From abject loser to young man

“A man who loves like a woman becomes a slave. This is the Nice Guy.”—Pook

Before commencing, it might be helpful for the reader to visualize the person who is telling the story. Imagine an ectomorph. An ectomorph whose upper body muscles show through his intentionally tight clothing, with really high powered glasses and a rather goofy looking face, pockmarked with pimple scars from back in the day when I was trying to tell myself “appearance shouldn’t matter”, and thus didn’t do a thing about. My name is Andrew, age 22 as of writing, and I have lost to a girl I liked in an arm wrestling match (ok she is right handed and I am left handed but still). Let’s be honest here ladies—if it weren’t for the way I carry myself, you would probably not think that I am the type of guy who has even heard about a Taken in Hand relationship, let alone be capable of one.

Foresight teaches gently—error teaches brutally

My first success with females was when I was in primary. In 3rd grade I remember following around a girl that I liked. She despised me. I remember wondering “hmm I was supposed to be thoughtful and caring; why isn’t this working?”

Throughout middle and high school there was a girl I really liked, but I never made a move on. This was the girl I lost to in arm wrestling. Later on it turned out she liked my friend, and dated him for a while. That was not fun. The first lesson was taught—but I did not learn it. It was:

“Rejection is better than Regret”

While I was in middle school, I attended some local event. I was extra confident that day, and it showed. I went up to all the girls and asked for their names before the event started. I did nothing else worthy of mention, but all the guys looked up to me and all the girls were eyeing me. A girl whom I did not know told me to sit next to her at the very back of the bus. We became fast friends and she took me to dinner with her family. I had a feeling that she liked me, but I didn’t act upon it because I was afraid that my true self would show, namely that I’m a loser at middle school and the friendly, outgoing person she saw in the local event was just a one off. Out of all the girls with whom I swapped email addresses with after the event, she was the only one I remembered. This is also why I think ladies should take initiative sometimes, because it makes you stand out.

This episode really puzzled me. I thought I had lost it forever when it came to girls. So how was it that I somehow managed to become the life of the event that particular day? Was I really, at heart, a natural at this?

I also had another run in with the oddities of females when I asked a girl I didn’t know for her hand at a dance party. We danced… not very well, but I imagine she thought that I liked her. Which might explain why, after a few days of me not doing anything after the party, all her friends started to hate me. I guess you’re not supposed to dance with a girl if you’re not interested in her?

In High School I found that the social hierarchy was based on popularity, and surprisingly, my natural personality placed me at the oddities table, far, far away from where all the hot chicks were. In order to climb up the ladder, I tried on many mannerisms. I picked up the bad habit of brain farts, I sometimes acted like I was on Prozac because I thought that would make me more popular (it didn’t), I sometimes made stupid and immature comments. Needless to say this did not work.

And so in this confused way I graduated and went to university. My brain still shuts down whenever I want to talk to a beautiful woman (as it has been wont to do since 1st grade). Yet I kept my standards impossibly high. A lot of people say “why go for a beautiful woman when you can have a caring loving woman?” and I always respond with “why can’t I have both?”

Yes, why couldn’t I have both? I realized at this point that my behaviour was getting me nowhere. It takes a certain humility to buckle down and admit that yes, I am bad at attracting women—something that so many other guys are afraid to admit. Yes, I need help. And so with my best companion and friend since 3rd grade, the personal computer, I set off in search for help on the seas of the Internet.

“You are the Great Catch.”

I first signed up on Sosuave in 2008, but that was after reading David DeAngelo’s Cocky & Funny and Neil Strauss’s The Game. I downloaded Mystery’s TV show. Tried the Apocalypse Opener at a club, to a resounding failure. I followed David DeA’s advice on banishing approach anxiety, which was to go up to random chicks on the street and tell them you were practicing talking to attractive women. That was a good one. I like C&F—it’s natural and always gets a good reaction. When I approach women, I feel like I am “the man”. But it soon felt like a job. Whenever I saw an attractive woman, I just had to approach her, or I would feel like I was lapsing into the old ways, and no longer “the man”. This subtle sense of insecurity bugged me and I could never feel like “the Great Catch”. Plus I realized that a lot of these “techniques” were actually my natural behaviour during the local event at which I was so popular in middle school. Eventually it all fell by the side and I forgot about it for some time.

I drifted along until sometime last year, my friend broke it to me with some hard love. I had no social status. I acted like an overly Nice Guy in front of the girl I liked. I wasn’t studying. I didn’t take good care of myself. I wear my heart on my sleeve (sometimes I use this to my advantage). I am too easy to read. And a few other things that I don’t quite remember, or probably didn’t want to keep in mind.

It hurt, but it was true. I never really got the urge to study, but eventually, I managed to drag myself into doing pushups every 2 days to build muscle, to take care of those pimples on my face, to shower every day, learning to insult each other wittily, and most importantly to me, to start reading those dating advice books again. This time, I also read dating advice for women. And I read Casanova’s Memoirs.

“Ambitionless men are those who live like women. Ambitionless women are those who live the equality of men.”—Pook

Casanova is very far removed from the pickup artists of today. He didn’t memorize routines, memorize astrological trivia, learn palm reading, or try to break it down into a science/process. What he had was poetry, a sharp wit, very strong convictions, a way of forming social connections quickly and with a lot of people, and a frame of mind that made everything seem like an adventure. And he did live adventurously, going from place to place, meeting strange people, meeting extraordinary women, and getting his way with women anywhere, anytime, whether he was poor or rich. And every person who entered his life came away somehow enriched. Or at least, that’s the impression his memoirs gave.

“Manners for men: direction of masculine strength, not the denial of it.”—Pook

Casanova was also odd in that he had severe oneitis. Oneitis is when a pickup artist thinks that a particular girl is “the One”. Usually what happens is then he starts to revert to his old self around her, thus making her lose all interest in him. All pickup artists avoid oneitis like the plague. They try to date lots of other women to get their mind off them. But Casanova seemed to get severe oneitis for some women, and they didn’t care. In fact, they welcomed him with open arms (and legs)! Obviously there was a duality going on here—women like seeing the soft side of masculine men! And the pickup artists, because they used to fall in love too soon with a woman, now overreact and try to never show that they love a woman. This also works on a physical level. Watch Le Samourai, which stars Alain Delon. Quiet, determined, always composed, yet something feminine about him. I think that’s why women think he’s attractive.

“Technique is nothing. Communication is everything. The 'techniques' that supposedly 'work' are nothing more than good communication of your desires and intention.”—Pook

Shortly before reading Casanova’s memoirs I had found a few posts by somebody on Sosuave called The Pook. Somebody had kindly compiled his posts into The Book of Pook. Pook’s posts really resonated with me, because having read The Game when I first got into this study, I appreciated the importance of having inner game, i.e. being in touch with yourself, being a good, respectable character before searching for a woman. The Game specifically demonstrates how Mystery, despite his incredible powers of seduction, fails in keeping women because he is childish and attention seeking, incapable and scared of giving love. His Mystery Method is only a coat that he dons when he sarges. The Game also makes it clear that many males who play the speed seduction game fall into the narcissistic trap of hoarding numbers from women and having all of them; but only a select few rise above that, and realize that in order to get better women, they have to better themselves, not sharpen their “technique” or develop more routines.

