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A few words on the seduction community and my participation in it

In 2011, while in college, I spent about 6 months actively reading and participating in what is referred to as the Seduction Community (I think “seduction” is a terrible word for this community but since it’s the word everyone knows it by I’ll use it in this post). In particular I spent a lot of time on Reddit’s Seduction forum. I left when I felt that I was looking for something that this community could no longer provide.

I’m writing this post because of a recent outrage over a seduction book being funded on Kickstarter (the campaign, though successful, has been removed from Kickstarter). I know nothing about this book, I don’t intend to justify or qualify it, that’s not what this post is about. However, in the wake of this controversy I’ve seen a lot of anger and shaming directed at the seduction community, which is what I would like to address. If you continue to read this post, all I can ask is that you set aside any preconceptions you may have about the seduction community and the people who participate in it.

For my entire life I’ve experienced terrible anxiety around women I’m attracted to. Seeing someone I found attractive evoked less “fear” and more “complete and total emotional shutdown.” Rather than attempting to express myself around women, I began denying that I had any interest in women in the first place. It was easier to suppress my instincts than deal with the muscle-paralyzing terror of having to flirt with them (something that society told me was cool for guys to do). It wasn’t until my body told me loud and clear that I was fooling myself and that I actually do have a sex drive that I decided to do something about it.

For a guy in this position, who actively wants to better himself, there are few outlets that are both socially acceptable and actually useful. For example, if you go to your friends about this, they’ll tell you “just be yourself! Just be natural and genuine!” or “you’re so funny, any woman would love to be with you!” For someone in my situation these suggestions were about as useful as it would be to tell a depressed person simply to “lighten up” or to “look on the bright side of life.”

I wanted an action, I wanted something I could go out and specifically begin doing, something intended to cut through my incredible fear. Although my friends were very supportive, none of them could relate on a level to offer useful advice.

And oh, look at this, if you just go onto reddit, there is an entire forum of people there who are specifically practicing the art of socializing! These are people like me, with an incredible fear of meeting women who are attempting to work through that fear! And not only do many of them seem to have gotten quite good at it, they’re just here for me to talk to and ask advice from! For free!! This was not a dating service, it was other people over the internet who wanted me to be a better socializer and to conquer my fears! Holy crap!!

So this is where the context has to be laid, because the seduction community is granular. Like almost any community it is populated by a variety of people with a variety of needs and interests. Everyone sees themselves in the things they seek out, and seduction offered many different things to many different people.

For example, many people came to the seduction community purely just seeking sex. They would ask specifically about how to get laid and post the stories of when they did get laid. I found my interests particularly at odds with theirs since the actual act of sex was less important to me than simply being able to socialize in a healthy way. So, like in any community, you acknowledge that those people are there but you don’t invest a lot of energy in them.

But then there were the people like me, who wanted to master expressing themselves genuinely with women, men, people in general. People who, like me, had been terrified of women their whole lives and who just wanted to be good people. People who, like me, could not ignore that their bodies were asking for something their brains didn’t know how to provide.

I met many of these people in person. They look and act like any perfectly lovely person you’d meet at a party or over dinner with a mutual friend or work with at the office. I became good friends with some of them not over a shared love of getting laid but just because I liked them. We supported each other, we pushed each other to go out and practice socializing, we cheered one another one when a crippling social fear was shattered.

But there are people in the seduction community who I did not have this relationship with because they wanted something different than I did. Their primary goal was sex, being a leader of women, being socially dominant, and a whole range of other things (everyone brings something different to the table). Sometimes these needs were expressed in a healthy way, other times they were borne of insecurity and anger. And unfortunately, the low hanging fruit is easiest to latch onto. Whenever someone from the community made a flagrantly misogynistic/insecure remark, that remark is what the rest of the world latched onto and thus associated everyone else in the community with. I became afraid to tell my friends what I was doing because I didn’t want to have that stigma attached to me.

The same people who wanted me to be more socially expressive then went and shamed the community that offered me the one viable outlet for doing so.

