How to tell if you're being hit on by a pickup artist

When it comes to dating, you should avoid pickup artists, who lie in wait to prey on others. The pickup artist movement is made up of a small but powerful underground group of people, mostly made up of men, who employ manipulative tactics in order to get someone to sleep with them. According to BuzzFeed News, there are plenty of how-to manuals — and even classes — that teach men how to pick up women.

The Guardian reported in 2019 that teaching men how to become pickup artists in order to get women into bed is an industry worth an astonishing $100 million. People pay big money to learn schemes designed to seduce women. Pickup artists aren't in the business of entering into emotionally stable and loving relationships. They're all about getting as many women as they possibly can to sleep with them.

A pickup artist is a person you definitely want to steer clear of. But how? Here are some signs that you're being hit on by a pickup artist.

Backhanded compliments are a sign that you're being hit on by a pickup artist

It's not uncommon for a person hitting on you to pay you a few compliments. This could range from a simple "nice" smile to a cheesy pickup line, like the old standby "Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?" Pickup artists, however, don't stick with traditional pickup lines. Instead, they employ a pickup artist tactic known as "negging." This involves doling out backhanded compliments that are specifically designed to make you feel insecure. Why? So you'll seek the validation of the pickup artist, of course. "Neither a compliment nor an insult, a neg holds two purposes: to momentarily lower a woman's self-esteem and to suggest an intriguing disinterest. ('Nice nails. Are they real? No? Oh, they look nice anyway.')," pickup artist Neil Strauss wrote in The New York Times.

According to Bolde, common negging lines include, "I like your hair but your roots are showing," "It's great that you're going for comfort over fashion," "You're not my type, but I see why some dudes would like you," and "Wow, you look tired. Do you need to call it a night?"

There are some common types of pickup lines used by pickup artists

Pickup artists have an arsenal of pickup lines at their disposal. According to Coveteur, online pickup artist forums are swimming with supposedly "tried and tested" lines. If someone tries to pick you up with one of the following types of lines, they likely got them from a pickup artist.

Pickup artist openers include "The Humor Opener," e.g."Is that alcohol? For SHAME! Drinking isn't allowed here!" A pickup artist may also try to catch your attention with "The Stop and Shock," opening with, "Excuse me, I just have to tell you something..."

Also, be wary of "The Opinion Opener," which involves the pickup artist asking for your "female opinion." Then, there's "The Observational Opener," which sounds something like, "Oh, wow, it's like The View over at this table!" Then there's "The Inadvertent Opener," designed to make catching your attention seem like a misunderstanding. An example of this type of line is, "Two beers please! Oh, you don't work here?"

Someone who seems overly confident may be a pickup artist

Self-confidence may be sexy, but watch out for someone who is too confident when approaching you. It's natural to feel a little nervous when approaching a person you're attracted to. Pickup artists, though, often exude too much confidence. Someone who seems too self-assured may just be a pickup artist.

Writer Gareth Rubin took an intensive course in becoming a pickup artist from notorious pickup artist Julien Blanc. In a piece for The Guardian, Rubin reported that pickup artists-in-training were taught to "confidently make decisions" because "women love a leader." Students enrolled in the class were also told to emulate Don Draper, the womanizing lead of the show Mad Men.

"Having confidence is like having the keys to the kingdom," wrote pickup artist Dag Albright in How to Meet and Pick Up Women. "Confidence is being self-assured. Confidence is being cool. Confidence is having a belief in your own abilities. Confidence is having faith in yourself. And confidence is what you need most in order to be a pickup artist."

Pickup artists often wear flashy clothes

If a person wearing gaudy clothing — clothing you'd personally never wear on a date — approaches you, your first instinct may be to dismiss them because of their flashy ensemble. As counterintuitive is it may seem, though, outlandish apparel may be a sign that you're dealing with a bona fide pickup artist. This tactic is known as "peacocking." On the pickup artist website BestPUATraining.com, peacocking is explained as "wearing a few garish, compelling items which draw attention."

