On Dodging Bullets



Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

Related Post Roulette

142 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I was lucky. I didn’t know what my answer was. (Or, more accurately, I was wrong about what my answer was and I stumbled into a relationship where the answer happened to match up anyway.)

    “Writes essays, reads essays, puts up with speeches destined to become essays.”Report

  2. Avatar Maribou says:

    I only write essays when someone makes me.

    *side-eye* Is that why you keep pushing me into furthering my education? We’re going to top out eventually, you know.

    *goes back to writing an essay on profit-sharing with copyright holders in peer-to-peer networks, now that she knows who to blame*Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    Last time i was dating about 10 years ago i set myself a rule. When i met a woman i was excited about i would let myself fantasize about her ( I don’t mean just sexually at all, i mean in all the ways we might have great future) up until 24 hours before we had a date. The day before the date was the time to let my pic of who she could be go, so that i could see her for whoever she was. The fantasy was all about me and only clouded my sight. That rule worked out well for meReport

  4. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    You old softie.Report

  5. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    It’s all true, but that problem you’ve described seems to be the case with the single ladies I know. Not so much with the single men, who seem to begin with the criteria “will have sex with me”.

    With my wife, I suppose the sole criteria was summed up with Dave Barry’s joke. I wanted to be with someone who was nice to waiters and my friends and to most people. I got tired of having girlfriends who turned out to be snobs. My wife is one of those people who gets into long conversations with strangers at the grocery store.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The single ladies I know have broken up with men who were, by their own admission, almost exactly what they were looking for.

      The ex-boyfriend has since gotten married to someone else. I found myself boggling at the conversation about how awful it was that he found someone else and got married.Report

  6. Avatar James Hanley says:

    For me the critical criteria was having a sense of humor. On my first “date” with my now-wife (which wasn’t intended to be a date, but was a spur of the moment thing when I was given tickets to a basketball game and the friend I did such things with couldn’t go), I got us going the wrong way on the subway and then wandered aimlessly around the University of California campus trying to find an arena I’d never been to. She found all the confusion hilarious, in a good-hearted way.

    I would quibble with Jaybird that there are probably at least two, maybe three, critical qualities (a sense of humor without honesty, for example, would not be acceptable to me), but in general, he’s quite right. A very few things matter tremendously, the rest you adjust to, or choose to be miserable.Report

  7. Avatar boegiboe says:

    I don’t know about all this. I agree with having a specific person in mind with whom you’re in love being an error. But then how does having a specific trait help you out of that? Having that specific trait is probably bundled with all kinds of stuff in your head. You still have to be able to let go entirely of your preconceptions, including whether that person has the all-important trait enough to fall in love with them.

    Jason wasn’t my dream at all. I wanted a singer and I got a sing-a-phobic. I wanted a cute lil’ blond dude and I got a tall-dark-and-handsome. I wanted smart, but not quite as smart as me. I got blindingly brilliant, but in different directions than I thought I liked.

    I suppose the one thing I needed, which I didn’t know I needed, is love of language. But I really searched hard inside myself to figure out what I wanted and couldn’t come up with the right answer until it found me. I’d say what you’ve really got to do is ask the questions of yourself, and then ask them again as you change and mature. Who can I live with, and who can I not live without? But then accept that when real love comes your way, your answers might have been wrong.

    It’s the planning that makes for a good voyage, not adhering to the plan.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      One thing that keeps popping up in my conversations with my recently divorced friend (his ex-wife initiated the divorce, for what it’s worth… he didn’t) is that when he talks about dating new folks, he keeps mentioning “looks”.

      I remember that old country song lyric “you might think she’s pretty, but she only looks that way”. He’s ruling out some folks based on what they look like and only including others based on nothing more than what they look like.

      This strikes me as a magnificently designed way to keep oneself unhappy for not only the long term but the middle term unless one is spectacularly lucky (which, I think, we can rule out because we’re having this conversation in the first place).Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        Out of curiosity, is it possible that this trait of his had anything to do with his wife initiating the divorce?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Hrm. I don’t know how to answer this.

