Saturday, December 17, 2011

Review: Models by Mark Manson

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 as a paperback or an ebook for Kindle.


  1. Sleazy, have you read Roosh V's Day Bang?
    You're a good critic, interested in your review.

  2. Did you really praise Tucker Max, that lying douchebag? Haha, you're such a fail.

  3. Steve,

    I haven't read any of Roosh's books. My review pipeline is still full as there are two more "products" I want to take a closer look at. I'd potentially be interested in reviewing his books, so feel free to ask him to send a copy to me. ;) (The pickup products I review are sent by their authors.)


    saying that you could give Tucker Max a run for his money after reading a couple of pages on humor does not mean that I praise that guy. The Romans had a fitting saying for that, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses."

  4. This bit about women being super perceptive, and that they have some super natural power to see through your bullshit or that they can magically detect when there is some "incongruency" in your personality is such bull shit.

    To me this just means that a girl has been in a very large number of social situations. An average attractive girl starts getting hit on in varying amounts by guys when she is probably 12-13 years old. By the time she is 19-20 years old, she has probably been in hundreds, if not thousands, of interactions with a sexual undertone. Combine this with the fact women in general are more social creatures, and like going out much more, an average guy can't match that experience.

    This does not make them people with super natural perception abilities. As a guy who was clueless when starting out, my social perceptiveness has gone up substantially after being exposed to PUA and going out more. I am sure if anyone went out crazy amount, they too would become super perceptive.

  5. "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..."

    You are wrong, because the women prefer a lot of characteristics regarding a man, make that man to be more complex, to develop himself, etc...That's why men invented all the thing on this planet, compose most of songs, writes the most valuable poems, novels et... On the other hand, because men prefer only physical appeareance, a woman will develop only in that way... so it's a problem of atractiveness of the opposite sex, not the complexity of a creature. In fact, that thing highlights that a man is a more complex creature than a woman. So, with the help from women, men become better then them!

  6. @ johnny

    It's not about just "going out" or who's been out more, it's about the female perspective. Women are simply more observant than men, and being how since childhood they've been groomed to understand that they have something which all men want, and will do and say anything to try and get, and that giving it up under the wrong conditions or to the wrong man or to even be seen as associating with the wrong man can be detrimental to her reputation and her livelihood as a woman, and that the basis of her worth as a woman is the level of effectiveness of the men/man she attracts / locks down, they're perceptive as fuck.

    In essence, they *do* have a natural super-power of perceptiveness. That doesn't mean you can't develop the same thing as well though, completely separating you from the average guy. This is when you can seduce a woman swiftly and without language, while seemingly talking about completely irrelevant and mundane shit the whole time.

  7. @Anonymous: so, basically each sex develops towards the expectations of the other sex. And this disproves Aaron's point how?

  8. I too would be interested in a review of roosh's material.
    Also your thought's on Roissy/Heartiste and his game would likely be interesting.

  9. Anonymous (I),
    I'll respond to your statement in a separate blog post. If you are a man, then your reasoning abilities are severely underdeveloped, by the way.

    that women are more observant than men may be true in the social sphere, but that's simply because men usually have more important things to do with their life than to sit around and gossip all afternoon long, day after day. On the other hand, women don't really rely on logic but instead on some combination of wishful thinking, superstition and preconceived notions to arrive at their conclusions. Thus, their "perception" is hardly as developed as you may think. You only think it is because you can't be as illogical in your judgment as the average woman.

    Anonymous (II),
    I am not overly familiar with Roissy/Heatiste, but isn't he a strong advocate of indirect game?

    1. Too bad the book is not reasonably priced. I am just shopping on Amazon and found this when looking at your books Aaron both of which I will definitely now buy. I would've gladly bought this one also but I am not paying over 20 dollars for a book especially coming from a topic that has become quite fradulent as we have seen recently. Nor do I think anyone else should either.

      Another good rule, if it's not on Amazon, don't buy it. At least that gives it a LITTLE credibility. Although even that is a bit questionable these days...

