I write today, however, about something that I find interesting, and crazy, and slightly horrific. That is, pickup artists. If you had asked me but a month ago if I thought that pickup artists were any real threat to a woman and her dignity, I would have laughed in your face. I assumed that pickup lines really only worked on less-intelligent girls, or girls who wanted to be “picked up” anyway.
A few months ago, a friend of mine randomly sent me an email in which he told me about these underground, well-organized, groups of men who work together and pick up women, and he sent me a link to a forum about learning to pick up women, and get them to sleep with you. I thanked him for his concern, told him I’d be on the lookout, was briefly horrified that anyone would pay $2K for a 3 day workshop on anything, much less talking to women, then promptly forgot about it. When I mentioned the email to another male friend, he told me about a book called “The Game” by Neil Strauss, and that it was something I’d probably enjoy reading, and find interesting, but that these communities really do exist. I again, put the tidbit of information into the back of my mind and moved on with my life.
Fast forward a couple of months. I’m at work, and I get a message from a guy who had emailed me earlier, but I wasn’t able to go out with due to conflicts in schedules. He tells me his flight was cancelled, and asks if I’d like to meet up for a drink. I had dinner reservations at 8:30, so I told him I’d love to (thinking he seemed like an interesting enough person, and if he wanted to buy me a diet coke and keep me from snacking before dinner, who was I to refuse?).
We meet at a neighborhood bar/restaurant. I had ordered a Diet Coke from the waitress before he arrived, and when he did get there, he put down his stuff, but after I mentioned that the waitress should be back soon, he said he preferred to go to the bar. He went to the bar, and made conversation with everyone there while he waited for his drink, and I waited for him at the table. I thought it was weird at first, but rolled with it. He then came back to the table and we talked. The conversation was awesome. It was funny back and forth flirty banter. Really some of the better conversation I’d had on a date in a while. He did say some slightly negative things to me now and again–things like “It’s like you’re sitting there, waiting for me to entertain you” even though I was certain I’d been keeping up my end of the conversation. He’d then say something sexual…in a challenging way, and I’d feel obligated to up my banter to be more flirty, more sexual. He’d say “Haven’t you ever been in an intense fight with someone–yelling and throwing things–and then suddenly wanted to make out with them?” And I’d say “Can’t say that I have–but I could see the intrigue. I’ve always wanted to throw plates at someone.” Then he’d suggest we go into the kitchen at the restaurant and I could throw a few plates at him. It kept escalating, and when I told him I had to meet my friends for dinner in 45 minutes, he outright suggested that we spend the next 45 minutes in a cab to my place, and then my bedroom.
I blanched. I knew there was a reason that was bad–but couldn’t think of it. I had never met this guy before. We’d spent a total of an hour in each others’ company, and the only excuse I came up with was “My roommate is home”. That was it. No “I’m saving myself” not even a “I don’t take guys home on a first date”…just “but my roommate is home”. It was literally the only reason I could come up with, even though I knew there were other reasons. There I was, seriously considering going home and sleeping with a total stranger–for no good reason. He saw my quandry, and said “We don’t even need to have sex. I’d just really like to put a big smile on your face…just let me do that, and I’ll do the anti-guy thing and not ask for anything in return.” And instead of being horrified, or offended, I just said “Haven’t I been smiling enough tonight?” After a few more minutes, and me feeling more and more confused as it went on, I simply said, “I’ve got to go meet my friends” and I caught a cab home.
This experience plagued me for a while. I felt absolutely ridiculous. This guy was attractive–but not “hot” in the traditional sense. He was an inch shorter than me–and that night I was in heels–so he was 3 inches shorter than me, had a receding hairline, and was still packing his ginormous suitcase from his cancelled flight. When he walked in, there hadn’t been an immediate attraction like I’ve felt in the past–and even the first few minutes of conversation were just…normal. And suddenly I had completely lost my mind. I spent a week wondering what had happened. Then I vaguely remembered the random “helpful” email and the book I’d been told about. I purchased the book immediately.
The things this guy was doing, were all the things that Neil Strauss talks about in the book. Mystery and Style–teaching men to manipulate women so they react in a certain way. Things that seem innocuous enough. Honestly, if I had read the book before this experience, or watched the VH1 show, I would have thought these girls were just silly bimbos who wanted to go home with whoever offered, and these guys were just the ones offering. Instead, I got a firsthand experience and realized that they are very effective manipulation tactics. It’s terrifying. You should check it out. It was an eye opening experience for me, and I think women should be more aware of this. Obviously, not every guy is using tactics, and the basic idea (that of getting shy, awkward guys out of their shells) is great. It’s the manipulation tactics that I think women should be aware of. I consider myself a relatively intelligent woman. In the past several years, I’ve had a LOT of dating experience. My brain failed me–and not because of raw chemistry (my brain has failed on those occasions too), but because a guy who appeared to be normal, manipulated my feelings.