Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dating Capital

In my post Modern Romance, reader K notes that a possible explanation of "Dating Capital" can explain the disparity in dating outcomes. That men with friends who give them pickup pointers, and provide "wingman" services, can create more success for their buddies in the way that girlfriends can for their female friends, with make-overs and better haircuts and the like.

In order to test this hypothesis, it's probably useful to look at how two hypothetical 19 year old men would fare, in different eras, and compare their "dating capital" or skills gained by social networks to be able to attract women in a relationship. Let's create a hypothetical 19 year old man in Greeley, Colorado, in 1949. Create another, hypothetical 19 year old man in say, Boulder, Colorado, in 1998. Let's compare the two, their resources, and their hypothetical outcomes, to explore how they pass through the dating and relationship market.

First, let's examine the 19 year old man in 1998's Boulder Colorado. If he was lucky enough to mature early, physically, in High School, and have or create enough status for himself as an attractive male, he will have plenty of success with women and need very little "game" or "Dating Capital." He will have experienced early success with women, feel no anxiety or social fear (of rejection) in approaching them, and making conversation. He is likely to do well in College with the opposite sex, particularly if he maintains a high social status. With sports, particularly football or basketball, giving him high social status and appeal, or inherited wealth that affords outward markers like fancy cars, and the like. At no point, of course, will he find his grades reflect dating success. Grades and academic success are quite irrelevant, if not harmful. A successful young man with women will note that his contemporaries who do well in school, have in general very poor success with women. Principally, because lower levels of testosterone are associated with higher intelligence, and women avoid "smart men" who are "nerdy" like the plague. One study even showed that only 65% of MIT graduate students ever had sex. Further illustrating that process: 0% of Studio Art majors were virgins, but 83% of Biochem and Math majors were virgins. Any dating savvy young man with high status among women will conceal above average intelligence, or channel it into "high testosterone" activities such as fighter pilot, etc.

After College, a High Status, "Alpha" male will continue, quite likely, to find success among women, as long as he retains his status, by working in occupations that are found "sexy" by women, including occupations such as lawyer, advertising, media, and so on. Avoiding professions such as engineering, computer programming, accounting, and the like which women find "nerdy" and associate with lower testosterone men. Ten years later, at age 29, the young man is likely to have little problems finding dates, approaching women, and is likely to be quite comfortable with his romantic life.

However, there are unlikely to be very many men like this. The increase in divorce and single motherhood means less chance of inherited wealth. A few genetic lottery winners with early puberty and athletic success are likely to define this crowd, and those naturally handsome and tall. Probably, we are looking in the neighborhood of 10% of the 19 year olds from 1998.

But what of the hypothetical 19 year old in 1998, who did not mature early, physically,or find high status through athletics, or inherit wealth and status, or some combination? If he has an older brother to mentor him, or various friends who are able to teach him the trick of appearing high status, certainly he can do better for himself. It's likely that the increase in attendance in College is at least as much the desire to be around girls more. A blue collar auto mechanic of 19, competing for the same girls in a bar, as a 19 year old sophomore at the local college, is likely to lose out, all things being equal. Meanwhile, lots of alcohol and various social events, allow young men and women to intermingle, often inebriated past social inhibitions (and good judgment). Even young men who are not particularly "Alpha" or socially dominant can be "lucky" enough, in the words from the movie "Superbad," to be one girl's "mistake."

Increasingly, College, and particularly non-elite colleges, serve as social intermediary institutions to match young people, though only temporarily. The way Church and town dances and social events did, to bring young people of the opposite sex together. Elite Colleges, of course, like Harvard or Yale, have admissions generally balanced equally among men and women, while lower tier schools such as say, Syracuse University, have 56% women, and 44% men as their student body. The higher percentage of women in less elite schools pretty much requires the words of John Lovitz on "Saturday Night Live," ... "Ladies, lower your standards."

