"The Skirt" is an ongoing series in which Four Pins' resident lady friend, Rachel Seville, becomes the most important woman in your life.
Until last week, I thought I knew the kind of guy who read dating books. A friend of mine once went back to a guy’s apartment and, while he was making mixed drinks using T.G.I. Friday’s Margarita Blenders, she glanced at his bookshelf. “How come all your books are either about Nazis or how to talk to women?” she asked.
But all this Ken Hoinsky nonsense changed my mind. Last week, Hoinsky got in big trouble all across the Internet for trying to raise money on Kickstarter for a lame dating book BASED ON HIS REDDIT FORUM that encouraged aggressive, if not assaultive, behavior towards women in pursuit of love or, at least, maybe a woman will touch you once or twice on purpose. Above the Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women he called it. In Japan, dudes who sit behind computers all day spouting into the nether regions of the Internet are considered such disturbing social phenomena that there is a term, "Hikikomori," for them. In America, we look to men like this for dating advice.
I turned to other dating manuals for men to see how clownish and out of the ordinary Hoinsky’s advice really was. What I found was like a jillion dating books for guys, which made me realize that dating books for men are like diet books for women. While we’re wondering if we should eat no potatoes or only potatoes, you guys are looking to The Layguide, The Game, The Natural, The Manual, The Pickup Artist and any number of “The” books, every single one of which promises to be the last thing you’ll ever read about dating and it’s going to be really, really easy, like “Man Want Woman = Man Get Woman,” even if you don’t have money or a car or a nice haircut or could pick a woman out of a lineup of terracotta pots.
Because the only kind of woman you can attract with the attitude these books promote is the kind of person they purport you, yourself, will no longer be if you follow their advice: self-conscious, shy, boring, awkward.
There are so many of these books that I probably know a guy—shit, probably dated a guy—who’s read at least one of them. Which is terrifying because they all say in 300 or sometimes even 400 pages the same dumb things. Many of the same dumb things Hoinsky says. Be confident! Be aggressive! Do not ask! Command! Look interested! None advise to actually be interested, but, rather, to “look fascinated.” Except not, like, that interested. Like, relax and don’t act like this is a big deal. “Act like you would around your eight-year-old niece,” The Pickup Artist actually advises. Make her win you over by wearing a hat that she can take and put on and giggle about. Cool. Now take her! She is yours! This is nothing like your job. You are in charge! As a result, you will, as one book eloquently states and all believe, “have sex with a different beautiful woman every night of the week.”
In addition to this “simple methodology,” all these books include “moves” that are probably as effective as a diet that involves drinking the remains of a deep frier. In The Pickup Artist, the author, MYSTERY, advises this “Gambit” for your first kiss with a woman: When she is speaking, put a finger to her lips and say to her, “Shhh...you talk a lot. Would you like to kiss me?” This is the same fellow we have to thank for The Game, Neil Strauss’s biblical dating book. In fact, nearly all of today's dating books can be traced back to The Game, in which Strauss penetrates a group of “pickup artists” led by Mystery, who is a FUCKING STRUGGLING MAGICIAN. You guys, you are all taking dating advice from GOB Bluth.
If anyone did this “Kissing Gambit,” or any of those things to me, my honest reaction as a woman would be, like, extreme discomfort, followed maybe by hitting you or maybe just running away, but most assuredly laughing. Laughing at you, to be specific. Because the only kind of woman you can attract with the attitude these books promote is the kind of person they purport you, yourself, will no longer be if you follow their advice: self-conscious, shy, boring, awkward.
In truth, there are only three things you need to do in pursuit of a woman:
1. Listen. Ask her a bunch of questions, listen to her answers, ask follow-up questions and make small comments in conversation that make it clear you’re listening to her.
2. Make jokes. Women like jokes because jokes are like sentences, but funnier.
3. Do some non-goopy romantic thing once in awhile. Buy her a bunch of balloons or take her to a concert as a surprise or write her a postmodern, totally self-aware declaration of lust.
It’s pretty much the same thing you’d tell a woman reading a hundred diet books. There’s no secret formula or magic trick. Just do the simple, obvious things. And everything in moderation—don’t make so many jokes it’s distracting, don’t overwhelm her with grand gestures. On the other hand, every guy I’ve ever dated has eaten like 100 cheeseburgers a day and never gained weight.