Upcoming Forum Changes

The short version is this…

I have four major aspects of my life I can spend time on. (1) The life coaching side of things, (2) creating new content including blogging, (3) the MMSL forum and (4) rest, relaxation, getting to enjoy things and all-purpose self-care.

I can however only realistically do three of those four things for any continuing time period and I’ve really come to a point of just being burnt out on nearly everything. Thus something has to give, and that something is going to be the forum.

I’ll get to what those changes are going to be a little later in the post, but for now, I feel the need to explain how we got to this situation.

A little history…

Back in 2009 I started commenting on the Talk About Marriage forum. Most people liked what I had to say and I kept saying it over and over, so I started thinking about writing it down as a book.

In 2010 I stared the MMSL blog and began work on the Primer. Major sidetracking in the death of my father knocking me for a loop.

In 2011 the Primer is finally done. Very Red Pill in tone. By this time I’m working about 2-4 hours a day answering email and giving free advice out.

In 2012 I’m getting exhausted from full time work, all the email advice I’m giving, and trying to write the Primer revision which fails to figure itself out a couple times. In mid 2012 I quit my nursing job with the plan to start turning the free email advice into paid life coaching. Unfortunately I’m told that MMSL as it exists is really going to be far too close to marriage counseling to do it without a license yada yada yada. Crap.

At this point the book money is doing just fine and I have all this email advice I’m doing for free, so the idea was to start a forum and eventually have it running so instead of having hours of my day taken up with unpaid advice-giving, I could write more. I figured the forum would be a few hundred people.

In 2013 I come close to starting a business with a partner in the training industry who wants to merge my MMSL stuff with his industry knowledge, and turn it into a small empire. It all sounds good at first and then flounders. It dies for a number of reasons, one of which being I’m still not happy with the state of the Primer revision. I also delay another book 95% complete while this all goes down. By April I’m in a bad place.

In a brainwave, my Primer revision takes a vastly different tack and it becomes The Mindful Attraction Plan book. It sells well and also has the advantage of being “whole life” in approach, thus justifying a life coaching approach based on The Mindful Attraction Plan. Thus shortly thereafter I can open a life coaching service. It would be easy to say I sold out at this point, but the reality is I really do believe in the MAP book and it’s very effective for many people.

In later 2013 though, things start to get out of hand for me. The coaching takes off great, the forum remains vastly more time consuming than I ever imagined, I’m still writing the blog and starting to have more writing ideas. Then the bottom falls out as my wife Jennifer gets targeted at her job, literally taken to Human Resources and frowned at, because some random person from their government funding agency is sending the CEO of her company my blog posts in unmarked letters.

I green light Jennifer leaving her job, but there’s a lot to do to balance the income of her not working. I’m also no longer getting any enjoyment out of writing the blog, knowing some bitch (Jennifer is 99% certain she knows who did it, so I’ll say “bitch” here) is actively willing to use my writing to personally screw my wife over. About three months later, Jennifer quits her job.

Meanwhile the forum has grown and grown to where today it has just over 3000 members. It only takes one person in three-thousand on any given week being pissed off or otherwise Batshit Crazy and behind the scenes it turns into something like being an Air Traffic Controller in a freak snowstorm. It makes me miss just doing 2-4 hours of free email advice some days.

Meanwhile the older forum members miss the good old days when the forum was smaller, and new members feel the older members are often jerks. Oy, Houston we have a problem.

Why the forum is problematic…

The biggest issue with the forum is that it starts to define my own personal branding and philosophy out from under me. By which I mean that if I have a stated viewpoint on something, and the forum starts repeating something divergent from that viewpoint, eventually that viewpoint becomes “MMSL says to do X”. Then it is a very short jump to “Athol said you should do X”, when in fact I may have warned to do the exact opposite of X.

There have been some very useful insights that have come from the forum interactions, don’t misunderstand me on this, but there have been some absolutely maddeningly wrong ones that I can’t seem to kill off too.

What I’ve come to understand is that there are always going to be some small percentage of people who will take something I’ve said, and then endlessly restate it one standard deviation toward stupidity. Then if this is left unchecked, it becomes part of the “official MMSL canon”.

This is why, for example, I eventually just banned all talk of anything related to BDSM on the forum. I’ve long held some mild to moderate bedroom play of dominance and submission related stuff is perfectly fine. Many women respond very well to it. Jennifer and I like it. However I’ve discovered through some repeated testing that if BDSM-anything is allowed on the forum, it quickly starts turning into something I’ve rather depressingly termed Rapeworld.

Example… true story by the way.

Email Guy: “Hey I haven’t had sex with my wife in two years. Should I just start having sex with her when she’s sleeping around 3am? Just push through if she wakes up?”

Athol: “Ahhh… no that’s a terrible idea. Are you emailing from the 4th century or something?”

Email Guy: “Gotcha, thanks.”

Athol: (thinks) “What the frak is on the forum today!?!?”

