Dread Game vs. Reality Game

 @Isthereastar:   So something I have been wondering about is whether there is a form of dread that women can use on men when they are in tough spot in their relationship (AKA lazy bear husbands/long term boyfriends) Clearly dread works on women, but can it go the other way?

Athol: Well lets define Dread Game first.

Dread Game: To purposely set out to create an appearance that you would or could cheat on and/or dump your partner, unless they comply with your demands. You underline the replaceability of your partner. Some examples of this are creating dating profiles, going out without your partner to bars and clubs, sending flowers to yourself “from an admirer”, purposely seeking to pull Indicators of Interest from the opposite sex in front of your partner and so on. Basically anything you purposely do to make your partner feel a sinking sensation in the pit of their stomach that the relationship is heading to a very bad place, very soon, unless they comply with your demands.

So to answer your question… women using dread on men is about as equally effective and ineffective as it is when men use it on women.

It’s unquestionably an attention getter. It creates a huge impulse for your partner to behave the way you want them to. However, it’s a very risky move. What it does is sacrifice a lot of Relationship Comfort (Beta), in order to create an impression of you having a much Higher Value (Alpha) than they do. Which is fine if you were running a standard Nice Guy / Nice Girl, low Alpha and high Beta frame. Dread Game can create a quick correction of that. However, if your partner ever figures out your Dread Game moves are simply designed to purposely panic them / are in any way deceptively created / you don’t have the guts to follow through on them anyway, then you lose all the Alpha credit the Dread Game created and you’ve also lost a great deal of Relationship Comfort for nothing.

In other words, Dread Game can be effective and it can also blow up in your face leaving you with a disgusted partner who thinks you’re playing games with them.

Ultimately my biggest concern with Dread Game is that it’s a shortcut and I suspect at some point, you’re going to have that catch up with you somehow. This is especially true for a marriage situation. It’s much easier to snow a short-term girlfriend or boyfriend, than the husband or wife you’ve had for 15+ years.

It’s also very easily a negative approach in that it can gain a “well fuck you for ignoring me” element and it’s a very short pathway to getting off on the infliction of pain on your partner. Purposely inflicting Dread on a partner is a stock-in-trade move of Borderline Personality Disorder, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder spouses for example. Dread Game and Emotional Abuse are at times simply a matter of perspective.

The question then, is what to do when you need to gain your partner’s attention.

The approach that I’m seeing as most effective is slightly slower to work, but less risky. It’s called Reality.

There’s a fairly big overlap in what Dread and Reality look like, but with some subtle differences. The most important of which is the change in frame from consciously doing something to try and evoke a positive change in them, to that of making a positive change in yourself, thus creating natural consequences your partner will have no option but to be affected by.

This is the difference between going out and seeking to pull attention from the opposite sex in front of your partner (Dread), and simply having the opposite sex respond to you in front front of your partner because you’ve improved your Sex Rank (Reality).

The Reality is you’re just hotter now.

The Reality is the opposite sex responds to you better.

The Reality is you’re hotter than your partner.

The Reality is they aren’t holding up their end of the relationship.

The really good news with playing this as Reality Game, is that when Reality is discovered by your partner, it only becomes more effective rather than backfiring on you. You’ve not been doing anything wrong, you’ve kept the moral high ground, you’ve been self-improving but not been trying to destroy the relationship.

What you’ve been doing is pouring a more positive energy into yourself. So if you’re heading toward an ultimatum, it’s only because the Reality of the situation is that you’re moving toward where your partner is forced to either join you in a more positive energy place, or be increasingly determined to try and drag you back into a negative one. A standard Reality Game Phase Four statement is something akin to…

“The reality is that if you don’t allow us to have a win-win relationship, I can’t sustain a win-lose one. So the reality is I’m going to have to find what I need to get for me.”

Or perhaps put more bluntly, something like…

“If you keep drinking, I can’t stay.”

“Go to the doctor, or I’m going to a lawyer.”

“How much longer do you realistically think I’m going to stay and put up with this?”

So eventually, Reality becomes more effective and safer as a strategy than trying to use Dread. There’s just one catch though…

Reality Game can’t be faked. It has to be real, because that’s what Reality means.


  1. I just found your website! Love it, love that you talk about how important it is to put more effort into the positive energy of working on yourself – the reality versus whatever deception someone could come up with for the dread game… yuck. Reality is so much better, and probably healthy for the relationship.

