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Don’t Trade Up

Last year David Rakoff died at the age of 47. He was a writer, regular on This American Life, and most interesting to me, a maker of incredible, personalized gifts for his friends and loved ones. Shortly before he died, Ariel Kaminer, his colleague and the former Ethicist columnist at the New York Times, wrote him a letter to tell him how much she’d learned from him. Wise words for a new year.

I found this first part particularly relevant to our discussions here:

David,

You know how much I love you, but what I’ve never told you is how much I’ve learned from you.

Here is the simplest lesson you taught me: Don’t trade up.

In terms of three-word volumes, it ranks right up there with “It gets better.” Like that more famous line, it starts out as a bit of simple, practical instruction — don’t back out of a social engagement just because a snazzier offer came along — and broadens out into an entire perspective on how to live.

Don’t grade friendships on a hierarchical scale.

Don’t value people based on some external indicator of status.

Don’t take a competitive view of your social life.

There are very few rules I carry around with me every day. Don’t trade up is one of them, and I truly can’t tell you how many seemingly complicated situations it resolved into clarity and fairness. I am grateful to you for that.

There will always be someone hotter, wealthier, funnier, smarter, more interesting, more something. You could spend your whole life reaching for someone better. Don’t do that. 

  • Erik L

    I’m not sure your final paragraph is a correct summary of the quoted passage. I agree you shouldn’t grade friendships on a hierarchical scale and that you shouldn’t value people based on external indicators of social status.

    But why would I not seek funnier, smarter and more interesting friends? Some people may already have plenty of friends who are ideally smart, funny and interesting for them, but I think most people are not in that enviable situation.

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

      @Erik

      I extrapolated the principle to apply to mating. However, in your example, in searching to trade up in your friendships, you would presumably lose the friends you already have. Perhaps they are not as funny, but are a lot more loyal. Maybe they’re less intellectual but are a lot more fun.

      This happens a lot when girls try hard to get into the clique of the Queen Bee/Mean Girl. They wind up selling out and ditching their good friends for the chance to get invited to the right parties. Some people are so opportunistic in all their relationships, they don’t know when they have a good thing going. Inevitably, they find that they get left behind when their new friends trade up.

      Obviously, in dating, always holding out for something better leads to solitude.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com david foster

    This seems related to C S Lewis’s ideas on The Inner Ring.

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

      @david foster

      Indeed! Thanks for the link, that is a great read.

      I have no right to make assumptions about the degree to which any of you may already be compromised. I must not assume that you have ever first neglected, and finally shaken off, friends whom you really loved and who might have lasted you a lifetime, in order to court the friendship of those who appeared to you more important, more esoteric. I must not ask whether you have derived actual pleasure from the loneliness and humiliation of the outsiders after you, yourself were in: whether you have talked to fellow members of the Ring in the presence of outsiders simply in order that the outsiders might envy; whether the means whereby, in your days of probation, you propitiated the Inner Ring, were always wholly admirable.

      …My main purpose in this address is simply to convince you that this desire is one of the great permanent mainsprings of human action. It is one of the factors which go to make up the world as we know it—this whole pell-mell of struggle, competition, confusion, graft, disappointment and advertisement, and if it is one of the permanent mainsprings then you may be quite sure of this. Unless you take measures to prevent it, this desire is going to be one of the chief motives of your life, from the first day on which you enter your profession until the day when you are too old to care.

      …Once the first novelty is worn off, the members of this circle will be no more interesting than your old friends. Why should they be? You were not looking for virtue or kindness or loyalty or humour or learning or wit or any of the things that can really be enjoyed. You merely wanted to be “in.” And that is a pleasure that cannot last. As soon as your new associates have been staled to you by custom, you will be looking for another Ring. The rainbow’s end will still be ahead of you. The old ring will now be only the drab background for your endeavor to enter the new one.

      …To a young person, just entering on adult life, the world seems full of “insides,” full of delightful intimacies and confidentialities, and he desires to enter them. But if he follows that desire he will reach no “inside” that is worth reaching. The true road lies in quite another direction.

  • Escoffier

    This post is somewhat confusing, to me at least, because Susuan, haven’t you in the past repeatedly denied that people … er, that is, women … simply don’t do this?

    Happy new year, you knew I’d be back eventually!

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

      @Escoffier

      This post is somewhat confusing, to me at least, because Susuan, haven’t you in the past repeatedly denied that people … er, that is, women … simply don’t do this?

      I cannot believe it took a full five comments to get to female hypergamy!

      I think all people do it, or at least consider doing it. Most of us have done it as children, certainly. Call it a base desire, if you like. In the realm of relationships, it’s something that should in fact be squelched. To date, I have seen no evidence that one sex trades up more than the other.

      I think the applicability is broader than that, though. A related idea is being so picky that no one ever measures up, because you’re convinced that you belong in a higher echelon than the one you currently inhabit. It’s one thing to dress one level up in the workplace, it’s another to attempt to mate one level up in the SMP, particularly for keeps.

  • Escoffier

    well hell, am I starting 2013 off stupid … I meant that you have denied that women do this, i.e., trade up.

  • Escoffier

    Yes, this would apply to social climbing in addition to mate-trading. My own sense is that women do this more than men do in both realms. That’s just based on observation and nothing else. I’ve known a non-trivial number of couples where the woman is really hell-bent on cracking into a higher social circle and the man is perfectly content with his old buddies, whom she would prefer he ditch.

    Then again, the most egregious example I have personally encountered (social climbing, not mate-trading) was a man.

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

      @Escoffier

      I’m thinking about the way that the sexes compete differently. Women compete for friends by nurturing relationships and sharing intimacies. Before puberty, the field is pretty wide open, but once males make it clear who’s hot, the power dynamics shift dramatically.

      It seems like men bond via activities, most of which are competitive. So the top performers in one area, e.g. football, robotics, tend to congregate. My sense is that it’s difficult for a guy to move from one crew to another, is that right?

      If trading up works differently for the sexes, it’s not surprising that you’ll see more of it where there is more potential to make a change.

      Mating is a different story. In my observation, men use social proof to trade up if they can, often acquired via athletics or frat membership. Women use social climbing with other women to gain access to higher status males, and then often offer sex as an inducement.

  • Escoffier

    It’s difficult for boys to trade crews but it gets easier as you get older and move away.

    I’ve lived nearly all my adult life in highly competetive big cities that attract men from everywhere. Whatever you were in your hometown is not dispositive on what you can be in the big city. Most of the people in my “category” have had to leave our old cliques and friends behind. I still have some that I see about 2x/year but they are not the people who are really in my life/crew today.

