If you’re unfamiliar with Mark Manson and his philosophy on dating, a good place to start is Models: Attract Women Through Honesty. It’s a great product for guys who want to incorporate empowering mindsets and a self-development type approach to becoming more successful with women.
The Fearless Dating Course is built upon the same principles, and is designed to be more of a practical blueprint to achieve that success. The way it works is there are six video lessons that you need to watch in order, and after you complete them you have the choice of going onto either the approaching module or the sexuality module. For most guys, it’ll be a good idea to start with the approach module. However if you feel confident cold approaching women and already have plenty of experience with this, you might want to skip ahead to the sexuality module.
You’ll be asked to complete an exercise at the end of each lesson throughout the course before you move on to the next lesson. Sometimes it’ll be something you can complete then and there, such as writing down your goals for the course, but as it gets to the more practical lessons you’ll need to go out and interact with women to complete the exercises.
The Inferiority Gap and Performance Based Pickup
You’ll be exposed to a lot of deep concepts at the start of the course, and you’ll be forced to confront a number of issues and limiting beliefs you may have. Mark talks about fear and anxiety, and how they hold men back from getting the results with women they truly desire. So throughout the course you’re going to have to be honest with yourself and look at your biggest fears and your past experiences that may have led to them.
Mark introduces the idea that much of the dating advice on the market teaches performance based behaviour. Meaning that men are taught a series of actions to follow or lines to use so that a woman will find you attractive. He talks about how the main problem with this is the mindset behind it, which is the feeling that you are inferior and so need to compensate for that.
It’s referred to here as the inferiority gap, where you see the woman as being above you, so you feel unworthy of here. So you adapt performance based game, trying to entertain women with the hope that she’ll find you interesting enough that you can start to close that gap. One of the biggest problems with this is that if you do start to get some success with girls using these strategies, it simply reinforces the belief that you’re inferior to the girl and need to act a certain way to make her like you.
There’s a lot of truth to this, and it’s a problem that was quite prevalent in the pickup community a number of years ago. Guys who were getting seemingly good results were developing a dependence on gimmicks and scripted lines, and weren’t developing true confidence. So while there can be a time and a place to use certain routines, you don’t want to fall into the trap where you believe you need them for a woman to find you attractive. And to have any kind of successful long term relationship with a woman, you can’t be harboring feelings of inferiority and expect things to work out.
Mark goes on to describe how this inferiority gap typically leads men to develop either co-dependent or narcissistic behavior. This was interesting to listen to and contains a lot of truth, although it does tend to focus on the extremes and label men as either nice guys stuck in the friend zone or jerks who are sleeping with low self-esteem women. In reality, there are a lot of guys who fall somewhere along this spectrum and these mindsets have probably effected all of us at some point.
The idea of vulnerability is an interesting topic and one that gets mentioned in the dating advice industry fairly frequently. It first got thrown about by some of the old school pickup artists as a tactic to make you seem more real and attainable to women. The idea was that you would spend so much time demonstrating higher value to a woman that you would need to show her aspects of yourself that displayed some vulnerability so that you appeared more real and genuine. This was kind of an oxymoron though, with guys learning routines to try and appear more genuine.
The context with which Mark discusses vulnerability here though is completely different. He talks about it as the complete opposite of performance, as a willingness to be completely genuine and risk getting rejected. But that by being comfortable with the idea of getting rejected, people are actually less likely to reject you.
He covers three types of vulnerability that you can use in a practical way. Some of these ideas might be a bit confronting for you to face up to, because it means looking at your insecurities. But the advice here is that the best way to get past your insecurities is to be able to share any aspect about yourself with anybody at any time.
If you can be honest with yourself about your insecurities, you’ll be in a better position to deal with them. Mark talks about how he still gets nervous when meeting attractive women, but he has come to accept it as part of who he is. And by doing this, it’s made dealing with this issue ten times easier.
The Approach Module
The important thing to realize with this program is that Mark isn’t teaching any quick fixes or easy solutions. His program is based on cognitive behavioral therapy, which he says is based on two aspects:
- Questioning your beliefs and assumptions
- Going out and taking action to change your perspective
So the way this program is designed you’ll be taking incremental steps to slowly increase your comfort zone. Apparently research has proven that consistent, low intensity action is better than jumping in at the deep end. So rather than have you going out and approaching a whole heap of women right from the start, you’ll begin with exercises that are fairly straightforward and you should be able to accomplish without too much anxiety. As you progress, the exercises will become increasingly challenging and you’ll likely face more anxiety, but by taking action you’ll learn how to cope with it.
