Why won’t anyone be honest with you?

January 03rd, 2013 - 145 Comments

Jesus, relationship advice for women is the worst.

I was reading a women’s relationship-advice site (because of my taste in music, I’m really a 40-year-old black woman trapped in a debonair, suave man’s body).

This girl was asking for advice about a guy she was seeing. They had gone on a few dates, but he hardly called her and mostly sent short text replies when she initiated.

“LEAVE HIM!” the other women on the forum yelled.

“Here is what you do,” one said. “You need to test him and make him work for it.”

Another said, “Let him chase you. You need to filter out guys like this and go for men who want you.”

Ok, that advice isn’t bad.

But do you notice something funny about the advice?

NOT ONE PERSON TOLD HER TO IMPROVE HERSELF.

Instead, they told her about filtering men…and how HE needed to work to win her…and how she shouldn’t put up with the way he was treating her.

I prefer the advice of my man, R&B singer Lyfe Jennings, who memorably said:

Be the person you wanna find
Don’t be a nickel out here lookin’ for a dime

That’s right. To develop new behavioral-change techniques, on Mondays I read the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology for new research. And on Tuesdays, I blast Lyfe Jennings. BOOM.

Skip to 0:40 to kick this off

Yes, that girl on the advice forum should probably kick that guy to the curb (he’s just not that into her). But I guarantee she could improve herself — becoming more fun, getting more fit, picking up interesting activities, and overall working on her positive attitude.

This idea of actually improving yourself is advice NOBODY tells their friends. It’s politically incorrect and impolite, and it’s easier to tell them to DUMP THAT LOSER! But it also happens to be 100% true.

Ramit’s blunt relationship advice

I want to show you what I mean.

A friend of mine had a crush on one of my friends, a big-name, top-tier guy. She was mystified that he didn’t seem to be into her, and she asked for my advice. I don’t usually give relationship advice (because people are weirdos and start hating you when you don’t tell them they’re the greatest), but she was persistent.

I said one thing: “What kind of woman does a man like him want?”

She responded with generic BS: “Confident, smart, blah blah.”

I said, “Ok, just stop. This dude is a high-caliber man. He is SWIMMING in women. Of course he wants that — but that’s just the price of admission. What else?”

She was stumped — and admitted she’d never really thought of what HE would want — because in her mind, for her entire life, she’d been the prize that men pursued.

It turned out there were a few things she COULD work on. She recognized that to attract a top-tier partner, she had to be at the top of your game.

(By the way, this is just as true for guys. It’s not enough to just coast by — improving yourself means becoming more interesting, fit, engaging, and entertaining. When you become the life of the party, women will be attracted to you, instead of simply having to chase after whatever you can get. Harsh truths.

I know this first-hand. Over the last 10 years, I systematically improved myself mentally, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. When my friends and I used to walk up and introduce ourselves to girls, they would walk away in the MIDDLE OF OUR INTRODUCTION. That doesn’t happen any more.

Back then, I had crippling beliefs. For example, I would always tell jokes with friends, and girls would laugh, but they would laugh like this: “Oh ha ha…he’s so funny…some girl is really gonna like him one day” (Classic Nice Guy Syndrome). Overcoming them literally took YEARS, so I know why it’s so challenging to hear someone say you should work on yourself.)

But I’m telling you this because I’m not here to make you feel syrup-y good — I’m here to help you improve and live a rich life. And sometimes that takes brutal honesty.

By the way, I’m not just talking about relationships…

We do the same thing with careers. We write about what WE want in a job…how WE want a flexible schedule, how WE need to make $X, how WE want to work from home on Fridays.

I call this “I, I, I Syndrome,” because average people spend so much time thinking about what they want…that they NEVER pay attention to what the hiring manager wants!

Pay close attention here: If you’re early in your career, you can wait around for 10 years and try to get more experience.

OR

You can deeply understand the hopes, fears, and dreams of a hiring manager at your Dream Job…and shortcut everyone else. (Or your ideal partner.)

  • Even if you don’t have 10 years of experience
  • Even if you’re not sure you’re the right fit for the job (or person)
  • Even if you’re not sure what your dream job is

This principle — that 80% of the work is done before you ever set foot in the room — is something I covered two days ago on Fox & Friends, a national morning show:


People want the magic bullets — “Ramit, what should I say in a negotiation?? What’s the magic phrase??” but the truth is, 80% of the work happens BEFORE you ever walk into that room.

I can give you word-for-word negotiation scripts for earning thousands more — and I WILL give it to you in a couple weeks on my email list — but if you haven’t done the 80% of the pre-work, the scripts won’t help you.

If you don’t understand the psychology of barriers, no amount of fancy scripts will help. This is why amateur “pickup artists” always want to know, “What did you say to talk to her?? Tell me the line!!!” but they fail to understand that no script will persuade someone to stay with you if you’re not an interesting, engaging person.

So how do you do it? How do you out-prep everyone so by the time you walk in the room, you have an UNFAIR ADVANTAGE over everyone else?

In other words, instead of waiting for others to “like you for who you are” (classic loser mentality), why not become a better person? Why not become truly IRRESISTIBLE by becoming more skilled, more attractive, more truly understanding their hopes/fears/dreams, and by becoming so popular they can’t help but want you?

This year, I’m going to show you how to do exactly that.

Becoming a top performer isn’t as simple as reading some script like a magical incantation, but there are MASSIVE strategic shortcuts you can use to save years.

Plus — what’s the alternative? Doing the same thing you’ve always done?

Complaining about Washington politicians and tax policies?

Whining about the economy and how the Baby Boomers took all our jobs?

Get a life. Let other people whine. IWT readers will be busy dominating.

Btw, why am I doing this? Why make TAKING CONTROL the theme of this year?

Because I’ve systematically studied and tested these techniques for over 10 years. Not hand-wavy generic advice like “Be more confident” (vomit), but the actual SPECIFIC ways to conquer your psychological barriers, build a systematic way of deciding what’s important, and eliminate distractions.

You can apply these to being more productive, earning more, finding a dream job, and even becoming more attractive.

In fact, I’ll show you.

Here’s what I’m going to be revealing in the next few weeks:

  • The Top 5 Productivity Mistakes that keep most people stagnant, as if there’s an invisible anchor attached to them (instead of using productivity techniques that top performers routinely employ)
  • The scientifically proven and tested process for building better habits, coming in a mega-post featuring two habit-formation experts — BJ Fogg, founder of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, and Charles Duhigg, bestselling author of The Power of Habit.
  • 3 “Small Talk Hacks” so you’ll never again feel alone when you walk into a room of new people.
  • How to avoid the biggest social blunders men and women make — with before-and-after video examples. This is one of my favorites since you can actually SEE the difference.
  • Tested scripts for turning any introduction into a lasting relationship. (If you think success is all about WHO you know, not WHAT you know, then this post will be for you.)
  • And a few other surprises I can’t mention yet.

Whether it’s relationships or finding your dream job — or any area of self improvement — you can choose to complain about tax policy, and how you’re not tall enough, or how that guy got hired because of his dad.

Or you can play the cards you were dealt and optimize for what you’ve got, recognizing that we all start at different levels. I was a socially awkward 127-lb dude who came from a very middle-class family. I worked — and worked HARD — to become skilled at psychology, systems, business, and behavioral change.

Others wait to be recognized for their brilliance and complain, WAAA he doesn’t call me, WAAA I didn’t get the job. Winners become better catches.

This month, I’ll be covering how to improve yourself in tremendous detail. No platitudes, but actual tested data, case studies, and videos of IWT students just like you who have actually DONE IT.

Moment of truth: How is your life going?

Have you had a friend who said, “Yeah, I should really do X” (work out, stop spending so much, leave a bad relationship)…but you KNOW THEY’RE NOT GOING TO DO IT?

My eternal fascination is when people SAY one thing, but DO another.

So in the next few weeks, I’m going to show you how to go deep to understand the difference between what people SAY and what they really MEAN.

