1. From Geek to Natural
Wherever you are right now with women, I promise you that my situation was worse. I entered this world on July 7, 1980—in one of the slummiest and most dangerous parts of London, England, where I was born to a struggling young single mother who raised me the best way that she knew how. My father, who I hear is an actor somewhere in Italy, dumped us both before I even arrived. I grew up pretty much scared shitless, shy, and geeky … a natural-born loser and outcast from the very start.
Deathly insecure, I was a total failure when it came to any and all social interactions from grade school on to well past college. It’s hard to believe now, but up until I was twenty-one, I had never even gone on a single date, much less kissed a girl. Back then, if you’d looked up the word “geek” in the dictionary, you probably would have found a picture of me.
Sad but true.
Growing up poor and paralyzed by fear and insecurity, I was so shy and messed up that I couldn’t even answer the phone or place a call to order a pizza! Needless to say, I stayed pretty much to myself. When I wasn’t at school being picked on or bullied, I played solitary video games for hours on end at our tiny apartment in the projects, or at my eccentric grandmother’s house nearby, while my mother worked as a long-distance operator at the local telephone company.
In short, I was a total mess.
I was the kid at the neighborhood birthday parties and other gatherings that everyone always asked, “What’s wrong?” or “Are you okay?” Meeting new people terrified me, so I avoided it at al costs. I was nervous, shy, and socialy inept. As a result, I often annoyed people by saying the wrong things at the wrong times. I was hopeless.
Plagued by low self-esteem and with no dad in the house to teach me how to fight back, I was constantly bulied by classmates who caled me names like “Big Head” and “Moley”—the latter because of the birthmarks that I stil have on my face.
I have no doubt that I was clinicaly depressed for much of the time, even wel past high school. With few friends, I hung around mostly with my cousinAlistair, who was five years younger than me but miles ahead in the maturity department.
On the rare occasion that I was invited by a classmate or neighbor to attend a party or go do something, I would always find a reason not to. “I’m sick” or “I have too much homework” were my standard excuses. But deep down inside I was dying to be popular. And the older I got, the more desperate I became. I worried myself to sleep every night wondering if I would ever in my life have a girlfriend.
Here’s a classic example of how screwed up I was as a teenager. By some magical fluke (or probably more like a delusion in my own mind), when I was sixteen there was a nice girl in my class who I could tell sort of liked me. I spent that whole year fantasizing about her and trying to work up the nerve to say something—anything—to her, but I just couldn’t do it. After months of trying, the best I could manage was to leave a handwritten note on her bike saying that I liked her and that we should go out on a date sometime. Needless to say, that approach didn’t work, and she pretty much hid from me for the rest of the semester.
After graduating from high school as a total virgin—in fact, a guy who had never even held a girl’s hand, much less kissed a girl or gone out on a date—I entered a crummy little college because it was the only one that would accept me. My grades sucked as much as my social skills did: I’d regularly skipped out on classes all through school because I was bullied so much, so I was always behind.
Nevertheless, I decided I wanted to study to become a schoolteacher. First grade, to be precise. At least those kids wouldn’t pick on me, I reasoned—plus the coursework would be easy. Mostly, though, I wanted to go to college to try to socialize and to get a girlfriend. But, man, were my attempts pathetic.
One night that first year, I ran into a girl who lived in my dorm. She was stumbling down the hallway, obviously more than a little drunk, when she came over to me and said, “Hey, Richard. I’m … really horny!” My god, she was gorgeous. Even hammered, she was irresistible. So how did I handle this sensational opportunity? Why, in the wimpiest way I could, of course. I said, “Oh, dear,” patted her on the arm, and made a stupid excuse about needing to go somewhere—and then I ran out of the building as fast as I could. Afterward, I didn’t even have much regret. I didn’t know how to kiss, after all—never mind how to take things to a sexual level. The next time I saw her, she had a bemused look on her face. Sometime later she said that she thought I must have been a virgin. Bingo.
Around that same time, I was on the street one day when two super-cute female students around my age came over to me. One of them said, “Hey, you look a lot like my ex-boyfriend.” Just like before, all I could do was smile and say, “Oh, really?” before rushing right past them. Yet again, I let an opportunity to score evaporate into thin air.
A few months later, I was on a train when a group of gals started talking to me. One of them, giggling, asked if I’d ever had a threesome. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “this is my lucky day.” Not! You guessed it. Before I could work up the courage to ask for their names and their phone numbers, they got off at the next stop.
