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July 02, 2008

Comments

"one of the main effective strategies for attracting women is learning to project entitlement: To convey that you expect a woman to wish to have sex with you."

It seems like you are suggesting that expectation and entitlement are the same thing. But projecting confident expectations is different than projecting an attitude of desert. I am not sure how this impacts your larger point.

I'm comfortable saying that in this context expectation and entitlement are the same thing.

"Entitlement" to me strongly connotes feelings of resentment or condemnation toward someone who rejects you.

Other than that, though, sounds exactly right. Although there are surely many other reasons nerds are unattractive at first.

could you like compile a pdf of your blog or something?

i try to read it but i get distracted by tags and sidebars and links and can't follow all your philosophical musings.

might just be me.

Your post implies that the people who are advocating "realistic methods" for attracting women (the pickup and seduction community) are not "paying lip service" to the rules of social politeness. This is emphatically not true: conditioned on their level of sexual success, they are basically straight-edge.

meta comment: Tom McCabe has compiled a single page, though consisting only of Eliezer's posts.

This posting feels like truth to me (after having read lots of relevant stuff), although that could be just confirmation bias talking...

This is a little tangential to the thrust of the post, but it flares up in my mind whenever this oft-repeated topic comes up. It is standard, in these discussions, for someone pseudo-wisely to point out something like the following: "'Nice guys' are actually just selfish, manipulative pricks trying to trade favors, gifts, and counselling services for sex, then getting upset when the woman doesn't see fit to make such an exchange." Yet they continue to use the label "Nice Guy" to refer to such a male, thereby snuffing out the very possibility of men who are actually just nice, as if they never existed in the first place. This reminds me of the brain-stopping pseudo-wisdom that asserts "Atheism is a faith-based religion," which, to me, serves instantly to drain the intelligence out of a theological discussion.

You should not use the label "Nice Guy" to refer to such men, because in so doing, you co-opt the whole category of men who are nice, and obliterate it. Please, someone coin a different, and clear label for the manipulative ones with the sense of entitlement! I know many men who are nice according to the common meaning of the word: friendly, non-aggressive, respectful, polite, non-threatening, helpful, cooperative, and yes, comparitively less sexualized than the typical alpha male. When I think of these men as a whole, they have varied degrees of sexual success, but I would characterize the successes as being geared more toward longer-term relationships than short-term. This is a complex topic, and one I find it extremely difficult to make meaningful generalizations about, but if I must: I generally do not perceive these men being "turned down" by women for not being sexually attractive. What I do see is that these men do not clearly convey sexual interest to women, and so it is no surprise that in not asking, they do not receive.

If you actually look at the pickup artist (PUA) literature (which I have been doing for the last few days), you will see that most of what they advocate boils down to engaging in a friendly but not overly sexual manner and using verbal and nonverbal cues to project confidence and comfortable, enjoyable presence. The advice is not to overtly escalate levels of sexual tension until the woman signals acceptance. Absolutely key to this endeavor is not appearing either entitled or needy. (Much of the language surrounding this advice is wretchedly misogynistic, and many of the specific techniques seem deceptive to me. Leaving that aside...)

In short, "Only express sexual interest in those women who you are confident are interested in you, prior to that, always be polite," is almost correct from the PUA point of view. Just strike "polite" and replace with "engaging", and add a dollop of skill at interpreting body language to determine a woman's level of relaxation and interest.

"Engaging" doesn't come naturally to everyone -- this is most of the PUA's "outer game". The PUAs also have an "inner game", which basically amounts to mental exercises to avoid becoming overly emotionally invested in the idea of having a romantic relationship with any one specific woman before confirming her interest.

I'll leave my own personal first-person perspective on romance from a male nerd point of view for another post.

Nick Tarleton, thanks. I can "lowlight" all the links from that webpage. I can't seem to process all the out-of-frame information in today's Internet.

Nick_Tarleton: I don't see how you are agreeing with this, when I made a similar point before: "Nice Guys" cannot be differentiated from "Bad Boys" on the grounds that the former feel entitled -- the latter do as well!

