Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to Deal with Men Who Have Bad "Game"

I received the e-mail below from a reader recently, and thought it would be interesting to other readers as well. I've polished my response slightly, but otherwise the exchange is unchanged.

Dear Andrew,

First of all, I love the blog, I have nothing but the highest praises for your writing. :)

I have a question for you, which I think many female readers will sympathize...As I'm sure you already know, a lot of attention is being paid to the kind of game a guy needs to get the girls he wants. A lot of this focuses on teaching guys to demonstrate cockiness/confidence and not supplicating to a girl he likes. While I definitely understand the motivation behind this, I feel like these ideas are starting to get kind of over-saturated in the dating world. Now, when I go out, it seems like most guys think that making fun of you is the course. However, I think a lot of guys aren't really sure where the line is between playful teasing and overly sarcastic comments. Case in point, the other night I was at a birthday party and was talking to a guy who approached me. I asked him at one point how he knew the birthday boy, which I thought was a casual question, to which his response was "I didn't realize this was an interview, do you want my social security number next?" It's possible that I was being too confrontational when I asked, but I don't think so, and his comment kind of sucked away the fun, light vibe of the conversation. He kept going with similar comments, and eventually the conversation petered out a bit awkwardly.

My question for you is, how do you think a girl should respond in those types of situations where a guy might unknowingly be going too far? In the past my reaction was to get defensive or annoyed, but I've now realized that that is equally bad and just makes the tone of an interaction terse and negative. I try when I can to respond in a flirty way, but sometimes it's hard not to get defensive or touchy! I know I can't change the behavior of thousands of guys, but I can change my own responses. If there is a way I can show a guy I'm interested and that he doesn't need to do that, but do so in a way that is encouraging and sweet, I would love to know how. Thoughts?

Thanks for your time!

Thanks, glad you like the blog.

I know exactly what you mean about men acting the way you describe, for two reasons. First, because in the past year or so I have actually started to overhear men "gaming" women at bars, and doing it poorly. What used to be a relatively "underground" set of tactics is now being used in the mainstream, and often in a misunderstood and watered-down form. Secondly, I’ve tried some of it myself, and have said similarly stupid things. The point is, I can definitely answer your question.

Recognize that, ultimately, men are saying these things (and acting these ways) because they have an incredibly deep drive and desire to be with you – romantically, sexually, socially, or all three. And until they discovered "game" they had absolutely no idea how to do so. Women for them were like an enormous and wildly beautiful diamond on display in a museum: plainly visible and even within an arm’s reach, but surrounded by security guards and a thick plate of bullet-proof glass preventing them from obtaining it. That kind inability – especially when coupled with such a strong desire – is a powerful and sickening thing to feel. (I describe it briefly in the opening lines of the post Men Have No Clue Why They Find a Woman Attractive.)

At some point, these same men stumbled across a fairly convincing system that promises success with women and isn't impossible too follow – a system that tells them how to remove the bulletproof glass and disarm the security guards (i.e. their own lack of confidence). Of course they are going to try it. But the fact that they are trying it does not mean that they are suddenly naturally confident about confronting you. While “game” certainly gives them more confidence than they had, it by no means eliminates their inexperience or nervousness. So when men say things like this, recognize that the underlying emotion they are feeling is somewhere between nervousness and crippling insecurity.

What goes through their minds is something like this:
Fuck that girl is cute. Good thing I know what to say to make her like me. I’m kinda nervous, but nerves are irrational; I am going to (try to) ignore them. Man this is hard. But OK, here I go, no more pussy shit. I am going to approach her... remember: be cool, confident, calm – say the right thing, don't let her know you are too interested…
[Approach, use “opener”]
OK, that went reasonably well, at least she doesn’t hate me… now what? Neg! I need to neg her, that is what The Game said to do. OK here goes...
[Neg - like the "interview" one you used as an example]
Fuck, she’s pissed, she doesn’t like me. Do I hang in there? Maybe if I fix my body language she will change her mind. Ugh. Nope. Do I actually walk away at this point? This is humiliating. Maybe I should just try... no... it's over.
[Walk away, make excuses to friends about why it went poorly and take 5 shots to get over it]
Maybe I should have isolated her from the group first. I’ll have to go back to that website where I got that line and try something different. I must have said it wrong.
(Notice that the use of the neg is never questioned.)

