Myths I Learned from the Pickup Artist Community: Part 2

Neil Strauss The Game Book - Pickup Artist Community
Hey look everybody! I used to be a PUA bigshot… SEEEEE?!?!

“What do you do when a hot girl throws herself at you?”

I googled this today and the first result was a guy in a body building forum presenting three super thoughtful options:

Give her the cawk.
Get turned off since it’s so easy.
If you want a real relationship you hold out.

These attitudes are common for many men. If a girl is giving it away, it means she’s easy. After all, she doesn’t have any self-respect.

But what if that hot girl is Jessica Alba? Assuming they know who she is, most guys would probably throw themselves at her instead. Does this mean the men don’t have any self-respect? No, of course not. She’s Jessica Alba for god’s sake!

If all this sounds rather shallow to you, that’s because it is.

Why do we play games? Why can’t people who find each other attractive just get down to business and skip the courtship dance, the boring small talk? Why do girls have to wonder “does he like me?” for hours, days and weeks…. even when they both want the same thing in the end?

BREAKTHROUGHS IN ATTRACTION

Pickup Artist Community - Freedom

Back in 2003, the biggest breakthrough I ever learned from the Pickup Artist community was that so much of our attraction is based on social value. Actually, scratch that. Our attraction is often based on our perceived social value.

Mystery decoded most of the formula for attraction theory. It was Tyler Durden and Papa at the time, that tied most of the attitudes and behaviors together, under the title social “value”. The IOIs, negs, obstacles, targets, AFCs, AMOGs, alphas, peacocking, shit tests, take-aways, cocky funny, jealousy plot-lines, qualification, time constraints…they were almost all about how we demonstrate higher value to others.

When I first learned this a light went on. It was in 2003 as I was talking to my friend and mentor Vinigarr when suddenly I had that moment when I saw “the matrix” that explained so much in my dating life. Yes, being short was a disadvantage but if I learned to play the game I could get the girl too.

Sounds a little sleazy right?

But here’s what most people outside the community don’t realize: almost all these techniques came from watching women. Specifically, this is how many attractive women in clubs are already acting with guys trying to date them.

Incidentally, it’s how many attractive men act too. Because all these techniques are just terms for what happens naturally. Not just in the dating world but in everyday social dynamics, whether you realize it or not.

Notice I didn’t say, “hot” men or women. Because there’s a difference between being hot and being attractive. Men with lots of wealth and power are attractive. They may be ugly old farts, but many women find them attractive. It makes them feel safe, taken care of and feminine.

And women who know how to play hard to get, dress well, or have high status (like celebrity) are considered attractive. Yes, men are more visually attracted than women are, but if men were only attracted visually, then they wouldn’t lose respect for the easy, but hot girl.   

BREAKTHROUGHS IN INTIMACY

Pickup Artist Community - Shadow Quote

As the years went by, I began to notice a long-term pattern.  Most of us were only dating short term even though many of us claimed to want relationships.

Even those of us in long-term relationships weren’t very happy. One by one, they all seemed to self-destruct. It wasn’t just a matter of whether it would or wouldn’t. It was only a matter of time. To be fair, a few did end up in healthy LTRs. And maybe not so coincidentally, many of them continue to be my good friends today.

But Mystery and Style – the two most iconic figures of the seduction community – both became perfect examples of how NOT to have an LTR.

I saw Mystery “closing” lots of beautiful women but he was always depressed about being alone. About not finding his pair bond(s). Eventually, he had a daughter with one of his girlfriends but last I heard she wouldn’t speak to him anymore or allow him to see his baby girl. It made him utterly miserable.

You’d think his superior skill on how to create attraction and desire – which I can attest to, first hand – would lead to superior relationship and communication skills with women as well. Right?

Nope. Not even a little bit. And lest you think this is a one-time occurrence, I can assure you it isn’t. This is the norm in a long line of imploding relationships over the years. 