Naturally, competition for the most "Alpha" of men at most colleges is fierce. Conservative women commentators such as National Review's Mona Charen, or City Journal's Kay Hymowitz's finger men as a whole as the reason young women "act slutty" in their words, with more explicit behavior (compared to the past), clothing, and more. Young women clearly would prefer not to lower their standards, and the conduct condemned is not that of young women just mindlessly acting like robots to young men's demands as a group, but rather the need to capture the most Alpha of men in competition with many, many other women. It's a numbers game — the pool of Alpha men is smaller, and the pool of female competitors is larger. Hence the need to up the ante with more available sexual behavior, more revealing clothing, more consumption of alcohol and so on.

Exacerbated by the lack of any larger social context, of course. College years are conducted mostly in social isolation, with peers as the standards of conduct. Parties, and other socialization, do not take place among friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and the like. That is a massive shift over time from the world of 1949.

But it's after College that the lack of "Dating Capital" does in the romantic success of the non dominant, non-Alpha male, in the case of the 19 year old from 1998.

The hardest problem is meeting young women. As reader K noted, young men and women in large organizations might well be suited for each other, but would never meet in socially appropriate ways to conducting romance. A young male computer programmer might never meet other than a casual pass in the hallways, a young female human resources officer. However, the young woman, assuming she is attractive on some baseline, will have no problems meeting young men in bars. Increasingly, women are opting for single motherhood and rejecting the messy compromises of marriage. One might even argue that a man would have to have a much larger premium over a woman's status and wealth and position in life in order to be considered for marriage. Given women's ability to form single mother families on their own.

Let's examine our hypothetical young man, who was 19 in 1998, after College. Let's assume he had little "game" but was lucky enough in College, fueled by lots of alcohol, "mistakes," and the imbalance in the sex ratio. Suddenly, in the big city after graduation, his partial success in College comes to a screeching stop, and he's back in High School again. His dating success and failures are entirely dependent on his ability to impress his female peers in bars, within a few seconds. If he has friends who are successful with women, and are inclined to teach him how to proceed successfully, he has hope. If not, he has none, and soon falls into substitution with pornography and video games and other entertainments.

Meanwhile, young women have a large cultural resource available to them, in how to become more attractive. Their dating capital, besides their friends, resides in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Glamor, and the like. Movies, television shows, books, and daytime talk shows like Oprah are filled with make-overs designed to maximize attractiveness. Young men, on the other hand, have the "lad" magazines such as Maxim, with pictures of young women and not much advice on how to approach them. Their dating capital is essentially, their friends and the Pick Up Artist books, seminars, and websites. It's catch as catch can, with most young men likely to lose out. There is no systemic effort to clue them into the requirements of women. Part of the problem is that "excessive" interest in women, including much effort spent in picking them up, is considered "unmanly," in the way that Don Juans are considered, still, unseemly and effeminate. A common complaint among the Pick Up artists like "Mystery" is that their fathers and larger society did not teach them the skills they needed to attract women.

Which is precisely the point. In 1949, mediating institutions such as Churches and local organizations in towns and cities put young men and women together. "Game" was not needed because women's selection criteria included what their friends, family, and community would think and approve of their choices. Anonymous hookups were not very common, and young women already knew well of a man's character, relatives, and conduct before he ever approached her at a dance. The world of 1949, Greeley Colorado, did not have anonymous strangers meeting in a bar, based on purely physical attributes and "Game." Let's now examine our hypothetical 19 year old in 1949.

Assuming the young man matured early, again like his hypothetical counterpart in 1998, and had relatively high status, he would have had little problem with women in his life. It's quite likely that he would have married relatively early, compared to his counterpart in 1998, given the relative marriage rates derived from the US Census Bureau below:


[Click on Graph to Enlarge It]

But of course, it's not him we are interested in. Rather, it is the 19 year old in 1949, who probably would not have had great success in High School with girls, but after High School would have had a far different world in front of him.

