The problem with deal breakers is…

....just dealing in sherbet lemons?

Simon was asking me at the lunch table at work, about some of my deal breakers when it comes to going out with women. I said I have a few including my concerns about dating a woman who do not identify as a feminist.

Si pointed out that he had a problem with the term deal breaker, as it implies there is a deal happening?

Dealbreaker
A word used to describe the eligibility of a friendship or relationship based on one trait or preference of the other person. Can also be used if you don’t agree with someones views.
John: “So whats your least favorite band?”
Jill: ” It would have to be Arcade Fire.”
John: “Wait…What? You don’t like Arcade Fire? Thats a dealbreaker.”

Lots of thoughts come to mind… Relationships as deals, deals as relationships? Deal with whom? Is this how we think about postive relationships?

Can opened

Can opened!

Before dropping into the deepend of the ocean. Lots of peoples dealbreakers I hear, are sometimes just shocking in my eyes. But I guess it doesn’t matter because its not my dealbreaker, and people would say the same about mine.

However, the biggest problem I have with dealbreakers is, most of the time they are prefrences not dealbreakers.

Take the above example…

John: “Wait…What? You don’t like Arcade Fire? Thats a dealbreaker.”

Is it really a dealbreaker? Is it something which everything else is in right, you still wouldn’t even consider the person? I feel a dealbreaker needs to be something much more fundemental, not just a passing phase or fashion!

Anna and Jane a few days later, when we talked about this during lunch in the Northern Quarter… Suggested the deal could/is with yourself? This seems about right… The dealbreaker should say something fundmental about you, not I like Arcade Fire or I like Turtles…

My dealbreaker about feminist is built on many things and says plenty about the kind of relationship I want to have with another person. It rules out a ton of women but its better  as this view isn’t going to change. This is a deal I have done with myself as well as being a dealbreaker.

Undressed our experience in audio

I am assuming the last post (which you should read first) is the raw thoughts of mine, as I travelled back to Manchester on the train. It’s odd reading it now, but I don’t want to edit it, as it was quite an incredible experience and something hopefully others will consider when living their lives and opportunities come by.

Myself and Jess shared the post previously, so none of it is a surprise to her. But while thinking and wondering what the episode of undressed will be edited into, I started to think, wouldn’t it be great to hear the thoughts of Jess and mine together? I spoke to Jess and she said agreed wishing she had done something similar.

Of course I need to backtrack a little; I can hear some of you asking what happened next?

Well after going to Berlin, Northampton, London, Bucharest and Newcastle over May. Thursday 19th May we met up in London again, first time since the undressed experiment/experience. Things went well as we drank a lot of cocktails and had an italian meal near leicester square. We asked many of the everyday questions people ask including how old are you? What is your job? etc, etc… We also went into more depth over some of the deeper questions which we touched upon in the studio. Things went well and we decided although there was the attraction we are better as friends.

We have both dated in between and there is no hangups about being friends. Yes there was a lot of attraction, similar views and opinions; but to the question of accelerated intimacy… did it work? Yes it did. But like Keanu Reeves says on Speed

Sandra and Keanu in Speed

“…you know,relationships that start under intense circumstances, they never last.”

Yes it comes to something when you start quoting from films…

We stayed in touch as friend and talked about the press coverage undressed was getting, including the mix up with the nude dating show naked attraction by Channel 4. Both of us don’t have sky or cable, so have been reliant on friends views and televisions. We’re both aware, that our signed contract means we couldn’t talk about it on social media. Hence the radio silence…

All caught up?

Knowing what TV is like, we talked about recording our thoughts on the experiment/experience. We did this on Tuesday evening and it was a fun thing to do. I was actually quite surprised how long we had gone on for, and glad we had gotten some snacks beforehand. With water and snacks, we recorded a 90 minute discussion with some breaks; about our experiences and how we felt about everything.

I was unsure where to put this recording but hopefully it offers a counter view to any/some of the criticism of our undressed TV appearance. Its funny and certainly puts the whole experience into perspective, something which isn’t really possible in a 10-15min reality TV show.

To be clear this was done under our own steam. TLC and RDF media didn’t know we were going to do this or have been made aware of it. I re-read the signed terms and conditions again, and see no reason why we would be breaking the signed terms. Listening back to it, I personally feel its actually a compliment to the experiement. They did a great job with the matching; myself and Jess were very happy. I feel this all comes across in the recording.

Jessica and Ian

Alpha & beta men is such a pile of crap

Self portrait - Do I really need to spell it out for you?

After being introduced to Mr Nerd Love following my thoughts on the ties between male and female liberation.

I read the Science of Nice Guys and Assholes.

