I’m not exactly sure why, but somehow last week became the unofficial ‘dread’ week. I’ve had so many other irons in the fire both work-wise and blog-wise this month that I find it particularly annoying that my attentions should be distracted by this topic again, but I will admit that the comments about the evils of Men manipulatively employing a sense of dread in their LTRs has given me pause to analyze the dynamic in more detail. So, OK, I’ll bite, what’s all this dread about anyway?
The original huff about dread came in the wake of Roissy’s seminal post about instilling a sense of dread in a woman in order to help maintain a consistent frame control in a relationship. Naturally, women’s unconditioned response to this overt assertion of control was to demonize the whole idea of dread. When you think about it dread, as proposed, is really a sense of conceptualizing the potential outcome of a losing the intimacy of a partner and the resulting fallout (emotional, financial, familial, personal, etc.) from that loss. Such an overt declaration for promoting a sense of dread conjures melodramatic images of fiendish men blackmailing their women into emotional enslavement to their insecure whims.
I think what’s lost amongst all this sensationalism about dread – a very weak term for the concept – is the applicability dread has in a much broader scope (and particularly for women) than the overly dramatic characterization of it when men openly discuss using it themselves.
Faces of Dread
I have a good friend, Jim, who’s just this side of 37. I love the guy, but Jim’s not much to look at. At around 30 he essentially gave up on himself. He got married far too young on the business end of a do-the-right-thing ‘accidental’ pregnancy, and from a personal standpoint that was the end of his window of opportunity to explore any other options he may’ve had. His wife let herself go just after the 2nd pregnancy, turned into a beach ball, and he followed suit. In actuality it wouldn’t take much for him to get back on top of his game, but he has no desire to.
Now, after detailing Jim’s situation you might think he’d be the last candidate to participate in anything resembling a manipulation of dread in a relationship, and you’d be right, but he, and guys like him are often the unwitting participants in their wives’ own dread-games. Although Jim isn’t going to spontaneously attract women with either his looks or due to his complete obliviousness to Game, he is an exceptional provider for his family. He regularly busts his ass as a programmer for a legal agency and is the sole breadwinner of the family – singlehandedly funding his wife’s nursing school. In addition he’s a very attentive father, husband and is somewhat of a handyman around the house. In spite of all this his wife tends to be a bit of a shrew, browbeating him on a regular schedule which has been passed onto the personalities of his teenage daughters who engage in the same heavy handedness their mother does.
Yet for all the passive-aggressive derision, Jim’s wife is easily one of the most possessive women I’ve ever known. He literally lives in a constant state of surveillance as to his whereabouts. She calls to verify he is where he says he is, and continually suspects him of running off to a strip club (which to my knowledge he’s never set foot inside one) or engaging in anyway with another woman. It’s gotten to the point that it’s comical to think that she’d have any worry that he’d be snatched away by a better woman, but there it is, the dreaded competition anxiety prompting unease in an, albeit LSE, woman with no realistic possibility of it ever occurring.
“I can’t compete with that,..”
Some of the most neurotically possessive women I’ve ever known have been the girlfriends and wives of amateur circuit bodybuilders – my brother’s former GFs actually being among them. Most of these girls, even the fitness competitors, had to either be very self-assured or they resorted to controlling tactics and possessiveness due to the constant reminder of how desired their Men were by other women. Even when that was explicitly not the case, the perception of their desirability was enough to bring this out in them. They had the love and desire of very elite Men, but this still wasn’t enough to pacify that innate sense of dread.
Dalrock has blogged ad infinitum about the feminized notion of how a man’s
viewing “using” porn is conflated with adultery. To say nothing about the constant push to pathologize the male condition, this is an easy out for women following the Eat, Pray, Love script wanting to exit a marriage with cash and prizes. However, the fundamental point in that conflation is a woman’s, often overstated, inability to compete with the “porn star ideal of physical perfection and sexual acrobatics that no normal woman could ever be comfortable with.” Considering the sheer variety of men’s sexual appetites this is ludicrous on the surface of it, but it is illustrative of the predominance dread plays in women’s psyches. It doesn’t matter what the particulars of his sexual appetites are, she feels inadequate in that competition and fears a loss of intimacy.
I catch a lot of hostility from the femosphere for even suggesting a Man directly foster competition anxiety in his LTR, but the underlying reason for this venom is a preexisting condition of dread in women that can barely be tolerated when it’s under the surface, much less when it’s exposed. Dread, in this context, is an innate fear of loss of security that intensifies as a woman progresses further beyond the Wall and with her diminishing capacity to reestablish that provisioning security with a new partner. In fact it’s exactly this dread that is the root source of the gynocentric laws that award women cash & prizes in a divorce settlement. So powerful is this fear that legal assurances needed to be instituted to account for a woman’s lessened ability to secure long-term provisioning after a failed marriage, after the Wall, after pregnancies, etc.
Dread, for lack of a better term, is a female condition.
Although I’ve suggested casually returning flirtations with other women as a means to amplifying desire and illustrating social proof, this is hardly the only, or best, means of fostering competition anxiety. Overt flirtations are a blunt means of stoking this anxiety, but often all it takes is a nuanced shift in a predictable routine to trigger that imagination. The idea isn’t to instill terror from fear of loss, but rather to demonstrate higher value; particularly when a woman’s attention is straying into comfortable, routine familiarity and she begins seeking indignation from other sources.
Sometimes all that’s necessary to provoke that imagination is to get to the gym, dress better, get a raise, travel for work, change your routine, adopt a Game mentality, hang out with a new (or old) friend, be cocky & funny with her – risk to offend her sensibilities. Most women believe that their pussies are sufficient to hold their men in thrall for a lifetime, but as a woman’s SMV declines and a Man’s appreciates their confidence in this form of leverage falls off, thus forcing them to adopt new schemas for controlling the fear of loss. When you head off to Las Vegas for that trade show and your wife fucks the ever-lovin’ shit out of you the night before you go, you’re experiencing one of those new schemas. It doesn’t take much, most times the lightest touch will do. Good dread game doesn’t even have to be initiated by you. Often enough, women will do it themselves.
In light of this ambient fear of loss women seek to avoid, one might be tempted to use a more sympathetic approach in order to allay a woman’s fears. This is hardly worth mentioning here since this is generally the tact that most men intuitively use in their LTRs anyway – a constant reassurance of love and devotion. Guy’s like my friend Jim will follow a perpetual strategy of appeasement in spite of themselves.
Lets be clear, the vast majority of women are secure enough not to allow this condition to get the better of them, and it’s in the extreme cases I’ve used above that real neuroticism flourishes. Contrary to popular belief I’m not an advocate of the Dark Triad methodologies of Game. Not because I think they’re ineffective, but rather because, with the right art of Game they’re not even needed. Only in extreme cases are the dark arts to be employed, and if a situation necessitates their use it’s important for a guy to understand that a line has been crossed with a woman who necessitated their use.
So yes, you should be seeking to reassure an LTR of your love and devotion, but know that due to women’s intrinsic fear of security loss, you will never achieve an ideal state of contentment of it, and certainly not by relying solely on comfort and familiarity. She want’s you to rock the boat, it’s what makes her feel alive.