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Archive for the ‘Optimism’ Category

7:09 am: it’s overcast, rainy, and dark. The weak morning light is barely indistinct from the ashen pink of an overcast night sky. Streetlights are on. Mornings like this don’t recommend the day. It’s tough to get out of bed. My apartment’s 5 degrees too cold, and I’m hungry but have nothing to eat.

My post was eaten by a Firefox bug. Or maybe a WordPress bug. I blame it on Firefox because it’s written in C++, an utterly awful language that should have died out a decade ago. The essay was nearly complete, and I hit the “Save Draft” button, and was told it had been saved. It wasn’t. It’s gone. Maybe I’ll write it this evening, if I have time, and put it out on Wednesday or Thursday.

On this cold, rainy morning, we move into the grand finale of autumn– early November’s display of brilliant color. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get rained out, weighed down, like so many falls. Then we enter winter, the season of spice, snow, love and intimacy– or sometimes of cold, rain, mist and desolation.

I love October, but the 27th is not one of my favorite days– I associate it with a number of deaths, breakups, numerous manifestations of bad news that have transpired on this day in years past. I realize that it’s all coincidental, and that bad things happen on every day of the year. So do good things. Approximately 1/365.2425 of all good things that have happened have occurred on this day. The same holds of bad things. Anyway, this is just prattle. I’m quickly losing my point. Did I even have one? Not so sure.

I feel raw, poorly slept, and confused. At the same time, I’m optimistic about the future, and grateful to be alive. I keep pushing forward, believing that, as damaged as the world is, it will get better. The collapse of American culture that began in the 1970s, was sped along by the Reaganoid mouth-breathers in the 1980s, and swerved into a nose dive in the 2000s, will end. Either we die utterly and finally, or we turn around. I have reason to believe the latter is more likely.

I’m going to call the nadir. It happened today at 2:30 am, the midpoint of the traditional “hour of death”. Over the past year or two, I’ve sensed a backlash. The destructive forces of casual sex, crass commercialism, female indulgence, anti-masculism, heartless conservatism, conspicuous but insincere liberalism, “game”, sociosexual obsession, combat dating, human self-mortification, et cetera, have begun to wear themselves out. We’re now on the upswing, as of 2:31 this morning. This world of ruin is reeling, badly aching, but ready to be repaired.

Why do I think an upswing is imminent? I observe. I talk to people. I ask prying questions. I enter philosophical debate with random strangers. People and news come to me, as well. An 18-year-old Somali immigrant, a beautiful college sophomore, responded to one of my essays with an account of her experiences. Casual sex seems remarkably less common in her observation of college life than it was in ours. Young people seem to be moving away from it. She only presents one data point, but I have others, and it seems that college is becoming a less crass experience by the year. It’s true that some young people are irreparably damaged, casual-sexed-out emtional zombies, but many others are turning rapidly away from filth.

The shrill cries of those in our generation who have had casual sex, as their lot in life turns sour due to their nonexistent marital value, will be bitter, stark, and petrifying. I’m talking mostly about Sex and the City harpies. They fear competition from foreign, Asian, and black women– this is why they spread nasty rumors about white, American men who date them. But this is just a “trickle” of competition compared to the next wave: a rising cohort of cultured young women, of all races and nationalities, who eschew casual sex and combat dating entirely, rendering useless and unwanted the “never return his calls” wraiths who currently own the urban dating scene.

I can’t see it for the clouds, but my clock tells me the sun has risen. Good morning, world.

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For the edification of the Cless Alvein-reading public, I’m going to describe my ideal woman, from least important to most important criteria.

Race/skin color: Although I blog often about racial issues as they pertain to the gender situation, this is the least important category by far. I’m only listing it as an item here because the topic gets so much discussion. There are women of all races I’d consider myself immensely privileged to date and marry. That said, I’m slightly more attracted to dark skin than light, and find dark-skinned Asians and blacks especially attractive. I’d say that my ideal woman is half-black, half-Irish, an “island girl” who split her formative years between Ireland and the Caribbean. Sanaa Lathan with Dolores O’Riordan‘s accent. Wow… Of course, combining Sanaa and Dolores in any fashion would break the universe in Large Hardo Hadron Collider fashion, since the world wouldn’t be able to handle that much beauty.

Appearance: I’m a major fan of the “girl-next-door” look— a pony tail, T-shirt, jeans and sandals are fine by me. No need to wear makeup. I like wavy, raven-black hair and large pupils. I prefer small-to-medium, high and perky breasts. There’s no need, in my mind, for women to be super-thin. Strong but not visible abs are ideal. A little bit of belly fat is beautiful (her stomach should be flat when she stands but soft when she sits). Ideal height is 5’8 and ideal weight is 140-145 pounds, with substantial musculature. My preferred age is 23-24, but my desired “age gap” will probably increase as I get older. (I’m 26.)

Politics: Bush Republicans are out. Rand-ite objectivists are out. Racists and homophobes are out. For libertarians and conservative-leaning independents, I tend to take them on a case-by-case basis. However, I’d prefer a woman whose politics are generally liberal, but more pragmatic, somewhat more centrist, and less hopelessly idealistic than mine.

Intelligence: This is obviously extremely important, but the kind of intelligence is more crucial than the amount of it. My IQ’s 152, but 125 is enough for me. Ideal is probably 135-140, but creativity, curiosity, and drive are substantially more important than raw intelligence. Since I’m looking for a complement rather than a twin, I’d rather marry a literature or philosophy major than another math/science person.

