I’ve previously written about a pair of books — Jared Diamond’s Why Sex Is Fun and Brian Greene’s The Art of Seduction. To these, I add a third: Mystery’s The Mystery Method.
These three books, each in their own way, present an eminently rational but somewhat counterintuitive approach to male-female relations. Diamond’s little book explores human sexual and mating behavior, including the significance of physiological differences, from the perspective of academic evolutionary biology. Greene’s book, when stripped of its exaggerated Machiavellian artifice, constitutes a how-to of sorts for one-on-one human persuasion. Mystery’s book explores the most effective methods for men to “pick up” women with speed and a high degree of success.
Some of you may know of Mystery; he’s an illusionist and host of the reality TV show The Pickup Artist. It’s as a master pick-up artist that he’s branching out as a public speaker. In addition to his book and reality show, he offers seminars and “courses” that cost upward of $2,500. Clever.
Anyway, these three books in concert suggest that the conventional wisdom of dating is wildly inaccurate. In the popular understanding, women want nice, safe men with whom they can raise a family, or at least attractive boy-toys with whom they might play; they want enlightened life-partners, not cavemen. In practice, however, they really want a male who can demonstrate, in appropriate context, a high social value.
All three books, in their own way, broach the question, but Mystery’s book does it the most succintly — that is, that the critical point of consideration is a person’s survival and reproduction value. Men stress the “reproduction” part; they want good-looking women with hips made for babies and full, luscious breasts to nurse their offspring. Women want the “survival” part — and this, interstingly, is best demonstrated through displays of high social competence.
It’s been lamented that nice guys finish last. From the perspective of these three books, perhaps they should; nice guys rarely demonstrate social value through a degree of sexual aggressiveness, leadership, and group dominance that warrants the instinctive attention of women. This is, to a degree, understandable — the life of the party (even a chubby and unkempt fellow) usually gets the girl, and he gets her because he proves that he has mastered the art of integrating into, and leading, a large group of fellow humans. In terms of evolutionary biology, such ability was a sign that the male could provide for a woman in a tribal group, even when the hunting fared poorly. And it’s precisely this tribal-group wiring that stops most men from approaching the most desirable women; in a tribe, a female’s rejection of a male lowers his social standing to the point where he may never have an opportunity to mate, and the feelings of inadequacy for present-day man that hold over from this wiring means that men who lack self-confidence will find themselves lonely and frustrated.
This larger point helps to explain to my satisfaction why some butt-ugly men are paired with gorgeous women; most women care more, on an instinctive level, for social competence than for appearance. Those ugly men are better at demonstrating their value and escalating the attraction process than better-looking but meeker males.
Mystery’s book offers tactics for meeting strangers, breaking the ice, and engaging in the attraction process culminating in sex. In his view, it takes about 4-10 hours for a woman to agree to have sex with a man; his approach, tested “in the field” for years, bears this out. OK; maybe, maybe not. But while in Las Vegas, conscious of Mystery’s recommendations, Tony and I successfully “opened the set” of three British tourists to the point that they invited us to join their group, and we spent quite a few hours with them at karaoke and later at the casino. Before reading the book, I would not have made the approach, because I wasn’t confident that I knew how.
As I reflect on past dating experiences, I think I’ve been too “nice.” I’ve consciously avoided escalation out of fear of making a woman feel uncomfortable, and this has probably been an unconscious indicator of low social value. The theory seems to be that by elevating the woman to an elevated position, I am demonstrating in a pre-rational sense that she has more “value” than I do, and thus, I’m not a suitable prospect for mating. Perhaps I need to spend more time building comfort and escalating the attraction process through actions that demonstrate high social value, than in trying to be the friend first.
At any rate, these three books taken together present a systemic, relatively comprehensive, and well-integrated approach to male-female dynamics that present much to reflect upon.