Girl Game: If He’s Into You, He’ll Ask You Out

A lot of interlinked questions…
Reader:  Hi Athol, I had written to you awhile back about my high school daughter and future dating,etc in which you responded with the blog –the purpose of high school is to get an education not herpes!
Anyway, we felt you were right on with that one.  You mentioned getting the book –The Rules—which we did.   We (husband included) thought it was great and have been using the basic principles in day to day interactions with others too.   What I was wondering,  in the beginning on a relationship, the book stresses not approaching the guy/man first—not even looking at them, etc.  How important do you think that is ?   How into the woman will the man be long term (marriage, etc.)  if she does the initial approach?
It seems like most problems with people have to do with a mismatched sex rank.  How do prevent that from the very start?  Also, I’m wondering how much of it has to do with deep down hormone levels that we aren’t even conscious of.  I’ve read you can detect levels through smell.  Maybe the mismatch comes from a mismatched hormone levels.  I’ve read men’s testosterone levels drop with marriage and fatherhood.  As the levels drop, maybe the woman subconsciously senses this and becomes less attracted.  If the levels stay up with exercise, weight lifting, diet, etc.  maybe the woman’s attraction stays up too?
You may have written about this already.  My daughter has mentioned that one of her friends is on her third boyfriend this year and she herself has had none (good thing!)  I wonder how much of it has to do with the way she smells.  Very animalistic isn’t it? Thanks!
Athol:  “The Rules” essentially boils down to a description of how women can display high value as a way of pulling male attention. High value women are approached by men, and with high frequently. When she approaches him, she’s basically tipped her hand that she is interested in him, and the implication is that he’s a higher Sex Rank than she is. Once that happens, the male is no longer in pursuit mode, and the dopamine shuts down because he no longer needs to make any risk taking moves to get her attention and gain her interest. Which essentially makes him react to her with “cool.” (Which drives her crazier for him because of the hypergamy factor)

If all you’re looking for is a hook-up, then it’s no problem to make the first move. But in terms of getting to an actual relationship, it’s not the greatest of ideas to make the first move if you’re a female. You’re better off displaying higher value and waiting it out.

However, I’m not convinced that not even looking at them is of value. That’s running into the “cold distant bitch” zone. Be pleasant, engaging and fun, but he’s the one that should be trying to escalate things – typically an isolation play. “Hey, you want to go get coffee?”

I’m not sure I have a firm answer to the mismatched Sex Rank thing. It’s easy to turn things on for a short period, and then once the relationship is solidified, to go “Phew!” and relapse to your normal baseline. Some times people self-improve once they are in a relationship, or suddenly gain confidence “hey I can do this!” and so on. Some people lie their ass off too and purposely cover things up that their partner should know about. 
Women can’t smell male testosterone as far as I know, but they can through sense of smell unconsciously identify men that have a good immune system compatibility for creating a healthy baby. The major negative effect on her sense of smell is taking hormonal birth control as it tends to create a reversal effect in the men she is attracted to. So if a couple meets when she is off birth control pills, and then she starts on them, she can have a libido reduction from the birth control pills in a general sense and a reduction in her attraction to her partner in a specific sense. So for some couples it’s a real downer.

The other way it works is if a couple meet and she is on birth control pills, once she’s off them to try and have kids or use a different method, she can feel less attracted to her partner. Plus she may not be as genetically compatible with him as she could be, leading to poorer outcomes with pregnancy and the baby’s health. Before anyone panics though, bear in mind that these are simply influences on the outcome and not destiny. Plus there’s still a lot of science left to do on this stuff.

The volume of testosterone in men does take a two-step dip down after marriage and the arrival of a baby Primarily the male has a lot of testosterone to assist in engaging in risky mate finding behaviors, but having reached the Body Agenda goal of actually getting a mate and having a child, the Body Agenda turns to a more conservative strategy of defending what they have. Thus men tend to become more settled and calm after getting married and having children. Or put another way, men who have no offspring have from a Body Agenda perspective, have nothing to lose. While those that have offspring do have something to lose, so they play it safe.

