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.


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.


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.)


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.


Filed under original research

30 responses to “Decoupling Intimacy and Commitment

  1. REALLY interesting post, thanks man. I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately, and am preparing some posts for it soon. Being in love is fucking amazing, and having that emotional connection between you and a girl is mind-blowing. It’s definitely a state we should be aspiring too. Of course… we have to make sure our world doesn’t become HER. We need to keep ourselves constantly growing, expanding and developing as men.
    Keep up the great work.

  2. michaelw20

    Commitment is something that seems to have diminished along with the attention span of individuals. Great post

  3. Joe Blow

    There isn’t much intimacy for a married man in a world of unrestrained hypergamy. There can’t be. If you go all mushy and Lesser Beta on most women weaned on Second Gen feminism (whether or not they call themselves feminist), they will quit respecting you and start looking for somebody more Alpha – encouraged by friends, cheered on by Oprah and rewarded by the divorce laws. They say they want Eat Pray Love, and they’ll definitely seek out a rugged looking secret-millionaire-handyman who weeps after sex, but in the guy who runs the house and plans for retirement, they seem to prefer a firm hand who is more Run Silent, Run Deep. Give her a peek at how you feel now and then, but don’t put your emotional being on center stage with a modern woman because then you’ve given away one of the few things assets you had to keep her (and other women) chasing you. This is a Schroedinger’s Cat type of situation; your emotional intimacy is only valuable as a bargaining chip in the relationship if you don’t open the box. It’s not purely manipulative to think this way either. If you truly love someone, you may have to give them what you know they need, instead of what they say they want.

    Keeping your own counsel isn’t unnatural either; it’s what mature men did until quite recently. Sharing everything may feel good, ensconcing you in a miasma of warm & fuzzies, but it’s only a boomer & psychotherapy notion, and from the standpoint of traditional masculinity, it’s very self-indulgent and narcissistic, and ultimately projects a weak needy-ness. The only way out of this mess is to marry a young, unspoiled high quality woman, who is interested in having a traditional marriage. Paradoxically, if you marry a woman who is more traditional in outlook, you can be more vulnerable to her and wont need to game her as much because her hypergamy will be under tighter wraps, and she can be trusted not to abuse your confidences. Life, she’s ironic at times.

  4. I´ve had more & deeper intimacy as a single man that in LTRs. In my experience as soon as the LTR is established, a lot of walls go up and some serious negotiating starts, which is counter-intimacy. I dont doubt you can have intimacy and rules and stuff at the same time, if you marry and commit with the proper person and do all the work

    But, put simply, LTR/commitment and intimacy point in diverging directions. You get intimacy when you’re open and honest about your feelings and have nothing to lose, or have something to lose but you expose it anyway.

    When you’re “the man” with balls of steel you can be like that in short term relationships and flings and spinning plates… and it works. And for me it’s even better because it’s unnegotiated.

    Or in fewer words, I cosign what Badger said

  5. Fabulous post Badger.

    I think another proof of men’s desire for emotional connection with women is evident in the level of anger rejected men feel. If you didn’t want/have an emotional connection, there’s not going to be an emotional fallout when the relationship doesn’t happen/ends. Instead you see an even greater emotional fallout after relationships end in the men than the women. Men don’t have divorce parties… they consider suicide.

    Obviously some of that is the increased likelihood of getting screwed over at the end of a marriage, but it goes beyond that as well. The dumpee always feels worse than the dumper, and women do a lot more of the dumping.

  6. uria

    Excellent, one of the few texts in the pua/manosphere world that hits home very close to my personal lifestyle and philosophy (and the first one I am commenting on), one that I would like to describe as “stay hard, stay vulnerable”, or: “soft shell, hard core”, or the “primacy of tenderness”.

    You see, I have described myself repeatedly as “deviant”, “handicapped” or “unmanly” in that respect, that I put “tenderness” (my term for intimacy) first, even before sex (personally struggling with hangups regarding sex), while being convinced that it is a fundamental sign of strength when one can show vulnerability, and give intimacy (almost) without reservation.

    Girls sometimes ask me wide-eyed and with much wonder, roughly: “how can you be so tender / emotional / intimate even though we just met / have no-strings sex / without commiting?”.

