01 May 2016

An Essay for Single Christian Men

Deep Thoughts, Religious 92 Comments

I am an economist, and so this essay may seem totally out of the blue. However, I have noticed certain patterns in the dating arena over the years, and I think some of my observations may enlighten. I am targeting this essay to single, heterosexual Christian men, especially those who are frustrated with the opposite sex, but I’m guessing there are a few tidbits in here that will help others too.

To give you a summary of where this is going: I am writing especially to young men who feel like “nice guys finish last” and that women are forcing them to either (a) be a-holes or (b) be forever lonely and miserable. Let me first agree with you that this dynamic exists; you aren’t imagining things. However, you are only focusing on one sliver of reality. If you continue down this path–which the Devil wants you to do–you will destroy yourself.

In this essay, I hope to clarify what’s really going on, and give guidance on how to recover from your self-absorbed slump. As a Christian you know your current attitude is wrong, and I want to point you back in the right direction.

Final caveats: To keep this essay readable, I’m going to include some salty language and I’m going to engage in broad generalities. I hope you’ll understand this is all coming from a place of love, and that I’m genuinely trying to reduce the needless suffering when it comes to men and women interacting romantically.

Credentials

Before jumping in to the heavy stuff, I want to convince you that I know exactly what you are going through. This essay isn’t about me, it’s about you, but permit me a brief autobiographical digression to win your trust.

When I was in junior high, they called me “Bob the Brain.” This was not conducive to establishing my reputation as a ladies’ man. In 7th grade I asked out a girl, she said no, and when a group of guys heard about it they were astonished and asked me, “What were you going to do, Bob, take her to the planetarium?”

Things didn’t get much better after that. If you take my initial insecurity and then add in my tremendous creativity, plus raging hormones, the outcome was not good. I made “overanalyzing social situations” into a science. If “What did she mean by that?” had been an Olympic sport, I would now have 18 gold medals in my study.

By the time I was a grad student at NYU, I would be concocting long-range schemes to convince a particular girl to let me pay to take her to a Broadway show. I’m not even saying I was trying to sleep with her. I’m saying, I wanted to go to a Broadway show and felt like a loser going by myself. But I literally did not know how to actually make it happen that someone with bigger breasts than me would accompany me–for free–to an event in this fashion.

Now here’s what was really disheartening. Throughout all of this horrible track record, it wasn’t as if I had been a burn victim, or suffered from really bad body odor. Nope, on paper I was arguably a fairly desirable date. At that time I was getting a PhD from a top-20ish program, and in terms of just being around me, I was not too shabby on the trifecta of “smart, funny, and nice.” And although I had lost some of my mojo by grad school, when I was younger I had been really athletic, for example personally scoring almost half the points of my basketball team in junior high. (Our team sucked though; don’t read too much into that.) So my point is, I wasn’t some skinny nerd playing Dungeons and Dragons; people who didn’t go to school with me thought of me as an athlete.

And yet, it was virtually impossible to find girls who were interested in me romantically. Don’t get me wrong, I was friends with tons of girls–indeed, the best-looking ones in whatever organization we’re talking about. But that’s where it stopped. Over the years I would have dozens of girls tell me how great I was and how some girl out there would be oh so lucky to have me as a boyfriend–just not them. No, they always went for the a-hole who made them cry every other weekend. But man Bob, you’re so funny and sweet! Thanks for cheering me up after he said my thighs were fat. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s this guy I met at the coffee shop last week who’s playing mind games with me, that I want to get dressed up for.

OK, I’ll stop at this point. I hope you now trust me, and we can proceed. To keep this essay manageable, I’ll break it up into observations on various topics.

Pickup Artists

The growing community of “pickup artists” offers training to men who want to learn how to seduce women very quickly. The alarming thing about this is that it works. I have seen some women argue on the internet that it is a total myth that women fall for a-holes, that this is all in the heads of the whiny lonely guys, and that all you need to do is treat women the way you want to be treated and everything will work out.

Well, you don’t know what you’re talking about–you sound like a white middle-class guy telling young black men, “Well gee whiz, if you just obey the traffic laws you don’t need to worry about getting pulled over.” The reason lonely young men end up delving into the ranks of the pickup artists–either from “professionals” or just in their own peer groups by hanging out with guys who are “good with girls”–is that they have eyes. They can see quite clearly that sending flowers to a crush does absolutely nothing while other guys are known as notorious cheaters and have girls randomly showing up at their apartments.

But since I’m directing this essay at you, a Christian, I can tell you frankly that these techniques and advice are literally FROM THE DEVIL. Yes, it is true that if you can actually train yourself to look at women (except your mom and sisters, of course) as less than human, so that you are no longer afraid of their opinion of you, then your long career of striking out will be over. You will go from being terrified of beautiful women to knowing how to spot the ones that are incredibly insecure, who spend hours getting ready because they think they need to in order to deserve attention from men. You will laugh at your old self, who somehow was intimidated by a half-naked 115 pound creature in heels. What was your problem?!

But to repeat, this is all FROM THE DEVIL. If you go down that path, you will have lost your sympathy for half of humanity. You will be halfway to becoming the devil’s full servant.

Look, if you talk to a bunch of armed robbers, they can show you techniques that “work,” too. If your goal is to get as much cash as possible in the next 3 days, then holding up liquor stores may very well be your best bet. But that is hardly a wise path to follow.

By the same token, if your goal is to have as many sexual partners as possible in the next 3 days, then treating women as objects is the best bet. But that’s a foolish path that will not only hurt them but will destroy you in the process.

You actually don’t want to be a “pickup artist.” You want to end your loneliness by going on dates with women whom you would consider marrying. Instead of looking with awe upon guys that can get a phone number from a hot waitress, look at all the guys you know who are in long-term relationships with super nice girlfriends. I’m guessing these guys weren’t pickup artists who suddenly found their girlfriend on Weekend #16 of one-night stands.

Part of what’s going on here is that you’re looking at only one portion of reality. You are noticing that guys who are complete a-holes have no trouble at all with women. But you are mistaken if you then generalize that to, “Women just like guys who treat them like crap.” No, it would be more accurate to say, “Women are attracted to guys who are confident leaders,” and unfortunately, guys who are complete a-holes are also confident leaders.

Pornography

I would like to be able to say I don’t know anything about this topic, but alas…

Also from the devil. This is especially obvious when you consider violent pornography, where (say) a guy chokes a woman. Why would that have even occurred to somebody to put in the script? And yet, there it is, so now millions of guys are conditioning themselves to experience sexual pleasure while watching (simulations) of violence against women. Of course you know that is literally from the devil.

[NOTE: I really hope nobody lectures me in the comments about libertarian theory. I’m not saying the State should intervene in voluntary arrangements, and yes I realize that women in this line of work should not be cast out of society etc. But I also don’t think they should ban hot-dog eating contests. Doesn’t mean they’re good for you or that I want my kid doing it.]

Furthermore, beyond the fact that you know watching pornography is sinful, you have to realize how fake it is. Occasionally they lose their footing on the couch or whatever and you can actually catch that they are literally all actors, who have a camera crew right there.

Imagine that you were really thirsty and watched hours of videos on the internet about people chugging gasoline. Would that make any sense? Would that in any way be helping you? Of course not. So by the same token, if you are really lonely and wonder if you’ll ever convince a woman to sleep with you, the last thing in the world you should be doing is watching pornography.

On the contrary, if you want to watch something that might actually help, look at something with a screenplay written by a woman. The point isn’t that you will get a how-to formula. No, the point is that you’ll see there are all kinds of different women, and they have a million-and-one anxieties just like you. Everybody is screwed up. Women, even really attractive ones, are not as powerful as you think.

The Worst That Could Possibly Happen

Speaking of power, it’s helpful to highlight an enormous disparity. Unfortunately, modern feminism has obscured this stark reality. But here goes.

Let’s say you see an attractive woman browsing outside a store window and you are trying to work up the courage to go talk to her. Really, what is holding you back? What are you afraid of? What is the worst that could possibly happen?

OK I’ll answer that. The worst thing she can do is something like this: “Wait–what? Holy sh*t, are you kidding me? At first I thought you were genuinely asking me if I knew what time they opened in the morning. But you’re actually hitting on me?! Hang on, let me take your picture, I want to text my friends so they can see what a d-bag thought he might pick me up. This is rich.”

Right, something like that? That would be awful, but in the grand scheme, it’s really not that big a deal, is it?

In contrast, what’s the worst thing that could happen from her point of view? Well, the worst thing is that you might grab her, pull her into the alley, and murder her with your bare hands.

Now of course, you know you would never in a million years rely on your physical advantage when interacting with women. But they don’t know that when they first meet you. So right off the bat, with this simple point, we see that you need to stop interpreting women’s behavior from the perspective of, “Well shucks, if I did that it would mean…”

Britney and Pamela

While we’re thinking of things from the female perspective, try this train of thought: Suppose you are a young woman who is incredibly attractive but you’re also really insecure. When you go out to the bar or dancing, you get all dolled up because you think you have to. But this just makes you even that much more intimidating and unapproachable.

Oh wait, that’s not quite right. You are approached, just not by any “normal guy.” You are only approached by pickup artists or the rare guy who is a decent human being while also being incredibly confident with women. And so you would go for years with nothing but hookups with guys who were complete a-holes, and this would just make you more insecure and make you diet even more, becoming even more unapproachable by normal people.

