84 Questions to Ask on a First Date

Conversation starters and thought provoking questions to create real connection and help you in your search for true love.

Modern day dating is catchy. Maybe, more of a challenge now than ever in history.

Why, with so many relationship programs making it easier to meet people, has it become increasingly hard?

I feel that since it has become very easy to find, talk to, and meet up with somebody, there’s minimal danger involved and therefore less attempt to create real relationship.

You meet up with somebody to make small talk for a couple of hours hoping to convince them that you’re a fascinating, charming individual. Secretly, you’re hoping to discover exactly the same about them.

I’ve committed my life to helping women create more self-love and confidence, which is vitally important in dating.

Below is a list of 84 conversation and thought provoking questions to create real connection and help you in your search for true love.

Now get out there and find your soulmate!

  • What do you do, and how long are you doing it?
  • Where are you from originally?
  • Where did you go to college?
  • That has been the biggest influence on your life?
  • What is your favourite place in the whole world?
  • What actually makes you laugh?
  • Are there any foods you absolutely despise?
  • What is your favourite movie of all time?
  • What is your favourite book of all time?
  • What is your biggest goal right now?
  • What is your favourite way to spend a weekend?
  • What were you like as a child?
  • What should I know about you that I’d never think to ask about?
  • What do you like to do if you are not working?
  • What is your favorite TV show at the moment?
  • Which sort of music do you enjoy?
  • Have you traveled anywhere really cool lately?
  • What’s your absolute favourite food?
  • Who is your biggest role model?
  • What is your biggest pet peeve?
  • Would you like tea or coffee?
  • Do you have any siblings?
  • In case you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do with the money?
  • Is there anywhere else you’d really like to live, besides here?
  • What is on your bucket listing?
  • Do you like cooking?
  • What is your favourite thing about your job?
  • What is your least favourite thing about your job?
  • Do you have a busy week coming up?
  • What combination of toppings makes your perfect pizza?
  • Do you drink?
  • Based on the above, what’s your signature drink?
  • What’s the most thoughtful gift you have ever received?
  • Does your family still reside in your hometown?
  • If you could be any person for a day, who would it be?
  • What is something you’ve been really proud of lately?
  • What is something you’ve always wanted to try?
  • What do you enjoy about relationship?
  • What’s your least favourite thing about dating?
  • What is something you are bad at?
  • Who in your family are you closest to?
  • What is your favorite holiday?
  • What is one of your favorite childhood memories?
  • What is your favourite article of clothing that you own?
  • What’s something you’re financially saving up for?
  • What is a New Year’s resolution you want to stick to?
  • What’s a job which you would never do?
  • What’s your complete dream job?
  • Do you believe yourself spontaneous, or a planner?
  • What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
  • Are you a big sports fan?
  • Who is your favourite sports team?
  • What quality for you is an automatic”no way” when chasing someone in a relationship?
  • What is the best single piece of advice you have ever received?
  • What do you want your 20 year old self could have understood?
  • If you could travel back and reside in any time period, when could it be?
  • What’s been your greatest achievement thus far?
  • What’s a tradition your family had when you were a child?
  • What do you enjoy most about where you live?
  • What was the worst job you’ve ever had?
  • When you’re a child, what did you expect to do when you grew up?
  • What’s one skill you want you may be better at?
  • Have you got a huge group of friends?
  • What is your favourite band?
  • If you could contribute to some charity, which charity would it be and why?
  • In one word, how would you describe yourself?
  • What do you look for in a spouse?
  • What do you find most attractive in a possible partner?
  • If you could be any animal, which animal would you be?
  • If you’re stuck on a deserted island, who would you choose to have with you?
  • If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what could it be?
  • What does your dream house look like?
  • What is an ideal day for you?
  • For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

A version of the post was previously published on huffpost.com and is republished here with permission from the author.


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Supply and Demand in Relationship Culture

When weighing choices about where to go to school, most individuals consider factors like location, athletic or academic opportunities, and dimensions of their student body. But with 28 percent of individuals meeting their partner in their undergraduate years, people who dream of finding their soulmate at the college cafeteria should consider another element in their college decision: the sex ratio.

The pupils who arrive in school with the unspoken expectation of fulfilling their future partner during their school years could be in for a shock–hooking up is the new”going steady” on many college campuses. Even without the anticipation of marriage, a specific school’s dating/hookup culture can strongly influence the course of a student’s undergraduate years, long recognized as a period of sexual awakening and exploration.

The data implies that if men are presented with a greater”source” (a dehumanizing and reductionist perspective of sex ), they just raise their”demand,” and drop interest in committing to a monogamous relationship in light of the diversion of a seemingly endless supply of single women. This often leads to low female self-esteem, forming a type of feedback loop which only intensifies the pervasiveness of the hookup culture. It’s possible that the growth of hookup culture is partially because of the expanding majority of girls in student bodies–the United States Department of Education estimates that by 2026, girls will comprise 57 percent of US college students. Therefore, the qualities of a majority female student body become quite important in conversation about college dating civilization.

Another study concludes that girls that are a part of a female-dominated student body have more negative remarks about their male classmates, go on less conventional dates, are less likely to date throughout their academic career, and are more likely to be sexually active. 1 gender cannot hold sole responsibility for proliferating the consequences of hookup culture, but it’s troubling that men react so differently than girls to finding themselves the powerful minority. The combination of competition and the ability to be selective in relationship have the capability to supply an important ego boost, and give life to the opinion of women as a renewable source.

Hookup culture has the potential to be quite harmful to both female and male participants–a refusal to engage can be socially isolating, whilst involvement forces compliance with an unhealthy paradigm which reduces hookup spouses to a means to an end, as opposed to a fellow human being. Gender ratio can’t be solely blamed for widespread hookup culture, but its influence over it gives a reminder of the necessity of guys who honor their female peers, regardless of in what amount they exist.


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What Men Must Learn from Women Choosing Different Women

I believe women, with increasing frequency, are picking intimate relationships with other women over men because of how badly men perform the connection serves women value most.

1. Yes. I meant to type that.

2. “…with increasing frequency” is tough to quantify. Perhaps we just hear about it more than we used to due to a diminished fear of judgment, or due to the broad reach of the net. University-based research from 2009 through now suggest more females are self-identifying as lesbian or bisexual (15-ishpercent ) than men are as homosexual (5-ishpercent ), which 60-ishpercent of females, irrespective of sexual labels, find other women attractive (at a more-than-a-friend manner ).

3. When I talk about”girls” or”guys” as groups, I am referring to overall, observable behaviors. I’m by no means taking the stance that all women or all men fit into a specific stereotype.

4. I am fully aware that certain groups of individuals believe homosexuality to be gravely sinful. I have as much respect for individuals adhering to their religion and personal values as I do for people in their intimate relationships, no matter who they love. I do not take kindly to the ethical judgment of strangers, ESPECIALLY on matters of homosexuality due to the nauseating levels of hypocrisy from those who turn a blind eye to”straight-sex sinfulness.” I will be totally cool with widespread outspoken condemnation of homosexuality just when the morally righteous outcry toward sinful heterosexual behaviour matches it. Because only hypocrites such as hypocrisy.

5. I think this trend will continue until guys jointly commit to not doing all {} Shitty Husband things most people (accidentally! ) do, OR reject relationships with girls, forsake family life, and move all-in on A.I. Ex Machina-such as sexbots or anything.

Girls Know What Girls Want

An fantastic author and speaker called Glennon Doyle Melton had a comparatively high-profile separation from her husband lately, only days before her second bestselling book Love Warrior (much of which focused on her marriage to her husband) hit store shelves.


To which I answered:”Shut the eff up.

Glennon is currently in a relationship with U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach, who became a national celebrity when the U.S. women’s team won the 2015 World Cup.

I was amazed because it feels unexpected for me to see or hear news that a long-time married mother with kids is in a romantic relationship with another girl, but out of this, I find it completely unsurprising.

Throughout some cursory Googling, I stumbled on this 2010 article from Psychology Today informs me that Katy Perry, Lindsay Lohan, Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga, Anna Paquin, Megan Fox, and Drew Barrymore have publically identified themselves as bisexual.

You would have thought the world had ended in 1997 when Ellen DeGeneres declared her relationship with actress Anne Heche.

Now, nobody cares. Maybe that is why these episodes are more common now. I don’t pretend to understand.

