The Ethics of Being a PlayerReceived an email from a reader yesterday that I decided to answer publicly:

“I wanted to ask you about the ethics of being a player, because I really don’t want to go around breaking hearts, deliberately or not? How do you deal with this? I know you talk a lot about how woman tend to become emotionally attached to the men they sleep with. Are you explicitly up front with the woman you only want to have sex with, or do you just drop subtle hints? Basically, is there a way to manage their expectations? I’d like to be a temporary player with as little collateral damage as possible.”

There are a lot of points to deal with here, both intentional by the reader and unintentional. We’ll take them one by one. But I’ll start off by saying that the reader is coming from the typical Nice Guy Syndrome perspective and the reason I’m answering this email publicly is because — well, mainly because it’s going to be a long fucking response — but because most guys who seek out pick up and dating advice start with the same mindset, so I think this is going to be relevant to a lot of people.

Nice Guy Syndrome is basically someone who is scared to death to upset anyone else or to have anyone think badly of them. It’s a wholly reactive and passive mindset programmed into a lot passive/effeminate men (read: pussies) from a very early age: don’t offend, don’t be controversial, don’t make anyone else upset if you can help it. The idea is that having nobody dislike you equates to everyone loving you. Unfortunately, this isn’t how it works. In the process of NOT asserting yourself or your desires, you invite others to walk over you and become enslaved by everyone else’s desires, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in not-so-subtle ways.

The problem is also that sex, dating, womanizing, being a player, these things ARE controversial at times, they ARE offensive at times, and people will get upset. When Nice Guy’s begin studying this stuff and finally work up the courage to begin implementing it, they’re often confronted with the conundrum of our reader above: I want to assert my sexuality but I don’t want anyone to dislike me, I don’t want to be controversial or offensive. But instead of recognizing the inherent contradiction in goals (I don’t want to be offensive, but to get laid I need to be willing to be offensive), the Nice Guy rationalizes the exact same thought the reader above rationalized, along with millions of men the world over: “I just don’t want to hurt anybody.”

Here’s where the covert arrogance and selfishness of Nice Guy Syndrome is exposed. Only a completely conceited and self-absorbed person could truly believe that they have that much power over the emotions of total strangers. “I don’t want to sleep around because I will hurt a lot of girl’s feelings.” Sorry chief, chances are you’re not that important or significant enough to 95% of the women you meet to do that much damage.

Here’s reality: girls are going to have their hearts broken. It happens to everyone. It will happen to you, me, and everyone else on this planet. And it will happen to girls you date, whether it’s you or some other guy. Believe it or not, women are conscious beings. They make decisions for themselves. They’re self-aware and (usually) not stupid. They know there’s a very real and likely possibility that each guy they choose to hook up with won’t go anywhere and may even end up being a shithead. Yet they willingly take the risk over and over again. Because to them, that risk is worth it.

Women know what they’re getting into, and unless you’re outright lying to them (which I’ll get to in a second), then you are not responsible for their emotions. And to believe that you are the master or determiner of their emotions is nothing but a blind conceit and folly.

The other delusion of Nice Guy Syndrome is that it assumes that as a man you always know how every relationship is going to go from the outset. You don’t. You could meet a girl who you think is the most amazing person you’ve ever met, fall madly in love with them and expect to spend years together, and then realize two weeks later that you can’t fucking stand them (it’s happened). You could also go home drunk with a girl expecting to never see her again and then end up dating and living with her for two years (has also happened). The point is, you never know the outcome of a relationship until you dive in and try it out. So to go off the assumption that you’re going to break hearts before you’ve even walked up and said hello is pure delusion.

And while we’re here, I’ll point out that hypothetically, even if you knew for a certainty that you were going to hurt this girl and screw her up, the ethics of the situation are still murky. This usually plays out in the classic “She’s going to cheat on someone with me, is it OK?” scenario. Even then, there are rational arguments for each side.

