A couple of years ago, I read Neil Strauss’ The Game, a manual on how to pick up women. Admittedly, I had wanted to read this book for a while; a guy I knew had once denied me from even reading the sacred opening chapter of his copy and, naturally, I wondered what kind of juicy stuff I was missing out on.
Strauss writes for the benefit of every man who has ever been humiliated in a club, rejected by the eyelash-fluttering object of his adoration. He teaches them to think of seduction as— you guessed it— a ‘game’, where the ultimate aim is to ‘close’ on a ‘target’ (I’m skirting past the inherent misogyny in all this). What I learnt from reading this book was not only a comprehensive guide to picking up women, but a guidebook for social interaction as a whole. What Strauss aims to do is to empower the oppressed masses, through a reconsideration of one’s self-belief and the desires of others. Whilst it might have questionable efficacy in trying to pull a leggy blonde, this ideology is surprisingly applicable in everyday life.
It’s Not All About Looks
Strauss begins The Game with a less-than-complimentary description of his physical attributes:
I am far from attractive. My nose is too large for my face and, while not hooked, has a bump on the ridge. My hair is just wispy Rogaine-enhanced growths covering the top of my head like tumbleweed. I am so skinny that I look malnourished.
Suffice to say that Strauss- by his own admission- is decidedly not the Lothario that one envisions when told that he has slept with some of the most beautiful women in the world. And yet, the joke is on us.
Strauss is happy to acknowledge his weaknesses. But it is his success that speaks louder. How does he do it?
The Game teaches you not to undersell yourself simply because of the way that you look. Sure, the methods of ‘selling yourself’ are questionable, including ‘negging’ (lightly criticising women), and ‘cat string theory’ (think Pavlov’s dogs, but with unsuspecting females). Yet the underlying ethos, which recommends dignity and self-belief, is universally applicable; essentially, if you act like you’re the dog’s bollocks, people will be intrigued. Strauss’ game is limited to seduction, and in that area he has shown unlimited potential in spite of his appearance. But his example demonstrates that we should focus not on our limitations, but what we can achieve in spite of them. This will work in interviews and in the workplace, equally if not better than it will work in the corner of a nightclub. Just try not to make anyone cry in the process.
There Are Plenty More Fish In The Sea
Spread your nets wide, and see what comes up. This is the advice that a pick-up artist would be likely to give to their clients. Yet, it applies to a plethora of other challenges: job applications, networking opportunities, making social acquaintances.
The truth is, in any given situation, you are going to try, and it is fairly likely that you are going to fail. Unless you are Rhett Butler from Gone With The Wind, and you are out on the pull.
If you are not this guy, then it is a numbers game. However many rejection letters you receive, or drinks you get thrown in your face, it is only by opening yourself to what could be a long succession of failure that you will eventually succeed. Whether this success is flaunting a supermodel on your arm or sitting in an office marked CEO, you probably won’t be focussing on your failure. And the Pinot Noir stains will have hopefully faded by then.
Don’t Be A Wallflower
Women are missing out on literature like The Game. The only advice we receive on how to attract a man is from women’s magazines magazine, and basically equates to wearing a push-up bra. Most men, however attractive they are, will accept that they need some degree of charisma to attract the opposite sex. This is what pick-up manuals like The Game are devoted to; improving a man’s desirability through a personality overhaul (Strauss, for instance, says his personality changed ‘completely’ when he learnt his pick-up technique).
On the other hand, society expects women to be passive figures of attraction. Men will often find it almost off-putting if a woman buys him a drink or makes a sexual advance at him, feeling emasculated or intimidated. In the popular dating show Take Me Out, a dozen half-witted ladies wait to be selected by George, 25, from Essex, who, assumedly unswayed by their double figured IQ scores, seeks a nice rack and an even coating of St. Moriz.
So, whilst men are working on their personalities, transferable skills they could apply to their job or their social lives, women are assessing the best shade of Rimmel lip gloss to apply, convinced this will make all the difference in attracting a man. What reading The Game highlighted to me is the wrongness of these gender double standards. If a woman feels confident enough to initially approach the opposite sex, she is able to disarm a man intent on a ‘pick-up’, and regain the power by dictating on her own terms what she wants, not simply being a ‘target’ for social manipulation.
The Nice Guy Doesn’t Always Comes Last
Having said this, the broad theory of behaviour recommended by The Game is fairly simple. Be a nice person. Be interesting: offer someone the chance to learn from or be entertained by you, even if what you are offering is something as contrived as Strauss’ magic tricks. Be interested: observe how people react to you, and don’t make them feel uncomfortable. Don’t let yourself be mistreated, either: if someone seems reluctant to talk to you, calmly walk away. The last, most well-known, piece of advice is peacocking: wear something flamboyant and it will probably provide a conversation starter. None of this is rocket science. Nor should it be reserved to blushing adolescent boys. If all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players, then The Game suffices well as a rule book.
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