“Never Change Your Mind Just to Please a Woman”—Chapter 6, The Way of the Superior Man

Pook is all about improving and being true to oneself before meeting women. Much like David Deida’s The Way of the Superior Man recommends, the focus is always more on the self, less on the woman. Casanova, although he never spelt it out explicitly, lived his life according to the same principle. Pook talks about being a man, and why women go for men and not Nice Guys—because men do not deny that they are male, while Nice Guys try to hide it by acting female. Meanwhile, as I’m sure all the females on Taken in Hand know, sexuality remains alive and well, but mostly only in romance novels.

The Book of Pook, The Way of the Superior Man, Casanova’s Memoirs, Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus, and The Game all confirmed a nagging suspicion that when it comes to girls, there are no rules. No “wait x days before calling”, no “absence creates fondness”, “never say I love you within 3 months” (broke that rule successfully!), “be mysterious”, “when she does this, do that”. I would post more if I remembered them but the fact is I try not to read any more material that advocates “rules” with women, and I especially abhor The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. There are so many of them, for each differing situation, and each person has their own set of rules, that it’s impossible and tiring to try and remember them all. Plus such posts always advocate a sort of false front. And we all know women hate false fronts. This is why women are leery of men who admit that they learned The Game. They know that at some point, he was not being true to himself; he was just following a caricature of some other guy’s behaviour. And if there was any doubt on the matter, listen to Mission #17 of the Victory Unlimited Show (I love how he mixes a military vibe into it). Now that’s a guy who knows what women want.

Armed to the teeth with all this newfound knowledge, and having my confidence bolstered by re-reading The Way of the Superior Man on a regular basis, I started to ask out all the physically attractive girls I knew, and whom I knew had not put me in the list marked as “FRIENDS”. In no particular order of physical attractiveness: the first was not interested. The second had a boyfriend. The third was a confirmed hit! I got straight to the point and asked her if she had a guy already. Remembering the Brad Pitt/Alain Delon duality, I wore my heart on my sleeve and slightly exaggerated my nervousness :D what, no harm getting your foot in the door!
What I found was a very quiet, very reserved, warm hearted and incredibly cute girl who never failed to reciprocate my feelings for her, and who also happened to be a total animal in bed. The one time she wronged me, she invested a lot of effort into rebuilding the relationship, in spite of a few hurtful sentences I hurled at her, and seeing her effort, I was touched and could not bring myself to say anything else of the sort. The one complaint I have is that I still do not know enough about her. She knows me better than I know her, but as my friend said, I make it easy for people to read me, so I suppose this is not surprising.
I mention her because she unconsciously taught me a very important lesson:

Men are expected to lead.

At first I thought it was because of her personality—she is quiet and submissive after all. But I soon realized that it was a bit deeper than that. It was always up to me to push the boundaries as to where I could touch her—and her limits were imposed via a gentle repositioning of my hand. And if I stopped because of that, she would look up at me, confused. Now THAT was really confusing. And although we took turns on deciding where to go for dates, she would always be happiest when I was the one making the decisions. I had a faint idea that dates were mostly managed by men anyway, so I figured it had to be something other than her personality.

Now, a strange thing happens to a guy when he likes a girl very much. A man should always want to improve himself for himself. But when he is in love, a man will have the urge to improve himself for himself, and also for the girl that he likes. Read Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus by John Gray. Everything he says there is true on a very deep level. Deida’s The Way of the Superior Man also shares common ideas with Mars/Venus. And so it came about that I was looking for ways to further improve myself when I came across a post on Sosuave called “A Crash Course on Masculine Power”. It opened with a quotation from this article, which was first published here on the Taken In Hand website. I found this quotation incredibly fascinating, and it felt like it was stolen from a written article, so I Googled the exact line. I had stumbled upon Taken in Hand.

“It seems that the most gifted Don Juans were the most miserable failures with women earlier in life. It is like when they found they couldn’t have their way, they had to compensate by realizing and cultivating their faculties and talents. This is also true with geniuses.” —Pook

It amazes me how mature, honest, and understanding people on Taken in Hand are. Totally different from Sosuave, but probably because there’s a lot of females here too. Their ages also amaze me. Too many accounts of marriages going down the drain because the male has not yet learned to deal with the female, and the female wants the male to be strong enough to handle her and is disappointed that she married a male who isn’t. I have no doubt that Pook has at one time or another read this site too. Like many posters on Taken In Hand, he blames feminism for the increasing “equality” between the sexes. The final pieces of the puzzle fall into place: Scarlett’s puzzling reaction after being raped in Gone with the Wind makes sense; pickup artists acknowledge that girls throw out shit tests, but can’t explain why; why jerks get the girls; and a line that my mother once said, but never emphasized, came to mind:

“Women want a man who is stronger than them.”

Even if I had paid attention to it, I would probably have interpreted it in the physical sense. As it turns out, this nugget of gold went in one ear and out the other, much like the other trashy line “Girls like guys who have good grades”. It’s times like those I think my parents assume I’m retarded. Or maybe that was just a last ditch effort to get me to study.

“It is good for young men to read a post full of aphorisms.”—Pook

Well I assure you I’ve studied the subject of women enthusiastically over the past few months, with more gusto than I could ever apply to schoolwork. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

Women will never stop shit testing you.

“A woman often seems to test her man's capacity to remain unperturbed in his truth and purpose. She tests him to feel his freedom and depth of love, to know that he is trustable. Her tests may come in the form of complaining, challenging him, changing her mind, doubting him, distracting him, or even undermining his purpose in a subtle or not so subtle way. A man should never think his woman's testing is going to end and his life will get easier. Rather, he should appreciate that she does these things to feel his strength, integrity, and openness. Her desire is for his deepest truth and love. As he grows, so will her testing.”—Chapter 15, The Way of the Superior Man

Pickup artists know that shit tests are a sign of interest! It’s one of their probes to test a man’s character. If she wasn’t interested in you, she would not test your character. That is why now and then, they will throw you a shit test, and see if you still pass this month. It can be as simple as asking men for free drinks, or as bad as cheating. If the man does not establish boundaries quickly and decisively, he is seen as weak. The cheating woman will continue to use him for his money. The girl who is just starting to date a guy who lets her get away with a shit test will lose interest in him quickly, or use him as well. A married woman whose husband fails her tests builds resentment for him, and may or may not cheat. At a high level of game, a pickup artist passes shit tests unconsciously. A natural also passes shit tests unconsciously. I don’t know if my girlfriend gave me any shit tests, but I assume I passed all of them.
Taken in Hand teaches that a woman needs a man they can trust to pass their shit tests. Then they will reward the man with even more trust. If they are married to men who let them do whatever they want, who do not take charge, they will lose attraction and either cheat, divorce messily, or devolve into a couple that simply lives together. The funny thing is that this is all subconscious, and even women do not know why they are losing interest in their men! Hence the much misused line “They don’t know what they want”. Pickup artists also acknowledge that women throw out shit tests, but they cannot explain why. Some of them think that women do it on a subconscious level.