Of course, not all guys that use “game” are this unsure of themselves. The ones that are more seasoned won’t be as abrasive, and you probably won’t even be able to pick them out from other men - and why would you want to? – it doesn’t mean that their intentions are any more insidious; it just means they weren’t “naturals” and have used techniques to overcome their inhibitions. But the guys that you are asking about are basically scarred shitless of you, and are blindly following a set of rules because that is all they know. While you should admire the fact that they are using the limited tools they have to get what they want, you should also have some sympathy for them, because their situation is fairly pathetic.

But back to your main question: how do you respond? It would be dishonest to them to act as if their "neg" or technique was successful (let alone subtle). But as you've realized, it is equally ineffective to call them out, bite back, or chastise them. Instead, try the following:
  1. Respond negatively but briefly, i.e. in such a way that they recognize that their words or actions were not effective.
  2. Continue in a light-hearted manner, as if it didn't bother you (and knowing that their words or actions stem from nervousness will help you to be less bothered by them).
So when he says "I didn't realize this was an interview, do you want my social security number next?" (which, by the way, has "pickup artist line" written all over it – I think I even have seen it somewhere before), do this: pause, look perplexed and annoyed for a second, and then say "no, I was just curious..." then break into a smile and say something like "but if you give it to me I promise I'll send you a money order for $5,000 tomorrow by noon ;)" Again, the point is to show disapproval but then demonstrate that you'd still like to continue the interaction in a playful way, without the pretense.

Don't be too surprised if some guys react poorly, even to this “soft” kind of reaction. They've read books that tell them they should be the “alpha male,” commanding the conversation; and if you take charge like this, they are liable to get upset, feeling like they've “lost.” In fact, some guys might actually try to neg you harder. In this case, your best bet is to walk away. You will save your own time and do them a favor by showing them that their line or attitude didn’t work. After a couple years trying these tactics unsuccessfully, they will either make adjustments until they are less offensive and do work, or drop them altogether.

"Game" could be just a passing social fad, but it definitely isn’t going to pass during our generation, so you will need to be patient with guys on the steeper portion of the learning curve. Recognize that, in the long run, it is helping men get over their fear of approaching you, and this is a good thing for both sexes – even if there are some bumps along the way.

Hope that helps.


If you have questions you'd like answered, feel free to e-mail me at therulesrevisited@gmail.com


  1. Great post! This is so true...happens all the time. Personally, something I like to do when someone is saying inappropriate/insulting stuff: I tilt my head and say, "Charming." Then I straighten my head and look them in the eyes and say, "It's been such a pleasure talking to you. Enjoy the rest of your evening." And I walk away before they have a chance to respond. The best way to deliver this line....channel your inner Judi Dench (if you have a Brit sensibility) or your inner Southern Belle (with that sweet, butter-wouldnt-melt look)...the type of girl who smiles and says, "Isnt that just a perfectly lovely dress you're wearing." Which is Southern code for "that's the ugliest dress I've ever seen. What's wrong with you?"

    As Andrew said, if they get enough polite walk-aways...they will realize they need to tweak their tactics. And I dont believe in a) rewarding bad behavior or b) tolerating rudeness just because the person is a nervous wreck. I may feel compassion but I'm not putting myself in the line of fire.

  2. What do you make of a guy telling you are angry and/or evil? What kind of neg is that?

  3. Good topic!

    Andrew, your suggested response is totally in line with Louis & Copeland's "How to Succeed With Men"'s suggestions for dealing with the goofy mistakes guys will inevitably make when trying to flirt - give him a loss for the unwanted behaviour/line but immediately follow it up with a win so he knows he can still win you with some course corrections :)


  4. Just one general question - I don't have too many male friends. I'm pretty much a girly girl and the male friends I have in my life are either guys who I suspect are interested but have never made an actual move, some I have kept at a comfortable distance, one who's dated a close friend. A couple of them are dating girls though.

