Should I Stay With My Boyfriend If He’s a Pick-Up Artist?

Should I Stay With My Boyfriend If He's A Pick-up Artist?

Hello Evan,

I’ve been exclusively dating a nice guy for almost eight months now. We’ve had good times together and he is always there for me when I need him. The thing is, before he met me, he was very promiscuous. (I don’t have a lot of dating experience.) He’s very into how men attract women and how they market themselves on the dating scene. When we watch movies with a relationship plotline, he takes care to tell me what the man is doing right/wrong. He wishes to have a motivational speaking career or a relationship counseling career when he graduates.

What bothers me is that he wants to teach guys how to attract women. The worst thing is that he says he wants to practice picking up women and getting numbers in order to be able to teach them. He says he’s not going to use the numbers or anything but he wants to practice so he can teach others and so he gains credibility as an attraction expert. He asked me if that was OK with me. I’m not stupid, and this bothers me a lot. He’s told me that he’s not going to do it since it bothers me, but this is the 3rd time he’s asked this question. He told me not to tell my friends that he asked the question, because they would probably think it was weird. I want to know how or IF I can get him to curb his flirtatious ways.  I’ve explained to him how important it is to me but he doesn’t seem to get it. I want our relationship to work. Is he just not a one-woman man?


Wow, Jen. This is a question that could NOT have been asked five years ago.

Suddenly, lifetime virgins realize that all it takes to have a little “game” is a decent opening line and the confidence to fail. It’s a lesson, frankly, that EVERYBODY should learn. If only more people were as proactive as the PUAs, there’d be a lot more action and a lot less complaining out there.

Thanks to the emergence of the pick-up artist (PUA) community, there’s an entire subculture devoted to the very pursuits that fascinate your boyfriend. And, really, it IS fascinating, from a psychological perspective. A group of socially awkward men have learned, through trial and error, the SCIENCE of attracting women. In order to arrive at these techniques, they go out frequently to refine what works and what doesn’t, before reporting back to their online communities.

Pathetic? Maybe. Effective? Definitely.

Suddenly, lifetime virgins realize that all it takes to have a little “game” is a decent opening line and the confidence to fail. It’s a lesson, frankly, that EVERYBODY should learn. If only more people were as proactive as the PUAs, there’d be a lot more action and a lot less complaining out there. Of course, the problem is that some men turn this pursuit into a sport, a hobby and an obsession all rolled into one. And if you’re the girlfriend of one of these guys, watch out. It’s hard to feel secure when your boyfriend is picking up on other women, if only to further his “career”…

You describe your boyfriend as a “nice guy.” Some readers might be skeptical, but I believe you, if only because I’m also a “nice guy” who found a career as a dating coach. I’m fascinated with male-female dynamics and the universality of all these dating questions, and can talk about it endlessly with whomever will listen.

But what’s different about what I do and what your boyfriend wants to do is this:

I’ve dated a few hundred people, written a couple of books, and coached thousands of people to dating success. If I never go on another date or see the inside of a club again, I would be THRILLED.

Timing is everything when it comes to relationships.

Your boyfriend, in order to be taken seriously as an expert, still feels that he has to do “field work.” His journey is just beginning. And while he cares about you, he’s equally passionate about his new “career.” That creates a push/pull dynamic that is not going away any time soon. If he stops his pursuit of pick-up artist mastery, he will feel resentful of you. If he continues – even if it’s genuinely in the spirit of research – you’ll feel resentful of him. Either way, one of you is making a sizable compromise that you don’t really want to make.

Which is why it’s hard to feel optimistic for you, Jen. Timing is everything when it comes to relationships. Catch this same guy in a few years and maybe he’s burnt out on The Game. But for now, he seems intent on trying to have his cake and eat it, too. Thus, you have two choices: stick around and trust that, in fact, everything your boyfriend is doing is purely research for his career, or get the hell out.

Before you do either of those things, I’d suggest a real heart-to-heart. No woman wants to make a man choose between her and a career, but few women are confronted with a career that is so very threatening. Perhaps there’s a third path where he can continue to grow his relationship skills (like, say, having a dating blog) without being a PUA. If so, I hope you guys can find a good compromise. Let us know.

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  1. 61
    Cathouse Teri

    It does seem to me that if a man wants to know how to attract a woman, he should ask a woman. But what do I know, eh?

    I always do my best to encourage men to feel confident about approaching women. This is why, during the times I am single, I always say yes when asked out, or when asked to dance, etc. I’ve never understood why a woman would say no to these things. It’s not like he’s asking you to marry him! Men seem to have to overcome the huge hurdle of rejection and I figure if he’s gotten up the nerve to ask, the least I can do is say yes!

    I say, if you like a woman, ask her out. It ain’t fuckin rocket science!

