Don’t hate The Game, love The Truth
Exploring Neil Strauss’s battle with demons — and why a User Manual alone can’t defeat them
Neil Strauss is a rock star writer. He literally covers rock stars for Rolling Stone, and also has penned megahits like The Game, which follows a society of pick-up experts as they seduce women around the world.
I was intrigued to stumble on his latest book called The Truth, which explores his personal journey riding the seas of love. It starts with him getting caught cheating on his girlfriend, and proceeds through intensive sex addiction rehab, then ditching rehab, then exploring all types of complicated sexual relationships (swingers, polyamory, an honest-to-god harem) before realizing those are logistical and emotional nightmares and plunging back into therapy. The Hollywood ending features him getting back together with his girlfriend–and getting married.
(I also loved the repeated cameos from Rick Rubin playing the wise love guru. Anybody who saved Kanye West’s Yeezus can do anything.)
Strauss’s magical ending buffs over the heart of the story, which is the ongoing battle most of us fight every day to conquer our demons. Strauss punches his way through the ghosts of “emotional incest“–or when parents make their kids partners–and the resultant profound distrust of relationships that’s calcified over his life.
It’s a gripping, candid read that paints Strauss in all his complexity. I’ve been there. We all have.
Strauss’s saga reminds me of the wise words of my friend Sandro, who actually inspired the User Manual concept one fateful night (more on that later). According to Sandro:
“We all have our shit. It’s a question of whether we own it.”
So achingly true.
Which leads me to the next point: A User Manual won’t help you own your shit. It won’t magically defeat the demons swashbuckling for your soul. It won’t resolve your issues with your parents or childhood. Only you can own that–and go down the wormholes of exploration and healing that can rebuild your foundation. That’s a massive multifaceted challenge–and fodder for libraries of work.
What the User Manual can do is optimize a serious relationship with practical directions. Along the way, you can learn more about what you really need–and kick over the rocks of what those areas you need to address as part of a broader odyssey.
Back to The Truth: it’s info-packed and gripping, taking us inside wild words of orgies and sex therapy. But what I’m left with is how hard this stuff is. Managing ourselves to be our best, especially with people we care about, is a tremendous life-long journey. My goal is for the User Manual to play an indispensable role making that adventure as quick and effective as can be.