pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
My boyfriend had to leave his last apartment before he could line something else up, is crashing with me while he finds a new place. We took pains to distinguish this from romantic living together: I moved my computer into the living room and turned the computer room back into a bedroom, where he sleeps, and he uses the guest bathroom. He sleeps in my bed and uses my bathroom only on "date nights", as if he lived somewhere else but was spending the night. It's a little awkward to describe, but it works.

When I told friends he was staying with me, even after I explained that it was not Living Together, they looked skeptical and often pained. They would ask "how is that going?" in the same tone you might ask about someone's bitchy mother in law moving in. Not wanting make it worse through the power of negative expectations, but wanting to make it clear I didn't have to pretend everything was okay. I understood this from the ex-boyfriend who lived with me for 2 years, but from everyone else it annoyed me. Why were they assuming it would be so horribly taxing for me? I'm not that anti-social, and we had Taken Pains. I cheerfully told them that it was working out great; not an ideal situation, but I'd miss him when he was gone, although that would probably not be true forever and I wanted him to move out while it still was.

The limit of that feeling turns out to be about two weeks. Starting week three I entered a miniature version of the introvert death spiral, where I both crave time around him/feel bad when he's not there, but also crave alone time and stop being fully present with him. The good news is I recognized it fairly early and we're discussing solutions.* His exact words were "we will get you what you need."

The thing is, I don't know what I need. I feel like I want more time with him, but that seems to be making me unhappy. I feel miserable about the idea of kicking him out for a day when he wants to spend time with me and I want to spend time with him. And yet, I've tried listening to that set of instincts and they are not taking me where I want to go. The only logical response is to reduce contact even while I feel like I'm missing something, and see if it makes me happier. But it would be a lot easier if my intuition was working.

*Before he decided to take me up on my offer of temporary shelter, he worried that moving in might make me resent him. One of my smarter moves was promising to talk to him before it came to that, rather than that that could never possibly happen. Being a grown up is amazing.
pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
I'm just going to admit this up front: this post was inspired by someone who claimed to never get jealous yelling at me for flirting with someone she didn't even have a right to be territorial over. This annoyed me deeply. I think I'm channeling this into positive philosophical musings, but I'm prepared to hear it's just passive aggressive whining.

G-d willing, none of us are as good as we want to be. That would mean we had stopped striving to become better, and that's pretty much death. This is what is dangerous about making hypocrisy the worst sin: wanting to be better is the first step to becoming better.* I don't want to ban people from talking about being better or wanting better until they've conclusively proven they're better and never going to relapse. That's not the only source of hypocrisy, or even the largest by volume, but I think preserving space to strive is worth putting up with some sanctimony.

So, you're human, you don't want to be bothered by a thing, but you are. What do you do? I think there is real beauty and grace in taking the actions that your best would would, and accepting the discord between that and what your current self wants as growing pains. Unpleasant, but something that will pass and leave good things in is wake. You don't have to hide that pain either, you can acknowledge it, even to the people who are causing it, if you do it right. The script in this particular case is "I feel jealous. I'm not asking you to change your behavior, or feel bad, but please accept that I need to go do self care things now."

But there is also beauty and grace in accepting yourself as you are now, and making the lesser choice, because you're not yet ready to be that big. It doesn't lock in that state forever, it doesn't make you a bad person, and it doesn't make you a hypocrite for not living up to your values. It's loving yourself and accepting that you cannot instantly be everything you want to be. In practice, that could look like "I know I said I don't get jealous but I really don't like watching you flirt with that guy, would you stop on my account?"**

There is ZERO beauty and grace is claiming a virtue, shaming those you don't think sufficiently demonstrate it, faltering when called to demonstrate it, and then taking the shame of that failure out on the witnesses. That is just annoying

*A friend of mine has dedicated this year to the power of cognitive dissonance for that exact reason.
**To be fair, the answer in this specific case would have been "no." Sometimes the mature option is your only option.
pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
My favorite pants were $30 at Anthropologie. For the uninitiated, Anthropologie's pants are rarely under $90 on sale. I don't even know what their retail price is because it might as well be a million dollars. So to find pants that could be both quirky and neutral, were comfortable, made my ass look great enough to be be-seen pants, but not so overtly as to make them inappropriate for work, for $30, is a truly astonishing feat. And even though I know the odds of a repeat are astronomical, I am compelled to check Anthropologie's sale rack every time I'm at the mall. This despite the fact that I've never seen pants I liked as much or that were that cheap since that first time. Because lightning could strike twice, and won't I feel stupid if I miss it.

