I prefer awkard and geeky to this
December 31, 2009 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Should I say something when I notice a guy using "Pick-up Artist" techniques on me?

For people who are unfamiliar with this, there is a kind of community out there, with books and web forums, where guys share techniques for "seducing" women.

After noticing some pretty odd behavior from guys I'd meet or talk to online, I read a bit about it. It's usually pretty blatant when a guy is using these techniques, and it is to the point where I can often predict exactly what he will do next.

Many of these techniques are benign. However, there is one called "negging." A "neg" is essentially a back-handed compliment. The purpose of negging is to "reduce a woman's social value" in order to "penetrate her bitch shield" and "bring her social perception more in line with reality." Essentially, to knock down her self esteem a bit so she's more open to the guy.

I find this gross and appalling. Anyone who would try to damage my self esteem to manipulate me in some way is someone I wouldn't even want to know. What sucks is that I usually *like* the guy a lot already *before* he pulls this negging and the other game playing. Then once he does it all my interest shrivels down to zero.

I usually just end the conversation and stop interacting with the guy once he starts doing something like this. I always want to tell him, "you know, I really really liked you until you made those backhanded comments to me." But I don't. Should I?

If it matters, I'm in my early 20s, and the guys who do this range from my age to early 30s. This happens much more with guys I've met online than guys I meet in real life.

As an example of the type of thing they say, two recent ones from two different guys were, "Out of all the desperate women on here, you might be the cutest desperate woman;" or, after I told him about my favorite book, "that book's pretty silly, it's a good thing you're cute."

It's stuff that by itself isn't that bad, but when a guy makes 3 of these sorts of comments in a row, and guy after guy has pulled this sort of thing in an almost rote pattern, I just don't want to stick around for more of it.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (173 answers total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yes, say something...like "see you later, douche."

Even if they weren't doing it on purpose, it denotes a distinct lack of social skills. If they *were* following the pick up artist recipe...well, that's just sad.
posted by Edubya at 11:59 AM on December 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


If you've decided that you are 100% sure that's what he's (they're) doing and you've now lost all interest, you could simply say "that's not a very nice thing to say, gotta go" and leave it at that.

The solution to these douchebags is just to ignore them.
posted by modernnomad at 12:00 PM on December 31, 2009


Can you "neg" this guy back? Kinda enjoy the back and forth a bit.....

I mean if you know whats going on might as well have some fun with it....
posted by The1andonly at 12:01 PM on December 31, 2009


I think it would probably be worth calling them out on it. If you were otherwise liking them anyway it at least gives them some shot at apologizing and maybe redeeming themselves and if not maybe they'll be so embarrassed that they won't try the same thing on someone else in the future.

Or "Of all the pathetic PUA nerds on this site your come-ons are the sleaziest!"
posted by ghharr at 12:05 PM on December 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


Absolutely call him out on it. I'd go all out on a guy who tried to that to me, but you can tone down the anger/sarcasm if you think the conversation can be salvaged. Maybe you'll make him rethink the strategy so more women don't have to suffer through it.
posted by lilac girl at 12:05 PM on December 31, 2009 [11 favorites]


This sounds asinine. Ignore these fools. Pursue real men.
posted by dfriedman at 12:06 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the guys are saying insulting things, I don't understand why you wouldn't say something. Obviously, you are never going to see these guys again (are you?), so I don't see what possible problem there could be with saying something.

Are you worried about their feelings? Surely not, since they don't appear to be worried about yours.

Either say something or don't, whatever you wish. It's not like there's a big instruction manual that can answer the question of whether you should say something or not say it.
posted by jayder at 12:07 PM on December 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


You should say "die in a fucking fire"
posted by Juicy Avenger at 12:07 PM on December 31, 2009 [55 favorites]


I would just be thankful you found a useful shibboleth that allows you avoid wasting time on douchebags.
posted by null terminated at 12:09 PM on December 31, 2009 [8 favorites]


Perhaps the OP is asking if she should specifically call them out on the NLP-ish technique? As in "You know, I think Speed Seduction techniques are the height of desperation, dude." I would only do this if I were absolutely certain that the person in question was using these practices. In that case, if I were certain, I might just say something akin to a bored "Oh, a neg. How completely original" and saunter away.
posted by oflinkey at 12:10 PM on December 31, 2009 [31 favorites]


second modernnomad

Don't neg back. Your better than that. Point it out, so they understand you caught the manipulation and rejected it. "Ouch. Nice backhanded compliment there. Do you read those douche websites where they teach you to bust a woman's self esteem so you can sleep with her? Cuz they teach you to say things just like that."

Or calmly focus in on the insult. Make them explain themselves. "Why do you think I'm desperate?" "Why do you think that book is silly? If it is, does that mean I'm not smart?"
posted by esereth at 12:10 PM on December 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


As an older divorced woman I have also experienced this behavior from guys and it turned me off as well. It says something about a person's character when they have to put someone down to be in control, whether it is in the dating scene, the office or anywhere else.
Perhaps the word will get out that females are on to what they are doing- and that it then backfires- and cause the more mature to rethink their behavior.
In answer to your question- yes I would say something if I really liked the guy.
I would make it a bit indirect... something like, "You know there are Web sites that tell guys how to seduce women that tell them to say something negative to get to her self esteem so she will be open to them. Do you think that's a bit barbaric?"
You haven't actually accused them of doing it but if they are guilty they should get the point and back off.
posted by srbrunson at 12:10 PM on December 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Wow! Who would have expected such suave, attractive confidence from someone with such a tiny penis!"
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:11 PM on December 31, 2009 [24 favorites]


These pricks are worse than the average clueless guy, cuz they think the PUA "game" counts as knowledge of how to interact with women. Instead of learning how to do it properly, they sat down with a wiki or a self-help book like romance is as gamable as goddamn Dungeons & Dragons. It's cluelessness cubed, and they need harsh reeducation. Someone so desperate and so inept sometimes needs the fedora yanked off their head for them.

I would say, yes, let them know that you saw what they did there and terminate the conversation. Also, if they're "peacocking" with some ridiculous goddamn hat and goggles or whatever, you might mention what a douche they look like in their little costumes. I can see some of these guys using such a reaction as a way to keep the interaction going somehow, so watch out for that. Tell them they're being rude, tell them this PUA shit is transparent and ridiculous and be done with them forever from that point forward.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:11 PM on December 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


I'm reading A.J. Jacobs book My Life as Guineau Pig (hysterical, must read), and he (pretending to be a woman on an online dating site) does exactly what you want to do- he thinks some guy is negging him, so he writes back, "Have you read The Game by Neil Strauss?" Totally busted the guy. They end up going back and forth on the issue, until he ends the conversation with, "Just remember as you wade through the 'dating pool' we women are not just here to be conquered as part of a game." Love it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:12 PM on December 31, 2009 [16 favorites]


Can you "neg" this guy back? Kinda enjoy the back and forth a bit.....

Socially awkward male here - this would be interpreted as flirtation
posted by Think_Long at 12:13 PM on December 31, 2009 [14 favorites]


Upon a brief moment's reflection, I think you should not call them out on it. If you want to do the world some good, why not take the opportunity to educate the guys? When a guy "negs" you, tell him, "I know a lot of guys think that they can pick up a woman by saying insulting things, but please be aware that that stuff doesn't work on me. Now that I have that out of the way, can we talk to each other like two ordinary, decent people?"

Don't be specific about knowing this is PUA material. That might be needlessly humiliating.

You may find that when you use the above language on some guys, they will actually start to act normal and you might like them. Others will continue with the insulting crap, and those guys you can just blow off.

I suggest the gentler language above because, at bottom, most guys who use this PUA stuff are really just trying to remedy a life of romantic failures, and they've heard the PUA stuff works (which it probably does, often enough, or else it wouldn't be so popular). These guys, underneath the canned, scripted bluster, aren't necessarily bad guys, but are guys whose romantic lives have been pathetic.

You can at least give them credit for trying to improve their situation, even if they are pursuing a completely wrong-headed strategy for doing so. If you gently and gracefully tell them to cut it out, that not all women are susceptible to such ham-handed strategies, you may actually find that they are nice guys, and even if you never see them again, they may be less likely to make pests of themselves to other women they meet in bars.
posted by jayder at 12:14 PM on December 31, 2009 [27 favorites]


Oh God, PLEASE absolutely call them out on it. It's really, really important that these guys do not think that they are pulling one over on the women they're targeting, even when - particularly when - they get shot down. They have no incentive to stop trying it on unless you make it transparently obvious that you know exactly what they are doing.

I can't think of the right line to prep yourself with, except perhaps to look and the guy and say, totally deadpan, "You're really good at this routine - did you study with Erik von Mark or did you give all your money to some moron on the internet?" You know, big eyes, wrapt attention, admiring body language, the whole nine yards.

That, I imagine, would really throw a wrench in the patter. I do not believe there is a scripted response for that, but undoubtledly someone will have a better line or approach.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:15 PM on December 31, 2009 [13 favorites]


Ok, I totally got the title of the book wrong: The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:15 PM on December 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yep, I'm with the "call him out and bust him" crowd. Otherwise, you could try laughing heartily -- as if it's so merrily ridiculous that he can't possibly be serious -- and then walking away.
posted by scody at 12:15 PM on December 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


"You know, I really really liked you until you made those backhanded comments to me."

I think you already have the perfect thing to say. It's direct without being petty.
posted by Alison at 12:16 PM on December 31, 2009 [48 favorites]


If I were you I would forget about these techniques and use your common sense and manners-meter. Rude is rude and you are allowed ... no, obligated ... to make the commenter feel like a weeny, which is what he is. So, say, totally DEADPAN with maybe a soupcon of confusion, "Um, desperate? What do you mean by that? I'm not feeling desperate in the least, and I sure don't know how you can make that assumption about these other people." And he'll say, "Huh, it was a joke, ok?" And you say, DEADPAN, "A joke? Oh. OK." Then turn around and find someone else to talk to. Relative to the book comment, I like modernomad's approach. Again, deadpan -- "That's not a very nice thing to say" -- and walk.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:21 PM on December 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I suggest the gentler language above because, at bottom, most guys who use this PUA stuff are really just trying to remedy a life of romantic failures, and they've heard the PUA stuff works (which it probably does, often enough, or else it wouldn't be so popular)

Homeopathy is also popular, but it doesn't work, either.

The "seduction community" is one vast sucker scheme. When these techniques work, they work on the placebo effect.

On the other hand, yeah, engaging with the douchey behaviors ("Your backhanded comments turned me off") rather than mocking the person for being a sucker does offer the possibility of helping someone who is basically a good egg following a misguided path.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:21 PM on December 31, 2009 [10 favorites]


"You know, I really really liked you until you made those backhanded comments to me."

Alison: I think you already have the perfect thing to say. It's direct without being petty.


You know, normally I would agree with that... but that response only addresses the "neg" itself, and not the overall PUA strategy. I'd be more inclined to call him out completely on the entire strategy because it should make it abundantly clear to him that even though he may have a response -- it won't work on you because you can see through his entire approach.
posted by jmnugent at 12:22 PM on December 31, 2009


Nthing call them out on it. Whether you choose to do so respectfully or not is of course up to you, but I'd say that assholes like this deserve no respect. When men say shit like that, it's clear they aren't thinking of you as a person, they're thinking of you as a thing to be conquered.
posted by Lobster Garden at 12:22 PM on December 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Co-signing with jaydar and oflinkey. You should say something, along the lines of calling them out on their failed use of PUA techniques.
posted by mlo at 12:24 PM on December 31, 2009


I usually just end the conversation and stop interacting with the guy once he starts doing something like this. I always want to tell him, "you know, I really really liked you until you made those backhanded comments to me." But I don't. Should I?

Well, what's your goal? Do you want them to reform their behavior in the future? Or just make them feel bad?

I'd say you probably should confront them. Tell them you're not interested in dating PUAs because they wouldn't need those techniques if they weren't losers.

That kind of statement seems like it could both reform their behavior and make them feel bad.
posted by delmoi at 12:25 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


My understanding is that PUA consists of guys faking the attributes of a "high value male" or "alpha male" in order to get women attracted to them. The "neg" is basically an attempt to signal to the woman that you are not intimidated, wowed, or cowed by her beauty, and the use of the "neg" is based on the theory that only high-value males are confident enough in themselves, and enjoying such a superabundance of female companionship, that they can afford to insult a woman. The idea is that, faced with such a high-value male, a woman's defenses will melt and she will be open to his romantic overtures.

So, at bottom, the "neg" is not really about insulting a woman, even though it is an insult --- rather, it is a compliment in that it shows the guy is interested in the woman, and is attempting to fake, in a crude, animalistic way, the colorings and behaviors of a genuinely confident and successful male, in the same way that nature shows depict certain animals faking certain behaviors for survival and reproductive purposes, etc.

