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December 08, 2008

Darwinian Dating and the Moral Cop Out

A gentleman named Eric wrote an interesting response to my earlier post on Darwinian Dating. I'm not sure he entirely understood the point I was making, but that's not surprising as I barely addressed the City Journal article. [Ed. note: Eric added this clarification tonight, so I may have misunderstood what he was getting at! Don't have time to look at his post again just now, but wanted to get his clarification up right away.]

Just to be clear, my post was responding to the City Journal article, not the VC blog post, so the "author" I'm referring to is Kay S. Hymowitz, not Cassandra.
However, I'd like to address his comments:
... a mutual relationship is not a juxtaposition of two independent entities, it is an interplay that builds upon itself, which means both the man and woman are more than equally responsible. Each is entirely responsible for the greater whole. Both have to give of themselves. A relationship can be unexpected in many ways, but at the core, there does have to be the same commitment and fidelity shared by both. If the commitment is there for one, but not the other, then there isn't a mutual relationship.

Perhaps I didn't express myself well. Here's what I wrote originally:

... relationships are supposed to be a two-way street, that's why. You can't love someone else until you have a strong sense of yourself. That doesn't mean being selfish and self centered; it means being secure enough in who you are that you can give freely to another human being without suspicion and pettiness, because marriage isn't always a 50-50 or even a 60-40 proposition. In hard times, you may be called upon to give 90 percent. Marriage means doing things you don't "feel" like without begrudging the giving. It means taking as much pleasure in pleasing your partner as you do in pleasing yourself.

Obviously things ought to balance out roughly over the years, but it doesn't always start out that way and people who keep hidden scorecards rarely succeed. What keeps things on an even keel is choosing someone with whom you're well matched and maintaining interests of your own to preserve some balance and keep the relationship fresh.

Perhaps I was too subtle - the foregoing passage assumed two people who were fairly evenly matched insofar as temperment and mutual affection. Note, however, that I didn't say they were exactly even. While I agree with Eric that both partners have to be committed to making the relationship work, I emphatically do not agree that their commitment must be equal.

In fact, I've seen many successful relationships where neither the love between two married people, the amount of work they put into the relationship, nor their commitment to it were equal. A lot of people won't like my saying that, but it's true.

People have different personalities. Some like being caretakers. Some are loners. Some are difficult to get along with, some enjoy pleasing others. Some have more of a dependent personality and some could happily go through life solo. For all of these reasons things will never be strictly equal in a marriage relationship and if you go into such a relationship thinking things will always be strictly fair and egalitarian, you are bucking for a massive disappointment. Life simply doesn't work that way.

What is absolutely necessary for a successful long term relationship is that, in the end, both parties get what they want, keeping in mind that they may have very different requirements. So long as the benefits continue to outweigh the negative aspects, most people will continue to march along quite happily. But every long term relationship is a bit different. In the end, there is no requirement to get along with any other person except the one with whom one is involved (I say this because even the requirement to get along with family and friends is variable). The amount of "adjusting" or compromise one is called upon to perform is very much personality driven.

I have to say that as an older person I don't have a lot of patience with this sort of thinking, though I find it eminently understandable:

Beyond that, I don't know how it works for women. I've only had the barest taste of falling in love, but enough to know that nothing else I've experienced motivates me to become a better man like falling in love with a woman. For a relationship, a man pulls down the walls protecting his heart, bares himself, and makes himself vulnerable in order to give of himself to the woman he loves. There's anguish when she doesn't join him in the commitment. Further, there's a betrayal of faith when she, rather, seemingly gives of herself to other men whose behavior falls short of his love's standard. When his essential self is rejected, he is forced to evaluate his worth. The man is ready to transform for the relationship and, therefore, highly sensitized to the woman's feedback. Rejection is very compelling feedback, so when she rejects him in favor of something else, the man's instinct is to adapt to the preferences displayed by her. Thus, the woman's choice guides the man's choice. The rest, the player and the game, follows.

Men who've been rejected by the woman they love and have adapted their behaviors are often criticized for being selfish, but it's a painful process to rebuild the walls protecting one's wounded heart. You have to do it, but every time, those walls are built thicker and tougher and shut out more light.

Why am I reminded of an old song?

As I returned across the fields I'd known I recognized the walls that I once made Had to stop in my tracks for fear Of walking on the mines I'd laid

I'm sorry, but I don't buy this.

I've read a lot of science articles that prattle on about how the female does all the selecting. I think that's only part of the truth.

I do believe that men prefer selective females: in a competitive environment, men are more attracted to choosy women. But having been on the female end of the dating game for many years, I still remember what it was like, too.

I'm always slightly astounded to read some of the bitter comments men write about the other half of humanity. They make little or no sense.

Do men really believe women hold all the cards in relationships? If so, they're not paying attention. The best thing I ever read about men and women in relationships was written by Dave Barry. It can't help but ring painfully true to anyone with even an ounce of estrogen in her bloodstream:

Let's say a guy named Fred is attracted to a woman named Martha. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Martha, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"

And then, there is silence in the car.

To Martha, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.

And Fred is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Martha is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily towards, I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Fred is thinking: ...so that means it was...let's see...February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means...lemme check the odometer...Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

If that doesn't speak volumes about the difference between men and women, nothing does. Sometime during that six months Martha's world started to revolve around Fred. Her entire frame of reference stopped being "Martha and Martha's life" and became "Do Fred and I have a future together"? During her day, Fred pops into her thoughts constantly: she wonders if he is happy, what he thinks about various things, how she can make him happy, whether they'll see each other this weekend?

Fred, on the other hand, is thinking about his car. And the last thing on his mind is whether he and Martha have a future together. In fact, if the subject comes up (unless of course, it's his idea) it will very likely freak him out. In general, he will only want to settle down with her if he gets the idea he is likely to lose her to someone else or he has decided, for whatever reason, that it's time to settle down. Either way, the decision has very little to do with her as a person.

The idea that women in general have all the power in a relationship is really rather perverse.

Men and women respond to each other's cues as well as to the expectations of society. To flip Eric's scenario on its head, a woman who maintains high standards must compete in the marketplace with women who are willing to give men everything they want. Does he seriously think such women never get their hearts broken by men who date according to the Darwinian standard? Can't he understand that such self-serving behavior only reinforces the very traits he says he doesn't want to see in women - that it would tend to produce:

...a betrayal of faith when he, rather, goes for other women whose behavior falls short of her standard. When her essential self is rejected, she is forced to evaluate her worth. Women are highly sensitized to the man's feedback. Rejection is very compelling feedback, so when he rejects her in favor of something else, the woman's instinct is to adapt to the preferences displayed by him.

I'm not terribly impressed by the argument that someone else has "forced" you to be the way you are. Character is a decision you make every day, and it speaks volumes about your values. If you disapprove of slutty or self-involved behavior from women, don't reinforce that behavior by sinking to that level yourself. Demand better and lead by example.

There are always good women out there. Giving into cynicism doesn't make the world a better place; it's just a surrender to the very values you despise. I'm not sure how that improves the situation any.

And in fact it begs the question: if you engage in this type of behavior, how are you any better than the women who hurt you? Is that really the standard you want to set for yourself - that just because you were hurt, suddenly two wrongs make a right? I don't think that's what Eric meant to say, but that's the whole premise behind Darwinian dating and it's a morally bankrupt philosophy. Putting fancy words around it doesn't make it smell any better.