It gets worse. Some chick on the forum was floating the idea of using sleeping pills to knock herself out, and the idea was as she was drifting into unconsciousness, maybe that would result in a great orgasm with her husband. Oh. My. Gawd. You’re slipping yourself something like a date rape drug. I leave a WTF comment and close the thread. Heavy facepalming in moderator channel ensues.

All that stemmed from someone’s original comment that they liked it, when their husband woke them up in the middle of the night and they had sleepy cuddly sex. See what I mean by one standard deviation toward stupidity? Most people knew exactly what was meant, a small handful just didn’t.

Look, I won’t lie here either. Some of the confusion is my fault. MMSL covers a big set of theory and it’s not all perfectly laid out. Plus I’ve actually slowly changed and expanded my own thought. I don’t say exactly the same thing in 2014 as I was saying in 2009, 2010 or 2011. There’s a heck of a lot for new people to get caught up with.

Plus… well there’s hamster to contend with.

The MAP is hard. It’s really, really hard. It’s not all wonderful. Not everyone wants everything to apply to them. Everyone wants to be a special snowflake and find a way to take a shortcut. No one wants to wake up and realize that their MAP is probably going to take years rather than months. Everyone says they want to be Outcome Independent, but no one really wants to go to Phase Four and start putting their chips on the table and flop their cards down.

A lot of the attempts by the forum to “improve MMSL thought” are actually attempts to create shortcuts around something I’ve fairly well proven works. Then obviously when the shortcut fails to work… cue up the complaint that “MMSL doesn’t work for me”.

Coaching vs. the Forum…

There’s a tendency to slowly turn the forum into a place where you can just talk about running your MAP, but not actually run your MAP. Some people stall out for a long time. This started becoming blindingly obvious as soon as I started coaching people. The difference in success between the average coached client and the average forum member is really quite sizable.

Obviously I’m going to claim that myself and the other coaches (Rebecca and Brian) are amazingly amazing, and it’s our presence that makes all the difference. That is true. However, it’s also true that the coaching clients start coaching with a much greater sense of investment and determination to succeed than the average forum member does. There’s just something about taking money out of your pocket that stops your hamstering excuses about why something can’t be done, and you just go out and start doing it.

Which brings us to money. The forum is expensive to run, about $600 a month currently and it generates very minimal income and requires a huge time investment to keep running.

The thing that pays the bills is the coaching. The majority of the coaching leads are coming from the blog, the books and word of mouth. Only about 25% of my coaching clients are also active forum members, 25% of them have a token forum membership, and 50% of them pretty much think the forum is horrible-to-nasty-in-tone-and-advice and it makes me look bad.

To be blunt, I’ve been told repeatedly by people paying me hundreds to thousands of dollars, that they are using me in spite of the negative branding the forum is giving me.

That’s a huge problem.

I’ve twice now had an interaction where a “senior” forum member has crapped on a newer member, I’ve had to say something about it and the “senior” member quit the forum and/or needed to be banned. The crapped on member became a coaching client and spent $1-2,000 dollars on coaching and has a vastly improved life.

I completely understand why someone who has been on the forum for over a year and posted a thousand or more comments, can feel a sense of entitlement and position. They have contributed to the forum. But I can’t afford any more of these friends.

Private Messages are of The Devil…

If I had known what private messaging would turn into on the forum, I never would have enabled it. There are really two forums. One is the main forum where everyone can see what is happening. Then there’s this entire other forum experience happening in private.

The most common issue is advice cherry picking. Someone has a problem and they post it on the forum, then they get advice and they don’t like it. So then they start Private Messaging anyone and everyone to hunt for someone to give them the advice they want to hear. When they finally hit on someone giving them the “correct” advice, they thank them and then continue on doing the dumb thing they wanted to do in the first place.

These relationships can slowly morph into a de facto coaching arrangement spreading over several months. This isn’t immediately problematic, I mean it’s not illegal or immoral, it’s more that there’s a competing free coaching service that I’m unwittingly supporting. Maybe they would have used the paid coaching, maybe they wouldn’t, I’ll never know.

There’s also some giant Private Messaging chains and cliques that have developed. We’re talking 10,000 or more messages with 10 or more people on the chain. It’s great that people are getting along, but if 10,000 x 10 = 100,000 page views, then its cost me about $60 to host the conversation. I feel incredibly old and cranky saying that, like I’ve discovered an open window in my daughter’s room while the air conditioners have been on all day.

There’s also lots of playing footsie in the Private Messages, budding Emotional Affairs and I can neither confirm nor deny knowledge of worse. It’s not wildly uncommon for a new male member to immediately Private Message 10+ female members looking for specific… advice.

There’s also the issue of Private Messages being used to target and/or actively harass other members. This is easily the most problematic aspect of them.

Plus, obviously there’s bitching about me in there. But we all knew that. I wouldn’t wish telepathy on my worst enemy.

All that being said…

The Forum really does a lot of good for a lot of people. Some people make remarkable progress and make leaps and bounds of personal growth. Marriages are saved, sex lives restarted, kids grow up in intact families.

When it works well, the forum is amazing. But it’s working less and less well, so there have to be changes.

