thegame-bookcoverA pick-up artist must be the exception to the rule. You must not do what everyone else does. Ever.

When I first met him I was strangely attracted to him because he was acting a bit like an asshole. I liked his smile and the sense of fresh air when you meet someone different that doesn’t instantly interrogate you: where you work, how old you are, where you live and what you grandma’s middle name is.

Negging (neg:an ambiguous statement or seemingly accidental insult delivered to a beautiful woman a pickup artist has just met, with the intent of actively demonstrating to her (or her friends) a lack of interest in her)

When I told him I was an investment banker, he said I was selling for money. He insulted my job over the whole night (going a bit too far, I must say). To the extent I understand negging, you must insult a woman in a gentleman way (?!?) in order to lower her self-esteem. However, you must be careful not to go too far and actually drive her away. He was lucky I am generally attracted to rude men, so his negging didn’t push me away. By the end of the night I was telling my friend he was awesome and she was telling me he was a superficial wannabe asshole and I was immature. Yeah, like I EVER listen to her advice.

Demonstrate value (i.e the cube or how to hit on Paris Hilton)

Then he told me the cube routine. Imagine you are riding through the desert and you see a cube. Is the cube big or small?  Can you see through it? Now imagine a ladder. And then a horse. A sort of psychological exercise that interests the woman and demonstrates the man’s value, distinguishing himself from all of those boring primates of his sex. Given my inherent love for psychology, I fell into the trap instantly.

I didn’t meet a pickup artist as per Neil Strauss’s bestselling novel The Game. I just met someone who has read the book and applied some of the routines to me. Of course, I realized that later, when I read the book and started recognizing patterns and stories. To be honest he wasn’t an expert but I appreciate he tried and I am glad he tried on me. And whatever means he used, well he got me at the end so good for him (and me).

The first time I heard about the PUA (pickup artist) community and Neil Strauss was when one of my best friends told me she was sort of dating a guy who sort of read the book and sort of was playing techniques on her. I was mesmerized by the idea that men take courses and read books to hit on women.

Neil Strauss was an average looking man and writer, who had been insecure in approaching and seducing women all of his life. He had a few unsuccessful relationships and he almost committed himself to being a nerdy and socially awkward guy. When his editor at the New York Times asks him to write an article about the growing popularity of the PUA, Neil finds himself immersely attracted to the routines and lifestyle of these men. His introduction to the seduction community is Mystery, a legendary PUA with whom Neil travels around the world giving seminars and lectures. In less then two years he transforms himself from a shy and boring man into Style – a successful, confident, and cocky PUA, whom everyone starts to immitate and follow. The book explores his interactions with famous PUA such as Mystery, Rasputin, Steve P. and Ross Jeffries as well as with celebrities including Courtney Love, Britney Spears and Tom Cruise.

The religion of the PUA is simple. They have routines, steps, memorised phrases and even language of their own with the sole purpose of attracting a woman (and eventually sleeping with her). Looks don’t matter as long as you dress to get attention and talk and act as if you are the prize.Do not get the wrong expression. These men say they don’t hate women or see them as inferior objects to be conquered and I actually believe that. They are scared of rejection when approaching. They are scared of ridicule and pain. They want to learn what comes to many men naturally – being confident and self-aware when hitting on a hot girl. When finally they reach the Holly Graal of feaml approval, they feel omnipotent.

The success of the seduction community is spreading like a virus. Everyone, from college students to average IT guys and successful businessmen is looking for that magic pill and routine that will transform them into seduction Gods. Mystery, Style and the other “gurus” are intoxicated by the success and decide to launch Project Hollywood. They all move into a promiscuous house dedicated to seduction seminars and sexual adventures. 

The lifestyle is great. The confidence that steams from being able to walk in a bar and knowing that every woman can be yours within 30 minutes is what these men have been waiting for all their life. Unfortunaly, every success is a double-edged sword. Many of the PUAs-to-be give up their jobs, their hobbies, their families and their friends and submerge into the community to master the game. Neil starts to see the dehumanizing of his pupils, turning themselves from well-rounded individuals into PUAs. Only PUAs. The community becomes more about sharing with fellow PUAs your success stories, your failures and your sexual experiences than about meeting women and enjoying them. The ultimate satisfaction is not going out with a HB10 (hot babe 10) but actually braggin about it to the less fortunate ones. As with any other religion or cult, imitations spread like bacteria and suddently Neil and some of the others find themselves living a life they didn’t really sign up for. 

I am far from feminist and I tend not to judge people as long as they are doing something good for themselves. And to my belief, that is what the PUA community, Neil Strauss and other fellow artists are trying to teach. They are helping insecure men with low self-esteem become more confident and successful. Not only with approaching women in bars but with life in general. Reading about all the examples Neil Strauss gives I see the benefits of taking a course like that. Most of the “students” were uncomfortable in almost any kind of social interaction. Feeling confident around women gave them that much needed confidence to succeed in life. Unfortunately, there is a time and place to stop everything, even sarging. Hitting on women is like a drug and when you overdose you need to take a step back.

For Neil, this step turns out to be someone who can beat him at his own game. I was just hoping that I will be spared the cheesy romantic ending another one of my best friends dreams of – the PUA meets the woman that changes him. I wasn’t, but the tone of the book is such that even a trivial love story as this cannot be taken as cheesy. It seems quite natural, in fact. It made be think about something else – am I becoming too cynical to bear? The tales of true love that books, movies and TV seem to bomb us with, never managed to get to me. I don’t trust that sugar-coated stories of the perfect love at the perfect time. Come save me, oh white knight! Yeah sure! I am starting to doubt myself (or I want to). If it has flooded mass literature and cinema so much, there must be some truth to it. There must have been that one lucky guy (girl) that was actually kissed under the rain and then decided to tell everyone about it

I actually liked The Game. For a book on the rather shallow topic of picking up women, it actually made me evaluate a lot of things. And I can proudly say I was actually a victim of a proclaimed PUA and honestly, it did feel good. Maybe more men should start reading that. I am tired of the good old: What do you do?