"Neanderthals" [DISC]

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Post by Guest on Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:48 am

In the discussion on Entitlement, Nerds, and Neanderthals, a lot of people have been talking about distaste for the label "Neanderthals" being attached to sexually successful men.

I wanted to create a thread where we can unpack some of that.

To me, the implication of Neanderthal is someone crude, unsubtle, emotionally stunted, and unintelligent, whose only asset is physical strength.

I feel like the label of Neanderthal, in the sense of "I'm here alone and unloved, while these Neanderthals are getting all the women," implies that the "winners" are the guys who go in, (metaphorically) club women over the head with their sexual desire, and then rut like animals. In contrast, then, is the sophisticated love, which is divorced from base sexual needs and focused on a more enlightened and intellectual plane of existence.

The problem is that's what being read as crude and unsophisticated is usually just... straightforward. "Hey, I like you. Want to make out?" Or what the Doc advocates: reading signals and making physical moves based on signals they're receiving from their partners. In a lot of ways, what's actually happening is that the "Neanderthals" are operating at a more sophisticated level -- they're taking the sexual desire and attraction game and playing it profoundly well -- so well that socially awkward people can't even perceive, because they haven't had the practice.

So to them, it looks like these "Neanderthals" are just charging in blindly and winning, and rather than acknowledge that they're not as good at the game, they redefine the rules, mark the "Neanderthals" as bad at the new game, and then get angry when their preferred sexual partners insist on playing the old game with the people who are still good at it.

Other thoughts?

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Post by BasedBuzzed on Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:16 pm

The might be confusing cold approaching with cold cock approaching.

Anyway, the blunt dude who charges in ignoring personal boundaries and coasts by on macho cred, the dude was has an amazing grasp of chemistry and subtle signals of attraction, the nerd who is correct in asserting that he would have gotten some if he had just been a bit less hesitant and acted more like the blunt dude and the nerd who doesn't grasp social cues and rants about base normies on the internet all exist in the same sphere. It's easy to confuse the figures and hard to draw a clear line. Most of it comes down to finding a social circle with the norms you're comfortable with(easier said than done).

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Post by Mel on Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:27 pm

I agree that generally speaking the "Neanderthals" (or, as I more often see the successful-with-women guys labeled, "jerks"/"assholes") are simply playing the game better--reading interest better and so being able to assert themselves without creeping people out, for example; knowing how to probe for signs of interest subtly so it's easy to back off without overstepping (e.g., being able to make suggestive but not blatant flirty jokes). I think it's also important for people to remember that there are plenty of women who aren't particularly subtle or sophisticated people, who it isn't surprising may enjoy interacting with people with similar personalities. The idea that all women should appreciate romance on some higher level is partly buying into stereotypes and partly putting women on a pedestal, neither of which is really fair.

And I think this ties into another element NT just brought up in the original thread--that guys look at the jerks/assholes who succeed with women and feel that people are lying to them when they're told they need to be "nice" and respectful as a baseline. That "nice" isn't actually necessary at all. And this isn't to call out NT, because I've seen lots of guys here and elsewhere express that idea, and I have a lot of thoughts/feelings about it:

-I do think that the vast majority of women want to be with a man who is some variation of "nice"... to them. I've never met a woman who talked about liking how bad a guy made her feel. The guys you see being jerks to people around them, or even to the women they're with, it's almost certain that at least part of the time they're doing things that make the women they're with feel good about themselves. Make them feel special, appreciated, etc. And the thing about romantic attraction is that it can be very easy to dismiss bad behavior if there's good behavior some of the time and you really want to believe that, and the good feelings that come with it, is the true person and the rest is just "mistakes" or a result of some pain or anger the guy can't help or just goofing around without any real malicious intent or whatever. A guy who's going around being a jerk to everyone all the time is almost certainly not going to be successful with women, and I can almost guarantee you that a guy who's often a jerk who's successful with women is successful mainly because of his skill at acting "nice" (which could, depending on the situation, mean anything from flattering to protective to generous to, yes, respectful) counteracting his being a jerk. For a more in depth understanding of this, I recommend reading literature on the cycles of domestic abuse (not because all jerks are outright abusive, but because if you can understand how a woman can be convinced a guy who hits her still loves her and is a good guy underneath, it shouldn't be too hard to understand it's even easier for that to happen when the bad behavior is limited to things like mocking people or ignoring smaller boundaries).

