Hayley Quinn Became a Pickup Consultant Because She Wanted to Hit on Ladies

'I think sometimes the melodrama of love takes us further away, rather than closer to, who we actually are'

Hayley Quinn.
Hayley Quinn.

Hayley Quinn wants you to get the digits. She has always wanted you to get the digits. She teaches men and women looking for love how to break meeting people down into skills they can practice, one by one.

Now, though, she wants you to get the digits with the right mindset and for the right reasons. The 29-year-old Londoner has become a rising YouTube star with her direct and funny videos about strategies for evading the inevitable loneliness that one day catches us all. She articulated her new vision at a recent TEDx event in Nevada, in which she says, “I think sometimes the melodrama of love takes us further away, rather than closer to, who we actually are.”

Is it only the lonely that have time to ready themselves for proper love?

Now that she’s found a new message that challenges many of her peers, and we project she’ll become a much larger part of this ongoing conversation. Last week, we wrote about her new take on the business of guiding the lovelorn. This week, we tell you why. TL;DR: 2015 was a tough year, but it showed her how to guide us all in the direction of making out in the back of the bar toward a better world.

‘The pickup industry, was, bizarrely, the one space where I felt it was completely O.K. to talk about hitting on women’

The Observer spoke to Ms. Quinn during her most recent visit to Manhattan. The following interview has been edited and condensed:

As I understand it, your story in this industry comes from spending quality time with leading coaches in the dating and pickup world?

I wouldn’t say “quality time.”

But, you lived in a house with pickup artists and dating coaches, though, right?

Yes, a lot of people in the pickup industry and the dating industry are my friends, and I have no issue with lots of them. And I think lots of them are doing a lot of good.

You would think that, the business strategy would be to ask yourself what people are googling around? What questions are they asking around dating? How can I produce the content that people are going to be the most drawn toward which will help build my channel and get people to engage with my brand?

However, I feel the dominant messages in dating are often confused, or only benefit certain categories of people. I think a lot of the time, particularly with women, they do not benefit us at all.

This isn’t really the direction I’d intended for this interview to go, but it’s fine. It’s great. So, are you thinking of it in terms of shifting your business more in the direction of women?

I actually sort of made the conscious decision. When I worked for bigger pickup companies it was obviously all guys. When I went freelance, and renegade, I was like, “Oh I’ll work with women as well.”

Just because I thought it would be cool for women to know. I was like,  “Why is there so much advice out there and so much technique and structure for men, and nothing really there for women?” I feel that, in the men’s dating market, they’ve actually got a lot of stuff in there for them. You’ve got companies talking about how to build a better lifestyle for yourself as a man, on the whole. That exists. In the female dating world—not really.

I also see that it’s not actually about gender because I believe that through following this philosophy correctly, it should benefit both genders: if women don’t feel as restricted about sexuality, if there’s more open communication, women feel more able to be direct with men. If women feel more comfortable approaching guys, I see this as having cross benefits to men as well.

It’s definitely not man-bashing. I see where the communication breakdown is happening because I’ve worked so intensively with both genders. I want to bridge that gap.

‘Last summer I had a miscarraiage and had a really difficult set of life circumstances.’

Has your philosophy about human relationships changed since you got into the business?

Yeah, completely, 100 percent. And that’s just been because I’ve grown up. I’ve started to see the world differently. And I think you’ve influenced by the people that you’re around, and the work that you’re doing.

At the beginning, I was obviously younger, and I was interested in the pick up world. Part of the reason I got interested in the pickup world was because I had questions about my own sexuality. The pickup industry, was, bizarrely, the one space where I felt it was completely okay to talk about hitting on women, as a woman, and it gave me steps that to do it.

That was kind of like, in the beginning, my bugbear: how do I have sexual experiences? How do I begin conversations? How can I flirt with people?

With men I feel kind of awkward. With women surely I can’t do that full stop, right? So those were like my big drivers.

Going on from there. Later on, I started to think more about things being more ethical.  I saw that a lot of people were trying to do good things in the pickup industry, but it had language around it that was a bit dodgy. Like calling women “targets” and stuff. I think most normal guys don’t like to use heavy pickup lingo because they feel uncomfortable around it.

Then, after that, again, as I was changing as a person, things became more conceptual. At the beginning, I was doing lots of work around conversation skills, texting people, like very tangible succinct strategy-based deliverables. Then, I actually thought, “What about some spiritual concepts?” Such as, personal development, mindset and approach to life.

And then in my own life I had some other really big experiences. Like, last summer, I had a miscarriage and had a really difficult set of life circumstances, and as a net result of that I suddenly became way more conscious of women’s issues. And also much more conscious of actually like: is—really—dating imporant? Question mark.

‘He came back three days later with a removal van and three men told me I should get out the house.’

There’s actually bigger things.

There’s life and death things going on. And obviously love and social relations are actually part of that. It made me motivated to look at the whole thing differently because suddenly just talking about dating felt too superficial. So that’s kind of the movements I’ve gone through.

