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Fair enough, but it seems to matter. My country has released statistics claiming bisexual people are the most victimised people of all. This makes a difference in resources allocated etc.

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Hahah I've got nothing against flippancy. I was only curious about the response in the first place. And I appreciated your response. Are you bisexual yourself or responding on principle?

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I would agree with that. I don't see why what you want to fuck should define you.

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deletedMay 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023
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I think your assumption that the reason is that it's immutable is false. Whether it's immutable or not is irrelevant, however much it is brought up in rhetoric. The conservatives will say something like it's a sinful choice and because the lgbt have to respond immediately the have to disagree and say it's not a choice (which matches their internal experience) rather than the more fundamentally important but subtler to argue fact that it isn't wrong for any rational reason (which many people will be tough to convince because "ew gross")

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This is something I've thought about a lot and I think the problem with this line of reasoning is that it assumes a natural rights based approach from the outset where really it's a matter of consequentialism.

The short version is that the legal protections are deserved because there's a large attacking force to defend against. Without the legal protections, a substantial enough number of people would and were going out of their way to be awful to lgbt people that it meaningfully excluded them from participation in large parts of society and left them at distinct economic and social disadvantages (we called this "oppressed" for short hand)

Foot fetishists don't need legal protections because there's no large attacking movement motivated or capable of oppressing them. If there were, they would be deserving of the protections and I would be 100% behind them. This remains true for any such minority where the matter at hand is victimless. Pedophiles get no such protection because society has good reason to discriminate against them.

Now not every protection that ended up existing is necessarily appropriate or one I agree with, and the battles taking place are often as you say illiberal. I don't think anyone should be forced to make any kind of cake. Even if it really were the case that if people could refuse to make you a cake that you had no other option and got no cake, cake-having is not some important way of participating in society that we need to protect.

Employment however is, and sadly in the way we've built society employment is also largely how people in the USA access healthcare and engage in many or most of their social interactions. These are all ways of societal participation that are important and valuable both to the individuals and society and are deserving of protection, because it leads to improved outcomes in a high stakes way.

If the complaint is "but that violates my natural right to discriminate" I agree but don't care. We live in a society, delenda est. "Rights" aren't real, outcomes are what matters. Rights based thinking is a useful heuristic that we shouldn't do away with, but the outcomes is what it's all for.

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deletedMay 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023
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I believe you’re fundamentally disagreeing with Scott’s point in this post. The post is that bisexuality is real, but I get the impression you think it’s not because most people choose not to practice it in full effect. The law simply does not, nor should it, choose which sexual preferences should be protected - just that all are. I don’t see a cost difference to a business not being able to discriminate against bisexuals compared to homosexuals. I truly don’t understand what these costs, monetary or otherwise, that you speak of are?

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"You can discriminate against bisexual people but not gay or lesbian people because they can pass for straight" is going to immediately turn into "prove that you're actually gay enough to deserve protection," which is immediately going to turn into "this guy had a straight relationship while he was in the closet, clearly he doesn't "really need" protection from discrimination because he's already shown he was capable of staying in the closet." Such a policy would be seen and used as a backdoor way of discriminating against gay and lesbian people by forcing them to pass the appropriate purity tests.

Draw the borders of your discrimination protection wide, because people will inevitably try to chip away at the edges.

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deletedMay 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023
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Thank you for this well reasoned response. Something I love about these comments is that folks take the time to actually make rational arguments for progessive stances rather than just shaming and downvoting any non-progressive comments into oblivion.

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So why are religions in a protected class again?

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My point is that religion isn't immutable. People convert all the time. The inclusion of religion in protected categories demonstrates that a trait doesn't have to be immutable to be protected.

You can't fire gays or transes for being gays or trans for the same reason that you can't be fired for your catholicism kink.

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"If my religion and being trans are equally voluntary, why does one get priority over the other?"

It does not. A trans employer cannot fire you for being Catholic

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This feels like a quite idiosyncratically American perspective, "I can fire someone for doing something I find icky in their personal life" is not, as I understand it, the case for most European countries, and would be considered unfair dismissal, and something you could be sued for.

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<i>rather than the more fundamentally important but subtler to argue fact that it isn't wrong for any rational reason (which many people will be tough to convince because "ew gross")</i>

Objection, m'lud: the disgust instinct developed to protect us, and most everything we find disgusting is in fact harmful in some way.* Therefore, "ew gross" is in fact a perfectly rational reason for thinking something's wrong.

* If you think homosexuality's an exception here, I can only advise you to look up rates of STD transmission amongst gay men.

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It's a reason to *check* if something's wrong, but not to assume it, especially given how far we are from the ancestral environment.

Images of gross, probably pathogen-ridden things on a screen can trigger the disgust reaction for most people, despite the fact that there is no way for the disease to spread through the intertubes.

And lest you get too hung up on the homosexuality/STD link, by the same logic, checking into the rates of STD transmission among straight people vs asexuals might convince you there is something wrong with having a sex drive at all.

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>It's a reason to *check* if something's wrong

This check will terminate with a different result according to the person doing it, depending on the priors, risk tolerance, past experiences, etc... We never bat an eye when a person say they don't like flying, even though the numbers clearly show that flying is very safe, much more so than cars in fact. We still respect the people who decided it's too much risk for them, despite their flawed risk calculus.

But when it comes to homosexuality, suddenly you're not allowed to even think of the naughty conclusion.

>there is something wrong with having a sex drive at all.

I mean, a sexual conservative like me will very much give you a "Your Terms Are Acceptable" meme here. STDs are downhill from promiscuity, not homosexuality per se. It just so happens that (western, mid-late 20th century and 21st) homosexuals were/are promiscuous as hell, so they have some impressive numbers. But I equally well remember reading how STDs were rampant in, say, military camps (Nazis in 1940s France, US troops in 1950s Korea) because they heavily employ prostitutes. It's not really "having a sex drive at all" that is dangerous - although sex drive is indeed a bitch of a desire and the bane of the human condition for all of history - but when it comes to STDs in particular it's more like "having a sex drive and satisfying it by being a slut". You can hump your pillow or satisfy yourself with your hands for weeks and months and you will never catch an STD.

The fundamental trap for an atheist, a very cruel and deceptive one, is to realize that Religion and Tradition may have been wrong about lots and lots of things, all too many to count. But they are extremly good at one thing : Devising rules to hold society together. We don't need to adhere to those rules unconditionally, we just have to realize that they are there for a reason, and that reason is that they have been successful at holding society together. You see those ideologies saying "a merciful god created this [aweful] universe" or "a virgin woman gave birth", and you're awefully tempted to pee on every single thing they say, but no. Those ideologies are indeed a dumpster fire of wrongness and cruelty, but when it comes to sex and sexual dynamics they are 80-90% on the money.

And the most bitter pill of all is that most people aren't fit for freedom, sexual or otherwise.

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Uh, you seem to be responding to some straw version of me, or optimizing for conflict, so if that continues to be the case I'm not going to respond again, but here's an attempt at good-faith engagement:

> This check will terminate with a different result according to the person doing it

Yes, different people have disgust reactions to different things at different levels.

> We never bat an eye when a person say they don't like flying....When it comes to homosexuality, suddenly you're not allowed to even think of the naughty conclusion.

You're allowed to be disgusted by homosexuality, at least according to me. You're not allowed to shame other people for it or try to stop them. The same holds for flying - if you don't want to fly, that's up to you, but it would be widely considered crazy if you held a protest campaign against flying on the grounds that it's dangerous. (It would be considered pretty normal if it was on grounds of environmental harm, but that's a whole separate conversation.)

> I mean, a sexual conservative like me will very much give you a "Your Terms Are Acceptable" meme here.

Yeah, that's a valid way to resolve this.

> It's not really "having a sex drive at all" that is dangerous ... it's more like "having a sex drive and satisfying it by being a slut". You can hump your pillow or satisfy yourself with your hands for weeks and months and you will never catch an STD.

Yes, but that's just as true for homosexual drives as heterosexual ones.

> The fundamental trap for an atheist, a very cruel and deceptive one, is to realize that Religion and Tradition may have been wrong about lots and lots of things, all too many to count. But they are extremly good at one thing : Devising rules to hold society together.

Yes, I agree, there's a good reason the major religions were so successful for so long. I'm not sure why you brought this up, though, as I said nothing about my own religious beliefs.

> when it comes to sex and sexual dynamics they are 80-90% on the money

Maybe if you're optimizing for something very different than I am in society. Like, I don't disagree that you can run a cohesive society on conservative sexual norms, I just don't think it's the only or best way to do so. Also, these religions are optimized for a different time, in particular a time without contraception and antibiotics.

> most people aren't fit for freedom, sexual or otherwise

I empathize with this feeling - there was a point when I would have said the same, and it's still a thing I feel occasionally. People sure are imperfect and untrustworthy and irrational and self-destructive a lot of the time. I think most of the problem with this line of thought is that the alternative is putting a small number of people in charge, who are then also people with all the same flaws you're worried about in the general populace.

And when the quirks and flaws of the leadership go unchecked, we can quickly end up in some very bad places. At least when you give people freedom, everyone is pulling in different directions and a lot of the most horrible things average each other out.

(And if you're thinking "well yeah, *most* people aren't fit for freedom or leadership, but *I* am - I empathize with that too, but it's ultimately hubris, and exactly the sort of human flaw that makes dictatorship dangerous)

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May 7, 2023·edited May 7, 2023

>you seem to be responding to some straw version of me, or optimizing for conflict

How so ?

