Friday, January 13, 2012

Manipulation . . . or Management?

I was discussing the Red Pill philosophy with an old friend from High School in a bar the other night.  He’s a musician from Reno who’s coming off of a bender, and is split with his wife.  Great guy, if you can handle the musician-inspired flakiness.  His wife couldn't, he didn’t fight for the relationship, game over.  It’s never fun to do a post mortem on a marriage, but my friend was looking for advice, perspective and sympathy, and he wanted it from someone other than his Mom. 

However, as I told him about the Red Pill and Game, and we re-hashed his relationship in those terms (revealing several important things about it he had never realized before) as is often the case when you discuss the Red Pill with a Blue Pill Dude, he got offended at some of the elements of Game as blatant manipulation, particularly in the context of a marriage.  He could understand a certain amount of dissembling in the pursuit of pussy – he’s not that bad off – but once in a relationship, he felt that “honest, forthright” communication in pursuit of an equitable relationship demanded no attempt at “manipulation”.

I thought about this a moment.  Then I pointed out that I’d been with Mrs. Ironwood for twenty years, and his marriage hadn’t lasted more than a few, and he shut up and started listening.

“You can’t think of it as ‘manipulation’,” I explained.  “When you’re in a LTR, it’s not a matter of a simple causal relationship, where you do one thing, and she does another.  In an LTR you are acting, and she is reacting, but the continual nature of the LTR means that you aren’t just getting a reaction, you are establishing a pattern of behavior.  That’s an important concept.  You aren’t manipulating your wife . . . you’re managing your wife.  Big difference.”

“I don’t think she’d see it that way,” he said, skeptically.

“That’s why you don’t tell her that you’re managing her, you just do it.  If you have to discuss it in detail, then you’ve failed.  That’s like her telling you ‘I want you to be more spontaneously dominant – can we go ahead and put that on the schedule?’  Or her getting flowers.  Or you getting a blowjob.  If you have to ask, it doesn’t count.”

“Why, that doesn’t seem very fair to her?”  Yes, he really talks this way.  He’s an actor, too.  Everything out of his mouth is a performance.  He’s got entertainment skills like mad, but when it comes to the Beta security-building skills . . . well, did I mention he was a musician in Reno?

“Is if fair for her to bat her eyelashes and ask you to do something you really don’t want to do, with the tacit promise of sex, and then she doesn’t follow through?”

“Well, no, not really,” he admitted.  “But I don’t expect her to—”

“Perhaps your expectations needed to change,” I interrupted.  “Hers certainly did.  She knew you were a musician when she married you.  She knew your ambitions and your potential for making embarrassing stacks of cash.  She knew all of this going into it, and yet her expectations of you changed.”

“Well, I suppose they did,” he admitted.  “We were fine, I thought, and then suddenly she just starts being unhappy, I lose my best gig, foreclosure, bankruptcy . . .”

“Of course,” I agreed, sympathetically, and ordered another Jameson’s.  “But consider that if she had felt strongly attracted to you during that rough patch, instead of resenting you and not feeling confident in your ability to bring home bacon, then she would have been loving, supportive, and encouraged you, not withdrawn, fearful, and already working out in preparation of finding her next dude.”

“You make a compelling argument,” he admitted.

“She’s always going to be happy, and then unhappy, and then usually happy again,” I observed.  “All women go through cycles like that.  As inconstant as the moon.  So trying to make her happy, and keep her happy, is going to be a losing proposition, day-to-day.  Without pharmaceutical intervention, she’s going to have biological cycles and hormonal cycles and work cycles and anxiety cycles all the time, and when they match up they can be a bitch.  The only way you can mitigate it is by providing order and constancy in her life.  You don’t do that by reacting to her every time the wind blows.  You do that by being rock-solid, and when the wind blows managing the patterns she falls into so that no matter how out on a limb she feels, emotionally, she can count on you to provide an emotionally safe place to return to.  If you keep dodging that responsibility in the relationship, then she stops being able to count on you, she loses interest, and you’re screwed.”

“But I don’t have a right to challenge her freedom and independence—”

“Why don’t you?” I challenged, myself.  “We give up a measure of freedom and independence in a marriage, in exchange for security and interdependence.  That’s the point: to make the union stronger than the individual constituents.  Think of your marriage as a ship: you are the hull, she is the sails.  If you are both the hull, then you don’t go anywhere.  If you are both the sails, then you don’t go anywhere.  Only by cooperating, embracing those ‘evil, nasty’ gender roles, and capitalizing on the strengths that interdependence grants us can we move forward.”

His marriage is doomed – we both acknowledged that – but he came away from that whisky-swilling, cigarette-smoke infused night of male bonding a wiser man.  He’s still a Blue Pill Beta, for all of his musical charisma and stage presence, but at least he’s aware of the Red Pill, now.  And he doesn’t see it so much as manipulation.

I went home and talked about this with Mrs. Ironwood a bit, and she agreed.  Again, she’s aware of some powerful changes in me and the relationship of late, but she isn’t really well-versed in the whys and hows.  But when I discussed the difference between manipulation and management, she reluctantly agreed that she occasionally needed to be “managed”, and that my firm stance on some issues gave her the freedom and flexibility to consider options without committing to a potentially dangerous course of action. 

“Does it bother you, to know I’m ‘managing’ you?” I asked her in all seriousness.  In another woman, this comment would likely inspire an evening’s tirade about disrespect and such, but one reason I married her is that she’s smart – crazy smart – and she doesn’t mind examining her own motivations and holding them to account. 

Or mine, for that matter.  She’s often been able to offer insights about what I’m doing when I have no idea myself. 

“Bother me?  Only when I think about it.  Most of the time, I just think you’re being commanding and decisive.  But you don’t ‘manipulate’ me at all.  I don’t manipulate well.”

“But you don’t mind being managed,” I offered.  She shrugged.

“Why should I?  I’ve been managed in every job I’ve ever had.  You learn not to take it personally, and focus on the good of the team.”

See why I love her?


  1. good read, and you're a lucky man


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