All Played Out: Three Dating Questions for a Post-PUA Era

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One of the best things about being based in a truly global metropolis like London is the constant exposure to new ideas and concepts – no matter how counterintuitive – and meeting the people at their cutting edge. Recently, our Creative Director & CSO cast his mind back a decade to the emergence of the city’s pickup artist (‘PUA’) scene, a natural outgrowth of a curious American phenomenon which promised to turn wallflowers into casanovas through cultivation of ‘game’. Game – arguably one of the worst-defined terms in contemporary English – can perhaps best be understood as a sort of relationship psy-ops that purportedly enables full-spectrum romantic conquest.

Sympathetic to but not ultimately convinced by the underlying logic of the PUA movement, we at Mediolana had almost entirely forgotten about our brief encounter with the same. However, thanks to a chance, auto-generated Internet hyperlink, we have now become aware of what the rest of the world has known for some time: numerous key protagonists of the global PUA tendency have all but renounced their affiliation. The fate of Neil ‘Style’ Strauss is particularly instructive: the author of 2005’s seminal text The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists and former consort of Britney Spears, Strauss wound up in a sex addiction clinic and now swears by monogamy; having held a symbolic funeral for his alter-ego, he married the Mexico-born, California-based model Ingrid De La O in August 2013, and they welcomed their first child into this world in March 2015.

Prompted by these developments, we at Mediolana reflected on exactly why the PUA phenomenon failed to speak to us, and after some contemplation we concluded that it was principally because it had failed to ask the right questions. The movement’s stated aim – successful seduction of females by males culminating in zero-context sex, in a nutshell – means that it is almost always going to descend into statistical fixation (telephone numbers obtained per day, ‘notches’ racked up per month, etc.) with little or no risk of experiencing anything deeper.

Conversely, the post-PUA era demands a more profound line of questioning. While this blog is no dating column, men would do well to ask the following three questions of themselves:

  1. Are you virtuous enough to inspire loving behaviour? The PUA scene saw coupling as a product of things such as money, status, dress, conversational routines and crude emotional manipulation. This often resulted in the development of thinly-veiled abusive relationships, with dictatorial and paranoid ‘players’ wielding a command-and-control model to rule over ‘their’ women. Examining one’s own character through the lens of virtue is a much more intimidating course of action, but if you can audit yourself objectively then you may yet end up in the dream position of having a female do nice things for you not owing to external compulsion, but because she loves you.
  2. Are you capable of treating a beautiful woman as a gateway to Infinity? Throughout (and indeed beyond) the PUA movement, it was standard operating procedure to rank women on a numerical scale of 1-10 according to their physical beauty; men were also ordered on a similar scale, but using a more complicated mix of attributes aligning broadly with the ‘game’ concept. This generated an enormous amount of speculation. Could a 6 male go out with a 9.5 female? Were females valued at 8 too emotionally high maintenance for the return-on-investment? And what exactly is a 10? However, it is far more productive to ascertain if you are capable of relating to a beautiful woman as a gateway to Infinity. Paradoxically, this means developing an appreciation of beautiful women in ways that incorporate but transcend their physical appearance. If you can relate to them on a soul level having gone at least some way towards training your own soul (see numbered paragraph 1 above), then you can enter an entirely new dimension of spiritual experience.
  3. Are your expectations meaningful? Predominantly statistical approaches produce predominantly statistical results, and in an era of genuinely unprecedented superficiality, this can lead to perverse expectations: men who out of some firmly-held and logically indefensible principle will not date women with non-blonde hair; women below the height of 1.72m; women who telephone them more than once every three days; women who take selfies; women with the ‘wrong’ taste in music; women who wear jeans instead of dresses…vacuous criteria such as these kill serious relationships before they have a chance to begin. Instead, focus on the stuff that actually matters: the quality of the human being. Seeking out attributes which almost no one even considers – such as having a high capacity for love – can bulldoze shallow rules like practically nothing else.

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