It started with a girl I met at summer camp and ended with the woman for whom I left my first wife. In between, I bounced from one girl to the next — dozens of them — without so much as a day off between romances. You might have called me a serial monogamist, except that I was never exactly monogamous. Relationships overlapped, and those overlaps were always marked by exhausting theatricality: sobbing arguments, shaming confrontations, broken hearts. Still, I kept doing it. I couldn’t not do it.
I can’t say that I was always looking for a hotter girl. I’d trade good women for bad ones; their character didn’t much matter to me. I wasn’t exactly seeking love, regardless of what I might have told them. I can’t even say it was the sex either. Sex was just the gateway drug for me, a portal to the much higher high I was really after, which was the chase, the seduction.
Seduction is the art of coercing somebody to desire you; playing on someone else’s longings to suit your own agenda. Seduction was never a casual sport for me; it was more like a heist, adrenalizing and urgent. I would plan the seduction for months sometimes, picking the target, looking for openings. Then I would break into her deepest vault, steal all her emotional currency and use it myself.
If the girl was already in a committed relationship, I knew that I didn’t need to be hotter or “better” than her botfriend; I just needed to be different. (The novel doesn’t always win out over the familiar, mind you, but it often does.) The trick was to study the boyfriend and to become his opposite, thereby positioning myself to this woman as a sparkling alternative to her regular life.
Soon enough, and sure enough, I began to see that woman’s attitude toward me change from indifference, to trust, to IOIs, to open desire. That’s what I was after: the sensation of steadily dragging her fullest attention toward me and only me. My guilt about the boyfriend was no match for the intoxicating knowledge that — somewhere on the other side of town — somebody couldn’t sleep that night because she was thinking about me. If she needed to sneak out of his house after midnight in order to call, better still. That was power, but it was also affirmation. I was her irresistible temptation. I loved that sensation, I needed it, not sometimes, not even often, but always.
I might win the girl over eventually. But over time (and it wouldn’t take long), her unquenchable infatuation for me would fade, as her attentions and guilt returned to her boyfriend. This always left me feeling abandoned and invisible; desire that could be quenched was not nearly enough for me. As soon as I could, then, I would start seducing another girl, by turning myself into an entirely different guy, in order to attract an entirely different woman. These episodes of shape-shifting cost me though. I would lose weight, sleep, dignity, clarity. As anyone who has ever watched a werewolf movie knows, transmutation is excruciating and terrifying, but once that process has been set into motion — once you have glimpsed that full moon — it cannot be reversed. I could endure these painful episodes only by assuring myself: ‘‘This is the last time. This girl is the ONE.’’Back then, if you asked me what I was up to, I might have claimed that I was a helpless romantic — and how can you judge that? If I was really cornered, I might have argued that I was a revolutionary bucking the trend by countering women’s own manipulations in kind.
In my mid-20s, I married, but not even matrimony slowed me down. Predictably, I grew restless and felt unappreciated for my Beta supportive sacrifices. Soon enough I seduced a new girl; the marriage collapsed. But it was worse than just that. Before my divorce settlement was even signed, I was already breaking up with the girl I had broken up my marriage for. You know you’ve got intimacy issues when, in the space of a few short months, you find yourself visiting two completely different couples’ counselors, with two completely different women on your arm, in order to talk about two completely different emotional firestorms. Trying to keep all my various story lines straight (Whom am I angry at, again? Who is angry at me now? Whose office is this?) made my hands shake and my mind falter.
At our last counseling session, my soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend and I argued bitterly, and she ran off in a different direction. I came home distressed, only to find a string of distressing phone messages from my divorce lawyer: Nothing but ruin on that front too. Then I did an unusual thing. I did not grab the telephone and call yet another woman. Instead, I asked myself, ‘‘What are you doing with your life?’’
For the first time, I forced myself to admit that I had a problem — indeed, that I was a problem. Tinkering with other people’s most vulnerable emotions didn’t make me a romantic; it just made me a cad. Lying and cheating didn’t make me brazen; it just made me a needy coward. Stealing other men’s girlfriends didn’t make me a an irresistible player; it just made me a menace. I hated that it took me almost 20 years to realize this. There are 16-year-old kids who know better than to behave this way. It felt shameful. But once I got it, I really got it: There is no way to stop a destructive behavior, except to stop.
I spent the next six months celibate and serious, working with a good therapist, trying to learn if I even existed at all when I wasn’t soaking up women’s desire for me. Then one afternoon I ran into a girl I liked. We went for a long walk in the park. Flirted. Laughed. It was sweet. Eventually she said, ‘‘Would you like to come back to my apartment with me?’’
Yes! My God, how I wanted to unwrap this woman like a Christmas present!
Wasn’t this great? Wasn’t this a beautifully written, wise and brave account? Too many men are punished, and quietly punish themselves, for what is indeed our birthright: “human complexity”. Understanding and acceptance of a man’s capacity for cruelty is necessary for personal growth, right?
Have you ever been the
cuckold boyfriend on the other side of this equation? Isn’t it nice to get a bit more clarity from a PUAs side? Its a rough road, but I admire this guy’s courage and honesty. He’s earned my forgiveness and I expect he’s also earned yours.
Or…is this guy just an evil fuck seeking absolution from women for his manipulations? Should we forgive a guy who’d run a ‘boyfriend destroyer’ scheme and sow such discord for his own personal distemper on a dozen, two dozen, women? Is this man above forgiveness in spite of his personal insight and professed regret?
Men can be so callous; it’s good to see the PUA/Seduction perspective finally come to real insight, because, Lord knows, no woman would ever be able to relate to such horribly damaging obsessions, right?
OK, all snark aside, my intent with this was a comparative in a similar vein as my Qualities of the Prince post.
When you use exactly the same words and narrative women use with the genders flipped you begin to see the code in the Matrix. I purposely left the original article link at the end because the interpretation of how horrible and denigrating a man exhibiting such behaviors and rationalizing them needed to be expected and believed by default.
However, the real issue here isn’t so much Gilbert’s overt embracing of Open Hypergamy, it’s the degree to which she expects a fem-centric pop-culture not just to forgive her for it, but to redefine it as a necessary growth step in the maturation of a woman.
As most of you figured out, it’s (an albeit delayed) Epiphany Phase rationalization that all women have to confront eventually. The only difference here is the heroic narrative context. When a man spins plates, even with the most open and honest approach to being non-exclusive, he’s typecast as a monster, a predator, a player and a cad –and those are the nice adjectives.
But have a woman spin plates (as all of them do to varying degrees), and she’s a hero for her journey of self-discovery. Have a look at the comments on Gilbert’s original article. I even incorporated a few into the end of my post.
“This was a beautifully written, wise and brave account.”
“Too many men are punished, and quietly punish themselves, for what is indeed our birthright: human complexity”
As Open Hypergamy becomes more widely accepted, and men’s cooperation with it becomes an expectation for men in “a mature adult relationship” the Feminine Imperative will progressively need to redefine the inherent duplicity of women’s sexual strategy and mold it into a personal strength of women. We can see this fluid redefining in this article and I expect in Gilbert’s next book.
Men will need to be made compliant to women’s overt Hypergamy and the first step is to make them accept it as a triumphant self-discovered strength in women. Men need to be taught to applaud women for the courage to embrace their Hypergamy openly, and any man who doesn’t love women more for it is a chauvinist / misogynist.