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Chemistry and "Ladders"

Being a man in the world of dating, relationships and sex.
June 1, 2009
“I know now why you cry, but it is something that I can never do.”
(The Terminator, in the movie Terminator 2 – Judgment Day)
“We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.”
(Thomas Merton)

It’s been said that when the student is ready the teacher will come. Growth isn’t about steady progress so much as brilliant epiphanies punctuating the journey through an otherwise barren landscape. I recently had such an epiphany.

While on a photo shoot in the Columbia Gorge I swung through Portland and met a woman for coffee that I’d been corresponding with online. We’d found each other at and exchanged emails and phone calls for a few weeks. This was our first meeting face-to-face. She was everything I expected… vivacious, adventurous, and strikingly beautiful, with dark brown eyes that caught the sunlight like gems and a smile that would melt the polar ice-caps. As the hours flew by, our conversation explored nutrition, overseas missions, personality types, and our own personal histories. By nature, I’m a heart-on-the-sleeve sort of guy—the same man on the outside that I am on the inside (and unlike so many other men these days, exactly the man my online profiles present me to be). It didn’t take long for her to get to know me.

Eventually, the conversation turned to online dating and our own experiences of getting to know each other through that tenuous medium. When I asked her for her thoughts, she gazed out the window for a moment and grew pensive… the kind of pregnant pause that tells every veteran of a man’s dating world that the pin has been pulled from the hand grenade. “Well…” she said, “I can tell that you’re a sensitive guy… vulnerable, and perhaps a bit of a pleaser.”

Sensitive… vulnerable… pleaser.

Grenade flashes have a way of illuminating everything with a cold, peculiar kind of clarity that reveals what a gentler light cannot, and somehow compliments the shrapnel as it penetrates you. I said nothing of it at the time, but as I listened to her and nodded politely the last two years of my dating life passed before my eyes. For that matter, so did my 13-year marriage and a good chunk of my adult life. I knew immediately that there would be no second date… I was finished.

At that point I suppose I should’ve thanked her for a lovely visit and excused myself. Why waste her time or mine any further? But I was enjoying her company too much, and I knew we’d never see each other again.

As I walked her back to her car she told me that she’d begun seeing another guy whom she’d met four days earlier. She didn’t feel comfortable dating more than one man at once, but had decided to meet me anyway, she said, because she’d committed to do so (This in itself was revealing. She and I had been corresponding for considerably longer than that, so if I understood her timeline correctly, this guy—whoever he was—had some kind of electricity or charm that all but instantly surpassed everything I had built with her over a period of weeks… something that I’ll bet didn’t involve being “sensitive” or “vulnerable.” ;) ). She asked me if I wanted to stay in touch as friends, but she was worried about my feelings (what with my being a “sensitive” guy and all… which of course, only emphasized how weak I must have seemed in her eyes). I explained to her that I was sensitive, but not fragile, and that staying in touch as friends was fine. If things didn’t work out with her new relationship perhaps we could revisit the possibilities. But even as I mouthed those words I knew that would never come to pass.

The next day she sent me an email apologizing for how she’d handled our visit. “It was not my place to give you suggestions on "you", when I have my own issues that I am working on,” she said (which she had in fact done). “One of the things I have learned… is that a common tendency is to "fix" others, which keeps us out of our own discomfort.” Once again, this revealed how thoughtful, caring, and committed to her own spiritual growth she was.

It also completely missed the point.

What made this epiphany so striking was that I hadn’t tried to please her… or anyone else. Throughout our correspondence I had shared the same things that I’ve always presented in my online profiles… the truest and fullest vision of manhood I know of—one that’s based on an undivided unity of heart, soul and spirit, without guile or insensitivity, and characterized by the paradox that true strength is gentle, and true gentleness is strength. A man of this character will be prepared to stand at the edge of the abyss and take a bullet in the stomach for his beloved if need be, and yet melt in her arms with tearful sincerity, tenderness and love. Above all else, this is the man that God has called me to be, and most importantly… the man that I will always choose to be whether there is a woman in my life or not. In word and deed, I had done everything I knew of to show her what this means to me and why I’m committed to it.

