The other day I read a long, personal email from Alex Allman, a thought leader when it comes to relationships (and a man I deeply respect). It was revealing on the nature of attraction and took on many topics, among them Pick Up.
I won’t go into the full email as I actually found most of it to be solid advice. He noted, as I have on many occasions, that while Pick Up Artists may get girls, the girls are generally vapid — and are rarely around for long. Meanwhile, the Pick Up Artists themselves remain unhappy no matter how many girls they bed. They never feel satisfied — both with the women and themselves — and remain in a stunted, emotionally unhealthy state.
All of this is true. Pick Up Artists tend to focus on game and ignore personality development — and in doing so ignore one of the fundamental pillars of attraction. They may get quantity, but fall terribly short on quality. For them attraction is short-term by necessity.
But like many in his corner of the “attraction community” Alex went too far. In his fervor he lost the script and began attacking the fundamentals of sexual psychology itself:
In women’s romance movies a poor man with a big heart and the soul of a poet wins love over a rich and powerful man who is used to winning at everything. Usually the rich guy isn’t just richer… he’s also typically physically larger and stronger, and more skilled with both swords and pistols.
This is, for those of you who read too much PUA advice (or Red Pill, MGTOW, how to Be The Alpha bullshit) the classic story of the woman choosing the “beta male” over the “alpha,” and if you’ve noticed how often this plot is used, you’d understand that it’s carved into women’s DNA.
Sometimes in women’s romance movies, it’s the dangerous and slightly creepy guy that everyone else warns her against, who is a complete ASSHOLE to her, and doesn’t give a fuck about anyone because of the deep wound in his soul, and how she finally heals him. It’s a myth that gets a lot of women into abusive relationships.
And of course, there is always the bumbling and sweet Hugh Grant guy that doesn’t realize that she’s crazy for him and excludes himself from chasing her until he realizes that she loved him all along.
But in MEN’S romantic movies, it goes like this:
The bad guy kidnaps the woman and holds her hostage. The hero swings in on a rope, challenges the bad guy to a duel. The bad guy cheats! Our hero is close to death! He somehow escapes, cheats death, kills the bad guy in an epic and blood-soaked battle, sending him screaming into a pit of boiling lava!
…And then sweeps the woman up in his arms and she falls in love with him forever because he is such a hero!
Now it’s worth asking:
How many beautiful women go to see that type of movie who aren’t DRAGGED there by their boyfriend?!
There are a couple of problems with this analysis, though ironically it only took one sentence for him to contradict his entire argument. If women don’t like alphas, why does he claim women like men who don’t give a fuck about anyone’s — especially women’s — opinion of them? And if women like betas, why does he claim the “white knight” who saves the day and gets the girl is a bullshit story women don’t enjoy? It sounds like on a fundamental level Alex agrees with the Red Pill, he just doesn’t understand it or is making a deliberate straw man against it to signal.
Regardless, Alex (like many before him) is making the classic mistake of labeling the superficial traits of alpha and beta — a man’s outward social value, his preselection — as the sole determining factors of a guy’s dynamic with women. This is disingenuous. Preselection matters, obviously, but being alpha is in the mind fundamentally.
Indeed, once you understand this the “underdog” story arcs you see all the time in Hollywood begin to make a bit more sense: the “alpha” guys are paper tigers. More often than not they 1) pedestalize the girl, something no alpha would ever do, and 2) make no effort to connect with her on an emotional level. They drop status bombs, “I’m rich, that guy’s a loser, you should be with me” — but have an underdeveloped Personality and even Persona. They are one dimensional, uninteresting, even repulsive caricatures.
Meanwhile, the “lower status” guy’s portrayal is inverted: superficially he’s missing the glam, but he’s mysterious and complex, he reads her like a book, and he isn’t afraid of challenging her or asserting his feelings for her. He doesn’t define his value by how he competes against other guys, he defines it intrinsically — and he sells his definition successfully to her.
Hollywood, Archetypes, and Female Desire
Yet even as all this is true, it would be a mistake to assign too much authority on attraction to Hollywood. Movies are produced to glamorize narratives, and these narratives have power because they are entrenched in archetypes. This is why the “underdog winning the girl” is a story not only women but all of us resonate with. It is wired into our brains.
The relevant question isn’t whether women get caught up in these archetypal narratives, but whether these narratives lead to successful romances. And the answer is clearly a no.
