What Women Want, formerly known as Mate, is a field guide for men to achieve dating and sexual success.
- Work on yourself based on what women scientifically want
- Go find women the type of women you like where they are most abundant
- Win-win is possible, and that’s what you should aim for
About the Authors: Geoffrey Miller is a professor of evolutionary psychology and also the author of “The Mating Mind“.
Tucker Max achieved fame writing about his drunken sexual adventures and misadventures, then collecting lots of sexual notches as he became famous.
Intro: Much Dating Advice is Twisted
The authors say that much of the available dating advice either has some twisted ideological agenda, or lacks any scientific rigor.
They specifically mention feminism and manosphere misogynists, and I agree with.
They even mention religious zealots, but that was so far off the wall for me that it never even registered.
Say the authors:
In sexual politics, feminism’s gain is patriarchy’s loss. This zero-sum way of thinking assumes a perpetual “battle of the sexes,” and sadly, it is common in both gender feminism and the manosphere.
The Five Principles of Dating Success
- Make decision with science
- Account for the woman’s perspective
- Own your attractiveness
- Be honest (with yourself, and with others): if you lie to yourself, you’ll never get what you want. And honesty in a world of liars makes you stand out
- Play to win-win
And when I read these principles I knew that “Mate” had the potential of being a great book.
Play for Win-Win
The authors remind that if relationships exist at all, it’s because partnership can work.
Otherwise, they wouldn’t exist at all:
If human mating wasn’t mostly a positive-sum game that yielded “win-win” experiences and relationships, then neither sex would agree to play the game in the first place.
I couldn’t agree more.
And on the mistaken view of the “battle of the sexes”:
This “battle of the sexes” view is totally, completely wrong. It is counterproductive, counterintuitive, and counter to thousands of generations of evolution. That is why we endorse the opposite principle: Your mating goal is to find and create “win-win” relationships, where both you and the woman are better off because of your interaction.
To be precise, there is an element of conflict between the sexes.
But the forces for unity are stronger, or cooperation and relationships wouldn’t have evolved at all -but they did-.
And since, as Tony Robbins says, you find what you look for, you should absolutely avoid looking at intimate relationships as battlegrounds.
So the PowerMoves stance is simple: know the areas of conflict, and use them to play win-win.
And when I read this part, I know this book had the potential to make into the “best dating books” list:
Don’t think of mating as fighting women for victory. They are not your enemy. Think of mating as finding women who want the same things you want—so you can both win.
The 5 Steps Process
The 5-steps process is:
- Get your head straight: get the right mindsets, replace old models with correct ones
- Develop attractive traits: based on science and what women truly seek
- Display attractive proof: learn how to showcase your attractive traits
- Go where women are: move where you are most likely to meet the women you like and where your traits are most appreciated
- Take action
To build self confidence you need to first acquire the skills.
You need to learn to do the things you want to show confidence for, then prove to others and to yourself that you can do it.
The best way to be confident before you can make it is not to “fake it till you make it”, but to develop trust in the process.
The trust that you can learn and get good at it. This is a growth mindset.
If you are feeling down because you don’t get the results yet, you shouldn’t force yourself to “suck it up” and “get over it”.
First, acknowledge and accept your feelings. Name them.
And then develop that growth mindset, which will tell you that you can acquire all the skills you want and grow out of your frustrations.
Understand what it’s like to be a woman: they have very different perspectives
Interacting with a woman, men are worried about being rejected.
Women are afraid of being assaulted or physically harmed.
My Note: Women feel vulnerable because of rape danger, not just size
The book proposes that women feel vulnerable because of the size difference.
And to prove the point, it says that an average guy would feel very vulnerable to a big NFL player. But I don’t feel vulnerable to bigger guys, albeit I’m very small. I think female vulnerability is not only in size, but because they are the sex that can be impregnated by someone whom they didn’t choose.
Miller says that women who send mixed messages aren’t (necessarily) trying to manipulate men.
But they are sending mixed signals because from one side they might be interested, but from another side, they might still be fearful.
This is a good observation.
Many women who were attracted to me were also too afraid to come over. And that’s why building comfort and rapport is indeed an important part of courtship -especially with more fearful women-.
Also, keep in mind this: women experience weirdos in far higher number than men do. So, women often get an unnaturally distorted, negative view of men.
Other differences include:
- Women are more skittish about sex because they’re afraid of pregnancies
- Women are more afraid of STDs because they’re more likely to one, and they are more likely to be serious
- Women care far more about how you smell than men care about how she smells
The different Threshold for Sexual Disgust
The average guy wants to do with women things that the average woman might find unappealing, because women have a lower threshold for sexual disgust.
