Greed for Perfection

A shortish one today.  On Dalrock’s blog, I commented about my theory that the main reason women delay marriage (and have other problems) today is that they can’t stand to give up on the huge number of options they see before them.  To quote myself: “Instead of choosing between a half-dozen eligible bachelors in her small town and settling down there or nearby — or possibly going to the convent or deciding neither of those is for her and becoming a nurse or teacher — she feels like she has a whole world of men to choose from, plus numerous possible careers, places to live, adventures to have, and so on.”  Commenter I Art Laughing summed that up in one word:

I think we agree Cail, what you described is GREED. A total lack of contentment and a total distrust of God’s provision.

I hadn’t tried to come up with a single word for it (why use one word when a thousand will do?), but he’s right, that’s the one. Maybe leavened with pride, without which you probably couldn’t have the “I deserve the best possible life” attitude.

However, I don’t like to stop there, because that’s not a solution. You can tell women to stop being greedy, but that doesn’t address whatever is driving the outburst of greed in the first place, so it’s not likely to help much. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins; it’s always been with us, so why are today’s women so much more afflicted with it than their grandmothers were? To look for solutions, you have to ask why this is suddenly such a huge problem, and that’s what leads me to the huge number of choices women have. I think the more choices people have, the more they get greedy because they don’t want to give up any of them.  (Men might have the same problem if they had as many choices, but they don’t, so they don’t.)

It’s like the other day, I stopped at the grocery store for two ingredients for something I was making: cream cheese and some sort of green vegetable. The cream cheese took about 5 seconds: there are two brands, pick the one that’s cheaper today, make sure I don’t accidentally get the low-fat crap, and I’m done. But for the vegetable, there are several different vegetables I like, plus the choice of fresh, canned, or frozen; organic or conventional; different sale prices and quantities to consider. I spent a couple minutes (a long time for me) buying the vegetable, far more than I spent on the cream cheese.

Now take that couple minutes and extrapolate it out to a lifetime, with aisle after aisle in a supermarket the size of the world filled with interesting men, interesting careers, interesting places to visit, and so on. Most of them aren’t real, but some are, and you can’t tell which ones until you’ve visited every aisle and read every label.

That’s what the 28-year-old “I’m not ready to settle down” girl is doing: she’s pushing her cart up and down the aisles of life looking for the best deal. Once in a while she likes something enough to put it in the cart, but she keeps pushing, not knowing if there will be something even better in the next aisle.  She can’t commit to going through the checkout and walking out with something, because she doesn’t know what she’s missed.  Unless she’s been taught that life is a series of trade-offs and regrets mixed with joys (at best), she doesn’t know how to pick something that’s “good enough” and be happy with it.

That still doesn’t define a solution, but it starts to hint at the shape of one.

31 thoughts on “Greed for Perfection

  1. Last year I dated this woman for a few months. She was 22, very attractive, out on her own for the first time. I was not really committed to her, but I quite liked her and wanted things to work out.

    I had to call her out on some of her behavior though, constantly texting other people when we were together, etc. So I had to cut her off for a few days, I turned down taking her out, etc.

    Well 5 days later, she had a new guy. There were about 8 different guys chasing her around the entire time we were seeing each other. If I wasn’t going to cater to her, she had other men who would. It’s true, when they are that age, they have all the power and no incentive to settle down. So, now I’m one of the “bad boys” her future husband will be jealous about. No one seems to take into considering that maybe she was a “bad girl” that my future woman might be jealous about. I dunno.

    From a rational, self-interested, short term perspective, you can hardly blame these women. But collectively, it’s screwing up the whole system.

  2. Sorry to go off-topic as first comment… however, noticed elsewhere that you weren’t sure what an “Environmental Engineer” did. You probably aren’t interested, but simply, water and wastewater treatment, solid waste management, and remediation of polluted sites. HOWEVER! The regulation and permitting related to these types of sites has significantly reduced the percentage of effort expended on actual engineering designs and increased compliance, box-checking, permit application writing, etc. which is far less rewarding for me personally. Also, it’s a subset of civil engineering; it pulls from most of the same concepts and body of knowledge, just more specifically applied.

