Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Chad Howse.
The other day I made the uncharacteristic mistake of flicking on the TV while I was eating breakfast. I turned to the local news to see what was happening in my neck of the woods and a story came on about the “pick-up” or “dating coach” niche. I already think those fellas are, for the most part, hucksters, and coming at the issue of confidence and meaning in a man’s life from an ass-backwards approach. So when the interviewed fella was wearing sunglasses while talking about how he helps guys gain confidence, all the while clearly putting more thought into the visual image he portrayed than the content coming out of his mouth, I felt reaffirmed in my opinion.
And then the original focus of the interview came up: There had been a complaint that these “pick-up coaches” were holding classes in the streets, where their “students” would practice their tricks and tactics on women in the area. A few women got so upset at constantly being harassed by these males (who were all following a similar script) that they called the local news to complain; they even put up signs warning other women about men who were out just trying to get another notch on their belt or a number in their phone.
There’s so much wrong with this “industry” that I thought it necessary to write about it. Even though many of these dating coaches and pick-up gurus may genuinely think they’re trying to help guys and make them better, the focus of their approach is detrimental; it weakens more than it strengthens, and it gives guys the wrong perspective towards both themselves and women.
I’m not denying the need many men have to improve their communication and confidence with the opposite sex. This is a real need. But the approach that pick-up coaches take doesn’t make men better men; instead of increasing a man’s real strength and self-assurance, it turns him into a dependent.
This article is more of a warning than anything. The pick-up artist or dating industry is big business, and a lot of you may be spending money on ebooks and courses trying to improve in an area where you feel yourself lacking. This isn’t money well-spent. If you want to become more successful with women, the solution isn’t a virtual guru of any kind, and it isn’t a quick fix — it’s the long, arduous road to becoming a more successful, stronger, and self-reliant man. The development of the self must precede your success with the opposite sex.
This goes against everything that men are now being taught about sex, thanks, in part, to these dating coaches, but also industries like porn that provide the sexual experience with nothing but a click of the mouse — no work needed, no struggle or embarrassment, no trial by fire. The dating niche, pick-up niche, whatever it wants to call itself, is developing weaker men — dependents who require the approval of others.
So where does this industry get it wrong and why should you look elsewhere? Why should you look to other paths for boosting your confidence both in interacting with the opposite sex, and navigating the world in general?
1. Pick-up strategies offer external tools but don’t transform the inner man.
In that news story I mentioned above, the dating coach said that one of the things he does is take his clients shopping — he changes the way they dress as to not only give them confidence, but to portray a more confident and desirable fella to the women he seeks. He also teaches his students pick-up lines to use that are “guaranteed” to get a woman’s number or get her to bed.
These things aren’t necessarily bad. Dressing well can change the way you feel about yourself and give you more self-assurance; it feels good to think you look good. And following a script when talking to women isn’t going to be very effective, but hey, if you can’t get any words out of your mouth at all when you talk to ladies, having a few things in mind to say probably won’t hurt.
So, sure, clothes and pre-set lines can give you confidence, but…it’s a confidence that can be taken from you. It’s an external thing and thus very fragile.
Real confidence cannot be dependent on outward appearances. Unshakeable confidence can’t come from a car or a pair of jeans or jewelry. In an attempt to get quick results they — the pick-up gurus — dress a fella up, parade him around, and then show him tricks and tactics to help him feel bold and able to approach a lady in public and get her number.
In approaching random women like this, you are indeed facing a fear and talking to them. That’s not a bad thing either.
The fear, however, isn’t faced as you, but as a fella who needs to be dressed up and taught tricks to feel confident enough to talk to a lady and wily enough to get her number. You’re given tools, and tools are great, but they aren’t grit or toughness — they’re tools of cunning and trickery, which are weak.
Image cannot be everything, because it can be taken from you, leaving you as nothing. I once fretted over what I wore before going out with the lads, with the primary intention of getting drunk, laughing a lot, and getting a handful of new numbers. And though I’m far from the most confident human on the planet, I have grown up a bit, and my confidence is deep — it’s born in failure and struggle, and it’s not at all dependent on image.
I’ve forged my confidence through accomplishment, exercise, and travel; through facing fears, pushing my limits, and acquiring knowledge — not by reading Esquire or GQ and expecting another man’s style to give me the confidence I need to live the life I want to live.
You need to be not only confident in you, but proud of the man you are. Clothes can improve your outward appearance, but the change has to start from within. The foundation of your confidence cannot come from attire, nor trinkets or jewels, not even a car or a home — it must come from a foundation of true inner strength.
