I am not quite sure why Mark Manson decided to call this book Models as it is neither about that category of woman nor about presenting role models. The subtitle A Comprehensive Guide to Attracting Women is much more fitting though, and Models succeeds in what it sets out to do. It is an okay guidebook that offers some interesting insights to the average reader.
In the introduction, Mark states his general goal as outlining a “new masculinity,” which he understands to be “the direction to a new way of being attractive, masculine, dominant and in control of your relationships with women and your life in general.” That he couldn’t just write “masculine,” while the reader automatically thinks of the other adjectives as well is probably less a sign of the verbosity of the author than of his perception that people don’t really know what masculinity means anymore.
Obviously, I am not going to agree with every single bit in a book that outlines its subject in a whopping 370 pages, and I am talking about densely formatted ones, not the “20 page special reports” of our beloved “gurus” that contain 30 words per page at most. There is a lot of content in this book. However, how much you get out of it depends a lot on your level of experience. Mark had the great idea of adding a step-by-step guide for taking practical action as well, but it’s unfortunately hidden in the table of contents under the headline “Conclusion: Moving On.” If you are a first-time reader of Models, I thus urge you to start with this chapter first and do the reading as you gain more experience with women or work on improving your life.
I was most pleased that Models is indeed a book about picking up women in real life. It does come with quite a bit of theorizing that may or may not be true (I’ll discuss one instance in a moment), but it’s always with a view on actual interactions. I wish other authors would similarly have their focus firmly on reality instead of dreaming up bullshit. Mark gets some more brownie points by almost completely ignoring online dating. He probably shares my view that the downside compared to other options are just too negative, in addition to the sad fact that too many women on those sites look like the “before” pictures on Weight Watchers.
Models is a bit verbose at some points, but it is up to you to view this as a lack of structure or of a representation of a more colloquial style. One big benefit I see is that thanks to a plethora of examples and sometimes interesting, but other times somewhat distracting side notes, it is not a dry book and for most parts quite fun to go through it.
My biggest gripe is actually to be found in the first section of the first chapter, as Models opens with Freud’s infamous quote that even after thirty years of counseling he still doesn’t know what women want. I love to pick this quote apart whenever someone utters it in my presence, and my arrogant standard response is that Freud obviously spent too much time listening to women and too little fucking them. Given Mark’s wide-ranging introduction, I was thus a little surprised to see him write that ”there’s still no clear-cut definition or model of what drives female attraction yet”, and that “male attraction is pretty straight-forward.” But just as most guys like skinny chicks with perky boobs and firm asses, so do women want tall, muscular, handsome men. They also love money, and if you’ve got plenty, it wouldn’t even matter if you looked like Quasimodo. This is one of a few instances that show Mark being a tad too “grounded” in traditional pickup mythology, despite offering plenty of realistic advice otherwise.
Frankly, I am quite sick of reading about the alleged simple-mindedness of us men, even more so if male authors hint at it. Feminists love to state how plain our emotional lives are, but, frankly, the average man is a much more complex creature than the average woman, just by looking at the things we are interested in. The curiosity of women usually doesn’t extend beyond mere gossip, while the gossip men are interested in is called science or politics, and that’s a big difference. Or consider areas like comedy and fiction. I literally don’t know a single female comedian that made me laugh, and the most acclaimed female writers can’t hold a candle to their male counterparts either. If women have such complex inner lives, and are gifted with a special sense of perception, they sure have a hard time expressing it. Really, the last thing we need is other men adopting the feminist view of the alleged superiority of the female species.
Mark claims that women are very adept at decoding the most minute status signals, but if this is the case, then why does height override literally any other criteria? What women want is really obvious. As I said before, they are attracted to good-looking guys, and it would be awesome if they had money, too. A hot guy is attractive to a wide range of women, the same a hot girl is appealing to many men. Mark’s counterexample is that he was once in a club and one bitch called him a creep. Yet, one hour later he found one that was into him, which makes him conclude that female attraction is whimsical. After all, those were allegedly similar girls, but they gave him opposite responses. But what about the possibility that either the girls weren’t that similar (if you honestly think that there are ever two people that “look exactly the same”, then please go shoot yourself), or the other just didn’t feel like hooking up. Men sometimes feel like that, too, you know.
