Dude, Don’t ‘Neg’

What’s less authentic than entering into a ‘spontaneous’ social interaction with a script? Hugo Schwyzer argues that ‘negging’ isn’t cool.

Maybe you’ve heard a line like this at a party or in a bar, from a man to a woman he barely knows:

“You have a pretty face, but you’d be even prettier if you’d lose the bangs.”

Chances are, unless it’s coming from a gay hairstylist trolling for clients, that you’ve just witnessed a “neg-hit,” the basic tactic in “negging.”

If there’s one technique in the pick-up artist (PUA) repertoire about which I hear more often than anything else, it’s “negging.” The urban dictionary helpfully defines negging as “the offering of low-grade insults meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to your advances.” The idea is simple: women, particularly beautiful ones, are so accustomed to compliments that they’ve grown immune to their power. But make a “hot” woman think you don’t think she’s all that, and she’ll be eating out of your hand. Or so the peddlers of seduction wisdom would have their customers believe.

Though I’m suspicious of most of what the professional PUAs are selling, I do appreciate that they’re meeting a very real need. We live in a culture where heterosexual men are still frequently expected to be the initiators, to make the first move. For many men who lack the requisite self-confidence and self-esteem to approach a woman in a way that won’t annoy or unnerve her, the PUAs teach valuable techniques. Some of those techniques are solid common sense; others are soaked in misogyny. Some men who pay significant sums to be coached in “game” are happy with the results, some aren’t. But almost all are, at one point or another, taught to “neg.”


The problem with negging (whether it’s done as part of formal PUA technique or not) is that it’s rooted in men’s suspicion that too many women think too highly of themselves. Listen to PUAs and Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), and you’ll hear a familiar litany: most women expect too much. Blame romance novels or television shows, pop psychology or feminism (the MRAs are especially fond of pinning all their woes on the last of these), but 21st century American women are too demanding—or so these lads claim. They want hot bods and fat wallets and empathy, like some perfect fusion of Johnny Depp, Mark Zuckerberg, and Dr. Drew.

So the “neggers” believe that the only way to combat women’s inflated sense of self-worth and expectation is to tear down their self-esteem. They operate on the cruel calculation that the less a woman believes she deserves, the more likely she is to “settle” for the likes of the game-playing PUA. Certainly, there’s a ton of anecdotal evidence to support the hypothesis that women’s low self-esteem is connected to a willingness to sleep with (and remain in relationships with) men who will treat them badly.

In their own defense, PUAs who neg claim that all they’re really trying to do is differentiate themselves from the legions of men who use and abuse compliments. Plenty of women have experience being on the receiving end of the cheesy flattery that is the standard stuff of traditional opening lines. “Am I in heaven? Because I’m looking at an angel” is likely to elicit an eye-roll and a snort.

The insincerity of these sorts of compliments is obvious, and as a result, their effectiveness is limited at best. The PUAs argue that by negging, they’re offering a genuinely honest alternative to the usual hokum of the bar scene. No woman really is an angel, after all; expressing limited, critical interest through a quick neg-hit (a one-line backhanded compliment) will be perceived, they hope, as more authentic. It works in part because of women’s insecurity, but it also works because effective negging is rooted in a tiny kernel of truth. (The opening example about a woman’s bangs only works if the woman actually has hair covering her forehead.)

The true effectiveness of this game, of course, lies in its subtle suggestion that the PUA has taken the time to notice the woman he’s negging. Many women—perhaps particularly stereotypically attractive women—have plenty of experience being stared at by men. They have less experience of feeling seen. The mixture of compliment and insult suggests both the absence of desperation (an admittedly attractive quality) and at least a glimmer of interest (otherwise, why would the negger speak up in the first place.). Used skillfully, there’s little question that negging can work.


Bullying and threats of violence can also get guys what they want. We have to do more than ask “what works,” we need to ask “is it worth using?” As tempting as it can be to buy into the myth that “women expect too much” and deserve to be taken down a peg, the reality is that most women don’t expect a fusion of Brad Pitt and Deepak Chopra. While there certainly are some women who have grossly unrealistic assumptions about what a relationship with a man can and should provide, men also tend to exaggerate the loftiness of women’s expectations. Wanting a guy to be well-groomed and equipped with a basic vocabulary for his own emotional terrain are not unreasonable desires. In most cases, the problem isn’t women expecting too much: it’s men offering too little.

But if the PUAs are wrong to try and work to reduce both women’s self-esteem and their expectations, they’re right to remind all of us that compliments grow stale and meaningless from overuse. They are right as well to encourage men not merely to stare but to take notice. And they are right that what we’re all hungry for is greater authenticity. Except, what’s less authentic than entering into a “spontaneous” social interaction with a script, feigning a mix of candor and lack of interest in the hopes of sparking curiosity and desire? Guys can do better than that.

—photo vagueonthehow/Flickr

About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website


  1. Not a big fan of this article, and I think it gets the point of the ‘neg’ wrong and the motivations of a pick-up artist wrong. My two bits:

    The ‘neg’, as I understand it, is intended to make a woman subconsciously desire approval; this of course requires the woman to pay attention to and otherwise interact with the PUA. On it’s own, the neg does nothing, it’s just a way to open the proceedings.

    Secondly, this is something that men who are “naturally” good at picking up women do all the time, yet somehow those who take a special class are the real d-bags because their doing with intention what more successful guys do on instinct.

    • Its also something that women do so much they are unaware of it, so much so that OP, who is also unaware of it, constructs men seeking the approval of women as the way it should be.

    • That doesn’t make me like the concept of negging any better… So some guy is trying to make me feel bad about myself as a way of manipulating me into needing his approval? Yuck. Life is hard enough. Why would I want to be with a man who is going to tear me down in order to make me dependent on him as a source of approval? That does not sound like the foundation of a healthy relationship to me.

