Tag Archives: approach anxiety

Approach Anxiety and The Bullshit of Evolutionary Psychology

Evolutionary psychology.


Yet the pickup community LOVES it. Holy moly. It’s like their religion.

Listen to how they use it to explain approach anxiety.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, our ancestors used to live in caves and in small communities. If you approached a woman back then and it went badly, you were ostracized. A gene for approach anxiety was created in the body of all men. That’s why today we experience approach anxiety, even though we no longer live in caves or small communities. The End.

Does anyone else see what a load of CRAP this is?

First of all, the first humans originated in the open air and deserts of Africa, not in caves.

The first humans weren’t in caves. Photo Credit: worldofweirdthings.com

But even that’s not 100% fact. Just speculation based on where bones have been found and on genetic deduction.

Second, which ancestors? Australopithecus afarensis? Homo habilis? Homo erectus? Homo heidelbergensis?

Let me pause here and say there is evidence the first homo sapien population was riskily (if that’s a word) small.

One theory says our population may have fallen as low as 10,000 people because of drought, famine, and epidemics. The theory is based on how little diversity we have in our genes compared to our nearest cousins, the primates.

Based on genetic deduction, apparently our gene pool had shrank so low that when our species expanded again, all descendants carried copies of the same limited amount of genes. That’s why they say we may have descended from a founding population of only 50 people.

I love this idea, even if it’s speculation. It shows how all of us humans have so much more IN COMMON than we have differences. That smokin’ hot woman over there? Part of our close-knit family of humanity. Nice.

And it’s also true that the population of modern humans living on this planet boggles.

But to say all men now carry a gene for approach anxiety as a result?


Don’t make me laugh.

That leads to the third thing.

Third, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to have a gene for approach anxiety.


Genes are simply a long sequence of nucleotides.

I’m about to geek out on you here, so watch out.

There are only four nucleotides, identified by the letters A, T, C, and G. There are thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of nucleotides in a gene and in a particular order: AATCCGGCATT and so on. I got this all from Harvard geneticist R.C. Lewontin (p. 46-50 of “Biology as Ideology”).

The long sequence serves two functions.

First, it’s a BLUEPRINT. Other long molecules copy the original sequence of A’s, T’s, C’s, and G’s. These molecules are the amino acids of a protein. They in turn make up our cells, tissues, enzymes, hormones.

A fascinating view of genes. Photo Credit: virtualmedicalcentre.com

Cool, right?

Second, genes turn on and off the production of proteins. For example, if a lactose enters the body, the gene will turn on the production of a certain protein to break down the lactose and use it as a source of energy.


That’s it.

So where the HELL is approach anxiety to be found?

Or the gene for alcoholism, artistic talent, homosexuality, “being good with women,” or whatever vice or virtue people try to imagine there’s a gene for?

Fourth, let’s say there was a gene for approach anxiety. There’s not, but let’s just imagine for shits and giggles.

Can you explain to me how we would ever be able to get over the anxiety? Wouldn’t that mean that we’re then determined forever and ever to have approach anxiety? Does that mean CHOICE or environment or practice or has no role anymore in shaping our destiny?

I mean, entire CULTURES of people lack approach anxiety, so how could ALL men have a gene for approach anxiety?


I live in the beautiful state of Maine in the northeast, so not the best example. Granted. Here, people have a reputation for keeping to themselves (even though not everyone here is like that).

But people from the Midwest have told me that people there tend to be far friendlier and outgoing and have less problem approaching strangers.

The same thing goes for Cuban culture. My father, who’s visited twice, used to tell me stories about how he had trouble getting to his destination on time because Cubans would approach him on his walk and stop him just to strike up a friendly conversation. Strangers aren’t “strangers” to Cubans, but friends first.

Cubans. Photo Credit: lacertilia.com

Fifth, if our ancestors lived in such small tribes, why would they have the need to approach a woman? If you live in a small enough community, wouldn’t everyone pretty much know each other already? And didn’t many of these small tribes have arranged marriages?

The whole approach anxiety thing comes from the fact you’re approaching a complete STRANGER to “court” but who might reject you. That happens in a large environment with lots of strangers and with no such thing as arranged marriages. Namely, OUR modern, industrialized culture in the West.

I’m almost done with my rant. One more thing.

The problem with evolutionary psychology is none of us were there 200,000 years ago (approximate date of earliest Homo sapiens in Africa). So talking about it like it’s the cause of our problems today must forever be called bullshit.

Worse, if we’re not careful, we’ll project our modern prejudices into biology, and pass it off as science. What I mean is, if there’s a gene for approach anxiety, there can also be a gene for warfare, sexual inequality, racism, class, and capitalist greed. These are cultural prejudices, NOT biological facts.

Personally, evolutionary psychology had never helped me understand my own approach anxiety on any meaningful level.

Okay, I’m done.

So, why is approaching women so hard?

Well, she doesn’t know you yet. As a result, she often (not always) has a “guard” up. It’s VERY intimidating.


Banter. Give her some appreciation. Tell her who you are and why you’re talking to her. Then, ask about her.

Congrats. You’ve broken through her shield.

