Pressure-Free Fun, Received Boomerism and the Fear of Failure

Susan Walsh posted last week about the frozen margaritas she would make in her younger years, and how they complemented Friday nights with Mr HUS:

“we got in the habit of collapsing after a long work week with a pitcher of frozen margaritas and reggae on the stereo…We’d slurp our drinks and dance, and I always wanted to lead, but Mr. HUS would just stand still with his arms crossed until I stopped misbehaving.”

This is so charming and simple, and for some reason it feels so foreign and strange. I’m telling you, among the educated class in the Millenial generation there is so much damn pressure to be working and learning and growing and – here’s the kicker – being “cool,” that it’s almost bizarre to think a young couple would just drink and dance in their own house and enjoy it.

It’s like a cultural rat race pressing down on my generation. There’s this nonjudgmentalism fetish around the culture, but at the same time there’s so much pressure to not be a fuddy duddy. It even slips down to booze – instead of just drinking, we feel like we need to be drinking fine bourbon or top wine. There’s cultural cachet to watching heady HBO dramas or reading culturally-approved modern pop literature instead of enjoying classics.

Hipsters, of all people, have tried to make valor out of the pedestrian, and it’s not just about their clothes, it’s about their skinny-fit and intentionally-mismatched clothes, their consumption of offbeat culture and music and even their smoking, an intentionally self-destructive behavior that belies their epicurean subculture (it recalls one of Roissy’s later maxims that expendability is a DHV). All the hipsters I’ve met have been pretty nice guys, but on a macro level they are cultural badboys.

Someone at HUS recently mentioned Joan Holloway of Mad Men playing her accordion in an episode. Before the radio, housewives were venerated for their ability to play parlor instruments to entertain the family (creating the market for sheet music that WAS the pre-modern music industry). Today, learning band instruments is another activity of overscheduled kids packing their resumes for college applications.

I notice a lot of poker players in my generation (in a quest for socially-approved expressions of masculinity, with its attendant competitiveness and shit-talking), but also what seems to be a loss of more recreational card games like hearts, cribbage and euchre. My parents love to play cards with us kids and their own parents, it’s just a pastime with no greater meaning. No one laments the loss of time that could have gone into “classier” pursuits. But today card games and board games are seen as geeky and offbeat, a sort of countercultural statement. It’s like mindless fun isn’t OK, you have to put on an expensive wardrobe and buy expensive cocktails and have a soul-crushing night of forced socialization to feel like you’re having socially-approved fun.

I had lunch with a former boss last week, a late Boomer/early Gen X-er with a thoughtful eye towards social trends, and I mentioned what I saw as a pervasive fear of failure among my generation, which I believed was at least partly a fear of letting down our parents – who never let us forget what high hopes they had for us, nor the sense that they were relying on us to carry out and finish the dreams of their youth.

He replied that he had had the exact same discussion several times recently. He added that when he was young, it was understood that young people were going to make mistakes in work and life, that it was part of the growing process – but that today he saw a lot of people defined by their incidental failures with nary a chance to redeem themselves. Which I suppose validates my cohort’s concerns. I shouldn’t have to mention that politics – who know whom – is a big factor in escaping the scarlet letter.

Boomers are alternately lauded and mocked for their idealism, and for the failure of that idealism with divorce, war and economic strife that has followed them in adulthood. What the Boomers passed to my generation was the idealism, but stripped of the knowledge that idealism is messy, that it comes with failure and false starts and with suffering the consequences of your convictions (notice the trend of attachment parenting/helicopter parenting where parents take a direct role in shielding their children from the important lessons that failure and disappointment impart to young people).

Some of my cohortmates have responded to this subtle pressure of expectations with perfectionism, and the eventual neurosis that comes with it – spectacular burnout, depression, bitterness or self-harm.

Some of them, who never even tried to fake the perfectionism in the first place, turn the other way to a sort of primary fatalistic nhilism – a sequence of pornography, promiscuity, junk culture, lack of ambition or a belief that their work can contribute to society, self-medication,  profligacy in pursuit of achievable material comforts against unachievable philosophical ones.

Frost and Ferdinand Bardamu have dubbed the maturing crop of youth “Generation Zero.” Fly Fresh and Young (don’t know what’s with all these F’s) drops all pretense with “Generation Nihilism.”

This modern neurosis, the first-world problem, of being afraid to get your ego bumped around, has to be scrapped to accomplish things. The only way to go from good to great is to destroy your ego and accept failure as a necessary step on the path – otherwise your self-consciousness and self-flattery will hold you back from seeing the dull points that need to be polished. That means giving up the comfort of things being consistently OK.

