How to Test-Drive Friends and Irritate People



Sometimes you need to make friends and influence people. Other times, you should just test drive them and push their buttons.

The art of irritation can, in fact, be just as valuable as the art of persuasion. How so? Let’s start with the problem: people are good liars and actors… up to a point.

What if it were possible to fast-forward relationships, whether with new friends, business partners, or romances? To get past the honeymoon facade of niceties and see their true tendencies underneath all it all?

I’ve been experimenting with methods of “removing the mask” so-to-speak, and it can be done. Relationships cost a premium of attention and time, and I—like most–want people in my life whose real personalities and motives will uplift and strengthen me instead of drain and demoralize me.

Catching bad apples early begins with recognizing a truism:

Adversity doesn’t primarily build character—it reveals it…

Therefore, by putting someone under pressure or in an adverse situation, you can pull back the covers and get a glimpse of what’s in store a few weeks or months down the line.

The little things are the big things. Josh Waitzkin, 8-time national chess champion (and the subject of the film, “Searching for Bobby Fischer”) explores the surprisingly accurate cross-referencing of behavior in his book, The Art of Learning:

“As I moved into my late teenage years, many of my tournaments were closed, invitational events where ten to fourteen very strong players gathered for two-week marathons. These were psychological wars… It was during these years that I began to draw the parallels between people’s life tendencies and their chessic dispositions. Great players are, by definition, very clever about what they show over the chessboard, but, in life’s more mundane moments, even the most cunning chess psychologists can reveal certain essential nuances of character. If, over dinner, a Grandmaster tastes something bitter and faintly wrinkles his noes, these might be an inkling of a tell lurking. Impatience while standing on line at the buffet might betray a problem sitting with tension. It’s amazing how much you can learn about someone when they get caught in the rain! Some will run with their hands over their heads, others will smile and take a deep breath while enjoying the wind. What does this say about one’s relationship to discomfort? The reaction to surprise? The need for control?”

Here are a few options for doing your own behavioral cross-referencing with a new potential friend, partner, or mate. All of them happen naturally over time, and the concept is to pick/create circumstances here and there to get an advanced read. Before you label me a bastard, read the whole post:

1. Meet them for dinner or lunch at an appointed time, and indicate upon their arrival that you made a mistake and set the reservation for 30 minutes prior. See how they respond to the change in plans. (Testing: how they contend with mistakes on your part)

2. Same as 1, but tell them that the reservation was accidentally made for 30 minutes after their arrival. Alternatively, travel with them and purposefully orchestrate things so that you miss a bus or train. Obviously, you then fix the problem and cover costs. (Testing: how they deal with waiting and unexpected changes in plans)

3. Take them to a restaurant with good food but bad service. (Testing: how diplomatically they contend with and resolve incompetence, which is the default mode of the universe)

4. Invite them to an event or function and then profusely apologize when you realize you’ve forgotten your wallet. Offer to repay them later or treat them the next time out. (Testing: how they relate to money issues. Wonderful people sometimes turn into irrational monsters as soon as even a few dollars are involved. It drives me crazy to keep a running ledger of who owes whom for a few dollars here and there, especially in social settings. Repaying the favor is mandatory, but dwelling on differences of pennies is tiring.)

5. Take them somewhere extremely crowded where they’ll be inadvertently bumped, preferably where they are exposed to people of different races and of lower socio-economic classes. Large outdoor markets are good, as are subways during rush hour. (Testing: biases against specific races and social classes, which are usually fast to emerge after there is any physical contact.)

6. Explore the most controversial topics until you find something the two of you disagree on. Ask them to explain why people have the opposing viewpoint. I use this mostly for potential romantic partners and potential travelmates. (Testing: how well they listen and both consider and summarize points-of-view or feelings opposite their own. I always look for both friends and girlfriends who fight well. Not in the physical sense, but in the intellectual and emotional sense. If I travel with one of my best friends for even a week straight, there will be times when we butt heads and fight. It’s inescapable. In those cases, are they civil and good at listening and finding compromises? Good at identifying common ground, picking their battles, and laughing off the unimportant? Or, do they lose control of their emotions and make hurtful personal attacks or generalizations? Do they use guilt or other negative emotions instead of taking time to discuss things logically? Hold grudges?)