After this relatively rough start, though, I began to thoroughly enjoy the book and can state without reservation that there is a lot of good information in it. In fact, it’s often too much to digest, and if you followed every little bit of advice he gives, it would probably take you years to implement. For this reason, I would have liked summaries after chapters or possibly margin notes.
Some passages could have been presented in a more concise manner, however. For instance, it shouldn’t take fifteen pages to explain the difference between women who react disinterested, neutral or interested. Then again, if you live in some wonderful pickup la-la land and run the “Who lies more?” routine on every woman that is unfortunate enough to be spotted by you, you might need an author that keeps hammering a point over and over. Chances are that if you aren’t getting anywhere with girls, you just can’t read the writings on the wall. If this is you, then Models is definitely a great book for you.
In some areas Models really shines. I was most impressed with Mark’s description of humor and the basic examples he gives. Obviously, his outline will not quite suffice to get you a gig on Saturday Night Live, but it will certainly help you out if you have difficulties spicing up your conversations. The material really is powerful. I wouldn’t be surprised if after digesting that section, you could already give Tucker Max a run for his money. Of course, we are talking about typical US-American in-your-face humor, but you will find that in general people are infinitely more susceptible to that kind than, say, dry British humor. This is probably true even in Great Britain.
There is also a great amount of “inner game” spread in the book as well. One insight that should help a lot of men who have a hard time coping with their lack of success with women is that, “rejection exists for a reason — it’s a means to keep people who are not good for each other apart.” This is a somewhat tautological explanation, but it’s better to just accept it than to look for explanations, which is one of the biggest issue of the mainstream pickup industry, namely that with the right technique you could get any girl. Consequently, for them there is always a reason if you didn’t get a particular girl, and it’s something that can be fixed if you just by some other inane product. Thus, I am glad that Mark does not only offer good pickup advice, but also, sometimes subtly, but at other times in a rather confrontational manner, attacks the mainstream seduction industry for their often implausible teachings.
Another strong point is the psychological perspective on the dating and mating process. You probably didn’t see this coming, in light of my opening remark on Freud, did you? There are many discussions of common thought processes, the most striking one being about a guy who talks himself out of approaching a girl he finds attractive but considers “trashy,” even though he knows nothing about her yet. To some extent, we are all guilty of prejudices. Yet, especially men who lack success with women tend to project a negative image on women. Of course, if you think they are all “sluts” for wanting to have sex, and your ideal partner is Virgin Mary, then you shouldn’t be surprised of your lack of experience. If you feel that you are your worst enemy in this regard, you may find some solutions.
While I agree with most of the content, some parts of the process of getting better with women are somewhat glamorized. I cringed when I read, “Show me a guy, any guy, who is good with women, and I’ll show you a guy who has been shut down and rejected by more women than you can possibly fathom.” Well, I can show you some guys who are extremely good with women, and always were, and they have in common that they are good-looking, tall, and work out. The idea that "game" is a skill that you gradually improve is highly questionable to begin with as your level of success depends on obvious factors. Yes, I know that Tom Cruise is short, but I also know that he is world-famous, good-looking and has a net worth of a few hundred million dollars. So, what was your argument again, Neil Strauss?
Overall, Models does provide you with the necessary information about picking up girls. Yet, I do think that Mark overshoots his goal significantly and makes the process sound more complicated than it is. But don’t get me wrong here: he gives you an overload of relevant information, but some of it is just barely relevant. If you work with this book, it would be like using a TI-89 calculator for basic arithmetic. Yes, it gets the job done, but you could do the same faster with the in-built calculator of a ten year old cell phone. On the other hand, many other pickup books only confuse you with for the most part completely irrelevant advice. Extending the previous example, they hand you a brush and a palette of aquarelle colors instead of a calculator, so bad are they at doing their job. Gladly, Models does not belong to that category, and being over-equipped is certainly preferable to having a completely useless set of tools. However, it's hardly a situation you would want yourself to be in either. Therefore, I can't really recommend Models as the downsides are impossible to overlook. I'll give it a 6/10, and you probably know how you'd react towards a "6" in a club or a bar. Exactly, you'd just move on.
Models is available on Amazon.com as a paperback or an ebook for Kindle.