When I’m out about town and get rejected or blown out of a set, I immediately turn to the next woman and open her. I process the failure and learn from it, but I don’t let it define me except to become part of the knowledge base I use as experience. Same with a screw-up in my career. Did I do that? OK, I wasn’t born with that knowledge, let’s figure out how to do it right next time. In this way, failing actually moves me ahead of where I was before it occurred.

If we’re not ready as a generation to break out of our control-freaking comfort zones, and not as a society to accept some bumps in the road as the price of a building a capable and well-drilled cohort of people to handle the reins for the next quarter-century, then we’ve devolved and are not much better than dogs or horses, emerging from the womb as miniaturized versions of our adult selves – growing quickly into a vapid, animalistic existence driven by little more than our atavistic instincts and the subconscious social-validation layer that sits atop it.


Filed under junk culture, la dolce vita, quarterlife crisis

41 responses to “Pressure-Free Fun, Received Boomerism and the Fear of Failure

  1. johnnymilfquest

    Badger wrote:

    “When I’m out about town and get rejected or blown out of a set, I immediately turn to the next woman and open her. I process the failure and learn from it, but I don’t let it define me except to become part of the knowledge base I use as experience.”


    Its her failure, not yours. She’s missing out on all that good Badger-Lovin’.

  2. The is something else I’ve begun to understand in the recent months. As a man in his early twenties this need for perfection coupled with a nagging guilt for engaging in mindless self.entertainment from time to time nearly destroyed mth

    I would fail at something as to be expected, it would beat myself up over it incessantly, and then rather then moving on and doing something enjoyable I’d attempt to “redeem” myself by swearing off all mindless fun, declaring myself “better than that” as if I would get a fucking trophy.

  3. Noeleve

    Wait, how old (age bracket) are you Badger?? For some reason from your posts I always pictured like late-40s, you know, older and wiser… and history/economics literate.

  4. johnnymilfquest

    @Noeleve : Ha ha! Badger’s younger than me and I’m Generation X.

  5. Ulysses

    David Brooks actually wrote a good column a while back on the rigidity of the younger generations. They’re Stepford kids, working to stick to the script, present the right image, and follow the path to success.

  6. Gwen

    You remind me of something that happened when I was in high school. A girl I knew drew me aside one day and lectured me about what she said was my need to be more interesting. I needed to be unique, she told me, different, non-conforming. I told her that I thought I was actually pretty unique and non-conforming. She agreed that I was, but then explained that I was being non-conforming the wrong way. I needed to do it the right way, the way that everyone else who was non-conforming did it.

    Even at 16 I recognized that as pretty stupid. It’s something I’ve seen a lot of over the years, though. There is in humanity this pressure to belong to a group, and once you belong, to conform to the group, even if the group prides itself on not conforming to the behavior of the larger groups around them. It isn’t voiced often, but the assumption is out there that the only choice you have is which group you conform to.

    Because of this, I’ve always been careful about which groups I join. I’ll dip in and out of a lot of groups, but I don’t actually identify myself as one of them. I just participate in what I enjoy and walk away from the rest. I know how I want to live my life, and the groups I belong to are only those that bolster my efforts in that direction.

    Which means I really only belong to two groups – my church and my family, both selected with great care and thought (well, my husband was – the kids were potluck.) God comes first in my life, my husband comes second (and there is, very nicely, no conflict there, since God would never tell me to disobey my husband, and my husband would never tell me to disobey God. And yes, if my husband went nuts all of a sudden and tried to tell me to climb on top of the local Piggly Wiggly and start shooting at hapless pedestrians I would clonk him over the head and tie him up. Like I said – God comes first.)

    (For those of you getting upset now – JOKE. Joke, people. Calm down. He would never tell me to climb on top of the Piggly Wiggly. Winn-Dixie is only a quarter mile away.)

    Oh, I’m rambling now. What was my point? Oh, yeah – one of my favorite poems is Bag of Tools, by R.L. Sharpe:

    Each is given a bag of tools,
    A shapeless mass,
    A book of rules;
    And each must make—
    Ere life is flown—
    A stumbling block
    Or a steppingstone.

    You can be pushed about by peer pressure all your life, striving to conform to the good opinion of the group, or you can step out on your own, take the garbage life throws at you – failed attempts and screw-ups included – and make something more of your life and yourself. That’s real power – when you recognize that your life is your hands, and that you have the power to make of it what you will.

  7. Not being a drinker, partier, or mainstreamer my whole life, I’ve learned to live and let live, and have fun in my own ways.

    Badger is in his early-to-mid 30s I believe. His TV shows and movies references put him in that range.

  8. Badger-

    I’m giggling as I read the comments. Lol.

  9. I suppose Badger could be my age (late 20s), since he mentioned Dawson’s Creek during his puberty, and I vaguely recall that show was popular when I was 14-17ish.

