Come on, men - don't waste your money on Julien Blanc

If you want to succeed with women, listen to what women have to say

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The Independent Online

Every woman has a collection of pick-up-line stories gone wrong. My mate Jenny’s are legendary. Her best one is the time a guy approached her in a bar by grabbing her hand, rubbing it passionately and whispering in her ear “I love your fat fingers”. Needless to say she wasn’t impressed. However I’ve got a lot of sympathy for guys trying to impress a girl. Approaching someone new is scary and it’s tough when you are rejected so no one’s against anyone seeking a little bit of guidance. But men, don’t go to so-called Pick Up Artists like Julien Blanc, there’s just something not quite right there.

PUA’s aren’t a new phenomenon, in the 1999 film Magnolia Tom Cruise plays a narcissistic misogynist PUA who eventually breaks down when he realises what a terribly sad man he is. “These methods are linked to antisocial traits and narcissism” Dr Anna Fryer, Consultant Psychiatrist told me. Tom knows it, I know it, I think we all know it, so why do men flock to Blanc and co? The lack of alternatives.

PUA make money from vulnerable, insecure guys who have no where else to get advice. Dr Fryer tells me there are probably two groups attracted to PUAs: “One who is attracted to it as a person lacking empathy, callous, egocentric, people with abnormal personality traits. The other is probably a vulnerable group who are being exploited by these PUAs.” This is the group I am interested in.

If we don’t like Blanc’s methods we need to provide an alternative for the insecure, unconfident men out there who want to meet women and are ending up handing over their cash for bad advice, out of sheer desperation. We need some feminist, psychologically sound, do’s and don’t. We need to tell men what we want, because clearly some of them have no idea.

Jean Smith is a Social and Cultural Anthropologist as well as the founder of Flirtology. Some of her clients have previously tried Pick Up Artist and it’s failed. “They say it didn’t resonate with them, it felt awkward and it doesn’t feel right to treat women like objects.” Fundamentally, Chaps, Blanc can’t help you get women. He’s not only a misogynist, he’s stupid, because there is no “formula”. No ‘if you do this, then she’ll do that’. “The best flirts” says Smith “are able to be adaptable to the different people they encounter.”

Smith noticed that men started acting strangely when the book The Game came out about ten years ago. “I remember I was riding an escalator on a tube and this guy came up to me and said ‘Can I ask you a question about a business I’m thinking of opening?’” She thought she’d see where it was going and it soon became obvious that he was making the whole thing up. “I’m all up for starting up friendly conversations in the context of where you are, but they (PUAs) treat it as a game and so it’s not very genuine.”

Why do PUAs continue to be successful? Just like with pyramid schemes, timeshares, and evangelical healers, they don’t offer up the majority of cases where it doesn’t work. And, maybe more importantly, Smith explains “society pushes men in the direction of PUAs by saying they will be happy if they are able to fearlessly approach women.” That’s the role expected of them.

Even though there is supposed to be no stigma attached to a woman asking a man out society is still stuck in the past. Smith’s female clients number one question is whether it’s ok to ask a guy out. This plays into the PUA mantra that men are hunters, which if you’ve ever gone round Ikea with a bloke looking for a specific shelving unit you will know not to be the case.

We need to rid ourselves of these neandethal notions. The Flirtologists advice for both guys and girls? “Observe if they’re open to it. Then have it be casual. Stand next to them and ask a natural question in the context, not weird or random. If they are open continue, if not then stop”. No formula. No choking. No hunting.

Most of my male friends have never gone to a PUA or read The Game, not because they are all super cool and confident, but because they accept nerves and rejection as a normal part of the process of getting to know people, that and the magical relaxing properties of beer. Clearly us women need to raise our own pulling skills and share some of the burden of the approach. But chaps if you’re feeling anxious, and you really need some help and advice, don’t go to these pick up guys, ask a woman, we know what women really want and that’s for you to treat us like humans.