It’s amazing the sheer amount of guys I know or have known who I’d classify as being AFCs. I’d like to say that pretty much every guy I’ve known has been an AFC with a handful of notable exceptions. Some grew out of it with experience, others were partially Game-aware or simply naturals who backslid and devolved into AFCs, and still others have been “lifers”; men who still don’t get it into their old age.
I was having a discussion about the legion of AFCs that most women have to sift through with my assistant where I work. She’s an attractive (HB7.5-8) young woman of 26 who’s been dealing with an AFC long distance and non-exclusively for well over a year now. Her frustration comes from the multitudes of Betas she meets in her dating life – in fact after working with me for over 2 years she instantly identifies guys as AFCs. She’s familiar with the mindset now; the lack of decisiveness, the neediness, the wish-washy yet possessiveness, and all the other Qualities of the AFC. All of this got me to thinking about the AFCs I know or have known and their individual circumstances.
Dave L. is perhaps the most pitiable of AFCs I’ve known. His story, as he tells it, began with his very overbearing and domineering mother. He came from a very strict Baptist family and so dealt with a very guilt-conscious mother for the better part of his life. Interestingly he transitioned from an authoritarian mother to an authoritarian wife. He’d only ever slept with one woman, Sue, whom he met in the military in his 20s. She was a sexually abused (by her uncle) single mother of 2 delinquent sons who saw in Dave L. what she never did in the other men in her life – a guy she COULD control. They’ve been married over 25 years now and had a daughter. In this time he has been little more than a slave to her. Their history is one of a constant brow-beating by her as he perpetually tries to find ways pacify her in the exact way he tried to pacify his mother’s insecurities. Every decision he’s ever made has been to appease her and has never been “good enough”.
When I met Dave L. his daughter had learned from her mother how to control him just as strictly. It was as if she had been passed his leash so she too could learn how to discipline him, and to keep him in check. When we first met I used to butt heads with both his daughter and his wife (and unwittingly so) because I would openly challenge their authority over him by questioning his autonomy as a man. They of course instantly jumped to his defense and maintained he was a “real man” and I would be too if only I would defer to women’s authority.
For a time Ron was one of my best friends and not a guy you’d really want to arouse to anger. He had my back in a lot of bad situation and I was his confidant and counselor for many years. But for as in control and assertive as he could be, Ron was an AFC. He had the Bad Boy posture that women loved, but he defeated himself with his soulmate-ONEitis mythology. He married Kris at 19. They met in the Navy, and he got her pregnant fairly early which prompted the marriage. Kris was beautiful and one of 3 women Ron had ever been with. He “did the right thing” and married her, and they stayed married, having 2 more children throughout their 20′s. Gradually, Kris left Ron to himself and the kids more and more as she felt she’d missed out on her 20′s and spent more time with her single girlfriends in the evenings. She began to resent Ron, who by now had let his physique go while she stayed in good shape. Ron didn’t see the signs, because he’d been progressively pushed into a position of having to qualify to his wife and internalized the thinking that it was “the right thing for a man to do.”
Ultimately at 29, Kris cheated on him. I was on the other end of the phone with him after he’d been searching all night through the town in which they lived for her car – with their children in the back of their mini-van. As melodramatic as all this sounds, he’d tracked her down to a motel and had been waiting in the parking lot since 4am for her to come out so he could kill her. I managed to talk him out of that, and he tried to “make it work” after the incident for another 4 years, but this was really last stop before toll. At present, she’s planning on marrying another lover she had and their family/children is in shambles.
While Ron wasn’t the cause of this, his AFC responses, progressive beta-ness, rationales and inaction only contributed to his present condition.
