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My Exotic Destination Theory of Relationships

Things have been a little heavy around here lately. I’ve been writing quite a bit about the reality of today’s sexual marketplace, which is important. But I’ve overindulged on the feminism angle and I’m feeling a bit hungover. So today it’s back to basics, with a letter I received last week.

Dear Susan,

I’ve gotten myself into a bad situation and I know I have only myself to blame. About six months ago I started hooking up with Ryan, and it was clear from the beginning that we weren’t heading into a relationship. I think after we’d hooked up a couple of times, I got mad at him for ignoring me at a bar when we were out with our friends, and he said straight out that he wasn’t looking to be in any kind of relationship, with me or anyone else. I said fine, and figured I’d play it by ear. For about three months we had a lot of sex and it was great. We started hanging out more, too. We went on runs, made meals together, that kind of stuff. Sometimes we were together from Friday night till Sunday night. We still never talked about feelings, or anything like that. We didn’t talk about other people either, though, and I was pretty sure he wasn’t hooking up with anyone else. I certainly wasn’t.

After a while I started to fall for him. I don’t know if I’d been in denial, or if it was from all the sex, but I really started wanting more. I was pretty sure he felt the same way – we were just so close, and there was a lot of sexual attraction, as I said. He is really everything I want, and I think I’m a good catch, so I just figured it would come up at the right time. I wanted it to happen naturally, though, not because I brought it up awkwardly.

I guess you can see where this is going. Last weekend, a friend of his teased him about some girl I’d never heard of. It was clear that something was starting there. I felt sick, and I knew I had to ask him about it, so I told him how I felt about him. To his credit, he didn’t act surprised and innocent, I think he knew it was coming. He admitted that he was interested in someone new, and he pointed out that we’d been friends with benefits from the start, which is true. He said that he thinks I’m great, but he hasn’t changed his mind about wanting to remain single.

I just don’t understand how I could have misread everything. It felt like a real relationship, we were so connected in every way.  I often read where men say that a guy is always ready for a relationship with the right person. Obviously, I’m not that person, and now I’ll have to watch him bring this other girl around. I feel brokenhearted. I’ll never do FWB again.

How can guys be so involved and not get attached? I know men and women are different, but don’t guys ever fall for someone they’re hooking up with? Why am I never the right person?

Lizzie

Dear Lizzie,

I confess, of all the questions I get asked regularly, this is the one I have the greatest difficulty answering. I’ve written about this dilemma before, both here and here, and I still don’t have a solid understanding. It really comes down to the way men think, and that’s not a favorite topic of theirs. Even when a guy wants to explain his emotions, he often finds himself unable to express exactly what he’s feeling, especially if he’s conflicted. This leaves women overanalyzing and developing theories, all supported enthusiastically by their friends, but probably of little value in shedding any light on what’s really happening.

There’s the science piece, of course, the whole oxytocin thing, but I don’t think that explains it entirely. Not when you spent all that time together hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. I’ll give you my theory and we’ll see what other readers have to say. I may be all wrong here, and I’m interested to hear what the guys think.

My Exotic Destination Theory of Relationships

Imagine that Ryan has a great desire to travel, and finds himself the recipient of a six month fellowship to somewhere really exotic and unusual. Istanbul, for instance. He would never have planned such a trip at this point, with all the expense and time taken out of his regular life. But the opportunity presented itself, and he is very psyched to go, though he knows that he will be well outside his comfort zone in such a place.

When Ryan arrives in Istanbul, he can’t believe how easy the transition is at first. He has a great place to stay, it’s beautiful there, and so interesting! He is enjoying learning a lot about the local culture, and he is very glad he decided to come. In fact, he has never felt so alive. The colors are different, the flavors are different, and of course the language is different. After a few weeks, he settles into a routine, and is so infatuated that he begins to wonder if perhaps he should move there. He could definitely see himself happy in such a place, and though he’s always assumed he would spend his 20s living in NY, DC or Boston, he wonders whether he should grab onto this opportunity and hang on. It really does feel that special, and you’re only young once!

About halfway through Ryan’s extended stay, he begins to feel frustrated about his inability to speak the language. He can get by, many people speak some English, but these are not his people. He attends group gatherings, feeling somewhat uncomfortable with the customs. Here people do not ever offer a left hand. Hugs means something else entirely. In a room full of people, he stands in the corner, realizing that he can’t really understand much of the conversation. He misses the social routines that he was used to at home, where belching, farting and heavy drinking were all fairly acceptable behavior.

The food takes some getting used to as well. He attends banquets of delicacies never before tried, and he can’t believe how wonderful everything tastes. Still, it’s unfamiliar. He feels as if he’s always being watched, he feels like he’s performing, and he hopes he is holding his own at the table. What he wouldn’t give for a burger and fries right now!

Ryan misses his friends. He’s having a great experience, but it’s hard for him to just let his hair down and be himself. He is, after all, away from home, the place where they have to take you in when you knock at the door. And he keeps hearing stories from home about how much fun he’s missing out on! He knows that Istanbul is special, that he is lucky, but damn, his friends just took a road trip to Mardis Gras and he missed it. He’s a little worried that they’re starting to forget about him.

Finally, here he is in Istanbul, so close to so many other beautiful and wondrous places! He’d love to explore the coast, see the Greek islands, travel to other exotic locales. But the rules of the fellowship do not permit this. Ryan must be content with all of the wonders that Istanbul has to offer, and if he leaves he cannot return. His Turkish hosts do not understand his desire to see these other sights, as they know perfectly well that he will decide in the end that Istanbul is best. Still, he can’t help but feel curious, and he begins to look forward to the end of his stay, thinking of ways to travel home through another cool city. He can hardly believe that he ever considered moving here! He plans to return to the U.S. as soon as possible to join old friends and enjoy the familiar comforts of home. He’ll take a few weekend trips here and there, and he’ll begin saving up for a trip to another exotic destination, one that could not be more different from Istanbul.

Lizzie, I’m afraid that you’re Istanbul. And Ryan has booked his return flight through Marrakesh. Who knows, maybe Ryan will get sick of Marrakesh very quickly. Maybe he will miss Istanbul.

The bottom line is that Ryan really wants to go home right now, carefree and comfortable. He wants to speak bro and eat fast food and drink vast quantities of beer. He’ll enjoy going out for ethnic food once in a while, though. Just a quick visit to that exotic place before he returns to his regular life, the life he has chosen, at least for now.

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  • dragnet20

    I actually kind of feel for this girl.

    Guys like variety. This takes less precedence as we get older, but we never really stop craving it—which is why we appreciate when women resort to playing dress up and other stuff as couples age to keep things interesting and fresh. For younger guys with options, it's damn near the Gospel.

    I guess the best advice for a woman is this: when a guy tells you about himself, you should probably believe him. He said he wasn't ready for a relationship—she should have believed him. Women are especially effective at rationalizing away things or retroactively justifyin their behavior, as any practitioner of Game can attest to. Resisting this urge would have been in Lizzie's best interest, difficult as that is.

    And I think its worth asking: how many other guys (ie, betas) did she pass up on while fooling around with this guy who told her what the deal was from the get-go? How many betas did she ignore while wasting her time with this guy? In some ways, this is exhibit A for the frustrations felt by a lots of AFCs.

  • CTr

    just PERFECT!!

  • susanawalsh

    Dragnet, yes, it always makes sense to take a man at his word. Any woman who thinks she knows him better than she knows himself is deluding herself. In this case, I think Lizzie figured she could pull off “fun and casual,” and then she really bonded with Ryan. I also think women find it confusing when men exhibit behaviors that women believe are significant, even as they go against what the man has previously told them. They're hoping for a change, unlikely as it is. They begin to see change when a guy wants to spend a lot of time, says the sex is incredible, loves to cuddle, give kisses on the nose, etc. These are all things that a woman will not do if she doesn't feel invested. It really is about how men and women are built differently emotionally.

    As for her treatment of guys, I couldn't say. It didn't strike me that Ryan was a Player – he was monogamous for a period of months, even without an explicit commitment. He just wanted to be free to walk when he wished, without drama. So we really don't know about the social status of either Lizzie or Ryan. I wouldn't be quick to judge that.

    By the way, it's not either Player or AFC. There really are guys hanging out in the middle. If the average number of sexual partners while in college is less than two, and that applies to about 75% of the men, then there are obviously many guys who have at least some sex while there.

    Another real development is high Betas getting a little social proof, and trying to leverage that into multiple sexual partners, which is the brass ring in today's college scene.

  • susanawalsh

    First-time commenter, CTr, welcome! And thanks :-)

  • tweell

    When a guy says no, that's what they mean. When a guy says yes, they may not mean it, but no is no. This obviously has been a painful lesson, learn it well. Squelch that rationalization hamster in your head when it tries to spin you a fairy tale in the future. Yes, it was possible to lasso and brand Ryan, living the dollar store romance novel dream, but chances were slim and none.
    Ryan bears no responsibility, he was honest from the start. That being said, he'll be happy to accept more 'benefits' from you on the same basis. Get some self-respect and tune guys like him out! You might want to get a STD check as well.

  • susanawalsh

    Harsh but true.

  • Neely Steinberg

    Lizzie,
    I was just discussing this on my radio show last night (Susan was a guest, and she was fantastic, by the way). I think the best piece of advice that pertains to your situation is the rubber-band analogy by John Gray. He says that men are like rubberbands: Give them space and eventually they will snap back, if truly interested. Sometimes they need a little time and space away to figure out their feelings (that means no texting, emails, phone calls, etc., from you). Give this guy complete space (remember: silence is golden). It will give him time to miss you and ultimately determine if he made a mistake by letting you go. These types of guys always resurface. Trust me. I've been there. The decision you have to make when they do return is if you really want to let them back into your life. Good luck!
    Neely Steinberg (host of The Love Hangover on http://www.unregularradio.com).
    PS – Susan: I only hope I'm as cool as you when I'm a mom someday…

  • susanawalsh

    Thanks, Neely, you've made my day!

    The rubber band analogy is a good one – one thing I remember Gray saying is that if a guy expects to be scolded he won't return to communicate. So if Lizzie is presented with this opportunity, and wishes to be in touch, she should do so freely and cheerfully. As Tweell pointed out, Ryan didn't do anything wrong, and I think Lizzie made it clear she was blaming herself rather than him. She knows where her error was. Of course, even in this best-case scenario, I would have to wonder whether Ryan is ready for any kind of commitment. Seems like a risky thing to move forward with.

  • Tvulture

    “And if you have a date in Constantinople…
    She'll be waiting in Istanbul…”

    Couldn't resist.

    That's a tough one alright Susan. Sounds like Lizzie wanted an immigrant who would settle permanently. That would usually be someone younger and just have the shirt on their back though, meaning she'd have to be patient with them. If you want a foreigner who already has it all, they'd probably be a jetsetter who keeps jetting around to new places.

    You called it an exotic destination, but it sounds like she was trying to “unexotic” herself by doing everything with him. I guess trying to make him feel that she was a part of home. Maybe that's your message Susan. If it's hooking up, it will always be the exotic destination, and never home.

    Ifyou issue someone a visa, make sure they're enthusiastic about citizenship…

  • susanawalsh

    Hi Tvulture, nice analysis, I like that. You make a really good point about how much she was giving, too. Lots of unconditional love, which turned out to be a very bad idea, as he really was just a visitor.

    I think there comes a time for most men when they are ready to “leave home,” but until they desire that new unchartered territory of a LTR, being with the guys and having fun is a lot less work and obligation.

  • synthesis

    I don't know, a guy can act exactly the same in a relationship as out of one. It just depends on how much the girlfriend is willing to take. I had a roommate who, while watching “The Gift” with his girlfriend, paused and did slo-mo during Katie Holmes' topless scene. It was pretty hilarious actually because she got pissed.

  • Reinholt

    Susan,

    To a point, I think there is a much simpler explanation:

    Especially when rejecting you, guys say what they mean. No does not mean yes. No means no. Don't ever rationalize, try to interpret future actions, or read into things.

    There is nothing there. If he tells you he is not interested, he is not interested. Period.

    That is, in the end, the bottom line.

    It would be like the visitor to Istanbul clearly stating to everyone in Istanbul that he intends to stay for six months at the start; even if he really enjoys the entire trip, lives it up, and loves the place, should anyone be shocked when he leaves in six months?

    No.

  • susanawalsh

    Haha, that cracked me up. You make an interesting observation, though. Especially in college, young women sometimes get the “commitment,” but the guy in no way acts like someone in love. Rumors of cheating and other shenanigans abound. It's really just a way of saying, yeah, I like Turkish food, I'm willing to eat it a couple of times a week. :-/

  • susanawalsh

    Reinholt, that's true. However, let me ask you this – if he is not interested, then why invest all that time? This wasn't just banging and out the door. There was obviously real compatibility if he spent 48 hours at a time with her. He needn't have done that, the terms were definitely no-strings. What is it about men that enables them to have the apparent emotional intimacy, the pillow talk, without getting invested?

    I can see exactly why Lizzie got off track here. His words said NO, but his actions said YES, at least sometimes. In the end, you are obviously right. He stated up front that he would not be sticking around, and he didn't. One more painful example of how women need to think in very literal terms in their dealings with men.

  • Il Capo

    I see girls struggle with this issue from time to time, so I'll try and clarify it:

    Always remember: That a guy acts like a great lover does not mean he is in love.

    In more practical terms:
    Signs that do not mean anything at all when it comes to possible commitment:
    - Great sex (duh!)
    - Great kissing, cuddling, caressing, etc.
    - Spooning.
    - Spending significant time together but alone (just the couple).
    - That he is not seeing anyone else at the moment.

