Saturday, 4 April 2015

Presorting for assholes. 04.04.15

"All women are sluts!" my friend proclaims loudly (if somewhat drunkenly). He's having relationships problems again. Apparently the gal of his dreams is giving him "mixed messages," blowing hot and cold, so he doesn't know where he stands. After his last spectacular break-up, caused by his walking into his partner and one of his colleagues making the beast with two backs in his bed, he's concerned about getting burnt again. He wants to be sure that this girl really cares.

"She'll talk to me for hours, then her boyfriend comes back and..."  WAIT A MOMENT. Her boyfriend? "Yes, he's working away in Egypt at the moment, but when he comes back home..." HANG ON. They are living together? "Yes, but the relationship has been shit for ages, she's just staying there until she can afford to move out..." But they are still in a relationship? "Yeah, well, she has to be with him. She can't tell him to fuck off until she can move out." DUDE. Don't you think that's messed up? "Eh? What?"

And there you have it. It turns out that my friend had only, solely and uniquely dated women he'd poached from someone else. Their existing relationship was languishing, so, after a bit of dedicated wooing on his part, they'd dumped their partner and taken up with him. Lo and behold, each and every one of them had eventually ended up dumping him for someone else.

He couldn't see the connection. He thought that poaching was just the way everyone found partners, that flirting with someone while in a relationship was perfectly normal, but cheating was a really awful behavioural trait peculiar to all women. He just hadn't figured out that the way he was picking his partners meant that he was presorting for cheaters.

(Not that everyone who cheats once will do it again, but there are people who habitually move from partner to partner like Tarzan swinging from liana to liana. They don't give up the old one until they've got a firm grip on the new one, and if a better prospect presents itself they are off again.)

It made me think about the dangers of unconscious presorting. Sometimes it ought to be bloody obvious, but somehow it doesn't seem to be.  For instance, I know people who only pick up dates in bars, yet are surprised if their partners like a drink. Sometimes it's a bit more complicated and requires a degree of self-awareness. For instance, one of my bosses, in his late 60s and not in the best physical state, would only date women in their early 20s. He was endlessly shocked to find that the ones he managed to catch were either money-grabbers or "had issues."

Presorting doesn't have to be a bad thing. It can help you weed out people who do not share your interests or meet your requirements. I have a great degree of envy for people who live lives that presort in a healthy, constructive manner. It doesn't matter if they know what they are doing, because ultimately they are doing the right things, which lead them to get the right results.

When the presorting is unconscious and leads to undesirable results time and time again, though, it can be a serious problem. It doesn't just result in a series of fuck-ups, but it can mess up your view of the world. If everyone you meet is an asshole, a thief, a liar, a cheat, you might grow convinced that the world is solely populated by assholes, thieves, liars or cheats. Worse, it may cause you to adapt by becoming an asshole, thief, liar, or cheat too, because that's the normal way to be. And round and round in circles it goes, your subconscious bad presorting leading to bad options, leading to bad choices, leading to bad actions, leading to bad presorting.

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