Ambition: She should have hobbies or interests about which she is passionate– sports, political activism, spirituality, musical instruments– and she should constantly be striving to improve herself. She should have an existence that is independent of mine. Her level of career ambition can be anywhere from very modest– if she wants to be a housewife, it’s not a dealbreaker as long as she’s an active housewife– to extremely dedicated, but selfish yuppies (e.g. investment bankers and “biglaw” lawyers) are out. If she’s going to be working more than 40 hours per week, it should be for something worth believing in– fighting poverty, social justice, the arts, education– and not for status or money as an end in itself.

Past experience: This is an area where I’m somewhat unforgiving. Any one-night stands are a deal-breaker, as is anything that smells of sex with an “alpha”. I really dislike such men and view it as disloyalty for a woman to sleep with one. I’d prefer a woman to have had 2-4 loving relationships before me, with no sex outside of those, and for all of those relationships to be conclusively over.

Religion/spirituality: This is crucial. I will only marry a woman of faith. I’ve actually turned down an almost-ideal woman (“off-by-one”) because she was an atheist. I could date, sleep with, and even raise children with an atheist. But I don’t want to face aging and death (mine, or hers) with one and, in my mind, there needs to be a damn good reason for marriage to be anything less than “unto death”. Her specific religion (Christian, Jewish, Buddhist) is not nearly as important as the depth of her spirituality. I want someone who will force me to explore new aspects of life, myself, and her. So spirituality is a major turn-on. On the other hand, theological intolerance and conservative politics are dealbreakers. A Buddhist or a Friend (Quaker) would probably be best.

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Today’s post is here, at The Spearhead. An excerpt:

I approach the podium. My hands tremble slightly. Even though the atmosphere is one of support, I’m not used to speaking in front of crowds.

“My name is Cless Alvein,” I begin. (Actually, that’s my pseudonym, but let’s go with it this way for now.)

“Hi Cless!” the crowd calls back in unison. The first step to self-understanding and growth is the ability to articulate one’s predicament.

“My name is Cless Alvein, and I’m looking for love. I’m looking for a beautiful, intelligent, sweet woman to caress and cherish. I guess you could say that I’m a love-a-holic.”

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Over at GirlGame, aoefe posted an essay, “Dissonance“, on the contrast of her traditional beliefs about gender and relationships against the truths (and untruths) she has learned in the Roissy-sphere. In one column, she presents what I call the “nice guy” view of relationships; in the other, she presents the most dystopian elements of the Roissy sphere. Obviously, for all of these dichotomies, the truth is somewhere in the middle. I’ll attempt to mediate these incongruities as well as I can.

1. I thought my accomplishments [as a woman] mattered vs. they are inconsequential to men. Achievements matter to men in relationships, but not in the same way they matter to society at large. Why is this? Society values devoted specialists, while in relationships, there’s a premium on well-roundedness. It’s better for one’s spouse to be modestly intelligent, good-looking, charming, and educated than it is for that person to excel at one to the detriment of others. As is a husband’s, a wife’s role is difficult and multi-faceted. She has to be a lover, a mother, a best friend, a spiritual and intellectual partner, and (when her husband is ill) a caretaker– a tough job with a wide array of responsbilities. Integrity and kindness are crucial. So are intelligence, education, ambition and beauty, but diminishing returns have already set in by the time a woman enters the top 1% for any of these. It doesn’t hurt for a woman to have a 150 IQ, but it’s not necessary.

Society, in the external sense, rewards people for being “pointy” rather than well-rounded– for reaching the apex of a narrow discipline. No one gets a promotion for being a great father, or for having a lot of hobbies. Professional athletes are not expected to be belletrists, nor are poets expected to excel on the basketball court. Obviously, there are practical limits on the extent to which one can invest all of one’s endowment into one discipline, but those who excel are often those who reach and push those limits, and they’re rarely well-rounded. This is just an inherent trade-off in life.

The female lawyer is a Roissy stock character for overblown “pointiness”– the woman who has invested the bulk of her time and emotional energy into the rigid, competitive, and rationalistic discipline of law, placing her social and inner lives on the back-burner. This is what’s rewarded (and requisite for any measure of success) in large-firm law (“biglaw”). It is not what most men want in a relationship.

Are a woman’s accomplishments treasured by men? Yes, absolutely. Skill, passion, intelligence, dedication, and artistic talent are major turn-ons. That said, while the difference between a “10” concert pianist and an “8” matter for one who aspires to the world stage, it’s just not an important factor in a relationship. Moreover, sacrificing important virtues for the sake of achievement, as is required in the most cutthroat careers (investment banking and large-firm law) makes a woman undesirable.

2. I thought confidence was attractive vs. confidence in a woman is not required. A woman’s confidence is an asset in a relationship, and a major turn-on in the bedroom. Yes, it is very attractive for a woman to confident, just as it is for her to be accomplished.

The world of “game”, however, is that of the crude sexual market. Sexual market value (SMV) is different altogether from desirability in the context of long-term relationships, to the point that there’s very little overlap. (This is one of the reasons why combat dating, casual sex, and the nightlife scene are among the worst places to look for relationships.) A woman’s SMV is based on her ability to provoke short-term, r-selective sexual desire. Intellectual, personal, and spiritual confidence– all of which matter immensely in long-term, loving relationships– have no bearing on a woman’s SMV. Even sexual confidence, although it makes a woman great in bed, does not appreciably raise her SMV. Her “market value” is largely determined by her looks, although it can be boosted via a certain bitchy social confidence that many men conflate with physical attractiveness, because they lack the self-awareness to recognize its influence.

