Best Of The Worst Of Online Dating: Pickup Artists In The Wild

They're the socially inept cretins in stupid hats. And they're all up in your inbox, insinuating that you're ugly while trying to get you to sleep with them.

Earlier this week, we learned how online pickup artists worked. Here are some examples of how its disciples have actually approached girls online.

Of all the ridiculous kinds of men one meets while dating – the “I’m so nice why don’t women like me” guys, the “I spent money on you so why aren’t you putting out” guys, the “Let me tell you all about my emotionally disastrous last relationship” guys – the absolute worst are the Pick-Up Artists (or PUAs). Inspired by the book The Game, and later by a painful VH1 show featuring a man who wore goggles as a headband, PUAs are men who almost universally suffer from some combination of hostility toward women, social awkwardness, basic idiocy, feelings of entitlement, over-sized egos, and under-sized self-awareness (among, um, other under-sized things sometimes). They go to conventions, they hold secret meetings, they often wear stupid hats and they trade sophisticated seduction techniques like approaching a woman in a bar to say, “you have an artless grace” or, "My friend just got two dogs, what should he name them?"

In the world of internet dating, PUAs tend to rely almost exclusively on one of their favorite real-world tactics: The Neg. The purpose of the neg is to make a "target" — what PUAs sweetly call women they want to bang — feel a little bit bad about herself so that she lowers her standards enough to respond to the PUA. Ambiguous insults, like, "Nice nails. Are they real?" or "Are you girls flight attendants?" In real life, a neg may be unnerving enough to merit a response, or at least a furrowed brow. But online? Here's a message one girl received from a budding PUA:

Nice headband, bitch.

This PUA is clearly new. The point of the neg is to be vaguely insulting, not a flame-throwing asshole.

A slightly more experienced PUA shows delivers a more true-to-form, classic neg on another girl:

Just gotta say (no offense)… you have a really cheesy smile…

I like that he plays by elementary school rules — if you say "no offense," then it's ok. And at least he kept his neg succinct and focused on one single flaw.

The next guy, on the other hand, throws all-in:

You nearly have a perfect lack of grace. What happens when you realize only the also ran hotties slum it in brooklyn? Somebody who says they’re not good at being surface and rattles off a list of authors read mostly in high school english classes is nothing but surface. Your profile is among the most trite and cliche i’ve come across. which is a compliment of sorts, though keep in mind, you’re not in kansas anymore. You know who else won’t deal with a narcissist? just look in the mirror to find the answer: another narcissist.

The sublime, ironic beauty of negs is that they rarely make any sense — either because the PUA is intentionally trying to confuse you, or, more commonly, because the PUA community is basically a national fraternity for the feeble-minded, so you are very possibly talking to a moron. Like this nice young gentleman, who I imagine believes that some woman might respond to this:

Lol, you look like a space commando

Luckily, one feature of PUAs is that they always reveal themselves. They get caught in their own web of lies, or they use the same tactic one too many times, or they just forget that most women do know how to read and may have perused The Game themselves and gotten hip to the neg. Whatever the case, when facing down a woman with at least two braincells and the ability to rub them together, the PUA nearly always flames out, bless his little heart.

Check out this exchange between a PUA and a prospective "target," which basically wraps up everything that's wrong PUAs in a nice tidy package that reeks of Axe and Natty Light:

Him: how are you?

Him: wait, I am confused

Him: nevermind

Her: what?

Him: I was just checking out your pictures, and I was wondering whether you’re pre or post-op

Her: hahahaha

Her: the only op i’ve had is on my tonsils

Her: i’m post op

Him: what’s so funny ma’am?

Him :oh

Him: or shall I say..sir

Him: sorry, my brain is confused.

Her: you think i look like a transsexual?

Him: how am i supposed to answer this question

Him: I’d really rather not say.


Him: can we re-start this entire thing say..tomorrow?

Her: haha why’s that?

Him: the next time I see you online, I will send you a message

Him: but

Him: pretend we have never talked before

Him: err chatted

Her: will do

Him: ok good

Him: alright, bye for now

Her: bye

The Next Day:

Him: Hello

Her: hi

Him: how’s it going?

Her: slowly

Her: you?

Him: pretty great

Him: nice photos

Her: thank you

Him: when is the due date?

If you've got your own online dating horror stories, drop them below, or submit them anonymously.

The A(n)nals of Online Dating is a weekly column about How We Date Now, from the proprietor of the website of the same name, showing the best of the worst internet dating has to offer.

Illustration by Dan Blackman

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