  2. 62

    Always a pleasure! Your stories, including the racy articles keep people coming back. You know your audience and you keep em. It’s like being in a mall and you’re the one sitting in the plastic chairs sipping soda, having fun talking with your multitude of friends while lecturing on something, and not the guy with the microphone talking to no one and everyone hoping that someone’s listening and willing to buy a product.

    On topic:
    Everyone should have that person to guide them through a difficult thing. The girlfriend should consider her BF’s work noble if he works to teach dating to men who would otherwise have gone down the drain called inferiority complex had he not had tutelage. Having issues with your BF being a PUA or a mentor of men could be a self-doubt issue and not exactly the guy’s fault. That he met dozens of women and yet still chose to fall in love with you means you’re the best right? Keep that thought alive whenever he goes out to do what he does best.

    About sex. it’s just sex til you make an issue of it (you get attached or one gets too attached), and when that happens, it becomes a big thing. Dating could sometimes mean one-night-stands and/or quickies that don’t mean anything. Preaching about relationships without acknowledging the possibility that both parties could just be after the quick fix and nothing more is more emotionally damaging to a learner than starting the tutelage with that possibility, and THEN preaching about what happens when that flame becomes the heat that warms them for a lifetime.

  3. 63

    Brian, post 57.

    I don’t think the PUA thing is a smoke screen, but I would agree that it is not the main topic, which is Jenn’s feeling of discomfort.

    Scumbags and ignorant marketing aside I don’t think there is anything wrong with PUAs or their teachings.

    Jenn’s boyfriend may be 100% trustworthy, but I think it is pretty straight forward that most people would feel discomfort by having a relationship partner practicing eliciting the sexual/romantic interests of others. Whether the partner is a PUA, the female equivalent, or a boy/girlfriend who simply flirts too much. Some rare individuals can handle that and more power to them. For the rest of us mortal human beings it is reasonable to expect discomfort.

    IMHO Jenn should move on and her boyfriend should accept it without taking it personally as it isn’t about him, it is about his situation.

  4. 64

    post #59

    ..I have heard women say that some men are real snakes, you give these men an inch and they will take a mile…

  5. 65
    Cute Redhead

    Jen, my concerns about the PUA boyfriend are 1) he’s calling picking up women a career (most careers I know of lead to financial solvency) and 2) let’s say it is a “career,” what kind of future is he building here? I mean, is this the kind of job he’s going to be doing at 60? This is his life’s aspiration, to continue for all his days to be able to get a phone number from some chick in the supermarket?

  6. 66
    Mike Stoute

    btw, everyone..

    I am pretty sure this is not my Jenn, crazy coincidence though, plus I am in no way a PUA or self help guru..

  7. 67

    Mike Stoute Jun 21st 2008 at 05:14 pm 66
    btw, everyone..
    I am pretty sure this is not my Jenn, crazy coincidence though, plus I am in no way a PUA or self help guru..

    Well, that is confusing. First you thought you were the boyfriend in Jenn’s letter to Evan because the situation fit yours. Jenn’s boyfriend is an aspiring PUA who wanted to continue dating her while practicing charming women into giving him their phone numbers.

    Then you had an exchange with Evan in the comments above about your PUA site.

    Now you are claiming not to be a PUA at all?

  8. 68

    I find this discussion about PUA’s very interesting. And I have lots of thoughts. First of all, I’d challenge the assumption that seeking a long term relationship is somehow a loftier, more noble and better goal than just seeking to have sex. Why is one goal better than the other? They don’t have to be — they are just different. Sometimes you want a relationship and sometimes you just want sex.

    From what I can gather, it seems that people don’t like PUA’s because their process seems to be manipulative. I will confess that I don’t know a whole lot about PUA’s and what they do and how they do it, but in the quest for a long term “relationship,” I know that a whole bunch of experts tell us to devise strategies for what works and what doesn’t work all of which could be described as manipulative if we want to be brutally honest with ourselves. So, when someone says, fudge on your age in order to fall within the search parameters of more people, but list your true age in your profile, that’s being manipulative. Or, when women are told on a first date, offer to pay — even if you don’t really want to, in order to increase your chances of having a second date, that’s being manipulative. Or when people are told to suppress parts of their true character in order to get a second date, I think that’s being manipulative too. Now one might say that those tactics aren’t such big deals or all that bad. Maybe not, but the point is that when you don’t tell the truth (or hide it) to get someone to do something that you want, that’s manipulation.

