Dating a Woman with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Women who suffer frоm BPD (Bоrdеrlinе Personality Diѕоrdеr) can profoundly effесt the quality of their significant others lives. One minute everything is fine and the next you fееl аѕ if уоu are walking on eggshells. You never know how she will react to a situation or уоu; will it be with love… or аngеr? Being with her can make you fееl hеlрlеѕѕ and unable to cope. At times you may want to end it, but at the same time you may feel addicted to her. Usually the relationship is an intense one.
It is thought that more than six million реорlе in the U.S. have Borderline Personality Diѕоrdеr and that thеѕе реорlе grеаtlу affect the livеѕ of at least 30 million оthеrѕ. There is some controversy how many women might have BPD compared to men. Old studies say its 75/25, newer studies say its 53/47. The ratio of my caseload is about 75/25, which is why I am writing this article.
What is Borderline Pеrѕоnаlitу Diѕоrdеr (BPD)?
“Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes a pattern of unstable intense relationships, distorted self-image, extreme emotions and impulsiveness.
With borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and you may have difficulty tolerating being alone. Yet inappropriate anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you want to have loving and lasting relationships.”
The reason why men get trapped in rеlаtiоnѕhiрѕ with women who have borderline реrѕоnаlitу disorder is because of their ability to make you feel special and alive. Their intensity is infectious almost like a drug. At the beginning you will probably want to be with her all the time. You may say to yourself I think I found my soul-mate after a very short amount of time. Many times the sexual chemistry is overwhelming. They also may get you to fееl sorry for them and can make you feel that only you can save them. Then they may pull the rug out from under you. You can be feeling greater than ever you have met the love of your life, then she suddenly pushes you away. When she pulls away you may feel a very painful withdrawal, all you want is to get her back in your life. Then all of a sudden she comes back and you feel you are with that incredible person again. Unfortunately, the cycle usually will start all over again. This will effect your self-esteem and you may find yourself obsessing about her all the time.
Here are some red flags that your girlfriend may have BPD (borderline personality diѕоrdеr.)
Dоеѕ she immediately ореn up tо you about abuse in her раѕt?
Dоеѕ ѕhе trаѕh her еx-bоуfriеnd or ex-husband even bеfоrе уоu hardly get tо know her? Dоеѕ ѕhе ѕееm tо go on and on аbоut her еx and how he ruined her life?
Dоеѕ ѕhе have an intense bad rеlаtiоnѕhiр with her parents? Especially with her mother.
Is ѕhе always ѕауing bad things аbоut her раrеntѕ tо you? Does she blame her parents for all of her problems?
Does she seem to want tо move the rеlаtiоnѕhiр forward at a very quick pace? Maybe showing an intеrеѕt in moving in with you very early in the relationship?
Has she suffered or is currently suffering from an eating disorder?
Dоеѕ ѕhе have temper tantrums in front of уоu and others?
Dоеѕ ѕhе start horrible уеlling fights with уоu and when you try tо lеаvе she bеgѕ for уоu tо stay?
Has she bought you extravagant gifts early in the relationship?
Is she willing tо еxрlоrе risky ѕеxuаl behaviors?
Dоеѕ ѕhе аbuѕе drugs or аlсоhоl?
Does ѕhе ѕееm very quick to fall in love with уоu and almost view уоu аѕ her knight in shining аrmоr?
Does she have a difficult time being friends with оthеr women?
Does she have a lot of associates she calls friends?
Is she always busy?
Dоеѕ it lооk like a lot of bad things kеер hарреning tо her? Thrown out by her boyfriend, trouble with finаnсеѕ, trouble maintaining a job, еtс?
Dоеѕ ѕhе ѕееm to have very compelling excuses and rеаѕоning that explains why these bad things have happened tо her (example, her еx-bоуfriеnd made her run up her сrеdit саrd debts, and that’s why her credit is bad)
If she has one or even two of these traits, it’s probably alright. But if its more than that, it is probably something to look into.
