DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: Growing up, I’ve had a leftward political migration. Where as I was a run of the mill, centre-right type with a very poor grasp of politics and the history that goes into it, I’ve migrated more and more towards what might be called the left, as broad and useless as that term is. This is something which is quite rare in guy with my background which is a middle class, upper caste hetero guy who grew up in India during the early 2000s. I went from thinking Nazis were these cool looking villains and having Nazi propaganda poster as my Facebook picture to actually understanding the depth of their barbarity and desperately trying to scrub that from my page. I went from thinking that while feminism was necessary in the past but is now out to destroy video games to realizing that I mostly agree with feminists. I went from being uber-religious to being an atheist. From thinking that free markets solve everything to realizing that the genuine pitfalls of capitalism and a need for social democracy. This will all get important in a bit.
Part of that was the fact that when I was younger (18ish) I was drawn into PUA stuff, which I admittedly just skimmed through instead of reading it thoroughly. But the fact is if you’re repeatedly exposed to something and you don’t make an effort to pushback against that from a skeptical viewpoint, it seeps into your worldview. This all kept building up and as I was conditioned by various experience, I was turning into this “Nice Guy” stereotype, something I was driven away from by reading things like Heartless Bitches International (Which I think should be required reading for anybody complaining about being Friend-Zoned) and books like No More Mr. Nice Guy (which, admittedly, I still haven’t completed, in that I’ve read the book but not followed along with the exercises in it).
But somehow I still was being sucked deeper and deeper into the orbit around The Red Pill, and while I never visited those subreddits I still, on an honest reflection, found that my views and theirs kinda overlap. I’m nowhere near as misogynistic as them, mind you. It’s that I find myself reading some blogpost from people like Rollo Tomassi and thinking with something quite resembling a deep conviction that women can never love men, not really. That they are all really hypergamous, and any pleasantness on their side is just a facade, a way to get stuff done. This put me in a really dark place in 2017 and was exacerbating the anxiety and depression I already deal with. I thought, when the world’s so bad for those with girlfriends, what’s the chances of a 21 year old fat virgin who does not match the ideals of hegemonic masculinity that are prevalent in my culture.
Thankfully, I found many resources to get through that helped me through that time, I was talked down from that by an uncle who was a player in his 20s, but is single now (in his 30s). I found the ExRedPill subreddit that was massive help, and through them I found things like the works of bell hooks, Mark Manson and you.
And even though I have largely overcome the bad part, I think, I still have this bubbling feelings of anxiety from the residual attitude I have. I still feel hopeless and despondent when I read so many studies about things like “Bad Boy” allure or ones how females are more likely to rate High-T indicators showing males as more attractive while they are ovulating and Lower-T indicators showing males while they are not. I admit, I’m not that well-versed on how to distinguish between a good and a bad study. However, from one statistic class I took I know that bigger the sample size the more confidence one can have on extrapolating it on the general populace. I am also skeptical of studies that seems completely trusting of assumptions baked into their methodologies and aren’t cross cultural.
I’m sure that there is a lot of confirmation bias involved in this. But I don’t know how to get out of this rut in my brain. For all that I have read on gender and socialization, I can’t get behind the outright denial of evo-psych I see so prevalent on the left, even while granting that 90-95% of “research” that comes under the banner of evo-psych are complete bunk. I can’t agree with the assertion that all the differences we see are socially constructed given that there is a ton of research showing how sex differences emerge by a very early age when not a lot of socialization has taken place, but at the same time when someone says something like “It’s all biology” and “There are only two genders”, I can only think of how unbelievably naive they are on this topic. But all of this is besides the point.
The thing is I have better things to focus on than this. In 2017, I put no effort into campus placements because I was struggling with this, and the anxiety it built up. Similarly now, from time to time, I become embroiled in this, fall down the rabbit hole and don’t focus on things that are more urgent, more important, like that fact that I don’t have a job still and am dependent on my parents. The fact that I’m not working hard enough towards my portfolio. The fact that all the friends I had in college are in different cities, the nearest one being a 2 hr metro ride away, and most of which were toxic and performance-based anyway, where only 2-3 of them I can say had any mutual ‘philia’ and I’m not doing anything that would change that.
How can I get past these attitudes so that they no longer cripple me on my path towards self improvement?
Choking on The Red Pill
DEAR CHOKING ON THE RED PILL: Congratulations on pulling away from all the misogynistic crap you’ve been feeding yourself, CTRP; recognizing just how damaging those beliefs and world-views are is an important part of starting to move away from them. Of course, part of what can be difficult in shedding old beliefs is how often they so often play to the part of our selves that want to believe the worst possible outcomes. One of the unfortunate quirks of the human experience is that we have an inherent negativity bias. Our negative thoughts and beliefs have more emotional weight and credence than positive ones; it takes 5 positive experiences to outweigh the effect of one negative one. This is why, for example, it’s easy to dismiss or forget compliments and get so hung up on a single criticism.
It’s also why communities like The Red Pill can be so inviting. Part of what makes things like the pick-up artist community or The Red Pill so appealing to guys is how it plays into the idea that you’re somehow being cheated or screwed over despite being superior. Women are all shallow and obsessed with looks and status, despite having no “value” of their own outside of looks and youth, men who don’t have X qualities have no chance because of a quirk of genetics, so forth and so on. They prey on your frustration and your anger, giving you explanations for your situation that sound plausible but fall apart if you so much as look at them sideways. But because they line up with what you already believe – that you’re plain out of luck, because REASONS – you want to believe them. It stokes your anger at being excluded while also reminding you that your being excluded isn’t fair because you’re better. And now that you see the “real” world – taken the “red pill” – you’re inherently better than those other fools who still think that they have a chance with women by playing into their hands.
