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Your PhD Is His Eight-Pack

June 9, 2015
Everyone's talking about the whole "dadbod" thing, so it's been on my mind recently.

Before I say anything else, let me just make it clear that I resent having to reference something with such a retarded name. Modern American culture's tendency to come up with stupid names for stuff like this is almost as obnoxious as its ability to miss the point.

In any case, while on the surface the whole "dadbod" phenomenon looks like nothing more than a justification for men and women who want to be lazy about their appearance, I think there is something valuable in the idea, even if it lies a little beneath the surface. But in order to draw an important comparison to it, I first need to explain something else I've been thinking about recently, thanks to a recent podcast on Animus Empire and conversations with a couple girls I know...

These days, a lot of women out-perform men in the ostensible measures of "success." Whether this be with achievements in the workplace, academic degrees, financial earnings, or just the capability to make things happen, many women feel like they are better than men at their own game. And many women are.

But at the same time, a woman's physiology compels her to want to "marry up." In spite of the desire and ability to be successful by traditionally male standards, she also feels incapable of settling for a man who doesn't impress her with respect to those same standards.

Source: Snyder and Dillow, 2012

This is obviously problematic. When you as a woman are earning $100k + per year or have dual Bachelor's degrees and a Master's, it is going to be pretty tough feeling like you've found someone impressive, because the vast majority of men earn about $45k and drink their way through laughable degrees. I've met many girls in this situation – accomplished in all respects, but unhappy in their relationships and dissatisfied by their supposed success. (Perhaps unfulfilled is a better word, for reasons I explain in my new book.)

Most women don't intentionally choose this situation. They were raised in a culture that told them their personal worth was dictated by the position they could win in the office, or the degree they could earn in school. When they were too young to think for themselves and understand what their post-pubescent selves would want, they were pointed in the direction of traditionally masculine success, and told that they'd better work hard and marry their "equal" if they wanted to be happy in life. But anyone over the age of 30 knows that this is bullshit. Sure, no one wants to go back to 17th century and arranged marriages; but the idea that a woman can be happily married to a man who has no abilities in excess of her own is absurd. She might find a way to be content in that kind of marriage, sure, but content people take Zoloft.

This isn't something that only applies to women, by the way. Both sexes want spouses that are "better" than them; we just want the opposite sex to be better than us in very different and complimentary ways. Women typically want a man who is better than them when it comes to providing and protecting their family, while men typically want a woman who is better than them when it comes to raising children, creating a "home" (I mean this in the widest possible sense of the word) and keeping the family connected to the outside world. I discuss one small aspect of this dynamic in the post The Analogy Between Confidence and Beauty. If you haven't read yet, I suggest taking a minute to do so before finishing this one. The point is that women want men who are stable and capable ("confident"), while men want a woman who is fertile and a light in their life ("beautiful").

This is what your PhD or upper management position looks like.
Anyway that brings us to the "dadbod." As I said, at first glance, the claim that women like men with mediocre bodies looks like an excuse for men to be sloppy and for women to lower the standard of comparison for their own bodies. And for many people, this is exactly how the concept will be used, without further consideration. But for those of us who are willing to think and work, there is a lesson to take away from the "dadbod." After all, the article that started it all was only popular because it touched on an important yet controversial truth, namely, that women and men want different things in relationships. Both sexes want to be better at certain things than their partner, and both sexes want the other to be better than them in some ways. To some degree, it actually does makes sense for a woman to be "the pretty one." This doesn't excuse men from looking after themselves, but it does mean that men who think that they have to tone and sculpt themselves into a Greek God in order to get girls are missing something much more important than bodyfat.

As usual, the useful takeaway here is reached by flipping the comparison to the other side of the sexual divide. Most women struggle with the concept that men don't like them for their accomplishments. They see accomplished men and feel attracted, so they have a hard time understanding why that same standard doesn't apply to them too. At the same time, most women - even if they don't agree that "dadbods" are sexy - at least can identify with wanting to be the pretty one in the relationship and disliking feelings of competition with their own partner. By this point, you probably get what I am going to say: as a man, dating a woman who is highly accomplished in traditionally male arenas is a lot like being a woman and dating a man with a perfectly sculpted body. Or we could state it like this: guys feel the same way about dating women who are more accomplished than them as you feel about dating men who are sexier than you.

Now, by all means, the correct solution for a girl who feels inclined towards guys with "dadbods" is to hit the gym and learn how to present herself (so she can get guys without "dadbods"); just like a guy who feels tempted to date stupid girls should find his purpose in life and work his ass off (so he can feel confident dating smart and accomplished girls). The fact that the sexes want different things doesn't mean it is right for guys to stop working out any more than it means that it is right for women to intentionally dumb themselves down intellectually. As I've stated in a million different ways on this blog, the answer isn't a reduction of the other, it is an augmentation of the self.

No, the whole "dadbod" thing doesn't excuse laziness, but it does serve as a reminder (albeit an awkward one) that each sex is looking for reciprocal qualities in the other. So think twice before pouring several years into developing the very quality you are looking for in the opposite sex. You only have so much time and energy to spend in developing yourself - spend it wisely.

Related Posts
1. No, Your Intelligence Is Not Your Problem
2. Men Don't Care About Your Accomplishments
3. The Analogy Between Sex and Commitment
4. Human Energy Is Conserved

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