I was thinking earlier about that book The Game.
Y’know, the Neil Strauss pick up artist book? When I was 20 and lonely, that book hit hard for me. I was stuck in a weird place. On one hand, I loved this idea of being attractive and enticing to women. I craved the knowledge of how to be so, so charming that they’d want to sleep with me. I read these accounts of men sleeping around, dating up and connecting with a range of women. It sounded so exciting and scandalous. I didn’t like the methods. They felt dehumanising, turning intimacy into a numbers game. There was something odd and cult-like about the way they’d live in what start-up folks these days would call “incubators”. The idea of having a routine felt awful and mercenary. If clicking with someone was turned into finding the right thing to say to unlock a puzzle, what was the point? I’ve always been attracted to people the more I learn about them, and if reciprocal engagement was based on me running social tricks that others had made up, then it wouldn’t really be me they were interested in, would it?
There’s a concept in a lot of artistic endeavours of finding your voice. In stand up it’s working out how to be true to the unique standpoint you have. To do the type of comedy that both gets laughs and makes you laugh. In clowning people find their archetype, work out their status and how to play with it. Writers often find their calling and style. I think what I’ve discovered lately is that I’m starting to find my voice in life. There are so many better writers. I’m not being self-effacing. I know how to put words together okay, but I’d never say that writing is my forte. I’m not the funniest person, and I don’t really know that I have the soul of a comedian. I’m okay looking, but there are more handsome men out there. I have a solid moral compass, and also I see others doing kind things without thinking that I’d love to have as a natural reaction. I don’t always own a room. I make mistakes. Hell, it’s insane I’m not better than I am at Magic considering the amount of time I’ve spent playing over the past almost two decades. That said, I’m finally at the point where I’m comfortable with myself, and leaning in.
Recently I’ve been going on dates and getting closer to people a lot more often. I don’t use pick up lines or try to get people into bed. I’m just me. I joke around and treat people with kindness. I have a weird sense of humour, and I don’t sell out my values to try and impress people. I’d rather just date someone else. I know that money doesn’t impress me, and I’m not drawn to those who think it’s important. I’m very happy being vulnerable and letting people vent. I enjoy spending time hearing about others’ problems, learning about their lives. The people who I tend to be drawn to are quite different, and sync with varied parts of my personality. I know that I’m a human cartoon character, and that this is unlikely to change with time. I’m becoming the person I both admired and didn’t know existed when I was a kid.
If I think back to all that The Game kind of stuff now, I realise I have the kind of life that I sought from that lifestyle, but it’s one that makes sense for me. I don’t pressure anyone into sexual encounters, and instead operate on a Fuck Yes or No philosophy. If they’re actively looking to connect intimately, then fuck yeah we will. If not, zero harm. If they never want to, who cares? We’ll just spend time together hanging out. If they do, then that’s great. If I’ve shared intimacy with someone previously, I have no expectations that they’ll want to each time, or even again. Sexual play has become the icing on the cake of making deep friendships where sometimes we want to kiss. I’m certainly not standoffish or emotionally distant, but I let my partners dictate how physically affectionate they want to be.
I think it’s important to regard your trajectory. To see who you’ve become, and where it could lead. To sit in your identity and analyse it. None of us are truly immutable, and we all have the potential for happiness.
Except, well, pick up artists can go fuck themselves. I’m sure they’ve got a routine for it.