Dating Someone Out of Your League

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Hot-Girl-Ugly-Husband-e1326174732623A 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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19 Comments

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  • Reply

    chumpta

    5 months ago

    “I put forth the hypothesis that women judge status through behavior first,”

    Probably depends on a personal definition of “game,” but this is what I define game as – attractive behavior. In that case, it’s not really a short-term thing at all, and is in fact the most important thing to work on still.

  • Reply

    Jamie

    5 months ago

    I agree with this. There is no such thing as being out of someones league. Take away looks, status, wealth etc etc and we are all basically the same creatures with the same hopes, fears and insecurities.

    To date someone who is perceived to be out of your league, all you have to do is bond with them. The high school geek and the hot cheerleader should in theory never cross paths. Yet suppose they get stuck in an elevator together for 3 hours. They will soon see they have more in common than they realised.

    • Reply

      Matt T

      5 months ago

      Yeah, but that kind of thing only happens in movies. In real life, the girl would completely ignore the dude while desperately trying to get cell phone reception so she could update Twitter or whatever.

    • Reply

      Seele

      5 months ago

      If you believe that there are no leagues and everyone are just the same human beings, then you don’t really care about girl looks and would have sex with just any girl, right?

      • Reply

        Jamie

        5 months ago

        I clearly said ‘take away looks’. Nobody turns down an average looking person because they think they are beneath them. More to do with the better looking you are the higher chance another good looking person is interested in you.

        I am referring to average looking people to the top end of the scale. If you are a swamp donkey then you clearly need to sort some things out. Going back to the two previous blog entries for starters.

        • Reply

          Seele

          5 months ago

          “Nobody turns down an average looking person because they think they are beneath them.”

          I know plenty of guys and several girls that turn down potential partners, because they are beneath them. I thought this is pretty natural, but maybe I am wrong. When I see a girl that is not attractive enough, I am just not interested and I don’t ever wonder what would happend if I stripped her of her looks, social status or wealth.

        • Reply

          Mark

          5 months ago

          Men turn down women because of looks more often than women.

          I think the language “because they are beneath them” is a bad way of putting it though. I don’t think anybody, guy or girl, ever thinks to themselves, “This person doesn’t deserve to be in my presence.” It’s more like, “they seem nice, but I’m just not attracted to them.”

          Where the community goes way wrong, and what I see seeping into this discussion here is the idea that “status” is a conscious judgment. Status is unconscious. We’re wired to view things in terms of it, but we’re rarely, if ever, conscious of it.

          • Matt T

            5 months ago

            Well, Entropy, I would argue that “they seem nice” is just a rationalization. In reality, many men think “I wouldn’t hit it bro”, and many women think “He doesn’t have the status for me to consider him”.

            Perhaps you’re right that this is a subconscious consideration. But that doesn’t mean that people don’t think it.

          • Mark

            5 months ago

            Umm… that’s basically exactly what I just said. People don’t think, “Oh, they’re not good enough to be with me.” They just think, “I’m not into him/her.”

            The status evaluation is unconscious. Consciously, it’s just experienced as a yes/no thing.

          • Mark

            5 months ago

            Oh, and please don’t call me Entropy.

          • Matt T

            5 months ago

            Oh, sorry. I guess I misunderstood you.

            And if that’s your wish, I won’t.

  • Reply

    beefwaffles

    5 months ago

    your best post eva

  • Reply

    Denis

    5 months ago

    Mark wrote: “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? By valuing different traits in one another. She values your intelligence and compassion, you value her looks and sensitivity. She values your strength and direction, you value her emotional passion and support.”

    Dude, this is gold.

  • Reply

    Dr Feelgood

    5 months ago

    If you perceive her to be out of your league, she will be out of your league for sure.

    Accolades… just learned a new English word there.

  • Reply

    Traindom

    5 months ago

    It’s like that episode of Conan with Olivia Wilde. When they mentioned her single status, the crowd (of men) went wild until Conan said, “It’s not happening for any of us.” Haha.

  • Reply

    Wyck

    5 months ago

    One thing I thought needed clarification is that we’re talking about ‘fake’ social status here. In some societies and under specific circumstances, status differences are institutionalised and real. (Circumstances that’s not within the scope of most readers here.)

    I think the idea of men and women mutually “trading up” is brilliant. And it’s so true that the ability to connect with women is universally valued, and levels the playing field for most men.

  • Reply

    Andy

    3 months ago

    Great article! This should be on your “Best of PostMasculine” list.

    It’s a problem all guys face – we will click on it if we see the title.
    It gives great advice and hope, cites academia, and presents a focused example of the principles you believe in.
    And there’s a good pitch for your book, too.

    I’d just sprinkle a few more links to other articles in the last two paragraphs [urls for "fashion and fitness" to the shut-up articles]

    Best,
    Andy

  • Reply

    Dan

    10 weeks ago

    Probably the only article I’ve ever read on this topic that I agree with. Good job Mark. I don’t know who you are; but you’re a pretty good writer.

  • Reply

    bellz

    7 weeks ago

    this is great…
    i’m feeling sad cause there is a man that i like, out of my league. based on his job and characteristic. he is perfect. we’re not dating. but we chat. and i stalk on his social media. haahahahahaha…

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