  2. Really awesome to see the blog pumping again. It’s always been my favorite part of the site.

  3. Good article, but I’ve seen several other things go wrong when people use Dread Game (even if there is Realitybehind it.)
    One: They don’t do the Stage 4 statement of the problem. The first woman to use it on me didn’t do it (the new guy wants to f*** me even if you don’t: I was planning to that night).
    Two: You go too far (She had me jealous and I was going to show her I was the one she should choose, but she pushed a bit harder. It was 15 years later I learned they weren’t lovers, a side effect of her telling me she was a lesbian, 37 years years before I realized I was the one she had wanted.)
    (This is easy to do since your partner probably realized that all is not well, but may not know what to do; your Dread Game may come across as “It’s over.)
    Three: You may get Dread Game played back at you. I have done this a couple of times, not realizing the women were playing Dread Game. Once, K went into auto-rejection, pushing me away before I could push her away (I knew she was playing Dread Game, but thought she was playing it on her ex-BF ahile on dates with me; we were in the same square dance club; didn’t realize that ex-BF was her first try at Dread Game from the previous year; 32 years before I realizedwhat was happening.) Later L. joined a dating service as Dread Game (You can’t get more rejection than “I’m actively going out to replace my lover”; she was my first.) When I tired to pull away, she (and K. had done this too) kept up the Dread Game but tried to increase affection as well to hold me, putting me in a double bind.) I finally went to seduce one of her best friends to end the relationship (got lucky, best friend was not home, next day L. upped Dread by telling me she had slept with another guy and so would not sleep with me anymore; Who would think friend is better than FWB, but L. is.

  4. You are knocking it out of the park with your recent posts.

    Dread game didn’t work in my marriage when I tried to play it on my husband to get him to address his low T. It was kind of like it paralyzed him …. like he just assumed that he couldn’t do anything to keep me, so it was safer to do nothing. And maybe it made him so resentful that he completely shut down.

    Reality game was different, though. I stopped trying to take short cuts and started increasing the positive stuff in my own life, without playing games. That’s when things started to change for the better.

  5. Reality Game vs Dread . Another great fantastic concept in the MAP toolbox courtesy of Athol! I thought I was using Dread by running my MAP and upping my SMV. But, it wasn’t bullshit, it was the real deal. I am seeing changes and am having fun with the spouse again. I see a potential problem, which is similar to the Dread game of going to far, and that is going to far in Reality Game; where you increase your SMV to far above your spouse’s that they just give up or you lose sexual attraction to them.

  6. I tried a mix of Dread and Reality game and it blew up on me but I am happier that it did. Basically, I had to lawyer up and filed though in my state if you don’t serve the papers it expires after six months. I saw the see-saws of BSC as we went through the motions of working on stuff but it all came down to a princess mentality that I was supposed to revert to super beta. I did my own thing and let her know I was willing to address things 50-50 but for my own self-respect I rejected the fact that I was 100% to blame for everything (and no, no cheating on my part, etc.—just the “talk” that we were moving into the next stage of our lives and needed to have a real relationship). It probably came down to the fact that she thinks she’s Kate Middleton and I’m still some beta schlub. Well all right, you can’t convince someone who lives in Candyland, so I Walk Alone…and even the flirtatious looks from co-workers and waitresses etc prove that Game is right. You can’t fix BSC. It comes down to where once a reason that a person is a “significant other” is that person has a “significant” POV that is accepted as coming from a good place.

  7. Peregrine John says:

    Excellent article. And another reminder to me that I need to find – or maybe invent – a term meaning, “2 things which are superficially very similar but are, in truth, near opposites.”

  8. My husband used dread game on me early in our marriage, I think. He texted his ex-gf and told her he thought about her and her son often. He signed onto dating sites at night and left them open when he left for work (he didn’t message any girls or anything). He was supposed to come home one night and I ended up having to go pick him up at a bar (he was there with his guy friends) and he didn’t have on his wedding ring. It really hurt. Each time I would try to calmly discuss it with him and he would shut down and say, “We’re not going to talk about this”. I felt like he should just apologize, and his attitude was that it’s in the past and he can’t change it, so why bring it up? Plus, he said that he hadn’t done anything wrong and wasn’t trying to hurt me. The ridiculous part is that he already was and is high status. I already knew that he had options when we got married, and he’s gotten even more as we get older. Girls make eyes at him constantly. But, because I got so hurt and it never got fixed I no longer give a flying fuck. He’s told me he would never cheat and it just made me laugh. Dude, I don’t care if you do. I hate that I’m this hardened inside. I could have gone my entire life without learning about the red pill.

  9. Dread game, as far as it being purposeful and not just a by-product of being awesome, has always seemed like it’s too direct to work. It’s like emotional extortion where you threaten someone directly with a consequence if they don’t bend to your will. It’s also almost always targeted at getting the “good behavior” you want without dealing with the underlying issues that are causing the “bad behavior” in the first place.

    For example, it seems more along the line of “if you don’t have sex with me, then I’ll find someone who will” instead of like the example in the post “if you don’t go to the doctor, then this relationship isn’t going to work.” The former is focused on what you want in the short-term (sex) while the latter is focused on what you want in the long-term (a better relationship).

  10. One problem is that you don’t know how the other person sees your relative SR. My GFs saw themselves as the lower SR while I saw myself as the lower SR. Either Dread game or Reality game will only work to improve a relationship if the partner sees adequate commitment.


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