    2. Hey man,

      thanks for buying my books! Please let me know how you like them.

      I agree that Mark's book is on the expensive side. It's too bad that greed overcomes so many people in this scene. But the days were people were charging $80 for a badly produced ebook are thankfully a thing of the past. Nowadays it's just $69. ;)

      Yes, it's good when a book is available on, because then you'll at least be protected by fraudulent charges to your credit card, forced continuity, or ridiculous shipping costs. For instance, RSD had released some paperbacks a year or two ago, and they sold them for something like $40 plus $60 dollars shipping, and that was the standard domestic rate! Some people have no honor or dignity.

    3. + it's always cool to read the amazon reviews which draw from a more general crowd than the one sided testimonies you would find on e.g. the RSD testimonials page. Although I wouldn't even read that shit if it was free...

      People are really fucking stupid sometimes and especially so when they are overtly desperate to get laid or thinking only about outcome. It's like robbing an old lady.

      The one-click Kindle book shopping on Amazon is dangerously easy, haha. Nobody should be charging or paying over 15 dollars for a book.

      I got:
      * Sleazy Stories
      * Minimal Game
      * Freedom Twenty Five
      * Non-Violent Communication
      * Delusion Damage
      * The Surprising Purpose Of Anger
      * The End of Social Anxiety

      I would've gladly got Mark's book (as it was often suggested with the above) but a man's gotta stick to his principles.

      Aaron, I'll let you know what I think when I've finished both of your books.

    4. You went on quite a shopping spree! Please also let me know how you like Delusion Damage. That guy has a few rather interesting posts on his blogs.

  10. Yeah well, I just got a Kindle and wanted to get some books on it. I'm an avid reader anyway so I devour books like people suck air.

    Your books were interesting. I think they are important. Especially "minimal game" since it pretty much says that there isn't really anything called Game. Of course most people will likely read it and be disappointed that there was no "structure" or techniques per se. That's missing the whole point. Good work.

    Freedom Twenty Five was also good and it's nice to see there are like minded people out there. I just wouldn't go that crazy about his dietary advice. The Paleo diet is good if you can do it. But the whole concept that there was some dietary golden age is nonsense. Here's a good blog to really shed some good light on these matters for those interested:

    I like to think of myself as a meat eating vegan =D

    End of Social Anxiety is a short book that delivers a message that I think can only be understood fully once someone has experienced the kind of transformation that the author has. I've been on this for many years now. It's taken me a lot of convincing and personal experience to really "get" what meditation is and why we should do it. This is a book I will read again and again in the future.

    Just started reading Delusion Damage this morning and I must say, it is fascinating.

    1. Thanks for the feedback!

      I have become critical of Paleo as well, and will soon cover this topic in an article.

      I'll keep Delusion Damage on my list, but first I have to make some progress with all the other books.

  11. Felt I wanted to add something about Delusion Damage. I read it and realized it's actually not very fascinating. It's a book that tries to be about everything but is really about nothing. The first few chapters are okay but then it gets to the "game" stuff which most of the rest of the book is about. And not the good kind of game Aaron. The bullshit kind. I got so tired of most of the ramblings that I ended up skimming through the last 40 pages.

    Waste of time. And since it's on my Kindle, I can't even wipe my ass with it.

    Oddly enough, it seems to not be even available to buy anymore. What a coincidence. I guess I won't be submitting my 2 star review to amazon now.

    1. That's too bad. Was this book a collection of his blog posts or an original piece of work.

      Also, even though you can't leave a two star review for Delusion Damage, please consider writing reviews for Minimal Game and Sleazy Stories. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!

