She only wants to be your friend when she thinks youre either too safe or too scary to make her feel trust and attraction

When you're disqualified from her game, you fall into the friend bucket. A woman is always looking for a reason to drop you into that bucket, because she wants to avoid the potential for pain that a new relationship presents. You're an element of disruption, of chaos in her otherwise orderly existence. You must always provide her with the excitement and attraction behaviors that keep her wanting to find out more, and willing to risk that pain.

Women and men can and should be friends, but you do not want to have an imbalance in your ratio. Men should have only a few female friends, and women should only have a few male friends. Just a couple of reasons for this are:

■ Having too many friends of the opposite sex is confusing to your gender identity. Very often, men will make himself a part of a woman's clique, and then discover he's losing his masculinity. He will start identifying with female issues too closely, and he ends up becoming the Nice Guy, too afraid to hurt a woman the way all those Bad Men do.

■ Having too many friends of the opposite sex removes the dynamic sexual tension you need to take action. You need a certain level of sexual tension in your life to drive you to date women. Very often, I see people of both sexes who lose their initiative to date because they can keep a safe level of unrequited tension in their opposite-sex friendships. They can play around with their male-female interactions, but it can never lead to sex or a relationship. (Also prevalent when straight women hang around gay men.)

ABB - Always Be Busy

Another one of my golden rules of meeting a woman is that the meeting itself should seem secondary to what you're doing in your life. If you're in a Starbuck's, waiting for her, she should not walk in and see you sitting there, watching the door, waiting on her. Her first impression should be you engrossed in a book, or taking notes, or talking on the phone. You see, your life has to already be interesting before she comes along, or she will smell neediness on you like skunk cologne. When you're doing something else, it says that you have interests other than her, and you won't be another needy/clingy wimp she has to shake off like a case of fleas.

If you're meeting her at a store or an indoor location, make sure it has something that you can occupy your time with. Make her have to get your attention, if possible. If you are meeting in a place that doesn't offer many alternate places to focus your attention, start a conversation with someone else. (If it's a woman, don't make it seem like you're hitting on her when your date arrives, just act friendly.) The general rule of thumb is that you always have at least a book or a magazine with you, and make it something that would be a great conversation starter. Don't sit there reading some true-life Navy Seals stories and expect her to find you alluring. Bring a People or a Newsweek.

Another part of the ABB rule is that the activities that you choose for your ongoing dates should be things you are already doing without a woman; you just happen to be asking her along for her company. This also demonstrates that you have a life, and you do not need her to have fun. (This approach is covered further ahead.) If you like rock climbing, ask her to come to your gym. If you're into kayaking, ask her to come along for a couple hours on the river.

First meeting

Let's start with the trickiest of questions, one that I'm sure most guys have thought about since seeing the movie "Swingers" for the first time. How long do you wait from the time you get her number until you call her?

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I've heard answers from two days to two weeks. Here is where some common sense and self-control will answer the question for you. When is too soon? The same day or even a day later is just too quick. You never want to appear desperate, and everyone has a different point of view on what length of time constitutes desperation.

My advice is that it is reasonable for you to wait three to seven days to call. I would amend this by saying that you never call on a weekend, from Friday through Sunday. You might call Sunday night, on the premise that you are trying to give her an opportunity to get with you before your "week fills right up," but you are unavailable from Friday night to late in the day on Sunday. You only leave one message, and don't call several times a day to check on her. (Her caller-ID will report you as a psycho stalker.) If she doesn't pick up, you call back once every two days to give her a chance. Ideally, you are getting so many phone numbers that you won't have time to hound one woman, right?

If you find that she will not return your calls, you have the option of what I call "taking it away" from her. You leave the following message:

"Hello, Sharon, it's Dave. I met you at_. You seem to be either screening your calls or you're playing hard to get. That's cute. I figured I'd call you one last time. I'm curious to get together with you for some coffee and see if you're really as delightful as I suspect you might be. Call me."

You're just giving her a little challenge to see if she's got any interest. Sometimes she might be away on vacation, or genuinely busy, so it pays to make it seem a little more urgent. However, this is the last time you call her.

What to say when you finally talk to her:

You call her and say: "Hello, Suzie, it's Dave. I met you at_. How are you doing?"

Shut up and let her talk for as long as she needs to. Listen to what she says for early indications of Red Flags. Then you want to get to the point and get off the phone.

RULE: Phone conversations do not increase a woman's attraction to you. Face-to-face conversations where she can see and hear and think about being touched by you are what you want. You're not telemarketing; you're looking for a personal sales meeting.

You say: "Well, I was intrigued by our conversation, and I thought we should get together. I'm going to the art festival this weekend, and I thought you might like to go along with me. I was thinking of going on either Saturday at 1:00 or 3:00. Which time would work for you?"

