When I’d slept with 50 girls, I thought: ‘S***. I’ve become a parody of myself’. I’d become that stereotypical pick-up artist (PUA) who is constantly looking to get laid.
I didn’t want to be that guy. I tried seeing the same girl for a few weeks – but the relationship ended and I went straight back into PUA. The truth is I enjoyed myself. It’s so good to know that you can go out and have sex on the same night that someone breaks up with you.
I’m 24, and I’ve now slept with 69 girls, but it’s about quality, not quantity, for me: I don’t believe there’s a perfect ten, but there are definitely some nines, and I’ve slept with a handful of them. For anyone interested, I’d rate myself a 6.5 – I used to be a 7 but I’ve aged badly.
I first came across PUA when I was 15, but I didn’t get into it seriously until I was 19. I was going through some difficult times in my gap year, and because I’d gone to an all-boys’ school I didn’t know many girls. PUA helped me break the ice with women.
By the time I got to my first year at university, I was smashing it. I was sleeping with women all the time, and I made some friends who were also interested in PUA.
I was into being “cocky funny”, which is basically about being arrogant enough to get girls interested, but in an entertaining way. My friends were into other schools of PUA, like Neil Strauss’ The Game, and we would talk about this stuff all the time.
At this point I was doing a lot of “negging”, which is giving a girl a back-handed compliment. For example, if she’s someone who normally seems to spend a lot of time on her hair, you might comment on her “natural look.” You have to play on their insecurities a bit, and I was kinda good at that.
This is what most early PUA is about. A lot of it is gimmicky, but some of the techniques were good. Like ‘reverse peacocking’. Peacocking is when you dress up a lot to attract a girl’s attention, and a lot of PUAs do it by wearing really loud clothing. But I went the other way. I would wear deliberately s*** clothes and just own it.
One time I was walking down the high street in some gross jogging bottoms and a T-shirt that had been stained in the wash. I passed this really, really beautiful girl, and thought I wasn’t going to let her keep walking. So I stopped her and spoke to her, and it went from there.
At one point in my fourth year at uni, my dad offered to send me to a psychiatrist, which I thought was hilarious. I just didn’t see why people would be in a relationship for the sake of it. I’d meet girls anywhere: in a club, on the street, in the library, wherever. Some would turn me down, but a really big thing for me was learning not to let rejection get to me.
By now I knew that the game’s deeper philosophy – creating and seizing opportunities, overcoming limiting beliefs like thinking you’re too fat or too short to attract girls, overcoming rejection – was more worthwhile than the gimmicks.
I was never into scripted conversations, which a lot of PUAs use. Stuff like the cube routine, where you ask a girl to imagine a cube in various ways such that you can infer useful stuff about her personality. It seems too artificial to me. Do you remember what the first words you said to your friends were? No. You have to be more spontaneous. I had the best opening lines at university, but they were always situational.
Let me give you an example. Last year, after I’d had a job at a bank and quit, I took myself on a world tour. I was in Los Angeles airport, and there was this absolute scorcher. I asked her to look after my guitar while I went to the toilet.
It was a bit naughty, because I’d slept with another girl earlier that day, but it worked and we got talking. We were in a relationship for six months after that. I don’t do stuff like buy cards or flowers on Valentine’s Day, because it’s commercialised and clichéd, but I wasn’t sleeping with anyone else, which is rare.
I ended it because there was too much emotional pressure to do stuff like block on Facebook all the girls I’d slept with before the relationship, even though I never cheated. It wasn’t great, and I took a while to get over it.
But you get back into the game quickly, and I’ve had some pretty good times out of it. Once I got talking to a girl at a club in Oxford, and it turned out she was the girlfriend of the guy who ran the place. We had sex and I was barred from the club.
Another time I was flying home from Australia, and the plane was pretty empty apart from me and this girl. I asked her about her journey, we started playing cards, we kissed, and then she asked me if I wanted to join the Mile-High Club.
Rarely being turned down actually began to mess with my mind a bit, and I started to realise that being a player wasn’t an amazing endgame. When I’m dying, I don’t want to tell my son or daughter to ‘please inscribe on my gravestone that I slept with 243 girls’.
I probably wouldn’t describe myself as a PUA now. It used to dominate my life in quite a sick way, but I just don’t really live the philosophy anymore. I don’t really neg now and I’m not as interested as I was in the binary between alpha males and betas. Alphas get what they want, and betas are guys who show their feelings and look weak, but I’m not so into that anymore.
I still like meeting women I’m into, though, and I will always speak to someone I’m interested in, even if she’s got headphones on. I go by the three-second rule: if you see someone you like, don’t hesitate, or you’ll look like a beta. I don’t have any big regrets with being a PUA apart from the times when I didn’t try and kiss a girl just in case something was on.
One criticism of PUAs I often hear is that it’s fake, but it’s no more fake than a girl putting on three inches of make-up. It’s not harassment just to speak to somebody, and I categorically haven’t done anything illegal. PUA isn’t about taking women’s agency away, it’s about making yourself a better partner. If someone says no, that’s fine. It’s like getting a cold call. You just say: “F*** off” and I leave you alone.