5 hard dating truths that pick up artists won’t tell you

Ah, pick up artists … the ‘fast food’ of relationship coaching. Whether you’re looking for love or just hunting for your next conquest, there’s someone out there willing to tell you how to improve your success rate – and they’ll charge you for the privilege.

In a world that’s getting more complicated every day, it’s understandable that we want some hard and fast answers. After that five-hundredth swipe on Tinder, you could be forgiven for banging your head on the table and screaming, ‘there must be a better way!’ Accordingly, there are people out there selling every sort of dating advice imaginable – from ‘good-guy’ romance tips to quasi-scientific psychological manipulation.

But when it seems too good to be true, it usually is. There are some things about picking up that almost no pick-up artist is going to tell you. These are the ‘hard to swallow’ facts of life that don’t sell well (no matter how realistic they are).

In the interests of saving your love life (and your sanity) here are five things you really need to know, that you’ll never hear from most so-called ‘experts’.

1. No pick-up technique works for everyone.

…and anyone who says it does is full of shit. Pick-up artists like to make hooking up seem like a process you can control, but in real life nothing ever goes according to plan. There’s no such thing as a straightforward encounter between two human beings. Anyone who thinks all people work the same way is completely delusional (or they’re lying to you to make you feel like they have all the answers.)

Whenever you match, flirt, or chat with someone new, what happens will depend on thousands of factors, many of which are completely outside your control. This is why meeting new people is so damn terrifying. A dating expert can adapt their conversation, manner, and approach depending on the situation and the person. It’s called ’emotional maturity’ and it’s a totally learn-able skill…but it takes practice.

2. Most dating and hook-up strategies only work due to the ‘placebo effect.’

What do I mean by that? I mean that none of them work because they’re actually any good; they work because having a plan gives you more confidence.

My local coffee shop is also the regular meeting spot for a local dating coach. He brings his clients in and gives them pep talks about revamping their Tinder profiles, what to say on the first date, and how to score at parties. He uses this system that’s all about channelling the vibe of different animals, depending on the situation: “Ready to close the deal? You’re a bear! Feel that power!”

Even absurd strategies, such as imitating wild animals, can sometimes work. When we feel self-conscious, anything that distracts us from our anxiety is going to help us function better – whether it’s pretending to be a tiger on the African Savannah, or thinking about our last knitting project. Having a plan is a bit like wearing your lucky underpants – it gives you a psychological edge, even if the threads themselves don’t make a difference.

Sorry if I’ve just ruined your fave pick-up strategy! I’m a fan of conquering anxiety by any means possible, so if it works for you then maybe that’s okay. But if you do decide to use a placebo, pick one that doesn’t make you look stupid or encourage you to act like an asshole.

3. Seeking quantity over quality is a loser’s game.

In my experience, a goo lover isn’t someone who has a lot of sex; it’s someone who has REALLY GOOD sex, even if it’s less frequent. Getting laid a lot isn’t that enjoyable if you’re not spending time with people you actually like…you might be able to brag about it at the pub, but you’re going to be missing out on the really good stuff – connected, intimate dates with people that give a shit about you.

Some people try and have as much sex as possible to prove they measure up. But when you shift the focus from quantity to quality, you’ll start having better experiences. I’ll take that over bragging rights, any day.

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3. Seeking quantity over quality is a loser’s game.

In my experience, a goo lover isn’t someone who has a lot of sex; it’s someone who has REALLY GOOD sex, even if it’s less frequent. Getting laid a lot isn’t that enjoyable if you’re not spending time with people you actually like…you might be able to brag about it at the pub, but you’re going to be missing out on the really good stuff – connected, intimate dates with people that give a shit about you.

Some people try and have as much sex as possible to prove they measure up. But when you shift the focus from quantity to quality, you’ll start having better experiences. I’ll take that over bragging rights, any day.

4. Some people just find it really hard to get laid…and it’s not always their fault.

Most pick up artists are rich white dudes. They’re surrounded by fans, friends and sexy play partners. Sounds like an incredible lifestyle, right? I sure as hell aspire to flying around the world, with a centerfold model sitting next to me in first class while I talk about my best-selling book (it hasn’t happened yet, FYI.) Unfortunately, most people can’t rely on money, travel stories or a huge social circle. If you’re a bigger dress size than average, come from an ethnic minority, have autism, or anything else that means you don’t fit the ‘conventionally attractive’ stereotype, you might need to make more effort to score.

The long-term solution for this is for everyone to relax their idea of what ‘attractive’ actually means (dating someone just because they’re conventionally attractive is really fucking boring). The short-term solution is for you to find your niche. Whether you’re a gamer, on the spectrum, or just plain eccentric, seek out the people who ‘get’ you and will appreciate what you have to offer.

I’m a sex worker – it’s quite hard to find people who are okay with dating me, because they can’t deal with what I do for a living (they don’t know what they’re missing out on!) I’ve learned to spot the type of guy who’s open-minded enough to accept my choices. Until  folks stop being judgemental, it’s something I’m going to have to deal with every time I swipe on Tinder.

5. Every time you get rejected, you’re also getting closer to picking up.

In macho culture, rejection is seen as failure. Pick-up artists capitalise on this, telling us that guys who don’t get laid are losers. Tons of pick-up techniques are about overcoming rejection or trying to push past someone’s ‘no’, because accepting a ‘no’ is supposed to equate to failure.  But I think that’s bullshit. Everyone gets rejected – it’s part of the process of finding the right people. Making people feel deficient just because they got a, ‘no thanks’ is stupid, because it happens to everyone.

It’s a bit like playing laser tag. I love this game, because I grew up in the nineties! When you get tagged, you’re out of action for a minute or so (and you feel a bit silly.) When I started playing, my scores sucked because I spent the whole time hiding in a corner, afraid of being tagged out. But when I became braver and just got out there, I did better. Sure, I got tagged more often, but I also managed to score against the other players. Get the metaphor? When you’re making an effort – talking to and flirting with folks – you’re going to get rejected more often. It doesn’t mean you’re a loser. It means you’re making progress.

Rejection is useful. It frees you to move on from someone who isn’t right for you, towards someone who is. If you spend all your time avoiding rejection, your progress slows to a crawl because you spend ages pursuing people who are never going to return your interest. Take your hit and move on to a better prospect. That’s how you get somewhere.

If hearing ‘no’ is hard for you, check out this article on developing rejection resilience.

Being good at dating means dealing with the fact that there’s no five-step plan. Don’t believe the ‘experts’… and hang on to your wallet. Techniques and strategies aren’t the solution! But the right attitude and a lot of practice can get you a long way towards becoming a hook-up champion.

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