    Someone mentioned that they didn’t like the idea that PUA’s use women as specimens to gather information and test theories. Well, the fact is, the whole process of dating with the goal of a long term relationship is to collect information and to understand what works and what doesn’t — just the way a PUA does. The difference could be that many people seeking a long term relationship don’t go on a date expressly for practice, but you know what? Some people do. So, to me the real issue is that many people just don’t like that it appears the primary goal of PUA’s is to have sex. I actually think that woman are less sympathetic to this goal because the fact is that for most women who are half way attractive, with a half way decent personality, getting sex is simply not a problem/not difficult for us. What is more difficult for some of us is getting a boyfriend and relationship. But for some men, getting sex isn’t very easy at all. In the past, I’ve never had much understanding or sympathy for what a man’s sex drive really means and how it feels. For me, sex was like icing on the cake….a pleasant extra, but not critical. I think for many men, sex IS the CAKE. I really didn’t understand how intense a sex drive can be until I turned 40 — and didn’t have a boyfriend. TMI here, but as the proportion of testosterone increased in my body, I was walking around highly aroused all the time. I pretty much thought about sex all the time, and I pretty much thought about having sex with every attractive man I saw. And, I think the intensity of my drive was just a fraction of what some men might feel. So, now, I’m much more understanding of what some men go through.

    Although it’s so much easier to say than do, we would all be better if we could overcome our fears and be honest. In seeking our goals — whether it’s a long term relationship or sex, if we could just show us as who we and ask for what we really want, the the people who don’t like us and don’t want to give us what we want, can move on, but the people that do like us and do want to give us what we want, can stay! How beautiful would that be?

  9. 69
    Mike Stoute

    Eda, Awesome post.. You rock!

    @Steve i am just a popular guy in the niche, the term pua is thrown around loosely for anyone in the community these days. I am just a guy who likes sharing experiences and blogging! 🙂

  10. 70

    Evan, I think you missed saying something crucial to her question, (although you likely covered it in other topics) so let me just say this:

    NO, YOU CANNOT “CURB” A GUY’S FLIRTATIOUS WAYS and make this relationship what you want it to be. Period. He will not change just because you want him to. Millions of women over the eons have already entertained a similar fantasy. It generally ends up in anger and frustration for both genders.

    Hopefully you have some male friends to ask — for a reality check. I got some of my best relationship and dating advice from them — especially from the players. The overwhelming advice was this: “No you can’t change us; and why would you think that anyway? Oh right, you’re special. We forgot.”

    Besides that, here are some other big red flags:

    1. He hasn’t graduated yet from school, so he’s likely to be in his early twenties, right? This isn’t an age in which guys like to settle down; so even if he isn’t “using” the phone numbers he gets in his “field work,” he’s likely to put them on the back burner.

    2. Where does the field work end? Just in getting the phone number? Of course not. If some hapless guy needs your boyfriend’s help getting phone #s, then certainly there are more steps that will need to be covered: how to get that first kiss and that second date; how to get a girl in bed; how to play the odds and juggle multiple women, etc. etc.

    3. Obviously you’re not comfortable with this venture, but he keeps asking. Persistent little bugger. Sounds like he has a tendency to sweet talk or wheedle you into agreeing with him. Tell the guy you’d like to do your own PUA research from a female perspective, and see what he has to say.

    Call me jaded, but I just don’t believe the guy.

  11. 71

    to Eda,

    on post #68, “but for some men getting sex isn’t very easy at all.”

    I think a more accurate statement is, “For most men, getting sex isn’t very easy, at all.” LOL!

    No man on earth will get married if sex comes easy for him!…….

    Interestingly, on the same note, at a singles seminar, a female therapist, yells at the mostly female audience, “C’mon ladies, men make more love to themselves, than they do to us”….

  12. 72
    Cathouse Teri

    Hunter, that doesn’t make any sense. Don’t you know that when you get married the sex stops? 😉

  13. 73

    to cathouse,

    Ha, ha, ha!…How funny!….I am sorry it went sexless….

  14. 74
    Cute Redhead

    So what I read here is that guys are only out to get sex, guys only get married to have a ready supply of sex available to them, and all these PUA techniques are about getting sex. All this talk just reinforces the stereotype that men are dogs, have no feelings, and are relationship clods. Just for the record. So if all of you who support this view have a hard time finding a relationship when you’re ready to settle down b/c no woman wants to deal with your baggage — stop and think a minute about how you have presented yourself and what your past treatment of women says about you.

    On that score, who says we’re all out there lying to manipulate someone into a relationship? I don’t lie or misrepresent myself, and I am vetting the guys I’m going out with now, paying strict attention to the level of honesty each guy demonstrates. And I’m not having sex with any of them. It’s very social and very fun and I genuinely like these guys I’m dating.

    And personally I don’t care if guys are out there hooking up and “making love to themselves” — I mean, if that isn’t what I want and that is what they want, surely we will not be compatible. But pretty much when a person, man or woman, wants a relationship they cut out the PUA/hook up activity. Because everyone knows that casual sexual liaisons are not the stuff of a lasting relationship and you can’t manipulate someone into a good relationship with you.

