“When it rains, it pours,” a friend once told me. Sure, it’s a cliché, but it seemed appropriate at the time. In particular, we were discussing the alternating phenomenon of the “hot streak” and the “dry spell.” During a hot streak, you can seemingly do no wrong with the opposite sex (or the same sex if that’s your preference). You might not even need to do anything at all — the attention just feeds on itself. During a dry spell, however, you can seemingly do nothing right. The desperation just seems to cling to you — it, too, cascading (this time, though, in the exact wrong direction).
While there have been no official studies on the hot streak v. dry spell dichotomy, Kory Floyd, professor of communication at the University of Arizona, says the phenomena are supported by research about the relationship between confidence and success. “If I go on a successful date, I feel a sense of empowerment,” he explains. “That allows me to approach someone else about a date, whereas I might not have done that were it not for my successful date last week.”
Basically, success breeds confidence which breeds future success. Not to mention, confidence, in and of itself, is attractive. Case in point: Research on mate selection finds that for straight women, a sense of self-assuredness is one of the most attractive characteristic a man can possess, according to Gad Saad, a behavioral science professor at Concordia University in Montreal.
Somewhat relatedly, there’s also some research that a taken man — i.e., a guy permanently on a hot streak — is inherently more attractive to women. In fact, a 2009 Oklahoma State study finds women perceive men in relationships as more attractive than their single male counterparts, thus affirming the whole “all the good ones are taken” trope. A corollary is the wedding ring theory of male attractiveness, which says men are more attractive to women when they have a wedding band on their ring finger. (A hot streak recognized by both the church and courthouse.)
So you’re not just imagining it — when you’re hot, you’re hot.
Unfortunately, the same is true when you’re in the throes of a dry spell. A man who feels rusty dating-wise is less confident about making the first move and thus less likely to do so, according to Floyd. “The same thing can happen with loneliness,” he adds. “Loneliness can motivate us to get out and meet people, but the research says it often has the opposite effect — the lonelier we feel, the more we isolate ourselves.”
It’s also pungent. “Women are able to smell your lack of confidence from a mile away,” Saad says.
The question then becomes how to turn a particularly arid dry spell into a prosperous hot streak. It might seem like an impossible task, given the self-perpetuating nature of a dry spell, but a 2017 study by researchers from the Zhejiang University School of Medicine in China found that just one victory can instill a winning mindset that leads to more and more future success.
In other words, keep putting yourself out there — you’re one fun date away from changing your fate.
That or get a fake wedding band.