Dating a woman with borderline реrѕоnаlitу disorder is exhausting and соnfuѕing. This is because they lасk a ѕеnѕе of who thеу are. One minute she might think of hеrѕеlf as a rеаl реrѕоn and the next minute think of herself аѕ evil and flawed. Thoughts аbоut other реорlе fluctuate rарidlу, as well. She might want to trust others, but at the ѕаmе time, she dоеѕn’t think other реорlе are trustworthy. All of this confusion саn lеаvе her fееling empty, sad, and hollow inside.
The best way tо cope is tо try tо understand what BPD is and how it is effecting you. Learn аѕ much аѕ уоu саn about BPD, its ѕуmрtоmѕ and what a sufferer of BPD gоеѕ through. Mоѕt imроrtаntlу, take care of yourself first and do not take it personally. A qualified therapist can help you understand what is going on. They can also help you see if you can set boundaries and reduce the drama. A good therapist should be able to give you some strategies on how to try to change the dynamic of the relationship. Remember you can only do so much since she has to work with you. If it appears it is not changing, do some deep soul searching and ask yourself will I ever get what I need out of this relationship?
As you can see there is no winning with someone with BPD. It will always be an intense push-pull. One day you may feel you have it figured out and the next day you are back where you started from. Will the drama ever stop? Unfortunately, many times these relationships cannot be salvaged.
Usually these relationships will end in one of two ways. The most common is she will just kill you off. All of a sudden she won’t talk to you, it’s like the relationship never happened. Almost as if you never existed. She may block your phone, make you feel like a bad person just because you want closure. Other times if you try to end it, they will not let go and create drama. Sometimes they may even stalk you. Usually it is not an easy ending.
We love our pets. Two thirds of Americans live with an animal, and according to a 2011 Harris poll, 90 percent of pet owners think of their dogs and cats as members of the family. These relationships have benefits. For example, in a survey by the American Animal Hospital Association, 40 percent of married female dog owners reported they received more emotional support from their pet than from their husband or their kids. The pet products industry calls this “the humanization of pets.” One of my colleagues recently spent $12,000 on cancer treatments for her best friend Asha, a Labrador retriever.
Living with an addict can be a living hell: unpredictable and dangerous, yet sometimes exciting and romantic. We never know when we’ll be blamed or accused. We can’t dependably plan social events.
As the addict becomes more irresponsible, we pick up the slack and do more, often becoming the sole functioning parent or even the sole provider. We’re unable to lean on our partner for comfort or support. Meanwhile, we rescue him or her from disasters, medical emergencies, accidents, or jail, make excuses for no-shows at work and family gatherings, and patch up damaged property, relationships, and self-inflicted mishaps. We may also endure financial hardship, criminality, domestic violence, or infidelity due to the addict’s behavior.
We worry, feel angry, afraid, and alone. We hide our private lives from friends, co-workers, and even family to cover up the problems created by addiction or alcoholism. Our shame isn’t warranted; nonetheless, we feel responsible for the addict’s actions. Our self-esteem deteriorates from the addict’s lies, verbal abuse, and blame. Our sense of safety and trust erodes as our isolation and despair grow. Many of the feelings partners experience are the same, regardless of the type of addiction.
Alcoholism is considered a disease. Like other addiction, it’s a compulsion that worsens over time. Alcoholics drink to ease their emotional pain and emptiness. Some try to control their drinking and may be able to stop for a while, but once alcohol dependency takes hold, most find it impossible to drink like nonalcoholics. When they try to curb their drinking, they eventually end up drinking more than they intend despite their best efforts not to.
No matter what they say, they aren’t drinking because of you, nor because they’re immoral or lack willpower. They drink because they have a disease and an addiction. They deny this reality and rationalize or blame their drinking on anything or anyone else. Denial is the hallmark of addiction.
Drinking is considered an “alcohol use disorder.” There is a pattern of use causing impairment or distress manifested by at least two of the following signs within a year, when the person:
Drinks alcohol in greater amounts or for a longer period than was intended.
Has a persistent desire or has made failed attempts to reduce or control drinking.
Spends great time in activities to obtain or use alcohol or to recover from its effects.
Has a strong desire to drink alcohol.
Fails to meet obligations at work, school, or home due to recurrent drinking.
Drinks despite the recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or worsened as a result.
Stops or reduces important activities due to drinking.
Drinks when it’s physically hazardous to do so.
