10 CRUCIAL MAN LESSONS YOU WILL LEARN FROM ‘SWINGERS’
“Swingers” is a staple for men looking to improve their game. Not just their game in dating, but in life. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a guy in LA who is trying to get over his ex. They broke up six months ago, but Mike — the protagonist — just can’t seem to get out of his funk. With the help of his friends, he is able to finally break free from the shackles of bad self-esteem and move on. Here are some lessons Mike learned through his journey, lessons that will help you, too.
1. Insecurity will pass, so don’t act on it.
A consensus top pick for the cringiest moment in cinematic history belongs to Mike (Jon Favreau) calling a girl he just met at a bar. At this point, he is at the lowest of lows. His life is shit and he’s desperate to find a girl to forget about his ex. Ignoring the “two day” rule, Mike leaves a total of six messages on her machine, culminating in her answering and saying, “Mike, don’t ever call me again.”
This scene paints the perfect picture of what NOT to do when you’re insecure. Desperation is suicide in the dating world, basically chick repellent. If you act on insecurity to escape your insecurity, odds are you’ll end up more insecure than ever after the inevitable rejection.
2. “What they respect is honesty.”
This is a quote from Trent (Vince Vaughn), referring to women. In the movie, Trent plays the ultimate cad, a relentlessly optimistic pickup artist whom Mike often calls an asshole. According to Trent, what single women value most is honesty: “You see how they dress when they go out,” he tells Mike in Las Vegas, “They want you to notice them. All you’re doing is letting them know it’s working.”
In the end, even though Mike is still wading in bad self-esteem, he picks up Lorraine (Heather Graham) with a newfound brand of self-deprecation. Trent also outlines the cons of being too meekly respectful in the dating world: “You’ve got to get yourself off this respect kick. There’s nothing wrong with letting the girls know you’re money and that you want to party.” In sum, if your “respect” is based in insecurity, or not wanting to cause offense, all the single ladies can smell the lack of confidence.
3. If you’re at a party and a girl asks you what kind of car you drive, lie.
If a girl is shallow enough to determine your worth based on your ride, respond with the ultimate shallowness. Lie like you’ve never lied before. When a stuck-up Hollywood bimbo asks Mike what kind of car he drives, he responds with, “A Cavalier,” ending her interest. Superficial girls deserve superficial answers. He should’ve replied with, “A McLaren F1.” Don’t feel like you’re a bastard for doing so, because she’s an even bigger bastard to begin with.
4. Don’t talk about puppy dogs and ice cream, because it’s going to land you in the friend zone.
In the beginning of the film when Mike and Trent hit Las Vegas, they meet two cocktail waitresses. Trent has no problems, obviously, but when they end up back at the girls’ place, Mike begins talking about his ex. He begins the sad puppy dog routine and the girls feel bad for him, putting the nail in his coffin. So says Trent, “You keep talking about puppy dogs and ice cream of course it’s going to end up on the friendship tip.”
5. “They know not to come back until you really forget.”
Rob (Ron Livingstone) offers a series of wisdoms throughout the movie. One of which is at the beginning, when he and Mike are discussing Mike’s ex. “You can’t do anything to make her want to come back,” Rob says. “In fact, you can only do stuff to make her not want to come back.” He tells Mike to either forget about her or pretend to forget about her. Both suck, but both are the only options you have.
The rub, Rob says, is that once you actually move on, she comes back. The universe has a funny way of working when it comes to the game of relationship tag. In theory, finally forgetting about her will put you on higher ground, increasing your value. When she ultimately calls, the choice is yours to take her back.
6. Strive to be “the guy behind the guy behind the guy.”
That is, in your professional life. When Trent and Mike are in Vegas, Trent tells a girl that Mike is “the guy behind the guy behind the guy.” This is a lie, of course, and he’s only trying to pique her interest. The point is that “the guy behind the guy behind the guy” is an ambitious man, one who plots all the moves. Basically, an executive or manager. Since most of us strive to reach higher and higher in our professional lives, the ultimate goal should be to be the guy behind the guy behind the guy.
7. “You don’t look at the things that you have. You only look at the stuff that you don’t have.”
Once again, a sage Rob quote. He tells Mike this in the darkness of his apartment when he’s depressed beyond all hope. The reason Mike is depressed, as the film conveys, is because he doesn’t see the good things he has, only the bad. He sees the loss of his ex and his (relatively) unimpressive career as a comedian. But with perspective, he’s living his dream in Los Angeles. You can always choose to look at your lot in life in a different way. Odds are it’s not as bad as you think, and someone has it worse. Like Rob, who was turned down in his audition for Goofy.
8. Don’t be that guy in the PG-13 movie that everybody’s really hoping makes it happen. Be the guy in the R-rated movie.
“The guy you’re not sure whether or not you like yet.” Trent urges Mike to adopt this frame of mind in the bar while hunting for numbers. To clarify, he isn’t saying to be an asshole. He’s only saying to not give the impression that you’re failing in the dating game, because girls will smell it.
Consider John McClane and Andy from “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” One is a badass who probably has no problem picking up women, and the other, as Dennis Reynolds would say, is “a pit of despair.” One is a predator and the other has zero predator instinct. If you’re on the hunt, be John McClane.
9. “Two days is industry standard.”
“Swingers” offers a collection of philosophical dating rules. One of which is to wait two days after you get a girl’s number to call her. (You saw how it went with Mike in No. 1.) Or, if you’re feeling like John McClane, wait three days. If you’re Trent, wait six days. The goal is to not seem desperate. Women will think you’re a creep if you call too soon.
10. Learn to tell stories.
In the same way that telling a story can make you memorable after a job interview, stories make you memorable when it comes to dating. Learn to be a storyteller. Think of the best stories you know: stories from your childhood, stories like that time you almost died, or small amusing anecdotes from work. Just make sure it isn’t boring.
For example, Trent is a master storyteller. Remember that scene in the trailer with Mike and those two girls? He tells a story about the time he made everyone cry during an acting audition. It’s riveting. And he was victorious…until Mike interrupts them to use a phone so that he can try to call his ex.