8 Sane Pickup Tactics That’ll Actually Work


written by oz chen

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In a recent post, How Pickup Artists Market to Men, I examined the marketing tactics and sensationalist claims that the pickup industry employs to lure in male customers. A lot of the advice centers around ultra-specific dating tactics that I believe are unhealthy for men to obsess over.

Over the course of reviewing dozens and dozens of PUA products, I present to you 8 golden needles that lay in a huge haystack of pickup bullshit:

1. The 3-second rule.

If you see someone you want to talk to, approach before any anxiety prevents you from doing so. Three seconds can be arbitrary (what if you have great vision and they are 3 blocks away? I don’t know, Hawkeye).

But the underlying reason is obvious: the longer we wait to talk to someone, the more awkward it gets. That awkwardness can either 1) make the interaction harder than it needs to be and 2) prevent you from ever making a move.

This is a big reason why I think memorizing scripts and pickup lines is TERRIBLE advice. You’d do much better approaching naturally – instead of hovering and “waiting” for the right moment – and introducing yourself.

I always, always regret not following the 3-second rule if I want to talk to somebody (including professional settings). Waiting leads to making a simple interaction into a way bigger deal than it needs to be.

[su_highlight]Extra Tip: Don’t approach from behind.[/su_highlight]

This bit of advice is more tactical but it’s been vetted through personal experience. Approaching anyone from behind is not comforting…especially to women. This triggers defense mechanisms. Rather, just approach a woman from where she can see you coming. Beneath her from a man-hole.

2. Logistics matter. A LOT.

Guy 1: complains about the women in LA and drives every weekend to hit on chicks in SAN DIEGO bars. His goal was a one-night stand. My brain almost fried talking to him.

Guy 2: Saves money in order to live within walking distance to bars in Hermosa Beach, which is frequented by the type of women he likes. He has a nice and welcoming place, has a fully stocked fridge and plenty of wine to go around, and is good at communicating with his apartment-mate when he’s going to have guests over. Is it any wonder that Guy 2 does WAY better than Guy 1 in the dating market?

Where you live matters. How easily you can travel to and fro matters. Parking matters. If you live near the city and are walking distance to some hip places, that’ll serve you well. As much as we hate it, so much of making and maintaining relationships is based on proximity and convenience. That’s why even some of my frugal friends are willing to shell out 3x higher rent living in center of San Francisco.

Part of logistics is just good everyday living. Preferably, have your own room. Keep it clean. Have snacks and water to offer guests. Especially cashews – women love cashews. Have condoms if you don’t want babies and infected genitals. Make them easily accessible if you intend on having sex. Super bonus tip: wear a condom at all times, she’ll be impressed by your forethought and preparation.

The question is: if someone has to stay over, can you comfortably house them overnight? Just set up your living quarters almost as if you have a girlfriend living with you. Almost.

3. Maximize your looks.

In EVERY romcom that involves the transformation of a guy, such as Hitch or Crazy Stupid Love, the protagonist dude gets a makeover. They work out and get new clothes.

This is what’s great about being a guy – it doesn’t take much to look decent. Wear clothes that fit well. Invest in a few classy pieces such as a nice blazer and dress shoes. The great thing is that you can wear the same things pretty much over and over again (link: ) if they look good – it becomes your style. One of my favorite quotes on men’s fashion is “are you wearing the clothes or are the clothes wearing you?” Choose the former.

Lose that weight if you’re obese or overweight. You don’t need to be Hugh Jackman; almost anybody can get an average-to-decent body by eating better. Taking care of your life’s vehicle will do wonders for your confidence and health, tenfold more so than any pickup line can.

4. It (almost) doesn’t matter what you say

My female friend once asked me what I say to a girl I’m interested in. I told her, “Hi, I’m Guy. I think you’re cute. Come around here often?” She was flabbergasted. “That’s it?? No, you’ve got to be smoother. You can’t just be that direct.”

Turns out, you can. (Also goes to show that your female friends, contrary to what you think, won’t necessarily give you the best dating advice).

As the wildly popular Simple Pickup Youtube videos demonstrate, it almost doesn’t matter what you say when approaching women. This is because women are intuitive. They can smell confidence and authenticity from a mile away. Even if you say something silly or random, it doesn’t really matter – it’s how you’re coming off to her as a person.

