The Mystery Method: Steps, Notes, & Review

the mystery method

The Mystery Method” is a system for meeting and seducing women developed by Erik von Markovik, also known by his nickname “Mystery”.
The Mystery Method” is also Erik’s first and most popular book, in which he explains in detail you can use his system.

Bullet Summary

  1. Attract in the beginning
  2. Build comfort in the middle
  3. Escalate to sex in the end

Full Summary

About the Author:
Erik von Markovik is a Canadian “pick-up artist”. From what we know from Neil Strauss’ book “The Game“, Erik worked as a magician before making a name for himself in the first online forum boards dedicated to “pick up”.
Erik von Markovik then started coaching and selling seminars to teach men how to meet and attract women, and he reached wider notoriety when Neil Strauss’ book “The Game” first came out.
Over the years, Mystery has faded somewhat into the background. Some say he lost control of his company after a legal battle, more entrepreneurial folks took over the industry -see “RSD by Tyler, and more natural-feeling and effective techniques emerged.
I also heard Mystery squandered the money he made, which happens more frequently to certain personalities than others.

Introduction

Erik von Markovik, AKA “Mystery”, says that the purpose of life is to survive and replicate.
To survive people learn martial arts (the art of war). To replicate, they can learn Venusian arts (the art of love).

The mystery method is divided into three phases with three phases within each. For a total of 9 steps.

The Mystery Method 1st Phase: Attraction

A1: Opening

Approach the group and make yourself the center of attention
Here are a few key characteristics of this phase:

  • Peacocking: using flashy and attention-grabbing clothes and features to attract
  • 3-second rule: approach within 3 seconds of seeing someone you like or you talk yourself out of it and/or lose your chance (Mel Robbins somewhat copied this rule for her The 5 Second Rule)
  • Neg: a backhanded compliment or a light insult to lower your target’s self-esteem and show that you are not impressed
  • Canned opener: the PUA of the days relied heavily on canned openers and opinion openers (ie.: asking questions about weird stuff)
  • False time constraint: say that you can only stay for a bit to avoid coming across as clingy and/or like you’re going to hound them
  • Body rocking: bob back and forth to give people the idea that you might be leaving soon (my note: this can make you look ridiculous if you overdo it or do it badly)

Also, read:

Cold Approach VS Social Circle (VS Tinder): Strategies

A2: Female-to-Male Interest

Create attraction with one of the following techniques:

Also, see:

A3: Male-to-Female Interest

  1. Confirm interest: If you’re doing a good job showing your value, she will start showing signs of interest. Confirm by reading the body language that she interested in you
  2. Qualify her: Once she shows interest in you, you want to qualify her and
    1. Go beyond looks: show that you appreciate her for something beyond her looks. Every other drunk guy can compliment her for her looks

Also, see:

Mystery Method 2nd Phase: Comfort

The goal of comfort is to make her comfortable with your presence.
You want to start the comfort phase when you are alone with her.

C1 – build rapport

In this phase, you will be talking about you two and about life.
You want to create rapport and a sense of common understanding.

The Mystery Method, again, focuses on a lot of routines to use such as:

  • The Cube: it’s a story you tell her, and then you read her personality based on the answers she gives
  • Esp Routine: make her guess a number between 1 and 4, and tell her it was “3”

Also, read:

C2 – build an emotional and physical connection

The goal of this phase is to double down on the emotional connection and start getting more physical by touching her more

  1. Touch her more: you want her to start being comfortable with your touches
  2. Calibrate your touches: if she likes it, touch more. If she pulls back, stop and talk more before going for the touch again

The early pick-up artists used to have problems with “how to kiss girls”.
Eventually, Neil Strauss, AKA by his nickname “Style”, came up with a routine for that one too:

  • Evolution phase-shift routine: tell a story of how animals start having sex, and kiss her as you tell the story starting from the forearm to the neck till you reach her lips (my note: this always sounded extremely corny and contrived to me)

Also, read:

C3- Intimacy

To start intimacy, you must be in a sexual location, and you start the process of intimacy by first making out.

