Is Casual Sex Destroying Empathy?

October 19, 2010

A recurring theme in conversations about dating is the general lack of empathy between the sexes. Women feel that men just want to use and discard them, with little consideration of their emotional needs. Men feel that women focus on just a few alpha males, ignoring all the good guys who are relationship material. (The alpha males have no complaints.)

At the same time, both sexes complain about narcissists. Women like the Holmes sisters in the recent Washington Post article about dating dealbreakers demonstrate a sense of entitlement with a long checklist about what men need to have to date them. Men like Tucker Max view women as little more than “ejaculatories;”  warm, wet receptacles designed for male pleasure.

I’d never thought specifically about empathy vs. narcissism but it turns out they’re technical opposites. The Empathy Deficit, an article in last Sunday’s Boston Globe, explores the rise of narcissism in relation to the decline of empathy among college students. Keith O’Brien begins by pointing out that despite young people being more wired to one another than ever before, there’s a lack of emotional connectedness showing up in studies. We know more about one another than in any previous era, but we care less. A new study at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research found that college students are 40% less empathetic than they were 30 years ago, with most of the decline occurring in the last ten years. (As an interesting aside, HUS regular Mike made this exact observation just a few days ago.)

The Michigan study looked at 72 previous studies conducted since 1979 that looked at measures of how students feel about “other people’s misfortunes” and whether they have “tender, concerned feelings” for others. Mark Davis, a psychology professor who studies empathy, explains why it matters:

As awful a species as we can be — and we certainly have the capacity for terrible things — we’re also capable of some pretty wonderful things, noble things, self-sacrifice. And the fear would be, if there really is a genuine decline in our ability to act on this capacity we have, the world becomes meaner.

Studying empathy is a relatively recent phenomenon – the word didn’t even enter the English language until about a hundred years ago. Furthermore, there’s not firm consensus in the scientific community about its precise definition. O’Brien points out that “psychologists studying empathy still disagree on some basic questions about how it should be defined: Is it feeling for others? Feeling as others feel? Understanding how others feel? Or some combination of the above?” There is agreement, though, that there is an emotional component. Aaron L. Pincus, a professor of psychology at Penn State University says:

It’s not just putting oneself in another’s shoes. It’s truly grasping what they’re experiencing….Your emotional state will move in a direction more similar to the person you’re empathizing with.

Empathy is difficult to study because subjects tend to give answers that make them seem more empathetic (just as they tend to fudge the numbers on the number of sexual partners they’ve had). However, researchers have found that survey results are fairly accurate in predicting behavior. Pincus continues:

Spouses who score higher on empathic concern are more likely to offer emotional support to their partners. People capable of seeing another person’s perspective are more likely to help and less likely to exhibit aggression. And those who are narcissistic are probably going to be less empathetic. Generally speaking, there’s a lack of empathy as narcissism increases.

The contemporary narcissism epidemic is well documented. My Are You Dating a Narcissist? post is one of my most frequently read, and still receives comments after more than a year. I also get many hits on the 20 Identifiable Traits of a Female Narcissist post. And we know that male narcissists are often very successful with women – in a sexual marketplace that rewards narcissism without limits, it is hardly surprising that men would respond to those incentives by cultivating traits that women find sexually attractive. It should be noted that a degree of narcissism is useful and even necessary in society – it drives achievement and provides motivation for innovation. The problem occurs when narcissism metasticizes into the prevalent modus operandi.

The Michigan researchers found that the ability to think about how someone else might feel, or cognitive empathy, is declining, but there has been a much greater decline in empathic concern, defined as the “ability to exhibit an emotional response to someone’s else’s distress.” In other words, college students may recognize someone is suffering, but they don’t care very much. This measure of empathy dropped 48% between 1979 and 2009, and most of that drop has happened since 2000.

Researchers can only speculate about why.  Many are focusing on the role of technology in making relationships less personal – young people are connected, but not deeply. Others cite the media/culture, and the high divorce rate. Today’s young people have been raised to compete aggressively, and it’s not difficult to see how viewing a classmate as an opponent might stifle empathic concern.

I am interested in the potential intersection between narcissism, or lack of empathy, and casual sex. Since the definition of hooking up means “having zero expectations of  further contact,” there’s little incentive to know one’s sexual partner, and if we don’t know them, we can hardly be expected to have an emotional response to their distress. For starters, we’re unlikely to even be aware of their distress, drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Being drunk:

  • Inures us to the awkwardness of selecting a sexual partner we don’t know.
  • Inures us to potential rejection.
  • Masks personal feelings of rejection, i.e. distress.
  • Emboldens us to behave without inhibition.

The result is that we prevent ourselves from feeling distress, and from recognizing it in someone else. The remorse that many women and men feel after hooking up usually doesn’t arrive until the next morning, and by then we’ve separated, blissful in our ignorance of another person’s feelings, focused only on our own.

Researchers don’t believe that college students have lost the capacity for caring. It’s more a case of the incentives rewarding not caring. A woman who finds herself an emotional wreck after hooking up may either opt out of the practice or succumb to the rather addictive need for male validation. Over time, she learns to manage her distress by dismissing it, denying it, and adopting the persona of someone who prefers sex without expectations. Having low expectations is one way to minimize the distress of disappointment.

From The Empathy Deficit:

In recent years, W. Keith Campbell, a narcissism expert professor of psychology at the University of Georgia, has run a series of experiments where he places four people in charge of forestry companies harvesting an imaginary 200-hectare forest. He gives them permission to cut down 10 hectares a year, stipulating that 10 percent will grow back. The question before the participants is: Will they limit their short-term gains for the long-term good of the group? Or will they cut down as many trees as possible, thereby exhausting the resource for everyone much faster?

The narcissists — those focused primarily on themselves — always do well, Campbell said, harvesting more trees than the others in the group. But soon enough, the system is destroyed and everyone is worse off.

“So if you have a society where a lot of people are narcissistic, the whole thing blows up,” he said. “It implodes.”

This strikes me as the perfect metaphor for the current sexual marketplace. Women, who control access to sex, are greedily harvesting the male attention being offered. Most of that attention is sexual in nature. They’re going for the hookups with attractive guys, believing that they’re better off with the short-term gain of male validation than they would be if the whole female group was judicious in its distribution of sex. The most narcissistic females (see Karen Owen) aggressively target the highest status males, taking them off the market for at least the duration of a hookup, and providing strong incentives for men to offer sex without commitment, or indeed without empathy.

What are the implications of all this sex without emotion? How far will we go in order that we may feel something? Karen Owen felt gratified upon discovering that her body was covered with bruises after sex. Stuart Schneiderman has written about the feminist guilt of Jessica Wakeman, a writer for The Frisky, exploring her desire to be dominated in the bedroom by having a man hit her. Is this desire to be not only sexually submissive, but also physically struck a way of feeling something? Does physical distress serve the purpose of crowding out feelings of emotional distress? In some perverse twist, is seeking physical aggression a narcissistic act, in that it assures that all of our emotional concern will be focused on ourselves?

College students have not lost the capacity for empathy, but they seem to be getting rusty. Averting our eyes from the distress of others as well as ourselves reduces communication, introspection and understanding. All critical skills for successful relationships. It makes each of us an island, and being disconnected makes us lonely.

I’m not sure whether low empathy for others draws us to casual sex, or casual sex reduces empathy as we focus only on our own pleasure. I suspect both are true.

Practice empathy.

Look for signs of emotional distress in others, and seek to mitigate it.

Focus on sex as an experience of sharing yourself emotionally, and seek partners who exhibit the same orientation.

The truth is that lacking empathy for others and from others feels like crap. And that means we need to find another way.

  • The good news is, unlike the forestry metaphor, it’s not a zero-sum game. I don’t think we’ll be running out of men or women anytime soon.

    I can’t say enough good things about empathy.

    It’s a quality worth developing. it can be tough because it HURTS to be empathetic, and it tends to be an undervalued trait–at least publicly. 

    Also,  generally, the best way to get empathy FROM others, is to develop empathy FOR others. But many of us fear being empathetic or being the first one to open up for fear of being taken advantage of.

    I really love being empathetic. It might not get the press other qualities do, but behind closed doors it gets a lot done. And the rarer it becomes, the more valuable the people who have it become.

    • Also, generally, the best way to get empathy FROM others, is to develop empathy FOR others.

      So true! Reaching out is important. Another thing I’ve found that works is sharing a vulnerability or asking for help when I’m trying to get closer to someone. Nearly everyone responds well to an overture of real and meaningful communication. On the occasions when the person kept their distance, I figured I was dealing with an emotionally reticent person and it just wasn’t a good match. I need that genuine empathy, but I’m also willing to provide it. As you say, that is getting harder to find. I also think many people have a difficult time receiving empathy. Those who welcome the sharing of empathy are definitely worth cultivating a relationship with.

  • I think empathy is increasingly regarded as weakness these days.

    • I think empathy is increasingly regarded as weakness these days.

      Yes, I’m afraid that men in particular feel that it signals supplication, but it’s not about putting the other person on a pedestal, or putting their needs before your own. It’s really just a mutual acknowledgement of our humanity and our need for love and affection, or at least understanding. People can display empathy even when they’re rejecting you.

  • Half Canadian

    I think that empathy is decreasing because:
    1) Religiosity is decreasing.  Like it or not, modern religions push concern for others.
    2) Familiarity breeds contempt.  The more we know about each other, the more we know that each other is annoying/immature/insufferable (I dub this the Obama effect).
    3) The ability to create relationships is easy.  We place less value on things that are easy, higher value on things that are difficult.  But since relationships are easy to create, they are also easy to replace (I’m just pulling this one out of my hat).

    • @Half Canadian
      1) Good point about religion. Most religions include moral teachings on empathy, kindness, the Golden Rule, etc. Societies that are becoming more secular do not have the formalized indoctrination in these principles. Families should do it, but one look at a typical American elementary school will show that this is not happening sufficiently.
      2) Re familiarity breeding contempt – I wonder how that ties into technology. I know that it’s easy to look at Facebook and start judging people we barely know. We are familiar with 10% (or less) of who they are, but we are much more likely to come away with a negative impression of someone than a positive one. Women are particularly bad about this – I’ve seen young women amuse themselves by criticizing other girls’ fashion choices in Facebook photos. They can do it for hours at a time.
      3) I don’t agree that creating relationships is easy. Not in this SMP. It requires leaps of faith, a lot of trust, and a willingness to delay gratification. Most young people aren’t prepared to risk those things.

  • 1)The distinction made by the Michigan folks between *cognitive empathy* and *empathetic concern* is very important…too often, these are treated as the same thing.  A successful con man will likely have a lot of the first but almost none of the second. A well-intentioned but emotionally clueless individual may have more of the second than the first, like the boy scout who helped the old lady across the street even though she didn’t want to go.
    2)This stuff is really hard to measure.  Asking someone whether he has “tender, concerned feelings for others” is  often likely to elicit a response based on what he thinks he’s *supposed* to say rather than his actual behavior.
    3)To the extent that empathy has really declined, I doubt if it’s exclusively the result of the trend toward casual sex: the years of *self-esteem building* that kids are subjected to surely plays an important part.
    4)I also think Athol Kay is on to something with his remark about empathy increasingly being regarded as a weakness. In parallel with the squishy-soft politically-correct propagando, people–especially women–are urged by the media to be tougher, harder, more selfish.
     
     
     

    • To the extent that empathy has really declined, I doubt if it’s exclusively the result of the trend toward casual sex: the years of *self-esteem building* that kids are subjected to surely plays an important part.

      Sorry, I didn’t mean to suggest it was exclusively about casual sex at all. I think there are numerous factors at work here. And I agree – the self-esteem movement bred a whole generation of little narcissists.

      In parallel with the squishy-soft politically-correct propagando, people–especially women–are urged by the media to be tougher, harder, more selfish.

      I can’t think of a tougher, harder, more selfish group of women than Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. Sex and the City was a thoroughly enjoyable, but insidious show that messed with the minds – and character – of young women.

  • Chili

    It’s not easy to “cultivate” something like empathy. I always thought being empathetic was something certain people are born with and others are not, just as some people are more aggressive, or more intelligent, than others.
    I agree that there’s not a lot of empathy in my generation. Sometimes I wish there was more. On the other hand, if we were to care about every earthquake, every tsunami, every breakup, every car accident, every little and every big thing that happened in the world, we’d explode. There’s so much shit going on, it’s easier to not care about anything than to care about everything.
    I don’t think casual sex leads to a lack of empathy, I think it’s the other way around.

