Love, Beer and Chocolate Cake Theory 101

I got told today from a friend that I’ve successfully managed to destroy love. That once all is said and done, by tearing apart love into it’s hormonal and neurotransmitter bits, it’s all just not the same anymore. He wishes he knew his wife loved him for just him, rather than because he’s running the MAP and doing X, Y and Z.  I think there’s an element of truth to all that. It’s a little like I’ve explained how a magic trick works and now you don’t get to enjoy watching the trick anymore. The wonder is gone, the amazement is gone, the delight is gone.

Love is a little bit like eating chocolate cake. Everyone likes to eat chocolate cake and most of you showed up here hoping to get a slice. Instead you find yourself in a research kitchen where we mostly do stuff like tear chocolate cakes apart to see how they’re made. There’s discussion about flour and eggs and milk and how hot the oven has to be. Tips about greasing the pan and how to ice it. Writing about the shelf-life of chocolate cake makes people angry for some reason too. By the time we’re done, you’re all so sick of hearing about how chocolate cake is made, you’re starting to not want to hear or see another chocolate cake in your life.

Just give it a minute. It’s like you’re at the train station complaining it’s not very much like your destination.


…it’s all going to sink in and one day you’re going to just start throwing all the ingredients together. You’ll mix it just right and out it in the oven at the perfect temperature. The timer will ding and out comes this amazingly perfect chocolate cake. When you put it in your mouth, you aren’t going to taste Chocolate Cake Theory 101. All you’re going to taste is the delicious, delicious, chocolate cake. Warm, gooey and sweet. Nom nom nom nom.

The trouble is right now you’re not experiencing the end result of learning all this stuff just yet. You’re not at the end point of running your MAP. Right now it all feels like an abstraction and you’re also not getting all the love and sex and attention you want from her. So when you run your MAP and you find that level of interest you want coming to you, it’s going to feel good. The fact you have to do X, Y and Z to make her pay attention that way, is really no different than you having to turn the oven on to 350, use three eggs and exactly two cups of flour.

What you’re struggling with is moving from an unconscious relationship, to a conscious relationship. In an unconscious relationship “love” is the happy circumstance of two people getting along very well just doing whatever they do naturally when they are in a relationship. However people aren’t static and people change over time, what used to work perfectly well without trying, may not work so well over time. After a while it may even be counter-productive. Your relationship may be failing as “love” flickers out and dies.

That’s why you’re here, to unlearn what you were doing when you were unconsciously doing wrong and to learn what you were unconsciously doing right. It’s a lot of mental effort, but once you learn this stuff, you can consciously do what works in your relationship. There will be a lag between learning it, doing it and finally feeling it. But you will feel it.

It’s an amazing thing to learn all this. As I’ve said before, you are not some disembodied soul that is the “real you” riding around in your body. Your higher-level sapien brain is a late adaptation to work as a tool for your Body Agenda. Your brain and your body are one and the same thing, your body is the real you. Hormones and neurotransmitters carry information back and forth inside your brain like a big meat computer. The information is your thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings are real world physical objects.

I know that’s a lot to mentally grasp, but consider that psychotropic medication comes in little tiny pills, and those little tiny physical objects when swallowed have the express purpose of changing the way people think and feel. If that doesn’t make your head spin I don’t know what will. Likewise, anyone who has taken a drink of alcohol has experienced the same change in mood and expression as well. You throw alcohol into a carbon based meat computer and it gets a little loose and playful. Add more and it gets mean. Add too much and it tries to eject as much alcohol as it can in a big old mess and then shuts down and reboots in safe mode. Beer is a physical object and is essentially a psychotropic medication in liquid form.

When you drink beer, you can’t choose to not be affected by the alcohol. You can choose not to drink the alcohol in the first place, but once you drink it, it’s in your system and will have an effect on you whether you want it to or not. Likewise, when you get to the end point of your MAP, and you’re finally with someone that loves you, has good sex with you and likes you, you’ll be affected by that whether you want it to or not.

Sigh… watch the Frenchman again people…

… and just enjoy the chocolate cake.

Edit:  And apparently chocolate cake was in my head because Helen Fisher said it first. Damnit!


  1. Codeazure says

    That movie is a mess of incomprehensible gibberish. But your extract make sense … sort of.

    I also like the analogy of alcohol rebooting into safe mode. Never feels very safe at the time ;-)

    Your main point about turning the unconscious into conscious is a big one. You also made this point in “Are Women Like Exotic Pets?”. It makes life much easier if you can understand and control things to the direction you both like.

  2. Rachael says

    I am of the impression that ‘who’ you are is a result of the sum of your parts. The X + Y + Z – IS who you are. ZLX1 made a far more eloquent post in the comments of ‘Relative Sex Rank vs True Sex Rank’ than I can even hope to make. It is relevant to this post too.
    A small excertp
    “Here’s another thought…people say things like “I don’t want him or her to like me because of X, I want them to like me because of who I am”
    I used to say things in my head like “I want a woman to like me for me, not because of my career, money or the things I have.” I guess a woman might say “I want him to like me for me and not just my boobs.” Lolz.
    Well, all those extra things like career, bank account, clothes, your looks, your hobbies, talents, interests, hair cut, boobs, personality, etc. Those ARE all a part of what makes up the total package of you that you bring to the world. If someone likes one, some or all of those things about you, then good job! You made yourself into an interesting and multifaceted person who has a lot of things that are likable about them. The other person IS actually liking you for you, because those things are all a part of what makes you, you.”

  3. Mr Burgundy says

    Thing is… I’d guess anyone who knows a bit about evolutionary biology, and has understood its implications, has asked themselves the “what is love” question at some point. If you’re romantically inclined, it’s a bit much to see the idea of romantic love brought down to the level of an everyday bodily behaviour like hunger or thirst (even though romantic poets have been using those things as metaphors for centuries!). Before I found MMSL I was learning about evolutionary biology and had similar reactions to your friend.

    But, now I can see that this is the way things really are, I can *enjoy* them for what they are; an architect knows how a building is designed, but can still enjoy the feeling of being in a well-lit, beautiful space; a sound technician knows how modern recordings are mixed and layered but can still be moved by good music. Maybe they appreciate it more than others because of that behind-the-scenes knowledge.

    To use your analogy, MAP is having your cake and eating it.

  4. Liz says

    I don’t actually like chocolate. Or cake. (Yeah, I said it.) But the point is good.

    OT: I’m typing this in a library (long story) and there’s a small child throwing the biggest tantrum I’ve ever seen. The man beside me is doing that thing where he murmers everything he writes and everything he reads. FML. *eyetwitch*

  5. says

    A miracle is still a wonder even if you understand it! I studied science and am no less in awe of God’s handiwork than before I started – more so in fact! :-) C

  6. says

    To some degree, I’d agree with “It’s a little like I’ve explained how a magic trick works and now you don’t get to enjoy watching the trick anymore. The wonder is gone, the amazement is gone, the delight is gone.” except that the degree of failure, frustration and grasping to understand why things aren’t going your way is also gone. That’s a good trade-off.

    I do agree that learning this stuff does seem to provide the cheat codes to the game at hand and can take some of the spontaneous magic out of certain situations. It is like any skill or sport, it takes a lot of practice, trial and error and investment to make it work and to become second nature. Since there are so many variables in life, even on a day to day basis (obligations, kids, opportunities, etc.) being able to adapt the cheat code for all that can go on still keeps things interesting.

    Anyways, I’d rather know the magic trick and still watch magic, than not being let into the show at all. MMSL provides the key to that opportunity. For those of us with the knowledge, even if its not integrated into our practice fully yet, it changes things for the better which is always a good thing.

  7. says

    Knowing doesn’t detract from the experience of something. I know how a needle works, but it still hurts when I give blood. It does however mean that I can consider it ‘just’ a needle.

    Knowing how love works doesn’t make it less sweet. But it does make you a lot more able to deal with it in a realistic fashion. Meaning that you can have that delicious chocolate cake and eat of it, every day, without getting fat ;)

  8. Ted D says

    For me the issue is this: when I didn’t know all this stuff, and I attracted my SO, I assumed it was because she loved and wanted me. Now when I purposely act a certain way or do a certain thing to cause that attraction, it just feels fake and makes me feel worse because not only am I intentionally manipulating her, but I was doing it before, which means she really was never attracted TO ME, but how I acted and behaved. At least when I didn’t know, I didn’t feel guilty for manipulation. Now? At this point, my relationship is solid, but I feel less rewarded by that fact. It is no longer a natural attraction or a result of my awesomeness, it is because I am “consciously” manipulating the entire situation to my favor. Sure, that is also in her best interests provided she still wants to be with me, but it means that *I* am fully responsible for its success. It is no longer a matter of nature, it is a matter of will. I’m completely on board with things like my career success relying on my will and purposeful effort, but in my relationship it all just seems to “corporate” to me. In some ways I literally hate knowing how to emotionally manipulate a person, and I now find myself having to use that information on the person I claim to love. It really does seem very mercenary…

  9. FeralFelis says

    Great topic!
    I read in another blog last week that I am responsible for everything. Not everything that happens to me, but for every action I take, for every feeling I feel. I’ve read it before, but it really sunk in this time, and that feeling of overwhelm is a bit like the feeling of overwhelm you discuss in this post.
    As I was reading the comments, it occurred to me that same overwhelm happened when I learned how to drive. I was consciously manipulating the car and I had to think about every dang little thing. But then it got easier and easier, and now I manipulate a car without even thinking about the fact that I’m manipulating it; it’s just taking me where I want to go, and there’s no more angst than walking around my back yard.
    What a relief to know new behaviors just take practice and time to incorporate before we reach unconcious competency!