"Niceness" is totally tangential to sexual attractiveness for both men and women. The things that make a guy generally attractive to most women are pretty well understood. Characters played by Will Smith or Georgy Cloony in films tend to display these characteristics. These things have nothing to do with "niceness".

Are some people, both male and female, more generally attractive to the opposite sex (or the same sex, if that's what you're going for) then other people? Yes. Is this fair? No. But that's how life works.

Now as Nick_Tarleton said, entitlement implies resentment towards women who reject you. That's just stupid. The truth is that there are no steps X Y Z that will make any woman fall in love with you (or at least put out). Women are not interchangeable. Each one has a different set of memories/biases/subconscious images that cause her to be attracted to one person and not another. And the idea that there should be an X Y Z that will cause any woman to be attracted to you (unless there's something wrong with HER of course) is just plain insulting.

Andy Wood: the term you're looking for is "Nice Guy(TM)". The "(TM)" is what distinguishes an actually nice person from the person who thinks that, because he adheres to minimal standards of decency, the universe owes him a girlfriend.

Also, I really synthesize with shy, timid guys who have trouble asking girls out. Really. But think of this from a woman's point of view. I won't claim to speak for all women or all men but I think women's sexuality is a bit different from men's. Most men can enjoy casual sex with any reasonably pretty woman. For many/most woman, on the other hand, I think a considerably deeper level of respect, trust and attraction for her partner is necessary to enjoy sex. This is why there are few male prostitutes with a female clientelle. It's not that lots of women arn't sexually frustrated. It 's just that having sex with a random man (and especially a man who has sex for money) is well, unsexy even if he is physically attractive.

This makes many women (ok, me) really skittish even when they are attracted to a man that is making advances on them. If you are are a reasonably pretty young women, there are lots of men making passes at you. Many of these will dump you as soon as you put out. And if you get attached to the guy emotionally (which is nessesary for many women to enjoy sex) that really hurts.

This situation is exacerbated by pick up artists and society's generally negative views towards promiscuous women. There is a good chance that the guy won't just dump you, he'll also laugh at you behind your back to his friends.

This means that single women will generally have less sex then they might want. SInce women, on average want less sex then men, this means that there are lots of frustrated guys.

Basically what Doug said/

Alas, that seems to convey that the description "nice guy" always has a hidden or implied "TM" affixed to it. It is analogous to the derogatory term "feminazi", where the effect is not to create a distinct category, but to tarnish that which is described by the word "feminist." I realize that they could be intended and interpreted either way, but it seems to be just begging for clumsy thinking. Can't we just say something like "sore losers", and leave the nice guys out of it entirely?

"Alas, that seems to convey that the description 'nice guy' always has a hidden or implied "TM" affixed to it."

Only when capitalized, I think.

Terminology has a way of becoming entrenched no matter how inappropriate, sadly enough, and Nice Guy(TM) is fairly entrenched. The term is meant to call attention to the fact that the archetypical Nice Guy(TM) mistakenly thinks of himself as a nice person.

The truth is that there are no steps X Y Z that will make any woman fall in love with you (or at least put out). Women are not interchangeable. Each one has a different set of memories/biases/subconscious images that cause her to be attracted to one person and not another. And the idea that there should be an X Y Z that will cause any woman to be attracted to you (unless there's something wrong with HER of course) is just plain insulting.

Jade, these words of yours should be printed on glossy paper and handed out to every male nerd entering high school.

Because nerds want clear instructions for how to do things. If no clear instructions are available, this needs to be indicated in large red letters. I also suspect that most nerds may just not believe it, when it is set side by side next to all the literature telling them what women want - but if they remember your advice, at least that might make them less bitter after their first failure. (Don't know about their twentieth failure, though, they might still get pretty bitter by then.)

After skimming various discussions about this elsewhere on the web, I gather there is a general move towards surrendering the phrase "nice guy" as a lost cause, and choosing a new label such as "kind men" or "good guys" to describe actually nice guys. I can live with that.

"Only express sexual interest in those women who you are confident are interested in you, prior to that, always be polite."