The bottom line is that Eric has the cart before the horse. He says that nothing makes him want to be a better person like falling in love with a woman. But that is exactly backwards. If you wish to find someone who is worthy of your love, don't you think perhaps you ought to be a person worthy of respect and love, yourself?

As I said in my last post, it all begins with you and your values. Don't look to someone else to "make" you want to be a better person. Be a better person because that is important to you. None of us can count on finding someone else to share our lives with, but we can decide to live our lives in a manner consistent with our values. If we surrender our integrity to the expectations of others, we truly have nothing.

Posted by Cassandra at December 8, 2008 06:22 AM

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Comments

None of us can count on finding someone else to share our lives with, but we can decide to live our lives in a manner consistent with our values. If we surrender our integrity to the expectations of others, we truly have nothing.

Thanks for the reminder, Cassandra. :)

That is the catch-22 these days though, isn't it...

When we compromise something essential (values/standards/beliefs) to get what we think will make us happy, it doesn't seem to make us happy at all.

Posted by: FbL at December 8, 2008 10:26 AM

"After a time, you may find that having is not so fine a thing as wanting. It is not logical, but it is sometimes true."

-Mr. Spock, from "Amok Time", first broadcast in 1967, when I was a late adolescent.

Seems as true today as many years ago, FbL. I think it is just part of the very flawed nature of the world we live in. Find happiness and joy where you can. It can be fleeting.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 8, 2008 11:27 AM

I think that works on any number of levels, Don; no less for those of us who are married than those who are single.

The reality of a thing is rarely what we imagined it to be. I think much of whether we are happy or not depends on our own decisions.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 8, 2008 11:59 AM

Well, we all imagine "how things are going to be" when we "grow up"
Well, as the Joni Mitchell song goes,"his dreams have lost a lot of grandeur coming true."

But there are always the unexpected joys and revelations that come in life, those things un-looked for. The minor miracles that seem to make life a little magical once in blue moon.

I hope FbL finds a good man, as does Miss Ladybug, and both find a measure of happiness and fulfillment in this world. Because as the other song goes,"This thing they call livin' is just a hard way to go."

And livin' is all too fleeting a thing.

And this post reminds me that I've got to change the oil in my car. :)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 8, 2008 01:26 PM

While I'm still trying to absorb the whole post, I do have one nit to pick.

Fred, on the other hand, is thinking about his car.
While strickly speaking is true, it is a misinterpretation of the situation. For example, all people understand that running clean water is darn near essential to most people's survival. But how many people spend their time worrying about the pipes in their house? That is, until one breaks?

And thus it is with many men and relationships. It's not that the relationship isn't paramount to their being, it is.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 8, 2008 01:55 PM

Character is a decision you make every day, and it speaks volumes about your values.

I disagree, I believe John Worfin said it best when he said:

"History is-a made at night. Character is what you are in the dark."

Posted by: MikeD at December 8, 2008 02:03 PM

... how many people spend their time worrying about the pipes in their house? That is, until one breaks?

*sigh*

Yu-Ain, I was (literally) counting the minutes until you piped up :p I will buy off on that. However, from a female perspective allow me to say this:

One of the things that drives women batsh*t crazy about men (and that we will never understand) is why an awful lot of guys never question that their cars, their houses, their careers, even professional relationships with their co-workers, bosses and clients will break down if they are not maintained and they diligently put the needed time and effort into making sure that doesn't happen, but these same men allow relationships with the women in their lives to founder because they aren't willing to put 1/10th of the same effort into maintaining them?

From where we sit, that often looks like being taken for granted.

That is not aimed at you, nor at anyone in particular. I think it's a tragedy when it happens. My husband doesn't do it. But I *do* see men do that all the time and no one is hurt or mystified more than they are when the woman in their life finally gives up and and walks away for good because she can't do it all alone. It takes two to have a relationship. There has to be reciprocity and if the other person isn't "present" or just shuts you out, after a while you start to feel invisible and unneeded.

The thing is, it should never be a surprise. Women don't just up and walk away all of a sudden. There are always lots and lots of warnings, usually ignored.

That said, I do agree with you. I just don't think you can ignore a relationship or take it for granted and expect it to last. Anything worth having is worth taking care of. If it's not even on your radar scope...

Well, I will leave that one to you.

,"This thing they call livin' is just a hard way to go."

I will always love that song.


Posted by: Cassandra at December 8, 2008 02:29 PM

find a measure of happiness and fulfillment in this world. Because as the other song goes,"This thing they call livin' is just a hard way to go."

That IS the interesting part... Most of us don't get to have everything we want...

I've got a whole lot of what I want--dear friends, a safe/comfortable life by the standards of 98% of this world, meaningful relationships with people who enrich my life by their wisdom and example, fulfillment in knowing that for all my faults and failings I do some small good in this world on a couple different fronts, and multitude small and everyday things I encounter that entertain me and make me glad to be alive.

With all of that, it's kind of hard to ask for more, isn't it...

There certainly IS something to be said for the idea of focusing on the good. In this case to focus on the good is a focus on the plenty, the presence. Whereas to focus on the bad is to leave oneself staring into the absence, a nothing... too much time doing the latter and all that open space will swallow you whole... and there goes the happiness and fulfillment in which you were immersed the whole time... ;)

Posted by: FbL at December 8, 2008 02:30 PM

Character is what you are in the dark."

Posted by: MikeD at December 8, 2008 02:03 PM

I guess I think of character as the accumulation of a whole lot of small decisions you made every single day - both the ones people see, and the ones they don't. The thing is, to me if you start cutting small corners when people are looking it becomes far harder not to compromise when no one is around.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 8, 2008 02:34 PM

The thing is, to me if you start cutting small corners when people are looking it becomes far harder not to compromise when no one is around.

It's easy to keep your hands out of the cookie jar when mom's standing right there. The trick is to remember when she leaves that, upon her return, she can always count the cookies.

Character is when mom knows she won't have to count the cookies.

Posted by: BillT at December 8, 2008 02:55 PM

The definition I like is that character is who you are when no one is watching.


One of the things that drives women batsh*t crazy about men (and that we will never understand) is why an awful lot of guys never question that their cars, their houses, their careers, even professional relationships with their co-workers, bosses and clients will break down if they are not maintained and they diligently put the needed time and effort into making sure that doesn't happen, but these same men allow relationships with the women in their lives to founder because they aren't willing to put 1/10th of the same effort into maintaining them?

I don't really disagree with the notion that men don't put near enough maintenance into their romantic relationships, but at the same time I will note that cars and clients haven't made a promise to be there tomorrow (which partly explains why Husband 1.0 is not an entertainment package like Boyfriend 5.0.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 8, 2008 04:16 PM

Well, I made the cookies last week, and as a matter of fact, I OWN the cookie jar at my house.

One of those small gratifications in growing up.

FbL, not to be Grim (as he is in Iraq now, I gather), but when you are 'young' (relatively speaking), it seems like a lot of thing are going your way, as it were.
But now, even when the paycheck is bigger and other things seem to have gone well, you start to realize that you may be closer to the end than to the beginning, and you find it harder to have that 'fulfillment' that you sometimes look for. What seemed fulfilling at 25 or 30, just doesn't quite do the same for you when you reach, uh, the later years, shall we say.
That's all. When I sometimes read the comments of some of the younger members of this 'Villainous Company', I just feel that sometimes I want to say more briefly than Cass' essay today,"Don't throw away a chance at real happiness by making the good the enemy of the perfect".
We can't always get what we want (is there a song in there somewhere?), but find the gladness in what we have, or what's possible.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 8, 2008 04:18 PM

Don, you mistake me for being younger than I am, perhaps. I sadly need none of the advice you so kindly offer, and the discusson of age and fulfillment is not a revelation to me.

