Category Archives: living a good life

How The Game Saved Christmas

Merry Christmas Badger Hut readers (and Badgerettes).

Vox Day, Roissy and Athol Kay all had brilliant posts recently about surviving the machinations your woman might put you through this holiday season. For those who might be non-North American or otherwise not in the know (can’t speak to this in other countries), the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays can be times of enormous pressure and backbiting for American women – there’s a considerable cultural and media expectation that holidays be over-decoated, over-fed and over-friendlied, and that you are failing as a modern woman if you don’t measure up to the obsessive-compulsive mommy down the street who had her Christmas lights up the moment the last trick-or-treater left her porch on Halloween night. They’re fighting not only the airbrushed scenes they see on commercial TV, but also the memories of their own childhoods (and good memories tend to underrate the negatives and create un-meetable expectations by comparison).

Much of this expectation is organized around the party/dinner events on Thanksgiving and Christmas nights, but it also concerns giving and receiving gifts, managing extended-family squabbles and decorating the house. Men of good game reading this can already predict this mixture is a huge time-bomb for a relational explosion, a sort of high-stakes short-order test of a man’s domestic relationship game skills. It’s a classic instance of the wife’s priority no longer being about the marriage/family per se, and instead becoming about measuring herself against a materialistic or cultural script. Guys with “supermom” wives know how this can separate a husband and wife; the characteristic symptom is when she begins to view the husband as an annoying blocker in the middle of her plans. The solution, in short, is to view it like a supercharged fitness test she doesn’t even know she’s throwing: enforce your own frame and expectations over hers at some points, and at other points just don’t even bother getting into an argument about it.

If I had gotten the better of time, I might have posted this before the holiday when it might have been more useful to the readership; however I’m never one to let good advice go uncited.

First, Athol gives tips for the Thanksgiving dinner (which apply just as well to the Christmas meal):

once Thanksgiving was moved to our house, Jennifer has a DNA sequence that kicked in and made her totally responsible for the perfection that shall be Thanksgiving Dinner for everyone. Which is a polite way of saying she became Batshit Crazy on a short term basis related to this one meal.

Normally I advise medication or running when faced with a Batshit Crazy wife, in this case though, I recommend assistance and letting it all wash over you.

Some basic tips about the meal itself: [abridged and with comments by the Badger]

(1)  Arrange whatever seating pattern to enable both you and her to sit together, closest to the kitchen. This is so either one of you can get up and get something. Also it means you can put one hand on her thigh to direct her not to get up yet again. [also you can kino her during the meal to keep the romantic dynamic in play, and also shows that you two are a unit.]

(2)  It’s your job to Alpha her into at some point sitting the hell down and actually eating dinner. [realize that if someone doesn't give her an order she won't sit down and enjoy herself, and if you want her to keep respecting you that person had better be you and not her mother/sister/best friend.]

(4) You carve the turkey. [the man of the house carves the turkey. remember that episode of the Cosby Show when Cliff had Sondra's boyfriend Elvin cut the turkey?]

(7)  House cleaning happens the day before Thanksgiving. Direct everyone in the family to help with this. [you don't have to clean the entire house - put all the crap in a room no one is allowed to go into and lock it.]
(8)  Thanksgiving morning, the turkey goes in the oven…. and you both go get some exercise. [exercise does seem to lower the tension hormones. why not have a good romp before any guests arrive?]

(10) Before the meal. Nuts, cheese, crackers, spicy salami and shrimp. Leave it out, watch the hordes come. [and put some bottles of booze out so they can make some cocktails.]

(unnumbered) get a set of new plastic containers and just load them up with the leftovers and make sure everyone one on the way out. [brilliant!]

I also second Athol and Jennifer’s endorsement of Alton Brown’s turkey-brining method. Link is here, youtubes are here:

Vox Day on The Meal

Vox concurs with Athol’s advice to just “let her do her thing,” but for a more calculated reason in the game-theory sense:

Don’t bother offering to help with anything.  You’re not going to be able to do anything her way or to her standards.  Besides, she’s going to be judged on her performance, so even if you are a competent cook or gift wrapper, any assistance on your part will not count and thereby is rendered invalid on its face.

He then advises to take it upon yourself to do the dishes, thus relieving yourself of the burden of having to listen to half-drunken chatter amongst a captive audience as the meal winds down. Brilliant guy, that Vox.

Vox Day on Gift-Giving

The Boss of Alpha Game penned a pair of posts regarding presents as another possible fitness-test trap for men who want nothing more than to make their girl haaaappy on Christmas morning. First, he discussed a process by which women might denigrate the value of the gift they received so as to reduce the sense of obligation felt as a result of accepting the gift. Just read the whole thing here.

Allow me to riff for a moment: I’ve been working on a theory about why women hate beta-supplication game…the theory is that the totality of beta behavior triggers this uncomfortable feeling of obligation in the woman. Every favor, gift gift, dinner out, even times he forgives her for bitchy, crass or cruel behavior, inures her into a feeling she owes him something. And if there’s one thing I’ve found can kill a tingle with consistency, it’s the suggestion she owes some romantic debt (be it sex or love) to a man. (Just read the responses of women who say they want a better sex life but refuse ideas like committing themselves to say yes, or to go on a “sex streak.”) Women seem to trade in emotional currencies far more than men (who trade in rational currencies), and emotional currencies can’t be subject to obligatory reciprocity the way rational currencies can.

Additionally, gifts, favors etc signal to a woman that you think her to be high value, which she might react negatively to if she secretly believes she’s not high value. Men respond to this kind of situation with gratitude, women seem to respond to it with contempt for the giver as a rube. So you get a double-whammy of annoyance that she is under social expectation to repay the favor, and lack of respect for the gift-giver who has shown his foolishness by presuming her to be higher value than she herself believes.

Now, as to the real plan for giving gifts, Vox also cites various blue-pill cultural nonsense that has served to mislead men down the pedestalizing path for decades:

Here are several “helpful” suggestions offered by the experts on women in the mainstream media:

  • Anything that suggests that the recipient is anything less than perfect will go down worse than Frankie Boyle at a kid’s Christmas party.
  •  Never buy a woman an iron for Christmas unless you want to get hit over the head with it.
  •  Guys, this is 50 shades of WRONG. Don’t even think about it – or anything else tenuously linked to 50 Shades of Grey for that matter.
  • Nothing says “I don’t really think that much of you” quite like a handbag by ‘Louis Vilton’. If you can’t stretch to a designer bag, better to opt for the (genuine) perfume.

Translation: don’t buy a woman anything that might be sexy, affordable, useful, improving, or popular.  Only gifts that are rare, expensive, and useless will be appreciated.  Except, as we already know, buying the perfect gift is the worst thing you can possibly do since it will create an unwanted sense of obligation.

So, ignore the experts.  If she said she wanted X at some point during the year, then buy X.  Don’t overthink these things and stop striving for the nonexistent perfect gift.  Remember that presents don’t fix relationship problems.

For f&%$’s sake, especially don’t fall for those stupid jewelry ads that say “love is priceless, so you should show it by spending $1,000 or more on our product.” This is where a sort of soft-PUA approach is called for: be judicious in your gift-giving, never equate dollars spent with love expressed, seek gifts with uniqueness and emotional power that cultivate the “secret world” between lovers and not a mass-marketed consumerism, and steadfastly refused to be judged by the standards of her rat-race girlfriends. Staying low on the expense ladder also reduces the sense of obligation; if she likes the gift, it contains emotional power, which will cause her to want to reciprocate, and then it’s no longer an obligation.

If she complains about the money, she’s a brat, and you better game that shit out of her or find another woman.

Did Someone Ask For PUA Gift Tips?