When you can do this right — digging, almost excavating their language for what they REALLY mean — you can understand people’s hopes, fears, and dreams. It’s the ultimate way of ethically connecting with people beyond the perfunctory “Hey, what do you do?”

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145 Comments

 

Comments

  1. Awesome start to what should be a great topic for this year. I definitely think there is a problem with people never being willing to tell people to better themselves. I see it on social media sites like Facebook all of the time, where somebody just got out of some crappy relationship or mess that they started and all of their friends start telling them how awesome the person is and how they can do so much better and should just “wait for the right one” (be it a job or person). I wonder if there is some deeper selfish motivation for blindly supporting our friends failures, as if to allow us to say “well this person couldn’t do it either, so it’s probably not my fault that I failed too.”

    • Interesting take, Jesse. I’ve noticed it, too.

      It seems that a person’s significant other is wonderful and perfect–the finest human specimen. Then, the second they break up, the new-ex-boyfriend is bashed mercilessly for being the biggest d-bag the world has ever known.

      “Two minutes ago, you all wanted to have his babies! Now, he’s the spawn of Satan?!”

  2. I am a total believer in becoming the best version of yourself. I would add that that becoming irresistible is very individual to each person and requires you to become more of who you are (rather than someone else or society’s idea of what irresistible means). Intrigued to see how you tackle this!

    • Louise – you make an interesting point and I agree that being irresistible is an individual thing.

      However, I would challenge the notion that you don’t need to consider someone else or society’s idea of what irresistible means.

      It’s all relative.

      Let’s take attracting a partner as an example.

      You may think that the person you want to attract will find you irresistible if they knew you, and so you improve on your personality. But what if the person you are trying to attract places an importance on appearance also? This has to be taken into consideration, no?

    • “Becoming the best version of yourself” is a great way to describe it.

    • Rawzwana, I think we’re on the same page. Improving yourself/becoming irresistible is about becoming more of who YOU are, not what someone thinks you should be/do.

      If someone isn’t attracted to you because you have blond hair, well, that’s their problem! If you want to get fit, do it in the way YOU want to. If someone is telling you to go to the gym and lift weights, but you’d rather take a dance class or run outside, then do it!

  3. Great Post Ramit!

    I think it was Jim Rohn who said “you have to pour out the glass before you can fill it up”. To me this means giving a bit of yourself before you can gain more of what you have been wanting, be it in a career, relationship, etc. Looking forward to your work this year. Have you thought about doing any work on teaching charisma? I think people might really like that-I know I would be interested. Cheers!
    -Derek

  4. If you’ve ever tried online dating, you’ll recognize these invisible scripts right away. Here’s an example of profile ever written:

    “Hi. My name is _______. I’m really unique. You’ll never meet another girl like me. I like to go out and have fun with my friends. My family means the world to me. My cat, Mr. Snuggles, is the bestest cat EVERRR!!! LOLZZZ! Hit me up if you want to know more!!!!!”

    Every time I read a profile like that, I think, “Yeah. Really unique. I just read that same thing in 73 other profiles.”

    But it’s kinda like you say, Ramit. Even though a person’s situation (or dating profile) may be the same as everyone else’s, THEY think it’s unique.

    “Well, you just don’t understand. My situation is different.”

    “Really? How?” I often ask.

    Case in point: Marriage

    50% of marriages end in divorce. But if you ask a newly engaged couple if they’ll get divorced, the reply is universal.

    “No! We love each other.”

    So, I ask, “What about the 50% divorce rate? Statistics exist for a reason, you know.”

    Usually, they reply with something like: “Well, our situation is different. We REALLY love each other.”

    “OH! Well, what you put it THAT way…”

    • You know that the 50% divorce rate statistic is flawed, right? You are followi g a script right there yourself. The divorce rate for college educated people in first marriages that start after age 25 is different (20%) than those begun before 25, less than college education (50%), second marriages (40-50%), third marriages (60%), etc. Having a shared faith also affects the likelihood of divorce.

      Maybe your friends don’t want to tell you that they have spent time discussing communication styles, desired lifestyles, how they have both automated their finances?

    • Good pt but come on — the 50% statistic is totally misinterpreted. Irene is correct. Depending on your socioeconomic status (race, education, etc), your chances of divorce are WAY different. More on that 50% statistic here.

    • “OH! Well, when you put it THAT way . . . . ”

      JOKES for days John Garven!!!!

  5. Here is the problem with advice number one: you need to better yourselves in order to attract someone. It implies that there is something fundamentally wrong with you.

    If only I were skinnier – somebody surely would love me then! How many obnoxious or unattractive people do you know who are attached? Exactly.

    Don’t get me wrong – I am all for exercising and learning how to hustle. It is the principle that you are faulty and need to be fixed that does not sit well with me.

    The second principle I like much better because it focuses on empathy. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and ask yourself what they need. Maybe then you can stop wasting your time feeling bad about yourself and start helping others.

    • I think we need to better ourselves FOR ourselves, and in the process we become more attractive to others. We should strive to be the best that we can be and the honest truth is that most of us are not. There is a lot of room for improvement in almost all of us.

      Also, attractiveness and obnoxiousness are so subjective- your value system may have nothing in common with those couples that you mentioned in your comment. Perhaps those “unattractive people” took a long, hard look at who they were as people and decided to make changes that made them feel better about themselves that were perhaps not physical, but mental and emotional. Once they found that solid ground as people, their confidence and self-satisfaction was apparent to those around them, thus attracting someone who wanted to be with them.

      Which I think is the way it should be, to be honest.

    • we are ALL flawed. not one of us is “perfect”
      People get really worked up when we are reminded that literally we are wired to be imperfect.
      2 people can be “perfect for each other” but that still only qualifies the equal matching in terms of THAT relationship not the notion of perfection itself..

      We ALL can be more (or less) of something based upon WHAT WE WANT for our lives…. life is a process not a fixed circumstance

      What I find ironic is that you are making qualifying judgments in the same breath is saying that being faulty doesn’t sit well with you.

      “If only I were skinnier – somebody surely would love me then! How many obnoxious or unattractive people do you know who are attached?”

      So you can take the time to judge another as obnoxious or unattractive (both completely subjective traits) but the idea of someone accusing you (I use that term ubiquitously) doesn’t “sit” well with you?

      btw, it takes feeling bad about yourself to actually want to change something, do better for yourself or overcome something that isn’t working..

    • Hi Eve,
      Just wanted to point one thing out. Advice number one isn’t so much saying that you “need to better yourself because you are fundamentally flawed”, but that you CAN improve yourself, which will benefit you, and the world around you. Whether the changes make that particular individual more attracted to you is really inconsequential, you will always benefit from being a better version of yourself!
      I’m not trying to say “Eve, you are wrong”, just hoped you might be able to see advice number one from a perspective that makes it more valuable to you.
      Happy New Year!

    • I think it’s just about taking responsibility for your life. IF what you want is to attract someone, and IF you’re not attracting anyone, you could sit around and blame it on everyone else OR you could change something you’re doing. It has nothing to do with something being wrong with you. It’s just about whether or not you’re getting what you want.

  6. You are crazy good Rami! Just took your survey and had a crazy AHA moment!!!

  7. I wonder if I’m fundamentally flawed. If someone addresses me as Alec Baldwin’s character did, I immediately feel defensive and shut down. I’ve had coaches that took the “beat you over the head” approach to honesty and it completely demotivates me. On the other hand, if the same information is approached from a slightly gentler perspective, I give my all to exceed expectations. For example, if his character had said, “You are in this job because you’ve been a terrific salesperson for this company. At the moment, however, you’re not meeting your quota. You must meet your quota tonight, or we’ll have to replace you with someone who can,” I would kill myself selling the product to meet the quota.

    So, does this make me too flawed to be a top performer?

    • I’d say that’s the seed of an invisible script, right there.

      There’s no single way that people succeed, and if you can identify the sort of environment you do best in and pursue that environment, then go for it. Some people get really fired up in a competitive arena, and some people really go nuts for highly-collaborative environments. It’s possible to exceed in either one.