This seems to contain the hidden assumption that expressing sexual interest is necessarily not polite. False! It can be polite or impolite depending on how or where it is done. I regret that many introverted, timid men have absorbed this mistake, because it was most likely not what their parents attempted to teach, and if you sit down and hash this out with the most radical feminist you can find you will also discover that it is not what they advocate.

Maybe they believe, with reason even, that such men are 'boys', not 'men', and find this unattractive (ultimately because it was and still is evolutionarily unfit).

This is pretty much where your post went off the rails. People do not employ a cognitive fitness-maximizer in mate selection. Or anywhere else. From this point on, the post ceases to deal with evolutionary psychology, and instead becomes Evolutionary Psychology(TM), which the archetypical Nice Guy mistakenly thinks of as insight.

@Jade: "The truth is that there are no steps X Y Z that will make any woman fall in love with you (or at least put out). Women are not interchangeable. Each one has a different set of memories/biases/subconscious images that cause her to be attracted to one person and not another. And the idea that there should be an X Y Z that will cause any woman to be attracted to you (unless there's something wrong with HER of course) is just plain insulting."

@Eliezer: "Jade, these words of yours should be printed on glossy paper and handed out to every male nerd entering high school."

"Everyone is different" is mostly a mental stopsign. To the extent that commonalities exist it seems worthwhile to find out what they are. Even if a pattern is valid only 65% of the time, it is useful to know about it. Assuming it applies 100% of the time would be a mistake, but ignoring it completely would be an even greater mistake.

This is pretty much where your post went off the rails. People do not employ a cognitive fitness-maximizer in mate selection. Or anywhere else. From this point on, the post ceases to deal with evolutionary psychology, and instead becomes Evolutionary Psychology(TM), which the archetypical Nice Guy mistakenly thinks of as insight.

It was obvious to me that that sentence is saying there's a specific adaptation to find 'boys' unattractive, not postulating conscious fitness-maximization.

Speaking of which - Michael, do you think this is purely self-supporting sexual selection, or is 'boyish' behavior unfit for some other reason, like submissiveness?

Michael, what about a more conventional explanation for nerdiness in dating?

Women evolved to become attracted to socially and genetically superior men in a tribal setting. Tribes were closely-knit and largely involuntary groups of people. Individuals could not safely express themselves as being higher status than they were.

To me, that situation is very similar to the compulsory school system in the USA. As the common stereotype goes, nerds are abused in school and kept in low status by dominant males, which effectively prevents them from accessing females. I would think many nerds never "unlearn" their status in this tribal environment, of if they do it takes a long time to do so. They continue to display signs of low status long after they've left their "tribe", which keeps them from being successful in dating.

I wonder if there is any correlation between "nice guy"-ness and tribal childhood environments, such as compulsory schooling vs. homeschooling? If this is a contributing factor, the solution is at least obvious.

Jade, I'm not sure I follow your logic, since most timid guys are generally much less likely to dump a woman they are with. They simply have few or no options for sex, have presumably always have few or no options, and so aren't likely to be the sort of people to engage in one night stands. I know quite a few nerds, and I don't know a single one who has dumped a woman after she "put out" (and I don't think they refrained from this because they were "nice" - most aren't, except towards certain women - its just old-fashioned self-interest).

Most people, men and women, have relationships with their friends or friends of friends. Nerds tend to have far fewer women in their social networks. If all men found themselves in a similar situation, having to seek out women on their own rather than be introduced to them, the human race would cease to exists in a couple of generations. The problem is that nerds cluster. Make friends outside your social group (male or female) and attend "pointless" social gatherings. You'll meet eligible women eventually.

I think that almost every guy that tries to attract a woman acts nice in the sense of being pleasant and non threatening, at least to her. The ones that don't are seen as stalkers and get no where.

Being genuinely kind, generous and empathetic certainly helps forming healthy and mutually happy long-term relationships. NO one wants to marry a self centered, misogynistic prick. For short term relationships, its less important since both parties are in it for eachother's superficial sexiness anyway.

A younger nerd friend of mine described a game he and other nerds played in college. Go to a bar, and see who can be the first guy to rack up ten rejections from women. Had I known about this game, I can't help but think my college years would have been much more enjoyable.

