We Proved That Anyone Can Be Social At Our San Diego Retreat
Back in February, before we were all socially distant, we helped six men get socially close to new people in San Diego, California with our exclusive Conquer Confidence Retreat Program.
Except for our first retreat in Majorca, Spain, we’ve always stayed in the heart of a city. This time Julian recommended we go back to our roots. We chose a more secluded place in the nearby seaside community of La Jolla. La Jolla is known for having some of the most stunning beaches in California.
Being a little further out gets you a lot more — a heated pool, hot tub, pool table, fire pit, trampoline, and four large bathrooms. You don’t realize how important all those bathrooms are until you have over ten adults (including the coaching team) sharing them…
I know I say this about a lot of places, but the people in San Diego were surprisingly friendly. For example, one guy invited us to a 200-hundred person private party and multiple groups offered to smoke legal weed with us, unprompted, in the middle of the day. I guess there’s something about being in a beach town that gives people a relaxed attitude.
All this made for some of the best social outings we’ve ever had at a retreat. We researched a dozen places in Pacific Beach prior to going out for our night session. But from the very first venue, the guys hit it off with so many women we didn’t even make it to anywhere else!
Each retreat provides us with new clarity. Our interactions during this experience proved to us that some of the most common sayings are based in truth.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
Every retreat has a “funny” guy. I mean, all of our clients are funny, but there’s usually one person who takes the lead and brings up the whole group dynamic.
In San Diego, it wasn’t clear who was going to take that leap. All the members were fairly calm and low-key.
One particular client was a really serious professional. He was an all-star in med school. He focused meticulously on studying, acing exams, and excelling his way to the top. He had overlooked a lot of social connections to focus on his career.
He was so dedicated that his school actually sat him down to inform him they were concerned. He was overworked, overstressed, and isolated. They recommended he take a semester off to focus on himself and his interpersonal connections — a skill every practitioner needs with patients.
He came into the retreat with that same level of commitment. The first day, he furiously took notes and kept more to himself. We could sense he was a nice, but buttoned-up kind of guy. Little did we know…his real personality was yet to be revealed.
During a beach outing, he asked some people throwing a football to toss it his way (which they gladly did). He started a conversation with a woman and made lighthearted doctor innuendo jokes. At the park, he ran around playing with other people’s dogs and photobombed a few people’s selfies.
And the whole time, he pushed himself relentlessly to talk to everyone who caught his eye.
When Sarah took his photos, he asked to have silly shots lying on the pool table or with the house’s Marilyn Monroe poster. As the retreat went on, he became the positive hype man for all of the other guys, bringing everyone closer together.
By the last night of the retreat, we all sat around listening to him share hilarious and often wild stories from his life. We all agreed that this guy could be an amazing stand-up comedian. He had no idea how funny he was without even trying — it was just his natural personality finally getting a chance to shine through.
So this unlikely intellectual became San Diego’s “funny” guy. This only goes to show us you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Snap judgments and harsh assumptions are rampant in the dating world.
Men may expect only to find shallow, uninteresting women at a bar, only to be surprised by their depth and wit. Women may think guys who approach them can only talk about the same surface-level shit, only to be drawn in by captivating conversations.
When you let your preconceived notions about people rule your interactions, you never give them the chance to reveal what’s really behind their mask. You keep your guard up and so they do, too.
Don’t knock it ‘til you try it
A few guys at this retreat were self-described introverts. While preparing for our night out, they told us it wasn’t going to be their thing. They said they almost never went out to nightlife and didn’t enjoy those environments.
When we first showed up at the bar, the music was pumping and one of the guys reiterated, “I don’t want to be here. This is not fun for me.” Two other clients said some version of, “I’m not going to meet anyone here I like. It’s just not my scene.”
We told them there was no pressure and we could just hang out on the roof deck.
As we all stood and talked, they loosened up. We joked around, shared funny stories, and even got a little goofy with some dancing. They were getting out of their heads and could just enjoy themselves.
We capitalized on that energy and started talking to people. Soon enough, all of those introverted guys were engrossed in conversations with different women.
