Relationships

"Love is all you need" requires a love that can overcome a partner's flaws—flaws that without love, would drive others insane

Attention-Reactive Problems

Attention-reactive problems are those that by the very act of paying attention to them or working on them, they change. For example, if you enter into marriage counseling, you cease to be counseling a regular marriage. Rather, you are counseling a counseled marriage. There is a component of striving and expectation that is now part of the problem.

So when someone implores you "Don't worry about it" or "You're over-thinking it," it isn't because they're annoyed, but rather because the advice may be the optimal path to a solution.

Being a pick-up artist increases the odds that your children will either love pick-up artists or become one

Your choice of a pursuit strategy on the dating scene shouldn't just be some arbitrary system you selected as a means to an end, but should also be considered as part of the self-expression you display out there. Just like you wouldn't wear a shirt that doesn't represent who you are, you shouldn't don a pursuit strategy that also doesn't represent who you are.

People fall in love with Casanovas and femme fatales partly because they've been smitten by their charms, but also because they believe that those same charms, if passed on to their children, would also work on other people.

Therefore, by executing the techniques of the pick-up artistry community, it's not just a means to an end, but changes the end. What you are selling on the dating scene is also yourself, and by adopting pick-up artistry, you're now selling the kind of person who does such techniques. The girls you land will now be girls who go for alpha males. They're the ones who are liable to fall in love with jocks and life-of-the-party types, and that's what you will pass onto your children.

Love exists to justify compromise. The greater the love, the more unnatural it is for the sexes to collaborate

Love will always exist so long as we have a reason to not love

Love—specifically limerence—is a means, not an end. Its purpose is to fling us towards others, for better or for worse. That last part is crucial. The intensity of our reasoning skills is in direct proportion to the intensity of our emotions driving in the opposite direction. The existence of love is proof of the high stakes of the matter, where cold calculation and reckless abandon are both equally valid—and necessary—at times.

Network theory indicates that finding your soul mate isn't as improbable as it would seem

Finding your soul mate isn’t that hard, according to the mathematics of networks. If we accept eHarmony’s premise that there are now 29 dimensions to compatibility, then from a probability standpoint, it’s mind-boggling that anybody finds a match. On the other hand, the person you’re looking for is also looking for someone that matches those 29 dimensions. So the process of finding “the one” isn’t quite like finding a needle in a haystack, but rather, finding a needle that is also trying to find you.

If there are six degrees of separation between everybody on the planet, and everybody is jumping from interest to interest, it shouldn’t take long for two people with the same patchwork of tastes to bump into each other. If every decision, from where to live (like Austin, TX), to when and where to shop for groceries (like the local co-op at 8 pm), represents a piece of self-expression, then two people fully expressing themselves in the same ways must cross paths quite often.

Textual Animal

We were once the social animal, but we're increasingly becoming the textual animal. All our thoughts and beliefs are bound up in text, as ideas are often first introduced to us via something we read on the web or in print. And when we verify said beliefs, such as when we're challenged, we Google for answers, further codifying our beliefs.

Our relationships are increasingly bound by text as well, in many cases, literally via text messaging, and more often via social media. And even though social media is largely constituted by photos, those photos would seem empty without accompanying captions or text replies. Even a "Like" is a textual response, albeit via shortcut. And even if the Internet doesn't account for half of the volume of one's social life, it may dominate more than half of our basic social functions. Keeping tabs on someone and feeling their presence are possibly half of what constitutes a friendship. At some point, the text starts to become the point, and an alien trying to understand humanity might see us first as a massive, colliding torrent of words, rather than flesh and blood.

The American Dream is financed by the tolls of American marriage

Stephanie Coontz, in Marriage, a History, posits that marriage in America is unique in history, not for its individual features, but for the lump-sum of them. The ideal of the Leave It to Beaver, happily-ever-after, nuclear family of the 1950s is new in history in that it bundles the expectations for affection, division-of-labor, co-habiting, financial co-mingling, and monogamy into the institution of marriage. In other words, American marriage is difficult, which would explain the high divorce rates.

That is not to say, though, that marriage shouldn't be difficult. Precisely the opposite, American marriage is difficult because American life is such a high stakes game. America, the land of opportunity, is more hierarchal than average. Because of its land, population, wealth, and overall standing, the country owns a giant chunk of the top of the global pyramid. In order to climb that pyramid, it's best to be a child of one of those nuclear families. For example, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are two of America's greatest success stories (at least according to an American definition of success), and they were the children of loving, engaged, two-parent households living in the suburbs. Steve Jobs's case is even more interesting since he was an orphan. With dedicated two-parent households, each parent can take on a handful of myriad beneficial roles in child-rearing, such as encouraging a child's extracurriculars or building wealth to afford great college tuitions or sizable backyards in expensive utopias such as 1960s Mountain View, California or Seattle, Washington.

