Monthly Archives: September 2011

An Elder’s Wisdom on Mediocrity and Marriage

The always-insightful Brendan has stepped back from the Manosphere, but occasionally returns to comment on threads. He graced a recent discussion at Dalrock’s place with his inimitable, straightforward brilliance.

In response to a reader who noted that all married men at recent social events had strongly suggested he not marry, I commented thusly:

Buck’s comment is what concerns me whenever I think about the overall marital marketplace. I am guessing marriage follows a 20-60-20 distribution – about 20% are happy, 60% mediocre, and 20% absolutely miserable.

Brendan then weighed in (the remainder of the post is his words).

“I think that’s about right, but that there is fluidity between those bands and also some variety within them, especially in the middle one. That is, marriages can, and do, migrate from happy to mediocre and then possibly stay there or migrate back to happy or deteriorate further into miserable. Some marriages are mediocre from the beginning, too.

Whether they last has more to do with the personalities involved (especially of the woman), expectations and values.

Certain personas are less tolerant of mediocrity than others, even if there are some real benefits to the marriage, and will simply not be able to tolerate that situation long-term. Sometimes this is innate (think of the person who has to spend five minutes explaining to the waiter precisely how he/she wants the meal prepared or who routinely sends food back and so on), and sometimes it is egged-on (as Dalrock talks about here, as an aspect of choice addiction), but when it is present it tends to undermine the ability to tolerate a mediocre situation for anything longer than a relatively short period of time.

Expectations play a significant role, too. If you have very high expectations for the “fun” and “happy” aspects of marriage, and yours doesn’t satisfy those, dissatisfaction goes through the roof very quickly. This is, I think, a challenge for many couples today, precisely because expectations are so very high, and people generally plan to have “all their ducks in a row” before they get married — meaning that if expectations are not satisfied durably once the work and effort of getting said ducks in a row has been done, exit visas may be sought out relatively quickly to replace the situation with one that satisfies expectations and “justifies” the effort of getting said ducks in a row.

And, of course, values play a role, but probably the least significant one. Values are easily over-ridden by a rationalization hamster working for a mediocrity-intolerant persona or a person who has had his/her expectations dashed, regardless of “values”. Someone who is fundamentally dissatisfied and less mediocrity tolerant will have a much harder time sticking to their values than someone who is more “easy-going” (for lack of a better word) or more realistic in expectations will.

There are men and women on both sides of these spectra, but in my own experience, women are, very generally, the ones with the higher expectations in marriages *and* often the ones who are less mediocrity tolerant than men are. These dynamics tend to make women unhappy in the marriages *first*, before their husbands are — because their husbands are more tolerant of mediocrity and/or had different expectations going in. What happens next, of course, depends on the dynamics of the situation and the people involved, but generally once that wifely unhappiness is expressed, men tend to start getting unhappy. Sometimes this leads tro cheating. Sometimes it leads to divorce. And sometimes it leads to a kind of marital stalemate — i.e., a long-term low mediocre or poor marriage that people stay in because of values or kids or other circumstances. It very much varies in terms of the result. But the key, it seems to me, is avoiding certain personality types and certain expectation horizons when you are entering marriage, because these are the kinds of things that can lead to unhappiness very quickly in a life that is, by definition, going to be characterized by a good deal of routine and, yes, mediocrity.”

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The Mathematics of Love Are Mysterious

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quickmeme on Jon Finkel

From quickmeme.com’s “Good Guy Greg” series about a genuinely magnanimous guy.

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Mini-Field Report: When She Isolates

One of the key logistical steps of escalation/seduction is isolation, which is what it sounds like – the movement of a man and his target to heighten the sense of privacy and intimacy and remove distractions and cockblocks. It is so universal it was quoted in Athol Kay’s book, and in married/relationship life it takes on a more metaphysical meaning of getting your wife away from the stresses of the domestic sphere so she can feel comfortable being sexual without worrying the dishes need to get done.

My isolation game is hit and miss, but I was recently treated to a very subtle case of female-initiated isolation I was able to capitalize on.

After introducing a woman to a new form of mixed drink at my local, we returned to our clump of friend groups and continued chatting with each other. Her friend came up and told her “we’re going back to the bar.”

She said, “OK…I’ll be there in a minute.” And stayed with me.

