Criticisms of PUA’s – An In Depth Analysis

A little foreword about the following article.  I wrote it more than a month after I had finished writing the rest of my material – everything about online dating and up to having an abundance mentality.  I was prompted to write it based upon the advice given to me by a dating coach whom I’d asked to review my site.  He said that while I’d written some good stuff, most dating coaches would hesitate to associate themselves with my site, since I freely stated that I’m a PUA (pickup artist).

Upon further contemplation of my friend’s advice, I decided that it would be disingenuous (and difficult) to censor references to PUA’s, and deny the role the pickup community played in my development as a person and a man.  Instead I decided to engage in the criticism of PUA’s, by finding articles that purported it in what I felt was a fair and balanced manner, and then providing my own commentary on their allegations.  There’s good and bad in the pickup community, as there is in people.  But the essence of it, that drew me, and helped me – the yearning to be better, to improve oneself and his lot in life, instead of accepting things as they are – remains.  And this I believe, is a force for good

Note: If you are only interested in online dating advice and not pickup as I defined it on the first page, then you probably don’t need to read this article beyond the foreword.  I would still recommend reading the article consent in the #MeToo era, as regardless of whether you’re a PUA or not, you would hope to be in a situation where you and a partner might have sex.  If you’re all good for consent, then I’d suggest skipping ahead to the final article moving forward.  If you’ve never heard of PUA’s, or you’ve only heard of them in pop culture references from around 2012, but are interested in learning more, someone wrote a very pedantic wikipedia entry on it that I recommend.

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Before going further I’d like to address the negative image that PUA’s seem to have in society at large.  It seems to me that a lot of the criticism of PUA’s (some of which is justified) had its source in feminist theory and the role of women’s rights in society.  As such I’ll begin by discussing my own thoughts and beliefs on feminism and women’s rights.

The Oxford dictionary defines feminism as “The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes”.  Based on this rather broad definition I’d have to say that I agree with the main ideal of feminism.

I also liked this post by Elle magazine that quotes numerous prominent women on their definition of a feminist.  The key take aways I got were equality, equal opportunity in life and the right for a women to live her life as she pleased, assuming it was within the law.

And finally this post by a blogger named CarolynnMarie titled Feminism: The Basic Foundations which I found quite interesting.  Read the whole thing.  In the section labelled “You Might Be A Feminist If…” she starts listing specific attributes associated with feminism.  I’ll repeat the ones I believe have particular relevance to our discussion on pickup, and just to be clear, I agree with the core intent of each statement.

You Might Be A Feminist If…

“…you are a woman or man that believes in ending sexism.”

“…you believe that women should not fear for their safety at night.”

“…you believe that rape victims should be treated with respect, not suspicion.”

“…you believe that women should not be defined by their bodies.”

“…you want your daughter, mother, friend, sister, girlfriend, or wife to be safe from violence.”

“…you believe that women, women’s work, and women’s opinions matter.”

The next section of the article titled Core Concepts lists a number of ideas that feminism made widely accepted. Again I’ll list those I feel are relevant to pickup.  I’m going to number them in order to easily reference them later:

1.) “Women are entitled to sexual pleasure as much as men are.”

2.) “Women don’t need to be in a relationship with a man to be happy.”

3.) “Treating women as mere sex objects is wrong.”

4.) “Women should not be subject to sexual harassment in the workplace or in school.”

5.) “Women should have equal powers in interpersonal relationships with men.”

6.) “Women have a right to feel safe from the threat of rape.”

7.) “Battering women is a political issue, not a personal matter.”

Actually I’m not entirely sure I understand the last one, but anyways physical assault of anyone is criminal.

Alright lets move on to criticisms of PUA’s.  Have a look at this slate article in response to the following question on Quora: Why Are Women So Negative About The “Pickup Artist” Community? by a woman named Gayle Laakmann McDowell.  It was written in 2012, a time I believe, when awareness of PUA culture due to Neil Strauss’s book The Game, and Mystery’s reality tv show had reached peak level.  Tinder was also released in 2012, although as mentioned earlier it’s full effect on the dating scene had yet to be felt.  After reading The Game, Ms. McDowell became interested in the pickup community, cultivated friendships with PUA’s, and even volunteered in a seminar held by an instructor.  She had a unique opportunity (for a woman) to observe PUA’s and understand their motivations, and in truth I found her writing to be honest and analytical.  I have a strong feeling that if she had been born a man, she would have at least dabbled in pickup.  Anyways the article prompted the following rebuttal from a PUA on Neil Strauss’s site which I again found honest, and could relate to.  I’m going to call Ms. McDowell’s original piece article 1, and the rebuttal article 2.  And for extra discussion I’m going to reference this quora conversation thread prompted by the following question: If most women agree that PUA methods are a horrible way to attract women, then why does it also work with most women?  Ms. McDowell again pops up in the comments, and in fact some other contributors make some good points too.  I’m going to call this article 3, even though it’s not really an article.