It would also be good for any guy who's bothered by the fact that this happens to try to think about the women he's been into and whether they all have treated him and everyone around him perfectly at all times. Many guys I've talked to have at least one woman they had trouble giving up on even though she treated them and/or others badly. If it can happen to you, of course it can happen to women too. It's a human thing.

-There do also exist women who enjoy making/seeing people feel bad, and thus enjoy being with someone who does this too. Those women are also jerks. See above point about stereotypes and pedestals. Expecting all women to want to be with good people means expecting all women to be good people themselves, and surely we can all agree that's an unrealistic expectation of humanity?

-When people say that "nice" is a baseline, they're generally simplifying a more complex idea, which is that "nice" (or, I would prefer, respectful/considerate/some variation on that) is a baseline if you want to be dating women who are also respectful/considerate/"nice" and/or if you want to feel you're dating in an ethical manner. That isn't usually spelled out because I think most people assume it's obvious. Obviously you could simply crudely or cruelly pursue women to find those who are into that approach... and if you would like to date crude or cruel women, have at it. Obviously you can "succeed" with women by getting them drunk enough that they barely know who they're with or spinning some good lies or playing mind games with them... and if you think that's an acceptable way to treat other human beings, it's not as if there's a shortage of advice online on how to improve those "skills." When people don't tell you those things, it's usually because they're giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you're looking to feminist/otherwise "ethical" presenting sources for advice because you don't want to behave that way, not that you're too stupid to notice that some people do and get away with it.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 12, 2015 1:39 pm

I've seen several good friends, each of whom I still consider generally intelligent and considerate people, go on multiple successive dates with guys that to me seemed transparently boorish and thoughtless. And while none of those lasted long, I still have trouble reconciling that with the idea that being a decent human being is a baseline—because the unattainable prize I've been fixated on for so long is to get my foot in the goddamn door.

None of this is intended as an argument against the larger points the three of you have made so far; just trying to further clarify where I currently stand on this, and what I think the reasons may be.
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Post by Mel on Mon Jan 12, 2015 1:43 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:I've seen several good friends, each of whom I still consider generally intelligent and considerate people, go on multiple successive dates with guys that to me seemed transparently boorish and thoughtless. And while none of those lasted long, I still have trouble reconciling that with the idea that being a decent human being is a baseline—because the unattainable prize I've been fixated on for so long is to get my foot in the goddamn door.

None of this is intended as an argument against the larger points the three of you have made so far; just trying to further clarify where I currently stand on this, and what I think the reasons may be.

Did you ask your friends what they liked about these guys? Presumably there was something more to them than boorish thoughtlessness--or perhaps your friends didn't actually like them particularly but felt they couldn't do better?
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Post by The Wisp on Mon Jan 12, 2015 1:59 pm

I'm not saying this is necessarily true in the case of those guys, NT, but I do think some more mainstream guys can come off as boorish and thoughtless to introverted nerds when they really aren't due to the way they talk, the way they dress, their interests, etc. when they really aren't. One of the guys in one of my therapy groups was like that: the first impression was he was a stupid jock, but he was actually pretty thoughtful and introspective.
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Post by eselle28 on Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:02 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:I've seen several good friends, each of whom I still consider generally intelligent and considerate people, go on multiple successive dates with guys that to me seemed transparently boorish and thoughtless. And while none of those lasted long, I still have trouble reconciling that with the idea that being a decent human being is a baseline—because the unattainable prize I've been fixated on for so long is to get my foot in the goddamn door.

