Hi, I’m Eric Charles, A New Mode’s “Ask a Guy” and co-author of the book “He’s Not That Complicated”.
Since 2009, I have been writing love advice, dating tips and relationship advice for women all over the world. I’ve delved deeply into the psychology of how to understand men, what men want in a relationship and what makes men commit, as well as how to deal with relationship problems of all shapes and sizes.
Since you’re on my personal profile page, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself.
I was born in 1981 on October 9th (which happens to be John Lennon’s birthday) in western Massachusetts. I was the second of four children in my family; two brothers and a youngest sister.
As a kid, I was pretty wild and out of control, to be perfectly honest. I was rambunctious, mischievous and fun-loving, and I was quite the handful for my parents.
My father was a quiet, stern and hard-working man. Growing up I was always terrified of my father… he was not the kind of father who would tolerate misbehavior or poor performance. As an adult, I’m tremendously grateful for my father being exactly who he is – he did his absolute best to make sure that I lived up to my full potential, he always made sure the family was OK and he always guided my siblings and I to do what was necessary to succeed in life and make good decisions. My father was, and still is, a great man.
My mother was a joyful, empathetic and extremely loving woman. As a kid, I always felt weird, like I didn’t fit in and that nobody really understood me. My mother always made sure I knew I was loved, understood and enjoyed for exactly who I was. I can say that my mother taught me how to love and how to care for other people. My mother dedicated her life to helping children who needed the help the most, and she poured her entire heart, mind and soul into raising my siblings and me. My mother was, and still is, a wonderful and amazing woman. A truly beautiful soul.
If I were to use one word to describe what growing up was like for me, the word would be “weird”. Like I said, I never felt understood or “normal”. I never felt like anyone “got me” and I was so hyper and spastic that it just magnified my idiosyncrasies and differences compared to other kids.
I wouldn’t say my childhood was unhappy, though. Up until when I became a teenager, it didn’t really matter to me that I thought I was different… or weird… or “not normal”. I was very good at entertaining myself and I would get lost in my own little world of the things I loved, no matter how unusual or weird those things were.
When I became a teenager, things shifted dramatically. As an adult, looking back on it, the trigger that changed everything was my new-found interest in girls.
While everyone else was going to school dances and dating, I was at home, playing video games or exploring computer programming (which was, and still is, one of my favorite passions). I didn’t really care about the world of dating until I was beginning high school and my friends all had girlfriends.
I felt like I was behind the curve… I felt like everyone had been dating for four years and I was starting at ground zero. Moreover, I felt embarrassed about how little I knew or understood about dating, and I tried to mask that shame, embarrassment and nervousness with all sorts of fun over-compensating behaviors to hide my lack of confidence.
Plus, on top of all that, it made me self-conscious. I started looking in the mirror and obsessing over my looks. That’s the last thing I’d want to admit to you as a guy, but it’s true… and to be quite honest, I felt incredibly uncomfortable with my appearance. As a teenager (and for many years after), I’d believed I was incredibly unattractive (repulsive even) and this made me all the more self-conscious.
So at that point in my life, I didn’t just not have a girlfriend… I felt I was the guy that women would look at and say, “Ewww… yuck!” or even laugh at the thought of me in any sexual/romantic sense.
The pain of this feeling cut me to the core… I felt humiliated. I felt alone. I felt totally unattractive, undesirable and unlovable. It honestly broke my heart and I felt I had to hide this very deep pain from the world.
All of these feelings were taking shape at the age of 14. While my dream at that point was to become a world-class programmer, I really wanted to figure out how to make girls like me. The humiliation, shame and pain I felt from feeling undesirable to women was eating me alive… and getting rid of that pain became an obsession.
So, at the age of 14, I bought my first books on psychology and communication. One was a book about body language, the other was Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends And Influence People”.
From that point on, I was reading every book on human psychology, relationships and communication that I could get my hands on. I read everything from the most typical relationship advice books to books that covered the paranormal and weird – things like hypnosis, Reiki, lucid dreaming, spiritual texts and all sorts of theories on human communication. I studied everything from pop-psychology to deep, extremely academic texts, papers and studies.