Alright lets begin by reviewing article 1, particularly her criticisms.  She became disillusioned about the pickup artist community when she saw the (in her opinion, negative – I am somewhat in agreement, more on this later) effects it had on men.  She observed that the majority of guys were awkward and socially inept, but they just wanted to have a girlfriend and a relationship. However the classes were about how to get laid by picking up girls at bars, not getting a girlfriend.  She then gave the opinion without factually backing it up that a meeting at a bar has never led to a relationship.  (I’m assuming this means they’re only good for one night stands).  She then states that these guys would have been better off just online dating.  Again I would assume this is because they would then have real one on one interactions with a girl (a date), and start gaining valuable real world experiences.

I’ve already written about the pros and cons of online dating for men in previous pages, so I won’t rehash it all here, but suffice it to say that a man must be physically attractive enough to get a constant influx of dates, that he can gain experience interacting with women.  And since “dating” is supposed to be a filter for relationship candidates, a man would want the girl to meet his standards for a long term partner, both physical and everything else.  And I would put an emphasis on physical attraction, especially in online dating. I know this is shallow, but men are shallow, at least when it comes to whom they find attractive.  That’s not to say that women aren’t shallow, or have as much right to be as shallow as men.  And to make a slightly dangerous generalization a woman that finds herself below the physical desirability level of the average male online dater, can likely improve her desirability with a change of lifestyle that includes healthy eating, and going to the gym.  However something like a minimum height requirement, which is more common among women online daters looking for men, is unchangeable.  The average guy (the common PUA parlance is AFC, or average frustrated chump) will message many women online, that he finds attractive.  Few will reply, and of those even fewer will actually result in meeting up.  Eventually, depending on how big the disconnect is between his own sense of how physically attractive he is and reality, and in desperation and social isolation, he can end up on a date with someone well below what he would consider desirable.  This can be a bitter pill to swallow for a man.  As an AFC, I was never really that unattractive.  An honest coach rated me at about a 6 out of 10 in terms of looks.  But as I once told a female tv producer who was interested in PUA’s, what ultimately drew me to pickup was that I refused to settle.  I had aspirations beyond my place in the hierarchy that something like online dating would put me.  And I was fine with being single, and working on improving myself.

Alright that was a long detour, lets go back to the original discussion about online dating from article 1.  Suppose that of the 24 guys from Ms. McDowell’s seminar, at least one of them was relatively attractive.  Enough that if he online dated he would definitely get female attraction, and he could pick and choose the ones that he found most attractive, and he was averaging about one or two dates a week.  Leading up to a date both the guy and girl would be looking forward to it.  One little problem however. This guy, despite being good looking, was nerdy, awkward, and had poor communication skills.  Maybe he was too shy and his date found that she had to do all the talking, and leading of the conversation.  Something that she didn’t like because she was quiet herself, or she took his lack of participation for arrogance or not caring.  Maybe all he did was talk about his obsession with world of warcraft, without thinking to ask his date about her interests.  The impression she’d be left with would be of a handsome, but boring dude.  What about sex?  There is a high possibility that this guy despite being in at least his 20’s had very limited to zero sexual experience.  If he’s only experienced sexual pleasure from masturbating to porn, chances are there is some level of sexual dysfunction going on.  Maybe he was too scared of rejection and couldn’t bring himself to escalate, or show any intent towards her at all.  A more normal guy might go home with her but be too aggressive due to his own selfish desires, despite her repeated protestations to slow down.  Our sample guy would eventually stop when she firmly said no, but he would lash out verbally in frustration since he thought he’d get laid.  Irrevocable damage would have been done to any possibility of a relationship.  She would go home, and tell her friend over the phone “that he was a creep”.  He would go on a date with the next girl and repeat it all over again, since his underlying issues, psychological or otherwise, just hadn’t been dealt with.

Alright back to article 1.  Ms. McDowell’s main complaint was that the seminar was just teaching guys to pick up girls at bars and get laid, instead of getting a girlfriend for a relationship.  I ask this question: How many healthy relationships, barring a mutual agreement such as no intercourse before marriage, didn’t involve sex?  Sex is a part of most adult relationships, an important one at that.  I think the majority of the guys in the seminar could have benefited from a little more sexual experience.  When you are coming from a place of lack or scarcity, you’ll grasp at the nearest achievable goal, instead of realizing your true potential.  To use an analogy, a dehydrated man in a desert would do anything for a few drops of water, but getting this would not solve his real problem, which is being stuck in the freaking desert.  Be careful what you wish for.  Relationships, especially among young people can be fleeting.  Your “girlfriend” could break up with you the next day, for reasons that she’ll never clearly say.  I can understand the longing for having a real bond with someone that becomes a long term relationship, but getting to that place may require personal growth, by working on recognizing and weeding out negative qualities in oneself, while cultivating positive attributes, and recognizing the characteristics that one wants in a partner.