We can't always get what we want (is there a song in there somewhere?), but find the gladness in what we have, or what's possible.

That's what I was trying to say. I guess I didn't do it too well..

Posted by: FbL at December 8, 2008 04:37 PM

FbL
You said it fine. I'm sorry if I came across as condescending.
I'll be 53 soon, so just humor my decrepitude. :)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 8, 2008 05:25 PM

I'll be 53 soon, so just humor my decrepitude.

*hysterical laughter muffled by distance*

Posted by: BillT at December 8, 2008 06:27 PM

Hey :)

I'm loving it! I'm turning the big 5-0 this year :p Yee-ha.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 8, 2008 06:41 PM

*smiling amusedly at Bill and Don*

Don, you weren't being condescending.

I worried that my response could come off cooler than I intended it to sound, but I was trying to dance around the issue. I guess I'll have to be direct.

Though I am by no means old, I am old enough to start to think about comparisons between what lays before and what lays behind.

I'm also old enough to begin to know what is truly fulfilling. In my first comment I was attempting to look on the sunny side of the street--focus on what I DO have rather than what I don't. It wasn't an attempt to downgrade what I don't have, or dismiss it as unimportant/undesirable.

For the first time in my life, these last few months I'm beginning to feel my age in a variety of literal and figurative ways, and to look it, too. In looking in the mirror (and within myself), and at society around me, I'm beginning to realize that the odds are quite good that will not "find a good man." I'm beginning to see where the stereotypes about single women my age come from--I guard my thoughts and my attitudes, but I see the ditch I could slide into if I'm not careful.

And so I'm choosing instead to make the best of what I have, focusing on the things that are within my reach. I am not holding out for the perfect, but finding the good in what is here today. I am attempting to embrace the very thing I think you're talking about when you say, "'Don't throw away a chance at real happiness by making the good the enemy of the perfect.' We can't always get what we want (is there a song in there somewhere?), but find the gladness in what we have, or what's possible.'"

Which is why I'm choosing to focus on the joy and fulfillment in what I have--so many have far less...

*********

Then again, maybe I misread, and you were actually saying that I have somehow turned away suitors because they didn't fit every category of my checklist. Bwahahaha!! I don't think I've met a woman with a shorter list than mine. :P

Posted by: FbL at December 8, 2008 06:53 PM

*clunk*

*FbL kills off another promising comment thread*

Posted by: Fbl at December 8, 2008 08:44 PM

Nope.

{Hours later at the home computer}

We all know that BillT is older than dirt, but still....

People MAKE the marriages that they have. They are all different, and few are like a story book. I think that was the original point that Cass was trying to reach in her essay. I HATE to use that word 'relationships' all the time. I don't have a 'relationship' with my wife, WE'RE MARRIED!
For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, ' till death do us part. The vows mean a promise made before God and man, that I am bound to keep. I've seen so many marriages WRECKED by the childish inflexibility and plain selfishness of both man and woman in the marriage, and just plain laziness. My wife and I take turns being difficult with each other (it's her turn next year, heh), but the thing endures. Love endures all things.
Don't lower your standards, but sometimes the mate you will find shows up in unexpected places.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 8, 2008 09:51 PM

Just to be clear, my post was responding to the City Journal article, not the VC blog post, so the "author" I'm referring to is Kay S. Hymowitz, not Cassandra.

Posted by: Eric at December 8, 2008 10:07 PM

FbL~

When was the last time you had a date? I can tell you the exact date I last had a date. It was my last summer in Germany. If I think about how long it's been too much, I start to cry - literally. And it's not for lack of me wanting to have a date. I do think that part of my "problem" is my adherence to what some would view as prudish values. Part of it has likely been that I am a very shy person, although I'm not nearly as shy now as I used to be. I just wish someone could tell me what I've been doing wrong most all my life. I know I'm not perfect - no one is, and I don't seek to find a "perfect" man - because one doesn't exist. I'd just like to find someone who is perfect *for me*, and vice versa. Is that asking too much? From where I sit, it sure seems that way... But there I go, dwelling on the negative. It's hard not to right now, since too many things in my life - both personal and professional - are less than ideal...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at December 8, 2008 10:08 PM

I've seen so many marriages WRECKED by the childish inflexibility and plain selfishness of both man and woman in the marriage, and just plain laziness. My wife and I take turns being difficult with each other (it's her turn next year, heh), but the thing endures. Love endures all things.

Oh Don. That was precisely what I was trying to get across.

I have tried to type the same comment 6 or 7 times today.

I don't know. I don't want to 'overshare' (stop laughing at me, Fuzzy :p). And even though what I had to say was really entirely about me, it touches on my spouse and I dont' feel comfortable. It is subject to the wrong interpretation.

Every marriage - even the best - has really rough moments.

I married very young. Whenever I started to doubt, I always thought of the books I read as a child.

In those books, so many of the couples didn't marry for love. In fact, many had arranged marriages. They didn't - many of them - begin well, or happily. But over the years, love and mutual respect grew; often from as little as habit and hard work.

When we hit one of our rare rough patches or I got antsy as I do from time to time, I always thought to myself: I *chose* to marry. So if we hit a speedbump, it is the little habits of years that will help us get over it, not some airy fairy magical "feeling" that descends on you unawares. I think Americans have a stupid idea of love - like it sneaks up on you and tackles you when you're not looking. Love is a decision. Hopefully an intelligent decision, but a decision nonetheless.

I think you can make it a lot harder on yourself by choosing the wrong person. But I also think there is an art to it, and we have lost the art of getting along.

I noticed, a few years back, how few couples say the old wedding vows. Everyone seems to want to make up their own. I wondered why I rarely cry at weddings anymore, and I realized it is because it has been a while since I attended a wedding where they said the traditional vows.

But to me, that *is* a wedding. That is what gets me every time - hearing two people make those age-old promises: the same ones I made, the ones my Mom and Dad made and my Grandmom and Granddad made before me. And hearing the congregation pledge to support the new couple, for a marriage needs support and advice.

I am not so sure making it up as you go along is such a good idea. I drew strength from the example of those who went before me.

Maybe all of this doesn't sound so romantic. But to me, the idea that someone will still be there when I am 70 or 80 years old is the most romantic thing in the world. It's forever, and I'm a forever person in a 15 minute world.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 8, 2008 10:21 PM

Hi Eric :)

Thanks for the clarification. I misunderstood entirely - I'll post an update.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 8, 2008 10:25 PM

> Either way, the decision has very little to do with her as a person.

Sorry, Cass. That's a preposterously silly claim.

The relationship got to where it got by the kind of person she is/was.

She didn't piss him off too much, she didn't demand too much, she didn't cling too much too soon.

She was smart enough to see his good qualities, and also smart enough to ignore (or at least not focus on) his bad qualities.

In short, it has everything to do with her as a person.

You can't talk about "interlocking mutualism" and have it both ways.

Guys often don't think about committment because for the most part, we aren't wired that way. Committment isn't something most men seek at a conscious level. If she leaves, they can and would miss the hell out of her, but that doesn't mean they thought about it beforehand.

Men and women approach love in very different ways. When men fall, they REALLY fall. Women truly fall in love the first time. After that, they generally don't:

In her first passion, woman loves her lover. In all others, all she loves is love.
- Lord Byron -

Women like BEING in love. Men are usually a lot more committed to the one they love.

