The label “seduction science” is tossed around pretty liberally in the dating and PUA industries and it makes me cringe a little bit every time I see it. There’s little to no science behind what gets passed off as such in them. In fact, by its very definition, seduction is a subjective activity (or inter-subjective activity if you want to get fancy) and therefore it’s impossible to control for any single variable and impossible to make any sort of significant objective measurements.

Every woman is unique and therefore it’s impossible to run a controlled experiment. Not to mention every GUY is unique as well. For instance, demonstrating your propensity to crush beer cans on your head may make you very attractive if you’re 19-years-old and throw your own fraternity parties. But it will not if you are a 45-year-old father of three and are attending an art gallery opening.

Seduction is an emotional process, not a logical or physical one. Logic and physical contact are the side-effects, not the process itself. An emotional process cannot be measured, quantified or controlled. This is why a certain line may work really well for me but not you. It’s also why a certain line may work very well on a girl on Friday night but bomb horribly with the same girl on Saturday night.

Now, the funny thing is that a lot of what is passed off as “seduction science” actually DOES work fairly consistently. Or at least it improves a guy’s results in the short-term. So there has to be something to it, right?

My belief is that most of the “seduction science” techniques are logical placebos for creating emotional realities. For instance, a guy is scared to death to approach women. He reads a book telling him that if he uses X opening line (i.e., “Who lies more”) then he can approach and talk to any woman he wants to. He goes out, and sure enough, every woman he approaches with that line talks to him. So he becomes convinced that it’s the line that’s working, not him.

But the line is a placebo. Successful approaching has almost nothing to do with what is said, but with how non-needy the guy approaching is. In this case, whereas the guy was terrified to approach before, being given the line and told that it will open any woman effectively gives him the false confidence to actually start a conversation well. With that same confidence, he could successfully approach with anything.

The seduction industry is rife with advice like this. And I don’t think it’s intentional. For the most part, I think most coaches and teachers out there are well-intentioned and believe in what they teach. The reason is because when guys have problems with women, even though the problems have an emotional source, they’re experienced and interpreted in logical ways. Therefore, they’re apt to come up with logical solutions.

For instance, being afraid of rejection and approaching isn’t interpreted simply having fear and anxiety, but logically as: “I don’t know what to say,” or “I need a strategy for dealing with three girls together at a table.” Guys then look up and research lines or strategies for these situations which give them the false confidence to make the approaches, when really all the guy needed was the confidence to begin with.

Being unable to connect with women emotionally quickly is experienced externally as flakes, cockblocks, tests, etc. And instead of addressing the underlying emotional issue, guys look for logical solutions to the symptoms of the actual problem. These logical solutions allow them to treat the symptoms and buy themselves more time to build emotional connections, when if they built those connections to begin with, they wouldn’t have to bother will all of the nonsense.

A sense of inadequacy and poor self-image is experienced externally as saying too much and trying too hard to impress women. Often this comes along with a constant need to tease, to “neg”, or even insult each girl the guy is talking to. No matter how attracted she is, he’s not satisfied with it, and so he looks for logical solutions in new attraction strategies.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the placebos work… in the short-term. But after enough time, they over-complicate things and don’t provide permanent change. Approaching seduction logically means making it difficult and cumbersome. The way to make seduction easy and enjoyable is by addressing the underlying emotional issues. I’ll say this: in my six years doing this, my biggest breakthroughs and epiphanies have never involved realizing something I needed to do that I didn’t already do, but they always involved realizing I *DIDN’T* have to do things that I always thought I did. For instance:

  • Realizing that I don’t need a reason to approach a woman, that they’re perfectly happy to talk to me as long as I present myself well.
  • Realizing that chasing women through phone/texts or playing games is pointless — either they like you or they don’t, and there’s little you’re going to do to change that.
  • Realizing that rejection is doing me a favor and that there’s no reason to alter my intentions to avoid it.
  • Realizing that I don’t have to prove my value or worth to anybody, that if I believe in my own value and worth, that will come across in everything I do one way or another.

In each case, these breakthroughs FREED me from having to learn, practice and memorize tactics and techniques. They make things simpler, not more complicated. Pick up placebos have helped many guys, myself included. But after that initial bump in results, they become a long-term hindrance. And removing them and accepting the emotional realities of seduction head on is the next step to taking your results from modest to excellent. Not to mention enjoying the process, enjoying your time with the women you meet and thinking less about this stuff than ever before.