    • On the other hand, if we were to care about every earthquake, every tsunami, every breakup, every car accident, every little and every big thing that happened in the world, we’d explode. There’s so much shit going on, it’s easier to not care about anything than to care about everything.

      Chili, this was actually mentioned in the original article. Some researchers questioned the effect of 24/7 cable news, and its effect on the minds of young people. Disasters everywhere, told in excruciating detail, and shown over and over again. How many times did we see the plans fly into the World Trade Center? I saw that hundreds of times, though I didn’t let my children see it at all.

  • Matt T

    I kinda expected an article like this that implicitly exhorts females to be “judicious in their distribution of sex”. Oh well, it is what it is when the interests of the sexes are opposed to one another.
    The reason that sluts and prostitutes are allies of males in the sexual marketplace is that they prevent females from charging too high a price for their sexual wares, so to speak. Why would a man invest 5 dates to get to bed with a woman when he can bed an equally good-looking slut in 1? Or just hire a prostitute?
    This is why women engage in slut-shaming and hate prostitutes: they undercut other female sellers in the sexual marketplace.

    • The reason that sluts and prostitutes are allies of males in the sexual marketplace is that they prevent females from charging too high a price for their sexual wares, so to speak.

      Good point. That’s why the guy commenters will often tell promiscuous women, “Hey, I love meeting women like you!” Of course, when these women hear the, “but, I wouldn’t marry you” they get very upset. You are correct about slut shaming – it is a direct result of intrasexual female competition, and it serves a purpose, though its effect has been greatly weakened in the last 40 years. Interesting note about prostitutes, I mean sex workers – who are now also allies of sex pos feminists.

  • Susan…”sharing a vulnerability or asking for help when I’m trying to get closer to someone”
    BizWeek recently cited a study done a a SUNY social psychologist in which individuals were paired off and assigned questions–one batch got factual questions (“what did you do over the holidays?”), while the other got more questions requiring more self-revelation (“what are your most treasured memories?”) BizWeek says “The pairs who were forced to be more vulnerable in their answers formed incredibly quick, deep connections. One pair even married.”
    OTOH, I know a company where the senior executives were at each others throats more than was desirable. The HR VP and the CEO suggested that “When you need help from one of the other execs and it’s really important and time-critical, use these specific words: ‘I need your help.'” It may have done some good, but relationships still left much to be desired.

    • @david foster
      Oh, you are an excellent commenter – always coming up with interesting references. I’m not surprised that the vulnerable pairs connected quickly. Which reminds me – apparently there is a variation on speed dating called eye gazing. Participants sit down at a long table and don’t speak – just maintain eye contact for 2 minutes:
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/15/AR2010041506103_2.html?sid=ST2010041602681

      The founder of these parties, Michael Ellberg, has just published a book, The Power of Eye Contact. Sounds pretty interesting.

  • Athlone McGinnis

    “The alpha males have no complaints”

    I don’t agree. On many PUA/Manosphere forums(notably Roosh and Roissy), I see plenty of complaints. I’ve seen many successful PUA’s on Roosh’s forum in particular note that becoming an alpha male and gaining success in the dating market can often lead to the strongest misogyny. Roissy can be called an alpha male, and yet he is one of the most cynical and critical of all with regards to male-female relations in our society.

    You can get an idea of the thought process these guys go through and what I’m outlining here in these links:
    http://www.rooshvforum.com/thread-2239.html
    http://www.rooshv.com/the-dark-side (Roissy has a post like this to but I’ve forgotten its title and can’t find it right now).

    Even the alphas have to deal with consequences.

    • @Athlone
      Vincent Ignatius often says the same thing about women – he just can’t stand female nature and the way we think. Personally, I think this attitude must be a by-product of Game. Most men do not view women this way – it seems to be a direct result of taking the Red Pill, and perhaps of which women PUAs tend to target. I don’t know. However, I’m still recovering from Roosh’s current post, 30 Types of Pussy. First, I’d like to observe that he doesn’t seem to really understand the clitoris AT ALL. My guess is that he rarely makes women come. Second, he states categorically that he won’t go down on a woman. Third, he is incredibly misogynistic – much worse than the guys on his forum. Perhaps they should not be learning from him. Why, oh why, would any woman with an ounce of self-respect ever stoop so low as to bang Roosh? He’s ugly and dirty both inside and out.

  • SayWhaat

    There’s an empathy quotient online here: http://glennrowe.net/BaronCohen/EmpathyQuotient/EmpathyQuotient.aspx
    I scored a 67…which according to this, is insanely high, haha. Then again, I’ve always been one of the more empathetic people in my social circles. I cry at nearly every sentimental moment in movies. : p

    • @SayWhaat
      I got a 67 also! Here is my absolute favorite:
      18. When I was a child, I enjoyed cutting up worms to see what would happen.
      Hmmm, how about killing small animals. What would Dexter score?
      That’s a fun quiz, thanks for the link.
      P.S. Sometimes I cry during news stories, or even obituaries, especially if the person was young. It’s ridiculous sometimes.

  • Women don’t want to offer empathy and don’t particularly value it in men.

    • @Omega Man

      Well I do, and I do, though I don’t doubt that has been your experience. There are many female narcissists around.

  • The eye-contact speed dating sounds interesting… Any time we let our primal instincts take over, I bet there will be some fireworks.
    As far as the issue at hand, I have to agree with Athol. Coming from the “game” world, I know that women are viscerally attracted to narcissism in men (Dark Triad trait, which I’ve used to great effect). There are girls that call me an arrogant jerk, and they are the ones sexually pursuing me the most aggressively. Of course, it’s all an exaggeration on my part, though once you really get into game, you start to change who you are as it becomes internalized.
    I think that narcissism and empathy are opposite traits as you said, and empathy is more female in nature. Men are attracted to female compassion the way women find narcissism sexy. Just look at the season finale of Mad Men! Not to spoil too much… but the ultimate alpha male Don Draper is completely won over by an empathetic family woman. I find it so sexy when a girl has compassion and shares herself to help others. That is, unfortunately, a dynamic we have discouraged in modern, masculinized western women.
    Though I will also add that, like all things, we need a balance of both sides to be complete as human beings.

    • @Dagonet

      Of course, it’s all an exaggeration on my part, though once you really get into game, you start to change who you are as it becomes internalized.

      You’re the second person to point this out – Game leading to outright misogyny. It’s true that women are attracted to the Dark Triad traits, although not all women are created equal in this. Research shows that it depends on personality traits – specifically, high risk-seeking, low agreeability and high neuroticism. In other words, quality mentally healthy women are far less susceptible to the charms of a narcissist, though anyone can be taken in.
      .
      Re the Mad Men finale, I’m still trying to make sense of it. I just wasn’t believing it as I watched it. It was as if someone slipped Don Draper a magic love potion or something. I think it must say something about wanting a woman who has no idea who he really is (unlike Faye Miller).

  • Sasha

    The reason I stopped hooking up was because of the lack of empathy.  In a relationship you receive empathy and knowing that the person you are with cares about your emotional well-being whereas in hooking-up all you are getting is some mutual masturbation and A LOT of emotional distress.

  • Dagonet…”Men are attracted to female compassion”..i f this is true…and I think it is…then the whole “princess” think which is inculcated into girls is pretty self-defeating. Maybe there are some *real* princesses who are compassionate and have a sense of responsibility for others, but that is not the meaning of the princess archetype which is being promulgated.

  • @Susan
    I don’t know how you interpret what I said as misogyny. Narcissism, focusing on myself and being cocky, doesn’t equate to misogyny. Plus, I balance it out with genuine conversation and– yes– empathy. But the playful cockiness drives girls crazy. It’s not misogyny if the girl is having the time of her life being with you.

    • @Dagonet
      Sorry, I didn’t mean to accuse you of being misogynistic. Athlone had mentioned upthread that some of the most successful guys at Game wind up hating women. (This was in response to my claim that alpha males have no complaints.)
      I’m not sure playful cockiness is being a narcissist. In fact, just to play devil’s advocate, I think you could claim that it’s empathic – giving women exactly what they want. Narcissism is when you really don’t care how much fun women are having with you, because you’re only after one thing, and that’s your own pleasure. Genuine conversation, empathy plus Game? Pretty much the ideal combo, and also necessary for an LTR.

  • J

    Vincent Ignatius often says the same thing about women – he just can’t stand female nature and the way we think. Personally, I think this attitude must be a by-product of Game. Most men do not view women this way – it seems to be a direct result of taking the Red Pill, and perhaps of which women PUAs tend to target.

    I’ve had this same vibe since the first CR post I read.  PUAs have the same contempt for women that con men have for the marks they take advantage of.  I think ultimately the contempt reflects the contempt they have for themselves as well.

  • J

    It’s true that women are attracted to the Dark Triad traits, although not all women are created equal in this. Research shows that it depends on personality traits – specifically, high risk-seeking, low agreeability and high neuroticism.

    In other words, exactly the sort of women that PUAs describe as being attracted to them.

  • filrabat

    This isn’t directly relevant to relationships but it IS directly relevant to another area of our lives – money, business, and financial success.  Hence, I think such obviously narcissistic attitudes as promoted by Social Darwinism can easily flow over into our attitudes about relationships. Here’s the article about why the US business model/philosophy, for all its ability to create short-term prosperity based on cut-throat, weak-vs-strong paradigms, utterly fails in the long run:
    http://www.utne.com/Politics/How-Social-Darwinism-Fails-Us.aspx” target=”_blank”>What Darwin Didn’t Mean: How Social Darwinism Fails Us

    Another article on a Discovery.com blog site, inspired by the above (and a much easier read) is http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/06/survival-of-the-nicest-social-darwinism.php” target=”_blank”>Survival of the Nicest: Social Darwinism is Biomimickery Gone Wrong

    The first article is very long and involved, but the basic idea of why Social Darwinism failed in the business world (with lessons to draw for general human relations, including romantic prospects) are. Basically, a Social Darwinist business culture does the following:

    1. It fosters the wrong incentives (yes, Susan, that’s where I got that phrase from!)
    2. Promotes Short-Term Get-Rich-Quickism.

    In a little more detail..

    1. Rewards Unscrupulous Behavior (without ‘cumbersome rules and regulations’, the strong have less incentive to behave scrupulously)
    2. Too quickly equates profits with wealth, ignoring that businesses can rake in tremendous profits without contributing REAL goods and services
    3. Stifles Constructive Criticism and Creative Thinking – quicker to roll out the money maker even if it has design flaws than to stop the assembly line to correct those flaws (implicity treating customers with contempt).
    4. Makes Human Beings into Commodities, with ruinous effects on morale (again, treats humans with contempt)
    5. DIRECT QUOTE: “And finally, it promotes short-termism, the most pernicious incentive. Social Darwinism compels an obsession with easily quantifiable, immediate metrics of success. Clear-cutting an ancient forest (for
    development) would be rewarded in an “efficient market” for yielding quick profits, while ignoring less-quantifiable damages (to the local ecology) that would far outweigh the initial gains.

    I’m sure most posters can extract plenty of analogies from these points that apply to relationships.

    “Survival of the Nicest” basically states that “soft” evolutionary characteristics can be at least as important at assuring species survival as “hard” (i.e. stereotypical Darwinian) ones. Talks about apes caring for their injured, for example.

    I know Certain PUAs love to use Darwinian Evolution as a model to follow. Wonder how they stack up. Not all PUAs, of course, but their loudest proponents.

    • @filrabat
      Those are both interesting articles. Actually, I went to the links before I read your comments, and came back prepared to post the 5 worst effects of Social Darwinism, only to found you’d already done so. I agree that this framework could easily apply to relationships in the current SMP.
      .
      One thing that’s interesting is that Darwin never intended to have his theory applied in future. He was looking entirely in the rear view mirror. Clearly the author believes this was irresponsible in light of how his theory has been applied to justify all kinds of greedy practices.

  • VJ

    Yes, says the college reactionary sadists! See here via CSpan2/ BookTV. NO empathy is required for dating. Just the violence and suffering & struggle Demanded by certain un-comely wenches. No Really: [Via TPM]:
    http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/10/young-conservative-unleashes-nerdy-c-span-rant-on-ex-girlfriend-video.php?ref=fpc
     
    Cheers & Enjoy! ‘VJ’

    • @VJ
      Wow. Uncomely indeed. What a pair! Eat or be eaten, I guess.