    Keep in mind I moved to the US in the 90s, so I have no real point of reference for American pop culture before then.

  10. Guestopher

    Maybe I’m missing the point of the post, but a couple of things struck me as off. Once twenty-somethings in my social circles pair off with “the one” as opposed to someone who is handy for social functions and screwing, they tend to stay at home and do their own thing. It isn’t a short-term screw fest, they really can’t seem to find as much time to do anything with others ever again. But the bar for things that are more fun than doing the typical twenty-somethings social things is pretty damn low, so who can blame them. I’m 25 and I don’t think it’s odd at all that a couple would have a pretty mundane and intimate way of celebrating many Friday nights.

    Single people have to go out to meet new potential romantic partners. No matter how introverted they are, it’s necessary for single people to encounter enough people to pick a partner from. I’d like many of my Friday nights to be me time with close friends or alone, but I’ve got to maximize the number of potential partners I encounter since I’m single.

    Bringing me to the second thing
    The social gatherings of most of my social circles include board, card, and video games. I’d say we are anti-hipsters, but we could easily be mistaken for them with our tastes in music, food, politics, and movies. I can only think of one social circle of people who proudly claim the title of geek. To summarize, I’m 25 and I’ve had plenty of social circles where it was perfectly normal to hook up with someone because of a decision to play on their team for cranium turbo. Once partnered, these people stayed in touch with close friends, but didn’t do so many extended social circle activities. We’re out there, but in the minority. And you probably won’t see us once we’re in serious relationships.

  11. What’s funny is that I already do mix my own drinks and dance like crazy at home (all by myself, alas)–and I’m sure neither my cocktails nor my music of choice embody any sort of hipster class or coolness. Once a month or so, my friends and I do karaoke at someone’s house, mess up the kitchen cooking our own food, play card games or board games (yes, indeed!), and even dress up in funny costumes when we have a theme.

    But as Guestopher has pointed out, these are hardly helping our chances of meeting and attracting new people. Singles do have to seek out more “socially approved” ways of having “fun.” I suppose it’s ironic that navigating these soul sapping rituals is another sort of challenge that we shouldn’t let a fear of failure turn us away from.

  12. Welcome to the Fall. From freedom to prosperity to rise to empire to the end.

  13. Ribbon Butterfly

    Dear Badgersphere,

    This is totally unrelated to Badger’s post, except tangentially (fear of relationship/life failure is included here. Particularly, one of Bellita’s soul-sapping rituals – the break-up). Those uninterested in the small angst of Ribbon’s love life should skip this entirely.

    I must admit I gave the introvert two more chances – once at and after the astronaut’s lecture, once at morning coffee. He got to second base, with zero tingle (I was hoping the tingle would magically appear at second base…). I stared deeply into his eyes. I isolated myself with him, in his room. I made physical IOI’s, trying to trick my body into bonding with him. It didn’t work.

    I broke up with him tonight. I’ve never done that before, and I hope I handled it with at least a modicum of grace. He actually appeared to take it really well in the moment, but I know I hurt him. He gave me a Teddy Bear of Ultimate Guilt – he had bought it previously, thinking to give it to me on Friday night, after my dance performance. I felt terrible about doing this to him, but Guilty Bear is really hammering it in. Why is doing the morally correct action so painful for me, too?

    I find my hamster going like crazy. Funny thing is, if there was a general women’s checklist, he met it. He was so sweet and so eager. He’s a law student with a firm job already waiting for him when he’s done school. He’s tall, reasonably good-looking. He wants to get married and make babies in the near (5-year) future. It’s hard to make a better offer than that, and I’m aware that I’m unlikely to have another man focus on me like this. (It doesn’t often happen.)

    I keep wondering, what’s wrong with me that I didn’t feel sexually attracted? (Wait, don’t answer. My hypergamy has run amok. My great-grandmothers would have latched on like lampreys and not let go. But… I thought I didn’t have to make that choice. I worked so hard to be on the path to self-sufficiency partially so I wouldn’t have to make that choice. Alas.)

    I think I did the right thing, in the end. It was his first relationship, his first just-about-everything-you-can-name; pulling the wool over his eyes would have been easy (but I’m not that kind of girl). What I could have done was bet on him anyway, seal him in as a beta provider, go into a relationship where I don’t respect him. And maybe if I could have kept up the act, it would have been okay. But I think that would have been wrong. It would have been living a lie, using him, deceiving him and deceiving myself, hoping that pretending enough would make love a reality. Destroying integrity. Correct action was to admit to myself and to him that I didn’t feel sexual attraction, and to end it so he and I can both move on to someone who loves us truly (i.e. desperately turns us on AND fulfills our providing needs, male and female each in their role).

