Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Mad Science: How to Meet Women

Friday Mad Science is back!
The Internet blew up earlier this week with talk of “pickup artists” and “How to talk to a woman wearing headphones.”  Folks have spent the week running down men for wanting to meet women, and in the long run, I do not think that this is in anyone’s best interests.  The problem is not that men and women do not need to meet and even get together, it’s that there is a right and a wrong way to do everything, and right now, dudes are reading a shitload of bad information.  Blame technology, the PC police, the Baby Boomers, or whomever you’d like.  Whatever the reason, what we have now is an entire class of people who have no clue whatsoever how to speak to the opposite sex.  
It’s become a serious problem, apparently.

Amazingly, it now falls to me to set the record straight.  Why me?  Because I’m sick and tired of all these lily-livered, half-hearted attempts to ostensibly help these men who, let’s face it, badly need to a bit of guidance in the matters of love and romance.  The guys I’m talking about know that you’re condescending to them when you speak; this is why they’re not listening.  They nevertheless have not the first clue how to make the right changes in their lives to change their circumstances.  More to the point, the way you keep browbeating them is not helping at all.  It just makes them more defensive, which in turn widens the gap, breathing more life into future misogyny.  It’s way easier to hate people that you don’t understand, especially when those people hate you back.
I am not some master pickup artist, but I’ve been married twice, both times to astonishingly beautiful women.  I have a great marriage now, which I enjoy enormously despite living with a wife, two daughters, and a girl dog.  I am radically outnumbered by females!  What’s notable about that is that I graduated from West Point, where I swam competitively all four years, meaning that I spent my formative years underwater in what was essentially a stone male-dominated monastery, constantly doing manly things with other men.  By rights, my social skills ought to lie somewhere between George S. Patton’s and Ryan Lochte’s.  And yet here we are.  I submit that I really do have something to say on the subject of “How to Meet Women.”  
You may not like this post, but I promise you that it is going to be the real deal.
1. Jettison your expectations.  I’ll explain via analogy:
Porn: Real Sex :: Star Wars: Real Space Flight
Just as watching Star Wars teaches nothing about traveling through space, porn teaches nothing about real human interactions.  In both cases, the former are mindless fantasies while the later are serious business.  In both cases, we see roughly analogous settings, but that’s about as far as the similarities go.  Thinking otherwise is obvious stupidity, and yet people have a real hang-up about porn.  We all realize that Luke Skywalker is not real, but if he takes off his clothes, suddenly he has something to teach us?
No.  That’s obviously not correct.
Men, you have to turn the porn off.  If you’re reading this, then yes, that applies to you.  This is not because of morality.  I don’t care about that, at least not for the purposes of this article[1].  The real problem is that porn is warping your fucking brain, especially if you’re young enough that you’ve never actually done the things you’re watching on your computer screen.  You set yourself up with toxic expectations, which in turn trigger a nasty negative feedback loop because NO ONE WANTS TO BE YOUR FUCKING SEX TOY!
No one--man or woman--wants to be your toy at all, which you’d realize if you thought about it for a moment or two.  Imagine your best male friend’s reaction when you try to degrade him for your own personal amusement.  “Here Bob, let me spray this whip cream all over your face…”  That’s probably not going to happen, am I right?  Not voluntarily, anyway.  
Now imagine that this supposed friend is female and that you just met her.
Do you see where I’m going with this?  Sex makes people incredibly vulnerable.  This actually is true for men and women both, but if you’re reading this, you may not have realized it just yet.  Hell, you probably just want to get laid, so you can look cool in front of your friends.  Dude, those friends are idiots.  Real relationships--even casual ones--have significant emotional consequences.  This is because of a hormone called oxytocin, which acts as a natural emotional binding agent during and immediately after coitus.  Despite what you’ve heard, oxytocin makes truly casual sex virtually impossible.  Yes, that’s really true.  I get that you’re too stubborn and too stupid to see it right now, but it’s your refusal to acknowledge reality that’s holding you back.  
You need to think of women as regular people.  Jettison your expectations about them.  Otherwise, you’re going to drive folks crazy, yourself included.  
Men, don’t be that guy.  No one likes That Guy.
2. Figure out what you like to do and do it.  Sun Tzu said, If you know your enemy, and you know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles.  Of course, this being America, people quote the general constantly without having the first fucking clue what he was actually talking about.  Sun Tzu spent about four chapters setting up that most famous sentence, but people constantly go for the money shot out-of-context, and here we are.  It’s the porn problem all over again, this time applied to the topic of self-awareness.
This section of On War discusses combat in two ways: in terms of defense (know yourself) and offense (know your enemy).  The pickup artist method is all offense.  They’re trying to teach you to know your enemy and attack without having reflected first on what your own strengths and weaknesses are.  Thus, would be pickup artists charge into battle heedlessly, picking up “defeats” as often as “victories”--just as Sun Tzu predicts.  This is why they engage constantly.  Because they are assholes, yes, but also because they are trying to play the odds.  A five percent success rate applied two thousand times still looks cool when you’re talking to a bunch of fucking idiots.
As Sun Tzu counsels, I urge you to Know Yourself first.  Though On War puts this in terms of strategic and tactical strengths and weaknesses, I would argue that the issue is one of long-term happiness here in real life.  Do what you like to do, meet the people who also like to do the things you like to do, and if one (or more) of them seem interesting, those are the people you should consider dating.  They share your interests, and you already know them.  These things are what make them potentially suitable.
You’re thinking, “But Dan, I only like to sit around behind the Quick-E-Mart and smoke out.  And play Call of Duty in my basement.  There aren’t any girls there.”
You see how THIS is your problem, yes?  To experience real life, you have to EXPERIENCE REAL LIFE.  This is always true, but it’s super, especially true in the matter of meeting women.
This is where Knowing Yourself comes in. You have to find something that you like to do, that other people also like to do, and you then have to get out there and do it and be social. That is how you meet people who will find you interesting.  Speaking personally, I like to run and work out, and it should therefore come as no surprise that I met my wife at a running club. Our first date was a three-mile run.  Why did this work?  Because we both enjoy running!  Our date was terrific because we were doing something we both like to do.
Now, I know what you're thinking.  "Dan, man, that sounds like a lot of work."
No shit, dumbass.  Seventy-five percent of human literature is about love, sex, or dating, and you thought it would be simple?  That’s so stupid that it actually makes me feel sorry for you.  Seriously, pull your head out of your ass.  You can’t just sit on your couch and expect girls to just show up.  The girls who do that are called prostitutes, and they don’t do that because they like you.  If you want to meet Real Women you have to GET OFF YOUR ASS.
This is not complicated, but it’s also not something you can do effortlessly.  If you lead a life that’s worth living, however, other people will want to be a part of it.  If you don’t take an interest in yourself, though, nobody else is going to, either.