Fear not, as Roissy is here to say it much better than I ever could:

One time, I recorded myself singing a song I wrote for a girl. I used a hand-held recorder, so the quality wasn’t good. You can hear a dog barking in the background and rain falling outside on the patio. We eventually broke up from intractable circumstances, but keep in friendly contact occasionally, and she tells me that to this day my recording is the only item of love she has from any man that she refuses to discard.

Cost of this gift to me: zero dollars.

Psychological value of this gift to both me and her: priceless.

Ability to leverage this gift against future girlfriends who know about it: infinity priceless.

The alpha male gifts that women love are never what Kay Jewelers, Zales or VisaMastercard tell you they are. The gifts women love the most are not those gifts that by virtue (or vice) of their cost demonstrate the extent of your beta provider resource pool. No, the gifts women love the most are those gifts that demonstrate the personality traits of the alpha male, a man with romance in his heart despite carrying the burden of multitudinous options with women in his groin.

One of the challenges of LTR/marriage life is maintaining that emotionally intense, carefree “lover” side of the lover-provider dynamic. It’s easy to get into a reciprocating-obligations gameplan where you treat each other as co-employees of a small business instead of as singular emotional fonts from which you each draw from the other’s power. If done wrong, Christmas may be the worst time of the year for this, as a holiday that is supposed to be about the love of the Good Lord for his people for so many degenerates into a insurmountable set of challenges where people as they are are discarded as cannon fodder into the fire of outsized self-destructive cultural expectations.

Hopefully the men reading this have already begun to employ these lessons in their relationships; if not, you can start getting ready early for next year.

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Filed under junk culture, living a good life, relationships

Self-Affirmations That Actually Work

When I was in high school, one of our teachers (who doubled as a guidance couselor) was insistent on drilling us into habits of self-affirmation. The problem was, her idea of self-affirmation was to repeat something that wasn’t actually true, in the hope that it would become true by force of will. A typical example constructed for me (a shy and quiet type of dude at the time, I know that’s difficult to believe) was “I am an outgoing and likeable person.”

This might have fooled some of my less self-aware classmates, but as a humble and compulsively honest guy, I couldn’t get around the fact I was bullshitting myself. I wasn’t outgoing, and I had been drilled into all manner of betariffic traits that ensured a hard cap on my attractiveness and likeability. In this absurd schema, Stuart Smalley wasn’t a parody but an almost-literal stranger-than-fiction panoply.

Years later, I revisited the self-affirmation game, by accident. I was miserable in grad school bored one day and thinking about going to the gym for a workout. In an argument with myself, I remarked to no one in particular “you should go lift because you always feel great after you do it.”

Boom. I had found the secret to self-affirmations that actually work:

  • Finding an assertion that is already true (instead of one I wish were true)
  • Constructing an affirmation that uses that assertion to motivate my behavior

So now I can use this knowledge to self-modify my behavior, using past rewards as motivation:

“I’m going to work out now because I feel great after I do so.”

“I’m going to finish that post because it’s going to be awesome when I publish it and get comments from all of my adoring readers.”

“You should go to bed now instead of at 2am because it feels good to get an early start on the day.”

This strategy has been especially helpful when it comes to finishing that last 10% of any of the many projects I’ve undertaken.

A few weeks back, Fly Fresh and Young riffed on self-affirmations in his post “Pre-game tips for introverts and left-brained people.” It was surprising to me to learn that a guy of his skill in the party and pickup scenes is in fact a single-minded analytical personality with a tendency against socializing. His tips on warming up for a social gathering are manifold and strong, from avoiding mindless TV to skipping the Red Bull to watching an episode of Seinfeld (an old Roosh gem). It turns out he uses the same style of reward-motivation affirmations that I do.

8. Psyching myself up

“Hey, I’m going to go out and talk to people and it’s going to be awesome”

“You love talking to people and having a great time, so do it”

“Remember that one time you met all those people and how fun that was”

Stuff like that. Simple motivational shit that looks dumb on paper but makes me feel in a better mood when I think it. Conjures up positive, social thoughts.

Figure out a way to tie what you want to do with a reward you’ve already experienced; this binds your long-term, risky goals with short-term guaranteed good feelings, instead of “motivating” yourself with pretty lies and wish-I-woulds.

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Filed under beta guide, living a good life, original research

Things You Can Do To Up Your Game+Lifestyle Value Right Now

There’s a good number of seemingly small things a guy can do almost at the snap of a finger, or at least in a one-shot outlay of a few minutes’ or hours’ time, to up his value in the sexual marketplace. I’ve put the ideas of game and lifestyle together because they really do go together – you need to have a good product (an interesting dynamic lifestyle), and an effective way to market it (vibe and tactics).

These are not specific moves for tactical attraction or logistics, nor are they large personal projects that require a gameplan and long-term dedication, but simple items to build your strategic value, to lay a better groundwork for the core product that you will market with your game skills.

Some of these things will make you more attractive, others will make you feel better about yourself and others will clear your mind so you can be more focused and deliberate in your life’s work. For some of them, doing them won’t make you attractive as not doing them will make you unattractive. Sure, there are schlubby, unkempt guys doing well with women. Are you one of them? If not, don’t stand in your own way by ignoring easy speedbumps.

In no particular order:

Practice and adopt the chin-up move (the Iguana): Private Man posted on a move he called The Iguana as a non-verbal opener, which involves a man flitting his head upward when making eye contact rather than downward as is normally seen as polite. Eric Barker also posted on research showing that men with chin-up behaviors were seen as more dominant, a study linked to by Roissy in a post I can’t hope to find right now.

Get clothes that fit: When it comes to clothes and fashion, you can go with any number of looks, but whichever one you choose will look 100% better if it fits properly. The grunge days are over, so forget the baggy look. Really shop around for jeans and slacks that fit right; get higher-end clothes tailored if you have to. Unless you work or socialize in a circle where top dress is sine qua non, you’ll do better getting a modest wardrobe that fits than blowing a wad on pricey stuff that looks like you’re a supernumerary in a Hammer video.

Get all the soft drinks and shitty snack food out of your house: Added sugars and boxed, processed foods are not just bad for you, they are pernicious in finding their way into your mouth if they are in your vicinity. Avoid the temptation by not having to resist it at all.

Start taking Omega-3 fish oil: Originally on the advice of Athol Kay, I’ve been taking between 2000 and 3000 mg per day for about the last 18 months. I don’t know how or why it works, but it’s made a tremendous difference not just in my physical condition but in my mental composure. I feel more decisive/”executive,” I worry less about things I can’t control, I’m less perturbed by irrelevant emotions and by criticism, I enjoy myself more when I’m doing the things I want to do, I’m more risk-tolerant and calmer when I do take risks – I’m more alpha, if you will.

Tidy your dwelling: Hat tip to Haley for this one. Having a clean apartment/house might not get you laid, but having a messy one sure can keep you from getting laid. Messiness will give most women the creeps. Put everything in its place and toss out shit you don’t need.

Put grooming in your daily schedule: I’m guessing most readers are brushing and/or flossing on the daily, but you should make shaving, skin care and cologne a regular habit as well. Clip your nails regularly too.

Start working out with weights: Lifting weights raises your testosterone, that’s the long and the short of it. Get over that cardio fetish, and don’t be one of those people who humps it on the elliptical for an hour and then undoes the whole thing by drinking a Gatorade. Inspired by Frost’s 15-minute workout plans, I went to a focused, fast, weights-heavy workout plan that served to build general muscle tone and get me exhausted. The result has been good feelings, quick fitness, and the best health I’ve had since I was playing football.

Stand up straight: The first of three distinct body-language items, standing up straight took me a long time to learn. As a tall man, I’m used to towering over most people and so felt I needed to slouch so as to meet people at their level. At some points in my schooling I was even taught to be ashamed of my size, as several teachers took the time to warn me, the gentlest kid in the class, to be extra careful not to hurt anybody. (Such are the ways that school teach young men to be positively non-attractive.)