That world, would include far greater "Dating Capital" because of social intermediary institutions. In Greeley, that would include the staid Baptist socials and dances that Sayyid Qutb found to be a hotbed of lust and depravity. Game was far less a determinant of success, because each young women knew well each potential suitor, besides his demeanor and appearance. While he might be smooth and suave, in his approach (or lacking), she would know who his parents were, how much money he was likely to make, if he had any major character flaws, what his brothers and sisters were like, in other words a fairly complete picture of the man and his relatives, not to mention his standing in the community and what most of her family and acquaintances thought of him. Any choice a young woman made would not be an anonymous, one-time hook-up, but taking place in front everyone. Including, her parents, possibly even grandparents. Young men who were of "good character" but lacked Game had lowered success, perhaps, compared to those who had better Game, but not decisively. They got married in far greater numbers than those of today.

Lack of anonymous, consequence-less choice, available contraception that was both cheap and reliable, and far more information to both men and women, made the young man of 1949, far different. Not only did he marry earlier, and in greater numbers, but there were not penalties for lacking College degrees as there is today in the dating market. Partly that was because of cheaper real estate, higher real incomes for blue collar men. But more because there were a host of institutions that served to bring young men and women together after they already had a good idea of who they were. Even in big cities, people lived in fairly intact, stable, ethnic neighborhoods. This was as true of New York as it was of Chicago, or Pittsburgh. Neighborhood dances, often sponsored by neighborhood churches, were the primary means of finding a mate.

It's only fairly recently, after all, that the Pick Up Artists have become a feature in Western life. In 1949 they would have seemed as out of place as a Rap video played before the staid burghers of Greeley. Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart were considered the models of masculinity. A man was supposed to be stalwart, loyal, true, and tough, not smooth, highly verbal, and attuned to women's moods. Today, we have "sensitive" screen stars such as Josh Hartnett, Shia LaBeouf, and Leonardo DiCaprio. That cultural shift seems to be part of the huge change in what women selected for, over time.

In the world of 1949, it seems that many other aspects of a man's character and personality mattered as much as Game, effectively neutralizing the Dating Capital advantage, or alternatively, spreading out Dating Capital by making other aspects besides smoothness, power/status, and confidence matter.

The world of 1949, however, is unlikely to ever return. Is there a systemic way to spread out Dating Capital to most young men? It doesn't seem possible, because no matter how well known "Game" becomes, there will always be a race to be the one with the "most" Game, as women simply choose the most Game-worthy candidate. Moreover, much of the spreading of game seems haphazard. Those with friends who have it, and are willing to share, and teach, benefit, those who do not, largely remain outside, clueless. It would seem almost impossible for women's choices to be informed by factors other than Game in a bar, given the largely rootless, anonymous urban culture most young people live within. The world of 1949, where even those who lacked "Game" (most men) had a good chance at romance and marriage, depended after all on stability, community, and social connections. All of that, is just gone.

After all, a man in 1949's Greeley Colorado would be astounded to learn that a bit more than fifty years later, men would pay $50 an hour just to have someone alongside them, giving them tips on how to pick up women. That's what the Church dances were for!

14 comments:

Mu'Min M. Bey said...

Hi Whiskey,
I've been following your blog here and am very impressed with much of what you have to say! I just wanted to give my impressionson what you've written.

Although your pieces here are written from a White middle class perspective, still I can relate coming from a Working Class, inner city, African American and Muslim one. And much of what you haveto say begs some serious questions of the Black community, where as I'm sure you know, out of wedlock births and all that come with it are at epidemic levels.

This leads me to your thoughts on Gaye. While it's true he was singing more romantic ballads circa 1965, less than ten years later he was singing songs like "You Sure Love To Ball", "Let's Get It On" and "I Want You" - songs that by all accounts are quite ribauld. I think you are right to use popular culture and music etc, as a gauge by which to assess the state of us. Gaye's own musical transition just goes to show how much and how fast the Black community had changed.

I've said on Roissy's blog and elsewhere, that it occurs to me that we as a society simply do not, and will not, take the problem of what I call Male Rejection seriously. And it is in my view a recipe for disaster, one because it is in the nature of a male to be violent, and two, because there are no male role models to help males cope with the inevitable rejection that is sure to come when one presents himself in the sexual marketplace. Hence, I predict we will see more and more Chos. And Feminist ideology will prevent us from zeroing-in on the issue, much like PC considerations prevent us from dealing squarely with radical Islamists.

