The Introspective Man

July 8, 2013

Think about it, bro.

Posted on July 2, 2013 by Jessica Hagy
 
introspection

Definition of INTROSPECTION

: a reflective looking inward : an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings

 

Synonyms: 

  • self-contemplation
  • self-examination
  • self-observation
  • self-questioning
  • self-reflection
  • self-scrutiny
  • self-searching
  • soul-searching

The ancient Greeks understood the value of introspection, as evidenced in the aphorism “Know thyself.” According to Plato, Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Of course, one can take navel gazing too far. Introspection can easily become self-condemnation at one extreme, stifling growth. It can lead to self-pity and a victim mentality.

At the other extreme, it can lead to total self-absorption, which brings us right back to douchebaggery in a boomerang effect.

Still, self-examination and self-awareness are key ingredients of good character. When dating and seeking a relationship  partner, ask yourself this question:

Does he actively seek ways to be a better man by examining his thoughts, feelings and behavior?

Filed in: Uncategorized
  • Richard Aubrey

    Does he actively seek ways to be a better man by examining his thoughts, feelings and behavior?

    How would you know? Among other things, allowing doubt about oneself to show is not an attractor. So, if that is true, any self-improvement via introspection is best kept under wraps. All you see is the manifested improvement with no idea where it originated.

    • How would you know? Among other things, allowing doubt about oneself to show is not an attractor.

      I don’t think that self-awareness is the same as self-doubt. One can take on new projects, learn new skills, get involved in the community, or any number of things without being plagued by self-doubt.

      However, you make a good point. Douchebaggery is an attractor for some women. Narcissists do better getting phone numbers from strangers than non-narcissists do. Of course, they’re strictly STR material, which is the point of the post.

      Zero self-doubt = zero relationship potential.

  • RA…maybe by discussing his *prior* behavior, ie from several years ago, in current perspective?

  • Abbot

    “Does he actively seek ways to be a better man by examining his thoughts, feelings and behavior?”

    “Certain” women will never know since “better man” initiatives typically include weeding out those soaked in wanton promiscuous behavior.

    .

  • Richard Aubrey

    Susan.

    Synonyms:

    ■self-contemplation
    ■self-examination
    ■self-observation
    ■self-questioning
    ■self-reflection
    ■self-scrutiny
    ■self-searching
    ■soul-searching

    Taking on projects or acquiring new skills are not included.
    The article is about filtering for guys who are doing the internal assessments with an eye to self-improvement.
    From the outside, one might see improvement. But the question is about whether the guy is doing the internal assessing. How would you know?
    Maybe he’s always been like that–good–but the issue hasn’t previously arisen. Maybe he’s always had the capacity but never needed it until now. Maybe he lay awake trying to figure some way of being a better person and it showed. Difference in origin isn’t apparent.
    Unless he wants to talk about it.

    A guy listens better. Is it more wonderful if he tells you he thought about listening better and did, or is that meaningless, or is it a negative? Suppose he listens better. Anything else matter?

    You can’t improve without acknowledging shortcomings to yourself. Not sure how that goes with confidence, if you have to make sure the woman knows about your struggle. Sounds like it wouldn’t take much to get to advertising emo. Ick.

    • Taking on projects or acquiring new skills are not included.
      The article is about filtering for guys who are doing the internal assessments with an eye to self-improvement.
      From the outside, one might see improvement. But the question is about whether the guy is doing the internal assessing. How would you know?

      Yes, self-improvement is the desired outcome of introspection.

      If a man is improving himself, by expanding his mind or his character, focusing on his fitness or his work or any long-term goal, I think we can assume he is an introspective sort. People who are not introspective are stagnant, and that is easy to spot in anyone.

      People who behave in a cocky or selfish manner signal self-satisfaction, and that is never attractive for a relationship.

      Sounds like it wouldn’t take much to get to advertising emo. Ick.

      No, introspection should be private. The man who strives to better himself behaves differently than the man who is delighted with himself as is, and IMO the level of introspection is easily inferred. For example, I could list all of my friends and acquaintances and easily place each one in a category of “introspective” vs. “not introspective.”

  • I was talking with a woman I’d worked with some time in the past, discussing a third party that she was going to be doing a project with.

    ME: Yeah, he’s real bright and focused. Got promoted pretty fast, and a bit of a spoiled brat, though.

    SHE: I can related to that. I used to be a bit of a spoiled brat myself.

    ME: Glad you realize it. (both laugh)

    I think that’s an example of showing introspection without undercutting the projection of self-confidence (of which she had plenty)

  • Richard Aubrey

    I think the only fault one can profitably acknowledge is an excess of humility.

    So the question is now at what point in a relationship–or an acquaintance–can a woman see a change in a man which would allow the inference of introspection? Until you know a lot about a guy, you won’t know what is an improvement and what he’s been like for years. Both are good, presuming they’re good, but how will you know the origin? And which would be better?

    • can a woman see a change in a man which would allow the inference of introspection?

      For me, it’s not the actual progress that informs, but the striving to something better.

  • BuenaVista

    Quiet, by Susan Cain (a study of tension between a society that pathologizes introversion, and overly celebrates extroversion), changed the way I live, manage and parent. It’s also changed the way I negotiate, and I believe this applies to relationships.

    Socially, and professionally, I’ve found it useful to have a set of skills that I term “faux-extroversion”; it’s much easier to initiate a personal dialogue if one does more than hang back, observe and have interior dialogues. It’s much easier to get customers, and it’s much easier to, in the main, to manage staff. (Though I note that my backtest reveals that my most successful staff relationships are with natural introverts with critical thinking skills who have learned to communicate well.)

    But natural introversion carries a necessary piece of self-knowledge: social interactions can be exhausting. We’re really like cars without an alternator: the batteries run down after too much hobnobbing, just as a car without an alternator shortly depletes battery voltage to a dysfunctional state.

    I question the “introversion-douchebag” dichotomy, though PUAs conflate being an alpha man-dog with extroversion. As Vox notes, they *may* be attention whores (bad for a relationship) but they need not be. I know a lot of good people who are energized by social interaction rather than depleted. The best personal relationship in my life was with a natural extrovert, and while our differences occasionally created tension (the venn diagram of our preferred social life required the two of us to compromise and negotiate who was in our overlap), in the main I found it to be a superb mating of opposite qualities. Of course, she was, at her core, a profoundly kind extrovert (again, I’m challenging the notion that extroversion = douche), just as I attempted to be a kind and curious introvert.

    The most charismatic and attractive extrovert I ever met was a man who was a natural introvert (he was an artist and musician who pursued a life in business). He never reconciled the tension between the two roles and drank himself to death at 54. Drinking became his quiet place — not a good thing. (“Alcohol is the poor man’s symphony” — William James.)

    • Of course, she was, at her core, a profoundly kind extrovert (again, I’m challenging the notion that extroversion = douche), just as I attempted to be a kind and curious introvert.

      I’m highly extraverted and I hope I’m not a douche. (I acknowledge that I can get a little bitchy sometimes, but this is temporary.)

      I often find myself in the position of pointing out the negatives associated with extraversion, as it correlates with promiscuity and a variety of other undesirable behaviors. The most charming sociopaths are undoubtedly highly extraverted. Some qualities that I prize in individuals are more likely to be found among introverts, I believe.

      For example, I have always found earnestness extremely attractive in males. As in, it’s an attraction trigger for me. I knew I was in love with my husband when he said something extremely earnest at our grad school lunch table (long before we dated). Perhaps I am unusual in finding earnestness a component of charm, while finding arrogance or conceit decidedly lacking in charm.

