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And excuse my long answer on this one. When I get going on this topic I can't stop.
Q: M, my sis-in-law began dating a suave, polite, cosmopolitan Englishman recently, and has become quite smitten. My wife received a Facebook note from one of E-man's ex's. She is clearly a vindictive, scorned ex, but she volunteered some alarming and verifiable allegations.
Turns out, this guy is a professional pick-up artist coach -- a Hall of Famer, in fact, according to the website. My wife and I have scoured this site and found blogs by this guy that are absolutely misogynistic -- appalling stuff. Would-be pick-up artists pay thousands to be coached by this guy and others in the science of manipulating women into bed, mostly, and otherwise having their way.
My sis-in-law is "in love" and seems to be willfully dismissing all rational thinking, convincing herself that none of this guy's behavior applies in their relationship. We are extremely frustrated and scared that she is heading for a train wreck with this guy. Any thoughts on how to get her to see the obvious?
– Concerned, Boston
A: Last year, a pick-up artist program called Love Systems allowed me to shadow one of its weekend seminars in Boston and write a column about it. Go ahead and a read that. The experience was as upsetting and weird as I thought it would be.
I got the impression that some of the guys in the program were looking to score with as many women as possible. And by score, I don't even mean sex. Some of them just wanted to prove that they could get phone numbers.
But I also met some students who were simply insecure and totally clueless about how to approach straight women. They told me they wanted to use the Love Systems class to find a long-term partner. They wanted to learn how to show off their best attributes. They believed that spending thousands of dollars on this program was the answer.
So the question is, what kind of guy is your sis-in-law's boyfriend? Did he get involved with the pick-up stuff because he was a shy person looking for a boost? What was his motivation? Was it sex? Power? The misogynist blog posts make me glass-half-empty about his potential, but you never know. Maybe there's a nice geek under that sexy, pick-up exterior. Maybe that geek feels ridiculous about his past.
My advice is to ask him. Tell him that you Googled him and discovered his pick-up history. Ask him what the pick-up experience meant to him. Look interested and friendly when you ask, and allow him to run his mouth -- in front of the sis-in-law.
And remember that in the end, this is up to the sis. If she wants to date a pick-up master, fine. You're just supposed to be there for her if/when it doesn't work out. And if it does work out, you're going to have to learn to be nice. It won't be easy. Someone should offer a seminar for that.
Readers? Should the letter writer ask the sister-in-law's boyfriend about his pick-up past? Anyone want to defend the pick-up routine? Can a former pick-up guy have a respectful relationship? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.