    Still… please help me out here. Did I do right, Sir Badger? Ladies and gentlemen of the striped sphere? (I hope the answer is yes, but if it’s no, then I beg of you to explain to me what I did wrong, where my reasoning failed, so that I won’t do it again.)

    A Guilty Ribbon

  14. Ulysses

    Ribbon Butterfly – Though I don’t believe in “twue wuv,” I do think attraction matters. It matters a whole lot. Perfect on paper cannot defeat biology, which is a key component of attraction, both short term and marital. I’m feeling too lazy to seek out a link, but I’ve read articles that strongly postulate that scent, that is the way we respond to each other’s pheromones, is a big factor in relationships. If his scent wasn’t sparking your desire to pair bond, then cutting things off was the right move. Biology is a harsh mistress and a resume cannot overtake her.

  15. Actions over words.
    Emotional pornography.

    Hey, it’s late.

  16. Dr. Ribbon,

    The limerance comes and goes, but it would be no less than a moral crime to date somebody you just weren’t attracted to. It’s not hypergamy, it’s that the guy made a massive display of low value so soon that it was unrecoverable. It’s clear that his omega moment on the second date was a big factor.

    Get rid of the teddy bear. It will do nobody any good.

    Now, to keep prospects fresh in your mind, I advise you follow Private Man’s advice plan of finding positive things about men around you.

  17. @Ribbon Butterfly
    May I confess that when I wrote of “soul sapping rituals,” I wasn’t even thinking as far as the breakup? :P What you did may have been emotionally draining, but there was something very honest and real about it. I was referring to the marketing and posing that come before the real one-on-one “getting to know you” stage.

    I don’t have any useful advice for you, but the young man you write of reminds me of a similar one I met several years ago (who made his own “omega move”) and I think Badger’s analysis is spot on.

  18. johnnymilfquest

    @Ribbon Butterfly : Your check-list has the wrong items on it. This man “ticked every box” but he still didn’t make you tingle.

    Well, then your little boxes don’t mean diddly squat!

    Find out what really gets you going. That will involve some introspection. I know that women don’t like introspection. But give it go anyway.

  19. 108spirits

    You just described the SWPL culture.

  20. Thanks for the link love Badger, you took this post in a really interesting direction. There is something schizophrenic about we Boomers. The hippies eventually mostly went to law school and became just like their parents. What we failed to do was provide a life experience for our children that was better than our own. That is the essence of the American Dream, and my generation was the first that failed to make this leap. All of the pressure to achieve is meant to win at a sort of Life Musical Chairs. If not everyone can be super successful this time around, then I’m going to do everything I can to make sure my kid is one of the winners.

    Guestopher’s comment also makes me think that the insidious “extroversion = good” assumption is getting even more prevalent in the culture. I can’t ever recall such a divide between extroverts and introverts, and I wonder if we’re seeing it because introverts are rebelling more against fun as another opportunity for achievement. Guestopher describes a kind of striation among young people – not without its benefits, but we’re losing out on hybrid vigor.

  21. johnnymilfquest

    @AB Dada did a good job of revealing what the American Dream is really all about.

  22. Butterfly, here’s the reason for problem:

    A list of traits doen’t mean jack. This is also why dating sites suck.

  23. One thing to keep in mind — don’t expect sparks of attraction to fly within three dates. It’s another problem with dating, and why I never did much of it. It took a few weeks before I started getting really attracted to my husband. We were acquaintances first, then friends. Women take longer to fall in love. It’s true. :]

    I don’t know for sure, but if you had taken things a bit more slowly with this guy, the result might have been different. My husband and I made this mistake in the beginning and rushed into the physical, with basically no sparks. We then both agreed to “backtrack” and ease into the physical stuff, which worked. Now we still make great fireworks.

  24. Ribbon-
    You did the right thing, if you’re honestly not attracted it’s best to punch out.

    You feel guilt because you have girl bits thus feel badly for possibly hurting this guys feelings.

  25. Mmm… I don’t think she did all the right things. She was right to not lead the guy along any further, but as I see it, she made several mistakes. It’s not because she’s a bad person. No, it’s because she was too NICE and felt too guilty.

    1) She wasn’t completely honest with him. When he did whatever he did to turn her off, she should have told him about it. If not right there and then, at least afterward, on the phone, or via email. She should have done it before their next in-person meeting.

    2) Because she wasn’t honest or communicating, he probably thought what he was doing was fine, and he just needed more patience. Happily and ignorantly he thought they were on their way to boyfriend and girlfriend, and bought her a teddy bear. How pathetically beta, right? Except he was acting on incomplete information and going by the cultural script.

    3) Rather than communicating (talk! write! text! anything!) clearly, she decided she would try to force her body into tingles by getting the guy to second base. When that didn’t work, she decided it was all over and finally communicated with brutal honesty (which is good). But before that, all of her actions were greenlighting him, while all of her thoughts were yellow and red.