Why do girls always go for the jerks, even though they say they want nice guys?

Because it is impossible to install a spine in a pansy. At least the jerk has a spine, and the girls hope they can set him straight. Unfortunately they do not know that it is impossible to change a person who does not want to change himself. Either that or strong men are in such short supply, they’ll take their chances! Also jerks are usually jerks because of an inner insecurity. Young girls are usually not mature enough to look past the outward display of strength. I have never heard a woman describe “quiet confidence” as an attractive trait before coming to this board—and most women on this board seem to be above 30. I think that has something to do with it too.

“In high school, you thought women would ‘mature’ and stop liking the jocks or jerks. In college, you thought women would mature and dislike the frat boys, sports guys, and start to be attracted to Nice Guy. In your thirties, you thought that women were FINALLY wisening up. No, women didn’t mature; they just ran out of don juans. No matter what her age or relationship status, a woman will look at those guys and LUST. Women indefinitely remain women.”

This Pook’s one failing: he accuses women at age 30 or above of settling for Nice Guys because they can no longer attract The Catch.

It is equally likely that they found a nice guy who has strength of character, a spine. It is not readily apparent with just a cursory glance. Of course there are wives who cheat. They cheat because they have married a New Age man, because they have settled. From the posts on Taken in Hand, I get the feeling that none of you in a Taken In Hand relationship would even dream of cheating on your husbands. And no husband in a Taken In Hand would tolerate cheating.

Nice Guys offer flowers, bad poetry, romantic gestures, gifts, and a listening ear to women in hopes that they will fall in love with them. Women only appreciate this emotional surrender if they like the guy. This is the male equivalent of a female throwing herself all over you from/at the first date. You think she is easy. And you don’t want easy women.

Cocky & Funny works because it is an outward display of strength, and shows comfort in oneself. Unfortunately for too many clueless men, this is their only tool for attracting women, and C&F alone is generally not enough. Fortunately, David DeAngelo does not advocate memorizing lines and routines like Jeffries or Mystery. Instead he recommends a view of the world or a state of mind, from which C&F will flow naturally. I should know. I signed up for his newsletter (and got lots of spam on the side).

A lot of pickup artists sarge to reassure themselves that they are the man, that they are more attractive than the nice guys they used to be. The more numbers they get, the more “manlier”, “accomplished” they are. Meanwhile a lot of women go to clubs to feel desired. The more desired a woman is, the more “feminine” she is. Women rank each other based on men’s desire for them. This is also why many women do not dump a boyfriend until they already have another one next in line.

Women generally don’t approach a guy. They just drop hints and expect the man to take the lead. I never understood why, neither do pickup artists elaborate on why (they just accept it as a matter of fact), but the women on Taken in Hand explain it very simply: if he is a take-charge man, he will come and say hi. If he doesn’t, then he is not take-charge, or he's just not that into her, i.e. no big loss anyway. The more beautiful the woman, the more intimidating the cold approach. This is why

“Beauty is a shit test.”—Neil Strauss, The Game

Pickup artists train themselves to overcome approach anxiety, the really nervous feeling you get when approaching an attractive woman, or even worse, a group of women with the target. Often you start out by practicing striking up conversations with strangers. Rejection hurts. Some people try to cope by trying to get rejected as much as possible in the hopes that it will numb them. The Great Catch will see rejection either as a failure of the woman to read his character, i.e. she wasn’t good enough for him anyway. The other “Great Catch” is simply full of himself.

“A Rules marriage is forever”—Ellen Fein, The Rules

If a girl is into you or if you’re far along enough in the relationship, you can break pretty much any rule ever made, and she will forgive you for minor mistakes you make during the approach. And once she is convinced that you are truly strong, you have true core values, then you can break the rules and be weak/nice guyish in front of her. You can even break the “don’t rape a woman” rule, as numerous contributors on this site attest to. The only reason rules exist is to help n00bs along. Too many n00bs never outgrow the rules or realize that the rules were made to be broken.

Dating is a process of qualification. She tries to figure out your true character through shit tests. If you are given the chance to naturally display your confidence, bravery, and true values, and you pass it unconsciously, you gain instant interest from a lot of women, because you just passed a lot of their tests. The man also qualifies the female by taking her out and observing her behaviour in particular situations. The first person, who displays over-eagerness or a weakness in their qualification scheme, is the one who loses. Both sides must be satisfied that they have been tested equally thoroughly to ensure that their feelings will be appreciated. Patience in this stage is an indicator of a well developed qualification process and is well rewarded.

Attraction for males: The man filters based on physical attractiveness. When he sees an attractive chick, he has a desire to get to know this attractive chick more. In his early 20s Casanova likened this to a book with an attractive cover making one interested to read its contents. Even today men concur.
Attraction for females: Women filter based on strength of character. They want this strength of character because they want someone else to take charge, but this someone else must also be strong and disciplined enough not to abuse this privilege. Most girls mistake crudity of behaviour, rudeness, and a do or die attitude for strength of character, and so go for the jerks.

Men are made, not born. Inner strength, regardless of how one comes across it, is still inner strength.

“Most guys here are making it harder than it actually is. You do not have to become some mythical ‘alpha male’. You don’t need to play a ‘Psychological Chess’ with them. You don’t have to have society in awe of you. You just have to simply go ask them out. Instead of facing this simple fact, we spit out and regurgitate ‘alpha male’ manifestos, treatises on women and society, and so on.”—Pook

“The strangest thing has occurred to me on this forum. I came here looking for love but discovered life. Now, it is not a love for woman or women, it is more a love for life. Do you guys feel this way? It is like we have been given a second chance to get life right, a Second Life as gift.”
– Pook

I wouldn’t dare say I know everything about women now. But I do know more about them than 95% of guys my age do, thanks to Taken in Hand. I also know that many people do not reach this level of understanding until they have gone through a divorce or two. That’s why I’m posting here to support the site: to let you know that you have helped me immensely, and that I am thankful. I could never have figured this out on my own.

“I gave up trying to figure out 'how to get women' and 'understanding women' because I kept coming back to defining men. Just as you cannot define day without defining night, so too you cannot define women without defining men.”

And now I must stop theorizing as I have been doing for a long time, and go out and apply all that I have learned. Many thanks to my parents, Neil Strauss, John Gray, David Deida, Sosuave and its members The Pook, Anti-Dump, Senor Fingers, Jay Julio etc., and of course, Taken in Hand and its legion of brutally honest women who are not afraid to voice their deepest desires despite all the detractors! I have a lot more left to give my girlfriend, and now I know what she will appreciate the most. Some will accuse me of reshaping myself to fit what women want, but what is a man, if not what women want? If real men are truly in such short supply as this site says, then I am glad that I have invested so much time into learning about this, especially at my age, for now I truly know that I am the Great Catch.


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Women over 30 "settling" for nice guys...

Welcome Andrew. It's nice to have a new voice in the forum. As one of those women over 30, I wanted to put my two cents in.