Now imagine someone like Britney Spears in her prime. How few men would have thought, “I’m going to sleep with her tonight?” Can you imagine the kind of absolute narcissistic nutjobs who would hit on her, either because they thought they “deserved” her or because they wanted a story to tell their friends? No wonder that poor girl was so messed up.

Or consider Pamela Anderson. In her prime she was arguably one of the most desirable women on the planet. (I’m not of course saying your pastor would have endorsed her as a prom date, I’m talking in terms of the secular culture.) She literally could have chosen from among billions of men who would have adored her. And yet, she ended up marrying a guy who went to jail for 6 months for beating her up. Do you think that outcome was good for Ms. Anderson’s self-esteem?

Now of course, you can say, “Well golly jee Bob, these really attractive women should just stop dating a-holes. They have the power to choose suitors.” And yes that’s true ultimately, but it’s also true that a vicious cycle can develop in which they scare off anybody except the deluded narcissists. If some lingerie model who has “resting b*tch face” (that’s a slang term, people, I don’t use that word myself) waits for 30 guys to ask her out, and then chooses the one guy from that group who treated her with the most courtesy and seems to be the sweetest guy…well, he might still be a narcissistic nutjob. Because 99.9% of normal guys are not even going to bother asking out a lingerie model with resting b*tch face. They’d be afraid to ask her what time it is.

But wait, it gets worse. It’s not just a selection bias. Over the years, our hypothetical lingerie model is going to end up having sexual experiences only with narcissistic nutjobs. So purely for Pavlovian reasons, she will eventually only get aroused when such a man approaches her. She will have trained herself over the years to know “what it feels like” when she starts interacting with a guy like that, knowing that a make-out session or more is imminent. In contrast, she will literally not even know what it’s like to have a conversation with a decent man that eventually leads to something physical. It would be as uncomfortable when a guy like that leans in to kiss her as it would be if her perfectly “nice guy” accountant tried the same thing when she was picking up her tax return.

A Man on a Mission

C.S. Lewis tells us: “Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”

Suppose you were watching a Cold War movie about an undercover CIA agent working at a munitions factory in the Soviet Union, and then he all of a sudden stops sending in his intelligence reports. And you know why? Because instead of following his orders, he started chasing skirts and some little vixen broke his heart. So now instead of monitoring weapons output he’s moping in bed listening to Sinatra.

Would you have sympathy for this character? No, you’d yell, “What the heck?! You’re on a mission! You ain’t got no time for extracurricular activities!”

Now it just so happens that God’s orders for you may very well involve getting married to a wonderful woman with whom you raise lovely children. But, maybe they won’t. After his conversion, St. Paul didn’t go to a singles bar, did he?

Suck it up. The world is broken and full of sick, hurting people who are utterly lost. Your job is to comfort them and reassure them with the Good News. Some will mock and revile you, and that may include women who think very little of your machismo. So what? Whose opinion do you relish? Theirs, or the Creator of the heavens and earth?

Jesus Was Not a “Nice Guy”

Some people think of Christians as Ned Flanders, doormats who let the world take advantage of them.

Well, Jesus was no Ned Flanders. Remember this episode:

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

Do you understand what a bad*ss Jesus was? He had the option of calling down heavenly slaughter upon His enemies, but refrained from doing so, electing instead to let these ignorant fools mock Him and torture Him to death. And why? Because that’s how much He loved them. That type of moral strength should make your jaw drop.

Now, was Jesus a sucker? Did people take advantage of Him? Did He not know how the world really worked? Did He not know what you had to do to “get ahead in life”?

Final Thoughts

In closing, friends, be like Jesus. He was not a “nice guy.” He was a kind man. If you start acting such that women describe you as a “kind man,” you are going to get out of your rut. I’m not saying you will have a girlfriend, I’m saying you will realize there are more important things to focus on. These other things over which you are currently agonizing will fade away, and what now seems impossible to you may very well fix itself.

But even if it doesn’t, you won’t really have time to dwell on it, because you’ll be too busy serving others.

92 Responses to “An Essay for Single Christian Men”

  1. E. Harding says:

    “And although I had lost some of my mojo by grad school, when I was younger I had been really athletic”

    -This isn’t just legends, Bob? I had literally thought this impossible. I still doubt it. But, then again, I’m not a Christian.

    “But to repeat, this is all FROM THE DEVIL.”

    “Now it just so happens that God’s orders for you may very well involve getting married to a wonderful woman with whom you raise lovely children. But, maybe they won’t.”

    “Because that’s how much He loved them.”

    -Do you just realize how weird this sounds to non-believers?

    Christianity sounds messed-up.

    • Matthew Swaringen says:

      He probably does, and he probably doesn’t care because how something “sounds.” He wouldn’t be mainstream economist instead of an Austrian if how things sounded was the basis of what he said. Given that libertarians probably tend to be more atheistic than the overall population I find him to be an interesting counterbalance. I think it is good for the libertarian philosophy to have this kind of variety, which is also why I like that Tom Woods and Andrew Napolitano are conservative Catholics.

    • Giovanni says:

      I want to know what sounds strange here. Please. I think any non-believer can interpret “FROM THE DEVIL” as “bad thing”, and I don’t think you should find strange that someone SHOULDN’T get married, because what?

      (I don’t know if I fit as a “believer”, because this term sounds strange to me — believe in what? — but that doesn’t matter.)

    • Gene Callahan says:

      “Do you just realize how weird this sounds to non-believers?”

      Um, do you realize THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE GOSPEL SAYS WILL HAPPEN. that non-believers will hate and shun you if you proclaim the gospel?

  2. Adrian Gabriel says:

    I’m actually a married guy and really enjoyed the analogies and stories in this post. Most specifically the analogy about drinking gasoline, that was really good. Thanks Dr Murphy!

    • Matthew Swaringen says:

      Your article on this really resonates with me even though I have been a somewhat wayward Christian in some ways (mainly not towing the line of conservative evangelical thinking on sexual morality or being secure on the matter of hell and all of that).

      As a Christian I have a very conservative Pentecostal background, as a libertarian “ancap” I am a reformed neocon (very difficult not to be with the whole Israel thing and strong tendency towards an Israel focus eschatology, that I no longer believe). So in a lot of ways I had a foundation of similar views to you on sexuality, but I was pretty disgruntled about being alone. After failures early on I kind of abandoned thinking about women but I was not happy about it. I strayed more from Christianity until I got past 30 and felt like I was not going to be happy with life if I didn’t find someone then. I actually came back around mostly because I had success eventually, but it does make me disappointed with myself a bit that I strayed for as long as I did.

      I even considered the whole pickup artist thing, but I completely agree with you about the nature of it. I believed it probably did work, but the idea of “winning” in that way seemed extremely shallow and very dark, even though at that time I was very agnostic on religion. I just felt objectifying half of humanity, as you say, was very much wrong.

      I can’t say it came out of strength, but I am very happily married now for the last 1 1/2 years (I’m 35 now). Though I had to wait a long time, I feel very confident that my wife is absolutely the best person I could ever have married. I am very happy that I did not go down the route of getting to shallow purely sexual relationships. I think that would have made me internally miserable in a way that would have been worse than being alone. Instead, I feel like I’ve been recovering from a long period of loneliness and despair, but it taught me a lot about myself and I think I was way too hard headed to have learned it any other way unfortunately.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Thanks for the comments Matthew. I’m glad things worked out for you.

  3. Daniel Kuehn says:

    What I’m getting out of this is that amateur porn where they don’t choke anyone is OK.

  4. Andrew_FL says:

    Unrelatedly-Bitcoin’s creator has revealed his identity.

    • E. Harding says:

      That’s a hoax, Andrew. Don’t fall for these.

  5. RPLong says:

    “What were you going to do, Bob, take her to the planetarium?”

    True story: When I was a teenager, my mother used to try to encourage me to ask girls out and take them to museums.

    My advice to single men is to figure out who you are as a person. What are your strengths? What makes you you? That’s when you’ll start to have better romantic success, because you’ll stop looking for “women,” and instead start noticing the kind of women who tend to like the kind of man you want to be. And you won’t have to do much convincing at that point, because you’ll both be on more or less the same page.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Good points RPLong.

    • Craw says:

      Clever! Lots of dark corners in museums.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      BTW RPLong you have just summarized why I go to the karaoke bar.

      • Keshav Srinivasan says:

        Bob, aren’t you married?

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Divorced.

          • Keshav Srinivasan says:

            Bob, I don’t want pry into your personal life, but I’m just curious as a general matter, is divorce forbidden in Christianity? I think you may have said something to that effect in your Kim Davis post a while back.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              It’s a messy subject Keshav.

            • wanderer9641 says:

              Divorce is only permitted in the case of adultery. Not mandatory if you want to work it out but is the only valid reason.

              • Joe Landrigan says:

                I’ve heard that’s a mistranslation. The word that some have translated to mean “adultery” more properly means “unlawful.” In other words, “no marriage was possible in the first place.” An example of this would be if someone didn’t understand what they were committing to when they were “signing the marriage contract.”

          • deti says:

            If you’re divorced, then with all due respect, you’re probably not the best person to advise them on how to do this dating/relationships thing.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Fair enough.