Needless to say, I’m not recommending you cram all of these into a single meeting (not unless you want a punch in the mouth), but the premise is simple: life is both too long and too short to suffer through toxic relationships. The sooner we have an accurate read on someone, the better.

Rather than hoping for the best and getting trapped in relationships you are unwilling to end due to guilt and inertia, you can test drive using a few specific situations and get a taste of what’s in store. I realized how revealing the above scenarios were while traveling, as they came up organically with the inevitable mix-ups and occasional bouts of bad luck. The question then became: can you go about glimpsing someone’s true personality in a more reliable way? That said, there is no need to orchestrate bad service at a restaurant, for example, if you can achieve the same end doing something fun but uncontrolled. A good long weekend of getting lost with someone will reveal most of the character you need to see. Just ensure you expose them to adverse conditions or awkward situations.

Most people spend more time planning their weekends than their relationships. Don’t make that mistake. You are the average of the 5 or so people you associate with most.

Choose wisely.

[Postscript: There have been some very strong comments on this post! Could it be that I'm using this entire post to see how people respond to a controversial viewpoint? Hmmm... :) To see my responses, just search ### in the comments by using Ctrl+F.]


Odds and Ends: 4HWW in more than 25 countries!

I just received the Dutch version of the 4HWW! Yay! Can anyone translate the subtitle and quote? “Leid een rijk leven zonder veel te doen” and “Geweldig! Dit boek zal je leven veranderen. -New York Times” Here is the Dutch cover and the other 24 publishers, in case you want to find someone who’s working on your language or country:


Arabic- Jarir Bookstore

Brazil- Editora Planeta Do Brasil

China- Hunan Literature & Art Publish

Denmark- Borgens Forlag A/S

Estonia- Eesti Ekspressi Kirjastuse AS

Finland- Basam Books

France- Village Mondial

Germany- Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH

Holland- De Boekerij BV

Hungary- Bagolyvar Kiado

Indonesia- OnRead Books Publisher

Israel- Babel Publishing House

Italy- Cairo Editore

Japan- Seishisha Publishing

Korea- Bookie Publishing Company

Latin America- Grupo Editorial Planeta SAIC

Lithuania- Eugrimas

Poland- MT Biznes

Portugal- Casa das Letras / Noticias

Romania- Minerva Pub House

Russia- Dobraya Kniga Publishers

Spain- RBA Libros S.A.

Taiwan- Crown Publishing Company, Ltd

Thailand- Bliss Publishing Co., Ltd.

Turkey- Inkilap Kitavevi Yayin

UK- Vermilion

Posted on: November 15, 2007.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

190 comments on “How to Test-Drive Friends and Irritate People

  1. Push the envelop. Get personal. Ask unexpected questions. Don’t allow dodging. Repeat if necessary. Don’t be intimidated or embarassed.

    You don’t develop relationships walking on eggshells. You don’t get the girl by not standing out from the rest


  2. Thanks for the “testing” ideas, Tim. It’s unbelievable how few people actually have a grasp of people-skills, and how important those skills really are in the workplace. I would be terrified to have a customer be put off by a coworker or employee because of something as preventable as bad behavior or a misunderstanding of the appropriate protocol.


  3. WOW.
    Lookit ‘em reactions!
    It’s like watching a herd of gnu migrating. Sort of head down and charge forward :)

    If nothing else your post certainly polarised a few people…
    My take on it is that i sort of do a lot of these type of tests (not as elaborate and not as time-consuming) in many little ways. (I also happen to think it’s a genetic thing that Venetians in general will do more than other people, except the Irish who also do it…) my view is that those who take offense at this type of behaviour are kind of…”weak”. That is unable to handle emotional issues with a certain detachment.