Such benefits for children might come at the expense of parental happiness. In order to sustain the ideal marriage, the husband and wife must cease caring about sex with outside partners, they must have a love that starts out as lust and evolves into a deep friendship that is sustained, and they must collaborate relatively easily in dividing and spreading their responsibilities. The closest analog in the past was when the husband and wife were business partners, working the same farm. When that arrangement ceased post-War, the nuclear partners had to engage each other's minds, and comfortably sit and watch TV together while transferring knowledge to their children. Good parents are expected to moonlight as tutors and character role models for their children, as opposed to teaching their children a family trade. Those couples that can't check off all these boxes then collapse into a strained unhappiness or divorce. Those that do, get their American dream.

The Red Queen Hypothesis means that both the skills for applying makeup and an attraction to makeup should evolve together

Times of upheaval reward the mediator, who can obviate entire institutions, such as marriage, by simply getting in touch with their prime directives

The war between the sexes is inevitable, but so is détente. Social customs and institutions are like treaties that automate the process of compromise between man and woman. When there is social upheaval, such as what we've seen in the past 70 years (thanks to contraception, equality in the workplace, equality in the home, etc.), the customs are no longer useful. Given the high divorce rates and the subsequent acrimony, we're back to open warfare between the sexes.

But the sexes need to mate, and so they cling to the old institutions, naively hoping this time will be different. Or they smash themselves together with one-night stands while keeping their fingers crossed, hoping that somehow blindly following their nature is the path to happiness.

In times like these, meditation is critical because it returns us to first principles. Instead of waking up one day, proclaiming to the world, "I want to get married" or "I want a girlfriend," you say, "I want love" or "I don't want to be alone." You cut through the institutional prescription and get back to basic need fulfillment.

Times like these favor the independent thinker, so long as they are also emotionally intelligent, or barring that, have tools like meditation. Sure it takes them longer to get what they want—because essentially the indie has to re-invent a new compromise between the sexes—they'll ultimately be happier living from their prime directives.

Times before or after this, though, when social structures were or will be in place, reward the conformist. Perhaps before 1950, it paid to be a "good son" or "good daughter." To be a rebellious free-thinker was to resign yourself to wandering the lands, searching in vain for someone who fits your particular needs just right.

We consider social media a waste of time, yet it's family and relationships that have the biggest impact on our lives

Some people value career over family, and yet family is a much higher stakes game. Some people have no siblings, tons of siblings, bad siblings, good siblings, distant parents, or engaged parents. Some are in broken homes, in bad cities, with bad schools. And some are in the opposite.

Relatively speaking, a job is downright straightforward. For most of us, the workplace is where we will spend most of our waking hours. And yet it has the least amount of real risk. Every sex act can change your life. Every family meeting could make or break the plotline of the characters that matter most to you. By comparison, nearly every day at the job is roughly the same.

It's easy to deride someone who "wastes" all their time on social media doting on "boys" or "girls," or in discussing the comings and goings of their relationships. Perhaps we think it's a waste because we have much less control over the outcome of those games. But it's still the bigger game.

Women don't dress for men because to calculate how fashion choices affect reproductive chances would boggle the mind

When you ask women, "Why do you dress so well? Is it to impress guys?" they will most likely reply with a resounding, "No, I dress for myself." Technically this is true because when someone picks through their wardrobe, they are rarely visualizing some stranger of the opposite sex viewing them. Instead, they hold a mental image of themselves in the outfit and appraise their beauty in the same way that they would appraise a painting or a statue. So, in that sense, they are dressing for themselves. But dressing well garners more attention, raises social standing, and only "feels good" because it confers benefits in the form of increased likelihood of fortuitous connections.

But it's better that there's a disconnect between rhetoric and reality. Because to consider every encounter with a stranger as an opportunity to make a good impression so as to maximize one's social gain from that individual would boggle the mind. True, every connection you'll ever make starts with a stranger, but socializing is more of a numbers game. In the long-run, with enough iterations, dressing well will raise your social standing enough in some stranger's eye to start a conversation that could eventually lead to finding the love of your life. In other words, dressing well is an off-goal target. The real goal is to build good relationships, but instead, you focus on the side goal of sartorial excellence.