Tag Archive | Reactivity

Bob and Angie, Part 1

One TGFM reader submitted this text conversation for us to analyze – let’s call him “Bob”. Bob met Angie at a bar where he got her number. This text conversation started a few hours following the number close. Bob does some things right and some things wrong, let’s take a look.

 Angie 2

Bob initiates the conversation with “Angie!”, the girl’s name. Bob correctly messages her the same night of the number close. You should text her a few hours following a number close in order to get your number in her phone while her memory of you is still fresh and emotional.

Bob shouldn’t have appended a “!” to her name – exclamation points always make your texts sound less powerful. Bob could’ve also done better than to write her name. He could’ve made a small reference to something they talked about so she’d remember him better. For instance, he could’ve texted something related to the dog story or just his name “Bob”.

In Bob’s next line, he starts by answering her question with his name. Bob was right to give his name out, but he should’ve acknowledged her slight faux pas for forgetting his name. He should’ve also shown reluctance to give out his name because he remembered hers and she didn’t his, which is evidence he’s lower status.  Texting “Goldfish memory? It’s Bob” would’ve done the job.

In the second half of Bob’s text, he wrote “remember I told you about my dog?”. It’s good Bob is bringing up a topic they’ve discussed before, but his execution could’ve improved. He could’ve sounded less reactive by atomizing his text to something like “remember dog story?”.


The Average Guy Opener (AGO) You Should Never Do

Example of a typical AGO from online dating sites:

From: Chillguysteve
To: SoccerGuurl87

Hi SoccerGuurl87, my name is Steve.

How’s your weekend going so far? I saw your profile and thought I would message you. You seem interesting and we have a lot in common. I love hiking, biking, beaches, music and movies. What are your hobbies? I’m really driven by my career and always love trying new things! I just moved to the city for a new job as a senior account manager for an internet company. I hope my message and profile catch your attention enough to hear back from you.

Have a great Monday :–)

– Steve

Girls will read your message like detectives. They’re looking for clues beyond your message’s literal interpretation so they can figure out who you really are. The #1 thing they’re detectives about is how interested you are because girls are attracted to hard-to-get men.

If you make her believe you’re very interested in her, you’ll be easy-to-get. If you show very little interest, you’ll be impossible-to-get. Your goal is to communicate the right level of interest that makes you hard-to-get.

Most guys fail to be hard-to-get by looking too interested. Steve’s AGO is great example of how the average guy fails to be hard-to-get by littering their messages with clues of interest. Here’s a breakdown and analysis of Steve’s AGO:



Your message makes its first appearance in the girl’s inbox. And the first thing she’ll read is probably your emboldened username. This is your first impression, which makes it a big deal. The girl will heavily weigh any clues about your interest level that she gathers from your username.

In the example above, Steve designates “Chillguysteve” as his first impression. Think about what would motivate Steve to choose a name like Chillguysteve? Why can we safely assume Steve doesn’t use “Chillguysteve” as his handle on any other non-dating site?

Steve saw his username as an opportunity to explicitly pitch himself as a “chill guy” (mind you, dating sites already have a designated area for pitching oneself). Unfortunately, “Chillguysteve” is weak evidence that Steve is “chill” – a word too vague to be good evidence of any specific attractive trait anyway.

With no hint of irony, sarcasm, or humor (i.e. personality) in his username, girls will subconsciously think Steve doesn’t think the normal character he plays in life imputes attractive traits. Girls intuitively know that a hard-to-get guy wouldn’t bother explicitly pitching his value. “Chillguysteve” communicates that Steve is normally easy-to-get with his love interests.


Hi SoccerGuurl87

The “Hi” is passable, but there’s no value in repeating her lame username “SoccerGuurl87”. In person, repeating her name may show you remembered it, or that you recognize her, or that you’re addressing her and not someone close by. But online, both her and your username unambiguously loom over the conversation, readily available for either of you to reference. As a general rule, putting in effort to produce low-information messages reveals your interest and mediocre social skills.

The AGO finishes off the greeting by proclaiming “my name is Steve”. At this stage in the interaction, there’s no need for the girl to know your real name. The girl will assume your high interest level caused you to disclose irrelevant information about yourself.

Small Talk Question

How’s your weekend going so far?

Steve segues from the greeting to a safe, small-talk-esque question. Other examples include:

  • “How are you today?”
  • “How is your evening?”
  • “Did you have a good day?”
  • “How are you?”
  • “Anything fun planned for the weekend?

Caring about her answer to these questions shows too much interest. Girl’s know that a hard-to-get guy wouldn’t bother learning about their plans or well-being – he’s not interested enough to care.

These questions are also cliche. They’re overused and have lost most of their meaning. Using cliches offers no clues that an interesting character is behind the keyboard. Up until this point in your message, any person or robot could’ve generated the same thing.