Recapping the issues…

The primary issues are that it sucks up my time, I have to fight to retain my branding, it’s losing money, undercuts the coaching, newbies arrive lost, oldies feel entitled and grumpy, there’s a sheer size issue and PM’s are really problematic.

The Solution…

The core of the solution is dividing the forum membership up into differing membership levels, some of which are paid. We’re looking at generally forcing the forum culture toward the culture of people being here to actively work on their MAP and get their lives turned around.

Free Member…

This is going to be the default member option when people sign up for the forum. Along with that is some reduced functionality to the membership.

Can start a thread in the Introduce Me category.

Can comment on threads, except the 911 category is read only.

Cannot start a Private Message.

Cannot have a signature line, can’t upload images, standard Vanillacon avatar images.

The Gold Member area is completely invisible to Free Members.

Even mildly badly behaved Free Members are just going to be summarily dismissed. Walk in polite, or keep walking basically.

Silver Member…

This is essentially the same as the current forum membership, with the following exceptions:

Cannot start a Private Message, but can reply to one.

The Gold Member area is completely invisible to Silver Members.

Silver Members behaving badly will be made Free Members

You become a Silver Member by proof of purchase of one of the books. Send us a copy of receipt or a your copy of one of the books can send a “book selfie” picture as proof.

Current active members will get grandfathered into Silver Members, so as to avoid Jennifer having to deal with hundreds of emails of book selfies.

Gold Member…

The Gold Member category area will include four categories.

(1)  Men only area – not even viewable by female flagged members.

(2)  Women only area – not even viewable by male flagged members

(3)  Running my MAP – must be about what you are actually doing for your MAP

(4)  The Fungeon – consider this an introductory sexual dominance and submission topic area. Emphasis on fun and pleasure rather than pain and pushing things into non-consensual activities.

The entire Gold Member area is not viewable by memberships below Gold.

Private Messages can be started.

The Gold areas will likely attract the best members to comment, and the members who are the most motivated to actually make changes. Likewise the moderators/coaches will obviously give greater priority to Gold Member concerns and categories. We can’t assure giving anyone specific attention and advice though.

There is also a Zen Garden option where for Gold Members, the entire rest of the forum is turned non-viewable. Peace and quiet at last.

Gold Memberships are $19.99 a month, whether single or a couple.

Platinum Member…

This one we’re still debating and working on between the coaches. It’s intended to be all the Gold goodies, plus a hybrid of a One Hour Call, plus the 12-Week Guided MAP questionnaire, scripted into a more forum based process. As opposed to Gold, this would be a specific advice and attention thing from the coaches/moderators. It’s a question of what we can do for $99 a month that is effective for members, but not going to exhaust a coach if it’s wildly popular.

When this all happens…

There’s nothing to see or sign up for on the forum currently. The nature of the forum software is that you’ll start seeing a bunch of stuff being put in place/turned on as I’m building it. I can’t really hide the construction process.

Likewise the grandfathering in the active members into the Silver Membership is going to take a lot of effort. We have 3000 total members, and 1000 of those have been active in the last three months. You may see some of that happening sooner rather than later.

Planning to have the option to have paid Gold Memberships available announcement on May 30th and the whole thing go live on June 2nd.

The majority of the day-to-day running of the forum will then be handed to Jennifer, with Brian and Rebecca helping moderate. We’re still discussing what I do with my account, I may just drop down to a Golden Zen Garden level. I still want to comment, just I want to enjoy commenting.

In closing…

Anyway that’s about it for now. I realize that a lot of this has sounded like whining. The truth of the matter is that I’ve taken far too long to finally get to the point of just being willing to pull the trigger and risk pissing a bunch of people off. A lot of that is simple exhaustion. Plus the forum has been my baby and despite my frustrations with it, it’s incredibly hard to let it go and see what happens.

I’m very much aware that many people have given of their time and effort to comment and help others through the forum. I’m really truly aware of that. The forum isn’t all created by me. But at the end of the day, I have to be able to create new content, or eventually everything will pancake down and that will be it. MMSL is this weird thing where my personal life, my philosophy, my business life and creativity are all merged into one thing. I simply can’t create new content, unless I’m in a good place on a personal level.

Likewise I’ve become a very boring person to live with recently and while Jennifer is tolerant, supportive and uncomplaining, she really should complain.

There’s so much more to do.

Options Are Limited When Dealing With Domestic Violence

Question on Violence, Deep Emotion and Rational Talk.

Tyler:  An earlier commenter touched on this, but I want to expand it into a real question: how does a man deal with a woman using the Violence strategy? Outside Force (aka cops) isn’t as easily used by a man as by a woman:

1. As you say, female violence is more frequent/less intense, thus less likely to leave evidence. A solution to this would be in-home surveillance, but that also is a bit drastic (and perhaps costly).

2. In absence of incontrovertible evidence, it becomes he said/she said, allowing the woman to turn the Outside Force against the man, such as with a false accusation. This presumes a bias in law enforcement toward believing the female account, and I do believe such a bias exists.

Much respect for your work.