  12. I've read both books and though I prefer Models, both are insightful and grounded in reality. I'm surprised Aaron believes being tall, muscular and good looking are the most important factors in female attraction. I agree they're important but the number one factor, bar none, is confidence. The "it" factor in game is: drive + an easygoing attitude towards sex + detachment from outcome. The average looking man with more of these qualities will trump the good looking guy or the rich guy or the tall guy because ultimately women are attracted to a man's consciousness. Take an invalid who looks like Brad Pitt and a fat guy with a normal brain, and the girl will pick the fat guy. A fuckin' GUY would pick the fat girl (though I have my doubts). Man does not reign supreme on Earth because of his height or brawn but because of his brain. Now if you have two confident men, yes, the average woman will choose the taller, better looking one but even then, not always.

    What I also loved about Models was Marc's explanation about the dark root causes of why guys get into pick up in the first place. I disagree that this chapter is gratuitous. There is no game without inner game and many men, myself included, need to take a long hard look at why they want to fuck so many women in the first place. I'm sorry but it's a little more complicated than "because women are beautiful and I have a dick". Not only is it one of the most important chapters in the book, it's something no one else has talked about and it sets the stage for the rest of the book.

    1. So, Anonymous, you think a fat, short, unpopular, and lanky dude will get the hottest girls just because he is "confident". Give me a break.

      "The average looking man with more of these qualities will trump the good looking guy or the rich guy or the tall guy because ultimately women are attracted to a man's consciousness."

      You live in a fantasy world.

      By the way, why do you assume Brad Pitt is stupid? You don't even know him.

    2. Being in the "community" for several years and taking a couple of years off from work to study and apply what I learned in addition to being a broad shoulder, muscular, 220 pounder with 17 inch arms I can say that confidence itself is only one aspect of the total package. Alone or combined with only a few other aspects will not help a "fat, short, unpopular, and lanky dude" as Sleazy says.

      I know men who live in penthouse suites in NY City, earn 6 figure incomes, and have been in game for well over 5 years but lack the physical parameters Sleazy refers to and have NO women in their life.

      On the other hand I've seen short, good looking guys score well with hot women. Combine good looks and height and you're more than half way there.

      There's a reason why evolution weeds out the "unfit". Good looking people mate with other good looking people which both have superior genes.

      Yes it sucks for the rest of us but life is nothing more than a game of chance and rolling dice. Sure you can "try" to influence it but the hand your dealt is the one your dealing with.

      Arron - I find it amazing that you read all the books and material you review. You must have the collective knowledge of every dating coach and pick up artist in the world, lol.

    3. Did I write "... and lanky"? It should have been an "or".

      Thanks for the feedback! Needless to say, I don't hold those PUA charlatans who lie to their audience in particularly high regard. On the other hand, it's also sad that there are guys who just don't think critically at all. I heard a suitable statement about that some time ago, even though it was said in a different context. Paraphrased, it was something like: "When nature doesn't confirm your hypotheses, it's better to revise or drop your hypothesis instead of hoping that nature will change its mind." In PUA land, though, people believe in some kind of alternative reality.

    4. Woman are attracted to tall, good looking, rich etc.. that is completely wrong for anyone who actually succeeds in getting a lot of women.

      It can be true in college or for stereotypical americans, brainwashed by the media but as sophisticated, exposed, mature adult, its is very disappointing and sad to actually believe thats what women want. It is so far from the truth.

      Aaron, I actually think you are only a critic and very book knowledgeable about so called pick up.. maybe you should travel more and interact with different cultures which are less influenced by media and more in touch true attraction. Anyways, you need to interact more with women of high intelligence cause today its not about being tall its about emotional intelligence.. Being short can be a problem though if it comes with confidence issues..

      And then women don't like muscled guy, it screams out insecurity.. likewise men who spend time in front of the mirror..

      You really have it all wrong when it comes to what women want..

  13. I am curious Aaron, if you don't recommend this, what you book or resources do you recommend besides your own?

    1. I mention a couple on my forum. For instance, I was pretty impressed by Paul Janka's Getting Laid in NYC (apart from the last part where he recommends getting girls drunk). Also, Gunwitch wrote some pretty good stuff. Recently, a reader of the blog told me about Bishop and posted a few quotes. I haven't gotten hold of Bishop's book yet, but the excerpts did look pretty promising.