One more thing before we move on.  I thought I detected a note of judgement in Ms McDowell’s statement about teaching men to pickup women at bars, for what may be a one night stand.  Even if I didn’t, I think that society does judge such actions negatively.  Is there something wrong with a man desiring sex with a woman without being in a long term relationship with her?  Is there something wrong with wanting to have sex with more than one regular partner?  And for that matter should a woman be judged for going to a bar with friends, hoping to meet someone she finds sufficiently attracted to, that she can have pleasurable sex with?  Remember my  core concepts of feminism from earlier:

1.) “Women are entitled to sexual pleasure as much as men are.”

2.) “Women don’t need to be in a relationship with a man to be happy.”

Agreed, but remember it works both ways.  My answer to the above three questions is no.  What goes on between consenting adults is their own business.  And with regards to the third question, how can I negatively judge a woman for doing something that I want her to do?  The only caveat to all this, in my opinion, is if lies or misrepresentation are involved.  I suspect that some of the guys in the seminar, while desiring a girlfriend, were also interested in how to have casual sex, and believed in at least some form of the previous statements on personal growth.  I don’t think that Gayle McDowell considered the possibility that her very presence at the seminar, as an attractive girl, may have altered the answers these men would have otherwise given for why they were there.  As such, kudos to the guy who admitted that he just wanted a threesome lol.

Alright moving along with article 1, she then lists a couple of features of the instructions that she found disturbing.

1.) Touch a girl when she talks to you.

2.) Criticize a girl (sorry I mean “neg”).

3.) When a girl seems uninterested, she’s just playing games.

4.) Don’t talk about “real” topics, like education and your job. They’re too “boring.”

5.) No woman is out of your league.

With regards to item 1) she wrote the following:

“The problem here is that touching can be flirty, but it can also be really creepy when the touching isn’t natural. And when you’re telling an awkward, nerdy guy who has no idea how to flirt “OK, now, touch a girl here,” it’s almost always creepy. (Personally, I don’t like random guys at bars touching me. It makes me really uncomfortable.)”

I’m actually inclined to agree with her on this.  While fear of physical contact is a problem, instructing a newbie to touch a girl as part of some kind of tutorial is a recipe for disaster. A more calibrated, experienced guy like Mystery, who it sounds like a lot of the material in this seminar is taken from, can pull it off so that it actually heightens flirting.  I personally never felt the need to have to do it, which is not to say that it didn’t happen.  If anything, if you’re really on your game, girls may instigate physical contact with you, in the form of playful poking or mock hitting.  An old coach of mine used to say that the only acts of kino (PUA parlance for physical contact) that mattered were the initial make out, and actual intercourse. (He would use cruder language than this).

Alright lets look at item 2): Criticize a girl (sorry I mean “neg”).

In my opinion this is the most cited reason for PUA hate, and it’s easy to see why.  Many non-PUA’s describe it as the belief that PUA’s need to lower the social status or self esteem of the woman they are talking to, with insulting comments in order to succeed in seducing her.  Have a look at the following link, which I’ll call article 4. (Yes, I know I haven’t talked about article 2 and 3 yet, I’ll get to them).

The fall of the Pickup Artist

Instead of an opinion piece its more of an investigation into pickup, describing different branches or philosophies, and their practitioners.  However Mystery Method, as described in The Game, is discussed in the beginning.  It’s difficult to deny the earlier definition of a neg when there’s this actual quote from Neil Strauss “The purpose of a neg,” … “is to lower a woman’s self-esteem while actively displaying a lack of interest.”  Scroll a little further down into article 4, and there’s even a sketch done by Mystery of a woman with arrows drawn to different parts of her body and attire to suggest helpful negs.

Let me proceed further by stating that pickup is a discipline practiced by many different individuals, each having their own personalities, beliefs, and experiences, which results in the particular techniques that they use.  As referenced in article 4, there are many different schools of thought, each usually brought to prominence by some pickup guru that had a large amount of success and developed his technique.  I can only advocate for the pickup that I used, and my own beliefs.  For example, I have very little knowledge or interest in NLP, which is why I won’t give an opinion on it.  But I believe that people should be allowed learn about it, and make their own choices.  I will however comment on Mystery Method, since it was my, and many others, introduction to pickup, and by its prominency it remains the focus of Ms. Mcdowell’s critique.