      I do admit this technique probably works on insecure women with low self esteem. So you will probably get laid but the price will be the enormous contempt you feel for those women as a result of them being dumb enough to fall for your b.s. Essentially you will be a used car salesman exploiting the naive for your own pleasure. I guess that’s okay if you are willing to be that kind of person.

      • Susan

        “Thats no excuse”

        translation – its ok when women do it and when feminist professors say that men should seek the approval of women and attack the self esteem of men.


        Women do it and a bunch of other much nefarious manipulative stuff. I was reading an article discussing the latest best seller female game book and it was straight up advocating psychological abuse.

        Negging, in male game, is supposed to be playful teasing and done properly women enjoy it, whats more as the other poster pointed out, men that are very popular with women, do it. Thats how it discussion of it came up in the first place.

        It really is hypocritical of feminists to come along and moralize try to control male game when men don’t try to control female game and generally women hold the cards dating wise, have game advise thats mainstream and genuinely abusive and are the ones most likely to be genuinely abusive and controlling in relationships.

        Oh and look at your post, its two paragraphs of negging and shaming of both men and women.

        Male game also teaches men about the sexual hypocrisy and double standards that women hold.

        • Here Susan, from Hugos source.

          “A neg is not a light insult wrapped in a compliment, nor is it being mean for mean’s sake.

          The real definition of a neg (straight from the horse’s mouth): A neg is active disqualification. It shows that you aren’t hitting on a particular woman and don’t have interest in her *at that particular moment*. You’re not being mean, per se, you’re telling her that she does not meet your standards of attractiveness.

          It isn’t a direct comment, either. When you’re engaging a group you can “toss it like a pebble” at her or towards her social circle.

          Many, many guys use this the wrong way, and end up leaving people with a bad taste in their mouth. To be used by licensed professionals, only.
          A standard neg:

          “You and I would never get along. We’re too similar. You’d never take my sh*t, and I’d never take yours.”

          I think that quote is from a well know PUA, as you can see, its nowhere near as abusive as female game.

          • Sending the message “you don’t meet my standards of attractiveness” seems pretty mean to me. I realize that making lame compliments doesn’t work, but purposely playing on someone’s insecurties to build yourself up seems wrong. If women do it to men, it is also wrong when they do it. (Although honestly I don’t think most women intentionally try to hurt men’s feelings though men may take it that way when they are rejected.) I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t get all these complaints from men about women holding all the cards and how men have no power in relationships. Men get to choose, women have to wait around to be chosen, which is not very empowering except for maybe the top 10% of women who everyone is chasing. But I also realize that for PUA’s, women who are not perfect 10’s don’t exist so their views are probably skewed. The other 90% of women can buy cats.

            • If women are not content with having to wait until being chosen, they are free to initiate pick ups as well. I wonder what kind of world we would live in then.

            • Honestly, I wish I could do that, but it’s really not a feasible solution in most instances. This is the problem. If I just want a casual hookup, yeah, I suppose I could hit on a guy and ask him for sex. He might say yes. But all I’m going to get out of it is casual sex, which is fine as far as that goes, I guess, but usually that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m usually looking to get to know someone. Not necessarily like “I’m going to marry this guy” but as someone I might want to spend time getting to know. Go on a few fun dates and so on. See who he is as a person. Hopefully he’ll feel the same way about me. Getting casual sex from a guy tells me absolutely nothing about whether he is really interested or not. He may have just seen me as an opportunity for sex. Also, now I’ve proven to him I’m a total slut, so he probably has no respect for me and would never be interested in getting to know me better. Or he might just see me as a booty call in the future.

              Again, I’m sure there are women who want casual hookups but that’s not what I’m looking for in my interactions with men.

              Finally, as a woman who is a little older and not particularly “hot,” I assume that I’m not going to attract attention from a ton of guys. If a guy doesn’t express interest, my general conclusion is that he’s not interested. in that case, why would I waste time trying to pick him up? Why hit on someone who isn’t attracted to me? If I wait for the guy to express interest, at least I know he must feel some attraction so I’m halfway there.

            • If you don’t attract attention that is normaly an indication that you have to do the initiating yourself. This is something men have always faced. Picking up is a game where one loses most of the time.

            • AlekNovy says:


              1) that’s not true – casual sex can lead to more and is a GREAT way to get to know a person – really, truly. Going on dates is FAKE. Doing casual sex with someone you get to know the true person. Going on dates is both of you putting on a persona

              2) Its a numbers game, duh. Welcome to reality lol. Of course not every guy you’re gonna hookup with is gonna turn into something serious. There’s nothing wrong with that.

              Do you dislike sex or something? Because what’s wrong with enjoying a lot of different sex until the right guy comes along, i hear its better than dildoes… So, doing casual sex with different guys you’ve initiated with, is a much better option than waiting for the right guy to fall out of the sky.

              At least when you initiate, you meet 90% of your criteria, and you’re only hooking up with guys who already fit 90% of your criteria. If you wait around for guys to initiate, most of the time its gonna be guys who don’t even fit 5% of your criteria, lol :d so… Yeah, doesn’t make sense to me. Why would you spend so long waiting till an even half-decent prospect comes along? Isn’t it better to initiate with the decent prospects yourself? Doesn’t that increases your odds of finding a perfect one?

            • I don’t have a problem with sex, I’ve had one night stands and casual hookups. That’s why I know it’s not what want. I only really enjoy sex when I feel an emotional connection and trust. I can’t feel that with a random guy I just picked up, no matter how physically attractive he might be. Also, you didn’t address the slut issue. I don’t lie that word but it is not something that is possible to ignore. I firmly believe that the quickest way to ruin any potential for a relationship with a guy is too have casual sex with him. I’m not saying that casual hookups never lead to a relationship, but as a woman, you are running g a serious risk that the guy will view you as the village bicycle, everyone’s had a ride, to quote Austin Powers.