    Stuff that may mean something:
    - Time spent together in public, where there are other people who know him (eg: friends, co-workers, family).
    - Making plans that involve the girl (weekend getaway, holiday together).
    - Conversations in which the girl is asked for input in potential material acquisitions.
    - If he does useful things for you, for eg., water your plants if you are on a business trip, change the oil in your car, get your car new tires, fix something in your house, help you put furniture together.

    There are many more examples, but this short list should suffice for now.

  • Il Capo

    I think Susan and Reinholt are hinting at a broader point, which is that of female projection. Girls usually think that a certain behavior in guys means the same as it means in them and act accordingly, sometimes with bad consequences.

  • Jacqueline

    Susan, I like your analogy a lot. I have been reading this site for some time as I am in a ridiculous situation myself and am just hoping to be hit over the head with some sort of wisdom so I can get myself out of it. The more I read your articles and think about what you have to say, the more I realize that I'm living in a fantasy land and should exit now! Thanks so much for all the advice you give!

  • susanawalsh

    This is the crux of the problem, I think.

  • susanawalsh

    Il Capo, this is more awesome advice about how men behave. Truly, this is worth its weight in gold. This one comment will probably save a lot of heartache if women take it as seriously as I do. Practical and unsentimental. This is what women need to hear.

  • susanawalsh

    Jacqueline, welcome, and thanks so much for leaving a comment! I'm happy to meet you. If you read this, and it says something to you about the situation you're in, then you just need to execute your decision. I'm not saying it's easy, but if you are halfwaying it with someone, you are for all intents and purposes off the market, and that's a huge opportunity cost. If you ever want to email me offline, please feel free to do so.

  • Mike

    I'll just echo pretty much everything Il Capo listed in his groups of do not mean anything and may mean something.

  • Chilli

    To be honest, I think this rubber-band analogy is little other than false hope for Lizzie, and I agree that it is a risky thing to move forward with. After all, if you move forward with the thinking that things will go back to they way they were, that's not really moving forward. Ryan may bounce back, he may not, but there is someone else already in the picture, and unless Lizzie will be willing to make this into some sort of competition (which I'm sure Ryan will enjoy watching), the likelihood that Ryan will just forget about Lizzie is fairly high. So telling Lizzie to wait around for Ryan to start liking her is not very good advice IMO, not to mention it recalls the “knight in shining armor” scenario.

  • Reinholt

    Why would you hang out with a friend? Why do I spend 50+ hours a week at work?

    There are always explanations. In this case, I'm guessing it's that he found her fun to be around and he liked the sex.

    That doesn't mean he's interested in a long term relationship. Once more, the rationalization here is totally pointless; if you are willing to twist facts enough, you can make any situation fit any narrative you want.

    He said he wasn't interested. I understand why she got off track here, but I am saying that, if you wish to avoid it in the future, listen to the clear declarations.

    Don't over-analyze and don't rationalize. It really is as simple as it seems. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Ahem.

  • Mike

    Reinholt, that's true. However, let me ask you this – if he is not interested, then why invest all that time?

    Well, could be a couple of reasons, maybe a combination.

    1. He may have considered Lizzie a cool, fun girl who he enjoyed being around yet felt no deep emotional connection to. I've had girls I've felt this way about. They were cool, fun, and hot but just didn't have that something that sparked something deeper.

    2. More cynically, he may have sensed what Lizzie needed to kinda stick around while he milked the easy sex for as long as it still had novelty. 6 months sounds about right give or take a month, probably more towards take a month. At that point, if there is no emotional connection, if the guy isn't in love, then the sex becomes less compelling especially if there are new prospects, even if they are not as hot. Here is something women find mind-boggling, at least the ones I've talked to that pretty much every guy will agree with. Take a 8 that you have been having sex with for 6+ months and then offer up the opportunity to have sex with a 6-7 for the first time. Assume no committed relationship or emotion with the 8. 9 out of 10 guys will choose having sex with the 6-7. I think women cannot even begin to fathom the inherent desire men have more sexual variety. Personally, I wish I could turn that instinct off.

  • Smitten

    Susana, I've been reading for a couple of months now and just wanted to say thanks.
    I like your analogy here.
    For Lizzie, I'd say this goes back to the posts on whether or not girls can run game. Is it game to always leave them wanting more?
    It's ok to sleep with this guy, even pretty regularly, but for god'ssake DON'T let him hang around all weekend! Letting a man hang out on your couch and eat your food for 48 hours does not further his fascination.
    I agree with the advice to let him go on to this next girl, and be as nice and disinterested as possible in the whole process. Let him wonder why it's no big deal.

  • megslife

    Il Capo… I want to say thank you for posting this. I figured this out a while ago but my friend's wont listen to me. I'm just going to send the right to this comment from now on.

  • megslife

    Susan,
    I feel like you wrote about if actions and words before or someone has. It has been my experience that if a guy's action does not match his words 100% of the time chances are he is just not that into you. Guys know how to talk a good game and do just enough to keep you on the line. I hate saying that, but it is true. I am often bambooseled by a guy who seems to be talking with actions that seem to match up. However, when I look back I see that the actions that mattered weren't there. The things that Il Capo writes about. I think it just comes down to if the guy is not making you part of his real life then it is time to move on.

  • Reinholt

    This is classic projection.

    That won't work on a guy; hanging out for 48 hours or not is not the issue. He's already said he's not interested. There's no “fascination” to build, and he's not going to wonder why it's no big deal. He's going to happily still be single and on to the next girl.

    From a male perspective, this just seems like projecting what women want onto men, and would be terrible advice. If a woman always tries to “leave him wanting more”, she's going to get dumped by any man worth having, as he can go get more somewhere else, to be blunt.

    Be nice, be open, be supportive, and be fun. Don't cause major stress or drama. And listen to him when he says if he wants a relationship or not, don't try to manipulate or back-rationalize his actions.

  • http://FT.com/ VJ

    What Reinholt said. Sometimes? No means NO. Really. Solid. Immovable, immutable even if unprovoked, unheeded & unwanted. Yes is always deeply desired, but it's seldom heard. 'Alright, I'll go along for now…' is much more common.

    So yeah, it continually amazes me the kinds of games that can still be run on women well into their 30's. I'll assume this was a 'college hookup' and not all that consequential, but for women in their 30's? This could easily mean the difference between an expectation of marriage in the next 10 years vs. 20 or never. That's part of the tragedy here. Projection & hopes & dreams will not get you there. Sharing the same with someone who is Willing to reciprocate & understands & (largely) agrees with the sentiments? Easily worth the wait, and worth looking for too.

    So yeah, when a guy says:

    1.) 'You're too good for me…' and goes on to prove it? He's already told you.

    2.) When a guy tells & shows you that he's 'just part time' or that he's not at all permanent & 'needs to move on' for whatever reason? You've been told!

    3.) Ditto for 'I'm not the relationship type', 'all my relationships crash & burn', 'I'm a little crazy/sick in the head/broken' etc. Hurt people? Often can & do Hurt other people!

    4.) Ditto for the same classically tragic scenario of the lovely doe eyed naive waif who's going to 'tame that wild Alpha'. Even after decades? You'll destroy everything you hold dear, and often hold hostage your children to do so. (See: 'I'm with the Band' specials). I've seen it done, and it's not at all pretty.

    And please, the really 'involved ones' who are still not quite 'attached'? Think of you as a mere possession, and will regard you as some 'turf to defend', even long after a possible hopeful divorce.

    So yeah Lizzie? You took a strange trip around the corner. It was short, relatively pleasant, and you've had some fun times & good memories. You got away cheap with some lessons learned, and some wisdom acquired. Listen well. Heed what you learn there. Really simple stuff. So we're hoping you're still fairly young yet to be able to make a decent impression & yet learn the ways of wisdom. Believe them when they tell you in all honesty: 'I'm not for you!' or 'I'm not interested!'

    Plenty are or will be. Find them & date them. Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

  • Il Capo

    Glad you liked it. Unluckily, I think it takes girls a few failures to learn this, as they won't believe it without the experience (we all knew better when we were that age, didn't we?). Some are really slow learners, like the girl who wrote that book about failed relationships all the way to her 40s. Yet most will learn after 2 or 3 failures.

    The male equivalent is the dude who's always in the friend zone but refuses to acknowledge that he'll never get the girl(s). It'll take him at least a few rejections before he understands, although some dudes never evolve.

  • AT

    “I know men and women are different, but don’t guys ever fall for someone they’re hooking up with?”

    This question is very telling, because I think this is where the heart of the matter lies vis-a-vis the hookup culture. That Lizzie would even ask this question means that she went into this set-up thinking she could eventually make him fall for her by providing him with sex. But here's the thing–most men do not equate sex with love, they equate sex with, you guessed it, sex. It's a primal need for most men, and she was addressing that need, nothing more, nothing less. Reinholt and Il Capo nailed it, and they illustrate the main difference between how men and women think.

    We women have a tendency to over-analyze. We can spend hours trying to find hidden meaning behind a casually uttered phrase. I cannot tell you how much I've wanted to scream at girlfriends who would call me up and tie me up for hours on end trying to dissect something as innocuous as “Oh, I'll see you sometime soon, ok?”–except that I've done the exact same thing myself.

    In this case though, Lizzie was told upfront that he didn't want a relationship, but she didn't take his word for it. Just because a guy is nice to you while he's having sex with you doesn't mean he's already ready for a commitment–it could just be that he's actually one of those nice decent guys who won't act like a jerk just because you guys are already doing the horizontal tango. But it still doesn't change the fact that he was honest about not wanting a relationship, so Lizzie should just cut her losses and move on.

  • ExNewYorker

    “To his credit, he didn’t act surprised and innocent, I think he knew it was coming. He admitted that he was interested in someone new, and he pointed out that we’d been friends with benefits from the start, which is true. He said that he thinks I’m great, but he hasn’t changed his mind about wanting to remain single.”

    Of course he didn't act innocent… because he wasn't! So, at least he was an honest jerk.

    Sad to say, but I saw this many a times with my cad younger brother. And I'd remark about how could smart and beautiful women put it with it. My youngest brother, who learned the cad lessons from my other brother earlier than I did, responded: “Because for most women. that's how they want it”.

    Some lessons are best only learned once.

  • ExNewYorker

    In order for the rubber-band analogy to hold, it behooves to find out beforehand if the target is indeed a rubber-band. And it seems that it would be best to figure out before the hookup if the rubber band will rebound rather than snap.

    At this point, it's best to let Ryan go and re-start elsewhere after some self-analysis, to avoid pursuing Ryan-like guys in the future. If Ryan were to return, it would likely be because he's settling, not because of real interest.

  • ExNewYorker

    Because for a percentage of guys (the guys a majority of women seem to prefer), it's kind of nice having “a nice home cooked meal” that you can fall back on when dining out gets tiring, expensive or the restaurants are closed. And you never know how long till you can find some other place to have “a nice home cooked meal”.

    The guy in question really wasn't investing all that much time or effort in the relationship…he was putting up the “facade of compatibility”, so that Lizzie would doubt and rationalize away the fact that he just wanted a FWB.

    It's pretty clear, and direct: if a guy tells you that he's not looking for relationship, or that he just wants to be friends (with benefits), then most of the time, it's useless to get him to change his mind. And if he does, it's likely because he couldn't work it out with the other someone he left you for. The best thing would be to avoid that type of guy in the future, and choose the guy who'll sleep by your bedside at the hospital. But, that's probably advice that is heeded by only the 20% of women who don't fall for cads…

  • KJ

    Susan, I'm a long time reader and this is my first comment, just thought I'd weigh in here.
    Basically, for the past four months or so I've had the same thing with a guy who very likely, is worse than most. I entered a FWB under the terms that neither if us wanted a relationship and that everything would stay the same. Key difference is that we were quite good friends before we hooked up.
    Everything changes. I start to fall for him and he remains the same. Drama ensues. But THANK GOD for your blog I end it. After reading “Help, I'm in a whatever with a guy I really like” I decide that I have three options.

    1. Continue the way things are = heartbreak
    2. Hope he will come around and decide he wants to be with me = very unlikely, why invest time and energy into something he is getting for free?
    3. End it

    I ended it because that tells him I don't need him. Which I don't. And its the very same advice you give all the time. Be fabulous. Live your own life. I figured if he never came around asking for me back he wasn't worth my time anyway. There are guys out there who could, and would, treat me better. And if he did come around then I get what I want with my heart intact. This is where I feel so many girls go wrong, by telling the guys they are ok with FWB and then hooking up or spending time with other guys to make the one they want jealous. This I feel only lowers their value in the guy's eyes. Ending it is both honest (to yourself and him) and mature. It can leave room for friendship after all is said and done and can be a very clean break since you are the one in control.

    To make a long story longer, I am now dating said guy and we have an excellent relationship. When I ended things it may have been the best conversation I have ever had with him and I left feeling better than I had in months. By being honest and true to myself I got what I wanted. It just takes courage to do it. Listen to your gut girls. Deep down you know how he feels. No need to rationalize. Be strong, demand respect and get what you want.

  • ExNewYorker

    If you notice what Il Capo mentions, the things that “mean” something are all things that men “do” and not just say. And doesn't take that much time to see the reality of what a man does vs. what he says.

    I mean, I think a lot of women need to re-read Austen. When Wentworth “forced” Anne to ride his sister's carriage, he didn't just babble, he acted. And Anne understood.

