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The Game: Does the pickup artist's playbook still work?

Are you a practicing
Are you a practicing "pick-up artist"? Ever heard the lines of one?
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Have you ever tried an opener on an HB 10? Did you end up negging your way to a kiss close? Do you have any idea what these terms mean?

If not, than you may be completely unaware of an entire community of codes, strategies and systems for men to connect with women.

Pickup artists (PUAs), as they refer to themselves, attempt to give men a means to successfully hit on women at bars, clubs, on college campuses or in basically any other social setting. Some men, especially those who started with very low confidence, sing the praises of this technique as it legitimately allowed them to feel comfortable enough to start talking to women.

One of these men is Neil Strauss, author the “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.” Strauss got his start as a journalist for the Rolling Stone, and then was asked to explore the secret community of pick up artists. Now he has literally written the book on the techniques of the pick up artist.

But seven years after publication are these strategies still as effective as they were?

“The answer is in the big picture people don’t really change, human nature is always the same… a lot of people are more aware of it, but the thing is if it doesn’t really change what you do, and even if somebody calls you out and recognizes what you’re doing, guess what you are now having a conversation,” said Strauss on AirTalk.

As far as the kind of men that are a part of this seduction community, Strauss acknowledges that some of them are the “cheesy players,” however he also says that about 40 percent of the community is just guys who aren’t lucky in love, another 20 percent is guys who have had their self-esteem shattered from a bad relationship, some guys who have gone through college watching other guys have fun, and some really good-looking guys who just don’t see what other people see.

For the most part they are, “the nice guys who have just found that being nice doesn’t get them anywhere,” said Strauss.

Gayle Laakmann McDowell , author of “Cracking the Coding Interview” and “The Google Résumé,” agrees with Strauss’ analysis, saying that for the most part these are guys who are, “just lonely and want a girlfriend.”

McDowell can also address how women feel in these situations, as she acted as a test dummy for some classes. She thinks that one of the issues with these techniques is how men believe they can break a women’s response down to a formula.

“One of the big problems is some of the pick up artists will get formulaic and wont be able to break out of it and realize what women are doing and saying is really just what they are doing or saying… it’s not necessarily this game or this test,” she said.

Another problem she finds is with some of the instructional forums in being a pick-up artist. As she and Strauss agreed, most men are just lonely and looking for a chance to meet somebody worthwhile. However, “In the instruction of the forums, a lot is very focused around getting the hottest girl possible for a one-night stand,” she said. “Most guys are not looking for that. There is a mismatch between what guys are looking for and what guys are getting”

Did McDowell find these techniques effective? Or as many people feel, would men be better off just being courteous and kind?

“The guys I know who are the most successful with women are the ones who actually are very social friendly, nice, good people, but that doesn’t mean that they are weak,” she said.

So how does a good pickup artist define the line? And how is the best way to handle their advances as a woman? Have you ever picked someone up or been picked up on? Let us know how it went. (Of course, you don’t have to tell us everything.)


Neil Strauss, author of “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists”

Gayle Laakmann McDowell , author of “Cracking the Coding Interview” and “The Google Résumé,” wrote a detailed answer to a Quora website contributor’s question “Why Are Women So Negative About the ‘Pickup Artist’ Community?” and volunteered as a “female test dummy” for some pickup artist classes