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The State of Seduction

A roundtable of pickup artists, some of whom would definitely not date each other.

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Ink & Oil (2002), by Lars Hübner.  

The Panel:


The seduction community began online with guys sharing tips on how to pick up women in bars. How has the art of the pickup changed with massive online-dating and hookup apps?

Zan Perrion: The reason the seduction community started is there’s a very strong disconnect between men and women. And that shifted into tips on how to get into girls’ pants as opposed to addressing the real need, that men have lost our role in society today. We’re all hyper-connected online and yet we’re fundamentally disconnected.

Ken Hoinsky: The online experience for younger guys is not indicative of the real world; it’s like they’re looking through this distorted mirror. As a woman on a dating site, you are receiving an amount of attention [that is] complete levels of magnitude above what men are experiencing. Nice, good-looking guys are messaging girls and not getting any responses, and over time, they start to think of their self-worth in [terms of] what they’re experiencing online.

Sherrie Schneider: Technology has changed, but the difference between men and women and the dating philosophy does not change. Man has to pursue woman first to be an effective, long-term, monogamous relationship. We help girls who are too much, because with today’s technology they can Facebook a guy and g-chat him and double-text him. A lot of Rules girls thought we were telling them texting wasn’t good, and we had to approach texting like a war and that a guy couldn’t text, he had to call. But we think that however a guy approaches you, don’t be insulted. It’s fine. Text with him. But don’t text all day and all night. Have boundaries.

Arden Leigh: In four or five years of actively dating, I have not dated a man who approached me first. I found that, actually, with my generation, men are shy these days; men are kind of the new women. There have been a lot of guys who’ve told me later, after I approached them, “Yeah I was really interested in you, but, you know, you’re tall, kind of intimidating. I didn’t know what to say, what to do.” [As a woman] you need a proactive strategy that’s not going to come off as desperate, that’s going to come off as fun and confident and be able to create attraction with that person.

Schneider: This is extremely dangerous information.

Hoinsky: The idea that one method works and one method doesn’t work is absurd. Different approaches work for different people.

Schneider: Well, we are women and women want monogamy.

Leigh: Could we not judge monogamy versus polyamory? Because I’m actually incredibly happy being nonmonogamous. As women we should be empowered to have the kind of relationships that we want without that being judged.

How does seduction work in this realm of seamless algorithmic coupling?

Hoinsky: People are using online dating as a crutch, as a replacement for getting out there and developing real social skills in the real world.

Lyons: This is why the concept “pickup artist” should exist, because there are a lot of guys who don’t know how to make online profiles work. Test this yourself: Create two profiles, make them both exactly the same. In one of them put a picture of a hot girl, and the other a hot guy, and do the same with a less attractive girl and a less attractive guy. Send messages out from them and see which one gets the most replies. I get most of my men to create female profiles online to see how men are objectifying women and that’s not really what women want, in order to teach them how to pursue correctly.

Fein: We say that within four e-mails, the guy has to ask you out. The problem with online dating is when people are not following the rules and have these fantasy relationships with guys where you never meet. That’s not a relationship.

Perrion: The younger generation that’s now becoming dating age does not have the same angst that we have. This is the first generation that has grown up 100 percent digital, with cell phones in their hands when they were small, so for them it’s natural to date online. I have a feeling that this new generation is going to reject this whole me-centric, consumer-based, self-help, woe-is-me generation from the nineties. I think they’re going to say, “We don’t need gurus. We’re going to reject all this navel gazing that our parents did.”

Ken, I want to talk about the controversy that came out of your Kickstarter campaign. You used language in the book and on Reddit that was very frank and, some said, “rape-y”—I saw one post about you trying to get a woman to let you “slip the banana in.” But the vitriol only came after you’d put it on Kickstarter and exposed it to a wider audience. What does that say about whether pickup is ready for the mainstream?


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