One of the never-ending struggles for men is the dichotomy of the Nice Guys vs. the Tough Guys. The Nice Guy is sexually null, a pathetic being who can’t earn a woman’s affection through his own worth and so attempts to weasel his way into her heart (and pants). The Tough Guy though… he’s the dude to be, right? Adored by men, beloved by women. He’s the alpha, the bad boy, the one who pushes the Nice Guy aside and bangs his girlfriend, his sister and his mom.

The idea of the dominant alpha male as the superior mate has long been a trope among pick-up gurus, Red Pill advocates and the like, often pointing to studies that have shown the correlation between dominance and attraction. Clearly, being alpha is the key to getting chicks, right?

This is something which comes up again and again. If you are not alpha you are a sucker and you need to be an alpha. Dominate and control!

I call total ball to the whole thing. Like most things, this exists on a spectrum and is heavily based on context and other factors. If you were alpha all the time, you wouldn’t let your partner see people who could be potentially a rival to you. You would excise such dominance and lack of empathy, you would end up being more of psychopath and end up driving you and others nuts.

Alpha and beta are states which anybody can exist in and anything between. If you ask most women which one they prefer, they naturally go for alpha but how many would get tired of the man telling her what she can wear, who she can talk to, where she can go. That level of domance would get very tiring very quickly (the first date?). The red pill advocates are gearing men up for total failure. But on the flip side, beta men who have this passive aggressive nature are worrisome too. I mean these things tend to bubble over into something scary and nasty when you are least expecting it. Theres only so much holding down you’re feelings you can do before it bubbles over.

Now to be clear… this doesn’t necessarily apply just to heterosexual relationships but as its my reference I’ll stick to that for now.

I love the total debunking of the nature argument I have heard so many times in the past.

“alpha/beta” divides don’t actually exist in nature, The concept described the behavior of wolves in captivity, which immediately becomes like trying to base assumptions of human social behavior on reruns of Oz and Orange is the New Black.

Even among primates, the idea of the domineering alpha who leads the pack through aggression falls apart very quickly.  In fact, in one famous study of a savannah baboon troupe, the aggressive and violent males were wiped out after stumbling upon a garbage dump near a tourist lodge. This became their primary foraging site and, in keeping with “traditional” dominance, the aggressive males prevented the less-aggressive ones from eating. As a result: the aggressive males contracted tuberculosis from eating tainted meat and died, leaving the less aggressive males and females in charge. Not only did the troupe start displaying far less aggression and greater social cohesion, but stress levels (measured via hormonal testing) plummeted. Even new males who joined the troupe would adopt the more conciliatory and less aggressive behavior.

The whole idea of being alpha falls back to a time when collaboration and cooperation wasn’t so needed (although I would argue this was never). Like the example above social cohesion is so important now and into the future. This is partly why the EU Referendum is so frustrating. Lets not use our heads and work things out (that’s so beta man), no lets just run away like little children on our own little island. Lets all eat tainted meat together!

The performance of manhood plays straight into the fragility of traditional toxic masculinity – being alpha is a precarious position that can be taken from you at any time. Hence the renewed popularity of “cuck”1 as an insult; if “your” woman were to bang someone else, then clearly you aren’t alpha, bro. It’s the fear of having your masculinity stolen, distilled and weaponized and leveraged at others lest it be thrown at you. That core of insecurity takes it’s toll on you on a deep level. The stress of maintaining that front wears at you. It eats at your self-esteem and makes it harder to trust others or to work with them successfully. You have to guard your back at all times against challengers

At all times, as said previously this isn’t a sustainable state and turns you into a asshole or worst still a psychopath.

Cubicgarden

There are times when I’m thinking and quiet, there are times when I’m alpha and just rolling from one thing to another. For example in my secondary school you needed to be alpha with some people as they were actively looking for weakness to take advantage of you. But other times also at school I was beta in lessons, listening to teachers and trying to get along and help others. It’s also worth pointing out as I said, these are spectrums and I didn’t just switch from one to another because frankly that would also be a little odd.

The best men are a mix of both and can slide into one or the other when needed (they are also very good at recognizing when). They are a genuinely good men, not an alpha or a beta just good.

Men who demonstrate – not tell, show –  that they’re agreeable and friendly are also showing higher levels of social intelligence and a greater ability to work well with others. On a strictly selfish level, somebody who demonstrates greater levels of prosocial behavior is someone who will benefit the group overall. It also shows that they’re someone who can be trusted, relied upon and who values others. Being a genuinely good guy – rather than a Nice Guy – makes others feel valued, and that makes them want to spend more time with him.