    2. Haha, Aaron you had me until you said Gunwitch and Paul Janka. Gawker clowned the sh*t out of Janka and pretty much made him sound like a stalker and rapist. And "make the ho say no" Gun shot a girl in the face.

      That's the problem with a lot of pickup and seduction artists that I feel Manson attempts to address. These guys have deep emotional problems. Not only that, but while the models these guys come up with may have short term success, they don't stand the test of time. Few guys want to be 75 years old running game in a nightclub or supermarket line. The ideal is to be married telling stories to your grandkids. The problem with too many pickup models is that they lose sight of the long game and develop models that end up hurting guys when they have to deal with the reality of marriage and decade long relationships. Or they just end up shooting women in the face like the author Gunwich. Google "Butchering the Alpha Male," by Mark Manson to see a well-written post on why 99% of pickup is damaging in the long term.

      Manson seems to be the first to take a good stab at an inward out approach toward dating. Not only that, the guy's blog is gold. You can put on the different bainaid solutions that Janka and Gunwich offer, but if you're inner game isn't solid, you're likely to fall short.

      I'm still laughing that you left out a major piece of information about Gun. "Gunwich wrote some pretty good stuff....ah before he shot some girl in face." Hahaha! However to be fair, if you're inner game is in line, he has some useful tactics on vibing and nonverbal sexual escalation. I'd rather stick with someone who doesn't shoot people in the face though...say the early material from 60 Years of Challenge.

    3. Gawker, Kotaku, Jezebel and all the other blogs in that vein do sensationalist reporting for the purpose of increasing their click count. I know the Janka article you are referring to. It was pretty shady journalism. Their aim was to make him look like a stalker or rapist. Too bad you didn't reflect critically on it.

      I've written about Gunwitch before, and you could easily have found this with a quick search. There is good information in the free book he published. His criminal behavior is a whole 'nother story. But, hey, maybe send off an application to Gawker. I'm sure they could use a guy like you.

      I'm not sure I get why you're promoting Mark Manson. I can't remember anything on marriage and decade-long relationships in his book.

    4. I've read all three authors...and more than their free material. I've also read a dozen other authors including yours (which I enjoyed).

      My point was you can give a crazy, insecure, mommy issues, 20 something year old dude both Gun and Janka's books and in the long run, they'll fail in the relationship department. You can give that some person Manson's book and if they take to heart the inner game theory, they'll be better off in the long run than the guy using Gun and Janka's books. In addition, he'll be able to use Janka's day game numbers approach style of game and Gun's sexual vibe strategy much more efficiently. However it still comes down to the fact that when you're 50, the woman you wake up next to doesn't give a f*ck about how well you kino escalate or how well your triangle gazing creates sexual tension. She will give a f*ck about your integrity, sense of purpose and your ability to be comfortable with the person you've become. Models does a better job addressing this fact of life than any other PUA book I've come across.

    5. So, how is a PUA in his late 20s who seemingly has never had a long-term relationship going to give advice to the guy you describe? You're only conjecturing, my friend. It's 2004 all over again. Back then you had virgins or guys with very little sexual experience trying to tell other men how to get laid, and today you've got "lifestyle coaches" talking about financial success, when all they did was talking about financial success (cf. Tony Robbins, the Rich-Dad-Poor-Dad guy, or all those shady internet marketers), and rebranded pickup gurus who now babble about "honesty" and whatnot. Let me tell you a secret: banging a handful attractive women will do more for your confidence and feeling of self-worth, particularly if you feel bad about your lack of success with women, than reading any kind of mental masturbation about your "sense of purpose".

  14. Paul Janka has got abit of a advantage over most men though as he is tall and good looking. Although I don't believe looks are the be all and end all of meeting females (I have two equally good looking male friends who one does very well and the other ordinary with females) it is half the battle. Therefor Paul Janka is already half way there to seal the deal - all he has to do is play a mediocre game and he gets the chick. Whereas a ordinary guy needs to work allot harder to get the same results.


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