The Civilized Man

civilized manWe've had some rather heated debates on the discussion boards quite recently - and what better job can a forum do than to stimulate thought-provoking debate? - with one debate in particular centering on a report from one of the readers on a sexual encounter he had with a married woman.

In the report, the reader - The Byronic Man, a younger guy who's fairly new to seduction and still more or less getting his footing down - details an encounter that took place over several days with a late-30s married woman who wanted to sleep with him, but had some reservations. He persisted, slept with her, and she seemed to have gotten what she wanted... though also seemed to have dealt with a bit of inner turmoil.

And here's where things get interesting. Another of our readers, Landlord, in his early 40s and experienced, weighed in to let Byronic know he was out of line, and had crossed a line, sleeping with a married woman - whether she wanted it or not, that was beside the point. This is simply not something you do.

Various commenters weighed in on one side of the debate or the other; some in favor of, a larger number against.

This post, however, is not about the morality or ethics of sleeping with married women. I'll leave that for the boards to decide.

What's more interesting to me than the moral debates themselves (which you can debate forever... if two parties' value systems fail to match up, or their empathy levels are dramatically different, they will argue past each other for 100 years and never sway the other) is a set of questions posed by Landlord, asking for more opinions on "what game means" and "what does it mean to be a man"?

I'd like to veer a little deeper off that topic and talk about what makes the difference between a civilized man... and an uncivilized one.

civilized man

In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently, not culture of the earth, no navigation, nor the use of commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

That's Thomas Hobbes on the state of man outside the confines of civilization. Without rule of law and culture, life must necessarily be bellum omnium contra omnes, Latin for "the war of all against all", as described in Hobbes's 1642 work De Cive and his 1651 work Leviathan.

Civilization is the moderating force. It is what curbs what our natural instincts drive us to be, something that is again described by historian Will Durant in his book The Lessons of History as "acquisitive, greedy, and pugnacious because our blood remembers milleniums through which our forebears had to chase and fight and kill in order to survive, and had to eat to their gastric capacity for fear they should not soon capture another feast."

I'm going to lean on Durant a good deal for this piece, because he's spent a great deal more time exploring and thinking about history than I have, much as it interests me - he simply has many more years on me at the time of his writing of History than I do at the time of the writing of this - and in any event his thoughts in History represent the distillation of a brilliant career consuming other brilliant historians (like Spengler) and thinking about the nature and environment of men on the scale of millennia, a perspective individuals enamored with the passing minutiae of celebrity gossip or minor natural disasters or small-scale wars or the latest sports match would be wise to take.

The question I think we must all answer for ourselves right now is, what stage of civilization is our civilization in right now, and what are our duties to ourselves and our fellow men within it?

The Stages of Civilization

Durant largely discusses the life cycle of civilizations thus, from birth to decay:

  1. New civilizations begin with pasture and agriculture,
  2. Then expand into industry and commerce,
  3. And luxuriate with finance;
  4. Thought passes first from the supernatural (gods),
  5. To the legendary (heroes),
  6. To those naturalistic (scientific) explanations;
  7. Experiments in morals loosen tradition and frighten its beneficiaries,
  8. And the excitement of innovation is forgotten in the unconcern of time.

He notes that every situation is different, and there is no guarantee the future will repeat the past. The overall trajectory of history, though, is one of a pendulum, with each civilization swinging back and forth between order (in the beginning) and freedom (in the end).

During periods of order, the emphasis is on following tradition, respecting the rules, and consolidating society to be more insular and exclusive. During periods of freedom, the emphasis is on tearing down tradition, violating the rules, and expanding society to be more open and inclusive. Both periods are needed; freedom, to challenge outmoded and stale rules and traditions; and order, to establish control and rein in man's baser instincts.

In The Republic, published around 380 B.C., Plato (through Socrates) details the collapse of morals in ancient Athens during a period of extreme freedom and rebellion against tradition:

[The democrats] contemptuously rejected temperance as unmanliness. . . . Insolence they term breeding, and anarchy liberty, and waste magnificence, and impudence courage. . . . The father gets accustomed to descend to the level of his sons and to fear them, and the son to be on a level with his father, having no shame or fear of his parents. . . . The teacher fears and flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters and tutors. . . . The old do not like to be thought morose and authoritative, and therefore they imitate the young.... Nor must I forget to tell of the liberty and equality of the two sexes in relation to each other. . . . The citizens chafe impatiently at the least touch of authority, and at length . . . they cease to care even for the laws, written or unwritten. . . . And this is the fair and glorious beginning out of which springs dictatorship [tyrannis] . . . . The excessive increase of anything causes a reaction in the opposite
direction; . . . dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme form of liberty.

civilized man

Approximately 40 years after Plato noted this situation in democratic Athens, Philip of Macedon marched down into Greece with his phalanxes and became the new emperor of Greece, restoring some measure of order, and swinging the pendulum back in the other direction (though not for long; the Greeks remained relatively morally lax, and Durant credits their later immigration to Rome as helping to undermine the Roman democracy, clearing the path for the Caesars).

Durant notes that, at least in 1965 when he wrote the book, one major difference between ancient Greek and present-day Western sexual mores was the lack of widespread and open homosexuality in the West; and while we're not quite where the Greeks were today, I'd say we've moved a fair bit closer to that in 50 years than Durant might have expected back in the 1960s.

It seems clear that we are deep into the "freedom" side of the pendulum in the civilization lifecycle; order is cast off, resented, and thought of as unnecessary, while freedom, equality, and lack of restriction on individual rights and privileges of all kinds is hoisted up as the ideal to strive for.

Indeed, I doubt a website like this one could exist in a civilization in the midst of much order; there would be too many powerful people who would be too quick to censor it, and too few common men who would feel anything but unpatriotic and immoral to read about such things as pursuing sex and viewing conversation and seduction as a skill to be learned rather than a necessary evil to spend as little time on as possible before securing a wife to build a family with.

A Civilized Man in an Uncivilized Time?

It's neither fair nor correct to say that periods of freedom are "less civilized" than periods of order; when order is carried too far to the extreme, it, too, becomes completely uncivilized; an overly rigid, unbendable structure stifles growth and innovation and change perhaps as much as no structure at all.

Rather, I think we want to describe the "most civilized" times as being those with the greatest balance between freedom and order; the more extreme you get into either order or freedom, the less civilized and more Hobbesian individual behavior towards one's fellow man becomes:

  • In times of extreme order, those in high positions wield almost god-like power over those in low positions, a situation that leads to frequent abuses of power and (as can be seen in any study of individuals in rigid power hierarchies, like the famed Standford prison experiment) inhumane treatment of others. Everything becomes about maintaining one's place in the hierarchy, and gradually elevating it above others

  • In times of extreme freedom, restrictions on behavior greatly loosen, encouraging individuals to act with less concern for their effects on others, as social institutions - legal and moral - become too weak to enforce more "civilized" behavior, and society descends into another version of Hobbesian "war against all"

You would never see, for instance, the vitriol against men that you see in the feminist sphere, nor that against women that you see in the men's rights sphere, which you see today during a period of order. Conversely, you would never see the vitriol against lower classes and minorities that you'd see during a period of order in a free period like today.