My Note: You might even skip making out
Just like Alpha Male Strategies says, making out might not be necessary for sex.

The Mystery Method’s 3rd phase: Seduction

S1 – Foreplay

Before you begin with the heavier sexual stuff, Mystery reminds us that you must have built enough comfort.

The less comfort you have, the more last-minute resistance (LMR) you will face.
And if she is very uncomfortable with you, you can also get a full-out rejection.

S2 – LMR

Mystery dedicates one whole phase of his Mystery Method to dealing with LMRs.

The methods include:

  • Freezing her out: it basically means that you ignore her and pretend you don’t care anymore about her. The idea is to have her come to you once you stop pursuing her.
  • False takeaway: you pretend you are about to leave to make her come after you

Here is an example of a false takeaway:

Personally, I’m not a big fan of the “freeze her out”.
And the false takeaway is the equivalent of risking the whole interaction with one single move. It can work, but it might be a bit too risky considering that you are so close to the finish line.

Read here for more effective techniques for LMR:

10 Ways to Overcome Any Last Minute Resistance

S3 – Sex

This is the last step, and what the whole mystery method is built around: reaching sex.
However, the better you make that experience, the more likely it is that the woman will want to see you again.
Also, read:

Criticism

There is some good advice in The Mystery Method.

And it was the first modern book to bring Machiavellian strategic thinking into seduction.

I’d bet Mystery is also a beast at getting groups’ attention and some of the women in those groups.
He’s also generally right that many attractive women are not alone in night venues.

But there are important drawbacks to the Mystery Method, and to Mystery as a teacher in general.

Let’s start:

Mystery Wasn’t Good

There, I said.

He was a forerunner of the game.

He was the best… In the crowd, he was in.

But get some dating experience, and learn to read between the lines… And you’ll see the cracks.

Read on, and see if it makes sense.

Here is why:

  1. Mystery said you need 8h to sleep with a woman, something that any successful player knows is TOTAL BS. Anything faster is “a fluke”, said Mystery 😱 (and he was even doing night game!)
  2. Mystery slept with few women during his time at “Project Hollywood” albeit he was going out every night
  3. Mystery lost his one girl to “Herbal”. She played him, he fell for it.
  4. Mystery was collecting “go-nowhere numbers”. Mystery at a certain point declared that “phone numbers are wood”. Read between the lines. What does that tell you? It tells you that this guy must have gotten hundreds of numbers that went nowhere

Edit:
Mystery has been doing the podcast rounds in 2024.
Listened to one of them.
And, he hasn’t changed his mind or approach one bit. Still not recognizing other effective and proven approaches.
Young guy calls, says he’s got the skills down and he can get women back to his place within an hour. Mystery starts saying “that’s now how it’s done”. Guy replies “I’ve done that repeatedly”.
Hilarious.

A big, unwieldy system

Systems can be good for beginners and to make sense of a complex world.

But the Mystery method is not a good system.

Indeed my main gripe with the Mystery Method is not its simplified system of steps, but that it doesn’t really simplify seduction at all.
It might make it more complicated and less clear.

For example, the author used to say it takes “eight hours for a woman to be comfortable enough to sleep with you”, which of course is nonsense.

It can happen much quicker with a simple glance (or it can never happen at all, of course).
Approaching seduction with a whole list of consequential steps also makes it somewhat unnatural and doesn’t well describe reality.

Indirect-& Slow- Game As Default Approach

The whole Mystery Method is fully based on games and hiding interests.

There is little room for being direct or simply liking each other and/or just having strong sexual chemistry.

Acting on that chemistry or verbalizing your liking for someone when it’s obvious you both like each other can be much more powerful to move faster.

Only For Groups & Night Game

Mystery is all about groups.

I was shocked to hear a recent podcast, with a 50-year old mystery, talking about the “myth” of opening a girl by herself.

