Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Human Energy Is Conserved

Every person has a limited amount of time and energy, as well as the ability to choose how to spend it. At every moment of our conscious lives, we are making decisions about how to invest our time and effort - how to spend our "human energy." We do this either explicitly, by consciously making a decision to change the course of our action, or else implicitly, by not choosing to change the course of our action. For example, right now I can either choose to continue typing this post, or decide that it is not worth my time and instead go read a book or work out. Likewise, I can choose at anytime (explicitly) to quit my job and move to a new city, or else (implicitly, i.e. by not making that choice), to continue in my current employment and residence. Obviously there are influences swaying our decisions, making one path simpler or another more difficult; but in light of those factors, the decision is always ours to make.

While it is certainly possible to spend your time and effort poorly, or inefficiently, let's ignore that possibility for a moment and first consider two people - two girls - that both spend their time and effort well, but differently. Girl A learns at an early age that her beauty and presentation matter, and out of the 60 hours a week she has free from school and sleep, puts ten hours into improving her look, while the rest goes to other typical activities. Girl B, on the other hand, is taught at an early age that her intelligence and education matter. She takes this to heart, and out of the same 60 hours a week, spends ten on homework and reading (over and above what Girl A and other typical students spend on homework and reading). The rest she puts towards other activities just like Girl A. So we have two girls, the same in all respects, except in their decision about how to spend those ten hours each week. Assume also that they are about the same in their natural intelligence and appearance.

You can be sure that by the time the girls reach the age of 18, Girl A will be getting a lot more attention from guys, while Girl B will be a lot smarter. You can also be sure that Girl B will probably be a failure with men, while Girl A will probably be stupid. Now, contrast them both with Girl C, who (ceteris paribus) spends those ten hours being lazy. I don't mean that she literally sits down and does nothing for ten hours a week, but those hours are distributed among the same daily tasks that the other girls do, because Girl C chooses to do them slowly, or she has to repeat them because she does them poorly. You can be almost sure that when she turns 18 she will be both a failure with men and stupid.

While I am sure you have your opinion about who is making the "right choice," that opinion is mostly immaterial to the point I am trying to make, which is that every person who spends their time efficiently has something to show for it. This is true in general - not just for women, and not just in terms of beauty and intelligence. For example, Guy A decided to spend his time practicing golf and is now semi-pro, while Guy B fostered his musical talent and started a successful band - or even Guy C, who has spent all of his free time just hanging out with his friends. While he doesn't have a talent in the traditional sense to show for it, he has strong friendships and will have good memories.

I think all of us recognize this phenomenon to one extent or another, intuitively. It was confirmed in my mind recently while driving past a small church in a tiny Italian village with my coworker. Sitting on a bench in front of the old church wall were several old men, in sweaters, caps and tweed jackets, just hanging out and talking among themselves. When we drove back past that same church a few hours later on our return trip, the same men were sitting there as if only a few minutes had passed. And from the nonchalance of their collective demeanor, it was clear that this was a typical occurrence, probably even something they did daily. I snapped this photo as we passed the second time:


The scene made me think that it is a shame that men in America don't do the same thing. It is incredibly rare to see old men with friendships so strong that they look forward to simply sitting together in the afternoons, talking and watching the world go by. If we, as a culture, set aside the time to do that each day, think how much stronger our social lives would be.

But then I immediately wondered "why don't we do that?" The answer was obvious: we don't do that because we don't have the time for it. That is, we don't choose to make the time for it. We spend it instead on enterprise or personal fitness. We work longer hours, get more accomplished, get to the gym and are probably in better shape. The Italians (and I don't think this is restricted to men) might have stronger relationships, but look at their economy - it is a mess; and it is a mess because they've chosen to sacrifice the hours that could be spent on industry or commerce on sitting outside the church each afternoon, or on longer (arguably better) meals, or (clearly better) fashion.

Again, my point is not to praise or criticize the Italians, or the Americans. The point is that different investments of human energy produce different results. Like all forms of energy, human energy is conserved. As long as it is spent efficiently, you will have something to show for it, even if what you have to show is not the most obvious thing in the world. The Italians have strong social fabric, great food and beautiful people; we as Americans have a strong economy and great achievements in sports and technology. Guy A is winning a big golf tournament this weekend, Guy B is about to release his first record and Guy C will have a huge attendance at his funeral and an amazing photo album. Each person has something different to show for their efforts.