It wasn’t until my first wisps of game that I came to grok that my height was a strong and un-fakeable attraction marker. And as I developed a better frame, I stood up straighter and got the full advantage of my height. Dating a tall woman helped, as she made sure that I knew it was important I was taller than her, and she was sure to respond when I showed good posture to boot.

Take up more space: Whatever your height is, you can exert positive body language by widening your feet, opening your knees, not putting your hands in your pockets, and putting your thumbs in your belt loops. When I’m at a bar or a cafe, I tend to throw one arm over the back of the adjacent chair, whether someone is sitting there or not. (Interestingly my father, a strong but introverted and non-dominant man, has always done this, whether it’s in the car, at a restaurant or a sporting event. It’s like one of his arms must always be in the extended position.)

Last year I was on a train with my right arm draped across the empty seat next to me. Coming off the platform, a young female French tourist sat down in the seat without a blink and was immediately friendly when I opened her. It was as if my inviting posture had made her more comfortable. Taking up space says a lot of things – it says dominance and power, but it also says comfort and calmness, stable and non-threatening.

Do everything slower: My own post on this is here, but suffice it to say that slowing your physical movements and speech patterns will result in a more competent, confident vibe. You’ll notice that if you’re standing straight up and taking up a lot of space, it’s pretty difficult to be manic in your movements, which further enhances the bold power of your body language.

Stop watching live TV: Putting aside the lack of quality programming on the American tube today, the dreck aired in commercial slots today is appalling. There’s no end to the unalloyed misandry and anti-male snark used to hock products to homemakers and strongindependentwomen, and the themes of marketeering appeal to our basest senses of novelty-seeking, spendthrift and perpetual dissatisfaction.

A couple years ago I stopped watching TV almost entirely. On occasion I would turn it on to see a show or a special I had been tipped off to, and I was quite surprised to realize that watching ads makes me want to buy the products and eat the foods. When in waiting rooms today, I marvel at how quickly I find myself hypnotized by the bright flashes on the screen.

DVR your shows, and get rerun programming on demand or on DVD. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say you’ll be a richer, more focused and less consumptive person if you quit watching live TV.

Start reading a good book: Despite the above, I’m not one who says TV is an evil instrument of cultural hegemony. Nonetheless, one does well to have a good book or two going at any time. Preferably a classic work that has earned a reputation and will expand your mind rather than simply fill it.

Buy some classics to familiarize yourself with the primary sources of our cultural tapestry, be it the Aeneid (an audacious piece of premodern imperial propaganda), Cyrano de Bergerac, Band of Brothers, Rip Van Winkle, the Bonfire of the Vanities – pick up something you want to read and sink into its world.

Sign up for an activity of interest that involves people (yoga, running club, pistol shooting, a sports league): If part of your game problems is not meeting enough new people and not seeing them enough, you can solve this on the Internet in under 30 minutes through meetup.com, craigslist or your local adult education catalog. Pick something you want to do and go do it. And then socialize with those people – don’t try to game anybody, just spend time with a new social circle as a springboard to higher value.

Go to bed early tonight: There have been ruts and dry spells for me that were cured by nothing more than an extra hour of sleep for a few days straight. It’s my contention that Generation Y is constantly underslept. I don’t think I know anyone who was/is doing interesting things with his life who doesn’t have at least itinerant sleep patterns. But it really hurts your body, brain and personality. Shoot for those seven/eight hours a night, and try to get up at the same time every day as consistency in sleep counts for a lot.

Spend less time on the Internet today: Funny for a blogger to say, I know, but often that extra late-night hour reading forums or commenting is just not worth it. Make sure you’re getting out in the fresh air with real people and doing other things you want to do. Also consider leaving your smartphone at home, or activating airplane mode to keep the signals away. I find it quite liberating to unplug for a while, and when I come back there’s always a stack of things to check on so I get an extra surge of novelty anyway.

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Filed under beta guide, la dolce vita, living a good life, living young

Athol Kay’s Latest Post on Finding Your Passion And Making It Happen

Athol Kay’s Sunday post discussed the hardships of getting his blogging/advising/ game up and running, and carries with it the great news that he’s bagging his daytime job and going full-bore into his mixed-marital-artist enterprise.

Go read it.

Done? OK.

There’s so much empty feel-good crap out there, so much “live, laugh, love” (or eat-pray-love) sloganeering. So many Facebook quotes from The Man In The Arena (“it is not the critic who counts”) or Twain (“you’ll regret far more the things you didn’t do”).

This isn’t it. This is the real testimonial of a man who has found his passion, done the hard work of building it from a hobby, which you can stop and start at will, to a real enterprise where you are accountable to your image and your customers – the material and emotional privation, the pushing through writer’s block, the trolls (oh boy there have been some classics), the cross-your-fingers, here-comes-the-royalty-check moments. It’s a great tribute to his marriage and his skills as a husband that his wife has been so supportive of his work instead of carping that he should bag it and work more shifts to bring in some extra Benjamins…so his success is itself strong evidence that his advice is on the right track.

Believe me – plenty of young people will tell you they are adventurous and passionate, and then you find out their idea of coloring outside the lines is checking out a new dive bar or brunch place. And you check on them five years later and they are still cracking away at their soul-crushing corporate gig, playing on the margins trying to stay ahead of the next round of downsizing or hoping to push their raise to COLA+1% this year. They still bleat the slogans but they’ve defined it down considerably. And all that shit they talked up doing, the dreams that got them out of bed every morning, is just never going to happen.

(It’s really a form of hipsterism, enjoying the banal reliability of modern life with occasional sojoruns into the visceral world. Notice how much hipsters make of low-temperature slumming it with regard to their clothes, tastes, and even their gentrified neighborhoods?)

And I want to hit them over the head with a truth I found out about before I had even entered the working world, a truth that has enabled me to make some very good decisions on some high-risk options:

Satisfaction on the job is worth so much more than money or perks. 

And if you hate your job, they could never pay you enough to displace that hatred.

A parallelism of this is: A good job you can leave at the office. A bad job follows you 24/7.

Being lost in your life’s purpose is a major cause of the heavy drinking, facile friendships and random hookup we see among educated young people from 20 to 30.

I’m not saying to take a unpaid position at something you’re interested in (well I would say that for a time-limited college internship or post-high school apprenticeship, when connections to the field and exposure to the nitty gritty is much more valuable than actually producing something on the job that could be exchanged for a salary). You gotta eat after all. But if you want to try your hand at what you really think is your life’s work, your best contribution to society, don’t wait for it to happen to you, for your 401k vesting or whatever else. “Later” is by definition “not now;” if you mark big things on your to-do list for “later,” they’ll always be shoved off as “not now.” Find the functional actions to get it started, the long poles in the tent, and do them.

But it doesn’t even have to be a job. Any real interest you have in life (brew your own beer, coach sports, build furniture, become a BBQ master) deserves your passion and dedication, at least for a time.

I’ve spoken before about how I launched my blog; I gathered topics I wanted to write about, got a blog site reserved, committed myself to writing 20 posts for the bullpen before I went live, wrote them, told all my online friends to keep their eyes peeled (thanks Athol), and hit Publish.

Athol speaks of the comfort and satisfaction of having made enough impact on his world that it will (modestly) benefit his wife and daughters if anything should happen to him. This is a huge step, because that’s the point that every leader and entrepreneur wants to get to, the point where some little piece of him is immortal, or at least will outlive him. (Cf. The Denial of Death for you Annie Hall fans.)

Additionally, Athol’s made comments to the effect that he was trained as a pastor/preacher, but abandoned that once he left the faith behind. I think I can safely say he’s living out that training, just with a slightly different bent in his sermons. His writing sparkles with gentle passion, with firm but low-key leadership. He lives the example of what he recommends for men, a hardworking, passionate, goofy, powerful but responsible and controlled man, the most irresistible balance of traits for the kind of women you’d want to marry.