On a related note, here’s a nasty secret about SMV. It has very little correlation, if any, to whether a person is good in bed. The casual-sex scene is focused entirely on the pursuit of social status, not great sexual experiences. In fact, most people would agree that peak sexual experiences require intimacy, trust, and love between the two partners, and are therefore completely impossible on the casual scene.

3. I thought men enjoyed curves vs. men are turned off by less than slender. We’re all different. I’d say, in general, that I prefer a curvy and slightly muscular build with a BMI around 21-22. On a 5’8 (173cm) woman, this would be 138-145 pounds (63-66kg). Muscle, curves, fat– I like it all, in moderation. My tastes differ from those of the stereotypical male in other ways: I prefer small-to-medium breasts (perky A-cups) and dark skin color. I also find small bellies– the kind that are flat when a woman is standing, but soft and slightly pudgy when she sits– irresistably sexy. We men are all different in what we like.

What’s relevant to a woman’s success on the sexual market is the ratio of the number of men who prefer her body type to the number of women who have it. About 0.5% of men prefer obese women. If only 0.25% of American women were obese, instead of over 30%, they’d be “niche” lovers in a privileged position. Very thin women are in a good position because they’re preferred by such a large percentage of men but, in my experience, many of those are not the best men, just as women who prefer six-pack abs tend to be uncultured. The men who criticize their BMI-20 girlfriends for being “too fat” tend to be jackasses in other ways– misogynists, cheaters, bad lovers, and creeps.

Also, let’s not forget that the men who are most critical of womens’ bodies are those who have very little experience with real women. Men with even modest amounts of experience know that the emotional context triumphs over minor nuances in physical appearance. The Internets harbor quite a few basement virgins with this attitude, but I wouldn’t put much stock in what they think, unless one is interested in dating men like this guy (watch 1:00 – 2:00).

4. I thought aging was natural and acceptable vs. aging is ugly you might as well die. On the sexual market, a woman’s value plummets precipitously in her early 30s but, as I’ve said before, SMV is irrelevant to a woman’s long-term desirability. Desirable men marry women in their 30s and 40s all the time. In fact, most desirable men I know in their 30s and 40s prefer a woman 2-5 years younger than they are, not 10-20.

Men’s preferences for age gaps tend to be correlated to their inexperience, and it’s easy to imagine why. I’m 26, and although maturity is much more important than age, I’d most likely prefer to be with a woman of 23-26. I have no desire to date a 20-year-old. Why? Because I have before, when I was 23. I’ve dated women of every age between 17 and 22, and I’m basically done with those ages. Most of the older men who prefer women in their late teens and early 20s, in my observation, are those who never had the chance to date attractive women when they were young. I have, and I’ve moved on.

A woman whose self-worth is tied to her sexual market value, and to a steady diet of crass male attention, “might as well die” on her 30th birthday, because these benefits are about to recede from her life forever. Women with more mature senses of self-worth generally do fine. If they take care of themselves and age well, they’re highly desired by men their own age (including, if they’re married, their husbands) for long-term relationships.

As for aging being “ugly”, I don’t think so. I know some very good-looking 80-year-olds. They aren’t sexy to a 26-year-old’s eye, but they’re still attractive people. Attractive young people tend to age into attractive older people, even though they don’t inspire carnal lust later in life. Besides, very few people are ugly, even among those who are overweight. Most people I find sexually unattractive, but I would qualify far less than 1% of people I meet as ugly.

Moreover, even beauty itself is not necessarily tied to youth or SMV. Consider Michelle Obama. She’s a stunningly beautiful person, physically and otherwise, but I certainly wouldn’t consider her a sex symbol. Her beauty is derived from her elegance, intelligence, passion, and physical comeliness– not raw sex appeal. As a 45-year-old woman, her SMV (outside of her marriage) is virtually nonexistent, but I’d be thrilled to marry a lady like her, and one who ages as well as she does; and it’s no surprise that her husband, even with the presidency and millions of options, adores her. I bet he’s faithful to her as well; if he weren’t, I’d be angry, because she’s a wonderful woman.

Most men in happy marriages remain in love with their wives, even as they age. Who minds a couple laugh lines on the face one fell in love with? They’re a reminder of times enjoyed together. On that note, shared memories and depths of intimacy achieved are not easily replaced, and keep a wife’s “marital value” buoyant, rendering what happens to her SMV utterly irrelevant.

5. I believed I had value vs. to men I have very little. You do have value, in the world of long-term relationships. If you’re in a happy marriage, your husband will adore and treasure you.

On the casual sexual marketplace, however, people are interchangeable commodities, valued and priced according to a single measure of status. Absolutely no one is exempt from this. For a woman, this is largely determined by her appearance; for a man, it’s based on his “psychosocial dominance”, or Game. People who find this immoral or appalling, such as me, are best to avoid the casual-sex market and the combat-dating racket at all costs.

It’s important to note that “Game’s” tenets are often self-confirming biases. People with such a dismal view of human nature tend to find themselves surrounded with low-quality people, and the behaviors they encounter confirm their negative stances. “Game” is calibrated toward sociosexual success with low-quality people, the reason for this being their sheer number. In truth, the quality of people is not distributed like a bell curve. It’s shaped much more like a pyramid, and those who desire lifestyles of high-frequency sexuality must target the wide but dismal base of it.

