Amy Alkon drags people, kicking, screaming, and laughing, out of their misery with her behavioral science-based advice column, which runs in about 100 newspapers.
Buy her science-based and bitingly funny new advice book, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" (St. Martin's Press, June 3, 2014).
Got a problem? E-mail Amy at AdviceAmy@aol.com.
*I was quoted in The New York Times this week, in a Science section article about cellphones as a modern irritant. (I cover this in my upcoming book for St. Martin's Press, "Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck," to be published in Spring 2014.)
I can't talk to really pretty girls. If I'm talking to a girl I'm not that interested in or a dude, I'm golden. But if I'm attracted to a girl, my thoughts get totally scrambled. After a party, I walked this sweet, gorgeous girl to her car. She said some funny or cute thing about me, and I meant to say something witty back. Instead, I just said, "Huh." Somehow, it was all I had at that moment. It felt too awkward to keep standing there, so I just mumbled goodbye and walked to my car. Pathetic, huh?
— Kicking Myself
It's good to keep a woman guessing — but not as to whether you want her to go out with you or give you the Heimlich maneuver.
A Dutch study confirmed what you and most of us already know — that talking to a hot woman can turn a man's brain into a pudding cup. The researchers — a team led by Dr. Johan C. Karremans — did the study after one of them was chatting up a "very attractive girl" he'd just met, intent on impressing her, but when she asked him where he lived, he suddenly couldn't remember his street address.
University of Chicago researcher Dr. Sian Beilock, author of "Choke" — a book about overcoming performance anxiety in sports, business, and the arts — explains that we have different types of memory. The type crapping out on you every time your head says "Well, hello, beautiful!" is "working memory," the cognitive horsepower that allows you to hold relevant information in mind (and protect that information from disappearing) while you're trying to do something else. Stressing about what a woman might think of you and overthinking things you normally do without much thought, like tossing around witty banter, depletes working memory resources that would otherwise be available — maybe to the point where you find yourself glancing around the bar for help recalling the simplest facts about yourself: "My name? Uh Bud. Bud Light."
You stop the pretty ladies from pulling the fire alarm in your head and evacuating your every thought the same way you, haw-haw, get to Carnegie Hall — practice. Beilock lays out numerous examples that suggest that the more you practice under pressure the less likely you'll be to choke when the stress is on. For example, golfers who had their putting practice sessions videotaped and judged by coaches did much better in competition than those who practiced without scrutiny. You, likewise, would probably be helped by going out and practicing hitting on hot women with your friends watching in the wings or — better yet, to raise the stakes — with them watching and placing bets with you on how you'll do. To avoid self-conscious overthink, shift your focus from fretting about what a woman thinks of you to having a good time saying things you find interesting and fun. With practice, words should stop deserting you and you should have fewer grammatical accidents, making you far less likely to compliment a beautiful woman on how smashing she looks with, "Drop dead, gorgeous."
This guy and I ended up having sex on the first date. I asked him whether he'd done this before and still had a relationship, and he said yes, but it didn't last. He said that for our next date, we should do something not involving sex and said we should meet for coffee on Friday. He texted to say the sex was great, and I told him I hope he doesn't feel different about me, and he said he doesn't. But, now he's texting me much less, and Friday came and went with no mention of getting together.
— Huge Mistake?
There are two surefire ways to see that a guy sticks around after sex on the first date: handcuffing him to the headboard or developing magical powers to control men and small appliances with your hair. Otherwise, you should assume that sex on the first date will be sex on the last date. This isn't to say it necessarily will be. But no matter how good a man's intentions, he can't reprogram male psychology, which evolved to push him to seek sex without commitment with as many women as he can. (All the better to leave lots of offspring to pass on his genes.) What keeps a man coming back aren't good intentions; it takes an emotional connection that overwhelms his urge to be on to the next. So, whenever it's possible you'll want a particular guy in your life for more than an afternoon, see that you take things slowly enough for an emotional bond to develop. In other words, if you wind up on your back on the first date, he'd better be standing over you asking, "Oh, my gosh you okay?"
It's Amy Alkon's Advice Goddess Radio — "Nerd your way to a better life!" with the best brains in science solving your love, dating sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday — http://www.blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon/ — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or download the podcast at the link. Call-in during the show: 347-326-9761 (NYC area code).
Advice Goddess Radio: Dr. Peter Gray — why play and principles of democracy are the keys to educating kids.
(c)2012, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon
Read Amy Alkon's book: "I SEE RUDE PEOPLE: One woman's battle to beat some manners into impolite society" (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).