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?

Marriage.

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 (personal experience speaking here).

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).

“I hate him:” Don’t get married unless you’re ready for hate

The best arguments for men not marrying actually come from women. Like “The Married Mom Who Fantasizes About the School Principal,” who writes:

Then my husband flips over, grunting beside me. The disturbance yanks me out of my fantasy. He farts. Buzzkill. I hate him.

In case you didn’t know, she hates him:

He’s snoring. He’s loud and gross. He smells bad. I hate him. I do. We’ve been married for nearly 20 years. I constantly think about moving into one of our rental properties, but I don’t for various, legitimate reasons. That, and I’m good at faking it.

Did you know that two decades of working and supporting a woman can lead her to hate you? If you don’t, then you’ve probably not met very many divorced guys.

Marriage today is a high-risk, low-reward proposition. Now, I don’t know the guy in question, so many he is weak guy who naturally generates a woman’s scorn. But maybe he’s a fine guy and his wife is just tired of mating in captivity (a book written by a woman, by the way).

Clearly, this woman is heading towards divorce or at the very least having affairs. When she does divorce her husband, she’ll like get half his assets, a large portion of his earnings going forward, and child support.

Why would a man agree to this state of affairs?

If he’s smart, he won’t.

Another golden article, “I Love My Boyfriend, But I Can’t Stop Cheating!“, is a warning to men about marriage. If she’s a good cheater, you might not know that she’s cheating for a very long time, if ever.

I have a post coming on the new Nassim Taleb book Skin in the Game, and marriage is the ultimate institution in which women have no skin in the game and men have all the skin in the game. The only way to win such a game is not to play.

Guys may wonder why a blog that’s primarily about game discusses marriage so much. The reason is easy: I’m old enough to see lots of my friends and colleagues divorcing. Divorce is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a man. Almost all the divorces are initiated by the wives, one way or another. Every marriage starts out full of hope.

In my view, men are better off with consensual non-monogamy in which they have a share in the action than the non-consensual kind that is currently common. This isn’t a popular view, but more men should at least consider it. The only difference between many women and the “I Love My Boyfriend, But I Can’t Stop Cheating!” is that the “Can’t Stop Cheating” woman is slightly more honest with herself.

“You cannot negotiate genuine desire.”

You cannot negotiate genuine desire” is one of the most important concepts in game and life. The actual title of Rollo’s post is “Transactional vs. validation sex,” but “You cannot negotiate genuine desire.” Pretty much any guy who’s been in a long-term relationship will relate to the point.

Guys who haven’t been in a long-term relationship should be working on their game rather than reading about the distant future, but once game starts working it’s a good idea to know what the future holds.

 

Stories about midlife divorce are cautionary stories about why younger guys shouldn’t marry

You may not believe this, but I think you should read Eat Pray Lovebecause it demonstrates what goes through a woman’s mind when she blows up her relationship and everything that most women are told to strive to accomplish for going off and fucking randoms (that is not how the book is conventionally framed but that is a good reading of it). You also don’t want to marry chicks who are “creative,” because “creative” means she’s a restless slut. Great to f**k, bad to marry.

Once you realize that women are valorized by the culture for both marrying and for divorcing, any residual desire you may feel about marrying should dissipate.

The latest example in this saga is from The Emancipation of the MILF, concerning Claire Dederer’s book Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning,

About six years ago, Claire Dederer realized she had a problem. The problem had to do with sex. It had to do with desire. It had to do with being a middle-aged wife and mother and needing and wanting to be seen and known by new people in a new way, maybe even by people she didn’t particularly like or love or respect all that much. Her problem had something to do with sex but didn’t stop there.

In other words, women feel the call of the wild much like men do, and they are willing to blow up their marriages to answer that call. Solution: Don’t marry in the first place.

I don’t know that I believe this,

By modern standards, the author’s misbehavior is mild — there is no marriage-destroying, Eat, Pray, Love–style romance or affair. Instead, she yearns and flirts; she stays out late and takes vacations with her best friend instead of her husband; she has a slew of inappropriate email friendships with various suitors, and at her most reckless, allows an unnamed, famous short story writer from California to stick his tongue in her mouth

And even if I do, why marry a woman who is going to yearn and flirt with someone else anyway? Better not to give her access to half or more of your assets.