Women are not sure what to do when men push them to do things they don’t exactly feel too aroused for.
Will men leave them for some kinkier woman?
And if she does it and does it poorly, will he like her less?
And if she learns to do that stuff, will that make her too slutty?
She might also feel bad knowing that her father would want to disavow if he ever knew what she’s doing.
In my experience, most women who like a guy and submit to him will mostly just go along with whatever boundary he’s pushing.
But it’s true that they will worry whether his attraction for her will change after whatever act they’ve been doing.
Short-term, medium-term, long-term: what’s your strategy?
There are plenty of women looking for short-term and casual sex, so you don’t need to lie or pretend that you’re only doing long-term.
Conversely, it’s not true that men are all looking for short-term and plenty of men are more inclined towards long-term relationships.
First of all, you should know which one you want and prefer, so that you can adjust your strategy.
And you will avoid mistakes, like hurting yourself and others.
Miller drafted a quiz to help readers find out what’s their main disposition.
I modified that quiz and added a few questions based on my own experience.
You can find here:
- Find out your mating disposition (it’s on the advanced forum for subscribers only)
Short-term requires much more work to get sex before you always need to find a new partner.
The “costs of acquisition” for sex are very high in short-term. You need to go out, approach, take rejections, find a girl who likes you, and then lead the interactions till the bed.
Something that will only happen for a small fraction of your approaches.
Tucker and Miller say that a healthy long-term relationship is one of the best things you will ever experience.
Empirical evidence shows that younger guys tend to be happiest with medium-term relationships involving lots of sex but not so much commitment.
Older guys tend to be happiest with committed relationships, as in marriages. Tucker and Miller say that marriage is the biggest predictor of happiness for me. And they’re not saying that because they want you to get married, but because that’s what the evidence says.
My Note: Happy marriages make you happier
It’s true that married people tend to be happier than unmarried ones. Yet, I think that one should not generalize too much because a marriage can cut both ways. Choosing a bad partner can be disastrous. That’s why I place so much emphasis on this website on recognizing the traits that make for a good spouse (same for partners and friends).
The Moral Code
Tucker and Miller propose a set of questions that will help men build their own moral code, and decide what’s ethical and what’s unethical.
Some of the questions include:
- The “everyone knows” heuristic: If people you cared about knew what you’re about to do, would you still do it?
- The hero/villain heuristic: If you watched a movie where a guy does what you’re about to do to a woman, would the audience support you or boo you?
- The YouTube heuristic: If she recorded the whole scene with a hidden camera and posted it to YouTube, would you be ashamed or proud?
When you know where you stand morally and ethically will make you more confident and will increase your own self-respect.
What Women Want
Across the animal kingdom, there are only four high-level strategies that males have found to work:
- Honest mating effort
The most reliable and the one that is most likely to give you a good relationship, is the last one.
Your goal is to make you as attractive as possible, given the proven criteria of choice that women have.
Women’s criteria of choice depend on evolution, cultural traditions, individual personalities, and context.
The most romantic words a man can say are not “I love you” or “I am sorry”. But it’s these:
Don’t worry honey, I got this.
Women want men who are effective at life.
And for long-term, they want men who are willing to use their effectiveness to deliver benefits (ie.: defend, support, and provide).
To be attractive to women, men need to be effective in all the domains of life: health, family, friends, work, play, and knowledge.
The questions that women ask themselves when it comes to assessing effectiveness are:
- Do you carry good genes?
- Would you be a good partner (even a woman cruising for sex will feel less slut-shamed for sleeping with a guy she can fantasize as being a great boyfriend)
- Would you be a good dad?
Ideally, a guy has all three, but women will settle for one above the other depending on their own mating goals.
How do you improve your effectiveness?
The first step to improve your sexual market value is to work on your ineffectiveness. Such as: since women are risk-averse, the downsides will get you out of the race immediately, and they matter more than upsides.
Instead of focusing on reaching the top 1% in all fields, focus on not being on the bottom 10% of each one of them.
The keys to attracting women
- Get physically fit: sleep, nutrition, exercise are the three keys to phyisical fitness
- Avoid sugar and grains, eat unprocessed foods
- No need for big muscles, women are attracted to physical effectiveness, not physical narcissism. To workout properly go heavy and fast. Intensity is key
- Get mentally fit: the key indicators are happiness and contentment, sense of humor, playfulness, openness, mental resilience and adaptability
- Enjoy small pleasures, do gratitude exercises, meditate
- Make better friends, do more of what you enjoy and less of what you dislike
- If you need it, go for psychotherapy (both the authors did it)
- And most of all: stop complaining!
