In 218 BC, Hannibal of Carthage and his army crossed the Alps into Italy.

The move brought with it considerable risk. The alps were dangerous territory — the weather was harsh, the passes narrow, and Hannibal’s army (which included elephants) suffered nearly half its force trying to pass through.

But militarily, it was a masterstroke.

Rome — which Carthage was at war with — was now directly threatened. As Hannibal marched his army through Italy, he won battle after battle — from Trebia to Lake Trasimene to Cannae — decisively. Whole Roman armies were completely obliterated in these battles; in the last one, 80,000 Roman soldiers, one of the two roman consuls, and a third of its senate were slaughtered in a single morning. It remains to this day one of the bloodiest (single day) battles in all of human history, and one of the most devastating in the entire history of Rome.

Hannibal was such a brilliant military mind that many of the tactics that we take for granted today — turning movements, envelopments — were developed by him.

But despite all of this, Hannibal lost the war against Rome.

Some might argue, fairly, this wasn’t Hannibal’s fault. Carthage did not give him the siege equipment or supplies required to assault Rome itself.

But Hannibal was also averse to taking “the prize.” Rather than threaten Rome, he spent the next few years ravaging the Italian countryside, until Rome marched on Carthage itself, forcing Hannibal to return home — where he was defeated and exiled.

As Hannibal’s lieutenant told him after he refused to march on defenseless Rome after the Battle of Cannae, “Hannibal, you know how to gain a victory, but not how to use one.”

Tactics vs Strategy

When I work with guys on their dating and relationships, most of the time all they want me to do is fix their specific situation.

They want me to play the role of Hannibal.

Truth be told, I’m pretty fucking good at it. It’s easy for me to see what chinks there are in an opponents armor. If there’s a move a guy can do to gain advantage with a particular woman, I can see it, and I can help him execute.

Psychological warfare is my forte, and if I weren’t such a prince of a guy, I’d be out there successfully manipulating people left and right.

But as time’s gone on, I’ve almost begun to wonder — what’s the point?

Dating and relationship tactics are all well and good. They can get you want you want — at least situationally.

But more often than not, all that happens when you win the battle is you lose the war.

I’ve gotten emails from guys asking how to turn scenarios in their favor. But when you look at it, you wonder why they want anything to do with that situation to begin with!

It’s the proverbial dog chasing the car — sure, I can get you there dude, but what’s gonna happen then? You think things are going to be better or worse?

One man asked me how he could continue an affair with a woman whose husband was returning from abroad. Yet this woman had stated from the outset the fling was simply that — a fling — and when her man came back she’d be done with him.

He’s asking me how he can make the affair continue in spite of her desire to return to her husband. But for what? The ego validation of her wanting him more? Ethics aside, by all accounts the husband is a big, aggressive dude — you sure you want to put yourself in that situation?

Guys get so caught up in the blow-by-blow of tactics they miss the strategy: am I doing what’s right for me? Is this “big picture” what I want? Or am I missing the forest through the trees?

The Dangers Of Tactics; The Virtues Of Strategy

This guy is far from the exception. One guy I’m working with is in some ways the opposite situation; he’s abroad and estranged from his wife, and we’re working on keeping her interested until his return.

The problems stemmed from some stupid stuff he did before which damaged his comfort with her. But rather than hold onto her desire and try to rebuild that trust, he made the common mistake of conceding desire in an effort to regain it.

As I have talked about in my in-depth look at comfort-desire dynamics in relationships, this is a fatal move that men unfortunately seem hardwired to do.

But when I came into the picture there was still some desire there, so we had a chance. It was an ember glowing on an otherwise put-out fire.

So I developed some powerful maneuvers to “turn the tables” on her and get that fire going again. Sure enough, she went from berating him and telling him she was not interested in him to wondering where he had gone and checking in.

how to handle a first date
Guess where I reveal some of those secrets?

The dynamic was improving.