    [Cail: Thank you for the information. In return, allow me to share some knowledge with which you seem equally unfamiliar: ]

  3. Hipster Racist,

    Can you imagine what that would be like, to be chased by eight different women? When I was really applying game, there might have been a point where I was getting some interest from that many women (and that was heady enough), but they certainly weren’t all chasing me, jockeying for position and giving me stuff. A guy pretty much has to be a rock star to get that kind of treatment, but you can walk into any high school or college dorm in the country and find at least one girl who’s getting it. And if there are eight guys in her social circle who want her, how many more out there who would want her if they knew her? Thousands, at least, right? What are the odds that one of those eight is Mr. Right?

    That’s probably why I tend to look for underlying causes rather than criticizing women in general — if I’d gotten that kind of treatment when I was 22, I know the results wouldn’t have been pretty. Women as a group didn’t suddenly go bad; society discarded the system that was designed to guide and control their behavior.

  4. I’m sort of surprised your blog isn’t getting more comments.

    Anyways – I think what you’re describing is just one side of the situation. A woman’s sexual selection process theoretically couldn’t get screwed up even if 8 men are chasing her. After all, even then it shouldn’t be difficult for her to choose the one with the highest MMP value, right? It’s very easy for a woman to reject men, after all, they do it all the time. She would simply do that and then signal him that she seeks commitment. But, as most of us in the sphere already know, the one man she wants to elicit commitment from has basically zero incentive to commit to anyone, so he won’t, at least when he’s young. Alphas don’t sign up to be “boyfriends”/husbands unless they’re deeply religious, and they generally don’t do so before they’re 35-37 yrs old (they instinctively know that’s when their MMP value peaks). The result is serial monogamy.

  5. Hollenhund, thanks for the comment. I figure I’ll get more once I’ve blogged regularly enough for a while to attract more linkage.

    Yes, the fact that today’s hottie tends to be attracted to the man with the least incentive to marry is part of it. But I think that even if one of those eight guys were a hunky, wealthy, marriage-seeking alpha, today’s girl, unlike her grandmother, would still hesitate to snag him. To her, those eight guys represent just the tip of the iceberg of the men and experiences that are out there for her taking. And that leads into the serial monogamy: she does meet men she finds attractive enough to sleep with and even live with, but she doesn’t want to make the lifetime commitment of marriage and family. She’s afraid if she does that, her “soul-mate” will turn out to have been a guy she would have met in college, or backpacking through Europe, or at the fascinating career she would have had if she weren’t changing diapers.

    And unlike her grandmother, she has the option of spending a chunk of her life chasing those fantasies, and everyone around her encourages her to do so. So she does, although the financial realities of life mean that it ends up being far less glamorous than she thought, and she ends up looking for her soul-mate during the night shift at Arby’s instead of at her new law firm, but by then she’s too invested to change her ways.

  6. All of which reminds me of the girlfriend I had who fell for me pretty badly which is doubtless why she explained and without embarrassment that in the two years since she had split from her live-in lover of two years she had gone to bed with three different guys a week for the two years since, which by my calculation is over 300 partners. Now, if she looked like Helen of Troy you might find that understandable, but although she was twenty seven, and not fat (she swam a lot, I presume to keep the weight off) she was otherwise absolutely ordinary. She assumed that the guys she slept with did likewise! When an ordinary girl has that level of choice, with the possibility, as she had, of hiding her N count from friends and family, she can do anything she wants. As I recall men were not just sleeping with her but always offering her jobs too!

    I cannot be sure that I dropped her because I recognised (even subconsciously) that she was utterly unmarriagable – for me she was just Pump and Dump, and I quickly tired of her, and so the need to consider the long term never arrived. Her promiscuity was equalled by her other and even more serious problems.

  7. There is such a thing as having a multiplicity of bad options without a single good option that is another possible reason for the delay.

  8. DJ, that’s probably true in some cases. But it seems to be the biggest problem for women who have lots of good options: the slim, attractive girl who has some brains and wit, comes from a good family, got an education, and has always had multiple suitors. She’s the one who’s most likely to spend her 20s and 30s on cruise-control, living the strongandindependent lifestyle while she waits for Mr. Perfect.

    The women I’ve known who honestly didn’t have a lot of good options because of a low SMV were more likely to jump on the least-bad option (at least in their view) and get on with it. And really, a woman has to be awfully objectionable not to have “a single good option.”

