Girl Game: Know How To Cook

Let’s be real shall we. If you’re a woman, you really do have to learn how to cook. There’s really no getting around that and yes indeed by golly there is a huge double standard between men and women on this issue.
When a man doesn’t know how to cook, no one really thinks of him as a failure as a man. When a man can cook, he gets bonus points for it. For a woman though, the inability to cook kind of marks her as deficient as a woman, certainly by the time she has kids there’s a major expectation that she knows what she’s doing in a kitchen reasonably well. If she wants bonus points for raw cooking ability, she needs to cook very well.
And don’t get me wrong on this one either – I’ve advised men to learn to cook multiple times on the blog and pages 54 and 55 in The Primer advise it as well. Men really should know how to cook, it’s not really a task that either sex have a clear advantage at over the other. It’s just that the whole home and hearth thing runs very deep in the culture and frames you as the default choice for cooking. I’m sorry about that, it’s not my fault, I’m just explaining how it works.
So the questions for women are: (1) “If I’m not really going to get many points for cooking, and can only lose points for not being able to cook, how can I not get taken advantage of and lumbered with the task of cooking every meal forever?” (2) “Okay he just told me to go make him a sandwich like I’m his bitch and I don’t think that was any version of playful gaming, just him being an asshole so what should I do I do about that?”, and (3) “No really, this is bullshit! If I have to be the kitchen queen, I want a way to earn points for cooking.”
So lets deal with (1) first. One approach is to take the long term view and say “I don’t mind leading in this area, but we’re going to spend the rest of our life together, and it’s just too long of a time to do it all myself, I’m just going to start hating you for it and that’s going to be lose-lose.” Then you slowly teach him how to cook. For most guys that can’t cook, it’s not that they are against it, they just had a lifetime of being told to get out of the kitchen. Now that they are grown, it’s embarrassing to even admit they are beyond useless in the kitchen.
So start small. Show him how to make pasta. It’s near impossible to screw up. Then once he gets pasta down, do another meal, and so on. If he only learns a new meal a month, after a year he can make twelve different things. And lets face it, most of us really only make about 12 different dinners over and over anyway. Then you figure out together what the ratio of nights cooking is for the two of you.
Another idea is to to actually take him to the supermarket when he’s skilling up cooking. You’d be surprised at how more interested in cooking a guy can be if he can actually pick out the food that he wants to cook. Then having picked it out, he’s already committed to cooking it later in the week… which sidesteps an argument later on about his need to cook one night. “The beef you picked out needs to be cooked today or tomorrow before it goes bad.”  If you do this routine, never cook the food he picked out, unless you want to have the chef job forever.
Make sure you reward him as well. You reward the behavior you want to see continue, so while he may not be an Iron Chef just yet, if he’s trying and gaining skill, then that’s progress. So verbally praising him works, touching him when he’s cooking works (arm touches and back rubs) and obviously you can have sex with him too. That last one may seem a little devious and evil, but if you’re basically both comfortable with sex three times a week, and two of those three times just happens to match up to his two nights to cook… well whats the problem with that? He’ll just think that my advice for using Cooking Game is working… so just lay back and let the pussy do the work.
In terms of Jennifer and myself, I could cook when we married, Jennifer not so much. We’ve been together sixteen years and we both can cook far better now that we did. At first I played the role of teacher, but that’s all far in the past now. Neither one of us is stellar, but we’re both quite functional and good at it. Overall though, Jennifer just started assuming control of the kitchen and she cooks more than I do. We usually shop for food together and we plan meals on the fly in the supermarket based on what’s on sale and what she has coupons for. It’s a game for us now.
Okay… so question (2) where he tells you to go make him a sandwich and is being an ass about it. Just ignore the request, he’s just testing you. Just say “Get your own sandwich” and walk away. The other option is that you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cut the crusts off, put apple juice in a sippy cup and just be done with it. Tit for Tat.
And on to answering (3)… “How can I get points for cooking?”
The key here is to understand that cooking – for both men and women – is a Beta skill. So it’s about building relationship comfort rather than sexual attraction. Your cooking will not make his cock hard unless you’re shoving a viagra tab into a piece of cheese and calling him over. So to win points with cooking, you need to cook something that is going to go beyond just a meal on the table, and actually trigger him feeling warm fuzzies about whatever it is that he’s eating.
The simple trick here is just to ask him what his favorite foods are and then purposely work them into the rotation. You just frame that you personally may not be excited by this particular food, but you know that he is, and it’s for that reason that you are making this particular dish. It’s not really about the food. It’s about showing him that you want to please him, for no other reason than that you like him. It’s that attitude and emotional behind the food that creates the relationship comfort. Sometimes you have those special Christmas or Thanksgiving dishes that he loves that you never make the rest of the year. So why not bust one out in April?
Sometimes those favorite dishes are special or ethnic foods that you can make. For example I’m from New Zealand and the humble sausage roll is a traditional New Zealand party staple. I went about ten years without eating a sausage roll before I off hand mentioned them as something that I missed. Since then I’ve had a fair number of sausage rolls courtesy of Jennifer and I always eat too many. I always love her just a little more each time she makes them.
The other way to build relationship comfort with cooking, is to pay attention to him at times he’s getting hungry when he’s working too hard or too long. Back in the pre-kid days when I was working double shifts, Jennifer would fairly often stop by my work with food and a kiss. During the long drag of writing and editing I very frequently would lose track of time and on several occasions she brought me sandwiches. It’s not really about the Turkey Club BLT though, it’s more about her saying “Go you!” with a Turkey Club BLT.
Of course if all else fails. Just squirt Reddi-Whip on your boobs and ask him if he wants pie.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Great advice! My boyfriend and I cook together a lot and we both enjoy it. However, what to do about housework? Getting a guy to cook is much easier- if fun, and you get the instant gratification of 'I made this and its delicious.' Any guy I've ever dated theoretically believed they should contribute 50% to housework, but none of them has really ever done more than dishes and their own laundry. Guys get major points for simply picking up after themselves, women get little appreciation for sweeping/mopping, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen, ect on a regular basis. In my current relationship, we contribute equally financially, have the same amount of other work to do, and live in an apartment so their are no fix-the-house or yardwork that needs to be done. Its not really worth an argument, and while I merely find these tasks time consuming, he hates them/has never done them. That doesn't change the fact that these tasks need to be done. Quite frankly, cleaning takes a lot of time and I want more help.

