Gilsinan: So you would probably stand by some of the basic principles, that you don’t have to be afraid to talk to people, that kind of thing? It sounds like some of the things you object to in the former work is just the tactics, right, but not necessarily the overall message, which is have better self-esteem, what are you so afraid of, talking to people?
Strauss: Yeah exactly. I stand by the book, I still love the book, though I can’t guarantee it because I haven’t read it in 10 years—but I think I do. But I stand by it because it was honestly who I was at the time. What I maybe have more issues with—and I already had issues with the community then—I think they’re even stronger now because I see the unhealthy compulsions behind it, and also maybe more against the rationalizations for manipulation that I’ve spoken since then. To be honest, I mean I’m so glad I feel differently because that means I’ve grown and changed and there was a point to writing another book.
Gilsinan: I too have aged since I read The Game, you have aged, a lot of my bros who I read The Game with back in the day are married or on their way there. Are there game principles, if not techniques, that you can use in your marriage to get out of chores and stuff?
Strauss: I think that The Game is a rite of passage for dating and The Truth, to me, is a rite of passage for relationships, so there is absolutely no point in my relationship where I ever use The Game.
Gilsinan: Do you hear that, Ingrid?
Strauss: Exactly, do you hear that, Ingrid? Because part of The Game is that you have a hidden intention. And I think part of a relationship is really opening up your life to the other person, the good and the bad, and being comfortable with that. So the answer is that if you don’t want to do the chores, you sit down and have a conversation about it.
Gilsinan: What? That’s such a disappointing answer!
Strauss: But here’s the cool part of the answer. Here is what I do. There’s something called non-violent communication, created by Marshall Rosenberg, who recently passed away. It’s The Game for relationships, because it’s a way to communicate and be heard and be understood without requiring an outcome. I think the issue with The Game is requiring an outcome, having that hidden intention, but the great thing about non-violent communication is it’s the way to communicate without bringing all your baggage, all your shit into it, and having an outcome that’s bringing you both closer together.
So the answer is that there are tactics in The Truth, but I feel like they’re good ones. In The Game, obviously a lot of my stuff came from low self-esteem, surprise surprise. And I had very critical parents, and you know, the narcissism. So before my son was born, I wrote him a letter that said, hey I just want you to know, your mother and I love each other so much, and we made this decision to have you, and you were born out of love, and you’re wanted, and this is the story of how you came into the world. Just before he was born I put it in an envelope and sealed it, sent it to him at our address and now it’s just sort of sealed in a folder for when he’s older, to know that whatever happens he comes from a foundation of love, of being loved and being wanted.
I think that’s what we lacked in The Game, and [what] we went out to find from other people.