    Keep in mind that personally if the response I get is a punch in the mouth as Tim put it, I might not like it, but I wouldn’t necessarily think badly of the other person. Their response or reaction can be just as off-the wall as my “testing” them by asking some really inappropriate question, or suggesting a weird change of plans or whatever.

    My measure of people is more often linked to how boring or not they are. As a result I know some real freaks of nature, but they are interesting freaks, and more entertaining for it. Now…finding interesting, crazy-yet-weirdly-stable, nymphomaniac-yet-loyal, hot looking and madly in love with you kind of freak…well..that’s a big mission and I understand Tim’s dilemma if that is what he’s still busy doing.

    I think testing boundaries from the get go is good…it immediately sorts timid personalities from stronger ones and that is important to do when you know which type you prefer as a certain friend in a certain context.

    Unlike Tim though, I am not too concerned if people think I am a bastard. Way I see it I can’t be held responsible for my mom not being married way back then, hahaha!


  4. Tim,

    You’ve mentioned “Minerva Publishing House” as the editor of your book for Romania – however I searched their site ( – hope I’ve got it right) and have not found the book – do you know if it was already published, or it’s just “in the planning”? Thanks!



  5. Why are people saying these are harsh tactics? Like these are the worst of all things that can happen in life? The fact is that these are things that happen naturally ALL THE TIME to people, but the problem lies in the fact that you never know when they’re going to happen, so it’s hard to gauge peoples’ reactions (i.e. IT MAY TAKE A LONG TIME, too long for some people to invest–waste), which is the reason for the test.

    I’ve also seen the word “manipulate” being thrown around a lot. Manipulate is a strong word, and sure, this may be “manipulation,” but it’s very small in comparison with other types of manipulation (marrying people for money, taking advantage of a nice guy, leading people on for sex, etc.)

    Right on for a great article, dude.


  6. Bravo for having high standards and a refusal to settle! Its tragic that so many people don’t pay attention to the warning signs and then wonder how they end up in a dysfunctional, draining marriage. Communication is key and stress a great factor in evaluating a person’s character. Although I do have to say that flexibility and patience are also very commendable qualities.

    Lately, I’ve noticed that some of my friendships are “coming to a close”. I can appreciate the person but realize that not everyone is in the same stage of life. Staying in a situation that’s not working doesn’t serve our potential or capacity (and the other person’s).

    I even told my mom that I would never travel with her again after our last trip in 2005. Sorry ma. This doesn’t mean I don’t see her. I just refuse to travel long distances or internationally. Yes, blasphemy. I know.


  7. Heya Tim,

    An interesting post. I’m into multiday endurance adventure sports, many of which are team sports. 3am, second night, sleep deprived, hypoglycaemic and cold… you learn interesting things about people.
    I always tell people new to the sport never to race with best friends, long time friends, colleagues or partners. It is sometimes better to know and enjoy the company of these people in your common environment as the stresses of the sport may reveal a side you won’t like. Friendships have been ruined.

    Another point is that “unfavourable” traits in friends and partners do occur in situations unorchestrated by you. The main thing is that when that trait shows up in glowing neon lights, it is up to you to deal with it. That trait is part of who they are and either you can live with it, or you can’t. They won’t change (and nor should they because it is who they are). Your call. They will probably not see anything wrong with their behaviour if you bring it up.

    So, your options are to either avoid being put in that situation again with that person (like putting a bandaid on the underlying issue) or you terminate the relationship; the latter is likely to happen at some stage because those same situations that brought out the trait you so very much dislike will come up again…and again.

    I don’t forsee myself orchestrating situations to put friends or partners under stress; but what I do need to do is to act faster on my reservations instead of willing them away.


    • ok you finally voiced something that I have not seen come up in this whole discussion… and to which I would add, when we see those traits of the other person we can also learn how to deal with them, you know just as another possible way of seeing this interaction.


