Do pick-up techniques work ?
October 20, 2008 4:19 PM   Subscribe

Has any member of the hivemind had any success using the many techniques and/or attitudes featured on shows like "The Pick up Artist" or books like Neil Strauss' "the Game" and "Rules of the Game"?

In the past I relied a lot on a "psychoanalytical" approach to life to get me through; ie I'd absorb theory, then get an insight, then try to act on this to change my life....It didn't quite work out. Reading "Rules of the Game" with its 30-day challenge ( a daily mission to learn to attract and seduce) taught me that the reverse could work better, ie a constructivist approach: act, then change, then have insight, then maybe later learn the theory (interestingly, the same approach is featured in the musculation technique I'm using) .. Judging from all the testimonies on seduction forums, this doesnt seem like baloney to me, only re-framed social psych theories. I'd ask at those forums, but I thought I'd ask my favorite hivemind first.
I have read the books (both Strauss', and Mystery's method), seen the videos, and though bits seem fictitious and/or staged to me, I think this could at worst be a cure for my social phobia...and getting dates would be a nice bonus. I have many social/self image/psych issues that I'm working on (depressed since 1991, reformed Borderline personality, shy, jobless, slightly overweight but not a virgin - actually quite successful in the past at getting dates but unable to find any these years). The time frame seems right as all of the most prioritary issues are being dealt with with a modicum of success (medication, therapy, workout, job hunt); now it's time to turn back to seducing the ladies, for I've reached a point where my loneliness is compromising my climb back from hell.

In a nutshell, I'd like testimonies from the Metafilter crowd before diving in on the streets of beautiful downtown Montpellier, France. Did you try it? What did and didn't work for you? What do you think of those techniques? What would you advise, based on the above information? I'm specifically NOT interested in the moral POV, since this stuff can be used both morally and immorally. It's just human relations advice.
Thank you !
(I hope this question is not too boyzone-ish, women are encouraged to participate !)
posted by Oneirokritikos to Human Relations (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
See this? This is Ross Jeffries, author of "Speed Seduction". He feels the need to try to manipulate people - women specifically - because he's as ugly as a hat full of assholes and about as personable as a defective Foley catheter. This isn't a moral point, but a practical one: this sort of obvious ladder theory/cognitive modeling crap turns off many more women than it turns on and people who have something worthwhile to offer in the way of conversation and companionship will be more successful avoiding it. Need more evidence? Dudes that have the time to brag on the internet about how much ass they're getting, aren't.

TL;DR: Scam to encourage weak-minded men to try to one-up weak-minded women.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:38 PM on October 20, 2008 [9 favorites]

I don't think the game is a good way to start relationships, as it assumes from the start that women are prizes to be won by fooling them into liking you with cheap tricks and gimicks.

That said, the basis for some of the methods are sound. Being confident is great. Being able to approach strangers in a non-threatening way is great. Being able to laugh at yourself is great. I've found all these things to be helpful in social situations. So, to sum up: many people have had success with these things, long before they were ever considered 'methods'.
posted by twirlypen at 4:42 PM on October 20, 2008

I think that a lot of what's in those books is ridiculous, but certainly much of it is the kind of how flirting works / how to talk to people advice that, if novel to you, could be helpful. I'm thinking, though, that if you have self-esteem / social phobia issues - maybe a tactic that ensures you'll be repeatedly shot down is the best idea. Maybe, if you're excited about the ideas in the book, it might be a good idea to start employing your "ethical game" on girls you already know, or who you meet through your own social network? Or - if friends are lacking - maybe trying to build a real social network of people you can really get to know and trust would be a better way to direct your energy. (Because sleeping with random women won't make you less lonely).
posted by moxiedoll at 4:57 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't understand the need to try this crap. It certainly hasn't worked on my when I've run into the occasional doofus that tries to use it. Hint, when you're being pretty crude and or confusing, and we JUST MET a couple minutes ago, I'm not going to want to bother with you.

If you have a social phobia you are getting over, using the technique is just going to drive away many, many interesting women (especially if your goal is *gag* "speed seduction"). You will be left with women that are into mindfucks more than a real relationship or dating. AVOID.
posted by piratebowling at 5:01 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Realize that woman want to have sex as much as you, sometimes more.

