The Appeal of “Bad Boys”

If there is one thing that men, especially nerdy, geekier men – men more prone to be Nice Guys and White Knights – will complain about when it comes to their dating problems, it’s that women don’t like “nice” men. No, frustrating the millions of men who heard “I wish I could meet a nice guy like you”1 and took it too much to heart is the way that the “bad boy” seems to win women’s hearts and loins.

There is no dating cliche older or more lingering than the appeal of the “bad boy”. One of the most defining characteristics of known rake Lord Byron is that he was famously “mad, bad and dangerous to know”.

Narcissistic. Drug abuser. Self-destructive.Unable to keep it in his pants. Perpetually running out of money. All he needed was to be in a band to get “bad boyfriend” yahtzee.

It’s a subject that I have talked about before: the idea that all women love assholes and that this is programmed into them genetically; after all, assholes are often more “alpha” than the Nice Guys who complain about them, therefore it is their inevitable destiny to fall for them… usually on their backs. Therefore the key to being more attractive is to be “bad”.

It’s a short-sighted solution that builds on a collection of mistaken assumptions reinforced by confirmation bias and poor understanding of human sexuality and evolutionary psychology… but it’s not entirely wrong.

In fact, the appeal of the “bad boy” is something that psychologists and sociologists have been interested in for quite some time. And it seems as though they may have found some interesting answers.

I Told You I’m A Psycho…

It is unquestionable that men and women with certain negative traits personality traits seem to be more popular. We all remember the Queen Bee at the top of the high-school pecking order; the most popular girl in school, enforcing her will through manipulation and cruelty. Similarly, it seemed as though the douchiest of jocks were inevitably the Big Men on Campus. We can’t stand them… so why do assholes seem so popular?

Well, it turns out that three personality traits known as the “dark triad” are actually associated with being able to enhance a person’s physical attractiveness.

Although admittedly it sounds a lot like the McGuffin that Gannondorf steals in every installment of Legend of Zelda.

The so-called “Dark Triad” consists of three separate but overlapping personality traits – perceived as having similar underlying commonalities:

  1. Narcissism – defined as an overly developed sense of self-worth and entitlement matched with intense egotism
  2. Machiavellianism – defined by the person’s reliance on manipulation to get what he or she desires without regard to others as well as a cynical dismissal of morality as “for other people”.
  3. Psychopathy – a loaded term; it doesn’t refer to a violent maniac, but to someone defined by reckless thrill-seeking, selfishness, lack of remorse and affect and a certain level of superficial charm

Scientists have known for a while that narcissism – for example – actually has direct correlation with initial popularity. In fact, a study conducted in 2010 by Mitja Back and Boris Egloff of Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz found that – upon first meeting them – people thought that narcissistic individuals were “flashier”, “more confident” and more immediately likable.
What made things interesting is a new study, conducted in 2012 by Nick Holtzman and Michael Strube of Washington University in St. Louis found that individuals whose personality types conformed to the dark triad were perceived as being physically more attractive than people who didn’t have darker personality aspects.

Which explains why every woman on Tumblr seems to have the screaming thigh-sweats for Loki.

To test this idea, Holtzman and Strube invited 111 college students to participate in a study. The students – more women than men – were photographed in their usual clothes, then given grey, featureless sweatsuits to change into. Anyone wearing make-up was asked to remove it while anyone with long hair was asked to pull it into a ponytail. The idea was to take as neutral and natural a photo of the participants as possible as a control. Students were asked to answer a questionaire and rate themselves on a personality scale. To help counterbalance any errors introduced by self-reporting, Strube and Holtzman alsointerviewed acquaintances of the subjects about their personalities. From these results, the subjects were rated and scored with relation to dark triad personality types.

The photos of the subjects – both the dressed up and neutral shots –  were then shown to strangers, who were asked to rate them in terms of physical attractiveness. Those who scored higher on the dark triad were consistently found to be more attractive by strangers than those who rated lower… but only when they were dressed up. When all of the subjects were wearing the sweat-suits and showing their more natural look, the influence of the dark triad personality type disappeared.

Heeeeyooooo… I got my haaaaaalo….

As it turns out, those individuals who ranked higher on the dark triad scale were better at making a better presenting themselves and knowing how to make themselves look better. Just as with the earlier narcissism study, those with darker personality traits were better able to cultivate their sense of style. They tend to wear edgier, more stylish clothes that make them stand out more2, wear a more fashionable hair style, have more confident body language and smiled more.

In short: they know how to make a better first impression than other people do. By knowing how to display themselves to their best advantage, they made themselves look better. By doing so, they take advantage of a phenomenon known as the “halo effect”: because they are perceived as being more physically attractive, we automatically assume that they’re also better people – kinder, smarter, more trustworthy, etc.

…and that’s how you know this is someone you can trust!

As a result: the more psychopathic or narcissistic you are, the better you are at conning people into thinking you’re actually a good person.
Y’know. Deep down.

Possibly very deep down.

So clearly the key to success in dating is to learn to become a functioning sociopath, right?
Wrong.

Also, There Are Downsides…

One thing that the Black-Etjoff study found is that the those people with dark triad personalities may make for great initial impressions but lousy long-term ones. In fact, their personal popularity tends to drop the more people get to know the real person behind the flash and smoke.

Y’see, the dark triad personality types are pre-disposed to short-term goals and thinking; they focus on immediate goals (“How do I get her in bed?”) and less on long term ones (“How do I get her to go out with me again?”) which hinders them in the long term… including financially. They’re much more likely to go for the immediate (and smaller) reward than for planning for a future (and bigger) one. They’re prone to stealing partners from others and are more likely to have substance-abuse issues and are known for having lowered standards – sometimes drastically – for sexual partners. The dark triad also has a correlation with excessive agression towards others, bullying behavior and racist attitudes.

It’s almost impossible to keep the charade up for very long; inevitably people will start seeing the man behind the mask and start realizing that he’s actually pretty damn repulsive.
This makes it rather difficult to maintain relationships for very long. Even if you’re willing to sacrifice the long term relationship on the altar of more frequent, no-commitment sex, people talk and social circles are smaller than you’d think. It doesn’t take very long for a reputation for being an asshole to spread and effectively limit your available dating pool.  Similarly, this is not behavior that ages well; time and gravity make fools of us all eventually and what can seem charmingly rakish at 20 quickly becomes boorish at 3o and just embarrassing at 40.

Finding Your Creamy Bastard Center

It’s like I’ve said before: it’s not a question of bad behavior or that being “bad” is inherently attractive to women, it’s that traits that women find attractive are frequently found in assholes and narcissists.

This, in case you haven’t been paying attention, means that you can cultivate these traits to your own advantage without the negative aspects that come with them.

A person’s physical attractiveness isn’t binary; it can be affected by something as minor as overhead lighting vs. indirect lighting. Simple changes in posture can alter people’s perception of a person’s attractiveness. Even people who are considered conventionally beautiful often benefit from some external help.

Never underestimate the power of foundation and blush.

The people with high dark triad scores knew how to make a better first impression by crafting their look to their best advantage.

You can do this too.

Find Your Archetype:

Start by figuring out what your sexy stereotype is. Are you a rocker or a business tycoon? Do you aspire to be a modern dandy like Andre 3000 or are you more of a Mod? Find a base line look that’s congruent with your identity and use this as the foundation for everything else.

Cultivate Your Style:

Be willing to stand out and make a statement. Cultivate a style in line with your archetype and make it your own. This means that you have to be willing to take some risks and break out of clothes that – while psychologically comfortable – cause you to blend in with the herd. You may feel like you’re playing dress-up at first, but the more you try, the more natural you will find that it becomes.

Make Sure Your Clothes Fit Right:

Seriously, I can’t emphasize this enough. Clothes that are too baggy or too small make you look bad. Period.

Use Confident Body Language:

Narcissists, psychopaths and Machiavellians aren’t shrinking violets; they stand up tall and take up space. They want people know that they’re there. Everything about them screams “confidence” – their body language most of all. Even if you’re not feeling confident, adopting confident body language – standing up straight, letting your limbs relax, moving deliberately and with purpose – will help you fake it. Even more importantly, using more confident body language will make you feel more confident… and confidence is sexy.

SMILE.

For fuck’s sake, smile. A big, genuine smile that reaches your eyes. A friendly smile makes you much more attractive than a blank affect or trying to look “serious”. Part of George Clooney’s appeal is that grin – equal parts friendliness and mischief that promises stories you’ll be telling for years to come.

“Bad boys” may be attractive at the first glance, but only because they know how to sell themselves up front. They have to; they have no long game and they know it. The more skilled you become at creating an immediate positive impression in others the more of a leg up that you’ll have over those bad boys. You’ll soon find that you’re having levels of success that they could only dream of.

Not only will you have the style to make that great first impression… but you’ll have the substance to back it up.

  1. And ignored the silent “…who I would be interested in fucking.” []
  2. known as peacocking in PUA circles []

Comments

  1. Christine says:

    Great post! Personally, I feel that the attraction often comes from the fearlessness of the so-called bad boys. But you don't have to be bad to be fearless. What some guys hope is coming across as a nice guy can seem to be a fearful attitude. In my experience, the most powerful attractor is a combination of fearlessness and kindness. Of course, none of us (except psychopaths) is actually fearless–but the more we face our fears and overcome them, the better off we'll be in the social pool.

  2. Thanks for great post! The only thing that I've not agree on is just using confident body language. To my mind, it's simply not enough. Functioning sociopath are so confident, because he/she is knowing, that he/she is the only predator in the situation. When normal person is not confident, it is about not knowing, what will be there, maybe a sociopath will be around?
    It is hard to get those confidence, until you get a whole complex of views on dealing with bad people, jerks, assholes .. whatever. When you put a mask of sociopath on you it is getting easy to predict steps to be taken and situations could occur.
    So, I seriously advocate getting a good book on abusers, sociopaths and hidden violence in everyday life. Go get some films on the same topic. Say no before yes. Be ready to put a mask of sociopath when thinking, what bad things could happen, but don't act like one. Think of safe space (plan B) even for everyday situation.
    To be short, the best way to get confidence, is to get well-protected. It is impossible to do, when you don't know, how the mind of abuser work.

    • Normal people lack confidence for all sorts of reasons, not just because they're afraid of sociopaths. (In dating, it's generally because they're afraid of being turned down when they ask someone out.) And just as smiling is shown to actually trick your brain into thinking you're happier than you are, using confident body language can trick you into feeling confident. The idea that you shouldn't try to use confident body language because sociopaths also use it is absurd.

  3. I'm going to pretend to be the only person to notice the Poets of the Fall lyrics reference…

  4. I'm confused…. if Confidence is the ultimate Attraction booster, then why were the Dark Triad "Neutrals" not as attractive as their "Every Day" selves? I suppose you could argue they were less confident, being out of their clothes and make-up, but then the article goes on to say they were attractive because they knew how to present themselves, via Clothes, Make-Up, etc.
    So doesn't that mean it's the Clothes/Make-Up/Presentation that's important, NOT confidence?
    If a person gets all sex-ed up for a night on the town, but acts not-confident, isn't there still a good chance of them getting hit on…. better than a grubby person who acts confidently?

    In my personal experience, it doesn't matter how confidently I act, because I don't have the Appearance down, nothing ever comes of it. So wouldn't it be more accurate to amend the "confidence is sexy" statement with "Confident is sexy IF you also take care of the outside package"?

    • I think it's because they were photographs of the dark-triad neutrals. Had people actually interacted with them, I imagine the confidence would have come through and they would have been ranked as more attractive.

    • I agree with Sam that you can't really judge confidence from a 2D image.

      As to what's more important, I'd say hygiene is going to trump everything, and then after that grooming and confidence are of fairly equal importance.

      • So if you're confident, but badly groomed, are you really going to do as well as someone who is well-groomed but not confident?

        • Probably.

        • It depends on the degree of bad grooming we're talking about, but yeah, I'd say those two guys would have fairly similar results.

          Though it's a lot easier to fix grooming issues than it is to be or appear to be confident.

          • Haha, guess I have to disagree with you there. Most of the time, I am clean and hygienic, but it seems impossible for me to improve my style. Can't find clothes to make my body shape look decent, my hair refuses to do anything but the simplest of hairstyles (and even then looks kinda junky), make-up technique continues to allude me regardless of how many times I demand the Bare Essentials ladies teach me…..

            For certain people, it might be easier to start with confidence and then ditch the need to look better physically all together.

          • I agree with you that it's often not good to obsess much about appearance (although clean, hygenic and wearing clothes that fit at least generally is important!), but when you say "can't find clothes to make your body shape look decent," I also wonder if you might be being down on your looks unnecessarily.

            I'm thinking you're a female-type person? If so, the site [a href="http://www.alreadypretty.com" Already Pretty [/a] is good for finding a sense of style and clothes that work with your personality and body in a way that's more about emphasizing your awesome than trying to fit into a limited standard, so it might have good advice on where and how to find clothes that work. It occasionally has posts for guys or suitable for everyone, but it's more oriented towards women.

          • Ack! Tag fail!

          • I am a female-type person. I've run across that blog before…. I even got into sewing partially so I could make clothes that actually FIT me. Trouble is, there just aren't a lot of styles to fit the small-chested, big-stomached, flat-butted body that is mine.

            I am just always curious about the whole "Confidence!" magic bullet. I just don't fully buy it, which is why I'm guessing it's confidence PLUS looking good that does the trick.

          • I mean, looking good is good, but there are all kinds of different looks that can be attractive. When I see people on the street who have not-very-supermodely body types but who look seriously hot, usually they seem to be dressing to play up some features rather than playing down the ones that are generally seen as flaws. Their choices have to do with confidence, yes, but it does affect their actual appearance, so it's not just confidence.

          • Eh, looking good doesn't actually have that much to do with your actual physical appearance (assuming your physical appearance is within a pretty broad spectrum of "average" — some things that are outside that range, such as being in a wheelchair, being morbidly obese, or other characteristics that are striking enough that they are all the beholder can see, render this advice useless or at least less useful, but assuming you're fairly average-looking). It's as much about how you hold yourself, how you dress, how you move, etc. Even your facial expressions can influence whether someone sees you as pretty or cute.

            I was in ballet for 12 years and knew a lot of girls who objectively were not pretty at all. If you'd put their face in a group of 40 girls' faces without makeup and asked the viewer to rank them from most to least beautiful, they would have been near the bottom. But guys got tongue-tied around them and said they were hot.

            Part of this was, obviously, because they were very physically fit. But more importantly, ballet teaches you to move as if you are a beautiful woman.

            Your posture can be the different between "striking" and "mousy." Your clothing can be the difference between "sophisticated" and "ordinary."

            And a good haircut and an animated, open, friendly expression, even if your features aren't classically pretty, can be the difference between plain and cute.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I am a big advocate of doing something crazy with your hair just for the experience! If your hair is a constant source of stress, then it's pretty liberating to just know that nothing can be done for it. For example, if you cut it really short or shave it off or perm it, then even if it doesn't look good, you can be like "oh, well I can't do much about it until it grows out so I might as well accept it."

            The experience of making the decision can make you feel more in control of things in general! And when other people ask you why you did it, well you just felt like it. Which makes you a total badass because you did something without worrying about what they think or asking if they think the new style would look good on you. ^_^

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Amusingly, when I decided to shave my head for the summer (it gets stupid hot in Austin) suddenly half the comments I got were “NO! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HAIR?!?”

          • I actually got a page-boy haircut a few years ago, just for funsies, and either people didn't notice, or they looked at me for a second and then said," Guys don't like chicks with short hair." Except I look horribly with long hair! So, give up, I do.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I think the correct response in that case is WELL I LIKE MY HAIR WHICH MEANS I DON'T LIKE GUYS WHO DON'T LIKE CHICKS WITH SHORT HAIR AND ALSO I DON'T LIKE YOU, WHAT THE HELL KIND OF COMMENT IS THAT.

            These people are huge jerks. ><

            I hope you liked your hair! =)

          • Not sure I can say that to my mother. :-) I liked my hair in an isolated way…. for example, if I was alone in my bathroom I liked it. But then I stepped outside, and guys ignored me even harder than ever, or assumed I was a lesbian, and then I didn't like it so much. That's kinda par for the course, though-I am mostly confident in my style choices until I step out the door into the real world.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Okay, for the record, mothers can be jerks. Many people's mothers tell them stuff like that all the time, mine included, but it doesn't mean it's a nice thing to say. "Whatever, I like it," is a mother-appropriate response. ^_^

            I think this is what the article is about! A more self-importance-leaning (narcissistic?) person would hang onto that feeling of their awesome hair alone in the bathroom and not really give that much importance to how the rest of the world reacts. I think it's great that you have a sense of style! The trick is to hang onto it when people react negatively? Because it sounds like you go out into the real world and start to feel uncomfortable and then THAT starts showing. Uhh, I recommend more frolicking around your house in cute outfits and … avoiding your mother? =/

            I think sometimes people figure out that their opinion matters to you? And then they start offering unsolicited opinions it to because they feel powerful that they affect you! That's pretty much bullying! Don't let them get to you!

          • But shouldn't their opinions get to me? I mean, if my style is bad/off-putting/Ugly-Butch-Lesbian, which is potentially putting off people, shouldn't I work to change it?

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            No! Not at all! As long as your style doesn't in some way invade their personal space, it's not their problem! (Your hair gets in their face or your perfume is too strong? You have offensive messages on your shirts? Those are the only things I can think of.)

            Do people often give you style advice you didn't ask for?

            If you LIKE short hair, you need to date a guy who likes your short hair! Some guys like short hair! Some straight guys like girls who wear less femme clothing, so you should wear that if that's what you like to wear! You should wear what looks and feels good to you!

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            You may be familiar with the phenomenon of concern-trolling, which is when people disguise hurtful statements as attempts to help you or improve you in some way? I think your mother's comment was kinda one of these. It sounds like it's "helping" you attract guys, but it's implying that you should be picking your hairstyle based on what "guys" like, and not what YOU like, which is like saying "you are not important." Which is mean! And not true!

          • Oh no, they really are trying to help upon reuqest. I ask for the comments because I absolutely never get hit on. Not a tiny time. So I am always wondering out loud what's wrong with me, which is when I get comments about having short hair, or not wearing make-up right, or wearing non-stylish clothes.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Ahh, nooo what noooo. You are allowing people to control you!

            People don't know what style is good for YOU! You know better what style is good for you! People who ARE trying to help you are going to still end up dressing you in a mash-up of their style and what they THINK you'd like? Or what they think people who might like you will like on you! No one knows that!

            If you like your short hair in the bathroom mirror, go out and rock your short hair outside! It is the right hair! People who like you will like the hair you like!

            I think probably you don't get hit on because you are always wondering out loud what's wrong with you, not because you have the wrong clothes/hair. People don't want to date someone who thinks something is wrong with them! Stop that! Nothing is wrong with you! You are awesomebuckets!

          • Sorry but I wasn't getting hit on even before I started wondering how loud what was wrong with me. *Shrugs* My style has never gotten me attention, so obviously there's something wrong with it. I don't think it's illogical leap to say "If I change my style, I might get attention."
            I mean, isn't that what part of this blog is about…. guys changing their style to become more attractive?

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Just out of curiosity, do YOU ever hit on people?

          • Not anymore, but I did. It…. didn't go well.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Given that I'm not well versed in your daily life, here's my thought. Your personal style is clearly not the reason you don't get hit on. You've tried it your way. You've tried everyone else's way. I'd say explore what you like. Take input from others but incorporate it in a way that's uniquely you. You say you don't care for the way you look with long hair and the basic pageboy isn't getting results? How about something vintage like a medium length Bettie Page or a classic updo? Maybe try a pixie variation or (my favorite) the A-line bob. Pick one that goes with what you wear when you're trying to look your best and rock it.

          • Plus a million.

          • Yeah, to some extent. But there's no one correct style that's the most attractive to everyone, the important thing is just to find a style that works for you and rock the hell out of it.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            Due to the fact that you are posting with your face book I gotta say you are pretty cute. I personally think the confidence shows in some of your pictures. In some of them you "shine" that you think you look badass and you know it. I all kinds of agree with Juuuuuulia, you rock what cloths you like and make you feel awesome when you feel awesome act that way. You may not get hit on right away but you may find some friends that like you for you.

          • A number of us have told her that she is cute and interesting. But rather than listening to us, she listens to these terrible people who are where she lives.

            It is frustrating.

          • I feel like a creepy cyber-stalker saying this, but Marty, please believe them. You are really beautiful, and seem like a person that would be fun to talk with.

            You say that no one ever hits on you. And honestly, I probably wouldn't either – I would expect that someone who look like that gets hit on so much it bothers her, and I don't want to add to that. I'm not sure whether there are a lot of people who think like that, but there might be, and if there are, then some of your problems might stem from that.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I admit it, I stalked Marty too. Marty, you are super-cute! =)

          • In a sense. I think that there are generally good style choices. I always feel very disingenuous when I dressup, like I'm expecting people to like me for. My advice, if you're choosing a style, it to do whatever helps you feel comfortable in the groups/culture that you want to be a part of. In general, you're going to find fans of any style you care to adopt. I've seen plenty of girls rock short hair, long hair, punk atire, sensible clothes, etc… It's less about what you choose as how you use it. So long as you're comfortable with it, you can make it work.

            That said I think there's a bit of tension between standing out and feeling comfortable with your style, especially if you're shy or not used to people thinking you're attractive, and you kind of expect any attention you receive (at least on the basis of your looks) to be negative. Myself, whenever I dress up for a party or something, there's always a part of me that expects people to say "What are you doing? You know you aren't that cool/attractive", especially around people who know me well and are used to my usual "Jeans and mono-colored t-shirt" look.

            IIf you're looking to experiment with different styles, I suggest getting one of your friends to do it with you. This sort of runs contrary to the whole "choose your own style everyone else be damned" attitude that other people have been recommending, but it can make you feel a lot more comfortable experimenting. For example, one time two of my friends and I decided we were going to go in sweaters, ties, and slacks to a party (where everybody else was dress like normal college students). Had I been the only one doing this, I probably would have felt ridiculous, but the fact that they were also doing it made it feel a lot more comfortable, even after I split off from the group to talk to other people.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Actually, to be honest, my "style" has never gotten directly me attention either, beyond "I like your elephant/octopus shirt." I think when you DO get attention, it's hard to trace it back to whether it was your style that did it, or if it was other aspects of you-ness.

          • There's a fine line on that. Yeah, if your style is bad — AND THAT BOTHERS YOU AND YOU WANT TO BE STYLISH — you should change it. But not in a way that doesn't make you feel like yourself. When you make a good style choice, it feels more like you, or like a side of you that's been hidden coming out.

            If you want to have a personal style and want to convey something about yourself that contradicts how you look now, by all means, go for it. But don't do it because your mother told you you have to.

          • Well, I want to be attractive. Since my current style is not, I would like to change that. Sadly, I have to be the most fashion-allergic person on the planet. I can put together fantastic outfits for friends or make-believe, but when it comes to dressing ME, it's a nightmare.

            It's why I relate strongly with some of the guys on this site. I'd also happily take them shopping; the lack of variety is a double-edged sword for men's fashion. Not a lot to choose from, BUT not a lot of ways you can screw it up either!

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Maybe take it over to the forum for some dissection and/or suggestions? I'd be happy to chime in but I'd need more examples than the comments section have room for.

          • I have to say a few things:
            1) Lots of guys like short hair.
            2) If someone thinks a page boy looks Butch lesbian-ish, they have no idea what a butch lesbian haircut is. Butch lesbians don't wear pageboys.
            3) You seem to just have the worst people in your life and you need to stop listening to them.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            In addition to her boring-sounding friends, we have now collectively hated on Marty's mother.

            "Guys don't like girls with short hair."
            "Oh yeah? Well people on the internet don't like mothers who say stuff like that. -.-"

          • Oh hell yes you can! Part of growing your own as a woman is to put Momma in her place when she criticizes how you look. It is scary as hell the first time, and then it becomes thrilling, then you get to a point where you just roll your eyes and say, "Okay, Mom, whatever."

            I bet you would rock a page boy. That's a hot and can be a soooooooo wickedly sexy look. The problem is, you have to back it up with an attitude that says, "You know you think I'm a freak in bed. That's right. Go ahead and fantasize. Do you want me to wear leather? I bet you do."

            You never say that out loud, but it should be a constant refrain in your internal monologue.

            I love short hair, and I'm at my most wicked when I have a short cut.

            Own it. You have to own it because it is for you and it makes you feel good. That rubs off on others really quickly.

          • "Guys don't like chicks with short hair."

            That's just not true. Some guys might not, but I would say that there are at least some that really like short hair – I know I do – and plenty more don't mind it at all. Also, it's quite convenient, as really long hair can get in the way.

            It's somewhat more true for *very* short hair, like a close buzz-cut, but there are people who like that as well (I wouldn't mind). But 'regular' short female hair cuts are just fine with many, if not most guys.

            And I'm not saying that you should choose your haircut based on what other people like, choose it based on what you like. But basing it on wrong stereotypes of what people like seems like the worst way to do it.

      • Right on the money. While lack of confidence can show up in a photo (certainly it did in some of the ones DNL's panel of judges rated a while back), there's not a lot of difference between someone just sitting there, and someone just sitting there…confidently. In the end, they're still just there.

    • I'm pretty sure any statement of "X is sexy" is not meant to imply "X by itself is sexy", unless X = sexiness, but then you end up with a useless tautology.

    • Because it's hard to read confidence from a photo rather than a video or in-person interaction, so what people *could* judge in the photos was how well the person presented themselves visually.