I can’t agree enough with Owen Cook’s observation that “the true self is always shining through.” It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. It’s who you are behind those words that matter. And often times, it’s just the fact that you’ve said ANYTHING at all to her may make you stand out from the dozens of guys who ogled at her that day but didn’t say a damn word.

Comforting to know: most girls – NO, most people – don’t remember how they started talking to someone new. Think about the last new person you met. Do you remember the exact first words you both exchanged to each other? If you do, consider writing for GuyGuides.

If all else fails, be direct. “Hi, I’m _____. I think you’re cute. What’s your name?” Feel free to steal it.

5. Keep first dates light and fun.

No need for a big fancy dinner. It’s too formal, high-pressure and expensive for just getting to know each other. Think of your first few dates more as hangouts than serious meetings. Of course, treat her well and pay for the date (just do it), but instead of focusing on the date itself focus on how much fun the two of you can have together. And remember…

[su_quote]”Being honest is more important than being impressive.”[/su_quote]

So don’t stress too much over your job or car or looks – she’s already going on a date with you. Just your best foot forward while letting your genuine self shine through

[su_highlight]Tip: hop around different places. Show her your neighborhood and go on mini adventures. Dates are primarily about fun and comfort. Oh yeah, and if you want to kiss her, kiss her.[/su_highlight]

6. If you have social anxiety, the only way is to practice talking to people.

If you have mid-to-high levels of social anxiety, the only way to get better is to practice talking to people. Talk to everyone – your coworkers, your grandma, your therapist… When conversing openly becomes more of a natural part of your identity and self expression, you’ll see that talking to women isn’t that big of a deal.

Hot girls are people too. They have skin and bones and shit and eat and fart and get eye crust just like you. I have to remind myself of this when I get struck with someone’s physical beauty and instead of tilting my head sideways and uttering under my breath “Dayeeeem.”

Consider this – even someone who looks stunning can be nervous and hope they don’t look like an idiot in front of YOU. This was a huge realization to me – people are too busy worrying about what others think of them. Make their day and talk to a stranger. No one does that shit anymore.

7. Demographics matter, a LOT.

This concept really struck me when I was reading Mark Manson’s Models.

Demographics refers to the characteristics of a certain population. The demographics of trendy night clubs tend to be 21 – 35 year olds, just as the demographics of SF may include more college-educated tech workers.

Specifically, demographics help your dating life by defining what you’re looking for – and what you don’t want. Having similar demographics decreases friction in meeting potential partners. Case in point: college. Everybody goes to the same school and lives a similar lifestyle – this helps explain the social phenomenon that getting a relationship is seemingly much easier in college than after college. Here’s an edited excerpt of Models to bring the concept together:

“Jenna is 20-years-old and in her second year at community college. She comes from a worse part of town and has been working a retail job at a shoe store… Her only relief is when she gets to go party at the club each weekend where all of her friends are and where she gets to relish in really hot guys hitting on her and buying her drinks.

John has 3 degrees, has spent the last 8 years working 60 hours per week and never drinks. He’s maybe been to 20 parties in his entire life and has only been drunk twice. He’s passive and analytical and his sense of humor is highly intellectual…He’s not dressed entirely well…

It’s not hard to see that when he approaches Jenna, no matter what he says or what line he uses, it’s going to end very quickly…”

There are exceptions, but I think the important idea behind this is that you can’t, and shouldn’t, try to attract everyone. Rather, it’ll do you more good to optimize what you can (looks & fashion), build the lifestyle you want and put yourself in the right groups of people and situations. For example, instead of slumming it at the bars next weekend, try looking at Meetup for social gatherings for hobbies you’re interested in. All of this builds up to the next and last point…

8. Invest in your social life

Having your own social life inherently makes you less needy in a relationship. People want to be with other people who have something going on in their lives. It’s a lot of pressure on a girl if she senses she’s all you have and your main source of entertainment. It’s a precarious situation that becomes more obligation than fun.

Breakups happen. Women may come and go. So develop those friendships, old and new. Go out and take up a new hobby. It might be slow at first but you WILL make some new friends. The trick is to start with just one thing, and commit to it once a week. For more thoughts check out my updated guide How to Build a Social Community.