Testosterone drop in aging men plays a role in diminished libido, energy levels, mood, impulsivity and a ton of other things that are generally sexy. So the results of lower testosterone levels can be an attraction killer for the women. And yes, exercise, diet and weights can increase the testosterone level in men, so generally a good thing for overall male health.

I don’t know your daughter or her friend, so I have no idea why the difference is as it is. High school is an awkward age for some kids, and some peak early. You never know how people will turn out over the very long haul.

And yes, sex is very animalistic. It’s a very humbling thing sometimes to have your body suddenly want to lurch itself toward someone you know isn’t a good idea to be in a relationship with, and then become non-reactive with someone you know is a good idea to be in a relationship with. The trick is finding that person that is the balance that can do at least some of both.

Which brings us full circle to whether or not a woman should make the first move. If she has to make the first move, he’s just not that into her enough on a Body Agenda level to be motivated to make the first move. That’s not particularly fixable either, so she can waste her best years trying to get him to react like he’s into her before she figures out it’s just wasting her time. This is a driving force behind the thing where the long time girlfriend begs and pleads with her boyfriend to marry her, but he’s “Just not interested in being married.” So eventually she splits from him and then within a year he’s getting married to his new girlfriend. Cue up, “He said he would never get married and now he’s getting married to someone else, why didn’t he marry me?!?!”

So the first move thing acts as a very basic screening tool for women. If he’s into you, he’ll ask you out.


  1. Anonymous says

    "It seems like most problems with people have to do with a mismatched sex rank."

    That's been my experience. I'm an omega whose SMV is low enough and whose standards are high enough that I'm not attracted to MOTOS in my league and MOTOS to whom I would feel attraction do not reciprocate. As you would expect for someone with that attitude and who cannot successfully rise up in the SMV ranks, I have remained virginal and relationshipless (is that a word?) into my 40s.

  2. Candice says

    I have observed people with mismatching sets of characteristics also may have difficulty in finding someone, e.g. a highly educated and clever person sadly without assets may not be able to attract compatible partners among those with assets.

    Anonymous, perhaps your attraction issue can be solved by identifying what you are really attracted to and what can be compromised, for example, height and age? I've found my attraction intuition to be refined and changed by experience, so I think it is possible.

    An inspiring example – I have two friends (a loving couple) with significant and limiting handicaps. They use their respective abilities to help the other in areas where they may be weaker. I admire their ability to think outside the box to make their lives purposeful and happy.

    Anonymous, please never give up improving – often that willingness and diligence in improving oneself is attractive to others. Also, I've found as I have become older that I have heaps more confidence in just being myself – sincere, modest confidence is attractive!

    I wish you luck and happiness!

    :-) C

  3. Alpha says

    Dear reader,

    Sit your daughter down and tell her these words,

    "[Mary], my sweet girl, 'A key that can open any lock is a valuable key. But a lock that can be opened by any key is a worthless lock.'"

    If she asks what it means, explain to her that her virginity is extremely important, and unless she wants to end up 40, unmarried, physically used up, and in possession of 6 cats, she would do well to keep her virginity as long as possible and her lifetime notch count under 3.

    She might complain about a double standard, just remind her that men and women aren't equal – they're different. Not saying one is better, just that they're made for different purposes. So yes, it is a double standard. Life sucks like that.

    Most women realize too little too late that being able to rival a man with an amount of sexual partners is one of the least attractive qualities a girl can have. They don't realize when you have slept with a certain number of men, most every guy you meet from that point on says, "oh she's just a slut. Might as well hit it tonight, she'll be used to it if I don't call her."

    It might seem cruel to go after her girlemotions on the subject, but women don't want to be alone forever and ever, and the more partners she has the more likely she is to be alone forever and ever.

    Anyway, just tossing that out there. I don't have kids of my own, but this is how I broke it down to my younger sister earlier this year when she complained about being a virgin (lol, girls).

    The lock/key line works like a charm.