Here's the part that's relevant for you as a man: during a period of order, unless you are very powerful, it is next to impossible to end up in a position to sleep with very many women, and to follow anything other than the conventional path of one wife, early into life.

You will never elevate your position, most likely. There are no Internet billionaires in a period of order. Mark Zuckerberg is finishing up his apprenticeship in an engineering workshop today in a period of order, destined to be a low-ranking member of the merchant class forever, rather than building his own global IT empire in his 20s.

But during a period of freedom, the restrictions recede, and we revert to a more natural state of being: one in which we collectively give free rein to our acquisitiveness, our pugnacity, and our lust.

The manners of your grandfather are quaint, dusty, and forgotten. Likewise, the women you meet have generations since set aside what it meant to be a lady, and have much lower empathy levels and consideration for you, as a partner or a paramour, than they once did.

Entitlement mentalities run rampant - people around you want and expect more from you than they did half a century ago, for much less in return.

It's far from a total switch. There are still plenty of people that cling to some of the old mores and manners; and many that try their best to be "good people" - "good men" and "good women."

But even among these traditionalists, the best of them are no better than the midlevel of yesteryear; the times now are different, and, like the Greece of Plato, the citizens chafe impatiently at the least touch of authority, the child has no shame or fear of his parents, and the liberty and equality of the sexes in relation to each other is unprecedented for our civilization.

There are still plenty of "good people", but the measure of what makes a man a "good man" has laxed as our civilization's moral code has laxed.

As after the rise to power of Augustus in ancient Rome, we see "women dizzy with freedom, multiplying divorces, abortions, and adulteries," and, widespread throughout our society, "a shallow sophistication prid[ing] itself upon its pessimism and cynicism."

In a time when "good men" are shunned as weak men, when assholes command harems of lustful women, and when the most sexual men clean up while the majority of respectful men sit astride the bleachers and watch with confusion and disillusionment, should you be a civilized man in an uncivilized time?

civilized man

I am wary of those who speak too emphatically of ethics and morals. The handful of individuals in my life who have opined most frequently on and judged most harshly the morality of others have universally turned out to be the most unscrupulous, amoral, and depraved individuals I have known, once their veil of morality and ethics was cast aside and their true colors stretched out for the drinking in. And I have noted lesser trends in individuals less fervent than (though similarly pushy to) these.

Yet, embracing your place as a civilized, respectable man with a healthy dose of appreciation for his fellow man - and a love and nurturance of women - seems to me to be one of the highest ideals to reach for... and I know it's not just me.

If you examine the most revered individuals in history, they are nearly all "good" men - men who thought highly of their fellow man, who went out of the way to stem their natural urges if said urges would result in the unnecessary suffering of another, and who saw themselves as caretakers of their respective civilizations.

The thing worth noting, however, is that almost none of these men began this way - and this one point is a central one to what I see as the core debate between Landlord and Byronic.

The Hero's Journey

It's easy to read that thread on the boards and view Landlord as the hero, and Byronic as the villain. There is Byronic, preying on the wife of a married man, and not even a wife on the way out - she's one who wanted sex, yes, but she was far from decisive about it. Landlord steps in to point out the lack of concern for the sanctity of this marriage Byronic shows - he has little consideration for what he is potentially destroying, nor the potential conflict he is introducing into these other people's lives.

And Landlord has a good point here.

But again, this post isn't about the morality of sleeping with married women or not. This post is about the civilized man... and the journey one must make to get there.

In one of his posts in the thread, Landlord notes that he's "been on both sides of the fence and everybody suffers greatly" - in other words, he's been there, done that, and now realizes (after having seen the consequences of his actions) that a man's better off not doing this.

Byronic is, alternately, just starting out. He hasn't been there and done that. This is new ground being broken for him.

And this is the inherent conflict you see time and again between the young and the old; Durant discusses this in the audio book version of The Lessons of History, noting that the young struggle to throw off the old, to rebel, to live, and to experience, while the middle-aged struggle to conserve tradition, to stem the passions of the young, to steer and direct, and the old come to accept that the world is the way it is, with the young straining against the control of their elders, and the elders straining to temper their successors.

When I scan back through history, looking for great and notable men, I find a distinct trend: almost none of them are pure. From Gilgamesh to St. Paul to Augustine to Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates, most of the men who go down in history start off to small extent or large extent as "bad guys", and only with time and experience and the cooling of passions do they come to realize the error of their earlier ways, rein themselves in, and focus on doing good... and lecturing the young to do as they do now, not as they did before.

Why is it that saints like of Francis of Assisi, who was destined for sainthood from childhood, when he ran after a beggar to give him everything his father had given him to sell, are not nearly as revered in the Christian pantheon as St. Augustine, who ran the streets of Carthage with the pickup artists of that day and bore a child out of wedlock before converting to Christianity and becoming one of its greatest saints?

civilized man

As human beings, we have a natural distrust of those who have yet to drink from the cup of experience. We pat them on the head and pay them passing respect; we say, "My, what a good person he is," about the nice guy who's never harmed a fly, never broken a rule, and doesn't have a rebellious bone in his body; but we view him as a child, not a man.

In human society, the view of a REAL man is, for all intents and purposes, inextricably tied to that of experience... the real man is the one who is able to say, "I have done things for which I am ashamed, and things that I probably should not have done... but, I have learned from my mistakes, and I am a better man because of it."

Thus, paradoxically, we often end up with a situation in which the real men - those who have lived fully, experienced fully, and done wild, rebellious, chaotic, and occasionally even bad or harmful things - with the quelling of the passions that time and experience brings, caution young men to avoid those things altogether for which they themselves now feel ashamed - but without which they would almost certainly be considered less "men" than they currently are today, when all niceties are peeled aside.

The Young Man's Dilemma

Do you then live a debauched youth, filled with rule-breaking, wild actions, and devilish deeds, only to mellow out later in life... or, do you heed the wisdom of your elders, and lead a more temperate life - one of goodness, decency, and respect?

This is a bigger dilemma than you might think, especially if you've had good counsel from intelligent people on how to live better and avoid the mistakes they themselves made as youths. It's difficult to plead lack of a father figure or growing up in a bad environment for your youthful indiscretions if you had other influences around you guiding you toward the light.

Yet, when you forego too many of these experiences, you end up the worse for it. The man who has slept with married women has far more moral ground to stand on when he says, "Don't sleep with married women; it's no good," than the man who has not slept with married women; the man who has not slept with married women has never done it, he's never tried it, and his advice comes merely from theory, and from what others have told him, or perhaps simply from fear of being outgunned by the more experienced man.

But if a man listens to the experienced man, and foregoes the experience because he knows the experienced man is right, he then deprives himself of the experience, and is poorly suited to influence others later on in life, or to command the full respect of others as a man who has experienced life fully - the good parts and the bad.

The moral man here interjects and says, "But of course someone should not do [X] just for the experience! [X] is bad, therefore it must not be done!"