  • ExNewYorker

    I agree with pretty much all that AT says here.

    The only guys who might fall for someone they're hooking up with are some percentage of beta guys (and even then, it's the percentage of beta guys who aren't jerks themselves). And since beta guys aren't high on the list, it's somewhat uncommon.

    And something to keep in mind…the cads won't always act like jerks. Sometimes they will be charming, romantic, affectionate. It's when the subject of “commitment” comes up that their cadness will become apparent…they'll hem and haw about how what you have together “defies labels” or '”what we have is greater than what all those others have” or “she doesn't mean what you mean to me” or the standard “we have a great thing, why change it?”

  • AT

    Lord, this is SO true. Most women keep trying to change men. It doesn't work, really. I keep telling my single girl friends to stop falling for the emotional messes they're convinced that only they can save, and look for the emotionally stable guy who'd be there for them. I keep telling them, if it's already this much hard work this early in the relationship, it'll be ten times more difficult a few months down the line.

    But then again, a LOT of women I know just love drama, too. Sigh.

  • susanawalsh

    ENY, I didn't really figure him for a cad in this scenario, I just chalked it up to the natural differences between the sexes when mating. If he wasn't innocent, that means he was selfish – that he could obviously sense that Lizzie was into it, that he rode the sex train for as long as he could until he tired of it, felt guilty for using her, or both. Is that how you see it?

  • susanawalsh

    One thing that Sherry Argov says in Why Men Love Bitches is never compete with another woman, and I think this is true. Guys love it when this happens because it proves they've got multiple women attracted to them, and this approaches their fantasy of essentially having a harem. A reader recently told me after I wrote about that book that she applied it to her behavior in her dealings with a guy. They'd hooked up once (not sex), and she decided to not initiate, pursue or dwell on it in any way afterwards. The next couple of times he saw her he was very flirty and she was friendly but kept her distance. She was interested in him, but was determined to behave in a way that she would not regret – she really didn't know what he was after. She has since learned that he has at least two other girls in hookup rotation. She feels that she dodged a bullet. Aside from the fact that he's a douche, she knows these other women and the last thing she wants is to be the latest enemy #1, all competing for this guy.

  • susanawalsh

    I'm always surprised at how willing women are to get with a guy they know is settling. They are so eager to be able to say they've got a relationship that they'll be in one with almost anyone, even a guy they know doesn't really like them much. I always point out that this just means you've not got the privilege of being formally attached to someone who doesn't like you, and therefore treats you with indifference. Surely being single is far better than this!

  • susanawalsh

    This issue of female projection and rationalization is huge, I'm learning here. We're very prone to it, and it is always detrimental. Men don't really tiptoe around saying things to be nice and avoid hurting our feelings, like women do. They lay it on the line most of the time. When women go looking for hidden meanings in what a guy says, they are basically writing fiction, trying to apply a rom com script.

    She thought she was fine with it at first, but she should have walked when she felt herself looking forward to spending time with him. She probably spent a few extra months in this dead-end FWB. As we know, women can't afford to waste time this way, we don't have 20 years.

    The key here is what you other guys have pointed out – heed this lesson, because women who don't are the ones writing books about all the jerks they hooked up with through their 20s and 30s.

  • susanawalsh

    Gaaaahhhhhh, that is mind boggling! OK, then, the bottom line is if there is no explicit emotional connection that has been verbalized ——> you have nothing.

  • susanawalsh

    True, but it's useful, because my readers are likelier than most to be in that 20%!

  • susanawalsh

    As you say, some women are slow learners, and they run an additional risk: the risk of getting too much sexual experience. As I've written about before, the good men will not happily scoop up a woman who's been with a couple of dozen players. Men will and do perceive promiscuous women as “used up” and tainted. Women will say this sucks, but the double standard around sex is designed to avoid cuckoldry and false paternity claims, and it's never going to go away.

  • susanawalsh

    OMG, a man just referenced Persuasion. I think you are perfect.

    I wrote a post on Austen's dating advice a while back, before I had so many readers. I think I may need to recycle that one. Who knew that a virgin could intuitively understand both sexes so well? Brilliant!

  • susanawalsh

    Welcome, Smitten, thanks for commenting! I hadn't even really thought of how Lizzie was basically too easy a target. She gave her heart and soul without really ever getting anything in return (well, except the good sex, which is worth something, even if dangerous).

    That post on girl game did focus on always leave them wanting more. And I say something similar: never give 100% of yourself. Always hold back 10%. Though I love my husband, I have done that. He does not take me for granted.

  • Screwtape

    Some people just cannot handle being alone. I have spent all of my adult life living alone, with the exception of a five-month blip, and so I realize there is much worse ways to live. Most other people have not had that experience and are terrified of it. Just look at situations with abuse/infidelity; you will see people, male and female, desperate to keep lovers who are extremely abusive, disrespectful, and outright evil towards them. They are so afraid of solitude that they will literally live in hellish home environments and beg for their partners to stay. It really is a sad thing.

  • novaseeker

    What is it about men that enables them to have the apparent emotional intimacy, the pillow talk, without getting invested?

    One thing about understanding men, and one key way we differ, typically (exceptions aside) from women is that we tend to compartmentalize. A lot. And quite easily. In fact, I'd say it's our “default” psychological setting.

    In the context of relationships, it means that men can much more easily separate physical intimacy from emotional intimacy. I know from the female perspective this seems wierd, especially over the long term as they feel their own wall between those two things, if it even existed in the first place, erode away. But the key point is that for men the wall doesn't necessarily erode away, ever, unless he chooses to erode the wall, or a woman comes along who engages him emotionally such that the two boxes become one box. But until then, most guys can easily enjoy physical intimacy in its own box, and engage in gestures that women can easily mistake as signs of emotional imtimacy, when in fact they are all taking place in the same physical intimacy box.

    As you write below, projection is a big issue here, because it sidesteps some of the differences in how men and women experience and process these things. I think women, in order to protect themselves, need to understand that for many men a rose really is just a rose — that is, don't “read in” emotional intimacy from stuff that is, on its face, clearly in the physical intimacy “box”. Cuddling and nose kissing and so on is still physical intimacy. In couples who are also emotionally intimate, of course they take on an emotional intimacy, too — as do pretty much all forms of physical intimacy. But unless emotional intimacy has been clearly established, it's hazardous to assume that certain actions which, once it has been established, connote emotional intimacy are actually connoting that intimacy in *this* case. To put it more simply: don't read in too much, especially in a case like this one where no feelings have been discussed.

    Men are generally either dishonest or “WYSIWYG” in nature. The dishonest ones — well, not much to do there, other than to be careful and watch for signs of dishonesty. The WYSIWIG ones, though, who are actually saying they are not in the market for a commitment or emotional intimacy or a girlfriend really should be taken at face value. Regardless of how emotionally intimate *you* may find his physical affection and time and so on, if he hasn't verbalized anything you're probably still firmly in the physical intimacy box.

  • novaseeker

    We're very prone to it, and it is always detrimental. Men don't really tiptoe around saying things to be nice and avoid hurting our feelings, like women do. They lay it on the line most of the time. When women go looking for hidden meanings in what a guy says, they are basically writing fiction, trying to apply a rom com script.

    I think men are, to a certain extent, capable of tip-toeing, too – in terms of trying to let women down slowly or so on. But the converse often isn't true — that is, when a guy falls in love, for the most part he's often pretty up-front about it. The Hollywood image of the guy who resists his own feelings and only admits to being in love after being dragged kicking and screaming by his girlfriend to the realization is itself a projection and, for the most part, a fantasy. Most of the time when guys actually fall in love they're all over it — it gets communicated, usually clearly if perhaps in some cases clumsily.

    One thing that strikes me here is that women, on average, tend to be better at reading social cues. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that they can seemingly spend so much time trying to read the tea leaves with respect to the behavior of guys as well? In other words, perhaps the tendency to scrutinize social cues and look for non-verbal communication is another root of this tendency to overanalyze and project into the world stuff that actually hasn't been communicated verbally. With many men, reading in nonverbal cues and nonverbal communication — no matter how sensitive women may be to such things generally — is quite perilous.

  • susanawalsh

    I agree. Personally, I think living alone can be a great experience. Yes, it can be lonely, but as a society I think we are too wary of solitude. We all need time for reflective thought. There are many people who can't stand not being in a relationship, so they're often in bad ones. Signaling a willingness to be alone is probably the best way to repel the people who will treat you the worst.

  • Obsidian

    I don't mean any disrespect Ms. Walsh, but you really did blow past what Dragnet said. And I am telling you, far more Men identify with what he said than you may ever know. For every Ryan, there are tons of Steveos who get passed up by gals like Lizzie, then they turnaround and wonder why things didn't work out, without ever thinking about the Steveos. That's just the plain truth of it, and we can expect to see A LOT more of this in the short years ahead.

    O.

  • susanawalsh

    Yes, I think you're onto something here! We are good at reading social cues, and we also enjoy it. Many young women will happily spend a couple of hours with a friend dissecting the meaning of a single glance from across the room. I did this myself with great enjoyment in high school and college. Where this goes seriously awry is that we assume a deeper meaning. We project all kinds of intent and complicated thought processes onto a guy, when in reality he was probably just looking across the room and thinking “8.” He gives it no further thought, but now we're on our way to wondering if he'll step that up to a warm greeting the next time we're in the same place. If he doesn't even look our way again, we'll wonder what went wrong! We are creating the entire fantasy, and the poor guy is entirely clueless. He may even be accosted by our friend at some point, who will tell him he's a douchebag! It's no wonder guys dread the talks where they are expected to explain themselves. They must feel like Avatars on Pandora! (Or Americans in Istanbul).

    Nova, one question – I have read that when guys fall in love, they fall hard. However, it seems as if they can decide up front that that isn't going to happen. If a guy says he doesn't want a relationship at the outset, and I'm hearing here that guys rarely change their minds, that implies that a guy can in effect shield himself from emotional involvement with a rational decision to remain at a distance. Is this a fair statement? Women are absolutely incapable of this, in my experience, so I'm curious to know if guys can pull it off. It really would answer Lizzie's question about how guys can help falling for a hookup. Because they've already decided not to?

  • Obsidian

    Ms. Walsh,
    Perhaps you've heard of the book Bowling Alone? I think Prof. Putnam might have something to say about your comments above. And as far as Males go, being alone has proven NOT to be a good thing.

    O.

  • susanawalsh

    OK, Novaseeker, just saw you've addressed this below.

  • susanawalsh

    Sigh. Painful truth, but very, very important for women to understand this. I think women are more confused than ever, because in this era so little talking about feelings gets done, or at least it gets delayed. So there's bound to be a period early on where sex is occurring but neither party knows what the other is feeling. This plays into women's natural tendency to project. Which is, of course, to their detriment.

  • susanawalsh

    LOL, defies labels! So true. Seriously, a woman is better off hearing the always disappointing and disgusting, “I want multiple.”

  • susanawalsh

    KJ, honestly, you just gave me goosebumps. I cannot thank you enough for leaving this comment and giving me this feedback! Sometimes it's very hard to not know who is listening, what they're doing, etc. Your story makes me feel that it is all worthwhile. So thank you.

    Re your behavior, wow, what personal strength! You walked away from a guy you really cared about. Obviously, until he lost you he didn't even know he felt the same way. Interestingly, Dr. Helen Fisher cites this as an example of one of the things that can trip the dopamine (falling in love) switch for a guy. A sudden change that makes him “hit refresh,” basically.

    You make another really crucial point. By ending it, you took control of your own happiness and/or misery. Either way, it was not something that just happened to you without you having a say.

    Also, leaving room for friendship is very important in hookup culture. Friends are hooking up with friends, so when it ends it's much easier for everyone if cordiality is maintained. And if handled well, returning to platonic friendship is very possible. I've also noticed that people do circle back around sometimes, even after a period of time goes by. As others have said above, it might be difficult to trust in that case, it really depends on how things ended and how each party behaved.

    Well done KJ, I'm happy for you!

  • novaseeker

    It's very true, which is why I think that “way of doing relationships” (seeing if there is sexual chemistry and excitement first, and then, if there is, seeing if emotional connection develops) is fundamentally playing a game that women will often get burned by.

    It's very politically incorrect to say this, but the casual sex game is overwhelmingly a male game. There are exceptions to that — women like Poetry of Flesh, to take one case. I've also met married women my age and slightly younger who at least claim to have had a high number of partners and very much enjoyed casual sex on its own merits without getting emotionally invested, and so son, in their younger years. But these strike me as exceptional cases.

    When you front-load sex into the relationship game, it tilts the whole game towards guys. And specifically towards the kinds of guys on whom women will bestow sex in a front-loaded way. But in any case, it's a guys' game because he can stay in the physical intimacy box and get what he wants there without every setting foot in the emotional intimacy box. As I say, some women can do that, too, but they seem to be a decided minority of women. The older courtship rules worked better for women because they effectively forced men into the emotional intimacy box before he was allowed to get into the physical intimacy box — making it less of a risk that the two would be on different pages. Of course there were still guys who lied and manipulated and so on under the old rules, but cheats are present in any system. The virtue of a system isn't really best evaluated by the presence of cheats (unless they are so prevalent as to call the system into question in its entirety) but rather whether the system tends to provide for better outcomes or not. The older system worked better for women, i think, than the new “vague” system does. “Vague” mostly benefits alpha males and cads — which isn't surprising as some prominent cads were heavily invested in the sexual revolution back in the day, as well.

