Use The Subtle Art Of NOT GIVING A F*CK To Get Ahead of 99% Of People | Mark Manson | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Use The Subtle Art Of NOT GIVING A F*CK To Get Ahead of 99% Of People | Mark Manson".
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- You have your finger on something that I am haunted by, which is that people are lost, they're scared in life, they've got a negative voice running on repeat. When they get into self-help, they make no lasting changes whatsoever. What's the answer to that? And how does the subtle art of not giving a fuck play into all this? - Starting with the easy questions. - I hope not. - Well, you know, a question that I've been, I've been in this industry for 15 years now, and I've written thousands of pages worth of content, I've recorded tons of videos, done hundreds and hundreds of interviews like this. So most of my careers, I've existed in the theory, and I did a little bit of coaching early in my career, but I've kind of hit this point where, you know, you can only talk about anxiety so many times before you just start repeating yourself. And so I've kind of come back to this question of implementation, like why do people read 12 books and then not change any of their behaviors? Why do we watch, you know, 20 YouTube videos and understand exactly what the perfect morning routine should be, and then we sleep till 9.30, you know? So I've been trying to think of clearly, like whatever the information's not the problem, there's something about the format that nobody has solved yet.
Self Reflection And Personal Growth
Nothing Works, Why (01:22)
I think really the only intervention that kind of consistently achieves behavioral change is a good therapist over many years. Like that has a high hit rate, pretty much everything else, like you're batting 10, 20%. - What is it about therapy you think that works? - I think it's the intensity and consistency of it. And I also just think it's, you know, you're paying a hundred bucks a session. There's only so many weeks you can show up and have the therapist basically tell you the same thing until you're like, okay, I should probably go do that. Whereas like you don't have a book, people aren't reading the same book week after week. They're not watching the same video week after week. Or I think maybe just having somebody in the room, like telling it to them has more impact in some way. So to back up a little bit, the problem with therapy is it's not scalable. It's expensive, there's limited accessibility to a large percentage of the population. There's a bunch of credentials, you gotta go to school for years to become an accredited therapist. So I've been thinking about like, what is a way, how do we solve the implementation problem? How do we make it easier for people to implement behavioral change, whether it's through apps, whether it's through, you know, video courses, you know, whatever, that's kind of like become the problem. I'm asking myself, I'm like zeroing in on at this stage of my career. - How did you change? So you've obviously had a pretty dramatic change for anybody that's read your book or seen the now movie. - Yeah, very impressive man. I gotta tell you.
How I Changed (03:15)
- Thank you. How did you change? Was it therapy? - Therapy was helpful. So I did therapy in my twenties for a few years and that was helpful. I think one thing that I'm particularly good at is I'm very good at like changing my mind about things. Like, I don't get too attached to aspects of my identity. Like it doesn't. I don't feel committed to like, oh, this is how people see me, so I need to behave that way. - How the hell does it pull that off? - I don't know. I'm like, we could dig into that. Probably a combination of nature and nurture, but I think I've been good throughout my life of like being willing to look at myself and be like, whoa, maybe I'm not an author. Maybe I just like had a good book. Let me go do this other thing now. - Are you doing that? Is that a real conversation? - Yeah. - Interesting. Given how many books you sold, I think people are gonna be shocked to hear that. - Yeah. - Million. Approaching 20 million. It's crazy. - Yeah, if you add them all up. - Yeah. - That seems like a fair thing to do. - Yeah, I'm very proud of that. And it's a very, obviously a very important part of my life, but I don't necessarily see that as who I am, right? - Interesting. - What do you see as who you are, or do you avoid that kind of statement? - I avoid that statement. - Interesting. - So that you don't get trapped? - Yes. And then I like to think of it as like, I'm an author right now. And if that one day it stops being useful being an author, I will stop being an author, right? I think there's other identities or labels that I have adopted a little bit more permanently, like I'm a husband or I'm a friend or I'm a son. Like those aren't, those are labels that I don't see myself relinquishing anytime soon, but I think if I have a talent personally, I think it's just the ability to kind of like swap labels within my identity. And I think being able to observe myself, do that is what kind of allowed me to write well about these topics. - That's really fascinating to me because I, so I think a lot about how do you get people to actually make the change?
Inside the Social Loop (05:35)
And at first I'm just telling people, okay, here's what you do. There's this thing, I think one of the big things is people have, it's twofold, they have an inability to build desire, so they just don't want anything in their life, not badly enough to keep pushing through. And then they don't know how to use identity statements to hold themselves accountable. And as I would teach people, okay, let me, I'm just gonna walk you through what I do. I can't swear that it's gonna work, but this is what I actually did and so I know it worked at least once. And the more I would tell people and tell people and tell people and see many people tread water and not be able to make that progress, I was like, am I just hyper-malleable? - Yeah. - And that is this my superpower? Is there something in the way to your point about, is I don't know if it's nature, nurture, accommodation, whatever, but I find it very easy to point myself at something new, run a process and that process then anchors me emotionally. So for instance, when I was at Quest, everybody just assumed I was gonna be doing the nutrition thing for the rest of my life. - Right, yeah. - And I was like, no, I've always wanted to do the film thing, but even when I went from film to then focusing on nutrition or entrepreneurship is the more honest answer, that was pretty easy for me to do and say, okay, I'm gonna tie something I care deeply about to this thing 'cause it needs to be something bigger than myself. I need to have real sense of like, I'm contributing to the group to make this stick. But then when I did it again, as I left Quest in the impact theory and was like, okay, this is now a process, I know how to run this, I have to take people that I care about deeply, associate them with the mission of building this thing and then I'll be able to push through the difficulties. So you're not tapping out and just saying, well, I'm a hyper-responder, everybody else can, you know, go deal with it for themselves. You're trying to crack that nut. What do you think is the thread that you're gonna pull on? - It's a combination of a couple of things. And one part of that you alluded to, which is the desire. You know, I do think there are ways to manipulate our level of desire or our level of motivation, I guess kind of the emotional aspect of like feeling fired up about something. I think most people, it's not hard for them to get fired up about something for a few days. It's once you get to like week two that most people tap out. And so I think there's a lot of, I think people underestimate how influenced we are by our surroundings and our environment. And I think to make those, some of those early changes sustainable, you have to do a lot of interventions within your environment, whether that is, you know, throwing all the junk food out of your fridge, making it easier to get out of bed in the morning, putting the alarm clock on the other side of the room, or surrounding yourself with the right people to that will help, that will make it easier to implement the desire change, right? Like fundamentally, we are, most of our psychology is driven, most of our happiness is driven by our relationships and where the reasons that we are receiving social validation. And so if you are receiving social validation from people for bad behaviors, then one of the most effective things you can do is surround yourself with people who are gonna validate you for better behaviors. Like one thing I've been saying a lot that's been resonating with people is that, you know, there's all this talk about like, I wish I didn't care what people think or I wish I didn't need validation from others, but that's impossible. Like we're social creatures, we're always gonna need validation. Instead of trying to not be validated by others, we should be validated by better people and for better reasons. So if the validation that you find yourself seeking from others is hurting you, then you need to find people that social validation is gonna help you, you know? And the most banal cliche examples, like joining a gym, right? Like go join a CrossFit class or something. It's like what CrossFit is done that is so genius is that they have found a way to leverage social validation into exercise. So it's like people who have hated exercise their entire life, suddenly they're in an environment where a bunch of really nice encouraging people are rewarding them for doing hard things. And I think that is probably at like the base level, like the most fundamental way to kind of rewire what you care about or what you want in your life is to align yourself with social groups that are gonna reward you for wanting those things. - Dude, I think that's so off a miss. So I still do get asked by parents a lot. My kids are really headed down the wrong path. How do I get them to turn around? And I mean, sometimes it's really heavy shit drugs, whatever. And setting aside like the addiction aspect for a second, my answer is always, there's only one path I know of that is as close to guaranteed to work as humanly possible. And that is to kidnap them, take them to a deserted island, full of people that they wanna earn the respect of. And if you drop them into a group or they can't escape because it's gonna suck and they're not gonna have anywhere to turn other than these people to get their validation, to get their respect. And if they want their respect, no matter how crazy or difficult the thing is that they ask them to do, they will do it. And that like just knowing what I know about human psychology and the way that the human animal moves as a social creature, like they are going to embed themselves in that group and adhere to the norms of that group, they have to be very thoughtful about what group you embed them in because they probably ended up doing the drugs or whatever because they got embedded in a group of people that were doing dumb shit and they wanted their respect. And it goes back to the song I took a pill in Ibiza, so Ibichie would think I was cool. It's like we do a lot of dumb things so that people will think that we're cool. But to your point, you can flip that around, but it becomes hard to cobble those people together. - Yeah. - Now one thing that was really useful for me was books. So treating books as if they were those friends. So I know you've heard the quote, "You're the average of the five people "you spend the most time with." I think you're the average of the five people and ideas you spend the most time with. So way better if you can get around a peer group that will reinforce it would be 100 times more impactful. But what do you think about the ability for books to give you the ideas that you can anchor yourself around?
Books as a medium (12:20)
- Yeah, I think, look, ideas are necessary, but they're not sufficient. It's, my buddy Derek Sivers has this great quote where he says, "If intellectually understanding "something was enough, we would all be billionaires "with six backs and it's clearly it's not." So you need the ideas, but the ideas only get you like halfway there. And I think with the internet, ideas have been proliferating. It used to be a lot of these ideas that you and I are discussing right now. You, 20 years ago, you had to be a professor at a psychology department doing research to know these things, or you had to pay a lot of money for a very expensive seminar to learn these things. These days it's with social media and everything. Like these ideas are everywhere. They're extremely cheap and almost free. So it's like anybody who has any intellectual interest is going to collect and consume a lot of very good ideas pretty quickly. I think the power that hasn't been tapped into yet is using the internet, is solving the implementation side, which means solving the validation side. And using the internet to kind of do what you were just describing of like finding communities, finding that Desert Island group of like, okay, these are my people. We're together for this explicit reason. We want to improve ourselves in this way. We come from similar backgrounds, maybe have similar traumas or issues. How do we organize that? How do we get people into the, how do we leverage the social pressure of the internet in a positive way instead of the negative way, which is how it's mostly been used up until now? That's kind of like where my brain is all the time now.