      However, I think you do need to be able to take grains of truth from wherever you find them, even if the lesson is a bitter pill. If it’s the kind of situation where you know it’ll make you hate your job and hate yourself, you need to get out of it, but you should still be able to look at the situation through a lens of: okay, this guy is a dick and I don’t want to work anywhere near him, but what motivated him to say that? He’s picking at a real issue, how would *I* frame this issue and what would *I* do about it?

      “Fundamental flaws” remove responsibility from you and your actions. If there’s ever an explanation that doesn’t reduce issues to that, I’d suggest aggressively seeking it. ;)

    • Thanks for your insights, An. I’ve always performed extremely well in competitive arenas (career, athletics, judged creative competitions, etc). As such, I’ve had to deal with hard truths to improve my performance. How those hard truths are presented, though, can make a huge difference in whether I react defensively or accept the truths and use them to improve. I prefer my truths delivered with some social lubricant instead of unfiltered vitriol. I was curious if others had the same reaction, or if I’m the odd man out.

  8. Totally agree about self-improvement. I have a teenage son and daughter and tell them if you want to find the right girl or right guy then you need to become the right girl or right guy first. Work on that, no matter your age, and the rest will follow.

  9. Hey Ramit,
    I’d definitely love to understand the difference between what people SAY and what they really MEAN. I’m sure it’s once again not a “silver bullet” script type thing and likely more has to do with deep psychology and body language but it’d be damn handy during every day life to be able to cut through the crap with people. That way I can quickly know who to ignore because they’re not going anywhere and who to start paying more attention to etc.

  10. I believe that it is essential to first get to know ourselves deeply, to understand our individual drives. This enables us to identify the career, job, person (or whatever) that is right – that fits. From there, self-improvement becomes an exercise in being the best version of oneself. Anything we are attracted to is aligned with our core imperatives, making it joyous and purposeful to strive towards. Plus, learning to understand our own hopes, dreams and fears is good training for doing so with others.

  11. It occurs to me that wow en (or men) might examine why they want a certain partner to respond positively. Is it for ego, bragging rights, sexual attraction, to remedy poor self esteem? Sometimes we humans pursue relationships for all the wrong reasons. I’ve been there done that during my ‘single’ years.

    I got dumped by the lookers, but married a average looking, smart, and responsible guy. Glad I got dumped… Some of the guys pursued could not with one woman… Because they were swimming in them even while in relationships.

  12. Smart advice. This is actually how I approach ‘dating’ and relationships in the first place. Rather than ‘play the game’ I focus on my own personal development and being the type of awesome person that my type would want to date. It’s the whole like attracts like or ‘law of attraction’ thing for me too. So rather than date lame guys, I do the inner work. I DON’T DATE. It’s a waste of time. Just be my best self and the right person will come on its own time. I’m in a relationship now with this ‘technique’ too. If you want to attract a top-tier guy, as you said it, you have to be a top-tier person too. But I liken that to similar social circles. If you like someone in a social circle you find out of your league then you work until you’re in the same circle.

  13. This is so on point. I just told a friend these things and in my head, I was saying that I need to take my own advice. When I worked on those things, especially my attitude, I felt great and manifested things easier, but I got scared and fell off the wagon. Now, I’m back to working on being a better me. I know that by doing that, all the other areas in my life will flourish. Thank you for the kick in the pants. I’m a big fan of your work, Sista girl (that’s for the 40 year old black woman in you.) :-)

  14. Be your best, AND get a second cellphone, one on which you will block the texting feature, to give guys your number. (Be sure to let them know your phone’s texting features are “broken”, so if they want to communicate they will have to actually “call” you).

    Keep your primary phone for calling/texting family, friends, and work. Use the calls-only phone as the number you give out to guys. Texting has made dating a lot more difficult. Best to just nip it in the bud.

    • Ridiculous. Your solution is to simply try to alter the entire dating structure so it suits your tastes (i.e., “I hate texting! If he really cared, he would call! Oh, I know…I’ll disable texting.”) That simply eliminates tons of potential partners. I do agree with the first 3 words of your comment, though.

    • I think you’re off the mark here, Ramit. I definitely agree you should strive to be a best version of yourself, but that’s something you need to do for yourself, not to hang onto a man. The truth of it is, whether she’s being her best self or not, nobody should stick around in a “relationship” where you need to constantly beg for the other person’s affection. If he’s not contacting her and not engaging when she contacts him, it’s pretty clear that he’s ‘just not that into her’. And that’s okay. No matter how much you improve yourself, you’re never going to be everyone’s dream girl (or guy).

      Your advice is actually a myth you’ll see in relationship advice for teenage girls: if only you were prettier, thinner, more fun, more outgoing, more sophisticated, more fashionable, then the guy you want would surely want you! Except that’s not really the way it works. If you’re a best version of you, you might find yourself bumping into more of the right kind of guys, but for a particular guy you’ve already met? What if your best version of yourself isn’t a good match for that guy either? Sure, you could try to be HIS best version of yourself but teenage girls have been trying that since forever, and it’s neither sustainable nor healthy.

      In this case, I think the best advice is to leave… then spend some time working on yourself before re-entering the dating world. This is actually quite common advice.

    • Instead of getting a second cellphone, how about telling the guy that you won’t respond to textmessages when you give him your number but that you are happy to receive his calls?

      I would much rather want a girl to tell me that she doesn’t like texting than telling me some bullshit about how the texting feature of her phone is broken.

    • Vicki, I’d recommend being more honest/upfront with your significant other. It’d probably be more effective to actually discuss what you want and/or why you want it (e.g. you value human interaction a lot more than 2-line texts). This also spares you from the certain disaster that will ensue that when your significant other eventually stumbles upon you texting someone. (How exactly do you think he will react when he finds out that you’ve been habitually lying to him? In my experience, people that are willing to lie in low-stakes situations are the most willing to lie in higher-stakes situations).

      Lastly, if you’re okay with texting family–people with whom you presumably share a close emotional attachment–why is it not okay for your significant other to text you? It strikes me as sort of a strange double standard, especially if the two of you are serious enough that you might conceivably get married.

  15. I think about saying “improve yourself first” all the time when I hear men and women complain, but I know I can’t say it without witnessing a meltdown. Thanks for writing this. Now I’m going to share it with my friends. :)

    P.S. The meetup you hosted with Derek had the right mix of people! When will you do it again?

  16. While I enjoy everything you write, I find this post particularly resonant. I have a visceral aversion to women’s “advice” columns, and the barrage of lady-centric “literature” out there, threatening to saturate our heads and hearts with absurd things. (I literally want to dry-vom every time I see that magazine that rhymes with Mosmopolitan. More like “Here’s a 100 pages of how to f*ck yourself over.”) The whole “Leave him, he’s a douche, you’re amazing!” blanket statement given within two seconds of when someone expresses her woes is so reductive, reactionary, and completely enables the person to deflect and run from the real conversation at hand. Like you said, even if the final decision she arrives at is “Leave him”, an entire opportunity for growth has been completely overlooked – because she isn’t willing to stop, pause, ask the questions, and gain knowledge. And more often than not, she’s then going to be haunted by a “what-if” (like your clothes return/rejection/I didn’t stop to ask story). Unfortunately, women are particularly adept at going towards quick-fixes because of our conditioning, and we’re bottle fed self-rejection messages from an early age, making us think “I don’t have the skills/smarts/innate worth to aspire to something/someone better.” I especially hate that it’s women giving women this advice. Ugh. One step forward, 14 steps back for feminism. “Leave the f*ckface!” simply feeds into the spin-cycle of BS, distracting us from the real work at hand, to individually and collectively build a life/time/place that is richly textured and empowered. Thanks for this post. I love how you connected the very clear dots, of how these barriers bleed into the different facets of our lives, and be the root of so many harmful scripts.

    • AGREED. I love this comment, especially you pointing out how “reductive” and “reactionary” this terrible advice is. It’s so easy to tell people the same advice they’ve heard over and over. But if you dig deeper — saying, OK, I left him…now what? — there are very few people with substantive advice to offer you. Thanks for leaving this.