Shut up and let her talk for as long as she needs to. Listen to what she says. You've proposed the meeting, given her specifics on when and where, and given her two options of times or days. The first person to talk, as before, loses. She will either accept your meeting or counter-offer. Any other answer than a reschedule or acceptance means she is saying "No" as nicely as she can.

You may find that you have to do a little re-selling of yourself, depending on how you got her number and how much time has gone by. If you left a lasting impression, she might still be warm, but most prospects tend to cool off the longer the time you put between the introduction and the first call. Don't be dismayed if you hear a little distance or coolness in her voice. She just needs to hear a little reminder of why she gave you her number in the first place.

Never call a woman without having a firm idea of the what/where/when of a meeting with her. Be definite. Have a good plan for the date, and use some charged words to describe it to her. Make it sound interesting enough for her to take the risk of meeting you.

If she sounds like she's turning you down, you need to close the opportunity down.

You say: "Well, I'm sorry, I thought we had something in common. Tell you what, do you have a pen?" Let her get it. "Here's my number. If you think you're interested in a possibly wonderful time with a guy who can make you laugh, give me a call. Have a great week! Bye."

Now the ball is in her court. If you think she's just unsure, you can call her back in at least a week to try again. If you're collecting as many phone numbers as you ought to, you won't care. Remember, you don't have the time to waste on women who aren't interested in meeting you.

Show Her Without Telling Her

In fiction writing, there's a rule that says "show, don't tell." Never tell the reader that a character is unhappy; show it through their actions.

The same premise is true in relationships with women. Women do not hear your words, they see your actions. Most guys tend toward overwhelming her with compliments and praise, sending love notes and pledging their affections. In the dating dynamic, you must demonstrate your intentions, not broadcast them. Saying you love a woman is nowhere near as effective (or necessary) as showing it to her through your actions. Rather than whisper your feelings in her ear, show her. A back-rub is worth a dozen "I Love You"s. Consider the gestures that you can give, and especially those that do not involve spending a small fortune. A creative, generative man can come up with some pretty interesting gestures of affection. Things like:

■ A suggestive poem written on her mirror

■ An email with a mysterious and flirtatious story

■ A piece of chocolate left somewhere on her desk with no hint as to who gave it

■ A voicemail with a short, open-ended message ("What are you thinking about right now, as you hear my voice?" Click.) Mystery.

As always, these gestures should be extremely limited at the start, and used as maintenance later. They should not directly state your feelings or desires. Give her something to puzzle over for hours. She wants to wonder, so give her the gift of mystery. If she has come on stronger to you, and you're very sure of her interest level in you, then you can talk a little more about your interest in her, but always show it first.

Just Say No! (Women)

Women don't want to say no to you. I'm not talking about when you start pawing your hand down her jeans on the first date; for that, she'll gladly tell you No. What I'm talking about is when you ask her for her number, or for a date, and she comes up with answers that seem like she's just making it difficult.

Women don't want to hurt your feelings, and as a result, they do not say "No, I'd rather not go on a date with you." What they say instead is something like: "Well, gosh, I'd like to, but my aunt from Warsaw is coming in town. I'll be really busy making sausage with her." Then, the guy usually starts throwing out alternatives, or generally not getting the hint when she's not saying it to him directly. Sometimes a woman's refusal is just a playful resistance that you have to break down and get past. You need to realize that women are not going to be curt or abrasive; they want to let you down as nicely as they can. You have to be able to read between the lines and hear what she's really saying, or tell her what you think she's saying and see if she confesses. She doesn't want to feel bad, either, so she will say what she must to avoid this.

Close

If she accepts your offer, then you close with:

_ "Lisa, that sounds great." (Don't start saying wimpy stuff like "Oh, I'm so looking forward to seeing you again", blah blah blah.) "I'll see you at six on Wednesday at Borders Bookstore. Now, Lisa, you're not one of those girls who would set up a meeting and then back out, are you? One of my pet peeves is people who are late or flaky." Listen to her fall all over herself to tell you about how she'll be there, she's always on time, yadda yadda. What she's doing is selling herself on showing up, reinforcing it in her mind, as well as forcing her to live up to an identity you have helped her establish - a reliable person who will show up, on time. You've also made it clear what your expectations and standards are. That's self-confidence.

Most other men would change their opinions and their political party if they thought it would help them get somewhere.

Once you get her to agree on the time and place, get off the phone! Anything else you talk about now would only subtract value from the meeting you will have with her later. If you keep talking, you will only give her more information about you, and thus reduce the amount of mystery you will have. You want to give her more reason to see you rather than less.

What is the goal of this stage in your strategy? Right now, you are looking to answer a single question:

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