There’s this terrible feeling that occasionally visits you on dates, at parties, and out at the bar.  The easiest way to describe it might be helplessness.  There’s a beautiful woman there, you’re into her, and you want her to be into you, too.  But you’re having the damnedest time making her smile.

You can feel her interest in you waning.  So you sort of “scramble” for stuff to say and do.  If you’re like I was in the past, you think you need some sort of line or technique.

In fact, if you just Google’d “how to make a girl smile” and ended up here, congrats – you’re following in my footsteps from 2003.  Back then, the Internet wasn’t quite the sewage dump vast resource of dubious useful information that it is today, so my efforts were for naught.

The thing is, none of the tips that I did find were of much use.  There was stuff like “tell a joke” or “buy her flowers” or “make her laugh” but that’s some monumentally rubbish advice for how obvious it is.

So how about some real advice on what you really need to do to make a girl smile?

Back when I was looking for tips on this stuff, I was going through a “rough patch” of life.  Everything seemed ok on the outside – I was working at a software company I’d started, I had a nice jet black Audi TT, and was one of the sharpest-dressed guys in Ann Arbor.

But on the inside, I was pretty unhappy.  I didn’t have any real sense of direction.  I hated the sales work I was doing at my own damn company, but I was afraid to leave it.  I wasn’t enjoying Ann Arbor, but I felt trapped there.  And most of my good friends had moved out of the city the previous summer, so my social life wasn’t great.

Life just stopped being fun.

Hey, it happens sometimes.

My one hope… the thing that kept me going… was the thought of a great relationship with a beautiful girl.

I wouldn’t have admitted it to myself back then, but I sort of wanted a girl to “save me”.

From what?

Monotony.  Boredom.  A lack of purpose or self-direction.

Even more insidiously, the sort of “salvation” I was looking for from a girl was the kind that would validate me… make me feel better about myself.

And the reason that I was having such a hard time making girls smile?

I didn’t smile much myself… certainly not the genuine, true smile that’s felt as much as it’s seen.

You know the kind of smile I’m talking about.  The one that’s as contagious as a yawn. The kind of smile where someone is feeling gooooood… you catch their eye from across the room and you can’t help but start smiling too.

The psychological principle here is emotional contagion - the tendency to “catch” other peoples’ emotions.  Especially when a.) we place a high value on that person or b.) that person is experiencing those emotions more dominantly than we’re experiencing our own emotions.  We have a program about this coming out soon – tentatively titled the Emotional Activation System.  Clever title, right?

So in thinking I needed a technique or a joke to make a girl smile, I made the error of trying to solve the wrong problem.

If I could specifically put my finger on the problem, it’s that I was hoping that a woman would be the leader of fun and happiness in my life.   That I could “borrow” some of her own fun and happiness.

Now, here’s where it gets even worse:

When these are the thoughts that are kicking around in the ol’ subconscious, it makes a guy really unattractive.

Duh.

But let’s go a little deeper and try to understand exactly what a girl feels when a guy is thinking these sorts of thoughts.

Here’s a truth:

The truest quality of any relationship in your life is always the experience you have when that person is right there, with you.

Do you guys have fun with each other?  Can you talk about important stuff together?  Do you make each other feel sexy?

Loyalty is important.  Trust is important.  Future plans are important.  They all affect your ability to enjoy the people you spend time with.

But nothing determines the quality of a relationship quite like the in-the-moment experiences you have with a person.

And when you’re unhappy… when you’re not having fun in your life… when you’re looking to “borrow” it from someone else… you’re usually also looking to “lock it down.”

You know what I mean.  Having this person in your life makes you feel good, and you want some sense of assurance that they’re going to be around in the future to keep making you feel good.

So rather than focusing on them, during the time you’re with them… and just having a great time… there’s a part of you that’s nervous, insecure, and thinking about the future.

Sometimes this comes out explicitly – asking “so, what are we?” or trying to have a talk about “feelings”.  Sometimes it comes out implicitly… trying to subtly gather information about what her plans are on Friday night.

“Oh, you’re going to a party… uhhhh, cool?  Who you going with?   Just friends?   Which friends?”

Ughhhhhh.

And sometimes, it’s just a subtle feeling that visits the conversation.  You’re thinking about how much you like the girl, and you’re a little nervous about losing her, and you’re not totally happy… or maybe you just aren’t the leader of your own life… whatever it is, it totally kills your ability to have fun with a girl – and smile with her – in the moment when she’s right there, in front of you.

So to think a technique or a joke is the answer to making a girl smile… well… you can now see that there’s a much more fundamental thing going on here.

So how do you make a girl smile?

It gets back to stuff we cover in some of our courses like Unbreakable and the forthcoming Ten Code.

You’re a confident, happy dude.  You’re the leader of your own life, and you have ample reasons to smile whether or not someone else is around.

You’re not looking for a girl to save you.  And if she’s not smiling, that’s her problem, not yours.

In fact, most of the girls who meet can’t help but pick up on your positive attitude and fun outlook, and want to “borrow” some of it from you.  They can’t help but smile when they think of you.  And when they’re in-the-moment with you, having a great time and smiling naturally, they can’t help but thinking “I hope I get to see him again.”

Christian Hudson Christian is the founder of The Social Man. Other adventures have included a venture-funded software company, motorcycle racing, DJ’ing New York’s hot spots, and losing a few years of his life to irresponsibility, and the search for wisdom and truth. Read his full bio here.