  2. Also, if your guy brings tasty leftovers from home, he scores major bragging points with the other guys at work. In turn, this gets you some points.

    "Did your wife make that?" Kind of like women who show off the roses the boyfriend/husband sent to their office.

    I cook like an Iron Chef.

  3. Athol Kay says:

    Nice point Julia!

  4. I think there really is something to the "a way to a man's heart is through his stomach". If you can cook him his favorite comfort foods, or even better yet, introduce him to some NEW favorite comfort foods, he really feels like he is being taken care of.

    I truly believe there is something to the whole dinner waiting for him when he walks in the door thing, as well. Especially when you have put in the extra effort to make something he loves. It shows how much you are willing to do just for him. It shows respect, appreciation and acknowledgement for everything that he does for you and the family. (That last part is straight from hubbies mouth, BTW)

    I am not saying this has to be every night. It can be quite impossible to do every night, but a few nights a week is nice and very much appreciated.

  5. You know what's funny, I've noticed it makes him happy when I'll make his plate for him and put out the silverware when we've gotten TAKE OUT (which is five nights out of the week since we work long hours). All I'm doing is moving it from the to-go container to the plate, maybe microwaving, it's silly, but he likes it better if I'll do it… I guess it makes him feel taken care of… and secretly, I love doing it.

  6. Athol Kay says:

    Nice comments Jamine and Noeleve.

  7. Sweet As says:

    Yes, I will do so in my heels, miniskirt, and hoop earrings. LOL

  8. Athol Kay says:

    Try completely naked except for heels, hoop earrings and an apron…

  9. Jasmine says:

    Good grief, everyone. My handle is Jasmine, not Jamine. My fingers are not working at all today as I haven't been able to spell all day. Sorry about that.

  10. My dad has mad cooking game, not in variety but in scarcity. He doesn't make many dishes (bacon, pizza, pancakes) but the quality of what he makes is great, not to mention the entertainment value of him alpha-ing his way around the kitchen. That he only makes it occasionally made dad cooking days prized treats growing up.


