BECOME THE MAN WOMEN WANT
8th of July 2014

The Mating Grounds Podcast Episode 6: What Do Women Want In Men?

Introduction:

In their first full-length episode, Tucker and Dr. Miller discuss the traits that women find attractive in men, the preferences that vary between women (and why), and the reasons that both men and women often don’t give good advice to other men.

Podcast:


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Key takeaways:

  • Key traits that women find attractive: physical health and capability (including height and strength), mental health, intelligence, kindness, willpower, self-control, status and prestige, social network and resources. You can break these down into three categories: good genes, good partner, good dad.
  • Humor is almost universally attractive because it signals intelligence, playfulness and mental health – and that you can bring value to a woman’s life.
  • Willpower is attractive because if a man can control himself, set goals and then take the steps needed to achieve those goals, he is likely to succeed.
  • If you’re in high school and have low status, don’t worry. It’s a lot easier to improve your status later on in life.
  • Regardless of what your goals are – short-term hookups or long-term relationships – the traits you need to cultivate are the same.

Links from this episode

Audio Transcription:

Tucker:
This podcast is gonna be about “What Women Want.” The first thing we have to get straight right off the bat for listeners is we’re not just two fucking clowns sitting here, talking about, “Oh! In my experience, women like plaid shirts” or “women like guys in tight jeans.” This is not anecdote, right?

We’re talking about this: there’s been years and years into decades of studies, multiple people, researchers doing tons of different work, all showing, very clearly…Different types of studies, whether it’s surveys, or studying media, or studying actual choices. It kind of doesn’t matter how or where you study. What you find are that women select the same pattern of traits over and over and over. This is across cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, across time, across age, education, everything. Smart, dumb, rich, poor; doesn’t matter. Women all want the same basic things.

The way I understand it, the way I break it down in my mind, is that these traits represents three major categories: women look for good genes in men, the ability to be a good partner in a man, and the ability to be a good dad. Right? Now, obviously the way that these things are expressed can definitely change per culture. Like, a young American female professional in New York is not gonna be attracted to the same thing a Masai female is gonna be attracted to, at least not the same expression of these traits. But, the core traits are the same for everybody. Correct?

Geoff:
Yeah. So, we’re talking about something a little more abstract, but also more fundamental than, like, eye color or particular clothing styles. We’re talking about traits at the level of intelligence, status, or kindness. Things like that.

Tucker:
And I think you actually have talked about this before. There’s so many great examples you can show of this, but I think one of the best ones may be this: Hollywood, if you want to just see it in America. We have 100 years now of data, of what male movie stars do women respond to. We could also actually look at the female movie stars men respond to, and you’re gonna see the same basic kind of thing. But because this is a podcast for men about women, that’s what we’re gonna focus on. So, how has this played out in Hollywood?

Geoff:
Talent scouts and casting directors know very well which male would-be stars are actually going to appeal to the female audience, right? All the way from Cary Grant, Marlin Brando, Richard Gere, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, these guys were all no-brainers. If you ran the test marketing for women, would you watch a George Clooney movie? Probably 90% of women would say yeah. And that’s not just about the physical appearance. It’s about the way he carries himself; his posture, his confidence, being articulate, being able to adopt different roles, being emotionally expressive. So, Hollywood has kind of cracked this code a little bit in terms of understanding, at least, implicitly, what women want and what they respond to. And that overlaps a lot with what women respond to in the dating world, too.

Tucker:
Listen, a huge part of this book, in fact, the majority of the book is explaining in detail what women want for guys so that guys can then either develop and cultivate those traits or figure out ways to minimize it if they’re not good at it, et cetera. But, let’s kind of give guys a basic break-down of some of the major things that women look for.

Geoff:
I mean, it’s basically, does your body work properly and does your brain work properly? So, things like physical health and capability: how tall are you? How strong are you? How healthy? How well can you resist disease? How long are you gonna live? That matters a lot when potential future children are dependent on a women for twenty or thirty years, potentially. Things like mental health. Does your brain work right in the sense of not having depression or autism or schizophrenia or major mental disorders, right? A certain percent of guys have those, and they’re really difficult to overcome in the dating world. Another aspect of how well your brain works is intelligence. How smart are you? How quick? How well do you learn? And then there’s a lot of social and moral traits, like your willpower, your self-control, your kindness. And then how those all play out in your little social circle. What status do you attain? What prestige? What fame? Who are your friends? How big is your social network? And in an economic society, how much money do you make? What material resources do you have?

Tucker:
Okay. So, you just threw a lot at the listeners. Let’s kind of break this down a little bit. Let’s break it down into three categories. Body and brain are essentially Good Genes, right?

Geoff:
And they’re also going to influence how good a partner and how good a parent you are.

