A while back, Kirk made the comment that he wanted a license plate on his car that said “Expect Less” and that was generally his outlook on things. I told him that if I was going to put any bumper sticker on my car (other than the Episcopal Shield, Southern Tech University logo, and Please-don’t-give-me-a-ticket Highway Patrol support sticker) that would be it. I’m not really a bumper sticker sort of guy (except for the above), but I’d put that on there before I’d announce support for a particular political candidate or any other pithy saying.

There are two ways to take that statement, I guess. One empowering and one resigned. Kirk means it in the resigned way. I would mean it in both.

It seems that a lot of people out there expect too much from life. Which is to say that they expect life to give them too much. This isn’t some right-wing rant about people being no longer willing to work for a living, but that’s not what’s intended. I know more people in debt that hold down jobs than I do people that don’t. They’re sort of like that person that thinks that because they spent ten minutes puttering along on an exercise bike that they’ve earned that piece of triple-chocolate cake. Because they’ve worked hard, they deserve whatever it is they see in the window on their drive home. And one of my big pet peeves (and one of the reasons why complaints by young people about how tough they have it) is people that think that since they work for a living and their parents worked for a living that they should be able to afford – right off the bat – the same sort of lifestyle their parents had… ignoring that their parents worked 20-30 years to be able to afford.

This also applies to guys in search for a girlfriend. I pick on guys here not because it’s only men with expectations that are too lofty but because it’s generally men that are expected to do the heavy lifting of securing the date. A lot of the whole Nice Guy Wars boils down to the expectation that if a guy is nice and good that he should have women falling all over him. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but not much of one. Guys think that since they’ve earned the right to a girlfriend by doing the things that girls and movies and all say that they should do, that they deserve a particular girl. Such guys often have limited social circles and so they fixate on the one girl that they have access to. When that doesn’t work out (because a pairing between any two specific people usually doesn’t work), they get haughty over being unable to find anyone. Or they take periodic shots in the dark in online personals or random girls on the street. Those are not inclined to work out for a number of reasons, but the expectation with a profile or a response to a profile should magically turn into something enduring because you are nice and sincere is a faulty one.

More broadly, though, I think that people are often unhappy because they expect more. More than whatever it is that they have. Once they have something, they expect more. Despite my best efforts, I’m guilty of this. I go my entire life without something and then once I have it, I want more and more of it. I had no Pocket PCs a half-decade ago. Now between my Pocket PCs and smartphones I don’t even know what to do with them all. I have a ridiculous number of computers. I’m always looking towards building on what I have. That’s not a bad thing in moderation — and I suppose I may be a moderate — but the failure to build on that should never make someone really unhappy. Expecting less – expecting what you have rather than what you are working towards – can be just as valuable to a better life than the constant working for more.

This is all common sense stuff, really. Yet it’s really hard to keep the eye on the ball here. Capitalism is built on notions that run contrary to this. If everyone were suddenly happy with what they had and did not try to get more, our economy would fall apart just as surely as it has now because of so many people standing on a house of cards trying to get more than what they have without earning.

So forget what I said. Expect more.

Be wanting and unhappy.

Our economy depends on it!

-{No, this post is not a serious critique of capitalism. Nor is it an endorsement of any specific political ideology. I’m not sure it even has a point at all. A striking number of things that I say are generally pointless.}-


Category: Coffeehouse

About the Author


38 Responses to Expect Less

  1. Peter says:

    A lot of the whole Nice Guy Wars boils down to the expectation that if a guy is nice and good that he should have women falling all over him. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but not much of one. Guys think that since they’ve earned the right to a girlfriend by doing the things that girls and movies and all say that they should do, that they deserve a particular girl. Such guys often have limited social circles and so they fixate on the one girl that they have access to. When that doesn’t work out (because a pairing between any two specific people usually doesn’t work), they get haughty over being unable to find anyone. Or they take periodic shots in the dark in online personals or random girls on the street.

    Men who have limited social circles face another problem in addition to restricted access to women. They’re also less likely to know other men able and willing to give them advice as to what does and doesn’t work with women. It’s not just men who are total loners who are affected by this. Because men don’t often swap tips of this sort, a man can have a fairly substantial number of buddies yet still not get any useful advice. Furthermore, the reluctance of men to admit they have trouble with women, and seek out advice, just makes matters worse.

    Of course there’s ample how-to-meet-women advice available online, but its quality and/or usefulness is another matter. For example, to bring up a point I’ve raised before, the whole concept of Game, as expounded at a Notorious Sex-Related Blog and elsewhere, is sort of like preaching to the choir. If a man has the type of outgoing and clever personality that he’ll need to use Game with any degree of competence, he probably does well with women already and has no need for Game!

    All in all, in this one aspect of life at least, women really do have it much easier. Being receptive to the men who approach you is a much less complicated task than doing the approaching in the first place.

  2. econoholic.com says:

    On campus, I saw a beat-up black Chevy Cavalier that had the following sticker:
    “I think,
    therefore I’m dangerous.”
    I really liked that one. I wouldn’t put it on my car, but I’d like it.

    I’d never put a sticker on my car, because they aren’t big on removability. I have an invisible tag for my university buried under the dark tint of my rear-view mirror. I also have a magnet from the National Military Families Association. (Sorry, but I’m not giving money to the highway patrol guys. I’d rather drive the speed limit.)