However, I DO pretend to understand that girls generally demonstrate infinitely more understanding about what girls want in their romantic relationships than men do.

And given how much I’m bombarded with stories of wives in complete agony from how their husbands make them feel, and just how much Google traffic this site gets from women looking for answers to things like “Why doesn’t my husband love me?”  or “Why doesn’t my husband care about my feelings? ,” it makes a good deal of sense to me.

Here is the hard fact most of these men need to hear:

There is absolutely not any amount of money or material goods you may provide to satisfy her wants.

There’s absolutely not any amount of physical fitness, strength, or life skills you may have to make her feel secure.

There’s absolutely not any quantity of penis length or girth, or sexual art it is possible to have to make her forget how awful she feels the rest of the time.

All your money and your badass-ness and your porn-star-ness can easily make you a big, fat “Umm, I like women better than you” if you continue to fail all of the things she says she wants.

I have terrible news.

You thinking or feeling that her said needs are irrelevant, try as you may, will NOT magically make them insignificant. The things that matter to her, MATTER to her, even if they do not matter to you. It’s surprisingly simple to float through life not realizing or denying that, and then getting divorced for it.

Another Important Note: No one–certainly not me{} what an individual human being desires. I am just some divorced idiot who got all {} stuff wrong when I was married.

The most-effective means of studying the”secrets,” would be to respect the very first item on this list like it’ll ultimately dictate the health of your connection. Because something easy like LISTENING will.

To Feel Seen and Heard

This mostly means “to be listened to.” Not obeyed. Men like me have an awesome capacity for caring about anything we happen to care about in the moment, which leads to us appearing disinterested or dismissive of something our partners are discussing. Global history is full of stories of individuals who would not endure their voices going unheard. They either revolted or fled. Divorce functions that way too.

You know how a lot of U.S. residents said they were planning to move to Canada or Europe if Donald Trump won the election? Well, your miserable wives are like the disgruntled citizens, and Canada and Europe represent a lesbian oasis of like-minded relaxation and acceptance.


This doesn’t mean that you can beat up the guy who receives handsy with her at a crowded pub, or you can skillfully defend your home from intruders.

It means she feels secure in every way one can. You can reliably be counted on to have her back and become a continuous presence in good times and in bad. Not only with sexual fidelity, but all of Life’s activities and hardships over time. You can be a fantastic parent to her children, who she loves intensely and strives to protect. That it’s possible to provide financially, or at least NOT be a fiscal strain on the long-term stability of your household.

It’s a lot more than just physical security.

And to that end, you ought to be a safe refuge for her to explore the things which thing in her life, including her relationship with you. She must have the ability to clarify her hopes and dreams and anxieties and anxieties WITHOUT you mocking or judging her for it. She must have the ability to inform you what you do and say occasionally increase her stresses or anxieties without you attacking her from defensiveness.

If she does not feel as though it’s safe to talk to you, she won’t. Finally, she’ll find somebody who will. Sometimes, that individual will be another girl who knows–in her heart –how dangerous and vulnerable it seems to live with somebody who regularly creates negative life experiences as opposed to positive ones.

To Feel Sexually Desired

This is extremely simple. When you first got together, you said and did things that conveyed appreciation for how she made you feel, how appealing you believed she was, and that you’re interested in her sexually.

The thoughtful actions you took and phrases you mentioned authentically and transparently demonstrated that sexual appetite.

The emotional and mental damage adults take on or accidentally inflict on each other during the course of a union and the trials of maturity can not be overstated. Husbands and wives are similar to two states who sign a Peace Accord with the best of intentions, but through the course of ordinary life, unintentionally fire heavy artillery at one another which sometimes lead to short lived, but damn, invasions.

We ACCIDENTALLY switch our partners sexually only by being ourselves and not realizing certain activities cause the deterioration of these feelings in another individual. Nobody would like to be unattractive for their spouses.

But when folks are MINDFUL of the, and intentionally do things to make our partners feel loved and desired, much, if not all, of the bad stuff goes off.

Because women often demonstrate more thoughtfulness and psychological awareness than men, it is not surprising to me that other women more efficiently communicate feelings of desire than many guys do.

4. To Feel Appreciated

Everyone likes feeling valued. Demonstrating authentic gratitude is a fairly strong Life tip, across the board. But there’s a lively in male-female relationships that rears its head with excellent frequency, and is in charge of a lot of the broken families scattered out there. And that is the dynamic where wives are forced to the position of handling most Life Tasks round the home. Keeping track of programs. Making doctor appointments and hauling the kids there. Responding to party invitations. Purchasing the gifts. Planning meals. Acquiring groceries. Paying bills on time. Orchestrating social calendars and vacation plans. Handling school-related matters. Keeping the home clean. Managing laundry. Cooking meals. Washing and putting dishes away. And often likely to work as many hours as her husband.

Sometimes, after all {} , he leaves a dirty dish from the sink for her to wash up even after she has asked him nicely not to. From time to time, he proceeds to do it anyhow, and calls her a little nag for getting upset about it. Often, that man ends up divorced.

Some wives want more ACTUAL aid and to be admired when these orders are made.

But occasionally, wives are not even asking for more attempt. From time to time, wives and moms enjoy the skillful management and support of the families and household.

And sometimes the only thing they crave in return is real appreciation.

Not to be taken for granted and treated like a housemaid.

Perhaps other women who’ve walked a mile in the same”housemaid” shoes know how to not make the person they love feel like that.


I would like you to understand how to anticipate other people’s requirements and adjust your behaviour on a case-by-case basis REGARDLESS of the individual’s sex, or some other born-this-way quality they have.

That is what Life’s most prosperous people do in every conceivable scenario.

Ladies, for reasons I will not pretend to understand, demonstrate greater ability and proficiency at anticipating and meeting the needs of others than men do.


And THAT skill is a remarkably important element in relationship success.

Learn and create it, and I believe Life gets better because I think the quality of our relationships affect our lives more than anything out of particular health conditions.

Ignore it? And I think you’ll spend the rest of your life or in and from unpleasant relationships awaiting Life to bend to your will, only to finally realize, it never actually does.

Maybe a few of those women always liked women over men, and only now feel secure to pursue these relationships.

Maybe a few of those women woke up one day after years of heterosexual attraction only to detect those ideas and feelings were replaced by fresh ones.

Or just maybe, a critical mass of women have tried over and over and over again to obtain a life of contentment and peace with assorted men through time, just to have the couple they trusted entirely, disappoint, betray, or neglect them.

And just maybe that pain was so good, that it is simply not worth it anymore.

And just perhaps, while we continue to desperately cling to our Man Cards, girls will continue to pursue the comfort and security of other girls while we complain to our friends about their petty wants and delicate emotions as the dust collects on our furniture and we awkwardly fold another load of laundry.

◊ ◊

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◊ ◊

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Women appear to be choosing different women over men with increased frequency. Men must try to understand why.

The article What Men Must Learn from Women Selecting Different Girls appeared on The Great Men Project.

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Why ‘Men And Women Can Never Be Just Friends’ is B.S.

One of the joys — and I use the word loosely — of my job is discovering the many, many ways that people attempt to turn love, sexual attraction and the absence thereof into something that it is not. The best example, obviously, is The Friend Zone: the ghost prison that girls exile good, healthy men into since FUCK YOU PENIS, THAT’S WHY. Of course there is that pesky problem the Friend Zone does not actually exist. It is not a case of a means of keeping guys on the hook for nefarious purposes. It’s only 1 person who doesn’t need to fuck another, and yet another person — almost always a man — who can not get over it.

Through time, I have observed many erstwhile sexual philosophers try to specify The Friend Zone in several ways, by a scam into a social ill that had to be fixed by the authorities. But in my time I’ve never really seen someone attempt to make the case the Friend Zone is really an issue of national security. But hey, that is exactly what Hans Fiene did over in The Federalist.

“What I am proposing is… we kill The Friend Zone.”


The most recent numbers on American birth rates have been in, and they yield just one reasonable conclusion: We all want to start having more babies or else the forthcoming demographic tsunami will eat our country, cripple our social programs, and leave us with a future so bleak that our sole source of joy is going to be the moment we are chosen to get the sweet, deadly kiss of the Obamacare Death Panels, the Trumpcare Firing Squads, or the OprahCare Hemlock Squadrons.