  • BuenaVista

    This week on Susan Cain’s web site a Wharton prof is celebrated:

    “It turns out that superstar organizational psychologist Adam Grant, youngest tenured professor at Wharton, and author of the New York Times bestseller “Give and Take“, has been researching this question for years, and has a groundbreaking new prescription for how to relate: the power of powerless communication. (Here is Adam’s fascinating TEDx talk on this very subject).

    “Grant says that people who pose questions instead of answers, admit their shortcomings, and use tentative instead of assertive speech are some of the world’s most powerful communicators. People who use “powerless” communication styles fall into two categories – some are doormats. But just as many are superstars.

    “It boils down to this insight: When people think you’re trying to influence them, they put their guard up. But when they feel you’re trying to help them, or to muse your way to the right answer, or to be honest about your own imperfections, they open up to you. They hear what you have to say.”

    http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/

    I think that there’s a lot of crossover between the aspects of personality necessary to think and lead, and think and love.

    • @BV

      I am fascinated by the work of Adam Grant. He found that “givers” – people who are generous with no expectation of reciprocity –
      are found among both the least and most successful in business.

      Higher rates of giving were predictive of higher unit profitability, productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction, along with lower costs and turnover rates. When employees act like givers, they facilitate efficient problem solving and coordination and build cohesive, supportive cultures that appeal to customers, suppliers, and top talent alike.

      http://hbr.org/2013/04/in-the-company-of-givers-and-takers/

      Interestingly, (from my POV), traditional business has rewarded the takers – the agentic, driven, “take no prisoners” aggressor. Grant explains why the dynamic is changing:

      There are at least three major trends behind the rise in interdependence.

      First is the growth of project-based work: organizations are bringing people together to collaborate on temporary teams, making interaction skills particularly important in shaping the results these short-term groups achieve.

      Second is the shift from a manufacturing economy to a service and knowledge economy: four out of every five Americans work in service roles, where meeting the needs of clients and customers is a defining feature of success.

      Third is the advent of online social networks: we can now track the reputations of job applicants, potential business partners, and service providers by identifying common connections on LinkedIn and tracking their behavior on social media.The challenge for management is to remove incentives for taking, which are common in most organizations.

      One must give strategically to be effective (and presumably more successful):

      To assume the role of a giver, the first step is to gain a deeper understanding of what other people need. From there, the key is to figure out how our expertise, resources, and connections might best fulfill their needs. Then, if they offer to pay it back, ask them to pay it forward instead. Fascinating studies led by Robb Willer and Mark Weber reveal that when a whole group or network operates according to giving norms, the pie is often expanded for all involved.

  • Douchbags – low to moderate IQ extroverts.

    Introspective – high-IQ introverts.

  • I wonder if a practical exercise in the introspection/self-development cycle would be to discuss a person’s CV and to see if the achievements were balanced over an extended period of past-present-future goals.

    Would someone who relied heavily on a concentrated burst of accomplishments from many years ago (generally speaking) be less self-development-introspective and more vulnerable to self-satisfied complacency than would someone who demonstrated that he was continually seeking new capabilities and challenges…?

    • @BB

      Would someone who relied heavily on a concentrated burst of accomplishments from many years ago (generally speaking) be less self-development-introspective and more vulnerable to self-satisfied complacency than would someone who demonstrated that he was continually seeking new capabilities and challenges…?

      An interesting question – don’t you think that certain types of people act more or less in a stable fashion over time? Perhaps it has to do with the nature of the accomplishments, e.g. turned 25 and got trust fund vs. turned 25 and founded new company. (I suspect this will bring out the entrepreneur haters again, oh well.)

  • BuenaVista

    BB: “Would someone who relied heavily on a concentrated burst of accomplishments from many years ago (generally speaking) be less self-development-introspective and more vulnerable to self-satisfied complacency than would someone who demonstrated that he was continually seeking new capabilities and challenges…?”

    Cain asserts this in a couple of ways, one hilarious. She (a Harvard Law grad, and proud of it) ridicules the culture of talking without fear or even earned understanding that is defined at Harvard Business School as a necessary component of leadership. I have worked with these people for 20+ years (on the opposite side of the table and briefly during at project at Bain). They are to thoughtful leadership as Powerpoint is to thought. But they tend to be oblivious as to the difference between talking about something, and making something work.

    Notably, and more seriously, they trade on the value of that one school acceptance letter for decades that follow. (As did two Rhodes Scholars I have employed.) (Footnote: the most remarkable business person I know was a Rhodes finalist, and the act of losing in the final round seems to have had the opposite effect on his motivation and performance.) The patina and sustaining network of an acceptance letter, received at age 25, adds significant professional value, independent of actual achievement or personal development.

    Eventually the party ends, however. Ex- #2 has been thrown out of every job she’s ever had (though McKinsey was nicer about it as they are strategic in building their network even with the associates who are passed over, because they know those people will hire McKinsey when they go over to the operating side). It didn’t matter until recently, however. I would say the equivalent of a professional Wall (equivalent to an SMV wall) rears its head at about 40. So her Baker Scholar award at 25 sustained her from one job to the next as she failed upward — and she failed upward extremely well; her apex was as CMO at a top 5 Wall Street bank, where she again face planted. But they threw her out too. She’s been on the beach for 15 months. It seems that in work, as in love, it’s best to actually accomplish something in life by age 40, or watch the train leave the station.

  • Alas, I know the Rhodey world quite well. The RS is basically told that he has it made for life when he is awarded the scholarship, and thus the rest of life can reveal the “Matthew Effect”/accumulation of advantage.

    The RS opens the first door to prestigious job #1, prestigious job #1 opens the door to elite White House fellowship #2, elite White House fellowship #2 opens the door to prestigious job #3, and so forth.

    I like it when someone says “fuck it” and jumps tracks to a totally different environment, one in which he or she has to start from scratch again and the previous accomplishment means little or nothing.

  • BuenaVista

    “Alas, I know the Rhodey world quite well…. like it when someone says “fuck it” and jumps tracks to a totally different environment, one in which he or she has to start from scratch again and the previous accomplishment means little or nothing.”

    Yeah, I assumed that from your circumspect bio on your web site. I hope I wasn’t rude. Both guys I hired have bounced from job to job without effect; I too was then affected by their RS halo. I no longer trust anyone who announces his halo before his body of work. This seems to be what truly successful people do.

    Karl Marlantes is a great example of a guy who bounced completely out of the RS normal orbit, then attempted to re-enter post-tour. Now I’m not sure if he knows if he belongs in either. He’s struggled a bit.

    But in the end, I think he will be remembered for writing the best novel in English on war, or at least the best since Stephen Crane, and winning every commendation up to and including the Silver Star. The Rhodes will be an interesting anecdote. So again, it will be Marlantes’ body of work, moreso than his acceptance letters from Duke and the Rhodes Committee.

    I failed in my final interview, rather spectacularly I should add. I still remember the sensation of my head spinning erratically while seated in a room alone with five prior winners; I cringe to this day. I was so not ready for prime time. Oh well.

  • JP

    “She’s been on the beach for 15 months. It seems that in work, as in love, it’s best to actually accomplish something in life by age 40, or watch the train leave the station.”

    This is how the legal profession works.

    The problem is that you now have 40 years of life left and nothing meaningful to do.

    Game over.

  • Jonny

    “People who behave in a cocky or selfish manner signal self-satisfaction, and that is never attractive for a relationship.”

    I don’t know about that. The cocky people I knew always seems to have the hottest chicks. Once you get them, the women can have their imaginary relationships, just saying.

    • The cocky people I knew always seems to have the hottest chicks.