Regardless of whether “fixing” me was appropriate or not, the fact that she perceived all of this as in need of being fixed only demonstrated how radically different my vision of manhood was from hers… and as I saw in the grenade’s harsh light, from that of most of the women I’ve dated.

“You are a very nice person,” she said in closing, “and I wish you all the best!” A very nice person… not even a very nice guy. From a woman’s lips to a man’s heart, if ever there was a kiss of death this is it.

Driving back to Seattle that evening I thought long and hard about our visit. Like most people, my dating history has been mixed. Over the last two years I’ve had plenty of potential relationships that didn’t work out for very good reasons (e.g. distance, differences in faith and values, and personality, etc.). As often as not it was I who chose to end it, not the women involved. For the most part, this has been sane and healthy. Not everyone is compatible, which is why we date in the first place.

But I’ve also met dozens of women who, based on their stated values and desires, I should’ve been deeply compatible with emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, and (according to them anyway) physically… only to discover that they were driven by what can only be called emotional schizophrenia. In their online profiles they’d described themselves as “romantic,” “caring,” and “honest.” They wrote with passion and conviction about how tired of “games” they were, and how they longed for “a man of integrity.” One who is “loving,” “trustworthy,” “committed to family” etc. etc. “NO players! NO clubbers! NO drama!” they insisted. “I am SO finished with that!”

But when I reached out to these women, their interest seemed to last no longer than their emotional question marks about me. Out of the gate there was fun, conversation, intrigue, and even passion (“Oh Baby, I can’t wait!...”). But the very moment I opened my heart and showed any evidence of genuine sincerity and caring... a cold northern wind blew in.

“I don’t know… something’s not there for me now…”

Like what?

“I… I just don’t know...”

What do you mean you don’t know?

“The love connection isn’t quite there now…”

Love connection? What the hell is that exactly? Would you mind putting some actual content into that statement?

“Sorry! But I just don’t know. I guess my feelings are taking me by surprise… I mean, I love how you’re a nice guy and honest and sincere and all, and I love the poetic way you write and speak, but… it’s like it’s too easy all of a sudden… too much of a known thing… If a man seems to lean too far forward in the saddle it gets kinda predictable… no challenge, no excitement…”

Known? Predictable? Of course, it’s known and predictable! That’s what’s called integrity, loyalty… Perhaps you should look those words up in the dictionary.

“Sigh… I know, I know. But…”

But what? Your online profile insists that you want these things in a man. Well, what the hell is it already? Do you want ‘em or don’t you?

“I’m sorry Scott, I really am! But I just can’t explain it… you can’t explain the workings of chemistry, it’s a mystery…”

A mystery? How "mysterious" can it possibly be to make sane, healthy, and loving relationship choices? Last time I checked, you weren’t a circus animal that had been trained to bounce a beach ball whenever you hear a whistle and get a dog treat. Did that situation change recently when I wasn’t looking? Do you really not have the slightest clue what’s going on in your heart?

And so on, and so on, and so on…

Of the women I’ve experienced this with I can count on less than one hand those who could give me a reasonable explanation for it. Yet all showered me with apologies and eloquent speeches about what a “wonderful guy” I was… and not one didn’t have a history of long-term relationships with men who were at best controlling and self-centered, and at worst cold, deceptive and even abusive.

To be fair, there is such a thing as being too nice. We’ve all seen the kind of limp-wristed metro-sexual saps that live in the village and skip to work at the flower shop every day. Self-absorbed souls who feel compelled to emotionally vomit every 5 minutes and somehow end up spending more time talking about relationships than actually having them.