          I’ll answer as someone biased in the position of being a friend of the ex-husband and not particularly a friend of the ex-wife: if you were to see a picture of her, you would say that she is quite attractive (the word “cute” would probably be first to mind).Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Everybody should date a high-maintenance and/or screwed up hot girl at least once. You learn a lot from it.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          “Seriously? You care about that?”

          Half of me winces at the memory of what followed. The other half says “it was worth it.”Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          Yeah, you learn never to trust anyone who’s screwed up, or anyone who’s good looking.

          Actually, my graduate adviser published an article from some laboratory research that showed that good looking women were more likely to defect in prisoner’s dilemma games than average or below looking women and more than men. It wasn’t what they were looking for in their research, but was one of those odd things that popped out of the data.

          The really sad part is that despite their untrustworthiness, others, both men and women, were more likely to cooperate with the attractive women, thus getting repeatedly suckered by the hot chicks.Report

          • Avatar KenB says:

            Seems like paragraph 3 explains paragraph 2 pretty well.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            JamesH, only beta males defer to the alpha females of the tribe. [And of course the gamma males as well.] This explains Sarah Palin of course. Girl is hottttttttt, and is really no stupider than beta Joe Biden, who lost their debate to her and he can’t even see Russia from his house in Delaware.

            [For the record, I’m thankful that Sarah is not VP, and also grateful that Barack Obama still lives.]

            [Hillary: still a beta. Margaret Thatcher, an alpha. Elizabeth I, Victoria and Churchill combined.

            Heard one of my CA senators, Diane Feinstein [the other is an idiot and an ideologue] on NPR today—at age 78, DiFi is still an astonishing alpha regardless of gender. If she hadn’t ridden to public office on her husband’s dirty money, she’s been the best man for the job since at least 2000.]

            [Oh, well. Such is American politics. Had it been her own dirty money, the same observation applies in spades.]Report

            • Avatar Kimmi says:

              Apparently not terribly familiar with rat-type betas. Nor pigs, in general. Actually, I think you don’t have much understanding of the differences between alphas and betas, and how betas are more likely to have power in our contemporary society. Maybe I ought to do a post?Report

            • Avatar Alex Knapp says:

              Alpha/beta hierarchies don’t apply to human social organization. Or primates. Or anything, because it was made up bullshit by a wolf researcher and it doesn’t apply to wolves.

              Sorry, pet peeve of mine, but you can’t categorize people quite so easily.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                The Chinese zodiac does a decent job of categorizing people.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Myers-Briggs has the benefit of testability.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                well, if you’re accepting the chinese zodiac as a compendium of types of humans, and not as a “we can assign you based on your birthdate/day/time”, it’s reasonably testable too.
                I can give you reasonable definitions to what a pig is, what a monkey is, etc. Not everyone’s categorizable this way, naturally, but not everyone fits neatly into meyers briggs either.
                And as a neat trick, the chinese zodiac characterizes sexuality a whole lot easier than meyers briggs.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                At that point it almost feels circular rather than arbitrary.

                “You’re sneaky and ambitious. You’re a rat.”
                “I’m a rat?”
                “You’re sneaky and ambitious.”Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                rat-type sexuality relies either on socially-imposed dominance, or on taking it really slowly and sneakily, so that the girl doesn’t even realize what’s happening.

                It’s a character type/trait that is reasonably specific (I can even give some basic physical features), and definitely non-arbitrary.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Here’s the one I use: “I’m glad I brought my library card. BECAUSE I AM CHECKING YOU OUT.”Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                well, if you’re accepting the chinese zodiac as a compendium of types of humans, and not as a “we can assign you based on your birthdate/day/time”, it’s reasonably testable too.

                You crack me up.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:


                You are an INFJ. Correct/incorrect?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Yes, yes I think you are:


                You are a rare, beautiful, and sensitive bird, Jay, and (from what I can tell on the interwebz) a wonderful human being who makes me want to be a better one bc of your example. No foolin’. Because I know we knock heads a bit here, I want you to also know all of that as well. So now you do.

                Sorry for the mush.


              • Avatar Maribou says:

                He’s an INTP. He is such an INTP that I can usually tell when I meet other INTPs in person (which is damn rare) because they remind me of him so strongly.

