Non-monogamy and polyamory’s dark sides

Bo Winegard tweets,

Educated elites who believe that polyamory can be practiced and enjoyed by most of the population remind me of the math professor who believes differential equations are within the grasp of anyone who makes a serious attempt at learning.

There exists compelling research that normative monogamy is beneficial and leads to myriad positive social externalities.

Polyamory is fine as a niche relationship modality, practiced mostly among the extremely WEIRD [Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic].

He’s right, particularly regarding people who want real families (a topic we’ll come back to in a moment). Despite what you’ve read here, I buy this Bo Winegard argument… we’re also not willing as a society to have an honest conversation about what’s happening below the IQ median. The people driving the conversation at the top really don’t have any idea what’s happening down there, and choose deliberately not to. They don’t really understand what it’s like to not have the cognitive capacity to get top-end jobs or have the conversations non-monogamous people need if their relationships are going to survive.

Nash follows up with…

“Burning Man style: POLYAMORY is more standard than monogamy. Men get the variety they want. They think sharing their women and it’s a ‘form of love evolution’ (they are no longer jealous), but what is happening is it pretty much destroys most of those relationships.”

“In ‘Burning Man’ it’s fine to take off your clothes and dance around really sexually. If you were at your grandma’s house having dinner (or around children), and you did that, would it ‘open everyone’s heart?’ Or would it create a fiasco? It would create a fiasco.”

Those are from David Deida talks. Deida’s more right than wrong, right now… poly/open is a fiasco in all instances except, basically, as casual sex, which is how I do them. Some light swinging can work too, especially in very long term relationships (that get stale and need some more heat). A very small number of people can really do them as described. Mostly, “poly” and “open” are about rationalizing casual sex (which is how I use it… because it’s a form of normalizing and institutionalizing casual sex for me, I don’t get caught up on the terminology). In that post from two years ago, Nash said, “for me the ‘poly’ community is a fucking mess. I live in CA and I am surrounded by these folks… and it’s an ugly shitshow. I watch guys ‘try’ this all the time, and they are a fucking sad bunch, mostly.” “Mostly” he’s right. The guys doing this at the higher end are also focused on one guy and two women, and they often don’t highly advertise what they’re doing. Most top guys don’t want to advertise what they’re doing. A lot of chicks also don’t want to come out as sharing a guy with another chick.

Poly and open are (mostly) a disaster for people who really want families, cause kids are challenging enough w/o all that adult drama. For most people, in effect, poly is a way to f**k around, avoid commitment (avoidant attachment styles are everywhere in open relationships), and enjoy sexual novelty… things I have tended to enjoy… most guys don’t want to raise another man’s child (and won’t) and most chicks aren’t eager to raise another woman’s child (but might if the guy is good enough). People in “poly” relationships who think they’re going to “have a child” together usually discover that infants and toddlers are a lot of work, reduce the amount of sex had (for a couple years), and are a lot less “fun” (though often joyful…). So… there’s a strong tendency to split. Find someone new, unencumbered. Repeat this process enough and you get the epidemic of lonely old people we see in western societies. Even married couples tend to have problems adjusting to kids. The woman’s body often goes to hell, for months if not forever… having kids is a great thing, don’t get me wrong, but almost no one will do it for kids who aren’t theirs. A lot of women also peak in their late 20s and men in their late 30s, so there’s that mismatch, which can fuel jealousy. Some people out there appear to experience no or very little jealousy… with the Internet, they can find each other and also proselytize for open relationships, in a way that wasn’t possible before the Internet. The Internet lets us learn things and share them widely and also anonymously, and we can learn things we’d never publish in a newspaper or say on TV. 

In my own case… I’ve liked f**king around… and as I point out in the book, “open” relationships, “poly,” sex clubs… they’re a way to f**k around while retaining the girl, or the primary girl, cause most girls will want to define the relationship with the guy they’re f**king, relatively quickly. They’ll want to “lock him down” if you prefer that terminology (I often don’t, but girls use it). This is a way to keep a girl around, offer her super exciting experiences, but still have some of the prowl. For a guy who wants to be a player, this can be a powerful ideology and frame. I don’t want to pretend it doesn’t have huge costs, though. Many “poly” advocates are simply delusional about its costs, particularly in terms of family and children. Human societies are organized around family and kinship for good reasons. We’ve spent the last bunch of centuries trying to reorient around strangers and material goods. This has some good things associated with it but it has some costs, too. We’ve decided to elevate the individual over the family or community… which has some nice features… and some bad ones… we’re almost never willing to even state directly that this has happened.

