Friday, April 30, 2010

I Will Love Your Words

Sadly, haven't met any women with THIS take on men of late:

Perhaps the 'type' doesn't 'do' online dating, and certainly Toronto isn't a fertile 'breeding ground' for them!  ;-p

Here's something that the words above, and some positive empowerment from my distant muse, brought to mind, first given to me by another supporter who believes in little old me:
Our Deepest Fear
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
By: Marianne Williamson from "A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles"

Monday, April 26, 2010

Instincts Shouldn't Have Anything to do With Dating!

Comment to a article by Ami Angelowicz: "Girl Talk: Where Have My Dating Instincts Gone?"
OK, I’m likely to take a thrashing from you lovely ladies, but in response to “Advice, anyone?” I have a question, Ami. Who ever told you that instincts had anything to do with dating? 
Instincts are important, they help us survive, like when you get attacked in a dark alley. They have a place in ‘going with your gut’ when in a Casino — but that’s about GAMBLING, casting your fate to chance.  
I’d suggest that you first heard this sage advice from your parents or grandparents. Times have changed. Back in their time, you married your first love (selected ‘by instinct’) and society put HEAVY pressure on you to stay that way.  
No one stays married today, we were never designed to. As a species we evolved to be serially monogamous, as I touched upon in “What You Want MOST in a Man is What You Need Least...”.

A relationship is like a business partnership, it lasts a long while, involves a lot of investment of time and money, and often involves serious responsibilities like kids and property ownership. You’d never hear any experienced business person tell you to select a strong business partner by ‘trusting your instincts’. You’d research and interview the candidates several times over time, getting to know them in different circumstances before making a call.

Seasoned veterans, if you told them the candidate put you off at your first meeting, would tell you to give him a chance (“He’s often nervous with new people”). They’d say “watch him cutting a deal, meet him a few times for coffee, invite him to a dinner party and watch him work a room.” They’d tell you to give the candidate a business problem to solve that is up his alley, then let him deliver a pitch a week later. After doing all that over a period of many weeks or months, THEN they’d tell you to trust your instincts before agreeing to a long-term commitment.

Treat dates like casual interviews, give him a second if you liked the first, but only trust your instincts after a few meet-ups. Too many women (and some men) expect far too much from a single meeting. Some of the best relationships started with getting to know the other person casually, over time. (That being said, if he grosses you out…)
What ever happened to double dating? Dating with 2 or 3 other couples for the first date reveals so much more about each other while taking so much of the pressure off. It also provides a chance to get others’ impressions afterwards.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Do Girls Really Prefer Assholes? (And Are Those Guys REALLY Assholes?)

Interesting discussion on about this post: "Does anyone else think that the "Girls always go for assholes and not nice guys like me" sentiment is just a very bitter defence mechanism?" which I found because someone posted a link to my "300 Criteria for a Second Date? Need I Say More!" post.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s drawing of an asshole from "Breakfast of Champions":

My contribution to the conversation:
What a lot of this ignores is the percentage of guys (and gals) out there who score very low on the "EQ" (emotional quotient) scale = 'assholes' or 'bad boys'. They aren't intentionally mean spirited and self-centered, they're just wired that way. (I illustrated the phenomenon the post immediately below.) You can see evidence of the more or less 10-15% of the general population who fall into this category in the percentage of comments from them in this thread here on

If you mix good looks with high IQ and low EQ, you get an asshole, a guy who uses his smarts and lack of shyness (i.e. not 'confidence', per se, but a lack of embarrassment) to learn over time what to say to seduce women with wit and flattery, have sex with them and then move on. These guys are often called "dangerous" and "dark and mysterious", while in reality a lot of them are just high-functioning autistics. 
The maternal and romantic side of most women provokes them to try to bring out the emotional side of these men with love and devotion. It will never work. There's a few of this type of guy who have commented in this thread saying they're quite successful with women, but have no desire to have long-term relationships (of course some have legitimate other reasons for not wanting them at the moment).

If you mix good looks with low IQ AND low EQ, you get the guys who have written inappropriate and totally insensitive sexual comments in this thread. They're not intentionally being inappropriate, their brains just can't distinguish the difference and their compulsions drive them to get a thrill out of posting a 'dirty' comment.