6. I was mate selective because of personality type vs. I am hypergamous due to biological drive. “Hypergamy” is a difficult word to discuss, because it means different things to different audiences. There’s good hypergamy and bad. For women to desire men for their character, intelligence, integrity, ambition, and integrity is a great form of hypergamy, and one that impels society to grow. For women to desire men based on their sociosexual dominance or because those men are desired by other females (preselection) is bad hypergamy. The word hypergamy is used pejoratively in the Roissy-sphere, but largely because the style of hypergamy seen in the world of casual sex, Game, and combat dating is the disgusting and immoral variety. Hypergamy doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

It’s virtuous for a woman to be selective, but vicious for her to be picky. The distinction is as follows: the selective woman places a high value on intimacy, love, and men worthy of her affections. She gives her body and heart only to men who earn them, but does not reject men prematurely. The picky woman is one who rejects men for trivial reasons, such as poor fashion sense or a lack of Game.

7. I thought men were just men vs. men are alpha, beta, omega and zeta. The sexual marketplace, and the reversion to pre-monogamous sexual norms, created these artifacts. Alphas are the men who succeed in this nightmarish world, much like the rats and vermin that inhabit ruined environments. Betas are men, leaning toward monogamy, who are desirable for long-term relationships, and who succeeded in the previous regime, but are shortchanged by this one. Gammas (or omegas) are the men who succeed at neither, and often make fools of themselves attempting to become “alpha”. Zetas are analytically connected to the distribution of the prime numbers.

8. I thought racism had died out vs. racism is alive & well. The world of casual sex and combat dating is hellish, bringing out the worst in people. It’s also one of the most superficial social environments on earth, focused intensely on physical presence. This means that race will undeniably have a major role in it. For woman, race has a strong but complex effect on her SMV. For example, the obnoxious alphas often desire racial variety for the sake of “collecting” a complete set of racial categories, but they prefer to date blonde white women for the status benefits afforded. By contrast, the betas, who are significantly more desirable for (and desiring of) long-term relationships, tend to be very open to dating women of all races, and many are dating interracially. Love is far too beautiful to be rejected on such trivial grounds.

Racism is dying out, slowly, but this society has a long way to go. Interracial love, relationships and marriage are bringing down racial barriers rapidly, although the dehumanizing and ruthlessly competitive environment of casual sex and combat dating is one of the last places we’ll see racism disappear.

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Beta. In software, it represents a cutting-edge product that is still a work in progress. In gender dynamics, applied to a man, it means a man whose sexual power is artificially depressed by the crude sexual marketplace of an imploding culture that values cheap and horrible things. “Beta” describes a large range of men, from the social 15th to 98th percentile; at the top, these men are as “good”, by any reasonable standard, as the “alphas”. They’re often attractive, intelligent, and sociable, but lack the calculated social dominance necessary to attract women in the modern, instant-gratification-obsessed dating culture. Unskilled at triggering “the spark” immediately, they’re often passed over entirely.

Are there beta females? I believe so. It seems, out on the dating market, that a lot of women are shallow, useless and whorish, but most of the women I know off-market (friends, friends’ girlfriends) are not like this. I’m tempted to make a “silent majority” argument in favor of the average woman being a relatively kind, sweet person. Why is she so rarely found on the dating scene, instead pestilent with serial daters and casual-sexing whores? Because she’s uncomfortable there. The beta “good girl” either finds a mate early, in college, or she waits. Not liking the dating scene, she doesn’t go there, Not comfortable approaching men, she doesn’t. She joins churches and book clubs and hiking groups, makes a few close female friends, and hopes to meet her “prince” through these safer, sanitized venues. She might create a profile on an online dating site or two, but nothing much ever comes of it. She often goes into her 30s single and inexperienced, even though absolutely nothing is wrong with her. Her standards are high, but justifiably and not unreasonably so. Her tastes in men are evolved– she likes intelligence and kindness more than bullshit social dominance. She’s even pretty, although usually not “hot”. She’s a great girl, if a man can find her.

Women have an alpha/beta problem, but it’s of a different sort altogether. I blogged about the alpha female archetype last week, and how her toxic behavior is seeping into American culture. This time, I’ll post about the female “beta” affliction.

Despite feminism, men are still responsible for making approaches, while women play the passive role. The male is the initiator in about 90% of relationships, and 99% of those that form outside of an educational institution. Women must to be carried into the relationship. Let’s consider how this plays out for the betas in both sexes. The “beta” male approaches women as often and eagerly– if not moreso– as the alpha male. The problem is that womanizing is not his natural form, and he hasn’t developed the skills that have become second nature to serial seducers. In contrast to these men, he looks like an awkward fool, much like an inexperienced juggler or a talentless freestyle rapper. (“I got the rhymes but I’m never on time and they’re sour like a lime; I should just pantomime, yo.”)

Women rarely approach men. This, obviously, is extremely unfortunate for the beta males. The approacher starts from a slight position of inferiority that betas are bad at overcoming. Men who are objectively desirable, but lack the domain-specific social skills of “game”, would have an easier time with women if the ladies were willing to do some of the legwork. I will also argue that beta females will benefit from such a regime.