    What I was talking about was (to stick with the specific example) of a guy who left a fairly nice childhood in a nice but small hometown, came to the big city, found a new set of friends firs in grad school and then through work, but then succumbed to the allure of the big city to try to claw his way into ever higher social circles, leaving several of his second set of friends behind as he did so. This can be done in a place like Manhattan, where these days everyone is from somewhere else and money is paramount.

    Had he stayed home, as did all his brothers, I don’t think his social milleau would ever have changed much.

  • http://www.4stargazer.wordpress.com Anacaona

    Before puberty, the field is pretty wide open, but once males make it clear who’s hot, the power dynamics shift dramatically.

    I have to object to that the mother’s, aunts, grandmothers can start the nasty part in their pre-pubescent protegees. I had seen cattiness among 5 years old in my mother class but once you see the mom/primary female figure you can guess who is she imitating. I tend to feel pity for them because really, poor thing didn’t had a chance to see anything beyond “I will cut a bitch” behaviour among females, YMMV.

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

      @Ana

      I have to object to that the mother’s, aunts, grandmothers can start the nasty part in their pre-pubescent protegees.

      Yes, you are right of course! I saw some girls change as my daughter was growing up. The ones with bitchy mothers started out sweet, but over time adopted the same aloof, cold demeanor, and they went from being a happy part of the friend group to being Mean Girls. I suppose the double whammy of genes plus that role model makes it difficult to escape.

  • Brian

    Women used to have a saying for their daughters/granddaughters. Dance with the one who brought you. In other words, don’t use people to move up. For one, it’s rude. Second, it shows zero respect for others, which is something that society used to value.

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

      @Brian

      Second, it shows zero respect for others, which is something that society used to value.

      It amazes me how careless people are in humiliating others. I’ve heard horror stories of proms and formals where dates got ditched entirely. That would never have happened two generations ago. In a recent case, exes got back together at a winter formal, leaving both their dates at loose ends. Unbelievable.

      More generally, though, I agree that people accord one another little respect. Of course, the worst abusers are the people at the top – that’s always the way it is.

  • Ramble

    There will always be someone hotter, wealthier, funnier, smarter, more interesting, more something. You could spend your whole life reaching for someone better. Don’t do that.

    Susan, I love your blog, but this is way too simple to be all that useful.

    There is a HUGE difference between people who really do think that there is something better/more-awesome out there and people who really could do better.

    All you have to do is think of a girl who was lonely for a long time and now has found a man who cares about her, and is controlling and condescending as well, and your heart breaks since you know that she is not even contemplating Trading Up.

    Some people at this point will say something like, “well, that does not apply here because she should know that she can do better”, but, the truth is, she may not. I mean, she was alone, and lonely, for a long time. And this guy cares about her more than any other man had.

    My point, or, rather, one of my points, is this: being able to properly apply value to things is an important skill in life. And, we will all falter in some areas (i.e. how good is this job, how good is this home, how good is this neighborhood, how good is this school, etc.), but one area in particular where it is extremely important to be able to judge value accurately is in deciding who your spouse will be.

    Personally, I think it is the most important decision you will ever make (especially since it has a huge impact on who you children will be and in what environment they will be raised).

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

      @Ramble

      My point, or, rather, one of my points, is this: being able to properly apply value to things is an important skill in life. And, we will all falter in some areas (i.e. how good is this job, how good is this home, how good is this neighborhood, how good is this school, etc.), but one area in particular where it is extremely important to be able to judge value accurately is in deciding who your spouse will be.

      Of course I am not saying that people should jump at the first offer of marriage, or stay with a mate who has gone all Blue Valentine on them. I’m really talking about appreciating and being loyal to people who have a role in our lives. It’s about not being selfish, and even foregoing the opportunity to get something “better” for yourself. (Whether it really is better is never immediately known.) Cheating is a form of trading up. So is rampant serial monogamy.

      It’s self serving to see one’s relationships with an eye towards personal gain at the expense of someone else. Getting what you can out of someone until something better comes along is a very agentic way of operating in the world.

  • http://www.rosehope.com Hope

    Ramble, yeah, I’m glad I left my ex. Since that time I’ve not had a guy scream and yell at me! I didn’t know how bad the situation was until I got out of it.

    There’s something to be said for healthy balance. Don’t settle for total and complete crap, and don’t trade up when you have something great already.

  • Ramble

    It seems like men bond via activities, most of which are competitive. So the top performers in one area, e.g. football, robotics, tend to congregate. My sense is that it’s difficult for a guy to move from one crew to another, is that right?

    Personally, what I saw in junior and high school, for boys, was not like that. A guy could belong to multiple crews (they definitely were not “cliquey”) at one time. For instance, I belonged to at 3 different ‘crews’: Stickball (similar to Baseball), Hockey and Basketball. As you might guess, there was some overlap. But you could also be in a band and have those guys as your main friend, but still be pretty close to you basketball buddies.

  • John

    Didn’t you just run an article about how women get it too hard on hypergamy and then you run this?

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

      @John

      Didn’t you just run an article about how women get it too hard on hypergamy and then you run this?

      I am not sure which post you might be referring to, but I am sure that this post does not contradict an earlier one.

  • Ramble

    I didn’t know how bad the situation was until I got out of it.

    So, a few questions. When you were dating the abusive guy…
    1.) Did you know that “Trading Up” was a realistic possibility (i.e. it is very possible for me to do better)?
    2.) Did you have a relatively specific idea as to what a “better” man would look like (i.e. patient, sensitive [but not a bitch], focused, etc.)?
    3.) And, finally, that looking for “greener grass” was a good thing?

    Don’t settle for total and complete crap, and don’t trade up when you have something great already.

    Right. You have properly evaluated your husband.

    For instance, you might think that in this world of 7 billion that their might be a man that is a little bit more intelligent, a little bit funnier or a little bit more romantic, but, my man is awesome and I am keeping him.

  • Ramble

    Of course, the worst abusers are the people at the top – that’s always the way it is.

    I dunno. I have seen plenty of lower class people with little going for them, including looks, that acted in ways that are almost hard to believe.

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

      I have seen plenty of lower class people with little going for them, including looks, that acted in ways that are almost hard to believe.

      Well, “the top” is relative. A thug can be at the top of his gang and be merciless about using others to trade up.

  • http://3rdmilleniummen.wordpress.com 3rd Millenium Men

    Hi Susan,

    “There will always be someone hotter, wealthier, funnier, smarter, more interesting, more something. You could spend your whole life reaching for someone better. Don’t do that.”