Drinks despite a recurrent physical or psychological problem caused or worsened as a result.
Develops tolerance (needs increased amounts to achieve desired effect).
Has withdrawal symptoms from disuse, such as tremor, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, agitation.
Alcoholism is a family disease. It’s said that at least five other people experience the effects of each drinker’s alcoholism, coined “secondhand drinking” by Lisa Frederiksen. We try to control the situation, the drinking, and the alcoholic. If you live with an alcoholic, you’re affected most, and children severely suffer because of their vulnerability and lack of maturity, especially if their mother or both parents are addicts.
It’s painful to helplessly watch someone we love slowly destroy him- or herself, our hopes and dreams, and our family. We feel frustrated and resentful from repeatedly believing the addict’s broken promises and from trying to control an uncontrollable situation. This is our denial.
In time, we become as obsessed with the alcoholic as he or she is with alcohol. We may look for him or her in bars, count his or her drinks, pour out booze, or search for bottles. As it says in Al-Anon’s Understanding Ourselves, “All our thinking becomes directed at what the alcoholic is doing or not doing and how to get the drinker to stop drinking.” Without help, our codependency follows the same downward trajectory of alcoholism.
There is hope, and there is help for the addict and for codependent family members. The first step is to learn as much as you can about alcoholism and codependency. Many of the things we do to help an addict or alcoholic are counterproductive and actually can make things worse.
Listen to the experience, strength, and hope of others in recovery. Al-Anon Family Groups can help. The below list is reprinted with their permission. You will learn:
Not to suffer because of the actions or reactions of other people.
Not to allow ourselves to be used or abused by others in the interest of another’s recovery.
Not to do for others what they can do for themselves.
Not to manipulate situations so others will eat, go to bed, get up, pay bills, not drink, or behave as we see fit.
Not to cover up for another’s mistakes or misdeeds.
Not to create a crisis.
Not to prevent a crisis if it is in the natural course of events.
I have met Peter. We spent an afternoon and evening together and there’s a lot to tell. First, I must own up to the ratcheting. In the days before meeting, we ratcheted up the communications to an unprecedented, addictive level. I’d get a text saying “I’ve been thinking about you all day” and could reply that I’d been the same, because it was true: thinking, and composing emails and questions, and answers to questions. We were spending every evening talking on screen. But we still hadn’t spoken.
Two days before the date he texted that he wanted to hear my voice. I’d avoided the phone, feeling that it was an extra audition that I might fail, and was nervous all day, watching the clock, but needn’t have been. We talked for over two hours, and afterwards he texted that he seemed to be falling in love, though how was that possible? It couldn’t be real, this attachment, he said, but it felt real, and this was all new territory and he didn’t quite know how to navigate it. I confessed that I felt just the same.
Now, in the cold light of day, it’s easy to diagnose at least some of the trouble (though other bits remain mysterious). Things accelerated way too fast; we were both accelerators, and it got seriously out of hand. Not sexually. We didn’t talk about sex, not once, but we were both madly romantic and fervent. Some days I got 20 messages, many of them beginning “Hey beautiful”. This bothered me because I’m not beautiful. “Striking” is the best compliment I’ve ever had, from someone other than an idiot online. (Once, devastatingly, someone called me “a handsome woman”, an incident best forgotten).
Here’s all you need to know about how crazily out of hand things got before the date. (And I know, I know, before you harangue me on Twitter – I’m admitting to crazy). When he didn’t reply to a text one afternoon and then didn’t react to a follow-up one asking if all was well, I messaged saying “It’s been four hours since I heard from you and I’m getting withdrawal symptoms. Is that weird?”
Of course it was weird. It was more than that. It was mentally dysfunctional. I’d sit at the computer, trying to work, and really I’d be waiting. I’d smile at the mobile when another of the questions arrived that we continued to ask one another. “Do you like Victorian novels?” “Do you ever make bread?” “Do you have any phobias?”
In two short weeks, my whole life had become Peter-oriented. All the usual things – house chores, phone calls, admin, arrangements, seeing friends, the ordinary obligations, and yes, doing work I was contracted to do – began to feel difficult, even unimportant. I put things off. A period of romantic mania had taken hold of me. I was actually in an altered state. It was all-consuming. I was constantly, tiresomely upbeat and full of energy. This is it, I thought, this is all it takes to be happy: a constant flow of love and attention, given and received. I told myself it didn’t have to come to an end, this flow. I found myself wondering if we’d always text each other these little endearments, even when we lived together. But this was somebody I hadn’t even met yet.