  17. Thanks for posting that Cracked link. I read that article a few weeks ago and it’s been kicking my ass ever since.

  18. I don’t think the advice should be mutually exclusive. It shouldn’t be “leave him” or “improve yourself first”. I think it needs to be “if you’re bothered by this guy’s actions, then leave him and find someone who will treat you better…but also make sure you’re worthy of being treated well, and treating others the way you want to be treated.” There’s plenty of good women who go above and beyond for people that they shouldn’t. There’s also these crazy women who plays games with people and then wonder why they can’t meet “a good man”. Improving yourself and being that good person is essential, but you still “gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em”. Same holds true for other relationships and jobs.

  19. Ramit,

    This is the blog post that I have enjoyed the most so far.

    Thanks,

  20. Freaking LOVE this and sooooo agree! You hit it right on the money ;) (pun intended)

  21. This is actually helpful advice. The one thing I noticed is that in order to better yourself to get what you want, you should know specifically what it is you want in a guy or girl. To me not knowing what you want hurts just as much as not improving yourself.
    Footnote: Ramit you seem to mention a 40 year old black woman quite often. Is that what you’re looking for? Just curious.

  22. I had this same realization in my relationship life a couple years ago and it seriously changed my life.

    I was coming off a breakup in which the woman and I got along well, but we just weren’t compatible enough.

    I decided to apply some Earn1K principles, because what I did next is this:

    I got REALLY specific on the kind of woman I wanted to attract, and just as specific when it came to what it would take to attract that kind of woman.

    Not the standard B.S. like “Oh, she has to be blonde, make less money than I do because I’m secure, and have a great ass.”

    Ugh. Hell no. My friends still do that.

    I was like, “My future partner has a dry wit and is very sarcastic. She’s more well-read than I am in the areas in which I’m weaker (science and math). She’s self-employed, works from home, and the work she does has a strong spiritual component. She values loyalty and honesty above all other traits (because I do the same). She spends a lot of time thinking about how she can improve herself, and she follows through.”

    And on and on. I had several pages of that kind of stuff, and just as much getting in her head and thinking of what I would need to change in my life to attract a person like her.

    “I’ll be in better shape and have more energy. I’ll show that I can focus on my job and generate a consistent income working from home (because that was a challenge for me in my first year self-employed). I’ll be more proactive in thinking about what other people (like her) need and how I can give it to them. I’ll be funnier and more skilled at telling stories. I’ll have better habits that support me doing those things.”

    Once I had a lot of that written out, I thought about where I might meet someone. Online dating maybe? Friend of a friend?

    I talked with friends and told them about the kind of woman I wanted to attract. I started busting my ass harder than ever to be the kind of man who would attract her.

    Within a few months, a friend connected me with a woman who was a REALLY good match for what I described, and we just seemed to fit together instantly. It seemed like a good idea to start dating.

    We’ve been happily married for over a year.

  23. Ramit,

    My advice would be to talk to the guy, talk straight. Instead of playing games, testing him, etc. as the other forum posters suggested, what about just asking him, “are you into me?”

    It’s amazing the lengths people will go to avoid just talking to people. I don’t mean that such conversations are easy, but they are real and they get to the point so you can get on with your life, one way or another.

    Aubrey

    • Aubrey, I appreciate the comment but I disagree. I’ve found that a lot of guys say they “wish” women would “just be honest,” but when they are, guys get weirded out.

      AND THEY SHOULD!

      It IS weird to ask someone, “Hey. Are you into me?” That’s overly blunt for an area that is marked by subtlety and nuance.

      For example, a lot of socially awkward dudes wish women would “just be honest” if they’re not interested. The problem is, a lot of guys at bars get really angry and call women bitches. Ask any woman and you will see what I mean. In other words, guys THINK they want women to be direct, but many times when they are, it’s weird and off-putting.

      Note: There is a lot of nuance in how “direct” is OK. I am not saying everyone should play games so to the 5000 people about to comment about how I should add 7 million caveats, just close your browser. The point is not that everyone should play games. It’s that many people (guys) believe they want women to be direct but that’s an oversimplification of how relationships work.

    • I agree with Ramit’s comment that a lot of guys get weirded out when women really are honest and direct. I personally really value honesty and directness in relationships, so for me that’s always been a reason FOR being direct early on in a relationship, to scare off incompatible guys quickly before I waste too much time on them. Most guys, when asked, will say they prefer women to be direct, but most of those same guys then get offended when I answer some male equivalent of “does this dress make me look fat” completely honestly. Better to have that happen in the first week rather than four months into the relationship.

      My way of dealing with the situation in the example would have been to say straight out, “Hey, could you please call me occasionally? I’d really appreciate it if you did that. And by the way, if there’s ever anything I’m doing that annoys you or anything that you’d like me to do differently in the relationship, please tell me.” Though I’d have said that last bit on the first or second date rather than waiting until problems started to come up.

      It’s interesting that not one person has suggested just asking him to call more. The problem could be as simple as his last few girlfriends preferring text and in-person dates to calls, and it just not occurring to him that other women might prefer otherwise. But every commenter seems to be assuming that if the guy were really into her he’d be able to read her mind and know what she wanted without her having to ask.

  24. Funny story: Years ago, when I was playing blackjack for money in a small local’s place, there was only one open table so they let some clown playing $5 a hand sit down at my table. He wants to make friends. After awhile, the dealer informs him, “You ain’t gonna meet no millionaire with your beer money.” Same thing you’re saying, fewer words.

    In other words, your advice in this post is GREAT advice for straight men. If you want a winner, be a winner. A woman who is beautiful or rich is constantly approached, since too many men aren’t willing to work on themselves before they make the pitch. They think all they need is that one piece of equipment.

    But women are different. They’re already working on themselves. It’s pointless to say, “Work on yourself, you couch potato” to the woman who already has a trainer, a dermatologist, a stylist, a make-up artist, and maybe even a personal shopper. The beautiful, well-spoken black women in your video are gorgeous. It’s entirely possible that they don’t need to be told, “Work on yourself.” They may in fact need to be told, “Stop putting up with losers, users, and hustlers.” Their families or friends may be putting pressure on them to have a man, and they need support somewhere in their lives to be choosy.

    The advice that is not good for a young man in your situation may be perfect for a working woman in their situation.

    • The beautiful, well-spoken, confident, high-earning woman may want to ask herself why losers, users, and hustlers are approaching her and top-tier men aren’t.

    • YES! I don’t have a single female friend who isn’t working on themselves in some way. For the men I know it’s kind of a toss up. The problem is they’re often working on the wrong areas or trying to do too many things at once. Why spend tons of $$s on hair and makeup if you need to loose 50 lbs? Why focus on picking up new guys when you have trouble staying in a relationship for more than 2 months?

      A friend of mine has been having relationship troubles b/c their relationship is super lopsided. She ends up compromising way too often. I asked her if he thought he was giving enough in the relationship and she replied that he can’t think that things are equal effort between us (he did). I was THE ONLY ONE who had brought this up. Apparently everyone else had just told her to the leave the guy. You need some cheerleaders in your life, but OMG not everyone! Of course some people will bite your head off if you give them honesty, so it’s worth mentioning the importance of being open to feedback.

  25. Luvvit, Ramit. I have a blog post in the queue this month about this very subject. Thanks for writing this.

    That is all.

  26. As someone who writes women’s relationship advice, I really LOVED this article!

    Many years ago, I actually sat down and thought about the kind of woman I wanted to be in a relationship with, then I asked myself what kind of man that woman would be attracted to, and I realized I had some work to do.

    I did the work, and that’s why my relationship doesn’t suck.

    I love how all these things carry over into other areas of your life, like career. Not too many people consider that.

    • Clay, it amazes me that they don’t. On a level as simple as what career one chooses circumscribing the people that one meets to be in relationship with, it seems like such a no-brainer to me that most of the facets of the “life wheel” are interrelated, that I’m as astounded as you are that not a lot of people consider it.