    I don’t agree. Jim Rohn said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. I think that reflects that if we want to achieve greatness in life, we need to surround ourselves with role models of success and people who will inspire us to be our best selves.

    Yes, it’s important to stay in touch with people who we can trust, and most importantly our family. But it’s important that we seek to meet and network with people who are where we want to be.

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

      I think that reflects that if we want to achieve greatness in life, we need to surround ourselves with role models of success and people who will inspire us to be our best selves.

      Of course. You want to be a surgeon, so you eagerly accept the mentoring that a prominent physician offers. Do you stop talking to your best friend from college who is “only” a social worker, and can be of little use in advancing your career?

      How do you understand and assign “value” to someone? The role model of success may be the person who brings out the very worst in you. Many egotists without empathy are extraordinarily financially successful. Are you your best self when you spend time in that person’s company? How could you be? The CS Lewis piece linked above speaks to this, and there’s a seasonal, simpler example: George Bailey vs. Mr. Potter.

      It all comes down to how you define greatness.

  • http://www.rosehope.com Hope

    Ramble, it’s a long story, but to answer your questions:

    1) I thought it was possible for me to do better, but I didn’t want to be “that kind of girl.” I wanted to be loyal. I wanted to believe in my “first love.”

    2) I thought a better man would be not a chronic drug user and would not be angry all the time. But I really had no clear idea aside from that.

    3) I looked for “greener grass,” but the ex threatened to kill himself if I left him. When I finally did leave, he found another woman immediately and had a kid. So clearly my reason for staying was dumb all along.

  • Abbot

    “many women — some of them self-identified feminists, some of them professionals — have the fantasy that some man is going to rescue them financially.”

    Rescue them from the carousel as well, aka a double wammy

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1870066,00.html

    .

  • Damien Vulaume

    “More generally, though, I agree that people accord one another little respect. Of course, the worst abusers are the people at the top – that’s always the way it is.”

    Oh yes, or even worse, those craaaving to be at the top, at least at the top of something.

  • bellacoker

    The link you posted included a letter from the director of the John Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC, I have taken a bookbinding class there and it is really a wonderful place.

    As for trading up, I think that you are correct but that there is also a competing element which has to be taken into account. We all have the capacity to keep growing and changing in our lives and long-term relationships, friendships and intimate relationships, can only last if we can let our friends and lovers grow and change as well; if we can love them and their potential selves as well. If we see changes in them over time as a betrayal of what they promised us then we can only outgrow each other, and in that case, it is usually best for both parties to move on.

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

      @bellacoker

      We all have the capacity to keep growing and changing in our lives and long-term relationships, friendships and intimate relationships, can only last if we can let our friends and lovers grow and change as well; if we can love them and their potential selves as well.

      That’s a great point. I’ve seen some close relationships, including parents and kids, spouses, and best friends become estranged from one another as a result of one changing. Sometimes that is warranted – my aunt divorced my uncle when she learned that he had cooked the books at his company. Other times it’s over silly things, like an argument that two people stubbornly refuse to resolve for years.

      I’ve also been the person who was left behind, without explanation, by female friends. One of my closest friends, a woman who was in my wedding, stopped talking to me one day 25 years ago and I’ve never learned why. I had vivid dreams about her for ten years. I felt abandoned.

  • Ramble

    …I am not saying that people should jump at the first offer of marriage
    …or stay with a mate who has gone all Blue Valentine on them.
    …Cheating is a form of trading up
    rampant serial monogamy.

    extreme…extreme…extreme…extreme…

    These are all extreme examples. And, of course, I understand the point you are trying to make. But what about those people who are in perfectly fine, stable, middling relationships?

    It’s self serving to see one’s relationships with an eye towards personal gain at the expense of someone else. Getting what you can out of someone until something better comes along is a very agentic way of operating in the world.

    Selfishness is important in life.

    All of those lonely people that dream about having someone in their lives so that they will be happier are acting, partly, on selfish motives.

    Getting what you can out of someone until something better comes along is a very agentic way of operating in the world.

    If they are that aware of what they are doing. The more ignorant ones will be lucky in that the initial happiness they feel in getting that new relationship and ending that deep loneliness will be real and fulfilling, if temporary. And, as you know, that feeling will fade and they will start looking to trade up.

    (The more self aware ones have a harder go in these situations, IMO)

    Does this suck for those that get dumped? I’m sure. But it is a major part of our modern society and we are better off knowing more about it than less (and I am not implying that you were thinking otherwise).

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

      Selfishness is important in life.

      All of those lonely people that dream about having someone in their lives so that they will be happier are acting, partly, on selfish motives.

      I don’t agree. I think most lonely people think about giving love that is willingly received more than they wish to be loved themselves. When I was single and lonely I thought of all the things I wanted to do for the right man.

  • Erik L

    @Susan: I think there is something different between pursuing someone just because he or she is higher up the social hierarchy, and pursuing someone because of the other qualities you mentioned.

    Obviously, though, if you never stop trying to trade up (implying replacement rather than addition) you would end up alone

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

      @Erik

      I think there is something different between pursuing someone just because he or she is higher up the social hierarchy, and pursuing someone because of the other qualities you mentioned.

      I agree. Intent is key – what is it you hope to gain, and what do you give in return? Some people are just born users.

  • Ramble

    (cont. from previous comment)

    Let’s take a hypothetical* example: Let’s say we have a girl, Stacy, who was alone, and lonely, for a long time. Finally, she meets a really nice guy through online dating. She thinks that he is nice, kind, unselfish, intelligent and patient. He also has a good job with good prospects for the future.

    He is also Asian (she does not find Asian men attractive) and somewhat short (though, taller than she is).

    She kind of hates herself for not being more attracted to this really good man. She is only 26 and she is thinking of (attempting) Trading Up.

    Yes, or no: Should she attempt to Trade Up?

    .
    .
    .

    * Not Hypothetical

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

      @Ramble

      I don’t think your hypothetical describes a trading up situation, unless she is already in a serious relationship with this man. If she is, I hope she’s been honest with him about not being attracted. It’s unfair, even a form of theft, for her to waste his time and expose him to emotional hurt if she pretends to find him sexy when she does not. He deserves the opportunity to find a woman who really does want to worship his cock.

      In any case, we can’t hate ourselves for not being physically attracted to people. There are good reasons why we are drawn to some people and not others. She should stay on the market until she finds a man of good character who does it for her.