The more prepared I was BEFORE the approach, and the more I PRACTICED approaching, the more I mastered the anxiety.

End of story.

On Practicing Gambits

“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” — Confucius

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ? Benjamin Franklin

“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” ? Robert H. Schuller

To have a successful approach, be prepared.

All of us get approach anxiety. It’s fucking scary. Be-lieeeeeeve me, I know. Those of us guys who actually grit our teeth and approach–awesome! But a lot of us still don’t know where to take the interaction, and we’ll run out of things to say. Ever happened to you? Sure as hell happened to me. Then we run away with our tail between our legs, and hope to never approach again.

Blagh (that’s a throw-up sound).


Be prepared BEFORE you approach. Know where you wanna take an interaction. By the way, your goal is qualification. Qualification is the turning point of an interaction from the attraction phase to comfort. In addition to knowing where you’re gonna take things, you also gotta know what you’re going to say.

In other words, BE PREPARED. Your chances of a successful approach will go up in proportion to how prepared you are.

Knowing each thing you’re going to say is called a “gambit.”

What’s a gambit?

The word comes from the game of chess. Remember, pickup is like chess. It’s an intellectual game that takes strategy. That’s why it’s NEVER recommended to drink alcohol when you’re out picking up (unless you’re Tucker Max). You need your mind to be as clear and sober as possible.

Anyway, the word comes from the Italian gambetto, literally, the act of tripping someone, from gamba leg (source: www.merriam-webster.com). The word was originally used in 1561 by a Spanish priest Rúy López de Segura, from an Italian expression dare il gambetto (to put a leg forward in order to trip someone). The Italian word gained the Spanish form gambito that led to French gambit, which has influenced the English spelling of the word. (source: wikipedia)

In chess, a gambit is when a player offers his opponent one or more pawns to gain an advantage in position at the beginning. It can be either ‘accepted’ or ‘declined.’

The Benko Gambit, a well-respected gambit. Credit: chesscorner.com

Conversation soon borrowed the word. In conversation, it can be a remark to open up a conversation. It’s a stratagem. It can be a word or phrase which helps one express what he or she is trying to say. In pickup, it can be as simple as a roll-off.
                                                                                                                                                                 There are 3 categories of gambits for the attract phase:
Category 1: Sexual tension (negs, banter lines, role play). Short term attraction.
Category 2: DHVs (stories). Substantive, long-term attraction.  What kind of person you are…
Category 3: Qualifier (questions). What kind of person is she?
                                                                                                                                                                  I can hear the eye-rolling. Memorizing gambits? That’s silly. Things should be spontaneous. That’s what I thought too. But consider these three arguments why it’s not silly.
                                                                                                                                                            First of all, hoping good conversation magically just happens? Are you serious? That’s a passive way of looking at things. Man, take leadership, and make a good conversation happen.
                                                                                                                                                                Second of all, check out this beautiful passage from the novel “Immortality” by Milan Kundera:

“If our planet has seen some eighty billion people, it is difficult to suppose that every individual has had his or her own repertory of gestures. Arithmetically, it is simply impossible. Without a doubt, there are far fewer gestures in the world than there are individuals… We could put it in the form of an aphorism: many people, few gestures.”

We all use gambits without our being aware of it. The language we use, the jokes, the sayings, the facial expressions, the gestures… how many of them are truly original, and how many are borrowed and learned?

Third of all, learning gambits is like learning to play a musical instrument, like piano. You learn a piece and practice it until it flows out of you naturally. You don’t just play it, but you play it. In the process, you become familiar with the language of music. Soon, the piece becomes yours. It becomes spontaneous. It becomes art. And when you learn gambits, you’ll pick up the language of attraction.

So, learning gambits is like learning to play a piece of music. It’s like training to become a musician or artist.  Even Michelangelo or Donatello copied the great masters in order create their own masterpieces.

So, here’s how to practice gambits.

First, pick ONLY ONE gambit from each category. Pick more than that and you’ll confuse yourself. You’ll suffer from analysis paralysis.

Second, practice the 3 gambits. Practice each 5 times by yourself to memorize them. Practice the delivery 5 times in front of the mirror to get the body language and facial expressions right. Now you’re ready to try em in the field. Practice each 5 times in the field.

When memorizing, try to understand what the gambit is trying to say. You don’t have to memorize word for word, but understand the theme. That way you can create your own, and it can flow out of you naturally. The fun of learning gambits is handling them so your own voice shines through.

Third, choose 3 new gambits. After you’ve practiced each gambit a total of 15 times, or it feels like it’s yours, you may pick a new gambit from each category. Step-by-step you’ll have a full repertoire to work with.  Mystery once said he has about 300 gambits in his head ready at any time. But it took time to get to that point.

Practice your gambits each day like a musician practices his scales or a basketball player practices his foul shots, until this attraction language becomes a second language.

Approach anxiety? Gone. You’ll find you can’t wait to try out new gambits on the girl who works in a coffee shop, a cashier, the bartender, a group of girls in the lounge, whoever. It won’t be about “getting” her, but just sharing a little joy. And that’s the key to a successful approach.