Recently I posted on “deep rapport questions,” queries that create emotional connection, and one of my favorites is “is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?”

I have found that this question really categorizes people. Those who haven’t given up their dreams answer quickly and with resolve; others are muted and trail off. At times I’ve been on both sides.

Guys: first, if you ask the question, you have to have a better, bolder, more interesting answer than her – it’s one of your best opportunities to show her you’re not a cubicle dweller whose lot in life is a move to the suburbs and a long living twilight of Miller Lite, masturbatory debates about fantasy football, and a bunch of guys bitching about their wives.

Secondly, think hard about your own answer to both questions. Don’t lie to yourself about the first one. And on the second one, move yourself from “I just haven’t gotten around to doing it” to “I just booked the tickets/I’m doing it next week!”

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Filed under living a good life

Should You Change Your Scenery To Up Your Game?

Earlier this week The Private Man fielded an email from one DC Phil, a 40-year old reader. Among his concerns was location:

2.  Then there’s the subject of location.  I live in Washington, DC.  To some (e.g., Roosh) this is like the second or third cycle of hell above Satan when it comes to women.

So, one plus of DC is a surfeit of smart women vs. trailer-park trash that’s more and more common in my hometown.  One negative, as others have mentioned, is a lack of sufficiently friendly, feminine, and DTF women.

I think I do better with foreign women, and DC has its fair share.  Trouble is to find them.  DC has its own culture, and some say that women are better in the south: e.g., Charleston, Charlotte, and Austin.  Thoughts?

The well-documented experiences of Roissy, Roosh and a bunch of other DC-area game bloggers have gotten the capital region a reputation as one of the truly miserable sexual marketplaces in the United States, almost as notorious as New York City. I was curious if DC Phil was seriously considering changing locations for the purpose of improving his results with women:

As for location, are you considering a move based on the quality of women? I’ve lived all over this country and I’ve never lived in one place that made me say “this place is WAY better than the rest” when it came to women. The unfortunate fact is that American women have more or less the same basic problems all over the country. Thinking you can go from a hellhole to a harem with a plane ticket is sort of a defeatist attitude, playing the victim of your circumstances.

Don’t get me wrong – a change of scenery (via a cross-country move) was a huge factor in a quantum leap of happiness for me. You need to find a place that is good because it’s where YOU like to be, not because the female crop is marginally better.

If you dig foreign women and international culture, DC is better than most places. Unless you’re really miserable or are considering expatriating, I wouldn’t spend too much effort worrying about the SMPs in other cities.

As the days go by I concur with my own comment even more. Over the course of my life I’ve lived in six different cities, and moved coast to coast three times since graduating high school. I’ve had good and bad experiences everywhere, but I haven’t found a Holy Grail/fountain of youth of game anywhere. The American SMP is what it is, and changing cities is really just working the margin. (Caveat: I have never lived in the South, where I am told the intergender relations are a lot rosier.)

Changing your city for the purpose of gaming the sexual marketplace violates Roissy’s maxim of making your mission, not your woman, your priority. Sure you have to go where the women are (a good reason not to live in a place like Silicon Valley), but if you change your whole life around for that purpose you’ve invested your own fortunes in the hands of that region’s women writ large.

GO TO THE PLACE WITH THE BEST YOU, NOT THE BEST WOMEN

HOWEVER, that’s not to say that changing cities won’t improve your results. But it has a lot less to do with the SMP itself and a lot more to do with maximizing your personal excellence.

I was a pole vaulter in high school (a ridiculously fun sport, by the way). Some pole vaulters were convinced that cold weather hurt their performance because the fiberglass material was stiffer in lower temperatures. My coach put the lie to that. “The poles work essentially the same over a 20-degree temperature span. What doesn’t perform as well in the cold is not the pole, it’s the athlete – you run slower, your muscles aren’t as limber and it’s more difficult to stay warmed up during a meet.”

My own personal example bears this out. Following my early departure from graduate school, I took a job that caused me to move across the country yet again. It was well worth it, giving me some disposable income and a sense that I was really living an “adult” life along with the chance to start my social life over again, leaving behind my old habits and “passive friends” (the people you spend your time with who are just around, but not really contributing to your life). I jumped into the new place, making new friend groups, hitting online dating hard and getting out of the office with my new coworkers. Soon I was right at home, a feeling of comfort and well-being that took my game to greater heights than ever before.

If you are considering a move – for a job, because you’re tired of where you live, whatever – go to the place where you are going to have the best life. It’s more than the money; hunt hard for the opportunity to work in a field you enjoy, good work-life balance, a spread of activities you want to participate in, weather you enjoy, a city that fits your personality. Then you will be confident, competent, accomplished and friendly, able to build a social circle and a toolbox of charisma. That’s far better for your own quality of life than moving somewhere you may not be keen on because someone told you the women are hotter or easier or whatever.

Apropos of little else in this post, I advocate that young people should seek to move to a new city before they put down permanent roots, most preferably after graduation – even if it’s just the next city a few hours’ drive away. You’ll never have the freedom to move that you have right after college, when you own very little and have little personal or professional investment in a city, and that is opportunity cost you can never get back. Go have an adventure before life happens to you.

GO WHERE THE WOMEN YOU WANT ARE

Further discussion moved into how to find the international flavor of gal that DC Phil is looking for. Somebody chimed in with the sage saying “we find what we are looking for,” to which I responded:

This is a piece of wisdom I’ve really been working lately. There’s an aphorism about dating that says “think of the places your ideal mate would spend their time. Then – go there!” Like if I really want to bag the really athletic woman I’ve been dreaming about since high school, I better start spending a lot more time on the bike trail, hiking, in the gym and in high-performance adult sports leagues. If the intellectual chick is your quarry, hit up historical societies, erudite coffee shops, hip bookstores, cosplay events, you get the idea. Then it becomes part of your lifestyle, and you’re not doing it to get women – but the women land at your feet. (Hopefully.)

Don’t buy the “you won’t meet a good woman in a bar” trope, but when you’re in a “typical” single-mingle environment, the jockettes and nerdettes who are there aren’t playing that script, they’re playing the “pick me up by wowing me with your game” script, and they’re mixed in with a lot of other chaff.

There’s an element of game training that is something of a head fake. There’s no way to sharpen your game without practicing – going out and doing lots of approaches, taking a lot of risks and failing a lot. But through all that, some degree of a man’s success is not going to be due to improvement in his game; it will simply be the fact that he’s motivated to present himself to women. Odds are he’s going to find someone who likes him. When he combines the effort of approaching with some real strategy and bakes it for 6-12 months, his results will go up considerably.

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Six Big Habits for Health

I don’t normally read the Puffington Host but I found myself linked to this article by Yale physician David Katz, M.D. entitled “Six Habits That Can Add Years to Your Life.”

  • Feet (be active)
  • Fork (eat right)
  • Fingers (don’t smoke; I personally would nominate play the guitar for this one as well)
  • Sleep (get enough and at the right times)
  • Stress (manage it) 
  • Love (happy relationships have health benefits, and he didn’t even mention the benefits of regular orgasm)

Katz claims that an active, properly-fed non-smoker reduces the risk of chronic diseases by 80%.

One item I’d add to this list in terms of wellness is working on something you’re passionate about. Maybe it’s your job; maybe it’s a weekend hobby; maybe you love cooking; maybe an hour of playing an instrument really lights your fire for the next day. Something more than paying the freight at work then coming home to deal with domestic duties (spouse, house, kids).