                (see http://www.personalitypage.com/INTP.html – especially the 3rd and 4th paragraphs )

                I will say that he’s not *quite* as hostile to the idea that some of his beliefs are just personal preferences as some INTPs I know, but I attribute that to his living with a touchy-feely XNFP for more than a decade.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Awesome. I am an INT(right on the cusp with F, though)P myself, though that test occurred when I was like 14 years old, so perhaps I should have gotten that. When people guess my type wrong, I sometimes (irrationally) feel like I’m being given short shrift in some way, so I hope he didn’t take it that way. I didn’t know that INFJs were the rarest of the types – I just did the estimation from afar on each of the binaries, and then Googled to see what it said about the type that resulted. I was surprised how much I thought some of what that page jibes with a lot of what we see of Jay here, so I thought I’d share it. But of course – that is the tiniest sliver of his full self, I fully recognized, so the type-guessing was all done to some extent with my tongue firmly plated in my cheek. The words about the man himself, though, were not said that way.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I assume that all of us here are INTPs or INTJs, with the exceptions of the ladyfolk, who are INFPs or INFJs.

                Evil Jaybird would like to point out that this is because the Es are out talking to real people and the Ss are… doing whatever Ss do. Hitting rocks with other rocks or something.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I mean, thank you.

                This is my favorite place in the universe to butt heads. I wouldn’t want to butt them anywhere else.

                It’s because of the quality of all y’all.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                I’ve had the M-B done to me twice.

                INFP when I was 18, and ENTJ when I was 26. The F-T and P-J splits were all just a bit off center, both way; the I-E went from “significantly introverted” to “a bit extroverted”.

                I’m a little bit farther away from the center towards “N”, though. People are often surprised when they hear this. Self-training overcoming inclinations, I guess.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I feel(!) like there may be a few more Fs among the menfolk here than you allow, but generally I agree on the INxx.

                Cracking rocks against other rocks. That is funny. Information!Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                I’m an E. I think of you as real people.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Yeah, Jay –


                You’re clearly a T. I was thinking of your recent explanation of thinking about the person on the wrong side of the power dynamic. But that is in itself a systematic approach to arriving at a right answer, not a consideration of the specific people in a specific situation. Maybe to us Ts (or this T), even a little bit of F-ing, even in the context of a T-type decision process, makes someone look F-ish to us.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                I’m ENTP, but I’m really a closet introvert (like deep conversations, but get a lot of energy out of being in crowds…)
                [boys are split 60/40 T/f, girls are split 40/60..]Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I assume the INTP’s here understand that both the validity and reliability of Myers-Briggs is pretty fishin’ shitty (we should have a word for shitty, too… fishin’ shippy?). Everything but the I/E scale, at least, which if I remember correctly correlates fairly well with other measures of introversion/extroversion, and has moderate to strong test-retest reliability.

                Yes, that’s meant to be partially ironic.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                For a social sciences kinda test, it’s got friggin’ Newtonian levels of repeatability.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Really? It’s probably been since the late 90s/early 2000s since I read any literature on the topic, but from what I remember, the test-retest reliability was somewhere in the neighborhood of .5 even with short intervals, which for something that’s supposed to be about your core personality, is pretty damn shitty (shippy? shifty? well, that last one’s literal).

                If you want Newtonian levels of predictability, social science version, go with the Big 5. It’s validity and reliability are much more widely accepted among social and personality psychologists.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Big 5 reminds me too much of the humors.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:


                IIRC, most of the bad press thrown M-B’s way can be explained by the fact that it’s very rarely used under proper conditions.

                Such is the difficulty with potentially decent social science tools: popularity encourages web forms and brevity.Report

              • I’m an ENTJ. You probably all think I’m weird. Although I’ve moved more towards I since having kids, and more towards P as a function of maturity. N and T are strong! I am a rock. I am an island.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Patrick, almost all of the social psychology research I see uses the Big 5 (I don’t like to talk to them, but I do go to their talks), and the personality psychologists I’ve known over the years used Big 5 and other measures as well. I don’t know of much serious research using Myers-Briggs, in large part because it has validity and reliability issues. Big 5 correlates with other stuff much better, even if it does make Jaybird think of the humors (I wonder where I fit on the phlegmatic dimension?).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The Big 5, similarly to the humors, uses language that tilts virtuous. You’re supposed to be more of this and less of that (but not *TOO* too much).