It's pathetic, but it's not sinister.
posted by jayder at 12:31 PM on December 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


You can do two things in response to this repeated problem. You can react, and you've gotten good advice about that. You can also act to prevent this from happening. Is there something you can do or say online to filter out these guys before you see them? Perhaps say "oh, and by the way, I really don't like "negging" or any of that PUA bullshit, so don't even think about it." Make yourself very clear, then move on. If it happens on the date, say "I already told you about this", turn around, and walk away. Don't even say goodbye. No need to positively reinforce this behavior.
posted by kathrineg at 12:32 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh and, of course, if you feel your safety is threatened or he makes you very uncomfortable, follow your instincts instead of worrying about the "right", "ethical" or "witty" thing to do.
posted by kathrineg at 12:33 PM on December 31, 2009


I've read The Game by Neil Strauss and he describes what happened after he and his fellow PUA's had saturated the market in Los Angeles with these techniques. Aspiring PUA's would go up to girls in Santa Monica bars and do the whole PUA song and dance, only to have the girls say, "Oh, are you trying to neg me? You're the fourth guy tonight."

What I'm saying is that there is precedent for these guys to be called out on what they are doing.
posted by reenum at 12:34 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


The purpose of negging is to "reduce a woman's social value" in order to "penetrate her bitch shield" and "bring her social perception more in line with reality."

Assuming these are actual quotes from widely-read PUA materials (e.g. The Game), I would say exactly this:

Wow, you've reduced my social value in order to penetrate my bitch shield and bring my social perception more in line with reality!
posted by shakespeherian at 12:34 PM on December 31, 2009 [26 favorites]


Right, the important thing is not to get sucked into an argument about it. Because that's one of the goals of this nonsense — to bully women into spending time and mental energy on them. A guy who gets into a long email exchange about this stuff with you before you walk away is going to wind up feeling like the technique "almost worked," since after all a Real! Live! Woman! spent so much time intensely and passionately engaged with him about something.

If you feel like being helpful, send a single response saying "I know what you're doing, and you ought to know that you just blew your chances." And then block the guy, or send whatever emphatic END-OF-CONVERSATION signal is available on the site you're using, and don't look back.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:35 PM on December 31, 2009 [17 favorites]


P.S. You're geeky and all, but your knowledge of Star Trek is piss poor. Good thing you're cute. ;)
posted by reenum at 12:35 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't be specific about knowing this is PUA material. That might be needlessly humiliating.

I disagree. Sad social nerds (I am one by nature, so I can say that) do just want to find something that helps them be more successful - not just in a notch-on-the-bedpost way (though there are those guys, too), but just in a not being so lonely all the time way. So you're right in a way. The problem is, though, that these "techniques" also teach the shotgun method. They know they're going to get rejected a bunch of times, and that's part of the plan. By just walking away, it's not telling him that his "method" is not working out for him.

I think you should be absolutely clear that you know what he's doing and that you find that repulsive. At the very least, he may be too self-conscious or embarrassed to try it on the next target if he thinks his "secret method" is actually trite, well-known self-help garbage (which it is).

Or, you know, you could just keep quiet and let him keep bing a cheesy dork. It doesn't have to be your job to help him be a better person. I believe in letting the feedback mechanism work when there's no good reason not to, though. His method turned you off; tell him so. Let him decide if that means he should stop doing that or not. Hiding consequences makes him have to guess.
posted by ctmf at 12:35 PM on December 31, 2009 [10 favorites]


Or if this is happening in face-to-face dates, yeah, that's when you walk away and go home. Sadly, the guys you're getting this from have been taught to expect a lot of no-means-yes game playing from women. If you want to provide them with any sort of reality check, your "no" needs to be immediate, unambiguous, completely undramatic, and leave no possible room for appeal.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:37 PM on December 31, 2009


"oh, you're a real pickup master, aren't you. have a nice night, chump."
posted by rhizome at 12:38 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


"What does your book say about the part where I call you on your [choice adjective here] bullshit?"

Or, high road:

"Aww, you don't need to do that. We'd both have a much better time if it was just you and me here, flirting/talking, you know?"
posted by iamkimiam at 12:40 PM on December 31, 2009


I think you should be absolutely clear that you know what he's doing and that you find that repulsive.

I actually agree with you on letting him know you know what he's doing --- I suggest just keeping it vague, like, "I know some guys think you can get a woman interested by insulting her" --- but not saying needlessly cruel things like, "So did you attend Mystery's Seduction Bootcamp, or did you order the twelve-CD seduction seminar from Master Suave?" I really don't think it's nice to pointlessly humiliate someone that you've already pegged as a pathetic loser.

The would-be pickup artist is not insulting you to insult you --- he's insulting you to try to signal that he is a confident and successful guy who is just swimming in pussy. Pathetic.

You, by hurling cruel potshots about his (admittedly pathetic) attempts to improve his love life, would be actually intending to be cruel.

Which would make you worse than him.
posted by jayder at 12:41 PM on December 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Don't be specific about knowing this is PUA material. That might be needlessly humiliating.


No such thing as "needlessly humiliating" when it comes to PUAs. They should be mocked mercilessly and brutally; they are the enemies of women and indeed of humanity. Call them out on it, anonymous, and be as mean as you can be.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:41 PM on December 31, 2009 [44 favorites]


but not saying needlessly cruel things like, "So did you attend Mystery's Seduction Bootcamp, or did you order the twelve-CD seduction seminar from Master Suave?" I really don't think it's nice to pointlessly humiliate someone that you've already pegged as a pathetic loser.

Naah, fuck that. Speaking as someone who is ashamed to share a Y chromosome with these assholes, and in the interests of humanity as a whole, these tools need to be called out early, often, and in as harsh and humiliating a manner as possible, because nothing else will deter others from taking the same route.
posted by deadmessenger at 12:49 PM on December 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


I think all the situation requires is a little perspective. Remember:

These are guys that have so little confidence in themselves that they decided to follow advice basically outlining for them how to be somebody completely unlike themselves. They are, underneath the immaturity, lonely and timid. Their seemingly brazen techniques are unfortunate windows into their gullibility and insecurity. I'm sure what they do works. But only on their female equivalents.

Knowing this should give you all the reason you need to simply (and politely) walk away. Beating the (socially) weak is nothing to be proud of.
posted by nickjadlowe at 12:49 PM on December 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's pathetic, but it's not sinister.

I disagree. I think the "neg" idea exemplifies a very weird set of perceptions about How Women Are and How Men Are. I think those perceptions are counterproductive.

"You've got to take them down a peg and show them who's boss" is the paraphrase of how I've heard "neg" explained. I don't think that's a very healthy attitude for humans to take toward each other.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:57 PM on December 31, 2009 [15 favorites]


Say: "Thank you for showing me what kind of guy you are, so I don't have to waste any more time getting to know you." Then leave. Or pointedly direct your attention to someone more interesting.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 12:58 PM on December 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


I could not disagree with jayder more. A PUA barely considers women people. Yes, they are pathetic at their roots, but the path they are on when they start (christ, I hate to even type the word) negging is one that could easily lead to their becoming dangerous. If it makes me a bad person, so be it, but my sympathy for these toads is a negative value. Burst their bubbles before they go from creepy prick to a full-on date rapist.

Call them out. Be as harsh as the situation warrants. They've just insulted you - who gives a good goddamn about their feelings? Then end the interaction unequivocally. Don't let them try and reshape your spotting of their slimy "techniques" into what they'll see as a flirty little argument and a confirmation that the mystery method is working because they got all kinds of attention from you.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:02 PM on December 31, 2009 [27 favorites]


You mention these guys are serial offenders, but make sure you do only call out the guys who make comments like this more than once. It's possible that they actually aren't using any PUA techniques, but just stuck their foot in their mouths. I've made what you might call backhanded compliments to women before, but it's always been by accident (another socially-inept nerd here). It's not that easy for some of us to talk to the fairer sex without becoming completely tongue-tied.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 1:05 PM on December 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Its a stupid practice, but the basic idea I don't think is a bad one. I think its good idea when talking and getting to know someone that you're not so nervous that you can kid with them a bit. Nothing mean, but also not afraid to speak your mind. I'm way too shy and geeky when I first meet a girl to put this into practice, but I like the idea!
posted by mattsweaters at 1:05 PM on December 31, 2009


I would probably (roll my eyes) say something brief and humorous that let him know I was on to him and see what he does next. Just for my own amusement, though = total turn off.
posted by marimeko at 1:06 PM on December 31, 2009


Awkward, Geeky Guy here. I just wanted to throw in my two cents... for whatever it's worth.

Since the end of my marriage, I've have numerous fellow friends suggest that I go down this route, to become a PUA.

I find it all morally reprehensible.

Unfortunately, in this geek's neck of the woods, it works like a charm. Being myself ensures that I might get so far as learning a name and some basic conversation. Should I then leave to use a restroom, I find that... well, the god damned hawks have descended... and I'm just unable to penetrate the bullshit field that is being utilized by these fellow "men".

Guys like me just look on in disbelief... and disillusionment.

Then we go away.

Then we just stop caring at all about speaking with women... well, because it seems they just don't want to talk to someone that is real.

But hey, that's why there's Unix, and obscure computer hardware, and books, and poetry... and the whole damned Internet.

Gotta keep the mind busy...

So, be the woman you are. Call them out. Make them hurt.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 1:11 PM on December 31, 2009 [18 favorites]


I'm for calling them out. These are guys that have accepted that there is an algorithm to solve the female problem. They are obviously socially inept to be using this crap in the first place, but I think the essential problem is that they are treating women as problems to be solved, rather than human beings. They lack the empathy to think "Hmmm, how would I like to be treated that way?"

Calling them out on it directly without undue humiliation would be my approach - "Hey, I don't appreciate you using that PUA garbage on me. If you had treated me like a human being you may have had a chance. Goodbye."

It only takes a few vaccinators and debunkers to make the world a better place.
posted by benzenedream at 1:13 PM on December 31, 2009 [6 favorites]


The would-be pickup artist is not insulting you to insult you --- he's insulting you to try to signal that he is a confident and successful guy who is just swimming in pussy. Pathetic.

Bullshit. For the women who aren't aware of these pathetic techniques, the guy is just insulting her. Stop trying to rationalize this terrible behavior!

OP, call the guys out on this in whatever manner you like best. Men, and women, need to learn to treat others with respect. Or, at least, adhere somewhat to the golden rule: do unto others and all that...
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 1:16 PM on December 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


Why wouldn't you act like you would act if anyone insulted you? I've gotten versions of the "neg" before (although I think that was mostly in a pre-PUA era) and I generally look confused, say "oooookay", then wander off.
posted by JoanArkham at 1:19 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've known two guys who were into this sort of thing. One was a friend, who's nice, but socially awkward. He would never neg, and it seemed like the main advantage for him was the idea/illusion of "having a system" made it possible to go outside of his comfort zone. I tried to talk him out of it, but I let it go because he didn't seem to be doing any harm.

The other guy was an acquaintance, who I dropped because of his sleazy PUA bullshit, specifically, when he trying to use NLP patterns to subconsciously convince my extremely wasted friend to sleep with him. This seemed borderline daterape-y, and I can't fathom how anyone could be OK with routinely being in a gray area when it comes to that.

One observation: a lot of times, guys are out of sync with the culture - they're raised to be respectful gentlemen (e.g. my friend), but women they want to date are raised to not be ashamed of their sexuality, let their freak flag fly a little bit, etc. The traditional way is that guys demonstrate that they are emotionally mature & respectful, and then they will be granted access to the secret garden of teh sechs. But increasingly, this is effectively reversed: guys are expected to demonstrate sexuality/adventurousness/bad boy streak before they are allowed into the secret garden of intimacy. Which is why a common objection to waiting until after marriage is "But what if the sex is bad?" meaning that (good) sex is seen as a precondition for a relationship, rather than vice versa.

Seen in this cultural context, the PUA thing can be a good thing, in that it may help men navigate these two contradictory expectations.

My opinion about what to do: call them on it if it seems sleazy, preferably by dropping PUA jargon at them. Negging them back is justified, but it might not signal that you are on to their game, and they'll just move on to some other girl.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:25 PM on December 31, 2009 [11 favorites]


Calling them out on it directly without undue humiliation would be my approach - "Hey, I don't appreciate you using that PUA garbage on me. If you had treated me like a human being you may have had a chance. Goodbye."

+1 to that
posted by Neofelis at 1:26 PM on December 31, 2009


Call them out on it. Especially if you're not interested in talking with them anymore. I'd be embarrassed to use anything but my personality to impress a girl. Call me old fashioned.
posted by santaliqueur at 1:33 PM on December 31, 2009


Seen in this cultural context, the PUA thing can be a good thing, in that it may help men navigate these two contradictory expectations.