3. Take pride in yourself.  This goes with the previous point, but it’s more about attitude than self-reflection.  In marketing, there’s a concept called a “Value Proposition”.  A business’s value proposition is the unique thing that it offers to customers.  For example, why do we shop at Walmart?  Because they have the lowest prices.  Why do we buy Lexus cars?  Because they communicate financial status.  Every time we engage a business, we do so because we are attracted by their value proposition.
Men, you need to find your own value proposition, work at it, and take justifiable pride in your place in society.  Decide what you have to offer to the world, and offer it.  Own it.  Let people see you owning it.  
Confidence is sexy.
It’s worth noting here that girls aren’t necessarily looking for you to show off.  The fact that you made Junior Nationals as a swimmer does not entitle you to a girlfriend.  In fact, though I’ve won quite a few swimming races in my time, I’ve never had a girl throw herself at me just because I won a race.  Even my own wife doesn’t really care whether I win or lose.  What matters to her is that I have the confidence and the self-discipline to set goals and then go after them.  My wife cares that I approach life from a position of emotional strength, that I have enough faith in myself to tackle problems head-on and to believe when I do that I’m going to succeed in the face of adversity.  I learned this through swimming, but you could just as easily get these same lessons out of managing the Dungeons and Dragons game at your local library.  You just have to make that game as great as you can and then allow yourself to feel pride in what you’ve built.  Make it awesome, and own your success.
When you approach dating from a position of emotional self-assurance, you gain the ability to face rejection without losing your fucking mind.  You’ll know that a woman who says no isn’t a “bitch”.  She’s just looking for someone or something else, or maybe she doesn’t know what she wants.  Here’s a hint: women don’t always make good choices, either.  In any event, rejection doesn’t change who you are, which you’d know if you had any pride in what you’ve accomplished outside of dating.

