Confession: I used to be a professional pickup artist.
Yes, I read women’s palms and rehearsed ridiculous lines that other men claimed were the secret to getting laid.
I even used a “cool” pseudonym, Niko.
But, that was a lifetime ago. I’ve spent the past twelve years teaching men to honestly know themselves and communicate with integrity. I’ve written healthy, effective dating advice that treats women with respect.
Yet still, month after month, men ask me about my journey as a certified PUA.
They’re fascinated by what I’ve learned, the stories I can tell, and what it was really like working as a coach for various companies.
In truth, the pickup community did teach me about the critical roles that leadership, non-verbal communication, and flirting have in creating attraction. It helped me find other men who wanted to go out and challenge their comfort zones, too.
But most importantly, it made me believe.
It made me believe that I had the capacity to proactively improve myself to become more appealing and social. It planted the seed that I could learn the art of human connection and talk to whoever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
For this, I will be forever grateful.
Despite that, when someone asks me, “What was it like being a pickup artist?” my gut response is…
Weird. Really fucking weird.
Because during my time as a PUA, I experienced many surreal moments that made me question what I was doing. So much so that I eventually got disgusted with it all and left to start my own practice.
So today, instead of sharing some wild and crazy success stories, I’d like to share the times when I saw major red flags in the industry. I want to show you why I don’t teach pickup today.
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The leader of the wolf pack
As an impressionable young man, I joined the Boston pickup scene. It was a private club where 200 men would share advice on a forum, meet for local seminars, and go out to talk to women together.
Only months after joining, I became a lead coach. I was so proud of myself.
One day, we were out walking around the city. I joked and laughed with the guys to help them loosen up. We talked to new people and kept it all lighthearted and fun.
This natural ebb and flow of energy was my favorite way to socialize.
Suddenly, one of the other coaches pulled me aside. With an incredulous look, he said, “What do you think you’re doing?!”
“What?” I was totally caught off guard. I thought I was doing a great job.
“Stop treating them like they’re your friends.”
“Who? The other guys?”
“Yes!” He pointed at my chest and said, “You are their pack leader. You must lead them around like dogs. You’ve got to show them who the true Alpha is.”
I unsuccessfully stifled a laugh. Before I could even reply, he had whipped himself into another frenzy:
“I can tell just by the way you’re looking at me you’re seeking my approval.”
“Dude, I have no idea what you’re talking about…” And I just walked away, shaking my head, and rejoined the group.
This interaction was just another example of pickup’s bizarre obsession with competitiveness and having to be “Alpha” all the time.
I saw guys fiercely debate about who had the best conversation routines and compare their sexual conquests. All they ever talked about were the intricate mechanics of convincing women to sleep with them on a regular basis.
And here I was, a guy who just wanted to have a good time while being more social. I loved hanging out with friends and talking about books, technology, games, and whatever else came to mind.
I was completely out of place with the men who were always serious, silent, and plotting their next perfect pickup line. I was done with treating social interactions like a chess game.
The eye of the predator…I mean tiger
I attended a weekend pickup conference in New York City. A lot of the famous coaches were there. And the coach giving the final presentation said he had something big in store for us: a “top secret” video.
He was only going to show it to a few stops on his tour and then destroy it forever. We all had to turn off our phones and put them away.
All this suspense had hundreds of men on the edge of their seats. We were dying to find out what was in this video and how we could become legendary PUAs, too.
Cue the video projector. “Eye of the Tiger” starts playing, getting louder and louder. Fade in with photos of the coach as a pale, nerdy teenager. He looked like a young Marilyn Manson.
It cuts to a picture of a beautiful woman. Then hidden camera footage of him talking to her in a bar and using a cheesy story to break the ice.
I’m thinking to myself, “Okay, it’s a montage video of him talking to beautiful women to inspire all of us. That makes sense.”
Abruptly, the bar scene cuts to a hidden camera in a bedroom where he’s aggressively having sex with that same woman.
I’m like, “Holy shit, alright that was pretty intense. I don’t think she knew there was a camera.”