I strongly disagree. The cultural expectations that come from the PUA thing are that women are stuck-up bitches because they don't give guys all the sex they want, and they do this because they want guys to manipulate them. This mindset is sick and twisted and evil and cannot do anything good or helpful.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:41 PM on December 31, 2009 [25 favorites]


Calling them out on it makes sense. But it's worth mentioning that this technique was around long before it was called "negging," and lots of guys use it who are not following some official PUA doctrine.

If anyone here watched the really old "Real World" on MTV and remembers Puck the bike messenger, he clearly did this (or tried to do it) to one of his housemates.

So call them out on what they're actually doing, not on the book, because they might not be following a book; they might just be following what they've learned from friends.
posted by bingo at 1:44 PM on December 31, 2009


call them out directly, do a little research so you can throw their terminology right back at them : "are you negging me? that's absurd. i'm sitting in a four-set with a guy at the table. you should be engaging him before trying to get a hook, and incidentally you should also work on your neg delivery as it seemed a little forced. also, your prop is too big for your head."
posted by radiosilents at 1:47 PM on December 31, 2009 [8 favorites]


They're assholes who insulted you. Treat them like any other assholes who insult you.

They deserve absolutely zero wiggle room because they're "awkward geeks." Society didn't make them be an asshole, they chose to be an asshole. They're insecure about dating? Guess what? SO IS EVERYONE.

So are jocks- people assume they're dumb. So are rich guys- they're worried girls only want their money. So are really good-looking guys- they're worried no one sees past their looks. "Geek" is not a protected or unique class. The fact that someone once picked on you is not a free pass to be an asshole the rest of your life.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:47 PM on December 31, 2009 [20 favorites]


It's pathetic, but it's not sinister.

Only if you believe that contemptuously viewing all women as bitches to be manipulated and objects to be conquered can't possibly have any other consequences in the real world.
posted by scody at 1:48 PM on December 31, 2009 [45 favorites]


I would also totally call them out on it. The sooner they realise that the PUA act doesn't work, the sooner they might begin treating women like human beings, and behaving like ones themselves.
posted by essexjan at 1:56 PM on December 31, 2009


A guy who negs is somewhere between (very lonely, misguided)-------(very douchey, misogynistic) and you can't say for sure where they are if you just met them. If they are incredibly nervous, they may be trying to tease you and make a wrong turn into Rude.

I don't think you should excuse the behavior and keep seeing them, but if pointing it out will cause just one misguided guy to reflect on and maybe change his behavior, it's worth it. The douches will just move on.
posted by soelo at 2:02 PM on December 31, 2009


Any answers you get to a question about pickup artistry on Metafilter must be taken with a huge grain of salt, because the people who frequent this site are, intellectually and culturally, "above" the techniques that pickup artists use.

To us, it seems cheesy. So most of the responses here can be expected to be harshly condemnatory, at a level far out of proportion to the actual offensiveness of the techniques.

Maybe it does regard women as "bitches" and "objects to be manipulated," but I was under the impression that PUA stuff was on par with that eighties book "The Rules," which regarded men as objects to be manipulated.

Whatever you may think of the particular techniques being discussed here, there is nothing innately reprehensible about someone trying to "figure out" how to be successful with the opposite sex. There are a million questions about that very question on Metafilter. We've all known guys who were "too nice," to the extent that they were treated as doormats by the women they were interested in. I think PUA techniques are an attempt to help guys like that --- a COMPLETELY MISGUIDED attempt, but not something that marks a guy as an "enemy of women."
posted by jayder at 2:04 PM on December 31, 2009 [11 favorites]


I think PUA techniques are an attempt to help guys like that --- a COMPLETELY MISGUIDED attempt, but not something that marks a guy as an "enemy of women."

Misguided in that it encourages men to view women as fundamentally unequal, lesser beings. This is not merely cheesy; it is actually harmful to men and women.
posted by scody at 2:09 PM on December 31, 2009 [13 favorites]


Misguided in that it encourages men to view women as fundamentally unequal, lesser beings.

I think you're wrong about that. I think it is a tactic whereby losers, who perceive women to have all the power, attempt to pretend that they (the loser guys) have power, too. So it actually regards women as the ones with the power.

I only know anything about this because a writer on a arts and culture blog I read, 2 Blowhards, occasionally linked to PUA stuff as an interesting cultural phenomenon.
posted by jayder at 2:13 PM on December 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


My suggestion for staying on the high road, delivering a non-nasty but clear call-out, and not wasting any more of your time than necessary: As soon as you note the PUA approach being overtly used on you, simply say "Please stop using those horrible techniques on women. Now excuse me." and walk away (or just turn away from him if you're sitting or don't wish to move).

In other words, you're probably not going to change the "artist's" behavior with a single clever lecture or insult - not by yourself. And besides, you're out to have fun, not change the world, right? So, lengthy elaborate responses probably aren't the best plan here. But if the whole sordid PUA thing is ever going to get widely discredited, it will be because women in general consistently, completely rebuff these guys until the message sinks in that the techniques aren't effective.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:13 PM on December 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Laugh, say "You paid money to learn how to do this? Ask for a refund."
Then turn your back and never speak to them again/.
posted by Billegible at 2:34 PM on December 31, 2009


Maybe it does regard women as "bitches" and "objects to be manipulated," but I was under the impression that PUA stuff was on par with that eighties book "The Rules," which regarded men as objects to be manipulated.

Neither is good.

The fact that someone wrote a sexist-against-men book and made a bazillion dollars from it doesn't make the sexist-against-women books that made a bazillion dollars any less reprehensible.

Both are reprehensible. Teaching people that another set of people are Others who are to be manipulated is a shitty way to do life.

I would hope that, as you say, most people on MetaFilter are indeed above this. It's one of the reasons I like hanging out here.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:39 PM on December 31, 2009 [11 favorites]


I strongly disagree. The cultural expectations that come from the PUA thing are that women are stuck-up bitches because they don't give guys all the sex they want... This mindset is sick and twisted and evil and cannot do anything good or helpful.

The guy I knew who was into it wasn't sick, twisted and evil - he had Asperger's and had only ever dated one girl. It's tempting to portray women as the victims in this story (and maybe wear the white knight outfit), but most women I've talked to about this have been far less willing than me to look at it so black-and-white, maybe because they see this as something that comes from male powerlessness, not male dominance.
posted by AlsoMike at 2:41 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


PUA stuff is a little immature and a little spiritually sick. Psychologically malnourished, perhaps?

May I suggest that when guys pull PUA "techniques" on you, that you treat them like children or like they are sick? With honesty, kindness and explicit boundaries.

People should not use PUA because it is demeaning and manipulative. Please try to find a way to respond that isn't demeaning and manipulative either. The point is honesty, not retribution or inducing pain / "making them feel bad".

Seconding what others have said – the perfect thing to say is really "you know, I really really liked you until you made those backhanded comments to me".

And Scody and others ... please listen to what people are saying about PUAs in this thread. I ask you to consider that PUA is basically sad, not evil.
posted by krilli at 2:46 PM on December 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Clarification re. PUAs feeling bad: They should feel bad. Of course. It's just that their own conscience is very likely to be capable of giving them anguished shame in the dark night, as they think red-faced of the moment where they were revealed to be so very small. You don't need to twist the dagger. That's the beauty of it. 'Cause twisting daggers also hurts yourself.
posted by krilli at 2:48 PM on December 31, 2009


And Scody and others ... please listen to what people are saying about PUAs in this thread. I ask you to consider that PUA is basically sad, not evil.

Krilli... please listen to what women are saying about being on the receiving end of PUA techniques. I ask you to consider that PUA may be many things, including harmfully misogynistic.
posted by scody at 2:52 PM on December 31, 2009 [15 favorites]


"oh, honey, you must have confused me for one of the bags of herpes that sort of thing actually works on" is probably how i would respond.
posted by nadawi at 2:52 PM on December 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Direct call-out. "Ooh, a negger. How very, very original. Is there anything else about women you've only seen in books?"
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:57 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't give a damn about helping people like this "get better with women". In fact, I hope they keep making the same idiotic mistakes over and over again so they never accidentally stumble into getting laid by anyone worth having. Isn't it much better if they fly their loser flag loud and proud from the beginning? Think of all the time you'll save.

I think it's far more stinging to unsmilingly stare them in the eye like they don't exist, and walk away without saying a word. A non-reaction hurts more than an angry one.
posted by aquafortis at 2:57 PM on December 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


as a women, i find the hapless nerds that use PUA to be sad, and desperate, and misguided. i find their tactics to misogynistic, but i generally don't find them to be harmful or evil. much like girls read self help dating books written by the people who write sex and the city, these guys are ultimately just trying to find someone. the people like Mystery are evil and opportunistic and vile. they are selling magic beans - the guy that buys them is a sucker, not a co-conspirator.
posted by nadawi at 3:00 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't go with nadawi's response:
"oh, honey, you must have confused me for one of the bags of herpes that sort of thing actually works on" is probably how i would respond.

That's about as offensive, misogynistic and reinforcing of sexist stereotypes as anything I've ever heard. I can't believe a woman would refer to ANY other woman, ever, as a bag of herpes. Just terrible.
posted by taff at 3:07 PM on December 31, 2009 [22 favorites]


This has happened to me a couple times; like you, usually when I do the online dating thing.

The one time I ever said anything about it instead of just disengaging, this is what happened: Trying to be very gentle, I said that I didn't think we were compatible, because I wasn't comfortable with a hard teasing style of joking. He replied that he didn't think we were compatible either, because he wasn't comfortable with someone as insecure and overly serious as I was.

So, he didn't suddenly realize that it's wrong to try to hurt people to feel more secure in your own position. He tried to hurt me again to feel more secure in his own position.

I say this only as a data point, because, obvs, everyone is different and everyone will react differently.

But -- I've only read a few of the comments, so please forgive me if someone upthread has said this-- I think that there is a fundamental difference between people who are willing to hurt others in order to get what they want, and people who aren't. We all could think of things we want, even need, that we could get out of someone if we broke down their self esteem or hurt them in some similar way.

I agree with you that someone who would do this, for whatever reason, isn't someone to keep in your life. I'm just skeptical that anyone with this very fundamental character trait would suddenly feel that it is wrong, no matter what you said, without something more serious than just a conversation about it.

So if you want to say something to these guys to show them the error of their ways ... I just don't know if that'll ever happen. This is what I think as the result of my experiences with other kinds of empathy-less people-- con artists, etc.
posted by Ashley801 at 3:09 PM on December 31, 2009 [12 favorites]


"oh, honey, you must have confused me for one of the bags of herpes that sort of thing actually works on" is probably how i would respond.

Really? Slut-shaming other women is how you would respond to someone using PUA tactics on you?

Holy Stockholm Syndrome, Batman.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:15 PM on December 31, 2009 [24 favorites]


I can't believe a woman would refer to ANY other woman, ever, as a bag of herpes.

because all women are beautiful and wonderful and there aren't examples of females who do in fact fall for shit like this and encourage this sort of behavior? might i suggest you watch a few minutes of jersey shore or bachelor or girls next door. men and women are both able to awful people. my response's point is to say "your style of picking people up will never get you the kind of woman you'd actually want to be with". i'm the kind of person who uses offensive language as a style of humor (not everyone's cup of tea, but certainly some people enjoy it) and i don't think it's my job to protect all of womenkind.
posted by nadawi at 3:16 PM on December 31, 2009


Just say: "Hey, don't neg me, bro!"

If the response is an annoying/jerk vibe, then cut-off and walk away.
If the response is goofy/confusion, then pause and see what he says.

Everyone agrees that PUA is stupid. But some people are just not naturally talented at socializing, and this script seems to be presented by the internets as a new format of socialization. The use of this script is a signal of desperation. Generally we wouldn't want to be too judgmental about people who have imperfect social skills. But we are.
posted by ovvl at 3:18 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


[this thread has nothing to do with Jews, don't start, thank you. also further "bag of herpes" discussions maybe need to go to metatalk.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:27 PM on December 31, 2009


So call them out on what they're actually doing, not on the book, because they might not be following a book; they might just be following what they've learned from friends.

repeating for emphasis. I have a friend who's moved and got in with a bunch of guys who do this, and the instant he mentioned them I recognised it as Neil Strauss/Mystery stuff. But he's never heard of Strauss and didn't even realise it was 'a system', it was just a new way of interacting that his new cooler friends used.
posted by jacalata at 3:33 PM on December 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't think the problem here is of what to do when someone BSes you. It sounds like the jolt you get from liking the guy and having those feelings evaporate so quickly is the real problem. If this is the case, then there is no response or non-response that is going to restore the balance in a satisfactory way for you.

I would make it clear on your profile that the way someone talks to you is important to you.

I'd also consider tossing a very, very small stone into the conversation and seeing if the guy notices the ripples before writing him off completely, as I've stuck my foot in my mouth a time or two on online dating sites.

But these are things that help pre-empt garden-variety ineptness and distinguish it from PUA skeeziness. If you're at a point where you already feel like you know what's happening, or if it doesn't really matter to you which one it is, then I'd just leave via the most convenient escape route.

