Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Signals Are Forever"

The usually outstanding Robin Hanson over at Overcoming Bias has a short post today about how signaling is a necessary component of any long-term relationship. In other words, one must continue to demonstrate one's values and emotions to the other person in the relationship, despite the temptation to believe that you can lay off this behavior once the couple is in a committed situation.

But even with our closest and most committed relationships (including those with women, but also those with our friends and our jobs), one cannot assume the work of signaling one's intent is ever done. Hanson:

Even if you’ve come to work in a suit and tie for twenty years, the day you come in a bathing suit, your coworkers may well suspect that your work ethic has changed. So you have to wear that suit one more day.
The really funny irony of Hanson's post, though, is that he assumes the exact wrong kind of signaling. Look at the example he gives:

A man sometimes thinks that after all he has done for a woman surely she must know he loves her and he doesn’t need to keep showing it by saying so, giving gifts, holding doors, etc. Usually such men are in for a rude awakening.
Oh Robin, Robin, Robin.

...if you don’t signal your continued love she may well conclude that your love has in fact changed. And you have to work hard enough with your signal to distinguish yourself from someone who doesn’t care as much as you.
Of course, Hanson is absolutely right that if one wants to maintain the status quo in a relationship, one must do the work of maintaining the proper signaling. But he seems to be thoroughly trained in thinking that the best way to long-term health in a relatioship with a woman is to signal "caring more than everyone else" and "giving gifts," etc.

This, of course, is the constant position of a supplicant. His "rude awakening" is in pipeline if he ever stops his supplication, because his woman has trained him to react with panic and desperate apology if she ever hints that she may exclude him from her favor.

All you readers know that I advocate a very different way of dealing with a woman (long term relationship or no). I won't go into details; the archives are full of material. But I would like to point out, despite his different ideas of what constitutes a good example of how a man needs to signal to his woman, that Hanson's central point is absolutely true.

So let's assume you are an alpha, and you've trained your woman to supplicate you rather than the other way around. Now, you may assume, like the hapless beta in Hanson's example, that once you have established a firm ground for your relationship, you can relax things a little bit. Au contraire, mes frères. You must continue signaling your dominance: gently pull her hair when you go in for a kiss, raise you voice sternly when she steps out of line, flirt shamelessly with other women in public. If you coast on your past dominance, she will gradually start to see you as beta and lose her passion (and you'll end up like the man in Hanson's example, grovelling at her feet with a box of chocolates and protestations of your loyalty).

Of course, in a way, I am saying the same thing as Hanson. He's saying the man must signal that he still loves his woman. And that's actually exactly what I am saying. I just have a different idea of what constitutes loving a woman, i.e. giving her what makes her truly happy and fulfilled, and not playing the ultimately selfish and self-aggrandizing role of the "nice guy."

Signaling is the central activity of human social interaction. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, or want to learn more, Robin Hanson is an excellent introduction to these matters. Check out the archives under "psychology" at Overcoming Bias for a good intro (and stick around and read all the other stuff too... it's very worthwhile).


  1. i've noticed this with ltr's of mine. when i was lavishing more attention than usual, being extra nice, her interest, and her passion seemed to wane a bit. if you prepare her for a stone alpha, she will resent you all the more for switching up the frame after whatever extended period of time.

  2. Oh yeah. Here's the science to back it up:

    "The generally accepted therapeutic notion that, for women, incubating intimacy leads to better sex is [] often misguided....
    women might set a high value on the closeness and longevity of relationships: “But it’s wrong to think that because relationships are what women choose they’re the primary source of women’s desire.”
    the woman feels that her partner is trapped, that a choice — the choosing of her — is no longer being carried out.

  3. That was a great depiction of how to maintain a ltr. The game never ends, and the rules hardly change....

  4. In other words, act like a low-grade pimp.

    Well, that's typical of Roissy and the rest of you scum.

  5. Anonymous - pimps, really? Seems like I missed the part where we ask women to go make money for us by doing something they don't like (I leave that up to married women).

    You are right, however, that pimps knew about the true nature of female sexuality and how to use that to attract and bond women long before PUAs, roissy and us came along. Accusing us of being pimps because we take from them what works is like accusing all Vegetarians to be Nazis because Hitler was a Vegetarian, too.

    Read the link I posted above. It's a NYT article with quotes of several (female) scientists about why our mainstream notions of female attraction are wrong, and why the things Master Dogen writes about here do not only work, but save marriages.

  6. Anonymous trolled

    In other words act like a low-grade pimp. Well, that's typical of Roissy and the rest of you scum.

    Someone needs to get laid!

  7. If you want your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (no matter why you broke up) you must watch this video
    right away...

    (VIDEO) Want your ex CRAWLING back to you...?

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