Perhaps I am overstating the danger that a little (Doctor’s Note: OH YA THINK?) , but the point remains: Americans have to elevate our sagging birth prices. Among the best ways we can do this is by reversing the tendency of Americans waiting longer to get married. So, aside from tearing down America’s institutions of higher education, which are inclined to slow down the recitation of marriage vows, how can we do that? It’s quite straightforward. We tear down the Friend Zone.

No, you aren’t misreading this. Fiene is starting things off by equating The Friend Zone as being a vital contributor to the decrease in birth rates.

It’s parked perpendicularly to reality.

Now, Fiene is asserting that this is 60 percent satire and just 40% serious. However, you know what?

Let us do so, shall we?

“Gentlemen, It Is Time For Some Game Theory.”

Fiene begins with a rather common — and honestly tired — theme: guys aren’t and in fact can’t be friends with girls. His position — with the rigor of a YouTube”social experimentation” (he actually cites) — is straightforward: any guy who spends one-on-one time using a single woman is in fact angling to get a date. No. For real.


Likewise, I am also claiming that a man can not truly be your buddy if he secretly wants to date you. Virtually every man who matches the one time qualification does, actually, want to date you. To understand why, it helps to look at things from an economic standpoint.

Why is it important to check at this from an economic standpoint? Because — based on Feine:

The average man lives in a competitive friendship marketplace where some kinds of friendship appeal to him more than others and so get his business.

Evidently it’s a really competitive marketplace, seeing as guys really have few close male friends whatsoever and lose almost all of them as they become older. But that lack of closeness is a fantastic thing because what guys need is not closeness or emotional intimacy, it is explosions, nasty farts and soccer games1. In reality, coming from your psychological shell is a terrible thing that women insist on; male friends are a blessing since they are happy to let you stew in silence.

“Remember: no actual names. No eye contact at ANY TIME. Do not make it odd bro.”
Needless to say, if you are a girl who happens to also delight in blowing things up, kung-fu films and gross-out comedy… well in Fiene’s world, you’re a poor second. You’re — by virtue of having an X chromosome — incapable of enjoying these to the level that men need.

(It is somewhat telling that Fiene never addresses, state, trans guys; are they capable of enjoying farts and explosions into a suitably manly level? How about non-binaries? And what about gay and bi guys? Lesbians?

No really, states Fiene. Stop. You are getting your girl-cooties all over it. You are making him uneasy with your whole”emotional intimacy” and”speaking” and”not using insults as terms of affection”. Girls, in this economic model, are worth less than men. Men are simply a much better investment at each level than women.

In actuality, ladies, there’s only 1 thing you could give him that he can not get from friends.

“It’s cool if we just crank it right?”
“Long as you are angry about it. And call me a fag as you do it.”

Continuing his trend of attempting to describe human interactions in the most dehumanized way possible, men trade their time for products. And since women can’t — ever — give guys the suitably unemotional physical existence that they need, why on God’s good green Earth would guys ever spend time together? Because there’s just 1 thing they’re good for. But I’ll allow Fiene clarify, complete with the second-worst metaphor for sex2 on the Whole site:

It is not because he needs your friendship. It is because he wants to convince you to start up the supply chain of a romantic relationship to him, and he foolishly thinks he can do this by being a loyal friendship client.

“Hey baby, want me to grab the means of production?”
Now to make sure: Fiene isn’t a misogynist, all signs in his column aside. Why they are so gentle and sweet and enchanting, even when he is describing”not fucking someone” in terms of a customer service complaint. But the issue is that, well…

However, because God made these virtues to lure men into marriage, the average man won’t ever be content to get those gifts in a sort of companionship that does not lead to marriage.

I just want this to sink in for a minute. Allow the”logic” of the wash over you and bathe you in its own sublime idiocy. Girls are designed by God to be sweet and nurturing to be able to trick men into marriage. A woman’s character is just the pheromone to lure men to the Venus Flytrap that waits to swallow him. Men may literally not be”just friends”. A girl who befriends a man without putting out is — by definition — a cocktease who’s defying the will of God. And that is bad because there’s literally nothing that a person can do about this. He’s doomed if he spends time with her since he literally can’t find a woman in anything aside from terms of”must put my dick in her”.

No, I am not exaggerating. Fiene really says this.

Telling him he is like a brother to you won’t stop his mind from crying”Marry that girl and impregnate her now” when he experiences your femininity.

I’ll give Fiene charge; by framing his argument of”people can not be friends because guys can not be friends with girls”, he creates a excellent example of the idea of”Begging The Question“.

So. Let us examine the logic on display here. Male relationships are inherently untrue. Men barter time for friendship with other guys. Men can’t be friends with girls because they will need to fuck her. Therefore, by not communicating or fucking them, women are cheating guys by not giving them the products that guys are paying for.

OK, still with me? Cool. Now hang on because it really gets worse.

In Fiene’s world, a girl not setting out for her male friends is bad enough. But there is a worse crime being committed: since he is stuck in this quagmire, he is not fucking different folks. And to make sure: that is not his fault. He is just too dumb to overrule his boner.

No. For real. That is Fiene’s argument.

Repeat the”We are just friends” mantra a thousand times. It will not rewire the circuits of the male mind. All it will accomplish is deluding you into believing he’s content to keep in the Friend Zone quicksand and deluding him into believing he can break out of it by sinking even deeper.

Fiene. Bro. Amigo. This is not The Friend Zone, this is Oneitis. If you are going to attempt and swerve in my lane, then at least get your terms right.

But let’s return to the assumption. Men are trapped at the Friend Zone because being told that they are just friends is not enough to make them realize that she won’t ever sleep with him. Being friends is the snare that girls, bless their hearts, can not help but ensnare men into since Lord love’em these boners are only SO POWERFUL. It’s only because girls do not frame the rejection in only the perfect way — as is incumbent on them to free men from their snares.

Again, I am not exaggerating. This is literally his debate.

Consider your best guy friend. Are you attracted to him? Can he fill you with all the biological urge to repopulate the earth? If not, then do your”buddy” a strong and let him go. Call him up and tell him”It is not my fault your facial symmetry grosses out my ovaries, but it was my fault that I received your hopes up by putting you in the Friend Zone. As restitution, please take the telephone numbers of five women I know who find you attractive. Quit wasting your time and go hang out with a woman who might one day bear your children.”

An individual can’t help but envision Fiene at his regional Applebee’s on karaoke night, his tie askew and shirt dishevelled and stained with spilled mojitos, mournfully crooning Kim Wilde tunes while he makes uncomfortable prolonged eye-contact with girls in the audience.

In fairness, Fiene is not completely wrong here: men are normally those that Friend Zone themselves on the routine. But the matter isn’t that girls are”trapping” guys using their sacred femininity, it is because men confuse of friendship for intimate sex. And little wonder, seeing as the civilization that Fiene observes is one that motivates men to feel vulnerable to fucking every girl he meets and intragender friendship as something inherently inferior to gender and shallower relationships between men.

It is not that surprising really, considering that Fiene sees girls he can not fuck as being unworthy.

What’s the Point Of You?

If she is not giving it to him, then she’s quite literally pointless.

Don’t worry he was really just in this for the friendship. Truth be told, you’re not particularly good at supplying him in the first location. However, you’ll be quite good at supplying him what God made you to give himmarital bliss.

Girls are there strictly for being impregnated by men that are incapable of any kind of self-control once their manhood is activated. If she is not cranking out babies (preferably white ones), she’s no purpose in this world. This is not terribly shocking, in all honesty. It is part and parcel of this school of conservatism that is presently on the ascent.

The reason that this premise that women are baby-making machines, period, is so insidious is that it is framed as a moral matter. Vice President Pence’s famous”will not be alone with a girl” is styled as”won’t let himself be tempted into sin” — and more on that in another — but the underlying message is”that there is no reason to be alone with a girl that does not involve sex.” More than ever, success — whether in politics or business — is determined by networking. Folks get their start in their careers not by having the best resume but by knowing the proper people. Frequently, that media happens over dinner, beverages, even just one-on-one conversations with friends.

But when girls are”not able” to be friends — when girls are viewed as nothing but honeytraps — then they’re systematically excluded from any sort of advancement. They’re turned from individuals into baby-making machines that are there strictly to snare dick. The fact that girls are just there suggests that guys instantly default to cavemen that are only there to put their dicks in where they can. It is important, in the era of their Pussy-Grabber-In-Chief that so many Republican politicians vote against addition or gay and trans rights since they would just exploit those principles to attack women.