I had a similar experience dating. A guy I'd interacted twice in large groups and had no connection with asked me out because he was horny and okcupid wasn't working (he didn't tell me that until later), I said yes because I needed a practice date, and we hit it off suddenly and violently, in a way that wasn't actually once-in-a-lifetime but generated enough hormones to make me feel like it was at the time. That boy was even better than the Anthropologie pants. It ultimately didn't work out, but it left me with a low bar for accepting first date invitations. I can't risk missing someone who's fascinating 1:1 because they were boring in public.

This does, however, lead to some really boring dates. Like the one I went on this week. I can now point to a lot of reasons I would never date this guy: he was boring, he performed a number of PUA tricks, all of which were subtle enough that I didn't notice the manipulation until afterwords, but which were numerous enough to be problematic whether or not they were conscious, his only compliments were for my looks despite meeting me at a stand up open mic*, he ordered me to give him a hug as a left.

But the most interesting red flag was how he kept talking like there was definitely going to be a second date, despite a complete lack of enthusiasm from me. It was always "when we" or "we should", without waiting for any interest in my part. When he finally said he wanted to get together again (without explicitly asking me), I said he was welcome to keep coming to my open mics. When he complimented me I was gracious but non-reciprical. At first I worried I was falling into the trap of wanting to smooth things over and not hurt his feelings, but I now think was me refusing to take responsibility for protecting him from his own his irrational optimism, which I feel much better about. Either way, this projection of enthusiasm without waiting for me to display the same was a serious turn off. At best, he's not reading me well (and not taking appropriate steps to compensate for his inability to do so), at worst he's displaying complete disregard for my feelings. Either way, not someone I want to interact with further.

But post-date, he has failed to take any of the follow up steps he indicated he was going to. Which makes me think that he did not at any point miss my lack of interest, but was hoping that either his enthusiasm would be contagious, or that I would simply go along with it despite my lack of interest. Assuming I'm correct, the plan backfired horrendously, and while I was originally going to criticize it for that, I suspect this guy is getting exactly who he wants.

*Even if he didn't genuinely think I was funny**, given an apparent willingness to manipulate me, it doesn't speak well of his intelligence that it didn't occur to him to use that.

pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
There are certain things that are supposed to be based on mutual desire, sex and romance being the primary examples. I will freely admit that this mutual desire is a relatively new context for both of those things, but I'm not changing my position. I think the belief that sex or marriage when one partner doesn't want it is a profound violation is one of the best parts of living of living in the future. It's not just that sex without mutual desire is wrong, it's a profound violation of the concept, which is why it not okay to describe an accusation of rape as a "sex scandal". Romance is, if anything, more dependent on the idea of mutual reciprocity. You can have unrequited love, but a romance it is not.

There are lots of smaller things built on the same concept. It is not enough to want to do things with your friends, you need to want to do things that they enjoy. Obviously there are things we do even though neither of us want to be doing them, like moving my stuff, and sometimes you do a thing you otherwise wouldn't to support your friend (thanks in advance, supporters of my nascent stand up career). Hell, sometimes you have sex you otherwise wouldn't be into because it will make your partner happy. But it is still important that those things 1. be recognized as being driven by one person, 2. be given freely, and 3. be relatively infrequent, relative to truly mutual interactions.

Disagreement on mutuality can cause a lot of discomfort. To use the least loaded example, consider if your friend is accepted into an art show, and invites you to be their guest. They think they're doing you a favor because you get to go to this cool art show for free. You think you're doing them a favor because you're going to a boring thing to support them. You can't inform them of their misperception because then you're basically saying "your art is boring". But the etiquette of turning down favors is very different than turning down requests for favors and it just becomes ARGH.*

Now, back to sex. I don't think you need people's consent to find them attractive or even fantasize about sex with them, provided you're discreet.** So in a certain sense, it's totally cool to want sex with someone who doesn't want you back. But you need to be clear that you wouldn't actually have sex with them if they weren't into it. When you are dealing with an actual person you could conceivably have sex with, this distinction is even more important.

And this is why violating an assumption of mutual enjoyment is a very fast way to get you on my "do not sleep with" list. It's not that every friend who invites you to their poetry slam is a secretly thinking "I would totally penetrate that person without their consent." It's that the skills needed to recognize and care that someone isn't in to something generalize. I had a failed date a few months ago in which the guy kept trying to cuddle. I gave it a shot, didn't enjoy it, and stopped. He kept- well pushing is such a strong word, but definitely trying. And in one sense, it was an ambiguous situation and you can't fault a guy for trying. But in another sense, his behavior reflects the idea that me being into the current stage is not a prerequisite for escalation. This is also why I found Michael Ian Black's bit on women not finding him funny so disturbing: he was angry at them for not giving him something that should be an expression of enjoyment.