    Also, I'm prepared to catch heat for the "men and women not equal" thing – feel free to direct your hate directly to me so we don't spammy up Athol's page.

    I'll actually have a post on the gender equality subject this morning. I only ask that you read before you fly off the handle.

  4. Strong Man says

    I agree with Athol on this. However on today's world it is amazing how little direct encouragement there is for guys to do the asking. A guy can be totally attracted to a woman but have very little guts or a lower self esteem than he should and still be intimidated and not ask unless she makes it clear she wants to be asked out by him.

    Especially attractive women can sometimes not get asked by men with a lot of beta traits that shell need in the long term because she's perceived as out of reach. He is very attracted to her, but still doesn't ask unless she is specifically friendly to him and makes it clear that she's interested in him.

  5. Melcockles says

    Personally, I don't think using game in High School is the route to go. You don't really know you're "type" yet, and you probably don't want anything serious yet. Every one of the girls in high school I wanted to date where the hot + shallow type, but I never dated any of them (and am now glad about that, it wouldn't have gone well). The girls I did date were ones that showed clear interest in me (some even asked me out). Dating girls I was only somewhat interested in gave a Beta a chance to learn how to be an Alpha, and it taught me that hot + shallow = boring. When I got to college I knew the type of girl I wanted to end up with.

    In short, I wouldn't suggest trying to find a mate in High School. If it turns out you do find one, that's fine, but don't push it.

  6. Ponyboy says

    I don't disagree with you. You're not saying one is better than the other, you are just saying men and women are different.

    I think there are probably 100's of books a year for the last 50 years written on that.

    Aren't some guys turned on by women dressed in schoold girl outfits? Really not all that different than what you are saying. School girls are likely virgins, seems to be a common kink/turnon.

  7. Anonymous says

    "Dating girls I was only somewhat interested in gave a Beta a chance to learn how to be an Alpha" = game

  8. Ian Ironwood says

    I agree, finding a "mate" in High School is a poor idea. Discovering what you want in a mate, however, is a fine idea. Social interactions and romantic involvements, within limits, can assist in developing your character and your outlook on what you want in your eventual mate.

    However, that is precisely why using Game in High School is important, especially for boys. High School is where Betahood is born. High School is where your hormones make you pine dreadfully for some girl but be paralyzed by your lack of knowledge about how to approach, what to say, etc. I'm not saying you should use Game to get laid in High School (although that would be easy enough), but consider High School a practice arena for honing your mating and dating skills.

    I don't encourage my kids to be virgins when they wed, because I've seen enough DISASTROUS results of that to positively shudder. A certain awareness, knowledge, and sophistication about your sexuality is vital, in my opinion, if you don't want to spend the first decade of your marriage trying to reinvent the wheel while the car is speeding down the road.

    That being said, I don't want my daughter to be the town bicycle, either. Or my sons, but they're geeky enough I won't have to worry about that for awhile.

    I'll defer to Mrs. Ironwood's compromise on this. She had a fairly low number compared to her friends when she met, and she based this on her philosophy of being "selectively easy". She had high standards for the boys she dated, but they were well-defined enough so that if they met her minimum requirements (again, these were pretty extensive) then she indulged in a sexual relationship. Her deft management of the urge to hump every dude in sight and common-sense approach to the social realities of college life impressed me. She came to the relationship equipped with enough knowledge to keep my jaded imagination intrigued, and I myself have high standards in such matters. So I'll likely advise my daughter to be "selectively easy", with a healthy side of wisdom. I fully expect her to make stupid men decisions, because that's part of life, but I also expect her to avoid any that could become tragic or problematic. And yes, I'll make sure she learns plenty of Girl Game so she can find just the right dude to be the father of my grandchildren.

    N.B.: Athol, there's a lot of research out there on the role of pheromones in the human mating process, but the fact is we still only have a vague idea how they work. The process appears to be fairly sophisticated. But I do know that wives exposed to their husband's pheromones (sweat) report an increase in their libido weather they know they've been exposed or not. I'll try to dig up that study.