The 3 values all people should have (14:18)
- That to me is largely a function of adopting a certain value system. Do you have, and I love asking, you're gonna try to squirm out of this. I'm gonna push you. Do you have like, as close to a universal sub-sex, it'll never be the totality, but a universal subset of values that if people adhere to these, it's going to move their life forward. I get it, most people won't be able to adhere to it, but is there like a small handful of things you're like, everybody should have these? - I, so I thought of, I'm not gonna squirm out of this 'cause I've thought about this. - I like it, okay. - I've thought about this. It is hard to say, obviously it's hard to say anything universally, but if I had to say, to me there's probably three universal principles that I think are just effective for the entire human species. It's like just how we're wired. First one is radical responsibility, is like taking ownership of everything that happens in your life. Even if it's not your fault, even if it's tragic, even if it's completely unfair and unjust, you still have to take responsibility for your response to it. And you have to take responsibility for how you're going to deal with that challenge or setback. Responsibility is so important because it empowers you psychologically. Like as long as you're blaming something around you and you might even be completely correct that it is their fault. But as long as you're like existing in that mind space, you are disempowering yourself from actually doing anything to improve your situation. So, guaranteed. It's, that's kinda, in my opinion, I call it the prime belief, but it's like nothing else really works until people kind of like flip that switch of like, okay, I need to take responsibility for this. Even though I've been screwed over. - What do you say to people that push back, that's a, I was screwed over. Like how can you even say this? - It's fault and responsibility. So this is a very popular part of the subtle art book, but fault and responsibility are two different things. We tend to associate them because it's, you know, if you hit me with your car, you're at fault. And so now you owe me something. That's how our legal system works. That's how our social systems kind of work. But, so I think our natural instinct is to think, you know, well, I had a screwed up childhood 'cause this person traumatized me. So somebody's gotta come fix it for me, right? Like somebody else messed up my life. So somebody else needs to come fix it. And that's like, again, you may not be, you may be factually correct, but nobody's showing up to fix your life for you. At a certain point, like you have to decide, it doesn't matter what's happened. I'm the only person who owns my own future. Many people might own my past, but only I own my future. So I need to explicitly take responsibility for making sure it's a good future. Second principle is radical acceptance. So everybody's, our natural inclination is to seek pleasurable experiences and emotions and avoid unpleasurable experiences and emotions. And I think the most psychologically healthy thing to do is to simply accept all emotional experiences regardless of whether they feel good or feel bad. - Why accept do you just mean don't fight bad? Don't resist, don't avoid, don't deny, don't suppress. And there are some people that suppress positive emotions as well, which is, that's a whole tangent, but it does happen. But basically, the pithy elevator pitch for this is that there's no such thing as a good or bad emotion. There's only good and bad responses to emotions. So you can respond to joy in a very unhealthy way. In fact, a lot of people respond to joy in a very unhealthy-- - Really? Give me an example. - I mean, you go get shit faced with a bunch of your friends and wake up in a ditch somewhere. - That's interesting. - A lot of people develop, when they feel good, they develop a very strong sense of entitlement. They feel they are owed certain things because they're so happy or they feel so good. So that would be an unhealthy response to positive emotions. But yeah, it's a lot of people, if there's kind of like a template for the average email that I get in my inbox, it's basically this. It's a person says, you know, X, Y, and Z are happening in my life right now. I feel really bad. How do I stop feeling bad? And my response is always the same, is you don't stop feeling bad. You feel bad and you find a way to respond well despite feeling bad. Like it's, if you try to stop feeling bad, not only are you going to distract yourself and get sucked down a bunch of rabbit holes, but you're actually probably gonna make yourself feel worse. Right? It's like, when you wish you didn't feel guilty, you just feel more guilty. When you get angry at yourself for being angry, you just get even more angry. Like it's the spiral that starts happening. So radical responsibility, radical acceptance, and shit, I'm blanking on the third. I had a video about this. - I've been there so many times. This in interviews, I have a rule, never say the number. Like give me three, whatever, because then people are like, oh shit. It's either my mesh. Those are two, I think those are really huge. So responsibility, acceptance, I'll throw a third one into the mix. It's what I call the only belief that matters. It's a bit tough to wrangle this as a value, but I would say progress becomes the value, and then this is the mechanism. - Right, that's hilarious. - That's hilarious. So it was, I think I called it like radical growth, which is basically-- - That's amazing. - Your motivation for everything you do should be to improve the lives of yourself and others. - Facts. And yeah. - Tell me why and others. I think people will get why they should work on progress themselves, which is to quote Tony Robbins, a foundational pillar to human happiness, which I really agree with. - Totally. - But why others? - Because helping others gives our life meaning. You can improve yourself all day, every day, but what I find is that people who are very, very absorbed in just improving their own lot in life, it starts to feel a little bit pointless at a certain point. It comes back to that-- - That's so weird to me, that's so true. - It comes back to that fact that we're fundamentally social animals, and so most of what we derive meaning and happiness from is our relationships. And so people who improve themselves a lot, they eventually arrive at this point. So okay, I kind of divide improvement up into two, there's two categories. One is the bad, the okay, and one is the okay to great. And I think this is something that gets lost in our industry a lot, is that there are a lot of people who are coming to us because they feel bad and they just want to feel okay. And then there are a lot of people who come to us because they feel okay, but they want to feel great. And those are two very different problems with, and many ways they're two completely different conversations. And I think a lot of advice that is intended for the okay to great people is misinterpreted by the bad, the okay, and vice versa. - Very interesting. - And so I think if you are trying to go from bad to okay, then yeah, you should focus on yourself. Like it's the old like put your oxygen mask on before you put on the mask of others. But if you're in the okay to great, then a very big component of that is like, okay, if my life's great, what's the point if I'm not sharing that with people? If I'm not using all of the amazing skills and tools and wisdom that I've developed within myself to help bring other people along. And so I think it ultimately, we need to, a complete life is motivated by both. The truth is hitting your career goals is not easy. You have to be willing to go the extra mile to stand out and do hard things better than anybody else. But there are 10 steps I wanna take you through that will 100 X your efficiency so you can crush your goals and get back more time into your day. You'll not only get control of your time, you'll learn how to use that momentum to take on your next big goal. To help you do this, I've created a list of the 10 most impactful things that any high achiever needs to dominate. And you can download it for free by clicking the link in today's description. Alright my friend, back to today's episode.
Terrifying power of a second decade (23:52)
- So meaning and purpose for sure, big part of it. What I have found is whenever somebody's driving to do something great, there is a moment where it gets difficult. You were saying, this is, I almost interrupted you 'cause it's so terrifying and I think you're so right that most people give up at about week two. And if you think about the amazing things you've done in your life and I think about the things I've done in my life, it's like, it's not even year two. It's like you're 10 and you start to get somewhere. And the difference between the second week and the second decade is so terrifying. So I talk to people a lot about the successes of a game of attrition. Most people just quit and they quit because they feel badly about themselves. At some point, something gut checks you about, are you good enough, smart enough, worthy, whatever? And people come up wanting, they've got the negative voice in their head, they don't have the right value system, whatever, but they implode because they've got the negative voice, it's running unchecked. They don't have a way to anchor themselves, which I would say the thing to anchor yourself around is improvement itself. It's like you're getting better. To your point though, if you don't understand how to take a group of people that are real to you, that you love and say, okay, the saying I'm gonna do is going to be of service to that. And I just saw a YouTube short today from Michio Kaku of all people. It's really interesting and I disagreed with him so violently. And he was saying that we made a mistake 50 years ago and we're still paying the price. And the mistake is that we think of the human mind as a computer, but the problem is the human mind has no operating system. And I was like, bitch, are you for real? Like what are you talking about? Like, and he said very specifically that we don't have subroutines running in our minds. And I was like, what? Like the human mind is shaped by evolution. And there are these screaming subroutines that are going to dictate your behavior and one of them is you better serve the group. And whether you want that to be true or not, like that is running from an evolutionary standpoint. You are propelled so hard to go be of service to people. And when I say it out loud, it sounds really cheesy, but I'm like, you're destined for misery. If you cannot figure out how to serve people and do something awesome for other people, and this is gonna be a weird example, but I think it will make sense. So I discovered anime in my 40s and I went all in. And for like 18, no, it wasn't 18 months. Like eight months. I was watching so much. It was amazing. I was getting up really early in the morning and I was watching like an hour or two of anime a day, seven days a week, it was awesome. And I learned the art form and all of that. Once I had the art form locked in, I couldn't allow myself, like I couldn't enjoy spending a bunch of time on it, even though I like it. Because I was like, I no longer need to do that to serve other people. Now, I needed to master anime as an art form because for me to get a growth mindset out at scale, I believe I need to do it through entertainment. Anime has become the dominant form of entertainment for young people. So I was like, I really need to understand this. But the second I was like, oh, I get the art form. Like all that passion and joy that I had and feeling like, yes, I'm moving myself forward. I'm making progress by sitting and watching it went away. And I was like, this is where most people live. Is there in that post moment where they're doing something but they don't know why they're doing it. It's not associated to helping people or moving themselves forward in any way. And so their whole life is one big like, what am I doing? And that's where to me, and look, maybe some people, either they discover it when they're really young or they have a natural penchant for something. And so they're already gravitating towards service.
Why youre not getting any better (27:21)
That wasn't my stick. Like I had to find that and realize, why am I running out of steam? And as soon as I was like, I'm not gonna be fighting for myself, I'm gonna fight for somebody else. Then I was like, fuck, I can go crazy. I've got way more endurance, way more energy. But I had to learn, oh, this is a conscious process of saying, okay, Quest isn't gonna be about money. It's gonna be about saving my mom and my sister because they're morbidly obese and I wanna help them. Impact theory isn't gonna be about building this big thing. It's gonna be about these kids that I watch just get devoured by the inner cities. And I was like, if I could sneak a growth mindset in when they're young, then I could actually do something. Once I made that switch, then I was like, okay, I can fight forever.
Finding meaning and purpose (28:03)
But without that, not a. It's funny, you and I were talking about kids a little bit before we went live. And we're both at that age where all of our friends either have little kids or are having kids, having second kids. And it's interesting, so many of my friends, particularly fathers, that they had weight loss goals or work goals or wanted to do more networking or start a new business or whatever. And they had put it off for years and all of a sudden that kid shows up. And it's like a switch goes off. And then they actually develop, they actually make a bunch of those changes. And I think it's just, it's another example of what you're talking about is suddenly that reason shows up. And it's like, oh, I couldn't lose weight for myself, but I don't wanna be, I wanna be able to play with my kid. I don't wanna be obese and running out of energy when my kid is running around. So I better lose some weight. And it's like, suddenly they do. I wanna come back to you really quick though. The word and, you know, we said, we should all, everything should be motivated by improving lives of ourselves and others. I think the and is important because what I find is that generally people are very, people are naturally very good at one or the other, but not both. So there are a lot of people who are naturally very good at helping others and focusing on others and worrying about others and taking care of others, but they're bad at taking care of themselves. And they neglect themselves, they sacrifice themselves too much. And then there are a lot of people who are very good at taking care of themselves or focusing on themselves, but they don't, they're bad at focusing on others or helping others. And I think developing, being able to bridge those two things and like square what feels contradictory at times where it's like you're taking care of yourself and you're taking care of the group and you're taking care of your loved ones, like all at the same time, you're finding the win, win, win in each situation. I think that is the rare skill that we should all be aiming for, but it takes everybody a long time to get there. - Yes. And usually after a lot of years of suffering, what's gonna be really interesting in a modern context is birth rates decline just precipitously and more and more people aren't having kids. I think about this a lot.
