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The Evolutionary Psychologist’s Guide to Picking Up Girls

Mate1,406 words

Tucker Max and Geoffrey Miller
Mate: Become the Man Women Want
New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015

Time was when a young man did not need to master evolutionary psychology in order to find himself a girl. The adult world provided the young with ready-made social rituals for meeting, assessing one another’s prospects as a mate, and (eventually) entering into a lifelong covenant to bear and raise a new generation. For most people, it wasn’t all that exciting; but since they never expected it to be, they were not overly disappointed. Social pressures and low expectations were such that even the homely usually married one another rather than remain alone.

Prosperity raises expectations. World War II was followed in the West by the greatest and most broadly spread prosperity in the history of the world. Not only the idle rich, as in former ages, but even the man (and woman) on the street began to see marriage and childrearing as an obstacle to personal sexual fulfillment. Unprepared and atomized young people bought into the fantasies of Playboy and Cosmo; what they ended up getting was a cruel Darwinian competition that usually culminated in sterility, abandonment, and dying alone.

It is surprising, in retrospect, how much time passed before anyone stepped up to provide guidance to young men trying to cope with the new situation. Commentators of the older generation, innocent of biology, still think the abolition of monogamy puts a harem at the disposal of every young man; their rescue fantasies adorn paleoconservative journals to this day.

But a social need will eventually produce entrepreneurs claiming to satisfy it. First to market was a schmuck named Eric Weber, who walked around Manhattan with a portable tape recorder (c. 1970) asking pretty girls what they looked for in a man. He published the results in a worthless booklet called How to Pick Up Girls, took out teensy ads for it in Playboy, and watched the money roll in. Many imitators followed, but it was a long wait for books that benefited their readers as much as their authors.

Today, the field is highly competitive. Too much advice is focused on short-term “scoring,” but such is the nature of the target audience, and many of the points taught are equally valuable to men with a longer-range perspective.

The book under review is a valuable addition to the genre, the product of an unusual partnership between evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller and bestselling author Tucker Max. Miller is Professor of Psychology at the University of New Mexico and author of The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature (reviewed here). That book is an attempt to revive Darwin’s theory of sexual selection from The Descent of Man, as opposed to his better-known theory of natural selection familiar from The Origin of Species. The textbook example of sexual selection is the peacock’s tail: it is cumbersome, consumes a great deal of energy, and leaves the peacock more vulnerable to predators—but it endures because peahens like it. After Darwin, unfortunately, many biologists were reluctant to go very far beyond peacock’s tails in applying the theory of sexual selection. Miller’s thesis in The Mating Mind is that sexual selection can be used to explain all kinds of surprising phenomena formerly left unexplained or imperfectly explained in terms of natural selection alone. Miller is also the author of Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior, a book applying the insights of evolutionary psychology to the field of marketing (reviewed here).

Self-described “asshole” Tucker Max spent the flower of his youth getting drunk, getting in trouble, and having one-night stands. What makes him unusual is that he wrote a book about it: I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell (2006). It became a bestseller and Bible of the college party set, inspiring a whole new literary genre known as fratire. Four sequels have appeared. He was unsuccessfully sued by a former Miss Vermont after their one-night stand became the subject of a humorous story in one of his books. One of Mr. Max’s stated ambitions is to have an abortion clinic named in his honor.

The central message of Mate can be summarized as “back to the stone age.” That roughly 95% of human history—between the appearance of the first hominids two or three million years ago and the development of metallurgy a few thousand years ago—is man’s environment of evolutionary adaptation. Women are programmed to mate not with men who possess traits that can rationally be seen as advantageous under modern conditions, but with men who possess traits beneficial to their Paleolithic female ancestors.

The authors explain, for instance, how to interpret women’s stated desire for a “strong but sensitive” man from this evolutionary perspective. In the civilized West, sensible men who avoid taking their dates into “vibrant” ethnic neighborhoods will not usually be forced to defend them physically. But civilization is still too new and fragile for women’s limbic systems to have gotten the message: they go right on wanting men who know how to land a spear in a saber-toothed tiger.

They also, of course, prefer that a man be kind and considerate. But they do not care equally about these two qualities:

In any relationship with a woman, you’ll probably be in tender mode 95 percent of the time and defender mode only 5 percent of the time. [But] how you act in those 5 percent of defender cases will determine a larger percentage of her attraction to you than the quieter 95 percent of tender moments.

The reason “assholes finish first” (to quote the title of one of Tucker Max’s books) is that the Paleolithic human female needed to worry more about saber-toothed tigers and marauding enemy tribesmen than about romance. Her female descendents today will still choose a capable man who treats her condescendingly or neglectfully over a nice guy who does not know how to be assertive.