With that said, since the reader asked me what the protocol for not misleading a girl and setting expectations is, I’ll go over it briefly. But then I want to get to the core of his question, a core that he probably wasn’t even aware of when he emailed me.

DON’T ever outright lie or mislead a girl about you, your history, your intentions, or just about anything. Lying is unnecessary and unethical in just about every situation.

DO be honest if she asks if you’re seeing anyone else or if you’re looking for a girlfriend or not.

DON’T go into unnecessary details about your sex-life. Just because she asks if you’re seeing anyone else doesn’t mean you have to describe the every girl’s favorite position. A simple “yes” or “no” will suffice. “That’s none of your business” is always a reasonable answer if one girl is prying too much.

DO be respectful of her wishes and boundaries. If she says she doesn’t want to date a guy who is seeing other girls, then respect that.

Most of this stuff is common sense and comes back to not being a pussy or dishonest. If you’re dating a girl who isn’t absolutely batshit crazy, then you’re not going to have many problems. In the dozens and dozens and dozens of casual relationships and booty call arrangements I’ve had over the years, I’d say that less than 10% ever involved drama or a bad fallout.

So the short answer is basically that: be honest, don’t be a bitch. Do it. But I want to touch on the core of this issue that probably doesn’t get talked about as often. That of avoiding emotional engagement in general.

Because the crux of the whole Nice Guy Syndrome is that of a man who is afraid of confronting emotions, both his own and those of others. When the reader above says, “I don’t want to break any hearts, I want to minimize collateral damage,” what he’s really saying is, “I don’t want to deal with any messy emotions,” most likely his own.

Unfortunately, picking up girls is based on managing and responding to emotions. It’s a dance. Whether you like it or not, you have to engage with emotions to be successful at it. Most guys, particularly guys who are naturally good with women, engage with women on an emotional level unconsciously — in their mind they’re just trying to get laid or impress their friends, but inside they’ve got shortcomings and insecurities to fill or a neurotic itch to scratch. The advantage that we have in consciously choosing to be players and improving with women is that we can choose to engage with our emotions with full awareness and accountability. Sure, this makes it harder in many respects, but opening up your internal emotional valve and willingly playing with others on that level is going to end up enriching your life and those around you far beyond the bedroom.

There’s a reason that guys who get good at this stuff report improved relationships across the board, at work, with friends, with their family, etc.

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39 Responses to The Ethics of Being a Player

  1. modernguy says:

    What a bunch of bullshit. The only ethics you need to know is do to others as you’d have done to you. Pick up fools love to talk about how open to emotions they are. Then with the other side of their mouth they start babbling about how to “manage” your emotions and avoid any that are unattractive to women. The thing that enables you to have so many relationships is that the emotions you display are shallow enough that most people can relate. The average player’s emotional repertoire consists of crying when his dog dies and laughing at adam sandler movies.

    • Mark says:

      And on the contrary, I’d argue that most pick up guys are completely devoid and scared shitless of talking about their emotions. It’s all about numbers to them. Scoring the most points.

      What enables you to have so many relationships is being able to relate to people individually, shallow or not. The more depth you’re capable of, the more people you’ll be able to relate to.

    • archivenic says:

      Wow, great post. I admire your insight.

      It’s not even so much that WHAT you wrote is the gold, as much as it is the underlying messages beneath it. Excellent, excellent post!

  2. modernguy says:

    The reason women like meatheads is because they can be more easily manipulated.

    • Mark says:

      And this is why most meatheads aren’t players.

    • Mark says:

      I wonder if you try to get everything wrong, or if it just kind of happens that way. 😉

      • modernguy says:

        Nice one, but isn’t that too passive-aggressive for a tough guy (read: non pussy)?

        • Mark says:

          No, I was insulting you. Your reply on the other hand, was passive-aggressive. It’s obvious you either didn’t read this post or you’re just trolling your own stereotyped beliefs. You obviously know very little about the people you’re speaking of, just making blanket statements based on bad reality television, or the jocks who used to throw you against lockers in high school.