  27. This was my exact relationship advice to my sister last year. In conversation about her long line of duds, she said, “It’s different for you, you can have any guy you want, I can’t.”

    We are sisters so we don’t look that different. She hadn’t read a book since high school, she talked about doing fun interesting things but she didn’t do them, she had worked the same blah job for years.

    She simply wasn’t as interesting as the guys she wanted to date. I advised her not to customize herself to each man, but that she herself needed to become more interesting.

  28. I had a friend in high school whom I kept in touch with after graduation for a few years via Facebook. He complained about never getting a girlfriend; that women only liked “assholes.”

    After hearing this time after time, and knowing that, though he wasn’t technically an asshole, he was an idiot who couldn’t carry on an interesting conversation in the slightest, I tried to give him some suggestions.

    Of course, he didn’t appreciate that. Whaddya do.

  29. Great blog Ramit. I love how you weave both left and right brain material together. Thanks for turning me on to Lyfe, never heard of him. One of my favorites in this vein is “I am What I am” by Oceanlab. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-O_h-BKY2k

  30. In regards to the sub-section: “How is your life going?”

    AHHH that’s completely true! And it’s absolutely the worst around New Year’s! It’s really a syndrome… it’s terrible. So many of my friends say they’re gonna do something and the exchange usually goes like this:

    Friend: “I’m gonna do X this year.”

    Me: “Yeah, you said that last year, so what’s different this year?”

    Friend: “Well I’m gonna really buckle down. Try harder you know?”

    Ugh. Try harder? That’s the best you got? For crying out loud most New Year’s Resolutions are set up for failure the moment they’re written. If you go right now to http://www.google.com/zeitgeist/2012/resolutions/ you’ll see what I’m talking about. That type of stuff makes me cringe. It’s just ugly.

    Just because it’s New Year’s doesn’t mean that suddenly all your challenges, barriers, obstacles took a vacation. They’re still there whether you like it or not and you can’t change that. What you can change is yourself and how you deal with those barriers, those walls. So start doing THAT!

  31. Most advice literature plays to people who won’t take the advice but will keep buying more product. The advice providers work from their own scarcity script, selling and reselling to a presumed limited audience of “losers” rather than a virtually unlimited stream of people who will take the advice and move on.

    • This is very, very insightful and true. I understood this years ago and chose to take IWT in a different direction.

    • Well said Barbara. Especially in high-interest topics like relationships, money, etc there seems to be a lot of ‘false prophets’ in the these industries hoping to capitalize on ignorance and/or fears of these people.

  32. Okay this is EFFIN hilarious yet so true. Thanks Ramit for this Lyfe Jennings jam. HAHAHAHHA

  33. I have a friend that ALWAYS complains about how hot, famous model types she works with aren’t after her. She acts pissed off her close friends are in committed, exciting relationships. Meanwhile, she’s a borderline hoarder and a hot mess. It’s astounding. I guess I should get more specific with her about what to do.

    I’m working more on being a better writer for my clients. It’s not always easy, but I’m making some strides. I’m also tired of hearing myself complain about not pursuing interests I’ve had for years. So I’m doing that too and signed up for some courses. If I don’t set a schedule and pay for it, I know I won’t go. So I’m going.

  34. There is an invisible script at work here that the “improve yourself” advice addresses, that is the “you aren’t complete unless you have a man” script. Granted, this can be applied to man as well and can expanded to include marriage, babies, a job, etc., but there are invisible scripts that are set up by our culture that are particularly damaging to women. Just follow the discussion in the media over the past year or two about whether “women can have it all”, invisible scripts of what a successful woman is and what she should be capable of laid bare.

    Improve yourself so that you are happy as a whole self…..that is the real message.

    • Acknowledged for emphasis, Nancy. I think it’s telling that no one else has replied to you about this. Those scripts are no joke. (Qui bono? – Who benefits?)

  35. I’m still amazed at Ramit quoting Lyfe… He never ceases to amaze definitely the 2013 Renaissance man.

  36. Ramit, it seemed like your host on Fox & Friends wasn’t really listening to what you were saying. To her, it sounded like you needed to play mind games with your boss, planting seeds and working them over for a raise. Like this was Inception or something. She didn’t comment on the fact that it was about figuring out what your boss wants, what’s in it for them, and then exceeding their expectations.

  37. The real focus point might be what did a Tom Brady, a Giselle Bunchen or John C Maxwell or they guy you know who is swimming do to get where they are. For that also, what have we all done to get where we are now…becoming a model or star quarterback or powerful CEO takes sacrifices.

    What people like are others who have made similar sacrifices.

    ramit everyone wants to have what you have and know what you know, but how few are willing to do what you did to get there.

    To date the hot chick or successful guy or make a bunch O’ money…what are you willing to NOT do in order to get what you want. If we just stopped doing things, a couple things, we would all get more of what we want.

    Girl who pines over short texts from semi interested guy…if she just stopped pining over short texts from guys and certainly then NOT taking time and writing in to women’s mag for advice. ABSOLUTE guy repellent…tell a guy you wrote in to schmozmo for dating advice…then wait for tires to squeal in your parking lot.

    If you want to test his interest in you…short text back…

    “in need of bikini wax review…curious?” then wait for tires squealing to stop with hazard lights on in your parking lot.

    Lastly…ask yourself what was last book your read, course you took or mentor you hired. If there are zeros across the board…start there.

  38. Now that I’ve reached midlife, I’m young enough to set a bad example but still old enough to give advice. I wrote an entire post called “10 Tips To Dating Out of Your League”. Here is the link: http://www.writingsofamidlifeman.com/2012/12/23/10-ways-to-be-a-better-man/

    I can summarize for those who don’t wish to read it, basically, “You can’t get out of your league without improving your game.”

    The same rule applies to dating, sports, business, employment, etc.
    Anyone familiar with the writings of Ramit, will recognize the principles of “The Briefcase Technique” in this post.

    I look forward to more from Ramit on Behavioural Modification. I realize that scripts and habits can make or break me.

  39. Brilliant, Ramith.
    Absolutely love your advice.

  40. This is awesome advice, and it is what I did as a single mom seeking a life partner. I spent time thinking about what I was, and filtering what I wasn’t, looking for as well as working on myself. Then after getting married, my husband and I both took “personal mastery” classes and committed to the journey of constant improvement together. It is a GREAT exercise to figure out what the kind of person you want wants and think about if that is who you want to be, then if so go for it!! If not, think through why you think/thought you wanted that.

    I dated a LOT, it was my research to uncover what I was/wasn’t looking for. I NEVER sat and waited for the “right person” to come along. Action = Results…I’m happily married now, and the night we met we both knew it was almost an uncanny match, jokes about getting married started that night. Glad I did my research prior!!

  41. Let’s say the girl is a dime already and the chemistry just isn’t there…the guy might be gay…it’s not always black and white.

  42. Enjoyed the post Ramit!

    Like how you’re bringing in a new top (dating) and showing how the advice you’ve given in the past about finances, careers and business can apply in this new area. Makes for interesting reading.

    Looking forward to more. Thanks!

  43. the habit that’s proving the hardest for me to break is going to sleep ridiculously late, for no good reason. I hate going to sleep, and I know I need to make it easier with more positive reinforcement to get off facebook or whatever, and get my eyes closed.

    When you talked about things people say they’ll do, but don’t actually do- this is mine. I always say I need to go to bed earlier, but I haven’t taken significant action in a way that would make it happen.

    I think a lot of things that are challenging to me now would be a lot easier if I was consistently well rested and able to wake up at a normal time every morning. People have more will power and better decision making skills when they’re not sleep deprived (as I have learned from experience).

