Easily Top 20%

I’ve written a lot about approaching dating as a cooperative game: you and your potential partners against the assholes, the algorithm, the politics of skewed ratios, and the sex-negative society. If you’re a straight guy, you have to be rooting for the women you meet to win.

And yet, most of the comments I get treat the idea of cooperation as anathema, a fantasy available only to the GigaChads who monopolize the world’s tiny handful of generous women and are simultaneously deluded by them. They talk about “the research”, which mostly ends up being that one worthless paper on dark triad attractiveness. And when I give advice based not on p-hacked studies but on what worked in my own life, they inform me that I simply cannot fathom what it’s like for the “bottom 80%” of men doomed to eternal lonely suffering:

The issue with Jacob is that, percentage-wise, he’s easily in top 20%. White/Jewish, quite handsome, in his 30s, living in NYC, working in finance, with top 1% IQ, previous military experience, and a small celebrity status. Despite of all of this, the best he could secure is a “poly marriage”.

I never had the patience to argue with these commenters and I’m going to start blocking them for sheer tediousness. Those celibate men who declare themselves beyond redemption deserve their safe spaces, but Putanumonit will not be one. That’s not who I’m writing for.

I’m writing my blog, in large part, for younger me. For Jacob from a couple of weeks ago who hadn’t read some particular book yet, or for teenage Jacob confused about the basics of how people’s minds work. When I write about dating it’s for the Jacob of not-that-long-ago who found dating frustrating and difficult, someone whom only his grandma would assuredly anoint as “easily top 20%”. I wish that younger version of me would have had my current posts to read, sans the humorless losers in the comments posting their dreary screeds.

I want to tell you a bit more about that young man and his early experiences with women. These stories aren’t supposed to prove any particular point, mostly I just find them weird and amusing. But if you recognize yourself in them, perhaps you’ll know you came to the right blog.



I turn my head right and see the back of Neta’s head. We are sitting on chairs back-to-back, turning our heads on a whim at the sound of each clap. If we turn in opposite directions she gets to slap me; same direction means a kiss. It’s the graduation party of my elementary school. At 12 I have yet to kiss a girl though I have been slapped, punched, and kicked by quite a few.


Neta and I turn to our respective left sides. Another slap. Neta is one of the prettiest and most popular girls in our class, with dazzling blond hair that’s rare in a small town in Israel and a gift for recess politics. I don’t like her. But hey, I wouldn’t say no to a kiss. There’s one more round to go, I gotta think this through.


I turn to my left again and catch Neta’s eyes. She looks furious, as if I betrayed an unspoken agreement to shift sides each time and get smacked. The crowd of our classmates is already cheering, two slaps and a kiss! They volunteered the two of us for this round of the kiss/slap game, aware of our mutual hostility. Two slaps and a kiss! My heart starts pounding.

We get off our chairs and face each other. I just stand there, not sure of the protocol. I assume some of my classmates have played this game before at parties, parties I wasn’t invited to. My thoughts are interrupted by a hard slap; Neta is in the same after-school tennis practice I’m in and she’s not holding back. Another slap. My face is stinging but I’m excited — my first kiss with a girl!

Neta looks at me. I pucker my lips. She takes a deep breath. Then she turns around and runs off the stage screaming YOU’RE TOO UGLY I CAN’T KISS YOU! I just stand there stunned for a while until her friend steps forward from the crowd yelling at me, you made Neta cry you stinking Russian nerd! This pierces my daze and as I get off the stage I holler back at Neta’s friend that she’s a dumb cow who should fuck herself.

She’s technically right, though. I am one of two Russian-Israelis in the class, and one of two nerds. And so the three of us, nerdy Shimon, Russian Sergey, and intersectional Jacob, mostly hang together. We’re not really bullied or anything and I get along fine with most boys at least, but we don’t really belong.

That’s OK, though, this is the last time I have to see any of these kids. Next year I’m going to the school in Tel Aviv where all the Russian nerds go, even though it means I’ll have to wake up at 6:30 every day and take the train and walk through the seedy part of town. I need to find my tribe, and this ain’t it.

All girls are bitches, Sergey consoles me as I rejoin him on the bleachers. Fucking dumb bitches, I agree. But in my heart, I know that the girls in the Russian nerd school will be great.

quite handsome

I met Lena on the goofy Russian-Israeli dating site whose basic layout hasn’t changed much in 15 years. She looked cute in her tennis skirt photos, I was the rare guy articulate enough to write a paragraph, and that’s all we needed. I suggested a first date on the court. Still in mandatory military service I had zero disposable income available to show a girl a good time, but I knew all the free places to knock a ball around.

On the way over, I tried to talk about what Lena was reading, what she was planning to do after the army, how she found the crazy novel world of online dating. But Lena mostly wanted to talk about abs. Abs were a sign of a serious man, a disciplined man, a man capable of using his body to meet whatever challenge the world throws at him. A guy with no abs was a useless loser, and she had no time for useless losers.

