One of the major keys to my game-fueled understanding of women and mating is the concept of the Body Agenda. I have to give a hat tip to Athol Kay for articulating it in a way that resonated with me:
“Body Agenda: It’s very common to think of the “real you” as living inside your body, and your body as some sort of a transportation system for the “real you.” The reality though is that your body has its own agenda that it’s pursuing… it wants to make babies… and your highly intelligent homo sapiens brain is in fact a tool it uses to get that job done. To be sure, we can think logically and make decisions, but we’re not nearly as in control of ourselves as we’d like to think we are. Hormones and neurotransmitters are our bodies’ way of telling us what to do.”
Contrary to overwrought romantic ideas that love “just happens,” our brains have very specially evolved (or designed if that’s your bag) neural hardware dedicated to determining the fitness of any potential mates and driving our behavior towards mixing those genes with our own. This hardware is constantly checking a candidate’s physical fitness, pheremones, gait, voice, speech patterns, parenting ability, social framing, all manner of characteristics inside and out that your body needs to make a decision as to whether you should want to mate with that person.
One level up, our rational minds have further mechanisms to evaluate the best genes and influence our behavior, as well as acting as a diplomatic proxy for our visceral systems – convincing ourselves and others that we’re justified in our actions in ways other than naked self-interest. This papering over our subrational motivations in the name of social niceties is the major workload of the Rationalization Hamster (thank you Roissy), one of the most powerful metaphors in the last wave of game writing.
As I see it, there’s a bit of a paradox in the Body Agenda. Genes tend to want to mate with strong genes – because offspring will be more fit – but also with genes different than themselves, because this genetic diversity helps insure broader survivability – not putting all your genetic eggs in one chromosomal basket. However, if the target genes are too strong, they will dominate your genes in the final product, and genetic diversity undermines the primacy of your own genes. So it’s a matter of seeking fitness and hedging your bet, but not so much that your own genes recede to the background.
ATTRACTION CAN’T BE FAKED
In my last post, we debated Vox Day’s assertion that “a man can’t fake an erection,” by which he meant to tell women that if their husbands were coming at them with sex on their minds and boners in their pants, they were still attractive to their husbands.
On the other side, the Body Agenda that drives the limbic system’s attraction process can’t be reasoned with. You can’t talk yourself into being attracted to someone no matter how much as all the other positive factors of a person line up.
This lesson is most often told from the female side (“he’s a great catch, I know, but I’m just not into him/there’s no SPARK!!”) but it goes for men, too. I recently had a few dates with a woman who seemed like a very good prospect. She was a PhD scientist, similar sense of humor, very interesting, hard-working, low-entitlement, high-energy but also easy to get along with. I really enjoyed spending time with her.
However, something was off. Every time I touched her things felt amiss. Whenever I kissed her, she tasted funny…not like smoke or gum or bourbon or something tangible, just a weird trace of something unpleasant. It wasn’t like she had an unusually fleshy, doughy body. It wasn’t a case of high standards, as other women of her sex rank had previously lit my fire.
It was just that, for whatever reason, my Body Agenda rejected her. My subrational instincts judged her an unfit mate and told the rest of me to stay away from her. What was weird about the whole thing was that from as close as three feet away, I found her aesthetically pleasing and attractive. It was only when actual sexualized contact was made that my Body Agenda cast its vote.
At first I felt a little bad about this whole deal. But then I snapped out of it and realized that this was a feature, not a bug – why was I trying to shame myself for not being attracted to someone my body didn’t like? She eventually LJBF’d herself, overtly recognizing and citing my lack of escalation and (thankfully) not wanting to have a conversation that ended in me declaring my lack of attraction.
Now that I’ve deployed my example, let’s cross-check sex rank against individual preference.