Here’s my advice to anybody looking for a good mid-year resolution, and let’s face it, you don’t need a holiday for permission to self-improve. Pick one of these items and make a serious improvement. Pick a bedtime and stick to it. Or give up your most damaging food habit (sugared-up coffee drinks, sodas, candy or potatoes?) Join a rec sports league or sign up for a 5K to make exercise part of your schedule. Or set aside time each day for that thing you really want to do long-term.

Toss off love for a second because that can’t be unilaterally forced, unless you are already in a relationship in which case dedicating yourself to improving that relationship is a good goal. I can think of a good set of tips on that one.

If you’re a guy, feeling and being healthier is going to enhance your game bigtime, and if you’re a woman, you’ll be more attractive to guys and more fit for LTR investment. And you’ll just feel better about yourself, a reward in its own right.

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Young Life Advice From Roosh

The inimitable Roosh celebrated his 32nd birthday by posting “7 things I would tell my teenage self.” It’s not hard to figure out Roosh’s modus operandi (his book is called Bang for crying out loud) but his list is not really about sex – it’s great advice for living a good life. So damn many people squander their youth that there’s a morbid joke about it – “youth is wasted on the young.” Don’t be one of them.

Men: following this list will make you more interesting and attractive to women.

Women: following this list will give you a better baseline of happiness, satisfaction and stability, which attracts relationship-ready men, and will help you avoid toxic cultural programming and dysfunctional relationship behaviors.

I endorse every one of these points with great gusto. I especially like #3.

Dear teenage Roosh,

1. Don’t listen to your parents. They want you to have a stable and boring existence without the struggle they had to go through. They want you to play it safe instead of taking risks that may lead to your ruin or even death. Unfortunately, if you follow their advice the most you’ll get out of it is a steady paycheck. You will have a mere average existence with average women and average experiences in an average city. Understand that the more risks you take, the greater rewards you receive.

2. Hit the gym. Just because you’re not the best looking guy doesn’t mean you should give up on being attractive. Weight lifting will help you build confidence and increase your testosterone level so that taking risks literally becomes in your blood.

3. Cut off the television, internet, and video games. Pick a hobby such as music, writing, DJing, languages, or sports, and dedicate one hour per day on it. You’ll be a beast before you even hit 21, where it’ll not only make a positive contribution to your life, but give you the option to take an alternative path. [B: seriously, kill your TV.]

4. Read at least two books every month. You don’t know sh## about life right now. Hell, you still won’t know a whole lot even when you turn 30. Keep yourself sharp by tapping into the brains of others through their work. Writers have spent hundreds of hours to create books that distills all their knowledge or experience in an easily digestible format. Take advantage of that, and watch your conversational skills increase as a result.

5. Stop being concerned about what other people think of you. They don’t care about you. They are so wrapped up in their own insecurities and what you think of them that you’re wasting your energy trying to get accepted by strangers. Take risks, f$#* everyone else, and note down what you learn. If you’re not making a lot of mistakes, you’re not doing enough.

6. Take the [women] off the pedestal.

7. Have a backup plan to earning a living. Don’t count on putting in four years at college and getting a cushy job that lasts until some golden retirement. Don’t count on some &%#$ in Human Resources to like your answer to what your greatest weakness is. Don’t let people who don’t care about you determine your income. Re-read number 3 again. One hour a day into something has probably made you a mini-expert. What service or product can you now create with your expertise that someone else would be happy to buy? Trust me when I say you’ll be much happier making $20,000 a year controlling your destiny than four times as much being controlled by someone else.


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Guest Post: Forks in the Road

One of the scourges of the hyperreal world of the 20-to-30something is the pressure of urgency – the idea that if you’re not moving up the ladder at what you’ve wanted to do since childhood, you are losing the race and destined for failure. The truth of the matter is that you’ll never have the intersection of energy and opportunity as you do in your 20’s, not to mention the implicit goodwill and tolerance for mistakes that youth are afforded, and to exploit them you need to be open to the idea that the best next step isn’t the one you might have imagined.

Like a man of good game, the sharp young adult learns there’s a big place for outcome independence in life – not expecting yesterday’s work to take you anywhere in particular. Oftentimes that leaves you open to opportunities you might not have been looking for.

As a reminder of this spirit, I asked Susan Walsh of the college sex and relationship blog Hooking Up Smart to riff on her own topsy-turvy personal story. 

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Yogi Berra

When I was preparing to leave college in 1978, I looked ahead and envisioned my life as a sort of purposeful and progressive walk around the Monopoly board. Start small with places on Baltic and Connecticut Avenues, invest in a railroad or two, and eventually snap up prime properties on Boardwalk and Park Place. Feelings of happiness and contentment would grow gradually but without limit, and along the way I would check off all the important items on my life’s To Do list.

As it turned out, the journey was more Candyland than Monopoly. There were random pitfalls and surprises. Sometimes I moved backwards, and other times I jumped ahead. I got lost. Occasionally I got stuck for a while and had to sit tight while everyone else passed me by.

In many ways, I’ve exceeded my dreams and hopes, and I know I made my parents proud. But my trajectory was not predictable; I’ve never really known exactly where I was headed, despite a positive attitude and a strong work ethic. I found that my best laid plans had a way of falling by the wayside, and that other stuff happened instead, mostly beyond my control.

In time I learned to embrace change, as well as the unexpected, because it seemed pretty clear that taking chances, or even just going with the flow nearly always produced an overall improvement in my life. In the end I got to a pretty good place. In fact, if I’d been more focused, more driven to achieve specific objectives, I’d likely have a very different life today, one that I wouldn’t enjoy as much, or find as personally fulfilling.

If you’re between 20 and 30 or so you are the offspring of Baby Boomers, but you’ve had a very different growing-up experience than we did. We were born in an era of unprecedented American prosperity, and were easily able to fulfill our parents’ hopes of realizing the American Dream (if we chose to). Living the Dream meant exceeding your parents’ achievements, which was easier to do a generation ago. My grandmother was a parlor maid in Edith Wharton’s Old New York. My mother dropped out of college after her junior year to marry my father, who was entering the Marine Corps.

I grew up in the era portrayed by Mad Men – a few women professionals were taken seriously, but most were underappreciated and underemployed. My father, who spent his career in corporate sales and marketing, believed I had inherited his talents, and expected me to blaze trails as a woman. While I was growing up he often told me that I could do absolutely anything I set my mind to. He did not want me following in my mother’s footsteps, but in his. I understood that my father loved me and wanted the best for me, and that I was going to have to produce results to meet his expectations.

I was given free rein, but learned quickly that all of my choices were being observed and measured. For example, my college boyfriend was a nice, handsome, athletic, fraternity guy, but he was not very bright. When I broke up with him in my junior year, my father expressed relief that there was no danger of this fellow diluting the family gene pool. The next boyfriend, a tight-jean-wearing singer songwriter with long hair, was even less mourned when he departed. The message was clear: I needed to be a female success story, using my brain and my [father's] extroverted nature to go all the way to the top.

The obvious first hurdle to clear was to get an awesome job out of college. My father had already told me that it was time for me to “buy my own toothpaste.” Moving home was not an option. As a psychology major with no real idea of what I wanted to do, other than make my dad proud, I signed up for some interviews at the career center with various corporations.

From there I began a journey that would twist and turn in ways I could never have predicted. To illustrate, here’s what my twenties looked like, with no fewer than a dozen unexpected, life-altering turns (numbered for your convenience):

1978, Getting a Job

Snagged an interview with AT&T!

As the interview winds down, I know I’ve hit a home run. I eagerly wait to hear about next steps. The next step is to meet the recruiter for a drink that night at the Playboy Club.

What a creep. I decline with as little awkwardness and as much dignity as I can muster and go to my afternoon job, where I tell my professor what’s just happened. He expresses his disgust but says nothing else. Turns out he is close to someone high up at AT&T. The next day I get a call from the offending recruiter, who apologizes and offers me a sweet job.

