Book notes: The Game by Neil Strauss

The Game by Neil Strauss book summary.

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


“Hidden somewhere, in nearly every major city in the world, is an underground seduction lair. And in these lairs, men trade the most devastatingly effective techniques ever invented to charm women. This is not fiction. These men really exist. They live together in houses known as Projects. And Neil Strauss, the best-selling author, spent two years living among them, using the pseudonym Style to protect his real-life identity.

The result is one of the most explosive and controversial books of the year — guaranteed to change the lives of men and transform the way women understand the opposite sex forever.

The Game is the story of one man’s transformation from frog to prince to prisoner in the most unforgettable book of the year.” -Audible

Opening thoughts:

I remember seeing this book in the same section of the Barnes and Noble I went to when I bought my first “personal development” book, Mystery Method. That book definitely shaped the way I thought about social dynamics and attraction over the next several years. Recently I stumbled upon this book again in a recommended reads, probably because I was looking at other influence and rapport building books. I read the synopsis and after going through the intro, realized that this guy actually learned from the guy who wrote Mystery Method! It’s crazy as I’m going through the first few minutes of the book that this is a new perspective on the principles and tactics I had read about years ago. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited to get through this book.

Key notes:

  • Mystery was a legend in the pick up community. After years of giving out really detailed and free content, he decided to host paid workshops
  • Mystery put the puzzle together and figured out social dynamics
  • He only alienates the girl he wants to sleep with. The number one characteristic of the alpha male is the smile
  • The characteristics of an alpha male are:
    1. Confidence
    2. Smile
    3. Being well groomed
    4. Possessing a sense of humor
    5. Connecting with people
    6. Being seen as the social center of the room
  • People think if you look average and generic, you can seduce a wide range of women. Not true, you have to specialize
    • If you look average, you’re going to get average girls. You need to be bigger than life and over-the-top
  • Peacock theory: 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, the equivalent of the fanned peacock tail is a shiny shirt, a garish hat, and jewelry that lights up in the dark
  • And opener is a prepared script used to start a conversation with a group of strangers. It’s the first thing anyone who wants to meet women must be armed with
  • Never approach a woman from behind, always from the front but at a slight angle so it’s not too direct and confrontational
    • You should speak to her over your shoulder so it looks like you might walk away at any minute
  • Look for IOIs, indicators of interest: asking your name, asking if you’re single, or squeezing your hand back. As soon as you get three IOIs, phase shift
    • At that point, ask her if she wants to kiss you
      • If she says yes, which is very rare, kiss her
      • If she says maybe or hesitates, say let’s find out and kiss her
      • If she says no, tell her I didn’t say you could
  • The secret to meeting women is knowing what to say and how and when to say it
  • NLP = neuro linguistic programming – A controversial fusion of hypnosis and psychology
    • One’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior, as well as the thoughts feelings and behavior of others can be manipulated through words, suggestions, and physical gestures designed to influence the subconscious
  • Women are much more perceptive than men, they can instantly spot in sincerity and bullshit
    • A great pick up artist must either be congruent with his material or a great actor
    • Anyone talking to a woman while also simultaneously worrying about what she thinks of him is going to fail
      • Anyone caught thinking about getting into a woman’s pants before she starts thinking about what’s in his pants is going to fail
  • He learned baby steps, slowly escalating physical touch towards a kiss while keeping her mind occupied through talking
  • He wasn’t promoting seduction, he was teaching attraction
    • This was working on yourself and improving yourself to the point where women are magnetically attracted to you and want to be around you
  • He made pick-up artist history within 30 minutes of a Miami club by picking up two platinum blondes
  • Religion is pick up, politics is pick up, life is pick up
    • Every day we have our routines which we rely on for people to like us or to get what we want to make someone laugh or do you endure another day without anyone know what nasty thoughts we really thinking about them
  • Tom Cruise was born to sell things. He always made decisions for himself
  • Project Hollywood and their new pad. They all had their own identity, a magician, a writer, a gambler, and a businessman
  • Eventually, his material was flooding on everywhere and people are copying style all across Southern California
    • People de-humanized him by studying him but not wanting to be friends
  • Say “respect” when confronted by a girl saying something overly sexual
    • It is a shit test. If he is uncomfortable or took the bait, he’ll fail
  • Train her gaze: when you look slowly from her left eye to her right eye to her lips in a triangle to create suggestive sexual tension
  • People’s surface appearance never accurately captures the inner calm or storm for every woman’s sexual tastes and preferences
  • Book reference: The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene
    • Classic pick up artist reading material
  • He uses techniques while interviewing Britney Spears and got her personal phone number
    • He realized the game works better on celebrities then ordinary people because stars are so sheltered and their interactions limited
      • A Demonstration of Value or the right Neg holds 10x the power
  • Rapport = trust + comfort
    • Capture the imagination first, and the heart next
    • Interest + attraction + seduction = sex
  • Despite supposed skill, mating is largely a game of chance
    • Women are at different places in their life when we meet them
      • They may be looking for a boyfriend, a one night stand, a husband, or a revenge fuck
      • Or they may be looking for nothing at all because they are in a happy relationship or recovering from an emotionally destructive one
  • Using words like “casual” and “hang out” along with a time constraint is all a part of a strategy to make the visit a low pressure event
    • It’s a much better way to get someone to commit to time with a stranger than dinner dating, which can be a painful, drawn out affair
  • There must be an exchange of rocks and gold, women want rocks and men want gold, or rather quality time and gifts versus sex
    • Mystery knew how to pick up women but not to maintain a relationship
  • Courtney Love moved into their house
  • How to take a complement: just say thank you. It’s the only response a confident person can make
  • Mystery received so many TV show offers but turned them all down. He’s actually scared of the success he really wants so badly
  • What they figured out was a few simple cause-and-effect relationships
    • If you lower a woman’s self-esteem, she will seek validation from you
    • If you make a woman jealous, she will become more attracted to you
  • Once you get good and start sleeping with all these women who have boyfriends, and you stop trusting women
    • A side effect of pickup is that it can lower your opinion of the opposite sex. You see too much betrayal, lying, and infidelity
      • If a woman is married three years or more, you find that she is easier to sleep with than a single woman
      • If she has a boyfriend, you have a better chance of sleeping with her the same night than getting a return call afterwards
  • By calling yourself a pick up artist, it labels you as one who fears women
    • This title is solely defined by the responses of women, where your entire identity and self-esteem is defined by the attention of the opposite sex
  • As a self-esteem defense mechanism, pick up artists tend to develop misogynistic tendencies in the process of learning
    • This could be hazardous to the soul
  • Simply finding out that you have a passion for something another person also likes and respects is enough to fire that strange emotion like to call chemistry
    • Scientists studying pheromones claim that when two people discover they have things in common, pheromones are released and attraction begins
  • He couldn’t seduce or sleep with Lisa, but they spend time together and he was infinitely fascinated by her
  • A pick up artist must be willing to change or abandon any plans when confronted with the chaos and chance of reality
  • He had the sexiest threesome he’s ever had in his life with two Jessica’s
  • One of the problems with the pick up community is that it presented in flexible standards of behavior that men were supposed to follow in order to win a woman
    • Chief among them was the idea being an alpha male
  • Style gave Mystery some tough love and both of them starting to break down in tears
  • Perhaps it was really shared emotion and experience that create relationships, not seven hours of routines followed by two hours of sex
  • Sometimes through simply the act of having sex with a man, especially if the man is a little more emotionally distant than she’d like him to be, a woman can develop feelings and start wanting more
  • Ultimatums are simply expressions of powerlessness, empty threats designed to try to influence the situation someone has no control over
  • The secret to making someone think they’re in love with you is to occupy their thoughts, which is what Lisa did to him:
    • Blown him off and rebuffed him physically while stringing him along and with just enough encouragement to keep chasing her
  • There was a downside to casual sex, sometimes it’s stopped being casual and people develop a desire for something more
    • When one person’s expectations didn’t match another’s, then whoever had the highest expectations suffered
    • There’s no such thing as cheap sex, it always comes with a price
  • He felt that his body responded to lack of emotional foreplay, and with other women in the past, which was not the case with Lisa
  • After a while, pickup feels like filling a bucket with a hole in it
    • One night stands and fuck buddies are a false intimacy and are unsatisfying
    • In a real relationship, sex means more and you just want to hang out all the time and talk about life
  • Mystery moved out and was back to his old self. Style couldn’t follow him again this time, but mystery said they will always be friends
  • Most of the guys in the house hated his guts for no reason, and he found out he didn’t do anything wrong
    • Tyler Durden and Papa were playing mind games to push Style out and make him feel unwanted
    • They felt threatened by his presence and insecure about themselves
  • Lisa liked everything about him before he became involved in the community
    • In reality, he wouldn’t have had the confidence or skills to handle a girl like Lisa without going through all that training and mentorship
  • Out of all the girls he’s ever met and picked up, he told Lisa that he chose her
    • Though it’s not entirely true because the man never chooses the woman. All he can do is give her an opportunity to choose him
  • We were all searching outside ourselves for our missing pieces, but we are looking in the wrong direction
  • He discovered that to win the game was to leave it
  • Steps to a pickup:

Closing thoughts:

Fantastic book, so glad I rediscovered it and picked it up. Story felt right straight out of a Hollywood movie with all the sex, scandal, betrayal, and fight for power you can ever ask for. It’s kind of unbelievable all of the stuff he went through and the journey it was for those two years. I think this book definitely merits being turned into a movie if it hasn’t already been done. I do think that the Style and Mystery characters have been channeled or modeled in those movie characters with so much charm and charisma, like the Ryan Goslings or Brad Pitts, where these guys seem to get all the girls.

While the art of pickup and seduction is very intriguing and enticing to learn, from a higher moral perspective it is nothing less than a dark art or black magic. At an earlier time in my life, I probably would have dove into this world and knowledge and try and master these skills for my own personal gain. Where I’m at now, however, my moral compass points me in the other direction, hands down. The problem is that the short term results can probably very gratifying, but this type of lifestyle sacrifices the long-term for the short-term. Similar to how Mystery was a legend picking up women, he was terrible at maintaining relationships. Not only that, but casual sex, as we learn near the end of the book through Style’s journey, is not at fulfilling as a deep relationship with someone. It’s obvious to see that while the life of a pickup artist might seem amazing and flashy, its obvious by the end that none of those guys were living happy and fulfilling lives. The smart ones got out and realized that it wasn’t the way to live.

While it was an amazing adventure of a book, I’m glad it ended the way it did. It really reminds the reader that while it might all sound exciting, he knows first hand that it’s not a life that’s worth it.

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The author Neil Strauss chronicles the stories and lessons learned during his two years within the secret society of the most notorious pickup artists.



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