    The problem facing women is what to do about this. Obviously the clock isn't getting turned back to the “old way of courtship” — at least not en masse. And because some/many women will seemingly still continue to dole out sexual favors to cads and alpha males in the hopes of winning the lottery and getting commitment from one of them, it can feel difficult for women to refrain from doing this from the opportunity cost perspective. At least a few times. But I think that most women benefit more in their relationships by not caving into the casual sex game, and by trying to do things a bit more like the old way in terms of establishing some emotional intimacy before establishing fully-blown physical intimacy. Some guys won't put up with that, of course, but if they don't then the woman in question has learned that he isn't the type of guy for them. That can come as bad news if all the guys she wants happen to be like that — because it may mean she needs to recalibrate a bit what she really wants, which is something that no-one of either sex ever really relishes doing, even if it must at times be done.

  • susanawalsh

    How do you know what Ryan is like? What we know about him is that he has had a FWB arrangement, and that he is not looking for a commitment. Why do you assume he's the same as Tucker Max? As I said above, there are a lot of guys in the middle, between Tucker Max and an older virgin. I personally know a lot of guys who are in this middle group. They're nice guys, they have girlfriends sometimes. When a relationship ends, they want to play the field for a while, especially if they got hurt. They may act like a cad for a period of time. They are under pretty significant peer pressure to stay single. Is this guy a good relationship bet? Probably not, at least not right now. But he may also be someone who doesn't have a history of pumping and dumping women.

    Look, it's obvious that women are passing over beta guys in large numbers. But among those guys, there is great variation. There are “high betas” who do OK, have a gf or two during college. There are also guys who are in a bad way. The truth is that some of those guys wouldn't have reproduced in the old system either, as you have pointed out.

    We cannot compel women to be attracted to certain people. I'm not going to ask women to get into the business of pity f*cking. At the end of the day, we're back to the same old dilemma – what is a guy supposed to do in this hostile sexual marketplace? He must compete with other men, intrasexual battle is unavoidable. If he cannot do so for whatever reason, he will be left behind.

    Women who fail to see the value of the beta men in their midst, who continually put out for the T. Max's of the world, will also be left behind. They are guilty of poor judgment, certainly, and we can say that they deserve whatever they get. I do not believe that all women fit into this category! I don't agree that every time a woman is disappointed in love it is because she chose a dog. By the way, as ExNewYorker points out above, many players are quite adept at pretending to be the nice guy who has a great relationship with his mom and respects women. If one is astute in one's observations, it becomes clear after a little while that you've been deceived. However, it's often too late to avoid emotional pain by that point.

  • susanawalsh

    Obs, I haven't read it, though I have certainly heard about it. Just to be clear, I'm not talking about a lifetime of solitary confinement here. All human beings need relationships, and separating oneself from all other people is clearly dysfunctional. I am saying, though, that every person should be prepared to spend some time alone if they are in a relationship that is causing them mental, emotional or physical injury. And I personally believe that even in a relationship, some solitude is beneficial. I really didn't mean to imply that an entire life lived in solitude is good for anyone, and it's certainly not beneficial if it is involuntary.

  • stuartschneiderman

    This has been a great discussion, but I wanted to add a couple of points for emphasis. As did Susan I very much appreciated Il Capo's contribution. If a woman wants to read male behavior she should not try to read his mind or to measure how ardent a lover he is. Whether or not he introduces her to his friends; whether or not he includes her in friend or family events; whether he presents her to work colleagues as his girl friend… these gestures say far more about his intentions than even the most beautiful declaration of love.
    Another important point that Susan made and that has not received enough attention. Perhaps Lizzy's man was not ready for a commitment.
    If you want to know whether a man is ready for a commitment, ask yourself how his career is going, how well established he is in his life, whether he can afford a wife and children.
    Love does not conquer all, and the male mind, no matter what people say, thinks in terms of the kind of life he can provide for a wife and children.
    If his circumstances are shaky, if he cannot afford to take her out as he would wish, if his career prospects are not very bright, then he may love her beyond reason and will still not want a commitment. He will not want to implicitly take on responsibilities he cannot fulfill.
    This much a woman can probably figure out without asking too many questions… which is the better approach.
    The second point that might provide a woman some guidance is this: Would his mother approve of her?
    Has he introduced her to his mother or to the rest of his family? Is she included in family celebrations? Does she know that his mother would not approve?
    Surely, it happens that men marry women their mothers disapprove of, but if you are looking to decipher the male mind, and especially to have a relationship with a man, you could do a lot worse than to become good buddies with his mother.

  • susanawalsh

    Amen to everything you've said here. The bottom line for most women who take your advice is that they will get less attention from men overall. After an initial display of interest, if a guy perceives that this is a girl who is not likely to go for the random hookup, most guys will go away in search of more fertile ground. This can and does discourage young women. It's a Hobson's choice, really. But the better choice, yielding the greatest eventual reward, is holding out for a man who never was that guy, or perhaps a man who has finished sowing his wild oats and is looking for something meaningful.

  • dan_brodribb

    nice work, KJ

  • KJ

    Susan, never underestimate how much young women are taking from your blog! I honestly could not have handled myself as well had I not been reading it. It's really the only advice I've ever read that I have always agreed with. Let's just say I no longer read Cosmo :)

    That is very interesting about Helen Fisher and makes so much sense. Men want what they can't have. The next time he saw me we were exclusive. And, not only did we become a couple but his entire attitude and actions changes for the better, something I could never have expected. The entire situation worked out so much better than I could have planned.

    But I agree. Friendship is huge. A guy will have no problem breaking the heart of a hook up. When it's a friend it's hard. So be kind, be honest, and you will have the same behavior returned to you. As I said, when I ended it he took it very well and even agreed that we were better off as friends. What I made very clear was that I wanted a relationship, and even further, I told him he didn't. I didn't ask. I told him what he wanted based on what he told me in the past. That he wasn't ready for one and that I was too good for him. So I told him “yes, I am too good for you… so I'm moving on.” I was completely in control and told him what he had always told me, but in a way that he might not want to hear. So, even if things had not worked out, I honestly would have been at peace with friendship.

    So thanks Susan! Seriously, keep up this blog. And to everyone else reading this and going through this and not commenting, please do! It honestly helps everyone involved :)

  • susanawalsh

    VJ, that's a really good point about hurt people hurting other people. This makes sense in general, but is well documented wrt physical and emotional abuse. Women who are drawn to the tortured soul who endured a damaging childhood wind up with angry, overgrown children, basically.

    I do think LIzzie gets it. She got it even before she wrote to me. She was curious about WHY men do this, and how to tell what a guy is really thinking. You and all the other guys have given her very solid advice and insight. Let's hope she heeds it.

  • susanawalsh

    Stuart, welcome! I am delighted to have your input here. This comment is a great additional insight to the discussion. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a young man the other day.

    He goes to a local university, is in a frat, not a total player, perhaps, but has had some success with girls thanks to his relatively high social status in the college scene. He mentioned a young woman we both know at his college, very attractive, but not particularly sought after by guys. I asked him why he thought that was. He said, “She's a good kid.” ???? What? Um, is that a problem? He said that she's not the girl guys are going to enjoy screwing over. I asked him who that girl is. He said, “The bitchiest sorority girl. The materialistic chick who is super elitist and mean. I mean, basically, she's not a good person, she doesn't have good values. That's the girl everyone wants.”

    I really couldn't believe this. He went on to explain that bringing a girl like that to heel is about the best thing a guy can do in college. You want to make that girl needy for you, take her down. Now, this isn't a bad guy, I like him quite a bit, so don't shoot the messenger. I believe him that this is a reflection of how things go at college, particularly in the Greek scene.

    The woman who mom would approve of is of no use for most 20 year-old guys. I believe and hope that she'll get her due in a few years, but for now, the young guys will happily prey on girls mom certainly would not like, perhaps because they feel no guilt in doing so.

  • hambydammit

    I'm starting to see a lot of what I think is a false equivalence. I don't think Beta equates to “Looking for a a committed, long term relationship.” But it seems like a lot of the folks commenting here think of it that way. Beta just refers to how confident, outgoing, and socially dominant a man is. It doesn't have anything to do with whether or not he wants a LTR.

    I think there is a certain correlation, though. A lot of Betas will latch onto any girl that will fuck them, and keep them as long as they can. But that's not the same as wanting a LTR. It's taking what you can get, knowing there aren't any other options.

    That's harsh, but there's truth to it. The reason it's important is this: Betas don't get a lot of women, but dumb luck works sometimes, and they do occasionally get offers. But they aren't inherently more moral just because they're AFCs. In fact, these are the guys who tend to get bitter at women and do things like spite fucks. If a Beta is bitter at women and is hanging on to one who's “the best he can do,” he's going to drop her like a hot potato if an upgrade becomes available.

    I'm not saying I believe this is what happened with Lizzie. I dunno. We really don't know anything about Ryan at all. I'm just saying it might be good to keep in mind that Beta does not equate to more moral or more desiring of a LTR.

  • susanawalsh

    MWAH, and do keep commenting, we need the women to keep this from being a sausage fest!

  • hambydammit

    Might it be that a lot of women know subconsciously that they don't have enough value to get the man they want? So they take the one that will settle for them? I dunno. Just thinking aloud.

    That's damn harsh, but it seems to me after a bit of thought that one of the main purposes of this website is to teach women to be more valuable. After all, you're constantly reinforcing the truth that men don't value women who put out for anybody who asks… at least not as long term partners. Women who are discriminating and make a guy feel like he's damn special and that's why he's getting the vagina… those are women who are perceived as valuable.

    That's not to say they necessarily *are* valuable, but it gives the up front perception of value, which is usually enough to buy some commitment. They could still turn out to be unloving, selfish bitches, but if they're choosy, that's social value.

    It seems to me there's a bell curve graph to this. If a woman never puts out for anybody, she's seen as a prude, which is negative value. If she puts out for anybody, that's negative value. She has to be seen as choosy, but she also has to give the appearance that being with her would be really damn fun.

    Of course, this has nothing to do with Lizzie, since we have no idea about any of this. I'm just thinking about why so many women accept men who are obviously settling. Maybe some women trap themselves by lowering their value through too much sleeping around. Then they have to settle because they know they can't get the top shelf guy anymore. Maybe? I dunno.

  • stuartschneiderman

    Thanks for the story, Susan. There are girls that guys marry and girls that guys like to #@$&. Now we learn that there are girls that guys like to #@$% over… almost as a way of curing them of their narcissism! I hadn't heard of that, but it makes a certain amount of sense.
    I'm with you hoping that the good girl gets her due… And I think it is extremely interesting that guys recognize her good character and respect it.
    I hope that the economy and especially the job market recovers sufficiently for these men to turn their attention to women they can respect as well as love.

  • susanawalsh

    Hamby, I'm glad you pointed this out. There's something I've mentioned a bit recently in comments, but I will again here b/c it is so relevant. A young reader with high social status who has been burned by cads decided to apply my advice. She was attracted to a guy who is a senior and has never been with a girl at school, as far as she knows. They became friends, and eventually his friend told him that this girl liked him, because he hadn't picked up on it. He could hardly believe his good luck. It took him a couple of weeks, but he made a move one night at a party and they made out. She was so happy, she said, “He got up the balls!”

    She didn't hear from him after that and the next weekend when she saw him out he ignored her. His friend the “wing,” sheepishly told her that he just didn't want a relationship. “He wants to explore his options.” WTF? What options? This is only one example, but it proves your point. He saw an opportunity to leverage this interaction, which everyone knew about, into bagging a new chick. Epilogue: He tried hard with another beauty, but he crashed and burned. Bad strategy. Now he lurks, looking at the first girl with longing, but she swears she is done with Betas.

    Seriously, it's a jungle out there.

  • hambydammit

    I think part of the answer is something you already said. Women give kisses on the nose because they are feeling love. Men give kisses on the nose because it's fun and often leads to sex. Lizzie was interpreting Ryan's actions as if he was a girl. But men don't have to feel any deep attraction to hang out with a girl who doesn't piss them off and does have sex.

    As for the hanging out for 48 hours, my best guess would be that Ryan was doing approximately what he would be doing at home anyway, only there was a vagina nearby. I am not into video games, but I know a guy who hung out with a girl for a few months. When they weren't having sex, they were playing video games. So… he spent all his time at her house because sex and video games is more fun than just video games.

    So the moral to the story is this: When you're trying to figure out what a guy's actions mean, ask yourself this: Is he going well out of his way to do things that benefit you? If so, that's probably a good sign. Is he doing stuff he'd be doing anyway, just doing it with you? If so, it's not a sign of anything at all, good or bad.

  • hambydammit

    Heh… I should have just made one big comment. Anyway, nova triggered something in my brain, and I'm not sure if it's true or not, but it's worth considering. In my experience, when a woman says, “I'm not looking for a relationship right now,” what she means is “I'm not into you.” Looking back at my life, when I've told a woman “I'm not looking for a relationship right now,” what I've meant is “I want to have sex with several different women before I think about settling down (again).”

    I think men look at commitment in a fundamentally different way than women, and it's largely because of the different ways in which men and women process sex. Most women who are sleeping around are trying to find someone to commit to them so they can sleep with just one man. Most men who are sleeping around are trying to keep from getting roped into sleeping with only one woman.

    When a man commits, it's usually for reasons other than sexual exclusivity. For some Betas and AFCs, they commit because they want regular sex, and commitment is the only way to get it. For Alphas, they settle because the package surrounding the sex is good enough to convince them to stop sleeping with multiple women.