  3. Linus says:

    Nice post. I expect a lot out of myself, and sometimes out of those I love, but I’ve certainly learned to keep my expectations in check when it comes to societal change, political change, or what have you. As you put it, I try to focus on the empowering aspects and try not to get resigned to mediocrity.

    Economist have a term, The Paradox Of Thrift. It refers to how thrift often benefits individuals, but tends to hold back economies. I think the resurgence of thrift is actually a side benefit of all the economic turmoil we’re in, and I hope that we retain some of it when the economy picks up again. I’m willing to sacrifice some economic growth for individuals to have bigger safety nets in bad times and maybe (just maybe) to focus less on money and consumerism and more on what truly makes them happy.

  4. ? says:

    people . . . think that since they work for a living and their parents worked for a living that they should be able to afford – right off the bat – the same sort of lifestyle their parents had… ignoring that their parents worked 20-30 years to be able to afford.

    I hate to admit it, but this is a powerful argument for young women spending a couple of years out on the economy: it gives them an appreciation for what living on a just-starting-out budget is really like.

    And with regards to women, it occurs to me that I fell victim to something similiar: taking one’s circumstances growing up as “normal” when they are not. As I was reminded while browsing old photo albums this vacation, my mother was, in her youth, totally hot. (Actually, as a compulsively athletic 63-year-old, my mother is still pretty tight.) Growing up, she was what defined “normal”, and my father’s apparently effortless ability to woo her was also “normal”. It took me a long time to realize that their social reality was as alien to me as mine was to them.

  5. trumwill says:

    Peter,

    Think about the sorts of guys that populate Roissy’s blog or that otherwise have difficulty meeting women. Think about the pathological introverts whose banner you wave. Do you think that, as women, they would be asked out on a remotely regular basis? Or at least asked out by guys that are worth anything? Do you think that there’s a sort egalitarianism with which guys approach girls that assure them that they will be asked out twenty or ten or even two times a year? By anyone remotely worthwhile? Women who attract men may have an easier time of it, but men who are attractive to women have an easy time of it, too. Men, whatever their hurdles, at least have more control over things. I suspect that it’s a lot easier to learn how to ask someone out than to figure out how the hell to get a guy to ask you out. That strikes me as anything but simple or easy.

    That’s not to suggest that I think that men have it easy and that it’s impossible for women. I think it depends in large part on what attributes any particular person brings to the table. Bringing me back to my constant point that if you’re attractive but socially awkward, it’s more advantageous to be female, whereas if you’re unattractive but charismatic, it’s more advantageous to be male. If you’re equal parts of attractiveness and charisma (or lack thereof), that’s probably dependent on whether you’re after a good time or a relationship.

  6. trumwill says:

    Holic,

    Removing a bumper sticker isn’t that hard from a window. To date, I haven’t put any on my bumper. I’ve considered putting flags of my native state and Delosa on the bumper itself, but that is an exception because once those start to fade it’s easy to get a replacement with exactly the same dimensions. Not so with alumni bumper stickers.

  7. trumwill says:

    I’m willing to sacrifice some economic growth for individuals to have bigger safety nets in bad times and maybe (just maybe) to focus less on money and consumerism and more on what truly makes them happy.

    I agree in the abstract, but the question in my mind is who benefits the most when it comes to good times and suffers the most in times of hardship. Dollar-for-dollar, benefits go mainly to the top. However, the extra thousand dollars a year that the guy at the bottom gets (or gets taken away) is signficantly more valuable to them than the ten thousand dollars of flux in a wealthy man’s income. This is not to say that I disagree with you (I think I still agree with you, actually), just that I have learned to become very cautious about saying that such-in-such is more important than a robust economy.

  8. trumwill says:

    I hate to admit it, but this is a powerful argument for young women spending a couple of years out on the economy: it gives them an appreciation for what living on a just-starting-out budget is really like.

    This assumes that they actually go on a just-starting-out budget. They will often still get help from their parents and/or end up in crushing debt. As with what happens today. It may help on the margins, though.

    I think that a bigger aid is parents who reinforce the point and who walked the walk. The further into my marriage I get, the more I see how our parents’ marriage becomes a template for our own. The accepted norms. Clancy and I come from conservative households and our spending habits are instinctually conservative despite having no formal budget (yet). Don’t get me wrong, we have frivolous things that we spend money on that we don’t need to… but we very much recognize their frivolity for what it is and if hard times came would know instantly what needs to be cut.

    One of the most valuable lessons my parents ever taught me occurred when they weren’t teaching me anything. It was when they were saying “We want this, but we can’t afford it” or “we can’t justify spending money on this.” If anything, they took it to excess, but it drove the point home.

  9. Peter says:

    Think about the sorts of guys that populate Roissy’s blog or that otherwise have difficulty meeting women. Think about the pathological introverts whose banner you wave. Do you think that, as women, they would be asked out on a remotely regular basis? Or at least asked out by guys that are worth anything?