      Yes, those are STRs. I’m focusing on LTRs here.

  • Jayn Rand

    “The problem is that you now have 40 years of life left and nothing meaningful to do.”

    Ahhhh….. is that why Americans are so youth obsessed?

  • JP

    ““The problem is that you now have 40 years of life left and nothing meaningful to do.”

    Ahhhh….. is that why Americans are so youth obsessed?”

    Partially.

    See, once you hit 35-40, you have to have set up the next step or it’s onto the industrial scrapheap with you.

    Old people are icky and smell funny.

    The poor woman in BV’s example is now at the end of the line and must now face the consequences of her failure.

  • Jayn Rand

    Well JP, I came under a lot of heat before for saying that middle age is the time to prepare for old age and death. Since there is no culture of self-realization here, they took it to mean I wanted 45 year olds to throw in the towel and sit around all day writing out wills and picking grave stone markers.

    Middle age is a time to rejoice in the waning of sex hormones and cultivate an inner life of the mind and perform the function of “wise elder” to the younger set.

    Instead here you’ve got 50 year old dudes creepin’ ’round, tryna’ date and get laid with Viagra, and basically tryna’ act like 22 year olds.

    Yes I used the c-word because that is what 50 year olds who do the above are – CREEPS!

    Its so undignified, age inappropriate and unattractive.

    Take your rightful position as “uncle” and be at peace with yourselves.

  • JP

    “Middle age is a time to rejoice in the waning of sex hormones and cultivate an inner life of the mind and perform the function of “wise elder” to the younger set.”

    My entire youth was spent trying to cultivate an inner life of the mind.

    I’m kind of tired of it.

  • JP

    “Instead here you’ve got 50 year old dudes creepin’ ’round, tryna’ date and get laid with Viagra, and basically tryna’ act like 22 year olds.

    Yes I used the c-word because that is what 50 year olds who do the above are – CREEPS!”

    I skipped this part of life and went straight to middle age.

  • JP

    “Take your rightful position as “uncle” and be at peace with yourselves.”

    Many men are parents of 10 year olds at this point.

    Some are parents of 5 year olds.

  • Jayn Rand

    “Many men are parents of 10 year olds at this point.

    Some are parents of 5 year olds.”

    Its not right or natural.

    20s and 30s are for having kids. 50s are for having grandkids.

    Y’all do things backwards here.

  • Abbot

    “Its so undignified, age inappropriate and unattractive.”

    ONLY because women of that age can’t pull it off. Therefore, those spitting-mad ineffective insults are irrelevant and dismissed.

  • JP

    “Its not right or natural.

    20s and 30s are for having kids. 50s are for having grandkids.”

    You need to dedicate your 20’s to career development.

    For instance, a doctor might just be starting out in private practice on his own at 30, after a long hard decade of career advancement.

    Maybe he’s ready to get married at 35 or 40.

    Plus, if you are in you mid-20’s, you still have that $100,000 in debt to get rid of. Need to build your career first!

  • Abbot

    “Some are parents of 5 year olds.”

    Many are just getting started with their loverly fertile nubile worthy wives.

  • Jayn Rand

    “Its so undignified, age inappropriate and unattractive.”

    “ONLY because women of that age can’t pull it off.”

    No, that’s not the only reason. The core reason is that the culture is off, does things backwards and in reverse, and has no higher basis other than satisfaction of the base, animalistic needs. Because your culture pedastalizes the animal life, even when your hormones subside, because you have no inner life, higher purpose or high culture, you don’t know what to do with yourselves other than try to recreate the sex hormones of youth. That’s where Viagra comes in.

    There’s a whole lot of people around the world who see or hear about this “culture” and smack their heads in puzzlement.

    I’m doing more than smacking my or your head, I’m trying to impart wisdom to help you people find contentment and be at peace with a natural trajectory of human experience.

  • Jayn Rand

    “For instance, a doctor might just be starting out in private practice on his own at 30, after a long hard decade of career advancement.”

    Nonsense. All the doctors in my family, male and female, married and had kids in their 20s.

    Why can’t you people advance your careers and marry and have kids simultaneously like MOST of the worlds people do.

  • JP

    @PJ:

    The point is that the 40+ person is hard pressed to find enough money in employment to live off of if they haven’t gained enough career capital.

    They could probably be “uncle” or “aunt” but their careers have obviously failed, so they’re going to be looked down upon. Who would want to take their advice?

    Also, what are you supposed to do from 60 to 100 in your framework, when you have no money, and no way to get any money?

  • JP

    @PJ:

    “Nonsense. All the doctors in my family, male and female, married and had kids in their 20s.

    Why can’t you people advance your careers and marry and have kids simultaneously like MOST of the worlds people do.”

    Well, they’re not making any money in residency and generally have $200,000 in school debt.

    They want to be financially stable first.

  • Abbot

    “There’s a whole lot of people around the world who see or hear about this “culture” and smack their heads in puzzlement.”

    What they hear about are the “I fuck hear me roar” women and the men who are stuck with the crappy pickins.

    http://videos.huffingtonpost.com/feminism-and-desire-the-i-fuck-hear-me-roar-debate-517834212

    .

  • Abbot

    “Why can’t you people advance your careers and marry and have kids simultaneously like MOST of the worlds people do.”

    Most of the world is happily feminism-free.

  • JP

    @PJ:

    Plus, by about 35 to 45 some men are just now figuring out how to date women now that they actually have income and stability.

    So, they might not have had a chance when they were younger.

  • Abbot

    “some men are just now figuring out how to date women”

    If it needs to be figured out then its just not worth it

  • PJ, how did you end up in the U.S.? Do you find yourself often yearning to return to India? Do you want to marry an Indian gent?

    BV: I am embarrassed to admit that I have not read “Matterhorn” yet (!).

  • Jayn Rand

    “They want to be financially stable first.”

    If someone is working full time, particularly a doctor, they already ARE financially stable. If both parents are working, and both are doctors, then they are more than stable.

    You people use any excuse you can. It would be more honest and noble to just say, “we enjoy the single life until such and such an age”.

    BB,
    “PJ, how did you end up in the U.S.? Do you find yourself often yearning to return to India? Do you want to marry an Indian gent?”

    I return to South Asia (not just India, I have family all over that place) regularly. I actually don’t stay stateside most of the time as my work takes me all around the world.

    I already did marry an Indian gent. We are divorced. Not because of what Abbot will assume. We are best friends and plan on living together in old age. We divorced because of his mom. If anyone here knows about South Asian mothers-in-law, I don’t have to say more.

  • PJ: forgive my barrage of questions, but what is the deal with South Asian mothers-in-law…? Do you want to marry again, or does the plan to eventually live with your ex make that option inappropriate? Do you find that your disgust with American culture has strengthened your attraction to South Asian men?

  • BuenaVista

    On Matterhorn:

    I’m a civilian, obviously, but have read widely and professionally in the literature of war and do some brainwork on the ‘contractor’ side of the IC, (which, as we’ve noticed lately, *is* the IC) so I have a social and professional set that includes an unusual martial cohort. Everyone to whom I’ve recommended it has been speechless. It’s one of those books that can only speak for itself.

    More interestingly, in April I had dinner (Red Rooster, amazing supper club in Harlem) with two women friends who were setting up the first Aspen Writers confab, and the theme this year was the literature of war. (My editor trusts my eye but like most NYC intellectuals had never heard of Matterhorn, mostly because the subject matter is verboten.) So Matterhorn was my book recommendation for the evening, and Marlantes for their conference. Within a week they had read the book and invited Marlantes — and he spoke last month. When my dad (WWII Navy) was visiting he read it in two 12-hour stints. It takes longer to read than one might think because you have to stand up and walk around from time to time.

