Gaming the Group

There’s a joke about parenting that I like to share with parents I know, to let them know I have an appreciation for the challenges of their task.

Who’s harder to parent, sons or daughters?

Well, with a son you only have to worry about one penis. With a daughter you have to worry about all of them!

A pair of discussions about the risk-reward factors of a woman who eschews female friendship led me to consider a variation of that quip that invokes the wisdom of preselection and intrasexual competition.

Who has a bigger challenge in dating, men or women?

Well, if you’re a woman, you only have to turn one guy on; if you’re a guy you have to make all her friends tingle, too.

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23 Comments

Filed under beta guide, dating and field game, girl guide, original research

23 responses to “Gaming the Group

  1. I’ve never seen this dynamic because I’ve never had a group of female friends. I guess I’m like a female version of the lone wolf sigma.

    Does the guy really have to make all of her female friends tingle? That is just weird. Did your ex’s friends not like you? Were you being undermined by a bunch of “normal” girls for being too non-mainstream? I vaguely recall you writing something to that effect.

    As an aside, do you have a group of male friends? Do most people see you as a “normal” and “average Joe” kind of guy?

  2. just visiting

    Why would she put up with it? Isn’t it her job to smack that down? You’re dating her, not her friends.

  3. 108spirits

    I take it none of you two has ever tried to date a chick, right?

    A chick dating a guy that her chicka friend doesn’t approve of risks breaking up the friendship with said chicka. Usually the friendship wins over the budding dating relationship.

    Incidentally I was just reading a HUS comment where some chick gives this advice to the HUS beta readers:

    “The difficult part is that the wallflowers often surrounded by their girlfriends. My suggestion would be to go over to one of the girl groups and just try to get the group to be on your side. Don’t hit on anybody or anything, just make small-talk for a bit and establish yourself as a generally cool guy. And then if you want to, maybe go back and try to get a phone number from one of the girls later in the night.”

    lol, that’s called selecting specifically for playas. She makes that sound so easy. How many guys have the balls and skills to approach and engage a whole group of chicks smoothly? Plus not even smooth operators are going going to risk their necks for some plain wallflower, let alone your average nervous betas. If you’re risking big, you want to win big too.

    To be honest though, I do use this criterion to judge a girl for her relationship-worthiness:

    “Why would she put up with it? Isn’t it her job to smack that down? You’re dating her, not her friends.”

    You are very correct. If a girl isn’t mature enough to engage me on her own without her friends butting in, she isn’t mature enough for me to take her seriously in a relationship. The problem is, girls like that hardly exist, and I don’t like being a monk…

    The good thing (for a bloke) is, with those chicks who depend on their friends’ opinions, once you dump them, you have the easy pickings of their friends.

  4. Hope,

    I figured that would be your reaction, you and your husband sound like you have a very health sense of social independence.

    “Were you being undermined by a bunch of “normal” girls for being too non-mainstream?”

    Without a doubt. They all imagined they’d be marrying lawyers and businessmen like their dads were, one of their own dating (happily, for most of the time) a STEM guy was anathema. It was a classic illustration of the contempt most pedestrian people have for the people that make our technocratic society go.

    just visiting,

    “Why would she put up with it? Isn’t it her job to smack that down? You’re dating her, not her friends.”

    You’re halfway there. I told her it was her job to tell them it was not their place to comment on it, but she constantly dithered on it and tried to find ways to cajole me into buffing my image with them (like making a big show of picking up the check). I predictably told her to pound sand, or me, and after a few gorounds of this, I had to conclude one or both of the following:

    -She was so easily influenced by friends and loath to stand up to them that it would be a friction point for the rest of our lives
    -She didn’t smack it down because she ultimately agreed with it; I had evidence for this in that she tried to shit-test me several times by invoking “my friends think…” and I’d tell her I didn’t care, and she’d come back with “but I think that too.”

    It blew my mind that she thought she couldn’t address issues directly with me, and thought that invoking the opinions of women I’m not in a relationship with was going to have more power than her simply telling me what was bothering her.

    But I wonder how much of this, across the board, is malicious and how much is just bowing to peer pressure without really understanding what’s going on. Read the links to HUS I put in the post…”Olive” (she can be in my martini any day) almost dumped her bf due to the passive-aggressive antics of her friends, because she had been indoctrinated into a “sisterhood” mindset that she rejected when she stopped to consider its implications (friends trying to break her happy relationship up).

