Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Handicap Game

How come something as great as a group of guys coming together to identify and solving(!) some of the problems that hinder them from leading a fulfilled life turned into a shunned, laughed upon fad?

Obviously there is more than one factor that led to the demise of the community:

You can't expect socially inept nerds turn into lady killers over night. There will inevitably be a transition period of the type of incongruous awkwardness that leads girls to brand aspiring PUA's as "creepy. The routine-based mentality of the original Mystery Method holds the same problems as pickup lines. Not to mention the share of bitter misogynists, who see game as a way to "pay back" for their past lack of sexual success (or humiliations).
And then there is peacocking.

The original idea of peacocking was to dress up in a way that brands you as "interesting" to girls. Your clothing style and accessoires were supposed to create a pop-out effect and sub-communicate a "badass" vibe at the same time.

More interestingly, it was theorized that by wearing something outrageous, a man communicates that he can afford a handicap in the mating game:

"By wearing something completely ridiculous, a PUA opens himself up to ridicule from AMOGs and shit tests from women. By demonstrating that he can deal with this social pressure, the PUA demonstrates attractive alpha characteristics."

As so many other ideas of the community, the latter was inspired by a principle of evolutionary psychology. The "handicap principle" (which been used to explain the phenomenal tail of peacocks) goes like this:

- females want sperm/genes from the fittest males (to create the fittest offspring possible)

- a fit male is a male that is capable of surviving - even when handicapped

- by openly handicapping itself a male can directly demonstrate its extraordinary fitness (inferior males cannot afford this kind of display)

- females will have a preference for males that handicap themselves, because the mere fact that they are still alive (despite the handicap) is prove to their superior fitness

A salient tail might indicate fitness in birds by proving that they are able to escape any potential predators.

However, things are far less clear for humans.

The low number of predators that can harm us means that there is no need for humans to camouflage themselves (and there probably hasn't been any for most of our ancestors).

A colorful display does not prove any handicap and thereby increased fitness for men.

Not surprisingly, then, "peacocking" soon got dropped from the main discourse. There were few field reports that indicated any benefit from black fingernails or goth attire at a hip hop club.

Yet, it is easy to spot guys who got in touch with "The Game", and the diverse online materials of the community at a club. In addition to the awkward attempts at feigning the uber-masculine guy that they (yet) aren't, these guys typically wear skulls all over their t-shirts, belts, rings and necklaces or other accessories that scream "insecure guy attempting at getting laid". A good deal of what lead people to brand the community as creepy (and even queer) is due to the unique combination of (still) undeveloped social skills and outrageous display that these guys offer.

Don't get me wrong - I am not joining the chorus of women and rPUA's belittling attenpts at learning game. In fact, I've been there, done that when it comes to peaocking. And I would lie if I'd say that it does not have any effect at all.

The problem is that there is a fine line between wearing an accessoir or piece of clothing to pop out of the crowd, to attract the attention of women and to get conversation started - and being completely and utterly ridiculous. It is comparable to the fine line of attracting a woman by being cocky and funny. If you overdo it, you end up in the clown zone as her "dancing monkey".

It is the kind of subtlety that male minds struggle with while obvious to women. Women care about clothing. A lot. They symbolize their mental state by what they wear (ask a woman if she believes why another woman wears red, and you'll see...). As a guy who never thought about these things, you need to be very careful in what you communicate by choice of dress.

There is another type of peacocking that seems much more effective.

I stumbled upon the power of (a different kind of) handicap principle the first time I went out with some friends who I played soccer with. I hadn't planned on it. I had no "peacock" gear, no "club clothes" - I couldn't even take a shower before we hit the bars. In my mind I was "handicapped". I wasn't ready. I wasn't prepared. I felt ashamed of my sweaty odor and underdressed appearance.

Yet, I wanted to meet girls.