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Although it’s interesting that my status came out in response to someone who had said, “Yeah, easy for you to say, you’re happily married. You don’t know what these lonely guys are going through.”

              So, whether I’m married or divorced, I’m supposed to keep my mouth shut.

              • Keshav Srinivasan says:

                Bob, I apologize if that’s what you thought I meant. I was just confused by your statement that you go to Karaoke bars to meet women, since I thought you were a married man.

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Sorry Keshav I got the timing mixed up. I meant this guy.

            • guest says:

              Bob was just talking about how to *get* women, and what he thought was the moral vs. immoral way to do so.

              And since he’s hanging around Tatiana Moroz, I’d say he’s got game (whether he intends to play, or not).

              And Milton Friedman’s son writes on his blog, so he’s also pretty cool, in general.

              • Aaron Kulkis says:

                Being a gamma-orbiter not only does not take any good game, but indicates an abundance of bad game (as in, scores more “own goals” than against opponents in soccer or hockey).

  6. skylien says:

    Really nice post, Bob. Funny answer by DK!

    Does anyone know the MGTOW movement? Found them by accident on Youtube. Men that have given up on being with women or as they call it “Men going their own way”… Strange bunch..

    • Gil says:

      Presumably back in the day they were once known as “monks.”

      • skylien says:

        Funny thing is they rather think of them selves as being the male “elite”..

    • wanderer9641 says:

      Why strange? If some men are finding the mix of women/gynocentric culture/legal and financial castration a bit too much to deal with, then it is their choice – How many men in the Bible never married? How many “Christian” women/men would burn under the inspection of the light of the truth. Men who for walk away from women/materialism and work for God are highly desirable in God’s eyes.

      • skylien says:

        Obviously it is their choice, if they want to, I have no problem with that. Nevertheless I might still find that strange.

        However that wasn’t only what I meant with strange. I just listened to some (guess 15-20) videos of this guy called “Sandman” on Youtube, so I only refer to him when I say the following things. So if he largely represents the thinking of those people properly then:

        – They really think of themselves as the elite, those who would survive wars the longest (he really said that), they are the real Alpha males, which women crave for, which is a ridiculous statement to make. Even if this Mr Sandman himself was, how would he know that not also a bunch of “losers” call themselves MGTOWS. If you struggle with women, how easy is it to avoid them completely, treat them like shit and feel great that way?

        – They treat women and “menginas” a lot like Marxists treated bourgeois critics. Whatever they say follows from either being a woman having no logical thinking at all and basically every word is just an attempt to get men to provide for them, to abuse and manipulate them, and hide their low self-esteem and weakness, or being just a “mangina” who didn’t swallow the “red pill” yet, more or less being still manipulated by women.

        – Whenever he answered a critic, especially women, he always interpreted anything they said in the worst possible way, never gave them any benefit of the doubt at all, and nearly no one in the comments seemed to bother.

        – If you read comments below his videos you find many are completely hateful and insulting to all women just in general, as if every woman did or does them harm. You wouldn’t believe what you can read there. Stuff like: “Women have become toxic, they cannot be trusted. They have become a burden and have nothing to offer a good man other than a raggidy slutty vag. And all feminists should be drafted for war in the middle east.“ Right it is Youtube comments but there are too many to ignore that.

        Don’t get me wrong, they do make legitimate points as well, however they go much too far with their conclusions. Only generalizations, insults along the way, interpreting everything in the negative, men are only the poor victims etc… And last but not least it seems to me that they think being rude equals Alpha Male.

  7. Scott says:

    Just can’t resist a rather extended comment on this — except…where to begin? this whole thing has it all wrong. (Well, except the ‘don’t do bad stuff’ parts.)

    Probably the best lead in — if you are finding yourself in this position, you are at the very least probably suffering confusion due to taking a particular formalism at face value. Sort of a de jure/de facto situation. You have dating more or less completely backwards.

    De Jure (what you think happens) — you ask a girl out, she considers it, and answers yes or no (or in Bob’s case, apparently always no.)

    De Facto (what really happens) — girl already knows who she wants to ask her out, if you are not on the list, you ask and she says no. If you are on the list, she says yes. There was never any ‘considering’ and you are not actually asking her out. *Her* plan to get who she wanted either worked or it didn’t.

    Best, most succint way I have ever seen it put was in an old sitcom from the early 60’s (still black-and-white). An older French (of course) woman is explaining to a younger American girl (paraphrase) “you see, first you get him to chase you — and that’s when you catch him!” In my experience, that’s really how it is — you are not the predators, you just think you are. The formalism is merely there to satisfy your manly imperatives. Or whatever.

    Actually, you are the prey. You are not trying to ‘catch a girl’ you are trying to let a girl catch you. If you don’t cooperate, who’s to blame here?

    Successful dating is not (usually) about getting a girl to say yes. It is about only asking out girls who already want to date you. Nickel’s worth of free advice — do not ask if you don’t already know what the answer is going to be. You’re wasting your time.

    This may seem hard to believe, but I can tell you it is a fact — girls *love* boys, much more than the other way around. Anyone with teenage daughters will confirm this, I’m sure. And they have their own ideas in mind about things, and no, you don’t have a say about it. Subjective valuation, anyone? That’s how it works. You don’t get to tell people how to value you, that’s just how it is. You work with the world as it is, and girls are much more involved in all things social (on average) than boys. They have much more invested in it, and you are simply not going to get anything you want if you don’t cooperate. When you and your buddies run into a group of girls, within seconds they’ve carved you all up as to who gets who. Don’t ask the right one, you’re getting no for an answer. The trick is only to figure out which one(if any) is ‘yours.’

    And so I completely don’t believe Bob when he says he couldn’t get a date. Unless he lived on a completely different planet from this one, if he’s half as smart and accomplished as he says he was, he had admirers. Maybe not a ton, but I would be shocked if there were not at least a few. But he didn’t go after them. He went after non-admirers and got shot down.

    And this is the pretty awful thing — he was doing to them just what he didn’t like done to him. The girls he wanted to date ignored him, and he ignored the ones who wanted to date him. Many guys (and girls, too) who ‘don’t get it’ wind up in this situation, and there is a sort of awful, just symmetry to it. These wonderful, nice girls have paid you the tremendous compliment of being interested in you, and shown the good judgment to notice how great you are, but you do not return the favor. Often, you fail to even notice them at all. But the fact of the matter was almost certainly not that he couldn’t get a girl, it was that he didn’t want the ones that were available to him. (And hey, maybe most of them were knuckleheads he shouldn’t have dated anyway. But that’s a different thing than couldn’t get a girl at all.)

    I hate to say it, but most of this stuff is about ego. Also hate to say it, but I’m guilty too. Youth is wasted on the young, and wisdom on the old.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents as to how it is. Best bet — try to flip the situation around. The ‘traditional’ strategy described in this post gives the girl the veto power, with which you are repeatedly beaten over the head because you don’t play by the rules. These are the rules — the girls let you know which ones are interested, if you pay attention and use your brain.

    They are ‘asking.’ In a face-saving manner, of course. Now you have the veto power. Pick one. When you ‘ask’, you are saying ‘yes.’ Now once *you* have decided, the result is a foregone conclusion.

    Happy dating!

    • Bill says:

      Invert, always invert. Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi

      • skylien says:

        This kind of double coincidence of wants is something money cannot resolve.

        Also on a personal level you cannot compromise what you want. What you want (love) is what you want, Period.

        However your wants regarding the looks, status in society and other similar facile things of course can be compromised without jeopardizing the chance of a succesful relationship, which are mostly the problem why people don’t find each other, I guess..

        • skylien says:

          Sorry, that was directed to Scott.

        • Scott says:

          I’ll just say that if you have no significant power over the way you value things, and no choice in such matters, you must live in an extremely bleak moral landscape. I simply do not agree with this picture.

          It may take strength, and not everyone may have enough to do just anything, but it is possible to change who and what you want. Some great thinkers have said it is even possible to want nothing, such that happiness is found under any circumstance.

          Happiness is largely a choice. So is unhappiness.

          • skylien says:

            You only can do so much on a personal level. You cannot change who you are. Of course you can be open minded, and obviously you should.

            However there are clear limits. For example if you think strawberry ice cream tastes like shit, but you love stracciatella, what can you do about that? On the same page you just cannot change what kind of personalities you like, and which you don’t. You cannot love everyone. At least I can’t.

          • skylien says:

            Adding to this: Love is about an X factor that cannot really be explained. How many people are there that for you have an X factor, and at the same time you need to have that for them as well.

            If you are ignoring this, you can do this of course, then you are just looking for someone as to be not alone. That is not what I would want. And I think it is a very bad basis for a relationship.

            • Scott says:

              Again, I think there is a basic divergence of belief & personality here.

              You seem to subscribe to, basically, the ‘matching’ theory (for lack of a better word) for what to look for in a mate. Basically, what almost everybody thinks — the right choice is the best match to you. I pretty much abandoned that in favor of the right choice is the one who will make the best wife. Maybe both are right, maybe neither, maybe it depends, who knows?

              You also seem to subscribe to basic consequentialism — the right choice is the one the leads to the best outcome. I think it is very hard to know outcomes, especially in things as complex as this, so I opt for the guidance of tradition and such. Again, who knows?

