Mark Manson’s dubious “5 to 10 minute screening” technique

Note: I just came across this post, which I wrote four years ago but apparently never posted. The context was, once again, PUA shilling on my old blog, which strangely enough completely stopped after the commercial PUA industry collapsed.

Recently [edit: in early 2013!] someone left the following comment on my blog, attempting to justify indiscriminate approaching, and spinning rejection in a positive way:

“[Mark Manson’s] “method” is to approach every girl you are interested in, screen them (5 – 10 minutes) and if both of you don’t feel it, move on. But when, build an emotional connection with her and escalate. So rejection is seen as a filter process”

There is a good chance this was merely a comment left by a paid shill, since Mark Manson has been moving up in the Internet marketing world and adopting more of the Tim Ferriss strategies, but let’s discuss this in some detail anyway.

First, it’s absurd to say that if both (!) don’t feel like it, you should move on. If she doesn’t like you enough, but you are keen on getting her, you should move on too, since you won’t make her attracted with your PUA bullshit. Second, the “screening process” is completely distorted. You don’t have five to ten minutes to talk to her. Instead, the initial “conversation” may last just a few seconds because if she’s not interested, she’ll ignore you, or give you some very clear signs. Of course, PUAs aren’t exactly known for their ability to read people, so they experience that the girl went to the toilet and never returned, or attempt to analyze the conversation they tried to have with that girl, hoping to identify how they could have done better. Yet, it’s impossible to “create attraction”. Those losers were done before they even approached her, yet stuck around for a humiliating five to ten minutes, ignoring that the girl was really uncomfortable with their presence.

There is a big difference between a woman who is interested in you, and one who only briefly enjoys the validation she gets from some chump hitting on her, or one who is only polite. Your best bet is “testing the waters”, and if she doesn’t give you anything to work with, you just move on since you’ll be wasting your time. However, Mark Manson claiming that there is a 5 to 10 minute window is dishonest at best. If the two of you are still talking to you after two minutes, it’s because she is one of the following:

– she is at least somewhat interested in you
– she is bored but enjoys the attention
– you’re a klutz who doesn’t get that if she doesn’t make eye contact, doesn’t let you touch her, and looks at her phone every ten seconds she’s very uncomfortable with your presence

Further, the whole “5 to 10 minutes screening” makes it sound as if it’s some kind of business transaction. No, you don’t sit down with some random woman and talk about some random shit with her, only to figure out, after that time period, that she’s the one or not. Whom are those PUAs kidding? Her interest in you is primarily sexual (at first), and so is yours in her. Talking about anything particularly serious ruins the mood, and any attempt at contrived conversation will only ruin the mood for the both of your.

Here’s a serious question for the PUA shills: Assuming that you guys ever have had sex with a woman, did it ever occur to you that the person you just gave an orgasm turned into a much different person afterwards, quite possibly a lot different from when you met her, hours ago in a bar or club? People take some time to open up to each other, and sex is a prime facilitator of intimacy. Without sexual intimacy, however, you won’t be able to really get to know her. This doesn’t happen in five to ten minutes of small talk, and it doesn’t happen during dinner dates either. Of course, guys who have very little or no experience with women don’t know about this since all they ever experienced was the rare one-night stand with some drunk chick.

16 thoughts on “Mark Manson’s dubious “5 to 10 minute screening” technique

  1. Could you go into more details on how you’d test the waters. Is it just a shorter process where you decide in 10 seconds instead of 10 minutes?

    1. Yes, it’s a very short process. I cover this in Minimal Game as well as in Club Game.

    2. Correct me if I am wrong. Testing the waters involve making a ever so small move somewhat out of the ordinary (stressing on out of the ordinary) and seeing how she reacts. In a warm approach scenario, that would be to say something to her (for example in a club you can say “Having fun tonight?”) so she can reengage you and show interest in talking to you more if she is attracted to you already. The term testing the waters is very commonly found in the culture I was born into. So, I would say hearing this from Aaron and my success with it is both nostalgic for me. Although, Aaron explains it way better in his books.