The female asshole equivalent, the BFH (Bitch From Hell), tells guys of every type to go to hell when they approach her, but sucks in a few select guys and uses them for company, sex and ego-boosting (and gifts), then dumps them unceremoniously for the next guy without a second thought. I dated one for almost a year once (Some of the best sex in my life!  Go figure...), only finding out later she had five (5!) other guys on the go during that time. She married the one with the richest daddy (who had very average IQ and low EQ -- not that she noticed or cared).

What's most telling in this discussion, I think, is that the crux is NOT that girls are or aren't attracted to assholes at clubs, bars and parties, where alcohol and hormones drive snap decision-making about having sex that same night, it is that they might go on a second and third date with the assholes, which introduces a very disturbing element into what women are setting themselves up for. Most women do not recognize the way they overlap 'bad boy' criteria with 'nice guy' criteria. They want the nice guy, but often dismiss them up-front because they don't have sufficient 'bad boy' characteristics to make them 'sexy' (read: 'confident' and 'mysterious').  (For more thoughts on the latter, read: "What You Want Most in a Man, You Need Least!")

Lori Gottlieb, the journalist who wrote "Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough", points out that the average woman has 300 criteria for agreeing to a second date, while men have three. I wrote more about this phenomenon here: "300 Criteria for a Second Date! Need I Say More?".
The point that Gottlieb and I have been making is that, until women come to grips with what is driving their 'selection criteria' and separate their fantastical desires from their reality needs in their search for a relationship, ESPECIALLY in online dating, they're dooming themselves to frustration and failure.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Problem with Labeling People

I watched an episode of "Bones" the other day that was poignant (for me and thousands of others, it's safe to say, having stumbled upon an intense online conversation about the episode on Pop Watch).  I was married to a Bones for many years (no, not the actual character, but very much the same type of person her character is based on, and I'll get back to why what I've just done is so misleading -- read my account of Rex the Dog first meeting her here) and learned a lot about the challenges, pitfalls and brick walls these brilliant individuals face, as well as difficulties the tragic folks who attempt to partner with them have to deal with. I also learned the truth about 'labels' that psychologists and, more and more commonly today, lay people, use to describe unique individuals.

The problem with labels is that most of us throw them around as though the label is the individual's personality. Maybe I'm not being very clear. What I mean is that, once we ascribe a label to someone, we stop thinking about them as a complex amalgam of traits and, smugly (quite frankly), assume we've got a clear picture and stop trying to understand them, their complexities, their more subtle strengths and weaknesses. They become lumped into the 'cookie cutter' personality type that describes what the average person diagnosed with that label has.

What TV shows like Bones, Monk and even Macgyver do is actually dig deep into the inner workings of complex personalities and exploit them to create an ongoing narrative without coming out and stating what the 'label' is that these individuals would be painted with if they took a standard psychological profile. These shows actually do a much better job at demonstrating just how unique an individual with, for example, Asperger's Syndrome, can be from others with the same diagnosis than most people do after having watched the show, yet most folks tend to assume that, having 'got to know' Bones, they know exactly what others with that diagnosis are like, intimately. So often I hear people say "Oh yeah, I know what he/she must be like, I've seen a few episodes of Bones.

What I think most people on the planet never 'get' is that 'labeled' individuals are not unfortunate victims of fate who 'were born with a disability,' or 'came down with a problem,' or even 'succumbed to a weakness.' These unique people don't 'have' something, they're merely more at the extreme end of a series of 'sliding scales' of personality traits than you or me. We ALL have all of the same traits, just at a different level. YOU 'have' ADHD, uncontrollable rage issues and anorexia, though testing might never put you on 'the spectrum'. I have all of them, too, just to varying (perhaps negligible) degrees.