Athol: In the case of very minor incidents of violence, you have to see that as a testing the waters event. I’m talking about that first thing where they cross the line into the “that was a bit much” category. That you have to immediately call out as being unacceptable and whatever it was they wanted from that incident, you ensure they don’t get it.

So… Jennifer slaps me on the forearm in response to me saying something teasing to her… that’s not a problem. (I actually kind of enjoy it when she does that.)

But… Jennifer slaps me on the face, saying “Go get the #$%^ing groceries from the car!”… well that’s crossing the line. That I’d very firmly verbally bump back on, and the groceries would rot inside her car before I’d do anything about them. The message being a very clear “The Violence Strategy will not get you what you want” statement.

And for the record, no, there’s no hitting at the Kay Place. We do have periodic drama like every couple does, but we’re both major introverts so… huh… I guess we do self-imposed Time Outs in a double withdrawal strategy. Anyway, I digress…

Unfortunately though, most people don’t do that for the first incident of crossing the line, so it continues. In the case of continuing violence, the options are rather limited, unpleasant and somewhat depressing.

If someone is prepared to be violent in a relationship, they will continue to be violent in the relationship because it is a winning strategy to get what they want from you. Yes it’s wrong, but it does work, so they use it. It’s like the bullies as school shaking you down for your lunch money. They will keep hitting you, and you will keep handing over your lunch money until something breaks the cycle. The bully however will not one day have an epiphany that making you their personal piñata is wrong, because no one gives up a winning strategy.

So you have to accept that once someone starts being willing to use Violence against you, it will continue until something breaks the cycle.

There are four possible outcomes…

(1) You do nothing, she keeps smacking you when you’re insolent. You learn to be whatever she decides is “good” and figure out ways to apologize for things that are her fault, lose all sense of a personal identity, clean up the messes she makes and generally turn yourself into a human shield if she ever looks sideways at the children.

(2) You respond with greater Violence and hit her back harder than she hits you. Well… this might work briefly, but honestly the more predictable outcome is simply an escalation of both of you playing the Violence strategy toward the full colonoscopy of emergency services and interventions. There’s not really a winner here.

(3) You quit the relationship. Actually this may not be a bad option. If there are no kids involved and no particular reason to stay, you really may as well bail on someone who displays this level of poor judgment. I’m betting she’s not exactly a peach in the other areas of her life either.

(4) You get Outside Force involved. This is the only possible route if you want to try and address the situation and also keep the relationship intact. The trick here is that you have to make this as defensively clear that you are not the abuser as you can. Video or audio of her acting violent and/or verbally aggressive, while you are clearly not doing anything other than defensively trying to block and dodge may be helpful. If you are injured and she isn’t, head to the Emergency Room and say what happened, which will then trigger a police visit to follow up on your defensive injuries. Most likely though, the best way forward is simply making a police report by calling the non-emergency number for your local police department. I have seen a number of times that simply making a police report goes a long way to stopping violence happening.

In addition, you can also make calls to Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

My feeling is that that if you’re a man worried about being automatically framed as the abuser when you are the one being abused, you’re probably going to have to end up in some contact with the authorities at some point whether you like it or not. So you’re probably better off making an early approach to reporting, using the system of reporting that is in place and for lack of a better term… playing the role of the victim.

What is unhelpful is hedging your bets because of your fear you’ll get painted as the abuser, and letting things escalate further and further. That’s when you have the situations where things get completely out of hand, you’re forced to physically defend yourself more than blocking and dodging and when the police arrive on scene they find a confusing and complicated situation to make decisions about. That’s when defaulting to the idea that the larger male was the aggressor comes into play and statistically speaking, once the incidents are at the level requiring police invention, that’s a good bet for them to make.

So yeah. Options are limited and none of them are any fun to choose.

But once someone can hit you and get away with it, they don’t stop hitting you.

Athol Kay on the Art of Charm Podcast

Check out me on The Art of Charm podcast #239 with Jordan Harbinger.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-beautiful-young-caucasian-woman-portrait-image30556944What you’ll learn….

Why Alpha and Beta are different traits.

Why Beta doesn’t count unless you’re Alpha.

Why the Three Love Systems are important.

Why I worry about a great relationship dropping down into just a good relationship, rather than terribly relationship moving up to being just a bad relationship.

Why you have to stop whining.

Why you have to know the difference between a Fitness Test and a Loyalty Test.

Why you have to take “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” really, really seriously.

Why you have to lead in your relationship and how to do it so she doesn’t think you’re being a jerk about it.

 

Was a fun show to do. Let me know what you think about it!

Violence, Deep Emotion and Rational Talk

Okay, let’s start out by sounding completely ignorant.

Violence is an amazing tool to get people to do what you want. It’s quick, easy to do and super effective. In a straight up violence vs. violence lizard brain match up, whoever is the best at it, gets to be in charge of the relationship. Men tend to be bigger, stronger, faster and thus significantly more effective at violence than women are, so that’s a major reason why on a biological level men are in charge of their relationships and women tend to be the followers.