One of the things dating has taught me is that my own heart and soul have a story to tell… not a manifesto, or an inauguration speech, but a story… about who I am, where I’ve been, and where God is taking me. A big part of what women want, is the joy and serendipity of discovering that story… savoring its nuances one page, one vista at a time… and the privilege of helping me mend the torn pages in it. At times I’ve been so concerned with proving that mine isn’t a horror novel… Friday the 13th – Part 26… that instead of having faith in the process of getting to know a woman, I’ve been racing right to the end, wrecking the plot, and ruining all the mystery… when I could’ve been spending just as much, if not more time savoring their stories also, the way I’ve always longed to. Today, I have a lot more faith in the process, and as a result, more joy in letting the story unfold at a natural and healthy pace.

But that said, the havoc wreaked by excessive openness and “niceness” pales in comparison to its opposite, but you’d never know that from the dating choices of countless women these days. More often than not in my own relationships the “come hither/go away” cycle has reared its head at the very first sign of emotional availability on my part, long before anything that would’ve passed for “emotional vomiting” was evident… and after nowhere near the months or even years these women had invested in drama-laden relationships with narcissistic and emotionally distant men.

I understand why women avoid emotionally needy and excessively “nice” guys—I would too. But it’s revealing how many of them are exceedingly cautious with this extreme, yet utterly reckless with its opposite.

The Larger Picture

If this were my experience only I wouldn’t think twice about it. After all, it’s not like I’m God’s Gift and above having baggage of my own that I bring to relationships. My time would be (and in fact is) far better spent in counseling exploring the dark side of my own dating choices. ;) But countless men report similar experiences, and although it may come as a surprise to some, there is now a wealth of science behind it as well.

Over the last decade the ascendency of online dating, and more recently speed dating, has made it possible for sociologists to gather real-time, in situ data regarding the romantic and sexual preferences of men and women. Previously, research of this kind was confined to after-the-fact self-reporting data that was (and continues to be) fraught with the same denial and rationalization that characterizes so many online dating profiles and bitch-sessions at the salon. Today, researchers don’t have to rely on what we say we want in a partner… they can directly observe our actual dating choices as we make them, when we think no one is paying attention including ourselves. Needless to say, the results are revealing.

Strident protests to the contrary by women notwithstanding, a growing body of evidence now reveals what men have known all along… nice guys really do finish last.

Women are far more likely than men to pursue dangerous or emotionally unavailable partners and endure drama in relationships. Research has shown that the dating and sexual choices of women overwhelmingly favor what researchers are now calling the Dark Triad - narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Men who test strongly in one or more of these personality traits have far more dates, more sexual partners, and more relationships than men who do not (Jonason et al., 2009; Urbaniak & Killman, 2003; Bogaert & Fisher, 1995; Sadalla, Kenrick, & Vershure, 1987). Their relationships also tend to last considerably longer despite the pain and drama they produce. This agrees with my own experience.

Then, there’s the issue of money. Women bristle at the suggestion that their love can be bought, especially when the accusations are accompanied by allusions to the world’s oldest profession. But once again, the evidence clearly shows that they can be. Compared to men, women overwhelmingly show a preference for wealth and status in their dating choices and a willingness to make significant compromises in other areas to get them, even emotionally and spiritually (Hitsch et al., 2005; Shackelford et al., 2005; Buss & Schmidtt, 1993; Berscheid et al., 1971; Greenlees & McGrew, 1994; Goode, 1996; Bereczkei et al., 1997). The datasets supporting this are so broadly based, and across multiple socioeconomic and cultural variables, that the resulting regression models even allow for a price tag to be put on many of these compromises.

For instance, women tend to be extremely picky about height. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the average American man is around 5’ 7” tall. But the data shows that men’s chances with women drop exponentially below a height of 6’. At 6’ 1” I clear that margin by a mere 1” which places me in the top 9% of American men. In other words, nearly 91% of all men are ruled out immediately by women on this score alone, before anything else about them is even considered. However, it’s been shown that a man of average height who makes close to what I do can buy his way into the benefits of being 6’ tall if he can increase his annual income by $175,000, and can offset being fat, bald, and ugly with an increase of $186,000 (Hitsch et al., 2005). In fact, the data suggests that with an income above $250,000-$300,000 a year a man can have pretty much any woman he wants on virtually any terms that suit his fancy, regardless of his character, his appearance, or even how he treats her. One recent study amongst Chinese women has even demonstrated a clear correlation between the frequency and intensity of women’s orgasms and how wealthy their partners are (Pollett & Nettle, 2008). The size of his portfolio actually gets them off!