Tucker:
All of these things are interconnected, no doubt. But I’m trying to give guys a clear way to think about this. Good Partner is sort of, like, social status. Although that obviously impacts Good Dad. Then resources really kind of fall under Good Dad. Although kindness, et cetera, also makes you a good dad. It’s not a clear division, but mapping these things that guys can think about. Height is very important. We’re going to talk about this in another podcast, why women evolve to have these preferences, because these are all evolved preferences. Women did not – I’ve said this before and I’m going to say this again, many times – women did not get together and decide, “We’re going to like tall men and fuck short men, for some reason. To hell with them.” They have evolved to choose these traits because the women who chose these traits in the past had more genetic success than the ones that chose other things, right? So, we’re gonna explain that in detail in a different podcast, which is how these preferences involved. What we need to worry about in this podcast is what the preferences are. Height matters. Physical strength matters. Height doesn’t mean you have to be 6’8”. It just means you want to be generally taller than the guys around you, right?

Geoff:
Yeah, and taller than the woman herself.

Tucker:
Okay. Actually, that’s the bigger thing. Taller than the woman and if you can be taller than the other guys, that’s good, too. What does strength actually mean? Clearly, it doesn’t mean you have to be a body builder or a football player.

Geoff:
We’re thinking more like…think about the hunter-gatherer experience. The hunters who succeed are not massive steroided up body builders, because you can’t run very well. You can’t hunt…

Tucker:
It takes a lot of resources to maintain that body mass.

Geoff:
Yeah, maintaining that body mass is hard. We’re talking about a slim, athletic physique with some upper-body capabilities where you can walk, run, swim, hunt, fight. All those basics.

Tucker:
So, what’s a good analog? Like, what body types would that track to, where someone today can think of and say, “Oh yeah?”

Geoff:
Well, if you ask women, they go, “I don’t want a guy who’s super bulky.” The kind of bodies that women tend to want are kind of Cross fit bodies, where you can do lots of different things. You have some explosive strength. Swimmer bodies are super attractive to women because of the V between the shoulders and the waist.

Tucker:
Which is the same as Cross fit bodies. They’re almost the same. Cross fitters tend to have a little bit bigger muscles, but they’re…same shapes, right?

Geoff:
And women don’t particularly want guys to be super shredded. They like at least a little body fat. But not more than, maybe 15-20%. If you have really, really low body fat, like a long-distance runner, that means you’re not gonna be able to resist infection well. You’re actually gonna be weaker and more vulnerable. It also messes up your hormone levels.

Tucker:
Exactly. Alright, so those are sort of body things. What about some mental health? To make that clear, you’ve never heard a woman say…There are guys who are short and flaccid and unhealthy who still get girls. A good example is Jonah Hill. He’s pathetic physically, in all ways, and he still gets plenty of girls. But you’ve never heard a woman say, “Man, I just love how doughy and disgusting Jonah Hill is.” No, they like him because in other ways, he’s so incredibly attractive, mainly in status and resources. He’s rich and he’s famous. Fame changes everything. If in your mind, you’re thinking, “Well, Jonah Hill does it.” Well, motherfucker, you’re not Jonah Hill. If you’re famous, a lot of this stuff doesn’t apply. But how many guys are famous? Very few. Or maybe if you’re a drug dealer. You can get a girl to suck your dick for coke, right? Okay, fine. That’s resources. There’s two or three things, maybe. But we’re talking about normal dudes in normal life. Alright, so let’s talk about brains. So, mental health…it’s funny, too, like…just thinking about that. No girl’s ever been like, “Man, I really like this guy. He’s so depressed.” You know? No woman’s ever said that. In fact, what’s a counter-example of a morose, depressed guy who does well reproductively? The only examples I can think of are certain musicians or artists. And again, what are they doing right? That super high-status job, right? If you’re a musician, it’s hard to be a higher status than that in terms of value. There’s many reasons why, but the only reason guys fucking pay attention to music is because it gets girls.

Geoff:
Yeah. But it’s not like the women are going, “Oh, I love him because he’s depressed.” It’s, “I love him in spite of that because he’s awesomely talented and famous.”

Tucker:
Right. It’s almost a counter-signal. We’ll talk about counter-signal in-depth later on. But basically, I’m thinking that there are definitely women who are attracted to sort of dark, brooding types. You know what I’m saying? But generally, that fits a sort of archetype, whereas other things absolutely fill in that space and make up for it. No woman’s ever like, “Man, I really like him because he’s depressed.” No woman’s ever said that.

Geoff:
Well, if you read the romance novels, women like the dark, brooding hero. It’s always part of his status and capability. But, he’s dark and brooding for a reason.

Tucker:
Because he doesn’t have a woman like that in his life!

Geoff:
Well, he doesn’t have a woman, but there’s some trauma in the past and she fixes him. It’s not like he was born depressed, and for no good reason, he’s just an existentially kind of fucked-up guy. The flipside of not having mental illness is you can have conspicuously good mental health, which is being happy, creative, funny, playful, cheerful, emotionally resilient, adaptable, right? Women know this: if a guy is under stress. His business is collapsing, he failed an exam, somebody died in his family. How he copes with that, how resilient he is a really good signal of how he’s gonna cope in the future if, let’s say, she has a difficult pregnancy or their kid is acting up or there’s a famine.