So I think one form of creepiness is someone unilaterally escalating towards something that should be mutual. It is probably not the only form, but it is significant.

*Friends I rope into coming to open mic nights with me: I'm very clear on who is doing the favor for who.

**To keep this simple, let's say discreet means there is absolutely no difference in your behavior towards people you do and don't fantasize about. I think you could argue there's some wiggle room there, but I only need the weakest form for this argument. Also, there are still certain cases where it is never okay, like a high school teacher fantasizing about their students.
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
You're not doing it right

I will order any comedian autobiography I hear of, regardless of my familiarity with the comic. If the guy who does Larry The Cable Guy came out with a book as himself, I would read that. I ordered You're not Doing it Right despite only vaguely being aware of Michael Ian Black's existence up until that point. Three days before it arrived at the library, I stumbled on a clip that made him Exhibit A for rape culture*, and also was not funny. So I went into the book in a sort of combative mind set.

The book is good, and Black is very funny. He would have to be, to get me through a book that depressing.

I want to accept Black's word that his life isn't that bad, he's just writing down the absolute worst parts. That is plausible for his graphic fantasies of shaking his colicky baby, because colic seems like it should be banned by the Geneva Convention. It's the things he maybe doesn't realize are tragic that I worry about. The story of both his proposal to his wife and their decision to have children boil down to "it was the next step and I didn't have a good enough reason not to." Allow me to channel Captain Awkward and say that not wanting it badly enough is sufficient reason to not marry someone and ESPECIALLY a sufficient reason not have children . I want to give this book to every engaged couple so that they can see the cost of inertia-based decision making.

I saw Louis CK live once, and left with the vague feeling that he was depressed and having me witness it was part of the depression. But at least CK knew it. I get the distinct impression that Michael Ian Black doesn't realize that happiness is a thing. He just assumes he's supposed to feel vaguely numb and unhappy all the time.

Humor definitely adds to explorations of the crushing depression of suburban existence. I feel like I should admit I've never even started a novel of the form I'm about to lengthily criticize, and if someone recommends one I will read it. But in general, ennui is the least interesting emotion to read about, so Black must be doing something very very right for me to finish the book in three days.

Contrast with Kevin Smith. I finished his latest book, Tough Shit on the same day, and have made a point to watch all of his stand up. Smith's love for his wife suffuses the book. He tells stories that make their sex life sound really depressing, but he also tells stories that make it sound awesome. And not in a "it's not so bad" way, but in a "in this completely unrelated comedy special, I have a funny story for which awesome sex is part of the set up" or "I cannot believe how lucky I am" way. And in general, Smith sounds like a man who's doing what he loves, recognizes and appreciates how lucky he is to do it, and shares that luck with his friends. He seems super cool to be friends with, and not just because he might let you run his comic book store. From the way Michael Ian Black talks, you'd never know he was a comedian/actor. He lives in a NYC bedroom community and commutes in like a banker. The only time he ever feels lucky is when hot girls say yes

*No, seriously. I think this clip might actually be useful for explaining/demonstrating/proving the concept to people who are sympathetic but skeptical. I use my dad as the my test model for this. My dad is one of those people who totally believes in equal rights and would have died fighting anyone who told me I couldn't do something because I was a girl but starts a lot of sentences with "As a man, I..." when he means "As myself, I...". He will tolerate use of the word "privilege" from me, and me alone, and only then after the requisite 45 seconds about how he doesn't feel privileged because the cheerleaders wouldn't fuck him in high school. For those who are wondering: the concept of extrovert privilege is really useful for introducing the concept, because people are much more sympathetic to learning about privileges they don't have.

I think my dad would (after I explained it) get that Black is expressing an entitlement to have women find him funny, and that this is not a fair entitlement. And that expecting people to pay you for something they didn't ask for is manipulative and an indication that you do not want to accept favors from this person. But it's about mundane enough that you can't dismiss it as "but that guy is clearly a bushes-lurking rapist, it has nothing to do with predator and prey day."

And for the record, you can do that same joke in a funny, not rape-culture way. You just have to make the comedian the butt of the joke, not the women who fail to find him funny.

**I'd like to reassure everyone I'm not a mental health professional and that if I somehow became one, I would not approach the job with this attitude. But I feel okay having it as a literary taste.
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
In honor of my upcoming birthday, here is a list of things I learned since the last one:

Sometimes things that are necessary to protect yourself in one context are harmful in another or even keep you trapped in the original one.