None of this is intended as an argument against the larger points the three of you have made so far; just trying to further clarify where I currently stand on this, and what I think the reasons may be.

Being a decent human being isn't the baseline for going on a date or for being in some sort of relationship. I'd say it's a baseline for being in an ethical, healthy relationship. It gets mentioned on the prime site because I think The Doctor tends to implicitly assume that those two qualifiers apply.

Though I do kind of join Mel in being curious what behaviors give rise to the boorish and thoughtful labels. There are some behaviors, like racism and violence, that I think are objectively condemnable, but boorish sounds like a label for a personality that some people might enjoy and thoughtless is a fault that's both common and that some people tolerate pretty easily.
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Post by eselle28 on Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:16 pm

ElizaJane wrote:
To me, the implication of Neanderthal is someone crude, unsubtle, emotionally stunted, and unintelligent, whose only asset is physical strength

I think that this has some truth to it, and think it's worth pointing out that "emotionally stunted" is the only trait on that list that's likely to cause relationship problems. One person's crude and unsubtle is another person's honest and direct. One person's unintelligent is another person's uncomplicated. I get the sense that there's also a certain amount of bias against extroverts for not being introverts, which is the opposite of what typically happens in life. In reality, not all women are themselves delicate and subtle, intelligent, and introverted. Hell, some women who are those things might prefer their opposites, just as nerdy men sometimes are attracted to women with very different personalities. That's not necessarily a recipe for an easy relationship, but probably explains a good number of short ones.

In addition to all that, I think there tends to be a mixing up of people's social cliques and interests, their actual personality traits, and their moral character. I think it's fairly common for people to mix up those three things into one blunt evaluation of people: that person has the same nerdy hobbies as me, so they're probably also smart like I am, and of course smart nerdy folks tend to be the good people in the world so I'm sure they're great. Alternately: that person likes to drink canned beer and watch college football, so they're probably down to earth and family oriented like I am, and of course down to earth and family oriented people tend to be the good people in the world so I'm sure they're great. In my experience, at least, I've found people to be all over the map when it comes to all these things.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:21 pm

Generally because of the way those relationships ended, it always seemed in poor taste to bring up Jerk Dude post-break-up. Never felt like I had the right to pry on something in-progress either. Next opportunity, I'll see if I can't get a little more info, though. If I can remember.

I dunno. Aside from meeting their S.O.s when they bring them to...well, everything, I've been giving their love-lives as much space as they give mine. Ball's in their respective courts on that one, too, unless I'm severely underestimating the ambiguity in the meaning of "how are you and <Dude's name> doing these days?" "fine." "oh." exchanges with people who are usually a lot more talkative and opinionated.

The Wisp wrote:I'm not saying this is necessarily true in the case of those guys, NT, but I do think some more mainstream guys can come off as boorish and thoughtless to introverted nerds when they really aren't due to the way they talk, the way they dress, their interests, etc. when they really aren't. One of the guys in one of my therapy groups was like that: the first impression was he was a stupid jock, but he was actually pretty thoughtful and introspective.
eselle28 wrote:Though I do kind of join Mel in being curious what behaviors give rise to the boorish and thoughtful labels. There are some behaviors, like racism and violence, that I think are objectively condemnable, but boorish sounds like a label for a personality that some people might enjoy and thoughtless is a fault that's both common and that some people tolerate pretty easily.

Oh, just little things like trying to foist a bong on me after the fifth time that night I've stated I have no interest at all in smoking anything, doing kind of the same thing with alcohol, double-parking their seat in a crowded room, and reciting the absolute least creative puns that can be made with other people's names. Granted, most such actions were taken while not 100% sober, but still seem to me like pretty strong indicators that Dude doesn't have a lot of empathy, tact, or willingness to compromise.