Consequences oh having kids or not (30:37)
So I've consciously decided not to have kids and I'm very aware of the fact that people come to me for advice and despite your protestations about not going on stage and telling people do this, this is exactly what I do and I feel supremely confident, foolishly perhaps. But the one thing that I'm really careful about is you need to be real thoughtful if you're gonna not have kids. And I think that the default answer for people should be to have kids. And it's a little bit like that, the fence thing, I forget what it's called, but it's like if you are wandering through a space and you come upon a fence, your default assumption should not be, I don't know why it's there, so let's tear it down. You should be like, I need to figure out why it's there before I tear it down. And that's how I feel about not having kids is, I literally just yesterday, so we have the same impact through a university. And person asked me a question and I was startled by the question. And it was like, I sit in bed and I stare at the ceiling, I don't want anything, I can't even work up the outrage when somebody wrongs me, I just, I don't care. And I was like, whoa. So I was like, hey, let me ask what may sound like a random question. Do you have kids? And they were like, no. And I was like, I am not surprised. So I was like, I don't know your age, I don't know if this is where I advice for you, but let's talk about having kids is nature's way of going, I'm gonna give you meaning and purpose, I'm gonna give you something to fight for, something to die for, something ultimately to live for. And when people don't have that, like for me, it was very conscious. I was like, I have to be very careful because kids are instant meaning and purpose. And I was like, I've found that through my work and it's deeply fulfilling and I have an amazing relationship with my wife, it's deeply fulfilling. But I was like, we had a really honest conversation about, it's a very dangerous game because we now are going to forever have to find our meaning and purpose in something other than the sort of pre-package, like here you go. And so when I was answering this person's question, I was like, okay, you have to evaluate your own life. I said, I honestly feel nervous saying the following, but I actually believe that it's true for enough people that this is worse thing out loud, which is you might wanna consider having kids. I find somebody that you love. Bill, the strong relationship first, in a mold fashion like that. But like do that, have kids, you may be startled to your example of how all of a sudden getting out of bed is easy because you're thinking about somebody else. - Yeah. - And I think people ignore that to their own peril. - Yeah, I think it's, we've developed a culture, which this is one of those things that in many ways it's great, but there's some negative side effects that I don't think have completely sunk in. But like we've developed a culture where it is mainstream and widely okay to think about your own mental health first, to think about your own priorities, think about your own happiness, and figure out what kind of life you wanna make. And obviously that's a great thing in a vacuum, but to your point, there's kind of a hidden cost to that, which is once you're given the freedom and the opportunity to think very deeply about your, who you're gonna be and how are you gonna be happy and how are you gonna find meaning in the world, you suddenly nothing is given to you. Suddenly you have to kind of conjure it out of thin air. The way I described this in subtle art was like, 100 years ago, life was objectively worse. Like it sucked, like you were probably a subsistence farmer somewhere. You're probably in a war or a famine or a depression. But when you're living, but 100 years ago it was always very, very clear what your purpose was, what the goal was, what the meaning in your life was. It was to survive, don't get shocked, don't get killed, and grow enough food to feed yourself and your family.
And so everybody woke up every day knowing exactly what they were gonna do that day, knowing exactly what had to be done or else the consequence was potentially death. And so I think a lot of these existential questions that we wrestle with in the 21st century of like, who am I, why am I here, what am I supposed to be doing? These are luxuries, these are very, very first world problems. And in many ways we've traded physical struggle for psychological struggle. That is the hidden cost of our comforts and freedom that we've earned for ourselves over the past five, six generations. - So fascinating. This is a very weird time of, I gotta think of it as you that said it. It's like when you've been just awash in abundance forever, there's a real distortion that happens. Are you watching The Last of Us? - I've played the games. So I'm waiting. - Okay, see, you know the story. - Yeah. - It's very fascinating to watch the story of people who go from the normal life that we all know to you are one rabbit kill or deer kill away from dying and like what that does and how it is clarifying but also breaks down trust because now there's so much competition between people for like very scarce resources. But it's really clarifying. And when I think about where society is going, certainly here in much of the West, definitely in the US, it's like it gets to be a very precarious tightrope when you don't have to think about other people. You can build a life where you're staying at home and you're supposedly just awash in opulence and everything is great and easy, but you have this profound sense of unease and something isn't right and people don't really have a sense of how to cobble that together. You've mentioned it a couple times already in this interview, but I wanna put a point on, you say that people's, I think you said happiness is most tied to their relationships.
- Yeah. - How do we do relationships well? Is it a bunch of people? Are there certain like you need romance, you need friendship, whatever? - Just more easy questions I see. - I like the softballs, I like softballs, Mark, come on. - Yeah, I definitely don't think the answer is quantity and I think that, well, I mean, actually, we have a lot of research showing that the answer to the relationship question is not quantity. Like in fact, it seems that there's a thing called the Dunbar number which shows that, you know, we actually seem, we struggle quite a bit to empathize beyond a certain amount of people and in terms of close friendships, we seem to max out around five or six. So it's definitely quality over quantity. And I think not only is it quality over quantity, but quantity can actually distract from quantity. I just moved here from New York, we were talking about that earlier. One of the constant struggles in New York City is that there's always so much going on and there's so many people that you can meet and hang out with that nobody actually ends up being satisfied with their social lives. Like it ends up being this kind of constant churn of friends and acquaintances and you might meet somebody and you really like them and you're like, man, we should hang out, we should get together. And eight months will go by before you see them again, just because both of your schedules are so hectic and crazy and there's so much other stuff going on. So I do think quantity distracts from the quality, quality is what matters. And I think when you talk about quality, there's a few things going on. One is there needs to be some sort of alignment in terms of values and worldview. So like you need to have something in common, you need to care about the same thing, something. Doesn't need to be everything, but there needs to be something that you both believe that you both care about. This is true for friendships and romantic relationships. There needs to be alignment somewhere on like a deep value. At the same time, it seems to be beneficial if there's also a little bit of not just difference, but like opposites. So introverts tend to play really well with extroverts and vice versa. The extrovert needs somebody to listen to all their bullshit and the introvert needs somebody to listen to all day. So it works out well. So there are certain personality traits that tend to compliment each other well. And I think that's what we describe as chemistry. When you sit with somebody and it just works, it's because you have like complimentary personality traits that kind of-- - What are the things you think people need to agree on? - So actually, so my friend, near I all had this great thing. And he's not a relationships guy, he's just a friend. He actually, I don't know if he's-- - I've had him on the show. - Yeah, he's been on your show. So his whole thing is about attention and distraction, but I was hanging out with him once. And his theory was he said, so there's five things. I think, see, I'm doing it again. - You gave me something, I'm doing it again. - I'm doing it again. - He's got a handful of things. - I think I can get it. I think I can get it. So religion, so okay, cleanliness, religion, politics, kids, and, oh shit. I think, I'll say like life goals. It's probably something else, but we'll say life goals. - Oh my goodness. - Yeah. - I did not see that one coming. - So he said, if you get all five, you're probably bored because you agree on everything. If you get four, that's probably like the optimal spot. Three, you're okay, but you're probably fighting a decent amount and he said, less than three, it's like, it's not gonna work 'cause you just don't align on enough things. So I think it's the things that people need to really align on is like lifestyle habits, which I guess is cleanliness. - Okay, that, yeah, that makes sense. That's the one thing my wife and I fight about. So we have four out of the five. - Yeah, me and my wife too. But like kids, politics, religion, you probably need to be aligned on more of those things than not. - Mm. - 'Cause it's, yeah, I mean, there are couples that disagree politically, disagree different religions, but it's like there needs to be enough overlap that like it kind of keeps them binded together. So we've got shared values, we've got complimentary but different personalities. And then the crazy thing is, so if you look at like research on friendships in particular, I've been really interested in this because we're both at that age where I think it's hard to make friends 'cause everybody's so busy all the time. If you look at the research on friendship, like the number one fact, they talk about all these things, similar values, similar hobbies or behaviors or interests or whatever. But the number one factor that never gets talked about is simply exposure. It's like you tend to become friends with or develop relationships with people you see all the time. And I think that's just such an underrated thing. And this kind of comes back to the environment piece of like putting yourself in an environment around people that you want to validate you in a positive way or who you wanna be more like. There's a certain amount of value of just seeing the same type of people day after day like there's like an unconscious bond that starts forming whether you want it to or not. - So how do people go back instructing that?
Where should you teach people to connect today? (43:02)
Is it just, "Meh, whoever you work with, that's gonna be that." - Well, I think we run into this a similar paradox of choice, especially these days with remote work and everything, right? Like if everybody's working from home, then now you get even more choice in terms of like who you spend time with. - But you also default to isolation. - Yep. - Just something I definitely worry about. So we did about 18 months where no one came in the office. We actually had employees start saying, "Hey, can we come back now?" Because they were feeling so isolated. Now it wasn't everybody, there are still people, three years later that are like, "No, no, no, I don't wanna come back yet." So it's interesting. - Yeah, isolation, I think forcing yourself to get out. It's funny because as somebody who's been self-employed his whole career, a lot of the problems that I faced in my 20s, it's interesting to see the world going through it, which is like I had to learn how to force myself out of the house, 'cause it's what you discover is that when you work in the same room that you sleep and you watch TV and you do whatever your interests are and you work out, it becomes very hard to leave that room at a certain point. And so you have to find, you have to invent reasons to make you leave. I guess, my answer to your question is just, I think I'm bullish on communities over the next 10, 20 years. I just think without, as you pointed out, with fewer kids, with less religion, and with more remote work, those three things are probably the biggest reasons that people physically go to the same place over and over and over again. And so I think we're just out of psychological need, we're gonna have to reinvent that in some way just around other activities or behaviors. The gym class, the CrossFit class is a perfect example. What does that look like in all these other verticals? Like book clubs, pickleball, like everybody's playing pickleball and honestly, I think it's- - I think it's hearing about that. - It's mostly just because we wanna go see the same five people, like you need to go see the same five people over and over and over again. Like that's just part of being kind of a psychologically stable person. - Yeah, it's interesting.
Understanding Relationships And Social Connections
The brain's need for connections. (45:36)
The idea that the most severe form of punishment you can put a human through is isolation, making them be by themselves. That's really weird. As somebody who likes to be alone, but always in my control and all that, so I get that it's a very artificial way, but I just, I so enjoy being by myself. I'm startled, I accept the truth of it, trust me. This is not me going, oh, it wouldn't happen to me. But I'm startled that that really is the most brutal form of punishment that you can put a human through. - It's very strange. - You just gotta imagine no internet. - Yeah, yeah, no internet would be rough, that is for sure. But the fact that the human mind will begin to hallucinate if it isn't seeing other people, I'm sorry, what? Like that's so, that your brain has such a hunger to have people to interact with, that it will make them up in order to scratch that itch. That's really, that's surreal to me. - Yeah, I mean, it puts it on the same level as like food or breathing. - No, for sure. - But we don't consider it the same way. It's interesting, it really hits me as, okay, this is super, super important. Sex drive is another one that like people are very, I think are quick to not think about how fundamental a drive that is. - Yeah. - You know, for guys, it's harder to forget because you realize, oh, I don't control my erection. - Yeah. - And when you realize, whoa, whoa, whoa, like nature put this out of my conscious reach. Like that is such a deeply embedded drive that it's like, there is Michio Kaku, there is a subroutine running in my brain that's like, you're going to want what I, you know, evolution tell you you're going to want. That's crazy.