A woman following a man’s invitation into an isolated position is one thing; a woman overtly deciding to not leave a man’s side to go back to her sisterhood is a higher class of IOI. We didn’t move, everyone else did – but she made sure we didn’t move with them. Being the game-sensitive man I am, I took it as a green light to escalate; she either wanted to be alone with me or was absurdly bored with her friends.

I invoked a Roosh gambit and challenged her to a staring contest. I accused her of cheating and told her my contact solution made me blink (I don’t wear contacts). She laughed. I moved in to kiss her and she demurred, shifting her head away with a “uh uh” kind of sound.

Key thing, she was still there. A real rejection would have included her excusing herself somehow. So I stayed, propped my arm against the wall to create frame and kept talking.

About ten minutes later we got onto the topic of body types and how picky women can be (she said she had broad tastes, which I used to feed her snowflake by telling her she was unlike most women), and she then felt the need to tell me I had “a nice body” and “a nice face.”

I looked her in the eye with mild surprise.

She didn’t say no to the second kiss.

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Spinster Math

In a post provocatively titled “Total Douchebag Domination,” Dalrock quotes Susan Walsh and links to her video entitled “Douchebag Math” in which she attempts to explain to tingle-following college women how hooking up with players creates more players. Those darn men are quite pragmatic, you see, and as they observe what works in the SMP, they learn to imitate it.

More and more nice guys are going to figure out that with an attitude and poor treatment of girls they are going to get what it is that they want.

Allow me to respond with a statistical thought experiment of my own.

WOMEN MARRY AT AN ASTOUNDING CLIP

Dalrock has made a blogging career out of compiling and exegizing marital statistics, a career so distinguished he made the brainz.com list of Top 100 blogs of 2010 after only six months online (a list also graced by Walsh, Athol Kay and the incomparable Roissy).

I cannot hope to even summarize Dalrock’s numerical research, but one key fact he’s uncovered is that approximately 90% of women marry by age 40. In other words, there is no perceptible “marriage strike,” at least not yet, on the part of men. What does manifest in the stats is a couple of interesting factors: a continuing trend of delaying marriage to later in life, and a definite drop in the number of divorced women remarrying (a “second marriage” strike.)

THE SHOW CAN’T GO ON

Even if there is no marriage strike in the numbers, it is incomprehensible to me and many others (Walsh is one of them though I can’t find the quote right now) that marriage rates will NOT decline. The cultural phenomena are aligned against it: the radical changes in college sexual practices over the past decade towards even-less-committed “hooking up” than the Greek and jock scenes had already been known for, the increasing gender imbalance in American colleges that threatens the female hypergamy instinct, the further decline of romantic relationships as a feature of even mid-20’s young adult lifestyle, and the normalization of long-term cohabitation as a parallel alternative to a full marriage (which itself is a result of the degradation of marriage caused by no-fault divorce which made marriages themselves “disposable.”)

While I believe the committed MGTOW (men going their own way) lifestyle will be attractive to only a small subset of men, as I said above, men are generally quite pragmatic. Many of those pragmatic men who desire relationships with women will stop short of marriage if it is not in their interests, and still others will not find a woman sufficiently worthy of their marital commitment within the timeframe in which marriage is the biggest net benefit to their life (i.e. the childbearing years and the years in which they are doing the most active, interesting things with their lives).

The point of this post is not to debate the costs and benefits of marriage; however to allude to the pragmatic position, I will quote radio host and four-time divorcee Tom Leykis: “I do not say marriage is bad. I say there’s very little benefit to men, far less than women and children get from it – a man can get almost everything marriage used to provide without getting married today.”

INVOLUNTARY SPINSTERHOOD

Allow me now to play with some numbers.

Let’s use Dalrock’s numbers above and say that today, an adult woman has a 90% chance of being married within her young or early middle-age years.

Let’s say also that of the 10% that’s unmarried, half of those are “voluntary”  (lesbians, WGTOW, non-monogamists, or didn’t like the deal of marriage).

That means the other half of the 10% are “involuntary” – they didn’t cash their chips in when they had enough to exchange for marriage, they backed the wrong horse as a partner and he bailed on her, they exhibited a snotty entitled attitude and are humbled too late, they got really bad advice on spouse-hunting or whatnot. In any case, their lack of proximal committed maleness causes them pain and consternation. Susan Walsh noted to me the emergence of a new writing genre, that of “involuntary spinster literature” (which I shortened to the double-entendre “invol-spin.”)