  • NMH

    Women value empathy in a man only if he appears strong in the first place. Empathy is not the kind of quality in and of itself that will get women sexually attracted to a man.
    I grew up in a generation where I was brainwashed by the feminist zeitgiest to think that empathy and giving a shit for a woman were enough to  get a woman interested in a man sexually;  needless to say, I never got laid until I was able to learn the truth from the likes of Roissy.
    Although Susan’s suggestions for increased empathy are understandable, men need to understand if they want a woman in their lives then the way a man expresses his empathy must be carefully considered: only when a man has established some kind of “alpha” character to the women in the first place. I think a man who is more naturally  “beta” is better off keeping expressions of empathy to himself or else it might make him appear only weaker.
    These “rules” are so unintuitve to me and many men that sometimes its just not worth the effort.
     
     
     
     

  • I’m having great trouble dealing with with the a href function.

    You don’t need it. Just type in the link and it will activate automatically.

  • The Deuce

    Reminds me:

    And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

    -Matthew 24:12

  • bsg

    personally, i have empathetic fatigue. 

    i dont have a study to back this up, but most people rarely act on intellect alone.  take a benign issue like recycling.  most people will agree that recylcing is a good idea.  but to get a person to make an extra effort to recycle, there needs to be some sort of emotional hook.  so recycling proponents may resort to hyperbole when talking about the effects of too much trash in landfills or the oceans, with lots of pictures of animals and fish tangled up in trash.  efforts to stop global warming will include lots of film of drowning polar bears.

    marketing departments have the formula down pat, and it is even used to sell products.  but after decades of this, people have grown jaded and have built up resistance to being emotionally sucked into causes and products.  with the constant bombardment of issues, products, and various victims of crimes paraded in front of me every day, it would be draining to care for each and every one of these things.  so i have made a rule for myself to try to not care about anyone outside of my circle of family and friends. 

    on top of that (as mentioned in the op), my eyes have openned to see how often narcissists win.  waiting for karma and comeuppance for asshats is no longer satisfactory.  i realized i had to dip my toe in the water and wade in the pool of self-absorption in order to get what i want in life, so i did.

    as a result, i am still an empathetic person, but my range has narrowed considerably.  i still have empathy for people with similar circumstances to my own (both past and present), but i have few heart strings left to pull.  its probably for the best.

  • PuffsPlus

    Hey, I got a 42 on the empathy test, which is slightly low for a woman, apparently.
    .
    One observation: that test is put out by Simon Baron-Cohen, noted autism researcher and cousin of shock entertainer Sascha. This test for empathy helps to establish Asperger’s and autism, two disorders that cause a notable lack of empathy in those who have them. I wonder if the noted rise in autism-spectrum disorders in the last 20 years has anything to do with the increase in the lack of empathy in younger people.

  • Puffs…interesting point about Aspergers, etc. To the extent that the empathy results are meaningful, it would be interesting to know the *distribution* as well as the *average* of the results…maybe there are 10% or 20% with very low scores who are skewing the mean.

  • I’m sure other people do this, but as a parent, I’m constantly asking my son how his behavior may make other people feel.  Children, of course, grow their ability to see outside themselves slowly, but I think it’s good to try and fertilize that growth by asking things like, “How would you like it if he took your toy?” or “Would you want someone to call you names in front of your friends?”  even when they are very small.
    Just an anecdote – awhile back my sister got a puppy, and my son loved to play with him.  Once she was driving him home after a sleepover, and she asked him how he liked Tucker.  “I like him a lot,” he said.  Then he added hesitantly, “I kind of like my own dogs a little bit better – because they’re mine – but don’t tell Tucker that because it might hurt his doggie feelings.”
    She assured him very seriously that she would not tell Tucker.

    • @grerp
      Empathy is most definitely taught by parents. Of course, when parents themselves are narcissistic, that doesn’t happen :-(.
      I applaud you for asking questions, and encouraging your son to think of others that way. One of my kids’ most powerful memories is a time when I confessed how I had excluded a girl in my high school from joining our musical competition because she was disabled and couldn’t dance. I know, it’s terrible. That’s why I’ve never forgotten it. The group decided she couldn’t join, and elected me to deliver the news which I did. It’s the action I regret most in my entire life. That story really stuck with my kids – I got teary telling them about it, after an incident where someone had been cruel to a special needs kid. They learned the lesson right there, and to my knowledge neither one has ever excluded or bullied anyone.

  • J

    @NMH

    Women value empathy in a man only if he appears strong in the first place. Empathy is not the kind of quality in and of itself that will get women sexually attracted to a man.

    empathy-strength=wimpiness
    strength-empathy=bastard
    empathy+strength=real man

  • Sox

    empathy-strength=wimpiness
    strength-empathy=bastard
    empathy+strength=real man

    That sounds about right.  However it’s also all relative to the woman in question.  A guy has to at the least appear stronger than she is/perceives herself to be.  It’s also very hard for a guy to go straight from wimpiness —> real man…there usually is the bastard phase in between.

    • @Sox, @J
      J, I too like your formula. I also think Sox’s observation is interesting – that passing through a bastard phase is necessary. It makes sense, and the only downside is that some percentage of men who practice zero empathy never come back.

  • filrabat

    @J
    What kind of strength do you mean? Often, I find that phrase as vague and/or arbitrary as “friend”, “happy”, “normal”, etc.?
     
    Either I must be average, a poor test taker, or the questionaire needed a “moderately (dis)agree”, for I could give that answer to a lot of those questions.  Anyway, my score is very close to average: 44 (most men score 42).

  • Jeff

    J—I’d like to be able to believe that, I really would. But woman after woman talks about how attracted she is to jerks, and often it’s not just that the jerkitude is associated with positive things but that the jerkitude is itself an attraction factor.

    If compassion is perceived as female, maybe absense of compassion is perceived as masculine.

    empathy+strength does NOT seem to always, maybe not even usually, be more attractive to women than the bastard combination of strength-empathy, at least using empathy to mean actually caring about other people rather than just having the ability to manipulate them.
     
     

    • If compassion is perceived as female, maybe absence of compassion is perceived as masculine.

      empathy+strength does NOT seem to always, maybe not even usually, be more attractive to women than the bastard combination of strength-empathy, at least using empathy to mean actually caring about other people rather than just having the ability to manipulate them.

      I feel like we’re missing the point when we talk about whether women find empathy attractive or not. Lacking empathy means being a narcissist, a selfish human being who doesn’t relate emotionally to others. It seems to me that regardless of how one chooses to express empathy (or not), we should not be wishing for men without it. Nor would I want to see any man deliberately shut off that part of his humanity to be the jerk that some women want.
      .
      It is simply not true that all women desire the same type of men. Certainly, the prototype of the bad boy has some appeal for most, if not all, women. However, there’s a spectrum of badness, and women cluster along that spectrum according to their own personality traits. I think the spectrum looks something like this:
      .
      Boy From the Wrong Side of the Tracks ==> Boy in a Band ==> Boy Who is Oppositional with Authority Figures ==> Boy with a Drug or Alcohol Problem ==> Man Who Has Sex With Many, Commits to None ==> Man Who is Damaged But Tries to Relate ==> Man Who is Inconsiderate of Others (including servers, family, friends, girlfriends) ==> Man Who is a Sadistic Sociopath (see Roosh, Roissy) ==> Sex Offender ==> Serial Killer
      .
      All of these men will have female admirers, but they won’t be the same female admirers. Women who masochistically seek validation from a man who despises them are not the same women who like a little bit of rebel in a guy. Men should be careful in the way they use Game – lest they work up to a level of douchebaggery that attracts the most unstable, narcissistic women. Damaged goods seek damaged goods, and that works both ways.

  • J

    Jeff,

    I agree that many wo0men are attracted to jerks.  They are usually young and inexperienced or very neurotic.  The sort of woman you want to be with feels as I described.

  • J

    @Sox

     It’s also very hard for a guy to go straight from wimpiness —> real man…there usually is the bastard phase in between.

    Oh, that explains it then. 😉

  • NMH

    @filrabat– When a woman used to say to me that she wanted a “strong” man, I wasn’t sure what she meant, because most of the time she was clearly referring to something outside of physical strength, but usually could not articulate it. I suspect the reason why she couldn’t articulate it was because the truth went against the feminist internal programming that all women receive these days.
     
    I think when a woman says she wants a “strong” man it means that overall, she needs to see you as being better than her.  In other words, the summation of your qualities that society and women value is greater than the summation of her qualities that society or men value.
    A Katie Riophe (sp?) said in a classic essay she wrote about 10 yrs ago in Esquire, what woman wants is nothing less that a double standard: To be treated as an equal by someone who is better than her.
    This apparently is the truth.  No wonder when men realize this they often go MGTOW.

    • A Katie Riophe (sp?) said in a classic essay she wrote about 10 yrs ago in Esquire, what woman wants is nothing less that a double standard: To be treated as an equal by someone who is better than her.

      Wow, I missed that essay – great quote. I would amend it to say that a woman wants to be treated as an intellectual equal by someone who is more dominant than she is. Women want to be respected for their talents or skills, by a man who possesses an equal (or greater) measure of talent and skill (though not necessarily, or even preferably, in the same field). Women do not want to be respected for no reason, and will reject a man who respects or admires them when they have not earned it.
      .
      Women want a man who is dominant in a masculine way – this does not mean that a wife should submit to her husband in all things. Most contemporary women want a man who won’t put up with her nonsense, and calls her on her BS. This earns her respect. We can be very manipulative, but we will feel desire for the man who will not tolerate this. Just saying.

  • I thought about this empathy post a little while ago while *driving* and observing, not for the first time, the almost complete absence of turn signals. This seems to go beyond lack of empathy and reach the level of solipsism—indeed, it goes beyond solipsism. Even if one believed that  the apparently-human drivers of other cars were really basically just soul-less robots, wouldn’t it still be a good idea to let those robots know what you’re about to do?
    And these clueless drivers are of all age ranges, so it’s unlikely their behavior was entirely driven either by excessive hooking up or by the self-esteem thing I mentioned. It’s really like an epidemic.

    • @david foster
      Wait, you mean we’re supposed to signal in some way when we turn the car?
      Susan Walsh
      Boston, MA

  • Aldonza

    It almost seems like a no-win.  You lack empathy and you’re a narcissist.  You have empathy and you’re “too sensitive”.  Being empathetic is a lot of work.  It’s like…feeling your feelings *and* those of people around you.  You almost have to work at blocking out some things.  Like, I feel bad for those people in Somalia, but man, there is only so much pain I can feel for them.  It’s like my receptors get burnt out or something.
    .
    I think there is something to technology and the information world we live in.  It never shuts off.  We watch tragedies 24/7 in High-def.  We’re inundated with FB requests to think of “those poor” [insert tragedy of the hour] with meaningless status updates and avatars.
    .
    That said, I don’t think a real relationship can survive without some degree of empathy on both sides, unless one of the partners is a really damaged co-dependent.  Intimacy alsmost requires opening yourself up to the feelings of your partner.

    • @Aldonza

      Being empathetic is a lot of work. It’s like…feeling your feelings *and* those of people around you. You almost have to work at blocking out some things.

      I think it’s impossible, and would probably be debilitating, to feel empathy for every sad person we encountered. We couldn’t walk down a city street observing the homeless without breaking down, or read the morning newspaper and look forward to the day. We’ve only got so much emotional energy to spend, and we need to spend it on those people in our lives. I’m not suggesting we harden ourselves to strangers – many people devote time and other resources to helping out. That’s great – but you can’t get emotionally invested in every sad sack or you won’t be able to function. Empathy is most important in relationships.

  • Well, I *thought* that was you in that car!…

  • Brendan

    <i>I think there is something to technology and the information world we live in.  It never shuts off.  We watch tragedies 24/7 in High-def.  We’re inundated with FB requests to think of “those poor” [insert tragedy of the hour] with meaningless status updates and avatars.</i>
     
    This I think is very true.  I doubt that college students are the only ones who have become less empathetic.  I do think that our constant informational barrage that we live in today — not just cable news, but internet and all kinds of junk being streamed to our phones constantly and so on — just numbs us to information, and reacting to information, after a time.  Overload of anything leads to a numbing of the receptivity to the stimulus.  And in our era of “always on” information streaming, it’s pretty easy for people to grow numb to it.  I would say that there is probably still an empathy gap between the very young (sub 30) and those who are older, because the younger ones have lived their entire lives in the information overload era, whereas older people had some time outside that era, although I am sure the information overload has also eroded the empathy of older people as well.
     
