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I flew out to visit him once, and we split the cost of airfare. His fridge was always empty, since, in lieu of preparing food, he ordered delivery or swung by a chic restaurant several times a day.

I imagined myself as a spy on a reconnaissance mission, collecting information from the enemy. Barlie talked about the importance of not being a douche, defined as a man who is not paying attention to the woman he’s talking to — only how to impress her. How do you follow up when someone tells you how crappy their life is? A major physical barrier between you and your date can prevent the natural chemistry from bubbling up. But obviously, this touchiness should be well-received — if it’s not, I’m sure there are still plenty of guys who will embrace their inner douchebag when applying these techniques, but my guess is they already had latent asshole tendencies.

Or like Sigourney Weaver in “Gorillas in the Mist,” studying the species’ every move. Regardless, I learned that it is in fact possible to be a nice normal guy and a PUA.

I’d never condone sleaziness or PUA culture in general, even if today’s communities are trying to rebrand the whole thing as a confidence-booster for shy, lonely men.

But then there was Adam, a trained pickup artist whose name I’ve changed because I genuinely don’t hate the guy.

Years ago, when I was interning in NYC the summer before my senior year, he, yes, picked me up at a dark Lower East Side bar, leaning over with an opening line I’ve forgotten and a confident smile I haven’t.

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