Though there is evidence that a woman’s income has at least some influence on men, at best it’s an added plus and unlikely to lead to compromises in other areas, especially relationship matters. No male gold-digging tendencies even remotely comparable to those of women have ever been demonstrated.

Across the board, women have been shown to be significantly pickier than men, slower to be attracted to, or fall in love with anyone, quicker to fall out of love, and less likely to accurately communicate their true interest and/or commitment level in either case (Penke et al., 2007; Todd et al., 2007; Place et al., 2009. For an enlightening op-ed on this see Christopher Seddon’s piece The Trouble with Online Dating at the Knowledge Emporium blog). Contrary to popular myth, it’s guys, not women who are more likely to be transparent about their feelings and desires in a relationship and be FILO—that is, First In, Last Out (women perceive things differently because for all the reasons discussed above, they're more likely to selectively pursue the minority of men who aren't emotionally available—in essence, creating and sustaining their own troubles).

Once again, to be fair some of this reflects a very legitimate fear of abuse. The statistics on stalkers and domestic/relationship violence are overwhelmingly weighted toward men, and though I don’t have any numbers to support it yet, the things I’ve seen and heard over the last year lead me to believe that online lying and manipulation are strongly weighted toward men also. I, for one, am convinced that women have a lot more reason than men to be cautious in their dating choices. But none of this explains why so many women drive away men who are loving, sincere, and trustworthy… the very men who actually can provide a stable and nurturing relationship. One would expect that self-preservation and a desire for happiness would lead women to selectively favor men like this, but the evidence says otherwise.

Of all the men I’ve known in my life—friends, family, fishing buddies and colleagues, and for all the countless discussions we’ve shared about our individual dating/relationship histories, I have yet to meet a single one who didn’t identify with my own experience…

The feeling of navigating a mist enshrouded mine field with no map or directions of any kind… where the mines reposition themselves on the fly in random, self-contradictory, and virtually unpredictable ways, where the slightest misstep will undo weeks, or even months of emotional and spiritual investment…

And the only guaranteed passage to the treasures on the far side is in an armored battle tank… Which is of course precisely what most men resort to.

Women complain bitterly about men who are “emotionally unavailable” and “can’t commit.”

Well, hell yes ladies! When so many of you insist on putting a mine field in front of us that selectively exterminates genuinely trustworthy and loving men, most of us are going to do whatever it takes to cross it. What did you expect? That we’d all fall on our swords and accept responsibility for your dating and relationship choices no matter how inconsistent and destructive they may be?

I have known men who did their best to navigate this mine field. Some even managed to make it to the other side despite wounds and setbacks (happily married couples do exist, thankfully). But even so, many had to make significant emotional compromises in the process.

Then there are men like me who refuse to tolerate it. Our vision of manhood leaves no room its needy shadow games and emotional slavery. We prefer to be true to ourselves, and the possibility of love that is true, centered, and based on inner strength… even if means waiting many years and risking the possibility of lifelong loneliness and celibacy.

But the feminine mine field has become so pervasive that sooner or later most men simply give up and resort to the armored battle tank… If that’s what women respond to, they say, then that’s damn well what they’ll get. I can’t tell you how many guy friends I have who’ve read my profile and told me afterwards that I’m certifiably insane… “Geez Scott! Are you out of your %*&$! mind? I don’t care what they say… you need to pay attention to what they respond to Dude! How many ‘kind’ and ‘loving’ guys do you know who get women regularly?..."

