Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Letters to a young man 23

Hello my friend.

I want to address your latest concern that you sent to me. You've approached a girl who made eyes at you, and then when talking to her, she seemed to clam up and get very serious, not saying much. This in turn made you feel nervous, and threw you off. It seems the whole thing disintegrated quickly. You ask me what you did wrong.

Listen, you did nothing wrong. So often it's not a matter of what you did wrong, or right. She no doubt became very nervous, most likely because she finds you attractive, and because she was probably surprised you actually came over to talk to her. Given her age, I'm guessing she's in her early twenties like you, she probably had a flood of hormones and emotions going on. Of course, perhaps you mis-interpreted her looking at you, but I say that you should trust your instincts, which gave you the impression that she was interested. Don't start second guessing yourself the next time an attractive girl gives you the eye.

You should be proud of yourself for taking action. Don't beat yourself up and ask yourself what you did wrong. If I have any advice for such situations it is to say very little, and when it seems that things have run their course, just introduce yourself, say it was nice to meet her and then leave. If she can pull it together enough to keep conversation going, hang around. If not, she's only going to continue feeling awkward, and so will you. Remember, you'd already made a joke which she giggled at but she was just too enamored of you to say much else. There's no point to hang around trying to make jokes, to tease her out of her awkward and shy place if she doesn't budge out of it quickly.

Conversation can't bloom if only one person is talking.

And remember, not everything has to happen right away. Consider this a first meeting. Maybe the next time you see her she will be less nervous and will have kicked herself for not making more of the opportunity. You sailed your ship to her harbor. That's just the first step.

There's a bit more on this in End Game. I hope you will find it useful.

Farewell for now, my friend.

My book on stoicism.