But yeah. Presumably there's more to those guys than what I saw on what amounted to a couple of evenings each. A worthwhile-smelling filling layered somewhere inside the loud and pushy pie crust. I'd like to think there's more to me than whatever surface thing I present as, too, but mine is clearly not the sort of pie people bother sticking a fork in. Or a toothpick.
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Post by eselle28 on Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:39 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:
Oh, just little things like trying to foist a bong on me after the fifth time that night I've stated I have no interest at all in smoking anything, doing kind of the same thing with alcohol, double-parking their seat in a crowded room, and reciting the absolute least creative puns that can be made with other people's names. Granted, most such actions were taken while not 100% sober, but still seem to me like pretty strong indicators that Dude doesn't have a lot of empathy, tact, or willingness to compromise.

But yeah. Presumably there's more to those guys than what I saw on what amounted to a couple of evenings each. A worthwhile-smelling filling layered somewhere inside the loud and pushy pie crust. I'd like to think there's more to me than whatever surface thing I present as, too, but mine is clearly not the sort of pie people bother sticking a fork in. Or a toothpick.

Okay. I know people like that. I don't tend to like them very much, and would say the bong-related behavior is particularly a bad sign. I also know people who really enjoy people like that, sometimes in spite of the insensitivity that the less aware people of that type tend to show. I suspect this is less a case of your friends being willing to push their forks into the loud, pushy crust to find the good filling as them enjoying the loud, pushy crust and not having learned to pick out the better examples of loud, pushy people.


I'm going to try to break this off a bit because it doesn't relate to anyone's specific posts. I must say that I find it very odd that we talk to men about moral character in terms of dating success, and that men have a certain amount of social permission to complain about the moral character of men who are more successful to them. My experience as a woman has been very different. I was always taught that being a decent person is my responsibility and is probably necessary to be happy in friendships and relationships, but that it wouldn't get me friendships or relationships or really much of anything besides the knowledge that I'm doing what I ought to. If I were to complain that a smart, interesting man I knew was dating a woman who struck me as vapid, selfish, materialistic, and intentionally helpless (and I certainly know some couples like that), the general reaction would be to shout me down by pointing out that she's hotter, or that men like  feminine women, or to point out all the things she did to make him happy. If I were complaining to men about such a woman, I'd be painted as jealous, and if I were complaining to women, it would come off as mean-spirited and back-biting. Bizarrely, I think this might be a way in which women have a benefit over men in dating. We've been taught things that make us inclined to be critical of ourselves, but I don't know that we've gotten as many falsely idealistic messages about what other people may want in relationships.
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:08 pm

I really think Neanderthal is just a rephrasing of "Alpha", that shifting target that starts out meaning physically attractive dude who is very unsubtle about his interest and then shifts such that anyone who is successful falls into the category.

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Post by OneTrueGuest on Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:31 pm

See it's funny but to me NT you're showing a lack of empathy, the exact quality you claim the boorish boyfriends did.   Because at least from what you've said (and remember that's all I have to go on) you have these dudes who are including you in the party.  Who want you to party with them and keep offering to share their drugs and booze with you (which costs money, btw), they keep trying to get you to play with them essentially.  Yeah maybe they are loud and take up space but they're having a good time and sure they might not make witty jokes but they're being silly and inclusive (now if the puns you're talking about are nasty jokes at a person's expense well that's different).

Sure they don't have quiet thoughtful personalities, but they don't seem mean or nasty either.  They just want everyone to have a great time like they are and don't fully get that for you that isn't fun.  But then again, you don't seem to get that for them it is.  So I dunno, sounds like you are kind of the exact same person. You can't see their positive qualities, and they can't see yours.  I bet it's possible these dudes the next day are all, "Man girlfriend's friend NT is so full of himself.  He wouldn't party with us, he wouldn't talk with us, he just sat in the corner judging us all night.  What's his problem? Why would she be friends with a guy like that, who doesn't like anyone else?"