But again, I think you're making something that is "their" problem into something that is "your" problem if you focus too much on what to say or do in these situations when the outcome you're looking for is pretty clear.
posted by alphanerd at 3:33 PM on December 31, 2009


Don't take any crap from anyone. In face-to-face conversation I would probably respond with something very short and direct - "Hey, that's not cool. Don't insult me, you barely know me."

I have known non-PUA guys to do this kind of thing - it's an endemic meme even among supposedly more enlightened, less-desperate men. It probably even worked on me a few times when I was younger and less secure in myself.

In online conversation you have time to craft a clever response like those above and to explain in more depth that this is unacceptable.
posted by mai at 3:55 PM on December 31, 2009


Negging is an admission that you need to be taken down a level to be on the same level as the person that is negging you. To respond to this, you should appropriately say "I love your favorite book. It is the best thing that I have ever read. I have never, ever, read any other book like it, and you're an extremely intelligent person for having recommended this." I call this method possing, whereby you partake in an admission that the person you're taking to needs to be brought up a level to be on the same level as you. But that's not the real intent. The real intent is to demonstrate to the person you're talking to the thing you're lacking from them on the assumption and hope that there is a real person inside and they're just being blocked by this "dick-shield".

Essentially, if what we're disputing is the mindset that drives negging and trying to penetrate it so that the person on the other side of the table understands you're BOTH real people with value, then you need to address the insecurity implicit in negging. It's not just that they're bringing you down, it's that by doing so they're exposing their inherent distrust in their own value. And by reducing people to put-downs or categories or dehumanizing them by putting their actions under a banner, we very much tend to forget the heart of our own philosophies that force our opposition to this social "situation."

So compliment them, show enthusiasm in the things they like, treat them well and with respect, and the worst they get, the more obvious you make yourself, and if they don't catch on, then it's their fault for refusing to leave their delusions behind. But you gave them a shot to not think of themselves as inferior or think that you needed to be brought down. You gave them an opportunity for the two of you to be on the level. And if they don't take it, then walk away.
posted by happysurge at 4:06 PM on December 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Too much over-thinking. Just say "Dude, don't neg me.".
posted by w0mbat at 4:16 PM on December 31, 2009


but most women I've talked to about this have been far less willing than me to look at it so black-and-white, maybe because they see this as something that comes from male powerlessness, not male dominance.

Interestingly enough, most of the women on this very thread are arguing otherwise.

Which proves the larger point of why PUA stuff is ridiculous--"women" are not some monolithic Borg vaginamind, but 3.5 billion people with lots of different opinions.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:16 PM on December 31, 2009 [14 favorites]


I don't think you should hesitate to call them out, although it doesn't need to be confrontational. I learned about the whole PUA thing from this very website (before I experienced it, fortunately). I never thought twice about my response to those "techniques"-- a bemused, "are you negging me right now? Seriously? You know that's the least likely thing to work ever, right?"

When I get a reaction other than silence, it's always surprise that I know about negging or PUA or ladders any of that. Like they thought this was some sort of Y chromosome-bound secret instinct.
posted by tyrantkitty at 4:18 PM on December 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Interestingly enough, most of the women on this very thread are arguing otherwise.

Which proves the larger point of why PUA stuff is ridiculous--"women" are not some monolithic Borg vaginamind, but 3.5 billion people with lots of different opinions.


Interestingly enough, most of the women he's talked to are arguing otherwise.

Which proves the larger point of why PUA stuff is not ridiculous--"women" are not some monolithic Borg vaginamind, but 3.5 billion people with lots of different opinions.

Massive overreaction in this thread to "PUAs", if not to the examples given by the OP. Most "PUA" techniques are inoffensive gimmicks to help socially awkward guys get a girl's #
posted by mpls2 at 4:27 PM on December 31, 2009


Definitely call them on it. Consider it a service to humanity. Whether you want to write a scathing and humiliating reply in turn or take the high road is up to you. But don't engage with them further after that. They aren't people worth knowing, at least not until after they have had some serious introspection. Block them if possible.
posted by grouse at 4:32 PM on December 31, 2009


I seriously never see anything more cringe inducing than conversations about PU on the internet. Fantastic!

If you want to be helpful, call them on it. If you want to fuck with them, pretend that it's working and then shut them down later for no apparent reason whatsoever. They'll spend hours online unsuccessfully trying to figure out what they did wrong.
posted by skintension at 4:43 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just don't get the vitriol being directed at guys who --- if they are using pickup artist tactics --- are simply trying to achieve success with women that has eluded them in the past. Yes, the comments anonymous quoted are rude, but shit, why does a rude comment really call for an atomic smackdown like some people are advocating here?

Pickup artistry is kind of like multi-level marketing bullshit. It's a refuge of hope for people who have been losers.1 You don't have to fall for their shit, but why mock them?

If someone tries to recruit you into their multi-level marketing program, do you go, "Oooh, did you learn about that on late-night TV? Am I going to see you on an infomercial, with palm trees and the beautiful blue surf in the background, crowing about how you became a millionaire in ninety days?"

Of course you wouldn't, that would be cruel. So why mock the PUA guys?

1Actually, I suspect the strategies taught in these seminars might actually help a lot of guys, since the main goal is to fake confidence, and everyone can acknowledge that confident people are more romantically successful than insecure people.
posted by jayder at 4:44 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then we just stop caring at all about speaking with women... well, because it seems they just don't want to talk to someone that is real.

Sounds like you're looking in the wrong place. Lots of women worth talking to, who would happily talk to someone who is "real", are hanging out elsewhere than in bars. Try looking elsewhere?
posted by jokeefe at 4:50 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just don't get the vitriol being directed at guys who --- if they are using pickup artist tactics --- are simply trying to achieve success with women that has eluded them in the past.

Because they are assholes.
posted by grouse at 4:54 PM on December 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


I would just say "Wow! That´s a really fucked up comment. Did I tell you I don't like talking to assholes? Gotta go, bye."

I wouldn't bother calling him on "negging" - some people neg naturally, instinctively, it´s called manipulation. Insulting has nothing to do with flirting, no matter what results it occasionally may get.
posted by Locochona at 4:56 PM on December 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I know a number of guys who are all into the PUA stuff. Since I'm old and married and more focused on how to form a better and more honest relationship I often find myself shaking my head and even mocking them. Clearly many of the tactics they learn are counter-productive towards forming realistic connections with their fellow humans who happen to be female. I feel sorry for them in terms of what they miss as a result. But when they couldn't get past the first few awkward exchanges with a woman, they were no better off.

Many of them are profoundly lonely and desperate to find a way to connect with women and get some piece of what I have. They took up the PUA methodology because the old advice of "be yourself" failed them. For whatever reason, they have not yet found a way to reliably attract and bond with a woman. So, I'm reluctant to advocate that you seek to crush them because they are manipulative and objectifying. Ultimately, the PUA model really only coaches them through the initial stages of meeting and courting someone. Past that, they are forced to actually relate to you as a real woman and then you can more freely judge them for who they are. I weep that this is the way they find to connect and perhaps you can judge them for it more harshly than I, but I see how desperately they want to find someone and I find it difficult not feeling some sympathy for them. Perhaps some are actually just asses who seek to seduce a long string of women and avoid any real connection, but many that I know are less Lothario and more just hungry for that connection that so many seek.

Of course, I've become more of a curmudgeon who weeps for the future. Sex is learned from porn and the sweetness of seduction is replaced by a tawdry "game" but I have not yet abandoned hope that we can still figure it all out.
posted by Lame_username at 5:09 PM on December 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


And, to be honest, I also think they are idiots who might need to be retrained with a sledgehammer. God help me, I'm so very grateful that I have found a woman that I adore and who seems to be fond of me. I should not have hit "Post Comment", but I'm mildly buzzed.
posted by Lame_username at 5:11 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Alison's answer.

If someone is rude to you, you can just say "that's not a nice thing to say" or "none of my friends talk to me like that" or even "that's kind of rude" and if you don't feel like talking to them anymore, don't. Maybe you misinterpreted their comment or they were rude by accident, and this gives them a chance to apologize or explain.

A lot of the answers here about passing back the piss (e.g., "be as mean as you can be", "die in a fire") is absolutely terrible manners and social grace. When I see people trading insults, I feel sorry for both of them (and make a mental note to avoid both of them.)
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:17 PM on December 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Oh, don't worry, those girls aren't desperate just because they're talking to you!" "Oh, my favorite book is brilliant! I'm sorry if you don't understand it, though."

In other words, if he tells you your favorite band sucks, you tell him you're sorry he has such unfortunate taste, it's a bit sad for him, but you'll try and overlook it. In other words, you feel a bit sorry for guys who have to put down women to get attention.

Then again.. I guess putting down people and being snarky is done enough that a lot of it is unconscious and some guys don't really get that others are genuinely upset by it. I experienced this once from a guy who turned out to be a pretty awesome person, even though the first thing he said to me was very rude.. in his case I suspect it was just a defense mechanism from having grown up in one of those small towns where people treat you badly if you're sort of a nerd.

So it's like they expect you're going to reject them and figure they may as well hand you a reason to do it & a way they can explain it to themselves, because it's less of a letdown than if you actually got to know them and *then* rejected them.

I guess you'd have to use good intuition to be able to tell these types apart from guys who really are playing some pickup game, and are obnoxious and sexist through and through.
posted by citron at 5:17 PM on December 31, 2009


After noticing some pretty odd behavior from guys I'd meet or talk to online....
This happens much more with guys I've met online than guys I meet in real life....
It's stuff that by itself isn't that bad, but when a guy makes 3 of these sorts of comments in a row, and guy after guy has pulled this sort of thing in an almost rote pattern, I just don't want to stick around for more of it.


I just went back and re-read your question after going through this thread, and I think it is telling that you are finding this happening most often online, where anonymity leads people to be more outspoken...and yes, sometimes total asshats.

I'd like to know where you are meeting these guys online. Because when you say, "guy after guy has pulled this sort of thing..." I find myself wondering if the site has something to do with the quality of responses you are getting. There's a huge difference between Mefi comments and Yahoo Answers, for example--one has insightful responses and a fair amount of snark, the other is fratboyish at best and just plain nasty at worst. And it would be helpful to know where these guys are hanging out so other single Mefites can avoid those sites, too.

My gut feeling is that if this happens online, you should certainly respond in kind. What do you have to lose by confronting some anonymous jerk?

But IRL, I'm in favor of starting up a dialog to find out whether this is just some guy who doesn't know how to talk to a woman or if he really is "negging". You can backspace on a keyboard, but sometimes you just put your foot in your mouth when you are talking with someone for the first time in person. So, yeah, if it were me, IRL, I'd give the benefit of the doubt.
posted by misha at 5:51 PM on December 31, 2009


I just don't get the vitriol being directed at guys who --- if they are using pickup artist tactics --- are simply trying to achieve success with women that has eluded them in the past. Yes, the comments anonymous quoted are rude, but shit, why does a rude comment really call for an atomic smackdown like some people are advocating here?

Because the end-game of the PUA bullshit is not getting a woman's number, it's coercing her consent to sex. Maybe not for all the guys who do it, but it certainly is for enough of them that I'd consider it dangerous to continue associating with someone walking that path. Basically, either you're willing to be a rapist or you're willing to hang out with and take advice from rapists, and either way, I don't want you anywhere near me or anyone I like.
posted by KathrynT at 6:01 PM on December 31, 2009 [13 favorites]


There's no way to know if a guy is PUA-negging or is just being manipulative, so I don't think your response should focus on the PUA aspect. Focus instead on the real issue -- that they are being rude and manipulative.

And fun as a lot of the suggestions are to read, in real life (and even more so online, where people hide behind anonymity) being direct or harsh in that way will inevitably elicit some super aggressive responses from the men. Be safe first, and only say those harsh things if you are in a place that is comfortable and safe to do so.

My gut sense is that you should just end the communication when you get those kinds of remarks, rather than try to reeducate them. Anyone who is good at PUA stuff, or who is just a natural manipulator, will know how to incorporate and use your aggrieved response; someone who is clueless may take it as flirting or as an excuse for hostility. Whereas cutting off communications stops any kind of positive feedback for them, and hopefully will indirectly lead to them finding kinder strategies.
posted by Forktine at 6:20 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just don't get the vitriol being directed at guys who --- if they are using pickup artist tactics --- are simply trying to achieve success with women that has eluded them in the past.