One thing I believe Mystery did get right was the basics of social dynamics, and the idea of social value in attracting women to men.  He really just codified something that most people inherently knew by the time they reached adulthood, as they’d seen plenty of evidence of it.  Why do male athletes and movie stars get their pick of attractive women? Because they are famous, i.e. they have tremendous social value whenever they enter a room.  For an average joe, talking to strangers in some kind of social gathering, the way to obtain social value, is to be the social centre, or centre of attention.  This can be done through the volume of your voice, presence, body language, and generally how interesting or fun people find whatever you are saying or doing.  So basically be the opposite of the quiet wallflower at a party.  You want to be the person that seems to know everyone, and everyone wants to know.  The other pillar of social dynamics is that if someone you find attractive doesn’t find you attractive initially, then telegraphing your interest through excessive attention will not help your cause.  That’s not to say that you should never show interest, but you should work on attracting her first.  And thats as far as I would take the line of thinking that led to negs.  It’s enough to lean back when talking to a girl, or to position your body to face her friends more than her. It’s enough to smirk, raise an eyebrow and say “oh really…?” when she tells you she’s a fashion model.  It’s basically not being overly impressed, while still being fun and having good energy yourself.  It’s tough to fake this, and it helps to have an abundance mentality.  Which makes sense. When you’ve talked to 50 girls, if the 51st girl isn’t interested, it’s not going to crush your world.  The idea of lowering someone’s self esteem to make her more susceptible to your overtures always sounded douchey to me, the actions of a bully.  If I did make a comment about a girls shoes, or whatever, it wouldn’t be a planned insult, but a spontaneous observation, with some truth to it.  The result should be chuckles, not hurt feelings.  If I did hurt someone’s feelings (or make them upset), I would apologize.  Because that’s not what I’m about.  And anyways I don’t think a healthy person would be attracted to someone they associated negative feelings with upon initially meeting them.  Similar to the discussion on unwanted touching, it can be dangerous for uncalibrated newbies to try out these canned negs.  A lot of these comments, even some of the ones that I say, straddle the line between funny and insulting, and to get the desired result (funny) requires correct timing and delivery.  Two comedic skills that most people need to work at to get right.

The most important thing when initially approaching a girl, is to work on building attraction, i.e. her actually giving a shit about you.  The majority of approaches fail at this step, and many PUA’s (myself included) struggle to get good at this.  Go back and read the first paragraph of the attraction article.  The most skilled PUA I ever met, who himself was a rather unattractive man (though he worked hard on his physical appearance and style), reminded me repeatedly that attraction is an emotion, a feeling.  It is not a logical decision.  And the earlier someone feels a spark of attraction to someone else, especially in a cold approach, the better the odds of success.  This makes first impressions pretty important.  Clearly the easiest way to make an attractive first impression is on the physical level.  It helps to be as good looking (whatever the other person’s definition of that is) as possible.  Besides your god given DNA, this can include good grooming, the way you dress, smiling, physical fitness, making eye contact, posture, body language, and even confidence, which will effect your facial expressions and body language. The second way (and good looks almost always have to be supplemented with some level of this) is to be fun and interesting.  The ideas of social dynamics discussed earlier fall under this category, but it also includes talking to any girl anywhere, be it alone at the mall, or in a club with her friends.  Mystery developed his game to initially use magic tricks, and later on, opinion openers and interesting stories to build attraction.  My game relied on humour.  I used to pride myself on being able to make a girl laugh with the first thing I’d say to her.  In fact I knew that if I couldn’t make a girl laugh a few times in the first couple of minutes, I was probably not going to succeed at attraction.  This was a skill set that I improved with practice, just by going out and talking to people.  It helped that I loved making people laugh, as it made both of us feel good.  As Gayle McDowell mentions, being fun means I would avoid “real” topics like education and my job, at least until the attraction phase is over.  How do I know when to move out of fun mode?  When she starts asking me boring questions about my job, where I went to school, etc.  This is a clear indicator of interest (IOI).  Trust me this is a good thing.  It’s much better than the obvious indicators of disinterest, like ignoring you by looking at her phone, or looking all around for her friends.  There is of course a time to answer such questions honestly, and this is when I’m pretty sure she likes me.  She should also start telling you about herself. If a girl doesn’t show any signs of attraction after a few minutes, and in fact is clearly not interested, then it’s time to move on.  To do otherwise would be wasting your time, and she could consider it harassment.  If she’s shown sign’s of attraction, and you’ve been talking for like an hour before she suddenly seems to lose interest, then it may be better to just take a step back, (adjust your body language, check your phone) and see how she reacts.  And remember she might also be wondering why you haven’t asked for her number, bounced her away from this bar and her friends, or tried to kiss her.  These are things that can be better judged with experience.

Alright that answers 3) and 4) of Ms. McDowell’s criticisms. Ok now for

5) No woman is out of your league.

She uses the example of a fictional guy named Snake, who at 5’3″ is 6 inches shorter than her, is overweight, pimply, and won’t answer a question about what he does for a living.