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Post by Guest on Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:39 pm

Maybe a bit off topic, buuuut... I gotta get this off my chest. Razz

After taking a physical anthropology course and understanding how primates behave and how evolution works more or less...

All this talk about being "alpha" or a "neanderthal" is rather dumb. I understand the idea behind it while applied to a social setting, but no, that doesn't seem right. Physical fitness does not equate to evolutionary fitness, plus just because neanderthals were primitive humans doesn't mean they weren't intelligent either.

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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:57 pm

OneTrueGuest wrote:See it's funny but to me NT you're showing a lack of empathy, the exact quality you claim the boorish boyfriends did.   Because at least from what you've said (and remember that's all I have to go on) you have these dudes who are including you in the party.  Who want you to party with them and keep offering to share their drugs and booze with you (which costs money, btw), they keep trying to get you to play with them essentially.  Yeah maybe they are loud and take up space but they're having a good time and sure they might not make witty jokes but they're being silly and inclusive (now if the puns you're talking about are nasty jokes at a person's expense well that's different).

Sure they don't have quiet thoughtful personalities, but they don't seem mean or nasty either.  They just want everyone to have a great time like they are and don't fully get that for you that isn't fun.  But then again, you don't seem to get that for them it is.  So I dunno, sounds like you are kind of the exact same person.  I bet it's possible these dudes the next day are all, "Man girlfriend's friend NT is so full of himself.  He wouldn't party with us, he wouldn't talk with us, he just sat in the corner judging us all night.  What's his problem?"

Yeah, okay, I can explain things in a bit more detail.

  • It's not their drugs or their booze—these gatherings are generally held in homes belonging to mutual friends (back in college it was actually our room most of the time) and most of the...resources on offer belong to the hosts. So they're offering me something, but it's not costing them anything to do so. One time in particular, it would actually have been costing me, since I'd been the one to purchase the tequila, whiskey, rum, grenadine, and assorted fruit juices and sodas for that gathering.

  • I cheerfully play any games they want, and usually bring a couple of my own to offer up. I engage in conversation, laughter, and so forth. I sit in the damned smoke in order to do so. Yes, even after I've already decided I don't like Dude, because that is part of not meddling in Friend's life.

  • If Dude still thinks I am sitting in a corner judging him, there isn't really anything more I can do about that. If I have more than a single shot of liquor in the entire night, I usually end up feeling miserable for the rest of the night and have severe headaches that keep me awake.

  • I agree that they don't fully get that what they're demanding from me isn't fun for me. I suppose I don't really understand how trying to force me to do something I'm making increasingly clear I don't want to do would be fun for them, so you may be right there, but you can't be seriously telling me there's nothing problematic about their mindset.

  • If we were the exact same person, I'd sometimes go on dates.
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Post by eselle28 on Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:07 pm

Pushing people to use substances is bad behavior. Sometimes it's a sign of a pattern of boundary problems. Sometimes it's cluelessness that can be corrected, which doesn't mean it's your job to correct it. I'm sorry you have to deal with that behavior. That being said, I'm not sure if anything you've described is far outside the bounds of the median human's grab bag of faults. These guys don't sound like they're on the upper tail, but I'm not sure they're on the lower one either or that their faults exceed those of the randomly selected nerdy-dude-who-isn't-you.

It also doesn't sound like the boundary-pushing about substances is specifically what's attracted your friends. Can you imagine someone who's like these men, but who has learned not to push substances and to let that specific issue go when someone declines? What would be your moral assessment of that person?
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:12 pm

My moral assessment would be that this now appears to be an acceptable human being, worth giving a shot at sharing some of my time with, and possibly inflicting on my friends later if all goes well. So, yes, I get it. It's annoying, but I get it. But it's annoying.
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Post by Mel on Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:22 pm

Even with undeniably jerkish behavior going on, I'd say there are at least four possibilities that are at least as likely as "intelligent considerate people enjoy becoming romantically involved with people they see as being mainly jerks":