          I challenge you to assess why YOU feel so much animosity towards players, why you stereotype them negatively and then perhaps question that maybe it’s you who is unwilling to confront the emotional realities of engaging with women sexually and openly.

          But until then, please only reply on topics in which you have personal experience to share (which I’m sure is very little). Thanks.

          • Tim says:

            Bro I don’t want to be petty but I think you need some ice for that burn.

            (Give Mark’s advice a chance though).

          • Axel says:

            I would give his advice a chance too. But… it’s still sizzling. Cue in Kelso.

          • Breeeeeett says:

            Also, modernguy, you talk like being open with your emotions and managing your emotions are two opposite, and mutually exclusive things – they aren’t. My experience with pick up has been that I confront emotions that I’ve never confronted before, ie. bring subconcious insecurities into the conscious realm and deal with them instead of avoiding them like I did in the past (read: being a pussy – despite the modern day bullshit sterotype that men who deal with emotions are pussies and we should do nothing but eat meat and watch football). I know you’re probably not going to believe anything I’m saying since you need to experience it to understand it to an extent, so I’m sure I’m probably just wasting my breathe, but once you bring out your emotions and confront them – it’s not until then that you can “manage” them responsibly like an adult. Doing this also helps you recognize and manage emotions of those around you. This is what game comes down to on a lot of levels.

  3. Cornelius says:

    Mark….. well done!
    I think this post is much deeper than it seems at first!
    And your response to “modernguy” (dude, this nickname is pure irony, isn’t it? )shows that you are really mature.
    I honestly think you are the best Pickup/Sedcution- Lifestyle
    teacher out there. (okay, Steve Mayeda and jason savage also rock, but you have the edge 😉 )

    Thanks, Cornelius

  4. modernguy says:

    Arguing about arguments is stupid enough, but suffice it to say that if you can’t tell yours was passive-aggressive, then you’re also stupid, or just doing the old bait-and-switch, which amusingly is a feminine tactic. Anyway as regards players: it’s not so much towards them than I feel animosity. They are scavengers adapted to feast on the easy pickings that modern life offers them. I would think self-respecting men would aspire to something higher than that, but that’s for each one to decide. The thing that really aggravates me is not their success, but the possibility of their success. It means that women have sunk so low or become so stupid that any man who can mold himself into the key to their general biological lock can get in. It’s not about your individuality or who you are, but how well you conform to the proto-dick. The problem with a situation like this is that relations become artificial, even if ever so slightly. And the problem with that is that nobody really knows who anybody else “is”, most especially in “relationships”. BTW, erasing my comment is also passive-aggressive, since I can’t do anything about it here.

    • Mark says:

      Hmm… so modern men are low-lifes and self-loathing. Women are stupid and shallow. My actions are now “feminine” (I guess that’s supposed to be derogatory) and no one can really know anybody else.

      You sound like a bundle of fun and joy. No wonder the ladies love you. 😉

      Please read these and think about them:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

      And for the record, I’m happy to talk to people who disagree with me, but name-calling and offensive stereotyping will be deleted.

      Best of luck to you.

      • modernguy says:

        My comment before was that players manipulate women instead of the other way around. Which is not name-calling, offensive, or stereotyped. It’s just a fact. That’s why it’s called “game”. And improving at it is the point of game. As to being a bundle of fun and joy: The world is not a bundle of fun and joy, it is many other things as well. And although I agree that when dealing with women you should take a light tone, falsifying yourself to make people believe you’re a bundle of fun and joy is something else.

        • jeff says:

          Seriously Modern guy!
          You assume alot of about what “players” need to do to get laid, and about what women want.

          What strikes me about your comments is that you seem to believe that most self-respecting women do not actually LIKE or WANT sex. and that men have to lie or manipulate in order to get women.

          That is why high quality men may have mutual sexual encounters with high quality women without manipulation lies or feelings being hurt

          Game does not require that you fool anyone. It is NOT manipulative by definition. You are giving people(especially women) way too little credit.