Yes, sometimes women will find themselves caught up in an archetypal narrative, which does indeed make them fall in love with a man… or rather, the story of falling in love with a man. But after the narrative plays itself out, the relationship doesn’t last — unless the man transforms into something more enduringly attractive through his trials.
(Leveraging archetypes is a tool of seduction, something we will discuss in a different article)
This means that in real life a woman might fall for the underdog or misunderstood guy, but if he’s truly a pussy, it won’t be long after they get together that the romance falls apart (Note: Hollywood movies always end before this happens). Even if she continues to seek out men like this afterwords due to her archetypal disposition, they too will end once the archetypal tale runs its course.
Moreover, this “poor weak underdog” narrative is rarely something women actually fantasize about. A more accurate representation of the female sexual psyche isn’t a top-down film made for popular consumption by a male, but a bottom-up book written for a private “enjoyment” by a female.
A book like 50 Shades of Grey.
And what’s the story arc for 50 Shades of Grey? A powerful, misunderstood asshole dominates the female protagonist sexually… but she eventually tames and heals him.
Alex mentions this dynamic as one of his examples but misses the profoundness of it: women fantasize about turning alphas into betas, they don’t desire inherent betas. Their ultimate fantasy is the fulfillment of their sexual strategy: receiving a lover and provider in one. Tell me I’m wrong — there are 125+ million sold copies of a terribly written book series to back me up.
Note that this is also an archetypal narrative with its own pitfalls — just like you’d expect, the “transformed Alpha” is never as attractive to the woman as he was in the beginning (ask women what they thought of the third 50 Shades of Grey book). And more often than not, like Alex says, the Alpha doesn’t transform… and women find themselves in abusive relationships (or at least “relationships” where they abuse themselves by sticking with a guy who won’t commit).
But at least if this archetypal story actually plays itself out it stands a good chance of lasting, because it is based on sexual not simply social psychology. Not so with the others where the “chase” or being “part of the story” are the only things that keep two totally sexual market-mismatched individuals together.
So let’s not pretend Hollywood is showing us “what women want” — especially when one of the biggest complaints women have is that “Disney romances” don’t actually seem to happen… or if they do, they’re a far cry from the glamorization of “enduring love” they expected.
Authenticity vs Game
Alex missed the forest through the trees with this one, but to a degree it’s understandable why. Relationship experts like Alex Allman are in the corner of the “attraction industry” that prioritizes authenticity and intimacy over all else. To these guys, game and leveraging sexual dynamics are low-consciousness: why bother with all of that when you can just be real, express your desire, and get the girl?
They have good reason to think this: they use it themselves to great effect. They have done the “inner work,” and their frame is such that they can go up to a girl, express their desires to her directly, and more often than not get her. Why shouldn’t everybody else do the same?
Would that they could. What these experts forget is that:
- They are operating at a level few other people are at
- They are generally dating in a community that communicates in a similar way
- They tend to have disproportionate levels of status in addition to their deeply developed personality, which puts them at the top of their dominance hierarchy
I remember a few years ago, my wife and I went to a retreat in the California desert dedicated to increasing intimacy. The point of the retreat was to work on self-expression, self-acceptance, and learning to be ok with stating our desires and enforcing our boundaries. This was to build up our capacity for openness and to come to terms with rejection.
It was solid, useful stuff. The community was filled with great, loving people, and authentic and open communication was the norm.
But despite their beliefs to the contrary, authentic, open communication didn’t eliminate the sexual hierarchy or replace sexual dynamics. Quite the contrary, they were alive and well there — they were just concealed under a more “equalizing” and “accepting” form of communication.
Indeed, if anything, eliminating game in the community culture made it easier for high status men and women to shack up. Preselection and Personality were all that mattered; if you were lacking in these areas, you weren’t getting laid.
This was revealed most obviously by the sexual selection process that occurred. Despite there being an equal number of men and women at the retreat, the best looking and highest status men with the strongest frames slept with most of the women, while the other men were completely removed from the sexual equation.
This was exacerbated by the fact that “authentic communication” gave particular caché to vulnerability — an angle some of the guys with weaker frames attempted to use (perhaps subconsciously) as a culturally-acceptable form of game. Unfortunately for these guys, this simply gave them enough rope to hang themselves: vulnerability emphasizes comfort over desire, you cannot use it successfully in isolation. All these guys did was reveal their “unworthiness” and sexually deselected themselves.