- Get smart: intelligence is attractive, but it must be conveyed intelligently
- Sense of humor, conversation and storytelling, creativity and creative skills, teaching and explaining, let them talk more
- See: mating intelligence (article inspired in large part by this book)
- Get your life together: willpower and conscientiousness, turning dreams into goal and working them to make them real
- Reframe your willpower: from having to do hard things and give up good things, to “taking care of the future you” (this was genius and I will add it to my “Ultimate Power” ebook)
- Work hard, but don’t become a workaholic (no monk mode)
- Don’t work hard to the point where it’s damaging you, learning to switch off is a skill: your long term success depends more on your mental health than on doing 10% more today
- Show willpower and conscientiousness with sexual restraint: if the girl is delaying sex, remain emotionally grounded
- Become a Tender-Defender: the good mix of agreeableness and assertiveness
- Extreme agreeableness (pushover) and assertiveness (dark-triad / violent dominance) are both repelling
- Just like men want a “lady in the street, a whore in the sheets”, women want a strong man who is kind to them
- Be stronger and more assertive than the “nice guys” and better, more caring than the assholes
- Women are attracted to displays of real altruism—empathy, thoughtfulness, generosity, and sacrifice—that deliver concrete benefits to people in need. That’s why they like doctors
- Agreeableness is important because conflict is costly, and it should be avoided whenever possible
- Women want and benefit from a kind man who can also be strong and decisive to protect her: that’s the sweet spot of the “tender defender”
- Social Proof: social proof provides women with important signals based on how others treat you
- Practice being warm and outgoing
- Do make friends with both sexes
- Making friends is all about adding value. Indeed, social proof just answers this question: does this guy add value to people’s lives?
- “Mate copying” leverages social proof from other women, which why you shoulnd’t be afraid of being friends with other women
- Get some money: it’s a shortcut to self-improvement and lifestyle improvement
- Aesthethic proof: aesthethic proof is a signal of intelligence, status, and conscientiousness. It can also serve as a signal of resources and fitness (fitting clothes)
- Fix the most common mistakes in grooming like nose hair, bad breath, bad hygiene, dirty house and car
- Romantic proof: this is mostly important for long-term dating
- Narrowcast by showing you like her, not a thousand women
- Pay attention to her
- Escalate your commitment gradually and slowly
Don’t ignore mental health!
Many guys focus on physical health and money, but few guys focus on mental health. But mental imbalances are a biological turn-off and mental health and fitness are very attractive.
The book also focuses on how to display those traits. While I don’t agree with all of those ways, like for example the “fun and physical” dates types, I found it very useful.
Pick Your Best Mating Markets
Few pick-up and dating resources focus on this aspect.
And that’s one of the reasons why I don’t rate many dating resources very highly: they are simply missing on the bigger strategy.
Luckily, “What Women Want” does deal with mating markets. And does so very well.
A mating market is defined as:
A geographically defined local dating zone that operates on the supply-and-demand dynamics of free markets in order to yield win-win outcomes
The ideal mating markets for you have these features:
- A large number of women of the age and ethnicity you prefer
- A low operational sex ratio (fewer men than women seeking mates)
- A subculture open to your mating goals (short term or long term)
- A market in which your mate-value is competitive, compared to the other guys there
- A market in which your age is especially attractive
- A market in which your distinctive traits and proofs are especially attractive, given the women’s preferences there
- An environment in which it’s easy to meet people
For more, read:
To Meet Women Easy, Make Your Mating Life an Extension of Your Social Life
Miller says that bars and clubs are not good places to meet women for most men.
And since rejection can be hard, he proposes an approach where you simply do a lot of social activities and meet women as you go about your busy social schedule.
Speed dating skews towards an older and professional crowd, but if you fit the bill, it can be extremely effective.
Online dating is also one of the most powerful tool, and he teaches how to filter dating markets in OKCupid.
Strong Men Are Sincere
If you’re looking for short-term, you can say it.
Just do it in a socially intelligent way. You might say that one day you might want a girlfriend, but for now, you’re only interested in meeting new people without anything getting too serious.
In a world of liars, that will be refreshingly new for her, and she will respect it.
This type of honesty changes the frame of the interaction. From the typical games men play, to a new conspiracy of daring truth-tellers.