  10. Changed Man says

    MMSL and the MAP has played a huge part in getting my marriage moving back to a direction of ‘goodness’ but I feel that attraction, love, and commitment can’t be boiled down to just one ‘truth’. Don’t misunderstand me, ‘gaming your marriage’ is a huge part of the truth, but it’s still only a part… in my mind there has to be more.

    One of the other parts that makes sense to me is the concept of ‘Real Love’ vs infatuation. To quote Sheryl Paul’s channeling of M. Scott Peck, “Love is action. Love is tolerance. Love is learning your partner’s love language and then expressing love in a way that he can receive. Love is giving. Love is receiving. Love is plodding through the slow eddies of a relationship without jumping ship into another’s churning rapids. Love is recognizing that it’s not your partner’s job to make you feel alive, fulfilled, or complete; that’s your job. And it’s only when you learn to become the source of your own aliveness and are living your life connected to the spark of genius that is everyone’s birthright can you fully love another. “

  11. Abby says

    Ted, your problem lies in thinking that “how I behave” is not part of “who I am”. On the contrary “how I behave” is MOST of “who I am”. If you behave differently, you alter “who you are”. Every act you take is a part of what forms the youness of you. Someone who trains very hard to become a brilliant painter knows all about the mechanics of painting and aesthetics and how people emotionally react to certain brushstrokes and lines and colors – does that make the painter “fake” for “manipulating” the emotions of the people who see his painting? So learning this stuff is not making you “fake” or less awesome – it’s making you a master at this aspect of life, which, contrary to modern culture, actually does take learning and doesn’t go all that well for people who bumble about not knowing what they’re doing. Relationships require skills, just like anything else worth doing. Knowing what you are doing and knowing WHY you are doing it is way more awesome than going through life totally ignorant. An animal does things unthinkingly and spontaneously, but that’s no way for a rational human being to live. Ditch the faulty thinking that “how I act” and “who I am” are two different things. They are not. Just think about it – you could sit on a pole and go “ommm” instead of acting in a way you know to be attractive – but would you still be the same person your SO fell in love with? Nope. You’d have “changed” – by your actions! For every other person on the planet, all they can see of “you” is “what you do” – every other part of “you” that you can see, like your thoughts and feelings, nobody else knows about unless you ACT on them. You are how you behave.

    And as to emotional manipulation – most women are naturally born at Level 70 in Emo Manip skills so you’d better level up on that one just as a countermeasure, man!

    You as the responsible party: welcome to reality, where traditional gender roles are not social constructions. Thousands of years of human experience turns out to be correct, who’d have thunk it! /irony Yes, you are the leader. Don’t whine about it. (Now, you’re not quite FULLY responsible. If she goes crazy and decides to atom-bomb the relationship, she’s going to do so no matter how “manipulating” i.e. “attractive and a good mate” you are. You’re not actually forcing her to do anything against her will, and you can do everything “right” but the outcome is not 100% guaranteed, because women do have minds of their own, after all!)

    Think of it like this: your SO wants to love you. So you’re making You the most lovable You you can be. How is that not a gift to her as well as to yourself?

  12. says

    I tend to think about the things that Athol teaches as more of managing than manipulation. We all manage people and situations in our lives subconsciously every day. We manage ourselves and our feelings, our own behaviors and reactions. We want to improve ourselves so we actively manage changing the way we do something or how we respond. The elements of MAP is how a man improves himself, how he manages himself day to day to be the best man he can be, the man he presents to his wife. Yes the end goal is to get something back in return; there is always a positive return that is hoped for in anything we do in life.

    So now you have implemented MAP. You have managed your own life, made changes in your behavior and physical appearance that does make you more attractive to your wife or SO. You have also changed how you respond to negative attitudes and respond in ways that diffuse negativity hoping to change the attitude to a positive one. Now the ball is in her court. She has a say in how she will respond and is not manipulated to act in any certain way. She notices that there are changes in you and now it is up to her to manage herself accordingly to you or she can move further away either physically or emotionally. If she is responding positively then you have helped her to move in a positive direction in her own self improvement. That’s all MAP really is; moving forward toward self improvement. MAP was written primarily with men in mind, but I have learned a lot from it on how to improve myself.

    My husband has told me a couple of times recently that he is moving forward, improving who he is. He has told me straight that I can follow him or I can get left behind. I love him. I want him. I don’t want to get left. So I make changes in my own behavior and appearance to keep up with him. He is not manipulating me in any way. His management of himself causes a response in me that is much more positive than the responses that I used to have. I like myself much more since my husband has implemented MAP. I like him much more also, and I am much more attracted to him; not because he manipulates me, but because he is improving who he is and I am following him and his example and improving who I am.

  13. Pegala says

    The phrase ‘existential angst’ comes to mind. The dawning realisation that you are alone. It’s scary but liberating.

  14. Highlander says

    Well, I’m in the camp that’s not feeling very good about all this. I’ve always been aware of our male/female hard-wiring of attraction, but was unprepared to see up front and personal just how fragile it all is. After watching my wife of 24 years change from one of the most loving people I’ve ever known into an alien as she began peri menopause, it strikes me as terribly sad that it’s all chemicals and hormones. My wife hit 44 and all hell broke loose, no amount of Map or sex rank will protect you from a spouse in MLC. It’s frightening to behold how a whole life, children and loving spouse and home gets tossed like yesterday’s coffee grounds by a chemical switch in the brain. I think the Zen masters are right, it’s all just an illusion, enjoy the ride while you can guys, it can all go south in an instant.

  15. says

    To run with the cake analogy a bit, following the MAP is a little like following a recipe. Anyone can do it: you measure the ingredients, you mix them together, you put them in the pan, and you bake it as hot as the recipe says for as long as the recipe says. It’s how almost everyone learns to cook, and when the cake comes out right and everyone compliments you on it, you say, “Whatever, I just had a really good recipe. All I did was not screw it up. It’s the guy who wrote the recipe who’s responsible for this cake, not me.” You feel like you’re not really COOKING, just following instructions. And this is true enough as far as it goes.

    But next time you go to follow that recipe, you find that you’re missing an ingredient and you make a small substitution. Oh, my cookie recipe calls for walnuts and all I have is pecans. Well, I’ll try that and see how it changes the finished product. Sometimes your adjustment will fail and sometimes it will succeed, but each time you will learn something.

    And if you keep at it long enough, eventually you’re a master chef and you no longer need a recipe at all. You can just look at what you have on hand and figure out how to whip something up out of it from scratch. That’s when the magic happens. Someone might ask you, “What an interesting choice. Why did you decide to use extra brown sugar and cut back on the butter?” And maybe in retrospect you can tell them, “Well, I think it worked because blah blah blah.” But you weren’t thinking that at the time. You did it because it felt like the right thing to do.

    That’s what happens when you internalize married game. You’re no longer thinking of it in terms of what an AMOG would do in the Time Before Writing to maximize dopamine response for pair bonding blah blah blah jargon jargon jargon. You’re just doing what feels right, because you have a deep understanding of how relationships work. That’s the endgame.

    The dangerous thing about relationships is that they can work really well without much effort right at the beginning because by sheer happenstance we’ve run into someone whose personality at that particular point in their life meshes really well with our personality at that point in our life. So we get tricked into thinking that it’s supposed to be that effortless forever. It’s as though we had a roll of store-bought cookie dough and made that, and then got thrown into a kitchen with eggs flour milk butter chocolate chips and no recipe and told to whip up a second batch and got frustrated that we didn’t know how. The made-from-scratch cookies are going to take a lot more effort and learning and failed batches to get right, but once you learn how, they’re always tastier than store-bought.

    Have I sufficiently butchered this analogy yet? (-:

    Re: “But I want them to like me for ME, not X!”

    Think of it this way: by reading the blog and books and following the MAP, you are the kind of person who loves their S.O. so much that you will put forth an incredible amount of effort and thought to make your relationship work. You are that committed to your marriage or LTR that you will hit the gym every day or get that big promotion or buy a new wardrobe or quit smoking/drinking or whatever other part of the MAP you’ve determined will give you the biggest boost. Athol’s advice may provide direction to your efforts, but only YOU can provide the effort itself. And when your efforts pay off, it’s not the specifics (the new body or the new paycheck or the new wardrobe or the new Alpha attitude) your S.O. loves: it’s YOU for being willing to do what you had to do to improve what you were bringing home to them every night.

  16. Christy says

    Ted, don’t forget that there are pheremones involved. I remember Athol talking a long time ba ck about imprinting. I met my husband in junior high. We were both first loves for each other. Circumstances made us part ways unwillingly. 30 years later we find each other again. Two failed marriages each. Is the spark still there? Is it possible we were meant to be? Yes. But doesn’t this contradict all that’s said here? Nope. It’s the fiundation for a consciously happy relationship. We’re both well-aware of the MAP and that we’re each running it always. It makes our relationship better and helps us through the rough spots. He’ll tell me to put my hamster ba ck in its cage, and I know what he means. I can ask him for more alpha or more beta and he.knows to respond.