On the other hand I would say jerkiness helps in getting short term sex (which is what the study in the previous post was saying). This is where pick up artistry comes in. I'd say that there are three possible categories of women that can be picked up for short term sex.

1. Horny girls in bars who are too drunk to care.

2. Women looking for long term relationships that can be tricked into one night stands.

3. women interested NSA sex.

These categories overlap, of course. For example the sex in the city girls were both 1 and 2 (and sometimes 3).

For 1. its basically a numbers game. And some jerkyness helps it it makes you not care that some/many of these women will regret it the next morning.

For 2. you need to be a jerk to knowingly deceive someone into thinking that you will stick around while you have no intention of doing so. Also if it turns out that the guy is generally good (not a jerk), this category of women would be interested in perusing something longer term, leading to the guy having fewer sexual partners in studies.

FOr 3. there are far fewer women looking for NSA sex then men at any given time. THus, a women who is interested can afford to be very picky. SUch a woman is trying to maximize her own satisfaction and not give out some sort of prize for good behavior. SHe will go with the guy she finds sexiest. Confidence, dominance, with and talent are sexy to women. This should not be news. I think pick up artistry helps men approximate these qualities to a parter who has no interest in sticking around to find out who he really is anyway. On the other hand, I think learning those sorts of techniques makes it significantly harder to form happy long term relationships. Long term relationships are all about getting close to the other person emotionally. This is not going to happen if one partner is playing games.

Jade: For many/most woman ... a considerably deeper level of respect, trust and attraction for her partner is necessary to enjoy sex. ... It 's just that having sex with a random man ... is well, unsexy even if he is physically attractive. This makes many women (ok, me) really skittish even when they are attracted to a man that is making advances on them. ... Many of these will dump you as soon as you put out. ... This situation is exacerbated by pick up artists and society's generally negative views towards promiscuous women. There is a good chance that the guy won't just dump you, he'll also laugh at you behind your back to his friends.

The irony is that when women choose the men who are the most relaxed, confident, smooth, and experienced, and wait for men to approach them instead of vice versa, they exactly choose the men most likely to dump and laugh. If you main concern were really to avoid that you'd do far better to call a man at random from the yellow pages. So either women are doing a terrible job at choosing what they want, or they don't really want what they say they want.

I meant:

The sex in the city girls were both 2 and 3 (and sometimes 1)

Social hierarchies start way before puberty, stay pretty consistent, and pretty much predict who girls will find more attractive.

Looks and extroversion are what matters, and its likely that by puberty, nerds have already become bitter.
Now there are social dynamics that people will use to signal the inferiority of somebody else in this zero sum game. In high schools, which probably are the best model of our tribal mating tendencies as they involve a small dense social network, you see people making alliances to keep seemingly capable males from climbing the social ladder, with both males and females risking some kind of ostracism if they interact with this person. I think the equilibrium is to have a group, just large enough and cohesive enough, and universally recognized as attractive enough to pull this off.

When people graduate from high schools, networks become looser, and it all goes back to looks and extroversion with alliances playing a comparatively smaller role.

@Elieser: "Because nerds want clear instructions for how to do things"

Actually thats the answer to why overcoming bias is predominantly male. This whole project is all about systematizing the ways in which people are irrational. This is useful, though perhaps not the best way to figure out how brains work in general. It also appeals most to a very specific kind of brain ( people who want clear instructions for everything) which is found much more often among males then females.

What a waste of time. While you are here writing about it, I'm out getting it.

So, I have a question for this hypothetical man who can't get a date: is he interested in having more sex? Or maximizing his lifetime reproductive fitness? Birth control and women's rights have managed to decouple these two variables pretty effectively.

Obviously, different cultural groups even within the U.S. have different expectations about the role that a child's father will play in a child's life, but within the cultural groups that most nerds come from, it is still true that the vast majority of births take place within the context of marriage.

The issue of whether Bad Boys or Nice Guys are preferred within a particular cultural group will not be settled unless we examine who actually reproduces.