  44. I am pleasantly surprised that you know about Lyfe Jennings! You truly are a trapped 40-year-old black woman :-).

  45. Using God’s name in vain caused me to unsubscribe.

  46. This is exactly the premise of my book. It took me awhile to figure out that I didn’t necessarily need a bunch of tricks, strategies, and rules to have the relationship I wanted. I needed to actually be into myself, because I knew I was working to be my best self. When I was focused on my own health, happiness, and wellbeing–creating a life that I actually wanted–I became less obsessed with how to make this or that guy like me. Well put, Ramit–or should I call you Ms. Jenkins? :)

  47. Great article! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my friends “Yeah, he’s a jerk” when I’ve actually been thinking “You’re clingy/less-active/not interested in anything he’s interested in/etc”. I say the polite thing but the advice that would actually help (if they’d take it) is usually that they should work on themselves.

    On a side note – I think you might be testing “P.S. 80% of the people who vote do so within the first 1 hour. Will you?” For what it’s worth, I was heading over to click on my vote when I read that line. I hesitated before clicking because those kinds of call’s to action are annoying. It’s very social media-esque “90% of people that read this status know someone with condition X. 2% will share and show they care. Will you?’ It might be effective for some people (perhaps so many people that you should keep using it); however, it makes the material that you’re clicking through to seem cheaper (at least to me and, really, shouldn’t your blog/email empire revolve around me?).

    • Interesting. I haven’t seen those examples before. Thanks for letting me know. And yes, in the spirit of my empire revolving around you, I am thinking of renaming I Will Teach You To Be Rich to “Jessica’s Breath.”

    • “Jessica’s Breath” sounds like a book I would read… in secret.

  48. Wow, you gained a couple off new black followers with the lyfe Jennings video. I was cracking up laughing. I knew by your intonation in your videos that you were not just some nerd giving get rich advice. I knew you were “hip” that’s why I always followed you lmbo

  49. Interesting theme for this year. It will help me greatly. Thank You.

  50. Wow…there is rap about personal finance???

  51. “Be that self that one is”
    ― Søren Kierkegaard

  52. Man, you are definitely a workaholic! XDXD

    A few rows into the conversation about dating, and you already start talking about work non-stop :D

    Or its your trick on the readers.

  53. Wow. It’s just… some of these comments… It’s hard for me to wrap my head around how: “Look inside to see what you can improve instead of always blaming others, and be empathetic to the needs of your potential date, boss, hr person etc.” could somehow be spun as bad advice. in any way. EVER,

    Thanks Ramit, for this post. I’m pretty stoked to see how this direction unfolds. While I haven’t agreed with everything you’ve said… I can’t think of a time when I’ve read a post on this blog and been disappointed in how I spent that time. I can say that about almost nothing else on the internet. Blah blah blah… praise praise praise… seriously. You’re killin it, man.

    I’ve made major changes in how I function and what I do when I wake up in the morning based on this blog. I am working daily to apply my biggest takeaways, to better myself, and to become a top performer. I’ve seen results, in my body, in my interactions, and in my income.

    Cheers.

  54. The difficulty with pre-packaged advice — like the stuff Ramit found above — is that there’s almost never time or space to say the most important thing:

    What is this problem helping you ignore? If you weren’t focused on this problem, what would you have to face?

    I have friends of both genders who do this “I like this guy/girl, but I wish he/she were more into me” dance. In almost every instance, this whole thing is a distraction from something more pressing, but more frightening to explore — a dissatisfaction with their physical appearance, unhappiness at work, or, most heartbreakingly of all, a deep personal self-loathing that the person mistakenly believes will be fixed by the admiration of their beloved.

    I suppose these are examples of the “invisible scripts” Ramit mentions from time to time, but they go so deep, it’s hard for most of us to see them. (My self-loathing friend is unbelievably accomplished — if you own a TV set, you’ve seen her work — but she continuously clings to an arbitrary marker of success as the thing she needs to accomplish in order to be happy, all the while ignoring the good things around her.)

    I hope we all have a rewarding, empowering 2013 — but I also hope we take time to sit with the things that are bothering us, to see if those are truly our biggest challenges, or if there’s something bigger, and more frightening, at the heart of it. Because I know from experience that if you don’t fix the latter before you tackle the former, it’s like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound.

  55. Ya know, I feel sorry for women in our Western society. They’re brainwashed by the mass media (especially Idiot Box [TV] programming) and made to feel ‘insecure’ on so many different levels, which results in a LOT of BAD relationship decisions.

    All I can say to everyone is this: BE YOURSELF! Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Most importantly, TRY to really KNOW YOU! Having a great relationship with your parents goes a LONG way in keeping yourself well-grounded. But, yes, BE the person you want to meet (date, etc.).

    Another thing…
    My gal friends have no problem going to the hair salon for a ‘new’ hair style or some fancy nails. BUT, they never fathom the idea of fixing the rest of their body (ie. going to the gym!). Ya know why? Because it’s easy to sit in a salon chair while someone’s doing your hair. But to go the gym and actually burn calories? Fugget about it! LOL!! :-)
    Unfortunately, MEN are supremely visual creatures, so looks matter in the beginning. That’s the honest truth. :-)

    I also have unrealistic guy friends who want to date a bombshell, yet they have the appearance and demeanor of George Costanza on Seinfeld. :-)
    Oh what a f*cked-up world we live in — a world of unrealistic EXPECTATIONS — usually the result of BAD PARENTING. :-)

    Great topic Ramit!! :-)

  56. Ramit, I love you. Thanks for being the kick in the ass we all need.

  57. I don’t think there are too many men who know the psychological principles of what turns women on. Some men who are ‘top tier’ inadvertantly come across success with women with outward success, while others already had ‘it’ in the first place. But I don’t believe they know the principles that cause success with women, and so can’t teach ‘it’ directly. They can however tell you how to achieve… Stuff, which leads to a change in mindset that leads to greater success with women. I can hear people saying, ‘Yeah, but every woman wants something different’. Outwardly that is generally true however, there must be a core psychological>biological principle or principles that are common to all (normal) women. Women don’t appear to be fully conscious of it. It’s kind of like asking an audience at a comedy club, what will make you laugh? They don’t know. If they did, the comedians would be less funny. Only the comedian knows what’s funny through trial and error (although that doesn’t mean they know the principles of comedy, making it difficult to teach).

  58. I agree with you that one needs to improve herself constantly.

  59. Good points, Josh! Again, I attribute relationship success/failure to GOOD or BAD parenting. And by that, I mean parents actually teaching their kids how to comfortably interact with people from the opposite sex without the foot dragging (making sex taboo, etc.).

    Unfortunately, the girls are not supposed to be thinking about relationships whereas the boys are encouraged to go out and make mommy & daddy ‘proud.’

    No meaningful discussion on relationships can take place without first examining the upbringing of both parties. Why? Because so many people come from broken homes or they’ve had traumatic childhoods.

    Fact: Males who are raised with tough unconditional, supportive love by both parents are more likely to fruitful relationships with females.

    In addition, females raised by the similar loving, supportive parents generally don’t get into crazy or destructive relationships with males. Why? Because mommy & daddy were excellent role models.

  60. Great article Ramit,

    I really enjoyed the part of your article related to relationships and how they’re similar to business. You aren’t by any chance involved in Neil Strauss inner circle are you?

  61. Ramit,
    I enjoy reading what you have to say because, although I am really old, I’m not dead yet. When I was young I was continuously trying to improve myself because it was obvious that what I was wasn’t enough to get the results that I wanted. I didn’t improve enough to make any difference in my situation. The problem I had was twofold–1. I literally couldn’t see myself as others saw me, and 2. going to school was the only thing that I was good at; even the most basic of jobs proved to be beyond my capabilities. Now that I am old I receive recognition for the volunteer work that I do, but I am very aware that even though the world is better for what I do no one would pay me to do it.

    So, my advice to you younger folk is to realize that even if you put genuine effort into improving yourself and it just doesn’t work, when you treat others kindly and always try to do the right and honorable thing you can still feel good about yourself. Also, even if you arrive at the point where you realize that your capabilities aren’t what you had hoped, just be aware that all work has value in and of itself. After all, where would the world be if no one picked up the trash.