The only real "technique" is to present yourself as a clean, confident and interesting guy whom they don't give an immediate mental "no" to. Everything else is timing and chemistry. Sometimes you'll attract them, sometimes you won't. Good luck.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:02 PM on October 20, 2008 [5 favorites]

I have never tried following the techniques set forth by the pick-up-artist brigade, but I have looked a lot at PUA websites (they are kind of compelling in an awful kind of way).

The plus side, it seems to me, is that it is a set of easy-to-follow techniques that can get even the most socially inept men talking to actual, live women in real-life settings. For this alone, there is some real value in the PUA thing.

The negatives, though, are pretty significant. Most egregious is the tone (sometimes implicit, sometimes explicit) of misogyny that permeates the PUA language. I think it's one of those basic divisions: you can think of women as nasty and scary and duplicitous, which justifies all the weird techniques, or you can think of them as people who are as wonderful and flawed and confused as you are, in which case you maybe don't so much need the PUA approach. And the PUA websites sure focus a lot more on scoring casual sex than they do forming deep and loving long-term relationships -- both are great things, but your approach may need to be a bit different depending on which is your actual goal.

So if you can disconnect the most sensible of the techniques from the weirdness and the misogyny, and that can be a tool to get you over the hump that is keeping you from going up to women and chatting (or sending them emails on a dating site, or whatever is appropriate to your life), then great. But if it is just one more tool to use to distance yourself from the risk of perhaps connecting to a real woman, with all the compromises and difficulties and joy that that can bring, then it's probably not a healthy direction for you to follow.
posted by Forktine at 5:05 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

now it's time to turn back to seducing the ladies

I'm a woman. More than that, I'm an individual. I do not have a magic button in my brain that says that if you neg me, if you say just the right thing in just the right way, if you read me a line out of a book, I will magically fall for you. I won't. Would you expect to walk up to a guy and say, "Well, how 'bout those Bears last night?" and expect him to become your BFF? I don't think so.

Women are not interchangeable widgets; we're people with our own issues and hangups and quirks and likes and dislikes, and, frankly, there is little I dislike more than a guy who thinks that I can be put in a box with all the other women and then he can push the magic sleep-with-me button on the side and out comes a "lady" for a night of play.

Confidence is sexy. Having something to say is sexy. Being passionate about something is sexy - I don't care if it's your collection of Soviet-era stamps. And I'll readily admit there's something to the fake-it-til-you-make-it school of thought wrt confidence, because I certainly do that in some social situations, but a guy with a script and a catalog of pickup lines? Not even close.

It sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now, and I respect that you're lonely and want companionship. I don't think the Game is how to get the real social and romantic connection you're looking for. You find that in interest groups, whether it's joining a choir or taking a language class at the local community college or taking a fitness class or whatever. Volunteer someplace: public libraries, public radio and TV stations (admittedly I don't know if they have those in the same form in France), food banks, Habitat for Humanity, whatever. Take a swing dance class. Do STUFF that turns you on, lights you up, and then find someone to talk to about it. THAT'S sexy.

On preview, piratebowling has it dead right: You will be left with women that are into mindfucks more than a real relationship or dating. AVOID.
posted by fuzzbean at 5:06 PM on October 20, 2008 [22 favorites]

I cannot echo fuzzbean more without repeating what she has said verbatim. If anything, this desperate need for a woman (ANY woman) is such a turn-off I don't think any memorized lines could ever salvage it.

"Confidence is sexy. Having something to say is sexy. Being passionate about something is sexy - I don't care if it's your collection of Soviet-era stamps. And I'll readily admit there's something to the fake-it-til-you-make-it school of thought wrt confidence, because I certainly do that in some social situations, but a guy with a script and a catalog of pickup lines? Not even close."

Yes, yes yes, this. We are not a fungible sex.
posted by thatbrunette at 5:11 PM on October 20, 2008

What would you advise, based on the above information?

That you look for women who are not tremendously bright. Guys like you start giving off an aura of "I have read bullshit about 'seduction' and bought it: beware" that any reasonably smart woman will pick up on and run screaming from.