The secret to a lasting relationship. (47:30)
And so when you've got that kind of thing, like pushing you to move forward, if people don't take that time to understand it, recognize how important it is. And this is something that my wife and I tell people in relationships a lot. Like if you want a long lasting relationship, you've got to keep having sex. - Yeah. - Because so often, especially people that have kids, you have bed death. - Yeah. - And so you become basically like roommates. And with the amount that I work, like that's always the danger for me, that I will just get so stressed and there's so much going on. And I'm sure it's just driving my testosterone down. I just don't feel like it. - Yeah. - And so there have been times where Lisa and I have had to be like, okay, like this is a real thing. Like we have to be committed to this and we can't let, we're gonna look, there's gonna be times when you're sick or whatever. But like we try not to let a week go by where we don't have sex ideally more than once. So it's like, and look, that's me speaking in my 40s, you've been very generous to put me at your age to this whole episode, which is not true. But like that, you know, you really, really have to be thoughtful. I wanna go back to romantic love. Before we started rolling, you said that you were a convert. 'Cause I said, I'm a huge believer in love and marriage. And you said, I'm a convert. One, what made you think in the beginning, not for me? And then what changed your mind? - I, so my emotional background is avoid an attachment and basically a commitment for them. So I struggled quite a bit in romantic relationships to maintain romantic relationships. - Because you were afraid they would reject you and so you reject them first? - Yeah, I mean, that's fundamentally like the, kind of the way an avoid an attachment works is it's a deep insecurity of being hurt. And so you protect yourself by finding reasons to push people away. And most of those reasons are gonna be irrational or imagined. So that was most of my early relationships. - When did you become consciously aware of that? - I think probably towards the end of my relationship with my college girlfriend, I developed an awareness. With my first serious girlfriend, I was just a bad boyfriend, but I had so little awareness. I didn't even realize that I was. 'Cause we all justify our decisions and actions. And so I kind of walked out of that one thinking, I was like rosy and gold and she was the terrible one. And then as an adult, I looked back and I'm like, no, I was an idiot. But it was with my college girlfriend that I got to the back half of that relationship. It's about two and a half years. And I just realized, I'm like, wow, I'm really not good to her. And I really care about her, but I'm not a good boyfriend. And I had to, it was difficult to kind of admit that to myself. And then I started investigating why that was. Like, why am I like responding in these weird emotional ways and doing shitty things to her? Just causing drama for no reason. And so I started reading a lot about relationships. And when I stumbled across Attachment Theory, it was like, oh, shit, yeah, that's me. That's it right there. And so at that point, you're like, I'm maybe because of this, I'm not interested in pursuing something or... So the thing about an avoidant attachment is you have a fundamental just anxiety and fear around intimacy and romance.
The secret to overcoming an avoidance mentality. (51:12)
And it's that manifests itself in various ways, but we experienced the emotion first and then we justify it later. And so in my younger years, I found all sorts of reasons to justify this. It's just, I have a really high sex drive, I'm polyamorous, I, my lifestyle is just, I'm always gonna be on the road and working really hard. So I'm never gonna have time to settle down and commit. It's like, I started kind of telling myself all these stories about myself. That made me think that I am not the type of person who settles down with one partner for a long period of time. As I got older and started to understand a little bit more about my baggage and my childhood and trauma and things like that, I started to realize that maybe some of that's not entirely true and I need to work on myself. And then it was when I met my wife that I still had some of those narratives going on, but it was funny, it was like I was with her for one year, two years. And normally in the exact same spots that historically I had kind of freaked out and tried to get away or caused a bunch of drama or cheated on her or whatever, I'm hitting that same like, I guess, landmark with my wife. And I'm like, hmm, I still have a lot of this anxiety but I don't want to go anywhere. This is where I want to be. And I think it forced me to kind of work through a lot of that stuff within the relationship with her. - There's desire again, this is exactly why when somebody fails to get what they want in life, while there is a long road to hoe, I'm always like, you just don't want to badly enough to figure those things out. Because in that moment, if you were like, I dig her, but not as much as I want to go be free or go get laid or whatever. And this is where I think a lot of people fall down. Certainly guys is the thrill of the hunt, the thrill of convincing someone that, maybe a week ago you didn't even know to sleep with you is really intoxicating. And to pretend that that isn't like a drug like thing is what's going to get you in trouble. Because it is so different to pursue that versus pursuing a long-term committed relationship. This is one thing I always thought, okay, I have set myself up well for a long-term relationship because I've thought about the nature of relationships since I was a teenager. And so like what phases do they move through neurochemically? And so like early love is very different than you've been married for five years and you know those things shift and change. And so it becomes about understanding how they're going to change and having a meta-desire that's over that. So for me the meta-desire that overrides everything in my marriage is I want to see what a life looks like when you share it with somebody. And that the good, the bad, the ups and downs, but that idea really speaks to me. And so even though I really enjoyed the early years where it was, there was a sexual freedom if you will if I could be with whoever I wanted. - Yep. - I was, I weighed it. So when I decided to propose to my wife as I was telling you, I made a pros and cons list and that was on there. Like am I okay that this is the last person I'm never going to sleep with? And running that math, I was like, yeah, like I recognize it as a sacrifice. I'm not pretending that I'm not giving something up because I very much am, but the thing that I get, this idea of being able to share my life with her and grow with her and we were in her. She was 21 when we met, I was only 24. So it was like, you know, we were pretty early. So it was like, I went, I was broke at the time. So it was like, there's no, like, oh, I've already made it. Now I'm finding somebody. So I was like, wow, we're really going to like do this together and dream together and build together and all of that stuff. And so it was like talking about, okay, things are going to change like this. I remember as we were in the grips of the cocaine like effects of that when you first realize you're in love, just insane, I was like, this feeling will change. This is going to turn into something else. And we have to be ready for that. We have to communicate through that, we have to navigate through that. But if we handle it well, I have a feeling there's something on the other side of this that's really going to be. - That's better in cocaine. - Yeah, truly. Which nobody tells you.
Dating and Classical Monogamy. (56:13)
Like this is the other thing. I just think, well, first of all, you alluded to something that was very, very major for me. And I think this is true for a lot of men in particular is I think men tend to overestimate the significance of the hunt, the chase, the sexual conquest. I do think, obviously there's, it is very enjoyable and it's fun. And it's almost like a sport. And I think once I, but I think a lot of men over, because they received so much social validation and because they have scripts running that tell them that that's what makes them high status or important or desirable, they tend to put way more meaning into it than there actually is. An epiphany for me, and I was definitely one of those guys. So an epiphany for me was when I realized exactly what you were just saying is that basically the hunt is, it's a glorified hobby. Like, it's just, it's almost a sport. And it's the same way like you can love basketball and like make it the center of your life, but it's still just basketball. Like it's never gonna be more than just basketball, you know? And it's the same thing with dating a bunch of people and hooking up with a bunch of hot girls and getting all that validation from that. And meanwhile, there is a certain level of depth of meaning. When you have shared a decade with somebody and you've been through the best times and the worst times with that person, you've had joy with that person, you've had pain and fear with that person, and you're still with them and they've watched you grow through that and you've watched them grow through that. Like, that is so rare and special. And it is, you can't replicate that in any other way. And once that clicked for me, that like, wait a second, this thing that I've been spending all these years focusing so much on was oversold to me, it was like overhyped. And this thing that most people complain about, which is marriage, is totally undersold to me. Like the joy and the meaning and the impact of like, you know, seeing my wife accomplish something in her business that she's been working three years towards and you know, watching her stress through it and giving her support and giving her advice, like watching her succeed in that moment, like it's so much more impactful and meaningful than like the best one night stand I ever had. Like it's not even on the same, you know, you're like, you're not even in the same territory. When you compare those two things, I, you know, that revelation was like so profound for me. And I'm a little bitter that like that message isn't, like I started wondering, I'm like, where was this message when I was 20, right? Like, 'cause when I was 20, the message was, no dude, you need to bang as many girls as possible and never settle down and you know, 'cause that's like what a high status alpha male does or whatever the thing was back then. And that was fun for a couple of years, but like it doesn't serve you well long term. And so I have been, I'm glad to hear you're on the same page.
Escape velocity high bar. (59:37)
It's, I have intentionally kind of been an advocate for classical monogamy and marriage because I think it is, in this day and age, it is underrated. - Yeah, long term relationships for sure, it's the most gratifying thing I've ever done. And I say that as somebody who's had the kind of worldly success that most people, you know, bite and die for. And I'm just telling you, like nothing even comes close. And no matter how successful you are, at least in my experience, it's not like the negative voice goes away. It's not like, oh, it's just up and to the right. Like it's still that jagged, you know, cliff of like, whoa, it's working, no, nothing's working. You know, is it gonna last? Is it forever? Like there's so much like whipsawing when you're trying to matter. Obviously I could have gone off and retired and just been wealthy and spent my money. But I played that thought out and it was very obvious to me that I would not be able to be happy, fulfilled. That's the right word. I wouldn't be able to be fulfilled. And so I was gonna have to go back into living a full and robust life, serving myself and other people. But in all of that, which is amazing and it's important and people need to do it, but in all of that, nothing has given me what my wife, and it's a gestalt of things because it's the moment where she looks at me like, I am powerful and that makes me feel so good. The moments where I am completely broken in front of her and she's there and is like, I'm here. I don't think less of you for this moment. In fact, if anything, I'm honored to be needed and that you show me this. And you put all of that together. It's fucking unreal. To this day, if she walks into a room and I'm not expecting her, like, oh, like I get, I won't say I don't get butterflies, but it's like, I'm so happy to see her. That, and that's, we're in the same house all the time. We basically never leave the house. But if she walks into a room and I'm not expecting her, it just makes me happy. - You can reboot your life, your health, even your career, anything you want. All you need is discipline. I can teach you the tactics that I learned while growing a billion dollar business that will allow you to see your goals through. Whether you want better health, stronger relationships, a more successful career, any of that is possible with the mindset and business programs and impact theory university. Join the thousands of students who have already accomplished amazing things. Tap now for a free trial and get started today. - You know, you mentioned like the butterflies and the cocaine like effect of that early romance where it's just very, very intense emotions. It does go away, but the thing, if it is a healthy, solid relationship, the thing that kind of it segues into is almost like a calm, ever-present satisfaction. And that is in many ways so much better. You know, it's not as exciting. It doesn't get your adrenaline going. You're not having sex three times a day anymore, but that's fine. But there's just this like peace, you know? It's like she comes down for breakfast and you're just like, "Huh." Like little smile pops on your face. And like it just feels good all the time. And it's, yeah, I can't recommend it enough. Like there's, and it comes back to right, like the subroutines thing. Like there's a reason why marriage exists in every culture across human history. Yeah, sure, humans were not. Monogamy isn't, not everybody's monogamous all the time. There's plenty of cultures that, you know, people have sex with other people or maybe people stray for a little bit. But parabondin, which is settling down with one partner for a long period of time, that is pretty universal to the human experience. And I don't think that's an accident. What do you think about the modern mating crisis, probably the right way to sum it up? Like what the hell is going on now? And how do we reverse the trends? I think there's two issues happening simultaneously. One is just a classic paradox of choice. You know, when you've got an app that, you know, if I can set up five dates, you know, in the next hour. Why it removes the stakes?