                I like the “some people are like *THIS* and some people are like *THAT*” thing that M-B has goin’ on.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                “Alpha/beta hierarchies don’t apply to human social organization. Or primates. Or anything, because it was made up bullshit by a wolf researcher and it doesn’t apply to wolves.”

                I think you are wrong, Alex – though in a very ironic way. I know a lot of men who, having learned the concept of the alpha male, have gone to great lengths to craft themselves an alpha male self-identity; I likewise know women who upon learning the same actively seek these men out.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                I was gonna let this slide, Alex, but of course there are alpha males & females in primates. And although it’s not directly translatable to humans, the dynamic certainly exists. Taller, smarter, better-looking, all these things have social benefits.

                Hey, I’m an “all men are created equal” man by ideology, but it ain’t empirically so.

                And I was referring to human sexuality, with a very interesting link to the effects of The Pill on female psycho-sexuality. I find it fascinating.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                It’s kinda hard to “craft an alpha male identity”, ain’t it?
                Fer one thing, your face can nix you right out, if you’ve got too feminine of a face.
                Fer a second thing, physical features can nix you right out (being fat, or skinny — you’re looking for mesomorphs).

                True alpha males are
                1) Football Players
                2) Politicians/Car Salesmen (working again on charisma)
                3) People who girls will naturally submit to (nb: attraction is not entering into this…).

                Alpha males tend to have a much more permissive attitude towards public sex (because they feel less vulnerable, and don’t really conceive of not being able to get what they want.), and in general be less focused on breeding.

                They also tend to have smaller equipment (designed for more frequent use).

                In general, they select partners based on “who is prettiest” — which used to be a good gauge of fitness, but now just means the mediocre “social-climber.” They are being gradually bred out of society (through both becoming stupider, having less success, and in general being less successful at propagating to new generations).

                It’s nerd camp that has all the illicit breeding, after all…Report

        • I’ve had two relationships that, when they ended, made me marvelously happy and relieved. One guy looked like Matt Damon at his youngest and cutest, and the other would regularly get approached by modeling scouts. Both had really glaring character flaws, which were the only thing I saw after a very short period of time. The hotness wore right off with amazing speed.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            Two guys meet for a drink.

            “I want you to hear this from me. I’m divorcing Sally.” [Or Sam, if you prefer, next paragraph mutatis mutandis.]

            “What? Why? Sally’s beautiful, and she’s sweet, and she’s funny, and she’s smart, and seems to me that any man would be thrilled to have her as a wife. Why would you walk away from that?”

            “You see these shoes? Italian leather. Hand-crafted. They’ve lasted for years and will last a lifetime more if I want them to. Best shoes available anywhere, at any price. And only I know where they pinch.”Report

        • Avatar Fish says:

          How about dating someone a handful of years younger than you until you find yourself saying things like, “No I can’t stay out all night and ‘party.’ I have a job I have to go to in the morning.”Report

  8. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    Kindness is sexy. Then again, mebbe not.


    Kindness—meekness—can get a mother and her children killed. I respect pacifism and gentleness, but even as a masculine person, I would not want one neither as friend let alone father in a dark alley.

    First and foremost, you want someone who has your back. Such is the human condition.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      So you’re advocating for finding a mate who isn’t kind, ’cause you never know when you’re going to get into a street fight?

      Things in Cali must be much worse than I have heard.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        Tod, the link was about females. EO Wilson, bioimperatives, whathaveyou. I found it provocative, and for more reasons than just the surface one. Think on it, if you would be so kind. [Why chicks dig testosteronic assholes.]

        No, I don’t need my old lady to save my life. As it turns out, I did marry one, though. She’s not only a Clipper fan, she could kick your ass and probably mine when push came to shove, because she wouldn’t even think twice about killing to assure survival for her and hers. Lioness, baby. Real world.

