Recently at Jim’s blog there was a perceptive comment about approach anxiety and the evolutionary reasons for it. (Surprisingly, this came from the same commenter who made a bizarre comment in my last post, one “Ertz.”) The good comment and Jim’s response are worth quoting at length (some formatting added):
The potential for dating and flirting anxieties/shyness/inhibitions should be evolutionary deeply rooted in men, because it’s a life and death issue:
Successful reproduction is, of course, an existential problem, as the threat of genetic extermination looms large – but men tend to have more than half a century of time to get it done.
I see two immediate threats that must have programmed men’s instincts in the ancestral environment with great caution:
1. Trying to mate with fertile women is guaranteed to arouse the ire of other men – those at the top in hierarchy who claim a monopoly on the women,
and the lower ranked men who are driven by competition/envy.
So, just going publicly for the women and trying to mate with them (just being physically near them may cause aggression – openly or hidden – from other men) is an aggression against the interests of all other men – and met with counter-aggression.
Those guys who just tried to mate openly and publicly and not having inhibitions about it , without having the necessary social status, have probably been driven into extinction directly (killing, injury) or – through the works of envy, social sabotage etc. – indirectly.
Men who fear dating/flirting with women would then not really fear the women or the dating situation, but the revenge of other men.
2. Females’ mate choice copying makes sexually successful men significantly more attractive to women – but the opposite is also true: Sexually unsuccessful men become vastly more unattractive, even sexually disgusting, to women.
(Women’s gossip seems to be a socio-sexual “intelligence agency” that exists to identify sexually successful and loser men by gathering and sharing information about who has had sex with whom, which men failed, who has won and who has lost in competitions etc. – to enable women to mate with the sexually successful men and avoid mating with the losers – and it has to be gossip – sharing of secrets – because sharing this information openly would incite envy and aggression and mate guarding and anti-cuckolding instincts in men.)
If this were not the case, men could just go from woman to woman publicly and ask each one for sex, until one consents. This not happening, it produces a strong emotional inhibition in men – it feels terribly wrong to try it, embarrassing, painful:
Because the sexual attractiveness of a man to all women is diminished with every rejection he suffers that other women learn of (almost guaranteed by the female gossiping instinct), being rejected by just one woman has a terrible cost in fitness for a man with all other women.
All this should result in approach anxiety being programmed into men,
in taking sexual advances very, very seriously, because it is very risky, dangerous, costs-incurring for men to fail.
This might explain why so many men try to spy on their sexual target to learn more about her [Wait, what?], try to engineer an ideal first meeting situation that is somewhat under their control and provides advantage, try to meet the girl not in a public situation but in a one-on-one private one (so others cannot directly observe and spread information about his rejection [if he’s rejected]), to improve the odds for success, try to be slow and indirect about it, delaying a long time before they act.
Jim’s response is worth quoting in full:
The female instinct is to arrange to be socially isolated with her target – preferably in a situation where, in the ancestral environment, he could rape her.
Pulling works, but women want to be pursued. Hitting on a woman demonstrates confidence and high status, and hitting on a woman in public is demonstration of being top alpha. On the other hand women want to be pursued to validate their attractiveness, and being pursued gives her what she wants, and she then loses interest (because in the ancestral environment, if you did not then drag her off to your lair and ravish her, you were obviously not the top alpha.)
Observe cats in operation. The tomcat pulls, by taking a prominent position and yowling, thus demonstrating that no other tomcat can drive him off and he can drive all the other tomcats off. The female then approaches, and then gives the tomcat a hard time This hard time may, and frequently does, escalate to the tomcat violently “raping” her, except that it is not exactly rape type rape, since the female cat clawed her way through the mosquito netting to get to the tomcat, and proceeded to hang out with him.
You have to chase, but you have to get the chick to give you the opportunity to chase, so you have to pull, but you have to pull and chase in a way that does not give her the validation she is hungry for. Don’t give her validation until she does what chicks always want to do, gets on her own with you. Hence “make me a coffee”. You are likely to get more than coffee, but, like the female cat after ripping her way through the mosquito netting, she is going to give you a hard time with the coffee.
If you are worried about other men seeing you approach a chick, you are emitting beta tells. If you are worried about the chick’s rejection, you are not only emitting beta tells, but you are approaching her in a way that gives her validation for free. But, of course, you are rightly worried about these things. If you approach a whole lot of chicks, you are diminishing your status, and handing out a whole lot of free validation.
You will notice, that, as usual, for everything I advise, I also advise the direct opposite. It is complicated, subtle, and not easily expressed in words. There is a narrow path between one error and the opposite error, and it is hard to tell if you are on the path until after you have fallen off the path to one side or the other. But you also have to stroll briskly and confidently along the path.
Jim’s cat example is a good illustration of the non-conscious nature of much female sexual behavior. Cats don’t even have language, let alone Sex Ed class, so it’s not like the female cat knew what was going to happen (if she’s never been mounted) when she clawed through the mosquito netting to get to the tomcat. She doesn’t even know that there is such a thing as sex. At that point she has no idea that such a thing as a penis even exists, and a few minutes later is startled to find this strange organ the male cat has being shoved into her.
Is the female cat’s behavior intended to get her raped? Yes and no. No, if you mean consciously intended by the female cat. Yes, if you mean “intended” by evolution in an adaptive sense.
Question a la mode: When women in western nations vote for political parties that admit a flood of rapey foreigners, do those women vote that way “in order to get raped”?
On another topic, Jim wrote, “You have to chase, but you have to get the chick to give you the opportunity to chase, so you have to pull, but you have to pull and chase in a way that does not give her the validation she is hungry for. Don’t give her validation until she does what chicks always want to do, gets on her own with you.”
This is, indeed, the entire point of Game in a nutshell. Before you know Game you find – at least I did when I was younger – that the female sex largely divides into two camps, those who want you but whom you don’t want, and those whom you want but whom don’t want you. I had chicks want me and even fall in love with me (pats self on back) but somehow by some strange coincidence it was always girls I wasn’t interested in.
No, it’s not some horrific coincidence: The second group doesn’t want you precisely because you want them. Really, it’s a wonder that the human race managed to propagate itself before Game taught men techniques for pursuing without pursuing. (Partly we managed to survive because female mate choice was limited in ways that rendered this Catch-22 less important.) Mystery’s notion is that you should make her think she could have you, maybe, if she works hard enough. Robert Heinlein, in To Sail Beyond the Sunset, put optimal seduction strategy in the mouth of a female character; I’ll reverse the gender of the quote: “My strategy for seducing a woman is to let her chase me, while running away very slowly.”
Circling back to Jim: “You will notice, that, as usual, for everything I advise, I also advise the direct opposite. It is complicated, subtle, and not easily expressed in words.”
Seduction is game theory played against opponents (women) who are utterly ruthless and not entirely aware of their own motives and desires.
Seduction is both an art and a science. It is not like submitting an answer to a math problem in school. It is like stirring fluid in a pot. Boldly approaching a woman is alpha because it shows you’re not afraid of other men getting aggressive with you about it. But it’s also risky, since being blown out hurts your chances with other women. Yet the most alpha thing you can do is act like that doesn’t bother you. And to an extent you can exhort yourself into not being bothered by it, or being bothered less.
Aidan MacLear has said that if you use Game, “you are ghey.” Well… compared to memorizing a bunch of negs, etc., it would be better to get lots of pussy by being the top warlord of your tribe and letting women see you lop off the heads of several enemy men with a sword in combat. That’s what women are adapted for. But given that the modern world doesn’t work that way – and that the vast majority of men aren’t going to be the top warlord – we’re forced to do things differently.