So back to Girl A and Girl B. I suspect many of the girls reading this blog are closer to Girl B than A, which (partially) explains the emphasis I've placed on appearance in some posts. Your intelligence does not mean you are "deeper" or "better" than Girl A. Nor is Girl A better than you because she is hotter, or has perfect hair, or a great figure. It just means that while you were hitting the books, she was hitting the gym. In fact, the best investment of time and energy for a woman is one that cultivates intelligence and appearance, among a number of other life skills. If you actually are Girl B then you better get to the gym and the mall immediately and learn what "fit" means (for your clothes and your body). And if you actually are Girl A, you better spend some time at the library, learn how to stop saying "like" all the time and start thinking before you speak - and and get curious about life. (If you are Girl C, just give up, because you... oh, never mind, you already have.)

But perhaps more importantly, and at the risk of sounding really gay, the implication is that everyone has something to offer. As long as you haven't been sitting on your ass or living a repetitious life, or keeping yourself in a vacuum, your time and effort have yielded some form of knowledge, personality, or skills that are attractive to at least some men. I am not saying that some investments aren't more likely to score you a higher percentage of guys than others; but whatever your choices have been in life, you have something to show for it if you haven't been lazy. Learn how to make that "something" more evident to the men that will value it, or else convert it into something that the men you want will value. Then re-focus your energy on the areas of your life you've neglected while you've been spending so much of it elsewhere.

28 comments:

  1. Great post, thank you.

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  2. Nice, just edit the part in which you advise girl's A and B to improve their presentations, you changed the Girls, girl A is the one to study more and B is the one to improve her appearance.

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  3. you flip flopped Girl A and Girl B at the end.

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  4. This Girl B thinks you may have mixed up your 'A's and 'B's in the second from last paragraph.

    Otherwise, good stuff.

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  5. This is a fantastic post. I should quote it or something. ;)

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  6. Just wondering... have you met any girl who's actually beaten the zero-sum game and augmented her beauty without that investment taking away robustness from her intellectual or social life? What is a balanced girl like who hasn't fallen into "Girl C"-type mediocrity? Although more men are approaching me in college now, I had an easier time sealing a commitment before in spite of greater incidents of people openly calling me ugly. This maintenance is starting to get really stressful as I started to notice that unlike women, the aspects that have more influence on a man's attractiveness have greater overlap with his hobbies accomplishments. What does "enough" look like?

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  7. "I had an easier time sealing a commitment before in spite of greater incidents of people openly calling me ugly."

    This is because you are in college, where men can fuck lots of girls without giving them any committment. Your difficulty getting a commitment is because you are competing with whores, not because your personality has suffered due to an increased investement in your appearance.

    "This maintenance is starting to get really stressful."

    What do you mean by stressful? I could understand if you said tiring, or difficult, but stressful?

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  8. you lost your girls when you said ceteris paribus ;)

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    1. No, I'm a regular reader and I can speak latin :).. oh and I'm 15 :D

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    2. I happen to have beaten the zero sum game. I manage to be attractive, intelligent and well dressed. I still remember what I learned in microeconomics.

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  9. I love your blog. Thank you for your fantastic advice. Some comments I read on here are extremely insightful as well. I was wondering, do you know your MBTI type?

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    1. I took a test recently but I forget what the results were. I think I was E??J, but none of the doichotomies were strong one way or the other.

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    2. You are either an ESFJ or an ESTJ, I'm guessing probably ESFJ but I could be wrong. If that is your type, then your socionic dual (the type you are most compatible with for long term relationships) will be an INTJ, a stereotypical 'scientist' personality type. If you are an ESTJ, then your socionic dual will be an INFJ, a stereotypical 'empath' personality type. Socionics is excellent at predicting the general characteristics of the people who you can get along best with in the long run and which types of people are most psychologically attractive to you.

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    3. Someone post a link to a good test and I'll take it (assuming it isn't TOO long)

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    4. This one is very brief. It comes from socionics, not from the MBTI, but the two systems are talking about the same personality types:

      http://rickdelong.com/socionics/tests/1/0.htm

      I hesitate, because I myself went for a long time thinking I was one particular type after taking the MBTI test, and I no longer think I was typed correctly by the MBTI. People can sometimes be mistyped by taking a test. I only changed my mind after doing more research into socionics instead of the MBTI, and I got a different perspective on it.

      And I myself am notorious for being wildly wrong when I try to guess people's types without a test.

