Column: My addition to the Mystery Method

I am obsessed with VH1’s The Pickup Artist. In this show, master pickup artist Mystery teaches hopeless young men how to pick up women, often with cringe-inducing results. The tactics are familiar to anyone who has read The Game by Neil Strauss.

These are the basics of the Mystery Method. First, have an opener ready before you enter the bar. An opener is a line that earns you entry into a “set,” which is a group of women. A popular opener is, “Did you hear about the two girls fighting outside?” Because everyone likes a girl fight, the natural reaction is to say, “I didn’t hear about that. What happened?” Now you are in the set.

But you cannot just walk up to a set and blurt your opener. It is poor form. When you deliver an opener, you should do so over your shoulder or leaning away. This is done to avoid looking eager. It makes you appear cool. If you can give your opener while descending a fire escape or taking a nap – perfect. 

Once inside the set, you must invent a false time constraint. Example: “I only have a minute. I have to get back to my friends.” This puts everyone at ease because they know this away-leaning guy who likes watching women fight in parking lots will not be standing there for the next two hours.

The male instinct at this point is to lavish the target with attention. The Mystery Method advises the opposite. Get chummy with the guys and other girls first. When you acknowledge the target, it should be to put her down or “neg” her. A popular neg that has been used way too often is, “You can dress her up, but you can’t take her anywhere.” If things are going well, the girl will punch your arm or acknowledge your existence in a playful manner.

Now isolate. You ask the guys/other girls present, “Do you mind if I talk to your friend for a moment? (Another false time constraint.) She has been very rude to me. (Another neg.)” If you have executed these steps flawlessly there is a good chance you will have earned face time with your target. At this point you escalate to the number close, (getting her phone number), kiss close, (kissing her), or f close, (going somewhere to f.)

According to the show and the book, this works.

Personally, I do not use the Mystery Method. The Donatelli Method is to always be nice to women. For better or for worse I am going down with that ship. But I think about the Mystery Method a lot because I am interested in why it works.


(Above: A young woman just before experiencing the Donatelli Method. Photo by Russel J. Smith/Flickr.)


(Above: A young woman just after experiencing the Donatelli Method. Photo by Russel J. Smith/Flickr.)

As a result of my obsession, I have discovered a possible addition to the Mystery Method. (Yes, I am currently underemployed.) Here it is. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, make the woman physically warm. I call this Heating The Target.

This tactic comes from a piece of research I discovered. Researchers have discovered that physical warmth affects our judgment of others because the same brain regions that represent bodily states such as warmth also respond to their psychological equivalents like trust.

In an experiment conducted by Lawrence Williams and John Bargh, 41 participants held either an iced coffee or a hot coffee for 10 to 15 seconds while traveling in an elevator to a psychology lab. According to the British Psychological Society, “Once upstairs, the participants assessed two cars (to distract them from the true purpose of the study) and then rated the personality of a fictional ‘person A’ who they were told was intelligent, skillful and industrious.

“The participants who’d earlier held a hot coffee rated the man more ‘warmly,’ for example describing him as more good-natured and generous, than the participants who’d held an iced coffee.”

This study explains the popularity of coffee houses as first date destinations. Handing a woman something warm makes a positive first impression. Chalk one up for the hippie freaks.

There are many casual ways to Heat The Target. When you initiate contact, warm her hands. When you go outside, give her your coat. If it is cold outside, warm the car thoroughly before picking her up. It all sounds like common sense, but it is common sense with a purpose. That purpose is sex. And isn’t that the best common sense of all?

Awkward male virgins, think of me fondly next time you Heat The Target.

Or, wait. No. Please don’t.

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