    • Juuuuuulia says:

      It seems to me that this relates to the locus of control again. If you're a narcissist, you're more likely to give yourself permission to wear what YOU like and spend time paying attention to how YOU look and feel because you think you're important (which you are). Or how you look and feel is more important that what others think you should wear, etc. So as a result, you appear more confident because you're wearing what you want and what YOU think looks good on you and you feel more comfortable?

      • Oh man, reading this I now realize that my parents also like to concern-troll me ALL THE TIME – every single time I go with my parents shopping and we enter a clothing store – they ask me, "what do you want?" and tell me to pick something that I find nice (as long as it's not too expensive). I found out rather quickly that they have an entire view of how I SHOULD look IN THIER EYES – for example, every time I find a shirt that I like or a jacket that I find nice in my eyes, they immediately object – telling me "it doesn't fit you at all", "not my style" (now I realize how patronizing that is – telling ME what is my style) and insisting that I select something more "fit" – usually meaning something that is a bit more loose on me.

        Personally, I don't like loose clothing – makes me feel uncomfortable but whenever I try to tell them my side – they insist that they have "life experience" and they "know what is right for me". This also happens with my brother, creating some fierce yelling arguments between me (sometime between my siblings) and my parents (especially my dad). Thing is that my sister, who I whole heartedly trust when it comes to fashion, also thinks that less loose clothes fit me (though not all).

        I usually fold when my parents object and go along with it – mainly because it's not my money who funds it (I don't work yet, but plan on getting a job within a year or two). Thing is it's not that I think that the clothes are ugly or I HATE my style – on the contrary I think I dress rather nice. It's just that sometimes I want something a little different, but my parents are holding me back, mostly because I feel obligated not to deter from their view point to much – because it's their money, not my own.

        • Your parents are concern-trolling and just being controlling in general. I suspect that, like a lot of parents, just don't want you to grow independent. They want to keep their "baby."

          Get a job when you can, that is the first step towards independence. Then you can do more what you want to.

          Good luck, and stay strong in the meantime!

        • Juuuuuulia says:

          Blargh, that sucks. I think also while you don't have a job, ask for gift cards for major holidays! Because that way it IS your money after it's been gifted! Then you don't have to deal with having to listen to the person funding you.

  5. Paul Rivers says:

    "One thing that the Black-Etjoff study found is that the those people with dark triad personalities may make for great initial impressions but lousy long-term ones. In fact, their personal popularity tends to drop the more people get to know the real person behind the flash and smoke."

    The question is, then – in a culture where women seem to lose interest in a guy if they haven't slept with them within the first 1-3 dates/meetings, and dating a guy she's been friends with is seen as incredibly unnattractive, how would a guy without the dark triad personality attributes get a girlfriend?

    He can improve his attractiveness and upfront appearance and appear sexier – but as long as he's competing with the dark triad personality types, he's always going to be a second tier choice. Even worse for him, since the dark triad personality can't maintain long term relationships, those guys are always around and available, competing with him for the girls in any social setting.

    • Since when do girls lose interest in a guy if they haven't slept with him in the first 1-3 dates?? I have never heard of this…. I could see a girl losing interest if a guy hasn't made a move in the first 1-3 dates, but that doesn't necessarily equal sex.

      Additionally, there are plenty of women out there who DON'T enjoy the Dark Triad personalities. I find them intimidating and off-putting. So there's always the option of dating THOSE types of women. However, that might require "settling," since these girls are also considered second-tier options…. they aren't always the Hottest Girl on the scene.

      Furthermore, the article outlines that if you can adopt certain behaviors, you can become a Dark Triad copy WITHOUT becoming a sociopath. So you can be the Mega Dark…. the Dark Triad, without the negatives of that personality type.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        "Since when do girls lose interest in a guy if they haven't slept with him in the first 1-3 dates?? I have never heard of this…. I could see a girl losing interest if a guy hasn't made a move in the first 1-3 dates, but that doesn't necessarily equal sex."

        While I am personally more comfortable with that sentiment myself, with a couple of exceptions, everyone else I know in the last 4 or 5 years who's been dating has been followed that pattern. Either they're sleeping together, or they don't keep going out and don't date again.

        "Additionally, there are plenty of women out there who DON'T enjoy the Dark Triad personalities. I find them intimidating and off-putting. So there's always the option of dating THOSE types of women. However, that might require "settling," since these girls are also considered second-tier options…. they aren't always the Hottest Girl on the scene."

        If I read the article right, to be fair, this applies to either gender.

        That would be an interesting point to ponder – does a girl being "very hot" actually *require* dark triad traits? It's an interesting point, because I've seen this happen myself a couple of times – a girl I find super sexy up front dates someone else I know. I'm usually super bummed, but then since I'm friends (or friendly acquaintances) with this other guy, over time it turns out this girl is kind of a psychopath (in the exactly the sense described in the article).

        It's definitely something I've been pondering the last couple of years…

        "Furthermore, the article outlines that if you can adopt certain behaviors, you can become a Dark Triad copy WITHOUT becoming a sociopath. So you can be the Mega Dark…. the Dark Triad, without the negatives of that personality type."

        The articles says "means that you can cultivate these traits to your own advantage without the negative aspects that come with them".

        That is a topic for some debate. I haven't seen anyone pull that off – as well as the "naturals" – without becoming a bit sociopathic themselves. Haven't seen anyone match the ridiculous overconfidence and devil may care attitude without either seeming a bit disingenuous, or actually becoming that.

        • I don't think you need to be ridiculously overconfident to be attractive. Just confident enough to seem at ease talking with other people and like it's no big deal with things don't go exactly your way. Like Marty says, a lot of us find extreme overconfidence and a complete lack of caring to be a turn off.

          And I'll point out that in your example about sleeping together early in the relationship, you don't actually know that those people stayed interested or lost interest because of how soon they slept together. It could quite easily be the other way around–that they're still together because they were really into each other (which led to sleeping together early on)/broke up because they weren't that into each other (so didn't sleep together).

          • Or it may just be that people in Paul's circle of friends tend to have sex very early in their relationships, and would only wait if they were very uncertain about the other person. My old group of friends tended to be a lot like that. But the group of people I currently socialize with tend to be a great deal more careful about their sexual partners, and many of them would be a little shocked or insulted at the idea of sex on the second or third date.

          • Very true! Many different people out there with many different expectations and preferences. :)

          • I'd like to add my hear hear to those that say not every woman likes the bad boy types. I prefer the uber responsible type myself. (Engineers are so hot!)

            And I also wouldn't be put off by not having sex by the third date so long as I'm confident that my date is actually attracted to me. I'd start to wonder by date three if he showed no interest at all.

          • Definitely agreed! The trait that makes men stand out the most to me (in a v. v. good way) is the ability to see what needs to be done and do it. This is certainly tied into confidence, I think, but not necessarily the flashy kind- it could just as easily be someone who notices that there are buckets of dirty dishes to be done (and washes them!) or that someone needs space (and helps them to get it!)

    • Paul Rivers says:

      I remember when this became a thing – about 5 years ago, almost every girl I knew started expressing stories about how they should never date anyone in any of their social groups. Date someone at work, you'll have to run into them again. Date someone in their friend group, they have to run into them again (after they break up). Apartment building, restaurant they go to, etc etc etc.

      When it's become a negative to date anyone you run into on a regular basis – doesn't it end up that the "dark triad" traits are *always* what makes the hottest person the hottest?

      • I've certainly heard those stories. There are some good reasons to be wary of dating, say, coworkers. That doesn't mean that people always follow their own rules.

      • I would guess online dating, but that means it's pretty darn easy for non-Dark Triads to compete. Take a really good picture and spend a lot of time editing your profile, and you can present yourself in the most confident and attractive light possible.

        And AGAIN, some girls don't WANT Dark Triads.

    • According to the study, all they need to do is put some in some extra work on their appearance, and they'll be on equal footing with the sociopaths.

      Though I'm going to question the claim that women lose interest if they haven't slept with a guy within 1-3 dates. Some women expect to have sex early in a relationship, but a lot of others wouldn't consider it. Actually, I'm also going to question the claim that dating a friend is incredibly unattractive. I know a fairly large number of couples who were friends prior to dating. Granted, it's not a good idea for a guy to use that as his sole dating strategy, since it's not very efficient, but it's not like it's something that never happens.

      • I had massive perpetual crushes on practically all of my guy friends. All they had to do was ask. They never did.

    • I've never known any women who would lose interest in a guy if he hadn't slept with her within 3 dates. I've known many women who'd be turned off by a guy who expected they'd definitely sleep together within 3 dates. A woman might start to question a guy's interest if he hasn't shown *any* physical interest in her within 3 dates, but just kissing covers that.

      And I've never met anyone who would refuse to date someone from any of their broad social circles if they hit it off with that person. Who would you date if you never dated anyone even from places you go to regularly (based on your elaboration in your second comment)? Only strangers who hit on you walking down the street? That doesn't even make sense to me. I do know women who are hesitant to date existing friends for fear of messing up a good friendship, and hesitant to date coworkers due to the possibility of creating tension at work, but acquaintances almost always seem to be fair game.

    • Lose interest in a guy if they haven't slept with them within the first 1-3 meetings? That's the most bizarre thing I've heard today. I know very few women that would sleep with a guy *before* they've gotten together at least 3 times.

      • I haven't seen girls lose interest in guys if they haven't slept with them within 1-3 meetings.

        But I HAVE seen women lose interest/become frustrated if a guy hasn't expressed interest or made some sort of move.

        So I think it isn't about the sex per se, it's about making your feelings known.

        • Ah, totally agreed that girls will drop guys who don't show any physical interest. Last summer I went on 6 dates total with two separate guys, and NEITHER of them ever made a physical move. And yet they kept messaging me to get together. It was such weird behavior, that I scurried away, assuming it meant they weren't into me. (And they probably weren't, thus the not-initiating anything.)

          • SpiltCoffee5 says:

            I actually went down the line of thought just then that both of the guys were too nervous to make a move and were maybe waiting for the "perfect opportunity" to do so. It's possible (I'd even say more than likely) that they were both into you, but they were both way overthinking how they should go about making their move and kept freezing up.

        • Anonyleast says:

          I've also seen girls lose interest because the guy did make a move that early. Basically, everyone is different.

        • That I can agree with. If someone hasn't learned to communicate clearly with me and be open about their expectations (whether it's that I'll answer their emails within 24 hours or that they want a romantic relationship) within 3 meetings, I'm not sure we're going to have much of a relationship of any sort, whether it's business or personal.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Isn't that… smothering or going too fast or something similar?

          • No.

            Don't mistake "telling you every detail of my feelings and my future plans and mapping out our future until we retire" for "being clear about what you're looking for." Overcommunication and clear communication are two very different things.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            So is this just a subtle difference then? "I'm dating you because I'm looking for a long-term partner to have regular sex with, by the way are you okay with dogs?" vs. "If we get married, we'll have regular sex and a few dogs."

          • No, it's the not-at-all subtle difference between:

            "And I want 2 kids, a boy and a girl, and a wedding in Mexico, and a 2-story colonial in a nice subdivision, and I'll do the dishes M/W/F and we'll alternate Sundays, and I want to make sure we have a nice guest bedroom because my parents will want to visit really often…"

            and

            "Hey, I really like you, but I want to make sure we're on the same page as far as what we're looking for. I'm not interested in dating someone who's not open to a long-term relationship — I'm not saying that that's what this will turn into, but I'm open to the possibility and if you're only interested in something short-term and casual, we're probably better off moving on."

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            This! Granted, it can be gut wrenching and the delivery can be tricky. If, as a guy, you can get to the point where you can have the latter conversation, things will be much easier on everyone. Three dates seems about right, too, if its someone you know or if there's been some non-date meetings to get to know the other person. By that point you know enough about each other to make an informed decision about what sort of relationship you want to work towards and what other sort of relationships you can live with.

            Having this sort of conversation also opens up the ability to have these sorts of talks as the relationship develops.

          • To me it's the difference between dating as a teenager (where everything is possibly TWOO WUV and omg, what does it mean that he bumped my knee?!) and dating as an adult, where you decide what you want and take active steps to find someone with whom you can have what you want. It's about being realistic: sometimes other people's goals don't match yours. No harm, no foul, as long is everyone is honest and respectful of the other's preferences and feelings. But part of that respect and honesty is not wasting each other's time if possible.

      • Anonymoose47 says:

        I think that's a PUA thing. You give them three dates, and if they haven't slept with you by then, move on because she's never going to sleep with you anyway/too much work/etc.

        I think the theory also went that women don't have a problem getting into relationships with guys they sleep with early, but will hold off on sleeping with guys who are going for the relationship, so even if you want a relationship, you could be having a lot more "fun" by finding one of those girls instead.

        • Ah, should have known. If it's weird, it's PUA.

        • Trent Bolone says:

          That rule has nothing to do with PUAs haha. I know some men have 2 date rules, and some men only do one night stands.

          Personally, I hold to a 3 date rule because I disagree with the commodity model of sex. The way I see it, dates are places where people have fun and see what happens. If a woman refuses to have sex before a few months pass, she’s obviously demanding commitment/investment, and she’s trying to force a commodity model of sex on me.

          • Er, no, she's not "obviously demanding commitment/investment" or trying to force something on you if she doesn't have sex within three dates. You can see sex as something fun that you do with other people, and still feel it's a very intimate act (because it is! How often do you get naked around other people?) and not feel comfortable engaging in that intimacy with someone you've only just started getting to know. I mean, if you're saying you don't date women who state arbitrary rules like "I never sleep with anyone until we've been dating at least four months" because that shows they're thinking in terms of restrictions rather than how things are going with each individual person, that kind of makes sense. But it sounds like you're saying if a woman ends a make-out session on the third date and says she doesn't want to go any further right at that moment, you won't ask her out again, regardless of how into her you are otherwise, because you make all these assumptions about why she isn't going further. And that sounds just as arbitrary as the woman who always waits a set amount of time. A woman could just as easily say, "I have a rule that I don't date guys who have a set timeline in which they need to get sex, because they're obviously demanding I give them physical intimacy as proof that the relationship is worth it for them, and trying to force a commodity model of sex on me."

            If sex is such an important part of a relationship to you that you won't be happy in a relationship unless it's happening very early on, that's totally fine. That's your preference and comfort level. But assuming that everyone else should have the exact same comfort level as you, and that there's something wrong with them if they don't, is a very unreasonable way of looking at the world.

          • Or maybe she just doesn't feel like having sex with you yet and it has nothing to do with the commodity model of sex at all.

          • Trent Bolone says:

            The problem then is figuring out:

            1) If she ever wants to have sex.
            2) If so, when? I don't have all decade, buddy.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            There's a relatively easy way to determine the answers to these things without figuring them out but I'm going to sound like a broken record if I repeat it.

          • "Use your words."

            And if you're with someone who can't do that in return, and who makes coy statements instead of at least trying to talk clearly about the developing relationship, her values, and her sexual needs? Run like hell.

            I'm going to keep repeating, so you don't get the wrong impression, that this doesn't mean you need to date someone who says she's uncomfortable having sex with someone until she's known him for a few months, or until she's married, or that she'd rather not have sex at all. But there are ways to figure these things out without applying an inflexible rule and assuming that everyone who falls on the "wrong" side of it is a bad person.

          • I keep starting to write comments, then scrolling down and noticing you've already said it better. :-)

          • "she's obviously demanding commitment/investment, and she's trying to force a commodity model of sex on me. "

            It doesn't seem obvious to me at all. Would you be willing to elaborate?

          • Trent Bolone says:

            "I don't have sex before we've dated for 3 months" = "I won't sell sex for a price under 3 months of commitment"

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Or "I won't sell sex at all and it takes me three months to figure out whether you're in it for me or in it to try and buy sex with relationship coins."

          • Trent Bolone says:

            I wish the relationship coin thing worked, life would be a lot simpler then.

            While I'm at it, I also wish for a 15% flat sales tax and a villa in Tuscany.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Yeah, then one person would always be a commodity. If that's what you want, there are professionals who will provide sex for money.

          • I got that. I'm just curious about the "=" sign in the middle.

            How do you know that's what she means?

          • Or, you know, she just has a different timeline than you do. Or it takes her awhile to feel comfortable enough to engage in such an intimate act with someone. Or she doesn't sleep with with people outside of a relationship, whether that means dating or friends-with-benefits. Or it's against her religion or beliefs. Or she doesn't want to date someone with weirdly specific arbitrary deadlines about when there needs to be sexytimes.

            There are at least half a dozen more likely explanations I'd jump to before I'd say someone is "trying to force a commodity model on you."

          • It seems like you hold one as well, since you're directly tying it to a strict deadline.

            I prefer to have sex fairly early in the relationship, but not everyone who holds a different view is pushing for commitment by holding out a prize. A lot of women I know dislike intense, high pressure early dates, and feel that putting off sex until later keeps allows them to relax and take some time to decide which partners are right for them. Some have trust issues for various reasons, and don't feel safe sleeping with someone they don't know well. Some others have strict moral views about sex – I don't hold them myself, but that doesn't mean they're wrong. And sometimes the third date just doesn't end up being very sexy for whatever reason, and she'd rather wait until the fourth one than to try to make the night lead somewhere it really isn't.

          • Um, how is demanding commitment forcing a "commodity model of sex" on you? I emphatically reject the commodity model of sex, but I wouldn't sleep with a guy I haven't known for around half a year (it's not like there's a set length of time, but I have to know someone really well before I'm comfortable with physical intimacy).

            Also, I don't want to sleep with a man who doesn't feel that sex is something shared between two deeply emotionally intimate people. Our values are too different.

            There are lots of different reasons for not wanting to jump into bed with someone you barely know.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      That would be true (your last paragraph) except for a few things:
      1. non-psychopaths aren't inherently less attractive. They tend to put less effort into physical appearance and come across as less confident. Those are both things you can do something about.
      2. As has been said elsewhere, scenes are small. Your functional psychopath will find himself on the outs quickly enough.
      3. In my experience, the most attractive set of traits for women in general amounts to a decent person who genuinely likes women as people (not a Nice Guy) who takes care of his appearance, projects confidence and is genuinely confident enough to be honest about his interest in a relationship/sex. If you've got that, the bad boys are trying to catch up with you.

    • "The question is, then – in a culture where women seem to lose interest in a guy if they haven't slept with them within the first 1-3 dates/meetings, and dating a guy she's been friends with is seen as incredibly unnattractive, how would a guy without the dark triad personality attributes get a girlfriend? "

      Is it possible you have cause and effect mixed up here? I'm guessing that at least some of the times when women "lose interest" in a guy they haven't slept with in 1-3 dates, they actually just weren't that interested to begin with. I for one will go out on a date or two with a guy even if my hormones aren't screaming SEX, SEX NOW. If in the process of getting to know the guy better I become more attracted, great. If not, then I move on.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        Not sure what you would mean in reference to my post by cause and effect, as what you wrote *is* the cause and effect…she likes him more, so she's more likely to sleep with him sooner – and she might like him more because of the so called "dark triad" traits.

        If you have one guy who was a "7" in attractiveness if you knew everything about him, and another guy who seems like a "9" but if you knew what he was really like would be more like a "3"…the "7" guy always gets beat out by the "9" guy when the "meet and start dating" period is very short.

    • 1. I have never heard of this 1-3 dates/meetings thing. I can only think of about two women who would even sleep with a guy that soon.

      2. I don't know any women who would find dating a friend incredibly unattractive, unless she wasn't attracted to him to begin with, which has nothing to do with being friends already.

      3. I only know a handful of women who find the dark triad type appealing, so it's not going to be a second tier choice for most women.

      • To your third point, I doubt I know any women who actually find this type attractive, but I know many (myself included once or twice, I'm sure) who have been taken in by this type's ability to seem like real people.

        • Yep. My second boyfriend fit that profile, but he put on a very convincing performance of being a kind and sensitive soul–and *that* was what won me over. After I realized it had been a total sham, I never wanted to see him again.

  6. VintageLydia says:

    I’ve always felt that a part of confidence is taking pride in your appearance. People who are not confident won’t be dressing or acting in a way that draws attention to themselves. It doesn’t even have to be the latest fashions. I have a fairly basic wardrobe of jeans and t-shirts or blouses. Most days my make-up is fairly subtle and my hair is lucky to see a hair dryer–most days it’s thrown in a ponytail by noon. However, my clothes all do fit, they aren’t warn out with holes. I learned long ago how to put on make up without looking and feeling like a clown and my hair is cut in such a way that i dont have to do too much, if anything, to it for it to look decent. But when I feel and act confident, I get attention. When I don’t, I tend to fade into the background.

    So it’s less of an either/or but more of needing both. A reasonably presentable/attractive package is usually a sign of confidence, but not the ONLY sign. IME, a certain amount of swagger can push someone from “OK” to attractive.

    Shoot, a certain amount of swagger can push someone who looks almost sloppy to attractive! My husband’s cousin is a woman with a shaved head, over weight, and where’s baggy shirts and jeans. But she’s a lightening smart college professor who is very confident in herself and her abilities and it shows. She is extremely socially aware and knows how to work a room (essential for dealing with hundreds of college undergrads every semester.) She doesn’t NEED the shortcut of good clothes/makeup/hair that I do to gain positive social attention.

    • VintageLydia says:

      Grr this was supposed to be a reply to Marty Farley

    • Myster Baad says:

      How in hell can a woman "swagger"? It's gotta happen below the waist, and they don't have the goods. Is she a stuffer? Or is she just intimidating in her competence?

      • Our swagger is a little more sinuous than yours, but it happens. Swaggering has nothing to do with your genitals, and everything to do with your confidence and the freedom of movement that expresses it.

        • Indeed! Of course, I've known some pretty handsome butch lesbians who certainly had what Myster Baad would think of as traditional swagger. And some rural working class heterosexual women when I used to go country two-stepping certainly had swagger.

          • Myster Baad says:

            Now that I think of it, swagger could center around the elbows and upper body. Sort of psychically pushing people away from what you're after. A claiming of space that might be shared as yours alone. A subtle intrusiveness. "Hey, I've got the right be here – what are you going here?" Swagger doesn't offer room for the other unless the other takes it.

            Am I any closer?

          • Myster Baad says:

            "the right be here" = "the right to be here"
            "what are you going here" = "what are you doing here"
            dammit

          • I do think Swagger is about taking up space…so women are discouraged from claiming it. But some women do. And it is awesome!

            Actually, I was in the Army with a lot of women who had swagger.

          • Yeah, I'd say that's one way of looking at it. There's definitely a territorial element to a good swagger. Not necessarily pushing people out of the way or intruding on them, but projecting a sort of "I own this space, because I am a badass" aura.

          • Not invading others' space physically, perhaps…but making them feel they're not entitled to take up their own space?

            If there's no intimidation, there's no swagger.

  7. jinmontana says:

    Great post! I'd also like to add this suggestion:

    At no time should you ever refer to yourself as being a "nice guy." Sadly, there are so many men out there who call themselves nice guys and rail and rage about how women don't like nice guys, who are actually total douchebags. Any more, a man calling himself a "nice guy" sets off my alarms. A man who actually IS nice, doesn't have to say he is. It will be obvious from his behavior.

    • People aren't nice. Cars are nice, furniture is nice, clothing is nice. Nice is an adjective best used to describe things and its a really vague one. People are kind, gentle, polite, and a host of other things. Think of it, when a person is described as nice it can mean a whole bunch of vague things that can be interpreted differently. However, if you describe a person as gentle than its pretty clear what you mean. A gentle person isn't violent and isn't going to say anything mean to hurt another person or raise fists to commit violence against people. At the same time, a gentile person might have horrible manners and won't be polite, in the sense of having good manners. A gentle person can be uncouth. A person describe as polite isn't uncouth, that person knows how to behave in most social situations, has excellent manners, and comes off polished.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        While I agree with jinmontana that describing oneself as "nice" is a bad idea – though I would say it's most likely because it's become so vilified. (I have no idea if these supposed manipulators actually exist in an significant numbers – when I was in college stuff like this would seem to go around about whole groups of people who seemed pretty made up, promoting some sort of philosophical agenda).

        But my grandmother would take great issue and offense with your claim that "people aren't nice".

        • thecynicalromantic says:

          Nah, describing yourself as "nice" is a bad idea because straight-up telling someone "I think I'm totally awesome!!" and expecting that person to react all like "I guess that person is totally awesome; they told me so themselves!" rather than "Okay… so, that person has quite a high opinion of themselves…" demonstrates clearly that you do not really understand how forming judgments about people works. Also braggy. Being nice isn't something you can claim for yourself the way you can say "I like Pokemon" or "I play the guitar", so attempting to do so makes you look like a stuck-up jerk.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            Self Identifying as nice is IMHO worse than saying "I think I'm totally awesome!!" I personally agree with the above commentators that say that nice is way to vague to the point of being nearly meaningless. In the past I have describe myself as nice, it was a "brag" but just barely, at the time it was all I could muster with the confidence I had. To me if a person says hey i'm a nice person, they may as well say hey I have a pulse for all the confidence/cockiness it projects.

          • Ainuvande says:

            There's a quote from a musical that I think applies here. "Though scary is exciting, nice is different than good."

            Pretty much sums up my take on the whole "nice guy" thing. Don't be "nice" to me. Be a decent human being. Be a good person overall. Much more likely to earn the respect necessary for a relationship.

          • Into The Woods! Best musical ever! (Sorry, I run into relatively few people who've even heard of ITW, let alone can quote from it, so I get excited. :D )

          • I'm a Sondheim fan, so I, too, like Into the Woods. Though Sweeney Todd is my favorite!

          • Relatively few people heard of Into the Woods? Where do you live?

          • Toronto. I don't think there's been a major production of it here since I saw it almost twenty years ago. And not too many of the people I hang out with are regular theatre-goers. And honestly, I don't see people mention it online very much, either. Glad to be around fans. :D

          • It was in Stratford a couple of years back. Really good!