The bottom line is that overtly sexual girls scared the hell out of me, because I was clueless about how to handle them. This was never more evident than the night I was out at my local pub when an attractive young woman came up to me and said, “Would you like to lick my lizard?” I was like, “What?!” She then proceeded to show me a small lizard tattoo that she had on her belly. Shockingly, I managed to respond properly (that is, to respond at all) and I gave her lizard a quick lick. She stood there expectantly. As my mind raced through various potential comebacks, I said absolutely nothing. And so she left.
That was me—back when I had no cool. When I had no confidence. When I had no game whatsoever—natural, learned, or self-taught. It’s not like
opportunities weren’t presenting themselves, because they certainly were. It was that I had no fucking idea how to recognize or respond to them.
I was a man without skills, tools, techniques, or tips on how to succeed with the opposite sex. To make matters worse, I ended up flunking that first year in college. Clearly, I was due for a change.
So I dropped out of school, moved back in with my mom, and took a temporary job as a marketing assistant at local software company. My primary duties were doing odd jobs and “gofer” work to help my bosses get their big presentations together. Easy stuff. I also tracked the daily stock market performance of the company’s main competitors. Although this was a small part of my job, I soon discovered it was the bit I liked the most.
During this time, I was pretty much a total recluse when I wasn’t working. I never went out at night. All I did was work, eat, play video games in my room, and sleep. I also saved my money and started studying the stock market.
Since my mom didn’t charge me for room or board, after a few months I’d saved up four thousand dollars from working. I asked a friend of my mom’s, who dabbled in the stock market herself, to invest it for me since I was underage and couldn’t trade for myself. I had a hunch and had her pursue it for me. I got lucky and that stock went up … about tenfold. This gave me the confidence to quit my job and try my hand as a personal investor—a day trader—working from home.
I got lucky once and thought I’d be the next Warren Buffett. While that didn’t happen, I did manage to stay afloat and not lose money. Some years I was up, others I was down, but I generally did quite well, given my poor track record in life. While a small bit of success was a divergence from my past, one thing definitely did not change: I was still scared shitless of socializing. When I look back now, I realize that the reason I spent so much time at my computer, trading stocks, was so that I could hide from the reality that I was very poor socially. With every click of the mouse and with every financial transaction, I got to feel important instead of incompetent and ashamed of myself. I can’t remember ever, during my years as a trader, leaving my house at night to meet women. I’d tried that before, in college, and it didn’t work. I was terrified to fail again.
One night, when I was twenty-one years old, I went to sleep with tears running down my cheeks. I’d spent all this time chasing money as a trader, and for the first time I realized that I was just doing everything I could to avoid the pain of being a pariah yet again. What I really wanted was a girlfriend. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to experience what it seemed like everyone else took for granted. And as I finally went to sleep that night, I told myself I’d give up everything I had to find that one special girl.
A few nights later I uncharacteristicaly agreed to go out to a nightclub with one of the few male friends that I had. This, in itself, was a huge accomplishment for me. Soon enough, he clicked with a hot-looking chick who happened to have a rather nice-looking friend with her. Because she and I were left to fend for ourselves, we had no choice but to talk to each other while our friends were off having a great time on the dance floor. I was nervous and couldn’t hold good eye contact, but I guess she liked my nice-guy mild manner. Meanwhile, my friend and the other girl were getting along so wel that he wanted to take her back to his place. He offered to drop us off at our homes on the way, so we went to “my” girl’s street first. Everyone said goodbye, and she got out of the car.
As she walked the first few steps toward her front door, I sat in the back—paralyzed—gripping the seat beneath me for all it was worth. That’s when it happened: I had one of those life-changing moments when you force yourself to take action.
Asking my friend to wait, I lurched out of the car and ran after her. I called her name; she turned and I said, “Can I have your number?” She shouted it out with a smile. This was the first time I’d ever gotten a girl’s number in my life.
The next day, I didn’t call because I was too nervous.
I called her the day after that, though. She didn’t answer, but I managed to stutter out a brief message.
Heartbroken, I was certain that she had much better things to do than to speak to a loser like me. Amazingly, she called me back a couple of hours later after she got home from work. We arranged to meet for drinks a couple of days later. Things went pretty well, actually. It was my first date ever. We took it slow. I was psyched.