    Nice story, I can empathize. I always try to move takeout items to real clay-and-metal place settings. I feel like a bum eating out of the styrofoam in my own dining room.

    "I guess it makes him feel taken care of… "

    I'm guessing it also makes him feel at home, which is key after a long workday.

    "and secretly, I love doing it."

    We live in a very strange world where a wife enjoying taking care of her man is a shameful secret. This "don't take any shit from a man" philosophy we've pumped into women the last 20 years is without a doubt a major factor in ruining countless relationships.

  11. This is the first time I have ever thought of a sausage roll as ethnic food: I usually miss Vogel's bread and Marmite when travelling.

  12. Athol Kay says:

    Chris – it can be hard to recognize your own culture when you're surrounded by it. Marmite would count as such as well.

  13. "We live in a very strange world where a wife enjoying taking care of her man is a shameful secret. This "don't take any shit from a man" philosophy we've pumped into women the last 20 years is without a doubt a major factor in ruining countless relationships."

    I heartily agree. I love taking care of my husband and it is something that I have looked forward to doing since I was a little girl (learned it from my mother). Am I some doormat wife? No. I am actually a lot stronger than a lot of the "don't take any shit from a man" woman" (Obviously, I have no way to prove this, but I ask you to take my word for it.)

    I don't understand this stuff where some women feel like they are too good to take care of their husbands. As, I see it, that is why we got married in the first place. To take care of each other. He is holding up his side of the bargain, you had better believe I am holding up mine.

    And everyone knows it can't be done every day. For some of you, it might be only one day a week, or to do something like Noeleve does. FInd something that brings him comfort and warm fuzzies and go with it.

  14. Responding to 1st post Anon is off topic, but I felt compelled to tell her that guys typically have a higher threshold of pain with regards to dirt, leftover from the overnight hunting trips our ancestors made. Your guy would probably keep up his half of the housework if you let things get dirty enough that he considers them dirty. In his head, you're cleaning things that don't need cleaning cuz apparently you just enjoy cleaning so much. Which baffles him when you act like you don't enjoy cleaning and want him to do more. In the caveman brain, home is just a campsite we come back to the most. For women, I think cleanliness of the home is a fitness signal that's become a runaway status marker for female competition beyond its attraction value for men.
    Again, sorry for the long OT

  15. "Your guy would probably keep up his half of the housework if you let things get dirty enough that he considers them dirty. In his head, you're cleaning things that don't need cleaning cuz apparently you just enjoy cleaning so much. Which baffles him when you act like you don't enjoy cleaning and want him to do more."

    Let's not forget the AK-esque analysis that frustration about housework may be a marker of sexual frustration.

    But moving on from that, this is a very perceptive read on the situation to me and other men I've talked to. I can't speak to anon's case, but all the women in my family are concerned about clean and tidy to a degree I consider obsessive. My home is for living and doing, not for having everything put away in its place at all times. This sets up an impasse. To the female mind, the man is "enjoying a clean house he's not working for." But really, he probably doesn't care, and he's not a pig or a slob just because he has a different standard than you do. But when she complains about it, to the male mind he hears that she wants things cleaned but doesn't want to clean them. The ultimate problem is that if you nag about tidiness, you sound like his mother telling him to clean his room. And don't discount the possibility that he's simply backed away from doing more housework because if he does it he gets yelled at for not doing it your way anyway.

    "Quite frankly, cleaning takes a lot of time and I want more help."

    I have to be honest, if you live in an apartment I'm not sure where the gargantuan cleaning needs are coming from.

    Cleaning is something that very easily devolves into the old passive-aggressive move of doing something "for" your man that he didn't want done and then being upset with him for not appreciating it.

    If you have clutter I recommend GTD or some other quick-turn organizational system to mow through it.

    Lastly, if he hates doing housework, is there a task you hate doing he could do?

  16. Noeleve says:

    Badger (12:30AM),

    It may sound crazy, but you've got a generation of women with it firmly lodged in our heads that if we admit we like pink, mini-skirts, making cookies for you, and doing our hair the way you like, you won't be attracted to us.