  • aldonza

    I don't think Beta equates to “Looking for a a committed, long term relationship.”

    Bingo. We've been attributing a lot of good traits to betas and a lot of bad traits to alphas. Being one or the other (or situationally both) is no guarantee of intent. Betas can be cads too, they just get relatively less opportunity to practice it.

    Maybe we should stop focusing on the labels and start talking more about how to suss out where someone is at in searching for a relationship and being honest about our ability to convince someone who isn't already there.

  • susanawalsh

    Yes, I think there's some truth to everything you say here. I also think women understand that having a relationship confers social status on them, particularly with other women, but it also makes them feel desirable around other men. There was a time when having a “steady girl” increased a man's status too, but those days are gone. That's why a woman will settle for a guy who treats her poorly rather than go it alone. And he obviously would trade up if he could, so he's forced to settle in a way as well. No wonder these relationships are often troubled.

  • aldonza

    About six months ago I started hooking up with Ryan, and it was clear from the beginning that we weren’t heading into a relationship. I think after we’d hooked up a couple of times, I got mad at him for ignoring me at a bar when we were out with our friends, and he said straight out that he wasn’t looking to be in any kind of relationship, with me or anyone else. I said fine, and figured I’d play it by ear.

    Just be honest with yourself…”playing it by ear” meant playing by his rules and hoping that he could be convinced that a relationship with you was a good thing. He was being very clear with you, more clear than most guys.

    When a man tells you something about himself, particularly something you don't want to hear…listen.

    I just don’t understand how I could have misread everything. It felt like a real relationship, we were so connected in every way. I often read where men say that a guy is always ready for a relationship with the right person. Obviously, I’m not that person, and now I’ll have to watch him bring this other girl around. I feel brokenhearted. I’ll never do FWB again.

    You didn't misread a thing. FWB is almost never the right path to something more. If what you want is FWB, fine. But *never never never* go into FWB hoping for more. Now it's possible that feelings develop even if people go into things with eyes open, but that isn't what I'm sensing here. You were more into him from the start and you should've been honest with him and yourself when you realized that hooking-up/FWB was not what you wanted.

    How can guys be so involved and not get attached? I know men and women are different, but don’t guys ever fall for someone they’re hooking up with? Why am I never the right person?

    Simple, he got all of the goodies and trappings of a deeply intimate relationship with none of the responsibility that goes along with it. And you gave it to him on a silver platter. Why wouldn't he take all the good stuff offered? Relationships like this allow him to stay single as long as he wants. He feels no yearning for more because all of his needs are met.

  • susanawalsh

    Yes, it is a home remedy for narcissism! That's a perfect way of putting it, and we know that female narcissism is epidemic in this generation.

    I totally agree about economic security, by the way. With a good portion of the class of 2009 still unemployed, and another group getting ready to graduate, lots of those kids are working for $8/hr. This is hardly enough to grab a few beers with buddies, and it's certainly not going to fund a relationship, even if a woman is paying her own way. Settling down for these people in their young 20s must seem a lifetime away.

  • hambydammit

    Ouch.

    Yeah, here's the sad truth. Both alphas and betas can be good guys or bad guys. I'm pretty sure you're familiar with Athol Kay over at Marriedmansexlife, right? ( http://www.marriedmansexlife.com/ ) If not, you must read his blog in its entirety. Nothing but great advice for how to keep a woman happy and get lots of sex in a committed long term relationship. And let me just tell you, Athol is an alpha. Through and through.

    All alpha and beta refer to is a man's social prowess and extroversion/introversion. That's it. Betas have their good points, to be sure. But they also have their down sides. Pick a beta and you're not going to get the gina tingle when he texts you to say he's going to come home, rip your clothes off and fuck you till you scream. Pick an alpha and you're probably going to spend a lot of years fighting to justify what you want over what he wants, but damn, the makeup sex is going to be great.

    I think it's misguided to advise women to go for a beta in an effort to score commitment without warning that sometimes, beta commitment is settling in disguise. If an alpha commits, you generally know it's for real.

  • susanawalsh

    For Alphas, they settle because the package surrounding the sex is good enough to convince them to stop sleeping with multiple women.

    This is what is so hard for women! They are trying to be the whole package, and repeatedly being told that they are not. You've written a lot about bringing higher value to relationships and I think there's a lot of great stuff there. Mostly, though, it's a post-college strategy, which makes sense.

    In college, I believe the majority of Alphas, if not close to all of them, want sexual variety and they know they can have it. The occasional Duke basketball player with a gf notwithstanding, you're about as likely to be that girl as you are to win the lottery.

  • susanawalsh

    As for the hanging out for 48 hours, my best guess would be that Ryan was doing approximately what he would be doing at home anyway, only there was a vagina nearby.

    Haha, good point! Ryan likes to go for runs, and it's more fun with a partner. He usually eats instant crap when he's alone, so cooking with Lizzie is a step up. Meanwhile, he gets the vagina before the run, after the shower, while the sauce is simmering, and after the wine is all gone. He really wouldn't have to even like her that much to make this weekend getaway appealing.

  • finsalscollons

    Susan, I don't get what's so hard to understand here. This is a common situation and one that is practiced a lot by women. The female version is called “let's be friends”. The male version could be called “let's be friend with benefits”.

    Women and men choose. Women are picky but so are men. The difference is the time where this choice and this pickiness happens.

    Women are picky at the beginning of the relationship, when it comes to have sex. Since men are more interested in sex than women, women have the power (the upper hand) at this point. They choose what man will have sex with them (and the conditions).

    Men are picky in the middle of the relationship, when it comes to commitment. Since women are more interested in commitment than men, men have the power at the commitment time, whether you call it “having a relationship” or “get married”. They choose the woman they will commit to (and the conditions).

    (The so-called patriarchy established a bond between the two choices. Women didn't give sex before marriage.)

    This raises the following question: “What to do with the people that are not chosen?”. That is, the men with whom the woman does not want to have sex or the women who the man does not want to commit to or have a relationship with.

    You could break up with them and not see them again (the most honest attitude). But a common solution is to have them around because they willingly provide you with things that you like, that is,

    - When it comes to women, not-chosen-men (“just friends”) provide with validation, emotional intimacy, help with problems in life and with self-esteem.

    - When it comes to men, not-chosen-women (“friends with benefits”) provide with validation, sex, companionship and fun.

    You could write the story of Lizzie making the following changes:

    - Reverse the sexes (Lizzie is a man and the guy she is attracted to is a woman).
    - When she speaks about sex, you speak about emotional conversations or doing favors (a common male way to show love).

    Then it would read like a typical “let's be friends” story . (I was going to do this transfromation myself but I don't want to bore the readers of this blog). The guy would start wondering why, if he is always helping the woman and showing that he cares for her, she does not fall in love with her.

    In the end, it is a matter of projection. Men don't understand why a woman does not fall in love with them when they are considerate and helping. Women don't understand why a men does not fall in love with them when they have sex and emotional intimacy. That is, men don't understand than women are not men and women don't understand than men are not women.

  • susanawalsh

    At the risk of getting flamed, I'll say something else here. Not all Alphas are douchebags! I have known many such guys as my kids have grown up. Some of them are definitely not good relationship material. But I know a few who are good-looking, athletic, smart and confident, and who are also total sweeties. They have proven their character as loyal friends and gracious guests over many years. They may not be the first to jump into monogamy with both feet, but I do believe that they will make great partners as they mature. Any woman who gets with one of these great guys is damned lucky, even if he is an Alpha, haha!

  • ExNewYorker

    There are a variety of types of cads. The more extroverted ones are the most well known (i.e. Tucker Max), and some of these can even be quite charming (and fun to hang out with).

    But the more introverted can also be cads too (the goth guy, the career first guy, the emo guy). Either because of laziness or other interests, they may not be as active as the extroverted cads, so they'll be more than happy if a hookup or FWB falls into their laps. And, since they are introverted, they'll be happy keeping things at that FWB for months even. But what you get is not commitment, and they'll let it string along until the woman realizes what's going on, or he finds a new FWB. And they always have the plausible deniability: “But I didn't promise you anything”.

  • susanawalsh

    Great wisdom here, Aldonza. This reminds me that I haven't really made a general comment about FWBs. I have never heard of one that worked out well for the woman. To be fair, a woman loving this arrangement is less likely to come to HUS, but in general, I would have to say FWBs are 98% downside. Very, very risky for most women. For exactly the reasons laid out in this thread.

  • susanawalsh

    Well put, finsalcollons. I do think my own tendency to project gets in the way sometimes :-/

  • susanawalsh

    I just discovered Athol Kay on your blog! I haven't read all his stuff yet, but I did really like what he had to say. Then, once I'd heard the name I started seeing him elsewhere, e.g. The Spearhead. So it's a small world. What I LOVE about him is that he says he's a sucker for oxytocin! So yeah, Alpha and good guy all around. His wife is lucky.

  • hambydammit

    I'll offer a slight tweak to one of your statements. A man's lack of a relationship is fine so long as it doesn't appear that he can't get laid. If a man at least gives the appearance that he's getting laid enough, or that he could get laid if he tried, his social value doesn't go down because he's single.

    And yes, I think some women get into relationships to raise their social value, even if the relationship is “settling.” It seems like a lot of single, pretty women believe that their singlehood means there's something wrong with them.

  • susanawalsh

    Yikes. And I had always figured emo guys a sure thing for wearing their hearts on their sleeves. I guess the bottom line is what has been said about sex from the dawn of time. If women get attached when they have sex, then they are best off keeping their legs closed until they receive clear indication that the man is open to attachment. There's really no way around it, as far as I can tell. As long as women ignore this reality, they are going to get hurt.

  • hambydammit

    Yes. I think in college, hoping for a committed LTR is… well… silly.

    That doesn't mean women shouldn't work on being as valuable as possible. It just means that the savvy college girl will recognize reality and either keep their distance in a casual relationship or adopt some other strategy that will keep the sex drive satisfied but won't lead to the merry-go-round of rejection.

    Having said that, college isn't all frat houses and bars. There are some college guys who are mature for their years, but you can't usually find them out at the club. You've got to be in their department, which is usually engineering or pre-med. Which means… well… you know what it means. Less Cosmo, more college.

  • susanawalsh

    Less Cosmo, More College. Sounds like a great blog post, thanks!

  • novaseeker

    Doesn't this really have to do with each of the sexes currently validating, to some degree, what that sex generally “wants” in the mating game? That is, men are validated by other men for having sexual access, even in theory, to variety of women, whereas women are validated for having gained the commitment of a man to them. Seems like that's what's going on here.

  • hambydammit

    Let me reiterate my advice for women in FWB relationships. This doesn't guarantee that it will move to LTR, but it does up the chances. It also ups the chances that the guys who are *definitely* not interested will pack up and hit the highway.

    * Friends with benefits means CASUAL friendship and CASUAL benefits. That means once a week, or maybe twice on occasion.
    * Take a week off, even when you don't want to. Make up other commitments if you have to, but tell him you can't spare the time for him. Do this fairly often.
    * Never, ever, ever get into the habit of talking every day. Talk two or three times a week at most.
    * Do not pick the phone up every time he calls. Even if you want to.
    * Say no to at least one out of every four booty calls.
    * Tell him he can't sleep over. Even if you want him to.

    Most guys will balk at this sort of behavior, but this is where you get to be a high value woman. Explain to him calmly and nicely that you're ok with FWB, but that the benefits are just a taste of what you give in a committed LTR. Tell him that you'd honestly love to fuck his brains out every day of the week, but that's not FWB. That's a LTR, and you're not going to do it until and unless you're in a LTR. Explain to him that eventually, you're looking for a LTR, and if you're seeing him every day, you can't keep your options open for a guy who is also looking for a LTR.

    That last one will drive a lot of men crazy, but it's playing fair. There's nothing wrong with FWB, but if a girl wants a LTR, she has to look for one, and the FWB needs to be on notice that she's going to drop him like the moment a LTR prospect comes into the picture.

    Doing things this way puts the girl in the position of power, and forces the guy to offer more if he's going to get more.

    Here's another option that… well, it probably won't work for girls who don't like giving head, but it's a good option if you enjoy it. Make FWB just oral. Insist on getting yours first, then get him off. Every time he asks for sex, tell him, “Sex is for LTR. This is the only benefit I give to friends.”

  • novaseeker

    Yeah I think college has become a very weird environment. That change was already starting when I was in college (graduated almost 25 years ago) — relatively little dating, more “hanging out” and murky/vague yet sexual “relationships”. We didn't have a lopsided sex ratio then, but nevertheless it was all starting to murk up.

    Given that this has become even more predominant in colleges now, I guess I'd agree that the idea of finding an LTR in college is not happening today. This is an extremely unfortunate development, I think, because college is one time when you are around a good number of people who could make good mates all in one place. Once you leave college/grad school, you have a wider group of options, but also much more variability in there. Oh well, I doubt that can be changed at this point.

  • hambydammit

    Ooooh! I like this very much. You're exactly right. You could reverse this story, and it would make perfect sense. And the advice to a guy would be exactly the same — you gave too much for what you were getting in return. Which is why all the PUA stuff tells men that dinner, drinks, flowers, all that stuff is a reward for sex that has already been given, not a bribe to try to get sex.

  • ExNewYorker

    Sometimes the best truths are the old truths.

    But it's akin to the harsh reality the betas face when they realize the reality of the sexual marketplace. Most guys understand that implicitly (even if they don't want to admit it) because we are usually the active pursuers. In these post sexual revolution days, a lot of women will probably learn that truth the hard way, which is a shame as well.