And actually I feel also I’m going to grow into the female market more. Because as I’ve become older, not only do I fucking understand and know more about what it’s like to be a woman (I’m single myself). I also think I’ve become more relateable. When I was 24 years old, for a woman who’s like 30 or 35, what did she have to learn from me about dating?

Whilst with the men’s market, just by being their target audience, I had something of relevancy to say. Now I think that balance will shift in the future.

Then, if I do became a mum, then I’ll be a mum blogger. It’ll be awesome.

Having looked at some of your sites and social accounts, it seems relevant to ask this. So, did you just go through a breakup?

Yes. What happened is, I knew I was off the right track with my lifestyle in many respects. I was staying with my partner for the usual reasons, we shared a house—renting not bought. We shared a big social group. He was in a music group, so it was quite fun and glamorous. Obviously, we got on really well, and we’d been together for years. So, I probably wasn’t being as courageous as I should have been in looking at and analyzing that relationship.

So then I went to Vancouver to film a pickup documentary. During that time, I felt a bit weird.

I came back to England and found out I was pregnant. My partner reacted absolutely horrendously. He was already a bit bad, but then all those behaviors were like on acid. Which is actually quite normal when you have anything like pregnancy. Any hostility that exists in a relationship tends to be amplified. Which it was.

Because of his reaction I didn’t have an opportunity to even talk to him about it, like: “What are we going to do?”  Long story short, he became physically hostile towards me. At one point I locked myself in my bedroom with my friend who luckily was there. He left.

Then, he came back three days later with a removal van and three men told me I should get out the house, because he was going and I would never see him again. He took our shared belongs. The TV, paintings, crockery, so he was really trying to leave me in a position where I was as destitute as possible in order to make me cave and have a termination. Which was something I’d already decided I wasn’t going to do. I kind of felt he had outvoted himself by his behavior.

And so really losing my social circle, my physical home space, my belongings and him, and then a few weeks later losing my child, made me reevaluate everything in my life.

It’s something that moved me to change my channel around, so I can talk about stuff like miscarriage and abortion and big issues that are a lot of the time at the heart of love and romance.

Hayley Quinn.
Hayley Quinn.

So it’s like you’re dealing not just with getting sex, but the consequences of sex? Are there other big pickup channels that are talking about topics like pregnancy? Does anyone else in your industry discuss the upshot of sex?

I’m basically massively in favor of open discussion around fundamental human life stuff. I only had the benefit when it actually happened to me.

Some of my friends have given birth, had an abortion and had a miscarriage; they’ve had the hat trick. I can’t even describe in my mind how huge all of that would be psychologically, mentally, spritually for me and I find that it’s not talked about. It’s strange.

It seems like most pickup channels are just about: “How do you get sex?” Is that how you see it?

Yeah, “How do you be good at sex?”  

The pickup world is overly focused on the pickup, like getting the phone number, sleeping with her, kissing her. I think it’s one of those things where it’s literally an aging thing. I think you have this little bubble of youth, where before you actually hit real life stuff, stuff like ‘the friend zone’ is really fucking important to people. That creates a lot of pain and a lot of suffering to many men and women out there.

As you get older, you encounter more stuff, and suddenly the friend zone doesn’t feel like such a huge deal anymore. Suffering is a very relative perspective.

I found that a lot this summer. I was coming across quite badly to some of my female friends who are in there early 20s and their worried about, they got an STI from a guy or their dissertation needed to be handed in or they got fired from their job at a department store. At the time, that’s fucking heavy stuff. Then you get a little older, and it’s like, you’ll be fine. It’s fine.

Actually on my most recent podcast, I interviewed my grandmother, who is 93, and I think she has full scale perspective in terms of life and death issues, and therefore everything seems unimportant.

It’s completely off topic but I have to mention this. One of the things I did after the breakup was just not date for quite a while. I did celibacy. I’m still very cautious and slow on the dating front compared to how I used to be in the past. It’s relative. It is relative. And that’s because I wanted to confront aloneness and just fucking deal with some stuff, because I had a lot of bullshit from the past.

“They fuck you up, your mum and your dad.” There’s that quote.

With my nan, what I thought was interesting with her, she lost her partner a couple years ago. But she’s 93, she’s not going to have any other romances. She’s not going to fall in love again, or it’s highly unlikely. She’s not going to meet anybody new. In fact, she’s just going to see the people she knows, and that circle diminish, and that’s true confrontation with aloneness, with the prospect of death.

Everything we’re going through in life is preparing us to be wise enough and stoical enough for  your older years.

So I got her on my podcast.

My podcast is Attraction HQ and it is mostly guys listening who are expecting the sexy babe perspective, and they got Nanny Muriel. And that pretty much encapsulates how I’m seeing my brand, and what I’m doing differently.

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Hayley Quinn Became a Pickup Consultant Because She Wanted to Hit on Ladies