Flirting with the Pick-Up Artist community
When I was 20 years old, I’d never kissed anyone, never had sex, never had a girlfriend, never even been on a date. I’ve since found out this kind of delay in sexual and romantic milestones is quite normal for people on the autism spectrum, but at the time, it made me feel about as worthwhile as a fly screen door on a space shuttle.
I felt utterly worthless, like I wasn’t good enough for anybody. Like I was so ugly, so unlikeable, so repulsive, that nobody could ever want to be with me.
Lonely, naive, and desperate, I stumbled across the PUA community.
For those of you who haven’t heard of them, PUA stands for “Pick Up Artist”. They’re essentially a group of men who share advice on how to seduce and sleep with women. Many run seminars and courses, publish books, and make quite a lot of money by selling their “secrets”.
I was an easy target; gullible, impressionable, emotionally immature, and sexually frustrated. I must stress that I never attended any seminars or bought any books; my involvement only went as far as spending about a year as a member of an online forum. They never got a cent from me, for which I am everlastingly thankful.
At first it seemed harmless enough, and indeed, contrary to what you may hear, it’s actually not all misogynistic exploitation. Some of it’s genuinely useful, focussing more on self-improvement; building confidence, staying/becoming fit, how to hold a conversation. At the time, I had the social skills of a drunk jellyfish, so the idea of being able to actually talk to the opposite sex sounded like the best thing since green tea flavoured ice cream.
On the other hand, if you dig a little deeper, it has a seriously dark underbelly. A lot of it didn’t so much treat women as a means to an end (sex) but more as the “enemy” in a game of psychological warfare. It taught tactics like “negging”, which is basically using put-downs to lower a woman’s self-esteem (or as some in the community call it, her “bitch shield”) in order to make her seek your approval and become more susceptible to your advances.
It also teaches men to persist when told no, and to break down resistance through emotional manipulation. Pretty icky stuff, to say the least.
Perhaps the most disturbing part was that the more I read about these tactics, the more I noticed them being used by other guys on my female friends. Sadly, I’m sure a lot of women reading this will have experienced the tactics I’ve described.
Extract from a seminar by a high profile PUA guru, and a prime example of their ideology
Ultimately, I decided to remain the chocolate teapot of the dating scene rather be reborn as a successful arsehole. I just wish I’d realized how vile it was sooner, as I fear that in the intervening months I did become a bit of a douchebag. (Let me be clear; I never continued after being told “no”, and I never used put downs. I was just arrogant, self-centered, and placed far too much importance on the pursuit of “getting laid” as if it were a trophy)
In retrospect, I’m glad that my brief fling with the PUA community did nothing to improve my non-existent sex life; such behaviour wasn’t worthy of reward.
Because of the challenges they can face when it comes to romantic and sexual relationships, men on the autism spectrum are particularly vulnerable to the PUA community’s promises. If you’re ever tempted, take it from someone who has “been there done that”; it’s not worth it.
It may seem like the answer to all your problems, but much of it preaches tactics that border on sexual harassment, and promotes a deeply unhealthy view of gender relations where women are either your enemy or your prey.
Combine this with the difficulty those of us on the spectrum can have with reading social cues, and you have a truly dangerous recipe.
You’ll be much better off just steering clear.