    Like Hopper’s paintings, this novel is sui generis.

    Amusing note on Matterhorn: So Marlantes has been writing the book for 30 years. He finally resolves that it is finished. He sends it to NY for conventional publishing. An editor lady tells him, “Like, it’s really good, shows a lot of promise, but can you change it to Afghanistan and give the hero a love interest?” He instead published it with a small academic house on the west coast, and sold about 5000 copies. Because of that it got picked up (absent the “change it to Afghanistan” thing) and published by a major house.

    It really is the best novel of war, in English, I’ve ever read. Well, Beowulf is better, but my Old English has atrophied and I can’t read it properly anymore. Crane is more concise but then he wasn’t a company commander, either. For Whom the Bell Tolls is positively silly by comparison. The guy who taught me to fly was at Pleiku and he just said, “I couldn’t finish it.”

  • Susan, I remember hearing a woman say that she liked men who routinely took on new projects and challenges, because that allowed for a mate to come in at the ground-floor of a new endeavor and to get involved, thus forming a partnership that faced the “world” together.

    Someone who did not consider himself a work-in-progress was less attractive to her (ceteris paribus) because said person was A) typically less enthusiastic and youthful in outlook, and B) might not offer have this kind of lifestyle access point or opening that another person could hook to in order to form a team.

    What do you think? It definitely resonated for me.

    • @BB

      I think that’s a great point about partnership. In my experience, it’s important (and enjoyable) when couples share interests – too much independence is not good for the relationship (though some is).

      Another thing that occurs to me is that a person can teach their partner – for example, Mr. HUS was a real fan of Hitchcock films when we met, and I’d just seen The Birds and Rear Window. Together we saw most of the others in art houses in NY, which was great fun. I guess I was the project in that case, but that dynamic can work well too.

  • BV: your erudition is extraordinary. Downloading the book as we speak

  • BuenaVista

    SW:

    I don’t see a difference between “higher rates of giving” in personal and professional life. So although I haven’t read Grant, only his summaries, I concur with that and think that it makes sense in all aspects — if one is solving for the long-haul. I am the polar opposite of my business partner (he’s a refugee mathematician, short, unathletic, bald and Jewish) — and we are shortly to become a longer term couple than, well, any other couple I’ve been a party to. But “higher rates of giving” certainly describes how we relate personally and to our staff.

    In respect of your second extract, the one that is compelling to me is #1. All of work is project-related now, if one is doing rarified cognitive elite stuff. The assets walk out the front door every day and they don’t have to come back. Any asshole who acts like Jack Welch (let’s not discuss Suzie, please) or Henry Ford will shortly find himself missing the entire R&D group. That’s okay if you want to manufacture incandescent bulbs or half-tons for a living.

    I do believe that original work effort in industrial spaces requires a talent management outlook more akin to Hollywood or the theatre than what works at Lockheed (not Kelly Johnson’s little corner of Lockheed) or the Pentagon. Harvey Weinstein may be an asshole (he is), but he is old testament ruthless in his ferocity to protect the talent he has decided he cannot do without (Tarantino, Blanchett) (my information is a few years old).

    #2 I reject because companies for all time have sucked up to customers. Today the customers don’t believe the account managers, and care only for the quality of the product. Customer service can be summarized as “does the shit work? Hell yes. It works every time.”

    #3 I reject because, well, I have no interest in hiring anyone who strut on Facebook. Maybe it’s different with women execs. But I’ve never met a smart person who takes pictures of himself or herself getting fucked up at a party.

    Thanks for reading my long postings. I think this introversion/extroversion dynamic reveals much.

    P.S. So, you’re an extrovert, eh? Isn’t it painful hammering away at a blog, domain of introverts (and freaks)? And my bet is that your husband is a natural introvert who learned to negotiate some vein of the cognitive elite, more hospitable to natural extroverts. If I am correct: Irony much?

    I (son of poet and editor, total introvert except between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.) loved being married to a kind extrovert. And thus I tie this indulgent rambling back to the theme of the day. Or so I think.

    • @BV

      #2 I reject because companies for all time have sucked up to customers. Today the customers don’t believe the account managers, and care only for the quality of the product. Customer service can be summarized as “does the shit work? Hell yes. It works every time.”

      Well I think there’s been a huge move away from manufacturing widgets and towards servicing the customer directly. I’d wager that a much higher percentage of employees today have some direct responsibility to answer to the customer. In fact, the number of employees at customer service call centers alone must be staggering, outsourcing and rude operators notwithstanding.

      I recently had a rather extraordinary customer service experience – it was too intense, I felt hounded. I called Fujitsu with a scanner problem, and after taking their advice to clean it with 90% alcohol (which worked), I had no need of more contact. They called me three more times to see if my problem had been resolved to my satisfaction. Then I got a survey asking for feedback, so I reported that it was a bit much, and that I had spent several extra minutes on those calls, a waste of my time. The next thing I knew the boss of the service rep called me to assure me that she is an excellent rep, and that they were very sorry to have troubled me. I confirmed that all is well with the scanner. All together, it was five phone calls and an email survey for a small bit of troubleshooting!

      P.S. So, you’re an extrovert, eh? Isn’t it painful hammering away at a blog, domain of introverts (and freaks)? And my bet is that your husband is a natural introvert who learned to negotiate some vein of the cognitive elite, more hospitable to natural extroverts. If I am correct: Irony much?

      You are correct about Mr. HUS – a natural introvert who has done just that. Interestingly, as he nears 60, he finds that the relationship management part of his job is his favorite.

      I like the dynamic here, I don’t find it painful. I suppose it helps that as the host, I am extraverted. I can chat almost anybody up, online or off, and I enjoy it. It’s true that quite a few wackos find HUS from time to time, but we do our best to filter for them.

  • BuenaVista

    Whoops, I have read Grant. Just a different one, whose first name was “Ulysses”. Highly recommended as well. Many people still think it was written by his publisher, Twain.

  • JP

    “Whoops, I have read Grant. Just a different one, whose first name was “Ulysses”. Highly recommended as well. Many people still think it was written by his publisher, Twain.”

    His name was Hiram.

  • BuenaVista

    Oh, for goodness sakes. He was accepted at West Point, commissioned and elected as U.S. Grant.

  • Jimmy Hendricks

    I often find myself in the position of pointing out the negatives associated with extraversion, as it correlates with promiscuity and a variety of other undesirable behaviors. The most charming sociopaths are undoubtedly highly extraverted. Some qualities that I prize in individuals are more likely to be found among introverts, I believe.

    I don’t think extroversion/introversion necessarily correlates with level of introspection. I’ve known plenty of introspective extroverts, and plenty of lazy, complacent introverts. My experience tells me there’s more variability within the groups than between them.

    I think with extroverts, it’s just easier to notice their faults since they’re broadcast louder and to a larger audience.

    • I think with extroverts, it’s just easier to notice their faults since they’re broadcast louder and to a larger audience.

      That explains all my haters. 🙂

  • Tilikum

    so, a few thoughts.

    extroverts (80%) of the population cant be introspective. they don’t experience the world that way, they function at the surface and wholly on experiential input, they literally can’t. thankfully they wouldn’t be on a site like this or the manosphere because they cant understand that there is something more than beer and fucking or beer and complaining. oh, and video games.

    it feels like this is a shot at damage control and is being conducted as another attempt (and a necessary one) and calibrating a woman filter for ltr minded men.

    the reality that is being hidden though is that one you enact all the filters, less than maybe 5% of men have any value. yes ladies, 95% of you will settle.

    the SMP is a harsh place.