Or put more plainly, I’m a foot taller than Jennifer and outweigh her by 40%. In an ass kicking competition I win easily. I don’t even have to act outwardly aggressive in the slightest, and there’s still going to be part of Jennifer’s lizard brain quietly ticking over in the background aware of the fact that I’m significantly more physically powerful than her.

Of course men these days get a crap ton of education explaining why smacking women around is plain wrong, and that education and social shaming often results in a huge reluctance to ever use violence as a problem solving tool. We’re at a point now where many men are so adverse to using violence, that some women have a sense of impunity if they are violent with their men. Overall the situation seems about even now between men and women, men doing it less frequently but typically with greater damage, women doing it more frequently with less damage.

But the basic rule still stands. If someone is prepared to use violence in their relationship, they are in charge of the relationship. You can attempt to use Rational Talk to them all you like trying to get them to change, but it’s completely ineffective because they can just thump you if you keep talking to them about something they don’t want to hear.

The only way to trump Violence is to use Outside Force, i.e. greater capacity for violence to force the issue. The police, courts and prisons being “outside force”, all backed up by the capacity to Taser you, slap you in physical restraints and drag you into a jail cell kicking and screaming and lock the door behind you.

So…

Violence beats Rational Talk. Outside Force beats Violence.

Now let’s get to emotional drama and tears.

Men are more physically powerful than women and for a huge period of our time on the planet, “outside force” pretty much amounted to another thug or at less something vastly less organized than modern law and order. Thus women have had to adapt and learn other coping skills to advance their interested.

Hello Emotional Psychodrama and Confusion.

Just like the violent people, highly emotionally sensitive people are quite cooperative and delightful when you’re giving them what they want. But if they aren’t getting what they want and especially if they are losing a debate with you, that’s when the entire frame of the debate changes into a maelstrom of emotion, accusations, gunnysacking, DARVO and all-purpose accusations of your inappropriate behavior and abuse.

Women are far more verbally adept and have a stronger ability to channel their emotions into an argument, so most men have terrible trouble in dealing with highly emotional women. Added to that, the modern male faced with a smaller, insulting, toxic person not doing what they want, typically loses about 79.3% of his brain capacity to the task of overriding normal lizard brain functioning and NOT slapping her. Which to the woman looks like he’s having a small stroke and is generally spun as an example of exactly what she’s been complaining about, i.e. his complete inability to have an emotional connection and pay attention to her.

There’s also the thing where excessive emotion can hint at, or directly imply future debates will become violent. This is what smashing or throwing things is all about. It starts with door slamming, then breaking things, then throwing things against a wall, then throwing things near you, then throwing stuff at you, or hitting you. It’s a gradual escalation of threatened violence to get you to comply with what they want.

So here’s another rule.

Deep Emotion beats Rational Talk.

Think about that for a minute because it’s a core complaint many men have. “Why does she become so irrational when we talk about the relationship. Why can’t she just talk about something normally?”

The answer is simple, because as long as the Rational Talk gets her what she wants, she uses Rational Talk. But when it doesn’t, that’s when she goes to Deep Emotion to win the argument.

In those cases, Deep Emotional just looks irrational, in fact it’s an incredibly rational strategy that totally, totally works. In fact it would be irrational of her not to be so irrational. Two wrongs make her right.

Men just aren’t typically as good as women are at the Deep Emotion strategy, so they typically don’t try it out much. In fact, if you see two men having a serious disagreement, it tends to stay in the Rational Talk phase for an extended period of time and if it all goes to a bad place, it tends to skip Deep Emotion and head directly to Violence. Incidentally this is why when a cheated on husband seeks out the other man for a “discussion”, the other man is typically scared witless and backs off quickly. Cheated on husbands tend not to spend much time on the Rational Talk or Deep Emotion phases… it just skips to Violence and the husband typically is significantly better motivated to fight.

This is also why when you have a serious woman vs. woman disagreement, it can descend into a mutually assured destruction approach of emotional nuke after emotional nuke as each attempts to carry the day with the Deep Emotion strategy.

If it’s two drag queens having a serious disagreement, it goes to the Deep Emotion strategy pretty quickly, until someone pulls a wig off and then it gets Violent.

So lets recap…

(1) Outside Force beats Violence.

(2) Violence beats Rational Talk. Violence also beats Deep Emotion.

(3) Deep Emotion beats Rational Talk.

(4) Rational Talk is a winning strategy for getting what you want, when neither party is going to use Deep Emotion, Violence or Outside Force. Ultimately it’s often seen as a form of weakness in that you’re displaying how effective the Violence and/or Deep Emotion strategies are with you because you can’t use them yourself.

So the too long didn’t read…

Rational Talk is completely useless in getting what you want from people prepared to use Violence or Deep Emotion.

So…

What the heck can you do about all that is the question.

The first thing you do when someone starts using the Violence or Deep Emotion strategies, is you stop trying to use Rational Talk with them. You stop because you already know it’s a losing strategy against them. The more you try and use Rational Talk, the more Violence or Deep Emotion is effective against you. So you just stop using it.