    Don’t think I’m coming down too harshly on her, because I’ve been there and done that. Those exact same things, too. I would even feel too guilty to dump the guy, so I would just aim to please while subsuming my own desires. At least she could bite the bullet and pull off the band-aid.

    Take corrective measures early and often. Clarify to him why you didn’t want to be his girlfriend. Say that you aren’t feeling physical attraction. Don’t do any physical stuff until you are sure that you are mutually in love. The tingles are not the same thing as love. Trying to force it to happen is definitely not going to make it happen, tingles or love.

    This man is tall, good looking, family-oriented and going to law school. He is not stupid. He is not a dud. He is not pathetic. He just has the wrong ideas about women and is inexperienced. Give him some DeAngelo, Mystery and Roissy, and he’d just kill with the ladies. His potential can be unlocked so easily. Unfortunately this may already be a lost case for both of them.

    In the future, for everyone’s sake, please keep in mind these three keys: awareness, honesty, and communication. You may struggle wth them, but keeping the keys in your pocket means you’ll always have them.

  26. ASF

    Poor guy. His betaness was so powerful that even a woman who is aware of game cannot overcome it. You should give him a copy of Bang, Ribbon.

    However, as Hope states, he has potential, but only if he recognizes his short comings. That’s a big if for many men.

  27. Uncalledfor

    Hmm. Regarding RB’s story I’d concur that continuing in a false vein would certainly have been the wrong choice. However, I also agree with what Hope said above, and would be even a bit harsher: from the distance across the Internet, it looks to me as though these later dates were a mistake and perhaps even a bit cruel.

    My — admittedly uncharitable, but someone has to say it — guess is that RB’s limbic system made the decision firmly and well in advance, and she only “gave him another chance” in order to assuage her own conscience over possibly being too shallow. But, she really was unable to properly appreciate his good qualities, and that should have been obvious earlier. Really, letting someone kiss you even when you feel no tingle, in hopes that some will suddenly appear, is an unkind thing to do to anyone; if it wasn’t benefitting him, then the only reason RB would do such a thing is to benefit herself and so necessarily at his expense — now he’s both hard-up and feeling completely foolish. Sorry to be harsh, but it’s true.

    So I agree with Hope: being more honest earlier, both with him and with herself, would have been kinder and better overall.

  28. SayWhaat

    Really, letting someone kiss you even when you feel no tingle, in hopes that some will suddenly appear, is an unkind thing to do to anyone

    In Ribbon’s defense, it is entirely possible to fall for someone over time without experiencing a tingle beforehand. I didn’t have feelings for a friend until he admitted feelings for me and tried to make a move (note that I said “tried”). After that, the attraction grew until I was head-over-heels. If that’s at all possible, you don’t want to rule a guy out after only one date.

    On the other hand, you should know when to cut your losses. That’s to the benefit of both parties involved. Also, don’t worry about breaking up with a guy you’ve only gone on one or two dates with, as long as you are straightforward about it. Many of the guys I declined second or third dates from seemed to actually appreciate that I was honest and direct, instead of just ignoring their texts (having also been on the receiving end of such rejections, I wouldn’t want to put them through the anxiety of not knowing).

  29. Uncalledfor

    In Ribbon’s defense, it is entirely possible to fall for someone over time without experiencing a tingle beforehand.

    I don’t disagree with the main clause, but I’m not sure that it works to RB’s defense either. If you want to allow some time for attraction to develop, that’s not necessarily a bad thing to do; I’m not saying anyone should dump anyone else because they don’t tingle by the third date. But, I do think it’s fraught, and ultimately kind of selfish, to start or allow physical escalation when your heart (or other organs) are not in it, and you know there’s reason to doubt they ever will be in it. There are better and worse ways to allow time for attraction to develop in the current absence of tingle; lackadaisical slouching to second base is not one of the good ways. Do you disagree?

  30. We’re talking about kissing here, it’s not as though RB had sex with him in the hopes the tingle would develop in flagrante delicto.

    If someone does something unattractive on a second date, a third date to see if that was an outlier is not out of the question.

  31. Ribbon Butterfly

    I apologize for pouring my emotions over Badger’s blog. Danke, everyone, first for reassuring me that I done right (well, mostly sort of a little bit right), and secondly for the advice.

    (Which I take to heart! I am surrounded by good guys – brilliant, hardworking, good-natured experts and learners. My classmates, 49 most excellent men. Sadly, they are all otherwise off limits. That doesn’t make them not-good guys. Just means they’re good guys who are off limits. Risk analysis, a wimmin can does it sometimes.)

