Nice Guys: Finish First Without Pickup Gimmickry

Responding to the call from ‘nice guys’ for ethical pickup advice, Amanda Marcotte offers six tips for sustainable dating success.

Recently, Clarisse Thorn admirably tried to pick through the sewage strewn all over “pickup artist” (PUA) communities and find a handful of gems that could be plucked out and proffered to the socially awkward man who finds that he’s not getting laid as often as he’d like. (To which I say, who is?) Clarisse is less cynical than I am on this issue; I think the PUA mentality is too toxic to be polished into something non-misogynist. Even in its best forms, it’s still based on the sexist model of dating where women are selling and men are buying, an inherently sexist model that poisons even the occasional glimpses of common sense.

Still, Clarisse is right to say feminists haven’t really responded to the plaintive cries of self-described “nice guys” who claim they want non-sexist dating advice that works, but are forced to look to PUAs because there is no one else speaking to them. So, in the interest of good faith, I have concocted dating advice for men who swear up and down they are only drawn to misogynist PUA forums and seminars out of desperation and not sexism. Fair warning: this isn’t dating advice for everyone, but aimed at those who claim that they have to use tricks and traps to get laid, because they’re too socially awkward to get laid honestly.


Be generous about women’s motivations.

PUA communities spend a lot of time disparaging women with words like “shallow,” “gold-digger,” and “childish,” for having what they deem to be incorrect desires. But often, women’s choices make much more sense if you assume women date for fun and companionship, just as men do. If you don’t judge men for wanting sexiness, fun, and ego-boosting from women, then don’t judge women for wanting the same.


Believe that sex is not a battle.

The PUA model of dating is one where men are buying and women are selling, and therefore men’s job is to try to get as much sex out of women for as little a “price” as possible. This is not only sexist, but exhausting. You have more fun when your friends are having fun, right? Apply the same attitude towards dating, and you’ll become immediately hotter.


Make a list of traits you’re looking for in a woman.

This doesn’t have to be just for a long-term partner, though you might want different lists for different occasions. Be excruciatingly honest, even if it means writing down embarrassing things like “submissive” or “sexually inexperienced.” Physical characteristics are OK, but it’s more important to talk about stuff she can control, like her self-presentation. Be as specific as possible. If the ideal woman in your mind has a job in a creative profession and knows how to cook, write that down.


Next: Be more like The Situation


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About Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte hails from Texas, but resides in Brooklyn, New York, according to the laws governing the proper placement of freelance writers and feminist gadflies. She blogs regularly for Pandagon and Double X, and writes and podcasts for RH Reality Check. She's written two books on politics, It's A Jungle Out There and Get Opinionated.


  1. AlekNovy says:

    If you’re a woman reading this and you want to understand why men find these articles trivializing, insulting and marginalizing of men – I’ll give you the perfect analogy.

    Let’s say you have a business and want to grow it into a MULTI-MILLION-dollar business. And then you read an article (on building a multi-million dollar business) and it says things like

    – Think of your customers as human beings, don’t see them as mere cash bags
    – Don’t be a dumbtard who sells stuff people don’t want
    – Try to sell stuff that’s not rotten, spoiled and try not to sell scams, broken tiems or scam your customers in anyway

    Do you get my point? All these points even though doos are so BASIC that its insulting to tell me this. Are you saying that if I’m not a multi-millionaire that I must be selling scams and rotten goods to people? That’s just plain insulting…

    And that’s how most dating-advice written by women comes off, especially this Marcotte peace.

    —-What makes it further insulting is how untrue it can be—

    –> There are guys who GENUINELLY have every single thing on the list but can’t get a date to save their lives
    –> There are guys who BREAK EVERY SINGLE thing on this list and are literal rockstars with women.

    This is why these articles are so demeaning and insulting to men.

    1) The articles first insults the guy with insinuation (oh, you can’t get a date – you must be a smelly, stinky, illiterate, dumb idiot).
    2) Then it try to deny you entire reality and what you and every man you know has witnessed your entire life – which is that these “rules” don’t at all apply in the real world and most men who are great with women break most of these rules

    3) It leaves out the most important part of man’s challenge. Being pressured into being the one to be the charismatic one. What’s ALWAYS left out is the fact that even in the 21st century most women act as if its the 16th century when it comes to initiation. They don’t approach, ask out and (most) don’t ever initiate the first kiss or sex. All of those pains and hurts and risks are left to men.