Needs for the right time (01:04:36)
And so if a date doesn't go well, it's kind of like, eh, whatever. I'll just find somebody else. I think there needs to be a little bit, you need to feel like you're losing something if a date doesn't go well, to like kind of motivate you to open up and put in the effort to like see if there's a connection there. So I think that's part of it. I think the other part of it is that, I think generally people don't, you can't really settle into a healthy relationship. Well, hold on, let me, it's harder to settle into a healthy relationship until you've kind of gotten yourself figured out. And I think-- - Why'd you hesitate to say that? - Well, I was originally gonna say you can't, but I don't think that's true. - Really, you think you can be dysfunctional and get into a-- - No, no, no, no. Well, so let me define figures yourself. But you can be dysfunctional and functionalize yourself within the relationship. - Yeah, fair, fair, fair. - That's like a high wire act, but it's incredibly hard, but some people pull it off. Just the same way high school sweethearts will get married and some of them-- - Against my recommendation, but yes. - Yeah, I don't recommend it, but some of them pull it off. And they end up living a very happy, healthy life. Generally speaking, so there are large amounts, large amounts of people will be accepted, but as a general principle, I think, it is hard to settle into a long-term committed relationship until you have figured out your own identity a little bit, figured out what you're doing with your own life first, before you can share that with somebody else. And I think as the world gets more complex, that process of identity formation, which usually, traditionally happens in like the age 16 to 24 range, that is elongating. So it's taking people longer and longer, young people longer and longer, to kind of figure out who they are, who they wanna be, what they're gonna do with their life. And I think most people wanna figure that out before they figure out who they're gonna be with long-term. And so the more complexity is introduced to the identity formation process, the harder it's gonna be for people to commit or decide. Like if I don't know who I am or what I'm doing with my life, how am I ever gonna know if you're right for me? You know? So I imagine those two things kind of happening simultaneously. - Yeah, going back to the five things that Nireh Al was talking about, one of the things that I think people, where most people fail, it's gonna be one of two things, either selection, which I think is the biggest problem. And I remember for a long time, I thought, I'm just so good at relationships.
Perspectives On Commitment And Relationship Dynamics
Andrews point of view (01:07:40)
And then one day it really hit me, oh, my wife is a ninja, and she lets things roll off her back, she doesn't get wound up about stuff. And so all of my high-flutein tactics would not work on somebody that was like overly reactive, emotionally unstable, or whatever. So it's like, I was like, okay, selection is a big part of this. And then values is, to your earlier point, I think one of the most overlooked things, I think people need to overlap. I have always called it roughly 80%. Like if you have 80% of your values aligned, you're gonna be good. But then understanding what your different personality strengths are. So, and look, I am a little skewed on this because my wife and I work together, and you certainly do not to be high functioning. But I find that the things that allow us to work together have served us incredibly well in our relationship, which is that we're good at very different things. And so I'm big vision. I can handle a ton of stress. I can think well through a storm of just everything going wrong. And then my wife, once it's like, we know what we're doing, then she's just gonna be completely religious. She will never fool herself. It's like, this is doable. This is not, this is how we're gonna get it done. And so you put us together, and there's no wrestling for control. Both of us are able to follow the other person when the right, that person is the right person to lead. But overall, it's like, okay, I'll set the strategy, whether it's for the business or for the family. And then she's like the reality check of what we can do and how we can do it. And once we learned to say out loud, you're good at this. I'm good at this, I'm bad at this, you're bad at that. Like once we laid all that out, we were like, do we all agree on this? Because if we don't, let's have that debate so that it can be a known thing. So when we get into a situation, it's like, hey, you're the right person to follow your way better at thinking through this kind of problem than I am. Cool, go forth, prosper, you've got rules set up, all this stuff. But without the alignment of values, without acknowledging where we're strong, where we're weak, why we work well together, without wanting each other to win, and wanting to be a team, we'd never get anywhere. And I find that, especially now, this is interesting, I wasn't headed this way when I brought this up.
A breakdown of gender roles is dangerous for a relationship. (01:09:48)
But part of the problem that I see now is when you have a breakdown of gender roles, now it's like, you don't even need those to be the roles, but you need roles. You need, it's like, there's-- Absolutely. Mod soccer, if you've ever seen little kids play soccer, they just swarm around the ball and everybody runs in a big clump. Whereas once you get to the professionals, it's everybody has a role, they know exactly what they do, and they do it to a T. And I think the same is true in a marriage. I don't care what your roles are, but make sure you know who's doing what. Yeah, I agree. And I don't think you shouldn't be limited to the gender roles, but you shouldn't also be limited to 50/50 everything. Like, it's people, personalities, excel at different things. So you find who's better at what within the relationship, and you maximize that. I think you touched upon like, kind of the key piece of advice that I find myself giving these days to young people who ask about dating and relationship stuff, which is, I think these days, it's all about filtering, getting really, really good at screening early on, because the system is essentially different. It's completely different than it was even 10, 15 years ago. Back in the old days, you were limited in how many people you could meet. So when you did meet somebody you liked, you would put in a lot of effort to make it work and maybe overlook some incompatibilities or problem areas to like, you're like, "Well, I don't know when I'm gonna meet another one, "like this one, so better make it work." So a lot of people, I think, probably ended up in sub-part relationships, but most people ended up in the relationship they wanted. Whereas today, you have this absolute glut of opportunities. The problem is sifting through it. And I think most people's approach to dating is antiquated. It's still held over from the way people did it 20 years ago, which is like, get to know each other, don't say anything that's too off-putting, don't rock the boat at all, don't act like a weirdo. And I think today, if you have way more opportunities than you can capitalize on, but it's, the bottleneck is actually figuring out who you're compatible with, then it's probably optimal to actually be the weirdo, who asks some controversial or off-putting questions on the first date, maybe upsets a few people, maybe doesn't get called back every time, because when you do find somebody who aligns with your values, then it's like, you know immediately, you're like, "Okay, this is the person that I invest my effort into." And all those other people, I don't have to waste weeks texting with them or being ghosted or not hearing back or whatever, like, so I think it's the skill that needs to be learned in the dating world is actually getting quite confrontational with the values conversations. Like, what do you believe? What are your political views? What are your religious views? Do you want kids? Like, things that historically, you were never supposed to talk about on your first date, I think-- - Get it out there. - We should normalize getting it out there. - It's interesting, man, so my wife and I got together in 2000, and that was the play. So I had gotten to the point where I had broken up with somebody that, by my definition, went a little crazy, and I did not enjoy that experience. And so I was like, okay, my then chick, I was just trying to take out, to be quite frank, who ends up being my wife, but I was like, okay, she's legally obligated to leave the country 'cause she's from England, she was only gonna be at the time that we went on our first date, she's only gonna be there for another eight weeks. So I was like, this is amazing. Legally obligated to leave, I don't have to worry about her turning into a stage with a cleaner. - I'll never see her. - Yeah, I was like, oh my God, this is wonderful. And so on the date, I was like, I'm going to be aggressively myself because I have no fear of loss whatsoever. And so I was just like, this is who I am, this is what I'm into, and she was like, this is the weirdest date I've ever been on in my life. And as like a Brit who really grew up in the era where it was like very proper, and like you didn't talk about that kind of stuff, she was freaked out. But she was like, this was awesome. And so she had a great time and she was like, cool, well, if you're gonna be that open and honest about who you are, like here I am. And so from the jump, we were like, oh, I actually know who you are.
The only change in being in a committed relationship is your choice. (01:14:36)
You actually know who I am. Like I didn't fake it, I can't believe this is the truth. I read her some of my terrible poetry on the first date. And it was just like, yeah, like this is me, the weirdness is and all of it. And I was like, man, when a woman tries to tell me that she only has eyes for me, I'm like, forget it. There's no way you don't find Brad Pitt attracted. This is like peak fight club Brad Pitt. And I was like, I don't buy it for one second. And to be honest, that makes me insecure. If you're trying to tell me that you don't find him attractive, then I'm just like, fuck, like what do I have to do? Like is my hair okay? But if I know that you're like, oh, I find plenty of people attractive, but I'm into you and so I'm committed to this relationship, then I'm like, okay, word, I don't have to be so paranoid. And so that was how we were talking on the first date. She was just like, wow, this is like really crazy. But to your point, it established right away. Maybe I'm not the person for you. Maybe this isn't gonna be interesting for either of us. And I learned that I actually don't, I can't believe this is true, but it is. I don't enjoy sex no matter how hot the person is. If I'm not interested in who they are as a person, even if I'm like, this is the one I stand 100%. But I still wanna think you're interesting. - Yeah, yeah, for sure. I love the attraction thing. I sometimes describe it as like a lot of people's, a lot of people's conception of what commitment is is actually just like North Korea of your emotions, right? Like it's just 'cause you're married to somebody doesn't mean that you stop being human. Like it's like, if I see a hot woman, she's a hot woman, like nothing changed about how hot she is. Like she's still hot. The only thing that changes is you're, you're still physically attracted to a lot of people, but you're consciously choosing each and every day to be with this person. And I actually think like once you, if you can get to a place where each person admits that, it actually makes the commitment even more powerful because you can actually have conversations about what you think is attractive, who you think is attractive, but you're still choosing to be together. And so it becomes more meaningful. - And if you're doing it right, in my opinion, your significant other feels to the core of their existence. You're into them, you find them attractive, you're not swayed, it's not like, oh, because I find them attractive that, in any way, shape or form, I feel that that even remotely competes in the same lead with how I feel about you and sharing our life and all that.