So rather than make sex “equalized,” “free” and easier for people to get their desires met, authentic communication reinforced the extremity paradigm. Authenticity showed the women who was “alpha” so they could fuck them, and who was “beta” so they could ignore them.
No wonder women and top-tier men are drawn to “authenticity.” It works — if you’re a confident guy with a great position in the sexual market, or if you’re a woman who doesn’t want to get tricked into being attracted to a low-value man.
And the best thing of all: it’s female approved, so no shit from the “other side.” You can be a socially approved dating expert for men, because you’re giving women exactly what they want.
Business and Pleasure
To understand this dynamic, it can be helpful to think of attraction strategy like business strategy. Indeed, one of the reasons my Three Pillars of Attraction concept has stayed robust despite constant testing over the last 9 months is because it mirrors what you might call the three core components of business: marketing, sales, and product.
This wasn’t consciously designed, but once I realized it everything made sense.
Preselection is marketing. Persona is sales. Personality is product.
Understand, Alex is a successful man, but more importantly than that — he is a successful man with women. One of the most fascinating things about being a dating coach is that (assuming you actually know what you’re talking about), women automatically assign a high level of preselection to you. Helping men to improve with women implies you “get” women (double-entendre) — which means other women want to get you.
As an internationally renowned relationship expert, Alex’s preselection is through the roof.
But as we know, preselection doesn’t matter in the end if there’s nothing else to back it up. This is why the fact that Alex is a masculine, fully integrated man is so relevant. He has a “product” that is highly valuable.
So ask yourself: if you’ve got an unassailable market position and an excellent product, do you really *need* a sales force?
The answer, of course, is no.
Get people’s attention, maintain your reputation for quality, and “customers” will come to you.
Alex is thus in an enviable position — though not a typical one — which means that telling every guy to mimic his tactics is not sound advice.
Strategy? Sure. Everyone’s goal should be to get to the point where their preselection and product are so good they don’t need to sell themselves. This is why I talk so much about frame. There is no substitution for inner work if you want things to get easier and you want your relationships to get better.
But what gets you there won’t get you here. If your Preselection is shit and you’ve still got demons you haven’t come to terms with, there is no way you can ignore Persona and still expect to attract women. This is why my targets of scorn in the Pick Up Artist community aren’t guys who get into it, but guys who stay in it. Game is useful wherever you’re at, but its deepest value is in the beginning when you’re just building yourself up. If years go by and you still rely heavily on it to get women, you’re doing it wrong.
A good sales force can compensate for bad marketing, and a great sales force can sell a weak product. But you never want to be the business with a bad product. Short-term you can get paid — or in this case, laid — but you will lose your “customers” repeatedly once they realize you don’t have your shit together. Having to constantly go out and generate and convert new “leads” because of this is not only a ton of work, but spiritually draining. How does it feel to scam people? Not good — especially since most of the people you’re even attracting to begin with have issues themselves.
Conclusions: Who Needs Game?
Some people right now might feel that Persona is thus the pillar of a damaged individual, not the healthy one. Indeed, those in favor of “being yourself” might even feel vindicated.
But I am no enemy of Persona — in fact, it’s not only necessary for the well-adjusted guys who don’t have the best looks or status in the world, but it’s required in 99% of relationships to keep things interesting. Unless you are marrying with a massive structural preselection advantage, you will need to game your woman to increase her desire.
Not to mention, even if you have that Preselection advantage, there is literally no reason not use Persona anyway.
If you’re a business with a great market position and a great product, you may not need to have a sales force to profit, but what do you gain from not having one? Keep it working just be less aggressive, the results will pour in.
Understand: there is always competition out there, and there is never a reason not to head it off at the pass and keep your customers happy. The most attractive men are strong in all three pillars and don’t rest on their laurels.
So don’t give Persona up, but don’t make it your long-term crutch either.
And most importantly, understand where you’re at before deciding to show your full self to the world.
Authenticity builds confidence because it subcommunicates self-acceptance. Being real thus has major advantages both personally and in attracting women.
But the reality is that unless your self-acceptance is complete, your frame alone will not be able to carry you across the finish line.
Add Persona into the mix.
The girl will enjoy it, and so will you.
PS Special thank you to Alex Allman for being my guinea pig in this article. Your work has paved the way for much of what I do.