A professional perspective to dating

Artefact’s Otto Linder explores the growing business of dating coaches and gets first-hand experience of some of the techniques they’re using to help single men find their ideal partners.

Men’s attitudes towards women are often a subject of extreme controversy. I’d heard of specialists who help men to find the women of their dreams by analysing human behaviour and psychology; but Johnny Cassell‘s name was particularly prominent as a dating coach.

Admittedly, I’m lucky to have never had any trouble talking to women, but realise that it doesn’t come as easily for everyone, so thought it would be interesting to find out how the other side lives, and how one of the world’s leading human behaviourists makes his living.

Cassell is clear from the start: “It is our duty as men to make contact, women will rarely do it”, and he goes on to say that one of the most crucial steps is getting into the right, self-confident mindset.

He believes a great way of getting your mind in the right place is through “positive reference points,” which is exactly what it says on the tin.

Cassell believes that every time you are about to approach a woman for the first time, reign in your confidence by thinking about the successful encounters you’ve had with women in the past. This will hopefully boost your confidence, which will shine through and make you appear more secure.

“It is our duty as men to make contact, women will rarely do it. – Johnny Cassell”

As soon as you start feeling comfortable about approaching women, at least in theory, it’s important to think about what you seek in a partner.

This might sound very shallow or superficial but the truth is that most people, in my experience, look for certain visual aspects in their partner.

We tend to make lists; mental ones, written ones, or even subliminal ones. On the other side you’ll find the personality traits that take priority, but you’ll only discover these if you are lucky enough to get past the initial greeting and get into a conversation. Johnny explained how this will work as a guideline when finding a potential partner.

Okay, so you’ve built your confidence, you’ve got a list, and now you’ve found someone who fulfils some, or most, of the criteria on your list – now what?

Well, you go and talk to her! Now this answer may sound simple and obvious but Johnny explained the six stages that you need to think about when striking up a conversation with a beautiful woman.

Number one is your opener, this has to be something relevant, for example directions, time etc. But the opener is not the crucial bit, it’s actually the response you want to pay attention to, because it’s in the response that you will find something you can use to sidestep the ‘yawn zone’.

We joke around about the yawn zone; it’s not an official term, but represents the stage where a person’s brain clicks into ­­autopilot mode, when they are robotically answering the same questions they’ve answered a hundred times before. Let’s face it, you’re boring them and you want to avoid these kind of questions.

goingin2Johnny asks me “how many times have you been asked the same questions, ‘What do you do?’, ‘How old are you?’, ‘Where are you from?’ etc.” The answer is millions. I’ve been asked these mind-numbing questions so many times now that as soon as someone starts to churn them out, I lose interest. Boom, yawn zone.

Right, so you have to steer clear of the yawn zone, and one way you can go about it is making an assumption about her, it can be completely out of the blue.

The more random it may be, the more likely you are to grab her attention. So you can assume that she speaks fluent Latin or has been to the moon – whatever it may be.

The important part is her response, which is called the ‘hook’. For example, you assume she’s been around the moon and her response is “What? No, but that would be cool!”.

Now she’s given you something of value, she would like to go to space, where can you take it from here?

When the hook is secure you can start relating or challenging, dependent on how much you know about the running topic.

If we stick to the topic of outer space, you could respond by telling her about your own interest in space and thus be on the same page, or go for something controversial like, “I don’t know about that, I think it would be boring to stare out into the darkness for 20 minutes”.

Johnny’s conclusion is that, either way you choose to play, it’s unlikely that the conversation will die there.

Now you’ve already got quite far in your wooing attempt and should start thinking about ‘closing’. Here you have to be aware of time constraints – you don’t want the conversation to go on for too long as you might run out of things to say, appear vapid or boring and shoot yourself in the foot.

Johnny explained how you can always exit with a smooth: “Anyway, I have to run, my boss might kill me if I stay any longer”, and then ask for her number so that “you can continue the conversation a bit later”. This shows you’re interested but not desperate.

We’re merely scratching the surface of what we discussed with Johnny here, but this is not supposed to be a descriptive article about how to talk to women, rather an article about a professional perspective on a certain opinion.

“Yeah that’s great, you sit in a room and talk about how to pick up women in theory, but what about the real world?”

Now you’re probably thinking, “Yeah that’s great, you sit in a room and talk about how to pick up women in theory, but what about the real world?”.

The theory is only the beginning; in this five-and-a-half-hour session with Johnny, you spend the last one or two putting what you’ve learnt to the test.

Johnny gave me an expectant “Get your coat, let’s go try this in the real world!” and we were on our way towards Trafalgar Square. We practised a bit in different stores on Regent Street and quite quickly got into the feel of things. It was time for the real test.

Johnny saw a beautiful, dark haired woman and I suddenly had to get the courage to speak to her.

Now this might sound very sexist but when you make an initial approach, you naturally think visually as you haven’t had the chance to get to know her yet – it’s human nature.

She was making her way through the crowd on a very busy Regent Street and my initial reaction was “nah, she looks like she’s in a hurry”, but then I thought about what we had discussed with Johnny earlier – I was making up excuses not to approach her because I was scared of failure.

I took a deep breath, pulled my trench coat around me and went in for the opener: “Excuse me, could you tell me where Oxford Circus is?” In my mind I was thinking, “We’re on Regent Street, she must think I’m an idiot, what am I doing?”.

But she didn’t; she smiled and explained in broken English that her English was, well, broken.

We discussed why it was broken and I confessed to knowing exactly where Oxford Circus is but I just had to come up with something to approach her with, and that went down quite well.

Anyway, long story short, I applied the rules of conversation that Johnny had taught me and even though, admittedly, I was nervous, but I came out on the other end with a new telephone number in my phone, a higher self-confidence and overall feeling pretty good.

To conclude, I’m aware of the moral dilemmas one might find in this profession, it is of course controversial. The idea of ‘picking up’ women is one which some abhor but from my experience with Johnny I would be inclined to say that this is something that does not actually objectify women but instead plays on a man’s inability to find a partner. Some could call these techniques misogynistic and sexist, but when we strip it down to its purest form isn’t it just a way of giving someone a helping hand on the way to finding love?


Featured image by Ellen Syrjala