One of my clients, one of several who struggle with Founder's Syndrome (the latter is a 'label' describing successful entrepreneurs, MANY of whom have what is called ADHD and use it to accomplish much more breadth and depth of business start-up steps than average people do), in her initial 'defensive/denial' phase of dealing with this new information, angrily 'projected' back onto me: "You're telling me I have ADHD, I don't! YOU do! I know people who have it, I'm not one of them!" To which I kind of smiled and replied: "Well of COURSE I have ADHD! We all do to some extent. Mine is fairly high -- just not high enough to be a successful millionaire..." (Note that what is called ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is really mixed with a very high degree of OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, in the individuals who end up doing quite well in business, I'm convinced.)

I suspect my client did not understand me, however, as she's busy trying to avoid the stigmatism that most people think comes with being labeled.  I get that, hence this post.

Here's the thing, there is no such thing as a 'normal' person.  There is a 'normal' median on every scale of personality extremes and there is a theoretical center point when we merge all the scales together, but no human being, with all our individual eccentricities and predilections, is at the exact middle on every scale.  To illustrate, here are a few 'scales' to think about:

Now there are not really an infinite number of these scales, but there are a HUGE number of subtly different scales (e.g. the 'jealous scale' being different than the 'envious scale').  When you start lumping together (weighting) any individual's strongest scores, you end up with (I'm visualizing) an egg-shape  that is more heavily skewed in one direction than someone else's 'egg':

Now we commonly think that all of us can work hard to be a better employee and push our scores toward the right on every attribute, but the reality is that on any scale, there's actually going to be a 'bell curve' wherein the average people score around the center and only a few people are a naturally good 'fit' for the extreme ends of any given scale:

When you think about this bell curve phenomena and what the scale would look like if we selected only the people you who score high on certain attributes we want in hiring a retail team of staff, for example, the 2-D visuals would look like this:

Given that none of us are 'normal,' however, it's impossible that we'd end up with consistency in this group. Despite the fact we selected for high scores on all these attributes, one individual might score well as an ideal employee, but might have one attribute that throws their 'egg-shape' off (unbalances it):

(The scale above originated at the time that a Tim Horton's Coffee Shop employee in Canada was fired for giving a crying child a small piece of doughnut.  What emerged in the ensuing discussion was a study that identified the 26% of employees convicted of theft who, when asked, said they'd steal from their employers again if they got the chance.  Many of them were good employees on other measures, but they couldn't shake their feeling that, as workers being 'exploited' by a profitable employer, their company could afford to provide them with additional benefits. On the 'moral/ethical scale,' they'd likely score low.)

The only way to really visualize an individual's full personality spectrum would be in 3-D (but I don't have the resources!).  Essentially our complex individual 3-D shapes would, given each of our tendencies to be more one way than another, a lumpy blob, with some people looking neatly egg-shaped, while others might have many bumps and spikes, or even blobs on spikes.  Here's the example above in an attempt to bring the 2-D to life (mouse over and use the 'pause' button if it's going too fast):

The point, however, is that we are ALL on each scale, the one that has uncontrollable rage issues at one end, the one that has ADHD, the one with antisocial, the schizophrenia scale, autism, dyslexia, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), genius (IQ), etc.  Being labeled with one of these extremes doesn't mean you cannot score high (or low) on another scale that would surprise the psychologists, even if most of the people with one diagnosis TEND to not be high (or low) on other specific scales.  Some people who have Asperger's Syndrome are very romantic, or very sexually charged (TV's "Bones" claims to be GIB!), but most aren't.  Many people with ADHD are really clever, many are not.

My point?  People can't be pigeon-holed, not even people who happen to fall into a specific 'label'. Our human brains are just too complex to be conveniently and simply labeled and categorized.  So next time you find yourself, or someone else, assuming a lot about the personality or predilections of anyone who has been 'labeled', just keep in mind they're likely to surprise you!  Many low-functioning autistics are WAY smarter than the people who look down on them, as Charlie  learned of his brother Raymond in the movie "Rainman".

November 2013 Addendum:  Something had been niggling around in the back of my brain regarding Pareto distribution of individuals who fall into a specific, complex combination of being at the extreme end of many bell curves of spectrums, leading them to be diagnosed as, for example, psychopathic serial killers.  What finally popped into my brain was the fact NOT that a reversed Pareto distribution curve fits neatly into the extreme end on either side of a bell curve, but rather that the points on a Pareto distribution represent the points where, crossing over in three dimensions, the spectrums that lead to a diagnosis intersect.  Tough to illustrate without 3-D animation, but here is a typical Pareto distribution (ignoring the subject matter):

I'm noodling on it.  A better explanation of what I'm getting at will come....