For a number of years now there has been a growing subculture of men known as the Seduction Community, or Pickup Artists (PUA’s) who’ve committed themselves to making the armored battle tank a systematic and well-documented art form. The origin of the movement goes back to Eric Weber’s 1970 bestseller How to Pick Up Girls and over the last 35+ years has grown into a nationwide movement built around what has come to be known as Ladder Theory. According to Ladder theorists, a woman’s psychological makeup tends to separate platonic and romantic/erotic ways of relating to men. When a she meets a man, at a subconscious level her interactions with him will determine a future path for the relationship—a Ladder—that will move the relationship in one of these directions (Friendship or Partner), but not both. The Ladder, it is claimed, is decided very quickly. What a man does or does not do at his first meeting with a woman will determine which Ladder he ends up on, and once the Ladder has been set it becomes increasingly difficult to change it.

Ladder Theory is generally considered to be pseudoscientific. The evidence for it is largely anecdotal and to the best of my knowledge, no peer-reviewed research has verified any of its more specific claims. Nevertheless, Pickup Artists have made it the foundation of a considerable knowledge base of seduction tactics, and their success rate is hard to argue with. Many of these are shared online in various discussion forums, and they even have their own Wiki site documenting much of it (, 2009).

What’s revealing about all this is that the most successful PUA seduction tactics are all based on overtly aggressive, manipulative alpha-male behavior. Examples include the use of Negs (backhanded compliments) and Push-Pull tactics, in which the target is subjected to both Negs and seemingly caring comments alternated at a carefully timed frequency intended to create emotional confusion and sexual tension (according to Ladder Theory, emotional confusion not only makes the Partner Ladder more magnetic, more intriguing, it makes it seem “rickety” and in need of being shored up by a pursuit—a “challenge.” There is of course, no equivalent effect with the Friendship Ladder because the men who are assigned to it actually are trustworthy and stable). Another proven tactic involves approaching a woman who is already with a man and stepping between them while elbowing the rival in the face.

Say whatever you will about Ladder theorists, but they aren’t stupid. For more than three decades they’ve relied on tactics like these because they work! Countless women respond to them, even as they rage to whatever gods they believe in about abusive, manipulative and emotionally unavailable men. Every one of the women I’ve dated who backed away at the first sign of sincerity and tenderness had a history of long-term relationships with men like this—relationships in which they had invested significant portions of their lives and endured untold heartache, betrayal, and repeated cycles of breaking up and getting back together again. Yet they were unwilling to invest more than one or two dates in me even though all insisted I was the kind of man who could make a woman happy.

Going Forward

My life is blessed and full. I have a promising career, enriching passions and a vision for what God has called me to, and most importantly, a beautiful little girl who is the light of my life. Sad as my divorce was, I took away from it 13 years of experience in commitment, nurturing, and the knowledge that having been faithful to the end, I could deliver on any promise of love, trust, and commitment I made to a woman ever again. I reentered the single world with hope, convinced that one day I would find the loving, passionate, and Christ-centered relationship I’ve longed for and remarry.

Today, I’m not so sure… I do believe that such a relationship is possible for me, and I am certain that there are women out there who truly long for one as much as I do. But if the last two years of my dating life are any indication, I may never find a woman who will commit to me, or even stay present in my life unless I ruthlessly suppress any evidence of a rich emotional life and a commitment to integrity. I’m not willing to do that, and I never will be. Having corresponded with some 150-200 women over the last two years and been on at least 60-80 first dates, by far the most reliable predictors I’ve ever found for rejection are tenderness, sincerity, and trustworthiness.

It’s baffling…

Everything I’ve ever known about love and believed in says that these things ought to be desirable. I simply cannot fathom why so many women would turn their backs on them and invest their hearts, their tears, and even their lives pursuing men who are clearly incapable of loving anyone well… even themselves.

Most researchers explain this behavior as a consequence of evolutionary sociobiology—women are more likely than men to be unreasonably picky because of their higher “cost of reproduction” and alpha males who are aggressive, promiscuous, and opportunistic are more likely to bring home the kill and expand their share of the gene pool (ultimately, natural selection is driven by sexual selection because this is what fuels genetic diversity). This makes a great deal of sense biologically, but unless we’re prepared to believe that women are no more than hormone-driven primates, it’s unacceptable.