A few weeks ago I was at a party and mentioned to a girl I had just met that I made video games, to which she responded “oh I don’t like video games.” I probed further and it turned out she had played and loved Flower, but she didn’t think of it as a game because to her video games were this monolithic culture of shooters, violence, and men. Because she latched onto the most alienating element of video game culture she completely missed the incredibly expressive, artistic, and beautiful parts of that culture.

If you’re reading this you’re probably a part of the video game culture, which means you’ve probably at some point been lumped in with other video gamers you don’t identify with as a part of “video game culture,” but of course it doesn’t work like that. Many people like many kinds of games and come to the culture for many reasons. Are some of these reasons unhealthy and insecure? Absolutely. But by not acknowledging the granularity of this community we end up suppressing the people on the margin who do have something very expressive they’re trying to communicate.

(to clarify, I do believe that there are ways of being extremely sexually assertive without being disrespectful toward women or encouraging rape. It’s a fine line that is not easily conveyed in a short and simple explanation, but that’s an entirely different conversation)

My intention with this blog post is not to excuse or qualify any of the actions of anyone in the seduction community who has caused harm to women, perpetuated rape culture, or influenced other to behave in an insecure or disrespectful way. Yes, those people exist. I simply want this to be a reminder that from outside any given community, the most surface and inflammatory aspects of that community tend to be the ones latched onto first, and that a more critical examination always reveals something more intricate and granular. It reveals that these people are just people with the same needs and fears as everyone else. Saying that “the seduction community preaches ____” is an active dismissal of the people who that community who were in it for reasons other than ___.

I did come to understand that interacting with women I was attracted to meant being honest with them, genuine, knowing myself well enough to be able to wear myself vulnerably on my sleeve wherever I went. To step into the things that scare me because they make me stronger, they make me a better person. And as I become a better person, I can make other people better as well, and this is how I wish to socialize, by making others better.

I could not have known this if I had not gone out to a bar to pick up women to understand why it had no interest to me. I could not have known this if I had not read a lot of forum posts from people who only wanted sex and decided I wanted something else. I could not have known this without a reference point around which to orient myself.

I stopped going on the seduction forums when I felt I had nothing more to learn. It became more energy than it was worth to distinguish between the healthy advice and the unhealthy. As with my entire academic life, I felt I gained far more by experiencing the kind of things I didn’t want to learn than the things I did. But that education was important, and laid the groundwork for discovering how I actually did want to express myself. There was a lot of bad, but I needed it to point me in the right direction.

You might know people who have been or want to be a part of the seduction community because there’s something that feels incomplete in their lives and they need a guide that will get them somewhere, anywhere away from where they are now. They may be too afraid to admit this to you because you’ve said the seduction community ought to be ashamed of itself. They may feel like they need to hide it from you because they don’t want to be judged. But they’re still looking for something, something that helps them feel more normal, something that will push them through crippling fear, something that will offer a light in what feels like an infinite crippling darkness. These people will make mistakes in the pursuit of that light, and their ability to recognize and manage those mistakes will forge their character for the rest of their lives.

To these people I offer my complete and unconditional love.

June 21, 2013 by Shane Sweeney 25 comments

25 comments. Add yours!

  1. Portnoy 2 years ago Reply

    I can see where you’re coming from here, and I know firsthand the granular scale of otherwise smeared communities. I played on FurryMUCK back in the day because it had a lot of folks to chat with and the style was kinda neat, but was never interested in the sexual aspects that it’s notorious for today.

    But one concern I have is that someone polluting the community with bad information will put people approaching it in the way you approached it at risk of being contaminated. If you don’t know how to even start with socializing and someone says you should start by pushing a woman against a wall and putting her hand in your pants, you may not KNOW this is a bad idea. The community needs to self-police against misleading information if it wants to raise its reputation and not be highlighted for the worst-in-show outliers.

    I’d say this goes for video games as well. If we want to be known as more than a military murder factory, we need to be vocal and outspoken against such things, and providing plenty of counterprogramming. It goes for any community, honestly.

    • davey 2 years ago Reply

      Absolutely. And that’s something the community needs to deal with. Since I no longer particularly identify with the seduction community I feel less of a drive to take action there than in, say, the video game community where I do feel a responsibility. There are definitely people in the seduction community who are working to affect this kind of change, but as with video games there’s a long long way to go. I mostly just wanted this post to contextualize the internal struggle that the seduction community is going through.