And if you’re looking for a relationship, do say it on a second date that you’re open for a girlfriend, if the right woman comes along.
And on the tenth, you can say that your mating goal is getting married.
More Bullet Wisdom
- Avoid pick up lines
- With attractive women, focus on their personalities
- Even attractive women are often self-conscious
- Do make a positive impression on her friend and she will be happier to see you because you will provide her with a status boost in her group
- Women fantasize about being sexually dominated and controlled by handsome, caring, and strong men. But men misunderstand this part, and treating her curtly outside the bed is not the way to go
- Don’t put pressure on her to orgasm: she will feel like she has to fake just to make you happy. So stop making her orgasm a sign of your virility and instead focus on enjoying yourself
- Don’t specialize in useless skills: culture-specific intellectual proofs like chess or games rarely provide much benefits in dating
- Conversation in mating contexts is about indirectly signaling your underlying traits
- To approach conversations well, think of yourself as a host: gently guiding the conversation towards mutual satisfaction
- Change your approach from “getting sex” to “just having fun”: it will take the pressure off, make you more charming, and lead to more success
- To women, a great guy who won’t commit is an extra-dangerous source of potential heartbreak and disappointment
- People can enjoy sex and relationships no matter their mating value
- Penis size matters, but all the other traits as a whole matter more
- Pay for the first dates: research shows that the majority of women want men to pay for the first dates. Paying shows signs of kindness, generosity, and material proof
On getting rid of your goal of “making her come” and on stopping to put that pressure on women:
If she just wanted to come, she’d have stayed home with a bottle of white wine, Fifty Shades of Grey, and her vibrator. If she’s with you, it’s because she wants more than just an orgasm. She wants a sexual connection. She wants to feel sexually desired.
On the importance of physical fitness:
Physical health matters at a deep biological level (..). When she meets you for the first time, this is what she is evaluating when she sizes you up, whether her gender studies professor likes it or not.
On the importance of enjoying life:
Women don’t adopt boyfriends out of pity (they do that with puppies); they want a guy whose happiness cup overflows into theirs. Enjoying life is hugely attractive to women and a signal of good mental health.
On dominance without kindness:
Offering a woman nothing more than dominance is like challenging her to eat a spoonful of pure cinnamon—she might give it a shot, but she’ll gag and cry in the end.
On money as signal of quality traits and money as in “just money”:
One is worth $75 million because he happened to win the Powerball jackpot when he was an unemployed school bus driver. The other is worth $7.5 million because he built his own company from the ground up and now has ten employees and thousands of customers.
Who would you rather go home, out, to the altar with? Multiple studies show that women choose the entrepreneur
On the importance of a good sense of style for men:
Awesome male style isn’t just a new gay thing; it’s a very ancient straight thing.
On the importance of getting along mentally, and not just physically:
This is where Kim’s vocal fry, and Angelina’s compulsion to turn her family into a UNICEF ad, might start to grate a little.
On the importance of penis size:
If we lived in a species where females chose males just for penis size, we would have evolved tiny brains, no humor, no civilization, no love, and no courtship beyond standing up straight and naked, pointing to our huge members
On learning to accept one’s lust and sexuality:
The harshest truth of all you need to wrestle with is that if you’re ashamed of your lust, you’re ashamed of yourself. And you’re ashamed of masculinity in general. It’s not enough to respect yourself as a human being. You also have to respect yourself as a man.
Respect for women does not need to, nor should it, compete with respect for yourself or your sexuality.
When relationships work well, it is precisely because the man respects the sexual nature of his female partner and the woman respects his male sexual energy as well.
- More for relationships than hooking up
Albeit the book presents itself as both for committed relationships and casual sex, I find it to be far better suited for the former than for the latter.
If you seek casual sex, you should complement this book with more resources.
- More geared to “typical provider dating”
The book is slightly more geared towards the typical dating style of a provider than of a lover.
But, for dating with a provider frame, it’s very good.
- Discouraging at times: more on the “can’t” than “can do” side
Of course, sometimes it might be true you can’t do this or that, I don’t think it’s necessarily a helpful mindset to have.
And, as well, I found “Mate” at times a bit too disempowering. And doing so, sometimes, with a certain aura of superiority.
As if to say: you either got this, or screw you. It feels a bit Spencer-like on that (Spencer was the philosopher of “social Darwinism“, later usurped by the nazis).
For example, when it reminds people that you can’t do much about your physical limitations.
Or when it says that if you got dumb parents than you’re going to be dumb.
