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What a (reformed) pickup artist taught me about modern dating

Posted by Karyn Polewaczyk  September 4, 2013 11:45 AM

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A few months ago, I wrote about my run-in with an area pickup artist (or PUA) and in short, advised readers to avoid them. My post caught the attention of Love System’s founder Nick Savoy (a reformed pickup artist turned relationship coach), whose team reached out to me last month with a challenge to prove wrong my conceptions of the pickup community, insisting that most PUAs are just “normal men looking for love.” I accepted their duel, scheduled a call with Nick (who’s been featured on the likes of the Today Show, Dr. Phil, the Tyra Banks Show, Ask Men and Playboy, among many others), and prepared to throw down the gauntlet.

Turns out, my opinion did shift—especially after reading his new book, It’s Your Move: How to Play the Game and Win the Man You Want, which Savoy describes as “the ultimate guide for helping women get what they truly want”—and in fact, I found myself hooked on Savoy’s no-nonsense, no-holds-barred straight talk. Like: dress to make the most of your figure. Maintain your independence and opinions, interests and friends, no matter what stage of dating you’re in. And seriously, ladies: if a man is interested in you, he’ll do the approaching, the texting, the calling, and the date planning. If he’s not? He won’t.

Intrigued? Keep reading to learn why the new rules are not as complicated as you might think—and to pick up a few tips of your own when it comes to success with the opposite sex.

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Despite my initial thoughts—the pickup artistry is trickery and manipulative—a lot of what you present in your book is really just common sense. In some ways, the “game,” as you call it, is really about putting your best self forward, and enjoying things as they progress.

When we first spoke, I asked how you’d define “manipulative.” If a woman puts on makeup, is that manipulative? If I’m on a date and I whine about my ex-girlfriend and while you’re in the bathroom, a guy at the next table tells me I shouldn’t—and when you return, I change the subject thanks to a behavior modification—is that manipulative? They’re not; and Love Systems [the company Savoy founded in 2006] doesn’t teach stuff that’s super manipulative because it’s not necessary. Just don’t lie. It benefits someone way more if you’re honest about what you want, whether it’s a long-term relationship or marriage or a one-night stand (I have no ethical problems with men or women who want that). We simply give guys the tools to make the most of their lives: their health and fitness, a quality social life, building confidence. Think of it like your first day in a new high school. A lot of what we’re doing is trying to help people navigate that. Some women want to be seduced. It doesn’t mean lied to. It doesn’t mean manipulated. We’re just trying to help both men and women.

One of the biggest takeaways I got from the book is that if a heterosexual man is truly interested in a heterosexual woman (and as you suggest in the book, that a woman has situated herself correctly), he’ll do the approaching, and the following up. It seems old fashioned, yet it makes sense—and, as a woman, I feel like it takes a load off of my shoulders, even though some might disagree that playing hard to get is for the birds.

All things being equal, if we’re talking about a generic man and a generic woman, men are the ones who will—and will want to—do the approaching. It’s about creating opportunities rather than a power struggle. Women can make just as much effort creating these opportunities [see below for specific examples about what this means; Terri Trespicio calls it "happening" to a guy]. You’ve got to recognize that sometimes, your instincts might lead you astray—but once you understand these instincts, and start listening to them intuitively, it’ll get easier. It’s about practice (and having fun with it).

What are some things you see men—and women—doing wrong when they’re trying to approach people at, say, a bar?

With men, one of the biggest issues we see are the guys who circle around women like sharks, Compare that to a guy who regardless if he’s nervous just walks right up to a woman. While women want to be seduced, they don’t want to be preyed upon. With women, while I personally think being direct can be very attractive, some men find it to be too aggressive, even loopy. It’s unfortunate, because what you’re describing is a woman who’s very confident in herself and goes for what she wants, but that’s the association most men make. We all make associations in life.

What do you suggest that does work, then?

First, I’d say that there’s no secret sauce or one perfect tip—there’s a million things you can do, and we treat each person like an individual; and, regardless of gender, we encourage our clients to be as interesting as they are interested, and to empower themselves.

We teach guys interesting conversation starters. Like, “Hey, do you think my buddy over there should grow a mustache?” Or, “Excuse me, there’s no talking and laughing here, it’s a library.” Starters that are funny, engaging, different, interesting, so that you’re not the 100th guy of the night to ask, “What’s up? Do you come here often?”

I tell women to structure opportunities for men to take advantage of. How do you make it easier for him to talk to you? There’s a continuum there. Be subtle. Make eye contact. Place yourself in his line of sight. If you’re a guy, and a random woman comes up to you, it’s rare enough that the guy knows there’s a door there. Give him a compliment. At that point, if he’s interested, he should drive the bus.

Also, I want to add this: women say they don’t want players, and yet their attention often goes to the guys who seem most at ease and are working the room with confidence. Guys who are really good at making first impressions are guys who’ve done it a lot, and have practiced. And guess who that is? The players and what I call “retired” players. I always say that retired players make the best boyfriends. So, women: a piece of advice is to ignore or at least temper your first impression instinct and give guys a bit more latitude. There are plenty of great guys out there who just aren’t great at approaching women.

Have you read The Rules—and if so, do you agree with its principles (in short, letting a man pursue; being slightly unavailable; making a man “work” for you), which have also been deemed manipulative?

I have. There’s some decent stuff in there, and there’s a generally good understanding of some of the aspects of psychology and dating, but I don’t agree with everything. It feels like a book for a different generation. One anecdote they included, if I remember correctly, was about a first date and they’d gone to a sporting event and had trouble finding the car at the end of the night. The woman was wearing heels (and why she’d wear heels to a football game, I don’t know), but instead of whining and complaining, she took it in stride and tried to add to the night instead of detract from it. So, no, it’s not really about manipulation. It’s a set of advice based on cultural norms for the early 90s, when a woman was a slut if she slept with a guy on the first date. But if you’re a marriage-minded woman, I guess you could find a worse advice book to read.

One thing that drives me crazy is when women get dressed up to go to a bar or a club but schlep through the grocery store in sweatpants—and then complain about how they have trouble meeting guys because they’re limiting the times when they’re most open to meeting people. I say that you should put your best foot forward, always, because you never know who you’re going to meet and when and where you meet them.

First, I want to mention that the bar/club scene is a totally artificial environment. Until 50 years ago, this isn’t how human beings met each other. “Artificial” doesn’t necessarily mean bad. I don’t think we have to go back to the days where we marry the people we grew up with—most of us would prefer to live in the 21st century. But there’s nothing special about them. It’s a place where you’ll find large volumes of people, and it’s a good place to practice having conversations so you can build confidence. However, there are plenty of places to meet people—parks, coffee shops, even just walking down the street—and all it takes is understanding how to make the most of yourself and the situation. We say don’t be someone else, but do be the best version of yourself.

“Be the best version of yourself.” I love that. Nick, thank you so much for talking with me. I can’t wait to share this with Boston.com readers.

Anytime.

For more information about Love Systems, visit their site. To order Nick Savoy’s new book, It’s Your Move, visit your local bookseller, or click here Follow Nick on Twitter at @LS_Savoy.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Karyn Polewaczyk lives and writes in Boston, and believes that heading out into that good night, like any adventure, begins with the first step. Let's Go Out is a conversation about dating and nightlife in our notoriously chilly city, with first-hand tips from the trenches. Karyn's writing, which focuses largely on women's lifestyle topics, has appeared in the Weekly Dig, Jezebel, xoJane, Northshore Magazine and More.com, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @KarynPolewaczyk.

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