  9. She’s afraid if she does that, her “soul-mate” will turn out to have been a guy she would have met in college, or backpacking through Europe, or at the fascinating career she would have had if she weren’t changing diapers.

    Yep. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). Today’s girl wants to have all kinds of fun experiences and “see the world” and have “something for myself so I can share it with the perfect man”. To her, marriage will wait. that’s what today’s men are up against.

  10. Obviously, the problem is wanting the girl who has 8 other options chasing after her and why would a guy want her? And why would a girl have that line out there waiting for her to be done with one guy?

    This is just the wrong girl you’ve picked (first commenter) and there is something rather wrong with her. And maybe you want her BECAUSE she has those other guys after her. Its not fun to be with someone who is texting other people while you’re together and it is a deliberate insult, actually. Deliberate.

    You have to figure out how to look for the girl who would be pleasant and fun to be with and work on your own mind to find her attractive. Not go for the one with the stamp of approval that all guys find her attractive and thus she is “good enough” for you. Obaviously, if she’s had a string of relationships, no one worked that hard to keep her.

  11. The vibe a lot of girls get from guys is that he’s still looking. He thinks he can do better. In other words, ambivalence. Its very off putting, especially since sex is an expected part of a relationship. The girls don’t want a long string of sexual relationships, really they don’t. They see friends doing that and do not approve. So, why date when you might wind up in that humiliating situation of feeling he’s ambivalent about you and compares you to every other woman, including movie stars and fashion models and finds you wanting? And you’ve had sex with him and now its embarrassing to you.

    Think about it. This is the explanation for some of the college lesbianism. If its socially acceptable to be a “couple” with another girl, the willing commitment of women is going to have an appeal over that “is she as good as I can do” ambivalence of guys. Not saying thats good; in fact its bad and very confusing for girls who get involved with that experience.

  12. And maybe you want her BECAUSE she has those other guys after her.

    No, this is female thinking; men don’t work that way. We want a girl because we want her, not because other men do. Most of us would prefer that other men didn’t want ours, actually.

  13. The vibe a lot of girls get from guys is that he’s still looking. He thinks he can do better.

    That’s projection. Men aren’t hypergamous; we don’t look to “trade up” to a better model the way women do. We’re binary: we’re happy with the one we have or we’re not. A man might stay with a woman he’s decided to leave for the sake of the sex while he starts looking elsewhere, but that’s for the sex. If sex weren’t part of the relationship, he’d be gone.

  14. “Choice Overload” is a problem for men and for women both. Part of the problem is that lifetime or “Hard” monogamy is not natural to men or to women. It is a compromise forced on us against our own nature, and so part of us will naturally resist this imposition. This explains part of the FOMO mentality.

  15. True, I don’t think men are any more immune to choice overload than women are; we just generally don’t get nearly as many choices in the sexual market. A typical 18-year-old man is hoping he can find ONE good woman, ONE good job, ONE good place to live. His female counterpart has been assured that there are dozens, maybe hundreds of each waiting for her, so her main concern becomes not choosing too soon.

    The only men in that position are the super-rich and famous, and they DO tend to have the same problem of becoming dissatisfied with what they have. Tiger Woods is just the most recent example.

  16. “The girls don’t want a long string of sexual relationships, really they don’t.”

    I find this difficult to believe. I see this asserted all over the manosphere and elsewhere.

    I think a woman has no problem with a series of sexual relationships with very attractive men, so long as they occur on her timetable, they assume the characteristics she desires, and they begin and end on her terms.

    I suspect what’s really going on here, though, is that most women want a relationship with the most attractive man she can get – but she wants commitment from him and is offering up sex with varying degrees of rapidity and frequency to try to extract that commitment (which almost always fails).

    But if she can’t get commitment from that hot attractive man, then she’ll settle for the sex. It appears that for most women, sex with an attractive man is better than commitment from an unattractive man.

    At least that’s how it looks to me.

  17. Deti, the key word there is “long”. At 18, a young woman with options probably wants to get married about age 28; if you ask them how they see their friends getting there, they’ll figure the high-school boyfriend (who may or may not have actually engaged in intercourse) will go by the wayside in college, then if the college boyfriend can’t be turned into a husband, there will be another boyfriend after college, and maybe one after that who becomes the husband. So at the outside, husband is sexual relationship #4, and more likely #2 or #3.

