Category Archives: original research

Micro-Game, Macro-Game

One of the less productive debates around these parts of the Internet is the debate about what exactly “game” really is. Is it your actual personality? Your seductive ability with women specifically? Your wardrobe, job or lifestyle? Your overall social skill?

The fact is when people talk about someone’s “game,” they can be referring to any point on a spectrum of all these things. (This truth has been used as a strawman by critics desperate to nail down some definition of game so they can feel they’ve discredited it.)

A while back I articulated an idea on another blog that tried to split these out. I separated the personality/behavioral/social interaction factors, which I called “micro-game,” from demographic and structural factors, “macro-game.”

“Micro-game” is how to tune/change your behavior to increase a woman’s attraction to you or to otherwise influence her behavior to be more favorable towards you. Behavior in this sense is verbal and body language in social interactions – leadership and verbal social dominance, maintaining frame, passing fitness tests, communicating emotionally, captivating her imagination – distinct from your fitness, paycheck, etc. This is “game” in the original sense of the word – a piece of a man’s personality that is orthogonal to the other parts and specifically addresses how he deals with women.

“Macro-game” is the overall structure of who is attractive and why, whether the overall structure of you is attractive, and all the ways you can change your attractiveness and the relationships around you. This involves not just your social skills but your life habits, your fitness, fashion sense, the trajectory of your life. It is here where your job, your body composition, the social group you hang out in, the kind of car you drive, what neighborhood you live in, etc, come into play.

Another way of looking at it is to consider what questions each idea is trying to answer.

Micro-game is why two guys with basically the same look, lifestyle and job might get very different results from women – one of them may understand better how to socially interact with women, and thus capitalizes better on opportunities.

Macro-game is why, in the college SMP, jocks and frat guys get sex on speeddial while Poindexter in the library struggles to get a date – at that age especially, realized sexual market value exists in athletic prowess and social dominance far more than it does in intellectual firepower.

Micro-game almost always leads to macro-game in a guy’s improvement plan, because better social skills can only take you so far if you don’t have an improved lifestyle to back it with. It’s a notable sequence in Neil Strauss’ book “The Game” that almost as soon as he started get rudimentary results using PUA tactics (PUA game is largely micro-game focused), he undertook other changes in his life to enhance his personal quality, including shaving his head, getting lasik eye surgery, and taking up surfing. I almost never hear of a guy who has gotten some success with game who hasn’t bootstrapped it to make other positive changes that all synergize. Put another way, once they realize how to market themselves to women, they can’t resist improving the product they are marketing as well. Improvement is infectious, as are its rewards.

A similar idea to the micro/macro frame was discussed in my post “Game As Part Of Your Attraction Palette.”

Meanwhile, a number of writers have riffed on this dichotomy. Danger&Play has consistently banged the drum for “lifestyle game,” emphasizing that men should cultivate a masculine and interesting lifestyle ahead of investing an immodest amount of time in honing their (micro) game to perfection. He asserts that a properly masculine lifestyle will do the bulk of the attracting and framing. To this end he has encouraged men to stuff their brains in their youth and develop healthy habits.

Athol Kay, writing for a rather different set of readers, had a great post arguing that most long-term attraction is structural – in other words, macro-game – and that coupled guys will generally get more bang for the buck working to improve or fix their structural background than trying to (micro) game their women.

For the typical single guy, changing your verbal and body behavior can get you almost instantly improved results in the sexual marketplace. For LTR or married guys, you can’t just go approach a new girl and start over, so the focus is on how to better arrange your life habits and structure to get better treatment from your wife. As discussed in the original Dalrock thread and elsewhere, if you have structural issues taken care of (keep a job, keep a house, be a responsible adult), your “LTR game” becomes a matter of NOT doing the things that turn your wife/gf off – stop whining, keep your hobbies, don’t beg for her approval. It doesn’t fix every case, but it’s an 80% solution that cuts through some typical reasons for strife and oh my the way sets you up for future success in the event that your relationship does go south.

The final thing is that the micro and the macro live in balance. You can be a fit, interesting dude, but if you are wearing baggy clothes and can’t communicate your personality to others, your results writ large are going to suck just as bad as if you have a slick wardrobe and a gift of gab but ultimately haven’t done jack shit with your life.

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Reciprocal Scarcity: A Treatise in Two Parts (Part II)

On Friday I discussed a Wall Street Journal article about workplace perks and riffed about how two parties in a market can both be chasing a high-quality/non-fungible and thus scarce resource the other possesses, and that this “reciprocal scarcity” produces a paradox where both sides perceive a critical shortage despite their being, by the numbers, a lot of supply in the field.

The thing is, if you look like the rest of the field…you’re in the “presenter” role, and you have to try to get employers’ attention. You avoid mistakes that bounce people out of interviews, and hope that someone in the process liked you enough to give you the job above a bunch of other cookie-cutter candidates, because when they have more suitors than spots, they start making decisions on ever more petty criteria.

However, if you have some trait that makes you desirable for a particular niche…you will be more of a selector, and employers will fight over you. Those who need someone to do, say, international tax law, or arcane circuit design, or precision welding, or to close deals that couldn’t otherwise be closed, will find themselves adapting to the applicants more than the other way around, lest they be caught entirely without someone to do essential work for their business.

It should be pretty clear to regular readers that this mutual asymmetry also exists in the sexual and mating marketplace. It’s a fascinating analogy, as mates are not fungible commodities either – some people are more desireable than others, which changes people’s negotiating behavior, IOW what they are willing to give for what they get. When you feel your options for mates are scarce, you will instinctively put yourself in a submissive bargaining position, accepting poor mate quality and bad behavior out of fear that you will never convince another person to to love you.

(Sidebar: The “romantics,” as you might call them, are deeply disturbed by this model and reject it. Their concept is of a special, individualized “life force” that matches you lock and key with a soulmate, and that the dating culture is a large-scale randomization that enables soulmates to match up. They see the idea of a mating “marketplace” to be crass and dehumanizing. The truth is, though, that there are physical, structural and contextual factors that predict attraction between the genders, and these can leveraged and modulated by individuals to improve their results. You do not have to be an evo-psych true believer to buy this; The Selfish Gene is pretty well-accepted in the popular scientific community.)

The incidence of reciprocal scarcity in the SMP, obviously, is that the most desirable mates of either gender have strong bargaining power and wide choice. This came up in the Introverted Playboy’s recent post “Women are not the selectors, hot people are”:

“Both hot men and hot women–in other words, the most sexually desirable members of each gender–are the sexual selectors because a large number of people want to date or sleep with them…

If we look at the hottest men, the men who are the most attractive to the female gender, they do not have an issue when it comes to sexual access. They can either generate sexual opportunities for themselves relatively easily, or they have opportunities coming to them with less effort…The least attractive men are the most sexually driven–because they have so few options–and this is what makes them overeager whenever a hot woman gives them a little interest. This creates the illusion that women are the selectors, but what is really happening is that one person is more eager than the other, and as a result, the less eager person has leverage in the relationship. If the man is less eager (i.e. by being outcome independent, living a powerful life that is more interesting to him than getting the next lay, etc), then suddenly the tables start to turn.”

(Cross-blog plug: I really like the IP’s stuff, Badger Hut regulars would probably enjoy his style.)

A key note on the idea of “selection” is needed here. In today’s American society, outside of a sliver of religious sects, sexual selection is the predecessor to relationship selection. The vast majority of men are not interested in dating/having a relationship with a woman they aren’t attracted to. The same goes for women, excepting those who are trying to snag the beta-provider security in their SMP twilight, so let’s say no woman with options is going to date a man she’s not attracted to. In the vast majority of cases, some kind of sexual activity that goes beyond first base is going happen before the relationship is sealed.

So the sexual and so-called “marital” marketplaces are not operating in parallel as much as some kind of success in the SMP is a prerequisite to enter the MMP.

Now, let’s analyze the dual scarcities.

The dominance-and-status basis for male attraction, the strong influence of preselection and female hypergamy, and the horrifically inadequate social training provided to young men in today’s society put only a small cohort of men in the “desireable” category. These men are either nailed down by partners or “unavailable” by virtue of pluralistic availability (i.e. playing the field), and so to a woman seeking such a mate, they are perpetually scarce targets.