  8. Well….. according to Eben Pagen and many others, women “test” all the time. Why should only women get the nod. And I would have to agree.As for your methods, I can appreciate the insight gained and feel that there is value in what you are presenting while at the same time there might be room for why someone might have a need to be a super-productive over achiever – it’s all about me and never about anybody else incorporated -that must be jet-setting around the world to experience the most of life every living nano -second- not to miss a bit of it- type of individual…… any fear there? If the fits, so be it.

    This whole thing may just come down to intent. If it is done to unmask a character flaw fine.( and we all have them- for life they say- hardwired).. but keep in mind it take 2 to dance while there is the one who is “behaving”………..there is the one who is experiencing and reacting to someones behavior. The test goes both ways- lessons on both sides of the movie
    peace out


  9. Fascinating article!!! I haven’t read all the comments (I don’t have the time) but glanced through a few and some people appear to be pissed off about being treated as lab rats… Well, I think life presents “tests” all the time anyway so the issue here is really about observation and judgement. Right?

    “How to observe people in stressful situations and predict their behavior in longterm relationships”? These tests make perfect sense and I think I already do this. Waaaaaay too often! When shit happens in my relationships I think to myself – yeah I saw this coming on our first date… :)

    I think these tests would also be a good gauge for how the “tester” responds to the tested’s perceived “character flaws”. Like, how do I judge? How nitpicky am I ? Do I have the same “flaws” that I don’t notice in myself?

    Sometimes it’s not a black and white decision whether to keep or to drop a person from your life. I like the 3-hour hike idea… preferably in a city rather than out in nowheresville.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Another trick that deserves a place in your article:

    8. suggest to play a game (e.g. tennis) and see how well they take a loss (many people will change like you wouldn’t believe it: protest, cheat, contest the rules and what not to avoid losing). This tip comes from Theo Kars (Dutch writer).


  11. Hi Tim,
    I wanted to Facebook this entry, but didn’t see a FB icon at the end of your post. Hoping you’ll add it in.
    Oh, I was having dinner and turned off my brain, watched Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift on HD tv tonight. I kept thinking how the lead character and you were similar, how you’re Americans in Japan trying to fit in. Major difference is, you look much much better than that dood. :)
    I think you live somewhere in the ‘Bay area. I’m in Sacramento, and visit my brother in the ‘Bay once in a while. I hope to bump into 1 day. Excuse me if I drop to my knees and kiss your feet. Thanks for improving my life.
    No need to respond. Keep up the great work!
    Dr J


  12. Love it! Not sure I’d necessarily try any of your suggestions out on people but I agree that life is too short for ‘toxic relationships’. Where’s the harm in finding out sooner rather than later that you’re not going to want to take a relationship further?


  13. Tim,

    Interesting concept! While I have not manufactured situations in order to test, I am hyper observant when I am on a date or considering becoming friends with one of my acquaintances. For the rest of the post I will use the word “subject” to describe either a potential mate or friend.

    If one is having dinner with a subject and they begin to discuss how they have been wronged by person x, then continue on to talk about how they will seek their revenge on person x, you can place a winning bet that they will eventually become vindictive towards you if you ever wrong them.

    If a subject is rude towards a stranger for a mistake, you had better consider how they will be even more rude towards their friends whom they are comfortable with. For some reason we all live in a dream world thinking that those whom we are most intimate with treat us the best. In reality, it is the other way around. The more familiar and secure one feels in a relationship, the more they are willing to abuse or take advantage of the bond of friendship or love. You probably think I am nuts for saying this but look at how caustic marriages become! During the honey moon all of the quirks were “cute.” There was rarely a sour word between the new couple. After fifty years of marriage however, both parties have become familiar with one another and the quirks are no longer cute. I have been around some married couples that really say some awful things to one another when they would never say such things to a perfect stranger.