            • Sarah

              “Men get to chose, women have to wait to be chosen”

              Thats not how it works at all, men approach with a high rejection rate, women chose rejecting most men that approach them”.

              And you can quite easily approach men, and experience a much higher success rate than men do.

            • AlekNovy says:

              “And you can quite easily approach men, and experience a much higher success rate than men do.”

              That’s very true, and objectively and undeniably provable, yet most women chose to form their arguments and beliefs as-if it wasn’t.

              Its an objective fact that women do get as much as 10x better results when they do approaching, initiating sex, initiating dates, calling first etc. Yet all discussions proceed as if women don’t.

            • As I’ve said, most of what PUa’s say about women having all the power applies to a minority of highly attractive women. We could call them alpha females, to turn around PUA jargon. Beta females, if you want to call them that, have no more power than so-called beta males. Beta females get ignored rather than rejected outright but it is the same thing. Going to a social event where not one guy wants to talk to you feels like a complete rejection for the female involved. This is something men really don’t uderstand because they only see the alpha females. The beta females and what they experience is invisible. If beta females do approach guys and try to initiate, they will get rejected just as often as beta males get rejected.

            • AlekNovy says:

              Beta females, if you want to call them that, have no more power than so-called beta males. Beta females get ignored rather than rejected outright but it is the same thing

              No its not. A “beta female” will only get asked out twice a year instead of twice a month, but she still gets asked out and is offered love, appreciation etc…

              You compare a small number to a zero. The beta guy has zero, the beta girl only has a relatively smaller number than the alpha girl, but a zero is infinitely small, so its not a fair comparison.

              Going to a social event where not one guy wants to talk to you feels like a complete rejection for the female involved.

              I’ve heard this distinction so many times and I get OFFENDED each time. We know that women are used to their privilege, but rubbing it in men’s faces like this is just downright insulting. For 2 reasons.

              1) You say “no man wants to talk to you” which is SEVERELY misleading statement… Because women who say this do not try to talk to men and get rebuffed, they simply don’t get approached. Even the hottest girls don’t get approached most of the time.

              2) The false equivalency is downright insulting. Saying that a man not taking the risk of you rejecting ad humiliating him = is equal to = being rejected and humiliated is just insulting.

              By the logic of that claim, the average guy rejects and humiliates 36,500 women in a YEAR… Because this is how many we pass by on an average day without appraching them.

              See the double bind there? If guys approach every woman they’re seen as idiotic freaks, but if they don’t, they’re seen as rejecting women.

              If beta females do approach guys and try to initiate, they will get rejected just as often as beta males get rejected.

              THATS A PURE LIE – Sorry for shouting, but that’s just downright insulting in how untrue it is.

              The beta girl not only will not get rebuffed, she can even get dates most of the time. Men just don’t reject women anywhere near as often.

              Maybe if she approached celebrities she might see some, but no, even those guys will be nice to her at least. Men just simply are much nicer about being approached – they don’t rebuff women.

            • Look, you don’t know anything about the experience of being a woman. Like most guys, you have a fantasy about what life is like for women which is based on highly attractive women, who are the only women in your consciousness. Women get rebuffed all the time, sometimes cruelly. I know women who are great, funny, successful people who haven’t had a date in years. Why? Because they aren’t hot looking. And for that matter, I don’t think one or two dates a year qualifies as a successful or satisfying romantic life.

              Don’t denigrate the feelings or life experience of people you know nothing about. You would be the first to tell me I know nothing about being a man and you are right. I’m not saying things aren’t difficult for men but don’t think things are easy for women. You have that totally wrong.

            • I think these statements are quite entertaining after having visited yet another feminist site where women claim to know everything about what motivates men, what men think and how men live their lives.

              So, in essence. Men should accept they can’t know what life is like for a woman, yet somehow feminist women know everything about what life is like for men. There is something rather fishy in this line of argument.

            • 8of10, if you read my comment I acknowledged I don’t know what male experience is like. Do you think men have some special powers of insight into what women experience?

              The point is, dating is hard for everybody. Men and women both have struggles. Some struggles are similar and some are different. It isn’t a competition to prove that one gender is worse off than the other in the dating market.

              FYI, I read and comment on articles like this because I’m interested in understanding men better. I’m not over on feminist websites because I don’t learn anything there.

            • Susan, who has the power: the guy being iapplying for a job, or the one doing the interview?

              Sure, the interviewer gets to “pick” which job they apply for (which girl to hit on) but after that? It’s all in the employer/interviewer’s hands.

          • p.s. I was talking to a guy once (he approached me in a public place) and he asked me “how old are you?”. I told him I was 26. (This was a few years ago — I’m a bit older now LOL). He said, “Really? I would have guessed 30.” Ouch! I told him I had to be somewhere and went home and spent the next hour looking for lines in my face. Seriously, it made me feel like crap. I thought about that comment for literally years. In fact, here I am talking about it now.

            I assume that was a “neg” but it didn’t make me feel favorably inclined to get to know that guy.

            • Susan

              You just claimed that women that are not perfect 10s dont exist for PUAs, then you said someone negged you. So are you saying that you are a perfect 10 or are you admitting that you made an inaccurate generalization?

              Anyway, your story about the wrinkles, thats pretty funny and yeah Id say that was probably supposed to be a neg, used the wrong way, I don’t think the idea of the neg is wrong, but it can be misunderstood and misused, as in that case.

