The "Q" Theory

Theories and Ideas on Human Gender Interrelations From a Male Perspective

Nem W. Schlecht
Started: April 1999
Finished: May 26, 2000


This paper is merely my attempt to try to assemble the theories and ideas that I've collected over the years in my own dealings and discussions with others. There is no scientific data behind this paper whatsoever. I have, however, informally interviewed many people, from both sexes, in an attempt to justify my theories and to find ways to explain the ways in which some things work. The discussion that follows is for the more timid male. Men that are successful already know all this stuff (subconsciously, maybe) and this paper will be of no help to them. However, if you are the shy type, a little socially maladjusted, or just generally confused about the fair sex, you should find the ideas below of help. Also, I hope you find it at least a little bit humorous.

I've debated with myself on how much of this paper applies to geographic regions. I know that it is very "Americanized" or "Westernized". But how much of it applies to those living in Maine, California, Texas, etc., I don't know. Hopefully, you will be able to at least glean some bit of knowledge and be able to apply what is covered in this paper in your own area. If not, I hope you at least enjoy reading some of the stories and observations. I've tried to organize this paper in a bottom-up approach. First covering some definitions and then some of my theories, then covering some practical applications.


The following list will clarify some of the terminology that I've used in this paper, to help generalize some situations:

The "Q" Theory

For many years I've held several ideals on what I should do and how I should handle myself when dealing with potentials. First off, I had the "true love" syndrome. This comes from watching "The Princess Bride" too many times. I believed that there was the perfect woman out there for me and all I had to do was to just find her. When I did, everything would just fall into place automatically. I wouldn't worry about when/if to call her or what I said. It would just be perfect. In hindsight, I see several problems with this.

First, I would completely ignore women that I didn't consider marriage material. Because of this, I didn't have a single date throughout my first years of college. This has severely limited my "first-hand" knowledge of actually dealing with a girlfriend (which became quite apparent later on when I actually did have a girlfriend). I should have dated anyone and everything that came my way. Sound stupid? It isn't. Date as much as possible with as many different women as possible. However, do not commit or let the relationship move too far forward with anyone that you don't really like. Yes, that means no hanky-panky (sex) unless you really like the person. For the most part, women consider sex to be a much more emotional experience than men do. Don't toy with people for your own self gratification, it'll come back to haunt you.

Secondly, one of my major problems was what I term the "committed guy" syndrome. When I did find a woman that I liked, I latched onto her like a leech. I wouldn't call or e-mail her everyday like a stalker, but I would shut off my potential-seeking "radar". Again, I would turn down possible dating experiences simply because I believed I had already found the one for me. I thought that if I concentrated my attentions on a woman, she would realize how committed I could be to her. However, doing this usually just freaks women out. They do want commitment, but not right away. I've learned that for a potential to become more attracted to you, you need to show only a certain amount of interest. It varies, but you want to show more interest than a friend, but less than somebody who is possessed. The key is to be interested, but not obsessive. If you approach a potential with the mindset of "let's see if we can be really good friends," she will most likely respond very well. Just make sure to make your move after a short time. If you don't act quickly enough, you'll fall into a "he's my good friend" role, and you'll have to move on to a different potential. Usually, acting like the "committed guy" just lands you in the "friend" zone (where you most likely don't want to be). Correcting the "committed guy" syndrome became one of the major ideas behind the "Q" theory.

The Theory in Detail

Women have an internal queue or list of the men that they are currently interested in. Let's say that a woman, named Suzi, has the following queue of male interests (Table 1). In this example, let's say that Suzi is currently dating Mark and they have even had the "boyfriend / girlfriend" discussion and they are going steady. John works with Suzi at the same grocery store. They will occasionally take breaks together and talk a lot during the day. John has even asked Suzi out on a couple of occasions (a decent, but not excessive, amount of persistence!), but Suzi always tells him that she is already taken. Tim is a friend of a friend, Gary is an old fling, Bill is a student that she is taking a class with, and "Unknown" is a guy that she has seen out at a bar several times but has never talked to him.

Suzi's Queue

1) Mark

2) John

3) Tim

4) Gary

5) Bill

6) "Unknown"

Table 1

At any rate, this list may or may not be a conscience one, but it exists nonetheless. Mark, her current man, is at the top of the list. Now suppose Bill comes up to Suzi in class one day and asks her for some help on a question. They talk, albeit briefly, and she is impressed by his thankfulness, boldness in asking her, and general intelligence level. She's also a little flattered that he asked her. By doing this, Bill is between John and Tim in her list. He has "moved up" in the queue (Table 2).