    Another, related, factor is that the technology we are marinating in tends to divide us into tribes and in-groups in a remarkably efficient way.  This tends to increase our empathy to those who are in our in-group, while decreasing it for everyone else, over time.  I think this has broad social implications, not just involving casual sex, but also for our broader political and economic system.  I do not think that it is at all coincidental, for example, that our technocratic age also happens to be one in which our society is intensely divided politically — the technology we have now facilitates in-group formation and echo chambers, which tends to solidify in-group identity but diminish empathy for those outside the in-group.

    • the technology we have now facilitates in-group formation and echo chambers, which tends to solidify in-group identity but diminish empathy for those outside the in-group.

      Interestingly, most political discussions about increased partisanship fail to mention technology as a factor, but when you think about it, the effects are strong and deep. It probably explains why Congress can’t get anything done (well, it explains it a little). I did see one article that looked at this – it talked about how tea partiers show up at rallies with information released just moments before.

      Brendan, I recall an episode on another blog where a young woman wrote a post entitled “I Don’t Care About Haiti” right after the earthquake. You and I were both part of the comment thread at Obsidian’s. Most of us were horrified, but we were all 35+. I’m afraid that her viewpoint is not unusual for a young 20 something. I do know of many college students who are active in social causes, but they’re definitely swimming against the current.

  • Snowdrop111

    “The most narcissistic females (see Karen Owen) aggressively target the highest status males, taking them off the market for at least the duration of a hookup, and providing strong incentives for men to offer sex without commitment, ”
    I disagree with this somewhat, in that several of the “Subjects” who had booty calls with Karen Owen had committed girlfriends at the time.

    • I disagree with this somewhat, in that several of the “Subjects” who had booty calls with Karen Owen had committed girlfriends at the time.

      That just means the commitment wasn’t real. They said they would be exclusive, then looked for KOs every time they were out with the guys. Those guys were faux boyfriends. There are a lot of those around.

  • Snowdrop111

    Good heavens, I scored 26 on that empathy test.
    I have long thought I’m an Aspy or high-functioning autistic though.
    I’m off to marching-toy-soldier practice for the  Christmas pageant.  I’ll be the one with the mean, “I-hate-all-mankind” look on my face.
     

    • @Snowdrop
      Your lowish score surprises me. I think you demonstrate enormous empathy in your comments here. It must not be a valid metric.

  • Susan, is there a reason why your first 4 examples (in your “badness” scale) used the term “boy” and the rest of them used the term “man”?
    Also, is playing in a band *automatically* bad, or is it merely the association with other behaviors you’ve identifies as bad–drug/alcohol problem, sex with many, etc??

    • @david foster
      I felt that I needed to represent both “boys” (high school) and men (college on up). I tried to make the switch at the most reasonable juncture, but it was somewhat arbitrary. I think the term “bad boy” is a lot more innocuous than “bad man” and has a totally different meaning. College seemed like a reasonable place to draw the line at adulthood.
      .
      Re the boy in a band, it’s not automatically bad, no, but it does tend to be an alternative lifestyle. Guys who are passionate about their music and play in bands are less likely to pursue a college education, and they tend to go to bed just when the rest of us are getting up. As a result, they tend to have a “forbidden fruit” aspect to them. Very few parents hope that their daughters will meet a nice guitarist. Add to that the fact that most of them are emo, and you’ve got the ingredients for passion. And of course, performing/being on stage gives them a great opportunity to display social dominance. Guys in bands do well with women, even if they lack physical prowess or good looks (see MIck Jagger).

  • Lavazza

    Women want a man who is dominant in a masculine way – this does not mean that a wife should submit to her husband in all things. Most contemporary women want a man who won’t put up with her nonsense, and calls her on her BS. This earns her respect. We can be very manipulative, but we will feel desire for the man who will not tolerate this. Just saying.
     
    And who treats her as an equal partner and does not make her feel inadequate but values her qualities.
     
    How hard can it be?
     

  • filrabat

    Aldonza:It almost seems like a no-win.  You lack empathy and you’re a narcissist.  You have empathy and you’re “too sensitive”.
    Filrabat: That tells me more about how trapped in binary thinking mainstream society (or at least the easy-to-express propaganda/catch-phrases are than anything else. Unfortunately, most people put very little effort into thinking – except when defending their own self-interests (sometimes legitimate, other times not).
    .
    Jeff:If compassion is perceived as female, maybe absence of compassion is perceived as masculine.
    Filrabat: Repeat of the above remarks. I’ll also add this is a good opportunity to tell the board about yet another red-flag trait in a person:  Quick to admire people who seem to effortlessly conform to mainstream society’s gender roles (i.e., more “masculine” than the average man, more “feminine” than the average woman).  This tells me the person is more than just superficial; they’re likely prone to stereotypical thinking (and hence lacks capacity for independent thought) and quick to latch onto oversimple answers (and therefore hates complex explanations even when justified).  This kind of mentality isn’t the basis for any kind of trust and communication between partners – and by characteristic not any kind of basis for a sustainable relationship worthy of the name.  Better to just cross off your list anyone who even seems like the type who is trapped in such simple-minded dichotomies.

  • OffTheCuff

    Snowdrop, I wonder if that test is skewed. The test really bummed me out.
    I scored about 27. My wife, was in the mid 30’s. She and I agree that this test is strange – a high score isn’t necessary a positive thing, in fact, it could indicate a disturbing degree of codependency. (I mean, she had some codependency problems in college, a semester of bad grades when her roommate had mental problems and she took them on, and she only scores in the 30s? She is made of empathy! Too much even!)
    Other thoughts on the test…
    It also relies on self-assessment. I think I have poor social skills, but maybe they are not as bad as I think they are. For example, take all the many questions like “I find it easy to tell what people are thinking”. I can do it and do it well, but I don’t find it easy or automatic. So I have to honestly say “Disagree” here. If it said “I often can tell what people are thinking” then it would be Agree.
    I try extremely hard and it is exhausting because I am not a natural at it, but I want to.

    • @OffTheCuff
      I agree with you about that test – not sure how reliable it is. For one thing, I knew instantly which answer would make me seem more empathic. Do I enjoy cutting up worms? Uh, no. Do I hate to see an animal in pain? Yeah. I think it’s very easy for a person with a high EQ to cheat on the test, skewing the distribution of scores.

  • Höllenhund

    Empathy is morally neutral. If I want to please other people and make them happy, I need to have empathy towards them. If I want to exploit and ruin others by manipulating them I also need empathy because I have to understand their POV and identify their thoughts and feelings in order to turn those against them.

    • Empathy is morally neutral. If I want to please other people and make them happy, I need to have empathy towards them. If I want to exploit and ruin others by manipulating them I also need empathy because I have to understand their POV and identify their thoughts and feelings in order to turn those against them.

      This is a definition of cognitive empathy, the ability to think about how someone else might feel. Researchers distinguish it from empathic concern, the ability to respond emotionally to another person’s experience. It’s the latter kind that is declining. Since those who have high levels of empathic concern are more likely to help others, and less likely to exhibit aggression, it’s a moral good. As Mark Davis, an empathy researcher said, without high levels of empathic concern, the world becomes a meaner place.

  • Hope

    I got a 72 on the empathy test people are talking about. Having high empathy is both a blessing and a curse. Social situations can be awkward for me, because instead of not being aware, I am “too” aware. If someone else is uncomfortable, I am automatically uncomfortable as well.

    I have very strong emotions that almost threaten to overtake me if I’m not careful. I don’t watch TV, and I almost always tear up or start crying during emotional scenes. It’s really bad form for an adult woman. It happens when I read or listen to music or in a number of ordinary situations.

    I went to parenting classes with my husband, and when they showed videos of happy families with their newborns, I started crying. I’ve mastered the art of crying silently in public, so nobody noticed. I blow my nose a lot normally, so my husband didn’t know either.

    Emotional crossing happens for me a lot, too. Often when my husband is stressed or anxious about grad school, I can feel it keenly in the pit of my stomach. I can’t be around angry people or I start feeling that same thing. This is probably why I am extremely introverted. I was “100%” on the introversion scale on the MBTI.

    • @Hope

      Emotional crossing happens for me a lot, too. Often when my husband is stressed or anxious about grad school, I can feel it keenly in the pit of my stomach. I can’t be around angry people or I start feeling that same thing.

      That must be such a burden! Obviously, it’s important to select your companions carefully. I’m guessing your husband is not an especially anxious or pessimistic guy.

  • I can identify with you, Hope. Especially th epart about picking up other people’s emotions.

    One thing worth mentioning is that empathy isn’t just for other people.  A lot of people I know (including myself sometimes) suffer from a lack of self-empathy. Sometimes its a lack of cognitive self-empathy (where they are disconnected to what they are feeling) or lack of self-empathetic concern (where we dismiss our own feelings as being unimportant or constantly beat up on ourselves for making mistakes)

    I believe a lot of the self-destructive elements in hook-up culture come from a lack of self-empathy. When people don’t know how to make themselves happy, they look for it outside themselves (substance abuse, sex, etc.) .

    It’s one of the reasons I’m really opposed to shaming women (or men, for that matter) who make bad choices. When somebody already secretly believes they’re a bad person, the last thing that’s going to help them is other people piling on to them.

    • I believe a lot of the self-destructive elements in hook-up culture come from a lack of self-empathy. When people don’t know how to make themselves happy, they look for it outside themselves (substance abuse, sex, etc.) .

      I agree with you, Dan. That’s why I often describe people as seeking validation through hookups. And it’s also why I think we tend to talk about extremely promiscuous women as having low self-esteem. Because of the sexual double standard, I’m not sure how this works for guys, but I think all of us make ourselves worse off when we have too little self-empathy.

  • Aldonza

    I got a 55 on the test.

  • Aldonza

    And is it really wrong that I cut worms to see what happened?  If you cut them in half they grow into two worms you know.

  • Hope

    dan_brodribb: Agreed. I do feel for people who are doing or allowing damage to themselves. I was there myself; lots of self-loathing and very low self-esteem. My method of coping was trying to make others feel good. So I neglected my own needs and allowed myself to be used by someone else (prodded also by guilt).

    It wasn’t as bad as casual sex or drug abuse, as far as damaging things go, but for years I was miserable. I think my saving grace was my analytical ability and somewhat “masculine” brain (which I use in coding). I can turn on the logical side and start breaking things down into causes and effects. I quickly gathered that other people often don’t have the same regard for me that I do for them.

    When people realize that you have a nice, squishy core, they often try to take advantage of you, or flat out insult you. I found myself the target of bullies both online and offline. Excessive empathy IS seen as weakness, in women as well as men. My husband is a very empathic person, but he had to harden himself, or else he was going to keep getting screwed over by other people.

    As far as slutty behavior is concerned, I also realized quickly that it was in a woman’s best interest to not engage in that kind of behavior. I think in this case it can be a mix of genuine concern and pointed shaming. As a pregnant woman I am only starting to understand medically how bad a lot of non-life-threatening STDs are for the baby, for example genital herpes. It makes me glad to not have to worry about those complications, but also makes me wish other women would get the message.

  • djb

    Is casual sex destroying empathy?  How?  Apparently casual sex is enjoyable.  Women have been fighting for the right to rut like men since the 60’s.  How, then, could doing something that women think is generally pleasurable and enjoyable to the other party mean you lack empathy.  Oh….its the commitment thing, isn’t it?  You mean, casual is o.k. for as long as the woman decides it is, and then when she wants a LTR, she’s entitled to that as well – you cold-hearted, unempathetic douchebag player.   Now I get it.  If you want to find the root of any supposed lack of real empathy – you know the kind where someone is actually hurt on purpose – look to the absence of fathers.  But, of course, violence, sexual tension, and lack of empathy are endemic to most matriarchies.  You take the bad with the good.

    • @djb

      Is casual sex destroying empathy? How? Apparently casual sex is enjoyable. Women have been fighting for the right to rut like men since the 60′s. How, then, could doing something that women think is generally pleasurable and enjoyable to the other party mean you lack empathy.