This is exactly the source of the feminist Apex Fallacy the manosphere is repeatedly citing (hat tip to Bernard Chapin for coining the term): if you are a woman who is not at the top of her food chain, you are a presenter and the men you desire are the selectors, and their behavior dominates your perception of what men and their lives are like. And select they will. Early on, the Manosphere get behind the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule – a longtime male proverb that “80% of the girls are sleeping with 20% of the guys.” This was never intended to be an absolute numerical description but expressed a Thompsonian verisimilitude of the sexual marketplace that resonated with most men – that the trend of women’s interest went to a small sliver of guys, while the rest are to be rejected with prejudice or tolerated as a secondary strategy when the music is stopping and there’s no handsome hunk offering her a seat on his lap.

Recent statistics that there are more male than female virgins in American colleges seems to back up the idea. (A corollary of the 80/20 rule was “you just have to get into that 20% and you’re set,” reflecting preselection’s power to make a sexually successful male even more desired.)

On the other side of the seesaw, you have reams of indistinguishibly drab beta males, whose mating fields run fallow in one season after another. They have meager means to attract and retain women, and are desperate for female attention and approval. These men are presenters, and the women they desire the selectors (and often the women they desire are of modest SMP “resources”). The results are predictably disastrous; they are the SMP equivalent of fresh college graduates begging employers for that first boost up the staircase, hoping someone will take a chance on them. They will have infinite, and corrosively self-destructive, loyalty and dedication because they are existentially scared of being cast out, of losing their newfound font of romantic attention and sexual access. The female reactions to this behavior are, to put it mildly, extremely negative.

We in the Manosphere are continually warning and coaching men to develop a mindset of abundance and avoid the mindset of scarcity. By a quirk of psychology, if a man acts in a manner congruent with having a lot of options, enough women will see him (and treat him) as a man with options for him to level up his bargaining position and have a chance at some success. It is truly amazing to watch a humble, mild-mannered man assume an affected posture of social dominance and outcome independence and see his fortunes with women improve. (Again, the romantics would say he’s tapping into some kind of core value buried deep inside him that people are responding to – but no, he’s simply exhibiting behaviors that are known to increase his perceived social value.)

As I once noted in a comment, the overall selection auction goes something like this:

  1. The top men take whom they want (who are happy to go along)
  2. The remaining top women pick the best greater-betas
  3. The middle betas and below then take the women they can get (who go along grudgingly)

So there’s a scarcity mindset at every rung relative to the rung above it. Even the men at the top perceive some scarcity, because their personalities and tastes for variety are insatiable (that’s part of why they are up there). Note that the women in step 2 are put in a position of relationship leadership that the empirical evidence suggests women are not very keen on.

In other words, just like in the job market, the mindset of sexual-marketplace scarcity can and does go in both directions. It’s easy to get wrapped up in cognitive bias by telling yourself, if you’re a woman for instance, that men have it easy. Men don’t have it easy, the small subset of highly-desired men have it easy (the apex fallacy lives), as do the most desired women.

My friend Captain Capitalism has undertaken some original research to determine the exact terms of the SMP’s interpersonal bargaining: he polled his male readership for their age and approximately how much time they spent pursuing women. The results were predictable but useful – guys in their mid-20′s to early 30′s spent almost a quarter of their free time pursuing women, with the results falling off such that by age 50 or so, guys were putting in almost no effort.

The numbers suggest that the age at which men perceive the most benefit from female pursuit is in the young adult years, however it also suggests that they are relatively weak bargainers at that age which itself motivates the intense effort to meet and date girls.

FURTHER READING

I penned two earlier posts that overlap with this Treatise, and rather than stuff their hyperlinks into the new text, I figured they were worth outboard citations in their own right.

Reflections on Frost’s Analysis of the Sexual Revolution

Decoupling Intimacy and Commitment

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Reciprocal Scarcity: A Treatise in Two Parts

This week I read an interesting if poorly-written article in the Wall Street Journal regarding workplaces providing alcohol for onsite social hours. The comments section was littered with squares wringing their hands at how unprofessional and dangerous a practice this was, but I was most struck by one Alan Maxwell:

“I keep reading unemployment is high, especially amongst less experienced/college grads. But, then I see the weekly articles on this site on “cutting edge” practices to attract workers, especially millenials (recent college grads). Which is to be believed?”

The answer is both, and frankly the fellow’s comment may be glib rhetoric but it’s lousy economics. The fact is that people can be desperately looking for jobs at the same time employers are desperately trying to hire. It’s not enough to say “there are X jobs open and Y people applying.” It needs to be understood who wants to work these jobs, who the employers want to fill them, and what the two sides are willing to give each other to make the deal work.

I’m not an economist by trade, but I know enough to understand that in a diversified white-collar economy, neither workers nor jobs are fungible commodities – some are better than others, and that reality produces bargaining asymmetries. In short, employees want to work at the best jobs (defined by pay, benefits, psychic reward, or potential for advancement) while employers want the best workers (be it the most productive, least demanding, most trustworthy, or best cultural fit).

The real mind-blower here is that those asymmetries can go in both directions simultaneously.

(Vocabulary note: A good is “fungible” if one unit of the good functions the same as another unit and they can be mutually exchanged with no loss of utility. Gasoline and stock shares are frequent examples – it doesn’t matter which gallon or lot I have, it’s all the same as long as I have the same amount.)

dilbert-fungible

The thing is, if you look like the rest of the field (where “look like” is to say have a resume and background typical of your demographic), you’re in the “presenter” role, and you have to try to get employers’ attention. You avoid mistakes that bounce people out of interviews, and hope that someone in the process liked you enough to give you the job above a bunch of other cookie-cutter candidates, because when they have more suitors than spots, they start making decisions on ever more petty criteria.

However, if you have some trait that makes you desireable for a particular niche (you have a special skill or educational experience, or maybe your family name is politically advantageous), you will be more of a selector, and employers will fight over you. Those who need someone to do, say, international tax law, or arcane circuit design, or precision welding, or to close deals that couldn’t otherwise be closed, will find themselves adapting to the applicants more than the other way around, lest they be caught entirely without someone to do essential work for their business.

I didn’t understand this when I was young and job-hunting – it was easy to think that we were all chasing the same internships and jobs and that they just had to pick those of us they liked. There was some truth to it, because most of us had next to no experience and no durable reason for them to choose us. But when I got older and started to see how real recruiters at top-flight companies were approaching the talent chase, I observed that it was an all-out war. These were not “HR ditzes,” but serious salepeople whose product was their own company and whose “leads” were future coworkers. Intense and sometimes bitter rivalries flared amongst competitors, all chasing that small patch of bumper-crop workers who could take their firms to the next level.

We saw jobs as scarce resources and did whatever it took to stand out; meanwhile, those companies themselves saw top candidates as scarce resources and did whatever it took to stand out.

The same reciprocal scarcity exists, incidentally, in college applications and recruiting. Achievement-oriented kids stuff the top colleges’ mailboxes to the tune of ten times the number of enrollees they can allow. Meanwhile the top schools viciously compete to land the best crop of top students in each incoming class. Administrators are deathly afraid of losing students to other schools because they didn’t get enough financial aid or they perceive the campus to be unfriendly to a demographic or academic interest they fancy.

Standing out is one of the key factors that’s driving this proliferation of office-comfort perks and alternative benefits at startups and small firms, including meals, free booze, massages and medical services, daycare, laundry, even financing subsidies – the payoff of those top employees is so critical to the business that they need this stuff to get them in the door and make them want to stay. The movement that has moved into the political realm as well: companies are scared to death of being perceived as unwelcoming to women or minorities or some other demographic and go to great lengths to tout and even sponsor their commitment to various flavors of openness. This is not just motivated by the typically-left-of-center politics that adorn today’s educated entrepreneurial class; it’s also a marketing strategy for recruiting, and it’s not just about recruiting those demographics. It’s about recruiting and retaining people who would say “I don’t want to work at a company where XXX aren’t welcome” or even “I don’t want to work here if I have to explain this blight to my friends.”

As for the employment lawyers wagging their fingers/salivating at the prospect of things going wrong on company premises, employers need to be responsible in bringing in employees who aren’t going to make fools of themselves. If you are hiring people of at least passable character, and you are giving them a working environment they really enjoy and can thrive in, and you set some expectations up front, you can expect that most of them won’t abuse the privilege – any more than one of them might go on a bender once they get home from work. And what you get in exchange for that is a deep level of trust and commitment on the employees’ part. It’s not just that they’ll stay at work because you’re buying them a beer, it’s that they actually want to have a drink with their colleagues, and this probably pays off in passion and creativity.

If on the other hand you are hiring the creatures of interminable excess that made Wall Street and Barbarians At The Gate resonant cultural texts, and you rationalize it by saying “we have to tolerate their workplace asshole behavior to make the numbers this quarter,” your in-office drinking parties might get out of hand, because those are the personalities you have selected for.