I joined him after his meeting, outside a bistro, and our eyes met as I was threading my way through other pedestrians. I’d gone to a lot of effort; a mid-calf black dress with fat-clamping panels had been purchased and new black boots, and I’d had my hair done. But his face registered disappointment that he struggled to hide. His appearance surprised me too. He was broader, greyer and looked older than I was expecting. He looked weary and anxious. I’d assumed there’d be a romantic first contact, a kiss that would set the tone for the day – it felt like we’d already had a lengthy build-up to that – but the hug he offered was formal. I stepped back and looked into his eyes. His cool blue eyes looked back. I looped an arm around his neck and kissed him on the mouth, a closed-lip kiss, though not a great-aunt-at-Christmas kiss.
He seemed surprised; he pulled away. We were five minutes into an itinerary, involving lunch, strolling, drinks, theatre and dinner, and it already felt like a disaster.
It was a disaster. Things were going to get worse.
Scientific American Blog Network» by Scott Barry Kaufman on October 9, 2014
One of the most robust findings in social psychology is the beauty-is-good stereotype: physically attractive people are perceived and treated more positively than physically unattractive people . But here’s the thing: I have definitely met attractive people who went from hot to not the second they opened their mouths! Vice-versa, some people are so kind and awesome that you can’t help but be attracted to them, regardless of their score on hornotnot.com.
Which has me wondering: I know beautiful is often perceived as good, but isn’t good also beautiful? I mean, I know we are an extremely looks obsessed culture, and research does show that the people we initially perceive as physically attractive tend to follow a very predictable pattern: they are average, symmetrical, and have hormone-dependent features . But don’t things like character and goodness also factor into our perceptions of physical attractiveness?
Enter a new study by Yan Zhang and colleagues. The researchers randomly assigned Chinese participants to one of three groups and had them rate 60 photographs of unfamiliar Chinese female faces. All the photographs were taken from Google, and all of the faces had neutral emotional expressions. After two weeks, the participants rated the same pictures again. But this time, one group of participants were given positive personality descriptors of the people in the photographs (e.g., decent, honest), another group of participants were given negative personality descriptors (e.g., evil, mean), and the third group were given no information about the people in the photographs.
During the first rating, there were no significant differences in ratings of attractiveness among the three groups. But after the second rating, the group given positive personality descriptors of the people in the photographs rated them the most attractive, and the group given negative personality descriptors of the people in the photographs gave the lowest ratings to the photographs.
These results suggest that having a desirable personality may indeed be a factor when judging physical attractiveness. As the researchers note, “This findings indicates that human interior psychological activity is related to exterior physical feature[s], and that a human is the whole entity of psychology and physiology.”
But perhaps this study was too artificial. Maybe the same effects wouldn’t occur for people who we know intimately. There is a series of really fascinating studies conducted by Kevin Kniffin and David Sloan Wilson, in which they address this very issue. As they note, there are evolutionary reasons why personality traits can inform our perceptions of physical attractiveness. Even though beauty is an assessment of fitness value, there is no reason why assessment of fitness needs to be purely physical. Fitness value of a potential social partner can be influenced by both physical and non-physical traits.
In one study, participants rated the photographs of classmates in their high school yearbooks for physical attractiveness, familiarity, liking, and respect. The researchers then had strangers (of the same sex and roughly same age) who had never met the people behind the photographs rate the same photographs for physical attractiveness. In general, the more the people in the yearbook were familiar, liked, and respected, the more physically attractive they were perceived to be. The effect of non-physical traits on perceptions of physical attractiveness was significant for both sexes.
The researchers give a really neat example of their effect. After a particular participant completed her rating, the researchers looked at the photograph of the male who she regarded as least physically attractive. To the researchers, and the strangers who rated this man, he did not seem ugly but actually quite average in physical attractiveness. When they showed her the photograph and asked why she rated him so ugly, her face was one of disgust as she explained what a horrible person he was. She was physically disgusted by the image of this guy, even though his horrible personality has nothing to do with his his physical features. This woman’s perception of this man’s physical attractiveness remained this intense, even after 30 years since last she had seen him.
