Feminist vs. Pick-Up Artist: Who Gives Better Dating Advice?

Feminist vs. Pick-Up Artist: Who Gives Better Dating Advice?

February 28, 2019 • Sarah Jean Gosney

Since I’m often guiding young women when it comes to their dating lives, I like to keep up with what authors and content creators are saying on the subject. There is a ton of information out there, and plenty of it is awful, but among the sea of misleading platitudes is some genuinely good advice.

It may come as a shock to you, but the best advice I’ve read so far comes from a feminist and a pick-up artist. If you’re anything like me, your initial reaction to that might be “Why in the world would I ever listen to either of those people when it comes to my love life?!”

Well, both of these authors, Laura Doyle, a self-styled feminist, and Roosh Valizadeh, a notorious pick-up artist, both have one thing in common: they’ve made a lot of the mistakes along the way and have gained valuable perspective on their relationships through trial and error. Doyle certainly wouldn’t call herself a militant feminist, but in her books she does call herself a feminist. And Roosh has somewhat left his pick-up artist phase and seems to be on the lookout for a wife and family.

Doyle started out writing the Surrendered Wife after she resurrected the love in her own marriage and later wrote the Surrendered Single to help apply her love philosophy for the single ladies out there. Roosh started out teaching men how to have easy sex with women, and over the years started writing more about successful relationships, eventually writing Lady, a book of relationship advice for women.

I have to say, they both get a lot right, and I highly recommend reading both of these books if you are a single woman who’s looking. They are extremely different, however. Doyle’s book has much more of an inspirational “You’re amazing and you deserve love” vibe while Roosh’s book is a pretty major red pill for those unused to his ideas, as he spends the first six chapters dismantling modern ideas of happiness, “finding yourself,” careerism, and feminism. In fact, I think both books balance each other out quite nicely in the end. To save you time, I’ve done a side-by-side comparison of the authors’ stances on five key topics:

  1. Appearance
  2. Finding dates
  3. Attitude
  4. Sex and Commitment
  5. Cohabitation and Marriage

1. Appearance

Both authors mention appearance, but Doyle puts a lot less emphasis on it. Her biggest recommendation to women is to smile, and to smile at every man she sees. She also recommends wearing feminine clothes that hug and flatter your female form. She emphasizes that it doesn’t matter what age or size you are; you can find something that flatters you.

Roosh disagrees on this. He puts a big emphasis on youth and thinness in his book. His book is geared more toward women below 30, because, while he has a “dating over 30” section, it’s not the focus of the majority of the book. He doesn’t give any recommendations on what a woman should wear but does say women should grow their hair out as long as possible and slim down to a healthy weight. He calls this “Beauty Bait” and states that this will be your first asset for attracting any man’s attention.

Roosh doesn’t recommend smiling at every man, but both authors agree that it is critical for a woman to seem approachable. This means not walking too fast, having a pleasant look on your face, and not closing yourself off from the world with headphones.

2. Finding Dates

When it comes to finding dates, the authors once again have differing but sometimes overlapping views. Doyle recommends starting the process by dating online (she wrote the book before smartphones existed) to open up the possibilities. She also recommends flirting with every man you meet (in addition to smiling at them) and even going so far as asking a man to ask you out. By this, she means saying things like “I wish a man like you would ask me out” or outright giving a guy your phone number.

Roosh takes a different approach. His emphasis is on spending time in public places and developing your community ties in order to meet men. He suggests showing interest by sustaining eye contact with a man, and if he doesn’t get the hint, then, and only then, should you smile. He recommends against giving a man your number, because this means you are pursuing him. He also advises women not to date online because men who use those apps are in what he calls their “fun stage” (wanting to sleep around) rather than their “settle down stage.”

Both authors agree that you should never ask a man out, but they disagree on what the boundary of encouragement is. They also both agree that you should accept all invitations to events and parties and try to connect with men through your social groups.

3. Attitude

In the Surrendered Single, Doyle emphasizes enjoying the process of dating. She says you should learn to become “the Goddess of Fun and Light,” finding something to enjoy even on the worst of dates. She recommends that women avoid complaining on dates (though she does say if you have a need, like you’re hungry, you should express this without demand, complaint, or suggestion of how to fix it). She even suggests that women give a genuine compliment to one man every day to attract more men to her.

Roosh recommends being kind and approachable and advises women to focus on their dates when they are out instead of their phones or surroundings. He also advises that women don’t drink on their first date to improve her judgement of what the man is looking for and to avoid making irreversible mistakes. He also mentions that this is a key “good girl” signal to send to men, explaining that usually promiscuous women drink.

Both Doyle and Roosh suggest giving positive feedback to a man while you’re on a date. They also both put a big emphasis on adjusting your expectations for men. This means tossing out your checklist for what you think your dream man is and accepting men who are imperfect. Doyle goes so far as to say you should accept a date from any man who doesn’t have two heads, while Roosh says you should accept offers from “Boring Bobby” instead of “Exciting Eric.” Even Doyle makes sure to mention that, if you are used to dating bad boys, good men might not seem as exciting at first, with both authors advising patience to allow attraction to unfold.

Both authors recommend that women talk less, not worrying about wowing the man with her intellect, and let the man lead the conversation, with the woman encouraging him from time to time and slowly revealing her character. They both agree that it is the man’s job to woo the lady, not the other way around. Another point where the authors overlap is declining dates with dignity. They give examples of how to kindly but firmly decline dates from men you’re not interested in.