In 2013, Neil Strauss married his current wife Ingrid and now has a son. But in 2010, she forced him to go to therapy for sex addiction.  His come-to-Jesus moment was when he cheated on her in a church parking lot with her best friend.

Why were so many of us good at meeting girls, having passion in the bedroom and not able to have healthy, steady relationships? What was missing?

After years of therapy and introspection (as well as lots more sex with other women), Neil learned that it all came from his low self-esteem. Today his seminars teach men “how to be ok with themselves.”

I’m not accusing all Pickup Artists of having low self-esteem but it’s ironic that in an industry that teaches men how to be “their best self” and more confident with women – their two most recognizable leaders that created the original blueprints – had significant emotional issues. It says something.

I know what you’re probably thinking by now…

You’re laughing at all the silly PUAs with their little insecurities because it was so obvious to you. You saw it coming a mile away. But the truth is, this isn’t something unique to the Pickup Artist community. It’s just an extreme microcosm of how the world operates. Because everyone has insecurities. And assuming you’re human, so do you.

No one wants to face rejection. No one wants to feel hurt or disappointment. We all have fears, flaws, and vulnerabilities. We’re all wounded. But even though it’s the most natural thing in the world, we fight it. And this is why we all play games at first.

Because attraction and fear are really both aspects of the same phenomenon. It’s scary if she rejects you…but it’s EXCITING if she validates you. This is a fun game to play if you can win at it, but it’s not love. It’s a game.

Yes, women love validation. They need it. But men need it just as much, if not more. When we date, holding our cards means withholding our validation for the other until we get it first. But the reason we withhold validation is because it’s important to us. We treat it like currency.

Without the possibility of losing something, there’s no fear. If you’re afraid of losing then it’s because it’s based on your desire for something. The desire to remain physically safe, the desire to love without disappointment, the desire to be validated by someone attractive.

So whatever we desire, rules us. We’re slaves to our desires and at the same time, we’re afraid of losing our freedom. So we fight. We fight our desires and we fight our fears. We fight other people but the fight is really inside… like a shadow, it follows us everywhere we go.

In the fighting you feel good, you are. It strengthens the ego. But in the process, it increases the distance between two people. This goes in the opposite direction of a real relationship.

Because a real relationship is the art of intimacy.

True intimacy is about removing all barriers between two people. And the ultimate barrier between two people is the ego. Real relationships are about giving up power, giving up the desire for control. It’s about being vulnerable, trusting and allowing a space for the other…including all their flaws, fears and weaknesses…the total human being. 

THE ART OF DATING WITHOUT CONFLICT

Pickup Artist Community - Conflict Quote

After 5 years of seeing myself and other Pickup Artists failing in the love department, I learned that when it comes to dating, attraction matters – but when it comes to love, intimacy matters. And this is where we run into conflict. Because if dating is based on a power dynamic then you must maintain that power.

So while having a hot 19-year-old blonde tattoo “Marco Rules” on her leg after knowing her for forty-eight hours  – and against my own wishes, I might add – certainly made me feel super manly about myself, it’s not really the beginning of a healthy LTR.

Of course, it’s natural to have your guard up when you first start dating someone, but at some point, it will have to be dropped – and the sooner the better. If you want closeness, then you’ll have to drop your need for security and risk the truth of yourself and the other. And if two people can’t drop their defenses against each other, then there’s no foundation for love. Love is an impossibility.

With this new understanding I saw how all the techniques developed to demonstrate higher value naturally revolved around self-esteem and control  – and most importantly, it directly opposed any intimacy. It’s totally destructive, long-term. It has to be.

Once I realized this, many things became clear.

Sex and power have always been closely intertwined. Many of our fetishes involve letting go of control or exercising it. S&M is exciting when you can dominate or submit to someone else’s power. But can it be used to build intimacy too? Absolutely – as long as it’s consensual. Then they’re not just objects that you’re getting something from… you’re giving them an experience they want, too. You’re sharing something.