I mean no offence. The best thing you could do for yourself would be to forget everything you think you've recently learned about this stuff, and try to go back to being a person rather than a creep.
posted by kmennie at 5:17 PM on October 20, 2008

I asked this question before, when I was naive and a bit younger and was interested in to what, at least seemed to be at the time, the black magic of (I don't know if this is where the whole pick up artist thing originated, but it does date me a bit). In any case, and if you want to skip the rest of what I am about to write, the core of it is projecting confidence to a girl. There's nothing special about it, but you'll see people invent an entire branch of academics to simply state: be confident and forward, don't be creepy.

In any case, I have not personally tried any of the "PUA" methods but I know people who have and have spent enough time reading about it / talking ot members that it does work. Don't let the PUA nerds fool you, this is not a branch of applied mathematics that needs theory and courses to be completely understood. Most of the vocabulary the use is the result of a small group of people developing their only lingo. My own personal theory is that they are adapting behaviors and mannerisms that occur during natural attraction and rigorously reconstructing it into behaviors and interactions that can occur outside of natural attractions. Think of it as dating: you're doing it wrong." If I might crudely break it down:

(1) Use selection bias to your favor. Due something odd, strange or intriguing, but not in a socially backwards way. "Mystery" is sort of like the collapsed star of this. See the hat? The painted finger nails? The little charm things? It gives you a conversation piece, so girls will come up and presumably, begin talking to you. Hey I would read the "London Review of Books" at Starbucks when I was telecommuting and women come up to me and ask what I was reading. Same thing, it is not magic, it is just making yourself stick out (though, as an aside, when I was reading the LRB it was because I was actually wanting to read the LRB and definitely not trying to pick up chicks, nor do I think they were coming up to me to flirt, but the line of communication was open. This is 90% of what all "PUA" technique is based on, open communication, get the girl comfortable and move to the next level.) So no real trick, I'm sure if I walked around with a peacock on my head I'd have at least 5% of girls come up and ask me why I have a peacock on my head, and at least half of those wouldn't be disgusted, look I now have 2-3 girls who have sort of self selected their interest in me.

(2) Initiate physical contact as soon as possible. They have a whole lingo for this too, but it is something that in my opinion, comes natural to most people in most settings. If you're goal is to get-laid-as-fast-as-possible, yeah I guess you have to be cognizant about this. Again, you're now trying to identify the girl who'll sleep with you and has the lowest threshold to do it. This is the Six Sigma to getting laid, rank and pull, rank and pull. Not reacting? Find someone who will.

(3) Get laid, there's very little text about what to do afterwards, but one could argue that this is just the surgery and the 12 months of therapy afterwards is a different branch all together.

So yes, I hope I saved you a weekend wasted going through message boards and various internet postings. It does work, but I believe you'll find sex with anyone unrewarding and best left to the professionals (no pun intended, if you're going to spend several weekends and a bar tab to get laid, why not just skip the middle man?) Part of the attraction, I think you'll find on introspection, is having someone generally interested in you. I have a client who takes me out once in awhile and loves showing me his technique. It is not as repulsive as you would think, he's not some sort of trench coat lecherous thug, but an otherwise boring person. He's not Don Draper good looking, but definitely not in the category of "everyone who does this is a dog," he just likes the thrill of the chase I guess. I have no doubt I could have some similar level of success if I went through his little routine, or if I read Pitchfork religiously and spent time in hipster bars ("Well I guess Vampire Weekend is like Sublime if your idea of world music extends as far as those too bands ... wannacomebacktomyplace?") ... but I digress. Part of me believes that you don't really want to bang that cute girl at Starbucks, what you really want is her to talk about David Brooks on Charlie Rose over breakfast and cheerily wants to know if you want to take a spontaneous snowboarding trip this weekend.
posted by geoff. at 5:22 PM on October 20, 2008 [10 favorites]

The pickup stuff is a kind of double-edged sword. In some ways it's really great because it gives people some rules to follow that helps them get outside their heads and just go up and talk to women. It also explains the dynamics and the ways that men and women flirt with each other, which a lot of people out there know nothing about. In many cases men (and women) are clueless and do things to turn off the opposite sex without even realizing they do it. The pickup stuff is good in that it explains a lot of these things.

To me, the biggest turn-off about the PUA community is the misogynistic attitude that lies beneath it all. It seems like most of the people who got involved in the community have some kind of latent (or overt) negativity/bitterness toward women for one reason or another and they really objectify women.