I take it. (1)

1979-1980, Being a Yuppie

I am assigned a role as Supervisor of a team of computer operators in Data Processing. What a drag! I’m no techie, I’m a humanities type! What can they be thinking? (2)

I dig in, make a bunch of stupid mistakes, learn about computers and how telephone bills are generated. Zzzzzzzzzz.

I am promoted and move to LA for another job in IT, this time as a programmer. (3) I am pleased to be doing well, and pleased to be returning to where I grew up, but the work is mind-numbingly analytical and frustrating for me.

Dating is nowhere. Surfer dudes in bars are not my thing, and guys at work feel off limits, after one rather ill-advised makeout session with a coworker at a colleague’s going away party.

Christmas, 1980

I bitch about my programming job while visiting my parents for the holidays. It’s too quantitative and solitary. Dad says he’ll help pay for an MBA, an effective way of switching careers, but only if I can get into a top 5 program. (4) Ha, fat chance of that!

I begin the tedious process of applying to business school. If I get in, I’m going to work my ass off and do something interesting next time around. I definitely don’t want kids, and don’t see myself with a husband either. (Not that anyone’s asking.) I am woman, hear me roar.

1981, Back to School!

I matriculate at b-school across the country. (5) I do not know a single person in a class of 650. On day one I notice a tall, skinny guy with longish hair and rimless glasses. He is the exact opposite of the LA guys I’m used to seeing. He looks smart and gentle. He is wearing an old oxford shirt. He walks towards me, I smile, he smiles politely and keeps walking to talk to the woman behind me, one of his many acquaintances.

Winter, 1982, Oneitis

Tall, skinny guy (TSG) and I run in the same crowd! Neither of us ever misses MBA Happy Hour on Thursdays. One woman I know confesses she’s had a fling with him, but that he ended it after she locked him in her apartment and refused to let him leave one afternoon. The morning after the Halloween bash, my roommate and I are out for a run when we bump into him walk of shaming, still with his Elvis Costello + red shoes costume on. Preselection is powerful.

I become sort of obsessed with TSG, (6) but he doesn’t seem to notice me. He jokes around like we’re buddies sometimes, but there is absolutely no vibe. It’s clear this crush will never be requited. I have a few flings with foreign students to get over my oneitis, which I later learn did not go unnoticed by TSG, though they were mere blips on the radar for me. Sooooo not worth it, adding to my number with Os in short supply.

March, 1982, Poor Impulse Control

I give a blowout party (Wicked. Party. Come.) with my roommate, and TSG, who knows a ton about music, agrees to select and lend me all the records I’ll need. Later, I go to his apartment to return an armful of LPs. I’m caught completely unaware when TSG kisses me as we are laughing about the party. (7) My stomach flips over about ten times. At one point I say that I’m worried this will get in the way of our friendship – LMR. His face makes it clear – who cares, we’re not that close. I spend the night. Heaven.

A week goes by, no follow up. Cordial chit chat in the dining hall as always, nothing more. I decide I am going to “say what I need to say.” I ambush him in front of the library during midterms and ask for Round 2.

He looks uncomfortable, shifts his weight from foot to foot. “Uhhhh. I don’t think so.”

Heartbreak. I hold it together long enough to get back to my pillow and weep. Once midterms end I decide I need a pity party for one, so I book a room at a B&B in Maine. I go alone, read Wuthering Heights and take long walks. It is a very cathartic experience and I return to school with my head held high, unashamed of my declaration of feeling.

Monday morning I bump into TSG, who says, “Hey, I heard about your trip. How was your sad and lonely weekend?” FML.

July, 1982, A Typed Postcard

Working in NYC for the summer. Lots of interns, lots of socializing, no hooking up. It’s good to be away, distracted from the emotional drama and turmoil of the spring.

I receive a typed postcard (who does that?) from TSG. Recommending new albums and asking how my summer is going. At the end:
“Hey, what do you think of my coming up to visit for a weekend?” (8)

TSG arrives, I’ve planned a picnic on the roof deck. It’s a wonderful two days. I’m all in. Miraculously, so is he.

My father meets TSG during a business trip, and approves.

1982-83, Monogamy

Becoming a couple is a little weird. People think we’re an odd pair – no one saw it coming. It works, though. There is some awkwardness about our unorthodox start, and each of us feels some jealousy about one another’s previous flings. We figure it out, and make the decision to look for jobs in NY and live together.

He tells me that he has always wanted a daughter named Claire. I am so head over heels for TSG, I want to marry him and have this daughter. Thoughts of being a CEO with no personal ties have flown right out of my head. (9)

Still, I want a brilliant, successful career, and feel certain I can do it all. I take a great job with American Express.

9/22/84

We marry shortly before my 28th birthday.

1986, Winter Gets Colder

TSG and I are growing tired of NYC. We don’t make enough money to live in luxury, and we’re tired of the pace. He wonders whether I’d consider moving to Boston, his prior home. Sure. A week later he has a new job. (10) I’m about to make Director at Amex, and don’t want to leave just yet. We try a commuter marriage, which sucks. I resign and move, glad at least to have the new title on my resume.

I get a job with a consulting firm in Boston working a gazillion hours a week in the Financial Services practice. Unsurprisingly, all my clients are in NYC, so I live on the Shuttle.

Oopsie prego! (11)

1987-1988, But I Don’t Want it All!

Have baby, not Claire. My former schedule is impossible, so I become a subcontractor, working three days/week. Baby is miserable in day care, but we try for a year to make it work. Baby observes me applying mascara one weekend, becomes inconsolable, “Mommy no go job!”

Reluctant at first, I become a SAHM. (12)

Love love love.

If my father objects, he doesn’t say so.

What can you learn from my not very unusual life story?

That some of the best things happen when you’re not expecting them, or even paying attention.

There’s no guarantee, of course, that the changes will be welcome, or the surprises pleasant. But I believe there’s considerable value in change for its own sake. It shakes up our expectations, giving us an opportunity to think about what’s most important. It often means a chance to try new things, and grow. It reminds us that we are not in control, not at all. I’ve found that it’s wonderful to embrace uncertainty. My life has been better for it.

But what should I expect of my own children? As Baby Boomers, we were allowed to tread a path that allowed for considerable meandering and self-discovery. In contrast, Millennials were afforded little downtime – it was one big push to the finish line down the straight and narrow. How much longer can the American Dream deliver advancement beyond our wildest dreams? Should I expect my own children to go to the moon? Or invent a cure for cancer? Don’t laugh – that’s exactly what many of my peers expect of their offspring. The pace of acceleration is not sustainable – the curve is flattening out. As Conan O’Brien just told the graduating class at Dartmouth:

“Today, you have achieved something special, something only 92 percent of Americans your age will ever know: a college diploma. That’s right, with your college diploma you now have a crushing advantage over 8 percent of the workforce.”

I’ve learned that some of the best opportunities for growth and reward come in ways that you cannot plan for or anticipate. If you’re afraid of making some bad decisions, you won’t take the risks that often produce greater rewards. Instead of working toward a specific future destination, focusing on “now” may be a better way of moving forward while maintaining balance in your life.

So loosen up, Millennials. By all means, plan for your future. Future time orientation is highly correlated with achievement. But don’t suffer from myopia – when you see a fork in the road, take it. There’s a very good chance it’s leading somewhere better than you could have imagined. You’ll never know until you leap.

Susan can be reached at walsh.susan1@gmail.comIf you’re a blogger or commenter and you’d like to guest post, email me at thebadgernation@gmail.com.

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On Modern Manhood, and Updates to Yesterday’s Post

The inimitable detiennui25 left some key comments on yesterday’s thread on breakups including this one:

“One of the services I think Badger is helping with here in the manosphere is to encourage us men that it’s OK for us to be men.”

