On Dread: A Reply to Susan Walsh

I like Susan Walsh. She understands the contemporary dating scene better than most. But she still has a few blind spots in her picture of the modern man.

Consider this post, in which she struggles with the (accurate) claim that instilling dread in a woman is often the best way to elicit good behaviour out of her. She writes:

The idea that a woman wants, even needs, to be treated like crap to appreciate her man is lunacy. It can only be effective in a highly dysfunctional relationship.

Which is correct, but with a caveat: Most relationships in 21st century North America ARE dysfunctional. Not all women respond well to being treated badly, but a lot do. As long as that is the case, men with options are going to continue being assholes.

Men are not evil by their nature. In fact, we are born with an innate drive to nurture and care for the women in their lives. There’s a romantic deep inside even the coldest player, and I’m pretty sure that had Roissy (and Roosh, Solomon, Krauser, Assanova, etc) lived in another age, they would have been happy as loving fathers and husbands. Probably happier than they are now.

But while men want to be nice, we want sex more. And in any long-term contest between being nice and getting laid, we will choose getting laid every time. With many women, treating them like crap is an effective way to make and keep them attracted.

It might be impossible for someone who isn’t fresh out of the college hook-up scene to believe it, but the harshest, cruelest, evilest advice that you will find from Roissy and others like him, actually does work. Insult and ignore a girl you’ve just met in a bar, and she’ll pine for you all night. Screen calls from your girlfriend occasionally, and her mind will spin with ideas for how to win back your affections. Cut off a casual hook-up abruptly without explanation, and she will always be ready to see you again at the drop of a text message.

Again: Men aren’t cruel for its own sake. If we are cruel, it’s because we are often richly rewarded for our cruelty. Tucker Max has a personal assistant sorting and categorizing his emails from hot, young women who want to sleep with him. How many love letters does Conor Friedesdorf get?

Young men today have started to understand that being a “nice guy” does not bring with it any earthly rewards. In times when men were rewarded for being decent, rather than for being aloof assholes, men did incredible things. They built civilizations. They worked their bodies into early graves to care for their wives and children. They killed and died for them.

Complaining about how men treat women is like complaining about the food at McDonalds. Sure, it’s crap. But it’s not Ronald McDonald’s fault. He’s just trying to make a buck. Similarly, don’t complain to men about how we’re acting. We’re just doing what we need to do to get laid.

But now, let’s consider the typical Hooking Up Smart reader. She understands that the hook-up scene is fucked. She wants out. She understands that her culture and biology compel her to be a shitty girlfriend to any guy who treats her nice, and she wants to overcome it.

After many hours reading Hooking Up Smart (and Grerp) she decides she wants a healthy, trusting, monogamous relationship with a good man who will be faithful, honest and kind.

She heads out into the world and finds… Roissy. And the men who read him. They don’t trust her, and they think the best way to get her in bed is to treat her badly. (Ladies, if you think this is the situation already, hold on to your panties – it’s going to get worse before it gets better.)

So what’s a girl to do, if she doesn’t want to get treated like dirt by the men she dates? Here’s my advice:

1) Find a nice guy

They’re out there. Find them in your classes, at parties, and campus organizations. Be good to him, and let him be good to you. If love and stability and monogamy are what you want, you can find it. Just don’t go looking for it on the rugby team.

2) Respond well to nice-guy behaviour

OK, fine, maybe you don’t want to date a nice guy. Biomechanics and all that. Maybe you want to date around. Maybe you just really, really want to date that hot flanker and you can live without a promise ring for now. How do you get him to treat you – if not like a princess – with kindness, respect, and affection?

Simply: Reward him when he is nice to you, don’t reward him when he’s mean.

I’ve been in many casual relationships, and trust me: I notice what sort of treatment a girl expects and desires early on.

Some girls don’t want anything more than the physical mechanics of sex, or at least prefer to tell themselves that. Fine by me.

Some girls will pull away and become slower to answer my texts if I show anything resembling affection, and will become more eager to please, the more uncaring I act.

And some girls – my favourite by far – want to connect, experience a bit of intimacy, share a post-coital snack, and mix in some affectionate love-making with the raw sex. They don’t want to play games, they don’t want me to disrespect them, and even if they just want to see me once a week, they want to be friends and lovers for the time we have together. It’s a cold, uncaring world out there – why not find a bit of love wherever you can?

Girls, try this strategy with a man you’re dating: Be sweet. Be caring. Expect the same from him. You may have to break down the wall of asshole he’s built up with his PUA readings and past experiences with “liberated” women, but maybe it’ll come down eventually.

If it doesn’t, take Susan’s advice:

If you are in a relationship where:

  • You give love freely and it is not returned
  • You are loyal and faithful but worry that your partner will cheat
  • You frequently worry that your partner will leave you
  • Your partner knowingly and callously hurts your feelings

…then you are in an unhealthy relationship with a narcissist. End it now. Walk away.

But first, give it the sweetness barrage a chance. You might be surprised to see what’s beneath a lot of the “Assholes” you know.