The Secret To Picking Up Women

In our exclusive interview, best-selling author Neil Strauss reveals how it’s done.

By Laura Gilbert

ver wonder why some guys seem to have the magic touch when it comes to chatting up women? That’s what writer Neil Strauss was curious about, and so he spent two years studying the art of picking up women, learning the ropes from MPUA’s (master pick-up artists). He’s now earned that title for himself
People’s biggest fear isn’t heights or death; it’s social humiliation.
and reveals his secrets in the best-seller, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-Up Artists. We chatted with Neil about what a regular guy can learn from the masters.

Let’s start at the beginning: What are the key characteristics of an AFC—an average, frustrated chump?

I was an AFC. I was literally the guy painting a girl’s house for her while she was out on a date with another guy. An AFC is a guy who doesn’t understand attraction, so he always winds up in the friend zone without knowing why, because he’s too nice.

What are the basic ideas behind being a successful pick-up artist?

Be interesting and interested; be confident and competent. Of course, it’s easier said than done. But, and this is true for men and women, the harder you chase someone, the lower your value becomes. You’re better off making yourself a challenge, so that when she gets you, she values you and wants to keep you.

Why do guys focus so much on meeting women rather than, say, how to act once you’re on a date?

The approach is the scariest part for guys. People’s biggest fear isn’t heights or death; it’s social humiliation. These guys are also just as obsessed about learning how to be good in bed, because that will keep a woman coming back. But all of the things I learned about courtship or seduction were completely useless when it came to having a relationship. It’s just a different skill set. I’d still love to learn!

What should a guy say if he wants to meet a woman?

It’s not what you say. If there were a magic line that could make a woman attracted to you, every guy in the world would be using it. There are so many more things you communicate with body language—like if you have less energy than the group you’re entering, it doesn’t matter what you say, you’re going to be a drag. Some guys use a line like, “Hey, I need a quick opinion on something,” and ask about a made-up situation your friend is having with his girlfriend.

Or try a topic that gets your friends talking. One night we were trying to think of all the oceans, and we couldn’t remember the last one. So instead of looking it up, we decided to go ask someone at a bar. If you’re at a bar asking someone about geography, the last thing someone’s going to think is that you’re hitting on them. Next time you’re in a group of friends making them laugh, think about what you’re saying, write that down and use it later! Your goal is to be the friendly guy at a bar, which buys you time to show the woman your personality.

What if a guy’s still getting “go-away” signals?

One thing we learn is the all-purpose exit line: “It was a pleasure meeting you.” Some guys get angry if they get rejected, but if you act on it, you ruin the interaction for yourself. If
Someone would have to be really rude to tell you to go away.
you leave politely, she may still see you later that night talking to another group and want to come back and find out just what you were asking her about. If you do it right, you won’t get rejected at all.

Would these same techniques work, regardless of a guy’s looks?

Oh yeah. It’s not about looks or age, for that matter—women are attracted to status. If you walk into a club and everyone is looking at you and talking to you, people will want to meet you no matter what you look like. What’s definitely important is to be well-groomed. Looks don’t matter, but you’ve got to have clothes that fit—at the bare minimum!

How successful can a guy expect to be when he’s starting conversations with strangers?

If you practice it enough, you can succeed 95% of the time. The key is that you’re not hitting on them or making them uncomfortable, you’re just asking a general question. Someone would have to be really rude to tell you to go away. It doesn’t mean you’ll have a relationship, and you may find out the woman is married, but at least you had the conversation.

What about when a woman has already looked over and made eye contact or smiled?

That’s great—once she smiles, you have three seconds to go in and start a conversation. If you wait too long, you’re going to overthink it and ruin it. If you’re really obvious about it, you creep people out. But guys don’t usually pick up on sub-communication like eye contact. Women think they’re being totally obvious, but guys are clueless. I always wanted to have 100% certainty before I’d go talk to a woman, and you just don’t get that. Once you learn how to read social cues, you can throw away the rules and trust your instincts.

What’s the best thing you learned?

I used to be really insecure about my looks—I even considered plastic surgery. In college I had a duffel bag full of books about how to flirt, and they didn’t work. But I can finally be happy with myself, because I was able to be successful, which just proved that it was all personality. You always hear “Oh, just be yourself,” but you have to be your best self, and some people haven’t found themselves or need to improve themselves. Men are never really encouraged down the path of how to accent their best qualities.

And what do you know about women now that you never would have guessed before?

That they don’t have to be tricked or manipulated—they might want exactly what you want. If you’re straight up and don’t pretend to be their friend when you want a relationship or pretend to want one when you don’t, they’ll pick up on it.

So what should a guy who wants to learn do?

Hang out with someone more successful with women than you, watch them, and you’re on your way.

Freelance writer Laura Gilbert lives in New York City and has written for Maxim, Cosmopolitan, and Health.
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