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cousin_it comments on Scientific Self-Help: The State of Our Knowledge - Less Wrong

138 Post author: lukeprog 20 January 2011 08:44PM

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Comment author: cousin_it 21 January 2011 05:25:35PM *  5 points [-]

When you're selling yourself, there's also an additional dynamic: Robin Hanson has argued that any method to win better mates than you appear to "deserve" genetically will be viewed as "unfair" by the opposite sex. For an example parallel to PUA, men may get squicked by this advice for women, even though they know it works.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 21 January 2011 05:45:05PM 8 points [-]

Does that advice really work? If a female acted the way that essay describes (especially in regards to keeping dates short and being rarely available) I'd just assume that they weren't interested but didn't have the guts to say so and move on.

Comment author: soreff 23 January 2011 04:30:46AM *  4 points [-]

Interesting question! Back in 1988, I met two women close to simultaneously. The one who made love with me is the one who I married. If the other one intended to be chased - well, she wasn't. "Hard to get" acted simply as a negative.

Comment author: cousin_it 21 January 2011 05:51:05PM *  4 points [-]

Haha, that's what many girls say about PUA techniques. "Wouldn't work on me!" Yet they work. Maybe we should get some girls' opinions about advice from The Rules: have they tried it? How effective was it?

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 12:54:40AM 28 points [-]

Certainly haven't followed it as a matter of conscious intent. I am pretty much only attracted to nerds (one of my personal rules, back when I was on the market, was that I would not date a guy who did not own a d20) and my reaction is that much of this is really horrible advice for the girl trawling the geek pool for a boyfriend.

For instance all the stuff about waiting for him to make the first move, expecting him to take the lead, etc, is just a recipe for two lovelorn nerds staring hopelessly at each other over the miniatures table (and never going any farther than that). I generally found it pretty easy to tell when a guy was into me, and I made some pretty blatant passes just to get the ball rolling.

For instance, with the man who is now my husband, I initiated our relationship by saying (this is a direct quote) "Hey, have you ever thought about you and me dating?" And I continued to take the lead in things like initiating our first kiss and the first time we went to bed together, because I knew I was a lot more experienced in that arena. On the other hand, most girls do like to be courted and I'm no exception, so there definitely was a point when I expected him to start taking the lead. But I didn't expect him to guess where it was. I told him straight up, "hey, I've kind of been the instigator up until now, but we're getting kind of serious and I'm not going to always be the one pushing our relationship to the next level. If we keep at this there are going to be a few milestones coming up--the first time someone says 'I love you' is the next one--and I'm not going to be the one to go first there, so, you know, just keep that in mind." So he was the one to use the "L-word" first, and he proposed marriage, and so forth.

We did end up having a fight on Valentine's Day, when I baked him cupcakes and he got me absolutely nothing, but the lesson I took away from that was not "dump him," it was "use your words." If I expect a present, I need to tell him, in English, that I want a present. Tone of voice does not count and neither does body language. He is not good with hints, even if they seem to me to be really, really obvious hints. He wants to do things that will make me happy, but he cannot be relied upon to guess what those things are. He and I are both much, much happier when I just tell him what I want.

So, "be mysterious" would have been terrible advice for me, and all that stuff about not signaling too much interest I think is counterproductive for "our kind" as well, since nerd guys often have a hard time picking up on it when a girl is flirting with them.

There are a few things in there that I think are useful. The old "never sleep with a guy before the third date" rule is one that I would probably endorse, except I would take out the "never." But in general I think being slow to jump in bed with people is a good, self-protective strategy for women. "Don't try to change him" is just good solid advice, and so is "don't date a married man." But yeah, I think for the gal batting her eyelashes at the company sysadmin, most of those rules are either not really applicable or downright counterproductive.

Which leads me to my objection to PUA stuff. I mean, a lot of it seems like harmless enough "Dumbo's feather" type stuff -- tricks to get shy guys to actually approach and interact with women in a way that signals confidence rather than desperation. I'm fine with all that and I can certainly see how it would be useful. But in the overarching philosophy -- it just seems like an incredibly alienating view of women. I know there's some lip-service to the idea of individual variation, but for the most part the PUA strategies encourage guys to see women almost like androids, all obeying the same script.

And from what I've seen of measurable differences between men and women, they exist as averages over large groups, but they are dwarfed by individual variances. Like, yes, men are on average taller and stronger than women. But Jill Mills could kick your ass. Women are human and as individuals we fall across the whole spectrum of human variance. All women are not alike, not any more than all men are alike.

So yeah, I don't have much trouble believing that PUA "works" in terms of helping guys pick up at singles bars. I'm a lot more skeptical that it "works" across a broader spectrum of experience. I have my doubts about how well it would work on nerd girls (I courted a few of them in my wild youth, too.)

And ultimately I worry about the damage that the PUA mindset does to relations between men and women as human beings--lord knows, reading Roissy's blog doesn't leave me with a lot of hope for the species.

Comment author: LauraABJ 23 January 2011 04:49:33AM 4 points [-]

You are very unusual. I love nerds too, and am currently in an amazing relationship with one, but even I have my limits. He needed to pursue me or I wouldn't have bothered. I was quite explicitly testing, and once he realized the game was one, he exceeded expectations. But yeah, there were a couple of months there when I thought, 'To hell with this! If he's not going to make a move at this point, he can't know what he's doing, and he certainly won't be any good at the business...'

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 05:24:03AM 19 points [-]

You are very unusual. I love nerds too, and am currently in an amazing relationship with one, but even I have my limits. He needed to pursue me or I wouldn't have bothered.

If I hadn't already had good evidence that he was crazy about me, I might have gone for more of that sort of testing, I don't know.

At the time I had this idea that I was going to be San Francisco's real-life superheroine. I would get a cape and a mask and call myself Mistra. I went as far as enrolling in a first-responder course and a Wing Chun class. I told Sam (now my husband, but at the time just a good friend) that he should be my sidekick, Fog Lad. He agreed to this plan. We started throwing around ideas for his costume.