I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, it's because I think it's wrong to try to get things you want out of people by manipulating them, especially by trying to hurt them in some way. It doesn't matter (to me) if what you're after is benign or not. Or how badly you want this thing, or whether or not you know of any other ways to get it. To me, being willing to do that is the sign of a bad person.
posted by Ashley801 at 6:20 PM on December 31, 2009 [14 favorites]


P.S. I also don't think it's helpful to sink to the same level.
posted by Ashley801 at 6:21 PM on December 31, 2009


I like your instincts, as Alison said, are absolutely correct -- to be direct but not petty. While I love some of the snappy come-backs that other people have come up with, I feel like ultimately that's really just, if not playing into the PUA's hands, just being complicit, or being implicated anyway, in the pettiness of it all - and I don't mean that in a "blame the victim" sense, but more in a "you bring me down to this" sense. Another way to put it my advice is --

A strange game. The only way to win is not to play.
posted by chinston at 6:36 PM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


edit: I like think your instincts
posted by chinston at 7:01 PM on December 31, 2009


If you can master the calm, chilly stare, then this is a good time to whip it out.

He negs. You don't respond verbally and just give him the chiller look. Let it drag out as long as possible. Within a minute he'll start sputtering. Anyone using the PUA technique is somewhat socially awkward. He's unprepared to deal with someone who doesn't feed into his script.

Just. Stare.

Then end the meeting quickly with a firm goodbye. Who has time for someone who feels better by belittling others?
posted by 26.2 at 8:09 PM on December 31, 2009


lol I read some of "Double you Dating", used them on my future wife, and when I asked her about it later she said I was acting like a total clingy asshole and she liked me in spite of it.
Infer whatever you want.
posted by spacefire at 10:03 PM on December 31, 2009


This is offensive, irrespective of any "cultural" context. Perhaps more so, because you are undermining the intelligence of individuals based on perceptions of a group of people (women in the particular culture).

How to respond-

1. (Straight face)
"Seriously, no, seriously dude- did that ever work?"

2. (Look excited)
"It did? No kidding. Can I meet some of these women? Please.. please.... pretty please!"

3. Give him the eew-he-just-picked-his-nose-right-in-front-of-me look.
(No words. Make face and just leave.)

4. Same look with whatever works best for you.
(No words. Make face and leave.)

5. No faces. No response. Just leave.
(Never underestimate the power of ignoring people right in their faces.)

Don't forget to keep us posted on how it worked!
posted by xm at 10:25 PM on December 31, 2009


If someone tries to recruit you into their multi-level marketing program, do you go, "Oooh, did you learn about that on late-night TV? Am I going to see you on an infomercial, with palm trees and the beautiful blue surf in the background, crowing about how you became a millionaire in ninety days?"

Of course you wouldn't, that would be cruel. So why mock the PUA guys?


Because aside from the actual insults, the PUA stuff insults someone's intelligence. It's basically assuming that the person is 1) too dumb to see that she is being manipulated, and 2) too dumb to be aware of techniques that EVERYONE knows about by now. The PUA isn't like a multi-level market dude at all: those guys are misguided about the program they believe in, but at least a MLM guy will be straight-forward with you about what he wants.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:18 PM on December 31, 2009


Really, these people aren't looking to meet someone to date. They are playing an RPG, and women only need to be spoken to and manipulated because women are the Guardians of the Holes.

Like the stench of Axe, this is a handy hint that you haven't found anything worth taking home.

Take null terminated's advice and just be glad you can recognize spoiled bait when you smell it.
posted by Sallyfur at 12:22 AM on January 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


This man has done you an inestimable favor. In a single sentence he has conveyed that he is easily led; that he believes himself to be socially incompetent; that he wants to manipulate you. Why "call him out on it"? You'd just be teaching him to refine his act. Decline his invitation but leave the warning signals in place for the next woman he decides to target.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:33 AM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because the end-game of the PUA bullshit is not getting a woman's number, it's coercing her consent to sex. Maybe not for all the guys who do it, but it certainly is for enough of them that I'd consider it dangerous to continue associating with someone walking that path. Basically, either you're willing to be a rapist or you're willing to hang out with and take advice from rapists, and either way, I don't want you anywhere near me or anyone I like.

Manipulating someone to have sex with you is an asshole thing to do. However if the sex is consensual it is simply not the same as rape.
posted by afu at 1:31 AM on January 1, 2010 [8 favorites]


This whole thread is weird. It makes no sense to be offended by the formalization per se of some social ritual (teasing) into some kind of system ("negging"). And the problem with guys who are creepy and do borderline-date-rapey things is that they are creepy and borderline-date-rapey, not that they have read some book.

Ignore the myriad agendas on display in this thread. Stay away from people who creep you out; get away fast from anyone who gives you a dangerous vibe; don't keep dating people who turn out to be the kind of people you don't like; spend time with people you find charming.

Personally, I don't think the sheer fact that someone has studied the question of how to appeal to you is, in and of itself, cause for condemnation, just as I don't think sleazy harrassers and date rapists are any less abhorrent in those cases where it comes naturally to them. So this isn't really about "using techniques", it's about good people versus sleazy ones.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 3:35 AM on January 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


What's your goal? Do you want to punish a guy for either being a jackass, or using jackassery, do you want to teach potentially teachable guys that PUA techniques are manipulative, and do not lead to healthy relationships, or do you just want to get rid of presumed assholes?

1. Hey, sounds like a sad attempt at PUA techniques, which means you have so little to offer you have to resort to game-playing.
2. Are you using negging on me? Want to hear why that's really offensive?
3. You're negging. FOAD.
posted by theora55 at 8:00 AM on January 1, 2010


Manipulating someone to have sex with you is an asshole thing to do. However if the sex is consensual it is simply not the same as rape.

Yeah, the idea that practitioners of pickup artistry are akin to rapists in any way is absolutely nuts. Under that theory, a woman who decides she's going to use her attractiveness to get a guy into bed is using tactics that are akin to rape.

The ridiculous hyperbole isn't helping your argument, folks.
posted by jayder at 8:57 AM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


From Psychology Today, "Are You Dating an Abuser?"

"The most abusive form of hierarchical self-esteem is predatory self-esteem. To feel good about themselves, persons with predatory self-esteem need to make other people feel bad about themselves."

You don't know for sure that these guys are using PUA techniques unless they admit it to you. Either way, it's demeaning and I wouldn't give them any more of my time. A commonality between PUA's and abusers is that they try to play mind games when you object to their horrible behavior, turning it around and blaming it on the woman (i.e., she made me do this because she's uses her attractiveness as a weapon). Bullshit.

We called these guys sleazy pick-up artists in the 1970's and that's what they still are today. Avoid at all costs.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:04 AM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jayder, I too am seeing some extrapolation here.

Also, cat john_8_1-11.txt | sed s/"adultery"/"PUA techniques"/g
posted by krilli at 11:52 AM on January 1, 2010


Jesus I just realized that this explains the bizarre behavior of a guy at a bar a few weeks ago. My friends observed him checking me out and then he walked over "bumping" and then told me he'd "never seen a girl make such a creative use of a curtain" referring to my dress. I just thought he was an asshole, but my friends were positive he was attempting to hit on me.

I was insulted and hurt so I went and immediately had sex with him. But seriously these assholes can be hurtful, it's inexcusable behavior.
posted by whoaali at 3:48 PM on January 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Jesus I just realized that this explains the bizarre behavior of a guy at a bar a few weeks ago.

I was talking to a woman who had done some dating online recently, and she was expressing bewilderment at what she referred to as "cheesy, scripted" lines that guys were delivering, as if it was some kind of trend. Having read a little bit about pickup artistry, I had a feeling that she was being hit on by guys who were following those methods, but I didn't say anything about it for fear of somehow associating myself with that bullshit. I just echoed her bewilderment.
posted by jayder at 4:16 PM on January 1, 2010


Screw whether it's a PUA move or not -- if someone said something like "that book's pretty silly, it's a good thing you're cute", I'd sure as hell give him some kind of retort back, or at the least say something like "what the hell is THAT supposed to mean?"

But it's an insult. Treat it like one. Exactly HOW you treat insults is an exercise I leave up to you (some people just roll their eyes, some people say "that's not nice," others say something clever and cutting), but treat however you would treat any other insult.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:01 PM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


This whole pickup artist thing is beyond pathetic. I've just recently heard of it and read a bit about it. These losers absolutely need to be called out.
posted by carlh at 5:29 PM on January 1, 2010


Because the end-game of the PUA bullshit is not getting a woman's number, it's coercing her consent to sex.

And the end-game of getting a woman's number is what, exactly? Having long conversations on the phone about celebrity gossip?

Being realistic here, the end-game of all courting-type activity is getting the other person into bed, either for the sex alone, or as part of a broader relationship. So it's not as if people who, idunno, buy flowers & shower people with compliments are particularly morally superior because their motives are somehow noble & pure, whereas the people using PUA techniques are necessarily skeezy & motivated only by sex.

Just playing a bit of devils' advocacy here, because normally I'd be as indignant as anybody else about this PUA stuff, but recently I was told the story of how a guy had successfully used PUA techniques to pick up a woman I know, and - surprise surprise - he turned out to be a nice guy*, they dated for a while & are still in touch. Her take on the PUA thing was that he was mostly just a bit clueless when it came to M-F communication, so for him it was a useful crutch to help getting to know a woman better.

So, echoing Game Warden: "So this isn't really about "using techniques", it's about good people versus sleazy ones." It's just as possible for a person to be an asshole full of lovely compliments & grand romantic gestures as it is for somebody to be a nice guy, but using questionable means to meet people. I'd suggest that it has more to do with what their longer-term intentions are, and whether they're being honest about them.

* suggested snark: "apart from being an asshole"
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:54 PM on January 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Negging??? PUA??? I learn something new everyday. My advice is to be yourself and don't be intimidated into anything. And when anyone says something insulting to you, just respond "you know, I really really liked you until you made those backhanded comments to me."
posted by wv kay in ga at 7:58 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


A couple of years ago, I called someone out on reading The Game, and it was deeply satisfying.

I've always gotten a lot of negging because I seem confident in social settings and guys who want to talk to me mistakenly think it's a way to make themselves stand out or to show they're not intimidated. While I loathe this, I rarely say anything, and if I've been insulted, I just say something dismissive and walk away until the guy figures out that he'll get much further by being genuine and kind.

However, once I had such an awful insult that I knew it could only come from a misguided attempt at reading that book. A guy came up to me at a bar and said, "I love your shirt!" And when I thanked him, he told me: "I just think it would look better one someone else, though. You don't really have the tits for it and makes you look pasty." When I stood silently and completely gobsmacked, he continued talking: "Where are you from? Do you live near here? I'm here with my cousin. Want a drink?" etc. It was so much harsher than usual negging that I finally interrupted and said, "HOLY SHIT. Did you just read The Game or something?" and he looked horrified and tried to curl up inside himself and said that yes, he had just read The Game. Then he slunk away.

So, sorry, jayder, but I owed that guy absolutely NOTHING, and anyone who tells me I should have been kinder to him must live in some make-believe world where all women are required to be lovely, sweet nurturers to all men and to show them the errors of their ways. Not my job.
posted by coffeeflavored at 9:02 PM on January 1, 2010 [25 favorites]


I liked the idea of simply saying "This shirt would look better on someone else? You mean, you think I'm ugly?" Just question them while giving them a disgusted look.
posted by xammerboy at 10:47 PM on January 1, 2010


At the risk of offending all the commenters in this thread, I find so many of the responses really misguided.

First of all, to broaden the scope of the discussion (and to illuminate the logs in our own eyes): Any manipulative tactic to reduce someone's comparative self-worth is "negging". A woman talking about her great education to a younger 'working class' man -- a man simulating interest in one woman to make another jealous. These are along the same vein, and neither merits the vitriol in the above responses.

1.
The line between manipulation and sharing is merely a question of sincerity. Is the above woman disclosing her genuine value of education (and so explaining why a relationship might not work out), or manipulating the man's confidence? Is the man genuinely interested in the first woman (and tough luck, other woman!) or using that interaction to make the other woman jealous? Does the guy really think your book is silly (and worth talking about) or just negging you? Genuine action deserves no condemnation.

Because you can never be sure about the motivations of anyone, responses that give a person a way to explain or apologize are the hallmark of politeness and good upbringing. This kind of approach minimizes wrongful accusation and endears you to others as someone who can be talked to without having to watch one's every word.

2.
But it's not the audacity that bothered me most about the responses, but the obsession with retributive justice. I can understand separating yourself from ugly behaviour; I can understand investing energy, out of a sense of fraternity, in helping others make behavioural transitions, just as we would like to be helped. But there is absolutely no justifiable reason to go out of your way to inflict a retributive emotional wound, like an eye for an eye.

Tell them [they're] losers to ... reform their behavior and make them feel bad.

Burst their bubbles before they [become] rapists... They've just insulted you - who gives a good goddamn about their feelings?

You don't reform anyone's behaviour by calling them a loser or ignoring their feelings. (It will just make them dismiss you and it sets a horrible example for their future interactions with others.) You alter their behaviour by making plain that its result is disparaging to you, and allowing the fundamental empathy to motivate their investigaton of its causes. A well-placed "why?" followed by your interest can work wonders. Patience is hard work, but effective. The impatient smack-down is driven by something else...