      A woman may “love” her vibrator to a point, but she doesn’t feel an emotional connection with it. Same with a guy and his Fleshlight. That’s what casual sex is – mutual masturbation with a second pulse in the room. No empathy sought or required. Do enough of that and pretty soon you start seeing sex as something unrelated to emotion. In my view, it’s a bad thing when empathy disappears from sex.
      .
      I don’t think women or men are entitled to either casual sex or relationships. Both are agreements entered into according to perceived costs and benefits, and that’s true for both sexes.
      .
      I did mention in the post that researchers cite the divorce rate (and subsequent loss of time with fathers) as a factor in declining empathy. I agree with you that it’s significant. Not only that, it’s been shown to be a factor in casual sex – young people from divorced parents are much more likely to prefer casual sex and avoid relationships. It’s hardly surprising.

  • J

    @Aldonza

    And is it really wrong that I cut worms to see what happened? 

    It depends.  Were you three or twenty-three?  At three, no problem.  At twenty-three, you’re the female Jeff Dahmer.

    At thirty-three, you’re probably a Phd. medical researcher.

  • J

    @SW

    Empathy is most definitely taught by parents. Of course, when parents themselves are narcissistic, that doesn’t happen.

    My mother is a diagnosed narcissist.  She suffers (or those around her suffer) from her complete lack of empathy, except as Hollenhund points out, as a tool for manipulating others. 

    I can be so empathetic that I used to find it hard to establish effective boundaries bet6ween myself and those I love.  Sometimes it took the from of letting people I love take advantage of me (and then my being angry that they did.)   Other times, it was trying  desperately to meld with love ones and not understanding their need for boundaries.   
     
    Because they thrive off the empathy of others, narcissists usually don’t create kids who lack empathy.  They create kids who have difficulty around empathy. 

    • @J
      Interesting – both you and Puffs Plus have said the same thing about your mothers. My mother was just chronically depressed – which meant she had no interest in any of us most of the time. Different disorder, same result. I wonder if daughters of difficult women are more likely to be online, sharing ideas, etc. I think I distanced myself from my mother’s illness by becoming quite analytical about it.

  • Snowdrop111

    I got dinged for thinking about what I’m going to say next while the other person is talking. Of course, I’m doing it on here too the whole time I’m reading all of y’all’s comments!

    • I got dinged for thinking about what I’m going to say next while the other person is talking.

      Haha, I’m guilty of that one too. I think most people are. Good listening is rare, it’s something I’m always trying to get better at.

  • @ Susan & J – I was very fortunate, so I never had to deal with mental illness in a family member growing up. I can’t imagine what that was like.

    @ Aldonza – Worms are where cutting starts. Next thing you know you’re moving on to carrots…paper dolls…a rug…

    Get help. Get help before it’s too late 🙂

  • PuffsPlus

    J, I have a narcissistic mother too. We have been estranged for a couple of years now. Occasionally I feel guilt, regret, and sadness about that. But mostly I feel relief from not having to deal with her drama in my life. Dealing with my mother always made me terribly anxious. Even just talking to her on the phone or reading an e-mail from her would make my heart rate shoot up and my hands start shaking.

  • J

    @Puffs Plus

    Yeah, I hear that. It’s hard to not be sad. There a lot to mourn in that the two of you could have had a much better relationship had she not been nuts, but ignore the guilt.

    Stay away if you can. They love to pull you back into the drama. My dad is dead and I’m an only child, so I am my mom’s only caregiver. She is in a nursing home, and I do all I can to help her and advocate for her. It’s quite a balancing act between her needs and my sanity.

    I have kids to raise so my sanity comes first.

  • J

    @dan

    I was very fortunate, so I never had to deal with mental illness in a family member growing up. I can’t imagine what that was like.

    Oddly enough, when I was growing up, it didn’t bother me so much. I thought it was normal. I thought it was my fault too. When I got older and tried unsuccessfully (for a while) to make my way in the world, I began to realize that I had never been taught to function among functional people. Re-educating myself was hard. However, it was once I had to learn to how to mother my own kids that I realized just how screwed over I’d been.

    OTOH, IRL I’m a famously good mother. I have one simple strategy. I ask myself, “What would mom do?” Then I do the opposite.

    Worms are where cutting starts. Next thing you know you’re moving on to carrots…paper dolls…a rugGet help. Get help before it’s too

    LMAO

    • OTOH, IRL I’m a famously good mother. I have one simple strategy. I ask myself, “What would mom do?” Then I do the opposite.

      Ditto. I actively strive to be the opposite. One thing I catch grief for is having a very full fridge (watch out, something might fall out on you) and for cooking more than we need, creating leftovers. Growing up, there were no leftovers, and my mother shopped every day for whatever food she needed. There were no snacks. When my brothers were teenagers, they would want a second chicken breast, but no luck. Five people, five pieces of chicken. The refrigerator usually only had milk and some condiments in it. I recall once as a child (aged 4 or so) serving myself and my brothers a package of Philadelphia cream cheese for lunch, with three spoons.
      .
      Once I baked a cake for a friend’s birthday – it was not just an ordinary cake, it was a special Italian cream cake – but when I got home I learned that my parents had served it to neighbors. Now I just cook up a storm and make too much of everything. I’m a Jewish mother in that way. Opposite.

  • J

    @SW

    Different disorder, same result. My mother was just chronically depressed – which meant she had no interest in any of us most of the time.

    Not really. My mother was vitally interested in me. Who else was she going to live vicariously through? I was her narcissistic supply. Google “narcissistic supply” to why I’d have been happy to be ignored.

    I wonder if daughters of difficult women are more likely to be online, sharing ideas, etc. I think I distanced myself from my mother’s illness by becoming quite analytical about it.

    I’d bet you’re right.

  • Hope

    I have a crazy Asian mother, and she was both depressed and had mental issues. She was diagnosed with paranoia a few years ago. And she was one of the reasons I had such a difficult time in early adulthood and stayed with the ex for over 8 years despite drug problems and other issues.

    Recently my husband met her in person, and at first he said she wasn’t that bad. Then as more revelations came out about what she said behind his back, and how she threatened to take our baby from us (WTF moment!), he said, “She is never allowed to see our son, at least not be alone with him.”

    I’m just grateful to have a wonderful mother-in-law. We get along fantastically.

  • J

    OMG, I overstuff my fridge too.

    it was a special Italian cream cake

    with ricotta??

    but when I got home I learned that my parents had served it to neighbors

    That was a genuinely shitty thing to do.

  • J

    Hope,

    I’m sorry you had to go throught all that. A good relationship with the in-laws can really help heal some of that. My husband also had horrible parents, but I’ve also envied people who get a second chance at having sane parents.

  • @J, @Hope, @Puffs Plus
    We’ve got a nice little group therapy session going here. I wish Snowdrop would chime in -she grew up in a strict religious sect, and probably has some real whoppers to tell.
    .
    Re the cake, I don’t recall – I was only about 16 at the time. My mother didn’t cook, so I taught myself – like you said, if you can read, you can cook.
    .
    Have you ever heard about Jewish shtetl logic? The thinking goes that if everyone could gather and dump their problems in the middle of the room, and then choose a set of problems to go home with, most people who choose their own. That’s how I feel about my in-laws. The Walshes always had drama and conflict. If someone was ticked off (or crazy) you knew it. My in-laws, on the other hand, are stiff WASPs who never express disagreement and smile stiffly rather than laugh heartily. I don’t know how to do that – I’m more comfortable with the Irish craziness.

  • Aldonza

    I’m firmly convinced that there is no such thing as an ‘undamaged’ person. We all have our little issues. Some of us seek out understand (here and other places), others live happily in denial. But we’re *all* working on something. Even the Beaver needed therapy at some point…if only because they’re parents named him ‘The Beaver’.

  • I got a 56 on the quiz. Sometimes I find it a chore to be empathetic because I can actually see other people’s points of view and see what a conflict my disagreement creates and I’d rather avoid conflict but not toss out my beliefs – which is impossible most of the time.

    I have a full fridge most of the time too. I *try* to clear it out, but I cook frequently and make lots and the leftovers pile up even when we eat them for lunches. I have a TON of fall veggies in there right now from my CSA share and am frantically trying to use them up before they go bad or lose nutrients. Tonight’s dinner: cream of potato and leek soup, fall vegetables roasted in butter, and hummus with lots of garlic. I also have the remains of the summer tomatoes ripening on the countertop, so tomorrow will be a soup and salad day. But I’ll still have more than enough veggies crowded in there.

    • @grerp
      I’m just finishing my second CSA summer, and I’m so stressed out! I actually had a nightmare about not being able to use all the produce, it was terrible. I’m not sure I’m going to sign up again – I loved trying new veg’s and I loved supporting a local organic farm, but it’s an awful lot of food for two people. Actually, have you seen Amanda Marcotte’s CSA posts? Like we care about her vegetable recipes.

  • Susan – my husband’s mother’s family is Irish crazy, and my family is repressed, stoic, thrifty English/Dutch. It’s been an interesting combo. I love my parents, though. They were really religious – still are – but they are wonderfully fine people and I never doubted they loved me or were in my corner. One thing that is interesting – my husband always asks what my parents said about him because his family always discusses everyone’s stuff and gossips like crazy. It actually irritates him that my parents never talk about him except to ask politely how he is doing.

    • @grerp

      my family is repressed, stoic, thrifty English/Dutch.

      Ha, so are my in-laws! Dutch Reformed, actually. Those Calvinists are rather spare in their entertainments…They are very good and admirable people though. My father-in-law’s thriftiness is a model of providing for one’s family. And they’re very loving and gracious. It’s just that emotions are not really shared – it’s considered rather vulgar. I find that difficult, but they accept me for the most part, even though they think I’m “awfully feisty and independent.” They also like me “even though I’m a Catholic.”

  • J

    @SW

    Have you ever heard about Jewish shtetl logic? The thinking goes that if everyone could gather and dump their problems in the middle of the room, and then choose a set of problems to go home with, most people who choose their own.

    Yeah, after all of it, I’d choose my own too. I’ve learned valuable lessons from it all. I’d be a different person without it.

    @Aldonza

    I’m firmly convinced that there is no such thing as an ‘undamaged’ person.

    For sure.

  • PuffsPlus

    @SW: ha ha on the therapy group.
    .
    Wow, J, we come from similar circumstances. I’m my mom’s only child and my father has died also. She’s not requiring full-time care yet, but I do shudder when I think that I might have to become her caregiver. Not sure how I will handle that. With a lot of Ativan and Valium, perhaps.
    .
    But I too am blessed with great in-laws. It’s sad to say, but I love my husband’s family more than my own biological relatives. I certainly enjoy spending time with them more.

  • Susan, this is my second CSA year too, and it does really get overwhelming toward the end. Last year I had a whole share, and I had to give a lot of it away to neighbors or family. This year I split a share with my neighbor, and it’s still a lot of veggies. My problem is that I’m not that excited about some of the vegetables like kale, celeriac, or kohlrabi. Or fennel which has a distinct anise taste to it I really dislike. On the other hand, having a share has absolutely forced me out of the cooking rut I’d have gotten into by making me search for recipes that use this stuff, and I do like supporting organic agriculture and making more farming choices available. I know that there are local people paid a living wage doing good work because of the CSA. So I think I will do a third year even if I am sick of all the kale and chard.

    And I do agree about all of Marcotte’s CSA posts. Zzzzz. She’s the last person I’d go to for domestic hints and tips.

  • @ Grerp

    I am not eating fennel.

    I don’t even know what chard is, but I’m not eating that either.

  • @grerp @athol

    Re: Objectionable Vegetables
    My CSA keeps giving me Harukei Turnips. Honestly, they’re just the worst! I found a good Pasta with Kale and Chicken Sausage recipe, so that’s not too bad. I’m not a fennel fan either. What I’m hoping to do in future is make an effort to buy local at Whole Foods. I do like the whole idea of the CSA, but when something starts giving me nightmares, I figure it’s time to make a change if I can.

  • J

    @Puffs

    I do shudder when I think that I might have to become her caregiver. Not sure how I will handle that. With a lot of Ativan and Valium, perhaps.

    Nah, you just need to make some rational decisions about what your moral obligations are and then follow through. Nothing more, nothing less. If you make rational, moral decisions, you won’t feel guilt because you’ll know you are doing what you can. But you need to establish firm boundaries and not let our mom cross them.