Suzi's Queue

1) Mark

2) John

3) * Bill

4) Tim

5) Gary

6) "Unknown"

Table 2

Now, Suzi and Mark have a big fight and break up. Apparently, Mark ate all of the grapefruit and didn't buy any new ones. Whatever - it doesn't really matter. Mark is now either down in the queue or has been completely removed from it (Table 3). The next time Suzi and John take a break together she mentions to him that her and Mark have broken up. This is most likely a cue to John that the door has opened up for him to ask her out. She may be more blatant and come out and tell John that she has broken up with Mark and that she would now like to go on a date with him. (Note: Suzi may be trying to piss off Mark by going out with somebody so soon. There or may not be a delay in the re-shuffling of the queue, depending on her feelings for Mark and how upset she is about whatever it was that they broke up over.)

Suzi's Queue

1) John

2) Tim

3) Gary

4) Bill

5) "Unknown"

Table 3

Again, this list may not be consciously kept is Suzi's head, but it exists at some level. Every woman has such a list. I think some guys may have a similar list in their head as well (or if you're really geeky you'll have it in a spreadsheet on your computer). However, guys tend to think much more along a single track. As a guy, you need to get in as many queues as possible. If you are only in one queue, you can be stuck in a rut ("committed guy" syndrome?) and get depressed if you never move up in that queue (or if you're removed from it). Be wary of removing yourself from all of the queues you are in. By doing so, you are removing your safety net. Remember, women will keep entries in their queue regardless of your (as a couple) current status as their safety net. There's no harm in being friendly with other women and keeping yourself in a few queues.

When you look at the current social rules behind dating, this all becomes obvious. Most women will not walk up to strange guys and initiate a conversation. Some will, but for the most part, the rules say that women should stand there and look pretty for the guys. Guys are supposed to walk up to women that they are attracted to and initiate the conversation and maybe even (eventually) ask them out. I think men have the short end of the stick, but I'm fairly confident that I have that opinion because of the fact that I'm a man. You've probably heard the phrase, "For men it's a chore, for women it's a choice." At its roots, this statement has some truth, but that doesn't necessarily mean that women have the upper hand in these situations. I'm sure all women have had drunken, stupid, weird (by their standards) people talking to them all the time. I see it all the time, and on occasion, I'm most likely one of those weird guys. The point is, if a woman is not approached by anybody that she finds interesting, her choice is then very limited. Maybe to the point where she feels she doesn't have a choice (at which point she will/should strongly consider approaching men to initiate conversation). All a woman can do (by societal rules) is to keep a list of those guys she finds most acceptable in her head and to try to persuade the name at the top to return her interest.

Now that we've discussed the "Q" theory in detail, let's delve into some other relationship theories that I have. Some of these are more believable than others, you be the judge of which theories you may be able to apply to your relationships.

Locality Theory

The Locality Theory is simple and can be seen on MTV all the time. If you take a bunch of strangers, throw them into a room and make them stay there for a long period of time, forcing them to have discussions with each other, sooner or later somebody in the group will hook up with somebody else. Why is this? It's simple. Whenever we meet a potential or a potential meets us, both of us use our internal evaluation system make an immediate decision on whether or not we like the person. Because of moods and the fact that everybody has good and bad days, this evaluation is almost always poorly made. By repeated contact, we average out our evaluations of people. Many times, this averaged evaluation lends towards liking a person more. By being in contact with somebody over an extended period, we get to see their ups and downs and know how they react to certain situations. This is one of the more sound reasons behind being persistent when you are trying to win over a potential.

The Jerk Theory

I believe Freud even said that women are emotionally masochistic. Obviously, there is much debate as to whether or not this is true, since many women disagree. However, it is generally accepted that many (but obviously not all) women like guys who are jerks or are "bad boys". I've never understood this, because I try to treat everybody with respect. However, I do believe that there is some truth to the Jerk Theory. I believe that women like to think that they can change men for the better and that there is no challenge when they meet a "nice guy." Women want to marry a "nice guy", but they want to date a "bad boy" and change him into the "nice guy", they don't want the "nice guy" right up front. So, what do you do if you are a decent guy? Well, I'm not going to suggest that you be a jerk, but that doesn't mean that you should be a pushover. You can be nice, but don't be too nice. Don't apologize for everything, buy all the drinks/food, buy excessive gifts, or go out of your way to be extravagant. Think niceness in moderation.

The Meat Market

The Meat Market is the typical term used to describe a gathering where men and women are in the same general area, drink excessively, and gawk at each other. At least, that's the way I view it. Usually, this is some sort of club or bar. It's very similar to a seventh grade dance, except everybody isn't in the school gymnasium lined up on opposite sides and everybody has a bottle of beer in their hands. If I sound condescending it is because I don't think that the "meat market" really works. How many friends have told you that you won't find a decent woman at the bar? There's a reason there. My only argument to this is that I'm a decent guy and I'm going to the bar, so shouldn't there be some decent woman at the bar? Of course there are, but the situation lends itself more towards couples and people that are already established as a couple. The beer is often helpful, but the loud music may or may not be a good thing. If you can dance well and enjoy it, it will be helpful. If you're more of a conversationalist, the music will definitely put a damper on your evening. However, the Meat Market is still one of the most populated areas for seeking potentials. Let's delve deeper into the Meat Market and let me explain some ideas and methods for operating at such places.

