Put Down To Pick Up

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

There’s a move that men like to crack out when they feel like a woman is out of their league.  I call it the “put down to pick up” move.

After my marriage ended I reached a point in my life where I actually felt good about myself.  I was confident.  I had rediscovered my identity and my sexuality, I had joined a gym and become fit and strong, and I had a circle of friends who loved me and supported me.  I was “making it on my own” raising my daughter by myself and feeling like a grown up woman for the first time in my life.  I felt good.

For some this was an attractive quality and they enjoyed my sense of self satisfaction.  For others it was threatening.  I felt good about myself and therefore I had higher standards for potential partners than I’d had at any other point in my life.  And that meant that a lot of men wouldn’t make the cut.  And they knew it.

The “put down to pick up” involves flattering a woman, flirting with her, but then pointing out her flaws.  Bringing her confidence down so you can then reassure her that despite those fundamental flaws in her appearance or personality, you’d still be willing to date her.  Because you can see past those flaws and accept her for who she is.

It’s psychological manipulation and it’s horrendous.

Photo credit 809499

Photo credit 809499

I’ll give you a few examples of who used it, why and what was said.


I made a gym friend.  An older guy who was, at first, very paternal towards me.  He was grandfatherly with Miss Rose.  We’d talk over coffee and chat in the gym, and we spent more and more time together as I felt the benefit of a fatherly man I could talk to about my boyfriends and my ex husband, someone to get advice and reassurance from.

Then he became weird.

I was seeing a gymnast, a few years younger than me, and he’d point out how much older and less fit I was than the other girls around him.  He’d start pointing out girls he’d have put the gymnast with other than me, and remarking on how interesting it was that I was the chosen one.

He informed me that he actually thought I was very attractive, though he didn’t understand why, as he generally found women with a bigger cleavage more attractive and didn’t notice flat chested women like me.  Yet despite that I managed to still be attractive, so maybe the gymnast felt that way too.  He told me that he found me very attractive and started making me uncomfortable.  He tried to kiss me, and told me it was in a friendly way.  Didn’t I trust him?  I stopped arranging to spend time with him in advance.

When I started seeing The Boy and it became clear quickly that this wasn’t a fling, it was something more real, he started getting weirder.  He pointed out that I was selfish, that I only thought of myself.  When he bought me a cup of coffee he suddenly got annoyed that my gratitude wasn’t enough and accused me of taking other people for granted.  When I took time to text him back he got angry, accused me of using people to distract myself until I got a boyfriend.

I didn’t put up with it for long.  He hit on enough of my insecurities that I doubted myself, was I really selfish and did I take people for granted?  I put up with it for longer than I should have because between the criticisms he was still being kind and supportive.  But quickly I couldn’t take anymore and cut him off completely.


Right before I met The Boy, I was text flirting with a chef.  I liked him well enough, he liked me, but I think he could tell that I wasn’t that excited by him.  But he was nice to talk to and we arranged to have dinner.

He moved the conversation towards how I’m not his usual type (again).  He found women with abs off putting.  He found women with muscles off putting.  He preferred his women with a softer look, a more gentle look.  I wasn’t as feminine as his usual type of woman.

I said that’s fine, and suggested we cancel our plans to meet up.  He was under no obligation to find me attractive and he was not duty bound to have dinner with me.

Very quickly he insisted that despite all those things he still wanted to meet me and was still interested.  That I was still pretty and smart so he could look past those things.  He would accept me for how I am.

We never had dinner.


The “friend zone” is a personal hate of mine.  Not being “friend zoned” myself, but the concept itself.  Men accused me of “friend zoning” them.  What they meant was I was friendly with them, nice to them, and enjoyed their company but didn’t want to have sex with them and they were offended by that.  But they were going to linger around… pretending to be my friend… on the hope they could persuade me to have sex with them eventually.

One such friend became quite aggressive about it.  Inappropriate.  But not until he’d tried the “put down to pick up” on me first.

He told me I usually liked glamorous girls, girls who wore high heels and got their nails done.  Girls who “cared” about their appearance rather than just getting fit.  But, despite that, something about me made him want me, even though he wouldn’t usually be attracted to me.  Even though I was a plain Jane next to his ex girlfriends.  Even though his friends would think it was odd to see him out with me.  He still wanted me.

When I rejected him and told him I love being his mate and value our time together but he has to cut it out because I’m not in it for that he became pushy. He assaulted me.

It ended a friendship I had valued, but quickly realised was fake.


My ex husband found me at a stage in my life where I was desperately trying to find out who I was.  I had a career that made me both excited and extremely uncomfortable and anxious.  I was trying to be the confident woman I aspired to be whilst still carrying around a lot of self loathing and insecurity.

We met on a night out with a very beautiful friend of mine who happened to be pregnant.  She was a girl I had many times been on nights out with when she wasn’t pregnant and I was extremely used to the male response to her.  She was adored.  Followed.  Surrounded.  We would be dancing together and I’d suddenly realise I was dancing alone like a weirdo because she had a crowd of boys all vying for her attention standing between us.

The night I met my ex husband he zeroed in on me.  We flirted immediately, we danced.  We started dating.

He told me he’d have hit on my friend had she not been pregnant because she was more his type.  He told me I was the simple girl next door type, she was the sexy striking type.  He told me he wasn’t looking to settle for someone like me, but something about me made him willing to.

We’d go on nights out with my friend.  Whilst they were chatting I approached him to kiss his cheek.  He put his hand directly onto my face and pushed me away from him.

My self esteem plummeted.  I tolerated more and more of his behaviour.  He proposed and I accepted.

Photo credit Greyerbaby

Photo credit Greyerbaby

I’ve had men use this method on me many times in my life, but when I was younger and more insecure I didn’t realise it.  I didn’t understand it.  It just made me feel bad about myself and grateful for their attention.  It made me want to change myself to correct these perceived flaws.  Flaws that were fictitious.  Not because I’m perfect, I most certainly am not, and not because people are obligated to find me physically attractive, they aren’t.  Fictitious because they were issues that weren’t really issues but they felt they could turn on me, or fictitious because they weren’t even issues at all but were used as them to knock me down.

If men use this method on you, tell you something about you is wrong, tell you you’re not their usual type, accuse you of being a bad person, but still claim to want you, tell them to fuck right off.  You don’t need someone who will “accept you despite your flaws” you want someone who just accepts you.  Someone who loves you for who you are.  Someone who doesn’t need to bring your confidence down so they feel like they stand a chance.  Someone who loves your confidence and wants you to feel even better about yourself because you deserve to and they want to celebrate that.

It’s hard.  When your self esteem is low in the beginning it’s horribly easy to fall into this trap they lay before you.  And having low self esteem is one of the most common issues faced by any growing woman.  And as a growing woman, that’s when you’re most likely to meet the person you’ll spend your life with.

But then you divorce the asshole who makes it work and find someone who doesn’t want to use it.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!



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