Why The World’s #1 Pickup Artist Left The Game Behind - Neil Strauss

Added: May 28, 2024

In this podcast episode, Neil Strauss, renowned author and former pickup artist, discusses his transformative journey from the world of pickup artistry to a more authentic and fulfilling approach to relationships. Strauss, known for his book "The Game," shares his experiences with dating, relationships, and divorce, offering insights and lessons learned along the way. The conversation covers a wide range of topics, including self-reflection, growth, authenticity, modern mating culture, and the complexities of love and connection.

Key takeaways


Neil Strauss' journey from a pickup artist to seeking authentic connections highlights the importance of self-reflection and personal growth in relationships. His experiences with dating, marriage, and co-parenting underscore the value of meaningful connections over superficial interactions.


Strauss emphasizes the significance of authenticity and embracing change. He critiques societal expectations and cultural narratives that often pressure individuals to cling to past identities, advocating for personal growth and staying true to oneself.


Strauss challenges the concept of LMS (looks, money, status) as a priority list in dating, arguing that inner qualities, self-confidence, and authenticity are more important. He stresses understanding the underlying reasons behind what people want in relationships, such as safety and competence.


The podcast discusses the significant challenges men face today, including mental health issues, loneliness, and lack of connection. Strauss highlights the impact of excessive online time and the need for counter-narratives that promote healthy relationships and self-awareness.


Strauss underscores the importance of agency and sovereignty in relationships. He emphasizes taking control of one's growth and not relying on external factors to define identity or relationships. He also focuses on emotional connection and understanding in love, rather than transactional aspects.

Strauss' Journey Towards Authentic Connections

Strauss' story begins with his deep dive into the pickup artist community, where he sought to understand the dynamics of courtship, validation, and casual relationships. As he delved deeper, he confronted his own patterns and issues, leading to a significant shift in perspective towards more meaningful and authentic connections. He emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and growth in relationships, sharing his experiences of navigating dating, marriage, and co-parenting.

The Importance of Authenticity and Embracing Change

A key theme in Strauss' journey is the concept of authenticity and the importance of staying true to oneself amidst societal expectations and cultural narratives. He discusses the pitfalls of clinging to past identities and the significance of embracing change and growth. The conversation also explores the current mating culture and its alignment with our evolved psychology, touching on the complexities of modern relationships, choice overload, and the paradox of choice in dating apps.

Challenging the LMS Triage

Strauss critiques the concept of LMS (looks, money, status) as a triage priority list for men in the dating world, highlighting its limitations and emphasizing the importance of inner qualities, self-confidence, and authenticity. He reflects on his experiences with personal ads and the unrealistic expectations people often have in relationships, stressing the need to understand the underlying reasons behind what people want, such as safety and competence, rather than superficial qualities.

Challenges Facing Men Today

The discussion shifts to the current state of men's friendships, mental health, masculinity, and role models. Strauss believes that men face significant challenges in today's society, where they are often made to feel privileged yet struggle with issues like suicide, depression, loneliness, and lack of connection. He highlights the impact of excessive online time and the lack of counter-narratives promoting healthy relationships and self-awareness.

Emphasizing Agency and Love

When discussing relationships, Strauss emphasizes the importance of agency and sovereignty over one's own direction. He underscores the need for individuals to take control of their growth and not rely on external factors to define their identity or relationships. He also touches on the concept of love, often overlooked in discussions about relationships, focusing more on emotional connection and understanding rather than transactional aspects.

The Importance of Authentic Connection

Strauss delves into the idea of gaming love and connection in relationships, noting that while attraction can be manipulated, true connection is more challenging to fake. He stresses the importance of understanding one's own patterns and behaviors in relationships and working on personal growth to attract healthier partners and build fulfilling connections.

Three-step formula for healthier relationships

To unpick patterns in relationships, Strauss suggests a three-step formula: working on oneself through therapy, focusing on emotional healing and self-esteem, and changing one's reactions in relationships. By addressing underlying wounds and patterns, individuals can create healthier dynamics and attract partners aligned with their growth and values.

Embracing Intensive Workshops for Personal Growth

Strauss shares his personal experience with deep intensive workshops, such as the Survivors program at The Meadows in Arizona and the Hoffman process, which help individuals unpack emotional baggage and discover their true selves. He emphasizes the importance of regular accountability, such as men's groups or therapy sessions, to maintain progress made during intensive experiences.

Tools for Emotional Regulation

One valuable tool Strauss highlights is reparenting, where individuals reframe their reactions based on past experiences with their parents. By recognizing triggers and correcting negative thought patterns, individuals can navigate challenging situations more effectively. Another tool is widening the space between stimulus and response, allowing individuals to pause and reflect before reacting impulsively, thus managing emotions and improving communication in relationships.

Revolutionary Nonviolent Communication

Strauss introduces nonviolent communication as a revolutionary form of communication that focuses on understanding and honoring the emotions and needs of others. By avoiding criticism, judgment, and control, nonviolent communication fosters empathy and collaboration in conversations.

Strauss' Journey of Self-Discovery

Throughout the podcast, Strauss reflects on his own journey of self-discovery, acknowledging his sensitivity and emotional needs that he had suppressed for years. He discusses the conflict between his analytical nature, driven by a desire for control and certainty, and his emotional side, seeking connection and authenticity. He also touches on the concept of validation and its influence on his past behavior, emphasizing the need to author his own direction in life and take agency over his own growth.

Impact of Childhood Dynamics

Strauss delves into his upbringing and the dynamics in his household, particularly his relationship with his mother. He reflects on how growing up in an environment where his needs were not prioritized led him to subjugate his own desires to keep the peace and make others happy. This pattern of behavior carried over into his adult life, impacting his ability to express his emotions and assert his needs.

Practical Tips for Self-Compassion

The conversation also touches on self-compassion and the importance of being kind to oneself. Strauss shares practical tips for cultivating self-compassion, such as challenging negative self-talk and reframing thoughts in a more compassionate light. He emphasizes the need to talk to oneself as the parent one needed, rather than replicating the critical voice of one's upbringing.

Embracing Authenticity Through Self-Exploration

Strauss reflects on the idea that authenticity is not a fixed state but a continuous process of self-exploration and growth. He encourages listeners to embrace uncertainty and doubt as a form of freedom, allowing for the possibility of change and evolution.

Strauss' upcoming projects

Towards the end of the podcast, Strauss shares insights into his upcoming projects, including his new book titled "The Power of Low Self-Esteem." He discusses the theme of low self-esteem and how it can drive individuals to achieve great things despite their inner struggles. He also mentions his recent podcast ventures, such as "To Die For" and "To Live and Die in LA," which explore intriguing and mysterious stories of missing persons.


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