        But yeah, I’d rather a friend and esp a father who has my back rather than one who lives in his head and would let ME die for his principles. Fuck, yeah. I reckon I’d give my life for Mohandas K. Gandhi and mebbe even Adolf Hitler, but I’d rather not, and it wouldn’t be gladly, that’s for damn sure.

        But as always, Brother Tod, we stir it up a little, eh? Always a pleasure, a symposium.Report

        • I never really fingered you a fan of E.O. Wilson, TVD.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            I dig it all, Brother CC. Just read the update on Wilson’s latest work in Atlantic [link below].

            I have no idea what I think, gotta read it again [elderly scientists often go astray in an attempt to remain relevant, sorry] although EOW’s seminal “sociobiology” thesis seems to me just the scientific proof of “natural law,” as do recent studies of how the human brain works. [That the brain is built more to lie to ourselves and rationalize is both Hume and Calvin, before they could measure brain activity atall. Ain’t that a motherfucker? And I’m not a fan of either of ’em, but I think they were onto something, upon further review.]

            I am continually unsurprised as the new evidence about how man ticks trickles in from science.

            In the Atlantic article, what I didn’t know was that Stephen Jay Gould held him in scorn, and vice-versa. That surprises me not either. I’m not a Gould man, never really read him, but EO’s counter-ad hom is devastating:

            These contentions drew fierce criticism from all across the social sciences, and from prominent specialists in evolution such as Wilson’s late Harvard colleague, Stephen Jay Gould, who helped lead the charge against him.

            Wilson defined sociobiology for me as “the systematic study of the biological basis of all forms of social behavior in all organisms.” Gould savagely mocked both Wilson’s ideas and his supposed hubris in a 1986 essay titled “Cardboard Darwinism,” in The New York Review of Books, for seeking “to achieve the greatest reform in human thinking about human nature since Freud,” and Wilson still clearly bears a grudge.

            “I believe Gould was a charlatan,” he told me. “I believe that he was … seeking reputation and credibility as a scientist and writer, and he did it consistently by distorting what other scientists were saying and devising arguments based upon that distortion.”


            Me, CC, I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round. And I love it all. Wisdom isn’t synonymous with truth; it’s what you do with it.

            Thx for asking. I’m fine with setting Wilson and Gould up and seeing who gets caught in the crossfire.Report

            • Avatar Alex Knapp says:

              I liked Wilson’s early stuff, when he confined his theorizing to facts. Now he’s into the same old evolutionary psychology bullshit that’s hip now, despite not actually being useful as a predictive or having (much) substantive evidence to support it.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi says:

          all women are like that. It’s society that tries to twist that. You ever talk to a high school teacher about fights, you hear how boys fight all the time, but when girls fight… just wow.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            You get adrenaline going, and all civility flies out the window regardless of whether the participant is male or female.

            Guys might be a little better adapted to dealing with abnormal levels of testosterone, though. Hm; this is experimentally testable, if you don’t mind going to Hell…Report

  9. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I have friends that over the years have said, “I need to find a man/woman who is an architect or investment banker, who loves the outdoors, and has an artist’s soul, and passes these political litmus tests, and also X, Y and Z.” Sometimes they find these people; it rarely ends well.

    I have come to believe that if you know what it is that you want before you find it, you are totally screwed. When my wife and I began dating, I knew really, really quickly that I was going to ask her to marry me. All those things that I knew a future long-term-relationship candidate needed to possess – she lacked almost all of them. What she did bring to the table were things that I had never considered criteria. If I had been looking for my short list, I would totally blown my future.Report

    • Avatar Plinko says:

      I heartily endorse this view.

      In my experience, people are extremely bad at articulating the logic behind their emotions (there may be a rather obvious reason for this), doubling down on it seems like a bad idea.Report

      • Avatar JG New says:

        I concur – my partner and I have been together almost exactly 10 years now – and if I’d been briefed on her beforehand, I would almost certainly been not interested in the least. It’s helpful, I suppose, to have a trait or two in mind when looking for a relationship as Jaybird opines, but sometimes, perhaps often, I think, it’s very difficult to know what it is that your soul needs until you actually stumble over it.Report

  10. I really do enjoy this thread, but it also reminds me that as far as I know, this blog and its commentariat are dominated by males. Of which I’m one, of course.Report

  11. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    After reading that article, Kate Bolick gets exactly zero sympathy from me.