          Plus “manipulate” is a loaded term. Being nice can be just as much a form of manipulation as teasing a girl. The question is whether you are being honest or not with who you are or want to be.

          • jeff says:

            I meant to say

            “That’s NOT the case, which is why high quality men can have mutual sexual encounters with high quality women without manipulation lies or feelings being hurt”

    • Tim says:

      “… the old bait and switch, which amusingly is a feminine tactic”. Doesn’t this sexual stereotyping give you a bit of a hint you might be the one with a negative and disempowering view of women?

      Give this other article by Mark a read: http://www.practicalpickup.com/you-are-not-a-victim

      In it he talks about whether an issue you have is an issue with you or with the world, which I think is something that’s pretty relevant if you think that the majority of modern men and women are screwed up. I’m not sermonizing either; there are times when I have to use this advice to remind myself that the problem is more likely to be with me than the world around me, and that the reason I don’t want to deal with this is because of the complexity facing this reality creates and the emotional issues within myself that it would require me to face.

      It’s hard to be humble in the short-term, but it’s rewarding in the long-term.

    • Bertrand says:

      I agree. The problem is that this is just reality. I think a lot of guys get into this PU thing and come to the realisations you describe here. Instead of blaming society they should rather admit that they don’t really like girls as much as they thought, because this is what girls are in 2011. Hate the game not the player, the current dating climate is really the product of global capitalism on steroids which feminism is a part of. If you really want to find a life partner who loves you for you I suggest thinking about looking in a less “developed” part of the world. Personally I like the vulgar modern society, but yes, everytime a movie from the 70’s comes on tv I can’t help but watch it and fantasize about how wonderful it would have been to live then instead.

    • JCZ says:

      Pfff, I see a girl I’m attracted to, walk over to her and introduce myself, and if the attraction is mutual I kiss her. If she responds well to all that I continue. What am I molding into what here?

      People are free to enter relationships the more orthodox way, as a friend of mine did: slowly get to know her better, then officially enter the relationship (and kiss for the first time), then work up to marriage. Nothing wrong with that either, it’s just a bit slower and would leave me with a feeling of clumsiness and many moons of lonely longing.

      Charming her with magic, routines and whatever BS is definitely not the way to go, I fully agree with that; nor is it the only manifestation of player-ness.

    • Workshy Joe says:

      So you’re angry at women for behaving the way they do and not the way that you previously thought they should?

      Disillusionment is a real pain, but its not the end of the road.

      Just accept reality as it is and then decide how you will respond to it.

  5. Kevin says:

    It took me a long time to learn to go into budding relationships with a “Just relax and see where this goes” attitude.

    Before that I made the classic mistakes you mentioned, where I just assumed the girl would fall madly in love with me and be destroyed if I dumped her.

    I’d go out with a girl on one date, have a good time, but maybe not be 100% crazy about her. I’d spend the next two days fretting about whether it would be right for me to see her again and lead her on, even though I knew deep down we had no future together.

    What often happened was the girl would text me soon after saying she had fun, but didn’t see a second date happening. Whoops, got a little ahead of myself there.

    Not to mention that the girl I dated the longest I wasn’t that keen on at first and thought it was just going to be a short term thing. But she grew on me.

  6. Xander says:

    If you had posted this 5 years ago I probably would have saved about a year and a half of my life. Nice work Mark, thanks.

  7. Bill says:

    I have to say that I disagree with modernguys approach, by calling the article a load of bullshit. Thats just plain rude, and anyone would be entitled to defend themselves in such circumstances. I’m not going to kiss ass to Mark either and say that I believe everything in that article. But the basic premise (imo)is that “its ok to want to fuck girls” a line that Mark used before.
    In our politically correct world, many men simply don’t feel comfortable hitting on women, or whatever else you want to call it. It’s good to give ourselves permission to hit on women, without thinking we are slimy or creeps etc.
    Back to modernguy, and I think he has a valid point regarding PUA’s and how well you conform to the proto-dick. But then my response to this would be, if girls are stupid enough to respond to some lame social robot PUA crap, then they are not the type of girl I would want.
    Finally, back to the last comment from Mark. “There’s a reason that guys who get good at this stuff report improved relationships across the board, at work, with friends, with their family, etc.”
    Its nice to hear that someone can be successful with women and still maintain good and even better aspects in other areas of there life. I.e, you don’t have to be a Mystery/David D type asshole to be good with women.