    That’s actually close to what happens for a lot of women, though the number of relationships is usually a little higher, and there may be some flings in there, too (which just means the guy didn’t stick around long enough to count as a boyfriend – very rarely does the woman actually intend that those be short-term relationships).

    Cail – men most certainly *can* be hypergamous. Any guy with lousy game, who’s ended up with a girl whose SMV is lower than the guy thinks his is (or should be), or whose girl has gotten fat, will be looking to trade up. If he has lousy self-confidence, he’s going to keep looking until he thinks there’s a nearly sure thing before he dumps the first girl for the second, because better to have a girl that’s not good enough than none at all. (Been there, done that.)

  18. Deti, I think that’s one of those cases where women are able to believe two contradictory things. On the one hand, it’s probably true that when she’s banging Boyfriend #3 her junior year in college, she’s not thinking in terms of him being third on the way to Mr. Right at #12. A part of her imagines them in the little cottage with the white picket fence with 2.5 kids and all that.

    But…she’s not nagging him for a ring, and she’d freak if he offered one. Every romance novel or movie she’s ever seen portrayed the heroine going through some great life-changing drama before settling down, and she hasn’t done that yet. She might hope to marry this guy someday, after they have a few dramatic breakups and reconciliations and “grow as people.” That might be her ideal outcome, actually, which would explain why it’s becoming so common: stay with the same guy more or less for several years, so she doesn’t feel as slutty; but just shack up instead of marrying, which leaves her open to all those great options she knows are just over the horizon.

    The funny part is that the stereotype is that it’s the guy who avoids commitment and the girl who tries to tie him down. Maybe it used to be that way, but it’s not now. I just ran across a girl in another forum complaining about a guy wanting to “keep his foot in the door,” and I realized there’s a real simple answer: don’t have sex with him. If a woman starts having sex with a guy, and then five years later when she’s decided she’s ready for marriage he balks, she has only herself to blame. If she hadn’t given away the milk for free, he would have proposed within six months or moved on.

  19. Anthony, I agree that a man who’s unhappy with his woman will tend to stray and look for someone better, but I don’t think that’s quite the same thing as hypergamy. Hypergamy doesn’t require that the woman be unhappy with her man, or that he be below her in SMV. She could be a 7 happily married to an 8, and then she gets a boss who’s a 9, and if she doesn’t have her hypergamy under control, after a while she becomes unhappy with her husband because he just doesn’t seem so great anymore for some reason.

    I’m not sure that happens with men. If a 7 man is married to an 8 who stays at 8 and is enthusiastic in bed, is he going to try to trade her in as soon as there’s a 9 in the picture? Maybe some guys will, but I think most would be too happy with the bird in the hand. I think men who stray are usually after variety (which explains why the women they stray with are sometimes even less attractive than their wives), rather than hypergamously trying to trade up.

  20. Hmmm. I don’t believe that very many girls believe movies about relationships are any more comparable to real life than believe family sit coms are comparable to real life.

    You’d probably be surprised how many girls don’t date because no one asks them. They are not fat or ugly – indeed many fat and ugly girls DO date. Probably many are wary of guys and they are not risk takers. They see other girls who are kind of promiscuous – one thing to notice about a girl is if she is not comfortable with other girls, if she “hangs out” around the guys – she is probably known to be promiscuous and other girls avoid her. They don’t want to be her shoulder to cry on if she has a problem with some guy because they don’t think she’ll change and they know its one-sided: she wouldn’t be there for them if they are hurting.

    You have to figure out how to avoid them and see something attractive in girls who aren’t dating much and go slow because they are wary. They do hear a lot about serial killers and date rapers, too, of course so its not odd that they are wary. Its not “patience” that they need but something to believe is a genuine interest before sex. Of course, a man needs to feel tht she finds him attractive and is not wasting his time. Maybe talking about relationships and the kind of life and relationship you see for yourself would be a way to make that connection of confidence. Well, you have to invest some time. Most women are smart enough to figure out that they are worse off with having had a too brief sexual relationship than if they’d been on their own.

  21. It doesn’t matter whether girls consciously think movies equate to real life; the stories that permeate the culture have an effect on us. When you’ve grown up reading, hearing, and seeing thousands of stories about romance that all follow the same general pattern, that can’t help but guide what you expect for your own life.