That's one reason widows usually last a lot longer than widowers.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at December 8, 2008 10:33 PM

> There are always good women out there.

Yeah, but for the most part, they are stupid.
:oP

Otherwise guys would not see that all too often, a good woman is attached to the biggest shitheels. And I can say this, because, unlike women, I *know* what a lot of these guys are saying about women behind their backs Just as women talk differently about men when men aren't around, so, too, do men talk about women.

And I can definitely state -- the biggest shitheels are the ones who get the most dates. The nicest guys are almost always the ones going home alone.

Yeah, Anything Can Happen but that's not the way to bet.

:oP
Throw this one on top of that. A really great album, if you like jazz/blues/rock fusions.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at December 8, 2008 10:54 PM

Cass~

When my best friend got married, they made their own vows. That seems to be very en vogue these days. But, if I am ever lucky enough to get married, I still plan on using those old-fashioned ones...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at December 8, 2008 11:14 PM

> If you wish to find someone who is worthy of your love, don't you think perhaps you ought to be a person worthy of respect and love, yourself?

Doesn't pay*. Women aren't looking for that, for the most part.

Yeah, they give it a lot of lip service, but, much like honesty, it's praised, then left to freeze.

-----
*Doesn't stop ME from doing it, but I can say from experience, it pretty much doesn't get you laid. And before I have to stomp on any female chauvinist pig responses -- That's how men are wired.

Having sex with a man is one of the chief forms of a marching band celebration women can give to a man -- It explicitly says to us: "You're doing it *right*!! WHOOO HOO!"

So when she goes home with some other guy, that's an implicit "You're doing it wrong."

And lest you think I'm trivializing this into "cheap sex", there is no such thing.

Studies show that most women, within 15 minutes of meeting a guy, have decided if he has any chance of getting into bed with her, and that it is exceedingly rare that she changes that first impression.

So by all means -- tell me: How much information do you -- any woman -- think you can actually get about a guy in all of 15 minutes?

Unless women have some secret clairvoyant powers you're not telling us guys about, the answer is jack f'in sh**.

And THAT is why the jerks and assholes win out. Because all they WANT to do is seduce a woman, and appear to be that thing they think they want to go to bed with inside of fifteen minutes. So they practice, on lots and lots of women until they can get it down right on a consistent basis.

Decent guys DON'T PLAY THAT GAME. To them, women aren't just some thing to shag and be done with. So they never, ever develop the skills needed to put on the "inside of 15 minutes" facade.

For the most part -- if a woman gets a decent guy, it's because she happened to be incredibly friggin' lucky, not because of any brilliance on her part.

And I don't say any of this with cynicism, but with realism, which is very different. I know thing CAN work the other way. I just don't expect they will.

It's like this: Sure the odds are rigged against you. But if you don't bet -- you can't win.

;-)

Posted by: Obloodyhell at December 8, 2008 11:16 PM

I don't make judgements about whether I'll put out for a man within 15 minutes of meeting him. My brain just doesn't work that way.

And, you know, I don't play those games either. Maybe that's why I am where I am today. I think, with me, what you see is what you get. I don't hide my feelings very well, and I'm not very good at acting. If a guy isn't interested in me for who I am, but who I might pretend to be, then I'm better off without him.

Maybe if I'd tried my hand at playing those game, or compromising my morals, I'd have more of a history when it comes to my love life. But, I don't think that would have been a smart idea. Sucks to be me either way, I guess.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at December 8, 2008 11:36 PM

Then there's XKCD.

:o)

Posted by: Obloodyhell at December 8, 2008 11:44 PM

> Sucks to be me either way, I guess.

"As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will, he will be sure to repent."
- Socrates -

"Hu"man. ;-)

Posted by: Obloodyhell at December 8, 2008 11:46 PM

It's hard not to right now, since too many things in my life - both personal and professional - are less than ideal...

I hear you Miss Ladybug, I do. BTDT, and for far too many years.

I wish I had the answers for you. Just hang in there--sheer grit can take you a lot of good places. I'm been praying you'd find a teaching job.

*hugs*

Posted by: FbL at December 9, 2008 12:01 AM

But to me, the idea that someone will still be there when I am 70 or 80 years old is the most romantic thing in the world. It's forever, and I'm a forever person in a 15 minute world.

A woman after my own heart!

As I've said before, Cassandra, I think we are quite similar in many ways... just had different experiences that shaped our lives. :)

Posted by: FbL at December 9, 2008 12:07 AM

Studies show that most women, within 15 minutes of meeting a guy, have decided if he has any chance of getting into bed with her, and that it is exceedingly rare that she changes that first impression.

ummm... I call BS on that.

Total BS.

1. Yes, there is cheap sex. Sex is cheap for a woman when she feels used. So you're wrong. Maybe it's not cheap for you because you don't give a flip about the woman you're sleeping with - she's just a conquest. But for a woman, if she hoped there was more and it turns out she was just a one night stand... it's cheap.

2. The 15 minutes thing? Not a chance.

I never sized up any guy in 15 minutes in my life. No way in hell can a woman tell if she trusts a guy in that amount of time. Being attracted is one thing but that's a dime a dozen. A man has to have a LOT more going for him than that before I would just jump into bed with him.

And 15 minutes ain't cutting it.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 9, 2008 12:32 AM

Well, that's what I'd like: someone to grow old with.

Sometimes, I really hate this time of year. I'm skipping the company "Holiday Party" (for where I work contract/as a temp) this coming weekend because I know what those are like from previous places of employ: I'm pretty much always the only one without a date. Company parties and New Year's Eve, and when it rolls around, Valentine's Day, just shines a light on the fact that I'm completely unattached and have been for pretty much my entire adult life. I can count on one hand the number of actual boyfriends I've had AND all other of guys I've gone out with.

And, like I've said a million times before, it's not for lack of interest. I've just never been one to attach the attention of men. I'm the quiet one, not the one going out of my way to be the center of attention. And now, when all I seem to do is go to work (except for during baseball season when I go to lots of games - only because my little sisters know people and I get in for free), I'm not even in a position to meet a guy. Kind of hard to have a social life when your bank account can't really afford one...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at December 9, 2008 12:45 AM

Cass ~ something you said in the original Darwin post caught my eye this time around...

because marriage isn't always a 50-50 or even a 60-40 proposition. In hard times, you may be called upon to give 90 percent.

You're wrong. A good marriage will be given 100% by each person. Just because my husband is wonderful on any given day (and, if he's reading this, he's wonderful EVERY day) doesn't mean I get to slack and only give 30% that day. Marriage is not a 50/50 deal. It's a 100/100 deal.

Posted by: Sly's Wardrobe Mistress at December 9, 2008 01:34 AM

I agree with you that it *ought* to work that way in principle. However, I don't think it actually *does* work that way in practice. People get sick, they hit rough patches in their lives. And if you're together for a long time, you also change - not always at the same time or at the same pace. And that can be hard on both of you.

I kind of liked what Don said:

My wife and I take turns being difficult with each other (it's her turn next year, heh), but the thing endures. Love endures all things.

On a day to day basis, sure you should aim to give it all you have. But people fall short and when that happens you still have to be there for them, knowing that they'll do the same for you if you need them.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 9, 2008 02:06 AM

Maybe I'm parsing it too finely, but it seems to me the contention isn't that most women decide they WILL have a sex with a man within the first 15 minutes. Rather, it's that they decide within the first 15 minutes whether or not it's POSSIBLE they will at some point in the future have sex with him. The choice is not between yes and no, but maybe and no.

