Progress takes many shapes and forms. Progress isn’t always linear. Sometimes it twists, spirals and goes back on itself. Progress can make jumps and progress can stop completely. Sometimes it’s elongated and slow to the point of barely being noticeable. Other times it rushes ahead leaving you exhilarated, barely able to catch up.
In picking up women, even more so than most processes, progress isn’t always clear. Because there’s such a large element of randomness and lack of control, it’s hard to know whether your results are increasing, decreasing or stagnating at any given time. Everyone’s process is different. Below are eight of the ways in which most guys develop (or don’t develop). My guess is that you’ll see your path in at least a few of them:
1. The Breakthrough – The breakthrough is the mind-melting epiphany. These are rare but often paradigm-changing events. Chances are you’ve only had one or two of them in the context of improving with women. I’ve only had a few. One was the first time I read The Game. Just the idea that you could walk up to any hot girl on the street and hit on her and have it actually work absolutely floored me. It opened the doors to everything. Another breakthrough was when I had a girl tell me, right as she was about to reject me, that I was already attractive and that I should just act normal next time. That one changed the entire philosophy and the course of my progress to this day.
Often you don’t realize how significant these moments are until well after they’ve passed. It’s impossible to know how significant they are as they’re happening. But they’re moments you will never forget. I have a few more, but I won’t bore you with them. They’re the moments you can look back on and say, “That’s when it changed. That’s what caused it to change.”
Breakthroughs are often first major experiences as well. Your first one night stand. Your first girlfriend. Your first date. Your first kiss. Obviously, these are landmark achievements for any guy focusing on this stuff. The experiences themselves aren’t always as educational as they are momentous… the occasions that define your life.
2. The Uphill Battle – The Uphill Battle is the long slog. It’s the fight that you know you’re winning, but it’s slow and it’s painful. The Uphill Battle is the opposite of the Breakthrough. It’s the slow, yet constant progress each and every week toward some goal. This month you got three phones numbers. Next month you get five phone numbers. Next month you get five and a date, but the date doesn’t go anywhere. The next month you get six numbers and a make out. The next month you get five numbers and a date, but it doesn’t go anywhere again. Finally, you get a make out on the date, but she refuses to come home with you.
Looking back over the six months, there’s been slow and gradual improvement, but still a frustrating lack of success. Some guys live the Uphill Battle in everything they do. Some people just have long learning curves and need a lot of repetition to get something under control. Other guys who fight the long uphill battle usually fight it because they’re focusing on a lot of unimportant factors rather than the important ones, so their results only improve modestly. For instance, guys who obsess over openers and DHV stories will probably fight the uphill battle. For as they fret away on the surface of their interactions, the dominance and non-neediness needed to actually build attraction and a connection with women is only indirectly worked on.
3. Unconscious Improvement – Unconscious Improvement occurs when you are improving but don’t feel it. It feels like you’re doing and accomplishing the exact same thing week-in, week-out. Yet often, months later when you look back, you’ll realize that you’ve actually come quite far. Unconscious Improvement often goes hand-in-hand with the Uphill Battle. Mostly because people who are unconsciously improving are not focusing on specific goals or trying to meet them. If you just go out kind of blindly, drink a lot, talk to a bunch of people, and see what happens, you might as well be learning to play poker without looking at your cards.
The trick of turning unconscious improvement to conscious improvement is just that: become conscious about what you’re working on. This week I’m going to work on getting over my nervousness while talking to women. Once you get that, then you focus on teasing and having fun. Once you get that, then you focus on touching and being physical. Always one thing at a time.
4. The Delayed Lessons – The Delayed Lesson is when something happens to you, but you don’t realize the significance of it until much, much later. The Delayed Lesson is the worst as a coach, as I’ve often given guys some of the most blunt and honest advice I possibly could, only to have them email me eight months later saying they recently discovered the exact same thing.
But sometimes we aren’t always ready to hear what we need to hear most. Sometimes, like a seed planted in the ground, it must be given time to sprout and take root. I look back at my development and see it’s riddled with Delayed Lessons all over the place. On the one hand it’s frustrating that I couldn’t have realized these things sooner. But on the other, it’s better late than never.
5. The Placebo Effect – The Placebo Effect shouldn’t need to be defined. The PUA community is rife with placebo effects. Routines, lines and techniques are rarely anything more than placebo effects. They give guys the false sense of confidence necessary to hit on women without being needy or passive.
Placebo Effects also come in the form of beliefs. Even though many Placebo Effects bring some results in the short-term, in the long-term they’re usually unhealthy or harmful. For instance, fake alpha male beliefs, beliefs that every woman will instantly and uncontrollably fuck a man who exhibits X, Y and Z traits, the idea that sex is the highest purpose of one’s life, the idea that your worth is defined by your social status — these are all false beliefs that although they can help men in the short-run, they’re often harmful in the long-run.
6. The Plateau – The Plateau rears its ugly head for all of us at some point or another. You go out over and over and over again, but nothing seems to change. The Plateau is a short-term stoppage of development. Often it’s hard to know if you’re on a Plateau or in the midst of Unconscious Improvement. But typically the Plateau is broken eventually with a Breakthrough, whereas Unconscious Improvement is not, Unconscious Improvement is an Uphill Battle in disguise.
Plateau’s are rough because typically you know what you could be doing better, it just doesn’t happen for whatever reason. Plateau’s tend to be more common with more experienced guys who have been pursuing this stuff or a year or two. Also, generally, the more frustrated you become with the Plateau, the longer it’s likely to last. Often taking a break is the best way to resolve it.
7. Sidetracked – People who get Sidetracked end up focusing on improving something that’s not directly benefiting their results. The most common type of Sidetrack I see is men who focus on approaching more and more women instead of focusing on getting physical and sexual with the women they’ve already approached. You see it all the time. They approach. They hook. They get her attracted. Then instead of pushing things further, they take her number or just eject, wanting to approach other girls.
8. Stagnation – Stagnation is the worst. Stagnation is the long-term version of the Plateau. It usually happens when a guy hasn’t improved in years despite consistently trying. It occurs when a guy has a number of major (usually internal) flaws and issues that more or less put a ceiling on his development indefinitely until he gets them handled. The most common here is guys with poor beliefs and a lot of emotional baggage. As long as they’re angry and self-loathing, they’ll never experience any success, yet they push on anyway. The sad part is that these guys will often push through meeting 100’s or even 1000’s of women denying they have any sort of internal issues, and when they come up with nothing, it just further reinforces their negative beliefs and baggage.
Unhealthy and unattractive lifestyles also cause a lot of stagnation. If you’re broke, unemployed, unhealthy, and have nothing interesting to talk about, then no amount of techniques or experience is going to help you attract women.
The remedy to stagnation is to take a break, confront your demons, fix up your life, become happy living for yourself, by yourself and then start again down the road. Of course, most guys stuck in Stagnation don’t want to hear this; they want the quick fix. But the truth is often painful: if you’ve been working for years on yourself and have seen no noticeable improvement, then you should probably stop and sort out some of your emotional or life issues.