    • jeff says:

      I don’t think that you have to be an asshole to be a Mystery/ David D type of guy. They just tend to attract alot of insecure/awkward or awkward people(though they also will attract normal people to). You can just as easily follow either method and not be a jerk or robotic. Often its a product of experience (since people often tend to overdo some elements such as negs/teases)

      I personally would go for a woman, even if she went for a guy who used pua lines. The thing is that regardless of how you present yourself or the lines you use, you are expressing some part of yourself. Women who “fall” for some lines aren’t necessarily stupid. They may simply like the guy and forgive awkwardness or they may not even care. Hell,they may be bored and welcome the change, even if they don’t believe some lines. The real test you want to look for is the type of guy the woman will stay with beyond a few dates.

      • Bill says:

        I agree with you that it is not necessary to be an asshole to be a Mystery/David D type guy, but (particularly with David D)they do have an overwhelming “treat them mean, to keep them keen” type philosophy. Basically David D’s Philosophy in a nutshell is to be a complete bastard and women will love you for it. I was foolish enough to read a lot of David D material, when I first discovered the community. Needless to say, it did me more harm than good.
        I find you last comment interesting. “The real test you want to look for is the type of guy the woman will stay with beyond a few dates.” This is the kind of guy I would like to see myself as/ aspire to be. Its a much healthier approach to take imo.

      • Mark says:

        Well said Jeff.

        That’s the whole thing Bill, the side of yourself that you present will ultimately be the type of women you’ll attract. So if you present yourself as a horny asshole, you’re going to end up getting with needy women with low self-esteem. If you present yourself as a social robot, then you’re going to attract very superficial girls. If you present yourself as smart and caring, you’re going to attract adoring and sensual women.

        This is what I keep trying to say and the industry still doesn’t seem to get: your behavior doesn’t determine the quantity of women you get with (i.e., being a player), it determines the type of women you get. The quantity or ease of the women you get is determined by your lack of fear or anxiety. The reason David D works, or PUA routines work, is that they give guys a false sense of security and confidence to talk to women with. The techniques are a lark. They’re training wheels. And often once guys start getting girls with them, they don’t know what to do with the girls (since they’re not attracting them with their genuine personality) or they simply wish they hadn’t gotten them in the first place (because they attract fake superficial bitches). Perhaps this would be a good topic for another post.

        These posts kind of go further into it:
        http://www.practicalpickup.com/the-three-fundamentals
        http://www.practicalpickup.com/pick-up-techniques-dont-matter

  8. Paul says:

    Wow, great post. I admire your insight.

    It’s not even so much that WHAT you wrote is the gold, as much as it is the underlying messages beneath it. Excellent, excellent post!

    • Paul says:

      And I do mean that what you wrote was also great, but the best part for me was all the underlying stuff. I think it sets a great example.

  9. Matt says:

    Yup, that pretty much hit the nail on the head.

  10. Phil says:

    I personally have inner conflictions when it comes to sex and girls. Society/feminism has definitely fucked a lot of things up.

    Of course it shouldn’t be inherently wrong to just have sex with girls. But for some reason it feels that way.

    Isn’t that way we all have one night stands anyway?

    Its only when most of us are in a club/party/bar drunk that girls will lose their slut factor and we will lose our own ideas of right or wrong.

    I think a lot of us struggle with conflicting ideas of right and wrong. What we are told by religion, society, our parents. What we are all fed as kids in romantic films and stories about the prince and the princess. And of course not all of that is wrong. But it projects that there is only one way in which things are meant to be done, and that just wanting sex for sex’s sake isnt right.

    Again personally, I dont really like having sex with a stranger or having one night stands. I guess I can see the attraction though.