“I am not saying trans individuals are liars, I am saying that I would commit numerous crimes to find boobs if I would not get punished for them.”
This, more than anything else, is why so many men and women find Fiene’s”Men and Women Can Never Be Friends” to be such offensive bullshit: due to precisely how dehumanizing it is.

Being caught in the Friend Zone is an inarguable drag on fertility rates, as a guy who spends a long time pledging his heart to a woman who will never have his kids is also a guy who probably won’t procreate with anyone else during that time of incarceration. Free him to find a girl who wants to marry him, however, and he will have several more years to sire children who will laugh, make, sing, fill the world with love and, most of all, pay into Social Security.

What’s So Funny (About The Systemic Devaluation Of Girls )

“But Doc,” I hear you shout,”He says it is mostly satire! Does not that mean we should not take it seriously?”

To begin with, as Alyssa Rosenberg states in her piece for the Washington Post, presuming 40 percent of trash is still trash.

Just as importantly though is that this is not satire. Frequently, people attempt to use”It’s just satire” as a get-out-of-criticism-free card. If it’s satire, it can not possibly be true, right?

But satire is not”dumb jokes”; satire is criticism of the subject being satirized. When The Onion writes a column about an eight-billion buck Abortionplex theme park, they’re critiquing right-wing rhetoric about Planned Parenthood by alerting it to the point of being absurd. Saturday Night Live is not making fun of Trump just to be mean, they are criticizing a person who’s grossly incompetent and at the position of becoming the most powerful man on the planet.

So what, exactly, is Fiene criticizing here? It certainly is not relationships between women and men.

Is it the notion of this”demographic apocalypse” that is coming?

Could it be the Federalist’s general obsession about folks not fucking being a literal dilemma of national security?

Got to give them credit for being on-brand at the least.
There is a shitty attempt at jokes peppered through the text, but there is no sign in here that this is anything that Fiene does not actually believe to be true. Satire only works when it is comment or review, exaggerating to push home the absurdity of this subject. A Modest Proposal does not function when the British Parliament is really considering cannibalism as part of a famine relief package.

As yelling”RAPE!” Randomly, advocating for a snowy ethno-state or paying two people to hold up signs saying”Death To All Jews” does not have a pass because”it is just jokes”, calling this”satire” does not excuse the true belief that forms the thesis of Fiene’s piece: that girls who he is not impregnating are worth less than men. That guys are barely-restrained beasts in the mercy of their dicks, which not giving them sex is a crime against God.

All this argument amounts to is an attempt to pass off the reduction of women to their reproductive capacities and further the notion that men are entitled to them. Insisting that women and men can not be friends is a mortal insult to men and women alike by somebody who doesn’t appear to know women or friends.

This post was formerly published on Doctornerdlove.com and is republished here with permission from the author.


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How to Give a Gift to a Woman

Editor’s Note: This is a guest article from Candace Moody.

Men have been giving gifts to girls since the first Neanderthal offered his crush a glistening wolf femur. But men haven’t yet developed a method for purchasing the girls in their lives meaningful gifts for special occasions. As a public service, I provide this gifting system for homo sapiens and homo inermis.

Gifts show affection and love and may also signal appreciation. Coincidentally, gifts also have been used throughout history to demonstrate wealth, achievement, and power. Trust me, when you become a excellent gift giver, your status and desirability as a romantic partner grow exponentially. The only thing women love more than getting a meaningful gift is showing it off to their envious friends.

Giving your significant other a present deepens the warmth, trust, affection, and intimacy in your relationship, and also raises her admiration of you. This kindling impact of gift giving should not be reserved just for major anniversaries and vacations, but used to keep the fire burning through your”regular” life together also.

What to Give

Gifts don’t have to cost a fortune (and may even be free, or close to it); many girls really do appreciate the gesture more than the cost. In actuality, a gift that costs too much can produce more angst than joy, especially if it strains the budget or cuts into other spending priorities she considers important. It truly is the thought that counts, so put some into your pick. 

If you’re starved for ideas, start a file somewhere with the answers to these questions. Ask them sometimes and subtly (not all at the same time), and record answers (such as the why) carefully:

  • Her dimensions. Note her dimensions and what style she prefers. (All these are not to be shared, mind you.) Also notice what celebrity’s attributes and figure she {} ; use that as a manual for store clerks to help them help you in buying things that will look great.
  • Her favourite colour (and why she enjoys it). Also record her favorite color and be sure to never buy something in it. Record the color you like to see her in (you know, the one which makes her glow and never fails to remind you how lovely she is). This colour can be a highly effective gifting component; should you tell her you love it upon her, she’ll love it too. Guaranteed. Cultures all over the planet have assigned meanings to flowers and used them to send messages to fans and rivals. Giving a lavender colored rose, by way of instance, signifies love at first sight. Powerful stuff.
  • Can she wear silver or gold? Request, and purchase her (almost) exclusively what she prefers.
  • What’s her birthstone?  And does she enjoy it? It is not guaranteed, so inquire. Notice it and buy jewelry that features the stone.
  • Speaking of jewellery, is there a culture or fashion she enjoys? Asian, Southwestern, Victorian, Victorian, ultra-modern minimalist. Make note of her likes for both jewelry and clothing purchases.
  • Her favourite designer, if she has one.
  • Her favorite food or meal. Cooking for her (or ordering ) is a terrific way to surprise and delight her.
  • Her favourite animal or the animal she (or you) think symbolizes her soul. Following is a guide to soul animals. Give her a gift that she can fulfill her or screen which inspires her to be her best or most effective self. Purchase a first edition for frame or her a quote by her favourite author. Or find a copy of a book she adored as a kid. Arrange for a binge-watching session, either independently with snacks and wine, or with girlfriends while you and the children are out of the home. Purchase her favourite movie so that she can watch any time.

Keep this manual handy for frequent reference. With it, you can always find an affordable way to show her you listen and understand what she likes. You will also have this list in mind while you go about your business. If you see something which fits her, purchase it and stash it to the upcoming gift-giving occasion. Purchasing at the last minute puts a whole lot of pressure on you; purchasing when you happen to find something way you will never need to panic. 

Some other guidelines:

Buy her things which have a story. Tell her about the artist that made the bracelet or glazed the pottery. Inform her about where you found it and you thought it’d be ideal for her. Find pieces which are exceptional, one of a sort, or which have a long history, and let her know that.

You may also give gifts which make life easier — as long as they are not too utilitarian. Giving her a publication of smoothie recipes is thoughtful; purchasing her a blender isn’t. Giving her a set of file folders with a gorgeous pattern for her home office is thoughtful; purchasing the most recent edition of Turbo Tax isn’t.

Do not forget that acts of support can make her heart sing. Repair something without being asked. Do the dishes, clean out the junk drawer, wash and fold a load of laundry, or perform another task that she dislikes or that normally would not be your job. (No excess charge for doing what you need to as your fair share.)

Or reservations. Hire a sitter for the night and plan a walk in the park or on the shore. Take on the preparation or logistics of something that she normally has to deal with. Tell her why you are doing it:”You deserve a night off.” “You have been working so hard recently.” “I only wanted to steal a few hours of your time.” It’ll cost you nothing and bring you a great deal of gratitude in return.

Purchase her items whose only quality is they make life more beautiful. Scented soaps, practical items with beautiful designs (believe desk accessories or a bud vase for the office). A set of (just ) two wine glasses, coffee mugs, or dessert dishes for the both of you to share at particular moments. Replace something nasty, old, or utilitarian with something amazing: baking or kitchen utensils, water bottles or teacups, calendars or planners, even something as little as a bookmark can pleasure her. Consider something she uses frequently. Let her know that she deserves beautiful things around her daily. 

For more ideas on the best way best to speak her particular gifting language (through acts of service and other methods), read Dr. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages

When to Provide

Timing and demonstration matter hugely as to how your gift will be obtained. Below are a few ideas on timing.