    I think the important thing to take from this concept is that if subjects have destructive people skills or make poor decisions, you must get away from them quick! The decisions of friends and lovers directly affect you!

    To illustrate the previous statement I will share a story with you. I was looking at houses once and decided to take my girlfriend with me. One house happend to have a beehive in the wall. I saw the bees because I heard a loud buzzing sound. I looked up and couldn’t believe how many bees were sitting on the wall that was functioning as a hive. I immediately walked away from the area and told my girlfriend NOT to go towards that side of the house because of the danger. Wouldn’t you know it, she began walking over there! I was very honest with her and said, “if you get swarmed by the bees, I’m not going to help you out.” She sobbed and whined about what a jerk I was and how I didn’t love her. Let us be realistic here. If I warn someone of impending danger and they do not heed my warning, why then should I stick around to deal with the after effect of pain and suffering?

    I am a proponent of many acquaintances and few friends. Most people you meet do not have strong character or manners. When you find someone with good manners and strong character, be their friend, even if your personalities don’t naturally fit. They will never get you into trouble, they will always be there for you and you can develop a healthy relationship in which mutual respect sets the ground work for interaction.


  14. @Justin. Great post! The most common factor in all of these situations is a complete lack of personal responsibility (or blame). It’s obvious if someone is unwilling to be accountable for their actions and choices.

    As far as marriage goes, your partner will always have some quirk or habit that won’t exactly be pleasing, but the deciding factor may be whether you can compromise and communicate respectfully. It’s easy to focus on negative things (which snowball very quickly) but it’s also a choice to remain focused on the positive. Many people now-days see relationships and marriage as a trial period and it makes it very easy to walk away when things get tough. Everyone I know that is still married never gave themselves that option.


  15. Tim!!

    I loved this article, and am thoroughly amused by some of the less than savory responses. I thought of a parallel to meeting people in nightclubs and bars.

    The people I meet in nightclubs are usually not dateworthy, but they run these tests too! Women will always throw something out there like “buy me a drink” and its the same principle. Attractive women have soo many guys coming up to them, these lines screen the submissive, unconfident, validation seeking and slow witted ones instantly. Its a bit more cruel and unrefined than the situations you stated haha.

    happy travels!



  16. Is it sad that I agree with thisarticle, basically my philosophy is to never coddle people. If you disagree say so, you dont have to be a complete asshole, just be honest and dont try to cover up your own character. If you want a long term relationship to work out you also have to know where you are going to rub the other person. then again on the other end you have to jump in at some point and go for it, even if you arent sure if it will work out.

    Also mundane observations are helpful, I can sometimes tell how a person is just by how they stand in a certain place.


  17. I don’t actually understand how people found these tips so intensely “cruel” and awful and deceiving. It’s not like you’re actually screwing someone over, you’re nicely taking them out to dinner, happened to realize that it was 30 minutes later, will probably find something else fun and romantic to do to kill the time and then go to dinner. Calm down! You’re not screwing them of money and seeing how they react. It’s just a simple little scenario to see whether the date would freak out and act blatantly annoyed about the extra 30 minutes you’ll godforbid have to waste before eating. It’s a completely acceptable tiny problem, just so that you don’t go falling in love with a personality that turns out to not be real.

    I completely understand, because I dated a guy who was the most charming adorable thing for the first month or two during that happy honeymoon stage, and all of a sudden after 3 months little raging fits would pop out the second things went wrong. Objects flying and all. Turned out he was a complete brat who was good at hiding it in the beginning, and he would have been the perfect person to test these sort of scenarios on and I wouldn’t have had to waste 4 months on Mr. Anger Management. We actually got kicked out of Victoria’s Secret because he had a fit in the store about not being allowed in the dressing rooms. Thank you for the tips, it appears I need to tweak my psycho radar a bit and these will definitely help.