WTF,

Booyah!! Oh, snap!

I would say what the whole PUA scene basically does is identifying biases with regard to dating in women and capitalize on them. As for the nerds wanting to have a script to go by, there may be some truth to that, but then again what self respecting nerd reads the manual instead of figuring it out himself, no matter how long it will take? Problem in dating is, you generally get only one short shot at figuring out with a given woman so the strategy of throwing more resources towards figuring the deal out must fail in general. There are scripts out there, but without a lot of alertness and confidence as well as flexibility, they probably are pretty damn near useless.

Nick T: Definitely submissiveness or other cognitive vulnerabilities. More submissiveness to rules and nonsense claims made by the local shaman or chief than to stronger men, but selectively costly either way and that's probably too much perceptual/conceptual precision to ask of an evolved tendency in any event.

Grant: Plausible hypothesis, but here are a few points that count somewhat against it.
a) Most contemporary schools are much larger than most ancestral tribes in absolute population and ridiculously larger in same age population.
b) The phenomenon exists in schools where there is essentially no abuse by dominant males. Some schools segregate out into cliques with minimal inter-clique interaction and minimal hostility. In these cases cliques start gender exclusive and then merge a couple years after puberty, but in ways that produce gender imbalance in the resultant cliques.

1. Jade has said something very important. The culture has seriously changed. SATC was a bright line. Younger women now just wanna hook up for casual, no-strings stuff just as men do, not only due to the pill and IVF, but also due to the equal pressures of school and career. In this sense, most women under 30 are now effectively adopting behavior more commonly associated in the past with gay males. Later on, they have even more options:

'If I can just make it through law school, I can freeze my eggs, choose a sperm donor and have a baby whenever I want on my own terms -- I don't need a relationship to have my desired child, in fact, by using a sperm donor I can get myself a "designer baby." I can afford a nanny, so why burden myself with the difficulties of an uncertain marriage?'

2. Nerds could get a lot more women than they do, but they -- this is my theory -- internalize their own abjection and pre-reject women who show any interest in them. "If everyone else says I'm ugly but you like me, then there must be something wrong with you."

I seem to be talking too much, but another thing. I think its important to realize that when you feel love/lust, your brain is messing with you. A lot of things that most people consider sexy are relics from when we lived a very different life. Being attracted to dominant males made sence when your best chance for survival was to have an efficient killing machine on your side. Its stupid now. Likewise, now beautiful people are no more likely to be healthy or fertile then average looking or mildly ugly people. On the other hand, it used to be a useful indecator when a large portion of the population was either parasite ridden or to malnurished in childhood to ever bear healthy children.

Love can be a beautiful thing. How many people have someone who is neither a child or a former sexual parter care about them then they become old crazy and incontenant? SOme do but its not the norm. And having your brain mess with you can be fun too. People are willing to take all sorts of risks to take drugs that will make them extra irrational for a while. And having a sexual relationship with someone you are not even mildly attracted to can be soul crushing.

That said, people should realize that the person they are most attracted to is not nessesarily the best person for them. Awkward unatractive boys and up with aekward unatractive girls. It would be better for both if they would quit being so bitter about it.

@Jade

"Awkward unatractive boys and up with aekward unatractive girls."

And here alas we must part ways. I have always sought primarily intelligence and kindness in my partners; thus I have deeply loved several "nerds." I will most politely dispute any characterization of myself as awkward or unattractive. Are emoticons allowed here?

I can't speak for other women, but what I look for personally is someone who is aware that I am a human being just like himself and treats me accordingly. It's just not going to work out with someone who sees me as either some sort of incomprehensible talking service animal or a Pez dispenser for blow jobs. It's also useful if he's not terrified of me, which may also be part of the stereotypical nerd problem.

Nice Guys(TM) fundamentally objectify women. To them we are a class of appliances (that aren't doing what they want). They don't really have any interest in us as people. This is absolutely no different from a sleazy "bad boy" except that they lack the sleaze skills.

Erika, almost none of the interest in sex from the men here stems from a deliberate goal of maximizing one's lifetime reproductive fitness.