How odd it is to exist in this moment of so many contradictions when it comes to our thinking about female sexuality. “We’re living at a time,” I said to her, “when women, some women, some young women, have more sexual freedom than ever before. It’s sort of okay now to not get married. It’s sort of okay to say you don’t want to have kids. It’s sort of okay to have sex with other women, or to have sex with men and women, or to be into kink, or to be sex-positive, or polyamorous, or whatever

It’s “okay” to not get married. So don’t get married.

You can have kids without marrying. I have.

Lately I’ve also been slowing down on the game. I just don’t get the thrill from bedding women that I used to and now I find that time spent with my kids is much more fulfilling for me and for them than the time I might be spending chasing and sleeping with women.

Back on point, there is another useful article, ‘We Choose Each Other Over and Over Because We Want to’: Readers Share Their Open-Marriage Stories,

To tell this story with the kind of depth that it requires, you need to tell the story of those for whom nonmonogamy didn’t work out. In my case, after more than 10 years of marriage and two kids, my wife fell for someone else, and I agreed to open up the marriage.

In retrospect, I never really had a choice, and this was the beginning of the end of the marriage.

Now many red pill guys are vehemently opposed to non-monogamy. I do not share your feelings for reasons I mention here. To me non-monogamy done well is really next level pickup artistry in which guys share high-quality women for the benefit of all, like good ideas are shared by great scientists in order to further the scientific quest. I am never likely to attempt to be monogamous again. It’s not practical for me and based on the data not practical for a wide swath of the population. But I have never married and will never marry. If you practice non-monogamy without the economic bonds of marriage it is likely to work out much better for you. If you are married and non-monogamous then you’ve fucked up and just don’t realize it yet.

As you know I am vehemently opposed to marriage. The poor sap in the NYT story likely had half his assets stripped from him and has decades of “child” support in front of him. His ex will likely get full custody of the kids. In the modern era marriage is just stupid and dangerous, especially as conscious non-monogamy grows. He could have had kids without getting married and without getting as financially entangled with a wife.

Some of the guys here evince a misty nostalgia for a past era of relatively strong monogamy. I doubt that era was all that good (everyone had kids way young and got used up fast, men and women both) but whether it was or wasn’t it’s over. The only real way to protect yourself today is to not get married. As mentioned above I love non-monogamy, but I would probably not do it if I were also entangled in marriage and taking the risks marriage imposes.

“Young Americans Are Killing Marriage: Millennials are lagging behind on the traditional markers of adulthood”

Young Americans Are Killing Marriage: Millennials are lagging behind on the traditional markers of adulthood” has interesting data:

In 1980, two-thirds of 25- to 34-year-olds were already married. One in eight had already been married and divorced. In 2015, just two in five millennials were married, and only 7 percent had been divorced.

Baby boomers’ eagerness to get married meant they were far more likely than today’s young people to live on their own. Anderson looked at the share of each generation living independently, either as heads of their own household or in married couples.

The author says “There’s no shortage of theories as to how and why today’s young people differ from their parents,” but I think the low marriage rate has a simpler explanation: a lot of guys have wised up to how fucking crazily dangerous it is to get married.

Read Real World Divorce, because it explains just how costly and disgusting real-world divorce is. Smart guys look around at what happens to the other men around them and don’t get married.

The marriage market is composed of two large groups: The first group is guys who do well with women and don’t have any problems getting laid or finding girlfriends. For them, there’s no reason to get married even though lots of women want to marry them.

The second group is a larger pool of guys who would get married, but most women don’t like them much and won’t marry them, or will marry and then divorce them. Many of you probably were those guys at one point in time (I wasn’t quite that bad, though I’ve made my share of errors).

Not every guy fits perfectly into one category or the other.

Guys with solid game and some grasp of the cultural and legal climate won’t bother marrying. Guys without it will want to but women often find them repulsive. Then women lament about how they can’t find “eligible” men who want to marry. No shit. I wonder why.

One of the top-rated comments on the original for this post says, “You can have a LTR and start a family. But dear jesus never get . . . married. You have been warned.”

Good advice.

Marriage is one of the best and fastest ways to destroy your wealth and life. It is a horrible debt trap that many men stupidly sleepwalk into.