Vulnerability is the path to happiness, in part because once you've admitted something, you no longer hurt yourself in order to hide or deny it.

Don't get mad at your past self for being dumber than your current self. The real problem would be if she was smarter.

Teen Mom is a better show than you would think.

Sometimes making the best of a bad situation still leaves you with an awful situation.

People who actually hate drama will slowly and quietly move away from people who say "I hate drama".

"I'm X" is only a useful sentence if other people will say they are not X.

You're not obligated to like someone, but you're also not obligated to share that dislike to make them a better person. Sometimes glossing over it is the best thing for you, and that's okay.

Labeling actions is more helpful than labeling people.

The solution to succeeding at things is to find a low stakes place to fail over and over.

Dealing with emotions is almost an entirely separate thing from dealing with the problem that caused them.

Some lessons have to be learned the hard way. This doesn't obligate you to feel good about the process when you're in the middle of paying the emotional price and have yet to receive any benefits.

Hugo Schwyzer's issues look more serious every day.

Sometimes people are really good at a thing and then it gets harder or they run out of cope and they stop being good at it. That doesn't mean you were wrong to think they were good at it originally.

A lot of what we (I) think of as "suffering caused by X" isn't caused by X. It's not even caused by the feelings you have in the immediate response to X. It's caused by trying to make yourself not feel them.

Sometimes you give people a second chance and they do the exact same thing you dropped them for in the first place. That doesn't mean you were wrong to give them that chance.

Sometimes the only thing you get from using your words is the certainty that it's not a miscommunication, this person can't or won't meet your needs. That doesn't mean using your words didn't work.

Introversion affects more than we know.

Fewer things in this world are reflections on us than we think.

It is not my job to Fix Things, and I can enforce this in ways other than physically leaving.

Think carefully before rejecting advice you solicited. If you were so good at solving this problem you wouldn't be asking for advice.

Following good rules of thumb does not guarantee good results in any individual case.

Captain Awkward is amazing.

"There's no accounting for people. They're squishy and they don't make sense"
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
Just finished I Think We're Alone Now, a documentary about two mentally challenged individuals obsessed with pop star Tiffany. It is one of those excellent examples of how studying a severely broken system can give us insight into systems that we think are healthy but are actually subtly broken.

At first, I had a real problem with the way they listed their subjects as "Jeff Turner, suffering from Asperger's syndrome, and intersex Kelly McCormick", because it seemed to imply that Kelly's intersexuality caused her inappropriate behavior the way Jeff's Asperger's caused his. I have no information other than what was in the documentary, and being forced to grow up as the gender she no longer identifies with clearly has left McCormick with emotional problems, but I highly suspect that her worst, weirdest behavior has a lot to do with the traumatic head injury they briefly mention. Implying intersexuality was the cause was a slight towards intersexuality.

But thinking about it: Asperger's isn't a particularly good explanation for Turner's problems either. See this brilliant comment on Captain Awkward. Autism spectrum disorder sufferers may be crap at detecting nonverbal or otherwise implicit cues, but the good eggs respond to this by getting really good at Using Their Words. It may feel awkward to people used to accomplishing the same thing implicitly, but the good intentions are abundantly clear.

To take a non-Tiffany example from the doc: a well intentioned, up on the latest in gender expression person will make a best attempt to figure out what gender a person identifies as without explicitly asking, to avoid making them self conscious. This isn't always possible, and it's usually better to err on the side of asking rather than being wrong, but in many cases it's trivial even when someone's gender identity seems pretty at odds with their appearance. ASD people will have more trouble with this than most, will be worse at intuiting someone's gender identity, and depending on the person may go through a phase of "but The Rule is Penis = Man.", but once you explain "People's chosen pronouns override the ones they were given at birth, ask if you have any doubt.", ASD should in some ways make them more amenable than neurotypicals to just accepting that and moving on.

In contrast, when Jeff meets Kelly, he decides to use the pronoun "he", because "I see him as a man, and that's the advantage of hermaphrodites: you get to choose." That's not Asperger's, that's being an asshole. And while AS could explain Turner missing the cues that Tiffany was clearly uncomfortable with the amount of physical affection he was inflicting on her, it does not explain why he persists in insisting he had an absolute right to wait for a teenage girl holding a sword. Or that any time you need to dodge security guards to do what you you're doing, people will be upset. That is something AS people are capable of understanding if they want to.