Sometime after this it occurred to me literally in the shower that he must be in love with me, because I'm pretty sure guys don't agree to run around the city in tights calling themselves Fog Lad unless they are desperately in love with some chick.

So I told him I thought we should date, and then everything just went extremely well from there. Sadly, once we fell into bed together, we kind of got distracted and I stopped going to Wing Chun class, and San Francisco never did get its ace crimefighting team.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 07:03:00AM *  6 points [-]

That is just too adorable to be true! Tell me you made it up. If not, you may just have be the inspiration for the first romantic teen comedy superhero flick that is based off a true story!

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 04:57:27PM 6 points [-]

Tell me you made it up.

Nope, it's all true.

Comment author: zaph 25 January 2011 01:16:51PM 2 points [-]

The RomCom version of Kick Ass would probably do very well at the box office.

Comment author: [deleted] 24 January 2011 04:13:35PM 4 points [-]

Awesome.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 05:05:48AM 1 point [-]

But yeah, there were a couple of months there when I thought

A couple of months. Even that is a little unusual. :)

Comment author: LauraABJ 23 January 2011 05:13:53AM 3 points [-]

This is true. We were (and are) in the same social group, so I didn't need to go out of my way for repeated interaction. Had I met him once and he failed to pick up my sigs, then NO, we would NOT be together now... This reminds me of a conversation I had with Silas, in which he asked me, "How many dates until....?" And I stared at him for a moment and said, "What makes you think there would be a second if the first didn't go so well?"

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 05:23:41AM 3 points [-]

"How many dates until....?" And I stared at him for a moment and said, "What makes you think there would be a second if the first didn't go so well?"

By the ellipsis do you mean 'sex', and indicate that lack of it on the first date constitutes a failure? (Good for you if you know what you want!)

Comment author: LauraABJ 23 January 2011 05:26:44AM 3 points [-]

Yes.

Comment author: Blueberry 23 January 2011 02:18:24AM 4 points [-]

Great post. I loved your approach with your husband and think that in general, most people would be better off following it (especially women).

[PUA] just seems like an incredibly alienating view of women. I know there's some lip-service to the idea of individual variation, but for the most part the PUA strategies encourage guys to see women almost like androids, all obeying the same script.

Your objection to PUA stuff is based on a certain view of PUA I don't think is accurate. In fact, one of the most helpful things to me about PUA was the idea that each person has an individual set of "attraction switches" and it's just a matter of finding them. This freed me up a lot.

And from what I've seen of measurable differences between men and women, they exist as averages over large groups, but they are dwarfed by individual variances.

I don't really think this is an issue of the differences between men and women. In fact, I think most of the PUA ideas apply equally well to men and women, because they're observations on human psychology. PUA gets applied mostly to women because it's mostly men who go after women, not because women are so different than men. The relevant distinction here is "friends" vs. "people you are attracted to and want to go after" -- a lot of PUA advice consists of distinguishing behaviors for these two categories -- not men vs. women.

And ultimately I worry about the damage that the PUA mindset does to relations between men and women as human beings--lord knows, reading Roissy's blog doesn't leave me with a lot of hope for the species.

I'm tempted to say "but Roissy is an idiot who has nothing to do with PUA!" However, I'm wary of committing the One True Scotsmen fallacy, and I suppose I have to admit that there is a portion of the PUA blogosphere that is misogynistic. I don't think that his blog is representative of most of the valuable stuff in the PUA community, and in fact his blog has been described as more of a "men going their own way" blog.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 02:45:31AM *  2 points [-]

Your objection to PUA stuff is based on a certain view of PUA I don't think is accurate. In fact, one of the most helpful things to me about PUA was the idea that each person has an individual set of "attraction switches" and it's just a matter of finding them. This freed me up a lot.

Can you point me to a page that espouses that view? I googled for it and found this: http://www.seductionbase.com/seduction/cat/In_the_Middle/EC/218.html -- but it seems the opposite of what you're saying, as it's a list of "attraction switches" that will supposedly work for "most women." Now granted, they're all generically good things ("TRUST" and "CONFIDENCE" and "CHEMISTRY" are all fine things in a relationship, sure) but there's no mention of individual variation or any conception that different women may be looking for different things. Instead, the message is: flip these switches and "she's really going to be into you"! And then at the end the author writes "I'd love to see another list: of the switches to flip for a ONS [One Night Stand] -- the switches that over-ride the social programming and make her crave that adventure and abandon. " Like I said, it's women as androids. Flip the switches, override the programming, badda bing badda boom.

It just seems like a juvenile fantasy--women as sex robots, available to anyone who knows the override code. Not the kind of outlook that's actually going help a lonely guy make a genuine connection with a woman.

Comment author: Blueberry 10 February 2011 04:50:40AM 0 points [-]

Well, this kind of systematizing and abstraction is really helpful when you don't know what to do or how to start a relationship. And it's useful to have some defaults that work pretty well, most of the time, before you get to know someone.

I actually think that seeing women as acting based on a specific pattern, that has reasons behind it and that can be understood with time and practice, rather than a baffling and impenetrable mystery, is exactly what will help a lonely guy make a genuine connection.

Can you point me to a page that espouses that view?

there's no mention of individual variation or any conception that different women may be looking for different things.

I got the insight that everyone has different attraction switches from a conversation with someone, not a web page, and I'm not as familiar with what material is available online. However, HughRistik wrote two comments about this topic with a few links to pages that might be relevant.

Comment deleted 23 January 2011 05:51:27AM *  [-]
Comment deleted 23 January 2011 06:04:24AM [-]
Comment author: cousin_it 23 January 2011 06:07:48AM *  2 points [-]

Sorry. My comment wasn't very thought out, so I deleted it immediately after posting. I'd rather not be having this argument here and now.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 06:25:43AM 7 points [-]

No problem. I deleted my reply to it as well.

