What’s Wrong With Pickup Artists?

by Michael on July 28, 2009 · 0 comments

I’ve been thinking about pickup artists lately. Or more precisely, people who hate pickup artists. Or are at least irked by them.

They’ve got their reasons: pickup artists are predators, they manipulate innocent women, all they want is a collection of conquests. Then there’s the “neg”: the nadir of their craft, they will actually insult poor, unsuspecting women! People can talk for hours about the “neg” and how evil it is.

The Dark Lord of the Sith tests the David Bowie opener. (Flickr photo by ViNull)

The Dark Lord of the Sith tests the David Bowie opener. (Flickr photo by ViNull)

I’ve read it here, and I’ve read it there. A guy named Conor Friedersdorf can’t seem to stop writing about it.

99 Problems but a Neg Ain’t One

Yeah, looking at the surface it’s easy to hate pickup artists. They’re everywhere. If it’s not a bestselling book about them, it’s a bestselling book for them, a reality TV show about creating them, or a couple thousand trying to sell e-books, seminars or “boot camps.” Every single one has solid game and photos of random attractive women on their web pages, and for a price, they’ll share the secrets you need to “pull” 8s and 9s – guaranteed!

And sure, there are some deep, deep issues with the pickup artist “community.” But first, the myths:

1. Pickup tactics are exploitative and manipulative.

If so, every man and woman who flirt are being manipulative, as is every person who chooses only their best photos for Match.com and everyone who dresses up for a date.

As I’ve said before, pickup tactics are just social skills. Guys are learning how to carry themselves, flirt, talk to a woman, and even touch a woman (in a way that isn’t creepy). Yes, all of these things are designed to make them more attractive to the opposite sex, but when women aren’t complaining about guys learning to be more social they’re complaining about guys being socially inept (we just can’t win, can we?). Rather than a sneaky method of seducing women, think of it as a sneaky method of making guys social and fun.

Oh, and pickup artists are taught that “no” means “no.”

2. Pickup artists just want notches on their bedposts.

This is a massive overgeneralization. The vast majority of guys who have learned seduction tactics did it because they weren’t meeting any women. Their goals vary like the rest of the male world. A huge number of them would be overjoyed to meet their soulmate. Many of the best instructors have steady girlfriends. Even in The Game, the author ended up finding the woman of his dreams and coupled off with her.

Most of the guys I see in the forums want to go on dates and continue seeing a good woman, just like everyone else. What we call “pickup” is just a way for them to get to that date.

The biggest difference in the mindset of a pickup artist from an “average frustrated chump” is that the pickup artist doesn’t put his self-worth on the line every time he tries to meet a woman. While it might be disappointing to some women that he won’t be crushed by their rejection, it’s certainly better in the long run for the guy.

3. Those “negs” are insulting and rude.

If it’s insulting or rude, is isn’t a neg. A neg is supposed to be teasing, like when you give your best friends crap. It demonstrates that a guy is at a girl’s level, where he isn’t a fawning puddle of goo, and that he’s comfortable in the interaction. If a neg is well-done, the girl should be smiling when all is said and done.

That’s pretty much all there is to say โ€” except to the guys who are getting it wrong.

4. What’s up with that fuzzy hat and goggles?

Yeah, that’s kind of overdoing it. Even Mystery, whose whole “game” was based on acting like a rock star, toned it down by the time The Pickup Artist 2 came around.

The Bad and the Ugly

So there we have the biggest criticisms against pickup artists, and the case for the defense. That’s not to say everything’s groovy in pickup land – the problems are more behind the scenes:

1. Too many guys lost in details and missing the big picture.

Every time I read pickup forums, I get kind of sad. A lot of the guys treat interaction like a video game: they want to know that one move to get past that one specific obstacle, and they’re stuck without it. Guys are never sure what’s a “test” and what’s not, or take the concept of “alpha” way too far. And the fun really starts when they actually secure a date with their target: there are no boot camps to walk them through that.

Read The Mystery Method or go to a seminar and everything is an acronym, abbreviation or slang that’s intended to be memorized. And it is. (Chances are that by now, every decently cute girl who has been to clubs much at all has been asked if she saw those two girls fighting outside.) There are a lot of guys who can talk about stacking openers or F2M, but don’t really get it when an interaction goes “off book.”

The last thing a boot camp instructor is going to do is hand back a guy’s money and tell him he really needs to work on his hygiene or hit the gym, work on some inner issues first, or maybe even grow up a little (recently the community held a convention for guys under 21).

2. A drama-filled, incestuous “community.”

There’s always some pickup guru feuding with another pickup guru. Or forming business partnerships and then breaking them up acrimoniously. Falling in and out of favor, depending on the day and whether it benefits someone. Or sitting back, sniping and enjoying the schadenfreude of their comrades’ skirmishes.

There’s a lot of money at stake with workshops and boot camps, and sometimes it gets the best of some guys. But because most of the more popular instructors learned either from or alongside the others (most aren’t too far removed from being socially withdrawn themselves), it’s like a dysfunctional family in competition for those dollars. Newbies are heavily encouraged to hang with the community โ€” a good idea in theory, especially when a lot of them don’t have their own social circle to fall back on โ€” but these impressionable guys often get caught up in the metagame between authority figures. That’s the exact opposite of meeting and enjoying the company of women.

3. Hard-selling guys on “magic bullets.”

This is the part that leaks into the world outside and gives seduction such a bad name (well, that and having thousands of guys running around calling themselves pickup artists, talking like they’re in some freaky combination of psych class and Top Gun). Hell, there’s even a top instructor who answered the more rational community members’ assertion that “there are no magic bullets” by calling his e-book “Magic Bullets.”

In reality, becoming a great seducer takes much more than memorization of a book or even “field” repetition of routines – it takes a lot of all-around self-improvement. The truth is that 90 percent of the guys who read a pickup book, take a seminar or go out on a boot camp won’t end up with a “9” or “10,” much less a string of them, and the guys who do excel have something going for them besides a repeatable patter and a few well-timed physical cues.

To Sum Up

There’s nothing inherently wrong with learning seduction skills. I can personally testify to how they improved my love life. But build yourself a rounded life. Pick up some weights, find some good-fitting clothes, meditate or journal, get out into the world, and then maybe pick up a pickup book. But don’t be surprised if you do the other stuff and you need the book a whole lot less.

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