"It's just not going to work out with someone who sees me as either some sort of incomprehensible talking service animal or a Pez dispenser for blow jobs."

That's too bad.

@hollerith

Very drily put.

And since this is my last post here let me suggest those still-anguished nerds read & ponder Stendhal's "On Love," Kierkegaard's "Diary of a Seducer," and of course de Laclos' "Liasions Dangereuses." Bonus points to those who will flip through Baudrillard's "Seduction," to skip the lit theory and actually read the chapter on seduction as a mental martial art.

Phillip Huggan: Don't be a jerk.
Kim: You really did start it, by simply reasserting the stereotype that the post was a rebuttal to.

All: Honestly I had hoped that this thread could be more productive. Thanks for trying Frelkins and Jade. I for one am convinced though that this forum doesn't actually work effectively for discussion of this topic and am ready to give up and maybe go back to trying to put something together on our usual topics.

I would think that the evolutionary theory behind "being entitled" would come down to a last ditch attempt to prompt action towards *taking* sex. In an evolutionary sense, you have less and less to lose by using force the longer you go without having sex. That may of meant challenging the other alphas, etc. Entitlement is just the feeling that "I should have it too! Why don't I?" that prompts "I'm going to go get it!"

That is, however, assuming that not having sex actually leads to feeling entitled to it regardless of other common factors (nerds and such having certain traits in common that may lead to a sense of entitlement, such as "I have a big brain and it got me everything else, why not women? It should!").

I'm not so sure that a generic sense of entitlement is feasible to gain more sex; more accurately, the positive expectation based on previous outcomes would signal would be attractive while entitlement is better defined as expecting but not receiving. You do see this fairly often. On one hand you have the confident player guy who has had repeated success and is actually surprised, but generally uncaring, in being rejected. And in the other, you have the guy who believes he deserves it because of entitlement, not success. His failures hits him deeper because of his entitlement.

It's the difference between "I deserve it" and "I get it". Deserving is a poorer signal while "getting it" carries better information.

Michael: If you mean this forum doesn't work for discussion of the "Nice Guy" topic in particular, I would agree. I think it amounts to arguing about a stereotype, and therefore is about as useful as trying to "understand" why *insert minority or ethnicity* is bad at *insert skill or ability*. Way more generalization goes on than is warranted, IMO.

I hope you don't mean the more general topics of gender, gender relations, and feminism, because I for one have found those topics to be rather challenging and enlightening.

Frelkins: I will try to look at those. I also have the memoirs of Casanova on my shelf waiting to be read. Hopefully these will give me a better perspective than all this neurosciency gobbledygook that most modern lifestyle-type books are full of.

Speaking as a human Pez dispenser of material goods, sexual favours, and emotional support who is in a relationship with another human Pez dispenser of material goods, sexual favours, and emotional support, I have a hard time understanding Kim's perspective.

Dispensing Pez to each other is a fun and worthwhile activity, and forms the backdrop of a relationship based on mutual respect and admiration. We are appliances with brains, and dispensing Pez to each other doesn't somehow automatically blind us to each other's humanity.

If one person sees another as an malfunctioning appliance, perhaps they have merely had a malfunction in judgement as to the appeal of their own Pez dispenser, or the deliciousness of their Pez. Although I wonder why the people susceptible to such malfunctions haven't already been selected out of the gene pool. What's the accidental benefit?

Well put Michael!!!

Jade: "The things that make a guy generally attractive to most women are pretty well understood. Characters played by Will Smith or Georgy Cloony in films tend to display these characteristics. These things have nothing to do with "niceness"."

Just for a data point: For those of you who think that wealthy, genius, polyglot, hopelessly romantic, physicist, spies, working on weapons defense, hypnosis, and kinesthenic micro-expression interrogation analysis, who've been dropped out of helicoptors, shot, dead and resurrected on an island, who've slept with public intellectuals, and hobb-knobbed with nobel laureates only exist in the movies... let me correct your jealous misapprehensions.

James Bond is a Jew from Brooklyn.

Want to be interesting, intriguing, and adventurous to the ladies?

Then be interesting, intriguing, and adventurous.

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