Since publishing Robinson's letter last week at HUS, a firestorm of sorts has erupted in the Comments section. The hotly debated issue is nothing new: What are the ethical considerations a man should observe when seducing women? I've written plenty in the past about players, jerks, douchebags and practitioners of what some call Dark Game. Mostly I've seen my role as one of warning women about the tactics that these men use, and also admonishing women that there's no such thing as "don't ask, don't tell" in relationships. If you don't ask, and he doesn't lie, it's on you.
Still, I've commented from time to time on behavior that I've found especially exploitative and repellent, even when the woman participates by allowing herself to be treated poorly. Examples include:
- Physical violence
- Inconsistent sending of signals in an LTR, i.e. push-pull, that leave a woman uncertain and anxious about your affection
- Using insults to demean a woman's appearance in the guise of "playful teasing"
Women do terrible things to guys as well:
- Nuclear rejections, with gratuitous cruelty
- Taking advantage of men by getting them to spend money
- LJBF with insensitivity, while continuing to milk a friend for attention and affirmation
- Rewarding the worst character traits in men, while rejecting guys for being too "nice"
I've been giving this a great deal of thought, and have realized that regardless of where I draw the line on what's OK and what's not, that's my personal boundary. Yours may be different, and that's a question that each one of us has to wrestle with. I'm sure there are behaviors in these lists that all would agree are heinous, and others where there would be very little agreement, especially between the sexes.
So I've decided to approach this another way, through the lens of self-development, which is really what HUS is about, and also what Game is about. Each of us must decide, with total commitment, how we will interact with and respond to others. We will be imperfect, but we should have a considered philosophy about this. Ultimately, you answer to yourself, and to those whose lives you touch.
Yesterday while waiting for my car to be serviced, I finally starting reading Stuart Diamond's book Getting More: How to Negotiate to Achieve Your Goals in the Real World. I heard him speak a month ago about the book, which is based on his very popular course at Wharton. Reading, I was immediately struck by how applicable the principles were to the SMP, especially in light of the current discussion.
After all, mating is a series of transactions, a meeting of the supply and demand curves at the micro level. A woman who has consensual sex has made a deal, even if it's with the devil. Each party negotiates the terms of any encounter, and is solely responsible for his or her terms and subsequent agreement.
Diamond's approach is the first innovation in negotiation strategy since win-win in the 90s. He believes that approach leaves too much on the table, and that focusing on making an emotional connection between the parties increases the size of the pie, resulting in both parties getting more of what they want. Self-interest is not objectionable, it's natural - the key is finding a balance between the two parties.
Diamond on What Negotiation Is:
Terrible: Forcing people to do what you will them to do.
A bit better: Getting people to think what you want them to think.
Still better: Getting people to perceive what you want them to perceive.
Diamond on Goals:
"You negotiate to meet your goals. Everything else is subservient to that. The goals are what you are trying to accomplish. Don't try to establish a relationship unless it brings you closer to your goals.
The point of negotiation is to get what you want. Why should you negotiate to create a relationship if it won't help you meet your goals? Why should you try for a win-win if others [try to hurt you]?
Don't get distracted and clouded with other stuff - being nice, being tough, being emotional, etc. Never take your eyes off the goal. It's what you have at the end of the process that you don't have now."
Diamond on Power:
"The use of power in negotiation is fraught with risk. Seeing a negotiation in terms of gaining power over the other side sets up a conflict situation. If they perceive you as trying to grab power over them, they may well have an emotional response - as in "I don't care if I undermine the negotiation, I'm going to get even with you.
I can't say it enough: [Power] should be used selectively and constructively so that extreme reactions are not provoked. You should be sensitive to the needs of everyone along the way."
"If they have a lot more raw power than you do, they can beat you up. In such a case, you should ask them, just because they can beat you up, should they?...If you can beat up employees, will they work less hard for you?"
Diamond on Framing:
It is much more persuasive to let others make the decision, instead of telling them what the decision should be. You want to lead them where you want them to go, through framing and by being incremental."
Diamond on Trust:
The major component of trust is honesty - being straight with people. Trust does not mean that both sides agree with each other, or are always pleasant to each other. It does mean, however, that the parties believe each other.