Never been on a date before?

June 23, 2006

The field of self-help is wacky and wild. It has corners that the bravest souls fear to tread… and other corners that are as comfy as your favorite sofa. From learning to get in touch with your inner child, to becoming productive with your computer, to losing weight, to getting a raise, to getting along with your spouse, to traveling into deeper dimensions and talking with dead family members… all of these themes of self-help have entire industries devoted to them, and there's obviously a lot of money. Self-help makes money because people want it badly.

That's why I respect Neil Strauss and his latest reinvention of himself that was enjoyably and informatively documented in his latest book, "The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists". He's bringing the somewhat scary world of pickup artists and casual dating and plain old social skills into a new era. In a way, he's a bit of a self-help startup, and he has a lot of passion.

His most recent venture is called The Stylelife Challenge. His market seems to be the socially awkward, the relationshiply-inexperienced, the low self-esteem crowd of people who, either through bad luck, choice, or futility have never been on a date, have never been in a relationship, and have never gotten laid… but who now want to experience this facet of human existence… as early as next month.

It's free, and it seems like it's going to be pretty interesting to watch. Between July 1st and July 31st, he's going to walk as many people as sign up through a 31 day course… with the attempt to get everyone a date by the end of the month.

It's geared mostly towards guys (sorry ladies… but I think this is where more of the work needs to happen anyway), and I think the spirit of it is that you're going to have to go out there and make a bit of a fool of yourself until you get the hang of it.

Here are the guidelines:

On July 1, you will begin receiving daily assignments in the Forum. These assignments may be video, audio, or text. They will contain exercises for you to complete, articles to read, and goals for you to meet. They will begin at a very basic level and grow more advanced as the challenge continues.

In addition, discussion boards have been set up to assist you with your personal growth. You should be posting all questions, obstacles, field reports, and successes there. Style, Rourke (of The Final Five), and the other participants will be there to help you with constructive criticism.

In addition, if you would like feedback on your personal appearance, dress, and the first impression you create, post a picture in the Style Critique section of the Forums, and Style, Rourke, and other participants will offer tips and pointers. You win when at any point between day one and day thirty-one, you get a date and submit a field report about the experience in the Winner's Circle section of the Forums.

A date is defined as a 'planned second encounter' with a woman you have just met.

For example, if you meet a woman at a bar, exchange phone numbers, and meet her for coffee two days later, that is a date. If you meet a woman at the mall, arrange to meet that night at a club, and she shows up specifically to meet you, that is a date. Even if you don't exchange phone numbers.

Basically, any scenario where you approach a woman and she agrees to see you at a later date or time – and shows up – constitutes a date. Once you win, don't forget to add your field report to the Winner's Circle. Feel free to remain on the boards afterward, carry out the daily assignments, and help your fellow competitors.

Read more about it on, or join here.


9 Responses to “Never been on a date before?”

  1. maggie Says:

    Winners Circle? Gross. Women are not prizes! I’m all for dorky guys making themselves look better but I hardly think these methods qualify as “mutual improvement for the greatest good” considering how they marginalize women into something simply to be won and then presumably tossed away when another potential prize comes along. But you already know how I feel on this topic I guess. :p

  2. Pronoia Says:

    It is a little off-putting that way, but I think the marginalization goes both ways, so maybe it cancels out? After all, he’s addressing the margins with this challenge… trying to get them on the boat with dating and relationships. His intentions are good, aren’t they? They’re talking about a date as simply a planned second meeting with a woman, not an attempt to lie their way into the pants of unsuspecting women. I don’t believe it’s intended to be evil or to treat woman as anything less than equals. But yeah, I also cringed at a few of the word choices.

  3. maggie Says:

    No, I don’t think it cancels it out, I think it is opposite. This stuff takes men who were maybe already on the margin and trys to elevate them at the same time it is turning women into nothing more than a target. “Marginalize” doesn’t just mean to put someone in a box–it means to put them in a box beneath you. I am not familiar with this program but if it is anything like The Game then I don’t see how you can say it is treating women as equals. It is all about scoring the prize. The women themselves are incidental except for as a notch on a scorecard. Even if that is not the intention I feel that’s how it evolved in The Game. I mean, whatever, I don’t care THAT much, I just like to argue. But I don’t feel like this stuff embodies the spirit of your blog or the concept of pronoia. This is gamenoia–the feeling that men are conspiring behind your back to get in your pants. ;)

  4. maggie Says:

    PS I will totally contradict myself now and say that I do agree with the idea that men should TRY more–like, try to look good and be interesting and approachable. In my dating experience, men have turned all listless and boring and squishy, while we women are still expected to be beautiful and charming and all that. But I just hate this sort of women-as-prey or -trophies sort of mentality. I feel like they are only a few workshops away from stuffing each woman and putting them on the mantle.

  5. Pronoia Says:

    I agree with you that this is only a few steps away from being truly disgusting, but also a few steps in the opposite direction from being potentially slightly noble. It’s a stretch. As it is, it’s definitely a touchy and potentially harmful topic… I mean, guys are historically the abusers of women and men alike, and to teach men how to better use the unfair share of power that we’ve be portioned will touch nerves. So I understand what you’re saying.

  6. timethief Says:

    Okay so it’s a HUGE stretch. Like Maggie I would have a great deal more faith and be a whole lot less cynical about it if the woman weren’t lined up like a target or prize at the end. Perhaps if the whole effort was being conducted as a self improvement course with female instructors I would be feeling it might have some value but this isn’t the case. It has the “feel” of a phony baloney reality tv and and that sucks. I would also like to say that the presumption that evry woman with a good figure, a brain, a sense of humour and an adventurous spirit is looking for a “Ken doll” is not the case. I know “hot” young women today who actually prefer to seek out and date geekish and shy men. And in fact I met that description myself when I was younger. The result of my search for a meaningful and loving life time long relationship produced a man who was younger and less attractive than I was. He became my friend and remained my freind for months before he “got laid”. Eventually I married him because he was an exceptional and outstanding human being that I knew I would continue to love throughout my life.

  7. […] The Style Life Challenge I wrote about a couple days got an interesting response (see the comments).  While we're on the topic, I thought I'd also mention the female-equivalent of male-centric The Game… a book called The Rules, written by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.  They've sold over 2 million copies since 1995, and have built sort of a mini-movement around this book.  Most people consider both the books to be rather sexist, misguided, and full of advice that will only work for the most pathetic and desparate people around.  I'm not really trying to convince otherwise… but for some reason I find the information in these books to be really fascinating.  What's most interesting about these books, to me, is that they're taking something that's traditionally thought of pretty sacred (the search for romance, love, soul mates, marriage, whatever), and turned it into a deliberate set of rules, exercises, and tricks that people who feel frustrated, unhappy, and limited can use to begin to feel empowered, self-confident, and able to impact their own lives for the better. […]

  8. Bert Says:

    Dear Maggie,

    “The Game” isn’t about objectifying women and treating them as chips to be won. What Neil Strauss is doing is almost exactly like the situation in the film “Hitch” or to a lesser degree the movie “40 Year Old Virgin” where the buddies in the film all give creative advice on how to get the girl. And by “get” I mean her heart, not her body.

  9. railyardhound Says:

    Maggie, if calling guys you’ve never met “dorky” isn’t marginalization, then what is it? You know, placing them in a box and putting them under you…

    Guys, even ones that you marginalize, are motivated by a spirit of competition. So the Winners Circle is more about motivation rather than a taxidermy initiation.

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