First of all let me say that I think Snake is a really cool name, and that should get bonus points =)  She is asking him what he does for a living, which would be an indicator of interest (IOI), although she could just be being nice, or really bored.  Context matters.  I don’t really agree with the statement “no woman is out of your league”, a better way to say it would be nothing is impossible, although in this case highly unlikely.  The substantial height difference is not insurmountable, I’ve seen friends take home girls in similar situations.  But boy, Snake would really have to be on his game.  He would have to be a ton of fun, like have her pissing herself laughing, or have huge social proof, like being a mini (no pun intended) celebrity.  The fact of the matter is, he would have a much smaller window of opportunity than a better looking guy.  And to be fair to Gail McDowell, sometimes game is not enough.  It is what it is, although Snake would be my hero for trying.

Ms. McDowell’s main criticism of PUA instruction was essentially the detrimental effect it had on guys, and consequently the women they talked to:

PUA instruction turns awkward, nerdy guys who just want a girlfriend into creepy guys who harass and insult women. And that’s not OK!

PUA instruction teaches guys these mechanical ways of interacting with women that don’t really work and fails to recognize that every woman is different. Some women just won’t go home with you. 

She makes a good point, particularly as she observed this behaviour first hand.  From what I’ve read so far I’m going to assume harassing women refers to pursuing a woman even after she’s shown through words or actions that she is uninterested.  She can reject you within the first 7 to 10 seconds of an interaction, or if you launch into some big long story, maybe after a few minutes.  She can even initially be a little interested, and then lose interest and want you to leave her alone.  There are many, many ways to be rejected lol.  To continue pursuing when you’ve understood that she’s not interested, particularly in the initial stages of an interaction when no amount of attraction has been built up, is wrong.  To lash out in anger after being rejected by saying hurtful and mean comments is worse.  You have to check yourself and lose the ego.  I don’t agree with the idea of comments (negs) meant to insult or lower someone’s self esteem (even relatively benign ones – eg. “I like that skirt. I just saw another girl wearing it a few minutes ago!”), because they can be misused by people who want to hurt others, a lot of times it’s a lie, and uncalibrated newbies tend to misuse them, and it damages their game.  It’s better to just focus on being fun and interesting.  Perhaps my above statements disqualify me as a PUA, but I don’t think so.

It’s easy to understand the impulse to give a nerdy guy who’s too afraid to approach girls (a lot of well adjusted guys are too) a step by step instruction guide like the Mystery Method (feel free to google it).  Just having him open girls and have a conversation is a step forward, never mind if they’re actually finding him attractive.  If you read article 2, which as mentioned earlier is a rebuke of Ms. McDowell’s article, the writer, a pickup artist named roggold, sees this as a necessary intermediate practice state before becoming a more outgoing, fun, well balanced person, and potentially a master PUA.  It’s hard to rain on his positive and optimistic article, but Ms. McDowell seems to say that some of her friends just became, and stayed weird.  They never improved, and presumably became embittered and wrote hateful messages on PUA forums.  See article 3, her comments post.  The problem with a mechanical way of interacting with women, caused by following things like step by step tutorials, is that a guy can be on step 4, wondering why she’s not responding as expected, when the reality is that he didn’t execute step 1 correctly.  For example a PUA could open two girls with the banter line “you girls look like trouble…”.  But if he’s nervous or in his own head, he can forget to smile.  The resulting impression he makes on them can be very different from the fun, flirtatious guy he’s trying to be.  I did this exact thing, and I remember both girls looked at me very seriously, and one cautiously said “no sir, we’re no trouble at all.”  She’d been wondering why this guy that looked like a regular dude, but had the demeanour and attitude of a security guard was trying to mess with them.  The idea that I was merely trying to flirt with them had never crossed her mind.  So within the first second of the encounter, before I’d actually said anything, I’d blown myself out of the water.  I was smart enough to figure it was because I hadn’t smiled, but it took a while before I felt relaxed enough about approaching, while saying this particular opener, that I could do it genuinely.  Pickup can be both simple, and quite difficult.  The other issue with trying to follow some kind of step by step guide in your head, is that it makes it difficult to really be in the moment, to be fun and react to what happens in a set (the girls you’re talking to), to be open, and vulnerable yourself, which I believe is a requirement for a woman to share her thoughts and be open with you.  That’s the only way I know to really connect with someone.

What’s needed is situational awareness.  To look at the other people in the bar and understand what’s going on in each group. Who’s single and hoping to meet someone.  To understand the dynamics in the group of girls that you are talking to, and what they actually think of you.  What’s needed is social intelligence.  Look someone in the eye when speaking or listening.  Speak clearly, and don’t mumble.  Learn to listen, people will become comfortable in your presence.  What’s needed is emotional intelligence.  To understand if a girl is interested, or just politely humouring you before she can leave.  To realize when you’ve scared or shocked a girl with your approach (not good), and to apologize so she doesn’t think you’re a crazy person and call mall security. For the record don’t approach a girl from behind, or try to abruptly stop someone walking towards you with very direct body language, when she’s within ten feet of you.  In this scenario the key is to project your voice and start speaking to her when she’s further away or approach from an angle.  Remember:

6.) “Women have a right to feel safe from the threat of rape.”