>You're allowed to be disgusted by homosexuality, at least according to me.

The "At least according to me" part is doing a lot of heavy lifting here. Certainly, when/if I get banned from a social media platform because I said "homosexuality is disgusting", telling them "Oohhh but oxytocin-love says it's okay to be disgusted by homosexuality!" won't yield any results to speak of. What good is that ? I'm sure that many Russians under Stalin were completely okay with dissing him till the cows come home, just not those with the guns or the power.

>You're not allowed to shame other people for it or try to stop them.

Eh, this is equivalent to "You're allowed to have different opinions, just be sure to shut the hell up about them", a familiar hallmark of plenty of authoritarian systems.

What *is* 'shaming other people' ? I'm not going to point and laugh at them, that's for sure. But can I point out the high rates of STD ? The rampant promiscuity ? The constant corporate pandering ? The creepy obsession with children ? The explicitly propagandistic "People will love us more if we make a lot of noise and control their favorite media" attitude ?

Is any of this shaming ? Does it matter ?

Almost every normative ideology involves "shaming" to some extent or the other. An effective altruist can be said to "shame" people who don't think carefully about spending their time and money on those in need, even the very name implies they are "ineffective" aka useless. A vegan can be said to shame meat-eaters by saying that killing animals is a crime (and I agree), calling people killers is not exactly a flattering thing. A muslim can be said to shame non-muslims just by reading the Quran. The part of the Quran that every good muslim is supposed to read 5 times a day, a part literally named "The Intro" in Arabic, contains this gem : "Those who You [God] are not angered by, nor those who had gone astray". How is that for shaming ? And believe me, "angered by" and "gone astray" are lot more harsh in Arabic than they seem in English.

If we're (generally) ok with all of this, why not with being anti-lgbt ?

>Yes, but that's just as true for homosexual drives as heterosexual ones.

Certainly, and I said as much. But in the current place and time we're in, it's a fact that homosexuals happen to be more promiscuous and less monogamous.

>I'm not sure why you brought this up

This was just a self reminder, since I'm an atheist who gradually and reluctantly came to realize that lots of religions are optimal with respect to lots of thing. I'm saying it because it's a subtle trap that's very easy to fall into.

>Maybe if you're optimizing for something very different than I am in society.

Yeah, and the million dollar question is, of course : how should we share a society then ? I don't want to be reminded of the sexual practices of people every day of my waking life for a month of every year, but saying this is apparently contraversial and will get those people doing it very mad ? I don't want kids watching cartoons to be reminded of that either, but alas, that's bigotry nowadays.

If we were living in a pre-nation-state world or in space, I can just pack up and find me another place to live. But that's not feasible in the world we happen to live in.

>the alternative is putting a small number of people in charge,

Well, clearly, some things don't need to have someone "in charge". Like I don't need an HR department and public corporate speakers to remind me of which pronouns I'm supposed to use in my everyday life, I don't need the management of social media plaforms to constantly throw rainbows at me a month of every year. People have been very okay for the vast majority of history with none of those made up bullshit authorities. And yet, as soon as we gave some group the freedoms they want, they made up those authorities and maneuvered for them to have a lot of power, and now lots of people must shut up and bear things they don't want to.

So the paradox of freedom is that more of it is less. When people weren't allowed to be a certain way, people didn't need to be worried about getting fired for using "he" instead of "she". When people were allowed the first, people now have to worry about the second. Asking for and\or giving Freedoms is a zero- or even negative-sum game, the more you play the more you lose.

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<i>It's a reason to *check* if something's wrong, but not to assume it, especially given how far we are from the ancestral environment.</i>

In the absence of countervailing evidence, it's generally safer to assume your instinctive reaction is correct. Chesterton's Fence and all that.

<i>And lest you get too hung up on the homosexuality/STD link, by the same logic, checking into the rates of STD transmission among straight people vs asexuals might convince you there is something wrong with having a sex drive at all.</i>

Heterosexual sex is important for carrying on the human species, what comparable benefits does homosexual sex bring?

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Sure, there's a reasonable argument (though not one I subscribe to) that heterosexual sex is better/more important/more moral than homosexual sex because it is important for carrying on the species.

My point is just that that's unrelated to whether it causes a disgust reaction or carries disease risk.

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<i>Sure, there's a reasonable argument (though not one I subscribe to) that heterosexual sex is better/more important/more moral than homosexual sex because it is important for carrying on the species.</i>

It seems rather nihilistic to dismiss the importance of something which is necessary for the continued survival of humanity, unless I've misunderstood you.

<i>My point is just that that's unrelated to whether it causes a disgust reaction or carries disease risk.</i>

My point is that, in the case of heterosexual sex, there are good reasons for engaging in it even without the disease risk (which, if you live chastely, is practically zero anyway). Homosexual sex is not only more risky, it doesn't even have the defence of being necessary.

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Can you support your second point? It doesn't seem in accord with Lawrence v. Texas, Obergefell v. Hodges, or, most relevantly, Bostock v. Clayton.

I understand why people invoke "born this way", but I've always thought it was weak sauce. I was born an American, I'll suck cock if I damn well feel like it.

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deletedMay 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023
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This sounds like Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s collective vs individual rights argument. Don’t think that was ever resolved in Canada though, much less in the rest of the world. http://schools.yrdsb.ca/markville.ss/politics/lauren_slt.html

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

What special protections do you think the LGBT community has over and above any other citizen? Protections for sexual orientation includes heterosexuality. You just don't hear about cases of heterosexual discrimination because heterosexuals are almost never attacked for that specifically. The problem is clearly that you think of LGBT protections as "elevated" laws, when in reality they are laws designed to bring LGBT people back to the same level as the average person.

And It's fairly obvious that people like Solana are wrong: it's much easier to attack and take rights away from a group that is smaller than one that is larger.

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On the level of laws, I agree. On the level of laws, whites are also just as protected as blacks, males just as much as females. We all know that's not the case in reality. How many male-only awards, support groups, or fellowships, have you seen? How many people in liberal circles use "black female" as a derogatory term, as opposed to "white male"? In reality, women, LGBT people, and racial minorities (except Asians) *are* being put on a pedestal and treated as ubermenschen.

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What percentage would we assign long covid as psychosomatic? Is media coverage propagating both bisexuality and long covid to the same people? In that case, does segmenting based on media sources affect incidence?

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Speaking on the basis of one case, my sister claimed to be over long Covid long before she was. She still isn't over it (frequent memory lapses...improving gradually). So how much denial of long Covid is psychosomatic?

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Perhaps 7 partners before marriage seems low to you because you don't know enough people who marry the first person they date. If anything, 7 seems too high to me.

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probably a difference in mean vs median. Another factor is that most people you date probably date more people than you (mathematically).

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If you (Scott) have been part of a polyamorous scene where some people have 7 partners at a time, the folks marrying high school sweethearts are part of your dark matter universe.

The range seems very, very wide. There are already many articles, posts, books, etc. out there about what happens to the dating pool when the people who want to and can get married quickly do so, leaving others with high search costs and long search times in the remaining dating pool.

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Huh, as a woman who is in two 10+ years relationships with *both* my highschool sweethearts (male and female), I knew I was statistically unlikely, but now it seems on whole another *level* of unlikely.

(If anyone wonders about the variables, we're all cis, in a closed relationship, have demonstrated bisexuality for all definitions, and are tending towards being more interested in women / disliking strong masculinity in partners. And we're not in the Bay Area.)

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It *is* a bit unlikely, but on the other hand "a guy with two girlfriends" is the most common quote-unquote polyamorous configuration *and* IIRC by far the most stable. Most people in your situation just don't identify with the ideology or use the terminology of polyamorism.

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That's not exactly our situation, we are more like a V with me (female) in the center. My partners are growing closer over time, and we're all a family, but we started out as more of "a guy with his girlfriend, and the girlfriend with her girlfriend."

But I don't want to be nitpicky - you are completely correct that we don't identify much with poly "ideology" and we are not really in a poly scene or community. We have one or two poly friends, but we are relationship-wise more similar to our mono friends. And I do hope that you are correct with the assessment of "the most stable" configuration, that's our intention, anyways!

The thought that there are a lot more people in a similar "configuration" is actually really nice, I hope they're all very happy. :)

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That's great! Here's hoping for continued stability.

And yeah, I think (agree?) that who's in the "middle" isn't much of a germane distinction here, especially since to the casual observer you guys probably still look like "a guy and his two girlfriends".

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May 5, 2023·edited May 5, 2023

It's the most mediagenic, I guess, as it plays into a common male fantasy, but from what little I can from scraping Reddit for 'what are your demographics?' threads the most common configuration is in fact MFM, i.e. girl with two boyfriends. (Elisabeth Sheff says the same, though I don't entirely trust her.)

There's a simple combinatoric explanation. If you assume equal numbers of men and women, then the possible configurations are MMM, MMF, MFM, MFF, FMF, and FFF. But if male bisexuality is a no-no (as many people here seem to say), the extra men who would be in an MMF configuration will instead be in an MFM, raising the numbers of that configuration. Surveys seem to show more polyamorous men than women, which would further increase this effect.

I have other, less PC explanations, but I'll let those go for the moment. ;)

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The most mediagenic? My intuition is that it's the *least*; contemporary media would want to portray the guy as some kind of predator almost compulsively, whereas a woman with two boyfriends would be depicted as an uncomplicated case of personal liberation, complete with jokes about how "just one man isn't enough" etc. that would be absolutely unacceptable to make in reverse.