  • hambydammit

    Yes. Exactly. Men and women validate their own sex for accomplishing the general mating goals of that sex.

  • hambydammit

    That's precisely the problem. Too many good choices, so why would anyone pick one? That's one of the nasty parts of human psychology. So long as we feel like we have lots of great options, we are loathe to commit to one for fear we'll miss a better one.

    When I was in grad school, there was a common joke about girls in really easy majors. We said they were going for their M.R.S. degree. (Mrs.) But I think the reality is that they were just going for their FWB degree because M.R.S. is doctoral level.

  • novaseeker

    Hehe, that's pretty funny.

    Thinking back to when I was in college, it seemed like people were reluctant to do the LTR both because of the too many options issue you mention as well as the issue of not wanting to be constrained geographically and so on following graduation. It's a hard issue to crack, really, and because there isn't one underlying cause, I doubt it will really change much overall at that level. Individual people can change-up what they are doing, of course, but the structural issues that seem to be driving that environment don't seem easily changeable.

  • susanawalsh

    You have shared this before, and what I like about it is that it recognizes that no matter what I say here, many women are going to hook up with guys. That's a given. This is at least a plausible example of how a woman can have a casual sexual relationship without becoming totally miserable. Lizzie was definitely guilty of acting like she was in a LTR. I think some of the men would say that even this approach is projection, but often women will take their chances rather than sit out their college years. And this is certainly better than what happened with Lizzie. It's also in keeping with my own view that sex really is a transaction like any other, with perceived costs and benefits for both parties (even if supply and demand are way out of whack at the moment).

  • Decoybetty

    I just wanted to comment on the projection topic that was brought up in the comments (also, I am sorry for Lizzie…that situation sucks. And I actually think that she handled it remarkably well) – I used to think that if I couldn't imagine my life with the guy I was dating with then it wasn't meant to be. LIke I'd go on a first date and if my mind didn't wandered along to what our tooth brushes would look like next to each other than I obviously wasn't feeling the chemistry. The truth is, I didn't feel any chemistry with Inspector Climate on our first date. In fact, when he put his arm around me, I was terrified that he wouldn't be able to hold me up. I used to live for the fantasy, but the truth is the reality is so much better – IC never made me guess what his look meant. or what he meant when he said this or that. I never had to talk to friends for hours about his intentions because he made them blatantly clear.

    Now I project onto the to the job search – I just can't stop.

  • hambydammit

    Yeah. The real problem is that college is a buyer's market for men, and that just isn't going to change. It's unfair to ask women to remain celibate during the most sexually charged 4 years of their life, but it's also unfair to tell them that they have to play by men's rules or stay celibate.

    As you've very astutely pointed out, it's a matter of smart negotiation and literally treating sex as a commodity. It's unrealistic to expect any man to wait for a LTR commitment for sex, but it's perfectly realistic to hold out frequency, sleepovers, and easy access. In fact, my advice to women in non-LTR's is exactly the opposite as for those in them. In a LTR, women should say yes to sex pretty much anytime they don't have a migraine. In a FWB, the guy should always figure he's got about a 40% chance of getting laid. That's just enough that he'll keep coming back, but it holds out enough that he wants more. Badly.

    That's where the leverage comes in. The savvy woman will look the guy dead in the eye and say, “Prospective man of mine, I promise you by all that I hold holy that if you ever decide you want to commit to me for the long term, your dick will be so sore you'll think you've gone to pussy heaven. Until then, you get it when I want it bad enough to give it to you. And that's it.” If she's really daring, she'll say that with her hand on his crotch. Then, get all nice and polite and say, “Anyway, I've got stuff to do today. Call me on friday and maybe we'll hang out.”

    It's like magic, I tell you.

  • Emma

    “If a woman always tries to “leave him wanting more”, she's going to get dumped by any man worth having, as he can go get more somewhere else, to be blunt.”

    Are you saying we should give them what they want, (ie causal sex)? That to get a man “worth while” women need to give the guy…sex?

  • susanawalsh

    Haha, I think projecting onto the job search is less personally risky! It doesn't sound to me like you projected onto IC – you didn't need to. Blatantly clear is good. And in your case it was very good, because you hung in there even tho the chemistry didn't knock your socks off on date one, and now you are IN LOVE!

  • Mike

    I think there is a certain correlation, though. A lot of Betas will latch onto any girl that will fuck them, and keep them as long as they can. But that's not the same as wanting a LTR. It's taking what you can get, knowing there aren't any other options.

    There is truth here. My first GF and serious LTR who I also lost my virginity to was a solid 8 to 8.5 in the looks department. I thought I had hit the jackpot and thought I might never do that “good” again. Of course, I ignored that she was deceitful, selfish, manic-depressive, and basically overall nuts. I eventually married her and we were divorced inside a year. My experience with her was one catalyst for making the transition from very beta to more alpha-like.

    Anyways, my experience and conversations leads me to believe that men either operate from a perspective of “scarcity” or “abundance” when it comes to women. Guys with the scarcity mentality talk about getting “lucky”. Overall, betas *may* be more committment oriented but in many cases they are just sticking with the one they got “lucky” with because they really aren't sure they could replace her without going through a lengthy period of celibacy.

  • Melissa

    Unfortunately, things are still more complicated than this. I've been seeing this guy for 2 months and a half, who has been doing EVERYTHING in the checklist above (both meaningless and with possible meaning) and i still feel pretty confused about his actions.
    Because he travels a lot and never calls me, texts me, or emails me while he's away, because he hasn't brought up the exclusivity convo – and obviously doesn't plan to do it any time soon-, because he's never curious about what i'm up to, who i have been with, etc. , because when we're together he's prince charming but when we're not, he doesn't seem to miss me.
    So i have to agree with the statement: 'the bottom line is if there is no explicit emotional connection that has been verbalized ——> you have nothing.'

    P.S. Hi Susan! I'm back!! :)

  • novaseeker

    Anyways, my experience and conversations leads me to believe that men either operate from a perspective of “scarcity” or “abundance” when it comes to women. Guys with the scarcity mentality talk about getting “lucky”. Overall, betas *may* be more committment oriented but in many cases they are just sticking with the one they got “lucky” with because they really aren't sure they could replace her without going through a lengthy period of celibacy.

    BINGO.

    Absolutely correct.

  • susanawalsh

    The savvy woman will look the guy dead in the eye and say, “Prospective man of mine, I promise you by all that I hold holy that if you ever decide you want to commit to me for the long term, your dick will be so sore you'll think you've gone to pussy heaven. Until then, you get it when I want it bad enough to give it to you. And that's it.” If she's really daring, she'll say that with her hand on his crotch. Then, get all nice and polite and say, “Anyway, I've got stuff to do today. Call me on friday and maybe we'll hang out.”

    OMG this is fantastic! It makes me wish I was single just so that I could try it out! I guess that is why they call it having him by the balls.

  • susanawalsh

    MELISSA IS BACK!!!! Oh, Melissa, we have missed you here. Welcome back and thanks, as always, for sharing your experience.

    Yes, the bottom line is for real. BUT. Most guys will not initiate that conversation. And when he asked you once before if you were seeing anyone else, as I recall your answer was “You're too nosy mister!” Haha, I liked that, but I think it's time for both of you to lay your cards on the table, for better or worse. And if you're tired of the uncertainty, it might have to be you.

    If he flakes, I'm going to fly over there and hit him over the head.

  • http://FT.com/ VJ

    A really good point from Decoy B., I can't tell you how many women friends I know who date, and after a single date just know, 'There's no future', 'I wasn't feeling any chemistry'. Or even more tragically 'He was dressed all wrong'(!) or 'I didn't like the way he walked, chewed his food or talked.' Again not What he talked about, (often it's quite interesting actually, by their own admission), but the Way he talked about it. He 'dropped his r's slurred his 'p's, talked like a Southerner/Mid-westerner whatever.

    Now go to those assisted living facilities. The ones where husbands & wives can live together (there's a few). And simply ask 'Well how did you get together?' (This was made famous by the 'When harry Met Sally' bit, but it's never the less true. And you'll get answers like, 'She refused me for months, until I persisted'. (Umm that would be President Harry Truman. And Dick Nixon too. Look it up!) Eons of “I did not like him at first, but momma said give it some time'. Oddles of I was never attracted to him/her until it was late one night & I heard them sing. (It happens. Even to 'average looking' Billie Holiday. And Maria Callas for that matter. Many times!) Something finally opened your heart towards love & that person. You saw them for the goodness others knew them for, their hard works, their passionate art, even their devotion to a cause. (You want a crazy example for the latter? Judge Robert Bork, [yes, him] snagged a former nun. They shared a passion for conservative politics!)

    But all this takes some time. Some good sense & plenty of luck. And goodness knows there's plenty of 'gaming' going on in the meantime. But I remain firmly convinced that if you really want to get married & have kids as a priority for a young or even youngish woman? You can achieve this. Now for the guys? It's been much more tenuous, no matter how rich or fortunate they might be throughout history.

    Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

  • Rebekah

    I read through all the comments and none of it is rocket science. It scares me that women, and I am one, can be so dense. Why are girls surprised when scenarios like this happened. He told you from the get go he didn't want a relationship. When I hear that from a guy now I do not think his mind will change after he sleeps with me. I think…well this one is not getting a piece. Since I know what I am looking for when I hear those words I am out the door. When are women going to wake up and take men at their word for a change???

  • susanawalsh

    VJ, the link you sent me to UVA contained an article on divorce, as I mentioned previously. In reading it, I saw that it attributed the high rate of divorce in part to expectations – today we demand a “soul mate” match. This was rare through most of history.

    Yikes, a nun got Borked! It just shows that anything can happen if people are open!

  • susanawalsh

    Rebekah, good insight, as always. I do think women are wising up to a degree, at least the ones reading here are :-) But yes, it is painful every time I get this question. I'm especially grateful for all the advice from the guys. I may have to turn that into a post of its own. There's actually very little info available on how guys think – women are much more likely to “share.”

    You are smart, for sure, not wasting yourself on guys who act like idiots. You are also strong, independent and sure of what you want. This is very hard for women Lizzie's age, who are still inexperienced at sex and relationships. That's why the advice of older women is so valuable – it's a dose of real world experience. There used to be a way of passing that knowledge down, but it's mostly gone. Maybe HUS can fill a small part of that gap.

  • hambydammit

    If I was a woman, I would rule the world by now.

  • ExNewYorker

    I think those may be from a time before I followed your blog. I'll have to look back on your archives to check them out…

    I remember seeing the Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds “Persuasion” sometime in the latter 90's during a two year-stint in Austin, Texas, but I don't really remember how I wound up going to the movies for it. But it enchanted me…and of all the Austen books, it's my favorite.

    And while it's popular with the ladies, it does also indicate to men the qualities of the type of women who truly are worth pursuing, as Anne was for Captain Wentworth.

  • Melissa

    Hahaha, thanksss Susan. And you're right! as usual! :)

  • susanawalsh

    verie, a;ldkfja;ldkfja;lkdfj;alksdfj , what an update! That stinks! I am so sorry he revealed such a critical nature. Also, it's so ridiculous – it is extremely obvious from your photos that you are a very slender woman. I give you a lot of credit for being able to walk away from someone so exciting – so many women would have remained and wasted a lot of time.

    I am glad you have begun dating someone more stable. Keep in mind that guys like him are not about the instant spark. He may have many attractive qualities that will be revealed over time. Women want bad boys for the excitement, but we also want a soulmate. The problem is, they're almost never found together. It's often got to be one or the other, and we must choose.

  • susanawalsh

    No doubt! You'd be like a sexy Margaret Thatcher, haha. You know, I can imagine you giving “bootcamps” for women – could be lucrative!

  • susanawalsh

    I love that BBC production of Persuasion. I agree that JA revealed what good character means in women as well as men. Emma focuses on this quite a bit, and of course there are the repellent Bingley sisters in P&P. Anne and Capt. Wentworth are both such good and earnest people that we want them desperately to be together.

    Also, btw, Austen did not have her women fall for cads. Game guys (very literary ones) will sometimes talk about how women fall for guys like Anne's cousin William Elliot, Wyckham in P&P or Frank Churchill in Emma. But Austen's women always figure out the true character of these men before they become emotionally invested. Willoughby is a rogue who does win the heart of the girl, only to dump her, and JA gives us a real warning and lesson there.

    I would love to see someone write a doctoral thesis on this – does JA reflect the true nature of women in her novels, or is it projection?

  • aldonza

    The savvy woman will look the guy dead in the eye and say, “Prospective man of mine, I promise you by all that I hold holy that if you ever decide you want to commit to me for the long term, your dick will be so sore you'll think you've gone to pussy heaven. Until then, you get it when I want it bad enough to give it to you. And that's it.”

    LMAO! Listen up ladies, this man is letting you behind the curtain with this one.

  • aldonza

    It works. *whistles and looks innocently at the ceiling*

  • aldonza

    I don't consider dinner, drinks, etc. to be a bribe for sex. Honestly, I'd much rather things were divided evenly from the start. However, I have discovered that a man that is into me *wants* to do those things for me. Call it a shit test if you must, but it's been pretty reliable for me.

  • aldonza

    It's no way to live, but honestly VERY hard to give up that level of chemistry and attraction when things are perfect in every other way. But i did because I knew it wasn't good for me.

    Things weren't perfect in every other way. What you had was a high chemistry score…which feels so very good that it obfuscates any other imperfections. But here's the thing: chemistry fades. It just does. And when you've seen him adjusting his crotch for the thousandth time while watching yet *another* college basketball game (is March the longest month ever???), what will be left? A lot of little snipes that will slowly erode your sense of self.