Another bonus: even in this digital age, most relationships come through mutual friends. The more you invest in having high quality friendships, the better your life.

Of course there’s more than 8 tactics (thousands!!!) promoted by Pickup Artists that are probably decent, but that was my curated list of sane, emotionally healthy advice. While I might start reviewing more PUA books, the one that I referenced in this article (and the only one I really deem emotionally healthy) is Models by Mark Manson.

While there’s always a place for tactics, you might have noticed that the advice on GuyGuides is more unconventional and strategic – the big wins to live an emotionally healthy, well-rounded lifestyle.

And oh, I actually don’t know if all women love cashews.

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9 thoughts on “8 Sane Pickup Tactics That’ll Actually Work”

  1. It’d be awesome if you expanded on points 3 (looks), 4 (doesn’t matter what you say), and 6 (social anxiety).

    From my experience, what helped me the most was maximizing my looks as much as possible (not that I’m there yet, but I definitely did improve a lot) and reducing the anxiety I had with talking to hot women. Knowing you look good and not being scared of talking to hot women naturally gives you this vibe where it doesn’t matter what you say and women can just sense that confidence.

    I believe “approach anxiety” is one of, if not THE BIGGEST, hurdle men face when trying to achieve their dating goals. A guy could maximize his looks and have great logistics etc., but if he’s still nervous as shit trying to talk to a hot girl he won’t be able to express himself authentically and get the girl.

    Maybe I’m diving too much into the details, but I do believe there’d be a lot more value in future posts that break down how a man can significantly reduce his approach anxiety through baby steps.

      1. 1. Baby steps – constant, systematic exposure
        2. Looking and feeling good – hitting the gym / dressing better
        3. Lack of attachment to the outcome
        4. Being willing to endure humiliation / embarrassment for the end goal

  2. Sure thing. 3 second rule applies to almost any social situation – approaching a potential connection, professor, potential employer (thinking along the lines of conferences, networking events, company parties, etc.). In college I’d get anxious for no logical reason – there were plenty of times where I had planned to talk to my professor after class, so I’d walk towards him, 3 seconds pass, and I’m headed for the door. Basically the 3 second rule is good in NOT giving yourself the time to chicken out. Off the toop of my head, this also works well with #4 – say anything. If I can’t think of the ideal thing to say, I usually dont act. Terrible mentality. Think of all the missed opportunities if you’re at a huge networking event or job fair where a bunch of big names are walking around. At this point, I’d rather act a fool than miss an opportunity completely. It’s not like I would lose any more than I would have anyway.
    #3 is just a good life mentality to have in general. IMO, dressing well is perceived as self-pride and self confidence, whether the individual actually feels it or not. If you give off the impression that you’re confident, that’s already a huge win in itself. This advice is especially solid for those who have low self esteem. If you dress poorly, you’ll never feel like a million dollar man. If you dress well, you give yourself a chance to experience what it’s like, even if you may feel like an imposter at first. Get used to it and you’ll eventually become it. Isn’t there a saying “you become what you pretend to be”? Somewhat relevant – imposter syndrome. In a more general sense, taking pride in yourself can positively affect other aspects of your life as well. Maybe you become a tidier person which helps you work more efficiently (because you’re not wasting your time sifting through stacks of papers, word docs, spreadsheets, etc). You get more work done, you impress your boss, bam, you have a promotion.
    Investing in a social life (#8) – just good for mental health in general. I don’t think it’s particularly great to be dependent upon the same group of friends all the time. First of all, circumstances change all the time. Secondly, it’s good to develop the social skills needed to make new friends and meet new people. And hey guess what? Maybe through all these social interactions you develop your confidence and social skills (#6). Infinite number of things we could probably discuss as examples

    1. Wow impressed by the exhaustive run-down – really enjoy the real examples from your own life Matt! Looking into that thought, “you become what you pretend to be.” I’ve heard something similar like “you become what you think about.”

  3. I like this post. I dont know if you realize it, but a lot of the things you talk about apply to important, general life concepts, not just dating/relationships. Too many to give examples for, but I wanted to point that out

    1. Thanks Matt, and when you find the time I’d be interested in the examples you’re thinking of. Appreciate the comment because that’s the direction I’m going – using dating and relationship advice as a metaphor to live a better in general.

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