    You are correct in general terms. Things are more complicated, however. In terms of the social skills required, it’s more difficult for a man to approach a woman than for a woman to make herself receptive to approaches. A moderate degree of introversion can be an obstacle for the man, while so long as the woman’s social skills are not wholly deficient she should be all right. Indeed, a degree of shyness on the woman’s part can actually increase her desirability to men. There’s also the fact that introversion seems more common in men than in women, especially when you get to the really crippling, pathological levels.

    Bringing me back to my constant point that if you’re attractive but socially awkward, it’s more advantageous to be female, whereas if you’re unattractive but charismatic, it’s more advantageous to be male.

    I used to think that was fairly self-evident. But then it’s come out that significantly overweight women get plenty of sex while significantly overweight men get far less. It looks as if men can be doubly out of luck: if they’re socially awkward, and/or if they’re unattractive (at least in the overweight sense).

  10. trumwill says:

    In terms of the social skills required, it’s more difficult for a man to approach a woman than for a woman to make herself receptive to approaches.

    I’m not entirely sure that’s accurate. Being “cutely shy” depends on being… well… cute. And the line between being quiet-but-enticing compared to being introverted-and-offputting is not always clear. A girl bereft of social grace doesn’t attract attention. Unless you’re a particularly smiley sort of quiet, that’s going to be the result. You and I are simply less likely to see it because we’re less likely to notice them in the first place and less likely to think of them in the context of someone to ask out.

    Being receptive requires all manner of subtleties. Particularly because you want to be receptive to those that interest you without attractive the attentions of those that don’t. They have to walk a line that we don’t have to walk. If we don’t want to date someone, most of the time we simply refrain from asking them out. The chances that they will put us in an uncomfortable spot are, while existent, considerably less fraught with hazard.

    I used to think that was fairly self-evident. But then it’s come out that significantly overweight women get plenty of sex while significantly overweight men get far less.

    If sex is your only standard, then it’s far more frequently going to be the case that being female is advantageous. How often do you think it is, though, that they’re having sex because they think that they have to in order to get a boyfriend? How many, unable to get the comfort of the relationship they want, settle for sex instead? Indeed, that they have the most partners means that it’s more difficult for them to hang on to a single partner. That they have the highest scores of any female group suggests that the situations and conditions in which they have sex are very unfavorable. The statistic is a remarkable one (if accurate), but to point to it and suggest that being a fat woman isn’t is big a deal is not what I would do with it.

    The value of sex as a general commodity is far different between the genders. Bad (or even mediocre) sex is likely to be less enjoyable for women than for men. Women often pay a social cost for having had it while men rarely do and are often socially rewarded. Sexual access is self-esteem booster for men that it isn’t for women due to comparative scarcity.

    If two men both have sex on the same evening, one with a woman that she picked up in a bar and the other with a prostitute, are they even? The same goes with tallying numbers between men and women. They’re really not comparable.

    Sex by itself is an unfair standard to keep because it’s currency differs wildly between the genders. Having sexual access is important to male self-esteem, for instance, in a way that it isn’t for women. A man choosing to have sex with a woman means far less.

  11. ? says:

    Being receptive requires all manner of subtleties. Particularly because you want to be receptive to those that interest you without attract[ing] the attentions of those that don’t.

    So, yeah, it’s tough being civil in the presence of the cute guys while being b!tchy to everyone else. But pardon me if I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the dilemma.

    Look, I can understand that women might not like being in a position where they have to say “no”. But in the spirit of a-lot-of-people-out-there-expect-too-much-from-life, I wouldn’t rank this aversion very high on the scale of social immiseration.

  12. David Alexander says:

    While I’m one of those guys who believes that women are only capable of love and sexual attraction toward alphas, I’d argue that game is something that is limited in its application. In other words, game works best for “normal” guys with relatively normal and mainstream interests who don’t have any really big, noticeable flaws that would scare women away. As evidenced by Roissy’s comment base, the vast majority of the males who use game are former beta males who come across as average men. Most are not hideously shy or geeky with esoteric of non-mainstream interests like myself.

  13. trumwill says:

    Look, I can understand that women might not like being in a position where they have to say “no”. But in the spirit of a-lot-of-people-out-there-expect-too-much-from-life, I wouldn’t rank this aversion very high on the scale of social immiseration.

    It’s not just a matter of having to say “no”. He may never even put her in the position of saying no. He may privately stalk her. He may bombard her with unwanted, extremely awkward attention indefinitely while he tries to muster the courage to ask her out, forcing her to either endure it in all its awkward and uncomfortable glory, lie offhandedly about having a boyfriend (in which case he may think he can wait it out), or be so presumptuous as to answer the question that she hasn’t been asked. There are 100,000 ways that he can freak out. Or if he does ask her out and she says “no”, there can be reprisals. He can be extremely ugly to her, spread bad rumors about her, or countless other things. He may never take “no” for an answer and keep trying to wear her down. Most guys may never do these things, but every guy whose attention you garner is a risk. Plus, there are certain kinds of girls that attract certain kind of guys and women of marginal popularity who seem accessible are likely to attract more of this sort of attention than most.

    Haven’t received unwanted attention in the past, and not even from particularly distructive girls, this sort of thing can become a particularly big deal. Especially when it happens in a closed social environment like an office place or within a circle of aquaintances. Even when they don’t go our of their way to be cruel, they can still make social situations miserable simply by exuding the pain they’re experiencing.

