Lately it seems that there is some discussion regarding when to move on from the red pill. As someone who found the manosphere quite early, was a part of it for a while, left and then came back I found myself thinking about this idea. There is no doubt that everything we encounter in life is either a permanent fixture or a transitory element, meaning that some things stick with us for life, other things are part of our life for a while and are then left behind. To use weight training as an example, if you build your body over time, then you can maintain it with much less effort than it took to build. Yet if you completely neglect it, it will slowly crumble over time. This is similar with most skills, if they are not used, then they atrophy over time until we find ourselves not having the skills at all. Depending on the skill and the length of the atrophy period, one may be able to re-learn the skill rather quickly, or it may take just as long as the initial learning period.
This lead to the question, if a man internalizes red pill teachings will they remain with him in sufficient strength to avoid the very pitfalls that lead him to the manosphere in the first place? One must keep in mind that most men arrive at this corner of the internet because they have problems they need to solve, the problems are many and diverse, what they have in common is intersexual dynamics. Whether a man is attempting to figure out why his wife of 10 or more years left him for a guy she met a few weeks ago, why he is in a 5 year dry-spell, or why he is living in a dead-bedroom situation the manosphere can offer probable diagnosis and potential cures.
However, the solutions that the sphere offers are often the antithesis of the behavior of the man who requires them. After all, if his behavioral-schema worked, then he would not have the problems that was the impetus for him to seek out advice in the first place. I outlined many of the characteristics of the thesis, antithesis and failed attempts at synthesis in a series of essays earlier this year, and these fall into three categories. What doesn’t work, what works, and what we hope will work. The Blue Pill does not work, The Red Pill does work, and the purple pill is the desire among men who have seen reality to live the illusion. I’ve outlined the major differences in the table below:
The purple pill is that it sells itself as the continuation and natural evolution of the red pill, by having red pill knowledge and utilizing red pill methodology one can achieve blue pill ends. It is for this reason that it advocates many of the red pill methodologies, such as maintaining frame, lifting weights, being the leader of your family and many others that help build and maintains a woman’s perception of having landed the highest possible value male for her. Dread game at its most basic is simply a situation in which the woman perceives that losing her man would represent a bigger risk than potential gains she could achieve by either leaving or going outside the relationship.
The Maslow Problem
From my analysis of the problem, it seems that the focus on “meaning” is in many ways a Maslowian problem. Maslow’s hierarchy outlines different levels of needs that a human will experience. First are the physiological needs, including food, sleep, shelter and sex. Then come the safety needs that include things like personal security, financial security, health and well-being. Then come the social needs such as friendships, intimacy and family, followed by the esteem needs, that include being able to value oneself and being valued by others. Finally, the elephant in the room, self-actualization.
Now the red pill as a philosophy is focused primarily on the first four levels of the pyramid, the initial beginnings of the red pill, PUA were and still are largely focused on satisfying the sexual need. I would wager that even to this day a majority of people who enter the manosphere do so because they are unhappy with their sex life on some level. Be this a husband living in a dead bedroom relationship, a teenager who has no idea how to talk to girls, a divorced man who struggles with getting back into the market and many others.
However, the red pill also deals with safety needs, in that there is much advice on financial security among other things. My risk analysis of marriage for instance is largely focused on the potential financial consequences of current divorce, alimony and child support laws. Other men have focused on the risk of false accusations and threats to one’s freedom resulting from high conflict divorces or break-ups. Health is also a major focus of Red Pill theory, especially when it comes to a man’s duty to maintain his physical strength through lifting and protecting himself against medical problems through optimal nutrition, hormone levels and the likes.
On a social level, the red pill offers a community of men in similar situations, which allows the man to feel part of a community of like-minded men, something which is a rarity in today’s modern world. A major part of PUA in the early days was finding like-minded wingmen that would act as both support-group and drill sergeant in driving a man towards more progress and in many ways this is a fixture of the red pill as well. However, there is little sense in denying that the red pill does put individual over community.
Once one arrives at esteem, the focus on self-improvement within the manosphere has a dual purpose. While it does increase a man’s sexual market value, thus increasing his ability to find more and better mates. It also helps to build self-esteem and self-respect. For men, self-esteem is built through accomplishments, working through adversity and coming out stronger on the other side. Many of the red pill prescriptions on the earlier levels, such as facing your fear, managing your health, finances, lifting weights and others, helps build a sense of accomplishment in each man. The trouble of many young men in our modern world is that they have never broken through a barrier, they have been lifted over it.