I also just want to remark that, the first time I saw this happen on Less Wrong -- where two people were getting into a discussion of escalating snarkiness, until one of them apologized and retracted a remark -- I just about fell out of my chair. I mean, people don't do that on the Internet! It actually clinched my interest in this forum and the material here.

Comment author: rabidchicken 24 January 2011 02:49:31AM 1 point [-]

I really wish your approach was not so unusual... You would be doing humanity (and nerds) a favour if you wrote your own guide to dating for women. I don't think one book would change the insanity of human interaction, but it would probably help.

Comment author: [deleted] 21 January 2011 06:22:54PM *  10 points [-]

I'm atypical, but here's my take:

Some of it is common sense (she who cares least wins; look your best; avoid certain "turn-off" subjects; have standards regarding hygiene and considerateness.)

Some of it sounds distasteful (withholding personal information and intimacy sounds like a bad idea for relationships, but then again I may tend to be too trusting. The focus on "closing the deal" by making sure you marry within two years of meeting someone also seems problematic. I suspect these people do not care as much as I do about intellectual/emotional compatibility.)

Some of it is frankly unrealistic (gifts of flowers are not typical in all social circles. Making the man pay for everything is not always practical.)

From what I've seen of "The Rules" it's structurally different from PUA. PUA has a lot in common with marketing, and also a lot in common with general social skills advice. "Rules"-style dating advice for women is generally not an exercise in teaching social skills to awkward women. It's more about being strategic at dating (an area of life where admittedly too many people refuse to even consider using reasoned strategy.) It's hard to see how you could test whether it works, though. To see if PUA works, just go out and see if you can pick up women. To see if The Rules work, you have to see if you can marry an (implicitly rich) man -- that's a much longer time frame and you don't get as many trials!

Comment author: Jack 21 January 2011 08:11:15PM *  32 points [-]

Someone needs to write a Romantic comedy/tragedy where two people fall in love but they can never get together because the man is following PUA and the woman is following The Rules. They keep rushing to be the one to end phone conversations and both are always pretending to be too busy to go out with each other. The woman won't have sex until she gets flowers and the man won't give flowers until they have sex. Since both methods work they just fall more and more madly in love with each other but can never tell each other for fear of seeming too needy or desperate.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 04:33:14PM 6 points [-]

If they were both following the online dating rules someone linked to earlier, it would all be over very quickly. Neither would reply to an email before at least 3 days have passed, but both ignore anyone who doesn't reply to an email within 3 days.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 24 January 2011 03:55:39PM 3 points [-]

Not showing too much enthusiasm sounds like a low risk low reward strategy.

Comment author: ata 24 January 2011 12:19:52AM 3 points [-]

Hmm. That sounds like dating is an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma. (And PUA, The Rules, etc. are guides to defecting?)

Comment author: wedrifid 24 January 2011 03:44:43AM 1 point [-]

And PUA, The Rules, etc. are guides to defecting?

Well, at least the "delay reply to gain power" gambit is the rest vary. :)

Comment author: Zvi 25 January 2011 10:35:40PM *  2 points [-]

Any dating filter that doesn't filter out itself is clearly not a very good filter!

Comment author: JoshuaZ 21 January 2011 08:17:29PM 4 points [-]

A variant of this has been discussed in xkcd. I don't think that Munroe thought about the consequences as you have.

Comment author: Document 21 January 2011 08:34:21PM *  5 points [-]

It would be a bunch of girls playing hard to get, not returning phone calls, and a bunch of guys consequently moving on to other girls.

-- sockthepuppetry

Comment author: rastilin 23 January 2011 05:21:02PM 1 point [-]

That would end pretty quickly. PUA tells you to drop a woman if she seems cagey about going out or you're not making progress by the second date. It's very much a numbers game, there are tens of thousands of unattached women in even the smallest city and on average, 4% are willing to do anything without any PUA skills being applied; if it's not working out just give up and go find someone else.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 December 2012 02:20:22AM 0 points [-]

there are tens of thousands of unattached women in even the smallest city

Depends on what you count as a city vs as a town. A settlement of 60,000 will likely have about 30,000 women, about 12,000 of whom will be post-pubescent but pre-menopausal (and many guys will have stricter age limits than that), about 4000 of whom will be unattached.

Comment author: MartinB 24 January 2011 07:49:06AM 1 point [-]

Someone needs to write a Romantic comedy/tragedy where two people fall in love but....

Romantic comedies assume there is a predestined partner who one ends up with after a series of ups and downs and a big showdown. That is not so in real life where everyone just moves on after a while. The fiction of romantic movies can really hurt the expectations of reality. Maybe someday someone researches the effect of chick flicks on the amount of unhappy involuntary singles due to unrealistic expectations.

Comment author: sark 22 January 2011 02:15:02PM 1 point [-]

Thankfully, our built-in (if imperfect) deontological-acausal ethics usually prevents that from happening to most of us.

Comment author: shokwave 24 January 2011 01:52:37AM 8 points [-]

The Rules is a filter women can apply to their dating. Being manipulated by, or at least not bothered by, certain things on that list (like double standards with responding), correlates strongly with desired personality traits. Most people will get bored with Rules-girls and move on. The ones that don't are far more likely to be the type desired. Assuming a dating woman knows what she desires, that is - I wager women using the Rules aren't as aware of what they are selecting for as pick-up artists are.

On PUA, the same thing applies: if you think those techniques wouldn't work on you, well, you're not the type pick-up artists are after.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 21 January 2011 07:19:41PM 1 point [-]

Part of what you label as common sense, avoiding certain "turn-off" subjects is on the list of things I don't understand. Why shouldn't people talk about their exes? Presumably if someone was an SO or close to being an SO then they were, you know, significant. Not talking about them places a substantial limit on what subjects the person is able to talk about. And are guys really so insecure that they feel uncomfortable just being reminded that the person they are dating has had other relationships?

Comment author: HughRistik 21 January 2011 09:22:38PM 4 points [-]

A big reason is that talk about exes can easily turn emotionally negative. Many mainstream people don't seem to be on good terms with their exes.