  5. just visiting

    Sounds like more women need to get a backbone. I’m aware that it happens, I’ve had to assert my self when my friends have gotten like that. I just wasn’t aware that so many women go along with it with what their friends think.

  6. Lol nice!

    I’m sure sure if I vet the drift o this,but is this post made to be an opener or routine?

    If it’s not,I can definitely see me using something like this in a 2 or 3 set as opener.

  7. SayWhaat

    It blew my mind that she thought she couldn’t address issues directly with me, and thought that invoking the opinions of women I’m not in a relationship with was going to have more power than her simply telling me what was bothering her.

    Or it could have been along the lines of, “see, other people think this too, which means I’m not crazy for believing this as well. This is normal, why aren’t you doing it?”

  8. Bb

    “A chick dating a guy that her chicka friend doesn’t approve of risks breaking up the friendship with said chicka. Usually the friendship wins over the budding dating relationship.”

    I’ve seen this go the other way. I’ve had girlfriends disappear from my life, their social circles and families because they’re with the classic bad boy. It’s usually a bad sign in those instances.

    I twice dated guys that my friends were lukewarm about (not because they were bad boys, though). But I didn’t disappear and kept interacting with our social sets, and that’s the key difference.

  9. socialkenny,

    That’s interesting, I’ve never thought to deploy either line in a pickup situation. The first line makes a good joke to share with parents, it’s ever so crass but contains a hard truth.

    As far as the second issue, women who suffer from this gotta-impress-my-friends condition don’t see it as a negative and think it’s a good thing a guy should game her friends too. She has a big need for social proof in both directions and has a preselection trigger (she’s more attracted to a guy her friends are attracted to).

    Whereas I think it’s a good way for a woman to waste the effort and patience of a guy who wants to be with her but isn’t interested in singing and dancing for her entourage.

    This builds on my experience with young urban women that a lot of them (not all, but enough to make it common) don’t want to “commit” to a guy with the self-sacrifice that entails as much as they want an accessory to their life. One way of viewing this is Dalrock’s contention that women want men to commit but don’t want to commit themselves; another way is Susan Walsh’s interpretation that despite all the hand-wringing about “guys who don’t want relationships,” young women have been pumped full of propaganda about “living it up” and are hesitant to “commit” unless a guy is “the whole package” (only committing when you get everything you want isn’t really a commitment at all).

    Either way, this group of women demand that a guy fit completely into her life as it is, impress her friends, schmooze her family, etc, so that there’s no uncomfortable friction between him and other things in her life such that she has to make a positive decision in favor of one or the other. A guy who comes up second in too many of those decisions is not a guy who’s going to stick around.

    Now there are a lot of women who aren’t like this, thankfully, and I’ve become adept at screening for it.

    A quality woman who surrounds herself with low-quality pals compromises her own quality. In fairness to women, it’s easy to fall into this when you’re young and you don’t have a good read on other people’s character and don’t understand the long-term consequences of this behavior, but as you age you have to get disciplined about the company you keep, because misplaced loyalty to people who add no value to your life will cost you opportunities for relationships of all types with people who do add value.

    On the flip side, I advise that men be very judicious about making life changes on behalf of their woman, but that’s motivated by the fact that making a woman the focus of your life is a great way to make her completely not attracted to you.

    There’s two sides to this coin; as Bb mentions, it’s not healthy for a woman to just drop out of her own social life because she’s with a guy. That’s not what I’m advocating. I’m just saying (ahh see what I did there?) she shouldn’t outsource her relationship decision-making to the herd.

  10. Or it could have been along the lines of, “see, other people think this too, which means I’m not crazy for believing this as well. This is normal, why aren’t you doing it?”

    Oh this was definitely there and she admitted it at least once. The problems were:
    -Men are not women, so our concepts of “normal” are different
    -Men are not nearly as susceptible to social proof as women
    -I had clearly articulated to her that I was especially impervious to peer pressure and didn’t care what people thought
    -The stuff she was asking me to do (approval-seeking behavior) reeked of shit-testing

    Don’t get me wrong; early on I made a serious (and successful) effort to court her social group. As time went on it became clear they didn’t really care for me as a person, so I stopped caring about impressing them. Honestly, the breakdown started with them – she started feeding me intelligence that they were complaining I wasn’t flashing enough cash, they had pejoratively called me and my friends “nerds” behind our backs, etc. I usually replied “and you’re comfortable with your friends trying to undermine your relationship?” I sometimes responded by simply asking, “and they have boyfriends who do all this stuff they want me to be doing, right?” (all of them were perpetually single).