Cut for rape triggers )

Ultimately, the scariest thing in I Think We're Alone Now is that there are people behaving as badly as Jeff Turner all the time, but because they pick weak targets and have the social skills to keep the focus on their feelings, they face no consequences.
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
Something I meant to get to when talking about Chasing Amy but got distracted while trying to dump hump it was a curiosity of human relationships, in which "I've only ever done this with you." is somehow viewed as a greater compliment than "I've done this with five people, and like it best with you." It's not just sex either: (500) Days of Summer has an excellent example of how powerful the words "I've never told anyone this" can be.

This is so illogical on the face of it that I want to just dismiss it, but anything that strong has a reason. So here's what I've come up with for logically consistent reasons to prefer a small N. If we were only talking about sex, disease could be a possibility, but the phenomenon is bigger that that. One possibility is a healthy regard for the power of infatuation hormones, but that should attenuate as a relationship moves past that stage, which is not the case in the observed data.

There are also a few non-creepy ways to appreciate novelty: it's fun to introduce your partner to something new that they enjoy, and it's healthy to want them to be willing to try new things and take (appropriate) risks for/with you.

But the more interesting explanation is the decision to participate in act X with your partner (which, reminder, can be anything from a novel sex act to meeting your children) is not happening in a vacuum, it's based on your behavior up to that point. Being the first boyfriend worthy of accompanying your girlfriend to her favorite bar could be a sign that, based on all the data she already has, she thinks you're going to be together for a while. Viewed that way, there's at least some logic to it. However, I think this grossly overestimates human predictive capabilities. To prove this, I offer an example of rather obvious lessons I have witnessed be learned only after an intensive course at the school of hard knocks:

  • if a man offers you prescription pain killers on the first date, do not take them.
  • If someone says he is not good enough for you, believe him.
  • White knighting- bad idea.*
  • If they'll cheat with you, they'll cheat on you.
  • If they cheated on you eight times, they will probably cheat on you nine times.
  • Loud and vehement hatred of drama is not a shield against messy emotional problems.
  • Readers are invited to add their own in the comments.

The list is funny because it all seems so obvious in retrospect, but when you're in the thick of it- the emotions, the hormones, the allure of wanting something and being wanted- it's easy to think that this time is special and the rules don't apply. And sometimes even very obvious mistakes teach you things. I have a theory that intelligence + will power can make a passable substitute for wisdom for a very long, but will ultimately fail, in part because avoiding problems that way is exhausting in a way genuine maturity is not. Not to brag, but the pain killer one? I would not have done that. But I do think that there is a time and a place and a person for which shared consumption of mind altering substances can be really beautiful. And while I can guarantee I won't do something as stupid as "stranger on a first date", I can't guarantee it will go well either. Or rather, the only way I could guarantee that would be to turn down a bunch of maybes, and quite possibly miss something awesome. The ideal number of false positives is not necessarily 0.

It's worse when you expand it out to non-sex and non-drugs. How do you know if someone is a good person to confide in? Well, after you've confided in several people you'll recognize, if only subconsciously, certain behavior cues. Without that experience, even a very smart person can't do more than screen out the obviously terrible ideas. This brings us back to the theory I stole from a friend that tween girls aren't evil, they're just experimenting with very new, very powerful forces and aren't good at them yet. And when they get good at them, they're much better off for it.

There is not a logical reason why Alyssa from Chasing Amy had to do so many clearly dumb ideas in order to find who she was. But I find it plausible that she did, and plausible that it would give her the certainty her boyfriend lacked. The greatest tragedy of the movie for me was that she had done that work, at considerable cost to herself, only to lose him because he hadn't.

There's an additional step here that's even harder to articulate. It's the emphasis on the first step of a path being the most important, when it should really be the least. This one needs more thought.

*This class is the real money maker for the school of hard knocks. It's always full, and most people repeat it several times before learning the lesson.

PUA redux

Jun. 28th, 2012 10:43 pm
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
Current lesson in The Mystery Method: women know when they're being boring. If you act interested when she knows she's boring, she won't be attracted back. Here are some shortcuts (i.e. conversation starters) to make her more interesting, which happens to be the best way to make her feel interesting.

It's like he has the power to move things with his mind and he doesn't see any application beyond sorting laundry
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
Two key quotes from The Game: "I'd never heard grown men cry as much as I had in the last two years" and "I've lived and worked alone most of my life. I've never had a strong social circle or a tight network of friends. I've never joined clubs, played team sports, or been part of any real group prior to the community. Project Hollywood was bring me out of solipsistic shell. It was giving me the resources I needed to be a leader, it was teaching me how to walk the tightrope of group dynamics, it was helping me learn the let go of petty things like personal property, solitude, cleanliness, sanity, and sleep. It was making me, for the first time in my life, a responsible adult."