          • Ah, I'm sorry I missed it! Would have loved to see it live again. I don't keep up on local events stuff as much as I should.

            Are you a fellow Ontarionian, then?

          • I am. Cool to learn I'm not the only one here!

          • Awesome! Between the two of us and Moose, that makes three Canadian DNL regulars so far. We will eventually take over the internet with our polite pacifist ways… :D

          • Muahahaha! Donuts! Aboot! Sorry!

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Totally not sorry, eh?

        • I'm against describing people as nice because the word is too vague to be a real compliment. The word nice can mean all sorts of things and some of these things are mutually contradictory. I've described some of these above. A person can be gentle without being polite or polite but not gentle. However, both gentle and polite are much more accurate descriptions of people's behaviors than nice.

    • I've literally gone off on a guy who said something to the effect of "you rejecting me [because you're never going to be where I live again] is just what happens to nice guys like me." He wasn't particularly nice to me, and I told him so. Not that he was mean or boorish or anything, mind, but he didn't do a single thing that I, or Mr. Rivers' grandmother, would call nice, yet he claimed the title. Irritating.

      • What I find most irritating is that certain guys seem to think that being nice means they're owned the affection of whichever woman they decide they want to be with, and that if she isn't interested, that's somehow "unfair". I'm sorry, even if you are legitimately the nicest person the planet, that doesn't mean it's your right to have any specific woman be romantically attracted to you. Even if that woman has said in the past she wants a guy who is nice–because that doesn't mean she wants any guy in the world who is nice regardless of their other qualities; it means she wants a guy who is nice plus whatever else makes her attracted to a person, minus any other dealbreakers.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          When I grew up I saw these same things that turned out to barely even exist – do you actually see this happen in person? Has it happened more than once?

          I mean on the one hand, no one I knew who was actually a nice guy would pretty much ever describe themselves as that to other people. On the other hand, there were quite a few ideas of what "guys" did that girls would repeat again and again – but I later realized that *no one* had actually had experience with these supposed guys, it was just repeated so many that people assumed it was actually true.

          Someone calling themself a nice guy when they get rejected doesn't say anything to me – people say all kinds of untrue things to preserve their ego when they get rejected. If he called her a bitch, it by no means means she was actually doing anything wrong, and if he claimed he was a nice guy it by no means means he was.

          • It has never happened to me personally, but then, I haven't experienced most romantic/dating scenarios because I've dated relatively little and never been pursued by a guy in person (all dates came from online interactions). None of my close in-person friends dated much either. However, I have seen actual guys ranting in this way ("She said she just wanted a nice guy, and I was always there for her and did whatever she asked for, but then she went and dated this other guy who's obviously bad for her. She used me! She was lying about wanting someone nice! If she really did, she'd have dated me! Etc.") many times. Not only in these situations, but the easiest way to find examples is to look at any popular post about Nice Guys–you'll see guys like that defending their right to be pissed off at the women who didn't want to date them despite how "nice" they were. I've also seen it happen to a close online friend (and then seen the guy in her case go on to repeat that behavior with other women).

            And I've seen multiple guys just in the comments on this blog suggest that women clearly don't actually want guys who are nice no matter what they say, because they "never" actually date guys who are "nice" (often using themselves as an example).

            I agree that the guys who claim to be nice while making these complaints are generally not actually nice. My point was just that *even if they were* that still wouldn't mean any specific person owed them romantic feelings returned. The complaints are invalid whether the person is nice or not.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            However, I have seen actual guys ranting in this way ("She said she just wanted a nice guy, and I was always there for her and did whatever she asked for, but then she went and dated this other guy who's obviously bad for her. She used me! She was lying about wanting someone nice! If she really did, she'd have dated me! Etc.") many times.

            Right, but that's totally different. An ex-girlfriend of mine hung out with me for a while when she moved back to the city I lived in. Aaaaaaaaaall she talked about was how she wanted a guy who was nice. That was actually the word she used, "nice". A guy who had warm eyes that you could tell he was a caring person. Etc etc etc…she would never sleep with someone outside of a relationship…yada yada yada.

            I wasn't happy when she turned me down for dating again – but not as unhappy as the next 5 guys she went through, as I had some idea that what she thought she wanted – wasn't exactly what she really wanted. I *really* feel sorry for the next 5 guys who stuck their neck out for her, who bought into her whole spiel and image, only to be rejected by her "didn't make a move at exactly the right time" bit (it was really true for her emotionally, but that didn't make it any less hard on the ego), or the "I kissed you but there just wasn't chemistry" thing, or…well, probably several others that I didn't hear about.

            Now things are going "really well" with a guy who "doesn't think he ever wants a relationship" – some sort of player who owns a 3 level townhome by the river. She says it's great because she can relax around him.

            When a company brings you in for an interview for your technical skills, you go through the interview and they say they really like you, they say they want to hire you, they say "you're hired!" – then you show up for the first day and they say "we changed our mind, we decided to hire this chimpanzee instead, you don't have the job" – you have every right to be pissed. You don't have a right to burn the place down – but you have every right to be kind of angry, and that anger reminds you that you got roped in.

            When a girl present herself as someone who wants a guy to be nice to her, talks about it, emotionally draws him in on that premise – then totally rejects him and goes after the complete opposite of that, yeah, he has a right to be angry. He doesn't have a right to "force" her to date him (though honestly I wonder if that's even a real thing), but he has every right to have feelings of his own. Just because he's a guy doesn't mean he suddenly has no right to his own feelings.

            The other common thing that occurs is the same thing that women do when they get rejected – she'll get together with her friends and they'll all talk about his bad qualities, and how he wasn't good enough for her, and how he missed out – etc etc etc. It's to preserve their ego and self-esteem, and guys have the right to do the same thing.

            Not only in these situations, but the easiest way to find examples is to look at any popular post about Nice Guys–you'll see guys like that defending their right to be pissed off at the women who didn't want to date them despite how "nice" they were.

            People do have a right to have their feelings, yes.

            I respect a lot of your posts, but here it sounds a lot like you're saying that the guy has no right to have negative feelings about getting turned down. There's a huge – and extremely important – difference between someone who's in the other persons face about it, and someone who's just complaining to their friends about it afterwards. As you said, you've only really seen the second case, which is not the same level at all.

            I've also seen it happen to a close online friend (and then seen the guy in her case go on to repeat that behavior with other women).

            Sure, sometimes guys do get stuck in a negative loop about this stuff, and that's not good.

            Or – a few guys just genuinely are either manipulative assholes who will use whatever they think will work.

            My point was just that *even if they were* that still wouldn't mean any specific person owed them romantic feelings returned. The complaints are invalid whether the person is nice or not.

            There's a huge difference between "owed them romantic feelings returned" and just being upset over it. His complaints aren't any more or less invalid than girls who bitch about guys who turned them down either.

            But a guy giving a girl an earful when she turns him down is a *totally* different thing than a guy bitching to his friends about a girl who turned him down, to. Like I said – there's no shortage of girls saying nasty things about a guy who rejected them when he's not around either. It's an ego-preserving exercise, but guys don't have any less of a right to do that than women do.

          • It's fine to be upset about rejection. It happens to all of us. It sucks.

            What's not fine is to take it out unnecessarily on the person rejecting you. Have your piece, be done with it, and move on. It's also not fine to use a rejection as an excuse for making nasty generalizations about the other gender going forward. People are different.

            If your former girlfriend actually had 10 different male friends who wanted to date her but were rejected after you, she has some personal issues to resolve. You'd do better not to spend time with her. But she's not a universal theory of women.

            (My personal Nice Guy experience from a decade or so ago was pretty much the opposite. He wasn't a friend or an ex, I'd been clear with him that I wasn't looking for a serious relationship with anyone and didn't want to date or even be close friends with him, and still ended up with a nasty bad boy lecture about a couple of short relationships that I'd enjoyed and hadn't wanted anything more from. He followed it up by spreading an untrue rumor about me hooking up with him. Charming fellow.)

          • Also, on the job interview metaphor, being friends with someone or even exes with someone isn't the same as applying for and getting a job, only to find things are different on the first day. It's not even the same as applying for the job. The comparison to that is asking a girl out, or proposing you start up the relationship again. If she doesn't agree, she sent you a rejection letter.

            You're not obligated to stick around to listen to HR complain about not finding qualified candidates, or to learn that the boss's son got hired instead. But it's not like you were offered something and had it taken away from you unfairly. You never had it in the first place, and they have the right to hire anyone they want. If it upsets you to hear that the job description wasn't accurate and that they really wanted someone with good connections, and didn't actually care about whether the person was in the top 25% of his class, then you shouldn't do post-mortems with the HR department. Spend the time looking for another job instead.

          • Okay, whether the guys express their frustration to the actual women has nothing to do with my original comment. I said I find it irritating that certain guys seem to think that being "nice" means they're owed a chance with specific women. It's the thought pattern that bothers me, not only specific actions resulting from it.

            The only way I can get an idea of what guys think is from what they say. And there's a big difference between making yourself feel better by saying that a person isn't good enough for you anyway and complaining like a person was unfair in rejecting you, not because of the way they rejected you, but because you did X and X means they should have wanted you. The latter shows a sense of entitlement. How often do you hear women ranting that a guy obviously is lying about what he wants, that he deceived her into thinking he wanted to date someone fun (or whatever quality guys might say they're looking for), but even though she was so fun to be around, he dated some other women who didn't seem as fun, that's so wrong of him? I'm sure it happens occasionally, but I see guys doing it much more often. (And if I saw a woman talking that way, I'd criticize her for it too.)

            Even in your example, you're not dong a very good case of saying the guys who dated that women were right to feel she was unfair to them. Not feeling chemistry is a perfectly valid reason to break things off with someone! Feeling they aren't into you enough since they haven't made a move yet is a perfectly valid reason to break up with someone! Both of those factors can co-exist with niceness, so that doesn't mean she was lying when she said she wanted someone nice. Since when do we require people give a list of every single factor they'll consider while dating before they're being decently "upfront"? I don't see that she tricked these guys or made false promises in some way, I see that she's struggling to find exactly what she wants (maybe even to figure out exactly what she wants, which again is not being deceitful, it's being confused). And you know, just because the guy she's dating right now isn't ready to commit, doesn't mean he's not nice to her. Players can be very nice-appearing and charming people.

            Anyway, you're right that everyone has a right to their feelings, and I have a right to feel that certain ways of thinking bother me if they're going to talk about it in public. It bothers me when people think gay marriage is going to ruin hetero marriage somehow, even if they think that way because they *feel* threatened. It bothers me when people think bullying someone is funny, even if they think that way because they *feel* happy having power over someone else. And it bothers me when people think that it's unfair or outright malicious for a woman to use a variety of factors to decide who she dates, and not to have been consciously aware of every single one of them and stated them upfront, even if they think that way because they *feel* frustrated at being rejected.

            Obviously I can't stop people from thinking that way and ranting about it. Are you saying I shouldn't be allowed to have and express my own feelings about what they say? Your main argument here doesn't seem to be that I'm mistaken that some guys think this way, but that I shouldn't criticize them for it because it's their feelings. I'm not sure why their feelings make them above criticism, but I'm somehow wrong for expressing mine at all.

  8. About the clothes thing. I have a little bit of man boobs and a stomach, which when trying to find a t-shirt that I like to wear makes it hard. If I get a medium its too damn tight and shows off my moobs and stomach, and if I get an XL it's too baggy. My size is around the 31 in. length and 22 in. in width. It fits, but it is a bit baggy and long to the point where if I wear anything over it, the shirt peaks out at the bottom just a tad. I cannot help this and I don't like wearing clothes that form to my body that show off my fat.

    • Maybe the answer is not a t-shirt…. or a t-shirt covered by a button-up. Structured button-ups do great things for elongating your body and hiding "lumps." You can get them fitted without them being tight, and showing off what you don't want.

      • I was going to say the same thing. T-shirts are very unflattering on certain body types.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          I would go a step farther and say t-shirts are rarely flattering. At best they're a neutral piece of fabric that look good because something clever is printed on them.

          • Agreed! A band tee under a suit jacket is sexy and casual, but I'm not a fan of just a tee shirt unless you're sleeping or at the gym (myself and guys).

          • I disagree heartily! Tshirts are one of the few pieces that actually look good on me, largely because they stretch. Then again, I'm trying to flatter the curves on my torso rather than hide them. (And by flatter, I mostly mean accommodate.)

      • Yup! T-shirts can be hard to pull off. More structured shirts or t-shirts layered with hoodies or other pieces can be a little easier to wear.

        • I am a big fan of sweater vests. Or really nice button-downs with a simple t-shirt underneath. I am…. unsure about hoodies, I think too many of them make a guy look slovenly or like the Uni-Bomber. If you DO wear a hoodie, make sure it's an interesting color and is somewhat fitted. If your hoodie is loose, it ends up making you look even bigger than you already are.

          You might also try t-shirts over long-sleeve simple tops. You can get the long-sleeve shirt a little tighter, and then get your regular size T-shirt. This creates a more structured look (hiding your lumpy areas), and you can still wear the T-shirts you love.

          • Yeah but my "style" (if you can call it that) is t-shirt, jeans, sneakers and either a leather coat, blazer, or nothing at all. I am most comfortable wearing t-shirts and my of the tee's I have are graphic ones, having images on them that I like.

          • Then wear the t-shirts over long-sleeve shirts, and tuck in the long-sleeve shirt. You can't insist that your style is this One Unchanging Thing, and then complain about that style. T-shirts are just not workable for all body types. It just isn't possible to re-construct a T-shirt to hide body bulges; they just aren't built that way.

          • BritterSweet says:

            Well. You can either stick to your style or try other ones. Either get in better shape so your T-shirts look better on you, or try out some other clothes that flatter you better. If you don't like your looks the way you are, yet are against making any improvements, then you're stuck.

          • I agree with Marty on the long sleeve shirt thing. My ex used to have your same issue, he had a tummy and a bit of man boobs, and some loose flesh from really fast weight loss. Under-Armor makes these long sleeved shirts that are stretchy and smooth out your shape a bit, so you don't look all bumpy under your tee-shirt. He used to wear those under everything, and it looked very nice.

          • I looooove short sleeved shirts over long sleeved shirts. Makes me think of Josh Hartnett in The Faculty, which was pretty much my high school obsession.

    • I agree with Marty here. Stop with the t-shirts as outerwear. I only wear t-shirts as outerwear when I am self-consciously planning on looking like a bum.

      You can wear your t-shirts as underwear, but then they should be tucked in so there wouldn't be any peaking out at the bottom.

      So what should you be wearing? Depends a bit on your style and where you live…and it's weather. But some form of button down shirt would be the way to go. It could be a dress shirt, or a more casual button down. You could even go a bit more indie/retro and go to daddyo's and bick up some stylish bowling shirts or guayaberas.

      I had two professors who were quite heavy. One would wear fancy guayaberas and bowling shirts with khakis or linen dress pants. The other would wear very fancy t-shirts (usually with a raised collar…almost a mock turtleneck) under nice blazers with dress pants. Both of those looks were professional but still casual (at least in a California academic context). Both men looked handsome and stylish and were dressed in ways that faltered their frame.

      Also remember too tight clothes won't do much to flatter you if you are heavy, but never will really baggy clothes. Really baggy clothes just add girth and make you look heavier. Get a sleek tailored look, and vertical stripes are slimming.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        All this conversation makes me want long-sleeve, button down fitted shirts with clever graphics on the back. Best of both worlds.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        Bowling shirts, I forgot those! Short sleeve, casual, more flattering than a t-shirt and you can find them with clever silk-screening. They work as outerwear and under a jacket of any type. If you're looking to expand and jazz up while keeping your core style, this would be a great place to start. By pure coincidence I have a matching two tone blue-grey/black bowling shirt and suit jacket. It literally goes from snazzy casual to snazzy formal in the five seconds it takes to put on the jacket.

      • It depends on context — in my industry people ask if you're interviewing elsewhere if you're in anything *other* than a t-shirt and jeans, but there are t-shirts and then there are t-shirts. Cheap ones are likely to not flatter anyone, but a well-made one, properly sized, can be flattering to a lot of different shapes.

        However, if you've tried a variety of them that don't work for you, I think you can safely decide they're not for you and look at other casual options if you want to be casual. There are casual button-downs, for example, (made of more colorful fabric, generally, than traditional business button-downs) that are flattering to many people. The fabric is generally thicker, too, so it minimizes bulges.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Have you tried turtle-necks?

      • When I was younger yes, and they're not bad. Not my thing but if there is ever a turtle neck which is pretty good then I may pick it up.

        I will say this to Brittersweet, Marty and anyone else who has offered other choices on what I can wear: I am sorry if I came across as just whining for the sake of it, but I will consider what you brought up as alternate clothing. There are probably some nice pieces of clothing out there that would be perfect for me so I'll keep my eyes open and try out different things when I get the chance. Thanks.

        • A big belt buckle can help too *(depending how big your tummy is and where your jeans ride). A softer tee (NOT 100% cotton) will bunch a little around the buckle and mask a pooch. Not a gut, but a little extra cushion.

          Just a thought.

      • FormerlyShyGuy says:

        Turtle-neck and chain perhaps?

  9. The Dark Triad traits are the legs on which the pedestal of confidence (really irrational overconfidence) rests. I'm not sure it's really possible to separate them.

    • I've met guys who are confident and well-groomed but not narcissistic manipulative psychopaths. My husband, for example. So clearly it is possible.

      (Is it as easy? No. But taking the easy route means, as DNL points out, you only get short term success, not long term.)

      • That bit in parentheses made me think of this quote from Scrubs.

      • Remember, these are highly loaded terms. As the Doc points out, those who have them in sub-clinical levels are not the mustache-twriling Snidely Whiplash types we tend to think of.

        Regarding the "easy route," wouldn't game theory suggest that a man should seek out as much commitment-free sex as possible, even if his goal is a "real" relationship?

        • Okay, but I know confident men who are the *opposite* of some of those terms–who are upfront (as opposed to manipulative) and quite concerned about the feelings of others (as opposed to being psychopathic). You can very much want to make people happier when you have the opportunity, but still have the confidence to let rejection roll off your back, for example.

          Narcissism, as DNL defines it, is on the same end of the scale as confidence and good self esteem, just at the extreme. So you wouldn't want to be the opposite of that. But from what I've seen, you don't need to be over-confident to be appealing.

          I haven't read up on game theory, so I don't know what it suggests. But I'd say that if a man is seeking out commitment-free sex by teaching himself to relate to other people in ways that most people find unappealing in the long term, then that would actually be counter-productive to a goal of having a "real" relationship (assuming by "real" we mean long-term committed). And I'm pretty sure guys who are confident and well-groomed can find casual sex partners without being manipulative and psychopathic, so it's not as if DNL's suggested approach precludes you from having casual sex while looking for a "real" relationship anyway.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Even overconfidence is different from narcissism. Some folks aren't easily scared off by things they know are above their capabilities. The word you generally hear applied to them is "fearless" not "full of himself". The difference is in the reaction to failure. Your overconfident/fearless type person shrugs, might be a bit disappointed but not overly so and learns from it. Your bordeline narcissist would take the same failure as a personal affront from the universe, proof that someone is sabotaging him/her or something to cover up and make up any lie necessary to hide it.

        • Is commitment-free sex a prerequisite for a "real" relationship? If not, then surely game theory would suggest that a man with the goal of a "real" relationship should not seek commitment-free sex as a means of achieving his goal.

    • I am confident (and at times in my life have been irrationally overconfident, because that's how you succeed when success isn't a given). I am not a sociopath or psychopath, and I'm not particularly Machiavellian (I'm straightforward about what I want from people, and fairly blatant in how I go about getting it). Narcissism is something that's hard to judge for yourself, so I'll leave that one alone. Of the many successful, confident people I know, none are narcissists, and I'm reasonably certain most are not psychopaths.

      Furthermore, while I know there are studies out there showing that depressed people have a more realistic view of their capabilities than psychologically healthy people, I'm unaware of any study indicating that it is only possible to be confident if you are a psychopath, narcissist and/or manipulator. Citations, please?

      It is absolutely possible to separate them.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        I don't think we can link on the comments section here, but wikipedia for "Dunning–Kruger effect" says –

        "The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes.

        Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. Kruger and Dunning conclude, "the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others"."

        "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"
        "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

        • I'm quite aware of the Dunning-Kruger effect, and have in fact cited it several times on this blog. None of the research I've read on it links it to psychopathy/sociopathy, narcissism, or being manipulative. So what's your point?

          • Paul Rivers says:

            I find it difficult to believe that no one else has linked them. Narcissism is being totally involved in oneself, per the Dunning-Kruger effect who is more confident that everybody likes them than the person who has no concept that other people even have their own feelings?

            Machiavellianism is "the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct" related to being able to partly detach from morality – who would have more confidence that they're moral, per the Dunning-Kruger effect, than someone who has lost track of morality?

            On of the definitions of a phsychopath is "a chronic inability to feel guilt, remorse or anxiety about any of their actions" – who can be more confident that they'll feel good about the results of their actions than someone who has no idea what guilt, remorse, or anxiety even feels like?

          • Paul Rivers says:

            To be clear, I don't disagree that you don't need to have those traits in order to be confident. But people with those traits do find it easier to be confident regardless of the situation or what's actually going on.

      • We're talking about sub-clinical levels of these traits, (Generally speaking. Sometimes the Dark Triad succeeds in wooing others despite criminality and even murder.) not people in need of mental health treatment.

        You don't need to be sneaky to be manipulative.

        • But you don't need to be manipulative to be desirable, either.

          • All goal-oriented communication is manipulation.

          • In a narrow understanding of the word, sure, but that is not what we are talking about.

          • How so? Manipulation is manipulation.

          • You know, sometimes I think you don't really care if what you're saying makes any sense, as long as you don't have to give the slightest bit of ground on the arguments you've made.

            Are you seriously saying that when I go to a restaurant and say, "I'd like to order a hamburger," that's manipulating the waiter? I mean, it's communication, and I'm communicating only because I have a goal (getting the hamburger). I find it incredibly hard to believe you honestly think that example meets the standard definition of "manipulation".

            But hey, why listen to me! Let's look at the most widely accepted source for word meanings, the Miriam-Webster dictionary. According to it, the definitions of "manipulation" in the way we mean here (social manipulation, as opposed to manipulating objects) are: "to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage" and "to change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one's purpose". http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/manipul

            Not all goal-oriented communication is "artful" (saying "I want ___" requires no particular skill) and straight-forward, honest goal-oriented communication is by its nature not "unfair" or "insidious". Therefore, not all goal-oriented communication is manipulation, unless you are making up your own definitions for the word, which makes it very difficult to have a constructive conversation.

        • Uh, you do if you want to succeed at it — assuming you're not defining "manipulative" as "anything that gets people to do what you want" (because sometimes being upfront and honest gets people to do what you want, and that's the opposite of "manipulative" as it's used in common parlance), having people recognize what you're doing defeats the purpose.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      There's a big step from "beginners are more confident in their abilities than they deserve" to "only narcissistic psychopaths are capable of projecting self-confidence". By that theory, I'm some sort of manipulative psychopath. That in turn would mean that I'm deliberately feeding people bullshit, since caring about other people's feelings (which I regularly advocate) is anathema to Dark Triad types. After all, I'm pretty self-confident.

      The problem with that theory is that no Dark Triad type would even bother manipulating people on an Internet comment forum who can never do anything for him. No one here is worth my effort as a mark, only as a person.

      • Strictly speaking, I think that yes, at least some of those traits have to exist in a person in order to portray real, consistent self-confidence in everything they do (in a rational sense). Because nobody is confident in everything they do, having the Dark Triad along for the ride, makes projection of this overconfidence possible.

        Specifically, the Dark Triad are part and parcel of the irrational, exuberant overconfidence that women love.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          The thing is, these are traits defined by their extremity.

          Self-esteem could be said to be "a little bit of narcisism". The difference is defined by the healthy idea being taken to unhealthy extremes.
          Charisma, being good at dealing with people, is similarly different from being a machiavellian manipulator.
          Psychopathy has a bit less of a clear-cut healthy version. By Doc's description, it would be someone who knows what they like and isn't afraid to show their passion.

          The difference between these Dark Triad traits and their cousins is in other people. A healthy person can make sure to look out fo their own interests while still being capable of considering the interests and feelings of other people. The DT type is, by definition, only out for themselves. Nobody is confident in everything they do but not showing doubt is a world of difference from not considering other people to be real people.

        • As I said before, I am neither manipulative (I can't lie to people plausibly face-to-face) nor psychopathic. I'm not sure about narcissistic, since it seems like whether you're a narcissist or not, you wouldn't think that you were, but at least I know that no one has told me I am.

          I also rarely have doubts that I can meet whatever challenges are placed in front of me personally or professionally.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Well obviously we're both narcissistic Machiavellian sociopaths, then. Telling everyone otherwise is just a smokescreen. Encouraging people to be respectful of other people is just our way of undermining the competition. Maybe we should start a cult and cash in.

          • It will be the BEST CULT EVER. Because the first things I'll do is recruit a good marketer, and someone with a decent sense of information architecture and user experience design to write the scripture. And then we will TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

            How's THAT for confidence?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Do you know a good marketer? :)

          • I do! And I'm not so bad myself.

    • As you say, those attributes contribute to unrealistic overconfidence. However, there are people who have more modest levels of confidence, and they often end up on top eventually.