The fact that the startups and firms doing this tend to be small is a key factor in keeping the liability risk under control, as they can keep a pretty close eye on both individual behavior and office culture, crafting collective expectations out of the team’s natural camaraderie. This is impossible to do at a corporate level, where employers invariably start seeing workers as autonomous drones who need to be shamed and forbidden from activities that might escape the rigid controls that are the only option of the macro-manager.

As can be gleaned from the comments on the WSJ article, it’s been a big shock to baby-boomer types who grew up in the corporate economies of the 70′s and 80′s, with highly structured work weeks, constrained benefits, cafeteria lunches and strict distinctions between management and the people doing the actual company work (a white-collar, right-to-work version of the union factory). It’s curious, then, to consider how these new office structures are becoming the new company towns.

Regular readers will be chomping at the bit at this point to analogize this situation to the sexual marketplace and mating practices. Fear not – the interpersonal analysis will be discussed in the next post.

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“A Normal Guy”

My post about a dinner-party proposition drew some discussion from the commentariat regarding the woman in question’s desire for a so-called “normal guy.”

Georgia Boy hit the nail on the head:

Normal is an interesting choice of words. I wonder about it because it’s something I was called by a then-recently-ex girlfriend back in my pre-red pill days. She told me it was an ego boost to her because “it was the first time a relatively normal guy wanted to date me.” What would the Womanese-English translator spit out if you typed in “normal guy?” “Suitable relationship beta who’s not too dweeby,” maybe?

As did ASF:

Normal guy just means guy I like/am attracted to and who others in my social circle will approve of. As deti points out, there is no specific set of traits that will make you “normal” aside from all of the standard things Game teaches.

Georgia Boy’s mention of the Woman-English translator is germane, as the critical distinction here is that the connotation of “normal” is very different between men and women.

THE MEASURE OF A MAN

If you ask a man in my social circle to describe a “normal guy,” you are probably going to get something like these traits:

  • A few pounds overweight
  • Basically genial and seeks to be nice to everyone
  • Takes his turn when picking up the tab or giving people rides
  • Not a ladder-climber but a good enough worker to be a team contributor and not make any office enemies
  • Decent but unremarkable fashion sense
  • Unceasingly well-intentioned but predictably ham-fisted in his efforts with women; gets lucky on occasion in the true sense of the word
  • You’d have him over to drink a few beers and watch the game

In other words, a “normal guy” is just that – an average, or median, specimen. There’s some adjustment for subculture, as “normal” in say a college-educated urban community is different than a middle-aged suburban family neighborhood; likewise hipsters and young black professionals have different norms as well, as do religious and non-religious (and much of the criticism of organized-religion communities is actually a criticism of their social norms, not of their faith per se).

This is exactly the kind of dude most guys want to have as “part of the gang” – a reliable teammate who isn’t going to be too much of a bother or a challenge.

The problem is that this type of back-seater is almost invisible to women who have not yet hit the “I’m getting older and had better lock down a husband” kind of panic.

SIMPLE TASTES

Remember that while the male hindbrain’s thought pattern is to find a woman attractive absent a disqualifying criterion, a woman’s pattern is the opposite: to seek a series of qualifiers before approving her attraction to a man. In fact, the general tendency is for women to judge the majority of men as defective. When you combine a woman’s own natural sex rank (below which men are not considered at all), the particular attraction markers she’s looking for in a man (be they height, fitness, status, or socially dominant personality), and the need to have her choice culturally blessed by her social circle, there’s just not a lot of guys who are going to make it through all the filters.

So when you hear a woman talk about “normal,” what she really means is “normative” – a guy who fits her mental “standard” of how a “man” she would date must be. He’s a high-value man with a well-developed beta sidecar:

  • Is working hard at advancement (“ambition”) in a job that is either high-status (law, management, banking) or “interesting” (musician, media, non-profts, politics)
  • Can show group dominance, i.e. “work a room” and do a bunch of glad-handing but not a compulsively dominant guy who will pick fights or make trouble
  • Can flash dominance to her (e.g. pass fitness tests, avoid fitting into her frame)
  • Tidy and fashionable, but not so much that he’s gay or OCD
  • Aesthetically pleasing: shows strong physique, fitness and/or fashion sense
  • Fits into feminine imperatives: holds relationship/marriage/kids as long-term life goals, but doesn’t seek to serve a woman
  • Has good timing of beta traits so the other girls will say “awwww, I wish MY boyfriend would do that for ME!”

(This list is skewed towards the college-educated young adult frame because that’s the world I live in, but you could tweak it for any subculture without much trouble.)Long story short, a “normal” guy is “an alpha who will play the beta game when I want him to.” A dude who is not deficient in some category she deems essential to her life path – she’s never going to write to Dear Abby about him and say “I really love my boyfriend, buuuuuut…” and spit out what she sees as some kind of red-flag dealbreaker and waxes about the cute guy who gave her his phone number at the bookstore.

My tone sounds cynical, but there’s no point making ethical assertions about this; it’s the culture they live in, you aren’t going to change their preferences by argument or shame, and you’re going to find most of these items, in some combination, in almost all women you find even remotely attractive.

As you can imagine, finding the balance point of ALL these items, and calibrating it to the woman in question, is extremely difficult, and those kind of guys are pretty rare in quantity. Thus we guys think it ludicrous when we hear “I can’t find a normal guy!” when by the male definition they are all over the place.

One other important aspect of normative “normal” is social approval, which goes to ASF’s point “who others in my social circle will approve of.” The normative man is a socially-reinforced concept, a group is going to exercise its collective power by encouraging conformity and cross-accountability – they can’t keep up their image of a bunch of Strong, Independent, Empowered Awesome Women, the Blonde Mafia or whatever image they hold dear, if they allow each other to date geeks, bums and guys who are Reeeeally Niiiiiice. A guy who threatens to alienate a girl from the group is a threat to the group, and deciding between the guy and the group is something I’ve noticed young women don’t really have an appetite to do. This in turn plays into a conclusion I’ve come to that today’s young educated women don’t really want a “committed partner” – they want a lifestyle accessory, a guy who enables a new class of “fun” and comfort with minimal friction to her current life.

Remember that despite being the ostensible “choosers” of the sexual marketplace, women view the men who pursue them as a mirror to their own value – it’s a compliment when a high-value man makes moves on you (even though he may be only angling for sex), it’s a scary proposition when a wimpy beta guy thinks you’re a good match for him because he may be right. Thus GB’s experience of “it was an ego boost to her because “it was the first time a relatively normal guy wanted to date me.””

LOOKING FOR LOVE IN ALL THE NORMAL PLACES

This is not the first time the “normal guy” conundrum has come up for me. I used to share an office with an attractive young woman straight out of college, who played host to a series of older young women who would gossip with her on the regular. I found out by accident that if I put on my headphones, they would assume I was occupied by music and unable to hear them; thus I was able to regularly eavesdrop on invaluable sessions inside the (virtual) girls’ locker room.

One particular Monday, one of matrons came in to debrief the young gal on their Friday evening, which began as an after-work happy hour and stretched into a singles night at the local watering hole, which happens to be known as one of the biggest douchey-frat-guy bars in town. (Being attractive educated women, they had spent most of their time since age 16 socializing with the jocks and frat guys who were their SMV peers anyway and so felt right at home.)

“So, what happened with that guy you were talking to?” (I could tell by her tone of voice she wasn’t approving of the man in question.)

“Welllll, he asked for my number, then the next day he texted me that some people were going out and I could meet him there, but I already kinda had plans so I didn’t meet him.” (HER tone of voice expressed a distinct lack of enthusiasm. This sounded more like a wannabe-player than the real deal, trying to pull off a botched least-interest game without having built sufficient value and allure in the initial meeting.)

At this point the group-protection instinct kicked in and the matron made clear that this guy didn’t fit the bill. She shook her head, intoned “we’ll go out again this weekend, we need to find you a NORMAL GUY,” and then proceeded to discuss other fratty bars they could peruse in search of the perfect man.

It didn’t seem to strike them as odd that they were looking for said “normal guy” at the douchiest bars in town, home of guys who are well-known for the pump-and-dump game. I took this as a sign of their normative judgments – “normal” entailed a guy with very high confidence, social skill and sexual social proof. I didn’t have the heart to blow my cover and tell them they were setting her up as player-bait, so I just filed it away in my growing red-pill datastore.

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Understanding What You’re Communicating

In my last post I discussed a woman who asked me to introduce her friend to some “normal men” on account of the fact she had (by her friend’s own admission) strip-mined conventional dating sources of available men.