This could mean dressing from head to toe in flamboyant clothing, wearing a top hat, or sporting multiple wristwatches. "The key to peacocking is to make strong style choices," advises the site. "Wear clothes that are interesting, with aggressive cuts and patterned fabrics. Then add a few pieces of [jewelry]. It's fine if they're subtle, but it should always be visible." The theory is that peacocking will garner attention — albeit potentially negative attention — and, from there, open up a path for the pickup artist to wear down your defenses.

A pickup artist will try to isolate you from your group

If you're out with a group of friends for a night out and a pickup artist singles you out, he will very likely try to isolate you from the rest of the group. Pulling you away from your friends makes it seem like he is eager to get to know you better, but in reality, it's just another pickup tactic. In his book The Pickup Artist: The New and Improved Art of Seduction, pickup artist Mystery detailed ways to "isolate" a "target," which changes depending on the group dynamic. According to the pickup artist site PUA Lingo, separating a woman from her friends will apparently make her "more open to physical escalation, such as kissing."

Whether or not you're dealing with a bona fide pickup artist, there is safety in numbers. You should always be aware of a stranger attempting to pull you away from people you trust. Even if the stranger isn't a pickup artist, they can still pose a threat.

A pickup artist might put down your friends

One tactic a pickup artist might employ is undermining your friends. Even if this wasn't a pickup artist move, a guy who puts down your friends isn't someone you want to be with. Fortunately, this is a clear indicator that you want to ditch a guy — and stat.

According to Coveteur, there are entire forums dedicated to teaching potential pickup artists ways to undermine your more in-the-know friends who would normally help you avoid their dubious charms. Lines used to do this include "You girls really need to get her out more to break her out of her shell" or "Is she always this demanding?" You may also hear lines like, "How do you guys put up with her?" or "How do you three roll with that one?" A pickup artist may even ask, "Does she have an off button?"

By making your friends seem controlling or silly, the pickup artist undermines any attempts your friends may make to alert you to their sleaziness.

Many pickup artists follow the "seven-hour rule"

Pickup artists move fast. If it seems like they're trying to get you straight into bed, that's because they are. They aren't interested in getting to know you. They aren't swept off their feet by the whirlwind romance of your courtship. They have no plans to introduce you to their parents or to buy you a Valentine's Day present. They just want to add you to their list of conquests.

A common tactic used by pickup artists is the "seven-hour rule," Psychology Today reported. According to this so-called "rule," pickup artists spend an average of just seven hours with a woman before reaching "full close," which is pickup-artist code for having sex.

Hopefully, you'll recognize a pickup artist for what he is before getting to the seven-hour mark, but if you don't, be on the lookout for a guy who goes in for the move after you've spent that amount of time with him. Not all pickup artists will follow this technique, though, so don't think you're in the clear just because you've passed the seven-hour mark with a guy.

A pickup artist will slowly become more handsy

A popular technique employed by pickup artists is known as "kino escalation." This system gradually accelerates physical contact. Dating coach Connell Barrett told Bustle that a pickup artist employing kino escalation will start slowly with a cuddle or a high five. Then, they'll move to placing a hand on your back or brushing some hair out of your eyes. The pickup artist will gradually pick up the intensity until they get you into bed.

This doesn't mean that you should be suspicious of any guy who greets you with a hug. With pickup artists, touch is methodical. "It is the specific pacing of escalating kino that is important, not the physical touches," wrote pickup artists Mystery and Chris Odom in The Mystery Method: How to Get Beautiful Women Into BedIf someone greets you with a high five, but waits a while to touch you again, they're probably not a pickup artist (unless they exhibit other signs).

Watch out for this popular technique used by pickup artists

One way a pickup artist may introduce himself is with what pickup artists call "the spin move." This move is designed to sweep you off your feet — literally. "If you meet someone at a bar or club and they spin you within a minute of meeting you, there's a good chance they're a pickup artist, or were trained by one," dating coach Connell Barrett revealed to Bustle.

In The Pickup Artist: The New and Improved Art of Seduction, pickup artist Mystery outlined a five-step plan to wear down a woman's defenses via the spin move. First, he advises the pickup artist-to-be to test her "compliance" by holding up his hand and requesting she look at it. When or if she looks at his hand, the second step begins. According to Mystery, the pickup artist should request the woman hold up her hand and then, as the third step outlines, "do a little spin." After spinning her, Mystery advises giving a verbal reward, like "very nice!" The final step calls for tossing her hand "dismissively" and then "repeating the cycle." 

