Thirty Something London

Five Signs You’re Dating a Pickup Artist

5 signs you're dating a pickup artist the game

Guest post by author Zoe Efstathiou.

Five Signs You’re dating a pickup artist

Books, online courses, residential trips, one-to-one coaching – the market for teaching men how to pick up women is booming. Having mastered mind games, brainwashing, even hypnotism, men all over the world are becoming more and more adept at learning how to trick women into wanting to be with them.

The first person to really put the pickup artist (PUA) community on the map was New York Times journalist Neil Strauss – a five foot six, self-professed geek who’d had no luck with women until he immersed himself in the world of pickup.

Using pickup techniques, Strauss claims that he went from being under-confident and celibate to seducing hundreds of beautiful women. He detailed his pickup tactics in international bestseller, The Game, which has become a bible for horny geeks all over the world who believe they need a manual to be charming.

Reading The Game was a massive eye-opener for me as I realised just how pervasive pickup has become, especially in big cities such as London. Just as you shouldn’t venture into a jungle without mosquito repellent, you shouldn’t enter the dating jungle without knowledge of The Game.

Here’s how to spot a pick up artist, and avoid getting stung

1. He’s dressed in an eye-catching way

PUAs call this ‘peacocking’. The idea is that by dressing flamboyantly, you draw attention to yourself in a crowded bar and project an impression of confidence, which attracts and intrigues women. It doesn’t matter if the clothes you’re wearing are hideous, as long as they draw attention to you. Neil Strauss used to pick up women dressed in a snake-skin suit!

I went to a speed-dating night where I met a typical PUA. He was dressed in a boating blazer with a red silk pocket square and mustard yellow chinos. Looks-wise, he was actually fairly unremarkable, but when you only have a few minutes to get an impression of someone, if they have striking dress sense, they do tend to stick in your mind (and this guy wasn’t just flamboyant, my friend went on a few dates with him and he did turn out to be a full-on PUA).

2. He keeps insulting you

Have you ever dated a guy who never properly compliments you, but instead, makes comments that are sort of half-complimentary and half-insulting? Like, “Wow, great hair. Extensions?” or, “I really love your top, but did it shrink in the wash?” Comments like this are what PUAs call ‘negs’. Negs are meant to be nice enough that you still warm to the guy, but sufficiently insulting that you feel the need to prove yourself to him. The hotter you are, the more likely a guy is to neg you. PUAs are intimidated by beautiful women, and the idea is that by unsettling a woman’s ego, she’ll be taken aback, as normally, guys simply fawn over her. If you keep negging her, she’ll constantly want to prove to you that she’s worthwhile and she’ll be hooked.

I was in a relationship for six months and I can see, looking back, that the guy was negging me throughout. He would call my job, “cute”, refer to me as, “little Zoe”,  he said my flat was “nice for Zone 3” and would always call it, “shabby chic,” etc. By the end of the relationship, I didn’t know who I was any more; my confidence had gone. I didn’t understand why the guy I was meant to be in a caring relationship with was incapable of complimenting me until I read The Game and then it all made sense.

3. The guy takes you to loads of different bars in one date

Have you ever been on a date with a guy who seems to want to go from bar to bar even though the first one was absolutely fine? Or does he insist on cramming a ton of different activities into a short date? Unless he has an unbridled lust for life, he could be trying to give you the subconscious impression that you’ve spent more time with him than you actually have. This creates a greater sense of intimacy. If you go to three or more different places with a guy on one date, e.g. coffee, dinner and cocktails, you may only have spent 3 hours with him, but it feels like much longer; it feels like three dates. This trick is meant to make you feel less uncomfortable about the idea of jumping into bed with him at the end of date one.

4. He keeps touching you

If a PUA is chatting to you for the first time, you can expect that he will probably touch you on a non-erogenous zone such as your arm or hip while simultaneously drawing your attention towards something else that is happening. Perhaps he’ll put his hand on your back while pointing to the band playing across the room, or maybe he’ll touch your arm while asking you to pass him the drinks menu. PUAs call this kind of move “kino”, which stands for kinaesthesia. By touching you while directing your attention elsewhere, PUAs aim to create a subtle feeling of closeness without coming across as too creepy or invasive. There are various stages of kino, and PUAs will escalate them throughout the night. One moment, he’ll be touching your arm, the next, he’ll be admiring your earrings while fondling your earlobe. And the next minute, he’ll be fondling your breasts. Well at least, that’s the idea.

5. He’s hot and cold

Pickup artists have this thing called ‘cat string theory’. The idea is that if you’re playing with a cat and you dangle a piece of string in and out of the cat’s reach, it will keep trying to paw at the string. However, if you chuck the cat the string and simply leave it to play, it will get bored very quickly and wander off. If you hadn’t already guessed, the string represents the PUA. If he gives you his full attention, and then withdraws it, you’re meant to keep wanting to play. If, on the other hand, he comes on too strong, you’ll ditch him and move on. So if you’ve ever dated a guy who is really hot and cold, he’s either a PUA or he’s not that into you. Either way, you’re better off without him!


Now that you’re aware of some of the main pickup techniques, you’ll be better equipped to weed out the insecure players and find decent men instead. You’ll also be in a better position to retaliate to negs. My favourite response is to patronizingly touch a guy’s arm, look into his eyes, tilt my head and comment, “Poor you. What a shame that you feel the need to neg me.” Watching the cockiness drain from a PUA’s face is a wonderful feeling!

Good luck in the dating jungle!

Zoe Efstathiou is the author of romantic comedy, Would Like To Meet… The novel is inspired by Zoe’s personal experiences of the London dating scene – the good, the bad and the ugly. You can follow Zoe here on Twitter.

Zoe Efstathiou Book cover Would Like To Meet...





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