I called someone out on reading The Game, and it was deeply satisfying... [It's] not my job...to show them the errors of their ways.

What reason besides spiritual development could someone find satisfaction in dismissing another? It sounds like deriving gratification from retributive justice. Not only does that leave the called-out even more wretched, and so more desperate to be manipulative in his future interactions, but it leaves the caller-out delighting in the disparaging ("he slunk away"!) of others. There's no value in this delight -- it's the root of man's inhumanity to man.

No one owes random strangers at a bar a moment of his or her nobility. Either one should politely dismiss oneself from bad situations, or else fight bad behaviours rather than bad people, which means delighting not in the denigration of others, but only their spiritual advancement.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:50 PM on January 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


It sounds like deriving gratification from retributive justice. Not only does that leave the called-out even more wretched, and so more desperate to be manipulative in his future interactions, but it leaves the caller-out delighting in the disparaging ("he slunk away"!) of others. There's no value in this delight -- it's the root of man's inhumanity to man.

Well, then, call me petty, because after a guy insults my figure (Hey, have you heard? Sometimes women are sensitive and insecure about their looks!), I feel just fine about retaliating. In fact, you might say I "deriv[ed] gratification from retributive justice." You can try to shame me for being human and not an enlightened being like yourself (I suppose you always turn the other cheek when someone viciously insults you? Are you Jesus? Congratulations! We've been waiting for you!), but it won't really work. Also, how could someone find spiritual development in dismissing another? What are you talking about?
posted by coffeeflavored at 10:55 PM on January 1, 2010 [8 favorites]


Oh! And you called me a hypocrite in a religiony way that I didn't understand and had to Google because I am not as spiritual as you! Please teach me your ways. When someone tells me he doesn't like my tits or complexion, but would like to buy me a drink, how should I "politely" respond?
posted by coffeeflavored at 11:04 PM on January 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


When someone tells me he doesn't like my tits or complexion, but would like to buy me a drink, how should I "politely" respond?

Here's an example: "you know, I kinda liked you until you made those backhanded comments to me." And then stop talking to them.
posted by krilli at 12:06 AM on January 2, 2010


That would leave me open to more conversation because he would consider it salvageable.
posted by coffeeflavored at 12:17 AM on January 2, 2010


"Hang on, now that I think about it, those backhanded comments were the first things you said to me! Which means I never liked you!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:18 AM on January 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


"You know those 'pick up artist' techniques only work on stupid girls with psychological problems, right? Have fun with them, bye."
posted by Jacqueline at 2:06 AM on January 2, 2010


That would leave me open to more conversation because he would consider it salvageable.

OK - sorry - I was unclear. I meant saying explicitly that the conversation is over.

If he crosses that clear & explicit boundary, i.e. after the warning, then I'd totally understand it if he got a lashing.
posted by krilli at 4:01 AM on January 2, 2010


The fact that you suspect the lines are the result of the study of pickup artist methods should, actually, elevate the guy a little in one's estimation, in that it would be a clue that he is possibly not a real asshole, but is actually possibly a nice guy who just took a wrong turn.

(Unless the fact that the assholishness is an act is what offends you, and you might actually be interested in him is you knew that he were actually sincere in his assholishness.)
posted by jayder at 5:22 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no opinion on the PUA thing ... but I'm perplexed by all the outrage here. I think the fear that really lurks in your hearts is that 'negs' might actually work for some people. But really, who gives a crap? If you're a woman and negs don't work on you, be glad. If you're a guy with lofty principles who would never consider using 'negs,' be glad. But really, dumb people do dumb shit every day, and I just can't find it in myself to get mad about it. I mean, christ, we're talking people hooking up in bars. This isn't exactly humanity at it's most appealing.

Anyway, if a guy is trying to hit on you and failing miserably, who cares if he's doing something that he read in a book? Treat him like any other guy in that situation. If he has enough positive qualities to outweigh his lame tactics, just roll your eyes and change the subject. Otherwise, ditch him and move on.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:47 AM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, you shouldn't confuse playful teasing with 'negging.' I tease people all the time, and I think it's a normal part of friendship, conversation, and, yes, flirting.

From what I understand, it sounds like 'negging' is closer to being an actual insult, which, to me, means that they're just going too far. People have been making this (very common) social mistake since the dawn of time, long before the Internet and 'PUA'
posted by Afroblanco at 6:06 AM on January 2, 2010


I think part of what you're trying to communicate is your disappointment in their behavior. Say it: "I'm disappointed and insulted that you felt it necessary to use those techniques with me. You really screwed up."

And let that be your close. Don't engage any further with that person.
posted by jdfan at 10:50 AM on January 2, 2010


If he crosses that clear & explicit boundary, i.e. after the warning, then I'd totally understand it if he got a lashing.

You know, I would have thought that "don't make the first thing you say to someone upon meeting them an insult" was a pretty clear, if not explicit (do etiquette books still exist?) boundary.
posted by hades at 11:27 AM on January 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


The 2 example comments you mentioned remind me of how my friends and I talk to each other; we tease and rag on each other and generally take the piss out of each other all the time. Maybe some of these lads at PUA'ing and some are just messing about?

This is the 1st time I've heard of this PUA thing, and it seems immoral, but this does seem like how guys who like to pick up lots of girls operate and I've always and will always be surprised that so many women are so gullible to fall for these pseudo-alphamales.

If this was in a physical social context, my advise would be to avoid the lads who are chatting up the girls because they're nearly always DB's and all they want to do is get into your knickers and add you to their list of "conquests". In an online context, I'd think the thing to do is take Alison's advise and then ignore the feckers. And start going to Metafilter Meetups where you'll meet a much classier type of individual. ;)
posted by zaphod at 11:51 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the fear that really lurks in your hearts is that 'negs' might actually work for some people.

Wow, I just had a flashback.

Once upon a time, I was sharing a house with a guy who was a serious player. One evening, we went up the road for a quiet beer at a local pub. We were sitting & chatting at the bar, while some women were playing pool nearby.

As one of the girls bent over to take a shot, my housemate called out "Nice arse!"

I cringed & tried to shrink into my stool, but the woman turned & thanked him - a little uneasily - then played her shot and returned to her friends.

This woman happened to be on the biggish side - not obese, but easily a few sizes above average. The next time she was playing a shot, my companion called out: "I really mean it; that's a very nice arse you've got there. Don't ever let anybody tell you otherwise; you should be proud of it!"

Finding this whole exchange rather embarrassing, I left the bar not long after. That evening, the pair ended up having sex - apparently, involving a round or two in the laneways & parks on the way home.

At the time, I put it down to his background in advertising, thinking "Wow, how evil - it's like he picked the one physical feature that he could guess she'd most likely be self-conscious about, then flattered it whilst simultaneously suggesting that it was, in fact, a problem area & others wouldn't find it attractive..."

Now, I realise that he'd probably just read The Game.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:27 PM on January 2, 2010


I'm perplexed by all the outrage here. I think the fear that really lurks in your hearts is that 'negs' might actually work for some people.
Also, you shouldn't confuse playful teasing with 'negging.' I tease people all the time, and I think it's a normal part of friendship, conversation, and, yes, flirting.
Oh. You're one of those.

To address your first point: I don't have any fear in my heart. I think that this behavior, "negging", is fucking revolting and I'm disgusted by it. If any of my male friends engaged in it, I'd disown them. If anyone I knew engaged in it, I'd disown them. As far as I'm concerned, flatly insulting someone to their face is something that I encourage all women to take at face value and respond to appropriately, whether that's a verbal destruction or a kick in the balls. There is no hidden value here: some asshole just insulted you to your face. You are under no further obligation to be polite or even civil. Cut that fucker dead in the street, and spit on them as you walk off.

Now, your second point: I've known a lot of people who behave in the way you're describing. "Teasers". "Shit-stirrers". "Smartasses".

They're largely assholes, because for some reason they think that they can appropriate a social space reserved for my closest friends on maybe fifteen minutes' acquaintance. The reason that my friends can give me shit is because they are my friends. Many of them, I've risked my life with. Some of them are more or less literally blood brothers. They've earned the right to tease me.

Whereas your putative teaser, some guy who's a friend of a friend, or someone I just met at a meetup, or the boyfriend of a friend of mine, is talking shit to me for some reason I can't even fathom. It's more or less the same as someone walking up to me in the street and calling me out. They don't really know me. I don't really know them. And, yet, they think they can tease me about something. Or make a shithead comment about something I believe.

"Oh, I was just joking!", they say when I call them on it. And, then, when I ask them what the fuck they were thinking trying to make that particular joke at my expense, I get something like "don't be so uptight" or "I was just being a devil's advocate". Some sort of ass-covering. This may or may not be because I am a large, friendly guy most of the time, and for some reason people tend to feel like they can be insulting and I won't take it personally or otherwise react. Allow me to note that inside every "teddy bear" is a grizzly, and you never know where the threshold is.

Anyway, the reason that some people dislike it when strangers are sarcastic, "teasing" assholes isn't because subtle humor is beyond us. It's because that person is appropriating, with no justification, a privilege that we reserve for our oldest and best and most proven friends. And that's not only tone-deaf, it's an asshole thing to do.
posted by scrump at 2:05 PM on January 2, 2010 [19 favorites]


Anyway, the reason that some people dislike it when strangers are sarcastic, "teasing" assholes isn't because subtle humor is beyond us. It's because that person is appropriating, with no justification, a privilege that we reserve for our oldest and best and most proven friends.

Amen.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:24 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


At the risk of offending all the commenters in this thread, I find so many of the responses really misguided.

Blarbl furbl blarb long words flurb blurf warbl spiritual blarb zen master kung fu blort
Translated:
I am going to use the PUA tactic of negging on this whole discussion, employing my thesaurus and selections from The Prophet. Perhaps you will all sleep with me.
posted by scrump at 3:06 PM on January 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wow, I am surprised on how disturbing these recommendations are. Some of you are just as sinister as the pick-up artists in question. Just end the conversation with the guy, don't put him down, and don't tell him what to do. He'll figure it out eventually, and if he doesn't, well, it's his misery.
posted by bettershredder at 3:26 PM on January 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


He'll figure it out eventually, and if he doesn't, well, it's his misery.

And the misery of all the other women he's going to use that approach with. Not that you have any obligation to them, either, but wouldn't it have been nice if someone had trained him out of that kind of behavior before he got to you?
posted by hades at 3:43 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


*laughs*

Alright. So, here's how I explain the situation to people:

We are in the era of post-apocalyptic dating. It's as if a nuke has fallen, blown away our cities and strictures, and left us all zombies and mutants wandering a shattered wasteland.

Luckily, urban spelunking is kind of fun :)

Look. The PUA stuff is full of it, but it's still better than the traditional source of training materials, romantic comedies. At least the former bears some weird resemblance to reality, whereas the latter is utter fantasy. Girls, how much do you get into some hapless dude who pines after you constantly while failing repeatedly and hilariously? They have to stick Matthew McConaughey into that gulag to make hapless success even remotely credible. Romcoms are some universe where desperation does not stink. They're funny to laugh at, but learning romance from them is like learning hacking from Swordfish. The world just does not work that way.

The problem with most of the PUA stuff -- the real problem -- is that the focus is on the girl, not the man. The scripts, the missions, the attitudes, the taxonomies, they're all about someone else, and not about the man. Guys who succeed via PUA have this eternally surprised look on their face, not unlike George in Seinfeld who found "All I have to do is do the opposite of what I would normally do, and things end up great! WOW!" Except it's all phony, and girls are really, amazingly, wondrously good at picking that sort of falsehood out.

Which is why, incidentally, nobody on this thread is worried about calling out the legitimate article. There's a quiet assumption that of course the problem is not genuine confidence -- only, what's the best way to suitably crush the easily detected pretenders so that the offender and his creepy cohorts will find something else to do?

Yeah, it's pretty brutal. You'll never see that in a RomCom. People would leave the theater! But, here, in the real world, we're actually in a 100+ comment thread about the best way for a girl to inflict emotional damage in response to a played out meme. Rough but true.

So what's my advice to the OP?

If it's busy, just walk away. If you had no interest whatsoever, walk away.

But if it's not too busy, and the guy had some positive traits, sit them down, and talk to them. You know what you detected, when you realized the neg was just a trick?

You detected fear. You were someone scary, and he thought if he could take you down a notch, you wouldn't be so scary.

So now, you have an amazing opportunity. Look this guy in the eye, call him on his failure, and then impress upon him: A Man is not supposed to fear you! That doesn't mean he gets to disrespect you, or club you over the head, or whatever. But you are a person, not some grand angelic Keeper Of The Sex. Who are you, to make him scared? Who is he, to be so afraid? The creepiness is a fear response. Attack the fear, and you can attack the creepy.