  10. Great post! In defense of liking Byron: He might have been a narcissistic rake, but he also had incredible command of the written word, and I'm sure was also great with it in spoken form. So yea, I'd hit that.
    In defense of Loki: Personally I find him kinda whiny and obnoxious, but if I have to choose between him and the unsalted saltine cracker that is Thor, I would choose Loki every time. Also, mythological Loki >>>> comic/movie Loki.

    • Mythological Loki could get it! But partly because early on he's just brilliant and mischievous but also pretty self-sacrificing and loyal (he risks his own skin many times to get the other gods out of scrapes, albeit sometimes ones he got them into). I think most women would want that Loki, not the raging "I'm going to bring about the end of the world" dude he ends up becoming.

      From what I've seen (having read a lot of fan fiction) the main appeal of the fictional bad boy is not his badness, but the idea that the hard exterior is hiding a warm and caring but wounded heart, heh.

      • This is true. There is something appealing about being the one person that gets to know the soft, gooey center of a bad boy. I mean, I used to have the most elaborate fantasies in high school about the school asshole professing his love for me…

        • Anonymoose47 says:

          Fake being a sociopath, then show her your secret heart of gold. Sounds like a plan.

          • …a sitcom plan?

          • A bad plan. Why would anybody want to hide that they are a good person? Yes, I realize that there are reasons for doing so but I'm usually not impressed by them.

          • Trent Bolone says:

            Define "good."

          • yea if you want to attract high school girls…

          • it lasts pasts high school

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Yeah, seems to me not everyone matures past that stage.

          • True, but…. does anyone who has matured past high-school level really want to go out with someone who hasn't?

          • Plus a million! I'm giving out plus a millions so fast here I'm burning up my whole store of pluses!

          • SpiltCoffee5 says:

            I see this eventually escalating to "plus infinity!"

          • Been there, done that. Not this thread yet, though, but there's still time!

          • Le Jacquelope says:

            …or women who like whiny obnoxious murderers like Loki over heroes like Thor?

          • Sigh. That's really not what's going on with the Loki fandom. First of all, Hemsworth's Thor has his share of fans. Beyond that, because it's the movies, we're limited to two opposed characters rather than given a full spectrum of different types of guys to lust after.

            There are a good number of women who are just more attracted to Hiddleston than Hemsworth, and who will coo over him whether he's playing a bad boy or reading Shakespeare. There's also the fact that Loki has some positive personality traits that Thor lacks – Loki comes across as far more intelligent, his sibling issues are the most relatable thing in a movie that's basically about people who have almost nothing in common with the viewer, and Loki gets a lot of the good lines. Women who are drawn to those things, or who are simply left cold by Thor, are going to gravitate toward Loki for those reasons – not because they're into cackling eeeeeevil. It isn't just women, either. Look at movies that feature a woman who's an ally of the hero (rarely a hero herself) versus a female villain. Some men are drawn to the good character, some men are drawn to the villainness, and who's more popular will depend a lot on characteristics other than who's labeled good and who's labeled evil.

            The thing is, in the real world, there are smart, verbally adept dudes who are comfortable talking about their family issues who aren't constantly trying to inflict various horrors on the earth. Take away the dichotomy, and a lot of that fades away. Hell, even look at movies with broader casts, like the Avengers, and you'll see the Loki fans being less prominent as there are more characters to choose from. I found Loki a million times more interesting than Thor, but Bruce Banner got most of my attention in Avengers.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Or dress well, act confident, show off what a great person you really are and don't be afraid to be honest about what you want.

            If fashion, forwardness and confidence are the Dark Triad's trifecta, you can bring those without the psychological issues. You can also add things like compassion and genuinely caring about other people where the DT types can't.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Bah, fashion.

            I'm not sure how you show off not being a show-off either.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Who said don't be a show-off?

          • There's showing off and then there's showing off. You can have good qualities on display (showing them off), without being an obnoxious show-off whose every action screams "Look at this!"

            Also, what's so terrible about fashion? (Unless we're talking about things like high heels, in which case, I second your bah and raise you a gah)

    • Trent Bolone says:

      Even the mythological Loki had a loyal wife who stayed true to him while he slept with all kinds of things, even a horse. And she stayed with him when the Gods put him in prison for killing Baldr.

      I guess even the Norse knew that chicks dig badboys.

    • Another thing about Byron, look at him! He is very handsome. Apparently, also very charismatic. I can imagine quite a few women or men being put under his spell bad boy or no.

    • Myster Baad says:

      "In defense of liking Byron: He might have been a narcissistic rake, but he also had incredible command of the written word, and I'm sure was also great with it in spoken form. So yea, I'd hit that."

      You're showing what an outlier you are. And I don't know you from Eve. But I do know that verbal skill is not the mark of manly competence that it was in Byron's time, or even our grandfathers'. It's now considered fronting, and an easily dismissed form of fronting at that.

      • That depends on class, race, region, education, and profession.

        The standards of "manly" language usage is different if you are, say, a bro, than it is if you are a college professor.

        That you use the word front places you in a different language usage category thn me, for example. If I use the word front or bring substandard verbal skill to the table, as a university professor it diminishes me in the eyes of my peers rather than elevates me.

        White men can get away with a bit more verbal skill without it deminishing their masculinity than black men. Black preachers can get away with more verbal skill without it diminishing their masculinity than a black athlete. Older men can exhibit more verbal skill than younger men. Officers can exhibit more verbal skill than enlisted soldiers without it diminishing thier masculinity.

        Just as women or femininity is not a monolith, neither are men nor masculinity. Masculinity is inflected by class, race, age, sexuality, profession, nationality, and a number of other factors.

        Just as their as Masculinities that valorize verbal skill, there are women and men who find that attractive in a masculine figure.

      • Not among writers, lawyers, and actors (three of my crowds). Banter FTW.

  11. GeekAvenger says:

    Is it wrong that I want to be a Dark Triad… not really for dating, or social interaction of any kind… but the name sounds awesome, like some sort of super villain team up. DARK TRIAD ASSEMBLE!! Or maybe a few anti-hero's teaming up… either way.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Madame Xanadu, John Constantine and Alan Scott are. . .THE DARK TRIAD!

    • I don't get the obsession with anti-heroes. It seems as inane with me as the obsession with being badass. Why would anybody want to be badass when they could be gentle and kind instead. It might not be as outwardly impressive but gentle and kind people do a lot more.

      • Maybe some of it's b/c if you want to be more gentle and kind, it's pretty easy to live that out in your regular life and there's little pushback if you try; if you want to be fearless, impressive, unaffected by social mores that you find restrictive, or capable of making dramatic changes in the world, that's a little harder to try on for size, so we enjoy living that kind of thing out in fantasy.

        • The original anti-heroes, according to the Greek understanding, were heroes without heroic traits. A true anti-hero is full of fear, self-doubt, is generally unimpressive, and cares about social mores. The Greeks would call somebody who is fearless and impressive a hero. Its not like the Greek heroes were paragons of virtue as understood by the monotheistic religions.

          • But that's not how it's currently used, so the original meaning doesn't really give much insight into the current attraction. But yeah, the Greek heroes were pretty much giant jerks.

          • But anti-hero as it is used today doesn't mean fearless, impressive, and unaffected by social mores or capable of making drastic changes in the world. And those qualities you mentioned are not incompatible with being gentle and kind. Rosa Parks was gentle and kind and was fearless, impressive, unaffected by social mores she found restrictive and capable of making drastic changes in the world. And I can think of quite a few other similar figures.

            The way we use anti-heroes now is to describe people who either a) use villainous tactics to accomplish good (The Punisher) or b) heroes with some really negative personal flaws that will eventually cause their doom or the doom of those around them (I suppose the Alan Moore Captain Britain, or Vampire the Masquerade).

            Both Superman and The Punisher are fearless and impressive and capable of changing the world. Only one of them is an anti-hero.

            In the post-80s grimdark comics turn, anti-heroes tend to murder and torture people–"because it has to be done."

            Oh, and last thing, being gentle and kind is not an easy thing to do that no one will give you pushback on…if you are a man at least. Dominant masculinity, for the last 150 years, has been constructed as martial and aggressive…being gentle and kind is discouraged. Sticking to those qualities means having your masculinity questioned and having to deal with a lot of social pressure to adopt a more "manly" stance.

          • Except that the modern concept of antiheroes is based on Byron, not the Greeks, which makes it the "true antihero," unless you're specifically speaking in the context of Greek myth or literature. Original != "true."

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        Slightly rephrasing enail – because being able to deal with your problems without having to fear reprisal from society is a common fantasy. Let's take the BP executives who were in charge during the gulf spill. If I said something like "someone should force his way into the board meeting, shove those guys on a helicopter and dump them in the fucking oil spill their negligence created", a lot of people would agree with me. Give Daniel Craig an uzi and a 5 o'clock shadow and put him in a movie about it and it would sell great. Its the fantasy of letting the id run wild without consequences. Given a helicopter, an uzi and a get out of jail free card would I actually do it? Of course not. I have my doubts about whether I could point a gun at someone if my life literally depended on it.

        • Exactly, and the more downtrodden by some entity that is more powerful than you you are, the more "I'm a total badass, and I'm going to rip off your face if you look at me funny," is appealing.

          • thecynicalromantic says:

            I think you are definitely on to something here and, in relation to the OP, it reminds me of something one of the earlier 2nd wave feminists said (I think it might have been Steinem?) about how women were realizing that they actually wanted to be the men they had been wanting to sleep with, or something… I think that, just as how many people tend to be the most annoyed/angered by the negative traits in other people that mirror what they dislike about themselves, a lot of people are also attracted in other people to what they feel is missing in themselves… and since women are historically the "caretaking" class and are still often socialized to be "nice" even to our own detriment, there are probably a lot of women out there who would really, really like to be brave enough to stop being all constantly nice to other people and just tell them to get bent once in a while, and are therefore attracted to dudes who are, y'know, all "brave" enough to be mean rude arseholes to other people. And voila, "nice girl with asshole" dynamic.

            I have noticed that as I personally have become bitchier and bitchier I am less and less impressed by dudes being mean, even the sort of "epic verbal smackdown" smart-mean so beloved of nerds, because I can do mean all by myself and I am actively trying not to fall into the trap of liking it too much. So now I have a heightened sense of ick when I think other people are enjoying being mean too much.

            Several years ago when I was much more depressed and shy and low-self-esteem-y, I had much more appreciation for arrogant twits (until I realized that even emotionally unavailable arrogant bastards can STILL be clingy sadsacks who suck up all your life energy by being horribly dependent on you. Somehow). But now that I am totes full of myself, I am no longer impressed by people's ability to be totes full of themselves.

      • FormerlyShyGuy says:

        Its not binary, you don't have to choose between "badass" and "gentle and kind instead" I am a veteran so many of my friend are veterans/active duty, myself and my friends are gentle and kind (or at least strive to be) but are capable of "badass" behavior when needed.

    • Well, you can't be a Dark Triad by yourself.

  12. I think its very important to point out that many men are very attracted to "bad" women. Its why tropes like the vamp or the femme fatale exist. "Bad" people are perceived as more exciting, more likely to be openly and it ease with sensuality and sexuality and therefore, more fun to date and be romantically involved with. Its not like men are entirely immune to "bad" behavior. The real issue is that until relatively recently men could more safely indulge desiring "bad" women than women could in dating "bad" men for a variety of reasons. Now, women have an easier time at and a lot of men are jealous.

    And to be honest, a lot of "bad" men aren't really bad, they just have a sort of devil may care persona or apperance but are at least average in terms of ethics, morality, and behavior.

    • Meyer N. Gaines says:

      Yeah, it seems that a lot of men use "badboy" as just a way to refer to "high status male." Sorta like how many woman use "creeper" not to refer to someone who's actually creepy, but to refer to a dude they rejected for whatever reason. Both terms let the sexes indulge their anger.

      • Noooo, if you get anything from this blog, understand that "Creeper" means "someone who made me uncomfortable/missed social cues -> made me uncomfortable."
        I don't call anyone a creeper who didn't genuinely creep me out, and don't know many women who do. "He wasn't my type" is the biggest reason my girlfriends give for not continuing with a guy (followed by "no spark").

        • Yep. I've never known any women who call men "creepers" regularly–it's always reserved for people who actually made them feel uncomfortable or outright unsafe. There may be a few women who do this, but it's pretty rare.

          • I've known a few. They've always been ESL; apparently creepy doesn't translate well, people often think it's the same as "weird."

          • Well, that's a language barrier issue then. And I'll point out that "weird" is still much more specific than "dude they rejected for whatever reason". It's fairly close to the usual meaning of the word, because someone acting or looking abnormally (weirdly) does often make other people uncomfortable. "Creepy" is just usually reserved for those more extreme examples, not any weirdness regardless of how it makes you feel.

          • Meyer N. Gaines says:

            I guess I need to hang around better women then.

          • You need to hang around better people. You guy friends sound like horrible influences…and who knows what sort of women they are into hanging out with.

      • No. Someone I rejected is someone I rejected. A creeper is someone who, when I indicated that he was making me uncomfortable and that I wanted to be left alone, refused to go away.

  13. Cthulhu's Intern says:

    I assume when you said about how the perfectionists would tell you how "Gannon" isn't in EVERY game, you intentionally misspelled "Ganon," right?

  14. Paul Rivers says:

    <blockqoute>For fuck’s sake, smile. A big, genuine smile that reaches your eyes. A friendly smile makes you much more attractive than a blank affect or trying to look “serious”. Part of George Clooney’s appeal is that grin – equal parts friendliness and mischief that promises stories you’ll be telling for years to come.

    That doesn't seem right…

    I went through and did a google image search for 2012 to 2006 "sexiest man of the year" and here are the top People magazine covers is came up with –

    (EDIT – I had a list of links to the pics here for reference, but when I post it it disappears- spam filtered for anything with links in it, I would guess. All I can suggest is doing a google image search for "2012 people magazine sexiest man", then changing the date to 2011, 2010, etc).

    Serious Expression – 4
    Serious Expression with a Grin or Small Mischevious Smile – 2
    A "Big Genuine" Smile – 1

    There have been quite a few studies that suggested the opposite, here's the first that came up in a quick google search from 2011 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/26/us-smil

    Quote:

    "Men who smile were considered fairly unattractive by women," said Jessica Tracy, a University of British Columbia psychology professor who directed the study.

    "So to the extent that men think that smiling is a good thing to do if they want to be found sexually attractive our findings suggest that's not the case," Tracy said.

    The men's reaction was just the opposite.

    "Women who smile are absolutely very attractive. That was by far the most attractive expression women showed," Tracy said in an interview.

    • As a woman, I could partially agree. When men are smiling, I like it. But when there are some kind of complex emotions, i.e. serious expression + smth, it's interesting to quess, what is the second emotion is.
      I think serious face go more to man's gender identity, than to what women are liking.

      • To expand the topic, men are shown on cover with clothes on, often serious and respectable. Woman shown with little to practically no clothes on, often in a vulnerable position, but smiling.

    • I think the difference is, that study is looking at reactions to photographs. Women may tend to find a still image of a guy more attractive if he looks brooding rather than friendly, but when they're talking to the guy in person, if he looks bored or gloomy the entire time, that's not appealing.

      If you watch the actors women tend to consider sexiest in action–e.g., in their movies–when they're flirting with a woman, they're going to be flashing that smile.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        Right, but it's often like 80-90% serious, 10-20% smiling. Like you said, they flash the smile – they're not walking around with the smile as their default expression. The smile, if anything, stands out because it's not seen that often, or is a minor but consistent element below the seriousness or concentration.

    • Yup. When it comes to attracting the opposite sex, women should smile, and smile a lot. Men, on the other hand, should wipe that stupid grin off your mug.
      http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/the-4-big-myths

      • Anonymoose47 says:

        I think looking serious only works if you have an attractive face. I look that all the time.

      • Dr_NerdLove says:

        You realize that's for photos, not for life, right?

        • And? Upon what are you basing the assumption that what people find attractive in the demeanor of a romantic prospect in a photo is different that what they find attractive "in real life?"

          • It's not the difference between photographs and real life. It's the difference between a single moment captured and being around the other person for more than a few seconds. And the difference between just looking at a person and actually interacting with them and seeing how they respond to you.

            Like I said to Paul above, watch men who women consider to be sexy on video–in their movies, in interviews, on the red carpet. They might put on the sexy smoulder for the snapping cameras, but when they're actually talking to people, they're smiling a lot of the time. And yet women still consider them highly attractive.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Well for starters, several years of being an amateur then (briefly) professional photographer. What works in a still photo doesn't work when the subject is moving and animated and – critically – interacting with other people. Paddy O'Solemn may work for photos, but not when you're talking to folks. Trying to come across as brooding and serious when you're picking someone up at a bar – since you're more of a bar guy – is going to make the woman you're talking to think that a) you don't like her, b) that you're not having any fun and c) why the hell are you even there if you're miserable?

          • "Brooding and serious"? Where did you get that?

            Try, "mysterious and ambiguous." Chicks dig ambiguity almost as much as confidence.

          • Anonyleast says:

            Because we live in a world where photographs are still, and real life is dynamic. Harry Potter is fiction, you know?

          • Damnit! Why did you have to go and tell me that? :P

    • I'd love tips on smiling. I'm not very good at it.

      • Once of the best tips I've ever heard about appearing genuinely happy is that your smile needs to involve more muscles than just the ones around the lips. Sort of squinting your eye while you smile mimics a true smile. There is a reason the wrinkles call crow's feet around the eyes are also called laugh lines.

    • In photos. Still photos. Smiling distorts your face, to a certain extent (makeup ads rarely have the woman with a broad or genuine smile, because it will make her eyes crinkle and show her laugh lines).

      But it's very different from interacting with someone.

    • Again it depends who it is, I think. I could post a serious or smiling picture of a guy I know who doesn't photograph that well, and he'd probably be judged by a large section of the country as very geeky and unattractive. If you know him, though, you'd also know that anyone within 15 years of his age would jump at the chance to get with him. Yes, he is quite geeky, but has fashion style, charisma, confidence, and passion for his job and leisure interests. He is almost always smiling in interactions with others. It's both goofy and confident, and he totally draws people in.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        To point it out, I agree that there are some serious expressions that end up looking "not sexy whatsoever".

    • Myster Baad says:

      The key for a manly facial expression is that it must be a MASK. It doesn't matter what it looks like as long as it is undemonstrative and can be read to mean whatever the viewer wants it to mean – be they an interested woman or a male arbiter of masculinity.

      Not smiling is not enough. You need to disguise any hint of contemplative thought. Imagine the Moai of Easter Island. Imagine a Marine on honor guard duty. Imagine yourself playing poker with God.

      • Anonymoose47 says:

        In my experience, this actually invites in more narcissistic people. They see themselves reflected in your blank slate.

      • That is only for some models of masculinity. There is more than one model of masculinity.

        • Myster Baad says:

          I exaggerate somewhat, but it is a highly prevalent and compelling model.

          • Prevalent since the mid-19th Century? Yes.
            Compelling? Considering how many men are actually unhappy with it and feel like they can never match up to it and resent it…I don't think so.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        Not sure if I agree or disagree, but just to be balanced, I know a lot of women say they feel like they have to wear a mask of almost always looking happy, cheery, and/or smiling as their default expression. They can look mad, sad, etc when appropriate and it's fine, but if nothing is going on they feel like they have to look happy in order to be attractive / socially well liked.

  15. BritterSweet says:

    And I'll say this again: If you don't like something, make a change for the better. Otherwise, what are you going to do? Keep complaining?

    • Okay…I wasn't trying to complain really. I just thought I bring it up and I was pretty surprise that people replied to it. If it came across that I did then well I can't control that.

  16. The Mikey says:

    I remember my high school sophomore English teacher (who at the time was a 26-y/o woman btw) once told these girls in my class that, "You don't want the 'bad boy', you want the good guy who *looks* like a bad boy."

    I thought it was kind of amusing back then, 5 years ago. But here I am now, reading the Doc's word where he's pretty much saying the same thing only in greater and better detail. So, that's pretty much what I've aspired to do, be a good/gentle man with a rugged/rough edge.

    • Oh so very, very true.

      Guy of my dreams is a tattooed, leather clad gamer who can make me laugh.

      • Does anybody like gentleman anymore? I don't want to look like a bad boy. I aspire to look and act like a gentleman. Like a bearded Cary Grant. I don't want to be a bad boy or look like one.

        • I dunno, I find the Gentleman archetype to be sort of inherently patronizing to everyone else, but that's probably personal preference. Once you take away all the sexist chivalry and noblesse oblige arrogance, what you have left is someone with manners. And that's pretty bland. I can have a bad boy with manners, I can have a strong silent type with manners, I can have a life of the party with manners, I can have an artist with manners, I can have a comedian with manners…

          • Myster Baad says:

            Yes, elegance is arrogance. Dressing idiosyncratically or anachronistically is arrogance. Not having tattoos is arrogance. Anything that strays a little too far from Whatever A Man Is Today is sending signals that are pro-sexist, pro-chivalrist, pro-elitist. Whether. You. Mean. It. Or. Not.

            Not acting arrogant may even be its own form of arrogance…call it passive-arrogance.

          • Dressing elegantly doesn't make you a gentleman. Dressing idiosyncratically or anachronistically makes you someone who dresses for whatever time period you're dressing to, not a gentleman.

            Gentleman (from Merriam-Webster):

            a : a man of noble or gentle birth
            b : a man belonging to the landed gentry
            c (1) : a man who combines gentle birth or rank with chivalrous qualities (2) : a man whose conduct conforms to a high standard of propriety or correct behavior
            d (1) : a man of independent means who does not engage in any occupation or profession for gain (2) : a man who does not engage in a menial occupation or in manual labor for gain

            Tell me HOW you separate classism from the concept of "gentleman."

          • Myster Baad says:

            Tell me where I even used the word "gentleman."

          • You were responding to a comment of mine about the gentleman archetype.

        • I think, like someone has replied before, that preferences are all very relative. For instance, two of my friends like "bad boys", one likes "pretty" men, while my other friend and I like both gentlemen and/or bad boys. So yes, you can probably find someone who is into your type.

          When I think of "gentlemen" and "bad boy" in the same sentence, I think of James Bond, so I don't think the two are entirely mutually exclusive…

        • If I recall correctly the age group your interested in, probably less liking of the "gentleman" look/persona, unless they're not from the super casual U.S. or Canada. In 5 or 10 years, much more likely. Have you mingled in steampunk circles, though? That might work for you…

          • Astral, my opinion of steam punk or cosplay in general tends to be on the low side. I think I said this in earlier posts but I'm not really into geek culture anymore, my tastes migrated into what used to be referred to as high-brow culture. I haven't purchased a comic book or anime dvd in years. Even when I was in geek culture, I tended to be on the edges of it. I never read fan-fic or dressed up in cosplay. It never was my thing. So hanging out in steampunk circles would be an exercise in frustration.

            Plus, I'm an amateur historian and I really don't like the ahistorical thinking of the steam punkers where they try to avoid the bad side of the 19th century. I have similar feelings towards Renaissance Fair goers.

          • I really hate the term "high-brow." As someone who started her adult life as a professional classical musician, and who comes from a family of arts supporters, board members, etc., calling the arts "high-brow" is what's contributing to their slow decline. There's nothing "high" about them: they are entertainment that can be enjoyed by anyone, just like any other entertainment. But that's a tangential rant.

          • Ooh! This is a topic we can talk about all day long! But that would be thread-jacking.

            However, if you haven't read it, let me recommend "Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America" by Lawrence Levine. If you like some good academic cultural history…it is fascinating!

          • Thanks! Checking out whether I can Kindle it…

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Does that include a section on the official "lowbrow" movement that came out of SoCal with artists like Coop? I love that stuff.

          • The book is about the emergence of cultural hierarchy…so it is basically all about the 19th Century.
            Note: I really like Coop!

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I like Coop and street food. I also like French Thai food and Leonardo. I'm ambivalent on the current postmodernist trend in highbrow art to make deliberate crap just to see if art critics can get the joke. On the one hand its crap. On the other hand they're getting paid to play practical jokes on art critics.

          • I don't think that the decline in theatre, classical music, literary fiction, and fine art among the masses was caused by calling them high-brow. The decline was caused by several factors. One of the main factors, is the decline in the idea that if you had a certain level of education than you should have some passing cultural familiarity with the fine arts. It used to be expected that people with at least some college education should have read James Joyce, Virginia Wolf, or similar authors and know something about art music. They might not necessarily understand it to well but they should at least read some of it. Somewhere in the 1960s and 1970s, this changed and now educated people are not expected to know anything about or like the fine arts.

          • The disappearance of middle-brow also hurt. Middle-brow functioned as a bridge between mass entertainment and high culture by providing something with greater aspirations than say pulp fiction but at the same time being more easier to grasp and understand than James Joyce.

          • I'd say there's still plenty of middle-brow arts out there! Some literary fiction is just a damn good read! (and so on, so forth) There's a huge range between James Joyce and Dan Brown!

          • Yeah, as someone who's currently publishing fiction (and reading a lot of it), I have to take issue with the idea that "middle-brow" has disappeared. There's tons out there that's more thought-provoking than pulp but more easily accessible than Joyce.

          • As a burgeoning historian-in-training and an übber geek over all things history, I promise you this idea of "low brow" KILLING all the good, classical, "high-brow" fine arts is well over a century old. Critics complaining about the DEATH of all things smart and sophisticated in the late 1930s borrowed from critics discussing these changes, who borrowed from critics in the mid-nineteenth century, and so on and so forth.

            Impressionists such as Monet or Degas? Shabby painters ruining the fine tradition of painting.
            In the early days of film? Low-brow entertainment for the poor masses.
            Positive portrayals of young "flappers" in the 1920s? Morally corrupting young women.
            The Marx Brothers? Anarchists ruining the political moral fiber of America.
            Jazz music? [insert gross racist, ruining white culture rant]
            James Dean movies? Obvious proof the cinema is trading in intelligent narratives and sophisticated acting to attract the money of teenagers who have no taste.

