April 22, 2012

Unified Theory of Dating

I'm working on a new unified theory of dating. It's going to apply to both vanilla and kinky dating, with appropriate coefficients.

Here's how it goes: in both vanilla and kinkster dating, men attract and retain a girlfriend --or more than one-- based on equation that's roughly = (what's she getting out of it now) + (how does she see things for the future of it) + (where is she at in her life). Men cannot affect that last one, and they can only mildly affect the second one, but they can most certainly affect the first. There's a concept in Pick Up Artist mentality that is basically about "qualifying" yourself to a woman, which involves a bunch of dumb (in the long run) but probably effective psychological cues. All men have to go through this process whether or not they are pick-up artists, the difference being that non-PUAs do it from a standpoint, hopefully, of honesty... (some of the better PUAs are probably honest-ish, too, I just find the idea of being that manipulative pretty distasteful).

Also note: women have to qualify themselves to men, too, it's just a slightly different process. And of course this is all true for non-hetero relationships, in that people do this little dance when dating and throughout the relationship...the exact dynamics I'm describing, though, are pretty hetero at least in my (bisexual) experience.

Anyway, I want to address the "what's she getting out of it right now" part, how it's different and how it's the same in the land of kink vs. vanilla, and things for men to be aware of in any case. Most of this is going to be really obvious, I just want to spell it out to get to my central point.

Let's generalize the "what does she get out of this" thing into four sectors: money, sex, ego and companionship. Money isn't (usually!) literally cash, but rather material comfort and her not paying for anything on a date--and sometimes, yes, dates can be really expensive. Sex means mutually interesting and mutually orgasmic sex. In vanilla-land, mutually orgasmic will pretty much cover it (I guess?)... in kink, sex she finds truly fun and interesting could potentially be incompatible with her date's desires. Ideally, then, she goes on to find someone more compatible, but sometimes she sticks around anyway for the other three sectors...

Ego: well, we all enjoy being flattered, although it can be quite a bit more subtle than that, including her getting to bask in the social status of a man she's with... or perhaps she enjoys someone being (acting) "head over heels" for her. For instance, I suspect that some immature dominant women enjoy a certain amount of groveling* behavior outside of a scene. And companionship is a generic term for basically all the reasons we're friends with people--they're funny, insightful, like the same activities--combined with the warm-fuzzies of a dating-type-relationship. I will note, strongly, that companionship is NOT just a one-sided thing (i.e. she thinks you're clever), it's just as much about her feeling that you appreciate, on a friendship rather than ego-level, her quirks, sense of humor and intellect.

The principle that unites vanilla and kinky dating, pick-up-artists and socially awkward nerds alike, is that the less men offer (or feel competent in offering) companionship and mutually delightful sex, the more they will (sometimes unconsciously) make up for it in offering material comforts and stroking a woman's ego. LIKEWISE, the more a woman is NOT getting her PREFERRED types of sex and companionship from the dating-type-relationship, the more she will only stick around when material comforts and ego boosting are on offer.

Obviously, the healthiest dating situations are based around enjoying each other's** company as adults (i.e. companionship + sex). And the unhealthiest are transactional. And it is abhorrently stupid for a man to walk into a dating situation seeing it as transactional. It's also pretty amazingly stupid in the long run for a woman to stick around in a relationship that's essentially empty (free dinner and ego-cookies), but of course it happens.

Is the transactional dynamic built into our culture? Sure. Am I saying a guy shouldn't buy a woman dinner on the first date? No, actually: in some ways that's a compensation for her time that first evening-- she just spent 4 times as long as he did getting ready for the date (in most cases) and she's socialized to act like he's awesome even if he bores the shit out of her... But going forward, after that first*** date, she will, assuming she's a reasonably well-adjusted adult, not expect her time to be compensated materially...because he's proved his worth in companionship and, when the time is right, mutually fun sex.

I will also posit that if a man CONTINUES to treat the relationship as transactional, he's shooting himself in the foot (balls? heart?) by signalling that he doesn't expect to offer the woman anything more-- either because he's selfish (or misogynist or ignorant), or because he truly doesn't have companionship/good sex to offer. Which, by the way, isn't necessarily a judgmental statement: he could be depressed (doesn't have the self-esteem to be charming), dating out-of-his-league (e.g. likes a woman who's significantly smarter than him [yes, visible light is on the electromagnetic spectrum you jackass]), or is simply overworked (doesn't have the energy to care about her needs). Not that any of these are ideal situations, but they're more about circumstances than about going into things with a dysfunctional philosophy. And, by the way, it's much less insulting/confusing to be up front about such circumstances if possible...

In conclusion, to kinky subbie men especially: dominant women are real actual adult people, who enjoy having real relationships.

*As an aside, I do not like watching people grovel out of context, e.g. at dinner, when we're hanging out having a conversation, etc. I like politeness, subbiness and service when it's in an appropriate context because I consider it flirting and it turns me on. ...Ok, a hot waiter who's really good at his job is a turn-on even if he doesn't know (?!?!) that he's flirting. Maybe this is still interconnected with ego?...more complicated than I'm going to cover in a footnote... 

**Grammar nerdery: although "each other's" is not accepted by spellcheck, I'm sticking to it (over each others'), per Bryan Garner/Oxford University Press.

***In my opinion, if you make quite a bit more more than she does, it's nice to offer to buy dinner most of the time, but it's not a "compensation" thing, it's an "otherwise we're going to get burritos again" thing... Likewise one would hope she'd offer to pay most of the time if she's the one making bank. I do this for my friends of more modest means, especially if I want to go somewhere outside of their food-budget. I sincerely hope this is a different dynamic than the "compensating one"...Perhaps I'm being naïve?

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