Comment author: lukeprog 21 January 2011 09:41:42PM 1 point [-]

Lol, I'm curious: What does "mainstream people" mean in this context? People who have romantic relationships that fail in a way that sometimes causes frustration and resentment?

Comment author: HughRistik 21 January 2011 10:06:55PM *  7 points [-]

Most gender-typical people. They have more drama. It's a lot easier for high IQ, gender-atypical nerdy folks with good impulse control to be on good terms with their exes.

Comment author: wnoise 24 January 2011 08:35:17AM 3 points [-]

Especially if their exes are also high IQ, gender-atypical nerdy folks with good impulse control.

Comment author: HughRistik 24 January 2011 06:35:07PM 1 point [-]

Exactly.

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 02:28:24PM 0 points [-]

One might think this is due to a lack of supply.

I see the emotional ups and downs of many people with more and more amazement of why anyone would want to life like that.

Comment author: rastilin 24 January 2011 06:55:43AM 1 point [-]

Aside from the possibility that you had a bad breakup and you end up complaining for several minutes, which isn't a good sign in a date. It raises the question of "What did those people find out about this person that I don't know yet that it caused them to break up with them.".

Comment author: wedrifid 24 January 2011 08:33:32AM 2 points [-]

And: "If he is bitching about his ex to me then chances are he would bitch about me to others too." Possibly applies even more for boasting.

Comment author: HughRistik 24 January 2011 08:20:27AM 0 points [-]

Yes. Complaining about your breakup allows the other person to locate and privilege various unsavory hypotheses about you which may or may not be fair. Don't let people do this. You aren't being more "honest" by giving people true information that will bias them.

Comment author: Jack 21 January 2011 08:04:56PM *  3 points [-]

31. Don't Discuss The Rules with Your Therapist.

Anyone read the book and can explain what this is about?

Is this like "Don't discuss Heaven's Gate with your family"?

Comment author: Anatoly_Vorobey 21 January 2011 09:43:12PM *  5 points [-]

Sort of. I haven't read the book but was sufficiently amused to look this one up. They give three reasons: your therapist may think The Rules are manipulative and dishonest and dissuade you; your therapist may not realize how clueless and pathetic you are when you fall for a guy, if you don't have The Rules to protect you; you don't want to start debating this topic with your therapist, you'll lose your resolve to stick to The Rules.

Comment author: Zvi 25 January 2011 10:52:39PM 2 points [-]

I think it's more like "Don't discuss Zeus with your Rabbi."

Comment author: TheOtherDave 21 January 2011 05:39:45PM 7 points [-]

I wonder how this translates to the dynamics of communities where sexual attraction isn't constrained to opposite-sex pairings.

Comment author: cousin_it 22 January 2011 08:30:37AM *  2 points [-]

Very good point, I hadn't thought about that. Does there exist effective dating advice for gay people? It might be illuminating.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 22 January 2011 04:31:44PM 4 points [-]

Nothing I know of that's analogously mass-marketed.

Dan Savage is moderately popular in this space, but I suspect that he is to dating advice what talk radio is to political analysis: entertaining, vaguely topical, and mostly non-data-driven. Mostly his advice is to be attractive (exercise, grooming, etc.) and forthright (ask for what you want, walk away from what you don't want), which isn't bad advice as far as it goes.

More generally, there seems to be a sentiment in the gay male community that "playing hard to get" (which a lot of dating advice for het women seems to advise, and a lot of "dating" advice for het men seems to advise ways of neutralizing) is mostly a female thing, and gay guys simply shouldn't bother.

I have no particular reason to believe that this is <i>true</i>, though. In fact, I've seen enough queer men fascinated by the "is he or isn't he?" game with respect to attractive men of unspecified orientation that I rather doubt it. (I don't know if the analogous game is popular among queer women, though I'd be somewhat surprised if it weren't.)

That said, there was so much coyness ineluctably built into the gay dating scene by the fear of punishment for so long that I guess it's unsurprising that deliberate coyness is officially rejected. That rejection will probably fade as it becomes more and more taken for granted, as it seems to be becoming, that gay people can be publicly visible as romantic/sexual beings without risking assault or other forms of "reprisal".

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 04:24:11AM *  3 points [-]

For an example parallel to PUA, men may get squicked by this advice for women, even though they know it works.

That's an interesting list. A lot of those serve as general advice that tends to be given to guys too.

  • Always look great, whatever your income.
  • Never reveal information you don't have to. An enigmatic [man] drives [women] wild.
  • Try and stay in shape and involve some fitness regime at a gym.
  • Never be available when he wants you to be.
  • If he is available Tuesday, you are available Thursday.
  • Ensure you are a good kisser.
  • Never ever talk about previous [girlfriends], particularly their prowess in the bedroom. Your ex-[girlfriends] are your business only.
  • Never assume anything about your date until you choose to know him better. You cannot always tell by looking.
  • Never ever come across as too available or too desperate. [She] will run a mile.
  • If the [girl] in the corner is gorgeous, go get [her] and create the need in [her] for you. Never wait for [women] to come to you because you may watch [her] leave with someone else.
  • If you want a child, don't mention it on the first few dates.
  • Never ever criticize [her] mother unless you want to remain single.

Then there are some tips about evaluation strategies that guys tend to be warned to consider:

  • If any man shows the slightest signs of possessiveness or insecurity, run like the wind. Life is too short for boys.
  • If his shoes or hygiene are a disgrace, dump him.

(Yup. Shoes, and insecurity. Those two are the big ones in fashion and behavioral signalling respectively.)

Then there are others that guys are often suggested strategies for dealing with. (Such strategies vary rather a lot depending on individual identity, what kind of relationship is desired and pure arbitrariness.)

  • Let your man pay. If he is interested, he is interested enough to ensure you eat well and get home safely in a cab.

