Since the premise of Hooking Up Smart is that being analytical and strategic will make you more successful in dating and relationships, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that I’m a big fan of resolutions. Not New Year’s Resolutions, necessarily, but in general I think it’s helpful to set objectives and then craft a strategy to achieve them. It’s also important to check in every so often and assess how things are working. The beginning of a new year is as good a time as any to take stock of what you might like to do differently moving forward. Whether it’s stopping some unproductive behavior, or trying something new, change is good. It promotes growth.
During the past year I’ve learned a tremendous amount from you. Today I’d like to highlight some insights into male psychology that many of the guy readers here have thoughtfully shared in the Comments. While I feel like I’ve got a good handle on how women think, much of what I’ve learned here about the male point of view has opened my eyes to the realization that trying to find a fulfilling relationship is doomed to failure without understanding what men want and how they think. As women, we have a way of projecting our hopes and dreams onto the men we’re seeing, often with disastrous results. Understanding the male point of view is crucial to forging a winning strategy.
Here, then, for your information as you formulate your own 2011 resolutions, are the 11 most important lessons I’ve learned from the guys this past year:
1. 20% of the men get 80% of the sex.
There are clear winners in the SMP today. Some guys are naturals at getting with lots of girls. Others get a boost by virtue of their athletic status, frat membership, or high status job. For these males, every success leads to more success, as girls are heavily influenced by who their peers choose. In the end, most sexually active women are competing for a minority of the men. This has clear implications for both sexes:
- The 20% successful men go from confident to cocky to jerky to total douchebag, increasingly rewarded at each stage of behavioral regression.
- The remaining guys have the opposite experience – they may start out perfectly confident, but years of striking out while the cads clean up leave many feeling frustrated and resentful.
- At least 50% of women think they’re a hard 10. Why? Because they snagged a ONS with a top dog. Your no-strings value is considerably higher than your commitment value. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
- Women who want relationships are constantly thwarted as their promiscuous female peers give away sexual access.
2. Believe a man when he says he doesn’t want a girlfriend.
Most men will tell you straight out what they’re down for if you ask. Take him at his word. The guys are emphatic in their claims that a woman never changes their mind if they’re not looking for a relationship, no matter how great she is.
If you don’t ask, it’s on you. No fair going along for the ride and then claiming you were dicked over. My own advice? Ask before you have sex. If you don’t like the answer, walk away.
Yes, some relationships start out with casual hookups. But that only works when both parties are amenable to a relationship from the start.
3. Sex is not the way to a man’s heart.
Women who believe they can get a man to fall in love with them by being great in bed are dead wrong. In fact, men find women most attractive in the period just before sex, and tend to feel less enamored afterwards. Men like variety, so sex with one woman will never be an incentive to fall in love.
4. Men care about your sexual history.
This makes feminists see red, but it’s a fact. In the two years I’ve been writing this blog, only 3 of more than 100 male commenters have said otherwise. (It’s unclear whether any of the 3 were really straight males.) For hooking up, guys want a slut with great skills. For dating, guys want a woman who has had sex mostly in the context of meaningful relationships. There’s a short-term box, and a long-term box for virtually every man, and your number is the key determinant of what box you go into.
Men are especially sensitive to the idea that women live it up with players when they’re in college and their 20s, only to seek a really great guy later on to marry. If that man was in the 80% of guys who didn’t get laid a lot in college, forget about it. He doesn’t want to pay up now for what you gave away for free to so many others.
5. Men become more relationship-oriented as they age.
Many of the guys have stated that a male 24 or under wants as much sex as possible with as little fuss as possible. Relationships are a hassle – they require constant calling, setting aside precious weekend time, making an effort for a woman’s friends, and even getting dragged to the mall. They also entail constant drama, PMSing, trying to figure out what you did wrong even when she says “nothing.” Most young men have zero desire to jump through the hoops if they can get access to sex without it.
Once a man is out in the world, pursuing a career, nurturing mature friendships, he is far more likely to see a relationship as a desirable, worthwhile life choice. As he approaches 30, he may well be thinking about finding a life partner. As an added benefit, men become more focused on character, seeking women with integrity, honesty and generosity. Being “the hottest” is no longer a requirement, and may even be a disadvantage (see 4).
6. Men are more cautious about marriage than ever before.
The marriage rate is declining, and all indications are that it will continue to do so.
- Only 43% of college students are male. There will be a shortage of educated, professional men for the foreseeable future.
- Where cheating used to be something that men did more than women, researchers now believe that women cheat at least as often as men. 10-20% of newborns are estimated to be fathered by someone other than the man who believes himself to be the father.
- Women initiate 2/3 of divorces.
- U.S. laws around divorce, alimony, custody and child support are extreme disincentives to men considering marriage.
- Cohabitation is increasingly common, and reduces the likelihood of marriage, statistically speaking.
Many men will carefully consider whether they should marry at all, and will not do so if a woman does not demonstrate exemplary character and loyalty.
7. Men are wary of women who act entitled.
The Women’s Movement provided many financial opportunities for women. Equality cuts both ways. Chivalry is dead. Many men enjoy the role of provider, but resent a woman who feels that his spending money on her is a prerequisite to commitment. Men are extremely appreciative of women who buy them a drink for a change, offer to share the cost of a meal, or reciprocate the next time around.
8. Men are not turned on by your career achievements.
It’s become a cliche for successful women to bemoan their spinsterhood by claiming that men are intimidated by their success. Actually, research shows that both men and women are happiest when the man has higher status than the woman. In any case, don’t think that flipping a guy your impressive business card or bending his ear about your doctoral dissertation is going to make you more attractive.
Men dislike women who behave aggressively or competitively. By all means, do whatever you need to do to succeed at work, but don’t come barreling into a dinner date acting like a Wall St. trader.
9. Men judge you by the way you treat others.
Both sexes do this, but men are especially sensitive to the way you treat other men. They all share the risk of rejection, and hate to see some guy do his best to put himself out there, only to receive some pyrotechnic rejection from a woman. It’s doubly harmful if you go on to ridicule the guy you just sent packing. You shouldn’t be rude to others in any case, but keep in mind that you may disqualify yourself from consideration by the handsomest guy in the room if you treat some other guy disrespectfully.
10. Men love to be approached.
Guys often express that if a woman is decently attractive, they will receive any approach from her warmly. By taking the initiative, and giving a guy a break from the risk of making the approach, you can make an excellent first impression.
If you can’t bring yourself to approach, you should at least be aware that eye contact and a smile will be required encouragement for most men.
11. Men do not want to be your platonic friend.
There’s a reason guys don’t want to hear those dreaded words Let’s Just Be Friends. It means that a woman they’ve been hoping to hook up with has just taken the possibility off the table. Fellow blogger Solomon II quoted a commenter on his site who said it best:
If I’m not fucking you now, fucking you soon, or using you to fuck other girls, you’re useless to me.
Harsh, I know. But no straight male wants to be your sexless soulmate.
Men are more direct than women. I have found that when they are able to speak online and anonymously, they are honest, analytical and extremely generous with their time. I’m extremely grateful for those men who have educated us on the male perspective this year. If you are a regular reader but skip the Comments section, you need to make reading it your first resolution of 2011!