As for the Reddit statistics I'm afraid I trust those about as far as I can throw Reddit. I think the nicest way to phrase it is to just state that Reddit draws its userbase from a nonrepresentative sample of the population, although like you I can come up with significantly more precise phrasings which are uncouth.

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May 5, 2023·edited May 5, 2023

I was thinking more blue-collar tabloids like the Daily Mail, etc., which are ironically more conservative now (which means less misandric...funny how the world works these days). As far as a middle or upper class MSM outlet like the NYT or CNN, you are absolutely correct.

Yeah. I don't really have a sense of the larger poly world TBH. I suspect because of what you describe, vees (situations with two partners in a relationship with a third person but not each other) with a male 'hinge' will not identify as poly and be in groups, whereas vees with a female 'hinge' will, and the second will be the type to wind up in think pieces on polyamory. But since polyamory is poorly looked on and actual polygamy is illegal, I suspect a lot of poly situations lay low and keep their mouths shut.

What seems to be very common in my limited experience are extended 'Z's with numerous people each dating two, usually alternating M-F-M-F-M...

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I don't think they are alien in the way creationists or the Amish are, there are lots of slow life path blue tribe, college graduates who get married at 28 to someone they have dated for 10 years

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

Yeah, if we are just speaking anecdotally, I would have guessed way less than 7 partners. I grew up in a stereotypically liberal setting with liberal non religious friends and family,, and I don't think I could name a person I know in real life with more than 7 partners period, but I could name a bunch with 1.

I personally married(last year!) my first ever partner, as did my sister, parents, parents in law, and both sets of my grandparents. Some aunts and uncles had 2 or 3 partners before, as did my wife and brothers in law. And with wedding season upon us, every one of the 8 wedding I've gone to/will go to this year or last, the couple are either each others first or second. And once again, these are not Amish people or Evangelicals, rather to use an example of a couple who I knew each individually since elementary school, set them up in college and know for a certainty are each others first, they are atheist vegan socialist artists in LA.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023Author

Did anyone you knew use dating apps? Did they all just prove perfectly compatible with the first or second person they met on the app for a first date, and end up marrying them? I'm really curious how this worked.

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Not OP, but my family is similar. No one used dating apps (in fact, they are frowned upon). I still don't quite understand how it happened and how the divorce rate is so low (1 in 8 for couples close to me, and I can't think of any divorces in the extended family, although I may be forgetting). I can only hypothesize they have a lower threshold for what makes an acceptable partner for marriage / a higher threshold for divorce. There is definitely local cultural pressure for marrying one of your first partners. Seems kind of magical from where I'm standing, but they seem happy in general.

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Have you been living in stable social groups where it was possible to know a fair amount about a person before you started dating them?

Is it possible that there's a (genetic?) trait which makes it easy for people to find a good partner?

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My first guess would be some sort of matchmaking or vetting process by older members of the extended family, possibly subtle and indirect. Usually people are better at making decisions for themselves, because they know what they want, but a teenager who's never had a serious relationship before might miss clues of a good or bad longer-term match, while the clan elders' collective algorithm has been trained on a much larger dataset, and includes data about early-childhood behavior from before the teenager in question was biologically capable of properly forming memories.

That still leaves some risk of principle-agent problems, though, if the elders' interests and those of the potential new household become misaligned.

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Scott do you count going on one date with someone as having "dated" them? Because I don't, personally.

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I think this is the critical question: what is the definition of "dated"? Do high school girlfriends count? Is some level of sexual interaction required, or does "went out for coffee a few times" count? I have been in relationships where we debated whether or not we were dating, so I am leery of accepting any number without it being very clear what it means, and seeing that it was VERY clear in the survey so everyone responding is likely to agree on a meaning.

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I never understood this either.

Still can't come up with a good definition. Requiring sexual interaction seems too much: imagine two people in love, who are either too young or too religious, spend three years each afternoon together, kissing, holding hands, and planning their future, then they break up... I guess this counts as "dating". On the opposite extreme, two totally drunk people fuck in a bathroom of a bar, five minutes later they do not remember what happened... probably not "dating". Exclusivity? Then polyamorous people are by definition never "dating". Are one-night stands "dating"? I think, people would probably answer differently depending on what exactly happened. Prostitution is not dating, even if the client happens to be in love. Spending an evening with someone you have a crush on, when you perfectly know that nothing more will ever happen, because one or both of you are married, and you are not the kind of person who cheats?

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Well, dating was always considered differently from "going steady". But there are still a huge number of edge cases.

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I think it's usually some kind of measure of *relatively* exclusive intimacy, which obviously is often physical but doesn't have to be. I say relatively because (a) polyamory exists and (b) i think it's fairly normal for a non poly person to be early dating two people at once

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I think "assessing whether they want to continue being in a relationship with each other" reasonably encompasses what people consider dating. Though, of course, "relationship" is also a subjective term.

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Yes, "dated" seems synonymous with hooking up amongst the media, younger elites, etc.

Traditionally, it meant more like a long(ish) term relationship....

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Well, if you're going that route, just what are the boundaries of "a date" anyway? Exactly where you draw the lines makes a big difference.

E,g., does walking a girl home from school count? What if you stop for a shake on the way? Etc,

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> Did they all just prove perfectly compatible with the first or second person they met

This speaks to a view of finding partners as a complex optimization problem, where you're trying to find the perfect fit for you over various factors.

In reality, it's more of a binary "is this person sane enough for me, and weird in the right ways, not the wrong ways? are our ideas about lives basically alignable?" question. Once the answer is "yes", the rest of it is about _making_ the relationship excellent, which is necessary whether or not the person seemed to click perfectly with you initially.

It also helps that most places are not the melting pots that California or NYC are. That immediately increases the chances of the answer to the above questions being "yes" significantly a priori, and then the fact that you asked them out (or vice versa) also increases that chance.

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It probably also depends on the age of marriage. Younger people are more flexible. Older people have decades of habits, it is more difficult for them to adapt to someone having decades of different habits.

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But also way different standards of what acceptable means, and I'm not talking about "settling "...

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And all people who do not have obvious red flags are already taken.

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FWIW, my wife and I were never compatible...in all respects. There were places where we agreed, and places where we were extremely divergent. And that was an important part of what made our marriage work. She was extremely effective with people, and I am pretty good with computers. But we could support each other in our weak areas.

It's a lot more than just a binary choice. I suspect there may be a lot of pheromones involved. But you also need to be complementary. (And not have too many places where you really disagree AND feel you should agree.)

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I think most fellow Millenials/GenZers I know used a dating app at some point, but were just wildly and extremely unsuccessful. I tried for a while, got a grand total of maybe 15 matches, which translated into exactly zero dates. If you'd generously include a Tinder one-night stand in the category of dating, then we might get closer to that 7 average, I had college roommates who were successful enough on the apps to have that happen a couple times.

Because all of my married or engaged friends knew each other in the real world first, I think there is a higher baseline rapport and ability to judge compatibility. The way I met my wife is actually on topic with the rest of this post: we met in a mutual friends backyard, were friends for a year, saw each other at least twice a week at events, and I developed a crush on her. Her previous partner was a woman, so I assumed she was a lesbian, until she surprised me by asking me out. Plus, it's not like people are exactly rushing into marriage. Me and my wife dated for three years first, living together for two, which was considered a shockingly brief period of dating, the least amount of time anyone in my circles spent before marriage.

A cursory search for data finds that among women who got married in the 2010s, something like two thirds have 5 or fewer sexual partners. If we pretend sexual partners and number of people dated correspond closely (depends whether one night stands versus chaste romances are more common and which count as dating), than to get an average of 7 partners, we'd need the 18% of women in the 10 or more partners group to have had an average of 25 partners, which seems reasonably Pareto distributed. (source: https://ifstudies.org/blog/counterintuitive-trends-in-the-link-between-premarital-sex-and-marital-stability)

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No, they marry the first person they dated in high school. I know three friends that did this. I would bet that people that date and marry one person, have not been on apps.

Conversely, most people using apps probably don't consider their high school dates real dating.

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I think this question may reflect a remarkably optimistic view of how actively the average person cultivates their own preferences/priorities/life plan, how well they vet their partners, and how willing they are to move on from a relationship that isn't well-suited to them without pressure/forcing conditions.

+1 to anecdotal agreement that <7 partners before marriage is unsurprising when compared to many of the married folks I know (or even those engaged in unmarried, long-term relationships).

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I met my husband on a dating app when I was 29, and married him at 35. He's the only person I ever *seriously* dated. He'd had a couple of official girlfriends in college, but I was his first serious post-college relationship. Anyway, I think there's probably a lot of variation in how people define dating and relationships.

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Depending on the threshold for dating and if the number is supposed to include your partner I had between 4 and 1 prior relationships.

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I'm in the same camp. I'm hardly in a traditionalist religious community (secular, atheist, western), and I don't know many people who dated more than 3 people before marriage. But Scott is in a strange Californian bubble filled with polyamory, vice and licentiousness...

But 7 as a mean does make sense, though. If any Tinder meetup counts as a date, then something like 10% of people would probably be on 20+ a year. For a sample of 12 friends in my age range, a random sample of 'partners before marriage' would look like: 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 5, 6, 15, 50.

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The word "date" is used both to mean 'be in a relationship with' and 'go on a date with', so I think the question is just not well defined.

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This is also very much tied to geography.

