The network approach and the shotgun approach: why and when girls flake in dating

Consider two Hollywood screenwriters: one is fresh out of school and knows no one, or almost no one, in the business, but he’s written a couple of screenplays and, for the sake of this hypothetical, he’s got some talent. He gets to Hollywood and what’s he going to do? He’s got no connections anywhere in the business, although he’s read lots of those memoirs about how other guys made it, so he sends his screenplays to every single player out there. Writers, directors, agents. The vast majority don’t reply, and he doesn’t get even a rejection. Damien Chazelle, Chris Pratt, Chris Hemsworth, all the Hollywood “Chrises,” Ari Gold, they all say “no” by saying nothing. Somehow, though, someone bites, a little… Jonah Hill let’s say… and Hill or Hill’s people like the SF action pitch—reminds them a little bit of a modern Pitch Black, but could the writer make it funny, too? Maybe they’ll pay him a little bit for this, but, compared to the work he’s doing teaching spoiled brats the SAT and waiting tables, it’s a lot of money. He has no idea how to make it a comedy but he starts work, cause what else is he going to do? His other screenplays go nowhere. He starts a novel at the same time.

Then there’s our other screenwriter. He’s in the business… maybe he got in through family connections, a working writer in a school saw potential in him, he got lucky, whatever. He knows some people in the business, and he’s been working on a screenplay that he knows will be right for someone, let’s say Chazelle for purposes of this hypothetical. He’s already met Chazelle at industry functions, maybe done a little blow with him in a bathroom, whatever. Both of them think T.C. Boyle’s novel DROP CITY would make a great movie but neither has ever been able to get it made. Our screenwriter says, “You know, we could never do DROP CITY right, but I’ve got a kinda similar story, set in the ’80s though, against the AIDS crisis, we should do it.” Chazelle reads it, likes it, has some suggestions, they work on it together for a while. One or both of them know the right actors for it. Their agents like the project. In effect, our screenwriter #2 is never really rejected. He’s a known quantity to others in the business, working with other known quantities. Now, the project may fall apart… maybe Ryan Gosling hates Chazelle now for some reason… but screenwriter #2’s journey is nothing like screenwriter #1’s. If you ask each about the nature of being a screenwriter, they’ll have wildly divergent opinions.

The application of game to this metaphor ought to be obvious, but since this is the Internet let me spell it out: the raw cold approach guys are #1. They often have limited network/friend circles. They don’t do that much cool shit, or “cool shit” as hot chicks would define it. They’re guys I’m talking to in Parties, and Festivals, parties, etc. and the network’s power, and other things like that. I have some things in common with them because I’ve done some cold approach… but for the past ten or twelve years, it’s not really been my modality… I’ve focused more on sex clubs, which are themselves a kind of network. Sex clubs + non-monogamy are also fun cause I can slot new chicks into that network, if I meet the right chicks and such. I also like doing them.

The guys doing more social circle and warm approach are more like guy #2. Often, these guys have been building out their friend networks since high school or college. They often have good social skills, which explains why they’re not spending lots of time talking to rando strangers online. A lot of their dates and lays come from parties and friends of friends. Maybe they’ll talk to some new girls on the street or on mass transit occasionally, or at bars, but when they meet new girls/people, their goal is often to show those new girls/people the full extent of their world, and their world is really cool. For girls, sex is usually a social experience, and girls like to be able to evaluate a guy’s social world.

I’ve done both these models. The guys in world #1 open tons and tons of chicks. Almost none bite. They are often talking about the capricious and random nature of chicks. Their connections to chicks are often very tenuous, at first. Cold approach will generate more flakes. The girl knows nothing about you and has no context for you, or who you are, and there is no network blowback if you behave poorly. In a normal social relationship, if a guy behaves poorly, the girl will put out to her network that he sucks. If the network agrees that he sucks, his network will shrink. And the reverse is true too. If you say, “She’s a psycho lunatic who slashed my tires cause she misinterpreted a text from my sister as being romantic,” and it’s true, her friend circle will shrink, and she’ll hop online to Hinge to ensnare more guys into her psycho universe. Those are extreme examples that illustrate the principles.

The guys in world #2 probably sleep with fewer total chicks, but they also get many fewer flakes. By the time they move on a girl, the girl’s probably already interested. She’s seen him in social settings. She knows his friends and he knows hers. The guy might ask her to get a drink at a bar and she might say no, but she’s unlikely to say yes and then flake out. She probably also knows that the guy is cool and in demand, so if she says no, another girl will soon say yes.

Guys in world #1 and world #2 may talk past each other, a theme elaborated in What do I mean by “levels” of game/seduction discussion?