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all how many girls don’t get asked out. In hindsight, I can see how many times I should have asked girls out and didn’t because I was shy and had an attitude of scarcity, so I didn’t see the signals they were sending. However, they do get asked out. Even I, shy as I was, worked up the courage to do it once in a while. If a girl isn’t ugly or fat, and she’s not socially inept and hiding herself from boys somehow, she will get asked out. Maybe not by the guys she wishes were asking, maybe not by as many as she expects, but she will get asked.

    Yes, people are wary. So what? They must not be too wary, since statistics show that 70% of girls admit to having had sex by the age of 19. They were approached, accepted, and went all the way. Many of them didn’t require all the flowery “talking about relationships” that you’re going on about, either. Your suggestion to hunt for girls who are being missed somehow is bad advice because it encourages a scarcity, Special Snowflake mentality for men: “It’s not that there’s anything wrong with me or anything I need to change; I just need to look harder to find that needle in the haystack who’s my soul-mate.” That thinking leads to loneliness and despair, so I think we’ll pass.

    Also, it’s pointless to tell us to “figure out how to see something attractive” in someone. Can’t be done, anymore than you can figure out how to like broccoli if you can’t stand the taste of it. Attractive isn’t something you figure out; it just is. When a woman walks into my line of sight, I’m attracted to her or not in less than a second. I’m not exaggerating. Long before I’ve had a chance to even think about it, my hind-brain has already scoped out her figure, the sheen of her hair (a rough proxy for age much of the time), the way she moves, and probably a dozen other signals I’m not even aware of, and decided whether I find her attractive. There’s nothing I can do to change that.

    I can learn to find things desirable: virtue, sense of humor, intelligence, faith, and many other things are desirable to me in a woman. But they can’t make me attracted to her — they can’t make me want to pick her up and carry her off to my cave so I can have sex with her forever, to put it bluntly. Those things can make me want to be her friend, but not her husband. And if I lie to myself and say that’s good enough, and that I’ll learn to be attracted to her, then — speaking from experience here — I’m setting up a long episode of pain for both of us when that doesn’t happen and she realizes something critical is missing.

  22. Hmmm. How about the girls who come over and talk to you? Can you “give them a chance?” They have signalled an attraction to you. Isn’t it an aphrodisiac (sp?) that someone likes you?

    I am not sure what to make of that 70% had sex by age 19 figure. Do 70% of kids date in high school? But what does it matter if you are now, say, 25 and do not intend to date a 19 year old? I think it might be that a lot of those girls had some sexual experience with one guy in high school because there was all that pressure to have a date for the prom. I don’t like that, wish it didn’t happen, but if thats 6, 7, 8 years in her past, she might not have had any sexual partners between then and 25. Thats not hard to believe, actually. Sexual relationships often leave a feeling of humiliation and thats one of the worst feelings.

    I do agree that the media/cultural messages are unhelpful but I think the effect is more to make people feel alienated and discouraged. I’ve read that Facebook has that effect.

    To have someone you feel is “really into” you and you are “really into” her – Thats what most girls want, too.

  23. I am not sure what to make of that 70% had sex by age 19 figure. Do 70% of kids date in high school? But what does it matter if you are now, say, 25 and do not intend to date a 19 year old? I think it might be that a lot of those girls had some sexual experience with one guy in high school because there was all that pressure to have a date for the prom. I don’t like that, wish it didn’t happen, but if thats 6, 7, 8 years in her past, she might not have had any sexual partners between then and 25. Thats not hard to believe, actually. Sexual relationships often leave a feeling of humiliation and thats one of the worst feelings.

    A couple of things kvoor.

    First, that 70% figure is probably a floor, not a ceiling. Women tend to lie about their sexual activity, and lie by lowballing. The actual figure is likely higher.

    Second, it is very uncommon actually for a woman who was sexually active at 19 to stop being sexually active for 6, 7, 8 years. I can’t say that I have ever seen it personally outside of a woman who converted to Christianity at that age and adopted a celibate lifestyle. Otherwise, women, once they are sexually active, tend to stay that way until they hit The Wall.

