Knowing your attraction style can help you to play to your strengths when dating.
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of ‘The Game’ by Neil Strauss. Released in 2005, the book describes a journalist’s introduction to (and seduction by) a community of pick-up artists (PUAs) living in LA – and it was a huge hit.
It wasn’t long before young men all around the world were delving through its pages to uncover the ‘secrets’ of how to get female attention, and how to escalate it to the bedroom on the same night. But what many guys found is that the objectives and methods of these self-described PUAs are not only manipulative, but lead to a shallow kind of relating that only works on a certain type of woman.
If you’ve read anything we’ve written, you’ll know that our specialty is to help people build long-term connections, AKA a relationship. It’s this framing that leads us to believe that PUA tactics are worse than useless for creating a deeper kind of relationship – they repulse genuine connection.
Nonetheless, if you’re a man who is looking for a short-term fling, our main piece of advice is to find other people who are looking for the same kind of thing, and be open about it. After all, there are plenty of women who could be up for that. But this is not the approach taken by ‘The Game.’
Instead of encouraging being open about a desire for a hookup, the workshops run by Pick-up Artists (PUAs) teach men how to attract women by ‘negging,’ using props, and scripted techniques. The whole approach is based around objectifying women with the sole purpose of bedding them, and works best on women who are young, inebriated, struggling with self-esteem, partying at nightclubs and trying to make it in LA.
First off, let’s talk about ‘negging’ – which Wikipedia will tell you is “an act of emotional manipulation, whereby a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment to another person, designed to undermine their confidence and increase their need for the manipulator’s approval.”
Straight out of the gate, this tactic will turn many women off. Why? Because most women, particularly the more mature they get, will recognise negging as a very mean thing to do. However, for younger women who are inebriated and seeking someone’s validation, this may seem like a harmless flirting tactic.
But there is a big difference between healthy flirting and negging. Negging is scripted and cruel, designed to make a woman feel insecure – such as commenting that ‘I like your shoes, they look comfortable,’ or ‘nice skirt, I’ve seen a bunch of other women wearing that tonight.’
Healthy flirting, on the other hand, is cheeky and playful without being mean. It’s not about bringing the other person down to make them look up to you, but about creating tension in the moment, such as ‘I’m sure we haven’t met before – I would definitely remember.’
One of the (many) reasons these PUA tactics don’t work for building relationships is that genuine connections are built on trust and honesty, not manipulation. In a great relationship, partners will build each other up – not tear each other down. And if you’re using props and lines to get someone into bed, what happens when you run out of lines? ‘The Game’ has nothing to offer here – other than simply go out tomorrow night and repeat the process with someone new.
But even more insidious than manipulative ‘negging’ is the fact that the tactics described in “The Game” are all about objectifying women. They’re not about connecting with another human being, nor about pleasure or sensuality – it’s about conquest.
This is misogynistic and disrespectful, and only results in widening the gap between two people and between the sexes. Seeing women as conquests is also a terrible habit to get into if you’re a young man who wants a deep relationship one day.
Practising manipulative PUA tactics may result in some short-term sex with young, insecure women – as it did for Strauss (results not guaranteed). However it also sets a pattern of shallow relating that can be hard to break when you go looking for a deeper connection – as it did for Strauss.
Not nearly as popular as ‘The Game’ was Strauss’ followup novel – ‘The Truth’ (we wrote a summary of this book you can find here). In it, he deals with the wreckage caused by his stint as a PUA – and how it took a lot of work and therapy for him to unlearn the PUA techniques in favour of a mindset that allowed him to develop a deeper relationship with the woman of his dreams.
Finally – PUAs use props. A classic example from the book is to bring a ball of lint to the nightclub, and carefully plant it on the woman you’ve targeted before picking it off them to exclaim “Oh, I’ve found this ball of lint on your dress!” This is another example of negging, invented and manipulative. These guys really must have felt they had nothing genuine to offer these women.
So if you have drunk from the PUA fountain, and are struggling as Strauss did with unlearning the tactics from ‘The Game,’ – we encourage you to ditch the tactics and props, and focus on building something real.
There is no short-cut to human connection. It takes time, openness and a lot of curiosity to really get to know another human being, and to build a bond of warmth and trust. But this is the crucial foundation of a long-term relationship – and it’s absolutely worth it.
Hookups might be fun in the moment (or they may be experiences we regret), but they are no substitute for truly being seen, accepted and loved by another human being. And ultimately, that’s what we all crave.
Get in touch with us if you want to learn more about building a long-term connection.
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