Among the most valuable chapters in Mate is entitled “Understand What It’s Like to Be a Woman.” Ordinary human self-centeredness means that men tend to assume women’s experiences of men mirror their experiences with women, and feminist ideology has served to reinforce this lazy assumption. As the authors point out, so many men are oblivious to the woman’s point of view that anyone who learns to understand it is at an enormous advantage. For example, a woman’s attractedness to defender traits is also at the root of the peculiar dialectic between fear and arousal at the heart of female sexuality: the man who can best defend her could also kill her with his bare hands. Or again, women’s cynicism about men approaching her is fueled by the unrepresentative sample of guys who have hit on her:

Think about women’s experience with guys like a city cop’s experience with people in general. Cops spend 90 percent of their time dealing with the scummiest 5 percent of humanity. The ones who’ve been around awhile often develop a cynical view of humans. It’s not that humans are all bad. It’s that cops see only the worst. Likewise, women spend a big proportion of their time avoiding the small percentage of guys who are the most intrusive, obnoxious, or insane. Psychopaths are sexually predatory, uninhibited and confident, so although they’re only 4 percent of the American male population, they might account for 40 percent of the men who have hit on any given woman.

Another message of Mate concerns signaling: even if you’ve got it, you must know how to flaunt it. Intelligence is among the traits most highly valued by human females, yet everyone knows about socially inept computer nerds who bomb with women. This is because they do not signal their intelligence in a way women can pick up on. Directly telling women about your intelligence or other desirable traits is another common mistake; instead of signaling intelligence, the braggart signals insecurity.

Women have also evolved to become masters at seeing through male fakery. In most cases, the only way a man can signal a positive trait effectively is to acquire that trait. Mate ends up being a kind of general self-improvement book that uses mating success as the bait. There are chapters on nutrition, physical fitness, improving social skills, building self-confidence, and finding the right places to meet the sort of women you are looking for. Most of the advice offered can improve a man’s life in ways unrelated to mating.

I heartily recommend this book.



  1. Bjørn
    Posted October 26, 2015 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Interesting. In adhering to the new right, one of the golden rules should be to work on long term strategies. As Devlin points out this book has a few good points for a long term relationship, even if it mainly seems to focus the good old PUA-ery.
    Given the elites manipulations as described in books like Libido Dominandi, we should be more than aware of the non-sustainability of applying the theories of this book with a new mate every month. A consequence of spreading these theories may be waking up to a day when the marriage marked only contains women (or men) with some tens of sexual partners in their luggage. Not a bright prospect if you want a feeling of uniqueness with your partner. And who does not?
    Having said that, and having been married for over 20 years, I have used some of the suggestions Tucker Max touches upon in my own marriage, and it works.

  2. Posted October 26, 2015 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting. I always enjoy Devlin so I wanted to see what you had to say about this book. Seems like its a rehash of game knowledge that is already readily available from people like Krauser, Heartiste, Rollo Tomassi, and Roosh. To be honest, I doubt I will be reading Tucker Max. Since the bomb of his movie based on his best-selling book, it seems like he was been trying to recapture that market… and by market, I do mean the money involved in the PUA/red pill/manosphere culture. I know several other prominent figures in the manosphere movement have distanced themselves from Tucker Max, like Roosh & Mike Cernovich. It seems Tucker Max has denounced people like the red pill crowd and then tried to plagiarize a lot of their work.

  3. F. Roger Devlin
    Posted October 26, 2015 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    While much of the information can be found in scattered form elsewhere, and thus may not qualify as “breakthrough,” the book is certainly a valuable addition to the field and better than most of the competition. The overall perspective of evolutionary psychology seems to me exactly the right one. In case the review itself did not make this clear: I heartily recommend this book.

  4. uh
    Posted October 26, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Good review. Questionable book. Dunno why anyone would fund Tucker Max.

    White men are under far too much stress. Getting women requires us to be playful, unserious alcoholics with obnoxious routines.

    Same time, we’re watching our homelands fall to non-whites, with nothing we can do about it; the most serious thing short of war and collapse.

    We’re expected to be everything at once. Poolside …. not fretting about the future every f—ing minute.

    Be what women want or your genes won’t be propagated. But propagate your genes and they’ll just face harder conditions anyway. Unless you can afford to buy them out of the morass. But you can’t save much when you’re throwing money away on going to bars. And if you did find a mate, she’d be a terrible mother even if she “consented” to motherhood.

    You’re a sperg if you don’t participate. You’re spending your life on a tightrope if you do.

    Does anyone else say “fuck all of it”? anyone else see the torturous absurdity of it?

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted October 26, 2015 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      The basic teaching of game is that sexual freedom for women is profoundly atavistic. Feral female desire is drawn to Dark Triad traits and traits that were most adaptive in the last Ice Age, not traits that have been selected for by the intervening 30,000 years of cultural development. And Tucker thinks we should “be the kind of man that women want.” This is why I wrote my article “Does the Manosphere Morally Corrupt Men?”