  2. Jonah McIntosh 2 years ago Reply

    While my own internal response to someone I find that I am interested in is different, I empathize with your situation because of my own problems of a similar nature.

    I often struggle with an uncontrollable urge to hide the parts of myself that I fear are unwanted or misunderstood. I sometimes flagrantly deny any part of myself that is sexual in nature when interacting with person I’m interested in. In the past this has ranged from counter productive to very damaging. The worst part is that in the moment, my brain and all of my creativity or ability to flow with a problem just shuts down. I don’t know if this is due to elements from my childhood or a lack of experience thereof. And, it’s very rarely voluntary or something I have any control over when it happens.

    I’ve considered therapy multiple times, but haven’t managed to make it happen yet.

    However, recently, in light of recent events, I feel like I might have a chance at turning a new leaf, which is hopeful.

    I digress.

    Let me just say this, I have the utmost respect and sympathy for you and your situation Davey. I am pulling for you and believe that you’ll get through this. I don’t think that we can ever really master things of this nature, but I believe that we can make it through somehow and understand ourselves better and that awareness is the first step.

    And if it helps, I routinely refer to your work with the Stanley Parable as one of the key pieces of media in our favored medium that shows gaming as more than just a endless series of male empowerment fantasies.

    In short,
    You’re an interesting person, you do great things and gosh darn it, people like you.

    And, you give me hope.

    Keep pushing the rock,

  3. maius 2 years ago Reply

    It’s quite encouraging to know there are other people experiencing the exact same problems that I am. Not that it’s any news to me, I know very well I am not a beautiful unique snowflake but it’s reassuring nonetheless. I never knew this community even existed but now I am too scared to visit it.

  4. Cartesian 2 years ago Reply

    This was a cool thing to read, and it must have been an uncomfortable thing to write/post, so kudos to you on both counts. I like that you didn’t defend OR prosecute that community as a whole while writing, and just explained what happened; I’m pretty sure that anyone else who wrote a post like that (including me) would have slipped in a “but on net, the seduction community is good/bad” at some point, and I’m glad you didn’t.

    On a completely different topic, the sentence [“And as I become a better person, I can make other people better as well, and this is how I wish to socialize, by making others better.”] sticks out to me, and not necessarily in a good way. For one thing, it’s asymmetrical: don’t you want to socialize by letting other people make you better, too? I mean, you could claim that it makes sense to focus on that side because you’d have to put more effort into changing others, but I’d say that letting them change you is a pretty big deal too.

    For another, it doesn’t gel with what I’ve seen in my own life (offline, at least; online, all bets are off). I have, historically speaking, known exactly one person who saw conversations with me as chances for us to improve each other. And actually, I really LIKED that person, it was USEFUL and FUN to have every exchange treated as a cross between a therapy session, a sparring match and a re-enactment of My Dinner With Andre. But I wouldn’t want ALL my friends to be like that, and I don’t think I’d want to date someone like that; “don’t try to change me” isn’t just a catchy lyric.

    In my (limited) experience, most healthy human interaction comes about because the people involved enjoy each other’s company, and/or want to be able to rely on each other. Just being there and being fun is – usually – all that’s asked for.

    Or, at least, that’s how I see it. Things could be different from your point of view and/or in the circles you move in.

    PS: I realize I’ve spent three-paragraphs-and-change tearing into the implications of one throwaway sentence, some or all of which I may have pulled out of thin air. So, yeah, please take everything I’ve written here with several grains of salt.

    • davey 2 years ago Reply

      Yeah that one sentence was a pretty generalized one that could be unpacked in a lot of ways, I didn’t quite intend it to be taken literally. I absolutely want to be made better by others, I simply mean that since I’m only in control of myself, the only thing I can ensure is that I bring goodness to other peoples’ lives. I can’t guarantee how anyone else will want to behave.