It’s worth noting that if you suffer from extreme social anxiety you’ll likely have trouble progressing through the course. Mark talks about this briefly, and suggests that if this is an issue for you that you’d be better off consulting a professional trained specifically to deal with this. If you find the first exercise terrifying, then you should consider the fact that social anxiety might be an issue you have. But if you’re reasonably comfortable doing these early exercises and only start feeling anxious at the thought of talking to attractive women, then social anxiety isn’t your problem.
The other thing to note is that if you’re already somewhat experienced then you may find many of the exercises far too easy and not worth your time. The pinnacle of the approach model involves being able to approach a woman directly and get her phone number. So if this is something you’re already able to do on a consistent basis, you’ll likely find no practical value in this part of the course.
So while some of the earlier exercises involve just having a casual conversation with people, by the end of it you will need to approach in a direct manner and show your intent. Because it’s going to feel like a higher pressure exercise, most guys will feel more anxiety about this, but the benefit is it’s a great way to increase your confidence and you’ll feel better for having done it. Mark gives you a really simple direct opener you can use, and you can use it to pretty much approach girls in any situation.
If you’re used to approaching women in a more indirect fashion, then this will be a good introduction on how to become more direct and genuine. There are times when an indirect approach is more advisable, such as if a girl is with other people and approaching directly will put too much social pressure on her, but the purpose of this course is to get over your fear. So really make sure you commit to doing the direct approaches the way Mark describes, as this will give you the best results in boosting your confidence.
The Sexuality Module
This part of the course is all about learning to overcome any anxiety you may feel at taking things in a sexual direction with women. Because even though you may get to the stage where you can cold approach women and get their phone number, if you don’t sexually escalate at some point then you’re never going to get anywhere.
Mark goes into a lot of detail about sexual shame, something that many men feel in varying degrees. Especially if you grew up in a religious or conservative family, chances are at some point you were told that sex is wrong or shameful and something that needs to be kept hidden. If you have any of these underlying beliefs then it’s going to be much more difficult for you to have healthy relationships with women, so this module is aimed at getting you more comfortable expressing your sexuality.
Similarly to the approach module, the exercises here start out quite easy and get progressively more challenging. If you’re already at an intermediate to advanced level, you probably won’t find the exercises that useful. But if you’re able to approach women and your sticking point is that your interactions are very friendly and lacking a sexual dynamic, there is some solid information here.
One of the better lessons here is #4 ‘Happiness as our metric’. It’s focused on getting you to turn away from arbitrary external goals such as getting laid, getting phone numbers etc. and trying to get you in touch with what’s going to make you happy. Some guys start learning dating skills without really knowing what they want, so when they reach a certain level of what they think is success, it’s not really that satisfying for them.
So here Mark has you work on defining your values and boundaries, so that you’ll be better equipped to have relationships with the kind of girls who will make you happy. By having a set of values and boundaries that you adhere to, women will also tend to find you more attractive.
Effectiveness and Limitations of the Exercises
One of the things that’s really obvious is that you’re going to have to put the work in to do the exercises properly to get the most out of them. It’s going to be tempting to tell yourself you already know how to do it, write up your thoughts and then move on to the next lesson. From reading the reports that students are posting, it’s clear this is what some people are doing. But you’re only going to be short changing yourself by doing that, as there’s a massive difference between logically understanding the principle of the lesson and actually going out and experiencing it firsthand.
If you decide to use this course, don’t waste your time just reading it without following the exercises as it asks. With this course in particular you’ll only get the benefits if you actually do the exercises.
Go through it at your own pace and you’ll get far more out of it. And as the videos are generally between three to fifteen minutes on average, it’s not too time consuming and manageable to do piece by piece properly.
From the comments that people have posted, some of the exercises are too easy and not challenging enough for the guys who have studied dating skills and have some experience already. So keep this in mind when you make the decision about whether this course is right for you or not. It’s best suited to guys who aren’t able to approach women in a direct manner, and guys who don’t have much sexual experience. If you’ve already approached women and successfully led the interaction to sex, you might not be really challenged much here.