“Supply, Demand, and the Rise of the Man-Child:” Lessons

Supply, Demand, and the Rise of the Man-Child” describes how our society has changed from past to present. I don’t know when the inflection point happened but I would guess it to be in the 70s,

Consider a traditional society where all the men sell their labor and all the women keep house. You might think there’s only one market, but there are actually two: The labor market and the mating market. Men use their wages to supplement their masculine charms (if any) when they woo. In the labor market, the compensation that employers offer workers adjusts to balance the supply and demand for labor. In the mating market, the quality of life that men offer women adjusts to balance the supply and demand for women.*

Thrown down buddy,

Next question: What happens if we move this model into the modern world? Specifically, what happens in the mating market when women start earning money of their own? The obvious answer is just to flip the initial model around. If higher wages for men lead to higher quality of life for women, we’d expect higher wages for women to lead to higher quality of life for men. And what do most men see as a “higher quality of life”? Among other things: Less commitment, lower maturity, and lower expectations of financial support. In short, the chance to be a man-child.

Feminists wanted women to be able to earn their own money, which they can now do (and that is good, because we should remove structural barriers that prevent entire classes of people from competing for whatever it is they want). But that has consequences and in the aggregate changes the preferences of women

The upshot: Women’s demand for men isn’t just higher than ever; the composition of their demand has changed. Income and income potential still matter. But women now focus more on looks, machismo, coolness, and other “alpha” traits. Holding charisma constant, working harder just doesn’t attract women the way it used to. The result: Less desirable men often give up on women altogether – further tilting the effective male/female ratio in favor of the remaining men. And both kinds of men act like boys: The less desirable men have little to lose, and the more desirable men can get away with it.

So

When women have zero labor income, you’d expect them to care a lot about men’s income. They might even marry men they loathe to get a roof over their heads. As women’s income rises, however, women can afford to focus more on men’s non-pecuniary traits.

Caplan has already done the analysis. It is important to learn how you should adjust your own behavior based on prevailing conditions. Today, families and government make sure that women are fed, clothed, and housed to their satisfaction. The model Caplan offers has important implication for guys who are debating how to invest their limited time, money, energy, and other resources. All of us face trade-offs and our lives are defined by scarcity. What we do with scarce resources defines us.

Many guys have been told by their parents, society, or women that if they play by the “rules,” which are not readily articulated but add up to something like respect rules and authority, get a good education and then a good job and then everything will happen for you. But a lot of guys want first and foremost hot sex with hot women and many guys are surprised when the rules and guidelines they’re taught don’t lead to hot sex with hot women, while a lot of guys who naturally discard those rules and focus on sports and popularity get a lot of action.

Guys see scumbags getting laid all over and they start to realize that being an okay guy in an okay job isn’t that desirable to most women. WTF? What happened?

Guys who try to follow the old script get frustrated. Being a plodding, reliable, good earner isn’t enough most of the time. Women can earn money for themselves easily and even those who can’t still often prefer thrilling bad boys over stolid reliable dudes with average jobs, average bodies, and average personalities. Women will settle for those guys when they get older and/or can’t get commitment from guys who turn them on.

As a guy, you need to think about what you want. If you want more sex, you need to invest in body, wit, pleasure, and hedonism over job, conventional worker-based status, and stability. Choose a job that pays a little less for a little less work over a job that pays more but leaves you stunted, exhausted, and too tired to get laid (what are you working so hard for, anyway? Unless you make real big $$$$$ women won’t care anyway. Don’t you know that you can’t buy her love? I think that is even true.)

I will not tell you to discard any job or career focus. That is a mistake too and many scumbags come to ill ends or cannot keep going forever. But scumbags often get laid more and good guys who allocate their efforts poorly often do poorly with women. They end up working and being taxed to death so that single moms with poor impulse control and judgment can easily have children out of wedlock with random dudes. This leads to “Radicalizing the Romanceless” outcomes

Or to spell it out very carefully, Henry clearly has no trouble attracting partners. He’s been married five times and had multiple extra-marital affairs and pre-marital partners, many of whom were well aware of his past domestic violence convictions and knew exactly what they were getting into. Meanwhile, here I was, twenty-five years old, never been on a date in my life, every time I ask someone out I get laughed at, I’m constantly teased and mocked for being a virgin and a nerd whom no one could ever love, starting to develop a serious neurosis about it.