  9. Anonymous says

    Ok so I shouldn't have started the whole "what is game" thing" but now that I have I will relate it to this post.

    "Game" for me is just the term I identify with the set of behaviours that cause sexual attraction. Through it I learned to undo certain of my behaviours that have been identified to cause repulsion in women. By undoing a lot of brainwashing, I have been able to learn that it is okay to show that I am masculine and a sexual person. It has shown me that women DO like to be approached, when otherwise all we hear are the complaints of women that are being approached. Game has taught me that approach needs to be done in the right way, as a man. It reminds me that supplicating behaviour and following women's and popular culture's advice does not work unless the woman is already attracted.

    Game has shown me how to interpret women actions better as well. Standing up straight, speaking my mind, doing things to gain confidence in life, and looking women in the eye has many more women lingering in my vicinity. Thanks to reading about game I now know what that means. The old me would (and did) wait for them to initiate. That didn't work so well. Luckily game (and Athol) has also taught me that I have to initiate. I am not very good at it yet, because the fear instilled by all the previous brainwashing is still strong, but at least now I know it is just fear to be overcome, and not reality.

    Athol's post is right on the money. When girls would initiate I would latch on even with little attraction, just for the attention. That is not a good start to a relationship. Also, with hypergamy the way it is, most women will need someone who at least has the courage to initiate some sort of move on her.

  10. Christy says

    I'd love to see Mrs. Ironwood's story make it out into.the ooen. Just how did she sort through all the emotions and hormones to come up with her selectively easy strategy? Were there any near misses with disastrous men? Girls could save themselves tons of heartache.

  11. Ian Ironwood says

    Actually, she did have a few early disasters. The idiot bf that immediately preceded me was a world-class power tool that she was trying in vain to "rescue". I cured her of that. But of the other few dudes she dated, two are godfathers of my kids because I find them stand-up guys, and my standards for such things are high. So it worked out pretty well, all things considered, twenty years on. But she was a nerd. Her sister, the cheerleader, is on her third marriage.

    She didn't just decide that feminism was crap one day. Believe me, she's very strong willed — but she watched her mom and her sister go through multiple divorces, and she thinks being happy is more important than being "equal", so she never really bought into it in the first place. Since we both have "raising high-quality young-'uns" high on our list of priorities, and we generally agree on how to go about that, the rest of it falls into line pretty easily after that.

    Look, I have a great marriage. But it doesn't happen by accident, nor does it happen without effort. It's an art, and if you don't have the right brush in your hand, you're just getting the wall dirty. Maybe one woman in a thousand has the potential to be an outstanding wife for you. Ten in a thousand have the potential to be great wives. A hundred in a thousand have the potential to be perfectly good wives, and probably four hundred more have to potential and capacity to fake it well enough while they learn. Know what you want and don't settle on less than you're willing to put up with. I cannot stress enough the importance of good mate selection criteria. And a perky pair of pumpkins ain't always a good indicator of a good wife and mom.

  12. Ian Ironwood says

    I once counseled someone who had approach anxiety — this poor dude literally couldn't think of anything to say beyond "Hi, I'm ______." Negative game, even though he wasn't too bad looking (an adjusted 6).

    So I took a page from CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, that is, not Cock and Ball Torture), and we spent a few weekends at a different local college bar. His task was to talk to 100 strange women and ask for their phone number, after explaining that this was part of his therapy and he was tracking rejections. The rule was that he had to get her name, give her his name, and after explaining the situation to her he was to ask her for her number.

    With the pressure off to actually get a phone number, and admit up front that he was tracking his rejections, the first few painful conversations soon gave way to a lot more relaxed and flowing style. His confidence picked up, because he wasn't trying to sleep with these women, at all — he was doing an exercise.

    Turns out he had to talk to 118 women, though. Because 18 of them refused to reject him and gave him their numbers. Not bad for a guy who couldn't have initiated a conversation with a woman at a bar two weeks previous.

    And the internal change in him was subtly profound as well. While far from a Red Pill dude, he matured a lot after that experience. Most importantly, he quit fearing women.