    On the whole, though, this is not a major risk for guys. It’s extremely easy to underestimate the significance of risks that we will probably never be forced to take. When I was younger, I was frequently told to ask someone who had grabbed my attention out, saying something to the effect of “What have you got to lose? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” As if they had no idea. As if asking a girl out and her rejecting you simply meant that absence of a gain rather than a loss.

  14. Peter says:

    I’d argue that game is something that is limited in its application. In other words, game works best for “normal” guys with relatively normal and mainstream interests who don’t have any really big, noticeable flaws that would scare women away.

    Agreed, that’s yet another drawback of Game: not only is its usefulness limited to men with decent interpersonal skills who don’t really need it in the first place, but its success in a particular application depends to a considerable extent on the “target” already having some interest in the man using it. An introvert who tries using Game on a woman who displays no interest in him is really just wasting his time.

  15. trumwill says:

    David,

    Regardless of your geeky interests and your self-declared marginal appearance, the main things you have going against you – and the reasons I would be hesitant to set you up with women I’ve known – are your tastes in, perceptions of, and attitudes towards women.

  16. David Alexander says:

    not only is its usefulness limited to men with decent interpersonal skills who don’t really need it in the first place

    While I’ve never stated this on the infamous sex-blog, beyond the fact that I don’t use game because I just don’t feel comfortable using it, it’s that I’m just not normal and mainstream enough to attract women and bother with dating in the first place. When you’re clueless as to what normal people do for fun, it makes it hard to go date and do stuff, especially as when one becomes older, the margin for social gaffes decreases. At that point, game is just rigged to fail in the long-term.

    Regardless of your geeky interests and your self-declared marginal appearance, the main things you have going against you – and the reasons I would be hesitant to set you up with women I’ve known – are your tastes in, perceptions of, and attitudes towards women.

    As I’ve stated, everything I write about is from vantage point, which may not be the best choice, but it’s merely what I’ve seen in real life from others and read from varying sources. Otherwise, I really can’t find a suitable explanation for some of the phenomenon that I’ve seen.

    As for my taste in women, blame my fetish on acrylic nails that I’ve had since my teenage years for an unexplained reason, and attraction toward raw sexuality in women. It’s not that I think women are magically sexless, but that there are plenty of pretty and beautiful women that aren’t sexual looking. They may have sexual desire that I suspect may only really be tapped by alphas, but their beauty just doesn’t induce sexual desire within me.

    And no, I’m not one of those guys that hates women because they like alphas. It’s rather silly, and quite frankly, it would be hypocritical of me to hate women for their taste when I have rather extreme and demanding tastes. At least I’m honest about my taste. Interestingly, one of my male friends thinks I’m selfish and judgemental due to my tastes in women, and oddly, my niece and nephew said I’m a “misogynist” for not “liking” girls…

  17. trumwill says:

    Otherwise, I really can’t find a suitable explanation for some of the phenomenon that I’ve seen.

    The problem is that you’re looking for “a” suitable explanation. Women’s behavior is dictated by 50,000 (often conflicting) things. Same with men’s. The simplicity with which you regard women is a big part of the problem with your attitude. I honestly don’t think you’re hostile or misogynistic as much as presumptuous and maybe condescending.

    As an aside, while I’m at it, guys say “Women say one thing, but their actions tell you another.” That’s not entirely accurate. Really it’s that women say one thing but your perception of their actions – based on limited information – is telling you another. I agree not to inherently believe women when they tell you what they want because they (like men) are often dishonest to you and/or themselves, but that doesn’t make your alternate theory (which come flush with biases all their own) is any more accurate. Both can easily be wrong.

  18. Kirk says:

    When people start quoting me, you know it’s a sign of the apocalypse. On a side note, I think it’s a little bizarre how this conversation turned towards sex.

    As for the economy, I think it’s bogus, that we all have to spend like drunken sailors to keep everything humming along. Surely, everyone can survive if we are a little less frivolous.

  19. David Alexander says:

    The problem is that you’re looking for “a” suitable explanation. Women’s behavior is dictated by 50,000 (often conflicting) things.

    To a certain extent, the stuff that Roissy talks about seems to explain some of the behaviour of some women that I’ve known in my lifetime. As I said earlier, if one generally operates under the theory that women are only attracted to alpha males, and lack true desire and passion for beta males, it can serve as an underlying theory that explains the behaviours in a relationship. In other words, it explains why she’ll may not find you attractive or why she cheated on you.

  20. ? says:

    I agree not to inherently believe women when they tell you what they want because they (like men) are often dishonest to you and/or themselves, but that doesn’t make your alternate theory (which come flush with biases all their own) is any more accurate. Both can easily be wrong.

    The quotable Trumwill . . .

    Perhaps I betray my own class myopia, but the amount of female b!itchiness I experienced was so far out of proportion to the male bad behavior I even heard about as to be akin to, say, nuking Venezuela today because, down the road, they might annoy us. I rather suspect that the female threshold for what constitutes, for instance, “stalking” is pretty low.

  21. trumwill says:

    some women… a relationship… [she] may

    If you used qualifiers like this whenever you talk about the subject, I wouldn’t disagree with you. These things almost certainly do happen. What I object to most is the notion that it is universal or somehow central to female sexual identity. I can give situations where this ideology explains (or might explain) female behavior, but I can also name a whole lot of instances I’ve observed that run contrary to this idea.