(It was floated in the comments that the woman may have been attempting to hit on me directly by flattering me as a source of dating advice; while that’s certainly a possibility, I am skeptical, because she was sitting next to her boyfriend and the hostess of the party was a woman I was dating.)

It’s not that I fault her for it, it seems to be a normal part of the young female mind-script to expect a “she had so much trouble dating the wronggggg men and then she just magically met this GREAT guy who made it allllll better!”kind of story to emerge in her social circle. What she and other women are going to be waking up to is that today’s (beta) men are growing less tolerant of cleaning up after a girl’s youthful indiscretions.

YOU’RE NOT SAYING WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE SAYING

One point I drew attention to was that while she thought she was expressing “I have a single woman your friends might want a crack at,” what she was actually communicating was “my friend is a hot mess and I’m useless as a yenta, will you please help me save her bacon?” She’d effectively disqualified herself and her friend.

In my first job, my boss taught me a ridiculously useful way of evaluating my and others’ workplace actions: “you always need to look at what you’re communicating.” In truth, he was teaching me the concept of frame management, filtered through the corporate survival game. Frame is a critical social dynamics concept, the art of managing how you are presenting yourself and a situation when interacting with others, with a particular bent towards social positioning.

At the time I was boning up on game for the first time, and the relationship between the two was lock and key.

Humans, men especially, tend to overrate the importance of logical integrity and congruence when arguing and persuading others. The truth is that winning friends and influencing people requires so often that we induce or negotiate feelings within people, ahead of presenting them with logically sound arguments. Vox Day has termed this dichotomy “rhetoric” (the former) and “logic” (the latter). (It’s a bit like the Oprah-esque aphorism “people won’t remember what you do, they’ll remember how you make them feel – an important game lesson, incidentally.)

The impetus for my boss’ communication discussion was one coworker or another who had pissed off a client – not by delivering a bad product, but by constructing her response to a client request in a frame that said “I know what you need better than you do.” The client was a high-expectation yet easygoing character, who had plenty of patience for an honest mistake or an earnest counterarugment – but who was deeply put off by a brusque, arrogant response that said in so many words “I know better so why don’t you just shut up and listen to me.”

My boss’ point was that there’s much more to serving a client, customer, friend or partner than what you say and do – there’s a whole subtext of how you’ve framed the discussion, how you present the power balance and how you balance persuasion versus demand in the exchange.

Imagine a hypothetical example where you ask a pal for ten bucks to buy lunch. If you say “dude, I was hoping you could spot me a few bones? It’d be a big help, I’d really appreciate it,” you’re communicating a pre-emptive gratitude and deference to his voluntary charity. But if you say “hey man, how about ten bucks? I know you won’t even feel it,” you’re communicating a sense of entitlement, and an attitude that he’s got so much goddamn money you don’t even care if he sheds a few dollars and he shouldn’t either.

In both cases, you’re asking for exactly the same thing, but you’re creating a very different image of yourself in your friend’s mind.

Another example my boss liked to cite was conspicuous largesse or luxury in tough economic times – executive bonuses and resort conferences were brought up repeatedly. Regardless of the dollar amounts involved, any kind of “perking” when others are asked to go without communicates an air of elitism that is corrosive to a work team’s unity. Shrewd managers know how to put on an air of modesty that keeps the troops believing in cross-team empathy.

FRAME IN THE GAME

Some of the classic tactics of PUA game are based around communcation consciousness:

  • Don’t answer text messages quickly – communicates that you have other higher priorities than chasing girls
  • Don’t call on the phone often – communicates that your schedule is busy and your time well-spent
  • Avoid dinner dates – communicates that you aren’t a bank provider and bankroller of her social life
  • Be cool in the face of sexual rejection – communicates that sex is common for you and not a big deal

THE MIRROR STARES BACK HARD

When it comes to understanding what you’re communicating, a number of cognitive biases conspire to obscure the truth.

Solipsism (a self-referential perspective that paradoxically crowds out self-awareness) often blinds women to this process. There’s been a lot said about solipsism lately so I won’t rehash it, but it does tend to produce an acute lack of understanding about how your actions and words are being interpreted by others.

Conversely, men are often blind to what they are communicating due to male-typical tactic of not mincing words or dressing up talk with flowering indirect statement. What seems like a straightforward logical declaration can come across as a abrasive, disempathic personal attack. It’s not so much that men are unaware as they’ve decided (or been told) that the logical correctness of their words is all that should matter.

“Should” ain’t got nothing to do with it – we need to account for what  we’re communicating, in all interactions, if we want to be persuasive and seductive.

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The Benefits of Lifting Are Not Just Aesthetic

There’s been some discussion in the Manosphere about muscular power as it relates to female attraction. Lifting weights has been a longtime tenet of the game lifestyle from many sources. Athol Kay has weightlifting as the first item in his book’s Ten Steps To The MAP appendix. The more youthful gamers push it hard as the key to maintaining a body that will provide value in the SMP for decades to come. Lifting is critical to maximizing your sex rank, and as you get older and your status and income become more difficult to change, physical fitness can become the most mutable attraction trigger you possess.

My aim in this post is to emphasize a key point about weights: lifting is not just about improving how you look, it’s about improving your fitness and the social and hormonal signals you send to the opposite sex. Thus, lifting is about more than getting ripped muscles that look good in the mirror – even if you’re not getting giant biceps and a six-pack, weights are improving your body.

There certainly is an aspect of being fit that is just aesthetically pleasing to eye – the ripple of muscles, the taper, the lack of a gut. But there’s a reason I put looks and physical fitness in two different categories of my list of attraction triggers. A fit man also indicates good mating potential in more practical ways: he signals good genes to give to the woman’s future child, and portends the ability to provide for, construct for and protect the child (and its mother). In addition, a guy who is in shape and in good athletic control of his body is going to have a better social profile, because people subconsciously respect his improved physical stature and he’s probably giving off direct hormonal messages that he’s virile and ready to get the mating job done. Frost of Freedom Twenty Five put it simply: “you smell like testosterone.” There’s a phenomenon among women called “sexy ugly,” a guy who doesn’t have an alluring physical look but is attractive to women. Social behavior – i.e. game – explains a lot of it, but it’s not all: even an aesthetically unremarkable man can earn points with the hindbrain with his fitness.

The reason I emphasize this difference is that whenever this topic comes up around women, the discussion usually trends toward “how does your body look in a photograph.” Much attention is paid to celebrity photos as examples of what they like (which are prone to mis-attributing personality or status traits to physical ones). A great cacophony ensues as a subset of women insist they don’t like “muscles” and go for “skinny guys.” Part of the debate is just plurality – there is indeed a spread of what women find attractive. But there’s also a bit of wordplay going on. I find when I dig into these discussions, by asking for examples of who they find attractive, that the “skinnylovers” almost always prefer slim-built guys, yes, but slim guys who are strong and hard. Pasty men are not on anybody’s hitlist. What I don’t think women realize is that when meeting men, in the flesh, they are responding not just to his aesthetic look but to his signals of fitness. Thus an “uglier” guy can be more of a turn-on if he’s more fit.

MAY PRETTY LIES PERISH

I am concerned that men will hear this discussion and internalize one or both of these two false messages:

  • Women don’t like muscle-bound men, so you should run or bike instead of lift and try to be as lean as possible
  • You’ll never get to Mr Universe levels of muscle mass, so don’t bother lifting at all

We see both of these messages in game, as well: “game doesn’t work, women would never fall for that crap,” OR “even with game you won’t bang supermodels so why try to improve at all.” The former is simply mendacity; the latter is a defeatist straw man.

This confusion is an occupational hazard of interviewing women about their attraction triggers; not only do you have to deal with rationalization hamsters, you have to deal with vocabulary that doesn’t compute and also with false dichotomies. Lots of women (and some men) regard any discussion of weightlifting to mean bodybuilding and powerlifting, of meatheads throwing fifty-pound dumbbells around a stinky ass gym that doubles as a frat house where pussies who can’t bench their own body weight aren’t welcome. (GLPiggy wrote of Planet Fitness’ strategy to market directly against that stereotype, and how it partially reflects a feminine tactic to run away from and shame uncomfortable social friction. On the other hand, there are some really annoying gym guys.)

Over on the Alpha Game thread, one self-righteous commenter/blogger under the nom de guerre Bob Wallace bleated the following:

Almost all body builders are homosexual, and they do it because they are narcissistic and they do it for each other. Then you have the short guys with the Little Man Complex. Lots of women don’t like muscles and I’ve met many who prefer tall slender guys.