On our second date, I cooked dinner for her—another first!—at my place. Afterward, she sat next to me on the couch, put her head on my shoulder, and … and I stroked her hair!
On the third date, we finally had our (and my) first kiss—with her making the first move, of course. My bliss was short-lived, because as soon as the kiss was over she promptly informed me that she had a boyfriend. Lucky for me, she also said that the relationship wasn’t really working. But then she dropped another bombshell, saying that she was planning to start college soon at a school that was more than four hours away.
“Hey, no problem,” I assured her, even though we hadn’t even made it to second base yet. “I’ll book a hotel room and visit you every weekend.”
We spent the next two and a half years together. The relationship went about as well as you might imagine: I was both very needy and very inexperienced. During that whole time I had this nagging feeling that I was stuck in the relationship because it was the only one I could get. And even though I was thankful for the chance to be with a girl, somehow it seemed like I was missing out on something. Eventually, we began arguing and things deteriorated until we broke up.
Back to square one for me. Only now I was twenty-three years old, suddenly single, and still living at home with my mother. Out of sheer desperation, and not knowing what to do with my life, I began working on myself—just trying to improve, to do whatever it took to not be so bad at life. I wanted to be so much more than I had been to that point.
I started by writing down all my problems, all the ways in which I wanted to be better; and then I made up a plan for addressing each one. For my shyness, for example, I decided to do a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in Seville, Spain. It forced me, as I hoped it would when I first read the prospectus, to be the center of attention and stand up in front of a class of people for an hour at a time. In my first class, I was so nervous that my voice was shaking. By the last one I was pretty good. Much of getting over shyness, and even fear, in approaching women relies on desensitization. That course really helped me a lot.
I also started reading two self-improvement books a week. I studied neurolinguistic programming (NLP), which is a branch of psychology that uses different techniques such as the artful use of language and visualization to influence not only one’s own subconscious mind but the subconscious minds of others. I also studied mainstream psychology, hypnosis, Buddhism, and other self-development approaches. I didn’t anticipate the effect this would have, but it made me calmer and more composed, generally happier and more contented. Buddhism and hypnosis made my focus of attention internal.
My fashion also needed fixing, and I spent a period of about two years trying to figure out what worked best for me in terms of my style. I went from wearing baggy jeans, Nike tops, and dirty running shoes to well-fitting, stylish designer clothes that I bought at discount outlets. At first, I made mistakes and bought terrible items (the fake Versace polo shirt with a huge logo, the Zegna suit that was two sizes too big), but over time I refined my style and learned a lot about labels, design, fit, and fabrics—and where to shop for the best bargains.
I still wasn’t dating, but I was getting ready. And soon enough, fate would accidentally step into the picture.
I was sitting at a Starbucks with my cousin and confidant, Alistair, listening to music on my iPod, when I noticed a bunch of dorky-looking guys my age sitting nearby.
They were listening intently to what another guy at their table was teling them. They looked like they were taking a class.
Intrigued, I pulled out my earbuds and leaned over to try to eavesdrop. From what I could hear, it sounded like they were taking notes about how to pick up chicks.
“Hey, you! Over there!” the guy who was doing the talking suddenly shouted out in my direction. “You better not be taping me!”
Alistair and I quickly explained that my iPod wasn’t a tape recorder, and with that his face softened and he invited us over to his table. That’s when I first learned about the world of the pickup artist, or PUA. He explained that he was a PUA coach and that the guys with him were his students. I was intrigued. He told me to go out and buy a book called The Game by some American guy named Neil Strauss. He said I should read it, and if I liked what I read, I might want to give him a call and sign up for his class.
From looking at the guys who were with him, though, I didn’t really buy into the idea that they could have any success with women—they just plain looked too dorky. Even my teenaged cousin and I were a lot hipper and cooler than they were, which isn’t saying a lot.
Nevertheless, I asked young Alistair to run over to the nearby Borders bookstore to check out the book. An hour later, he called me from the store. “Hey, Rich! I’ve found it! It’s great!” he said excitedly. “It’s by a journalist who infiltrated this underground society of pickup artists.” He said it wasn’t so great in terms of offering actual tips and techniques, but he liked what he read. I said, “Buy it!”
