New York’s annual sex issue is usually a good read, but this year’s edition contains an interview that sets a new bar for can’t-tear-your-eyes-away magnetism. The terrific Jada Yuan organized a “roundtable of pickup artists,” including the two authors of ‘90s-era fossil The Rules; two pickup artists (including infamous Kickstarterer Ken Hoinsky); a male “romance artist”; and Arden Leigh, the sex-positive, nonmonogamous author of The New Rules of Attraction: How to Get Him, Keep Him, and Make Him Beg for More. As you might imagine, these gurus of love and romance don’t always agree on the right way to attract and keep a mate.
Within the first 400 words of the 4,000-plus-word transcript, Rules author Sherrie Schneider calls Leigh’s recommendation that women be proactive “extremely dangerous information.” Leigh later explains why high-fiving should be an important part of every woman’s flirting repertoire. And Adam Lyons, the less famous pickup artist, pushes back against the Rules authors’ gender essentialism by bringing up “a guy who cries every time he has sex with his girlfriend because he thinks it’s so beautiful.” There are philosophical ruminations on “[t]he beauty of feminine grace and the beauty of masculine edge,” and there’s much, much more sniping between the old Rules and New Rules camps. But the men aren’t content to let the Rules Girls walk away looking the craziest. Pickup artist Lyons delivers this gem and secures the title of Most Bananas Dating Advice I’ve Ever Heard:
[I]f you look at a group of girls interacting, you’ll often notice that one of the girls in the group isn’t really looking at the rest of the group, and instead is looking around the bar for people. This girl, almost guaranteed, is ovulating and looking to meet somebody that night. That doesn’t mean that if you approach her she’s going to have sex with you. What it means is she’s much more open to a sexual advance and maybe, if she forms a real connection and trust and everything else that you need, maybe you’ll have sex that night.
Finally, an “almost guaranteed” way to tell if a woman is ovulating! Ladies, you might think that you’re looking around the bar because your friends are telling boring stories you’ve already heard, or because you want to flag the waiter for another drink to take the edge off the feeling of being surrounded by creepy guys. But Lyons knows the real reason: Your uterus wants a baby in it.
Lyons’ advice exposes the folly of any rules-based method of dating, which is that it reduces humans to machines that will give you your desired output if you enter the correct input. According to one of the Rules authors, if you read a woman’s favorite book, she’ll fall in love with you. According to Leigh, you have to “give off body-language signals on an animal level that will attract a guy.” According to Lyons, asking a woman to think about her “deepest, darkest sexual fantasy” will make her want to jump into bed with you. All these approaches completely ignore the possibility that not all women are exactly the same, and neither are all men—and that sometimes the people you like won’t like you back.
One more thing: It will give you a sense of the general tenor of the roundtable to know that Hoinsky—who got in hot water last month for advising men to “force a woman to rebuff your advances”—seems to be the only participant who understands that people are complicated. “The idea that one method works and one method doesn’t work is absurd,” he says at one point. “Different approaches work for different people.” It’s a fleeting moment of sanity in a conversation that otherwise comes across as a completely insane—if highly entertaining—cluster of bad advice.