The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss

Reading Time: 4 minutes


A fascinating story about Neil Strauss’s journey from AFC (average frustrated chump) to a pick-up artist charging people thousands of dollars for advice on picking up women. If you’re struggling romantically, there are many practical takeaways that will help you, but the book is a good story more than anything else.

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Key Takeaways


“Smile when you enter a room. As soon as you walk in a club, the game is on. And by smiling, you look like you’re together, you’re fun, and you’re somebody.”

Outside of picking people up, smiling more is a good practice. You’ll feel better and seem like a person that people might want to talk to.

Peacock theory

“Peacock theory is the idea that in order to attract the most desirable female of the species, it’s necessary to stand out in a flashy and colorful way. For humans, he told us, the equivalent of the fanned peacock tail is a shiny shirt, a garish hat, and jewelry that lights up in the dark—basically, everything I’d dismissed my whole life as cheesy.”

Stand out. If you don’t stand out, you fit in. And fitting in is boring.

3 second rule

“A man has three seconds after spotting a woman to speak to her, he said. If he takes any longer, then not only is the girl likely to think he’s a creep who’s been staring at her for too long, but he will start overthinking the approach, get nervous, and probably blow it.”

Especially if you are a person who has social anxiety about talking to new people, follow the 3 second rule. The main reason that most guys don’t talk to the women they want to talk to is because they talk themselves out of it and overthink it. Just go up and say hello with a genuine interest in getting to know the person.

Would you like to kiss me?

“I just say, ‘Would you like to kiss me?’” “And then what happens?” “One of three things,” Mystery said. “If she says, ‘Yes,’ which is very rare, you kiss her. If she says, ‘Maybe,’ or hesitates, then you say, ‘Let’s find out,’ and kiss her. And if she says, ‘No,’ you say, ‘I didn’t say you could. It just looked like you had something on your mind.’”

A simple way to approach the question of when you should kiss someone.

Asking for someone’s number

“But what steps can we take to continue this conversation?”

Simple and easy. If they don’t want to continue the conversation, they will tell you.

Be bold

“And that’s when I realized the mistake I’d been making my whole life: to get a woman, you have to be willing to risk losing her.”

When you’re in the early stages of attraction, you should be willing to risk losing the person. Don’t do anything stupid, but also don’t sit in your head and wait around for the perfect moment or signal to do something. Be bold. Tell her that you find her beautiful and want to kiss her if that’s how you’re feeling.

How fast are you talking?

“Talking too fast is usually a sign of a deep lack of confidence. People who feel that others aren’t interested in what they think talk fast for fear of losing the attention of their audience. Others are so in love with perfection that they have a difficult time editing it all down and continuously speed up in hopes of getting it all in. Such people usually become writers. That was it: weirdo or writer.”

If you’re prone to speaking quickly, slow it down. If you’re always searching for the perfect word, become a writer. Either way, know that speaking too fast can convey a lack of confidence.

Questions vs. statements

“Interrogation is not seduction. Seduction is the art of setting the stage for two people to choose to reveal themselves to each other. Talking in statement form is the way old friends speak to each other. Statements are the mode of the intimate, the confident, and the giving.”

If you’re on a date, don’t interrogate the person with a thousand questions. You’re trying to get to know the person; you’re not interviewing them. Instead, use more statements. That’s how old friends speak, and it will allow you both to feel a deeper connection.

Pay attention to your surroundings

“When women stand near a man but facing away from him, especially when there’s no real reason for them to be hanging out in that particular spot, it trips what Mystery calls the proximity alert system. It means they’re interested; they want to be opened.”

No idea how true this is, but as someone who is obvious to signals, it’s a helpful rule of thumb.


“We have this idea that love is supposed to last forever. But love isn’t like that. It’s a free-flowing energy that comes and goes when it pleases. Sometimes it stays for life; other times it stays for a second, a day, a month, or a year. So don’t fear love when it comes simply because it makes you vulnerable. But don’t be surprised when it leaves, either. Just be glad you had the opportunity to experience it.”

Feeling love for a person doesn’t have to come from years of enduring challenges together. You can feel a deep love and connection with a person that hangs around just for a night. It may be fleeting and based on the circumstances around you, but that doesn’t make it not meaningful.

How to take a compliment

“‘Thanks.’ One of the things I’d learned in the past year and a half was how to take a compliment. Just say, ‘Thank you.’ It’s the only response a confident person can make.”

Don’t overthink it, just say “thank you.”

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