    I know it sounds harsh. I know it sounds even more harsh given that I’m in a fantastically happy 13-year relationship. But try looking at the facts.

    She had a good thing, and she gave it up for no reason she can even identify. She flails around a lot at an answer, casts some random aspersions at feminism, then finally answers her own question without even realizing it — she’s a user, and she doesn’t even recognize what a user she is.

    This sentence says it all: Allan and I had met when we worked together at a magazine in Boston (full disclosure: this one), where I was an assistant and he an editor; two years later, he quit his job to follow me to New York so that I could go to graduate school and he could focus on his writing.

    You don’t break up with a person like that. The definition of “a keeper” is someone who would quit his much better job so that you can go to graduate school.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      I agree the entire article just reeked of it deflection, denial and overanalysis. It is the literary equivalent of an ink cloud released to obscure the fact that she screwed up royally a decade ago and doesn’t want to come to grips with it so she tries and turns her personal error into some kind of discourse on the state of men and women today.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I can only make sweeping generalizations based on my own anecdotes but it seems to me that, when it comes to dinner, the guys I know say stuff like “I don’t care, so long as it’s pizza” while the gals I know say stuff like “pepperoni and onions and extra cheese from Borriello Brothers.”

      Luckily, Borriello Brothers exists.Report

    • Avatar Plinko says:

      I disagree here, sorta, I think she did Allen a favor by dumping him since she was/is clearly not ready for prime time. If she’d stuck it out she most likely would only have ruined their lives at some point.
      She just needs to figure out that what was wrong internally and stop trying to solve the society-wide conspiracy against her relationships.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      I have to disagree with Jason. I assume we’re not talking about a BF thing here so much as a mate – a husband, a companion to grow old with. People and relationships always end up being so much more – or less – than the sum of the “traits” one looks for.

      If you end a relationship in it’s early stages there are probably good reasons, whether or not you are aware of them. And those reasons probably say more about you than they do the other person. If you’re not in a place to make that kind of commitment to someone, you’re not in that place – even if they’re “a person like that.” (Whatever that means.) This guy might have been pretty high ranking on the scale of Guys You Should Commit To. And if that kind of ranking meant anything past a Tiger Beat or Cosmo self-test her deciding to go another direction would have been a shame – but it doesn’t.

      People who’s goal is to marry a ‘keeper’ can probably do so easily by following The Rules (http://www.therulesbook.com/). And good luck to them with all the years following “I do.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:


        • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

          I was amazed when I googled to get a link that it appears to still be a thing.

          It made me sad.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Jaybird, I think you should write a post about The Rules.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            I try to be feminist (I fail a lot, but I try). I try to be enlightened. I try to take the experiences of others into account. I try to keep an open mind.

            When I discuss such things as The Rules, Evil Jaybird bubbles up. Not the urbane Lawful Evil Jaybird either. The Chaotic Evil Troglodyte Jaybird.

            Hulk Smash.

            I try to stay away.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Do you feel the same way about The Game or whatever the male equivalent was called?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The Game strikes me as vaguely pathetic attempts for “beta” males to act like “alpha” males. Remember the Tom Cruise character in Magnolia? The scene where he’s listening to the one guy cry and tell the story about how “and after all that, she just wanted to be friends!” and Tom Cruise said “it’s very brave of you to tell us that story and I’m sure that all of us here can relate to it” a few minutes before talking about “jealousy traps” and whatnot.

                I see “The Game” not as Alpha Males learning how to nail even more chicks but guys who are attracted, for whatever reason, to the chicks most likely to reject them to change the pattern and actually start going after someone who will actually consummate a relationship.

                That is, behind the facade of trolling for tail, it’s an attempt to actually create intimacy.