    I gather that you are a woman. If so, you need to understand something: Men are not like you. Not in the slightest. What we think, what we care about, how we feel, what attracts us… all of it is different. However you would approach something is not at all how a man would approach something. Until you really grasp this, none of what we say will make sense.

  24. No, it’s not an aphrodisiac when someone you don’t find attractive shows an interest in you. It might be a bit of an ego boost, mostly because men are so rarely approached at all. But it’s pretty much the opposite of an aphrodisiac. Girls have a word for unattractive men who approach them: creeps. I don’t see any need to be that cruel about it, but neither will it somehow make me attracted to her. That’s 100% pure blue-pill thinking there: “If I just show her enough interest and devotion, she’ll come around.” No, no she won’t. Not ever. So why would you expect that a man in that situation would?

    If I were 25, I would totally be dating 19-year-olds.

    Most girls (and guys) want to get that feeling of “he/she is really into me” — from someone she/he is really into. When it’s coming from someone else, it’s awkward and embarrassing, and if it goes on, ultimately “creepy.”

  25. @kvoorhees4

    Just to be clear, I had no idea she had 8 guys chasing her around. Second of all, she “made the first move” so to speak. Also, I’m not religious, I’m basically a slut and fine with that. I would hardly consider myself an “alpha” but I’ve never had a problem bedding women. In fact, I’m somewhat of a cad. No point in shaming me because I can still get away with it, even at my age. In fact, it seems to get even easier the older I get.

    I’m not a “nice guy,” I’m a bad boy. Just read my blog lol.

  26. Thanks to all for being very polite. I have a problem – always have a problem – generalizing about people. Every individual person seems like such a “piece of work” (for good or for ill).

    I am married many years. We don’t always get along but I recommend marriage, am a big believer, strongly believe that its a good idea to be married. Oppose the concept of “gay marriage” because it weakens the most important, foundational human institution. Just my opinion: marriage does not apply to gay relationships and the concept is a dagger aimed at heterosexual men and women. It is not benign.

    That’s all by way of saying how much I support marriage and wish for people to find someone they can be committed to as lifetime partners. Financially, its SO important, IMO.

    Back to the topic — imagine a room with a representative sample of, say, 50 women between the ages of 22 and, say, 31. Two men, a 28 year old never married and a 35 year old divorced man with joint custody of 2 kids. What are the odds of each of those men coming away with a date from that outing? I’d say its stronger for the 35 year old divorced guy, much stronger. Why is that? I think he’s more motivated. Looking at the big picture, for the sake of his 2 kids he probably should not remarry. But he’s going to be the one who really wants a relationship that’s steady and stable. And he’s going to be attracted to women who offer that possibility.

  27. Motivation in itself is irrelevant if you’re not motivated in the right direction. A 35-year-old divorced man who is motivated to ignore conventional wisdom when it doesn’t fit with reality, seek out the truth about socio-sexual relations, and apply that knowledge to his life? Yes, he can clean up. That was me a decade ago, give-or-take a few years, and I did far better than I did in my 20s when I was more objectively attractive in every conventional way. Not because I was more motivated in my 30s, though. I wanted a woman as badly as anything in my 20s, but had no freaking clue how to attract one who wasn’t drunk. Motivation without knowledge equals aimless wandering and frustration.

    And he’s going to be attracted to women who offer that possibility.

    No, no, no, no, no. Write it on the chalkboard a hundred times or until you get it: there’s no such thing as, “going to be attracted to women who offer XYZ.” Attraction happens or doesn’t before any offers can be considered. When a woman walks into my office, any attraction that’s going to take place has already happened before she crosses the twenty feet to my desk. If it didn’t happen, no amount of “steady and stable relationship” that she might offer will make her attractive to me. It might make me wish I were attracted to her, because such a relationship is desirable, but that’s not attraction. Repeat after me some more: attraction isn’t a choice. Attraction is not desirability.

    Now, if he’s cruel and foolish enough, a man might marry a nice woman he’s not attracted to, for the sake of ending the loneliness. That’s not the same thing as becoming attracted to her nice qualities, though, and it’s not likely to end well.

  28. The vibe a lot of girls get from guys is that he’s still looking. 

    This too exemplifies female logic. It shows shes seeking alpha.

    If he’s looking, that means he has options, which the typical beta lacks. But the typical beta is invisible, good only for orbiting, or getting free stuff from.

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