Mark Manson: Models (Book Overview)

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Models" by Mark Manson . Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

What is Mark Manson’s book Models about? What is the key message to take away from the book?

In his book Models, Mark Manson argues that the key to attracting women lies in “non-neediness,” or inner confidence. Women desire a man whose sense of self-worth depends on how he judges himself rather than how others judge him. 

Below is a brief overview of Mark Manson’s book Models: Attract Women Through Honesty.

Models: Attract Women Through Honesty

Known for books like The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, Manson initially gained the attention of other men due to his success in seducing women using traditional pick-up techniques. These men started to ask Manson for advice just as Manson was realizing that these techniques, while useful, weren’t necessarily healthy. Dissatisfied with these techniques and wishing to understand more about why women liked him, Manson started to study dating. Eventually, he concluded that men were struggling to succeed with women partly because they lacked “models” that taught them how to do so—and so he wrote Models to help them.

(Shortform note: Many viewed Mark Manson’s book Models as his attempt to transition from the pick-up community to a more mainstream audience. Some found this transition distasteful, arguing that Manson decried pick-up techniques despite the fact that these were the techniques he’d originally used to win over women and his promotion of these techniques made him famous.)

The book teaches you how to attract and have sex with women based on those models. In this guide, you’ll first learn what inner confidence is. Then, you’ll learn how to develop the three essential keys to attracting women: cultivating a satisfying life, overcoming your worries, and being vulnerable. These keys will help you in all stages of your relationships—even if you’re not heterosexual or male. Along the way, you’ll discover how Manson’s recommendations compare to advice from other dating experts.  

(Shortform note: Though Manson mentions that the book can help everyone in all stages of relationships, his advice is primarily geared toward straight men who want to attract and have sex with women instead of those who want a long-term relationship. Our guide reflects this.) 

Understanding Inner Confidence

According to Manson, women desire men who embody “non-neediness,” or inner confidence—in other words, a man whose sense of self-worth depends on how he judges himself, rather than how others judge him. 

Manson emphasizes that inner confidence doesn’t mean that you totally disregard others’ judgments. Rather, it means that you care more about your own opinion than that of others. When dating, this manifests in a willingness to adjust your behavior as much as the woman does—but no more. You’re focused on how you feel about a woman, so you’re not willing to change your behavior excessively to accommodate her. In contrast, an unconfident man bends over backward for the woman he desires because he needs her approval in order to feel good about himself. 

That said, Manson emphasizes that you must actually be confident—you can’t fake it. Most modern dating advice teaches men to portray themselves as confident. For example, they might recommend waiting three days before texting a woman back to give her the impression that you’re busy (even though you’re not). However, this advice usually backfires in the long run. Initially, you might successfully convince a woman that you don’t care that much about her opinion and thus attract her. But eventually, you’ll inevitably express behavior that demonstrates that you actually care much more about her opinion than you’ve let on—which will lead her to lose her attraction to you.  

How Inner Confidence Helps You With Women

Now that you’ve learned what inner confidence is and why women like it, how can it help you  attract women? 

First, Manson explains that inner confidence attracts women because it signals that you are “high-status,” or high-value, which women find attractive. Women evolved to desire high-value men because the higher the man’s value, the better he could provide for his offspring. 

Back when the factors we use today to gauge a man’s value—like money—didn’t exist, women gauged a man’s value based on his confidence. In hierarchical tribal societies, low-value men had to care about what (higher-value) others thought of them to ensure their survival. Conversely, high-value men were able to disregard most others’ opinions. Therefore, in the modern day, if you’re unconcerned with others’ opinions, a woman perceives you as high-value; if you’re concerned with their opinions, she perceives you as low-value. 

Second, Manson explains that by developing inner confidence, you’ll more efficiently build deeper connections with the women you desire. When you develop confidence, you’re able to view rejection as a benefit: If one woman rejects you, it only means they wouldn’t have been a good match, and you now have the chance to find someone who is. 

When you don’t fear rejection, you’re more willing to “polarize,” or push women into deciding how they feel about you, which Manson argues is the key to male dating strategy. You’ll inevitably encounter some women who are clearly disinterested (whom you should ignore) and some who clearly desire you (whom you should approach). 

