By Dan Teano 
Lifestyle Editor

What’s the best pickup line you’ve ever heard or used? Maybe it’s just me, but I think, “Can I get your number?” isn’t so great anymore.

Believe it or not, there are hundreds of coaches on YouTube who teach guys how to do “pickup.” On the surface, this seems like a very strange topic. After all, is it really necessary to learn strategies, tactics, or rules before talking to someone you really like? Is it even morally right to treat attraction as a game?

It is strange. In fact, there shouldn’t have to be any “lines” or “step-by-step formulas” we have to follow in order to attract someone else. Real attraction ought to come naturally, not skillfully through the mastery of canned pick up lines. Nevertheless, attraction (i.e. a reciprocity of romantic or sexual interest) seems hard to come by. If you go to any bar or club, there’s always a tribe of guys standing awkwardly by the bar, calculating when to smoothly ease their way into a conversation. From an outsider’s perspective, the plight of these guys appears miniscule.

“Just extend your hand, introduce yourself, and ask her the first question that comes to mind,” we tell ourselves before approaching someone. As with all things, though, this is easier said than done. In the moment, we have absolutely no idea what to say. We’re scared of saying the wrong line, coming on too strong, or worse, getting rejected in front of all her friends. To help us guys feel like we know what we’re doing, it might be necessary for us to learn proper “game.” While the word “game” connotes deception, realize this: we all play some “game” whether we realize it or not.

What “game” do we usually play? The “game” most of us like to play is acting busier and more high value than we actually are. We like to show low interest initially, just so that the other person knows that we’re so high-status, we don’t chase anyone—and yes, both men and women play this game. While playing this role can boost your self-esteem dramatically, doing so for too long can actually have a long-term adverse effect. Namely, when we convince ourselves we don’t like someone we actually do, then over time, we can easily mistake independence with coldheartedness or a forgotten inability to connect with another human being.

So the right question isn’t “should we learn ‘game,’” but “which ‘game’ should we learn?” In search for an answer, I skimmed several YouTube videos from sought-after dating coaches. To my surprise, their content was actually valuable.

Contrary to what you might think, none of them teach you the best opening line, or how to do your hair, or which style of dress girls find more attractive. Instead, they teach you the deeper truths about what it means to be attractive. For instance, these coaches stress the concepts of developing presence through meditation, finding your purpose and being grounded in it, and above all, taking ownership over your life and correcting whatever isn’t fully satisfying you.

You might think a guy is creepy for learning “pick up,” but really, a guy is more likely to be creepy if he doesn’t learn it at all. Think about this; what’s creepier: a guy laughing candidly with a girl, or, a guy who stares indefinitely at a girl he wants to talk to, but he doesn’t feel adequate enough because he hasn’t found his purpose yet—so, after three mixed drinks at the bar, he finally talks to the girl, but he has to say some rehearsed line to compensate for the fact that he isn’t confident just being himself?

Lastly, if you think “game” is misogynistic or objectifying of women, I challenge you to see the irony in that belief. Canned lines or pre-rehearsed banter do not work because women are not stupid. If you think there’s some “cheat code” or magic trick that can hack the female brain and get anyone laid instantly, then you’re severely underestimating a woman’s capability to think rationally, act critically, and judge appropriately.

If you’re interested in learning “pick up,” realize that the end goal isn’t to sleep with whoever you want, whenever you want. Instead, the end goal is to improve and accept yourself to the point that you are so proud of who you are, you can’t help but to introduce yourself with others.

The Elm

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