  22. trumwill says:

    I rather suspect that the female threshold for what constitutes, for instance, “stalking” is pretty low.

    Stalking was just one of the things I mentioned and I purposefully did not dwell on it. My own behavior in the past has been grossly mischaracterized as “stalking” in the past, so I am sensitive to cases where unwanted attention equals stalking.

    Whether specific behavior qualifies as stalking or not-stalking, unwanted attention sucks. Whatever degree of flattery you get out of it can easily be eclipsed by the discomfort it causes. Even something as benign as consistent looks across the cafeteria can take someone’s one-hour reprieve from work/school and turn it into something uncomfortable.

    What you’re saying comes across to me as when women say that a guy has no right to be upset when he’s rejected and the fact that he is upset means that he has some fundamental belief of entitlement to women. In other words, if he’s upset about it, it’s his fault because he expects too much from life. Likewise, if a girl’s life is made more complicated and less pleasant because of unwanted attention and affection, it’s really just her problem unless the harm caused is material (and even then, is it really such a big deal?).

    I have war stories of my own about how women have treated me in the past in the course of declining to go out with me (whether I’ve asked or not). My point is not that they don’t exist, but that they don’t render bad things that generally don’t happen to us to be moot. Of course we’re inclined to think that we’ve had it worse. It happened to us. When guys give similar war stories they strike us as true because we can recollect something like that happening to us. But when girls complain about what’s happened to them, we’re much more inclined to be doubtful of the veracity of their story or dismissive of how injurious an offense it really was.

    I would include a whole bunch of links to old posts by Spungen about how unwanted attention had a pretty detrimental effect on her social life and piece of mind in ways that weren’t just in her head, but alas the posts are all gone.

  23. ? says:

    Indeed, I myself recall Spungen’s horrific experiences at the hands of what by her account were deeply marginal characters. And I appreciate the power of the biases you describe.

    But while I will accept the proposition that the unpleasantness of unwanted attention to a woman is proportional to the unpleasantness of rejection to a man, I have a harder time with the proposal that unwanted attention justifies the pre-emptive nastiness that many women direct at a whole class of men.

    In other words, if he’s upset about it, it’s his fault because he expects too much from life. Likewise, if a girl’s life is made more complicated and less pleasant because of unwanted attention and affection, it’s really just her problem unless the harm caused is material (and even then, is it really such a big deal?).

    In a post about expecting too much from life, which part of this do you take issue with? Are men really entitled to sleep with any woman they approach? Are women really entitled to a beta-free world? I can acknowledge the unpleasantness and hurt feelings for what they are and still say that these do not excuse our obligations to behave proportionately.

    This is not to say that some men may not require rather more . . . discouraging than others. And yes, the form that discouragement takes will sound, absent context, to be grossly rude to the men who later hear about it. But while many women claim that these situations justify their pre-emptive behavior, I personally have known (and written about) enough women who managed to get by without doing this as to doubt the claim’s validity.

  24. trumwill says:

    But while I will accept the proposition that the unpleasantness of unwanted attention to a woman is proportional to the unpleasantness of rejection to a man, I have a harder time with the proposal that unwanted attention justifies the pre-emptive nastiness that many women direct at a whole class of men.

    I don’t endorse pre-emptive nastiness. When I hear comments equating unattractiveness or undesirability with moral unworthiness, for instance, it makes me squirm.

    In a post about expecting too much from life, which part of this do you take issue with? Are men really entitled to sleep with any woman they approach? Are women really entitled to a beta-free world? I can acknowledge the unpleasantness and hurt feelings for what they are and still say that these do not excuse our obligations to behave proportionately.

    I take issue with the part that people are not allowed their emotional reactions. Getting rejected and the fear of getting rejected may be a fact of life, but it’s not baseless and the reactions we have (short of reprisals) should not imply maliciousness. Likewise, being wary around particular men for fear of what might happen if he generates interest is not an unreasonable action if she has reason to believe that the resulting actions will make her unhappy. As men, we can simply decline to ask out women that we feel will make us unhappy after doing so. Women don’t necessarily get to choose who asks them out, so in that regard their situation is more difficult and complex than the man’s. In other regards, though, it’s more difficult to assume the man’s role.

    To clarify a couple points, by “wary” I don’t mean “nasty” and I am far from trying to claim that men have it easy and women have it tough. I would personally rather have the man’s role in relationships even if my temperament is not well-suited for it… but I think that has as much to do with “the devil I know” than any objective evaluation that anyone could make. Nobody can make an objective evaluation, of course, because we’re almost all one of two possible genders pursuing or being pursued by the other. And those that aren’t are playing on a different field altogether.

  25. Becky says:

    First on your regular post, I see your point, but I guess it also depends on what kind of expectations are considered “too high.” I would probably admit that my expectations of other people are probably too high, but I think that having them for myself helps me to make better choices or motivates me to get the education and/or training to achieve that expectation.