In a second study, members of a university rowing team were asked after the training and competitions were over for the year to rate all other team members on the following dimensions: talent, effort, respect, liking, and physical attractiveness. The males on the team were also rated for physical attractiveness by a group of strangers about the same age as the crew members (the photo was a group photo).
As in Study 1, for both males and females, perceptions of physical attractiveness were heavily influenced by non-physical traits. Also, the ratings made by the strangers and the ratings made by the crew members who had information about the non-physical traits of the other crew members differed significantly.
As a vivid example, the researchers describe a male team member who was perceived as the slacker of the team and the main focus of negative gossip. It turns out that he was uniformly rated physically ugly by the other members of the team. In contrast was another member of the team, who worked so hard that there were discussions of him as a possible contender for the U.S. Olympic team. This guy was rated by everyone on the team as physically attractive. The most interesting thing is that this large difference in perceived physical attractiveness between the two crew members was not evidenced by the raters who did not know anything about the contributions of these two men.
In a third study, students in 6-week summer archaeology course rated each other on the first day of class on familiarity, intelligence, effort, liking, and physical attractiveness. The same students then did the same ratings again on the last day of class, after working with each other for the 6 weeks on a dig site, working 5 days per week and approximately 8 hours per day with each other. Consistent with the first two studies, non-physical traits (especially liking) contributed to final perceptions of physical attractiveness above and beyond the effects of the initial impressions of physical attractiveness.
On the first day of class, one woman received a below average rating (mean of 3.25) of physical attractiveness by the other members of the class. However, this woman turned out to be a quite popular, well liked, and hardworking member of the group. Strikingly, this woman went from a mean of 3.25 on the first day of class to a mean of 7.00 by the last day of class! Her rating of physical attractiveness increased quite a lot, and she presumably did not do one thing to alter her physical appearance.
These results suggest that sometimes our initially hardwired gut reaction to appearance can be overridden, and sometimes even without effort. All it may take is increased familiarity about the person. As the researchers note, “Among people who actually know and interact with each other, the perception of physical attractiveness is based largely on traits that cannot be detected from physical appearance alone, either from photographs or from actually observing the person before forming a relationship.”
I agree with the researchers that we should be particularly wary of basing physical attractiveness strictly on ratings of photographs by strangers or even on first impressions of physical appearance without at least learning a bit more about their character. But I especially like the beauty tip the researchers give: “If you want to enhance your physical attractiveness, become a valuable social partner.”
I know this is not your standard beauty tip, but the results of these studies do suggest that if you want to improve your physical attractiveness, strengthening the content of your character may be the most effective thing you can do.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
– Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People
Have you ever been standing alone in a room full of strangers?
You don’t recognize anyone. You’re not even sure you belong there, and you have no idea what to say. You think about darting for the door or at least jumping on your phone so you don’t look like a total loser. Or maybe just the thought kept you from showing up in the first place.
I’ve been there. More than once.
But I can also link almost all of my business or personal success back to the friends I’ve met – often at events that could have felt just like that.
In a couple days, a lot of us will be heading to Portland for the World Domination Summit – probably my favorite event of the the year for hanging around people doing the things you didn’t think could be done.
When I first went to WDS, I knew two people and Live Your Legend was just an idea. I left on Monday morning with dozens of new friends. Friends who not only understood me, but who showed me a new type of possibility – one that landed me right here.
It is experiences like this that have made environment and connection the heart of how LYL helps people find and do work that matters. It’s why we created our How to Connect with Anyone community and it’s why I decided to create today’s rather in-depth guide.
Because it all starts with connection.
And nothing beats showing up in the real world.
As long as it’s actually fun… So this is meant to be a resource for you to return to before or during a live meetup of any kind – conference, event or just connecting with someone new at the cafe down the street. It’s all universal. If you’re headed to WDS, print this out for your flight and to refer to over the weekend – or for the next time you’ll be around a bunch of new faces.
Also, once you’re done, I’d love to hear your best in-person connection technique in the comments.
