After the discovery of my ex finacee’s audio-book treasure trove on how to be a Pick-Up Artist (PUA), I decided to do a bit of research on the subject (ever the consummate analyst). I wanted to understand the tactics and manipulation used to ensnare targets.
I read foundational literature often referenced in the “red pill” community (named after The Matrix, in which Neo is offered a blue pill- ignorance in bliss, or the red pill- the harsh, cold reality of the Matrix): The Game, by Neil Strauss, The Pick-Up Artist, by Mystery (a pseudonym), and The Art of Seduction, by Robert Greene. I also read “red pill” women’s literature such as The Rules, by Ellen Fein, The Gaggle, by Jessica Massa, and He’s Just Not That Into You, by Greg Behrendt. All of these books shared a common theme: using manipulation and antipathy to create attraction under the used-car salesmen technique: creating a fear of missing out or lost opportunity of something considered high value.
If you’re wondering what the red pill community is all about, there’s a great article in the Business Insider, What Is the Red Pill? I also define common differences and terminology on my Online Dating Troll Of The Week page.
“For Red Pillers, genuine reality goes something like this: Female oppression is a myth and men are the ones holding the short end of the stick. That said, men and women are inherently different due to evolution, so each gender should carry out its designated role in society. For example, females should raise children at home and men should work and have sex with women.
Pickup-style artistry is often emphasized as the effective way to talk to and ultimately copulate with women. It’s called “game,” one’s strategy in approaching someone for romantic purposes. Good game technique turns a conversation with a woman into guys vs. girls jousting match of the mind, every word carefully calculated to make one seem as attractive as possible.”
You can probably see how this ideology might be of interest and use to a psychopath. It’s psychopathy at its best: use or be used, Darwinian tactics. Since this is primarily a male-typical culture, I will refer “he/him,” however with that being said, there are women who subscribe to this as well, by mimicking this behavior for the sole purpose of manipulating men.
So how do you spot this counterculture in a prospective date/relationship? Here are some tips I’ve learned to spot the PUA (or older term “player”):
1.) He “negs” you.
Negging or delivering “negs,” short for negatives, is a manipulation of your self esteem. If you hear him say, “Wow babe, you look pretty today. Just think, after you lose the next few pounds, you’ll be a total knock-out!” OR “I got you a gym membership for your birthday. I hope you make use of it, if you know what I mean” OR “My friends thought you were pretty funny, except for that one time you snorted. Kind of embarrassing.” Most are not as demonstrative, but you get the point. It’s a back-handed compliment with the intent to keep you walking on egg-shells, seeking approval and validation.
2.) He shows calculated emotional distance.
If you feel a push-and-pull in your relationship, it’s probably by design. You know those text messages that kept you hanging for days? Or the time he asked you to call him and he never picked up? And once he did call back and you were busy, he only responded via text? How about the time you made plans for weeks and he systematically kept cancelling but said that he “couldn’t wait to see you”? These are signs that he is trying to create drama where none exist in the hopes of elevating your attraction and feelings of inadequacy. If you find yourself questioning, “Am I good enough?” chances are you have arrived exactly where he wanted this road to take you.
I’ve written on the topic of gaslighting and those seemingly innocuous white lies. They are meant to disturb your sense of reality. Examples include “I grew up in Michigan” only to be followed up with “When I was growing up in Illinois…” You question the discrepancy. The retort is usually, “No, I grew up in Illinois. I used to visit my grandparents in Michigan every summer.” Sounds like an oversight, right? How about, “I was working late last night, that’s why I didn’t call.” Then later, “I saw Tom at the gym last night.” You say, “I thought you were working late last night?” He follows up by saying, “Well yea, but eventually I went to the gym. It must have just slipped my mind.” If an incomplete account of events or omissions sometimes makes you think your partner is “just forgetful,” chances are you are lying to yourself. These are the seeds of larger deceptions growing roots.
4.) He often makes last minute plans.
“Come meet me,” says his text at 8:00 p.m., oblivious to any plans you may have. Also include anything of the late night booty-call variety. He doesn’t value your time, because his needs are first and foremost. If you resist a last minute plan, the next step is inevitable.
Often termed as a “freeze-out,” for any perceived rejection or slight, no matter how illogical the request, is met with dead-pan silence. Again, the manipulation here is to conjure feelings of inadequacy and validation seeking behavior or acknowledgement of one’s existence. You will know this is the intended tactic after a week of no contact, and then a sudden insistence on making plans. You were just “punished.”
6.) He displays the need for immediate intimacy.
This can include the guy who approaches you at the bar who oscillates between friendly conversation, intense fixation on conversation topics, then disengages later to let his eyes wander and then follows up with a touch on the leg or shoulder. He might want to take things somewhere “quieter” to “focus on you.” His systematic escalation of physical touching might come across as a bit unnerving at first, but he assures you he’s “just a touchy-feely” kind of guy. He might want to follow up with a series of back-to-back dates, such as a date for coffee, then asking you out to dinner later that night, and so on with escalating physical contact. You have become his target and his intentions are for you to be rolling around in his/your bed within the hour. If you rebuff him, chances are he will resort back to #5.
I was once in a bar with a group of girlfriends and a guy entered with two buddies wearing a top hat, jeans and a t-shirt. He looked ridiculous. But as he moved around the bar, his top hat was his main conversation starter with women. He was using a PUA tactic known as “peacocking” or using a unique appearance, sometimes with the assistance of props, to open (make contact) sets (a group of two or more women). He was trying to demonstrate an “I don’t give a fuck attitude,” but I knew better. He definitely gave a fuck. Another interesting phenomenon of a PUA is to open a set with silly questions that could be found in the pages of Cosmo. If you ever were approached by a guy who said something like this: “Hey, my buddy and I disagree that platonic relationships between men and women actually exist. I think that guys can have girls who are just friends and he thinks that all women eventually want to sleep with their guy friends. Is that true?” You’ve just become the target of a PUA tactic.
I have become adept at recognizing the PUA. They are systematic and predictable. Sometimes it feels like you are living in a movie, where his replies are pre-scripted. Red pill men are incredibly insecure inner beings. The fact that they must rely on the skills of manipulation, not their actual selves, is a testament to this fact.
Genuine human emotions do not need careful calibration or calculation. Spot the pyscho.