Woman rejecting a geek boy in a blind date

Pick-up artists, or ‘PUAs’ if you’re more familiar with them, are self-proclaimed gurus who claim to help men achieve more success when approaching women.

As a woman who has read a great deal about PUAs over the years, and met a large number of them, I’ve developed my own opinions on how successful this art really is. I’m also lucky enough to get the inside track on what a lot of other women really think about the tactics PUAs teach.

From wearing stupid clothes to making strange personal remarks and hitting on our best friends, we’ve all seen PUAs in action, even if we didn’t realise it at the time. At their best, they’re the life and soul of the party, and at their worst they’re the creeps who ruin our evenings.

So let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of pick-up artistry, from a woman’s perspective.

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Does PUA really work?

The answer is ‘yes… and no’.

At its core, pick-up is a way of being an engaging and fun conversationalist – the kind of guy who makes a woman’s life a little more fun for a while. This is almost always going to have a higher success rate when it comes to meeting and hooking up with women than appearing boring, nervous or desperate.

The things that pick-up presents as tricks are really just ways to overcome fear and shyness, make a good impression, and get some great flirting going.

It’s a way of teaching men how to entertain women, to give women something they want, and to hopefully get something back in return because, NEWSFLASH, women like to be entertained too.

Everything that pick-up teaches men to do to get laid is done to entertain and interest us – so both parties gain something if they end up in bed.

The problem with PUAs

The problem with pick-up is the way that it takes this simple truth – that women get something out of the exchange too – and turns it into the idea that the man is somehow ‘tricking’ the woman. Pick-up can sometimes teach a man to think that any success he has with a woman is a way of him somehow winning a game between the two of them, thus making her the loser.

Not only is this theory wildly inaccurate, but it can also lead to men developing some very damaging views of women, a lack of respect for them, and a dissatisfaction with any relationship that results from it. After all, how much are you going to respect your girlfriend or yourself if you think you tricked her into being with you?

Men should feel like they’re bringing their best, most fun and most confident self to the interaction, and not that they’re covering up their real selves in order to trick a woman into sleeping with them once.

After all, if a man disappears after sleeping with a woman once, and feels like he successfully tricked her into it, isn’t he really saying that he’s not good enough in real life to keep up the pretense? If you ask me, he’s the loser in that situation, and deep down he knows it, no matter how many high fives he gets later.

Another big problem is pick-up done badly. It’s an art, and not a science. It’s about getting into a good rhythm with someone, picking up on how they respond, and doing a sort of social dance with them that leads you both closer and closer.

What will not work is taking a list of things you’re supposed to do and checking them off one by one, expecting them to work out for you like a formula, and getting frustrated when they don’t.

Women are humans, not machines, and the exact same moves and lines that work for one guy can fail spectacularly for another, if there’s no warmth or genuine interest behind them. This is when PUA turns ugly, and a woman can feel harassed rather than intrigued.

The truth about pick-up

Women get hit on all the time, and a very attractive woman will always assume that if a guy talks to her when he doesn’t need to, he’s got something else on in his mind.

That’s not women being big-headed, that’s a survival instinct, an early warning sign in case we need one. Because, unfortunately, we sometimes do.

So we know what you’re doing when you pull your PUA moves on us, even those of us who’ve never heard of PUAs, because this dynamic is as old as time. We don’t think you’re just trying to be friends, and most of us much prefer the PUA approach (when done well) to any macho bullshit that adds nothing to our day.

So, if we sleep with you it’s because we wanted to, and because we think you’ve earned it. It’s not because you ‘won’, and we ‘lost’. We both won, well done all round.

If you’ve covered up something really important, like your marital status, whether or not you’re a murderer, or that you’ve put something in our drink, or if you’ve pretended you want something more than you really do, that’s a different matter.

But a bit of banter you learned on the internet? No problem, knock yourselves out – you’re not deceiving us, you’re entertaining us, and that’s ok.