Placement Methods

There are several methods a person can use when frequenting such places, which I term as "placement methods", and are described below.


My friends and myself employ this first method, which I call the "wandering method". For the duration of the evening, we do not sit down at a table or at the bar. Instead, we walk around the place at least once, settle on spot and stand around there for about 10 to 15 minutes before we wander around again until we find another decent spot to stand for awhile. The reasoning behind this is that we can see pretty much every potential there. If you sit at a table you have to hope that potentials walk by you in order for you to simply see them. Also, if you already on your feet walking around it is much easier to actually walk up to a potential and talk with them. I'll admit, that some nights my feet do get a little tired, but if I do enough leaning against various poles/columns/railings it isn't too bad. We've had a varying degree of success with this method. One of the advantages is that if you are wandering around a lot it doesn't look conspicuous if you "run into" somebody repeatedly (on purpose). Another nice thing is that you can "wander away" and keep your eye on them from a distance, perhaps to see if they are already taken. The wandering method is a must if you are by yourself. Often times when I'm out by myself, I'll run into other solo wanderers. I usually don't talk to them, but at least I'm standing by somebody else so it doesn't look like I'm totally alone. I think it is a good idea to go out by yourself (if you are with friends, go off by yourself) and wander. If you run across a bold woman, she will probably not come up to you if you are hanging out with your friends. However, if you are by yourself, she might. Also, it is a good idea when wandering for one of you to take turns lagging behind the others. The one lagging behind the others should keep a lookout to see if any potentials are looking at the others. When a guy is interested in a woman he is quite obvious to other guys (spinning head, pointing at the women to make sure his friends see her). However, women are more subtle. The "lagger" should look for smiles and women talking to their friends. I'm still working on this, as it is difficult to tell with such subtle signs.

Sit and Chat

Another placement method is what I call the "sit and chat". For this, you usually need several friends along. If the place is very busy, it may be impossible to acquire a sitting place, in which case you'll have to go to the wandering method. The theory behind sit and chat is make sure that you are having fun. Often times, a group of people having a good time will be loud and attract attention of those passing by. You have to hope that potentials will notice how much fun you are having and hopefully they'll linger near your table. However, don't expect much success with this unless you are motivated. Potentials will not come up to your table and talk to you unless they either know one of you are they are extremely bold.

Friend of a Friend of a Friend...

The last placement method relies on how many friends you have that have girlfriends with friends (and doesn't necessarily rely on the Meat Market). The hope is to interact with these friends so much that eventually you find a potential within the group of friends that the friend's girlfriend has. Complex enough? The theory is similar to what I describe above as the "Locality Theory". This also has the advantage that your friend knows you and hopefully you are friends with the your friend's girlfriend. This way, they should put in a good word you. However, I would suggest that you not let them try to "set you up" with one of them. Too much weirdness will remain if things don't work out. All you need to do is to just get together and go out and do something. If there is an interest, something will happen, with no need of any further help (or interference) from your friend.

Obtaining Procedures

The following is a partial step-by-step guide on what you need to do to approach and talk to a potential. As always, some personal preferences will alter the suggestions below. For example, you may feel more at ease when out with friends. You may like going out with friends, but you may not want them with you when do your "walk up."

Eye Flirting

When you come across a potential, whether you at a club, bar, or anywhere else where people tend to stay in a single spot, you can try to do a little eye flirting. The idea is simple, look at the potential and wait for them to make eye contact. Make sure that you are smiling. This is the very first impression that you will make, so try to be at least somewhat happy. Hopefully, when eye contact is made, the smile will be returned. If it is not, try not to look at the potential anymore, they're probably not interested. You may want to try a second look, just in case, but if the smile is not returned you may start to seem a bit spooky to her. If the smile is returned, you're probably good to go ahead with the walk up, but you may want to smile and look a couple more times, to make sure the potential is smiling at you. As always, make sure of the surroundings as well. The potential may have smiled back, but there may be some other guy standing right next to you. Also, she may already have a guy with her and she's just playing around.

The "Walk Up" (Initial Contact)

I've heard from many sources that what you say when you first walk up to somebody really doesn't matter. However, do not use cheesy pick-up lines like "What's your sign?" or "Say, those pants would look great on the floor beside my bed.". Here are some good suggestions for initial lines:

What you say initially really doesn't matter, but it's the thing most people flounder on. If you didn't have the opportunity to eye flirt you have to measure the response you get. For example, one time when I was out I went up to a potential and told her that she had really cool glasses. She just said, "Thanks." This was a clue to go away. If she wanted to talk to me she would have added something else like, "Thanks! They're my favorite ones, too." I like doing the complementing thing. Women like it when you pay attention to them and notice things about them. I also like the "first grade" line. I grew up in a small town, I know everybody that was in my first grade and I'm also pretty sure none of them live anywhere near me. But, it makes a nice conversation opener and often times you will be able to obtain where the potential is from. Again, any opener works, because you usually jump topics drastically after the opener (like, "Are you having fun tonight?" or "What are you doing later?").

