern clothing & cosmetics) to pin down the causal agent in the stereotypical ‘fat rich slob dates supermodel’ scenario. Was the super attractive girl attracted to him because he played the money card, or did they get together when she was maybe not so attractive and the money was then used to ‘touch her up’, as it were?

    Secondly, it’s hard to find a real case where this scenario actually played out. Go grab your last issue of Maxim or whatever your fancy is, write down the names of your favorite models, and start reading-up on their history. The only instances where girls have clearly put a lot of emphasis on ‘has lots of money’ are cases where the girl is trying to feed a drug addiction while her career has gone stale, and even those aren’t in particular abundance.

    Third (to anticipate a counter-point), the most notoriously given example of the ‘money = girls’ phenomena – sports stars – have a ton of social proof, not just money, as well an plainly advertised peak physical health & athleticism. It’s also not just NFL or NBA stars that can walk into a club and walk out with the two biggest catches of the night hanging off of his arms – college players can pull off the same stunt without having the million dollar contracts.

    Lastly, I would make a distinction between being able to allegedly walk into a club and pick up random girls because you have a lot of money vs being able to pay a specific girl for sex or offering to pull strings for a specific girl in exchange for sex (as would be the case for, say, gnarled old politicians). Anyone can pay an escort for sex; you don’t have to be rich to do it (though, obviously, being rich gives you more options in that area).

    Posted by Kevin R Brown | April 23, 2010, 7:03 pm
  6. For starters, it’s quite difficult (especially in the era of modern clothing & cosmetics) to pin down the causal agent in the stereotypical ‘fat rich slob dates supermodel’ scenario. Was the super attractive girl attracted to him because he played the money card, or did they get together when she was maybe not so attractive and the money was then used to ‘touch her up’, as it were?

    You’re kind of putting the cart before the horse. We don’t have to guess about what is attractive to women. We can plug them up and test them for pupil dilation, galvanic skin response, heart rate, etc, etc. You can’t hide attraction from science!

    Having said that, there are certainly fat rich slobs who grab up the fat poor girl and spruce her up a bit, but for the most part, any man who’s gotten to be a rich fat slob and doesn’t realize he can land a hottie is… well… stupid.

    The only instances where girls have clearly put a lot of emphasis on ‘has lots of money’ are cases where the girl is trying to feed a drug addiction while her career has gone stale, and even those aren’t in particular abundance.

    Never believe what a woman says she wants. Believe what she gets.

    It’s also not just NFL or NBA stars that can walk into a club and walk out with the two biggest catches of the night hanging off of his arms – college players can pull off the same stunt without having the million dollar contracts.

    You don’t think women know about the stock market? Men with enough upward potential are a good enough risk. Most college girls would have a hard time landing an NFL star, but they live three blocks away from the college star who’s likely to make gads of money in the future.

    Also, you’re treating money as if it’s THE determining factor, and it’s not. It turns out, most college football stars are (1) in great physical shape, (2) handsome to some degree or another, (3) leaders in their social groups, (4) goal oriented and driven to succeed, and (5) confident as hell. These are all attractive features, and sports stars tend to possess more of them than most engineering majors.

    Lastly, I would make a distinction between being able to allegedly walk into a club and pick up random girls because you have a lot of money vs being able to pay a specific girl for sex or offering to pull strings for a specific girl in exchange for sex (as would be the case for, say, gnarled old politicians). Anyone can pay an escort for sex; you don’t have to be rich to do it (though, obviously, being rich gives you more options in that area).

    Are you saying any girl who goes home with a rich guy is an escort? I think you’ll piss off a lot of women if that’s what you’re saying. I’m not saying you’re entirely wrong, but the division between “escort” and “golddigger” and “upwardly mobile aspiring hottie” is a little fuzzy. Typically, though, an escort doesn’t aspire to being a girlfriend. She just wants the cash. A girl who gets turned on by being wined and dined by a rich guy is just that. She got a good opportunity and took it. It’s not her way to make a living.

    The distinction may seem pedantic, but it’s very important to the women involved, and therefore, real.

    Posted by hambydammit | April 24, 2010, 2:56 pm
  7. “You’re kind of putting the cart before the horse. We don’t have to guess about what is attractive to women. We can plug them up and test them for pupil dilation, galvanic skin response, heart rate, etc, etc. You can’t hide attraction from science!”

    I think you would run into some serious heisenculture effects. I prefer observation (statistics).

    “Also, you’re treating money as if it’s THE determining factor, and it’s not. It turns out, most college football stars are (1) in great physical shape, (2) handsome to some degree or another, (3) leaders in their social groups, (4) goal oriented and driven to succeed, and (5) confident as hell. These are all attractive features, and sports stars tend to possess more of them than most engineering majors.”

    I think you and person you were responding to miss an important point. You don’t want to test for the prevalence of “golddiggerishness” by looking at the apex of the social hierarchy. Its too hard to imagine what the fourier transform of social value is 🙂 Instead isolate the attribute (lack of the things you mention) and then see how money effects that. So dig down in the hierarchy and look at, well maybe you didn’t miss it, engineering types that made a lot of money and see if they are marrying laterally or up (counter hypergamous). A better group then engineers (who tend to marry more rational geek girls) might be second tier business guys. Not self made businessmen or executive VPs or people who started out in sales but those that struggle to hold together the middle of American mid sized businesses. No glory, probably just average intelligence, not as much drive else they would be the VPs, but well above average salaries.

    Posted by Miles Anderson | April 24, 2010, 3:14 pm
  8. Out of curiosity, Miles, how would you quantify the quality of the women marrying the engineers and second tier businessmen. (Yes, I know the irony of the question I ask.)

    The point, I think you can see, is that it’s easy to quantify money and then see how women react to it. It’s more difficult to quantify beauty/desirability as a female mate choice. What sort of value do you put on 34As vs. 34Bs, and a .6 waist to hip ratio instead of a .7?

    Posted by hambydammit | April 24, 2010, 3:28 pm
  9. I didn’t say it was going to be easy to design an experiment to prove this type of thing. But I think decoupling the set of traits that make your typical athlete successful with women is going to be impossible. I see some hope at categorizing women as men see them. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/magazine/18fob-Bergner-t.html is one of the kinds of things that I see supporting this point of view.

    So, use proxies for beauty like symmetry, bust size, and hip to waist ratio to rank women and then find a correlation in society as a whole and then correlate to wage. The error in the ranking is going to be high so the number of samples is going to need to be large. And how you baseline this is going to take some creativity. But that isn’t so far off from what most social scientists types call science, is it?

    Posted by Miles Anderson | April 24, 2010, 6:55 pm

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