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Pick up artists and negging

By Rachel Rosen


So-called pick-up artists (PUAs) have been in the news recently. One PUA who claims to be a pick-up coach (he does stage shows) called Julien Blanc was refused a visa to enter the UK. 

PUAs are men who rely on a system to 'attract' women. Many of them sell their dating ‘expertise’ to other men via books, seminars and websites. They make their strategies sound like a game, and imply that if you follow certain methods, you'll get certain results.

What are these methods?

The details of their methods vary, but the basic story is that they don’t respect women and they don’t take what women say seriously. So some men calling themselves PUAs have posted articles on their websites arguing that a woman who says ‘no’ to sexual activity doesn’t really mean no, she means ‘try harder’. 

Generally speaking, they favour ‘negging’ – casually insulting a woman you might want to pick up in order to lower her confidence. The idea is that this will make her feel vulnerable and make her more open to your advances. 

There is absolutely no proof that insulting people makes them think you're appealing. And yes, you would think it would be the opposite.

Still, PUAs have built up quite a following among some men.

Why should parents take notice?

PUA methods, including negging, are generally reckoned to exploit male frustration, either among men who can’t attract women in the more usual ways (ie. by being nice to them) or who resent women that don't fall for them. 

Young people do often, of course, feel frustrated. Most early experiences of dating are a bit disastrous. But you can help your child build a healthy perspective on relationships with the following thoughts about PUAs and negging:

  • People are not targets. PUAs work from the starting point that dating is a competition in which men are trying to attract as many women as possible and women are trying to reject them. A moment’s thought will show that dating is actually about people getting to know each other and discovering if they’re compatible. If you need to trick or manipulate people into liking you, it says something rather sad about you. It’s also very unlikely to work in the long run. 
  • Relationships aren’t meant to be horrible. If  your child is interested in someone, finding out if they have anything in common is more likely to lead somewhere than insulting their appearance or refusing to take no for an answer. 
  • Rejection happens. Not being noticed by someone you fancy can be devastating, especially when you’re young and feeling very intense emotions and don’t always know what to do with them. But it’s important to maintain perspective. Unbelievable as it is at the time, the world is probably not going to end. And even if you think it will, it’s unlikely to make anyone like you more if you play tricks or say negative things.  


Image: Spyros Theodoritsis, CC BY