      And I don’t intend it as an all encompassing rule for social interaction, simply more of a general guideline. As I hang out with someone in any sense, socially, casually, romantically, I enjoy learning something from them and they from me. This doesn’t have to be life changing, it can happen in plenty of small, unsexy ways that aren’t grand and revelatory, but they’re little things I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I can’t say if other people feel this but in general if I don’t sense in someone a desire to learn and grow a little bit every day I quickly lose interest in spending much time around them (with all love and respect for exactly the kind of life they want to live, there’s no judgement). And yeah, there are times when you want to hang out and think about nothing. But when I’m meeting new people and socializing, I tend to be most stimulated by the sense that this new person wants to teach me how to be a better person and that I have something to teach them. If that exists, we might truly delve into one another.

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  5. anotherdave 2 years ago Reply

    Awesome… blarticle? (blog post slash article…)

    Idk what just happened. I was browsing steam, then spontaneously intrigued by “wtf is this stanley parable thing?” and ended up here, reading this thing about a seduction group and a removed kickstarter campaign; none of which i knew even existed before ~20 minutes ago.

    @author: you’re on the right track, dude. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with both the content and manner of your expression. I also like your site design.

    [respectful nod of acknowledgement]

  6. devjock 2 years ago Reply

    I came here to read about the Stanley Parable launch, but i stayed to read just for this blogpost. Your ability to put into words; the amount of obstacles which the seduction community (or pua community as i know it by) faces, is superb.

    Indeed, as with all tools, they can be used for good and evil (if there is such a thing).

    Much appreciated,

  7. Peeved 2 years ago Reply

    …I finally came back here to link some of the Helpful Development Showcases to a friend (wow it’s been longer than I thought), and now I’ve got a lot to think about. This sounds like the sort of thing that could actually help me, but trying to dig through an online community for legitimate advice while filtering out disgustingly sexist material sounds like exactly the sort of thing I’m sick to death of trying to deal with already.

    Davey, on the off chance you’re still reading these, drop me a line? You seem like a cool guy.

  8. Hannah Cairns 2 years ago Reply

    But this doesn’t mean anything! A lot of the people there are just searching for something more out of life. And they have great personalities and insights and are friends with you. They are happy to see you. That has nothing to do with whether the people are good, or whether the things they do are good.

  9. Hello! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4!
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  10. Corbin 2 years ago Reply

    I just played through the stanley parable and was very very impressed. everything about it pointed towards a mind set on transcendence. To come here in search of any elaboration on the metaphors, or any secrets that i missed, and find this article is just amazing! i too am a game designer, i make educational flash games for kids. and i too have been thoroughly interested in pick up, for about 3 or 4 years now. I am incredibly sad and lonely all the time, i scream and cry on the way to and from work almost every day, although theres nothing particularly “wrong” with my life.. just a lack of right. a lot of my friends are aware of my interest in pick up, and recently, they have actually been actively helping me. a female friend of mine last night walked around the bar with me and found sets of girls she saw as good opportunities for me and gave me a line and said go, this has been the best way of approaching pick up i have tried so far. i am particularly fond of RSD.. have you looked at this group Davey? although i never agree entirely with everything they put out, the bulk of it resonates deeply with me, and i have booked in a 2000 dollar bootcamp with them which will be on January 9th. I am very glad ive finally decided to do this.

    Davey, the fact that you have witten this post on your site which is connected to your game which is actually pretty popular, with your name attached to it, is admirable. i am concerned even to write this, out of fear that someone i know who plays the game will come here and see this comment and my name haha.

    I like to believe everyone can be tolerant of eachother and friendly to everyone and still allow for guys to be as sexual as their nature drives them to be. most guys who are very successful with women tend to dominate, and believe that they are alpha males, and that they need to be in order to get attraction from women. I want to be an example to everyone i meet that this is not the case.

    More than anything i want to see a world where everyone can be as genuinely expressive as our language and tools at our disposal can allow.

    Just for the sake of mentioning it, Im also an enthusiast of psychedelic drugs, and consider them very important for the type of shifting i want to see take place in my head, and in the collective head of all of us.

    Good on you Davey, you have made something beautiful here:) your game is amazing

  11. Dan M 1 year ago Reply

    I love you Davey.
    That is all.
    Also, please let me work for Galactic Cafe. Thank you in advance for hiring me.

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