Why was the "pick up artist" movement so popular in the mid 2000s to 2010s?

Frankly, reading something like this, I don’t wonder why guys like this would feel isolated.

I will echo P-man. No, not everybody, not every man is great at figuring this out. I couldn’t figure it out. Finally defaulted to ones that showed obvious interest. That didn’t work out that well actually.

Basically no one cares about these guys and their fate. They are not typically doing illegal acts. Certain men and women seem not to like their approaches, though a lot of these same men and women don’t seem to like these guys much in the first place. Hence all of the “incel” shaming that is all the rage. An acceptable bigotry.

The world doesn’t care about them, why should they care about the world?

Yeah, and I think that conceiving it as “some men think women are inscrutable” is a misleading framing. IME a large proportion of the population would benefit from learning social cues better. Think of all the people you know who often talk too much, for example, and don’t register that others are done with the conversation or have something that they want to share.

But dating in particular is an area that many people get wrong at first, because we each have to learn a lot of it individually, with just things like movies for reference (and movies and TV generally give bad advice).

“Challenge accepted!”

Unfortunately, this mindset can have tragic results, so it’s not surprising there’s a backlash. “Women don’t care about me, why shouldn’t I return the feeling?” Self-pity and frustration. It would be interesting to see if there’s much overlap between incels and groups like the Proud Boys who have some odd sexual hangups.

Yes, some of his challenges make things more difficult for him; he gets a thrill out of succeeding at something abnormally difficult. However, Barney is very prone to over-reaction. Early on in the series we see him on dates where he’s not using any outrageous tricks, and fails to get the girl - and that might be responsible for some of the other tricks he tries - he gets into a cycle where failure leads to trickery, success leads to more difficult challenges, eventual failure leads to more deceptive tricks, so he spirals into doing either very deceptive plays that work and very difficult challenges that fail.

Even though I randomly came across these PUA methods while browsing the internet, I never went through with them and was looking for some honest feedback since I’ve never heard of this type of content before I found it.

To answer your question, I’m assuming that times have changed and some things lose popularity overtime. However, I was never the type of guy to randomly cold approach women in public at bars, clubs, etc, even though I wanted to, but I wasn’t strong enough to go through with it. Everyone is different when it comes to socializing with others.

As of today, I’m still not into cold approaching women, even though I only talk to people whenever I feel like doing so (if I happen to be in a social setting at the time) which is different from cold approaching (IMO) if I happen to be surrounded by people (which would make it easier for me to talk to them in close proximity) instead of walking up to people and starting a conversation with them.

The point is relatively few people actually are.

This is a role traditionally filled by church, social clubs, hobby groups, workplaces, etc. I.e. a place where people can socialize and meet people where the primary expectation is not necessarily to seek out personal relationships (whether for an evening or a lifetime). Or by getting set up by friends or co-workers or family.

How this works has changed over the years (as all things do) but the point is that personal relationships often begin through shared interests and often involve a community of people looking out for each other and not necessarily by individuals trying excessively hard in artificial settings.

It’s part and parcel of the delusion that bar hopping and such to get into relationships is more common than it really is. It does work that way for a lot of people, but it’s hardly as common or simple as these groups or popular media make it out to be.

And a lot of this is still true in the age of dating apps. Successful relationships via app will still involve shared interests and values and acknowledging that the other person is not a mindless automaton but another human being. The technology just changes the nature of how people can connect, not whether or not they are capable of connecting once they meet.

I’d be cautious about lumping all these guys together. Not everyone who is miserable because they’re too socially awkward or clueless to get dates has the sense that they’re missing out on something to which they’re entitled. Is the sense of entitlement the big difference between a decent buy awkward/clueless person and an “incel”?

Y’know I did a Board search about this and found threads discussing the “PUA” phenomenon clustered with a peak around 2012-2013, so at least among this group the awareness crested right around the start of the 2010s and since it sort of drifted away. Probably a result of other things more alarming taking up our attention since.

I’d say, that’s a fundamental difference.

It’s also a fundamental difference from the “succesful” PUA to the Incel, since that PUA can deal with there being more fails than wins and has the mentality to move on to the next and/or change tactics to what works, rather than sit there and stew.

Isn’t everyone equally “entitled” to a relationship though? Are the incels any less entitled than anyone else?

Look, if anyone wants to be pure, I suggest becoming a monk or a nun or the equivalent. I look at relationships as being messy and carnal, even the best of them. They just are. So I don’t see entitlement figuring into them. If you want one, you figure out how to get one.

Again, let’s assume that nothing illegal is going on. Yeah, anyone not in a relationship may have to do some work on themselves to get into one. Yeah, maybe at certain life points the bar is higher for men than it is for women in that regard. But some people seem to look down on these guys actually doing things to increase their chances that are not 100% “nice.” Because they don’t really care about the outcomes for these guys. Which is typical, that’s something we all have to learn, that basically only ourselves care about our own relationship outcomes. So I’m just not sure how much, if any, these guys should care about what others think in that regard.