Surprise her, but just when she has time to become completely present. Do not give her a present:

  • When she is in the middle of a catastrophe (dog/cat throwing up, baby yelling, children fighting, appliance or automobile broken down)
  • When she is rushing out the door on her way to work or something significant
  • When she walks in the door from a stressful day 
  • Right after a struggle or other psychological breakdown
  • Right after she expresses very negative emotions or self-hate
  • Right after she asks for something from you (more focus, complete a job, or some other version of”you are not doing enough”)
  • When she is exhausted
  • In the very last minute of a significant event (anniversary, birthday, etc.) — do not let her assume you have done nothing special for the Whole day

This is how to time your present for optimum joy and appreciation:

  • Morning is a excellent time, assuming she has the energy and time to appreciate it. She will think fondly of you all of the time you are apart. If mornings are too busy, tell her you’ve got something amazing for her that she will find this evening. She will glow all day. On her pillow in the morning when she wakes, or before bed. At her place at the dinner or breakfast table (hopefully, a place you have set or a dinner you have prepared).
  • Allow some time to pass an argument or other psychological conversation. Based on her character or how bad the debate was, let a couple of hours, a day, a few days pass, but do it before a week has passed. Tell her you have been thinking about what she said and remind her how much she means to you. Tell her you purchased this since it caught your attention while she was in your mind. If it’s possible, connect the present to something she said specifically:”You are right — you deserve to have more time to spend on you; here is something to pamper yourself with tonight.”
  • Strategy for a quiet moment. Set a video on to your children so that you won’t be interrupted. Do the dishes or clean up after dinner so that she can do something for herself. Turn off the TV and ask her to get a couple of minutes of her focus. Wake her up a couple of minutes early on a weekend so you can cuddle. Make some deliberate space so she can concentrate on you and your present.
  • Select a day that would ordinarily be miserable for her. The anniversary of a family member’s death, the first day of college, or the day you ship your oldest off to college. Let her know that you know how she feels and that you would like to give her something positive to think about on this day.
  • Choose a day or date that has little or no expectations.  Giving gifts on birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day is evident and obviously recommended. Your stock is really going to soar, but if you find other events to celebrate which are more unexpected. Surprise her on a Wednesday or the last day of this month. While”just because” is a sufficient reason, these events make for especially good times to present an unexpected gift:
    • The anniversary of your first date
    • The anniversary of the day you suggested
    • The anniversary of the date you initially (your favored romantic event or action )
    • Her first day on a new job
    • A large business or professional achievement
    • A personal landmark, like changing a custom or taking on a challenge

If you are unsure about specific dates, then ask — she will most likely know. (Write them down; after she’s told you, she will assume recalling it means as much to you as it does to her.) If you would like extra points, celebrate occasions that you may know (and, coincidentally, you alone can confirm ). “Thursday, March 12th was the day I realized that I had been in love with you.”  

How to Provide

Presentation matters. You do not have to have good wrapping skills to make a gift look unique, but you do need to put some thought into your presentation:

Do Not:

  • Leave price tags on
  • Deliver the present from the plastic bag from the shop
  • Use wrapping paper in the Incorrect holiday or season
  • Get really catchy with concealing the present that it gets overlooked, thrown away, or swallowed


  • Keep receipts (for substantial purchases) if she needs to return the product or exchange for another size/color
  • Use gift bags or ask the store to wrap the present if you are not confident doing it yourself
  • Place an unwrapped gift carefully where she can see it and love its presentation before picking it up (put on the pillow or in her place setting with one rose)
  • Insert a small card stating simply:”For you” or”For the woman I love”
  • Request your young kids to wrap the present or make a card
  • Let your cute child deliver the gift, stating something like”Daddy said to Provide this to the prettiest mommy on earth”
  • Have it delivered to the office (check her schedule or inquire about it to make sure she will be in when it is delivered)
  • Present it when you are in public with a great time: out to dinner, in a park, or in any other outing

If you do not have another bank account for buying gifts, consider saving up and paying money for your present. If she must pay the invoice for your gift, it certainly kills the buzz (particularly if she’ll think you under-paid for it). If finances are a problem, save up your spare change to spend on her (you can also let her know that is your plan).

What if your very best effort falls flat? It is possible the gift of clothes, jewelry, or other thing won’t be a fantastic match for her personal style. Should this happen, it is as hard for her as it is for you. She wants very much to honor your present without encouraging more buys like it. You will have to read her body language quite carefully; you should be able to tell the difference between love and not-so-much-love to your attempt.

If you can see it does not work for her, it is fine to admit it out loud. If we swap it and find something which you love? I would like you to feel as beautiful wearing it as I think you seem.” If she buys your gift, listen to (or ask) what she likes better about her selection. Make notes, learn, and grow. She’ll definitely give you credit for trying.

If you will need the bumper sticker version of this whole manual, here it is:”Simple. Personal. Meaningful.” It will work every time.


She’s been married for several years into the love of her life and a fantastic gift giver. Find her at candacemoody.com.

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Podcast #474: The Surprises of Romantic Attraction

According to the popular, evolutionary theory of human attraction, people select romantic partners based on objective assessments of what’s called their “mate value” — the extent to which an individual possesses traits like good looks and status. But is that really all that’s behind the way people pair up?

My guest today has done a series of studies which add greater nuance to the mysteries of romantic attraction. His name is Paul Eastwick and he’s a professor of psychology at UC Davis. We begin our conversation unpacking the fact that there’s sometimes a gap between the sexual and romantic partners people say they prefer in the abstract, and the partners they actually choose in real life. We then turn to whether or not the popular idea that men value physical attractiveness more than women, and that women value status and resources more than men, is really true. We also talk about how people’s consensus over who is and isn’t attractive changes over time, and whether it’s true that people of equal attractiveness generally end up together. We end our conversation discussing how these research-based insights can be applied to the real world of dating, and why less attractive people may have better luck meeting people offline than on.

Some interesting insights in this show that lend credence to the old adage that there’s someone for everyone.

Show Highlights

  • What’s the accepted theory of how men and women are attracted to each other?
  • How “mate value” is calculated 
  • Is it true that men value physical appearance more than women?
  • The self-insight gap that plagues daters 
  • Why trait-based compatibility doesn’t give the full picture of a relationship’s potential
  • The importance of “fit” when it comes to compatibility
  • How physical attractiveness changes over time as we get to know people
  • Do equally attractive people always end up with each other?
  • What does modern science say about pick-up artist techniques?
  • Tips for how to think about modern dating apps 

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Read the Transcript

Brett McKay: Welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. According to the popular evolutionary theory of human attraction, people select romantic partners based on objective assessments of what’s called their mate value, the extent to which individual possesses traits like good looks and status. What does that really all that’s behind the way people pair up? My guest today has done a series of studies which add greater nuance to the mysteries romantic attraction. His name is Paul Eastwick, he’s a professor of psychology at UC Davis. We begin a conversation unpacking the fact there’s sometimes a gap between the sexual romantic partners people say they prefer the abstract, and the partners they actually choose in real life.

We then turned to whether or not the popular idea that men value physical attraction more than women and that women value status and resources more than men is really true. We also talk about how people’s consensus over who is and isn’t attractive changes over time and whether it’s true that people of equal attractiveness generally end up. We end our conversation discussing how these research based insights can be applied to the real world of dating and why if you’re not Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Cary Grant, 1980s Tom Selleck and whatever famous, handsome man you want, you’re not any of those guys may have better luck meeting people offline than online in an app. Some interesting insights in the show that lend credence to the old adage that there’s someone for everyone. After the show’s over, check out our show notes at aom.is/eastwick. Paul joins me now via clearcast.io.

Paul Eastwick, welcome to the show.

Paul Eastwick: Thanks so much for having me.

Brett McKay: So you are a professor of psychology and you’ve spent your career researching human attraction. And what I think is interesting about your research is that it, it goes a different direction from what the sort of the popular and accepted ideas that are out there about what makes humans attracted to one another. So before we get to your research and how it adds to that theory, what is, can you walk us through like what the popular and accepted theory of what makes men and women attracted to each other is? I guess it’s based on evolutionary theory.

Paul Eastwick: Yeah. So there’s a lot of work out there that takes what I would call a trait based approach to understanding what makes men and women attractive and this is a very simple idea. It’s that we possess particular desirable qualities, or we don’t, and the extent to which you have those desirable qualities is what makes you appealing in a mate. And we can talk about things that you can see on the surface, like physical attractiveness. We can talk about status and resources, we can also talk about traits like intelligence, but the presumption here is that there is some sort of objective reality about a person and the extent to which they have those desirable traits and that a person’s desirability as a mate or their mate value, that’s often the term that’s used, can be sort of calculated based on the extent to which they possess those sorts of traits.

