Pick Up Artist Rehab: How to flirt without making it weird

I understand the need to be desired. I know that feeling undesirable is awful and can make us feel isolated, lonely, even genderless. This desperation leads a lot of young men to the Pick Up Artist (PUA) community where they absorbed horribly backwards ideas about women and dating. I could write an entire separate article on what’s wrong with the ideology of the PUA game, but for right now I’ll say this:

It doesn’t work.giphy (1)

There are always rare exceptions of course. There are always insecure women desperate for any validation from men. But I’ll be straight with you, if you’ve struck out enough times to seek out the PUA community in the first place, their creepy tactics aren’t going to work for you.

Dear PUAs, we see what you did there. We don’t like it.

So what does work? Let me show you an example.

A couple months ago I went to a convention. I wasn’t there to meet anyone, I was there to talk about game development and catch a talk about Sexism in the Gaming Industry by Jennifer Allaway.

I’m not a stranger to getting hit on. I hope that doesn’t sound pompous, but it’s the truth. I’m a fairly attractive young woman so I get noticed a lot. Sometimes it’s nice. Sometimes it’s creepy and weird. And sometimes it’s terrifying. But that’s not really flirtation, it’s harassment. And at this event was no exception to getting a lot of attention.

But one guy stood out and impressed me the most, in part because he wasn’t hitting on me. No cheesy pick up lines, no macho posturing, nada. He didn’t talk at me about how much money he had or his car. He didn’t make subtle attempts to undermine my self-esteem. This is all counter to the PUA method which won’t tell you the real thing  you need to have to impress a girl: the ability to hold an interesting conversation.
Seriously, screw your shoes. Forget name dropping popular friends and work seriously on your ability to be engaging. Halfway through the after-party I was completely absorbed in a conversation with this man. We talked about gaming, politics, social justice, music and so on. I was having a great time and he never made a move. But isn’t that a bad thing? No, because we had just met.
The PUA method encourages young men to force intimate contact with women. Their goal is to establish dominance by initiating physical connection quickly. This is how they define sexy. But there’s a big difference between being sexually assertive and aggressive.
Forcing intimate contact shows you have no regard for personal space. For any woman with half a brain, it’s clear to us that you’re not listening because you’re too focused on planning the best time to put your hand on our leg. It’s a signal that no matter what we’re talking about, the end game is our body and that’s what matters. The only thing that matters. And *spoilers*: that’s really unattractive.

However, this tactic can backfire. For someone who isn’t socially well-calibrated it can be difficult to gauge when the best time is to show any romantic interest. What did he do that caught my attention?


I was getting ready to leave the party and was saying my goodbyes to all the cool people I had met. There was a lot of handshakes and some excited hugs from the more inebriated among us. When I came to him to say goodbye, I held out my hand to shake. He took my hand to shake it and placed his other hand on top, looked me in the eyes and said, “I really enjoyed talking with you.”
That’s it. No, seriously.

I kept it together on the outside. I mean… probably. I’m sure I mumbled out some half coherent form of “meyah mer twoo kay bye” before I left. I Don’t really recall because on the inside I was all like


It really was that simple. Women live in a world full of men who try to lord over us. They talk down to us, invade our personal space, expect us to fulfill their Hollywood dreams of the perfect girlfriend who will give meaning to their lives. Men often enter into relationships only wondering what women will do for them instead of who we are, and we know that. We’re awash in a sea of that kind of behavior. What causes us to sit up and pay attention?  Being the opposite.


3 thoughts on “Pick Up Artist Rehab: How to flirt without making it weird

    • It doesn’t matter why they get into it, although if you understand anything about people it’s clearly based in feeling insecure. PUA methods are about making men feel secure in their masculinity and that’s about it. It may fluff the ego but it’s a temporary fix to a systemic problem. It’s not healthy and it lacks any basic understanding that women are human beings. The PUA method is fucked up, gross, and preys on women who are emotionally fragile, uneducated, or flat out drunk. I don’t need to be an authority to see that a sense desperation is behind what would lead a man to such a sleazy approach.

      • As a bisexual woman, it boggles my mind as to why men feel the need to resort to these tactics. There are fewer lesbian/bisexual women out there (at least openly) than straight women, and I have never felt that I was entitled to a woman, that I should look for women that are desperate, none of the things that PUAs insist that they need to resort to.

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