Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sequential choice for epic and lyrical womanizers

January 9, 2012

In “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, Milan Kundera explores the distinction between the epic and the lyrical womanizer. The epic womanizer desires conquest of an ever expanding sexual territory. The lyrical womanizer is eternally in search of perfection or true love.

A girlfriend recently asked me which one I am. I found it hard to answer. The idea of conquering the world one flag at a time has a definite appeal to me. While deciding which of two women to pursue on a given night, I have found myself thinking: This is a new country. The life of an epic womanizer promises to satisfy a traveller’s curiosity and to confer great power: The feeling that they’re all mine, that the world is mine. But what originally motivated me as a young man was the romantic ideal of the perfect love relationship. My original motivation was more lyrical than epic, and I can still relate to this earlier self.

Chasing fresh pussy indefinitely appears immature to most people under either motivation. So a womanizer can expect to encounter concern, mixed with envy, in those around him. Conventional wisdom holds that developing a single deep relationship brings happiness and stability. Although the classical monogamous relationship is in a global crisis, we need not dismiss the wisdom that lasting relationships are valuable.

I like my relationships with women to have potential beyond sex. I don’t like to compartmentalize and set definite limits on the type of connection that may develop. I prefer to develop emotional and intellectual connections along with the sexual connection – although this complicates matters and is often better explored after initial seduction. I also don’t like to limit my relationships to a particular time frame.

If the goal were simply to find the single best attainable mate, there is a rational solution. The optimal approach is to sample the field, estimate a realistic aspiration level, and then choose the next contender exceeding that level. This sequential choice problem has been deeply investigated and is variously referred to as the dowry, secretary, or marriage problem ( If the number of contenders is known, their order is random, and the objective is to maximize the chance of picking the absolute best (i.e. hitting the jackpot), the optimal strategy is to sample 37% (more precisely a proportion of 1/e), set the aspiration level to the best within that sample, and pick the next one exceeding it.

In reality, the order may not be random (options could get better over time and then worse) and the total number of contenders is not known. Instead of optimizing the chance to hitting the jackpot, the objective should perhaps be to balance the expected value of the match against the chance of finding no match. The greater the sampled proportion, the higher the aspiration level. And with our aspiration level both rise: the expected value of our match and the chance of finding no match (which equals the sampled proportion).

Simulations suggest that the expected value is quite robust to changes of the sampled proportion, so sampling 37%, the solution to the classical dowry/secretary/marriage problem, is perhaps a good rule of thumb even when optimizing the probability of hitting the jackpot is not the main goal and we instead would like to optimize the expected value of our match.

A good strategy is one that works on multiple time scales. I’d like to be both an epic and a lyrical womanizer, and to be realistic about life. My sampling may serve to set an aspiration level, but it is also a pleasure in its own right and heightened by a dream, attainable or not. As I age, quality and depth gain priority over quantity and breadth. I enjoy the journey, realize the journey is the goal, but continue to entertain the notion that one day I may journey on into depth with just one.

This answers the question as best I can today. However, it does not answer how best to answer the question to a woman we intend to seduce.

Kundera’s narrator notes that the lyrical womanizer has women’s sympathy. Women deeply relate to the unattainable dream of perfect love. Moreover, his dream of perfection renders him unattainable to her, and thus lends him a key feature of her fantasy mate – for as long as he does not degrade her dream to a mere reality by declaring his love for her.


The concept of “social reality”

April 28, 2011

Reality is a complex concept. We think of the world as fundamentally physical and distinguish between the objective physical reality and our perceptions of that reality, our subjective realities. To understand social dynamics, we need another concept of reality: the concept of “social reality”.

In a room full of people, everyone has his or her subjective reality with respect to the social system: the set of social perceptions and judgments he or she holds. The social reality of a group of people is the set of social judgments that the members of the group agree upon. In other words, it is the intersection of the group members’ subjective realities with respect to the social system.

If you look at a girl and she keeps eye contact, this means she is interested in you at some level – and you in her. But this is not the crucial point for further interactions. The crucial point is that you know she is interested and she knows you know (and vice versa). Social reality is a powerful shorthand for describing this mutual consciousness of mutual agreement about a social situation.

The eye contact makes the mutual interest a social reality between you and her (and anyone who sees and understands it). This social reality is what makes it easy to walk up and talk to her.

But perhaps you hesitate before walking up to her after the eye contact. This would show that you don’t believe in the mutual interest indicated by the eye contact. If it is not your subjective reality that there is mutual interest, then it is not social reality. During the eye contact, mutual interest was social reality between you and her. But your hesitation undoes that social reality of mutual interest. If you approach after hesitating, therefore, she will be unresponsive.