    Hope is right. It is a lost cause for us, this introvert man and I. Badger’s right, too (as per usual, and why I consulted here). It was lost from the moment he said, “I’ve been thinking about this all weekend, and I want to formally ask you to be my girlfriend,” only a week after I met him. I know it was my mistake to say yes in that moment. I can only offer that I was thoroughly alarmed and didn’t want to hurt his feelings. What I should have done, as I’ve reflected before, was frankly say, “I only met you a week ago. We’ve had coffee once, and we’re just going to our first dinner date. I’m still getting to know you.”

    Re: communication. I tried to remedy my mistake by calling him and saying he was moving way too fast. In those exact words. It was as if he was “ready now” for a relationship, and I happened to fit the shape of a girlfriend, so obviously I would just fall right into place. Almost like women who dream about weddings and plan them all out, just lacking a groom, any groom, to paint into the picture.

    I’ve been operating from the mindset that I’m still evaluating him as a partner since, while he seems to have operated on another basis entirely. (“In the future, you don’t have to plan things. Just let me know a time and I’ll do everything. I’ll come to the developing world with you and be an orderly in the hospital so I can walk you to work. Do you want to kiss some more?”) Those are things you say to someone you already know and love. I met him three weeks ago. I don’t even know what his favourite colour is yet. (Look, two Canadian spellings.)

    In any case, this has all happened on a highly accelerated schedule. Comments as to slowing it down and not kissing are therefore prescribing the correct action. It’s happened before that someone I never thought attractive makes a move and changes my world view entirely, but I shouldn’t have given those signals, since I didn’t feel that way. I was doing it to be polite, because it was expected, and because I felt sorry for him. (Exactly what is my derived benefit? I’m not sure. I… feel better that I gave him a chance? *He* kissed a woman for the first time and learned what a boob feels like, so can we call it even?) I am grateful I did not take it any further. I don’t date a lot. I’m still learning how to set boundaries, and which boundaries to set.

    I think I’ll keep Guilty Bear, though. It’s not Guilty’s fault, and evidently I’m his mommy now. He’s hanging out with my roomie’s animal friends, Lulu and Otter von Bismarck. Guilty’s sorrowful, bashful face will remind me how not to date a guy.

    Tying back into Badger’s post! Must learn from experience. Must break out of comfort zone! (But my relationship comfort zone is to be a devoted girlfriend, that’s how I’ve spent my adult life. This kind of was breaking out. More breaking out means… getting slutty? O:)

  32. Sweet As

    This is a great post, and it’s interesting to be an “in-betweener” as being a late Gen-Xer without the same pressures as the M’s. I still get grief, but whatcanyoudo?

    But I do want to point out a bit of a misnomer in your blog. That of attachment parenting, and it’s connection to helicopter parenting.

    Attachment parenting is a form of parenting focused on developing a healthy attachment in the child. The child learns the attachment through interaction with caregivers, and it is a specific psychological phenomenon. You can read about it here:

    Attachment parenting usually takes the form of very involved parenting for the first two years, as this is the most important time of developing attachment. There are certain “tools” in the “toolbox” of attachment parenting, but it is not necessary to utilize these tools to create a healthy attachment per se.

    Helicopter parenting is parenting from a point of anxiety. Attachment parents may be prone to this, but likewise so also will non-attachment parents. By non-attachment parents, I mean parents who are mainstream and do not consider attachment theory, even though their children do — in fact — develop a healthy attachment. It’s simply to identify them as two separate groups.

    Attachment parents may be more prone to this anxiety, but I do not think that this is necessarily the case. I am an attachment parent, and I utilized a lot of AP tools (babywearing, cosleeping, exclusive breastfeeding, extended breast feeding, elimination communication, primary care giving 24-7 for the 1.5 years, then working an average of 4 hrs per day until he turned two, while his father cared for him; etc). The point was to 1 develop the healthy attachment in DS and 2. make my life easier in the process. No one has to do what I did to create 1, and what i did for 2 might make another person’s life harder, and thus they might make different choices. :)

    While I do have anxieties about DS’s experiences — in particular in regards to bullying — I do not helicopter parent. I do choose to carefully monitor play-ground behavior (he is 3) to decrease aggression towards him and premature development of aggression based on his developmental age.

    He is a head taller than children his age (running at about the side of a 5 yr old) and can easily run the other 3 yr olds over, raising the ire of other parents (and often the parent’s aggression and shaming). Older children assume he is the same age as them, and then will attempt to scrap with him (normal in and of itself and not problematic) over when he doesn’t respond like a normal 5 yr old would, and acts instead like a 3 yr old who isn’t ready to scrap at that level yet, even though he may be physically capable, he isn’t emotionally capable. BUT, 95% of the time, I’m just sitting on the park bench being carefully observant that nothing escalates, and not “hovering” over him or the other children (like many other parents in our neighborhood, most of whom are not “attachment parents.”).