Women are approached a lot, while lingering gender roles prevent them from making approaches. Women are socialized to believe that “if he likes you, he’ll come to you” and that they should “sit back, look pretty, and be chased”. I don’t think this is true. Often, the opposite is. A lot of men have no problem chasing “one-nighter girls”, because there is no feeling of loss if they fail, but become very awkward and shy around women they really like. Women have also been led to believe that it’s slutty for a woman to approach a man, which is patently ridiculous. After all, this isn’t the 1890s, and we have enough actual sluts running around this world that for a girl to ask a man out for coffee shouldn’t raise an eyebrow.

Many women have never made an approach in their entire lives. Therefore, they have never been rejected. I know many women who have never been dumped, either. So rejection– only as irksome, for seasoned men, as being caught in a rainstorm– terrifies women as much as it did us at age 13. Ladies seem to believe they can’t handle it. Rendered incapable of approaching men, women are stuck selecting men from the set who approach them. Women are approached often, of course, but much of the attention thrown their way is of extremely low quality.

Beta women are often more desirable than “alphas”– intelligent, beautiful, and kind– but lack the edge that would qualify them as “hot”. This is the “girl next door” archetype. She has A- or B-cup breasts, shoulder-length hair, and, except when swimming, won’t wear anything skimpier than a tanktop. Such women are approached often by male standards, but not nearly as often as the flashier, “hot” alpha women. Alpha women generally get an order of magnitude more volume in approaches.

An example of this is blondeness. Men will rate an otherwise identical blonde and brunette to be roughly equal in attractiveness, and will usually rate the brunette slightly better as a long-term partner. Men, in their intelligent and rational minds, do not have such a strong preference for blonde women. Yet, at a bar, the blonde will be approached three or more times as often. The same holds true for black women; most white men are not afraid of dating or marrying black women, but it’s still uncommon for them to approach them. Such factors, irrelevant to long-term relationships, are numerous and they compound geometrically. Some are ephemeral or controllable– for example, a woman exposing her shoulders, despite their being only a mildly sexual body part, at least doubles her visibility to men. Others are immutable and permanent features. The result of this is that the “girl-next-door” beta, likely to be of higher long-term value than “hot” counterpart, will be approached 10 to 50 times less often. The same “power law” distribution we see in men’s success in approaches also appears in womens’ frequencies of approaches.

The beta female is approached ridiculously often by male standards; but within her frame of comparison, she’s not. Her “outgoing” sister with the tramp stamp is approached by 25 times as many men, leaving her feeling unattractive in comparison, and relatively unwanted. Her confidence wanes, for the same reason the beta male’s does– it’s just insulting to see a human of low quality enjoying 5-50 times as much sexual or social opportunity, for absolutely no good reason. This renders her confused. She knows she’s beautiful, smart, and interesting, but can’t see to land the right man. Men must be “intimidated” by her intelligence, she presumes. Or “all the good ones are taken”, leaving only the bottom-feeders. Or nice guys are out there, but they don’t approach her.

No, Sally: it’s more like this. When it comes to whom they approach and how they approach these women, most men are fucking idiots. They don’t know what they’re doing, and they often work against their own interests. As execrable a trait as I find “preselection” in women, it exists just as strongly in men on the bar/party scene that is modern society’s only dating avenue left. It even happens in speed dating, a structured dating environment designed to give the betas “equal time”. The flashier, bubbly/slutty girls are designated as “hot” and the herb herd mentality sets in. These men aren’t looking for long-term relationships, but trying to assert their status. Combat dating, yo.

Beta women, like beta men, are able to find long-term relationships, but the dry and single spells between them are often long. These women still get attention from men, but not much in the way of quality, because most attention women receive is spam. At least in the short term, statistics are not in the beta girl’s favor. Beta women can improve their prospects in two ways. The first is to start approaching men. Yes, it will be awkward, and rejection will happen. If men can deal with it, so can women. Moreover, we (unlike women) are quite forgiving of mild social awkwardness in a person we like– it’s endearing– so a woman’s concern about awkwardness in making an approach should not hinder her. Even if she’s never done it before, it can’t hurt.

The second suggestion is that women need to focus this newfound assertiveness on the right men. Many women already are assertive, but only with hard-to-get alpha shitheads, and it gets them nowhere. If you’re an intelligent, kind “girl next door”– a “7”, following the crude practice of placing a woman’s beauty on a 0-10 scale– there are millions of men who would love to marry you and, when they fall in love, they will see you as the most beautiful woman in the world. Potential great husbands exist, but they’re almost certainly all “beta”. This doesn’t mean that they’re milquetoast, boring or passive. It merely means that they lack the domain-specific skills necessary to trigger a romantic “spark” in the first 90 seconds of conversation. In other words, they don’t do this. Beta males trigger the K-selective, but not the r-selective, sex drive. The K-drive is much more powerful than the r-drive, but delayed in its onset. It never goes off “at first sight”. This means that, with a beta, the first romantic stirrings might emerge as late as the end of the second date, and a woman might not want to sleep with him until she’s known him for two months. Luckily for her, most “beta” men are willing to wait a few months before having sex, a small sacrifice for the right woman. They have patience, and women would be wise to develop it as well. Only in Hollywood does “the spark” happen 23 minutes after the male and female leads are introduced.

Attractive, intelligent women who find themselves nonetheless ignored by the impulsive, frenetic dating market are not imagining things. Women have an alpha problem as nasty as the one that men face. On the other hand, if women implement the two suggestions given above, they’ll not only make their own lives better, but those of a number of men, as well. Everyone wins.