Speaking of Islamic POVs, let me thank you for your keen analysis of Sayyid Qutb. And to be sure, polygamous societies - all of which aren't nor haven't, been Islamic in origin - do indeed have a marked tendency toward violence for the reasons you indicated, and I have mentioned similar views over on Roissy's blog and elsewhere on the internet. Compainionate Marriage is the best system we have, and this is recognized in several quarters in the Islamic World; it is very important to keep in mind that not everyone agrees with the practice of polygamy.

Your point about focusing more on the biological/technological changes that have occured over the past four decades is a powerful one, and begs a whole host of questions. The Pill, Roe v Wade, and public policy changes wrt women in the workplace and on the college campus forever changed the mating game. Even the Church Social scenario wouldn't work today, because today's women simply have the right to opt out of such a thing, with nary a peep to be heard out of anyone.

I'm also struck by how many in the Feminist Lobby advocate for "Gaia Religions" as you call them, where "it takes a village to raise a child". This works not only against Patriarcal systems, but Evolution itself, because it deliberately dismantles the very important idea of Paternity certainty. Here is where I have to disagree with your inclusion of the Condom into the mix of major changes in the past forty years; the condom has been around since ancient times, and in any event, the very nature of it was highly visable, AND SOMETHING THE MALE COULD CONTROL. He knew whether he used a condom or not, and so did his woman. With the Pill, the man cannot be certain, and hence, he cannot be certain that the child is his. Of course, the reply in our tme will be the Dady DNA Test, but from what I can see on shows like Maury, they create as many problems as they solve.

This takes me to the question o deliberate single mommyhood by choice, which T address over at The Rawness in his post about the myth of the ghetto Black male. A powerful question emerges here - what kind of contry will we have, when most of its men and boys have been in essence raised solely by women? What will it mean for economic and social policy? ANd perhaps most ironically, what will it mean for the mating prospects of future cohorts of women? To let the Feminiss tell it, a reversion to a pre-Judeo-Christian society, where all the children are equally loved by everyone, while the guys who weren't chosen by the ladies just stand idly by, seems to be the answer to the all dreaded Patriachy. Yet the early evidence as we have it, tells another tale.

So my question to you, Whiskey, among many, is this: Now What? What do you think needs to be done to at least try to begin to address all of this? What public policy prescriptions do you suggest?

Thanks for your answers in advance.

Salaam
Mu

Whiskey said...

Thanks Mu'Min for your comments. Very insightful.

I fear also more Chos. Just as disturbing, only the older men, the Holocaust survivor professor in his eighties, and the Engineering professor in his late forties, tried to do anything. Such passivity is shocking. By contrast, during the UT shootings from the bell tower in the 1960's students and professors rushed to get their deer rifles, and shot back. Pinning the sniper down so a deputy could enter the bell tower and shoot him.

Security and safety is never won by merely those who wear a badge, it does indeed take most everyone else if not the village.

I also read the Rawness post on the Myth of the Ghetto Male, very insightful. I think our larger society will soon consist of either hyper-masculine men who amp up the bad boy stuff because it works, or hyper-nerd guys who get frustrated and largely substitute. With it's collapse of middle class society.

For public policy, I would encourage wage growth and affordable housing as part of that growth, but that is merely a band-aid. Promoting neighborhoods and ending urban anonymity is probably just as if not more important.

That may be around the corner. Sustained high energy prices are likely to reduce mobility that fuels this at least in part. [Agreed on the inability of DNA testing to produce fatherly investment in children. Sigh.]

Thanks for your comment.

alan143 said...

This is a good piece!

One important aspect that has changed since 1949 is this part:

"Increasingly, women are opting for single motherhood ... Given women's ability to form single mother families on their own."

Surely most women wouldn't dream of single motherhood unless they had financial support from government - as direct cash, as free medicine and pensions, as legal burdens placed on employers and fathers, and as state-run enterprises like schools and daycare. We're talking huge tax sums here, extracted largely from men by force of law.

