Tag Archives: relationships

Making Relationships Great Again, Part 2: Three New Rules for a Post-Weinstein Era

As regular readers of this blog will be well aware, back in the comparatively innocent days of January 2017 we published a piece – inspired by an article at the magnificent Fashion Artista – which exhorted women to help make relationships great again, in large part by recognising the power that they have to reject mediocre processes and outcomes.

However, since the recent, explosive and murky revelations involving the now former CEO of The Weinstein Company – accusations which are themselves giving birth to a seemingly endless and grotesque reel of similar allegations against all manner of entities – it has quickly become apparent that the relationship scene in much of the developed world is even worse than we thought: a broadly post-religious, post-modern milieu which is not merely defined by empty sex, but arguably some seriously abusive practices which are rapidly corroding the very fabric of the individual.

Given this reality – and to avoid a situation where the human interaction environment resembles a zero-trust zone in which the only winners are lawyers – there is, perhaps now more than ever before, an absolutely desperate need for some new rules which help obviate the desecration of male-female relationships. After some contemplation, here they are:

  1. The ‘Serie A Handball’ Rule. Those soccer fans with even a passing familiarity with Italy’s Serie A will have noticed an intriguing development in recent seasons: that of defenders placing their hands behind their back at the mere possibility of an incoming aerial pass into the penalty area by the opposing team. The reason they do this is to avoid any suggestion that they might intentionally handle the ball and give away a spot-kick. Similarly, men in positions of power over females should adopt a zero ambiguity approach pertaining to physical contact that leaves no doubt as to their good intentions.
  2. The ‘Female Sexual Desire Exists’ Rule. A longstanding moral precept in Western Christian and even post-Christian culture is the idea that women are – somehow – not supposed to show interest in sex. This is problematic on many levels, but the key point here is that it deprives women of agency in relationships: because they are not meant to display certain emotions and desires, this in turn gives creepy predators a kind of cultural licence to proceed with nefarious acts on the grounds that lukewarm reactions to even wanted sexual advances are normalised. Conversely, in traditional Chinese, Islamic and Japanese cultures, fulfilment of female sexual desire is itself perceived as a sublime goal, so long as this takes place in the right context. Comprehending these teachings in their fullness is not merely viable; it is urgent.
  3. The ‘Just Be’ Rule. When women are (i) not under constant threat of being intimidated, groped, or worse; and (ii) respected as people who have a powerful and discerning sexual dimension that is not afraid to make itself known, the psychological space to develop deep emotional connections can appear. And men can, in turn, relax and just be, safe in the knowledge that females – who are an order of magnitude more obsessed with love, sex and relationships than most males can ever realise – will not hesitate to let a man they like be aware of precisely that fact. Moreover, this system incentivises non-predatory behaviour whilst rewarding virtue; it represents a serious upgrade on today’s degraded dynamics.

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Making Relationships Great Again: From Disenchantment to Magic via Game Theory

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Notwithstanding the tumultuous socio-psychological state of today’s world, there is actually surprisingly little which keeps our Creative Director & CSO awake at night. One of the exceptions to this rule is the seemingly relentless march – particularly, though by far from exclusively, in technology-defined cities such as London – towards a post-human society in which human beings are increasingly perceived as disposable. Within the job market, robots are unquestioningly viewed as superior replacements; within wider society, immigrants and other out-groups are libellously demonised in a way that even two years ago would have seemed almost unthinkable.

The dating scene is not immune to this logic. People – real people with feelings, emotions, sensibilities and fragilities – are now routinely dismissed with not so much as a left swipe on a screen. And for those people who do get dates, the shadow of ritual humiliation is rarely too far from the surface.

In recent years, much of the analysis of post-modern dating’s sub-optimal outcomes has focused on this topic from male perspectives; while this is in some ways entirely understandable, these narratives have tended to marginalise or even ignore a genuinely disturbing phenomenon: that of women in consenting relationships being starved of affection, used and then unceremoniously discarded by men who seem incapable of forming attachments – or beyond this, even basic empathy.

It was therefore with great relief that we at Mediolana came across a recent item at FASHIONARTISTA – a beauty industry/lifestyle blog with a burgeoning and richly-merited following – which addresses this issue head-on. In Why We Are Losing Our Charm And How To Get It Back, game theory is used to great effect in illustrating how the dynamics of male-female dating interactions can be tipped back towards sanity by the latter adopting a classic ‘less skin, more charm’ strategy.

By metaphorically augmenting one’s character with a layer of mystery (and perhaps literally adding a layer of clothing to the evening brand), the terrain of the dating game can be changed from one which is primarily about sex to one which is about the quality of the human being you are having dinner with; sex does not disappear, but instead has a chance to occur at such a time when it can possess some metaphysical significance – and with this, a corresponding leap in quality and connection.

So far, so logical – but what if adoption of this strategy still ends in rejection? After some contemplation, this is where – at least for us at Mediolana – ‘less skin, more charm’ comes into its own. If a young lady is following the rest of the advice given at FASHIONARTISTA’s blog – which can best be summarised as counsel on the art of being more graceful – and there are still no takers in her social circle or dating market, then the course of action is clear. Change your social circle, change your location, change the religion and/or weltanschauung of the people you date (or even your own). Refuse to be stuck in a cycle of second-rate relationships – go to where the great guys are and be appreciated for being you in all your glory. Numbering the days of the disposable society requires nothing less.