  • Erik L

    “A related idea is being so picky that no one ever measures up, because you’re convinced that you belong in a higher echelon than the one you currently inhabit. ”

    Sounds like narcissistic personality disorder

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

      Sounds like narcissistic personality disorder

      Yes, and we’re in the middle of an epidemic.

  • Erik L

    @Susan:

    “or stay with a mate who has gone all Blue Valentine on them”

    Can you summarize for me what you think the guy did wrong in that movie? I’m not saying it wasn’t his fault but I have heard different opinions, and you seem to be using “Blue Valentine” as a shorthand for something

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

      @Erik

      Ryan Gosling’s character in Blue Valentine had a good heart, and a lot of love to give. He was obviously deeply attached to his wife and her child (by another man – he married her pregnant). He was sweet and charming in the flashback they show of the two of them on a date.

      Fast forward a few years and the guy awakes in the morning in his Barcolounger with a bad hangover. Despite his being responsible for child care. He has little motivation to work or be productive in any way, and when he gets a painting job, he begins it with an open beer at 8 am. She works a steady job and is clearly the primary breadwinner.

      Worst of all, he has no self-awareness. The sex scenes in the hotel room (that bizarre “outer space” theme room) are some of the most painful I’ve ever seen because he is oblivious to his wife’s profound disgust.

      Instead of working hard to provide for his family or even himself, which would afford him self-respect, he becomes a stagnant, lazy drunk. Not surprisingly, his looks deteriorate a lot as well, which doesn’t help.

  • Ramble

    One of my closest friends, a woman who was in my wedding, stopped talking to me one day 25 years ago and I’ve never learned why. I had vivid dreams about her for ten years.

    You must be friends with some of her friends. You were never able to find out why?

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

      @Ramble

      You must be friends with some of her friends. You were never able to find out why?

      She lost touch with all of them over the years. She did at one point tell a mutual friend that she missed me, but would not say why we were no longer friends. It remains a mystery. A few years ago I read that she was battling breast cancer, and I wanted so badly to reach out and contact her. I didn’t though – I felt sure the overture would not be welcome.

  • http://www.rosehope.com Hope

    Ramble, I’d advise that girl to move on and find a guy she’s really excited to be with. Let him be with a girl who really is hot for him, rather than merely lukewarm.

    If this was not a hypothetical situation, she doesn’t sound like she is or ever was in love with him. That’s a recipe for long-term disaster unless she finds a way to somehow gain real passion for the guy.

  • Escoffier

    “Yes, or no: Should she attempt to Trade Up?”

    That’s the wrong question.

    Certainly, she should not continue with a man she doesn’t find attractive. Whether or not she can “trade up” depends on whether she can find a higher status guy, or at least one she finds more attractive.

    But the Right Thing to Do for her in that circumstance is to let that guy down gently and move on, even if that mens reverting to being alone.

  • Ramble

    Whether or not she can “trade up” depends on whether she can find a higher status guy, or at least one she finds more attractive.

    Right, that is what I am asking.

    Even if she breaks up with him to be alone, she would be doing so so that she could, eventually, and hopefully, find someone better…she is hoping to Trade Up. But, she would be Trading Up in a less anti-social manner than, say, stringing along some poor bastard until she could dump him for the newer, better model.

  • Ramble

    When I was single and lonely I thought of all the things I wanted to do for the right man.

    You didn’t think at all what you would get for yourself?

    BTW, I am right there with you. When I was a lonely guy in HS, I was quite romantic in my thoughts about how I would treat the first girl to date me. I had no thoughts of selfish gain (well, other than relieving me of that soul-crushing and humiliating loneliness).

    Still, my question stands.

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

      You didn’t think at all what you would get for yourself?

      Of course I pictured romantic scenarios between us and fantasized about having butterflies and an intense attraction for someone. As a girl I dreamed of a wedding. But I don’t think I ever thought of it in terms of gaining something without his gaining something, if that makes sense.

  • Ramble

    Fast forward a few years and the guy awakes in the morning in his Barcolounger with a bad hangover. Despite his being responsible for child care. He has little motivation to work or be productive in any way, and when he gets a job, he begins it with an open beer at 8 am. She works a steady job and is clearly the primary breadwinner.

    Did Ryan Gosling seem right for the role? I have never seen the movie.

    Just based on that description, I would never say to myself, “Wow, Ryan Gosling sounds perfect for that role!”.

    Actually, very few guys in Hollywood under 30 seem like they would fit that role. Very few have any blue-collar cred in their face and mannerisms.

    The guy from The Hurt Locker might have worked if his age was OK (yeah, yeah, I know he is gay, but who cares)..

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

      @Ramble

      Ryan Gosling was great in the role, but I was surprised. Having seen him in Lars and the Real Girl (highly recommended) I knew he was capable of playing an unattractive type guy. Here’s a pic of him in Blue Valentine looking cute before they got together:

      rg

      And After:

      rga

  • Ramble

    I don’t think your hypothetical describes a trading up situation

    Then we are having, or would have, a semantics argument.

    Here was her situation:
    1. Very lonely
    2. Happy to have someone interested in her.
    3. Thought he was nice
    4. Was not physically attracted to him.
    5. Understands that their is more to life than physical attraction and genuinely wants to be with a good man.
    6. Hates herself for not being more attracted to him.
    7. Is questioning whether her “height requirement” (no requirement, but she preferred them to be 6 feet or taller even though she as 5’1″) is completely ridiculous
    8. Does not want to drag her feet. She wants to have a family and be a mommy (SAHM, if possible, if not…so be it)
    9. Is not sure if she can do better than him.
    10. Will not string him along if she can not “fall in love” with him. (She is not manipulative or conniving).

    Whatever label you want to put on that, that is what she had. I would definitely say that she was looking to “do better”, “trade up”.

    Some people may only apply that one phrase if they string along the “lesser” party.

  • Ramble

    OK, that second picture does not look like Ryan Gosling. OK, I can see how that would work.

    But I don’t think I ever thought of it in terms of gaining something without his gaining something, if that makes sense.

    Again, this sounds like a semantics argument. Like I said a few months back, you could probably cut your never-ending online debates in half if you could recognize, and call out, arguments over semantics before they get out of control.

    You were definitely interested in what you would gain. However, you were also proud of what you could give. But there is definite selfishness involved. Granted, there almost always is.

  • Escoffier

    It’s not semantic, there is a real distinction here.

    Your (Ramble’s) hypothetical is not really trading up, I agree with Susan.

    Trading up would be, she marries a guy she IS attracted to and in love with, something happens–he beta-izes, she improves her SMV, etc.–and a guy comes along who reawakens in her the feeling of being “in love” in an intense way she hasn’t felt in a long time. She leaves #1 for #2.