Then, the question becomes, how does the moral man know this? Is it because:

  • He has done it himself? Then his words have some weight - yet, he is in fact guiding men to be not like him, rather than like him - telling them to do as he says, not as he's done - which means if he is a respectable man, young men ought not to listen to his words and rather copy his deeds, if they aspire to the same kind of respect he commands; and if he is not a respectable man, they probably do not want to be like him or care to hear his thoughts regardless

  • Has he not done it himself? Then he is repeating hearsay given to him by other individuals, or speaking from fear and ignorance

Things get murkier as you veer into progressively darker moral terrain. Does this mean everyone ought to kill someone, purely for the sake of having done it? If not, do you say this as someone who has taken a life yourself, and now regret it, or as someone who has not done so, and knows that to do so is bad only through what others have told him, or through his fear of living in an anarchistic society in which he himself or his loved ones may be slain at random?

I think it's obvious to point out that you should not kill, at least not in non-life-or-death self-defense situations. But even the boundaries on that can be stretched - if every human being on Earth is wiped out, except you, another man, and a woman, and it looks as though this other man will monopolize the woman for himself, leaving you to live and die alone, is it still wrong to murder him?

Thus, we find that even the most unspeakable of evils in some moral climates becomes open for debate in other moral climates. I'd argue that sleeping with another man's wife is one such act open to debate in a moral climate like the one we currently find ourselves in. Though I would normally not support it myself, except in some extenuating situations, I think it seems clear it is something that at least must be talked about, rather than dismissed out of hand, censored, and silenced at mere mention of.

What Should You Do?

This is a difficult question for every young man out there, particularly in times as morally lax and sexually tempestuous as ours right now. Unlike in times of greater order, you are not faced with any one cohesive moral world view that everyone around you subscribes to; rather, you are buffeted about by a great diversity of forces, all of which command you to behave in strikingly different ways, and each of which will judge you as weak or depraved if you follow a path different from the one it demands that you follow.

I wish I could tell you "do this and do that, and you'll be doing the right thing," but I can't, especially with sticky situations like married women, where maybe the husband is hurt if you sleep with his wife, and maybe you destroy the marriage; or, maybe if you decline sleeping with her, you're condemning the wife to suffer in misery and isolation inside a marriage she's deeply unhappy with, but has difficulty leaving because the husband keeps her inside of it with guilt trips or other forms of emotional leverage and manipulation. When it comes to situations like these, with incomplete knowledge of the feelings and mental life of the other parties involved, simply saying, "I will not get involved, and spare myself liability through inaction," is not good enough; it is failing to assess what your real responsibility is to each person. There is no easy answer, and there are no shortcuts.

In morally contentious situations, everyone has his own strong opinions, and everyone, by and large, is mostly blind to the opinions of others and mostly devoid of empathy for them; but I'd urge both the man who favors adultery and the one who rails against it to step off the soapbox for a moment and see the world through the other man's eyes, without imagining inhuman characteristics in him as a shortcut to other him. I doubt this is likely to happen, and because of this it is a gulf that will never close; but if both men could do this, it would allow true dialogue to open up, rather than closed-minded lecturing by one party and defensiveness by the other, as you see in all arguments of moral superiority.

Imagine, instead, that he is you - only, he believes differently on this single matter. Why does he do so? What is it he is valuing differently than you? Assume nothing... because chances are, what you assume is the core driver of his motivation, the core reason he's made his decision, is very different from what it actually is, and without understanding this, you will never convince him of anything.

The young are, so often, wild, unruly, and uncivilized; they are driven to learn, explore, indulge, and experience, to the fullest extent possible. In times of greater order, they are reined in by parents and societies, and in times of greater freedom they run amok until they reach an age where they reflect on their indulgences and settle into a more temperate place.

In parting, I will leave you with a quote from Durant, on the nature of youth:

A youth boiling with hormones will wonder why he should not give full freedom to his sexual desires; and if he is left unchecked by custom, morals, or laws, he may ruin his life before he matures sufficiently to understand that sex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group.

We live in a world lacking in most of the constraints societies traditionally rely on to bank and cool that river of fire. But even in a world filled with constraints, in order to become the truly respected civilized man, society demands that a young man must break some of its rules, and do some of the things it tells him he must not do. Things it will be angry at him for doing when he does them, but that will enable it to look upon him with great respect later on for having experienced, thought better of, and later renounced.

Ours is a world that celebrates its prodigal sons more than the good sons who have never left home, and it always has been, and probably always will be.

To become the truly respected man, the civilized man others hoist up as hero and scholar and defender of civilization, you must come up to the brink, and perhaps go over it, and from there you must return. Each man's journey is his own; though I hope you will not do anything that will damage the lives and psyches of others, at some point you may regardless; the only guidance I will leave you with is this: "do no harm, if you can avoid doing so at all."

Chase Amante

Chase AmanteAbout the Author: Chase Amante

Chase woke up one day in 2004 tired of being alone. So, he set to work and read every book he could find, studied every teacher he could meet, and talked to every girl he could talk to to figure out dating. After four years, scads of lays, and many great girlfriends (plus plenty of failures along the way), he launched this website. He will teach you everything he knows about girls in one single program in his Mastery Package.


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Sajid's picture

Dear Chase,

I thank you and your team for everything that you guys teach. I am a doctor & I have been reading your blog (and following it) for the last 1.5 years and it has really helped me become a better man.

I stay in India. Here women are a lot more conservative than other parts of the world. Cold approaching women here is not considered appropriate. Despite of all the odds I have successfully done many cold approaches using the 'Indirect-direct' method that you have taught in one of the articles and got decent results in terms of dating, getting laid etc.

For the past one month I have started using direct approaches as sometimes this approach is the most appropriate (moving sets etc.). My problem is that I have not been able to convert any of my direct approaches in to a date thus far. I occasionally get numbers but the girl doesn't respond. I suspect that this has something to do with the Anti-bitch or Anti-slut shield that comes into action once they leave after giving me their number,e-mail etc. Even though they really enjoy talking to me when I direct approach them; since our society is conservative they probably feel bad about them-selves once they leave after giving me their number. I would like to point that I have not faced this issue when doing indirect-direct approaches.

I would be glad if you can suggest a solution regarding this. Should I change my approach or is there anything that can be done to bring the girl's antibitch shield down while being very direct with her ?

Chase Amante's picture


Very good to hear the progress you've been making as a man.

Direct is a style that forces a girl make an instant decision… it's coming on very strong. Thus, it works best if you've made yourself quite attractive, and also if she herself is quite attractive… if either she doesn't view you as all that appealing, or she doesn't see herself as anything special, it can backfire. So those would be two of the first places I'd look.

If it's not a problem of either of your attractivenesses, the next place to look is probably how sincere the compliment you use on opening feels, and how comfortable your follow up is. The more genuine the interest you show in a girl, the more often it goes over well; and, the smoother the move into normal conversation, the more natural it feels.

Last place I'd examine is your close: how's your closing going? With direct, you typically need to close sooner than you would with indirect, or even indirect-direct; with either of those, there's a sense of "We're being kind of casual, and I'm feeling you out a bit." With direct, it's "I know what I want - you," and if you take too long, it feels incongruent. So, either start moving and escalating with her quickly and take her on a date then and there, or get her to agree to a date and trade contact information with her within a few minutes… taking too long after a direct opener feels funny ("Oh, he seemed so certain… why's he suddenly poking along?").


Sajid's picture

I will try to fix my close as you have suggested. Perhaps I need to escalate quickly when I use direct. Thank you very much Chase for your reply and valuable advise.

