Hello Doc,

One thing that’s very common is telling men they should warm approach, by meeting women through activity groups and hobby groups. But there’s so many caveats to that, like men can’t go to them just to meet women. Also, they can’t make a move on a woman too early into doing the activity, or on too many women too quickly. What’s too early or too quickly is undefined. Also, if a woman doesn’t like being approached at that place, a guy is just supposed to know it. If you do any of this stuff, you’re definitely creepy, probably predatory, and you’re the kind of guy that makes women feel unsafe everywhere. But also, “creepy” cannot be defined by any specific actions, ultimately, it’s just how she feels, and you’re supposed to just know if something you’d do would creep her out.

If all my actions when I want to date are going to be dictated so much, why shouldn’t I just cold approach everywhere? Sure, my chances of success would be low, but even if my chances of success from a cold approach are 1%, and my chances of doing “what I’m supposed to do” with a warm approach are 20%, and I do about 10 cold approaches in one week, and I wait for weeks/months for all the conditions to be right, and for me to not overstep any boundaries with the warm approach, I’ll still have more success with the cold approach.

Sure, if I cold approach, I’d creep women out, but in that case, it would be women I don’t know. The worst thing is that I’d just be some nameless, faceless creepy guy she complains about on social media or texting to her friends, and then she just forgets about me the next day. But if I forget one of the 10,000 things I’m not supposed to do when warm approaching and I botch the approach, I’d face harsh consequences for it. I’d be driven out of the hobby or activity group I enjoy, either consciously or subconsciously by others. Women would be more cautious around me, I might gain a reputation for being creepy, and any time someone new comes to the group, people would have to warn them about the missing stair. Since I’d be so disliked, I’d enjoy the hobby much less.

I’ve asked this question to other people before, and I’ve yet to get any satisfactory answer. So, given everything I just mentioned, why shouldn’t I just cold approach women?

The Math Checks Out

This, TMCO, is a classic case of “the question you’re asking isn’t the question you THINK you’re asking”.

So, you may have seen that when folks make wild claims, I’ll frequently reply with “citation needed”. While yes, there’s a certain amount of snark involved, it’s an actual request to consider the source of that information. Most of the time, the source is “dude, trust me”, which, needless to say, isn’t the most accurate info. However, other times, it’s important to consider that maybe you’re getting your information from a suspect or inaccurate source.

Case in point: you make a big point of “women say you can’t do X, Y or Z”. This is something that comes up a lot and folks – including folks who’ve written in with similar questions before – will claim that dating is just too hard for men because women keep narrowing where they’re supposedly “allowed” to approach or talk to them. And, quite frankly, folks who say this tend to be making mountains out of molehills and extrapolating a non-representative sample to something universal that applies to All Women, Everywhere, because All Women are a collective intelligence like the Geth or the Borg.

What usually happens is that someone will take posts from Reddit or TikTok or Twitter or Tumblr and treat these as being somehow representative of what women think as a whole, instead of considering the source and the context of that source. The problem is that context matters and considering the source tells us a lot about just how seriously to take that information. A subreddit, for example, is a poor sample to use as your base to measure attitudes about dating, because it’s an incredibly small and non-representative pool of opinions. You’re getting the opinions of a few, extremely online folks – mostly white, straight, young and cisgendered – who’ve self-selected for that particular community. So that alone calls the validity of using them as a representative sample.

To further add to the misunderstandings, you’re also dealing with a system that amplifies particular voices over others. In any community you’re going to have a certain amount of group orthodoxy and Reddit, in particular, encourages this by its upvote/downvote system. The voices you see the most prominently are going to be the ones that get the most upvotes, which means posts and opinions that are (usually) most in line with the orthodox opinion of the community. But this system also encourages staking out more and more extreme or rigid positions in order to stand out from the crowd and prompt engagement. Because folks will engage with more divisive or extreme comments, there’s a certain dark incentive to stake out positions that are further out than what you would likely find if you were to conduct a proper scientific poll.

Now take that system and apply it to places where, say, women are likely to be talking about shitty behavior from dudes. What you’re going to get are women talking about behavior that they find frustrating, creepy, irritating or off-putting that they’ve experienced and what they’d prefer instead. So you already are talking about an audience that’s primed to be more negative – virtually every woman has stories about dudes who can’t take “fuck off” for an answer after all. That, when combined with the amplification effect of forums and communities, means that you’re going to have a host of folks who are incentivized to take increasingly stringent and restrictive stances. These get more upvotes and more comments, which push them to the top of the group and make THOSE voices and opinions more prominent and visible than others.