Tucker:
How well he’s gonna be as a partner and provider.

Geoff:
Yeah.

Tucker:
Exactly. I think we talked about this in another podcast, but repeating stuff always helps people learn. Humor’s a really good indicator, because humor’s one of those things…Universally, almost. You’d be hard to find a culture where women are like, “Eh, I don’t like funny guys.” And even in those, there are few, I think, reported where humor is not necessarily valued highly, but it was sort of a Western definition of humor, not the culture’s definition. Why do people like humor? Why are women, especially, attracted to funny? It’s because…what does funny signal?

Geoff:
It signal intelligence. It signals mental health. All the major mental disorders reduce your sense of humor. It signals playfulness, so if you’re thinking about, “Is this guy gonna be a good dad?” A lot of that means, is he willing and able to play with my kids in a kind of funny, roleplaying kind of way? And humor is a big signal for that. Is he gonna be able to resolve arguments with humor and self-deprecation and lightness rather than just being dead serious about everything?

Tucker:
Exactly. And, actually, this goes back to what we talked about in another podcast. Most people’s lives are boring and kind of tedious. Part of a negotiation of any sort of relationship, short- or long-term, is what do you bring to my life? And for a man to bring humor means it makes your life better. More exciting, more fun, more enjoyable, right? Right. Not that everyone has to be a jokey guy, but if you can be funny at all, it always helps. It’s never gonna hurt you, with a woman, to be funny.

Geoff:
And bear in mind, in pre-history, before electronic media, before TV and Facebook and all of that, life was so much more boring. And when I talk to my grad students who’ve done field research among the Tsimane tribal people in Bolivia, where they’ve got no electronics. If you can tell good, funny stories consistently, you get so much status and interest. Not just status, but gratitude, because people are like, “Oh my god, a funny story.”

Tucker:
People love entertainers, man.

Geoff:
Entertainers are valued and women are still kind of wired to value you as an entertainer who kind of lightens her life.

Tucker:
Why do you think I get laid, man? That’s it. I tell stories. All my books told stories that made people laugh. And it’s like, that’s really all I ever intended them to be, and I have a very high status because of that. That’s all I did. It seems fundamental, how hard is it? Most people can’t or don’t do that. I guess that actually answers the musician question, really, is…music’s the same way. It helps you escape. It helps you emote. It helps you pass time. It helps you understand your experience. After the primary survival needs are met, the first thing humans do is look for entertainment.

Geoff:
Yeah. Yeah.

Tucker:
Alright, so let’s talk about social stuff. This is always sort of one thing that women want that guys get confused about, is willpower. I remember when you wrote this in the outline, I was like, “No woman gives a fuck about willpower.” But then the way you explained it made total sense.

Geoff:
So willpower is just, are you conscientious? Do you plan ahead? Do you set goals and achieve them? Are you ambitious? Do you have self-control so you can inhibit things like anger or irritability? That’s crucial for being a good partner. Do you take good care of yourself? Do you have the willpower to eat well, exercise? This is a big deal in modern society. And also crucially, do you have the power to resist temptations and addictions? Victimless crimes. Are you a chronic alcoholic or pothead or meth head or porno addict? All of that is a huge turn-off to women because even though it might not necessarily be hurting you that much, in the present, it does not bode well.

Tucker:
The only people attracted to addicts are other addicts.

Geoff:
Yeah. You’re not gonna make a good husband or father if you’re spending a third of your waking hours worried about some addiction.

Tucker:
Exactly. I think that also maps onto…willpower is a very good signal for success. If you have decent ability to control yourself, to set a goal and do the steps needed in order to achieve it, chances are you’re gonna succeed in the modern world.

Geoff:
Yeah. The two big predictors of wealth and economic success are intelligence and conscientiousness, which is basically the same as willpower over addiction.

Tucker:
Right. So, let’s talk about kindness and morality. They don’t necessarily map together exactly, but this sort of ideas, like, empathy. That sort of set of traits, which kind of map to brain, map to social a little bit. But women actually care about this quite a bit.

Geoff:
Yeah. Well, women want to be understood. They want you to be a good, active listener. If there’s a conversation, you should be actually paying attention to what she’s saying, understanding it, putting yourself in her perspective. Why? Why does that matter? Because empathy is gonna be crucial in any future relationship with her…

Tucker:
Or with children.

Geoff:
Or with children. Protecting babies, toddlers, kids…you’ve gotta understand not just what they desire, but what’s dangerous to them from their little point of view. And she also wants you to understand her friends and her family and her social conditions and her fears and anxieties and hopes and aspirations. And the better you’re able to have that empathy, the earlier you can demonstrate it in courtship, the more reassuring it is to her.

Tucker:
The other big thing. I think this is probably the biggest thing for especially young people, because a lot of these other things matter more as you get older. When you’re younger, most of these things are working well. You’re in social environments where you can actually see that they’re not working. But the younger you are, I think the more important status is. Because status is much more hierarchical when you’re young. When you’re in school, there’s a number of slots and you fit into them. When you’re in the real world, even though our brains aren’t equipped this way, my status doesn’t necessarily trade off with yours. You’re in academia. I’m entertainment. We can both be alphas, right? That’s kind of the way the modern world works, whereas school doesn’t really work that way as much. Let’s talk a little bit about status. Why does status matter and then how does it play out with attraction?