Often I'll do this as a hat tip to tradition or as a pure matter of convenience. It depends a bit on the girl. Sometimes it will pay for a meal then say, for example, that now she can take me and buy me icecream. With respect to the attitude conveyed in the above tip, if a girl does expect me to pay and conveys that then I expect her to do so from the position that it is a gesture that she appreciates, not her prerogative. I am not paying for her time, the transaction is 'time and company' for 'time and company'. She isn't a hooker!

  • Ensure you receive flowers. If he doesn't know what a florist is, dump him.

I like how the unreasonable tips come with "dump him" instructions. Dumping her would be hard work after all. Flowers are to add flavour of novelty within an established relationship and even then subject to preference.

  • Keep dates brief, but your men interested. Less is always more.

Yawn. Organising dates is a significant overhead. Short is the opposite of interesting to me.

  • Never ever sleep with a guy until he has fallen for you. Sex early in your dating game plan will ruin everything.

I have found sex too early in the relationship to sometimes be a mixed blessing. Primarily because it can sometimes cover over incompatibility or lack of other common interests. But I don't think that is what the tip is getting at (which is defintely squick).

  • Always keep a guy waiting and never turn up early. It is a lady's perogative.

I prefer to arrange meetings where no waiting for either party is required and there is a minimum of inconvenience if someone flakes. Apart from that there are all sorts of ways to handle this and other sorts of power play in a way that eliminates deliberate discourtesy while providing the best experience for both parties. That's where sharing strategies and successes with others who have found ways to handle a situation comes in handy.

  • Weekend shopping trips with girlfriends are sacred and not available for dates.

Sure, whatever. Just assume an approximately constant pool of 'asking out's with two or three potential times given for each ask out. Calibrate availability and acceptance accordingly.

From what I observe of my own behaviour in general, if doing something does not work then I go and do something (or in this case someone) else. Einstein would call that 'not being insane'.

  • Keep your man standing on quicksand by shifting landmarks and goalposts constantly.

I have fond memories of the time back in my teenage years when I realised that in dating, as in the rest of life, the only goalposts I have to worry about are my own. The approval of others is sometimes useful and sometimes it is fun to play other people's games. But other times it is more fun to reverse them or ignore them outright.

  • Never talk too much about your father and how your date measures up in comparison.
  • You may well have all the bodily functions of a man, just try not to demonstrate them early on.

(Whatever.)

  • Always reply to emails at least 3 days after receipt.
  • A man who doesn't reply to your email within 3 days should be ignored.

Now there is some real squick. My biggest peeve is bullshit double standards like that. Fortunately they are self screening once again.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 23 January 2011 04:41:44AM 4 points [-]

Some of these seem also just designed to cause maximum drama. Consider:

Let your man pay. If he is interested, he is interested enough to ensure you eat well and get home safely in a cab.

Many females I've dated get actively offended if I the guys try to pay rather than splitting the bill. And frankly, they have a right to be offended, giving the historical double standards that are associated with this sort of thing. That someone is trying to get females to insist on this while others use it as a test in the opposite direction? Yeah, this isn't going to lead to problems at all.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 05:03:13AM 12 points [-]

Many females I've dated get actively offended if I the guys try to pay rather than splitting the bill. And frankly, they have a right to be offended

I wouldn't want to deny anyone the right to be offended at anything they please but for my part I would bid them politely goodnight and delete their phone number. Getting actively offended over things that are not a big deal is a huge red flag. It indicates either specific emotional issues or a generally high maintenance personality. I'll leave those girls to you Josh. :)

Some sample sane responses in such circumstances:

  • No, we'll split it.
  • Hey, none of that, Neanderthal! (With a smile and or fake arm slap to indicate lightheartedness. Equivalent to assertiveness with humor.)

Ideal response:

  • Sure, but I've got the next one!

This follows from a general principle that a propensity for taking offence is an unattractive trait and an indicator of immature boundaries. If you want something different ask for it or actively make it happen.

Comment author: anon895 24 January 2011 01:19:11PM 0 points [-]
  • No, we'll split it.

From what I've read, being able to credibly offer a free meal is a critical tool in some men's dating arsenal. Changing it to "well, if you want I'll pay, but I'd be really grateful if you'd chip in too" could leave him substantially weakened. Her making decisions on his behalf and talking about them as a couple after one date also seems like a bad sign.

  • Hey, none of that, Neanderthal! (With a smile and or fake arm slap to indicate lightheartedness. Equivalent to assertiveness with humor.)

"Ha, ha! It's funny because she insulted me and dismissed my sex's relevance as economic agents!"

  • Sure, but I've got the next one!

"So just because I was curious enough to spend some money to get to know her better, suddenly I'm at her beck and call? What kind of spineless plaything does she see me as?"

...and that's one of many reasons I hope I don't need to date.

Comment author: wedrifid 25 January 2011 02:55:51AM *  6 points [-]

Wow. All those could technically be valid interpretations. That's where things like body language and confidence come in. There is something to be said for interpreting everything in the best possible light. Occasionally (dependent highly on context) even when you know they intended it to be critical. (Although in this case they didn't).

  • Hey, none of that, Neanderthal! (With a smile and or fake arm slap to indicate lightheartedness. Equivalent to assertiveness with humor.)

"Ha, ha! It's funny because she insulted me and dismissed my sex's relevance as economic agents!"

For my part I find the ability to mock tradition and culture without getting personally insulted by it kind of endearing. In this case, again depending rather significantly on cues in the context, I would quite possibly go ahead and be sure to open doors for her and move her to the side of the pavement farthest from the road. Because teasing each other is fun, life isn't meant to be taken seriously and, incidentally, because it would be role playing the masculine stereotype light-heartedly.

Incidentally I don't consider 'Neanderthal' to be an insult. Neanderthals were awesome. ;)

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 04:59:18AM 6 points [-]

Many females I've dated get actively offended if I the guys try to pay rather than splitting the bill. And frankly, they have a right to be offended, giving the historical double standards that are associated with this sort of thing.