              Its not commonly used, or not supposed to be anyway. I treat game like I do spirituality and psychology, I take what I like for personal use and disguard the rest and I generally see it as a good thing, there is lots to be learned from it.

              TGMP and certain feminists, have an agenda to paint it as being inherently bad and something that its not, thats pretty much why I’m posting in defense of it, because these people are dishonest and have a nefarious agenda when it comes to the mens equality movement.

            • I was 26, I’d been spending a lot of time at then gym that summer and I think the light was bad. LOL. So no I’m not a perfect 10 and wasnt then, although I probably was looking my best that summer compared to other times in my life.

              This was a few years ago, before anyone had heard of PUA training or techniques. I assume he was a “natural” in that case.

              I’ve read quite a bit about what’s now known as pickup artistry and yes, it does seem to be heavily skewed towards perfect 10’s and hot babes. All the emphasis on women having power I think relates to a minority of women who have a lot of options because they are extremely attractive. The majority of women have relatively little power in the dating market in my view because men are not I retested and overlook them.

              Even at 26, I had difficulties in that area because I was shy, nerdy, and “too smart,” I didn’t like rolling myself up or wearing a lot of makeup or revealing clothes (still don’t). So, yeah, well men hit on me once and awhile, it wasn’t exactly a frequent experience.

            • The oneness of Ju Ju says:


              You are on another thread saying that when you signal that you show your cleavage, you can be hit on 10 times in an evening, thats more times than a lower ranking male will be hit on in his life time.

              And, you cant just make up a new reality when it suits, like that. Whatever about lying, its frustrating for men in gender type debate, who will generally try debate in good faith trying to converse with feminists, who generally won’t, and it only serves to reinforce negative stereotypes about feminists..

            • My point on the other thread was that I get way, way more attention by showing cleavage, when I don’t show cleavage I get virtually no attention ever. The difference is dramatic.

              I’ve never said I never get hit on. I occasionally get hit on. when I was younger I got hit on more, except during a period of my life where I was 60 pounds overweight, at which time I never ever got hit on EVER, not even by heavy guys (someone commented upthread that fat women get attention from fat guys but that is not true at all).

              The point I am trying to make is that the PUA’s are wrong when they keep,saying women have all this power in the dating realm. That’s only true of some women. Plenty of women never get dates, never get hit on and never get the slightest interest from men.

            • Oneness of Ju Ju says:

              On this thread you said you are rarely hit on.

              On the other you said that you can get hit on 10 times in one night

              This is why your movement is losing all its credibility, too many lies.

            • On the other thread, I said I rarely get hit on unless I show a lot of cleavage, however I’m not comfortable doing that so — I rarely get hit on.

              Yes, I suppose I could wear low cut tops every where but I don’t want to do that.

              So men bitching that women have all this sexual power — I’m one of the ones they are ignoring while they chase after the women in skimpy tops. My point is they are only considering a minority of women — the highly attractive ones who flaunt their sexuality

              Besides women who aren’t comfortable with turning themselves into walking sex objects, there are also older women, fatter women, women who aren’t pretty, disabled women etc. Who have very little if any sexual power – just like so called beta males.

              I’m not saying men have to pursue any women they aren’t attracted to, but if you think all women are demons wielding vast sexual powers over poor men, you are just wrong.

      • I get your queasiness with all of this Susan – I don’t really have enough knowledge on the topic of PUA’s, though instinctually, it all seems a bit off. But instinctually, I possess an inbred aversion to the use of “tactics” and their application to love, sexuality, romance and all those fine and pretty things. Rationally though, I know that all actions are in one way or another, a tactic, and romanticizing one over another is nothing more than a sleight of hand. Then again, not all things (tactics) are equal, so that too should be part of the conversation.

        Just last week, I quipped sarcastically to this one dude, who was prancing about, puffing his chest, something along the lines of…. “you probably still live in your mother’s basement…don’t you”

        He was very cute and charming, though pea-cocking a little too much for my then tolerance level. In light of this discussion, it looks like I negged him…

        • Ah Alissa, thanks so much for demonstrating that negging is standard operating procedure for women. All you feminists should go here for an unbiased opinion of game.

          htt p://www.feministcritics.org/blog/about/seduction-communitypickup-artists/

          Rather than listening to the charlatans that write about it for TGMP.

  2. Un-good man says:


    “No, I merely related to an anecdotal example since the topic is about ridiculing gamers. I said I know gamers who decide to work out the mental issues on their own, and so they do “inner-game” thing they call it (solving your mental issues) but they never leave the house.”

    Yeah, you relating things that are being said that aren’t about game, to game, you are deep in game land and just think that you are not.

    Also, you claimed just going out and socializing without an agenda to pick up is rare, thats not true. Ive often done it, my social scene when I was regularly pubbing and clubbing was a group just socializing together, your belief that everyone is always on the pick up and that socializing normally is some new idea comes from the fact that you have been in game land for so long, so long that you think that not being a ladies man is something new.

    There are plenty of “mans men”, and “people men” out there, you just wont meet too many of them if you are deep in the gaming community for a decade.

    I guess your idea is to not be a “ladies man”, or a “mans man” and be a people person.

    • AlekNovy says:

      Also, you claimed just going out and socializing without an agenda to pick up is rare

      No I didn’t. You have reading comprehension problems. I said its rare for men to INTERACT with a woman they’re INTERESTED in without an agenda – no matter how they met her.

      I didn’t say men don’t leave the house without an agenda – where did I say this. You guys are like huge projection machines.

      , your belief that everyone is always on the pick up and that socializing normally is some new idea comes from the fact that you have been in game land for so long, so long that you think that not being a ladies man is something new.

