I’ve been in this “community” now since 2004. One of the big gurus from The Game asked me to work with him, and by 2006, we were doing more pickup boot camps than anyone else in the world. But even in those days, Cliff’s List was already an institution. And here we are, years later, and I do believe this is my first ever article on Cliff’s List. All this pressure …… and a controversial topic: attraction switches.
Common pickup community wisdom is drawn largely from the research of evolutionary biologists, and holds that women are attracted to traits which are indicators of survival and replication value.
Leader of Men … Pre-Selected By Women … Provider for Loved Ones, etc.
The theory goes that women will select their own “least worst option.” In other words, the man who maximally represents these traits, and who will be the most attainable for her.
The conclusions for this are rather depressing. Are we all just slaves to our DNA ? Could your woman be “stolen” by a more alpha man ? And must every pickup and relationship be defined by our ability to accurately display (or fake) our indicators of mating value ?
I would suggest that the answer is no … and within our human nature itself is the answer we’re looking for.
The human social structure … and specifically, the structure that evolved following the agricultural revolution … is unlike any other. Companies, city-states, communities … these are all modern social inventions which have led to more complex relationships than ever before.
So, too, with this complexity comes opportunity. To take advantage of others, or to do right by others. To take from one’s community, or to attempt to solve its problems. To keep our relationships shallow and superficial, or to allow them to develop a beautiful depth which is uniquely human.
Comparing the shallowness of picking up and sleeping with many random women (and whether you view that pejoratively or not depends on your own values) to the depth of a long and loving relationship, you realize that two entirely different needs and impulses are being satisfied by each.
When your goal is to sleep with a woman as soon as possible, you will begin to make subconscious choices about what you screen for and what you represent about yourself to the women in your life. You will end up with sexually adventurous women, sexually open women, and women whose sexual thresholds are typically low. This can be a sign of confidence, of sluttiness, of vulnerability … every woman is different.
On the other hand, pushing for sex quickly, and / or disqualifying women who are less sexually receptive can push a lot of great women out of your life. A woman who feels too sexually pressured will often become flaky or peace out entirely.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Such a high value is placed on sexual conquest in this community, but I often feel that it is more of an ego thing for 90% of the guys who buy into it. Basing your self-worth on how many women you can bed is a surefire way to end up in vicious circle of self-loathing and depravity. I’ve had enough meaningless romantic encounters to appreciate how awesome the great ones are.
But hey, we’re not here for a lesson on morals. One of my favorite philosophers writes that “It belongs to the imperfection of everything human that man can only attain his desire by passing through its opposite,” and I’ve certainly found that to be the case for myself.
The key point is that the choices that a woman makes about sleeping with you are not merely a function of her DNA. Her heart will play a role in it, and the question is, how closely does she listen to her heart ?
When I sat down to try to understand the real attraction triggers … the things that make us truly human … I came up with a different set. A superset, if you will, of those provided by the evolutionary psychologists. And they are as follows:
Arousal: Emotional preparedness for mating. This includes being desired, laughing and feeling good, physical stimulation, and even fear.
Comfort: An emotional state of assuredness. Includes things like a woman’s trust in your reputation, similar value systems, empathy, vulnerability, etc.
Engagement: Active interest and participation in someone else’s life. Everything from intrigue and curiosity to genuine compatibility on shared topics.
When you consider these three emotional / physical states, you realize that any depth in the second two is 90% human, and even the first one (arousal) has a huge psychological element to it.
And what is that uniquely human part of comfort and engagement ? The term that seems most easily applied is “friendship.” C.S. Lewis calls friendship the “most unnecessary of all loves.” And when you consider our unique place in history, that it most surely is.
Evolutionary biologists would argue that friendships exist to provide group safety. There is certainly truth in that, and a look at any inner-city gang, which has an almost tribal structure, will show you how strong friendships are made, and broken, over the drive to accumulate and protect resources.
You’ll find the same thing amongst the warlords of Afghanistan and Iraq. I just interviewed an Army Captain who told me of the sexual conquests of many of Al Qaeda’s top lieutenants. Where people have the power over life and death, or where there is an insular society with a highly crystallized value system, sexual and mating dynamics revert back to zero.
But where humans have the luxury of living their lives any damn way they please (or just about), the friendships and relationships they seek are subject to these different forces. We are allowed to indulge ourselves in sex with “non-alpha” members of our species because we may find ourselves aroused by them (or by alcohol), and also the unnecessary but thoroughly fulfilling friendships of true comfort and engagement.
Sex and reproduction, then, aren’t so bleak. The choices we make about the women we bring into our lives, and the things we represent to them, will define the depth of our relationships. A man need not be “alpha” to sleep with a woman, he merely needs to arouse her enough and break through a comfort threshold. And a man and woman who are fully connected on all three “switches” will experience a harmony like none other.