~ archived since 2018 ~

How to Deal with Men Who Have Bad "Game"

April 17, 2012
I received the e-mail below from a reader recently, and thought it would be interesting to other readers as well. I've polished my response slightly, but otherwise the exchange is unchanged.

Dear Andrew,

First of all, I love the blog, I have nothing but the highest praises for your writing. :)

I have a question for you, which I think many female readers will sympathize...As I'm sure you already know, a lot of attention is being paid to the kind of game a guy needs to get the girls he wants. A lot of this focuses on teaching guys to demonstrate cockiness/confidence and not supplicating to a girl he likes. While I definitely understand the motivation behind this, I feel like these ideas are starting to get kind of over-saturated in the dating world. Now, when I go out, it seems like most guys think that making fun of you is the course. However, I think a lot of guys aren't really sure where the line is between playful teasing and overly sarcastic comments. Case in point, the other night I was at a birthday party and was talking to a guy who approached me. I asked him at one point how he knew the birthday boy, which I thought was a casual question, to which his response was "I didn't realize this was an interview, do you want my social security number next?" It's possible that I was being too confrontational when I asked, but I don't think so, and his comment kind of sucked away the fun, light vibe of the conversation. He kept going with similar comments, and eventually the conversation petered out a bit awkwardly.

My question for you is, how do you think a girl should respond in those types of situations where a guy might unknowingly be going too far? In the past my reaction was to get defensive or annoyed, but I've now realized that that is equally bad and just makes the tone of an interaction terse and negative. I try when I can to respond in a flirty way, but sometimes it's hard not to get defensive or touchy! I know I can't change the behavior of thousands of guys, but I can change my own responses. If there is a way I can show a guy I'm interested and that he doesn't need to do that, but do so in a way that is encouraging and sweet, I would love to know how. Thoughts?

Thanks for your time!

Thanks, glad you like the blog.

I know exactly what you mean about men acting the way you describe, for two reasons. First, because in the past year or so I have actually started to overhear men "gaming" women at bars, and doing it poorly. What used to be a relatively "underground" set of tactics is now being used in the mainstream, and often in a misunderstood and watered-down form. Secondly, I’ve tried some of it myself, and have said similarly stupid things. The point is, I can definitely answer your question.

Recognize that, ultimately, men are saying these things (and acting these ways) because they have an incredibly deep drive and desire to be with you – romantically, sexually, socially, or all three. And until they discovered "game" they had absolutely no idea how to do so. Women for them were like an enormous and wildly beautiful diamond on display in a museum: plainly visible and even within an arm’s reach, but surrounded by security guards and a thick plate of bullet-proof glass preventing them from obtaining it. That kind inability – especially when coupled with such a strong desire – is a powerful and sickening thing to feel. (I describe it briefly in the opening lines of the post Men Have No Clue Why They Find a Woman Attractive.)

At some point, these same men stumbled across a fairly convincing system that promises success with women and isn't impossible too follow – a system that tells them how to remove the bulletproof glass and disarm the security guards (i.e. their own lack of confidence). Of course they are going to try it. But the fact that they are trying it does not mean that they are suddenly naturally confident about confronting you. While “game” certainly gives them more confidence than they had, it by no means eliminates their inexperience or nervousness. So when men say things like this, recognize that the underlying emotion they are feeling is somewhere between nervousness and crippling insecurity.

What goes through their minds is something like this:
Fuck that girl is cute. Good thing I know what to say to make her like me. I’m kinda nervous, but nerves are irrational; I am going to (try to) ignore them. Man this is hard. But OK, here I go, no more pussy shit. I am going to approach her... remember: be cool, confident, calm – say the right thing, don't let her know you are too interested…
[Approach, use “opener”]
OK, that went reasonably well, at least she doesn’t hate me… now what? Neg! I need to neg her, that is what The Game said to do. OK here goes...
[Neg - like the "interview" one you used as an example]
Fuck, she’s pissed, she doesn’t like me. Do I hang in there? Maybe if I fix my body language she will change her mind. Ugh. Nope. Do I actually walk away at this point? This is humiliating. Maybe I should just try... no... it's over.
[Walk away, make excuses to friends about why it went poorly and take 5 shots to get over it]
Maybe I should have isolated her from the group first. I’ll have to go back to that website where I got that line and try something different. I must have said it wrong.
(Notice that the use of the neg is never questioned.)

Of course, not all guys that use “game” are this unsure of themselves. The ones that are more seasoned won’t be as abrasive, and you probably won’t even be able to pick them out from other men - and why would you want to? – it doesn’t mean that their intentions are any more insidious; it just means they weren’t “naturals” and have used techniques to overcome their inhibitions. But the guys that you are asking about are basically scarred shitless of you, and are blindly following a set of rules because that is all they know. While you should admire the fact that they are using the limited tools they have to get what they want, you should also have some sympathy for them, because their situation is fairly pathetic.

But back to your main question: how do you respond? It would be dishonest to them to act as if their "neg" or technique was successful (let alone subtle). But as you've realized, it is equally ineffective to call them out, bite back, or chastise them. Instead, try the following:
  1. Respond negatively but briefly, i.e. in such a way that they recognize that their words or actions were not effective.
  2. Continue in a light-hearted manner, as if it didn't bother you (and knowing that their words or actions stem from nervousness will help you to be less bothered by them).
So when he says "I didn't realize this was an interview, do you want my social security number next?" (which, by the way, has "pickup artist line" written all over it – I think I even have seen it somewhere before), do this: pause, look perplexed and annoyed for a second, and then say "no, I was just curious..." then break into a smile and say something like "but if you give it to me I promise I'll send you a money order for $5,000 tomorrow by noon ;)" Again, the point is to show disapproval but then demonstrate that you'd still like to continue the interaction in a playful way, without the pretense.

Don't be too surprised if some guys react poorly, even to this “soft” kind of reaction. They've read books that tell them they should be the “alpha male,” commanding the conversation; and if you take charge like this, they are liable to get upset, feeling like they've “lost.” In fact, some guys might actually try to neg you harder. In this case, your best bet is to walk away. You will save your own time and do them a favor by showing them that their line or attitude didn’t work. After a couple years trying these tactics unsuccessfully, they will either make adjustments until they are less offensive and do work, or drop them altogether.

"Game" could be just a passing social fad, but it definitely isn’t going to pass during our generation, so you will need to be patient with guys on the steeper portion of the learning curve. Recognize that, in the long run, it is helping men get over their fear of approaching you, and this is a good thing for both sexes – even if there are some bumps along the way.

Hope that helps.


If you have questions you'd like answered, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]

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