Brett McKay: And also the research has shown there’s differences between the sexes on what’s attractive and not attractive. Like men find certain things attractive in women, but women find other traits attractive and men.

Paul Eastwick: That’s right. So the calculus for mate value classically differs between men and women. You know, intelligence is very appealing to both men and women in a partner, but when you ask men and women, how much do you care about traits like attractiveness, men will tend to rate it higher than women, although women like it too. You see the reverse for traits like resources, right? With women rating it higher than men, but in general these findings sort of fit into this, what I would call this trait based mate value sort of approach where the idea is that there’s some sort of reality about the traits that you possess and your job if you’re looking for a mate from this perspective is to size up whether or not somebody has these qualities and then make your choice accordingly.

Brett McKay: And it’s also a very market driven, right? Approach to relationships, right? You have certain values and you kinda have to make trade offs on what you have and what the other person has.

Paul Eastwick: Exactly. Exactly. And that’s why it’s, you know, evolutionary theory touches on these ideas. But yeah, it’s based on these very classic market based ideas about marriage, this pervade sociology going back 70 years or more. These are very influential important ideas that have long pervaded how people think about the way relationships form and are maintained.

Brett McKay: And how have evolutionary psychologist come to this conclusion that men find physical attractiveness more important than women find physical attractiveness in men. What are the studies look like where they’ve come to this conclusion?

Paul Eastwick: It’s interesting because humans can do this really funny thing which is you can put rating scales in front of us and we can fill them out with a pen or a pencil. And what that means is that instead of, if you were studying animals in the wild, you’d have to set up these really complex designs and sort of see which of the mates the females would pursue or see which mates the males would pursue. But in humans you can sort of throw a scale in front of them and be done in 30 seconds. And so much of the research supporting these sex differences tends to use that ladder approach that is, you asked men and women to rate physical attractiveness on a rating scale from one to 10. How much do you like this trait? And that’s where you see men say they care about it more than women. You see the reverse with things like status and resources. So a lot of the research is pretty straightforward and questionnaire based along those lines. It’s sort of this neat thing that you can get humans to do that you can’t get other nonhuman animals to do.

Brett McKay: So basically what these surveys ask is like what you would want in a hypothetical potential mate, not an actual mate, correct?

Paul Eastwick: Right. I mean, you know, they’re asking people to think about what would you want an ideal mate to have and people can do this. When you give people questionnaires like that, they’re like, they’re not thinking I have never pondered such a thing before. People are definitely … They can call to mind what their ideal partner looks like. But I’d also argue that that requires a level of self insight that is under appreciated. That is, we can ask whether or not people really know the extent to which attractiveness appeals to them. And is that captured by a rating on a rating scale? It’s one of the questions that we’ve tried to pursue in our research.

Brett McKay: So in addition to what this idea of trait based attraction, there’s this idea of a sort of meeting that comes up that attractive people end up with other attractive people. High status people end up with other high status people. So, there’s that aspect to this trait based theory as well.

Paul Eastwick: Yes, that’s right. And it is certainly true that you see assorted of mating on many qualities, qualities like attractiveness, traits that people generally say they really like in a partner, both men and women rate attractiveness quite highly. And indeed the attractive men and the attractive women tend to pair up. Now that association is far from perfect, right? So there are plenty of matched couples and plenty of mismatched couples out there too. And so we need our explanations just to be able to account for the existence of both the matches and the mismatches, if you will.

Brett McKay: So there’s been mountains of research for the past 20, 30 years that reinforced this idea that, they’ve done this across cultures too, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in Japan or America or England, men tend to rate physical attractiveness more important on the list of wanted traits in women than women do. And women put an emphasis on resources and status. So despite the mountains of research that has shown this over and over again, what led you to think that there was something else going on in how people decide who they pair up with?

Paul Eastwick: So we noticed that much of this research had sort of used these questionnaire type approaches where you’re asking people what they’re looking for. The better studies would do something a little bit more clever. They would say, introduce you, usually in the form of an online dating profile or something like that, to a series of people who very in attractiveness. And then you could ask the question, well, does the attractiveness of these various people that you’re looking at predict who you like, who you choose? And there were a few studies that had conceptualized the appeal of attractiveness that way. Not my theory about how much attraction this appeals to me, but sort of this enacted preference, something we actually call a functional preference, right?

If you present me with a series of mates that vary in attractiveness, to what extent am I likely to take the attractive ones relative to the unattractive ones? That’s like a more live in the moment way of capturing the extent to which attractiveness appeals to me. So there’ve been a few studies out there that had used that sort of approach but almost none that had used that kind of approach with people actually meeting face to face. And we thought well gee, ancestrally, certainly, and even in the modern day for the most part, people meet face to face before they start seeing where this thing is going. And so we wanted to see what did people’s functional preferences look like once these face to face meetings had taken place?

Brett McKay: So tell me about a story that you did to look into that idea a bit more.

Paul Eastwick: So one of the first studies that we conducted along these lines was a study with speed daters. So, we brought a number of men and women together who were single and looking to potentially date new people, but these folks hadn’t met each other before and these were heterosexual speed dating events. So, all of the men have a chance to meet all of the women. And so you’re meeting this array of people who are varying in attractiveness and then we look to see how much does attractiveness appeal to me as I go about selecting these people saying, oh, I’d like to meet you again and not you. You know, when rating how much I liked these various people. And sure enough physical attractiveness was a very strong predictor of the extent to which people liked their speed dating partners. But that association, the power of attractiveness was identical for men and women. Physical attractiveness as instantiated in these real people was just as powerful a predictor of initial attraction for men as it was for women. There was no sex difference there whatsoever.

Brett McKay: Interesting. So what do you think that says about the theory that’s out there that women prefer, you know, status and resources more, they rate that higher than men do? What’s going on there then?

Paul Eastwick: So it’s interesting. I mean, you know, one thing we’ve been trying to figure out is that it looks like there is some sort of self insight gap that is plaguing people, right? People aren’t totally off when you ask them sort of kinds of qualities and attributes they like in general, there’s often a little bit of an association there, especially when people are in very simple environments. Right? So if I asked you how much do you like sweetness when it comes to your breakfast cereals, you will actually give me an answer that reflects pretty good self insight. But as the domain gets more and more complicated and when we get into the really complicated domain of romantic attraction, people’s insight just seems to fade. And the kinds of qualities they think are really appealing to them when you ask them in the abstract end up having very little relation to what actually appeals to them in the moment. So we do think there is this self insight gap there and what that means is that when you ask people about the kinds of qualities that they care about in a partner, you’re getting a lot of other stuff in those reports that don’t necessarily reflect strong self insight. Right? People might be reporting their sense of what desirable members of the opposite sex generally are like, right? As opposed to, you know, what are the traits that are really going to appeal to me specifically?

Brett McKay: Well, another interesting thing about speed dating is that it’s very, it’s all about initial attraction. Like the idea in evolutionary theory is that women put an emphasis on resources more than men because they’re looking for a longterm companion. Does the short duration of speed dating, does that change things like how women evaluate or do you think just like no, women actually put emphasis on attraction more than they think they do?

Paul Eastwick: That’s a great question. I think that, and then when we ran those first studies, that was sort of the next question for us was, well, okay, is this limited to initial attraction? Maybe some of these sex differences start to emerge later and we actually conducted a very large scale study a few years later. It’s called a meta analysis and in a meta analysis, you just bring many different data sets together that can all address a similar question. And so we had data from tens of thousands of participants that look across the full span of people’s relationships. So not just initial attraction, but also what happens in dating relationships. What happens in married relationships. Do you see these sex differences playing out? Now we can look at these same kinds of associations in these datasets. So generally, when women are married to men who have more versus fewer resources, do they tend to be happier in those relationships?

And importantly, if we asked the same question of men, are men happier when they’re in relationships with women who have status on resources, are they happier? So when we look at all of those effects and all of those associations across all of these datasets, we end up seeing, again, no evidence for these sex differences. So to go back to the status and resources example, there’s a small effect that people tend to be happier in their relationships when their partner has more status and more resources. It’s not nearly as large as physical attractiveness and initial attraction, but that effect is just as strong for men as it is for women, which frankly we found a little mind blowing, right? The idea that that men are a little bit happier in their relationships when their women have status and resources. That was not intuitive to us going into this study, but this was a pretty large swath of evidence that seemed to suggest that you know what? The status resources effect, when you look across datasets in this aggregated way, you don’t see much of a sex difference there.

