Skin in the game, marriage, The Red Pill

The new Nassim Nicholas Taleb book Skin in the Game explains why men shouldn’t marry. Men have a lot of skin in the marriage game and women have none. But you should not trust many of Taleb’s specific claims; he likes calling so many other people charlatans that you begin to wonder about his own status.

Taleb gives many examples of asymmetric risk and situations where people have skin in the game. His knowledge of skin in the game comes from his own experiences. “In an option, one person (the buyer of the option), contractually has the upside (future gains), the other (the seller) has a liability for the downside (future losses), for a pre-agreed price. Just as in an insurance contract, where risk is transferred for a fee. Any meaningful disruption of such symmetry—with transfer of liabilities—invariably leads to an explosive situation, as we saw with the economic risis of 2008.”

You know where most women have no skin in the game, leading to an explosive situation?


When a woman gets and stays married for some period of time, she has access to half her husband’s financial resources (assuming that he makes more than her). If the couple buy property together, she will likely keep the property in a divorce. If they have children, in most states, she will get automatic custody, along with child support, possibly until the child is 22.

A woman who marries gets a ton of optionality.

What does the man get?

Sex? No. That’s at the woman’s discretion. And guys are much better off learning game than attempting to mate in captivity. Most women’s erotic attraction to a man declines rapidly with cohabitation.

Money? Maybe, if he marries a woman who is a substantially higher earner than him, but that is rare.

Fidelity? If he is lucky, maybe. He may not be so lucky. You cannot negotiate genuine desire.

Love? He doesn’t need a contract with the state to verify his love.

Now you know why older women may be eager to marry: she is financially incented to.

The man doesn’t get money, unless his wife makes more than he does. But if she quits or down-shifts her job, that will go away.

Taleb says, “asymmetry in risk bearing leads to imbalances and, potentially, to systemic ruin.” When a man marries, he is risking systemic ruin for… what? I have no idea and have never seen a good answer to this question.

Taleb says, “The notion of belief without sacrifice, which is tangible proof, is new in history.” Marriage is, for a woman, “belief without sacrifice.” She sacrifices nothing and asks the man to potentially sacrifice everything, up to and including his freedom. If the man cannot pay child support, he will likely be jailed, thus ensuring that he will lose his job and fall further behind. This is called “being a deadbeat dad.”

He may have children, but the woman and the medical system will resist DNA testing to make sure they are his (I had mine tested: they are mine).

Marriage can only barely, kind of make sense for a man who marries a woman who makes substantially more money than he does. Most women, of course, do not want to marry a man who makes less than they do, so that is a rare situation.

Women wonder why guys aren’t eager to get married without asking themselves, “What does the guy get out of marriage?” When marriage was the only legitimate way to access sex, and when the entire social structure revolved around marriage, marriage made sense. That period ended with the Sexual Revolution, the baby boomers, and second-wave feminism. Smart men today do not marry, which is all asymmetric risk for them. The woman has no skin in the game and the man has a lot. Don’t fall for this trap. Read Taleb. Read more real books and less Internet.

Don’t trust me either. Go talk to your divorced friends, or your dad’s divorced friends. Their testimony is ten times more valuable than what I have to say. Follow the links to Real World Divorce. Today, men who are foolish enough to sign up for marriage without understanding the legal risk they are taking almost deserve what they get. They are being grifted by women and by the larger society. Don’t be a mark. Be Fat Tony (but not fat).

Author: The Red Quest

How can we live and be in society?

4 thoughts on “Skin in the game, marriage, The Red Pill”

  1. Oh hey.

    Married guy here.

    You say that before guys get married they should ask their divorced friends’ opinions. I agree, but they should also seek out some happily married couples and get their input. They do exist, I know a few of them.

    That being said, as a happily married man, I would not recommend marriage to anyone. It is single handedly the hardest undertaking of my life.

    You will have the hardest time pursuing your life’s purpose if you’re married, because they both require so much energy and commitment. You will end up sacrificing one for the other if you aren’t careful.

    The dynamics are incredibly difficult to master, as well. While the core of people – our habits – don’t shift or change much over our lives, our beliefs and values can shift. And boy is it a wake up call when one day your wife starts expressing view and values that aren’t from your tribe.

    As far as why we even need marriage: The importance and reason for marriage isn’t hard to find if you take some time to think about it in a historical context.

    In the end marriage is important because stable families create stable societies. There is a reason it was so enforced over human history. Men are polygamous, women are hypergamous, and marriage enforces monogamy on both. It creates stability and foundation. It allows society to flourish and prosper. Humans are only successful when everyone in the group shares the same values.

    Unfortunately we no longer share values as a society. We’re so splintered and disparate. That, ultimately, makes marriage even harder.

    And because it’s still a staple of society, even if the average marriage disintegrates at year 6, a lot of women are ending up as single moms. They get married thinking its forever, get knocked up, and then get divorced. That’s bad for kids, and its bad for men. I know that I personally would never raise another man’s kid.

    I still believe marriage is important for society, and I still believe people should get married, I just wouldn’t recommend it currently.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good comment.

      In the end marriage is important because stable families create stable societies

      Let’s accept this as true (I’m not sure and have gone back and forth on it). Even if it is true at the macro level, guys still shouldn’t marry because the micro incentives are against them. Yes, it’s good to be a small part of building a stronger society. But the individual is taking a huge amount of risk in doing so.

      If we reform marriage laws to make them equitable and put some female skin in the game, then a guy should consider marriage because it helps build a stronger society.

      We’re a really long ways from that situation. I don’t see a practical way to get there from here. Feminists oppose marriage reform because they want to be able to take guys’ money. Among Red Pillers, the simple solution is not to marry at all. Who’s left to fight for it?


  2. Even if it is true at the macro level, guys still shouldn’t marry because the micro incentives are against them.

    Which is one of the reasons why, while I think it’s super important, I would never advise a guy to get married.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a fantastic post, and I wish dearly that I could make my plates that end up breaking understand this. Eventually, they all want more commitment–which I understand, this is their imperative–but I gain nothing. I lose access to other women, which ironically makes me less attractive to her as well. And in addition, I lose time, energy, etc., showing her all the things society says I should show her to convey my commitment.

    What’s funny, and this has been a very recent realization, is that the ironic truth is that women are better off–all women–getting married. The time in a woman’s life when she’s at peak SMV is a very, very short window compared to a man’s, and realistically, her best case is using that brief time period to lock down the hottest, most high quality guy she can find, because he’s only going to be an option for those brief, few years.

    However, that’s not what they want. Like children, they want what they want. I think there’s a useful comparison to how women behave in the sexual marketplace today and how children would behave in an amusement park with no cost, where all the food and candy was free. We all know what happens right? Without an adult to say, “no, you can’t eat whatever you want and go on rides you can’t handle” the kids go fucking nuts. Sometimes it’s amazing. Sometimes it’s really scary. Sometimes they just want to go home. But they can’t, because in the end, their emotional desire to be at the free amusement park overrides the whatever reasons they know they shouldn’t go there.

    My mother likes to ask me if I’m ever going to get married again, and I don’t have the heart to tell her the above, but the answer is no, and that’s why. Plus everything you explained about Talib’s point.


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