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So as someone who is more attracted to women than men, but still attracted to men, I was told to just identify as bi, and this is probably a clearer communication. That said, I honestly wouldn't date a man again; once was enough for me to appreciate why women are concerened about men being predatory. I think that women have to deal with predatory men regardless of their stated attraction, but a man is much likely to if they just go about their life as straight-passing and avoid explicitly stating their preferences. Not that all men are predator obviously, but I think that enough of them are, and men aren't conditioned for the tools to deal with it, that that might be another driver for bi-male-dating trends.

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I don’t *quite* share this perspective, but my experience is fairly close. I might say my experience is “men are differently predatory and far more sexually needy / likely to be predatory /sleazy/pushy/manipulative for sexual purposes, as opposed to, say, financial gain…while also far more generous with their affection”.

For this reason, I have been known to recommend that even straight or mostly straight men —especially those without a good model of feminists misgivings about the male sex, or Untitled men who feel gross and helplessly undesirable after too many women’s studies classes in undergrad (I was once arguably both)— spend some time at gay bars to develop a better model of how the other half lives (positively and negatively). There are major pros and cons to being a piece of meat and/or appreciated for just being a person with a body, depending on how one wishes to look at it. It’s a very educational experience, especially if the experiment is conducted before one is 25 or so (“gay death”). But bring a friend.

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I've had a guy (maybe two) try to wheedle their way into my pants. It really drove home what I'd already seen women having to deal with.

No, I wasn't teasing you. No, I'm not leading you on. No, I don't feel sorry for your aching loins. No, I won't screw you to shut up your guilt trip. Sorry, buddy!

And that was without a credible threat of physical domination; I was (evidently) in pretty good shape at the time.

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Good on 'ya for noticing and appreciating what women in your life were dealing with before you were on the receiving end.

I was embarrassingly oblivious. Of course I knew in the abstract that (e.g.) rape was a crime that exists in the world, but I had zero ability to model the dynamics --or grasp their banality-- until I was subject to them. Oof!

A female friend who trained in an organization I dare not mention here made me aware of a subtler point I hadn't previously considered, having never been a woman, and being relatively green with respect to...uh...appreciating the subtler attentional dynamics of humans: saying no in these situations is even harder for cis women (statistically) because they often suffer from the opposite of the male disembodied nerd problem --she tells me she experiences too much embodiment for some situations, a struggle to decouple. Since affective empathy is mapped onto body sensations, my model is that this makes saying no when faced with those pressures that much harder.

Given the demographics of high-vs-low decouplers, I feel a bit daft for not putting this together until it was spelled out for me by a patient and perceptive woman, but it makes sense: affective empathy is experienced as body sensations. When a person can't decouple their thinking from visceral sensations in the body coming from another person's needs (i.e., the thing nerdy men are anomalously good at and struggle to prevent ourselves from doing), it makes sense that they are going to have a harder time with social 'soft' coercion than the aspy dudes we know and love (/are).

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It's a great point. Ironically we may be partially immune to subtler forms of coercion because we just miss the signals. (There was even a rule for it in an edition of GURPS as I recall...)

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From GURPS 4e:

> Clueless -10 points

> You totally miss the point of any wit aimed at you, and are oblivious to attempts to seduce you (+4 to resist Sex Appeal). The meanings of colloquial expressions escape you. Sophisticated manners are also beyond you, giving -4 to Savoir-Faire skill. You have many minor habits that annoy others (e.g., leaving the turn signal on while driving from Chicago to Albuquerque), and may take one or two of these as quirks. Most people will react to you at -2.

> Unlike No Sense of Humor (p. 146), you may make jokes – albeit lame ones – and you can appreciate slapstick and written humor. However, you rarely “get” verbal humor, especially if you are the target (roll vs. IQ-4 roll to realize you’re the butt of the joke). And unlike Gullibility (p. 137), you normally realize when someone is trying to take advantage of you, except in social situations. You are no more susceptible to Fast-Talk than normal, save when someone is trying to convince you that an attractive member of the appropriate sex is interested in you . . .

> This disadvantage is most appropriate for ivory-tower geniuses, aliens from Mars, etc.

I also feel obligated to link this incisive analysis of the underlying genre assumptions about psychological advantages and disadvantages: https://prokopetz.tumblr.com/post/172042354227/what-use-case-would-you-recommend-gurps-for-btw

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It's a good point, and GURPS is clearly of its time, as are most things.

I don't think I ever seriously saw GURPS as a model of reality. From what I know of the indie RPG world its role has been taken over by FATE or Savage Worlds anyway. I just remember reading through the book and laughing at the disadvantage.

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I don't really understand what you are trying to say here. Do you mean that women feel empathy for the men that are sexually harrassing them, which makes it harder for them to say "no"?

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Thanks. I'd never thought about higher empathy making women more vulnerable.

I remember a moment long ago when it hit me that hiss and claw were part of being female-- it wasn't just about being nice. Now I'm trying to figure out what I believed before that revelation hit me.

Context: I was born in 1953, long before the idea that dangerous women were cool.

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I was born long after 1953, but from my reading of old writings it seems to me that dangerous women have always been cool / highly attractive to at least a fairly large contingent of authors - I think of the grand tales of Cleopatra, of Amazon Warriors, etc - stories I always read with more than a bit of "wow she's so cool and amazing and attractive". In more modern times I think of Bonnie of Bonnie and Clyde, or Harley Quinn.

How would you describe the popularity-trend of "dangerous women are cool" over your lifetime (and history if you care to speculate)? I'd have guessed approximately flat, but always interesting to hear from those with longer memories.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

I actually tried being bi on OKCupid and had some of the same dynamics, though I'm well after the point of 'gay death' so it's not the same. Haven't tried the gay bar thing except very briefly and I was there for a general event so nobody hit on me. (Or maybe I'm just that ugly.)

I've come to the conclusion women and male nerds are just natural enemies on a social level, and while you can befriend any individual one (and even have semi-stable relationships, though I have to admit I've never actually been in love--could be aromantic though) fundamentally things that help them *as a class* hurt us *as a class*, and vice versa. Their liberation is our oppression, and vice versa.

Of course from utilitarian and evopsych-based virtue ethics you should then throw male nerds (who are after all much less numerous than women) under the bus (unless you're Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, and they can take care of themselves). Nobody cares about the rights of less-successful men--we're evolutionary dead ends.

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No. This frame of reference is an evolutionary dead end. Being a male nerd is not.

You are an intelligent homo sapien male: an apex fucking predator.

As an apex predator, what need have you for rights? Let the ladies have them.

As a free thinking individual, what need have you for class? Why would you allow yourself to be oppressed? Leave the categorical reasoning to the pinko identitarian NPCs, while you charm and delight their girlfriends out of their ressentiment addled arms.

Being a male nerd brings some obstacles to overcome: disembodiment, non-verbal communication difficulties, social trauma, social anxiety, inflammation issues, akrasia, and self-loathing are common. These are real and worthy challenges for our hero, but consider what your competition is up against: there is no known cure for being a midwit!

And you don't have to figure it out de novo: you are amidst a tribe of men who have faced the same, and will gladly show you a way. There are better men than me that you could read or talk to (yashkaf comes to mind), but I'm available at +17034724104 (signal) or @georgejrjrjr (twitter) if you don't have a better resource at hand.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I've screen-shotted the number and twitter handle; you may want to remove them if you don't want random lefties prank-calling you.

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Any time, brother.

As for my number: it's public, as all phone numbers were in recent memory. Worst case scenario, I get swatted...in which case I enjoy the adrenaline, share a laugh with some cops, and make some lethal drinking buddies. Or someone hacks my bank account --the joke would be on them. As for calls from lefties: they're often quite cute!

It would be unbecoming for an apex predator such as we are to mind such trivialities.

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I wonder whether there's a way to build up one's social and existential confidence without this ugly Nietzschean grandiosity...

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Yes! There is a *much* better, gentler, more compassionate, pro-social, and ultimately more powerful option than Nietzsche, whose views I do not hold or endorse. But:

* Nietzsche seemed sufficient as a corrective to that helpless frame,

* The humble love-maxxing option is even more taboo around these parts,

* He takes more time to explain to a secular audience than I had for in that interaction.

* Even His adherents misinterpret His teachings as "be a doormat," which is not what Anonymous Dude needed there. (So did Nietzsche, incidentally).

The characterization of men as apex predators is just a matter of biological fact, so it has the benefit of being obviously verifiably true. I could have left it apolitical and that part could have been better, but I needed some levity.

Additionally, I notice nerdy men VERY OFTEN elide the parts of themselves you appear to be calling ugly, which I believe to be the source of Aella's Werewolf effect: when we suppress and deny the existence of the priors installed by the Goddess of Cancer, they don't go away. And when they do show up, they take over in ways which are in fact ugly (polite rat man -> werewolf), whereas a well-integrated and honestly acknowledged prior for "Kill, Consume, Multiply, Conquer" binds us ever more intimately to the service of the Goddess of Everything Else.

As for ugly, women don't seem to think so. What is unattractive and also dangerous in practice is being false about who and what we are as homo sapiens.

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In retrospect, I could have dropped Nietzsche completely, also omitted Wrfhf, and just stuck to GoEE, which is already well-loved and accepted around here:

https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/08/17/the-goddess-of-everything-else-2/

That was a helpful update, Jeremy, thank-you. I appreciate the query, that's what I'll do next time I feel led to propose a similar shift in frame. Not sure how to drop the apex predator bit, though, and I'm not sure it would be skillful to do so (but I'm open to feedback and updating, of course).

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>whereas a well-integrated and honestly acknowledged prior for "Kill, Consume, Multiply, Conquer" binds us ever more intimately to the service of the Goddess of Everything Else.