Brett McKay: Okay. So meta analysis shows that men and women are actually, there’s not that much of a difference. When you look at things at a broad view. You also did some interesting research to that show that whether you find someone attractive or not depends on a lot on how long we’ve known them. Can you talk about that? Walk us through that research?

Paul Eastwick: Yes, definitely. So this goes back to this sort of classic trait based approach, right? I mean, the reason we’re asking questions about why we think physical attractiveness is more appealing to men or women. Same thing with status and resources is because classically the field has treated mating and mate selection in this trait based way, right? There’s a reality that you possess that’s determined by your traits. And like again, my job as a mate selector is to assess those traits and then make my selections accordingly. I think what that perspective misses, at least with respect to humans, is that part of the mate selection process in humans ancestrally wouldn’t have been about finding the objectively best mate, or even the objectively best mate that you could get given your own mate value, it would be about this ephemeral thing called compatibility.

And that’s because a lot of what mate selection was about in our ancestral past was about coordination and interdependence, right? So in order to raise these very costly offspring, I have to essentially set up an effective coordinated system with you and not just you, but also your family members and my family members. Right? But the pair bonding process and then what it takes to raise these costly offspring is not something that’s just about your traits and my traits. It’s also about how well we fit together and how well we work together. And so another of the main mate selection tasks that people have to solve is this assessment of compatibility. And that’s a lot trickier than assessing whether or not somebody has desirable traits.

Brett McKay: Gotcha. So this is what you’d call it, I guess you’d call it relational attributes of-

Paul Eastwick: Yes. Right. It’s a way of thinking about the concept of mate value, but in a relational way. Right? The idea is simply that, you know, somebody might not have the most desirable traits in the world, but because of the way we fit together, this person has tremendous mate value for me specifically. And I think that’s a useful way of thinking about the compatibility concept. Now what it suggests is that, you know, when we all get together and rate each other’s traits, sure there’s bound to be some agreement. We’re going to agree on who is attractive and who isn’t. But what’s going on with the disagreements that we have? Is it just random error? Are we guessing or is there something systematic and important about those disagreements that also tell us something about the way mate selection works?

Brett McKay: Well, walk us through the study you did with college students where you had them rate each other’s attractiveness the first day of class and then done the same thing three months later.

Paul Eastwick: Right, so that’s exactly what we did. So we had these students in a class, they had just met each other and all of the opposite sex pairs in the class are rating each other in terms of their attractiveness, but other traits classically related to mate selection, things like intelligence, things like status and what you see at the beginning of the academic semester is that there’s pretty strong agreement there about who is attractive and who isn’t. Now there’s also a lot of idiosyncratic variance as well and in fact you can compare these things to each other mathematically and you see about as much consensus as you do idiosyncratic variability. So there’s a healthy amount of agreement about who’s attractive and who isn’t, but also important, real disagreement, right? I think this person is more attractive than you do, right? That doesn’t mean that I’m right and you’re wrong, or vice versa. That’s legitimate disagreement there on top of the existing consensus, but then we followed them up at the end of the semester and what we found at that point was that things had started to shift. But it shifted in a way that’s a little bit counterintuitive. People’s consensus about who was attractive in the class actually went down relative to the beginning of the semester and that idiosyncratic variability, the disagreements and you know, sort of in parallel increased.

So in other words, as I get to know you better, we start agreeing less about whether or not you’re attractive, right? The people who you know especially well start to agree less and less about how desirable you are and we think this is reflective of this idiosyncratic nature of the way mate value Works. As I get to know you better and better, you make a joke that I think is particularly unfunny, but somebody else thinks that’s quite funny. That feeds into your attractiveness judgments of the person. You make other remarks in class. I witnessed you doing something really nice for somebody, but somebody else doesn’t witness that. That feeds into your attractiveness judgment, so because when we form impressions of each other over time, the meaning of those different behavioral nuggets can be interpreted so differently by the people who are observing you and sort of judging you and considering you as a potential mate. That’s what causes that consensus to decline and what causes this increase in idiosyncratic judgments of who is desirable and who’s not.

Brett McKay: That’s really interesting. So let’s unpack some things here. So when you did the initial evaluation, there was a consensus not only on physical attractiveness but also things like character, humor. There was a consensus there as well?

Paul Eastwick: Right. So we also asked people questions like if you were in a relationship with this person, how good would the relationship be? Right? Again, these people have not met for all that long and yet they’re still reaching some consensus about judgements like that too. It’s not nearly as high as the consensus they reach when it comes to judgments of physical attractiveness, but you know, they are sort of looking at these folks around them saying like, oh, maybe being in a relationship with this person would be good. This person, they seem to have good character, but you know, people at the beginning, they’re drawing from stereotypes. They’re drawing from snap judgments as they sort of make these determinations.

Brett McKay: I imagine like the halo effect is also going on like, you know, typically attractive people are seen as, you know, more honest, trustworthy, high status, etc, etc.

Paul Eastwick: Exactly, exactly. I mean it’s just, you know, some people at the beginning of the semester they’ve got this glow about them and that’s what’s sort of producing the consensus on all of these sorts of judgments certainly.

Brett McKay: Okay. And then as you went on, you get to know people more and more. That’s when things started, the consensus just basically went away completely.

Paul Eastwick: Yeah. I mean for judgments of things like this person is going to be a good relationship partner. I’d like to be in a relationship with this person. The consensus went down on those measures substantially. There’s still a little bit there, but it definitely goes down over time. We also ran a similar study among people who had known each other for a few years on average. Right? So this is as if we’re tapping into your network, right? If you’re a heterosexual man, we’re tapping into your network of female friends and acquaintances, right? So if you think about those women in your life that your friends, your acquaintances, you know, maybe there’s an ex in there, what do these women think of you? Did they agree about how desirable you are as a partner? About how attractive you are. And those folks exhibited the least consensus out of anybody.

So the people who know you the best are the people who agree that least on what you are like when it comes to these romantic sorts of judgments. And that’s another important caveat too, because usually we think like, well, the more somebody gets to know me, people should agree on what I am really like. There’s a reality to who I am as a person and you know that’s true for things like what your personality is like, but when it comes to these romantic judgments, the fact that we see this increasing disagreement as people get to know each other, suggest to us that you know what ever the mate value truth is about a person seems to be quite ephemeral. It seems to disappear the better you get to know somebody and you’re left with these very idiosyncratic impressions that some person is really great for me and this person is really not so great for me.

Brett McKay: So this can go back to, we were talking about a sort of mating, right? So there’s this idea that attractive people end up with attractive people, but what this research suggests that the longer someone knows you, they might initially not have found you physically attractive or attractive, but they got to know you and you end up in a relationship with them. Right? And so you’re less attractive than she is. I guess that can sort of put a wrench in this idea that equally attractive people always end up with each other.

Paul Eastwick: Right. Exactly. And so that was, you know, as we conducted this research, the assorted of mating question loomed large because it suggested, well, okay, if we all disagree about who is attractive and who’s not, then why is it that you see assortative mating out there in the world? And so the way we resolve this is by thinking, well, okay, when some relationships form, they form relatively quickly after two people initially meet each other, but other relationships, people know each other for months or even years before they ultimately get together. And what if that distinction, that dimension explains where some of the variability on assortative mating comes from. That is what if the people who get together quickly, that’s where you see the matches, right? Because these people are largely operating based on consensus, but the mismatches come as people get to know each other better over time. That opens up the opportunity for, maybe he or she is not the most attractive person on the planet, but as you get to know him or her, you start see this person as being quite attractive. That can then start to create some of those mismatches.

Brett McKay: So, there’s the stereotype of like the more attractive women ending up with a lesser attractive guy, like the guy dates up or whatever they talk about. Does it also work the other way around too? Like sometimes really attractive guys end up with women who would be objectively rated not as attractive?

Paul Eastwick: Yes. So the flip side of that definitely does happen. But the caveat, I think, what my guess is that if most of your listeners try to call to mind one example or the other, it is going to be easier for them to call to mind the schlubby guy with the attractive woman. But part of that is caused by the fact that on average women are more attractive than men. So that’s a little wrinkle in there that produces this. And usually when we talk about assortative mating, what we miss is that we’ll actually in all of these relationships on average, the woman is more attractive than the guy by about a half of a standard deviation. That’s a pretty reasonably sized effect. And so that’s an important component of this as well, that women generally tend to be rated as more attractive than men on average when you look at a reasonably sized swaths of real life men and women.