    Maybe the conscious bits are like learning a new skill. It hurts to learn to ride a bike. But soon you’re riding no-handed and throwing popcorn at your friend as you ride back from the corner store, laughing your ass off.

    The initial attraction has to be there. The fire has to be stoked and tended over time. The red pill feeds.the fire.

  17. RedPillNewb says

    I got involved in a lenghty discussion of “Game” online a couple years ago (in particular defending it against people,especially women who were, contemptuous of it), and somebody came out with a great analogy. He said that “be yourself” was about as worthless as relationship advice as “keep your eye on the ball” was for baseball. For someone naturally sexy and charming, being yourself naturally results in positive relationship results. For somebody naturally athletic, keeping your eye on the ball naturally results in catching or hitting it.

    It’s also related to the career advice “do what you love.” If what you love is digging into the financials of lots of companies to identify the undervalued ones and invest in them, and then picking great management teams to bring out their full potential, then you should definitely do what you love. Ditto if what you love is inventing world-changing technology and selling billions of units. But if what you love is reading 18th century Russian poetry, you may need to learn an actual marketable skill at some point, or be hot enough that you can marry well.

    Everybody can appreciate that working hard to become more athletic does not detract from the resulting skill, strenth, and grace of the athlete. Similarly, working hard to raise your value as a worker doesn’t mean people hold you in contempt because you weren’t born knowing how to read a spreadsheet or explain the rule against perpetuities. Why should working hard to be a better romantic/sexual partner detract from the results? Why is this one area of our life off-limits to self-improvement?

    I’ve been an abysmal Captain for many years. I’ve failed a lot of fitness tests (and passed a handful). And right now, I’m struggling with the career part of self-improvement, mostly because I dislike both my current job and the actions that are necessary to achieve greater success in my field (and since greater success means doing my current job, only more so, I struggle to muster any enthusiasm for “success” of that kind). About the only thing I do right is pull her hair. But now I can see why my wife is responding poorly and I can try to fix it. She and I and our children will all be better off for it. That’s not killing love, that IS love.

  18. FJ34 says

    Abby and Ben took words right out of my fingers. Exactly.
    I was going to make the same points about “what I do” making me “who I am.” And like Ben, I was going to say that how two people run the map, while formulaically doing the same things, will bring to that formula the essential unique parts of themselves that attracted their mate in the first place. To their mates, their MAPs don’t look identical. I love my husband’s Alpha stance and it turns me on in an incredible way, but I have seen other men’s Alpha persona and it made me roll my eyes a bit inside–while their wife melted and giggled. NOT because they did it wrong, but because that man didn’t have the same mannerisms and voice inflection and facial expressions as my man does, and I like my man’s characteristics so I picked him. A man “doing” Alpha or Beta things changes who he is in a very physical sense, but there is still a mystery to the attraction we feel for each other. Balancing the A/B is like putting a new engine in a car–what attracted me to that make and model was there all along, but I’d be darned if I’m going to spend my life coaxing along a lemon.

    And to carry the car analogy a bit further, some of us read Consumer Reports before buying to avoid such lemons on the lot. I was not the desperate college girl who had to have a date, and my husband and I spent a lot of time talking about everything under the sun before we got serious. I chose a good, good guy and love that his kind heart is what pushes his Beta out of balance, and doubly love that he is letting out his Alpha more and more these days. But he isn’t a jerk or a slob or a mamas boy or emotionally unstable. I mpulse car purchases based on that new car smell and money burning a hole in your pocket (LOL!) are just plain risky.

  19. says


    There’s nothing wrong with “be yourself” if by “be yourself” you mean “be genuine; be honest; don’t be fake.” It’s when people say to “JUST be yourself” that really gets my goat.

    If “just” being yourself worked, nobody would ever be lonely. By definition, you literally can’t do anything else! That’s about as useful as saying, “Be a carbon-based life form.” I wasn’t exactly considering doing something other than that today.

    By all means, be yourself, but don’t JUST be yourself. Be your best self. Be the smartest, strongest, funniest, most charming, sexiest version of yourself you can possibly muster up. If learning Game is what it takes to do that, that doesn’t make you any less yourself. It just makes you the you who wised up and started attacking the problem in a systematic way instead of flailing about willy-nilly like a chump.

  20. says

    Yep – the Love Removal Machine
    is pretty much
    Reality now.

    The ultimate and only END for courtly behavior
    ruined by feminism.
    Too bad, 99% of people are still devotees of the Old Guard.
    Nothing – NOTHING – drives it into ignorant skulls
    like a real, live DIVORCE

  21. FJ34 says

    Blame Feminism, but also blame the “cuz I said so” kind of fatherhood that didn’t pass on the WHY along with the traditional male/female roles. Talk to your kids about this stuff.

  22. Dasugo says

    Did you just use my favorite movies to explain MAP? I am already a fan. No need to impress me . really.

  23. Mark says

    @ Ted

    “she really was never attracted TO ME, but how I acted and behaved

    As Abby said, there really is no difference. She can’t feel what you feel or read your mind. Your entire inner world is completely blank to everyone around you. The only way they pick up on who you are is by what you say and do. These things are not involuntary actions on your part. You get to decide how to act and what you say. Your emotions might guide you towards or away from certain responses, but they don’t actually prevent you from responding differently. Empathy is important and people can pick up on your feelings, but that’s sort of not the main point here.

    As Dale Carnegie said in ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’, everyone in the world is mostly concerned with how they feel, rather than how you feel. They want to know what’s in it for them. Women, in particular, want to know how you can make them feel good. It’s not necessarily a bad or a manipulative thing to be aware of this. In fact, it can be totally altruistic to think of others. Even the Bible recommends that we spend our time thinking of others rather than just ourselves.

    Your problem seems to be that by acting out of a mental decision, rather than the impulse of your emotions, that the action is no longer genuine. If it is rationally-motivated, it then becomes calculated and therefore insincere. And if it is in your nature to act from your feelings and you now think you have to change to always weigh up your every decision before you act, then that means you now have to become someone you are not. Am I close?

    You can still be yourself. And your wife can still feel love for who you genuinely are. The thing to remember is that feelings are alterable. They are affected both ways. You can feel an emotion and then act on it; and you can act and then feel an emotion. Sometimes when I’m depressed I’ll go for a jog in a park and afterwards I’ll feel great. I acted contrary to my emotions, which would have had me sitting alone at home doing something self-destructive, yet by acting contrary to my emotions, they changed for the better, which is the end result that I wanted. They key is to train yourself to always move towards the positive emotions. Your wife is loving? Respond positively. Your wife rejects you? Do something else that’s positive. The ultimate goal is the same as it is in virtually any circumstance in life: to feel good. After a while you do a lot of it habitually, without thinking. Are you changing who you are? Yes, in a way. But you’re basically just pursuing happiness, which any sane person would do anyway. And happy people are easier to love. That doesn’t mean you can’t have bad days and still be deserving of love, but it means that your focus is, as much as is possible, on how to make everything work for the best. Nothing positive ever comes from being negative.

  24. Sai says

    @Athol – Nice metaphor. I like it.

    @Everyone responding to Ted – You’re only half right. There is no difference – to the SO.

    @Ted – That means the only one who sees the difference is you (all omniscient beings aside). So weigh your options and do what Ted would do.

  25. Rachael says

    “And as to emotional manipulation – most women are naturally born at Level 70 in Emo Manip skills so you’d better level up on that one just as a countermeasure, man!”

    Can I just say, that the level of emotional manipulation that I witness from my 11 year old sons female friends is alarming to me! I knew girls could be demanding and emotionally manipulating in their teens, but to see it so young really surprised me. Do they witness this at home I wonder? I know 95% of my husbands friends are betaised and nagged and manipulated into submission by their wives, and the wives brag to each other about how “under control” their husbands are. Girls are being taught to do this at a young age. My mother told me when I was about 12 that if she wants something from my father all she has to do is cry. “Works every time” she said. I Realised about 10 years ago that I was heading down the same path, that all these manipulations and ‘princess entitlements’ that are so ingrained in young girls, were not making me happy. It took alot of introspection and self awareness to recognize it and when I did I was disgusted with myself and at the behavior that women teach each other. It saddens me that this appears to be the rule rather than the exception, and that the rationalization hamsters tell all who will listen that this is how you teach your daughters to be strong, independent and in control of their lives.

  26. Steve says

    I think its partially instinctive for women to use emotional manipulation. Goes back to the different wiring game talks about. I have a 5 year old daughter who I love to death and is the most adorable thing ever, when she’s not throwing a fit :). She already knows how to emotionally manipulate, and its very difficult sometimes to tell the difference between her real hurt feelings and when it is simply “faked” to get her way.

    A few days ago she pitched a flying fit about wanting something or the other. She cried like something was terribly wrong, heartbreaking to hear. It was enough to get the immediate attention of even an experienced parent who knows that many heartbreaking cry’s aren’t necessarily real. You would think something very terrible had just happened. Anyway, later that day, she was happily playing in her room and talking away like she does. Very casually, and without really thinking about it, she mentioned to me “I fake cried to Mom and got my way”. I was actually quite stunned. Not that she over-reacted and threw a fit, but that she totally aware that it was all fake. I didn’t say anything, but just thought to myself, now that is very interesting isn’t it!!