Classic example of the false dichotomy, this was in a discussion about fitness, not about “bodybuilding.” It’s akin to interrupting a discussion about which passenger car has the best gas mileage by saying “those big semi-trucks are major gas guzzlers, you should bike around town instead.”

By the way, the stereotypes of “weights culture” are a important issue in fitness, because the lunkhead stereotypes drive women away from weights, and weights are critically important to both genders’ fitness plans, not to mention much more effective than those stupid elliptical machines. Women need to know that plenty of men lift weights without a grunting hypertrophic approach, and that women can lift weights without engaging in any of that either. Women say “I don’t lift because I don’t want to get big.” It’s just not a real risk for regular women in regular workouts.

Back on the topic, a photograph of Orlando Bloom was floated as an example of a “skinny” guy:

No man versed in athletics would describe him as skinny. I would say he has a slim build and is in good shape. Extremely good shape. Look at the way his deltoid folds into his torso and the complete lack of a gut. He looks like he could play safety.

I think it’s as universal a rule as we can come up with that whatever body type they prefer, women like fitness and tone on a man.

FIT OR FAT, FOR YOUR TYPE

To cut through the vocabulary, I view the issue like this: there are a certain number of basic male bodytypes (the ecto/endo/mesomorph types are one way of indexing them). each woman is programmed to dig certain body types, among the other traits she’s interested in. Within those types, a woman will almost always prefer the fitter example of the type.

If you’re a big guy who puts on weight easily (big bone structures tend to do that), being “not fit” is probably going to mean being chubby. When he eats right and gets in the weight room, he can put some real definition on his very large muscles and look classically “ripped.” Conversely, a slim-build guy may not get a bulging muscular look when  he’s working out, but he will be toned and fit, which can certainly be felt if not seen. However, when he’s out of shape, he won’t look any bigger, but he’ll have a pasty “skinny fat” look and feel that will disgust most women on contact.

GIVE THE BODY AGENDA A HAND UP

Finally, you never really know until you try which of these levels is going to operate on a particular girl (or guy), whether you’ll be judged “sexy ugly” or a “pretty beta.”

Sometimes the body agenda doesn’t kick in until close contact. As I wrote here, I recently dated an attractive, very intelligent, very interesting woman who had one fatal flaw – every time I touched her, my body agenda induced a sense of cum-curdling disgust. It was completely unexpected; I could fantasize about her in my own mind, but when I went to I felt an unshakeable sense of disgust. It felt bad to tell her we should stop dating; it must be what women feel when they have to dump their smart, hardworking, nice, but ultimately non-dominant and unattractive beta male.

Then on the other hand, often I’m drinking casually at a bar or pub, and a girl who was otherwise unremarkable to me will walk past and accidentally bump me, and this tingly shiver will run up my body from my junk to the top of my head. Putting aside the portion of bumps that are not accidental (it’s a key insight of game to realize that so much of the thigh-bumps, boob-rubs, and casual eye contact of women are not accidental at all), it’s a great anecdotal example of the localized nature of attraction – it can get triggered at any point in the entire process.

I find the same thing when women touch me when I am toned and in shape – once they cop a feel of the muscles, their eyes pop out of their head and they’re hooked.

As does another commenter at the Alpha Game thread:

From my experience, women say negative things about muscles until they are able to touch them and feel them from men.

Much more if they experience sex with a muscular guy.

When it’s you who is hoping for that positive reaction up-close, you want to give her body agenda a hand up by being a body her body would want.

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Measuring Your Game Outcomes

With the recent posts on what game is, it’s prudent to explore the issue further and discuss how to measure game’s impact on a man’s personal life. Any improvement plan – personal, athletic, financial, corporate – had better be bookened by before-and-after evaluation. If you’re a consultant, you’ll get laughed out of the room if you can’t point to some measures of performance and say “these numbers are going to go up/down if we execute my plan.” Powerpointers speak of arranging statistical plots to go “up and to the right,” showing a trend of improvement over time.

As the readership’s game consultant, it behooves me to posit some metrics you can use to tweak and target your game strategy. Here are some goals you might have that motivate your pursuit of tighter game:

I. Attract more women

II. Get further sexually and personally with women who are attracted to you

III. Attract women who are more attractive

In rough order of difficulty.

These are all realistic goals for a man working on his game, but you may notice that they can be contradictory. If you’re working on closing the deal with a woman, you take away time to spend on attracting other women, and if you try to up the caliber of woman you are attracting, the number of women you are attracting is liable to go down. It’s a bit like, say, the national health care debate – should society seek to lower the price of healthcare for those who already have access to it, or to provide access to people who don’t have it now, or to increase access to specialty care for everybody? It’s all about tradeoffs, which is why it’s good practice to pick one of these metrics to work on every time you embark on a game-oriented project.

Attracting more women is largely about putting more time and emphasis on the game itself. Once you’ve identified the level and style of girls who tend to be into you, you go whole-hog into approaching and opening them and at least some of them are going to be attracted to you. To do this, you have to go where girls are – bars, clubs and concerts at night, coffee shops, bookstores, farmer’s markets and yoga studios in the daytime. There’s a lifestyle change, but only to the degree of getting out more and striking up more conversations. A good place to start is to examine how many women you meet in a week.

Secondary skills here are reducing approach anxiety and building your casual conversational skills. The key factor here is to “be cool” (hat tip to Roosh) – if you are OK with the women you can get now, you don’t need any extra game except to do more of it and let whatever natural attraction you have do its work.

An aside: it’s a good practice to not positively reject a lot of women or to get butthurt about their rejection, because even if she’s not into you, her friend might be, and a good word amongst them (“he doesn’t really do it for me but he’s a good guy”) might be enough to get you approved by a girl who’s on the fence about you. Don’t be a beta orbiter, but always recognize the benefits of a magnanimous, genial attitude in social-circle game.

Closing the deal more effectively requires a combination of logistics (arrangements of time and space that are conducive to sex and personal bonding) and seduction (the act of drawing someone into an emotional space where their desires are validated and allowed to blossom). I’ve written about both of these here. Logistics have been covered voluminously in other literature, the basic idea being that you need to actively escalate the privacy and intimacy of the encounter, by isolating, location bouncing/venue changing, and finally getting the both of you to your place or her place, a comfortable, safe environment for sex.

Seduction is the emotive counterpart to escalation, and much game writing focuses on building the personal connection and comfort that sets up a successful seduction without inducing a buyer’s remorse, “OMG what am I doing?” reaction. Contrary to the plaintive didactions of female advice-givers who say “a woman really needs to get to know a man before she’ll be ready to have sex with him,” this comfort can be built up in a matter of hours. It’s really not difficult, do a couple of cold reads or ask some deep rapport questions and segue into an honest discussion about each other (avoid spoiling your mystery by continually turning the conversation back to her).

Along with these, there’s an element of removing anti-game behaviors (like supplication and hesitation, or fidgety body language) to help you escalate and close more reliably.

A sidebar discussion is necessary at this point. It’s important to understand that failure in seduction makes the rest of your game superfluous. Below a certain level of seductive skill, a man’s SMV is effectively 0. It doesn’t matter how many women are attracted to you or how hot they are, if you can’t guide them all the way home then the attraction is for naught. This is the position of a really shitty salesman, who fails to get the sale even when he has customers who want to buy his product for a price he would accept. It recalls Mystery’s quote – “if you cannot attract a woman, you are by definition sterile,” except your problem is not attraction, it’s literally getting the bang.

This is, sadly, the lot of today’s nice-guy beta. He may – and probably does, owing to his educated and genteel upbringing – possess the discipline, intelligence and athletic fitness to be a formidable actor in his cohort’s sexual pool. However, he’s plagued by entrenched anti-game, by insufferable traits like false modesty, aseptic serenity, sexual anxiety and deference to female emotional ejaculation, and a silly sense of ersatz romance that tells him fatalistic coincidence will bring him the love of his life (obviously he’s not listening to Axiom #1). Thus, even when a pretty girl thinks “this guy is interesting and kind of cute, I think I like this guy,” by the time he tries to get her into his bedroom, she’s so frazzled and put off by his incongruent stuttery behavior that her tingle is all gone.

Even more sadly, oftentimes this Poindexter is guilty of only one or two seemingly-minor behavioral faults. A lot of otherwise-adequate guys are sucking in seduction and don’t even know it, disappointing both themselves and the girls – all for a couple of quirks that can be easily fixed.

So don’t let anyone tell you that learning and practicing seductive skills is stupid or “beta” or whatever. This is an area where the anti-gamers and the “inner game” folks are just out to lunch. They tell guys who can’t close the deal to just “be confident” or some other useless aphorism, ignoring the fact that there is a reliable order of operations for taking an attracted woman to bed. If you mess up the order, or leave out certain steps, you will fail almost every time, unless you are with an atypically forgiving, forward or sex-positive woman who is willing to push things along herself.