She may not realize you are simply trying to improve your social skills and potentially get to know her better.  What’s perhaps missed in Ms. McDowell’s assertion that these PUA’s were weird, is that they weren’t trying to be weird.  Girls aren’t attracted to weird and creepy, they’re attracted to fun and cool.  These guys wanted to be fun and cool (or whatever it was that they thought was attractive) and failed.  Instead of analyzing what they were doing and adjusting, for some reason they doubled down on their thought processes and behaviour.  The tragedy is that most regular non-pua guys won’t approach and talk to a girl that they find attractive for fear of appearing weird or annoying.  And stories of creepy pickup artists fuel that belief.

I found the best method of self analysis was simply to write a field report detailing a particular encounter.  I would replay everything in my head, writing down what I did and said, and my reasons for doing it, and then I would write down what she said and did in response.  In time my memory greatly improved as a result of this, with my reports going from a few paragraph’s of summary to detailed conversations, that went on for pages and pages, especially as I got better and had longer interactions where a lot more happened.  With the greater volume of data (my memory) and my accumulated experience, my analytical skills with regards to pickup improved, and knowledge and insights were gained about my own game, and how women were reacting to it.  What was working, what was not, and why.  It was like a big feedback loop.  Supplementing this was going out with wings (fellow PUA’s) and coaches.  Observing what they did, and getting their own feedback on what they observed that perhaps I was oblivious to.

Alright I’m going to finish off by discussing anything I haven’t already covered from Gail McDowell’s comments in article 3.  She states that pickup is

basically a trick.  A wonderful placebo.

It’s not a trick, it’s a skill set that can be improved upon provided you take the right approach.  There will be some degree of success obtained from simply walking up to a girl and talking to her, saying she’s cute, and then asking for her phone number.  A lot of guys won’t even do this.  However you’re forcing a girl to make a decision based on her initial first impression of you.  A woman that feels she has better options, or even just more pressing priorities in that moment will likely reject you.  There’s a tendency for girls to be cautious in this kind of situation.  Here’s a little thought experiment:

A girl observes a guy walking down the street.  Ask her if she thinks he’s cute and wants to meet him later.  No? Ok, the same guy walks up to her, looks her in the eye and asks for directions to the nearest Starbucks, and she tells him.  Everything was within the bounds of normal conversation between two strangers, and the whole interaction takes 7 seconds.  Now does she wish he’d asked her out as well?  Still no.  Ok now the same guy walks up to her (and this is under the assumption that the last two scenarios haven’t taken place) and after 30 seconds to a minute of talking to her, the same question is asked of her.  If she replies yes, suddenly she thinks he’s cute – then you’ve got game son.  Remember being charming is game.  Having a personality, being fun and cool, is game.  We all have game, we just have to bring it out.  In the majority of approaches and sets that didn’t work out, the inevitable conclusion I came to was that I just wasn’t fun enough.

Alright next:

“All this conversation about girls using “shit tests” designed to make guys jump through hoops.”

It’s been a while since I’ve heard the term “shit test”.  It’s basically something a girl will do during the attraction phase when she’s not quite convinced about a guy, to try and shake him, just to see how he responds.  Generally it’s a good sign that she’s getting interested.  For example, I remember opening these two girls sitting at a restaurant/bar on hollywood boulevard.  I had them laughing in hysterics.  Finally the more attractive girl, who I’d been paying a bit less attention to, reached over and felt my bicep and said with a smile – “do you even lift bro?”  It was really like her own little neg, a way to playfully send some banter back my way.  I just laughed and replied back with something funny.  With experience you’ll remain unaffected by shit tests, and the closer you come to an abundance mentality the easier it’ll be.

“Pursuing a girl even after she’s said she has a boyfriend.”

“I have a boyfriend” is a reply you tend to hear a lot of with more direct approaches, and guys can start to get frustrated and challenge it.  This of course is pointless.  Regardless of whether she’s lying or not, it’s a rejection, and a clever one at that.  A girl could simply say she’s not interested and ignore him or walk away.  Which is fine, however by the unfair standards of society it’s hard to do this without appearing kinda mean.  Plus she has to worry about his reaction (he could get verbally abusive or aggressive due to his ego), or being judged by anyone else watching.  All she was doing was minding her own business and shopping.  It’s really kind of unfair.  Saying she has a boyfriend flips it back on the guy.  Now he’s the social-violator if he doesn’t excuse himself and leave.  If a woman finds you attractive and fun, but she’s in a relationship with someone she doesn’t want to cheat on, or isn’t ready to breakup with, it’s likely she’ll still be open to being friends.  This can be a bigger reward than simply hooking up with her, as she’ll likely introduce you to her social circle, i.e. her single girlfriends.  This is probably the best, and easiest way to meet someone of the opposite sex – through a friend’s introduction.  If this girl is your type (in terms of looks and style), chances are her friends will be too.

