How Does Approach Anxiety Feel to You?

by Eric Disco
Apr 27

One of my former clients talks about his approach anxiety:

“I’d been reading about how to do it for a while.

Finally one night I said to myself, all right, I’m going to go out tonight and I’m going to try to talk to girls.

I went out to this bar in my neighborhood. It was a Thursday night. A band was playing.

It was somewhat empty, maybe thirty people in the place.

I walked in and walked to the back to get a beer. That’s when I spotted this group of girls.

There were three of them, the only single women in the place.

My goal was just to open a conversation.

I was just going to go up to them and say ‘Hey, is this band any good?’ And then I’ll just go home after that.

I just couldn’t do it.

I stood there. And stood there. It felt like an hour passed.

Finally I just walked out of the bar.

As I was driving home I was so angry at myself that I was literally crying.

I thought, ‘Oh this is so fucking difficult, this is so fucking difficult. Why is this so difficult?’”

—–

This really hits home for me. This stuff isn’t about just banging a few girls. It’s a lot more than that.

What does approach anxiety feel like to you? How has it affected your life?

Answer in the comments below.

-----------------

posted in Initiative and Inhibition

COMMENTS
34 responses
blobbie says:

I can understand. I have been in the same situations and felt the same: angry at myself. I was wondering, how can I use this anger/energy for my goals. Couldn’t find a way even though I said to myself “This can’t go on. fuck it all”. Didn’t work. That made me realize that I have to do little steps and don’t just push through hard challenges with massive fear.
I do so now and I feel it’s getting better. I feel this strong fear much less but my AA comes disguised as all forms of excuses to not talk to the girl. Way to go.

ps. use alcohol just for fun, not for fighting AA!

Eric Disco says:

my AA comes disguised as all forms of excuses to not talk to the girl

I like that. Excuses are like a gremlin always popping up in unexpected ways, no matter how good you get at this stuff.

ps. use alcohol just for fun, not for fighting AA!

Agreed!

Eric

Chrys says:

Every time I go out with friends I am sure that I will talk to many girls , attract them and if not have a good conversation. We get out of the car, as we get closer to the place we want to go I feel my motivation and my confidence crashing in an iron wall unable to do anything. I think ok ok I feel a little anxiety , that doesn’t put me low after a little talking with my friends I will approach… The time passes I spot ice girls and I am. Thinking in a way to approach.. “hmm maybe indirect will leave less chance for failure” I start to find an indirect way to approach , excuses pop up like my brain is baking popcorn and in the end I don’t approach, I blame everything , my look , my friends that they are not good enough , not handsome and not able to give me motivation. Every single fucking time I leave the place with zero approaches and with my mind blank thinking one million excuses why I didn’t approach and the most populars ” I wasn’t motivated, it wasn’t my night , maybe an other time , an other place , with other friends , when I look more sexy , in a place with not so much people I might know” Now you can imagine how many they are when these are the most populars and if you felt it you know their power but you have to just be slightly more powerful than them. So fucking hard!!!!!

Eric Disco says:

Wow, amazing play-by-play of your thoughts and feelings. Whatever the outcome, you are in touch with your toughts and feelings. This is the first step.

Keep up the work out there,

Eric

JBarros says:

I honestly don’t believe in “approach anxiety.” Currently I don’t have it since I refocused AA into a feeling of being happy and the thirll to meet a new women.

Honestly, I don’t quite remember when I first had it and if ever did before. Although, I must say that once I joined the community and read about AA, it became far worse.

If the community actually told guys, that the reason they felt AA is because they were excited and happy to approach a girl. I guess it would be far more useful.

The mind is very powerful, when use wisely you can do pretty much whatever you want.

Thanks for the article.

Francis says:

JBarros this is an awesome way to look at AA! Can I ask, how did you convince yourself that this feeling is nothing more than happiness to meet the girl?

Daniel says:

I also think your thoughts are interesting. By focusing on just getting fun and meeting new people you take a huge responsability off your shoulders.
That may be one thing is holding me back, as i don’t approach for fear of being rejected instead of just trying to meet and know new open.