              The larger point is accepting the truth for what it clearly is — it is not that you can get no one, it is that you choose no one over what is available to you. (in most cases, not all). Whether it is the right choice is dependent on the particulars. Probably it is right sometimes and in some cases, sometimes not, and it is not always clear which is which. But lying to oneself about it, primarily because one has absorbed bad ideas of ‘how it works’ and become very jaded about things by talking oneself into a very dark perspective is really not the way to go.

    • guest says:

      “There was never any ‘considering’ and you are not actually asking her out. *Her* plan to get who she wanted either worked or it didn’t.”

      What, then, do you make of Sandra Dee’s account of Bobby Darin’s pursuit of her?

      Sandra Dee’s Last Interview Pt 2/3 discusses Bobby Darin,her alcoholism,etc plus guest James Darren
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wotn99LbFbw

      • Scott says:

        OK, so ‘wear ’em down’ can be a strategy, too. I’m not saying the list was etched in stone before time began. It can change. But that’s hardly a reliable approach for most people, especially the kind Bob’s talking about.

        And I’m not trying to tell anybody what to do, and also no, I’m not a woman, but I would definitely not respond to that kind of treatment.

    • DZ says:

      In short, just lower your standards…

      • Scott says:

        Yes, that’s at least the top of the iceberg poking out.

        The more important point is that you’re not going to get too far misconstruing reality. If you are having this problem (woe is me! I can’t get anybody!), the most likely explanation is that your head isn’t screwed on straight, and you really need to think long and hard just exactly what your (likely silly) belief implies.

        I mean, its at least *possible* that you are absolute and total social roadkill and it really is true. But the odds are at least, what, 999/1000 against?

        I’m going with somebody like that just needing some straightening out.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Scott,

      I loved your comment, except the part where you said my analysis was totally wrong. When I was younger I wrote a very long thing about all this stuff, and I said something almost verbatim like this (except funnier):

      And so I completely don’t believe Bob when he says he couldn’t get a date. Unless he lived on a completely different planet from this one, if he’s half as smart and accomplished as he says he was, he had admirers. Maybe not a ton, but I would be shocked if there were not at least a few. But he didn’t go after them. He went after non-admirers and got shot down.

      And this is the pretty awful thing — he was doing to them just what he didn’t like done to him. The girls he wanted to date ignored him, and he ignored the ones who wanted to date him. Many guys (and girls, too) who ‘don’t get it’ wind up in this situation, and there is a sort of awful, just symmetry to it. These wonderful, nice girls have paid you the tremendous compliment of being interested in you, and shown the good judgment to notice how great you are, but you do not return the favor. Often, you fail to even notice them at all.

      But I didn’t want this post to be all about me.

      So here, I’ll summarize it somewhat differently: Just like I was astonished that all of these fabulous young women were throwing themselves at guys messed-up in the head who would not appreciate them…by the very same token, I would spend most of my time trying to win admiration from girls who were messed-up in the head and would not appreciate me. Boom.

      • Scott says:

        OK, this is great Bob, you realized that attractive girls can sometimes be rather foolish and in some ways you had something not-so-great in common with them. I did not actually think of looking at it this way, & it is good to be able to see such an error. It says a lot to be able to admit to something wrong with yourself.

        But I’m thinking bigger here. What about the not-so-fabulous girls? Especially the not-so-fabulous girls who *almost certainly* pined after you, but you apparently didn’t notice? Did you realize you had something much more important in common with them? They are the closer parallel.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Scott, yes, these are all good observations too. The only reason you and I got off on the wrong footing is you thought you were contradicting my post.

    • Dan says:

      There is some truth to this, but it completely leaves out all room for game. In my youth, I was completely dependent on finding girls that were already into me. As I got older, I learned how to spit game, and I was able to take control of my love life. Now, I do agree that girls will usually determine rather quickly whether they are into you or not, but that is largely based off of how you approach them and what you say. If it was as simple as what you purpose then my rate of success wouldn’t have much barring on those things, but they were crucial.

      Also, it has nothing to do with being a jerk. Confidence and being interesting in conversation are the keys. Nearly every girl I’ve ever dated would say I was a nice guy and treated them kindly, but they’d also say that I’m extremely confident in myself, bordering on arrogant.

      • Scott says:

        That’s all well and good Dan, but Bob was more addressing the sort of person who despairs that he will never have much success, more or less at all.

        You were already at least reasonably successful. You don’t really need to hear anything like this. But some people aren’t even this far along.

        From your point of view, you could say I’m proposing an extremely basic level of game — if a guy can’t get the girl he wants, at least he ought to stop ignoring the girls who like him. But at the very, very least, he should get his head out of his posterior and quit claiming he “can’t” get anyone at all, because in all likelihood he darn well could and in some ways really isn’t being too great a person by pitching things this way.

        • Dan says:

          Yeah, I said there was some truth to what you said, but I thought it was too simplistic and made it seem like guys had little to no control over their own love life, outside of hoping you’re lucky enough to land on some girls list, when that is far from the truth. Girls control their list, but guys control what they say and how they carry themselves, and that is how you get on more lists.

          If I walked around like some sad sack that was extremely jaded, I might still randomly meet a girl that wanted to save me or some crap like that. Even the worst piece of crap, beat on your woman, beta male can find a girl in this world. But what kind of woman will a sad sack even be able to get? What good is it to find a woman if she turns out to be some horrid monster that further destroys your self-esteem? This is why your advice is too simplistic. Lonely men who have low self-esteem usually end up with the first girl that shows them any attention. They settle for some girl that has them on their list. But an extremely large percentage of girls that like guys like that are controlling monsters.

          I don’t think your comment alone would lead these type of guys to happiness. I think Dr Murphy’s post is much more on target for that goal. Although, I do think your comment holds some valuable insights with caveats that I’ve already mentioned.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Scott let me add a little something. To repeat, I LOVED your comment, except for the fact that you think you’re blowing me up.

      I’m totally fine with your analysis, except the part where you seem to think that a guy has no control whatsoever over how girls will evaluate him. You are wrong. E.g. when I was in grad school, I once went to a Sinatra bar (i.e. they had live music from band doing Sinatra songs) and there was an older woman there, sitting next to guy her age. I was on her other side, and started talking to her. I incorrectly thought they were together, perhaps married, so I was just being courteous and making conversation.

      Later the guy left, and I realized they weren’t together. But things ended and I left, and realized after the fact that she had been squeezing my arm etc. and saying I must work out.

      So this poor lady was openly hitting on me by the end of it, and I was so oblivious I didn’t even realize. I felt bad too, because (I could tell from her looks) she must have been drop dead gorgeous when she was younger, so I’m sure she left thinking, “Ten years ago that guy would have been fawning over me, but now I’ve lost it…”

      But my point here is that the reason this worked is I wasn’t trying to pick her up. I was there to see the show and was just making pleasant conversation with this woman who was sitting next to me. If it had even entered my mind that we might leave together, I would’ve altered my behavior and I guarantee it would not have worked out. I would’ve screwed it up.

      So, your behavior can affect things too; it’s not as one-sided as you are suggesting.

      • Scott says:

        First, I think this incident is not such a big deal. It was a miscommunication. Happens all the time, people should not get upset. And like I said to guest — yes, ‘the list’ is mutable, it can certainly change with new information, and it is entirely possible to lie your way onto it, etc. But clearly, you don’t control it, so none of that sort of thing even comes close to anything you could rely upon, and the situation is closer to being ‘one-sided’ than…well…whatever non-model you were working from before…

        (Actually, first I should probably say that obviously I was having a good bit of fun with the first comment, although there is also serious content, and will also largely have fun with this one. Don’t take it super-seriously…)

        Alright, let’s look at it this way — I do not really think I’m ‘blowing you up.’ Most of what you actually said is pretty true. It’s the ‘framing’ that’s all wrong — and basically you’re taking an interesting and important topic, and missing the core of it. You’ve got a big hole, and there’s a really important ‘devil’ in here I think you are missing. Like so many other topics, because Christians basically believe the framing of their opponents, they can’t really take them apart. There are better ways.

        I wanted to make a silly example involving Bob in high-school, but up above you say, no, I’m wrong, I don’t know the whole story, you’ve actually been cured since all this. OK. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. So I’ll just be hypothetical.

        Let’s say someone else, call him Hypothetical Bob (HBob) who roughly matches the earlier, non-cured description, is moaning and sighing and saying ‘woe is me, I can’t get anyone, yadda yadda yadda.’ Despite all this about how he’s wasting his time chasing girls he can’t have, etc, which is true, he’s still not getting a girl *but this is not the real reason*. Very simply, the whole picture is probably wrong with 99.999% certainty.

        Let us say, hypothetically, at HBob’s high-school, that there is some tiny, flat-chested little Asian girl, with snaggle-teeth, coke-bottle glasses, frizzy hair, and a persistent musty smell about her that just doesn’t seem to go away. And, it so happens, she very much admires HBob, especially “The Brain” part. She takes every opportunity to talk to him, and tries to sit next to him when she can, but of course she is shy and not very forward, and of course HBob’s brains only get him so far. He hasn’t a clue. Which is normal for high-school boys. They simply don’t understand that they are immersed in a far more complex world than they can possibly imagine, because they rarely bother to imagine much outside their own skulls. Well, unless maybe it involves explosions. Or maybe cars.

