The Single Most Damaging Thing I Learned As A Pickup Artist

Published Mar 30, 22
6 min read

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Mou said he had not tried to manipulate his girlfriend psychologically and did not know what mind control was. Some of the companies and websites geared toward men and dating provide common-sense lessons. They advise dressing nicely, holding doors for women and being considerate in relationships. But the more nefarious teach men to manipulate women for their own sexual needs.

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When coronavirus started to spread last spring, there was sufficient bravado in Reddit's Seduction forum—a popular gateway to "pick-up artistry"—that the moderators felt the need to intervene."This is not the time to cold approach large numbers of women in rapid fashion," they chided in a public safety announcement. "...Stop treating this situation as if it's just some normal obstacle."Over the past year, posts in r/Seduction have bemoaned the chilling effect of face masks, plexiglass barriers, and a deadly virus on their "daygame": The pickup artist (PUA) term for meeting women in public.

As restrictions in the U.S. and U.K. start to lift, "field reports" are on the rise and members are swapping notes on their experience with the "COVID cold approach". One Redditor writing recently under the topic "How to approach a girl while wearing mask?" expressed his unease: "Have you done it? It just feels weird."In a separate discussion, another had formed a solution to the mask problem: "It's definitely more challenging not being able to see each other's faces.

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"I think a lot of guys just end up making stuff up."But The Game's value was precisely in presenting a script that could be followed. "It gave a blueprint of 'here's how you talk to a girl'; it took all the guesswork out of it," says André Sampson, a 27-year-old IT consultant and content creator.

All three had their international travel restricted following public outrage, while online platforms such as Amazon and You, Tube have cracked down on their content. Today people rarely identify as PUAs, says Jane Ward, professor of gender and sexuality studies at University of California Riverside: "They have rebranded."Strauss has distanced himself from the community, detailing his subsequent mental health struggles and eventual retreat into monogamous bliss in his 2015 book The Truth.

Ross Jeffries, often credited as founding PUA in the late 80s, replied with one word: "Pass." Pickup artists are still operating despite the #Me, Too movement against harassment of women and the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to tight rules around social interactions to stop the spread of infection. i, Stock Speaking over Zoom, Elise is at pains to stress that he is not a spokesperson for The Game, or even a PUA (though he proudly identifies as such in the chapter he contributed, in which he and Strauss chat up a woman at an art gallery).

But I've never been part of that."He distinguishes his Los Angeles-based coaching company, Charisma Arts, as teaching conversation skills and "how to date out of your league."Elise later expands in an email that #Me, Too has been not only good for society but good for business, with it "being very much aligned with my ideas around consent and not using gimmicks or pressure...

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It is hard to shake the sense that contemporary "dating coaches" have disavowed The Game not for the misogyny of its intent, but the crudeness of its approach."Hiding behind a bunch of lines and routines, that's not what we want," says Matt Artisan, whose "honest dating advice" as The Attractive Man on You, Tube has 865,000 subscribers.

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Now, Artisan, 39, and his global team of trainers stage "natural attraction bootcamps" such as the one he is about to do in Miami: A three-day live workshop and 90 days' mentoring for $7,500. Rather than gimmicks and "instant gratification," he says he helps men overcome internal blocks such as shame and self-doubt for lasting success: "There's always a confident man underneath," Artisan says.

crimes against women will go down" repeats the one Strauss made in The Game 15 years earlier. For the most part #Me, Too presented "a useful marketing opportunity" for the seduction industry, says O'Neill, allowing trainers to emphasize its supposedly detrimental impact on men, then "present themselves as having the solution".

The idea of approaching women in person has really diminished."The dominance of online dating does further complicate the question of how we might define a modern-day PUA. "Someone that swipes right on 20 people and gets 20 matches—would you call them a pick-up artist? That idea doesn't exist anymore," says Sampson.

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Sampson finds dating apps frustrating for the superficiality of the connection: "It takes nothing to meet someone online, so you don't mean that much to them."He has more than 515,000 followers on Tik, Tok for his videos teaching gender-neutral "confident, charismatic communication," the majority of them female; many tell him they wish they felt able to talk to strangers.

Both women and men feel let down and disillusioned by their relationship experiences, and "are willing to pay thousands of dollars to see if they can get straight culture to make good on that promise," she says. It is striking that dating advice for women and seduction bootcamps for men both promise the skills to find real connection—while describing a fraught or mysterious process of "bringing together two kinds of people" seemingly from different planets.

As much as it is possible to feel empathy for those often vulnerable men who take up its practices and promises, she believes it is beyond useful reform: "Rather I think we as a society need to take a step back and ask why so many men feel this is something they need in the first place."But after a year of few chances for connection, it seems that demand might be higher than ever.

One client has booked in two weeks of intensive, one-on-one tuition for next month, Cassell says: "A lot of people are just itching to get out there."This article was updated to clarify the location of Wayne Elise's business..

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Examples include: Negging, or "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen". The idea is to make hostile or negative comments to undermine her self-esteem, thereby making her more likely to settle for a less appealing partner or become desperate for affection. Kino Escalation. The "seducer" attempts to subtly move into the "target's" intimate personal space, thereby "escalating" from casual conversation to light touching to intimate touching to sexual contact without being noticed, thereby avoiding "token resistance".

Supposedly, women care only about themselves, so saying her name over and over will "prime" her to think that the interaction is all about her and create a false sense of closeness, which will make her feel like the situation is more intimate than it really is. It should be self-evident why these behaviors are deeply problematic.

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