      No dude…. It IS a new thing to NOT pursue women you’re interested in sexually. Most men (99%) of the population, when they meet a woman they’re interested in – they immediatelly think in terms of “what do I do to get her, how do I get a date with her, how do I impress her, do I buy her flowers, do I ask her out, etc”

      • Ok

        So you as saying that when men meet women that they are sexually interested in, they should just act naturally and go with flow instead of thinking of traditional role playing.

        Sorry bud, this isn’t new. When I was out clubbing and pubbing and going to after parties, and that was in non meat venues, and there is a clear distinction between pubs and clubs where people go to get drunk and pick up and places that are more about the music and the culture, the sort of interaction you are talking about was not uncommon, not to me anyway. Guys that would be all as you describe, would have been seen as “not cool”.

        This is in Europe though, where dating rituals are less pronounced and there is less complexity surrounding dating.

        • AlekNovy says:

          I’m in europe… You and your strawmans… sigh…

          distinction between pubs and clubs where people go to get drunk and pick up and places that are more about the music and the culture, the sort of interaction you are talking about was not uncommon, not to me anyway. Guys that would be all as you describe, would have been seen as “not cool”.

          Dude, do you have a mental block that prevents you from reading what I’m saying. I DID NOT SAY ANY of the things you’re telling me doesn’t happen. I DID NOT SAY —> that guys go around and hit on random women. You seem to be reading that – you’re READING things I’m not saying.

          WHAT I AM SAYING IS: When men MEET a woman they’re interested in, they start PURSUING her and start thinking of an agenda.

          I didn’t say men pursue every woman on the planet. I didn’t say most guys run around hitting on random women. I didn’t say that guys run around trying to pick up everything in sight. – yet that’s what you’re answering in regards to.

          Men NEVER let a woman pursue them – EVER. Most guys, if they’re interested in a woman and are interested in her

          – they either attempt to get her
          – or decide they have no chance

          If they try to get her, they start thinking of things to do and say in order to GET her to like them. Make sense? Or are you again going to answer “nah dude, most guys don’t hit on everyone in the street”

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Let’s make an analogy: If you, your therapist, or your friends, insist you man up and actually jump out of an airplane–the concept of which terrifies you–and you try, there will be physical manifestations of your fear. High blood pressure, incoherent thinking, pale face, staring eyes, racing pulse, wondering if you’re going to piss your pants. But, possibly with a shove from your instructor, you jump.
    Success. You’ve jumped and you’ve conquered your fears. The presumption is that you will jump, and, having jumped, feel you’ve succeeded, and the next time will be easier….
    Let’s say, instead, you’re pushed into approaching a woman. The physical manifestations of your fear–see above–guarantee you’ll fail.
    Simply saying go for it has its downsides.
    PUA, negging or anything else, has its place since there’s NOTHING ELSE out there. If somebody thinks of a better way, you could make a lot of money.
    Start right in.

  4. Pickup is an interesting problem… and a perfect example of how Feminism Can Be Good For Men. PU exists because, as many have pointed out, there exists this idea that Men should be naturally good at attracting women, or they are “losers” or “creeps.” This is not a problem caused by “superior” women harshly judging men, but rather the stringent gender roles imposed on both men and women (Man is aggressive pursuer, Woman is passive target etc.) Restricting women to a “passive” role in seduction naturally requires men to occupy the opposite. The negative gender roles mutually reinforce.

    And these roles leave many man feeling inadequate – they lack the skills they “should have naturally as a Man” – which creates a niche which is filled by pickup programs teaching the men those skills. I think there is a genuine need to teach People explicitly about the best ways to attract someone they’re interested in. (Slight tangent: I disagree with the characterization of Pickup as “fake” – this just plays into the construct that says Men should naturally know how to do these things. You need some training wheels to learn any new skill.) It’s a good skill set to have. However, both Cosmo tips and PUA tips play on existing roles and misogynist stereotypes, and both portray dating and sexuality as blue vs. pink zero sum game… which leads to the many problems with pickup/dating guides in general.

    Pickup, as it exists, is a Bad Thing. Under the bullshit and misogyny, there are some good techniques which don’t abuse a woman’s self esteem. But even those are delivered with the zero sum narrative. But if pickup (in its current form) goes away, then there’s still that niche… so I’ll end with a question:

    What should we teach men who want to be better at attracting the people they’re attracted to?

    • Actually Hugo himself on his blog talked about how other men should help the unfortunate men. I am still waiting for Hugo to dish out anything that isn’t a long list of things that shouldn’t be done, or even start telling women that they should do the initiating for once.

      • dungone says:

        That’s because the only thing that Hugo really has to offer is for men to stick to their predefined gender roles and play by the rules.

        • AlekNovy says:

          That’s because the only thing that Hugo really has to offer is for men to stick to their predefined gender roles and play by the rules.

          And what’s worse – if you’re not naturally good at the pre-defined gender-roles, hugo will try to shame you and say that makes you a really really bad person.

          The extremely sucky thing about the pre-defined gender roles is that you can only be good at them if you’ve only been good at them since forever – you can’t become good at the later in life. Mostly because you need to be in the top 5% of men when it comes to reading women’s intentions etc – and that part is biological.

          Women in the past used to be forgiving if you were less than amazing in the traditional “dating” script – but today, anything less than absolute proficiency taints you as bad, evil, idiot, ahole etc…

          And its also catch 22 – men’t can’t become proficient at the old scripts, because to become proficient, you need to do something with some success. But they’re not afforded success, because they’re not proficient.

        • I would be content if Hugo realized that he is speaking from an extremely privileged position. I haven’t had a single date in my entire life. When Hugo was my age, he was well into wrecking his second marriage.