    • @Tilikum

      extroverts (80%) of the population cant be introspective. they don’t experience the world that way, they function at the surface and wholly on experiential input, they literally can’t. thankfully they wouldn’t be on a site like this or the manosphere because they cant understand that there is something more than beer and fucking or beer and complaining. oh, and video games.

      As an introspective extrovert, I beg to differ. That’s not the distribution in any case. It’s around half.

      http://www.capt.org/mbti-assessment/estimated-frequencies.htm

      Some more interesting research from Adam Grant, who explored whether extroverts are better at sales:

      The answer, in new research from Adam Grant, the youngest tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Management, is far more intriguing. In a study that will be published later this year in the journal Psychological Science, Grant collected data from sales representatives at a software company. He began by giving reps an often-used personality assessment that measures introversion and extroversion on a 1-to-7 scale, with 1 being most introverted and 7 being most extroverted.

      Then he tracked their performance over the next three months. The introverts fared worst; they earned average revenue of $120 per hour. The extroverts performed slightly better, pulling in $125 per hour. But neither did nearly as well as a third group: the ambiverts.

      Ambiverts, a term coined by social scientists in the 1920s, are people who are neither extremely introverted nor extremely extroverted. Think back to that 1-to-7 scale that Grant used. Ambiverts aren’t 1s or 2s, but they’re not 6s or 7s either. They’re 3s, 4s and 5s. They’re not quiet, but they’re not loud. They know how to assert themselves, but they’re not pushy.

      In Grant’s study, ambiverts earned average hourly revenues of $155, beating extroverts by a healthy 24 percent. In fact, the salespeople who did the best of all, earning an average of $208 per hour, had scores of 4.0, smack in the middle of the introversion-extroversion scale.

      What’s more, when Grant plotted total sales revenue against the scale, he found that revenue peaked in the center and fell off considerably as personality moved toward either the introverted or extroverted poles. Those high in extroversion fared scarcely better than those high in introversion, and both lagged far behind their counterparts in the moderate middle.

      The distribution of introverts and extroverts in the population looks eerily like the results Grant found plotting revenue across his 1-to-7 scale. Some of us are heavy introverts. Some of us are stalwart extroverts. But the vast majority of us are ambiverts.

      As so often happens in our discussions, the binary model is insufficient.

      it feels like this is a shot at damage control and is being conducted as another attempt (and a necessary one) and calibrating a woman filter for ltr minded men.

      That’s interesting phrasing. So many in the sphere focus on damage control, or alternatively, vengeance. I actually don’t concern myself with either. I’m simply answering the question “What makes a good mate?” I’m attempting to give young women some metrics for an environment where the sex ratio is unfavorable to women.

      the reality that is being hidden though is that one you enact all the filters, less than maybe 5% of men have any value.

      This is a misandrist comment, and I disagree with it.

  • JP

    Because he was too shy (or something) to have them change his name when it got listed wrong.

    It was a bureaucratic error that he failed to correct.

    And don’t get me started on his adventures on Wall Street.

  • BuenaVista

    SW: On projects: “I think that’s a great point about partnership. In my experience, it’s important (and enjoyable) when couples share interests …”

    When I was married — whoops, yes, I’m not — my wife and I used to say, “Build a house, get a divorce.” Later we amended it to, “Build an addition, get a divorce.” (Later I amended it again: Start a company, get a divorce.”)

    The point was that people with nothing going on in the emotional/romantic department would seize on a “project”: A project to divert them from the existential nightmare that was their proximity. They’d build the house and then be staring at each other in confusion. They’d spend $500/s.f. on the new kitchen — and still not know how to cook or why they should cook (cuz then they’d have to eat dinner together). Ergo: They still didn’t know how to live together, even under better material circumstances.

    So I just want to be with a girl I can talk to and laugh with in the TSA checkpoint at 5:30 a.m. after a 2.5 hour drive, while some flunky asshole puts his hands in my crotch.

    • @BV

      Sadly, many couples have a kid in hopes of saving the marriage.

  • JP

    @Tilikum:

    “extroverts (80%) of the population cant be introspective. they don’t experience the world that way, they function at the surface and wholly on experiential input, they literally can’t.”

    No, that’s “Sensing” vs. “iNtuition”.

    Try again.

    And I just want to point out that this stupid Myers-Briggs thing is not exactly persistent across lifetimes.

    Hello!

  • J

    Well, they’re not making any money in residency and generally have $200,000 in school debt. They want to be financially stable first.

    People used to have more tolerance for financial insecurity. My doctor cousin, now in his sixties, fathered all his kids during his residency. Many of his peers did as well. Yeah, there ws some struggle involved but they knew they’d be fine eventually. I don’t think they had a lot of school debt though. School used to be cheaper.

  • Hope

    JP, Myers Briggs is not stupid. It is actually very deep and interesting. It’s also kind of reads like a song or chemistry chart.

    http://personalityjunkie.com/functions-ni-ti-fi-si-ne-te-fe-se/

    I am Ni, Fe, Ti, and Se.

  • JP

    The question is whether it is actual personality that is persistent across time.

    It seems that people move from from one MTBI sector to another across their lifetime.

    I think that the Big 5 is the current go-to model for personality.

    “Stupid” is a technical term that means it doesn’t do quite what it claims to do, meaning that it’s not a good measure for specific human personality that endures across the lifetime.

  • Not to liken marriage to an overseas deployment with a small team, but some of the psychological factors that come up are probably similar. Here is a (fairly long, but well worth your time IMHO) look at how an Australian elite force looks to break through the superficial and expose the long-term character traits in potential members:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY08ZXSO1CI

    The confidence that is appreciated is not the loud bravado of the faux-alpha, backslapping party reptile, but a quiet self-possession and disciplined mind.

    • The confidence that is appreciated is not the loud bravado of the faux-alpha, backslapping party reptile, but a quiet self-possession and disciplined mind.

      Both qualities that can only result from introspection!

  • Hope

    I haven’t seen any rigorous study that claims people’s “big five” personality traits stay constant through life. If you have such references I’d love to see it.

    Susan, interesting about the ambivert vs. strong I/E with respect to sales. Have they reproduced this result in non-software fields? It is possible that selling software is somewhat different from other sales.

  • Hope

    Wikipedia quote:

    “recent research and meta-analyses of previous studies, however, indicate that change occurs in all five traits at various points in the lifespan. The new research shows evidence for a maturation effect. On average, levels of Agreeableness and Conscientiousness typically increase with time, whereas Extraversion, Neuroticism, and Openness tend to decrease.[64] Research has also demonstrated that changes in Big Five personality traits depend on the individual’s current stage of development. For example, levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness demonstrate a negative trend during childhood and early adolescence before trending upwards during late adolescence and into adulthood.[65] In addition to these group effects, there are individual differences: different people demonstrate unique patterns of change at all stages of life.[66]”

  • JP

    So, neither Myers-Briggs nor the Big 5 thingy work.

    And in addition, different people have entirely different developmental arcs.

  • BuenaVista

    “Sadly, many couples have a kid in hopes of saving the marriage.”

    Or, in situations where the man has certain beliefs, to force the occurrence of a marriage. Works pretty well.

    • @BV

      Or, in situations where the man has certain beliefs, to force the occurrence of a marriage. Works pretty well.

      Ouch, I remember. I can hardly wrap my mind around that – it’s unconscionable to barter the life of an infant. You did the right thing, though I know you have paid dearly.