I am hardly alone in this, but specifically, I believe that young men need to feel OK with putting their interests first ahead of a woman, as long as they are looking out for living a happy and productive life. A player puts himself first, but for a self-aggrandizing non-productive purpose; an unmarried good man putting his interest first doth not a player make.

Most men in the 80% “sexual desert” cohort are liable to be gripped by major oneitis because of the fear they’ll never attract another woman. Thus they think their life path has to be checked against her wishes at every point, from whether they should take a new job to whether they can go to the baseball game with the guys next weekend. This voluntary betatization is a crazy way for a capable man to live. And you’re more likely to attract a woman anyway if you’ve made the most of what you want to do instead of getting bent out of shape about what someone else expects of you – a man doing too much “sacrificing” for his lady’s good is going to lower his attractiveness to her by standing down from his position of productive leadership.

Feminism has told women they shouldn’t “sacrifice themselves” for a man. This has been twisted into all sorts of bogus corollaries to the point that if a woman does something nice for her man she’s selling out the sisterhood, but the basic premise is absolutely correct and it goes both ways (whether feminists want it to or not). A lot of guys have been duped, by culture and by their own brain chemicals, into believing that it’s their lot to make “sacrifices” on behalf of women, and that if a woman has sex with a man or gives him attention, he owes her an infinite annuity of deference, provision and forgiveness. Your job as a young good man is to put yourself in a position to continue to contribute goodness to the world for decades to come. Choosing the wrong partner will waste your efforts solving relationship problems you shouldn’t have in the first place, instead of contributing to society and enhancing the lives around you.

The fact is that marriage, or continuing a relationship, is not a reward for good sex, a woman being nice to you, a lack of “grievances,” or some other good or service. Marriage and commitment are for the purpose of integrating two lives for mutual benefit. If the mutual benefit is not there in an unmarried relationship, neither the man nor the woman are under any moral obligation to give any further “cause” for breaking up (although practically speaking, you need to be honest about your part in the decline and it’s highly advisable to give repairing things the old college try). In fact, all the demands for “cause” and “closure” just encourage rationalization by the initiator of the breakup, which doesn’t do anybody any good.

Men need to internalize this: if it’s not what you want, if it doesn’t enhance your life, move on. You will find another woman. Men have longer timelines than women, but they don’t have all the time in the world. That’s all the more reason to get out of the wrong relationship and find something that fits you.

UPDATES:

The commenter “Robinson” returned to Hooking Up Smart and further elaborated on his dilemma. Discussion got quite heated as it is wont to do over there. It sounds like he and his ex hoped to rub off on each other (he in loosening up, her in getting more stable), but she fell back into her old patterns and the mutual exchange failed. As I suspected, he sounds a lot like me in an earlier age. A bit of red-pilling about the reality of the SMP, internalizing that he is the prize and realizing it’s not his job to save a woman will do him well. Recommendations that he FTOW are silly – he’s probably not going to do it, and if he did it wouldn’t be good for him.

Also, the writer to Athol Kay gave him more information that was published yesterday. It sounds like his girl is, to put it bluntly, batshit crazy. He needs to heed the advice of Athol and what I’ve given above – he can’t allow his feelings of “love” and obligation to override the fact that sticking with this situation will ruin his life without any legitimate payoff.

I have a friend who recently broke up with a woman we are convinced was BPD, NPD or both. After a particularly nasty public incident, he cut off communication for a week, then called her to tell her it was over. Then shipped her stuff back to he to avoid seeing her face to face. Even in that obviously broken situation, he tells me he went through weeks of regret and loneliness. Breakups are tough.

Guys need to understand that there are going to be haters, and you are going to hurt. They need to have the strength to persist, to make the tough calls and follow through. Own it – living a good life is not the easy decision.

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Moving On And When To Do It

Two of my favorite blogs issued posts yesterday based on reader comments that could have been written by me (I had to double-take both of them). One concerns recovering emotionally from a breakup and the other a relationship rut at a key time. Both are quite germane because of big personal events:

I ended my LTR two weeks ago.

In the last handful of years, I got dumped by the woman I thought I was going to marry, found game through the back door, left graduate school early, moved across the country to a city in which I knew literally one person, wrangled my way into two good jobs and fell in love again. With the possible exception of the first item, in all that time this was the most difficult thing I’ve been through; I appear to have gone through the Five Stages in a random order.

Did you ever date someone you discovered you didn’t like, and the breakup was just the fulfillment of an inevitability, a moment of unalloyed relief? This was not one of those cases. It was an incredibly difficult decision. This isn’t an “I love you but I’m not in love with you.” It’s more like an “I love you but I need to make a rational long-term decision that gives me the best chance to live a happy, productive life.” In the end we wanted different futures, and we were too far apart on how we led our lives. I was in a pattern where I was thinking “if this or that issue was solved I’d be a lot more amenable to going all the way,” but the list got so long that I eventually reached the conclusion that I was wishing for a different person. And asking her to undertake such changes under the blackmail of a breakup wasn’t going to be fair to her or to me.

We had an absolutely wonderful first eight months or so, we both thought we’d hit a home run. I’ve come to believe that part of the reason it was so good is because we were both pretty interesting people when we met – we had good friend groups, we liked our jobs, we had side hobbies and a sense of abundance. We packed more into that time than into the year and a half after that – because we made a classic LTR mistake: we gradually backed away from all of that with the pretext that we had each other and that was enough. And in my opinion, I backdoored myself into a codependence scenario – not only was my life not as interesting as I wanted, I was hesitant to push issues or (eventually) break up because I felt like I was all she had.

Finally, breaking up is hard simply because even in cases where it’s the wrong situation to be in, you literally can’t imagine your life without that person.

Enough about me, on to the posts. Susan Walsh addressed a commenter under the nom de guerre of “Robinson.” He’s been struggling with emotionally detaching after getting dumped by his first lay.

Hi Susan,

My ex girlfriend broke up with me 6 months ago (we dated 3 months) and unfortunately I am still emotionally suffering from the break up. We are very different people, although we did have a mutual interest in wildlife biology. She enjoys getting wasted, smoking weed and hooking up (she likes the attention). I have avoided drugs throughout most of my life and have never hooked up. Our differing values were not compatible and are what led to the break up.

Sounds like a story I’ve heard before. As the master of esoteric interests, I find it’s easy to develop one-itis for a woman who displays an interest in military history, classic alternative music or fine meat cooking.

As a male, I’m embarrassed (sarcasm) to say that at the mighty age of 24, I lost my virginity to this girl. I was brought up on the values to seek meaningful relationships and I do believe I achieved that in this case. The problem is that I can’t seem to get past this girl who I don’t even want to be with anymore. Since I lost my virginity to her and put a lot of effort in the relationship, I still can’t seem to shake the feeling of a sort of innate obligation to take care of her, be there for her and love her. Why do I still feel that way when I really want nothing to do with her? Could there be a biological explanation? Or do you think its more likely to be environmental?

First, I want to say that now that you’ve lost it, no one will care when you lost it.

Sadly, I have complete empathy for your deep feelings of abiding love. Some men are born with this trait; I certainly was. We want to believe the best about people, that the people we love can turn their lives around. Those are also messages blared to us through the media. Culture is constantly “qualifying” us to be Real Men(TM), to be better than the slobs we see in beer ads, tapping into our natural desire to please and warping it into a phony “non-judgmentalism” that tells us guys we are supposed to just deal with histrionic, indolent behavior because “girls just gotta have fun.” Add to that the cultural anxiety about mid-life crises and men leaving their middle-aged wives for younger hotter tighter (a pattern not at all borne out by the divorce statistics, BTW) and you’ll find a crop of young guys who desperately want to show their bona fides as “Real Men” by sticking by their women when the right choice is to find a field to plow that might actually bear some harvest.