    And I honestly tell them what I think: That I think it’s great to give and receive intimacy even if I think that this is the last time I will ever see that person in my life. That I always try to act as if it is the last time I see them.

    To try to build a deep connection even if it is for a few hours, that I always try to give everything, and hope to get everything.

    To savor the moment. That exclusivity doesn’t lie in the commitment to one exclusive person, but that every person and erotic relationship is exclusive and irreplacable in its own right, that the time I spend with one girl doesn’t “replace” the other girl, that it doesn’t devalue that special moment and connection.

    (The above of course always under the assumption that I am honestly attracted to her on all levels).

    May sound cheesy, and sometimes I have my doubts, but thats what I try to live.
    Yes it can also be seen as weak, but in my experience it can create a possibly life-long attraction where she keeps coming back, and maybe it’s an illusion, also a kind of attraction and commitment from her side that is quite unique.

    The caveat is that one must preserve that strong core and reservation of non-dependence on that person and its affection (in other words: beware of oneitis) – but the best antidote against this is polamory (plate spinning), autonomy and a strong sense of self-worth.

    Disclaimer: I would describe myself as largely too nice/beta, not very successful in pickup, and only recently I am starting to live this ideology in practice (again).

  7. Athor Pel

    One of the biggest mistakes I made in my failed marriage and with earlier girlfriends was that I treated them like I would a guy. To explain, I assumed they should have a certain level of self control and they should assume responsibility for their actions. I assumed those things would and should be there. I expected them to act like self controlled adults. I held them to the same standards as I would any other man. There’s one problem with that, they weren’t men.

    I didn’t pedestalized them but I didn’t exhibit much in the way of dominant behaviors either so as to attempt to curb bad behavior or set expectations for desirable behavior. I just let them do their own thing. You see, to exhibit dominant behavior to other guys is to invite conflict, whereas with women the designed response is eventual submission. I didn’t know that then.

    Here’s what I just realized.

    We all use our own mental model of our own mind in building what we imagine other people think. We have to do this in order to communicate, in order to empathize, in order to anticipate other’s needs or head off their misbehavior. To state it again, we build models of, or imagine, other people’s minds based on how our own mind works and on what we witness those other people doing and saying. I think this is called theory of mind.

    I noted how I, a man, would treat or deal with women like I would a man and it being a failure. Well, the converse of that is how women deal with men. They build mental models based on how they themselves think, which means they interpret men’s actions through a female lens. There’s another name for this, it’s called projection. What I’m describing, the building of mental models of other’s minds, is a part of projection. Projection being the assumption that your own weaknesses or sins are also the sins of another person and accusing that person of that sin.

    The real motivation for men’s actions are misinterpreted by many women. A man is polite, the average woman see this as acting from a postion of weakness. A man expresses frustration in a visibly emotional manner, the average woman sees this as a dangerous lack of self-control. And on and on…

    I think it’s mankind’s natural base state, we imagine everybody thinks like we do.

  8. deti

    This is the kind of tightrope men always have to walk. Women lament it when men aren’t emotionally available, then complain about their man being too needy and insecure when he does show vulnerability. Women say they want men to express emotions, then freak out when men are expressive. Women say they want men to invest in them but then reject that investment. The only men who do get to be expressive are sexy alphas.

    I’d like to see how women explain this. In most of the situations I’ve seen it called out, there are resounding cries of “misogyny”.

  9. Its a play of words. They want the alpha dude do express the love emotions for them. They dont want the needy dude to express his emotions. And they dont want the needy emotions from the alpha dude either.

    But what they really mean is they want the man to be able to read her emotions and take her to emotional places.

    That opposed to being a polite stiff beta whos always worried about offending.

  10. deti

    Yohami: this all reminds me of that post you gave to Dalrock a while ago. Women want the yummy emotions: drama, intrigue, mystery, rollercoaster/butterflies feelings. A man who gives them that turns her on. The woman wants to feel her emotions; she just doesn’t want the man feeling anything. Or at least she doesn’t want to see anything negative.