I read the entire book that night—cover to cover—in one sitting. I never signed up for a class, but I did spend the next six months devouring everything I could get my hands on (via the Internet) about the guys who were featured in the book. Guys like Mystery and David DeAngelo. I diligently studied the subject on my own, learning the techniques, memorizing the lines. Eventually, I decided to start trying it out for myself. After successfully pulling off ten small “approaches” (starting brief conversations with a new woman), I felt I was finally beginning to get the hang of it.
Shortly after studying The Game, I went to Singapore on vacation. I was visiting my ex-girlfriend, whom I still had feelings for but was no longer in love with. She did, however, have a colleague I was attracted to. I was there for a month and bumped into this girl a few times. She had been educated at Oxford, and I loved her Liz Hurley accent. One night, when we were in a bar and she was sitting next to me, I put a small amount of my “learning” to use.
She put her hand on my leg, so I put my hand on her leg. She started rubbing my leg, so I reciprocated. She took my hand, so I leaned in and kissed her.
I would have been happy with just a kiss, this being only the second girl I’d kissed in my entire life! However, she escalated things further. “Let’s go,” she said, leading me outside to a cab and back to my hotel. Truth be told, she did all the work. In the hotel room, she took her clothes off, lay back, and made my job as easy as it could possibly be. I was finally getting somewhere!
My confidence was already boosted from all the pickup artist theory now stored in my head. I felt I had a secret weapon I could deploy with devastating results. And why not? It had a 100 percent success rate so far. Other guys didn’t know this stuff. They were idiots! I was going to clean up! Okay, so she was the one who said, “Let’s go,” who got us in a cab and took us back to a hotel; and she was a friend of a friend, rather than a cold approach—but hey! I’d gotten the result, and now I was determined to get even better at dealing with women.
A few months later I moved out of my mother’s place and into an apartment in a cool part of London that I shared with a couple of other young roommates. I picked the location specifically for meeting women, going out, and being sociable. I didn’t know anyone—not even my roommates— so I knew I’d be forced to get out there and meet people.
Being new to the neighborhood, I had no immediate social circle to connect with or to hang out with, so I eventually linked up with some local pickup artists via online forums, and I started to tag along with them when they went out on the town. When we first went out I gave them the same kind of respect I’d given to the master pickup artists described in The Game. I thought that anyone who had spent years working on something would be very good at it. However, I quickly found out that most of these guys could talk a good talk and walk a cool walk, but they didn’t seem to have a clue about how to take things much further than getting a girl’s phone number or a first dance or a kiss.
I’d watch one of those guys approach, and see the girls look at each other with a “Help me!” face, or I’d see them simply smile politely and then shake their heads and say, “What was up with that guy?” after he turned his back. To me, it was kind of sad, and I knew that I wanted more.
Luckily, I had some other role models that I could admire (on video and audio at least), but I still began to question the full potential of all the touted strategies. If these guys had taken years of focused effort just to get where they were—which wasn’t far, in my book—maybe I’d never be able to become what I really wanted to be, which was a genuinely successful seducer who knew how to attract and handle beautiful women.
Quite frankly, I wasn’t interested in just scoring “bragging rights” about quick little victories such as getting a good-looking girl’s phone number or a quick kiss on the dance floor.
I wanted more. I wanted to be the coolest guy in the room, the guy that gets the girl and also has of bunch of cool friends and a social life. Bottom line: I wanted it all. I wanted to be the real deal.
Needless to say, I had to reevaluate my motives and my expectations. I realized pretty quickly that my goal should be to “game” not like a typical pickup artist but like a “natural”—someone who exudes the qualities a woman would naturally be attracted to … someone who doesn’t need tricks and gimmicks or lies to make women fall for him.
Over the next few weeks, I met more of the same kind of guys—pickup artist wannabes who hadn’t yet mastered the game. Most of them I didn’t really want to hang out with, but I did meet two, Eugene and Conor, who were cooler than the others, and I tried to go out to as many bars and clubs with them as I could. At this point, unless I’d gone to a particular club or bar more than thirty times—which is a lot!—I still felt fairly uncomfortable with the environment.
Little by little, however, I was beginning to overcome my fear of talking to women, and a couple of times I even had some nice conversations, thanks to my inherent introvert skill of being a good listener. Eventually, with the help of Conor as my “wingman,” or social accomplice, I was able to get a few phone numbers in various clubs, but nothing came of them.
For example, one girl I was sure I’d meet for a date—after we’d had a great conversation, I took her number and we arranged to meet the next week at a salsa club—texted me to say she’d hurt her ankle at the gym. After that, I tried to meet her a few times, but it never happened; she always had an excuse. My education and practice in attracting women continued.