I looked down at my stomach. Three years after boot camp I kept the ravenous appetite but no longer did the 16 hours of physical activity each day that produced it. I was in decent shape and only slightly overweight, but I knew even then that I would never ever have visible abs in my life. I wondered if Lena was being mean or just oblivious. I determined to show off my fitness on the tennis court.

I’m incapable of hitting forehands without my tongue sticking out to this day

After some warm up and banter, Lena suggested playing a set for points. I demurred. She was athletic but her technique was raw, and our date was already accumulating tension of the non-sexual kind. But she insisted, and off we went.

I took the first game easily, then lost the second after a string of undisciplined errors as I was trying to show off my shots. I buckled down to a more defensive style, and it quickly became clear that Lena had no offense that could bother me. As long as I kept hitting the ball back in play, she would eventually make an error as she grew more and more agitated in the hot late-summer afternoon. At 40-0 to me, Lena went for a hard winner that landed a foot wide of the side line. I called it out.

No fucking way, it was in!

Sorry, just out. I was right there to see it.

Why are you lying, Jacob? You think you need to cheat to beat a girl? I saw it land in!

I thought we would each call our own side of the court, but if you insist we can replay the point.

We’re not replaying, that was a clean winner! The score was 30-15, so it’s 30-30 now. And if you try to cheat again I’m leaving.

I stared at Lena. Suddenly all the attractiveness I saw in her melted away. Once my hormones subsided around age 20 I realized that a woman’s personality has a massive impact on my very physical perception of her. Girls who are nice to me acquire radiant features in my vision while discovering that a girl is cruel or petulant magnifies every blemish on her face. And I couldn’t imagine a bigger personality flaw than blatantly cheating at tennis.

For the next half hour I casually tortured my date. I hit angles and slices to make her chase the ball endlessly around the court. I would hit several slow lobs in a row to mock her inability to smash. I would bring her to the net with a drop shot and then whack a powerful passing shot within inches of her face not caring if it landed inside. I stopped calling balls in or out, and eventually stopped counting. By the time Lena admitted to a 1-6 loss, her face was bright red from exertion, heat, and barely-contained rage.

And then for some reason I was very cordial and polite as I walked Lena home, spending the few shekels I had on a cold chocolate milkshake for her (I didn’t have one, conscious again of my ab-lessness). I still have the habit of being agreeable to a fault on dates, at least when my passions aren’t inflamed by sports. I think this habit mostly served to extend excruciating dates long past the hour they should have ended. But then again, I had nothing better to do at that age than to walk a couple miles with a sullen chick slurping her milkshake as I expounded on some nonsense topic she couldn’t give less of a fuck about.

living in NYC, working in finance

The night before my 23rd birthday I attempted to bake a chocolate banana cake to bring to work. I was hamstrung equally by the lack of equipment in the kitchen — I split a $500/month run-down apartment with two roommates who never cooked — and lack of experience — my go-to dinner those days was mixing a can of corn with tuna and sliced onion in a bowl. Despite several setbacks, by 2 am I had managed to produce a baking pan containing something that was solid enough and smelled vaguely of the two flagship ingredients.

In the morning I woke up late, frantically texting the colleague who gave me a lift to the office to beg him to wait. I opened the fridge to discover that one of my roommates, the anorexic-looking physics grad student, ate overnight almost half the cake I hoped to feed twenty coworkers with. I ran out into the hot desert air carrying the other half in both hands, bumping into neighbors as I ran to catch my ride.

Our office was at the edge of an industrial park located at the edge of a small town just outside the city at the edge of the Negev desert that covers most of Israel. Outside the windows was nothing but sand and the occasional Bedouin shepherd. Inside, listless men and women in their mid twenties were getting paid minimum wage to day-trade interest rate futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for the world’s most absurd hedge fund.

Since the company failed to provide us with any training that could give us an edge on the market, we were all equally unprofitable and interchangeable. The main incentive structure was that every two weeks one of us would get voted off the island, to be replaced by another fresh university graduate willing to stare at flashing numbers on a screen for 11 hours a day. To this day I’m not sure if the company was an overoptimistic bet by the millionaire founder who made his trading fortune in the pre-algo days, or a convoluted money laundering scheme.

Tradition dictated that getting fired was the other occasion apart from birthdays on which one was expected to feed their colleagues cake. I stumbled into the office to find the team finishing up the crumbs from a delicious cream cake made by Hagit, the most popular girl in the company, who seemed more relieved than upset to be leaving. When I produced my cake someone asked if I had been fired as well. They seemed quite disappointed to hear that it was only my birthday.

The cake sat uneaten for a week in the office fridge, before I brought it back home and told my roommate to go wild.

So there I was on my 23rd birthday, working a dead-end job for little money in a remote city in the desert with colleagues who at best just tolerated me. My time after work was spent walking aimlessly through the streets of Be’er Sheva, watching porn, and playing Civilization IV. I flirted with girls only rarely and never successfully, undermined as much by the desperation I felt about women as by the lack of money, muscles, friends, car, and social graces.