If women still had to personally entice men to support their children, then I bet those local dances would become very popular again, very quickly. And I think everyone would benefit from that, even women.

quirkyknitgirl said...

Interesting piece. I do have to say that I disagree with the bit about women's dating capital being available through magazines such as Cosmo, Glamour etc. Those magazines don't teach you anything that relates to an actual relationship, they teach you how to play ridiculous game. Most the "advice" they give is ridiculous, but unfortunately seems to be what is expected now. If you don't play by it, you might as well be invisible. Sad, too--because I think a lot of us who'd rather ignore that type of advice are really much more interesting than the girls that follow it obsessively.

jay said...

The main conflict described on Roissy's blog is men's anger over their lack of access to alpha women (i.e. attractive women), not Plain Janes. They don't want just any woman to screw/date/marry - the standards laid out there are exacting & high.

Game is aimed at attracting goodlooking young women that would ordinarily be out of your league, not at wooing average to homely girls who nonetheless have pleasant personalities & would make good wives & mothers. As such, I really can't cry for these guys any more than I can cry for girls who pursue alpha males with the same zeal.
I think everyone needs to start lowering their standards and stop trying to seek mates who are above them. I won't hold my breath.

PA said...

men's anger over their lack of access to alpha women (i.e. attractive women), not Plain Janes.

To a certain point you are right, but Roissy does stress that the obesity epidemic has affected a lot of Plane Janes, effectively shrinking the pool of dateable women.

Men don't hold women to a very high standard of attractiveness. A non-obese 5 or 6 will do for most average guys.

Usually Lurking said...

To add to what PA is saying, Obesity has played a huge role in the modern mating game.

Regardless of how fat men have gotten, they are not going to be that interested in approaching fat girls.

And the average non-fat girl is not, thankfully, a 5, but a 6. The average girl is actually fairly attractive. We see this in any western nation that has not succumbed to fatness. They all, now, seem to be hot.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey,

A great deal of this current situation will dissipate in about 20 more years. Trust me on that.


We will have the first big generation of women to not get to have a family or any children on our hands in about 10 more years. Everybody will have that one aunt who went childless because "she couldn't find anybody" despite the fact that she looked OK.

Just as crack and meth have fallen in popularity because people now definitely know the consequences, the consequences of being a club girl during your twenties will be front and center for young females. They will have the cultural archetypes (their aunts) to look at and know what to avoid.

The message to young girls will be clear. Bars and nightclubs are an overall lousy way to find a mate. Ive personally WONDERED IF WE WILL FIND THAT THE ALCOHOL AND NIGHTCLUB INDUSTRIES or even LEFTWING interests subtley financially BACK the whole "PUA" movement.

If you want the real ugly truth, internet dating sites, Myspace.com pages, and the like, SHOULD be terrific ways for young men and women to screen potential mates by income, education level, home-ownership, religion, etc. PUA jargon simply teaches a man "an act" by which he feigns being an "alpha" male. Some women literally fall for "an act" that men have been taught to put on. A mood scam developed with the help of two UC Santa Cruz psychologists (where Ross Jeffries got his ideas)and gave birth to the PUA movement.

The old childless aunt will be the "end" of PUA because young women will have a "role" model-----to avoid. Thats exactly what their mammas will tell them. Seeing one old loner in your family who is like a tumor at family gatherings is all anyone needs to want to avert being alone/childless in their middle/declining years.


I predict the next generation (although it will be smaller) of women will be less likely to wait too long before they lower their standards because they will have seen the consequences. Further outsourcing of job opportunities via the internet (which at some point will indeed affect office-girl jobs with coming technologies) and insourcing of new labor to compete with jobs like paralegal, nurse, court reporteretting, etc. will also make 2-and-4 year female college grads less financially stable than they are at present in all likleyhood, and thus more likely to NEED a husband to make it out there.

Mu'Min M. Bey said...