Explicit Explanation

I saw your profile and thought I would message you. You seem interesting and we have a lot in common.

Steve designed the next line to explicitly explain why he’s messaging the girl. Hard-to-get guys know they’re communicating enough interest by the fact that they’re messaging her. Any more explanation beyond that is redundant and signals too much interest.

Explicitly explaining your intention also makes you reek of insecurity. It shows you feel you need to justify your actions or that you’re worried she won’t understand why you messaged her. You’ll lose your hard-to-get perception the moment she gets a whiff of your insecurity.

More examples of AGO’s Explicit Explanation lines:

  • “I saw your profile and thought I would message you.”
  • “It seems like we complement each other very well and are looking for similar things in a significant other.”
  • “It is hard to find quality people on here and you seem like you have your act together, so I thought I would give it a shot.”
  • “You seem fun and really cute.”
  • “You sound smart, sweet, sincere, and you’re so pretty!
  • “You seem like such a genuine nice person.”
  • “I think you’re super cute and you seem like you might be cool.”
  • “I just read and really enjoyed your profile and very interested Also you are looking amazing and very beautiful.”

It’s actually good to express why you’re interested in a girl, but you should do it using subtext.

Example 1:

Explicit — “I saw you’re from the same small town as I am and thought I would message you”

Subtexted — “Whoa, you’re the first I’ve seen also from [name of town]”

In the subtext version, the will infer that being from the same small town is part of why you messaged her. She doesn’t need to be spoon-fed the obvious.

Example 2:

She wrote in her profile that she loves to cook and finds it attractive when guys fix things with their hands. In your profile, you write that you’re a huge foodie.

Explicit — “It seems like we complement each other very well and are looking for similar things in a significant other.”

Subtexted — “I can fix cars and you can cook, I think we’re meant to be”


I love hiking, biking, beaches, music and movies. What are your hobbies? I’m really driven by my career and always love trying new things! I just moved to the city for a new job as a senior account manager for an internet company.

In the next few lines, Steve writes a self-summary that should’ve been in its designated area on his profile page. If this information is already accessible from your profile, you’re basically telling the girl you don’t think she’ll visit and read your page.

Normally, a hard-to-get guy would just assume the girl would read his profile. Or he’d be too indifferent to care whether she read it or not. That’s why shoving your self-summary in your message is a good sign you’re not a hard-to-get guy.

Closing Statement

I hope my message and profile catch your attention enough to hear back from you. 

The closing statement is designed to explicitly communicate the next steps. Steve’s closing statement, wordy and tucked underneath a mound of words, comes off as a meager and apologetic attempt at escalating the relationship. Other examples of AGO closing statements:

  • “Looking forward to hear from you”
  • “Please check out my profile and let me know if you like what you see :-)”
  • “By any chance would you like to grab some coffee some time?”

These closing statements give girls many clues that you don’t feel you deserve your request to be fulfilled. The girl interprets the mound of cliches and redundant info above the closing statement as a try-hard attempt to justify your request. She knows you don’t derive intrinsic value from writing the BS word cloud above. She knows exactly why you wrote it and that reason is explicitly defined in the closing statement. Your revealed intentions render the rest of your message’s content as an embarrassingly effortful and indirect ploy to fulfill a single goal. This signals your insecurity and feelings of unworthiness.

The closing statement doesn’t make you easy-to-get, it makes you already-gotten. The girl doesn’t have to work at all to win you over, you’ve already pre-approved her. Girls who will fulfill the closing statement’s request will probably be at the bottom 15% of girls in your league.


Have a great Monday :–)

Like the greeting, this is another low-information cliche that doesn’t offer any value or say anything interesting about your character. A salutation is even worse than a greeting because even some unattractive guys know it’s inappropriate in an online dating message.


– Steve

Like the greeting and salutation, signatures show you’re too interested because it’s redundant and useless information. But signatures do double the damage. They’re a good sign you’re clueless about messaging girls you’re gaming. It also signals you may not be familiar with informal text communication in general. Do you even have friends?


Your social status, or just “status”, is your perceived power to get what you want. It’s the shared belief that others have about your power, and that you have about your own power.

Since powerful people can get what they want, you have everything to gain as their ally and everything to lose as their enemy. A powerful person could, on a whim, provide you with a world of opportunity and pleasure or cause you endless pain or suffering. And your genetic future is at the mercy of powerful people. A powerful person could kill you or protect you from premature death, provide you with genetically fit children or force you into celibacy.

On the other hand, powerless people can’t affect your wellbeing or your genetic future much. The power you perceive people to have, i.e. status, determines how you react to them. Your emotions, thoughts and behaviors in reaction to status were designed to maximize your genetic fitness.

Your actual power doesn’t cause people to react differently toward you; only your perceived power does – i.e. your status. If you can manipulate people’s perception of your power – by definition, manipulate your status – then you control how people feel and behave toward you.