One guy raved about a girl he met who was born in Japan and had passionate political opinions. Another told us how he got to nerd out about Star Wars, memes, and eclectic music with a woman who knew as much as he did. Yet another client was amazed at how thoughtful and philosophical the women were, when he had expected shallow conversations.
After this experience, each guy independently told us that they’d surprisingly had a great night. One said, “I might have to challenge my idea that I’m not a ‘night’ person.” And another said something that stuck with the whole crew, “That may have been the most fun night I’ve ever had!”
So when it comes to life experiences and meeting people, don’t knock it ‘til you try it. Don’t assume you’ll hate something you’ve never even tried. Expand your comfort zone and you’ll be amazed at what you discover about yourself.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take
During the dating process, it’s inevitable to experience some awkward silences and harsh rejections. Many guys take these moments personally and feel like that’s how it’s always going to be.
One client faced some tough moments during our night out at a bar. He had been in a group conversation and the girl he was talking to wasn’t interested. He endured this weak connection for a few minutes and left feeling like shit. Then, while still feeling defeated, he halfheartedly tried to talk to a group of women and one of them rudely shushed him away.
We could tell he was fading. He said, “Yeah, I just don’t think I have ‘it’ like some of these other guys.” Kristina told him that was BS and he just needed to find the right person. We convinced him to take another chance with maybe the hardest situation on any night out: the woman working.
There was a woman sitting in the corner next to the bouncers who was promoting a beer company. He was apprehensive. He thought she was just there to work and there would be no way she’d give him a chance. But we pushed him to talk to her…and talk they did.
They spent over 45 minutes in deep conversation. She leaned into him constantly and was super curious about him (and didn’t once try to sell him her product). The staff members nearby looked on in awe as their romantic tension was palpable. At the end of the night he told Kristina and me, “I’m so glad you called me out.”
Similarly, another day we visited Balboa Park. One client couldn’t seem to vibe with the people he talked to. He said, “I just can’t connect with these women in everyday situations.” So I went with him to speak with two girls watching a street performer.
Within minutes, he had their complete attention. They went out of their way to compliment his background and say how they liked his intellectual side. Towards the end of the conversation, it was clear they were fighting for him, not me. And when he asked for it, the girl he was into readily gave him her number.
The point is this: if either of those guys stopped before taking one more shot…they would have had completely different realities. They would have left those situations believing their own stories and feeling sorry for themselves. But again, experience proves our bullshit wrong and shows you just how incredible you can be.
What often separates those who are successful vs those who aren’t is they’re not afraid to keep shooting.
Motion creates emotion
Many people, introverts especially, believe that talking to strangers will always be a draining experience. They think that only extroverts could possibly enjoy those interactions.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Recent studies show that both introverts and extroverts gain energy from having conversations. The difference is in the frequency, the types of discussions they’re having, and the people they’re having them with. When done correctly, new conversations can invigorate everyone.
Around 1 AM during our night out, one of the guys was feeling burned out. He said, “I’m done for the night. I don’t stay out late like this.” We told him no problem and just relaxed.
A minute later, a girl walked by that I could see caught his eye. Julian encouraged him to say a quick hello with no further commitment needed. Soon enough, they were talking like they were a couple. She was leaning in, touching his jacket, and laughing at everything he said.
They spoke for a while and traded numbers. When he returned to us, he was amped up. He had a big goofy grin and was more expressive than he’d been the whole night. I couldn’t help but tease him with, “I thought you were too tired man.”
This also happened during our day session at the outdoor mall. One guy had spoken to a few women that didn’t catch his interest. He said, “I’m done for today, I’m just gonna relax.”
But then he spotted a gorgeous woman. He went up to talk to her and the rest of us walked away, doing our own thing. Thirty minutes later, he was nowhere to be found and we had to get back to the house for the next session.
We called and texted him with no response. Finally, he came back to us, almost skipping, and beaming from ear to ear. Turns out he was unavailable because they’d had an on-the-spot date, went to get coffee together, and made plans to see each other again.
I can say that with 100% certainty that he did not regret missing out on that “relaxing” time.