I understand the frustration of seeing the centre of your attentions heading off with another person, we have all been there (fear of rejection)! But chalking up to you not being alpha enough is total bollox. Theres a million other reasons like hey maybe she’s just not into you (no matter what people say, there is no way to force someone to like you! or they would sell a ton of it).

Be true to yourself, don’t try and be someone else.

If you want to be the kind of guy women love, then don’t try to be the Alpha guy. Don’t be the “nice” guy. Just be the good guy.

Accelerated intimacy & relationships?

There is something which happened last week, which I can’t talk about publicly (yet!). But it has me thinking quite a bit about accelerated intimacy and intense shared experiences.

It’s that swept of your feet feeling, which is amazing; but the question remains if it can turn into something more sustainable and longer running? I’m always reminded of that scene at the end of Speed (1994) with Jack (Keanu Reeves) and Annie (Sandra Bullock).

Jack: I have to warn you, I’ve heard relationships based on intense experiences never work.
Annie: OK. We’ll have to base it on sex then.
Jack: Whatever you say, ma’am.

Ooooeerr!

Block, delete and forget the past?

Black mirror does Block in real life

Had a really interesting conversation at a party about block and delete. It reminded me of previous friends who I had dated who would deal with the end of a relationship by blocking the other person. Luckily I haven’t been on the end of a block and delete too many times (only a couple to mind).

I do understand why people block and delete but I think its used too easily and quickly instead of dealing with conflict or be honest with your feelings with the other person.  I feel like its almost in the same category/area/orbit as another blog post I wrote about simple answers to difficult questions. Rather than even try and work things out, just block them and delete their details. Its so easy (like swipe left and right?) This makes ghosting look positively fair as a result.

Forget it happened, ignore the past and ultimately not learn from it? In the 7 stages of a relationship breakup, there is something important about facing your partner and being honest in the healing process. Something about block and delete directly cuts across. I compare it to the way prisoners sometimes are forced to face their victims – Restorative Justice.

Face-to-face meetings between victim and perpetrator bring relief to both parties….

Restorative justice gives victims that chance to reframe the story and heal in the process

I get it, if you are shouting at me about someone whos taken it too far, they have become a  pest, stalker or worst. It so much easier to just block them and forget them. But I say that ease comes at a high cost over all. I imagine long term use of block could lead to changes in the blocker or growing resentment from those blocked (wish there was research on this)

I tried to use the example of last years Black Mirror White Christmas to start to illustrate the problem with blocking.

I got blocked once, by @Lord_Sugar as it happens. I’m not sure why, maybe he saw me as a threat, in business. It wasn’t actually too upsetting, but then I wasn’t in a relationship with him – hardly knew him at all, to be honest. And he only blocked me on Twitter, not in real life, as people can do here sometime in the future, in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror: White Christmas (Channel 4). So they can’t see you or hear you, nor you them: you’re both just muffled silhouettes, digital ghosts. That’s what happens to poor Joe (Rafe Spall).

Unfortunately the person I was talking to at the party had not seen it before. But this really hits the point I think I’m circling.

Brooker’s drama urges caution here and elsewhere in White Christmas. ‘Block’ someone social media-style in real life and you end the conversation. Any potential for redemption or growth ends with it. These are real people we’re dealing with, they’re not disposable.

Human feelings and relationships are messy and using a binary system of block, feels like hitting a nail with a sledgehammer way to initially end a relationship. (I say initially, because if they are not reasonable or abusive, I totally get the block.)

I guess I’m calling for more of a human approach to the way we think and end relationships. Without that, we could end up in the middle of a black mirror episode for real.

White Christmas’ nightmarish tales of isolation might be dark, but they show sage concern about the kind of world we’re building for ourselves. They ask us to consider the humanity of how we treat people online and in the real world. An extreme reflection it might be, but underneath it all, Black Mirror may well have the most charitable heart of any of this year’s seasonal specials.

Charlie Brooker had this to say when asked about White Christmas’  blocking plot point and would he block someone…

I think people do that, don’t they, when they’re commuting? If I sit on the tube I put headphones in and I stare at a book or anywhere but another human being. I think when you’re commuting you just do it psychologically to get through the day in a city.

In everyday life I think it would be really destructive, that’s kind of what happens. We can’t say too much about the story but [to Rafe] you’re involved in a blocking incident. I think there’s no way back. If you were to block someone, the conversation has ended, it’s not like you can build bridges. I don’t know that I would block anyone particularly in person. I’m on Twitter, but I don’t tend to block people unless they’re just unrelentingly unpleasant.

This ties in the alone together, ambient intimacy and human contact posts.. Hopefully this makes people think before they block and delete?