If there is anything that separates us from the animal kingdom, it’s the capacity for reason… for wonder, reflection, and self-determination. As human beings we have the power to rise above our impulses, take control of our destinies and make sane, loving choices. It is the Image of God in us and we’re responsible to Him to honor and protect it. When we allow our unnamed fears or sexual instincts to dictate our lives rather than serve our destinies, we trade this birthright for slavery and emotional impoverishment… we become less than our fullest selves. Rocker David Lee Roth once said,

“Women are great. When they dig you there’s nothing they won’t do. That kind of loyalty is hard to find—unless you’ve got a good dog.”

I refuse to believe that this is all there is to women. Regardless of whether we end up friends, lovers, or just acquaintances, when I offer my heart to a woman I expect better of her.

Like many men, I long to share my life with a woman… to be her companion, her lover, and her best friend. Though my life is full and rewarding, I don’t relish the thought of spending the rest of it alone. But in this noisy consumer culture of ours where instant gratification reigns supreme, it’s too easy to forget that there are worse things in life than loneliness and celibacy. Jesus asks,

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”
(Mark 8:36, NASB)

What indeed!

There is a fire that burns in each of us… a fire that is the very cutting edge of life and who we are. We see it in Jesus when he cleared the temple, in Mother Teresa when she ran to the streets of Calcutta, in Paul when he said “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!...” (I Cor. 9:16). We see it in children as they run on the beach squealing in delight as seagulls frantically try to escape their hands, in friends laughing hysterically as they fling snowballs at each other under a peaceful winter sky. We see it in lovers as they lie on a bearskin rug in front of a beach cabin fire, lit by the soft light of scented candles and wrestling in a tender, love-crazed passion that comes from the very depths of their souls and transcends mere lust the way eternity transcends a flash in the pan.

We see it in ourselves when we set aside the expectations of others and refuse, fiercely if need be, to settle for less than the best in our souls.

As a man, created in the image of God, I’ve been called to guard this sacred fire... in my own heart and in the deepest feminine soul of the women in my life. To do this I must be genuine, sincere, and undivided in heart… the same man on the outside that I am on the inside. It’s been said the in King Arthur’s court, no man was allowed to join the Knights of the Roundtable until in addition to his combat training, he’d learned how to dance. Those who know what it means to guard the sacred fire within will understand why this was. If I settle for less, no doubt I’ll be more “exciting” and “mysterious,” and like moths to the flame I’ll draw legions of women who prefer longing to genuine love.

But if I can’t look the man in the mirror in the eye and kneel before his Maker with clarity and conviction, all the female attention in the world won’t make up for it.

I realize that all of this sounds pretty hopeless. That isn’t my intent. On the bright side, it must be remembered that the research I’ve cited here deals with women as an overall statistical sample. No doubt there are at least some exceptions, and even amongst those for whom it’s true it will be to varying degrees. But I’ve come to realize that women who are truly prepared to say no to the Dark Triad are exceedingly rare, and finding such a woman is going to be more difficult than I ever imagined. I can no longer take it for granted that I ever will. The loss of that certainty is something that today I grieve.

But I also need to remember that I’ve written these words during a season of heartbreak and disillusionment. Dark nights of the heart and soul often produce some of life’s deepest lessons and visions, but they can also blind us to the hopeful vistas of the mountaintop… the places where God reminds us that He is larger than the world’s brokenness (including our own ;) ). And darkness does not prove that the sun doesn’t exist. Whether I can see it now or not, there is a rich horizon He is waiting to show me… the Promised Land. “See what I have prepared for you!” He says. “Trust Me!”

And so I must… Not out of desperation or weakness, but because faith, hope, and love are reasonable (I Cor. 13:13). Seasons have a way of passing. Tears dry, sorrows fade, and no matter how depressing today may seem, if we so choose cynicism need not have the last word. Nowhere is this truer than in time of heartbreak.

