This idea has been brooding within me for a while now, and its implications actually depress me a little bit. It’s mainly in regards to relationships, but I’ll post a follow up article about its implications to dating that I’ve been noticing since being single again.
The Isolation Paradox is the idea that the more you develop yourself — intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically — the more you narrow the selection of suitable long-term partners for yourself. On the flip side, the more you expand the amount of people interested IN YOU as a long-term partner.
I’ve been noticing the last 6-12 months that it’s becoming exceedingly difficult to find a woman who can stimulate me emotionally: when I’ve already been through so many relationships and situations; physically: when I’ve been with so many women, my standards become more and more unreasonable; and intellectually: well, not to be a dick, but I’ve always found it hard to find a woman (or person) who can stimulate me intellectually.
The paradox here is this: the inexperienced guy starts out and very few women have serious interest in him. But the few who do are the same women who he has serious long-term interests in (due to his sole reliance on his lifestyle screening for women). On the other extreme, the highly developed individual (male or female) has the opposite problem: EVERYBODY is interested in them, but they find it impossible to find someone who stimulates them on multiple levels.
In an effort to make themselves as attractive and valuable to as many people as possible, they completely isolate themselves in their lack of suitable long-term partners.
The more time that goes on, the more women I date and the more I work on myself, the more I notice this effect. And I fear that there may be a breaking point where it’s just impossible to find any woman who I find suitable at all in the long-term.
Edit: This post erupted a flurry of comments, many of them very insightful. Instead of constantly responding to all of them in the comments section, I’ll address many of the more poignant ones here.
“Isn’t part of successfully being with someone long term not about finding the perfect, flawless person, but in finding someone who’s more or less what you’re looking for, and then accepting that no one will be totally perfect, and making peace with their flaws?
That attitude is something that comes from within. If you have this sense that no one is good enough for you, then the answer isn’t in some perfect woman out there, it’s in changing your view of things.”
Yes to the first paragraph, no to the second. You’re absolutely right that there’s no “flawless” woman out there for us. The defining aspect of love is that we accept and even cherish a person’s flaws.
What I’m referring to is actually what the first commenter gets at: fulfilling emotional needs. The more developed one comes, the more sophisticated ones emotional needs are, and by definition, the rarer it is to find somebody who meets them.
To give you an example. Most newbies, and this was true for myself at one time, have a large need for validation in their relationships when they’re inexperienced. That’s why almost any semi-attractive girl that comes along makes them feel like a king. They become easily attached, often without investigating the depth of compatibility they have with her. But as time goes on, the more our identity accepts that we are loved by women, the less validation we look for from them — or at least, the validation changes. These days, it’s far more important that I feel understood by a woman than simply cared for by her. I feel like she needs to understand my motivations and dreams and passions and empathize with them. It’s very easy to find a woman who thinks the world of me these days. It’s very hard to find one who understands my world.
You also mentioned the BradP quote. I once criticized him for complaining that he couldn’t find “cool” girls anymore. You’re totally right and got me there. I have two responses to that, though: 1) I made that comment when I was happily in a relationship, and 2) I have no problem ever finding COOL women. I find cool women all the time. Every night. In fact, I feel like the better my game gets, the more I come to appreciate how cool each individual girl is. What I DO find more and more difficult is a woman who fulfills my emotional needs. If that’s what Brad meant, then I was unfair to criticize him. But if he really meant that he can never find a cool girl anymore, then he’s just shallow and I stand by that.
The other thing this post made me think of was that idea that for men, getting into a serious, long-term relationship is more a frame of mind than anything to do with a girl. It’s that saying, “Women are ready to settle down when they feel they’ve found the right guy. For men, the ‘right girl’ is whoever they’re with when they’re finally decide they want to settle down”
Fantastic point. This may very well be true.
“For example, if we take self-development as a measure of success, then let’s take a look at some giants of self-help; Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Tony Robbins, Steve Covey, Brian Tracey…”
One thing I’ve always found interesting is that rock stars, porn stars, movie stars, etc., ALWAYS end up married and monogamous. But at the same time, “self-development” doesn’t necessarily equate emotional fulfillment or having emotional needs met. Half those people you listed have dark streaks and strong criticisms against their character. Even Gandhi.
