True Lies In The Mating Dance

Obsidian comments on deceit in game, and womens’ concern with such-

Modern courtship involves a lot of- not exactly lying, but not letting it all hang out either. If you’re a carpenter, and you want to tell women you’re a framing contractor and you’ve been so slammed with work lately you haven’t had any time to go out on your new 40 foot boat, well I’m not going to tell you it’s wrong. But that’s not what I’m talking about. Allow me to digress a bit and explain how courtship has evolved.

In the old days- I’m talking farming and small village days, not much more than 100 years ago for many of our ancestors- marriage courtship was a pretty open process. You knew everyone you were likely to get married to, and had your whole life. A woman knew how big your farm was, how many cows you owned, whether you were a drunk, whether your father had been a drunk and beat his wife, who if anybody you owed money to, well, you get the idea. If you were from the next village over a woman could get all this information in a few days.

All the face-to-face interaction required to complete the relationship was conducted in public, at dances and community festivals, and by home visits with the parents present. The couple wouldn’t be alone together until after the wedding.

Now, there was another kind of courtship going on at the same time, that for illicit relationships- which then of course would be anything outside of marriage. My grandmother recorded an oral history of her life, and recalls when she was young how some girl got knocked up by an old farmer- “People were the same then as they are now!” she said- and indeed they are.

In this type of courtship, there was little if any transparency, little if anything was said directly, and the outcome was a matter of chance and doubt. A milkmaid might get propositioned by a prosperous farmer’s son- she might spurn him, or not, might get fired in revenge, or not, might get pregnant, or not, and pregnant or not might or might not turn the relationship into being a prosperous farmer’s wife, which would be the Cinderella outcome, or be branded a slut and shunned for the rest of her life, which would be the nightmare outcome.

You can imagine many other similar scenarios involving the characters you’d find in such a social environment. The same thing of course went on more easily in a big city, such as Paris- Honore de Balzac wrote a book called “The Physiology of Marriage”, which is essentially how to keep your wife from cheating on you. Balzac says if you’re some lumpy bald dude who has acquired a young, beautiful wife by virtue of your money and social standing you’d better get some game on to keep her from getting boinked by some musketeer or other dashing rascal.

This is pretty risky for the woman, isn’t it? The upside is excitement, fun, and possibly a better husband than could be obtained through socially accepted means. The downside though is being what is now called a “single mother”, and then would have been called  a slut, whore, home wrecker, tramp, back when those words had the full sting of social censure. Such a woman would be finished for life, quite likely being forced into prostitution. Why would any sane woman take such a risk?

For men, personal relationships are something that sustain you as you go through the adventures of life. While you’re out slaying dragons, you need a couple of good, reliable friends, and between dragon-slaying trips you need a dependable wife to feed you, wash and mend your clothes, and relieve you of some sperm. For women, interpersonal relationships are the adventures of life. For them, marrying, or at least having sex with, the dragon slayer is the equivalent of slaying the dragon.

OK- we have two models of courtship, marriage and illicit, one involving complete transparency of motives, qualifications, and outcomes, and one involving lies, deceit, hidden motives, and phony posturing. Which does modern courtship more closely resemble? Pretty clearly, the second. You have not known the person your whole life, you do not know very much about them at all, not their true social status, employment status, financial status, their personal history, their character, their true motives and goals.

For a guy? Not that much of a problem. Your main concern is does she have herpes? AIDS is an extremely unlikely prospect unless she shoots drugs, and other things involve a trip to the doctor, possibly with a stern lecture about using condoms. For a woman? Hell it may as well be a Raymond Chandler novel. She must find all kinds of things out about you, holding back enough to keep herself safe, but not so much as to jeopardize the relationship, at least until she makes a decision on it.

Again, let me emphasize, no one’s status in modern society is obvious. In the old days the Choadley family had a manor house, overlooking the estate they owned, so at a glance anybody from the village idiot on up knew exactly who they were and how much money they had. If you’re Mr. Choadley, or Mr. Choadley’s oldest son, no game is required. Second son? Got to have game. Today, if you own a hundred million dollars worth of stock, how does anybody know that? By what you wear? Anybody can buy passably expensive clothes, and as I have mentioned many rich guys dress terribly. By your car? Don’t buy, lease! The only exception I can think of to this is Donald Trump- he puts his name on every damn thing he owns, I suppose for just this reason.

It gets more complicated still. The lovely young Parisian girl, daughter of a lawyer, has successfully identified a man with great wealth in stock, and married him. She now has the big house, the servants, the fine silk dresses, the lavish parties every young girl dreams of. But the guy’s pretty boring, always working and not much in the sack. So her eye wanders, and the dashing young musketeer, who has no money and little social status but lots of game, gets her attention.

So not only is status ambiguous, there are two different kinds of status, both desirable to have, the second more than the first for romantic and sexual purposes. Roissy addresses this contradiction-

Actually there are three things here- 1) social and economic status, 2) kindness, loyalty, fidelity, and love, and 3) sexual charisma. #2 and #3 are the conflict Roissy is talking about. A guy with lots of #3 is not much inclined, many times, to provide #2.

Time for a bit of review. Status in the modern urban world is ambiguous and to a certain extent simply subjective. Since it is ambiguous it is to your advantage to project the highest level you plausibly can. This is not lying, this is simply putting the best possible face on things. And even if the woman you’re projecting to knows it, it still works, because she respects the fact that you are trying to project the best possible status! That leads into the second part, the simply subjective nature of status. A self-assured software engineer has higher status than a timid software engineer, simply by virtue of being self-assured, because our society arbitrarily assigns higher social status to the self-assured. It’s ridiculous, but that is the way it is.

Since I’m writing about game I’m practically obligated to make a detour into sociobiology. Every animal makes itself look big when it needs to. A cobra has a hood; a male lion has a mane, and chimps make the hair on their shoulders stand up. Part of the game is making yourself look as big as possible, portraying everything about yourself in the most flattering light, and avoiding making known things about yourself that aren’t flattering. Is this lying? It’s marketing, and whether that is lying is a philosophical matter. Ads for consumer products- cars, soda, detergent, whatever- always show attractive people being made happy by their use, the implication being you will be attractive and made happy by buying the stuff. That’s BS, but people go for it everyday.


4 Responses to True Lies In The Mating Dance

  1. Niko says:

    Women requiring men to validate themselves and they’re considered virtuous. Men do the same thing and its deceit.

    Me thinks its jealousy over the power shift.

  2. Susan Walsh says:

    Great post here. Well written and lots to think about. The historical perspective is very useful,

  3. theobsidianfiles says:

    Hey OmegaMan,
    Thanks for the shoutout! And I agree, very well written and well put.

    The Obsidian

  4. […] Omega Man – “Forget About Women“, “True Lies in the Mating Dance” […]

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