So I decided that this night would "not count". I would just talk to some girls, keeping in mind that they would probably reject me (based on stink and sloppyness) - even if I would have the wit and confidence of Mr. Big. And while at it - why not even make fun of the situation by approaching girls boasting about being gross?

The success blew me away.

I had (mentally) handicapped myself, and benefited from the effects of this less well known principle of psychology. By assuming (more like: being absoultely convinced of) failure, I had managed to become truly outcome-independent. I did not approach women with any agenda. I just wanted to have fun. And that worked like a charm.

I retested the phenomenon, and soon concluded that it can be a main ingredient for a solid SNL routine. Ketchup stains on a white shirt, lack of deodorant - anything that decreases your "chances" to zero in mainstream thinking almost guarentees a lay once you force yourself to push through the wall of discomfort.

So in a way, true self-handicapping in a way results from doing the opposite of classic PUA advice. Wearing a small ridiculous accessoir will not handicap you in any serious sense. In fact, it might make you feel even more comfortable since the added masquerade aids in letting you take on a persona.

The moment you honestly handicap yourself by wearing something that will turn women off, you will experience what the peacock's tail actually feels like. The resulting changes in your mindset, bodylanguage and maybe even the openly visible handicap itself will become the outward sign to women that you are able to deal with a disadvantage in the mating dance.

Just do me a favor and don't show up in my favorite clubs if you decide to follow my "no deodorant" advice.


  1. i'm a big reader of evolutionary biology, you're right in pointing out that when looking at animal kindgom examples, the theory/rule doesn't always transfer. your writing about the "failure acceptance" principle has worked wonders for me as of late. I've set out each night not expecting anything, in fact, betting that i'll get blown out. i approach sets completely contrary to PUA theory, with no ready made lines, and i'm simply focusing on talking to women. not pulling a number, not kissing, not fucking, just "tonight I will speak to some girls".....each night it's worked. and, i believe that subconsciously my cues belie that to women. it doesn't feel like "me talk to you, me try pick you up" b/c i am not in that mindset.....and so all that nonverbal communication is there which is congruous with our conversation.

  2. Hey 11:

    Great post. I cracked up at that amazon link. UnbelievabLOLZ.

    Regarding the ketchup-stain handicap, that's some ballsy stuff right there. But you know what? I encountered a bit of this myself today. I usually dress pretty sharp even though my job doesn't require it (tie and oxfords sharp, not Mystery sharp).

    But today it was raining out and I was pissed off at my coworkers, so I dressed how I used to dress in high school... baggy jeans, checked shirt unbuttoned, old gray jacket and my trusty Seahawks hat. Guess who got chatted up on the subway? Heh...

  3. 11 minutes and Master Dogan,

    Just an obvservation...............I think a young guy working on his game would do well to "practice" it by driving to another city for a weekend, where he knows no one, and letting it fly. No matter how bad he falls on his face, he KNOWS it isn't going to get back around to him in his hometown for his buddies and ex's (or worse, cousins) to needle him endlessly about it. He can be a "sabatour" in his own mind, literally playing the 'game' on chicks that he has no intention of having LTR with, so he can focus on the nuts and bolts with a distanced eye of an observer, putting no emotional capital in the interactions.

  4. Interesting post, but talking about overdoing it; a ketchup stain??? sports wear is a good one, the worn out businessman works fine aswell, and I absolutely suport the part of Benedict Smith about just talking to women. All these outfits and this behaviour gives the PUA the idea that he is layed back, and in his mind he will make the HB think the same. this, however, is not treu. They will pop your bubble sooner or later. I don't think all this is the holy grale as this artikle pretends it to be. I think the truth is once again in the middle.

    what works is a fine mix between being layed back and being funny, being shabby and being stylish. The fine line between you and the one you wish to be. The only point is that you just have to tuch the right tone. Than the HB won't consider you a fraud. with the pickup comunity bursting with wanabe pua's, and the theory's evolving in more sulfisticated and overthought ways, also the bitch tests evolve, the HB evolves and we are decreasing our own game. So I believe you should play a game you can. the mix between you and the game. only than you will be able to continue your game, even if it drifts to a spot were your game can't be covered anymore with rehearsed lines and magic tricks.

    well, that was my point in a lot of words. but i am not the guy to make cleus at the end of a story. take care of your own cleu.

    oh yeah, and by the way about the ketchup stains: with a nice theory you can make every apearence of an AFC look on the like a chosen mPUA presentation this way.