To make an analogy, imagine firing your gun before you load it. You will never once hit a target if there’s not a bullet in the chamber. Or putting your shoes on before your socks. You’d never advise a young athlete to “just park the car” without training him in parallel parking, or a cook to just throw the ingredients together. It’s ludicrous, in fact. Yet we send men out into the world in pursuit of one of life’s great pleasures for both genders with little more than a platitudinal “well it’ll just happen, one thing leads to another.”

The haters tend to view seduction as a predatory activity, as “fast-talking” a woman into the sack. I find this concept to be close to ridiculous, not to mention patronizing to female sexuality and agency. A girl who’s interested in you, who is spending time with you and responding to your personality, wants to have sex with you – and wants YOU to take the lead and make it happen. They want it as bad as you do, and will judge you harshly if you can’t take them there. (Don’t believe me? Go to a message board where frustrated women talk about guys they dated who couldn’t get the signal and proceed to sexual ravishment. Or just read this post and this one. Women see a lack of seductive success to be a rejection of them, or a failure of the man’s virility or both.)

OK, sidebar over.

Another side note: I can say from personal experience and friends’ testimony that when you jump into the game like this, it’s easy to get impatient and frustrated when your seductive efforts fail. Just as with overcoming field rejection, you can really hamstring yourself if you allow your emotions to get the better of you, and you kick the girl out, or delete her from your phone, or stop responding to her texts or whatever. Plenty of guys getting into the game don’t want to feel like beta orbiters or chumps, and want to dictate the terms of the encounter after being dictated to for so long, and so they are tempted to harshly reject a girl and cut her out of his life when they can tell they’re not going to get what they want.

But you aren’t always getting strung along, sometimes the girl is attracted but has some kind of hangup or another guy she’s consumed with or something else bugging her that has nothing to do with you. Sometimes the move is to just stop any initiating efforts, and see if she comes back to you. You need to accept you’ll have some failures, but you also need to consider that some of your leads who won’t sleep with you now will get the itch later, and you leave that door open when you don’t express an overt, angry rejection.

You really never know when you’re going to get that phone call or text message saying “what are you up to tonight?” or “hey I’m in your neighborhood, let’s meet up” or more simply “want to come over?” Don’t plan on it, but don’t plan against it – it costs you nothing to let go gently and leave her that option.

Attracting more attractive women is somewhat about tightening your game, but ultimately centers around building real value. Making more money, gaining power and influence (or fame), brandishing prestige and dominance, moving in more prominent social circles, and living a lifestyle that is genuinely interesting and alluring.

Unfortunately it’s also the area that’s hardest to improve. Not for no reason does Danger & Play advise dedicating your 20′s to maximizing your cognitive ability and doing the core work for your career and lifestyle, so you can use some game to skim your sexual successes off the top of your lifestyle, instead of trying to use game (social behavior) to paper over the holes in the rest of your attraction palette.

Myself and a few other readers have made the independent realization that to consistently get really high-value women (8/9/10′s), you need to have some real value. Real value means money, power, fame or exceptional good looks. A successful middle-class guy with tight game is not going to be bagging women who have access to music moguls or high-level politicians. Take a look next time you’re out on the town; are desk jockeys who clean up well going home with the hottest girls in the place? Sure, Mystery parlayed a magician act into top-flight nightclub PUA. But he’s an exceptional pickup artist. Neil Strauss followed in his successful footsteps, but was a Rolling Stone reporter who had interviewed rock and roll stars.

A guy who is basically above average but lacks those exceptional traits needs to decide how much he really wants to break through that ceiling and go for elite status in something. And if you’re doing it for the chicks, you probably won’t get there. People who become rich and powerful are usually motivated by internal drives that go way beyond getting laid. Getting women is a side dish of their success.

RECAP

To conclude this discursive discussion, there are three different goals you can shoot for when you set out to improve your game. Which goal you choose will influence where you put your efforts (including efforts in fields other than your game itself). Always have the goal in mind when you are planning your next self-improvement project.

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Game As Part Of Your Attraction Palette

Yesterday’s post on the axioms of game-oriented thinking brought out some good discussion, and while I don’t want to start a debate that’s destined to fail, I think it’s prudent to discuss what game is and isn’t so that readers know what I’m getting at when I talk about the assumptions that underlie any game-based strategy.

As a shorthand, talking about a guy’s “game” can refer to his overall success with women – the quality of woman he’s attracting and how frequently he has women in his life. But for the most part, when we talk about “game” we’re talking about social behavior: how you interact with people (especially women), what that communicates about you, how it influences others’ mental states, and how it moves your goals forward (or doesn’t). In short, it’s your personality + action patterns in the social sphere.

To recap from yesterday’s post:

Axiom #1 says that a man can change his sexual market value.

Axiom #3 says that changing behavior can change a man’s sexual market value.

#1 is about agency. #3 is about game.

Game isn’t the only lever of attraction you can pull. You can trigger or modulate attraction based on a bunch of factors, including:

  • Physical constitution (height, build, facial structure, symmetry)
  • Fitness (however it’s built, a body in shape looks better and gives off better hormonal signals)
  • Earning power and access to resources
  • Social status (influence and power, plus how cool your job is)
  • Displayed ability to dominate other men (fitness) or to attract women (preselection)
  • Social ability with women, i.e. game (opening, generating interest, avoiding fitness tests, building personal connection, creating intrigue and plausible deniability, escalating effectively)

How do these things add up? It’s situational and hard to say. But boosting any of these will boost your attraction among most women.

Roissy posited a good rule of thumb that game is worth 2 points on the 10-point scale (that I don’t use, but who am I to disagree with the best). Roissy also dubbed a man who has all the other things but whose behaviors with women really suck a “paper alpha,” a guy whose status earns him an interview with top-quality girls but who lacks the social ability to do it live.

IT ALL FITS TOGETHER

Plans to up a man’s game almost always involve addressing other areas at the same time. As an example, when Neil Strauss was training as Mystery’s protege, he also took up surfing, got Lasik eye surgery and shaved his head. Roosh’s blog and his book “Bang” advocate that men should read a lot of books and become intellectual versatile so as to have interesting things to talk about to fascinate women. (It works, btw.)

Just as an individual painting gravitates towards pastels or primary colors or whatnot, eventually all of your attraction threads start to run together thematically, because of congruence – your dress code and your social behavior and your occupational status will all have to roughly match each other or you will confuse the people you are with. You can exploit some discrepancies with contrast game, but rolling up in an American Eagle tshirt and rack jeans claiming you’re a rising executive won’t make people think you’re so alpha you don’t have to care about appearances – it will just make people think you’re a poser or the COO of your friend’s trucking business.

OTHER NOTES

It’s interesting to note that a lot of the LTR/married game promulgated by Athol Kay and others is not really about game as much as it’s about creating an environment conducive to the orderly household and regular sex life that should be the standards by which any marriage is judged. That means articulating boundaries and roles, staying fit, holding a job and advancing in it, keeping the house maintained, and parenting adequately. Athol himself refocused his blog recently on “structural factors” instead of sexy move advice, saying that in a married context, most attraction will be structural in origin (once you’ve eliminated low-status behavior like failing fitness tests).

Generally speaking, you’ll be limited by your weakest element. As women scan for reasons to eliminate you, the quality of woman you can get will hinge on getting her to look past your lowest-value dimension, and you can only compensate for a weak link so much. If you’re out of shape or your game sucks, that’s not hard to fix, but if you want to double your income, you have a much tougher task ahead of you. The good news is that middle-class employment+fitness+game can get you regular access to the “7″ category and that meets a lot of guys’ needs.

If you are constrained by your weakest link, what about those people you know who have shitty game but get quality girls because they are really good-looking, or super tall (height works for sure), or have big money? Well, the generalization has limits – you can be so superlative in one area that some of the other stuff really doesn’t matter.

And don’t forget that lots of women find some particular thing about guys irresistible. Like she’s just really got it bad for tall guys, or guys with stubble, or she’s always wanted to date a firefigher, or her dad was a cop, etc. Sometimes one trait hits a hindbrain nerve that won’t be reasoned with. Men have exactly this too – with some women, a man can find himself irrevocably captivated by her boobs or her hair or the tone of her voice. I wouldn’t use that as a strategy though. Emphasize your top strengths, cover all your bases as best you can and don’t neglect your game, and you can be confident you’re pulling what you “should” get in the marketplace.