  • Susan…”I’d wager that a much higher percentage of employees today have some direct responsibility to answer to the customer. In fact, the number of employees at customer service call centers alone must be staggering, outsourcing and rude operators notwithstanding.”

    The average call center is so strictly routinized, regulated, and scripted that the “conversations” hardly count as genuine human contact at all. Your Fujitsu experience is unfortunately a rare exception. See my post Mindless Verbal Taylorism.

    • @david foster

      “How may I exceed your expectations today?” Hilarious! What on earth to say to that? Just do your job to meet my expectations. To exceed them, you’ll need to do something extraordinary, like tell me I’ve just won a $5,000 gift certificate.

      Also, I agree about cashiers who ask if you found everything you were looking for. The real answer is always “no,” and yet I always say “yes” for the reason you gave – are they going to leap out from behind the register and go fetch the elusive item? Once I’ve resigned to checking out, I do not want to spend any more time there!

      Re Fujitsu, the rep had a strong Japanese accent. The supervisor who followed up did not, but I wondered whether the protocols were from Japanese HQ. She was by far the most polite and accommodating customer service rep I’ve ever dealt with.

  • J

    less than maybe 5% of men have any value

    Wow! Really?? That’s hard to prove, isn’t it?

  • Lokland

    @Susan/J

    “less than maybe 5% of men have any value
    Wow! Really?? That’s hard to prove, isn’t it?”

    If we consider that 20% of men pass the attractive bar and whittle down from there it is not that unreasonable a suggestion.

  • Susan, if you have the time to watch the second installment of the documentary, they put those guys in a rugged, hilly part of the Australian bush and make them complete individual ruck marches. The alone time is explicitly designed to cause candidates to become introspective.

    • @BB

      The alone time is explicitly designed to cause candidates to become introspective.

      I’ve never done an Outward Bound thing, or a program where an individual goes off alone for a night into the wilderness, but it strikes me as similar in intent. Somehow introspection and self-reliance must be related…That makes me wonder how the non-introspective person who has unwarranted or at least untested confidence in his/her ability makes out. How do they deal with setbacks?

      And I can’t help but think of Thoreau here.

  • JP

    Hey, did “Girls” jump the shark yet?

    I’m pretty sure that it’s moment in the sun, along with Lena Dunham’s moment, is now over.

    I don’t know why, I just have a feeling…that it’s over.

    It will renew for another season (2014) and then fade away once everyone realizes that the third season is not nearly as good as the first and seems to have lost the plot and that the fourth season is even worse than the third season and actually has no plot.

    (And I’ve never actually watched the show.)

  • JP

    (I used my powers of introspection to make that Girls prediction!)

    (At least I think I used introspection. It could have been something else.)

  • The sales study: average revenues of $155 or $208 or whatever per hour.

    Must have been a pretty simple sale. For someone selling complex big-ticket software, the lag between initial contact with the customer and the actual closing of the order is likely to be 6 months or longer, and the whole idea of revenue per hour would be meaningless. Ditto for other complex sales, whether MRI scanners or locomotives.

  • Revo Luzione

    I’m an introvert. An ISFP, to be precise. I’ve learned to bottle up any exterior presentation of introspection EXCEPT for deep, philosophical conversations that are not about my internal processes. While those processes were used to derive my position, my conversational partners don’t need to know that.

    I have developed a quiet confidence and carry myself with dignity and a bit of swagger, that has come from 20% “acting as if,” and 80% post-activity recapitulation & introspection. Again, you see the work product of introspection but not the introspection at all.

    Experience has taught me that women aren’t attracted when they see the man behind the curtain. Most women expect a finished work product, i.e. they want men to just “be” high-value men, and don’t want to know about the struggle to get there.

  • BuenaVista

    “I’ve learned to bottle up any exterior presentation of introspection EXCEPT for deep, philosophical conversations that are not about my internal processes.”

    Even here one must not disclose opinions that challenge the feminist imperative — even with one’s soul mate.

    I just smile and say, “You have no desire to talk about that subject, and neither do I.” Never, ever have I heard someone say, “You’re wrong, I can handle the truth.”

    It would be different in a tavern in Valentine, Nebraska, but I date educated women who only go to such places because they’re on my arm. Or their plane broke.

    • @BV

      Don’t be using that feminine imperative vernacular ’round here.

  • Anacaona

    Re Fujitsu, the rep had a strong Japanese accent. The supervisor who followed up did not, but I wondered whether the protocols were from Japanese HQ. She was by far the most polite and accommodating customer service rep I’ve ever dealt with.
    My retired neighbors bought a dishwasher at Sears. They had been calling them for feedback for three days now even though they had the machine only for those three days. I think companies are terrified of losing customers. Problem is they are just screwing everyone that will only call if something went wrong and pampering the complainers that are looking for reasons to complain even if the machine works perfectly. Just my two cents.

  • Mike M.

    Sounds like a wise man should be introspective…but not let his date find out.

    And some of you people are starting to depress me. I’m 50…and while I don’t consider a 20-something an eligible date, 35 or so seems not unreasonable to at least try for.

    • @Mike M.

      I’m 50…and while I don’t consider a 20-something an eligible date, 35 or so seems not unreasonable to at least try for.

      I agree! Aim high – if you have to adjust, you will. If I were 35, I would have no qualms about dating a man of 50.

  • Jayn Rand

    Speaking of the “introspective man” I just returned from the book store where I picked up a book written my a man describing the hell he and his children went through living with his alcohol wife who also suffered from sexual abuse in her childhood.

    However, BEFORE he was married to her, he was married to a psychologically stable woman (the mother of his children). He frivilously divorced her (frivorce), using the excuse that she had an affair.

    Here’s how that went down –

    He was a busy doctor and he and his wife were both working full time (or maybe she was going to school, I forget) and had drifted apart romantically. One day his wife said to him, “we need to talk.”

    She told him, “I’ve had an affair, but its over. I have chosen to leave him and be with you. ”

    Blah, blah, blah. When he grilled her as to “why” she said she was not sexually satisfied with him and he admitted that because they were both inexperienced virgins when they married very young, he probably was not a very pleasing lover.

    Nevertheless he was of course devastated and very angry and he vowed to himself that he would “get revenge” and at around the same time a new receptionist was hired at the hospital who looked like that full figured actress from Mad Men that Susan said she wants to hug.

    One thing led to another and those two ended up dating.

    Instead of being satisfied with “getting even” and “balancing the scale” he decides to divorce his wife and marry this receptionist without thinking for a minute what breaking up a family would do to his two little daughters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    FRIVORCE!

    The wife begged him to consider that it would be horrible for their children but he was determined to care more about himself than them so he went ahead with the divorce.

    Well, as he was a wealthy doctor and the wife didn’t have nearly as much money, he got FULL CUSTODY and the little girls went to live with him and their new “step-mom”.

    The rest of the book is about how this new wife and step-mom dragged them all to hell through neglect, abuse and drama off the charts due to her alcoholism.

    Its sad that this bastard CHOSE to expose his innocent children to such things but HE GOT WHAT HE DESERVED for putting family values and his children last and his own haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapiness first.

    Susan, I’m sorry but I can’t agree with you that divorce is the best option when a spouse has cheated WHEN the couple has kids.

    Scream, shout, get angry, get therapy, even have an affair yourself to even the score – but for god sake – work it out and STAY TOGETHER FOR THE SAKE OF THE KIDS!!!

  • JP

    “Susan, I’m sorry but I can’t agree with you that divorce is the best option when a spouse has cheated WHEN the couple has kids.

    Scream, shout, get angry, get therapy, even have an affair yourself to even the score – but for god sake – work it out and STAY TOGETHER FOR THE SAKE OF THE KIDS!!!”