These are what I would consider the main categories of placebos in the pick up industry:

  1. Openers and routines. Placebos that fulfill men’s with beliefs that what they already have to say isn’t good enough or that they have to do something to impress women. Also good for men who are not very socially adept and acts as “training wheels” for many of them to learn what speaking in an attractive manner feels like (key word: feels).
  2. Being “Alpha.” A placebo that helps men become less needy. By teaching men that they should focus on themselves first, obsess about being “high value” and imposing their own will on others, it helps them to be less emotionally needy around women. The concept of the “alpha” itself is quite nebulous and arbitrary.
  3. Emotional State. A placebo that helps a guy not worry about rejection and become more motivated and excited (which makes communicating attractively easier). The state itself though is not attractive, it simply makes behaving in an attractive way more likely. There are plenty of guys who get into great state who still behave like idiots and are not attractive. There are also plenty of guys who can be in a horrible state and behave in an attractive manner.
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17 Responses to Pick Up Placebos

  1. Dr Feelgood says:

    “My belief is that most of the “seduction science” techniques are logical placebos for creating emotional realities.” —> Awesome phrase, this is the real shit, and expressed so well! You are, hands down, one of the best writers in the community.

    Some little lines and training wheels go a long way though and are really valuable in the beginning.

  2. Robinson says:

    I don’t read about this type of stuff often (anymore). But when I do, I always read this site. I’m out of the loop so I could be wrong but I think you’re the only one that really has the right take on attracting women.

  3. Paul says:

    Just curious…

    What research from the field did you cite in the book?

    Are they actual scientific studies or just articles or theories (eg: cognitive dissonance) written by psychologists in the field and you applied it to seduction?

    • Mark says:

      I actually didn’t do citations and footnotes in the book. I thought about it, but I didn’t want to turn it into an academic project. Wanted to keep it streamlined and to the point, getting straight to the practical applications. But if I ever pursue mainstream publisher, I’ll go back and do it properly. In fact, I’ll probably be doing a second edition within the next year where the research is a little more robust and cited.

      But I mainly used the research of David Buss and his surveys, and the research on attraction by Meredith Chivers and Marta Meana.

      Then of course there are the general references to evolutionary psych as well as a handful of quotes from Robert Glover (“No more Mr. Nice Guy”)

  4. Paul M says:

    This article really resonated, great job. It is man’s nature to make everything ultra logical and engineer every step. I suppose that is what makes us try and over-think the process.

  5. Leo says:

    Even though I liked the article and agree with a lot of what you said I still can feel the message: it is YOUR fault if you don’t hook up with the girl. How about those cases where the girl has been betrayed? She’s scared shitless to start a new relationship or she just doesn’t trust any man? Girls too have a lot of responsability in the outcome of the interaction. It is IMPOSSIBLE to emotionally connect with a girl that is not willing to open up or take the “risk” to start a new relationship. Unless the way to communicate emotionally with her is being aware of her fears and deal with them. But I’m not sure if it is worth the effort, depending of how scared the girl is, sometimes it’s almost impossible. Just my 2 cents.

    • Mark says:

      Absolutely. You control very little of each interaction. But in that case it’s your responsibility to go find another girl who is willing to open up to you.

  6. Gill says:

    Yes, the “overthink” process is probably the only things that’s keeping every guy out from the “reality”. The need to understand and submit their thoughts instead of experimenting it. Which leads to being “geeks” of seduction.

  7. Tony D says:

    Hi Mark. Another long, and well thought out post. Im always sitting on the fence wondering whether or not to write about new guy placebo type stuff like push-pull, cat-string, cold reading and all that old community type stuff. I do think for new guys it’s good to have a grasp on certain psychological triggers. On the other hand it’s maybe better to just provide fundamentals and encouragement.

    I’m like you. I learned the oldschool way, and then realized how fucked up it all is. But you know, a good neg still elicits a certain reaction. The question is, did you really need to knock her down?

  8. hilanoga says:

    I honestly think this is your best article I’ve read thus far.

  9. António says:

    You are absolutely correct.
    Yet, the doctor doesn’t prescribe a sugar pill and tell the patient “this will do you as good as the expensive medicine that tastes bad and gives you awful nausea, and costs 10x. You take the sugar and it will work just as well…

  10. Chris says:

    Is a physical version of your book in the works? I don’t have a kindle or anything so I’m not big on ebooks.

    • Mark says:

      Yep… just approved the proof copy. Should be on Amazon within a week. Kindle is already available. Will make an announcement on here when it’s ready.

  11. Mark says:

    For the record, this is one of the few articles I’ve written that I think did not get the attention it deserved.

    • CPG says:

      I agree…I randomly stumbled across this article following a hyperlink trail from a recent post, and this one really resonated. It’d especially help guys who are new to this to hear about the placebo traps of sweating over openers and routines, and chasing girls on the phone.

      I’d have saved myself tons of unnecessary stress, not to mention had more fun with this whole crazy process, if I had figured those out in the beginning and avoided all the bad advice out there encouraging you to look up more strategies to keep chasing and trying even when it makes no sense.

  12. Geert says:

    Or we can all just realize that game simply doesn’t exist…..

    The only thing that matters is that she likes you. Period.

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