Moment says:

JBarros Even if you don’t suffer from it, it’s bit flippant to dismiss approach anxiety with “I don’t believe in it” – this is something that makes a huge number of otherwise successful, well-adjusted guys incredibly unhappy, even suicidal at times.

Having said that, I think reframing approach anxiety as happiness is a great solution, and I take it further, to reframe it as excitement! A couple of years ago I discovered before a series of 13 travel shots (of which I had a real phobia) that it was way easier to turn fear into excitement than into calm, because all the physical cues still match up; telling your body it’s feeling calm and relaxed just doesn’t match with sweaty palms and a racing heart!

I’ve used this for a number of things now and it alleviates the fear beautifully.

Francis says:

Moment this is great, I’m just curious how you convince yourself that your AA is excitement. Is there a mantra you repeat to yourself? Or do you just acknowledge you’re feeling real excitement here?

goga says:

I stand there and think “Now… I just sip another time from my beer and go… now… a sip more… and another cup…” and then it never happens.

Iceman says:

If only women better understood AA. Couple months ago I did a cold approach in a shop and she blew me off with the words “this is unusual!” and she stormed off. You just don’t understand! :)

Mark says:

This post brings back amusingly perverse memories of standing in corners of clubs with a drink in one hand and a sweaty pocket in the other. Hot girls seemed to exist in a parallel dimension which was completely oblivious of my existence. There was always this invisible wall between me and every girl in the bar and it was simply impossible to pass through it. Any attempt to move forward was immediately halted by the reality of this wall, so I’d go home.

But then one night something unusual happened. I had a fleeting thought that “I’m going to do this now!”. Then it felt like my body decided to move on its own, as a cold rush permeated my muscles, pushing me forward without my permission. When I reached this hot girl, I mumbled some things that she barely heard, then some things she misunderstood. Then I answered her question in a way that contradicted everything I just said. As approaches go, it was abysmal. As a story I told my friends, it was hilarious. But in the end, I never felt more alive. The only way to go is up.

Allegory says:

@Mark

I love your comment. Where are you now? Do you feel like the invisible wall is, for the most part, gone?

Mark says:

Thanks. For the most part yes. Now it’s just excitement, but like everyone, I have my bad days. The people that have the greatest fear in approaching in my experience are the ones that put far too great a value on looks vs personality. You are an attractive person to other people in your life, why not a “hot” girl? It’s just looks… what else does she have to offer?

Sometimes a really good blow-out with someone “hot” makes you realise there’s actually nothing special about them and may even put vanity into perspective. But one way to get over a lack of self-confidence, is to think back to any interaction that went well and ask yourself, “if I wasn’t confident and interesting, could I have approached her and held her attention?”. Of course not, so “I must be”.

The first group of girls I ever approached was interesting. Again, I was standing there for a long time thinking of how to do it. But I had already become a little more accustomed to approaching, so I thought “just do it”. My body just went for it and when I reached the 4 girls, I said something completely off the top of my head and they all looked at me and laughed at my comment. It was the greatest feeling in the world and made me feel invincible. Remember a good experience, use it!

Brent says:

I’m so sick of getting that feeling… it’s hard to describe… just a jolt of electricity when I make eye contact with a girl I find attractive. My heart rate increases, my eyes widen, and I can tell she’s getting ready for me to say something… then I just freeze up. I’m not sick of getting that feeling… I mean, I’m sick and tired of the freezing up part. I feel like I’m disappointing the girl as well as my self. I feel like I’m disappointing god and all of the universe! This happens almost every day. I just haven’t figured out what to do about it… I keep procrastinating. I don’t know why I have so much internal resistance happening.

Also, I decided to take a year off from drinking alcohol. I used to use booze as a social lubricant, but didn’t really work for me. I don’t want to have to rely on a crutch… that is weak. So I haven’t drank since New Years Eve and I want to figure out how to get past this “AA” for real, legitimately, without using booze.