There’s a lot to cover, so I’ve broken things down into a few sections. Now, let’s make some friends…
32 Ways to Immediately Connect with Strangers at Live Events
I. Get Your Mind Right
None of this stuff works (or is any fun) if you aren’t coming from the right place…
1. See strangers as friends you haven’t met yet. Thinking about a room of strangers is often intimidating enough to keep you from ever showing up. It’s also usually not true. If you’ve picked an event that aligns with who you are, the people you’re about to meet are your people. Approach conversations knowing you have beliefs and ideas in common.
Reframing strangers as friends also makes it a lot easier to know what to do. With good friends, we listen, try to help, make introductions, remember names and talk about shared passions – all of which we’ll cover below. We do not try to dominate the conversation, shove our product or website down their throat or think about how we can use them to move up some ladder. Treat them as friends you’ve yet to meet and the rest of this stuff becomes pretty obvious.
2. Know that there’s possibility in every conversation. I’ve experienced enough serendipity to know that every new event or interaction has the potential to lead to a new friend, partner or idea. Approach new people that way and it starts to become self-fulfilling.
3. Realize everyone is as scared as you are. No matter how unknown or well known someone is, we all share fears of being in a room with no familiar faces, feeling lonely and not fitting in. That’s natural. Your situation is not special. It’s normal. As soon as you realize you’re in the same place as everyone around you, new faces start to feel a lot more welcoming.
4. Be there to help. Sure, you want to meet people to help build out whatever you’re working on, and that will come. But real connection is built from genuinely caring about serving the people around you. If that’s not your intention, then you’ve come to the wrong place and most of your efforts will backfire. Constantly come back to adding value. People will feel it and your conversations and results will be all the richer for it. Remember Carnegie’s quote above.
II. Make a Plan
Getting the most out of a live event starts long before you get there, so in the days or week leading up, lay out some groundwork…
5. Know and research people you want to meet. Some of the most important interactions often end up being the people you never saw coming. But you still want to create as much luck as possible. Write down the names and a few notes about the people you know will be there who you’d love to connect with. Do some research on their current projects and know what you want to say when you happen to connect. What idea could you share? What specific piece of their work could you sincerely and personally thank them for? Keep this on you during the event.
You could also make a Twitter list so you can follow and interact with them during the event. Thanks to Caleb at Fizzle for that one.
6. Reach out in advance. Go back through your list and send short notes of anticipation. Remind them who you are, let them know you’re excited to meet and how and when you hope to cross paths. Make it a super short email and follow with a couple tweets or other social mentions so they can associate your face with the name and note.
III. Show Up
Here’s what to do once you walk through the door…
7. Smile. I wish I didn’t have to mention it, but it’s too easy to forget when you’re immersed in new surroundings. Smiles are contagious. They show confidence. They make people want to be around you. Any smile is better than none, but also try not to grin like some connection-deprived clown.
8. Obey The 3-Second Rule. I first learned this from a professional pickup artist years ago, but it works magic with any new person. This is your 80/20 rule – it will lead to more interactions than anything else on this page. The rule is simple: When you see someone interesting to talk to, you have three seconds to walk up and say hello. Wait longer and you’ll either overthink it and screw it up or overthink it and never approach. Not sure what to say? It doesn’t matter. Anything is better than nothing, because it takes you from being a no-name in a sea of faces to being an actual person with a story (who had the courage to say hello). If it’s someone you’ve always wanted to meet, you’ll at least be able to open by thanking them for their work and how it’s impacted you.
I shared this rule at my How to Connect With Anyone talk at WDS in 2012 and the next day, a woman named Erica wrote me an email. Here’s one sentence from it:
“I am a very nervous introvert but after finishing your workshop, I went on to meet roughly 70 people in one afternoon and 115 in one weekend!”
She included the list of people she’d met. This stuff works.
Here’s a little bonus video on The 3-Second Rule from Module 2 of our How to Connect With Anyone course on Overcoming Approach Anxiety & Creating Instant Physical Rapport.
9. Warm up. The 3-Second Rule isn’t just for people you recognize. Use it to talk to anyone who looks interesting. And in the beginning, apply it to everyone you see. It’s just like warming up for a race or big talk. You gotta get some reps in and build confidence. Do that by saying hello to anyone you can, when there’s nothing at stake.