ON THE MARGIN

Stats involving ratios near 1:1 can be very deceptive to analyze, and so to show what I am about to explain I like to do a statistical illustration involving hockey (eh). One of the stats used to measure goalies is save percentage – the ratio of shots on goal that the goalie prevents from getting in the net. If a goalie had a save percentage of 98%, but he has dropped to 96% lately, it doesn’t sound like a big drop. Those two percentage points are only a 2.1% decline in the value of the metric. But look at it from the reverse perspective – he used to let in 2% of the shots, now he’s letting in 4%. That’s a twofold increase, he’s allowing double the goals!

THE SORROW AND THE PITY

This is where the real trouble starts. Let’s finally say, for the sake of the argument, that in the coming generation the marriage rate is set to decline to around 80%. It doesn’t sound like a catastrophic decline, but it doubles the number of unmarried women.

But the impact could, and almost certainly will, be even greater than that. It’s likely that most of the additional single women will also be involuntary.

That would leave us, following my semi-cooked numbers, with THREE TIMES the number of involuntarily unmarried women. That’s two more cat ladies to go with every one we have now. So now we have a cohort that comprised 5% of women becoming up to 15%.

There is not going to be a full-on marriage strike anytime soon. But there doesn’t need to be one. The effects of the decline of marriage are going to hit very hard on the margin.

It’s like being the goalie…your save percentage drops a few points and all of a sudden you’re allowing in whole-number multiples of goals.

And considering how much carping we’re already seeing from women not getting what they think is their birthright in the sexual (and marital) marketplace, we best be prepared for a media cacophony.

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Possession

When the broadcast levee broke on so-called “alternative” music in 1993-1994, it brought with it a great variety of new sound: artists that had cut their teeth on the college scene and major-label talent that had yet to be commercially differentiated into the conventional categories of rock, pop and “adult contemporary.”

Part of this was no doubt due to radio stations playing with their formats to capture the market as much as an actual multithreaded musical movement, but no matter the cause, it was a joy to listen to. I could tune in late at night in the summer of ’94 and hear Counting Crows followed by Bad Religion followed by REM followed by Red Hot Chili Peppers followed by the Indigo Girls followed by Smashing Pumpkins followed by Pearl Jam, Nirvana or any number of vaguard grunge groups that had (willingly or not) pulled all the rest of the alternative artists onto the stage with them.

Hearing the opening organ vamp of Sarah McLachlan’s “Possession” always excited me; it had a controlled, pulsating smoothness and a rounded feminine edge that distinguished it from the more punkish, manic female groups of the day such as Hole or the Breeders.

I recall my guitar instructor had a mad crush on McLachlan. She really hit it big in the States in late 90’s with Fumbling Towards EcstasySurfacing and its killer single “Building a Mystery,” and headlining the Lilith Fair. She’s written a number of great songs. Possession remains my favorite, if only because it reminds of one of the most exciting musical times of my life.

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Scientific Evidence for the Game Effectiveness of Kino

Thanks to his Twitter (God that follow is addictive), psychology citation-master Eric Barker unwittingly chimed in on my morning post about the difficulty of learning kinesthetic social skills in today’s touch-averse American culture.

Previous research has shown that light tactile contact increases compliance to a wide variety of requests. However, the effect of touch on compliance to a courtship request has never been studied. In this paper, three experiments were conducted in a courtship context. In the first experiment, a young male confederate in a nightclub asked young women to dance with him during the period when slow songs were played. When formulating his request, the confederate touched (or not) the young woman on her forearm for 1 or 2 seconds. In the second experiment, a 20-year-old confederate approached a young woman in the street and asked her for her phone number. The request was again accompanied by a light touch (or not) on the young woman’s forearm. In both experiments, it was found that touch increased compliance to the man’s request. A replication of the second experiment accompanied with a survey administered to the female showed that high score of dominance was associated with tactile contact. The link between touch and the dominant position of the male was used to explain these results theoretically.

Source: “Courtship compliance: The effect of touch on women’s behavior” from Social Influence, Volume 2, Issue 2, 2007, Pages 81 – 97

Link here. As C. Everett Koop said, I think the debate is over.

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