1. As per my first point in my initial post here, there may be compensating behavior going on that counteracts the jerkish impression. How were these guys treating the actual girlfriend? If she's into drinking and/or smoking up, then him offering her drinks/bong is going to come across as appreciative of her/keeping her enjoyment in mind, for example. He's probably also doing things for her he isn't doing for her male friends--since she's the one he's dating after all--like complimenting her or asking her what she wants/would like to do, which he may be doing quietly or mainly when other people aren't around or you simply happened to miss it. And as acknowledged this is a limited view of him and their interactions and he could be displaying all sorts of considerate or thoughtful or at least well-meaning behaviors when they're alone together, when they're in smaller groups or less rowdy settings, etc. That sort of compensatory behavior can both make the "bad" behavior be interpreted more kindly (as cluelessness rather than maliciousness/arrogance, for example), and make the "bad" behavior seem like a fluke compared to his "true" self ("it's just because he's been drinking/he gets caught up/etc.").

2. The girlfriend may be into that kind of behavior (because she enjoys drinking, smoking, bad puns, etc.) and see it as harmless, and isn't noticing other people who are being made uncomfortable by it, and so isn't recognizing anything jerkish is going on.

3. The girlfriend may be seeing that his behavior (whether she enjoys it or not) is making friends of hers uncomfortable, but isn't as considerate as assumed and thus isn't bothered by other people being less than considerate.

4. She may secretly be a total jerk and actively enjoy seeing other people subjected to jerkish behavior.

It could easily be more than one of those in combination, too (e.g., she likes that sort of "boorish" behavior and so doesn't see it as a problem + isn't quite thoughtful/considerate enough to be paying attention to how it's affecting any given friend, or the first point + he's doing other things that make her feel appreciated so she assumes he means well despite making others uncomfortable).

So, I'm not saying it's impossible that a considerate person could see someone being primarily a jerk as okay, but the above possibilities make more sense to me and fit what I've seen and heard from others.
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Post by Mel on Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:44 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:My moral assessment would be that this now appears to be an acceptable human being, worth giving a shot at sharing some of my time with, and possibly inflicting on my friends later if all goes well. So, yes, I get it. It's annoying, but I get it. But it's annoying.

Asking honestly, because I'm not sure: What part of it do you find annoying? That women will date guys who have flaws? That you think these guys are offering fewer positives than you are while showing bigger flaws than you are, yet they're having more success? Simply that you don't know or don't know how to provide the positives that would offset whatever your known or theoretical flaws, whereas these guys seem to have figured it out? Or something else?
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:46 pm

In at least three cases that I know of, the things cited as signaling the end of the short-lived relationship were along the lines of:

  • He tried one too many times to move relationship-things along faster than she wanted to go
  • He'd get sulky/grumpy when she asked for a little more space from him for a short time
  • They just didn't end up getting along that well after all

In other words, things I might have predicted from my limited information, and also things you'd have to spend some time with a person in order to find out. ETA: Also the first two are things I don't think I could ever be guilty of, but that's not really here nor there given that there's other stuff I probably would be guilty of that nobody's discovered yet. I find that annoying, too.

The baseline for dating is somewhere other than not being a jerk. And by that what I mean is: I have faults. I definitely have faults. But I don't see how my faults are worse than or far outside of, as Eselle put it, the median human's grab bag of faults. It bugs me that the faults I can't stand in other people are also faults that I might be better off having instead. Perhaps if I acted loud and pushy and arrogant I'd read as more energetic and passionate and enthusiastic and I'd at least have a different failure point to work on.

So after all that, does this seem like a plausible explanation for why someone who thinks things through even less than I do might arrive at a "neanderthals" mindset? Was there any point in me going through my life story? Razz

(Also, not sure if I already answered your question or not, Mel. I think all your guesses have some truth to them, but the one about not knowing what to do about it all seems to be my primary frustration.)
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Post by OneTrueGuest on Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:59 pm

NT: what I meant with the exact same thing is your lack of empathy and understanding of these guys is exactly the same as these guys' lack of empathy and understanding of you.  That's all.