The research I’ve presented here is solid, and my dating experience underscores it, as does that of every other guy I know. And yet, even if a majority of women these days are influenced by the Dark Triad, it remains true that some have risen above it. These women are the ones I seek, and however rare they may be they're worth waiting a lifetime for.

I do have one advantage over the Knights of Ladder Theory. I’m not looking for a well-notched bedpost and bragging rights at the bar, so I have no need to prop up a fragile ego with ongoing conquests. I’m looking for one woman… whom I can love, honor and cherish. When I find her (and yes, despite everything I’ve written so far I am doing my best to say when, not if) all the pain and loneliness I had to endure searching for her will be no more than a fleeting memory, if that.

Even if I never find such a woman, I will still be far happier and more blessed than if I’d settled for less than the best that she and I were made for, and I will continue to hope that it doesn’t come to that. Despite the disappointments of the last two years (not to mention a failed marriage) and everything I’ve documented here, in my heart I have a feeling that someday I will find her. That hope is why I continue to date, and in the end this is what living by faith is all about! ;)

Ladder theorists have a term for men like me. They call us “cuddle bitches.” Sweet-natured guys who are doomed, they say, to spend the rest of our lives on women’s Friendship Ladders… forever liked, but never desired, never loved, and never laid. According to them, we get what we deserve. Perhaps. But I have a term for them as well…

Cowards. Insecure, posturing boys who have no vision, no code, and ultimately no identity of their own as men apart from what’s granted to them by vapid centerfolds who agree to being bedded.

I have no doubt they will continue to receive far more attention and love from women than I ever will. And they are correct that I'm likely to spend the rest of my life as I always have... "a really wonderful guy" that every woman wants for her BFF, but will never be desired or loved (and needless to say, the one they'll all run to for understanding and solace when the men they do desire refuse to treat them the way I do). Many of them will likely marry, perhaps several times in the course of their lives, whereas it is doubtful that I'll ever again get the chance to. They’ll insist (a little too loudly) that they’re the “real men” and dismiss my contempt as sour-grapes. Fine… they’re entitled to their opinions. But I have something they’ll never even understand, much less possess…

My destiny belongs to me, not the women I date…

And so do my cojones.


Bereczkei, T., Voros, S., Gal, A., & Bernath, L. (1997). Resources, attractiveness, family commitment: reproductive decisions in human mate choice. Ethology, 103, pp. 681–699.

Berscheid, E., Dion, K., Walster, E., & Walster, G. W. (1971). Physical attractiveness and dating choice: a test of the matching hypothesis. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 7, pp. 173–189.

Bogaert, A. F., & W. A. Fisher (1995). Predictors of university men’s number of sexual partners. Journal of Sex Research, 32, pp. 119–130.

Buss, D., and D. Schmidtt (1993). Sexual strategies theory: An evolutionary perspective on human mating. Psychological Review, 100, pp. 204-232.

Goode, E. (1996). Gender and courtship entitlement: responses to personal ads. Sex Roles, 34, pp. 141–169.

Greenlees, I. A., & McGrew, W. C. (1994). Sex and age differences in preferences and tactics of mate attraction: analysis of published advertisements. Ethology and Sociobiology, 15, pp. 59–72.

Hitsch, G.J., Hortacsu, A., and D. Ariely (2005). What Makes You Click: An Empirical Analysis of Online Dating. Available online at Accessed June 1, 2009. (2009). The Ladder Wiki site. Available online at Accessed Feb. 1, 2009. As of June 2009 the LadderWiki site has been down for maintenance for over a month, and it is unclear when it will be back online again. A cached version of the site as of Feb. 14, 2009 is available at

Penke, L., Todd, P.M., Lenton, A.P. and B. Fasolo (2007). How self-assessments can guide human mating decisions. In G. Geher & G. F. Miller (Eds.) (2007). Mating Intelligence: New insights into intimate relationships, human sexuality, and the mind's reproductive system. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum. pp. 37-75. Available online at Accessed June 1, 2009.

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