        Does HBob ask her out? Never. Actually, he finds her to be nice, but slightly to somewhat repulsive.

        If HBob ever did, it would absolutely make her Universe. Her affections would know no bounds. HBob would find himself absolutely smothered in snaggle-toothed, slightly smelly lovin’. Her happiness would be immeasurable. And who knows? At present HBob would not find such an idea appealing, if it ever occurred to him to imagine it, but maybe this kind of thing with musty little Asian girl is actually *LOADS* of fun and in our hypothetical hypothetical he would really have a grand ole time. Of course, maybe it would be a bad idea in the long run. Maybe both.

        Probably both. Of course, it is his prerogative and everything. He doesn’t *have* to ask her out — it might after all be a bad idea, if he ever thought of it.

        But it doesn’t matter, because HBob says, no, the love of a woman is simply not available to me. HBob doesn’t know and he’ll never find out. In fact, he often complains to the musty little Asian girl about how he can’t find anyone. When he thinks to himself that nobody could love him, somehow she winds up in the category of ‘nobody.’

        What’s wrong with this picture? I mean really, *really* wrong? You may say PUA is the Devil, porn is the Devil, but I think I would take HBob getting a few PUA pointers and picking himself up a girl over this.

        But of course what would be even better would be to *stop saying he can’t have anyone!* Because it’s absolutely 110% *not true!* And to continually assert it is really, really awful!

        *All* of this insecurity garbage is just terrible. Think of what you are saying when you think other people think you are worthless. (I do not mean *you* you. Just hypothetically.) Think about it — do *you* think other people are worthless? Do you think *anybody* is worthless? Of course you don’t — you’d have to be a truly awful person to think that of others! But this is exactly the thought you impute to others when you do this stuff. It is not conscious, of course, but there it is nevertheless. And it is no wonder you have a hard time and people avoid you.

        To be insecure is a *terrible* thing!

        But again, it does nothing to berate someone for this. That’s not what I intend to do — only to point it out. The problem is not girls, or any of this garbage, it is not having your head screwed on straight. And here we are saying the solution to that is to just walk with a bit of a list, so you don’t run into things. Don’t do bad stuff to try to get what you want. OK, Mom. And maybe, you know, God just doesn’t want you to have girls. Maybe they’re just not for you. Well…maybe… I guess. But I think I’d try getting my head screwed back on right, first. How in the world did it come to pass that all of a sudden, something that used to be relatively easy (and fun, even, so I’m told) so many people can’t handle anymore? My money would not be on God suddenly changing His disposition.

        Anyway, another 2 cents from me. What’s that, 4 cents now? I had some more which I think would have been pretty fun… but I think that’s the crux of it and I had better call it a night.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Again, Scott, the basic gist of what you’re saying is totally consistent with my post. I didn’t dwell on that fact, so I’m agreeing you are adding something. But, you think you are somehow demonstrating a huge flaw in what I said. No, you’re not. If all you did was give your advice, people would be missing out on a lot of what is going on.

          • Dan says:

            Plus, he is leaving out the huge problem with his example; it’s not very realistic. HBob would almost certainly not attract a pleasant girl with that kind of attitude. Why in the world would a pleasant girl want to be with someone with almost no confidence. Even flat chested, smelly Asian girls like men with confidence. No, in reality, people with low self-esteem attract narcissistic predators. They might even attract a hot one, as I’m sure most of us have seen “ugly” people with a “hot” partner that treated them like garbage.

            Telling a lonely guy with low self-esteem to just lower his standards and find a girl that already is into him is setting him up to end up with an ugly person with an ugly heart. It’s certainly not going to fix any problems in his life.

            • Matt M says:

              Also setting yourself up for a FAR more depressing/humiliating rejection if she says no.

              When I started grad school I deliberately targeted the girl with the lowest “social status” in our class.

              Let me tell you, getting rejected by the attractive and popular girls sucks, but is nowhere near as devastating as getting shot down by someone you consider the bottom of the barrel.

            • Scott says:

              If you are just arguing generally — yes.

              But the point I was more trying to make was that HBob was saying woe is me *when he did have a real option,* however not very good it was. I would agree with you — this would probably not work out, etc. But he was living a lie, and the lie really wasn’t helping him or anyone else.

              Bob is saying “hey fellas! watch out for this stuff, it’ll really bite you if you’re not careful!” Which I think is mostly true (I do think there are some useful PUA-type ideas). What I’m saying is if you’re at this juncture, forget about being bit, you’re already in the belly of the beast. You’ve been devoured by lies and priority #1 to my mind is *GET OUT NOW*. That other stuff won’t be half the problem once you’re out of this hole.

          • Scott says:

            OK I guess I can kind of see that. But it still seems to me a bit like turning in a history report on the causes of the Civil War and somehow not even mentioning Abraham Lincoln or slavery.

            Also, I did not really mean to be ‘giving advice.’ More like recasting the way things are painted so people can see better & decide for themselves.

            I should not have gone down the advice-path…

    • Matt M says:

      Scott,

      I think what you are saying is correct, but I’m curious as to if you have any practical advice.

      You seem to be implying that the problem with guys in these situations is that they are reaching for girls who are “out of their league” (for whatever reason that may be). That somehow such guys are ignoring a whole world of girls who would love to date them for various reasons.

      Call me skeptical on that. What if you notice and consider literally every female you meet? What if you’re deliberately targeting women with a wide range of attractiveness, intelligence, values, etc. and still getting uniformly rejected?

      The logical conclusion of your post seems to be “ask out every girl you see and eventually you’ll get lucky” which isn’t much different from Bob’s advice of “keep being a nice guy and eventually it will work…. or if it doesn’t just assume it was God’s plan”

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Matt M that is exactly NOT what I said. I specifically said DON’T be a nice guy. But instead of thinking that means, “Oh, so be an a-hole?” I mean, “Be a kind man.” You might think that’s the same thing, but it’s not.

        • Ken P says:

          Totally agree with you on that point Bob and IMO -that is the core of what a guy needs to know.

          Like you said, Jesus wasn’t a “nice guy” and I would add that neither was Gandhi. They didn’t mold themselves to others in like a good little boy trying to please his mother.

        • Matt M says:

          I guess I am failing to differentiate between “nice guy” and “kind man”

          The Bible passage you quote is Jesus basically saying “I could destroy you, but I’m not gonna.” I’m struggling to see the practical application to the average nerdy introvert here.

          I read the whole post looking for some sort of practical advice and found nothing but “be like Jesus” (good advice in general in all areas of life, true) and “try to understand the woman’s perspective” (which is not exactly an unprecedented consideration… PUAs also teach you this, albeit with a different goal in mind)

          Maybe I’m just dumb or something, I dunno. You make some insightful points about the female psyche, but in the end all I really took away was the standard “stop worrying about it so much and it will happen” which, in my experience, is horrible advice.

          • Bob Murphy says:

            Matt M I’m not saying you’re dumb. I realize now the problem is that you were expecting this to be an essay for the secular reader, when in fact I directed it towards the Christian. If you are a Christian then you are in a spiritual war and Jesus is your commander. So that’s why I invoked the military analogy to try to snap a young Christian guy out of his funk. Obviously that would do nothing for someone who doesn’t believe in the Bible.

            • Matt M says:

              Bob,

              While I am not a “believer” I’ve long counted myself as a “christian sympathizer” and am reasonably familiar with the new testament.

              I thought one of the benefits of Jesus’ teachings is that they could be applied to benefit the sinners as well as the true believers.

              I understand the concepts of “trusting in God” and such things, but I also feel that this leaves one vulnerable to simply laying about and waiting for things to happen.

              Military commanders are incredibly specific with their orders. They yell them loudly at you and then repeat them 10 times and demand you signal that you heard and understood. Jesus, not so much. You can take a moment in silent prayer and reflection and try very hard to determine what it is he wants you to do, but sometimes it’s difficult to tell (and sometimes what you think is coming from him is actually coming from the devil).

      • Dan says:

        Matt M, I can give you some practical advice that will almost assuredly improve anyone’s love life, guy or girl. If you can’t find what you want and you’ve been looking for it for awhile, then you are the problem. Now, if you are fully content with who you are as a person, and have no desire to change, then you’re SOL. People are not bound by any laws or magic to like you just because you think you’re pretty dope. If you are willing to change then it is rather easy to fix any problems you might be having finding the right girl.

        It’s as simple as this: improve yourself. And then keep improving yourself until you love yourself. And then keep improving yourself until the type of women you want love you. It need not be any more complicated than that.

        So, I would suggest focusing on improving your mind, body, and soul every day. Eat better, work out, become better educated, learn how to cook, learn how to become handy with tools, learn how to fix cars, become a film buff, become a sci fi/fantasy enthusiast, become a history buff, etc. I’m not saying to do everything I mentioned or to do things that just aren’t you, but you do have to find things that you are willing to do that make you feel better about yourself and make you more appealing to the type of girls you like. Confidence is extremely important, so the biggest thing is doing whatever it takes to figure out how to love yourself and to feel like you’ve made yourself into the type of person you want to be.