Like I said, maybe too fine... but it seems to me that's two different things, there.

Posted by: FbL at December 9, 2008 02:28 AM

On a day to day basis, sure you should aim to give it all you have. But people fall short and when that happens you still have to be there for them, knowing that they'll do the same for you if you need them.

I agree. It seems there are days that "all you have" isn't enough and isn't equal to what your spouse gives.

Granted, I'm not speaking from experience. But it only seems reasonable, when we see that our best can fall so terribly short of what he'd want it to be or what is asked of us. And that's the thing about great friendships (and great marriages, I'd assume)--you pick each other up.

Posted by: FbL at December 9, 2008 02:33 AM

Oops! Typo above--he'd should be we'd. I'm tired. :P

Posted by: FbL at December 9, 2008 02:34 AM

I agree. It seems there are days that "all you have" isn't enough and isn't equal to what your spouse gives.

That's KtLW's attitude.

It's the zipper.

Posted by: BillT at December 9, 2008 04:56 AM

Character is what you are in the dark."

Posted by: MikeD at December 8, 2008 02:03 PM

I guess I think of character as the accumulation of a whole lot of small decisions you made every single day - both the ones people see, and the ones they don't. The thing is, to me if you start cutting small corners when people are looking it becomes far harder not to compromise when no one is around.

Umm... actually Cass, that's a lot more analysis than Buckaroo Banzai really deserves.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYR1fGSK4U0&feature=related

Posted by: MikeD at December 9, 2008 09:07 AM

Gee, I'm in the dark about a lot of things -- does that make me a character?

Posted by: BillT at December 9, 2008 09:24 AM

smart aleck :p

Posted by: Cassandra at December 9, 2008 10:00 AM

Rereading my last comment from yesterday, I think I expressed myself poorly (if anyone cares). What I was going for was to express the tragedy of doing the urgent over the important and not to imply that the urgent was the important.


As to OBH's assertions on the dating game, I just want to point out that while what people say they want and what they actually want are often extremely different, it goes just as much for men as it does for women.

For a non-relationship example, people say they hate negative campaigning, they say they hate sound bite politics, they say they hate politicians who seek office for their own power and naked ambition.

Enter Fred Thompson: who didn't distinquish himself from the field (because he didn't go negative), who put you to sleep (because he didn't give short quippy answers), who didn't have "the fire in the belly" (because he wasn't after personal ambition).

Thompson didn't lose because of organizational issues, he didn't lose because he got in too late. He lost because his campaign style was driven by what the people say they want and not what they actually do want.

So I don't accept that it's a male/female thing, it's not a relationship thing, it's a universal human thing.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at December 9, 2008 11:16 AM

Geez, I'm slipping.

Aaaaack! Sex and relationships again!

Thanks for the reminder, Yu-Ain...

Posted by: BillT at December 9, 2008 11:22 AM

You're right Cass. There are days where one spouse is sick/sad/distracted/etc. and their effort is not 100%. But it is 100% on that day.

The 100% effort is a broad scope idea. The idea that marriage is a 50/50 proposition is implying that a marriage will be successful is each party gives the bare minimum. And, while a marriage might survive on a 50/50 effort, I seriously doubt that it will succeed.

And I also know that this really has nothing to do with the original intent of your posts. It was just something that some friends and I had been discussing as part of a Bible study a few weeks back and it struck me.

As for OBH's assertation that a woman has any chance of getting into bed with her, I will agree with that and with Fuzzy's clarification that the decision is between "no" and "maybe". Actually, in my mind, the decision was between "oh, HELL no" and "maybe".

But that's just me.

Posted by: Sly's Wardrobe Mistress at December 9, 2008 12:19 PM

As for OBH's assertation that a woman has any chance of getting into bed with her...

Ummmm -- still recovering from the Hillclimbers' Ball?

Posted by: BillT at December 9, 2008 01:15 PM

As for OBH's assertation that a woman has any chance of getting into bed with her

Um, did I miss something here? Since when did this thing morph from relationships between men and women to sex between women and other women?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 01:43 PM

Maybe I'm parsing it too finely, but it seems to me the contention isn't that most women decide they WILL have a sex with a man within the first 15 minutes. Rather, it's that they decide within the first 15 minutes whether or not it's POSSIBLE they will at some point in the future have sex with him. The choice is not between yes and no, but maybe and no.

For men, I think it is binary ; )

Which is rather funny when you think about concerning the recent election.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 01:45 PM

"The thing is, it should never be a surprise. Women don't just up and walk away all of a sudden. There are always lots and lots of warnings, usually ignored."

Sometimes, I think back on my own failed marriage and wonder to myself when she decide to quit. Or when did I decide to quit? After about five years, I'm still not sure myself.:) But one thing I did know, during those times I was working crazy hours through two jobs, going through night school, and then taking care of most of the household chores when I came home. It was hard, but it was fulfilling I think on my end.

I'm not bitter about the hard work. It was good for me and I learned quite a bit through those rough years. And I think that I would have been happy, strengthing Cass' point about the 100%/50% part, had we stayed together -- only somewhere along the line, I realized that she was planning to leave me anyways and was just waiting until we (*I*) had enough to support her for a couple years after the divorce. Which, in the end I gave her because I didn't have the heart not to.:p

So the question in the end, is it really that we're ignorning the warning signs, or is it that we're failing to detect them properly until things are far too late?

Posted by: Kevin L at December 9, 2008 01:53 PM

Gee, I'm in the dark about a lot of things -- does that make me a character?

You have to be in the dark and alone. Doesn't work if you have others in the Dark with you, like Sly and Cass's personality box.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 01:57 PM

"When we hit one of our rare rough patches or I got antsy as I do from time to time, I always thought to myself: I *chose* to marry. So if we hit a speedbump, it is the little habits of years that will help us get over it, not some airy fairy magical "feeling" that descends on you unawares. I think Americans have a stupid idea of love - like it sneaks up on you and tackles you when you're not looking. Love is a decision. Hopefully an intelligent decision, but a decision nonetheless."

Sarah of Trying to Grok talked about this very thing on her blog a couple of weeks ago, about how love is a choice, one that is made with your brain and not your "heart" in the long run. She related the idea to Atlas Shrugged, the scene where Jim Taggart insists that his bride love him just because, and not because of who he is or what he does.

To a large extent, I think this also relates to what Cassandra said about becoming your own person first, realizing who you are and what values you hold dear before committing yourself to another person, and keeping your integrity to those self-defining values.

I will ever be grateful for the year I spent after college figuring myself out before I met my husband. That year on my own prepared the way for me to be ready for him, to love him, to make the choice and work to have a relationship with him, more than anything else in my experience, with the exception, perhaps, of the example of my parents' successful marriage.

Posted by: Leofwende at December 9, 2008 01:57 PM


And one more OR:

OR, are people going into marriage with far more expectations than reality permits?

Posted by: Kevin L at December 9, 2008 01:58 PM

Aaaaack! Sex and relationships again!

I had hoped you ain't gonna mention that one again, Bill.

ummm... I call BS on that.

Total BS.

Uho. Cass is cooking it up; everyone better clear out of this room. Hope HF6 doesn't mention that woman for men substitute, it may set Cass off.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 02:01 PM

And we used the traditional wedding vows...straight out of the hymnal. ;)

Yes, I'm one of those "young people" (I'm 25).

Posted by: Leofwende at December 9, 2008 02:02 PM

Hopefully an intelligent decision, but a decision nonetheless

I think there is more to it than that. Love is like duty, both a choice and an obligation. What people seem to get confused about is how to reconcile free will (choice) with duty (obligation).