  27. FlyingDutchman says

    Women will try to emotionally control their men. This is the nature of things. They will attempt it whether they are conscious of it or not. This is the basis of pretty much any fitness test. If you give in to it, if you are effected by it, she loses attraction for you. Consciously, she might be pissed that you ignored her emotions, but subconsciously her attraction goes up.

    As the captian, you have to ignore her emotions, and look at what is actually happening. Look at behavior and ignore emotions. She will be attracted to you for it. Trust me. This is one of the hardest things for Beta guys to finally “get”.

  28. Rachael says

    I totally agree with you, but I do think there is a difference between an unconscious fitness test that is a desire for your man to push back, and the type of emotional manipulation that women use, and teach to their daughters, to emasculate men. Perhaps its a matter of women teaching their girls subconsciously about fitness testing. Either way, I agree that it should be ignored.
    I’m just glad I’m not a man, I could not be bothered with the drama LOL

  29. Random Angeleno says

    The sole correct response to a child’s tantrum is ignorance. You are only responsible for making sure they don’t hurt themselves or others while in the throes of the tantrum. Must be consistent about it from the very first time. Children, especially girls, are sneaky smart that way in learning to use tantrums to pull on your heart strings.

    For Ted… everything counts, all your actions are part of who you are. You sound like someone who is unable to embrace that concept. If you have to alter your conduct to have a positive effect on the relationship, how is that bad? How about when you consider the alternative? Look at it this way, what you were doing before was not working, was it? Can you freely admit that? If you keep saying “but I liked the old me better”, well then you have not accepted that the old you wasn’t getting you what you needed from your relationship. Change is not necessarily bad. Change in this case can be for the better. Kind of like being promoted to management and discovering that your previous work relationships now need a new approach. You have a choice: you can mourn the loss of the old way of relating to your coworkers or you can embrace the new opportunity, but you can’t do both for long. Choose. That’s on you.

  30. horseman says

    Sorry if i am.late to the party.
    If you are the only one who sees it then maybe you have a decision to make. as many pointed out you cannot force her to see whar she doesnt see. so remember all the posts about fungible wives. to use the cake analogy. you try your best but the cake still comes out burnt and inedible. either salvage it with frosting or throw it out and start over. even juloia child burnt a cake or two.

  31. Angeline says

    @Steve – pitcher of cold water works really well to short-circuit a tantrum. Since she confided that little bit of manipulation, you could bring that up if outrage and “how could you do that!” comes up. “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, the full contact Grimm version, is perhaps in order, too.

    As for Ted, lots of frustrated words on various posts decrying the peek under the skirt of “love”, to find that it takes effort. Frankly it sounds like the flip side of the nagging, overweight wife saying, “but he should love for ME, what I am *inside!*” Or the bride who thinks that the effort stops when she packs away her wedding planner, and finishes the thank you notes for the wedding gifts.

    You can be the pinball, careening around the board, reacting. Or you can work the flippers.

  32. Rachael says

    Angeline I hope your joking. A pitcher of cold water over a 5 year old child?
    I hope you don’t have kids.

  33. FJ34 says

    I would definitely take Athols advice and apply Game principles to the daughter’s tantrum. Mom and Dad as a united front of course. Check out John Rosemond, who in my opinion is the Athol Kay of parenting. :)

  34. A reader says

    I’m still in the camp that says dissection ruins the experience. When I first heard Debussy’s Claire de Lune it was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever experienced. I HAD to learn to play it myself, so I set to work and after a lot of time and effort, I could. I’d memorized every single note and gotten all the motor patterns into my fingers. Intellectually I saw the scale modes and dissonant harmonies he used and understood why they ‘work’. I feel a sense of accomplishment when playing it and it’s mildly thrilling to nail the hard runs with just the right phrasing and dynamics, like a good golf swing perhaps. But hearing it no longer tugs on my heart strings at all, and it never will again.

  35. A reader says

    BTW, you should credit Helen Fisher with the chocolate cake analogy.

    Googled and found it. Fixed. I don’t remember reading it, but I must have.

  36. Ted D says

    @Mark – “Your problem seems to be that by acting out of a mental decision, rather than the impulse of your emotions, that the action is no longer genuine. If it is rationally-motivated, it then becomes calculated and therefore insincere. And if it is in your nature to act from your feelings and you now think you have to change to always weigh up your every decision before you act, then that means you now have to become someone you are not. Am I close?”

    YES THIS! but, let me clarify a little. My dilemma is this: now that I’m looking more closely at how this all works, I’m beginning to wonder if I don’t have some sociopathic issues. Let me explain…

    Once upon a time I used to believe I was very empathetic. I find it easy to look at someone, see how they are acting based on external stimulus, and then “empathize” with them. However, the more I look at how I do this, the more I am realizing that I do NOT empathize at all. Instead, I am simply analyzing how they are acting and deducing how I should react in turn to be supportive. I find that I can under most circumstances very easily “turn off” my emotional responses to anything/everything and then simply act from a logical frame. It works wonders in an emergency where most people freak out and flake. I simply shut all that panic down and concentrate on the task at hand. However my entire life the ONE place I don’t do this is: in my romantic relationships. I’ve always used them as my “place of rest” in terms of all this emotional control. Now I’m finding that even with my SO I must be cognisant of how I act because “my true self” (meaning the way I would naturally react without thinking) is either wrong or broken. I hate surprises for this same reason: it makes me feel like others expect me to react a certain way, and I feel compelled to ACT that way to please them, when most of the time my natural reaction to a surprise is something along the lines of “that is really cool. Thanks.” The same goes for being scared by surprised, as in someone jumping out of a closet at me. My initial reaction is to pummel whoever/whatever scared me, to a pulp. It takes everything in my power to NOT punch someone square in the face when they scare me like that. I once knocked my best friend out cold because he was drunk and forgot how I reacted to being frightened. I reacted before I even gave it a thought. That was the last time anyone jumped out at me at a party! :-P

    So what this comes down to for me is the only truly unfiltered emotional connection I have with another human is the one with my SO, and “game” says I can’t have it. I can’t be fully and freely connected to her the way I’d like because it seems the “real me” just isn’t right. I can’t be totally connected to my children because it would inhibit my ability to be a good parent, as in if I truly connected to them the way I think I should, I would not be able to punish them without being overwhelmed with sorrow and guilt for making them feel bad. As it is I occasionally have to hide in my room after reprimanding one of them because it made me feel so awful to do it, but I KNOW it is what is best for them. (which at least makes me feel a little better in regards to sociopathy: I do have genuine feelings! I’m joking of course as I know I have feelings, but I wonder if I’m broken because I can turn them off…) I can’t keep myself isolated from everyone else or I fear I really might become sociopathic to an extent. It is only my connections to others that lend me any empathy at all. I truly believe that had I grown up in a less loving environment, I could have become something very terrible, as I can see that I could learn to harm others with little to no compassion or sorrow about it. It is only my strong moral and ethical beliefs that would stop me in fact.

    I remember reading an article once where a sniper was asked what he felt when he pulled the trigger on a target. After a moment he said, “recoil.” I completely understand that, because I would “feel” the same. If I truly believed that “target” deserved to die and/or that his/her death is for the greater good, I could do it and sleep soundly at night. So it isn’t that I don’t feel like I’m capable of all this, it is that I’m afraid I might be too damn good at it, and frankly I’m a bit nervous to let that genie out of the bottle. and the very last thing I want is to be that cold to the people I love, since in some ways I truly believe it is ONLY them that keep me “attached” at all.

    “You can feel an emotion and then act on it; and you can act and then feel an emotion.” to me, acting a certain way to cause an emotion is very, very close to true sociopathy. The only difference is: a true sociopath still wouldn’t “feel” anything, but they would/could look convincingly like they did. I act that way towards 99% of the people I deal with every single day: showing them the face they expect to see, not the one my inner self knows is real. If I’m forced to do the same in my personal life, I will be unable to “be myself” with anyone. Asking me to be consciously aware of every interaction I have with my SO is like asking me to stay at work 24×7. Honestly I worry that if I go this route, I will simply stop “feeling” towards others at all.

    And morally, I take issue with anyone that “acts” a certain way to manipulate others. Yes, in some cases (such as a job interview) it makes sense and is expected. But the idea that my SO purposefully and intentionally used/uses specific actions to manipulate my emotions to ‘get her way’ would make me furious. Sure, I realize she does this without knowing it, and to me that is perfectly acceptable because it is not intentional. But now that I know all this, I can’t claim ignorance because I KNOW what I’m doing is manipulative, and it makes no difference if it is for good or bad. I’ve never had a job in sales precisely because of this. I could not use manipulation to get someone to buy my product, even if I truly believed it was the best product in the world, because to me that is morally wrong. I would rather present my product, explain why it is the best, and let them decide. Of course that wouldn’t do much for my paycheck, and no business wants an “honest” salesperson…

  37. RedPillNewb says

    Ted, pretty much everything you say about yourself could be me. A couple of years ago, I heard about Athol for the first time. But I never looked at his website until a couple of weeks ago, because things were generally OK (though not all that I wanted), and I felt just as you do about both manipulation and being “on” 24/7 rather than “on” at work and “off” at home.