    • dungone says:

      I don’t think it’s enough to “give men the skills” because those skills come from a very complex system of rewards and status symbols that are granted throughout a lifetime of socialization. And part of that whole package are a set of strict gender roles and predefined courting rituals that we are all heavily vested in. And part of that socialization seems to say that women are virtuous and that it’s men’s role to court women by living up to a “worthy” set of standards. I went to see Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio and I walked out with a sick feeling in my gut because that’s exactly what that opera conveyed. 230 years and nothing’s changed.

      We are all heavily vested in our gender roles and we want to think that if we have a beautiful wife, we “earned” her and if we have a husband then he’s really as “successful” as he seems. Pickup, whether it works or not, is all about subverting those gender roles by finding their inherent flaws. It’s kind of like counting cards at Blackjack. If it works, the only way to prevent it is to forbid anyone from doing it.

      • “We are all heavily vested in our gender roles and we want to think that if we have a beautiful wife, we “earned” her and if we have a husband then he’s really as “successful” as he seems. Pickup, whether it works or not, is all about subverting those gender roles by finding their inherent flaws”.

        Great quote, and I think thats why feminists find game so intimidating and want to control it. How subversive it is to female privilege.

        • “Subverting” is not equivalent to “exploiting,” and I think that Pickup is more the latter. If gender roles were being subverted, then pickup would be fundamentally unable to make generalizations based on gender – pickup, if it truly subverted and dismantled gender roles, would be gender neutral – a goal, I think, that would be worthwhile. I really think it’d be possible to write a useful guide to dating/seduction that works and applies equally regardless of your gender or orientation.

          An example of how Pickup supports gender stereotypy – it relies heavily on evolutionary psychology texts such as “The Red Queen” for support of its ideas. Evolutionary Psychology is scientifically dubious as its hypotheses are unprovable by experimentation because you can never control for “culture” as a variable, and indeed, because the events it labels as causal happened in the past and as such can only be modelled or inferred, but never actually empirically tested, and totally fails to acknowledge more parsimonious accounts of how such behaviour might be acquired (For example, selection by consequences in the lifetime of the organism.)

          • I so much agree with you about the misunderstanding of evolutionary psychology. For example I always see PUA’s citing Richard Dawkins as an evolutionary psychologist when he is actually an evolutionary BIOLOGIST. And they cite The Selfish Gene as some sort of Bible when I doubt any of them have read it, much less understood it. Dawkins himself has said that he’s dismayed that people use his theories as support for the idea that human beings are, or should be, selfish, which is essentially social darwinism. Genes are selfish; people can be kind, generous and altruistic; evolution supports both (I.e. Evolution can favor altruism)

          • dungone says:

            Anthony, exploitation and subversion are not mutually exclusive. The correct term depends on context. If you’re referring to attempts (scientific or not) to identify and exploit psychological differences between the sexes, you’re talking about gender traits. Those aren’t the same thing as gender roles, which are culturally defined, and so therefore one can exploit gender traits in order to subvert gender roles. Much of Pickup could be nonsensical in another context, such as a culture that does prearranged marriages. It may not have gained prominence had we lived in a healthier society that paid attention to everything from bullying to the massive wealth inequality, factors that create a cultural hegemony which is then reinforced by almost every aspect of our gender roles. For better or worse pickup is about turning that cultural hegemony upside-down, promising “undateable” classes of men to find a way out of their predicament. They’re trying everything from male makeup and feather boas to the asteisms known as “negs”, and how can anyone who looks at it claim that it doesn’t undermine gender roles? It just doesn’t do it the way feminists had envisioned. And some of them are misogynist, but so what? You can be misogynist and still subvert gender roles just as you can be a feminist and still be a total bigot.

    • AlekNovy says:

      What should we teach men who want to be better at attracting the people they’re attracted to?

      I think we should just continue asking this question until we get an answer. These guys, and especially hugo always just post a big list of DONT’S, or when they do post DO’s – they’re vague, such as “well, just be good to women, and don’t be an idiot”.

      • Been mulling this a lot since yesterday, and I’ve written a couple of things that I’ve either deleted or filed away as “way too long and only just started already.”

        One of the problems with a lot of dating advice is that it is of the form “Women like…” and “Men like…” Not only does this reinforce stereotypes which are problematic anyway, they’re only targeted at most people of that gender in your culture if they even work. And most effective on the most average of men/women (in the statistical sense.) So… maybe an improvement for many, but faaar from ideal.

        What’s needed is gender neutral advice that translates into actual behaviours that people can learn. I think the gender neutral categories for this ought to be:
        1) Recognize what is Good about you as a potential partner.
        2) Recognize what you find to be Good in a partner. Neither (1) nor (2) need be a static list. Self is a fluid thing, and defined by context. But try to make your definition of Good something you can be sincere and proud of, that does not require the approval nor the putting down of another.
        3) Find a person that has (2) and communicate (1) effectively. Hopefully that person does the same, and if you are well matched, things will proceed.
        4) If things do not proceed, that’s alright, because you are centred in what is good about you, and realise that even though you like who you are, no-one else is required to do so. Part amiably.

        Now, acheiving all that… welll… erm. (1) and (2) require one to learn self knowledge. Tough thing, but there’s a skill set we could all afford to have.

        (3) Requires both a) Finding A Person with Certain Traits and b) Communicating your attractiveness effectively to them.

        So there’s a refined question:

        How does one
        a) Find and recognize a person he would be attracted to?
        b) Communicate his Interest and his Value
        c) Cope with mutual incompatibility? (Deliberate use of an alternative to “rejection.”)

        I think these are very learnable skills. All of them, but particularly a-c. And I don’t think these skills need to take the form of “Women like…” How about “To acheive a), a person should…”

  5. “Pick up as it exists is a bad thing”

    No, its not. Nor should a political movement based on lies and manipulations control human dating. Whats more feminism creates the emasculated men and the nice guys turned nasty that contribute much of the misogny that is there in the PUA community.