    Or, a more straightforwardly clear trade:-up attractive woman marries high-status, well off man. Good match for her (and him). Out of blue and by chance a very famous, very rich mega-star enters her orbit and comes on strong. The temptation is overwhelming. She bolts. (See, e.g., Jessica Seinfeld, the ultimate hypergamy poster girl.)

  • http://bastiatblogger.blogspot.com/ Bastiat Blogger

    Re: trading up. To add to the list of cautionary tales, let me provide a small sample of archetypal female SMP operators from my dating/mating environment of mainly 35+ yo singles:

    1. Divorced, with child/children. Now wants to party; attracted to hot bad boys and very self-conscious about having children. Will borderline-hide or neglect kids in order to present a “wild and young and free” image (sends kids to be with the ex, grandparents, babysitters on speed dial, etc.). Borderline nymphomaniac due to years of repressed sexuality during marriage—now up for almost anything. Wants a good-looking, jacked-up, jock-type guy and will date many years younger if necessary.

    2. Divorced, with child/children. Helicopter mom. Ex is usually hated. Wants to put new man in modular “dad” role. Male is generally seen as a working tool or beast of burden who exists solely to provision. Exhausted by catering to the myriad perceived emotional and consumption needs of narcissistic, often physically soft/obese kids and now wants a lucky man to share in this party. Deeply hypocritical in the sense that a divorced man w/ kids is considered damaged goods and inappropriate—wants complete discretionary control of a man’s resources and will not tolerate diversions. Probably will have to take an serious SMV hit in order to find a guy who fits the bill.

    3. No kids, but terminal case of baby rabies. May or may not be divorced. Wants children NOW. Very rapid emotional and physical escalation. Tendency to spin plates while aggressively searching for lifetime partner.

    4. Never married because of career focus and extraordinarily complex, toxic mate-selection checklist. Weird social circle of ambitious frenemies. Culture vulture and usually quite well-dressed and sophisticated. Sexually aggressive, will poach married men from other women, amoral, hypergamous on several dimensions (wealth, status, education; may be tolerant of a wide range of looks, however). Dates a lot of players; kind of pissed about it. Does not particularly like children. Frequently reveals brittle, highly emotive behavior patterns suggesting paranoia, inconsistent “magical thinking”, and solipsistic neuroticism.

    5. Never married because of career focus. Now hates career and wants to find meal ticket male so that affluent SAHM option is opened. OK with kids provided that ample domestic support is made available. Sexually conservative; sociopolitical bent is towards a fairly self-serving mix of cherry-picked feminist and traditional-conservative bullet-points. Very concerned about wasting time with dead-end relationships and players.

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

      @BB

      Yikes, it sounds like you’re choosing from a nest of vipers. I’ve written about reasons women should date older, but I’ve never considered that men should perhaps date younger for more than the obvious reasons. You’ve just given five.

  • Ramble

    Escoffier, it sounds like,

    1.) Your definition needs to involve marriage and,
    2.) Be somewhat hypergamous.

    Like I said, feel free to apply whatever label you want to her situation.

  • Ramble

    5. Never married because of career focus. Now hates career and wants to find meal ticket male so that affluent SAHM option is opened. OK with kids provided that ample domestic support is made available. Sexually conservative; sociopolitical bent is towards a fairly self-serving mix of cherry-picked feminist and traditional-conservative bullet-points. Very concerned about wasting time with dead-end relationships and players.

    IMO, these are the girls that were/are most hurt by our modern PC approaches. I think that so many of them (specifically, those cat. 5 girls you described) would have been much, much better served by a traditional moral and social education.

  • Erik L

    Got it.

    I thought Gosling was convincing in the role but a serious movie buff friend of mine says he didn’t him as blue collar.

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    “Women used to have a saying for their daughters/granddaughters. Dance with the one who brought you. In other words, don’t use people to move up. For one, it’s rude. Second, it shows zero respect for others, which is something that society used to value.”

    But its our culture. Rudeness is ok, just as long as you can “surround yourself with role models of success” as 3rd Millenium describes.

    “I don’t agree. Jim Rohn said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. I think that reflects that if we want to achieve greatness in life, we need to surround ourselves with role models of success and people who will inspire us to be our best selves.”

    OK he didn’t say to be rude per se, but I’ve attended enough motivational seminars by people like James Ray, Tony Robbins, etc and they are always advising people to chuck those who “hold you down” and “surround yourself with successful people”.
    Success means what in this context? Money and material assets. Those who “hold you down” are the non-wealthy.

  • Escoffier

    It doesn’t have to involve marriage. Any relationship will do.

    The point is, your scenario is not trading up. It’s a woman who should not have entered into the relationship in the first place.

    Trading up is when at least initially the relationship was sound and she bolts for something better.

    In the first case, good character requires not getting into the relationship in the first place. In the second case, good character requires not leaving a relationship for frivilous reasons.

    Everyone in a good relationship is potentially temptable by category #2. We just need to resist temptation. However, no one should ever even entertain category #1, which is using someone, pure and simple.

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    “When I was single and lonely I thought of all the things I wanted to do for the right man.”

    “You didn’t think at all what you would get for yourself?”

    She did. The right man.

    “BTW, I am right there with you. When I was a lonely guy in HS, I was quite romantic in my thoughts about how I would treat the first girl to date me. I had no thoughts of selfish gain ”

    The selfish gain IS “the right man” and “the first girl that would date me”. Both of you had images and ideas in your minds about what these people would be like.

  • J

    But the Right Thing to Do for her in that circumstance is to let that guy down gently and move on, even if that means reverting to being alone.

    Cosigned. If it’s snot right, it’s not right. The absence or presence of a third person should be irrelevant.

  • Ramble

    It’s a woman who should not have entered into the relationship in the first place.

    That is an understandable argument.

    Trading up is when at least initially the relationship was sound and she bolts for something better.

    Like I said, apply whatever label you want to it. I think that your definition is a fine one.

    In the first case, good character requires not getting into the relationship in the first place.

    Well, in her specific case, they never had a “serious” relationship. They only dated for a few weeks.

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    “Worst of all, he has no self-awareness. The sex scenes in the hotel room (that bizarre “outer space” theme room) are some of the most painful I’ve ever seen because he is oblivious to his wife’s profound disgust. ”

    What was she disgusted by?

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

      What was she disgusted by?