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    5. I took it and got LSI but I am very skeptical of the result. It was based on only three questions, all of which I didn't feel strongly about answering one way or the other.

      If anyone else has another link I'd be willing to take it.

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    6. Andrew-where do you live? If you're ever in the DC area, I'd like to buy you a drink. I LOVE your blog.

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    7. See the links posted in the blog below for several online tests.

      http://www.hookingupsmart.com/2012/04/06/relationshipstrategies/hey-baby-i-bet-youre-an-isfj/

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    8. Andrew, what a great and noble mind you have. Perceptive, articulate, discerning. Your altruism and compassion towards others render me speechless. Only someone who truly loves, values and respects women could do the kind of work that you do. Thank you for your hard-work, spirit of initiative, dedication, perseverance, your original, innovative and sophisticated thinking.
      You really empower women and girls, when you tell it like it is. I like your blunt, honest, no-bullshit style of writing because it is true to your masculine nature.
      The world is a better place thanks to people like you. Thanks for acting like an insightful, loving brother and friend to us all.
      To put it simply, you rock! You have improved my life tremendously. I am happily dating at the moment and I credit much of my success to you!
      Much love,
      Caroline

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  10. Andrew, great blog. As a guy, i think you got it right. Now, my question is, is there another blog out there by a Hot Chick who is willing to explain what the heck is going on in a young woman's mind? For example what is she thinking, how is she going to decide when she has multiple offers at once? What is her decision process? My hunch is that women don't use the rational game theory or auction approach you describe, but rather give in to the most persistent & predominant guy. To put it another way, chicks don't play chess. What do you think?

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    1. "how is she going to decide when she has multiple offers at once?"

      Depends on the age of the woman. Generally, early twenties she is going to select the men who will enhance her image or the men who are least likely to commit in an attempt to validate their attractiveness and worth. In the late twenties she will maybe (being the operative word) try to avoid the same men she tried to pin down in her early twenties in favor of more serious, stable types. I am in my late twenties and when I am selecting a guy I tend to avoid men that I know play around, men that come on strong too fast, men who haven't got their shit together and men who "drop the ball" too early by exhibiting signs of disinterest. If there are a few men that I like I may date them all (without sleeping with them of course)until I find on that I "click" with in particular.

      I think that some women use what you might call "game" in a sense that we are fed advice through popular media of what to do and what not to do but we do not always know how to execute these strategies effectively or perhaps we are simply misguided.

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    2. Read: "The Way of The Superior Man" and "The Game"

      "The Game" won't unlock the secrets of the female mindset, and it has its flaws; but it will give you some practical advice and means of getting past the difficulties of approaching women.

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    3. Thank you both! Let me add that I'm not looking for pickup-artist tips; i've already narrowed it down to one. After reading your blog this wknd, I balled up the courage to propose, so I'm talking about long-term. I proposed we get an apartment and if things go well we get married as soon as she wants. She reminded me of her out-of-town boyfriend of three years, but I told her I want her to leave him for me. So what are my chances? I'm older and I guess the more serious, stable type with his shit together, ahaha. (let's just say I'm not much to look at on the Dance Floor) On a scale, she is Much More attractive than me, so a little outta my league. Her boyfriend has said he wants to marry her too, but she's put him off, saying she's too young to get married yet. She's been faithful to him all along, but things have cooled off. So all this week I've been floating on a cloud, just contemplating the possibility of us.. What's she thinking?

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    4. How long have you been with her and from what culture are you from?

      By the sounds of it, it appears that she is emotionally invested in this long distance relationship. If she is really young this may be because this was her first relationship and for a woman the first relationship or love is the hardest to let go of irregardless of how they currently feel. Women also look heavily into the time invested with a man and would consider that when attempting to make a decision to leave if things are not going as wanted.

      It's hard to say if she will "leave" this man or not because in a sense she has already left him by having these discussions with you. To be honest, I would allow her a bit of time but if things are not progressing the way that you would like in a chosen allotted period of time I would develop the strong stance and demand that she make a choice. Women are more attracted to men who are confident in their desirability to women and "don't take shit" than a man who is essentially a doormat (no offense). You are a catch too and you need to remind both her and yourself of that.

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  11. Loved this post, especially the "Risk of sounding gay" bit :D

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  12. All your posts are very thought-provoking, but this one is what I would pay to keep if I could keep just one.

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