Received an email from a reader yesterday that I decided to answer publicly:
“I wanted to ask you about the ethics of being a player, because I really don’t want to go around breaking hearts, deliberately or not? How do you deal with this? I know you talk a lot about how woman tend to become emotionally attached to the men they sleep with. Are you explicitly up front with the woman you only want to have sex with, or do you just drop subtle hints? Basically, is there a way to manage their expectations? I’d like to be a temporary player with as little collateral damage as possible.”
There are a lot of points to deal with here, both intentional by the reader and unintentional. We’ll take them one by one. But I’ll start off by saying that the reader is coming from the typical Nice Guy Syndrome perspective and the reason I’m answering this email publicly is because — well, mainly because it’s going to be a long fucking response — but because most guys who seek out pick up and dating advice start with the same mindset, so I think this is going to be relevant to a lot of people.
Nice Guy Syndrome is basically someone who is scared to death to upset anyone else or to have anyone think badly of them. It’s a wholly reactive and passive mindset programmed into a lot passive/effeminate men (read: pussies) from a very early age: don’t offend, don’t be controversial, don’t make anyone else upset if you can help it. The idea is that having nobody dislike you equates to everyone loving you. Unfortunately, this isn’t how it works. In the process of NOT asserting yourself or your desires, you invite others to walk over you and become enslaved by everyone else’s desires, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in not-so-subtle ways.
The problem is also that sex, dating, womanizing, being a player, these things ARE controversial at times, they ARE offensive at times, and people will get upset. When Nice Guy’s begin studying this stuff and finally work up the courage to begin implementing it, they’re often confronted with the conundrum of our reader above: I want to assert my sexuality but I don’t want anyone to dislike me, I don’t want to be controversial or offensive. But instead of recognizing the inherent contradiction in goals (I don’t want to be offensive, but to get laid I need to be willing to be offensive), the Nice Guy rationalizes the exact same thought the reader above rationalized, along with millions of men the world over: “I just don’t want to hurt anybody.”
Here’s where the covert arrogance and selfishness of Nice Guy Syndrome is exposed. Only a completely conceited and self-absorbed person could truly believe that they have that much power over the emotions of total strangers. “I don’t want to sleep around because I will hurt a lot of girl’s feelings.” Sorry chief, chances are you’re not that important or significant enough to 95% of the women you meet to do that much damage.
Here’s reality: girls are going to have their hearts broken. It happens to everyone. It will happen to you, me, and everyone else on this planet. And it will happen to girls you date, whether it’s you or some other guy. Believe it or not, women are conscious beings. They make decisions for themselves. They’re self-aware and (usually) not stupid. They know there’s a very real and likely possibility that each guy they choose to hook up with won’t go anywhere and may even end up being a shithead. Yet they willingly take the risk over and over again. Because to them, that risk is worth it.
Women know what they’re getting into, and unless you’re outright lying to them (which I’ll get to in a second), then you are not responsible for their emotions. And to believe that you are the master or determiner of their emotions is nothing but a blind conceit and folly.
The other delusion of Nice Guy Syndrome is that it assumes that as a man you always know how every relationship is going to go from the outset. You don’t. You could meet a girl who you think is the most amazing person you’ve ever met, fall madly in love with them and expect to spend years together, and then realize two weeks later that you can’t fucking stand them (it’s happened). You could also go home drunk with a girl expecting to never see her again and then end up dating and living with her for two years (has also happened). The point is, you never know the outcome of a relationship until you dive in and try it out. So to go off the assumption that you’re going to break hearts before you’ve even walked up and said hello is pure delusion.
And while we’re here, I’ll point out that hypothetically, even if you knew for a certainty that you were going to hurt this girl and screw her up, the ethics of the situation are still murky. This usually plays out in the classic “She’s going to cheat on someone with me, is it OK?” scenario. Even then, there are rational arguments for each side.
With that said, since the reader asked me what the protocol for not misleading a girl and setting expectations is, I’ll go over it briefly. But then I want to get to the core of his question, a core that he probably wasn’t even aware of when he emailed me.
DON’T ever outright lie or mislead a girl about you, your history, your intentions, or just about anything. Lying is unnecessary and unethical in just about every situation.
DO be honest if she asks if you’re seeing anyone else or if you’re looking for a girlfriend or not.
DON’T go into unnecessary details about your sex-life. Just because she asks if you’re seeing anyone else doesn’t mean you have to describe the every girl’s favorite position. A simple “yes” or “no” will suffice. “That’s none of your business” is always a reasonable answer if one girl is prying too much.
DO be respectful of her wishes and boundaries. If she says she doesn’t want to date a guy who is seeing other girls, then respect that.
Most of this stuff is common sense and comes back to not being a pussy or dishonest. If you’re dating a girl who isn’t absolutely batshit crazy, then you’re not going to have many problems. In the dozens and dozens and dozens of casual relationships and booty call arrangements I’ve had over the years, I’d say that less than 10% ever involved drama or a bad fallout.
So the short answer is basically that: be honest, don’t be a bitch. Do it. But I want to touch on the core of this issue that probably doesn’t get talked about as often. That of avoiding emotional engagement in general.
Because the crux of the whole Nice Guy Syndrome is that of a man who is afraid of confronting emotions, both his own and those of others. When the reader above says, “I don’t want to break any hearts, I want to minimize collateral damage,” what he’s really saying is, “I don’t want to deal with any messy emotions,” most likely his own.
Unfortunately, picking up girls is based on managing and responding to emotions. It’s a dance. Whether you like it or not, you have to engage with emotions to be successful at it. Most guys, particularly guys who are naturally good with women, engage with women on an emotional level unconsciously — in their mind they’re just trying to get laid or impress their friends, but inside they’ve got shortcomings and insecurities to fill or a neurotic itch to scratch. The advantage that we have in consciously choosing to be players and improving with women is that we can choose to engage with our emotions with full awareness and accountability. Sure, this makes it harder in many respects, but opening up your internal emotional valve and willingly playing with others on that level is going to end up enriching your life and those around you far beyond the bedroom.
There’s a reason that guys who get good at this stuff report improved relationships across the board, at work, with friends, with their family, etc.