But dumb and overweight can people can still be successful. I think putting a note on the possibility of achieving success no matter what would have made “Mate” even better.
- Sometimes more about what would be nice than about what’s true
Say Miller and Tucker:
Don’t worry about the unattainable, irrelevant, or repulsive forms of social proof like fame, wealth, or class. They are not the most efficient ways to attract women.
Sure, they might not be the most efficient ways of attracting women because they are hard to achieve.
But once you have them, they do are some of the most efficient and reliable ways of attracting women.
- Seeks entertaining with cursing language
I’ve never been a big fun of using curse words to be funny.
It feels like Bart Simpson level of humor, ie.: childish.
And you can find that type of humor in “What Women Want”.
Maybe Tucker Max wanted to insist on the old habits that gave him success.
Or maybe the duo wanted to be on the cruder side to look more “authentic”. But sometimes, they overdid it.
You’re likely to end up about as smart as the average of your two parents. But if your parents are idiots, chances are that you will be too.
I don’t like that attitude.
It also seems elitist.
Or talking about masturbation, the title of the chapter is “go fuck yourself”. I didn’t find that particularly funny either.
But this is just a small note, partially irrelevant to the content, and it might be just me.
- Sometimes it’s unnededly caustic towards pick-up community
The authors say that pick-up artist “kino escalation” is predatory, psychopathic bullshit.
And then they say that the only way to continue is through a natural, mutual progression of sexual tension.
Which is pretty much the same as good “kino escalation” done well.
I agree that the mindset behind some pick-up advice is either psychopathic, stupid, or even counterproductive.
But that doesn’t mean that all pick-up advice is bad. Kino escalation in the sense of getting her used to your touch is important, especially for beginners who never touch their dates at all.
- Jason Statham VS Johnny Depp: who gets the hottest girl?
The authors say that dominance and assertiveness can be more important than attractiveness. Especially when she’s at her peak fertility.
The example is that Jason Statham, whom I had to Google, and Johnny Depp walk into a club where nobody knows them, Statham is the one who is going to get out with the hottest girl.
About this one, I wouldn’t be so sure.
Johnny Depp is not just a cute face. Depp is also extremely edgy, in his own way.
- One of the best books on the fundamental traits that lead to attraction
- One of the most scientifically sound books on dating and attraction
- Deep and useful wisdom for self-development that also goes well beyond dating (especially on willpower)
“Mate” is one of the best dating books when it comes to the fundamentals.
Both when it comes to the fundamentals of what women want, and how you can work on them.
And that’s why I rank it so highly. It’s one of the best entry books or newbies, but even more experienced guys will learn from it (I did).
What Women Want Review
I feel that “Mate”, later called “What Women Want” is a heavily underrated book.
Part of the reason is the marketing mismatch.
With Tucker Max on the cover It was somewhat marketed to the wrong audience, and the content felt like a “bait and switch” for some readers.
Indeed, most of the negative reviews to “Mate” come from red-pill men (I know that by the content of their reviews and their review history, which includes testosterone supplements and raving reviews for “The Rational Male“).
They somewhat resent the more collaborative, sexual win-win frame of the book. But they also complained about Tucker Max U-turn.
Well, I see their point, actually.
This book with the Tucker Max name on it, it feels very incongruent. It feels like an exercise in “do as I say, not as I do (or did)”.
You know, like the drunk guy who had a lot of fun drinking and now teaches kids to never touch alcohol? Yeah, that’s how it might feel.
And while Miller, rightfully, exhorts readers to avoid manipulative advice from of sociopaths and dark-triad men, I need to wonder… Was he fully aware of who his co-author is?
Because, while I don’t know him personally, Tucker Max definitely sounded like a man high in dark triad traits and high in power-craving (even if his stories are made up, as some critics say, that would only prove that he is willing to do anything to be successful).
I think that the book would have been better received if they had at least made an intro paragraph to address this issue. For example, Tucker could have talked about his past and then added the trite cliche’ that now he’s matured to a new stage.
Then the bridge between his past and “What Women Want” would have least met somewhat sense.
But with the current marketing and content, it can feel incongruent.
However, those contradictions should not stop us from seeing the good in this book.
And there is a lot of it.
When it comes to dating from a more conventional, provider point of view, this is one of the best books in the market and I would even recommend it above my own “Dating Power Dynamics“.
Most guys aren’t necessarily making their top priority to have as many notches as possible. And that’s why “What Women Want” might be my #1 recommendation to any guy looking for a committed relationship.