And that’s assuming that you don’t have folks who treat this as a creative-writing exercise; looking at you, r/AITA.

So right off the bat: your sample of “women say guys can’t do X” is already suspect at best. I don’t doubt that there’re women who think that talking to a stranger is predatory behavior, period, but they’re not the majority or even a significant minority by a long shot. That’s just mistaking volume for popularity.

There’s also the fact that you either are assuming that your own approaches are going to be so beyond the pale or so poorly done that you’re going to get banished from your local Arthur Murray’s or whatever and… well, I think that’s more something you need to work on for yourself, bub. Because quite honestly: you have to fuck up pretty darn hard to get banished from whatever. Not even in the sense of “the organizers will ignore missing stairs” but most “failed approaches” are literally unremarkable. Most of the time, a dude asking someone out on a date and being told “no, thank you” is the sort of thing that doesn’t register on anyone’s radar unless you act like a real special Secret Squirrel in the run-up or afterwards. Most of the time, the consequences are side-eye and folks who find excuses to talk to somebody else.

The same goes for a lot of botched attempts at venues like coffeeshops. Usually the fallout is “thanks, not interested,” and the person either pointedly turning around because they don’t want to talk to you or getting up and leaving. Not exactly the same as being told to go away and not come back for a year.

So, y’know; maybe don’t act like a dick if you’re going to flirt with folks at the Snooker For Single Professionals meetup or whatever. Which actually brings us to the next issue, conveniently enough.

Compounding all of this is that you seem to be why women are complaining about guys who’re approaching them in the ways they describe. See it’s not just “they had the audacity to talk to me”, it’s because the guys were especially bad. If you do any amount of reading and it becomes clear that the issue isn’t “how dare you talk to me without a notarized copy of your application for my affections”, it’s “dude demonstrated that he didn’t care about my comfort, my interest or my boundaries and was treating me like he thought I was a living Fleshlight.” The guys didn’t read the room, they didn’t gauge the appropriateness of their actions or their approach and they almost always ignored her lack of interest or even active disinterest.

If you want a prime example of this in action, consider the scene in Hitch when Will Smith meets Eva Mendes’ character in a bar. The guy who approaches Mendes first is a classic case of the guys that women on TikTok and subreddits complain about. He’s ignoring what she has to say and is just trying to “plow forward” in order to stick around and force her to engage with him. This is a dude who is making it very clear that she’s not a person so much as a walking penis receptacle. He’s quite literally objectifying her; he’s treating her like an object instead of a person, because he doesn’t give a damn what she wants. He’s decided his interest is more important than her disinterest and is overriding her desire to be left alone.

If it’s truly a case of a guy doing everything right and being polite, and the woman lights into him anyway because how dare he? Well, congratulations, you found an unreasonable and unserious person and you’re free to disregard her opinion. The odds that you’re going to run into someone like that, while not zero, are low enough that you’d probably have better odds winning ten bucks on some scratch-offs.

Now, were you to take any of those women you refer to and describe a scenario where a guy they found attractive and charming approached them in a more considerate and personable manner? They’d probably say that yes, they’d be happy to talk to him. This is why the key isn’t “you can’t talk to women at X, Y or Z and you must to D, E and F to ask her out”, it’s “read the damn room, don’t treat her like an interchangeable toy for your penis and don’t go where you’re not wanted or overstay your welcome”. And honestly, this is basic politeness that goes for pretty much any approach, day or night, cold or warm. When I’m telling folks  “hey, ‘daygame’ approaches are a waste of your time,” it’s because most of the time, the women going about during the day are out running errands or on a break from work and don’t have the time or interest in dealing with the equivalent of a gauntlet of guys who keep insisting that she needs to take their mixtape.

(The mixtape is their penis.)

The same goes for creepiness. We actually have a good handle on what most women find creepy – it’s behavior that leaves women worried for their safety and unsure of how someone will react. This is why, for example, walking close behind a woman at night can be creepy. It may be complete coincidence, but the fact that she has very good reason to worry for her safety makes that behavior creepy. The same with, say, Facebook stalking someone you met once at a store because you wanted to date her and she wouldn’t give you her number. When folks are creepy by accident, however, it’s usually something cleared up very quickly and doesn’t cause much of an issue. Politeness, consideration and reading the room goes a long way to not being a creeper.