      • uh
        Posted October 26, 2015 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        I strongly doubt playfulness, alcoholism, and the ability to turn a phrase to generate “tingles” were selected for during the Last Glacial Maximum. Assertiveness, fine. But I don’t accept that easy line drawn between that and what’s happening now. Thus, I don’t view current female criteria as atavistic, but as atrophied.

        After all, saying “well they had to be smarter to survive” ignores the bulk of prior human evolution, and is anyhow a facile conclusion — paleolithic survival techniques require intelligence, but once those techniques allowed humans to reach equilibria at various times, a culture was created that allowed for relaxed selection, that being the great advantage of culture.

        My point is that the current social culture in America, maybe Europe, I don’t know or care anymore, is too demanding, and like so many other aspects of our society, operate on and demand in return supernormal stimuli. It is also completely unrewarding — unless one manage actually to propagate one’s genes, and although I often maintain that to be only purpose of life, it’s also a barren one if bereft of family and reasonable security.

        Anyway, I don’t think I’m the first to question the value of it all given current conditions. I just wish I weren’t the only one left.

        • Catiline
          Posted October 28, 2015 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

          There are two of us left. Don’t be so depressed.

    • Catiline
      Posted October 28, 2015 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      Brilliant summation of this whole subject.

  5. Shawn
    Posted October 26, 2015 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m jealous of those who married early and have a large family. All men need to know to attract women is this: better yourself physically, out compete your male competition financially, learn basic social skills, be social, and be a leader (socially dominate). That’s about all guys need to know.

  6. Emil Clause
    Posted October 26, 2015 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    The Chateau Heartiste website is witty, humorous, hard-hitting, and patently White Nationalist with enough practical and theoretic info in its archives and lengthy comment sections to keep one, even an old married guy like me, occupied for many months. Very useful IMO. Tucker is not highly regarded there BTW.

  7. Ray Symm
    Posted October 29, 2015 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I read the section on women in Aaron Clarey’s Bachelor Pad Economics. It too devolved into a self improvement thing which recommended working out, etc. I’ve got a handle on that part but I wish there was a way to transfer the successful male’s subconscious mentality so that it might sink into an ordinary man’s mind and enable him to conjure up his inner player–well, maybe not player but successful date recipient anyway. Maybe what’s needed is not so much a catalog of behaviors but mental stimuli that would awaken one’s own innate sense of game, a sense which would be optimal in all scenarios. Maybe there’s some mind game that would rouse it to the surface.

  8. Matthew Edgley
    Posted October 30, 2015 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    A huge defect in these Darwinian sexual-selection arguments is that they ALWAYS totally overlook the fact that the guy acting all alpha and tough within the safe confines of a pacifistic civilization—where he knows that laws will protect him from the consequences of his obnoxious posturing—is not the same guy who will be throwing spears into lions when the chips are down.

    What exactly makes you think that the traits a dysfunctional and decadent civilization like ours cultivates in its alleged ‘alpha’ males are the same traits that will ensure security and survival under harsher and more desperate circumstances?

    Most of these alleged alpha males are just all talk. It’s like Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”, and the problem with Western civilization is that it’s too weak and nonviolent. People don’t get punched in the face often enough so they can more realistically evaluate the real consequences of their mass media-induced delusions of grandeur.

    Where were these mythical alpha males when the little girls of Rotherham were getting raped by foreign invaders? Where are these Tucker Max style super men when simians are raping their women in America by the thousands?

    Apathetic? Drunk? Scared of being called ‘racist’? Or maybe got other things to do while their civilization collapses?

    So much for these alpha males.

    Another fault I find with this Darwinian line of reasoning is that if these women are so naturally attuned to selecting men who will ensure the best chance of their genes getting passed down, then why on earth do they frequently select men who will leave them single mums?

    The monogamous family structure has proven itself the best for ensuring survival, even preserving our Nordic ancestors through the harshest ice ages known on earth. Yet these divorce-whores aren’t really making choices that are consistent with Darwinian reasoning.

    In light of this a lot of these red-pillers think monogamy and family is a ‘beta’ concept.
    Evidently emulating the jungle behaviour of Negroes is more ‘alpha’ and something we should strive for.

    I stopped listening to these talkers a long time ago. They have nothing to teach us.

    In fact, you haven’t swallowed the real red pill until the bullets start flying. Deeds, not words, are what will sort our race out and determine who lives and who dies.

    Not some flamboyant PUA in a bar asking women their opinion on orgies.

    There comes a point where you don’t want to be lectured on masculinity by these fakers who have obviously never been in a real fight.

    This reminds me of a quote by the guy who wrote Conan the Barbarian:

    “Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split.”

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted October 30, 2015 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      Where are the “alpha” gamers while civilization crumbles? Poolside

  9. Stronza
    Posted October 31, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    A guide to “picking up” girls? Why would a man want a woman who could be “picked up”? I guess I must be old, because I can remember when the slutty girls in school were referred to as “pickups”.

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