  18. Hi tim,

    “Leid een rijk leven zonder veel te doen” and “Geweldig! Dit boek zal je leven veranderen. -New York Times”

    the dutch to english translation is: Lead a rich life without doing much and GReat! This book will change your life NYT.

    Thanks for the post
    greetings kees.


  19. @Tim
    :in reponse to Tim’s last comment
    “From a recent email from a friend:

    I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things:

    a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

    I would up the ante on this one: a SNOWY day, (rain shmain! lol), ditto on the luggage and elderly…Christmas tree lights though? How about losing your keys or something?

    I think if one is getting just as bent out of shape as their tree lights…that’s a sure fire sign of insanity.

    Hell just waiting in line at the DMV is a test of character and emotional fortitude.


  20. Tim,
    I enjoy the post. I have a sneaking suspicion many people are assuming you set out to outwardly perform these actions all on a first date and that seems to stir them some-what.

    The way I’ve interpretted your post, and I’m hoping I am correct, is that these are a rough guide to common situations that could arise and you’re simply offering advise for said situations to be illustrated by example. Which I think is fine, as I’m sure there’d not be many if any other ways of detailing such a thing.

    That said, I’m sure you’re not incinuating that all of these generic examples of methods, once implemented into your own style to trigger specific reactions, are bombarded onto the subject in a matter of a couple of days. More so, over the course of say a month or two and in the most subtle ways possible.

    More over, the idea isn’t to go out of your way to push the subject (and I know it sounds horrible referring to another human being you’re getting to know as a ‘subject’ but it’ll work for now) into key situations or reactionary circumstances, but rather more subtly without making any changes what so ever to your regular routine, usual go-abouts or even personality. Something as small as the slightest change in facial expression alone can tell you alot in particular situations. I myself tend to test people when I meet them, but it’s by no means obvious in any way shape or form.

    Conversational triggers, wording in your dialogue, body language, facial expressions. Just simple, little things that can help you pick up on microreactions. These are generally pretty intuitive upon the first few greetings, but come a longer length of time your methods (interpretted in one’s own way and taken on board in addition to their own ways) I can see heding some interesting results if done correctly.

    Cheers mate.


  21. The art of baking

    Recipe – The Tim Ferriss Date Cake

    ingredients for the cake:
    1tbsp of pure adrenalin
    2 healthy appetites for life
    1 mixture of dates, amusement and nuts (intuition may be used as a substitute)
    5g of organic feminine/masculine enigmas soaked in beauty, intelligence and wit.
    2 fruity unique individuals
    a pinch of mischief
    2 cups of intellectual and emotional stimulation
    1 tsp of a good raising agent
    several elements of surprise

    for the icing:
    a few drops of concentrated charisma essence
    2 feisty intriguing spirits
    500mls of happiness and patience
    1tsp of good quality conversation
    1 large cup of laughter and quirkiness
    the zest of 2 creative adventurers
    sprinkle with kindness and compassion

    preheat the relaxed ambience to the desired temperature.
    Combine all ingredients together and sift in generous handfuls of provocativeness. Add equal amounts of pressure and awkwardness, being careful not to thicken too much. If mixture is a little stiff gradually fold in more fun and humour to soften. Stir gently until s/he is slightly melting. Pour into a flexible baking dish. Bake in the oven for 40minutes, by this time your delicious dessert will have risen.

    Take her/him out and s/he should be springy if lightly touched. Allow to cool. For those with a predilection to sweetness – cover with icing.

    Best served with a genuine portion of trust and flavoured bountifully with passion. Enjoy!

    This dish Does not contain additives, preservatives or colourants.
    Provides 50% of the recommended daily laughter allowance and is fortified with added goodness.
    Not suitable for people who have an intolerance for the unknown.
    No X or Y chromosomes were harmed in the making of this cake.

    May contains traces of nuttiness and can be used as part of a healthy attitude to life.


  22. I can see why people conceive your methods as manipulation :) I couldn’t apply them either, as they involve some lying. On the other hand, one can argue that it is in the interest of all parties to get to know whether the relationship is going to work out or not.