When it comes to dating, some guys like to be the aggressive, alpha male and be super direct with their approach. For some girls, this is a turn-off. Everyone is different. That’s why it’s called a dance.

So when we use “indirect game” it can also help make her more comfortable. It can be used to build trust. But whether you’re being direct or indirect, if you’re changing your behavior because you need to get something from her, then it’s still about power and control. 

It’s no coincidence that Kissinger described power as “the ultimate aphrodisiac.” Money is power, beauty is power, fame and validation is power. People who wield a lot of power are considered sexy. It’s their ability to give or take away what we want that makes them sexy and attractive.

All this explained to me why Mystery couldn’t hold down a healthy relationship if you held a gun to his head. Erik, the human, is a relationship guy. But Mystery, the persona, is not. So when Erik decides he wants the girlfriend, it’s almost too late. Mystery has already established the relationship based on a power dynamic and not much else.

In the Pickup Artist community, not only were we insecure, but the women we chased were as well. This is why it worked so well on attractive women. They can often be some of the most insecure of all. And it’s no coincidence that the women Mystery and Style dated were mostly young club girls, strippers or similar types as well.

So when a hot chick throws themselves at you, an insecure man might wonder “wait… what’s WRONG with her??” But a confident man with a healthy self-image might think, “of course she likes me… I’M FUCKING AWESOME! She must be awesome too!”

That’s what it looks like when we don’t play games.

***

Pickup Artis Community - Self Image Quote

It may sound like I’m picking on Mystery but the truth is I have a ton of respect for him. If it weren’t for his incredible genius in codifying some of these extremes in the dating world, none of these insights would exist for me.

Today Neil Strauss and a lot of the “natural game” gurus in the Pickup Artist community think many of the techniques and routines taught back in 2005 are bad for dating. Is it true? Yes and no. And this is where I depart from most conventional thinking…

Because we don’t just blindly trust random strangers at first. Nor should we. So if you’re dating, there’s still a qualification process that happens whether you’re aware of it or not. The question is, what are we qualifying for?

Tools are only “good” insofar as the intention for which they’re being used… it all depends on where you’re coming from. If we’re just trying to get laid, then in it’s purest form, it’s only about two people’s attraction to each other. Nothing wrong with that. But if we want more, then our mutual values matter. Even if it’s a short-term fling.

So in 2008 when I met my wife a speed dating event, I didn’t do a modified “crappy sketch artist” on her just to make her laugh. I did it because I come from a very sarcastic family, and a sense of humor is very important to me.

When I shared my “identity story” with her it wasn’t just to create deeper rapport so I could close her. I did it to find out if she’s positive, affectionate, open minded, spiritual, passionate, honest and into health and fitness like me. And as we began dating, I noticed she didn’t participate in any of the typical validation games… not only that, she didn’t respond to them either!

All this showed me that she had the qualities that could lead to a healthy LTR with me. I just set my boundaries upfront and then I let her decide. If she didn’t, I was honest about that. And if she did, I was honest about it too. Dating was just a process of discovering if our values aligned. But no longer was I hiding who I was, for better or worse.

Since dating will always involve some qualification process, why not use that process to build healthy intimacy instead of preventing it?

***

Eight years later, I still use what I learned back then in our current relationship. I know sometimes she wants me to be a stronger leader in parts of our relationship. I understand that when we argue, her non-verbal cues tell me more about how she feels than what she’s saying. And because we’re clear on our most important values together, we work to maintain them if we stray. Everything else slides.

But in none of these examples is she someone I’m just trying to get something out of… because love doesn’t seek to take. It gives. Love doesn’t fear, it trusts. And love doesn’t seek security because real love is freedom. Real love is a stepping stone. And the only way to freedom is to drop the fear, drop the questions, the doubts.