Turn into something amazing. (01:16:58)
Like, fuck, forget it. Yes, she's attractive, hot, whatever, but it really, it really, this is gonna sound so silly when I finish the example, but it's true. I felt seen and understood by my wife. We were once at a pool party at the Roosevelt Hotel of all places here in LA, like not like some weird party. And these two women went topless, started making out, and I didn't notice. And so my wife was tapping me on the shoulder, she's like, yo, you have to see this. And I was like, I'm so in love with you right now. Like the fact that you, 'cause most the cliche goes that had I looked, my wife would be offended and she would hit me and be upset for the rest of the day. And my wife was like, making sure I didn't miss it. And I was like, oh, that's so cool. And so stuff like that is the reward that you get when you really think about, okay, I'm gonna share my life with this person, they're gonna share their lives with me. We're gonna give up a lot to be with each other. Relationships are a big compromise. They need to be worth it. And so when you go out of your way to go, okay, what would make being in a relationship with this person worth it? And I really believe that one of the, 'cause nature only has two levers to yank on, pleasure and pain. And if we are more likely to keep, to have kids and to have kids that live long enough to have kids by being a united front and helping each other out, then there's going to be some pleasure in doing that. And so what Lisa and I realized very early on is one, I want you to win. I wanna see good things happen for you. I want you to feel and just know the depth of my love. And so I'm going to externalize it. And so I made a rule with myself very early on that every time I thought a compliment, I would say it. Even though sometimes it'd be super awkward. We'd be in the middle of like, "Hey, what are we gonna do this weekend?" And I would just notice the way her hair is. I'd be like, "Damn, your hair looks really beautiful." And, or she'd say something like, "Now this happens a lot. "She's really fucking good at business." And so she'll say something and I'm like, "Oh my God." Like that is so smart. I'm like, "Hold on, I just need to say, "I don't wanna distract us, but I need to say, "I am very impressed." And you know, "Ah." And it's just like when you do that enough, enough, enough, and you're just like, "I need you to really feel "at a visceral level how much I'm into you, "impressed by you, love you, "am willing to protect you like on and on and on." It really turns into something amazing. But this isn't the message. This isn't what the cool kids say. No, no, and it's not, not only is it great for her, 'cause it makes her feel loved and seen, it's good for you too. It's like by expressing, by noticing and expressing those things, you are reinforcing the experience of appreciating those things and her. Brother, yeah. People need to hear it. Preach, smart man sense, yes, yes. It's it. That is so important. You know, it's the little things that add up over time. And I think, you know, as you, what you just said about complimenting is, is such a minor thing, but like you can never stop doing it. You mentioned the sex thing already saying, "I love you." Like even, even if we have a huge fight, we make a point to tell each other that we love each other, like mid-fight. And I think it's really important to do that because it's when emotions get high and you're feeling hurt and you're feeling afraid and you're angry, like all sorts of crazy things start going through your head and it just, it like grounds you and it brings you back to like, okay, like it's going to be fine. We're in this together. Like this is part of it. This is fight tapping, right? Yeah, I think it's, it's, there's an accumulation of small things throughout a relationship that add up into something magnificent and not easily seen. And I think romance gets so much of the attention because in romance, it tends to be a few big things. There's grand gestures. There's this insane trip we took to Hawaii or whatever and it was so romantic and those are very obvious and memorable experiences and they're also very observable from the outside. You know, what you're saying about complimenting your wife, like that's not very observable from the outside to most people, but that is that feeling that you two generate with each other and maintain over years and years and years, like that's what gives it power, right? Like that's what makes it so special. So we had, - I wanna go back to something you said really fast because I want people to hear this so badly. You were pointing out that me saying that to my wife is reinforcing in myself how I feel about my wife. Did you give me the chosen, you said that? - This is like one of my advanced tactics. The reason that I feel the way I feel when she walks in a room is because I've taken the time to reinforce - You condition yourself. - Yes. That even now, it just gave me the chose again. Even now telling you the story that when my wife walks in a room, I get happy.
Find happiness in being together. (01:22:18)
Reinforces that when my wife walks in a room, I get happy. And I thought early on, every time I have the impulse to criticize, instead of doing that, I'm gonna compliment her. It's always gonna be real. I'm never gonna say something I don't actually mean or don't actually feel. And it doesn't mean that I never criticize. But it does mean that when you have those little like, why did you leave the plate there or whatever kind of comments? It's like, you know what, thank you so much for making that meal for me or something. And that little switch makes such a big difference. - It's funny because it kind of comes back to, well, I think when a lot of people think about like what is a good relationship, they focus more on the damage control. It's like, how do you fight well or how do you not resent each other? Or, you know, how do you keep the sex life alive? But it's so much of it is doing those little positive things. Like finding things to be grateful for, expressing that gratitude, reminding yourself of what you like in each other, complimenting each other regularly. Like there's a certain amount of, there's a practice on that side as well that is probably under-discussed. - No doubt. Talk to me about fighting well. I've heard that stat and I will tell you that I've lived it, that the couples that stay together the longest are the ones that learn how to fight well. - Yeah, yeah, it's, John Gottman's got some great research that he basically, he took hundreds and hundreds of married couples, put them in a room, explicitly asked them to talk about whatever they fought about most recently. Basically got them fighting in a room and then he would watch their behavior and kind of like coded it and then track those couples over decades. And then after he saw how many of them stuck together and how many of them divorced, he kind of like backwards engineered like what the successful couples were doing correctly. And what was super interesting that he found was that successful couples don't actually resolve a lot of their fights. They don't necessarily, they're not trying to compromise all the time. Sometimes successful couples, they're just like, yeah, we agree to disagree and we have this fight every month, but whatever. Like it's just kind of like a thing we do. I think it's fighting is inevitable. There are some tactical things that you can do better or worse, it's blame. So Gottman's got, he calls him the four horsemen of the relationship apocalypse. I think one is blame, one is stonewalling, one is here I go again. - Four things. - The fourth one I have for you though, 'cause I don't know. - Yeah. - Contempt. - And that's like, oh. - Yeah. - If you see a couple that rolls their eyes, which I think is the example he gives, if they roll their eyes at each other, it's like 98% they'll be divorced in a year or something. I mean, it was like a just startling result.
And yeah, that man, you can't let that creep in. This goes back to you've got to want your partner to win. - Yes. - And one thing my wife and I learned, man, this is really worked well for us, is to speak when fighting, to speak in insecurities. So because if you're getting your backup, as my wife would say, if you're really annoyed about something, the odds that someone has triggered an insecurity of yours borders on 100%. - Oh yeah. - And so now it's like, okay, if you can identify, instead of wanting to win, where you're crafting clever arguments, if you can identify, okay, this is making me mad because of this and I'm feeling insecure about that, it diffuses the fight so fast. One, you stop arguing what we call arguing at the level of the T, 'cause the biggest fight we ever got in my audience can be tired of hearing this. The biggest fight we ever got in was over a cup of tea. And I realized this isn't about the cup of tea, what is this about? And that's when I realized, oh shit, I'm insecure about this. And then once I said that, and I was like, this is gonna be such an abrupt left turn because we were arguing, like, screaming at each other. And I was like, this is gonna be super weird, but I just like to backtrack and say, the reason that I'm upset is because I'm insecure about this. And she was like, whoa. And for her, it was like the sixth sense and the movie just played in reverse and she played that whole thing back, now understanding what I was actually worried about. And I was like, I'm so sorry, I did not realize, like I had not pulled it into my conscious mind that that's what was driving my behavior. But now that I stop and think about it, it's that. And we've carried that with us now for 20 years. - It's a great tactical tool of just like labeling where the fear or the anger is coming from on a deep level. You also alluded to what I think is probably the most important kind of mindset thing, which is I think a lot of couples see the relationship itself as a power struggle. That if their partner is getting too much attention or affection or is getting more attention and affection than they are, then that's unfair, it should be equaled out. And so they try to bring their partner down a notch and so that they can come up a notch. And that is almost by definition a toxic, like what a toxic relationship is. And it's, instead you should see it as, again, a team.
Insights On Dating And Attraction
Couples as Teams (01:27:36)
It's like us versus the world, right? And if you're winning, if you're winning right now, that's good for me, right? And hopefully one day I'll be winning too and then you'll be happy for me and vice versa. But it's hard for a lot of people because I think a lot of people's romantic relationships gets intertwined with a lot of their trauma and deep insecurities from early in their life. And so it's hard for them if they are being triggered in one of the ways that you just described, is very hard to see somebody who's triggering you as on your team. And so until that perception is resolved, it's gonna be difficult to not see the relationship itself as a power struggle. - Man, that one really scares me. And that's the part of the modern dating scene that freaks me out the most, is when I hear the most popular voices, they certainly are not giving good advice, in my opinion. But the most popular voices, they make it sound like dating is a thing I've never seen or heard of before. Because it sounds like a battle. It's adversarial, it's like me versus you. How do I keep you from taking advantage of me? And how do I maximize what I can get out of you? It is so, like I'm on their team, like for a second, I'm just gonna be like, okay, this is where young people are right now. I'm with you, I love you. I wanna see good things for you. But I'm telling you, if you go into this with an adversarial mindset, you will lose every time.
Declining Sex Rates (01:29:07)
- Oh, you're screwed. - It's so screwed. - So I really, I wanna have more of these people on the show. It puts me, it makes me feel very fatherly in like a weird way where I'm like, no, no, no, no, like trust me, like there's something beautiful on the other side of this, but if you're coming at it, like that, but I want them to lay out the hardest shit. I want them to be like, yo, bro, you don't understand what it's like out here with dating apps and hypergamy and all this stuff and like guys are getting the shaft and they just can't be taken advantage of anymore. And these girls are all on OnlyFans. So it's like, okay, let's lay out all the brutality because clearly something is happening. Because it really has become dysfunctional. You've got declining sex rates, you've got marriage in the toilet, fatherlessness. I mean, it's just, it's not an ideal bundle of things. So it's like, okay, how do we start teasing some of these things out? And I'm just arrogant enough where I'm like, I really think even in this crazy environment, the path forward is still the first date that you and I were talking about, which is, okay, I've had to do a lot of work to actually be interesting. I've had to do a lot of work to understand like, oh, I wanna know about you. I wanna hear about you. And I'm gonna take you to a place that one makes you feel good, makes you feel safe, is intriguing. And I'm asking you questions and maybe you haven't even asked about yourself. And not in a way so I can get one over on you or dunk on you or whatever.