    In some ways, it’s easier for an only child. My MIL and FIL were freakin’ nuts. My SIL, who lived out of town, had loads of reactions to how we (DH and I) dealt with them but she could go home when the going got tough.
    .

  • J

    Fennel haters, are you crazy???

    I love fennel. Try this: Slice up some fennel, bok choy (optional) and red onions. Add in mandarin orange slices and craisins. Toss with one part lemon juice, one part orange juice and two parts olive oil. Amazing….

    • @J
      Wow, that fennel recipe does actually sound really good. I actually do like anise in small doses, and it should marry very well with fruit. Will definitely try that! I did have one amazing fennel dish, and I couldn’t stop eating it. My father made a fennel gratin, but I didn’t have the nerve to ask how much heavy cream went into that. Your approach sounds much saner.
      .
      CSA update: Sorry if I sound like Amanda Marcotte
      3 lbs. small potatoes – excellent
      3 lbs. Harukei turnips – didn’t even take them
      1 sugar pumpkin – Yay! Thanks to an awesome recipe for Pumpkin Fondue from Gourmet before it folded. Can’t wait to make it! You bake the whole pumpkin with cream, bread and cheese inside. A real showstopper.
      1 bunch Kale 🙁
      1 bunch cilantro – now I have to cook around THAT!
      2 lbs. carrots – my skin is turning orange
      1/3 lb. spring salad mix, very nice
      1/3 lb. spinach – lovely but it will turn into 1/2 cup once cooked
      1 bag Mutry apples – Never heard of this yellow variety. Hope they’re crisp.

      Today was the last day. I wished a fond farewell to my trusty CSA distributor, a lovely woman named Laura who has a lesbian locavore blog.

  • rick

    Susan-

    The answer is yes.

    As a conservative Christian, I do not engage in casual sex, but nonetheless the overabundance of it and the fact that it is ruining the potential wives of many good guys is causing me to begin to lose empathy for lots of women.

    They chose those guys. If they want to keep throwing themselves at alphas (even those not on the carousel), let them stay there and chase those guys. They can do without me. Forever.

    Casual sex can destroy even those who do not participate in it.

    • @rick

      Casual sex can destroy even those who do not participate in it.

      Of course it can – it changes the supply/demand relationship between sex and relationships.

  • J

    Fennel gratin? Tell me more.

    • Fennel gratin? Tell me more.

      Haha, OK, I’ll try to chase that recipe down. It really was decadently yummy.

  • J

    3 lbs. Harukei turnips – didn’t even take them

    I don’t use turnips except in soups, but I’d bet somewhere on the net there’s a recipe for creamed or glazed turnips that tastes more like the rest pon the ingredients than it tastes like turnips.

    1 bunch Kale

    Boil, then toss with fried bacon bits and fried onions. Or boil with tomatoes and add garlic and olive oil.

    1 bunch cilantro – now I have to cook around THAT!

    No good ideas. Cilantro tastes like soap to me.

  • Freedom

    Hi Susan. Love your post.

    Yes, I’ve noticed that as well. I’ve detailed my interactions with a woman I had a brief cruh for, two years ago, on another post, but I’ll expand on the woman’s behavior.

    As this topic points out, most males will never have an active sexual life. With most guys being average, women aren’t sexually attracted to them, what makes women “interested” in being with average guys is his personality and his money/assets/career/job security/education.

    Women will have sex with these guys but their mind won’t be in it. They’ll be thinking of that hot Brad Pitt they slept with when they were 18 years old. Their body functions, fluids do flow, but its a plot by mother nature to make sure our Species survive.

    Lets go back to the woman I’ve mentioned before.

    Lets call her ‘Cleo’.

    Cleo was a woman in her early 20’s. She was very short(4’1’1’0), lacked breasts(really, had none at all) and her behind was as flat and as flabby as my grandfather’s bald head.

    At the time, I was in a massive depression. Girlfriend dumped me yadayada. I looked like a bad boy and acted like one. She was instantly attracted to me, massively, since day one. Yet, she had a boyfriend at the time. Not the average guy. A womanizer. You know, the type of man mother’s warn their teen offspring to stay away from?

    I backed off. But we had class together and we had to spend time together both inside the classroom and outside(group work). I began to know her. Her “weakness”, that capacity to bring a man’s genetically wired tendency to protect a weak woman, came to life in me.

    Fell in love with her, began acting like a white knight. The boyfriend cheated on her(does a fish swim?). It was quite…disturbing to see her emotional outbursts. But I was already hooked, emotionally. I stayed. A couple of months after being “cheated on”, she meets a player. The typical Brad Pitt.

    Heh, they go out a couple of times. I invite her to come with me to her favorite spot. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that when I met her, she broke down in tears. Her mother was having a heart transpant and it was risky due to her other health issues. I took her by the hand and took her to her favorite spot, played the clown’s role to make her laugh, and gave her tons and tons of emotional support.

    I wasn’t expecting anything. I was to her how I am to my friends or to guys I don’t know from Adam’s Apple. I know. I’ve hardened up ever since. I don’t care that much about my fellow man or woman anymore.

    Anyway. She met that Brad Pitt and after going out with him a few times she sleeps with him. From wanting to spend time to me to reject even my presence, it only took a condom. That pretty smile transformed into the reaction a pope would have if he ever finds himself in a porn flick.

    Time passed. The Brad Pitt wouldn’t call her on the phone. I decided I had enough of this. I had class with her and we sat together, but my face was set on stone. I wouldn’t look at her. I wouldn’t talk to her when she talked to me. oh, what a change. She starts to flood my cellphone with text messages writen like, “how do you expect me to open up to you and fall in love with you, when you run away from me?”

    “How am I going to change and be what you want me to be(my girlfriend() when you show how much you don’t care for me, everytime you ignore me?”

    You guys know how women are always competing with other women for the guy with the resources(the average guy) and the guy who makes her body hot(the bad boy/brad Pitt).

    Cleo had this feud with a very tall, very attractive, VERY bodily gifted young woman(21) who went to our college. This woman(lets call her Josephine) saw me for the first time when I was wrestling my 6’2” 190 pounds friend. I won and I was also acting like a bad boy.

    I literally stared at her breasts like a pervert. Odd, as she entered the campus, she wouldn’t take her eyes off me. Turns out, her boyfriend is as skinny and short as I am, but he’s a convict. Was jailed for rape. And she date the guy. Go figure.

    We could say that these females crom from bad homes, but trust me. This is a small town. All of them are very religious, with great upbringings.

    Lets return to Cleo.

    She pursued me after being dumped by the Alpha male. The more I ignored her ,the more she pursued me. She spent a whole month away from our city to take care of her ill sister who lived some 300 miles away, but she’d call me on the phone everyday. I felt bad for her sister which made me talk to her, everyday. Again, she acted like the good girl.

    The month went by. She’s to return home. Its 3 am and I was dragged out by my friends and their girlfriends to go clubbing(hate that). She calls me at that exact moment to tell me that she’s going home, and to keep my phone charged. The girlfriend of my best friend(should I mention that all of my friends are male models and their girlfriends range from average to hot?) takes my phone away from me and tells cleo that we’re going to pick her up and go clubbing.

    We pick her up, go to the club. The guys and the girls start drinking. At 7 am we decided to go to this park where young people meet up to drink, talk funny and spend time. Cleo approaches me, pulls my polo up, sees my body hair, twitches her nose. She then pulls my pants and looks into it to see if I have hair down there. I ain’t a 12 year old boy.

    The most pleasant moment when I backed off and told her that she couldn’t do that, not in front of other people. She became very angry at me, began with the name calling etc. She expected me to have sex with her in a park, surrounded by people, and with no condom. This is how many women are, today. How charming, correct? Makes you want to introduce them to your mother, guys?

    She was so attracted to me because she spent one entire month without sex. Surrounded by goats and her cousins. My friends are infinitely more attractive, taller, and more manly than me, but their girlfriends were with them and they are jealous.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t work like that. I can’t go from being sexually and emotionally rejected to “emotional boyfriend” to Alpha male all in the time span of one month. I’m sorry, but logical, stable males, aren’t wired like that.

    So she got mad at me and rejected any emotional advances I put on her after that day.

    During the next week, the Alpha male she hooked up with was probably without any numbers;he called her on the phone.

    She went from “I’m so tired from working” to “I’ll be ready in 5 seconds”.

    Yap.The guy who used her like a piece of meat. All he had to do was to spend a phone call on her. Me? I met her sisters. I met her parents. I was up to be her boyfriend. What did I get? ahaha, a lifetime of freedom – but I disgress.

    She went out with the Alpha male, again. Had sex with him. The guy dumps her again and she “returns” to me. All nice and romantic and “girlfriend – like”, treating me as if I was her first choice, not the guy who’s there as a backup – until another, better guy comes along.

    Well, she turns to me and tells me that I should be happy .That the Alpha male was hooking up material. Just for fun. That I am for real. That I’m marriage material. I’m the lucky one, she says, because where the other guy had wild, free sex, I’m up for sex once a month.Stiff sex, while focusing my resources on her.

    I mean, I’ve seen women putting out like crazy for the Alpha males/Bad boys and saving their new found virginity to the “good guy”, the “guy who’s worthy of her”.

    Heh, my cousin hooked up with 10 guys in 10 days. All Alpha males, obviously. She met a guy I used to work with, a pilot(earns about 20 thousand dollars. Per month.)

    How cute. From thongs hanging out, to casual sex and bing drinking. She’s now a religious woman. Doesn’t show an inch of skin. And she claims to be a virgin. He’s going to marry her, next year.

    Should I tell this guy what my cousin is all about? Nah. Don’t see the point. If he’s not destroyed by this woman, he’ll be destroyed by some other woman. At least I’ll have a guy I can talk to during those boring family get togethers.

    So, Cleo was trying to warm me up to the idea of marrying up her loose and probably std infected vagina. I play along. I thank her for the death of my emotions. My ex girlfriend got the first swing in, this one one broke away what remained of my heart. And for that I am forever thankful.

    I introduced her to my parents as my girlfriend. She saw what she could get(both my parent’s house, one day, and my own house). She realized that I come from a well, blue blood family. Woah! was she excited about marrying me!

    (by the way, my first girlfriend, complained of my lack of interest in making a lot of money – they call it ‘ ambition’, it’s sexy! – little did she know of my family’s history. Her loss).

    Now, women do seem to think that by keeping a man from accessing her vagina, he’s going to fall madly in love with her. Especially when the guy knows that she went to bed with 30 guys and had oral sex and making out sessions with countless more(but that’s not sex, it doesn’t count. So says female logic).

    I wasn’t into having sex with her anymore, not when I know that I’ll sleep with what, 4 football teams by sleeping with her?

    I played her. “Yes baby, I’m getting things ready for us to get married.” I also made sure to have my friends(the models) introduce me to their fellow female workers, to spike her jealously. Worked. Then – women gotta have sex! – she had sex with the same Alpha male, again, thinking I would never find out.

    Of course not. The fact that the guy works for my father means nothing at all. Ahaha, how I laughed when this guy told me of how she is in bed, that she wasn’t pleasant to look at, naked, and how lowly her sexual skills are. This guy was making fun of her – and did so in front of her – but to her, he was a greek god(because he looked like one).

    I didn’t “break up” with her because I wanted to see her fall. A week goes by .Not one phone call, text message from her. My state is having some historical festivities soon. My best friend(extremely tall and extremely good looking guy, the same guy cleo later told me that if he wasn’t my friend, she would have slept with him) invites me to come along and invites cleo to keep me company.

    I’ve noticed that friends – great friends – will want you to be happy, even if dying is what makes you happy. He knew what Cleo had been doing, but he didn’t want to hurt me. He kept quiet.

    We arrive at the place. There was a concert going on. Cleo is looking at me angry, demanding to get married. Nothing makes a man want to marry than a woman, red in the face, with a Napoleon Complex(shouldn’t I have one too?!) expecting me to pay full price for a used up, std infected, vagina. Have I mentioned the abortions she had done at age 16? But she LOVES children. The act of killing equals love. Gotcha!

    I smiled at her. She got even more mad. “If you don’t work up the courage to be a man, I will move on!”

    I smiled again. My friend’s girlfriend was trying to make peace between the two of us, cleo and I. She pushed her aside and told Cleo to be more pleasant to me, that I’m worth it.