    In my experience with ‘regular’ friendships (no idea about relationships) it helps when you listen more, rather than talk yourself. People give away most of their character when you let them talk long enough. They will talk about their bad/good memories, about situations they found themselves in and how they reacted, about problems with their friends and family etc.

    With each story you will find out how they perceived things, what they did, what party they supported in a conflict and why, etc. So, it is not even necessary to generate situations .. you only have to indicate the possibility of a situation and see how they react.

    Another method I use is to observe them when they talk to their family or friends .. either in real or via phone. The tone and vocabulary a person uses when talking with people
    – they depend on,
    – that are depending on him/her,
    – are much older or much younger,
    tells a lot about the way you, your family, and your friends will be treated after some time.

    To say that one has high standards may sound pompous at first, but in fact, everyone’s standards are high (= important to them). Only some people care about intellectual properties and prefer peace of mind over anything else and others care about … well, other things.


  23. Tim mentioned traveling as a context for testing relationships. I can only underscore the value of traveling when you want to “fast-forward” a relationship.

    When you travel, interesting test situations appear almost naturally, especially if you don’t over-plan your holiday and don’t make it too short.

    Last year, a foreign girl I had fallen in love with and I traveled across the European continent for almost an entire month. In fact, since we live(d) in different countries, fast-forwarding became less of a choice and more of a necessity.

    While we did not purposely test each along the way, we found ourselves in quite a few personality-revealing situations, and they provided both of us with some really, really valuable information. For example,

    We reserved our international train tickets only at the very last minute, at the station.

    We took an international night train and shared our (sleeping) compartment with four other travelers.

    We started many days without knowing where we would sleep at night.

    We spent one night sleeping (kind of) in front of a train station in Southern France.

    During several long train trips, there was plenty of time to discuss the world.

    This way, I learned that the girl I traveled with is incredibly interesting, energetic, optimistic, caring, credible, unpretentious, and simply wonderful company. She’ll move in with me later this year.


  24. What this article reveals is that the author is a manipulator. Same behaviour as a sociopath. Last comment is whole incorrect. We are not like the last 5 people we most hang out with. That is rubbish. Lets follow the logic to it’s conclusion. If you place these tests on the closest 5 people to you by the end of it you may have lost most of them because the behaviour was simply that of an oaf. 4 hour week, tell that to my surgeon who saves lives daily and has 16 hour marathon surgical sessions. yes, if your life simply revolves around the self, then sure you will get what you want for as long as someone gives it to you. Hedonism is the middle name of this whole thing. Happiest people I know do not have perfect personalities, nor easy lives, but they do have meaningful lives. Something altoguether missing from all these self help, quick fix, do it my way rubbish. Life without character (not personality) is the life of the vain or the egocentric.


  25. This is a really great post Tim!

    There is a great example that can relate to thisI heard somehow, where an employee and a boss were playing golf together. When the employee thought nobody was looking, he moved the ball just a little bit, but the boss was watching and saw it…and the very next day…the boss fired the employee…because if the employee is willing to cheat on the golf field and knowing not going to be caught, imagine what that person would do in the company.

    Testing people to see how they handle it is a great way to determine the type of people they are.

    And your closest friends who will be their during the hard time not the best time when you have value to give.


  26. This is all a bit one sided, what if they are testing you at the same time? Anyone who listens to their gut will sense something isnt quite right if you play games like this and might walk away. I think it underestimates or even insults the other persons intelligence, when you arnt being genuine there are always clues that will stir the other persons sixth sense and possible trigger the fight or flight a little. These practices dont ellicit trust.