There’s an argument kicking around the evolutionary biology communities, that intelligence didn’t really evolve to solve problems or be objectively “right,” but to form group coalitions and support a given narrative. That may be why “intelligent” people in an IQ sense may be better at self-delusion and maintaining narratives than less intelligent people. We see this especially in places like politics, where most people prefer tribe to knowledge. High-IQ poly people can convince themselves and sometimes others of their narrative, without having the desire to question their own narrative or discover what’s “underneath” it. The higher their IQ, the more “reasons” and rationalizations they can come up with. And many of those reasons are real… in specific circumstances. 

Poly is probably bad for societies, because it creates male winner-take-most systems. But as people become more individualistic and ever-less connected to family and place, we’re seeing the rise of alternate relationships styles. Like old-school Roissy used to say, “enjoy the decline.” Or figure out how to make it work. And there are also plenty of chicks out there who aren’t participating in the modern mating game… but they’re not the ones on the apps, out in bars, etc. They’re probably already in a relationship and meet men through family, school, and friends. They’re the girls who, if you’re not serious about a relationship and family, will disappear right away. Who will stick around if you’re not? That’s where the game comes from.

 

Two kinds of women in non-monogamy: The reluctant and the feral

I see a lot of women involved in various ways in non-monogamy, and the most common kind is a bit of a dabbler, and she’s more into forming relationships than hooking up. For this kind of girl, the kind most guys are familiar with, the girl is picky, random, and favors threeways and groups in theory, but she’s basically not that into it. In the right mood with the right situation, she’ll go for it, but more often than not she puts the brakes on things. This kind of girl is common apps, where her boyfriend is really directing things, and she’s just along for the ride… she might authorize some chitchat and send a “naughty” pic or two, but when it comes time to meet the other couple disappear, or something comes up and can they reschedule some other time?, etc. They’re like a lot of chicks players meet… they seem like prospects but fizzle out for reasons internal to them.

This type of girl is basically monogamous at heart, and for that reason she can also be dangerous if you’re cohabitating with her, or if you think you’re in a serious relationship with her… for her, non-monogamy may be a step in the branch-swing process. She finds another guy she likes, probably without the boyfriend’s approval, and because they’ve been to a few sex clubs, it doesn’t count, so why not go on that date with him, see where things lead… then she tells the boyfriend they’ve grown apart and she moves hard on the other guy.

That doesn’t always happen of course, and sometimes she’s just not that into the excitement of other people, so she’ll only be into switching if everything lines up for her (usually it doesn’t).

The other kind of girl is a true slut (in the sex-positive sense of the word) who loves f**king and f**king in groups. Her default answer is yes and her default mode is towards more f**king. This type of girl is rarer, but, if you can find a hot one of this type, she can make an insane, unbelievable partner in the scene. I have met several like this. This type of girl usually also feels limited or no jealousy, or, if she feels jealousy, she gets it f**ked right out of her.

This second type of girl is also the kind of girl who makes the “what’s your number?” questions irrelevant, as you can end up with huge numbers almost inadvertently just by dating around and going to parties with her. Most doors are open to her. She is typically low drama, and far lower drama than the typical chick.

I’m bringing this up only because, before I became intimate with the second type of girl, I don’t think I fully believed she existed. Maybe I kind of, sort of knew that she was out there somewhere, but now I know she exists, and I also know her power… but also her terror, to other women (for she lowering the “market value” of sex, if you will), and to men who secretly want monogamy from their women (many men do, even the superficially sex-positive ones).

I’m going to call this second kind of chick feral, but, again, in a good way (for my purposes, historically).

The tragedy of type two is that she has a lot of trouble acquiring and maintaining a primary partner. Her life also gets much harder for her as she gets older, if she wants a family, as most women (and people) do. The structure of aging is harder for women than for men in general… a guy who keeps building his value can have very high value from age 35 – 45 (although this may not be typical). A guy whose interest shifts from partying to family at age 35 will face a very different world than a woman who does the same (as we’ve all seen, if we’re old enough). Type two, the feral type, may also get used to tons of male attention when she’s in her 20s and early 30s, but she’ll likely see that attention drop over time, especially if she’s doing the typical American diet (full of sugar) and lifestyle (drives everywhere, only physical activity is going to and from the refrigerator).