When it's good, it's good. When it's bad, it's bad. (What you say)

When talking with a potential, many guys get very nervous. This is only natural, unless you are extremely confident, in which case you probably already have a girlfriend and don't need to be reading this paper. The bar scene is nice because a beer or two will usually loosen you up (don't overdo the beer, though). Again, approaches will vary depending on your personality. I like to joke around a lot and I can think of jokes quickly. Some people don't have enough situational wit to pull this off. Usually, you can ask a question to take the conversation in a certain direction. For example, if you ask them how they are doing and they say, "Good," ask them what good things happened to them today, etc. You can also ask if they are having a good time while they're out, if they've had a good week, where they go to work and/or school, how work and/or school is going, etc. The important thing is this: if she likes you, whatever you say will usually only improve the situation; if she doesn't like you, everything you say will usually only make it worse. If you are getting one word responses, it is going bad. Tell her it was nice meeting her and get out of there. Staying will only make it worse. However, if the conversation is going good, you shouldn't have any worries. Just make sure to not let any lulls last very long.

The Call Back

One of the questions I've asked myself and had others ask, is how long to wait until you call somebody up? You've gotten the number or made contact, but that is just the initial step. The call back is very important and must be properly timed. The most common answer to the question is 2-3 days. Any sooner might seem a bit impatient or desperate. Any later and you will seem disinterested to the potential. If you wait more than 4 days, forget about it. She will have given up on you by then and if you do call her after 4 days, she'll probably be upset at you for waiting so long. There are special circumstances where you may want to call earlier or later. If you were on a date and it was obvious that you both had a wonderful time you may want to call her up the next day to thank her for the good time and to just chat in general.

One important note on the call back. If you were on a date and you did not have a good time, you should still call after two days and tell her that although you think she is a nice person, you don't feel there is any chemistry (or whatever as the situation may be). If you want to be friends with her say so. If not, do not make the proposition that you want to be friends. Honesty, as a general rule, always applies.

I want (Grand)Children!! (Outside Pressures)

On several occasions my mother has told me how much she wants grandchildren. I find this especially distressing since I am the youngest of the three children my parents had. Whether pressures come from your parents, friends, or co-workers, you need to try to ignore them. If you are like most people, you don't know exactly what kind of a potential you want (you probably have a general idea, though). If you're not sure about what you want, how can anybody else know? Go with your gut instincts and try to go outside your own personal boundaries. If you do, and you're not comfortable, you will most likely fail in your attempts to meet potentials.


Hopefully, you have come to some sort of a conclusion about all this on your own. Don't be so picky about who you'll date or talk to. Sometimes they're not what you want physically. Sometimes they're not what you want mentally. But how many of us truly know what we want? Only by making sure of what you don't want will you know what you really want! Also, you need to go and practice. Practice on strangers, not co-workers or friends. Practicing means you'll make mistakes. Expect them and try not to repeat them the next time around. Also, I will guarantee you that you will feel better if you go out and at least try to talk to somebody. It is always better to get shot down by a woman than to never even try.

I'd also like to take a moment to suggest to the reader some of the books by John Gray, like "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus." Although he has come out with a ton of books all related to this best seller in an attempt to make a sole living off of one idea, the books are generally of use. I've ready "Men/Mars, Women/Venus" and it has given me a lot of ideas on how to act around the opposite sex based on the insights it provides on how women think and act. My own mother was astonished that a man actually wrote the book and wondered where he found out all of the "women" secrets.

There are other good books on the topic that are available, but many of them are crap. Also, many books on being more social or getting more friends apply to finding and obtaining potentials.



Suggested Reading:


The "Q" Theory

Theories and Ideas on Human Gender Interrelations From a Male Perspective

  1. Introduction

  2. Definitions

  3. Theories

    1. The "Q" Theory

    2. The Locality Theory

    3. The Jerk Theory (??)

  4. The Meat Market

    1. Placement Methods

      1. Wandering

      2. Sit and Chat

      3. Friend of a Friend of a Friend...

    2. Obtaining Procedure

      1. Eye Flirting

      2. The "Walk Up" (Initial Contact)

      3. When it's good, it's good. When it's bad, it's bad. (What you say)

      4. The Call Back

  5. I want (Grand)Children! (Outside Pressures)

  6. Conclusion

  7. Appendix

    1. Contributors

    2. Suggested Reading