However, most of the women you meet will be initially “neutral,” or lukewarm in their feelings toward you—in other words, she doesn’t know yet if she likes you. But if she remains lukewarm too long, she’ll likely grow disinterested. So whenever you meet such a woman, you should push her out of that mindset by doing something that makes her immediately decide whether or not she’s interested—like asking for her number

Manson explains that pushing has two main benefits: First, it demonstrates confidence—so doing it to a lukewarm woman ups the chances that she’ll grow interested. Second, pushing improves your efficiency: If the lukewarm woman decides she doesn’t like you, she’ll let you know quickly—and then you can move on to finding and building a connection with someone else.

How to Develop Confidence: Live Authentically

So how do you actually become confident? Manson argues that you must grow comfortable with vulnerability, which he defines as the ability to courageously live according to your own truth. When you’re comfortable with vulnerability, you’re willing to express yourself despite the risk that others may not approve. In this way, you demonstrate that you care more about your own judgment than you do about others’ and thus embody confidence.

To develop vulnerability, Manson explains that you must force yourself into situations that make you vulnerable. You can do this by living “honestly,” or authentically: When you’re living by your own truth, you’re automatically vulnerable because you’re presenting your authentic self to the world despite any potential negative consequences. In other words, you only develop the ability to live according to your own truth by actually living according to your own truth. 

In this section, we’ll discuss Manson’s three keys to living authentically: Develop a satisfying life, overcome your worries, and learn to express yourself well.

Key #1: Develop a Satisfying Life

According to Manson, the first key to living authentically is to develop a baseline life that satisfies you. This means that you know what you desire out of life and are actively working toward making those desires a reality. 

Manson explains that developing such a life is critical for two main reasons. First, it demonstrates confidence because your life is a reflection of your desires instead of others’. For example, instead of living in a town you hate because your parents want you close by, you live in a town you love. 

Second, the baseline life you have determines the kind of women you’ll attract. Manson argues that you meet and attract women who are similar to you. For example, if you’re a couch potato, you’re unlikely to meet or draw the attention of a fitness nut. Even if you do meet at a bar and start a conversation because you’re physically attracted to each other, you won’t have enough in common to sustain a relationship. Therefore, if you want to meet and attract high-value women, you have to become a high-value man.

Become Physically Desirable

First, you must become physically desirable to the women you want. Start by focusing on your wardrobe: Wear coordinated clothes that fit you well, since these will make you look polished and presentable. These clothes should match your lifestyle; a city slicker in hiking boots looks ridiculous. Then, review your diet and gym routine. Exercising regularly and cutting out junk food from your diet will improve your looks quickly.

Manson suggests that changing how you carry yourself and how you speak will also improve your physical attractiveness. When you walk, you should straighten your back, keep your head up, and look people in the eye. When you speak, you should lower your voice, slow your speech, and raise your volume: People should be able to hear you easily. 

Develop Your Own Interests

Second, you must develop your own interests. Manson emphasizes that attractive men have rich lives. Not only do they have varied hobbies, but they also know why they like what they like because they developed their tastes on their own instead of inheriting them from their friends. So expose yourself to various pursuits—and as you do so, think critically about why you like (or dislike) each one.

When you’ve cultivated a rich life and various interests, think about the kind of woman you want and how to meet her. Manson recommends that you envision your ideal woman: What is she like, and where does she hang out? Then review your own interests: Which hobby of yours could you pursue in a way that helps you meet the women you want? For example, if you like to read and want a well-read woman, you could join a book club. 

Once you’ve discovered how to pursue this hobby, start doing so and become a leader in that environment. Manson explains that, by nature, humans view you as higher-status if others also view you as high-status. However, this status is environment-dependent. For example, a famous Chinese celebrity might walk unknown through the streets of San Francisco—until he arrives in Chinatown, where people recognize him. So if you want the women you like to view you as high-status, you should take on a status-boosting position in the place where you meet them. Using our previous example, you wouldn’t just join the book club; you might become the guy who decides where the book club happens. 