The next big realization happened several weeks later, when I was at a club with Conor. He approached two very attractive Swedish girls and seemed to settle in on one. I waited a short while and then joined them. Conor was totally focused on his girl, but I wasn’t having much luck with her friend. After sitting on the arm of her chair for a full hour, talking to her, and then finally finding a way to sit down next to her, I felt like I was getting absolutely nowhere.
I was getting no touching from her, and didn’t know what the hell I should do. My previous one-night stand in Singapore had happened only because the girl had touched my leg first; I’d just matched her moves with a few of my own. Frustrated now, I said to myself, “Fuck it,” put my arm around the Swedish girl, and went in for the kiss. Lo and behold, it worked; she was into it!
Now I know I probably could have made that move after thirty seconds rather than waiting a whole hour, and I probably could have moved on from the kiss to something more, but the point is that taking the initiative shifted something in my mind. I realized that women like men to lead; asking a
woman if she wants to kiss, or waiting ages to do it, is just unattractive. In this case I didn’t have the knowledge I have now, so I could have been rejected when I went for it—but if you don’t try, you won’t ever find out what you might have missed. (I should note here that lunging in suddenly for a kiss is a terrible thing to do. When you read the later chapters in this book, you’ll learn the way to do it smoothly.)
The next milestone happened one night when I was at a trendy dance club. The friend I was with identified a hot girl. She was tall, blond, and thin, with blue eyes—just my type. I went over and sat down next to her and started chatting away. After some teasing banter to challenge her, I lightly touched her leg and arm, and she reciprocated. I went for the kiss after about five minutes. Then I led her around the club: “Let’s go get a drink” became “Let’s dance,” which then became “Let’s sit down.” We got quite hot and heavy on the sidelines, and then I just got up, took her hand, and said, “Let’s go.” She walked with me, asking only, “Where?” I said, “Somewhere else,” and led her out of the club and over to my place.
An hour later we were in bed and getting it on. She left early in the morning to get back home, and I was buzzing. My god! I’d finally scored with an attractive girl—a perfect stranger—and within a matter of hours had persuaded her that I was good enough for her to sleep with. I was on my way.
In the days, weeks, and months that folowed, I worked furiously on my game. Now that I’d gotten a little taste of success, I was a man on a mission: to get as good at the pickup game as humanly possible. Night after night I went out and put into practice everything that I’d learned. Lots of what I tried didn’t work. But every now and again I’d come up with a new twist on an old technique, and when it worked I’d incorporate it into my skil set. As my game evolved, I became very, very good—a natural, or so it appeared. So good, in fact, that it was upsetting the people I used to go out with. While my wingmen would be prowling the club for their first approach, I’d be making out with a girl in the corner of the club. I moved on to sleeping with strippers. Then came models and actresses. Al the while my confidence and skil grew.
While some of my old wingmen were mad that I’d gotten so good, others began to approach me for help. They realized that although I had started “gaming” long after they did, my progress was much faster. And while everyone talked a good game, I was the only guy in my original circle of friends who was consistently sleeping with women who were hot enough to be on TV and in magazines. For the first few months I trained guys one on one, giving them lessons “in the field.” In other words, I would take them out with me and basically show them what I was doing. They’d ask questions; and I’d answer and then demonstrate. Wash, rinse, and repeat. Soon my students were getting results just as good as I was getting, and I realized that what I had was a skill set that could be shared and taught. Eager to get the word out to more people about what I had developed, and to help guys who were in the position I’d been in when I began, I started a website, puatraining.com, and offered my first ever seduction “bootcamp.”
PUA Training was born.
Since then it’s been a wild, wacky ride. I’ve trained thousands of “students” personally, released multiple best selling DVD training sets, been on just about every television station you can imagine, and been spotted and spoken to by students all over the world.
Whether I’m in New York, Buenos Aires, or Hong Kong, students recognize me on the streets and come up to me, thanking me for the information I’ve shared, often telling me about the results they’ve gotten using my teachings. I have to tell you, nothing is more humbling. The opportunity to change lives is what drives me, and these last few years have been an absolute blessing.
My goal in writing this book, the one you are about to read, is to impact yet another life: yours. My hope is that you draw inspiration from my own personal journey and then use what you’re about to learn to write your own.