4. Don’t be an asshole.  This is good advice for many circumstances, but it especially makes sense in dating.  When people speak, we either lift others up, or we tear them down.  This is true in almost all human interactions.  Before you speak, ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to say going to make people feel better about themselves or worse?”  If the answer is worse, don’t say it!  Find a way to make the same point, but do it in a way that makes others feel better about themselves.  Do this ALL THE TIME.
Yes, there are times to hurt feelings.  Strive to keep those times to a minimum.  You will not find love by shattering others’ self-worth.
Imagine the emotional impact for a woman who sleeps with you after you’ve beaten her down emotionally.  You’ll have taken something that should be intimate and beautiful and turned it painful and humiliating.  The act itself will become a joyless, rote, self-loathing bodily exercise that she may regret for years afterwards.  If you can live with yourself after something like that, you need therapy.
Don’t be that guy.  Nobody likes That Guy.
Be positive and build people up.  Be happy for their successes.  Listen to their opinions and acknowledge it when they make a point.  If you find yourself waiting for the others to finish speaking so you can hurry up and speak next, please—for the love of all that’s holy—knock that shit off.
Most people don’t listen, they wait to talk.  This is annoying as all Hell.  Don’t be that guy.  No one likes to feel like the things they say have no value.  This is especially true of would be romantic partners.
If you are in a group situation where you and others are doing something that you all enjoy, and you are the uplifting guy that everyone likes because you have both hard-won self-confidence and a relentlessly positive attitude, I guarantee that you will meet women who find you attractive.  This does not guarantee a hook-up, but it is one example of how worthwhile relationships often begin.

5. Relationships are a team effort.  Do yourself a favor, and stop thinking about your own needs.  The hard truth is that nobody gives a rat’s ass what you want for yourself.  As we learned in Fight Club, you are not some special snowflake.  Your special needs don’t matter to anyone.  At all.  
For real, no one cares.
“But this is really important to me!” is a good argument for exactly nothing.  It’s time for you to get over yourself.
I mention this because it explains why relationships fail.  This is true for friendships, loves, group dynamics, whatever.  Over time, people get wrapped up in their own crap, and they either stop thinking about others, or they take the support of others for granted, and those others move on with their lives.  Pretty soon, life becomes a lonely, miserable slog.  Folks naturally want to blame their friends or whatever, but the fault lies within themselves.  They’ve placed their own needs above the group’s, and pretty soon they’re on their own.  This occurs even in groups of two, when the rest of the group is just a lonely spouse who feels abandoned in his or her own marriage.  It’s sad, but this is really what happens.  Now that I’m in my forties, I see it all the time.
This is my least favorite thing about America.  We’ve built the Cult of the Individual to epic proportions, made greed a virtue, and quit asking what our communities need from us.  Which is no way to go through life, and indeed, here we are.  People are depressed in epic proportions.  I say, “Society sucks!” and people just take it as a given and move on.
That’s not good enough.
As men, we are approaching this “hook up” thing from entirely the wrong perspective.  Dudes are wondering “How do I get mine?” when they should be wondering, “How do I give to those who need me in their lives?”  
Truth is, if you are a badass, giving man, women will find you.  They can’t wait to find you.  Odds are, though, that you’re a selfish asswipe who can’t get off couch, and now you’re wondering why the world won’t give you a break.  I’ll tell you why right now.  It’s because no one gives a shit about you!  Why should they?  You offer the world shit, so you get shit in return.  This is not complicated.
You want more?  Then BE more.
Find a way to make a difference and make it.  Do it for yourself, for your own sense of self-worth, but do it because it needs doing, too.  Put others first.  Earn their respect by making positive contributions to programs that matter.  To other people.  This is the key to living a happy, fulfilling life, for all that our modern society has lost the thread.  Reality is that people need to feel needed.  Fix that within yourself, and everything else will fall into place.

[1] Adults are free to make their own mistakes, but human trafficking is serious business.  Porn is one of those places where the lines gets blurred, unfortunately, and what’s worse is that there’s a whole subculture of men who like to watch kinky, humiliating shit.  I personally think this encourages sociopathy, but I’m an engineer and occasional freelance writer, not an actual psychologist.

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