So think back to some of the most fulfilling social interactions of your life. You probably have fond memories sitting in the backyard with your friend or chilling on the couch with a partner and the hours just flew by.
But those moments of connection were only possible because you found those people in the first place. Meeting new people doesn’t have to be different — they, too, can fill you with joy, excitement, and of course, arousal. You’ve just got to take the first step.
You’ve just got to trust that if you put the first step in motion, positive emotions will follow.
Read between the lines
So many guys believe building attraction with women is this long, complicated process where they have to be flirting masters. They believe it’s so elusive, and then doubt it when it’s right in front of them.
They overlook women’s signs of interest and only believe they have a sexual connection if a woman is basically throwing herself at them. But women are much more subtle when flirting. They aren’t going to peel off their clothes and say, “Come and get me!”
In reality, attraction is much simpler and more abundant than you imagine.
You don’t need to be Don Juan. You just have to practice slowing down, being present, and speaking honestly. This alone will attract plenty of people because that is the essence of real confidence. You are willing to show up and put yourself on the line.
From there, women will go out of their way to hint that they’re into you. They will spend extra time with you, get closer to you, touch you, and compliment you.
You just have to accept that this is their way of communicating, “Hey, I’m open to more” and then it’s up to you to courageously move things forward.
Every single guy at the retreat had some interactions where they didn’t read between the lines to see the intimate opportunity right in front of them. For example:
- The girl who was at work and ignored her job to focus on him.
- The woman at the bar who was leaning on him and touching his jacket.
- The girl who begged him to follow her to the next bar, then continued texting him to do so.
- The woman at the beach who went out of her way to tell him how handsome he was.
In these situations, the women were (most likely) hinting at their romantic interest. The men’s default reaction was to assume these behaviors were only out of politeness. But if only they’d seen the signals and taken a risk, many of them would have probably gotten a kiss and even gone home with someone.
We ALL want to connect. We ALL want to feel desired. And in general, women know sooner than later whether or not they’re into you.
Read between the lines and rewrite your romantic story.
A sunset to remember
The final night, we all sat on the shores of La Jolla beach surrounded by dozens of seals, sea lions, and other people just watching the waves. We gazed upon a magnificent California sunset — the kind you see in movies and overly-edited Instagram posts.
I looked at the crew and we all smiled, nodding at each other for a job well done. Every guy had a great time, memorable social experiences, and made some real breakthroughs.
Looking back, we didn’t realize just how precious this moment was. It would be maybe the last time any of us got to be so close to other people in a beautiful setting, and close to each other. We had so many plans for more events and experiences together that are now on hold because of the Coronavirus situation. It feels bittersweet.
But if there’s anything to be hopeful about, is that the end of a sunset paves the way for a magnificent sunrise. Things may seem dark right now but the light will come, cast a glow upon our faces, and with it bring new adventures.
Thanks all around
A huge thanks to everyone on the Reconnected team. That includes co-founder Julian, who provided detailed lifestyle action plans for guys to build back at home.
Kristina, who roleplays essential social skills with guys and is my right-hand wingwoman at our social outings.
And Sarah, our tireless photographer who stops at nothing to make everyone look better than they’ve ever looked before in a picture.
I want to give a special thanks to Sydney Judge, our fashion stylist and newest team member at Reconnected. She not only provided a detailed group style session and one-on-one fashion consultations, she also went above and beyond what we’d seen before.
Prior to the retreat, she asked for every guy’s measurements. Then she went to a bunch of stores and bought an entire closet full of clothes that would fit the men perfectly. At the house, she set up a full pop-up shop experience.
She showed guys how to use just a handful of pieces to make dozens of outfits. The men got to model the clothing, discover new styles they wouldn’t have thought of, and best of all — buy them right there. What a brilliant idea!
The men got to have an expert bring clothes directly to them without the grueling experience of shopping, and they looked their best for their days out. Then if they need it, Syd has got their back remotely to continue helping them perfect their wardrobe.
And most of all, thanks to the guys for giving it their all and never giving up in the face of challenges. And for being the tidiest damn group we’ve ever had.
Note: This article was originally written for Reconnected — the human connection consultancy founded by Julian Reisinger and me.