Duty is often seen as self-sacrificing with no real personal benefit. Yet how can this be true given that many people, given a choice between dying and staying alive to do their duty, stay alive? When duty is as heavy as mountains and death as light as a feather, why do people take on the burden of duty? This is still a choice in the end, but once chosen, it starts limiting all your other choices.

This choice also tends to bind people emotionally. It is not just something people choose and then can change their minds, even if they wanted to. Emotional bonds find them. A Prince's people, when they suffer, also makes the Prince suffer if that Prince cares for his people and upholds his duty to protect them.

If you aren't bound emotionally, then your "duty" can easily be discarded. When it comes to love, if you don't love someone more than your own life, when the sacrifices you are called upon by duty to undertake are more onerous than making a choice to cut the bonds of duty and obligation, then marriages will shatter and break. There are no economic interests to promote continued marriage given the ease of divorce now. So love is often the only thing we have.

It has been proven that when people are given two choices, they will take the path of least resistance. Duty, however, is the path of higher resistance, not least resistance.

But what motivates us to duty? What motivates a person to love something that is so hard? It would be easier for the Prince to live off the wealth of the people and then get himself killed eating too much. But the Prince chooses a different path. And for what? For love? He doesn't even know the majority of his people by sight or sound. How can he be said to "love" a people that has members he has never met or heard of? Yet, love them he does.

In the weird world of human paradox, some humans do love the intangibles such as duty, honor, and such far more than they love the empirical data points such as the separate individual actions and thoughts of a person. We love an ideal and we are always looking for that ideal. When we believe we have found it, whether it be America, Communism, or Obama, we get attached to it. Then hardship has a meaning for us. It makes us better or more ruthless or more determined. We change based upon our choices because what we choose to love changes us. We want to be the kind of person that is worthy of the loyalty of those who value and love honor and duty. We want to be the kind of person that can support such a person and help them. We want to do what is right, as viewed by such people, because we believe such people share our view of what is truth, what is ethical, what is right and what is wrong.

It results in an eternal feedback loop. We have an idea of the ideal in a person. But how can we have this vision of the ideal if we don't even know anybody that has such traits? Humans beings are full of such paradoxes.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 02:16 PM

Yes, I'm one of those "young people" (I'm 25).

I dare say that puts you in the minority here ; ) Although, not a minority of one.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 02:17 PM

with Fuzzy's clarification that the decision is between

That's so cute. Like Hello Kitty or something. Fuzzy's clarification ... hehe

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 02:21 PM

OR, are people going into marriage with far more expectations than reality permits?

I think that is true to some extent. I also think that this is one of several reasons many young people (including a number of my friends and acquaintances) are now putting off marriage until they're older. Some of it (and the reason they will give you when asked) is that they want to focus on their careers. But I think that there is an aspect there of wanting marriage to be "perfect". In such cases they often do "throw away a chance at real happiness by making the good the enemy of the perfect," as Don said earlier. I know of one friend in particular who did just that, and is now living with some pretty hefty consequences.

Posted by: Leofwende at December 9, 2008 02:28 PM

One of the things that drives women batsh*t crazy about men (and that we will never understand) is why an awful lot of guys never question that their cars, their houses, their careers, even professional relationships with their co-workers, bosses and clients will break down if they are not maintained and they diligently put the needed time and effort into making sure that doesn't happen, but these same men allow relationships with the women in their lives to founder because they aren't willing to put 1/10th of the same effort into maintaining them?

A couple of general reasons, I believe. One, men who don't see women as toys and machines to be owned, maintained, and manipulated to "perform better", don't tend to develop the psychological or social skills required. Two, men don't like keeping track of social meetings, dates, and so forth. Some kind of hard wiring thing.

People are unpredictable so you have to have a thinking "box" that you constantly check. Cars and such mechanical things don't "change" when you look away. The same isn't true for people. Women tend to check their "boxes" more, the thing about the information superhighway, than men want to.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 02:32 PM

I know of one friend in particular who did just that, and is now living with some pretty hefty consequences.

I bet they were never told that marriage is supposed to allow one partner to raise the kids when young and then is supported in a career by the other spouse once the kids are more or less grown.

This kind of long range planning, at least 20 years, seems not exactly popular. People can't even handle mortgages now.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 02:34 PM

I think that for both men and women, the "first 15 minutes" screens for whether any sexual attraction is there at all. Most of this happens subconsciously, a lot of it probably for very good evolutionary reasons that we don't even understand***for instance, there's some research showing that women are attracted to men who have compatible immune systems. Body language, tone of voice, all sorts of things lead to automatic attracted or not-attracted responses.

Also in the first 15 minutes, though, you can tell quite a bit about a person's personality***certainly not enough to marry them or even to jump in bed with them, but enough to exclude a high percentage of non-candidates.

Posted by: dan the realist at December 9, 2008 02:35 PM

"If you aren't bound emotionally, then your "duty" can easily be discarded. When it comes to love, if you don't love someone more than your own life, when the sacrifices you are called upon by duty to undertake are more onerous than making a choice to cut the bonds of duty and obligation, then marriages will shatter and break."

I'm sure you understand that I did not mean that I don't love my husband. Or that love is irrelevant. I do love my husband. Completely. And love does make a difference. But there is lasting love, which I believe to be based on respect and trust of a person, understanding of and commitment toward that person, and upon a relationship that is built over time, and there is desire, which in many cases seems to ebb and flow with time.

Desire brings many people into relationships, but when desire ebbs, there is a choice, conscious or not, to either stay, or to walk away from the relationship. If there are underpinnings of those feelings that lead toward lasting love - respect, trust, understanding, shared values, etc., when desire ebbs, then the choice to stay, duty or no, is much easier than if those things are missing. And I think that such feelings are more often than not based on real qualities that one finds in a partner. Trust is based on honesty. Respect is mutual. Shared values and appreciation of a partner's qualities - tangible or intangible - I think the decision should be based on what a person knows empirically, not just on what they feel desire for.

I hope that makes sense.

Posted by: Leofwende at December 9, 2008 02:46 PM

"You have to be in the dark and alone. Doesn't work if you have others in the Dark with you, like Sly and Cass's personality box.

Madness does not always howl. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "Hey, is there room in your head for one more?"
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at December 9, 2008 02:51 PM

Now I would be more likely to buy off on that, Dan :)

I will admit I'm a bit odd in that sense. Often the men I've ended up most attracted to, though, have been men who initially either made a slightly adverse or (more frequently) *no* impression on me whatsoever.

When a guy kind of bowls me over right away on a gut level I nearly always take that as a bad sign. I started going out with boys pretty early, and one thing that taught me is that strong physical attraction rarely lasts - it's like a flash flood or a fire that flares up quickly, but it isn't going to be there down the road. The men who I've found hottest - the ones I couldn't get off my mind - have almost always "snuck up" on me.

So the attraction was in no way instant.

Maybe it's because I get bored easily. I don't know. I just know that's the way I am. That's why I always say that the brain is the biggest sex organ of all - that's where it all starts, at least for me. Your mileage may differ (and I realize guys are very visual). But with me, if my mind isn't engaged, I'm not interested.

Women tend to check their "boxes" more,... than men want to.

[Sitting_on_hands with angelic smile on face]

Ymar, you are cruel :p

Posted by: Cassandra at December 9, 2008 02:54 PM

I hope that makes sense.