If I may ask, how so?

At first glance, this seems like an "at least I acknowledge that I'm bad" flavor of sentiment, which I don't see much value in, at least without further elaboration.

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>As a free thinking individual, what need have you for class? Why would you allow yourself to be oppressed?

You don't 'allow' yourself to get oppressed, you ARE oppressed. I couldn't exactly will myself out of homelessness, resources did that. I couldn't will myself out of hunger, resources did that.

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No, I am not oppressed. Nor would I choose that frame for myself or anyone else* if I could help it.

That does not mean I am not subject to circumstances that others would reasonably term oppression. Far from it. But I play for the people and the communities I love to win, deeply, at positive sum infinite games, and that means ruthlessly routing every trace of self-pity from my heart.

I have limited control over my circumstances, adversities, adversaries, convictions, conscience, and resource constraints, but I can always choose a frame of reference that highlights the affordances available to me within those circumstances, whatever they are. "I'm oppressed" doesn't do that, in my experience (I've tried! And I've been involved in and proximal to strains of activism that tried the same, with consistently disastrous results). It's also not a fun frame of reference to bring to friends and parties --it kills the vibe, which further isolates a person and saps their mindshare.

The counter-argument to this that I see goes something like this: but "oppression" is in an important sense descriptively correct. I could quibble, but I won't, let's take it as given that this is correct, "Oppression" is "Objectively correct", and so a maximally veridical percept classifying the situation in the brain, leading to a maximally veridical term for the situation, "Oppression".

The argument still doesn't hold, as Michael Levin's work shows: non-veridical percepts that maximize the availability of affordances available to a living organism are essential to the survival of intelligent systems. To be effective organisms, we simply must to hold the percepts that maximize our opportunities for skillful action.

https://twitter.com/drmichaellevin/status/1157659546116116480

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26384988/

This is especially critical in adverse circumstances.

*One EXTREMELY IMPORTANT caveat: when someone is accused of oppressing or victimizing someone in any way, especially when they are in charge, they need to be held meaningfully accountable to that accusation, i.e., it should be investigated, taken seriously, and corrected by whatever means are available and appropriate. Not minding that EXTREMELY IMPORTANT caveat is how NIXIVM went to shit (along with a bunch of other high demand groups that said mostly true and important things while giving their leader a pass, often by treating the leaders conduct as ethical by definition): NIXIVM guru Keith Raniere would do terrible things to people and then accuse them of sacrificing their agency by framing themselves as victims when they complained. Obviously that is incredibly awful abusive gaslighting bullshit that must not be tolerated in any community worthy of the name.

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If Karl Friston is right, a person literally cannot move their own arm without adopting an action-oriented non-veridical frame. Per Friston, I have to set a counterfactual prior that my arm is above its present location for my arm to lift.

The postrat crowd talks a lot about hyperstition. Similar deal: one chooses to believe a plausible but presently counterfactual thing to make it real.

The metamodernist folks and the metarational / Chapmanite folks had a similar observation about post-modernism: sure, PoMo deconstructionism is descriptively correct in many important ways, but it's utterly useless for getting things done. Ergo, they set out to integrate those insight into an epistemically defensible that also provided affordances for skillful action (building).

Or, to take a negative example, I'll cite a personal failure of mine to select a maximally skillful frame up the thread: in an endeavor to provide a helpfully corrective frame for Anonymous Dude elsewhere in these comments, I unskillfully chose a hyper-Nietzschian frame of reference that Jeremy skillfully and correctly called me out on, when there were more agreeable and understandable tacts available to me. When I look at this in the context of my historical patterns of unskillful behavior, with a mind towards routing out self-pity in particular, here's what I hold as unflatteringly true:

I have a regrettable tendency to frame what I believe to be compassionate points in needlessly ugly-sounding ways. I one had a twitter thread that attempted to explain universal love as non-dual narcissism: I thought it was extremely funny in a perverse way at the time, but I was writing for an audience of like three people at best. Why might I do this dumb thing, repeatedly? What's the emotional payoff that would explain me persisting in my folly? My suspicion is that I'm courting misunderstanding via revulsion, which can feed an insidious pity party story that I'm just like too honest for people who haven't done their shadow work, or too clever for the rif-raff. Those disgusting beliefs that I infer I may have lurking in my subconscious, to the extent I hold them, are total horse shit: when I'm not feeling understood, it's usually because I am courting misunderstanding, writing badly, or just wrong --all common occurrences in my life.

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I've read yashkaf. Good stuff--wish I'd read it 20 or 30 years ago. (Though I'm not quite as enamored of polyamory as him.)

Hey, at least I saved some dough.

It was still very kind of you to put yourself out there like that. The old masculine virtues are not entirely dead, though I fear they are their own reward only.

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Thanks.

> though I fear they are their own reward only.

This seems like an empirical question to me. Let's assume my experience is irrevocably confounded by my androgyny: I have yet to meet a warfighter who couldn't get a date.

The hardest part of testing it seems to me that setting out to be 'more masculine' often ends up in a theorizing-and-larping trap instead of virtuous honesty about what we are and what we desire, coupled with a means of cultivating virtuous sincere desires --by which I mean those that would be mutually gratifying when fulfilled.

Modeling other people's preferences with 'System 1' is a relevant capability here that is rarely and ill-taught. Doing so implies internalizing others preferences. When other people's preferences are factored into one's own desires, indulging one's desires becomes self-evidently pro-social and extremely gratifying.

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Being 'more masculine' usually revolves around lifting weights and doing outdoor and mechanical stuff, not theorizing. Otherwise, you're correct.

And I've read yashkaf's blog and twitter, so I know what you're talking about. Heck, I only studied PUA so I could get enough 'attractiveness points' for a long-term relationship. The stuff about social proof (yes, you DO have to conform, the ex-hippies you grew up with lied to you) and not appearing too needy was useful, evo psych was useful as it removed a lot of the resentment (it's not just some stupid social thing, they're into muscles and popularity/status/money because they have evolutionary programming JUST LIKE YOU DO for a nice body), the stuff about negging I simply ignored as I figured I wasn't smart enough to calibrate it well enough to avoid real offense. It...kinda worked. I just never found anyone I really liked all that much to take the risk of getting wiped out in a divorce.

So, maybe aromantic. ;) Who knows?

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I will agree on the warfighters: I've never seen a combat veteran that couldn't get a girlfriend, although I only looked at the ones that were more or less in one piece, physically. If you're a young man who's looking at going to war to be more attractive...even if you survive you will pay an incredible price, and your survival is by no means guaranteed. The guys I knew that chose peacetime military service were usually better off for it, though.

"Become more attractive by going to war" is a pretty dangerous meme to have floating around in an industrialized country, though.

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I know happy marriages between women and male nerds. Perhaps it helps for the male nerd to marry a female nerd.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

I mean...yeah, but there aren't enough of those to go around. (Thus polyamory.)

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Women like nerds; they don't like men who are undersocialized, insecure, or monomaniacal.

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Oh my, I still have fond memories of going to a gay bar with a gay friend. I was treated like a princess and as you say it was eye-opening. I also had fun times going to a lesbian bar with a lesbian friend. Sexual banter or joking with no hidden overtones, (none of these women were interested in me as anything more than a friend.) a bit like throwing back beers with the guys, but also totally different.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

"There are major pros and cons to being a piece of meat and/or appreciated for just being a person with a body, depending on how one wishes to look at it."

Hmm... When I'm donating blood, I'm happy to play the role of "just being a person with a body" (or, an accessible bloodstream, supplied from bone marrow) for the duration of the donation.

<mild snark>

Does the Red Cross count as predatory when they are seeking donors? They are literally out for blood... :-)

</mild snark>

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Good snark.

> Does the Red Cross count as predatory when they are seeking donors? They are literally out for blood... :-)

Just to be super clear, I was being 100% sincere about getting a lot of value out of being able to walk into a context where I was a piece of meat. Definitely helped disarm some of my women’s studies related brain weasels to see that…actually being on the receiving end of male desire is usually awesome and affirming.

My actual hypothesis for the lesbian sheep phenomenon:

Dudes rock.

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Many Thanks!

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>And - this is something I’ve heard from all the bisexual women I’ve talked to - getting dates with men is easy, because men are horny and desperate and often ask women out; getting dates with women is hard, for the usual reasons that every heterosexual man already viscerally appreciates.

I have heard people on /r/actuallesbians complain about this constantly

Women just do not ask each other out, ever.

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The search phrase to use here is "lesbian sheep" or "lesbian sheep syndrome". Possibly stemming from https://boingboing.net/2001/12/04/i-encountered-this-w.html, possibly older.

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if 90%+ women are into women then they SHOULD ask each other out

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Perhaps women find having a partner much more 'optional' than men do.

If we specify 'partner' to be 'sexual partner' I have no doubt this is so; (though I'm sure people will disagree); but even if it's 'romantic partner,' well, a long-term partner is less urgent, and one can wait.

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I don't know about that. Who consumes all the romance novels? Most women's magazines are about relationships and beauty (which attracts a partner); most men's stuff is about gadgets, video games, cars, sports... there could be a substitution effect with porn, I guess, but as for the rest of it...

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founding

Women (and for that matter, men) are extremely good at not doing things they should do if they want their problems solved. Especially romantically.

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Today's absurd pan-adaptationist evo psych theory is that female passivity in dating is caused by the fact that 90% of women are potentially bisexual, thus those that were active in asking people out ended up with other women 45% of the time and had less children thereby.