Devon's picture

The article here is written very well. Wonderful thought-provoking questions and topics. Thanks Chase. Cheers.

Marty's picture


This is a very captivating and profound article which will probably bear several readings for anyone desiring to extract the maximum conceptual value from it.

Your argument concerning the necessity for "adverse" experiences in youth, to bake in experiences that set a "favorable" course for the future, caused me a good deal of introspection. I am in no doubt that the overriding reason I am straining at my perceived societal bonds today, and seeking guidance on doing that from Girls Chase, is precisely as you described—I wasted my teenage years at a single-sex high school studying Latin grammar and the like, when other things being equal I should have been pouring my youthful energies into attempting to fuck cheerleaders.

Conversely, my younger brother had more than his fill of tobacco, liquor and controlled substances, got suspended from school on numerous occasions, and generally caused our parents a good deal of concern during those formative years—yet today he is the model of a respectable family man.

I wonder if I might make an observation regarding the forum thread that inspired this article, specifically with regard to attempts to influence other men's behavior, and the effect of that on the character at the center of the story: the lady, Byronic Man's lover.

Multiple commenters mentioned that they would not consider doing what Byronic Man did, because of their own ethical concerns... and that seems a reasonable policy for them to adopt. I have no argument with that.

Others took it a step further and addressed their commentary to other men, recommending against imitating Byronic Man's course of action, in order to avoid the inevitable drama that they believed would accompany it. While I might dispute the premise of these comments, the posters are entitled to their opinion, and indeed expressed it in a respectful and intelligent way.

What I thought seemed like a step too far were the (relatively few) comments vilifying anyone considering following Byronic Man's path and using demeaning language to describe such men. I want to explain why I find this problematic. It does not have to do with offending the men's sensibilities as such.

It is the intended effect on the woman, Byronic Man's lover, that concerns me. To read some of these posts, it would appear that they are recommending what amounts to sexual ostracism of the woman.

By attempting to deprive her of any male sexual attention, it is as if they wish her to remain in perpetual celibacy, regardless of her own wishes, as if she were the sexual equivalent of a leper. All because of a written document—or, depending on your point of view, because of a mistake she made in her youth.

That, to me, is the threat of dystopian tyranny imposed not by some remote authority, but by public opinion. It has caused me to think deeply about what we mean as a society when we publicly recognize, or give the state-sponsored stamp of approval to, sexual unions between individuals that in contemporary morality would otherwise be seen as essentially private matters.


jack's picture

It has caused me to think deeply about what we mean as a society when we publicly recognize, or give the state-sponsored stamp of approval to, sexual unions between individuals that in contemporary morality would otherwise be seen as essentially private matters.

Marriage can never be "privatized", if that's your argument. That is anarchist drivel. Marriage has two main reasons for its existence as an institution: 1) property concerns 2) custody of children. These NEED state action as ALL contracts and property concerns need a state to uphold contracts and enforce contract provisions. Without the state you end up with chaos. The anarchist arguments against this are many and they are wrong.

So there is NO alternative to state involvement in the institution of marriage. Which is why it is accurate to say that a marriage is a three way contract: between you the woman and the state.

As for condemnation of the woman, I think she is morally wrong as is the PUA who banged her. A moral woman would have divorced her husband and then had all the sex with young men she wanted. But that is a hard road because it would involve her losing many things. But just because something is hard doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Sadly, the woman in question is a morally weak person. She should be judged harshly for that. But I'm not talking about Scarlet Letters.

I wish we lived in a better moral climate. But we live in a depraved cesspool of a society, morally speaking. But one with smart phones. Basically Rome is falling all over again. On my darker days, I almost root for it to collapse. Then lets see how "sexually liberated" women will be. They'll become commodities once again. And no one in the wastelands of the future will have sympathy for the women at the time of the fall.

Chase Amante's picture


Interesting comment, and interesting reply by Jack here. On the one hand, I'd agree with you, that what some are saying amounts to "sexual ostracism" of the woman; on the other hand, Jack's point, that the woman is "morally weak" is also well-taken. I'm not one to say what people should or should not do, but I'd be the first to say I hold immensely more respect for both men and women who remain true to whatever pledges they've made to others until they announce clearly and unequivocally that they can no longer do so… sneaking around behind someone else's back and living in the shadows is the height of disreputability.

On the other hand, some compassion is needed for the woman in the relationship, and the nature of the society we live in. In the modern West, women are not truly trained to be independent, and to make rational decisions that are honorable and empathetic toward others; indeed, I don't know anywhere that women have been trained to have honor, though some women you'll find have inherited such values from their own families, but this is a minority.

Ultimately, the more you become educated about all parties involved in a morally tangled situation like the one Byronic found himself in with that woman, the more any clear right or wrong answers fade away and the more you're left with a big question mark. Fully empathizing with Byronic, fully empathizing with the married woman, and fully empathizing with that woman's husband means you end up with a lot of people with very different wants, needs, fears, pains, virtues, and vices, and it becomes quite hard to root for one against another.

Further - and this is something I've learned in paying attention to many individuals various moralistic positions - people tend to adopt the position that serves them best; if you expect you'll be sleeping with married women, you'll argue this is fine; if you fear other men may be sleeping with your married woman, you'll argue this is criminal. The only way one truly gets away from black and white thinking of this sort is the removal of desire - the desire to acquire new women, and the desire to retain present or expected future women. Of course, this is very hard to do.


The Byronic Man's picture

Chase, that was a fantastic article (as usual)! Lots of points I agree...and disagree with. My thoughts:

As long as there are illogical beliefs/rules, there will be conflicts with reality, hence social disorder. I wish I can speak greatly on what the role of government should be, but I don't know enough about politics, but I do know enough that government should not dictate what is moral, and it should not be about control, but rather about protection of rights (oh how the U.S. government has deviated from John Locke's conception of government). The discussion about how much order is ideal is really a discussion about how much should the government control, which presupposes the following 2 beliefs derived from faulty interpretations of historical observation (which were derived from faulty philosophy):

* The "people" cannot rationally think for themselves, so they need someone else (i.e. government) to make decisions for them.
* Humans are inherently savages/brutes.

What's really at work here is tribalism vs. individualism. Tribalism serves the interest of society. It's illogical, but it has served its purpose. If we are to enjoy an evolution in the benefits of society, we need to fully embrace individualism. As I've said earlier in the thread, individualism does not threaten society. The rational understand that cooperation, rather than manipulation, is most beneficial to the individual. Tribalism stifles individual potential, and is thus immoral. Past men and women were described as "good" based on their degree of tribalism. How faulty and harmful is this thinking! Rather, we should look up to individuals who maximized their potential, and we'll see it was done through cooperation and innovation.

Again, morality is about living the best possible life. It's not about obeying rules prescribed by a supernatural being or society (although much of society's current ethos derives from religion; the new atheist movement is pushing society as the moral actor). So the moral man makes decisions based on whether they help him achieve his goals. Of course, this means one's goals ought to be logical (e.g. the goal of watching TV all day vs. going out to practice social skills). Having logical goals requires understanding your values, which requires understanding your needs, which requires understanding your nature (metaphysically). In other words, one must know onself; most people truly do not! Morality is not a list of rules. It is a moral map, which is an organized body of knowledge to guide human choices/action. And logic is our moral compass. Not what the Bible, Koran, Buddha, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, neuroscience, psychology, history, or society says. And experience is another data point, not a requisite, for logic.