    Good for you.

  • vera44

    Sigh. I know. But does chemistry really fade with time? I haven't had a long enough relationship to know — even if you have that feeling that you fit together perfectly initially, does that feeling fade away? Conversely, can it be built if you're not initially feeling it?

  • aldonza

    It does. Some couples manage to keep things hopping all the time, but they're not the norm. They can even track levels of neurotransmitters to show how “in love” people feel.

    But that doesn't mean there's no hope. I love how Al Turtle explains all this: http://al.turtlecounseling.com/blog/_archives/2

  • susanawalsh

    Haha, you go girl!

  • susanawalsh

    Oh, I like that link! Who is Al Turtle and how did you find him?

  • susanawalsh

    Stuart Schneiderman has written a post inspired by this one. He adds some good insights, most notably about how two people consenting to exploit each other for sex doesn't make that exploitation ethical. Good stuff here:

    http://stuartschneiderman.blogspot.com/2010/03/

  • novaseeker

    I think what he's saying is that if the guy is saying he wants casual sex and not a relationship, don't proceed to provide casual sex with the idea you may convince him into a relationship, or try to change his mind by building fascination and so on. If he says he only wants a casual thing, take him at his word. If you don't, then don't provide him casual sex if you are looking for something else.

  • novaseeker

    It converts to something else — more stable, less spikey. If the memories of the spark and what caused it are still there, that usually works well enough.

  • Mike

    There is a recurring theme in many of the comments, and I think it something one subset of your target audience of women desiring LTRs should pay attention to, and that is men do and I think will *increasingly* distinguish between the “hookup” girls and “relationship” girls.

    I think you especially see this more and more in younger guys who sort of are now understanding the game from their early 20s (see the Frat boy comment you know) versus guys like me who kinda got clued in later in life. The Internet is the great equalizer in terms of information so it is pretty hard for a guy to be naive .

    I think you dislike him but Roissy had a pretty powerful post in response to a conservative pundit article filled with some pretty vivid examples that I really have no reason to doubt the veracity of. Even if he is lying about his specific examples, I've got a few natural alpha player friends, and worked as a bouncer for a bit so I know what is going on out there, that the rate of sexual disloyalty amongst women is climbing at the rate I wish my trading portfolio was.

    http://www.womensinfidelity.com/

    So your analogy is a good one, but I think incomplete. Guys want to visit the exotic destination, but they are very concerned there will be many other visitors even if supposedly they think the exotic destination belongs only to them. In contrast, they will be more likely to settle down permanently at a nice, cozy home because they will be more confident that the home really just belongs to them.

    So if you want the committed LTR, be the cozy home, not the exotic destination.

    Susan, I have another theory that you may or may not find surprising although I'm not as sure on this one compared to what I told you about a new 6-7 versus a 8 you've been with repeatedly for a long time.

    I think men feel the pain of sexual disloyalty to a magnitude much greater then women, perhaps 3-5x greater. I can't prove this because I am not a woman so I don't know how a woman feel's when she finds out her boyfriend or husband is cheating, but it is based on a combination of observation and the way women talk about it. I was cheated on by my ex-wife so I know how powerfully that hit. Look at classic texts like Othello.

    What is my point here? My point is because of how deeply scarred a man can become from infidelity from a woman he truly loves deeply (and I think it was you who posted something about when a man falls he falls hard and I think this is true as well), and because of the current realities (again see the Roissy post examples) men have an absolutely massive incentive to do the best they possibly can to screen how potential cheaters as LTR/committment material and throw them in the “hookup” box just as women throw guys in the friend box.

    I was reading a blog discovered here which is Married Man Sex Life and he talks about this in a recent post and that higher casual sex partners is correlated with increased cheating.

    Bottom line, men have every incentive to be very careful and choosy in making a LT committment, the Internet has created a situation where very few men are likely to be ignorant. Therefore, for the woman/girl wanting a LTR she has to be choosy about whether she is going to be an exotic destination or a cozy home.

  • Bozo Sapien

    > higher casual sex partners is correlated with increased cheating.

    It's not just that, but the whole bonding mechanism gets messed up. There are only so many bullets in that clip.

    Once a woman has had 5 sexual partners, the probability of pulling off an intact marriage dips under 30%; it is under 20% when the number of sexual partners reaches the upper teens.

    > men have every incentive to be very careful and choosy in making a LT commitment

    Something not very widely appreciated in these days of widespread “men will screw anything that moves” ideologies, not the least because choosy men tend to be invisible to women.

    Any biologist will tell you that choosiness in general is related to how much an animal invests in mate and (especially) offspring. When males invest heavily, they are very choosy. One could argue that human males invest more in their offspring than any other animal on the planet, and so can be quite choosy when it comes to LTRs, marriage, and having kids.

    Women's seeming obsession with thinking like whores, in terms of maximizing their return on sex, obscures other, much more important, qualities men look for. (And, no, “inner beauty” is not really one of them!)

  • AT

    Married 13 years here, and if there's one thing I can tell you about long term relationships, it's this–it has its ebbs and flows, and the level of love you feel for your partner, as well as the attraction, the chemistry, the spark, will not be constant throughout the years. Some days you look at him and think, bleh. Some days you just want to rip his clothes off. Some days you crave space, other days you can't let him out of your sight.

    Like novaseeker says, it changes, mutates, if you will, into something else–if you're lucky enough, the sense that, whatever happens, whatever curveball life throws your way, your partner will still be there. The chemistry may become muted, but what I've seen in a lot of good, working relationships is this (mine included)–the spark strengthens to become a true bond between two people, one that can withstand time, distance, and trials. It won't be as exciting as the initial flurry of being newly-met, and really, it's so difficult to sustain that, especially when you're dog tired raising kids and paying the bills and working to keep afloat. But it becomes something better–a sense of partnership, that someone has your back, that you're in this together for the long haul.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Life happens while you're in a relationship. One of you can get sick. Tragedy can happen. You can, like us, have a special child, which can sorely test any marriage, but luckily for us we were both commonsensical enough to not let it get us down. Media's conditioned us to think “happily ever after” just happens. It doesn't. I've said it before and I'll say it again–the hardest work you'll ever get to do comes AFTER the “I do,” because now you're slipping into the familiarity of commitment, and every thing it entails, all the good, the bad, and the ugly of living with someone 24/7. Chemistry is all well and good, but really, a decade of making love to the same person thrice a week or so CAN become rote, and while fireworks can still happen, it becomes more of the comfort of the familiar, which can be just as good.

    Bottom line is this–people are not static. Who I was 20 years ago isn't the same as who I am now, and neither is my husband. The core is there, but all the experiences add up, and they invariably change us. Emotions aren't static either, and the giddy feeling we once had when we were dating isn't there anymore, because it's changed into something more substantial. The fitting together is something you work at through the years, in that you try not to grow apart as you grow as a person, and that means not taking your relationship for granted just because you've been together for years, which is something that happens to a lot of long term couples who find out after the kids are gone that they have nothing in common anymore.

    And initially? I didn't feel the spark when I first saw my husband. Even my best friend felt he wasn't my type (previous three boyfriends were tall, model material–hubby, while goodlooking, is only 5'4″) and wondered what I was doing with him. But three dates in I realized that intellectually, we just clicked, and we had the same way of looking at life, the same goals, the same core beliefs. So if I had limited myself to the usual sort of men I dated, I'd have missed out on one very special man. So yes, it CAN be built up, but there HAS to be raw materials to build on. You can't force something out of nothing.

  • DJ

    Wow. I certainly agree with you here. When I was in my 20's, I saw my brother go through a nasty divorce involving children. I began to think about children and future marriage and I totally wrote off the kind of women I had heretofore been dating, which I knew the moment I met them were not LTR material. I think the Schneiderman post Susan linked to is on point here. I grew up in a family of all boys so I didn't really have much opportunity to learn about women. I went to my mother for advice, whom I was very close to. Her first piece of advice – don't marry unless you want children and never marry young. Her second piece of advice, it is o.k. not to want to marry at all as men may have multiple visions of the “good life,” some of which don't involve marriage and children, whereas women tend to involve relationships in any goal they have. Most women, according to my mom, are not marriagable, but will nevertheless want to “nest” at some point in time, most likely when she is considering children. You need to be a stable provider to have a stable marriage, full-stop. She then talked to me about a list of qualities that would make for a good mother and faithful, life-long partner. In thinking about my tastes in women for LTR, I distilled them down to the following (there is no order of importance here):

    (1). Pretty but plain. My mother was born Amish/Mennonite so the “plain” meant not only not flashy, but modest. Sexy women often seek, and are used to, frequent male attention. They run back to it when things get tough.

    (2). Limited sexual history. No hookups, period. It connotes a number of things, all of which are potentially detrimental to long-term marital stability. It could be validation through sex, fickleness, a desire to explore as opposed to bond. It also tends to be scarring, and you'll never truly know whether it has scarred you LTR until you are already invested.

    (3). Relationship with family. Her parents, siblings, and extended family should be where her social life revolves around. My mom suggested I marry a woman from an Asian or Latin culture and I did, with no regrets.

    (4). Focus on partnership qualities and not primarily chemistry. A woman who states that chemistry or spark is extremely important is to be avoided as LTR material. Chemistry takes a back seat when you're cleaning tar-poop off a baby's bottom, believe me, I have three children.

    So that's it. Notice cooking and cleaning are extraneous. I actually like to cook to bond with my kids, and we can always hire a maid if need be. Focus on these qualities, and seldom or never hook-up, and you'll have men lining up to commit to you.

  • DJ

    I typed too fast. Two other qualities I think are important in determining whether a woman is LTR potential:

    (1). Good with money. I absolutely love that my wife looks for coupons; and
    (2). No, I repeat no, narcissism. Narcissism would seem to be the last quality a good mother and wife would want to have.

    Finally, men can have sex with almost any woman, but will give out commitment only sparingly. The environment is not conducive to commitment for men, and the woman must be special, and come into his life at the right time, before he will go there. Men, and women, should think with both their heart and mind. Just my opinion.

  • susanawalsh

    Mike, it's useful that you drive home the point about how much sexual experience women have, because it comes up again and again. When I discuss this with women, they get really upset — it's like they're hearing for the first time that there is a sexual double standard. Fairness is not the question. It's a matter of biology, and women need to have their eyes open about this issue in order to make good long-term choices. Every time a guy is honest about this, women learn something about the harsh reality, and they really need that. Because their girlfriends and the players are not going to share this info, tho obviously their reasons are different.

    I agree 100% about men feeling jealousy more. In fact, it's directly tied in to the double standard. Psychologists believe that jealousy as an emotion evolved so that men could pressure women into not cheating on them, and making life quite uncomfortable if they did. A man who was cheated on might well raise another man's child, and we know that still goes on today quite a bit. In the contraception post thread, I think someone said up to 20% of births are the product of cheating. That seems very high, but I know it's a surprising number (at least to me).

    I like your cozy home analogy, but I do think women need to be careful not to let themselves become an old pair of slippers, haha.

  • susanawalsh

    Bozo, great point about the bonding mechanism. I'm not sure whether this is chemical, or whether we get jaded and cynical from casual sex, but either way, it's a problem. One of the reasons that hookup culture is now thriving right up to the late 20s is that young people have never known anything else. One doesn't just graduate from college in May, and start asking out women on dates in June. Guys have their routines, they know what works, and in fact many of the women they'll meet after college have come up through the same system. It just perpetuates itself, and there is very little practice relating on an emotional level.

    Of course men have every incentive to be choosy. As do women. A woman who chooses a man for sex who shows clearly that he is not the relationship type is selling herself very cheaply. So it's not surprising that she would then be perceived as someone of low value.

  • susanawalsh

    Finally, men can have sex with almost any woman, but will give out commitment only sparingly. The environment is not conducive to commitment for men, and the woman must be special, and come into his life at the right time, before he will go there.

    DJ, this is SO SO good it gave me goosebumps. That quote is a keeper.

    BTW, you would also probably love the blog Mike mentioned above if don't you don't already know it. It's Athol Kay's blog, and it's very good.

  • aldonza

    Al Turtle is a relationship therapist. He is a disciple of “Imago” relationship therapy (http://gettingtheloveyouwant.com/), but he takes the theory and gives it his own spin and explains it probably better than the original author. I *heart* Al and recommend reading more of his stuff to anyone in a LTR.

  • PJay

    Agree.

    Why can't I have the cozy, but exotic destination slippers woman with 6-inch spike heels?

  • Beta Guy

    I really enjoyed DJ's wisdom as a married man speaking to a single man!!! Great crystalization of sentiments that have been floating around my head.

    Being brought up by a single feminist mother I felt it was wrong to “judge” women's sexual history, but from experience I am finding a correlation between their sexual experience and the quality of their relationships.

    DJ brings up a good point that you don't find out how emotionally detached a woman with past promiscuity can be until you are already involved and emotionally comitted.
    Years ago I went through the hell of trying to maintain a sincere relationship with a woman that was into the pattern of : create a fight, pull away, I appologize and get great sex, then repeat the cycle. I wanted no part of that volatility but I didn't learn about her past sexual lifestyle until we were sexually involved.

    Susan writes about a woman loosing market value with more sexual partners but my problem is MEN HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING what she's up to unless you live in an isolated community. After my rocky relationship, I have become hypervigilant to signs of my prospective partners secret past lives, whether fair and accurate or not I'd much rather err on the side of caution.