And here I was, tried my best never to be mean to anyone, pursued a productive career, worked hard to help all of my friends. I didn’t think I deserved to have the prettiest girl in school prostrate herself at my feet. But I did think I deserved to not be doing worse than Henry.

Be more like Henry and less like Dan. These guys can be called “man-children,” as Caplan does, or they can be called “guys who have responded to incentives and realized that incentives reward hedonism while punishing everyone else.” Women don’t care that much about income, especially for short-term relationships, so guys should maximize the shit women do care about (if they want to get laid). Watch what women do (and who they have sex with) versus what they say (and who they don’t have sex with). Action is all.

Be a fun-loving bad boy with lots of lovers and a good solid squat and good dancing skills over the stolid guy sitting in a cubicle somewhere.

Practical tips from “Real World Divorce:” “Don’t slide into marriage”

Most of this post is not me! It’s from Real World Divorce, a book by Alexa Dankowski, Suzanne Goode, Philip Greenspun, Chaconne Martin-Berkowicz, and Tina Tonnu. The most important part is: “What’s her best advice to people hoping to have a lifelong marriage?” And the answer: “Don’t slide into marriage. When you move in or have a child together, do it on purpose,” which is one of the things I’ve done right in my life. I’ve never gotten married, and although I’ve been rammed by the so-called “family court” system, at least I haven’t gotten hit with the alimony too:

“Marriage used to be something you did first and then you built your life on that,” said Bryndl Hohmann-Marriott, an American sociologist currently teaching at University of Otago. “Now it is a capstone event that you do after you achieve other things. This results in people waiting until they are much older to have children. In New Zealand right now there are more women age 35-39 having children than women 20-25.”

In light of Professor Hohmann-Marriott’s observation, staying married is more important than it used to be because people are getting married at an age where they have fewer remaining years in which to recover from a mistake.

Hofmann-Marriott’s research, in collaboration with Professor Paul Amato at Penn State, shows that there are plenty of divorces in marriages that are just as happy as those that continue for decades. “Nothing distinguished the quality of marriage for those people who got divorced out of low-distress [nobody hitting anyone] marriages,” Professor Hohmann-Marriott told us, “so it has to be just a lack of personal commitment to the institution of marriage that explains some divorces.” What’s her best advice to people hoping to have a lifelong marriage? “Don’t slide into marriage. When you move in or have a child together, do it on purpose.”

Based on our interviews with attorneys, psychologists, and sociologists, as well as our review of the literature, a good starting point is to find people who have a cultural or religious commitment to marriage. They are the ones who will be willing to put in some work and effort when there are bumps in the road, rather than picking up the phone to call a litigator. At the other end of the spectrum are children of divorce who are themselves prone to becoming divorced. “If she didn’t have a close and loving relationship with her daddy,” we were told, “she isn’t going to be able to handle being a wife.” This perspective is echoed in the psychology literature. From Father-Daughter Relationships: Contemporary Research and Issues (Nielsen 2012): “Which mothers are the least likely to be gatekeepers? Generally speaking, mothers who keep the coparenting gate open share several things in common (Titelman, 2008; Cannon, 2008; Chiland, 1982; Krampe & Newton, 2006; Pleck & Masciadrelli, 2010). First, these mothers had good relationships with their fathers while they were growing up. They value and appreciate fathers. They believe men and women should be equal parents. In contrast, the gatekeepers more often grew up in single-parent, divorced, or unhappily married families. Their relationships with their fathers were distant, troubled, or virtually nonexistent.” Most states’ divorce courts substantially reward gatekeeper mothers by awarding custody to the “historical primary caregiver” of a child. By definition a gatekeeper mother will have been the dominant parent during a marriage.

The research of Brinig and Allen shows that your chance of being sued for divorce rises with the amount of money that your spouse can get from you and with the probability that your spouse can win sole custody of the children. You can increase your chances of staying married, therefore, by marrying someone wealthier than yourself and by ensuring that you are not in a jurisdiction where the other spouse can easily get sole custody of the children (e.g., if you’re a man, try to settle in Arizona or Delaware).