Quick Definition: A guy who tries too hard to win the approval of others.
A “try-hard,” whether in pickup or other areas of life, is a person who puts a disproportionately large amount of effort into winning the approval of those around him. Paradoxically, the harder a person tries to get other people to like and respect them, the less respect he will get.
This is especially true with women, who are approached by needy, approval seeking guys all the time. Rather than approaching women and trying to win their approval, the more successful approach for PUAs to take is to lean back, demonstrate a degree of indifference, and frame interactions so that the women is trying to win their approval, rather than the other way around.
Typical behaviors of try-hards include things such as taking women out on lavishly expensive dinners on a first date, buying women they’ve just met expensive flowers and gifts, and dressing up way too nice for the venue that they’re in (e.g. a full suit and tie in a dive bar). What all these behaviors have in common is that they are all done in an attempt to impress people. However, the subcommunication of these actions is that the guy doing all these things has low value, so he ends up having the opposite effect of what he intended in relation to women, as women respond to social value.
The worst try-hard offenders are wannabe PUAs who try to win the approval of other guys in the community, rather than working to improve their skills with women. Such FNGs often boast about their obviously exaggerated conquests, engage in useless debates on PUA forums, and overuse PUA terminology in an attempt to appear to be experienced PUAs. However, like all try-hard behavior, these end up having the opposite effect.
The important point to remember is to never try to appear what you aren’t. Being inexperienced and pretending to be experienced is worse than just appearing inexperienced in the first place. Rather than being a try-hard and seeking external sources of validation, the true PUA measures his worth by his own metric and doesn’t care what other people think about him.
In RSD, Tyler talks about the period of being a “try-hard” that most newbies experience. During this time the person must step out of his comfort zone to try something new. Because of the lack of reference points, the newbie will have to go through a phase where they may be perceived as “trying too hard.” As they gain more feedback and reference points, they can better pinpoint their flaws and re-adjust their behavior to meet their own pickup goals, rather than the expectations and perception of others.