  11. deti

    When a woman says she wants emotional intimacy, she’s really saying she wants to be free to feel her emotions; and she wants a man to be there to hear/celebrate/receive/deal with/help her through the emotions and feelings while he either feels nothing or stifles his own feelings. He must create a safe space for her feelings while keeping his own feelings and emotions i away.

  12. that’s it. if he has any emotions of his own, they are welcome as long as they multiply whatever she wants to feel

    this is a seed + ground scenario. she’s the receptacle. but only willing to receive what she wants. if the seed contains unwanted emotions = bad seed

  13. wudang

    This other post by xsplat also elaborates on his point:

    If you read some Zan you will find similar stuff. He is more like a classical seducer of the Cassanova and Don Juan type.

    Also this explains a similar approach:

  14. FFY

    The final “transformation” of sorts for a man during the red pill journey is the final calibration-

    aloofness combined with the ability to connect emotionally.

    At first you withhold emotions, and as you continue to withhold them and become that emotional cypher that women crave (initially), it only reinforces your disconnect. Soon, emotions are just those things of hers that you play with. But, it’s an empty existence.

    Hopefully, the man continues his transformation, and realizes that there is plenty of room for emotions and openness as long as it they are coming from him in a position of strength and non-supplication.

    There are few joys greater than being with a woman whom you share an intimate and deep love with. However, it requires one to let down the walls a little bit.

    This post pertains to a lot of what I’ve been thinking lately as I believe I have come around to this transformation within the past couple months. Secure in her attraction for me, secure in my emotions.

    I may write about it at some point, but this was how me and CG broke up. The only time I’ve ever been dumped. I pushed her away continually, refused to let my walls down, and our relationshipp fizzled away as she depsaired that I didn’t even like her at all.

  15. Really appreciate all the commentary, guys – this clearly resonates with the readership. I’ll be responding more to some points in posts, but for the moment, I want to draw attention to the difference between being emotionally active/open, and “talking about your feelings.” They are different, and one significant skill in the gaming man’s toolbox is learning to be emotionally alive without making it about filling some emotional gap or need you have – you can be giving and evocative and intense and passionate without being needy and a sink of psychological resources. I concur with Xsplat that when done right it’s a more effective game strategy, if harder to pull off than straight aloofness.

    An analogy would be that you can have good food and drink as a part of your life, without making it all about filling your hunger need.

    One of the failures of modern parenting and society is in not giving young people, and men especially, the tools to understand this distinction and properly channel their emotional intensity. One place young men learn this is in sports, where it’s OK to celebrate each other’s successes and weep together in your failures. There’s a reason the “locker room” is a linguistic meme for a protected inner circle of male social order.

    Also want to bump Yohami’s point – “I´ve had more & deeper intimacy as a single man that in LTRs. In my experience as soon as the LTR is established, a lot of walls go up and some serious negotiating starts, which is counter-intimacy.”

    I had never thought of it exactly this way, but it’s true. The emotional adventure of a nascent romance is often and quickly extinguished by formalizing the arrangement, because then you begin charting up the exchange of obligations.

    Another reason both men and women today commonly get into FWB relationships instead of declared “boyfriend-girlfriend” setups.

  16. Another note: some of the things we describe as “intimate” in the culture aren’t necessarily so. Like dining in a nice restaurant – it’s ostensibly private, but it’s not at all necessarily intimate. It’s sitting quietly in a dark dining room. It’s not all that conducive to connection. In a lot of instances, going to a high-class restaurant is an exercise not in intimacy but in displaying status and wealth.

    Sex also is not necessarily intimate – plenty of times people are just fucking. Nothing wrong with that, but keep your concepts straight.

  17. Infantry

    Yes, it seems we are all on roughly the same page.

    As has been said by others its a zen balancing act of ‘feeling’ and being emotionally present, but without being needy. You can love, be giving, compliment and cuddle a girl (heh Roosh), but with the underlying frame that you don’t ‘need’ her.

    Part of my request for this is a girl that I’ve been seeing has intimacy issues from having a past abusive partner. I’ve been giving intimacy, but not getting it. I think I know how this is going to end.