If you read the anthropological literature and ignore the many anthropologists who are sadly Marxist idiots, you’ll find that, for the overwhelming majority of human history, we lived in relatively small bands and groups. Even cities of more than 10,000 are relatively rare in human history, until recently. We lived in a world of a dense social feedback: if A does something bad to B, B will tell a lot of A’s confederates. If A is sufficiently badly behaved, A will be punished, perhaps with death, or exile (exile being equivalent to death for most humans). If A is a man, A’s opportunities to get or retain a woman might be eliminated, too, which is effectively death for his lineage. Among women, punishment may differ somewhat: she may be starved of resources. Her children and family might suffer. If she behaves badly, her husband and/or family may discipline and punish her.

We’re exquisitely tuned to social censure because social censure is such a huge part of human evolutionary history. The modern world is weird because it engineers situations in which we encounter strangers all over the place, all the time, and we lack social feedback mechanisms against them, and they lack those feedback mechanisms against us. A lot of online organizations are trying to generate artificial versions of social feedback mechanisms… often quite clumsily or poorly, however, but that’s a topic for another time.

When you cold approach a chick, you’re implying to her that you’re most interested in no-strings attached sex. The right chick at the right time might be up for it, or might hope for more. Traveling tourist girls play a major role in many game guys’ stories for obvious reasons. No-strings attached sex for you, however, also means “no-good-social-behavior attached” for her. If she flakes or ghosts or whatever, who cares? You’re not in her social world. You primarily want sex from her, which she knows. She might want sex from you, but she might also want attention, options, entertainment, etc. If she’s in your social world, though, and you’ve been flirting with her, and then you ask her out, and she says yes, she’s not beholden to you, but she’s had time and space to evaluate you.

The better parts of the non-monogamy, sex-club world are highly reputationally based, a theme I’ve covered in the book and in many posts, and which I’m not going to repeat here. It’s somewhat closer to the “random lay” world, on average, but the regulars do get reputations, and guys/couples with good reputations will get many more opportunities than guys without them.

A lot of game guys are weird isolated loners, and their generalizations are consistent with them being weird isolated loners. Very few socially rich guys want to write stories about getting laid, it seems. I’m somewhere in between the “weird isolated loner” that is typical of pickup guys and the socially rich guys who are fraternity presidents and such. I’m pretty weird compared to normal people but very normal compared to guys writing about the game. They’re guys like screenwriter #1, who never grow into screenwriter #2.

Notice too that I have never said, “one way is better than another.” Cold approach can work. It will probably maximize lifetime lays more than guys working and growing their social circles. Learning social skills & sense for an older guy who lacks them is beyond the scope of this post. In some ways, “social skills” are like reading… kids who are 3 – 5 years old can learn “reading” in that they can read some picture books or whatever. But people keep working on “reading” as a skill throughout undergrad and PhD programs, in some sense… math is the same, a 5 year old can count and do basic arithmetic. But it takes decades of skill building to get really really good. You have to break the situation down to its most component-like parts while also building it up to the heights of abstraction. That’s hard. It’s why there are no shortcuts, a theme we’ll address later.

I think guys learn/imbibe from many Hollywood movies and TV shows that it’s common to meet a hot chick at a party or something, be awkward or whatever, and hook up with her 20 minutes later. A TV show like CALIFORNICATION is an extreme example of this. That happens and can happen, but realistically most hot chicks aren’t running around saying, “Boy, I hope I can have random hookups with dudes I know nothing about and who have very limited social worlds.” For most chicks, and most people, sex is a very social act, and if game, as described and practiced by anti-social guys online, short circuits many of those social behaviors, we get frustration. How things are depicted on TV and in movies is frequently not how they occur in real life. Maybe never. In movie fights, the guys hit each other in the head like 15 times… ha… try that in real life. You won’t last, the other guy won’t last. I have a book coming out called THE GOOD GIRL that is supposed to be much closer, IMO and IME, to a model that’s more common in the real world… even the book, though, doesn’t include the level of rejection and random behavior that real-world cold approach entails.

In Hollywood, too, the top actors and directors and other guys (not screenwriters, though they have a well-developed fantasy life) probably _can_ get a lot of hookups with random hot chicks… fame can substitute for social life… but that sort of thing is relevant to like 1% of the population. The rest of us do our work.

Online dating by the way incorporates many of the dynamics from cold approach (CA): no social worlds in common. Evaluation is difficult and based on pics (=superficial). No social feedback mechanisms. Guys think there’s a cornucopia of hot willing chicks available on demand. And then much of it works poorly. There are no shortcuts. Or rather online dating seemed to me to work all right until ~2015 and then the market was flooded.

A lot of guys, pre-online-dating, barely got rejected at all, I think… because they took relatively few shots. But they also didn’t get laid too much.