  5. @Anonymous

    You make a good point about being casual and laid back. But my point with the ketchup stain is to get yourself into a hopeless-seeming situation. There is something peculiar that happens when you think all hope is lost. You stop worrying. It's more than having a relaxed aura. I wouldn't believe it either if it hadn't happen to me more than once.

  6. Intriguing post, I'm heading up to Cambridge in a few weeks from London, think I might try out a few of these pieces, might even let it all fly, I'll return with notes, haha.

  7. Being convinced of failure, in and of itself is not the "trick". Yet, since you were convinced, you had no way out, so you achieved. Its a basic human reaction, that is even documented in Sun Tzu's Art of War.
    We, as humans, put ourselves in these situations, and subconsciously we react,alot like instinct. Thats why you achieve, not because you are "handicapping" yourself, its because you already know how to obtain, you just aren't doing it consciously.

  8. @Justin - interesting you say that.

    I had a simliar Aha-experience when reading a paraphrased passage in Robert Greene's "33 Strategies of War". He describes how small armies can defeat larger ones if they are placed in an impossible situation that allows no retreat (i.e. mountains on one side and the bigger enemy army on the other).

    It is possible that the experience I describe was due to a similar emergency activation of spare ressources. Yet, this is the exact mind states that most guys get into around closing hour. And as we all know it never works. Thus, I believe it really is the comlpete acceptance of failure. Women sense that there is no hidden agenda on ones mind if one decides - and truly believes - that sex is not gonna happen that night, no matter what.

  9. @11minutes

    Reading that, I tend to agree. What it think you are describing, is a kind of 'absoulute resolve'. Not unlike what Miyamoto Musashi describes in The Book of Five Rings. As he has said, it is not a resolve to live(or succeed in this case), but a resolve that you WILL die(aka fail). It is this spirit, that leads you to the true onjective of a thought of no-thing, where word and action are simultaneously one(which i beleive is what you are also trying to describe).

    I believe before, I was simply looking at a mass tactic, and not an individual 'spirit'.
    Thank you for the correction.

  10. i love the mystery method, it's fun and great, the man's a genious!

    i wouldn't say no to a guy like him :)

    / Nathaly, sweden!

  11. Peacocking doesn't work with people because it's a handicap, peacocking works simply because it grabs attention. If you are everything a woman wants, and that may be the strong silent type who wouldn't just walk up to and start chatting up women, and they never see you, you don't get anything. It gets attention.

    The idea of making yourself smell, or look more like a slob, or crap, so you can pick up a girl is just...absurd. It may work, sure, but what does it say about yourself that you're willing to make yourself look worse so girls will consider you socially handicapped an increase your chances of getting with her? It says you are defined by what women will sleep with, and you don't have a personality unless women will sleep with it. I would not dirty my clothes if it got me a girl, because I take pride in how I look, and that I do keep myself clean. What is the percieved idea..."Gosh, 2 guys, acting completely in tandem, who look and talk and have the same interests, however one kinda smells and has ketchup stains on his clothing, whereas the other is clean and smells lightly of a good cologne...Hmm...Boy do I love stinky sloppy guys, Mr. Ketchup, it's your lucky day."

    It's the mindset you're not getting...why do you have to change your clothes to put in a non endgame mindset? Why can't you just intentionally talk for the purpose of having fun? That laid back, who cares mindset is what gets you laid, your nasty shirt is a point against you, but your mindset is more points for you...change your stupid shirt and just keep the mindset.