    As an aside, if anyone hasn’t read Franco’s classic work on Neediness Management, I would suggest you google for it. Franco is a bit of a legend as he is a psychologist that used his powers for evil in the PUAsphere. He explained the basic human need for companionship. Its always a big trap for introverts when they need at least some validation from others (to not need it is sociopathic).

  18. just visiting

    Brilliant post! Your insights would explain a lot.

  19. Candide

    It’s really about having control of your emotions. The guy blabbing on about his feelings resulting in a LJBF, and the guy turning his feelings off to get the chix have the same problem: lack of control over his own emotions. You need to have mastery over your emotions.

    Also, there’s too much pop psych bullshit over sharing “vulnerabilities”. That is straight out of the feminine frame. Sharing vulnerabilities is what women do with men. Men, save that for your father, mentor, brother, best friend (male), priest and therapist – don’t blab to your girlfriend or wife. However, insidiously, men bonding with and supporting other men emotionally have been shamed as “gay” in the last few decades (while mainstream acceptance of homosexuality has improved significantly – the irony!). Previously, it was expected and socially encouraged, men had their own space and dealt with each other in their own way. Now, male spaces have been all but destroyed, mentorship is a thing of the past, and men are saving the motherload of emotional vulnerabilities for women they have a relationship with. A woman may enjoy the process of discovering a man’s vulnerabilities (so she can set her hooks in him) but she doesn’t want that level of responsibility! Her man is her rock & oak tree, not her child needing nurturing and protection. This makes the man emotionally dependent on the woman, and that’s the worst possible place for him to be in. Those men are always miserable to the point of being suicidal after breakup.

    Regarding culture, I think the modern mainstream urban WASP culture produces very timid, emotionally weak people with intimacy issues over the last few generations (tail end of X, whole of Y and Millenials). It shows in very basic social situations like meeting & talking to strangers at social events. They can’t manage their own emotions, so they either stay completely closed off, or way too open too soon (binary switch).

  20. deti

    “I want to draw attention to the difference between being emotionally active/open, and “talking about your feelings”.”

    Yes. The first is living your life. The second is psychotherapy.

  21. It’s encouraging to see such insightful riffs off my post, in the article and comments. I’ve been spending so much time in the PUA manosphere that it had started to appear as if male emotional sensitivity was a lost art. It’s always a relief when experience is common after all.

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  24. Clarence

    I disagree somewhat with Candide.
    Or maybe I should say I’m in basic agreement BUT:
    There’s no sense in getting close to a woman if you can’t share some of your vulnerabilities without worrying she will stab you in the back. Even in the past, men confided in their wives in ways they often wouldn’t with other men. She’s your wife, and presumably in your most intimate circle.
    The Key I’ve always taken from this is from Roissy: it’s ok and even expected to be “beta” some of the time, just not MOST of the time.
    In short, you don’t have to be a perfect aloof “Alpha” all of the time, and if I was to run into a woman who disdained all “weakness” in men, I’d run the other way. I’m a man, a human being, not a God – and I have no desire to be some girls God.

  25. kevin

    I’ve read enough of your posts to trust your logic. In regards to making the 1st move, it use to be natural for me. I ended up with a wonderful wife with whom I treated with faith & honor. But in our 6th year of marriage, I developed epilepsy. She divorced me shortly there after. Its been 4 years since I’ve even attempted to start a new relationship. In that time frame I’ve rejected several lovely ladies because I believe they can’t deal with my condition. After years of amazing sex with amazing women, I now feel they can’t be there for me when times are bad. How can I learn to trust a new lover again? I don’t know if you make responses or not, but your advice would be greatly appreciated.

  26. kevin

    I’ve read enough of your posts to trust your logic. In regards to making the 1st move, it use to be natural for me. I ended up with a wonderful wife with whom I treated with faith & honor. But in our 6th year of marriage, I developed epilepsy. She divorced me shortly there after. Its been 4 years since I’ve even attempted to start a new relationship. In that time frame I’ve rejected several lovely ladies because I believe they can’t deal with my condition. After years of amazing sex with amazing women, I now feel they can’t be there for me when times are bad. How can I learn to trust a new lover again? I don’t know if you make responses or not, but your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    would be greatly appreciated.

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