Brett McKay: But how do you think your research compliments or doesn’t compliment, this evolutionary approach of human mating because like, I mean, a lot of people will have, there’s whole industries, the pickup artist stuff that are based around this evolutionary approach to human mating where you have to like, you know, they tell guys how to increase their mate value on these specific traits. What do you think your research does that idea that’s out there?

Paul Eastwick: Yeah, I mean, you know, I only know a little bit about sort of the pickup artist techniques and the pickup artist scene and certainly a lot of those techniques and tactics are designed to be effective in initial attraction settings, right? Where you’re meeting people for the first time and those are certainly settings where you know you’re going to cue into these traits that are very easy to pick up very quickly. It takes some time to really get a sense of whether or not you know, there’s something about, like a unique fit between us and often that’s sort of not exactly what the pickup artists are going for necessarily. So sort of looking for makes you idiosyncratically desirable to somebody else is you know, probably a technique that’s going to be more useful to people who are cultivating the possibility of forming relationships over a longer period of time.

That being said, I think it would be really interesting to sort of clearly hone and define what these effective pickup tactics are and then train both male and female confederates to use these tactics in initial attraction settings and see how effective they are. Now, maybe they’ll only be effective for the men using these tactics and women who sort of dress with the fancy hats and sort of use these clever lines, maybe they won’t be appealing, but I don’t know. I’d like to see the data. I wonder if those sorts of tactics, if women used them, would also be pretty appealing.

Brett McKay: And how do you think your research complements the more classic evolutionary approach to human mating?

Paul Eastwick: I think in some ways it’s very complimentary, right? We aren’t saying that people don’t care about traits like physical attractiveness. Of course they do, but we’re saying that the relative amount of sort of consensus going for the popular person, that there’s a truth to how desirable you are, that’s true in some settings, but not all settings relative to mate selection. Right? And settings where people get to know each other better, people start, whether they know it or not, making judgements that have this more idiosyncratic compatibility element to it. I think with respect to some of the sex differences in the appeal of attractiveness or the appeal of status resources, you know, I do think our perspective is harder to reconcile with the evolutionary perspective on that front in the sense that I think when we look at people’s impressions of real people, when we look at how people are actually acting in their relationships, I think those sorts of studies get closer to tapping the kinds of judgments that really would have mattered in a functional way when people were evolving as opposed to what people’s circle on rating scales. So, I think some elements are that we present are very complimentary, some are more challenging.

Brett McKay: And what do you think are some practical takeaways from this research? For people who are in the dating game?

Paul Eastwick: And that’s a good question. So I do think that there is a tendency to think about the mating and dating as being about a game of first impressions, a game of how does it go when you meet somebody else? Do you sufficiently impress them that they want to hook up with you or they want to give you their number, etc. And another really important thing that we find that some of our research is that the vast majority of relationships, whether short term or long term, do not form this way. People’s hookups and longterm relationships are usually come out of their networks of friends and acquaintances that these, as I talked about before, people have networks of their heterosexual opposite sex individuals that sort of float in and out of their lives. And that’s where most of these romantic experiences come from. So I think what’s often hard for people, let’s say they moved to a new city and their social network is pretty thin. It can get very frustrating to be out there dating and trying to meet new people and not having a lot of success.

But in some ways the problem is that getting out there and meeting people with initial impressions is always a very tough way to go regardless of what kind of relationship you’re looking for. It’s the thinness of your social network that is often the real problem. So if I were to give anybody advice who’s struggling with dating, it’s the more effort you can put into just sort of building your network, gradually building the people that you know and spend time with getting to meet new people without immediate expectations of something becoming romantic or sexual right away, that’s ultimately going to be a more fulfilling process. Right? It’s like diversify your portfolio and give it time to grow and expand rather than, you know, like keep hitting the same bars over and over again. I think it’s likely to be a much more fulfilling experience to do the former rather than the ladder.

Brett McKay: And what do you think your research says about dating apps? Because these things like Tinder, they’re all based on initial physical attraction or you swipe right because you just see a picture of someone who’s attractive or not.

Paul Eastwick: Right, exactly, and it is interesting how online dating has in some ways up ended this sort of traditional way of forming relationships where relationships, again, sexual hookups or longterm grow out of the networks that people have and with online dating sites and with apps give certainly the sense that there are all these options out there, right? As you’re sort of looking at all the various possibilities in front of you and you’re swiping right and swiping left, you get the sense that there are many possibilities out there and people are often effective at leveraging these sorts of encounters into immediate sexual hookups and things like that. So there’s nothing wrong with that and that’s often a very good way to go for people. I think for people who get, who are starting to get a little burned out on the apps or feeling like, oh my God, I’m spending a lot of time on these.

Again, thinking about these apps as ways of expanding your social network, not you know, solely a means of immediate sexual gratification could also be very, very useful. That, you know, that is, you might go on a Tinder date with somebody and it might just be okay, but you did have this one interest in common and you start spending time with the person and get to know some of their friends and your friends meet their friends and that starts to snowball and expand that way. So I think if we don’t, you know, dichotomize our relationship so much into, you know, these are the people I have sex with, these are my friends, but we sort of again think about a network of people that we know and we allow that network to grow and change over time. I think that ends up sort of giving people the best possible options.

Brett McKay: So you use the apps as a tool to increase your network. Not necessarily to get a romantic relationship.

Paul Eastwick: Right. I mean you can use it for that too, but again, my sense from people that use these apps and I confess, I have not done online dating in a very long time, well before there were the apps. But you know, my sense is that people start to burn out, right? Because they go on a lot of coffee dates before they find somebody that they even remotely like and sometimes it’s useful to find ways of even turning those meh coffee dates into a win. And again, if we don’t think about Tinder and other apps as an immediate road to a hookup that it’s really more about expanding your social network. That I think tends to go better for people.

Brett McKay: And we had Kate Julian, the Atlantic writer, she wrote that article about the sex recession she talked about people getting burnt out and then also people just not having any luck with the apps. So say you’re a guy, you’re not super physically attractive. So they never get a match because you know, women just like swipe left on them and they found that, okay, if I just start dating in person, I actually have better luck there because people get to know that I’m funny and charming and I’m kind, etc, etc.

Paul Eastwick: Right, right. Exactly. I mean, the apps do put many people at a substantial disadvantage.

Brett McKay: So, I think it sounds like the big takeaway here is, you know, physical attractiveness, those play a role, but there’s much more nuance to human relationships than what we think there is.

Paul Eastwick: Yeah. I think that’s right and that the humans evolved in relatively small groups where we got to know each other over long stretches of time and the possible mates that you are going to have over the course of your life, it was a pretty small group and it was probably a group of people that you tended to know pretty well and that is an evolved reality that’s tough to reconcile with the fact that many young people today are very mobile. They move from place to place and they also often live in large cities where there is vast swathes of people out there. So I think to create a community of people is often the thing that helps people as they negotiate the romantic landscape.

Brett McKay: Well Paul, it’s been a great conversation. Where can people go to learn more about your work?

Paul Eastwick: They can go to my website. It’s PaulEastwick.com. Very straightforward, and there we have our publications and links to videos and things that explain the kind of work that we do.

Brett McKay: Yeah, I love it. You have all your PDFs, your research and PDFs there, which I really appreciate. So, so thanks for making that available. Paul Eastwick. Thanks so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.

Paul Eastwick: Yes. Thank you. I’ve really enjoyed this.

Brett McKay: My guest, it was Paul Eastwick. He’s professor of psychology at UC Davis. You can find out all the research he’s done. He’s got them all in PDFs for free at his website. PaulEastwick.com. Go check that out. Also check out our show notes at aom.is/eastwick where you find links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic.

Well, that wraps up another edition of the podcast. Check out our website at artofmanliness.com. You can find thousands of well-researched, thorough articles and just about anything, relationships, personal finances, health and fitness. You name it. We’ve got it. And if you haven’t done so already, I’d appreciate if you’d take one minute to give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. It helps out a lot and if you’ve done that already, thank you. Please consider sharing the show with a friend or family member if you think they could get something out of it. As always, thank you for the continued support. And until next time, this is Brett McKay, encouraging you to not only listen to the podcast, but put what you’ve learned into action.

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