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Nice one!

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What is the evo-psych explanation for the 90% number though? Doesn't seem to be a particularly useful trait at the first glance.

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Forget monogamy, imagine an alpha male surrounded by a group of women. Is there an evolutionary advantage in being attracted to the alpha male, and also being able to make stronger coalitions with other attractive women?

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Could be something about social bonding to help with mutual aid in terms of childcare and defending against violence from males and so forth. (see bonobos, sparta, etc.)

(and of course the real answer is it's a spandrel, outside of panadaptationist story hour)

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Spandrel? As in dragged along as humans self-domesticated themselves? If so, could you say more?

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

As I've heard the term used in evo psych, a spandrel is any feature that is the result of evolution but was not itself selected for.

For example, bones are white because of features about bones (ie their material composition) that were selected for, but whiteness of bones was not in and of itself selected for.

Saying here that whatever these arousal tests are measuring, it's probably a side effect of other things that were selected for (plus environmental effects), not something strongly selected for on its own.

(possible that this term is used differently in other circles)

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The weird thing about this entire discussion is how much it focused on socio-psychological rather than biology. At base, this is the most important biological issues, with a gazillion years of evolution at play. Presumably. there may be some simple physiological explanation, akin to how some people can't smell the "effects" of asparagus, or dislike cilantro, or are lactose intolerant. That is, self-reporting that X might visually arouse is very different from the physical reality of whether X smells/tastes right to you when in close contact, etc. Whether it's pheromones or some other type of receptors, this could just be a simple physiological reaction that's shared across both A and B, making both "attracted" to B.

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Yeah, it's stuff like that that makes me take evo psych less than seriously. They've got theories for everything, which are hard to test. It doesn't even make sense--at least some of the men you ask out would wind up marrying you.

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That stood out to me, too. I have serious doubts about the correlation between genital arousal and actual "I am attracted to X" numbers for that reason. If nothing else, it bombs the notion that women shouldn't ask each other out more because apparently there is an extremely high chance other women are into that. 90% seems really high for that to me.

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I assume part of it is that before birth control, if women wanted sex without risk of pregnancy then other women were probably the best option.

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Should? You underestimate the strength of early conditioning.

I have a notion that gender roles are about crippling men and women in complimentary ways to force them into couples.

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"getting dates with women is hard, for the usual reasons that every heterosexual man already viscerally appreciates" - someone should build an app for this.

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They tried, I think. Not sure what happened.

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It worked so well that people didn't end up using it for long. So they made a bunch of bad ones instead.

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Hmm so you need to reverse the incentives. You only pay money to the app if you are in a happy relationship... and not using it.

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So, regulate the matchmaking app as a public utility, funded by something sort of like a land-value tax on the sanctity of marriage? Interesting concept, but you'd have a hell of a time trying to build the political coalition necessary to actually implement anything that smells so much like eugenics.

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Despite my cynicism about evo psych, I have to give Diana Fleischman credit for trying to do something about the stigma around eugenics. Always seemed to the problem with the Nazis was the mass murder, not the eugenics. The Commies did mass murder too, and they're still sending me silly videos on tiktok about the proletariat and liberals being fascists.

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Well that is not what I was thinking. But I don't know how you would make it work. My 'vision' was that I promise to send (say) $100 a year to the match-making company. (lets say for a max of ten years.) As long as I'm still with this person they found for me, I keep paying them. There is an obvious incentive for me to lie and say we broke up, even if we are still together, to save the $100. I'm not sure how to deal with that.

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> My friend explained that the acquaintance was *mostly* lesbian but a little bisexual and it hadn’t come up before. This distinction ended up being very important to me, and I don’t know who it serves to encourage people to hide it.

Well, if people constantly go around claiming that bisexual women are straight women trying to be trendy, and you want to signal that you actually want to date women, and are willing to reduce your chances with the generally-less-attractive-to-you gender, there's an obvious tradeoff to make here. It gets even more salient when you notice that on some parts of the internet, if you say you're a "bi lesbian" lots of people will yell at you, saying you're "gynephilic" makes it sound like you hang out with Blanchardians, and Kinsey numbers require people to actually remember the Kinsey scale to parse.

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I'm lesbian but I think I've been romantically attracted to a man once or twice in my life. I only want to sleep with women, but I don't doubt that there could be a right man for me out there romantically. I do doubt I could get over my repulsion to heterosexual sex. I round this all off to lesbian unless I'm in a deeper conversation about desires, the sort of conversation where straight men admit to being "a little bit bi." I've seen women absolutely pilloried for this kind of rounding in online lesbian spaces. However, in terms of quickly communicating that I am only looking for women, lesbian works so much better as a label than bi.

I wish bi lesbian or just straight up using the Kinsey scale was more common though. Bi lesbians using just lesbian has created an impression that all lesbians are flexible.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

I think the "who you actually want to sleep with" is getting discounted too much in these comments (not just willing to sleep with in extremis or otherwise, but really desire), and also "who you actually want to pair bond with" (again, not just on trial basis, but long term, whether that's one decade or many). And your comment captures the biological aspect, where some people/things are just repulsive, even if in theory you might think could work, or some people/things taste/smell/feel better, even if there are decent substitutes.

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I definitely had a strong negative reaction to "this ended up being very important to me" because it screams "main character syndrome." Like, she was signalling what she wanted to signal, so what if it means you personally are less likely to get your dick wet, lol.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

This seems needlessly uncharitable and rude. Not least because it seems like in this particular situation she _wasn't_ signalling what she wanted to, at least in the sense that the situation here is that _she_ was interested in _Scott_ and was at risk of missing a connection _she_ wanted by calling herself lesbian rather than bi. (If I'm understanding the subtext right, it sounds as if after the mutual friend's intervention they _did_ get together, so she didn't actually miss out -- but then neither did Scott.)

Also, the thing was literally half a sentence, in parentheses. Isn't there a useful distinction between "main character syndrome" and "sometimes mentions own experiences"?

Also also, what's with the insistence on gleefully rounding all male interest in anything related to romance or sex to "get your dick wet, lol"? IIRC Scott has described himself as something-like-asexual-but-not-aromantic, which makes this super-extra-inappropriate in the present case, but even in the general case this seems rude and dishonest.

[EDITED to add:] I should probably clarify that last paragraph. I'm generalizing when I say "rounding _all_ male interest in _anything_ ..." and of course all I've observed _you_ do is this one instance. But it seems to be a very common pattern -- in particular, a very common pattern when making criticisms of the general form "look at this man treating his wants/needs/desires as too important relative to those of women". And I think the world would be better with _less_ of that pattern rather than _more.

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Yes, Internet Syndrome strikes again...

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Okay, but if 90%+ of women are (latently, subconsciously) bisexual, then isn't the actual dating pool for them pretty much everyone? And as more women recognize/choose a bisexual identity, then the dating pools over time would skew more gender balanced, and therefore the percentage of bisexual women having non-straight relationships would grow over time instead of shrink?

Separately, I think it's possible that people use the term "bisexual" inconsistently. This post uses a definition based on arousal/attraction, but that's not necessarily the driver of partner selection. Suppose we accept 90% of women sometimes experience same-sex attraction, but suppose that of those, 90% exclusively want male partners for reasons unrelated to sexual attraction (child-bearing, non-sexual preferences, etc.). Is this a population with 90% bisexual women, or 9%?

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I agree with all of this; it's what I was trying to communicate with the three circles.

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If you agree that an increasing percentage of women identifying as bisexual should imply a growing percentage of bisexual women having same-sex relationships, what is your explanation for why we see the opposite trend in the data?

I think calling people who identify as bisexual today but wouldn't 20 years ago "fake" bisexuals is hyperbolic, but the data nonetheless seems consistent with a change in the social costs/benefits of queer identification rather than an increase in introspection or self-awareness.

I expect that long COVID self-diagnosis also correlates with political views. Is bisexual identification just a proxy for left-wing social politics & tribal pressures to emphasize the seriousness of COVID risk?

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

To address that last point, while I think long COVID is largely psychosomatic, the two people I know who complain of it are both right wing, one... extremely so to a unhealthy degree (and that's coming from a guy who would vote for the criminalization of sodomy to get the Pride flag propaganda out of my face.)

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I don't think it's *just* a proxy, I think it's probably *correlated*.

The other thing is that ACX selects for a specific subtribe of blue tribe (people have even tried to give it its own color!), such that bi people answering are, say, less likely to believe heterosexuality is problematic, I think.

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Increased social acceptance - 20 years ago a woman wouldn't have much reason to incur the social costs of identifying as 'bi' unless there was a woman they were actively trying to get with.

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Bisexual is a broad identity. Thirty years ago you’d have to be pretty bi to identify that way, or at least inarguably into people of the same sex to incur the social cost, so most people who identified that way were higher on the Kinsey scale. As social costs go down, more bisexual people lower on the Kinsey scale will come out, while still, y’know, being lower on the kinsey scale and more interested in dating more people of the opposite sex than OG identified bis.

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The study on attraction Scott used was testing arousal in response to porn, and it effectively found men are more susceptible to this form of arousal than women, which is what I took out of it, not that women have an inherent flexibility, but rather different mechanics for arousal.

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Yeah I'm pretty skeptical about drawing major conclusions based on "blood flow to genitals". Penises and vaginas are totally different organs, and the fact that blood flow increases in response to some stimulus doesn't necessarily mean you want to have sex with it.

I probably get slightly more bloodflow to my genitals when I see the word "SEX" (or at least I would have when I was a teenager); that doesn't mean I want to have sex with the word "SEX", just that it reminds me of sex.