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All Played Out: Three Dating Questions for a Post-PUA Era

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One of the best things about being based in a truly global metropolis like London is the constant exposure to new ideas and concepts – no matter how counterintuitive – and meeting the people at their cutting edge. Recently, our Creative Director & CSO cast his mind back a decade to the emergence of the city’s pickup artist (‘PUA’) scene, a natural outgrowth of a curious American phenomenon which promised to turn wallflowers into casanovas through cultivation of ‘game’. Game – arguably one of the worst-defined terms in contemporary English – can perhaps best be understood as a sort of relationship psy-ops that purportedly enables full-spectrum romantic conquest.

Sympathetic to but not ultimately convinced by the underlying logic of the PUA movement, we at Mediolana had almost entirely forgotten about our brief encounter with the same. However, thanks to a chance, auto-generated Internet hyperlink, we have now become aware of what the rest of the world has known for some time: numerous key protagonists of the global PUA tendency have all but renounced their affiliation. The fate of Neil ‘Style’ Strauss is particularly instructive: the author of 2005’s seminal text The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists and former consort of Britney Spears, Strauss wound up in a sex addiction clinic and now swears by monogamy; having held a symbolic funeral for his alter-ego, he married the Mexico-born, California-based model Ingrid De La O in August 2013, and they welcomed their first child into this world in March 2015.

Prompted by these developments, we at Mediolana reflected on exactly why the PUA phenomenon failed to speak to us, and after some contemplation we concluded that it was principally because it had failed to ask the right questions. The movement’s stated aim – successful seduction of females by males culminating in zero-context sex, in a nutshell – means that it is almost always going to descend into statistical fixation (telephone numbers obtained per day, ‘notches’ racked up per month, etc.) with little or no risk of experiencing anything deeper.

Conversely, the post-PUA era demands a more profound line of questioning. While this blog is no dating column, men would do well to ask the following three questions of themselves:

  1. Are you virtuous enough to inspire loving behaviour? The PUA scene saw coupling as a product of things such as money, status, dress, conversational routines and crude emotional manipulation. This often resulted in the development of thinly-veiled abusive relationships, with dictatorial and paranoid ‘players’ wielding a command-and-control model to rule over ‘their’ women. Examining one’s own character through the lens of virtue is a much more intimidating course of action, but if you can audit yourself objectively then you may yet end up in the dream position of having a female do nice things for you not owing to external compulsion, but because she loves you.
  2. Are you capable of treating a beautiful woman as a gateway to Infinity? Throughout (and indeed beyond) the PUA movement, it was standard operating procedure to rank women on a numerical scale of 1-10 according to their physical beauty; men were also ordered on a similar scale, but using a more complicated mix of attributes aligning broadly with the ‘game’ concept. This generated an enormous amount of speculation. Could a 6 male go out with a 9.5 female? Were females valued at 8 too emotionally high maintenance for the return-on-investment? And what exactly is a 10? However, it is far more productive to ascertain if you are capable of relating to a beautiful woman as a gateway to Infinity. Paradoxically, this means developing an appreciation of beautiful women in ways that incorporate but transcend their physical appearance. If you can relate to them on a soul level having gone at least some way towards training your own soul (see numbered paragraph 1 above), then you can enter an entirely new dimension of spiritual experience.
  3. Are your expectations meaningful? Predominantly statistical approaches produce predominantly statistical results, and in an era of genuinely unprecedented superficiality, this can lead to perverse expectations: men who out of some firmly-held and logically indefensible principle will not date women with non-blonde hair; women below the height of 1.72m; women who telephone them more than once every three days; women who take selfies; women with the ‘wrong’ taste in music; women who wear jeans instead of dresses…vacuous criteria such as these kill serious relationships before they have a chance to begin. Instead, focus on the stuff that actually matters: the quality of the human being. Seeking out attributes which almost no one even considers – such as having a high capacity for love – can bulldoze shallow rules like practically nothing else.

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From ‘I Feel So Lonely’ to ‘Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?’: Student Anomie in the Digital Era

Back in 1978, Japanese electronics colossus NEC – an organisation based in Minato, a quarter of Tokyo which hosts 49 embassies – began to implement its C&C concept, whereby it envisaged the integration of computers and communication technologies; in the same year, anomie-ridden Police members Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers roamed around the underground system of the Japanese capital for the video clip to accompany the sublimely solipsistic So Lonely. If the first decade or so of the hyperconnected twenty-first century is anything to go by, it seems that isolation is now so mainstream that a US comedy outfit such as The Guild – fronted by uber-geek Felicia Day, Alabama’s most unlikely export – can author a ditty entitled Do You Wanna Date My Avatar? without anyone raising much beyond an ironic smile.

However, as a recent report by United Kingdom charity the Mental Health Foundation – The Lonely Society? – amply illustrates, the issue of loneliness is something that deserves our sincere attention. Isolation is a genuine problem for significant sections of the population in the UK; the following findings will resonate across much of the developed world:

1. The percentage of households occupied by one person more than doubled from 6% in 1972 to 12% in 2008;

2. The divorce rate has almost doubled in the past 50 years;

3. A sense of community had eroded in almost every area of the UK over the past 30 years.

Students in particular should be aware that prolonged loneliness can have serious consequences, including but not limited to the following:

A. Higher stress levels;

B. A weaker immune system;

C. Negatively impacted cardiovascular function;

D. A higher propensity to risk-taking behaviours, such as alcohol and drug abuse;

E. Exacerbating mental disorders such as anxiety and paranoia.

In a digital era which is permeated by what Harvard professors of psychiatry Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz have identified as a ‘cult of busyness’, students – particularly those who are having to try to attain academic excellence under severe economic and/or personal pressure – should never forget that while discipline and a grasp of solitude are essential to success, they should never lose sight of the importance of investing time and energy in quality friendships of lasting duration; indeed, their psychological and physical health demand it.

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