A common desire people have is to be able to date someone “out of their league.” Indeed, much of the entire dating advice industry is based on the premise that with the right lines, techniques, ideas, self improvement, etc., etc., you can date someone “out of your league.”
By “out of your league,” what’s implied is that she’s far more attractive than you are.
Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that it’s impossible to ever date someone “out of your league.” But the good news is that your league is determined by much more than your looks, your car or your wallet.
In fact, in my last post I cited an anthropological study that found that women found physical unattractive doctors to be just as datable as very attractive school teachers. The conclusion (and consensus among those who study this stuff) is that social status and power can compensate for physical looks. In fact, both have genetic value and therefore have been evolutionarily selected for attraction.
Similarly, studies find that men who marry intelligent and well-educated women are far happier and have more successful marriages.
Enter dating advice and pick up lines. These tactics were designed to create the short-term perception that you are higher status or more attractive than you actually are. The broke high school drop out can throw on a smile, spit some lines, make vague story about knowing Sylvester Stallone, and create the perception that he’s in a higher league than he actually is.
But that’s the problem with “game,” it’s short-term. Human interaction is subtle and nuanced, and most people can smell a fraud from a mile away — or at least, the people you want to be dating can smell a fraud a mile away.
The irony is that these techniques don’t actually help men or women date people out of their league. Rather they simply further facilitate them in dating people within their own league, even if they’re unaware of it. They’re placebos.
My contention is that it’s impossible to date someone out of your league. Whomever you end up dating, you end up dating them because you perceive each other to be similarly attractive. It’s got to be at least an even trade, if not both people having the perception to be trading up.
How can both people be trading up you ask? By valuing different traits in one another. She values your intelligence and compassion, you value her looks and sensitivity. He values your strength and direction, you value his emotional passion and support.
The trade-off can be superficial or abstract as well: looks, money, free meals, making an ex jealous, impressing the parents, someone of the same religion, etc. These are all forms of value being exchanged in a relationship.
The point is, even if you’re not good-looking, you have to bring something else to the table. They’ve got to be buying what you’re selling. It might be similar hobbies, similar friends, drug hook-ups, knowing how to dance tango really well, being fluent in his native language, having the same fetish, working at the same job, or whatever. It has to be something.
Humans judge each others’ attractiveness through a myriad of factors, but ultimately all of those factors come down to one thing: “what does he/she do for me?” It sounds cold and heartless, but it’s true. And it’s actually not always heartless either. In fact, our hearts are programmed to respond to perceived value. It’s ultimately that “What can he/she do for me?” that causes us to fall so selflessly in love.
So you may see a hot girl with an uglier guy. Is she out of his league? No. He may have money. He may not. He may make her feel more confident and support her in her weakest moments. He may share the same passions and hobbies as her. His emotional make-up may match perfectly with hers.
The picture above is Salman Rushdie, in his early 60′s, fat, bald, with a lazy eye, with his super model (third) wife. Out of his league, right? Except for the fact that Rushdie is one of the most celebrated living literary authors, an author who had fatwa put out on him decreeing his death by the head of state of Iran, an author who had to live in hiding and was guarded 24/7 by special British police for the better part of a decade.
Doesn’t sound so lopsided anymore, does it?
This is why I harp on emotional connections so often. Other than looks and maybe intelligence, emotional connection is the only universally appealing asset for everyone. Everyone values feeling like they’re understood, like someone really gets them. Everyone values a good listener and someone who makes them feel more confident. And it’s something anyone can learn to do. It’s the only universal way I know of that can compensate for a lack of looks or power. You may be uglier than most guys she meets, and you may not be rich or powerful, but holy shit you get her, you make her feel understood, you’re confident enough to lead her and remain powerful and in control in her presence. These qualities trump most others when a woman meets a guy. Surprisingly, the same can work the other way around. Most men live through their lives unable to ever open up and truly share their feelings. If a woman can crack him open and give him a safe place to express himself, that is wildly valuable.
No one dates out of their league. There’s always a trade-off. Just because you can’t see the value the guy is bringing to the table doesn’t mean it’s not there.
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