I’ve read The Game. I’ve read manuals and articles and websites about pick-up artists (or, irritatingly – PUAs), and their magical and mysterious secrets to ensnaring women. Like a grisly child with a knee scab, I’m simultaneously horrified and fascinated by the whole thing, and I just can’t help picking at it.
Recently there was a kick off because a pick up artist set up a Kickstarter project to fund a book that had some pretty questionable advice in it. The material in question involved such gems as:
“You have established yourself as a LEADER. Don’t ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your dick.”
You can read more about it in this Vice interview, in which the author explains that he wasn’t advocating sexual assault or rape, he was simply trying to give shy guys the confidence to ‘be awesome with women’.
And herein lies the problem that I have with every single pick up guide I have ever come across: PUAs think there’s a complex and secret formula. Wait – scratch that. They say there’s a complex and secret formula. Presumably, if they’re the experts on women that they pretend to be, they know that there actually isn’t, but pretending there is one gives them either kudos or, in some cases, money from exactly the shy guys they’re trying to help.
So, in an effort to slightly decrease their revenue, I’m going to tell you what their actual secret is. There’s no complex formula, script or rule book, just one small nudge in the right direction. It’s mentioned in all pick up artist literature but (as far as I’ve seen) the significance of it is never properly explained. Here goes:
The key secret Pick Up Artists gloss over
Talk to women.
That’s it. That’s the secret. Disappointing, right? The problem is that this ‘secret’ is hidden within a bunch of irrelevant and often obnoxious crap. So, if a guy has success when he talks to a woman and follows the obnoxious crap rules, it’s frequently (and in my opinion incorrectly) attributed to the fact that the crap is somehow magic, rather than the one significant thing that the guy actually did: he dramatically increased the number of women he spoke to.
Shy guys and chatting up
Allow me to explain, using some of the words of Ken Hoinsky, author of ‘A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women‘
He explains that the audience for his book – and indeed the audience for most PUA material – is very specific: “men who were me five or ten years ago – shy, nerdy, maybe introverted.” Men who “don’t have experience in social situations” and “who’ve maybe never kissed a girl“.
Realistically, these are not the sort of guys who will frequently approach women they fancy. They are, understandably, the sort of guys who might hang back in a crowd or avoid speaking up because they’re worried about being rejected. Ken author admits that this is the case – what he’s doing, he says, is not about encouraging men to force themselves on women, but encouraging shy men to take that small step forward.
“The seduction world is self-help in disguise. The majority of it is about developing confidence in more traditional self-help.”
The Game helps that, apparently. Pick-up artists help that, apparently. Because they give men self confidence and tricks and scripts and plans and all the extra bits and pieces. However, the self confidence isn’t the stated goal for the vast majority of people in this community: sex is. What’s more, self-confidence on its own won’t get someone from being a shy, nerdy never-kissed-a-girl type into their first relationship. The thing that will most dramatically increase the odds of any guy sleeping with, or having a relationship with a particular woman, is talking to her.
All pick up artists will tell you to do this, but few will make a big fuss over it. They’ll tell you how to talk, and when to talk, and sometimes what to say, but they won’t tell you that the key to all of their success comes from the simple fact that you’re doing it. That, absent any peripheral voodoo, they’re taking people who never talk to women, and getting them to talk to women.
Applying this secret to the Real World
Is it any bloody wonder that people who implement the PUA’s rules have more success with women than they did before? If they’ve never before spoken to a woman, then of course they’re going to have more success if they start speaking to women. Even if they’re nervous. Even if they don’t know what to say. Even if they’re rejected three out of four times. When you start at zero, anything’s a win.
Don’t believe me? Stop comparing pick-up artists to the ‘shy, introverted guys’ they all claim they used to be. Compare them instead to someone you know who is simply confident enough to talk to new people. Someone who doesn’t use tricks or wear a magic hat or tell the women they’re fat in order to manipulate them into sex. Compare a pick-up artist to your average, decent guy, and see who is more successful at getting a date.
Let’s do some science
Trust me on this, people – it’s a very simple scientific error. If I want to test whether car A is faster than car B, I run them both under identical conditions. I don’t have a different driver in each, on different tracks, with different weights in the boot and then try to claim that the vastly bigger engine in car B is a barely irrelevant factor in its success. Likewise, including a ton of misleading misogynist waffle alongside what is fundamentally good advice (“Hey! Talk to women!) shouldn’t lead you to conclude that it was your value-added bullshit that really made the difference.
I appreciate that this isn’t going to help you much if you’re one of those shy guys – someone shouting “Just talk to women!” in your ear won’t make it any easier to wander up and approach one. All I need you to understand for now is that the journey from ‘lonely dude’ to ‘man who has a girlfriend/wife/shag’ isn’t nearly as long and complicated as PUAs would have you believe.
These guys do not have access to secret knowledge. They are not better than you. They are not magic. Many of them, in fact, are gold-plated bastards. So look on the bright side: if you avoid becoming a bastard and start talking to more women, there’s a fairly high chance that you’ll be more successful than they are.