    On the comments that steered toward relationships, I have to tell you, Will, that you really do a great job of being fair to both genders and having a lot of insight into the female perspective. There are bad apples in both genders and to classify all members of that gender as behaving one way or another is a clear example of what might be a turn-off. There could also be an issue in the type of woman that the man continually goes after and not realizing that he’s ignoring “the nice girl.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to male friends complain they can’t find a girlfriend and then I see who they’re trying to hit on, and trust me, it’s not “the nice girl.”

  26. David Alexander says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to male friends complain they can’t find a girlfriend and then I see who they’re trying to hit on, and trust me, it’s not “the nice girl.”

    For some men, the nice girl is presumed to be sexless, and for other men, the nice girl just isn’t as attraction. Plus, there is a certain degree of bragging rights one can have when you’re with a hotter girl.

    In my case, while I used to believe the first, the second factor is generally at play.

    but I can also name a whole lot of instances I’ve observed that run contrary to this idea

    I’ll take the bait William. Name an instance… 🙂

    I should note that even among the whole “alpha males are only attractive now”, I’m one of the few that takes the theory to the extreme, and believes that women lie about their attraction to beta males in in exchange for something. Some have argued that alphas are more attractive in general, but it doesn’t preclude women being attracted to beta males, especially if beta males “step up” and do the right thing.

  27. trumwill says:

    I’ll take the bait William. Name an instance… 🙂

    They involve people that you don’t know. But I’ve talked about them here.

    A lot of women (including Julie), even in the years usually reserved for the frivolity of youth, prefer stability over the challenge of a sexual conquest with a more universally sexually desirable partner. Other women leave guys that are taller, better fit, and with better social skills (all “alpha” characteristics) for guys that have no obvious universally sexually appealing gifts. Why? Because the guy she was going to her was more appealing to her at the time. Two young ladies pressured me relentlessly for sex while another pulled a fast one on me and essentially used me for sex, which doesn’t make sense if, you know, they weren’t interested in sex with the likes of a guy like me.

    Your theory relies on the notion that any contrary behavior involves the woman lying in return for the thing that she allegedly does not want. It involves defining alphas and betas, already nebulous concepts built with no tangible characteristics other than sexual access, from situation to situation. It doesn’t explain reality. Reality has to be explained around it. Expressed motives are not sufficient because they’re lying. Behavior doesn’t matter because they’re fooling themselves. Only the all-wise David Alexander knows what’s in the heart of every last post-pubescent female American (or maybe female human).

    To the extent that alpha-beta theory is helpful, it is limited in application. There is a not-insignificant number of women out there emotionally holding out for the man that superficially Has It All or at least has more than they currently have. Beyond that, it basically states “Girls are attracted to guys that attract girls.” Or, I guess in your case, defining the grapes you can’t reach as being sour.

  28. David Alexander says:

    prefer stability over the challenge of a sexual conquest with a more universally sexually desirable partner

    One could argue that they concluded that for one reason or another, they determined that they couldn’t get an alpha, and that the best course of action would have been to put up with the best beta possible. It’s also possible that she may have had little exposure to alpha males, and thus may not know better.

    Other women leave guys that are taller, better fit, and with better social skills (all “alpha” characteristics) for guys that have no obvious universally sexually appealing gifts.

    It’s possible to have positive characteristics like those that you listed, and still be unsuccessful with women. You can be tall, and fit with good social skills, but if you’re unable to keep women attracted, they will leave you for a man with better skills.

    Your theory relies on the notion that any contrary behavior involves the woman lying in return for the thing that she allegedly does not want.

    That’s the only real reasonable conclusion that I can develop. It’s certainly the only reason that I could explain why girls would take an interest in me when they can and will do better than me.

    You have to remember, the idea is that women will mate with beta males if they become desperate for a boyfriend and sharing an alpha isn’t an option. So, if a woman realizes that she wants to have kids, and she wants a husband around, then yes, she will trap a beta male with sex in order to lure him into a marriage. Once married and “trapped”, sex will decline and become infrequent.

    Or, I guess in your case, defining the grapes you can’t reach as being sour.

    I’d argue that I’m like generic products at the supermarket. On average, if given the choice, nobody wants to purchase generic products, but if forced to do so, they’ll do it or go without the product.

  29. David Alexander says:

    Just for comparison purposes, read this story, and presuming that it’s true, what do you make of her actions? After reading numerous stories like that, and seeing somewhat similar actions in female friends, it helps to explain the alpha-beta dynamic.

  30. trumwill says:

    One could argue that they concluded that for one reason or another, they determined that they couldn’t get an alpha, and that the best course of action would have been to put up with the best beta possible. It’s also possible that she may have had little exposure to alpha males, and thus may not know better.

    It’s a good thing that you and people on the Internet can show them the error of their ways, right?

    The problem with the theory as you apply it are that it is largely speculative.

    It is non-falsifiable. There is no case I can give you that you can’t explain what’s “really” going on. They’re lying. They’re fooling themselves. They don’t know that they’re really unhappy. The very definitions of alpha and beta can be applied to suit the theory.

    It has limited predictive value. There are people to whom it really does apply. Like my friend Velva in her younger years who couldn’t settle for anybody less than Anthony Kiedis. There are also people that want whatever it is that they cannot have. It’s not really an alpha/beta thing, but the lessons from alpha/beta can be applied somewhat successfully because they’re always holding out for somebody better. But there are also a lot of people that it doesn’t apply to in any outward manner. They say that they’re happy with who they have. They stay with who they have. The act as though they are happy. Even if they are completely deluding themselves in this, they may well be deluding themselves for the rest of their lives and therefore the theory has no bearing on how they will actually behave.

