I started GuyGuides with the original aim to catalogue a lot of the pickup advice out there, filter through the chaff, and offer the best nuggets of wisdom for free.
Last summer I researched almost every pickup artist product I could get my hands on. Ebooks, videos, courses, blogs…you name it. It was through this process that made me 1) realize why this cottage industry is so fucked up 2) subsequently change the direction of GuyGuides. By no means am I comparing this post to the efforts of Edward Snowden, but it’s about time that someone blows the whistle on how some proponents of the pickup artist industry (henceforth referred to as “PUA”) market to men.
During my research, here are just some of the products I came across…
Alpha Dog – Get the Bitch You Want (FYI, the author is female).
Routines Manual (“Learn dozens of routines so you never run out of things to say!”)
Advice from a “reputable” dating advice blog
I find this one the most hilarious – how to get girls by using magic tricks:
This article won’t be a review of the ocean of PUA products out there. Skimming through each of these products, there have even been a few sane nuggets of good advice. But the underlying problem comes from how all this is marketed to, and perceived by male customers, which is this:
Let me rephrase that: You will never be good enough unless you subscribe to MY particular methodology for attracting the opposite sex. This subtext is achieved by the subtle tactic that there’s always ONE MORE SKILL YOU MUST LEARN:
First, learn how to initiate conversations with women – here are the top 10 most effective openers you must learn. Then you should work on your physical game, or how to touch women while you talk to maximize their attraction to you. After you get a girl’s number you NEED to have solid Phone and Text Game to make sure you turn those numbers into dates. If your bar and nightlife game isn’t tight, you should probably get the Daygame product for hitting on women during the daytime. Want to maximize your leads? You need to get your Online Game solid. But you can’t be a true master PUA until you sleep with women from all around the world, so wisen up your International Game by reading each country’s Bang Guides.
All the above is true and there are products to address each type of game and each specific dating tactic. Once again, there is nothing inherently wrong with the advice that’s given – some are decent. But there’s an underlying and disturbing pattern:Pattern: all of this is a GAME
Particularly, a game to keep men in a state of self-doubt, which plays conveniently into the game of maximizing profits for PUA businesses. Pickup advice is the male equivalent of the ceaseless noise that women are subjected to from the media: you’re too fat, you’re not pretty enough, keep using this makeup. For both sexes, for-profit industries sell you something you didn’t know you needed. Marketing is the process in which they convince you that you need it.
PUAs make money primarily through online marketing. Due to the nature of what it takes to succeed in this game, here are the behavioral patterns that I noticed amongst PUA internet marketers:1) Over-promise, under-deliver
It takes just one look at some of the sales pages of PUA products to see how consumers of this information may experience a reality far different from their expectations.
PUAs tend to promise the moon with immediate, permanent and life-changing results. Almost no PUA product sales page goes without a long laundry list of all the magical abilities that a guy will attain by buying an ebook.
Longform sales copy with authoritative language is used to position the marketer as a “true pickup guru.” Almost every product sales page has a personal “rags to riches” story that highlights how Pickup Guru A was once terrible with women, but now became a master pickup artist and sells the best information on the topic.2) Highlight successes in any way possible
Fake testimonials are widely used to promote PUA products. With about 5 seconds of work, anyone can create a great testimonial for their own products:
And yes, even video testimonials can be faked. Some PUA companies have been known to hire random guys off of Craigslist and come in the office for a video testimonial.
And of course, canned pictures of hot women are plastered throughout PUA websites to excite the male mind. Again, getting models from Craigslist or enlisting the help of friends is all that’s needed to project the image that a PUA is man that women want. A female friend has complained before that a random picture she took at a party ended up being used as promotional material for a dating services group.
When it comes to internet marketing, it is ridiculously easy to the create the illusion of social proof.3) Focus on short, fast results
The marketing is effective because it promises men quick sex, how to look like a pimp and tactics to pull “9s and 10s.” But you almost never see PUAs bragging about healthy, long-term relationships. Not even in their marketing is there any indication that these pickup gurus lead happy, fulfilling lives beyond having one-night stands with girls. Real life and real relationships are difficult and hard to fake.
4) 4) Avoiding boring, common-sense advice
PUAs keep their male audience hooked to their information because it is tactical. You can always invent another way to talk to a girl. It’s profitable to release newer dating methods and keep your customers coming back for more.
But a lot of the PUA advice forgoes simply truths of life. Figure out what type of partner you want. Find a life purpose. Get a career. Work out and dress better. Have a hobby, make real relationships and friendships and start checking off those items off of your bucket list. If most men simply focus on the basics of life – health, wealth and relationships – they’d do much better than obsess over memorizing pickup tactics.
It’s profitable to get men into a game they can’t win, because the stakes keep shifting and they’re controlled by profit-seeking internet marketers. Even Neil Strauss, at the conclusion of his industry-spawning book The Game, said “the only way to win the game, is to leave it.”
PUA internet marketers do this as a full-time job. They spend several hours daily approaching women, obsessing over pickup tactics and posting their advice to forums. Of course they’ll have a bit of an edge on any regular guy. They work hard because THIS IS THEIR MAIN SOURCE OF INCOME. Of course they’ll try to come up with a new method, product, system to cater to guys.
So, is everything fucked?
No. I know that the post may sound jaded, but I was careful to note that some of the content out there is good (trust me, sifting through all that content almost made my mind melt).
I’m primarily taking a position against the way that these books are marketed to men, and how those who are unaware or inexperienced in dating may fall prey to a pathology of always feeling like they’re missing” something in their game. Ironically, thinking that you just need “one more tactic” to find that hot girlfriend is the best way to avoid a real relationship.
I’m working on the next posts, which will focus on which books & resources are good and why. After sifting through lots of this PUA stuff, I’ve come to identify some material as psychologically-healthy. They typically read more like high quality personal development content rather than “6 Funky Tactics to Get a One Night Stand.”