Note that this explanation of her unresponsiveness is subtly different from the more conventional notion that your hesitation indicates lack of confidence and thus makes you unattractive. Both explanations have merit. They could be taken to explain different phenomena. But perhaps they explain the same fundamental phenomenon from two different perspectives.

Let’s take a closer look at this. We can intepret the hesitation from two apparently opposite perspectives. We can say, your hesitation shows that you don’t understand the meaning of the eye contact. From this perspective, the eye contact had an objective meaning, but you suffer from a lack of social perceptiveness. Alternatively, we can say that your hesitation shows a lack of proactivity in defining a social reality that is constantly in flux. From this perspective, the eye contact was ambiguous, but opened a window of opportunity for defining social reality, of which you failed to take advantage.

Both of these perspectives parse the social dynamics into discrete events and emphasize opposite influences. In reality, social dynamics is time-continuous and the two perspectives describe a singular phenomenon. Perception and action merge in the singularity of the social moment.

Just as the meaning of interactions in social reality depends on the swift and fluid formation of implicit mutual agreement, so does a person’s social value, i.e. his or her value in social reality. A person that does not project high social value, cannot have high social value, simply because for the high value to be social reality requires agreement of all parties including the person in question.

Recall that social reality is defined as a function of a group of people. In a room full of people, we can say, there are as many social realities as there are (sub)sets of people. Ironically, a person projecting low social value can have high social value among all sets that exclude him or her, but not among any set that includes him.

How happy do you aspire to be?

May 31, 2010

At the most general level, game in a relationship comes down to a simple question: How happy do you aspire to be? A man who aspires to be very happy is very attractive. He is a leader toward this higher ground of greater well being. And the primary indicator that he aspires, with confidence, to reach this higher ground is his response when his girlfriend gives him grief. Does he engage the grief, or turn away to set out again on his own path toward happiness? Do the latter and she will want to come along.

Dating dynamics

May 31, 2010

This appallingly simple algorithm accounts for a surprisingly large portion of the variance of dating developments.

The two elephants in the room of feminism

May 3, 2010

Feminism derives its wide acceptance in intellectual circles from the idea that women are disadvantaged. This justifies a unilateral push for power that would not be considered acceptable for men.

The grievances of women are legitimate. It is true that women have been and are disadvantaged by the classical sex roles in many ways. Discrimination against women exists and needs to be overcome. However, men as well are disadvantaged by these roles – in different ways. It is widely held that sex discrimination is predominantly discrimination against women and that women have less power overall. However, these assumptions are questionable.

While subtle and complex biases against women exist, discrimination does not fully explain the dominance of men in many fields. The major reason is something so old and familiar that it is hard for us to see: in the absence of extraordinary achievement, a man is valued less than a woman (reverse sexism). Men are therefore under greater pressure to reach extraordinary levels of cultural achievement.

The ultimate cause of this (glossing over a network of proximate causes) is that women bear children. Men are forever compensating for their tiny contribution to the reproduction of the species. Consider that you could kill 90% of all men at a negligible cost with respect to the species’ ability to reproduce, while killing women will decimate the following generation proportionally.

This is why every boy, despite being taught that men and women are of equal value, still today grows up understanding that, if worst comes to worst, he will be expected to volunteer to sacrifice himself to save a woman – a deep hypocrisy.

This, in no uncertain terms, delivers the inevitable message that women are needed more. On average, women are more valued, more protected, and more desired. And men kill themselves to compensate, often by direct physical risk taking, and even more often by pushing themselves to succeed unhealthily (leading to lower life expectancy). Men also “gain” years that women spend on pregnancy and child care – only to compulsively pursue their compensatory cultural ambitions.

For men, cultural achievement is a necessity, the key to being valued, desired, and loved, and thus to personal happiness. For women it is a choice. The alternative choice for women is to be valued, desired, and loved in a more traditional female role. Men do not de facto have this choice to the same degree (rare exceptions notwithstanding).

Get rich or die trying‘ is one expression of this male predicament. But the phenomenon is present in different variants across subcultures and very tangible in each of our own lives. Those men who fail in the game of achievement, go on to ‘dominate’ all the dirtiest and most hazardous occupations, where women are also underrepresented.

Moreover, the supposedly enviable leadership positions tend to be stressful and burdened with responsibility. Given a choice of being valued and loved by a different route, many men as well as women would choose that – only there’s no equality of those alternative choices.

The major pressure factor on men is female sexual preference. And there may not be any remedy. There’s little we can do about either the female preference for dominant males or the male preference for beautiful females. Note the irony: Men dominate because women prefer men who dominate. So who’s dominating whom, really?