Without trust, there will always be questions. But if you’ve been following so far, then you understand that the ultimate question is really about accepting ourselves. Accepting others and accepting life as it is, with all it’s limitations, weaknesses, and imperfections. That’s what everyone’s looking for.

Then there’s no more conflict. Then there’s nothing left to fight. There’s no more shadows, only peace.

Seeking love may be the question… trust is the answer.

Myths I Learned from the Pick Up Artist Community: Part 1

Pick Up Artist Switch
Women… amirite?!

Of all the gurus in the pick up artist community, one of the most well known has to be David DeAngelo. In many of his ebooks, CDs and seminars he asserts authoritatively that “attraction isn’t a choice” for women. You push the right buttons and she’s yours. She can’t help it. After all, she’s wired that way.

But here’s the problem with that… it’s a myth. 

From 2002-2008 I was knee deep in that mythology. I never got to know David DeAngelo (Eben Pagan IRL) but I did hang out with Neil Strauss, Mystery, Papa, Tyler Durden, Sickboy and others during its heyday. We learned a lot together that was groundbreaking and much of it found its way into The Game. And while many of the techniques and gambits developed back then worked surprisingly well for the pick up artist community, there was some dangerous doctrine that took hold. 

How do I know? Because I didn’t just follow the dogma. I learned the mindset and then I continued to learn, on my own. And what I learned is that in the pick up world dating is a science. But in real life, relationship is an art. 

Being deeply involved in the pick up artist community back then brought me some benefits. For aspiring lotharios aged 18 to 24, stories of conquest written about in The Game have turned the characters in the book into something like folk heroes of seduction. But for me, there’s no mystique to them. No hero worship.

They were my friends and I knew their flaws. And I also got to see the many flaws in their relationships as they devolved from that movie perfect beginning to a normal – or most often dysfunctional – dynamic. 

So when I say “attraction isn’t a choice” is my favorite myth to debunk, it’s not because I think I’m above it all. It’s because I witnessed its birth. And I’m living proof how easy it is to believe something so strongly and for so long… even though its fallacy is so obvious that when I look back on it today, I laugh.

Pick Up Artist Myths

All you have to do is look at history.

In the early Renaissance Botticelli painted what was considered the ideal feminine figure. Venus’ hourglass figure and wide hips showed she was obviously healthy, wealthy enough to eat generously and could bare children. Men craved these women.

In the early Renaissance Botticelli painted what was considered the ideal feminine figure. Venus’ hourglass figure and wide hips showed she was obviously healthy, wealthy enough to eat generously and could bare children. Men craved these women.

What about today? Just look at other countries like Africa where “chicken thighs” is so coveted some women resort to stuffing bullion cubes up their backsides in the belief it will thicken their legs and hips. In Tibet, when Cindy Crawford was introduced to monks as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” they laughed at her and said she looked like an alien.

What about when it comes to women’s attraction?

I have two words for you: dad bods. The ideal man has gone from fat and healthy to skinny rocker to meat head to lean athlete to paunch belly with a muscular chest and shoulders. What’s considered physically attractive changes over every generation and within generations.

What’s considered attractive character traits also changes according to the generation, geography and culture. What’s true about the “attraction switches” that DeAngelo teaches is that most of us appreciate confidence and humor. But there are infinite ways to present confidence and humor and equally infinite ways that confidence and humor can be interpreted by her.

As shocking as it may be, some girls think the “cocky funny” attitude is a turn-off…does that mean they lack the hard wiring that supposedly lives in the “lizard brain” area of all women?

How many times have women said, “I didn’t see him that way” before she eventually fell in love with and married her once male friend over the millennia? How many times has this happened with men who fell in love with their once female friend? What about in your own life? And yet, on average, many of them are not wanting of any love or attraction.

Was that not a choice?

From an evolutionary point, we’re born with only a handful of involuntary instincts and the rest is learned. All our desires are the result of judgment and conditioning. All of them.

