Daygame, Reticular Activation System and Defensiveness

One thing my wing and I talk about a lot when we’re running daygame is the Reticular Activation System (RAS).

I first learned about the RAS when I was studying biopsychology in college. The RAS has several functions, but I’m mostly interest in how it helps to focus attention.

The world has endless potential for “things you might notice.” If you were to pay attention to everything — every crack in the sidewalk, every conversation on the train — you’d be constantly distracted. The RAS (as I understand it), helps you focus, helps you regulate what you pay attention to in the environment, and what goes unnoticed.

Our RAS serves as a gating mechanism to screen out most incoming sensory information. Well, to partially screen it out. If something important (relevant, dangerous, interesting) presents itself, the RAS “gate” allows the sensory information (tactile, auditory, visual) on through to the higher cortical areas for actual processing.
Dr Nowell

In general, as long as what is happening around you is pretty much what is expected, you don’t need to pay attention to anything. If what is coming in fits with what has come in before, the RAS more or less says, “Been there, done that” and ignores it. You can just relax, or you can focus your attention at whatever you choose. When the incoming sensory data is familiar, the RAS ignores it. It is when something unexpected is present – in the incoming sensory data – that the RAS goes into action, telling us to pay attention to that.

The sources of those quotes above aren’t related to game, but they do a good job of showing how RAS might be relevant to game.

I want to talk about eye contact, in particular, but before I do, here’s another relevant example of RAS in game — what kind of girls do you like? As my friends know, I’m not into blondes, but I know many guys are. When you’re walking down the street, thinking about your job or your favorite sport team, whatever, you’re on “autopilot.” Your RAS is mostly ignoring the sensory input around you, mostly screening out input, and you can focus on whatever you’re doing.

But then… this blonde walks out of a shop, and *SNAP*, you’re completely focused on her, and are now ignoring almost everything else. You’ve been “alerted.” As a man — and this is important – the alert causes you to focus and your desire kicks in. For guys without game, that focus probably just causes them to be nervous. For guys w/ game, it’s a signal to start thinking about approaching. You probably passed dozens of girls, but they were “ordinary” for you, so your RAS left you alone, but as the hottie blonde comes into view, you’re on alert, and hopefully jogging over to make her day.

Okay, now on to eye contact and RAS.

I know it’s common knowledge that strong or flirty eye contact is a standard indication of interest (IOI). In bars, etc, I certainly agree, and I like to get this kind of IOI. Preferably, solid eye contact, and then, she breaks firsts, looks down in a feminine way (<-- very good "game" from a girl, BTW). That's a scenario I love, and usually is so appealing I'm very likely to approach. Bars are typically a social environment, and eye contact means something specific in those situations. However, on the street, for daygame, I don't like eye contact. Here's why... MY THEORY: Eye contact will trigger the RAS in a girl, and that will start her off in a “flight” or “defensive” mode, that will not help the approach.

One of the most wonderful things about daygame is the surprise element. When someone is surprised, they’re open, and you can lead them. If a girl is “on alert” because you caught her eye, you’re likely to “show up on her radar,” and she may very possibly raise her guard and start defensive, avoidance-type behavior. Not always, but often enough I think it’s worth consideration.

I love eye contact, and it’s very normal for me to stare a girl down. When I do this, she’ll often go from a neutral state (doing her own thing), to noticing me (on alert), and then will do a little frown (defense), or “shake me off,” look away, something like that. This has happened thousands of times w/ me… usually makes me laugh. I get very positive responses too, but this one is common.

Women get many more offers than they can ever say yes to, so the default answer to a man’s offer is “no,” and this is one kind of no. As guys in game, it’s our job to get past the “default no” and see if there’s any potential for us in particular, even if she does in fact have to say “no” to most offers. Basic evolutionary psychology. She’s done this thousands of times. And while as men when we’re “alerted” we know to approach (even if we’re a little nervy), if she’s on alert, you’re often in an uphill battle against her defenses, right from the start.

My theory is that if you make eye contact and flip that “switch” before you’ve approached, her mind will be primed for “defense” before you’ve even said a word. She’s in defense *and* you’ve lost the surprise element. She may still open fine, but you’ve given that anti-social part of her time to dig into “no” before you’ve had a chance to charm her into “yes.”

My recommendation: Scan for girls, but don’t make eye contact. If she’s walking by you, relax (so you don’t trigger her in other ways), maybe focus on something else until you’re ready to approach, and then get in there. In general, don’t “alert” her to your presence until you’re ready to open her and get the job done.

Happy to hear comments on this one, and perhaps my mind will change as I have more experience. But this feels right to me so far.

One last comment… if you’re working with a wing, his eye contact can blow out your sets as well. Especially if both of you are staring down some innocent little beauty as she rolls down the street… this little bunny and these two hungry wolves… you’re going to crank up her defenses. I will actually ask my wing *not* to look at a certain girl that I know I’m going to open… I want that element of surprise and low-to-no defense as I begin the dance.