I have to admit, when I was dating, I would always offer to pay half the bill -- but I never went on a second date with any guy who took me up on it. I know this goes against the general policy of forthrightness that I otherwise followed, and I can't really defend the practice rationally. It probably was an area where I was following drives I didn't fully understand, maybe something about finding a man who was capable of the old-fashioned, stand-up, protect & provide business.

In any case I would definitely advise men to offer to pay on the first date. I mean, don't insist on it, but showing that you have money, and aren't stingy with it, is generally an attractive thing.

Comment author: Alicorn 23 January 2011 08:12:46PM 3 points [-]

When my date pays for things/establishes a trend of paying for things, it gives me permission not to fuss about money. I am very, very inclined to fuss about money if any of the money involved is mine, so I find it a huge load off my mind. (I go on first dates prepared to pay half if my date seems to prefer this idea when I ask, but preparing to do that before every date with a person I intended to see regularly would be rapidly exhausting for me, so I'd be leery of going on dates-that-could-cost-money with someone who doesn't demonstrate an inclination to pay - though this doesn't preclude 100% of possible second dates.)

Example: I recently dated a guy who took me out to movies (he paid), and we were trying to think of something else to do besides see movies. I proposed snow tubing, but then discovered that the only snow tubing place open in the area which had a device to pull the tubes up the hill was expensive. I dithered to him about this. If he had said something like "don't worry about that, I've got it", we would have gone snow tubing. He did not, so we didn't. (This didn't preclude another movie date after this non-event.)

Comment author: JoshuaZ 24 January 2011 01:02:59AM *  7 points [-]

I think the relevant joke and intended consequences is something like:

  1. I insert an obvious derogatory remark about a tribal group you are very loosely affiliated with.

  2. Since I am closely affiliated with that tribal group, this comment acts as a countersignal and ironically signals affiliation with that group. This also works because the group in question has a history of countersignaling in this fashion and calling it "humor".

  3. Since a disproportionate fraction up LW readers have past or present emotional connections to that tribal group, this raises my status at LW.

  4. (Something else very Hansonian occurs here)

  5. Profit.

ETA: And actually, this post also signals affiliation with nerdy internet people. Now if only I can find a way to simultaneous signal with people concerned about FAI and signal affiliation with paperclip maximizers, then I'm all set.

Comment author: Nornagest 26 January 2011 07:07:45PM 1 point [-]

Voted up for being funny. This probably proves some kind of point, doesn't it?

Comment author: arundelo 24 January 2011 06:10:51AM 5 points [-]

This is a nice example of a division of labor based on relative strengths (at least when your partner does not happen to have a similar aversion). For me, such a division is preferable to the idea that roles in (heterosexual) relationships are determined by the sexes of the respective partners.

Comment author: Alicorn 24 January 2011 12:43:05PM *  1 point [-]

Yeah, I'd have similar preferences if I dated a girl. (I have been in relationships with girls, but never in the "we will go to a place and spend money on food/an activity" style of relationship.)

Comment author: rastilin 25 January 2011 10:44:03AM -1 points [-]

You mean the relative strengths of having money versus being a woman? I'm not seeing the division here.

Comment author: shokwave 25 January 2011 10:54:21AM 1 point [-]

The division is that Alicorn is not strong with money; she lets her date sort out the money because (while not necessarily strong with money absolute) they are stronger with money than her. Relatively, the date is stronger, so they do the labour of paying.

One possible reason for someone being strong with money is they have lots of it.

Arundelo is making the point that it could have turned out that Alicorn was strong with money and her date was not; in this case Alicorn would have paid. It was not a case of "man pays, woman doesn't." It was a case of "those who can most pay, pay."

Comment author: rastilin 25 January 2011 11:06:33AM *  1 point [-]

That's not the impression I got. The date ended up paying because Alicorn didn't want to, and the date not paying would have led to fewer dates. She stated she was prepared to pay half, not prepared to pay full like her date was doing.

(I go on first dates prepared to pay half if my date seems to prefer this idea when I ask, but preparing to do that before every date with a person I intended to see ?regularly would be rapidly exhausting for me, so I'd be leery of going on dates-that-could-cost-money with someone who doesn't demonstrate an inclination to pay

In the comment just next to mine, she says...

Yeah, I'd have similar preferences if I dated a girl. (I have been in relationships with girls, but never in the "we will go to a place and spend money on food/an activity" style of relationship.)

Which illustrates the reasoning behind PUA advice being to split the bill. It explicitly states that she should only bother spending time with you for your company. If the idea that you two would work out something that didn't involve spending money never comes up, then she just wasn't into you.

Comment author: shokwave 25 January 2011 12:35:01PM 0 points [-]

That's not the impression I got.

It's the impression arundelo got exactly, unless I miss my mark.

Comment author: arundelo 26 January 2011 03:13:41AM *  0 points [-]

The relative strengths of having money versus whatever Alicorn is strong at.

(To be precise, it's a matter of comparative advantage rather than strength, with the proviso that if Alicorn's partner is even worse than her at spending money, they probably won't do many spending-money dates at all.)

Comment author: JoshuaZ 23 January 2011 08:31:28PM -1 points [-]

When my date pays for things/establishes a trend of paying for things, it gives me permission not to fuss about money. I am very, very inclined to fuss about money if any of the money involved is mine, so I find it a huge load off my mind.

Resisting temptation to make obvious joke about your paternal ancestry...

Comment author: wedrifid 24 January 2011 12:04:58AM 0 points [-]

I've scoured the paragraph for possible allusions to make. None of the jokes I can construct are obvious enough to be particularly funny. Bother.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 24 January 2011 12:35:34AM *  4 points [-]

Alicorn is of Jewish ancestry on the paternal side. The real issue is that the obvious jokes just aren't very funny.

