I Used Pick-Up Artist Tactics To Try And Get Laid -- And Failed Miserably

I resolved to be a mercenary -- in fact, I’d be the biggest whore New York had ever seen! To that end, I went to Google and looked up seduction techniques.
Publish date:
July 30, 2013
internet creeps, pickup artists, pua, stranger flirting

When I got a stipend from my college to go work at an off-off Broadway theater in NYC, I should have been ecstatic.* Instead, all I can recall from this period are two things:

One, I was mind-bendingly horny. It seems impossible now, but no matter what was going on at the time, I always felt just on the edge of being turned on by my own thoughts. Whether I was washing dishes, taking notes in class, or shopping for shoes with my mother, a filthy movie matinee played in the back of my brain 24/7.

Two: No one was ever going to show any sexual interest in me unless I tricked them into it.

Harsh? Definitely. But my mind was a strange place at this time in my life, with my daily thoughts revolving around a series of depressing facts. For example, the average age in America for losing your virginity was 16. I despaired that I was so far past that. The “male attention” I received in high school included finding wads of bubblegum inside my copy of Watership Down and being stabbed with pencils until they drew blood.

My family was in despair over me being fat, but had no solutions except the Atkins Diet. I had cystic acne that resisted everything my dermatologist threw at it. Once, in college, “friends” had tried to set me up on exactly two dates, both of which I’d ended prematurely (the boy’s photos were so different from his actual self I literally couldn’t pick him out at the restaurant, while the girl showed me the fresh scarification marks her ex had made on her back with a razor blade).

If this were a romcom, my first week in a big city would have helped me bloom. Instead, a night in a New York bar where two men very obviously talked to my roommates and not me gave me a preview of my future dating prospects. I resolved to be a mercenary--in fact, I’d be the biggest whore New York had ever seen! To that end, I went to Google and looked up seduction techniques.

Here’s where my remembered thought process goes from simply foreign to completely incomprehensible: how did I not realize what I was reading? One blog, still in existence, had a “market value” test where lower scores meant that “the majority of men are disgusted by the sight of you.” But I was following chains of links without even stopping to read blog titles, scanning single pages for anything that I thought might be useful before moving on to the next.

Once, I found people talking about something called an “HB10” and moved on immediately because I wanted tips, dammit, not some kind of secret code.

However, much of what I was finding fit right in to the new ideology I was developing. If you don’t have confidence, make up for it by being the boldest motherfucker in the room. Touching someone on the arm shows interest. Get them alone to “close the deal.”

Unfortunately, acting like I was the only girl in the room had unforeseen side effects. When I went up to a cute dude and offered to buy him a drink, he took it, but seemed nervous and uninterested in continuing the conversation with someone so pushy. Another responded wonderingly, “You really do want me to buy you something, don’t you?” and I realized he thought I was a particularly desperate hooker. Rather than toning it down, however, I decided I needed to go farther. That’s when I met Subway Guy.

Poor Subway Guy was innocently reading The Wind-up Bird Chronicles when I made him my prey. We were also the only two people in the car, making him the perfect mark. He seemed polite when I asked him about what he was reading--and then his eyes widened as I sat down beside him, close enough to brush his leg.

I don’t remember the details, but I think I got him to tell me what he did for a living, congratulating myself the whole time for my new technique of “asking leading questions.” As the conversation continued, I put my hand on his arm. When the metro finally reached his stop, I forced him to take my card before he left.

This incident should have embarrassed me, since I could feel that something was off the entire time I talked to him. Instead, I felt triumphant for doing everything “right," then despairing when he didn’t call a few days later. But his obvious discomfort stayed with me, and it was with relief that I eventually dropped my “social experiments,” vowing to find a way to hit on people that didn’t make them feel so damn uncomfortable.

I did, eventually, figure out how to find people that were interested in me. But it wasn’t until years later, when I stumbled across blogs like Manboobz and saw the comment section mocking half-remembered terms like “kino escalation” that I realized the full extent of my sins. Those “sex at all costs” tips I had once thought would save me had come from the then-nascent Pick-Up Artist community, and had been originally designed to get some kind of fantasy lady into bed with you whether she wanted to or not, not hit up innocent subway riders.

There is, however, one piece of PUA advice that I still think about. It’s straight from that “dating market value” test, and now I share this gem with you:

So tell me, xoJane: what’s the worst dating advice you ever put into practice? And are people that tell you when they’re going to the bathroom undateable?

*In hindsight, I don’t know why my college gave me a grant to go to NYC for a summer of completely unsupervised freedom. I had only written one play, and had never taken an acting class.