Guest Post: What Do Pickup Artists Tell Us About Dating?

I’m thrilled to welcome Wang Jia (who you might remember from his AMWF TEDx speech) back to the blog with a post exploring the world of Pickup Artists (PUA).

Do you have something you’d like to see featured on Speaking of China? Check out the submit a post page and then contact me today with your ideas or draft post.

Pick-up artists (PUA) present one of the most controversial issues in the modern dating world. According to Wikipedia, PUA is the seduction community and their goal is to achieve sexual success with women. In the past 10 years, due to the success of the book “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists”, PUA has grown from some thousands of geeks exchanging pickup lines to a multi-million dollar industry.feature Wingmen_1575.indd

While many feel appalled at PUA, I think it provides a unique angle to look at the modern romantic relationship. Though not a PUA myself, I have come across many of them while preparing my previous TEDx speech. [] Some are very helpful to provide me an inside look into the dating world. And I think their argument/explanations are in general sensible and well grounded. Some PUAs are even interviewed by Jocelyn to provide advice for Asian men. [JT Tran interview:]

So why do we have polarized impressions/opinions against PUA?

Though much PUA stuff is self-help and aiming at improving men’s life style, the ultimate goal of PUA is predominantly sex – to have as many “lays” as possible (in PUA language). For many women that is a real turn-off. It seems that many women believe PUAs often play tricks to achieve short-term benefit of having sex.

I see that men’s impression of PUA differs a lot from women. Men often feel that they have some kind of privilege when they are able to have sex with many women. I am no exception. For a period of time, I secretly admired those who can easily find sexual partners, and I was very insecure due to the lack of success. PUA comes in to help. But is that the best way? Has the Western culture set many desperate men to that route?

Are PUAs happier than average men?

Arguably PUA is mainly for those who believe “more women = better life”. As many things in life: the quality is more important than quantity.

Nearly all PUA gurus have sex addiction. They especially enjoy the variety of sexual choices, but they cannot sustain a long term monogamous relationship. Getting married is the end of their life style – a great example is the author of the book “The Game” Neil Strauss, who basically announced GAME OVER when he finally got out of a lot of trouble and married. I think top PUAs are basically different human beings than average men like me. I was always looking for that special one person, and I am very happy to keep her in my life. Some men thought that PUA life style is the happy world. They end up in a deeper trouble.

But to be fair, compared to those men with zero access to sex, PUAs are certainly happier.

Is it true that those people who practiced PUA significantly changed their dating lives?

Some men certainly did, but only those who are disciplined and keep trying for an extended period of time. At the beginning it’s not fun. PUA is like many other skills or professions: theory is not hard to find – still no results without practice. If you are only looking for a shortcut to solve your problems you will be disappointed.

Does PUA prove that we all make irrational decisions constantly in dating?

We are emotional creatures, and we don’t make many relationship decisions based on logical thinking. Is that the fundamental reason why women can be manipulated? Mmm, that’s a good Ph.D. topic for social psychologists. (I reserve it for my next life. One Ph.D. title is enough J) Well, many PUAs do claim that their methods have a neuro-psychological foundation. I don’t think scientific research is that far yet.

Should I believe that PUA can make me a dating master in a short time?

As I mentioned, I don’t believe there is the quick and easy shortcut. Even though 90% PUA sites try to sell you a shortcut/trick/secret. I believe that the right PUA method does give men a workable system to improve. It is A method, not THE method. There are already honesty-based methods immerging. (Ironically, developed partially by ex-PUAs.) And I believe that’s the better direction to help men. Search for names like Mark Manson, Johnny Berba, Johnny Soporno, Nick Sparks.

Would I recommend PUA methods to Asian men?

It depends. If you are fully aware of the potential negativity of PUA, by all means, try it. If you are disadvantaged in some parts of the world due to lack of understanding how dating works, PUA has a lot of good explanations on Western dating processes. But, (a big BUT) I would rather recommend to focus on self-improvement: communication skills, confidence, healthy life style, purpose in life, understanding yourself, etc. – in another word, those things that are bigger than just sex. Many ex-PUAs find that period of life more of a stepping stone to something more meaningful.