I have never dated a man in his twenties. Never. Even as a teenager I could see that the overwhelming majority of men in that age group didn't have a clue about what a woman wants—and, I think, didn't have a clue about what they wanted from women. I'm speaking in generalities here. There are, of course, exceptions. But having at quite a young age skipped right over the boys in their twenties to dating men in their thirties I can tell you about these so called "nice guys" that Pook apparently has such disdain for.

What attracts a woman to these guys isn't, as your friend (?) Pook suggests, that they are settling for nice spineless guys because they couldn't catch a real man. The simple fact is that many men (though, admittedly, not all) don't come into their own, thereby gaining that quiet confidence that attracts women so readily, until somewhere in their early thirties. That's been my experience, anyway.

Too many guys in their twenties haven't learned to value a woman they have just met for more than her physical attributes and the sexual pleasure they believe she has to offer. They are either unaware of their own emotional needs, or are not mature enough to face up to the feelings of vulnerability that connecting emotionally with a woman can bring out in them. They don't acknowledge their own emotional needs and they generally aren't overly concerned about hers.

I don't mean to give impression that these young men are not good people or that they don't deserve to be loved. They are simply not ready for love. And when they are ready, they will start to look a heck of a lot more like those "nice guys" Pook accuses women in their 30's of "settling" for.

The truth is there is nothing more alluring to a woman than a man who knows himself, knows what he wants, knows what she wants, and knows how to give it to her. And if she tends to date guys her own age, chances are a woman won't find that kind of man until she reaches her thirties.

I encourage you to keep up your quest for understanding the subtle mysteries of a woman's heart. You may be one of those men you gain "quiet confidence" well before age 30. And there will undoubtedly be a number of ladies who are grateful that this is so.

My take

Dear Andrew,

as someone who is in his mid-twenties as well, I do not feel I should give tons of advice. However, I am blissfully married, have read all the PUA-stuff as well (including Roissy, etc.) and can only recommend Athol Kay's MMSL website, which I am sure you know as well:

On a related note, settling worked great for me. Your mileage may vary. But having loads of sex partners can burden later LTRs substantially. Some posts by Athol that should be read:

BTW, Athol Kays book should probably be listed as a "Taken in Hand" book. He even links to this site, which I think is a rather bold move.

People are not all the same

This is all very nice, but not all women want a Taken In Hand relationship. This site appeals to women who are not necessarily typical of all women. And many women do prefer 'nice guys'. How else can one explain the great popularity of Hugh Grant, for instance, who makes a speciality of playing diffident, gentle men?

Many women are happier in an egalitarian relationship, or even being in charge themselves. Likewise not all men want to be in charge. There is no one infallible recipe for attracting the opposite sex.

For that matter, there is quite a variation among the individual preferences of people on this site.


"nice guys" vs nice guys

First off: thank you Moon Child. Pook's not a friend, he's a member on a board that I chose to read more of than other posters. This certainly explains why many women prefer men who are older. It also means my advantage is limited to only 8 more years, quite alarming :p

Second: I personally don't want to get married before having experienced many women, but things are going swimmingly well... and I sometimes consider it. As for the 10 critical things, I agree with most of them, but especially agree on the smoking rule—it's a huge turn off, and it's always been rule #1 for me when looking at girlfriends. I don't mind if she's not a virgin—but it does irk me a bit that I didn't get there first.

Third: where do I start.

What is a nice guy? Between males, especially frustrated ones who had little success with women, a Nice Guy is one who falls too quickly and deeply in love, who buys flowers, who opens doors, who basically obssesses himself into love with a woman, who is afraid to make the first move, who confesses, who wonders "does she like me" while plucking petals from a flower.

When females say they want a nice guy, they don't really want that sort of nice guy. The male version of the nice guy would buy drinks and dinner for you because he thinks he'll get a point in his favour that way. But that is incredibly far from the truth. In the woman's point of view, he is making himself a doormat for her to step on. If a female did that to a male, that would not be attractive for the male either. He would think she was being too easy.

You like Hugh Grant's portrayal of nice guys because even though he plays nice guys, you know he isn't easy. Why the hell would he be easy? He's famous, rich and a movie star! You assume he isn't easy, that's why you're affected when you see him portraying a nice guy.

Now that we've clarified what we mean when we say "nice guy", let's move on to some cold hard facts. Judge by actions, not words, as the saying goes.
1. Women want dominant, strong men first, nice guys SECOND.
Do I need to explain this? Seriously? Given my personal experience, which I laid out in the beginning of this article, and the amount of girls who cheat in marriages or give up several year long relationships to be with some jerk or asshole? This happens ALL THE TIME, and it makes me puke whenever a girl comes around to male dating advice forums and say "no please, listen, what i really want is a nice guy". Heck, even my girlfriend did that to her first boyfriend—and by her own admission, the second was a total jerk, lied and cheated. Hopefully she is now a better judge of character—and because she's crazy about me, I assume she's now a better judge of character :)
The man has to be dominant first, and the fact that she has made a dominant man be nice to her strokes her ego and makes her feel good about herself. It doesn't matter which definition of "nice guy" you use, the woman will always go for the man who displays more dominant traits, and try to make him be nice to her.
2. The PUA community says "display these particular dominant traits and she will be all over you" and PUAs are very successful. Taken in Hand explains why these particular traits make the PUAs successful. That is the main point of my article.
3. It is known that all women throw out shit tests. The PUA community knows that, but cannot explain why. The PUA community suggests that women test unconsciously. Taken in Hand explains that shit tests are intended to test for strength of character, and admits that women don't even know why they throw shit tests, but still feel better when their man passes them. Given that all women test for strength of character, and 99% of women do not approach men (that itself being a test), it is a given that all women want stronger men than themselves. Why else would they want stronger men than themselves, if not to be led? You say that not all women want a Taken in Hand relationship, but this follow directly into my next point...
4. We all know that what women say is not exactly what they want. Keeping that in mind, Taken in Hand does explain a lot of mysteries about why women behave the way they do, and that is why I use the material here while formulating my own theory about women.
5. A woman who trusts me and is willing to follow my lead turns me on. I am not looking for a one size fits all solution, but I strongly believe, having read Taken in Hand, that all women want this.

Hope I didn't come across as being too bitter.

10 things

Well, I read the list of 10 things to look for in a wife, and apart from being a non smoker and there being not much chronic illness in my family I don't have any of them, so it's just as well my husband wasn't that picky. My husband has his faults, but he isn't such a conceited ass as that man is.

I think myself that a nice guy is a man who isn't a creep who goes around with a list of things he wants a woman to be, and rejects any woman who can't measure up to his list. A nice guy is a man who is interested in a woman as a person, and doesn't treat her as if she is just a thing.

I think the reason why many women are attracted to the characters Hugh Grant plays is that they are charmed by a man who doesn't think he is God's gift to women, and has a certain diffidence, a certain dithery charm. While not my personal cup of tea, I can see what it is that some women find appealing, and that is what makes me sceptical that what all women are looking for is a dominant man.



"I think myself that a nice guy is a man who isn't a creep who goes around with a list of things he wants a woman to be, and rejects any woman who can't measure up to his list."

So you're saying a guy who has a list of expectations for dating a woman is a creep?