Key #2: Overcome Your Worries 

The second key to living authentically, according to Manson, is to overcome your worries about pursuing women and then actively pursue them. When you don’t pursue a woman because you’re worried she’ll reject you, you embody non-confidence: You’re prioritizing her potential judgment of you instead of acting on your own truth (your desire to approach her). In contrast, by actively pursuing a woman, you embody confidence: You’re acting on your own truth—even if you’re afraid that she’ll reject you.

Manson warns that if you don’t overcome these worries, you’ll likely handle them in a potentially problematic way. Notably, you might hold women responsible for your fear, which can create damaging prejudices. For example, if you’re afraid to speak to women, you might fool yourself into thinking that the reason you don’t talk to women is that all women are too stupid to talk to you. Alternatively, you might tell yourself that you don’t know how to talk to women yet and need to learn more flirting tips—which prevents you from practicing and improving your real-life skills. For example, you’ll read yet another dating book instead of going on Tinder.

That said, overcoming these worries doesn’t necessitate that you get rid of them entirely. As Manson points out, worry is a normal emotion that you’ll never eradicate. Rather, to build confidence, you must learn to act despite any worry you might feel. Each time you do so, you’ll become a little bit braver.

For example, if you ask a woman you’ve never met out on Instagram, you should write, “I know this is a little weird, but do you want to meet in person sometime?”’ 

How to Act Despite Your Worry

So how do you get yourself to act despite your worry? Manson suggests that the first step to overcoming these worries is to identify exactly what scares you. The most damaging fear is the fear of approaching a woman because unless you can speak to a woman, you’ll never forge an intimate connection with her. However, you may be scared of other things, like asking her out once you’ve gotten her number.

Second, select the tiniest possible version of the thing that scares you. Repeat this tiny thing daily until it’s not hard, then make it slightly harder—until you eventually work up to doing the major thing that scares you. For example, say you’re scared of having conversations with women. Instead of trying to force yourself to talk, make a goal to simply smile at three women each day. Once you grow comfortable with that, add just one sentence, like “Have a nice day!” when speaking with, say, a female barista. Slowly work up to adding more sentences until you’re comfortable with a full-blown conversation. 

Key #3: Express Yourself Well

According to Manson, the third key to living authentically is to “communicate honestly,” or to express yourself well. Manson suggests that this is a two-part process. First, you must be authentically vulnerable. Second, you must convey that vulnerability effectively.

Why does authentic vulnerability matter? As we learned earlier, women gauge your value based on your confidence. Manson explains that, to judge your confidence, women decide whether you’re expressing vulnerability—which they do by reading your “intentions,” or objective. If your objective matches your behavior, she’ll trust you when you convey your attraction to her and so will be willing to explore it. But if your objective doesn’t match your behavior, she’ll notice this mismatch and grow distrustful of you—so when you convey your attraction to her, she’ll feel unsafe and want to leave. Therefore, if you try to communicate vulnerability—but your true objective is to sleep with her—you’ll turn her off.

However, Manson notes, it’s not enough to be authentically vulnerable; you must also be able to convey yourself effectively. Miscommunications happen in all situations—romantic and otherwise. But if you’re able to convey your attraction effectively, you minimize the chances that a woman misinterprets you and maximize your chances of building a deeper connection with her.

So how can you express yourself well? Manson suggests several techniques for the 

four stages of attracting a woman: the introduction stage, the conversation stage, the dating stage, and the physical intimacy stage.

1. The Introduction Stage 

Manson recommends that you calmly walk up to her from the front (you don’t want to scare her). Smile and introduce yourself with a simple opening line, like “I’m X. I think you’re hot so I wanted to say hi.” Don’t stress over the exact words! At this stage, she’s merely deciding whether you’re confident and have an honorable objective; a needlessly complicated line will make you seem unconfident and seedy. If women regularly don’t give you the time of day at the introduction stage, something’s wrong. Double-check that your objective is honorable, that you’re expressing confidence in your approach, and that you look good.  

2. The Conversation Stage 

To converse well with a woman, Manson suggests that you master three main skills. The first skill is sharing information about yourself. To grow comfortable with sharing information about yourself, practice talking for a minute about several topics on which you two are likely to connect—such as your background or your future goals.