“[We must] adjust our style of dress and our way of living not to the newfangled patterns but to the customs of our ancestors.” -Seneca
2. Focusing on picking up women gives you a distorted view of value.
Your value as a man shouldn’t depend on your image, nor on the number of notches on your belt.
Success in any area has to be measured in some form or another, and more often than not it’s based on numbers. In the pick-up industry it’s either the number of women you’ve bedded or the number of phone numbers you’ve added — with the former having more pull than the latter.
The problem, again, is in a distorted view of value.
When you enter into one of these coaching courses, you’re looking for value. You may be looking to bed more women or to gain confidence around them or to use either as a way to put yourself out there and enjoy more of life. But in putting all your focus on getting with women as the main purpose of your life, you become dependent on the validation of women for your self-worth and your confidence in your manhood.
A man’s worth should come from his self-respect, and the respect he gets from his fellow men. He shouldn’t live for the approval of women. The funny thing is, the more you stop craving the approval of women, and concentrate on being a man among men, the more attractive you become to women.
The better man will get the better woman. It doesn’t matter if he’s shy or hilarious in public, it matters little if he’s awkward or a Casanova, the best man gets the best woman, for him. He’s a complete individual when he enters a relationship (as is she); he’s not looking for a piece of the puzzle to complete his persona, and finally give him a sense of worth. Though his woman may mean the world to him — he doesn’t depend on her for his value.
3. Notches on your belt are not the same thing as having the right lady on your arm.
A few years back I met a pal at a bar who was joined by his younger brother and his friends. Now, these guys love this pick-up artist crap, and after 5 minutes of listening to them talk about women as numbers and “marks,” I’d had enough. Calling them on their crap, I downed my beer and got the hell out of their with my buddy.
A year or so later, my pal’s younger brother wanted to talk about that night, and how to view women. He’d been taught by the porn and pick-up industries — not, mind you, by any mentor or parent — how to treat and view women not as human beings with a soul and value, but as numbers, objects of pleasure, and tools to use to gain power and confidence.
While pick-up tactics may win you some short-term success, they don’t prepare you for a long-term relationship — especially with the kind of women who aren’t persuaded by pick-up tactics. So you know how to get a woman to come home with you…do you know how to get her to stick around?
Because in the end, no matter our initial intentions, most of us don’t want to be endlessly trying to hook up with all kinds of women — we want the right woman. We want a partner in crime to make sweet love to, to have babies with, to share life with as a true companion.
If, deep down, you want a great lady, you must become a great man. You must also be very clear about what a great lady is. You won’t get there through learning pick-up artistry, but by mastering the art of strength and honor.
Follow the Path to True Confidence
Pick-up artists fail to show the man how to develop the strength he needs to be at his best; they teach him to place his importance and value in the hands of others. Seduction gurus fail at being mentors of manhood, as they have failed to realize their own strength, calling, or purpose apart from the opposite sex; they teach a man to be focused on seeking the validation of women, which is a life of dependency.
True power cannot come when it’s dependent on something or someone else, and those who seek confidence by tricking and persuading the opposite sex into liking them often find it leaves them feeling more insecure and empty than before.
Confidence and pride are closely linked. When you’re proud of the man you are, of the work you do, of how you treat others and what you have to give to this world, it’s pretty damn hard not to be confident. When you’re ashamed of who you are, though you may have a Ferrari in the garage and a different babe on your arm every night, it’s just as difficult to have real confidence.
Nothing of value can be forged without a strong foundation, yourself included.
The lesson then is to be wary of anyone or anything that promises to make you confident without first building a strong foundation. Strength — both physical and mental — cannot be given by anyone, but must be earned.
I try to help guys — and gals — get in great shape, but the focus on the physical is to use it as a foundation to build upon. You develop toughness and grit in the gym, traits that translate into everything you do in life — including interacting with the opposite sex. Build your character traits in truly valuable pursuits, and then let them naturally carry over into the arena of dating.
In the end, there is no quick fix to true confidence, and that’s where pick-up artists miss by the widest margin. True confidence must be forged in the fire of failure; it’s strengthened over time, through trial and error. While walking up to a nice-looking lady and starting a conversation is an awesome thing to do, it’s a fear you should face as yourself, without a script or tactics or tricks, and it’s a fear you should face without thinking that your success with women determines your success as a man.
If you want to become a great man who has a great lady, don’t aim to become “better with women”; set out on a journey to become a great man, and the rest will follow.
Chad Howse is a fella who’s dedicated to helping other fellas reach their potential. He, like you, has a lot of questions about how this is done, and he aims to answer them all on his site, and through programs like the Man Diet. Visit him here to learn more: Be Legendary: Bringing Back Manliness.