  62. Thank you for sharing this truth. Actually for everything we want we have to give our duty to improve ourselves making able to get that. In Gratitude. Lashpal

  63. Ramit, thanks for this wonderful post. As a long-time female reader of RSDnation, I believe that you are one of the few who can create advice of similar caliber for women. Please make more posts like this!

  64. interesting! i cant wait to read this. i have a comment on this blog though. the fox video doesnt play. huhu

  65. If You are in a Relationship – Maybe you should listen to your 6th sense => not the loud noise you hear from your Heart[emotional] or Head[materialistic].

    This need practice.

    Subhashis

  66. I forwarded this to a friend who was disappointed that another relationship has failed. She didn’t write back. She probably hates me now.

  67. To answer the ‘headline’ question, people are always lying. This isn’t such a big deal, but having the awareness that your partner or potential partner is lying could save you both a lot of drama. The majority of relationship advice that I see tends to promote a ‘war of control’ type of relationship. You wear a social mask to get the person to stay with you and then once you have ‘bagged’ them, you either keep wearing the mask as long as you can (exhausting yourself in the process) or you change back into the ‘real’ you and become a controlling s.o.b.

    Isn’t it much easier to find someone who you don’t have to change at all? I’m not here to say that people don’t have to change themselves, but without clear communication, how will you ever satisfy the other persons wants and desires? You would have to be clear about what the other person wants are before you could make changes that would cater to their wants. Then you can properly isolate the changes that need to be made. Trying to change yourself before hand and guess what your (potential) partner wants is a large waste of time IMO. Too many variables in what different guys/girls want out of a relationship, especially with the social masks.

    • Here is the key difference:

      When you improve yourself, you are not putting on a mask. YOU ARE REALLY IMPROVING YOURSELF FROM THE INSIDE OUT.

      If you put on a fake mask, you will get discovered sooner or later — and the rest of your life is a long time to live with someone who feels cheated and deceived.

      On the other hand, the reason it’s so tough to become the best version of yourself is that it’s NOT a mask. It’s a true transformation. You aren’t faking it — you really change.

      I hope this doesn’t sound too vague. But having done it in some areas, and continuing to try to improve myself (along with many of my students), I will get into specifics later.

      For now, I appreciate the comment and wanted to quickly draw your attention to the idea that true change is not a mask.

      P.S. On the topic of what the other person wants, I agree that communication is key. But that’s a vague phrase (like spend less than you earn). Here’s another take: Most people actually want the same macro-things: Someone who’s attractive, fit, engaging, and makes them feel good. Are you all of those? Are you all of those at an “A” or “A+” level? I suspect not. If you JUST master these (think Big Wins), THEN you can start finding out what individual people are looking for.

  68. Although I see what you were intending to get across – the relationship advice is pretty crap. Stick to money matters. This sounds like you think people should improve themselves for someone else which is very bad advice. You should improve yourself whether its physical, mental, career, etc and that may in turn make you more attractive for a potential partner. If your sort of dating someone who doesn’t seem to be into you then you should absolutely leave them and move on. Work on yourself because you need to not for someone who’s not interested.

    • Love when people tell me what to write about. Thanks for the advice, random internet commenter.

      This reminds me of when I was at a conference and someone was talking about whether people actually value something if they’re paid to do it. Some novice psychologist said, ‘We KNOW people need to be intrinsically motivated. You give them extrinsic motivation and they won’t really care!’

      There was a big-name entrepreneur standing right next to us who overheard that guy and said, “Uh, you don’t know what you’re talking about. We paid (NAMEOFSITE.COM) users MILLIONS of dollars to do reviews…and they LOVED it.”

      So I disagree with part of your comment. My take:

      Working on yourself for someone who’s not interested — bad.

      Working on yourself for someone who is great and interested/possibly interested — GOOD.

      This applies whether you’re trying to get in a relationship or in one — like the many people I know who constantly improve themselves so their partners and they can all become better, not stagnant.

      Working on yourself for you is great. But working on yourself you’re interested in is ALSO ok.

  69. Ramit,
    One of my friends used my laptop and filled the survey using his email id.
    I am now unable to fill the survey as it says that “I have already filled the survey”.
    I think surveymonkey checks based on IP , hence I can’t fill the survey anymore :(
    It would have better if surveymonkey checks the uniqueness of the user based on the emailID.

  70. I actually thought Ramit was really giving relationship advice! haha
    Love your opening – couldn’t be further than the truth.

  71. Great post, much like in public speaking. their is always room for improvement in fitness, social skills, productivity etc.

    really excited for the next few weeks of posts!

  72. You have some nice ideas here in that we often attract what we are. At the same time, real change has to come from the inside and has to be authentic to both work and to attract those who are likeminded or on the same path. If you feel like you want to be fitter, then you should do something about it. If you want to learn something you don’t know, do it. But do it for you … and then the people you really want to be around will start showing up because the more that you are totally invested in doing the things that make you feel better and bring you joy, the more that you receive those things in return.

  73. By the way, I am a 40-year old black woman and I don’t appreciate your reference or its implications in the beginning of this post. Why don’t you use your brain and find a less denigrating way to make a point. I’ve appreciated some of the information you’ve provided, but you’ve just lost one 40-year old black woman subscriber.

    • The joke about being a 40-year-old black woman refers to my taste in music: Levert, Jodeci, Troop, and many more ridiculous artists.

      Btw, there is literally no way to connect the joke with me implying anything negative about black women (especially because I have nothing negative to say about that) UNLESS you simply skimmed the piece, saw the phrases “black woman” and “relationship advice,” and magically connected them with a huge chip on your shoulder.

      Ironically, in your comment accusing me of not “using a brain” and being “denigrating,” there is one person truly being offensive: you.

      I updated my joke to be even more crystal clear.

  74. It’s awesome that this is your theme for this year, because it was my goal for 2013 to take charge of my career, my health, my relationships, and my life–looks like this website is going to be a perfect companion for me on my journey! :D

  75. Lol, Ramit, could you be more sensitive? I’m sure you know that your work does not exist in a vacuum – there does exist a social context in which it is true that 40 year old black women and dating advice are connected negatively. Whether or not it was your intention to draw on that context, to dismiss it as “magical” is ignorant at best and pitifully intellectually dishonest at worst.

    On a separate note, I recently signed up for your mailing list and I’ve received three e-mails in as many days about this same post. Considering unsubscribing, as I prefer to receive some added value when people ask for my attention, rather than the same thing over and over. Will it be like this for every post? Is this part of your behavior change research?

  76. Ramit I had my doubts about following you but after reading the bloody freaking awesome post I will follow you in 2013 for my own benefit to be a better version of my self. That is the key for my goal to world domination this year.

    Thanks dude

  77. When I was little, my father taught me a valuable lesson that has stuck with me ever since: “If you want a friend, you have to be a friend first.”

    To my mind this falls in-line exactly with what Ramit was saying about improving yourself to attract the type of person and relationship you want. If you want to be in a relationship (of any type – friendship, working, lover) you first have to be the type of person you want to attract. If you want to have more positive, supportive and loving relationships, it helps if you aren’t Debbie Downer, have your own emotional act together, and are yourself positive, supportive and loving. In my experience, we tend to be attracted to and like to hang around people who are similar to us. (A lot of research backs this up in that we hire people like us, date people like us, etc.) So if you attract people like you, improving YOU is a surefire way to improve the type of people you have relationships with. That’s my two cents.

    Ramit – I’m really looking forward to the Taking Control series. Thanks for doing this.

  78. This was one of the best posts I’ve read on this blog, perhaps ever. People hate hearing that there might be something wrong with them. They say things like “Oh, I’m just being TRUE to MYSELF!” as if remaining an asshole was more important than all the things they profess they want.

    I ‘changed myself’ to become more assertive, confident, and successfully battled off depression that had plagued me since I was a kid, just by changing my behaviours and thinking, and I still have a long way to go before I’m the person I want to be.