    Um, yeah.

    Because nothing beats a home that hates itself.

  • Richard Aubrey

    Various pre-European tribes had their young men go off on a vision quest or something like that.
    Personally, I figure the best time for introspection is a long drive alone. Not sure why, but I can maintain a train of thought longer that way than any other way.
    But, if I don’t tell my wife about what lecture–to somebody–I was working up, and I don’t tell anybody about my introspection, I don’t tell anybody.
    And any results are manifest completely without any reference to the introspection.
    So it would have to be inferred. But somebody who just met me wouldn’t know if it were a new thing or something I’ve done all my life.

    • So it would have to be inferred. But somebody who just met me wouldn’t know if it were a new thing or something I’ve done all my life.

      In my experience, introspective people have different sorts of conversations and observations than those who are not self-aware.

  • A Definite Beta Guy

    I really would like to go for an introspective walk right now but it is raining so I might write some erotic fiction instead.

    Or watch Big Bang.

  • Jayn Rand

    JP, the home doesn’t have to “hate itself”. Forgive and love again.

    BB,
    “PJ: forgive my barrage of questions, but what is the deal with South Asian mothers-in-law…? Do you want to marry again, or does the plan to eventually live with your ex make that option inappropriate? Do you find that your disgust with American culture has strengthened your attraction to South Asian men?”

    Could you be an desi guy in disguise? Am I walking into a trap?
    Anyway, I’m not completely “disgusted” with American culture. The people are nice but lost. That gives me plenty of oppurtunity to help them.

    As far as “strengthened my attraction for SA men” – nope. I have a certain looks type and if a guy fits it I will be physically attracted. That type is not exclusive to SA men.

    SA MILs – there’s only about a bazillion blogs and forums discussing them. Google around!

    (Why? Are you dating a SA woman or something and what the heads up about her family?)

  • I would also like to volunteer to give Joan Holloway Harris a hug.

  • JP

    “JP, the home doesn’t have to “hate itself”. Forgive and love again.”

    Good luck getting the love back in that situation.

    Particularly if the person having the affair is already “in love” with the third party.

  • Jayn Rand

    “Good luck getting the love back in that situation.

    Particularly if the person having the affair is already “in love” with the third party.”

    In this case she wasn’t. It was a short fling for sexual satisfaction only. She told her husband that she chose to be with him. It was he who chose to divorce, destroy the family and damage his daughters but not forgiving and loving again, and then marrying the woman he had a fling with to “get back” at his wife. Who ended up being a crazy alcohol addicts who made his childrens lives a living hell.

    Disgusting.

  • JP

    “Anyway, I’m not completely “disgusted” with American culture. The people are nice but lost. That gives me plenty of oppurtunity to help them.”

    Partially because we are in the post-unraveling portion of a Crisis Era that just happens to coincide with the ending of modernity.

    Give it 10-20 years to see what happens, particularly if we get involved in a global war with China (which will depend more on what China does than the U.S. does, amusingly enough).

  • PJ: I have a good friend who is an SA woman and she will NOT date SA men because of their “mommy issues” (her words). I didn’t want to sound impertinent, so I didn’t ask—your related experience made me curious.

    At this point she has fully embraced the USA and likes All-American surfer type guys, serves on some watchdog group that tracks corruption among Indian mid-level bureaucrats granting import/export licenses for bribes, etc. I have never dated or fucked her but she’s extremely attractive IMHO.

    Sociopolitically, she is a fascinating blend. She combines a kind of interesting Chopra type quantum-spirituality with sun worship and naturopathy and all the usual hippie-type quirks, but she’s also this anarcho-capitalist IT professional who (allegedly) wears Agent Provocateur thongs, dresses and accessorizes impeccably, drives a fancy car, and would like to see Pakistan destroyed.

  • Jayn Rand

    BB, yes. Desi guys are famous for “mommy issues”. We are an uber family oriented culture so in-laws are in your face (and in your bedroom!). We take “co-sleeping” to previously unseen heights.

    ” but she’s also this anarcho-capitalist”

    India is an anarcho-capitalist country with a big government.

    “serves on some watchdog group that tracks corruption among Indian mid-level bureaucrats granting import/export licenses for bribes”

    That’s Indian style anarcho-capitalism 😉

    “At this point she has fully embraced the USA and likes All-American surfer type guys, ”

    I’ve dated a few surfers myself when I lived in CA. They converted to Hinduism and one of them is currently living in an ashram in Nepal.

  • PJ: that’s pretty cool about the Nepalese surfer. From your descriptions, I actually would have thought that a yoga-practicing Laird Hamilton soul-surfer/vagabond world traveler type would be your ideal mate.

    Re: mommy-issues. I once asked her about going to India to find a nice guy there and she said that she didn’t really want to be doused in kerosene. I laughed; she said that she was serious and that I should shut the fuck up.

  • Jayn Rand

    BB, I googled “Laird Hamilton” to see what he looks like and I don’t find him attractive. Not my looks type at all.

    ” I once asked her about going to India to find a nice guy there and she said that she didn’t really want to be doused in kerosene. I laughed; she said that she was serious and that I should shut the fuck up.”

    I’m partial to SA guys because of shared cultural experiences. However in our culture we have the joint family system so many of us go to live with our husbands’ parents after marriage. If the parents and the unmarried sisters as well as married brothers and their wives of our husband are “nice” and give us our space, then its no problem, but them being nice and chilled out is not something that can always be counted on.

    Dousing in kerosene is not a common experience, but annoying, nosey and controlling in-laws ARE.

  • Jayn Rand

    Mike M, ” I’m 50…and while I don’t consider a 20-something an eligible date, 35 or so seems not unreasonable to at least try for.”

    Susan, “I agree! Aim high – if you have to adjust, you will. If I were 35, I would have no qualms about dating a man of 50.”

    – Oh come on now Susan. Your regular readers here aren’t buying that for a second.

  • JP

    “However in our culture we have the joint family system so many of us go to live with our husbands’ parents after marriage.”

    My BIL has taken the position that their friends *are* their family.

    That’s America!

  • Jesse

    Mr. Aubrey,

    How would you know? Among other things, allowing doubt about oneself to show is not an attractor.

    Divulging a measured amount of self-doubt can create a huge increase in charisma. Huge.

    People have to see you as human in order to identify with you and truly connect with you. Disclosing an amount of internal struggle is important in that regard. It’s harder for people to emotionally invest in you when you’re always perfect and everything’s always fine.

  • Jesse

    I’m quite fond of starting new projects. I actually view my life as more or less a series of projects. Ideally, when I finish my current career I’ll be able to start a completely new one. I’m already practicing for it, as a matter of fact.

    I have a really strong desire to become skilled, to master skills. It’s very important to me to improve in that way. To give an example of my disposition, it’s useful to create a quick-and-dirty dichotomy between “knowledge” and “skills.” So, for example, if I had a choice between reading a text on the military history of the Byzantine Empire or learning to play the piano, I would much, much rather learn to play the piano. That’s because the ability to play the piano is a tool: I can use that tool to play music that pleases me, to play other people’s songs, to write my own songs, to perform – hell, I can even use it to get girls. If I read a book on the military history of the Byzantine Empire, what the hell am I going to do with that knowledge? Act like a self-important asshole trying to impress people at cocktail parties? How hot a girl can I pick up by reciting the military history of the Byzantine Empire anyway? (Scarier thought: what kind of girl would be even be aroused by my recitation of the military history of the Byzantine Empire?) I’d much rather be playing my heart out at a club than attending a stuffy party anyway.