    • Paul says:

      I understand you might be feeling conflicted and need to feel like you have the right knowledge. Would you be willing to give it some time to see how you feel about it?

      I say this because I became a feminist last year, and yes, also felt conflicted. However, if it’s of any relief to you, I think the issue that comes into play is not ‘wanting sex for sex’s sake’ as much as other things…for example:

      – Do you ‘take’ sex from the woman (ie: con her into sleeping with you)
      – Do you use positions of dominance and submission to get what you want from her?
      – Are you basically masturbating to a body when you have sex with her?

      I think it’s okay to have sexual desires and want to get that need met, but be up front about it and have mutuality about it. That’s it, really.

  11. Boo says:

    Very interesting article. In some ways it reminded me a lot of Robert Glover’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy”. When I read that book I kept thinking “holy shit, it’s as if this book was written for me”. How would you recommend getting over nice guy syndrome? In Glover’s book he talks about how nice guys act the way they do because they didn’t get their needs met in childhood, and as a result have learned to act passively because they fear that going after their needs is inherently bad (obviously it’s more complicated than what I just said, but in a nutshell). It seems to me that a lot of the solution is feeling a sense of entitlement/self-worth- but it also seems like there isn’t THAT clear of a roadmap to achieving that. Almost like when people say “Just be confident”. But how do you become really confident?

    • Mark says:

      It’s a bit of a catch 22 because you need to gain some confidence to go after your needs, but you need your needs met to gain more confidence. Only way I’ve found to work through it is by doing it in baby-steps. Low intensity, high volume, incremental increases. If you try to go from virgin to rock star immediately, it just doesn’t work.

  12. D says:

    Lol @ modernguy and all his moralizing ressentiment.

    “It means that women have sunk so low or become so stupid that any man who can mold himself into the key to their general biological lock can get in. It’s not about your individuality or who you are, but how well you conform to the proto-dick.”

    The “proto-dick” (lol holy shit, that’s an awesome phrase) is a more war-like, more noble, more lion-hearted man, who is and always will be desired. You do not “conform” to this standard, you ELEVATE yourself to his level, which takes skill and intelligence, and thus is the minority. To ask that women NOT desire this noble man is pure ressentiment of the strong, through and through.

    I do understand, however, what he means. He’s railing against “bad boys”, but this “proto-dick”, this noble man is something else entirely. The bad boy – while certainly a step above the decadent “Nice Guy” – is a shallow, degenerate copy of the noble man. The Nice Guy assumes that good can exist without evil, pleasure without pain, doctors without disease, compassion without ruthlessness, etc. and the bad boy makes the SAME EXACT MISTAKE, but in the opposite direction. What bad boys and their women don’t see is that the noble spirit is equal parts “good” and “bad” and in fact TRANSCENDS these things, which is why their relations are so brief. The noble man has the discipline, scrutiny, intelligence, open-mindedness and compassion of the Nice Guy, but he also has the war-like, demanding, immoral, power-seeking and pleasure-seeking spirit of the bad boy, something Mark has made very clear over the years. Thus, it should be no surprise that many women mistake the bad boy and the lion-hearted man, since they have so many things in common and since women have greater desire for that which is war-like in men than the “nice” part. Bad boys may have short term success (with mainly shallow women lol), but this higher, lion-hearted spirit is what (higher) women strive for.

  13. Lance says:

    Hey, just found this post as I was researching for my own post on the ethics of pickup, this is pretty tight. I like the simple do’s and don’t’s and thinking in terms of how you affect her isn’t really that much. Here’s mine if you want to check it out: http://honeyandlance.com/pickup-for-feminists

  14. f you had posted this 5 years ago I probably would have saved about a year and a half of my life. Nice work Mark, thanks.

  15. cody says:

    Not gunna lie some informative stuff! But to say the least specifically stating things with out really good examples doesn’t hit me right on the spot. But overall some super useful tips none the less. It gives some reinforcement in certain situation to take the game alittle farther.

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