Advice that resonates with people (01:30:36)
By the end of it, I want you to be like, damn, like I never saw myself in that way. And just show people how rad it feels when somebody is there sincere because you can't bullshit people. But you're sincerely trying to elevate them and find interesting things and you're not playing a game. It's like, I'm gonna tell you exactly what I think. - Yeah, well, it's, so I don't necessarily think this is a modern thing or not super modern. Like I think this strain of advice, this scene relationships as a power struggle, this message, it's been cyclical. It's like every generation has had an iteration of it. You know, my generation, it was the pickup artist thing. In the 90s, there was a thing called the rules. I think the generation before that, it was the men who were from Mars, when we were from Venus. Like there's just this every 10, 12 years, there's a new version that pops up and they look at whatever people's frustrations are in the dating market at that time. - They use that as a justification for these unhealthy relationship behaviors. - Why isn't the crush? Why is the power struggle the thing that lets people cope? - I, well, so if you are a insecure person who has been hurt deeply, whether it be through rejection or a dysfunctional family or whatever, I think one of the most fundamental feelings that you have is disempowerment. You feel like you don't have control over your own life. So when somebody shows up and starts telling you, "relationships are a power game," you need to follow these tips to take control and like win back your power from men or from women, it's a very appealing message to that person. Because that person's never experienced a healthy relationship, so they don't know what a healthy relationship feels like. They've only experienced unhealthy relationships, which are power dynamics, and they've been on the losing end of those power dynamics. So step one in their head is to get on the winning side of that power dynamic. And what usually happens is they do get on the winning side of that power dynamic at some point. They use the advice, they go get laid, or they go get a girlfriend or a boyfriend or whatever. They've exercised their power and taken control, and they've realized that that's not fulfilling at all. It's like, "Okay, now I'm getting sex, "and I have a partner, but it's not enjoyable. "Like we fight all the time, "it feels very empty and meaningless, "it's very stressful, it's not adding anything to my life." And so they, some of them will make the jump to the healthy relationships, but not all of them do. But it's, so I just think with every generation, right now we have Gen Z is coming of age, and just like the millennials, before them, there's gonna be a massive amount of demand for this type of content and material. And I think like the millennials, it'll run its course. In five years, most of Gen Z is gonna try a bunch of this stuff and realize that it didn't make them happy, it didn't really work. They're gonna mature a little bit, and they'll end up back in healthy relationship land, and then the general, five, six years after that, the generation under them, when we're all in VR headsets or whatever, like there's gonna be some dude standing up saying like, this is what you gotta do, you gotta win the pussy back and all this stuff, and we're just gonna go through it all over again. So I do think there are some interesting observations about the dating market in terms of it is not, the struggles that men and women go through are not symmetrical, and this is something like, I've written, so I started my career in dating advice. So I started writing about this stuff like 2008, and the asymmetry in dating problems is, it is part of the problem because women only see the problem that women have, they don't see the problem that men have. And so it's very easy for women to be like, wow, men have it so easy, they can just send dick pics to 100 women and whoever, the one that responds. - Only that works. - Yeah, right? - The one that responds is like, he'll actually go out with her, whereas men only see the men's problems, they don't see the women's problems. So they think, oh wow, women have it so easy, they just post a hot picture, and they get all these simps fawning over them all the time, right? And they don't understand that, women don't understand that men have the issue of, to be effective in the dating market as a man, you have to be willing to be rejected a lot. Like that is just a fact that you're gonna have to make your peace with at some point, and women don't see that. And what men don't see is that if you're a woman, if you're an attractive woman, you are gonna get a lot of attention from a lot of men that you don't want attention from. And that is also something you're gonna figure out how to deal with. And I think what, because the two problems on each side, well, I think on the men's side, they see the women's problem, and they're like, that's not a problem, I would love that problem, but they don't understand that it is actually a problem. Like you filtering effectively, is a very difficult problem for a lot of women, and a lot of them struggle with it quite a bit. And I think women, women say like, man, I wish I could message 20 guys and get responses, and I wish I had more control over who I actually got to talk to, but they don't see the rejection side of it. They don't see just the constant bruising your self-esteem takes when message after message goes unreplied to. So it's not easy for anybody, and it never has been easy for anybody. I think that's another narrative that is very easy to sell.
It's very easy to say like, back in your parents' generation, they just did this, and it was so easy, and it's like, well, no, they also struggled with these issues. It looked a lot different. In many ways, it was less complex, but that doesn't mean it was any easier. - Yeah, I very much agree. So I had no game with women whatsoever. Like none. It's probably good that I didn't find that community. I was a little before the pickup artist's time, but luckily I knew a guy that was really good with women, and by then I was so fed up, 'cause I was the guy that everyone tells you not to be. So I would show up on date one with literal flowers and literal custom written poetry. I once asked a girl out in a poem, like, "Custom written for her." And she rejected it no date. Like, I was just like, "Oh God." But I could not understand why they weren't working. It was everything that I was told women were into. And so it's the, I lived the nice guy things. I was never a dick about it, but I was starting to be like, "I don't understand why this isn't working." Like, "These are good poems." Like, "What the fuck is the problem?" And I was very surprised. Thankfully, I turned inward and was like, "I'm doing something wrong." That is very clear to me. I don't know what it is. I don't understand it, but I'm doing something wrong. So I went and asked guy, he was very successful. And I was just like, "What do you do?" And he's like, "Oh, be an asshole." And I was like, "Oh my God." And it was one of the, I just, I was like, "Okay, I know that isn't true. I know that's not the path forward because these are people." And nobody wants to be with an asshole. So what is it that women are drawn to that's led this to be the cliche? And that's when I realized, "Oh, he's willing to walk away." So what he means is, a loof isn't quite the right word, but it has to be that like, "I'm self-assured. I don't need you. I might want you, but I don't need you." And so it creates a far more interesting dynamic. And thankfully I'd been so bad with women. There was this, my crush in high school. Every time we would date, she would break up with me 'cause she's like, "You're different when we're together." And I just could not understand what she meant. Now what she meant was when we were not together, I was just myself. We'd get together and then I was afraid I'd lose her. So I would start being cautious and all that. And so I, it's too young, couldn't make it make sense. - So in my book, "Models," I actually, that was the term I used, was non-neediness. And as like the root of attraction. And it's, and I think what happens is a lot of the toxic advice, for men, the toxic advice is basically teaching them how to be an asshole. It's basically a guy saying, "You've been on the losing end of the power struggle. "Here's how to be on the winning end of the power struggle." Not realizing that it's the power struggle itself. That is the problem. And so, for me, non-neediness is, let's take the part of being an asshole that benefits you, which is not being needy. And Lynn, let's like lose the asshole part. Let's be respectful and non-needy. How about that? And to me, that's like, if you can figure out how to do that, like develop the skill set to be non-needy and respectful of people, which being respectful requires the willingness to hear no and be rejected and not be but heard about it. If you can get to that point, then you're pretty much set. - And go be awesome at something. - Yes. - 'Cause you're gonna get your own self-respect. This is something I worry a lot about, is that people just aren't earning their own respect. And if you don't earn your own respect, that's gonna drip off of you. And you're gonna have a very hard time convincing somebody else to respect you if you haven't figured that out. So being awesome at something that you care about, ideally being awesome at something you care about that the kind of woman you're trying to attract would also care about. That goes a long way. But even if you can't line that up, like at least be really focused and attentive on something that matters to you, that you're passionate about, like people I know have heard this before. It's like there's something about hearing someone talk about what they're passionate about, even if you don't care about it, even if you don't know about it. When somebody's like really into something and they're able to convey that, it's like, whoa, they light up. You realize they have a life beyond you that they're more integrated in some way that makes them very attractive. I know you've said that you're attracted to women who are ambitious.
Attracted to Ambitious Women (01:41:24)
Which I thought was interesting. Tell me more about that. - I don't know where that comes from. It's just something I noticed over the years dating a lot of women. Like I was never able to, like I dated a number of women who were beautiful, happy to be like the traditional, like cooked dinner for you when you get home, make the bed for you, you know, take care of the house, make my life easy, like the very, very old fashioned, like, you know, 1950s leave it to be a type housewife. And I would get so bored so fast. And there was nothing, you know, there's nothing wrong with them. It was just the way they were. And they were really nice women. But I found that I need a woman who is very smart and very motivated in the world to do something in the world. Like that's just, it turns me on more than anything. And I just learned that about myself. Like everybody, that doesn't make it right or wrong. It's just different. And I do think one of the problems that people have, you know, I do think you need to, this is why you shouldn't, well, it's not that you shouldn't marry your high school sweetheart, it's just not. - Odds are against you. - The odds are against you is because you do need to be exposed to a certain number of people and value systems to really, really know and understand like what you mesh well with and what excites you in a partner. And so I do, for people who have not had enough dating experience to really have clarity around that, I do think it's useful. I think the bad version of that advice is you need to date around enough to have enough sex with enough people that you like get it out of your system.
Why Not to Date Around to Get It Out of Your System (01:43:14)
Like that's kind of the bad version of that advice. The reason that is the bad version of that advice is because sex is not something you get out of your system. It's a behavior that you, you know, you condition within yourself. So if you start conditioning yourself to want to have sex with a lot of people, then you're only going to keep wanting to have sex with a lot of people. Like it doesn't work in reverse. So it's, it's, - You don't think that people get fed up? - And there is that emptiness that you were talking about before? - I don't think so. I think it's kind of like, it's very similar to, you know, so back in the 60s and the 70s, they used to have this form of therapy where like, if you had anger issues, then you like scream into a pillow and beat the crap out of the pillow. And that was supposed to like release your anger, right? Like this, it's this concept of like, it's in the research, they call it like the hydraulic theory of emotion or impulse. And the idea was like, you just get the anger out and then you won't be angry when you go home. Well, what, what it turns out that actually happens is, the more you scream into that pillow and punch the pillow, the more you're kind of the same way you're like training yourself when you compliment your wife to compliment your wife more, you're training yourself to like scream and punch pillows more. And so you're actually reinforcing the emotion you're trying to get away from. - You're practicing being angry. - And so I've seen so many young men be like, well, I met this woman that I'm crazy about, but I've only slept with like, I've only had like five sexual partners and that doesn't seem like it's enough. I should have more than that before I settle down with somebody. So I'm gonna like, put like get rid of this really great relationship that makes me happy so I can go fucking five anonymous strangers that I'm never gonna think about or care about again. And it's like somehow that seems like a very rational decision to a lot of young men. And I say this as a, as a, I used to be a young man that this seemed very rational to. I can, on the, being on the other side of that, I can tell you it's not a rational decision. And having a lot of friends and just knowing a lot of men who have made that choice, like it is not the correct choice. You are actually just reinforcing the behavior that you want to get out of your system. So, so that's the bad version of that advice. The good version of that advice is you need to date enough to understand what makes you happy, right? Like, as you said, like a lot of us have pre-defined scripts or assumptions about like what a good partner is, things that our parents told us, things that our church or our teachers or our community told us. And we don't actually know until we've actually gone out and dated those people. And I think what most people experience is that you finally date that person who in your head was the perfect 10 and you get a month into it and you're like, this isn't a 10, this is like a six. Like, I'm actually not that happy here. And that's a very important thing to realize and understand about yourself. - Yeah, Lisa and I have always used the analogy of finding somebody that you really can jam with and be into for a long period of time isn't like two puzzle pieces coming together. It's like two ripped pages with all these intricate jagged little edges and finding somebody that you line up with enough of those, you're like, oh, this is like really gonna fit.