I think Jay's comment is worth something to seroiously consider, and I too have written on the need for both men and women to consider lowered or reduced, ie, more realistic expectations, not only others, but for themselves.

But I most also comment on this "obesity" issue. True, there is indeed a problem, but I think we have to view this issue through the lens of race and ethnicity.

Many of the biggest complainers of this issue seem to be White males, who have differing aesthetic values than do Black men such as myself. I've never had a problem with a plus-sizd gal provided she kept a visable hourglass figure. "Zaftig, not Zeppelin" has been my motto.

I'm not sure how to address this issue, because unless the White women in question suddenly get motivated on their own to lose the weight to be acceptable to White males, or said White males take on a "makeover" case themselves, the situation looks bleak.

Comments?

Salaam
Mu

Anonymous said...

Re: Western woman's fertility falling off a cliff - we may be overlooking the extent to which it's a choice, especially among our best & brightest.

No Kids Please, We're Selfish


Regardless of how fat men have gotten, they are not going to be that interested in approaching fat girls.

I would suggest that they lose weight. A fat man feeling disgruntled that he can't attract a thin woman is guilty of the kind of entitlement we're talking about here. Then again, maybe it's better that they don't lose weight -it ups the value of those of us do the best with what we have.

sestamibi said...

It really doesn't matter what men think since they don't make mating decisions anyway.

The problem is that even less-attractive women seem to think they're entitled to the alpha male, and now have the resources to hold out until they get him. As pointed out here, all too many will be bitterly disappointed, but they have made a conscious decision to be alone rather than settle for anything less than "the best".

As for the obesity angle, as someone who could stand to lose about 20-30 lbs (but not 100-150!), I would have been quite happy to settle for "zaftig, not zeppelin" (I like that slogan) when I was young, but couldn't even find that much.

I got married at 46. my bride was 38. Twelve years later she still has the hot body of a 20-year old, so I REALLY got lucky. I only wish I could have gotten to her when she WAS 20!

Dymphna said...

whiskey -- I'm late to this very interesting conversation, but I couldn't help but notice one big missing element between 1949 and 1998: the draft.

Serving your hitch took you to strange towns and exposed you to the local young women, many of whom the boys of 1949 proceeded to marry and carry back to Colorado.

Or they married and stayed in the strange town to raise a family.

Or they stayed in the military and hauled their family from base to base till their hitch was up. The military served as an extended family.

There sure was more DNA mixing going on back then, wasn't there?

_____

Today: I know a 40 y o who got tired of the meat market in bars. He signed on to an online dating service and met a woman very suited to him. They now have two children.

BTW, he was tall, athletically built, and attractive. Had his own computer biz...but he gave up on meeting local women. It was just too much work.

Another one, this guy being 22, also gave up. College was painful because (a) he *was* busy studying, too busy to get drunk.(b)every girl he met was a flaming liberal who developed a bad case of spittle flecks around her mouth as soon as she found out his political leanings.

So we also forgot to factor in the intensity of political tensions today. Conservative men seem to be willing to tolerate liberal women but it doesn't work the other way. Hoo boy!

Anyway, he too gave up and met a young woman on line. She was a French teacher in a private school and is prettily zaftig. So far, so good. She looks like a keeper to me, though they are now temporarily separated by grad school requirements in their chosen fields...we will see if true love can conquer distance.

Cell phones help.

Now I have gotten to know this 19 yo underclass kid with few advantages. However, he has made the acquaintance, online, of young women far more accomplished than he who seem to be willing to mentor him from afar. That, too, appears to be taking hold.

BTW, the word verification for this is "masclin"...close enough.

Nietzsche said...

Although my small New England business school had around 55% male compared to female... I was still pursued relentlessly by women of all ages and martial status.

Funny how many girls banged the football players even in college, even though they were dumb as bricks.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I just found this article. I disagree that IQ is unattractive to women. There have been many studies that show that women demand a man who is higher IQ. I think its more accurate to say that *too high* IQ is unattractive.

And of course, academic study is generally seen as worthless to many women, unless the guy is a poet etc.