Anne,

Good food for thought. Personally, I think dating and mating strategies can be successful by operating through a number of different psychological processes. Some of them can be healthy, others not, yet others through simple "neutral" facts of evolutionary psychology.

There are certainly correlations to be found between low self-esteem and short-term sexual activity in some populations of men and women. But, as correlation is not causation, nor is it usually high, we cannot say that all people who engage in such sexual activities are necessarily low in self-esteem. Some, in fact, have very high self-esteem - loving their bodies and themselves, and wanting to share physical experiences with many partners.

Similarly, despite popular belief, only a select few "pick-up" techniques do appear to work by the mechanism of lowering self-esteem. The classic "neg" or "negative complement" is an often-cited example. But, that is one very small piece of the "pick-up artist toolbox" and one that the "community" itself has moved away from since Mr. Strauss' book was published. The majority of techniques appear to be capitalizing on evolved psychological dynamics, not low self-esteem, to attract partners for short-term sex.

So, I believe that leads us back to the conclusion of my article - these techniques allow men and women to successfully find each other for short-term sexual encounters. However, I don't believe there is clear evidence to negatively evaluate the character or mental health of those who use such tactics or partake in short-term sex. To make the leap from "just different" to "bad", I would need more compelling research. Right now, I believe those who are making the leap are doing so out of their own personal opinions and value judgments - not sound science. Personally, I don't care whether people hook-up or get married, as long as it works for them. I just supply them with the best way to meet their personal goals, rather than influencing the goals they set. So, in my world, the Dr. Rettenbergs who help men find egalitarian partnerships and the PUAs who help men find passionate flings can both coexist - because they are serving different goals for different folks.