I slept with another man's wife because it *ultimately* would benefit me in the short- and long-term. It was cooperative, because it's what she really wanted, and it's obvious her relationship with her husband is unhealthy (i.e. she should not have a marital relationship with this man). Her emotional health benefits me because I value her in my life, as a friend and as a lover. Ever since she met me, she has grown incredibly, which benefits me psychologically. Are there risks involved? Of course--risk is inherent to all choices. But the pros outweighed the cons here.

It's not about restraint. In fact, if something helps you achieve your goal (and it's a logical goal), you should go for it passionately. What's really at stake here is when a goal or action plan conflicts with another. Conflicts stem from a logical error, so the moral person must introspect to root out this error, and adjust his goals and/or action plans.

340Breeze's picture

"individualism does not threaten society." Why not?

"The rational understand that cooperation, rather than manipulation, is most beneficial to the individual. Tribalism stifles individual potential, and is thus immoral." Who determines what a 'rational' mind should conclude? What's rational to me, may be irrational to you! How do we reconcile?

"So the moral man makes decisions based on whether they help him achieve his goals. Of course, this means one's goals ought to be logical."

Leaving the sole responsibility to the individual on what "ought to be logical" is dangerous. The problem with the purely individualistic model is: There is no prerequisite for an individual to ever develop empathy of any kind and/or consideration for the pain that his actions will cause on others. The decision making criteria on what is "logical" and what is "not logical" will vary from person to person.

When individuals are free to maximize their profit, without accountability to a law or a religion, they are free to secure whatever they arbitrarily determine as "profit" without having to care how their actions (in pursuit of needs/wants) may be potentially dangerous to other people. When individuals are free to do whatever they want, there is nothing to stop them from committing extreme atrocities. We already saw what happened in history when Europeans descended upon the New World in the West and they committed genocide against the natives and implemented Slavery. Slavery in Brazil, for example, was extremely brutal. But these actions were justified by the Europeans as necessary to "benefit [them] in the short- and long-term." Other examples of this pursuit of profit and gain can be seen in other examples such as Hitler. Hiroshima. Etc Yes the strongest will survive, but if only 0.2% of the population are the "strong", then who governs how they dominate over everyone else? Especially since they know that in order to keep their status quo necessarily means never falling from power meaning be as brutal as possible?

Obviously government is one solution to this quandary and provides people with some guarantee that their basic human rights will be upheld, no matter their origin, status, strength, creed, or race. And as an atrocity of history, the original US Constitution needed to be amended to recognize that blacks in the USA were human and thus subjected to having basic rights.

In the purely individualistic model what's to stop those in power from "logically" concluding that all others are than human and accordingly not subjected to the same rights? Because history shows us what can happen with this mental model.

"I slept with another man's wife because it *ultimately* would benefit me in the short- and long-term. It was cooperative, because it's what she really wanted, and it's obvious her relationship with her husband is unhealthy (i.e. she should not have a marital relationship with this man). Her emotional health benefits me because I value her in my life, as a friend and as a lover. Ever since she met me, she has grown incredibly, which benefits me psychologically. Are there risks involved? Of course--risk is inherent to all choices. But the pros outweighed the cons here."

This is all fine and good for you to recognize that there are risks in your actions. But assuming her husband behaves in an individualistic way and uses your own "logic" as his own and uses your decision making criteria: (1) what would benefit him in the short/long term, (2) whether or not the decision is cooperative; then he could reach the following "logical" conclusion:

Kill The Byronic Man (TBM) and his family because (1) it benefits the husband in the short-term in that TBM won't mess with the wife again, and long term it benefits the husband because after the husband gets rid of the philandering wife (who's the subject of this whole discussion) and remarries someone else, neither TBM nor his family would be around to mess with the future wife or ANYONE's wife again. (2) The decision is cooperative because by TBM and TBM's family being dead, they won't be able to potentially use their seductive skills to ruin anyone's relationship ever again.

So the husband could argue that killing TBM and his family is "logical," a benefit to society on a whole by taking away someone who's been proven to be potential danger, a threat. While many may consider this outcome EXTREME, it technically could be a "logical" conclusion based on TBM's own decision making criteria. This is the problem with using 'logic'as the basis in justifying your actions. What's logical to the husband may not be logical to TBM, his family, or the rest of society. But based on TBM's assertions here, the husband would be justified in executing his "logical" retaliatory actions.

And as I stated above, taking things to the extreme and literally placing the individual's right above others need not result in empathy. (This already happens in parts of the world today, but I fear there'd be alot more chaos if we didn't have laws that impose punishment for violating order). There has to be a balance of what the individual can and cannot do...because absolute freedom will result in chaos.

So be careful what you ask for...and be careful of what you do. Because when you move against somebody (by sleeping with his wife) and have the nerve to try and justify it with your "logic" of pursuing what's beneficial to you, realize, that if people use your own logic against you(and we haven't even discussed the wide disparity of what other people could conceive as being "logical"), then the result may end in chaos or worse.



Chase Amante's picture


Wonderful analysis here. When you remove the context of broader civilization, or of having to consider "rules" and "traditions" that are in place because they keep order in that civilization, you suddenly have a lot of rational actors acting rationally against each other in increasingly destructive ways. e.g., if you take my wife, I kill you and get my wife back; assuming no one knew you were sleeping with my wife, and she doesn't go tattling on me, no one's ever going to know who killed you, and in a society that does not permit itself to make moral judgments against anyone, even if they knew it was me they may well say that telling me murder is wrong is a moral judgment, and it isn't their right to make it.

In fact, this it the condition in Brazil right now to a certain degree; if you murder someone in cold blood just to steal money from him, you can be out of jail in less than two years. There was a recent robbery at gunpoint caught on tape where a plain clothes police officer shot the perp - the result was that the thief gets a few months in jail, and has now successfully sued the officer (who was fired, I believe) and has been awarded a good chunk of money for having been shot:

As you might expect, Brazil has seen a spiraling level of crime, and an increasing reluctance of police officers to do anything about it because going after criminals might mean they end up losing their jobs and homes.

In China, where there's been a large break down in morals due to the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward, which basically wiped away all traces of the 5,000 years of Chinese heritage on the mainland and cast everyone into a "survival of the fittest" lifestyle in which 40 million of the less fit starve to death, today people won't help injured individuals because the helper often gets sued. e.g., if you see an old woman get hit by a car, then stop your car to go pull her off the road and call an ambulance, she'll sue you and claim you're the one who hit her, since the other car hit and run and she assumes, from a correct "rational actor" point of view, that you've already helped her and she'll never see you again, so suing the man who helped her and trying to extract money from her seems like the rationally sound thing to do. The result is that at a societal level, people have stopped helping one another; there was a story recently about a little girl being hit by a car in the middle of a road, surviving, and lots of people walking by and seeing her but no one doing anything because they didn't want to get involved. Over the next 10 minutes, she was hit by two more cars, since she was lying in the middle of the road and unable to move, and the last one killed her.