  13. Lainey says

    "It's an art, and if you don't have the right brush in your hand, you're just getting the wall dirty. "

    "And a perky pair of pumpkins ain't always a good indicator of a good wife and mom."

    Did your wife get interested based on your wit alone? I love it. :)

  14. Stargate Girl says

    "But I do know that wives exposed to their husband's pheromones (sweat) report an increase in their libido weather they know they've been exposed or not. I'll try to dig up that study."

    I constantly lust after my husband, but I gotta say, I cannot stand the scent of sweaty anything.
    Sweaty husband, kids, cats. whatever. if they are stinky they are going in the tub!

  15. Gwen says

    Speaking as someone who was excessively shy when I was young (trust me, I didn't even look at men, for fear they'd notice me looking at them) that is not a good way to get noticed. I did run across this on HUS a while back and bookmarked it, thinking I could use it to teach my girls when they get older. I'd love to know your opinion on it, Athol. Do these sound like good strategies to you? I wish I'd had some guide like that when I was in high school, or even my 20s.

  16. Gwen says

    "Since we both have "raising high-quality young-'uns" high on our list of priorities, and we generally agree on how to go about that, the rest of it falls into line pretty easily after that."

    "I cannot stress enough the importance of good mate selection criteria."

    Absolutely! Shared values make the foundation of a strong marriage. It's more important that anything else.

  17. Rachel says

    The smell of my husband's sweat makes me gag. :/

    If his junk is so much as FAINTLY sweaty (i.e. he showered that morning and now its evening), I make him wash it with soap before I can give him a BJ. I can't get my nose close enough to it otherwise to get the thing in my mouth.

  18. Anonymous says

    "Most importantly, he quit fearing women."

    Every time I read that, it still shocks me. Keep up the good work, Mr. Underwood.

    Not that I'm a 10, or even a 7, but I think most women would not want to be feared. Unfortunately, that's what our society has taught men.

  19. Ceer says

    I seriously disagree with this post. There are girls whom I have seen loose out on a super guy (my friend) who'd have gone and introduced himself, but didn't because he actually thought they were out of his league. He ended up meeting a better looking girl (he later married) on the internet. With the betaization of American men, and the fact that many betas get shot down so frequently, they learn to give up even obvious chances. This means that for women, learning to approach is important.

    Original comment over at Susan's blog:

    My theory goes something like this:
    Female DHV strategy depends on the relative alpha/beta of her target and the preferred mating strategy. For a short fling, a direct opener is usually sufficient.

    For a long term/marriage oriented woman, it goes somewhat different. First, the opener must be indirect. Small talk for a minute or two, then probe for an area of his interest. Once found, you can prompt him to DHV. If he does, you can go ahead and use a beta DHV for yourself. Repeat this a few times. Once he seems interested, you can ask for his contact information.

    I'd repost it here for you, but I'm not sure it's within the rules.

    The rules is the LAST place I would send a woman looking to up her game, especially the marriage oriented.

  20. Athol Kay says

    I just want to say a quick thank you for disagreeing with me, making an argument for that disagreement, and yet not turning it into personal attacks or similar.

    You're welcome to repost things.

  21. Anonymous says

    Thanks for the kind words. No self-pity here. Just recognizing facts and getting on in life. One plays with the cards they are dealt and my happiness and my standards are my responsibility.

    Coincidently with AK's post, Vox Day touched living the best life you can as an omega. Check out:

    More on point, Susan Walsh seems to disagree with AK about women approaching men. She seems to think it's a good thing in some instances. I find the mating dance so interesting.

  22. R. says

    Hmm, that's strange.
    My fiancée actually loves the smell of my junk when it is faintly sweaty, as you describe. She goes for it and smells it for a long time before the actual BJ.

  23. Ted D says

    Fear of rejection is a HUGE deal for many men. I think most women have no idea how much courage it takes for some men to simply walk up and introduce themselves. I wager if they had a clue, they would be MUCH more considerate of every attempt, even from guys they don't really care for.