Umm, we all have lists.

Successful relationships occur when that list of "must haves/must not haves" is relatively short, and is focused on truly important values.

On my "must not" list:
No smoking
No crappy attitudes/chip on the shoulder
No militant feminists

On my "must have" list:
Bright, sunny disposition
Intelligence (she must be very intelligent-I want us to share knowledge)
Emotional Intelligence
Comfortable in her sexuality

I see having this list as knowing myself and what I value. I don't want to spend the rest of my life with a woman who's missing any of my "must haves" or displays any of my "must nots".

Guess I'm just a creep. :D

Wimpy hugh grant

Your description of Hugh Grant and the characters he plays makes him sound like a milquetoast!

Let's look at definitions:
Diffident—"lacking confidence in one's own ability, worth, or fitness; timid; shy"

Dithery—"state of flustered excitement or fear."

Both of these descriptors seem to be a reflection of the (misguided version of) the feminist ideal of men. I have no respect for men who behave like this, nor do I have male friends who act this way. To be honest, I don't even know any men who act like this!

Now in regards the 10 Things to Look for in a Wife, while I don't agree with his specific requirements, his overall idea (and justifications for each point) make sense—he has a thinking process that works for him.

While he's recommending his list as "the" list, no one's list will work for you but your own. It's about developing your own list of very specific items that you require or won't tolerate .

Why is this anathema to you? You seem to be "ok" with his requirement for non-smoker only because it fits you. And I daresay you had a list before you married your husband...even if you weren't conscious of it. Would you have married him if he were a emotionally and physically abusive? Probably not—so obviously those were on your list.

Clearly you and the author would not be a good fit, because he has requirements you don't match, and you think he's an ass (so "no marrying an ass" is on your list). Apparently his list works, and keeps him away from women who aren't a good fit for him (and vice-versa)!

You're being quite contradictory here—you close with admitting not all women are looking for the same thing—so obviously women have "lists" of what they're looking for...why is it so wrong this man has his own? These are his criteria—rather hypocritical of you to condemn him for his desires when you also have a desire that is not very mainstream/conventional (i.e. spanking). Would it be ok to condemn you for that?

I'm trying hard to not be insulting, but your condemning the author is terrible. Isn't acceptance of others "kink" part of the mantra of this very website? If you want to criticise his writing and ideas then fine, but condemning the author would be just like me calling you names for being hypocritical about your own wants and needs, and for being (by your own admission) difficult and troublesome for your husband (behaviour for which I would use a specific pejorative).

One of his requirements is for her to have a healthy family background. I completely understand this and would put it on my list too—I've dated "crazy", and it's a very clear line from the family's insanity to her own (thank god I got away from that). Why would I want to marry into a family of crazy? I do have to contend with that family (in some form or fashion) for the rest of my life.

Is this an absolute? No—but one should consider everything about a person—"Can I live with the level of drama/crazy/dysfunction her family has?" If you can, then great, if you can't, then better to move on and find someone with a healthier family.

It may not be a popular idea to recommend you walk away from someone because of their family, but the reality is you can't separate a person from that—their family will (almost)always be in their life. Do you want to spend the rest of your life dealing with the pressures and stresses caused by a family that's not understanding, accepting and supportive?

Would you marry a person who drinks a case of beer every day?

Would you marry a person who never bathed or brushed their teeth?

Would you marry a person who (happily/voluntarily) worked in a field you find reprehensible? (e.g. baby-seal clubber)

Would you marry a person who was always breaking dates or interrupting dates because of some manufactured family drama?

Would you marry a person who's in the final stages of a terminal disease?

Would you marry a person who was infertile (or chose to be "fixed"), and having children was critical to you?

These are all questions only you can answer, but they do reflect a "list" of requirements/expectations that each of us has- whether consciously clarified or not.

The author is simply recommending we take full conscious ownership of these questions.

Hugh Grant characters

Bobtc, are you seriously claiming that Hugh Grant characters aren't appealing to women? Isn't he like a major sex symbol for women? Louise said his dithery diffident characters are not her cup of tea but plenty of women seem inexplicably drawn to them, and they're not all feminists.

This is getting away from Taken In Hand though. I'm sure Louise can speak for herself but I think when people have a list of requirements it can come across as a bit clinical or conceited despite the fact that as you say we probably all have a list somewhere in our mind when we're choosing a mate. But sometimes you can have a list of requirements and then when you meet the right girl your list suddenly seems irrelevant and you find yourself wanting THAT girl despite the fact that she doesn't meet your list of requirements.

Clinical and conceited

That explains exactly why I found that man's article about his list offputting, it did seem clinical and conceited to me. I wondered what he would do if he met a woman who had, say, 8 of the things on his list,but not the other 2. Would he reject her on those grounds? And what if he didn't tick all the boxes on her list? There appears to be no room on his list for love, which I find rather sad. No room for any warm human emotion.

And yes, Hugh Grant is enormously attractive to many women. I myself, although not personally attracted to him, am always pleased when he gets the girl in one of his films. There are other things apart from dominance that women find attractive.


Room for Love


Just because you can't see "love" on his list doesn't mean it isn't there.

This should go without saying, but attraction, lust, love are givens when discussing relationships. Without that, people would never approach each other!

We know people are attracted to each other—what he's advising is a list to help make a decision to date someone based on something more than just the attraction. Something that reflects your true values.

Who knows what he would do if someone only met 8 of 10 requirements? That's clearly a value judgment for him to make. Not me, not you, not anyone else. I can say if I met a woman who met 9 of my 10, and the one she didn't meet was smoking, there would be NO CHANCE of me continuing the relationship. (Fortunately, this is a non-issue for me now. My woman doesn't smoke). I've spent a good deal of my life alone rather than date women I wouldn't enjoy.

So what if he didn't tick all her boxes? He has no control over her "boxes", or what she chooses to do—that's for her to decide.I certainly hope no woman would continue with me if she didn't find I met her needs/values. You act as if this never happens. People go on dates all the time and never call back. Clearly something was missing—just in this case this guys' list clarified what's missing, rather than just saying something ambiguous like "oh, we didn't click".

I once dated a woman who wanted children—the moment she said it I knew our relationship would have to end. Why? Because my list included "doesn't want children". If I didn't have that list I could've wasted my time (and worse) hers. As both of us were in our late 30's, my list prevented me from squandering her time to find a man and have kids. But I guess my list was clinical and conceited, and that is more important than enabling me to not waste her time.

Re: The dead horse of Hugh Grant. Yes, many women incessantly claim they find Hugh attractive, or that his persona is what they desire. But by their very behaviour and choices it's clear this isn't true, as they continue to select men who don't act like him.

Again, this is no complaint—rather I find it entertaining. What people say and what they do is often contradictory.


The most creepy items on that list of Athol's are number 6 and number 7.

No.6 says she must be a virgin

No.7 says she must be prepared to have sex when the couple are engaged.

I find this quite nauseatingly hypocritical. On the one hand, he demands virginity in a prospective wife, but on the other hand he wants her to have sex when she's engaged, and advises dumping her if she won't. So what if she has sex with him when they're engaged, and then he dumps her before the wedding? That leaves her (according to his list) totally ineligible to marry anyone else. That really is grotesque.