      She was so totally not attracted to him, they drank a ton, and then he wanted to have perfunctory sex on the floor. He’s drunk, just looking to get off, and she is thoroughly repulsed by him in every way. He’s humping away and the camera cuts to her face – she looks like she will scream or vomit. It was very painful to watch. The viewer’s sympathies are with her – he is disgusting.

  • Abbot

    Steamy hot, right off the press!

    http://www.dissentmagazine.org/issue/winter-2013

    .

  • Escoffier

    “Well, in her specific case, they never had a “serious” relationship. They only dated for a few weeks.”

    Then she didn’t do anything wrong. And didn’t trade up.

    BTW, simply declining to stay with guy #1 because she didn’t find him attractive is not “trading up” even if she finds #2 who IS to her attractive. #2 may or may not be an upgrade in status, money or even looks. All that matters is that he pushes HER buttons in some way #1 did not.

    You may call this semantic but if my wife left me for a handsome hedge fund rock-climber, I would say she traded up. If she left me for a bum, or for no one, I would say she did not. The net effect on me would be bad regardless but the causes would admit of distinctions.

  • pvw

    @BastiatBlogger 53:

    Re: trading up. To add to the list of cautionary tales, let me provide a small sample of archetypal female SMP operators from my dating/mating environment of mainly 35+ yo singles…

    Me: Wow, your list reads like a catalog of neuroses that should go into some psychological journal. I can see it now, especially a historical study years from now….

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    Hey thanks for that link. I’m reading “The New Feminism” article right now.

    This sticks out

    “And the reaction harks back to gender panics in recent decades. Rosin suggests we are living under a new matriarchy. Men are becoming irrelevant and women are too adaptable to the personality-driven service sector. While viewers take pleasure in watching the Mad Men squirm over the introduction of women into their whiskey-swilling ad agency, a similar anxiety pervades discussions of twenty-first century work. The subheading to one of Rosin’s chapters is “Asian Women Take Over the World.” Never mind that women have to have a Ph.D. to make what a male with a B.A. will. The Rosin line sounds suspiciously like an intellectual coping mechanism for the recession-battered male masses. There are too few jobs. You don’t have a job. Who took your job? Women.

    The problem with such discussions of women and feminism is that most women still work in female-dominated industries that have long been underpaid, precarious, and without benefits. Most women are not economically dominant—they’re doing the same work women have always done and suffering for it. Take the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a basic piece of legislation helping women challenge pay discrimination by extending the window during which they could sue. The act was necessary of course, because women still make about seventy-seven cents to a man’s dollar.”

    Though the attitude of the first paragraph is challenged by ground reality of the second, I do think women might have an advantage in what is termed “the personality driven service sector”. Oddly enough, game, which is nothing more than social skills, may help men adapt in that job sector.

  • A Definite Beta Guy

    This post is somewhat relevant to my present life.

    There was such an infusion of contract workers in my department that some cliques started to form. I found myself in the “in-crowd” for the first time in….ever.

    Didn’t even think of it this way. Just hung out with the people I liked outside of work and during work hours. We tried to be mostly inclusive, but obviously some people were preferred more than others.

    One kid we didn’t like at all. It was hard to relate to him, his conversation style consisted of asking questions non-stop, and I couldn’t understand him. He wasn’t mean…just hard to associate with.

    We were rather mean to him, behind his back of course, and while we didn’t DELIBERATELY exclude him, we didn’t try very hard to INCLUDE him either.

    One of my resolutions this coming year is not to let this happen again. I’ll talk to someone outside my usual social circle at work every day and try to build healthier working relationships.

    Being rude like I was is never excusable.

    I also have to add, I never would have noticed this without my SO. I was talking about this guy to her, and she said I should talk to him.

    The idea struck me as utterly repellant and ridiculous.

    That was the moment I realized I had gone wayyyyyyy too far.

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

      @ADBG

      Being rude like I was is never excusable.

      I also have to add, I never would have noticed this without my SO. I was talking about this guy to her, and she said I should talk to him.

      I’ve had similar regrets. In fact, I made sharing those stories a cornerstone of my parenting. There are a few things that fill me with shame many, many years later.

      I recall one time when my daughter was rude to a girl who was not so great on the soccer field. She was a klutzy kid, and I’m sure she didn’t enjoy being out there. Anyway, I dealt with it by recounting a story from my own high school years. Basically, a group of us were in a dance competition, and our faculty advisor added in a girl who had cerebral palsy. (This sounds like an episode of Glee, I know.) We tried to teach her the dance routine and of course she had a lot of trouble. She tried hard and in retrospect, did a pretty amazing job. However, at the time we were convinced she would ruin our chances of winning. The group “elected” me to kick her out. I told her that while we really, totally, liked her, we just didn’t think she was able to learn the moves. She just nodded and sadly said OK. We went on to win that competition, and I recall feeling sick as it was announced. 40 years later I am filled with shame at the memory. But that experience – that failure of character – changed me.

  • Ramble

    BTW, simply declining to stay with guy #1 because she didn’t find him attractive is not “trading up” even if she finds #2 who IS to her attractive.

    Like I said, apply whatever label works best.

    Then she didn’t do anything wrong.

    Well, she did date some nice guy that she never found attractive, in part, to quell her loneliness.

  • Escoffier

    But you said, for only a few weeks. That, IMO, falls well within Susan’s “shopping around” analogy. A few weeks is enough time to know that “he’s not the one.” Any longer and you start getting into “using him” territory. But a few weeks is not using someone.

    And, this is not about labels, my assertion is that there are differences in kind at play here.

  • Ramble

    That, IMO, falls well within Susan’s “shopping around” analogy.

    Sure, no argument here, but, I thought that you would still have reacted negatively to the fact that she was “shopping around” with a guy that she was not attracted to.

    I am not looking to get a specific reaction from you, either way, it is no skin off my back.

  • Escoffier

    Well, it’s possible to meet someone, not feel a spark but see their good qualities, go out a few times and then something develops. I mean, my most “intense” relationship developed with a woman who turned me down when I first asked her out, then six months later showed up at my door unannounced and unexpected.

    It may not be common but I am not going to hold it against a women if she goes on a few dates with a person of good character hoping that some sparks fly. I would hold it against her if, once it was absolutely clear that sparks were never going to fly, she kept on with it.

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

      It may not be common but I am not going to hold it against a women if she goes on a few dates with a person of good character hoping that some sparks fly.

      I encourage it! Women can definitely grow attraction over time. I don’t suggest women should ignore dealbreakers or turnoffs, but a guy who isn’t Jon Stewart on the first date may need a bit more time to open up. I always recommend three dates if he’s a good guy.