For a certain kind of man- believes in a gender binary, not religious, not into team sports- the seduction community is their only place to be on a team. Being on a team is a powerful emotion- my personal belief is that we're hard wired to want one and become edgy without, because in the end wild humans cannot survive on their own. And even if you do team sports, PUA communities are better: you can admit vulnerabilities, you can hear from others with the same issues, you can learn from people who used to have them, and you can give back by teaching. The Intro to Seduction reddit post just about says this explicitly. If they didn't need to treat women as the opposing tribe to maintain this camaraderie, it would actually be pretty neat.

As someone with a real thing for personal growth, I feel like there's a lot to learn from PUAs, procedurally. Translating book learning into usable social skills is hard, and their system seems to work. Probably not as often as they think it does, and not as well as they think it does, but that's true of anything. And if you ignore the absolute filth that happens to use this as their outlet (I'm looking at you, Mr. "The only lies I ever tell are 'I won't come in your mouth' and 'I'll just rub it around your ass'"), you could fix 80-90% of the problems in the community by changing the goal from "never be rejected" and "don't care about being rejected because women aren't real" to "handle to rejection with grace." All of the assholery I cared about came from a need to dehumanize women in order to deny the power of rejection. If you could inject a little power of vulnerability into the mix, this all goes away. New assholery would come up because that's what humans do, and in fact the end of the book is about the breakdown of an enclave due to internal competition, but there's a ton of power here just waited to be redirected.

I feel like I just said the same thing three times without ever really encapsulating the point. More data needed.

The Game

Jun. 2nd, 2012 11:09 am
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
I am reading pick-up artist bible The Game for two reasons. The first is defense: negging would totally work on me if I hadn't read a formal description. Checking for other things like that is useful (plus I'm unconvinced I recognize all negging attempts and it would be useful to learn more). The second is that multiple reliable sources have told me that if you can separate the wheat from the chaff, it actually has some useful information. Bonus: the author, Neil Strauss, is actually a very good writer.

One thing that keeps striking me is how very, very close the techniques are to something that would come out of consent culture/sex-positive feminism. For example, take this exchange, where master pick up artist Mystery is teaching the his students how to move from flirting to kissing.

"But how do you kiss her?" Sweater asked

"I just say 'Would you like to kiss me'?"

So far, so good. Excellent, even.
"And then what happens?"

"One of three things" Mystery said. "If she says, 'Yes,' which is very rare, you kiss her"

Hurray, words were used and everyone got what they wanted.
If she says 'Maybe' or hesitates, then you say 'Let's find out' and kiss her

Shakier ground, but I think I'm okay with this, assuming a certain amount of body language reading.
And if she says 'No' you say 'I didn't say you could. It just looked like you had something on your mind"

Oh, so close.

I don't get how that would even be an effective technique. Even if I take the guy at his word, I'm left with someone who sees someone thinking about something, automatically assumes it's sexual interest in him, and then gets all huffy implying I was trying to take something he wasn't offering.

Or take this line, from founding father Ross Jefferies, on how to handle being friendzoned.
[I promise to] never do anything unless you and I are both totally comfortable, willing, and ready

This is pretty good, until you learn that the sentence started out "I don't promise any such thing. Friends don't put each other in boxes." On the plus side, it is very nice of him to warn girls that he will never, ever respect their boundaries.

Then there's string theory. The idea is that, much like a cats are most interested in string that is just out of their grasp, women are most interested when you play a little hard to get, and the absolute worst thing you can do is make yourself more available. So if a girl, for example, pulls away when you touch her, you withdraw and make her initiate the next escalation. If possible, flirt with her friend. It's like they took the concept of respect for boundaries and covered it with asshole.

The other thing I notice is the role of PUA culture in homosocial bonding. Strauss talks repeatedly about how every guy but him just figured out how to do this stuff, and he never did, and he feels like a failure for it. Reading between the lines, I'd guess that going to PUA seminars was a serious vulnerability moment for him. He's admitting weakness and failure, but that admission is met with "me too" and "let me show you how to make it better." More speculatively, I think simply discussing techniques with other men might be filling a need for emotional intimacy with other men. It's not real emotional intimacy, but it looks similar enough to take the edge off the hunger, just like cat string theory is a facsimile of respecting boundaries.
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
< a href="">How to hook up with chicks.