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Before we start, I shan’t use “nice guy” without defining it first: a “nice guy” is man whose sexual intentions are focused on love and relationships, with no interest in high-frequency promiscuity or social dominance. A nice guy is one who treats others as he would like to be treated, in friendships as well as in dating. A “nice guy” need not be milquetoast or weak; in fact, most “nice guys” aren’t.

Paul Graham, a celebrity in the technology/startup community, is known for his brilliant essays on a wide variety of topics. (However, he is completely wrong about ML and static typing. Haskell is the pwn sauce.) Among them is “Why Nerds Are Unpopular“. Although long, I recommend reading it in full. The ideas central to his essay apply to the current dating and sexual market, so I’m posting excerpts, with commentary, here.

I know a lot of people who were nerds in school, and they all tell the same story: there is a strong correlation between being smart and being a nerd, and an even stronger inverse correlation between being a nerd and being popular. Being smart seems to make you unpopular.

Why? To someone in school now, that may seem an odd question to ask. The mere fact is so overwhelming that it may seem strange to imagine that it could be any other way. But it could. Being smart doesn’t make you an outcast in elementary school. Nor does it harm you in the real world. Nor, as far as I can tell, is the problem so bad in most other countries. But in a typical American secondary school, being smart is likely to make your life difficult. Why? […]

In the schools I went to, being smart just didn’t matter much. Kids didn’t admire it or despise it. All other things being equal, they would have preferred to be on the smart side of average rather than the dumb side, but intelligence counted far less than, say, physical appearance, charisma, or athletic ability.

So if intelligence in itself is not a factor in popularity, why are smart kids so consistently unpopular? The answer, I think, is that they don’t really want to be popular.

If someone had told me that at the time, I would have laughed at him. Being unpopular in school makes kids miserable, some of them so miserable that they commit suicide. Telling me that I didn’t want to be popular would have seemed like telling someone dying of thirst in a desert that he didn’t want a glass of water. Of course I wanted to be popular.

But in fact I didn’t, not enough. There was something else I wanted more: to be smart. Not simply to do well in school, though that counted for something, but to design beautiful rockets, or to write well, or to understand how to program computers. In general, to make great things. […]

Nerds serve two masters. They want to be popular, certainly, but they want even more to be smart. And popularity is not something you can do in your spare time, not in the fiercely competitive environment of an American secondary school. (All emphasis mine.)

Paul’s thesis, which I consider correct, is that smart high school students aren’t popular because they don’t work hard enough at being so. I tend to agree. I wouldn’t say that nerds are unpopular. They’re respected but generally ignored, never popular and viewed as almost asexual. They get picked on by a few people, but most people are too wrapped up in their own concerns to bother the nerds. A nerd who tries very hard to be popular will be struck down, for punching above his weight, but no one is out to pick on him just because he’s smart.

If you don’t work hard to be popular in high school, you probably won’t be. You may be respected and have good friends, but you won’t reach the A-list. Likewise, if you don’t strive for psychosocial dominance, or “alpha” status on the dating market, you won’t have it. Here we confront the plight of the “nice guy” or “beta male”: too invested in higher interests– love, work, art, spirituality– to enter the idiotic “alpha” contest with force, he makes an insufficient entrance or none at all. He lacks “game”.

[…] I wonder if anyone in the world works harder at anything than American school kids work at popularity. Navy SEALs and neurosurgery residents seem slackers by comparison. They occasionally take vacations; some even have hobbies. An American teenager may work at being popular every waking hour, 365 days a year.

I don’t mean to suggest they do this consciously. Some of them truly are little Machiavellis, but what I really mean here is that teenagers are always on duty as conformists.

The conformity is very similar to what we see in combat dating, defined as dating in which the assertion and assessment of social status take priority over growing to know, and eventually love, another person. Men want to bed the “objective HB9” because other guys desire her, so she’s a challenge. Women want the socially dominant badboy whom other girls want (preselection). In both cases, they’re operating against their own interests. The runner-up “beta”, getting one-tenth the attention, is often just as attractive, more interesting, and better suited for a long-term relationship. To pursue him or her would be a more intelligent decision, but one that is rarely made.

For betas to pursue each other would be the logical decision, but they generally lack the competence to find each other in the modern dating market. Beta males are very unskilled at discerning actual nerdy women from garden-variety bubbly/slutty girls who’ve co-opted the “quirky” look and aura. Beta females are shy and rarely make any approaches.

So far I’ve been finessing the relationship between smart and nerd, using them as if they were interchangeable. In fact it’s only the context that makes them so. A nerd is someone who isn’t socially adept enough. But “enough” depends on where you are. In a typical American school, standards for coolness are so high (or at least, so specific) that you don’t have to be especially awkward to look awkward by comparison.

This sounds exactly like the plight of the beta male. His social skills are average or better– more than enough to excel in the workplace, make friends, and hold a family together. Yet, he lacks a specialized and highly superficial set of social skills, and looks like a doofus (in comparison to the “suave” men) when he tries to get a date.

Around the age of eleven, though, kids seem to start treating their family as a day job. They create a new world among themselves, and standing in this world is what matters, not standing in their family. Indeed, being in trouble in their family can win them points in the world they care about.