Honing your status-manipulation skill requires paying close attention to your status signals – the perceivable clues that others use to determine your status. You need to become a detective, noticing subtle status signals that can change other people’s perception of your power.

Your passive status signals are the ones people can observe without interacting with you: clothes, ethnicity, body language, possessions, interactions with others, physical attractiveness, strength, location, hairstyle, age, etc. You want to manipulate your passive status signals to communicate the status you want, but it’s not easy. Some passive status signals are hard to get, like a nice car. Some are culture-specific, like clothes. And some can’t be changed at all, like height. It’s usually more feasible to manipulate your interactive status signals, the ones people observe when they interact with you.

When people interact with you, the juiciest status signals come from your reactivity. Reactivity is the psychological mechanism that evaluates each stimulus for its potential to impact your genetic future, and then decides how much attention to pay it.

When you were first learning to drive, you were probably anxious and hyper-vigilant, i.e. reactive. As you improved, driving became automatic, freeing up your attention to daydream or listen to music. You don’t feel like driving is risky to your genetic fitness anymore, so when you drive, you’re not reactive. Only an unusually interesting stimulus can get your attention: a swerving car, a tailgater, a broken traffic light, an attractive driver in another car, etc.

It’s natural to be reactive when you interact with high status people. Being reactive to something means you’ve psychologically classified it as having a high potential impact on your genetic future, so you visibly care about it. The higher the status, the more you react. The lower the status, the less you react – or maybe you don’t react at all.

Normally, status determines reactivity. But if you’re one of the few people who understands the link from status to reactivity, you can actually run it backwards: By contriving to act with the right amount of reactivity, you can manipulate your status.

Here are reactive behaviors that communicate your higher or lower status in an interaction.

Higher Status

  • Fixed eye contact
  • Extending limbs, taking up a lot of space
  • Exposing vulnerable body parts: throat, abdomen and groin
  • Succinct and monotone speech
  • Disclosing little information
  • Comfortable and relaxed body language
  • Emotionally and physically composed
  • Indifferent attitude
  • Long pauses in speech
  • Ignoring questions or requests
  • Interrupting
  • Breaking rapport
  • Still body positions
  • Slow movements

Lower Status

  • Obeying demands
  • Passive (aggressive) language
  • Defensive in disagreements
  • Contorting body to take up little space
  • Speaking verbosely or mostly silent
  • Darting eyes
  • Disclosing a lot of information
  • Overly loud or quiet voice
  • Apologizing
  • Indirect questioning
  • Losing composure, or tries to
  • Avoiding confrontational subjects
  • Trying to impress
  • Showing emotion
  • Asking for forgiveness
  • Accommodating
  • Repeating movements like wringing hands or bouncing legs
  • Stuttering
  • Frequent short pauses when speaking
  • Fidgeting
  • Engaged in conversation
  • Showing symptoms of anxiety

When you feel unreactive in an interaction, your brain is saying, “this person isn’t interesting or important; use the least amount of energy needed”. Your behaviors then have the characteristic signs of high status: they’re low-effort, comfortable, lazy.

Conversely, when you feel reactive in an interaction, your brain is saying, “this person is interesting and important; give them your undivided attention”. Your behaviors will have the characteristic signs of low status: anxiety, discomfort, excitement, eagerness, anger, curiosity.

People are natural status detectives. Subconsciously, they process your status signals to evaluate your status. Consciously, they can feel an intuition about your status, but they’re usually not aware that any evaluation process ever took place. When you interact with someone whose conscious mind is absorbed in the content of your conversation, their subconscious mind will be keenly monitoring you for signs of reactivity and other status signals.

In the ancestral environment, it wouldn’t pay to contrive your level of reactivity to manipulate your status level. If you raised your status level above your actual power to get what you want, you’d motivate someone else to raise their own status by overpowering you in a fight.

The consequences of status manipulation in modern society are infinitely milder than they were in ancient times. If you get caught padding your resume or pretending to own a Porsche, you won’t get beaten to death. But human psychology is a relic from ancient times. When someone’s ancient brain evaluates your status, it doesn’t account for the modern possibility that your unreactive behavior may be contrived. That’s a bug in the human software which our modern environment has exposed, and which evolution hasn’t patched yet. If you learn to exploit the brain’s software bugs, you can plant in anyone’s mind an intuitive sense that you’re a powerful person.

This blog will teach you to use status and reactivity concepts to analyze your text conversations and figure out how to make your conversation partner perceive you as attractive. Most of the advice on this blog is based on the premise that women are attracted to men higher status than themselves – men who give them an intuitive sense that they have much to gain from allying. But some of the advice is also about strategically lowering your status. There’s an art to status gaming. It’s all about when and how to change your status level to get the results you want.