Friday, April 26, 2013

Don't Try

I had a conversation with a female friend who recently got back together with her on-again off-again boyfriend. We were talking about something unrelated and she volunteered that her relationship was no longer making her happy. Her complaints basically amounted to being tired of the poor guy. The money line was: "He really has been trying hard...I just want more out of a guy." 

The funny thing is, when they weren't together all she would talk about was being with him, how happy he made her, and how they were made for each other. The man is obviously not a natural but is giving his all to make it work. And she despises him for it. The conclusion for any rational person has to be this: Don't "try" to make relationships work with girls. They won't appreciate it and they will detest you for bending to their will

"Be yourself" is usually terrible advice, but it's somewhat applicable to testing someone for relationship potential. Stay with me here. If a man is dating a girl he really likes, his first impulse is to make exceptions for her. Instead of watching the game on Sunday, he agrees to go to brunch with her. Instead of going out with the boys, he takes her to dinner and the art museum. 

Logic would dictate that sacrificing your time and friendship for the sake of a relationship should be enough to satiate a reasonable person. On the contrary, this policy of appeasement will erode away the respect your partner has for you. They. Always. Want. More. Patrice O'Neal used to compare it to negotiating with terrorists.

Your best bet is to get a girl accustomed early on to your natural level of commitment, your ability to devote free time to her, and your willingness to put up with her level of crazy. Once she starts insisting you make progressively bigger sacrifices for the sake of "the relationship," you must reconsider whether the arrangement is still adding value to your life.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: The Hitchhiking Crash Course

Matt Forney (left) pictured during his coast-to-coast hitchhiking quest

Why do we read books? I contend that it is to acquire experience and knowledge that we would not otherwise get in our daily lives. When I first heard about Matt Forney's trip hitchhiking across the United States, I thought he had to be insane.  Hitchhiking seems like it would make Letterman's Top 10 list for "Best Ways to Get Chopped Into Little Pieces." It is a taboo act, something that parents and popular culture alike have warned us against.

I have mentioned Matt's flair for the iconoclastic in other posts, so it shouldn't surprise you that he makes a convincing case for hitchhiking being relatively safe, enjoyable, and a character-building experience. The book contains tons of practical information about the art of hitching, including:
  • What to pack
  • State-by-state legality of the practice
  • How to optimize your chances of getting picked up
  • How to deal with police
  • What to do in situations where you feel uncomfortable

For example, it honestly would not have occurred to me to take a picture of a car's license plate and text it to a friend before getting in. I also would not have considered the difference in getting picked up on different types of highways. These are just two of the many pieces of advice that Matt dispenses.

The only frustrating thing is that Matt alludes to several interesting situations during his journey but does not go into specifics. Dammit, I want to read some stories! Luckily, he is soon releasing the memoir of the trip as a companion to the current how-to guide, a work that I am eagerly awaiting.  In the meantime, pick up a copy of The Hitchhiking Crash Course even if you don't plan on hitching anytime soon. I learned quite a bit about a subculture I had no prior knowledge of, and picked up a few pointers that can be generalized for any sort of solo travel. 

Who knows; it may just motivate you to stick your thumb out and go on an adventure.

Click here to buy The Hitchhiking Crash Course

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Trap of Someday

Raise your hand if you've ever said something like this:

"Someday I'd like to take a trip to France" 
"I really want to start training for a marathon"
"Eventually I'd like to open my own business"
"One day I'll quit my job and start a band"

Sorry to break it to you, but as long as a goal exists only in your mind you will never do it. If you want to accomplish something, you must take steps, however infinitesimal, toward its realization. There are two reasons for this:

1) Spending actual time will create ego investment in the project. Want to learn to program? Go on Codeacademy and spend a few minutes doing the first couple exercises. After a short time, you'll feel like a budding programmer and the hobby will become a small part of your identity. Want to go to Alaska? Buy a travel guide and make a list of our preferred destinations on the trip. Your mind will naturally connect you to the next steps. 