But whoever said I was probably being a little dramatic with my last line is right. There’s no such thing as a person who is 100% emotionally stable, 100% baggage-free, 100% non-validation-seeking, and 100% happy at all times. Therefore, there’s always somebody for everybody, no matter how developed they become. But that’s the nature of the paradox… the more developed and experienced you become, the rarer and rarer it is to get your needs met while your ability to meet other people’s sexual and emotional needs expands and expands.
Think of someone like Jay-Z or Brad Pitt. On the one hand, half the women in the country would go to bed with them and marry them at the drop of a hat. But on the other hand, Brad Pitt’s selection of suitable women is really limited to super models, movie stars and other extremely high status people. Before you argue this, ask yourself, how many women out there can really even grasp the world he lives in? Very few. Really, only other famous people, people in the stratosphere of social status can even begin to relate to him emotionally. Now, before we all cry Brad a river, that’s an extremely small selection of women… maybe 100-200 worldwide. Maybe that’s why most stars end up with other stars or living somewhat lonely lives?
As for the rest of your comment… I feel like you’re making my point for me. You’re naming nothing but celebrity and public figure after celebrity and public figure to meet a certain criteria. Honestly, how many women walking around in a club in your average US city fit even one of those criteria? It’s very rare.
Look, there are women out there SOMEWHERE for me. I suppose the melancholy tone of the article was the fact that five years ago, I would have been happy to date any decent-looking girl I met who gave me the time of day. Now, I’ll spend a whole night in a venue and not meet one I’m interested in seeing regularly. In a strange way, that’s a loss. Despite everything I’ve gained, somehow I’ve lost something. I wouldn’t trade it back. I’m not complaining. But just pointing it out.
“I think it would help if you could narrow this down a bit. Can you give an example of an intellectual interest of yours that girls should share, but don’t? I’ve found that few girls share my intellectual interests, but I don’t disqualify them for that.”
She doesn’t have to share my intellectual interests. She just needs to keep up with me intellectually. And I mean, she doesn’t even have to be a super-genius or anything. She just has to have something going on upstairs. If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m constantly intellectualizing shit. She needs to be able to handle that and at least converse.
Finding a girl with similar hobbies is a superficial perk. What’s important is that she sees the world similarly to me, can understand and appreciate what I’m interested in, even if she doesn’t share the same interest.
What’s more unique about me though — and this isn’t true about all guys — is that I link intelligence with sexual attraction. This especially has become true the more time has gone on. Stupid girls sexually turn me off. Intelligent girls sexually turn me on. Just how I’m wired.
At the end of the day (and this is directed at both Lou and Eros), all other things equal, every guy will happily trade up in the looks department. It’s more of a question of how much trouble are you willing to go through to find quality women who are also extremely beautiful, and/or what other qualities are you willing to sacrifice?
Like I said earlier, as I get older, the more I value things such as intelligence, personality, energy, humor, etc. and the less I value looks (despite my standards going up). And I imagine one day it’ll become a non-issue. But as for now… I’m entering my prime as a male. I’d like to try and find the best of all worlds if possible.
“A guy I very much respect once said, the goal of pu/self development should be that you are able to give yourself everything you need and all you need your partner for is sex, because it’s more fun with two people involved.”
In theory, yes, we would all like to be emotionally self-sufficient. But in practice, I think this is a very anti-social and terrible way to look at things. Sex is actually pretty unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I’d rather have a woman I’m madly in love with and be crippled (hello Sean Stephenson) than have all the sex I want and never feel anything with the women I fuck.
Edit 2: This post raised quite a bit of debate. It seemed to touch a nerve in a lot of people. Both in the comments here, through email, and even on other blogs. Many were very insightful. Others got on my case — which is cool, I appreciate criticism as long as it’s respectful. They ranged from calling me weird, to “calling out” my inner game, to saying I should quit all of this stuff or maybe that I’m depressed.
On the contrary, I’m happier right now than I’ve been in a long time. I feel great. And any melancholy tone in my last couple posts were theoretical in nature. As far as the other criticisms, I’m not too surprised as I get similar criticisms often when I talk about long-term relationships. I said it twice, but it didn’t seem to make a difference, but the last two posts were SPECIFICALLY in regards to long-term relationships, not picking up women.
Yes, worrying about “meeting emotional needs” or “feeling isolated” in the context of picking up women are definitely not good things. But in the context of long-term relationships, they’re valid and important. The rules change in relationships. But for some reason, anytime I get too deep into girlfriends, a lot of men turn a deaf ear to what I’m saying.
I suppose that’s the last clarification that I want to make.