    Likewise, I have carefully chosen his schooling, but when he is at school, he is at school, and while I do touch base with the teacher regularly (which is normal), it is not as often as the other parents in his class, many of whom stay AT the kindy while their child is there, not “helping out” but literally just “being there just in case something happens.” This group IS more prone to attachment parenting, BUT not all of them are attachment parents.

    So, it is entirely possible to attachment parent without helicopter parenting, and it is possible to helicopter parent without being an attachment parent.

    The real issue with helicoptering, IMO, is simply not allowing the child to “be.” They seem to feel/experience a certain measure of smoothering.

    Also, in relation to my attachment parenting, I utilize the “continuum concept” from which “free range parenting” arises. It’s essentially about not even being an “involved” parent, let alone “helicopter” parent. Yes, be aware, be interested, be loving and caring, but allow children to have time in nature on their own, to play independently outside of schedule and the adult gaze/world, and allow them a private, interior life.

    We don’t even ask my son what happens at school or where ever. We might say “how was your day? did you do anything interesting?” and it’s up to him to tell us what he would like. But he’s 3, so his notion of privacy is minimal. :)

  33. Uncalledfor

    Ribbon Butterfly —

    You seem admirably open to introspection, a rare trait for people your age, male or female. So, let me help you along (this may hurt a bit):

    I can only offer that I was thoroughly alarmed and didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

    Why didn’t you want to hurt his feelings? were you afraid that he’d become physically violent or abusive? If not, then do you have an answer that’s not essentially self-centered? e.g. you didn’t want to hurt his feelings because you didn’t want to look or feel like a villain, or because you didn’t want to go through an awkward moment at that time? These are common,natural feelings! but it’s useful to recognize that they are essentially self-centered on your part, not really concerns about what’s best for him.


    I was doing it to be polite, because it was expected, and because I felt sorry for him. (Exactly what is my derived benefit? I’m not sure. I… feel better that I gave him a chance?

    The benefit to you is that you could feel better about yourself, by “proving” that you’re a decent, non-shallow person who’s willing to give someone else another chance. The fact that the chance didn’t really exist spoils that story, so you resisted recognizing it.

    Meanwhile, think on this: is it ever a non-self-centered act, to give someone something because you feel sorry for them? Are you really doing this man a favor, or showing him any amount of respect, by classing him with leprous beggars? If you’re not doing him any good by feeling sorry for him, then the only motivation left was that you were doing something to make yourself — and only yourself — feel better.

    *He* kissed a woman for the first time and learned what a boob feels like, so can we call it even?)

    All kidding aside, maybe so. In the long run, he’ll probably have at least some positive memory of the experience; and one’s first trip to second base is almost always an educational landmark, even if he’s then ejected from the game (as happens more often than you might think).

  34. “In the long run, he’ll probably have at least some positive memory of the experience; and one’s first trip to second base is almost always an educational landmark, even if he’s then ejected from the game”

    The differentiation of the sexual marketplace into winners and losers at ever-younger age produces these kinds of stories – educated, capable young men without a lick of positive experience with the opposite sex. As Hope suggests, he has a lot of potential and experience will help him bloom.

  35. Oh Butterfly, that’s not the right attitude. Sexual acts like kissing, fondling and so on, they are not commodities, not meant to be charitable goods for a charity case. They are meant to be an expression of love, emotional, mental and physical attraction. Don’t call it “even”… don’t keep scores.

    Although you don’t seem like the type, I really recommend NOT going slutty. It’s a very good thing you aren’t being led around by just tingles and lust. Remember sex is a healthy expression of love. If you aren’t feeling love, it’s not worth it. To quote The Matrix, “Being the one is like being in love. You’ll just know it, through and through.”

    You also seem like you are still trying to define yourself in terms of being with a man. I used to be that way, too. I had to learn I can be single for a while without breaking down. I got some hobbies, worked on some projects, and met some new people. In the process I became more interesting for the next time I met a good man. You are still playing by school rules. School is boring. The world is much bigger than that. Outside school there are lots of worldly, interesting and accomplished men looking for wives.

    Date with an eye for husband material. Don’t hesitate to educate good potential men in the red pill knowledge you’ve acquired. My husband learned about Game in early college, but he didn’t really use it and still had a ton of feminist indoctrination. I surprised him in a good way with my red pill knowledge, much of which he hadn’t heard. It also makes him much more willing to be the pants-wearing, slightly cocky and dominant alpha with me… which is really just being himself, before his mom told him to be nice and sweet, and to do the chores.