I suspect that, as strategies for something as complicated as human sexual attraction go, this is a pretty good one. It also comes across as pretty creepy. I know many Men's Right's Advocates* would say I'm calling it creepy because I feel that if you don't innately know how to do these things, reading a book is cheating. And honestly, there's probably a grain of truth there. But after seeing their plan in flow chart form, I am delighted to be able to tell them why they are mostly wrong.

The problem is the line "No matter what she says, you have to accept her... Even if she says "I kick puppies, am Charlie Sheen's Girlfriend, and I always cheered for Apollo Creed"". The only way that is a valid plan is if you view her as a sex delivery system. Here on planet decent human, we ask questions in part because we care about the answers.

But if you took that line out and relabeled a couple of other things, this could easily become "How to express genuine interest for people who don't understand body language or small talk." That's a completely valid thing to have a guide for.

I do think we tend to react more poorly to people seeking specific, positive instructions ("Wear a dark button down shirt with a short collar.") than we do to general ("dress well") or negative ("don't wear shirts with pit stains") instructions. It does feel a little bit like cheating. But there's no reason it's inherently cheating for some men to use a book to learn to genuinely express interest but not for me to learn how to run an argument better, as long as the women they pick up are as happy they learned those techniques as my fellow book club members are that I learned mine.

So, MRAs/PUAs: You are probably right that some people feel you are getting beyond your station by learning cues that don't come naturally to you, because they feel learning makes it disingenuous. But that blends pretty smoothly into the fact that these techniques specifically instruct you to be disingenuous. You can have the moral high ground when you stop treating people as prey.

*For those of you not keeping score: MRAs are not the male-focused equivalent of feminists, they are the creepy ones who insist American women have gotten too uppity and they'll import their women from Asia or Eastern Europe so as to preserve their g-d given right to steak and blow jobs on command.
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
(between adults. From adults to children is fine, and reciprocal unconditional love is what children are built for)

I really don't get people who think unconditional love is a goal. If someone says they love you unconditionally, then they can't really love you at all, since you could change everything that made you "you" and they'd still love this new person living in a thing that was once your body. They're in love with being in love, or with an image of you untethered from reality. I want someone who values in me the same traits I value in myself: intelligence, critical thinking, sense of humor, dedication to growth, rather specific charitable impulses, stupidly gorgeous hair. Finding out I could lose those and he'd still love me is a lot like finding out all your boyfriend's ex-girlfriends are co-dependent idiots: you start to worry about where your relationship is headed.

And then there's the practical problems. No love (between adults) is truly unconditional, but in pretending it is such you lose the ability to discuss it. Saying "I wouldn't love you if you weren't dependent on me" is bad, but it's better than sabotaging your partners attempts to develop independence, or unexpectedly dumping them when they succeed. Especially because deep down the other partner knows it's not unconditional, and so at some level will be afraid to change anything, because what if that's the important thing?

It also makes it impossible to address even small problems in a relationship. If you've defined your love as unconditional, it's going to cause a lot of anxiety to bring up something small like "please put your socks in the hamper", because that's a criticism and if you've defined your love as without criticism, that's really scary. It occurs to me that other people might find the opposite to be true: it's easier to hear criticism when you are absolutely secure. I understand this intellectually but it's so antithetical to how I operate I don't really grok it.

I'm very much of the school of finding out the absolute worst case scenario as soon as I possibly can, because I find the certainty calming. Hell, I go out and create the worst case scenario, in the form of things like horror video games and (controlled) full contact martial arts*, because it makes me less stressed out overall. In some ways, I think the human capacity for coping with stress is much like our immune system: in the absence of something to do, it assumes its detection mechanism is broken and zooms in on ever more harmless stimuli. This would make anxiety over first world problems the equivalent of pollen allergies.

*You know, despite finding sparring really valuable, I've had/am having a lot of trouble adjusting to the fact that I'm actually being seriously punched for realz and have been sort of waiting to get over that before moving on to the next level, which involves throws and getting punched in the head. Maybe this is not only unrealistic, but undesirable?
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
59 Seconds continues to commit the two major sins of happiness research: Confusing The Number Circles On The Form With Genuine Long Term Happiness, and Telling Stories. Let's tackle the stories first. There is at least one study, and possibly many (can't check, I'm listening to it on CD), showing that when people discuss a frustrating event with friends they leave the same or less happy, but when they write down the event they feel better afterwards. Technically the only facts are the exact numbers that came out of each study, but let's assume it's been replicated enough that we can call writing=feel better, talking=feel worse a fact. We can't, for a lot of reasons, but I can't get distracted by that right now. Because even if that were true, the researchers explanation for it- "talking just reminds people of things, writing makes them form a narrative"- is completely unfounded. To test that, you'd have to look at things like "what if we tell people to just complain when they write?", "what if we tell people to tell their friends stories?", "what if they read the helpful diary entry to a friend?" Until then, the explanation is just a story.