Then there was a new picture of a gorgeous woman. Followed by bar footage with him telling the SAME EXACT STORY. Then boom: him having rough sex with her, clearly filmed without her consent.
And it went on. And on. And on. Same stupid story. Same hidden camera.
I remember feeling sick to my stomach. I looked around and saw the few female coaches and staff members with expressions of absolute horror. Some of them just got up and left.
At the end of the video, the lights came on and the coach stood at the front with a huge grin. He shouted, “Now who wants to work with me?” and at least half of the men in the room ran to sign up for his services.
I recall sitting there thinking, “What the hell just happened?”
Men were applauding a guy who manipulated and humiliated women. I was in a conference room full of lonely, aroused men who would pay anything to be just like him.
Yeah, I originally got into pickup because I wanted to feel desired and get laid. But not like this.
I grew up watching my mother get abused by terrible men. I had a little sister I practically raised. I couldn’t imagine a sick fuck doing the same thing to either of them.
It was then that I fully realized, “This is super messed up.” Any man of sound mind could tell — this was disturbing behavior.
I knew I didn’t want to be like these men and I didn’t want to teach anyone to be like this, either.
The men who can only count to 10
One of the guys in our pickup community began dating a woman he was excited about. He wanted some of us to meet her so he brought her to hang out with us at the bar.
The way the other guys started talking about her behind her back was like something out of a National Geographic documentary – except by really mean anthropologists. Things like…
“Pssh, she’s not that hot.”
“I’d say she’s a 7, at most.”
“She could still lose a few pounds.” And so on.
May I remind you: these guys themselves had NEVER dated anyone nearly as attractive as this girl!!!
Yet they lacked so much self-awareness that it was no big deal to completely objectify and critique her one minute into meeting her.
Did they care whether or not their friend was happy? Did they try to get to know the woman on a personal level? Did they wonder if she was interesting, funny, or smart.
Of course not.
They reduced her value to how aroused they were by her biological symmetry on a scale of 1 to 10.
In pickup, a perfect “10” of a woman is the ideal. Followers are obsessed with sleeping with as many 10’s as possible.
But it never stops.
There was a coach who’d been with over a hundred beautiful women and when he came out and said it didn’t make him happy, he was mocked.
And the antithesis of convincing oodles of women to sleep with you is actually getting into a relationship with one of them. How dare anyone want to do that!
Even Neil Strauss, whose book The Game started it all, was shunned when he wrote about falling in love with his (model) girlfriend. Many in the community vowed to burn his books and never look back.
During the time I spent in the industry, I made this pivotal observation: not one person could sustain a real relationship. Instead, they all treated women like disposable numbers and were so performative, they kept everyone at arm’s length.
They never let anyone get close to them or have a chance at a real connection. Their avoidant behaviors left them lonely, jaded, and bitter.
The way men objectified women and counted them like Pokemon cards never resonated with me. I didn’t want to be one of those old dudes ranting about his heyday banging “broads” and acting pervy to young women.
Goodbye to strange times
These stories illustrate only a few of the many red flags I saw within the pickup community. They don’t include…
- How some men obsessively consumed gigabytes of pickup books, courses, and videos while rarely implementing the advice in the real world.
- The thousands of “lay reports” where men detailed their sexual conquests online for other men to live vicariously through them.
- The multiple guys I knew who moved to countries in Asia or Eastern Europe solely because they believed they would get laid easier with impoverished foreign women.
- The lingo the community invented and how we all spoke in code like we were badasses.
- The coaches who’ve been literally banned from various countries for harassing and assaulting women. No really, they can’t enter the country.
Looking back on it, I wish I had recognized this world of weirdness sooner. But when you want something so bad for yourself, it’s easy to justify behaviors and detach from reality.
Like everything, though, you have to experience things for yourself before discovering the cold, hard truth. These interactions forever changed my perception of the industry and I’m glad they did.
So the next time you’re thinking of asking me, “What was it like being a pickup artist?”
Know my answer will be, “I went down the rabbit hole and trust me, you don’t want to go there. It’s weird man, really…fucking…weird.”
Want to attract more women and build real confidence without resorting to shady tactics? Talk to me for a free, confidential strategy session.