Here is this supposed “master”, calling a “myth” what I have done, successfully, over and over again.

And, even if you haven’t done it, it’s just logical:

What’s stopping you from opening and seducing a girl 1:1, rather than via groups?
If anything, it’s gonna be faster!

Mystery, relying so much on “opening and merging groups”, is also mostly about bars and night clubs.
He says that for the first 5 minutes, he talks all the time, even rambling.

By definition, it tends to be a highly social, high-energy type of game.

And that means that the Mystery method is not good for introverts or men who don’t want to do night venues.

To me, it’s a HUGE limitation.
Also because many of the best women don’t do bars and clubs.

Some So-So Techniques

Some concepts, in my opinion, are context-dependent.

For example “demonstrating higher value” through stories.
Can be great.

But with some women, it can be better to let them talk.

“Body rocking” can also easily make you look like somewhat of a weirdo with ADHD.

More Criticism

Some non-generalizable concept

Some ideas are good in principle or in some situations, but not good to adopt as your baseline behavior.

For example, being the center of attention at parties or in groups can work great sometimes.
It will certainly get you lots of, well, attention.

But attention does not equate to results.

Often it’s best to be the silent guy who only focuses on the girl he likes.

Also read:

Mystery takes good ideas to the extreme, where they’re not so good anymore

Some ideas might be good.
Like peacocking, for example.

Peacocking, as in “being seen” or standing out, is great.
I talk about it in my “scientific dating strategies that work“.

But Mystery often took it too far to be effective with the most high-quality women.

See an example of Mystery being too extreme:

https://youtu.be/J9w-gTj2eY4?t=215s

Conan: But she’s gonna be “no, that guy’s got binoculars, ‘m not going anywhere

Some concepts should not be your baseline behavior

The neg is per se a good idea, and it can work well.

I use it sometimes, too:

example of negging from the mystery method

And see the full explanation here.

However, not to be used at all times as your baseline behavior.

Indeed if you are an obviously cool guy, or if she likes you, it only damages you to neg her.

And if she thinks you’re too high value, negging her will only make you more out of reach, which will turn her bitter towards you.

Also, read:

You are better served instead of mixing power with warmth, thus that women will want to join you in your aura of high-value men.

But I see where Mystery is coming from: he used to be a club guy. And in that environment, because of numbers and environment, women almost always have more power than men.

Furthermore, Mystery might not have been the coolest guy, most popular, or richest guy when he started, and Negging might have served him well under those conditions -albeit I still believe he probably lost a lot of girls for negging too much-.

the mystery method

CONS

The made-up evolutionary psychology
One thing that always annoyed many -but not all!- dating books is the pseudo-science that goes into it. Most of all, of course,  evolutionary psychology.
Mystery often mentions evolutionary psychology, but not always correctly.

Braggart 
Some people said the author might have some self-esteem issues and narcissistic tendencies.
I have noticed a lot of ego posturing in the book.

PROS

  • The Mystery Method can be helpful to beginners: For its time, the Mystery Method might have been an eye-opener for many readers. And I suppose it can still be, for some
  • Some good concepts of dating power dynamics: some stuff is good, including:
    • Nudging her to show interest
    • Qualifying her
    • Qualifying her for something different than their looks
    • Rewarding her for good behavior
    • The time constraint

For all of them though, one should know when it’s the right time to use them, and when it’s better to go direct and honest.
For example, there is no point in telling women you’ll leave soon if they are happy that you’re there.

Review

The Mystery Method can serve to help you understand some power dynamics in seduction.

It’s also been a forerunner text, that has gotten many more people into the PUA industry and improved its theoretical foundations.
There are plenty of ideas in Mystery’s method.

However, I don’t think it’s a good system to follow: it overcomplicates things.

I would give it 4 stars for some good ideas, but since overall I think it’s more likely to put guys on the wrong course, I rate it overall lower.

Check the best dating books for guys or get the book on Amazon

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