The New Rules Of The Game – The Game Bill of Rights

Neil StraussNeil, Public, The Game

As some of you may already know, the Eaton Centre mall in Toronto tweeted the following last week:

Evidently, men talking to women in a mall pose a serious “health” risk. Perhaps cooties are real.

Certainly people have a right to shop in peace, but even when customers were trampling each other to death on Black Friday, most malls didn’t press this kind of panic button.

And it’s made me realize that it’s time to create a Bill of Rights to separate the fact from the myth of The Game, and try to put an end to some of this ridiculousness.

I don’t want to defend the so-called PUAs who were in the mall, nor do I want to attack them. I know nothing about them. All I know is that if they were “caught” trying to pickup women and if they were making women uncomfortable, then they’re definitely not PUAs. They’re AFCs.

This announcement by the mall comes in the same year that Kickstarter decided to ban all “seduction guides.” It seems we’re one scandal away from a PUA witch hunt.

Some of the censure, unfortunately, is not undeserved. There appear to be plenty of socially uncalibrated, psychologically disturbed, and “kamikaze” PUAs bringing this scorn and criticism on themselves.

So, it turns out, in the War on the Game, both sides have been guilty of jeopardizing what is well on its way to becoming a positive self-improvement and social-skills-building movement for men: Some PUA-haters for “creep-shaming” nice, shy, or awkward guys who are trying to get comfortable with women and some PUAs for using misogynist marketing tactics or teaching what amounts to harassment.

So what I’d like to do in this email is declare a TRUCE on both sides. Let’s lay down the battle axes. Let’s let go of our fear of “the other.” Let’s call a complete end to the name-calling of players and bitches, creeps and sluts. And let’s start understanding each other.

Every one of these men and women is searching, in their own way, for connection. Even enemies of so-called PUAs are also searching for connection, they just want to ensure that it’s authentic.

For most of these “scared singles,” the solution is to start searching for and discovering each other in a positive, well-intentioned, fun, and empathic way. This is courtship, not war.

To that end, I decided to sketch out today a Bill of Rights. It is applicable to people of any sex or sexual preference who want to meet each other–as well as to those who don’t.


We hold these truths to be self-evident that:

1.  Most single people would like to meet potential romantic and/or sexual partners.

2.  While some men and women are comfortable interacting with people they’re attracted to, many are not.

3.  Some people are naturally charming, interesting, and attractive; others are naturally awkward, nervous, and uncertain.

4.  Those who are not naturally comfortable around people who interest them have a right to learn to improve their social, conversation, emotional, and attraction skills and intelligence.

5.  Similarly, those who are approached have a right to their own space, to decline an unwelcome conversation, or to choose not to meet someone new.

6.  People’s biggest fear is social humiliation. Whether you are approaching or approached, treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.

a.  As the one who is approaching, do not make others uncomfortable, harass them, touch them without permission, or be dishonest with them.

b.  Similarly, if you’re approached and do not want to talk to the person, remember that he or she is probably just as sensitive as you are and be polite. If you feel compelled to be rude, consider instead providing constructive feedback about their approach.

7.  It is not intrinsically bad to seek casual sex, nor is it intrinsically good to seek a relationship. Neither is morally better than the other. What is important is that both people’s expectations are the same.

8.  Consent is crucial and non-negotiable.

9.  If you want to learn how to attract the opposite sex, you must start doing things that are attractive to them. These include being more interesting, confident, humorous, self-aware, empathic, authentic, positive, well-rounded, and spiritual. Ultimately, to form relationships with others more successfully, you actually have to become a better person.

10.  Do not let yourself be shamed out of trying to improve yourself. However, be empathic to those who are critical of the community. Most women feel less safe in this culture due to men. Most men, on the other hand, don’t feel less safe in this culture due to women. So anything that appears to empower men even more can be frightening to many women.

11.  While some people fear the intentions of others when meeting and dating, almost everyone fears rejection. Not only does nothing good come from these fears, but it gives others false power over us. Rather than seeking validation and esteem from others, get your esteem from within.

12.  Date responsibly. Every approach, every sexual encounter, every romance you are in, do your best to ensure that the person not only doesn’t regret the experience but is better off for having had it.

13.  Safe sex is mandatory. However, there is no such thing as safe love. It is a risk of the heart. But it is well worth the reward.

When I wrote The Game, I planned to neither defend nor attack the community, because it can be both helpful and hurtful. But as I read what’s going on, I feel compelled to speak up because in the end it changed my life in such a positive way. Since I was a kid, I wanted to get married and have children. I also of course wanted to have some fun on the way there. I often think that if I hadn’t learned this, I’d end up old and alone. Or, even worse, with someone who I don’t love or who doesn’t love me.

There are many men and women in this world who feel alone. There are many who are frustrated with and often angry at the opposite sex. There are many who go through months or years or even a lifetime without ever having the connection they yearn for, while they watch others who seem to be having all the fun or all the luck.

They need support, not shame. They already spend enough time shaming themselves as it is. And they need good advice that helps, because one bad experience with a phony pickup artist can lead them to end their own journey to passion, joy, and connection before it’s even started.

Now that my single life is literally buried, there are a few very specific misconceptions about The Game I’d like to finally clear up. So the next email will address a massive problem that’s been very confusing for men getting into The Game and has also led to problems like the Eaton Centre fiasco.

As you’re reading this, I’m sure you have your own thoughts and amendments you’d like to share—or perhaps ways to distinguish the good from the bad self-proclaimed PUAs. Post them here, and let’s start an open discussion on the subject.