Men are forced to take disproportionate physical risks. They are required to do the dying as well as the killing. Life expectancy is a good indicator of overall societal power (consider black versus white, poor versus rich). By this indicator, females are clearly favored.

Sex differences in life expectancy may have biological causes, but may also reflect the greater pressures men are subjected to over their lives. To the extent that there is a biological component, men should be seen as the biologically weaker sex and compensative action should be taken. In fact less money is spent on medical research benefitting men than women. Here as in other domains women continue to be the protected sex. For a good discussion of some of these facts, see Warren Farrell’s important book “The Myth of Male Power”.

The final stroke of genius of the societal exploitation of males is the notion that complaining about one’s plight is not masculine. The slaves are to sing, so as not to burden their master’s conscience. Really, this is just another application of the ever effective threat of sexual deprivation that binds the majority of males, to whom sex is available only in exchange for money or lifelong commitment.

Feminism has glorified what is great about the male role (individual freedom and cultural achievement) and denied the considerable advantages of the female role (being more protected, desired, and loved; greater emotional freedom; less pressure to perform). It is also in deep denial, by and large, about the nature of female sexuality.

The two elephants in the room of feminism are (1) the female sexual preference for dominant males (where dominance is defined in relation to the female and a merely equal male is never desirable) and (2) the disadvantages men suffer (which concern bare survival, life expectancy and being valued, desired, and loved at lower levels of societal success).

If feminism is going to survive and continue to be a positive force, it needs to face these challenges, resist the descent from radical theory to unilateral lobbying for power, and embrace a more expansive vision of gender roles based on an acceptance of biological facts. First, the female sexual preference for dominant males, which is widely denied, should be acknowledged. Second, the male sexual preference for beautiful females, which is widely acknowledged as true, should not be considered a fault of men that needs to be corrected. Let’s accept our sexual preferences as biological fact and fault neither men nor women for them.

What would real equality (of value, of life quality, of sexual desirability for the average person) be like? If feminist theory could develop a vision for this, then it might remain an important force for societal change.

The two poles of the female soul

April 26, 2010

The female soul has two poles: imperiousness and subserviency. Intermediate states are unstable, and so, in her interactions with you, she will vacillate between the poles. The only relationship she cannot have in comfort is an equal one.

Control, the male dilemma, and the eerie parallelism between sex and love

April 6, 2010

For a man, control is key. Control is power, is to be desired and loved by women. Status merely comes with it, and indicates that you have it.

Control starts with ourselves and extends outward: control of our body and its functions, especially of ejaculation; control of our physiology, of our orgasm, and of our emotions, especially of falling in love.

Extending outward, control is exerted over other people’s thoughts (when they follow our words), over their feelings, emotions, and behavior. Outward control is power. The ultimate masculine power is control of a woman’s emotions, of her body, in particular her pregnancy, and of her orgasm.

Control is precisely the thing in a man that women cannot resist. It is perhaps the only thing that women cannot resist. Control is to a man what beauty is to a woman.

Women are not inherently more emotional, sensitive, or unstable than men. They are allowed to be. They can afford to be, because they don’t need control to be loved. Men do.

Don’t you hate all this? What for?

Well, to be desired and loved by women, and to procreate – or to pretend to God to do so while using contraceptives. This is to say, to fuck, essentially, to ejaculate, to orgasm, and to fall in love.

Ejaculation, orgasm, and falling in love do not require a woman’s cooperation. We can masturbate, shoot our seed into the sink, come over porn, and fall in love without inciting love in her. But that would mean half a life to a man, or no life at all. We do need women.

The irony is this: the ends of masculine control, ejaculation – inside her, orgasm – with her, and falling in love – as she falls in love with us, these are the great pleasures and they are all, in essence, loss of control. This is the male dilemma.

The hard prick, when it ejaculates, goes limp and ceases to be physically stimulating to her. Male ejaculation and orgasm are always sexually disappointing to both parties in that they are a loss of control, of masculinity – his pleasure, and her triumph, notwithstanding.

The disappointment on her side is greatest, of course, if she hasn’t yet orgasmed.

There is an eerie parallelism between sex and love, between the physical and the emotional: The man that falls in love gets weak and ceases to be emotionally stimulating to her. The male’s falling in love is always emotionally disappointing to both parties in that it is a loss of control, of masculinity – his pleasure, and her triumph, notwithstanding.

The disappointment on her side is greatest, of course, if she hasn’t yet completely fallen in love.

