The name Tucker Max inspires either approving smirks or rolling eyes. Tucker is (in)famous for his hilariously written stories of drunken debauchery and philandering, graphically depicting both his epic failures and towering successes. He has amused many a man and woman who possess a raunchy sense of humor. Others scorn him because of his supposed misogyny.
Whether you love or hate him, Tucker—along with Maddox—pioneered the literary genre of “fratire.” After having his three books— I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, Assholes Finish First, and Hilarity Ensues—simultaneously on The New York Times bestsellers list, he retired from fratire.
He is one of my influences as a writer. In his retirement essay, he said something that got the juices in my mind flowing:
I’m the Dr. Dre of fratire. Which means that the Eminem and the Biggie and the Tupac and Jay-Z are all still out there, and I’m just as excited as anyone to read their stuff when they come along.
I read that and was like, “Fuck yeah.”
Tucker Max has moved on from the entertainment realm to the self-help genre. In conjunction with the academic expertise of Dr. Geoff Miller, an Evolutionary Psychology Professor at the University of New Mexico and author of The Mating Mind, Tucker has written Mate: Become The Man Women Want. He says he hopes to teach men through science and empirical data—as opposed to biased religious, cultural, and political agendas—what traits women find attractive.
Raul Felix: Tucker, your new book started off from a conversation over dinner with Dr. Geoff Miller after you learned his nephews saw your books as some sort of manifesto with how to get women to sleep with them, then began mimicking your asshole behavior with probably lackluster results. I personally remember reading your books when I was nineteen and thinking that I needed to act like a dickhead in order to slay bitches also. Regardless, you still got laid. What things did young Tucker Max do right and what things did young Tucker Max do wrong that align with some of the things you teach in Mate?
Tucker Max: What young guys never understand is that my books were only a small slice of my life. I only put in the funny and ridiculous stuff, without a whole lot of other context, because that was the stuff that was entertaining to read. They were NEVER intended as instructions or even a guide at all. That’s absurd.
The reason young guys took them that way is because our culture does a terrible job honestly teaching young men how to effectively attract women, so in the void of instruction, they just use the only honest thing they see working—which was my writing. But they missed all the context.
First off, I failed at getting women A LOT. Go actually read the books. I fail far more often than I succeed, and in most cases, I fail spectacularly. They never really thought about that, because it takes experience to understand that. They only focused on the successes.
But make no mistake, I was successful with a certain type of woman. The problem was that young guys didn’t even understand why. They thought it was BECAUSE I was a drunken asshole. That’s ridiculous. If anything, I succeeded IN SPITE of being a drunken asshole. No guy has ever been successful with women by JUST being a drunken asshole.
They were missing all the other things I was doing well, because they didn’t know what to look for, and I didn’t talk about them in the book—things like my humor, my extraversion, my quick wit, my body language, my social intelligence, my singular focus on certain types of women looking for the same things as me (short-term relationships)—these things are invisible to inexperienced young guys, because no one explained them.
That’s what Mate is about: making invisible into the visible so that guys can understand what works and what doesn’t, and then focus on doing the things that work for them. It’s not about acting like I did in my books. No way. It’s about understanding the core fundamentals of attraction, and then improving them so you can have the success you want with women.
Raul Felix: Yeah, I remember you saying in an interview that no one wants to hear about a time you saved a puppy because that isn’t funny. You said time and again that your books are for entertainment. A consistently recurring theme in Mate is the need to be physically fit as a display of masculinity, health, willpower, etc. As a man who has been consistently in shape my entire life, I can attest that women love how strong I am. Yet there is a point of diminishing returns with how in-shape you have to be, like bodybuilder status. Why do you believe that stereotypically, being buff equals brainless meathead and being book-smart is correlated with being fragile and weak?
Tucker Max: Yes, definitely. We say this in the book: You need to be in shape, but you do NOT need to be an elite athlete. In fact, being too in shape—think of a bodybuilder, for example—can often be a negative sign to women and hurt you. Most women look at guys who focus an extreme amount of time on appearance as being narcissistic and self-involved. This is very unattractive. The best bet is being in good shape—think of the body of a swimmer, or a CrossFitter, or decathlete.
The question you ask about perceptions of men is a complicated one. The idea that strong = dumb, and smart = weak is very modern. If you look at ancient Greeks and Romans, or Mongolians, or almost any preindustrial culture, strength and intelligence were not seen as conflicting. In fact, they were seen as helping each other.
I think this split happened in the higher social classes in the industrial age. Essentially, if you were rich, you could afford to not do manual labor and [to not] be brawny. For a while, it was seen as a marker of high status. This is an old idea and has shifted, though. There are very, very few women under 50 who like scrawny men.
Raul Felix: One of the most enlightening things I read in the book was the need to see it from a woman’s perspective. I honestly never thought of that before. Some huge guy trying to get into her panties that could easily overpower and have her way with her if he wanted. The fact that she’s been dealing with creepers, losers, stalkers, and potential rapists ever since she took on real feminine features. How can a man show he is not a threat, but still sexually attracted to a woman without give off those negative vibes she’s used to getting from window-licking mouth-breathers?
Tucker Max: A lot of guys have said this—that they never thought about looking at dating from a woman’s perspective. Think about how absurd that is! I was the same way too for a long time. It just goes to show how broken our dating notions are—we don’t even think about the most important thing to think about—the perspective of the other person!
The most important thing a guy needs to understand is that women see men as a threat, because they are. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person; it means that she’s had to deal with awful men her whole life, and until she knows you aren’t one of those guys, she doesn’t know. This does not mean you should be an apologetic coward. It means you need to be respectful and not aggressive at first, and not do things that set off her danger alarms. We go into this in-depth in the book; it’s actually very simple. In short, it boils down to, “Approach her like a human and not a sex object.”
Raul Felix: A big limiting factor for men is their Mating Market. I saw this a lot while I was in the Army. The local community would have an overabundance of young, in-shape men with a steady paycheck—more than there were women of equal quality. Many a Joe will get have to settle for sloppy seconds on subpar women because that’s all there really was. In my hometown of Huntington Beach, CA, it was tough to stand out even as in-shape guy because people take having a beach body very seriously and Latinos are everywhere. Now that I live in Central New York, where both my buffness and my ethnicity is way more rare, I have more options than I’ve ever had in my life. What are some of the key things a young man needs to know about Mating Markets and what are some of the best places to be a single man in the US?
Tucker Max: This is possibly the MOST important thing in mating, and very few people have any idea about it. This is a stark fact we hope to drill into the head of every man: If you don’t live in a place where there are a lot of single women, you are drastically hurting your chances of dating success. This is very simple math that economists and biologists have understood for years, yet no one gets it when applied to dating.
Think of it this way: There are two bars next door to each other, each with 100 people in them. Bar #1 has 60 women (and thus 40 men), and Bar 2 has 40 women in it (and thus 60 men). Which do you go in? OF COURSE you go in Bar #1, because your odds are way better.
Well, you should apply this logic to EVERYTHING in life. How you pick your school, your job, what city you live in, where you live in that city, what activities you do, and where you spend your time. But very few guys do this.
Raul Felix: Thanks, Tucker. Any last bit of random advice for your typical male who really hasn’t accomplished much but wants to get started?
Tucker Max: The big thing is to not see this as a big hard thing. Start with what you want, then figure out what you have to offer, then work through how to show that what you want is what you have to offer. We walk our readers through this process and break it down into simple and actionable steps. You can do this. Every guy can find at least some success with women if he works the process.