Learning Their Lines from The Boston Globe

Learning their lines
By Meredith Goldstein
April 15, 2009

My friend and I visited Gypsy Bar not long ago to watch a group of guys test their pickup skills. The men desperately wanted to know whether their lines were effective - mainly because they had paid about $3,000 to learn them.

They were students of Love Systems, a pick-up training program that claims to teach men how to decode "female psychology" for the purposes of dating. According to the Love Systems program literature, men who complete the weekend-long boot camp (which will be held in Boston again in June) will leave with the skills to approach and attract almost any woman, even the perfect-looking ones.

If you've seen VH1's reality show "The Pick-Up Artist," you know what I'm talking about. There's an entire industry that makes money off guys who want more game.

Who pays $3,000 to learn how to talk to women, you ask? Lots of people. Normal people.

The guys who attended the winter seminar in Boston were unsettlingly normal, men you probably know or work with. Most were 30-somethings in business jobs. They weren't ugly. They seemed nice enough.

For many hours, they holed up in a rented apartment listening to the class instructors, two men who go by the names Braddock and Mr. M (most of the men who work for Love Systems go by nicknames), self-described smooth operators who lead these sessions around the world. I tried to jot down as much as I could without rolling my eyes too much.

According to Braddock, a pickup works like this: You talk to the woman (women like to talk), then you establish mutual attraction. Then you comfort the woman. Then you seduce her.

The group leaders showed them how to do this. Skills included asking questions to start a conversation or using manipulative behavior like leaning back so that the woman is forced to lean in.

The men took notes. Then practiced.

A few hours later, when I met up with the men at Gypsy Bar to see them test their skills, I was horrified to see that the gags and methods worked. The students, who traveled in pairs, approached women and started conversations. They mentioned their friends and families to prove they were "protectors of loved ones." They made eye contact. I could see the women flipping their hair and laughing.

Most of these men admitted to me that the night was about quantity, so after a few minutes with each female, they moved on. On the rare occasion that they were rejected or ignored, they moved on, unfazed.

Women who instantly reject a man at a bar apparently aren't worth the hassle. Someone from the class explained to me, "Those are red-light girls."

After the boot camp, I spoke by phone with Nick Savoy, the man who runs Love Systems, about why his program concerns me. The men wanted as many numbers as possible just to prove they could get them. They spoke of women like prey - or better yet, like weird aliens they wanted to take down. The men I interviewed spoke of wanting power in social situations, not a real partnership. Not love. Not even sex, really. They just wanted to win.

"We're not in charge of telling guys what they want and shouldn't want," he said. "These guys - they want more or better options."

Original article at BostonGlobe.com.