Comment author: Alicorn 24 January 2011 12:47:45AM *  -2 points [-]

I'm not even sure what the "obvious jokes" are given the hint about my dad's side of the family being Jewish.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 24 January 2011 12:52:38AM 3 points [-]

Something along the lines of "ah, and here we see confirmation of your Jewish ancestry." The joke I was thinking of was simply that your concerns about money as expressed fit very well with negative stereotypes about Jews and money. It really isn't that funny and is probably anti-humorous when one has to explain it to this level.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 05:07:33AM *  3 points [-]

<indication of scorn for whoever it was who downvoted the parent for honesty and self awareness/>

Mind you the parent completely reverses the impression given by the earlier comment of "Wow, that's an attitude of the perfect girl for a nerd to be dating!"

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 05:28:56AM 3 points [-]

Mind you the parent completely reverses the impression given by the earlier comment of "Wow, that's an attitude of the perfect girl for a nerd to be dating!"

I know! I wasn't even aware of it as inconsistent at the time.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 23 January 2011 05:20:17AM 2 points [-]

Mind you the parent completely reverses the impression given by the earlier comment of "Wow, that's an attitude of the perfect girl for a nerd to be dating!"

Well, humans have lots of different behaviors and variation. It is extremely unlikely that anyone is going to be perfect. Moreover, everyone is influenced by cultural norms. As far as I can tell, that sort of thing is evidence more that people should try not to use any single warning sign as an absolute deal-killer unless it is very severe.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 January 2011 05:43:33AM 1 point [-]

It is extremely unlikely that anyone is going to be perfect.

Naturally. siduri's earlier comment indicated that she was an extreme outlier in terms of preferences and and proactive forthrightness. This additional trait just serves as a regression to the mean.

Comment author: taryneast 24 January 2011 11:42:38AM 2 points [-]

I have never had a guy offer to pay for my dinner. I guess Aussie blokes just don't tend to do that kind of thing. I think that if anyone ever did - I'd be so surprised that I'd accept. I'd certainly be happy to pay for the next meal (or coffee or whatever).

I'm told that, during WWII, the American soldiers that were stationed in Australia cleaned up on the dating scene - because they happened to still use those traditional behaviours. ;)

I totally understand the inclination to get upset if being treated unfairly - but these days, I'm pretty sure that most guys that hold a door open for you are not doing it because they think I'm incapable of doing it myself... so I smile and say thank you, and make sure I pay it forward for somebody else next time I have the opportunity.

Comment author: khafra 25 January 2011 12:01:27AM 3 points [-]

It seems that, steadfast allies as American GIs may have been to the ANZAC forces during combat, on the home front they were ruthless-if unknowing-defectors

Comment author: MartinB 23 January 2011 06:13:17PM 2 points [-]

but I never went on a second date with any guy who took me up on it

I doubt you followed that rule consistently. It looks like to much of a unimportant minimal indicator that should be superseded by the rest of the date.

But if you poll enough women you will find many such statements that contradict with the ones other women give. Getting angry for paying the bill, getting angry for not paying the bill. Expecting him to hold the door. Getting angry holding doors for her. There is no standard rule set to follow. And i find it ridiculous how women (or anyone) expect others to just know what they want without ever bothering to tell them.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 07:02:46PM 6 points [-]

Another way of thinking about it might be that "paying the bill" or "not holding the door" are indicators of the man's personality, rather than terminal values of the woman. In this case, telling the man "I expect you to pay the bill" is counter-productive. It doesn't actually achieve anything the woman wants -- what she wants (in this hypothetical) is a man that would do this on his own. It merely eliminates "paying the bill" as a useful indicator of personality.

Granted, this strategy doesn't work well on a man who doesn't have an opinion on the matter and just wants to make the woman happy, but it's a plausible explanation.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 January 2011 07:35:41PM 3 points [-]

I think a lot of women are looking for a man who can create romantic experiences, start to finish, for them. I think that's what the "bill paying" business is really about. (If it were about money you could just ask what he does for a living.) And it's fun once in a while when someone has orchestrated an entire evening for you and taken care of all the details for you. But if you expect that regularly and don't reciprocate... I guess I disapprove of that. It reduces him to "The Guy Who Brings The Fun Stuff."

Comment author: anon895 24 January 2011 12:19:10PM *  2 points [-]

I got a little angry reading that (didn't follow the original link), but I'm feeling too lazy to discard the post I wrote, so:

  • Never ever talk about previous [girlfriends], particularly their prowess in the bedroom. Your ex-[girlfriends] are your business only.

Thereby signalling to her (if she were rational) that she'll be equally a nonentity to you in a year, and/or (if you actively avoid the subject) that you handled your past relationships badly and are likely to do the same for your next.

  • Never assume anything about your date until you choose to know him better. You cannot always tell by looking.

If I had video of every time that was hilariously bad advice for me back when I still expected human statements to necessarily mean things, I expect I could make a substantially better contribution to this thread.

  • If the [girl] in the corner is gorgeous, go get [her] and create the need in [her] for you. Never wait for [women] to come to you because you may watch [her] leave with someone else.

This appears to be a disguised problem statement: "If she perceives you as pursuing her, she'll run a mile, but if you wait for her to pursue you she won't. Therefore, use magic." So glad I'm a lifestyle-aspie where the rule is "if you want something from someone, ask, if you don't think that'll work, offer something in exchange, if you don't have anything to offer, do without".

My imagined "stereotypical advice" version of that sentence is more like "If the girl in the corner is gorgeous, too bad. The girl who actually talks to you and affects an interest in you will be gorgeous too if you let yourself see it, and you don't want to miss out on her just because you're hung up on someone else that you probably didn't have a chance with anyway.

  • Never ever criticize [her] mother unless you want to remain single.

God, I love family-as-applause-light. Just seeing "criticize" and "mother" next to each other looks dirty. Mothers are sweet and upstanding ladies who work hard to take care of their daughters!

  • If his shoes or hygiene are a disgrace, dump him.

The lack of any definition of "disgrace" makes me want to look over the others to see if they fit the pattern of "blank canvas for the reader to project her already existing behavior on".

Often I'll do this as a hat tip to tradition or as a pure matter of convenience. It depends a bit on the girl. Sometimes it will pay for a meal then say, for example, that now she can take me and buy me icecream.

