Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On Being Popular

Back in college, for a year and a half, I ended up being the manager of a house full of girls. Sometimes there were 11, sometimes 12. I lived in a studio apartment attached to the house.

I noticed some very interesting things. One is that two of the girls, who were friendly to guys, including smiling at them and initiating conservations with them, were very popular with men. Other girls in the house sat there like lumps and expected guys to always approach them. They were not popular.

All the girls were attractive – some more than others, of course, -- but looks weren’t the determining factor.

Once Thursday night I was in one girl’s room, just talking to her. I have no idea why I said this, until it was some sort of intuitive thing – and I get those a lot – I asked her, “So how many guys asked you out this weekend?”

She told me, “Seven.”

I was so caught by surprise I had no idea what to say. After a few seconds I asked, “So which one are you going to go out with?” and she answered, “The one I like the best.”

Two of the girls who never smiled at guys or initiated conservations with them, each had one date in the year-and-a-half I was there.

Some girls I know have told me other women have asked them, “Why are you so popular? Why do so many guys ask you out?” And they have always told them the same thing: I smile at them, I initiate conversations with them.

Some years later, when I looked back, I also realized body language had something to do with it. The more popular girls looked more approachable (after all, a smile is often an invitation to approach) and the unpopular ones did not look approachable at all. There are flirting signals, and I’ve never seen an unpopular girl use them. The popular ones used them all the time.

I didn’t learn that much in college, not from the classes. But I certainly learned a lot about people.

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