What Is a Wingman? PUA Strategy Relies on Friends

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What is a wingman, and what does a wingman do? In pickup artist culture, the wingman refers to a friend who supports a pickup artist, and helps him pick up women.

When you ask “what is a wingman” you also have to consider the many different PUA strategies that might incorporate the use of a wingman differently. Asking “what is a wingman” can possibly help you identify PUA strategies when they’re being used.

What is a Wingman? Neil Strauss Meets Mystery

So what is a wingman? On the first night of Mystery’s workshop, Neil met Mystery and his wing (aka wingman), Sin, in a hotel lobby. 

As they waited for the other trainees to arrive, the men compared the number of women they’d each slept with. Neil had been with six women, Sin with sixty-something women, and Mystery with hundreds. As proof of his credentials, Mystery gave Neil a manila folder containing photos of several of the women he’d had sex with.

When the rest of the trainees had arrived, Mystery gave the men a few instructions for picking up women in the clubs: 

  • Approach pickup like a video game: Pretend it’s not real, and just go for it. 
  • Don’t let emotions and overthinking trip you up. If you feel uncomfortable, just ignore it and don’t let it affect your actions.
  • The key to seduction is simply performing a series of steps. The mentees would just need to learn and practice the steps. 

On the first night out, Neil clumsily tried the Mystery Method. Part of this was learning what a wingman is. As Neil approached and spoke to a woman, Sin whispered tips and instructions into Neil’s ear. For example, Sin told Neil to use kino (short for kinesthesia, which meant to incorporate physical touch) and put a hand on the woman’s shoulder. Neil’s execution was awkward and flawed, but he still got a kiss on the cheek, which gave him a boost of confidence in himself and in Mystery’s tactics. 

By the final night of the workshop, Neil had made progress. He approached a group using one of Mystery’s pickup lines: “If I wasn’t gay, you’d be so mine.” Although he felt ridiculous delivering the line and using Mystery’s other strategies—such as wearing an over-the-top hat, per peacock theory—it seemed to be working. 

Neil managed to charm the woman, and the two of them walked out of the club together. Neil suddenly remembered Sin’s advice to use kino, so he put his arm around her—but she pulled away. 

As Neil debriefed with Mystery and Sin, the PUAs explained that Neil had violated cat string theory and come on too strong. When Neil put his arm around the woman, he’d taken away the thrill of the chase. It was the same logic behind ignoring a woman when first approaching her group of friends, talking to her over your shoulder, and consistently acting somewhat disinterested. Successful PUAs behaved as if they were the prize, not predators. 

Although Neil felt a bit discouraged about his misstep, Mystery and Sin told him he had great potential. This was beginning to help him understand things like “what does a wingman do?”

Neil Hones His Skills

Just a month after Neil entered the seduction community, Mystery asked him to be his wing in Mystery’s upcoming workshops. Neil accepted, and Mystery dubbed him with his pickup alias: Style. 

Style had just six weeks before the next workshop, so he started training rigorously to improve his game. He read books on a range of related subjects, including body language, social dynamics, NLP, magic, and mind-reading. 

Style also worked on his appearance and presentation: 

  • He corrected his gestures and posture to make himself appear more confident.
  • He took singing and speech lessons to make his fast, muffled speech slower and clearer.
  • He wore bright clothing and flashy accessories—including fake piercings, feather boas, and light-up necklaces—based on Mystery’s theory that eye-grabbing garments attracted women. 

Style constantly went out sarging (hitting on women) with other men in the community so that he could study their sarging techniques in order to emulate them. 

Style began to discover that confidence was a critical part of the game: PUAs needed it to complete successful pickups, and they gained it from their successes. Many newcomers to the community had spent so many years failing with women that they had no confidence. 

Style Becomes a Wingman

It was the first night of Mystery’s workshop, and, as Mystery and Style prepared to take their students into the club for some on-the-ground training, Style felt intense pressure to prove himself in front of Mystery and the students. 

Style had a chance to put his skills to the test when a pair of gorgeous, confident-looking women walked into the bar. Style was nervous, but he knew all of the strategies—now he just had to use them with confidence, or else the women would see right through him. He thought about what Mystery and his wingman might do.

Style thought strategically. A successful pickup was a multistep process: 

  1. Approach: The women were facing the bar, so Style approached on the left side of the so-called obstacle, who sat between him and the woman he wanted to pick up. 
  2. Get in position: Style recited an opening line, and, meanwhile, he thought about how he would maneuver around the obstacle to get next to his target. When the women responded well to his opener, Style said that he wanted to show his target something, which was a ploy to move next to her. 
  3. Join them: Now Style needed to find a way to sit down, because if he spent too much time standing over the women, they would start to feel uncomfortable. Since there were no open stools, he instructed his target to stand up so that he could perform a trick—and, as soon as she did, he sat in her seat. 
  4. Develop rapport: Style joked with his target that he’d stolen her seat, and when she joked back, he knew he hadn’t overstepped. 
  5. Create a false time constraint: Style told the woman he had to leave soon, in order to ease any concern that he might hang around all night.
  6. Number-close: When Style’s artificial time constraint was up, he told the woman he’d like to see her again while he was in town. With no further prodding, the woman wrote down her number and handed it to Style. 

Style’s performance demonstrated not only his credibility, but the credibility of the Mystery Method, giving the workshop students hope that, with some training, they could achieve the same. This also helped him understand what a wingman is.

Style Develops His Own Techniques

Style had mastered how to pick up women, but he struggled to go any further; he was too nervous to attempt a kiss. This is part of what a wingman could do, and something Style could rely on other PUAs to help with.

He posted to the seduction message boards, asking for advice—and he received an array of tips, from holding the woman’s gaze for three seconds to instructing her to take her pants off in order to give her a leg massage. Style took pieces of the advice and developed his own strategy; it worked flawlessly every time. 

Style had cleared another seduction hurdle, and his confidence was growing. However, he began to realize that he was increasingly objectifying women. Men in the seduction community constantly rated women’s attractiveness, and each man’s status in the community was measured by the quantity and the attractiveness of the women they could pick up. 

Style had begun to view women as benchmarks of his pickup ability, and his interactions with women had become scripted and strategic, substituting for genuine connection. 

So what is a wingman, and what does a wingman do? A wingman in PUA culture refers to the person who supports the pickup artist. It also depends on the type of PUA: a wingman is typically the person who supports a pickup artist, helping him achieve his goals using his chosen strategy.

What Is a Wingman? PUA Strategy Relies on Friends

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Neil Strauss's "The Game" at Shortform.

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

  • The secrets of the Pickup Artist community in seducing women
  • How key Pickup Artist leaders fought with each other and split the group apart
  • What author Neil Strauss took away about women from his years of training

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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