    3. The reason I ask is because when I wrote my review on clubgame, that was the one thing I mentioned:

      Basically, it’s the perfect book, except the one chapter/topic I found wasn’t “perfect” was the “testing waters” page. It’s not clear what you mean by the idea.

      I personally can guess what “testing the waters” means based on deductive reasoning (comparing to what I learned in minimal game). Based on what I learned (and applied in real life) from minimal game, I came up with “the levels”:

      So I’m guessing “testing the waters” is similar to “the levels”. It’s just never spelled out exactly what it is (how it’d be different than what manson does). It’s assumed the reader will connect the dots based on experience from minimal game.

    4. Alek, I think that testing the waters would be the transition from one level to another.
      Personal experience:
      A year ago I was trying to get a job. I wasn’t alone, there were more people waiting to be interviewed.
      As we were filling the work appliances, I noticed that one girl on my side was glancing me. Not the “I’m shyly looking at you” look, she was checking me out, scanning my body.
      I decided that this was enough to act, so when I caught her scanning me again, I just waited until our eyes met. BAM! She seemed really stunned that I caught her and she gave me a huge smile, kind of a “whoopsie, you got me” smile. After we ended filling the appliances, I started to talk with her. As I expected, she was quite eager to talk and was pretty much warm with me.
      We went from Level 0 to Level 1 or 2, I dunno, just because I dared to engage. She could scan me, glance me, do whatever girly “look at me” BS she could pull to try gaining my attention, but if I didn’t tried to engage, none of this could ever happen. And no, we know most girls would never make an over move to try upgrading the potential relationship to the next level.
      Yes, all this thing is quite much based on trial and error, finding a niche and creating a set of heuristics so you can (try to) breeze thru the levels.

    5. Great comment! However, keep in mind that girls normally try to escalate the relationship status, while your job is to escalate from hi to sex.

    6. Testing the waters requires to be aware of the context of the situation, the kind of girl you’re engaging, and the level you have with her.
      You can’t slap her ass if you’re just meeting her, in the middle of a public park. And you can’t ask girl to a date if you’re meeting her in a club, with some cocaine in her nose and a nipple slipping from her dress.
      Maybe what I’m saying is a no brainer and I’m just being repetitive.

  2. I am pretty sure Manson has reinvented himself as a columnist and self-help author.

    PUA is still a big thing in some areas where guys compile field reports on approaching hundreds of girls. There are not nearly as many field reports on getting laid. The checklist of things to do when approaching a girl is staggering – “Eye contact, maintain frame, relate man to woman, kino, etc., etc.” It is not hard to see how this would screw somebody up as it is pretty hard to function if you are trying to keep 30 or 40 things in mind. The field reports where guys actually have sex are also full of PUA principles, where success is attributed to proper use of techniques and the ability to master “shit tests”. Reading between the lines, it seems in most cases the girls were already into the guy, and the fact that things progressed is falsely attributed to what the guy was doing.

    I got into a fairly prolonged debate with one poster where I pointed out that when girls were interested, they probably would not insult you a whole lot. He explained that women were evolutionarily programmed to shit test men to determine if they really were “Alpha” and could protect them before they would have sex with them. He got fairly irate when I asked how verbal skills could establish one’s hunter gatherer and survival/warrior skills. The conversation ended when I asked if there was any scientific research on this practice of human females to employ adversarial behavior to pre-select mates.

    1. That was an old post. Mark Manson seems to completely focus on the self-help niche nowadays, but I don’t keep tabs on him.

  3. I’ve read Manson’s stuff and this doesn’t really sound like a good description of it. I think the point Manson made is it’s better to be up front about your interest and if you get rejected faster as a result, that’s good, b/c you’ve avoided (or screened out) an interaction that just would have wasted your time vs if you tried to be indirect and didn’t show interest until hours into the interaction.

    1. What I was trying to say is it doesn’t sound like the thing you quoted actually accurately describes Manson’s advice. So you aren’t really arguing with Manson but some random guy on the internet.

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