In The Game by Neil Strauss, the world of the male pickup artist is laid bare.
These strategies and tactics are described by some as manipulative, deceitful, and misogynistic.
I think the reality is more nuanced. Reading the well-written, authentic and hilarious story of a guy who transformed himself from sad nerd to sexually successful, is an eye opener.
I read it, so did my fiancée (now wife) and then my sister. We all thought it was great. My sister and I had quite in-depth discussions about it too.
Since then, quite a few guys I’ve met have read, heard of, and used the techniques explained in the book. It spawned and popularised a whole movement of self-development for men: seminars, field work, boot camps…a lucrative industry has grown that can seem like it exploits the insecurities of the modern man.
I recommend it to women if they want an insight into how men really are. This is because it’s so real and so accessible. Neil Strauss has reached legendary status with a particular kind of guy – and any information that can support you on your journey is useful.
Women – you just need to be willing to take on board what it says – however much you don’t like it.
Easier said than done.
A Pickup Bootcamp
You could simply dismiss Neil Strauss’ book. But it’s still popular. Rules of the Game: The Stylelife Challenge and the Style Diarieswas also published including a 28-Day challenge to get a date. Men do love this kind of how to thinking: run this routine, get this result. (It’s not that women don’t necessarily – but the language and way it is expressed means it specifically appeals to men).
When Neil Strauss’ latest book The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships was published in 2016, I was intrigued. It turned out that one of my colleagues heard about a signing session he was doing, so I got the details and went along. As I got off the tube on a slightly wet London evening, I let myself wonder what the audience would be like.
As I sat down in the re-purposed book shop, I started a conversation with the guys around me that set the tone for my evening. As I exchanged pleasantries, I asked how they all knew each other. They said from boot camp. I asked what kind of fitness camp it was. They glanced at each other and one mentioned that it was a pickup boot camp.
More Emotional Maturity
I felt like a total idiot. And then had the thought – oh dear you desperate guys. After glancing around the room, I noticed it was mostly guys, probably mostly single, and between 25-40. I couldn’t help but think nice guys become toxified – after using and applying the material that’s out there, it’s put to unethical use. And here they are ready to learn the next set of strategies to make themselves more effective.
Except – they got a lot more than they bargained for. Strauss’ latest book is an in-depth exploration of male insecurity through the eyes of one man. The book takes in its roots, range of expressions, delusions, darkness and eventual redemption through different types of therapy.
When Strauss started talking about “enmeshment” his relationship with his parents, and how his current relationships go back to the family patterns established way back – it was not news to me. Intellectually most people understand this. Except I had an experiential sense of what’s possible when there’s a clear space with your parents.
I am grateful that I heard about and participated in some amazingly powerful self-development work in my early twenties. It set me on a completely different path to where I was headed. It meant I took responsibility for my nonsense, and recentred my relationship with my parents at an early age. For most guys (and most people really) this is not always the case.
As the evening went on, it began to dawn on the audience that Strauss wasn’t bullshitting. This was very deep stuff – not a bunch of strategies that would help you get laid. I could feel the atmosphere in the room gradually change. And I thought it was great. Really though, men are human – and they’re insecure. Just as much as women can be. And – they want and seek help.
I took home my signed copy of The Truth and started reading it a day later. In about a week, I’d completed reading it. Compelling, insightful, authentic stuff. Not for the majority of the audience at the book-signing. Having said that – I don’t think it’s a stretch to assert that if more men read the book, the more emotional maturity there would be.
- Pick one of the following qualities to practise for one day, every day for a week: listening, compassion, cooperation, learning, authentic empathetic communication…(of course you can create and find your own uplifting qualities)
- Keep a journal for a week of the interactions you have with men. At the end of the week, reflect on any patterns. What does this tell you about how men are, and your opinion of men? Use this to create a different week with men.
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