Both Violence and Deep Emotion are based on creating a sense of fear, trying to get you to give up your personal power in the relationship, so your partner gets what they want from you. So the second thing you do is start using actions that aren’t based on a position of being fearful. You use Fearless Actions.

In the case of Violence, your Fearless Action is to make a direct appeal to Outside Force. Very frequently escalation toward the use of greater Violence stops, the minute someone starts making a police report. I’ve seen very large, threatening, powerfully built, psych patients routinely become instantly co-operative the minute the police arrived. (Those that didn’t of course… well nurses don’t carry Tasers… so good thing we called the police.)

In short, you prove by your actions, that you will make the use of Violence a losing strategy by calling in Outside Force. Which is why my psych patients usually became more generally co-operative after that first police visit.

If they use Deep Emotion though, your Fearless Action is to also make it a losing strategy, by refusing to have a Display of Low Value in response, and not acting the way their emotional state is demanding you respond. If you’re facing a teenage daughter having an screaming meltdown about wanting a horse for example, you don’t act frightened that you’ll be deeply hurt by the loss of her love, should you fail to produce a horse for her. You simply say, “No pony.” and move on with your day. The key is not play into their emotional state, quitting the conversation completely if you must, and pointedly fail to give them what they want. You make the Deep Emotion approach a losing strategy.

If you can make Violence and Deep Emotion losing strategies, people will stop using them against you. This will force them into trying the only remaining strategy available to them…

…Rational Talk.

 

 

The MAP Coaching Chocolate Chip Cookie Guarantee

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-cookies-image28388706Week Two Coaching Call…

Athol: “Oh yeah, watch for the plate of cookies coming this week.”

Client: “The what?”

Athol: “Cookies. Your wife is going to bake you cookies this week. Just watch for them.”

Client: “Ahh… okay.”

Week Three Coaching Call…

Client: “HOW DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE COOKIES?”

Athol: “I’ve been doing this a while now. You always get cookies in week three.”

Client: “I don’t know how you knew she would do that.”

Athol: “Chocolate chip right?”

Client: “You’re starting to freak me out. How do you know this stuff?”

Athol: “My confidence is large.”

So….gentlemen, here’s the deal.

If you sign up for 12-Week MAP Coaching, you’re going to get a plate of cookies by the end of the third week of coaching…

…and it’s going to be made by your wife.

In addition, I’m so confident of this, that I’m going to back it with a guarantee.

JEN 22 LRIf your wife doesn’t make them for you, my wife will.

 So drop Jennifer a line and put in your order for cookies.

Plus the coaching will change your life yada yada yada.

(Offer good within the Continental US and people signing up until 3/31/14.)

(Sorry ladies, my confidence is indeed large, but I’m not about to bet your husband is going to bake you cookies.)

 

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.

The Leadership Moment Quota

Captain and First OfficerSomething I’m seeing a whole lot of these days is what I’m calling the Leadership Moment Quota. Which means, the wife needs to experience some minimum weekly amount of moments of leadership from her husband, for her to act right feel happy about the relationship.

If she gets these Leadership Moments, everything goes pretty smoothly. She likes her husband. She’s agreeable. Sweet. Doting. Charming. Horizontal.

If she doesn’t get enough Leadership Moments… she has to create them by Fitness Testing her husband to try and force them out of him. This annoys her somewhat even if you pass the Fitness Test and really annoys her if you don’t.

So, what’s a Leadership Moment?

It’s any time you (1) create a default choice for something to do, (2) make a decision for her, or (3) ask her to do something for you. Let’s walk through them.

Create a default choice for something to do.

“Let’s get Chinese food and watch Battlestar Galactica on Netflix.”

“Let’s go to the beach on Saturday.”

“I’ll come grocery shopping with you, but we should hit Panera for lunch first.”

“I’ll get the wine, you get the lingerie.”

This works because rather than being some hardass command from above, it creates a default course of action. If she wants to suggest something else to do, she can, but it’s going to require a lot more mental effort coming up with something else to do and justifying why it’s better than your idea. Most times, she’ll just take the path of least resistance and say, “okay”. Which nets you a +1 for a leadership moment. She doesn’t care what happens, she just wants you to create some basic direction she can go along with.

Make a decision for her.

Jennifer: “The red or the blue?”

Athol: “Blue.”

Jennifer: “Peach or cherry?”

Athol: “Well I’ve had your cherry… so peach.”

Jennifer: “We can have leftover chicken and make soup, or I could go get fish and do it on the grill.”

Athol: “Do the fish. Whatever looks good at the store is fine.”

That all seem stupidly easy, because honestly it kind of is stupidly easy. Unfortunately most husbands just see these questions as pointless and annoying. We don’t care if it’s red or blue, we don’t care if it’s peach or cherry, we don’t care if it’s soup or fish. She probably doesn’t care either, that’s why she’s asking. All she’s looking for is for you to make a pointless, trivial, token decision because it makes her feel attracted to you when you make decisions like a boss. Just pick one.

Ask her to do something for you.

This is one mildly harder than the others, but still fairly simple. You just ask her to do something for you.

“Hey can you roast a chicken for dinner? We haven’t had that for a while.”