4. Sex and Commitment

This is an area where the authors have a lot in common. Doyle advises women to wait at least six dates or until she has commitment before having sex with a man, leaving the choice up to the woman’s comfort. She also says that a woman can accept a kiss on the first date, if she feels like it. Oddly, in light of her more liberal stance on finding dates, Doyle thinks a man should pursue commitment, bringing up the hunter metaphor that Roosh uses throughout his book. She advises women to continue dating multiple men until one pursues commitment with her.

Roosh is shockingly even stricter than Doyle in this department, likely due to has vast experience with women. He recommends not kissing until the second date and waiting at least nine dates or until commitment to have sex. He does state in his book, however, that most players will give up after date five if they haven’t gotten sex from a woman, so Doyle’s advice is still pretty solid. In contrast to Doyle but much in alignment with the Red Pill world, he recommends that women bring up commitment, as he advises men to let women bring up this topic. He says that women should gently ask a man if he’s seeing anyone else, and state that she isn’t and doesn’t want to.

Obviously both authors are trying to help women avoid the one night stand, or as Roosh calls it, the “pump and dump.” Their timeframe also allows women to both develop attraction to a man she didn’t have instant sparks for and judge him based on his character.

5. Cohabitation and Marriage

Likely in contrast with her feminist leanings, Doyle strongly advises against cohabitation before marriage or at the very least an engagement. She explains that cohabitation blurs the line on where you stand in the relationship and can lead to things being dragged out and never leading to the altar. She also suggests that women should, if they make it clear they want marriage, expect a marriage proposal within six months. If, at this point, there is no indication of a proposal in sight, the woman should state–without demanding or making an ultimatum–that she is looking for marriage and be willing to end the relationship. I’m going to quote Doyle directly on this, because this is a tricky topic and would be easy to get wrong.

In the following quote, the couple was living together and had gotten married in Tahiti–a marriage not legally recognized in the U.S. The man had wanted to wait until his business startup was more successful to make things official. The woman kept begging and pleading the man to make it official, which failed, until she said the following:

“I understand that your business is very important to you, and I respect that,” she told him firmly without crying, “I also know that to be happy, I need to get married. I need that commitment. I love you and I want to be your wife, but if it’s not the right thing for you, I can accept that–and move on.”

The man took a few minutes and said,

“Things are going so well for us lately. I don’t want to lose you, so we’ve got to take care of this problem. We’ll be married by March.”

Doyle also remarks that, if there’s an unusual circumstance and you have a hunch that your boyfriend will eventually propose to you, you are free to follow that. For example, one of her clients suspected that her boyfriend would propose in two years after finishing law school, and, sure enough, he did.

Surprisingly, Roosh doesn’t have an opinion on cohabitation. He mentions that there are many opinions on it and leaves it at that. His timeline for a proposal is two years. He doesn’t suggest anything as overt as Doyle, and instead recommends the woman bring up the topic of marriage and gauge the man’s reaction.

Both authors emphasize the fact that a woman should not wait forever for a man and should move on if their boyfriend is showing signs of never taking that final step. They are both fully aware that there are many men in this world perfectly content to keep a woman as his eternal girlfriend, as well as many men who are eagerly searching for a wife.


Both authors give great advice while sometimes making me raise my eyebrows. Roosh seems to think it’s a dark and gloomy world out there for women over 30, while Doyle talks about a client who was 91 trying to get her boyfriend to commit (she had outlived her first three husbands). Both have points. To Roosh’s credit, he is focusing on women who want to have children, so his emphasis is on not missing the fertility window if you want to start a family.

As for online dating, I fall between the two authors. While I generally don’t think you’ll find your husband online, if you are completely unused to going on dates and are uncomfortable around men, creating an online dating profile and going on a few dates can help warm you up to being around men and relaxing in their presence. I think of it as a tool that will help you dip your toe in the water and shake off the cobwebs rather than a matchmaking service.

When it comes to getting dates, I tend to lean more toward Doyle’s stance. Yes, I agree that you should let a man pursue you (both authors agree on that), but the relationship between the sexes is so fraught with tension and fear these days that I think women may need to encourage even masculine men a bit more than they would have in the past. Even Roosh talks about how most men won’t approach women they don’t know out of fear of a brutal rejection. Doyle emphasizes that, even if you give a guy your number, he still has to make the call.

Getting the commitment of a man is tricky, and I can’t decide who I agree with more. I used to advocate that women bring up commitment until I read the Surrendered Single and discussed the matter with some of my friends who are dating. I was recommending what I’ve always done and what has worked for me, but I think Doyle’s multi-dating strategy is a great way to get a guy to step up to the plate. The only potential issue I see with this strategy is a guy suspecting you are sleeping with the other men and not him, but hopefully with your behavior you’re making it clear what your standards are.

On the subject of cohabitation and marriage, I am once again split. I agree with Doyle that cohabitating without a ring on your finger is a recipe for a never-ending courtship. In fact, I wrote an email about this a while back when I first read her book. However, when it comes to marriage, six months seems very fast to me, but if you’re serious about getting married, why waste time? I think it’s up to you to decide how long you are willing to wait for a man to propose. But don’t wait too long! I also think there’s value to both authors’ approaches to bringing up marriage. I’d say first go for subtlety in the style of Roosh, but later, if things don’t come to a head, Doyle’s direct but compassionate approach seems a valid way to move a stagnant situation forward.

Overall, both authors have some excellent advice as well as a few points I’d prefer to ignore, but the vast majority of what they say is genuinely helpful when it comes to helping a young woman get closer to marriage. I’d highly recommend both books to any single women out there. Both were easy, entertaining reads and both were affordable.

If you want hands-on help navigating the confusing terrain of dating rather than reading impersonal advice from a feminist or pick-up artist, join me for coaching.

Tags: book review, relationships

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