“Really nasty, hateful conversation about women on PUA forums.”

It might only be a fraction of PUA, but it’s there and it’s very real.

Now, consider the cultural context. We live in a culture where women fear rape and sexual assault. You can debate the numbers on this, but it’s frankly not relevant. My point is that women *fear* this. This fear is a part of everyday life, for many women.

PUA is all about teaching men how to “seduce” women. Sometimes it does encourage hate, manipulation, and aggression. In a culture where sexual assault is regular concern, PUA culture is going to add extra concern.

Notably, PUA teachings have little discussion around *not* crossing the line. Bit of an oversight, isn’t it? Whatever happened to “safety first”? And when they do talk about limits, it’s rarely ever taught out of respect for women. It’s typically about how to recover from it or convince the women to consent.

Heck, it’s pretty much celebrated if you can get a girl who said no to later say yes. 

The above statements concern and worry me deeply.  Particularly as I believe that any man chatting with a woman he finds attractive, and is interested in sleeping with, is practicing pickup to some degree.  What we haven’t discussed yet, the elephant in the room so to speak, is what happens when a man and a woman find themselves together and alone in a bedroom for the first time.  Or any scenario where the possibility of sex exists.  First lets look at how they got there.  Lets say you’ve met a girl for an online date, you both had a great time, laughed, learned a lot about each other, and shared your first kiss.  You’re hoping to take it to the next level, but you don’t know if she’s ready yet.  You suggest getting a drink back at your place to cap off the night, and watching that movie you both like. She thinks about it for a couple of seconds, and then says sure.  Make no mistake, she is interested in having sex with you.  In that brief interval of consideration, she admitted to herself that she liked you enough, and trusted you enough, to place herself in a situation where the two of you might have sex.  However, this should not be mistaken for consent.  Or to put it another way, it can be considered consent so long as she has the capacity to say no, and continues to consent.  In fact I would state that the capacity for refusal should be a requirement for having sex.  If someone is so inebriated from drugs or alcohol that they can barely stand up straight, or stay conscious, then their capacity to refuse sex can be called into question.  I believe many of the recent incidents of campus rape were in such situations.  In such a scenario the best course of action is to throw a blanket over her and let her sleep it off.  There is no pickup artist or PUA guru to my knowledge, that has ever condoned taking a woman in such a setting, or against her will using force, in other words raping her.  Ms. McDowell doesn’t actually make this accusation, but simply complains that no one explicitly talks about not doing it.  I think thats because it’s already understood – pickup artists seek to build attraction, and use the power of words and conversation.  Drugs, alcohol, or physical coercion are not their tools.

It’s true, as stated at the end of the above snippet from article 3, that PUA’s are concerned with convincing a girl who is interested in having sex, into consenting all the way into sex.  So are many men all over the world who’ve never heard of PUA’s or pickup.  There is no guarantee of sex happening, ever.  Especially in a first time meeting, regardless of the claim I made on the first page.  I have personal stories in years gone by of women, making out with me in bed, with most of their clothes off, who’ve still not consented and left in a huff.  And while this doesn’t speak very highly of my game, I maintain that it can still happen to anyone.  I’ve seen celebrated PUA’s, who’ve slept with many women, still get stonewalled.  Since the theme of this article is more about consent, than blasting last minute resistance (ok, they might be flip sides of the same coin), I’m going to talk about what to do when she’s just not ready.  My personal advice when a woman is withholding consent, i.e. not ready to go all the way, is to refrain from putting pressure on her and saying things like “ah…come on baby…please…?”, or getting angry that you’re not having your way.  This will just make her feel worse about it, which makes sex less likely.  Instead chill and take a step back.  Acknowledge where she’s at.  Give yourself a pat on the back for getting this far, she clearly likes you.  And remember there will be other opportunities.

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NOTE: If the above little blurb on consent isn’t entirely to your satisfaction, (it probably isn’t) then as I mentioned in the intro at the top, months after I wrote this article I wrote another one focused entirely on consent: consent in the #MeToo era.  The relevant text is found about halfway through, and refers back to this article.  Check it out.

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“Really nasty, hateful conversation about women on PUA forums.

“However, I’ve also had a number of alarming interactions with guys who were into PUA. Many have been mean, seriously overtly sexist, and uncomfortably aggressive. 

Let me reiterate that I am against misogyny and hate, particularly on the internet where there seems to be a ton of it.  I mainly just used PUA websites to find wings (fellow PUA’s) to go out in whatever city I was living in, and sarge (talk to girls).  I’ve always believed that you can learn more about game from saying hi to a girl and having even a 10 sec conversation, than reading the jaded rants of some angry dude.  Most of these guys are keyboard jockeys who will write pages and pages about their “theories” on being an alpha male, and the role a women’s biological programming has on her actions, but they’ll never actually quite make it out to a bar, or a mall, and actually talk to girls.  Because that would mean facing up to their fears, possibly being rejected, and having to put in the work to get better.  As far as writing hateful messages on forums, and social media, I suggest following these two rules:

  1. ) Never write a comment about something or someone online that you wouldn’t tell them in person.
  2. ) Do unto other’s as you would have them do unto you.

