The following post is a response to Gayle Laakmann McDowell’s Slate article, “Why are women so negative about the pickup artist community?” Gayle describes her experience hanging out with the PUA community, at first intrigued, and then gradually disillusioned by tactics she claims “turns awkward, nerdy guys who just want a girlfriend into creepy guys who harass and insult women.” While I agree with some of Gayle’s points — I mean, let’s face it, pickup does teach guys mechanical ways of interacting with women… at first — my goal in crafting a response was to frame pickup as a tool to help guys take that all important leap of faith out of their comfort zones. In the same way that an aspiring guitarist has to play scales “mechanically” before being able to riff and improvise with others, guys who aren’t naturals use routines and canned lines at first as a means to later develop a more organic, spontaneous, and gratifying social competence.
Game is not about being mechanical, offensive, and awkward, it’s about becoming a better, more confident male who is more comfortable in his own skin. It is about leaving the people you interact with better off than when you first met them. Someone who has mastered pick up (Neil Strauss, Richard la Ruina, David D’angelo.. etc) understands that game is a frame of mind and a way of life that is so much deeper than just getting laid.
A true “pickup artist” is someone who everyone enjoys being around, not just women. Game is about first recognizing and abandoning the negative, limiting self talk, and then replacing it with positive, affirming self talk. It’s about pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone and growing as a human being to create the reality you want. At it’s core it is about self-actualization.
Just take a look at the Neil Strauss’ “Stylelife Challenge,” and you will see that it is essentially a practical guide on how to overcome fear and become a better human being. What’s wrong with that?
The criticisms leveled here aren’t really critical of pickup, they are critical of pickup done by people who are just starting out. What you don’t realize is that those “creepy” techniques are just meant as training wheels, to give guys who would otherwise never get up the courage to go up and talk to a random stranger, a place to start. It’s not creepy or offensive because of the content of what is said or done, but rather the lack of a competent delivery. You can’t expect a guy who has never approached a girl at a bar before to become a Casanova overnight. It’s a process, and yes, guys who haven’t yet mastered the art of interaction and calibrated their “technique” might come off “unpolished” or even offensive at first, but hey, you can say the same thing about anyone learning to become better at anything when they first start.
Pickup is about understanding the mechanics of conversation, flirting, and male/female psychology (and by the way, those of us who are not natural charmers have to learn this stuff). It is about learning to cultivate and exhibit traits that are attractive. Being funny, interesting, challenging, bold, and decisive are all attractive traits. Find me one woman who isn’t looking for a man with those traits, or one who isn’t charmed by a natural born charmer who exhibits those traits.
Why should men at a pickup training session be thought of any differently than salespeople going to a seminar on how to be a more effective sellers, or hostage negotiators learning how to negotiate the release of hostages? Those people both go through specialized training to learn techniques about human interaction and psychology that help them be more effective negotiators and sellers. So why shouldn’t the same apply for men who want to get better at interacting with women?
Men, (especially those who are not natural social charmers) have to start somewhere, and I can assure you, that the standard interview style back and forth (“so, what do you do, what’s your name, where do you live, etc…no matter how much you claim to want it”) is boring and does not work.
The main point that your article fails to capture is that the ultimate end goal of pickup is not to become an automaton spouting canned lines and routines, but to become a creator, to tap into an inner wellspring of confidence, trust, and self mastery.
Just look at the masters, the Neil Strauss’ and the Richard la Ruina’s, these are people who, through constantly pushing the boundaries of their comfort zone, have found success beyond their wildest dreams, with women, with money, with their careers. These guys are the ones who have ditched the confines of their limiting beliefs and dedicated themselves to becoming who they want to be.
You focus on things that you find creepy, the touching, the playful teasing or “negging,” but why not mention some of the other things, like learning to be ultra aware of your surroundings so that you can start a conversation about anything. If noticing an interesting ring, necklace, or hairstyle can lead to a conversation, great! Learning to pay attention to details is a good thing!
In the time that I’ve been dabbling with this stuff, I can say that it has had such a massively positive effect on my life, and I know that countless men around the world share that sentiment. I am overcoming fears, I am happier, more outgoing, and have a completely different view of myself than I did previously.
Claiming that pickup will “die out” as some on this thread have suggested, is as ludicrous as claiming that charming people with attractive traits will die out. Pickup will never die out, because while some “techniques” might get stale, the underlying psychology of what traits are attractive to women will always be the same.