    Is it worth it to ever ask them of advice in matters with men? There are a couple I sometimes chat with online since they live other places and they ask how things are going. But I feel like they are always extremely cynical and negative. Do I interpret this a 'brutal honesty' or are they just really trying to make me feel bad?
    I'm an attractive girl btw.

    1. Whether they are being honest or trying to make you feel bad is impossible for me to say without knowing you (or them), but in general I'd be careful about asking guys who like you for advice about other guys. Aside from the fact that you might hurt them by being so up-front about liking other men, they will struggle to be honest with you due to their own interest.

  5. Do men hate being called 'cute'? Or 'sweetie'?
    When I'm dating a guy, he usually calls me "sweetie", "baby", "darling" or "love". What is the male equivalent? I can't bring myself to say "handsome".

    1. I think I'll make this one into a post. Look for it soon.

    2. That post never really addressed this question as far as an appropriate "pet name" for a man you are in the early stages of dating.

      I was out with a guy on Friday who I wanted to call "cute" so bad, but thought of this and couldn't do it...

      Any suggestions are welcome

    3. Good point... I think "babe" is usually appropriate, though some guys won't like it - some guys don't like being given pet names at all. You will have to feel out the specifics for yourself. You could just ask him.

  6. I see you use "confident" as an adjective to describe a person as a whole, but is it normal for men to confident in some aspects but not in others? As in he can be very successful and a real ball-buster at work, socially extroverted, but not super confident with women?

  7. Do 1000 approaches - nervousness disappears.

  8. If a guy thinks you are out of his league, what is the best way to reassure him? Other than to agree to dates and so on - if he needs more encouragement.

  9. I'd be interested to know, from the guy's point of view, how does he want/expect a girl to react to these kind of statements/ questions?

  10. "Game" is so dumb. I can't -stand- those kinds of comments from insecure guys, and backhanded compliments.are the worst! Playful banter and some sarcastic teasing is always fun, but this new 'fad' usually takes and twists it overboard into assholery. It's more about the damaged ego and getting what he wants than actually liking the girl as a person and having the confidence to approach authentically (whether he realizes or not- and usually they just want to get in your pants anyway).This tactic works best with equally insecure women who seek validation from men.

    Any guy who actually prides himself in being a jerk is totally off my radar.

    Why do some people think it's so admirable to be blatantly rude to others? It demonstrates a false superiority. I now see it as immature and unattractive. More like inferiority... The bigger question is how so many girls fall for it. Well I guess I know, I just wish more knew themselves enough to avoid accepting advances from somebody below their true standards.

    Again, nice blog. Very insightful and analytic thoughts. :) Though I don't totally agree with everything, it's appreciated. Interesting posts.

    1. Agreed. I've been involved with many people, some over many years, and those I cared about I never ONCE felt the need to treat them in any way other than with kindness and playfulness - never negatively or sarcastically. That kind of energy just seems to ruin everything it touches.

      Even growing up, it felt wrong to treat someone shabbily, and the few times I did, I felt like a total shitheel afterward.

    2. Well said, pluscrimethink, I could not have said it better myself. No matter how much you like the guy, this is just not attractive.

  11. if you girls know for sure you are being gamed, then i think you should confront the guy that is doing it... if they are you will know for sure, as well as if he isn't... women also have some "game" and most of the times it is easy to tell ;)

  12. This labeling in the turtles are usually separated as per the sex. Several Pet names for girls are usually designed for man turtles although several are usually most suitable option designed for feminine turtles.

  13. I sometimes say, "Does the name Neil Strauss mean anything to you?" and enjoy watching the horror and curiosity of how I "know" wash over their faces. Being "caught" either freaks them out and they leave it they are intrigued and loosen up because they are disarmed and can be themselves knowing it's not gonna work with this girl ;)

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