One of the other things to be aware of is that it doesn’t offer much in the way of how to be attractive to women, outside of the core behaviors that are taught. So by approaching women with a direct opener, you are conveying confidence, which will help women to see you as attractive. But the opener by itself is not enough to sustain a woman’s interest up until the point of sex, so you need to know how to keep the interaction moving forward in an attractive way.
From reading the reports of the students, it appears this is something many struggled with. Maybe they met a girl and got her number, but then when texting her they never got a response back. These kinds of stories were fairly common, and due in large part to the relative inexperience of the students. No doubt as they keep practicing there results will start to improve.
But it’s also likely because they didn’t have a clear idea of what to do beyond the opener. Mark gives a solid and somewhat common way that dating instructors suggest you can transition from the opener and keep the conversation going. This definitely works, but from there you have to be able to maintain a conversation with the girl and have her sufficiently attracted and/or invested enough that she will want to see you again.
My guess would be that many of the students are creating some interest from their approach, then falling into old patterns of behaviour and becoming nervous about not knowing what to say. Women will pick up on this and their initial interest will start to wane as they realise that maybe you’re not the confident, self assured guy you appeared to be when you first approached her.
So this is where I feel the course takes kind of a numbers game approach to dating. For many guys, the girls that you end up being successful with will be the girls that just happen to like you anyway. It’s one of those situations where the advice to just be yourself is good once you have a certain amount of experience and knowledge of what attractive behaviour is, but if you are a beginner that same advice can be limiting.
Because if you don’t know how to communicate with women in ways that cause her to be attracted to you, you’ll just end up with the same level of girls you’d get anyway. If you’re looking to have success with girls of a higher quality than what you’re used to, you generally need to modify your behaviour in some way. In this course, there’s a chance that it’s going to leave you with a number of questions about what to do specifically after the approach.
This is where it can be effective to have a working knowledge of different dating skills and tactics. Mark is right, in that you don’t want to feel like you aren’t enough by yourself and you have to use tactics to get her interested, but when you can integrate some of the principles into your interactions and they just flow from you naturally, you put yourself in a situation where you become more attractive to a higher percentage and wider selection of the girls that you meet.
To help with this problem, you might want to check out another course that Mark has called The Conversation Course. The principles and format are basically the same, it’s just specifically focused on how to have more emotionally relevant conversations with people. It’s a really good product, and these two courses complement each other nicely.
There’s a few bonuses as well included with The Fearless Dating Course. One of them is a video of a presentation that Mark gave at a seminar in Zurich, and is an overview of a lot of the main ideas that he teaches. He shares some interesting stories and it’s well worth a listen. There’s also an audio presentation of how to succeed in online dating. It’s all quite basic advice, but the ideas are solid and will be helpful if you haven’t had a lot of success in this area.
There’s a PDF report called Take Action Today, which is pretty much a summary of Mark’s ideas on fear and how it holds us back from getting what we want. Not really any new content from the main part of the course but it helps to provide some extra motivation after reading it. Also included are a couple of hypnosis/ meditation sessions with a guy called Mark David Fourman who is an expert in this area. They are titled Transform Your Fear and Transform Your Shame, and they are interesting to listen to and provide some quality value to the course.
The Bottom Line
This is a great course for guys who want to improve their success with women by being authentic and genuine. There aren’t a lot of techniques or tactics taught here, it’s more about taking the steps necessary to develop your confidence so that you can approach women despite any anxiety you may feel.
The two components of the course are on approaching and sexuality, and getting past your fear of both. These are two of the biggest areas that cause anxiety and hold men back from real success with women, so if you have issues with either of these then this course is well worth checking out.
About Mark Manson
Mark Manson started learning about pickup artistry in 2005 when Neil Strauss’ The Game came out. He originally became known as a pickup artist who went by the name of Entropy who started training men in the 2007. His training company at the time was named “Practical Pickup”.
In 2010 Mark became disenchanted with the the pick up artist tools and mindsets and moved away from it to focus on self-help for men based on authenticity and masculinity. His new company “Postmasculine” was born.
In 2013 he announced another change, which would migrate him to MarkManson.net, and would become gender neutral, offering advice to both men and women on how to improve their lives, dating, sex and otherwise.
More courses from the same author: Mark Manson