September 2016 Addendum:

While I had the insight back in 2013, it wasn't till now that I had the chance to sit down and come up with a better visualization.  I worked for many years with a narcissistic psychopath (independent scoring on the PCL-R by 6 of her longtime employees came back consistently above 33) who was also a high functioning autistic and had extreme OCD/ADHD (of the latter you rarely see one without the other, and this may be true of the most extreme narcissistic psychopaths who may always exhibit autistic traits).  She was brilliant at memorizing things, including medical procedures (she is a medical practitioner), but cannot figure out a conceptual problem to save herself (or her patients).

She has zero empathy, other than the learned type that autistics pick up on and memorize, but an equally strong determination to excel at practicing her trade.  She is virtually totally self-absorbed (examples abound, like asking "How was your weekend?" then clearly zoning out and never listening).  She had tremendous difficulty with focus and continues to walk off to make unimportant phone calls in the middle of procedures on a patient because "I'll forget to do this if I don't do it right now", then evidences no recognition of patients' annoyance or pain upon returning.   

Now this female psychopath would never be a serial killer, despite having a bunch of combined, or overlapping traits.  So why do very few of the quite numerous psychopaths living among us never 'become' (or start off being) serial killers?  I believe the distribution illustration above explains it.  Take a look at this illustration:

My point here, falling out of my theorizing in the article above, is that for far too long we have, as we humans tend to do, been talking about 'personality disorders' as unique from each other.  I don't believe they are.  We are ALL on every single spectrum, but given that the Pareto Distribution of people on any bell curve dictates that MOST people are on the average to low side of the diagnosable individuals, we tend to believe that those who are diagnosed are somehow uniquely, and extremely, disadvantaged.  Most are, but in many cases I believe that they 'cross over' into the most narrow segment of the bell curve for that spectrum only because they happen to be on one or the other extreme ends on related, intersecting spectrums.

But that's just one cynic's opinion...

Friday, April 9, 2010

What You Want MOST in a Man is What You Need Least: Superman & Clark Kent Rarely Come in One Package!

Sorry ladies, I'm about to ruin your day (life?) again with some typical male (vs. female) analytical theorizing.  In conferring back and forth with a close female confidante with similar life experiences to my own (and an admittedly similar eclectic take on life and sexuality) something occurred to me in looking back to the relationships I've had, both the intensely sexual and the intensely close, emotional ones.  (Spoiler: they don't cross-over.)

Reading a lot of recent discoveries being made in the realm of brain science and the distinct differences between the sexes (the recent CNN broadcast of the Larry King Show episodes with Jeff Probst hosting on the subject of Male Infidelity: Is it Hard Wired were particularly elucidating -- click here for link), as well as my long history of reading about the subject, there's something that keeps striking me.  An 'undercurrent' that keeps coming up in the back of my mind as the debate unfolds.

Now this is just MY theory, folks, but looking back on both my experience, that of my confidante and so many others (Tiger Woods and Jesse James being recent male celebrity examples), it seems as though there is a universal truth emerging.  To get to it we have to dispel one 'universal fallacy' upfront, however.

Just who are all these 'happily married' men cheating with?  Think about that, especially you ladies.  Do the math.  There are slightly more females in the world than men.  Only a small percentage of those females are prostitutes.

In anonymous surveys conducted year after year, married women report that almost as many of them as their male counterparts have cheated on their husbands.  While the infidelity is normally based more upon emotional reasons when it comes to women than men, they are still cheating.  Of course they are, otherwise who would it be that all those husbands are having sex with?  The slight variation of more men than women cheating is either due to 'little white lies,' prostitutes, single women having sex with NUMEROUS married men, or a few married women who sleep around A LOT!  In the end, it's not important, the point is that the majority of married men AND women cheat at some point in their marriages.  It's human  nature.

We were never intended to be monogamous.  Monogamy is a very modern conceit,


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