    Also, by your own logic and qualifications both female game and feminism are “Bad Things” and should go because of the bullshit and misandry.

    In Sweden where feminism is more advanced, women complain that of they didn’t make the first move and lead the conversations that nothing would happen so the gender roles that feminism seeks to enforce, aren’t ideal either.

    Women already produce a surplus of game advise for women that often advocates psychological abuse and male game advice, even though its not been around as long, is far more intelligent and comprehensive.

    Feminism is a gynocentric movement populated by little girls who think that they are entitled to “have it all” and gynocentric self loathing men that is experiencing the early stages of a large back lash, wanting to control the male gaming community and dating advise, should be the least of its worries.

    All that said, feminism is more then welcome to encourage women to approach men, but from what Ive seen coming from the feminists that write about game here, their agenda is to maintain the old fashioned gender roles, with the woman situated as the chooser.

    • “In Sweden where feminism is more advanced, women complain that of they didn’t make the first move and lead the conversations that nothing would happen so the gender roles that feminism seeks to enforce, aren’t ideal either.”
      Dude, I live in Sweden. I have seen nothing of these claims that you make.

      • Hello 8of10, Im sorry for making generalisations like that. I’m basing my opinions on the following bits that I have read.
        “Frustrated, I decided to call an expert: Swedish author and dating guru Marie Hagberg… “You expect a guy to make the first move, but in Sweden he won’t unless he’s really drunk,” Hagberg said… “Men here are very timid,”… But why don’t they pay? “Men think women earn almost as much as they do, so why should they pay? I think that’s bullshit,” she said…
        “I slowly start to realize that a Swedish man on a first date is like a lost puppy trying to find his way. He knows not how to approach a lady, carry a conversation, or to offer to pay. Poor things. I almost feel sorry for them. And I couldn’t help but wonder what could be responsible for stunting the dating intelligence of Swedish men so severely. Hagberg’s answer catches me off guard. “It has to do with our social welfare system,” she exclaims… “Here nobody is supposed to take care of their own life or future and people consider the government responsible for everything. That has coloured the world of dating, and gone overboard.”
        ht tp://lastfirstdate.com/2010/cultural-differences-in-the-dating-world/

        “With gender equality comes further dating awkwardness: By American standards, Swedish men are painfully slow to make the first romantic move. “Men treat women like friends,” Anna-Maria says. “They rarely chat you up, unless they’re drunk.” Instead, Anna-Maria often does the asking herself. “Sure, I’d like to be chased, but men have grown lazy in Sweden. So I take the initiative. Though I have to say, it detracts from the sexual intrigue.”
        htt p://alternateturquoise.blogspot.com/2008/06/sweden-best-place-for-women-to-live.html

        So with that situation, and Marcotte and Schyyzer promoting the traditional roles and the idea that women are superior, feminism isnt offering any solutions.

        Here’s another relevent article. “Why feminism is the anti viagra”
        htt p://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/billion-wicked-thoughts/201104/why-feminism-is-the-anti-viagra

        • BTW

          I disagree with the prostitutive attitude of the american woman in the first article I quoted.

        • That swedish dating coach sounds a lot like a conservative loon. I can understand that a person like that doesn’t like the current dating climate in Sweden.

          • 8of10

            I think that the American woman with her blend of prostitution, misandry, condensation and disrespect comes off the worst of the three and Eda Von Sydow comes off very self centered but is hardly a Conservative figure and she is saying pretty much the same thing as the Swedish Dating Marie Hagberg, with the exception of saying that the welfare state is whats effecting behaviour, the blog post that features Eda Von Sydow cites “gender equality” as the source so I think that both are pointing to the feminist state as the reason, just one is saying it more directly than the other.

            I think its interesting where the issues overlap, the creation of the “nice guy” who is not assertive is present in both cultures and you can see the contempt the american woman has for the nice guy, that we have been discussing here on the thread.

        • But isn’t this what you all have been saying you want – women initiate, men can be passive?

    • “Whats more feminism creates the emasculated men and the nice guys turned nasty that contribute much of the misogny that is there in the PUA community.”

      I’d argue that patriarchal gender roles create these men. The negative female gender roles that feminism most famously target are not the whole picture – the patriarchal society define women and men as opposites, and as such, strict female gender roles require an opposite in the male. Most of these opposites are Good for Men, but it also paints a picture of “real men” – who, amongst many other things, should be naturally able to attract women, initiate contact, and generally strive to be “alpha.” This is why we have “emasculated” men and “nice guys turned nasty.” (guys who are unhappy because they place value on a gender image as unattainable to most as the “Perfect 10 Supermodel” is for women.) Even the word emasculated evokes that image of a losable manhood. Not a fun gender role, right? Not feminism’s fault. It was there already. All feminism did was convince a whole lot of men and women that that kind of gender role should be done away with.

      “Also, by your own logic and qualifications both female game and feminism are “Bad Things” and should go because of the bullshit and misandry”

      If by “female game” you mean dating guides the likes of which are printed in Cosmo, then Hell Yes. File under “Supporting the same gender role stereotypy as Pickup.”

      And as for Feminism… It’s not a zero sum game. Feminism is trying to deconstruct gender roles that constrain and hurt both men and women.

      • I disagree.

        The emasculated male is a product of feminism, lack of father figures who have bee driven out of the family, degenerated by feminist social engineering and emasculating women that have been taught to disrespect men and masculinity create emasculated men, then women in the culture reject emasculated men and call them losers and creeps while attacking value to men that have retained healthy masculinity.

        And Patriarchy theory is pretty much discredited now anyway isn’t it?

