7 Pickup Artist Techniques To Look Out For

by Kristine Fellizar

Sadly, not everyone you meet will have your best interests at heart. Pickup artists, for instance, make a game out of using certain techniques in their dating strategy in order to get targets to have sex with them. Some of these pickup artist tactics can be fairly obvious. But since they can also be effective, it's important to know how to spot them.

Pickup artist techniques became pretty well known after Neil Strauss’s book, The Game: Undercover in the Secret Society of Pick-up Artists, became mainstream over a decade ago. The book, which has been called a “misogynistic pickup manual,” features dangerously manipulative tricks for men looking to get women into bed. In recent years, Strauss himself has called the techniques “objectifying and horrifying.”

"Like narcissists and sociopaths, a pickup artist is all about using and exploiting others for personal gain," dating coach Connell Barrett, tells Bustle. Typically, a pickup artist is a person who studies the art of manipulating women by using sophisticated tactics, lies, and psychological tricks to seduce them.

According to Barrett, a pickup artists see sex as a form of conquest, not connection. "A woman is a 'target,' an interaction is a 'set,' and he'll try to take her to a 'seduction location,'" he says. "There’s nothing wrong with learning to be a better, more confident dater. But it should be about connection, not conquest." Pickup artists are all about the latter.

It's not always easy to tell if someone is being genuine with you or if they truly don't have your best interests at heart. So here are some shockingly effective pickup artist techniques experts say to be aware of.


The Will Gradually Escalate The Touching

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"Pickup artists use a gradually escalating system of physical touching that some call 'kino escalation,'" Barrett says. The idea here is simple enough — a pickup artist will make their intended target comfortable with the idea of getting physical by easing into it and testing your boundaries. For instance, they might start by greeting you with a hug or a high-five. Later on, they'll place a hand on your back or brush the hair out of your eyes.

The main goal here is to get a woman into bed. If that's not something you're interested in, state your boundaries and be firm. Call them out on it. "There’s nothing a pickup artist hates more than getting 'caught' using tricks and techniques," Barrett says. "It’s like kryptonite to them." If you're not completely comfortable calling someone out, you can try brushing off their touches, or you can attempt to leave the situation. Put a little more physical distance between the two of you. Pickup artists use physical escalation to see how far they can go. So if you're not feeling it, they should back off.


They Will Play Up The Charm When You First Meet And Use Tactics Like "The Spin Move"

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Watch out for those folks who, when they meet you, take your hand and twirl you around like you're starting a dance. It may seem like a silly yet suave way to start a date. But according to Barrett, it's a "pick up artist 101 trick" that's used to begin physical escalation. "If you meet someone at a bar or club and they spin you within a minute of meeting you, there’s a good chance they're a pickup artist, or were trained by one." Anytime someone seems "too smooth" or "too good to be true" and it raises red flags, don't ignore it. Your gut feeling may be telling you something really is off.


They'll Pretend To Be Whoever You Need Them To Be

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Similar to sociopaths, Barrett says pickup artists will project a false image of themselves for whatever fits their purpose. Sometimes, they'll do it to hide their insecurities. Other times, they'll do it in order to be whoever they think their target wants them to be. Another trick is acting sweet and romantic as a form of manipulation, Barrett says. "It’s effective because it speaks to what [some people] want: a cool, trustworthy partner to connect with."

They may start this by trying to find things in common, or talking about the future with you, he says. "Some even use 'statements of vulnerability' to amplify the perception that they're sensitive and relatable." According to him, this typically works because many singles are looking for the love and connection that comes with having a partner.


They'll Use "Negging"

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"This is an 'old-school technique' that Neil Strauss, wrote about in The Game and it’s still being taught," Barrett says. A "neg" is a cross between an insult and a compliment. According to him, it’s a line that pickup artists use to lower a woman's self-esteem or to make them self-conscious, and as a result, make her feel compelled to seek validation from him.

"Pay no attention to backhanded compliments or notice if someone crow-bars in comments about your incompatibility as a couple ('You and I would never get along — our personalities are too different')," Barrett says. "These are signs they're trying to 'game' you, rather than genuinely connect with you." In short, someone who likes you won't feel the need to attack your self-esteem.


They'll Use "The Statement Of Empathy"

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This is a phrase that pickup artists use to diffuse a situation when their attempts to get physical makes a target feel uncomfortable. Like narcissists and sociopaths, pickup artists want someone to feel they are empathetic and have the best intentions, Barrett says. That's where the "statement of empathy" comes in. It's a scripted line that's often used right after a pickup artist tries to touch or kiss you, and you're not into it. Some examples include, "Sorry, I'm a big hugger," or "Sorry, I just got caught up in the moment."

This is meant to show that the pickup artist understands how you are feeling, but also offers an excuse that can be forgiven, Barrett says. "It’s meant to build trust, because it supposedly shows that he can read social cues."


They'll Do What They Can To Make You Believe That You're Special

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As psychotherapist Patti Sabla, LCSW, tells Bustle, people who don't have your best interests at heart will successfully charm you by making you feel special and appreciated. "Some enjoy the challenge of trying to get others to do things for them, like making special accommodations or giving them special attention or treatment," Sabla says. "When they get this special treatment, they act totally grateful."

They're likely to keep up the act until they get bored. It's not easy to tell if someone's just using you or being genuine, especially if things are new. So be cautious. "Don't show all of your cards or give someone complete access to your life until they can prove they can be trusted," Sabla says. "Sociopaths and narcissists, for instance, prey on the kind and the weak. You can still be kind, but don't let that kindness turn into weakness."


They'll Flirt With Other People To Try To Make You Jealous

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"In Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence, he talks about the power of social proof to persuade and coerce, and that’s what pickup artists are trying to do," Barrett says. For instance, a pickup artist will flirt with the bartender in front of their date, talk a lot about exes, or tell a made-up story about how they got hit on that day to "prove" their worth. The thinking goes, if many people desire and want them, then anyone should. So just be aware of someone who's trying to play up their desirability.

Unfortunately, there are sketchy people out there who are only looking out for themselves. In order to avoid being manipulated by a pickup artist or anyone who doesn't have your best interest at heart, go with your gut. If something feels off to you, don't ignore it. Always remember, if someone's truly interested in you, they won't need to resort to any of the above tactics.