Then there's the one where he says she must have B cup breasts. I mean, that is bizarre. Who goes around measuring women's tits before they decide whether to marry them?

I think myself that the comment from Wicked Shawn is the best one on that thread:

'I realise guys ask you this stuff. But your willingness to cave in and give them this bullshit list instead of telling them the truth, which is simply that there is no list of traits you get to check off, set sail and look to find the perfect mate. it simply doesn't work that way. Well, it disappoints me. So now,w hen some guy falls in love with a girl who is not a virgin, does he hesitate to marry her because he remembers your advice? Where does that leave him? Because as a man who has been happily married for years, I would think you know there are many factors to a marriage and someone who is so disconnected from the fundamentals that they are seeking this sort of list, they are truly not in touch with those fundamentals. These are the people who are likely to pass up that one true chance because there was a box left unchecked.'

As for Hugh Grant—I do believe that some women genuinely find him attractive, he's not everyone's cup of tea, but clearly he is some women's idea of bliss.


This and that

No.1: Lists
I don't really find the idea of lists bad. I do believe we all have them. I certainly do. For example, I am a chef and really care about good food. I am also very active, don't care much about television and love to travel. I could never be with a man who loves junk food, is a couch potato who sits in front of the TV all day and whose perfect holiday involves lying on the beach and doing nothing. I'd be bored to tears.
You need someone who fits your personality. Trying to change things that are really important to you doesn't lead to happiness.

Also, I have never been attracted to over-weight people. Which brings me to No.2: Quid Pro Quo.
If you want someone to have a certain character trait or physical attribute, you need to be prepared and able to offer the same. Here I agree with Louise. Athol wants a virgin, but I assume that is only relevant for the woman. (He is indeed hypocritical when he says he wants a virgin, but then she must have sex with him while they are engaged). As for the B cup breasts, I hope he measures up (bad pun intended) somewhere else.
If you want something special, you have to offer something special in return. If I want someone who is in good shape, I must be in good shape too.

No.3: Athol, PUAs and self-help books (again)
I don't understand why people look at these self-help books/websites/blogs etc. as if they were the gospel. They're not. So often, they are about nothing but one person airing his/her grievances. Quite frequently a disappointed person who wants to push a certain agenda. Or someone who is too much in love with him/herself.
Take everything they say with a grain of salt.

A few years ago "The Rules" by Ellen Fein was all the rage. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the author is divorced. 80% of her "advice" was completely ridiculous. The remaining 20% should be clear to everybody with half a brain.

Athol et al. are not the be all and end all. People are individuals who don't all act and react the same. Everybody who tells you they have a surefire way to success is a liar.

Jessica Rabbit

Are we reading the same page??

After reading the things written here about Athol Kay's list, I was quite surprised by how inoffensive the page is. He states quite clearly before he gives the list that this is his list and that you, the reader, may have a different list.

It does not seem to me that he is strongly suggesting other men adopt his preferences WRT breast size, etc. Other men clearly have very different preferences and reading Athol's argument for B cups would probably not persuade that many men with a strong preference for DDs. But who cares either way? It's his life, and if he knew he would feel repulsed by very large breasts etc it is surely better for him not to have married someone with that attribute (whom many other men would absolutely love!). Don't quite a few women reject men they find insufficiently endowed, or too short, or too skinny, etc? People have preferences in terms of appearance, and it is a grave mistake to suggest that these things are all nonsense and unforgivably superficial. Chemistry is absolutely vital in a marriage. Without chemistry, it is not a marriage, it is a house-share.

It really doesn't seem a creepy list to me, it seems rather charmingly enthusiastic about marriage. Note that he also said that he was specifically referring to the case of young people wanting to get married and have a family and stay married for ever.

Moving on to what he said about the importance of virginity, do note that he was not saying that the woman should be a virgin while the man is not, he suggested that both should be. In this respect, his argument was very like the one given by Rabbi Schmuley Boteach in Kosher Sex. Whilst it may be wildly unrealistic to expect anyone to be a virgin, and there are definitely some individuals who when single enjoy a lot of sex with a number of different partners without any ill-effects whatsoever, and who then go on to have an absolutely fantastic marriage (like Louise C.!), many others fail to create a good marriage because of the emotional (and occasonally physical) damage sustained in their dating lives. For example, they get hurt, and scared, and then can't trust, and that throws a spanner in the works of future relationships.

Moreover, when everyone is expected to be having sex without it being a big deal, for some, that causes problems in their ability to connect passionately sexually, because in their psychology, no matter how hard they try to be laid back about it, they are not, and pretending that they are fractures their integrity and causes difficult problems.

Do read Kosher Sex if you like Athol's list. Rabbi Boteach's argument is very persuasive logically, and I get the feeling that Rabbi Boteach wants everyone to be happily married and have phenomenal sex with their beloved spouse. I find the book charming anyway. But I'm sure many won't.

I also did not find it hypocritical of Athol to say that having sex during the engagement was important. It is a fact that some individuals have quite severe sexual problems. If sex is as important to you as it is to me, and evidently Athol, I don't think it is entirely unreasonable to want to make sure that your prospective spouse isn't completely devoid of sexual interest in you before you do something as drastic as getting married. If you are a Taken In Hand sort of person, you are not going to be thinking of having sex with other people if your spouse turns out to be unable or unwilling sexually, so what is so wrong with that? I do think spouses need to be really into each other sexually for the marriage to be good. I know conventional marriages are more like house-sharing arrangements but that is not my idea of a good marriage. Why not just have a house-share if sex isn't something you think important?

Athol also suggested taking a look at your potential mate's family to check that you would not be marrying into a mad house. Athol Kay has experience in the field of mental health. In my experience, this is on the lists of just about everyone in the field. This is a permanent marriage with children we are talking about. Some kinds of craziness run in families. Some families cause their children to grow up crazy. Some families are not mentally-ill-crazy but are plenty 'crazy' enough to make life very miserable for anyone who married into the family. For example, some families have a lack of boundaries. That affects everything, and is likely to mean that your beloved will not be able to create a good marriage, because he or she is simply unable to leave his or her parents and cleave unto his wife, as it were.

I won't go through all the items on his list, but none of them seemed beyond the pale to me. I found his list rather refreshing.

to Psychologist

Well, it may not seem odd to you to demand that a woman be a virgin, and then insist that she must be willing to have sex with him once they are engaged.

This strikes me as highly unreasonable. A woman in this day and age who is still a virgin is likely to be one who believes in waiting until marriage. But according to this bloke's list, if she isn't willing to shag him once they are engaged, he should dump her. But then if she has sex with him, and then he dumps her, that renders her, according to his estimation, unfit for marriage. So what is she supposed to do then, I should like to know?

As for the 'mental health list' you will see if you inspect it closely, that cancer is included as one of the things in a family that should make your spouse unmarriageable. I understand that one in three people get cancer eventually, so that makes an entire third of the human race, or anyone related to them, unmarriageable by his criteria. That narrows the field rather drastically.