SomeGuy says:

It is what I can only describe as a panic attack. If I’m in a bar/club and I start walking to approach a girl, my hearts start racing, then it becomes so loud I can’t hear the music. My palms start sweating, my mouth goes dry that I start coughing, my thoughts are racing…what is it that I should say? Oh right, something negative, is that a push or a pull? Do I start with a negative? What if it’s too harsh? This doesn’t feel genuine. Don’t forget about logistics, and be sure to include her friends in the conversation. And keep it short. And don’t fall into the ‘hot girl’ trap, she’s human like me. And don’t pay too much attention to her, wait, that doesn’t make sense, how can I approach her and not pay attention to her? Ok forget all that, just be me…wait, who is that?
Then I freeze. I physically can’t move. It’s harder to breathe, there are pains in my stomach then I break out into a cold sweat…I somehow turn myself around and slowly walk away.

I hate that feeling so much that I have stopped trying to approach girls; even just thinking about it gives me a panic attack. It’s been 6 years since I’ve had a girlfriend or even been on a date. I keep reading about how to approach, but there’s too much to remember. I keep hoping I’ll find something that will resonate and help me overcome my anxiety, until then I have accepted the fact that I will be single for the rest of my life.

vince says:

@SomeGuy

Man, I gonna reply to you after readying your response. I have ever officially “date” any chick in the past 25 years of my life. In fact, I was a super shy introvert guy. I thought I had so many flaws and because of that, I was super insecure. I think at August of last year, I had it with my inability to approach women so I made a commitment to myself I will do this even if I die trying… No joke.

When I got out to the mall by myself trying to approach, I felt as tho people at looking at me. I felt out of place, I felt stupid and want to go back home and play video/computer games all day. But I couldn’t allow myself and/or live with myself if I dont at least tried. I think the first approached I did was to an old lazy at a store looking at clothes. Hell, I was nervous but I just pushed it thru and asked that lazy for the time. With that, I was able to approach cute/hot girls some what consistently during the day. Dont give up! You are a man and you must fulfill your role as a man! Start small like I did and work your way up. I can do it, so can you!

MrAntiquity says:

@Someguy–

That’s where you can get really screwed up. Don’t worry about ‘remembering’ things–there’ are seemingly infinite opinions, many of them from guys who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

Basically there’s 4 things you need to know:

1. It’s ok to chat girls up
2. It’s ok to flirt with them.
3. It’s ok to be sexual.
4. If she’s not into it it doesn’t matter–this is about you, not her.

Secondly, just go slowly. Forget the ‘pickup’. COMPLETELY. Just try to interact. Use Lee/Eric’s advice

Stankwagon says:

Well, if you are having AA, you should use the three second rule. IF when you notice a group of people, you should approach them within three seconds or otherwise it will become awkward. This will keep you from feeling all sorts of feelings. Because if the three seconds passes and you do not approach you will have to find someone else. So that takes care of the “setting for an hour pondering if you should talk to those girls setting over there”. The best way i have thought of to do this is to walk past them like you are going to the rest room or anything, just a reason to get close, and then ” notice them” and ask a casual question. You dont have to say any more then that…if they seem receptive then you can continue with another planned question. The way i look at it is like an experiment. So if they take it negatively, i just say ” oh well the experiment didnt go as planned” not that they didnt like me. Also if they are negative, it doesnt mean anything, not even that they think you are ugly, because im sure that there are women out there that blow off good looking guys too!

Matt says:

After decades of rejection and abuse, it’s really tough to force yourself to go on.

I’ve also learned that I am totally worthless in bars, I just can’t do it. I’m ok in other environments that are quieter and I can employ my wit. That part I now do ok, I am just helpless at the escalation part.

I’m also almost always flying solo, I really wish I had folks to go out with. I know from past experience that I’m actually pretty good at building up someone I’m out with. So maybe that’s one solution to the approach anxiety, get someone else to break the ice.

MrAntiquity says:

Matt–if you can keep this up solo, the benefits will be more than you can imagine. Having other people is good for practice sometimes–but ultimately in the real world you’re going to meet a girl by yourself–not as part of a project, which is what ‘game’ kind of is.

Find your barriers (you said escalation) and work on that…in any case–that’s NOT something you’re generally going to do with a wing.