For me it does, completely. It's what I was trying to say earlier.

And I've also found that there are different kinds of desire.

Desire for novelty?

Desire for danger/excitement/variety?

Those are more what you feel when you are dating.

But if you're willing to open yourself up in a committed relationship, you can go a lot deeper than simply wanting something new. I'm always kind of surprised when people say married sex is boring. I suppose anything can get boring if you never change it up. But if it becomes a shared exploration with someone you trust, that's a whole level you aren't going to get to with a stranger, or someone you don't care about.

It's like the difference between playing a single note and a chord.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 9, 2008 03:01 PM

with Fuzzy's clarification that the decision is between

That's so cute. Like Hello Kitty or something. Fuzzy's clarification ... hehe

Oh, Pbbbbbttt!

Posted by: FbL at December 9, 2008 03:06 PM

And I completely agree with Dan, and earlier with FbL on that first 15 minutes thing. It's definitely between "no way in hell" and "we'll see".

And there is a lot that a *smart* woman can tell in the first 15 minutes of meeting a guy. She can tell if he's at least trying to be respectful toward her or if he is staring blatantly at her chest. She can tell if he is at least feigning interest to what she says and isn't scoping the room. She can often tell if he's of above or below average intelligence. She can tell if he's confident or not when meeting new people.

I had 2 other first dates in the 6 months or so before I met my husband, all of whom I had chatted to online for a few weeks beforehand (and, since I met them online, took necessary precautions such as driving myself and meeting them in a public place, just in case they were big liars).

As it turned out, the first guy was a "maybe" (in my case, a maybe that I would see them again; I was a very good girl) for about half an hour. We had some great conversation about religion and mythology, etc., but we could tell that our priorities and values didn't line up, and that was that. I remember that he thought I was pretty, but there was still nothing substantial there, so he didn't even bother calling me back.

The second guy was a "no" from the start. He acted like he was too cool for me. Slouched in his chair like he was going to slide onto the floor. Couldn't look at my face. Tried to do that walk teenage boys do when they are trying to look "cool". He had no confidence, and no conception of how to impress a girl who wasn't a slut. I'm sure he'd gotten girls with the act before - the kind of girls who thrive on rejection - but I wasn't one of those.

My husband, when I met him, was exactly what he'd sounded like talking to him online. He dressed decently, he was confident, attentive, respectful, honest, and himself. I knew within 5 minutes of seeing his face that I wanted to get to know him better, and that we could at least be friends.

So I don't dispute the "15-minute" (or, probably more accurate, the "one-date") hypothesis, but I think that the correct interpretation is that a girl weeds out those that are definitely a "no" in that first 15 minutes, and then takes longer to weed out the rest.

The kind of good women that Cass is talking about probably aren't going to "reward" a man with sex (re: OBH's earlier comment) after only a 15-minute conversation anyway. A "good" woman is probably going to wait until she's pretty darn sure that he's not a use 'em and lose 'em kind of guy before she goes that far.

Posted by: Leofwende at December 9, 2008 03:15 PM

"The men who I've found hottest - the ones I couldn't get off my mind - have almost always "snuck up" on me.

"That's why I always say that the brain is the biggest sex organ of all - that's where it all starts, at least for me. Your mileage may differ (and I realize guys are very visual). But with me, if my mind isn't engaged, I'm not interested."

I'm the same way.

Posted by: Leofwende at December 9, 2008 03:18 PM

I think that the correct interpretation is that a girl weeds out those that are definitely a "no" in that first 15 minutes, and then takes longer to weed out the rest.

Probably a bit closer to the truth :p

Posted by: Cassandra at December 9, 2008 04:44 PM

I'm sure you understand that I did not mean that I don't love my husband. Or that love is irrelevant. I do love my husband.

I was thinking more of what Cass wrote here.

In those books, so many of the couples didn't marry for love. In fact, many had arranged marriages. They didn't - many of them - begin well, or happily. But over the years, love and mutual respect grew; often from as little as habit and hard work.
When we hit one of our rare rough patches or I got antsy as I do from time to time, I always thought to myself: I *chose* to marry. So if we hit a speedbump, it is the little habits of years that will help us get over it, not some airy fairy magical "feeling" that descends on you unawares. I think Americans have a stupid idea of love - like it sneaks up on you and tackles you when you're not looking. Love is a decision. Hopefully an intelligent decision, but a decision nonetheless.

With me, Leofwende, you are never guaranteed that what I am going to write, after quoting you, is going to be entirely a reaction to that quote ; ) Like Cass, I tend to branch off somewhere abouts (where Angels Fear to Tread).

Madness does not always howl. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "Hey, is there room in your head for one more?"

Cass's head is pretty full, Dark Mistress Sly, so would you kindly use a substitute? Bill has scars and a rotor head that allows him to hover, so he doesn't have room for your crown. I have a maximum capacity house going on here, so I wouldn't make for a good substitute either.

Ymar, you are cruel :p

Don't say that! The Dark Mistress may punish me. That would be a Bad Thing (TM), Cass.

Slouched in his chair like he was going to slide onto the floor.

You do know that that isn't very efficient for getting up on his (your) toes and landing a fatal strike on anybody getting into his (your) personal space, right?

I mean, come on, doesn't everybody know this? Put your weight on your heels or the balls of your feet while sitting, if you want to keep your other balls in your possession. For the ladies, that may mean keeping possession of a good hair day or non-messed up makeup, I wouldn't care to guess.

Btw, this is just a friendly warning because I don't want anybody to have any accidents or anything, but you can have your upper spinal cord damaged if your are slouching like that. If say, somebody came up to you and pushed down on your head and make it touch your stomach. The chair makes for a nice lever arm to translate the force into your spine. Course, if worse comes to worse, the seat of the chair can be used as the lever, if nothing else works. This is just a friendly warning to those who may get into such situations accidentally.

Couldn't look at my face.

Like I told Cass, no discipline ; ) There's a definite instinct for the eyes to roam over the interesting parts of a woman's outfit, and that is what the eyes will be doing if the will is not there.

That's why I always say that the brain is the biggest sex organ of all - that's where it all starts, at least for me. Your mileage may differ (and I realize guys are very visual). But with me, if my mind isn't engaged, I'm not interested.

I was reading some product descriptions concerning a viagra for women (don't ask), and they were talking about how the sex drive is composed of two elements. Something generally called "mood" and physical arousal. The mood has to do with how much one's thoughts revolve around sex. Since men don't need a drug to increase that, it is only the physical barriers that gets tackled. For women, both the brain and the body must be engaged at the same time: at least on some minimum basis.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 05:22 PM

Another thing that people can tell pretty well in the first 15 minutes is whether the candidate is someone who would be well-regarded by the people in their social circle. Most people wouldn't marry or seriously date someone who would be poorly regarded by the people whose approval they care about. A female college professor is very unlikely to marry a plumber, however nice a guy he is and however strong the attraction. And if she's a philosophy or English professor, she's also very unlikely to marry a career military officer, even if his social status in the overall society is higher--say he's a General--than the other men she knows. Unless she's an exceptionally courageous person--and these are always rare--she just won't go against her group to that extent. These may be extreme examples, but I think most people do apply the status fit screen in the first 15 min, often to their long-term detriment.

