Updated: Apr 19
I Game, you Game, we all Game for sex, love, and everything else
“What do you REALLY want, baby?” “To crush Elon Musk!” Photo by Анна Хазова on Pexels
Can you imagine all the effort they’re putting into that? If they took that effort and put it toward something constructive, who knows what they could accomplish. — Tom Cruise, in Neil Strauss’s The Game
Who knew that couch-jumping, Scientology-worshipping Tom Cruise would be the nearly sole Voice of Reason in Neil Strauss’s The Game, the notorious exposé about the lives, lifestyles, and trade tools of Pickup Artists (PUAs)?
He voiced what I’d been thinking.
I theorized there were few better at comprehending the female mind than PUAs determined to get laid, so I read The Game to better understand how men exploit female commonalities for manipulation, control, and abuse. We have to identify our own unconscious vulnerabilities, as it’s our job to protect ourselves better by eliminating them.
We’re not rank ingénues anymore.
I’ve explored a few of these vulnerabilities already, and likened our personal fixes to a psychological cybersecurity patch job.
I have to hand it to PUAs: They do know women better than many of us know ourselves. Condemn them all you want, but they’ve nailed us. (Ar ar.) PUAs exploit female brains like grand chess masters.
Author Neil Strauss went from nerdy, underlaid AFC (Average Frustrated Chump) to mPUA (Master PUA), codename Style, in just two years. His expose, The Game, gifted his fellow AFCs the Unholy Grail: The secrets to persuading women to spread their legs or lips (more recently, we could add butt cheeks) almost on command. Without courtship, drama, or barely even getting a name.
Rail all you want about the sheer misogyny, rank control and abuse of female psychology in the PUA community, but two truths emerged from this deep-dive into pickup artistry.
One, they’re impressively focused on a goal, and everyone has much we can learn from them, regardless of our life’s mission.
Two, not all the women were naive, helpless pawns in modern Casanovas’ webs of deception. Even for those who were, none were mindless programmed computer networks. We’re creatures with agency and free will. We can arm and fortify ourselves against such psychic assaults.
And we have much to answer for as well.
The Game vs The Rules
I’m embarrassed to admit several years ago I actually read the notorious Game-equivalent manual for women — The Rules: Time Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right. Not for research, not ironically and not for the larfs. I’d concluded perhaps honesty wasn’t the best policy, after all, in nailing a man. Three years after getting dumped at 37, what did I have to lose? Treating single men with respect, decency and consideration had gotten me nothing but a pool of underachievers who I got the strong feeling were ‘settling’ for me because they had neither the looks nor the riches to get the younger, hotter chicks.
The ones I wanted to meet never wanted to meet me. The ones who did were several years older.
La plus ça change.
Maybe games-playing was what all men really wanted after all.
Every accusation you can fling at The Game you can hurl with equal force at The Rules.
Misogynist manipulation? Misandrist manipulation.
Rank dishonesty pretending you don’t want sex when you do? Pretend, equally, you aren’t interested in a monogamous relationship or marriage.
‘Freezing’ a woman out to make her think you just lost interest? Always wait a day or two to respond to his emails (in the years before texting), don’t seem too eager, then just dash off a few quick lines as though you’re all dolled up to go out and do something terribly exciting, and you only have a few minutes before your ride picks you up. Don’t you wish you were with me?
Tricking dumbass women to have sex? Tricking dumbass men to give it all up for you.
The Rules are The Game for women. And vice versa.
Image by Cottonbro on Pexels
Not all the advice in The Rules is bad. Useful: Cutting to the chase on singles sites. If after three rounds of messages he hasn’t asked you out, cut it off. He’s not serious. You’re there to nab a man, not a pen pal. Also useful: Advice for cutting through the carrot-sticking or ‘breadcrumbing’ many men use to string women along.
Still, there should be at least a few email rounds. Too many men think any messaging beyond, ‘Hi. You’re cute. Let’s meet for coffee and see if there’s chemistry; yes or no?’ is ‘endless messaging’.
Not only is it a clear sign he thinks with his Little Dicktator, but he still doesn’t understand we need to make sure he’s not, at the very least, a serial killer or something before we agree to meet.
Where The Game trumps The Rules many times over is in its granular dig-down into the psychology of both ‘targets’ or ‘sets’ (the dehumanizing words for women) as well as the PUAs themselves.
Strauss was a writer and interviewer B.S. (Before Style), so he was already experienced in emotional ditch-digging.
Why your Grand Vision needs The Game
Tom Cruise nailed it. The Game is like The Force; it can be used for good as well as evil. Where I had to respect PUAs was in their single-minded devotion to their cause, however worthy or unjust. It wasn’t always the latter. One badly-dressed Australian wannabe was more interested in finding a wife; others merely sought girlfriends rather than harems.
The Game encapsulates the focused devotion to accomplishment that lies at the core of any successful endeavor.
