The Unbelievable Secret To Getting More Sex

One of the ongoing complaints I see amongst my readers and in society in general is sex. Most people aren’t getting laid enough… and they don’t know what to do about it. Whether it’s a case of chasing after numbers, finding a no-strings-attached hook-up , a lack of nookie in a committed relationship or even just managing to lose one’s virginity, it often seems like sexual fulfillment is something that happens to other people.

It’s a constant source of frustration, angst, even self-harm in men. It’s led men to drink, drugs and dodgy sub-reddits.

But no longer.

Today, I’m going to do something that nobody else has done: I’m going to give you the secret to getting all of the sex you can handle… and I’m giving it away for free ((So many jokes…)). No sales pitch. No “free-sample-now-pay-for-the-rest.” No dodgy links. Everything’s on the up and up.

I warn you now: it’s not going to be easy. But I think you’ll agree with me that it’s worth it.


The Single Biggest Impediment To Sex

You want to know the main reason why sex seems so damned difficult to come by unless you’re one of the blessed few who seem to have an intrinsic grasp of social dynamics?

It’s women. Kinda.

More specifically: it’s the way that society has treated and socialized women for literally hundreds and thousands of years. Over generations, society has placed barrier after barrier between women and their own sexuality. In fact, the dominant narrative for the last two hundred years has been that women are inherently the “purer” sex, the ones who are biologically inclined to monogamy, who are the less lustful of the species.

Women – and society – have been taught that sex is a masculine trait; men are satyrs who can barely control themselves while women are tasked with having to guard not only their own virtue but regulate men’s sexuality as well, because Lord knows men can’t, bless their hearts.

FYI: "Bless your/their/his heart" is Southern for "... fucking idiot."

FYI: “Bless your/their/his heart” is Southern for “… fucking idiot.”


In fact, until relatively recently, female sexuality was an oxymoron. The idea that women even wanted sex was a heretical thought.

Women As Non-Sexual Beings

It wasn’t always thus. In fact, in the western Classical Age, women’s sexuality was considered to be in many ways superior to men’s. In Ovid’s Metamorphosis,  Tiresias is called upon to settle a bet between Zeus and Hera: who gets more out of sex, men or women?1 After spending years transformed by the gods into a woman – never let it be said that the Greeks didn’t believe in rigorous study – Tiresias had an answer: a woman’s pleasure from sex was nine times more intense than a man’s.

"Oh yeah? Well my satisfaction is over 9000!!!!"

“Oh yeah? Well my satisfaction is OVER 9000!!!!”

Medicine and fertility treatments of the time – well up until the Middle Ages – focused on the importance, even necessity of women’s sexual pleasure in order to ensure conception… the female orgasm was considered to be as important, if not more so, than the man’s.

Not, mind you, that this meant that women’s sexuality was embraced or approved of. The madonna/whore dichotomy was well and truly in place early on. In the Talmud, Adam’s first wife Lilith is expelled from Eden for trying to take the superior role in sex – riding her husband rather than laying back and thinking of Babylon; after her expulsion she goes on to lay with the wild beasts of the desert and becomes the mother of demons. Eve’s sin – giving in to temptation – is the burden of all women. The Malleus Maleficarum – the official witch-hunter’s guidebook of the early modern Catholic Church – tells stories of lustful witches who steal men’s seed, stamina and even their genitals through sex. 

The idea of woman-as-insatiable-temptress lasted right up until the 19th century when suddenly the narrative shifted. Now it was no longer that women were lustful and needed to be controlled; now the story – especially promoted by proto-feminist movements and Protestant Christianity and eagerly adopted by Victorian England – was that women were the purer gender.

This idea would go on to shape not just the perception of women, but the understanding of human sexuality.

Science, Evo-Psych and The Power of the Cultural Narrative

We like to think that we’re a logical species – that we see the world with gimlet-eyed clarity and a belief in science and evidence above all else. After all, we’ve tamed the deserts, charted the oceans, harnessed the atom and conquered outer space… clearly we are a people of lucid cognition who see only what is real, untainted by superstition or cultural prejudice.

Except this isn’t true. We let confirmation bias control much of what we believe, even down to our science. Much of our belief about human sexuality – the importance and universality of monogamy, for example – stem from the Flintsonization of primitive cultures. Darwin was a notorious prude and this directly influenced his interpretations of evolution, as well as the interpretations of those who came after him. We ascribe modern morality and concepts to our paleolithic ancestors because we believe that it was always thus.

This is never more evident than in evolutionary psychology. The goal of evo-psych is to show that our modern behavior is inborn, that everything from whom we’re attracted to, to social dynamics, is born out of evolution instead of societal change. Women, for example, are built for monogamy and are less interested in sex in general – so the theory goes – because sperm is metaphorically cheap while eggs are expensive; there is less metabolic cost to men for producing sperm, while women not only generate the ovum, but place their health and safety at risk by bearing the child. It follows, then, that men are naturally not inclined to monogamy because their lizard-brains tell them that they need to spread their cheap sperm far and wide to better maximize their potential for offspring. Women, on the other hand, hold back sex in exchange for status, protection and resources; they want to maximize their individual offspring’s chances to survive… and sexual access is the currency they have to offer.

It’s a lovely theory, one that just feels right. We all know men are hornier than women after all…

Except it’s not true. Not only are women not less sexually inclined than men, but neither are they naturally monogamous. Female primates don’t actually trade sex for protection and support; in fact, it’s more beneficial for the female to mate with many males because of the way it obscures paternity and helps prevent the threat infanticide from males who might want to make her fertile again. Humans in particular are built for multiple partners; male genitalia and sexual response are designed to flush out the sperm of other males.

The “eggs are cheap” theory falls into a logical fallacy known as post hoc ergo propter hoc – “after this, therefor because of this”. It’s backfilling the origins of modern sexual behavior by establishing a seemingly logical “reason” for its existence. But we’ve seen over and over again that, in fact, human sexuality has far less to do with reproduction than evo-psych would have us believe.

We let the cultural narrative control how we see the world and that belief affects everything else. Scientists have long said that males of almost every species are the sexual aggressors, because we’ve long believed that males are the universally dominant gender. But because we believe this, we overlook evidence to the contrary. When we study animal reproduction, we often focus on the actual mating… but not on the behavior that leads up to it.

In his book What Do Women Want? Daniel Bergner interviews scientists who study sexual behavior in animals – and the results are interesting. Even in species as diverse as rats and rhesus monkeys, the female does the majority of the initiation for sex; rather than letting the pheromones produced by estrus do all of the work for her, she must entice the male into mating. More often than not, the male’s contribution to sex involves being a passive actor, only coming to action when called upon.

This blindness persists even into human sexuality. One of the biggest “discoveries” trumpeted around the Internet in 2009 was the stunning revelation that the human clitoris is actually much, much larger than previously thought – extending far into the body and actually bifurcating into branches and wrapping around the vagina like a pair wings.

... if I make a "Cthulu lies dreaming in sunken R'yleh" joke, ya'll are going to kill me, aren't you?

… if I make a “Cthulu lies dreaming in sunken R’yleh” joke, ya’ll are going to kill me, aren’t you?

Except… this wasn’t really news. In fact, this had been discovered and published in medical journals more than 11 years earlier when Dr. Helen O’Connoll studied the clitoris in an MRI. And yet, this fact was ignored in medical textbooks and anatomical illustrations until recently. For reference, the penis was mapped via MRI in the 1970s.  The clitoris was treated as a vestigal organ at best. While thousands upon thousands of pages have been written about penile surgery – especially about restoring or enhancing sensation, the majority of medical information regarding the clitoris and clitoral hood consisted of dermatology.

Why? Because the clitoris’ only purpose is sexual pleasure. And we, as a culture, continue to be incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of female sexuality or women having sexual agency.

Good Girls Go To Heaven/Bad Girls Go Everywhere

To be a woman in the modern world is to be placed at odds with one’s own sexual desires.

In the opening chapters of his book, Daniel Berenger talks about an eye-opening study regarding the differences between female and male sexuality. Dr. Meredith Chivers, a professor of Clinical Psychology at Queen’s University conducted a study of the sexual response in men and women, comparing one’s subjective arousal to the actual arousal as measured by blood flow to the genitals. Subjects – men and women of various sexual orientations – would watch an assortment of videos of 90 seconds each- heterosexual and homosexual couples having sex, nude men, nude women, men and women masturbating and a pair of bonobos mating. Between each clip, they would be shown a video of a nature scene to return their arousal level back to baseline normal. Each subject had a keypad on which they would rate their feelings of arousal. As a result, Chivers had records of each participant’s subjective and objective arousal.

Male response tracked closely to their reported sexual identity; gay men were aroused by gay porn and nude men while straight men were aroused by the hetero couples and the women; their subjective and objective arousal levels matched. Women’s… did not.

In fact, the records showed that women were far more aroused than men by a wider variety of images. Regardless of sexual identity, the female subjects were aroused by the sexual activity; the lesbian subjects were aroused by the male homosexual porn and the hetero subjects were aroused by the sapphic lovers and scenes of women masturbating. And yet the levels of subjective arousal reported by the participants varied. Again, the men’s self-reported arousal levels matched their recorded blood-flow… but the women’s were often contradicted by their own bodies.

There have been other studies that strongly suggest that the cause for the discordant results is that women are socialized to be disconnected from their own sexuality – that men are allowed to sexually in tune with their own wants and lusts while women are not.

Considering the way that society responds to any suggestion that women are sexual creatures, this is hardly surprising. In the 1940s and 50s, Alfred Kinsey conducted the first comprehensive study of human sexuality and published his findings in two books. The first, Sexual Behavior In the Human Male was a runaway success, turning Dr. Kinsey into an overnight celebrity; quite the unexpected reception for a dry tome full of charts and statistical data, written for the academic and scientific community. The second book however, Sexual Behavior In The Human Female did not get the same response. In fact, public outcry against his findings – that women masturbated, that most women had pre-marital sex, that a surprising number were lesbians or bisexual and had same-sex experiences – was so intense that there was a Congressional inquiry into his finances. He lost his grants and his job and died in poverty. The backlash against his findings and his study was so great that it hampered future research into human sexuality for decades. 

Society, in effect, attempted to bury the Kinsey reports because they didn’t like the way it disrupted the social narrative about female sexuality.

Even as social mores changed with rise of feminism and the Sexual Revolution in the 60s, women who were overtly sexual were portrayed as having something wrong with them; they clearly had been abused, or psychological problems or were otherwise just “damaged goods”. The idea that they might have sex for pleasure’s sake was anathema. Women, we are told over and over again, require emotional inspiration for sex; even the classic “Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask)” insisted that “before a woman could have sexual intercourse, she must have social intercourse”. The infamous 1989 Clark/Hatfield study continues to be held up as “evidence” that women don’t like sex the way that men do despite the problems with its methodology and the subsequent studies that refute it.

Even today, society pushes back hard against women owning their sexual interests… even as women are encouraged to take active control of every other aspect of their lives. Every few months it seems, somebody notices that the sexual culture has been changing, especially on college campuses. It seems that not a month can go by without another article tut-tutting and pearl-clutching over the rise of “hook-up culture” and the “dangers” it’s presenting to young women.

"Mabel, you're not going to believe this. College students like to get freaky..."

“Mabel, you’re not going to believe this. College students like to get freaky…

Even the New York Times couldn’t get away from the slut-shaming; while the first few stories talked about young women who were engaging in sex because they felt like it, the second half was equal parts finger-wag and tragedy porn, a mélange of regrets, tales of woe and rape. The message was unmistakable: these poor girls, ruining their lives because they were fucking like men.

The point was driven home later by Newsweek editor-in-chief Tina Brown:

I found this tragic because it basically says that these girls are completely editing out tenderness, intimacy, excitement, somebody respecting them

Yes. Women deciding that they wanted no-strings attached sex meant that they were cutting themselves off from intimacy and permanently marking themselves with a scarlet “S” that would forever prevent some man from considering them a viable future spouse. In 2013.

Of course, it certainly doesn’t help when you have politician after politician actively punishing women for having sex for any reason outside of missionary-position-and-strictly-for-procreation. First it was the conservative outcry over – get this – birth control pills, something that hasn’t been controversial  since Griswold Vs. Connecticut  (1965) made it legal for married couples and Eisenstadt v. Baird (1971) made it legal for everyone else. Rick Perry decided to lead the nationwide charge against women’s sex lives by mandating getting a stick shoved up one’s hoo-hah as an unavoidable prerequisite to getting an abortion and then closed 99% of the abortion clinics in Texas. And as goes Texas, so goes the rest of the nation; Virginia, Wisconsin and Michigan were quick to follow with their own version of the trans-vaginal ultrasound laws as a way to punish all those sluts for their sluttish ways.

But where would all of the slut-shaming be without a generous dose of hypocrisy to go with it?

Women are allowed to be sexual… but only in prescribed ways. Their sexuality is to be a performance, something done in order to please men, not for themselves. The nude women that bedeck the scenery of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” are decorative, not empowered; their sexiness is there to affirm Thicke’s desirability and virility. The Daily Mail – a UK tabloid that is, frankly so shitty that wrapping fish in it would be an insult to the ocean, takes great glee in drawing attention to nip-slips, muffin-tops and the occasional oops-no-panties moment for female celebrities. It loves nothing more than criticizing them for their shamelessness & lack of decency – as well as not keeping their bodies to the desired standards of Daily Mail’s readers and editorial board.

…and few celebs are willing or able to slap back as effectively or awesomely as Amanda Palmer did. Warning, very NSFW

Geek culture similarly has a love/hate relationship with women’s sexuality; they may love the sexy cosplayers but only in as much as they gratify men’s interests… and even then they’re suspect. Adrienne Curry gets held up as an “attention whore”2 and “fake” geek girl whenever she attends San Diego Comic-Con in skimpy costumes. Cosplayers who portray sexy characters, Rule 69 versions, or otherwise show “too much” skin are simultaneously lusted after – witness the number of “hottest cosplayer” photo galleries – and accused of only being there to bolster their number of Facebook and Instagram followers. As though someone who’s “only in it for the attention” is willing to shell out the hundreds of bucks for a SDCC pass, fight through the Thunderdome that is the Comic-Con hotel-reservation system3 and spend countless hours and dollars creating costumes just “for the attention” rather than a way of embodying and expressing their love for the characters they adore….

It isn’t helped any when men themselves are socially resistant to sexually aggressive women. A large part of why women aren’t willing to approach men they’re interested in is because men react badly to such a violation of the social narrative. When women make the first move, they’re often seen as being slutty or overly-aggressive. Those men who don’t respond with immediate distaste tend to overestimate the women’s interest in them and react accordingly… which is to say, trying to spelunk her tonsils with any portion of his anatomy he thinks she might take.

Small wonder then, that women – even in this day and age, when more and more young women are discarding traditional definitions of “feminine behavior” and forgoing dating for casual relationships in college – are still uncomfortable with the idea of fucking as care-free as men do; not only do they bear the majority of the physical risk but the social risk as well.

The Secret To Getting More Sex

So now that you’ve stuck around this long, let’s talk about what all this means to you.

If you’re looking for more casual sex, whether it’s a fuck-buddy relationship, a same-night hook-up, or just no-strings attached sex, you’re going to have your work cut out for you. The level of cultural conditioning that we’ve received – women and men – is difficult to unravel and work through… even when you know it’s there. There are a large number of women who want a casual hook-up but feel uncomfortable pursuing one because of social opprobrium, even in 2013. Women are continually subject to messages of denial and shame when they step out of the traditional gender roles of sexuality and this directly affects their relationships… and yours.

(As the official NerdLove Celebrity Patronus  Dan Savage has said many times, part of why American culture’s so screwed up over sex is that “Canada got the French, Australia got the convicts and America got the Puritans”.)


... let's not think too hard about what OTHER forms the NerdLove Patronus might take.

… let’s not think too hard about what OTHER forms the NerdLove Patronus might take.

So what can you do about it?

Understand That Women Want Sex Too

As far as advice goes, this seems like a “duh, George” moment if ever there was one. But one common sticking point I’ve seen over and over again is accepting the idea that women are as much sexual beings as men are. All too often, guys have a hard time expressing their desires or even wanting to admit that they have them. They often see their own sexuality as problematic and assume that women are naturally going to be offended by it because they’re so much less animalistic or base than men, or that they have different needs. Except it’s not true; women want to get laid just as much as men do and for the same reasons. Sometimes they want emotional intimacy or to feel desired. Sometimes they’re bored and it’s something to do. Sometimes it’s a way of proving something to themselves or to others. And sometimes they’re just horny and want to fuck.

Accepting that women are sexual beings, just as men are, is an important part of being able to relate to them sexually and to be able to communicate with them. It’s not a negotiation or trade of value for value, it’s a collaboration; you’re both interested in something that’s fun and feels good, here’s what you both bring to the table, are you interested?

Be Non-Judgmental

A major impediment to women’s sexual interest is social. A woman who expresses herself sexually is branded as a slut or a whore; a woman who has too much sex – for suitably random values of ‘too much’ – is seen as worth less or “damaged”. All too often, if a woman is overtly sexual, society is quick to assume that there’s something wrong with her or that she’s doing damage to herself; almost every hand-wringing article about “hook-up culture” in colleges worries about how these women are ruining their future potential. Strippers and escorts, so goes the common assumption, are only doing their job because “daddy touched them” or they have unspecified “issues”.  Amanda Knox’s sex life (**Gasp** she bought a vibrator! She had one night stands!) was used as “proof” that she was mentally unhinged and thus a murderess; even after her acquittal, she’s forced to justify her sexuality to the media.  Even women who simply approach men rather than waiting for men to make the first move are shamed for aggressively pursuing what they want.

One of the sexiest aspects of a modern man is someone who can accept a woman as she is without judgement. It’s fine for her to be the aggressor; it feels good to be desired. Whether she likes to be overtly sexy or not doesn’t speak to the quality of her character, nor does it imply anything other than “she likes to feel sexy”. It doesn’t matter if she’s had one partner or many; it’s only important that she’s into you.

Fight Back Against Rape Culture

I’m a big believer in enlightened self-interest. It’s good to do the right thing just because it’s right… but sometimes it’s worth noting that doing the right thing is good for you as well.  Case in point: Want to get laid more? One of the key reasons why women aren’t as receptive to casual sex as men are is because of the risk to their physical safety. Part of the solution then, is to help build a world where women can feel safe. When harassment is brushed off as “he’s paying you a compliment” or “boys will be boys”, when a rape victim is almost always automatically blamed for her own assault and someone drinking, hanging around with men or is dressed provocatively is seen as “asking for it”, we’re fighting against our own interests. The tolerance, acceptance and even normalization of rape and rape culture all contributes to a world where women are in danger just by virtue of being women. Speaking up when someone is being harassed, calling out rape jokes and bad behavior, supporting women even in the face of being dismissed as a “white knight”, even something as simple as practicing and encouraging enthusiastic consent are all ways of pushing back against rape culture.

Be An Ally

Yes, I’m advocating being a feminist ally because it’ll help you get laid. Remember what I said about enlightened self-interest? It applies just as much here.

Guys get caught up in the myths of feminism and the idea that it’s about taking something away from men – as though privilege is a zero-sum game. Feminism isn’t about hating men or putting men into a submissive role or taking over the world. It is – as the famous quote goes – about “the radical idea that women are people too” and treating them accordingly… and that helps men as well.

There’s a phrase in feminism: “The Patriarchy hurts everyone.”  Every time a man laments that women won’t make the first move, he is lamenting the gender roles that the patriarchal system enforces. Every time he wonders why women aren’t as interested in sex as men are, he’s staring down at behavior enforced by the entrenched structure. Every time a guy is given shit for acting queer, called a fag or is told he’s being a little bitch, he’s being punished for acting outside of the strict definition of “MAN”.

These are all things that feminism is trying to change. Fighting back against the “traditional” definitions and restrictions of gendered behavior frees women and men.

And it helps both men and women sexually. One of the most important victories won by feminism was the right for women to control their reproduction. The introduction of hormonal birth control was a critical factor of the Sexual revolution; when women were able to have sex without the risk of pregnancy, it opened up the world to them. Not only were they able to embrace education and careers without concern about their lives being interrupted by pregnancy, but it also enabled them to pursue relationships – casual and otherwise – with a freedom that they didn’t have before. The conservative push to roll back all of those hard-won victories will directly affect men just as much as women. 

The adage that a rising tide lifts all boats applies to equality as much as it does to finance. Helping work towards equality and social change is in your own best interest.

And besides: allies are sexy as hell.

Equality feels goood.

Equality feels good.

  1. And thus the first opinion opener was created, showing that this trope is, in fact, older than dirt. []
  2. There’s that word again []

  • craniest

    if you want to have a good example of male privilege with regard to women's medical issues, I give you the word INTROITUS. It is a descriptor for a vagina. Note the prefix INTRO, as in, entrance. Now, to a woman, whose body it is, that part of the body is an EXIT: menses, babies, whatnot. There is only one biological reason for it to be an INTRO and guess what that would be. Guess. Guess guess guess. You'll never guess.

    Aw you guessed. The penis. Belonging to an entity outside the woman's body, not a part of it, someone else's body part.

    Even in medical terms, the vagina is defined, in official medical jargon LATIN, as something to go INTO and not something from which things come out.

    Some will argue (and they will) that "it doesn't mean INTO it means more like entrance or beginning, between the outside and the inside" to which one might wonder, if that's the case, why isn't the anus also an introitus, being the gap between the outside and the rectum?


    Hold your cards, I think I hear a "bingo"

    • Chris

      Vagina is itself latin for "sheath", so I think it just brings us back to the first point: it's (sadly) a deeply embedded societal outlook.

    • Eusthenopteron

      It’s almost as if it were an orifice designed to be penetrated, and what that comes out of it is directly related to that function in one way or another…

      • eselle28

        Or it's designed to be expelled from and as a minor portion of that process is also penetrated. It only makes sense the way you formulate it because you're thinking about the first step of piv sex, not about the ultimate product of the little human.

        Really, the talk of entrances and exits altogether is coming from the standpoint of an outsider, and probably a male one. As someone who possesses both a vagina and several other orifices, I think of them as things I expel from or insert things into (no need for an entrance, since I'm already inside my body). Others are for both purposes, and I kind of try to leave my ear canals alone.

    • Bob

      Why would anybody thumbs up this comment?

      Ok, it was fun to read. And yes, interesting. But are you really arguing "male priviledge" in the present based on the continued use of a language that is over 2000 years old?

      2000 years ago, the POV was male written. Whooptie-do. 200 years ago, your decision to write in English would have told me something about your nationality. But it doesn't now.

      So GTFO.

      • Dr_NerdLove

        You first.

    • guest

      so what Orwellian Newspeak term would you prefer?

    • Henrique Rodrigues

      Interesting, good point!

  • Jess

    Just finished reading The Mistress by Tiffany Reisz one of the best quotes of the book, and there were many was the young girl talking about the advice her aunt gave her regarding sex. She said the girl shouldn’t have sex unless she wanted to, and it was for a good reason. When asked what the good reason was, the girl answered, “Because I want to.”

    How enlightening, and yet women as old as grandmothers are being carded at bookstores to socially shame them for wanting this book.

  • Andrew M, Farrell

    You can also support the work of organizations like RAINN (, and if you are near Boston, the BARCC (

  • LeeEsq

    There is great cartoon about the response to Kinsey’s book about female sexuity. It depicts the book as a time bomb and Kinsey as trying to run away before his bomb goes off. It falls under its funny but its true category.

  • CmE

    Ummm…kind of? I mean yes, "be non-judgmental and accepting of the depth of female sexuality" etc is good advice, but the reason to do so is because these things are right in and of themselves, not because they will get you laid more (a very dubious proposition at best). Enlightened self-interest shouldn't really come into it. This is exactly the same advice I see PUAs give quite a bit – "make the right non-judgmental noises, it helps to get you laid" (never mind your real opinions).

    It's the 21st century and a very decent percentage of women have a decent amount of sex. If a woman doesn't want to have sex with you, it's probably easier to assume that she's just isn't attracted to you in that way, not that she's too frightened or slut-shamed or whatever. Moreover, if she does want to fuck you but won't because patriarchy, then do you really want to have sex with her (or worse, have a relationship?) You can't make that sex-negativity go away with your magical man-powers of penis. I'd just recommend finding a woman who is cheerfully DTF. They aren't exactly scarce on the ground.

    The best way to get laid is just by being an attractive man. All the other stuff is good and ethical, but I wouldn't conflate it with getting laid. It's not necessary. That way lies misery.

    • I think there's a big difference between, for example, "Be a feminist ally because then women are morally obligated to have sex with you, personally" and "Be a feminist ally because that is one tiny step toward making the world a place where women can be more honest about their sexual desires, which is good for anyone who is a woman or likes having sex with them."

      Speaking for myself, I also definitely look for evidence that people's opinions go beyond just noises. It's actually surprisingly hard to keep up a consistent sham about your attitudes toward gender and sexuality.

      Finally … "does want to fuck you but won't because patriarchy" is a strange framing. The point is that what we "want" is partly socially constructed, and partly based on the perceived risks and benefits of putting it into action. If we change those things, we change both what people actually want and what they're willing to do about it.

      • CmE

        No one does a cost/benefit analysis of desire. That's not how desire works. Sure, people do cost/benefit analyses of acting on their desires, but not on the desire itself. No woman is going to be more attracted to any individual man because she's freer to have more sex. If in this modern-day world you are having problems getting laid it's most likely because the women in your life don't find you attractive.

        As for the social construction of desire, I'm skeptical. Desire, lust…these are chemical clicks in our brains, in our nervous systems, our genitals, our basic biology.

        I dislike the utilitarian framing of basic feminism, also. It's a question of rights and fundamental ethics, not utility.

        Going back to the original article, it amused me that the attack on evo-psych was spearheaded by – none other than new and different evo-psych!

        • Jess

          The evidence suggesting that women either actively repress or fail to recognize their own desire is compelling though.

          I get the argument that with less players in the game because we’re benched by a pervasive head-trip, the less game.

          And it rings true to my experience. There were guys I would have pursued that I didn’t because of the fear of social backlash.

          The social backlash really does need to end from both men and women.

        • Desire is BOTH biological AND socially constructed. And there's a complicated feedback cycle between them that goes both ways. (Hello, neuroplasticity!) Some of it is accessible to our conscious minds (and therefore can be analyzed using, say, cost/benefit analysis) and much of it is not. So call me skeptical of your ideas about how desire works – doubly so because your framing implies that desire is beyond analysis.

          I don't see why ethics and utility have to be opposed. "Here is a better world, and here is why you will be happier in it."

          • CmE

            What does neuroplasticity have to do with anything here?

            Biological desire is evidently not beyond analysis. There are hundreds upon hundreds of studies doing precisely that analysis (on cues such as height, musculature, waist/hip ratios, breast size, etc). I agree that socialisation must play some role in attraction, particularly in the formulation of very specific cues that in specific societies signal fertility, youth, status (etc), but not in others – but clearly desire must be biologically constructed to some very very large percentage, otherwise homosexuality would have evaporated years ago in all Judaeo-Christian societies.

            Re ethics and utility, that "enlightened self-interest" framing of "support a better world because it will get you laid more" is what squicks me out some, in many ways.

          • I bring it up because it's a mechanism for how culture can affect biology. I'm with Evelyn Fox Keller when she says "it's all 100% nature AND 100% nurture!"

            I see why you're getting squicked, but I think people start to get to broader notions of justice through concrete ideas of what a better world might look like. Sometimes that means thinking concretely about what it would mean for them.

            You're right, though, that there's something awful and creepy about trying to control outcomes through justice. So, I'm fine with saying, "In a more sexually fair world, the odds of you finding the person who thinks you are hot go way up." I'm skeeved by, "I'm only going to support a more sexually fair world because I think I, personally, will get laid." Does that make sense?

          • '"it's all 100% nature AND 100% nurture!"
            Ridiculous, it cannot be both.
            WIthout nature, there's nothing to nurture.

          • eris523

            I get why it makes you uncomfortable. It has a lot in common with things that squick me out, too. However, I see an important distinction between stating it on a personal "Read these lines convincingly and you, GeorgeFredMikeSteve, will get laid tonight!" and a broader (chronologically and ideologically) "Help make these changes in the world and the world will become one in which more women, statistically, may be willing to have more sex, statistically. This can only improve your odds if true. If not, you've done something ethically sound anyway."

            I think if feminists (including myself) are willing to respond to men's complaints about gender issues by pointing out how gendered/male issues are interlinked with and perpetuated/exacerbated by gendered/female issues, then it's not unreasonable to follow that claim to the conclusion that a willingness to help address women's issues will have positive effects on the lives of men as well.

            On an individual "you will be owed your own personal woman for your assistance in our endeavours" level, yes, that's the same kind of vile possessive/entitlement attitude that this site so often decries. On a sociological "if we change the environment that causes these barriers to women feeling comfortable admitting to wanting sex and then having it, women will probably have more sex, and some of it will be with men, and that ups the chances of men who want sex with women" level it seems not only innocuous but rational.

            The problem, of course, would lie with anyone who confused "gradually, more men are getting laid by women, so men who want to have sex with women have a theoretically increasing chance of finding someone willing, hooray!" with "I personally was promised I would be a smash hit with teh ladieez after the revolution, and this looks like a pretty post-patriarchy world to me personally now, so where is my guaranteed sexwoman? Do I get free shipping on that?" — Except that latter attitude is part of what's being critiqued already, so it seems a little unfair to place that hypothetical case in a world where everyone BUT the speaker has stopped thinking that way (or, less-simplistically, where every barrier attitude but that one is decreasing).


          • SpiltCoffee5

            When can I expect these changes to be patched into society? I really want the woman I'm owed.

          • Joy

            Perhaps I have been playing too much The Sims 3, but when I hear about new changes being patched into society, I wonder what other thing they are going to break in the process.

          • eselle28

            This means I'm going to have to reinstall all my mods, doesn't it?

          • enail

            Out of curiosity, what mods do you have installed?

          • eselle28

            I've got the mod that removes the censoring patches (it got creepy seeing them every time I got in the shower), a bunch of custom clothes and hairstyles and music, additional career tracks, and a resource mod that lets my neighbors live their lives even when I'm not going over to visit them.

            Unfortunately, I seem to have broken something else while I was installing everything. I've been typing "kaching" all day, but my bank account hasn't increased at all. 🙁

          • Max

            You could also look at it in the reverse, by framing it as "If you don't support this, you are being unethical AND you are contributing to a world where it is harder for you to get laid. So why would you not support this?"

        • That's not true. I absolutely do a cost/benefit which effects my attractiveness to guys. For example, when I am in a monogamous relationship, it is literally like I have turned the tap of my desire for other men off. I just…. don't see other guys as attractive, because my cost/benefit analysis has decided against cheating, and so that follows through in my thoughts, behavior, and feelings.

          I might just be weird in this particular way…. for example, I can easily stop a crush in its tracks by reminding myself that the guy doesn't like me, which severely lessens my attraction to them until good-bye crush. But I sincerely doubt I am alone in my sex drive being more directly effected by how "free" I am to express it.

        • Greenie

          “No woman is going to be more attracted to any individual man because she’s freer to have more sex.”

          Sorry, dude. As a poly girl, I can think someone is pretty but the moment they slut-shame anyone (not just me) my uterus shrivels. I would definitely have more sex if more guys were ok with me expressing my desire for people through fucking them

          Likewise interest evaporates when some guy (or girl, I swing both ways) mansplains to others how I don’t exist in some way or another (as a bi, kinky, poly girl who can enjoy casual sex and also has suuuper loooooongterm relationships and works in trades, this happens to me A LOT so you have plenty of company).

    • LeeEsq

      This is a very apt criticism of this post. DNL is right that women should have a right to be free to explore their sexuality. However, men who are true and genuine supporters of this are not necessarily going to get sex. We all can problem find many men who would dismiss all the above as prattle and get lots of sex. We all know men sincerely believe the above and have less than average sex lives. Right belief does not lead to good outcomes.

      • Right action, however, can lead to a better world.

        • LeeEsq

          I concede this but even in a better world where women and men are both equally free sexual; I’d still be pissed if I wasn’t getting any. I don’t think I’m alone on this.

          • Jess

            That’s fair but then women who weren’t getting any could be equally pissed about it instead of culturally browbeaten into denying that the wanted or needed it to begin with.

            We could all be pissed together in a more fair world.

          • LeeEsq

            They have every right to be pissed. I do not dispute the right of any of my fellow humans to be pissed. A lot of good has come about because people are pissed.

          • Yes, it is frustrating for all human beings not to get the sex they want.

            If you believe you are a rare or acquired taste, though, I think that women being able to express their desires more freely is especially important for you. There are two reasons why.

            First, many people only express desire for the things that are culturally acceptable. In a world where women's sexual expression is so heavily constrained, expressing desire for something non-standard is taking on extra risk. Only women with particularly high risk tolerances will do so!

            Second, if there are fewer women out there who might potentially find you attractive, barriers for women around expressing their sexuality will have a disproportionate impact on you. Suppose there are ten women who find Mr. X attractive, one who finds you attractive, and a barrier that gets in the way of 50% of women expressing their sexual desires. There's only a 1 in 1024 chance that this barrier will prevent Mr. X from finding a woman who thinks he is awesome. For you, the chance is 1 in 2.

          • My point is: there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO that will guarantee that you, personally, will find someone who thinks you are hot. Nothing! All you can do is up the odds of finding that person. One way to do that is to be more attractive. Another way is to work to change the world so that the person who thinks you are hot is more likely to say so, and be willing to act on it. Both! And!

      • Jess

        Sure, but this isn’t an article about an individual situation it’s much broader than that.

        Saying it won’t help an individual is missing the point. This is a call to level the playing field instead of filling the female side with quicksand, alligators, and angry monkeys throwing poo.

        It will be a much more fun and fair game for everyone without all that crap on one side of the field.

        • LeeEsq

          Than DNL should be honest at this point.

          • Jess

            I think you’re seeing this through your lens of wanting help for your personal situation right now. This article goes beyond that right now to a broader picture that probably won’t help you tomorrow, sorry.

            That doesn’t make the article somehow flawed because it can’t fix the problem by tomorrow.

          • LeeEsq

            I'm seeing this through the lens of DNL's dishonest and misleading opening. We had several threads on this blog about privilege, that nobody owes you sex, and the problems with PUA. As CmE, this article has some rather bad PUA material in it. The overall advise might be golden but its encassed in shit.

          • Jess

            I thought it was a fine "hook" to the article in a "turnabout is fairplay" sort of way. I think the Dr. expected some flack for the proverbial bait and smack in the head with a 2×4, but sometimes that is needed, otherwise the message doesn't get noticed or it gets dismissed.

            I'm willing to make allowances for grabbing people's attention in the blogosphere, so long as the larger point is a good one.

            Maybe in a perfect world, we wouldn't have to resort to that to get men into the conversation, but isn't that what all this is about?

          • Max

            I think the opening was more "a joke" than "deliberately misleading."

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Given how many words the Doc has spent on demolishing the PUA attitude of learning the secret cheat codes to unlock any woman's pants, I assumed it was it was tongue-in-cheek from the moment I read the title.

      • enail

        Although the title and intro are rather misleading on this, I don't think in the rest of the article he was claiming that being a genuine ally on this will lead to any given person as an individual having more sex, just saying that it would generally increase the pool of women who are enthusiastic about having sex with me.

        • enail

          …I don't actually think DNL's argument is that guys should be allies because it would mean more women want to have sex with Enail. That should read 'sex with men."

          Best Freudian slip ever? 😀

          • SpiltCoffee5

            No, that's actually what DNL meant to say. We're aiming to make massive changes to the culture of society so you and only you, enail, get more sex with women. 😛

          • enail

            I knew there was a reason I liked this site!

        • There we go, that's what I was trying to say.

          • enail

            So you support DNL's point, that it's important to effect societal change so that more women will want to have sex with me? 😛

          • No, no, it's important to change society so that more women will want to have sex with ME!

          • SpiltCoffee5
      • eselle28

        This is absolutely true. However, this can be said about anything else related to dating as well. There are men who are good conversationalists, or who have interesting hobbies, or socialize with lots of women who have less than average sex lives. That doesn't mean that there aren't some other men whose sex lives suffer in part because they can't make small talk, or they're boring, or they only hang out with other men and barely know any women.

        There are, in fact, some guys who are getting less sex than they want or who are only able to have sex in long term relationships because they have crappy attitudes about sex. It's not everyone's problem, but it's some people's problem.

      • StarlightArcher

        But complete altruism is incredibly rare in people, especially throughout the past fifty odd years. Our culture rewards varying degrees of selfishness (hello capitalism). So often the best way to motivate people to engage in activism, you have to present possible tangible benefits beyond the good feeling you get when you work to change the world.

    • eselle28

      I would absolutely agree that you should be sex positive because it's a good thing to be, not for its practical benefits. I'd also agree that men don't have some terrible burden to heal all the women who are dealing with negative feelings about sex. That's something people have to do by themselves. It's not like putting enough coins in the sex positive slot will earn you sex, either. Women do have to desire you as well.

      All that being said…I do think that there are some otherwise desirable guys who are getting less sex, less casual sex, or less kinky sex than they'd like because they come across as sex negative. After all, if a woman is sex positive, why on earth would she want to have sex with a guy who's going to think less of her because of it or who will try to make her feel bad about herself? There are other guys out there who have healthier attitudes about sex, and they're generally more fun to sleep with anyway. I think this becomes even more common as people get a little older and more women have sort of worked through the slut shaming and sex negativity stuff.

      Recognizing that the plural of anecdote is not data, I have a story that I think is kind of on point. I used to hang out with a group of people that consisted of about eight women and two guys. Both Guy A and Guy B were pretty attractive, more so than most women in the group. Guy B is considered more charming and is better at flirting. Of the women in the group, Guy B slept with his ex-girlfriend. Guy A slept with everyone but Guy B's ex-girlfriend. In a couple of cases, there was some dating involved, but most of them were hookups where everyone understood that a relationship wasn't desired. Guy B kind of ruefully asked how that had come to pass one night when Guy A wasn't around, and everyone kind of laughed and made vague excuses about Guy B having had a girlfriend for some of the time we knew him. But after he left, one of my friends mentioned that of course she wouldn't hook up with him, because he made judgey faces at us whenever we were out and flirting with or going home with guys. A couple of the rest of us agreed. I've known other men who've complained that all of their girlfriends got way more into kink after dating them, and I could kind of see why, because I'd be uncomfortable talking to those dudes about anything that would make me emotionally vulnerable either.

      Perhaps it's like having a rich, interesting life or being in decent physical and mental health? It's best to do those things anyway, but if someone's taking stock of why his dating life isn't going the way he wants it to, those problems might be among the reasons women are avoiding him.

      • LeeEsq

        This makes sense. At the same time, I'm really trying to struggle what sex-negative and sex-positive really mean. I consider myself sex-neutral, meaning I don't pass judgment or try not to but don't get enthusiastic about other people's sex lives nor do I really care to hear about them. I do admit to rolling my eyes about certain things but thats more about exasperation and bewilderment with a dash of jealousy than judgment.

        • eselle28

          It's not necessary to be enthusiastic about other people having sex or to disregard your own boundaries about hearing about others' personal lives to be sex positive. You can be sort of indifferent to your buddy who likes to go pick up women, and tell the married couple you're having dinner with that their hour-long discussion of their sex toys is beyond your comfort zone or just getting boring.

          The men I'm thinking of aren't necessarily guys who are laughing at raunchy jokes or hanging on every word when someone who overshares, but they also don't express any negative feelings toward women who are sexually active or who have casual sex. If they have sex with a woman friend, they're fairly relaxed about the situation and don't treat her any differently afterwards. Same thing if the woman friend doesn't have sex with them, but instead with some other guy they know. If they're dating a woman who's a potential girlfriend, it's not that big of deal to if they have sex on the first date or the fourth (or, if it is, they don't pursue sex on the first date because it's not something they're comfortable with). They come across as open and accepting of other people's needs and desires and don't seem like they'd make a "yuck" face if a girlfriend expressed something very personal, even if they're not encouraging casual acquaintances to share handcuff tips.

          It sort of depends on the situation (and I am kind of curious whether you're thinking of people who are being super inappropriate or of something that's fairly commonplace but annoys you particularly), but if you're rolling your eyes in exasperation and bewilderment and jealousy, it's possible that may come off as sex negative to some people.

          • LeeEsq

            I'd say its probably the latter, something that's fairly commonplace but annoys me in particular. People exchanging sex stories, even if they are a bunch of lies, kind of excludes me from the conversation since my experience is practically zilch. My options are to get up and leave, which is kind of weird at social events, or sit silently endure. Most people are probably thinking that I'm just the quiet and reserved type rather than somebody with no sex life but I hate being unable to participate in the conversation for most of the evening. I'm also jealous and envious, I certainly never had those experiences. Thats my exasperation and jealousy. My bewilderment is that people like chest-thumping about sex so much. Its just as vulgar as bragging about money.

          • eselle28

            If the stories are relatively harmless and are being told back and forth among people who you otherwise like and respect, I think it might be worthwhile to try to think of them a bit differently. They're probably not being told to bully less experienced people, and there's a good chance they're not bragging either. Maybe think about it as a bunch of lawyers talking back and forth about their professional careers despite the fact that one of their peers is kind of floundering trying to find a job or the right direction, or a bunch of upper-middle class kids talking about studying abroad and backpacking in Europe when one of the people present grew up without those opportunities and has never been able to afford to take an international vacation.

            That doesn't necessarily mean you have to let people stand around all night being bored. You might want to experiment with trying to lead the conversation, with changing topics gracefully, or with throwing an occasional joke in. But I would say that standing around being exasperated and jealous and thinking people are being vulgar might look to an outsider like being judgmental and disapproving, which may affect people's view of you as a potential future sex partner or as a potential partner for friends. Finding a different way to navigate these difficult situations might help alleviate this problem of other people not seeing you as a sexual person.

          • LillyAnn

            Not to be too preseumptous, but perhaps that's part of your problem? Equating sex and money?

            I could be super cynical and say that both are forms of power if used for evil, but sex and money really shouldn't be on the same playing field in your mind.

          • LeeEsq

            Sex and money are both dirty if you do them right. ;).

    • Gentleman Horndog

      Branch Rickey didn't sign Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers because he wanted to strike a blow for social justice and end a cruel and indefensible policy of discrimination; he did it because he wanted to win baseball games. It worked. He apparently wasn't OPPOSED to the social justice aspect of what he was doing, otherwise he wouldn't have done it. But the selfishness of his goal did nothing to dampen the importance of what he started.

      Embracing feminism to get laid is not a noble motivation. But that doesn't mean it won't work; I've known feminist women with high libidos.

      If the lure of more sexual opportunities causes more guys to embrace feminism — GENUINELY embrace it, not merely parrot the rhetoric but internalize the core principles, question entrenched gender roles, see the realities of rape culture and patriarchy and how they fuck up damn near everything — I'm happy to put that in the "Win" column.

      • eselle28

        I'll vote for that. I don't think anyone wants a bunch of guys running around reciting rhetoric and behaving hypocritically.

        But I'm not going to object if guys who are motivated a bit by their sex drives can instead take from these discussions something along these lines: "I wonder if some of the ways I'm currently thinking about sex and women are getting in between me and the sex life I'd like to have. Maybe I should do a little more reading about this."

        • Astral

          "I don't think anyone wants a bunch of guys running around reciting rhetoric and behaving hypocritically."

          Ugh. This. I've met them. I was like "Yay, openminded people!" Then, they showed what they really thought.

        • Guest

          I'll vote for that. I don't think anyone wants a bunch of guys running around reciting rhetoric and behaving hypocritically.

          But if you take into account people comparing their unedited footage to others' highlight reel, then men will see all the other men acting respectfully towards women, and will then act accordingly themselves. Maybe…

    • Meyer N Gaines

      Incidentally, the guys I know who get the most sex claim to treat women as glorified semen receptacles. I'm not sure how much of it is true and how much of it is random bravado and posturing, but there's obviously a part of it that's true, or these men would not be saying such things.

      • Gentleman Horndog

        I don't think anybody's going to dispute that if you just want raw quantity, sticking your dick into as many other people as possible, then yeah, dehumanizing douchebaggery is likely the way to go.

        But don't play that game. Quantity is not quality. Let go of the numbers game, and you can have an immensely varied (if that's what you're gunning for) and satisfying sex life that leaves your partners feeling treated well. Hell, for me, it's much MORE satisfying this way. If I'm going to treat my partners as ambulatory masturbation aids, why not just stay home and masturbate?

      • Astral

        Actually, the culture described by DNL can explain this phenomena. When there are only two options for categorizing women: Madonna or Whore, and men who want to be genuinely decent (many but certainly not all of whom also find long-term love relationships more fulfilling than casual sex) assume this means treating women they are attracted to like Madonnas. Many women find the Madonna box unappealing and unrealistic for a number of reasons. Many of these women do want to have less than forever and ever sexual relationships from time to time and are up front about this, but learn how easy it is to break a trying-to-be-decent-and loveseeking-guy-but-still-rather-traditional-guy's heart, even if they are up front in saying they just want something casual. In the Madonna/Whore system, the only other option is the Whore box. If a woman wants casual sex, there's a far smaller chance of hearts getting broken when the guys who are clearly signalling by their bravado and posturing that they are only out for NSA sex and prefer Whores to Madonnas are concerned. Emotionally, they are less of a risk when it comes to casual sex (even when they are a greater risk for safety and disrespect). So these guys can end up with more partners.

        Of course, this vastly oversimplified categorization system bears little resemblance to how desire and emotions actually work, thus the call to tear down these crappy boxes.

        • LeeEsq

          And this is why the women like bad boys/jerks/whatever you want to call them stereotype came into being. Its also why men that have a lot of sex appeal often come across as douchebags to other men. There are people who would be open to casual sex but have a difficult time getting it because they can't quite project that they want it or come across as too emotional and likely to be devastated if they won't see the person again.

  • LeeEsq

    I also think that the Puritans get a bad wrap. They were messed up a out sex and some weird ideas about theatre being bad because its a lie but they had many good qualities to. They were against all those awful entertainments that involved cruelty towards animals, favored education for girls more than anybody else at the time in the West, and believed in a more democratic government than other people in the Anglosphere. Living under the Puritans was more just than living under partying and sexual Cavaliers.

    • Thereal McCoy

      Something like a third of Puritan brides were already pregnant when they got married. Google "bundling".

      btw, *rap

    • Puritans actually get a bad rep for sex sometimes too. They were big proponents of healthy, passionate, & frequent relations between spouses, which is much more than Victorian or turn of the Century Western societies could brag. And most Puritan settlements had lofts instead of separate rooms for children and very thin walls all around. Sex was a normal, even celebrated part of Puritan life, so long as it stayed in the marriage bed. Which, imho, isn't as bad as their reputation suggests.

      • LeeEsq

        Lofts rather than separate bedrooms probably had to do more with economics. Until recently, most kids in the West probably heard their parents having sex at some point.

  • sjl

    also understand that women want sex that will feel good and make them come. so much of our cultural narrative and definition of sex centers around male erection and ejaculation with an assumption that what works for the man will work for the woman, and that female sexuality is all about response to the man and his penis, with the result that the women's orgasm is de-emphasized. Reports that less than 50% of women experience orgasm often gets a response of "oh well, I guess women are just less likely to experience orgasm" or even worse "women shouldn't expect to come every time." As a result, not only does casual sex carry more social and physical risk for women, but this attitude toward female sexual pleasure means that there is less potential reward.

    tl;dr: it's not enough to make is socially acceptable for women to want sex, we have to give equal weight to women's pleasure, and not demonize women who prioritize their pleasure.

    note: my commentary is not in response to any individual commenters on this blog, nor is it an indictment of all men, but rather to trends I've observed in the media, and a (thankfully) few personal experiences.

    • CmE

      Have you read a men's magazine recently? Every issue I've ever picked up is filled with countless "top tips to rock her world in bed and give 10,000 gushing orgasms" (or whatever). Just like Cosmo, except the other way around.

      I'd say the overwhelming message men get is that if you can't make her cum (and it most definitely is your responsibility to make it happen), you suck in bed.

      • Jess

        Those articles are laughably horrible and equal in lameness and bad advice to the Cosmo articles. Both should be ignored.

      • sjl

        Maybe we're at a cultural balance point then, because I see just as many articles that address women's difficulty reaching orgasm with the aforementioned defeatist attitude. Or, maybe it is mostly women's magazines (most of which are not feminist and are vested in the status quo so they can sell stuff) which treat female pleasure that way. I like to define good sex as that which results in orgasms for everyone involved. And I would say that it is each partner's responsibility to make orgasms happen for the other. I'm also saying that there should be no shame in a woman expecting to come during sex and to consider the act (and by extension, her partner) unsuccessful and unsatisfying if she does not.

        • Jess

          I hope we can get to a place where it’s not all about the big O. It would be awesome if we all jumped in the sack because it was a safe place we could have some fun and enjoy ourselves without all the shame and pressure.

          • CmE

            Yes, orgasm is nice and all, but there is far more to sex than orgasms. I've heard women complain quite a bit about men becoming obsessively focussed on her orgasm, to the point where the woman's own desires and wishes are just ignored and she starts to feel like the guy is on some grand quest to prove how good a lover he is.

          • sjl

            I personally really want to cum every time I have sex. Not necessarily from the PiV part though. I wonder if the women who are unhappy with their male partner's focus on orgasm could be because the focus is only on one method of attaining it. Conjecture of course, but I think a valid question.

          • Jess

            Most guys do, because if they don't, they're left uncomfortable. For most women if we "come down from the peak" without getting off, it is a gradual walk back down the mountain that isn't very uncomfortable. That doesn't mean the effort to get as far up the mountain as we could wasn't worth the walk.

            I agree on the "You must cum so I can feel like a man!" thing is a complete turnoff. It's a subtle and insidious one. It can make sex go from "fun playtime" to something ugly real quick. I'd rather have fun playtime that made me all tingly but didn't have volcanoes erupting fountains of molten lava in my quickening veins, yadda yadda yadda, but was playful and pressure free and FUN, than having a partner that took stimulation to the point of irritating trying to get the big O.

          • Jess

            That doesn't mean that it's not worth the effort, BTW, just that if it stops being fun and starts feeling like work, maybe the point of sexy funtimes has been missed.

            That goes both ways. I know there are guys who have a tough time letting go, and sex can quickly become a lesson in frustration very quickly.

          • professionallurking

            "For most women if we 'come down from the peak' without getting off, it is a gradual walk back down the mountain that isn't very uncomfortable."

            Really? Huh. I didn't realize I was unusual in this regard. Not having an orgasm from sex HURTS.

          • Jess

            I can end up feeling a little edgy or frustrated on occasion, but I've never heard of cooling down hurting from any of my friends. Girls? Is this one of those range things?

          • eselle28

            It's a bit ouchy for me, but I'm also someone who doesn't experience it very often. Maybe it's something there's a tolerance to?

          • Astral

            For me, annoying discomfort more than pain, in the cases where I'm really turned on. Similar to having a cup of coffee on an empty stomach right before trying to sleep while having an itch on my back I can't quite reach and won't go away.

          • Akai

            I've never had pain, but if I'm very close, I'll definitely be annoyed and restless. HMM I WONDER WHY NONE OF US KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT HOW OTHER WOMEN'S BODY'S WORK COULDN'T BE MORE PATRIARCHY COULD IT HMM?

          • deewheezy

            Huh. I find this fascinating! I am incapable of having an orgasm during penetration and once that phase of sex has been initiated, I can't go back and find it again. The two things give me completely different (equally phenomenal) sensations in completely different areas. Orgasm or no orgasm, doesn't really matter – I get to scream either way. (Important note: this is 100% due to the fact that my husband is a superstar and has MAD SKILLZ – if my partner sucked, it would all suck.)

            I've had a lot of sex where I intentionally made the decision to bypass orgasm completely and proceed to the final act simply because my insides were impatient and I just wanted to (Other Important Note: this is always MY decision – hubby always tries to talk me out of it by offering many naughty temptations).

            I've never experienced this discomfort/pain you speak of. I am intrigued.

          • CornedBee

            FWIW, as a guy I'm not really uncomfortable when I get close to orgasm but don't reach it. Frustrated, yes. But then, same for my girlfriend in the same situation.

            OTOH, if I ever do feel uncomfortable, or just very frustrated, a quick trip to the bathroom can solve that problem. That's an advantage most women probably don't have.

          • sjl

            I would situation as still representing a de-prioritization of the woman's pleasure, since the (only) real goal is for the guy to feel good about his skills.

      • Akai

        Shit, then why aren't more women having orgasms?

  • enail

    This is the third time this week that I've gotten Meatloaf stuck in my head. This WEEK! I think the universe is trying to send me a message, but I just don't know what!

  • sjl

    also understand that women want sex that will feel good and make them come. so much of our cultural narrative and definition of sex centers around male erection and ejaculation with an assumption that what works for the man will work for the woman, and that female sexuality is all about response to the man and his penis, with the result that the women's orgasm is de-emphasized. Reports that less than 50% of women experience orgasm often gets a response of "oh well, I guess women are just less likely to experience orgasm" or even worse "women shouldn't expect to come every time." As a result, not only does casual sex carry more social and physical risk for women, but this attitude toward female sexual pleasure means that there is less potential reward.

  • A fantastic article, Dr. Nerdlove! Accepting women as people who have natural desires shouldn't be such a revolutionary idea, but sadly, it is. I admit I clicked on this article in the self interest of getting laid more often, but what I read here is something I feel has been brewing in my head for a while and you spelled it out simply, clearly, and succinctly (that last one people may argue about). Still, outstanding, sir!

    Now talking more specifically to your "Fighting Back Against Rape Culture" section, have you heard of the Backup Ribbon Project?
    It is an idea that con goers can help each other out by getting other convention goer's backs. The idea spawned from a situation at Dragon Con where a man was harassing a woman, and I feel like the idea of this Project dovetails nicely with your call to Fight Back, especially for us nerdy/geeky types. Maybe hit these people up and help get the word out?

    Again, fantastic article!

  • LeeEsq

    Now onto the main point. I understand the philosophy behind this article and agree with most of it, although I remain dubious of the desirability of widespread polyamory for reasons I’ll remain silent on for the peace of the blog. I recognize that women are sexual creatures and they have every right to their desires, fantasies, and right to enjoy sex.

    The issue is that how do you as an individual get a woman to want to have sex with you. Part of my concern is that I don’t see myself as the type of man that woman would fantasize about. I can’t recall any woman checking me out but I’ve seen them check men out. Even on my dates, I can’t recall any looks of appraisal. How do I get a woman to desire me?

    • Jess

      As long as you don’t see yourself as someone women could desire, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like confidence, you have to see it in yourself before others see it in you.

      C’mon Lee! I’m still rooting for you. What makes you sexy?

      • LeeEsq

        When I see women check out men, the men either tend to be the pretty boy type or hunks. I am neither. I’m short, hairy, and muscular in a stocky way. Thanks to dance, I move somewhat more gracefully than a lot of people, I’m a good conversationalist, and my face isn’t bad looking. However, overall I do not see myself falling to the consensus of what women fantasize about for no strings attached sex.

        • isdzan

          Therein lies your problem. If you don’t see yourself as someone women would want to have sex with, how do you expect women to see you that way? You don’t have to think you are an Adonis, but if you don’t see and convey to others your personal sexual desirability attracting people who want to have sex with you.

          As for short and hairy. I just saw an old movie with Benicio del Toro and there was a scene in a bar where he sent this wave of sexuality. I melted and my straight guy cousin said, “I am not gay, but I’d seriously consider it for him.” Short, hairy and not conventionally attractive =/= unsexy

          • CmE

            This is a bit chicken and egg. How do I know I'm someone women want to have sex with? Because women (and men) have previously and currently expressed interest, in various ways, in having sex with me.

            I do know quite a few short stocky guys who do very well for themselves, though, so I doubt your physique is too much of an issue.

        • You are probably not noticing the women who are NOT checking out the pretty boy/hunk types, because they might not be the type of woman you yourself are attracted to/noticing. It's confirmation bias at its finest.

          There is also a certain amount of "accepted leery of certain body types." Think of how much guys who are into thicker girls get shamed for expressing their desires in any capacity. Men are, by and large, more allowed to express their desires than women, and yet certain types of female appreciation are discouraged.

          Now, consider that women are ALREADY shamed for expressing desire/appreciation. Pretty boys/hunks are considered the safe and acceptable body type to be into. Is it just possible that women aren't checking out the short/husky guys because 1) they already get enough shame for visually checking guys out and 2) would get double shame for not doing it to "acceptable" body types?

        • vessna

          You're actually talking about two different things. Women do not necessarily sleep with the men that they fantasize about. As we've discussed before on the blog and forums, women do have types and you might see women checking these men out. But you should also notice the men that they are actually with. I'm sure that these men run the gamut in terms of looks.

          I can use myself as an example here. I definitely have a type (tall, slim, slightly nerdy, a little bit angsty) but the guy I've been seeing lately is none of these things. You would never have seen me checking him out on the street but he is a wonderful guy and I think he's really cute.

        • Jess

          Let me tell you a story. One of the hottest women I have ever met was my college roommate. She OOOOOZZED her fun and decadent sexuality like it was a dress she could put on and flaunt. It hung around her like perfume, and my lord that girl had the most beautiful breasts I've ever seen. I was tempted by her, and I don't swing that way generally.

          She married the shortest hairiest dude I've ever seen, and at one point, I was tempted by him too. He was maybe 5'2 in good shoes and his chest was a carpet, back arms, yeah, everywhere. IT DIDN'T MATTER. He had a natural sense of himself and fantastic rhythm. I would have dated him in a heartbeat and I had at least four inches on him, my roommate had about two.

          He was comfortable with who he was and knew what he brought to the table. Consequently, he was sexy. Oh, he also had really thick glasses. The guy was still smoking hot. Smoking, smoking hot.

          You say you're short. Not a dealbreaker for me or lots of women so long as the gap isn't extremely awkward somehow. I'd be just as sketch about a big height gap the other way and would probably never date a basketball player unless he was really charming. Good news for you? "Short" in man height is "average" in female height, and being able to stand and look a guy in the eye can be totally sexy. Or you can do what my brother did and find a nice petite girl. They just fit.

          Next, muscular in a stocky way? Are you kidding? Totally hot. If you have nice meaty shoulders and power in your back, hot hot hot.

          As far as hairy? The only part of hairy that seems to be a prevalent preference is for a clear back. The good news is, there's something you can do about that, wax or lasers can do wonder, you just need to embrace your inner masochist a little. It is invigorating. Or you can choose to decide that your personal hotness is greater than the sum of your back hairs and you know what? There are women out there who will be on board. The rest you don't need to sweat about at all.

          A guy who can dance is ALWAYS hot.

          My roommate's husband was hanging out with us once and confessed that he didn't understand women at all. He said he could never be attracted to a man because they are all (he used the word "we") "Lumpy and hairy"

          For the next hour my roommate and I had a little love of the male body gush fest, ignoring him and his incredulity completely, waxing poetic about the beauty of lumpy and hairy.

          We are not alone.

          It's your attitude man. It's all in your head. Not every woman will be attracted to you, but I guarantee you, there are ones out there who are. You just can't see them because you're blinded by your own perception of what we "should" want.

          • Weeelllll, okay, while I am all for building confidence and self-love and all that feel-good advice…. I don't think it is advisable to suggest that the only reason someone is unattractive is because of a person's own confidence/perspective.

            There ARE some things in our culture that are marked with a big ol' "Ugly" label. There are body types and shapes and colors that are not pleasing to the eye. There are combinations of these things that only .02% of a population finds attractive, and no amount of confidence/self-esteem/self-love is necessarily going to change that.

            I've always thought of confidence like an addition to an existing stat. So, a sense of confidence or self-esteem could add +2 to your attractiveness. If you're a 5, congrats! You're not a 7! But if you rolled a 1 starting out with…. well, even with a +2 from confidence, your attractiveness is still a 3, which is still going to be a hard sell.

            I just think saying "Be confident, and people will find you attractive!" is a little simplistic and, in practice, a tad dishonest.

          • Jess

            And at the same time, how many people found the Phantom of the Opera sexy? My point is that nearly any physical shortcoming can be overlooked. Not all, I'll grant you that. It is really really really hard for people with say, Cerebral Palsy to make themselves attractive to the general population. And yet, sometimes even they find love.

            My point is that you can go one of two roads. You can either focus on the things that you feel take you out of the game so that your vision of the larger picture is like an ostrich staring at a single pebble on the ground and wondering why the world is so small, or you can lift your head and see EVERYTHING around you, including the reality that what you perceive as such a horrible flaw may not be the problem at all, there may be something else at work.

            I am not a ten. I'm not even close. I have some strange facial features, my nose and my chin especially I don't like. I've also got some junk in the trunk, but I'm sexier today than I have ever been in my life, and lately I've had people compare me to a particular actress who is nothing to sneeze at. I am not as pretty as she is, but what I project outward is making people make that connection.

            I know I have my visual flaws. So what? I don't care. I'm me, I love me. I have fun. I smile. I make the people around me feel good, and guess what? They're attracted to that in spite of my nose, in spite of my chin, and sometimes I think that junk in the trunk is really a bonus.

            Of everyone on the forum, both you and Lee are caught in these mental cycles of negativity. If you could break them, I'm not sure if you'll be physically "better" but you both sure as heck would be carrying a lot less weight.

          • Except I don't totally buy the whole "oh it's all your mental attitude/negativity/thought pattern." There have been plenty of times I WASN'T negative or down on myself, and yet gotten taken down for how unattractive I am.

            The point is, saying it's confidence/self-esteem/"negativity" is extremely over-simplification. Your Phantom of the Opera example is actually pretty fitting, because while he's a fantastic tragic figure (which is what people find appealing), that only works in literature…. In real life, most people would find him extremely creepy and off-putting.

          • Dr_NerdLove

            I imagine that whole “murders a bunch of people” doesn't help either.

          • I think CleoLinda put it best, that she has no desire for a fixer-upper in real life (someone who needs a Manic Pixie Dream Girl to come along and change their life), but she's a sucker for the trope in literature and movies. I absolutely have shades of this myself, and chatting with other women, it seems they do as well…. It's why I get a little head-cocky whenever people insist women must love to be dominated because so many women love the 50 Shades of Grey series. Fantasy does not necessarily equal real life desires.

          • hobbesian

            well at the risk of godwinning the comments section.. Geli did commit suicide over Adolf, and Eva tried, twice. So clearly being a mass murdering psychopath is not directly detrimental to getting women..

          • Akai

            I realize this isn't really the point, but there's a lot of difference in how a successful dictator is perceived and how a serial killer is perceived.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Yes, but there's a hell of a difference between confidence being the only thing that matters and confidence not mattering at all.

            I had pretty much the exact same body before and after I started getting my depression treated. Women became vastly more interested in me when all of a sudden I was no longer consumed with self-loathing, anxiety, and frustration. I'm quite certain there was a cause-effect relationship at play.

            Jess sounds like immense fun to date. If I had a choice between dating Jess and a woman with a "perfect" body and conspicuously awful self-esteem, I'm choosing Jess every time.

          • Sure, but you're comparing an extreme with an average there. I am supposing Jess is also, while not "perfect" attractive, at least fairly pleasing to look at. The only way your comparison would work is if you were comparing a 10-looks/1-personality woman with a 1-looks/10 personality woman.

            I'm not saying confidence doesn't matter at all, but having confidence does not suddenly mean the world is your oyster. The difference between the guys I can get when I'm "negative" and the guys I can get when I'm "confident" is a margin of about 1%…. not meaningless, but not the HUGE DEAL everyone makes.

            Now I'm not saying that's the same for everyone. It seems there are people who slap on some confidence, and suddenly go from a 2 to an 8. But it isn't a rule that applies universally to everyone, and that's why I think it's over simplistic, and would really, really like it to go away as such general advice.

          • Jess

            There's the guys you can get when you're negative, then the guys you can get when you are optimistic and positive as a person. Confidence as optimism are not the same thing.

            Saying "Hey, I'm not perfect but life is good and I'm going to enjoy whatever it brings" is optimistic.

            How often do you look at yourself and decide to only think about the things you like and enjoy?

          • Jess

            Aw, thanks, GH, that's sweet. 🙂

          • Jess

            You have also admitted yourself that you were hanging out with some very toxic people. I don't think you should still cling to that as a universal truth. I've seen your facebook pictures, you look plenty fine enough for people not to run away screaming. So what is holding you back from focusing on your best qualities instead of your worst ones?

            It's not a matter of attitude magically fixing all the things you aren't happy about with your body, but why invest in giving your valuable energy into FEEDING that monster? It's so much better to take your mental energy and feed it into the things you actually love about yourself. There has to be something. And if there isn't something, then that really is a product of a bad mental space because everyone, even Steve Buscemi has attractive qualities.

            As for the Phantom of the Opera, he was totally hot as the dark mysterious/magical man with the angelic voice. He loses people when with the whole murder because I'm ticked and want to manipulate becomes his thing.

          • it isn't feeding the monster. That isn't the point. The point is that there are things in the world/society defined as "good" and "attractive," and not everyone has those, or has an abundance of those…. and no amount of "focusing" on them is going to suddenly, magically, make them attractive to other people.

            Saying that self-esteem/confidence automatically leads to other people seeing as attractive is conflating two different, if tenuously linked, things. Self-esteem and confidence are about inner self, how you view yourself. That does not necessarily have any correlation to how OTHER people see you.

            To steal a Tina Fey joke," I could call myself the world's tallest man, see how that goes." She may, inwardly, totally believe she is the world's tallest man…. but outwardly, people still do not recognize her as much.

            Likewise, you can totally see value in yourself and see yourself as attractive, but it doesn't automatically lead that OTHER people will. Attraction is a hell of a lot more complicated than that, and I think it's a disservice to water it down to such a simplistic claim.

          • Jess

            Sure, your attitude can't force people to suddenly think your nose is beautiful, but I can guarantee a negative attitude can make you a downer to be around. And when people don't enjoy being around you in general, how will you ever get close enough to them to discover that they think your thick eyelashes frame your eyes in a pretty way, or that your taste in earrings is sexy because of the way they brush against your neck, or that they find the dusting of freckles across your nose adorable, or that they're fascinated with the way you move your hands.

            If you're fun, positive and open to the possibility that something about you might just be attractive, then you will have more people who want to be around you and stay around you, unless being negative helps you fit in with a group of negative people, and then you spend all your time with the negative people bemoaning everything in life until you think that there's nothing left that is good.

            But there's good all around. Hell, a handful of gummi bears is enough to let me enjoy life for a moment and smile.

            How nice are you to yourself? Are your thoughts a friend, or a bully?

            If you look in the mirror and say "Huh, you know what? My hair parted just right today and my skin looks good this morning," you're going to go through your day with a much different perspective than if you wake up look at the mirror and think "I have to lose ten pounds and the dark circles under my eyes look like crap."

            I don't care if the only thing you've got is that you think your ears are well-proportioned. Thinking the one good thought about your ears is better for you than thinking 100 terrible thoughts about yourself.

          • Maybe you're just easier to please than I am, because no, thinking my hair parted correctly does not enhance my day. At the best of times, it enhances my day for like…. 10 seconds, and then something else shitty encroaches into my space, and now I am forced to think about that.

            Positivism is easy if you have lots of things to be positive about, or can easily cheer yourself up. But if I have only one good thing stacked up against 100 bad things, I'm going to have to turn into an obsessive-compulsive to CONSTANTLY focus on that one thing in a vain attempt to maybe scrape by.

          • Jess

            But this is exactly what I mean. Seeing the good around you and in you is a mental exercise. It is something that can be practiced and controlled. This is what I mean by feeding your negative energy instead of your positive energy. You can choose to let go of the thoughts that make you miserable.

            Some people are unwilling to let go of their negative thoughts for various reasons. What you need to discover is why you are so absolutely invested in clinging to them. When you can figure out why you cling to bad thoughts you can start to unravel that issue and let them go, filling the space with things you love and enjoy.

            In my life I have walked through the fires of personal hell. I have made it to the other side because I have control of my head-space. Like they say in riding horses, get control of the head, and the rest will follow.

          • Unless there IS no good around you. Unless there AREN'T more positive things than negative things. I think focusing on 2 positive things, when there are 200 negative things, is a huge deterrent to actually living well.

            There is a girl at work who was voted, by our peers, as "always likely to brighten your day!" And it's true, she is very upbeat and sunny. She is also lazy (uses her cheery nature to manipulate people into doing things for her), rather short-sighted (ignores and writes off constructive criticism) and is like nails on a chalk board to me. But she is SO insistent on everyone liking her and being the most popular, positive person she will not leave me alone.

            I am not invested in negative thoughts. I am invested in honesty and truth. I frankly think people shouldn't be focusing on EITHER, as both are extremes, but be able to say "there are these 2 good things, and 200 bad things" and take both sides into account. And even in extremes, I'd rather hang out with the overly-negative people over the overly-positive people any time. At least the overly-negative people don't make you feel like you have a mental disease when you're having a bad day ("Well you just need to look on the bright side!")

          • Max

            " I am invested in honesty and truth."

            Look, I know all too well the feeling of "if I'm optimistic, I'm just deluding myself." The fact is, if you you are relentlessly negative, YOU ARE STILL DELUDING YOURSELF.

            From the little I know about you from these comments, you have an okay job, live in a neat city, are smart and reasonably attractive. You have it pretty great. You just need to allow yourself to believe that. Not so people will like you more, but for your own personal well-being.

          • You are deluding yourself if you focus only on the negative, yes. But recognizing the negative, if there is only/overwhelming negative, is not delusion.

            I have a job I am constantly terrified of being fired of, that I get constant feedback from that I suck, where I am extremely unpopular and in a cliche environment. I live in a city where I don't fit in, and can't afford an apartment where I could even have a dog. I am not smart (I am of average intelligence), and my attractiveness is highly called into question, since guys won't touch me with a ten foot pole.

            Is that having it pretty great?

          • Max

            Exhibit A of you being relentlessly negative: The above comment. How about this:

            You have a steady well-paying job which affords you the ability to pursue things you like to do(I assume you can't see the future, so you have no reason to believe you will be fired). You can afford an apartment in a city. You are resourceful enough to work towards the goal of being able to own a bigger apartment. You are smart (have you seen "average intelligence?" It's not pretty). Your attractiveness is validated on this site nearly every day.

            Which one of us is more correct? The answer is neither; we are both equally correct. The only difference is that I put a positive spin on the facts, and you put a negative spin on them.

            Positivity and confidence will not guarantee you a boyfriend. Negativity and constant self-depreciation will almost certainly guarantee you a difficult time finding a boyfriend.

          • No, I don't live in the cities…. I live in the suburb, in the cheapest apartment I could find. I DON'T have money to pursue the things I want without a lot of hard work and scraping. I am no more or less resourceful than pretty much every other single person going back to school later in life (which is pretty much everyone unless they were smart enough to get it right the first time around.) And yes, I have seen average intelligence… that's why I say I have average intelligence.

            As far as validating my attractiveness on this site, that has far less to do with actual truth, and far more with people just wanting me to shut the hell up.

            This is what drives me crazy about "positivity." You have to blatantly ignore a whole bunch of factors to put a positive spin on things.

          • enail

            Hey Marty, I know it's frustrating having people invalidating your perception of yourself, but do you think maybe you could try and avoid invalidating other peoples' perceptions of you in this discussion?

            Since I do sincerely think you're smart and cute, it's hard not to jump in and argue when you say anyone who says that is lying or wrong, just like it's hard for you to not want to argue when people say you're wrong about your opinions of yourself.

          • I am sorry for invalidating people's opinions. It is just so irritating to be told that because other people see these things (whom don't know me in real life), and I don't, then I am automatically "negative."

            Other people have a different opinion of me, that's fine, but USING that opinion to slap a label on me that isn't strictly backed up by evidence is a huge pet-peeve of mine.

          • enail

            Fair enough. Thanks!

          • Marty, I checked out your Facebook pictures, and you're plenty attractive. Also talented: I sew, and am in a position to notice your sewing. As for being of 'average" intelligence: sorry, the average person can't spell half the words they try to use (I say "try" because I've seen average grammar and usage, too: I've graded papers for a living, including college-senior level).

            Seriously, I don't want to tell you your feelings are wrong: I've been discouraged myself. But I also think that your unhappy feelings have to be affecting your other perceptions and behavior, and those of others you meet, in an un-useful way.

            Yes, you may also have real traits that are putting people off somehow: I can't know about that. (That's a place where you can do some reality-checking with your good friends: if you ask, you may get needed feedback.)

            Rather than blather on about positive thinking or whatever, I'm going to suggest that you read the Tao Te Ching (I like the Stephen Mitchell rendition) and/or Epictetus's Enchiridion (Sharon Lebell has done a rendition that does the spirit of Epictetus well, without the necessity that the reader be versed in ancient Roman history and culture). These are not preachy New Age stuff–and they're indirect. But I suspect that, in the long run, you'll find them worthwhile on a practical personal level as well as on a philosophical one.

            Sorry to run on so long here, but you clearly have a lot to offer, and can be more successful in the dating arena if it is truly your Will.

            Blessed Be.

            End of ramble.

          • trixnix

            Look at how con men work. If they don't look the part on the outside then the con will fail. If they do not really get into character internally and believe in the role they are playing, then someone is going to smell a rat and the police are going to turn up. Anyone whose good at persuasion knows they need to use both their inner and outer selves to influence how other people see and react to them.

            You're acting as if other people always see the truth of a person. They don't. Because of my shyness and anxiety and other stuff, there are people I meet who are surprised to learn I've gone street theatre and a lot of acting at professional and amateur levels. They missed a truth about me and were surprised to learn it not because my outer self told them anything by itself. But because my inner self was anxious and that reflected in the body language of my outer self.

            As a former actor, I knew that appearances only mattered so much. If I wanted to convey a role well on stage then I needed to get into character. And if I lacked confidence on stage in a lead role then I was finished.

            I sang a solo in an amateur musical once. Getting onto that stage dressed in character terrified me but I knew if I lost control of my inner self then I was finished. I got a round of applause one night for simply getting out of a chair because I used my body language to communicate an inner state of annoyance at something another character had said.

            And then there's the feedback you get from acting. I was getting changed from one role in the changing rooms and got surprised by a young lady who wanted to tell me that my singing in the guise of an old man "really turned her on". And after the professional production at university, I was approached in the street by a random woman who wanted to tell me how much she enjoyed my performance. I got texts along the lines of:

            "I never realized you were such a good actor"
            "How did you learn all those lines?"

            Managing both my inner and outer selves changed how people saw me.

            If body language is such a powerful communication tool then the inner self must be capable of influencing how the outer self is seen.

          • I'm not saying confidence DOESN'T help. That isn't my argument. My argument is that people overestimate how MUCH it helps; vastly over-estimate, in my opinion.

            Yes, inner self can help change how people see outer self. But it doesn't change *that* much. I've been an actor as well, and even when I felt plenty confident on stage, I still didn't get compliments or accolades in the way you describe you did. Why? Because the confidence still wasn't enough to overcome my natural suckiness at acting. Yes, people may respond MORE to confidence… but you've got to have a good base foundation.

            Arguing that confidence is the biggest thing that matters is arguing about building a house on sand. Yes, people will still like the house, but if it's built on a bad foundation (the person is deeply unattractive, they don't have any natural talents, etc) it's not going to be that impressive in the long-run. But build a house on rock… take a natural acting talent, and add confidence… and of COURSE people are going to respond.

            So while confidence IS a factor, it annoys me when people make it the biggest or only deciding factor. It is not. In cases of unattractive or mediocre people, it is at best a band-aid, and I think we should acknowledge that.

          • Jess

            I think you vastly underestimate it Marty, in an extremely unhealthy way. You SAY you've felt confident, but everything you say expresses a core-deep lack of optimism and confidence about everything you do and are. That needs to change. When it does change, really change, down to the cells of your being, I honestly believe you'd have a whole new outlook on life.

            You are fighting really hard to stay in a small dark hole. And from that small dark hole, you're trying to tell the rest of the world that the sun doesn't shine at all because you can't see it.

            And when we tell you the sunshine is great, come on out of your hole, Marty, here, we'll give you a hand up, you're responding to us with. No, there is no sunshine, it's dark all day. Why should I bother.

            And you're putting effort into it. Why? Why are you determined to keep yourself in such a miserable mental state. You're a good looking girl, you're smart, you're witty, you're insightful, but it's like you have Stockholm Syndrome for some really messed up ideas about yourself that other people held you hostage with.

          • trixnix

            I can't speak for Marty. And I hope what I've said comes across as simply an alternative view point. I can't ask Marty to see things how I see them. Heck, I know most of what she says well because it has been my argument over the years too.

            Speaking just for me, I know that I've found it hard to believe in the good things about myself. But I couldn't let go of thinking like that.


            Well, if I am mediocre, ugly and unattractive to women physically then I've managed to justify how I behaved towards my former friend. She hurt me, I had to behave and react like that because my options are limited. She behaved badly too, she hurt me, I only get few chances at this, a woman who doesn't want to sleep with me when we've had such a strong connection is a huge loss…etc…

            (I didn't think they were but huge parts of my justification of that were basically "nice guy" rants)

            If I'm wrong and I've been wrong about myself then this becomes true:

            I am not limited in my dating options. I'm not naturally unattractive to women. There was no need for me to be a complete dick to my former best friend and I hurt her badly, ignored her pain, acted as if she didn't matter because she "didn't want the sex", kept things from her, was dishonest with myself and with her, got back into PUA and behaved like an ass.

            It was much better for me to believe that I was fundamentally bad. Yes, I got bullied a lot. Yes, I got treated very badly by some people. That was my blanket. So long as I felt and believed that, I could be the one who'd been wronged. Everything could be about me and I didn't have to see things through other people's eyes.

            That's the weight that's been holding me down for a while now.

            Hence me being sad for three years or so. To process all of this, I would have to acknowledge what I did to help cause what happened. I honestly don't think my ego was going to let it happen.

            I miss my former friend and she's not a bad person because she doesn't want to sleep with me. Nor am I a joke or a failure as a man just because she doesn't want to sleep with me. I got caught up in having a sex life and feeling like a "real man" that I missed myself acting like an asshole at times.

            I'm speaking only for me here. And part of me is worried that people here won't like me very much now I've admitted that. I'm worried about being that vulnerable and honest about what I've found out and realized since being here and reading the articles.

            I don't know if any of this helps me be more attractive. I do know it helps me feel less weighed down.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Mate, at this moment, I want to buy you a beer in the worst way. It takes a brave man to face down all that.

          • What Gentleman Horndog said. Speaking from the heart in public takes courage, and it sounds like you've made a breakthrough worth celebrating. And congratulating. Hey, where are those beers…

          • Ya know what's really convenient? Claiming confidence/optimism works, but ONLY if you absolutely believe it, if you "change down to the cells of your very being." Know who else preaches that stuff? Religious extremists. "The reason your cancer isn't cured is because you don't BELIEVE it enough."

            It's snake-oil at its very finest, turning around and blaming the failure of your concept on the person using it, instead of considering for even just a second, if maybe your theory is flawed. If the only way for something to work is for someone to delude themselves to the point where they can't even consider anything else (like, medical science over prayer) it might be worth re-considering.

            Saying "You just need to BELIEVE it" is over-simplistic. (Please don't misunderstand me, I don't mean it's "easy", I mean it ignores many, many other mitigating factors.) In "Bright-Sided," Barbara Ehrenbeich talks about how when her cancer was showing no signs of abetting, her doctors blamed HER for not being "positive" enough. Because, see, she was angry… about having cancer. Because she wanted answers, she wanted vigorous scientific studies showing why cancer has suddenly exploded in patients the last few years, not social support groups where they talked about how they were *grateful* for the cancer.

            That's how insidious the whole "positive thinking" philosophy is. If it doesn't work-oh it's because you're not positive enough. It band-aids over what could be the ACTUAL problem.

            I don't begrudge people who naturally look on the bright side, or who find confidence increases their chances of success at things. But I do look side-ways at it being subscribed as the ONE THING that's going to cure all, as a magic bullet, as the "core problem." Lack of confidence and optimism is not the core problem, just like unhappiness about cancer was the not the reason it didn't go away. Confidence and optimism can come FROM solving the core problem…. but subscribing it as the end-all cure is dishonest and lacking in evidence (and no, antidotes about how YOU got better once you suddenly decided to be more confidence is not the same as evidence.)

            And frankly, I find your tone deeply insulting. it's fine to be helpful, it's quite another thing to be patronizing. You are not attempting to understand, you are attempting to slap on a one-size-fits-all remedy and feel better about yourself as a result. It's like what I said earlier…. negative people may be exhausting to be around, but at least there isn't the air of infuriating superiority that you've somehow found the key to happiness, and if only I could be like YOU, then I'd discover it too. It's incredibly patronizing.

          • Jess

            I don't want you to be like me, Marty. If you're an unrepentant pessimist, that's fine. I'm also not saying that "It's just if you believe it!"

            I'm just baffled how on one hand it seems like you come on here asking for help, but if people offer help, you don't want to use it for whatever reason or you belittle it.

            Confidence can't turn you into Brad Pitt. Optimism won't make you Angelina Jolie.

            But at some point we have to figure out what we really want out of life and then set ourselves on the path to achieve it.

            I have terrible, heartbreaking, crushing things in my life that I can't change. I can be as cheery about them as I want and they won't change. I can be as pessimistic about them as I want, and they also won't change. They are constant. The only choice I have is to either choose to acknowledge the good and do my best to minimize the bad, or I can do the other and focus on the bad and ignore what good there is.

            The latter path would not be a very pleasant one to walk and still wouldn't fix things or make them any more honest and truthful so I choose not to. They already are what they are, the only truth in life is what you choose to perceive. Every image that comes into our eyes, every scent that reaches our nose, and every thing we touch is a composite of electrical signals firing through our neurons. The world we live in is the mosaic our brain makes out of that.

            Everything is an illusion, even misery. Pain is not any more honest than joy.

            If you would like to be a pessimist, that is fine. Go ahead and take whatever you think you need from that mindset, but then don't complain about it like you need help changing how things are for you, not if you don't really want change.

            I'm not selling chocolate pudding and kittens (though both are pretty awesome) All I'm saying is if you're sitting in a room complaining about how dark it is, the curtains are right over there. It's your choice to open them or not.

            I'm going to go play outside.

          • enail

            I would like to buy chocolate pudding and kittens 🙁

          • Yes, I am for help. But asking for help does not mean I can't have opinions about that help, and that I can't express those opinions. And asking for help does not mean all help is created equal. I find some things more helpful than others, and telling me to "crawl out of my hole-see the sunshine!" is not helpful, to me. I am allowed to decide what help I find helpful, am I not?

            And no, I don't believe everything is illusion. I do believe in a truth. That truth is probably neither negative nor positive, but if something is negative, I want to recognize it as such, and I don't think recognizing that a particular life is fuller of negative things than positive things is "negativity." I think it is calling a spade a spade.

            Yes, you can't change things in the past. But insisting on "seeing the positive" and papering over it with optimism is treating the symptom. I don't want to ignore the negativity until the source of it is fixed. Optimism and confidence is not the point… it's the result of fixing the underlining problem. I don't need to "start focusing on the positive"-I need to fix the things that make my life lacking in positive in the first place.

            THAT'S what I need help with. Not "thinking positive." I need help fixing what is actually wrong…. and it isn't my lack of confidence. It's what CAUSES my lack of confidence. And "focusing on the negativity" is not the cause.

            The curtains are no good if the windows are bricked up.

          • Max

            Positive thinking won't cure cancer, obviously. However, it is pretty effective if the core problem literally is your negative thinking.

            But seriously, what do you think is the "core problem?"

          • For me, personally, the core problem is that I am not a socially-worthwhile person. I am not interesting, or talented, or have much value to offer society (I have value only in that I am a living being, but *everyone* has that.) Confidence wouldn't be very good, because there is no foundation to build that confidence on, nothing to BE confident about.

            The core problem I need to fix is to become a better/more socially valuable person. Ya know, someone to actually be confident about.

          • Jess

            Except you do have value. All the people here on this forum who see your posts and think they are well thought out, insightful, intelligent, and especially your awesome gif skills admire you. And frankly, if we go by pictures, you're more attractive than I am.

            That's why we're so baffled and confused by this.

            To us, that simply isn't true.

            So, how do we explain this. Either we're all a bunch of liars, which I'm pretty sure we're not. Or we're all stupid and can't read people, which I'm also pretty sure we're not,

            or there is something else at work here.

          • Forget that you're beating on yourself, Marty – the way you frame human worth in this post is really painful for me. It makes me feel like you are setting yourself up to judge my worth as a human being. Even though you are explicitly targeting yourself, it's a framing that implicitly asks me what value I have to offer. All of a sudden I'm left feeling like I have something to prove. Worse, given how harsh you are to yourself, it makes me never want to show you any vulnerability lest you be that harsh and unforgiving to me.

            I'm not arguing against the notion of having to be worthwhile to other human beings; I've actually got quite high standards for the way I expect people in my community to behave. But I think very carefully about the standards that I set, and the way that I judge people. For example, I focus on behavior and skills rather than on "states of being." I also make sure that I only judge people, myself included, on things that I think are genuinely important – me, personally, not what society tells me I should value. I strive to keep learning new things, to behave ethically, to treat my community lovingly. Plus, we all help each other become better people together!

            What I'm pointing out is that you can change your framing around the way you judge people, without giving up the idea of becoming a better person in the first place, or adopting meaningless "confidence" and "self-esteem."

          • enail

            Kleenestar, I love your posts! You always bring such a nuanced perspective!

          • Oh. Um. Gosh. Thanks. I'm going to go blush over here in the corner now. 🙂

          • Max

            "the confidence still wasn't enough to overcome my natural suckiness at acting."

            aka you were not actually very confident.

          • No, it's that I *suck at acting.* I could be confident as the day is long, that doesn't make me GOOD at something, and it doesn't automatically mean people RECOGNIZE me as good. Haven't you ever gone to a speaker who acted super confident and into what he was saying, whose speech actually rather sucked? Being confident just means you are good at being confident, it does not automatically make the product you are selling better.

          • Jess

            Except imagine the sucky speech delivered by a person who is looking at his toes, has a shaky voice, is stumbling over every word, and is so nervous he's pacing.

            That bad speech would be even worse and the people watching uncomfortable with the entire experience instead of just disappointed by the content.

          • But in that same vein, a speech that is actually full of good content and written beautifully, even if delivered in a non-confident way, would still be better than the confident-but-sucky speech. I've had professors whose tone of voice never changed and who had very little expression in their faces, but if you paid attention to the words, the content was amazing.

            That's why my *point* is that confidence is not the be-all, end-all. It doesn't necessarily make sucky things less sucky, and it is only really powerful in combination with already AWESOME things. But awesome things are still awesome even without confidence-they're just a little less awesome than they could be.

            So in the speech-writing example, the problem is not so much a matter of confidence, but how awful the content and writing of the speech is. Confidence *could* help, but re-writing the speech to suck less would probably help much more.

          • Jess

            Sheesh Marty, I never said that confidence was the be all end all. In fact I deliberately said the opposite several times. But you and I are both agreeing here that confidence makes even something that is mediocre better.

            If you need to rewrite the speech, fine. Rewrite the speech. Let's say you have a speech you have to give, and your boss gave you a set of slides that are awful and suck, but you still have to work them in because your boss said so.

            What do you do at that point? Do you concede that the entire speech is doomed to be an utter failure? Or do you work those slides in, address them quickly, and then move on to the points you want to make that you feel are good points, and deliver those points as best you can, with as much confidence as you can? Even with the crappy slides, you're probably still looking at a pretty good speech that will command some attention from your audience and get some of the points you really wanted to make across.

            The only alternative is to focus so much on the bad slides that you draw even more attention to them, and the audience is then focused entirely on the things you really don't want to show them.

            I talked about bad things in my life. They are not in the past. They are constant in the present and they will never go away. Ever. On occasion, I let myself feel bad about them. Then I move on and deal with them as best I can and I make a point to enjoy the things worth enjoying in my life. I don't focus on the bad slides longer than I have to.

            If the window is bricked up, start looking around for a pickaxe, or some C4.

            Like I said, if you're a pessimist, that's fine. People are allowed to have that outlook for whatever reasons they want. Just be very aware that pessimists tend to draw pessimists to them and be attracted to pessimists and be unhappy even if their situations do change for the better because it is never good enough. If you want that to change, well…?

            What do you want us to do?

          • NO, I am not saying confidence with mediocre things makes it better. I am saying *there are many factors that tie into something being good BESIDES confidence, and confidence is only one of those factors.*

            In your slides example, what I would do is spend lots of time improving the bad slides. Yes, I would focus on the negative… to fix it. Not to dwell on it, but to correct them in whatever way I could. The good doesn't need attention-it's all ready good. I should be focusing and addressing the problem, which is the bad slides.

            And this is my entire freaking point. People keep advising "confidence!" and "positivity!" when that isn't ACTUALLY the problem, when confidence and positivity would naturally come once the actual problem was fixed.

            What I want you to do is actually try to understand where I am coming from, and stop lecturing me. I have said, several times, all the way back in my original comment in fact, that subscribing confidence doesn't really help, if there are other underlying problems.

            You are not trying to see my perspective, and that's what I find infuriating. You're not addressing the points I am actually bringing up, you just keep arguing about "positive thinking" and "not dwelling on bad stuff," when that isn't what I am discussing at all.

            It's not about being a pessimist even. You want to label me a pessimist, because it's an easy box, it's a label you can slot me into and then disregard my opinions, instead of trying to dig deeper and see that what I'm talking about goes beyond labels like "pessimist" and "optimist" and that there's so much more to it.

            Like I said all the way at the beginning….. it's over-simplifying human behavior and personality, and that's what I am not a fan of.

          • So, I'm going to point to two things in the psychology literature that you might find helpful, Marty. Let me know if you'd like to chat more about either of these things.

            First, self-esteem is not actually that important for happiness. What's much more important is self-efficacy – namely, your belief in your ability to accomplish your goals. I agree with you that saying, "But just feel good about yourself!" is insulting and useless, and much of the literature would back you up. On the other hand, it's extremely important to believe that you can make a difference in your own life (or in a particular domain), because that tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy either way. So I'd point you toward reading a bit about self-efficacy, and maybe even taking a look at Carol Dweck's work on mindset more broadly.

            Second, the creativity literature suggests that "trying to fix the bad stuff" is actually not a good long-term strategy. People who play to their strengths, as opposed to trying to fix their weaknesses, tend to be more successful in the long run. Or, more accurately: to address "blocking" weaknesses in the most minimal possible way so that they can get on to using their strengths. So in the slides example, the smart play would be to spend as little effort as possible bringing them up to a minimally acceptable standard, and then focus on, say, your standout speaking skills. Again, this is something you can read more about.

            What do you think? Helpful? Useful?

          • Yes, very helpful, thank you. I can see the point of self-efficacy being a lot more important to happiness than self-esteem (one could argue that a healthy dose of self-efficacy could lead TO self-esteem, not necessarily the other way around.)

            That ties in with one of the pillars of depression as we understand it; depression is not so much sadness, as it is *hopelessness.* A sense of lose of control and inability to help oneself. Sadness is a result of that lose of control (among other things, as nothing is ever straight forward.) So, fixing the sadness wouldn't be as helpful as fixing the sense of helplessness.

            I don't totally buy the idea of focusing on your strengths, but I think that's because I think it may not work for me but may work for other people. Focusing on your strengths is only useful if you, ya know, have relevant strengths, which is why I think it may not be the best *general* advice. If none of your strengths relate to speech giving, then focusing on fixing the bad slides may be the best option. Know what I mean?

          • Actually, self-esteem can sometimes actually be harmful, depending on whether it's state-based ("I am so smart!") or skill-based ("I learned something new today!"). But yes, self-efficacy does tend to lead to the healthy type of self-esteem. You are totally right about the tie to depression, too.

            As far as focusing on your strengths: one of the things creative people do is find ways to apply their strengths to a problem even when it doesn't seem obvious how to do so. They don't take problem definitions as given. That said, you're right that it's not something you can do every single time – but it's helpful if that's the first thing you try!

            Have you ever looked at Cal Newport's work? He writes about this stuff in the context of careers, but it actually might be helpful for you to see how he does "worked examples" in a less-fraught context than dating.

          • Jess

            I do understand your desire to try to change the slides. Believe me, I get that. But what happens when you can't change the slides. The boss wants them in as is. They are part of your constraints and you have to work with what you've got? What do you do then?

            It's admirable to want to fix the things in your life that you feel are wrong or off. That is great. If you have things like your job, or your social group, or your apartment that you'd like to fix, then you absolutely should put effort into fixing those things.

            The problem is even after those things are fixed, there inevitably be something else that isn't right just around the corner. No life is 100% suck free. You will always have to deal with things that suck. Some things you will be able to fix and some things you won't, you'll have to adapt to them.

            Life would then start to feel like you're the little dutch boy at the dyke trying to plug up holes until you run out of fingers. Sometimes you have to let the dam break and instead focus on building a boat.

            If there are things that aren't the way you want them to be, by all means, try to fix them. But it is worth noting what your "resting state" mentality is.

            You might have problems, but life can always be worse. You are not a 13 year old girl in the Congo, for example.

            If life is like a staircase, fixing your problems will only put you up on a new step. The question is, will you be happy there? And if you can't at least be okay on the step you're on, considering you can look down the staircase at all the things that could be a lot worse, then how can you be okay on the next step when you still have more steps ahead of you, and the same ones behind?

            If you can't reach a resting state of "I'm okay" then maybe there is some work to do in life. Good luck fixing the things it's going to take to get there.

            Believe it or not, I'm pulling for you too, Marty. I hope you can reach that, "Hey, things are good" place, and that you're happy however you need to get there.

          • Max

            If there's one profession where confidence is directly related to talent, it's acting.

            The issue with your example was a poorly-written speech, not a bad public speaker.

          • Well, then, it really comes down to calling people liars, or how in the world you define "confidence."

            I was confident in my acting. You're just going to have to believe that. I felt confident, I acted confident. Now, maybe I wasn't *really* confident…. but that's why I find the whole "Just be confident!" advice so infuriating, since you can apparently never truly KNOW if you're confident.

            I had all the internal monologue and behavior of a confident person, yet still sucked at acting, and so according to you, I wasn't *actually* confident. See how insidious that is?

          • trixnix

            Being on that stage doing the acting I was praised for was made possible by confidence.

            Sounds cliched beyond belief. I had to do the work and I had to build the foundation. I competed for one of the lead roles in the production and won. I could have easily decided I was crap and not gone for a role at all. My comfort zone at the time was directing and producing plays at an amateur level. I hadn't really put myself forward into much acting apart from the odd exam performances on my theatre studies degree.

            Step back from that stage and I'm on a theatre studies with English degree course at my first choice university. Which was an achievement in itself. Many teachers at high school predicted I'd get very low grades in my exams. When I achieved much higher results than expected in history, the teacher rang the exam board to double check they'd got the right results.

            I could have accepted my teacher's verdict on me. School wasn't exactly fun in the first place and there had been a fair bit of drama. I revised like crazy and changed how I did things quite a bit. I'd been on an open day to my first choice university and knew I wanted to make that future happen for myself. I didn't know if I could do it. On the day the exam results came out, I prepared myself for not getting the results I wanted. I knew I'd be upset but I always have a back up plan.

            Holding those exam results almost made me cry. Could not quite believe them to be honest. I remember thinking: "well, the door's well and truly open now…". Experienced a similar feeling when they gave me my therapy qualifications a few years ago. And the moment my physio told me that I'd made "a very good recovery considering the serious nature of the fracture". Not because any of those things were natural talents. I worked for those things and created a foundation as best I could.

            It sounds cliched but without the confidence to stand up for myself, none of those things would have happened. There would have been no first choice university, no degree course, no professional acting opportunity, no being published in national magazines, no therapy qualifications, no writing for the BBC website, no recovering from something that could have killed me had I been a lot older and frail.

            Some moments were so hard. I burst into tears in my Dad's car when my arm wouldn't straighten properly. I burst into tears in the physios office as my mind went on a rant about being "ugly and now a cripple too". I was scared to be on my own again and looking after myself and terrified to do what I knew I had to. I had to take the sling they'd given me off to have any chance of getting use of the arm back. I'd occasionally have to ask for help putting my coat on and doing some things. Physio terrified me and so did doing the exercises.

            First time my left hand started touch typing again from memory made me cry. It stumbled, it faltered, it hurt like hell but it did it. Things quivered in my left hand as my arm struggled to hold them and I cried again when it held them firmly for the first time since the accident. Being anywhere near the trauma centre/hospital terrified me but I wanted to give my physio a thank you card. I delivered it and legged it out of there for the benefit of my mind. I called a spade a spade many times. I acknowledged the negative many times.

            There's a line in a Laura Marling song which says: "all of this can be broken". I gave that line a personal meaning during my recovery. I used it to remind myself that things pass, they change and it won't be like this forever. That I'd get my love of playing in the snow back again, that i'd get myself through it. For me, confidence wasn't a bandaid. It was basically all I had.

            Confidence didn't healed me. But it is the reason I can move my arm.

          • It was confidence *mixed with other stuff.* God, you people are so infuriating sometimes.

            Yes, confidence helped you do all those amazing things. But you had to already have some amount of talent and intelligence to *do those things.* So it wasn't JUST confidence. It wasn't you going "I'll be confident!" and then magically things happened.

            Please, try to imagine for a second that you had applied for the university, or had tried out for the play, and didn't get either. Yes, some teachers told you you sucked… and yet you got into the university. Imagine if ALL teachers were telling you you sucked, and the university turned you down. What if you weren't even talented enough to have that experience on the amateur level?

            THAT is what I am trying to address. Yes, confidence helped you… but it helped YOU, specifically, because you already had positive things lurking underneath, and had already achieved things in life. But that isn't true of everyone. It certainly isn't true of me. I have achieved exactly mediocre-to-awful results in everything I've tried. Confidence wouldn't help me, because there is nothing for confidence *to enhance.* I actually need to fix the underlying problem FIRST, before confidence will have any kind of impact.

            Confidence is a garnish, not the dish. But the best garnish in the world couldn't help a pile of dog droppings. You already had a good meal cooked, that needed extra spice. But for other people on this board…. myself included… subscribing the garnish is not helpful, because the dish is terrible. The dish needs to be fixed first, before confidence could have any kind of impact.

          • trixnix

            "THAT is what I am trying to address. Yes, confidence helped you… but it helped YOU, specifically, because you already had positive things lurking underneath, and had already achieved things in life."

            I've been told I suck so much in my life it stopped being funny twenty years ago. Without confidence of one kind of another, I never would have found any positive things lurking underneath and I would not have achieved things in life. I really don't think I have any natural, inborn talents. But if I do, they would have meant nothing had I not shown up and used them when the opportunities turned up in my life. Nothing stopping me running away and hiding somewhere before a play I was in was about to start.

            "But that isn't true of everyone"

            I never thought it was. I can't speak for everyone and I've made it clear that I'm not asking you or anyone else to see things how I see them.

            "It certainly isn't true of me. I have achieved exactly mediocre-to-awful results in everything I've tried. Confidence wouldn't help me, because there is nothing for confidence *to enhance.* I actually need to fix the underlying problem FIRST, before confidence will have any kind of impact."

            I understand that point of view. It's one of the reasons I'm trying to lose a bit more weight because I've still got the idea in my head that if I fix how I look and get "good looking" then my results with women will change. There's still a part of me that wants to fix the underlying problem as it sees it and doesn't believe in the whole confidence thing.

            There's a part of me that wants to "fix the underlying problem" of my face by having extensive plastic surgery. Wants to fix my hair loss too. And maybe those are the real problems stopping women from liking me. I don't know anymore. This isn't a "I know what's right for everyone post". I'm piecing most of this together having crawled my way out of some serious crap. I'm probably never going to be Mr Really Good Looking. So waiting to talk to women I like until I've "fixed my looks" is going to be me waiting a long, long time.

            "Confidence is a garnish, not the dish. But the best garnish in the world couldn't help a pile of dog droppings. You already had a good meal cooked, that needed extra spice. But for other people on this board…. myself included… subscribing the garnish is not helpful, because the dish is terrible. The dish needs to be fixed first, before confidence could have any kind of impact. "

            Part of me agrees very much with what you're saying. Part of me wants to fix so many underlying problems about myself and turn myself into a DIY project. And maybe there are things to fix. And if there are, how am I going to fix them without confidence? In order to fix those problems, I'm going to have to believe in myself at least a little bit. Otherwise it's just going to be: "ah, forget about him, he's shit!"

            I could have a whole new face that had a more defined jaw. I could have proper hair again. I could finally lose this darn belly that won't shift. I could get all that from fixing my "underlying problems" and it still won't mean anything much if I don't have the confidence to actually go and talk to women/meet women etc. I'm unlikely to work on myself like that if I don't have any confidence. Without confidence, nothing changes.

            I don't mean to be infuriating. I'm not sure what kind of person you think I am but if you want to meet a guy who turned hating himself into an art form that drags him down, I'll send you my address details. I'm not a happy clappy sort of a chap. I get told off for being "moody" a lot of the time. And I am someone whose guided people through a journey of rebuilding their lives and their confidence in my work as a therapist.

            Not asking anyone to see the world differently or to see themselves differently or to see themselves how I see them. Just writing down my perspective.

          • Max

            "Confidence is a garnish, not the dish. But the best garnish in the world couldn't help a pile of dog droppings."

            Your life is not a pile of dog droppings. You are not a pile of dog droppings. You are far from it. I think that all of us just can't wrap our mind around why you would see yourself that way.

          • Because I have lots and lots of evidence for seeing myself that way. There is not a day goes by I don't receive massive amounts of evidence for it, and very little evidence to suggest I am BUT that.

          • Christine

            Marty, I've been trying and trying to understand your point of view, and I think I'm beginning to see what you are talking about.

            One important thing is to take your environment into consideration when processing what the truth seems to be. When I was little (and later), in my family I was hated. Not going into the gory details, but my family nickname was "Scum of the Earth." At the exact same time, when I went to my best friend's house, she and her family thought I was wonderful and amazing. This confused me to no end, but I think now that is what saved my life, being able to see that my family's "truth" wasn't the only way of looking at things. It seems possible that you may also find something similar in the future.

            In the meantime, I have to say that I was very surprised to hear you describe yourself as average intelligence. Why is that? You come across to me (a certified genius for whatever that is worth), as quite above-average in intelligence. If that were not so, I doubt so many people would be so engaged in conversation with you.

          • Geekavenger

            Agreed, but it should also be stated that Confidence isn't the only stat modifier. Finding a style that works for you +2, Social Calibration +3, A +1 Heavy Mace -4… etc. So Attraction is WAY more than either physical traits or confidence, but both those are included in the stat.

            And something that is hard to hear is a big portion is Compatibility across a number of those attributes since you could improve all those things about yourself and some girls (or guys [or Orcs]) will still not be interested. As much as I hate to admit it math does not solve everything.

          • enail

            Wait, a giant mace is a negative modifier? Even if it has spikes?? Suddenly, I think I know what I've been doing wrong in life.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Are you sure you mean "wrong" and not "AWESOME"?

        • isdzan

          Actually, come to think of it, the times I see men checking out women, the women tend to be on the very attractive end of the spectrum, possibly because they are more likely to inspire a less than subtle response from men. The same is probably true when women check out men. The looks you see are the ones that couldn’t be hidden.

          I would bet a larger number of both genders are subtly checking people out and we only notice the less than subtle ones

        • SpiltCoffee5

          I've never noticed when people are checking me out. It takes another person, usually female, to point it out to me. Maybe you just don't see it? Especially if you're possibly seeing the world around you through the filter of "girls don't check me out".

        • Gentleman Horndog

          What do you want to hear, Lee? Do you want to hear that women are attracted to a wide variety of body types, and that becoming sexually appealing is within reach if you can address the issues standing between you and that goal? Or do you want to hear you're simply screwed and there's nothing you can do about it? Because even though the first is completely true, you seem to spend a hell of a lot of energy fighting for the second.

    • Gentleman Horndog

      "The issue is that how do you as an individual get a woman to want to have sex with you."

      If memory serves, the archives may contain one or two articles addressing this topic.

    • Gentleman Horndog

      "I remain dubious of the desirability of widespread polyamory"

      I'm dubious too, and I'm polyamorous. Who's advocating that? Women being freer to explore their sexualities isn't going to lead to monogamy imploding as a social institution.

      • enail

        Good point, this is weirdly like the argument that gay marriage will destroy straight marriage…because everyone who previously identified as straight just going to be like "hey, I can marry a guy/girl now??" Well, forget this heterosexuality thing, it's gay all the way for me!

        Many people prefer monogamy; if women make decisions about their sex life more freely, I'm pretty sure not all of them are going to decide on polygamy.

        • Gentleman Horndog

          Hell, I'd go so far as to say a strong majority of them will go for monogamy and be happy to do it. I love poly, but it just plain doesn't work for most people.

          • I admit, I have a hard time figuring out why people would be monogamous if poly weren't as controversial as it is. What are the statistics-that 25, 30% of couples cheat? I can only imagine they cheat because poly is still such a new and scary social concept. In my wider social circle, it seems like there is a pretty big percentage of poly couples… It sort of feels like poly is no longer a niche, but a norm, and I as a monogamous person may need to sacrifice that if I want a wider range of people to select a partner from.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Why be monogamous instead of poly, or some other version of non-monogamy?

            Because you want sex to JUST be for your partner, and having other people in the mix makes it feel cheaper and less special to you. Because managing just ONE relationship is plenty difficult all by itself, and juggling other relationships (and managing the complications that emerge between your various relationships) would make you feel like your brain is melting. Because the amount of trust it takes to make you feel comfortable in a sexual relationship cannot be achieved by anybody except somebody living with and totally committed to you. Because you just plain don't have time for more than one partner. Because no matter how supportive your partner is, you can't have sex outside that relationship without feeling like a cheating asshole. Because the thought of your partner with somebody else makes you vomit in your mouth. Because if your partner seeks an outside relationship, it will feel like a slap in the face, an implicit criticism that you're just not good enough.

            Or any number of other reasons I can't think of off the top of my head.

            Seriously. Not for everybody. Anybody who says different is selling something.

          • I know not for everybody, but at least around me, poly seems to be the new norm. Not a lot of people seem that interested in entering monogamous relationships.

          • Mel_

            It definitely varies from place to place. I don't know anyone in my fairly large circle of acquaintances–in a rather liberal city, among liberal geeky/artsy folks–who's in a poly relationship or seeking one, and I know lots of people in or seeking monogamous relationships. Very far from being the norm here.

          • eselle28

            Really? I disagree. From what I've seen of poly relationships they look like they can be very rewarding for the right sorts of people, but that they also require lots of work and the balancing of lots of people's needs, including those of people you might personally dislike or not give a crap about. I think they'd be more popular if they were more accepted, but I'd be very surprised if they became the most popular form of relationship.

            I'm sure there are some cheaters (and, more likely, serial monogamists) who are genuinely not good at monogamy and who'd be happier in poly arrangements. But a lot of the cheaters I've known do so for reasons that don't have much to do with sex – they have emotional problems, or addiction issues, or they're not good at ending relationships when they're dead. Some others value fidelity a lot in their partners even if they don't for themselves, and I don't think they'd be willing to accept the things that would come with a poly relationship.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            "But a lot of the cheaters I've known do so for reasons that don't have much to do with sex"

            Yeah. There's more to polyamory than having multiple sex partners. If the cheater is desperate for variety, or has a kink/fetish that their partner can't/won't satisfy, or the cheating was a one-off because the circumstances were just THAT sexy, then yeah, a poly relationship might have suited them better. If they're cheating because they feel unappreciated, or because they love the transgressive thrill of sneaking behind their partner's back, or because they don't much give a shit about their partner's feelings, poly ain't gonna help much.

          • Maintaining one relationship is hard enough. I can't imagine juggling 2 or more. Hell, even the scheduling would be challenging

          • Gentleman Horndog

            "Hell, even the scheduling would be challenging"

            Oh, yeah. It isn't sexy, but time management is a BIG part of successful poly. 🙂

          • Joy

            Polyamory strikes me as being somewhat like communal living. Works wonderfully for some people but definitely not for everybody.

          • Joy

            I don't personally know any poly couples (that I'm aware of), but I don't think cheating is always–or even predominantly–about being bored with your partner or wanting a different one. And I don't think it's usually *just* about sex, nor do I think the problem of cheating would be solved by everyone becoming poly. For one thing, you can be poly and still cheat.

            Of the two people I know have cheated, one did so while her husband was in Iraq and one did so while his wife was pregnant and caring for their active toddler. Those are situations in which the amount of sex dropped drastically or temporarily ceased. But they are also situations that are highly stressful and mark a difficult period of change and adjustment in a relationship. The man who cheated told me he'd been feeling a lot of misplaced resentment toward his wife as well as frustration with the situation, and he saw his affair partly as a coping mechanism ("if I act as if I am still carefree and single, perhaps I won't be so overwhelmed"). It obviously didn't work. But it wasn't solely or even mostly "I'd like a different sexual partner now."

      • CmE

        I have a little theory that there are powerful biological forces pulling us all in the directions of both monogamy and sexual plurality. Both sexual strategies have been around for a very long time, and I'm sure will continue be around for as long as humanity. Official monogamy will likely always be more prevalent simply because in post-agricultural societies it has clear and obvious social advantages.

        • CmE

          Hmm, I suppose by monogamy I mean more accurately "life-long or long-term pair bonds".

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Heh. By that definition, my girlfriend and I are somehow very monogamous, despite all the sex with people who aren't each other. 😉

        • isdzan

          My people were less agriculturally based than your culture and semi-nomadic, but we were still mostly monogamous, but did have a lot of sampling the options before pairing off. Basically you had sex, decided whether it worked for you, and then went to your parents and asked to be paired. You could sample as many as you liked before picking and both partners had to agree.

          • CmE

            Yeah, I'm not trying to say that human pair-bonding arises from agriculture. I think the consensus is that it has deeper roots than that. Agriculture is probably a spur to develop more formal pair-bonding institutions, but that's all.

          • isdzan

            And pair bonds sometimes tended to be shorter back in the day. Lots of women died in childbirth, men died in war and hunting, and both had all the random accidents and illness out there. You often had multiple pair bonds over a lifetime

          • SpiltCoffee5

            Assuming, of course, you weren't the one to die in a pair bond.

          • isdzan

            True, Coffee, true….

            Unless you were a zombie or vampire……which would bring up a whole different set of issues

          • SpiltCoffee5

            "Oh, Jerry! I thought you were dead…. er… well, you are still dead I guess."
            "George? Yeah, um… I'm sorry, Jerry, but I've moved on. You did die, after all."
            "Excuse me? I need you to leave now. Please don't make me call the police."

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Alternate History Exercise: How would the history of North America be different if the Apaches were, in fact, vampires capable of animating the dead to serve them?

            I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest "Very."

          • LeeEsq

            Whether or not people are naturally polygamous or monogamous is up for debate. The evidence is inconclusive. What we do know is that monogamous societies tend to have more social stability than polygamous ones and compete better against them. One theory on why monogamy came into existence in the first place, assuming natural polygamy, and became dominant was war. Most polygamous societies are of the one man with many wives and concubines variety. This naturally leaves lots of heterosexual men as life long bachelors. What these men wanted was wives. What rulers wanted were soldiers. Monogamy was something that came about to get men to fight.

          • Jewthulhu

            I feel this is a vast oversimplification. For starters, you are dealing, as you stated, with mostly polygamous societies, which by definition leave numerous unmarried men so that more powerful men could have more wives. This was often, in agricultural societies at least, a power thing, because women were to be controlled and owned. It sounds like you have rather less data on societies where exclusive sexual relationships were not actually culturally mandated in any way, or where the institution of 'marriage' in that particular society did not preclude culturally-acceptable extramarital sex.

          • CornedBee

            I don't understand the connection you draw between monogamy and getting men to be soldiers for the rulers (and presumably fight offensive wars). I would expect the opposite to happen: a man with a wife and children is much less motivated to become a soldier and fight a war somewhere.

            I also disagree that polygyny "naturally" (or "by definition" as Jewthulhu writes) results in lots of unmarried men. In some cases, polygyny arose precisely because there were too few men to begin with (e.g. nomadic people that often fought over scarce resources, leading to many men dying). In addition, even in most cultures were polygyny is allowed, a single wife is still the most common case for economic reasons, because the man simply cannot support more than one wife. The exception seem to be the cultures were women are the primary workforce.

          • LeeEsq

            Imagine that you are a man in a society where a quarter to a third of the male population never gets to marry or be in a relationship. They spend their lives forever alone. You are one of those men. Now your society gets into a war with another society thats the same. No matter who wins, you will remain a bachelor peasant. A man with a family has something to fight for. A man without one, nothing.

          • Akai

            But he also has nothing to lose from going to war: he has no children who will grow up without a father, he won't leave a widow in poverty, and everything to gain: glory and renown (and therefrom, social mobility), but also fraternal companionship, purpose in life, and…well, the spoils of war.

            Not that low-status men would've had a lot of choice in the matter: they would've been conscripted or killed in many societies, so your point doesn't really stand there.

            More to the point, I don't think your hypothetical society actually happened: see the above: in a society with near-constant warfare, huge chunks of the male population are going to be killed off on a regular basis. Your quarter to a third of uncoupled men are dead, not foreveralones.

          • isdzan

            LOL, GH, don’t doubt we have thought of that alternate (sans vampirism).

            With that addition, though, we at least would have earned the title “blood thirsty” 🙂

          • Gentleman Horndog

            "The desert? It is a terrifying place, where the dead walk, where powerful creatures crush any who oppose them. Tread there carefully — or, if you are wise, tread there not at all."

            I want to finish this with with a pithy "So, basically, Arizona" because Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But that would be kinda dickish to Arizonans, who in my experience are mostly perfectly nice people. So instead, I'll embed the cheap-shot in this paragraph so that I both make it AND deny responsibility for it.

            Hey, my cake! I'm going to eat it!

    • You're not necessarily going to get looks of appraisal, even when the woman is really attracted to you. Yes, I have checked men out but I've checked them out only in a glancing way, like I'd look at an interesting piece of art. More importantly, I only check guys out when I am absolutely sure they are taking no notice of me. Why? Because I don't want them to assume, like Dr. NL says, that I am easy and would immediately jump their bones just because I am giving them an approving glance.

      Obviously on a date there's a high possibility a guy will notice me checking him out, since (I hope) he is paying attention to me. I've been on several dates (and been in at least 2 relationships) with guys I considered extremely attractive and did fantasize about, and yet getting me to admit it *on a date* would probably be next to impossible. Heck, the two boyfriends I did fantasize about probably don't even realize I did.

      Stop assuming you are 1) the type of guy no woman would fantasize about and 2) that women, for lack of a better word, act like men. Men are socialized to be open and obvious about their appraisal and fantasizing. Women are not, but that does not mean it doesn't happen.

      • SpiltCoffee5

        "Yes, I have checked men out but I've checked them out only in a glancing way, like I'd look at an interesting piece of art."

        You and I must have different ideas of how one would look at interesting pieces of art. I suddenly had an image of you standing in front of the person you're interested in, champagne in hand, making critiques about their fashion sense and body language.

        Actually, on second thought, my interpretation is just really odd.

        • Would it help to say "street art"? 🙂

          • SpiltCoffee5

            Hmm… the street art in the city I live in tends to either get tagged or pooped on by the local wildlife. I think I prefer the previous image I had in my head to the current one.

        • Akai

          You know, that's a kind of appreciation I could get behind, both to give and to receive. Much better than having things yelled out of moving cars at me, anyway.

      • Astral

        "Because I don't want them to assume, like Dr. NL says, that I am easy and would immediately jump their bones just because I am giving them an approving glance. "

        Yep. Since I haven't more than waded into online dating spaces, I've met most of the men I'm attracted to through professional circles or friends. When it comes to the men themselves, I want to make sure that either a LTR or something more casual was a more likely than not good idea before I start flirting, because of the larger social consequences if something doesn't work out.

        Then there's the question of social and professional circles which every so often have a jealous woman gatekeeper who will spend a lot of time trying to edge someone out who they perceive is a threat to their getting attention from a particular guy or guys in general. When my hair, makeup, and interested and cheery attitude are good, guys check me out and make positive comments about me (and I generally prefer not go around looking homely and being negative, both of which take a lot less effort to pull off!). So I have to make sure to be extra coolly professional to ward off the potential pettiness.

  • isdzan

    You know what I want to see? A culture where people are not judged at all by their sex lives or their ability to attract sexual partners. One where people could have as much or as little sex as they like in whatever manner they choose and it would only matter to the parties involved. People could be asexual or polyamorous, be single or multiply coupled and no one would care because it isn’t their business. And no one would be judged to be of greater or lesser value based on the presence or absence of partners in their lives.

    Sigh. I am more likely to see a unicorn shitting gold in my lifetime, but here’s to hoping!

  • I would also like to add the advice: "Don't go after a girl just because you think she's easy."

    I made the mistake once of dating one guy and, when that fell apart, seeing another guy in the same (large) social circle a little while later. To this day, when I run into folks from that same social group, or even ones that are only vaguely connected to it, I am still seen as the "easy" girl. I recently discovered that a guy, who is a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend of this group, was trying to get to know me ONLY because he assumed that because I slept with someone without a relationship that one time, I'll do it again with minimum effort. This is disgusting, to say the least, especially since both the guys I had dated had a much larger conquest list within the scene. Yet they were excused, and I was the slut.

    We've been talking in the forum frequently about casual sex, and in other places I've gotten some push-back about not jumping into the sack without a relationship… Apparently, by not doing so, I am cutting off a large portion of the male population as potential boyfriends, since it is now the norm to sex first, maybe date later.

    I made the decision partially for personal reasons (I'm not a big fan of the emotional confusion that comes with casual sex), but truthfully, the biggest reason is that I just *cannot* afford to be The Slut again. There is nothing quite so self-esteem-destroying as realizing a guy is only hanging around with you in hopes of a fast and easy lay,not because he's genuinely attracted to you.

    • Jess

      This so much Marty, I'm sorry.

    • Tea Fish

      Ugh, that is an awful thing to experience, Marty, and I'm sorry you had to go through that. :C

    • nonA

      As one of the people in that argument, I was actually saying that you were propping up the same ideas from the other end. Saying that a guy who is merely open to the idea of casual sex is suspect, even if he respects your feelings and boundaries. If you don’t feel comfortable having sex with someone for whatever reason, I will happily bitchslap someone who tells you to go ahead in spite of your feelings.

      Although honestly, there is a lot to be said for being comfortable approaching people with certain ideas/tastes if you’re looking for something. A girl who actively enjoys no-strings sex is someone to approach if I want casual, no-strings sex. The issues usually come with the implied disrespect that often comes packaged with, as well as the idea that these women are *only* useful as a place to get your rocks off. You’d be amazed just how many offers you can get just by being in the same circles with high-libido girls and being pressure-free friendly.

    • Mengsk

      I'm sorry, but this advice rubs me the wrong way. I think it's mostly because "easy" is such a gendered insult. Because if being easy means being willing to have low-commitment sex, then a whole lot of guys are guilty. I think the point of the article was to suggest that we can create world without this idiotic double standard.

      If these guys are approaching you with the "you had sex with that guy, ergo you should have sex with me" attitude, this is definitely bad. It would also be bad if their self-esteem issues made them think that they couldn't do better than you. But It seems like if a person is interested in casual sex, it would be best to look at people who are open to the idea of casual sex. If it's like "hey, I think we're both interested in sex without commitment," then pursuing a girl because.sounds fine. The only reason this would be bad is because the guys seem to be implicitly buying into this idea that being "easy" is bad, shameful, or permanent.

      • S..

        " It would also be bad if their self-esteem issues made them think that they couldn't do better than you."

        Uhhhhh. You might have wanted to phrase that in a way that doesn't sound so… insulting.

  • The other thing is that guys are angry at women who want lots of sex with people who aren't them. It's a reaction to "rejection" that comes straight from the ego.

    1) I'm a great guy
    2) Girl A likes to have lots of sex with a variety of people, but has shown no interest in having sex with me.
    3) SOMETHING is wrong with that girl.

    It's a caustic and toxic logic that doesn't help anyone.

    • 'The other thing is that guys are angry at women who want lots of sex with people who aren't them.'

      Yeah, and that's 100% reasonable.

      Your number 3 is also incorrect, more often than not number 3 is more like:

      Something must be wrong with me because girl A isn't sexually attracted to me.

      Thinking the girl is missing out by not being with you might be an ego booster but it's advice that's given quite often with no mysogynistic tendencies whatsoever.

      • eselle28

        No, it's not reasonable to be angry at people for wanting to have sex with other people but not with you. Frustrated at yourself or at circumstances, sure, but nothing directed at other people. That's entitlement.

        There are definitely some guys who channel that set of circumstances into thinking something must be wrong with them, but there are others who conclude something is wrong with the woman. Hell, a dude who used to follow me around and Nice Guy me basically told me that he thought I was deeply disturbed because I had sex with a handful of other men over the course of that year, while he was right there and offering me a long term relationship. I must be crazy for passing up this chance to get what I really wanted. Except…I explicitly didn't want to be in a relationship at that time, and he knew that even if he didn't believe it.

        • 'No, it's not reasonable to be angry at people for wanting to have sex with other people but not with you. Frustrated at yourself or at circumstances, sure, but nothing directed at other people. That's entitlement. '

          The more that word is used as a buzzword kills what meaningfulness it has.

          The behavior you described is not entitlement, it's just focused frustration.

          • eselle28

            I elaborated a bit, and I'm sorry for the late edit.

            Being frustrated is fine when it's aimed at circumstances or at yourself. Pointing your frustration at other people for wanting nothing you don't also want for yourself is wrong.

          • It might be wrong, but call it what it is.

          • eselle28

            Well, I'd say it's also entitled. Let's take only the troublesome case, anger pointed at other people. Why are they angry? I'll welcome other suggestions, but the most common one I hear is that it's not fair. But to make things fair, that means some women would have to have sex with people they don't want to.

            I haven't encountered many people who claim that they think everyone ought to have sex with everyone else who desires them, and most of them have balked at the idea that they might be expected to have sex with unattractive elderly women or other men. What's left are a collection of theories about how women should dole out sex to please or reward men, without any attempt to acknowledge women's desire for sex with partners they find attractive, or a simple selfish attitude that the complainer's needs and wants are vastly more important than everyone else's. Both of those attitudes are horribly entitled, so I'm just fine using the word.

          • ' Let's take only the troublesome case, anger pointed at other people. Why are they angry? I'll welcome other suggestions, but the most common one I hear is that it's not fair. But to make things fair, that means some women would have to have sex with people they don't want to.'
            Anyone who uses some sort of fairness argument to justify their anger at people not sleeping with them are idiots, it might not be fair that other people get it without effort while they have to work, but that's not the fairness most people are talking about.
            What you mentioned in your second paragraph would be an actual entitlement mentality, but not mearly being angry even at a particular person. People get to be angry at whoever they want. The expressing of that anger is what makes it problematic.

          • eselle28

            Fairness is generally the explanation that I get when I engage with those people long enough to parse out why they think their anger is justified. If you can think of some other rationales for being angry at someone else for doing what they have a perfect right to do, I'll be happy to hear them, but suspect I wouldn't think very highly of them either.

            Sure, you can be angry at whoever you want. And other people can then feel that anger is entitled.

          • Sure, people get to be wrong.

          • LillyAnn

            You can hate the world if you want, but I think the point was having a healthier attitude about sex and rejection. You can sit in your room and stew until the cows come home, but what does that make you other than bitter?

            I've been mad a few times, sure, it's a visceral reaction sometimes when I was rejected, but what does that actually accomplish? Eating a bunch of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and then compulsively running 5 miles whilst hating myself?

            Fun as that sounds, I would rather chalk it up to "I'm not his type; obviously, he's not mine. Let's cross him off the list and find someone who is." At least then I can move forward rather than have continued stress added to my life, because god knows I need more stress.

          • LillyAnn

            *hate the world as an example of being angry and wrong

          • Akai

            Nobody's stopped you from doing it yet, so apparently yes.

          • FormerlyJay

            Let's remove the word "entitled" from this conversation, then. We'll simply replace it with "immature and juvenile." Better?

          • Jenn

            Sure the dude has a right to feel the way he wants to feel. But does the anger help anything? Does it get him what he wants? Because in the long run such an attitude is going to drive people away, and wind up creating a moebius strip of entitlement and anger.

          • Tea Fish

            I was going to respond to Chucky myself, but you pretty much 100% covered anything and everything I was going to say.

            There is pretty much no fucking way to get angry AT a woman (or anyone else) for not having sex with you without being a massively entitled baby. Thinking that someone should have had sex with you for X reasons, or that it's not okay for them to decline sex with you is pretty much the definition of entitlement.

          • 'There is pretty much no fucking way to get angry AT a woman (or anyone else) for not having sex with you without being a massively entitled baby.'
            Yes there is, I'm not saying it's healthy, but that doesn't meant it's entitled, I think you're just using the word as a knee jerk reaction without considering what's actually going on with the situation being discussed.
            You can think someone should be with you without thinking them declining is not allowed.

          • eselle28

            Is this going to turn into another one of these discussions where you parse the meanings of "rude" versus "disrespectful"? Because this is going to go better.Thinking you deserve to have someone else, regardless of that person's feelings in the matter, is entitlement the way most people use the term.

          • 'Thinking you deserve to have someone else, regardless of that person's feelings in the matter, is entitlement the way most people use the term'.
            Sure, however:
            Thinking you deserve to have someone else, while regarding their feelings and rights to have feelings opposite yours is not entitlement.

          • eselle28

            I can't think of any possible way to believe someone who doesn't want to be with you should be with you while also respecting that person's feelings. At some level, all of those arguments rest up on the theory that the other person is in some way misguided and that there's some set of objective (and generally very self-serving) requirements for a relationship that they've met and that the other person isn't acknowledging.

          • Thinking you deserve something doesn't mean you think you're entitled to it at the same time.

            'At some level, all of those arguments rest up on the theory that the other person is in some way misguided and that there's some set of objective (and generally very self-serving) requirements for a relationship that they've met and that the other person isn't acknowledging.'

            Not necessarily.

          • eselle28

            What do you even mean by deserving someone? We arrange relationships by common agreement. The only way people do "deserve" each other is if their partner wants to be with them. Nothing else matters.

            Give me an example of someone who thinks he deserves to be with a woman who doesn't want to, but who isn't trying to override or dismiss her own judgment any way, please.

          • I don't need to give you an example, you're making the fallacy of the excluded middle. It is possible for anyone to think they are deserving of a person's affection, have their affection go unrequited, and respect the feelings of the target of their affection. Please.

          • Mel_

            Please explain how a person can respect the feelings of someone who's not interested in them, and also be angry at that person at the same time. The whole point eselle was making is that if you're angry at someone for not feeling X, you're not respecting their right to feel Y–which is acting entitled to their feeling the way you want them to. If you did respect feeling Y as valid, what would there be to get angry at them about? Disappointed, sad, etc., sure. But anger by definition has to do with a sense of being wronged and/or that the other person deserves hostility.

          • enail

            I do think it's possible if you have the feeling of anger at someone, but acknowledge to yourself that it's an irrational thing to feel based on childish ideas of fairness.

            It's like when you dream your friend was mean to you, and you wake up and still feel the anger at them, but you know perfectly well it's not justified and that the only acceptable thing to do with the feeling is to wait it out.

          • vince

            its perfectly reasonable to see a specific case as representative of a greater injustice, and it doesn't make the person disrespectful.

            most likely these guys aren't actually angry at the girl in question. they're just reacting emotionally to being rubbed in the face with an emotionally painful fact.

            it's not childish, it's not entitlement and it's not dangerous (if it is, the person has far bigger problems than the above).

            why is it hard to understand this? i sure can sympathize and picture myself in their shoes.

          • FormerlyJay

            It's dangerous when the guy then goes and vents his anger into his echochamber of other guys with similar anger and they then they turn that anger into threats, vile insults, and rape threats against the women they're angry at. Or go further and actually rape the women they're angry at. After all, his bros who he's been venting with agree with him that the woman owed him, right? And thus he destroys his empathy for other human beings and justifies behaving repulsively towards them, rather than dealing with his anger constructively.

            Everyone feels anger, sure. No one is in complete control of their emotions. It's what you do about it, and how you examine yourself about your anger, that makes the difference. It's okay to feel anger, it's not okay to turn that anger into justification for harming other human beings.

          • eselle28

            I don't think there is any such thing as "deserving" someone else's affection. Period.

            If you could give me an example of someone who thinks he does without a whole mess of entitled stuff coming along with it, it would be genuinely helpful. I have never encountered a person who's supposedly in this excluded middle. After all, the fallacy only comes into play if there are other, unstated choices. To include this one, I think we need to discuss what it is.

            Of course, you can want someone else's affection, have it go unrequited, and respect the other person's feelings. But that leads to sadness or to negative feelings pointed at onself, not to anger at the other person.

          • 'But that leads to sadness or to negative feelings pointed at onself, not to anger at the other person.'

            It can lead to anger at the person.

          • eselle28

            Why are you angry at the other person?

          • Because you want them to be with you and they're not.

            Farily simple, and I never said it was healthy, just that it was reasonable…

          • eselle28

            That's pretty much the essence of unreasonable thinking.

            It's fairly common thinking, but that's not the same thing.

          • Mel_

            For someone who spends so much time telling other people they're using words wrong, you could use some work in that area yourself.

            Reasonable: "moderate, fair" "possessing of sound judgement".

            You've admitted that being angry at someone for not being with you isn't healthy, and is wrong. How can something be fair and of sound judgement while also unhealthy and wrong? That sounds like a direct contradiction to me.

          • It isn't healthy, but feelings of anger are normal.

            There is no contradiction.

            The reasonableness comes from the person having feelings of anger from the rejection.

            The anger itself isn't healthy, and is not necessarily reasonable, but that the feelings start to exist in the first place is reasonable.


          • eselle28

            Something being normal isn't the same as it being reasonable. You can have your feelings, not beat yourself up for having your feelings, and still recognize that your feelings are completely unreasonable. Emotions, in general, don't have a lot to do with reason.

            Hell. I was briefly annoyed because someone parked in "my" parking spot this morning. I was being completely unreasonable and entitled as can be, because I don't actually have any right to that particular spot and my inconvenience is no more important than anyone else's.

          • SpiltCoffee5

            Yet, you still torched their car…

          • eselle28

            That wasn't because of the parking spot dispute. That was because the stick figure family in their rear window had gone rabid and was in danger of infecting the entire city.

          • Mel_

            Oh, well, since you say so, obviously I should just ignore the definitions of the words given by the primary standard dictionary in the English language. 😛

            I think the word you're looking for is "understandable". I can *understand* why people feel angry about being rejected, even if I don't think it's *reasonable* (i.e., fair, moderate, sound judgement) for them to feel that way.

            Frankly, no feelings are "reasonable", because "reason" is the exact opposite of "emotion". You don't feel things because of your good or bad judgement; you just feel them. To say a particular emotion is reasonable suggests that even if the person did have logical control over their emotions, choosing to feel that way would be sound judgement, and I really don't see any way that a person choosing to feel angry at someone for not being romantically interested in them would be a fair or moderate response.

          • So, let me try to rephrase what you are saying to see if I understand it correctly.

            When a person gets rejected, sometimes they feel angry. It is normal to feel angry when you don't get something you want.

            Yes? No?

            This seems perfectly compatible with "Many guys are taught to see women's compliance with their desires as their baseline right, so any expression of a woman's existence as an independent human being provokes the anger of not getting what you want."

            Yes? No?

          • When a person gets rejected, sometimes they feel angry. It is normal to feel angry when you don't get something you want.


            This seems perfectly compatible with "Many guys are taught to see women's compliance with their desires as their baseline right, so any expression of a woman's existence as an independent human being provokes the anger of not getting what you want."


            No self respecting man thinks a woman's compliance with their desires is a baseline right, the very notion is ridiculous. I have never heard of this in real life. The only place I have ever heard of this is in feminist leaning forums like this one.

            Men WANT women who exists as independent human beings and they also want those independent women to want them out of their heart's desires. This is why many men don't like the idea of seeing prostitutes, because the women don't actually want them, just their money.

            Rejection after rejection after rejection, however, can lead to anger in general but enough rejections can lead to anger being directed at the woman doing the rejection.

            It is NOT because she is denying him some baseline right like DNL likes to parrot over and over, it's simply because she's adding to a long and ever growing list of failures.

            It isn't her fault she's doing that, she doesn't know, she is entitled to her own feelings on the matter, and there's only so much control any one regardless of gender over their own emotions.

            It's like anthropomorphizing nature and thinking bad things that happen in your life are the result of some force that's out to get you. Getting angry at the universe isn't going to do you any good but it just happens, same with being angry at a particular woman.

          • Mel_

            Well, I'm sure all the women here who've had men get angry at them and explicitly say it was because a) the woman did something that led the man to believe he was owed more than he'd been given (e.g., I had a guy rant at me because I didn't want to go on a second date, telling me that considering I'd been enthusiastic enough to suggest meeting up in the first place–we started talking through a dating site–I should have been willing to give him more time and another chance), and/or b) because the man felt what he was doing meant the woman owed him something in return if she was being fair (e.g., eselle's example above), will be glad to know that because you, Chucky, have not experienced this yourself, clearly we were just imagining it and such a thing never happens. 😛

            Or maybe you just haven't seen it that much because–gasp–you're a guy and guys don't tend to do it to other guys. Although there are certainly plenty of guys ranting about what a "bitch" a woman was for not dating him after he was so "good/nice" to her that can be found online, if you bother to look–and why would they bother mentioning how "good/nice" they were if they didn't think that should have made the women decide to date them regardless of whether the woman was actually attracted?

            Not to mention, there are plenty of guys who get angry at specific women without some "long and ever-growing" list of failures that's getting them down. I had a guy get mad at me for refusing to dance with him (when he asked me after the dance was over, in the school hallway) in grade *seven*. I'm pretty sure he hadn't been on the dating scene long enough to justify rejection fatigue.

            I certainly don't think that all guys feel they're owed a woman's attention, and I don't think all guys who get angry about rejections feel that way. But to suggest that there aren't guys who do is just as ridiculous.

          • I'll be kind and attribute your view of how the world works to optimism rather than selfishness. Either way, it's inaccurate.

          • And yours is accurate because of…reasons?

            To say men get mad at women because their rejection is denying some baseline 'right' is ridiculous.

          • I believe that my view is accurate because I've spent the last three years reading the extensive psychological literature on unconscious bias, just-world theory, gender schemas, and attribution styles, as part of my doctorate in psychology. I'm also a trained qualitative and quantitative researcher, so I know how to gather data and test my hypotheses.

            Your turn!

          • Engineer and physics researcher, not a social scientist but I know to gather data and test my hypotheses too.

          • So, if I claimed that the universe was ten thousand years old, would my background make you believe me? Or would you perhaps consider that I might not be an expert in the relevant field?

            Similarly, if I clung to the notion that the universe was ten thousand years old while refusing to investigate any empirical studies or listen to expert physicists, would you perhaps be skeptical of any claims I made to be committed to testing my own hypotheses?

          • SpiltCoffee5

            "The only place I have ever heard of this is in feminist leaning forums like this one. "

            Maybe you should analyse why that is that you only hear it on feminist leaning forums.

          • Max

            "Thinking you deserve to have someone else," period, is entitlement. You don't deserve (aka you are not entitled) to have anyone. That's unhealthy thinking and will only get you into trouble.

            This is what Wikipedia says: "the term "entitlement" refers to a notion or belief that one (or oneself) is deserving of some particular reward or benefit." Keyword: deserve.

          • Tea Fish

            I think you need to crack open a dictionary and also stop trying to words-lawyer what is gross and shitty to do, no matter what terms are used to describe it.

            Pray tell, how do you think that someone ought to be with you against their wishes while not dismissing their own choices.

          • 'Pray tell, how do you think that someone ought to be with you against their wishes while not dismissing their own choices.'

            Back off on the knee-jerk reactions and you might be able to see the whole picture.

            I never argued that someone ought to be with you against their wishes.

          • Tea_Fish

            If you think someone ought to be with you, and they've turned you down.

            Then you think they ought to be with you, even though they don't want to be. Against their wishes.

            You realize that it means the same thing.

            I take issue with the sense that someone "ought" to be with another person at all, ever. You can call it a kneejerk reaction, but I've encountered enough people whose kneejerk reactions to "No thanks," were "But WAIT, here is my shpeal about how you ~ought~ to go out with me," or "You fucking bitch," to recognize entitlement when it's on display.

          • anon

            "You can think someone should be with you without thinking them declining is not allowed"

            There's no one who hates being called entitled more than an entitled person.

          • SpiltCoffee5

            "You can think someone should be with you without thinking them declining is not allowed."

            Heck, even that idea alone is bad. You would still be allowing yourself to get hung up on the idea that this one person is perfect or something like that, and even if you do accept their rejection, if you have this thought floating around in your head unchecked, it isn't going to do you any favours.

            I would recommend to avoid the idea that you (general you) "should be with this person"/"this person should be with you". Even if it doesn't make you come across as entitled in your words and actions, there is definitely a chance it would be doing some damage to your perception of dating.

          • isdzan

            I might be misinterpreting Chucky’s “deserving”, but I think he means that the rejected person is still a human with sexual value, despite the rejection, hence “deserving” of sex in the general sense, but not from that specific person.

            FWIW I think the anger from rejection tends to stem from disappointment and the not good part of it is the emotional redirection. Feeling disappointed hurts, feeling angry gives an adrenaline pop, so people turn their disappointment into anger to direct the hurt away from themselves.

          • At least someone got what I was saying, for the most part.

          • eselle28

            I honestly think even that idea of everyone "deserving" sex or love or affection or friendship is fairly troublesome. I understand it's meant to be a salve for people who don't think they deserve the sex or love or affection or friendship they are getting, but it generally doesn't seem to work. It also has a nasty habit of migrating into only certain people actually deserving those things – starting with winnowing out serial killers and abusers as undeserving and sometimes moving on to only people like the person speaking deserving good things. I think it's often better to look at these things as being freely, and not always rationally, given and to take the concept of deserving things out of it entirely.

            As for anger at rejection, I think some feelings of that sort are very normal and very common and not always terribly unhealthy. I don't think they're reasonable, at all, and I do think that if they're explored most of them come from a place of entitlement. Ordinary people are unreasonable and entitled all the time – listen to people tell stories about driving in traffic and finding parking.

          • I think there's an important distinction here between the feeling of anger when you don't get something you want, and a toxic culture that teaches men to want and expect unreasonable things. You can believe that it's okay to be angry when you don't get what you think you ought to have, and also believe that our culture teaches women to expect too little and men to expect too much. At least I do!

          • Tea_Fish

            I agree, sort of, but I would argue that things fall into a murky potentially very bad territory when the things you get angry about not having include people and access to people's genitals. Disappointment and anger often come paired, but they don't necessarily have to, and I think it's important that people learn to recognize anger (especially disproportionate anger) as a bad response to disappointment. You'll only ever end up more disappointed.

  • Yet another amazing post. Thank you!

  • Sam

    Hey Doc-

    first of all, good post.

    Second of all, I don’t see why it is necessary to make the post more controversial than it has to be by including problematic statements like “sexual strategies theory” is claiming that every human action and desire is cause by biology. As far as I’m aware the only people making monocausal statements about behaviour are blank slate sociologists, not a few of whom are feminists. If such statements are made, they are certainly indefensible, I’ve just not heard anyone arguing in favour of Sexual Strategies theory actually claiming that.

    Also, male “sex drive”, “libido”, etc. Notwithstanding confirmation bias in research – which requires scepticism regardig research, but doesn’t as such invalidate research, most research and meta research done on the subject concludes that men have a “higher inclination” towards sex. Female sex scientist Emily Nagoski. who doesn’t like the term “sex drive”, and is certainly more careful and precise in her wording and the context of such statements than I can be, writes on the subject:

    It’s not male bias in science, though male bias exists. It’s not just differences and problems in reporting, though that exists too. The results are too robust to doubt.


    She also says that the interpersonal differences are much more interesting and much more diverse than the population-based differences – because populations don’t have sex, people do.

    At the population level, men, on average, have a higher interest in sex than women. At the same time, women, as a population are more variable than men are. Here look at this:


    My point is, don’t make your points weaker by making blank slate statements – possibly because your audience is largely feminist and has a intuitive allergic reaction against statements about “biology” – when all available evidence points towards human behaviour to be a complex blend of nature *and* nurture.

    It’s both, not either/or.

    • SpiltCoffee5

      Could you, like, maybe, select quotes (and reference them in your response) from the article before criticising DNL's statements?

      I'm having a hard time matching what you're saying to what the article is saying; it honestly feels like you're arguing against things DNL never did, because I don't see clearly what you're arguing against.

      • Sam

        One, with respect to the blank slate.

        "The goal of evo-psych is to show that our modern behavior is inborn, that everything from whom we’re attracted to, to social dynamics, is born out of evolution instead of societal change.Women, for example, are built for monogamy and are less interested in sex in general – so the theory goes – because sperm is metaphorically cheap while eggs are expensive; there is less metabolic cost to men for producing sperm, while women not only generate the ovum, but place their health and safety at risk by bearing the child. It follows, then, that men are naturally not inclined to monogamy because their lizard-brains tell them that they need to spread their cheap sperm far and wide to better maximize their potential for offspring. Women, on the other hand, hold back sex in exchange for status, protection and resources; they want to maximize their individual offspring’s chances to survive… and sexual access is the currency they have to offer."

        The "sex drive" aspect as "only cultural" is implied throughout the text.

        • LillyAnn

          Not to word nazi (since it's such an issue in earlier parts of this thread, but do you mean "blanket statement"? Because I also am struggling to understand…

  • Sam


    Except it’s not true; women want to get laid just as much as men do and for the same reasons. Sometimes they want emotional intimacy or to feel desired. Sometimes they’re bored and it’s something to do. Sometimes it’s a way of proving something to themselves or to others. And sometimes they’re just horny and want to fuck.

    That's a funny ideal-world statement at the end of a blogpost explaining why the statement isn't true – at the moment – women, despite being sexual beings, and potentially even wanting similar sex for similar reasons as men do, but *don't* and *can't* because of society's demands.

    Problem is: while there is no alternative to slowly changing the social conditions, it's not "the magic recipe to getting more sex" for anyone *right now*. This is a generational – at best – task. As much as I agree with your prescriptions, I think it's also important to note that the harsh truth is that individual change will very likely *not* lead to more individual sex. I think creating the impression that it would may well lead to disappointment of the nice-guy-kind. So, I'd be careful about that.

    • SpiltCoffee5

      "Problem is: while there is no alternative to slowly changing the social conditions, it's not "the magic recipe to getting more sex" for anyone *right now*."

      I don't think DNL promised in the article anywhere that it would be a quick trick you could do to improve your sex life. 😛

      • Sam

        "The Unbelievable Secret To Getting More Sex"?

        • SpiltCoffee5

          Yeah, and where does it say "quick" or "right now"?

          • Sam

            You're kidding, right?

          • SpiltCoffee5

            I'm quite serious, good sir. You have given me the impression that you have a problem with the speed of which DNL's prescription will take effect, and I'm just pointing out he never said it would be quick – there's no "please contact your doctor if symptoms persist after 2 months of application" label here.

            If I have misunderstood what your issue is here, I will apologise for the confusion.

          • Sam

            No, I don't have a problem with the speed with which those prescriptions might take effect, just that the general tone suggests that individual behavioral change will lead to more individual sex. Become a feminist ally. Get more sex. That's not how it works. Society may eventually change and that may lead to a more open approach to sexuality as such, which may possibly also benefit you, but because this stuff takes forever, it very likely won't. Don't expect your behavioural change to benefit you personally. That's one of the fundamental problems with change: it's good in theory, but those making the investments won't get anything out of it and those who benefit don't have to make the investment.

          • SpiltCoffee5

            "No, I don't have a problem with the speed with which those prescriptions might take effect, just that the general tone suggests that individual behavioral change will lead to more individual sex."

            Ah, ok. Well, true, if only one individual was to change, fuck all would happen to the general odds of everyone everywhere sleeping with another person. I think what DNL is saying is to become the change we wish to be, and encourage society to change to benefit everyone. It isn't a quick solution, it isn't an easy solution, heck, it isn't even a guaranteed solution! But it's still something that we can consider, and I for one am down with this shiz.

            "Become a feminist ally. Get more sex."

            My understanding of what DNL was claiming here was that becoming a feminist ally and fighting for the goals that feminism wishes to achieve would result in a society where women are able to take control of their sexuality, which should have the side effect of increasing the chances having sex for both women and people who would like to sleep with women of. How much this chance is is unknown; DNL assumes the chances change for the better dramatically.

            I think there's probably a few more steps that needed to be added in your summary of that point, in the end, because it's not a case of one-two-question-mark-profit. 😛

            "Society may eventually change and that may lead to a more open approach to sexuality as such, which may possibly also benefit you, but because this stuff takes forever, it very likely won't."

            I, on the other hand, believe we as a society can accomplish such changes eventually. It'll take a while, I'll give you that much, but I'm in it personally for the long haul. Plus I just feel better as a human being knowing that I'm doing stuff that isn't unintentionally hurting other human beings. (That does get into a discussion of being unable to avoid hurting other people throughout your life, which we should avoid because it's beside the point.)

            "That's one of the fundamental problems with change: it's good in theory, but those making the investments won't get anything out of it and those who benefit don't have to make the investment."

            Well, if the change takes a long time and you end up dying or getting to an age where what you're trying to do does not affect you, yeah, sure, you may not get anything out of it except the self-realisation you did something to make it easier or better for others and that's it. I'm ok with that.

            On a side note, isn't "individual sex" just masturbation? 😛

          • Sam

            "Plus I just feel better as a human being knowing that I'm doing stuff that isn't unintentionally hurting other human beings."

            Which is a much better reason than the expectation of sex.

            "Well, if the change takes a long time and you end up dying or getting to an age where what you're trying to do does not affect you, yeah, sure, you may not get anything out of it except the self-realisation you did something to make it easier or better for others and that's it. I'm ok with that."

            And that's great. But someone who may not be as altruistic as you may read this and think: I get more sex if i do x y, z. And that's not going to work. And it will lead to disappointment and potentially anger if x,y,z don't have the assumed result. Again, I believe, this kind of thinking is a major contributing factor in the creation of the Nice Guy line of thinking. It's at least potentially giving the impression that this kind of – by and large political – behaviour is responsible for creating *individual* sexual attraction. And it usually won't do that. I think it may add to a personality, but this is not the unbelievable secret for getting more sex as a person.

          • enail

            Agreed. But, except for the hyperbolic intro which I saw as clearly parodic, I don't think DNL was in any way suggesting it was really an 'unbelievable secret for getting more sex as a person.'

          • Sam


            "Yes, I’m advocating being a feminist ally because it’ll help you get laid. Remember what I said about enlightened self-interest? It applies just as much here."

            The adage that a rising tide lifts all boats applies to equality as much as it does to finance. Helping work towards equality and social change is in your own best interest. And besides: allies are sexy as hell."

          • Mel_

            "It will help you get laid" does not equal "it will get you laid".

          • Sam

            Oh, c'mon. Who else will make that distinction?

          • Mel_

            Er, pretty much every human being who's capable of baseline rational thought? It's standard English that "will help you achieve ___" doesn't mean "guarantees you ___ all by itself".

            When teachers tell high school students, "Going to college will help you get a good job," the vast majority of us understand that doesn't mean, "if you go to college, you will definitely get a good job". DNL regularly gives advice like "building confidence will help you succeed in dating", but the vast majority of us understand this doesn't mean "as soon as you're confident, you'll definitely being going on dates."

            I understand that some people grasping at straws might allow themselves to hope that X advice is a quick fix measure, but given that the on-going theme of this blog is that improving yourself and your situation requires time and work, and there are no absolute guarantees, I really think those people need to take responsibility for themselves and their leaps in logic. It's not like when DNL does write to the lowest common denominator, and spell out explicitly that people can't expect to be guaranteed success just by doing X, he doesn't then get guys complaining that he's treating them like idiots and why can't he focus on ideas beyond what almost everyone already knows.

            I actually agree with you, as I've said elsewhere, that this article isn't perfect and people making that leap in logic on this topic is particularly problematic. But I think you're overstating the problem and the article's culpability in it.

          • Sam

            But I think you're overstating the problem and the article's culpability in it.</blockquoet>

            I hope you're right.

          • eselle28

            I'd agree that it's certainly not a magic ticket. I would say that, depending on a person's social life and how they usually look for partners, it's possible it may lead to some small changes in people's personal lives if we're talking about things in terms of years rather than days or months – not because it will change the world at large but because you at least won't be taking yourself out of the running when you do happen across people who are more open about sex.

            That cute woman on OkCupid won't click "Hide" when she sees you'd judge a woman for sleeping with a guy on the first date, the women in your geeky circles (a lot of whom are feminists) might feel more comfortable flirting or being sexual with you, people who move in circles where people have less traditional views about relationships might be more interested in being friends with you. It's not a magic bullet. It's not going to work if you aren't otherwise able to be attractive to potential partners. Trying to fake it or promote it too hard will be detected and earn you some scorn.

            But I think that for some people, working on this might open up some more opportunities in the long term (with this being a million times more the case for men who have particular desires, like wanting to find women who will tolerate or enjoy a particular fetish, but who have generally sex negative attitudes).

          • Sam

            "It's not a magic bullet. It's not going to work if you aren't otherwise able to be attractive to potential partners. Trying to fake it or promote it too hard will be detected and earn you some scorn."

            Exactly. Doing it for the wrong reasons will probably hurt more than help.

            Look, I'm totally behind the point that there's a possibility for a pleasure positive society, and I certainly hope that whatever small investment I make to get there will eventually also benefit me. But I don't expect it to happen. And I think only making that investment for oneself would be the wrong reason, and may possibly make it even more difficult to convince people to actually invest in something with a completely unknown return in a very distant future.

          • eselle28

            Sure, and if it's solely for the wrong reason, I wouldn't encourage it.

            But, if someone says to himself the sentiment I wrote above, "Hmm, maybe there is something about the way I think about sex that is causing problems. I guess I could read a book or two…" I'm not going to discourage that. There are a lot of guys who are already there and who have other stuff to work on. There are a lot of guys who aren't ever going to get there, for various reasons. But it's not a terrible idea to put forth to a broad group of men, especially very young ones who don't have anything really invested in being sex negative. There might not be anything to gain by being sex positive, at least for some men, but it's not like there's much to gain by being sex negative unless you're in a very conservative culture and aiming at marrying a very similar girl.

          • Sam

            " I'm not going to discourage that.

            Of course not. My concern was only with the reasoning for doing so, not with the doing so itself.

          • LeeEsq

            What if you just don't have any particular desires or fetishes but just want to have normal, heterosexual sex?

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Then being pro-feminist and sex-positive merely improves your chances. If I'm reading eselle correctly, she's saying that, if you've got a freaky side, you're going to have a hell of a lot of trouble indulging it if your prospective partners get the impression you're going to judge them harshly for being into the same freaky shit you are. And she's right.

          • Sam

            Yeah, but if you have a freaky side, chances are you won't be having that problem in the first place. This is, I believe, much more of a mainstream problem.

          • eselle28

            That is absolutely, completely, utterly false. There are lots, and lots, and lots of men (and to a lesser extent women) who are incredibly judgmental about sex when it comes to everything except their own particular fetish, and some other even sadder people who are judgmental about everything including their own particular fetish.

            If you want a picture of who this is, it's the dude who marries a vanilla woman and then 25 years later gets tired of not having the sort of sex he wants and tries to pressure her into fulfilling his fantasy, or the woman who doesn't even try to talk about what turns her on and just reads a lot of erotic literature when her husband's gone, or the guy who will spring for a professional domination session twice a year when his wife is out of town, or the unicorn hunters who pester single bisexual women for threesomes because they can't deal with interacting with poly women who might have partners and feelings and desires of their own.

          • LeeEsq

            See Elliot Spitzer.

          • eselle28

            There's nothing wrong with that. It's not like the sex positive folks are trying to break into your house and force you to develop a leather fetish!

            GH sums it up correctly. Other people, who are interested in things outside the norm, will often need to get on board with this attitude if they hope to find partners. Otherwise, they'll essentially end up scaring away the very people who are going to be open-minded about their tastes.

            As for everyone else, being sex positive can be helpful for people who are looking for casual sexual activity. It's not necessary, since I think we all know many sex negative people who are quite successful at picking people up. It's not sufficient by itself, since there are guys who are super sex positive who have trouble for other reasons. But I do know a number of guys who aren't otherwise amazingly good with women who sort of stumble into having quite a lot of sex because they hang around with women who like to have and will sometimes initiate casual sex. Being sex positive helps with that sort of thing, because it means you're more likely to know those women in the first place and that they're more likely to see you as an eligible partner.

          • Sam

            Hmm, yes, but – isn't it more likely the other way around? Knowing those women will increase the likelihood of agreeing with sex positive positions. But agreeing with sex positive positions in itself will not in itself increase the likelihood of running into women who happen to initiate casual sex…

          • eselle28

            You're not necessarily going to fall into that sort of social group, regardless of your opinions. That depends on other things, like where you live and the scope of your social life.

            But if you do run across sex positive people or want to seek out circles where that sort of behavior is more common, being sex negative isn't exactly going to make you friends. At minimum, it will flag you as someone who's fine enough to invite over for gaming sessions but probably not a good idea for a hookup.

          • Mel_

            How much of an "investment" does it take to avoid judging women based on their sexual behavior, avoid talking in ways that contribute to normalizing/excusing rape and speaking up when you hear someone else doing so, and generally being supportive of women's equality? Honestly, these seem like pretty basic expectations of a decent human being, not something someone should see as extra effort to get themselves more sex. You make it sound as if it's just too much trouble for most guys to bother doing the above unless they're guaranteed somewhat immediate concrete benefits for themselves, which is a really pessimistic view of men, if I may say so.

            Anyway, DNL points out some very immediate concerns: there are laws in the works right now restricting abortion, birth control access, etc. You don't think there's an immediate effect on women's frequency of having sex, especially sex with new partners, when things like that are passed? Sure, speaking up about it doesn't guarantee any specific woman will have sex with you specifically, but it could certainly raise your personal chances of finding a sexual partner in the near future… which is all any of the advice offered here can do. (It's not like "work on your confidence" or "wear better fitting clothes" or whathaveyou guarantee you sex–they just raise your chances.)

          • Sam

            "Honestly, these seem like pretty basic expectations of a decent human being, not something someone should see as extra effort to get themselves more sex."

            Exactly. But for those not naturally inclined to doing so, giving the impression that it will lead to more sex will create both problematic incentives and problematic expectations. That's pretty much the point I'm making.

            "You don't think there's an immediate effect on women's frequency of having sex, especially sex with new partners, when things like that are passed?"

            Not really. I think that this kind of behaviour is based on cultural conventions and psychology that are not too likely to be affected by laws. Laws passed now will create the cultural conditions influencing future women. That's what I'm saying: This kind of change, be it positive or negative, takes ages to have a large scale behavioral impact, if it actually has the intended impact at all. That's why I think it's important to be clear about the right and the wrong reasons to "invest" (however small the investment may be individually). It's about the future, and the common good, don't expect to get laid for being fair and nice to women as a group. This kind of misunderstanding is, I believe, a major reason for a lot of the nice guy dynamic, that so many people complain about so often. Also, giving people the impression of a certain likelihood of individual rewards may well "crowd out" otherwise altruistic motives. There's an age-old conflict in behavioral economics about blood donations – paying people for blood may lead to getting less donations. This is a similar case, in my opinion.

          • LeeEsq

            Sam, you are doing an excellent job expressing my criticism of the post. Your doing a better job than I did above. Good work.

            I realize that DNL probably intended his opening to be a sort of hook and a joke on PUA. The problem is that a lot of people really want sex and that this desire kind of affects their ability to think rationally. A lot of people make their living by preying on this sort of desperation about sex, love, or a myriad of other desires. A lot of people are going to read this post at face-value, they might be kind of dim to do so but its going to happen. Thats why it might have been better if DNL did not try to start with a hook and took a more honest approach to his message.

          • Mel_

            I thought DNL did a pretty good job of laying out why behaving those ways was good for society, and wasn't just about being nice to get laid, but I take your point that some people could read it that way. I agree it's problematic for people to decide to be "decent" solely so they can hopefully get more sex. I don't think it's a problem if they hope (but don't feel entitled) to get more sex while also wanting to benefit society as a whole, though.

            And I do think that laws can have an immediate impact on group behavior in society. I don't have any stats at hand on women's sexual behavior relative to legal changes, but I know there were a huge number of gay couples getting married as soon as that became legal in some parts of North America (even crossing state and national borders in order to do so if it wasn't legal in their specific locale). It didn't take a generation, or even a year, for the idea that they could now get legally married to sink in, even though there's still a strong cultural attitude in the US that marriage is only for a man and a woman. So I would be surprised if birth control suddenly becoming twice as hard to access, for example, didn't also result in a fairly immediate change in the sexual decisions of many (though not all) women. Not that this means men should get involved expecting it'll mean a woman will definitely have sex with them because of it–I just don't think the effects take as long to have a noticeable impact as you're suggesting.

          • Sam

            "It didn't take a generation, or even a year, for the idea that they could now get legally married to sink in, even though there's still a strong cultural attitude in the US that marriage is only for a man and a woman."

            No, but these people were already living as married couples in every way, except for the legal confirmation, hey didn't decide that they could now become gay because gay marriage was legally available. It did take decades for the social climate to change in a way that would now legally allow gay marriage. Sometimes laws come at the end of a process, sometimes they start a process, but the behavioral impact always takes a long time.

          • Mel_

            Yeah, but I'm not arguing that women who were taking new sex partners once a week will suddenly become celibate (which is the approximate equivalent of "I guess I'll suddenly become gay!"). If people who grew up never expecting or being encouraged to think they could ever get married can still want that and go for it as soon as it's available to them, then it doesn't seem like that big a leap to me to think that if women suddenly find birth control significantly harder to come by, some of them will want to become somewhat more cautious in their sexual behavior. I mean, if a person can decide not to have sex in the moment when they really want to because there's no condom on hand, why on earth couldn't they have a longer term change in whether they have sex or not based on their options for protection? All it takes is, say, one ripped condom or forgotten pill scare where a woman realizes she now can't get Plan B over the counter for her to rethink how the risk-benefit ratio of casual sex–a huge cultural shift is hardly required for a whole lot of small scale changes, which add up.

            When you have to resort to absurdities like "they didn't decide to become gay because gay marriage was available" to argue your point, you might consider that maybe your point is a little too extreme. I'm not saying huge societal changes usually immediately follow law changes, only that sometimes smaller behavioral changes can follow immediately, and it certainly doesn't always take a full generation (which is what you suggested earlier about "future women") for even a substantial change to happen.

          • Sam

            It certainly depends on what kind of law and what kind of population, sure. But in general, I think most activist people tend to vastly overestimate the impact of legal changes in the short run and underestimate their impact, as well as their unintended effects, in the LONG run.

            “The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” (JM Keynes)

          • enail

            But the fact of them getting married did noticeably change the way other people responded to their relationship. Immediately. I speak from personal experience.

          • eselle28

            Sure, the change didn't come instantly. But I basically live in Hicksville, and I can tell you that it's come pretty quickly. I graduated high school 15 years ago. There were a handful of older gay adults in our town, but there wasn't a single kid in my class of several hundred who was out, and there weren't any young gay adults in town either because they all moved elsewhere.

            My state doesn't have marriage equality yet and it's still not the most tolerant place in the world, but those things I mentioned above have changed. There are quite a few young gay people who are open about it now, both at school/work and to their families, and not all of them leave as soon as they turn 18. That's huge.

          • enail

            While I definitely won't argue that social change is extremely slow, it is quite possible to have pretty significant impacts in short enough periods of time that many of the people working towards change do indeed get to reap the benefits. Look at gay rights, for example – the work people did even 10 years ago (building, of course, on earlier efforts, but the stuff we're talking about here also has groundwork to build on) has in many cases had a pretty major effect on their lives right now.

        • hobbesian

          In my opinion it's pure and simple clickbait. Cause if he named it anything else, half the people who come here wouldn't have bothered to read it.

          I agree with the entire article.. it's all good advice.. but selling it as a secret to getting more sex.. in anything approaching a normal human lifespan.. is more than a trifle hyperbolic. The kinds of things this article proscribes happen in a time scale which is generational at BEST… these changes are good changes.. they just aren't directly beneficial to the people who are reading this website…

          • Jess

            Hey, we're all in this together right? What's wrong with carving out a corner of the internet where we try to do things better, then drawing others in with a little clickbait?

          • hobbesian

            I'm afraid it's just going to make people angry and ignore the advice.. since there was not an obvious "fix" at the end..

            I mean generally speaking the articles on this site kind of sell something.. they sell that self improvement.. be that attitude.. clothing.. behavior.. appearance.. etc.. will help.. this article will "help" society, but only help the individual directly.. it's well and good to say enlightened self interest.. but the really cynical part of me just thinks that what you'd be doing is helping the kids of the guys who aren't going to follow this advice, and who are going to get laid anyway cause they know how to play the social game…

            Of course maybe I'm just reading it wrong and the title is actually supposed to be ironic and a reference to those "one weird trick" ads that show up on facebook all the time..

          • hobbesian

            individual indirectly*

          • enail

            I took it as ironic, from the over-the-top phrasing.

          • Sam

            Have you ever seen irony work on the web? 😉

          • enail

            Often for a significant enough majority that I wouldn't call for a ban on online irony just yet. But no, never for 100% of readers.

          • hobbesian

            I have problems picking up "irony" in real life too… almost to the point where when I talk to Hipsters who are doing everything ironically.. they get just as confused as me.. cause they aren't sure if I'm being ironic or not..

            BRAMMMMMPPHHHHHH hipster-ception.

        • Max

          I suggest you google "sarcasm" and "jokes."

  • Tea Fish

    While it's extremely important to acknowledge women's sexuality and sexual agency (especially if you ever plan on having sex with a woman/be a woman having sex ever), it's important to recognize both ends of the spectrum here and that you can't go into any encounter with any woman thinking, "Great, she wants to have sex just as much as I do. It's just up to me to persuade her…" Every person (and their sex drive) is different and individual; some women are really not into having sex at all/casual sex/sex with specific people. And it goes the same for men– some men are really not into having sex at all/casual sex with anyone who offers/sex with specific people. It hurts everyone to make automatic assumptions about their sexual desires (or lack thereof).

    Believe people when they indicate what they want ("No, thanks." "YES take me now." "Not today but maybe later." "I'd like to do THIS but not THAT") and err on the side of restraint when they can't or won't. And definitely don't try to convince them if they've already said no to something– it's obnoxious and immensely gross no matter who's doing it.

    • But then I would have to think for myself and not have pop culture spoon feed me my patterns of behaviour! How would I seek external validation for my sexual preferences then!? Thinking makes my brain hurt 🙁

      Real talk: your comment should go into the constitution, Geneva convention., ten commandments and the D&D rulebooks.

    • LeeEsq

      I agree with this, I think that it might be generally safer to presume no consent than to presume consent. I think that a lot of problems with rape culture are a result of men presuming consent. My general assumption is that there is no consent.

    • FormerlyJay

      And there's also hormone cycles, mood changes, and whatever else is going on in the woman/man's life. This is especially crucial when you're having sex with someone beyond the first encounter. Just because your partner was up for it the first time is no guarantee they'll be up for it the next time.

  • Thereal McCoy

    Well, if societal change is the key to men getting more sex from women, screw sex positivity. End rape culture. Now THAT will get you laid.

    • To take a page out of DNL's book of semantics.

      There is no rape culture.

      There are some people who are apologists pertaining to rape.

      That doesn't imply that there is a culture of rape apologetics born out of the patriarchy.

      • Robjection

        Because the default response of the vast majority of people to a woman being raped is not to nitpick ways in which the woman was 'asking for it', but instead it is to offer sympathy to the woman and make sure that the perpetrator is suitably punished for their crime.

        Oh wait …

        • I hear this parroted alot here, but don't see any evidence that this is a societal standard.

          There is no rape culture, there exist rape apologists but that doesn't imply that their thinking is the societal standard.

          • Robjection

            Wasn't there that thing in the news (I forget what it's called) that bemoaned the fact that a couple of rapists' lives were ruined forever or something? That never would have worked as a news story if rape culture were not a societal standard.

          • fakely_mctest

            Oh yeah, that was CNN and their lament over the effing STEUBENVILLE rapists. You know, that case where a 16 year old was gang-raped on camera. Much more evidence than your run-of-the-mill rape case and still the handwringing over the fate of the rapists.

            Not directed at anyone in particular, but that case still gets my dander way up.

          • Robjection

            Ah yes, that was the one. Thanks for reminding me.

          • Still not a societal standard. Scouted athletes everywhere have a network for getting them out of trouble, pandering to the media to give them positive attention even in the light of crimes is not out of their reach. In no way does that imply that the societal standard is a culture of rape apologetics, it never did and it never will.

        • vince

          im curious about where youre getting the "vast majority" part from?

          most people are decent human beings, and ive heard men ranging from super macho men to nerds cursing at the tv over some news report where a womans gotten raped.

          we often talk about confirmation bias, so what about confirmation bias in regards to being blind to the vast majority of men who loathe whats happening to women, and who understandably dont know what to do about it, as is the case with most of the social issues that plagues society?

          youre seeing problems anywhere, so how does this mean the majority of men are represented by the idiots who curse women for being sluts?

          • vince

            for the record i agree rape is a huge problem, but stop pinning it on "the majority of men" unless you can actually PROVE that they are siding with the destructive ones

          • Joy

            Robjection didn't say "the majority of men" but "the majority of people." Women can be just as shaming and complicit in rape culture as men, and indeed can often be more so. If I had to armchair psychologist the situation, I'd guess some of that is due to fear–if you can point to something the rape victim did "wrong," then if you avoid doing that thing and instead do everything "right," clearly it won't happen to you.

          • Robjection

            The thing is, perpetrating a horrible cultural message is not mutually exclusive with being a decent human being, nor is the perpetrating always done deliberately and out of malice.

            It's going to take some pretty big stuff to stop it though, and I'd wager at least most of those decent human beings have the power to cause that pretty big stuff to happen. If they do not know how, they can ask. A person who doesn't use that power is officially neutral at best, and neutrality helps the oppressor, not the oppressed.

          • vince

            agreed, but you were talking about how the vast majority of people like to nitpick and find ways to blame the victim, and to me this looks like confirmation bias.

            people rarely engage in social issues. it doesnt mean they agree or support the people who say these horrible things about rape victims.

            theres a difference between being a neutral and uninformed citizen and being a horrible person/rape shamer, and it sounded like you were trying to claim that most people belong to the horrible type.

          • But most of them don't think it's horrible to say things like, "Are you sure you didn't lead him on?" Those are things our culture says are neutral and normal, not horrible. It's perfectly possible to feel that you're being neutral while shaming people for rape, because our whole culture is set up to tell you the things you're saying are normal and not awful at all.

            The point is that the "neutral" of our culture IS rape-shamey and that is why a lot of well-intentioned people end up behaving that way, even though they wouldn't act horrible if they realized what they were doing.

          • Robjection

            "theres a difference between being a neutral and uninformed citizen and being a horrible person/rape shamer"


            I'll admit that, for this next bit, the evidence is anecdotal, but hopefully it will help you understand what I'm getting at.

            The other day, a police officer was going around our street handing out these leaflets asking for any witnesses to a case of sexual assault that happened last night to come forward. I didn't get the chance to read this leaflet, but my parents and grandparents did, and their first reaction was pretty much "She should've known better than to go out alone at night".

            These people were not horrible "rape shamers". They were neutral and uninformed citizens. And yet, rather than sympathize with the victim, they jumped straight on the victim blame train.

    • LeeEsq

      Ending rape culture would be a good thing but it won't get anybody laid. What will get people laid is meeting somebody that wants to have sex with them that they want to have sex with. Or multiple if you are into that sort of thing but the mechanics of group sex always seemed troublesome and the intimacy level lacking.

      • Gentleman Horndog

        "Ending rape culture would be a good thing but it won't get anybody laid."

        If more women feel free to express sexual desire or advertise sexual availability without fear of getting raped, I guarantee somebody's getting laid.

  • Diana Prince

    Thank you Dr. NerdLove!!!! My God/dess, it's a man who gets it!
    I was extremely blessed to go to a college where the word "slut" wasn't part of the culture, and the college's main focus was on preventing rape, STD transmission and homophobia, not everyone's natural sexual urges. I fooled around with many men (and some ladies) *because it was fun and I wanted to.* It was a joyful expression of who I am. Who doesn't like the thrill of the chase?
    I have no problem being monogamous when I am in love, but otherwise why shouldn't I take pleasure when it's offered? After a long dry spell I've taken a lover for the summer, he's Italian and a masseur. He comes over, is very focused on making me happy, we have great naughty sex and then I go on with my day until the next time. I find most men are kind of needy and if I sleep with them they start to want a relationship, but so far so good with this fellow. We just make each other feel good, it's so nice.
    As long as both parties are respectful and very honest about where they are emotionally, it can be very nice. Not everyone can have sex without getting attached (women or men), but for those who can it can be really fun.
    Dark side note: I got raped, and took the guy to court and the judge completely judged me for being sexually active at 17. The guy walked free, no consequences. That was a long time ago, but Dr. NL is totally right: there is a double standard, and it's institutionalized.

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  • Oisin

    I don’t think I like calling myself a feminist ‘ally’. I’d call myself a feminist, is there something in the definition of feminism that means a man can’t be one (this isn’t a snark btw, my knowledge of it is Feminism 101 level)? Feminist ally just sounds silly to me.

    • trixnix

      I think you can just call yourself a "feminist" if you're a man or a woman. That said, I could be a Judaism ally and not a Jew. I could show support for Muslims and not be one. So perhaps "feminist ally" is a good term for those who support feminism/equality but wish to not go the whole hog and identify themselves as feminists. Just me thinking aloud.

      • LeeEsq

        The term is philosemite, Philo (lover of) Semites (literally a speaker of a Semitic language but really only refers to Jews despite certain protestations from some very dumb people in order to hide their Jew-hatred).

    • Because men calling themselves feminist sometimes speak over/get credit for work done by/hijack conversations about women. Which is really only a nitpicking point if you're into the activist scene.

      • enail

        Yep, some people prefer feminist ally for this reason, primarily in very activisty circles, but many people are fine with men identifying as feminist themselves and I think you'd be fine doing that in most general situations.

  • alsophian

    In the Talmud, Adam’s first wife Lilith is expelled from Eden for trying to take the superior role in sex – riding her husband rather than laying back and thinking of Babylon; after her expulsion she goes on to lay with the wild beasts of the desert and becomes the mother of demons.

    Wait, that's where the name of Lilith Fair came from? How on Earth did I make it to 24 without knowing this?

    • LeeEsq

      You weren't curious enough to use the internet to look it up? You didn't ask anybody?

  • LeeEsq

    I'm still struggling to understand what it really mean to be sex-positive as opposed to sex-negative. I understand the basics of it but there is one thing that is particular troubling to me. Mainly, the idea that you have to be non-judgmental. What does it really mean to be non-judgmental? Do you have to be non-judgmental about everything sexual except the things that are supposed to be universally despised like non-consensual sex? Because there are a few things that I really can't bring myself to be supportive of in good faith or even neutral to even though they might be consensual. I'm not saying that these things that I can't support should be illegal but at the same time I can't in good consciousness bring myself even to a neutral position on them. At best I can keep my opinions on these things to myself. Can I still be sex positive despite this?

    Another issue is how jealous am I allowed to get and still be sex positive? I am envious of people who have better love and sex lives than I have. I want the experiences and sexual adventures they have. I worry about getting an eratz version of sexual experimentation. I'm not content with what I have, I'm pissed about it. Is this permissible or does this make me sex-negative?

    To a certain extent sex-positive thinking seems to involve hearing "FYIGM" from people with great sex lives and accepting that. If thats whats required to be sex positive than I'm really not fine with it.

    • Mel_

      I'm obviously not the arbitrator of "what is sex-positive", but it seems to me the key is not judging other people's worthiness or worth based on their sexual behavior. So, it's fine if there are consensual, legal sex practices you personally wouldn't be comfortable doing and might even advise a friend who asked, "I'm not sure that's a good idea," but as long as you don't decide the *people* who engage in said practices are therefore bad or stupid or somehow lesser people, you could still call yourself sex positive.

      Similarly with the jealousy issue, while I've talked to you before about how I think you would be better off if you were able to work through some of your more resentful feelings there, again, as long as you're not lowering your opinion of people having more sex than you simply because they're having sex, that has nothing to do with being sex positive. (It would also be fine to be annoyed by someone consantly regalling you with sex stories when you've indicated to them you're not interested, because it's the pushiness and ignoring of your boundaries that you're really taking issue with, not the fact that they're having sex in the first place.)

      I'm not sure why you'd assume sex positivity would require an FYIGM attitude. I'd expect it to be the opposite: a sex positive person should want to help someone else having sexual difficulties if they can, because even if they already "got theirs", they believe in everyone's right to seek out the sexual lives they want. That's sort of primary to the philosophy. And it seems to bear out here, given that the majority of the commenters identify as sex positive, and have been trying very hard to give you advice, not just telling you to suck it up. If you know people who are giving you a FYIGM artitude, I don't think that has anything to do with sex positivity. I would guess in any given case it's because your resentment is coming through, they feel attacked, hence the FY, or they are assholes. You might also sometimes be interpretting people's *inability* to come up with a clear solution to your problem as FY, which isn't really fair to them–it isn't anyone's responsibility to work at finding the right solution for you just because they're having sex themselves, regardless of their capabilities. There's a difference between not knowing how to or not having the energy/investment to keep trying to help, and outright saying FY.

      Does that make sense?

    • Astral

      I see sex-negative as judging people solely on the basis of what they do or do not do; not being comfortable with where one or another falls on the no-drive to high drive, gender preference, vanilla to kink, monogamous to polyamorous spectra; and/or judging others because they are different from the prevalent social or one's own norms.

      This doesn't mean you can't have preferences or boundaries. But when you go from simply having your preferences to shaming someone (personally, publicly or behind their back) or feeling ashamed of who you are and what consensual pleasures you want, then this is sex-negative.

      Sexual jealousy is pretty much a human universal and there's a lot of evidence that it fuels systems of sexual norm-making. It isn't sex-negative in and of itself but is a strong and often subconscious element of sex-negativity.

    • isdzan

      Sex positive is an attitude that people are free to have and enjoy sex without being shamed or ostracized by society for their behavior.

      I am curious about how you interpret people talking about their romantic/sex lives in front of you as “FYIGM”. Maybe they are just want to catch you up on their lives? The “FY” might all be in your head. If it isn’t, then why spend time with people who do that? If these are professional connections, then why tell them how much or how little sex you are having?

      And I do know how it feels to have people talk about something I desperately needed and was struggling to get. People have told me about their travel/shopping/new car plans at times where I was working 3 jobs and still would run out of cash for food 1-2 times a month. I needed money, they got to spend like crazy, but they weren’t doing it to hurt me and they weren’t telling me about it to Lord over me. They told me because it was a cool thing in their lives. I did envy them, but never resented them.

      Eventually, I finished my doctorate, got a job, and was able to buy my first new pair of shoes at 26.

      • Jess

        I'm sure it feels something like women who are trying to get pregnant and having difficulties going to the showers and listening to all the "baby talk" of their friends. They know their friends have a right to be joyful about their own pregnancies and children, but Damn, listening to all of the talk really really hurts.

        • isdzan

          Another excellent example!

          Or the unemployed friend who is struggling to find a job being around people talking about work, especially if they talk about leaving a job because they got a better offer.

        • LeeEsq

          This sums it up about right. A lot of people are having experiences that I want to have but I'm struggling to achieve them. They aren't hurting me directly but it still jabs. You have friends that are in romantic relationships and get to do things together, than they get together with other couples and do things as groups of couples and you feel excluded. You wonder if you'll ever get to do any of this even if you want it.

          • Jess

            That's not sex negative, but I agree that it might be worth being very careful about how those feelings come out when you're hit with them. If people start talking about sexy stuff and you scowl every time, for example, then someone who doesn't know better might not think, "Wow, he really wants a relationship." They might think, "Wow, he really wants nothing to do with sex."

            And that social cue dissonance might cause misunderstandings.

            I do feel for you Lee. I'm still rooting for you.

          • isdzan

            I know, but resentment is a dangerous thing because you turn it on others, rather than accepting that some people have some things come easier due to who they are, what they experienced, where they come from, etc..

            You can’t stop feeling something if it is your nature to have envy turn to resentment, but recognize that it is an unfair emotion. The people you resent are not doing anything to you. They are just living their lives with their own ups and downs. Don’t let the resentment own you, because it will just make you unhappy and not get you a damned sight closer to getting what you want.

          • LeeEsq

            This is a lot easier said than done, its like asking the person with the terrible, problem infested apartment and crappy job not to feel resentful of the person with the great home and good job. Envy, jealously, and resentment come a lot naturally to many people than non-resentment. Not only do I feel far from what I want, I'm also dealing with person thats creeping me out in real life and making feel uncomfortable.* I really need a positive romantic and/or sexual experience now.

            *How does a man deal with creeps? Women have enough problems but the idea of a creepy man making a woman feel uncomfortable is at least more established in society. Its seen as a problem. How I deal with a woman creep?

          • enail

            Ugh, sorry to hear about your creep. How you deal with it probably depends on what kind of creepy behavior and in what context you're encountering her.

          • Jess

            Well, my only advice there is if people are talking about gushy romance and sex stuff, and it is making you sad and edgy, take a moment and as light-heartedly as you can say "Hey, knock it off already, you're making some of us jealous."

            Do your best to phrase it in a teasing way. That way if you are accidentally having sour faced expressions, you've laid it out there that it's because you want that, instead of demonstrating that you don't like that.

            As far as women creepers go, Oh man. I'm sorry. They can be the worst because there are women out there that think it is perfectly acceptable for them to act that way because men are supposedly so overcome by their overwhelming sexual selves that it is never unwanted.

            Which is absolutely not true.

          • LeeEsq

            Men also tend to get disbelieved more about women making them feel creeped out because of the stereotype.

          • isdzan

            When I was in the position of being the person in the crappy infested apartment, in the rough neighborhood, working long and hard hours at minimum wage jobs, I avoided resentment taking hold when I was around my classmates by allowing myself to feel envy, but not allowing it to turn to resentment towards those around me. Usually I checked it through recognizing that they had their own issues and might resent things I had and recognizing that envy was my problem and my weakness, not theirs. It didn’t always work, but it did keep me saner and happier for 8 years.

            As for the woman creeper, my sympathies. I can’t help with avoidance tactics without knowing more of the circumstances. My one piece of advice is avoid being alone with her at all costs, even if it is inconvenient

    • eselle28

      1. What do you have in mind specifically? If you mean that you don't approve of a particular person's behavior because it seems to make them unhappy, or that you disapprove of other conduct connected to sexual activity (the fact that someone cheating on a partner is lying, for instance), or that some acts turn your stomach a bit and you'd never want to do them yourself, then you're a-ok. If you mean that you don't want to outlaw BDSM or polyamory, but that you actively disapprove of it even if it's making the people engage in it happy and they're causing no harm to anyone else, then no, you're not sex positive.

      2. I don't think that being jealous of others means you're not sex positive, at least not unless you channel that jealousy into judgment, but I do think it will make you a less attractive partner to sex positive people and probably to many not so sex positive people.

      3. I asked you above if people were talking to you about sex in a bullying or mocking way, and it sounded like this isn't the case and that these are just your friends standing around talking about sex to each other at parties. If that's the case, I don't even think we're getting into issues of sex positivity. You absolutely have the right to excuse yourself from uncomfortable situations, to change the subject, or to pull a friend or two aside and mention that you really don't care for these conversations and would rather not participate in them. You can't expect the whole world to completely drop a topic of conversation that became acceptable quite awhile ago, though. I have an eating disorder and get very triggered when people go on and on about their Paleo diets and their Crossfit routines, and I used to resent people for talking about them. But eventually I accepted that it was my responsibility to manage my triggers and that I couldn't expect everyone around me to automatically know them and step around them. If we did that with everyone's particular insecurities, we'd have nothing left to talk about except the weather.

      • Hey! My pet rock got washed away in a rainstorm. How dare you bring up the weather to me!

      • Meyer N Gaines

        Both Paleo and Crossfit bug me. I don't know why, but they do.

    • nonA

      One of the big drawbacks to “sex-positive” is that it’s poorly defined. One might say deliberately so. So it basically means whatever the speaker wants it to mean at the time.

      Whenever you start asking yourself if you live up to the standard of some nebulous buzzword, go splash some cold water on your face. Ask yourself the following questions: Can you think over your actions and sleep well at night? Are you being a huge jerkbag to anyone? Those should make things both simpler and clearer.

  • Ad Lib

    A great article, I learned a few new things and agree with your standpoint. Will it motivate me in the messages I will teach my daughter? Well she is already ahead in the game, but it's not easy to teach her to "swim upstream" and I think parents taking responsibility for that is a rather daunting task. It's hard to find that line between flashing her friends and telling her, her sexuality is a powerful thing and her own to wield… but wield it safely.

  • hayleighwrites

    As much as I really, truly loved every part of this article, the picture of Vegeta was hands down my favorite part.

  • Mengsk

    This article makes me a little uncomfortable. I agree with pretty much everything that DNL says about the way women are socialized, but advertising activism and feminism as a way to get more sex sounds like a cheap ploy to get more pageviews. Taken the wrong way, I could see this leading to resentment of the "why doesn't the lady realize how enlightened/progressive I am!" variety.

    I mean, I would say that studying feminism has helped me with women, but not because "allies are sexy". Feminism helps me have a better attitude when I interact with other people. Resentment is toxic, and feminism defeats that by helping me be more compassionate. But it's not a magic ticket to orgasmland, and to treat it as such pretty much defeats the purpose.

    • S..

      Agreed. The title etc. just stank of generating controversy by promising something Cosmo would tell you and then giving you female sexual history 101 with nothing new and then not really addressing the point of the title. It's not that this isn't stuff that needs to be talked about, but what if I just wanted tips on how to respectfully seduce my pre-existing relationship lady friend into the mood? :|a

  • Another valid reason: feminism is excellent trolling material if you're not that affected by chauvinistic reactions. Post a lighthearted friendzone logic parody to Facebook and watch the fireworks unfold. Encourage a dudette to stand up for herself and grab popcorn for the reactions to it(provided she has the constitution to enjoy it too). Come to the aid of a friend who is hit upon in an icky way and you two have joke fodder for the rest of the evening.

  • bbb

    lol found this researching hatfield/clark stuff.

  • Gil

    There's only one secret for men to get more sex that guys who bedded hundreds of women know about – have very low standards.

    • Meyer N Gaines

      You can't eat filet mignon every night mang, sometimes you gotta settle for McDonalds!

      • Joy

        I didn't downvote either your comment or Meyer's, but I'd guess the people who did might be responding to one of the following: the implication that some people are clearly and objectively worth more than others (it's sort of a cousin to the tired "some women are 10s and some 4s" argument), the implication that he's eating McDonalds not because he was craving a Big Mac but because he's just settling for whatever he can get, or the implication that men who have a lot of sex are only able to do so because they are of the "any port in a storm" mentality ("you seem to have the anatomical features I'm looking for, so I guess you'll do").

  • Mela

    I'm deeply disheartened that something that gives me such immense pleasure, that makes me literally feel like I've exited my body, is so often considered (by people I've met, and health programs I've watched) as only a "vestigial organ" or a proto-penis. I am 26 years old and I had no idea that the clitoris was that extensive! Shit, we sure as hell never learned of that in sex ed (then again, my school really only dealt with the ovaries and the uterus, and a bit on the labias-but *never* the clitoris). I only learned the word 'clit' when I started reading erotica.
    The clitoris, like the penis, is truly an awesome biological piece of engineering.

  • Mela

    What drives me crazy is when people say that sexually active women have "looser" vaginas, therefore if they want to stay tighter to please their man, they should have fewer partners or some shit. Ummm, save for childbirth, the Vag doesn't work that way.

    • Gil

      That should read "when men say that . . ."

      • Sadly, I've heard that misogynist crap from women too…

        • The Simple Man

          Yeah I never get Woman that believe in that idea. Didn't they do Sex Ed when they were a teenager?

      • Akai

        For once, your horrific gendered world sounds more pleasant than reality.

  • abc

    Great article. I agree with most parts except that last bit about being a feminist ally. Plenty of men can and do have good sex and relationships without subscribing to the feminist ideas. There is no evidence to suggest that men who are feminist allies have more sex or better sex. Besides, feminism itself comprises of multiple schools of thought. If you like some version of the myriad of feminist ideologies, go ahead and follow them. There is no guarantee that it will get you more sex. There is never any such guarantee.

    • Actually, Rudman & Phelan found that men married to feminist women had better sex lives than men who were not. They had more sex as well as more satisfaction in their sex lives.

      There's another study that shows that, unsurprisingly, men who uphold feminist values tend to end up with women who do, too. Sexist men, on the other hand, tend to end up with women who also uphold rigid sex-role stereotypes.

      If you put the two studies together, it sure suggests that feminist men have, on average, better sex lives – though I suppose you'd have to look at whether the results from married couples extend to relationships and dating.

      Of course, an average is not a guarantee …

      • fla

        Both studies seem to focus on men who found a partner in the first place.

        • True! That's why you'd need to replicate the study with a different target population.

  • vince

    i agree about social conditioning and how it creates these problems, but i dont think its the main reason for gender differences in terms of wanting sexual gratification.

    testosterone, which men have more of, increases the sex drive and lowers empathy.
    estrogen, which women have more of, increases anxiety and empathy.
    women are also subjected to higher levels of oxytocin, which increases the need for bonding.

    seems to me like men and women are generally biologically different in ways which make women more sensitive to casual encounters in different ways that men dont have to worry about.

    if this is true then men and women are going to have a hard time ever getting over problems caused by this difference. :S

    • vince

      an example of how this creates a problem is that if women are more sensitive to the emotional implications of sex, then they are going to be encouraged to be careful about losing their virginity from adults and sex ed, which in turn might set them down a road of being much more cautious than a man.

      all it can take is that you alter the trajectory of a persons development ever so slightly for them to turn out very different as an adult, so how would you change this? :S

  • I love this.

    Under the guise of things as diverse as bimbofication, cum fetishes, and femdoms, many men fetishize women who actively want sex. I'm quite kinky, but I'm always shocked to find that female sexuality is a fetish rather than recognized as normal.

    I completely agree that this hurts everyone and if this is the issue that turns some men to feminism, great. I think working to make sex better for everyone is an excellent cause.

  • Leonardo Fratini

    Dude, please dont take it badly, but sometimes I just think you take too long on the articles. For some readers, like me, who uses their gaps in the worktime it gets so fuc**** difficult to read all the articles and follow your site.
    Like in women approach, sometimes you just need to be objective.

    • SpiltCoffee5

      That's a first. Most people attempt to pick the articles apart for not having enough in them.

  • Michael Pierone

    I don't believe your SECRET. It really doesn't make sense. Your article is just kind of a nag. Here, dear reader is the way you SHOULD feel about sex. If you do change the way you feel you will get more of it. Really? Why not just state your philosophy without trying to bribe me with sex to believe it? I don't argue with the philosophy, Women do enjoy sex, women should be allowed to enjoy sex, and not have to feign disinterest. But to claim that I will get laid more? Ridiculous. Go to a party and tell the women you meet that you think women should be allowed to enjoy sex the way men do. Tell me what your results are. I bet that you'll just come across creepy. Of course if you are already a smooth operator maybe you'll pull it off. On the other hand if you have bad breath and poor hygiene, this isn't going to work very well. If what you mean is once you stop being a sexist women will tend to respond better to you, well okay. But that is no secret.

  • LarryLegend

    I thought this article was going to go in an entirely different direction….there was nothing in there that would help the normal everyday man get more sex..

  • WengersCourtJester

    Ladies, I need you….contact me….haha!

  • Fae

    Just go to a swingers club, sex is sex people. you want to get laid? it's not that hard to find someone that will sleep with you. Now if you want to "make love" to someone, well that's not really the place to find it. Making love is different than sex, there is an emotional quality that just doesn't happen when you just want to fuck. So I guess you need to really decide on what you want when looking.

    • Gentleman Horndog

      Nope. For some guys, it IS that hard to find somebody who will sleep with you. Trust me, I used to be one. And don't give me any nonsense about "well, if you just lowered your standards…". No interested potential partners means NO interested potential partners.

      I feel this is a solvable problem in most cases. (In mine, it was dealing with the depression and self-hatred that were causing me to come off — accurately! — as insecure and desperate.) But a blithe "It's not that hard!" is completely out of line with the reality some people have to deal with, and kinda dickish and dismissive.

      As for the swingers' club? I've covered this in detail elsewhere in the comments, but the short version is: Nope. If you're the kind of guy who can walk into a swingers' club as a single dude and get laid, you're the kind of guy who doesn't actually need a swingers' club to get laid.

  • J.S.

    "Male response tracked closely to their reported sexual identity; gay men were aroused by gay porn and nude men while straight men were aroused by the hetero couples and the women; their subjective and objective arousal levels matched. Women’s… did not. … Again, the men’s self-reported arousal levels matched their recorded blood-flow… but the women’s were often contradicted by their own bodies.

    There have been other studies that strongly suggest that the cause for the discordant results is that women are socialized to be disconnected from their own sexuality – that men are allowed to sexually in tune with their own wants and lusts while women are not."

    Can we not do the thing where you casually dismiss women's understanding of their own sexuality? Arousal is NOT a purely physical thing. It takes place in the mind, too, and the mind is the one that ultimately decides arousal or no arousal. The body can get all lubed up for sexin' as much as it wants – if the lady ain't feeling it, it's not there. Not confused, just not particularly interested.

    I get really twitchy about that example, because it's often used to dismiss women's sexuality/~*~prove~*~ that every woman is secretly pansexual no matter what SHE says/otherwise act like women just don't know what they want.

  • Charlie Foxtrot

    Seriously I read this whole article…typical bait and switch! Lured in with the promise of advice on how solve the "no one wants to fuck me" problem only tho have to listen to a bunch of left-wing misandrist preaching followed by a bunch more misandrist preaching with a few basic facts that everybody knows to make it look like legitimate love advice. I read this article and I want my ten minutes back.

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  • Just wanted to write in and say that I absolutely love this article. As a woman I've often found it hard to articulate my thoughts on sexuality as I'm so worried how people might react.

    It's wonderful how you pointed out how helping women will help everyone in the long run. We make up about 50% of society after all! It's so obvious, why haven't most people realized it yet?

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  • Mel_

    Well, for starters, are you doing anything other than posting on the internet? Because it is difficult for people to see you as a potential sexual partner if they're not meeting you. 😛

    Seriously, respecting and supporting women's rights simply means you're a lot less likely to turn off many possible partners. It in and of itself isn't generally enough to make someone want to sleep with you, and I don't think anyone's suggested it is. There are tons of other factors that influence how attractive people find you. You can't expect to do just one decent thing and that magically erases any other possible problems you may be presenting.

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  • The odd thing, though, is that the other side of the coin when it comes to accepting women as initiators of sex, is that men also can play the passive role… at least according to the narrative. I have never felt any disgust/dislike/whatever towards women who are "slutty"/sex-willing but the question is, do women lika passive men?