The first rule should stop the majority of hateful comments, and the second one should stop the rest, including the “alarming interactions” that Ms. McDowell witnessed in person.

I originally wanted to end this article here, as I felt in addressing all the issues raised in the featured articles, I’ve given my thoughts on most of the criticisms of PUA’s.  (If there are things I’ve left out that should be talked about, let me know and I’ll write about it on my blog page.)  However after doing some research, I have to admit that I was a bit naive in my awareness of what the seduction community has evolved to, and the kind of stuff being written out there.  I feel I should  address this, and give my thoughts. I’ll summarize it to the best of my understanding.

There’s something called the manosphere, which has put traditional pickup and attraction thought in the shade.  It’s more of an ideological movement, than simply a group think on attracting women (although it encapsulates this as well), and in many cases opposes the gains made by feminists in achieving equal standing for women in all aspects of society and personal relationships.  I’m not going to comment on the manosphere in general, just some of the concepts that clash with pickup and attraction.

They seem to be pre-occupied with the idea of being an alpha male (their definition of it), and believe that the closer they are to achieving this ideal state, the more attractive women will find them.  At the risk of sounding like them, I’ll give my own little theory, such as it is.  I actually do believe that women are attracted to “alpha” guys, but my definition of an alpha male is based on the 6 characteristics of an alpha male as told by Mystery to Neil Strauss on pg 21 of the Game – confidence, smiling, well-groomed, possessing a sense of humour, connecting with people, and being seen as the social centre of the room.  The alpha male archetype of the manosphere seems to be John Wayne or James Bond.  To be fair if you google “characteristics of an alpha male” among the many links there will be content that includes some of the above 6 characteristics.  But there will also be advice like the following:

alpha male traits for manliness

It’s not that it’s necessarily bad advice, but there’s an absolutism of thought that doesn’t seem suited to the complexities of real life, or simply flirting with girls.  It would be a better mindset for getting into good physical shape, which makes sense as the author seems to be some kind of fitness coach.

A lot of the writing in the manosphere espouses the idea of female hypergamy (that a woman will toss aside any man she’s with for a dude with more value, social or otherwise), and the general implication that women are driven by their emotions, and not very good at rational thought.  It’s a bitter, narrow minded view created by guys reacting to their own negative emotions, who then describe it as rational and scientific.  Sure there is some correlation between the idea of hypergamy and social dynamics, but that relates to random people in a bar or a party.  That does not mean that a woman at anytime, anywhere will cheat on her partner with someone more “alpha” than him, only to cheat again 30 min later with someone else.  Or that women are so controlled by their emotions that they’re incapable of having a career in science or technology.  That’s like saying that a man is so controlled by his libido, that he’ll be incapable of concentrating on software programming.

If you take the longview, pickup is not really about them (women), or even the girl you are talking to, or currently frustrating your life.  It’s about you.  Learning, growing as a person, and being the best version of yourself as a man, that you can be.  In my opinion the manosphere, in putting the blame on women, stifles this self-improvement.  If guys say “well if it weren’t for the deceitful, and superficial nature of women, my love life would be great”, he shifts the blame to someone else, and is free to think that he’s just fine the way he is.  No need for any self reflection or doubt.

I’m going to give the final word on the manosphere to the writer of the following article, that appeared in the gender section of the guardian newspaper in Britain.  He sums it up much more eloquently than I could.

Swallowing the Red Pill: a journey to the heart of modern misogyny

Finally to end this, I’m going to cite one final article.

Confessions of a serial Pick-Up Artist

It’s an anonymous article written by a PUA, a skilled one at that.  I have no idea who this guy is, but I’ve met enough guys like him to know that just about everything he’s written is probably true, with the possible exception being where he rates himself looks wise.  Humility is an attractive quality that helps build rapport with others, and this guy is definitely good at building rapport.  No doubt he is a flawed individual, and his article doesn’t reveal the true depth of his character.  However its clear that he has a freedom in his life that would be the envy of the angry venters in the manosphere, and indeed of many men.  He certainly has an abundance mentality.  This guy is the end result of getting good at pickup, the alternative to coupling up with one special girl, which is also a choice many PUA’s make after doing it for long enough.  Draw your own conclusions.

The next page is another longish article called Consent in the #MeToo era, followed by it’s sub-article Desire: male vs female.  I highly recommend both, but if you’ve had enough of theoretical musings, and want to start taking more concrete action, I suggest skipping ahead to moving forward – the next step which discusses how to get more involved in the PUA community if you wish to take that route, and will discuss some of the dating coaching options available, both of the PUA variety, and more mainstream coaches.