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Agreed, though I think there's more to it than just physiology. I've been married for over a decade and my wife seems to have both a 'positive' arousal signal and a 'negative' arousal signal. If she's negatively aroused, the same things that might have made her feel positive about intimacy at another time will just piss her off.

As a man, maybe there's a similar mechanism going on inside my brain, but I'm certain she is more susceptible to 'emotional' signals in the way I'm more susceptible to 'physical' signals. So, "study found that men and women respond differently to arousal signals" is pretty close to the common complaint that, "they had to do a study to figure out common sense?"

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100%. Just reading your comment got the old bloodflow going. Just kidding.

I wonder how fMRI looking at whatever part(s) of the thinking organ light up when sexually aroused corresponds to "blood flow to the genitals". What would be the "gold standard", short of actual bonking (which would introduce too many confounders - too tall, too short, don't bonk on the first study, etc; also likely cost prohibitive), for sexual attraction?

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You could bonk two dead salmon together for your control group.

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The studies actually used nature documentaries as a control group, so close!

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Someone did try to do a study where couples would have sex in an MRI scanner - they mostly found that most people find it too unerotic, except one couple who were really into it

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Sounds like somebody needs to find some representative women at both extremes of the Kinsey scale, construct a test suite which can reliably distinguish between them (porn which excites lesbians but bores very-straight women and vice versa, different sensor setups, etc.), apply it to larger sample sizes, and iterate refinements until signals emerge from the noise.

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Reading the study Scott linked:

"The sex difference reported here has important implications for future conceptualizations of women’s sexuality. Sexual arousal, especially genital sexual arousal, likely plays a much smaller role in women’s sexual-orientation development than it does in men’s. Female sexuality, in general, may be more motivated by extrinsic factors, such as the desire to initiate or maintain a romantic relationship, than by intrinsic factors, such as genital sexual arousal."

It looks like the authors agree that you should not generalize this study about response to porn into a general assessment of sexuality. (Although in the discussion they state that if you're male and report a response to homosexual stimuli you might question your sexual preferences in a way that doesn't apply to women.)

What would it mean if we have to sample 10,000 women to see signal above noise in this experiment? If we see that signal, how would we interpret it? Certainly not by applying it to the whole population. "100 of 10,000 women display clear sexual arousal after exposure to [same/opposite sex] porn, therefore ..." We should conclude something meaningful about 1% of women, but not of the other 99%. If we're interested in general trends, it seems we have a decent experiment already - the one that Scott shared.

Perhaps we could use a different method if we want to understand female arousal. We could start by asking lesbian and straight women what arouses them, instead of defaulting to whatever arouses the male researchers. then repeat the original experiment using women's preferred methods of arousal and test whether we see the same weak gender preference in women.

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Open-ended questions should be part of it, but some of the basic things to try seem obvious - idealized hypermasculine (such as the helicopter pilot from the movie Inside Out) or hyperfeminine types expressing personal competence, romantic availability, and/or emotional vulnerability, rather than the sex act itself. Then do a hill-climbing search with questions like "what single change would make that last thing sexier to you personally / to a typical [x]?" Plenty of artists willing to take commissions for that sort of variations-on-a-theme work, and contribute their own expertise across the broader subject besides.

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It would be an interesting study. Although not interesting enough for me to do the minimal simple Google search to see if it has already been done, LOL.

I would note that the helicopter pilot was not the preferred mate for the mom in that feelings movie you mentioned, suggesting a much more complex underlying attraction function. I wonder if the attraction function for women is separate from the arousal function in a way distinct from how it manifests in men. Perhaps you need the former before you get a strong signal from the latter?

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90% potentially bisexual as measured by a simple arousal response; probably not 90% biromantic.

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If women are nearly equally attracted to both women and men, but men are mostly attracted to women, it will still be far easier for a woman to date a man than another woman. The women have lots of potential partners, but the men will be alone with only half the potential dating pool and will be more available.

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If I’m honest here I have to say what I’ve taken away from all this discussion is a desire to have another look at Kissing Jessica Stein.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kissing_Jessica_Stein

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Good movie, thanks for recommendation!

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It’s a charmer. I had forgotten Jon Hamm is in it. Oh yeah, and the ‘self defecating’ line. That’s what sold it to me initially. Watching now.

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FYI you mistyped a word as “defintional” twice.

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“Maybe they tune it out because of social conditioning, or because some other arousal system besides the genital one measured here is guiding their emotions.”

I think the latter need to be given serious consideration. For example, I believe I’ve read (could be wrong) that some women experience guilt when raped because they “responded” with, say, vaginal lubrication.

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Just want to clarify that this happens to men as well (both the physical response and the guilt).

But yes, genital arousal is not desire or consent, and this is a fundamental problem with all "objective" research on sexual orientation.

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Back when I was a teenager and in a vehicle driving over a particularly bumpy road, I sometimes used to get genital arousal without thinking of anything sexual, solely due to the friction of my genitals against my underpants.

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Doesn't the first graph support the idea that something pretty janky is going on?

If we've gone from 87% of bi-identifying women actually having female partners to just 45% since 2008, then something has definitely happened. I don't think any of your bullet-point reasons why a bisexual might date only men has changed significantly (apart from the stigma around same-sex relationships, which has decreased) so is it fair to say there's been a significant decoupling between "identifying as bisexual" and "acting bisexual"?

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I think in 2008, bisexuality was stigmatized enough that you would only identify as it if you were forced to (ie you were very strongly attracted to same-sex and definitely going to have some same-sex partners), and now it's much more relaxed and people will identify based on only a mild attraction even if they're not expecting it to go anywhere.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

In that case this really does seem like a pure boundary drawing question.

Based on this essay, my impression of your definition is that "any person with latent potential sexual interest in both their gender and the opposite gender at all is bisexual". Personally I would definite it as "actively engages in or has engaged in sex and/or relationships with people of both genders, or at least attempts or has attempted to".

From my definition, based on your rough numbers above, a strong complement of "bi identifying" people are in fact straight, and therefore identifying as bi for some reason other than actually being it. So I would be correct to be suspicious that some claims of being bi are not in fact genuine.

We can both be correct given that we're using different meanings for the same word and effectively talking past each other.

Though it's very much a free country and people can label themselves however they want.

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I find the idea that people have to have some experience with either sex to call themselves bisexual a little odd -- we don't hold the labels "gay" and "straight" to the same standard

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Fair point, though I did edit to include 'attempts or has attempted to', which is about as far as I'd consider it. I didn't mention the label 'asexual' but I would use it as a plug for anybody you think I'm actually leaving out for not having attempting or having attempted to have sex/relationships with either gender.

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Yes, thank you for making this point. Especially for those of us who are a little older, through high school and college I knew exactly one guy who was out, and it did not go well for him. Yes, I tried to drop hints to various guys, but when someone else would call me on it I'd always deny it, because it was the 90s. So no, I didn't find an opportunity to date a guy before I wound up marrying a woman.

That doesn't mean that I haven't been attracted to as many men as women, or have any doubts about being bi, it means I never found enough courage to act on same-sex attractions when it was far easier to just pretend to be like everyone else.

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I mean we don’t, but on the other hand if somebody says “I’m gay/straight” but never demonstrates any interest in sex with anybody, we might say, “are you sure you aren’t asexual?”

If a person has had a dozen partners and all of them are opposite sex, never having even gone on a serious date with a same sex person - at that point is it reasonable to say that there’s something more going on then just statistical availability of partners?

I think what Jacob and others here are saying is that a reasonable definition of bisexual would mean something a little stronger than “has the occasional same-sex fantasy they would never act on IRL” - it’s reasonable to think the identity would include some intent to actually pursue same sex relations.

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This definition implies that it's impossible to be a bisexual virgin, which doesn't make sense.

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I include "or at least attempts or has attempted to". which I think would cover anybody relevant?

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So there are no cripplingly shy bisexuals?

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

Or just like, introverted bisexuals, for that matter. The once a decade I can scrounge up the social effort and courage to ask someone out, at least if I pick a girl there's a ten-thousand-year-old script for her to gently reject me without confusion or miscommunication. Asking out a guy, even a confirmed homosexual guy, seems so much murkier i'm not even really sure how to do it. And I don't think that becoming less shy would change that, the existence of the hetero script is a really comforting presence.

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I'm not so sure that impossibility is completely unreasonable, in a way...

Let me split a hair:

If heterosexual/homosexual/bisexual is defined by what sexes one is attracted to, it may be reasonable to distinguish between naive attraction and experienced attraction. If a 15 year old virgin who has never had sex with either men or women claims that they are attracted to both, I think it is reasonable to come back to them and say "You don't have enough experience yet to be _sure_ of your own preferences. Tell me again after you've had sex with both and can say that you've tried them and you _indeed_ like them both."

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>So I would be correct to be suspicious that some claims of being bi are not in fact genuine.

No.

If someone is using a different definition of a word than you are, that isn't 'not being genuine'.

They are being genuine and just using a word differently.

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Very good point, bad wording by me. Rather, they may be being genuine but I would not consider them correct from my perspective

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Are celibate priests then by definition asexual, even if they are attracted to men, women, or both?

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<i>Personally I would definite it as "actively engages in or has engaged in sex and/or relationships with people of both genders, or at least attempts or has attempted to".</i>

Personally I'd add something about "would attempt to if they thought they'd suffer no adverse consequences" and/or "actively fantasises about", to cover people who stay in the closet due to fear or lack of opportunity or whatever.