“I need new shirts, can you shop and find me a couple please. Something like the purple one I have, and anything else that you like is fine.”

“In case we lose power, can you please check on batteries, food and water. I’ll do the propane tank refilling.”

“Can you take this to the post office please.”

As long as the task is easy enough to do, and there’s no reason not to do it, she’ll very likely just go do it and enjoy it as you creating a Leadership Moment. The key is that these are reasonable requests in a reasonable tone of voice. You’re just asking her to do them because you can use her assistance… which frames her as your assistant… which makes her see you as the leader.  Thus generating more attraction to you.

The point is that these are all dominance moves, but they are essentially an understated dominance. There’s no threat behind them or harsh tones. It’s simply setting a direction, asking for what you want, asking for her assistance. You’re just assuming her submissive instinct is going to kick in and she’s going to enjoy the direction. Because after all, female submission doesn’t need to be forced, simply evoked.

10 Reasons It’s “Endocrine Maybe” Instead of Batshit Crazy

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-love-hate-image29322025For a long time I’ve been saying that all can do for Batshit Crazy, is either medicate it, or run.

Except by “medicate it”, I meant psych meds. I’ll blame my psych / behavioral nursing background for that. Crazy = pills for crazy. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

But…

I’m starting to see more and more supposedly Batshit Crazy people suddenly stop being so crazy after getting on the correct set of endocrine meds. It’s really been apparent in watching all the stories of men with low testosterone on the forum who are Cranky Shit Weasels (TM) determined to avoid sex and intimacy, slowly but surely turning into normal guys once they get on testosterone therapy. Which is to say pleasantly dickish.

I’m seeing some of the same changes in personality and mood with women too. Frankly it’s getting to the point when someone presents as simply having something as simple as depression, I’m starting to think endocrine rather than psych as a starting point. Same thing with wildly inappropriate anger or disinterest in sex and other activities.

In general what triggers a “you should go to the doctor and get checked out” thought, is typically a collection of symptoms into what I call Endocrine Maybe. Here’s a list of some you might have…

(1) Lack of sexual interest and/or ability to enjoy it. That covers everything from acting like a captive Panda in the face of the zoo keepers showing you bootlegged Panda porn, to erectile dysfunction or inability to orgasm.

(2) You’re incredibly moody. Your husband stacked the dishwasher incorrectly and you’re acting like a wrestler being called out for cowardice. Stuff like that. Everyone around you walks on eggshells.

(3) You’re exhausted beyond all reason, except you are now specializing in not really doing very much.  You’re tired and unmotivated. You’re starting to see paper plates as a solution to doing the dishes.

(4) You’re forgetful and can’t think straight. You miss important things you have to do and your brain is fuzzy. You probably feel stupid because you keep losing things and can’t figure stuff out. Being moody is a great cover for not knowing what you should do when you just screwed up something by forgetting the obvious. Plus you’re too tired to think straight anyway.

(5) Your weight is keeping pace with inflation. You exercise and eat right, but you’re slowly blowing up like Veruca Salt. Or on the other hand, your weight is mysteriously going down even though you’re eating like Fat Bastard.

(6) If your menstrual cycle was made into an infographic, the graphic designer may as well be a three year old with a red crayon who was told to draw dinosaurs fighting. Goodness knows what’s happening down there. You period is random and confusing. Or maybe it’s just gone completely.

(7) You have your own weather. Everyone else is nice and warm, you’re too cold. Or vice a versa. If the kids are messing with the thermostat again, there’s a 17% chance you’ll drown them in the bathtub.

(8) You’re starting to drink, do drugs, or some other kind of self-medication to keep yourself mentally stabilized.

(9) Everything sucks. It just does. You experience First World Problems as genuinely depressing and frustrating.

(10) Someone printed this blog post off, handed it to you, then dove for safety.

So…

If you have some sort of reasonable collection of those symptoms, maybe it’s time to go visit your doctor, and this is the important part… Tell. Them. Everything.

Seriously now. Don’t hold back on anything that’s wrong with you. Don’t be afraid to ask for an endocrine referral to a specialist if your labs come back with numbers all over the place like a Lotto drawing.

Bonus reason that it might be endocrine…. you’re enraged at the suggestion you should go to the doctor to be checked out.

The good news is that if it is in fact an endocrine disorder, then it’s usually pretty fixable with medication. You can make really quite significant progress on a personal and relationship level once it’s treated. The counter-point to that though, is if it’s endocrine related and you don’t get it treated… well… enjoy the slow gradual worsening of the Batshit Crazy.

And as an aside, Rebecca Watson is the go-to of the MAP Coaches for endocrine stuff, most particularly low testosterone men. You can also check out her blog Secret Life of a Low T Wife.

 

Valentine’s Day and the Gift of an Alpha Experience

@Dewy:  Here’s my dilemma: Earlier today, my girlfriend announced by text that since I am not there on Valentine’s Day this year we should celebrate it this early, this weekend. And she’s expecting a present. Apparently her therapist suggested that we need to be more romantic, and as we don’t normally do much for Valentine’s, we should make a big thing of it this year.