    But…it’s been going downhill for me. I can’t even get a real kiss anymore. This from the woman who used to actively complain I wasn’t pulling her hair or spanking her hard enough. From a woman I know I can make orgasm 95% of the time. From the woman who used to wake me up at 2:00 AM by giving me a blowjob and then say “Sorry, but I need someone to pound me or I won’t be able to sleep.” Heck, she rarely says she loves me, even when prompted. And no, I don’t buy here excuse that she’s suddenly become asexual, or that she fears pregnancy (can you get pregnant from kissing? It’s been a while since bio class). But I have young children to think of, and frankly I like pounding the snot out of her. So the question is really what do I prefer: “Game” that makes me a little uncomfortable, or affair/divorce/aloneness? What would my children prefer? What would SHE prefer?

    I’ve made small changes, and the “I love you”s have started arriving totally unprompted. The kisses have started again. I’ve even evaded a few of them just for a laugh. I have a long ways to go, but I’m going to a better place. Not the perfect place where everything is effortless, but a better one.

  38. Ted D says

    @RedPillNewb – I don’t have a problem with the knowledge that manipulation works. I’ve seen it first hand all of my life. My problem is that I feel I have a moral obligation to NOT manipulate people, period. It doesn’t matter if the manipulation is for good or evil per se, it is simply the fact that I am consciously manipulating them that matters to me.

    I”m not knocking Athol’s advice at all. In fact, Athol has been very helpful to me privately with my relationship. My issue is that not only does what Athol suggests work, but it has MUCH wider implications than simply making good marriages. I truly don’t see game behaviors any differently than sociopathic behaviors: both are intended to allow a person to get what they want from another by manipulation. The only thing that makes “game” in a marriage at all respectable is the fact that it tends to make the wife happy. If I used “game” tactics to turn my SO into a true co-dependent (something I truly suspect IS entirely possible) no one here would defend me. If I abused her and kept her around by “gaming” her, I would be labelled a monster. So why is it OK simply because I’m giving HER what she wants? Where is the moral outrage that I’m using my superior knowledge to get what *I* want from her?

  39. Ted D says

    and just to be clear, I am in NO WAY unhappy with my relationship as it stands right now. Things are great. And, I now know that I have the ability to keep it that way. But at what cost?

  40. RedPillNewb says

    So why is it OK simply because I’m giving HER what she wants?

    Are you seriously asking me why giving your SO what she wants is OK? In what sense is “giving her what she wants” manipulation? It’s giving her what she wants! Sounds more like a gift than manipulation.

    “Game” is basically a tool to make yourself more desireable. As with any tool, it is the application that determines the morality of it. It is entirely moral to demolish your neighbor’s kitchen with a crowbar because he’s paying you to remodel it. It is immoral to demolish your neighbor’s kitchen with a crowbar because you hate him. The crowbar itself is totally amoral–it has no moral content. It isn’t a “good” crowbar or a “bad” crowbar. The tool is distinct from the use to which it is put.

    I would be one hell of a crappy husband and father if I didn’t do everything I could to build a happy and stable home for my family. If I had “game” as an inborn part of my personality, I’d be doing that without effort. Because I don’t, I need to do it with effort. But that doesn’t make me any less moral than if I build my family’s house using a hammer, rather than driving nails with my bare hands. God didn’t give me hammers for hands, and He didn’t make me naturally attractive to women (or at least, I’ve slipped without realizing it). So I’ll grab what tools I need to give my children what they deserve.

    But if it still bothers you, then send her over to MMSL to read about it. Then she can be conscious of the process, too. There are plenty of women here who are perfectly happy to be gamed. They like getting turned on by their SOs.

  41. gardenoflove says

    There are men and women that have never been taught the rudimentary behaviors and understanding of what interests and attracts the opposite sex. When the time comes to attract or keep a mate they have only a few basics to call on. Sometimes that is enough to get a marriage going but more will be called for most likely.
    This is true in careers (getting, keeping and succeeding in a job). It is true in learning a new hobby or improving in playing a musical instrument. Many initial behaviors are unknown to us and have to be learned and repeated until we have the outcome desired . We don’t always enjoy the process but look forward to the outcome.
    If any of the changes spoken of here aka THE MAP were unknown to you before,there may be something to learn. There are sites Athol mentions that seem to me to have a hard and cruel streak in them about the relationship between men and women. However, there is a reality to some things said. To make a simple exaggeration example: if your wife loved to be kissed often and you withheld such kisses because you were not interested in kissing or only preferred kissing as a prelude to sex would this be selfish or loving ? If you began experimenting and increased the number of kisses and she began to warm to you and even wanted sex more often,would this be selfish or loving? Here you would have acknowledged what you prefer,what she prefers and what would end up working well for both of you and adapted (not selfishly manipulated) accordingly. If your wife only prepared food for you that was careless or unappetizing to you,would you feel she was manipulating you to learn what you like to eat and change meals accordingly? Perhaps neither husband nor wife prefers the changes set out here and even resent making the changes,but it is all part of growing in understanding as to what makes men and women happier and more responsive.
    Could you not be happy and proud of yourself in learning the art of understanding how your manliness works and how to bring out the sexual feminine response in your wife. You are not being a mean manipulator but a teacher and guide and researcher on behalf of your marriage that your wife can then appreciate and respond to.

  42. says


    The ideal, I think, is to be able to switch modes depending on what’s appropriate to the situation. Everyone does this unconsciously to some extent: you’re a different you at work vs. when you’re hanging out with your friends vs. with your wife vs. with your kids vs. when you have to deal with an emergency situation etc. etc. etc. None of these modes are any more or less “the real you” than any of the others: they’re all you. They’re just different parts of you that you’ve developed to cope with different situations.

    Right now, you have one mode that you use to deal with your wife, a particularly unguarded and emotional version of you. Let’s call him Emotional You. You like Emotional You and he isn’t able to come out much, so you fear losing him if you can’t use him with your wife any more. You are developing another mode of interaction with your wife– let’s call him Game You– and you fear that Game You will completely supplant Emotional You in all of your interactions with her.

    Am I understanding you correctly so far?

    I would suggest the following:

    1.) Try to accept yourself as you are. Your emotions are a part of you and to be treasured, but that does not mean that your intellect is to be shunned as fake. Humans are incredibly complex creatures. No one part of you defines all of you, but each part contributes something to who you are.

    2.) Try to think of adding Game to your interactions with your wife, not as supplanting or erasing your current mode of interaction, but as adding to it. You may have to be Game You with her more often than Emotional You until things get better, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still bring Emotional You to her when you’re particularly in need of comfort. Try to find a balance between the two.

    3.) Think about why Emotional You is only able to come out with your wife and how that affects your relationship with her and with others. How does she see Emotional You? Does she want more or less of him? Is she able to meet all his needs by herself? Is he able to meet all of her needs? Is there anyone else– a parent, a sibling, a close friend– who you might be able to share Emotional You with? How would your wife feel about that? Glad that you’ve formed another close relationship? Jealous that you’ve found someone else to confide in? Relieved that some of the burden of meeting all of your emotional needs has shifted from her? Would she be more or less likely to bring her own emotional issues to you? How would you feel about that? Would it make your relationship with her better or worse? What about your relationship with yourself?

    These are all big questions, and a lot of them go far beyond getting relationship advice on a blog, so I’d also suggest going beyond Game blogs to try to answer them. Read some philosophy and some psychology. Read some hippy-dippy self-help crap that you’ll probably hate, and then think about why you hate it. If you’re not particularly a religious man, seek out some religious advice anyway and then think about which parts of it speak to you and which don’t and why. If you ARE a religious man, seek out some religious advice from some crazy religion you don’t know much about and think about how it compares to the religious advice you’re used to getting.

    Take your time and don’t get discouraged. You have your whole life to figure this stuff out. It’s worth doing.

  43. Wendy says

    @Ted: I couldn’t read your entire comment cause I am on my phone just for a bit, but I felt compelled to reply to this bit here: ” Instead, I am simply analyzing how they are acting and deducing how I should react in turn to be supportive. I find that I can under most circumstances very easily “turn off” my emotional responses to anything/everything and then simply act from a logical frame. It works wonders in an emergency where most people freak out and flake. I simply shut all that panic down and concentrate on the task at hand. However my entire life the ONE place I don’t do this is: in my romantic relationships. I’ve always used them as my “place of rest” in terms of all this emotional control. ”

    Ted, I grew up in a broken home. Consider if you were perhaps from an early age having to cope with emotional chaos and learn to stay “one step ahead” of what was going on to prevent or cope with someone blowing up/melting down. What they call “walking on eggsshells” around someone close to you. If so, I could share a bit more about my experience.

    Also about manipulating: realize that if your perspective is that you can easily make other people do what you want them to, you are seeing them as having no agency of their own. You don’t need to feel bad for other people making the choices they make. You behave the way you see fit to behave at a given time, and yes behavior is definitely a conscious effort until it becomes very engrained. What people do based on your behavior is their deal. Why should you feel guilty for what they chose to do or how they chose to respond to your behavior, frame, etc? In order for you to feel guilty of manipulating, you have admit to seeing people as puppets. Do you see them as puppets? Or are they people of their own will reacting to or ignoring what you do? For me the most important thing is, DON’T LIE. If i don’t lie, and I behave they way i behave, then it’s up to people to react how they will react. And if they react in a way I like/enjoy, then great, that’s affinity, team work, friendship, etc. If not, then now I know. How much I wanna invest in that situation is up to me. I am still invested in a few blood relations that require a lot of mental frame work on my part. But I do it on my terms, and I back out when I need to. Outside of blood relatives, I work to build good, team work type relationships that nurture me/them more than drain me/them.

