Picking Apart the Pick-Up Artist

by eHarmony Staff

Picking Apart the Pick-Up Artist

You may be familiar with the "Pick-Up Artist" phenomenon sweeping the nation. It’s everywhere lately – the bookshelves, talk shows and reality TV. Once merely a secret society that flitted about the hazy glow of dance clubs, the self-professed pick-up artists, with monikers like "Mystery," "Style" and "Matador," have in recent years gone above ground, leading expensive lectures and writing best-sellers about how to effortlessly meet, date and bed beautiful women.

And we’re paying attention-not just because the subject matter is racy, but because at least some of these techniques seem to actually work. That lead us to consider: can the pick-up artists really help the average Joe who wants to get a date? Are the relationship skills that someone named "Matador" preaches even healthy and desirable to learn?

We’ve actually found that the introductory lessons in most pick-up artist arsenals can be very useful and surprisingly wholesome. But any man who wants to find lasting relationship success would be wise to stick to these basics, and to avoid the "seduction culture" advice that precludes real commitment and long-term love. Here are some basic dating do’s and don’ts to glean from these self-anointed lotharios.

How to Act

DO dress for success.
Perhaps the most broad and applicable suggestion bandied about by all the pick-up artists is to dress well. Everyday, women flock to various clothing stores, make-up aisles and hair salons to beautify themselves for their own edification, for the appreciation of their fellow women, and to attract men-and they certainly appreciate a man who returns the favor by presenting themselves well in public. It shows that the man is making an effort. It conveys that he’s got self-confidence and pride. And it separates him from all the immature boy-men who still dress like they’re hanging out near the keg at a college party. Most of the pick-up artists even suggest dressing like a "peacock," wearing an item of clothing that will make you stand out. Even if it’s just a nice pair of glasses, some tighter pants, or a shirt with a crisp collar, adding a bit of flair to one’s outfit can never hurt one’s chances with meeting someone special.

DON’T pretend to be someone you’re not. One thing the pick-up artists command of their disciples, which should be avoided at all cost, is creating an "avatar" of one’s self. Do you ever chat with your friends online, and notice that their caricature or avatar in the chat box is thinner, hipper, and more well-groomed than they themselves have ever been? The pick-up artists take this one step further, encouraging guys to adopt a real-world character that’s smooth, honed and based on a lot of made-up stories ("gambits" in some pick-up artist lexicons) told to impress the ladies. Ultimately, we suppose this is not much different than the decades-old suggestion from marketing/business books, of "branding" oneself to create an image of success that people can buy into. And there’s little doubt that if done correctly, a well-crafted public-facing persona can be just as successful in getting a phone number from a woman as in landing a lucrative freelance gig.

However, a relationship, or even dating someone interesting, is not a business transaction. It’s a process whereby two people get to know each other and enjoy being themselves together. Sure, it’s good to smile, talk yourself up and be confident when dating. But if you’re suppressing your real love for old jazz and French spy movies, and instead lie about yourself to boost your perceived value, then the woman you’re wooing is falling for the façade only. At what point will she realize she’s been duped and commence to dump you? And at what point will it get tiresome to impress someone with lies, when you’re just dying to talk about Monty Python or J.R.R. Tolkien? Playing a role when meeting women is a real roadblock to true relationship success.

Where to Go

DO go where women are.
One thing many men do to sabotage their dating success is not putting enough effort into meeting new people. Once again, the pick-up artists offer some simple, great advice here: before we can meet any women, we have to go where the women are. Staying home and not taking action, and assuming a date will just magically fall in your lap is not a strategy for success. Furthermore, pick-up artists would generally suggest going out a couple times a week or more to places where desirable women will be so that you dial down the nervousness of being in those places and around women. If we feel comfortable and relaxed in our environments, then women will see us as being affable, confident, in our element, not awkwardly looking in on a crowd we don’t know. And that’s pretty good advice for the healthy would-be dater.

DON’T stick to nightclubs.
However, one thing lacking in most pick-up artist scenarios is an open mind about where the women can be found, and that’s why we recommend that you do not stick to bars and typical "pick-up" joints. In their books, lectures and TV appearances, the pick-up artists almost exclusively equate "dating field" with "night club." But look around at the happy couples in your own life-many of them probably met while in a college organization together, or through friends at a birthday party, or online at eHarmony! There are several places more interesting (and pleasant to the ears) to meet women than at a bar. We’re not saying that you can’t meet women at night clubs, just don’t restrict yourself to late-night booze halls when trying to find single women. There are lots of fish in the sea, but also lots of seas to fish in.

Who to Meet

DO have high standards.
Most pick-up artists not only tell you to visit the bar, they also tell you to raise the bar, and not to sell yourself short when approaching women. We completely agree with this, in its broadest sense. While it’s good to be open minded, selecting the best, most compatible person to date is the best way to ensure relationship success. Some guys have been out of the dating loop for so long, perhaps their whole lives, that they have a limited view of what they deserve. And we commend any philosophy that encourages men to seek out someone great. If you want to be happy, you should never settle for someone who is not best suited to you.

DON’T let physical beauty be your standard. If you want to have a great relationship, don’t buy into the superficial theory that the most "desirable" women are the most "physically attractive." Most pick-up artists lay out a quasi-anthropological theory about attraction, that our dating impulses stem from 40,000 year old factors, and that the "desirable" woman is attractive, whereas the "undesirable woman" is not lovable simple because she’s not as attractive.

Now, most men are attracted to physical beauty, and of course this is a strong factor in whether we like someone and have chemistry. But the pick-up artists leave out virtually all other traits that you might find fantastic in a woman. What about whether she can be funny? What about the Vonnegut books she’s read that you two can talk about, or that Cheap Trick box set she might buy you one day for your birthday? Would you give all that up because the girl next to her at the bar has a smaller nose? So attraction might be an okay criterion for passing on genes in the stone-age, but it isn’t the only thing to consider in the today’s world.

In the end, the pick-up artist techniques so popular in the media are interesting because yes, they can be applied by most guys, and yes, on a certain level, they can deliver results. But while pick-up artist culture can help us put our game face on, it’s important to keep in mind the endgame. Most of us want to find someone who has depth, who can fulfill us, and we don’t want to lose our sense of self or tell lies in the process. Remember, winning doesn’t end at nabbing a phone number-it ends when we find the happiness and warmth of a great relationship based on honesty and true compatibility. And that’s one lesson the pick-up artists still need to learn.

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