A game of cat and mouse: I dare not believe in “Love” anymore after realizing my ex was a PUA master.

The pick-up artist is seducing more and more young women these years in China, so how these women were seduced by Pick-up artist (PUA)? What happened to them? And any effects?

What’s PUA?

I dare not believe in “Love” anymore after realizing my ex was a Pick-up artist (PUA) master.

Xiao Yu (pseudonym), a 29-year-old primary school teacher, broke up with her boyfriend of six months after she found the secret that her boyfriend was a Pick-up artist master. “It was unbelievable, and my world came crashing down.” It was a big blow to her. Xiao Yu is in a very bad condition, her face is sallow and thin. She was once a very confident and sunny girl, well-educated and had a decent job. She graduated from the University of Leeds in the UK two years ago with a master’s degree and then joined a primary school in Chengdu, China as an English teacher. But her peace life has changed since she met Jie (pseudonym).

It was a rainy night, “I had to pass a file to my collage at that day, and my computer was out of power. So, I just turned on his computer. Then I found a folder with the title ‘Prey Guys’. curiously I clicked in, and there were rows and rows of folders named by ‘region – name – career – personality’, densely packed with at least a couple of hundred.” Then, Xiao Yu realized that her boyfriend might not simply be having an affair, he was probably a well-trained PUA master. “Those folders were full of his chatting screenshots with these girls, sneak peeks from dating, naked photos, and even sex videos. He was like an emotionless dating machine, and I was one of his preys.” Not surprisingly Xiao Yu found her folder titled as Chengdu – Xiao Yu – Obedient. “It was quite painful, our relationships over the last six months were a joke. I couldn’t trust anyone, I had to seal myself off to protect myself. I even started to be afraid to talk to men other than my father.” Said Xiao Yu.

The girl broke down after knowing her ex were a PUA master.

PUA, usually refers to male pick-up artists who try to coax women into having sex and getting money through the tricks such as flattery, psychological manipulation and coercion. The history of this pick-up society can date back almost 50 years to Eric Weber’s book How to Pick-up Girls. Weber writes: “Men excited about the hunt. But also… from the girls, enjoying being hunted.” But until the publication of Neil Strauss’ bestselling book The Game in 2005, the concept of PUA really caught on. With 2.5 million copies sold-out, the tricks of men purposefully pursuing and controlling women became an emerging topic. The book introduced a generation of men to the shadowy world of pick-up artists and their pick-up tricks, such as denial or insulting a woman to undermine her confidence, making her feel like she has to seek approval from men, forcing sex even if she says no, etc.

Neil also writes in his book that for the most part, men who focus on PUA just seem like normal people who have an inner rage against women’s free will and who believe that women need to be psychologically (and sometimes physically) manipulated into having sex. In fact, the popularity of PUA and Dapper Laughs was a backlash against feminism and quickly became a branch of misogyny.

“How’s the process of PUA?”

The author found Jie’s private lessons on his website, and after paying 800RMB (about 100 pounds), the author received a pdf tutorial material, in which he listed in detail which identity would attract which type of girl. The “handbook” divided the girls into four categories: A/B/C/D, where A is the most prodigal girl, D is the most conservative virgin, with BC in the middle are the two transitional types. The virtual identities are also divided into three types: the prodigal mode, the poet mode, and the emperor mode. It says, “When you meet an A-class woman, you can use the romantic mode directly for the purpose of having sex, while C and D-class women are more suitable for the poet mode or the emperor mode.” This step is actually the beginning of the PUA traps. Once women are attracted to the virtual literary poet or imperial domineering man in front of them, they are already starting to fall into the traps.

The home page of Jie’s PUA Company

“We met on a social networking app and his page was very attractive: he displayed a very positive lifestyle and lived a privileged life.” Xiao Yu says, “After chatting with him, I found him was very funny, gentle, and considerate. My first impression of him was that he was a quality man with a successful career and some taste.” Xiao Yu showed Jie’s homepage of this social app, there is an exquisitely dressed man with unobtrusively luxury brands logo in the photos he posted. He held a cup of Starbucks in his hand, whose hair is clearly blow-dried and styled, leaning against the side of a Mercedes-Benz car. The social app shows that he used the latest iPhone, positioned in mostly fancy hotels, and had a cute cat.

He was as sweet as any love when it first started. In the early stages of their relationship, Jie was almost obedient to Xiao Yu about everything. Xiao Yu loved to play escape rooms, so he searched for all the interesting escape rooms in Chengdu to take Xiao Yu to play. “He was very trusting at that time, and he told me that I was very special to him.” says Xiao Yu, “He told me his childhood story and the whole entrepreneurial experience, and it made me feel like I was completely trusted by him”. But gradually, Xiao Yu realized that some of his behaviors were strange. “He often set some rules with me. For example, I must listen to him and cannot argue with him. I even cannot talk back to him.” Xiao Yu says, “It makes me feel much pressure, but he said that if I love him, I should obey him.” 