    There’s an old proverb that you don’t just marry someone, you marry their family; these days, you date someone’s friends as much as you date her.

  11. I’ve actually been in the opposite situation (sort of). A couple of years ago, a new guy at work started sending me flirty texts, and I told my friends about it. They were keen to encourage a workplace romance for me and shot down all my objections. The only one relevant to this discussion was my perception that “He wouldn’t fit well into our group.” Their answer? “Bring him over and we’ll make him fit.”

  12. Badger, I don’t want to pry too much, but was this girl actually in love with you, or just with the idea of having a boyfriend and more status as a result? She must have been of some quality or you wouldn’t have been in a LTR with her, but if she let her friends undermine you like that, she probably felt a bit the same way. Then again, maybe she was just bowing to pressure.

    Over the years I’ve had various people try to undermine my relationships, including other guys. I always brushed them off, even when I knew they were right (an ex got drunk and acted like crazy in public, and I defended him). In my husband’s case, even a childhood friend of his tried to “team up” with me to undermine him as a show of fun and sport or whatever. I refused. I imagine this was a surprise to him, otherwise he wouldn’t have asked.

    What is with this societal level, systemic entitlement that people find it appropriate and even their right to meddle with couples’ cohesion and bond with each other?

  13. Bb

    “There’s two sides to this coin; as Bb mentions, it’s not healthy for a woman to just drop out of her own social life because she’s with a guy. That’s not what I’m advocating. I’m just saying (ahh see what I did there?) she shouldn’t outsource her relationship decision-making to the herd.”

    I completely agree, and I know you weren’t advocating the former. I will say this: if a woman really wants a man, nothing much can stop her. If she pulls out excuses, friends, feelings, etc, then she’s feeling unsure for some reason. The reason is not the the things she’s pulling out. The reason is hers alone to deal with, move beyond, and work through with her partner, if she so desires.

  14. SayWhaat

    they had pejoratively called me and my friends “nerds” behind our backs, etc.

    TIL “nerd” is not a compliment. :P

  15. “TIL “nerd” is not a compliment. :P

    Not to these girls. Nerd is still a bit pejorative across the board; “geek” has become a bit more of a term of endearment, esp with the tech’d out hipster cohort.

  16. Bb

    “(only committing when you get everything you want isn’t really a commitment at all).”

    Can you elaborate on this, Badger?

  17. Lavazza

    Or it could have been along the lines of, “see, other people think this too, which means I’m not crazy for believing this as well. This is normal, why aren’t you doing it?”

    For some reason women want everything they want to be some kind of unspoken rule rather than a favour that they must acknowledge. A man would be stupid to accept that, but thankfully for women a lot of men are stupid in that sense. Unwarranted trust does not go unpunished.

  18. SayWhaat

    Nerd is still a bit pejorative across the board; “geek” has become a bit more of a term of endearment, esp with the tech’d out hipster cohort.

    That’s interesting, because I thought “geek” was a more pejorative term. “Nerd” at least implies intelligence.

  19. P Ray

    ““(only committing when you get everything you want isn’t really a commitment at all).”

    Can you elaborate on this, Badger?”

    It definitely ties into that part of the marriage vow,
    “In sickness and in health”
    Because the commitment may wane when a sickness/accident/layoff happens and the ability to earn a stable wage suffers.
    Basically, it was commitment agreed to with the idea that the good times would continue forever (on the man’s side, since divorces as I understand it are mostly initiated by women).

  20. Bb,

    “Can you elaborate on this, Badger?”

    Sure. Under the context of the death of conventional dating rituals, myself and other men chimed in that young women respond quizzically to the idea a man would want to take them on a real date, and often view men who are seeking a relationship as communicating lower value.

    I posited to Susan Walsh that young women in my sphere were highly risk-averse, fragile and short-term-oriented and exhibited fear of commitment (manifesting in alpha-chasing and beta anxiety).

    Susan responded:

    http://www.hookingupsmart.com/2011/10/05/relationshipstrategies/how-to-let-a-man-know-youre-interested/#comment-64247

    “I know it’s common in the manosphere to say that women avoid commitment. I tend to think that isn’t it – they’ve just set the bar very, very high. Too high. They don’t want to go all in until everything on the list has been checked off.”