Zhelyazko says:

Matt I feel you should be the one to break the ice. At the end of the day it depends on why you do this. I do it to challenge myself and become a better person above all else. Finding a girl is sometimes a strong motivator, sometimes not. It is fickle. What really drives me is the desire to become less inhibited and more confident in myself for the sake of it.

What is your main motivator ?

Zhelyazko

MrAntiquity says:

No obvious sense of fear…anxiety…or anything like that for me. Not particularly concerned with rejection either. It’s more of a second personality saying ‘This is dangerous…you REALLY don’t want to do this.’

Why is it dangerous?

For me the fear is really about processing which steps to take–rather than anything to do with girls. I have the same negative feelings when I’m trying to undertake a large project that I have to commit to, and I can’t see the end of it.

That’s why I often stop myself from even starting–I’m terrified of reaching a position in the interaction where I’m confused as to where to go next. Sometimes I can push through–but it’s hard for me. That’s usually where I’ll pull back in escalation too–it’s like ‘If I kiss her, and she responds positively, I’m in the dominant role/driver’s seat–and being in the driver’s seat is DANGEROUS’

Zhelyazko says:

@MrAntiquity

Yes I get the same sensation in other areas of life as well, not only social interactions… Guess it has to do with uncertainty and fear of the unknown.

MrAntiquity says:

@zhel–

One thing I’ve started doing is–in approaching people–is try to experience myself as I”m talking to them. rather than just saying words, as in ‘how to I get from A to B’… try to feel myself connecting to the girl as I’m doing it. It’s damn hard…but I think it’s useful…

That helps get to the root of the social anxiety part of this whole thing.

Francis says:

Great post!

For me AA is no longer about the sweaty palms and pounding heart and weak knees. My AA manifests itself as a “what’s the point?” feeling or a sort of supposed disinterest in the women I want to meet making up some excuse that she looks boring or too serious for me to even bother.

I find now that when I actually DO make the approach there are no nerves just a feeling of awkwardness, inadequacy and dullness within me.

Not too sure how to beat this as I am still spending a lot of times out doing nothing at all

MrAntiquity says:

@Francis–

I can relate–to be honest I’d much, much rather deal with the nervousness. Nervousness I can handle. Resistance is much more of an issue. My recommendation is DON’T force it–but try to talk to the people actually want to talk to. If you’re resisting, examine why you’re resisting. It’s basically a reflex that you need to retrain. I’ve been doing this the past several months and it really has been helping…

Nock says:

I fear an interaction going well far more than I fear it going badly. To me, AA is more about fearing finding a girl I actually like.

I feel like I don’t have much in my life that I want to share, so if we actually get to a point of opening up about our lives, I feel ashamed that I have nothing to offer. Nothing really to be proud of. I have some hobbies and friends and an amazing family, but I haven’t overcome the bigger hurdles in my life. I feel that my “To Do” list is huge, but my “done” list is empty. I lack the courage to do the “to do’s”.

I feel like a drain on a relationship, a taker. I don’t want to subject people to that.

Mark says:

@Nock

This is a textbook case of extreme low self-esteem. I can relate, because I have gone through those same doubts myself. But the reality is, everyone has something amazing and unique to share. We are all complex human beings with flaws, including the girls you will date.

You are already mistaken about your claim, because I imagine your friends and family think you are worthy of their attention and respect. Why should a girlfriend think any different? Trust me, you have something to offer, always! Believing that you’re “subjecting” a girl to your life is the wrong attitude. Reframe the way you look at what you can offer.

Write down everything positive in your life, everything you have to offer, your skills, your contributions, your compassions and everything you’re thankful for. Turn them into affirmations and use them every day to turn your negative self-talk into positive affirmations. Any time you catch yourself thinking negatively, ignore it, turn it around and tell yourself you are awesome!

Belief in ones-self is the first step towards change. It gives you confidence, it gives you courage. It may take some time, but with diligence, I know you can reframe the way you see yourself. And when you believe you are worthy, other people will believe it too… including women.

MrAntiquity says:

Everyone has something to offer, Nock.

