The Magic Players Guide to Dating
Writing this article has been really difficult. I’ve started it a few times before this, and I’ve never been happy with it. It’s really difficult to write this sort of thing without sounding incredibly disrespectful; both to men and to women. I THINK that I’ve managed to err on the side of caution for the most part, and I’m generally pretty happy with how it’s come out. Please, rest assured though, absolutely no disrespect has been in my intent in writing this.
To quote nuanced character actor Redman, in Academy Award snubbed ‘How High’; ‘How can I fail Women’s Studies? I love bitches!’
Yup, this is that article. I mentioned last time that I was considering writing a dating advice for Magic players article, and this is it. I’m pretty nervous about putting virtual pen to paper on this subject, because, as I’ve mentioned above, it’s incredibly difficult to come off not sounding disrespectful. I shall endeavour to ensure that you’re not overly disgusted with me by the end of this.
Here’s the thing: I’m writing this from a male perspective, and I’m going to assume that you’re male too. My apologies to my millions and millions of female readers, but this one isn’t for you. If you’re female, attending Magic tournaments frequently, and are having problems meeting the geek of your dreams, I’m afraid my advice isn’t tailored specifically to you. A lot of it is gender non-specific, but yeah, when I’m writing this, I’m assuming you’re a dude.
Movies are Lies
First things first, and this is probably the most important of all. You need to stop believing that you’re entitled to a girlfriend. Nobody is. TV and Movies have lied to you.
Pretty much all TV shows and movies are geared towards this principle. Look at pretty much any film and what do you see? An almost impossibly beautiful woman is inexplicably attracted to our leading man. This is incredibly damaging.
People watch these films, and think ‘This is how life should be. If I work hard at this one aspect of my life, the universe will reward me with a six-foot, blonde supermodel with neck down alopecia and no gag reflex’. Perhaps not directly, but sub-consciously men can start thinking that this is something that they deserve too.
In the movies, it doesn’t matter what the man looks like. He can be practically deformed like Ted Danson or Steve Buscemi. He can be a massively overweight slob like Seth Rogen or Jonah Hill. He can be a poison dwarf like Tom Cruise. It just doesn’t matter to the plot. So long as he completes the tasks he’s been set, he’ll get the girl. The woman, on the other hand will invariably be gorgeous.
Generally speaking, the plots of movies like this don’t care about any external factors. Existing relationships don’t matter whatsoever, and often are viewed as part of the catalyst for change, like the knights of stories ‘I’ll save the damsel in distress from the horrible Ogre, and then she’ll be mine’.
But, lucky for you, here I am, to try to help.
Its a Numbers Game
Attracting a potential partner is a numbers game. You want to make sure that you, as a person, appeal to as wide a range of people as possible. This isn’t to say that you should lie about yourself. Lying to people is moronic, as is pretending to be something that you’re not, but it’s important to not close any doors unnecessarily. For a great number of people, their options are already limited enough without deliberately sabotaging themselves.
Women aren’t a prize. You’re not owed one. If you’d like a girlfriend, you’ll need to work at it. What do I need to work on, I hear you say? Last week, I asked a question on Facebook. You can find it here. What this question asks is:
‘What is the least attractive thing in a potential partner?’
When I posted the question initially, I only included Smoking, as that’s my personal deal breaker, and allowed people to add answers as they saw fit.
Here are the top five non gender specific results:
2. Interest in Coldplay or Nickelback (awful music)
5. Heavy Drug Use
While it’s probable that the people who replied didn’t take this entirely seriously, certainly the top five are pretty close to what I expected. Special mention goes out to ‘Keyboard Turner’, with 3 votes. When someone put this up on the list, I had to confirm what they meant by it. For those not in the know, there are apparently two ways to turn a character in World of Warcraft, using the mouse, or the A and D keys on a keyboard. 3 People not only wanted their potential partner to play World of Warcraft, they wanted them to play it properly. Ambitious….
So, what can we deduce from this information?
- Well, clearly the first thing you should do is to stop smoking. Smoking is far and away the number one least attractive thing in a partner. I’d personally never date a smoker, and a lot of my friends are the same way. It’s a disgusting habit that shows a lack of will power and commitment to throwing money away, not to mention being incredibly bad for both the smoker and those around them with regularity. Stop smoking, and more people will like you.