    I realize it’s a model that has easily identifiable flaws, but it illustrates a point.

    To me that’s one of the most enjoyable parts of life – acquiring a skill, mastering it and then using it to fully express yourself. The chase, and then the powerful, fulfilling feeling that’s derived from success, is very satisfying. To a large extent it’s just a desire to find out how good I can become. For example, I have strong interests in both music and automobile racing. I practice my guitar playing more or less every chance I get and I love to drive my five-speed, practicing advanced driving techniques like threshold braking and double-clutch heel-toe downshifting, which I’m reasonably proficient at. I want to master the guitar (which I define as becoming fully fluent in the language, so that I have complete ability to express myself musically) and to become a skilled racing driver. I believe both are achievable. Now, does that mean I think I can become the next John Lennon or Ayrton Senna?

    I don’t know. It’s certainly unlikely. There’s really no point in setting expectations like that. I think I can become good at both, but there is a chasm between “good” and becoming arguably the best to ever pick up your chosen instrument, be it a six-string or steering wheel. I just have a primal desire to test my limits, and see how far I can go. Life is more interesting when you push yourself.

    I really only want to continue with the same project for as long as I feel I can continue to improve. Continuing the same activities for decades and watching myself stagnate, or worse, slowly decline, sounds like a horrible life to me. That’s a particularly relevant issue in athletics, because beyond a certain point, you’re only ever going to go down.

    I’m quite in awe of the people who can play golf for 20 years and remain a 15 handicap the whole time. It’s amazing. Maybe it’s just a social activity for them, which I understand in a way. After all, enjoying spending time with your wife is not really a “skill” you’re looking to “master.” (Though I think I’d say sex is!) It’s just a gratifying experience that you wish to continue for the rest of your life.

    Anyway, I’m not sure how to wrap this essay up; just sharing my thoughts I guess. I think I’m quite fond of “pure” experiences like that, though. Try to find something you really love doing, try really, really hard to become as good as you can it, then when you’ve wrung every last drop out of it and you’ve got nothing more to say, bow out and move on. Life should be like that.

  • Jesse

    I would also like to volunteer to give Joan Holloway Harris a hug.

    If that’s the one from Mad Men… I think she’s a little too much woman for me, but hell yes, I’d give her a ride.

  • Terrence

    What do you know about being a man?

    • What do you know about being a man?

      Nothing, but I know a great deal about being married to one.

  • Liz
    Or, in situations where the man has certain beliefs, to force the occurrence of a marriage. Works pretty well.

    Ouch, I remember.

    Susan, don’t tell me you accidentally got pregnant on purpose??

    • @Liz

      Susan, don’t tell me you accidentally got pregnant on purpose??

      No! I recall Buena Vista’s story – that’s how his second marriage came about.

  • BuenaVista

    SW: “That makes me wonder how the non-introspective person who has unwarranted or at least untested confidence in his/her ability makes out. How do they deal with setbacks?”

    The “setbacks”, or stress, in my view is the source of the pleasure of such things. They are for me the lure itself, as well as the provocative source of thought. The nature of the pleasure is two-fold: a) the pleasure of seeing one’s acquired skills validated and tested; b) the rush of thought (am I making the right decisions now, am I am I am I being smart) and fear (please Lord don’t let me fuck up). Examples of such moments for me today are sitting in a light plane with a 1935 airfoil for five hours at 15,000, traversing 2 weather systems across 1000 miles, or bootpacking up a knife edge in winter where the drop to either side is 2000 feet or more. The level of concentration one enters is so profound that upon conclusion I am, essentially, speechless. But it’s a level of concentration that one can achieve, as well, simply working at a desk all night every night for a few weeks while the world sleeps and some work product emerges on a few hundred pages.

    I recall my Outward Bound three day solo as being tedious. We just sat under our tarps with a half pint of honey and some crackers, and we were supposed to be “introspective.” Since that was how I was 90% of the time, whether tramping along in a group or off by myself, I thought it was a waste of time.

  • BuenaVista

    SW: “That makes me wonder how the non-introspective person who has unwarranted or at least untested confidence in his/her ability makes out. How do they deal with setbacks?”

    One of the ironical aspects of flying is that the more one does it, the more one runs the risk of preferring the hostile environment of the air to the nattering business of the ground. I have also encountered this at sea. The reason the risk increases is that one becomes so attached to the solitude of 15,000 that one begins to take it for granted. And of course, it’s not a friendly place, necessarily. William Langewische has described this better than I in Inside the Sky (republished as Aloft.)

    A flying buddy, Robert E. Dupea, cribbed Thomas Bernhard (Austrian poet) and described one particular night-flight into a state of reflection and insight. This light piece describes entry into a state of contemplation, the triumph of technique, and the momentary dislocation that results from capricious insight:

    Disoriented

    By 3:30 a.m. we’ve exhausted all strategies for conversation. The ground below swims in moonlight, an
    uninviting day-for-night tableau, unwinding. We focus on our own alertness, querying ourselves for
    signals of fatigue. In the still air, warmer by the mile, our aircraft flies its own heading and altitude, which
    is ours, which is verified every 20 seconds with a sweeping panel scan ñ left-right, down, right-left.
    Everything is as it should be, we say, droning forward and southward, warm-ward. Earlier, like a tired
    clock, the aircraft lost interest in our steady state, slowed, and then, untrimmed, began its slow-descent into
    night-shrouded mountains, ice-fog filling the steep ravines. Just like that, no alarms and no piercing
    awareness, just the bleeding away of inertia, altitude, and safety. The outside air temperature was minus 18
    C. Induction icing, we decide, and we have a bright red lever for that, which we move three inches, which
    works. Now it is warm, the radio is quiet, sleep is a set of cool starched sheets on a farm evening after
    weeks of unbroken heat and labor. We smoke like laboratory creatures, it works. Another state passes
    behind and below the aircraft, the moon, which created this particular world, is wonderful to stare at, so we
    do. Are we drowsing? Heading and altitude. Airspeed, amps and fuel pressure. The CDI. Heading and
    altitude. Apparently not.

    Then a peripheral form jerks our vision, right, and down ñ there, on the ground, was something: precise,
    geometric shape of light, now gone. Hallucination? we wonder. It was the shape of a child’s puzzle-toy.
    Time to land, wait for daylight? The shape of the mysterious light-form lingers. We still see it, in mind.
    Perhaps it is time to stop. Then another slashing side-form of light. Looking down and to the right,
    nothing. We look left: nothing. Then another. Another. Then it is plain: we know. We traverse the
    Carolina lowlands now, the moon, to our right, reflects itself in ponds and swamp-pools, the angle of that
    reflection briefly trapped by our sidelong vision. It is only moonlight on water. It is not fantastical. It is
    not the letter that we put away 12 years ago, or the conversation on the steps of the Duomo in that Umbrian
    hill-town, or the promises that got hammered into dust by all of our daily panting after nothing. It is only
    moonlight on water in the swamps and farm ponds of coastal Carolina. The radio is silent. The highways,
    in moonlight, empty. We pass another state, check fuel. The shape of that light disturbs us yet. But we are
    material people and it is gone. We scan heading and altitude, measure fuel consumed and remaining. We
    remember not knowing, and we remember our dislocation of five minutes. It was real but it is gone. We
    know what it was, after all. Heading and altitude. Check fuel.

    ###

  • Apply the romance novel test: How many male protagonists in these books are shown introspecting and self-analyzing?

    (Not asserting that they’re not…genuinely asking)

    • Apply the romance novel test: How many male protagonists in these books are shown introspecting and self-analyzin