This list has got some very odd things on it indeed. As for who cares, well, if you don't want people to comment on your personal preferences, don't write about them on the internet.

And I for one would have been extremely annoyed if my husband had demanded to measure my bust before we got married. Here's a laugh though, I was a B cup when we married, but now I'm a D, so that would have really pissed off Mr Athol if he'd married someone like me!


Condemning personal preferences

I've avoided discussing what's actually on Athol's list, because it's a distraction from what's really important—the idea of the list. I look at what's on his list as "by way of example"—what he uses. His list =/= my list and should =/= your list.

Cancer—Do I think it's a smart thing to have on the list? No. But I'm in no position to judge him on this one—I have no idea what his life experience has been. Perhaps he's experienced some incredibly painful losses to cancer in his own family or friends, and wishes to do as much as he can to avoid that for himself or his children. It's his choice.

Crazy—As Psychologist pointed out—dysfunctional families suck to deal with. I've dated the "crazy chick", and while it was exciting, dealing with the crazy family that created her wacky personality was no picnic. Boundary issues? OMG, you can't imagine. That relationship was about 2 years...I can't imagine what another 50 would've been like. I'm so glad I escaped that one, and I would never again get involved with someone who's family showed similar dysfunction. That girl has since married someone who apparently can handle her crazy—they're still married as far as I know.

Breast size—Again, it's his thing. He has to choose the balance of the list. Whenever you choose to exclude for something, you reduce your pool of possible matches. So he likes/is attracted to women with a certain breast size. He's chosen to accept the exclusion it creates, and even commented that he knows they won't stay that size. I'm a little defensive about this, because you're also condemning me for my dating choices in this case—to me breast size is a perfectly reasonable differentiator. I'm simply not attracted to women with large breasts, so have never dated them (my reasoning is different than his). But according to you this is wrong of me. Maybe tonight I should tell the most wonderful and amazing woman I've ever met that our relationship is a failure because breast size was important to me, and part of what I find attractive about her.

Ah, the strawman again: "well what if she changes?". Of course she's going to change. Athol clearly stated having such a list is for use during selection, to help prevent letting attraction alone make all the decisions.

Again—it's about a list of things that you find are critical to you. I would generally advise choosing items that you find necessary (or impossible to deal with) that reflect a persons' character. But you can't ignore the attraction part—if you know you find a certain physiological trait really unattractive, then dating a person with that trait is not smart. Since you have little to nothing invested when initially meeting people, filtering them out for things you find challenging to accept can be's what we already do. This is just a formalized version.

It's clear you find his personal choices offensive. I say to each their own, provided their intent isn't to hurt someone.

Many people find Taken In Hand to be offensive, to the point where I would venture most of us on this blog never discuss it in public. How is your condemnation of him any different than people who condemn us?

Personal preferences

I don't think I ever suggested in any of my comments that anyone should go out with someone they don't find attractive. but it is the cold-blooded elimination of someone on the grounds that they don't have a precise set of characteristics from a list that I find weird. i mean, you find someone really attractive and interesting, but then you find out that someone in their family had cancer, so you dump them? That is really strange.

And it's the wanting a woman to be a virgin, but then demanding that she bonk him before they are married that I find extremely odd. That seems to be highly unfair to me. A woman who has preserved her virginity thus far is very likely one who wants to wait until marriage, but if he insists she have sex with him, and then she won't, she's going to get dumped. Dumped if she isn't a virgin, but then dumped if she won't give it up before marriage. A no win situation.

I find them ridiculous rather than offensive I would say. And as I have said before, if he doesn't want comments on his lists of personal preferences, he shouldn't put them on the internet.


Labels, Self Reflection, and Requirements


"Bobtc, are you seriously claiming that Hugh Grant characters aren't appealing to women? Isn't he like a major sex symbol for women?"

Please don't intentionally misrepresent what I said. Nowhere in my words ["Your description of Hugh Grant and the characters he plays makes him sound like a milquetoast!"..."Both of these descriptors seem to be a reflection of the (misguided version of) the feminist ideal of men."..."I don't even know any men who act like this!"] do I say women don't find this attractive. I would never make such a statement, and to even think in such terms demonstrates a narrow, simplistic (and in my mind, offensive) view of women (or humanity). And I also never said "only feminists" were attracted to them—that's your misrepresentation of my words. I said it appears to be a "misguided version of a feminist ideal". Non-feminists can share an ideal with a feminist, just as an atheist, theist, deist, or Buddhist can share an ideal but have a different "faith". Just because one shares a certain ideal with someone else doesn't make them members of the same group. If this weren't true, there wouldn't be two major parties in US politics. It's just that this ideal seems to have root in a perverted form of an (otherwise healthy) feminist ideal.

Any archetype is attractive to some women/men. Some archetypes are attractive to many women/men. Others are attractive to most women/men.

As a matter of fact, I point out that Louise's descriptor of Hugh Grant/his characters sounds like a stereotypical misguided version of the feminist ideal of a man. For the last forty years this ideal has been represented as "what women want". This representation is clearly inaccurate—this is what some women say they want. It just happens to be what's vocalized more than anything else. Yelling a viewpoint louder or more consistently doesn't make it more true than the reality of what most women consistently choose (and again, there's that old bugbear of some/many/most—people's choices exist on the bell curve).

If the Hugh Grant milquetoast archetype was what [all/most] women really wanted and chose, then this very website wouldn't exist, there wouldn't be posts such as this one, and you'd never hear the lament that many women say they want nice guys, but seem to more often choose the "jerk"—because women would be choosing those "nice guys"!

Mind I'm not complaining about any of this—just observing. I have no issue with an individual being attracted to one thing and choosing another. Attraction is not a choice. Attraction is a deep-seated, non-rational reaction—there have been many women I've been attracted to over the years—I didn't date all of them because I chose not to date certain ones, for reasons beyond my basic attraction to them (my list). As it is I have no problem attracting women—this isn't bragging, but rather I've accepted that what women find attractive is evidenced by their actions, not their words (just like with men—observe what they do, vs what they say.)

You acknowledge that "...we probably all have a list somewhere in our mind when we're choosing a mate.", yet still you label his approach as "clinical" somehow inferior to some other process as yet undefined and amorphous. Apparently the efforts of reflection, honest self-examination and self-understanding are to be denigrated over living a life merely reacting to gut-level attraction and ambiguous requirements.

We all absolutely do have a list—it's just that most people let it remain some kind of ephemeral "feeling", rather than take responsibility for it and spend the time and effort to do some careful introspection and self-examination to understand and enumerate what is truly important to them.

How many times has it been advised (on other blogs geared toward long-term relationships) to love someone less for their looks (irrational initial attraction) and more for their nature, their personality, who they are. A "clinical" list is merely a tool to ensure the people we choose to keep in our lives meet our long-term goals (or short-term, depending on what a person wants). Above all, it requires us to be conscious, engaged and responsible for what we choose.

People in certain religions exclude others all the time—they refuse to marry (or even date) outside their religion—this is an act of having a "list" (I'm sure there's more on their list than just "same faith"). Is this somehow "conceited" or "clinical"? If it isn't, then why is any other list conceited or clinical?