  24. KK says

    I'm with Ceer. The Rules do have worthwhile tips for a young woman, but when followed as a whole, the effect may not actually be a net positive. The plus sides of the book revolve around tricks to Keep It Slow despite a hamster running on overdrive, which is a fine strategy. The more suspect parts seem more like female projection on what they find attractive in a high-value man, which may be counterproductive when done by a woman. Going overboard in signaling unavailability or disinterestedness will scuttle a lot of budding romances.

    The times have changed. The mating dance these days is much less structured and supervised than it was decades ago and I think The Rules do not fit as well into the new order. The median young man isn't as assertive as he used to be, and the free-for-all sexual marketplace (seriously, why does this term need an abbreviation?) heightens the differences between the haves and have-nots. A young woman playing by The Rules may discourage all men from approaching (or continuing the courtship) except those few who can truly overload her attraction triggers, and we know how stable relationship prospects those guys tend to be.

    The disagreement may actually be more semantic than substantial. I don't think women need to do the approach per se (although I have a hard time seeing that as a bad thing for their own interests), but conveying an impression that says something like "I'd like it if you came over here and broke the ice" and "I'm enjoying talking/doing things/being with you" after that should do plenty of good. Eye contact and openness are huge there.

    On a personal level, the quickest way for a woman to rise from the steady undercurrent of people to A Prospect (assuming a baseline attractiveness a.k.a. The Boner Test) is usually when she makes it clear that she finds my presence pleasant to be around. From my perspective, the woman's attention is the primary bottleneck in dating, so making it clear that I've crossed that hurdle encourages me to carry the interaction on forward. I'm not sure how common trigger that is to men in general, though.

  25. Horseman says

    Does anyone remember the bar scene in A beautiful mind? Where Russell Crow points out the advantage of going after the 2nd or 3rd best in a pack and leaving the alpha female alone. How does this approach strategy work when talking about sex rank. I have a friend who does amazingly at this particularly with the divorcee crowd. He says the ones played the cold don't look at him in high school learned to be picky and that is true. High schoool is pure sex rank. However at 40+ other factors such as learning to be open, approachable are more attractive to someone who ran the MAP, divorced and now won't put up with a perceived ice queen.

  26. Horseman says

    About do women know what it takes to approach them. Remember its not just you watching him coming at you. All the other men are watching, we're competitive so we are seeing how he does. If its a player we often want to see him fail secretly, partial jealousy and partial rank in the male heirarchy.

    If its a nice guy approaching, and we know, males instinctively form even a mental hierarchy in any environment, we will watch even more to see how she treats him, not if he wins or loses.

    If he succeeds good on him, if its a rejection we watch to see is it a pure, cold shoot down or a few minutes of mild flirtation followed by a gentle let down, thanks no thanks.

    So ladies, and guys too, if you are approached remember, they are putting it out there in public display. If your not interested do it with grace and empathy, its in your own best interests later in the night.

  27. Anonymous says

    Does that ever happen? An attractive women who doesn't get hit on?

    Every attractive woman I have even known gets hit on ALL THE TIME. They may not notice or may think the guy is just being nice. But they definitely get hit on.

  28. Anonymous says

    So why is it that people tell me that i'm sooo attractive, and I never get hit on? Either lots of people think i'm so pathetic that I need the self-esteem boost, or guys are afraid of approaching women. I tended to believe the pathetic esteem boost for years, which actually contributed to the destruction of my self esteem.

    Sounds like both sides need courage.

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  30. Lainey says

    Good post, Horseman. I think any guy that sees a woman slap down a man who approaches in a cold manner should consider her character. You don't really want to be with a woman who treats people so poorly.

  31. Mr. Kone says

    If a girl keeps waiting for the men to come up to her and ask her out, she’ll end up with someone lower than her sex rank. Dó show interest, but play hard to get. Make him chase you – he’ll be much more committed afterwards, because you were the reward and not the freebie. But give him a chance to chase you, make an opening, create a situation. Flirt.

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