Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Dating And Relationship Books That Teach Manipulation

Due to mass appeal, certain types of dating and relationship books have become very popular. These books typically teach strategies that involve the use of deception and manipulation in order to get the men (or women) you desire. For most individuals they are an affront to intelligence and individuality but for dumb desperate people they appear as a godsend.

In addition to feeding off insecurities, these books also play on the ego; especially the books for women.

For example, dumb women with big egos love hearing:

"It's okay to want a guy to call you everyday. Because you're awesome and you deserve it!"

Anything less is, of course: "He's just not that into you" - which is actually the name of a dating book.

Using junk science, rhetoric and attacks on the self-esteem, the authors of such books manage to convince their dumb readers that they should follow certain guidelines to have any chance of succeeding in romantic relationships. These guidelines are essentially "scripts" which involve deception and leading the other person into believing you are something you are not. Apparently, this is the key to having happy and fulfilling relationships. If you can't get someone by being yourself than be someone else.

The dangerous aspect of these books is that they can in fact work, but only on the most insecure, hedonistic, and emotionally unregulated individuals. The fact is, the techniques rely heavily on there being people out there who will get sucked in by them. It's like banking on the worst traits that some people have and then calling that the method of choice.

There are two books I'm going to focus on for the remainder of this post. They are "The Rules" - the dating book for women, and "The Mystery Method" - the dating (pick-up) book for men.

Dysfunctional Dating For Dummies

Dumb, hurt, jaded women will have plenty to celebrate when they manage to reel in the most neurotic of Don Juans who get off on the chase (and lose interest soon after). This will cause them to brag to their girlfriends that the material works! Some of them will then log on to amazon.com and under Book Reviews, will proclaim how wonderful The Rules is because it landed them a man (sometimes accompanied by tons of grammar and spelling mistakes). And in a predictable manner (as if to diffuse potential criticism), they will also repeat/parrot what the authors wrote by saying that the only men who are turned off by this are "jerks" because they refuse to appreciate a "real" woman and put in "the time" to get her.

Similarly...

Dumb, hurt, desperate men will have plenty to celebrate when they finally reel in the most insecure, hedonistic women who respond most favorably to men who give the impression of not wanting them. The self-esteem bait really works, they will say. You keep it just within their reach and eventually lead them to the bedroom (which is usually the main intent). And legions of men will follow suit, hooking up with the same type of women, and reinforcing the belief that "all women are like that", so it must be justified to do this stuff because it's the "only thing that works".

The problem is that the authors of these books never attempt to instill any rational thought into the mind of the hapless reader. They communicate that insecure thoughts are okay to have, no matter how infantile, and they can be resolved by getting "something" external. But no effort is made to get to the bottom of those bad feelings and deal with the core confidence (and intelligence) issues. Instead, they feed those fears and amplify them. For example, in The Rules this is done using shock value, such as:

"It's not fun to break The Rules. You could easily end up alone."

And in "The Mystery Method":

"If you don't learn how to attract a beautiful woman, nature will mercilessly weed your genes out of existence."

And now that the fear is primed, a solution is offered.

And any success that follows (if it follows) makes the authors appear to be geniuses.

If someone is truly so clueless about dating and relationships, any improvement, no matter how obscene, can be seen as salvation.

But holding on to a life raft is not the same thing as being on solid land.

Of course, the methods used tend to raise ethical concerns. But the authors, in order to shield themselves from rational scrutiny (and sleep better at night), do some very clever and cult-like things. For example, from the book "The Rules", the author tells the readers:

• Don't discuss The Rules with your therapist

• Do The Rules even when your friends and parents think it's nuts

• Don't read books that advise against The Rules

• The only guys who will be turned off by this are the guys who weren't really interested in the first place

• Men have a biological need to pursue, so don't make things easy for them

• The authors were once skeptical too, but it works

All these points are written to discourage independent fact finding, leaving the female followers with a certainty that the book is right and, by process of elimination, removing all those men who could cast doubt on the usefulness of the methods.

Now, from "The Mystery Method", the author says things like:

• Don't listen to what women say. What they say they want is the opposite of what they actually want

• Don't try to think about this logically. Women are illogical creatures and logic doesn't apply to them

• Women enjoy "the process". You are giving her the emotions she craves

These dogma are a bit more clever, which is why this book gets higher reviews. So the points need to be addressed separately:

The first and second point: Translation - don't listen to what women say because (god forbid) you may get a different perspective. And don't try and think about this stuff logically because it might result in you looking elsewhere for information.

The third point: This is basically the same as "Men have a biological need to pursue, so don't make things easy for them". You're just giving them what they want, after all. So it's okay to do it.

A subtle point to make is that insecure people on the receiving end would never tell you that these techniques would work on them. The reason for this is because no one (men and women) likes to admit to a weakness in character. Weak people generally don't admit they are weak. And dumb people don't generally admit they're dumb. This is why it's a common belief that people behave differently than how they say they will behave (when asked), especially if those people are susceptible to manipulation.

Books like these are written by, and feed into, a result-oriented class of people with large egos who are determined to do anything to achieve their goals. Never mind the PR campaign saying that the focus is on "self-improvement" and "setting boundaries". It's a masquerade and smokescreen for justifying a lot of bad advice.

Following these practices, it is only by accident that anyone will meet someone worthwhile. But unfortunately, dumb people won't know the difference between meeting someone worthwhile when the odds are against it, and meeting someone worthwhile "because of".

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