As to the rest of it, I dunno, have you ever considered that maybe these girls aren't the ones you should be pursuing in the first place? I dated a guy who loved pot once. We had so much in common, we had great chemistry, and we are still friends to this day. But I couldn't with the constant pot smoking. Just like you probably couldn't with my party going and social drinking. Maybe you need to find girls who aren't into those things.

Also the three things you listed? I've seen that in so many relationships, in fact aren't those the three biggies for general breakups? Like one person wants the relationship to be one thing and the other doesn't, one person is clingy-er than the other and the two people realise in the end they didn't have that much in common after all? It's not really all that particular to bros or anything. I'd say men and women from all walks of life have to deal with those issues all the time. The reason a relationship works is because all those three things are compatible between the two people. Otherwise it ends. So all ended relationships will likely have at least one of those reasons given.

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Post by eselle28 on Mon Jan 12, 2015 5:08 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:In at least three cases that I know of, the things cited as signaling the end of the short-lived relationship were along the lines of:
So after all that, does this seem like a plausible explanation for why someone who thinks things through even less than I do might arrive at a "neanderthals" mindset? Was there any point in me going through my life story? Razz

If it's meant as an explanation, I can see it being one. I would also have to say that it makes me less sympathetic toward and rather frustrated at men with the "neanderthals" mindset, however, in part because it strikes me as being self-centered and myopic. The frustration of seeing people with faults that you personally can't stand succeed in areas where you struggle isn't a problem of nerdy men who are frustrated in their attempts at dating. It's a staple of the human condition, and I think everyone but the luckiest and most successful people feels it sometimes.

That part I do sympathize with. Where I tend to lose the feeling is at the point where the person departs from distinguishing personal dislike and disappointment and heads toward systematizing it into an alternate moral system and then pointing it at other people, whether they be the supposed Neanderthals or women who may prefer dating them. I said this before, but I don't think that women are very tolerated when they find that the men around them prefer women who are quite different from them, some of whom they may find extremely annoying. I don't think this sort of analysis typically is applied to friendship, either, or at least I don't frequently see people complaining that others choose to be friends with people whose moral character is worse than theirs and should be friends with them or people like them instead. Rather, people in both cases are alternately encouraged to change themselves to suit others' preferences or to dismiss people who are uninterested in them as poor matches and to instead seek out whatever small group of people may find them interesting. Why is there this difference in how people react to a fairly common social experience?
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Post by LadyIkaros on Mon Jan 12, 2015 5:21 pm

eselle28 wrote:I'm going to try to break this off a bit because it doesn't relate to anyone's specific posts. I must say that I find it very odd that we talk to men about moral character in terms of dating success, and that men have a certain amount of social permission to complain about the moral character of men who are more successful to them. My experience as a woman has been very different. I was always taught that being a decent person is my responsibility and is probably necessary to be happy in friendships and relationships, but that it wouldn't get me friendships or relationships or really much of anything besides the knowledge that I'm doing what I ought to. If I were to complain that a smart, interesting man I knew was dating a woman who struck me as vapid, selfish, materialistic, and intentionally helpless (and I certainly know some couples like that), the general reaction would be to shout me down by pointing out that she's hotter, or that men like  feminine women, or to point out all the things she did to make him happy. If I were complaining to men about such a woman, I'd be painted as jealous, and if I were complaining to women, it would come off as mean-spirited and back-biting. Bizarrely, I think this might be a way in which women have a benefit over men in dating. We've been taught things that make us inclined to be critical of ourselves, but I don't know that we've gotten as many falsely idealistic messages about what other people may want in relationships.