Should "it" be I?

She isn't a hooker!

Also love "hooker" as boo light.

I like how the unreasonable tips come with "dump him" instructions. Dumping her would be hard work after all.

Are you implying that the page is saying that men withhold flowers from women as a less hard alternative to dumping them directly?

Einstein would call that 'not being insane'.

...but probably didn't.

Comment author: wedrifid 25 January 2011 03:03:02AM *  2 points [-]

I got a little angry reading that (didn't follow the original link)

Just so long as you don't interpret it as avocation from me (except where explicitly indicated). It is, after all, a bunch of dating tips given to women and presented here because it may 'squick' guys. Mind you most of them did not squick me at all and even then it was just a "I wouldn't date her" reaction. But other people not getting offended at something is sometimes itself taken as offensive so I don't mind if you are angry at me too. :)

I know you mentioned that you hope you never have to date. For those that do date an attractive trait tends to be the ability to accept the dating patterns of the desired demographic without discontent. The signalling reason for this is obvious.

Thereby signalling to her (if she were rational) that she'll be equally a nonentity to you in a year, and/or (if you actively avoid the subject) that you handled your past relationships badly and are likely to do the same for your next.

I wouldn't call that rational. A rational girl would assume that I don't have my entire history written down on my sleeve for all to see. I don't speak of all the important things in my life in all conversations. I would call that girl 'paranoid'.

So glad I'm a lifestyle-aspie where the rule is "if you want something from someone, ask

Not a bad approach at all. Not universally effective but the screening/signalling combo would work well for some combinations. :)

My imagined "stereotypical advice" version of that sentence is more like "If the girl in the corner is gorgeous, too bad. The girl who actually talks to you and affects an interest in you will be gorgeous too if you let yourself see it, and you don't want to miss out on her just because you're hung up on someone else that you probably didn't have a chance with anyway.

In that vein the actual sentiment in the tip would translate to actively seeking out those other 'gorgeous', interesting/interested people too, rather than waiting passively.

God, I love family-as-applause-light. Just seeing "criticize" and "mother" next to each other looks dirty. Mothers are sweet and upstanding ladies who work hard to take care of their daughters!

'Applause light' is a little different from 'personal - don't insult'.

Should "it" be I?

No. Just no.

Also love "hooker" as boo light.

Framing, like it or not, is incredibly important when dating. A particularly aggressive framing of "If I do <date/kiss/sleep with> then I am entitled to <X> material resource>" is an indication that a certain kind of relationship will follow and to some extent the type of personality of the girl. Again, it is how it is framed that is important more so than who actually pays for stuff. It also depends what kind of relationship you want.

Some people in some circumstances are looking for a more overtly transactional relationship than a partnership - rich middle aged men having affairs for example. Which is somewhat different to the provider/dominant-partner role that a less aggressive expectation that he will pay may indicate.

Are you implying that the page is saying that men withhold flowers from women as a less hard alternative to dumping them directly?

Almost certainly. It's a male conspiracy. The CIA is probably involved too. And aliens. And if the flowers don't work the Tin Foil Hat will every time.

...but probably didn't.

No, quite probably not. The "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." attribution to Einstein is a cultural myth. But sometimes I humour culture on the little things. :)

Comment author: Zaine 15 April 2013 04:14:20AM *  0 points [-]

I prefer to arrange meetings where no waiting for either party is required and there is a minimum of inconvenience if someone flakes. Apart from that there are all sorts of ways to handle this and other sorts of power play in a way that eliminates deliberate discourtesy while providing the best experience for both parties. That's where sharing strategies and successes with others who have found ways to handle a situation comes in handy.

I had no idea such a thing were possible. Please share your strategies and successes for arranging those situations.

(I'm being purposely non-specific in the hopes of encouraging as much detail as possible; a good strategy for interviews and give-and-take, but for requesting particular information in an asynchronous exchange I'm unsure of its efficacy.)

Comment author: wedrifid 15 April 2013 04:37:07AM 0 points [-]

I had no idea such a thing were possible. Please share your strategies and successes for arranging those situations.

I presume wedrifid was essentially referring to making dates that were things you wanted to do anyway or meeting points where the waiting party has an alternative thing to be doing.

Comment author: Zaine 15 April 2013 04:51:45AM 0 points [-]

That was what I assumed, but to schedule a meeting where being late would not make the first arrival wait seems impossible to me. Perhaps a fair or festival? Those occur infrequently. A petting zoo? That's... not a bad idea, actually - but petting the animals would hardly be the main activity, and the animals could only entertain one for so long. At cinema one may feel to have been made to wait by seeing other tribes all around, even though the explicit activity is idle viewing. A talk? One may want to save a seat for the tardy party, but besides that a talk appears perfect.

Well, that's one "[meeting] where no waiting for either party is required...." I figured you or wedrifid might have a cache of events that fit that criterion and asked to hedge against figuratively 're-inventing the wheel'.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 15 April 2013 06:58:49AM 0 points [-]

I recommend sitting down and listing ten things you might do for fun, just because you enjoy them. Then look at that list and circle the ones that don't have a fixed start time (like zoos, fairs, festivals, museums, outdoor walks, amusement parks, beaches, etc. etc. etc.) If you haven't circled anything, repeat the exercise with another ten things you like to do. If the area where you live publishes a directory of local events, that's a useful place to start.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 December 2012 01:54:55AM 1 point [-]

Most of those don't offend me, and most of those that do offend me offend me because they're sexist, so I guess they wouldn't offend a counterfactual version of me who is more sexist. I suspect some of those are intended to be tongue-in-cheek. (But the one about e-mail immediately made me think about what would happen if both partners abode by it.)

Comment author: Will_Sawin 21 January 2011 10:33:54PM 1 point [-]

My reaction was that it's not very nice to intentionally titrate the time one spends interacting with me. It doesn't seem like anything else on the list is deceptive or otherwise squicky.