Tension and Its Role in Life and PUA
I do improv comedy and a few weeks back my instructor gave a lecture about “status changes” and how most higher comedy is derived from status changes. This got me thinking about the concept of “tension” and how it relates, not only to PUA, but life in general. What follows are my thoughts on “tension” in regards to PUA and how it can be used in everyday life.
Status and Status Changes
What is status? In every interaction each participating party has a certain “status”; that is, he occupies a certain power position in relation to the other participants in the interaction. For example, when a teacher is speaking to a student the teacher should (note that I say “should”) occupy a position of higher status. This is because of the inherent power dynamic between teachers and students and also because of the teacher’s superior knowledge (other examples include a doctor-patient relationship, a parent-child relationship, and husband-wife relationship). Regardless of the relationship, when two or more people interact there is always some status between them. A person’s status can be high relative to someone else, low relative to someone else, equal to someone else, or anywhere in between.
It’s important to recognize that “status” is dynamic and can and will change between two people. In fact, status can change very rapidly. For instance, with the teacher-student relationship the teacher has high status based on his position, but what happens when the student corrects the teacher? There’s a status change and the student will likely take on the position of higher status, at least momentarily. This is a status change. Learning to recognize, control, and harness status changes is a very important skill—more on this momentarily.
“Tension,” a term very closely related to status, is the force that motivates all human action. Humans are inherently reactionary beings. We act when there is some outside stimuli that tells our brain that we should act. Typically, as a means of conserving energy humans (and all other animals) will not react to a stimulus until the tension or pressure from that stimulus gets to the point that it is no longer bearable for the person to not act.
For instance, a person will sit outside in the sun until they are uncomfortable. But there is typically a level of discomfort necessary before a person is willing to go through the effort of moving. Alternatively, in PUA, most people seek this community because their lack of success with women has created significant enough tension that they are willing to invest in improving their skills.
Basically, “tension” is that feeling of discomfort you get when you are acted upon by an outside stimulus. If you think a woman is sexy you are going to get a sense of discomfort because the outside stimulus (the woman’s sexiness) has acted upon you. The more you pine after her, the greater that discomfort is going to grow. It can only be alleviated when you make a move on her or you decide that she’s out of your league, etc.
Status Gap and Tension
Status and status imbalances are the cause of all tension we feel in our lives. As the gap between two peoples’ status grows wider tension grows, and likewise, as the gap closes tension is released. For instance, when you are trying to attract a woman if you come in set very Alpha your status should be higher than hers. As you show disinterest and she qualifies herself this status gap is going to grow. As the status gap grows the tension will also grow. It’s important to get a firm grasp on this “tension” because if you let the gap grow too much you risk snapping the figurative string. Once you’re happy with the level of tension you have created you release it by qualifying yourself and giving IOIs. This is what the PUA community calls Push-Pull.
The concept of Push-Pull is essential to a PUA because it creates tension. I believe humans are conditioned to accept tension because the discomfort they feel from the tension pales in comparison to the joys a person feels when that tension is released (think of not being able to orgasm and the feelings of frustration that occur until you actually do orgasm, then the work necessary to achieve that orgasm was worth it). Therefore, the Push-Pull is effective because it allows you to create tension and subsequently release that tension. You do this by changing the status between you and your target.
It’s important that you develop a good feel for tension. If you allow the tension to grow too much and you snap that string, you will instantly have attainability problems (in other words, the person you are interacting with will see you as “too high status”). When you have snapped the tension string you will know right away. The other person will become very defensive and rude. This is an ego response, “Reject him before he has the chance to reject me.” An example of this would be with a new boss. When you first meet the boss you are going to feel discomfort and a desire to please him. However, if your boss is a complete asshole and he is never pleased then you will get to the point where you don’t care about pleasing him anymore. In essence, your boss has broken the string by taking on a status that was too high.
On the other hand, if you fail to create enough tension before releasing it, there will be little or no pleasure from the release. When there is no pleasure from the release people get bored with the interaction and will move on.
When a woman says she wants someone who is intellectually stimulating, what she is really saying is that she wants someone with a firm grasp on tension and the status gap. Mastering the status gap and getting a firm feeling for the tension created by the status gap is absolutely crucial for becoming a successful PUA.
Status and Comedy
Status changes and status roles provide the foundation for all comedy. An example would be Principal Skinner from The Simpsons. Here we have a Principal, someone who inherently has high status, who constantly takes on a role of low status. This is funny because it our mind creates an image of high status, which will create tension. Like when Skinner catches Bart doing something our mind instantly thinks of Skinner in a high status position and we become uncomfortable with the scenario (i.e., tension grows). But then Bart says something like, “Eat my shorts!” and Skinner is made to look like a fool. All of a sudden statuses have been reversed, the tension has been let out, and this is funny.
Comedy is simply changes in status and tension. A good standup comedian will build up to the punch line and then release the tension. It’s this release of tension that releases feelings of happiness and humor.
Having an understanding of how tension and status impacts humor can have a huge effect on your game and the way you interact with people.
Applying the Concepts of Status and Tension
Now that you have an understanding of what status and tension are and how to use them, it’s time to start recognizing the places in your game and life that you can use these concepts. Remember, tension is the force that drives human action and status is the method by which social interactions create tension.
· Dealing with AMOGs: When someone is trying to AMOG you the best way to deal with them is to control your and their status. If you’re a true master of status and tension, you can even let them have high status momentarily, only to take it from them a second later. This reversal can cause laughter and create instant attraction between you and your target.
· Winging: An effective wing must have a solid understanding of status. A wingman should never be the Alpha for too long. What that means is that he needs to comprehend what his Lead’s status is and adjust his game accordingly. If a wing doesn’t understand status he can end up unintentionally amoging his fellow PUA, or worse, being a completely useless wing. The best wingmen can look at a social situation and understand what their partner’s status is at the time. The wing will burst in when the Lead’s status has fallen too low and help boost it back up by DHVing and then gracefully bow out again once the Lead has reestablished his status. To do this effectively you MUST have an understanding of status and tension.
· Sexual escalation: Sexual escalation is ALL about status and tension. This could be a guide on its own, but for now remember this one simple thing: Sexual escalation is all about maintaining the right amount of tension without over- or under-doing it. Therefore, to successfully sexually escalate with a target you must have a feel for the right amount of tension
Can you think of other places to apply the concepts of status and tension? They come into play in all aspects of our lives and having a fundamental understanding of these concepts is absolutely necessary.
The next time you’re out in a social situation try to make yourself aware of (1) each person’s status your interactions, and (2) the amount of tension being created by the status. Work on getting a feel for these to concepts and then start trying to play with them. Take on different statuses in an interaction, if you are typically very dominant and high status, try playing the other role. Once you’ve tried some different statuses try switching statuses mid-interaction. How do people respond?
Likewise, start experimenting with tension. Be an asshole and show disinterest. How do people respond? Try being the nice guy and supplicating. How do people respond? You know you’ve created a lot of/too much tension when people start getting defensive. On the other hand, you haven’t created enough tension when people are letting you down softly or just walking away.
Experiment with these concepts and let us know what you find!