The problem is, the world these kids create for themselves is at first a very crude one. If you leave a bunch of eleven-year-olds to their own devices, what you get is Lord of the Flies. Like a lot of American kids, I read this book in school. Presumably it was not a coincidence. Presumably someone wanted to point out to us that we were savages, and that we had made ourselves a cruel and stupid world. This was too subtle for me. While the book seemed entirely believable, I didn’t get the additional message. I wish they had just told us outright that we were savages and our world was stupid.

Kids are supposed to grow up, and adolescent cruelty should end. Should. Casual sex is an adolescent behavior, not an adult one. So is status-obsessed dating. The rise of “hookup culture” and combat dating among young urban professionals are an example of juvenilization, and the world they’ve spawned is, in fact, “cruel and stupid”. Americans are refusing to grow up, even in their 20s and 30s.

Public school teachers are in much the same position as prison wardens. Wardens’ main concern is to keep the prisoners on the premises. They also need to keep them fed, and as far as possible prevent them from killing one another. Beyond that, they want to have as little to do with the prisoners as possible, so they leave them to create whatever social organization they want. From what I’ve read, the society that the prisoners create is warped, savage, and pervasive, and it is no fun to be at the bottom of it.

In outline, it was the same at the schools I went to. The most important thing was to stay on the premises. While there, the authorities fed you, prevented overt violence, and made some effort to teach you something. But beyond that they didn’t want to have too much to do with the kids. Like prison wardens, the teachers mostly left us to ourselves. And, like prisoners, the culture we created was barbaric.

Why is the real world more hospitable to nerds? It might seem that the answer is simply that it’s populated by adults, who are too mature to pick on one another. But I don’t think this is true. Adults in prison certainly pick on one another. And so, apparently, do society wives; in some parts of Manhattan, life for women sounds like a continuation of high school, with all the same petty intrigues.

High school inherits its culture from the notion of an educational “factory”, and has been slow to deviate from this stencil due to the sleepy, gradual nature of suburban life. Prisons are institutions whose purpose is to confine and punish. Socialites have empty, pointless lives. All of the environments thus created are permissive but disempowering— you can do almost anything, but nothing you do matters– and in such situations, people become cruel and perverse. Respect fades and cruelty becomes common. This was observed most poignantly in Phillip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment. Well-adjusted college students were placed into a makeshift prison culture and assigned roles of authority or submission. The experiment was terminated early because they were treating each other so badly.

The battleground of casual sex and combat dating, where men and women refuse to treat each other with basic respect, is a similar place: permissive but disempowering. You can fuck 50 people per year if you want, but you’ll be laughed at and treated as “clingy” if you strive for a serious relationship; you’re not even supposed, many advice-givers assert, to return calls! Most well-adjusted people do not want to be in this game, but there seems to be no alternative. One can abstain from casual sex, as I do, but avoiding combat dating is harder. Even I, “nice guy” of the Roissy-sphere, have picked up an abominable array of asshole dating habits over the years.

I think the important thing about the real world is not that it’s populated by adults, but that it’s very large, and the things you do have real effects. (Emphasis mine.) That’s what school, prison, and ladies-who-lunch all lack. The inhabitants of all those worlds are trapped in little bubbles where nothing they do can have more than a local effect. Naturally these societies degenerate into savagery. They have no function for their form to follow.

When the things you do have real effects, it’s no longer enough just to be pleasing. It starts to be important to get the right answers, and that’s where nerds show to advantage. Bill Gates will of course come to mind. Though notoriously lacking in social skills, he gets the right answers, at least as measured in revenue.

In the romantic sphere, the much-needed “real effects” are love– one of the most beautiful emotions we can experience– the heights of sexual experience that can only be achieved with a loving partner, and family formation. These give meaning to dating, romantic relationships, and sexuality. Without them, all of these are utterly meaningless. So, whatever happened to the “adult world” in which dating and sex were geared toward these ends? Why are we, the urban 20- and 30-somethings, possibly the richest and smartest generational subculture in history, completely unable to get ourselves out of a high-school-esque, “game”-ridden, sexual-marketplace hell? I can’t answer that. I wish I knew.

As a thirteen-year-old kid, I didn’t have much more experience of the world than what I saw immediately around me. The warped little world we lived in was, I thought, the world. The world seemed cruel and boring, and I’m not sure which was worse.

Because I didn’t fit into this world, I thought that something must be wrong with me. I didn’t realize that the reason we nerds didn’t fit in was that in some ways we were a step ahead. We were already thinking about the kind of things that matter in the real world, instead of spending all our time playing an exacting but mostly pointless game like the others.

Many 20- to 35-year-old betas feel the exact same way about modern dating. Unfortunately, the “real world” of love and marriage we had hoped to graduate into is being depopulated rapidly. Our generation has spent too much time learning “game” and too little time building the relational skills necessary to form relationships based on (in this order, with each supporting its predecessors and successors) respect, friendship, admiration, love, and then sex and (optionally) family formation.

And as for the schools, they were just holding pens within this fake world. Officially the purpose of schools is to teach kids. In fact their primary purpose is to keep kids locked up in one place for a big chunk of the day so adults can get things done. And I have no problem with this: in a specialized industrial society, it would be a disaster to have kids running around loose.

What bothers me is not that the kids are kept in prisons, but that (a) they aren’t told about it, and (b) the prisons are run mostly by the inmates. Kids are sent off to spend six years memorizing meaningless facts in a world ruled by a caste of giants who run after an oblong brown ball, as if this were the most natural thing in the world. And if they balk at this surreal cocktail, they’re called misfits.