And then there's the second sin, which I'm going to expand into a a general "extrapolaing from a distorted view of a single moment in time to all of eternity." My other book right now is Crucial Conversations. It doesn't have any scientific citations, but it is the only book on interpersonal skills I have ever found at all useful*, and that's even better. Technically, Crucial Conversations is telling the same story telling sin I accuse 59 seconds of, but it doesn't bother me because 1. it's not claiming to discuss specific studies, just trends, and 2. I can absolutely see how the stories they are true about my life and the corrections they suggest will make my life better. So I guess 59 Second's sin isn't telling stories, it's telling useless stories.

I apologize for using the word "story" in both the metadiscussion and the specific discussion, because it's rapidly going to stop looking like a word. But soldiering on: one of the brilliant points in Crucial Conversations is that when we have an interaction with someone that goes poorly, we tell ourselves a story about why it happened. The fact is that the coworker excluded you from a conversation, the story is that he's doing it deliberately to cut you out because you're a woman. You could just as easily tell a story that he'd heard you were nervous and wanted to help you, or is a nervous talker and feels like shit now. You have to watch the stories you tell very carefully***, or you'll act inappropriately to the situation. But we tell these stories because in the short term, they make us feel better. SO it seems entirely plausible to me that people feel better immediately after writing down a negative event, because they've now got the fairy tale written, staring them, but that this locks them into repeating the same mistake over again.

59 Seconds briefly rallied by providing scientific justification for a story I believe: the Getting Things Done Philosophy, in which storing information in your brain is anathema because it uses valuable mental ram, and you should do everything in your power to break things into loops you can offload onto storage and close as quickly as possible, because unclosed loops = occupied RAM = more stress + lowered productivity. Apparently the whole mental RAM thing is totally true: you do hold certain information and intentions in your brain until the whole project is finished, and then quickly wipe them. But Wiseman goes in the exact opposite direction for GTD on this: he suggests that procrastinators lie to themselves and say they'll work on a project for "just a few minutes", counting on the fact that once they start they won't be able to stop until they're done. That seems like a great plan. The first time. But it seems like over time it would increase your resistance to starting anything. But Wiseman doesn't know that because he hasn't looked past the first attempt

*this sounds like damning with faint praise, but I'm actually finding it extremely interesting and expect it to be extremely useful when I have a chance to put it into practice.**

**I've had this rant building for a while. I didn't share it because I'm trying not to rant but... screw it. I've basically given up on anything with "for introverts" in the title because they're inevitably written by extroverts. Now, extroverts are not bad people. Some of my best friends are extroverts. And I'm willing to concede that their extroversion makes them more successful at particular things and/or happier at life in general. But, and extroverted authors listen up because this is the critical point, just like you can't make pessimists happier by forcing them to pretend to be optimists, you can't make introverts happier by making them pretend to be extroverts. My goal is not to be more like you, it's to make being me easier. Being you just seems exhausting.

***Wow, this is getting all circular. I only just noticed that this is exactly the Sin of Story Telling I described in the first paragraph.
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
A friend of mine has a knack for coming up with useful but impossible inventions inventions. One is the adhesive spray that glows neon when attached to good teachers. Another is the "breakup gun", which could cause couples to break up. He meant it to only be used on friends in terrible relationships, but as written it's far too powerful: you could use it to free up unavailable people, you could ruin relationships both people were happy in just because you don't like their style, or you could break up people who were terrible for each other but haven't learned enough to avoid repeating the same mistakes with their next partner. So I would instead like to propose projectiles that make people think of the following questions:

  1. If your partner had to move elsewhere, would you follow them? If you couldn't, would you be pained or relieved.
  2. Objectivity goggles: see this relationship as if it was a good friend that was in it.
  3. catalyst: would you transition to not-dating this person if you could do so without the messy in between breakup period?
  4. shit or get off the pot: commit to a date by which you will either be married (or whatever commitment is meaningful to you) or broken up.

All of these address specific things I've seen: people who sort of wished their partner would get a job out of state, people who tolerated things in a relationship they would have screamed at a friend for tolerating, relationships that had plateaued at not-good-enough-to-last-forever, but not-bad-enough-to-end-right-now.

What other clarity projectiles can you think of? Obviously things like "see the future with this asshole" would be useful, but another level of impossible.


pktechgirlbackup: (Default)

May 2014

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