SEX RANK IS ONLY PART OF THE MATING EQUATION
There’s a lot of talk in the Manosphere about sex rank, usually punctuated by the scoring of attractiveness on the old-school 1-10 scale. One of the main tenets of theoretical Game is that there are prototypical traits that each gender finds sexually attractive about the other in the aggregate, and that how an individual stacks up against the overall market preferences (a demand matrix, if you will) can be codified, to first order, in a Sex Rank or Sexual Market Value. Big boobs, curvy hips, long hair for women; physical strength, social dominance, access to power for men.
However, sex rank doesn’t tell the whole story, because even when you’re screening a series of mates of more or less equal sex rank, some are a lot more attractive to you than others. Within the sex rank, there’s an extra element of Body Agenda match that has veto power over the whole operation.
I’ve had plenty of experiences where a conventionally “hot” girl, or my buddy’s girl who he’s crazy about, is just meh to me. It’s a bit like a sports team that gets a really talented player who doesn’t fit in the team’s system and winds up not being as productive as his skill (or salary) would suggest.
Or it’s like buying albums by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin. All great bands, but odds are you’re going to like one of them a lot more than the rest – and your equally musically astute buddy is liable to have a different preference.
SOCIAL PRESSURE INFLUENCES DECISIONS THAT MAY GO AGAINST THE BODY AGENDA
Also in my last post, some discussion came up about sleeping with girls low on the sexual totem pole, including a remark from the great Kane:
“I don’t know a single man who hasn’t bagged a fatty or two in his day. Do fatties have it? I don’t think so, but every now and then desperation combines with cheap gin to make it seem like they do.”
Kane has a good point – desperation and deprivation can cause a man to do unusual things – however Rock Throwing Peasant (who has started a promising paratropper-themed blog) countered:
“As far as fatties or whatever, you were sexually aroused by the situation. Own up to it, for Pete’s sake. You may never be aroused by the same situation again, but you’re not going to sustain wood without having some sick part of your mind saying, “This is so nasty, it’s arousing.””
They can certainly both be right. It’s hard to read much into drunk and desperately horny guys taking a number at the local watering hole, but shirley there’s a subset of men who are turned on enough by their conquests, but for social reasons, can’t and won’t be seen with them in public.
Radio host Tom Leykis had a hilarious episode about “fat booty calls” where he and many callers talked about hot sexcapadaes they had experienced with women who were conventionally unattractive. Though their Body Agenda approved, their social engines couldn’t have them be seen with someone of such low sex rank in public.
(Because of the effects of preselection, I wager that women will judge such a man much more harshly than men will.)
On the other side of the coin (also mentioned in a previous post here), sometimes guys stay with the wrong woman because the social cachet of having a “hot” girlfriend or being the envy of the other guys is powerful in its own right. They don’t want to admit it’s not working out, because they’d have to face questioning from the guys about how they let such a great girl go.
NO ONE WANTS TO ADMIT IT
In a sort of interesting irony, the primacy of the “body agenda” offends two key yet conflicting tenets of our modern mindset:
1. The conviction that we are highly rational beings by virtue of living in a modern, technological society. The fact is that we are 90% animals and a large portion of our rational energy goes toward satisfying our subrational needs or rationalizing already-performed actions whose true motivations are visceral in nature.
2. The romanticized notion that love “just happens” between two people who meet by the grace of the heavens, and that any speedbumps can be rationally negotiated or mitigated if everybody just tries hard enough. The fact is that one’s base attractiveness and Body Agenda matchup have a lot to do with “falling in love,” and the tenets of game and transactional analysis dictate behaviors and habits that are conducive (or destructive) to a relationship no matter how long it’s been going.
(People seem really hooked on the “if you love someone hard enough it will work out” even though all the leads in the romantic comedy movies are stunningly handsome and gorgeous.)
Any way you look at it, our society doesn’t want to suborn the raw self-interested drive of our natures. This is all well and good when it comes to putting aside our natural drives to build a cooperative society, but ignorance of the truth is a real threat to the proper care and feeding of interpersonal relationships. There, because you can’t fake attraction and bonding, the Body Agenda still rules.