    Perhaps that’s jumping too far ahead. Make friends. Befriend men. Get to know men (that’s why you’re here, of course). You don’t have to be a girlfriend to be a girl friend. You sound like you’re sweet, giving, pretty and a good catch, so no wonder a guy wants to girlfriend you up. Resist the urge to be in a lackluster relationship. Develop yourself and work on yourself. Only be with a man whom you can look up to and admire, rather than feel stifled by and pity. Trust me, I’ve made that mistake before. :P

  36. deti

    This is a great thread, esp. RB’s story.

    RB, one thing that hasn’t come out here is that your status as a medical student and future physician, coupled with the usual hypergamy, is likely to limit your attraction only to very high status men. Even a good looking law student with guaranteed employment on graduation could not tingle you. You just plain weren’t feeling any attraction there. (in fairness, his omega moves of asking you to be his GF and buying you a guilty bear (*eyeroll*) sealed his fate. A Guilty Bear? Seriously?)

    I’m not saying you should date men you’re not attracted to, nor am I saying you should quit med school. I’m just sayin’ you should be aware of where your status puts you vis-a-vis most other men.

  37. Ribbon Butterfly

    Turnabout: extension of Uncalledfor’s reasoning implies that a woman should NOT give a guy who made a DLV a chance, should NOT hope that the budding relationship might recover with more exposure, and SHOULD “dump that” as soon as the tingle starts diminishing.

    I thought that exact behaviour was what nice guys were complaining about in the first place. I thought (internet exaggeration ahead) I was doing my *civic duty* in rewarding good-guy-provider behaviour at least a little!

    P.S. I really did have that thought about civic duty. “Don’t ruin him! Some good girl out there is going to be really lucky to have him! He needs to know he’s valuable!”

    P.P.S. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings because hurting people’s feelings is bad/wrong/morally incorrect! Of course if hurting someone’s feelings –> feeling guilty, then not hurting someone’s feelings so that I don’t feel guilty is selfish. But the alternative is to break that moral connection, hurt some feelings, and NOT feel guilty. That’s the road to sociopathy. On basic principles I wanted to not hurt him for as long as possible, hoping that hurt would turn out to be unnecessary, and when it turned out I did have to hurt him I tried to do it as quickly and cleanly as possible.

    I should clarify: though in retrospect “the moment it was over” was clearly the Be My Girlfriend moment, it’s not as if my sexual attraction to him went from 100% to 0% within that very second. More like from 60% to 20%, and further interactions diminished that. It was a flickering candle which needed a little dry tinder to become a warm fire, but sadly there was a monsoon.

    What was the non-selfish behaviour to take in this break-up situation? Should I have provided him feedback on break-up about what he did that smothered the attraction? That seems deliberately cruel, no matter how diplomatically put. How does one tactfully impart red-pill knowledge to a guy?

    And, for better or worse re: SMP/MMP, yes. I am a medical student. This fact does colour the interpretation, and I did leave it out. I’m shy about it because I find it really changes how people view me. And it is a little hard for me to make friends with men. I’m an introvert myself, and I like to do stuff by myself more often than not, or blend into a group. I don’t like spotlights, I just like to enjoy other people’s chatter. (That dance performance on Friday? I am just one small part in a huge group). Need to get back into fencing and go rock-climbing more. But then I will only climb higher in SMV/MMV due to my rock-hard muscles, and nobody will satisfy my hypergamy at all. :-P (I thoroughly understand the ridiculousness of that statement, I know men evaluate women on different criteria, etc. etc.)

  38. SayWhaat


    You are thinking about this way too hard. I know how you feel — the first time I had to actually reject a guy, I squirmed and obsessed about how I was going to do it in the nicest way possible, and felt incredibly guilty afterwards when he persisted.

    Now I only feel a twinge of guilt and hesitation before rejecting a guy. It’s still there, but I don’t overthink it as much as I did with that first guy. Stop worrying about hurting feelings – you’re rejecting someone, they are going to get a little hurt! There’s nothing else you can do about that! Being straightforward about it is really the nicest way to let them down. They’ll move on, that much I can promise you.

  39. RB, I think you did fine, and it’s certainly not “hypergamy run amok”… puhleeze.

    I wonder why you say such a thing. I don’t know if any men have directly said that to you (in which case, they are idiots) or you’re just overinflating a typical admonition applied to other women in order to comfort yourself on how unreasonable we are (which is just silly).

    You gave him more than a few chances, and he blew it. I’ve said it many times… I hope women give betas a chance, but there’s no need for you to save their souls. If only most women were as decent as you.

  40. An interesting and thoughtful post. I think part of the afraid-to-fail phenomenon is the perception that things are closing in, that opportunities are shrinking, that if you fall off the ladder you are not going to be able to get back on it again.

    And ironically, this kind of fear is likely to be self-fulfilling.

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

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