    I'm on the cusp of GenX/GenY, and when I was growing up my father was very clear that "pretty women are a dime a dozen, it's what you achieve that matters". I was in martial arts with my brother from age six to eighteen, went to prom with a friend, got two STEM degrees, and worked stupid long hours in technical consulting (instead of going into dance like I wanted). Thank goodness I wasn't taught to be aggressive towards men or bitchy or entitled… just given the message that it's unattractive to be a girly girl (mother, wife, etc).

    So you've got a group of us that were raised with no idea what men want or what makes us work in a relationship with them, and a society that fosters the misinformation. I've been a little pissed since I started to realize that I spent my twenties working towards being academically impressive to guys and not admitting to wanting to get married, only to find out that's not what they care about. Now I'm thirty and in a long term relationship with a guy that I'm crazy about and that I'd like to be a good wife to in the future if I get the chance… but realizing I'm completely wrong-headed about a lot of stuff and quickly trying to do everything I can to "stop thinking and listen" :)

    And the single biggest help so far has been… reading your blog, and Athol's blog, and Dalrock's… (even though it's a little painful knowing what's really thought of single 30 yr old women) it makes a difference to keep hearing it anyway, to listen to a community of bloggers honest about it, you guys help push the wave of misinformation the other way a little… thank you guys for your time and contribution, it makes a difference

  17. Noeleve says:

    Just posted this and then saw Dalrock's latest post, …yep :)

  18. Athol Kay says:

    Noeleve – you got Girl-Betaized!

    All that stuff does count, but it counts for the Beta side of things only. You just have to rebalance yourself a little.

  19. Anonymous says:

    When I was taking a health class, the instructor said something very important that eating is the first act of comfort we do when we enter in the world after the trauma of birth (we are safe and warm and dark, then suddenly is cold bright and there is no walls around us! scary!) so whether we are given the bottle or the soft weight of your mother's breast…someone that feeds you taps into a very basic part of the brain, so I would guess that is why being happy in doing this for your husband/boyfriends makes him feel so warm inside (I would guess for the women the eating also needs a special setting like a restaurant so that is why they crave more for a whole dinner production and men can be satisfied with cooking regularly enough) and that is also why dieting is so hard…we are not only cutting calories we are starving ourselves of affection.
    Very interesting insight on food, IMO.

  20. "The key here is to understand that cooking – for both men and women – is a Beta skill. So it's about building relationship comfort rather than sexual attraction. Your cooking will not make his cock hard …"

    This is *so* much bullsh*t.

    In the first place, Alpha and Beta are *male* categories. They don't make any sense when applied to females. The desire to apply them to both sexes seems to spring from some sort of atavistic PC sensibility. Let me explain.

    An extremely reproductively successful male (cave-man times) can have dozens or (early agricultural) thousands of children. A moderately reproductively successful man can have a few. A male reproductive failure has none. That's the biological basis of Alpha, Beta, and Omega.

    Females either have a few children, or none. In other words, females are Betas or Omegas …. there are no female Alphas because they are a biological impossibility. So characterizing a trait as "Beta for women" as a parallel to "Beta for men" is silly — all attractive female traits are essentially Beta. (This is why women who mimic Alpha traits are barking up a ridiculously wrong tree when it comes to attracting mates.)

    In the second place, you better believe that those "comfort-building" skills in a woman are sexually attractive. A woman who embraces her femininity … and that includes adopting all those "tired" old sex roles … is at least a full point hotter than one who doesn't.

    A woman cooking for me absolutely does make my cock hard. A woman who finds it a burden is a huge turn-off. Unlike you, Athol, I don't feel the need to apologize for any of this.

  21. Athol Kay says:

    Twenty – Suggest you start here first.

    Then read this…

    You can also read the first couple of pages of the Alpha and Beta chapters up in the tabs across the top of the blog.

    Or you can even buy my utterly brilliant book that explains things in even greater detail how the Alpha and Beta Traits work from a combined evolutionary psychology and neurochemistry approach.

    When you catch up to the conversation, let me know what you think.

  22. Reforming-Beta-Girl here, ready for your next posts Athol!

  23. @Athol

    With respect, I'm already "caught up to the conversation". It's not that I don't understand you, it's that *I'm saying that you're wrong*. Your "men should cultivate both Alpha and Beta traits" theory is interesting, although your position that there's little to no conflict between those traits strikes me as starry-eyed.