    Picking up is not the same thing as going the distance. Usually very soon after the pickup there is the drop and bolt.

  15. 75

    to Cute Redhead,

    on post #71, and according to her the only reason men marry, is because, if we don’t, someone else will!…….LOL!..

  16. 76

    on post #74,

    ..Maybe most men are dogs,…..most dogs can be trained….so I am told….

  17. 77
    The Reverend Terence Fformby-Smythe

    Women just love guys who come on to them, get their numbers and never call. Oh yeah. Great research project if you don’t care who you might hurt.
    So what? It is better than being a virgin, that is for sure!

  18. 78
    Cathouse Teri

    Hunter ~ You silly goose. I wasn’t talking about ME! Marriage is not for me. And I certainly never have a sexless life.

    But perhaps you haven’t been around enough to hear married men lament over the lack of sex in their lives?

    I am quite positive that sex is not the reason men get married.

  19. 79

    Re: #77
    “Women just love guys who come on to them, get their numbers and never call. Oh yeah. Great research project if you don’t care who you might hurt.”

    “So what? It is better than being a virgin, that is for sure!”

    How is it better? Guys who get numbers, but never call are the ones most likely to REMAIN virgins. God, how dumb.

  20. 80

    #78 –

    The lament by married guys is that they had tons of great sex (with their now-wife) before marriage, but then it dries up soon after nuptials.

    To paraphrase, they are complaining of a bait-and-switch.

  21. 81
    Cathouse Teri

    Of course they are complaining about the bait-and-switch. And rightly so. Many reasons why it happens. Zero reasons why it should be tolerated.

  22. 82


    How true, men hope women won’t change their way of being, women are out to make changes in a mans’ life..

  23. 83

    re# 80-82
    While some men apparently perceive declining passion as bait-and-switch, I believe this interpretation has something to do with lack of knowledge about relationship dynamics.
    In the good old times, the honeymoon used to take place after nuptials…

  24. 84
    Cathouse Teri

    So, cinnamon, your argument is that if sex were to be patiently anticipated and experienced after the wedding there wouldn’t be this problem with sexless marriages?

    That there wouldn’t be this great pre-wedded passion to compare it to, so no troubling lack perceived?

    I’d like to see you back up that argument.

  25. 85

    Aren’t we off-topic?

    And cinn, how would I do a sitcom about pua? Know nothing of it/them…

  26. 86

    Way off topic………

    See how simple that answer is ? Next question.

  27. 87

    # 84
    You misread my message.
    By referring to the honeymoon, I wanted to say that the initial stages of a sexual relationship are typically the most passionate ones. Marriage or not.
    In times where marriage marked the start of a sexual relationship, it was the period just after marriage that was apparently perceived as the sweetest one, thus honeymoon.
    Wiki refers to the Merriam-Webster dictionary which reports the etymology of the expression as coming from “the idea that the first month of marriage is the sweetest” (sorry, Wiki is not a scientific resource, but quick).
    People who are successful in their relationships tend to say that it requires some work to keep it alive. Infatuation just happens out of the blue and so it wanes.

    I’ve done some reading since the topic started, and I just think there is plenty of comic material in it 🙂

  28. 88

    To Cinnamon:

    Way off topic, but I couldn’t help responding to your “honeymoon” reference. According to the history of mead (honey wine), the term “honeymoon” supposedly comes from the ancient tradition of plying the newlyweds with mead for an entire month (moon), while they try to conceive a child.

    Back on topic: I vote for dumping the dude. People can argue about whether it’s ethical for the guy to be a PUA in a relationship — and maybe so — but the girl clearly doesn’t want him to do that. So the relationship (if one can even call it that) is doomed. Why prolong it?

  29. 89
    Cute Redhead

    Yeah, dump him. It’s hard to imagine him sticking around very long anyway, out there as he is, presenting himself as available and collecting numbers of presumably available women. And if he does stick around it’s hard to imagine him being faithful. Sounds like an icky drama in the making. Too many red flags. When someone wants to be in a relationship s/he goes the distance to make the partner feel secure and avoids even the appearance of impropriety. And Jen clearly has bad feelings about it or she wouldn’t be asking. At the least this dude is highly insensitive to her feelings. Maybe she just needs some support to give him the boot. Or maybe she needs to start her own PUA “business,” collect a bunch of numbers, and find a new guy — all in the name of researching the many ways to leave your lover. (I do have to add that I found the part about her boyfriend wanting a career in “relationship counseling” pretty amusing. I think he would benefit from her research on how to leave a relationship.)

  30. 90

    to Cute Redhead #89

    …Are there really many ways to leave your lover?…..It used to be 50 ways to leave your lover. Just slip out the back jack, make a new plan stan, don’t need a decoy Roy, just listen to me….

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