  27. Hi Tim,

    your’re absolutly right with which you’re saying. I’ve had so many bad experiences with really near people to be thought of to be trustworthy but under serveral minor or major bad circumstances it turned out they were not despite my best efforts to keep a good relationship (not romantic!). Most of turned out to be really egoistic or egocentric although there were options for compromises. If I had known how they behave under bad circumstances or disstress, I would have trusted them. Later on I several times I was really disappointed and angry – sometimes even with myself for not even listening to my intuitions. Your adivice is very helpful, because it draws attention to the little trouble causing situations and the behavior of possibily near ones which otherwise I like many others just ignore or don’t take too serious – but they are. People don’t change that much. And one critial situation can tell a lot. I’ve by now realized that the hard way. But now I am very attentive in such situations and try to be very consequent with inacceptable and non-cooperative and egocentric or esp. power-oriented or even (not physical, but verbal) violent behavior. They get two chances but then it’s bye-bye. Whether you create those critical situations or not, they and the according behavior of others are very important to notice. So why not checking the car (any possible closer relationship) and realzing that it’s broken while it’s in the garage? Is it better to realize this while you both take a ride on the highway with 100 mph? Don’t think so. I don’t want to waste time and energy on people who are power-oriented, not cooperative and egocentric, while I am trying to find compromises, just concentratate on the solving of situational problems etc., and their ego is the one and only thing they can care about. They are just not ready. And anyone who is telling that your forcing critical situations is manipulative or whatever bad behavior, has not tasted the bitter social reality enough. The pain wasn’t big enough for them.

    Keep on with sharing your straight-forward and true ideas! Thank you very much!
    In friendship


  28. Hi Tim,

    This is an interesting experiment to read about in theory, but one I will never even consider to entertain. I like to think myself a good judge of character. If I feel the need to go out of my way to manufacture trials for potential friends or partners, then that means my intuition is already telling me that we’re probably not going to mesh well and it would be a waste of time to try and deepen the relationship. Also, instead of showing up late to a planned dinner or dragging somebody through crowds of minorities to see when they tick, why don’t you simply /ask/ someone–in a subtle manner–instead? Wouldn’t that be using less energy? It’s not too hard to pick out the racists, misogynists and, in general, douche bags after a few relaxed convos.

    Anyway, if I found out someone was using those tactics on ME, I’d probably start hanging out with them a lot less, even if I liked their personality and we had lots of things in common. I would feel like every word or action of mine is being scrutinized and judged. And while I know that everyone judges everyone (even if they make an effort not to), at the end of the day I want to be around people who make me feel good, not who make me second guess myself.

    But I understand that testing out unconventional methods is the entire point of this blog, so I’m sure you already know this. I’m also guessing that this post was more geared towards “thinkers” rather than “feelers”–people who’re less in tune with the moods and idiosyncrasies of others, or who’ve just found themselves making the same relationship mistakes over and over and attract the attention of narcissists and sociopaths who are great at presenting a perfect face to the world (I’m sincerely sorry if you’ve experienced people like that). In that case, yes, this is definitely a helpful post. Like you’ve said, life is way too short.

    Thanks for the awesome content, please keep doing what you do!



    • Interesting response Stephanie. I will respond from a personal perspective of a “feeler” who thinks ALOT.

      I would say that unfortunately for me I have found myself in relationships with a few manipulative women and they have indeed played these kinds of games, which I could sense. It is useful to have this discussion. However, I let myself get too wrapped up and now as defense mechanism I see this kind of behaviour everywhere and also tend to do the same thing myself, though not as explicitly or drastically. Odd because I also try to tell them not to play that with me, because I give off false readings when I sense people attempting to manipulate me. I truly believe that at least one potentially great relationship was ruined this year because of this kind of interaction, because of both of us playing through this.
      As it is I sincerely think that trust, etc, is what we all do want. And yes to enjoy each others company. But also people that we can weather difficulties with. But that too requires people who are willing to do a bit of work. Because all relationships require work right. :)

      So then how do we do it? When there is no one way that works in all situations? :)


  29. This is fine, sounds great to test people in this way. It sure will get some results. The only problem is what will they think of you? I’m not sure they would be impressed!