Geoff:
Bear in mind that when women are making these mate choice decisions, they’re gonna gather information wherever it’s available. Part of that information is them directly assessing you and your traits and your behavior. But part of it is, because we live in social groups, we’re social primates, part of it is, what does everyone else think of you? What’s the consensus view of your value as a person or to the community or in a relationship? The general level of social respect that you have in your group, that’s your status. It’s not something you claim. It’s something others give to you based on your behavior towards them. So, women use status as a really convenient, powerful cue that says, basically, how much do other people respect this guy? If they respect them, I should probably respect him, too, and find him attractive.

Tucker:
The younger you are, the more you can fuck everything else up, and if you have good status, you’ll still be very attractive to women. There’s a couple good studies that came out about this recently, where the ones that study how people did who were popular in high school versus after, because being popular in high school is not usually the exact same set of traits that being popular in the real world is. There’s some that overlap, but not a lot, and so there are a lot of people that figured out how to be popular in high school, or they lucked into it or whatever, and they didn’t do well afterwards. It’s one of things where you learn how to do something right, and you think you’re good at it, but all you know how to do is do something in one specific instance, and they don’t ever learn how to adapt or change. But the point is that those status relationships are very important, the younger you are. The good news, I think, for young guys is if you have poor status in high school, relax. It’s okay. It’s very easy to improve status later on.

Geoff:
It gets better.

Tucker:
Well, it can get better if you make it better. It doesn’t necessarily get better. You can just be a fucking shitbird who does nothing. You know? And it won’t get better. It doesn’t automatically get better, but it’s much easier to make it better. I think the other side of that is, if you have good status in high school or college, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gonna translate, you know? It could. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gonna translate.

Geoff:
This is the thing. Human status is really dynamic across the lifespan, unlike a lot of other primates. A lot of other species, your status is basically determined, like, if you’re female, by your mother’s status. But for humans, the worst situation is low status in high school and you peaked early, which does happen. But there’s always new status games you can play, new social niches you can explore, new ways to gain status in so many different domains of life, and that’s the great thing about being human. There’s not just one fixed status hierarchy decline. It changes over time, it changes over social contexts.

Tucker:
We can talk about this more in-depth later. I think a lot of people don’t understand this. We didn’t evolve from apes. We are fucking apes. We just are, right? And our brains are literally wired to interpret almost everything as status, and to not just figure out where we are, but to achieve higher status. And if you understand that, and we’ll go deeper into that. I think we’ll do one podcast that’s just on mammalian status hierarchies, how they play out in the brain, how that…what that means for you and your behavior. But, I think the thing, why all this sort of ties together. Here’s the point that we’re trying to make to guys. All these things that we described that women want, we’re going to tell you how to get better at them, and if you’re not good at them, either to make sure they’re not a drag or to accentuate the things you’re good at, to show up the things you’re bad at. We’re gonna tell you how to get girls. A lot of this is gonna sound like we’re telling you how to be a good boyfriend. And it actually is, because here’s the kicker: listen, I’m gonna say this again and again, but it’s super important—it doesn’t matter what your mating goals are. Your goals can be like my goals were in my twenties. I wanna fuck as many girls as possible, and that’s my only goal. Or your goal can be, I wanna find a girl to marry. Or anything in between. Regardless of what your goals are, they’re best served by creating a set of attractive traits that emulate the type of guy a woman would want to date or marry. Correct?

Geoff:
Yeah. Good boyfriend traits are gonna get you a long way to your goal, whatever that mating goal is.

Tucker:
Even if your goals are short-term mating, it does change a little bit. About 10% of things you need to do differently behaviorally that will maximize short-term mating versus long-term mating, and we will get to that at the end of the book. Somewhere around podcast 20, 25 of Geoff and I’s discussion. We’re gonna get to those, and there are differences. But the foundation is not virtually the same, it’s the same! It’s exactly the same, regardless of what your goals are. We don’t have an agenda to say you have to date girls. The agenda is, we’re gonna help you get better with women and achieve your goals with women, whatever they are. But the path is the same for 90% of the way, regardless of your goals, correct?

Geoff:
Yeah, the path is the same. The lifestyle’s the same. You know, the stuff you have to invest your time and energy in is the same, but it’s not that complicated to understand what women want from the good boyfriend. It’s Good Genes, Good Partner, Good Provider. It’s a finite list of specific traits, and you can cultivate those traits, and if you do, you will be more attractive to women.

Tucker:
No doubt. I don’t want to call it a formula, ‘cause it’s not an algorithmic checklist, but it’s pretty close. It’s a little bit of a combination, checklist and art, or formula and art. But it’s doable, for virtually everybody. Let’s talk about the variations and the way things change. So, what are some of the big variations? These are the core traits, right? But most people focus on the differences. What are some of the differences?

