A year or so after I first moved to London I went on a few dates with a pick up artist.
And I’m not using the term pick up artist loosely. This guy legitimately classified himself as a pick up artist. It was his part-time job – evening and weekend type of thing.
I met him originally when I interned at M&S. He was an economist-finance guy of some sort. He wore his hair long and brushed back, with pin-stripe suits. And he would always saunter through the PR department with an air of arrogance. Let’s call him Alan (that’s actually his name, no concerns about protecting identity here).
About six months after I left M&S and started working at Monsoon, I ran into him on Portobello Road. He asked for my number and I — being young, single and ready to mingle — gave it to him.
He asked me out for drinks. I said yes. He asked to meet at Piccadilly Circus. So I did.
But funny things started to happen.
Before I go any further I’ll disclose that I’m a fairly outgoing, flirty type to begin with. I was very much on the prowl during this time in my life anyway.
So here I was, standing in the middle of Piccadilly Circus, waiting for Alan to turn up. When all of a sudden I look up, and this guy holds my gaze. He’s good looking, long-ish blond hair, blue eyes, deep plunging v-neck shirt, leather biker jacket and biker boots. Definitely a distinctive style, and someone with equal, if not more prowess than me.
I look at him, he looks at me, I smize and return my attention to my phone.
No more than five minutes later, a slight, dweeby guy with loads of confidence comes up to me and starts chatting. He’s asking me where I’m from, telling me he’s in town for a conference. Blah blah blah.
He asks for my number, and because I’ve never been good at saying no in these situations, I do what any other woman would do. I give him a fake number.
He walks in the general direction of the blond biker-dude. Where, funnily enough, I see Alan. It turns out they’re all friends. What a coincidence! (I think to myself.)
At this point in the evening I’m feeling really good. I’m meeting this guy for drinks, and just while standing here in the street I’ve had two other men hit on me. Damn. I must be looking fiiine tonight!
As Alan greets me, he introduces me to his friends. I say hi again, and then we head to the W Hotel for our date.
Alan follows up our date with a text, asking to go out again. This time it’s Halloween night, and his friends are going to a bar on the Kings Road.
So I do what any respectable girl does, and dress up as Audrey Hepburn. I meet him at his house where he breaks the news that he is pick up artist. It turns out he spends his evenings and weekends coaching people on how to manipulate others (my words, can’t be arsed to remember his).
He tells me he’s disclosing this to me now as a) he likes me, and b) he’s passionate about empowering others to be confident.
I take his news in stride. The fucks I’m giving at this stage in my life are zero. So we proceed to head out to the club, where we meet a group of his people. He introduces me to a mix of men and women. Some of which are paying students, others are instructors, all of which belong to the so-called seduction community. (Yes there is such a thing).
I didn’t know whether to feel flattered or insulted. This guy is taking me to work with him, where he proceeds to show other people how to get laid. What a winner.
As the night progresses all these characters start coming out of the woodwork.
I meet Hayley who is Alan’s counterpart in this community – the female alphadog instructor. Like Alan, she brought a date: her seemingly decent and friendly boyfriend. The two proceed to fight all evening, which surprises me not in the least.
Another alpha type female pops up, dressed in a slutty maid costume, and proceeds to grope Alan. Again, zero fucks given. By this point in the night I’m just sitting back and watching the circus.
Then, the final straw.
One of Alan’s students begins chatting me up. He works in real estate development, which interests me. We have a great conversation and he suggests we all go to brunch in the morning, Alan, him and I – can he have my number?
Seemingly oblivious to the inner workings of how these groups operate, I give it to him. (I genuine thought he wanted to have breakfast as a group of friends – like normal people do).
You see, the seduction community take their craft very very seriously. They have rules, performance indicators, and a hierarchy. In this instance, I was on a date with the kingpin. And the true marker of a student’s performance is their ability to get a phone number. This guy got the kingpin’s date’s number.
Alan becomes outraged, and walks away in a tantrum.
I realize I’ve had enough of the freakshow, and slip out of there, undetected, like this:
So what did I learn from this experience?
Phone number = success
First and foremost, the pick up artist method (PUA) measures ability and success on the seemingly insignificance of securing a phone number. I don’t know about you, but giving out my number to people (fake or not), is not a reflection of my attraction to them. Nor does it ever demonstrate my willingness to sleep with them. Case closed, it’s just a number, get over it.
Pick up artist = damaged goods
Secondly, I believe pick up artists are inherently coping with damaged self-esteem and self-worth. They’ve mastered the art of flirtation and body language, but they are incapable of differentiating superficial attraction from genuine affection, and so they’ll never be truly able to love. Maybe I’m being harsh, but I say what I think.
Don’t hang out in Piccadilly Circus
Whenever a guy asks to meet you in Piccadilly Circus, don’t. It’s where pick up artists do all their hunting. And I mean, eww, come on. Piccadilly Circus? The guy clearly has no taste, or class. Consider yourself warned.