The other night my roommate Zack took me to a mini seminar by a guy who calls himself Tariq “Elite” Nasheed. He is the author of a book called, “The Mack Within.” Nasheed is a dating guru. While I haven’t read much of his literature, based on what my roommate has told me and what I saw at the seminar, he preaches the message of inner-mackdom (my word, not his). He distills what it is about the traditional mack/player that is able to succeed in the world, in particular with women.
Several years ago, I’d been turned on to similar philosophical schools as Nasheed through the best-selling book “The Game,” written by Neil Strauss. Strauss was a successful writer who had no game—i.e. he had little success with women and what he did have was always reactive, taking what was given to him rather than pursuing what he wanted.
Strauss’s message appealed to me. While I’d ostensibly had some “luck” with women, I was very similar to him in that the relationships I did engage in were always reactive versus proactive—oftentimes, the women ultimately chose me rather than the other way around. This left me at the mercy of who would pick me. Several longish relationships were based on this reactive process: I stayed in them because the woman wanted me to. If I’d been honest with myself, and moreover if I’d had the balls to voice my feelings, these relationships would have ended on the first couple dates.
Strauss and others through out the then revolutionary assertion: what if you could learn to attract the type of women you desired?
Strauss’s book is mostly his narrative that describes his journey from an initial interest in the pick-up artistry (PUA) to becoming a master pick-up artist (mPUA…there’s lots of lingo in this community). He interspersed the narrative with instructive passages—tools and techniques to garner the attention of women.
I tried some of his methods. Even a modest application yielded great results. I was getting dates left and right. I was picking up women on the subway and (in the case of my ex girlfriend) airplanes. I’d always senses that I had an inner mack, but there were a few things I did that consistently shot me in the foot: I wouldn’t project myself, I’d think an approach to death, I wouldn’t create a sexual context for a relationship (thus coloring the interacting in the “let’s just be friends” category), I’d apologize for who I was, I’d qualify myself (asserting why you should get to know me, rather than just being someone worth getting to know), and many more things.
After investigating the PUA community, I found this guy David DeAngelo. DeAngelo got away from the routine and technique intensive approach that Strauss focused on in his book. He talked more about masculinity in general, and how when you’re a man with a plan, women are spontaneously attracted to you. “Attraction is not a choice,” is his big tagline.
I made a lot of progress in this department, but apparently my work wasn’t done.
I met my ex, as I said, on an airplane. One of the main things I’d gotten into the habit of what is called “controlling the frame.” Controlling the frame means that you control the world you inhabit. For example, if a girl wants to talk about reality TV and you don’t give a shit about it, you can assert your reality onto the conversation, basically negating her reality in favor of your own. The point is that you put your best foot forward. It’d be disingenuous of me to feign interest in reality TV, and I’d look like a douche if I did. Douchiness = no girl.
My frame was spirituality. I love to discuss our spiritual selves and our conscious evolutionary processes. Accordingly, we had a conversation about the difference between empathy and compassion in the aisle of a commuter flight from Sarasota, FL to NYC. She gave me a ride home from the airport in her car, we made out before parting and that was it. She was sold.
But was I sold? Did I want to be in a relationship with this girl? She was nice, pretty and solvent. But I wasn’t so sure, and the more we hung out, the less sure I became. There were many intellectual and philosophical rifts that just didn’t seem surmountable. I saw them early, but chose to ignore them because for all the progress I thought I made, I still was being reactive in the relationship: I was letting her choosing to be in a relationship with me trump my choosing to be—or not be—in a relationship with her.
Two years hence, living together for one of them, I made a choice: I did not want to be in a relationship with her.
It wasn’t her fault. She expressed her desires and I didn’t. I was a man without a plan.
In the nine months or so since we split, I’ve been focusing on asserting my choices in relationships in general and with women in particular. It hasn’t been that easy. I still often revert to reactive modes: I react to my unconscious need to be wanted rather than my conscious desire to develop deep relationships and partnerships with women; and I let a woman’s choice of me be more important than my choice of her (an historical precedent forged in my need to please my mother). Like I spoke about yesterday, I want to have the power to respond to situations, rather than being in these reactive modes.
At present, I’ve got about a half-dozen women in my life (with varying degrees of intimacy). Most of them are sold on me. They’ve chosen me, which, considering many of these girls are cool and accomplished and cute, is flattering. But have I chosen any one of them? Am I still letting their choices be more important than mine?
I was with one of these women last night. She’s super cute, stylish, accomplished, but I see in myself the same sort of willful ignorance that I demonstrated a few years ago—looking past some red flags (nervousness, neediness, lack of similar interests) because she’s cute and she totally digs me.
And this brings me back to Nasheed and the mack within.
Turns out that Nasheed is an mbPUA (master black pick-up artist…my term, definitely not his). His message is particularly geared toward black men and the audience reflected it: my roommate and I were two of three white guys present. He dealt with issues of self-hatred and marginalization that often pervade the black man’s consciousness—issues that affect a man’s ability to stand up for himself in the face of the world and of women.
And while the fashion and the lingua franca may have been a bit different from the rarefied world I inhabit, the message was clear and applicable to all me: make a fucking choice and be man enough to express it. If your choice is Mary, choose Mary and let her know. If your choice isn’t Mary, don’t be a pussy and let Mary run rough-shot over you just because she likes you and you don’t want to piss her off or disappoint her. I’ve tried avoiding disappointing women in the early stages of relationships with women, only to majorly disappoint them later.
But it all comes back down self-control. Am I able to control myself, my reaction, my breath, my body, in the face of situations that evoke certain unconscious desires and memories? I won’t give a simple yes or no, but merely be in this question. I’m meeting with a couple other girls today. All I can do is bring the intention of bringing consciousness and presence to the interactions, and try my damndest to unleash the mack within.