No matter what women will tell you, the stuff does work if you pay attention to it and work hard at improving. After all that, though, you'll realize that many women are much more interested in how you communicate than what exactly you have to say - if you can come across as a confident, fun, outgoing person then you are 80% of the way there. A lot of guys will go out there and talk to hundreds of women and think it's the routines that work when they are really just more comfortable being an outgoing person around strangers and understand a little more about the dynamics of flirting.

So yeah, go for it if you want but realize that success in that arena is more about comfort and social intelligence than it is about canned routines or techniques.
posted by PFL at 5:23 PM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oh and if it wasn't clear, because I've noticed in AskMes in which I'm not completely 100%: I think the whole PUA thing is douchey in the most extreme, but I sort of put it in the category of swinger parties in motels just outside of county lines. If it is your thing, go ahead, two consenting people and all, just don't fool yourself into thinking this will lead to love, etc. which is sort of how this is pitched now and makes it more sad than anything.
posted by geoff. at 5:26 PM on October 20, 2008

If sex is your "best result", you've already blown it. All the talk about macking, scamming, pick-lines, and all related stuff is just that, talk. Especially if you're going to try it in France. I've dated a French woman, and she told me stories of picking up the macks and "system" guys just to leave them hanging, to clown them. They are canny as hell when it comes to being approached that way. Do not try it. But not for the reason you think.

You can choose to employ a technique or try to act a way that you or someone else thinks will make you attractive. Being a confident, aware, non-sexist with a lot to say on a variety of subjects will always be far and away a better method of attracting women, and you'll have the bonus of actually being a cool individual, not just employing some trick to make you seem cool.

I can't say it better than fuzzbean above in the realm of treating women as people and individuals. This should be your #1 priority. After that, quit focusing on going to bed with them. After that, be a good man. After that, you'll be giving other men advice.
posted by SaintCynr at 5:30 PM on October 20, 2008

Not only will we pick up on it and run screaming, we'll pick up on it and run laughing. Then, with luck, we'll get together with other women you've tried this on, and we'll laugh at you. It will be a grand old bonding time for us, but you will come out looking like a complete fool.

Once upon a time, I slightly knew a Lothario wanna-be who was, apparently, an early adopter of PUA techniques. When he tried to seduce me, it was the most ridiculous display I'd ever seen. He got a reputation for being a total ass. And if he so much as walked by when I was with certain female friends, it was all we could do not to bust out laughing.

And that was years ago. Now, when the PUA techniques are more widely known? Do you really think you can get away with this without massively risking your dignity and reputation? You think you're lonely now, just wait until word gets out that you're using pick-up artist techniques.

But hey. If for some reason you feel you have to use these things, for heaven's sake, be subtle about it. And do not even try negging. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to find some woman who's smart enough to twig to what you're doing, but kind and amused enough not to hold it against you.
posted by sculpin at 5:37 PM on October 20, 2008

I wouldnt learn PUA routines line by line....BUT....I think there is something to learn about the attitude and the mindset they want you to have.....I am not talking about the objectifying woman portion of it which is clearly wrong but they do want you to be a confident, well groomed man who is able to handle himself in any social situation....for example one of the big tenants is talking to a my experience i always tried to talk to girls and would isolate them from the group but after seeing the show i am like huh...what do u know? if her friend likes me she likes me too? Now this is of course normal for a lot of people but because of cultural issues i was not aware of my advice is not to pay for any material watch the show take what you can out of it in terms of building confidence, dressing up and what not and come up with your own lines that work for you when you meet women....
posted by The1andonly at 5:48 PM on October 20, 2008

You're in Montpellier, France? Huh. Truffaut's The Man Who Loved Women is set in Montpellier. Surely that means something.
posted by JimN2TAW at 6:04 PM on October 20, 2008

I don't think I can answer this question without knowing how you define "success." If it's simply to manipulate women into sleeping with you, then the simplest route might be to hire a prostitute. If it's to find a relationship, well, that's tougher, and blatantly manipulative tactics won't be much help there.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:09 PM on October 20, 2008

I hope this doesn't come across as patronising, but it was a genuine revelation to me.
I started reading this PUA stuff after splitting from my long-term girlfriend, because I'd never really done the dating/pulling thing and had no idea how to go about it. Some of it is absolute drivel. Some of it helps overcome confidence barriers. Some of it is misogynist. Some of it could actually improve your social skills. Some of it is just plain idiocy. You need to work out for yourself what is what though, otherwise you are just pretending to be someone else.