This is why you’re asking the wrong questions; you’re coming to this with a lot of bad info and bad assumptions. And as you know, assumptions make an ass of u and umption.

But if we go further to your question… well, frankly, it’s time to check your math. I realize these are numbers you basically pulled out of thin air but even then they don’t work. The problem is that you’re treating these as constants and they’re not. If we grant the 1% chance of success, it’s not that if you go out 10 times, you’ve got a 10% chance of success, because the odds don’t work like that. It just means you’ve gone out 10 times and each time you went out, you had 1% chance. So after ten nights of cold approaches you have a projected success rate of… 1%. Because the odds aren’t cumulative.

More importantly, human behavior doesn’t distill down to math and certainly not cleanly. It’s not that you have a 1% chance of success with a cold approach, it’s that some days you have 1%, on rare days you have 10% and more often you’ve got 0%. It’s not even consistent through the day, because people are individuals and everybody’s going to have different experiences. Part of making the odds work for you is to recognize what actually increases your odds, what decreases them and learning how to recognize opportunities and take full advantage of them when they come your way. It’s not about “well, if I have only 1% of a chance, I just need to go out 100 times to succeed”, it’s knowing how to set yourself up for success, when to play conservatively and when to go for broke.

Speaking as someone who’s done more cold approaches than you’ve had hot meals: some nights you’ll do amazingly well and other nights wouldn’t go right if you held a gun to its head. And if you want to factor in the other intangibles – how much money you’re spending on outfits, gas, cover charges and drinks, how much time you’re spending hitting on women vs. hanging out with your friends or pursuing your hobbies and interests – randomly going out and hitting on folks is a lot more costly in terms of time, energy and yes, money, than you seem to realize.

On the other hand, warm approaches and meeting people through shared activities? Not only does it have a higher rate of success – especially seeing as that’s how the majority of folks meet their partners, even today – but it’s almost always brings additional benefits, such as “spending time with your friends” and “doing things you actually enjoy, with other folks who enjoy them”. And while making friends with folks at your local pub quiz night or amateur kickball league may not directly lead to a date, you’re meeting people who increase your chances of meeting folks you will want to date.

This is why warm approaches have a distinct advantage; when you make friends, you build your social circle. Building your social circle means you have more opportunities that come your way, you have friends who act as social proof for you and will go to bat for you.

However, there’s one more thing that I think you’re leaving out of your calculus here: your rationale for why it’d be to your advantage to just cold approach women is “because I don’t have to consider the consequences of my actions”. I’m not being snarky here, that’s what you’re saying here: “Sure, if I cold approach, I’d creep women out, but in that case, it would be women I don’t know.” I mean, dude. That sort of attitude is gonna sink you a lot faster than being less than perfectly educated in the social graces.

You’re saying that it’s better overall for you to ignore the comfort or interest of the women you’re approaching if it means that shotgunning it across all and sundry might lead to a minuscule chance of  a date and you won’t have to face the fallout if you creep out or offend folks over and over again. Well… not likely my dude. Because what you’re doing is saying is “my eventual success justifies being a creeper and making women uncomfortable.” You, like the guys the women on TikTok or r/datingadvice or whatever complain about, would be putting your desire to get laid over their desire to be left alone.

You say you’ve yet to get a satisfactory answer to your question. So, just between you, me and everyone waiting to leap on this in the comments: is the problem that nobody gave you the answer that you wanted, or is it that they kept telling you that your premise was so flawed that it’s not even wrong? Because honestly, you’re mostly complaining that a lot of imaginary conditions that you just made up are keeping you from getting what you want.

Now, look: I’m not the dating police. If you want to go out and just do cold approaches, then you do you. It’s not like I’m going to spring up behind you and smack the taste out of your mouth when you try. I think cold approaches have their place, even if people put way too much emphasis on them. But considering both your attitude here and the apparent unwillingness to do a half-way close reading or consider the context of what you’ve been reading? I think you’re going to get that unfortunate reputation you were hoping to avoid and you’ll still be stuck without a date on Saturday night.

But hey. Your call chief. Go chase your bliss.


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