10. Take notes. Write down names and memorable details immediately after meeting someone. I keep a list in my iPhone. You could even do this during your chat as long as you tell them what you’re doing – that you really care about remembering their name and following up about something cool they’ve mentioned. They’ll probably be flattered. Better to use a paper notebook than phone if doing this in person, so they don’t think you’re distracted. Notes will make you much more likely to remember them during the event and follow up with something meaningful once it’s over.
11. Know names. No excuses here. No one’s good with names unless they try. Repeat it back to them. Write it down. Introduce them to someone else. Picture a friend who has the same name. If you forget, just ask again. In a pinch, you could introduce them to a friend without mentioning the new person’s name, so hopefully they repeat it back (or ask your friend or spouse to always introduce themselves when they approach you and someone new, just in case you’ve forgotten). Then use it every time you see each other. Hearing your own name makes people feel on top of the world, especially from someone you wouldn’t expect to remember.
Also, don’t expect others to remember yours – make it easy for them by quickly mentioning your name the next time you meet, especially if you’ve only met once before or if it’s a distant acquaintance you haven’t seen in a long time. And definitely never say something like “so do you remember my name?” or “I bet you don’t remember me.” I’m surprised by how often I hear this and all it does is make the person you’re talking to feel like an ass. People forget. Be nice.
12. Take pictures. I love taking pictures with people I’ve met. It’s a fun way to remember folks, get them to remember you and also great for follow-up. Have fun with it, but don’t be pushy.
13. Bring a small group together. Invite some new friends to dinner or drinks that night or for a little workout. Or with enough advance notice, set up a little party for folks you know and want to meet. That’s what we’re doing with our LYL pre-party and beer tasting on Friday at WDS. I invited all of you as well as a bunch of personal friends and people I’d love to meet.
14. Know your elevator pitch. I don’t like the term, but everyone’s familiar with it. What’s your 30-second story of who you are, what you’re doing and why you care so much? Have something sharp and concise, but be ready to modify to fit the person you’re talking to. And share it with some excitement!
15. Know what you want to say to those you know you want to meet. Do your homework so you don’t get caught fumbling when you bump into your idol in the bathroom (best to wait until after you’re both done, though…). What do you want to thank them for? Who do you know in common? What idea do you want to share? How can it connect with and help their work?
16. Find common ground. Building rapport is all about finding things in common as fast as possible. This can be mutual friends, cities, travels, ideas, businesses, fears, whatever. Being at the same event means you’re already starting with something. Build from there.
17. Know your ABC stories. The more you know your experiences, the higher your odds of quickly finding similarities as you ask questions and learn their story. An easy exercise for this is to write a 1-2 sentence true story about yourself for every letter of the alphabet (My friend Tynan taught me this one). Ask a friend to help if need be. “A” for me might be that I went on a safari in Africa and we almost ran into an elephant in our 6-person motor boat. The point isn’t to tell everyone all your stories (definitely don’t do that) – it’s to have a refined lens for listening to theirs and seeing how you can relate. It also makes for much more memorable conversation.
18. Be interesting, ask interesting questions and become contagious. Do whatever you can to interrupt the usual small talk pattern. Share passions. Anything’s fair game (well, almost). Ask about fun things like recent adventures or what they’re most excited about right now. Tell them the same about you. Don’t ask, “So, um, what do you do?” There are much more entertaining ways to get to that question. One of my go-to questions is, “So, what are you building?”
People want to be around people who are excited about what they’re doing. Energy and passion are contagious. Let it rub off on the people you’re with. But don’t dominate the conversation. Let them do more talking than you. Then play your energy off the things you learn.
19. Meet on their level. If someone is quiet and reserved, you being your wild and crazy extroverted self will likely turn them off. Tone it down to where they are. Your goal is to make people feel welcome and safe. This creates rapport. You can still be contagious without making people feel like you’re crazy.
20. Be with them and only them. If you’re talking to someone then talk to them. Do not glance all around the room looking for more important people. That sucks. Encourage others to talk about themselves – then listen and actually hear what they’re saying. Make it a game to listen so intently that you pick up on how you can uniquely relate and help.