You are man enough for her to fall in love with you if and only if you have the control not to fall in love with her. In other words, a man can have any woman, except the one he loves. And a woman can fall in love with many men, but not with the one who loves her.

This is perhaps the greatest irony of the human condition.

When I first understood this, I could not believe that nobody had ever explained it to me. In a highly advanced culture, where you can easily find instructions for building an airplane, how could a piece of information so essential to the personal happiness of every man and every woman not be readily available, not be taught at elementary school to every boy and girl?

The reason, I suspect, is that it is such an awful piece of information, such an ugly truth. It’s a truth that is beautiful for its perverse elegance, for its symmetry and irony, but ugly in its consequences to human happiness.

A man in love has lost a substantial amount of control. In particular, he has lost control to her. His falling in love takes the power from him and puts it in her hands, shifting the balance. And because women are programmed by nature to love men for their power – in exactly the same way that men are programmed by nature to love women for their beauty – the man in love is unlovable, albeit only to the woman he loves.

This sounds very bleak. So then is there not a happy couple in love in the world? Is there no hope?

Yes, there is. It works like this: The man controls his emotion and underexpresses what emotion he cannot control. He then controls her, creatively through the art of seduction, her thoughts, her emotions, her body. He maintains control until she begins to lose control. He leads her into her loss of control, into trance and passive feminine pleasure. It takes discipline for him to forgo or at least delay the pleasure of losing control himself.

As he leads her, she leads the loss of control: When she is thoroughly in love he may let himself fall a little (without losing her). When she has orgasmed, then so may he, and obtain his measure of pleasure. But if he were to let go and experience total pleasure, total abandon, he would lose all control, and thus all masculinity, and thus he would certainly lose her. This happens to the young man, again and again, until he learns.

Even the experienced man’s controlled little losses of control, will make him less than perfectly masculine. But then masculinity is just a means to the end of these little losses. He is perfectly masculine to the women who have loved and lost him. And another man is perfectly masculine to his love in the same way.

And the less loving, emotional, and sensitive we are, the easier it is for us to maintain control and appeal to women. The born asshole is a born fucker, emotionally – and often physically as well. He first fucks with her emotionally and then proceeds to fuck her physically – and for exactly this, he is much desired, and much loved, by women.

But we can match the born asshole’s masculinity by mastery of the game of seduction, by sheer genius proceeding from a deep acceptance of the nature of female sexuality.

It is the sexism of nature itself that grants pleasure and loss of control to the female in larger measure. Nature has no qualms about sexism. It’s hard to accept these things when you believe – as I and my lovers, by and large, do – in equality, political and intellectual equality. And it’s interesting that our culture, and especially feminism, idealizes masculine control and power and associates it with freedom and pleasure, although in fact pleasure is loss of control and freedom is gained when someone you trust does the driving.

Control itself, of course, is a masculine pleasure – a sadistic pleasure to the degree that it involves eliciting a wide range sensations or emotions in her, a masochistic pleasure when it takes much discipline to maintain, and a playful pleasure when it comes easy. Just never a pure one.

Sexual attractiveness as a function of age

April 4, 2010

Sexual attractiveness varies as a function of age for both men and women. However, the curves must look very different for males and females. Let’s define sexual attractiveness as the percentage of people of the opposite sex that would enjoy having sex with a person. I haven’t checked the literature on this, but I suspect the curves (averaged across individuals) may look something like this…

Note the sudden rise for the female during her teens and the delayed rise for the male. Note also the sudden drop for the female during her thirties and the much later drop for the male. Further note that I’ve drawn the peak lower and wider for the male. This is consistent with the idea that a girl at 20 is desired by a larger proportion of the opposite sex than a guy at his peak.

If we were to define sexual attractiveness as the frequency of consensual heterosexual sex acts, then the integral (i.e. the total count of consensual heterosexual sex acts) would by definition be equal for both sexes – consistent with the curves as shown, where the female’s peak is higher but also narrower, yielding a similar integral over the lifespan.

The sudden rise and fall of the female’s attractiveness may pose challenges to her character and development that the male does not face.

If we were to zoom in on a particular individual’s attractiveness across a few days spanning a range of emotional states and changes of status, I think we’d see a nearly constant curve for the female. A hot girl can be happy and perky or crying in a corner of the room – she is still hot. This constancy of sexual power confers the immense emotional freedom that women enjoy: emotional instability is less of a liability if it does not compromise sexual power.

Not so for a guy. If he breaks down emotionally, he loses all masculine appeal. His sexual power similarly declines when he fails professionally and loses status.