Even our physical arousal can be influenced more by desire than evolution. That’s why the brain is called the most powerful sex organ in the body. Because the brain dictates biology, not the other way around. 

Animals don’t have foot fetishes, enjoy phone sex or need negging in order to procreate. These are human preferences and there are many.

Sexual function and arousal overlap but aren’t mutually necessary. You can have sexual function without arousal and you can have arousal without sexual function.

Our arousal preferences can change several times within a generation. Evolution happens over millions of years… tens of thousands at best. But it can’t be used to explain Steaming Clevelands.

 Fears & Desires > Emotions > Judgement > Decisions > Actions >>> Fears & Desires

The hierarchy of our actions starts with our fears and desires. Those fears and desires rule our emotions. With enough conditioning, they become habitual. Many of our choices seem out of our control because they’re made instantaneously. And while we can act rationally in spite of our emotions, most of our decisions are made emotionally. This is human nature.

On the surface, attraction also seems out of our control. But we’re already predisposed through conditioning. Or maybe something triggers our desire and suddenly we have a toe fetish. Thankfully our brain – just like much of our sexuality – is plastic and we have some control over this process.

So how does this help us in the dating world?

If you strongly believe “hot girls go for jerks” and you decide to be a jerk, chances are you’ll find some good looking girls that go for you.

If you strongly believe “hot girls go for nice guys” and decide to be a nice guy, then chances are you’ll ALSO find some good looking girls that go for you.

Either way, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But the bottom line is: don’t be a jerk just to get the girl. Don’t be a nice guy just to get the girl. It leads to cynicism. And we’ve all seen a lot of that in the pick up artist community. This is part of the reason why. Whatever you’re most attractive qualities are, be confident in them and find the girls who like you for them. 

Yes, always work on being your best self and improving your faults… but don’t do it for validation.

David DeAngelo Pick Up Artist
Audience Attraction Is NOT a Choice!

Women are attracted in a variety of ways. Buying blindly into the “cocky funny” dogma is dangerous because it leads to over-reliance of one approach. It ignores the reality that women and their tastes can be – and always will be – subject to change.

So don’t try to sell apples to someone who likes oranges. Be open minded to the women you meet and their differences.

If you decide you only want the “hot girls” who like you for it that’s fine too. But if what you’re attracted to isn’t working well long-term, then at least expand your box a little bit. Many relationships began unexpectedly and leaving space for that can only benefit you. Especially if you haven’t dated much.

Yes, some of the best pick up lines will absolutely work on women, but DeAngelo will be the first to tell you that who you are is what really matters afterward. And then her attraction is up for grabs again.

Because attraction is fluid. It always has been and always will be.

This can be a hard truth to swallow because many of us have ended relationships with the conclusion “I can’t help it, I’m just not attracted him” or her. 

For others, it brings a freedom because it means we don’t have to keep chasing the same men or women that we know deep down are just damaged or unhealthy for us.

Attraction for men and women is a choice. And if we’re attracted to the wrong people, it’s in our power to change that. Again, I’m not saying it’s easy but it’s true.

Just like some of us grew up hating the taste of fish then grew to love it. Our tastes in men and women have changed since we first started dating. Except now we can decide what’s best for us and take control of the process.

For women, the next time you say “I just can’t see myself with him”, you’re not just talking about something that’s outside of your control. And for men, the next time you think “attraction isn’t a choice” that’s also an internal choice you’re making.

You can’t un-know that now.

The good news is you probably already know the people you should be dating. The bad news is you now have to stop dating the people you already know aren’t good for you. Or if you don’t know, then you’ll just have the fun task of figuring out who those people are.

As the title would indicate, there are other hard truths I learned after I left the pick up artist community which I’ll cover in Part II. While some myths were spread from INSIDE the pick up artist community, they’re principles many men around the world believe from outside of the community.

These are general myths about how to attract women that were often used successfully at first – but proved to be destructive long term.

Aren’t you lucky I was the guinea pig for you?