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What Is a Pickup Artist?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 23, 2024
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A pickup artist is a person who applies specialized techniques to the task of seducing, or picking up, another person. Generally, this is a heterosexual practice used by men to pick up women. It is important to note that, while being desirable and attracting women is part of a pickup artist's strategy, the main focus of this activity is actively convincing women to engage in interactions more serious than a conversation, such as sharing a meal or engaging in intercourse. Many people find this method of picking up women to be insincere or deplorable, so part of the pickup artist's strategy must be to conceal that he or she is using pre-planned techniques in order to form a connection with another person.

The strategies used by a pickup artist depend on his training and what has worked well in the past with his targets. Even though artists of this type attempt to scientifically evaluate a social interaction in order to achieve desirable results, there is a certain amount of individuality present in each interaction. Given the pickup artist's individual appearance as well as his strengths and weaknesses, very different techniques can be useful when trying to manipulate a target.

Pickup lines, routines, and persuasion techniques are all commonly used in order to gain the target's interest. These strategies have some basis in social psychology and neuro-linguistic programming, but this use of relatively coherent science is not always correct. Most of the time, a pickup artist is concerned only with results, and why the technique works is irrelevant.

Ideally, a pickup artist's techniques would work with a high percentage of women in a wide variety of situations. This is not always the case, even though many of the techniques used focus on reacting to common indicators of interest. Whether interest can actually be predicted through common physical actions is up for debate. Versatility when picking up partners can yield better results, but in some ways goes against the very regular and methodical approach of pickup artists.

There are many problems with the art of picking up partners methodically. Most people go into potential romantic relations with the basic assumption that they are not being played or otherwise manipulated and that the interaction is relatively unplanned. When a person discovers that she is being manipulated using regular techniques, this often destroys any chance at a relationship, even if the connection between the two people was on some level genuine. While the techniques used in this type of game can give the aggressor confidence, they can also sully a potential relationship.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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Discussion Comments
By mquedms — On May 02, 2022

What is a pick up artist anyway? If you ask most people, they won't know. Before I met pick up artists, I thought they were just guys who were skilled at picking up women, but that actually is not true. The term “pick up artist” can be misleading. First, unlike artists, pick up artists tend to be quite rigid in their ways. Second, they haven't mastered the art of picking up women, and in fact, they aren't any more skilled than an 18 year old who's never actually put any thought into picking up women. There are plenty of guys who have never given pick up a thought and pick up plenty of women naturally. Meanwhile, the majority of pick up artists actually get no girls.

Let me compare pick up to working out. If you work out incorrectly, meaning you have incorrect form, you can potentially injure yourself and be in a worse situation than you were before you started working out, so it's the same thing with picking up girls: if done incorrectly, approaching the wrong women (e.g., ones who aren't interested in you); saying the wrong things, can end up in backlash, making you even more awkward, because now you've got all these negative interactions and experiences.

Pick up artists are actually guys who just walk up to random women in public (i.e., parks) blindly, and try to seduce them. They don't look for cues or signals. They operate in ways similar to a salesman. They try to talk a woman into liking them, even if she says no, or doesn't show any interest. They often times will spend as much as 15 minutes trying to get the woman to like them if the woman doesn't flat out walk away or cuss him out. Pick up artists also often look at women as conquests.

The difference between a normal guy and pick up artist is that a regular guy may be looking for signals, such a smile before approaching a woman in public. The pick up artist just sees a woman he finds attractive and walks over there without any invitation. The key difference between a normal guy and a PUA is the PUA is not looking for a mutual attraction, because he believes any woman can be broken or seduced. Something a PUA may say is "women are not the prize". These men legitimately believe they are "the prize", even though there isn't any reason for it.

Take, for example, 25-year-old Tiago. He studies martial arts because he was bullied in school; comes from a dysfunctional family; hangs out with other socially awkward men; made no friends at college; met no women at college; has no large network of friends; works at an Amazon warehouse; is still in college despite being 25; lives with his parents; is overweight; enjoys wrestling; and doesn't really travel or attend events, yet for some reason, he believes he is the prize. Now there's nothing wrong with any of those things listed above, but according to societal standards, a prize might be someone who graduated college at 21, a year early; comes from a healthy, supportive home; has a large social circle; a solid career with benefits; owns his own home; is physically fit; travels; attends events (maybe even gets back stage passes); owns a yacht; and goes away on the weekends. Hate to sound materialistic, but the whole idea of a prize is materialistic.

At the end of the day, anyone can be a pick up artist, as long as he blindly seduces women in public in a ritualistic way. The pick up artists I met will set certain times and days where they do approaches. For example Monday, Tuesday, Friday from 5-7pm. They may approach 10 women each day. What is interesting to note is, a PUA may see a woman on Thursday, or Saturday who may seem interested but not make a move because it was outside his designated time. This is the kind of rigidity I discussed before. If a guy takes advantage of all the opportunities presented to him, he would never have to do pick up. The real key to finding a woman is knowing how to read cues and act upon them, not go up to women blindly and play the numbers game. Approaching a woman who is actually interested in you is 100 times more effective than going up to a random woman sitting at a park with her headphones on reading a book.