What I was really searching for was a key to love, attraction and what makes human relationships work. At the heart of it, I wanted to figure out what it was that made one relationship work and another relationship not work. And to be more specific and honest, I wanted to know why girls chose other guys and not me.
The fact that I had been a die-hard computer fanatic from when I was a kid gave me a unique perspective on how I looked at psychology, love and communication. I looked at human psychology as a sort of super-complex computer program that I was testing, analyzing and debugging.
I was constantly analyzing my observations and seeing what variables were present in an interaction and what ultimately ended up happening in a given interaction. I would journal constantly and spent a lot of time deeply contemplating what was really moving a relationship in one direction or another.
Basically, I was a huge psychology nerd… and I have no shame in saying that. Actually, it’s still my all-consuming passion and joy. Even to this day, I continue to be fascinated by human psychology.
At the age of 18, I left for college in Boston, MA, where I continued to be fascinated by psychology. The truth is, I still lacked any confidence in my ability to attract women at that point in my life and I was terrified to even try talking to any woman I was attracted to. I had built the issue up into such a complex in my mind that the thought of being rejected seemed devastating to me, so instead of actually trying to talk to women, I went deeper into studying psychology.
This went on through age 20, at which point I would make a chance connection that would alter the course of the rest of my life. At that time, I was posting in various men’s forums to understand what really attracted women.
I received a message from a guy who was in his early 40s, more than double my age. He invited me to a local group he ran, where men discussed what’s going on in their relationship and they worked out solutions to the various situations that would come up.
I was a little nervous and skeptical to meet up with a group of random guys, but I figured there was no harm in meeting up in a public place and seeing what I could learn.
When I showed up, I met the man who invited me (who happened to run these meetings) and sat at the table with everyone, listening to all of the questions the men would ask as well as the collective solutions the men would offer to one another.
The men who attended these meetings were in their late 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s. These men all lived around Boston, a notoriously highly-educated area, and came from a variety of backgrounds. Some of them were incredibly intelligent, well-spoken and educated with highly influential careers. Some of them were average Joe’s with blue-collar careers. Everyone brought something different to the table.
This was 2002 and these men were from a different era than the young men of today – talking about their problems, especially relationship problems, was not something typical of men from generation. I think the pre-dominantly high level of education allowed them to more easily bust out of their conventional roles, but even still, it was very clear how deeply these men were in pain and how much they felt that there was no safe place to discuss their thoughts, feelings and fears outside of this group.
I would say this is really where the seeds for my professional career were planted. Not only did it show me that I was not alone in my thoughts, feelings and struggles with women and relationships, but it exposed me to what men who were more than double my age experienced in their love life.
At that point, my only problem was getting over my crippling lack of confidence, feelings of inadequacy and confusion about women really wanted. These men were all in relationships, but they were facing difficult struggles.
Some of the men felt their relationship was falling apart with the woman they loved. Some of them felt their marriage was on a crash-course toward divorce and they were desperate to fix the problem. Some of them felt that the spark went out in their love life and that the woman they’re with no longer felt any love, desire or interest in him.
I would quietly listen to the questions and answers, silently taking notes. Eventually, the circle would come around to me and the leader of the meeting would ask what I was wondering about that week. I would excitedly rattle off my question in hopes that I would finally receive the pain relief I had been seeking for the past six years. The men would answer, I would hungrily scribble down notes on everything they recommended and then I would try out their suggestions in the real world.
After a few weeks, my love life was starting to change for the better. I was talking to women and they were enjoying our conversations. I was starting to go on dates. The future was beginning to look bright.
As the months went on, I became more successful in my dating life. I was 20 and I wasn’t looking to settle down yet with any one particular woman. I wanted to explore and figure out what I really wanted and liked in a relationship. All the meanwhile, I kept attending these meetings and sharing my experiences.