And you know what? It's a better world when people aren't so weird and afraid. It's certainly better than the Wargames Policy ("The only winning move is not to play") and Hobbsean Dating ("Relationships are nasty, brutish, and short").
posted by effugas at 9:28 PM on January 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


So now, you have an amazing opportunity. Look this guy in the eye, call him on his failure, and then impress upon him: A Man is not supposed to fear you! That doesn't mean he gets to disrespect you, or club you over the head, or whatever. But you are a person, not some grand angelic Keeper Of The Sex. Who are you, to make him scared? Who is he, to be so afraid? The creepiness is a fear response. Attack the fear, and you can attack the creepy.

There's one problem with that approach.

Why is it ANY WOMAN'S responsibility to teach men like this that "we're not scary"? Why are you giving his parents, his peers, his sisters, his aunts, his uncles, his teachers, and all of THOSE people a pass and putting the onus on strange women to educate these guys about proper behavior?

Quite frankly, I don't have the TIME to take advantage of the "amazing opportunity" you've detailed. Not only that, I've spent too much time trying to squelch my own instincts because someone said women were supposed to be 'nice' -- and that 'niceness' kept me from calling harassers on their bullshit.

Now, hear me out - I'm NOT recommending that women respond to guys like this by pointing at them and shrieking 'UNCLEAN!!!" or anything like that. But I am calling YOU out on recommending that women do something other than standing up for themselves and commanding respect.

I am a person, yes. And so is he. And because we are both people, I am going to treat him LIKE a person who has disrespected ME as a person -- rather than a wayward soul in need of reform. My asserting myself should be fucking lesson enough.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:41 PM on January 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


we're actually in a 100+ comment thread about the best way for a girl to inflict emotional damage in response to a played out meme.

Examples of played-out memes:

+ ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US
+ Three Wolf Moon
+ Bacon
+ LOLcats
+ Hampster [sic] Dance

Not examples of played-out memes:

+ "Out of all the desperate women on here, you might be the cutest desperate woman."
+ "That book's pretty silly, it's a good thing you're cute."
+ "I love your shirt! I just think it would look better on someone else, though. You don't really have the tits for it and makes you look pasty."

But you are a person, not some grand angelic Keeper Of The Sex.

Try telling that to the guy following the playbook for a game whose goal is not "get to know people", but "fuck as many women as I can trick into letting me". Whether he would be afraid of approaching her as a person in another context is irrelevant in this context, in which she is not a person--she's a goal.
posted by hades at 10:49 PM on January 2, 2010


Why are you giving his parents, his peers, his sisters, his aunts, his uncles, his teachers, and all of THOSE people a pass and putting the onus on strange women to educate these guys about proper behavior?

Hazarding a guess here: because those people have probably never provided any meaningful input into how they should behave, and because they aren't a party to the guys' misguided romantic attempts, and therefore not in a position to correct them?

(which might be why perhaps as many guys possibly try to learn how to behave from these shitty books as girls try to learn from shitty magazines like cosmo & cleo; when it comes to romancing, i tend to think that most of us start out like bulls in a chinashop, flailing about in the dark without a secret chart to the heart of this, or any other matter)

My asserting myself should be fucking lesson enough.


Ironically, that means you are exactly doing the thing you claim isn't your role: "educat[ing] these guys about proper behavior" - using the same pedagogical framing of the issue.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:59 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


So now, you have an amazing opportunity. Look this guy in the eye, call him on his failure, and then impress upon him: A Man is not supposed to fear you!
On the planet I come from, this sentiment treads perilously close to blaming the victim.

It is no woman's obligation to reward male misbehavior by attempting to retrain the offender. The fault and responsibility lies with the offender. He can modify his behavior.

Now that I'm done being civil: it's mindblowingly offensive that anyone here, let alone a long-time MeFite, is actually indulging in this goddamned argument. I mean, Jesus Christ almighty on a pogo stick hopping naked through the woods with a barrel of monkeys on His head: some shitheel throws up a gendered insult to a woman based on an outright sexist, probably misogynistic "game" that exists solely to try to get the woman to have sex with him, and the answer is that the woman needs to re-educate this tool?

No. No. A thousand times no.

Adult men are not infants run by their Ids, to be coddled and gently shown the proper way several thousand times until it soaks in. They are adult men with agency and control over their social interactions, and they should at all times be held entirely responsible for their stupidities. They should also be held to account when they behave like morons. To do anything otherwise removes that obligation from them and basically excuses the behavior: it's morally and ethically equivalent to saying that the guy doesn't know any better.

Which is fundamentally horseshit.

No woman ever owes any man an explanation for her actions.
posted by scrump at 11:26 PM on January 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


Empress--

I said, if you're busy or have no interest, walk away. That implies time and interest.

Listen. You only get to live in the world you create. Expecting somebody else to do it for you -- well, how's that working out? Imagine a world with no sex ed. Hell, don't imagine. It exists in a lot of places, and you know what? Kids work out terribly and tragically wrong things. You hear about the things they think, and you're like, oh God, how did we let you get this misguided?

We don't just need Sex Ed. We need Love Ed. The absence of either is problematic, but we actually live in the Love Ed free world.

So there's a lot of wanderers out there, genuinely lost. Some have found a map. It's not the territory, but it's less of a lie than anyone wants to admit.

So, you can be brutal. You can shout from the hills about how you were disrespected, and how you get to assert yourself with a fucking lesson. Go. Do that. Be scary. Be part of the problem.

The problem, Empress, is fear. People fear what they do not understand. There just isn't much understanding to go around. The best way to command respect is to actually act in a respectable manner. I don't respect the guy who wins the bar fight. I respect the man who prevents it.

I don't think anyone wants to live in the PUA's world. But I know nobody lives in the RomCom world. So, what's the world you want to live in?
posted by effugas at 11:33 PM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


scrump--

Well, yeah. Guys are supposed to know what to do.

Guess what. They don't. "But they're supposed to" is nice. It's 2010, I'm supposed to have a jetpack. Where's my jetpack?

What do we do about this? I think we all agree that Negging and all that shit is creepy stuff that needs to go away. How do we make this go away? Temper tantrums? Saying nothing? Just laughing it off?

Criminal sanctions?

Listen. It feels good to bash these guys as evil. It makes you feel superior and ethical and truly enlightened. But I tell you, there are guys who just really don't know what they're supposed to do, and one day, they see this guide. And it mixes all the parts of being a Man they should have learned, but you know, didn't, with TOTALLY CREEPY STUFF. And it feels wrong, but, damn, they just get their butt kicked every time...is...is this what they're supposed to be doing?

I'm not saying this is how the world should work. But if there was no sex ed, you'd see some crazy awful ideas about how douching with Coca Cola will stop pregnancy (an actual real urban myth). There's no love ed, and thus in the land of the blind, the one eyed PUA dude is king.

So. I'm saying, if you're going to say anything at all, make reference to the piece that actually feels right (dude, Man up) and how it conflicts with the piece that, God, we really don't want to have to live with (uhhh, you're ugly, see? I'm...I'm not afraid of you...I'm cool now, right?).

Nobody has to do this. It doesn't take LONG. But in the long run, the idea that insulting a girl as a show of strength is actually a display of fear, is a) accurate b) emasculating and c) a positive force for *fear* being shown as what needs to be overcome. Also, for the women who hear these insults and *believe* them, it'd good for them to know where they're really coming from.

Fear sucks. Maybe it's a more nuanced position than you'd like. But it's what's going on.

Also: No woman ever owes any man an explanation for her actions.

Really? Because I owe men and women explanations for my actions all the time. Isn't that a little disrespectful of women?
posted by effugas at 12:02 AM on January 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


You know, when I saw this thread light up, I knew that eventually, someone would come along and try to argue that PUA scudbags deserve the benefit of the doubt and a woman's time and attention in order to treat them like misunderstood widdle bunnies. Also, I was 100% confident that once this thread ran long enough, eventually an answer would crop up which placed the onus on women to gently redirect these poor frightened fellows, an answer which would cast a backlash against this behavior as part of the problem and blame the victim. I saw that coming from a mile off - it was predictable as nightfall. What I didn't expect that the PUA conception of courtship would be contrasted with the romantic comedy film model as if these were the only two frameworks along which a man and woman might get to know each other. I'll admit that this was an innovation.

effugas, I'm sorry, but you're dead wrong. Your suggestion of a sympathetic sit-down is playing right into a PUA's hands. The whole idea is to use this suite of moves to monopolize a woman's time and attention. I agree with your assessment that these pricks are afraid of women - however, by the time they're pulling this PUA garbage and actually using fucking insults as a flirting mechanism, that fear has matured into resentment and suspicion and a dehumanizing will to manipulate. Do you honestly believe that a PUA is going to see a woman seizing the "opportunity" that you've identified as a chance to learn something important? I'd warrant it's far more likely they're going to take that big chunk of time and attention they're granted as validation of their behavior and as an indicator that their "target" has developed an interest in them. Why else spend so much time talking with them, right?

Furthermore, you're assuming that they would even listen - actually hearing what someone else has to say is a hell of a trick when you're trying to remember your next line or maneuver, especially when you're steeped in a mindset that does not view women as women but as obstacles to be defeated on their path to the vergina that the world fucking owes them. A PUA doesn't hear words, just more challenges and resistance to overcome. It absolutely is not the job of a woman unfortunate enough to find herself in such a boy's sights to administer a quick little Love Ed (seriously?) session to a maybe possibly potentially sorta redeemable PUA before she gets back to her evening.

OP: Let me be unequivocal. Men despise these boys. To give credence to PUA method is to display evidence that one is, for them moment, fundamentally too broken to be a worthwhile mate. Really now - what's an acceptable level of manipulation in a person? It is not your job to coddle PUAs and find the heart of gold under their dumbass Lestat jackets. You need not be gentle, you need not spend more than a sentence on your dismissal. I like the advice upthread where you tell them why their interaction with you is now coming to an end and then take your leave. Be polite, be rude, whatever the situation warrants, but don't think that you're responsible for their growth as human beings or whatever the hell.

Now, unfortunately, no matter how you react to these neg attempts is going to become a data point in their "field research" no matter how sweet or salty you are about it. Even walking away in silence will carry a kind of lesson. So while you can't help but give them some manner of lesson in your response, don't think for a second that it's on you to sit them down for some sort of seminar which is only going to earn you more time in their creepy company and leave you more subject to their manipulative advances.

Good luck out there.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:15 AM on January 3, 2010 [9 favorites]


hades--

"Are you negging me? You're the fourth guy this night" = totally played out meme. Memes aren't always cute. Sometimes they're toxic and creepy (see also, groping women on the Japanese subway, an even creepier and justifiably criminal meme).

Try telling that to the guy following the playbook for a game whose goal is not "get to know people", but "fuck as many women as I can trick into letting me".

Yeah, you know, guys only want sex, girls only want marriage, bla bla bla. Look, if you're a sad sack that sits at home, goes out every couple of months, and gets shot down, you're not only not having sex, you're also not getting to know anyone.

At least one person on this thread (spacefire) read some Double Your Dating and ended up marrying the girl. So, whether he was looking for a wife, he sure found one. Like I've said elsewhere, there's some good stuff in there (go, get out there, talk to people) mixed in with TEH CREEPY.
posted by effugas at 12:18 AM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


EatTheWeak--

Eponysterical name, incidentally.

The romantic comedy stuff feeds into the cluelessness. Guys -- not Men -- try all that stuff, and oh god do they fail miserably. So they end up asking the inevitable question, "What am I doing wrong?"

And they end up at this shit.

A lot of guys have gotten caught up in this. Obviously, they're not all "artists". Every field has some bell curve of skills. I argue there is a significant portion of the curve that, if it was actually told something akin to "Your behavior shows you are afraid, and fear is not the mark of a man", that they might think for a moment. I could be wrong. But as you point out, no matter what a woman does -- walk away, scream and shout, whatever -- there's going to be a lesson. The only choice to be had is what should the lesson be.

I do agree that some kind of seminar style response is ludicrous on its face. It's just wrong, that's not going to be a good idea. But the basic concept takes, what, a sentence to express? And it's basically a simple, rather positive expression: This is not how a Man behaves.
posted by effugas at 12:35 AM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, you know, guys only want sex, girls only want marriage, bla bla bla.

Well, we were talking about the seduction community, where I think your bla bla bla is explicitly presented as How The World Really Works. I guess we're talking about something else now. What are we talking about, again? Because I thought the original question was about how to respond to guys using pick-up artist techniques.

At least one person on this thread (spacefire) read some Double Your Dating and ended up marrying the girl.

And I used the "RomCom" technique of pining quietly in the background while occasionally reminding her that I existed (not so much with the hijinks and hilarious failure, I admit), and ended up marrying her. And yet you don't see me defending people who use what is, in the real world, creepy stalker behavior learned from romantic comedies.

But I tell you, there are guys who just really don't know what they're supposed to do, and one day, they see this guide. And it mixes all the parts of being a Man they should have learned, but you know, didn't, with TOTALLY CREEPY STUFF. And it feels wrong, but, damn, they just get their butt kicked every time...is...is this what they're supposed to be doing?