My biggest hurdle was actually speaking to people in public that I didn't know. I found the openers useful in this respect. I'm not talking about corny one-liners but simple techniques for starting a conversation.
I found the physical contact pointers useful too, as I was initially nervous and my body language gave that away. Subtle non-sexual touching is part of human bonding, and once I realised this I started to experiment. I think part of that was me exploring human interaction that I had never been conscious of before. Realising that what I said really didn't matter as much as I thought it did was a a novelty too.

If you just want to get laid, give it a go and see what happens. If you aren't likely to see these people again, what have you got to lose?
If you want to improve your interactions with people in general, I'd recommend not delving too far into this stuff and buy a decent book on body language instead (I thought this was a good read). Have stuff to talk about, and just talk to women.

You won't trick people into bed with you. Just be confident, or at least try to look like you are.
posted by 999 at 6:16 PM on October 20, 2008

I think, as others have said, that some of it is common sense (so to speak: not everyone figures out the unsaid rules of flirting.) A lot of it is downright misogynistic and insulting.

Yesterday, I saw some of the 'pick-up artist' show. It made me less skeptical of the whole thing. Some of the guys had to be told that when you talk to two girls, don't hit mercilessly on the one 'hot' one and ignore the friend. It might be helpful for learning things like that - but I would otherwise be wary of taking it too much to heart.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:24 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

American pick-up techniques designed for the American bar scene are perhaps not the best approach in downtown Montpellier...

Fuzzbean sums it up.

And if that doesn't work, watch and learn from the French - their reputation for attracting and seducing isn't just down to the accent...
posted by finding.perdita at 6:32 PM on October 20, 2008

I guess there could be something to the confidence-giving aspects of these techniques, but I've seen Mystere and his guys in action (and been one of their targets), and I watched every single one of them leave the club alone. They were also the butt of almost every woman's joke that night.
posted by natabat at 6:42 PM on October 20, 2008

This recent article in RADAR might be interesting reading.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:01 PM on October 20, 2008

You've probably tried "being yourself" after hearing that, over and over again, and you're still alone. You've probably tried being all of those warm, supportive, fuzzy things your female friends say they want out of a guy, and you're still alone. Maybe you were those things already; maybe you tried to fake-it-til-you-make-it; maybe you genuinely grew as a person. You're still alone, though. Here's the thing: people are rarely honest about anything, especially when it comes to their own motivations. Men do it, women do it. It makes people furious when they're called on it, too, which is why you never want to let on.

That's where the PUA stuff can fall down. We all manipulate people in our interactions to some degree or another, but if it comes with giant neon signs, it's a turn-off. Grab a few issues of Cosmo or worse trash — anything with "how to get a guy to" somewhere on the front page, then realize that this stuff works both ways. Guessing that she took ballet from the way she stands, good. Big-ass Jamiroquai hat, bad.

You might reap the greatest rewards if you looked at the indicators in the material and any relevant science-y bits (then went to see if they were actually valid). Then consider the following about the techniques: they have been honed (as far as I can tell from the material) for the intersection of the following two sets:

1) guys with social skills just barely above the level of children raised by wolves, and the wolves themselves were raised by gorillas — alternatively, terrified men whose outlook on women formed when Missy Thatcher lit a match and threw it at his pee-pee when he snuck off to take a leak at camp
2) guys who want to pick up 20-something flighty club-dwelling girls. And I do mean girls. And I do mean pick up, not establish a long-term relationship with.

In short, the signs are good, the techniques are often questionable (ethically, in terms of extremity, and so forth). Oh, the general theme, "seriously, go out and talk to some women. That didn't work? Go talk to some more women. Maybe do something different." is incredibly important to shy guys who suffer from paralysis analysis and tend to spend far too much time trying to get everything just right for that one special magical OMG there will never be another one like her gal ... and then wind up crushed and avoid contact with the opposite sex for a year afterwards.