                (But what about Mystery and those guys who sing the praises of the Mystery Method?, you ask. Well, Mystery is bi-polar to the point where he has to be put on suicide watch periodically. If you spend your life lying, you should expect to, at the very least, be unmoored in the quiet moments where it’s just you and you by yourself. Mystery is not suicidal because he’s crazy. He’s suicidal because he’s not.)Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                … The art of speed seduction is just one guy trying to make more pigs. It won’t work, I don’t think… but it’s a good try.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                To be as charitable to The Rules as to The Game is something that’s fairly easy to do in theory… if you imagine that the average Rules Girl is someone who is trying to overcome such things as always sleeping with someone on the first date and subsequently not being valued in the relationship or in someone telling herself “YOU WILL NOT CALL HIM AND LEAVE HIM A FOURTH ANSWERING MACHINE MESSAGE!”

                In those cases, yeah. I see “The Rules” as an attempt at self-help and, as such, as a good set of guidelines to push oneself to have more healthy relationships.

                HOWEVER. In practice, I have not seen The Rules be used like this. I’ve seen it used by chicks who were sharking to find Power Husbands and who got divorced fairly (well, by my lights, anyway) quickly.

                The difference is that what I’ve seen of The Game is from pitiable guys who keep hamstringing themselves trying to learn to stop doing that while what I’ve seen of The Rules is from Power Women trying to catch Power Husbands.

                This could be only my experience and I could very easily have a skewed perspective because of my gender and personal history.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Aside: I have recommended The Rules to the friend I mentioned in the second paragraph (the “one of my friends who could have written (the article)”) after she was telling me about yet another jerky jerk of a boyfriend who didn’t treat her with anything approaching respect.

                “Dude. You need to read the rules and then you need to follow them.”

                She didn’t. She’s still dating jerks. Sigh.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                NaNoWriMo idea:

                Have a nice guy who keeps getting stepped on start playing The Game. Have a nice gal who keeps getting stepped on start playing The Rules. Have them meet cute in a bar. They keep trying to have a real date where they can be real instead of following the stupid commandments given them by their adopted philosophies… but stuff keeps getting in the way. Well-intentioned friends maybe who give consistently bad advice that these folks follow. Have this bad advice come together in a whirlwind of misunderstanding. Will our couple who are just *PERFECT* for each other *EVER* get together? Of course they will. Have them get together at the end of the movie.

                Hell, have the bad-advice giving friends start dating too.

                Put some hoots in there for the guys and you’ve got yourself the perfect screenplay spiritual successor to “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days”. Have Alanis Morrisette’s “You’ve Finally Won Me Over” play over the closing credits.

                Never mention to anyone that it’s a reflection of your deep misanthropy.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Jay, I’m honestly proud that any question of mine in any way may have contributed to the creation of this thought stream from you.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Dude, I can see the movie trailer now.

                And I hate it.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                It’s starring Ryan Reynolds, isn’t it?Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Funny I was thinking Nicholas Cage.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                In 1980, it’d be Judge Reinhold or Nick Cage.
                In 1990, it’d be Billy Crystal or Tom Hanks.
                In 2000, it’d probably be Adam Sandler.
                In 2010? Probably Seth Rogen or McLovin.

                My ideal guy for the role would be Andy Richter, though.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                In the 90s I would see Eddie Murphy playing the lead male, the lead female and the entire families of each.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I hate that trailer much, much less.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Hmm shouldn’t Will Smith get a mention by virtue of his stint in “Hitch” ?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I only barely buy him as an action lead… never as a romantic lead. He’s okay as a comic lead… but “DAYUM!” only gets you so far.Report

              • Avatar Fish says:

                The Alanis Morrisette song is “You’ve Already Won Me Over.” But that’s beside the point. Your mention of that song got me thinking that it should be book-ended by AM’s “You Oughta Know” somewhere toward the beginning of the movie, and THAT got me thinking of how the big line in that song would look like on the League: “…and are you thinking of me when you fish her.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Yeah. That song.

                That song is the most cynical, manipulative, calculating song I’ve ever encountered in my many years listening to crappy love songs.