Moral decay does have very real impacts on a society. Perhaps the only hope for Western civilization right now is that it seems like every other country is decaying morally right along with us, so at least we won't be invaded and sold into slavery by a powerful nation with a more cohesive society than ours. The world's a little short on moral actors right now.


ST's picture


How do you live your life then when you know that almost everything going on around you is a big sham, and that helping someone could possibly get you in a fucked up situation? How does one lead when there are no 'worthy' followers because of different views? What does one lead for? For the betterment of the people, for his ego, for his status and pre-selection?

On a survival level, "When in Rome." seems to be the route with the highest chance of you coming out victorious. How does one become a leader, and a role model, and a respectable man when the people around him that he meets are going for the same goal? Does the real leader shine through? Strongest-frame?

If that sounds bitter or cynical, do tell me. Long story short, I get fired up to 'fix it' - but it's overwhelming and crazy to think it might be impossible to fix or that it's totally possible that I'm living in a warped perspective. I trust this site to fix my flawed mental modes.

Chase Amante's picture


Lots of interesting stuff in this comment. Thoughts on your thoughts:

There are no truly "illogical" beliefs or rules; only beliefs or rules that follow a different line of logic and reasoning from your own. Everyone likes to believe that of course his reasoning is unimpeachable, but the fact of the matter is that logic is merely a tool, not an end; in the medical cases of individuals who've lost the sections of their brains that produce emotional decision, and these individuals are forced to operate 100% logically, they're unable to make even the simplest of decisions, like whether to accept a pen as a gift or a baseball cap. Logic is an endless track of "What if"s and "But"s, and the only reason you ever decide something and don't endlessly deliberate it with yourself is emotion. Logic is more window dressing used to justify one's position than it is the vehicle used to arrive at that position in the first place.

Government itself is an endlessly confusing mess of tangles, and the more I've studied it personally, the less clear its become. The book referenced in this article, by Will and Ariel Durant, discusses the merits of democracy vs. monarchy vs. oligarchy vs. a number of other setups. Without making value judgments (which are doomed to always be wrong), the Durants merely look instead at what happens historically; monarchy gives way to democracy, which gives way to tyranny or to anarchy, which gives way to feudalism, which gives way to monarchy, and so on and so forth. While it's tempting to say, "The people cannot think rationally for themselves - look how foolish they are; how uninformed; and see how petty are the things they concern themselves with most of the time," the next question becomes, "Who knows better?" Most men's answers tend to be: "Why, ME, of course!" But if you go through society asking each person this question, everyone will confidently tell you that, without doubt, he knows better what the world and his fellow man does than his fellow man himself does. Civilization is a compromise between hundreds or thousands or millions of people who agree on some central tenets they all will follow because they can live with some things they don't like if it makes it easier for them to not die on the savanna from spear wounds or mauling by a lion or a hippopotamus.

The discussion about tribalism vs. individualism is the same as the discussion of order vs. freedom; civilization needs both, but too far to the extreme in either leads to its collapse. An excess of tribalism leads to oppression, censorship, and gulags; an excess of individualism leads to anarchy, moral decay, and cultural breakdown.

Another trend highlighted by the Durants in Lessons is the waxing and waning of religion in societies. New societies are generally highly religious and ordered. As they become more successful, they need less the promises of the old religions, because the people have more self-determination and live better lives. As they begin to abandon religion, their morals begin to decay, and the civilization starts to eat itself alive from the inside out. Eventually, outside civilizations with stronger centers catch up to and surpass it, and normally at this point they invade it or sack it and the civilization ceases to exist. Its peoples then return to religiosity and moralism again, in search of order and the former greatness of their civilizations. Right now we are in the twilight years of Western civilization; the decline may be slow (it took Rome hundreds of years to fall), and because Western civilization is so large, I doubt it will be wiped out by another civilization; just superseded. And then that civilization will go through the same trend over the scale of centuries; it will rise to prominence and power, cast off its old religions and traditions, enter into moral decay, and some day be surpassed again, perhaps by a resurgent and re-moralized Western civilization, or perhaps by something else, only for that new civilization to follow the same pattern.

History shows the position "individualism is the answer" to be incomplete, just as it shows "tribalism is the answer" to be incomplete. They are the yin and the yang of civilization; the two need each other, and balance each other out, and within each one there are aspects of the other. Get an excess of either type, and civilization as we know it collapses; however, the see-sawing of human society can never balance out, because there will always be forces pushing for greater freedom, or greater order, and only very infrequently, and only during the most golden of a civilization's years, do those two achieve any approximation of harmony.


Jimbo's picture

You're trying to pass off morality as "acting in your narrow self-interest with little care for the harm you may cause". But that's not morality, that's just pure selfishness. In which case why call it morality at all?

Also, you're being a little too liberal with the words "logical" and "illogical". Making rules to avoid anarchy is not illogical. It's well-known that most men don't take the fact of their women sleeping with other men very well. It's also known that extramarital affairs harm marriages greatly. That's why adultery can create violence (via retaliation) and divorces. If you think violence and divorce are bad things for society, then it's not so illogical to slate adultery and the people who partake in it as immoral.

That's the very reason laws and Rule of Law exist, and that's what holds civilization together. Not "anyone can do what they want as long as they can get away with it" because this would lead to neverending vendettas and a strong-eats-weak, free-for-all society, aka anarchy.

The Byronic Man's picture

Chase, could you do an article on open relationships, especially on how to maintain them? A forum member explained that it's different from friends with benefits--open relationships are emotionally involved whereas FWB are not. Wouldn't that make the "FWB" label a misnomer since friendship is measured by emotional attachment?

Chase Amante's picture


Sure, I'll add this one to the article queue. It's not a relationship style I've dabbled much in myself, so I'll ask one of the other writers to talk about it... but we've got a couple guys on staff who are more than capable to do so!


Anonymous's picture

Hey Chase,

I was just wondering what is your opinion on online dating? I have met this girl through this small community and I live in the UK and she lives in Chicago, also do you have any advice about being nervous to start a relationship?

I don't know why but I'm kinda nervous and shy when it comes to being the man and starting a new relationship after a few dates, I'm also concerned about what people might say if I so get in a relationship with a girl, I'm not a popular guy at college. I guess it's just who I am that's why I'm like that.

About the online dating, how would I move things forward when it comes to online dating? I only talk to this girl through Skype calls.


Chase Amante's picture


My overall opinion of online dating is it's an okay way to meet midrange girls, BUT you've got to be very careful about avoiding crazy chicks. In my experience and that of just about everyone who's done well with online I've comapred notes with, most of the women you'll meet from online tend to be open to sex very quickly into first meeting you, but they tend to come equipped with all manner of baggage, too.

Articles on the site on this subject:

Re: moving things forward once you're already doing calls with one another - that's straightforward enough: just ask her out! With future girls, you'll usually want to set up a date before you even move to calling, unless they seem especially skittish. If a girl's interested in you, she'll want to meet you; the risk of doing too many calls is that a girl can get too comfortable having you as "that guy I talk to on Skype" and when you suddnely decide you want to meet in person it can seem weird ("But it's so great just talking on Skype!").