- The second thing you should do is throw out your Coldplay and Nickelback albums. For those who’ve not looked at the question on Facebook, those are two that were mentioned specifically, and neither of them was by me. I don’t have a particularly strong opinion on Nickelback. I don’t think I know any of their songs to have formed an opinion either way, but apparently, I shouldn’t. Guilty pleasures are fine. I’m a pretty big fan of Chesney Hawkes classic song ‘I am the One and Only’, but I’m not going to pretend it’s actually a good song, wear a T-Shirt advertising that I like it or drive around listening to it at volume in my car.
- Thirdly, stop with the weird eating habits. My girlfriend is a vegetarian, and it’s an absolute nightmare. Just about every meal, we have to cook two separate things. I know that it might be important to you that animals aren’t hurt in the production of your food, and you might even think that it’s part of your identity, and that it’s something that defines you. If you’re a vegetarian, more power to you, I’m sure it’s incredibly hard, but be aware that a large number of people find it a turn-off. Personally, I’m almost entirely carnivorous, and while Kat’s vegetarianism is inconvenient, it’s in no way close to being a deal breaker for me.
- Fourth, I don’t really understand. I love fine wine and semi-soft cheeses, and didn’t really understand the vitriolic hate towards our French brothers and sisters. If these results are to be considered accurate, however, I guess you should stop riding a bicycle while wearing a black and white stripey jumper, while sporting a beret and a necklace of onions all the time. We don’t really get that in Scotland, but perhaps it’s more of a thing in places with a more Anglo-Francais heavy community.
- Finally, I’d recommend stopping, or at least reducing your recreational drug use. Presumably the fact that you’re an intelligent enough person to read my articles indicates that the extent of your regular drug use is nothing harder than Marijuana with anything approaching regularity. It makes you sit around, doing nothing, eat lots, and makes you happy doing so. Boring. Complacency isn’t an attractive quality, and Marijuana makes people complacent. Stop the drug use, some people hate it. Don’t act like it’s something that defines you. If you’re into anything harder, on a regular basis, seek counselling, if you’re interested in stopping. I’ve written before about my neighbours, who’re regular users of hard drugs. It’s not pretty, and by being with someone who’s also taking hard drugs regularly, you’re only going to encourage each other to do more and more, and that’s a really destructive pattern to be in.
Cleanse Thy Self!
Moving away from this now, I’d also recommend upping your standard of personal grooming. I’ve been to more than my fair share of Magic tournaments, and they’re a pretty interesting place, especially considering that a lot of people are attempting to use them as a place to meet a partner.
Grow a beard, if you want, but make sure it’s a) well maintained and b) suits you. If you’ve got a beard, you should actually be able to grow one. We see a lot of teenager’s first moustaches at Magic tournaments, and this should stop. Have a shave if you can’t grow it properly, and if you can, make sure that it suits you. Ask people, preferably your friends, or someone you can trust. Say ‘hey dude, does this beard make me look like I interfere with children?’ If they say yes, I’d shave it off. Some women like beards, and will encourage you to grow one. If you’re like me, you can grow a full, established beard from clean shaven in around two weeks. Cross that bridge if and when you come to it.
I can’t recommend deodorant and after-shave enough. I frequently carry a can with me to tournaments, as I don’t like smelling bad. I’d encourage you to do the same thing. Outside of medical conditions, there’s really no acceptable excuse for smelling like something’s died in/around/on you all the time. Shower, and wear deodorant, and people will want to be around you because you’re not bullying their noses.
Wear nicer clothes. I appreciate that you won that T-Shirt at the Legends of Kamigawa pre-release, but it’s not the most appropriate thing to wear to the pub after work, nor is it necessary to keep it unwashed since you won it. If you’re not confident with your sense of style, just wear the same, generic things that other guys are wearing. It’s really hard to go wrong with jeans, a button up shirt and sensible shoes. Pretty much the only variation on this I go with on this is a T-shirt. Shirts for smart, T’s for casual.
In fact do what a lot of tournament players do and get your MTG “Tournament T-Shirt” from Manaleak; add it towards your “tournament gear/ritual”. You can get them at less than cost price and you’ll also feel like you’re more part of the tournament experience as a result! You don’t want to attract women with your clothes and things, as that’s the wrong kind of woman, but you don’t want to put anyone off either!
Be Confident Within Yourself
Before you ever talk to a woman, you need to be confident. I cannot emphasise this enough, it’s the number one, most important thing. You must have at least a basic level of self awareness and self assuredness. If you’re not comfortable in your own skin, how can you expect other people to want to be around you?