Some pickup artists will flirt with other people to make you jealous

While pickup artists will often target just one person in a group and make that person the focus of attention, another pickup artist technique is to ignore the chosen target. This is intended to make the targeted person jealous. "In [pickup artist] Robert Cialdini's book, Influence, he talks about the power of social proof to persuade and coerce, and that's what pickup artists are trying to do," dating coach Connell Barrett told Bustle.

By flirting with other people, talking about their exes, or telling stories about how they've been hit on, pickup artists are trying to show the target they are desirable. If it seems like someone is going out of their way to tell you just how desirable they are, it's likely that they're deliberately doing it to prove to you that they're a catch and make you that much more attracted to them. It's also likely that many (if not all) of their stories are simply made up with the sole intent of trying to impress you. 

The "FTC" is a surefire sign of a pickup artist

Pickup artists will simultaneously try to make you feel special and desperate for their attention, the latter being something men find unattractive in normal circumstances. One way that they do this is through a technique known as "FTC," or "forced time constraint." 

"Usually I'll say: 'Look, really quickly — because my friends are waiting for me and I've got to go in a minute — do you think rudeness stems from misery?'" a former pickup artist told Express. "Using the time restraint and telling them that your friends are nearby lets the girls know that you're not a weirdo with no mates. And by asking their opinions you can get the conversation going from there."

According to Coveteur, women are more receptive to speaking to someone who delivers an FTC such as "I can only stay a minute..." It works because you know they won't be sticking around too long so you think there's no harm in engaging in conversation with the pickup artist. Pickup artists will often use this technique while sitting down at your table, thereby distracting your attention from the fact that they are entering your personal space.

Pickup artists often give off "bad boy" vibes

The thought of taming a "bad boy" might hold a certain allure, but it is never a good idea to get together with someone in the hopes of changing them. This holds especially true for pickup artists who don't have any interest in entering a stable and loving relationship, let alone reforming their bad boy ways. Pickup artists do, however, know that women like bad boys, and will therefore often exude a bad boy vibe in order to pick up women.

In The Pickup Artist: The New and Improved Art of Seduction, pickup artist Mystery wrote about behaving as a "bad boy" in order to lure women."It's attitude, baby," he wrote. "I am not a bad boy. I am not the typical player guy that you might imagine. Thing is, I wanted to have women so I began donning a bad-boy attitude. Now I am a player."

Pickup artists avoid revealing too much personal information

A pickup artist will make everything about you. This may seem like a good thing on the surface, and many people will be flattered by having someone pay so much attention to them. Don't be deceived, though. A pickup artist who turns everything around on you isn't really trying to get to know you better, but is rather attempting to capture your interest while avoiding telling you anything about himself.

It's common for pickup artists to do everything they can to create an "air of mystery," dating coach Ronnie Ann Ryan wrote in an article for YourTango. After all, a mysterious man can be hard to resist, and the well-trained pickup artist is all too aware of this fact. The less a pickup artist reveals about himself, the more you want to know.

Additionally, pickup artists will often appear interested in someone while simultaneously seeming unsure of the reason why. Watch out for lines like "I can't explain why I feel closer to you than anyone I've met before." Phrases like these are specifically designed to lure you in.

Pickup artists seem laid back and casual

While it's not unusual for a man to exhibit strange behavior in an attempt impress a woman, a pickup artist takes it to a new level. He will try to impress you by making it seem like he couldn't care less whether or not you paid attention to him. This bit of reverse psychology is designed to make it look like he's got plenty of options and that he's doing you a favor by paying you some attention.

"The laid back guy always gets the girl," wrote Dag Albright in How to Meet and Pick Up Women. "One main common factor that all pickup artists have is the ability to be easy going. They are usually laid back guys who go with the flow and know that being overly aggressive doesn't cut it."

Albright's reasoning for not being aggressive isn't that it's inappropriate or just downright rude. Pickup artists are supposed to be laid back to avoid killing the vibe. "If a guy comes along that's too aggressive, he's going to dampen [women's] spirits and ruin their party," he wrote.