Geoff:
Like, across women?

Tucker:
Yeah, right. Across women. Like, why some women either…Actually, it could be either one. What are some of the things that will vary across women, what are the things that will vary per woman over time?

Geoff:
The key thing that varies for women is, just like women choose men on a certain set of traits that kind of add up to the man’s overall mate value, men also choose women based on a set of female traits that actually overlap quite a bit. Men choose women who are healthy and attractive and intelligent and funny and interesting and a high status.

Tucker:
We just order our traits differently.

Geoff:
Right. Little bit of differences in priority…

Tucker:
Right. Physical appearance is maybe fifth or eighth for women. For men, it’s always number one. Youth is very important for men. Youth is not super important for women.

Geoff:
Yeah. But the woman’s gonna have a certain mate value that she grows up with from grade school onwards, knowing where she stacks up in terms of her attractiveness to guys. That determines how choosey she can be. How much she can hold out for in terms of the kind of guy she’s with. So, whenever you’re talking to a woman, you automatically make an assessment of her mate value in terms of how attracted to her you are, but also bear in mind, she already knows her mate value and it’s gonna influence what she’s looking for.

Tucker:
Well, some of them. Quite a few women have quite a distorted view of their mate value. In fact, New York City’s full of those women in their thirties.

Geoff:
Yeah. Yeah. But they, at least, are about as accurate at knowing their mate value as you are.

Tucker:
As guys are. Exactly. I don’t wanna put it all on women, ‘cause guys can be just as self-delusional. Absolutely. In fact, New York City’s full of those dudes, too!

Geoff:
Yeah. Absolutely, yeah. So, one thing is just the mating market. It’s supply and demand. People tend to match other people who kind of have similar mate value to themselves, and that’s what you expect from a kind of competitive market. One thing to bear in mind is just, women’s preferences will differ in terms of how choosey they are based on what the woman’s own mate value is.

Tucker:
Right. Let’s go over our list of things that can impact it. For instance, parental issues. This is getting into psychoanalysis and life history theory, but the basic idea is some women will like guys with beards and some women won’t, and part of that can just be a conscious decision, but part of it can be parental imprinting. A beard, for example, is very superficial. Women who like abusive guys almost certainly had abusive fathers and probably in a very similar way, generally speaking. What are some other examples of how parental imprinting can change, or do you think those are good?

Geoff:
Well, yeah. Parental imprinting is just…you’re using your own parents as a cue to what is probably likely to work, because the fact that you exist means both of your parents, if they really are your parents, succeeded in raising at least one offspring. So, if you’re a woman, whatever your dad did, however screwed up he might have been, if you’re still alive and functioning, at least he was an adequate dad in some ways.

Tucker:
Whether it was right or wrong. We’re talking about the unconscious.

Geoff:
And so, imprinting just means you tend to seek boyfriends who are kind of similar to your dad in certain ways. Physical appearance, mannerisms, voice…

Tucker:
Or it can play the opposite way. It can be a reaction against. Like if you had a terrible parent and you’re pissed at them, a lot of times the way the human brain plays that out is you date…I’ll tell you, that’s exactly going on with me, like…I don’t know if a woman could be more opposite of my mom than Veronica. Veronica, my girlfriend. She’s so stable, so emotionally resilient and intelligent and all these sorts of things, which are things my mom did not really display. I think it’s very much a reaction against, as opposed to imprinting. So you can imprint or—what’s the opposite of imprinting? Is there a word?

Geoff:
It’s counter-imprint. Let’s call it that.

Tucker:
Alright, there you go. So, what are some other things? This is actually one of your areas of expertise. Ovulatory cycles can change women’s decision-making.

Geoff:
Yeah, so it also matters a lot. In the typical 28-day cycle that women go through from menstruating to building up the uterine lining that can potentially get pregnant to being just about to ovulate. That’s the period of maximum fertility. If you have sex a couple days before ovulation, you’re most likely to get pregnant. And you ovulate, and if you don’t get pregnant, you menstruate again. There’s now hundreds of papers showing that what women want varies a little bit across a cycle. As it should, because if you’re meeting a guy and you could actually potentially get pregnant tonight if you mated with him, his Good Genes traits matter a lot more. If you met him and you’re menstruating, you’re not gonna be fertile for two weeks, and at least in the short-term, his Good Partner traits might matter more. So, there’s a lot of evidence now that these cycle effects also nudge female preferences in different directions.

Tucker:
It’s not like a woman’s a total slut, and then two weeks later, she’s like a different person. It’s just talking about the margins, obviously.

Geoff:
Yeah, the margins. So, when a woman’s at peak fertility, she values a guy who’s got a little bit more masculine face, a deeper voice, a little more socially assertive and extroverted. A little bit taller, a little more muscular. And then, a week earlier or a week later, she’ll value basically a guy who’s a little bit nicer, a little wimpier, a little bit less of an asshole. It’s hard to track these cycles if you’re a guy just meeting women, but be aware that she might like you better next week than she does this week.