    I can’t wait for your small talk hacks. I’m terrible in small talk situations, and more and more often at work I’m being thrust into the social role. My manager is always traveling, my supervisor laments social events, and the rest of my team has no interest. I’ve already become my manager’s mouthpiece for social events and some meetings.

    I really need to learn how to integrate myself into social groups and to pinpoint who I could/should talk to at them, especially when I don’t know anyone. My boss loves that he can rely on me to represent him, and has already gotten a lot of compliments about me from some very important people, and I want to continue to impress.

  79. Awesome! Looking forward to your posts in the next few weeks.

  80. Everyone wants to be loved for themselves; nobody asks what is “themselves,” or if they’re lovable.

  81. Love the video on the “I, I, I syndrome.” I have written down the script and adapted it to my own situation to use in my current job search….getting closer to my dream job!!! It is really helpful because even though I am making a transition to the other side of my current industry, and don’t have any actual sales experience, I feel I am getting inside the heads of the hiring manager and focusing on what I can tangibly offer them. It increases my confidence once I think about it and realize yeah, I am actually a very valuable candidate, not just some random girl with no experience.

  82. [...] the right man to come along who appreciates you for you, but Ramit Sethi will tell you the truth: you need to improve yourself. And probably ditch that sweater – it’s just not working for [...]

  83. Hi Ramit: The phrase that stood out to me was “I systematically improved myself mentally, physically, emotionally, and intellectually.” I’ve worked on the physical, intellectual and mentally portions of my life. How have you systematically improved your emotional state? Thanks!

  84. Thanks for the great video! I’m picking up a pen and notebook now, and I’m going a little further. I’ve been addicted to the productivity porn for a while – all the while knowing full well that I need to spend my time doing, not reading about how to do more. Going back to the basics today and using a simple written list.

  85. This is horrible advice! Figure out what this other person is looking for and then change yourself to try to meet it? Dude, WORST DATING ADVICE EVER. I’m a fan of the overall theme about improving yourself, but being someone you are not to try to impress someone is ghastly advice. It might work in the short-term, but it will only bring you pain in the long-term.

    Figure out who you are, be that person, be passionate about who you are, improve yourself, love yourself, and others will be drawn to you. Not some person you are trying to be, but YOU. And never, ever try to change yourself to make someone love you. Jeez. What stupid advice.

  86. This is totally logical advice and probably useless. Not that you aren’t “correct” in suggesting that the majority of people, especially young people, are myopic and solipsistic (and some other -ic thing probably). But in general, the impulse to focus on oneself and improve isn’t motivated or encouraged by trying to be attractive to someone else, even if they are awesome. That’s why people who are focusing on their own improvement and satisfaction are attractive- it’s not reflexive or needy. Love your site, though, and will be interested to see your dating advice for the future.

  87. That “Cracked” article you have as a link in this post about the Six Hard Truths was amazing!!! So much insight into why people don’t do anything and completely relates to your material. I’m going to start on something…ANYTHING right now to improve myself! Free salsa dancing classes on Monday and Wednesday at a local place near me. Going tonight and starting to learn a new skill right now!

  88. …”I’m a fan of the overall theme about improving yourself, but being someone you are not to try to impress someone is ghastly advice.”

    And this is an awfully limiting point of view. Improving yourself does not equal being someone you are not. It’s about making who you are better. It’s also not about impressing someone once. It is, however, about consistently *doing* the things that this person values, and doing those things well.

    You can impress people by learning to cook, for sure, but you can strengthen your relationship by regularly cooking meals and sharing the load of household duties with your significant other. Especially if you help them stay healthy by planning meals with more fresh fruits, vegetables and fish; lack of meal planning often leads to too many pizza and burger nights. It’s loving and nurturing, and some less altruistic benefits include having more of that person’s time to focus on you because your partner isn’t focused on urgent tasks / daily chores.

    You can impress people by working out to get a nice physique, but you strengthen your relationship when you work out together regularly and stay fit for each other. As a side benefit, you should reduce the number of times you have to hear “I feel flabby / scrawny / lazy / tired” and increase the amount of energy you BOTH have.

  89. Sometimes it is true that you can do better and that the other person was bad news for you. I found that bettering myself made me realize that I had invisible scripts limiting myself and attracting the worst relationships. I had to improve my mind in order to move on and not make the same mistake twice.

    Sometimes it’s us that is toxic and the Ex could do better than us. I also realized that my invisible scripts were filtering and controlling my behaviour in certain situations that were sabotaging us. It was through improving my mind I could start taking accountability for my thoughts, actions and judgements and therefore move on and never make those mistakes ever again, so I could never hurt anyone in my selfishness and insecurities ever again.

    It truly does work both ways and I’ve discovered that there are no victims in relationships even if the situation steers that direction. Someone had to have permission to make you feel that way or you make someone feel that way.

  90. Hey guys. I got a peculiar issue. There’s this position that I’d like to apply for. You’re basically a consultant in an organisation and they “rent” you out (sometimes). I have no problem with that, whatsoever. However, for whatever reason, I can’t seem to convince myself that I can do this job. My pulse quickens and I get this fight-or-flight thing when I think about doing this job. Not terribly good.

    It’s not that I’m not smart enough (I am) or there is something that’s preventing me from doing a good job (there’s nothing), but there’s this low-level anxiety. Has anyone else encountered this? How did you get around it?

  91. Hi everyone,

    Question #4 in Ramit’s survey is AWESOME. It’s, “What would you tell yourself as advice?” I’m sharing my answer below to give y’all ideas for great action-inspiring self-talk…

    Ah! I love it! Thanks for asking this question.

    Hi love, I know this feels new for you, but you’re actually already a pro. Remember how you were the #1 Salesperson out of 40 in the region three months out of eighteen and consistently made the top 5 or 10? Yeah, that was when you DIDN’T take care of your body, have great relationships, eat well, do anything passionate or exciting, etc etc. NOW you’re truly unstoppable. All you need is to tie these sales to new clients into the commissioned sales you did at Embarq. Here’s how:

    1. CLEARLY and EXACTLY define your offerings into something you feel truly good about all around, what you truly want to be doing and what will be extremely effective for your clients.

    2. Create an intention you feel amazing about one month at a time, just like at ___. Then track your PERCENTAGES- what percentage of the goal have you achieved? Remember that at ___, your quota was a moving target from month to month. They even changed it in the middle of the month! So you’re used to hustling to get there. Only now, you’re so much more prepared and way more aligned with what you’re selling. So track your sales and look at your percentages every single day, just like you used to. Strategize how to get to 100%, whatever you decide what 100% is. Make it a specific number and then focus on the percentage. This will help you take care of your money weirdness and just focus on the desired end result. And you’ll likely make way more than 100%! Remember, at ___ you sold way more of one thing if it was easy, and so you had like 500% sometimes of a given product. Do that here- look at what will be easy to sell this month, and sell tons of THAT one to reach your 100% income intention.

    3. Embrace the spirit of this whole thing as a GAME.

    4. Look at WHY you want to earn $10K. HOW will you spend it? On what? In what order? With whose guidance? Make sure you feel AWESOME about exactly how you will use the money as it flows in. And KNOW it will happen. Seriously, Sarah, you’re perfectly designed for what you’re doing. You can absolutely do this thing. Spend time with this list tomorrow and create your exact offerings, percentage targets and measuring system, fun ways to keep it a game, and WHY you want to earn the money and how you’ll handle it as it flows in. Woohoo! :D

  92. Wow. Wonderful article. I just read the whole thing to my fiance and you’re absolutely right.

    Now to do some brainstorming on how to make myself a better person to become the person I need to be to get the life I want.

  93. [...] ‘If he really liked me, he would call me!’ (First, look inside: Why do you deserve that top-tier guy or girl? Remember Lyfe Jennings: “Don’t be a nickel out here lookin’ for a dime.”) [...]

  94. [...] a blogger like me, on a date with someone you really like, getting interviewed for a job (as Ramit Sethi points out), or just plain talking to ANYONE you’d like to make a solid impression on, you should NEVER make [...]

  95. Holy god its like one giant sales copy.