    It’s counterproductive. It assists people in behaving in anti-social ways. It discourages them from trying to achieve happiness. It validates their worst instincts. Even if it were true, there isn’t any value in knowing it. People that believe it are considerably more likely to be unhappy. When I believed theories that were somewhat like this one, I was a much less happier person. When I changed my outlook, my luck changed as well.

    It’s presumptuous and insulting. You presume to know these people better than they do. You don’t know anything about 99.999% of the women in this country. It’s insulting because you are reducing their entire sexual experience into a couple of paragraphs. If you were doing so in a flattering manner, you would be condescending. But you’re not and it is thus insulting. You may think you are not placing them in an unflattering light because you don’t hold it against them personally, but if a woman tells me that I am a dawg that will hump anything that moves but I can’t help it because I have a penis, I am insulted whether they meant it that way or not.

    Belief in it correlates with lack of prolonged exposure to real life girls. Yes, there are some people that claim to have great success with women due to this theory. Because they say it, it must be true, right? By which I don’t mean that they’re lying about success with women, but they could be entirely wrong about why what they’re doing is working. I once bought a broken laptop for $20 because I wanted the bag that it came in. They thought that they sold me a laptop. I was buying a bag. Most people that believe it, though, are those that even on the internet spend the vast majority of their time conversing with other guys. I wouldn’t trust a bunch of women to conference and come to the conclusion about what makes men do what men do. I certainly don’t trust the inverse.

  31. trumwill says:

    I’d argue that I’m like generic products at the supermarket. On average, if given the choice, nobody wants to purchase generic products, but if forced to do so, they’ll do it or go without the product.

    People buy generic all the time and they are not forced to. I’m not forced to. Buying generic allows me to buy more or to spend the balance on something else or save it for a rainy day. Heck, sometimes I like a generic product in its own right. Whatever the case, though, when I do buy generic, I don’t spend my time thinking “Gosh, this isn’t a Pepsi/Kelogg/Kraft/etc” product. It’s about priorities. Some qualities matter. Some not so much.

    If I had a billion dollars, I would be driving a brand new BMW and swap it out every year. That means that if I could get a better car, I would get a better car. That does not mean, however, that my car is forever defined as not-a-new-BMW. That doesn’t even mean that I am dissatisfied with my car.

    But according to your logic, you are telling me that I am secretly hating my car. I put up with it because I can’t afford better. That if a BMW fell into my lap tomorrow, I’d buy it in an instant. But none of that is true. I don’t hate my car. I could afford better if that’s what I wanted to spend my money on. I don’t want to pay the insurance on a new BMW.

    My car is right for me. I got the best deal imaginable on it. I don’t have to worry about it getting repossessed if I suddenly lost my wife and my job. I don’t have to put a couple months aside making payments on a newer or nicer car. It’s the best car I can have at this time in my life.

    Women, likewise, make their own determinations about men. Some more wisely than others, but not uniformly. My wife may have been able to find someone more attractive, more charismatic, more a lot of things. But he also probably would have been less willing to pack up with her across the country time and time again. He might be less patient when she comes home in a bad mood. He might be more inclined to leave her when someone else comes along. In all my beta glory, I have something to offer her that others do not. She doesn’t spend all of her time thinking about what I am not. I know people that do that (that have done that to me!), just as I know men that do that. But she isn’t one of them.

  32. David Alexander says:

    It’s a good thing that you and people on the Internet can show them the error of their ways, right?

    That’s not my job. My job is to go about my life and be supportive to the people that I love. Besides, if women love alpha males, I see nothing wrong with women chasing them.

    They say that they’re happy with who they have.

    That’s the thing. We have no real evidence to show that these couples are truly happy. Mind you, given the anecdotal stuff that I’ve seen from female and male friends, and have read about, I’m tempted to believe that there is a lot of delusional thoughts and lying in relationships.

    It’s counterproductive. It assists people in behaving in anti-social ways.

    If these people are happier in their anti-social behaviours, instead of lying to them, we should be honest and just admit that they’re unwated and undesirable, and not try and change them if they’re content with their lives. I’m not going to rock my boat in order to go chase after women that never really wanted me or may have serious issues to the point that I may possibly be the best that they could do.

    there are some people that claim to have great success with women due to this theory

    Presuming that they’re not lying, the theory itself is not how they win women over. It’s their personality, confidence, social skills, and masculinity that attracts women.

  33. trumwill says:

    Besides, if women love alpha males, I see nothing wrong with women chasing them.

    Except that they say they don’t. Most of them don’t act like they do. 95% of the people saying they do are guys. All these guys have is a pattern. But it really isn’t a pattern at all because alpha-hood is not clearly defined.

    We have no real evidence to show that these couples are truly happy.

    Not when you second guess people that say that they are happy and then lend credence to those with complaints (and assume that they are unhappy). Find me a poll that says that says that the vast majority of marriages are unhappy. Given the scarcity of alphas, the vast majority of marriages would have to be unhappy, no?