All of the "camps" run by various "pros" (sorry, can't stop grinning there) all have one common element: guys pay a metric ton of cash to be shoved out there and at least try. It's a bit like how you pay for a consultant so you feel forced to take their advice. After coughing up three grand, these guys feel obligated to walk up to strange women and talk to them. That's what they're paying for — a sense that they will have wasted all of this money if they don't give it a go.

I'll defend the material because it has a lot of validity to it, no matter how much people would rather it not - practically all research on flirting backs up various cues, status signals, and so forth, just like you'd find from Desmond Morris or Monica Moore. Trying to run a short con for sex, not that effective. Don't make it a cold call script; emotionally, you'll come off like someone with an Indian accent who says his name is "Chuck" and wants you to come to a free presentation on timeshares in your area! No, women don't come with put-out buttons. Yes, they will probably respond to some things better than, say, you staring across the room, then, when there's eye contact, wetting yourself in terror and fleeing. Yes, there's some commonality to those things. No, they don't work all (or even most) of the time, or with everyone.

Also, anyone who decries the whole PUA thing, then says "Confidence is sexy" ... clearly has not grokked the PUA thing, because that's all over the material. If you turn the book upside down and squint at certain pages, a blurry picture of Jack Palance will appear, that's how thematic "confidence is sexy" is to the corpus of the work. Having something to say is sexy? Again, all over the material. Conversational openers besides "umm ... *blush* ... hi" abound.

Most of the material is just tricks that are there for you to get over the fear. Once you learn that casual rejection by someone you just met does not mean that a giant chasm will open under your feet and all of the girls from fifth grade will materialize around you, pointing and laughing while you plunge into the abyss, that's about 50% of it right there. Give yourself another 25% for the guts to approach the most intimidating (not necessarily attractive, or intelligent, or anything but most likely to shoot you down) woman in the room and have a conversation with her that goes absolutely nowhere. I stress that latter part, absolutely nowhere, because, honestly, a line drive straight for the crotch is a huge turnoff in most situations.

In short, open your eyes, then lighten up and try to have fun, not fuck.
posted by adipocere at 7:36 PM on October 20, 2008 [12 favorites]

A good sense of humor is great. Humility is grand.

Aww, who am I kidding?

This comes to mind.
posted by captainsohler at 7:39 PM on October 20, 2008

By the way, it will help if you are really good looking, tall, and in great shape.
posted by cccorlew at 7:53 PM on October 20, 2008

The one thing that constantly strikes me how easy it seems in retrospect once you accomplish it.

As previous posters have mentioned, the absolute single most important key to success is trying, and failing, and then trying again. You need to realize that women are not frightening, and getting rejected is not really bad at all, its like jumping off a diving board, the first time is scary, but after that you cant wait to go again and again. From there you can take it on your own because you will have some confidence and girls will pick up on it.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:18 PM on October 20, 2008

The thing that made me run screaming from the PUA shtick was that I realized that not only was it being taught to men as a way of achieving the women they 'deserve', but that it wasn't mentally possible for most of them to comprehend a complicated seduction on the part of a woman. In so far as they were concerned, this magical technique applied only to men and would compensate for the personality of a lima bean and the looks of a slug, but all the roles women had were being hawt or being the ugly best friend to flirt with as a feint. It wasn't possible for them to believe that things could be reversed and that a woman who was otherwise a slug-bean could get a man who was 'hawt' by their magic formula.

And the weird need to dominate even ongoing relationships with girlfriends screamed 'low status male!', since in my experience it went along with the cycle of poverty that I grew up around. High status male mates simply have no need to victimize their partner, because they aren't competing with her for scarce resources (like social respect).
posted by Phalene at 8:19 PM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

You might find this discussion of pharmaceutical efficacy statistics relevant: Number Needed to Treat.

Bottom line: if you're willing to behave in a way that annoys people 9 times and gets you hooked up once, and if you're willing to do that repeatedly over and over again, you'll get hooked up.

The value of that? Well, read the link.
posted by alms at 8:28 PM on October 20, 2008

I found The SIRC Guide To Flirting to be a very good introduction for the socially awkward who are not ready to go down the creepy pick-up artist route.
posted by schroedinger at 10:21 PM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just once I met this girl, and she was kinda sorta cute at the time and so I thought what the heck and used some of the techniques I'd read about on her. It turned out to be remarkably effective. As it turned out I never hooked up with her really but even a few months afterwards I had a remarkable effect on her (she would get kinda flustered, etc). However, and this is key, at no point was I genuinely attracted to her to the point that I would care one way or the other how the relationship went.