    You really can’t control others that easily, if you really think about it. That is why people who are really controlling resort to brute force and/or yelling and/or lying. But if you remove brute force, yelling and lying (all lying) I don’t think it is that easy.

  44. Sai says

    @A reader – Are you so sure that it was the learning of it that has dissuaded it’s effect? People are fickle. Having learned it you can now listen to/playing that same beautiful but now-dead-to-you tone indefinitely. Or you can learn to compose (if you haven’t already) and alter it to tug at your heart strings again. If nothing else you’re in a better position to select another piece to be moved by.

    @Ted – Consider Jennifer’s approach, “[Insert problem] is just stressful. If there’s something you can do about it and you don’t do it, that would make me stress further.” You are free to be a sociopath as long as your freedom doesn’t infringe on others’ freedoms/sociopathic tendencies. John Lennon learned that the hard way when he wrote a song telling sociopaths to stop being sociopaths.

  45. Ted D says

    @Wendy – if I said that I spent much of my early childhood “walking on eggshells”, would it make some sense to you?

    I am also on my phone at the moment, but I learned to be quiet and walk lightly as a young child to keep the peace at home…

  46. Wendy says

    Hey Ted:
    Well, see, that’s where that illusion of control comes from. It was useful as comfort in our childhood, it is not useful anymore. It is just an illusion. People are gonna do what they are gonna do. When we actually succeeded at reading our loved one at home and actualy averted disaster on occasion, where we really in control? How many times did we read wrong= meaning, regardless of our mental jumping through hoops to read the situation, people still did what they were gonna do? Were we in control then?

    Putting your needs first is not manipulation. Behaving in a way that gets us what we need is exactly what we need to do, and in my book the caveats are: no brute force, no yelling, no lying. Hope that’s helpful.

    I hope what I said about manipulation in the previous post was helpful? People do make choices, even bad ones, out of their own volition, everyday. You control your frame and that’s about it, really. For me, honestly, after so many years, I really did see: the loved one who made me walk on eggshells so long ago, she really is on her own orbit. To step out of that orbit, I had to realize that she was gonna do what she was gonna do, and it was not my fault and especially not my responsibility.

    The only other thing that I can think of is: as fas as shutting down emotions, really good for us to unlearn that. Shutting down certain thought processes, yes, that’s been helpful to me. Unhelpful thoughts, draining thoughts, negative thoughts, fell free to shut them down. But feelings are important signals. I just note them, like post-its. For along time, I made a habit of always noting them. “that actually just pissed me off, that she said that” “I could just cry right now” “it annoyes me like hell when that happens”. Actually just note them to myself, mental post its, it is work. Then I got to the point when noting them wasn’t enough on certain occasions, i’d have to speak up, because I noted the feeling was strong. Never speak about my feelings, just speak up to protect myself, or to remove myself from the situation, or to simply make my voice heard. Feelings are important signals, like road signs to help you make decisions about your behavior. Your behavior. Because that is really all you control.

    I am just barely learning about game, so I am not sure how game overlaps with all this, you may know more than me about that.

  47. Ted D says

    Wendy – Yes, your comments certainly did help, at least by giving me food for thought.

    “I am just barely learning about game, so I am not sure how game overlaps with all this, you may know more than me about that.”

    For me, it comes down to imposing my will on another. I don’t have a problem stating what I want and expecting it, but using indirect methods of achieving that goal just seems devious to me. I realize that everyone has agency, but I’ll be honest and admit that I do believe I’m smarter than the average bear, and I’ve proven to myself that I can be VERY convincing, to the point of swaying others opinions or decisions, and it scares me a bit. Some people are simply very charming/convincing/pushy, and not only do I believe I’m capable of it, I can usually spot it in others rather quickly.

    So I’ve made conscious decisions throughout much of my life to NOT exert influence and NOT put myself in positions where I have more ‘sway’ over other people to avoid “the temptation”. The concept of emotional and mental manipulation are a bit scary to me, not only because I may be subject to it, but more so because I think I could easily accomplish it. And in fact I do tend to have control “issues” in that I very much dislike being controlled, and I very much dislike being in situations I cannot control myself. Of course I realize that full control isn’t possible, but I do my best to be in environments where I have maximized my control whenever possible.

    I’m starting to think that this isn’t an issue for most people. In fact, I believe that all of Athol’s advice is dead on for 95% of average “beta” men. These guys have probably never given a single thought to things like emotional manipulation, and even if they run the MAP, chances are they will only effectively implement about a 3rd of all the advice, which will likely give them stellar results. I have faith that this works for most guys. And to be clear, I’m not saying *I* couldn’t succeed with it either. But, I’m doing my best to simply concentrate on the stuff that improves myself, because even simple things like answering the question “do these pants make my ass look big” in the manner Athol suggests starts my red flags hopping that I’m treading into manipulative territory. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it is immoral at all! I come here because I feel like Athol is one of the most “moral” practitioners of game on the ‘net. But for me, even that little blip feels like a gateway to bigger and more complicated deception. As if giving myself a free pass for that “little white lie” would be the first step to justifying much more abusive behavior later on. I get that begging and pleading with your spouse is unattractive, but to me it is at least an honest and sincere attempt to get your needs met, rather than a sneaky and deceptive one. My preference would be to simply state my needs and wants and rationally discuss compromises. Of course, there is nothing at all attractive about that, and it will never induce “tingles”.

    In shutting down emotion: It isn’t something I can easily unlearn, and in fact I am pretty sure it was a learned response from early on, as I think you indicated in a round about way. To be honest, it is the only way I can cope with the worst life throws at me. Do be sure, not something I do a lot, but as you pointed out, it is a very effective way to squelch the “noise” in my head when “shit needs to get done”. I mostly just ignore emotional responses, but like you I’ve found that noting them and on occasion trying to figure out why I’m feeling them has been helpful. Most people don’t seem to understand this, but when I “get sad” I’m really not sad at that moment. To the contrary, at some point I will simply recognize that I’m feeling down and then have to figure out why. (when I was much younger, I used to be concerned that these seemingly random feelings I’d find in my head were actually projections from others, or or put another way, extra empathy on my part. I didn’t realize until I was in my 30’s that it was MY OWN emotions that I simply tended to ignore.) To be sure, tragic things trigger immediate responses, but in the day to day world, I’m simply not always aware of how I’m feeling at any given moment. I actually have to stop and think about it to figure that out. I bet people would be uneasy to know that when it takes me a few moments to respond to the typical “how are you feeling today?” type greetings. Not only does it take me a second to figure out so that I can answer honestly, but more often than not I have to filter it so that the response is socially acceptable. Most of the time now I just reply with “fine, and you?” simply because it is easier and makes them feel better.

    So are you suggesting that my particular mental “issues” are the result of early childhood? I’m not accusing you of going all Jerry Springer on me, but I’m very intrigued because to be honest, I’d mostly forgotten about “having to be quiet” when I was a young child until you mentioned it. I lived with my mother and grandparents, and my grandfather had awful back problems. He would take meds and lay down to sleep, and my mother and grandmother acted as if waking him would be instant death. Yes, he would rant and rave if/when disturbed, but the man never once raised a finger at me and I never saw him physically violent towards anyone. However looking back, it is pretty clear that there may have been some mental abuse going on between them. When I think on it, I can say that I did indeed “walk on eggshells” for much of my early childhood probably on into my teens. At that point, my grandfather retired and the entire atmosphere of the house changed substantially. I can say this, even when I was well over 380 pounds I could walk up a flight of stairs without making noise. ;-)

  48. Ted D says

    Ben – It isn’t so much that I’m more “emotional” with my SO, but that I don’t filter myself and my reactions when I’m with her. By “switching modes” between work and whatnot, what I’m describing is how I filter myself for the people around me. To be clear, I’m always myself. I simply change how I appear to others to fit whatever the situation calls for. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told what nice person I am, or how considerate and kind I am, when in fact I’m really not those things at all by my standards. It is simply the fact that those people never know my real thoughts and opinions, and I maintain a certain bit of distance from them to keep that in place. I DO NOT have real friends at work, and since my very first job I have only found and kept two real friends from the work place. Most of the time I find that the people around me are not very comfortable with the “real” me.

    If I understand “game”, then it implies that to some extent I need to have that same level of separation with my SO. I am not supposed to tell her my true intentions, because it seems like she would be more attracted to me if she didn’t actually know them. I’ve done my best to work around this, but it isn’t always easy. For example, the “ass look fat” question. Athol advises that the best way to answer that is basically to not answer it. Dodge, redirect, amplify, whatever you do, don’t be 100% honest. I HATE that type of “fix”, so instead I answer with “well you know I think your ass is hot, so the answer is going to be no, it makes your ass look hot.” She mostly just stopped asking, and I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. I very much dislike not being able to be 100% honest with her, because I can’t be 100% honest with anyone else. So what I’m really saying when I state that my “connection” to my SO is more emotional, is I tend to be totally honest with exactly how I’m feeling with her, and I don’t really think much about how what I’m saying will be received. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground for me here though, so if I start to filter my responses towards her, I don’t know if it is something I can adjust on an individual basis. I don’t have anyone in my life that I’m partially guarded with. I’m either on guard, or I’m not. I have a small circle of friends for exactly this reason. There just aren’t many people I can fully trust to NOT be offended by my unfiltered self. There are very few people that can accept that what I say isn’t meant to be hurtful or intentionally mean, but that I have the same lack of consideration for my own feelings as I do for everyone else’s. But the truth is, I simply don’t give how I feel about something a seconds thought, and that extends out to the rest of the world. The only way I can keep that from affecting others is to be “on guard” around them, and it simply takes too much energy to do it 24×7.