    Except, of course, that reports of happy marriages can’t be believed. The weight of all the evidence you don’t have demands it! 🙂

    If you accept reports that support a conclusion, deny reports that contradicts it, then it’s pretty hard not to accept that conclusion. But almost any conclusion can be reached that way.

    I’m not going to rock my boat in order to go chase after women that never really wanted me or may have serious issues to the point that I may possibly be the best that they could do.

    That’s more of a self-esteem issue than an alpha-beta issue. I’m definitely not encouraging you to pursue women that you are convinced you will be unable to make happy. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s your assumptions that should be questions. You might want to let women decide for themselves what would make them happy.

    Presuming that they’re not lying, the theory itself is not how they win women over. It’s their personality, confidence, social skills, and masculinity that attracts women.

    In your reading of the theory, yes. But they ones I have read are preaching a different gospel. I know you disagree with it, but I added that disclaimer so I wouldn’t get a bunch of comments saying “Roissy gets laid and he believes!”

  34. trumwill says:

    Becky,

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to male friends complain they can’t find a girlfriend and then I see who they’re trying to hit on, and trust me, it’s not “the nice girl.”

    I find that the mistake that men more generally make is that they say they want someone low-maintenance and/or someone that isn’t a drama queen than invariably gravitate towards women that don’t fit either description. Men, like women, will put up with an awful lot from someone that is desirable from some superficial standpoint.

  35. ? says:

    Trumwill:

    I’m prepared to give you points for your observation that the alpha-beta paradigm suffers from a dearth of quantifiable data and therefore a testable hypothesis. That doesn’t necessarily negate those un-quantifiable observations that cause some of us to find in alpha-beta theory a better explanation of behavior than the nonsense we were told by, for instance, our mothers. But I will allow that it does prevent us from convincing those who have not made the same observations or who interpret them differently.

    But I detect in your rebuttal a whiff of argument-by-anecdote: because you know couples — as do I — that don’t fit the paradigm, therefore the paradigm must be worthless. But nobody claims that reality — even physical reality — perfectly conforms to our platonic categories; otherwise there would be no reason to have invented statistics. (Razib made this point once in a post that I can’t find at present.)

  36. trumwill says:

    Phi,

    I never claimed it to be worthless. In fact I said that it can be helpful. It is, though, limited in application. It can explain and predict the behavior of some women very well. Other women it does not describe the behavior of very well at all. It may be more generally predictive than what our mothers told us or than what women tell us they want, but David views it as a universal condition which it definitely is not. It’s a note-for-note explanation sometimes. It is way off base sometimes. Sometimes it can be made to fit a situation, but something else can be made to fit, too. It was not a struggle to find cases that fell into the latter two categories.

    I’ve been nursing a (deeply cynical) theory of my own since college that actually dovetails with the Alpha-Beta theory moderately well. In fact, it explains some of the very same phenomena. But my RAN theory, just like the Ladder Theory and the Alpha Beta Theory, are accurate except when they are not. They can be quite insightful, but they’re not reliable. They only contain enough ambiguity and trap-door ex-post facto explanations that they can give the appearance of it.

    Interestingly enough, I have a half-written post on how the ABT relates to Watchmen.

  37. rob says:

    I tried Game for a little while. It worked to the extent that I went from weird and condescending to roughly normal. There were a couple of people who could probably have slept with had I gone for it. The game experiment ended when a) I developed ‘one-itis’ for someone, and b) fell back into old habits.

    To a huge extent, Game did for me what some people say the military does: teach you what you should have learned from your mother. Yes, I should have picked up the daily hygeine, eat real food, exercise, and sleep enough habits, etc. But for personal ‘issues’ never did. My fault, not mom’s, btw.

    It was worthwhile for me. I learned important things. Now that I’m not a teenager, rejection doesn’t doesn’t hurt all that much. If I had been more outgoing, I would have learned that way earlier. I realized how intensely biological I am, that having some goals and hope greatly increases how effort I put into things.

    Oooh, I also found out that my tastes in women are not what I thought. I think the socially maladroit (and pathologically introverted) decide what they’re interested at about 13 or so like everyone else. But without real-world feedback, we never adjust those interests. I didn’t realize how important smart was to me. Or how just a few aspects of someone’s personality could grind me down.

    My pet theory on all “all women or men care about is…” When someone is unsucessful with the opposite sex because of one serious flaw, they tend to attribute all rejection or lack of interest to that flaw. So men who are low income, especially compared to their reference group, think women only car about money. Bald guys think women only want hair. Very shy men think women only want ‘alpha’ social dominance and outgoingness… Someone with a clubbed foot probably thinks the other sex only wants straight feet.

    Some of what (generic) you think are mandatory absolute requirements may in fact only be plusses, and can be compensated for in other areas, or fixed. Because game encourages practice, it can get some people to try without being so concerned about outcomes. If one hasn’t dated for a long time, or ever, asking someone out tends to get built up to the point that they don’t try.

  38. trumwill says:

    Rob,

    I have nothing to add to your comment. It was simply brilliant. You’re not my most regular commenter, but when you speak up you put up some of the best stuff on this blog, even including my own contributions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

If you are interested in subscribing to new post notifications,
please enter your email address on this page.