Posted by: dan the realist at December 9, 2008 05:30 PM

Reminds me of all those inter-racial relationships that sprung up in 1980s and what not. There was an interesting topic I read concerning teenagers in the 1990s dating those of other races and how their parents went apeshat (actually, that's my generation, golly) over it because when they (the parents) had tried the same thing in the 60s, 70s,and early 80s, they got pulled by their friends and family and given a good licking too on how they shouldn't be stepping across the social barriers.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 05:37 PM

My memory may be going but I may have actually heard one girl complain about her parent's reaction. There is no peer pressure against inter-racial dating from what I saw in my time, but plenty of freaked out parents that remember their own teenage hoods and have not realized the world has moved on.

have almost always "snuck up" on me.

If they snuck up on you and goosed you, how would they still be around and standing (or alive for that matter)?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 05:43 PM

"And if she's a philosophy or English professor, she's also very unlikely to marry a career military officer..."

LOL. This was very nearly me. When I met my husband, I was still very much considering going to graduate school for medieval studies. I have changed my mind since then, for numerous reasons not to be gotten into here, but if I had stuck with it... (My husband is an Army LT)

A more significant reason for a professor to think twice about marrying into the military, officer or no, is the fact that moving around every few years would make it very difficult to get tenure. ;)

Posted by: Leofwende at December 9, 2008 06:23 PM

Oh, Pbbbbbttt!

I *love* it when you use your tongue like that...

Posted by: BillT at December 9, 2008 06:31 PM

THAT will teach me to comment before caffeine. Dammit.

I want to know how Cass is typing if she's sitting on her hands.

And we, too, used traditional wedding vows. Wouldn't have had it any other way. I may be untraditional in many ways but my marriage is not one of them.

Posted by: Sly's Wardrobe Mistress at December 9, 2008 08:21 PM

A number of years back, my best friend commented to me that she should have taken note those few times she dated someone I just didn't really take to. One guy was a German exchange student she met in college after I had graduated and I was only around him a few times when I'd driven up to visit. Another was someone we'd gone to high school with she hooked up with at a reunion we'd organized for people who went to the same HS in Germany around the same time (we weren't all from the same graduating class - that's just the nature of being an Army brat...), so I knew what kind of person he'd been in high school, too, and just got a bad vibe about him. Now, the man she married, I never had a negative gut feeling about. So, I think the reactions of those close to a person should - to a certain extent - be taken into consideration.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at December 9, 2008 09:06 PM

I want to know how Cass is typing if she's sitting on her hands.

Voice control.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 9, 2008 10:41 PM

Voice control.

And tri-D motion-sensing cam.

She actually *does* flounce, tap her foot, sit on her hands, run away, and hurl trivets -- which is why it's so long between posts.

Takes forever to get her breath back sufficiently to resume talking...

*skittering for the bunker, spinning out on the gravel while rounding the corner, kicking an errant scorpion out of the way, stopping to chat with Alawi the Medic, apologizing for having to dash off after only ten minutes, resuming headlong flight toward the bunker*

Posted by: BillT at December 10, 2008 07:41 AM

Feace Be Upon Allah to you too, Fbl ; )

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 10, 2008 10:33 AM

Of course, Bill, you know what Voice Control really is, right?

Bene Gesserit witchcraft!

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 10, 2008 10:55 AM

So, does that make Cassie one of the Spice Girls?

Posted by: BillT at December 10, 2008 12:42 PM

You'd be surprised at the things I can do with my toes.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2008 01:22 PM

Oh, great. That just reminded me of the joke with the "athlete's crotch" punchline.

I blame Sly, naturally.

Posted by: BillT at December 10, 2008 01:26 PM

And we, too, used traditional wedding vows. Wouldn't have had it any other way. I may be untraditional in many ways but my marriage is not one of them.

I find this an interesting comment. Our wedding vows were "traditional", except for the the fact that we swore to "love, honor, and cherish" rather than "love, honor, and obey". I think the former is considered "traditional", but in reality, the latter is the true traditional vows. How many here swore to "obey"?

Posted by: MikeD at December 10, 2008 10:20 PM

It might be interesting to see what my sister does. I came home from my errands to find her boyfriend's truck in front of the house. When I came in, he was sitting on the couch, opposite my parents on the loveseat, and he was being handed back a *small* box. After he left, I asked my mom if he was here for what I thought... She tried to play dumb... They (the sister and her boyfriend) are taking a little vacation starting Sunday, and he'll propose while they are away. Mom had the nerve to tell me that my sister isn't supposed to know. REALLY?? I had *NO* idea.... :-p

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at December 10, 2008 11:27 PM

Mike ~ The Methodist vows that we used did not have 'obey' anywhere in them. I looked. And I"m not averse to having 'obey' in our vows. It just wasn't there.

Regardless of whether the word was in our vows, it's in our marriage.

Posted by: Sly's Wardrobe Mistress at December 11, 2008 02:31 AM

KtLW was adamant that the traditional word "obey" appear in our vows -- until I told her that the *bride* was supposed to promise that.

Posted by: BillT at December 11, 2008 03:57 AM

When I came in, he was sitting on the couch, opposite my parents on the loveseat, and he was being handed back a *small* box.

By the way... I approved of this young man immediately upon reading this. He's doing it properly, seeking your parent's permission before asking your sister. It speaks well for his character. And before anyone asks, no I didn't seek my in-laws permission first, but that had more to do with the fact that they lived 3000 miles away, I didn't have their phone number, and I had no way of asking my wife for it prior to asking her without letting her know why.

Plus, I had never met my father-in-law until after we were married (talk about nerve wracking), but it all worked out. I get along great with my in-laws.

Posted by: MikeD at December 11, 2008 11:10 AM

It takes both love and respect to make it all work.

Posted by: ConnectingUs at December 11, 2008 02:47 PM

He's a good man. They've been dating for more than 4 years. She's 27. He's 37. Now, I have to start thinking about being in a wedding at some point in the foreseeable future... Hopefully, I'll be able to scrounge up a date by then...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at December 11, 2008 03:53 PM

The bottom line is that Eric has the cart before the horse. He says that nothing makes him want to be a better person like falling in love with a woman. But that is exactly backwards. If you wish to find someone who is worthy of your love, don't you think perhaps you ought to be a person worthy of respect and love, yourself?

You can be worthy of respect and love but still be self centered. I found that I was a pretty self centered guy before I met my wife. I dropped out of school, was living at home, had a dead end job that paid enough to keep me in toys.

Then I met my wife and my world changed.

I became other-focused. I wasn't satisfied surviving, I wanted to thrive so I would be able to take care of her and any children we might have.

I went back to college nights and earned my associates degree then went to work in the computer field. I've been improving ever since, but not for just myself, but for her. To provide a comfortable life for her.

Like Jack Nicholson said: "She made me want to be a better man".

A woman should not underestimate the civilizing power she has on a man who loves her.

Posted by: Tony at December 12, 2008 02:30 PM

I think you do have a point, Tony :)

It's just that I have a problem with the idea that "I'm not going to bother with trying to be a good person until someone inspires me", which is what I got out of the men in Hymowitz' article. It bothers me when someone uses someone else's behavior as an excuse for their own fecklessness.

As I said, I don't think that's the argument Eric was really making.

Part of the reason I fell for my husband is that he had a plan for his life and it wasn't going to revolve around me. Every other guy I dated seemed to make things too much about me and I wanted someone I felt like I was evenly matched with - someone who had his own ideas of what he thought and wanted and would stand up to me: had something of his own to contribute to the relationship.

In a good relationship, hopefully both partners have a reason to work harder. Women, though, have to try not to lose themselves in the relationship whereas I think that's less of a concern for men.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 12, 2008 02:52 PM

Fecklessness, heh.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 12, 2008 06:01 PM

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