Dave B is a textbook example of insanity – repeating the same mistake over and over. His first wife was his ONE, so was the second, so was the GF between wife 2 and 3 and so was the third. With wife #1 he had two daughters. After their divorce she gained custody of them and was awarded spousal and child support. Wife #2, another daughter, but only after they’d divorced once, made up, had the ubiquitous make-up sex and she got pregnant “by accident”, then they divorced for good. She too was awarded spousal support and child support for a daughter he never sees. After #2 Dave “met the ONE” again and moved her and her son and daughter from 2 different fathers into his home. After the teenage son was picked up for burglary of some neighborhood homes he got into a verbal argument with the GF. Dave B made the mistake of merely snatching the keys to the car, the car he’d given her, away from her hands. That was enough to have him restrained from entering the home he was paying for, driving the car he was paying for, and Dave B went to live with mom & dad for a spell until that was sorted out. Now Dave B is on wife #3; another single mother of 2 daughters. In the meantime wife #1 self- destructed and he was order by the court to assume custody of his first 2 daughters (which is what he wanted anyway) after they’d been abused by their stepfather and wife #1 turned up to be a meth addict. Turns out all that money he’d been paying for years went to feed her habit and the habit of the abusive step-father.
Shawn is a guy I know who basically ONEitised on EVERY girl who EVER dated him. He’d been married for about 2.5 years to a fairly religious girl who told him she “wanted to be a pastor’s wife” only to have her eventually cheat on him with a guy who was the Bad Boy and ended up in Las Vegas. Shawn went on to get a master’s in education, and moved to a string of the “coulda been” girlfriends, who’d date him for about 2-3 weeks, figure out his Disneyesque views of love, LTRs and men & women in general. He was a very good songwriter until he found himself in one of these “coulda been” ONEitis spells. Then every song was about the girl he thought was his “gift from above” and he proceeded to smoother her in his clingy-ness and idealize her on a pedestal.
He went through about 3 or 4 of these while I knew him until he met his 2nd wife. Mary was a single mother of one son and technically his step-cousin (his step-fatehr’s, brother’s daughter). She’d “accidentally” gotten pregnant by a black guy on the college basketball team and according to her very strict (and notably racist) father had disgraced the family, but they being religious, she had the baby and began her life as a single mom. Shawn adopted the Cap’n-save-a-ho persona and started this whirl wind ONEitis crusade to “do the right thing” and not only marry her, but legally adopt her son. Mary of course was happy to have the help, but saw Shawn for what he is; desperate and a romantically idealistic AFC. Mary was actually a pretty good friend of Mrs. Tomassi for a time and she’d confide in her that she wished he had the ambition and drive that I had. The short version was that she wanted a Man she could respect – similar to her authoritative father – and while Shawn was welcome help, she just wasn’t hot for him. Now Shawn is legally bound to her and the child he never fathered and has little respect for him. After 8 years of marriage they still haven’t had the child(ren) that Shawn wants.
Recounting the stories of AFCs we’ve known is educational in that it illustrates the commonalities of conditions these guys (sometimes ourselves included) face and the mindset that accompanies them. It’s very easy to go all self-help-motivational on people and tell them what they ought to do and ought to believe about themselves, but stories like this make the conditions real for us. I’d encourage commenters to relate the stories of some of the AFCs they’ve known in the comment thread.
I wont argue the merits of bolstering your self-esteem and taking action to make a positive improvement in yourself toward becoming a capital ‘M’ Man. There are hundreds of blog threads in the community that address this, but recounting the wreckage of lives that AFCism (for lack of a better term) puts the reasons why a guy needs to “improve” in sharp perspective. It’s like seeing the emaciated starving children in 3rd world countries on Unicef commercials as a prompt to do something.
I didn’t start this post as a warning sign for AFCs, nor did I start it point out what not to do. It’s an illustration of the sheer scope of the problem and the very real impact it has not just on men’s lives, but their families, the women they paired off with, their children, their friends, etc. That might seem negative, but it’s reality. I could’ve just as well posted about PUAs I’ve known (which would’ve been a lot shorter), or glossed my own marriage in an effort to point AFCs in the right direction, but powder-puff enthusiasm tends to only come off as conceit. And in the end, the AFC still thinks his best course to a fulfilled LTR/marriage is doing exactly what he is already doing – only more so. The more you suffer the more it shows you really care, right?