            And so on and so forth. Because of that, I don't like idea of today's culture "ruining" the high-brow fine arts. In my mind it's a centuries-old continuous loop of "Get off my lawn!" rants.

          • You're leaving out the class implications, however. It faded first to the rich were expected to know these things, then faded to the rich and well-educated, and now has faded to those who actively pursue these things in college, or those of us fortunate enough to attend the few schools that still take the idea of a full liberal arts education seriously. Heck, my boyfriend is an Ivy Leaguer, and he somehow managed to escape college without reading the f*cking Wasteland, which I'll remedy now that I've ensured that he's seen all the important parts of Hitchcock's oeuvre, and a good quarter of Shakespeare's dramatic canon. (YOU FAILED, IVY LEAGUE SCHOOLS. I had faith in you, and you failed me.)

            But it's *not* just a matter of education. Having to take an art history class in college is no guarantee that you'll attend galleries or museums as an adult (or, at least, that you'll donate to them, which is the part that's easy to track). And *not* having taken an art history class is no guarantee that you won't. Income level and the societal expectations associated with your profession/position are a better indicator.

            "Highbrow" comes from the idea that people of high intelligence and sophistication have a higher forehead than others. Surprise, surprise, a high forehead was also associated, in the Victorian era, with an "aristocratic" face.

            You don't need to be intelligent *or* sophisticated to enjoy most art. Mozart wrote the Magic Flute for the masses, and Shakespeare wrote comedies to appeal to the commonfolk. There is some art that requires guidance to understand — while anyone who's open to the idea can attend The Marriage of Figaro or La Boheme and love it, Salome or Lulu are not for a first-time operagoer.

            The same is true for all art. I read Pride and Prejudice at 6. That's the first time I saw Figaro, as well. And I was able, at that age, to feel the poignancy of Lady Jane Grey and the awe of Guernica. (Other things I enjoyed: Saturday morning cartoons, dinosaurs, Super Mario Bros, Greek myth, kickball and ghost stories, all of which are at a similar level of sophistication.)

            Was I ready for Ulysses, Abstract Expressionism (actually, bleh, I'm with Tom Wolfe on Abstract Expressionism), or Wozzeck? No. Do I appreciate "Dove sono" differently with years of an adult relationship, almost two decades of musical training, and more of life experience under my belt? Of course. That's what art does. It also enables me to see things like "Legend of Korra" or Pixar's "Up" and recognize art there.

            And hell, plenty of entertainment requires an introduction and some help understanding it before you can fully appreciate it. I've guided enough foreigners through their first game of American football to know that it's no different from helping someone learn to appreciate Verdi or Donne.

            (On a side note: "They might not necessarily understand it to [sic] well but they should at least read some of it."

            Screw that. EDUCATION FAIL. If your education doesn't enable you to *understand* art that does require study and guidance, taking those classes was pointless. Mandated exposure without actual *teaching* isn't any different from voluntary exposure without a guide.) (Cont'd)

          • The problem, though, with setting up some arbitrary distinctions between "highbrow" and "lowbrow" culture is that it both keeps people out and attracts people for the wrong reasons. If people avoid opera (which they do) because they see it as elitist and inaccessible, that term and the associated assumptions about opera are doing the world a disservice. If people choose to go to the opera because they want to appear sophisticated/wealthy/whatever (which they do), I'll take it, of course, to see an art form I love survive, but they're going for the wrong reasons.

            I worked in arts administration, in addition to being a performer, and for every poor college student who donated $25 because they'd learned about opera in their classes and come to appreciate it, for every aficionado who gave for the sake of lifelong love, there were four jumped-up software magnates, doctors or lawyers who donated because they were making a certain amount of money now and wanted to appear "highbrow." And while that's always been true of patronage, to a certain extent, and artists have always viewed wealthy dilettantes patronizing the arts for the social cachet rather than for love with a certain amount of (I believe, justified) disdain, what's changed is that now they're largely the only people *attending*, not just *donating.*

            And attendance numbers continue to drop because people who don't make much money, or people who didn't study certain things in college, think so-called "highbrow" culture isn't for them.

            Art is art, whether it's hanging in the Louvre or it's Bansky's graffiti. Beauty is beauty, whether it's Natalie Dessay or Adele singing. Emotional truth is emotional truth, whether it's Shakespeare or Pixar or Avatar: The Last Airbender (Lord above, grant me only the wisdom and grace of both Rosalind and Katara, and I will better the lives of all around me!). And all of this is true whether you're a child or an adult, have a GED or a PhD, are poor or rich.

            Some art (though far less than most people assume) takes some education to understand. Some art takes some life experience to understand, and all the education in the world won't do it. Most of it doesn't, though. These things will let you understand different aspects of it, but you don't need them to have a numinous experience.

            But regardless, arbitrary distinctions between "highbrow" and "lowbrow" are putting value on the wrong aspects, and barriers between most people and the art that should be for everyone.

          • But where do these distinctions come from? They come from elites who benefit from these distinctions–not misunderstanding by the masses. The elites to create and retain cultural capital and feel superior than other people. It isn't the masses who are erroneously thinking they don't get to have access to art. The elites have created these narratives on purpose.

            Additionally, you bring up Mozart and Shakespeare, but I think it is also important to note that they were relatively early, historically–before the creation of the middle classes that have been instrumental to these distinctions. Once you start moving into the classical and romantic eras (and beyond) many of the creators of art self-consciously created work for elites only–usually their aristocratic patrons, but also those with more esoteric education. Mozart is not Berg and they aren't creating opera for the same audiences or with the same values. It is historically and culturally inaccurate to put them in the same boat even if they both created "opera."

            There are a lot of people, not just in the realm of classical art but also indie scenes, that think that if the masses like something then the thing no longer has value. And they create art accordingly. The masses aren't wrong for feeling alienated by opera, they have been alienated from it deliberately.

            And it isn't just the works, it is also the context. Actors no longer perform Shakespeare in accessible ways, the RADA discourages the acting styles that were prevalent when a wider class range enjoyed those plays. And since Wagner (and others), the actual audience experience has changed. Gone are the forms of audience participation and behavior that were prevalent when a wider class range enjoyed those forms…and now we have high art as religion. And all the works of high art that have been created since those changes in the 19th Century have been created with those values and assumptions that purposefully alienate the working classes/masses.

            This isn't a misunderstanding on the part of the working classes. These works have become part of a system of oppression of those classes and elitism of those in higher classes (or those who want to assimilate into those class values).

            A person is better educated or a better person because they like Beethoven or the Wasteland.
            I prefer my students be able to talk critically and analytically about art, whatever it is–Umm Kulthum, Justin Bieber, Hildegard von Bingen–than be able to say they like various workers of high art as markers of erudition and sophistication.

            The democratization of art should not be used a cover to further delegitimize the works of art that the masses themselves currently develop and care about in order to maintain a hierarchy with the works and cultural practices of the elite on top and centralized.

            For all this talk about the poor suffering high art works, note:
            My classes on popular music don't count toward the music major (and they usually don't in most universities across the country), while lecture courses on Western Art music do.
            When I ask my students, many of whom don't even really like Western Art Music and in the context of a popular music class, who is the best composer of all time–they all know the "right" answer and say Beethoven. No one says Holland-Dozier-Holland or Cole Porter or Tansen of Emperor Akbar's Mughal Court. We have internized the idea the high art is fundamentally better than mass art…and usually only the works by white men within that canon.

            As a musicologist, sure, I like opera and all the rest. But it is a problem that these musics continue to be the marker of being an "educated" music listener, that these works of art are still considered the most valuable and edifying and that if you don't know it, there is something wrong with you–when no one says the same of any of the music of the non-western world or the music of the non-elite classes.

            Do I like Salome? I do. But do I think it is more important that people today know Salome than Nina Simone (or whatever else)? No I do not.

            "Democritization" can very easily become colonization.

          • Possibly a related point is that appreciation of a lot of music requires some kind of education. When I hit my pre-teens and everyone started listening to popular music (roughly, rock, pop, alternative, rap at the time) and I wanted to fit in, I had to PRACTICE listening to it before I started enjoying it! Seriously, I listened to the radio every night until it started to sound like more than noise and I developed a sense of what I enjoyed. Much more than I had to for classical (in the popular sense, not of the classical period) music before I started really liking it.

            What kind of music needs an 'education' depends on what musical 'languages' you've learned: I had some exposure to 'educated' Western music through childhood symphony visits and music lessons, but only a small familiarity with the basics of current popular music based on the oldies that my parents listened to. Similarly, although I might now enjoy some aspects of other musical traditions, I'd probably would need to spend some time listening or learning to really appreciate, say Indian classical music or Chinese opera, b/c I don't have any base knowledge of the 'language'.

          • This is very true. We all need to "educate" our ears to appreciate different genres. (When someone says, "All country sounds the same," that is a clear indicator they don't know much about country music…same goes with any genre).

            The problem I have is that everyone seems to agree that we all Need to be educated in elite Western music (or dance, or art, etc) to be good citizens, but we don't need education in other types of music/dance/art/etc.

            I get regularly irritated by Nigel Lithgoe in So You Think You Can Dance when he refers to those dancers who are trained in Ballet/Jazz/Contemporary/etc as "trained" (i.e. "real") dancers, but those dancers who are trained in street dances–specifically various forms of Hip-Hop dance, as "untrained" (i.e. not "real") dancers. These dancers have practiced and trained for hours and years…just not in a studio. But they still are trained.

            But this is part of a larger delegitimization of the arts that come from below or outside as opposed to those arts that come from above and inside.

          • Just to add. This push towards "democratizing" high art, and my problem with it, first came to the fore when I was a senior in high school.

            I went to school before the diversification of the curriculum. In the all the time I was in school, I never read anything written by a person of color, and only one woman (Emily Dickenson). My senior year, people in California started saying that students should also be reading works by women and people of color.

            The response? That we would be doing a disservice to our students if we dropped any of these very important classics to add these lesser works that weren't classics or as important just for political correctness's sake.

            I say this as a person who has been a Shakespearian actor, and who loves Shakespeare, we read 3 or 4 Shakespeare plays in high school, we could have easily dropped or two to add some Richard Wright or Ursula LeGuin, or Amy Tan or something.

          • I just wish we didn't diversify stupidly. I'm still annoyed that they dropped LeGuin from my high school curriculum in favor of bloody Things Fall Apart. Way to choose fiction that pits me as a woman AGAINST men of color, school. And way to pit marginalized categories of literature (genre fiction vs fiction by people of color) against each other. Like we couldn't have DONE ALL OF THE ABOVE (genre, gender, color) with Octavia Butler, who's not primed to make you hate her characters.

          • I think you may have missed the entire point of my post, which was to argue *against* distinguishing between supposedly "high-brow" and supposedly "low-brow" art. :-) Since Lee expressed a preference for the highbrow, and I come from a classical/performing arts background, the danger I focused on was to the supposedly privileged arts, in the sense that limiting their audience endangers them, but I also said I want Banksy up there with Shakespeare.

            "The elites have created these narratives on purpose."

            Agreed — that was sort of the point I was making. I dislike self-appointed gatekeepers, whether it's for geekery or opera or what-have-you.

            "Once you start moving into the classical and romantic eras (and beyond) many of the creators of art self-consciously created work for elites only–usually their aristocratic patrons, but also those with more esoteric education. Mozart is not Berg and they aren't creating opera for the same audiences or with the same values. It is historically and culturally inaccurate to put them in the same boat even if they both created "opera.""

            Certainly. I'm not sure if you *can* appreciate Berg without familiarity with Schoenberg, and I'm not sure you can appreciate Schoenberg without familiarity with Bach, Brahms, and Wagner. And I'm actually not sure you can fully appreciate Schoenberg without jazz.

            But I'm not entirely certain that you need an esoteric education to appreciate Berg — just a wide-ranging musical one. I don't particularly care whether everyone makes it to Lulu. But I know they absolutely will not get there if the door to Mozart doesn't appear to be open.

            "And it isn't just the works, it is also the context. Actors no longer perform Shakespeare in accessible ways, the RADA discourages the acting styles that were prevalent when a wider class range enjoyed those plays."

            This isn't overwhelmingly true unless you're only looking at world-renowned, uber-prestigious arts groups. Your average Shakespeare company or light opera group is interested in getting butts into seats. They perform opera in English, try to reframe the plot as something genre-sexy (just saw The Escape from the Seraglio, in English, staged as a noir), tie it into recent movies, do Shakespeare in the park, get "lowbrow" celebrities to MC, and generally are doing whatever they can think of to expand their audiences. They have to expand their appeal, or they're not going to be around much longer, and your average creative director is only to aware of that fact.

            So the gatekeeping is multifactorial, and it is *not* all on the end of the companies/creative directors/artists.

            "The democratization of art should not be used a cover to further delegitimize the works of art that the masses themselves currently develop and care about in order to maintain a hierarchy with the works and cultural practices of the elite on top and centralized. "

            If you think I'm advocating for this, you missed the part where I said Bansky and Pixar and Avatar: The Last Airbender are up there with Shakespeare in the art everyone should be consuming. :-) My whole rant was *against* the hierarchy. For that matter, I'll add the AI: Artificial Intelligence web game up there, because as one of the seminal pieces of internet art, it hits all three of my categories for great art: originality, influence, and quality.

            (P.S. "they all know the "right" answer and say Beethoven" This is wrong. Beethoven is NOT a better composer than Bach or Mozart, dammit. The right answer is that you CAN'T pick a single greatest composer of all time.)

        • Better a gentleman than a bro. Anything's better than a bro.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          Tastes vary, so there are a lot of answers. However, I've spent a minute in the steampunk scene, so when you say gentleman I want to break it down further. There's the comically self-aware gentleman. That's more of a character than a personality, for me at least. If you can try to live up to a gentlemanly code while still giving a nod and a wink to the fourth wall that says you know its a bit silly, then go for it.

          I've done well with the gentleman adventurer. Mix your average gentlemanly thing with a touch of early Hollywood flair. Nice shoes, dress slacks, collar shirt, suit vest (I prefer double breasted) then top off with a leather jacket of some sort and a white scarf like WWI pilots wore. It conveys refinement with a dash of excitement.

          There's also the dark gentleman, call it the gentleman occultist. My version of this is to stick mostly with black and add details in primary red. Use silver or gold jewelry depending on what looks better on you. Don't overdo your detailing or your jewelry. I usually have something a little noticably geeky/subversive with this. Geek cufflinks are always a winner (mine are Green Lantern) but you could also use Masonic or pseudo-Masonic jewelry, symbols of alternative religions that you identify with etc. You want these details to reflect you as a person but also to be a bit obscure and/or mysterious.

          Obviously at actual steampunk gatherings you'll want detailing and period-ish clothing. The farther from geek culture you go, the more you'll be tuning these ideas down. The basic idea of taking semi-formal fashion and adding a dash of flair is solid, though.

          When you break down the gentleman archetype you get a few details:
          Polite and well mannered (covered by others)
          Doesn't lose his cool even in the face of people trying to get a rise out of him. Be sure you don't come across as acting superior to everyone.
          Can be trusted with confidences (a gentleman never tells).
          Keeps his word.
          etc

          Delafina does hit a good point about chivalry – it can be quite charming to open doors for a lady but never forget that your companion is also a person and be prepared to tone this back if they find it patronizing. Women don't need a protector on a 24/7 basis anymore. If she thinks its charming, go with it. If not, be a gentleman and show a woman worthy of a gentleman the respect she deserves.

          • Myster Baad says:

            Just avoid dieselpunk or anything too 1920s-30s flavored. Because of art deco, Hollywood and their connotations, the gay community pretty much owns that era.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            As someone who regularly uses touches of fighter ace chic, its entirely possible to be a little classic, a little flamboyant and still not come across as homosexual. I doubt my deco cufflinks have ever given anyone that impression either. The fedora, which is perhaps the most recognizable male accessory of the period between world wars also lacks that connotation. On the other hand, fedoras now scream "hipster", which is something I'm even more keen to avoid.

        • Women have varied tastes – I'd say somewhat more varied than men do – and I'm sure there are women who like gentlemen.*

          What do you mean by that, though? Are we talking about wearing neat suits, or about attempting to be polite and thoughtful, or about adopting certain older customs and mannerisms? The first is going to have fans and detractors, the second is quite appealing provided it's combined with confidence, and the third may be off-putting or confusing to people who don't know what you're going for.

          Something you might do as a guide is to think about the kinds of women who you find desirable and datable, and what they appear to like in men. It may be there are some tweaks you can make that don't really affect your self-image either way, or you might decide that you like your current look and way of presenting yourself enough to wait for someone whose tastes are a little bit different than those of her clique.

        • Chivalry is dead- and women killed it its is stupid to even entertain being chivalrous

          • Care to elaborate on that very broad and frankly unfair assessment?

          • Classic chivalry is rooted in sexism and the notion that women are too weak to take care of themselves. It is patronizing.

            However, you can be a gentleman without buying into sexism…just as women can go high-femme without buying into sexism. The key to that is a) to not be sexist in the first place, b) not be misogynistic and bitter towards women, and c) really doing serious feminist informed analysis of what you are doing and the implications and intentions behind it and how what you do/intend interacts with the power imbalances inherent in living in a white supremacist heterosexual-patriarchy.

            I like to say I'm a new fashioned gentleman…I like the fashion and being polite, but I don't support the sexism.

          • Isn't the appropriate term new-fangled? Come on, how often do you get to use it?

          • "really doing serious feminist informed analysis of what you are doing and the implications and intentions behind it and how what you do/intend interacts with the power imbalances inherent in living in a white supremacist heterosexual-patriarchy. "

            Like, every single time I hold open a door for a lady?

            But seriously, that sounds like a parody of a feminist. Just be generally nice to everybody.

          • So, this is where the analysis comes in.

            Do you hold open doors for everyone or only for women? Would you feel weird or refuse if a woman held a door open for you?

            If you are generally nice to everyone, then no problem…if you are singling women out for this "niceness" and you'd be offended/uncomfortable if someone held the door open for you…then there are some problems. Because then you aren't being "nice."

          • No, that's fine. But being generally nice to everyone isn't chivalry, it's common courtesy. You should hold the door open for women under the same circumstances in which you'd hold it open for men: they have their hands full, you happen to get to the door first and want to be nice, etc. The gender of the person to which you're displaying courtesy is irrelevant to the act of courtesy.

          • I feel like the sarcasm in my post didn't get translate…

          • No, it definitely didn't get "translate."

          • My problem with the term "chivalry," though, is that once you take the sexist element out of it, it becomes just plain "common courtesy."

            Is it nice if someone holds the door for me? Yes, if they get to it first, or if I have my hands full. Should they hold it for me in those circumstances whether I'm male or female? Yes.

            Should a guy stand when I return to the table from having gone to the restroom? No. Weird. Stop drawing attention to the fact that I left and came back.

            The only gender-related one that doesn't seem weird to me is lending coats when it's cold, for a couple of gender-related reasons that are still very much in play. One is that women's formalwear exposes a lot more skin than men's (men get both a shirt and a tux jacket), and the skimpy little shawls and scarves we're allowed to use as additional cold-weather formal clothing do squat to keep you warm. The second is that I'm smaller than most guys I know. So I can't really lend them my coat if they're cold and I'm not, because they won't fit into it. So that I'm cool with.

            But pretty much all the rest of chivalry? It's only "chivalry" if it's a courtesy from which you exclude men on the receiving end and women on the giving end, and that's uncool.

            I've had guys carrying large boxes refuse to go through a door I held for them, because it wasn't appropriate because they should be holding the door for me and not the other way around. That's both impractical, and — due to their rejection of my act of courtesy because of my gender — insulting.

          • Look, the basis of chivalry is super gross. It's a system of upper class men being sort of condescendingly nice to upper class women to make them feel better about not having any actual control over their lives. It doesn't do anything about that actual lack of control. It also does nothing to address the needs of people who aren't in the in group. Peasants and servants didn't qualify, and people of other races weren't even in the discussion.

            That's not completely gone from how it's practiced today, either, at least on public transportation. I (a youngish, healthy person) have been offered seats on public transportation several times when there was an elderly or pregnant woman who was also on board, and there were usually some awkward race or class implications.

            Even getting beyond that, the gender role implications are disturbing. I can stand up (most of the time, and I've appreciated help the times I've been ill and offered a seat) and open doors and carry things. I don't need the help. I often don't want it, or at least don't want to engage in the rituals of acknowledging it – and it does seem that a number of men who are into chivalry want to get appreciative attention from women afterwards.

            My general suggestion: before being chivalrous, first pretend the person is a 70-year-old man. If you wouldn't do the same thing for him, don't do it for a woman.

          • Myster Baad says:

            No. Men killed it by reshaping manliness to exclude it.

    • Anonymoose47 says:

      I think I'm gonna stop paying attention to women in general now.

      • The Mikey says:

        I don’t know where that came from…

      • Anonymoose47 says:

        They want the player, they just don't want his game. Cannot respect that at all.

        • Huh? They don't want the player. They want his stubble and his leather jacket, things which are easily available to non-players.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Want cake to look at + eat it too

          • So, are you also willing to pick between dating a frumpy, unattractive woman and a woman who treats you badly, or is it just women who are expected to make that decision?

            Clothing is one of the easiest things for people to alter about themselves, and there's certainly no shortage of men who are nice and who also groom themselves well (in one of the various "bad boy" styles or in some other). There's also a world full of badly-dressed guys who aren't terribly good partners.

            You're normally a good guy, but there seem to be both gender double standards and some nice guys vs. bad boys stuff here. Both are unfortunate.

          • Is it absurd to want a partner who treats you well and also is attractive? Isn't that also what men want? How can you not respect that? There is no guarantee that a nerdy-looking partner will treat you any better, these are not mutually exclusive.

          • How is that different from what men want?

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Buh. -_-

            They want to get to know a person! There are a LOT of persons walking around in the world. Some persons are more noticeable or interesting-looking because of their leather jackets and stubble; therefore, they prioritize getting to know those persons first. Some of them turn out to be nice people and some turn out to be jerk people, in which case they move on and try to get to know someone else.

            If you want to be prioritized by people who prioritize leather jackets and stubble, you should acquire leather jackets and stubble? If you don't, there are plenty of people who prioritize hoodies and beards or sweaters and shavedness.

          • Yes, that's very true as well. People like all kinds of different looks, and I think there are at least as many fans of "casual" or "manly" or "professional-looking" as there are of more standard "bad boy" looks.

            Given that style is at least somewhat malleable, I think it should be encouraging rather than a reason to give up on dating, though.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I think there's something about this article that isn't communicating properly that this surface stuff is just surface stuff?

            It sounds like the issue is that if you put on a leather jacket and women suddenly notice you then (1) you've sold your real personality and you're not you anymore and (2) the women that are attracted to you now are jerks because they weren't attracted to you before, so if their opinion can be swayed by a jacket then that's somehow deserving of disrespect.

            I would really like some help addressing these. Anyone have some insights?

            I'd say for (1) if you're trying to attract women in general and putting on a leather jacket feels like a horrible sell-out, then don't do it! But do try to do something more noticeable that DOES feel like you than what you were doing before! Because this is really just about getting noticed and not about getting someone to fall in love with you at first sight. And you DO want to attract women that are attracted to you and not a made-up personality.

          • That's a really good insight, and I don't think I have a very good way to address it either, but here's a shot:

            1. A lot of the qualities conveyed by, for instance, a biker jacket and some tattoos, aren't negative. Choices like that can signal that someone is adventurous or anti-authoritarian, which are good or neutral qualities. That's not a good message for someone who doesn't actually have those qualities, but there's nothing wrong with either having them and wanting to signal it or responding well to those signals.

            2. If you can identify certain looks as being at odds with your personality, I think it's worth considering whether there are other ones that could do a better job of showing it to the world. A plain t-shirt and jeans is, for most people, a very neutral look. That's perfectly fine. People will, however, respond more quickly to those who dress in ways that signal aspects of their personalities or lifestyles. That doesn't have to mean bad boy. It could mean banker or hipster or bro or goth or old-fashioned dude or what have you. There are women who respond to all those things. Choosing one of those looks shouldn't be a false thing, it should be a way of putting more of your natural self out there, so people who are compatible can find you.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Suppose there's a girl you like that isn't really attracted to you or doesn't notice you and then you do some shallow thing (change your outfit, posture, hair, lines you use) and suddenly she's attracted to you.

            Does that sting? Why or why not? Does it make her a jerk somehow? I think that's the issue we haven't tackled. ^_^

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I think I figured it out.

            PEOPLE ARE NOT ATTRACTED TO YOU BECAUSE YOU DESERVE IT.
            PEOPLE ARE ATTRACTED TO YOU RANDOMLY!!

            I think this is similar to popular bands getting haters, because haters think they need to go out and convince everyone that the band doesn't DESERVE popularity. When in reality people like the band because it RANDOMLY happened to play what lots of people wanted to listen to, not because they are playing an INHERENTLY good piece of music.

            So if the girl likes you with the jacket, it feels like you proved that you DESERVE to be liked and therefore you should have been liked without the jacket. And since you weren't, then she obviously ONLY LIKED THE JACKET AND NOT YOU. But that's not how attraction happens! Attraction is a random-ass brain process made of chemical gunk and hormones and smelliness and pheromones and timing and all sort of stuff. It's raaandom! So if it's random, there's no MORAL failing for stacking the odds in your favor via jackets whenever you can!

            Attraction just means they noticed you! If someone is attracted to you, it doesn't mean you are worthy of their love. It just means they (randomly) feel like investigating further if you are.