    Then she picked up her phone camera, told us how cute we are together and asked us to stay still. Celo turned her back to the camera and said she didn’t want any pictures taken with me because I don’t deserve it.

    Heh. Meaning, she doesn’t want me to put the pictures on facebook, so guys won’t think that she’s in a relationship.A single woman? how rare! let me spend my money and my male attention and my time on her! That’s how most males think.

    I laughed it off. I should mention that when we decided to become a “couple”, she told me that the Alpha male was no longer in her life. She didn’t want anything to do with him ;).

    After the photoshooting session to be, I laughed. She turns to me and tells me “I want a real man. I don’t want a man just for sex. I want a man willing to show me that he isn’t afraid to commit. I want a man capable of love and dedication.”

    Ahaha, I laugh ever harder. Instantly, she was transported to some weird dimension where males are eager to listen to how some other guy had tons of sex with his “girlfriend” but now he has to pay for it; she told me that he(the Alpha male) only calls her for sex!

    The scandal! I should feel bad for the poor girl! This guy shows her that he was only interested in sex – and told her in words too – but he must have a relationship with her!

    As I must have a relationship with!

    One guy to satisfy her biological urges! And me! To support her! Just like my father did with my mother!

    I’m sure Cleo noticed that about my father. Yes, but you forget one thing. I’ve inherited many things from my father, but honey. I ain’t no sucker. I have King’s blood in me, whereas my father was raised mostly by his mother thus his feminine personality, I was enraged by seeing how my father was nothing more than a work mule. That and more, made me weary of ever becoming a sucker.

    Only when my emotions were pure could I become a sucker. And that. That was taken away by my first girlfriend.

    Cleo blurted out that she was still seeing the Alpha male. Heck, she even took a phone call from him and chastised him for coming to our city but “forgetting” to visit her.

    That was when I couldn’t take it anymore, too much laugther inside of me. I asked her to end that call, knowing that the guy she was talking to was the Alpha male – she pretended it was a brother -because I wante to show her this new cool ringtone. I bluetoothed it to her phone.

    But instead, I called the Alpha male. I told him to come and that I wanted to have some fun with him(he probably understood my undertone). I made my friend, his girlfriend and cleo hang around, waiting for a surprise I had for cleo, a huge Hello Kitty! How excited she was! The sucker was spending money on her! She never had that happen to her, I bet.

    I hear a deep, dark voice. I look up to see the greek god that the Alpha male is. Oops. Cleo got even smaller. She was white, white all over.

    “Huh.. what is this?”

    “Something wrong with you, baby? Can I get you some water? Do you want me to go to the nearest pharmacy?”

    “No.. it’s… what is this?”

    “what? Oh, this guy? A guy that works for my father. He was about to tell me about this girl he’s been seeing, how he got herpes(that was made up) after sleeping with this 4’11”… blonde, blue eyed girl with a birth sign on her shoulder….. wait….. ”

    “Oh no, I don’t know what he’s talking about! I’ve never seen him before! He’s lying!”

    My father’s employee pulls out a camera. He films the sex he has with women to prevent them from claiming date rape or somehing. Oh! What joy! my little cleo, the woman who slept with 30 guys and had sexual intimacy with god only knows how many more, the woman who wanted to have my children(that’s why she begged the Alpha male to not wear a condom, “I’m on the pill! I want to feel you!”) was a movie star!

    35 years old, no children, no husband, no guy interested in sex with her anymore, std – infected, a whole bunch of cats, and bills to pay – here Cleo goes!

    Go get that Prize ,girl!

    Ahaha, I broke laughing, so did the Alpha male. Cleo threatned to call her brothers, called me gay, told me this and that, tried to get me to be with her etc.

    Haven’t seen her in two years. Last I heard she as playing a 20 year old male virgin.

    This is unspoken. Most males in their 20’s are virgins. Most females in their teens aren’t. Its quite simple, actually. Studies have been made and it seems that, every time a female mouse mates with an Alpha male, she can no longer feel attracted to the average rat.

    Same goes for women. Girls lose their virginity to the Quarterback star, the Tall guy, the Bad boy – Alphas.

    She can no longer feel attracted to the average male. She’s repulsed by average males. She will go on, spending her youth, fertility, and beauty, on guys who have nothing going for them other than looks/body/bad boy status.

    Only in their late 20’s, do women care about the average male. I mean, you gotta cash in while you can, right? What better way to get easy money, financial stability and lifetime alimony(and child support counts as alimony)? But of course!

    To marry the average male! My experiences created two personalities. There’s the indiferent me – most of the time – but ever since that girl I lost all patience. The Bad boy will come to the surface every now and then. That’s when women get all hot and bothered. Attractive to average to very good looking women, imagine that. Women from bad homes and good homes.

    I’m sure this world still has a few good women. But I’m just one guy. The women I come across, the vast majority, is rotten. I’m a bit of a “selfish” brat in that, I’ve always been my mother’s emotional helper and I’m quite tired of having my life sucked out of me. Women will eventually have health issues(I will too, I know) and I don’t want to deal with that.

    My teacher, a Christian woman, she met her future husband when she was 15 and the guy was 23. He wasn’t much of a student, but he was already working and had his own house. She terminated the relationship with her very attractive/very tall boyfriend and began to date her future husband.

    They married as soon as she turned 18. Got pregnant one year after. She has far more education than him, but he’s a great father and provider. She’s now in her 40’s and riddled with health problems.

    But that’s the thing. He met a beautiful, young woman. Married her. Was her first and last. She gave him her best years ,all of her youth, and in exchange he was the type of husband women claim to want.

    My father is a perfect father and husband, and all he got was an aging party girl.

    And me? What am I going to get? When even the religious girls are hooking up behind the church with the bad boys?

    What do I have to offer? I’m college educated. I’m always going back to college to get degrees. I save up to 90% of my monthly checks. I’m of noble birth. I’m going to inherit farms and houses and a couple of castles. I have a collection car. I have no stds. I have no emotional baggage. I have no debt; no college debt. I’m a poet and a novelist. And a painter, a sculpter. I already own my house, paid in full, a 4bedroom house. I’m only 26 year old.

    But then again, I’m short and skinny. I’m not that tall basketball guy, or that Brad Pitt, or the Bad boy, though I could be, but I’d rather not be something I disdain.

    What’s in it for me? A woman receives all of this, and I? what do I get in return?A party girl? a std infected woman? Its become very rare to find a woman who hasn’t murdered her unborn son. I don’t want anything to do with that.

    Religious women aren’t an option. I’ve seen these girls acting like party girls when their mothers aren’t looking. I know of a girl who went away for college(bad mistake) and now hooks up every day of the week with a different(Alpha male).

    Still, one day she’s going to marry a sucker, a provider, and he’ll be dealing with all the dramas, health issues, stds, and nagging that no other guy(Alpha) had to deal with.

    I’ve resigned myelf to a life of celibacy. I’m not even interested in porn. I’m too much of a “19th century guy” to survive emotionally, under this regime, feminism.

    Those females in porn – its a profession I know – disgust me. I’m disgusted with the fact that thousands of the young women I’ve gone to college with, work as prostitutes during their spare time to finance their lifestyle and have free sex with the studs, then they find a good guy to “settle down” with.

    I’ll probably die a virgin. I’m just a little bit annoyed because I was told – by society – that if I worked hard and was a good little soldier, I would one day have a good wife and children.

    Right.

    I don’t care that much about women anymore. I’m not even sexually attracted to women(no, I’m not gay).

    I am, to my embarrasement, developing a crush on a beautiful(to me) 16 year old girl who lives near me. Her family is deeply religious. She’s the down to earth type. She doesn’t wear make up, doesn’t go around skimpy clothes, and works the land her parents own back in the village.

    When she sees me she becomes shy.She will look at me when I’m not looking. Thing is, I know she has boyfriend. began dating him when she was 5 years old. She seems simple enough. Stable and with brains. It could all be a ruse, though. She ‘s always with her other brother. Her parents are always watching her.

    But. There’s something that just doesn’t seem right about her. I used to see this girl around, but I looked harder when I heard her recite Elisabeth’s Browning poetry to her mother.

    She’s short, has tiny eyes, her teeth aren’t straight, she has thin hair. Nothing much to look at. Not that I look much better, either. I’m close to her looks wise. Probably higher because I’m taller, older, more educated, with(obviously) a lot more money and financial security than any guy her age(and most people, really).

    But, to have her feel shy around me, look at me etc, all I had to do was to follow around with my eyes. Ok, I admit that when I look at her I blush like a teenager. I have very white skin.. everyone has noticed what this girl can do to me. It is a bit cute to feel all these warm feelings and the silly shyness once again, but I’m just too realistic to think “what if?”

    Heh. When I look at her, I instantly stare at the ground. When I look at her again, she’s looking at the ground. I do remember one time I was playing soccer with my friends and the girl got away from her friends – all girls – and came to watch me play. I play horrible and with her staring at me… I kinda hit a friend’s leg instead of the ball. Heh, Also cute was when the game ended, she walked by me, looked at me and then stared at the ground all of the time while going away.

    You know ladies, if the bast majority of women weren’t bad apples, I might have decided this girl was worthy of marriage. But by looking at how religious women are, how even from 50 years ago cheated on their husbands; I don’t think I’ll be up to it.

    I guess I’ll keep on making money, buying land and houses and getting more degrees. My cousins will inherit my things so nothing is lost.

  • Freedom

    Susan, what double standard?

    Women who have lots of sex with dif. guys are thought of as sluts because its very easy for a woman to get sex from men. Most males have a hard time, a very hard time getting sex from women. Most males have to go out with women, pay for dates, deal with the woman’s problems etc etc to have a shot at sex.

    My friends don’t have to deal with all of that. Because they are male models. They can get sex pretty much whenever they want, from whoever they want. There’s no double standard.

  • Nice article. I wonder if this lack of empathy is partly the result of at least one generation of kids now having been raised in day care centers. I cannot see how day care centers can in any way be good for human development. I also wonder if this lack of empathy was also what was in part driving the financial collapse of the last few years, where many people in giant firms were making the most insane financial decisions without considering the costs, “Let me make as much money as I can right now through lies and manipulation and fuck (metaphorically) everyone else.”

    • @Racer X
      That’s an interesting thought about day care centers. I don’t have much experience with them – my son was in one for about a year and it was a disaster. I wound up quitting my job and staying home as a result. However, the Israeli kibbutz system seems to work very well – and that separates parents from children during the day.
      .
      I think you also make an interesting point – lack of empathy is related to greed. An “every man for himself” mentality can only come about once we’ve become hardened to the needs of our fellow man. This is something one expects to see in war zones, where people are starving. Not on Wall St. There is something very wrong with our financial system, and I am not optimistic about any kind of meaningful reform.

  • This is a really interesting topic, and one I had never really thought about before. It’s truly scary to think that people, and society as a whole, might be getting less empathetic. It really makes sense in light of all the cyber-bullying and related suicides of recent years. How do we make it better? Can you teach empathy or is it something you either have or you don’t? So many questions. I’ll be thinking about this for a while.

    • Diary of Why, thanks for your comment. It is scary to think about empathy declining – I agree that it makes the world a meaner place. My own sense of the problem is that we’ll basically need to grow into the solution. The pendulum always swings back eventually. Perhaps the next generation of parents will refuse to hand out “participant” trophies or raise their children to believe they are all the best and the brightest. Perhaps some personal sense of modesty will take hold. I can see numerous ways it could come about – education reform, for example. College kids today realizing that their parents meant well but screwed it up in some ways – perhaps they’ll do things differently.
      In the meantime, I think all we can do is try to heighten awareness in individuals so that they can work to be more empathic. It’s worthwhile, because it does provide a personal benefit. Dan said in a comment above that showing empathy to others produces empathy in return, and I agree with that. One really can’t have a good relationship without it.

  • Gunslingergregi

    ”””””(The alpha males have no complaints.)”””””””

    Where is your empathy for those alphas who had a million dollar business or more and now have nothing because of a divorce with a woman.

    Alphas betas omegas sigmas.

    All men.

    All falling under the western divorce laws. All able to have their children taken away from them.

    So there is no way to really hook up smart unless you are talking about no marriage no kids.

  • Gunslingergregi

    How do you empathise with what happens to men in divorce and not go on a killing spree?