Bear in mind that women are looking for men to fill all kinds of roles for them - the lover they meet in person who rocks their worlds, the boyfriend who makes them feel safe and secure, and the friend who's there to make her feel validated and attractive because she knows he likes her, and maybe she likes him a little bit too, but she knows he'll never do anything and it's safe to keep him there in the background and just chat with him whenever she needs to feel desired and attractive and popular. You definitely DON'T want to be that guy... then you're pumping all your time into making her feel good for a "chance" while, most likely, she's dating some other dudes who push her other buttons more.

Instead, ask her out, and make meeting you in person the only way she gets to access your value. If she's cagey about meeting, just dial back the time you invest in her more and more, and start finding other girls and following a sounder process with them to get them out.


 Whizzy's picture

I followed the thread mentioned at the beginning of the article and I am amazed you were able to come up with this peace Chase. This is one of, if not the most powerful article you have written to date. It also brings up many interesting points and in my opinion is a perfect response to the boards. Kudos to you my friend!

Nuncle's picture

Very interesting about the swing between freedom/selfishness and restrictions/society.

The permissiveness we largely have today is fed into (ironically) by both left and right. The right through the ideas that can be grouped together as "greed is good", the left with the distrust of authority, religion and "patriarchy", and advocacy of personal expression, sexual freedom, abortion, and so on.

Both actually equate to saying "hey man, screw you I can do what I like because I'm important"

I think, though, the generation coming to maturity now are more conservative in some ways. My generation (born mid 70s) were big into their casual drug taking. Younger people seem to largely frown on it from what I can see.

At the same time the Reaganite free-market dogma is perhaps taking a bit of a battering.

Chase Amante's picture


Yes, there seems to be a slight reactionary trend among younger generations. There's a lot of bitterness among both men and women toward the opposite sex, and it seems to mostly be bitterness about the opposite sex not "following the rules". e.g., men are upset that women aren't being "good girls", and women are upset that men aren't being "good men." When doing research into the '50s, '60s, and '70s, I didn't come across very much material like this; it was all mostly positive, either, "How you can become his dream girl!" or, "Embrace free love!"

Of course, that might just be that the common individual didn't have as much of a voice then as he does today via the Internet, so all you heard was feel-good marketing designed to move more units; the web really is the great equalizer. Whether the current reactionary bubbling leads to a full blown swing back toward order, or whether it's more just the dying gasps of the order folks as the freedom folks cement their victory remains to be seen.


Juan Carlos 's picture

There's this girl I like and I'm pretty sure she likes me. One day she said "you need to have more confidence in yourself." After I made fun of myself calling myself fat. I resoponded by saying I am actually so confident that I can make fun of myself. Then she gave me a very flirtatious smile. Did she say that to test me? Did I pass that test?

Chase Amante's picture


Sounds like she just thought you were being unnecessarily down on yourself and wanted to encourage you not to be. Anyway, I'd be more worried about getting a date than whether any specific thing was a test or not... ask her out! Whether you can get her to say "yes" or not is the only test to be concerned with at this point.


Bolt's picture

Hey Chase I just had a couple questions. In your how to make a girl orgasm in 8 minutes or less you talk about 3 positions that are highly orgasmic for women. Well, those positions are fine for girls I have sex with occasionally but what about girls I plan on keeping around for a bit. Girls are highly pleases with these positions but I don't want to keep doing the same thing over and over again (I feel that would be a recipe for a stale sex life if I decide to have a LTR). So are there any other positions/tips to switch things for the girls that I sleep with on a regular basis? Also, sometimes when I''m going to cum too soon when fucking girls I pull out and finger them until I "calm down". Is this a good technique for orgasms too, or would that break the rhythm/tempo aspect that you talked about in the aforementioned article? Thanks for your ever helpful advice, peace!

Chase Amante's picture


I'd recommend picking up a copy of Anne Hooper's version of the Kama Sutra. It's fully illustrated with live models and arms you with tons of different positions you can try - if you're worried about things getting stale, just sit down with your girl and pick something out of the book, or surprise her with something you've already picked out to do yourself.

Re: pulling out and fingering her - yes, that will disrupt the rhythm you have with her, but anything you do to stop thrusting so you don't finish too early will do this. I wouldn't worry about it too much - she'll be more satisfied with that than she will with you climaxing early ;)


Alexander's picture

I was listening to an interview with Bill Gates recently where he mentions that young people should always choose formal education, despite the fact that he himself and many other successful people (athletes, actors, tech and other types of billionaires and millionaires...) usually didn't benefit too much from formal education (like going through school and learning just the things you're supposed to learn) and even dropped out in some cases.
It sounds to me like teaching people how not to lose, instead of win.

What do you think about the value of formal education versus developing useful and practical skills as early as possible?

Chase Amante's picture


It's a tough question, yeah. The thing to keep in mind is that for every super successful person, there are hundreds of other wannabes failed and lying in the trash heaps of history. You've heard of Bill Gates, but you haven't heard of the 50 other guys working on things like what Bill Gates was working on who weren't as lucky and ended up not succeeding.

People who are successful, like Gates, tend to have extracurricular activities they are very much into that command a lot of their time while they're in school. For instance, Gates spent a LOT of time programming in and out of school, as did Steve Jobs, as did Steve Wozniak, as did Mark Zuckerberg. The value of school if you're working on other skill sets I see as mainly being a place where you can delay your foray into the real world a bit longer, and a place where you can meet other likeminded individuals.

Techcrunch had a great article on "unicorns", the tech world's name for billion-dollar tech startup companies back in November (here's the article). Here's a quote worth keeping in mind: "The majority of founding CEOs, and 90 percent of enterprise CEOs have technical degrees from college." Another one: "Conversely, eight companies had a college dropout as a co-founder. And three out of five of the most valuable companies (Facebook, Twitter and ServiceNow) on our list were or are led by college dropouts, although dropouts with tech-company experience, with the exception of Facebook."

I'd also place this in there as extremely relevant: "Stanford leads the roster with an impressive one-third of the companies having at least one Stanford grad as a co-founder. Former Harvard students are co-founders in eight of 38 unicorns; Berkeley in five; and MIT grads in four of the 38 companies."

Part of that's likely that these places just attract the top talent; but part of it's also got to be that these places just are great incubators and nurturers of future successful entrepreneurs. I can tell you that I, for one, was certainly a lot more productive on creative efforts in university, with lots of free time and lots of smart, ambitious individuals around me than I was in the year between high school and college, when I spent my time busting tires in an auto shop and working 50 or 60-hour a week shifts as a salesman and store manager and constantly at wit's end and too tired to do anything other than lift at the gym or write a few short stories because I was dealing with so much stress from customer service and rowdy tire technicians.

So, I'd say, yes, going to college can help you not lose... but, if you get into the right school and surround yourself with the right people, while also working on and having worked on developing a technical skill to a high degree, it can also help you to win big.


Alexander's picture

Yes, I've read the article on TC. Obviously, there is a lot of survivorship bias in those stories. But, the other thing is that you don't have to be 'super' successful. You don't have to create FB (super unicorn), there are Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, VK, Weibo and many other similar companies whose founders are very successful compared to the average person.
It's like a NBA game. Some teams might lose sometimes, but all the players are usually young, rich and famous... so not everyone is Michael Jordan, but great nevertheless.