And the truth is, for me that's just not worth it. The only way these techniques work, really genuinely and truly, is if you could honestly care less about the overall result. If you are willing to say, "Okay, never mind I'll move on to the next woman in the bar" then it may be the technique for you, but in the long run you have to be real, you have to be genuine, and you have to be a little bit sweet.

That being said, some of the advice -- don't use standard pickup lines, don't talk about yourself too much, don't throw on a lot of compliments all in the beginning -- is pretty solid. I'm not a huge dater (and now that I'm engaged, I never will be, I guess) but I had the best luck when I acted as if I had just met a new best friend and acted accordingly, treating the other person with warmth but also a little "heat". Friendly teasing can go a long way, as can "knowing looks".
posted by Deathalicious at 10:35 PM on October 20, 2008

I've reached a point where my loneliness is compromising my climb back from hell.

Uh oh. Look, I'm not saying I was perfect or anything, but I had a looong dry spell after the breakup of my first long-term relationship. And by the end of that dry spell, I had pretty much learned to deal with my loneliness. I still wanted company of the female persuasion, but at that point I felt more or less complete and stable without the need for a woman in my life.

If you feel like you are climbing back from hell, keep climbing. It's not totally fair to grab for a relationship while you're still on the upwards path. Really sexy people are complete people who don't bring hell to the table.

Also, you say you've been depressed since 1991, which leads me to believe that you're somewhat old. Be careful about your choices and locales in dating. If you look decent and go to places where most people are 5-10 years younger than you or so, you probably will do fine. But if you go to joints where they are 11-20 years younger than you, you are going to start seeming a bit creepy. And even if you are successful dating way outside your age range, I'd suggest against it long term. People much younger than you are going to tend to have different priorities than you will.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:47 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, and my final recommendation: if you're not doing so already, get involved in a martial art of some kind. It gets you into awesome shape and gives you a stride that makes women pay attention. If it involves meditation and mindfulness you also get the added benefit of a calm mind, which also helps a lot.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:49 PM on October 20, 2008

Eh -- I don't know. I've read about it and have, sometimes, had guys try it on me. Oh brother, I thought. The part that guys really seem to seize on is this "negging" business -- not even tactically, it seems, but as a way to vent their frustration and misogyny in what they think will be a socially acceptable way. Well, no. If we just met and you ask me if I dye my hair, I'm going to think you're a jerk. But then, the method says only to neg 9.5s or 10s, which I have never been, so they're doing it wrong anyway.

But I have this book How to Get a Teenage Boy and What to Do With Him When You Get Him -- swear to God -- by Ellen Peck, 1969 (mine has Cheryl Tiegs on the cover). I found it in a thrift store when I was 17 (in 1987) and I do still think it is the best "How to Win Friends and Influence People"-style practical psychology text I've ever read. Many of her suggestions are not unlike PUA methods -- but more playful and less cynical.

So that's the thing: have fun with it. Be fun with it. Whatever gets you out there, and talking to people. You don't sound like you're in danger of getting overly hung up on bagging bitches.
posted by Methylviolet at 11:50 PM on October 20, 2008

Probably the only thing to be learned from this stuff is:

1- Women are people, not objects. Many men suffer from the mistaken belief that if you treat women as dainty objects and behave yourself like a gentleman, being whatever they think women want them to be, they will respect you. But the opposite is true- women don't like the obviously phoney "look how well-behaved I am" act. Building a connection, whether it's just a one-night connection or a long term connection, is about showing that you are an individual with your own opinions, ideas and personality, and that you are not going to mortgage yourself to get in their pants.

2- Rejection isn't a failure. Making a connection with someone IS a numbers game. There are so many reasons why someone isn't receptive to making friends with you at any given moment. They are having a bad day, they met someone last night that they are excited about, they aren't attracted to you, their grandma just died, etc. Dating is way, way more about stumbling into the right person at the right time. And so the more you try to engage people and learn about them, the more likely you are going to meet people who are in the same place.

3- People who are easily manipulated aren't fun people to be around for any length of time.
posted by gjc at 7:20 AM on October 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

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