|A what? A pickup artist!!|
“Can I ask you a quick question?”
Great, you think, here is another one. No, you cannot buy me a drink, and yes, I know I have pretty eyes. But before you can say something, you realize that the guy behind you is not talking to you. He is approaching your friend Betty, who normally is not the guy-magnet kind of girl. Yet, he talks to her for a while, and she seems completely absorbed by his stories, as is Sandra, your other friend, whom he is now showing some pictures.“Hey, you say, who’s that with the diving mask?”
“Excuse me, I’m showing her the pictures, not you, geez.”You back off, but your friends seem to have a great time – they are laughing and joking around, and the guy even introduced them to some of his friends. He is still ignoring you though, and that does not happen to you often. You try to work yourself into the conversation and finally succeed when your friends are talking to his, leaving his attention with you. He apologizes for ignoring you, but he says he will make it up to you by showing you a nice trick. You follow him to the bar while he tells you a story about his best friend, whom he loves to death.
I guess he’s not that bad, and he’s definitely nicely dressed, you think. He shows you a card trick involving an empty beer glass, while joking around and telling some more stories about friends, events, and vacations. The two of you start talking when he says he has to leave; he is going to another bar across the street. Seeing you are disappointed, he tells you to join him if you want.
“Sure, I’ll tag along for a while.”
Flash forwards an hour or ten: you wake up in a different bed, hung-over, wearing just a T-shirt that you do not recognize. Slowly you piece together the night before. You never sleep with a guy after the first date, and this was not even a date! What happened?
He was a pickup artist.
A what? A pickup artist, as popularized by Erik von Markovik (Mystery) amongst others, is someone who uses certain techniques to seduce women. This ‘art of the pickup’ was somewhat popular among young males a few years ago, and VH1 even had a reality game show called The Pickup Artist run for two seasons. The show consisted of a number of males who had been unsuccessful in love for most of their lives, and had to try to seduce women under the guidance of an experienced pickup artist.
While this show might have been mostly for entertainment value, the fact that there is such an art as ‘how to pick up women’, with guidebooks and all, speaks volumes about how complicated trying to find love can be. With Valentine’s Day getting closer and closer on the calendar, there are plenty of people out there being reminded of the fact that they are single, and plenty of people will be going out to bars, coffee shops and other popular places, hoping to bump into their true love, and possibly: plenty of people falling for masters of seduction.
What is interesting is why these ‘tricks’ work. Von Markovik explains it from a biological perspective: over the years, human society has changed a great deal. We went from being hunters and gatherers to office clerks and consultants, from living in small groups to living in a metropolis, and evolution could not keep up the pace. Therefore, we are still unconsciously subject to certain primal urges, which the pickup artist tries to exploit. Deep down, we still have only two main goals in life: survive and replicate.
Let’s look back at the situation at the beginning of this article. What the pickup artist does is ignore you and talk to your friends first; this is to make you, the target, insecure, and to get your friends’ approval. If your friends like him, then chances are you will think more highly of him too. He shows off his social skills by introducing his friends and keeping your friends entertained, and when he finally shifts his attention to you, he will try to isolate you from your friends. He will show you how interesting and fun he is, by telling jokes and compelling stories, which serve the dual function of showing off he cares about people close to him. And most important of all: he does not seem to be hitting on you.
These are all conscious choices: the type of stories, his clothes, the showing off of his valuable attributes (from a biological perspective), and even the ignoring will be aimed at this one goal: making you feel attracted to him through showing that he is a perfect candidate for helping you survive and replicate. That is why he told you about his grandmother that he took care of, why he shows that he is good with people and why he makes sure he gets your friends’ approval.
This is not to say that the pickup artist does not have these attributes, just that he does not necessarily have them. Most of the pickup artists could be described as ‘players’, although the idea behind the art of the pickup is to simply help men approach women more easily. Not every pickup artist will be out there to break your heart, but realize that their game is to project ideas on you, to make you feel certain emotions that are in their interest. So, whenever one of your stories unfolds in a similar way as the one on top, be wary that the attraction could just be there because the right buttons were pushed. You might not be able to help yourself from feeling these emotions, as the good pick up artists are very good at eliciting them, but at least now you will be in on the game.