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    “Well, it’s possible to meet someone, not feel a spark but see their good qualities, go out a few times and then something develops. I mean, my most “intense” relationship developed with a woman who turned me down when I first asked her out, then six months later showed up at my door unannounced and unexpected.”

    I once got set up on a blind date with a guy I was initially not physically attracted to and who’s personality and intelligence I found lacking. When he asked to see me again I agreed because he had suggested we go somewhere that I had not been before and wanted to experience, so I went. I saw him a 3rd time too because I was bored one night and wanted to go out By the 4th date I grew to like him and he was boyfriend for almost a year. He ended up being the best kisser I’ve ever dated and still hasn’t been surpassed in that skill.

  • J

    Well, it’s possible to meet someone, not feel a spark but see their good qualities, go out a few times and then something develops.

    At it’s most basic, love is an appreciation for another’s good qualities.

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    “inconsistent “magical thinking” ”

    Got religion?

    Your options sound grim but my brother dates exclusively older women and says he’ll never go back again. I hear this a lot now.

    “I’ve written about reasons women should date older”

    Been there, done that. The grass always looks greener but sometimes its just because the beautiful sunshine (me, the younger woman) is reflecting its light upon it.

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    I’ve noticed a lot of sex scenes in the media are like that. No eroticism, foreplay or lovemaking. If anyone tried to pull that mess with me he’d get shot.

  • Ramble

    If this was not a hypothetical situation, she doesn’t sound like she is or ever was in love with him. That’s a recipe for long-term disaster unless she finds a way to somehow gain real passion for the guy.

    No, this was not hypothetical. She did not date that guy for that long, though, I don’t know the particulars. She did find a new man, they married and have had at least one child.

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    “I’ve written about reasons women should date older”

    The stereotype is that they are pillars of strength and stability. Often wrong. There are just as many messed up older guys as there are young ones. I’ll recount here a woman who married one and everyone thought she got a real catch. After their kids were born he ends up learning guitar playing in local bars and smoking weed, neglecting his family for his “music career” which did not bring in money.

    She dumped his ass and married a much younger man who is domesticated and family oriented and loves doing male bonding things with her son like fishing, totally taking on the dad role that his own dad didn’t. She’s pregnant again with her new husband’s child and they couldn’t be happier.

    Meanwhile her ex husband is growing old without the nurturing care of a wife and without the joys of fatherhood.

  • Just a thought

    Susan, I want you to read this:http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/12/07/32104/
    I think you’ll like it.

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

      @Just a thought

      Thanks for the link to the Princeton article. I sympathize enormously with the writers, but I also cringe at their delivery. Characterizing hookups as hurtful and cruel is a bit hyperbolic, IMO – they’re members of Anscombe – a group that opposes any premarital sex. So there’s a bit of a finger wagging aspect to the post. It’s pretty clear from the comments that the post didn’t go over too well.

  • Fifth Season

    This post reminded me of a few things.

    First, it reminded me of the sequence from the old “Dennis the Menace” movie featuring the song “Don’t Hang Up” by the Orlons, where Dennis’ parents try to phone for a babysitter for their eponymous (and utterly incorrigible) 5-year-old, but everyone hangs up on them–it reminds me of how a bad reputation (deserved or not) will shut out any better relationship prospects.

    I know you have your misgivings about Rollo, but this post also reminded me of his “Hypergamy Doesn’t Care” post here, which, whatever its biases, speaks a lot to the pain that men go through when they get “traded up” for “no real reason”:

    http://rationalmale.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/hypergamy-doesnt-care/

    Third, trading up can really seem like the “green light at the end of Daisy’s dock” from “The Great Gatsby.” It’ll always be there, but year by year it will recede before you no matter how fast you run. Maybe the best advice is from Sheryl Crow’s song “Soak up the Sun”: “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”

    Having said that, whatever happened to honest communication between couples? A lot of “game” (for use in marriages, or in singles life, or otherwise) is based on the premise that it’s offering what women “really really want” (or at least won’t publicly admit to wanting). But whatever happened to bringing out problems and honestly talking them out, as well as making sure both are getting what they want, within the bounds of feasibility (not by the bounds of ignorance or lack of effort)? At least, if a potential significant other goes back on his/her word, you at least know the true strength (or lack thereof) of their character.

    And “trading up” has its own problems. Who’s to say the person you’re dumping won’t become even better without you?

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

      @5th Season

      And “trading up” has its own problems. Who’s to say the person you’re dumping won’t become even better without you?

      Ah, great point! How often have we taken someone for granted and moved on, only to find out that others were waiting in the wings to take our place? It happened to me in college, and set me on a course to win back a guy with hurt pride. That was actually not a good move – I was responding purely to preselection, and when I got him back and he was utterly devoted to me once again, his value plummeted.

      Those of us shallow enough to trade up should at least be willing to live with the consequences to our battered egos.

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    “Hookups are dishonest, harmful and naive. Some people can walk away from a sexual encounter without growing fond of the person in question, but this isn’t characteristic of erotic desire nor of human sexuality in general. Sex is an action of love, and to agree not to love while engaging in such a desirous act is jarring; it denies the reality of our bodies and the meanings of our actions. But it’s also unjust to hookup without such an agreement, to say “we may fall in love, we may not.” It’s easy to get attached, especially when you care for one another, and it is a cruel and insensitive thing to cultivate this attachment in someone else without reciprocating. And even when you both fall in love, you’ve done so without sufficient freedom: You engaged in practices which induce affection without evaluating whether that affection is conducive to your good. You may even end up married, but you also may both have been better off with someone else, with someone you evaluated as a potential spouse before sleeping with them.”

    Now that’s an interesting way of looking at it.

  • JuTR

    TRG sure seems familiarly abrasive

    “If anyone tried to pull that mess with me he’d get shot.” Nice.

    And the preference for younger men, with starry eyes for betas providing for alpha seeds.

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    From their website

    http://harvardcollegeanscombesociety.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/the-love-and-fidelity-network-opposes-harvards-bdsm-group/

    They say Harvard is funding a BDSM group. How does that work? Private or tax payers’ money?

  • http://en.gravatar.com/marellus Marellus

    Suzan

    Don’t grade friendships on a hierarchical scale.

    Don’t value people based on some external indicator of status.

    Don’t take a competitive view of your social life.

    So the subtext here, is that economics will always trump ethics.

    PICKERING. I think you ought to know, Doolittle, that Mr. Higgins’s intentions are entirely honorable.

