Not Negging, But...
December 27, 2013 2:17 PM   Subscribe

I was approached at a bar by a man who tried a very unusual line on me--one that I've heard before. Is this a common tactic in his world?

I was stopped by a man on my way out of the bar last night. He skidded around me and said, "Excuse me, this is a weird question but are you into horses?" When I replied in the negative, he went on, "Because it's OK if you are. I knew a girl when I was younger and she was obsessed with horses. She drew them, she wore sweaters with them, that's all she talked about. She looked exactly like you and I used to make fun of her all the time. So I understand if you're too embarrassed to admit that was you, but if it was, I just want to apologize for the way I treated you then."

Under different circumstances (stranger making strange conversation) I might have responded truthfully--no, that certainly wasn't me, and you are mistaken. Sorry. But I realized about halfway through his spiel that I was fed almost the exact same story when I was in college. Walking through campus one day, a man stopped me and started babbling on about how I looked just like a girl he used to tease in grade school for some forgotten reason, and he was so sorry about that, and no I'm pretty sure you're her, it's ok that you don't want to admit it. It was so eerily similar that I briefly wondered if it was in fact the same person pulling the same move on me, but I got to speculating instead that this is some common PUA trick. When I figured out what was going on I exited the situation (walked around him and kept going) but he followed me and my friend outside. He was joined by another guy, both trying to talk to us still. I loudly told them not to follow us, which did work, but ugh.

I wouldn't be surprised if the tactic was a PUA cliche (present female with made-up history, belittle her for imagined hobby or trait, magnanimously beg forgiveness and seek "reacquaintance"), but the fact that the stories were almost identical made me wonder if there was a source for it. I was unable to unearth anything from Googling. Also, related? Before he approached me we were stopped by some other guy who asked us if we knew where they were handing out free cotton candy (we were in a hotel with several different bars attached). I figured this was some dumb conversational in so I ignored him, but my friend engaged and gamely replied that she didn't know ("Oh, that's too bad. Hey where are you guys headed?"). When Horse Guy came outside with us Cotton Candy Guy came up to him and said, "I see you've met my friend") so I wouldn't be surprised if we were caught in some game of theirs, but I am also curious if there was something to that other tactic. Are these "classic" pickup examples? Normally I would chalk these up to some unpleasant encounters but I was so surprised by the coincidence of the Horse Guy that I wanted to find out more. Oh and don't be fooled, I was thoroughly unsettled and nervous about having to verbally defend myself against these guys.
posted by therewolf to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
I think the whole idea is to "instill mystery" in our heads or something. Some guy did something much briefer and equally as weird to me once - it was at a singles' mixer, and he was making his way back to his table from the bar, and spontaneously grabbed my hand and offered to read my palm. I agreed, just to see where he was going with this. He just said "hmmmm. Interesting. It says you like to be kissed." And then he dropped my hand and walked away.

I went back to my own table too, and told the friend I'd come with about what happened - and my friend guessed that the idea was that I was supposed to have gotten intrigued enough by how weird it was that I'd follow him to continue the conversation. So maybe it's just weird randomness that is supposed to make you wonder what the hell is up with that, which will then make you pursue further conversation with him.

Except for the guy who followed you - but maybe that was just a guy who was really screwing up the approach.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:34 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I posted this on twitter, and got this link back. So it's definitely some of that PUA bullshit, possibly hard to find in google because they apparently go to camps for this stuff (whaaaaaaat).
posted by kavasa at 2:42 PM on December 27, 2013 [34 favorites]

This fits the logic of that "community" very well: 1) assert pre-existing connection with the target, forcing some response; 2) assert past social dominance over the target (i.e. bullying); 3) frame oneself as the "bad boy gone good," who knows all about empathy and feelings (but is still maintaining social dominance, i.e. "I'm giving you, a socially less dominant person, the gift of an apology").

I've gotten the sense that men are figuring out that the gig is up with negging as a surprise attack (especially after the TV series, for chrissakes). It makes sense to try to work those same dynamics in less transparent ways.
posted by blue suede stockings at 2:44 PM on December 27, 2013 [14 favorites]

Best answer: Here's a PDF from "Pickuplabs" with your exact story, so this seems to be a definite thing. Ick.
posted by bluecore at 2:48 PM on December 27, 2013 [45 favorites]

I asked my husband to Google this for me lest I get ragey. He found this and this (reg poss req). I want a shower now. Ugh.
posted by _Mona_ at 2:59 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Former bully turned heartwarming apologist is classic. Even before PUA shit existed.
posted by French Fry at 3:17 PM on December 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

He wasn't negging you, he was negging in the script.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:31 PM on December 27, 2013

Response by poster: DUDE. GROSS.
posted by therewolf at 4:57 PM on December 27, 2013 [81 favorites]

Best answer: The cotton candy thing is indeed also a PUA thing, it seems: behold. Yay! Barf!
posted by redfoxtail at 6:21 PM on December 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

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