        I mean, have you ever noticed how a lot of guys that were kings of the world in their youth, and got all the girls they ever wanted, ended up becoming drunken losers who are married to hags? The biggest reason for that is because they were confident in their youth, thinking they were bad asses and that the world would bend to their will, only to have life kick them in their teeth and destroy that cocky swagger. Once the confidence was gone, so we’re the girls of worth. Nerdy girls, hot girls, ugly girls, tall, short, they all are attracted to confident men who have their shit together. And even if you don’t have your shit together, if you have confidence you can still get by in the dating world, just with a smaller pond to fish from.

        Also, when trying to improve yourself, take it one step at a time. If you’re trying to become a better cook so you can make dinners for girls you invite over, start with mastering one dish. Make Chicken Marsala everyday until you are confident in your skills. Then move on to the next dish. If you want to impress a girl with bar tending skills, then learn how to make one drink (Vodka oriented is your best bet for girls) really well. Make it until you are confident in your skills and move on. If you want to impress a girl with your knowledge of history, start by understanding some period of time thoroughly enough that you can bring up interesting tidbits about it for whatever personality type you’re talking to. Learn it until you are confident in your knowledge and then move on.

        Point being, start doing things that improve your knowledge, your health, your looks, your soul, etc. But do it one step at a time and keep at it until you are confident in the improvement. If you find yourself becoming confident in your cooking skills, your knowledge of poetry, your knowledge of Seinfeld trivia, your looks, your health, your ability to fix a car, the way you dress, etc. Then you’ll soon enough find that you’re not just confident in any one particular area of your life you’ve worked on, but you’ll just be confident in yourself, period. Once you get to that point then you can go out and talk to girls you want with the confidence that you’re a bad ass whether they see it or not, and you’ll be off to the races. You won’t get girls because you’re a jerk. You’ll get girls because you believe in yourself, you have shit to talk about, and you have life skills. Women love men like that. It doesn’t matter what type of girl you like, there will be an abundance of that type that likes a confident man with shit going on.

        Lastly, personal appearance is the least important factor. Obviously, an extremely good looking guy or girl has more suitors than an unattractive person, but that is completely irrelevant when you factor in how many billions of people are out there. I mean, an extremely hot actress might have a 100 million men that want her, but after a certain point the number becomes useless. You only need find one person that you like and that likes you. Every single person on this planet can find one person if they are confident in themselves, regardless of your looks. Heck, every single confident person on this planet could probably find a million people they like and that like them if they had enough time. That said, it does make it a hell of a lot easier if you at least have good hygiene habits, dress halfway decent, and make an effort to be more presentable.

        Lastly lastly, improving myself and my confidence has done nothing but make my life better. I’m 35 now, but even when I was 19, 20, 21 it was critical in helping me get what I wanted. For example, I remember pining after some very hot girl in my high school. Never got anywhere with her other than firmly planted in the friend zone. Girl would talk to me about other guys she liked. Crazy shit like that. Now, I could’ve become jaded by this, and thought she was the problem, but I focused on working on myself instead. A few years later, I run into this girl and everything changed. She was immediately attracted to my newfound confidence (I was always confident in certain areas of my life, but now I was confident in who I was and what I had to offer). I ended up sleeping with her the second time we hung out after getting reacquainted. Went from friend zone for over a year to hooking up with her in a matter of a couple days. Confidence.

        (Side note: I looked at women as conquests for a few years after I started having more luck. Not that I treated them badly or was mean to them, but I didn’t have any intentions of having a meaningful relationship with any of them. For a short period of time the “wins” felt good and boosted my confidence, but eventually it started to rot my soul and make me feel depressed. Once I stopped looking at women as conquests and started looking for someone I wanted by my side, everything got right back on track.)

        • Matt M says:

          Dan,

          Most of what you say is true. The good news is that I’ve already intuited most of it after wasting my teens and 20s with the “just be yourself and things will work out” strategy. That’s why I get sensitive about anything that I think even comes close to suggesting that – I don’t want other young men to waste the prime of their lives in the same way I did. I’m in a better place now, if only because I fully understand that any loneliness/failures I experience are a result of my own choices (understanding revealed preferences helps a lot here!)

          I do take some issue with the “be confident” thing though. Confidence *really is* the core of what PUAs teach, and most socially awkward guys do not naturally have it. I know many will disagree with this, but to me, “projecting an aura of confidence” to someone I’m meeting is just as non-genuine as pretending that I’m a lawyer or some other sort of obvious lie. I’m simply NOT a confident person. I’m shy and insecure and at the end of the day, I need to find someone who can tolerate those qualities. What’s the point of attracting someone with false pretenses of confidence that aren’t actually there?

          Sure, reading a lot will make me more confident about discussing history, cooking a lot will make me more confident about cooking, etc. That’s all well and good – but those are mostly side issues. The issue is being confident enough to approach a stranger at a bar and ask them out. And the way to get more confident at that is to do it constantly. And guess what – that’s the exact approach the PUA people are teaching.

          • Dan says:

            Who said anything about faking confidence? I explained how you develop confidence. I wasn’t confident talking to women in my youth, and I didn’t just get it by talking to a lot of women. I got it by doing things that made me feel better about myself until I got to the point of feeling great about myself. There’s no scam to it or lie. Plain and simple, if you can’t develop enough self-confidence that you are able to walk and talk without coming across as a deer stuck in head lights then dating will always be difficult. The pool of women that will settle for a man who is shy and insecure is small. If you just accept that about yourself and believe it can’t be changed, fine, but I was once shy and insecure too. I just did something about it because I didn’t want to be that way.

            See, you are exuding an aura of a person that is jaded and hopeless. Dr Murphy gives great advice and you see it as him just saying “stay the course”. I tell you to improve things about your life and keep doing that until you feel absolute confidence in yourself, and you see it as advice to just fake confidence. You’re looking for some magic bullet and ignoring actual good advice. But like I said from the beginning, if you are happy with yourself and don’t want to change then there is nothing that can be done. There is nothing wrong with being shy and insecure, but it does making dating extremely diifcult.

            • Matt M says:

              “There is nothing wrong with being shy and insecure, but it does making dating extremely diifcult.”

              On this we agree. I’d just like to hear more people admit it.

              So in the end, the shy/insecure person has two options:

              1) Work very hard to overcome this and change something that might very well be a core aspect of your personality

              2) Die alone

              Most people who try and give advice like this tend to try and sell some mythical third option where you can be absolutely true to a shy/insecure self-identification and still achieve great success in social relationships. It’s just not true – and believing it’s true can cause a great deal of anguish.

              • Matt G says:

                I was shy and insecure throughout my teens and much of my 20s. Let me assure you: it is a BAD way to live. It negatively affects much more than just your love life.

                Self-improvement is certainly hard work, but you can do it, and it will be worth the effort.

                You don’t need to become some perfectly suave man who picks women up at bars. You just need to chip away at your insecurity until it’s gone.

                Step one is to STOP IDENTIFYING with your insecurity. This is not who you are. It’s a learned pattern of thinking and behaving that you can discard.

      • Scott says:

        Put it this way —

        You are right, for *some* fraction it’s going to be pretty darn tough. And who knows, maybe you are in it. If true, I’m very sorry.

        But in such a case we are talking about something which is actually a real, legitimate difficulty. A big part of me giving this push-back to people is to get them to see what I should think a whole bevy of smart economist-types ought to see quite easily — that *most of the time* for *most of the people* they are really being quite disingenuous in this faux hopelessness. Perhaps innocently, but nevertheless. They are *choosing* loneliness over other real human beings who also have feelings, etc.

        Now, maybe its the right choice. Probably in a lot of cases it certainly is. But it is wrong to paint it as ‘woe is me, I’m a total and complete reject,’ and it is *most* wrong to those who really are — the people at the very bottom with no choice at all, who are more or less at their mercy.

        Not cool. It’s fine to say, “You know, I’m real sorry, but I’m just not interested” and in your words and deeds acknowledge that you had the choice. It’s not fine to say that some people just don’t even count.

  8. Tel says:

    Please pledge your money to support the big debate between Bob Murphy and Captain Capitalism… the man-o-sphere vs the nice-o-sphere. Who will win?

    All proceeds go to supporting a charitable cheap knocking shop in New York. Don’t laugh, you never know what a little kindness can achieve.

  9. tweell says:

    Sir, unfortunately you are incorrect as far as the worst consequences for approaching a woman are. You describe a public ego evisceration, while the worst that could happen is her claiming attempted rape. Yes, this has happened, arrest and destruction of the man’s life for having the misfortune of approaching a woman in a bad mood. Improbable, yes, but so is your scenario of rape and murder.

    I did my best to find a woman who was deeply religious, in the hopes that a devout Catholic would find divorce unthinkable, or at least distasteful. Alas, that mattered less than popular culture, she decided that she preferred my wallet to my presence after our children were born. The way I forestalled that was to immediately start packing, tell her she would never hear from me again, and would never get a dime from me. She’d lose the house, go on public assistance, and I’d be overseas. When I had my papers packed to go and started tossing bags in the truck, she changed her mind. I moved those documents to my parents’ house, along with a change of clothes, in case she chose poorly again. Those PUA’s you do not like call this ‘dread game’, fear of consequences.

    My wife is gone, taken by cancer instead of divorce. I have made no attempt to find another, nor will I – too much to lose and not enough to gain. My son works enough to get by and has shown no serious interest in women. So far I have not met any unicorns that I can introduce him to.

  10. Mark Tovey says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. You ought to post on this subject again in the future.