Tucker:
We’ll go over this more in-depth in the book, but some of the things that can really impact what women are more or less attracted to are her economic autonomy. How much money does she make can greatly impact what she’s looking for in a man, you know, how she values certain traits related to other ones. Things like her various status concerns. Her ideology. Republicans and Democrats, for the most part, match up, but sometimes Democratic women can value certain traits – empathy, maybe – more than Republican women, et cetera. Not greatly. Almost all these changes are at the margins, but they’re changes. Things like her sexual strategy. Her life stage is a big one, too; how old or young she is. That can change greatly. Listen, I can tell you absolutely in my experience, young women, like eighteen to twenty-two, have a very different set of things that they look for an emphasize, twenty-three to twenty-eight is different, and then twenty-eight to thirty-four. Very different. Some overlap, of course, but that can change a lot of how women make decisions, I think. On what they emphasize.

Geoff:
Yeah. Absolutely, ‘cause bear in mind, when a women’s a teenager, she might have her preferences, but not trust them. They might not be fully developed. She doesn’t have much sexual experience. She doesn’t know how a guy’s traits are gonna play out, in terms of the relationship…

Tucker:
Some things seem real cool when you’re eighteen that aren’t when they’re twenty-six.

Geoff:
Yeah. For example, she’ll pay more attention to a guy’s status. Younger females across almost all species do this. They’ll imitate the choices that other females make more when they’re young, when they don’t have experience, and then when they’re more mature females, they trust their judgment and they don’t need to know what other females think.

Tucker:
Or it’s less important. Cool. Here’s a thing that I always get. Women say this a lot, actually. Guys, too. “Oh, yeah, whatever, this is all just psycho-babble. Research, academia…why don’t you just ask women what they want?” In certain ways, that’s good advice. If you’re asking a woman what shoes do you like a guy to wear, then you should listen to their answer, ‘cause they’re gonna give you a good answer. Where are the areas that, I don’t wanna say you shouldn’t listen to women, but the things that women will say they like or go after don’t necessarily reflect their actually decisions?

Geoff:
Well, one thing is that organisms in general don’t have a lot of insight into why they want things. We don’t even have great insight into why we want, like, fat, salt, or sugar to eat.

Tucker:
There’s huge bodies of research. All of Daniel Kahneman’s stuff won Nobel Prize. It’s all about how we do all these things and we have no idea why even though we convince ourselves we do.

Geoff:
Think about it from the male point of view. If you ask guys, you like boobs. Why? Why?

Tucker:
Why do you like these two lumps of fatty tissue on a woman’s chest?

Geoff:
And those guys will—that’s, like, a nonsensical question. They can’t articulate. It seems obvious.

Tucker:
“What do you mean, why? Are you a faggot? Why don’t you like tits? What do you mean you don’t like tits?”

Geoff:
Yeah. So if you ask women, why do you like that guy? Why is George Clooney hot? Why was your ex-husband not hot? They’ll be able to articulate some of it, but there’s a lot of pressures on them. A: it might not be politically correct to admit why they like or don’t like something. It might not be socially acceptable to say, “You know what, he just wasn’t tall enough for me,” or “His penis wasn’t girthy enough,” or “He didn’t make enough money.” There’s all these ideological constraints. Also, a lot of young women don’t have much experience with a variety of men. They’re not calibrated yet, so they don’t really know what they’re missing if they haven’t happened to have been exposed to a boyfriend with a certain trait. So, a woman might say, “Oh, I don’t care about music. His musical talent doesn’t matter.” Well, then a year later, maybe she dates a musician and thinks, “Oh, my god. Music is so sexy. Guitar playing is awesome. I’m never gonna date a guy who can’t play guitar again.” So, until a woman is sort of in her thirties and has experience with a variety of men, she won’t quite know how to talk about her preferences clearly. Another thing is, there’s a lot of preferences women have that they don’t have to consciously think about, but where they can just kind of filter guys out based on the guy approaching them. So a woman might not have to say, “Oh, I prefer extroverted guys.” It just happens that, oh, only the extroverts have the guts to approach her. So she’s kind of automatically screening out shyness, lack of confidence, low status, and she doesn’t even need to articulate to herself –

Tucker:
That this is going on?

Geoff:
– that this is one of my filtering mechanisms, right.