Profile of a pick up artist: Pick up artists tend to be just weird guys. That's the main prerequisite. This weirdness may be fueled by low self esteem, social anxiety, autism, or depression. The PUA also tend to come from dysfunctional homes which may lead to the low self esteem, social anxiety, and awkwardness. Some may be just autistic, but no matter how you put it, he ends up being weird

The main distinguishing feature of a PUA is his inability to read the room, in fact

Human development: things normal people would learn when they're young weren't by kids who were isolated and weren't exposed to much human interaction. Sometimes perhaps, the adults who raised these children were also isolated. When we're young, if we're exposed to other people, we can experiment with doing things, and saying things. In this way, we figure out how people work, and how they will respond. If we don't do this when we're young, and we try to go through the same motions as adults, it just wouldn't work, and we end up being awkward, or sounding awkward. This seems to be the background of the pick up artist: he ends up trying things out on women that just weren't meant to be tried out on adults, thus making him look and sound weird. This awkwardness could very well end up making his self esteem even lower, which is why many pick up artists turn to pick up in the first place. If you act a fool as a child, people are more likely to forgive you, but when you're a grown man going through that same process, people may not be so forgiving. Essentially, what the pick up artist is experiencing is delayed development, so what they are doing is playing catch up. The time to act silly and goofy is when you're a child, but what the pick up artists are doing is acting that way as adults often times, which may seem socially unacceptable. Because of this delayed development or handicap, the awkward guy grows up without dates though his teenage years.

The normal way of meeting a woman is through school, work, or mutual friends. This is actually the easiest way, because if you're meeting women at work, this at least gives you several chances to get it right, since you are seeing these women day after day. You can screw up and try again, whereas if you're at a park trying to pic up women, you only really have a few seconds, and one chance to get it right because you'll probably never see them again. People also like familiarity so they have a chance to suss you out, whereas if you're at a park, they would be more suspicious of your intentions. Women also have their guard up more in public than they would at work with coworkers. Meeting women through traditional means is also good for the man because he can choose to target a woman because of her vibe and personality, whereas in a park, he is just approaching out of physical appearance alone.

Since the AG (awkward guy) is unable to read the room, he is not meeting women through those normal means. He may feel inferior around his classmates or coworkers. Because of his delayed development, he might be bad at small talk. Therefore, he must try a different approach.

The AG's dateless youth made him desperate. Desperation is also a key hallmark of a PUA. At this point, the AG is a grown man. He looks back on his life, and sees that he has not had any dates. He naturally turns towards the internet and searches "How to get girls?" This is where AG comes across PUA's on the business side. PUAB claims "you can get any girl you want, no matter how attractive she is". Obviously he's telling you this so you will subscribe to his services, but AG is so desperate, he will believe anything. The PUAB often has books for sale, classes, and videos teaching you how to pick up women. Often times, the PUAB will have videos of himself approaching women in public, and speaking to them in what appears to be a confident way. The AG is impressed because the PUAB is doing what the AG wants to. Yet there is no way to prove the authenticity of these videos. The women in the PUAB videos could be hired actors to give the impression that the PUAB is smooth, when in fact, he isn't.

The AG, driven by desperation signs up for these classes, or buys the books. PUAB offers classes for, up to $3000 for a weekend where PUAB's assistant guides AG how to seduce women in real-life scenarios such as a mall, or club. Approximately, 6 men are in each class. Notice how I said “PUAB's assistant.” The PUAB makes videos, creates a reputation among AGs, gets AG to sign up only to have PUABA teach the course. The PUABA is actually just another AG who was trained by the PUAB. What's interesting to note is that the PUABA actually works for free. So in essence, the PUAB makes all the money by doing next to nothing, while the PUABA does everything and gets paid nothing. Regardless of how the classes are taught, PUAB is actually a blind leading the blind operation, where the teachers are just as confused and awkward as the students. Needless to say, the results are going to be less than optimal.

Look up pua on the internet. Pick up artists often times seem misogynistic partly because they've been rejected so much by women -- not because women hate pick up artists, but because the pick up artists simply don't know how to read the room. If you keep on trying to sell life insurance to someone who doesn't want to buy it, they're going to get angry. At the same time, when you think of Mormons who try to convert you, and don't take no for an answer, then you also would get infuriated. The misogynist in turn may end up making these pick up artists even less attractive than they already were.

Because most pick up artists turn to pick up due to their own mental problems, e.g., autism, depression, dysfunctional family social anxiety, few actually succeed at picking up women. In other words, if you were mentally healthy, and came from a stable home, then you would've met women through work, school, and mutual friends, in all likelihood. Even PUA who succeed at getting phone numbers tend not to get calls back, partly due to their desperation, partly due to misogyny, and the staple problems (autism, depression, dysfunctional family social anxiety). Another problem I noticed about pick up artists is they seem to have something to prove. A lot of them feel the need to take pictures of themselves with women in order to gain the acceptance from other men, but just this ends up making them look insecure. They look at it as some kind of competition, and constantly comparing themselves to other pick up artists, and that's not what dating is about.

The PUA also comes at women with pre-scripted lines. When you talk to a PUA, it's almost like talking to a bot. They are rigid and don't have a whole lot of flexibility, and this could be one of the reasons why they fail so often.

By backdraft — On May 23, 2012

I love that show The Pick Up Artist. I can't believe what those guys get away with. I could never be a pick up artists myself but it is fun to live vicariously through the people on TV.

By ZsaZsa56 — On May 22, 2012

The best tip that I could give to any guy who is trying to get more attention from women is to be confident. This is totally different from being cocky mind you. You want to seem self assured, not full of yourself.

Women, really all people, respond to people who seem strong, confident and put together. This feeling of success transcends looks or station. If you believe in yourself other people will want to believe in you too.

By gravois — On May 21, 2012

I read a book about becoming a pickup artists but I did not have any more success with women. These guys will try to tell you that there is a secret formula that can work on any girl in any situation but this is just a bunch of hot air.

Plus, who wants to think about romance as a math equation? I don't want to think that the person I am with is there because I have manipulated them into being with me. I want to be liked for myself, not for my image.

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