Another fundamental difference, it seems to me, is that there are strong elements of misogyny and objectification in the incel “movement,” whereas many of the awkward/clueless guys genuinely like girls/women (which is part of why it’s so frustrating that they’re unable to attract or connect with them).

Yes, they are not less entitled. What this misses, however, is that no one is entitled.

In particular, PUA followers and the incels talk a lot about not only being entitled to a relationship, but a relationship with a particular kind of woman.

That is reflected in PUA obsession with rating women and incel obsession with the duty of attractive women to be their mates.

The worst of the incels indeed rail against any desire on the part of women themselves, spouting ideologies of female subjugation and service to them.

Bingo bongo! I think you hit the nail on the head. While I never cared much what others thought of me, I would never do something to hurt another person if I can avoid it. I was gainfully employed, clean (albeit a little scruffy), in shape, and did my best to treat others how I wanted to be treated. I eventually decided if that wasn’t enough I needed to appreciate the fact that I had friends and deal with not having romance in my life.

Right, and this is also one of the ways that TV and film is unrealistic that I was alluding to upthread.
Cold opening is a common and largely succesful way for people to meet in fiction, and often gives some young people the impression that all you need to do is walk up to “that girl” and express some degree of attraction.

I can do cold approaches*, but it feels like work. It’s so much easier to meet new people in a shared / safe kind of situation.

* One thing which I learned from PUA, that you rarely see in fiction, is to make such interactions brief, politely walking away at a point where things are going well. Having done that, the second conversation is so much more relaxed than the first.

Everyone can use better social cue training.

But it’s also true that women aren’t mysterious or inscrutable. There’s a vicious thought circle that happens to a lot of men w.r.t. women, if they’re consistently unsuccessful. They don’t know why they’re not successful, so they put too much emphasis on say… the first date. Then that doesn’t work, and they don’t know why. That just ups the stakes, and reinforces the idea that women are mysterious and somehow alien. And the next time they ask a girl out/talk to her, it’s that much worse.

Trust me, I know. I’m speaking from personal experience here. I eventually found my way out of that wilderness by doing a couple of simple things. First, I decided that I’d start small. I just started talking to women wherever- grocery store, gas station, etc… Not in a creepy way, but just striking up a conversation where it was appropriate. On the dating apps, I approached it from a “what can I do for them?” sort of perspective- it wasn’t about what I like in a partner/what I want, it was what fun stuff I like to do/how fun I am/etc… And finally, I just decided that I was going to go on very low pressure first dates, if you could even call them that. A cup of coffee or maybe a drink. That’s it. If that went well, then the real first date followed.

It took a while, but I got out of the thinking that women were hard to understand, and I got over whatever fear of rejection I had. These things worked like a virtuous circle to make me more confident- put simply, I didn’t care if some random woman at the grocery store didn’t want a cup of coffee, and having that sort if “I couldn’t really give a shit” attitude made me more interesting- most women aren’t used to guys with that attitude, and they usually wanted to know more.

I can totally see how if I’d been less skeptical at the time the PUA stuff was coming out, that I might have been suckered into it; it played right into that “women are mysterious and inscrutable” thinking, and furthermore, promised a sort of magic formula that you could use to overcome that and get laid.

Problem is, it teaches you to approach it in a transactional fashion, and objectifies women as sex objects, not real people you need to actually talk to and get to know.

I agree with basically everything you said, right up to these absolute statements at the end:

I assure you, this was not all PUA, and not my experience of it.
One of the critical things I learned for example, was that a conversation with a girl you like should be 99% the same as if you were talking to a guy or family member or whatever (and accordingly, you can practice your “pick up” to a large extent with guys; it’s just basic conversation skills).

So you’re saying that a program that purports to make you into a “pick up artist” isn’t making it a transactional sort of thing, and objectifying women?

I’d argue that ANY program like that with an express goal of getting someone laid is exactly that, no matter how much it involves actually talking to women, bettering yourself, etc… Otherwise it would be called “relationship artist” or something like that. “Picking up” is inherently objectifying I think.

Except that I wasn’t being absolute; some guys may well have the goal of just sleeping with lots of women.

But, otherwise, I think this is one of those times where the buzzword that caught on is misleading.
A lot of the material was aimed at starting relationships, and a lot of my peers were guys who, like me, were pretty much hopeless, so just wanted to have a girlfriend, not start collecting notches.

That’s fair. The way it was marketed was very much along the lines of “get laid with beautiful women!”, and I remember thinking that as befuddled as I was by all the dating stuff, I knew that there weren’t shortcuts, and that I was just missing some piece of the puzzle.

That’s fair also. Some of it certainly was like that, and I left the community before seeing stuff like the TV shows, so I don’t really know what direction it went.