    And here’s the part everyone leaves out. Even if you claim that women only want an equal (which is desputable), by expecting the man to do all the initiation she’s expecting a SUPERIOR. And the reason a lot of women don’t get this is because they haven’t done enough initiating. Further, women’s criteria for the initiation are a helluva lot higher than for the “man himself”.

    In other words, they say they only want a normal ,decent guy… YET they expect the man to have george-clooney like charisma when approaching and asking them out – else they’ll label him creepy.

    • Trouble is, the advice given isn’t written by a woman, as you claim. It is, as the article clearly states, plucked from PUA advice which is wholly formulated by men. They are the ones talking down to you. You seem to have over-reacted a lot and found a way to generate several paragraphs worth of complaints about women as an undifferentiated group out of a totally false premise. I think I know why the ladies aren’t responding to you. It’s because you’re crazy unreasonably and that’s never attractive.

      • Actually, if you read the article, you’ll see quite clearly it WAS written by a women.

        Her name is Amanda Marcotte.

        And this article is her dating advice for men.

        What confused you, is that this article is a RESPONSE to an article by a DIFFERENT woman (named Clarisse Thorn) and HER article is cherry-picking pickup tips from the PUA community. But, see, THIS article is not THAT one.

        Now that this is cleared up, you might want to consider apologizing to AlekNovy for your ad hominem attacks following his quite reasonable and well written response.

    • AlekNovy, you need a blog! I’m going to say it. Yes, Alek is right. If women could give men advice by telling them what they want, do you really think men could give women advice by telling them what they want?

      Could you imagine how many guys would say things like:

      “Girls if you really want a guy, you need to put out on the first date. Show up with as little clothing as possible. In fact! Show up with no clothing at all! That means your exciting! Then you should buy dinner.”

      There’s a lot of crap that the PUA society puts out there for forward marketing and pushing people to buy their product, and geez there is a lot of crap. But, throughout this whole posts, there is nothing provided that could give a dating deprived young man a first step to finding his way to meet the right woman. I’m not saying PUA’s are good or bad, I’m saying that it’s needed. People need the advice, people need to know how to approach women. There are too many men creeping women out and it’s tragic.

      But stuff like this, a woman’s christmas list of the most perfect guy, it’s not helping.

      I blog about meeting women, but my blog isn’t focused solely on sex. It’s focused on making the best out of all situations because no one wants to spend their time alone.

    • You hit the nail right on the head! Everything you’ve said here is 100% true in my experience.

    • God this is all so true. Seems like every article on how to attract women by a woman either provides painfully obvious advice (“have you tried showering?”) or the impossible (“be the funniest person she knows”). Or they demean the man (“you probably suck to much to get a date, try being more interesting first”).

      I think the reason many men have turned to the PUA community is because those guys provide implementable tactics. Like, things that a person can actually do, versus just vague notions of “be better”.

  2. I have posted this exact same comment at multiple places, hoping some women actually take the challenge. So here it goes again.

    All you girls giving advice, be it the author of this article, women in the comments section, or anywhere else on the internet, there is a very specific term for you in the PU community – it’s called Keyboard Jockey. In simpler words, people who just talk/post on the internet but never take any action.

    If you are so confident that your advice works, take on the following challenge. Find a guy in your area/city in his 20s who has very little to zero experience with women (You will be surprised how many of them are out there, who are very normal looking). Take him from that and guide him to becoming a man who feels confident and empowered around women, and is able to find a reasonable girl who he loves, and who loves him back.

    Accomplish this task in a reasonable amount of time and without him having to spend an unreasonable amount of money.

    If all you girls put together (all over the internet) can achieve this transformation with 10 guys, write about it. Do not cheat and start giving PUA advice to these guys to use ‘negs’/’opinion openers’/’approach x women a day’ or other PUA stuff. Use your own brand of ‘Be yourself’,’Just say hi’,’connect with her’,’don’t dehumanize’,’talk about things which you care about’,’care about what she thinks’,’don’t approach randomly’,’no emotional manipulation’ etc. and see what you can accomplish.