PUA methods come from real world experiences and they give good examples of how practice + feedback can take you to another level. This method is similar as in many scientific fields. I explained this in my recent TEDx speech “ Chemistry of Relationships”. []

(This TEDx speech is not about PUA. But my next TEDx is coming. And my plan is to bring up the PUA topic.)


There is often no yes-or-no answer. The existence of PUA has deep-rooted reasons in human society. Many questions remain. How do you think PUA will impact our dating world in the future? Have you met a PUA? Please give your opinion here. I am interested to hear! Questions are welcome. I am happy to comment. And it may help me to prepare my speech. But keep in mind, I am just an amateur PUA expert.

Wang Jia delivered a TEDx speech on AMWF: Western Women, Eastern Men ( He also blogs about the chemistry of relationships at

Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

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7 Replies to “Guest Post: What Do Pickup Artists Tell Us About Dating?”

  1. I thought an artist was a skillful person in art forms like music, painting, acting, never realizing it has such a branch. In Chinese culture and the cultures like India and Bangladesh, as far as I know, right before you have enough time and courage to start your pickup lines, it is most probably you have been delivered with your hands twsited behind your back to the nearest police station or stoned to being unable to stay on your feet or to death.
    It is my little humble opinion only. Wish you good luck in your research.

    1. Hi Lao Zhang,
      indeed, I see less welcoming culture in China. But it does not mean there are no Pickup Artists active there. Some of the most known PUAs have lived and improved in China. There are also plenty of “field reports” on how to pick up girls in China or in other Asian countries. There is the culture difference, but men always figure out how to get laid fast.

  2. It’s all bluster and BS sort of like pills which can make you thin! Massive exaggerations to make it seem to outsiders that it’s great. I’m reminded of a scene in american beauty where Mina Suvari’s character claims sexual prowess in front of her friend in order to be somebody bigger than they really are.

    In regards to Asia it’s very much like this:

    Or even immigrants. Immigrants often claim their lives are great to the people back home to save face. This works both ways from migrants to wealthy countries who end up washing dishes or driving taxi cabs. Or ESL types that claim to be gods in Asia when really everybody can see through them.

    David Bond or Julien Blanc (both banned from entering the UK) so called experts openly admit to the very low % rate of success he has in Asia and some people have copied his videos. He admits to setups using hired actresses.

    Both are penniless bums traveling through Asia trying to sell something to others.

    1. The problem with PUA market is that there is little evidence that a coach/trainer has a good track record. Anyone can pretend as an expert and sell services. Everyone has a different style – you never know if this guy’s method really works on you.

  3. Interesting interview. I know the whole pickup artist thing can get very controversial and misogynistic (especially the red pill scene), but perhaps there are some things worth learning. In my opinion some of the worst aspects are simply like the above commentor states which is that those gurus outright lie to get gullible lonely men to give them money.

    That being said, if nothing else I highly recommend reading the famous book The Game by Neil Strauss. The amount that one can learn about human nature is amazing. Certainly men from more introspective cultures, such as Asians/Chinese, can learn a lot of valuable advice without being a creep. Goes for Westerner nerds as well, but no comment on whether that applies to me or not!

    Anyway, like all things in life there are negatives and positives and it especially goes negative when being too extreme. Being a misogynistic sex addict who psychologically tricks women is clearly terrible. But analyzing the nature of relationships and offering positive advice to shy men who just want to attract women does have its place…

    1. Good comment, Ray. There is a fine line between PUA and dating coaches. Nearly all the top PUAs would prefer to be called dating coaches to attract more clients. Advice can be very similar. And one can learn a lot from the right PUA. I see that also, many PUAs grew out of just number collecting and look deeper into human nature. Mark Manson, one of the best dating advice authors, grew much of his ideas/theories from his pickup experiences. He left PUA community and openly go against it.

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