                Hats off, gentlemen.
                Hats off.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                For me the sad thing about The Rules isn’t that it’s used for women looking for Power Husbands – though I confess I do find that a bit icky. (Though no more icky than guys looking for trophy dates/wives.)

                What I find sad is that for the women I have known that have talked it up, the surface/public image of the man they are with (or more precisely, hope to be with) seems to be very directly tied to their sense of self-identity and self-worth.

                I find that very, very sad.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It may be equally sad/pathetic to have one’s goals be little more than “I would like to motorboat some hoots” but there’s something that seems much more straightforward about it.

                Maybe this is my gender bias manifesting again.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                or your desire to motor board some hootsReport

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I was deliberately using “one”.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I’m not sure I want to know what motorboating some hoots is. I’m uncertain enough to not google it.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                Not knowing is a good thing.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Here’s something that you can google:

                Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

                Listen to the song (headphones, please) and enjoy it. When he does the “hable hable BRLAGAH!” part? Imagine any one or two fleshy mounds of your choosing and then imagine doing that with your face buried within.

                You’re welcome.

                Seriously, you should listen to that song.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

                “Here’s something that you can google:

                Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

                Listen to the song (headphones, please) and enjoy it. When he does the “hable hable BRLAGAH!” part? Imagine any one or two fleshy mounds of your choosing and then imagine doing that with your face buried within.

                You’re welcome.

                Seriously, you should listen to that song.”

                You can retire now. This is the best thing you have ever written. It will not be topped.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        Side note:

        That (http://www.therulesbook.com/) is the ugliest web site I’ve seen in a half-decade, at least.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      After reading the first four paragraphs of that article, I had to stop.

      It hurt too much.Report

  12. Sadly, “puts up with me” is a very difficulty personality trait to suss out at the beginning of a relationship. Thankfully, I seem to have ended up with a guy who has that trait in surprising quantity, and also caught the light just right at exactly the right time.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Meet the parents. If one of them is similar to you, you’ve got yourself an in.

      You also have pretty much confirmed that you’re going to be the tool whereby your partner will process his or her childhood… which is another essay in itself.Report

  13. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I figured I should refrain from commenting on this thread until I had RTFA. Now that I have, I am a little bit peeved at the editors of The Atlantic. I have just read nearly 12,000 words of a woman who is not quite my age trying to justify permanently giving up on relationships and to rationalize away her personal mortification at being unable to recover from a mistake made ten years ago — because there really are no good men available, thanks to demographic trends far, far beyond her ability to control. Her less-than-happy personal situation isn’t really her fault, you see, so yes, she should have married that great boyfriend she had ten years ago and she still regrets and owns that decision — but by now, she’s become the victim.

    Bull. Shit.

    If I lost my marriage somehow, either to death or divorce, I know it would be difficult indeed to find someone else I would want to attempt sharing the rest of my life with, and indeed much more difficult than it was when I was in my early thirties. But it would not be imposible. Option one would be for me to continue trying to find a suitable mate, and accept the frustrations of what would almost certainly be numerous false starts down that road. Option two would be to opt out, and own my decision to remain single.

    But I cannot believe that The Atlantic gave her 12,000 words, paid her I can’t even begin to guess how much money, and devoted who knows how many physical pages of their generally-superior magazine to demonstrate a third way a single person approaching middle age can deal with prolonged undesired singlehood: howling at the moon.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Just stellar Burt. Well done!Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        The problem I have with these sorts of articles is that they read like:

        I am now going to tell you about the radical changes happening to MEN and WOMEN in our time!*

        *By which I mean men and women in America; the other countries don’t count.**

        **Okay, white Men and Women; other ethnicities? I’ve no idea what they’re doing.***

        ***Actually, I mean urban-dwelling white men and women in my particular age group and education level.****

        ****Really just women. And really just the handful I know.*****

        ***** Honestly, those people who are outside of my social circle sort of creep me out.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      If I were a woman, I can’t imagine not loathing the way this “For the Ladies!” token article tries to put an Upper West Side spin on the notion that the fight for equality has somehow made women less than they could be.

      If this had been written by a man I suspect it would have been loudly panned as icky misogyny.Report