Many men push themselves through the Maslowian levels at break-neck speed, and have few if any of the previous levels handled, but they want to be at the self-actualization level, because it is much more abstract. Where the prior levels have SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) there is nothing of the sort for self-actualization. If we take an example or two from each level, we are all aware of when we are not eating and sleeping enough, or when we are not getting laid enough. The solutions are also specific, if the problem is “I’m not sleeping enough”, the goal is “I must get at least 7 hours of sleep, every day, for the next 30 days” this is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. On level two, the problem may be “I’m living from paycheck to paycheck” the SMART goal could be “I need to save 5% of my paycheck every month for the next year”. If the problem is “I don’t have a social life” then the SMART goal is perhaps “For the next 3 months, go out and socialize with at least 5 different people every week”. If the problem is “I have no self-esteem”, then perhaps the SMART goal should be “Engage in [insert activity] three times per week and set progress goals”.
Self-actualization is the problematic one, and this is also where the focus among some appear to completely reside as of late. It is also where many aging pick-up artists find themselves after a decade or so of hedonistic freedom, they long for more, as Maslow puts it “What a man can be, he must be“. A man who has implemented all the advice the red pill offers on the other levels, find himself looking across the horizon, often looking for another prescription. His physiological needs have been covered, his security needs are taken care of, he has a large and vibrant social circle, and is most likely borderline narcissistic and viewed as high value by many. However, is he all that he can be?
There is no real way to create such goals for self-actualization, which is perhaps also why it is not talked about much in red pill theory explicitly. The Blue Pill Illusion naturally offers some such as being married, being a father, being a high performing employee and various others as “all you can be”, because “the group” has an incentive to create a structure to follow throughout the levels. If society ensures that one must have a job in order to satisfy the first and second levels of the pyramid, then this has certain requirements to behave in a given manner. Likewise, the smaller the Overton window, and accepted behavior in order to function in a social group, the more control the group has, the group also controls whether you are valued as a member or not, and can influence your self-esteem through negative feedback. If someone external to you defines the path to self-actualization/self-fulfillment, it also regulates your journey towards that destination, and therefore controls you.
In essence, culture and the group sets the goals for each level, designs a path that can easily be followed at each level, but does so primarily to get the needs of the group covered, rather than those of the individual.
Summary and Conclusions
If one looks at the table at the start of this essay, the major distinction between the red pill and the other two, is that the red pill does not define the end-state for you, this is something left up to each individual. In this regard it is a highly individual-focused philosophy, which is also why there are many descriptions of paths one can take, but very few that describes the destination. Telling a man to not make his woman his mission, doesn’t guarantee that he will be successful, and is the antithesis of the blue pill idealism that advocates that a man make a woman the center of his life.
One of the things I covered in my essay on “The Good Boys” was the tendency for some types of men to treat life as a check-list. Finish high school, check, finish college, check, get married, check and so on. In essence making all their major life decision without ever introspecting and questioning what paths they want to take in life. Some of the men who do very well with red pill theory, and especially PUA are men of this type, that run through their approaches, burn through the material and have a focus on being able to check off the various sub-points within the theory as fast as possible. As long as they have a prescription, they will follow and execute it to the letter. The trouble is that when these men are left without points on their list, instead of looking inside they look to the outside until they find someone who can provide them with a new point or two.
This is what happened with many of the early PUA gurus. If one thinks of PUA as a video-game, they kept leveling up and leveling up until they hit max level, then they spent years grinding the best gear in the game, then they enjoyed playing a max leveled, fully equipped character for a while, but this got boring. They thought pick-up was what would lead to them reaching self-actualization, but it turned out that it was not. Thus, they started searching for more goals, more points to check off their list, which is how most of them ended up married with children, this was the deductive next step that they had been socially programmed to take and which society said would actualize them.
The trouble is that self-actualization is a subjective concept, what gives meaning to the life of one man can be meaningless for another man. In fact, if a man takes the path of another, he may find himself rapidly descending the hierarchy down the bottom. For instance, a man who follows the prescription to vet a wife, get married and have children at age 25 that some offer, only to find that this does not offer his life meaning, in fact he finds the entire thing to be the antithesis of meaning for him, and then gets divorced, finds himself having made a major life choice that has consequences for the rest of his life based on the perspective of another man, never having asked himself “Is this truly what I desire?”
To summarize, life is not a video game, there is no “Complete strategy guide” that can be downloaded.