Step by step, Jie got Xiao Yu to fall in love through chatting and had sex with her within two weeks. He then asked Xiao Yu to take sexually suggestive photos and send to him. “He asked me call him ‘daddy’, and I need to be his good daughter. If I did what he said, I would be given little rewards, and if I resisted inwardly or did not want to do it, he would scold me and accuse me of not loving him enough.” Said Xiao Yu, “he said that I was not deserving of his love for me, after hearing that I blamed myself, I felt guilty. He believed in me so much and the reason why he wanted my nude photos was he missed me, I wouldn’t even make the small sacrifice for him.” When recalled here, her expression was painful. From a clear rebuttal at the beginning, to a gradual yielding attitude, Xiao Yu not only became negative in tone, but also developed self-denying thoughts. Eventually, Xiao Yu gave in and sent five nude photos to Jie.

“This is actually a very typical first step in the usual Pickup artist formula, establishing the high value.” Weiwei Kong, the leader of the anti-PUA group, explains, “The sequence of operations is well documented. First, the male creates an image of a high-income elite on top of the social software. He has a nice car, his body shape shows that he usually works out regularly, and he often wears luxury things reflecting he has a high consuming.” Demonstrating high value on social platforms is the first step in the PUA trap of establishing a good persona, then, the second step is reversing the image. They will tell the target girl some stories that subvert his original impression. Such as having suffered a major setback or a childhood encounter, to gain the target girl’s trust and sympathy.

“The third step of PUA, namely establishing a contract, is one of the most important parts of the PUA process.” Weiwei Kong points out, “Usually they (the PUA masters) implement this step within two weeks, they will imply the girl that she has already liked them through some songs, movies and subtle words, etc., and push the girl to confess her love at first, so that they could establish a so-called loving relationship with the girls.”

“Once the relationship is established, the PUA masters will ask for more, such as can you promise to love me forever? Or can you promise me that you will never cheat on me again? The PUA masters will use the relationship to build a dominant-submissive relationship with the target girl, like cosplaying ‘father and daughter’, ‘master and pet’,etc.” says Weiwei Kong. The PUA masters will process their mind control by rewarding her for obeying orders and punishing her for disobeying them. Even if the poor girl never realizing it, just thinking it is a romance affair between lovers.

“After the contract is established, the next step is value destruction. In this step, the PUA masters’ attitude towards the woman will turn to disappointment, indifference, extreme contempt and callousness. They will magnify the woman’s mistakes indefinitely and draw them into the previously contract, accusing her of not keeping it. What’s more, they also may put a mean label on the woman, such as she is a prodigal woman or she has cheated on him, etc. When the girl is aggrieved and heartbroken in the face of these accusations, the PUA masters will further destroy the woman’s self-confidence in a powerful way and leave the girl blaming herself. After being tormented, she will always remember the day when she encounters the situation that caused by her little mistake, which is equivalent to planting a ‘bloody heart anchor’ in her mind.” Says Weiwei Kong. 

The pick-up artists and their pick-up skills.(edited by Wanyi)

The vast majority of PUA scams are actually a form of blackmail in the name of love. “In Xiao Yu’s case, her boyfriend and her were in a typical “father-daughter” DS relationship, and this contract came into play when he asked Xiao Yu to send him nude photos, ‘if you love me you have to send me, if you don’t send me, you don’t love me.’ His words took absolute logical precedence, equating a girl sending nude photos with whether she loves him, which is actually a stolen concept.” Kong Weiwei said, “Girls must remember that even if you love him, you still can say no to what you don’t want to do.”

Xiao Yu accidentally found a lot of things on Jie’s computer about he works as a PUA master, bringing the relationship to an abrupt end. Xiao Yu is undoubtedly lucky to recognize the true nature of the PUA master and stop it before suffering more mental abuse. However, there are still many young girls who fall into these traps of relationship with sugar-coating but actually is a kind of mind control.

Subsequently, the author accompanied Xiao Yu to contact her ex-boyfriend, Jie, on the grounds of making things clear. He said that he had unintentionally get the information of pick-up artists 2 years ago, and he just wanted to earn more money form this. From his heart, he did not mean to hurt Xiao Yu. “Since she blacked my Wechat and phone number and broke up with me, I also have a hard time. Now, I have decided not to do PUA anymore, except for the normal response to the existing members’ inquiries, I have stopped accepting new clients.” Jie’s voice sounded quite sincere, “I admit that I did have a different purpose when I first started dating with Xiao Yu, I just wanted to collect more cases. But gradually spending time with her, I slowly moved on her, but I still clung to the possibility that as long as she didn’t find out what I’ve done I could keep it from her… Until the day she opened that folder, I knew it’s finished. Now I can sincerely apologise for hurting Xiao Yu, I feel much better.”

Xiao Yu’s misty eyes got red when she heard Jie’s words. She says, “I’m still the special one to him, I guess.” But she fell into a long silence when she saw a notice pop up for tonight’s live broadcast on Jie’s PUA course website.