        I find feminists very similar to followers of other religions, everything is explained in their holy scripture.

        And when feminists are campaigning to shut down womens prisons and remove the presumption of innocence for men and a host of other examples I can give, it is a zero sum game. The outcome of feminism is all people that are born with a male genes are born criminals.

        Feminism, underneath the equality rhetoric is a zer

        • o sum game for men, its a human rights issue.

        • Feminists are:

          People who have privilege based on gender, who are using that power to subjugate, demean, and victimize those not of that gender, specifically using social construction/engineering to create gender roles that weaken their victims – In this instance, the roles of the Omega/ Beta men who are emasculated, and then demeaned and mocked for their weakness. The most powerful way they demean these men (who are in the majority) is with reference to a rare, and mostly unattainable standard of Masculinity (true Alphas, whom the women claim to loathe but simultaneously desire.)

          This power is also used to manipulate political structures to perpetuate that power, such as diminishing the legal rights of men, particularly with regard to their families, and also to use socially supported blame as a weapon to make it impossible for them to win in cases involving sexual assault.

          I think that’s a fair description of the scenario you are presenting, right?

          I would suggest that then, the most powerful way to defeat such an enemy would be to deconstruct gender roles and power structures based on them, and free men from the constraints of this woman-imposed version of manhood, allowing each individual to define his own gender and what that means as he wishes, free from the matriarchal power structures reinforced by society. Certainly, outright aggression against the oppressors won’t work, because they hold the power. It’s only by changing the discourse that GIVES them that power that we can gain equal rights for victims of gender-related discrimination.

          Now, stop for a moment. Realise that that paragraph is precisely the goal of Feminism, and that with a few word swaps, you would be describing the struggle of womens rights. Consider that the last paragraph describes a pretty good world for everyone. And consider that if Feminism is as you think it is in reality, then the best way to combat this evil feminism is to create a movement that closely resembles an Ideal Feminism. Perhaps the label of Feminism should not apply to this kind of movement, but its goals would be remarkably similar.

          I believe that there a lot of problems men in the 21st century have to face, that are related to gender roles and how they damage men. You and I disagree fundamentally on who is to blame. But can you accept that the methods by which these things can be set to rights actually result in a movement that resembles an Ideal Feminism? One that would be best served by bringing together people of all genders to collectively dismantle the systems that oppress and constrain us all and privileges some above others?

        • Go to:
          Why do you even bother pursuing women? You obviously hate them.

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    The Patriarchy generates such contempt for women’s interests that we have a rape culture. The Patriarchy causes the Nice Guy phenomenon which creeps out women.
    The Patriarchy. Is there anything it can’t do?

  7. SnakeEyez says:

    The urban dictionary helpfully defines negging as “the offering of low-grade insults meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to your advances.” The idea is simple: women, particularly beautiful ones, are so accustomed to compliments that they’ve grown immune to their power. But make a “hot” woman think you don’t think she’s all that, and she’ll be eating out of your hand.

    “…It’s called SELF ESTEEM! it’s the ESTEEM of your #### SELF! how the #### could i #### up how you feel about YOUUUU…”
    – Kat Williams

    As someone that has been in the pick up community, worked in night clubs and has used negs in the past(I really don’t need them anymore) I really have never found women’s self-confidence/self-esteem so generally lacking that they lacking that I had the ability to really lower it with a ‘neg’. Most women will ignore or walk away from a strange man if the interaction becomes abusive. Some of them will even get mad if you hit the right buttons. This would be very counter intuitive to trying to building any rapport with anyone none the less with someone you want to sleep with.

    Furthermore if negging is so draining of normal women’s self-esteem why is there never any talk of amogging (Alpha Male the Other Guy)? Amogging is basically the same as negging except it is directed at male rivals. Either, according to Schwyzer’s theory, PUA are self-esteem black holes draining everyone self-esteem in the room or possibly something else is going on. Really sounds like someone you want to invite to a party.

    Generally people in general are a lot stronger then we tend to think: our ancestors survived the horrors of war, famine, disease, slavery, genocide and all manner of disasters and somehow were able to survive physically, mentally and spiritually. Are modern humans so weak that despite living in a generally prosperous and safe society that we can’t take a joke, insult or tease at our own extent? Do you really think that women like Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice would do more than chuckle at a neg or come back with a snappy retort? Sure maybe you will undermine the self-esteems of the Snooki’s of the world but there’s not a lot there to begin with…

    When I hear this type of logic coming from feminist and pro feminist I really start to imagine that they must have really low opinions of women.

  8. I was on the receiving end of “negs” a few times before I knew it was a technique. A couple of times, yes, it was hurtful. I couldn’t figure out why some strange guy would just come up to me and give me a backhanded insult out of the blue. It didn’t make me feel at all inclined to get to know the guy better, I just felt like I’d been slapped in the face, which is not pleasant. And yes our ancestors survived famine and plagues but in 2011, I’d like to be able to go about my life without some idiot ruining my day for no reason. It’s hard for me to figure out why this technique is supposed have such a magic ability to get women to drop their panties.

    Now that I know it’s a technique, I just think it’s lame.

  9. anonymity says:

    Oh my god. I finally don’t love my husband anymoer because he negs me all the time even for a small things like half lemon left on the table by me! My god, my poor nerves cannot take it anymore. I want to get rid of my marriage!


  1. […] are something. They’re mostly fine over at Jez, which isn’t surprising, but over at the GMP—and on Schwyzer’s own blog—well. You […]

  2. […] amended post originally appeared at The Good Men Project; above is an amended version. Republished […]

  3. […] a piece for The Good Men Project, Hugo Schwyzer writes about the many men he’s talked with who lie to their girlfriends/wives […]

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