I understand that that might be a pretty big step for some people, and of course it is. I’ve made fun of a lot of things while writing this column in the past, but absolutely the most frequent thing has been myself (Coldplay is second). This is because I’m comfortable, and confident in myself. It’s obviously not an instant process, and certainly not as simple as just saying ‘Hey, you, be confident’, but it’s a growing process of both understanding and accepting who you are, and knowing both your strengths and your weaknesses.
I wrote an article a couple of weeks ago about my weaknesses as a Magic player, and the areas that I needed to improve on. I don’t feel the need to do that for the non-Magical areas of my life, but perhaps you’d get some mileage out of writing a pros and cons list about yourself. To paraphrase Paul Heyman, former owner of ECW ‘Emphasise the positives, hide the negatives’.
If you’re seriously unable to find anything about yourself that gives you that level of confidence in yourself, find something that will. For a lot of people, that could be Magic. I used to, when I first re-started playing, be quite embarrassed about it. ‘It’s a kids game, with dragons and angels and stuff’ I thought, but as I got better, and it started being more important to me, I stopped caring so much, and was more open with my non-Magic playing friends about what it was that I was doing at the weekends.
It’s all in the spin, and how you present it. ‘What are you doing this weekend?’’ “Oh, I’m being flown out to Hawaii to play cards in the Pro Tour of Magic: The Gathering. Have you heard of it?’ People pick up on tone far more than the words you’re using. If you present something as being cool, fun, and worthwhile they’ll pick up on that. Conversely, if you act like you’re embarrassed about doing it, they’ll perceive it as something worthy of being embarrassed about, and treat it as such.
Having self confidence is all well and good, but you’ve got to actually put it to use. Being the best Magic player in the world is nice and all, but if you’re not ever playing, it’s no use to anyone. If you want a girlfriend, you’re going to have to talk to women. So many people over think this sort of thing, and ask themselves a ridiculous series of hypotheticals, purely to talk themselves out of doing something. You can’t do that, and still expect results. Nobody qualifies for the Pro Tour on their first attempt, and nobody goes out with every girl they speak to. You need to practice, and deal with disappointment like an adult.
As a disclaimer though, and this is something that I see from Magic players with an alarming frequency. Confidence without any ability is just arrogant idiocy. It’s important that you be yourself, and focus on things that you’re actually competent at, especially if you’re going to act like you’re good at them, or else you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Don’t act like you’re the best Magic player in the room when you’re clearly not even in the top half. The line between self-confidence and delusion is a fine one, my friends. Watch your step.
Where do you meet women?
If you want a girlfriend, you have, Have, HAVE to go to where the women are. I’ve never attempted to meet women at a Magic event, not ever. It’s just not where the available women that I’m interested in go. The reality is that the vast majority of female Magic players are there either with or because of their boyfriends. There are obviously exceptions to this, but I think we can all agree that this is true. Why would I want to hit on a girl who’s already got a boyfriend? It’s a huge can of worms to open, and, most importantly, if you’re knowingly hitting on a girl who has a boyfriend, you’re an asshole, pure and simple. Regardless of what your perception of the relationship is from the outside, if you hit on girls with boyfriends, you’re an asshole. You’re not the knight in shining armour, offering to save her from this horrible situation she’s in, you’re an asshole.
Where do you go to meet women? Anywhere that they are, quite simply. Pubs, libraries, clubs (night and otherwise), the internet, work, school or college, really, anywhere. Anywhere that you’re likely to meet someone with at least a few shared interests. The fact that I’m not advocating Magic events as a place to meet women should in no way be indicative that I think you shouldn’t mention it when talking to a woman. Magic is a huge part of my life, and I’m always going to be honest about how important it is with anyone, and I’d encourage you to do the same as well.
Time & Commitment
The fact is, there’s only so many hours in the day, and you can’t manufacture more. If you work for eight hours a day, travel for two, play Magic for four, sleep for eight hours, watch Breaking Bad and Mad Men for two, where do you expect to fit a girlfriend in? What’s going to give? You’ll need to ask yourself ‘What am I prepared to give up?’ If I assume that I HAVE to work, and that the travel is essential, and I can’t sleep any less, I’ve only really got the time that I’m partaking in my leisure activities of choice to cut back on.
Maybe you’re lucky, and your new girlfriend doesn’t mind that you play virtual cards on the internet for four hours a night, and all you have to do is stop watching TV, and talk to her then. More likely though, you’ll need to scale back the cards if you want to make any sort of meaningful commitment to a woman, and you need to be honest with both her and yourself if that’s something that you’re prepared to do or not.