    Your attempt to map the Alpha/Beta dynamic onto women is flat-out insane, as those categories have no basis in female biological reality, and as there is *no conflict* between the various things a woman can to do be attractive to a man.

    You're just carving out a subset of female attractiveness characteristics, calling them "Alpha" and … what, exactly? There doesn't seem much point. It's not as if a compliant woman is going to be perceived as any less fertile.

    As for the notion of "Girl-Betaized" … it is to laugh. A "Beta" girl, *by your definition*, would be a repressed prudish Christian stereotype. (I.e., outwardly sexless, but good with practical matters around the house.) Do you *really* think this is a creature commonly observed in the urban jungle? Do you *really* think that when Noeleve says that she was taught that "it's unattractive to be a girly girl (mother, wife, etc)" she means that she wasn't putting enough sex out there?

    Maybe, but if so that's not a problem she shares with the vast majority of her sisters.

    Your whole Alpha/Beta female schtick strikes me as a too-cute attempt to impose a false symmetry on the sexes, which are nothing if not asymmetrical at the deepest biological level. You asked me what I thought, so there it is.

    Now, for what I *know*. When you write: "your cooking will not make his cock hard …" YOU ARE WRONG. That's what set me off in the first place … a lot of this stuff is theoretical and debatable, but there' are some things that are just objectively and experimentally false.

    So I think your theory needs some more time in the oven before it's fully-baked. Good luck with the book. It's an interesting exercise.

  24. Haven't yet read all the comments, so perhaps this has already been suggested, but re #2:

    Let him know that such a jerkass request is seriously not cool. Then, go make a sandwich for yourself and eat it in front of him.

  25. "You're just carving out a subset of female attractiveness characteristics, calling them "Alpha" and … what, exactly? There doesn't seem much point. It's not as if a compliant woman is going to be perceived as any less fertile."

    This isn't made up – there's a mapping of alpha/beta onto neurochemicals. If you continue reading Athol's stuff, you'll see that "alpha" = dopamine and beta = pairbonding/oxytocin/vasopressin.

    Don't take me for some white knight, but if you're going to drive by and tell the blogger he's wrong, do you have an alternate ontology that's better?

  26. Athol Kay says:

    Twenty – explain how my understanding of the vasopressin and dopamine responses in men are incorrect. That's what my approach is based on.

    Attraction = Alpha = Dopamine
    Comfort = Beta = Oxytocin(females)/Vasopressin(males)

    These hormones are actual physically provable things with real world effects. All I'm doing is applying the science into a practical method.

    An ugly obese woman cooking for you, will not make your cock hard.

    Two pretty young girls will all both make your cock hard, but on discovery one can't cook, your cock will only stay hard for the one that can.

    Alpha turns you on, lacking Beta turns you off.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I think Noeleve would do better to find a beta type man she thinks is sexy and see what alpha capabilities he has.

    I can accept "cooking for your man" as a metaphor for "caring behaviors". Within a relationship, both people need to demonstrate those.

    However, my experience showed that men who expect to be cooked for, even if they can make their own sandwiches, are in general more traditional-minded versus men who expect to know how to cook well and want to cook for a woman.

    Ask yourself if, when you both are working full time and careers going well and you have two small children, if you want to be The One Who Cooks. Breakfast for the family, lunches for the kids, home early for dinner and oh! you did the shopping for your meal planning, right? Day in day out, week in week out.

    Get it equal from the start. Sure, whip something special up from time to time — get really good at pancakes or truffles. Make him breakfast in bed in just an apron. That's fun and not the daily slog.

    Athol I can see the point to a woman showing a man she can cook. It's a caring behavior and /everyone/ likes being taken care of. I think the long term fairness is something you touched on with the response for #2 but it is worth highlighting and, for women who don't plan to be at home wives, that cooking is something that has to be done daily, dovetails into food shopping and is work. Can be a lot of it. Should be shared.


  28. Athol,

    Great post, there is a male side to this double standard that the women I live near have no problem with. They complain a lot about doing things "around the house" like laundry and picking up, but they will leave you high and dry when it comes time to clean out the gutters or cut the grass. I'm just saying, ladies it does go both ways here!

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