          • Me personally? I'd need to change the genders around (straight female!).

            I think it would depend partly on whether I felt the change was me pretending to be something I'm not, or if it expressed my personality better than previous looks, or if it was about the same. I wouldn't want to be with someone who was only interested in me when I was wearing frilly floral sundresses. That's not a good expression of who I am, and it doesn't fit well with my natural style. If someone was interested in me after seeing me in my dressier wardrobe, as opposed to the things I wear to the gym, that wouldn't bother me in the same way.

            I think the other factor would be whether we're talking about someone who knew me and who had expressed disinterest, or someone who just hadn't noticed me much before. I'd be kind of turned off if someone who had presumably had a chance to get to know me changed his mind because I changed my hair. If someone who I hadn't interacted with me much before suddenly wanted to say hello, I think I'd be flattered,though. The first guy presumably has had a chance to get to know me. The second one hasn't, and might not have paid much attention to me at all – which is fair, since most of us interact with so many people and can't give them all a great deal of attention.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Oops, sorry! I just meant, you know, your straight nerdy dude alter-ego with a strong just-world bias. =)

            I read some accounts of ladies that used to be fat who would start getting attention from guys that weren't interested before, when they were fat, and I can see how that would be hurtful. But at the same time, these dudes DO sort of get to date someone with a body type that they're attracted to. But then again, is thin ladies what they're attracted to or is it what society tells them they need to be attracted to? Messiness! =/

          • None taken! My gravitar is pretty boyish, and in the place I typically use it, it's intentional!

            I would say that weight is a tough one. I'm going to speak to this as someone who's in recovery from an eating disorder, which probably colors my response. I think I'd be very reluctant to date someone who liked me in a "skinny" phase versus a "fat" one, mostly because I'd be concerned about whether he'd continue to be attracted to me if I didn't keep up that degree of perfection.

            Um, I guess I could see that affecting a severe style change, to some degree. I mean, there's no point dating someone who's not going to like you if you happen to ease off a bit. Which is why I'd endorse making only those changes that seem fitting, not adopting a completely false persona. But I don't think physical changes are quite the same thing as style ones.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            I think I actually knew you were a girl. =) I just forgot to say "If you were a nerdy guy …" I think I automatically run these articles through some sort (probably super-inaccurate) brain simulation of a nerdy-guy when I read them. =P

            I think that's a reasonable concern! My question was more like .. are these guys (morally) bad, shallow people that can't be trusted because they are only attracted to shallow body things and not inner beauty, etc etc?

          • Oh, I get it now! I was feeling rightness in your last comment, but had something I quibbled with in it, but now I think I get it.

            Yes. it is random, how your brain fires off and what compels you to other people. I do think there's an element of people's personality and character in there that they shouldn't and sometimes can't change, because if they do they'll end up with people who are looking for something they don't offer.

            But when it comes to what your brain tells you that you want, there's part of that out of your control. You can work with nasty ingrained cultural assumptions, but there's a level at which you can't control who or what you're attracted to. And I don't think anyone's to blame for it. That doesn't mean others are obliged to give people what they want, which is where lots of disconnects come in.

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            So you would feel no judgment towards dudes that tried to date a skinny you but not a fat you? Or would you have some judgment that you'd try to grapple with on a rational level?

          • I may or may not want to date them, for various reasons. Would I judge them? No. People want what they want. As long as they're not cruel about it, I think it's fine to want things.

          • (So, some version of this is actually happening to me. I moved back to my hometown awhile ago. I was a huge dork in high school. I'm not so awesome now, but because of a lack of population, I'm sometimes approached by the exact same guys who were terrible to me back in high school. My opinion is that, sure, people change, but I want to see that.The fact that you didn't beat the shit out of your ex-wife, who was in my gym class, when she filed for divorce, doesn't prove that you're a good person. It certainly doesn't prove you're sort of geek-friendly, when it extends beyond finding a sex partner.)

          • Juuuuuulia says:

            Yep, that sounds reasonable and healthy. =]

          • Yeah, so that was way too much information for anyone. Sorry!

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            You hit on something here that's been on my mind through this particular thread. Everything you wear is a conscious choice. It was a decision to buy it. It was a decision to wear it. There's no accident to the image you present. Your Dark Triad sociopath goes through this exact process when getting dressed to impress. Each piece is designed to present a coherent narrative. Its not always the "bad boy" either. Its whatever they think the sort of women they want to meet will find attractive.
            Now if you don't want to construct an entire false personality and then dress it up, you can meet in the middle. Doc's got a great article on finding your own archetype and dressing to match. Whether its professional, nerd chic, WWII fighter ace, post apocalyptic Gap (Revolution or Hunger Games) or something else entirely, there's nothing wrong with dressing your best in a style that suits you.
            While I don't go as far as the older PUA's, there is something to be said about "peacocking" or wearing something distinctive but not overpowering. My Hunger Games pin on my hat is a geek magnet. I've got a silver bracelet, nothing fancy just a band of metal, that draws lots of comment. You don't need a big floppy hat, just a little something.

          • 3. I'd encourage guys to think of this talk of fashion and styling as an opportunity, rather than a new and onerous requirement. There are millions upon millions of women who date guys who wear plain t-shirts and jeans, and ratty ones that don't fit well at that. This is an extra way to draw attention to yourself and make you stand out from all of the other, less interesting, dudes around you. It's also a way of counterbalancing things in your life that might make people make incorrect assumptions about you.

            I'm going to talk about myself on that last point, since I'm my best example. I have a fairly good, very mundane job. I drive a boring car and live in a cute little house and am at the age where lots of women are looking to settle down and have kids. I'm…yeah…I'm not that person in my private life at all. If I wear really boring clothes, I tend to attract the exact guys who are wrong for me. If I tweak things a bit (lately I've been going for sexy librarian with some fun jewelry), I seem to attract a more appropriate crowd. Guys can do this as well, and suggest something about themselves that might not come across in the typical 5 minutes of small talk.

          • This is great advice! Great enough that I had to comment instead of just plus one-ing it!

          • *blushes*

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Sexy librarian, Yowza!
            Again, a great example of figuring out the image you want to project and having fun building it.

          • Myster Baad says:

            Neither ever did me any good. 'Course, my jackets are brown and meant for old time aviators, and my stubble only accentuates my jowls.

        • Seriously? That's ridiculous. Can a guy not like a sweet girl who's wild in bed? Can a person not like an accountant with a sense of humour? Unless you live in a world populated by cartoon characters, with a design simplified to easily convey an exaggerated personality, peoples' traits aren't strictly limited to those that fall in line with their most obvious stereotype.

          Also, wtf, man, some girls say they like bad boys, and you're going to take that as grounds to flat-out dismiss half the human race?

          • Myster Baad says:

            I don't think people only like people who embody stereotypes.

            I do think people are more open to meeting people who embody stereotypes.

            What opens doors is superficiality plus – plus humor, or body confidence, or social effectiveness, or whatever closes the deal for that person.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            It's something that really, really bothers me.

          • I think many people probably are more open to meeting people who embody stereotypes, but I don't think it's a superficial thing. When someone seems to fit a stereotype, you can feel more comfortable interacting with them, because you can predict to some extend what they'll do and how they'll react to what you say and do. Someone who doesn't fit a type that you know is an unknown quantity, which means you're less sure of what will appeal to them or offend them and how much you can trust them.

            So it seems to me that feeling more at ease with more stereotypical people is a matter of practicality rather than superficiality.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Even if someone's just being practical, I find that so hard to be a respectable trait.

          • Myster Baad says:

            It's not. It's self-preservation on a level we can neither really respect nor really repudiate. It's How Life Is.

          • It's not something people do consciously, though. A lot of people automatically feel more comfortable when faced with something they feel they know and understand. It's not like (in most cases) they're standing there thinking, "I'll go talk to A because he fits my understanding of the world better than B". A just makes them feel more at ease, and there's nothing shameful about preferring to talk to people you feel more at ease with.

            And there are plenty of other people who enjoy uncertainty and being put off balance, and so seek out people who seem unpredictable. So it's not like that sort of evolutionary wiring is equally strong in everyone.

            I'm 100% sure that you do it to. For example, saying that all people who suffer from depression will have relationship problems because of it is putting the vast and varied number of people who do or have suffered from depression into a very small box. But putting people in that box makes it easier for you to make decisions about who should and should not be in relationships than if you had to take into account each person's individuality beyond their depression, no?

            The world is a complicated place, and it seems to be the natural function of the human brain to try to simplify it so we feel more capable of dealing with it. That doesn't mean we can't rise above those tendencies.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Depression's a trait that isn't always evident and something you learn about from actually talking to someone mostly, and it's a part of you. Fitting into a stereotype determines if someone will even give you the time of day regardless of who you are fundamentally otherwise, nevermind talking in a dating sense. Way different.

          • What are you basing this on? No one has said that people "won't give the time of day" to people who don't fit a clear stereotype. Even Myster Baad said "more open to meeting" not "only open to meeting". And frankly, you generally can't tell if a person fits into a stereotype without interacting them either, because fitting the stereotype is about whether their appearance matches the personality they present. You have to be dressed pretty strangely for someone to look at you and immediately feel uncomfortable because you so clearly don't meet any expectations they'd have.

            I used the depression thing because it's the most clear-cut example I could remember of you making a generalization about a diverse group of people, and I'm not sure how it being something you learn about by talking to someone, or being a part of you, makes it any more "respectable" to make assumptions about people based on that alone. But you also seem to very much want a box to put women as a general group into–women all like "bad boys", women only want what other people want, women expect a guy to "entertain" them, etc.–and being a woman is something that's even more obvious than whether someone fits a stereotype.

            I'm not saying you're a bad person. I'm just pointing out that this is a normal way for human beings to think, and pretty much all of us do it whether consciously or unconsciously from time to time. Criticizing people for something our brains to automatically doesn't really make a lot of sense. Though by all means criticize the people who refuse to think outside those boxes even when given the opportunity.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            I'm aware it can happen automatically, but that doesn't mean I have to find it respectable. I could be dressed down one day and dressed up the other and receive a completely different reaction from the same set of people, and it could definitely skew into something as easy as "I don't want to talk to this person" or "I'm impressed with this person, I want to talk to them." Who you are has nothing to do with getting even that opening, it's just what someone else sees when they look at you. It shows either a lack of curiousity or basic observation skills or even just lack of an abiity to think, and if we're talking about dating, shows that it's just looking for impressive or entertaining traits whether the fundamental person is actually those things or not.

          • But the fact is that you CHOOSE how you dress, so your clothing is telling people something about your personality.

            In fact, clothing is the most under-your-control way you have to express who you are, as well as one of the most obvious ones, so if someone wants to know how you want the world to see you (and to some extent, how you see yourself), looking at how you have dressed yourself is hardly lack of observation or inability to think.

            Of course, anyone who is not stupid, incurious or unobservant will continue learning more about you through your body language, the things you say, the way you act, etc. – but ignoring the one thing you've clearly chosen to tell people about yourself would be silly.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            It's just clothing. I can dress up in a suit, which will tell everyone I'm a confident, successful and perhaps wealthy person, and I could be none of those things. And then I can dress completely neutral for comfort, and be considered "Welp, he's definitely a boring human being." You can see a guy dressed as a biker and it projects "This guy will fucking murder you with his Hell's Angels buddies if you look at him the wrong way" when he's really the biggest softie in the world. It doesn't tell you much of anything about what the person is really all about, it's just an opened or closed door depending on a snap-judgement of what a person thinks of how you look that specific moment. It's definitely a lack of an ability to think.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Actually it does. There's a saying that goes something like "You can put a hooker in a nun's habit but it won't fool anyone." If I wore biker colors I'd just look pretentious. It wouldn't fool non-bikers and someone who had actually earned their colors would see through it a mile away and probably forcibly remove my vest.

            That said, it doesn't matter whether what you wear truly describes who you are inside. The fact is that you take less than a second to size up 99% of the people you see in a day. Clothing is something that you send a message with during that one second. You can choose to send a message or choose not to. Either way, you are sending a message. its just a question of how much control you've taken over what that message is.Even your hypothetical Hell's Angel may be a softie but he knows that wearing his colors tells people "I'm a bad ass".

            Any part of your persona that you have control over is a choice. You're not required to put thought into how you come across to others but you (and everyone else) will be judged on it.

          • I don't think people take these judgements as far as you seem to think. Your clothes are not who you are, but what you want to project, and people can tell the difference between those two things (unless you're the sort of person who also takes people at their word when they say they're awesome or great in bed or whatever, in which case, I fear you're going to get taken in by a lot of assholes).

            Dress up in a suit, and I know you WANT people to see you as confident, successful, wealthy. If you're dressed in a suit in a situation where most people are dressed more casually, it could tell me you're trying really hard to impress. Dress like a biker, and I know you want people to see you as tough.

            Dress in jeans and a t-shirt (is that the kind of thing you mean by neutral?), and I figure you're not particularly invested in projecting a strong image (note that this can be a good thing – I'm not a fan of very image-conscous people), possibly casual, laid back or modest. If you're dressed like that at a black tie event, that suggests to me that you might be pretty indifferent to social convention, to the point of rudeness – I wouldn't refuse to talk to you because of it (and I might even be curious to meet you and find out why), but I might watch for other signs of inconsiderateness. If it's an oversized t-shirt, that tells me something, if the jeans are ratty, that tells me something else, if they're expensive-looking and new, that tells me something different.

            And me someone who knows and notices very little about clothing.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            There, that. It's what you want to project to people, not necessarily what's actually you. Trying to manipulate reactions (conciously or subconciously) because they don't actually think too hard about these kinds of things.

          • But what someone wants to project to people is very useful information to have about a person!

          • Dear lord, if you're going to look at it that way, everything you say and do is what you're trying to project to people. Even if someone does take the time to talk to you, you're going to choose what you say and phrase it based on the impression you're trying to give. The only way you can ever get to know someone without the filter of what they choose to present to the world is if you spy on them with hidden cameras when they think they're alone, or if you develop telepathy. Surely you're not suggesting either of these things as the only respectable ways to relate to people?

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            It's only for if you pre-determine your words and thoughts on something way in advance, like a lame PUA routine or perhaps some kind of corporate pitch.

          • Ah, no. Thought to speech is not instantaneous. Maybe you don't have perfect control over it, but when you're in a social situation, you're constantly deciding what to talk about (would these people be interested in hearing about X TV show or should I stick to the weather? is it safe to bring up politics with these people?) and how you talk about it (should I just give a brief recommendation or go into lengthy detail about how awesome X is? how excited can I sound without them thinking I'm being obsessive?).

            If this wasn't the case, then you wouldn't have so much trouble yourself in social situations–if you automatically just said whatever's in your head without thought, you wouldn't have time to decide you feel too awkward to speak to this person at all, or that you don't trust that person enough to open up to them.

            And most of our thoughts are somewhat pre-determined in advance, because, you know, we think about things that are of interest or important to us even when we're not talking about them in that moment.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            That's kind of the point there. I'm not thinking about if I should or shouldn't bring this or that up or how I'm appearing to someone else, I'm listening to the words they're choosing, seeing where their thoughts on subjects are taking them and piecing together what they are based on that. Sound too obsessive and they react? That reaction tells you more about them. Detect there's a subject they don't like, ask why. They interrupt or can't wait for you to finish or piece together your thought, tells you even more about them.

          • "I'm not thinking about if I should or shouldn't bring this or that up"

            Well, you probably should be. Organically adjusting what you're saying to someone's interest and comfort level is part of both courtesy and being an engaging conversationalist.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Listening to people while they talk about themselves works just as well.

          • But if all you do is just listening, then you aren't bringing anything to the conversation…additionally, it means that the other person doesn't ever get to know you. It is a way to stay closed off…that doesn't help build good strong two-way reciprocal healthy relationships…friendship or romantic.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Never had a healthy one, then.

          • From the way you describe things, it doesn't sound that way, no.

            Because friends don't just disappear if you get distant. Because you shouldn't have to, hide your depression or addiction, or sadness, or interests, or joys, or whatever.

            In a healthy relationship, someone cares about you, too.

            Again, I recommend therapy.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Not interested.

          • Unfortunate; it could help you get past your apparent distrust in others and your harsh judgements of them, and open you up to fulfiling, functional relationships. Not just with women, but with anyone.

            I agree with @Trooper6; therapy sounds like it could help you answer these questions as to how to recognize your social cues better than the forum who knows what you wear sends a message.

          • I don't actually believe that this is true. I cannot believe that you literally say the exact same things in the exact same way regardless of who you're with, without making a single adjustment for the other person's personality/interests or the situation. You bring up the same subjects in the same amount of detail with your mom as with your sister as with every one of your friends and acquaintances as with a store clerk who makes small talk when they're ringing up your purchase? When you were still in school, you talked to your teachers the exact same way as you talked to your peers? You bring up the same subjects in the same amount of detail even after you've gotten to know people well enough to know person A loves anime and person B hates it?

            What would be the point of finding out all this stuff about someone if you're going to say and do the exact same things around them regardless of what you find out?

            Anyway, I feel like you're just being obtuse here. You ignored my point about the fact that some people you choose to say nothing to (do you not recall saying that you wouldn't be able to have a conversation even meeting with people from this blog in person?) which right there is a huge example of letting your impressions of a person or situation dictate how you're going to socialize. It's very difficult to have a conversation with someone who refuses to allow any common ground.

          • Not just then.
            Do you use slang? If so, what kind of slang? That projects something about you.
            Do you use proper grammar or do you use poor grammar? That projects something about you.
            Do you have an accent? That projects something about you.
            Do you use female-coded language or male-coded language? That projects something about you.
            Do you mumble or do you clearly enunciate. Do you pronounce the tt in better like a t or like a d? That projects something about you.
            What sort of vocabulary do you use? That projects something about you.
            Even when you don't prepare a like in advance, you language projects a lot about…and people learn to code switch their language to respond to the society they live in.

            I had a student who wanted to imagine that "she was just who she was" that she wasn't performing herself (which I argued that we are all doing at all times–read The Presentation of Self in everyday Life by Ernst Gellner for more on this). I asked her, domyoumact the same way here in class with me as you do at home with your parents? Or out with your friends at the club? Or at home with your parents? Or when meeting your boyfriend's parents for the first time? Do you dress the same way? Do you talk the same way? Do you use the same language?

            Of course she had to admit that she didn't. It actually caused her to have a bit of a crisis. But she got over it.

            We do not exist in isolation of society. Meaning is not fixed, it is created in conversation.

          • Yeah, the idea that people judging you for how you dress involves you being neutral and them being inappropriately judgy is not particularly logical. What you choose to wear is a form of communication, just like what you choose to say. It's a two-way street.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            I'm living my point of view 24/7, that is neutral.

          • Not if your point of view is hostile toward the rest of humanity.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Hey man, they started it.

          • *snort*

            In this case, no one's viewing it as hostile or personal but you. People are using fairly neutral filtering systems, and you're feeling hostile in response. It's like walking down the street and not stopping to talk to someone you don't know, and they suddenly get angry.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            It's really just the *snort* I was going for.

          • Sounds a lot like entitlement to me…

          • But you are not a block of stone. You are not neutral. Your point of view isn't neutral. You exist as a product of your background and your experiences. You have been shaped by how your parents have treated you, the sort of town you grew up in, that you are male, that you are Canadian, etc.

            You aren't neutral.

            Additionally, the minute you interact with others you are in a conversation, with means you aren't neutral. You, like most everyone, is always managing how you are perceived.

            And please don't say that you don't. You've mentioned multiple times how you hide thing from your parents and that you don't let people get to know you, that you don't open up to people. You are managing your presentation.

            That is not neutral. It also isn't bad. It is important to manage your perception so that you are appropriate for the situation and you don't make people uncomfortable…or violent.

            I do arrive in class in boxer shorts and an A-shirt. That isn't appropriate. I don't tell my students all about my personal life, what I did on Saturday night…if I masturbated or not…not because I'm dishonest or manipulative…but because I know how to function in society. Because I know how to interact with people.

            Interacting with people is about give and take. If you imagine that you are a neutral and are not influenced by nor influence society–you are going to have problems functioning successfully.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            I meant neutral as in my point of view is the starting point, not D&D true neutral.

          • No, it's not, for most people.

          • Well if you mean neutral that way, then every person is their own starting point, their own neutral, aren't they? For a Neo Nazi, hating non-whites would be "neutral". Anyone who's ever judged you was operating from their POV, their "neutral". Which means "neutral" suddenly becomes meaningless, and this conversation amounts to you saying, "My neutral is more valid than everyone else's neutral." And that's not a neutral opinion–that's a statement of positive/negative judgment.

          • But clothes are a form of symbolic communication based on shared social meaning. You may not think that clothing is a reflection of "who you are," but it is a way that people broadcast things they want people to know about them.

            You mention the suit versus the comfortable clothing. Well, suits can be comfortable. Now, what do you mean by comfortable? Jeans and a T-Shirt? What kind of jeans? Big baggy, droopy jeans that say hip-hop? Tight jeans that say hipster? What sort of T-shirt? A ratty metal t-shirt? A t-shirt with a political slogan? What if instead of a comfortable t-shirt you wear a comfortable polo shirt? Or instead sweats? Or khakis?

            They are many ways to be comfortable, or casual, or dressed up. And what ways you pick broadcasts something about you to others. What it broadcasts might not be true, but you are still broadcasting it.

            For example, I knew a guy that dressed like a neo-nazi skinhead and hung out with neo-nazi skonheads…and then he was upset that people assumed he was a neo-nazi skinhead just because of how he was dressed.

            But clothes (and all other forms of symbolic communication) have social meaning. When I see a groups of dudes that are dressed like white supremacist neo-nazis walking down the street, I'm not going to think "I'm not going to judge these guys based on their clothes…they might just enjoy wearing swastikas for the fashion statement (?!) like that guy I knew in high school." Instead I'm going to cross the street and be wary. Because if those guys are neo-nazis they might kill me. Better safe than sorry. If they aren't neo-nazis…then they really need to be more sensitive to how they exist in the world.

            I'm perceived of as a black guy when I walk down the street. I know that lack guys walking down the street are often shot by people who feel nervous or brutalized by cops for looking suspicious, so I don'thavethe luxury of thinking my clips thing doesn't mean anything. I make sure to dress a bit dandy-nerdy (bow ties for the win) or a bit preppy/conservative to lessen my chancesofbeing a victim of violence. I actually think I'm a bit cooler and more casual than I usually dress, but It isn't safe for me to dress that way because of what that messages in society.

            We aren't islands. We are always in conversation with others. We ignore that at our own peril. And it isn't just about safety. Try going to a job interview as a secretary at a law firm wearing cut off shorts, for Metallica t-shirt, flip-flops, and a trucker hat and see how far it gets you. When you don't get get the job don't complain that they didn't get to know the real you…they know you don't respect or aren't able to operate within society with propriety. Why are they going to hire you. Same thing if you wore a tuxedo to a lumberjack job interview.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Which is all even less of a reason to respect it.

          • I don't follow. Do you just not respect the concept of society in general? Of situational appropriateness? Symbols?

            Any of those seems kind of like not respecting gravity.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Society's as a concept is fine, it's just how collectively they determine things that's pretty shitty, and in a way lazy and/or cowardly, really. I know it's a reality, but the idea that Trooper as a black guy can't walk down the street as he wants to isn't respectable at all.

            Gravity can go fuck itself if I wants to agree with that too :p

          • Myster Baad says:

            There must be reasonable guidelines here. Gravity will end your shit if you step off that 20th floor balcony without a safety harness. But that doesn't mean you should be waiting to get slapped down like an ant every time you hop on a bicycle.

            Similarly with people, if they want you to measure up guidelines that are NOT reasonable…THEY should go fuck themselves. If I wear a knit tie to the bar with my brown leather jacket because I think ties are kinda neat sometimes, I will think poorly of anyone who makes a thing out of it. It's nothing like wearing a tux to the lumber yard.

          • But it is what it is, and I have to live in the world.

            I can work to try and change the symbolic meaning of things I find unfair, but nothing will ever have no meaning–and I can only change the system by understanding it, engaging with it, and working with others you are like-minded.

            And lastly, like Myster Baad says, these things are on a continuum. I worry a lot more that someone might think it is okay to shoot me if I wear saggy pants than someone thinks I might be too square for them because I'm wearing a tie.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Still don't have to find it respectable.

          • I mean, I agree with you that some of the meanings we as a society ascribe to clothing (and similar symbols) is shitty and racist/classist/sexist/many other bad things.

            But I don't think never interpreting any meaning from these things would be a solution (or possible – assigning meanings to things is pretty basic to being human).

            I'm still really curious what kinds of shorthands you think would be reasonable to use to make choices on who to engage with.

          • Society is made of up people, and just like with anything, there's good and bad about that. I *don't* think that the way society judges things is entirely lazy or cowardly. If you hit an old lady, for example, society is going to frown on you. And they should. Society is going to reject you if you abuse children. And they should. Society does a pretty good job of policing a lot of pretty icky human behavior (most of which gets codified into laws, or at least the code of common courtesy), but those are so much of an accepted background of our lives that we don't think about them. It's only when society's judgment is unfair that we start talking about it.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Society does a fairly poor job of everything except criminal activity.

            This is a feminist leaning blog, so the words "slut-shaming" should bring to mind something that society mostly agrees on but isn't considered a good thing by most around here.

          • I don't think that's true. Society frowns, usually, on saying nasty things to other people without cause. Society encourages people to be considerate and respectful of the elderly, children, and most people with (visible, at least) disabilities. Society frowns on people doing any number of things that aren't illegal, but also aren't particularly compassionate.

            Most social niceties exist to make most people comfortable, ensure people are reasonably considerate to one another, and don't step on each other's toes.

            Sometimes it goes off the rails, as with slut-shaming, but the majority of societal norms exist to ensure that we can all live together in closer quarters and a more highly-interdependent set of circumstances than for most of human history.

          • I see what you're saying, but I think you're setting unreasonable standards for other people. What you wear is a reflection of who you are and what's important to you. You choose what clothing you put on, and how much care you put into making sure it suits you. (To a certain extent this is skewed by how much money you have, but anyone who's going to dismiss you because you're not wearing the latest designer labels, regardless of how you look otherwise, is obviously a materialist snob and not someone worth your time anyway.) So it's totally fair for people to assume that your clothing tells them something about who you are, and totally unfair for you to expect that if something about the way you present yourself indicates to another person that they wouldn't enjoy interacting with you, that they should interact with you anyway just to make sure.

            No one has enough time to talk to and get to know every single person they encounter on a daily basis. We *have* to make decisions about who we want to spend that time and energy on and who we don't. And because we aren't psychic, at certain points we have to make that decision based only on what we can see of the person.

            I mean, seriously, do you talk to every single person *you* meet? Or do you sometimes look at a person and think, "I can tell this is not a person I'd want to talk to," or at least, "I don't see anything about this person that convinces me it's worth the effort to go out of my way to get to know them," and so you don't?

            I would totally agree that judging people based on how they look in spite of other evidence (hearing them talk, hearing others say positive things about them, having seen them look differently on other occasions) is a crappy thing to do. I would also agree that overtly treating a person badly (insulting them, denying them something that's supposed to be freely available, etc.) because of how they look is an outright awful thing to do. But you seem to be saying that it's wrong for people to make decisions about who they give their attention to based on anything other than having an in-depth conversation with that person to determine the essence of their being, which is for most people, impossible.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            I guess where we differ is that I dont' think clothing is a reflection of you.

            I don't meet people anyways. :p

            And it's not wrong, just not something I find respectable, unreasonable standards or no.

          • Well, if you don't meet people, then you don't actually know whether people would judge you the way you say. You're making up assumptions without even seeing all these supposed people who would do this, simply imagining them in your head. How is that more "respectable" than someone judging you at least having seen you?

            As to what you said to enail re: clothing reflecting who you are, reflecting who you are doesn't mean they're an absolute statement of who you are. But it's highly unlikely that you're going to dress in a way that totally contradicts your personality, and if you do, that's going to show in your body language. If you go out wearing a suit, but you feel like you're putting on a show and that makes you uncomfortable, you're going to look uncomfortable in the suit, and it's not going to trick anyone into thinking you're confident and successful. A guy dressed like a biker who's also a big softie is probably going to be smiling and using other friendly body language that will show that dimension to his personality.

            It may show a lack of thought to judge people completely on their clothing, not anything else about how they present themselves, but hardly anyone does that, and it also shows a lack of thought to say that clothing has nothing to do with who you are. Picking out and putting on clothes is as much an action as any other, and your actions reveal things about you.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Reading and observation. Find any of DNL's articles about wearing nice clothes and faking it til you make it, and comment reactions to such. A lot more people do it than not, especially from what's considered the clothes that work and don't. If anything, the clothes you choose tells what you're trying to get/manipulate out of people on that specific day or action, but most people will just use it as a blanket statement of who you are.

          • Where exactly have you read or observed people saying that they use someone's clothing as a blanket statement of who that person is, regardless of anything else about the person's self-presentation or actions? Let alone seen it enough for you to come to the conclusion that "most" people think that way? For someone who's complaining about other people not giving enough thought to things, you're reading DNL's articles and the comments here with a very narrow understanding. I think it's abundantly clear that DNL advocates cultivating a variety of personal qualities (confidence, respect, passion, etc.) and feels those qualities are just as or more important to people's opinion of you and attraction to you as what you're wearing. He's certainly never suggested anything like the idea that all you have to do is put on the right set of clothes and people will like you regardless of your body language and how you socialize, nor have I seen anyone suggest anything like that in the comments. Even the PUA guys have talked much more about confidence, charisma, etc. than clothing. I bet even Vic would agree that a confident charming guy in neutral clothing will get a lot more positive attention than a guy in a suit who's awkward or buffoonish.

            In addition, when DNL and others have talked about clothing, they've emphasized that the important factors are that the clothes fit you well and suit your personality. There is no single type of clothing (other than clothing that fits you well and isn't disgustingly dirty or some such) that appeals to all people. Some people find suits appealing. Some people find T-shirts and jeans appealing. Some people find goth wear appealing. Some people find athletic gear appealing. Right here in this article there was a conversation in the comments with differing opinions on T-shirts, with some people liking them a lot, some people not, and some people suggesting specific ways they look particularly good. And the main advice given was still, wear what looks good on your body.

            If you're determined to believe that the majority of people in the world are totally superficial and blind to anything about other people but what they're wearing, by all means, continue to do so. But you're doing so in spite of a whole bunch of evidence to the contrary, which it seems to me is just as blinkered as the people you're complaining about.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            And this is kind of the point. You're welcome not to buy into it. Just recognize that other people do and working within that framework will allow you to present yourself in a way you want more successfully.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Wouldn't be able to respect a person who reacts positively to preparing my looks in a specific way.

          • So you wouldn't respect someone if you got a new haircut and they complimented you on it? Or if they approached you because you were wearing a One Piece T-shirt and that made them happy because they love the show too? You can only respect people who pretend they can't see how you look or what you're wearing? That's a pretty odd expectation to have.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Hair: If it changed the opinion they had for me, wouldn't respect it. Actually had that happen in a positive way. It's almost a "fucking seriously?"

            Wan Piisu: All's it tells me about them is that they like One Piece, which everyone should anyways. ;) But on that, I've known some pretty horrible people who liked what I like.

          • There's a big difference between "I wouldn't be able to respect a person who reacts positively to preparing my looks a certain way" (what you originally said) and "I wouldn't respect a person who changed their opinion of me because of something superficial, or automatically respect someone because of a shared interest" (which is approximately what you're saying here). The latter makes sense to me, the former doesn't.

          • Would you be unable to respect a person who reacts positively to you saying "it was nice meeting you," with a smile on your face? A person who reacts positively to you offering them a drink if they come over to your house?

            Not unlike clothing, their positive reaction is based on the fact that you're showing awareness of social convention and using it to make them comfortable.

            How about a person who reacts positively to the fact that you're wearing the t-shirt of a band they enjoy? What band you like doesn't say much about who you are, but it's still a sign of an interest you have, a choice you've made, something you've put out in the world about who you are that people can identify with or draw information from. Just like clothing.

            Everything you choose that other people see says something about your personality – different people will come to different conclusions about what it says – and acts as a little opening for people to connect with the person inside.

          • Also, again I've got to ask, what kinds of ways DO you consider respectable for learning about people and evaluating which ones to get to know?

            Do you consider all filtering systems unreasonable? If so, how do you deal with the fact that it's just not possible to observe or interact in depth with every single person you might encounter?

          • Wow. You can't think of a context where you would like to look nice for someone you love? Or which you would want to show respect for an occasion or a person by dressing in an appropriate way?

            You seem to be ignoring the fact that as part of their power, symbols have the ability to help, and not just to hurt.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Dressing up for a funeral or a wedding, absolutely. Shit like that actually is important.

            Dressing up for a social encounter or perhaps to make a social encounter happen? Feh.

          • So the message you're sending most of the time is quite intentionally "I don't care about social convention or about you," (for any "you" you might encounter). It sounds like you, at least, are giving quite a lot of important information in how you dress. :P

            Also, what makes the social convention of appropriate dress at a wedding important and not at other times? Isn't it just about showing respect for and maintaining your relationship with the people getting married? What makes people getting married more worth respecting or having a relationship with than people either married or not but not transitioning between the two states?

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            "If you're going to sum me up because I'm comfortable in this, the yes, I don't care about you." Just like you're supposed to do with rejection in general, not put too much weight into it.

            And because it's the right thing to do. Weddings and funerals are high emotion engagements that people remember for the rest of their lives.

            Everyday social stuff isn't. You could completely forget the person you just chatted to for the rest of your life if you never saw them again.

          • True, weddings and funerals are high emotion, important, memorable, but they don't happen without everyday social stuff, and some everyday social stuff does turn out to be important and memorable. But just like how you would be perceived as rude or indifferent to the importance at a wedding or funeral if you were dressed inappropriately, you'll be perceived as rude and indifferent to any possible importance if you're dressed inappropriately for other occasions (even though what's appropriate for other occasions is much broader).

            If you don't care about connecting with people and creating important moments in every day life, it's okay to be entirely indifferent to the way your dress is perceived.

            But dressing in a way you know shows how little you care about others and then being resentful and judgemental that they react to the fact that you've shown you don't care seems a little unreasonable.

          • Unlike you, most people consider social encounters important as well. Maybe you haven't had luck with your social encounters because you're broadcasting that you don't respect them.

            When my boyfriend tells me he's gotten reservations at a nice restaurant I've really wanted to go to, I dress up to tell him that I appreciate the effort he put in to prepare, and have put in effort to prepare as well. And I do it because I know he enjoys looking at me and want to enhance that pleasure for him. And I do it because I consider it something of a festive occasion — a long-awaited meal at this restaurant! — and want to enhance the festivity.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Refraining from this one, this will go very badly if I didn't.

          • Wow. I'm fairly certain, in that case, that I can imagine what you're about to say, and I am done with you.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            "I hang out with actors, lawyers" "When I want to go to a nice restaurant." Come on. This is painting a certain picture, especially to someone you otherwise wouldn't be talking to if it wasn't for the internet.

          • I wrote you off before as an asshole misogynist. And then it became apparent that you had some emotional/mental health issues, so I thought, ok, this is a guy whose illness is speaking as much as he does, so I'll give it another go.

            I've deleted my email notifications of your other comments without reading them, but I saw the first sentence of this comment in the preview, and it wasn't what I expected (for starters, I'm unclear as to what they have in common, besides their verbal skills, which was the point of that comment), so.

            Say what you're trying to say, or bugger off.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            It sounds like a high priced crowd where you need to look good/presentable/noticeable all the time as a job description, nevermind how that would bleed into your personal life.

            It also makes it sound hoop-jumping, like you wouldn't have gone out of your way to look good for him unless he did all those things you wanted.

          • Myster Baad says:

            Not that I 100% agree with the idea that we should be totally blind to appearances…but there's also a double standard, notably for men dressing for a date today. If you're going someplace without a dress code (say: a nice dinner) and you aren't coming straight from a suit/tie office, you need to be at least one level more casual than she is. First, she would like to garner as much attention as is reasonable, and second, she's not likely to feel you're as manly if you dress for the occasion.

          • That may single-handedly be the most ridiculous thing I've heard all day. That a man would be seen as "less-manly" for being able to DRESS himself appropriately? What type of women do you date? I honestly would think less of a guy who wore a tee shirt while I was all dolled up for a special occasion.

            On on "garnering attention": the only reason I dress up on a date is to get my man's attention. Which is why I wear nice clothes when we're alone too. The fact that other people notice either of us (yeah, my dates have been ogled before) is just a silver-lining confidence boost that our partner is desirable (if you need that validation), but my sole intent is to show my appreciation and interest in my date.

          • I date women who appreciate me for who I am, that is to say, I don't date.

          • On what are you basing the assumption that there are no women who would appreciate you for who you are?

          • Yeah, with such high self-esteem and obvious respect for women, I can't IMAGINE why women aren't flocking to you to talk down to them and judge them for dressing up for you.

          • As to the former, I work in the entertainment industry. I know actors because I hire them for voiceover work in the video games I work on. If you think they're a "high-priced crowd," you haven't met many actors. Most of them are working as waiters to make ends meet. I have friends who are lawyers because I nearly became one myself, and then opted for a career in which I'd likely make *less* money, because I wanted to have a job I'd enjoy. Some of them are well off. Some of them are one-person shops who make about enough to live in a one-bedroom apartment and drive a five-year-old car. Not poor, but hardly rolling in it.

            But no, I live in the Seattle area, in which millionaires are likely in shorts, socks, a t-shirt, and birkenstocks. The tech industry is super-casual, and my work uniform is a t-shirt and jeans. A button-down, if I'm feeling dressy. To go out to dinner, most nights, I put on earrings and lip balm. I've spent time in LA, where everyone has a headshot and needs to look good all the time, and it's not my scene.

            But your second paragraph is where I thought you were going, and you can bite me.

            I don't dress up as some sort of payment. I dress up to show that I take the event as seriously as he clearly takes it. I also dress up and take HIM out to dinner fairly frequently. I dress up, some times, when we're running errands, to surprise him. (And I dress up, just as often, for ME, because I just got new earrings that will go really well with my favorite dress and want to put the outfit together, or because I want to feel pretty, or whatever.)

            I do it, not as jumping through hoops, not as a "reward" for doing things for me, but because I love him.

            Just as I get him tickets to events I know he likes, give him leg rubs when he strains a muscle exercising, take care of him when he's sick, send him links I know will make him smile, occasionally text him things about what we're going to do when we're both home from work, stock his freezer with single-serving containers of a stew he likes when I'm doing my fall big-batch cookoff, help him clean his place when he's overwhelmed, buy something I know he'll love when I see it and can afford it, and all the gazillion other things that people who care about one another do because they want the other person to be happy.

            I do it because I love seeing him smile. I do it because the act of putting effort into doing something I know he'll like, and imagining his reaction, makes me smile.

            It's called caring about someone. Sometimes you express it with words. Sometimes you express it physically. And sometimes you express it with symbolic gestures.

            And yeah, my filters for dealing with your misanthropy and its misogynistic streak, and your cynical, cheapened view of meaningful interaction, are pretty overloaded at this point.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            My second paragraph was coloured by the first. I don't know if you've been on the internet in a social capacity for a long time or not, but I can't see you, wasn't aware of your job, nor of the rest of the stuff you just detailed. Since we're all on projection and image, all I was seeing was "I'm friends with actors and lawyers" which calls up an image because like hangs out with like, and like dates like. So I'm having this well-off mental image of you, and you lead with "my boyfriend booked us to a nice restaurant and as a reward I dressed up for him." Wow, well-off mental image who hangs out with lawyers and actors, please, tell me more about this fancy-lifestyle that must go along with it and how dressing up for social events with other fancy-ish people is a big deal. Bite you indeed, I'm sorry I don't e-stalk you enough to know the details.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            You're saying she brought those details up to impress you? Seriously?

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            No.

          • Her life is her life. Unless you're only interested in speaking to people with nearly identical lifestyles, you'll sometimes get an example that doesn't fit in well with your lifestyle. But there's nothing so very odd about dressing up for a date, even among people with very limited incomes whose date location and idea of dressing up might be different.

          • Not cool at all.
            You really need to deal with your baggage, because right now you are being misogynistic jerk to someone who's been kind to you since you've been here.

            I'm done.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Forget I said anything on this site.

          • For someone who dismisses anyone who judges people based on surface things, you're sure making a lot of judgments based on a pretty surface thing!

            Also, you don't have to be a fancy-pancy Important person to want to dress up nicely sometimes. I'm bordering on total schlub, my social circle is a looong way from a fancy or high-priced crowd, and I still like to dress up sometimes so I can look nice for my wife when I go for dinner with her. As Delfina says, I like that she likes looking at me and want to enhance that pleasure sometimes!

          • So it's not okay for other people to make any sort of judgment of what kind of person you might be based on what you choose to wear, but you are totally justified in making huge assumptions about Delafina because of a brief mention of actors, lawyers, and fancy dinners?

            Do you listen to yourself at all? Try applying your standards to yourself before you start criticizing other people for not meeting them.

          • So I assume you don't like women who weaer makeup or style their hair or wear attractive clothing? All of which are examples of preparing their looks for positive reactions. Or are YOU the only one who should be viewed for their insides alone?

          • How do you choose what to wear, by going to a mall, closing your eyes, spinning round and grabbing the first outfit you blunder into? :P Even if that's how you do it, surely that's a pretty interesting reflection of who you are!

            I'm of the opinion that any choice you make is in some way a reflection of who you are. Do you disagree? If so, what kinds of things DO you think demonstrate who you are? What would be a respectable way to evaluate other people initially, assuming you don't have time/energy/inclination to get to know in depth every single person out there ?

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            I choose by what's physically comfortable. :p

            Actions, words, and especially reactions to the unexpected or even stressful is what tells you what you need to know about a person. Dressing is their own preparedness to try and make you think they're something they may not be. Going off of that when you have no time or inclination means you're just leaving yourself open to getting taken in by someone.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            So the best way to meet people and find out who they really are underneath everything is to mug them? :)

          • Perhaps jumping out in front of them and saying, "Boo!" would be sufficiently respectful in some situations. ;)

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Hey, at least physically assaulting me for my money tells me what's really going on with a person. ;)

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            So does conversation, flirting, dancing and buying someone a drink if you're doing it right.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            "If you're doing it right." :p

          • I really, really hope that that was a joke, and that there is no level for you, at which it isn't.

          • But it wouldn't get you their money! :)

          • I know that's what works for me! :)

            Plus, if it turns out I don't like who they really are under their fancy clothes, I still could get a rolex out of the deal!

          • And the fact that comfort is the most important factor for you with your clothing will show in the clothing you choose, and reflect part of your personality. Voila!

            As I pointed out above, actions and words are just as filtered through our intentions about how we want to present ourselves as our clothing is. And people *do* judge by actions and words, not just clothing. Clothing is only a part, and no one here has indicated differently (other than you). Yes, reactions to the unexpected give you a chance to see someone unprepared, but you can't exactly stage situations so that you can see people's real selves that way.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Actually, I've been very mis-cast before by what's comfortable to me. :p

          • And no one is saying that nobody ever makes mistaken judgments based on other people's clothes. We are only disagreeing with your suggestion that *most* people *only* judge what kind of person you are based on your clothing, not body language or what you do or say or anything else.

            I'm not sure why it's apparently so important to you to have such an all-or-nothing viewpoint. You can still dislike the fact that some people are too quick to judge others based on relatively superficial features, even if you allow that perhaps it's not completely all-pervasive and clothing-based, you know.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            There's a comment I just made elsewhere in this section about feeling sociopathic that would also be my reply to this.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            The funny thing is that sociopaths, real ones who absolutely do not care about social norms, are the ones most likely to put the extra effort into appearance. They want to craft everything to take advantage of social shortcuts that will give you the entirely wrong impression. They understand how society works and are shameless in their use of those rules to create situations where the other person is tied up in them and they aren't.

            So no, thinking that people shouldn't judge someone by their appearance isn't sociopathic. It might be unreasonably utopian but its founded in an idea of fairness. Unfortunately, fairness has little to do with how things actually work and changing how they work pretty much requires being inside the loop, which in turn requires playing by the norms of society.

          • I think based on the comment he refers to below, Moose was actually saying that he'd feel like a sociopath if he made his clothing choices with the goal of influencing people's opinions of him, b/c sociopaths use appearance to influence people.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Yeah, that. "You would not otherwise think positively about me unless I prepared this for you."

          • Again. There are many things that are physically comfortable. Skirts are physically comfortable, but I assume you don't wear skirts..because it would broadcast something you don't want to broadcast.

            A T-shirt with a swastika is just a physically comfortable as one without…I hope you wouldn't just cavalierly wear a Swaziland T-shirt.

            A Dashiki is very comfortable, I assume you aren't wearing that either. Even in the realm of jeans and a t-shirt some t-shirts are going to read a women's clothes and others as men's clothes. I get you don't wear women's jeans and t-shirts regardless of how physically comfortable.

            Also, you say to judge people by their actions, well, putting on clothes is a deliberate action. You signal information based on what clothes you wear, if those clothes are clean, how you talk, what kind of haircut you have, how you walk, what music you tell people you like, what books you,tell people you read (or if you read), what hobbies you,tell people you have…people take in everything they first notice about you and make an initial assessment, then they refine that based on all further information you broadcast. It is how you.

            People judge you based on how you communicate. How you dress is a form of communication.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            It tells you what the person wants you to think of them at that moment, not what may actually be. I think more than most forms of communication, it's the one to take the least stock in.

          • I dunno, even in terms of spotting manipulative jerks, you need to see what they're TRYING to make you think about them, or you'll miss an important cue that they're manipulative.

            I think you're seeing this as an all or nothing, shallow versus meaningful thing, but I don't think it's that black and white. There's an interplay between surface and interior, between action and words and image, and if you ignore some of them, you're missing the whole picture.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Or trying to paint the picture for them, because they won't even pick up the brush unless you do the work for them.

          • Sorry, I'm not getting your metaphor. Could you explain this simply?

          • If clothing were one of the least important means of communication, organizations wouldn't spend so much time and money designing uniforms.

            Let me recommend another book, Dick Hebdige's Subculture: the meaning of style. A really important book on the role of fashion in British youth subcultures.

            Speaking of youth subculture. If fashion really didn't mean anything, we wouldn't have towns making the wearing of saggy pants illegal. If fashion didn't mean anything, then you wouldn't have had the govenment making Zoot Suits illegal in the 40s, and then young Chicanos wearing them anyway, and then the Zoot Suit Riots were service members flooded East LA and started beating up anyone with a Zoot Suit and stripping them if their clothes.

            If clothing means so little, there wouldn't have been sumptory laws making it illegal for any one not a noble to wear certain colors or fabrics.

            If clothing meant so little, Marlene Dietrich wouldn't have been arrested if France in the 1930s for wearing pants…it wouldn't have been illegal to crossdress in the US for a very long time. There was a story that was reported a few years ago about a man who was holding his wife's purse while she was doing something and some guy on the street shot him dead because he thought that he was gay because of the purse.

            If clothes meant nothing, people being shot for wearing the wrong colors (whether Crips and Bloods or Republicans and Loyalists).

            You may not like it, but clothing has a powerful semiotic power in our society…and has for over a thousand years. Even when you dress like you don't care you say something…when Nirvana stepped on stage with their flannel and shaggy hair…that was a fashion/political/cultural/social statement.

            There is a lot of literature of the uses of fashion and its role in society.

          • No one's saying that actions and words are not important. But getting dressed in the morning is an action – not as telling a one as what you do in your spare time or how you treat waitstaff, but still one that says a fair bit about how you see yourself and how you relate to social conventions

            How a person reacts to the unexpected tells you some things about their personality, true, including some things that they might not otherwise reveal, but that's definitely not everything about them – in fact, it tells you almost nothing about how that person is likely to treat you most of the time, because most of the time people act based to a much higher degree on conscious choice.

            It sounds like what you're talking about is how to weed out utter manipulative sociopaths. If you only concentrate on things that would do that and ignore all other information you can learn about a person, you're going to miss an awful lot of stuff you'd want to know to determine if a person would be a good friend, romantic partner or pretty much anything else to you.

            It's like you're focusing on the absolute bare minimum of information (terrible human being: yes or no) and have no interest in the subtleties – and no respect for anyone who does.

            I've known a few people that I'd suspect are pretty high on the sociopathy scale, and I've generally been better than average at seeing through their personas (not that I'm a brilliant people-reader or anything, though), so it's not like paying attention to what people choose to project prevents me from being able to see the things they project inadvertently as well. It's not either notice surfaces or reality, if you're good at observing one, you may well be good at observing the other.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Actually, in a way, it's more that I'd feel like I was being sociopathic. "Would this friend/lover/romantic partner be my [whatever] right now if I hadn't planted a specific stereotypical image in their head by what I wore?"

          • Wow, I think that's attributing WAAAAY too much power to appearances. If I like someone's style and go over to chat with them, my brain is still on, I'm still paying attention to what they're saying and how they're acting, I'm constantly re-evaluating my impression of them (mostly subconsciously). "Nice hat" =/= "twue wuv."

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            No no no, I don't mean twue wuv. I mean the opening.

            Hypothetical situation: Three girls who have more or less the exact same taste and personality and interests. I know it's a stretch, but it's better than "a girl with really bad memory" or "a buncha clones" or yadda yadda, but you get the point. I guess a true example of this is someone going "I don't normally like this from people, but you get a pass because we managed to get along so well anyways."

            I go with my disheveled/running look. Most of my features combine to make me look like a junkie at worst and that I just do some drugs at best, but this level of clothing is also the most comfortable and some of it actually carries big sentinemental value. Girl #1 sees "junkie" and won't even give me the time of day because I may come off a little frightening.

            [cont]

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            I go with a more neutral look. It lessens some of the "junkie" features, still retains my sentimental touque/beanie, look a bit more "respectable." Girl #2 at least chats a bit but the impressiveness of it is lacking, carry on.

            I go with something show-y/impressive. Girl #3 responds positively to it, we've got the "time" together to interact, and it turns out we're really similar people hitting it off well. We end up being long-time friends/lovers/romantic partners (whatever, the point of using girls in this was that there's more options as a straight male). What a stroke of luck! Except I also have it in the back of my head and have half a mind to tell her to fuck herself because if it's just one girl, "the way in" never would've happened from the start if I went with something different, I wouldn't even know what time of the day it was because I don't have a mobile phone and forgot the watch at home.

          • But that's not much more impact on the relationship than if you happened to have picked up each other's umbrellas and landed up chatting based on that, or if you dressed like a junkie (really??) but your shirt happens to have a picture on it that she likes and she talks to you because of that, or if she was introduced to a bunch of people including you but your name was the same as someone else she knows – any number of really minor things can be enough to create a little talking point or interest.

            Hmm, let me try some real-life examples. I met one of my friends because I was at a breakfast party in my dorm where you had to wear pyjamas, and my pyjamas were too ratty to wear in public, so I stuck this cool silk bathrobe I owned over my day clothes, and she thought the robe was interesting and used it as an excuse to talk to me. I might have met her if I was wearing something different – she met and made friends with plenty of people NOT wearing cool bathrobes, and she still seemed to like me when I wasn't – or I might not have. All it was was something that caught her eye.

            On the other hand, several of my friends in the same residence were people I chose to introduce myself to b/c they were dressed casually in jeans & t-shirts while most of the other people there were dressed in business casual – the dressy people were mostly business students, while the casual ones were mostly in arts & sci, which meant I had something more in common with them. It's not always more stylish = better.

            …if you're dressing in such a way that you know will make people will see you as frightening, I'm not sure they're wrong to not want to talk to you – someone who doesn't care if they're scaring you is someone you might be well-advised to be scared of.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            I hit the jackpot when it comes to junky-ness. My eyes naturally looked stoned (my sister finally let me in on this a few weeks ago, my great aunt had the same trait), my skin is pale and the kind that burns more than tans, bags under the eyes depending on how late I go to sleep/how much cafeine I drink even though I can't spell that word, skinny as hell for my height, the clothes I find most comfortable are your traditional Niko Bellic/Trailer Park Boys style, and I like wearing the beanie because of sentimental value/I hate cold ears.

          • But if you find all these things combine to make you scare people, enough of these things are under your control that it's your choice if you do.

            I don't know those clothing references (fashion, it is not my strong point! ), but if they contribute to a scary/junkie look, I'd be surprised if you couldn't find some clothes that were pretty comfortable that didn't. Also, you could smile :)

            If the clothes aren't junkie-ish, I'd guess you don't look as much like a junkie as you think – plenty of people are skinny with pale skin and dark circles without scaring people off!

          • Wow, you find someone you love and you want to tell her to fuck herself because she noticed you because you were wearing something cool?

            NEWS FLASH: HUMANS ARE VISUAL CREATURES. UNUSUAL/FLASHY/COLORFUL/BEAUTIFUL THINGS CATCH OUR ATTENTION.

            Presumably, then, you don't care about the physical appearance of anyone you date, and are as open to dating women who are butt-ugly by traditional standards as to beautiful women. Presumably, you pay as much attention to ugly women as beautiful ones. Because if you do anything differently, you deserve to go fuck yourself, because being initially interested in someone because of their appearance makes you a horrible person.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            I want to tell her to go fuck herself because she wouldn't have noticed otherwise.

            AND I DON'T HAVE TO FIND THIS RESPECTABLE

            Haven't dated anyone. And I'm fully aware the difference that makeup/tight clothing/heels/etc makes on a woman, even one who isn't wearing any of that kind of stuff, and anyone who is isn't going to look like that when they wake up in the morning. Come on, now.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            You don't/ Just don't be surprised when refusing to play by society's rules or when treating people who do as not worthy of respect if those people have little interest in interacting with you. To put it bluntly, its likely to come across as arrogant.

          • So, what reasons do you consider acceptable ones for wanting to get to know a new person better?

            You've stated you don't approach women. Elsewhere, you've been very defensive when people have been unhappy with dates who can't make conversation. You're very opposed to giving non-verbal cues through appearance. You've recognized that interests aren't a perfect way to find compatible partners.

            So how are people supposed to get a hint that this special, private you is in there and is worth taking the time to tease out? People aren't mind readers, and most of us know enough people that we can't take the time to date or become intimate friends with everyone we encounter.

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            It's impossible. I'm wrong.

          • Of course you don't have to find this respectable. But based on what you say on this site, you seem pretty conflicted. I think maybe you should spend a little time thinking about what you really want:

            If you are actually happy never connecting with people, you'll probably be happier if you accept that and stop resenting people for not connecting with you.

            If you would actually be happier connecting with people and developing healthy relationships, you need to open yourself to the possiblity that there are kind, interesting people who value complexity out there, even if you've encountered some shitty people. And you need to recognize that you are currently CHOOSING to send the message to people that you DON'T want to connect with them, don't respect them, and aren't willing to play by the rules of society that allow people to feel comfortable with you.

            It's your choice to pre-reject them instead of taking the chance that they might reject you. But I think you'll be a lot less frustrated if you acknowledge that choice and own it.

          • I don't agree w you*, but I can see where you're coming from here.

            When my sister-in-law dropped 150 lbs, she was amazed at how desired by men she became. Suddenly, every dude within a 50 mile radius wanted a piece of her. While she enjoyed the attention (because she was always the "frumpy fat chick" who got NO attention), she did admit to me feeling conflicted and angry. And YES, she kind of did want to tell all these guys to go fuck themselves. Where were they when she was fat?? They're sitting here saying how "amazing" she is, with a "beautiful soul" (for real, a guy confided in me that little tidbit about her, hoping I'd put in a good word). Well, she was just as "amazing" before, and I don't think her soul lost any weight!

            But yeah.

            *the reason I don't agree is, while I acknowledge that appearances can make things easier or harder, I'm pretty optimistic that most people aren't quite so sociopathic in their assessments of others. I may not look like a model and get loads of guys wanting to bang me and telling me I'm all amazing, but I'm still pretty happy and have love and real friends.

          • "Actions, words, and especially reactions to the unexpected or even stressful is what tells you what you need to know about a person. "

            EVERYTHING tells you something important about people, not just how they behave when they're stressed. How they behave when they're happy is just as telling. You learn as much from what they love as what they hate, and as much from when they're confident as when they're stressed.

            Hell, stress — when it's sustained — makes people behave in ways that AREN'T like themselves. Depressed people (STRESS) do self-destructive things that, at any other time in their life, they wouldn't do. Who are YOU to say that who they are for a year when they're depressed is more real than who they've been for their entire lives, and who they become again when they make it through the depression?

            Angry people (STRESS) say things they don't mean all the time. How is an "I hate you!" yelled out in a moment of fury more real than the love they feel the rest of the time?

            Traumatized people may react in irrational ways to normal stimuli because the normal stimulus drives them to fight or flight mode when it shouldn't. How is that more real than their reactions at any other time in their lives?

          • Anonymoose47 says:

            Because it tells you how people will react when something starts going down and you need support, and the stuff they're holding down or really keeping hidden from you.

            Anyone can be cool when happy and confident, that tells you next to nothing about them because it doesn't involve anything important.

          • This is not untrue, per se.

            But these are things that you can't learn about a person except gradually, through spending time with them. First you see if someone seems like someone you'd like to have a conversation with, then you see if they're someone you'd like to hang out with, then you evaluate if they're someone you'd like to be casual friends with. You gradually tell them more personal things and see how they react, see how they treat you when you need support on a minor level (eg. if you had a lousy day), see how they talk about and treat other people they encounter.

            Also, a lot of these things aren't all or nothing. I have a friend who's terrible about being supportive and listening if you're going through a bad time. But he's also really understanding if you have to cancel plans b/c you're sick etc, and who will always make the effort to come to you if you're tired and don't have the energy to go out to meet him.

          • Myster Baad says:

            "Who are YOU to say that who they are for a year when they're depressed is more real than who they've been for their entire lives, and who they become again when they make it through the depression?"

            As a depressed person for most of my life, I have to say that I at least feel more real, more alive, and more myself in the pits of depression than during an average, boring, unfulfilling day.

          • Feeling that your average day is boring and unfulfilling is also depression, not just the moments of deep despair/sadness.

            And a schizophrenic person might believe that they have been instructed to kill someone. Does that mean that the real person is a killer? There's a reason we have the insanity defense, legally. Because we understand, as a society, that illness can make you do things you would normally do, and make you into a person that, when you're healthy, you really aren't.

          • Yes to the idea that not everyone is drawn to stereotypes. For many people, complexity and unexpected traits are very appealing. As Mel says, we as humans make sense of the world by simplifying and categorizing, but also, we LIKE understanding things, so for many people, if someone isn't too easily categorized on first sight, they are interested to know more about them!

            I think most people like a balance between traits that fit within a "type" and ones that make the person more unique than their type, but the ratio that's most appealing varies from person to person.

          • It's not particularly worthy of respect, but it also doesn't allow you to be disrespectful and still call yourself a good person. (Some things deservedly diminish respect, some things should earn greater respect, but a lot of day-to-day human behavior seems pretty value-neutral to me.)

            I think it's especially common among people who are uncomfortable/feeling awkward in an unfamiliar social situation. "Oh, that guy's the bartender! I'll go talk to him because I know how to talk to bartenders and I'm not sure what to say to most of the people here…" or "Oh, that person's wearing a Lakers jersey — I'll go talk to him because I'm comfortable talking sports."

            I don't think it usually comes from hostility, snobbery, etc. I think it usually comes from social awkwardness and wanting a script, or, at worst, a bit of laziness.

    • Heh. Reminds me of an interview with J K Rowling, where she cautioned her female readers not to get Tom Felton mixed up with Draco Malfoy. One is an attractive actor, the other is a Very Bad Person.

    • It's true. I'm dating a very good guy who looks like a bad boy. Most of the time that works for him, although some people have been prone to assuming he's an asshole until they get to know him.

      • Same with the guy I'm seeing, I myself am guilty of the assumption; this guy is super quick-witted and seemed really edgey, so I took his humor and charisma for confidence. But it took 3 dates to hold my hand. I'm lucky I didn't take his inaction for disinterest like discussed on a previous thread, or I'd have missed out on a great guy.

        My badass IS a gentleman, and the combination is *wonderful*.

  17. Lindsay Lohan – why can't you keep your hair red? WHY MUST YOU BLEACH IT BLONDE?!!!! WHY???!!

    • The Mikey says:

      If only she didn’t have a music career… If only she hadn’t done cocaine. I miss clean sober Lindsay. :(

    • Myster Baad says:

      She wants us to know that being famous is more important to her than anything – including being admired.

  18. Where are you guys getting this "gloomy" stuff?

    I said guys shouldn't have a huge grin. There's some real estate between that and being gloomy, right?

    Girls love *ambiguity* almost as much as confidence. Your countenance should reflect that .

    • You said guys shouldn't grin, full stop. The word "huge" wasn't used. And you were commenting in agreement with Paul's comment, where he was saying that men looking "serious" seem to do better than men even slightly smiling. So I think it's understandable that people thought you were saying men should not smile at all and look serious.

      And funnily enough, women are not a homogenous entity who all love the same things. Some might love ambiguity. I personally have always felt most attracted to guys who showed they were attracted to me rather than making me wonder.

      I'm not sure DNL used the best possible phrasing–I think the smile needs to be genuine and relaxed, but necessarily "big". But I doubt you'll get very fair with women if you don't smile at all while interacting with them, or only smile stiffly.

  19. What I'm left wondering is what happens to people who have only one or two of the "dark triad" attributes, but not all three.

    • They become bad boys and girls for people who are less risk adverse. You only have two-thirds of a chance of something awful happening.

  20. Also, I'm not sure if I'm willing to buy this study's version of cause and effect. It seems equally plausible that people who are attractive–in a holistic sense, e.g. they are good at self-presentation–might become more narcissistic, more machiavellian, and more psychopathic.

    Narcissism, of course, is an obvious path; people who are constantly being told they're attractive must start to believe it eventually. And then, they notice that they can easily get what they want if they do certain things. Now,–not to be overly tautological–everyone wants what they want. Or, everyone wants something from other people, and if behaving manipulatively is working, I can only imagine it's a hard habit to break.

    Now, you've got an unhealthily high opinion of yourself and the entire world is putty in your paws. Assuming it's possible to engender (or at least increase a nascent trait) psychopathy, I picture it being quite easy to think of morality as "inconvenient," a nice idea, but in the way of this terribly pleasant life you've become accustomed to. And thus, you stop treating people like humans, and start exhibiting psychopathic symptoms.

    I don't actually have any proof of this; I just write it to spark debate.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      I would say from my own anecdotal evidence that its possible to head in that direction. Its a sign of maturity not to.

    • There are several women I know in the dance community who are stunningly beautiful. Not merely, "wow Susan is kind of cute" pretty but really drop-dead gorgeous. Most of them like being told that they are beautiful at times. None of them are vamps or femme fatale types, the female equivalent of bad boys.

    • I'd suspect there are some people who become narcissistic because they're very attractive and develop it because of the way people respond to them, but there are lots of people who are manipulative but not attractive, so there are obviously other factors involved in developing that trait. And as far as I recall, studies into psychopathy have found that it seems to be an innate personality type that people are pretty much born with (you usually see signs of psychopathy going back to early childhood) rather than behavior patterns you learn. Which is why it's pretty much impossible to "cure" someone of psychopathy–no amount of therapy or medication seems to change it. The only way scientists have found to rehabilitate criminal psychopaths so far is to teach them how more societally-friendly ways of behaving actually benefit themselves more as well.

  21. Excellent post. One of my friends asked me how I always attract more guys than her when we're out – this is pretty much the answer I gave. I dress myself well, I can use my body language and expression to flirt (I'm a dancer, it's a fairly important performance skill), and I'm comfortable with the idea that I'm not everyone's type.

    Some advice from a competitive dancer comparing comps to making a first impression: during the competition, you want to catch the judges' eyes. You do your hair and wear all the right clothes. Then you need to perform – be confident, and use your body and expression to make a good impression. If nobody's interested in watching you, then you can pretty much assume you're not putting on a show that's worth watching. Afterwards, you either go home satisfied with your performance or knowing you need to work on your moves – regardless of the competition result. And don't take it personally. The settings could be unfamiliar, you could be wearing shoes with too much grip that don't let glide – you can be off your game. It's not personal, since they don't know you – just what you show.

    Of course, meeting people isn't like a competition. But a first impression is like a performance. If yours is good, people will respond. Afterwards is another matter, though.

    • Myster Baad says:

      "…meeting people isn't like a competition."

      For many of us, it's a competition with the person we're meeting. Can we penetrate their defenses, bypass their preconceptions, and get to a pleasant interaction despite being who we are and not who they hope or think we are?

      For others, it's that plus a competition against ourselves. Can we keep it together – maintain self-confidence, remember the niceties/pitfalls, and notice/interpret the signals long enough, and steady enough, to stay in the game?

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        Its as much of a competition as you make it. I prefer a more win-win model.

        • Myster Baad says:

          I would prefer a more win-win model. I'm just not able to let go of competitiveness as something that goes hand-in-hand with confident masculinity. So I cast everything as a test, and tell myself that the confident man is always aware of the tests and ready for them.

          Deep down, I suspect that self-confidence isn't about seeing life as an endless series of contests, but somehow, intellectually, it doesn't quite add up. Maybe because it feels too simple – it's gotta be harder, or I'd be doing it.

          • Simple doesn't always mean easy!

          • Myster Baad says:

            Another truth I have yet to learn *sigh*…Simple truths we don't accept end up spreading like cancers, making everything more complex than it needs to be.

      • Have you ever tried thinking of it as a *collaboration* with the person you're meeting? Why on earth are you viewing everyone as an opponent rather than a potential ally?

      • It definitely can be a challenge. But I just meant that it shouldn't be viewed as something with winners and losers, where you have rivals and a prize.

  22. I think it's ridiculous that you feel anyone who isn't comfortable getting completely physically intimate with another person after only spending three dates with them must have hang-ups about sex. Like I said, just because you're comfortable with that doesn't mean there's something wrong with someone who needs to get to know their partner better than that before they want to get that intimate. Do you also expect other people to be completely emotionally intimate, telling you their deepest feelings, after just a few meetings? I'm guessing not.

    It's fine to say you only want to date people who open to hooking up with near-strangers–the problem is that you're criticizing other people for having different preferences. Would you be okay with someone here saying that people who want to have sex after only a few dates are clearly commitment-phobes or only looking to use women for their bodies? If not, then you shouldn't make sweeping judgments about other people for wanting to wait a little longer.

    • Trent Bolone says:

      Seeing as everyone here is already accusing me of thinking like that even though it's obviously not true…

      • Where exactly did that happen? One person has said that you sound like you're using a commodity model yourself; one other person has suggested that some women suspect men (in general) who have rules about how soon they need to have sex see them that way. Neither of which, I'll point out, is a blanket statement about how all people who have a certain preference or comfort level think, like the ones you've made. And everyone else has simply offered alternate explanations to your blanket statements.

        If you can't handle people disagreeing with you without taking it as a personal attack, perhaps you should avoid commenting on public blogs?

        And even if everyone here had made their own inaccurate blanket statements about all people who want sex early in a relationship, how would that make it okay for you to do that too? Does it feel good to get the impression other people have a poor opinion of you that isn't justified? I'd imagine not, so why would you want to do that to other people? You've heard of the phrase, "Two wrongs don't make a right," yes? When someone treats you badly, treating someone else badly doesn't do anything to fix the original situation. It just makes the problem bigger.

      • Dan_Brodribb says:

        You keep using that word (obviously). I do not think it means what you think it means.

      • Everyone here is not accusing you of "thinking like that."

        It's also *not* "obviously not true."

  23. Gentleman Johnny says:

    There are other possibilities, too. The best way to find out is to quit trying to read her mind and have an open discussion. Not "why don't you want to have sex" but maybe something along the lines of where you see your relationship, where she sees it and where the both of you would like to see it go.

    • SERIOUSLY. Wonder what someone's thinking? Take the radical, counterintuitive step of, oh, I dunno, ASKING THEM.

  24. It sounds like the idea of someone leading you on really troubles you. What has your experience been?

    • Trent Bolone says:

      I don't like the idea of being used for free dinners/drinks/entertainment when the woman has no interest in a relationship (notice I didn't say sex).

      • And here is the evidence that you operating on the commodity model. You feel like you have paid money in the form of dinner/drinks/entertainment…so you deserve to get something for your money. That is classic commodity model. And also creepy.

      • That is, essentially, the commodity model of sex. It sounds like you have no problem with it, and are mostly concerned with making sure you get a good deal.

        A way to avoid that – whether or not you want to have sex early, which should be a different issue – is to go on less money-focused dates and to date women who expect to pay their own way.

        • I hear you talk about the "idea of being used." Is it the IDEA that you don't like or has this actually happened to you? What has been your experience with dating?

          I've noticed in other comments you've talked about wanting a relationship, but also put a lot of focus on having sex quickly. I'm not saying those are incompatible, but what you say you want isn't completely consistent with some of the other things you're talking about.

          As a side note, I've noticed in dating a lot of us have a tendency to create the very problem we're trying to avoid. I mention this because I'm seeing a lot of pushback from other commenters on the way you're communicating. I've noticed when guys/gals talk about "not wanting to be used," it turns off the non-user segment of the population. The only people who seem to like it are users. I don't know why. Maybe they see an easy mark.

      • Why are you buying, then? There's nothing wrong with splitting the bill. When I was dating I refused to let the guy pay for me for precisely the reason you're implying: he might feel he was entitled to something other than my company.

  25. I also know people (both male and female) who don't want to have sex with someone unless they are in a committed relationship, and they've had STD tests together and are going to be monogamous. These people have a collaborative model for sex when they are having it, but sex is also either a) something powerful you share with someone after having gotten really comfortable and intimate with them and/or b) they are very aware of the dangers of STD's, especially AIDS and Hep C, and would rather make sure everything is safe before they start getting into a situation where fluids might be shared.

    People have a lot of reasons for not wanting to have sex within 3 dates…and commodity model is not nearly the only reason. And are you sure you don't see sex in that model? Because it sounds lie you do. It sounds like you are resentful of some woman you've invested time in withholding sex from you.

    • Trent Bolone says:

      "According to a report by researchers Norman Hearst and Stephen Hulley in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the odds of a heterosexual becoming infected with AIDS after one episode of penile-vaginal intercourse with someone in a non-high-risk group without a condom are one in 5 million. With a condom it's even safer — one in 50 million."

      I don't buy that AIDS is an issue.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        And those numbers will do absolutely nothing to convince someone who feels the way Trooper6 describes.

      • Easy for you to say. You do realize that it is much easier for women to get STDs from men than the other way around, right?

        According to the CDC, 1 in 139 women in the US will be diagnosed with HIV in her lifetime…mostly infected through heterosexual sex. So your blasé attitude about sexual safety isn't all that reassuring or impressive.

        And of course, HIV isn't the only STD to worry about. The CDC is particularly concerned with clamydia and syphilis infection rates. And women need to worry about HPV.

        Your cavalier attitude about the health of you partner by dismissing concerns about STD transmission does not speak well of you.

      • HPV and herpes are terribly common, and some people are terribly worried about them. There's also that classic sexually transmitted non-disease, pregnancy. Being in a long term relationship doesn't prevent it, but for some people, it may make it easier to deal with.

        Everyone has his or her own comfort zone. You don't need to date and accomodate everyone, but the fact that someone is different from you doesn't mean they have a secret, evil agenda to trick you into commitment.

      • AIDS not actually being an issue is very different, when you're talking about motivations for people's behavior, from people THINKING it's an issue. Toxins in vaccines are not actually an issue, but that doesn't stop thousands of parents from refusing to vaccinate their kids because they're afraid of said toxins.

  26. BritterSweet says:

    The thing is, most women don't want to have sex within 3 dates is because the guys who demand that almost always ARE guys who hump and dump.

  27. That is a ridiculously short list of possibilities.

    There's also:

    4) She hasn't decided whether you are safe to be vulnerable with yet. Hell, I went on three dates with a guy who seemed perfectly nice. On the fourth, he went in for a kiss sort of abruptly. I was surprised and pushed him away, and he began slapping me. Sociopaths are generally pretty charming, and you can't always identify them within three meetings.

    5) Some people want to know someone really well before they sleep with them. This isn't some sort of rule of having "X dates." Some people just need longer to feel ready.

    6) Traditional dates aren't always the best way to get to know someone, and sexual attraction isn't enough, by itself, to be a good reason to sleep with someone (unless all you're going for is casual, NSA sex, but even then, you also have to at least feel safe with the person).

    7) 9 billion other reasons why your timeline of 3 dates doesn't make sense for other people, who are individuals, not clones of the way you think.

  28. Paul Rivers says:

    "1) She has no interest in me, and is leading me on for whatever reason.
    2) She has moral (or other) hangups about sex.
    3) She has her own rule of refusing to have sex before X dates. "

    Trent, wanted to say that I've seen all these to…I can never actually get myself to enforce a time limit, but I watch friends do it and they're far, far more successful than I am. One specific example is my best friend from high school – he went out with a girl 3 times and she kept turning him down for anything past making out. The third time, he was getting tired of it. He gave up on it, and decided after that time he wasn't going to hang out with her any more. Guess what – she says to him "let's have sex". Nowadays they're married and just had a kid.

    An exgirlfriend of mine actually turned over and offered to have sex in the middle of the night one night. Unfortunately, she did it in such a cold and "let's get it over with" manner (in this case I had not pressured her to have sex whatseover, not even a little bit) that I turned it down. It was just so…ew. I mean I wanted to have "sex" – not "something that resembles sex but is really just incredibly uncomfortable and a little disgusting.

    A friend of mine told me that if I wanted to date her I should have just done it, and sure enough I was never able to date or sleep with her again, despite actually managing to build a fair amount of sexual tension some time later.

    Not only that, but I watched her go through guy after guy after that, building them almost to the point of having sex – then when they didn't make exactly the right move at exactly the right moment, telling them that the moment had passed.

    She was exactly the kind of girl who would talk on and on about how she would never sleep with a guy she wasn't dating, etc etc. Nowadays she's "dating" a guy who doesn't think he ever wants a relationship with anyone.

    She's #2 – I think she genuinely believed that she was searching for a relationship and wanted one, but because of certain emotional hangups she has, it just wasn't going to go anywhere until she got to a player.

    Also, I think the back on forth here is a tiny bit ridiculous – I don't see how you saying "there's a few possibilities" translates at all to "anyone who isn't comfortable getting completely physically intimate with another person after only spending three dates with them must have hang-ups about sex".

    I don't see listing out a small list of some of the reasons it doesn't work as declaring those are the only possibilities.

    I personally cannot stand girls who want to sleep with me, but have a hangup about ever talking about it, or ever discussing what's working and what's not. She might make a perfectly wonderful girlfriend for another guy, her hangups don't mean she's undateable or anything like that, but it does kind of mean she's never going to work with me.

    We all have some sort of hangups – I know of girl who's into physical pain during sex. Which of us has the "hangup" – I don't know, but I'm never, ever, ever comfortable with doing that.

  29. Offering spirited debate does not = "mad". The only thing I've been frustrated with is the fact that you seem more concerned with being right about everything than with considering things people are saying with any real thought.

  30. *fulfilling

  31. Alert eyes, bright smile, and kind, interested demeanor–immediate attractiveness!

  32. About the SMILE part… Whenever I smile voluntarily, I look like I'm making an extremely evil grin. My involuntary smiles are nicely OK, but they are, duh, involuntary and only occur on given circunstances… And the SMILE tip makes it seem that you must smile when you wouldn't naturally… So, how to comply?

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  35. Great stuff man. Great stuff. My only issue was the misuse of “psychopathy”. The definition you listed is actually a sociopath. Not a psychopath. There is a huge difference, but it is a common mistake. Psychopathy is the state of having psychosis. And psychosis is defined as “1.
    a mental disorder characterized by symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations, that indicate impaired contact with reality.
    2.
    any severe form of mental disorder, as schizophrenia or paranoia. ”

    Simple mistake. I just wanted to add some clarity due to the fact that real psychopaths aren’t mean assholes. Just confused people often victimized for the mixup between them and sociopaths, who are manipulative assholes with no regard for others.

  36. tony rickerby says:

    As a ‘bad boy’ I read the article with interest,and the comments.thanks for the information,its very useful.
    I’m in a committed relationship,but self-knowledge and knowledge of others rocks.
    Guys,don’t be a nice guy,you want her naked,not her approval.and she wants sex too.make the move

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