I think that's basically the good, old "women are supposed to be a reward for deserving men, whereas men of course get to have their preferences". Cue the outrage when it doesn't work like that. Much like the "But men are visual! (So stop complaining about being objectified)" - it's astounding to me how many men apparently feel deeply betrayed to discover that appearance actually matter a good deal to a lot of women; and then tip over into claiming that looks are the only thing that matters to those shallow females.

Maybe I'm a bit harsh here, and I want to make clear that I'm not attacking any individual men in this thread for thinking as crudely as this, but I do think these perceptions play into the discourse
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 12, 2015 5:23 pm

I'm not pursuing them; they're friends. One of them I did occasionally test the waters with. Got what I saw as a pretty straightforward "not interested" signal back. Didn't push further. Because I am not the guy who pushes things other people don't want.

But I am the guy who can't help feeling just a tiny bit vindicated when I make the observation: "Dude is a guy who either has no sense of other people's boundaries or enjoys pushing them, and Friend has some pretty firm boundaries and for good reason," and four to six months later I never see Dude again.

And yeah, Eselle, I'm also not really trying to persuade anyone to sympathize or anything. I just figure, if you took my current thoughts on what I described in this thread, which I suppose could be simplistically stated as "people don't value what I value and I don't know how to make myself match their values", and then twisted that with a myopic/self-absorbed attitude of "people should value what I value" (which is, I think, where the entitlement comes from), you'd get approximately Neanderthal Theory. If that seems right (though of course I am never entirely sure that it does), then perhaps there's also a lead for dismantling bits and pieces from their roots buried somewhere in this story.

I'm tempted to just say people shouldn't project their own views/expectations of morality on others or become caustic when other people fail to live up to those lofty expectations, but that's kind of like saying other people should value what I value. Razz
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Post by Mel on Mon Jan 12, 2015 5:35 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:But I am the guy who can't help feeling just a tiny bit vindicated when I make the observation: "Dude is a guy who either has no sense of other people's boundaries or enjoys pushing them, and Friend has some pretty firm boundaries and for good reason," and four to six months later I never see Dude again.

Doesn't that indicate, though, that being respectful of boundaries is a baseline (for that woman) for dating, and that it just took her time to figure out that this guy was disrespectful of boundaries for whatever reason (because he came across as respectful in other ways/she chalked it up to cluelessness rather than disrespect/???)? I mean, if she was perfectly happy with everything about him, then presumably she wouldn't have broken up with him. It's always easier to notice the flaws in someone when you're watching from outside the relationship.

I definitely get that it's frustrating to feel that he's being given at least a chance to date despite his flaws whereas yours seem to be stopping you completely, but giving someone a chance/the benefit of the doubt is different from not valuing a characteristic at all.
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Post by Enail on Mon Jan 12, 2015 5:39 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:The baseline for dating is somewhere other than not being a jerk. And by that what I mean is: I have faults. I definitely have faults. But I don't see how my faults are worse than or far outside of, as Eselle put it, the median human's grab bag of faults. It bugs me that the faults I can't stand in other people are also faults that I might be better off having instead. Perhaps if I acted loud and pushy and arrogant I'd read as more energetic and passionate and enthusiastic and I'd at least have a different failure point to work on.

I think that makes sense, and also points to part of where this mindset runs aground. Other than a (for most people) fairly short set of total dealbreakers, people tend to date more based on strengths than on faults. So looking at it as "why are these faults tolerated and not those," misses the point. Which is not to say that "why are these strengths not appreciated and those ones are," is necessarily any less frustrating a feeling, but I think it leads to some more useful ways of moving forward at least.

More generally about the 'pushing boundaries' thing, I think that kind of being pushy is one that tends to be considered within the bounds of appropriateness in our culture, to the point where many people don't even notice it as a negative thing at all. Of course, many people do dislike it personally, and I think most people who spend much time thinking about consent and social norms consider it anywhere from rude to huge red flag. But I don't think that's the dominant view of it in society at large.
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