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Read Pride and Prejudice, and you’ll realize that one component of dating is timeless: not knowing where you stand with the guy you like. Is it uncomfortable? Sure. But this is part of what makes the whole dating thing fun—tension, after all, leads to attraction.

Since the era of Jane Austen, a few things have changed though—and not necessarily for the better. Whereas “back then” (or even fifteen years ago) you may have had two, maybe three suitors, in the twenty-first century your options are practically unlimited—and only a few swipes away. The problem is, those choices aren’t just extended to you; they’re extended to guys, too. The result is simple: Knowing where you stand with a guy is more difficult than ever.

I make my living coaching high-character men who are looking to find love with high-quality women, so I can tell you with certainty that this fear exists on both sides of the gender aisle. Men and women both feel they’ve become fungible, as though people will reject us if we’re not cool enough—if we’re not that captivating, bright shiny object. The result is a lot of anxiety, a lot of aloofness, and, sadly, not a lot of dates.

I call this phenomenon “cool guy” or—in the case of women—“cool girl” syndrome. This common ailment makes women feel like they have the best of both worlds: They look amazing to men while being insulated from any real rejection. But this belief is a lie, albeit a pretty little one. Cool girls don’t attract men—or at least the men they want. They attract needy boys who play games.

Here are a few major cool girl traps to look out for.

Cool Girl Trap #1: Caring More About Attention Than Attraction

Don’t lie, ladies: I know you love attention (guys love it, too). But though there’s nothing wrong with feeling a little ego validation when a guy is interested in you, if you focus too much on that dopamine hit, you’re going to kill what made him intrigued to begin with.

The truth is that confident guys looking for a connection are not really impressed by girls who constantly demand to be chased. Don’t get me wrong—a little coyness isn’t a bad thing; whether they admit it or not, guys like a good pursuit. But a girl who isn’t doing her part to move the interaction forward by investing—even if only gradually—is going to find all the good guys moving on.

Men with self-respect value their time and care how people treat them. If they see that a girl doesn’t actually want to talk and is only engaging him for the attention boost, they’re not going to think the girl’s cool; they’re going to think she’s immature. And they’re going to peace.

If you want a guy, you need to participate in the attraction process. Text him on your own initiative; agree to meet up (and actually do it); and if you’ve just met in person at, say, a bar—stop running off with your friends whenever he opens his mouth. Games break trust and get old fast, and once trust is broken, good luck getting it back.

Cool Girl Trap #2: Showing Off (Especially with Other Guys)

Trying too hard to come across as the most desirable person in the room is a mistake many guys make when trying to attract women, but it’s not uncommon with the proverbial cool girl either. Yes, social proof sells, and a girl doing cool things with other cool and attractive people no doubt makes her seem like a catch. But being the girl with the crowd of guys around her—especially among guy friends—can be intimidating or even a turnoff for most men. Here’s why.

Men are generally the ones who initiate and drive romances; they are most exposed to rejection up front. Whatever you do, do not make this stage more difficult for them. I have to work on “approach anxiety” with easily 80 percent of my clients—it’s a big deal.

So, sure, make yourself (and your life) look attractive, but don’t go so far that you become unapproachable. Tone down the touchy-feely-ness with your guy friends (or if online, cut them out of the profile pictures), and balance out your party side or your “I’m awesome because I’m so busy all the time” side with a good dose of down-to-earth-ness. You’ll look less arrogant and way more appealing.

Cool Girl Trap #3: Never Making Eye Contact or Smiling

As we mentioned above, for better or for worse, guys are usually the ones who say hello first (and if you’re suffering from cool girl syndrome, they are probably doing it 100 percent of the time). But in truth, most romantic interactions are actually started by women before this initial hello. . . . They just do it indirectly, usually through their eye contact and smile.

One of the things I teach men to look for when they go out are signs of interest like these, so when they go to a bar to meet women, they’ll approach the girls who are genuinely open to new connections. But cool girls make my job (and the job of single men) more difficult because they often avoid giving any signals even when they are interested.

The bottom line is, if you want guys to talk to you (or online, message you), you need to make yourself look like you’re open to it. I know it’s tough to believe, but the vast majority of good men are simply terrified that a girl will think he’s harassing her simply by talking to her. The more available you make yourself, the more these guys (not assholes) will do the approaching—a win-win for guys and girls alike.

Being a cool girl might seem like a good way to protect yourself and get power over guys, but it’s really self-defeating. Romance requires risk, and girls who act above it all ultimately are the ones looking down at love, not experiencing it themselves. Don’t be a cool girl; be an approachable girl. That’s how you’ll get the guy.

Have you ever acted like a cool girl before? Let me know your relationship dilemmas in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Luisa Brimble