To repeat, online and cold approach can, and do, work. The above does argue that there is no such thing as a free lunch and these mechanisms set up interactions that can default to anti-social behaviors. Armen Alchian, of the Alchian–Allen theorem fame, used to like to say, “You tell me the rules and I’ll tell you what outcomes to expect.” Well, you tell me the rules/principles of cold approach and online, versus warm approach and building social circle/networks, and I’ll tell you what outcomes to expect… they’re the outcomes we see. For most guys, including me, “There is no easy way: there is only the hard way.” What you see in TV shows is not like what you see, for the most part, in real life.

There is only one way, the hard way, but sometimes people get the causality backwards: if it’s hard it must be worthwhile. There is no easy way, but a lot of hard ways are stupid. Compounding is the only sustainable way to wealth in money and life. Get a little bit better with women every day, improve your fitness a little every day, your knowledge, your social world, your sexual acumen, and it might take ten years of consistent progress till you feel true wealth. The best time to seriously think about your social network is age 14, the next best time is right now. We forget sometimes, there are only so many hours in the day, and guys can’t master all things, all the time. Assuming you’re getting enough sleep, dieting properly, exercising, meditating, and pushing on a rewarding career (or, if you’re working a shitty dead end job to the pay bills, maybe your side hustle is the passion project, until you can make it your main hustle), then how you spend those remaining few hours every day, it’s tricky. You can’t have a family AND a ton of friends AND go out and party all the time AND day game for hours on end AND do all your online shit AND go to cool events AND keep up with movies, music, reading. Something has to go at some point, decisions have to be made. For me, the common time-wasters that go are TV and social media… or rather I do both sparingly. If there is a TV show or movie that I suspect will be awesome, I’ll watch it, but never out of idleness or “I don’t know what to do.” Same thing of social media. Maybe 10 minutes a day will yield whatever benefit it might yield.

If you’re gonna go the day game route, AND you have a full time job (for instance), you’re just not gonna have as much time to build out a proper full on social circle, which means your dating experience (from street pickup) is gonna be wildly different (like “different planets” different) from someone who doesn’t work a full time job, doesn’t do day game, and spends the bulk of their hours going to parties and events within their extremely large and diverse social circle (that they’ve been cultivating for years). The inputs are completely different, so the outputs are gonna be as well.

Most of the men’s development stuff online focuses on cold approach and such. Imagine a different perspective (which, again, I am not advocating for, I am talking about it): 75% social circle, 25% online, something like that. Chicks are met through friends, and then, as one Red Quest reader describes it,

after we’ve hung out a few hours (in big groups) and I know the vibe is on, I invite them out for a drink or a bite, or I just invite them over to my place (if I know it’s a done deal), flake rate is near zero. Online: I swipe right rarely, match VERY rarely, but when I do it’s like a few texts back and forth, break for a day or two, more texts, another break, hey let’s get off this app, over to straight up text messaging, phone call / FaceTime, THEN date plan. By the time the date is set the chick is pretty solidly “in” at that point, so again, flake rate zero. Not to say it can’t happen, it just hasn’t happened yet. But at the same time, hearing from guys who are shotgun approaching chicks on the street, and only have just a few min to get the chick invested, yeah I can see why the flake rate is NOT zero, given that set of inputs. You’re going after a lot more chicks, rolling the dice a lot more times, and so your results are gonna be a lot more random and less predictable for sure.

They’re both routes. And, to be clear, one can (and does) get rejected in social circle game as well… not as often, for guys who don’t squeeze the trigger until the crosshairs are firmly over the bullseye, but sometimes chicks are just full of shit (surprise), and the “vibe” she’s putting out (that you’ve been enjoying for a little while) is her plying you for attention, until the end of the night, when you go for the bounce, and she’s like “Oh no, I couldn’t, my boyfriend…” blah blah blah. But I get the sense that “rejection” differs from “flaking,” crucially.

I’ve probably done more “network,” more of screenwriter #2, than cold approach. I also like chicks and, when I find one I really like, I want to keep her around for a while. That’s where the non-monogamy thing comes into play, because it’s a way of keeping a girl in my life and bed while also feeding the need for novelty. I’m not saying it’s the right route for everyone (far from it), but the lack of guys talking about it online tells me about what’s missing from the conversation. When I started writing on Reddit and then moved here, I thought I was going to unlock a ton of guys’ potential and hear a lot of feedback about how these strategies affected them. That has not been the result, and the lack of result has drawn me to conclusions like this one. The skills aren’t really out there, being built and developed. But I seem to have a pathological desire to tell the game story, so here I am, still doing so… as xbtusd observed, I seem to have a need to scream into the void at idiots. He is a man who understands paradox and, in doing so, he understands life & the game.

If you’ve liked this one, you should read The deep psychology that keeps men in the game, a relatively early essay from The Red Quest but a vital one.

Author: The Red Quest

How can we live and be in society?

4 thoughts on “The network approach and the shotgun approach: why and when girls flake in dating”

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