A woman’s attrativeness, though it fades with age, is stable like the price of gold locally in time. A man’s attractiveness is fickle by comparison – more like the market value of modern art or popmusic: largely a social construction arising in an unpredictable process of recurrent message passing.

Does this have implications for mating and long-term partnerships?

Let’s go with the conventional notion that a stable match is one in which both partners are similarly attractive – and neither is too tempted by more attractive alternative options.

But a stable match at one point in time is not necessarily a stable match at a different point, if attractiveness varies differentially for the sexes.

For an age-matched couple, the woman will be more attractive in younger years and the man more attractive in later years, leading to instability over essentially the entire course of the relationship (with a short moment of balance in the middle). If they meet young and she has more alternative options than he does, but sticks with him regardless, she could be thought of as investing in his potential. When the tables turn, he may repay her loyality. Alternatively, he may defect and leave her for someone younger and more attractive. So an age-matched early commitment is risky for the woman in the long term.

This assumes that the particular two people have an equal lifespan integral of sexual attractiveness. If a young age-matched couple is matched in attractiveness as well when they meet, then her risk of losing him is even greater.

If she waits until her 30s to find an age-matched partner for the long term, her chances of getting someone of equal lifespan attractiveness are slim, as her best years are past. For the long term, she is a definite bad deal for an age-matched male partner who is currently or over the lifespan equally attractive. However, he may be interested in the short term, while the match is stable.

If the male is 10-20 years older, then the attractiveness curves are in better alignment and the match is more stable over the long term. This is a common scenario and advantageous to both sides.

Conversely, consider the case where the female is 10-20 years older. His attractiveness at 22 may be a match for hers at 37 – for a short, sweet moment.

Does no mean no?

December 5, 2009


No means: Let’s see if you will be sad if I reject you.

If yes, then it means no.

If no, then it means very little.

Women who love “too much”

August 17, 2009

In 1985, Robin Norwood published an important book entitled “Women who love too much”. The book sold millions of copies and it appears that it has helped many women control their tendency to get into relationships with physically and emotionally abusive men. The book describes several central features of female sexual preference in a subtle and accurate way, breaking societal taboos and taking a large step toward a more honest view of these issues. The book is aimed at women suffering from their own choices – a perspective very different from that of men sharing their experiences and insights so as to better attract and enchant women. This makes the consistency of some of the observations in the book with those from the seduction community all the more compelling. The first two chapter titles are “Loving the man who doesn’t love back” and “Good sex in bad relationships”. The list of symptoms for self-diagnosis includes this point: “You are not attracted to men who are kind, stable, reliable, and interested in you. You find such ‘nice’ men boring.”

women who love too much_cover

Despite the book’s honesty, intelligence, and positive impact, its title and overall spin reflects the hypocrisy of our culture’s relationship to female sexuality – in 1985 and today.

The problem is cast as a disorder that affects only some women (those who love too much), not as a universal feature of normal female sexuality. This reassures the reader that we are concerned here only with a small proportion of women traumatized by early childhood experience, rendering the book unthreatening to our fundamental views of female sexuality and gender relations. The author draws a parallel between female addiction to abusive partners and alcoholism, an acquired disorder. Had the book been cast as a treatment on normal female sexuality, I doubt that it would have been published at all.

The book’s title provides perhaps the most delicious illustration of our culture’s hypocrisy about female sexuality. “Women who” restricts the scope to a fringe of women with problems, “love too much” recasts a preference for domination and violence as an excess of love. Because they love them too much, the title suggests, they stay with them despite their men’s destructive behavior. In reality, of course, they love their men because of their destructive behavior (see here and here for interesting related discussions on Roissy’s blog). But this is too much for our culture’s sensibilities. Consider an alternative such as “Women love men who violently dominate them” – hardly acceptable. The subtitle “When you keep wishing and hoping he’ll change” places the blame securely back with men – where it belongs. The content of the book is more honest than its title and explains the simple truth: her attraction would fade if her man did turn into a nice guy.

women_who_love_too_much_back cover

So how does the game of seduction relate to the abusive relationships described in the book? We can read the book for inspiration on how to seduce women. The routines described there will work widely on women, not just on those who suffer from a special disorder. More stable women will avoid overly destructive relationships. But they, too, are tempted by controlled doses of the same drug.

In my view, however, male “game” has a positive function for both sexes: It springs from a complete acceptance of female sexuality and suggests a playful way of transcending our biological roots. A man with game need not be violent or emotionally abusive to outshine his competition in the eyes of her sexual instincts. “Game” implies play and allows an ironic detachment from the biological dynamics. Ironic or not, female feral sexuality responds violently to these patterns. And though the irony of our actions is lost on her sex module, it is not lost on her.