    If you are able to achieve this, let me know and I promise to advertise it enough that guys will listen almost exclusively to this brand of advice and not the PUA stuff. But till then, please shut the f*** up

  3. This piece fails to look at differences between men and women. We’re not wired the same. At. All. I feel women fail at recognizing our own attraction triggers, we lump ourselves into the group called the human race rather than looking at our biological differences. Men do have a harder time in dating because they are expected to make the approaches and first moves in general. I’ve often been glad I’m not a guy for this reason alone.

    Are there misogynist men on PUA sites? Yep. Are there misandrist women on feminist sites? Yep. There are also many men and women seeking answers for their own struggles. One must sort through the chaff to get to the wheat. Two years spent visiting a PUA site has done more for my dating life (now seriously involved) than years of reading women’s advice. I learned what men really want and I learned my own triggers. The truth shall set you free. Just sayin’.

    My advice to women is become self-aware before handing out advice to guys.

  4. Why the big concern about men going to the”self-improvement” websites? You can see the expectations
    of the women. What did you expect to happen?

    • In my opinion, the female concern for PUAs is that they (females) can not discern them (PUAs) from true Alphas until it it too late (they have devalued their beds).

  5. iknowbetter says:


  6. The glance to the art regarding attraction details on five basic tips that will help men and women secure or perhaps improve relationships. That distinguishes between manipulative…Attract and Seduce Women

  7. “, but aimed at those who claim that they have to use tricks and traps to get laid, because they’re too socially awkward to get laid honestly.”

    Actually id like to know how to not be too socially awkward to get laid honestly, if you have advice on that, i was kinda hoping when i got linked to this page that that is what i would find, how to approach a girl i like honestly?

    I cant speak for every guy visiting these but it feels like im missing something that everyone else knows and understands, like ive entered the room and everyones laughing at the punchline of a joke i just missed.

  8. Lucien says:

    Wow, what a crock. Being honest, there are some elements of actually useful and clear advice here; but you would have to be an absolute loser with no self-respect to take advice from Amanda Marcotte. It’s just not done. She herself can barely bring herself to go through the motions.

    She starts off by blatantly insulting any potential reader; she simultaneously defines her intended readership, and humiliates it: her advice is “aimed at those who claim that they have to use tricks and traps to get laid, because they’re too socially awkward to get laid honestly.”

    This woman always seems more interested in any opportunity to humiliate and emasculate any males in the vicinity, than in whatever it is she’s pretending to talk about at the moment.

  9. AnonymousDog says:

    Marcotte’s advice isn’t necessarily bad advice, but it’s not particularly good advice, either, and definitely not too original. I’ve seen the same kind of advice on a hundred different sites, all cribbed from the same few sources.

    Marcotte seems to have gone through the motions just to be able to say that a feminist HAS offered some dating advice to men.

    “Free advice is worth the price”.

  10. The entire topic of “Reinventing The Nice Guy” in terms of attracting a woman is what I have been doing since 2003, and what I took to a new level in 2008. After being in several relationships where I was abused by women, I came to the conclusion that it’s not true that women just want a good guy. Even though ever since high school, all I would hear from most women is that “Most guys are jerks, where are all the nice guys??”

    So, after finally realizing being nice isn’t enough, I started to try new ideas, and I also later ended up getting heavily into the “pick up” arts. I was the perfect ‘bait’ because I had been so hurt by women, that the message of “you must knock a woman’s self-esteem down otherwise she will abuse you” really felt like it was the absolute TRUTH. The problem though with this kind of advice is that it fails to tell men that any woman that IS abusive is the WRONG woman, and no tactic can change her real personality.

    The other problem is that it sews the seeds of mistrust in ALL women, and that means that men will not be able to genuinely LOVE women, which of course means the whole relationship is being built on a very shaky foundation and is destined to be doomed.

    Even the most understanding woman on earth is not going to want to live with a man who does not trust her at all, especially when she in fact IS totally trustworthy.

    The real answer is to do three things:
    1. Find a woman who DOES appreciate you and does not abuse you.

    2. Turn yourself into the absolute best version of you possible- not only on the surface but also as a person, including honing communication and listening skills and sense of humor and lifestyle and passions, etc..

    3. Learn how to approach women and convey the best elements of yourself quickly- because you only have a few moments to approach a woman who is a total stranger and get her to give you a chance.

    I like the idea of approaching women anywhere, because you never know where you might find the woman of your dreams.