    You mentioned that pornography conditions people to find sexual violence arousing. I’m not sure I’m convinced by that. If a straight man had homosexual images interjected into his porn, would he become gay? I think one’s sexuality is a little more sturdy than you are suggesting.

    I could be wrong though. I can’t find any studies about classical conditioning of human or animal sexuality.

    This is especially obvious when you consider violent pornography, where (say) a guy chokes a woman. Why would that have even occurred to somebody to put in the script? And yet, there it is, so now millions of guys are conditioning themselves to experience sexual pleasure while watching (simulations) of violence against women.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Mark, suppose somebody rang a bell every time you were served food. Would bell ringing possibly then lead you to salivate, or do you think your hunger urges are more sturdy than that?

      • Mark Tovey says:

        I’m aware of the famous Pavlov experiment. I’m questioning the extent to which those same principles could be used to mould somebody’s sexuality. If it were that easy to change people’s sexual preferences, those gay conversion schools wouldn’t be such miserable failures.

        • RPLong says:

          To steal an example from The Last Psychiatrist, when was the last time you watched 1970s porn? Go ahead and give it a try, see if it has the same effect on you that today’s porn does.

          I’d guess that you’d find the 70s porn kinda gross. If I’m right, that means that there is something about today’s porn that is better suited to you. Let’s start with simple things like hair and make-up. Then add body types. Today’s porn speaks to you, not because it’s porn but because it’s today.

          In other words, the way images are presented to you these days is more relevant to your appetites than the way similar images were presented to people 40 years ago. This would suggest that we’re conditioned to the images we see, not that human beings have evolved so much in 40 years that we no longer have similar sexual behavior.

          So Bob’s probably correct here.

  11. Matt Miller says:

    It’s weird how the people most likely to say “just stop worrying about it and everything will work out” are usually the happily married ones.

    Sure, things “may very well fix themselves.” But then again, they very well may not.

    Whatever happened to “God helps those who help themselves?” I’ve actually known several PUA-type guys who eventually picked one of the girls they liked best, settled down, and had healthy/functional relationships. On the other hand, I’ve really never known anybody who said “What I’ve been doing for 10+ years has been failing miserably, but if I keep doing it, things will turn out eventually” and have it do so.

    • Matt Miller says:

      Just read in above comments that Bob is divorced, so I guess I retract the “happily married” thing. Must have misremembered his particular situation.

      But in any case, I stand by my assertion that USUALLY the only people who give the “just keep being nice and some day it will work” advice are the ones who it did in fact work for.

      But that’s huge selection bias. For every one of them, in my experience, there are ten “nice guys” crying themselves to sleep because culture has conditioned them to think that a 25 year old virgin is not a man.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Matt wrote:

      On the other hand, I’ve really never known anybody who said “What I’ve been doing for 10+ years has been failing miserably, but if I keep doing it, things will turn out eventually” and have it do so.

      Matt, I am really astonished that you think my post was telling guys who are frustrated “nice guys” should keep trying the exact same behavior. How can you think that?

  12. Ken P says:

    My two cents.

    First, you have to be honest with yourself. If you are doing things like trying to trick her into ending up in a date-like situation, you are being manipulative. Being manipulative in a “trying to convince mom” type way is very close to what people call being a “nice guy” for dating purposes, but it really isn’t nice. It is failing to demonstrate an understanding of boundaries. Not respectiing hers and not displaying yours.

    Similarly, if you are ready to date a woman, buy her flowers, etc. when all you know about her is that she looks good when she is half naked wearing heels, is that really “being nice” ? You should be deciding/screening her to see if she is worth your time to date due to chemistry, shared interests.

    Then there is the creepy factor. It’s to her benefit to label you in that way (subconsciously) if there is any chance that you could fall into that category. The easiest way to get there is probably being too serious, not being playful, trying too hard, scheming, being elaborate about having the perfect first date or a night to remember when you barely know her, or otherwise overly invested in someone you don’t even know yet.

    Some of the best advice I can give is be light-hearted, curious, have fun.

    Ok, here are a couple theories on the a-hole thing. Good little boys say “yes” to their parents and the world. Bad little boys defiantly say “no”. As an adult, boundaries are an important sign of maturity and a good way to display identity. By saying no an a-hole gives the appearance of having boundaries and maturity, displays dominance due to the lack of the need to appease and also signals the ability to protect. Women- especially if they need to work on some maturity issues- can be drawn into this.

    By displaying good boundaries and being self-respectful guys can generate a lot of the attraction that the a-holes do while being a guy that the woman (and her parents) is glad she chose.

  13. David says:

    So what works is from the Devil and none of the girls who slept with a–hole after a–hole is held to account? No thanks. God does not intend for us to fail. This is a misinterpretation of scripture.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      David, you’re saying the Bible does NOT teach that if you sell your soul to the devil, you can achieve short-term worldly success?

  14. Scott says:

    Final thoughts (from me anyway) —

    Maybe the best way to put the whole ‘asking out’ thing is to see it as something like an agent-agent problem vs an agent-object problem. Something like an agent-object problem is how it is typically being put —

    Desire — have a girlfriend

    Plan of action

    Step 1 — find a girl
    Step 2 — ask her out

    If step 2 fails blah, blah, blah…

    You need to recognize that this is a really bad approach (for some/most people) because it does not acknowledge the reality of the person you are asking being a second agent *with their own interests and agenda.*

    A useful comparison I think is college admissions. My sister worked for the admissions department for a university and she used to remark with some amazement how easy it was to get into the university as a transfer student, but how hard it was through direct admission from high school. I kind of filed it away in the back of my mind, and one day it hit me — the answer why is so obvious (and is almost exactly the same as this problem). It is a two agent problem, and what has built up over time is this very elaborate formalism called ‘applying for college’ that people have completely lost perspective on and have started taking way, way too seriously.

    There is a real purpose to the rigamarole, but the purpose *has* to be obscure precisely because all the students seeking admission have a grand incentive (or feel like they do) to game the system. Why? Because once they’re in, the University doesn’t want to flunk too many of them out. Yet the University has a need to sort out the students who are going to become liabilities for them. The two sides have been doing it for years, standards evolving, grade inflation, legislative intervention, everything else, and the result is this mess.

    Now we have this horrible spectacle of people Tiger Momming their way in, ruining kid’s teenage years with meaningless drudgery they don’t care about, etc, all to get through that front door. Yet the back door — transfer — is wide open. All they’d have to do is spend a couple of semesters in community college and get reasonable grades, and they’re pretty well guaranteed a spot.

    Why don’t people take the back door? More importantly, why does the University leave it open? How can it afford to do so?

    Because the back door is an extremely effective screen in it’s own right — it is better than the front door! The reason the University will let you in that way *is because by taking it you’ve really proved to them you can succeed.* You proved as well as anyone could reasonably ask by succeeding at just what they want from you in a very similar setting. What they really wanted to see was that you’d show up for classes and get reasonable grades, and you did! They figure if you were going to fail, you’d have done it already. You gave them exactly the information they needed.

    The front door is a different story. *It can be gamed.* Anyway, I think you get the idea & I won’t go too much into it. Stuff like the SAT will get you in pretty easily, because it’s hard to game, high-school grades, activities, etc, not really. And so people like to bluff their way in with that kind of stuff, and the whole thing escalates.

    But basically, in a two agent problem, it only *looks* like you need to jump through all the hoops, etc. The formalism crufts itself up *but the underlying need the formalism emerged to satisfy is the real target and can often be met in easier ways and the misery-inducing formalism bypassed.*

    In a two-agent problem, each of the two sides need to show that they will meet the requirements of the other. That’s the *only* way to get to a deal. With dating, the trick is two-fold — to discern what the requirements are, and to discern when the other agent finds what you offer to be acceptable. But of course, nobody wants to show their cards, and everybody wants veto power (so they tend to obscure the ‘requirements.’)

    Anyway, I think you see where it’s going…people need to decide for themselves what they want & what is the best approach. It is not necessary to get sucked into the immiserating rigamarole just because you see everyone else do it, especially if you really just don’t like it, and your success at it is not really a good measure of who you are precisely because it is designed to be gamed. Things don’t have to be that way. Do not buy into the lie that it is a measure of much. After all, what fraction of admitted freshmen finish in 4 years? Heck, what fraction blow it in the first year?

    Better strategy —

    Step 1 — Use your head and figure out who wants what you’ve got (and knows you have it!) Let them know (subtly, of course) if you have to.

    Step 2 — When you know what the answer is going to be, ask from among them. Not before. Surprises suck.

    But if you’re going to take the back door, remember that there can be no ‘gaming’, and you probably won’t get immediate admission to your ‘first choice.’ It may not be all that glamorous. Just the way it is. That’s the price for not having to ‘prove’ you are more than you actually are (which, besides making you miserable, to my mind is not a good idea anyway. Why do you want to live a lie?). I remember teaching pre-meds who were almost universally notorious cheaters, and I wondered how they would cheat when somebody was before them on the operating table, organs splayed out everywhere and going into flatline. Why would you do that? Is that what happiness is?

    Accept yourself (and others!) for who you are. Don’t take the crufted formalism at face value. (Value is subjective, remember? You don’t have to agree with what the market says!) I see absolutely no shame in this way of things. If you do, well, you are free to join the circus up at the front.