2) Taking action towards a pursuit will tell you that some of your dreams are dumb. When I was younger, I decided that I wanted to compete in a martial arts tournament. The first time I got punched in the face, I decided to cross it off the list. Should I feel bad for "giving up on a dream"? No, because I had no idea what it involved in the first place. This is progress. Since you'll no longer be wondering "what if," you will have more time to devote to the things you really want to do.

Don't avoid big aspirations, but sometimes goal-setting can cloud your mind and prevent measurable action. Accomplishing even the most piecemeal components can help the process snowballs Seriously, close this browser window and take the first minimal step. The fewer things you say you will do "someday," and the more projects you can say you are working towards, the happier you will be.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

But I Don't Want To Read A Book

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
— Arthur Schopenhauer

Rollo wrote an excellent criticism of this video at Rational Male. The manosphere is currently in between the first two stages of Schopenhauer's prescient quote. Poking fun at furry hats and false time constraints is gradually being replaced with actual backlash at the ideas of male independence, self-improvement, and biologically deterministic sociosexual tendencies. Roosh's prophecy about the manosphere going mainstream is beginning to come true, and you see both ridicule and aggressive opposition in this video.

The most intriguing part for me was Robert, the "constantly friend-zoned" student. He's not a haggard matron backwards-rationalizing the shitty decisions of a carousel-riding youth. He's not a feminist-entrenched waif living with his domineering girlfriend. By virtue of his age and gender, he has the widest range of potential outcomes of anyone in the video.

Despite this innate potential, Robert has lived for 20 years with nothing to show for being himself. He has everything to gain by making a change, but when approached with that idea this was his response: "I don't want to have to read a book in order to find some girl." Earlier in the program, he said this:
"I've never officially pursued picking up a girl. I go to bars and clubs all the time but I don't look for partners there. I'm usually just winging it, a spur of the moment kind of thing. I'm not actively searching for it."
This is just an astonishing display of doublethink. Robert knows he's had zero success with women, and knows he has the desire to succeed with them, but is adamantly opposed to searching out information that may change his worldview. It sounds strange to say that a fat loser grad student's ego is holding him back, but that is exactly the issue. He fears trying something new and failing, so he would rather "be himself" and fail like he has always done. George at 3rd Millenium Men rightly takes him to task for this defeatist attitude but it falls largely on deaf ears.

The truths hinted at in this video segment may never be accepted as self-evident in this part of the world, but there is no question that they are gaining people's attention. Let other people laugh themselves into irrelevance while you improve yourself and take full advantage of our broken sexual marketplace.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Book Review: Brains & Brawn

Robert Koch is the proprietor of 30 Days to X, a standout self-improvement blog that should be required reading for everyone looking to better themselves. Robert picks a new skill every month and lays out a plan to accomplish the goal, filling the blog with reflections on what he learns as he goes through the month. 

Robert's recently released his first ebook, "Brains & Brawn," a short guide that effectively outlines the basic initial steps of improving one's physique, diet, and mental faculties. The book struck me as similar to Frost's "Freedom 25 Lifestyle Guide," but should have strong appeal to a slightly different market -- extreme beginners looking to take control of their lives, and who may be intimidated by some of the more difficult to implement tips on diet, investing, etc. in Frost's work. People already on a self-improvement kick may be familiar with most of the advice, but I still picked up a couple useful modifications to my workout and was reminded that I shouldn't feel bad about playing strategy games in my spare time.

Though it was short, the book was very good. My only criticism is that it would have been nice to see a few more personal anecdotes or examples about how the principles worked. Robert's blog is full of insightful stories about his successes and challenges with his monthly goals, so I was surprised that these were mostly absent. Still, there was a clear focus on brevity so I can understand why he wanted to include only the most actionable information. I hope that Robert eventually decides to compile his most worthy challenges and field reports into a larger work.

For now, Robert's first effort provides a great starter kit for someone in your life who needs basic guidance on how to start their journey to manhood. Whether you know someone like this or just want a concise refresher, throw down a dollar to support one of the best new writers on the manosphere scene. I know I'll be buying all of his stuff in the future.

Click here to buy Brains & Brawn