    The alimony and divorce inequity has been going on in the us for over 200 years.

    That means you can’t do much about it.

    Maybe empathy needs to go away because it would make it easier to live day to day.

  • arson

    It really goes further than there being no ability to “hook up smart”: the concept is ludicrous on the face of it. Women’s meter for attractiveness is not evenly distributed; that is to say, not every man is attractive to at least one girl (within normal social circles). More importantly, not even attractive men are equally attractive to the women who pine for them so, and while female writers often have difficulty conceding the existence of harems, few can in good conscience claim straight-faced that they’ve never known at least one man who wears a new girl like a hat every other week.

    “Hooking up smart” is impossible precisely because a woman’s innate desire for commitment and the availability of the men from whom she wants it are irreconcilable. The mathematics just does not add up; the whole enterprise stumbles at the gate. If you want to prevent women from being hurt in what you constantly call the “sexual market place”, tell them to invest in manual aids. Grown women cannot ‘date down’ of their own volition, and placing the onus upon them to use solely their judgement will lead to the exact same story of alpha love and betrayal repeating itself ad nauseum. It’s just absurd.

  • TeflonExpat

    Casual sex had left an empathy vacuum in its wake and women are now desperate and begging men for “relationship respect” or a BFE (boyfriend experience). Proof is in the following video that is nothing more than groveling disguised as demands.
    .
    http://whereisyourline.org/video2/

  • Octavia

    Susan, I like your blog. I don’t always agree with what you’ve posted but there’s certainly a great deal of food for thought!

    At any rate, for the past month, I’ve read several blogs that cover relationships. There have been some interesting themes; benefits /detriments of casual sex, value of youth (especially a woman’s youth), effects of feminism, etc. I find the discussions to be quite intriguing. So, I’d like to join in and offer my perspective, starting with the issue of casual sex.

    My belief is that regardless of what one is offered, one does not have to accept it. If a person doesn’t admit this, then he/she is being intellectually dishonest. It makes it easier to blame one’s lack of self-control on another person. This is the “if he/she wasn’t offering it, I wouldn’t take it” syndrome. It is related to the argument of “If there weren’t so many options, I wouldn’t be so confused.” Yet, the fundamental point of having choices is also knowing that saying, “No” is an option too.

    It’s ultimately a personal accountability issue and many people lack the mental and physical fortitude to avoid the “easy route.”

    • @Octavia
      Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate your honesty, and I think you’ll find that dissent and debate are quite welcome here.
      You make a really good point about personal accountability. I do hear from and about men who reject offers of casual sex, for example, but it’s unusual. Also, some women are sitting out the whole casual sex scene in the hope that something more substantial will be available after college. It really does take a lot of fortitude however, particularly for those individuals who are blessed enough to have options.

  • filrabat

    About social status.
    I hate to repeat myself but I think this a great opportunity to reference a post made not long ago on the “casual sex/empathy” thread. The focus is on social status, strength (well, actually more swagger than true strength), money, and power in men; plus beauty, perkiness, fashionability, and “personality” in women.
    As much as we like to slam a lot women for going for the alpha asshats (perfectly justifiable), I think a lot of lesser beta men and lower also have their own problems emphasizing strong superficial appeal in women. In this spirit, I repeat a list drawn from the article linked in that post. The original article is “What Darwin Didn’t Mean: How Social Darwinism Fails Us”; which I find a perfect metaphor for so many problems in not just the SMP, but in most aspects of our society in general. First, I’ll use the original idea stated in the article (focuses on how SD ruined our business culture and our economy), then I’ll reinterpret the article in terms of contemporary relationship practices
    http://www.utne.com/Politics/How-Social-Darwinism-Fails-Us.aspx
    POINTS MADE IN THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE
    1. It fosters the wrong incentives (yes, Susan, that’s where I got that phrase from!)
    2. Promotes Short-Term Get-Rich-Quickism.
    In a little more detail..
    1. Rewards Unscrupulous Behavior (without ‘cumbersome rules and regulations’, the strong have less incentive to behave scrupulously)
    2. Too quickly equates profits with wealth, ignoring that businesses can rake in tremendous profits without contributing REAL goods and services
    3. Stifles Constructive Criticism and Creative Thinking – quicker to roll out the money maker even if it has design flaws than to stop the assembly line to correct those flaws (implicity treating customers with contempt).
    4. Makes Human Beings into Commodities, with ruinous effects on morale (again, treats humans with contempt)
    5. DIRECT QUOTE: “And finally, it promotes short-termism, the most pernicious incentive. Social Darwinism compels an obsession with easily quantifiable, immediate metrics of success. Clear-cutting an ancient forest (for
    development) would be rewarded in an “efficient market” for yielding quick profits, while ignoring less-quantifiable damages (to the local ecology) that would far outweigh the initial gains.
    MY REINTERPRETATION OF THOSE POINTS IN AN SMP CONTEXT
    1. Fosters the wrong incentives
    2. Promotes Short-Term Social Success and Short-Term Sexual Gratification.

    In a little more detail

    1. Rewards Douchebaggery among Alphas and Upper Betas and promotes blind approval seeking among ones peers (both genders).
    2. Too Readily Equates “group membership”, Sexual Popularity/Success and Strong Superficial Appeal, Great Sense of Humor, etc. with “Great Catch”.
    3. Stifles Self- Criticism and Independent Thinking — Much easier to keep your social status, your social circle’s and/or the majority’s approval, and let them decide who is and is not “great” catch material than it is to sacrifice your social standing and your short-term social life and sexcapades than it is to take the plunge by going it alone, take time to think for yourself, decide what kind of person you really are, and finding new people and suitors who do appreciate and respect your authentic self.
    4. Encourages people to fall in love with superficially appealing traits instead of the person themselves — In short, it objectifies of others (thereby treating others with at least benign contempt) – not just in the physical appeal or “walking wallet” senses, but also in the senses of objectifying their charisma, sense of humor, strength. In short, you’re not loving the person as much as you’re loving their energy, swagger, physical features, status, etc.
    5. Focuses too much on quick gratification and immediately visible signs of success— Mainly this is gaining short term quantity of sex and approval at the price of long-term quality of mates. Whatever thrills, excitement, emotional intensity and other short-term benefits you get from playing the field is at least fairly likely to damage your ability to maintain long-term relationships After all, your past experiences will influence how and what you seek in future relationships. If you have too much baggage or “mileage”, then that will seriously limit your choices among serious-minded, mature, responsible intelligent people who will make truly loving husbands and wives.

  • filrabat

    Sorry, posted in the wrong thread. Meant for “Duke Frats Are Crude Because Chicks Like It”

  • Louis

    Without saying right away it has a deleterious effect on empathy, it sure doesn’t promote it; in all human societies there is an age for experiment and i believe it’s ok that way..but when, over the years, if it becomes a way of living it seems evident that the factor empathy is missing and the “relation” suffers a great deal and may end up more empty and toxic than otherwise. The attention one brings to the relation needs observation, time and comprehension, something that casual sex lacks by his very meaning.

  • collegeboy

    @Susan

    When women look at me like marriage material (I play by the rules, get to know them, don’t ask for sex early on,etc), they give me hell, when I try to get sex (even after 2 1/2months and even women who admitted that they had already been loose with others).

    When I play games with no expectations of any particular outcome (like most women do), I get more positive responses, because I’m not afraid of breaking off after taking risks, because I couldn’t care less what the outcome will be.

    The women who should be taking me seriously aren’t and the women who shouldn’t be taking me seriously are. Women reward players and not commitment. Telling commitment worthy women to withhold sex for as long as possible(from marriage worthy men), only makes me (as a man) think, “gee this woman must not like sex and probably has a low libido”

    I’m not saying women should ask for sex first. I’m say that if a commitment worthy man wants it, maybe should try a little harder to please him.

    Remember the good girl friend, that I left for the hotter girl friend. I had no expectations of commitment with the hotter girl. Who got hurt? Everyone. The hot girl didn’t find a quality relationship. The good girl lost her boyfriend to the hot girl. And I was left with the impression that good girls don’t like sex (the hot girl really knew her stuff, I know, I’m not stupid), and I did think about actually committing to her, until my father reminded me of to use reason.

    Feminists have convinced most boys/men that good girls don’t like sex. Like I read somewhere the prevalent thought is that “they are just doing men a favor”. Well bad girls really like sex and they are really good at it. I like it when a woman, actually wants to have sex with me, as opposed to just being a chore. If a man wants good sex an attractive promiscuous woman will send you to heaven for a while (they are really that good, but completely ruthless and brutal).

    Good girls boring. Attractive Bad girls blissful heaven and highly addictive.

    Women play head games, to test intelligence in men, and they are getting hurt (even good girls, follow the script). Women reward Machiavellian behavior.

    Women need to be more true to themselves and others (or pay the consequences).

    • @collegeboy

      I’m not saying women should ask for sex first. I’m say that if a commitment worthy man wants it, maybe should try a little harder to please him.

      I’m not against sex in relationships – my standard is “no sex before monogamy.” So I agree with you – if a man is commitment worthy, and he’s willing to be monogamous, sex is a healthy and enjoyable means of expressing affection and desire.

      Good girls need not be boring. If they feel comfortable with the decision to have a sexual relationship, all that’s required is enthusiasm and focus. I’ve always maintained that anyone can become a skilled lover in a long weekend, given the right partner.

  • collegeboy

    @Susan

    I wanted to clarify something.

    Good or bad sex has nothing to do with this, I’ll settle for some form of sex.

    Its that women who I get to know and who see me as marriage worthy, give me hell for far too long (I felt like they are trying to fool me, back then).

    You already know that some degree of Machiavellian behavior is expected, otherwise males come across as submissive.

    Only bad men would play those kind of mind games that women, play on men/boys.

    I disqualify women, who give me bull shit, from serious relationships now. Because I see them as lacking empathy.

  • collegeboy

    @Susan

    @collegeboy: I like it when a woman, actually wants to have sex with me, as opposed to just being a chore.

    This also makes me ponder this question?. Does this girl only want me for my ability to provide protection, money, and security (and nothing else)? Feminists are bashing men with things like women don’t even need men anymore. Men might get turned off from LTR and become players, to fulfill their need for emotional attachment and women’s need for emotional variety (they don’t like men who are not mysterious).

  • collegeboy

    @Susan

    So women are addicted to emotional variety, they will seek men who can get them emotionally attached.

    and

    men will seek visual variety.

    So I guess were both guilty. Except women have a much easier time acting out on their desires and it could be very destructive, as they become emotionally attached the moment they start talking to the cheater.

  • collegeboy

    @Susan

    Your right (on other posts). Sex without emotional attachment, is not the same (for men also). When you have emotional attachment, visual stimulation and sex, then its really good.

    however sometimes men don’t really mind, because its you either get nothing or you get something (there aren’t very many options, unless your a player) and its a blow to one’s ego, (The lesser blow is better)

    Now men like visual variety, for stimulation. But tryout lots of vagina’s to see if one fits better, I think that’s stupid. Its about visual variety primarily (especially if one is emotionally attached his wife).

  • Stephenie Rowling

    Holding for sex is a very tricky thing, specially for a no virgin. A virgin can get away with it longer because most men understand this is a big step.

    But a woman that already had sex can come across, as bitchy, unattractive, manipulative and all that.

    I think the best she can do is be clear. I need monogamy and the proof that you mean it, and then at least suggest a time period, constant dating and the guy showing commitment should be enough. I will also advice do certain sex acts, even if don’t go all the way, slowly making out first, then advancing to fondling under the skirt or inside the pants and so on, give him enough for him to realize that you are indeed very attracted and is all a matter of him showing good traits to finally get it. Talking about sex and sex positions is also a good way to show that you are preparing yourself for it and are looking forward to this. The idea is to wait without disappointing. Sex is a very delicate area for men.
    Margaret Kent in How to marry the man of your choice, advice to find out a sex fantasy he has had and try to enact it as close as possible the first time you do it. I think that is a good idea for the first time, YMMV.

  • Louis

    @college boy
    “women have a much easier time acting out on their desires”

    Where did you get this?

    Need is a biological instinct that is articulated in demand, yet demand has a double function: on the one hand, it articulates need, and on the other, acts as a demand for love. Even after the need articulated in demand is satisfied, the demand for love remains unsatisfied. This remainder is desire. No gender implied.