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Arguing about definitions seems pointless, but the shifting definition might mean some concepts you used to have no longer apply.

I vaguely remember a fictional example where a bi character’s parent told them to just date the opposite sex. The character complained that being bi was part of who she was. While it may not have been the parent’s place to dictate to the character like that, the graph above suggests that for many bi people today, that particular part of the character’s complaint would not apply.

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This kind of feels like a distinction without a difference? Both of you seem to agree that “some nontrivial percentage of persons who identify as bi are not actually having any same-sex sex, and this percentage has gone up quite a bit”. The only real difference seems to be whether we say that bisexuality is “trendier now” or just “less stigmatized” which are just functionally equivalent terms with different emotional valence.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

It's a difference of false positives versus false negatives.

I think the "trendiness" accusation is (or should be treated as) a claim that the person is not really romantically/sexually attracted to people of the same sex at all (or at least, not at a nontrivial level). They are not disgusted by the idea, otherwise they wouldn't claim it, but they don't actually feel the same type of attraction to same sex people, which is the reason they don't end up in relationships with them.

Both sides agree that the popularity of the bisexual label has increased, and that this has caused the amount of self-reported bisexuals to increase, but the "trendy" side believes that the source of this increase is an increase in false positives, while the "stigma" side believes that the source is a decrease in false negatives.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

The fact that you call trendiness an “accusation” is why I assert that the main difference here is emotional valence rather than practical impact.

Both positions agree that the rate of people identifying as bisexual has gone way up without the actual level of underlying attraction (or maybe even the amount of bisexual same-sex sex!) changing much at all. And therefore the change in identification is down to social norms.

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Going back to the topic of the original post, it would be interesting to know how long covid rates are different between "active bisexusals" and "homo-celibate bisexuals" (homoincels?)

If homo-celibate bisexuality and long covid are (partially) fake conditions spread through social contagion, and actual bisexuality is not, then we might predict that long covid rates should be high among homo-celibate bisexuals (people especially susceptible to fashionable conditions) while actual active bisexuals have normal rates of long covid.

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This would indeed be interesting to know.

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We're talking about collections of individuals here, not statistical blobs. If it is becoming "more trendy" then the fraction of individuals who are not attracted to the same sex but say they are goes up; if it is becoming "less stigmatized" than the fraction of individuals who are attracted to the same sex but say they aren't goes down. Both things can be happening at the same time, of course, but they're completely distinct conceptually.

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By “attracted to” I mean “potentially aroused by”, not “willing to openly go on a date with”. Unless there has been some sort of rapid biological shift I don’t think that number has actually changed substantially since 2008. So in either case you have people who were not so attracted to the same sex that they would identify as bisexual in the social milieu of 2008 who did identify as bisexual in the social milieu of 2018. We can therefore posit that the threshold level of same-sex attraction required for the marginal individual to identify as bi has gone down (assumption - a higher level of same-sex attraction would result in a higher likelihood of engaging in same-sex relations). Whether the mechanism is reduction in negative incentive (stigma) or an increase in positive incentive (“trendiness”) the net result is the same.

It matters if you want to make a rhetorical point by declaring the marginal heterosexual of 2008 “repressed” or the marginal bisexual “faking it” in 2018, but I’m not particularly interested in either. I’m mostly interested in the fact that whichever was the dominant mechanism, bisexual self-identification appears to have a strong socially modulated component.

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I really wish Kinsey could've standardized on tracking "attraction to men" and "attraction to women" as completely independent variables, rather than entangling both of them with each other AND the attracted person's own gender identity.

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If I was a lesbian, how likely should I consider it that a given girl who says she's bisexual will consider dating me if I ask her out.

If it's less stigma, I should expect a lot more to consider dating me than if it's trendy. I would expect 'trendy' bisexuals to get really hesitant when actually approached.

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As rationalists, aren't we supposed to regard beliefs as helping us make predictions? We should be asking what we should be able to predict based on a person belonging in category X, where here X is "identifies as bisexual".

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

Sure, but for the purpose of predicting whether or not a given individual is sexually active in same-sex relationships, X is a very poor predictor. EDIT in 2008 it was a very good predictor, now it’s a coin flip

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You should be able to predict that they have the capacity to be attracted to people of multiple genders. Your orientation doesn’t imply that you’ve had any particular experiences. Otherwise someone would be baiting the incels by taunting them for not even being straight yet.

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What can we predict with that?

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> baiting the incels by taunting them for [...]

Absolutely happens out there in the less pleasant parts of the internet (and less commonly in real life situations). Doesn't make it correct, but that's definitely an angle terrible people use to be terrible to others.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

Wouldn't that mean the potential same-sex dating pool has experienced a dramatic increase since 2008? If previously if was nigh impossible to get a same-sex date because nobody was bi, yet 85% managed it despite a strong social stigma reducing dating pools, how have we come to a situation where it's now so much harder to find a same-sex date because it's so easy to be bi? This explanation remains opposite how I would expect to interpret that data.

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The population of identified bisexuals is not just larger, it includes more low-Kinsey (more hetero attraction) folks who wouldn’t have otherwise come out in a higher stigma environment. They might not view their experiences as “struggling to find a same sex date”, they may be living their best bi lives by dating the people they want to, who want to date them, and the largest population of potential mates are straight/bi people of the opposite sex.

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Do you think most of the growth in low-Kinsey women identifying as bi since 2008 is coming from places where stigma against non-heterosexual identities was high among the under-30 cohort in 2008? I think it’s at least equally likely that the growth is occurring in places where adopting a non-straight identity provides positive social cachet.

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The low-Kinsey explanation feels less like an explanation of the data than an attempt to explain that we should consider the data meaningless if we start by accepting an unsupported assumption.

Meanwhile, it doesn't invalidate the other interpretation of the data - that people who are not what we would traditionally consider 'bisexual' are increasingly identifying as such. Indeed, it seems to support that interpretation, if anything. In 2008, any low-Kinsey bi-identifiers would be expected to be LESS likely to have a same-sex relationship than in 2018, because the dating pool has (under both assumptions) clearly shifted since then.

The end result of either interpretation is that you have people identifying as bisexual who would not have done so 10 years ago, who remain exclusively heterosexual, and whose only change over the past 10 years is the label they apply to themselves. This seems like a distinction without a difference.

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One possible explanation is the shift to modern dating apps. They were less prevalent before 2008 (and many did not yet exist, for instance no tinder). The ones that existed also didn't rely on a swipe mechanic. 2008 itself would have been near-peak Ok Cupid and it would have been mostly website usage, and perhaps largely consist of non-mainstream people (a hetero male friend described it to me as such at that time, but I never went on it). Bisexual women may have relied more on these niche apps, and especially on third spaces specific to their type, which would have fewer men. So they ended up dating more women. The third spaces would have been even more of a factor the further back you go. (Living in San Fran up until 2004, I didn't know anyone who used any kind of dating web site, it was all third space).

Nowadays a bisexual woman can go on an app, and if she doesn't exclude men from the start, she'll likely be buried in attention from them in the first hour.

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A lot of thoughts here! In no particular order:

--Your definition of bisexual seems to be based on feelings of arousal. I understand it as more action-oriented. That is, it's not just about an abstract attraction to both sexes, but active participation in some kind of sexual activity or at least active attempts. In that way, it's not so much "accusing people of faking bisexuality" as having different understandings of the word. I think your statistics about how it can be hard to find a same-sex opportunity make sense, but it still seems a little too cute to call yourself bisexual if you possibly have never even had any kind of same-sex sexual experience.

--Relatedly, there seems to be a conflation of "dating" and "sex." If you want to have sex within the constraints of a dating relationship, I can imagine that might be hard to arrange, bisexually. But if you're a woman who just wants to scratch your itch to have sex with another woman--that's pretty easy to arrange.

--I don't understand how the bar chart supports your point. As I'm reading it, fifteen years ago (2008-2010), 87% of bisexual women had had sex with women in the previous 5 years. Now the number is less than 50%. And as you point out, we might expect a more flexible dating pool in the modern era, so the number of bisexual women who have had sex with a woman should be increasing.

--The bisexual men I have known were the ones with an absolutely raging sex drive. I never got the sense that they were particularly attracted to men--it seemed more like they welcomed action wherever it might arise. (I am certain this isn't always the case, but I think it sometimes is.)

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Is it also too cute to call yourself straight if you’ve never had an opposite-sex sexual experience?

Being bisexual means you’re attracted to people of the same sex, but it has no bearing on whether the feeling is mutual.

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May 4, 2023·edited May 4, 2023

> Is it also too cute to call yourself straight if you’ve never had an opposite-sex sexual experience?

I mean, kind of? Saying "I'm 100% sure I would love this experience I've never had" is an odd thing to stake an identity on.

I'm 100% sure that not every person who *has* had sexual experiences with the same sex identifies as bi or gay, because doing it *and also enjoying it* are kind of prerequisites. So I'm totally fine with the idea that someone who hasn't had sex at all isn't necessarily "straight".

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Hell, I've known many people who thought they were bi until they'd tried both and then discovered a strong preference one way or the other. I view all sexual orientations as tentative until people have actually tried the ones they're into.

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Absolutely agree. In some ways sexuality is a form of mental quantum state. You don't know what it's going to be until you open the box. Which is an argument for trying EVERYTHING. How do you know what you will like until you try it?

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My personal libido has always been pretty damn clear about which sex it is interested in. Maybe *some* people can't tell without actually having sex, but if so, their experiences must be pretty different from mine.

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