Chase Amante's picture

Of course.

Main reason I reference the "super successful" companies is I don't have a source for "moderately successful" business founders' backgrounds... not sure anyone does (would be interesting to see the data if anyone did). Also, from the book Talent is Overrated, quoting research from Dean Keith Simonton (who has a lot of fascinating research into genius and the factors that cause it): "He found that the relation between education and eminence, when plotted on a graph, looked like an inverted U: The most eminent creators were those who had received a moderate amount of education, equal to about the middle of college. Less education than that—or more—corresponded to reduced eminence for creativity." Additionally, I hear and see all kinds of anecdotal things, but you can make a lot of bad decisions off promising sounding one-off stories.

If we're going anecdotal, I know lots of people in entrepreneurial circles, but almost all have college degrees. I have college graduate friends with 8-figure businesses, and college graduate friends who've tried and failed at entrepreneurship. My more successful friends mostly have bachelor's degrees, though I do have a friend with a mid-6-figures a year business and a PhD. I can only think of one guy off the top of my head whom I know in business who had no more than a GED and a few college courses, and he built a few businesses by hitching his trailer to savvy folk, but crashed and burned each of these after wrestling control away from the college-educated partner.

It might just be that if you're reasonably sharp and not completely intemperate, you're going to attend university, so the statistics are just tangled up and you can't really pull them apart. I can definitely tell you that I, for one, looked at the world quite differently before entering college, when the world seemed like an impossibly hardscrabble place, and coming out of it, when I felt like I could probably figure out ways to succeed, even if things were tough. If I had to do it over again, I'd certainly go, although I'd probably take the time I poured into music and spend it on programming instead.


Anonymous's picture

Hi chase,

I've been trying to build my confidence, and am wondering how complicated this concept is. I think anything related to self-esteem, belief, courage etc. all gets labeled as confidence although they are not the same thing though there may be overlap at times. I'm not sure how much you've studied this aspect of psychology, but from what I've studied, and it's been a lot, I haven't found anything that really works with a good success rate. I can't pinpoint times of success to anything tangible or at least I haven't been able to, and while it's possible the content i'm reading just isn't being conveyed effectively, I'm starting to wonder how much one can actually control and how conscious this process is. I do find success at times, but like I said I can't pinpoint the reasoning and it always go away. When it goes away I feel absolutely terrible and get obsessed trying to find it again. Sometimes it takes weeks for it to return after hard work. You seem like someone whose confidence was not his sticking point but I'm sure had to work at it regardless. Please advise as I'm starting to go crazy.

Anonymous's picture

People say "just be confident" or "just be happy" but isn't it the truth that these people are confident about something or happy about something? Is it possible to just be a certain way through thinking repetitively or must there be some rationalization (though perhaps they are one and the same thing due to a feedback loop of reinforcement?) and changing of interpretation through will power? I've gotten to a point where I believe or know something but I don't FEEL that way and I'm not sure if it's because I don't believe it strongly enough or if there's something else going on. I've read about the reticular activating system but haven't been able to gain good results. It seems like the authors are missing a key step or that they can't quite explain what's going on specifically enough to give concrete directions.

Chase Amante's picture


Personally, I tend to be a pretty low confidence person until I've already racked up massive success in a given field. I just assume everyone else is way better than me and I suck, very often because this is the case. I don't view this as a bad thing.

My personal feeling is that confidence is largely irrelevant over the long-term, provided you aren't hung up on it. I know plenty of very confident people with ugly girlfriends and little money, and I know lots of men you'd previously have described as "not terribly confident" who now have gorgeous women, great jobs or successful businesses, and all manner of other good things in their lives because they said "screw confidence, let me just go chip away at this stuff until something happens", and they did that.

Confidence is great when you have it, but I'd view it as a side effect of success, not a precursor to it. If you want a much more in-depth look at this point of view, see this article here: "Does Confidence = Success? Actually... No."


lucifer's picture

What a beaitufil article!

But Chase, these kind of articles won't get you too many approvals and readers as few will go through such a theory-heavy piece and appreciate it.

I guess this ties back to the "patriarchal/civilized" and "matriarchal/uncivilized" theory.

Just one note about Francesco d'Assisi VS Augustine: I don't know how come you say the latter is more revered, I can tell you from the old world point of view that "San Francesco" is huuuge, much more so than Augustine whom I didn't even know.

Jimbo's picture

I think the reason men who have done everything they were told to do in their youth seem more lackluster is because they seem to lack two necessary qualities associated with manliness, namely independence and individuality (aka going your own way, aka doing your own thing).

However, this can be remedied by encouraging young men to channel their rebellious or individualistic impulses in simply pursuing their own interests in music, sports, politics, and what have you, and by leaving their impact on the world while doing that, even if said interests might antagonize a considerable segment of society. And the good news is that a 21st-Century Western society is one of the most comfortable environments to do this without breaking the law: these are societies where all types of music are tolerated however low or vile they get, where more and more extravagant fashion is tolerated, different addictive substances, and lax sexual mores, etc. In other words, this can be remedied by going by what you described in your "being edgy" article.

By the way, there are men who are respected by most people and who have almost only been known for good, like MLK (we've only learnt about his philandering and the like later on). Most people know him only for good and many admire him and respect him for it, and they do so because he showed the two traits that are invariably associated with manliness: independence and individuality. And even the people who don't like him don't do so because they think of him as too good but generally simply because they prefer the pre-Civil Rights racial order.

Jimbo's picture

Going too far with enforcing moral values (tyranny) is often just as savage as letting go of them completely (anarchy) -- an example of the former would be the Taliban and one of the latter would be some of America's inner cities.

It's all about striking the right balance as you said.

Jimbo's picture

Another thing associated with manliness is having gone through hardships. But hardships need not be synonymous with harming people or doing bad things, they could very well entail great strife to achieve excellence in a certain domain, building a business, creating something, etc. People who do that are usually very respected as men and end up having authority of wisdom once in their middle age.

Jimbo's picture

Unfortunately, gentlemanly behavior isn't what arouses the female. Just as unfortunate, ladylike behavior isn't what arouses the male either.

Arousal occurs in a different part of the brain (the reptilian brain) than the ones where we appreciate such behaviors.

Maintaining civilization is essentially putting a lid on our archaic basic instincts. And I say archaic because they're more suited for cavetimes or hunter-gatherer environments than for an industrial or post-industrial society. Our environments evolved but the beast in us has yet to catch up.

The next leap forward for humanity would be for genetics to advance to such a degree that we'd be able to tweak our natural impulses so as to make us more civilized by nature, and make what arouses both sexes more equal and healthier. That way the biological interests of men and women would be more similar and we'd put a rest to this battle of the sexes and trying to outgame each other.

That's why I think eugenics are the way of the future and the next revolutionary step for humanity. Just because some German guy took it too far seventy years ago doesn't mean it should be considered off-limited. It could be used to great benefit for society, only more reasonably this time. People with the most extreme sexual inclinations that keep perpetuating bad genetic proclivities should be weeded out. Example: women who are the most irresistibly attracted to violent men and the men who can't seem to see any value in women besides their sexual worth. And by "weeding out", I mean sterilizing them or at the very least shunning them as breeding partners, not killing them.

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