Call it the Fight Club effect – Tyler Durden takes men who are disillusioned because the rewards they were promised for being men were never going to be delivered and then claims to have an alternate solution that’s really just “do the same thing as before only HARDER.” So it is with groups like The Red Pill; you may not measure up to the hegemonic ideas of what a man is “supposed” to be, but if you double down on the system that excludes you, maybe now you’ll finally be rewarded.
Part of why it gets so hard to shake these beliefs is because they become part of your identity. We have psychological defense mechanisms that protect our identity, no matter what… even when there are aspects to ourselves that are hurting us. Even when you know, intellectually, that you’re wrong about something, the fact that it challenges your sense of self makes you double-down. And when you add in quirks like confirmation bias… well, it’s not hard to see why some ideas are hard to shake, even when we know they’re wrong. It’s very easy to find studies that reinforce what you already believe, despite the fact that they’re often badly designed or don’t actually prove what people think they prove. Studies surrounding “bad boys” for example, tend to ignore the fact that part of the appeal is that men who rank higher in the Dark Triad tend to put more effort into their appearance. Other times it’s simply the fact that so-called bad boys are more confident or assertive and actually ask women out. It’s not some innate preference women have to being treated like crap, it’s that douchebags tend to be more proactive.
But that’s not as sexy as “proving” that all you need to get laid is a sneer and a leather jacket.
Like you said: you know how much evo-psych is BS… but it “feels” correct to you because it lines up with what you think is true.
The key to undoing these beliefs isn’t to go on a quest for evidence – that can often trigger the backfire effect. Instead, it’s to start to actually collect actual experience. It’s a lot harder to believe All Women Are Like That, for example, when you start to have real, platonic friendships with women and get to know them as people. You can go around and see the millions of people who don’t follow The Red Pill bullshit and yet somehow have managed to find happy, successful relationships with loving partners. When you make friends with people – actual, emotionally intimate friendships, not just shallow and performative ones – you start to realize just how much crap you’ve been fed and what you’ve been missing all this time.
So here’s what I suggest you do: quit scouring studies, quit falling down algorithmically distorted rabbit-holes and just work on living an amazing life. Put your focus on your education, a job and building a healthy social circle. This will help start to ease that sense of “not measuring up”, that belief that you’re somehow deficient that makes you vulnerable to cons and grifters like the ones you’re trying to get away from. You fill that hole in your life on your own – with friends, with achievements and with passion – and watch how easy it becomes to leave that old part of you behind.
The more you’re living that awesome life, the more you’ll find that happiness, satisfaction and, yes, love, will come to you. As you do, you’ll find those old beliefs start fading away.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: Is it a bad idea to reach out to or ask out a girl you found on a dating app through some other online means?
I recently bit the bullet and started trying dating apps for the first time. I was pretty skeptical after the first few weeks of using it, but eventually, I found several women where my first reaction was honestly “WOW. YOU ARE GORGEOUS AND OUTSTANDING.” I had to meet them when I got back home.
In retrospect, I probably should have just started talking to them, But here’s the problem: at the time, I was about to spend over a month out in the field with my Army unit, then go overseas for over two weeks (read: places without good cell phone reception, or at least where I wouldn’t be able to really talk to, let alone meet them in the town where we live). I decided to just quit the app, in hopes that the algorithm would repopulate them later.
Unfortunately, Hinge DIDNT. I even wrote to Hinge tech support and asked them to help a brother out, but they never wrote back. The bastards.
These were honestly outstanding people. My question is, what if I just found them on Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn/whatever and started talking to them? Do you think that would be BOLD and attractive or would that be stalkerish and weird? And if it really could go either way, do I even have much to lose if I reach out to them? You think there would be negative consequences?
We Found Love in a Tactical Field Exercise
DEAR WE FOUND LOVE IN A TACTICAL FIELD EXERCISE: In a word: no.
In fact, not just no but HELL NO.
Look at it this way: the fact that I may go to a masseuse for some deep-tissue work on my back doesn’t mean I’m down for some rando coming up and rubbing my shoulders in the grocery store. People who sign up for dating apps are doing so specifically to meet people on that app. Getting an account on Hinge, Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, Match or whatever doesn’t mean that they’re open to being approached on all of their social media. In fact, many women have had dudes try to connect with them on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere after having turned those dudes down on dating apps.
That ain’t bold, it ain’t romantic and it ain’t welcome. It’s creepy, it’s stalker-y and it’s as big a glaring sign that you decided to ignore boundaries because hey, you think she’s hot.
It’s a shame that you missed out on the chance to talk to these incredible women… but that was a choice you made. Would it have worked out, considering that you were about to be deployed? No way of knowing. But you decided to not say anything and so the window closed. Hinge – or any other app for that matter – isn’t in the business of connecting you with specific people. If they no longer show up in your feed, well, tough luck dude. You shouldn’t have thrown away your shot.
Now the only thing to do is accept this as a learning experience and go find the amazing women who ARE still around. And this time, actually message them, instead of hoping they’ll still be around later on.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)