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The Underlying Axioms Of Game

A few weeks back Professor Ashur was nice enough to link to my post about stone soup as a metaphor for game or any other behavior modification exercise.

Societies change, and therefore Game must change. This leads to an interesting return to our Stone Soup storyline. Is it necessary to have a stone to use the Stone Soup method? Or is the stone a mere prop for a person who is a master at motivating others. Consider that the stone worked because it was a new tactic. If half a dozen SSAs (Stone Soup Artists) in the same village started using that process to get a free meal from time to time, the efficacy of the method will diminish. Eventually, a Neil Strauss equivalent will write a book called The Soup, chronicling his road from hunger to satiation. Meanwhile, a diligent curator of human behavior from the capitol will write STONE, and then eventually DAY STONE, along with additional literature on making stone soup in Columbia or Poland. Many will hate him for his success, even as they fail to understand that his partners in soup-making do so willingly, even happily.

The excellent discussion got me thinking about the mental framework in which game operates. Much discussed has been rules of game, such as heed women’s actions and not their words; don’t take dating advice from women; don’t buy women drinks, and no dinner dates early on; approach quickly and often; always be escalating; withhold commitment except for very deserving women; and so on. There are explanations and justifications for the rules, which range from pure empiricism (what works and what doesn’t) to biblical and biological explications.

But the rules aren’t the core level of structure to game. When you talk about any system of knowledge or a strategy or process for accomplishing something, there are subtextual assumptions in the framework that can get lost in the discussion but are important to recognize as the movement progresses. Think about, say, geometry or ontological mathematics, which has postulates and axioms that are taken for granted in general use. While those same postulates are the subject of endless and intense debate among philosophical mathematicians, your basic contractor or surveyor or football coach just needs to be able to apply the basic rules to his field. Likewise, a good number of guys who want to improve their lot with women are not going to get into the deeply-fleshed discussions we have in the Manosphere. They want practical discourse that will benefit them in the field. But let’s not lose sight of what drives the discourse in the first place.

CHANGE IS POSSIBLE

The – THE - key subtextual assumption of game is that a man can take action to change his results in the sexual arena. It doesn’t have to be romantic Roulette. You don’t have to pray for a soulmate. YOU can affect WHOM you attract, WHOM you engage with romantically, WHAT sort of relationships you enter into and HOW your partners treat you. In other words, by acting differently we will get different results.

We get into so much debate about HOW we change our results that we lose sight of the fact that compared to society at large, positing that we CAN change our outcomes is a radical proposition. It becomes clear how radical it is when we try to expose a new, plugged-in guy to the world of game: “no way, that totally doesn’t work on women.” “A girl either likes you or she doesn’t.” Challenging his delusion only makes it stronger.

This sort of learned helplessness is so anathema to the self-reliant gumption that men are supposed to be exhibiting. To judge from reading single-girl blogs and women’s magazines (not to mention surveying our own dating lives), women have made a first-class art form out of constructing victim narratives casting themselves as flat actors without agency, buffeted by the people and events around them.

Meanwhile, men seem to just throw up their hands, and sigh “I don’t know man, women are fickle and capricious. You just gotta deal with it.”

SKILL IN THE VENUSIAN ARTS IS WORTH IT

A secondary assumption, one that is as much if not more often opposed by critics, is that game is worthwhile and adds value to a man’s life. Raise your hand if you’ve ever read something like this on a game forum or blog comment section: “I can’t believe what a bunch of losers you guys are, don’t you know there’s more to life than getting chicks?” It’s easy for a woman (who never has to wonder how she’s going to get her next spurt of attention from the opposite sex) or male naturals (who have never been thirsty in the desert) tell guys trying to get better with women that what they don’t have isn’t really important.

But we who have been on both sides know that the journey and the destination are worth it – for the adventure, for the increased fitness and self-confidence, for the feeling of power and influence, for the sexual satisfaction, for the formation of relationships on our terms, meeting our emotional needs instead of as scaffolds of sexual blackmail.

A variant of the “game isn’t worth it” chorus is the finger-wagging warning from busybodies that game makes you miserable, directed at men who have through their expanded experiences grown cynical and disappointed with the large swaths of low-quality offerings in the sexual marketplace. Let’s put aside the fact that a lot of this criticism is projection from women whose own casual-sex experiences were disastrous (and also put aside that game can be productively practiced without entailing a casual-sex lifestyle). The truth is that game didn’t make these guys cynical, in fact it’s just the opposite; realizing that women respond to game (polished and practiced) ahead of responding to real value in a man, seeing the craven social tricks you can pull to make people like you and trust you that have nothing to do with your actual personality or character, is what induces the nihilistic ennui. Game only gave them the tools to discover the emptiness of the mine. Of course, game can also be the tool that gives you a way out without becoming an ascetic. Because going back to sexual irrelevancy is hardly a solution.

STUDY UP

A third assumption is that the changes in behavior that change the results we get in the SMP can be practiced and learned. One doesn’t have to rely on a spiritual change, or a shift in monetary or power value, to effect change in his luck with women. Thousands of men have honed the learning and practice process before him, and a handful have  inscribed their methods in print. They know how to teach and coach the game. Trust them. Danger & Play has a great post on jumping in. Trust him.

REDUCTIONISM AND SKEPTICISM

Commentators who lose sight (or never knew) the axioms can criticize game as a sort of shapeshifting concept, since rote definitions of game change depending on who you’re talking to and the explanations for social data (i.e. who’s attracted to whom) changes with environment and the people involved.  They seem to be desperate to get a hard and fast definition so they can immediately begin “debunking” it, or to discredit it as a field of empirical study and claim they are just repackaging someone else’s self-help material.

A chunk of commenters, writers and critics say that game is simply rediscovering “traditional masculinity.” This is especially common among those who have an irrationally optimistic view of humans and try to deny what we see in the field with our own eyes, for example denying that girls dig jerks, or saying that you don’t need game, you just have to be confident. It’s also popular among those who don’t want to really grok that there is a large casual-sex environment out there. Confusingly, I see a lot of this from Christian writers, whose faith explicitly and intrinsically acknowledges mankind’s proclivity for wickedness.

But game is different than a paeon to masculinity. To start with, “traditional masculinity” is an archetype, a big-picture concept, and a cartoonish one at that – not a code or manual of male behavior (except in the self-parody “man law/bro code” meme), and certainly not synonymous with a set of behaviors that are effective in attracting women.

Secondly, the normal connotations of “masculinity” are simply outside the realm of dealing with women. Your traditionally-masculine father or grandfather might very well have little constructive advice for you when it comes to women –  he came of age in an era of different roles and expectations, his constitutional commitment to said tradition itself being a barrier to his understanding the brave new sexual world we have wrought. The structures of his day, in which he was expected to pursue women in his “league,” and they were expected to say yes lest they fade into spinsterhood, doesn’t exist today, which requires a order of magnitude more male effort to actualize his romantic desires. Teaching you to fish and hunt and go to work on time is different than teaching you to approach, converse with, attract and date women. Imitating the man’s behavior thinking the interested women will just appear may do little more than get you a reputation as an obtuse relic.

Conversely, no one would ever call the dandy (emo) a masculine frame, but the dandy act has been effective with women for centuries.

I suppose to the degree that “traditional masculinity” contained an element of presumptive chauvinism, it could be likened to modern game which seeks to back off on female pedestalization. But the fact we’re splitting these hairs shows the weakness of the reasoning.

You might also say that “game empowers males.” But that’s too shallow an analysis. Game IS male empowerment, integrally. Ipso facto, game has as a core principle of itself that men can and should become empowered – see axioms #1 and #2. That men DO become empowered is a not a cause-and-effect outcome of practicing game, it’s simply the seed of of game’s axioms.

THE AXIOMS AS META-GAME

These axioms provide an existential value to the concept and practice of game, without which the concept and practice would be a dinner-party discussion between the dessert and the cheese plate (and in fact would be a uniquely non-threatening discourse).

Going back to Ashur’s post, my point here is that while the outer shell, the tactics and schemae, of game will change (just as girls get wise to certain overdone shticks as they got wise to what’s your sign and can I buy you a drink, and other routines and personas just fade into cultural irrelevance and anachronism), the basic postulates will always be there and need to be re-emphasized with every tactical refresh. And internalizing those postulates is what makes a man able to “roll his own game” – he has the raw materials to construct new skills as his environment and the social landscape change.

Descartes wondered if he actually existed, and eventually developed a heuristic that defined existence as a lucid dream – the fact that he could think proved his existence, “cogito ergo sum.”