We also have a “caste of giants” in urban combat dating. We call them “alpha males” or “pickup artists”. Instead of chasing a football, which at least counts as physical exercise, they develop a set of domain-specific social skills suited to a purpose that, thirty years ago, would be found extremely distasteful.

In almost any group of people you’ll find hierarchy. When groups of adults form in the real world, it’s generally for some common purpose, and the leaders end up being those who are best at it. The problem with most schools is, they have no purpose. But hierarchy there must be. And so the kids make one out of nothing.

We have a phrase to describe what happens when rankings have to be created without any meaningful criteria. We say that the situation degenerates into a popularity contest. And that’s exactly what happens in most American schools. Instead of depending on some real test, one’s rank depends mostly on one’s ability to increase one’s rank. It’s like the court of Louis XIV. There is no external opponent, so the kids become one another’s opponents. (Emphasis mine.)

I think it’s obvious how this applies to “game”. The single strongest determinant of whether a modern, urban woman will date or sleep with a man is if he has learned the superficial and manipulative skills necessary to get a woman to sleep with him. Modern women are actually consciously attracted to men with game, because it’s a signal of preselection, superficial sociosexual confidence, and experience. None of these would matter in the context of a loving relationship that develops over time.

The mediocrity of American public schools has worse consequences than just making kids unhappy for six years. It breeds a rebelliousness that actively drives kids away from the things they’re supposed to be learning.

Rebellion out of frustration? Yes. As much enjoyment as I get from bashing women and their behavior on the internet, I’d rather be in the arms of one.

And– shit, man– the fact that we’ve had an adult Columbine recently makes even more sense.

I mistrusted words like “character” and “integrity” because they had been so debased by adults. As they were used then, these words all seemed to mean the same thing: obedience. The kids who got praised for these qualities tended to be at best dull-witted prize bulls, and at worst facile schmoozers. If that was what character and integrity were, I wanted no part of them.

Hot Chicks With Douchebags.

If life seems awful to kids, it’s neither because hormones are turning you all into monsters (as your parents believe), nor because life actually is awful (as you believe). It’s because the adults, who no longer have any economic use for you, have abandoned you to spend years cooped up together with nothing real to do. Any society of that type is awful to live in. You don’t have to look any further to explain why teenage kids are unhappy.

Likewise, I disagree with the Roissy-ite misogynists who claim that all men are promiscuous, superficial assholes, and that women are alpha-seeking and amoral sluts. Human “nature” is to be infinitely flexible and adaptable, intelligent even beyond our own comprehension. Casual sex and combat dating have created a horrendous sexual environment but we, as humans, don’t have to be this way. A lot of us don’t want to be like this, and are desperately trying to find a way out.

I’ve said some harsh things in this essay, but really the thesis is an optimistic one– that several problems we take for granted are in fact not insoluble after all. Teenage kids are not inherently unhappy monsters. That should be encouraging news to kids and adults both.

Amen, Paul. I think the same holds true of yuppies in their 20s. Many of us want to treat each other better, and to be treated better, and eventually to find love. Unfortunately, the normal method of achieving this– a patient dating process based on companionship and admiration, as opposed to the more modern one driven by sexual impulsiveness and obsessions over social status– is rapidly fading from the scene. People don’t even know how to do it anymore.

Our “nature” can be improved, and we can graduate to a “real world” better than the hell we’ve created, but we face two challenges that disaffected high schoolers don’t. First, unlike high school students, we have no one to blame. It’s not our bosses or our parents or even pop-culture that created this execrable sociosexual environment. It’s us. It’s men who use “game” and women who fall for it. It’s all the people out there– men and women, myself not excluded– who’ve made stupid dating and sexual choices in the past, rewarded bad behavior, and polluted the environment with a mean spirit and bitterness.

Second, high school has a defined end. Traditionally, graduating from high school and attending college meant that one would be entering an environment that encouraged and nurtured intellectualism, growth, and refinement. (Once “hookup culture” crept into the college scene, college’s social environment became an extension of high school.) The “real world”, as Graham defines it, begins when high school and its phony social contests end. Unfortunately, major cities nurture a dating environment that refuses to advance beyond adolescence. When the majority of young professionals are playing the combat dating game, it’s almost impossible to avoid it. Many of us desperately want to evolve into some notion of the “real world”, where things that actually matter (e.g. love, integrity, patience) are valued, but we fail to do so. Game über alles.

There’s hope. As dismal as Manhattan’s dating environment may seem, it’s not necessarily destined to remain this way forever. Despite the doom-peddlers’ extremely negative take on human nature– especially female human nature– I think we are capable of something much better than what exists. In fact, with sufficient good will and intelligence, we can create a better dating environment than any that has ever existed. (About half of the women I’ve dated I would not have been able to legally marry, in some U.S. states, before 1967.)

As adults, we don’t turn on our close friends when they lose their jobs or get sick, and we don’t stuff people in lockers at the workplace. Even in actual high school, at least as I remember it, peoples’ behavior wasn’t 1/50 as evil as Hollywood depictions of high school let me to expect– and I was a nerd at the 30th-percentile of popularity. So I don’t believe there’s anything natural or inevitable about an opposite-sex landscape characterized by adolescent behaviors like casual sex and combat dating, and I think we, as humans, can do a whole lot better.

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