But the guy, though he started to internalize some of my tactics, maintained his earlier mindset… which gradually began to sabotage the progress we made. He’s been so invested in the tactics he has not yet internalized the broader point I’ve been trying to press on him: he needs to change his strategy.

He needs to stop thinking of himself as indebted to this marriage and this woman. Yes, he has made mistakes, but not only is guilt no way to live, women aren’t attracted to martyrs. He’s got to forgive himself. If he wants to save his marriage the only way to do it is by focusing on himself and on what he wants to do; becoming the man he wants to become.

He needs to become the goal, not her.

Men, especially self-improvement oriented men, miss that while women may want them to change, women never want them to change for them.

Not only do they smell the insincerity of these so-called “evolutions,” but the intentions and expectations behind them destroy a man’s frame. There are few ways a guy can leave himself more strategically vulnerable.

It’s the trap of tactical thinking with women that can become genuinely dangerous: if you care too much about attracting a woman, you will become excessively attached to her and lose the frame.

Far too few coaches take this seriously, which, sure, makes good one-off testimonials about how their client “got the girl” (for those couple of minutes, anyway). But this approach often comes with the price of ignoring the “big picture” and leaves their clients worse off long-term… because their clients haven’t shifted their “strategic mindset” towards themselves.

My client may or may not keep his wife, but the paradox is the only way he has a shot is if he stops focusing his efforts on getting her and directs them on himself instead. This is a win-win: he maximizes his chances of getting her while putting himself in the best situation possible if he doesn’t. I have tried to nudge (read: shove) him in this direction by getting him to start thinking about his future — even if it does not include her — and what he wants out of life. And progress is being made. He’s a truly great guy. But I want him to understand that difficult as it may be to see, he shouldn’t be worried because she is lucky to have him. He is the catch, and will do well for himself whatever happens.

Once he starts thinking that — and I mean really starts thinking that — not only will his mental situation improve, but he will likely find his romantic dynamic do the same thing.

But it’s a Catch-22, because the more aware he becomes of this reality, the easier the path towards it can get co-opted. Awareness brings the pitfalls of rationalization. You must always watch that your strategy — “I want a high quality romantic life” — does not mutate into tactics — “I want a high quality romantic life, so I need her.”

Or else, all your brilliant tactics are doing is buying time — or better put — delaying the inevitable.

Conclusions: Are Tactics Worth Anything?

Frame is foundational to attraction, ergo a man’s romantic strategy is part and parcel with his maintenance of the frame.

But tactics do matter; they matter enormously. When used correctly they amplify attraction and make seduction much easier. I got into my first relationship entirely due to tactics, and my marriage developed with a particularly high amount of passion because of the same. Tactics overlap heavily with Persona; you’d be a fool to ignore them.

Tactics are finesse, however, and their main use is at critical junctures. Whether that is early in your interactions with a woman or (potentially) in your final ones, tactics give you an advantage over the competition, buy you time, and help you to persuade.

But tactics alone cannot win you anything enduring.

Get your mindset — aka your strategy — right if you want that.

And if you need help? You should reach out to me for coaching.

My gift is my ability to navigate the trees of dating and relationships without losing sight of the forest.

Like a doctor, I alleviate symptoms while tackling the structural problems.

You can expect me to show you the perfect moves in any scenario with a girl… all while making sure the way we approach the situation leaves you better off fundamentally.

In other words, you’ll come out with better quality/quantity of women, but also an evolved perspective for the long haul.

It’s not for most men.

The beginning is especially intense, as I will rip all the lies you’ve told yourself out of your head.

But you’ll come out stronger and more aware of both yourself and women than you ever could have imagined.

Shoot me an email at [email protected] if you’re interested in learning more, or go here.

Everything is confidential; you never have to worry about anybody ever knowing you even talked to me.

(though there are more of you out there than you think)

– Pat

PS Here’s the link to the coaching application.