Well, then, a firm and unambiguous "no" sounds like just the thing for them. Which lesson would you rather have them learn? That negging gets you a gentle conversation about how your approach isn't working, or that negging gets you shot down worse than before? If the starting state is that you can't even have a conversation with a woman, hey, at least having a conversation about how much you suck is a step up. On preview, what EatTheWeak said.

(Also, I find your weird mid-sentence capitalization of "Man" and "Men" kind of creepy.)
posted by hades at 12:40 AM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The whole argument for "re-educating" this wayward souls just strikes me as ridiculous, not only for all the reasons already expressed above, but because in what fantasy world could this possibly be a successful tactic.

Just stop and think about what kind of man actively engages in any and all means to manipulate women into having sex with him. A man that will gladly engage in random acts of cruelty in an attempt to destroy a woman's self esteem to such a point that she will desperately turn to him for validation which he will give to her in exchange for sex. You really think this type of man will take kindly to his unwilling target turning his come on into an opportunity for his spiritual enlightenment? This guy has studied the art of insulting, humiliating and manipulating women, studied! This guy's actions are calculated, planned, with the desired result being to lower a women's self esteem so that she is more easily manipulated. You think this guy is gonna sit down with you for a heart to heart about the fears and emotions that caused him to choose this path? I realize I'm ranting, but there just seems to be a total disconnect with reality going on here.
posted by whoaali at 12:43 AM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, obviously a "sit down and have a little seminar" concept is just bad advice. Mea culpa on that. I was originally thinking, listen, if you're really interested in the guy, and you just want this aspect to go away, this isn't a bad way to set the ground rules such that it disappears. But, of course, you don't know how creepy a guy you're dealing with. If you still have interest, maybe you shoudn't.

What I don't think is that everybody who's ever fallen for this stuff is a monster. Some are, you're right, whoaali. But when the pre-eminent guide in secular culture to "How To Be A Man" is "The Game" or "Double Your Dating", something has happened.

I know you want them to be bad guys. I know you want them to be little mustache twirlers. But what's going on is more complicated, if by sheer virtue of the numbers involved. It's tragic, and perhaps a more nuanced reply before walking off isn't the worst thing that could happen in the world.
posted by effugas at 12:58 AM on January 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, we were talking about the seduction community

That's where I think people are talking at cross-purposes here:

- effugas seems to be talking about somewhat deluded guys with (probably) good intentions who don't know any better & turn to these guides as some kind of light in the darkness about how to go about meeting people;

whereas

- others, on the whole, seem to be talking about (largely bogeystrawman?) guys who are serial predatory manipulators (a response partially framed by the whole 'pick up artist' label, which is, in itself, a marketing schtick more than anything else, no? - although these kinds of guys do certainly exist, if only as exceptions).

i'd tend to believe that the majority of guys using pua techniques fall into the deluded, geeky bucket, whereas the more indignant "i have no responsibility for re-educating this worm!" responses are aimed at the latter kinds of guys, which is fair enough.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:17 AM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I don't think is that everybody who's ever fallen for this stuff is a monster.

Fair enough, and by Odin do I hope you're right. My concern is that the books you've listed and the toxic culture which they arose arose from is the kind of thing that makes them monsters eventually. And a guy in such a desperate state is a guy who is prone to clinging to anything that even resembles success and seeing it as another breadcrumb they ought to follow further down this twisted path. The reason I'm okay with a rude response to their behavior because in my perfect world, not only do these methods never succeed, they also fail spectacularly. I'm talking about 100% unnuanced negative reinforcement.

I may as well admit that there was a phase in my life which was lonely and desperate enough that I considered turning to advice rather like the kind which encourages one to "neg" and do all this other mess. I can't recall the name of the book today, thankfully (it wasn't one of the *ahem* classics of the genre that have been cited in this thread, though) - I can remember many moments while reading it where the assurances in the book failed to gel with how I game the advice out in my head. I could see how the advice was sort of consistent to its own interior logic, but a lot of it was stuff I just wasn't comfortable with. I didn't like being lonely, but I didn't like the idea of going all softcore date-rapey either. Eventually, I abandoned the book before completing it and sold it back to the book store (got enough back to buy my comics for the week!)

And I'm not at all sharing this story to set myself up as any kind of paragon or anything like that, but merely to demonstrate that every one of these PUA types at some point has had a choice between continuing to search and observe and learn about courtship in the proper manner or to submit to the creeptacular fantasy that is "The Game" - at some point they had a decision to make - "shall I be a skeev or shant I?" - and if they've advanced far enough into these modes of thought that they're actually insulting people in real life as if that's going to get them anywhere, then something has gone gravely wrong in their development. They might not be full-blown creeps, but you bet your ass they got a little creep in'em if this behavior seems reasonable to them. No, not the whole of them are mustache twirlers, but if they're out there negging, then the mustache is growing in pretty damned quick alright.

Tragic, no doubt, but I've far more sympathy here for the "prey" than the "hunter," no matter what a sad sack the would-be PUA is underneath. I see you've dropped the sit-down idea, so I think we're mostly in agreement here. If the OP wants no part of the fellow, she should excuse herself immediately - you and I might have a different idea of what the ideal explanation might sound like, but the end result is the same.

I think where we part company is concerning what the OP ought to do if she feels she still has a sliver of interest after spotting the "neg." Am I correct in saying that you think it might be worth her time to talk with him a little longer, not in terms of re-education, but standard conversation? Or were you just clarifying your prior answers in that last comment? Because I still think I come down as saying, "Get thee behind me, Mystery!" no matter where the PUA is on the creep spectrum. To me, a little bit of that kind of creepy is like a little bit of anthrax - I'd really rather not a speck of it got blown around in polite company.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:50 AM on January 3, 2010


EatTheWeak--

One of the points I've made is that the books are a mix of genuinely important stuff that guys aren't being taught, and super creepy stuff. It's the former that actually grabs guys, because you know, we were built to learn it. And then the latter seems to make so much sense.

There's actually more to the PUA stuff than "insult the girl". You mentioned date-rapey stuff. Actually, one of the strong pieces of advice in there was "If a girl tells you no, STOP. Stop EVERYTHING. Shut down, turn on the lights, make some food, put on some music, maybe even leave, but STOP. You can try again in a while, or you can leave on better terms, but STOP STOP STOP."

Frankly, that's pretty damn good advice, much better than, say, getting all confused and/or begging, getting a sexual activity contract signed, or that whole source of date-rape, "no means yes".

In fact, probably the strongest message underlying these things is: "There's plenty of fish in the sea." This advice is not bad. Hell, it's the heart of DTMFA (Dump the M*****F***** Already), sort of the default response on every "So my relationship is in trouble" thread. A lot of guys get into these horribly weird modes, where they do nothing but work until they find this really cool girl, and then suddenly want to know how to be really cool themselves. Now they're afraid, because oh no, what if they lose this girl, they'll be alone forever?

The RomCom thing, much more the default than I think most people realize, tells them they have a chance. And they do. A very small one. But generally, things evaporate, the movie goes off script, people are crushed.

There are other aspects that are positive. There are also other aspects that are really negative -- particularly, the militarization of romance. What more do you need to understand that these systems are trying to make men of boys, than to see them create entire taxonomies in which bars are battlefields, and gatherings of girls are bunkers to be invaded? But even in this negative, the core of what's going on comes out: It's all about the management of fear. By applying a label to a group of three girls, or another guy, or whatever, it becomes understood, it becomes less scary.

Fear is the problem. Fear is the underlying context. This is why I'm fairly constantly hammering on the whole thing -- if you insult a girl, you're expressing fear, which is not the behavior of a man.

The problem, ultimately, is that "100% Negative Reinforcement" only plays into the fear. It encourages the perception that, yes, women are scary creatures, and you need these systems to gird you against them. In trying to alter behavior, you end up encouraging it, or worse, ending participation entirely. For every one guy who reads these systems and says "Oh, so that's what I'm supposed to do", there are more than a few who say, "If that's what I'm supposed to do, forget it, I have no interest in playing."

It's tragic all around, but you can see how this all came about. By going directly to the end result -- aping the actions of fearlessness -- the actual need to not be afraid of women got lost. The former is easy to sell someone on. The latter is what's actually necessary (and not just of women).

Regarding your question about whether the OP should talk a little longer, I don't really take a position in this. I do think an otherwise normal or interesting guy might inappropriately use some of this stuff, thinking it's expected of him. Spacefire got married to a girl after doing this, after all, and the girl basically decided to ignore it while exploring the more positive aspects of his personality. I don't really think it's fair to pass judgement on her for tolerating the stuff -- remember the slut shaming earlier in this thread?

Anyway, it's really easy to bring out the pitchforks. I'm pretty sure they issue them with DSL modems these days :) But the reality is, as usual, rather more complicated.
posted by effugas at 8:05 AM on January 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


[this is really getting pretty far afield - if you're not answering the OPs question, please take this to MeTa or email, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:32 AM on January 3, 2010


I know you want them to be little mustache twirlers.

Well, to be fair, they are demonstrating that they're ok with becoming little moustache twirlers, if it works sometimes.

perhaps a more nuanced reply before walking off isn't the worst thing that could happen in the world.

That's why I believe the OP absolutely should say that she doesn't appreciate being insulted and finds PUA tactics disgusting. That only takes a sentence to say, and might or might not correct the behavior (but who cares, as long as he leaves her alone.) Saying nothing lets the (scumbag | poor misled loser) rationalize that the problem was something else other than the approach - she's not in the mood tonight, she's got a boyfriend, prefers guys without handlebar moustaches, whatever.
posted by ctmf at 10:36 AM on January 3, 2010


PROD_TPSL's comment rings very true to me. Just sayin'
posted by omegar at 11:56 AM on January 3, 2010


I'm in the "call him out on it" crowd. You need to gauge his reaction.

People who do this pickup scam tend to be fairly insecure themselves. When you reveal a magician's tricks, so to speak, their true personality really shines.
(1) If they own up to it, then that tells you something; (2) if they go into denial, that's bad, because they lie; and (3) if they just get pissed, then they're a true loser.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:55 PM on January 3, 2010


One last thing I really need to point out is that walking away often doesn't work, which is I'm not sure why so many people are suggesting it. I'm sure many women here have had the experience of being followed around a bar by the same idiot(s) the ENTIRE night. When a man is dim enough and aggressive enough to use negging as a pick-up technique, he's certainly not smart enough to realize that persistence won't work, either. (See? Negging and RomCom behavior aren't mutually exclusive!) As many others have pointed out, negging is an old-as-time technique that predates The Game and is instinctive to many men, so it's difficult to tell whether the guy using it is actually an aspiring PUA or already a sleaze, so not all of the men who do this have read the other-fish-in-the-sea/stop-if-she-says-so chapter, or maybe the ones who do ignore it because they're so determined to "win" over a certain woman. Maybe that's why a lot of women are responding to this thread with such vehemence and advocate responses that seem harsh. Sometimes they're the only defense we have.
posted by coffeeflavored at 7:46 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are outright insults, and then there are teases. Your own context will tell you which is which, but from what I've read here it seems like "negs" is a term that happily covers both. A one size fits all nuclear response seems to me to be exactly the kind of sociopathic formula for failed interactions with other human beings that the proponents are decrying.
posted by vbfg at 8:43 AM on January 5, 2010


I'm pretty sure the people objecting to being insulted by total strangers aren't the sociopaths in this scenario.
posted by scody at 10:08 AM on January 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


True story: I was just, a few minutes ago, walking when I saw a little girl, maybe six years old, push her little brother over. He fell badly and started bawling. Their mother scolded the girl evenly, but she retorted "HE STARTED IT." The woman, exasperated, arms occupied with bags of groceries, snapped back "but you continued it." I could tell she'd been at it all day. The boy's shins were bleeding now and he was already reaching for his sister's pony tail. The mother, incredibly patient, flashed my gawking eyes a weak smile. What was she thinking? "They'll grow up eventually"? I half-smiled back, a little bit awed by her grace.

I think you should try to be more like the mother than her son or daughter.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:06 PM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the people objecting to being insulted by total strangers aren't the sociopaths in this scenario.

So am I. But I'm pretty sure that anybody who regards any statement that isn't neutral or complimentary as an insult irrespective of context, and then suggests an over the top reaction is. Hence the appeal to that all important context.
posted by vbfg at 8:57 AM on January 6, 2010


Not sure what I can add at this late date and to such a long discussion (which I didn't fully read), but let's just say this: I used to be so clueless when guys would use these lines that I would treat them like real statements. "Oh, you think I'm desperate? Why is that?" It didn't have a good effect. They just looked at me like I was crazy and backed away. So I suggest the more compassionate and friendly approach: "That sounds like a pick-up line! I'm not really into those. Can we just talk like regular people?"
posted by alternateuniverse at 7:48 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


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