    DOOLITTLE. Course they are, Governor. If I thought they wasn’t, I’d ask fifty.

    HIGGINS [revolted] Do you mean to say, you callous rascal, that you would sell your daughter for 50 pounds?

    DOOLITTLE. Not in a general way I wouldn’t; but to oblige a gentleman like you I’d do a good deal, I do assure you.

    PICKERING. Have you no morals, man?

    DOOLITTLE [unabashed] Can’t afford them, Governor. Neither could you if you was as poor as me. Not that I mean any harm, you know. But if Liza is going to have a bit out of this, why not me too?

    Pygmalion, Act II by George Bernard Shaw.

  • Erik L

    @The Rebound Girlfriend: Harvard is a private University with the worlds largest endowment funded mostly by alum donations. My guess is that the funding for such groups comes from student fees. In a way, all this money could be viewed as fungible so if you want to see the student fees as being paid somewhat by students who are on some government financial aid then you could squint real hard and consider some of it to be from taxpayers.

    But I think the real answer is that this is private money. Why do you ask?

  • Erik L

    @Susan, with respect to what she was disgusted by in “Blue Valentine”, I get the objection to the drunkeness. The rest of it though, it seems like he doesn’t get that she isn’t attracted to him anymore. I think, he thinks, that since they got married, and he hasn’t done anything wrong (in his mind) that she should continue to be attracted to him. Proceeding from that incorrect assumption is what leads to the appearance of “just wanting to get off”.
    The real question is what happened to the attraction? If we look at it from the alpha/beta model that most people on these pages seem to like, it sound like (to oversimplify) you say he declined in beta traits while Roissy/Heartiste (is that still the same guy?) in his review,claims it was loss of alpha traits.

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

      @Erik L

      The real question is what happened to the attraction? If we look at it from the alpha/beta model that most people on these pages seem to like, it sound like (to oversimplify) you say he declined in beta traits while Roissy/Heartiste (is that still the same guy?) in his review,claims it was loss of alpha traits.

      Hmmm, I haven’t read Roissy’s post so not sure what he thinks. Personally, I never saw his character as alpha. At all. So I’m not sure what alpha traits he might have lost. He was sweet and cute in the beginning.

      What he lacked, and lost altogether, was a sense of purpose, ambition, drive, industriousness, reliability. He did not provide for his family. He was not even a dependable babysitter, owing to his constant intoxication. He let himself go in every sense of the word, and he allowed, and expected, his wife to shoulder the responsibility. If provider traits are beta, then yes, he lost his beta traits.

  • Abbot

    Women who reject feminism are trading up. Let them.

    Oh, so now that they have bashed the system into total shit, they now want a say about that too. Fuck em. Too late. Too bad.

    “Feminists should be able to talk about these issues and they should not be confined to the pages of women’s magazines”

    Confinement is what you get.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/9779587/Feminism-partly-to-blame-for-family-breakdown-says-Diane-Abbott.html

    .

  • http://bastiatblogger.blogspot.com/ Bastiat Blogger

    Susan: yes, this is the kind of scene that may await those that find themselves single after approx. 35 (perhaps single because of serial “trading up” attempts). Everyone seems to be a tainted, cynical hustler, burdened with agendas, relationship scars, and expensive baggage. It is a minefield.

    I don’t mean to imply that all of the problems are on the female side—I’m sure the women would have their own complaints, too, and might even discuss commitment-phobic hedge fund types with Peter Pan Syndrome.

    Re: “Blue Valentine”. The sad thing about “Blue Valentine” is that Gosling’s irresponsible, alcoholic fuck up was, to me, the most sympathetic and noble character in the film.

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

      @BB

      The sad thing about “Blue Valentine” is that Gosling’s irresponsible, alcoholic fuck up was, to me, the most sympathetic and noble character in the film.

      Yes, that was the tragedy. He had the purest heart. His character haunted me for weeks. I think it’s the worst movie hangover I’ve ever had.

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

      @BB

      and might even discuss commitment-phobic hedge fund types with Peter Pan Syndrome.

      LOL. I have always found the ability to laugh at oneself the most important component of charm.

  • Abbot
  • http://en.gravatar.com/marellus Marellus

    @Abbot

    Great links. Thank you.

  • Escoffier

    ” worst movie hangover I’ve ever had”

    We recently watched Downfall, the movie with the scene with Hitler chewing the carpet that everyone on youtube parodies. There is a scene–the events really happened, mind you–in which Goebbels’ wife poisons all six of her children. The younger ones have no idea what is happening and gulp the stuff down compliantly but the oldest suspects something is not right and resists and has to be forced.

    So, one the one hand, it’s history and it already happened and what can you do? Plus, these are not merely Nazis but the Goebbels family and how can anyone feel any sympathy for them?

    OTOH, watching a mother deliberately poison six of her own children freaked us out to no small extent. My wife especially.

  • Escoffier

    IIRC, Roissy’s take on BV was the the male character did indeed show some alpha traits in the beginning, including negs and cocky-funny, that caused some genuine attraction but by their later lives the only tool in his arsenal was begging. “Just tell me how to make this work!!!” Etc.

  • J

    OTOH, watching a mother deliberately poison six of her own children freaked us out to no small extent.

    My understanding is that Frau Goebbels could not bear the idea of her children growing up in a world without Hitler, the murderer of so many other women’s children, so she mercy-killed her own. It’s a sick world we live in.

  • Escoffier

    At least she also had the decency to kill herself!

  • J

    Couldn’t face a Hitlerless world herself.

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    “IIRC, Roissy’s take on BV was the the male character did indeed show some alpha traits in the beginning, including negs and cocky-funny, that caused some genuine attraction but by their later lives the only tool in his arsenal was begging. “Just tell me how to make this work!!!”

    Genuine attraction is when you’re attracted to how someone really is, not to how they are pretending to be.

  • Escoffier

    “Genuine attraction is when you’re attracted to how someone really is, not to how they are pretending to be.”

    Maybe, but non-genuine attraction–whatever that may be–can still get people together and, more to the point, get men laid.

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    “Why do you ask?”

    Because my money is already funding a host of things I am vehemently opposed to, such as the war on terror, the war on drugs, the prison industrial complex, etc. I don’t want it going towards even more bullshit. That’s why.

  • The Rebound Girlfriend

    “Maybe, but non-genuine attraction–whatever that may be–can still get people together and, more to the point, get men laid.”

    So what? This movie was about a married couple and a child. There’s a lot more at stake when a child’s well-being comes in the picture. Getting laid be damned.

  • Escoffier

    you are determined to miss the point