We men who are thinking about game go a step further and wonder if we can actually affect the micro-world we’re living in. The answer is yes. We’re already doing it. Never lose sight of the core axioms; you can always go back to the basics.

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Decoupling Intimacy and Commitment

Infantry, the star of my last post for his comments on “beta hate,” left a comment there about the risk of habituating into an intimacy-averse mindset:

Something I’d like to see you talk about it is the way that a long term dedication to game, abundance mentality and ‘not chasing’ can lead to intimacy avoidance. Back in my blue pill days I always used to wonder about guys with ‘commitment issues’ and why they would ever want to cut away from getting close to a girl. Now I know why.

If you get close to a girl and feel that you don’t have the ‘upper hand’ in your relationship, you reflexively pull back and try to cut ties to avoid oneitis. The girl must think ‘he really likes me, so why did he disappear?’.

It’s one of those long term issues that I’ve become aware of recently and its only really a problem if you got into game to eventually attract a woman for a long term partnership (like me). When you’ve spent so long training yourself to cut away, how can you really get close to someone?

I’m not here to blow smoke up anybody’s ass, so I’ll be honest – this is an occupational hazard of getting into the game.

You do need to look at this as a complete tradeoff – in betaland, you have a desire for emotional comfort and intimacy and an almost uncontrollable urge to seek it out, yet exactly because of those factors you cannot get it and you go uncomforted by the woman’s touch. In alphaland, you’ve conditioned yourself to suppress those desires and urges, but you are in a position to attract women to meet your needs.

This is not a doomsday scenario, as plenty of guys get on the game train and hop back off when they’ve attracted a woman worth keeping and built enough skill to be confident they can keep her. (Regular commenter Mike C is one of them, who left the operational scene very quickly when he decided the woman he was with was of high quality and worth his investment.)

If you’re paying attention, your next question is likely to be, but why? Why is their a dichotomous split between no emotion (or faking emotion) and going overboard and scaring the gals away?

The thoughts here give prose to a number of concepts I’ve been formulating as I’ve taken a deep analytical look at today’s sexual marketplace and in particular its sexually detached hookup subculture. I have detailed thoughts on the female side of the predicament, but in keeping with Infantry’s concern I’m going to stick to the guys for the moment.

Commented Wudang got my neurons going with his comment to Infantry:

this post by Xsplat for good thinking on intimacy and closeness. Men need to learn to feel strongly without crumbling.”

Xsplat’s post is a fantastic riff on exactly what it says it is – that you don’t have to deny your intimate side and be Mr. Robot to be an effective, sexual man.

A huge part of seduction is about intimacy. All of us crave it. For most people it is a peak experience. But for you it doesn’t have to be. It can be your modus operandi.

Forget about being aloof. Intimacy is women’s kryptonite. You can make them weak in the knees with a look.

I’d have to work to remember how many girls I’ve moved in on the first date. How many I connected with from the get go as if we’d been long time lovers. How easy it’s been to just connect. I’ve never tried to be aloof. I’m a passionate man. This personal style has never been a hindrance – it has been my greatest strength.

DON’T COUNT ON INTIMACY AS A HARBINGER OF COMMITMENT, BUT RATHER AS A NORMAL MALE NEED

Xsplat’s post title – “intimacy without commitment” – brings up an interesting point. For the last generation, women have counseled one another as to how to distinguish guys who want sex vs guys who want sex and other things. They’ve always broken this down on the basis of intimacy – does he stick around after sex, eats meals, do you meet his parents, does he talk about his feelings, etc.

But lately, women have been flummoxed as these rules seem to be breaking down. “I don’t get it, we sleep together, eat together, we hang out with his friends, but he says I’m not his girlfriend. He doesn’t talk about planning the future. But he does everything I’d expect a boyfriend to do. Is he just in it for the sex? Is this a ruse? WTF?”

What’s really going on, laid bare, is that the man enjoys intimacy, and – in what is the really distinctive characteristic of today’s sexual marketplace – he doesn’t feel the need to put some amorphous concept of “commitment” underneath it.

(Another factor here is that women have raised the costs and expectations of a “relationship” to very high levels, such that men are wary of putting the “relationship” label on things so as to avoid the subtextual obligations. Thus men may steer towards “friends with benefits” arrangements that, far from being booty calls, are relationships in everything but name. A tertiary factor is that men have noticed women’s ability to get out of relationships with almost zero cost to themselves, and are not eager to sign up for an ontological designation that introduces such an asymmetry.)

Underlying this confusion on the part of women is that women have been taught that men DON’T have active emotional centers and DON’T desire intimacy and possibly that emotional investment is just a con that men pull to secure sexual access. So this male behavior makes no sense, because they have a bogus model.

I see this “indefinite term relationship” as an outcome of a few combined factors, the most prominent being Boomerism and the accelerating sequelae of the sexual revolution.

In short, first we decoupled sex from commitment, which resulted in mainstream effects like one-night stands and booty calls and excesses like “free love” communities. Now we’re decoupling intimacy from “commitment,” reflected in endless engagements and fully-ornamented no-term relationships. And a lot of men are finding that’s a pretty good deal.

Now to the core of the discussion.

GEN Y WAS DEPRIVED OF THE TOOLS FOR SOUND EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION

Part of the reason for this decoupling is that Millenial men were raised by Boomer parents who sought to act more as friends than as parental figures, so Millenials could never emotionally mature and become masters of a healthy emotional system, because they were carrying the emotional immaturity of their parents. Combine that with the beta-ization of Gen Y boys (partially attributable to aggressive feminism, but also to a general trend of a “kinder and gentler” society) and you find a generation of young men who have been denied the means to meet their basic emotional and bonding needs.

This is one large reason we see so much needy behavior*. Parents probably thought they were teaching their kids to be emotionally open, but they really just washed them in an orgasm of affect of which they couldn’t make any sense. Boys and men were isolated from the male authority ladder they require to develop from boys to teens to men, and denied the dignity of their own masculinity, inducing further shame and self-doubt. So they seek emotional context and comfort where it appears to present itself, which to them is women, who are presented in popular culture as the font of goodness and acceptance. But they’re like a hungry man exposed to a storehouse of food, unable to eat in any fashion other than gorging.

(*By the same token, I find today’s young women unable to relate to men of normal emotional range, which they interpret as insecurity and impending neediness – an emotional trap for their own immature affective systems that they are desperate to avoid. This explains their preferential and often exclusive attraction to men who overtly display a lack of the emotional vocabulary that is the mark of the unforigveable beta – in other words, the guys act like jerks, and the women take it as a signal of emotional security, while the rest of the guys are pre-emptively rejected or go completely unnoticed under the assumption they are incipient emotional vampires. This will be discussed at length in a future post.)

IF YOU’RE SEXY YOU’RE ALLOWED TO BE EMOTIONAL

And of course, because we live in a tingle-first society, the only way for a man to get this intimacy that is his fundamental need is to be sexually attractive and to be under emotional control. There IS no emotional intimacy available to a man today unless he is able to sexually attract a woman. He can’t hope to parlay paper-alpha status and beta traits into an audition period in which her respect and attraction can grow. He’s gotta have it up front, or he’ll get the “well it was nice meeting you” and the posthumous “there just wasn’t any spark” speech she gives to her friends. As Athol Kay put it:

There’s probably not a single man reading this blog who hasn’t had his heart ripped out by a woman rejecting him for his lack of Game at some point in his life. Many of the male readers of this blog are in sexless marriages too. So learning Game is pure and simple a requirement for the average guy dealing with women. We’re learning it to simply be able to have a relationship with women.

Despite women’s plaintive cries for men who will resonate emotionally with them, men have been consistently punished for seeking to meet their emotional needs as a primary mechanism of relating to women. I’m not going to get into a moral judgment, both sides are understandable. But clever men notice the negative outcomes and veer in the emotionally stunted direction intentionally, which crystallizes into a paradox where they can acquire the furiously sought emotional contact they are no longer in a condition to receive. Which loops us back to the problem that Infantry and Wudang speak of at the top of this post.

In conclusion: long-term commitment and its obligations are decoupling from sex, intimacy and the other benefits of relationships, due to a host of reasons relating to poor emotional rearing, a broken and disrespected “commitment” system, and a sexually atomized society. Game is a partial solution to the male problem of getting sexual attention which is a prerequisite for acquiring emotional comfort and relationship benefits, but is not a solution IF one becomes emotionally repressed and confined in the process. For some men that’s not a big deal; for most men I wager it is, because for them it’s about a lot more than rubbing until you get off – it’s about contact and closeness, and being desired and respected and allowed to be vulnerable.

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