  12. @Anonymous - We are actually on the same page here. It is the same mindset I am getting at. But as with so many things in life, telling yourself mantras and reading about second hand experience alone won't get you there. There are some epiphanies in life that require first hand experience to really sink in.

    And the fact that a man's looks do not matter at all to women is one of them.

    I have helped many guys get better with women, and one thing I repeatedly noticed is that they are overly concerned about themselves during the approach. They are afraid to talk to the girl, and if they do, they lack presence because instead of "being in the moment' they think about their hair loss, height, bad breath, whatever. Simply telling them not to do that is like telling someone to not think of a pink elephant - it acts the wrong way round.

    Another interesting observation is that guys who take on the "just fun conversation" attitude typically end up getting just that - fun conversation. Wit and fun alone don't moisten pussy. It takes a little bit of an adge to lead a girl out of the friend zone into the safe mental space where she can be a sheet-soaking slut. You need to project some sexual intention, without seeming needy:
    "Want is hot, need is not"

    I agree with you that one should not do anything other than being genuinely oneself just to get laid. In a way that's the whole point. This post was written for guys who spend hours taking a shower, picking clothes, geling their hair or putting on "peacocking gear" before leaving the house. My message here is that if you're looking for (quick) sex, none of that matters, and might even work against you.

  13. great insight! i totally agree with "releasing oneself" from a certain outcome in order to rid oneself of emotional anxiety and to prevent it from getting in the way with one's interactions with women.

    and i also agree with how some guys over do the peacocking thing which actually leads to their detriment. i mean ive seen some guy's attempts to peacock and they seem to turn from nerd to douche bag, which ironically leaves them worse off haha

    BUT peacocking was meant more specifically to create a uniqueness and specialty towards one's persona. as Mystery describes it: you must peacock in a way that shows you belong to a certain "tribe". In doing this, women would want to strike a chat with you because you are from a tribe that she would like to either aline herself with or at least visit.

    although this doesnt necessarily mean dress outrageously, it was meant more to encourage men to dress with more attention-getting clothes and to avoid looking generic i.e. bright colors such as red or fitted clothes.

    interesting theory though, creating an actual handicap such as a stain on your shirt to foster success. although i prefer keeping my body odor under control, maybe i might try wearing short shorts to a formal restaurant :)

  14. Okay, I hope this post doesn't come in too late because i'd like a few of the people commenting on this to read so my time doesn't go to waste. My uncle had bought the book "The Game" for me because I'm a business marketing major and the book's take on social dynamics is intriguing.

    Now to my point, the comments on these posts make me think that most people are missing what is actually occurring here. Yes, women do pay attention to a man's appearance, but they also pay attention to how the guy conducts himself in accordance with his appearance. In other words, the peacock theory and the sloppy theory both work, and generally speaking they both work in the same way. when a guy wears something flashy it gives him the security of feeling in character, when he's dressed like a slob he becomes more confident because the lack of sharp clothing basically makes him not give a fuck.

    So in other words, it doesn't matter what you wear, it just matters how you act when you're wearing it. The only difference is when peacocking you're making yourself more likely to be approached because people wanna know "what the fucks up with the guy in the top hat?" The bad part is it leaves you open to being the joke of the night if you let whatever you're wearing be what you're about. YOu can't be the freak with the hat, you have to be the interesting ass dude who just so happens to be wearing an odd hat. Get it?

    I posted under my aim account in case anyone has questions or comments on my thoughts, because i stumbled on this page on accident in the first place and returning might not happen. adios.

  15. it doesn't matter what you wear, it just matters how you act when you're wearing it.
    That's what I tried to say with that post.

    when peacocking you're making yourself more likely to be approached because people wanna know "what the fucks up with the guy in the top hat?"
    You never want to be the passive part when dealing with women. The genius of Game is that it freed men from waiting for her to look and smile. By learning what it takes, you can chose who you want to get to know.

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