    To which I said:

    http://www.hookingupsmart.com/2011/10/05/relationshipstrategies/how-to-let-a-man-know-youre-interested/#comment-64363

    “…but avoiding “commitment” until you know it’s guaranteed to be good isn’t commitment at all. Commitment has as a subtext an element of accepting imperfection, that you’re going to stay in when the going gets tough, and that you are making a decision with imperfect information. It’s a logical incongruence to commit to a sure thing. You don’t have to be “committed” to something you’ve engineered to not get tough, which is what these women are looking for (and as we know, is nigh impossible – there’s just no such thing as a sure thing in relationships.)

    I think we’re saying the same thing – young women don’t want to stick their necks out, they want the man to absord all the risk so they can enjoy the profits. Dalrock writes ad nauseum about this; married women complain they are “trapped,” and by trapped, they mean committed.

    The basic trend I’ve noticed in young women in my cohort is they are paralytically afraid of being “boxed in.” Girls who would gladly escalate, even screw, guys in a semi-drunken bar crawl or house party get really skittish when that escalation is contextualized by a one-on-one date. Several dude bloggers have written about this lately – they recommend against dating not because PUAs say it’s for chumps, but because it’s an ineffective way of acquiring female companionship, you’re better off meeting for a quick drink and pushing for a bang. It’s sad, obviously, esp for a guy like me who really values date experiences and doesn’t feel like he should have to schmooze his way into her pants before she’ll let him take her to his favorite dive or go minigolfing (isn’t that a weird reversal of dating logistics?)

    My football coach used to talk about commitment to the team, which meant when we lost games or wanted to puke, we wouldn’t hang it up and go home to sneak beer out of our parents’ refrigerators. It’s easy to get kids to turn out when they anticipate an undefeated season. It’s a lot harder to get them moving when the outlook is cloudy – but the best teams are forged from the lessons of bad seasons, when they had guts and stuck with it. Coaches also learn more from unsuccessful seasons in the W-L column, because when you’re committed, you get a lot more creative when challenges arise.”

  21. Hope,

    I’ve probably said too much already, but I wrote on this earlier:

    https://badgerhut.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/moving-on-and-when-to-do-it/

    There was an inflection point where her demands grew for stereotyped signals of “boyfriend value” – conspicuous spending of money, showboating to her friends, financing her lifestyle, spending lots of time doing what she wanted. This could have been a big shit test, but I viewed it as an audition for the rest of our mutual life and eventually bounced.

    “What is with this societal level, systemic entitlement that people find it appropriate and even their right to meddle with couples’ cohesion and bond with each other?”

    http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2011/10/its-not-her-fault-its-not-her-fault.html

    “Women will more often than not profess to be ‘in the right’ when it comes to arguing with their partners.”

  22. That last line reminds me of something Badger. Just a few days ago I was telling my husband that women (myself included) probably start most of the fights in relationships. I could tell he was like, “Well I agree, but should I agree?” Lol… so I went on and explained that the few times we’ve had fights, I was unhappy with something and provoked it, and his response determined whether it was going to escalate or diffuse.

    Early on, he thought that ignoring my upsetness and being dead silent/calm was going to work, but it just made it worse (though not worse than yelling at me, which I had happen with an ex). A few times later he realized that talking me through it with his characteristic understanding and perceptiveness was the way to go, because silence made me feel like he was indifferent and thus upset me more. I admitted that most times I was the instigator, but if there was something that needed to be worked out, I didn’t want it to fester. We’ve never actually had an outright “argument,” because we’ve learned to talk it out like adults.

    I’m guessing that most women don’t take the time to examine their own thoughts and motivations, and because of their egos, refuse to admit even when they know they’re wrong. Many men do this, too. When both people can behave and tuck their egos behind their tails and talk honestly through something, you cut out 99% of typical couple fights.

    As for the showboating and money stuff, I think because of my culture I tend to be the one who wants to save and not spend. Some of our early fights were me being upset that he wanted to spend so much on what I saw as frivolous things. But we worked through it. If you can’t talk money at all without things getting into fight territory, it’s probably best to part ways.

    We have three bank accounts (two separate, one joint) and a careful negotiation process for dealing with money, and every now and then we still run into trouble (especially post house purchase). Love tangled with money gets messy (he would feel unloved that I didn’t let him buy xyz, and I would feel unloved that he didn’t want to save for a rainy day). We know the drill by now, and we get our rational faces ready for dealing with money matters.

  23. Pingback: Happy Birthday to the Badger Hut, Part 2: Best Posts | The Badger Hut

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