  49. Mark says

    @ Ted

    Surprise! ;)

    Oh, man, I can relate to what you’re saying. Even your party anecdote reminds me of when my wife arranged a surprise party for my 30th birthday. To trick me into going down to our basement where everyone was hiding, she acted really frightened and said she heard an intruder in our house. Imagine for a moment how a man of the house responds when his frightened wife tells him she hears someone in his house and, halfway down the basement stairs, he hears people moving around in the darkness. Think of some of the ways that could have gone really bad. Thankfully, I worked out what was going on when I was halfway down. I had a talk with her about it all later.

    You said that you have a kind of fear of letting down your control in case you end up as a bad person or something. The point about walking on eggshells absolutely translates to an adult with control issues in one form or another. Some people who go through particularly bad situations of this nature as children can even end up with OCD and schizophrenia as adults. An interesting thing about the brain is that not only do your experiences physically change your brain, but even what you think physically changes the brain. You can physically change your brain by what you think! That’s amazing to me. That means that anything to do with how you think, act, or feel is almost completely malleable. You can alter your mind just by thinking about it. ??As far as whether something is natural or not, when you learnt to speak, you learnt words, sentence structure, grammar, and so on. Today, when you express yourself from an emotional impulse, the words come to you easily, but that’s just because you spent years in training in order to make your speech come naturally. Right now you’re caught between learning a new way of expressing yourself and whether or not it’s natural for you, but the thing is, the only difference between what’s natural and what’s not natural is habituation.

    I honestly think you need to explore who you are some more. Personality stuff can be quite helpful in this sort of journey. Don’t just think about who you are, think about who you were when you felt your happiest as a kid and also how you feel when you are your happiest as an adult. You could start by reading stuff like THIS, THIS, and THIS. Yes, a lot of it looks a bit non-scientific, but it can be incredibly helpful none-the-less.

    I also strongly recommend that you practice being completely in the moment and not “all up in your head”. Take time every day to be very aware of everything coming in through your senses. But don’t think about them! Don’t itemize your experiences, like say, if you were out for a walk, don’t think, “I feel the ground under my left foot . . . here comes my right foot pressing down . . . I feel the breeze on my face and against my swinging arms . . .”. Don’t think at all, as much as that is possible, but also don’t fight your thoughts, because that will make it all worse. Just try to experience everything without mentally recording or noting it. To further this way of being, I suggest that you seek out new music that you haven’t heard before—preferably modern or classical, rather than classic rock, blues, country, or jazz. Go to new places. Try a new sport.

    You want to break away from the feeling of being a driver in your mind, as though you were two entities, and be in the here and now. Things might be a bit messy at first. You might react in ways that you don’t like. But that’s just a transitional phase and after a while you’ll be more in the moment, less “up in your head”, and more relaxed and happy. You will be able to be yourself and also act according to your values. You won’t suddenly cast off all restraints and run naked down the street. Think of it like playing a fast-paced sport. Athletes who play those sports are very in the moment. They don’t really think about what they’re doing. They just do it. Even when training they don’t think much about what they’re doing. They might analyze it later, off the court, but not while they’re playing. That’s the sort of mind-set you want. Also, take time to relax in ways that boost your brain’s alpha waves. Too much beta waves tend to be associated with over-thinking. So, much as I’m generally against TV, that can be a good way to get into a state of alpha brain waves. Meditation helps, too. And you can even buy alpha brain wave entrainment audio thingies. I can’t vouch for every one of them, but I think some are worthwhile. Getting out in nature helps quite a lot. And try reading less and learning less. Yeah, I know, that’s almost heretical to say, but you can do too much of it and it winds your brain up and wears you out.

  50. Ted D says

    RedPillNewb – “Are you seriously asking me why giving your SO what she wants is OK? In what sense is “giving her what she wants” manipulation? It’s giving her what she wants! Sounds more like a gift than manipulation.”

    the issue is, she never actually ASKED me to “game” her, so even if she reacts positively, it isn’t like I can ever know for sure if it is exactly what she wants. My issue is the assumption that I am doing the “right” thing simply because she responds positively. Hell, I’ve delivered bad news to people in a way that minimizes the trauma intentionally to keep them from reacting badly. Sure, the result was they didn’t flip a nutty, but there is no denying that it was the way I delivered the message that manipulated their response. Ideally I would much prefer to just state the truth and let them deal with how to react, but at the time *I* didn’t want to deal with being witness to crying and gnashing of teeth. In those cases, I can’t help but feel like I am being negatively manipulative. Now, I know people in medicine that do this daily, but in all cases I know of, they do it because they genuinely feel bad about having to give the news, and want to minimize the trauma for them. To me that is a noble cause compared to my selfish one, even though the results are exactly the same.

    THAT is what I mean when I talked about “”Are you seriously asking me why giving your SO what she wants is OK? ” Yes, I am asking, because to me, the only “right” way to do so is to do it FOR HER, not for my benefit. But, I can’t see ‘gaming’ her as anything other than “giving her what she wants” for MY benefit. If she wants to be happy with me, it serves both of our needs. But again, she never expressed a desire for me to “game” her, so it IS an assumption on my part no matter how I slice it. Now we can argue that I very well may have “gamed” her prior to my taking the red pill, but as I said above, now that I know I can’t claim ignorance. If that was the case, I had NO idea what I was doing and how I was manipulating her, because I hadn’t given it rational thought. When relationships were “magic”, I didn’t worry about ethics and morality. Now that I see that for some people, relationships are completely calculated and thought-out processes, I can’t help but wonder how much of my interaction with people follows the same processes. I have always known my professional acquaintances followed a very calculated path, because I’ve always presented myself in a particular light in public environments. I’ve never intentionally calculated how I’ve interacted in my private relationships, but learning about “game” has forced me to do so. And for me that brings in all these ethical and morality based measures. It is the only way I know how to measure if I am unfairly taking advantage of someone and/or prevent from doing so. When I didn’t consciously “think” about how I interacted with my SO, I never worried that I might be “taking advantage”. Now I would feel woefully irresponsible to NOT be concerned.

  51. Shanna says

    @Wendy – those were really thoughtful comments. Having spent a couple of years living with a volatile step-parent, I can totally relate to what you are saying.

    @Ted: You keep calling it “manipulation”, and I understand it can feel that way at first. It did for me when I started running female MAP on my husband. It feels a bit false because you are going against your old “knee-jerk” emotional reactions. (Just think for a minute about your past and where those got you…)
    But I will say, the more I’m doing this, the more natural it is coming to me.
    My emotions are now matching my actions.
    I have been called High Drama in the past (But let me defend by saying I’m also very fun! haha)
    So, instead of getting all worked up when my husband does something that annoys me, I react calmly and nonchalant. I treat him as the Captain. This avoids unnecessary bickering. HE is happier and I am happier.
    It does become less work the further down the road you get.

    And trust me, your woman DOES want you to be the manly, alpha leader. You are not controlling her. She can leave at any time. You are doing her a favor!

    Stop thinking “She should just love me for me!” It’s just not realistic that you’ll have a long-lasting relationship without putting any effort into it. That’s blue pill thinking.

  52. RedPillNewb says

    the issue is, she never actually ASKED me to “game” her, so even if she reacts positively, it isn’t like I can ever know for sure if it is exactly what she wants.

    Well, two things. First, I figured out that what women want and what they say they want are two different things 20 years before there was such a thing as a “game” website. If she acts like she likes it, chances are she likes it. And it’s very selfish of you to refuse to give her what likes.

    Second, If you really want that conscious, verbal consent, send her here and see what she says. But preferably do that after you run some LTR game on her.

    Look, I’ve always known and accpeted that marriage was about compromise and hard work. I never expected it to be easy. What I’ve discovered is that the hard work is very different than I thought it would be. It’s not all long, emotionally fraught talks about how we make each other feel (although there is some of that). It’s also being aware of how your actions impact her subconscious reactions.

    I literally came to this site less than two weeks ago after years of slow decline ending in months of nothing, along with eyerolling and contempt. She says she wants me to back off and be beta, then she’ll give me what I want. I have instead started moving to claim the Captain role, not only with her, but elsewhere in my life, too. Suddenly I’m getting hot meals and “I love you’s,” and when I propose something lacy, instead of a scoffed “As if!” I get a smirking Austin Powers “oh be-have.” I’ve also had other women (not young hot ones, unfortunately, but you start somewhere) deliberately bump into me, invite me to sit next to them, blush, slap me on the chest, and tease me. Less than two weeks!

    It feels weird right now, but I’m not going back.