Lee, the leader of the meeting, told me that he was really glad to have me at the meetings. I was the youngest man there by far, but I was able to communicate my thoughts clearly and he appreciated my ability to spot patterns in human interaction and suggest how to improve the situation.
Gradually, I began proposing solutions to the men about how they could improve their relationships. Granted, I would only speak about the areas and dynamics that I had a firsthand experience of, but as my experience, knowledge and exposure increased, so did my ability to help guide the men who had burning questions… even men who had been married for 20 years… even men who were more than double my age.
I was significantly younger, but when I answered, I wasn’t answering as me, the young man in his early 20s… I was answering as someone who could see the psychology dynamics at play and what needed to change in order for them to get the result that they wanted. My answers weren’t about me – they were about helping the person asking the question get what they wanted and needed.
Several years later, Lee (the man who ran these men’s meetings) and I became close friends. I continued to attend these meetings, I continued to ravenously study psychology and I continued to do my best to help any guy that was dealing with a tough relationship problem. Over the next 6 years, that amounted to several thousands of hours of work and, under Lee’s mentorship, I grew in skill at helping these men with just about any relationship problem they could throw at me.
In my personal life, I had all sorts of experiences with a variety of women. I had flings. I had one night stands. I had long term, committed, exclusive girlfriends. And I had many, many ups and downs.
In 2005-2006, Sabrina and I went out briefly. It wasn’t meant to be and after several months, she and I broke off any romantic involvement and went our separate ways. In 2008, though, Sabrina called me out of the blue to see how I was doing.
At the time, Sabrina had been working as a freelance fashion writer. Her writing was extremely popular, but the media outlets she was writing for were paying her dirt. Randomly, I suggested that she and I start a site together. I said, “We could make it an online women’s magazine sort of thing. You could write about fashion, beauty, lifestyle… that sort of thing. And I guess we could have a section about relationships or something.”
On February 3rd, 2009, A New Mode was born and quickly became popularized as a fresh, bold new fashion and beauty site. In later February, we introduced the “Ask a Guy” feature, where women would write in questions and I would write an answer to their dating dilemma.
The different sections of the site did well, but Ask a Guy exploded into popularity. I was e-mailed regularly with praise, testimonials and interview requests. “Ask a Guy” quickly became the site’s premier feature, massively outweighing all of the other sections combined.
As of now, over 11 million women have read our “Ask a Guy” section and the audience is continuing to grow rapidly. On September 26th, 2012, Sabrina and I launched our first book, “He’s Not That Complicated”.
Now, in my early 30s, I have a beautiful life. I get to study and write about psychology all day long. I get to help people all over the world get out of a painful place and into a position where they can finally have the love life they’ve always wanted. And I finally solved the issues in my own love life that haunted me for many years in my own life, which gives me an indescribable feeling of happiness, gratefulness and freedom.
In reflecting back, I think when I started helping people with their relationships, I had the subconscious hope that if I just helped enough people solve their problems, I would someday find the solution to my own. Thankfully, that hope became a reality.
One question I occasionally get is, “If you’re a relationship expert, why are you single?”
I love that question. I love it because in my answer, I want to convey something very important that I want everyone reading this to understand.
Being a so-called “relationship expert” doesn’t mean you just get into a relationship or have a great, committed, exclusive partnership with someone.
What it really means is that you get to have choice, clarity and control in your love life. Instead of feeling helpless, confused and out of control, you feel like you have this area of life handled.
And so, my answer is, “I’m single because that’s what I feel like being right now. I’m enjoying myself right now and I love my life as it is. When I want to do something else, I have no doubt, fear or confusion as to how it will happen. I know without any doubt that I can have love, loyalty and partnership in my life when I want it.”
That is ultimately what I want to give anyone who reads my stuff. I want to give them joy, clarity and peace of mind in their love life. I want to clear up confusion and show them how simple relationships can really be, once they see what makes love work.
So, that’s my background story. Hope you enjoyed it.
On a final note, thanks for being here with me. I’m honored to be with you on your journey to have the kind of love you’ve always wanted in your life.
– eric charles
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