    Today, I run from any of the following: more piercings than two earlobes, visible tattoos, smoking, cynicism, mysandrist comments, sexually provocative flirting, volatility in their level of interest, not investing with phone calls or suggesting activities, etc.
    I've had some “close calls” with women I was attracted to but they would dissapear for a few weeks, then call me up to see how I was doing. The fact that I wouldn't take the relationship to a sexual level with them seemed to frustrate them to no end since in retrospect they were really trying to get emotionally untangled from their relationship of the month.
    Those choices have made me single for many years now, but I've experienced some good dating experiences that didn't work out but also didn't leave emotional scars.

    Any other suggestions to guys on how to sus out a woman's character before you get emotionally involved? I'm getting better at it but always looking to learn more!

  • Beta Guy

    To follow up on my other post, I had a few experiences of being shaken after developing feelings for what I thought was a “good girl” and found out through the grapevine how wrong I was.
    My red flag heuristic had totally failed me with a few women that had professional careers and outwardly kind and positive demeanor.
    From that, I find that it takes time, sometimes months of being around them before you find out that they are still out hooking up. Still, I'd like to find a way to figure this out early as I tend to develop feelings just by spending time together.

  • Mike

    Any other suggestions to guys on how to sus out a woman's character before you get emotionally involved? I'm getting better at it but always looking to learn more!

    I've got some thoughts here, but this really isn't the appropriate venue to get into this sort of thing. This is a blog for women so I try to keep my comments more on how a guy thinks so women can understand the male perspective.

    Since I can't respond directly to you via e-mail, I'll just say go check out Roissy's blog. He has addressed this subject.

  • Mike

    When I discuss this with women, they get really upset — it's like they're hearing for the first time that there is a sexual double standard.

    Maybe they are hearing it for the first time? You would know the average 20-24 year old female much better then me, but I think they grew up in a completely different society then even I did (I just turned 36 and am a child of the 80s). They grew up with Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera being “Dirty” and Lil Kim telling them to “Lick the Lollilop” so I wonder just how aware they might be of previous standards? Maybe growing up in the late 90s, early 00s girls had a completely different set of views?

    Fairness is not the question. It's a matter of biology, and women need to have their eyes open about this issue in order to make good long-term choices.

    Exactly, “fairness” is something we impose on a world or set of conditions we don't like. That is what I was trying to unsuccessfully get across to Steveo. In a “fair” world, guys wouldn't have to demonstrate “confidence”, swagger, cocky-funny, sexual assertiveness, social proof, extroversion, etc. but that isn't reality so deal with it.

    Similarly, women simply have to accept that the overwhelming majority of guys put highly promiscuous women in one box and LTR material in another. Fair is irrelevant, it is what it is, so if you want a LTR with a quality guy you are going to have to behave according to sexual standards unless you are content with being the go to booty call just as the omega will have to be content with jacking off to porn his entire life. The system is bigger then you are.

    Now, strategically a woman can adapt in a couple of ways just like beta guys can adapt. They can either actually be “good girls” or they can be promiscuous and fake being “good girls” just like a beta can mimic alpha behavior. I think the latter will be tough to pull off for a long time, although the incidence of cheating with men having no clue certainly would indicate many women are very good at it. Of course, then the ante gets upped one more level, and men are trying to learn how to distinguish an authentic good girl from a fake just as women shit-test guys to try and differentiate the real alpha from the faker.

    Another personal story. I met my current GF in the gym AFTER she had lost about 100 pounds (from 200+ to around 120, she is currently a figure competitor) which I didn't know when I first saw her. Interestingly, when I first saw here I thought she was like 22 and actually turned out to be 32. Ha ha, joke on me. She would wear these pink shorts with her hair tied in pigtails, and she was there just about every day working out at 5 AM. FWIW, I first approached her with something I learned from Game which is to open with a situational opener rather then some cheesy “Hey baby” crap.

    Anyways, I don't remember exactly how long it took, probably a few weeks before we first had sex, maybe date 6-8 but I never thought she was a slut. I thought we had a genuine connection from Date 1 so the fact that she “gave it up” after a few weeks wasn't a negative so I don't think there is some magic number of dates or timeline, but definitely not within the first 3 dates otherwise the guy will be wondering how many other guys banged you on a Day 1 or Day 2.

    Later when we were discussing our sexual histories, she told me she had been with 4 guys but had been essentially celibate until 30 because of her weight. Now the troubling part, she had told me one was a fling, and one was a one-night stand. Now I was seriously concerned that I misjudged her, and was ready to pull the plug on the relationship in its infancy as a LTR, but a buddy who had met her kinda talked me down, and said I needed to discuss this thoroughly with her. We did, and she was able to explain to me making a mistake in the context of being completely ignored for 10 years, and then getting sexual attention. As a side note, I would point out that former fatties who turn hot need to particularly be on guard for pump and dumpers who will push every button. Anyways, I was able to empathize having been a 22 year old virgin myself who lost a lot of weight.

    Bottom line, most guys will not consider you damaged goods or a slut for a few mistakes here and there, but guys will be very wary and judgemental if you have a pattern of one hookup after another after another so either don't do it, or learn to hide it, but smart guys will figure you out.

  • Mike

    I think someone said up to 20% of births are the product of cheating. That seems very high, but I know it's a surprising number (at least to me).

    I don't have the link handy, but I remember reading a study on this. The number was highly dependent on whether the guy was already suspicious or not. When he was NOT suspicious, the number was fairly low like 3-4%. In cases where the guy was already suspicious, I think it was something like 30 to 40%. In any case, I wholeheartedly support mandatory paternity testing at birth, and I suspect we will see a battle here on this. But again from a simple economic/human incentives perspective the best way to prevent certain bad behaviors is to have very effective, powerful deterrents in place. If women knew unequivocally there is no way they will get away with it, I suspect the rate of cuckoldry would absolutely plummet. Cheating would still occur, but no halfway intelligent woman would try and pass off another man's child on some dupe.

    I like your cozy home analogy, but I do think women need to be careful not to let themselves become an old pair of slippers, haha.

    Well, I agree. Most men want “sexy” not Plain Jane but it is pretty easy to do sexy/classy without looking slutty. IMO, a good rule is don't show too much. If you show a ton of leg with the CFMN heels then cover up on the top and don't show any cleavage, shoulders. But if you show off cleavage, shoulders, neck, then cover up the legs. IMO, that is the difference between looking sexy and looking like a prostitute which is the look many club girls are putting out. And please, we are VISUAL creatures. Don't expect a raging hard-on with sweatpants, a t-shirt, and ZERO makeup.

  • ExNewYorker

    Ah, but Susana, her characters do fall for the cads. Marianne Dashwood for Willoughby (as well as Eliza). And Lydia Bennet falling for Wickham, Maria and Julia Bertram for Henry Crawford (and Maria torpedoing her marriage in the process). The cads were up to their usual actions, and the women fell for it.

    Now granted, these characters weren't the main protagonists, but even the main characters had near “moments of weakness” with cads: Elizabeth had some attraction to Wickham, as did Emma for Frank Churchill.

    One of my good friends, married to my best man, mentioned once that while the Darcys and Wentworths were beloved as the ideal men, modern day women seemed to be falling for the modern day Wickhams, Willoughbys and Henry Crawfords.

    For the clever man, it is quite a task to find an Anne Elliot. It seems a lot of modern women prefer to be Elizabeth Elliot.

  • ExNewYorker

    When I was younger, and in full beta stage, I probably could have “settled” if an attractive woman had shown interest and she happened to have had a few hookups in her past.

    But as I got older, got less beta, and gained confidence, the number of acceptable “hookups” for someone I'd consider committing to long term became smaller and smaller, eventually winding up at zero.

    And yes, that is terribly unfair. But the average beta suffers that same unfairness every day in his teens and twenties. They just eventually realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but it takes some work and patience.

  • ExNewYorker

    I agree with most of your points here.

    1) Plain meaning not flashy.
    2) Limited sexual history…it doesn't mean a prude, but limited numbers indicate a measure of self control and long term thinking (this also applies to guys, to a lesser degree…man whores don't make good faithful mates).
    3) Connection to a large family is a plus…and even if she didn't have a perfect family life, a certain respect for her parents is a must.
    4) This one I slightly disagree with. Some measure of chemistry is needed, to spark the relationship. But it doesn't need to be Romeo and Juliet level…just enough so that you look forward to “frolicking” together.

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  • susanawalsh

    You're right! I'd kind of put those secondary characters out of my mind. And of course, Austen makes each one of those a cautionary tale. Because we are so fond of Marianne, she gets to have a good life with Colonel Brandon, who loves her despite her poor choices. The other women are not sympathetic, we don't really care that Lydia is doomed to a miserable life.

    I agree with your friend's observation, but here's an even more troubling idea: there are virtually no Darcys and Wentworths today. We have forced the goodness and integrity out of them, and they now are indistinguishable from the bad boys. Or perhaps they're the betas (Bingley had a beta nature, for sure), and they find that they don't get anywhere unless they've got a Pemberley-type estate.

  • aldonza

    Perhaps Miss Austen wrote the books as sort of cautionary tales to the women of her time? Begs the question whether she would just start-up a blog if she were alive today.

    For the clever man, it is quite a task to find an Anne Elliot. It seems a lot of modern women prefer to be Elizabeth Elliot.

    I beg to differ. Anne Elliot was very clearly *not* one of the normal “high-value” women as defined by most men. She was older, a spinster, “very pretty girl, but her bloom had vanished early”. Further, she had no fortune to recommend her and her appeal was more of a quiet sort.

    In other words, not an HB10.

    There are plenty of Anne's around, many of them as virtuous as the literary Anne. They just aren't dressed in miniskirts and platform heels and hanging out at the local club.

  • ExNewYorker

    Ahh, but while most men might lust after an HB10, most men don't wind up with an HB10. So, most men implicitly accept that they'll be “settling” in some form.

    And moreover, I mentioned that “the clever man” would be looking for an Anne Elliot, and by “clever man” I refer to those with high future-time orientation. For such reformed betas, the girls described as having “miniskirts and platform heels and hanging out at the local club” might be worth a hookup, but no more.

    And Anne recovered her bloom, even her vain father “began to compliment her on her improved looks.” :-)

    Maybe it's the school and industry I work in, but I found very few “Annes” around. It took a while to find one, literally in another state.

  • Colette

    Susan Walsh,
    You are a goddess.  Gentlemen and gentle ladies who post alongside – I salute you all.  Your insightful commentary has been a good dose of wisdom for a 22-year-old who recently ventured out onto the FWB limb…and came crashing down to the ground (no worries though, there were many leaves to break the fall and I wasn’t so high up :D).
    Yay for comments! and for this blog! and sharing!

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Colette, thanks so much for leaving a comment, and welcome! Glad you are OK – I hope you will check out some new posts and comment again!

  • what

    honestly, some of the stuff being written hear disgusts me. what the majority of people seem to be saying is that if a woman can’t get the relationship she wants, it’s her fault for a) being essentially a ‘whore’ (having sex too soon, having sex in the past, having sex full stop!) – yet it’s fine that the man wants to sleep around or have no strings sex? b) not being ‘wife material’ ie. not pandering to traditional ‘feminine’ gender roles c) being too much of an individual, too emotional, not doing what men ‘prefer’ etc

    this is out and out archaic! why all the woman blaming? how about some of these men try to change the stereotypical ways in which THEY think? this is just playing on the insecurities and desperation of many women who are unsure of how to act due the the still completely sexist society that we live in. it’s not these women that need to change their attitudes, but everyone else that still believes in the ‘madonna vs whore’ nonsense!

  • Tom

    I think it is easy for women to get caught up in this trap. My fiance has told me she was in some imaginary relationships. Similar to this woman the article is about. Women OFTEN mistake a mans intentions, even if he has stated he is not interested in a relationship. Most the signs are there. They spend lots of time together, do things that might be fun. Even have spats. Oh, and the sex  might even be great. To her it looks like a relationship has formed or is forming. However, once it starts to get stale, and it will if the guys emotions are not involved, she is dumped for another woman. Typically he keeps her around for the sex,. but when a new version comes along, good bye!

    For quite some time, my fiance was certian I would probably dump her, as the others did. In my opinion the other men failed to look beyond the sex and discover the great woman and mom she is……She is far from tainted or used up from her experiences. If I didnt know about her past, I would have no idea.

    Just as some women are attracted to bad boys thinking they can change them, a lot of women think by being attentive and having lots of sex with a man, they can change his view of not wanting a relationship with her.. Doesnt work that way in most cases.

  • Tom

    @ WHAT

    The double standard is alive and well on this site. How dare a woman have sex outside a relationship, just who the hell does she think she is?

    Most men can not handle the thought of “their” woman (possessive term) having sex before she even knew he existed. For some reason they think she is either used furniture or tainted if she has. But for some reason their dicks survived the “used and tainted” activity just fine.  I`m a man and I think the way many men think is tainted.

  • Jesus Mahoney

    This is clearly Tom’s favorite subject. No, scratch that. It’s Tom’s ONLY subject.

  • SarahLund

    What us women tend to do in our minds is we try to translate any kind of problem the guy is having. It’s as if womens minds have automatically been wired to be suspicious of men. This is where i start feeling sorry for the man in the relationship. Man: “Honey I don’t feel like having sex tonight. I have a headache”. Woman: “What are you trying to say?”. See. Women are too quick to get all suspicious before finding things out. I believe everything a man tells me. To go pointing fingers, when you don’t have evidence is taking it out of proportion.