  15. Michael Maier says:

    OK, writing this as a Christian that dove into the shallow end of the PUA pool before becoming saved.

    PUA skills are tools. Like a rifle. You can use a rifle to hunt or defend innocent lives. Is the tool evil? Nope. Can it be used for evil? Yup.

    PUA skills are tough to use morally. If you generate attraction, your target will be attracted and you will both become lustful and more likely to fornicate. Getting to B from A is a problematic thing, I admit.

    But is attraction in and of itself sinful? Before you say yes, go read the Song of Solomon and the command to multiply.

    The whole love/attraction/marriage thing is difficult and it is hard to avoid sin. It’s a minefield. But that’s all of life, really.

    If you generate attraction in good women, you are more likely to attract and keep a good woman. Don’t get married if she’s not panting for you before / during courtship. How many “good, Church-going Christians” get divorced years later because she strayed? Or because “I love you but I’m not IN LOVE with you”?

    Or he cheated because she’s not giving up sex more than 3X yearly? Or because she’s a disgusting, unhealthy obese blob that literally reeks between her thighs?

    I would contend that a woman in love and attracted to her man AND SEEING OTHER WOMEN TO HER MAN is going to keep herself in line and service her husband sexually to his satisfaction. And he is far less likely to stray too. How many men (men period, not Christians) divorce healthy, sexually-hungry wives? I’d bet near 0%.

    You can delete this if you like, but it’s reality as I see it. And we Christian men have to live in reality.

    The PUA scene has a lot of sin. But there are a lot of brutal truths to be found in there, too.

    We are fallen creatures. Women have very specific, inherent defects to their very beings. Learning to navigate those defects and manipulate them to our own male advantage does not have to be sinful. We can use our knowledge morally and wisely.

  16. Charlie Foxtrot says:

    But where does the ~reverence~ for women come from? What’s the Biblical basis for it?

    “On the contrary, if you want to watch something that might actually help, look at something with a screenplay written by a woman.”

    Why should I do this? How will this help me? What’s the Biblical reasoning behind this?

    The thing about PUAs, like any other con job, is that it parrots a truthful problem but offers a false solution. There’s plenty of guys out there that have no desire to become jerkboys but have no solution to the real problem that treating women deferentially has led them nowhere. These aren’t guys who are trying to “slay pussy” or even be promiscuous. These are guys who simply want a wholesome relationship with one woman as is God’s will. But everything in both secular society and Christian society has taught them that to achieve God’s will in this matter, they must revere and defer to women. They’ve found out the hard way that this teaching isn’t true and that deferring to or revering women leads to nothing but loneliness.

    So where is the Biblical basis for this disproportional reverence for women? Where in the Bible does it say that it is God’s will for a man to revere and defer to a woman?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Charlie Foxtrot wrote:

      But where does the ~reverence~ for women come from? What’s the Biblical basis for it?

      Right, good question. I searched this entire page for “revere” and it comes up 4 times–all in your comment. My essay doesn’t say you’re supposed to revere women or place them on a pedestal. It says women are as screwed up as men, they aren’t as powerful as lonely intimidated guys think, and that you should focus on pleasing God, not women. How my essay has been construed by an outside blogger (which I’m guessing is how you came here) as me saying “fear women, not Jesus” is beyond me.

  17. Tomasz G. says:

    You think of yourself very highly, but as a Christian you should ask yourself, if this is not pride…

    Before you start thanking God for your moral high ground, better read up about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The PUAs and MGTOW may be sooner in the Kingdom of Heaven than you.

    You are divorced – you were dumped probably. But even this didn’t ring a bell. God wants you to repent, but you just “can’t be wrong” (gamma…). You respond to every comment, and tell them they misread you. For just one moment consider, that God may be speaking to you through these comments… The more you seem to disagree with them.

  18. BDMG says:

    I followed a link to this page, expecting that I was going to find a typical rendering from a luckily-married guy speaking in a vacuum. As it turns out, the author does indeed know a think or two, but it’s of little to no comfort to any of the men to whom the essay is addressed. Well, at least the ones with my attitude.

    As far as I can see, the essay lays the current state of affairs in our world pretty well, in a way that can be summed up as such: yes, the human mating game is as bad as it seems, or worse; here is a litany of ways that it’s all screwed up, most of which you probably didn’t even think of…and now that you know how bad it is, let me proceed to *not* tell you how to navigate your way through it, but instead, I’ll just remind you that there are more important things to worry about. In a way, it’s refreshing to see someone address this issue without a bunch of cliches on how to be noble, wonderful and godly like themselves — as if desirable women responded to that — and instead, bring the reader to the conclusion that it is a dilemma, and that they need to make the best of it. On the other hand, it does kind of remind me of my mom who (God bless her) had one of the worst responses imaginable when I would complain to her about the bullies at school, shoving me around on the play field and harassing me to the point of misery: “Oh just ignore them!” In other words, even for one of the (imperfect) men on a mission, shrugging all of this off is a lot easier said than done — especially for those who belong to Protestant churches (especially Mormons and Calvinists) that tend to indirectly ridicule the idea of singleness as a vocation, and even stoke the fire of social punishment for unmarried men.

    Perhaps the cherry on top was this line right at the end of the essay: “If you start acting such that women describe you as a ‘kind man,’ you are going to get out of your rut.” Speaking of ruts, it seems to me that the deepest rut that any sexually/nuptially unsuccessful man can be in — the most formidable barrier between him and marriage, or resolute singleness, or anything else that might be worthwhile — is spending one minute worrying about how women think of him or describe him. Even using the word “women” at that point in the essay is…I can’t decide if it’s ironic or what — I mean there we were, just starting down the escape route out of the woods and into mental and spiritual freedom, and then suddenly, there’s that dangling carrot on a string, hanging right in front of our noses.

    Now, let me tell you about my own “rut”, and how I got out of it…this is the part where people start telling me all about how hot my part of Hell is going to be…

    After arriving at age 36 as a stone-cold kissless virgin, enduring years of conspicuous peculiarity among family, friends and complete strangers, scorn from women generally — save the few who lifted my hopes high and then smashed them on the ground — and receiving lecture after self-serving lecture from ignorantly lucky people who like to hear themselves talk, I found myself in quite a disturbing red-pill rage. Oh I knew it wasn’t healthy, but that didn’t stop it from consuming me anyway. What might have stopped it would have been the woman of my dreams, miraculously coming into my life and turning everything around…but every time it seemed like fate was about to finally prove this angry, bitter misogynist wrong, it would only prove him right yet again. Finally, I did the only thing left to do, as far as I was concerned: I got it done with a legal Nevada prostitute. I’m not going to defend the move, morally, but if I’m to be perfectly honest, that did get me out of my “rut”. Since then, life has made a big turn-around, like a personal renaissance. The insecurity has evaporated, the anger is gone, and as another unsuccessful guy who did the same before me said, it’s one less stick for the [normal people] to beat me over the head with. By the way, I did not view my prostitute as some object or a piece of trash, and I still don’t — that was simply the only way to make it happen. She was kind, respectful and dedicated, regardless of whatever she actually thought of me — I wish her the best.

    I’m not telling about this to recommend it for anyone else; it’s more of a testimony to how anticlimactic and non-fairy tale these things can turn out. I realize that it was sinful, but frankly, that fact alone is the only thing I regret about it (well, that and a couple of minor details that aren’t fit for public consumption). I know that sounds horrible to some, but if I can’t give him anything else, I at least have to try to give God honesty. Maybe there was something to what St. Augustine said about some evils being necessary in order to prevent greater ones (I’m not Catholic by the way), because had I not gone through with it, it frightens me to think about what kind of shape I might be in now.

  19. Joe says:

    The real problem with this article is the author’s flippant conclusion that the agony of involuntary celibacy will not be an issue if one merely engaged in enough Christian service. Living without sex is a grievous trial to anyone who does not have the gift of celibacy

  20. Joshua says:

    Dr. Murphy — I came to your blog for Austrian economics, so imagine my surprise when I found this, of all things. As a fellow Christian dude (still single and about half your age), I really appreciate what you’ve said here, having come to similar thoughts after my own season of despondency.

    One thing that helped me is the idea that Christianity is not marriage. That feels rather strange to say, but as someone noted earlier, there’s a kind of social ostracism in churches where if you’re not married by a certain age, there must be something wrong with you (the Christian version of “you’re a loser ’cause you can’t get any”). We would do well to remember that marriage is a temporal and temporary institution (Matthew 22.30), a mere shadow of the reality that is Christ and the church (Ephesians 5.32).

    We would also do well to read Søren Kierkegaard’s thoughts on marriage in “Attack upon Christendom” — not that I agree with him all the way (in fact, I’m still not sure what to think), but he provides a much needed antidote to the view of marriage as Christian nirvana. Whereas Christians in the past may have prized celibacy too much, I think Christians today, at least in America, prize it too little. Case in point: Just about every sermon involves marriage-and-family life tips, not the Lord who relieves our burdens (including the burden of singleness).

    Something else I appreciate is your distinction between “kind man” and “nice guy.” One is giving value to people; the other is sucking it out of them. By being a value-giver (or a “kind man”), you avoid the dual traps of being being a “nice guy” and an “a-hole” — something that goes for all of life, not just seeking a mate. These things have helped me relax in my singleness and not take it so seriously.

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