Selfie with HF on the Stockholm metro, that runs all night on Fridays and Saturdays.
There’s definitely something about being in a new city that allows you to behave differently to how you would do at home. Certainly at first, the lack of connections that you have both with the place and its other inhabitants frees you. Whether or not you try, you stand apart: foreigner, outsider, different on all sorts of levels. How you dress, walk, speak, and conduct yourself; the differences are often very subtle, but enough to be picked up upon.
In the UK, I don’t get hit on. Guys do not try to pick me up. People are often surprised to hear this, but it’s a fact; as a friend once said to me, I have excellent ‘Fuck Off!’ vibes. I also tend to avoid the kinds of places notorious for straight singles: aside from the London pubs I frequent, I’ve always preferred the LGBTQ scene, where it’s acceptable as a person to have a good time with your friends without being prowled on by predatory horny men. Whilst I did frequently socialise with my partner in London, I’m drawing on 7 years experience of going out around the UK in various venues, towns and states of relationship whereby I’ve effectively communicated through body language that I’m neither looking for love, nor out to have a one-night stand.
Things have been different since I’ve been in Stockholm. I don’t seem to be able to go out in the evenings at all without incurring the attentions of men, both Swedish and from the international student/expat community. It seems that my disinterested body-language communication is ineffective here. These signals, like most other things, have turned out to be completely culture-bound. Whilst I’m very happy to meet new people, and indeed am longing to make new friends, I don’t seem to be able to make it clear that I have no interest in listening to men’s various monologues about their lives/opinions/experiences when their intention is clearly to coerce me into running into bed with them. During a recent evening, when some guy literally pulled me into a quiet corner in order to impress me with his worldliness (he actually knew one black person! OMG! And they DIDN'T speak with an African accent! How cultured and open-minded he must be!) (Wanker.) I actually had to do the thing where you pretend that someone across the room is calling your name, in order to get away from him.
On another occasion, a guy actually decided to intercept my conversation with my housemate and his friend (two men) to sit at our table and talk to me. Kind of surprising, especially for the infamously-reserved Swedish; but he was easy on the eye and I was happy to have some attention. Or so I thought. He kept on breaking away in the middle of the conversation in order to return to the game of ping-pong going on in the bar (it’s a Swedish thing…); he also didn’t bother to offer me a drink. (I mean, he was drinking champagne, I wouldn’t have said no…) This happened several times, then my companion suddenly had a lightbulb moment: this guy had read The Game! He was doing the technique of a Pick Up Artist! That accounted for his strange behaviour!
It was pretty hilarious; the more my companion spoke of it, the more obvious it became that this guy was following some kind of 10-step guide to hooking a one-night stand. It was kind of puzzling that he should feel the need to do this since he was good-looking and had an interesting-sounding job (unless that was all part of it). By all accounts, normal conversation and being generally charming should suffice. But I guess that’s not the point. Well, as soon as I realised that he was trying to play mind-games with me, I of course started playing mind-games back, and basically ignored him. He wasn’t to know that I wasn’t going to go home with him, so I thought I might have some fun with it. He seemed to run out of technique at this point. Despite continuing to try to get my attention for the next 45 minutes, by walking past me but throwing backward glances over his shoulder (rather like a child at school with a crush that no one can know about), nothing happened, and we left before he could adjust his technique and make a different move.
Conclusion? Women alone in Stockholm, beware! There are toads everywhere.
Has this ever happened to you?
What's your opinion on the PUA technique?
And finally, some hilarious suggestions for warding off PUAs courtesy of Jezebel.
Disclaimer! The photo at the top of this post of my friend and I has nothing to do with the contents of this post aside from illustrating using public transport on a night out! He is not a PUA! Nor am I!