The second skill is getting her to share information about herself. Manson suggests that you learn to make declarations instead of asking questions. For example, don’t ask where she’s from; guess where she’s from based on an observation. By doing so, you practically guarantee that the conversation continues. If you’re wrong, she’ll correct you or ask why you guessed that; if you’re right, she’ll be impressed and want to know how you got it right. Making declarations also allows you to direct the conversation with potentially off-topic statements, which helps ensure that the conversation doesn’t stop because you can’t think of a new question. 

The first and second skills help you because they provide you with more opportunities to find something in common and increase the intimacy between you. 

The third skill is showcasing your sense of humor. This conveys that you’re confident enough to laugh without obsessing over others’ opinions. People enjoy different types of humor, so just try to be funny in the way that you think is funny—for example, some people enjoy sarcastic comments, while others enjoy puns. Focus on finding a woman whose sense of humor complements yours rather than trying to convince someone else that you’re funny. If you’re not funny, study famous comics to improve your ability to make women laugh.

3. The Dating Stage 

After a successful conversation, you can move on to the dating stage, which begins when you ask a woman for her phone number. Manson notes that some women will give you their phone number but not respond to or go out with you—either because they’re not genuinely interested or for other reasons (like they’re busy at work that week). You can reduce the possibility of getting the number of a woman who’s not interested by only asking for her contact information if she seems to like you—which she’ll demonstrate via signs like stroking her hair or paying more attention to you than to her friends. But after your first meeting, it’s hard to tell whether she’s lost interest or she’s genuinely distracted.

Therefore, Manson recommends giving every woman three chances. After meeting someone, message her within 24 hours to say it was nice to meet her. The following day, text something relevant to your previous conversation. Build a little rapport if you can, but focus on scheduling a date. If she blows you off at any point (such as by not texting back or missing a date), you can try again (like by texting again)—but if she does so three times in total, move on to someone else.

Assuming you do successfully schedule a date, how should you proceed? On your first date, Manson suggests that you schedule four to six consecutive activities—most of which involve something active and opportunities to touch. For example, you might get hot chocolate, walk through a holiday market, go ice skating, then grab donuts. The more activities you do with someone, the greater intimacy you build—and the greater your chances of having sex. You can also improve your chances of having sex by scheduling your date at night and doing the activities close to either your or her place. 

4. The Physical Intimacy Stage 

If the date is going well, how do you take things further physically? Manson explains that women are turned on by being wanted. Therefore, it’s essential that you demonstrate how much you want her by touching her. So take the lead and push forward unless she asks you to slow down or stop (or is clearly incapable of doing so because she’s incapacitated in some way). 

Manson recommends that you start touching her during the conversation stage. Start by touching the outer edge of her body (like her shoulder), and pay attention to how she responds. If she’s smiling a lot, looking at you, and putting herself nearer to you than she needs to be, she’s likely into you.

The next step is to kiss her. Manson explains that if she’s interested, she’ll likely touch you or purposefully manipulate the situation so that you’re alone together (such as suggesting that you get some air and leaving her friends in the bar). That said, men are mostly oblivious to female signals of desire—so if you do perceive that she’s open to you kissing her, she’s likely sent you several signals already and so you should just kiss her. When you kiss her, be gentle and caress the rest of her body as well. And if she turns the kiss down, ask why—she may not be ready or she may merely be uncomfortable with your location. 

Finally, escalate kissing into sex. Manson suggests that you start by touching her breasts—if she’s enthused, she likely is willing to have sex. To be good in bed, Manson suggests that you do three things. First, during foreplay, create anticipation, which will heighten her arousal: For example, brush your fingers against her nipples before pinching them. Second, dominate her: Giving up control turns women on. Try physically moving her around or talking explicitly about what you’re doing. Finally, communicate with her: Be open about what you like or dislike, and learn to laugh if things go awry. The better your communication, the more intimate you’ll feel—and the better sex you’ll have. 

Mark Manson: Models (Book Overview)

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Mark Manson 's "Models" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Models summary:

  • How a heterosexual man can attract a woman in the modern world
  • The three keys to developing inner confidence
  • Why you should stop fearing rejection

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *