A few years back, a couple of guys were having a debate on divine creation versus evolution. One of the guys, a former creationist, had changed his opinions once he started working for an oil company. His company, he said, followed the old earth model (i.e. compatible with evolution), not out of any abstract preference for a theory, but because it worked to find them oil.
I don’t intend this to be a post about science and religion. Instead, I want to illustrate the point that when theory meets reality, reality has to win. And, in the field of human nature and its expression (dating, making friends, etc.) there are many people who adhere to theories they think are great, but don’t square with reality. This is often because, to borrow the old movie title, reality bites.
Let’s look at the dating game. The facts are that most women, especially younger women, prefer confident guys who sometimes border on being big jerks (or are outright jerks). John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the married womanizer (but very powerful) often requested women and received them willingly! On the other hand, the shy guy in his mom’s basement who doesn’t have an internal filter and sometimes can’t control his rage is frustratingly alone. These trends aren’t coincidences.
I don’t make the rules of evolution, like survival of the fittest and the biology of attraction. In fact, sometimes I think the rules are downright cruel. But what I think means nothing. I can pretend that being a nice, sweet guy who’s reached the highest level in any given video game will get a man a date with any woman he wants. I can hope beyond hope that someday kindness and compassion become the primary criteria for company leadership. But…reality is different.
This is why I understand that some people have a big problem with this website and much of its advice (although we are actually quite tame). I used to be one of those people. I believed the standard advice for guys: go with the flow, be nice, don’t make waves, do what’s expected, etc.
I thought that if I would just “be myself” and “be nice” I’d find success in the world. I genuinely believed that my talents would simply be recognized by others because they were evident. I bought into the falsehood that men and women are exactly alike (note: biological difference doesn’t imply inequality).
Hearing these theories brought me comfort, but it was all false comfort. Reality hit me every weekend when I didn’t have a date or when I was being overlooked by bosses in favor of co-workers who ruthlessly played the game. But, I had no tools whatsoever to deal with the reality that faced me because I preferred to hold to nice, comforting theories — all while reality pummeled me in the face.
David and I sometimes can come across as edgy or “mean.” We’re not perfect, but are actually pretty kind and compassionate. But, giving guys false hope and pretending ineffective tips work isn’t compassionate. It’s mean and creates misery. Let’s look at an example.
Jason works a steady job, but is very boring. He’s an extreme introvert who can’t approach women and is dateless. He is miserable. I can tell Jason to be himself and the right girl will come along and fall into his lap. And, that advice will lead to more misery because it’s a total lie. It’s a nice sounding lie, but still a lie.
Or, I can tell Jason the truth: that while he needs to stay true to himself, he also must do quite a few things differently. It may piss him off to hear this. Change isn’t easy at first. Jason may not turn into a Casanova when embracing the truth, but at least he has a chance to relieve some of his misery with the right advice.
There will be many people who disagree with this article and its approach. But, I think that reaction really just putting nice theory over cold reality. Here, at The Popular Man, we don’t make the rules of the social game or even like them. But we do try to make sure every guy has a fighting chance to master them and come out a winner.