Tucker:
I think one thing I want to reemphasize, ‘cause this is something that people don’t understand about – it took me a long time to understand this, too. Our brains are designed to fool our conscious minds. Literally. That’s the way they’re neurologically, genetically set up. People have won multiple Nobel Prizes over the last twenty years showing exactly this. My favorite example is the study where they took people who had the split corpus callosums ‘cause of the epilepsy surgeries, and they put a split-screen in front of them. They basically put a divider between their eyes, and there were two TVs. One eye only saw one TV. And so one TV had a picture of a rabbit and the other one would have a command, like “stand up.” “Stand up” was, I think, on the – I’m probably gonna get the hemispheres reversed, but it was projecting to the left eye, so it was the right brain? Right? And they would stand up. Then the researcher would ask them, “Why would you stand up?” And because their hemispheres were split, they couldn’t connect the thought. So the left brain rationalized a reason why they stood up, because they weren’t connected. The left brain wasn’t immediately connecting what the right brain saw. The right brain followed the command. The left brain said, oh, I just wanted to scratch myself or I just kind of felt like standing up. And it’s like, holy shit, you see videos of this research and you’re like, holy shit, these people don’t even realize that their brain is designed to lie to itself, to come up with a reason for behavior if it can’t find one. Even if there was a reason, it just wasn’t connected. I’ll never forget when I saw that video. I was like, “Holy shit.” Because the implication is your brain is doing this to itself for any number of things that you don’t realize. This is men, too. This is not female shit. This is humans. Right? And so much of what we think and feel about emotional stuff or love or sex or whatever works like that.

Geoff:
Yeah. And we call that adaptive self-deception, when the mind fools itself for really good reasons. In a social species like ours, there are lots of good reasons for you to fool yourself so that you can better fool others. If you’ve ever been in a situation with a women where you kind of end up having sex faster than you thought and afterwards you realize, we both knew that was on. Right? We both knew that was gonna happen, but we couldn’t quite admit it to ourselves.

Tucker:
So you play this little game, and –

Geoff:
You play this little game, and a lot of it’s about plausible deniability.

Tucker:
Because you don’t wanna feel slutty, or there’s these social factors working on your conscience. So the two things you have to essentially deceive yourself. There’s the, I don’t wanna feel slutty. I don’t wanna feel shamed by my friends. Like, these three things, whatever, right? But there’s this deep attraction and this guy’s displayed the five things that you really care about on an unconscious level, or the three things conscious, et cetera, and your friends aren’t around…We’re just making up a scenario. This is not supposed to cover everything. But the point is, you do something that feels totally right, but isn’t in line with…religious people. I’m having fucking Catholic girls have had anal sex ‘cause they’ve convinced themselves that that’s not losing their virginity, which is so preposterous in every way, but that’s an example of a conscious mental gymnastics. But, right, exactly what you’re talking about. They’ll figure out ways to rationalize it so that they align the mammalian limbic brain with the human conscience cortex.

Geoff:
The irony is, often, I think women are particularly good at this if they’re chasing a high-status guy. They might hear you’re doing a book tour, Tucker, and they kind of end up accidentally walking past a bookstore at the right time when they kind of vaguely know you’re gonna be there and then they kind of accidentally end up sleeping with you or whatever.

Tucker:
Right. “I never thought I was gonna do that!”

Geoff:
And their girlfriends watching this will go, “We knew exactly what you were doing! We could see it from the outside.” But the woman herself might be going, “No, no, it just kind of played out that way.” Plausible deniability.

Tucker:
The other thing I wanna cover is, it’s not just women. It’s not like women just fool themselves and men are these rational beings who understand everything. Clearly, that’s not remotely the case. But I think women don’t just…it’s not just women giving bad advice to men or fooling themselves. I know men also fall victim to the exact same problem. They either fool themselves or they give bad advice to other men about what women want. I don’t want to spend too much time shitting on poor guys who are terrible with women, because that’s pretty much all of us at some stage of our life. Even the ones who are good, like, I’m pretty good with women now. There was a time where I was just as bad as anyone else. I just happened to be able to figure it out. So, what are some of the situations that happen where men give bad advice to other men? Even if it’s obviously not on purpose.

Geoff:
I think one big thing is just…bear in mind that most guys actually don’t have that many sexual partners in their lives. Your dad, bless his heart, everybody’s dad probably had sex with fewer than ten women before he met your mom and maybe had an affair or two. So the amount of experience most, even middle-aged guys have is really very limited. That means whatever advice they give you is based on this little sample size of what happened to work in their life and then whatever woman happened to eventually accept them as husband material.

Tucker:
Right. The thing to remember, too, is part of the reason we’re doing this is because there’s not a systematic, rigorous, empirically tested, effective course of study for understanding women, sex, dating, relationships. So even the guys that are successful probably either lucked into it or figured out certain small things that worked for certain times or periods. Even usually the successful guys, they only know that something they did worked, and they’re gonna rationalize. “Of course, yeah, give her flowers” or “treat her like a bitch” or whatever stupid advice that they think actually led to their success, they’re gonna tell you confidently, but chances are, they don’t have any fucking idea what they’re talking about. No one teaches this stuff.

Geoff:
Yeah. And if you interview their wives or girlfriends and ask them, “Why were you really attracted to him?” It will not bear much overlap to why he thinks she was attracted to him.

Tucker:
Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Geoff:
The other thing is, a lot of dating gurus who give advice about, here’s how to fix this and this and this and this part of your game. They don’t understand why they’re successful with women either. If there’s some pick-up artist who’s super tall or charismatic or good-looking or does magic tricks or happens to have a great smile, he might attribute his success to all kinds of things he’s consciously worked on, but where the women are basically just responding to his physical traits or some social trait he’s not even aware of.

