By David Ingber
“I haven’t had sex since Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean.”
“All my female friends see me as a brother. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”
“I spend nights in bed, just lying there, terrified of the thought of approaching someone.”
Not being able to talk to women is stigmatized in a way that, say, not understanding Middle Eastern politics is not. But when Chris Luna, the founder of Craft of Charisma, which offers workshops such as “How to Kiss a Girl,” asks the attendees to introduce themselves, they really open up.
Now, perhaps I hang out with too many Brooklyn hipsters, but when I first read the seminar’s title, I thought it would be the sort of thing you “go to ironically.” I pictured a room filled with people-watchers and snarky tweeters. Nope.
The guys (about 20 in all) are genuinely interested in learning something. Most are 25 to 35 years old, with a few college- and retirement-age gents mixed in. They hail from Russia, Germany, China, Egypt, New Jersey. At least 80 percent of them say they work as engineers.
Some have bad posture. Others make eye contact way too intensely. A few sport flip-flops and/or unkempt ponytails. Overall, though, these are not un-dateable hell-hounds.
After a bit of observation, I note their shared characteristic: they try too hard. They try to introduce themselves properly, rather than just saying hey. They try to pick out the perfect dating outfit, rather than just wearing clothes that make them feel good about themselves.
Our fearless leader Chris, meanwhile, looks a guy who doesn’t need to be charming in order to attract women. My first thought upon seeing him is that he easily could have been a member of 98 Degrees. (But not *NSync, which is an important distinction.) I learn Chris founded the Craft of Charisma five years ago, and has been running it full-time for four and a half years.
He has four full-time employees, all of whom have completed his $4,000 “master class.”
As I wonder what qualifies Chris to give dating advice, he tells me that I “look like a socially savvy person.” Not gonna lie, I turn to putty a little bit. Touche, Dear Abs-y.
According to Chris, however, Zoolanderian chiseledness has virtually nothing to do with attracting a woman. He even talks of the time he “fell out of shape a few years ago,” but still did quite well with the ladies. He scrolls through his phone to find a picture. He never finds the picture. The lesson marches onward.
“Attractiveness is about perceived value,” Chris says throughout the class. “It’s about putting yourself in a position where she sees you as a valuable commodity.”
I later learn the context supporting his chosen verbiage: Chris was an economics major at Columbia. To him, dating shares many traits with a successful financial transaction. If you walk up to a woman confidently, she sees your value. If you then take a step back, you decrease supply. Which only increases demand.
“But,” Chris laughs, “You can’t take your product off the market entirely.”
Exactly. It’s why so many women want to date the McRib.
After his opening remarks, Chris shows us a flow chart:
Stranger → Acquaintance → Friend → Intimate → Sexual
The big question: how do you move from one category to the next?
“It’s all about prolonged physical contact,” Chris tells us.
This tidbit, like many from the seminar, rings true anecdotally. I recall meeting a buddy’s new girlfriend. She blew past my handshake, opting instead for an enveloping hug. I thought, “Wow! I guess we’re friends already.” Without even saying hello, she had jumped two steps on the chart.
Chris then invites the attendees to stand up and practice the delicate art of entering, and then backing away from, a woman’s personal space. A handshake affords you maybe three seconds of closeness before she feels invaded.
But if you find a reason to be close to her – perhaps you want to get a better look at her earrings – you buy yourself a bit of time. The longer your hand lingers on, say, her shoulder, the easier time you’ll have the next time you want to touch her more intimately.
Bear in mind, we are practicing these lingering, romantic caresses on each other. My partner is a smiley management consultant we’ll call Angus. Through every exercise, he is giggling and commenting on how ridiculous he feels. Spoiler alert: we got to second base.
Once we’ve mastered the slightly-longer-than-usual handshake, combined with a respectful-yet-firm Shoulder Touch, Chris demonstrates a more advanced move: letting go of the handshake, while simultaneously sliding your left hand from her right shoulder down her arm (“Which excites her nerve endings!” according to Chris) into a seamless hand-hold.
And you do all of this while taking a nonchalant step backward so you’re no longer in her personal space. We’re just a couple of buddies now! Look at our hands, swinging carefreely down there!
“But what if she pulls away?” asks a Russian gentleman we’ll call Pedro. “What if she’s horrified?”
“It’s a woman’s prerogative to break her own rules,” Chris responds, eliciting a few huh‘s and mmm‘s from the class.
Chris shares his story of a time when a girl pulled away as he went for a kiss. Undeterred, Chris simply told her, “Look, if you keep hanging out with me, I’m going to try that again.” She kept hanging out with him. And eventually he got that kiss.
(It’s a compelling tale, sure, but your cynical, still-putty-kneed columnist believes the girl who even fleetingly rejected Chris lives in the same fictional realm as the iPhone that allegedly contains a photo of Fat Chris.)
Chris continues: Navigating the dating world is about accessing an elaborate Decision Tree. Again, he’s an Ivy League econ major.
If she’s receptive to your first move (“Look for relaxed shoulders”), touch her hair or earrings, while providing a validating compliment.
If she isn’t receptive (“Look for tension in the shoulders”), give her space, using a move known as the Roll-Off. Continue chatting from a less imposing position until you sense another opportunity to make physical contact.
The day ends with a former student providing a chillingly honest endorsement of the impact these classes have had on him. Chris also explains why he does this.
“The biggest problem that most people have is that they let their fears control them,” Chris says. “It keeps them from going after what they really want.”
Maybe a by-the-numbers technical approach to dating is exactly what these engineers need. Or perhaps these classes are less about the syllabus, and more about simply providing a training ground for guys to build up their confidence.
Either way, the next time you’re approached at a bar, remember that this guy might be going through every insecurity you have and then some. He might be summoning every ounce of courage he can muster, while rejecting every terrifying doubt in his mind, just for the chance to buy you a drink.
And if you’re the one doing the approaching, keep fighting the good fight. “Never was anything great achieved without danger,” Macchiavelli has said. That dude knew his economics.
See original article: Cosmo Attends Class on How to Kiss a Girl