So, you say, we’ve got quite far in now, and you’ve not actually given me any advice on how to talk to women. This is the part of the article that’s given me the most headaches. It is in no way my intention to come across as disrespectful, sleazy or crass when it comes to matters of the fairer sex, so please keep that in mind. Well, guess what? Now that you’re confident, showered, well(ish) dressed, you’re more than half way there.
How do I talk to “the girls”?
Presumably, you’re talking to someone that you know. I’m not assuming that you’re picking up strangers in Pubs and Clubs, because if you were, you’d probably not needed to have read this far. Keeping the attention of a stranger is far more difficult, and I’m assuming that you’re not trying to run before you can walk. Either you know your conversational partner, from University, Work, a shared interest or a friend’s introduced you. I have no intention of attempting to map out a conversation for you, as that helps absolutely no one, sounds contrived and would be an exercise in futility anyway.
Most importantly, be attentive to what they’re saying, and respond appropriately. A conversation isn’t a battle. It’s not a case of you saying something, her saying something completely different, and then you retorting with a third, different thing. Unless you’re just spouting off facts at each other, the conversation should be organic, rather than each of you just waiting on your turn to speak. Let them lead the conversation, ask questions and LISTEN intently! People like talking about things that they enjoy. Be interested in what they are interested in, and if you are not enjoying the conversation, change it, or end it politely.
While your radical, far right wing politics might be incredibly interesting to you, it’s unlikely that the girl you’ve just been introduced to is going to want to hear about your plan to reintroduce the death penalty, reduce the age of consent to 12, and increase mandatory minimum sentencing for first time offenders to 10-years. Keep to relatively light topics, that are unlikely to cause offence. Politics, religion and the nuances of the Caw-Blade mirror match should generally be avoided at first blush.
Do not make yourself the centre of the conversation. It’s fine to tie things back to your own personal experiences, where relevant, but don’t keep dragging it back to yourself. People are, as a whole, self centred, and will do this as a default, as it’s human nature to relate things to oneself. Women hate people who bleat on and on and on about themselves, so try to focus on something that interests both of you, and only return the conversation to yourself if it’s relevant. Nobody likes the guy that’s done everything you’ve done, but better. Don’t be that guy.
Add something to the conversation. Be it humour, an interesting perception or knowledge on the topic at hand. Nobody likes to talk to people who’re boring them. Listen to the conversation, engage the participants with witty banter, humorous points and say things that are interesting. Either you get this, or you don’t. If you’re not funny, either copy someone that you think is, or don’t try. It takes a very funny person to pull off an awful joke.
Perhaps you’re saying ‘I’m funny when I’m hanging out with my friends, but when I talk to women, I’m just not quick enough off the mark’. This is legitimate, and comes back to the confidence issue again. You’re nervous because you’re not experienced enough to have developed confidence in yourself around them. When you first met your friends, you probably weren’t funny either, but now you’re comfortable enough around them to crack jokes all the time. Also, you didn’t find yourself picturing them naked. Confidence comes with experience, so don’t beat yourself up about it.
“SIGNS of Desperation is the Biggest Turn Off”, Now repeat after me…
Try not to be fully invested in every conversation. Consider Mark from Peep Show (huge TV Show – Watch it if you haven’t already); who thinks every woman he interacts with is ‘The One’. If you don’t talk to every woman as if you’re desperate to marry her, have kids and grow old and die with her, you won’t smack of desperation, and there really is nothing less attractive in a man.
Don’t overanalyse every word that comes out of your mouth, or that she says, and you’ll be far less on edge. Being confident in what you’re saying, and not acting like the outcome of the conversation will define your entire future will make you far more attractive than the guys who’re hanging off her handing out compliments left, right and centre.
Once again, it’s important to walk the line between confidence and arrogance, and end up on the right side of it. There are very few things as unattractive as someone who spends all night banging on about how brilliant they are. Don’t be that guy.
But the secret is…
But do you know what the funniest thing is? What the most successful method of meeting AND having a relationship with that special someone really is?…
It is to simply stop “trying”.
Instead, focus on making yourself the best that you can be, be someone whom you can be proud of. I will gaurantee you that in doing so, you will create endless opportunities for yourself; not just in finding that someone special, but also within every other aspect in your life too.
The universe works in its own funny little ways, and you are its reasons for doing so.
Stay classy, mtgUK