Whatever your Grand Vision is, whether it’s seduction or finding a spouse/partner, running your own business, writing a novel or becoming a brain surgeon, it remains a mere fantasy until you up your Game to:
Engage in extensive ground-level research;
Create a plan with concrete steps to achieve your objective;
Practice ‘in the field’ prepared to face many failures and rejection as a rank noob;
ABL (Always Be Learning), but also practicing. A common early exit ramp from accomplishment is using ‘research’ as an excuse not to implement. Confidence comes not from your vast body of knowledge but your vast body of experience.
Go back to #3 and #4 and don’t skip them this time. You will not succeed without practice, failure, rejection, and improvement.
I‘d read about seduction failures who railed angrily that PUA tactics and strategies don’t work and the workshops and seminars were just ripoffs for gullible males. Some most assuredly are, but I wonder how many would-be Casanovas were derailed, rather, by their own inner Terminator.
How many didn’t push themselves enough? How many blew past uncomfortable effective advice likely to result in initial levels of female rejection? What if they secretly believed deep down, as so many of us do, that they’re unworthy of achieving their goal? That they’re not good enough, that they’ll never accomplish X, that success is for their betters?
The Terminator is a vicious Destroyer of Dreams. It’s Resistance, our inner demon which exists to keep each and every one of us from reaching our full potential, and has waylaid the best of men and women, regardless of their endeavors.
Just witness all the insanely talented people who joined the ’27 Club’ or who melt down and publicly destroy their lives when they seemingly had it all: Charlie Sheen, Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, Mel Gibson, and now Kanye West. Why, when they live the cliche ‘have it all’? Inner demons drive them to destroy it. I’m not worthy.
Somewhere in the back of some geeky wannabe brains, their own personal Terminator whispers, “Women will never find you attractive. Who do you think you are? Getting laid easily isn’t for you.”
Imitation is the sincerest form of lacklustery
I also wonder how many would-be Casanovas failed because they were robots. Startup tech culture, which chases and venerates the Next Big Thing, offers a fair warning to those who imitate because they can’t innovate.
Strauss wrote about the ‘robots’ who simply tried to replicate what others did, wondering why what worked for one didn’t work for them, or why another’s reply to a common rejection got their own ass kicked instead of laid. They never innovated what worked uniquely for them, just as many entrepreneurs fail because even if their Killer App or Idea is unique, they still have to find their own Magic Sauce for Success.
There’s no rote road map or algorithm to your personal success. You can study The Masters all you want: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey and even Gwyneth Paltrow have much to teach everyone, but no one can replicate any one of their successes just by doing what they did. They all lived unique lives, growing up in their own unique circumstances, in their unique time periods, with their unique brains, experiences and insights. You can’t be them, ever.
The grand irony of life is the one commonality everyone shares: You are as unique as they are.
The Game is nothing more than sales and marketing. The winning tactics and strategies change constantly; what worked last year, or before the pandemic, or even last month doesn’t anymore. Consistent effective sales and marketing is ABE: Always Be Evolving. Imitators might meet with some limited success, but they’ll never be Masters.
The Masters are the ones who use road maps to start, but then forge their own unique path.
The Game’s greatest takeaway
If you want to get some real shit done, you need to quit fucking around.
When Strauss decided to stop dabbling and to master the art of seduction, he threw himself all-in. Once fully committed, he immersed himself in learning.
He began by shutting himself away for a week and studying ‘seduction theory’, with tapes, books, studying posts in his best friend’s on-line discussion forum, and making a conscious decision to ‘rewire’ himself, learning to become more confident, more graceful, more decisive and ‘the alpha male I was never raised to be’.
He read books about women’s sexual fantasies and internalized the realization that women wanted sex as much as men do, but they didn’t want to be treated or made to feel like a slut.
He ordered books on marketing, watched a friend’s videos, and threw himself into NLP, neuro-linguistic programming, which teaches that experiential ‘programming’ creates connections between neurological processes, language, and behavioral patterns and can be changed to achieve particular life goals. It’s considered pseudoscience by academia, based on now-outdated brain science understandings, but it’s a key component in the serious PUA knowledge base.
Strauss developed his ability to play party and magic tricks as ice-breakers with women, playing on what he calls ‘chick crack’, their eager response ‘to routines involving tests, psychological games, fortune-telling, and cold-reading like addicts respond to free drugs.’
Then he worked on body language, posture, clothes, and image. When he felt he had enough learning he faced #3: Learning by doing, including the inevitable rejections and failures. Then one day he picked up a super-hot chick he’d have never have had the balls to approach for directions, much less a pre-Style date, and he got it. When he Googled her he discovered he’d just seduced ‘the reigning Playmate of the Year.’
As much as I disliked Strauss, his friends, the how-to he wrote, and Tom Cruise, I find myself in total agreement with the star, who himself had learned some of The Game — which he applied to his life and career rather than seduction — from Scientology.
If PUAs took that effort and put it toward something constructive, who knows what they could accomplish?
I thought of my own nascent vision of helping women, and eventually others, reclaim their personal power, and wondered what would happen if I committed the same passion and determination as Neil Strauss gave to his own vision.
What could any of us accomplish if we learned The Game?
It’s nothing more than a tool. What we do with it is entirely up to us.
This article first appeared on Medium.