There are always discussions going on over at The Good Men Project about ethical pick-up advice and whether socially-challenged men are “helped” by PUA (Pick-Up Advice) forums that portray woman as targets to be exploited (i.e the fastest way to get laid.) The shy (or otherwise challenged) “nice guys” claim that the (often morally iffy) advice helps them succeed in “real” relationships, and that if there were “better” places to get good advice they’d go there instead.
So, a few female “experts” are handing out “better” advice, and the guys are shooting it down. It’s an enlightening (and entertaining!) read as long as you don’t get caught in the cross-fire.
Although I believe the women are trying to help, I think that they are (for the most part) missing the point. Just for a bit, let me use food and cooking as a metaphor for sex and dating, and then ask you:
What do you consider good food?
Some people like to spend hours preparing an elaborate meal (or even one complicated dessert), while others choose to cook volumes of a single item and store it in the freezer for later.
Some people cook because they what to know every ingredient the goes in, but others care most about quantity: they want the largest order of french fries for their buck (and are willing to drive for miles to get it).
Others gladly pay jaw-dropping amounts of money for hand-crafted tidbits, and there are some who don’t care what they eat as long as there’s enough. Many people don’t like to cook at all, and I know someone who likes to try new recipes (which occasionally don’t turn out very well) and someone else who uses one favorite recipe over and over.
To say that cooking lasagna in quantities sufficient for an army is superior to spending hours crafting a four-bite tidbit is missing the point: everyone is different and your personal preference is not more (or less) valid than mine. As long as the people cooking and eating the food are happy, to each his own.
But here’s the rub:
Your answer to my question will change as you age (say teenage boys vs middle-age men), how much time and money you have (people with infants probably don’t fix a lot of time-consuming meals), but especially, how long it’s been since you last ate. Asking a starving man (or woman) to understand the finer points of serving soufflé versus Twinkies for dessert is not meaningful.
I realize that some people don’t want (or like) sex, and they may find my metaphor faulty: People need food; sex is just something they want. Let me list a few other things people want: love, children, friends, career success, pets, education, to own a home. Sure, you can live without any of those (and there are people who choose to do so and are quite happy) but you have to at least acknowledge that, although you can live without them, they provide meaning and happiness to a lot of people.
What does all that have to do with pick-up advice?
You can’t have a meaningful conversation on the subtleties of dating strategies with someone who is starving; it’s like trying to convince a ravenous man that instead of eating the food, he should learn to better prepare it. Starving people are desperate people (understandably so) and one should be careful about casting moral aspersions on someone who can’t remember his last meal.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a fix-all for those who are starving for sex. It’s a tough problem all around. All I can offer is sympathy. But for those who are merely hungry, let’s go ahead and have that conversation on the benefits of learning to prepare a gourmet meal.