When it comes to dating, women have the upper hand in the mind games department. That's not to say we're all cavemen who think only in singular emotions, like "food" or "sex" or "foodsex." We do have some game. Here are a few tried and true mental techniques I've observed among my fellow men.
The "no-game" game
My best friend gets more women with "Hey I don't have some cheesy pickup line to lay on you; I just want to tell you I think you're beautiful" than every other guy I know combined. And he does it all while wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Classic undersell. Women fall all over themselves because they think he's being "aw-shucks" honest. He knows exactly what he's doing, and it makes the rest of us sick. Sick with respect.
The Olympic hopeful
You know who's a lot more fun than the hard 10 standing in the middle of the bar, having guy after guy order her a drink? The friend of the 10 who's seen it all before and rolls her eyes at every advance. Or even better: the friend of THAT friend. That's who the true male athletes bring their A-game for: the silver or bronze medals. Because those girls not-so-secretly hate the attention their gold-medal girlfriend is getting. As men, we just want something shiny we can take home and show our friends.
The preoccupied man
I have a Big Apple brother who loves to lone wolf it to a Midtown dive bar and sit solo with a forlorn and distraught look on his face. Ladies don't see a 6-foot-5 bearded behemoth but an abandoned puppy left alone at the shelter. When they approach him with "What's wrong?" he says he can't even begin to explain it and just wants someone to have a drink with. Their sympathy and their curiosity—plus his perfect elixir of vulnerability and mystery—equals game, set and match.
The long game
"Oh, you have a boyfriend? Live in Ohio but are planning on moving to the Chi this summer? Let's exchange numbers anyway. I'll keep a casual distance, only texting you random nonsense every other weekend. Maybe when you're back in town, a big group of us can all go out? Yeah, bring the boyfriend. You'll end up leaving him for me anyway since I'm way more comfortable in this city than he is."
If the popularity of Pinterest and Etsy are any indication, women love a hands-on project. The key is not to come across as too much of a mess, but just enough that she thinks the perfect combination of support and pressure will transform you into Prince Charming. For example, keep a clean apartment but don't have any idea how to cook for yourself. (Wait, actually that's my game.) In your heart you know she never will fix you, and after too long she'll figure it out for herself. Then she'll leave you for a guy who works in her company's design department.
John Hickey is a RedEye special contributor.
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