At first the exchange started off pretty lighthearted. She dropped hints about silver or chocolate presents. I dropped hints about more intimate “gifts” instead. She fought a bit for the cause of materialism, and I jokingly pointed out how unmaterialistic I am (and made more sex jokes). But she kept on about presents and eventually suggested that I was making her “feel judged for suggesting we try something fun and different”. (I guess I don’t like being told I’m expected to by expensive presents for someone, or else…).

What do I get her? She just texted me to say she is “buying the components of my present now”. I need to do something in response, however minor, but there are two problems. (1) I have virtually no free time in the next 24hrs to get her anything, and (2) I’m annoyed how she is putting me in this situation of demanding something at the last minute.

Is this sort of a fitness test? If so, is it a shit test or a loyalty test?

Athol: Okay, let’s do the Fitness Test vs. Loyalty Test thing first. Fitness Test meaning she’s looking for some sort of Alpha attraction building response, and Loyalty Test meaning she’s looking for some sort of Beta relationship comfort building one.

This one is pretty ugly because it’s actually a Fitness Test AND a Loyalty Test presented in a Double Bind. Meaning you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

If you act like it’s a Fitness Test and somehow bump back on it and don’t get her something, then it will very likely be announced that you’re failing a Loyalty Test and your lack of gift signifies that you don’t care about her. That claim will be backed up by the authority of the therapist having recommended in. No gift = bad.

If you act like it’s a Loyalty Test and just immediately run out to the fancy gift store like a dog chasing a thrown tennis ball… she’ll eat some of the chocolates, then as her blood sugar dips she’ll find a way to express her quiet disappointment you’re so biddable. Probably by complaining all this chocolate is going to make her fat and you’ll sabotaging her. Gift = bad.

So…. what to do…

Well, (I’m armed with a little extra information from another forum thread,) I suspect a part of the reason she’s depressed / in therapy / on SSRI’s is because she’s in the situation where she’s struggling to find ways to hamster herself into staying with a guy that’s currently low Alpha and high Beta.

My suggestion is to give a gift of something that equates to an Alpha / high dopamine / high stimulation experience for the two of you. i.e. Ride rollercoasters somewhere, parachute jumping, date night out somewhere unusually good, ziplining, waterparks, a seriously extreme bouncy castle with no regard for safety.

There is a gift, so it meets the Loyalty Test side of the Double Bind.  But it turns the Fitness Test around on her and turns the acceptance of the gift into a Compliance Test that she has to pass. She has to step up and do the high stimulation experience, otherwise she’s chicken and/or bitchy for not accepting the gift. Double Bind that back at you baby. Which sounds a little manipulative but all you’re really doing is running your MAP in a way that dovetails with Valentine’s Day. Just add an Alpha experience and give her what she actually needs from you, rather than what her therapist thinks she wants.

@Dewy: Has anyone ever told you that you are a genius?! Most of those activities are a bit out of my budget, but I started rock climbing 3 months ago as part of my MAP and she mentioned she would like to try it. Plus it will be a good opportunity to Display High Value with my mean climbing skills…

Athol: So dear reader…

What’s your plan for Valentine’s Day?

 

Quality Time = Shared Tasks

This one is pretty simple, but it’s amazingly effective for working with a spouse that has a Quality Time love language.

99% of the time men assume that their Quality Time loving wife, wants to just sit around together watching TV. Or go on a date and gaze into one another’s eyes. Or something else completely boring as hell to the male psyche.

Her:  “Let’s have a picnic!”

Him:  *fakes having a seizure*

So…

The solution is in fact stunningly simple and easy. Stop trying to spend Quality Time together, and start Sharing Tasks.

There’s plenty of basic everyday tasks that have more than enough space to share the load together. The most obvious one is the whole cooking dinner –> eating dinner –> cleaning up routine. While you’re both in the kitchen together, there’s plenty of time to Suffer Through Vacuous Crap  (1) Talk About Your Day, (2) Help Out Around The House, (3) Spend Quality Time Together, (4) be Cocky and Funny and (5) avoid a charge of sexual harassment through sheer hotness.

Seriously, that’s all it is. Quality Time = Shared Tasks.

Make the kids lunches together in the morning. Split the Saturday morning cleaning together. Go grocery shopping together. Anything works if that’s her love language.

I also guess you have to act like actually sharing the task isn’t some onerous burden of misery that must be suffered through. Act like you like who you’re working with.

I mean think of all the emotional and physical affairs that start off because people were working together.

Jennifer: Yes! Exactly! People are busy…don’t stress about scheduling Quality Time, just find it where the opportunities already exist.  My favorite is the occasional grocery shopping trip together, which sometimes includes a stop at Panera for a bagel and coffee before we shop.  Task completed + hanging out together = Happy Jen.

Athol: Oh yeah. There’s another type of Quality Time error I see. That’s the one where she seeks you out to offer her assistance, but you’re so amazingly awesome at the task you tell her you don’t need her help. Which naturally she internalizes into you not needing… her.