    So, I took all of this and incorporated it into my teachings at

    In fact, a lot of my teachings are responsible for EVOLVING the pick up artist community into something less destructive and hopefully more beneficial for men and women. However, because of the greed of some people who have infiltrated the pick up artist community, they will pander to fuelling more fears of women, or they will pander to gross over-simplifications of how to attract women, all in the name of selling and making more money. This is another reason why I have nothing to do with the community of pick up artists, even though some of these teachers and students indeed are good guys.

  11. KeepItSimple says:

    Good guys, here’s a low-stress pick-up that worked on me a couple of months ago:

    “Hi, my name is ______. What’s your name? Would you like to dance with me?”

    The young man in question then proceeded to just dance with me and smile and make pleasant small talk. He was very mindful of personal space and body language (so I was never trapped in a corner) and you know what? It worked.


  1. […] at the Good Men Project. First up, Amanda Marcotte offers some advice for the shy and lovelorn: Nice Guys Finish First Without PUA Gimmickry. It’s solid […]

  2. […] has some real dating advice for those limited by only the tools of the pickup art […]

  3. […] class of guy approaching you. Of course, it depends on what you consider classy. If you’re looking for The Situation, don’t change a […]

  4. […] ‘Be more like The Situation’ and other nonsexist dating tips — Amanda Marcotte — Th…. I really don’t understand the “situation” reference, but I thought this was pretty cool, especially because there seems to be this anxious uncertainty and low self-esteem among men stemming from empowered women and them not knowing how to interact with women who are self aware and assertive.  Ok, that’s just my interpretation maybe. Anyway, it’s a good article that I believe encourages healthy relationships. […]

  5. […] class of guy approaching you. Of course, it depends on what you consider classy. If you’re looking for The Situation, don’t change a […]

  6. […] pickup artistry, Amanda Marcotte took the bait and wrote an article at the Good Men Project: Nice Guys: Finish First Without Pickup Gimmickry. Clarisse is right to say feminists haven’t really responded to the plaintive cries of […]

  7. […] reason she was brought on Bloggingheads to debate the topic of PUAs was because she had written an advice piece at The Good Men Project for men who didn’t want to use PUA teachings to get women.  In it she […]

  8. […] ethical dating advice for men who might otherwise be lured by pickup artistry. Amanda Marcotte responded with a smart, useful article which can be boiled down to three essential maxims: 1) women are your […]

  9. […] Marcotte wrote this: Clarisse is right to say feminists haven’t really responded to the plaintive cries of […]

  10. […] or sympathetic to feminism?  Why aren’t conspiracy theorists asking questions about why feminists such as Amanda Marcotte are getting involved with advice to pick up women?  Because conspiracy theorists wouldn’t know a real conspiracy if it bit them on the ass.  […]

  11. […] I was reading some news sites today when I came over a link to this article (go read […]

  12. […] have talked quite a bit about dating here at The Good Men Project, from how to meet girls without resorting to pick-up gimmickry, to our recent almost-rant by a female wanting to pay for her own dates. The lesson in all of them […]

  13. […] beyond super basic stuff like “approach more women”.  I’d more agree with Amanda Marcotte, that “the PUA mentality is too toxic to be polished into something non-misogynist”, […]

  14. […] others. In 2004 she won the Koufax award for Best New Blog. In April she wrote an article titled Nice Guys: Finish First Without Pickup Gimmickry, in which she suggests ways to be effective with women without using pick-up […]

  15. Sources…

    […]here are some links to sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting[…]…

  16. […] women are explicitly or de facto pro-game.  This includes well known feminists like Amanda Marcotte to Susan Walsh, owner of hooking up stupid.  These women can’t be invested in game like a […]

  17. […] Yet, feminists consider dating advice and some of its related issues to be incredibly important.  Amanda Marcotte has written posts about the need for “non-sexist dating advice”.  Any feminist blog from Jezebel to No Seriously What About The Menz? has written a multitude of […]

  18. […] hardly get past this one line about what guys need to do in order to get the girls. Summarizing advice by Amanda Marcotte, which she calls “smart and useful” (like she would know), she finishes with this: Find […]

  19. […] a shitty place where xy chromosome hating feminists tell guys how to get laid whilst conveniently ignoring that men are expected to be the […]

  20. […] Now, I’m gonna take this on another tangent-feminist dating advice… […]

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