Tucker:
Or they’re just looking to fuck and he happens to be the least pathetic guy they’ve met that night. Which I know, a lot of ass I’ve gotten is because of that. I tell this story to guys all the time. I’m like, look. Two guys are walking in the jungle and a tiger starts chasing them. They run off. One of them stops and starts putting his tennis shoes on, and the guy’s like, “What the fuck are you doing? Even if you have tennis shoes on, you can’t outrun a tiger.” And the guy says, “I don’t have to outrun the tiger. I just have to outrun you.” I think a lot of guys don’t realize this. In bar/club situations, which are, by the way, the worst situations to meet women. We’re gonna talk about this very much in-depth in a later podcast. But, in those situations, a huge percentage of the women have gone out. They’ve already decided they’re gonna hook up and they’re just trying to pick the guy they want to hook up with. So, all you have to do in that situation – you don’t even have to be that good. You just have to be better than the other losers at that fucking club, and you’re gonna get laid. If you’re better than them and not actively screwed up. You’re exactly right, guys who sort of teach those “tricks,” all they’re doing is they’re taking guys who were utterly pathetic and they’re helping them…Listen, this is a benefit. If you can help a guy do better than he was doing, I’m all for you. I’m not trying to say…I’m not one of those people shading, like, oh, if you’re teaching this, you’re automatically a loser. That’s not necessarily true. But if you’re teaching a dude how to go to a place and be less pathetic than other guys, to get laid that night, that’s better than nothing, but that’s not really gonna help you achieve real mating success. It’s gonna get you from zero to one, which is better than nothing. But it’s not gonna get you from one to five or ten or whatever you’re looking for.

Geoff:
Yeah. And those tricks are not gonna generalize very well to other contexts, either. I’ve been in Austin the last couple days while we’re recording these podcasts and it’s obvious to me that if I was looking for a girlfriend, the place I would meet her is Whole Foods Market. Right? Not a 6th Street nightclub. But if I went into Whole Foods Market dressed up, peacocking with some elaborate weird hat and doing magic tricks or running game the way that guys think they should run it in clubs. If I did that in the Whole Foods produce section, it would just be retarded, right?

Tucker:
Can you imagine? That actually brings up a good point. Those are, I think, the three major reasons why men give bad advice. They don’t know what they’re talking about, they’ve never studied this and are just generalizing from their one experience, or they’re trying to teach this but they really don’t know what they’re talking about. Here’s the best example, I think, that the pick-up artist community, you should not listen to them except for…I don’t know. I’m not sure when you should. Here’s why: ‘cause the iconic thing that they teach is a principle they call peacocking, right? I’m probably getting this wrong, I don’t know. But the idea in peacocking is, that one fucking dude who wears the top-hat and the goggles and the make-up, right? And he’s saying, well, you do these outlandish things to gain attention just like a peacock. And I’m like, look motherfucker, you don’t understand peacocks at all. We actually talked about this with Matt Ridley in the interview. The idea that peacocks do that to get attention is fucking ridiculous. That’s not what peacocks do. Peacocks actually have their major, huge plume as a way of showing how healthy they are and how robust they are, because they can waste so many resources on this ostentatious, ridiculous display. It’s actually a counter-signal. The opposite of peacocking is sort of what they’re doing. They don’t even understand the basic science enough to understand what the fuck they’re talking about. If you ask them, listen to them describe how they reverse-engineered their tactics. It’s actually what they’re doing. They basically groped around in the dark with trial-and-error, almost like an engineer, ‘cause most of them are autistic engineers. They came from that world. They reverse-engineered and groped around the dark with trial-and-error until they found certain things that work, and they don’t really understand what they’re doing or why they’re doing, and a lot of what they’re doing is almost like cargo cult science, you know? They have no idea what they’re doing, but they know they’re doing better than they used to, so they are scribing meaning to it. Virtually none of it has meaning. It’s kind of sad, actually, in a lot of ways.

Geoff:
And I think it often works only on a particular kind of girl in a particular context, and if you rely on trial-and-error, it’s really easy to get stuck in a rut where you learn a few little tricks or moves or seduction tactics that seem to work on a particular kind of woman of a particular age of a particular mate value in a specific space. Then, if you get enough success, you’re stuck doing that. I see a lot of guys in their twenties and thirties who are using the same kind of mating tactics they used ten years ago.

Tucker:
Doesn’t work.

Geoff:
Either it doesn’t work or they’re still getting the kind of women they used to, but they’re kind of gradually realizing, that’s not really good girlfriend material or good wife material. So, we recommend cultivating traits so they’re gonna work across the board to almost any woman in any context that have some real science behind them and universal appeal.

Tucker:
And that you can feel good about doing. That’s the reason why most guys who do pick-up artist shit stop doing it, is because you feel like a skeevy, manipulative loser because a lot of what they teach…that’s what they’re teaching, is how to manipulate. How to look at women as objects that you’re trying to get over on as opposed to people that you’re trying to interact with and create a relationship with, even if it’s short-term.

Geoff:
Yeah.

Tucker:
Alright, cool. That was good.

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