That down the long line of our lives it's people who are the best complements to our nature that make the best partners, we must first understand our own nature and what comports/conflicts with it before a good partner can be chosen. Choosing requires exclusion—exclusion of those who would have the greatest conflict with your most basic nature, values and desires for our lives.

"But sometimes you can have a list of requirements and then when you meet the right girl your list suddenly seems irrelevant and you find yourself wanting THAT girl despite the fact that she doesn't meet your list of requirements"

Here's the thing—if you have a list of requirements, you're far less likely to even get involved with someone who doesn't fit your requirements. That's the whole point of a list of concise, critical requirements—to keep you from letting some gut-level attraction override real conflicts of essential/crucial attributes of personality/nature. I would also venture that it's in moments like this that such a list is most crucial, in helping to prevent us from choosing someone solely on attraction. Just because I "want" her, doesn't mean I must choose her. Again—that attraction is not a choice—but how I act on it is. Deep connection—which comes from common values, ideals and goals—is what makes for long, satisfying relationships of limited strife.

Disregarding our own value systems for an attraction is a sure recipe for difficulty.

For example—I can guarantee I will never again date a woman who smoked. Period. Non-negotiable. This has been my number one on my own list for years. I will never compromise on it. This makes it something that should be on my list—if I were willing to compromise on it for some gut-level attraction (which I have in the past), then it clearly wasn't that important. This has meant that there are many women I've met (and been strongly attracted to) which I never chose to date. Note the strong attraction was there, but I chose otherwise. Attraction is not a choice—behaviour is. I can choose to act on my attraction, or not. I will no longer act on attraction to a woman if she smokes.

And before you use the strawman of "well people can develop new behaviours later in life, what then?"—that's LATER, after a relationship has been established. This list is to prevent me from initially choosing someone with attributes I find problematic. And for the record, if the woman I married suddenly started smoking (which I find pretty much impossible—I would only marry a woman who felt as strongly about this as I do), it would be a serious violation of our marriage vows. You may not believe me, but this would put our relationship in jeopardy—I wouldn't tolerate it. Just like people divorce someone who becomes a drunk, I would seriously consider divorcing my wife if she started smoking. (Actually, considering I'm on this blog, I wouldn't have to divorce her—she would know the rules, and I'd spank the daylights our of her for it until she quit! :D )

The key is to have requirements that are sound, and a limited number of them. Just like having rules in a relationship—they all have some. It's merely my contention that making those rules/requirements very clear and consciously considered is far superior to leaving them unconscious and amorphous, as often happens in "conventional" relationships.

Moderator—there was a great article on here about how Taken In Hand relationships require a level of frankness and openness to be successful which a "conventional" relationship can survive without. I think that would be a great link here—it discusses how crucial self-understanding is to a healthy, successful relationship.

[This moderator is not sure which article you wish to cite but if you find it, let us know and we'll add the link.]

I think what is "terrible"

I think what is "terrible" and insulting is that this guy has a following of people who seem to take his word as gospel, and here he is basically dismissing a large majority of the female population as being "not marriage material" i.e. unworthy of love and commitment. The problem is not that he has a personal "list"; I agree most people probably do consciously or unconsciously—it is that he is recommending his personal list for his followers.

And he is flat out wrong. I wouldn't have met much of his criteria as a young single woman; yet I have been married for 30 years to a man who adores me and feels grateful to have me in his life. I am sure many women who are being dismissed as unworthy will make fine wives to someone when LOVE is in the equation.

As far as crazy family members—well sometimes that isn't apparent when a woman is young. If one of her parents is diagnosed as mentally ill or develops an addiction after the couple has been married 10 years, then what? There is a reason "for better or worse" is in the vows, and love and commitment are what make you stick it out and take the bitter with the sweet. There is going to be pain, and illness and craziness at some point no matter who you marry. You can't save yourself from life by having a "safe" list.


Common sense

It's just common sense to have a list. I agree with most of his list but not all. Women have much longer lists in my experience but I don't take it personally. Statistically it makes sense to have the odds in your favor by choosing a less risky mate. Sure you might marry somebody that fails to meet all the criteria on your list but that doesnt make it bad to have a list. Nor does it rule out love. It's more like you have a list to stop yourself doing something stupid because you're in love--like marry a jerk or a psychotic crazywoman because they're so hot your brain's gone offline in your hormone-crazed lust.

A strong man

Andrew, a man who feels the need not to make any changes to accommodate his wife is a man with an ego problem: a man who has low self-esteem who is trying to make himself feel better.

In a marriage, both spouses need to be able to make changes to accommodate the other. I congratulate you for being a man able to do that, and your girlfriend is a lucky girl.

If she is the girl for you, marry her.

Lists, Love, and Livestock

Sure, everybody has a list, but when falling in love, there's a lot of slip and slide and give to that list because there are some qualities in the beloved that override whatever one thought important beforehand. That's why Athol is describing his wife. My list now includes: 1) smokes likes a chimney with the intention of quitting before fathering my children and prematurely aging even though I can't take him in hand, and 2) is some kind of crazy to match my own kind.

The market valuation of spouses reminds me of that essay "A Modest Proposal." It's just kind of gross.


People are inevitably virgins before having sex

I find Athol's stipulation of virginity a little rude too, but I don't think a woman who has preserved her virginity thus far is likely to be one who wants to wait until marriage. I mean all women have preserved their virginity before they have sex. I waited until I was almost nineteen just because I didn't know any men I wanted to have sex with until I knew my husband. I know that he likes that I was a virgin and in him I don't see it as rude. But he wouldn't have made it a requirement. On the other hand, I'm glad he had sexual experience. I don't feel like just because he was with other women he isn't mine. I feel chosen above them. I suppose some men feel like that about women with sexual experience, but fortunately, my husband didn't make that a requirement either.


Must be a virgin AND must have sex before marriage?

Well, I do consider it arrogant for a man to stipulate that the woman he marry should be someone who has known no other man, but then insist that she must be willing to have sex with him before marriage. Because he has also made the point that he doesn't want to marry a woman who has had sex with anyone else.

My point is that if the woman has sex with a man with this attitude, and then he dumps her before they are married, what is then to become of her? Since her lack of virginity will make her (according to Athol) unmarriageable to anyone else. So what is she to do? I find the whole thing very odd.



I agree that all of us have a list of some kind. It's not usually written down or even all that well thought out. But all of us have something we really want or don't want in a mate.

For me, it's alcohol. I grew up with an alcoholic mother and had to be the "grown up" who took care of both her and my little brother. I have no interest in dealing with drunks ever again. So my one hard limit is that my husband not drink.

So no, I don't see anything wrong with Anthol having a list. I think what bothers me about his list is that it seems so superficial. I mean really? A woman's cup size? THAT was important enough to make the list?

And I definitely see the hypocrisy in "she must be a virgin" but "she must have sex with me once engaged." By his own words he places value on virginity and then plans to ruin her value BEFORE fully committing to her. Sounds pretty selfish to me.

Another standard

There's an unspoken criterion: she will risk herself for sex with you.