If you have hobbies and friends, you’re fine. I mean hell–I’d argue that a fairly high percentage of celebrities out there have nothing to offer.

Offer yourself–and try to take a few risks with the things that you’d like to explore but haven’t yet.

OldMan says:

I haven’t frequented bars in 30 years, but I recall the setting and I can see it would be tough. The noise, the competition, the mindset. I don’t see how anybody does it, but I know that for all the young dudes, bars are prime hunting grounds.

I go with what are prime hunting grounds for me, museums, subways, malls, the street. If I’m intentionally going out, I want a target rich environment. I go with the 3 second rule. That way I don’t have time to “think”. Just go up and say anything situational. Maybe two more sentences on anything situational then I give a slight compliment. If I get any IOI, and I mean anything, I go with “Can I tell you a secret?” If its a nod yes, I motion her to whisper in her ear. I expand the compliment, ask if I can give her a small kiss on the neck. It works about one out of a hundred times, but it’s about 1 minute from “first sighting” to knowing exactly where you stand. Plus its kinda fun, even the rejections. It’s a game!

I had to set numerical goals to get over AA. It wasn’t that hard really. I promised myself I’d do forced sets of 10 per outing until I felt comfortable, and it only took about 3 such outings.

I still feel some anxiety in that one or two seconds before I approach, but I know I’m going in, so I just move in. I look, I see, I want, I have a quick anxious thought, I move in, and it’s game on.

Because I only go to target rich environments, I make quick judgments to approach or move on. Sometimes I move on, then have regrets about someone I’d skipped.

Sometimes if I’ll see someone interesting while not on the prowl, and I’ll say to myself, well I’m tired, or I haven’t brushed my teeth this afternoon, or I’ve got a lot on my mind. Then later I’ll feel badly that I didn’t approach, but I know that sometimes I don’t feel up, and I don’t have to always have my game on, and I’m not superman, I’m just and OldMan, so it’s OK.

Lee says:

@OldMan

Respect to you from another old man. I love your ballsy approach. Blow me or blow me out. Who cares about the hit ratio. The name of the game is lowering the cost of approaching, upping the number of approaches, and swinging for the bleachers on each approach. Rock on, brother.

–Lee

Coif says:

Okay, I have no problem talking to women, but I foreclose on them, it’s kind of awful. What I mean is, I get frustrated because I can’t imagine what’s happening next and I tie up my own noose around my neck. I imagine that I talk to them using the Alexander method of acting, but it means I don’t let myself get lucky by being genuine and spontaneous–because I am acting. This kills me so much because I could’ve talked to these girls who so wanted to flirt with me and I just got really frustrated because I couldn’t imagine what to do because I couldn’t imagine what would happen next. It’s a control thing and it’s a catch-22. And the other girl, who was beautiful, I gave up on the interaction too early. Only a minute later did I realize her face was reading surprise and that I had fucked it up badly. I’ve got like 15 bad interactions under my belt now. I feel messed up and I hope that I can get over this, because right now I’m not letting myself get lucky by thinking I have to be deliberate and intellectual all the freaking time.

One other thing…I misinterpret everything as rejection no matter what, because I’m uncertain, so I force it into a square hole. Safe than sorry right? Except I feel like shit.

I had a girl rubbing her butt on me while talking to her friends tonight about dating and I got so angry because I couldn’t read her and I was afraid to be rude, but I couldn’t think of anything fun to say. What was really up, was I was horrified someone was interested in me. How messed up is that? There is no other way to put it. I could’ve gotten some tonight and I failed completely and miserably. And I was so desperate to get home and cry I fumbled another opportunity…except it wasn’t so bad because I had already given up I was able to talk to her, but I didn’t make any contact. It’s like somehow i keep women at arms length.

I imagine myself talking and it sounds all wrong, like I’m squeaky or something, and it’s like everything I say is wrong. But if I forget it and talk about a neutral topic that has nothing to do with anything, like her dog, I get on really easy.

Coif says:

I think another thing is, I feel like I’ll break someone just by being around them. That means isolating myself to a certain degree, keeping distance, not being rude. Etc.

LEAVE A COMMENT