The tragedy of type one is that she attracts a lot of drama of her own, and she turns down many pleasurable adventures that a more daring girl might enjoy. But, on average, chicks are much more reactive than proactive (this is why they’re rarely the founders of companies and rarely move up the ranks of existing companies) and for most chicks, nothing happens if a guy is not there to encourage it to happen. When I was younger I found this strange, and had a lot of conversations with chicks in which I would say, “Why didn’t you just do [obvious thing]?” and the chick would get huffy and say, “I just didn’t!” I’d try to pin her down on why she didn’t and she’d get huffier and angrier. Now I’m wiser in this regard and know that chicks on average are simply passive, and trying to move them out of a pretty narrow range of behaviors is wasteful, like trying to move a hill with a teaspoon.

Type one goes halfway a lot of the time and then stops… she seems like a promising lead, but she doesn’t go anywhere. In her heart and soul she’s closer to a time-waster than not. Smart players, whether they’re doing the game conventionally or non-monogamously, figure out methods and systems to sort time-wasters from non-time-wasters, the same was mineral extraction people figure out how to separate diamonds from dirt. When you find out you’ve got dirt, not diamonds, dump it and keep mining, while you also keep refining your process.

Game-aware guys being “poly” or “open”

(A response to Nash’s comment.)

I think the most basic, obvious, important distinction is that guys who know they can get laid have a very different experience from guys who don’t. I’m not saying a guy must go out on a random day or night and come back with a chick a few hours later (I can’t, of course), but a guy who knows he’s got options just has a way different experience and worldview. The options can come from game, ecosystem, doesn’t matter, he is just in a different world than a guy who doesn’t. (“Scarcity” versus “abundance” are often discussed in these contexts.) A guy is only as good as his options.

I’m not as big a fan of “poly” identification because most people who identify as poly are ugly. Seems to be true of women as well as men. But with an otherwise attractive chick you want to keep on rotation, who might not want to do randoms, saying “poly” and finding another couple or couples to date can work.

I don’t get too hungup on the particular terms “poly” or “open” because I just don’t care that much. If “poly” lets me keep her on rotation for a longer period of time as a FWB / lover, because she knows my love is too great for only a single person, just like hers, that’s fine with me (and that has happened). Good sex without obligation on my part? Okay, yeah, sure, whatever it takes, yeah, I’m poly. Pass the joint, will you?

Nash says,

for me the “poly” community is a fucking mess. I live in CA and I am surrounded by these folks… and it’s an ugly shitshow. I watch guys “try” this all the time, and they are a fucking sad bunch, mostly.

Can’t disagree. That’s the average and the median.

The average poly person is a fuckup and idiot. I’m happy to acknowledge that. The worst advocates for poly are poly people themselves.

To me, game, poly, open, motorcycles, online dating, paying for sex… these are all tools. I’m trying to describe the tools, how they work, how they work for me, how they could work for others, how they are (frequently) mishandled. What tools a guy uses depends on his goals. Most guys flail because they have no tools and have given zero thought to any of this. I don’t use all tools all the time. I’ve not paid for quite a while. That isn’t because I’m too good for it or found the Buddha or whatever. It’s because I’ve been busy with more conventional pursuits, so I’ve not needed or wanted it.

Tools can be combined in various ways, too. Having an incredibly hot girl in a semi-paid relationship who then goes to sex clubs can multiply the effect of both tools (I only recommend thinking about paid relationships for guys who are 35+ and have more income than time. Younger guys should be out working on their game and improving their value, not paying for it.).

Game guys have found a great tool. But I think about how some of the other tools fit into game, and how game fits into some of the other tools. It’s interesting to me that most guys in game don’t write much about the other tools. Most guys who like and write about paying for it, don’t write about game.

I also don’t ask and don’t tell. When the recent girl asked me how many partners I’ve had, I didn’t leap forward to say (if she’d pressed I would’ve said). But I didn’t ask her the same question and when I told her I never ask that question of women, I meant it.

I am being something very close to inconsistent here, but that’s the way I am.

If you’re inconsistent and know it, that’s okay. I’m a little more worried about people who are wildly inconsistent and don’t know, also known as the entire human population.

That Krauser post helped me write this post. When guys talk past each other, it’s often good to go a couple levels deeper to try and figure out what is really going on (a subject I have more to say about in a future post). There may be some deeper synthesis beyond the surface.

Personally, I’m also less moved by pure novelty than some guys. Don’t get me wrong, I like novelty, but I don’t automatically lose interest in a chick after nailing her a couple times. This obviously depends on personality and other factors too. I got overly excited about this girl because our personalities mesh well.

Right now, society is in flux. Legal marriage does not work for a very large number of people. No one knows what comes next. “Bitter divorce that screws up the kids” is a very common outcome. So are dead marriages that stumble onwards from inertia. So are couples who don’t like each but stay together “for the sake of the kids.” A lot of guys start in game, but game, pursued actively enough, becomes a path into seeing the matrix.