Broader Life Reflections And Conclusions
Is, I don't think there's one person for everybody. I think that there's probably a large number of people that you could meet no matter where you live. You're gonna find this kind of person. But they're not on every street corner, that's for sure. And so if you find it, it's like, I'm not interested in like constantly looking for the next model. And that was one thing that I said to Lisa when we got together, I was like, you never, and I mean never, have to worry about me ditching you and upgrading to a younger version of you. I'm like, that's not my scene. That's not the experiment that we're running together here. It's like, I wanna know what it looks like to build a life together. And so we won't even joke about the word divorce. It's just not even on the table. It's not an option. We wouldn't stay if it was loveless or if one of us was abusive. But it's like, since we know how to avoid that, then it's like, that's just not even on the table. And it really does create a far more interesting dynamic. But yeah, when you've got, and I, God, did I ever think I need to bang more chicks? No, I did not, but I will say it became, so for a long time, I wanted to save myself for marriage. And then I realized, that no longer strikes me as a good idea. And so then it was like, okay, I did wanna have a certain amount of experience. I didn't have a number in my head where I was like, I need to hit that number. But I was like, yeah, I don't wanna marry the first person I sleep with, that is for sure. Yeah, I do think some amount of sexual experience is probably good to have. But I think the way it gets framed for a lot of young men is just, it's silly. Have enough sex to know what you like and don't like, and date enough people to know what you like and don't like. And then if you find a great person that it feels great, go with it. It's interesting how much, at least for me, personality plays into everything. The loneliest I have ever been in my life was in the middle of having sex with somebody I didn't care about. Who I just, I didn't have any connection. I couldn't even be like, and we both like basketball. Like there was nothing. And I was like, this is really boring. And it was so ironic to me to be like, I'm literally inside your body, and I feel completely alone. Like, so weird. So yeah, that was never gonna be the path that I ended up on. - Yeah. - But yeah. - I think the potential for awkwardness of One Night Stands is also under-discussed, especially among men and young men. Like it's, there's still so much validation and self-esteem that it's like wrapped up in sex and for men in particular that-- - It's also really fun. - It is fun, and it can be super fun. Like I've had a lot of One Night Stands work that were a blast, great memories. And I've had a lot of One Night Stands that were terrible and super awkward and completely disconnected and embarrassing. And it's, but you know, people don't talk about that side of it. It's like the enjoyment of a One Night Stand, you know, the hit rate is not that high. - Give me your most awkward One Night Stand. - Most awkward. It's been a long time, man. I don't know. You know, there's just a number of, well, it's usually alcohol is involved, first of all. You know, there are a number of instances of, you know, waking up the next day, next to a girl that I don't really remember anything about her. - Oh God. - Not particularly attracted to her. And you just kind of wonder like, why am I here? But then, you know, I was so young and immature at that time that, you know, the significance of like, yeah, I got laid, you know, kind of outweighed all that other stuff. But, you know, if I'm being honest, as an older, as an old man, if I'm more-- - Easy, cheap, since you're, you know. - You're much younger than me. - If I'm looking back and being honest, in a vacuum, it was not an enjoyable experience. And it probably wasn't for her either. But this is, so this is back in the pickup artist industry. This is what I always used to say, and it would make guys really, really uncomfortable, which is men come to that industry for the approval of women. They stay for the approval of men. - That's interesting. - Because I think a lot of the guys, like, look, every guy wants to have some sexual experiences. Every guy wants to be able to have a little bit more power and options in his dating life. But, the men who obsess over it, and like really kind of become compulsive about it, it's never about the women.
Why Men Get into PUA - Abdication of Emotional Dependency (01:51:43)
It's about the approval from other men. And it's, it took me a long time to kind of figure that out about myself. And I think, and it was an important realization. And I think it's just something that needs to be said, especially the guys who like that sort of content and consume a lot of it. Like, you're not consuming all that content for the women. - You actually said something that I wrote down along these lines about what people are actually pursuing in life. I think this is really interesting. This is a paraphrase, but people care about who they're with, what they're pursuing, and what people think about them. That's 80 to 90% of life. - Yeah. - That's razor sharp, insightful. - Yeah, it's, it's, I think we like to imagine that our happiness and meaning is tied up in all these like very complicated philosophical issues. And at the end of the day, it's like, who are you spending time with?
What are you working on? And how are you treating yourself? Like are you taking care of your health or not? And if you can nail those three things, yeah, you're like 80, 90% of the way there. Like all, all the other stuff is just window dressing. - And what do you think about from a Buddhist perspective of detaching, letting go, not being so obsessed around those if they're so all consuming. And, and I agree with your earlier assessment that you're never going to not care about what other people think. And you probably shouldn't even try to not care, but it can become all consuming and very pathological. - Yeah. - So how do the Buddhists have the right answer to that? Like what, what is the way to put that in its proper place? - I am not a strict philosophical Buddhist. You know, I see-- - You're not a Zen teacher. You are exactly the only person I know with a Zen teacher. - I mean, I studied Buddhism and practiced Buddhism for a number of years, but it's funny. I don't consider myself a Buddhist. I consider myself influenced by Buddhism. I see a lot of the Buddhist insights as like tools, right? So to me, non-attachment is, it's a tool or it is a, it's kind of like a mindset or an approach. Of just reminding yourself of like, yes, social validation, it can make you happy or unhappy, but like don't ever forget that it's not really real. Like these are just, these are just chemicals firing in your brain and as you said, like subroutines of our consciousness. And you know, whether the friends I had dinner with last night didn't laugh at my jokes, like whether that matters or not, you know, it's all in my head. So I think that's a useful perspective to be able to access at certain moments to kind of keep yourself stable and sane. I think Buddhism takes it to an extreme where it's like nothing matters, like there's nothing exists. It's all imagined. And that may be true, but I don't find that very practical when you're like trying to live in LA and have a career and have a family. - Interesting. So as you consider yourself influenced by Buddhism, I consider myself influenced by Taoism. And for quite some time, Ashley called myself a Taoist. That led me to exploring Buddhism, looking at it, I'm far more familiar with Taoism than I am Buddhism, but the, I really looked at the idea of nonattachment, completely letting go. And the irony is I think that they are right that all of suffering really does stem from, I want this thing, and that thing can be, I wanted this outcome from this moment. I wanted the Christmas to go better. I wanted the joke to be funny or whatever, but it's attachment to a thing, a desired outcome, whatever. And when I look at my own suffering, it is always tied to that. But when I project my life out where I live a monastic life, just like, wow, I really, I would give up some suffering. I wouldn't suffer as much, that is for sure. But also the depth of the joy, the honor of being able to put myself in the arena and see what I can accomplish. And the bad news is that, you know, for all I've accomplished, I set my sights higher and higher, which you have worn people not to do. But I enjoy that quest because I have a very healthy understanding that the most likely outcome is failure. And so I'm like, okay, I'm continually ratcheting this up. At some point, you try to climb a mountain so high you die. It's just like, this, hey, Mount Everest is literally littered with the bodies of people that have tried. So I am aware of that, but even in the face of that, I find myself wanting to embrace the challenge of mountain climbing over, and it would still be a challenge, the challenge of a monastic life. That feels to me like tapping out. You get an amazing reward for it, but it doesn't feel like making the most of this human experience. - I think it sounds, I think you and I align on this. It's funny, I have a friend who's a meditation teacher and like pretty intense Buddhist, and I've talked to him about this before. And the point I always come back to is like, look, 2,500 years ago, you weren't giving up a whole lot by going and sitting in a cave and staring at a wall for 10 years. Like, there wasn't much happening outside of that cave either, right? So whereas these days, like, yeah, there's a huge, there's a bounty of complexity and amazing culture and society and everything. I think to me, the way I've kind of, I guess, integrated the Buddhist wisdom into my own approach to what you just described is, I think the wisdom that it lends is when you're climbing that mountain, don't forget that it's just a mountain and you chose the climate and you can choose to stop climbing it at any time. To me, that's what non-attachment means. And in Buddhism, they're very explicit about this, that when you get very good at non-attachment or even achieve enlightenment, you don't stop suffering. You just stop being attached to that suffering or identifying with that suffering. It's like suffering just becomes yet another sensation that passes like a cloud. And so nothing actually practically changes outward in your life. It's simply the mental constructs. I guess you could say it's the realization that everything is simply a mental construct that is arising and falling in your consciousness. I love the old zen zen where they say, before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. And I relate to that on, I guess, how much less profound or spiritual level, just growing older and more successful.
Growing Older and More Successful (01:59:15)
Like I look at my ambition in my 20s and maybe you relate to this, but my ambition in my 20s, it was very driven by like, I need to prove something. Like I have to, I need to make a bunch of money. I need to be successful. I need to like show that I'm smart and that I'm doing something cool and great and impress a bunch of people. And then you achieve a bunch of those things and you realize that none of it really sticks or makes you happy. And now I want to achieve things just 'cause it's fun to achieve things. It's fun to create things in the world. It's fun to improve lives. And like there's no need to prove something. There's nothing I'm trying to like show to myself or to anybody. - Really, even not to yourself. - Yeah, it's like you said, I really resonate with, it's that comfort with failure. It's like I'm investing, I'm gonna try to do, over the next couple of years I'm gonna do a bunch of stuff with my YouTube channel. I completely recognize that it may end up not being worth it. It may not go nearly as well as I wanted to or hope that it will. And I'm comfortable with that. Whereas I think 10 years ago, that would have been mortifying that idea. Like a book coming out and not doing super well. Like that would have been mortifying 10 years ago or even five years ago. And now it's kind of like, well, that's just, I'm gonna have a long career and I'm not gonna hit a home run every time.
Making the Most out of this Human Experience (02:00:57)
So, and it's actually very similar to what we were saying about, you know, when you're insecure, you see everything as a power struggle and you wanna get from the losing side to the winning side. And then once you're on the winning side, you realize the real way to win is to stop the power struggle and just opt out of the game altogether. And I think it's the same with kind of a pursuit of success. You know, when you've experienced no success, you just wanna get to success. You don't really care how. But then once you get to success, you're like, wow, I don't feel any different. And so then you just realize that the construct of success is completely made up and you've been torturing yourself for 10 years for no reason. - And it's interesting, success is such a mixed bag because I think you will agree that the money's real. - Yeah. - It's very powerful. - Yes. - But it cannot change how you feel about yourself. - Nope. - And people think it's going to make them feel cool. - Yep. - And it doesn't. And all of your insecurities, I remember when it literally for me was in an instant. I'd spent, God knows how long, building companies, but the day that the money hit was like all in one refresh in my banking app. And I was like, oh wow, what's the mark to end quote? Wherever you go, there you are. It's like however much money you have, there you are. It's like, it didn't matter. And I was like, oh God, thankfully I already knew that. So it was not like some big surprising moment, but I thought this is how people really spiral out of control because they're expecting in that moment for something to change and for the world that more colors are something. And it's like, oh, I'm in this new class and everything is different. But money really does buy cool shit. And you can do amazing things. It was actually really interesting hearing you talk about Will Smith because I don't know. You wrote Ghost Wrote, wrote, no, your name's in the, thanks, and I was wrote. Co wrote his autobiography and that, the fact that you've been able to see firsthand how somebody of like his stature moves through the world, it's pretty interesting. But you said, yes, but I'm glad it's not my life. Yeah, and that I thought put a pretty interesting point on it. Yeah, I think there's an optimal level of fame and I'm probably pretty close to it already. Maybe a little bit past it. I would not want to be as famous as him. The money, I mean, sure, I'll take Will Smith money. Like I would have no complaint about Will Smith money. I don't need Will Smith money, but that's not the problem. I definitely think the curve of happiness to fame is a bell curve and... Of declining utility. So peaks and then goes back down. And I think there's actually very large costs on like far on the other side. That yeah, I don't, like you lose privacy, there's security concerns, there's all sorts of stuff.
Where to Find Mark (02:04:05)
I think the optimal level of fame is probably where both of us are at. It's like you get recognized on the street just enough to make your day, but it never interferes with your life. I feel invisible still, which is lovely, but every now and then someone will come up and it's like, oh, it's lovely.
That feels good. Yeah, that's cool. Brother, I'm so into what you're doing. I can't wait to see what you do on YouTube. Where can people follow you? Follow me on YouTube, Mark Manson, or markmanson.net. I like it. All right, everybody, if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. And until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care, peace. Watch this video to learn my personal process to achieve any goal and completely change your life. It's become so bizarre in society where we are celebrating people that are not pushing their physical limits. And I'm just telling you right now, I don't pass any moral judgment on anybody that decides that they don't want to do that. But I will tell you, 1,000 people are going to be able to do this.