  53. RedPillNewb says

    And incidentally Ted, it makes no sense to feel bad about doing something that makes other people better off just because it also, incidentally, makes you better off. If you ever have to deliver bad news to me, I would prefer you deliver it in a way that prevents wailing and gnashing of teeth on my part. I am not interested in being made to suffer so that you can satisfy your need to prove you are a good person by voluntarily submitting to unnecessary suffering. You have my consent to “game” me in that context.

  54. Ted D says

    “Second, If you really want that conscious, verbal consent, send her here and see what she says. But preferably do that after you run some LTR game on her.”

    Question: I know that obviously Jennifer knows about MMSL. How many men here have clued in their SO’s on MMSL and “game”? I’ve been seriously thinking that if she knew what was up, I would feel much better about the things I feel are manipulative, but I honestly wonder how many women want to know this stuff, and would feel weird if they did.

    Mark – I need to think on your last comment. I’ve never really given my early childhood much thought because to be honest I don’t remember it as being too bad. yes, there was a LOT of tension in my house when I was very young, but I was never beaten or bruised nor was anyone else in my household. However, as I said above, I distinctly remember NOT wanting to be the focus of my grandfathers anger, because he was really good at verbally running people down. I’m very intrigued by the idea that it could be affecting my behavior even to this day. I’ve been to marriage counseling (didn’t work because my ex got “uncomfortable” when we started digging into issues just like this in fact) but it didn’t go long enough to really get to this level. I don’t know that I need to talk to one now, but I do need to ponder on this a bit and see if I can make any connections in my head in regards to how I view “manipulation”.

    RedPillNewb – Well first of all, it isn’t that I want to be a “good person” that would have me candy coating bad news, it really would be that *I* wouldn’t want to be there for the fallout. I never claimed to be a good person, other people seem to imply that is the case.

    “I literally came to this site less than two weeks ago after years of slow decline ending in months of nothing, along with eyerolling and contempt.”

    I’ve been divorced several years now, and I’ve been with my current SO for almost two. I found MMSL because I wanted to know why my marriage failed and what I did wrong. The harsh truth is I did a TON wrong. I’ve been doing my MAP for months, but my current relationship was never in the dumps. MY goal is to keep it that way, so I’m doing the MAP and just generally trying to cut out behaviors that work against me. (It has been called anti-game on other blogs, and I’m VERY interested in the concept. In short, the idea is to remove supplicating and overly beta behaviors, which in some cases is the lion’s share of the work to be done.) Things are going well, but I cannot get past this mental block of “manipulation”. Yes, I can see how me getting into better shape can and does change my SO’s behavior, but to me that isn’t manipulation because my intent is NOT to change her at all. I’m losing weight and getting into shape (well a shape other than round…) because *I* feel better. My feeling better makes her feel better, and certainly my increasing appeal makes her take notice. But, those are ALL decisions she is making on her own, based solely on what she sees. If I take that a step further, and act towards her in ways that I know will create a positive response, to me I’ve stepped over the line to controlling behavior. Obviously I want her to be happy with me, but I don’t want that to be because I “tricked” her into it.

    Shanna – “:You keep calling it “manipulation”, and I understand it can feel that way at first. It did for me when I started running female MAP on my husband. It feels a bit false because you are going against your old “knee-jerk” emotional reactions.”

    Well I expect that, but it really doesn’t change the morality of the situation. Surely anything you do repeatedly will become habit. I started smoking when I was 20. At first it was odd, and I felt like crap, but I kept doing it and it became so common that it took me two attempts and well over 15 years to beat it. I’m fully confident that I could become comfortable with just about any action I set out to perform if I do it often enough.

    “My emotions are now matching my actions.”

    Sure, if you set out to perform a specific action to elicit an emotional response, over time you will get better at it. But people have done some seriously horrible things to others while feeling perfectly fine about it all. To me, that isn’t a good benchmark to use in regards to morality.

    “You are not controlling her. She can leave at any time. You are doing her a favor!”

    Perhaps. How to define what is and is not “controlling behavior” is a bit dicey. For some people it is controlling if the man makes all the decisions, in some households that is the default. I’ve heard plenty of women complain about controlling husbands simply because they are setting boundaries and expecting them to be met, and yet some women are completely fine with a husband that wants to know what she is up to anytime she is out.

    “Stop thinking “She should just love me for me!” It’s just not realistic that you’ll have a long-lasting relationship without putting any effort into it. That’s blue pill thinking.”

    It isn’t that. I internalized that lesson a good ways back, and I agree that it doesn’t work. I’m perfectly OK with making improvements for myself that also positively affect my SO (such as getting into shape, working on “social” skills, taking more of a captain role) but when it comes to what I call the “parlor” tricks of game, I just can’t help feel like it is all so deceptive. Things like the “kid sister” approach, which I clearly see works on my SO (she grew up with four brothers so I guess no surprise) makes me feel very uncomfortable. Sure, she generally laughs, play punches me in the arm or something, and walks away happy. And I stand there for a minutes feeling like a total jerk for manipulating her. Do I want her to be happy? Surely. But I don’t want to feel like she is my machine, and I am the one with the owners manual. And to me, that is kinda what running “game” feels like: she is some kind of machine and I’m just hitting all the right buttons. It feels less human and emotional and more puppet master. I know, she has her own will, can make her own choices. That’s fine, but I think we can all agree that even though she has her own agency, performing actions knowing how she will respond IS taking her agency out of the picture. I’m counting on her natural reaction to subvert whatever her conscious mind is thinking at that moment, specifically to get a response *I* want. How is that not manipulation? And if we agree it IS manipulation, are we now going to claim that some manipulation is OK, while some is not? Isn’t that an awfully slipper slope?

  55. Ted D says

    Mark – I just went to those links, but I can tell you I’m an INTJ. I found the MBTI stuff several months back and tested at a few sites. All came back INTJ, and most of the percentages where pretty high. The personality profile fits me pretty well, including the “thinks too much” and “always in my head” parts. Your comment about “driving from your head” fits me perfectly. Being “in the moment” is super tough for me. To be honest, the only times I can think of where I am truly in the moment are when I am performing music live, or when I’m having sex. In both of those instances, I can honestly say that I am truly “in the moment” as I am not thinking about anything other than the task at hand. But outside of that, there isn’t much else. Just about any other time I have any number of “conversations” running through my head. I also have periods of insomnia because sometimes I just can’t get my head to quiet down enough to sleep. If I’m thinking too hard about something, or just thinking about too many things at once, I simply can’t calm myself enough to go to sleep. It comes and goes, but primarily the issue occurs when I am stressed, because that sends my brain into overdrive to find a solution to the problem at hand.

    More than anything else, the thing that surprised me the most about all of this is: other people DO NOT work this way. I can remember always wondering why people in general just didn’t seem to think a whole lot, and it never occurred to me that *I* was the abnormal one. :-P

  56. RedPillNewb says

    Ted, you sound a heck of a lot like me. Most of your self-description is spot on for me.

    It would be cruel of you to break out the MAP on co-workers or friends and start manipulating them into being attracted to you to stroke your ego. But your SO wants to love you. She wants to be turned on by you. Both of you are going to be happier if she is.

    I really hate wondering if this or that request is a fitness test or a reasonable request–with little kids around, a dubious request delivered kind of rudely can actually be pretty darn reasonable–but I know she’s happier this way, I know I’m happier this way, and more importantly, the kids are happier if we’re happier.

    As I get into this deeper, I can see that I’ve been doing a lot of “game” and MAP without knowing it or meaning to: “accidental Alpha” if you will. It’s kept us going for close to two decades, and things have only been bad enough to worry me for maybe a year. But I can also see a lot of mistakes–BIG, life changing mistakes. And I can see her starting to push me towards some more BIG tests, and I need to pass them. Not because I want to control her, but because I want the best for her and the kids. And the best thing for everyone is for Mom and Dad to be starry-eyed and screw like bunnies.

  57. says


    There are different levels of S.O.s being “clued in” to MMSL / married game. In my case, my lady knows that I want to work to improve our sex life, and she knows that I’ve done some reading in a few places, including this one, on the subject. She has not, to my knowledge, looked at this site. I think she sees it as a boundaries thing: she doesn’t want to nose too deeply into my outside thinking / reading / writing on the subject any more than she would want me listening in on her if she were having a talk about sex with her sister. I don’t know that I’d go quite that far, but from my perspective it’s a “you decide your own level of involvement” thing. If she wanted to be super involved and go through the Primer with me and all that, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but since she prefers to simply notice when I’m doing something differently and react to it, I’m fine with that too. I think that in her case, she actually prefers for there to be a bit of mystery about it. For her, knowing exactly what I was doing by “gaming” her and why would be a little like skipping ahead and reading the end of a book.

    That’s all getting rather far afield, though. My only point is that maybe you should try to gauge how much your S.O. wants to know. Since you’ve already been running the MAP for a while, she probably already has an inkling that something is up. If you haven’t already, let her know that you’ve been doing some thinking about your relationship and trying different things based on some outside reading. See what she says. You might find that she’s perfectly happy enjoying the fruits of your efforts without wanting to see how the sausage gets made (to mix food metaphors; I really shouldn’t be posting this before lunch). Or maybe she’ll want to get into it in detail and really discuss which parts of married game you’re implementing in your own relationship and why. Let her decide how involved she wants to be.

  58. says

    I like your writing style genuinely enjoying this internet site. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

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