21. And while we’re on don’ts, DO NOT retreat to mindlessly checking your phone when you don’t have someone to talk to. Leave it in your pocket on “do not disturb”. Anytime you notice yourself pulling it out because you feel alone, use it as a trigger to apply the 3-second rule.
22. Create a time limit. This is especially important for influential people who are constantly being bombarded. Open up by letting them know you’re headed to dinner in two minutes but just had to say … then offer a memorable thank you and quick idea. If natural rapport and conversation grows from there, go with it, but still only stay a few minutes. It’s much less awkward for you to decide to walk away than them trying to leave. Or if they’re talking to someone, you could just walk up, touch them on the shoulder, apologize for the interruption and say a quick thank you and good bye, and maybe that you’ll try to catch them later in the weekend. Find a way to make contact, but be respectful of their space.
23. Change seats. Don’t sit in the same place during every session or eat or stand in the same area throughout the weekend. Most people do, so show up somewhere different and see who else you can bump into.
24. Take advantage of transitions. Walking into and out of a venue is a natural time to start up a chat. So is any transition. It usually feels less awkward than walking straight up to someone. Say hi to the people beside you. Who knows, the woman in the stairwell might be your future business partner.
25. Make and share introductions. Once you meet someone, think about who else you know that they’d have fun with. If you see a group of friends, introduce everyone to the new guy. Also make an agreement with a few friends that you’ll introduce each other to the people you meet.
26. Be the host. Act as if this is your party. If you see someone alone, go say hi. I don’t care if you don’t know anyone else. Make someone else feel welcome. And you’ll both have someone to talk to. Offer help, directions, introductions, whatever. If you’re headed to a meal, invite them to join. A few years ago, I was at an event where I saw one of my biggest mentors and hugely successful author wander around looking for a place to eat – so I invited him to join us. Made for a hell of a lunch. Remember, no one wants to feel alone. Always be welcoming.
27. Embrace the party. This is crucial. Most the real connection happens between events and after hours. Share unique experiences – get up early for a workout, jump in the river or go bungee jumping (if that’s your thing). Skip a session for an afternoon beer with new friends, go out and do some partying together, get your dance on, stay late, get a little tipsy. These are the non conference things that bring your guard down and turn acquaintances into lasting friends. Take your pick. Be creative. Get a little crazy. And always be sure to dance – that’s my signature move on the right…
IV. Follow Up
The event is just the beginning. What comes next is where the lasting friendships form…
28. Send a note and add some value. In your follow-up, thank them for something specific and find a way to offer an idea, article, talk, book, whatever that might help with something they mentioned when you met. Make each note unique and memorable. Do it within 24-48 hours, max. If you wait longer, you’ll probably never do it or it’ll get lost. Send an email as well as snail mail and maybe a tweet. If you have a fun picture, print it out and put it with the letter.
29. Thank speakers even if you didn’t meet. Send a note to the people who left an impression and tell them why.
30. Write about them. For the past couple years, I’ve published summary postsabout WDS with mentions and links to the people who taught me something. Then I’ll include a link in my followups.
31. Find a way to connect in real-time within a few weeks. If you care about keeping up, prove it.
32. Be You & Allow Others to Be Them
This is the blanket that covers the whole process.
When you’re around accomplished people, it’s easy to want to puff your chest out and be someone you’re not. The problem is that people see straight through the bull sh*t and it kills rapport. Be open, vulnerable and unapologetically you. This connects way better than some Superman story, and makes people actually enjoy being around you. Plus, you being uniquely you helps inspire the person you’re with to do the same. And that’s a rare gift.
Do that and you become unforgettable.
Stop worrying about what to say or what to do. Just show up and care about who you’re talking to.
We’re all coming from the same place. We’re all at least a little nervous. We all wonder where and how we’ll fit in.
And we all want to connect with people who believe in the same things we do.
When it comes to dating, it can be a jungle out there. Yes, anyone who’s ever dated knows how brutal the scene can be. It’s even worse when you’re just coming out of a relationship and, yes, especially when you’re over 50. As if it weren’t bad enough being set up with your friend’s weird brother, you now have the pleasure of perusing potential dates on the Internet.