I was also born with a strong desire to see something through to a good end, something I’m guessing you might be going through too given your words about investing effort into the relationship. This serves me well on the job, but is poison in relationships, sapping me of opportunity cost and sucking my psyche dry working for a result that will never materialize as I dig beneath the Mendoza Line (the batting average below which it is said a player will never recover). It took me years (yeah) to really internalize and build the skill to leave a bad relationship where I left it.

My relationships in the past did not involve sex and I never felt that strongly about them. I hate to say it, but after being emotionally drained by this relationship, I have the urge to fall for the temptation of hooking up with no strings attached. I know its not the road I should go and I know I will not do it, but why do I all of a sudden have this urge when I have resisted it for so long?

I hate to sound like a sex-pozzie, but part of it could be that you are now sexually “activated” and your rationalization hamster is trying to drive you towards scratching the itch more. Sounds like your subconscious also wants to avoid a repeat of the emotional pain.

I’m curious to know if this happens to other guys who lose their virginity in a relationship. They have a relationship, lose their virginity, relationship ends, the cost of being in a relationship is too high and emotionally draining, they resort to hooking up. What do you think?

Our minds place tremendous value on persons with whom we share defining experiences. I found it surprisingly difficult to de-bond from my high school football team, an unusually tight-knit crew; by the same token, we see ex-military personnel who can never find an environment of trust and teamwork as satisfying as their former unit.

There is an excellent commenter at HUS named Mike C who late last year discussed his brief marriage to his first sexual partner and the difficulties of withdrawing from that bond even amid great mismatch; it is not an unheard of phenomenon. My defunct LTR had dozens of these experiences in the domestic realm. I met her soon after moving to a new town, so it’s almost impossible to go out or even drive down the street without being reminded of her – the site of our first date, restaurants we went to, parks we liked, places I showed her or she showed me, clothes she helped me pick out, even the first Thanksgiving turkey I cooked myself.

As to what to do: there’s no easy advice. Science has yet to give us the oneitis pill, a theoretical gamechanger that would be on par with male birth control. The best thing you can do is build an independent life, and the let your mind gradually fit into it.

Break the chemical bonds she has on you. Try to blow your mind out with dopamine (within limits of course – cocaine is inadvisable). Go for some new experiences. Break your routines. Pick a hobby or personal project you’ve always wanted to do, and do it – with gusto.

One commenter suggested a good weight program. I wholeheartedly endorse that (eat healthy too). Don’t just do your reps and go home, put on some loud music and really go for the “pump.”

Push your social comfort zone a bit. Try a new frame with clothing – if you’re an athletic guy, cop the corduroy-and-horn-rims look of a young English professor (you know, the ones the college girls are always having flings with). If you’re a bit of a geek, get some pants that fit and a few nice dress shirts and pretend you just came from an upscale brunch. Roleplaying – the idea that you DON’T have to be yourself in this costume – should loosen you up.

Play social games with new people. Never introduce yourself – wait for them to do so or to ask you your name. Give people an obviously bogus occupation when they ask what you do (“I appraise used farming equipment for the resale market.” “I’m head of operations at a Christmas sweater manufacturing company.” “I don’t like to make it public, but have you heard of the Sausage King of Chicago?”)

There will be a big tendency towards self-pity. Avoid this by trying to turn every conversation back to the other person. Don’t tell them about your problems; let them shine and absorb their energy. This not only practices your skills as a master conversationalist, it gets your mind off of your own crap. (If they don’t shine, find someone else to talk to…why spend time with people you find a drag or a bore?)

As for dating itself, I don’t recommend a series of meaningless one-night stands/FWB/NSA, but there wouldn’t be anything wrong with a fling (particularly one that didn’t go all the way). Nor with going on a few dates, just some fun experiences with women to let you know there are other girls in the world and you can attract them. This is one thing I wish I had done when I got left high and dry a few years back (send me your online dating profile if you want me to work it over).

You may be tempted to throw yourself into your work. It’s a trap, avoid it – it sublimates the problem instead of treating it. Make social commitments that require you to get out of the office at a decent hour.

Finally, you’ll have to find a way to come to some sort of forgiveness. You don’t have to contact her to communicate this, but you don’t want to be in a way where you are operating from a subconscious revenge mindset, where you want to do someone the way she did to you. Don’t let her live rent-free in your head.

I will not lie to you, and in any case you know right now that what I say is true – it’s not easy. There’s waves of intense loneliness, a feeling of abandonment and abandoning, and a generalized sense that the world doesn’t compute, that there’s nothing to salve your mind. You’ll spend time doing interesting things and talking to interesting people and thinking to yourself “I wish she was here.”

It’s not true. There will be a day when you wake up and the first thing you think about ISN’T her. By definition, you won’t notice this day. You probably won’t be able to locate it after the fact. But it will be one of the most liberating days of your life, the day your mind let you go on.

That’s a good segue into our other post. A reader email at Married Man Sex Life was quoted thusly:

Hi Athol,

I’ve been an avid reader of your blog for some time now, and just recently got the book and started reading it. Even though I’m not married, I am in a LTR of 7 months, and already things have gone downhill, so I’m hoping the book will help bring it back to life. We haven’t had sex for close to a month now, her reasons being too exhausted and stressed from the new job, and not being comfortable with her own body as she’s gained a little weight since we started dating. Even though that may be partly true as she works long hours, Isuspect the real reason is my greatly increased “betatude” in the last few months.

My question to you is – should I tell her about the book and give it to her to read once I’m done, as I think it would help her shed some light on her own behaviour as well, or would that be a bad idea and make me look even more beta in her eyes (the fact that I need to read a book to figure out how to re-ignite the spark). I’m 25 and she’s 21, although she acts much more mature than that, if it makes a difference. Looking forward to your answer, and to finishing the book of course!

Cheers, thanks.

I’ll be shorter this time. My take is that problems around the six-month point indicate that for one or both of you, the novelty has worn off, and/or you’re at a comfort stage where you (or she) feel “OK” not being on your best behavior anymore.

One of the great shames in relationships is that people try to justify treating their partner shabbily with some high-octane rationalization along the lines of “well I’m comfortable enough to show you my bad side” or “if you can’t take my worst you don’t deserve my best,” a bunch of Cosmo-esque bullshit. (As if she’d give Matthew McConaughey the same treatment.)

Life changes, bodies change, jobs change, etc – it’s a fact of life, and one of the reasons we should date for a long time before getting married is so we can audition our partners for how they deal with life changes. People who can only enjoy life under a tightly controlled set of circumstances, or only when it’s novel and fun, who don’t show significant adaptability, are not people to bet the rest of your life on.

Now for the advice nobody wants to hear: if things have gone downhill so quickly that early, I think it’s best to simply eject. Sure you should up your alpha but don’t waste it on fixing her. Give up the Captain Save-A-Ho fantasy. Give up the sense of obligation to “nurture” her because you think that’s what love is all about. If you’d been together ten years and things had just started to decline it’d be worth a full effort to turn it around; six months in and you’re probably just not that compatible.

I would use the book less to convince her to shape up (you can’t force her behavior anyway) and more to convince yourself of the type of relationship you want to have (one where sex problems manifest themselves six months in?)

I will break bread with Athol’s answer, though – there is the chance that a lucid and direct articulation of your expectations for the relationship (as relayed in MMSL or any other way you want to present it) will cause her to straighten up and fly right. Quite honestly, due to cultural brainwashing plenty of women who would make great wives don’t know how to present as such because they just don’t know the expectations, and they can’t read our minds. Not every woman is an anarcho-feminist bitch who needs to be gamed into submission.

So it might be worth a try. But you should think it over – do you want to invest long-term if problems are this bad this early? Wouldn’t your skills be better used on someone who didn’t fall out of love with you within the first year?

Take it from a guy who stayed in such a situation far longer than he should have. The initial pain is significant, but you’ll never regret it in the long run.

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