Less than three months later I met the beautiful and brilliant woman I would date for four years and move to the US with.

top 1% IQ

In December 2014 I bought two tickets to the Gogol Bordello concert in NYC, hoping to make it my third date with an elegant computer science grad student who towered above me in both height and analytical intelligence. When I texted to ask about her plans for the weekend, she informed me that she had just been accepted to a new AI research program and was going to focus on research to the exclusion of dating. I went to the concert alone.

previous military experience

I was 17 when I scored my first date from blogging. I wrote in Hebrew on a platform that has hopefully been scrubbed from the internet since then. I struck a conversation with Anat, a fellow blogger. She was 19 and in her first year of military service. We met at a Sbarro in the shopping mall in Tel Aviv overlooking the IDF HQ.

Anat was sweet, articulate, and quite ugly — a fact I didn’t know because her blog, unlike mine, contained no photos. She also suffered from Nystagmus, a medical condition that made her eyes jerk around rapidly in disturbing pattern. Unable to look comfortably at either Anat’s face or her eyes, I stared at my calzone and bravely tried to make pleasant conversation.

A few tables away from us sat a family arguing loudly in Romanian, the dad swinging his arms wildly over the head of their 3-year-old son. As Anat and I talked about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Romanian boy slid off his chair, rolled horizontally on the floor until he came to a stop against the foot of our table, and then proceeded to scream at full volume for more than a minute while his parents pretended not to notice anything was amiss.

best he could is a “poly marriage”

Shay and Raya met at my 20th birthday party. He was in the next room from mine in the barracks, one of my few real friends in our military unit. She was my most serious girlfriend to that point, an on-again-off-again affair that lasted several years and was then in an uneasy off stage. Two days later, back at the base, Shay asked me if I was ok with him asking Raya on a date.

I took a full day to think about it. I felt a strong pang of jealousy, and in fact I had invited Raya to my party in the latest attempt to re-seduce her. The jealousy churned my stomach, struggling against my higher impulse and desire not to be the villain in the movie. Eventually I realized another reason for my resistance — I didn’t want to admit that Raya broke up with me for good reason, and was smart not to want me back. I was a mediocre boyfriend, distracted and flaky and inattentive, dating her out of familiarity more than out of genuine admiration. She deserved a dedicated lover, the sort of gentleman who would ask his friend before texting the friend’s ex.

I returned to Shay to tell him Raya’s favorite music and dinner spot near the beach, the one I kept promising to take her to and never did. They fell madly in love, and are today happily married. Observing them, I reflected on the fact that my petty jealousy almost stood in the way of that. I resolved to be more skeptical of this emotion going forward in my life, and to avoid confusing the strength of jealous feeling with an objective judgment of what is good.

Around the same time on the other side of the planet a young woman was experimenting with her first open relationship. She would eventually move to New York and meet an Israeli guy with a love of spreadsheets, a guy who never let his weird dating experiences shake his optimism and appreciation of women…

21 thoughts on “Easily Top 20%

  1. These are some pretty humiliating experiences. I haven’t had anything this bad, yet I’ve avoided dating and socializing entirely in my teens and 20s due to my neuroticism and inability to handle the comparatively mild shit in my life. I am definitely paying for that inaction now at 30 w/ no dating experience whatsoever. I have chronic health problems now that drastically limit my employment options as well as ability to exercise, so things look pretty bleak.

    Youth is wasted on the young. Anyone young reading this should take action now, or you live to regret it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe the secret is that I never experienced these things as particularly humiliating, so they never turned me off dating. Most of my friends were going through similar things in their early twenties so I got a sense that these are just typical experiences and we all gotta take our lumps and learn.


    2. I agree, that is the lesson to learn from all this. Get out there and start learning when you’re young. I’m old. But I can be Joseph Della Reina at the gates of hell: warning those who come after, do not follow my example.

      (Google him: it’s a great story from Jewish folklore about a rabbi who tries to make the Messiah come early, and almost succeeds in defeating Satan and pulling it off. It’s like someone’s D&D character going for ascension and failing at the last moment.)

      It’s just so weird to think of dating and love as fun. For me it’s always been a humiliating gauntlet suspended between fear of looking weak and fear of getting hit with a harassment lawsuit or something similar, trying to be the person the opposite sex wants you to be but always being afraid they’ll see through you. It’s like an audition for a job you don’t want and aren’t qualified for.

      The ‘alien vampires’ thing is a bit unfair, it’s more like these really-alien-aliens the scifi writers used to delight in creating back in the day that eat rocks and communicate through scents. They’re not malevolent, they just want totally different things than you do and they don’t like any of the same things you do.

      (And just for the record: I never said ‘the best you could do was a poly marriage’. That was the other incels. ;) I made it abundantly clear you chose it and it was working for you.)


      1. “It’s just so weird to think of dating and love as fun. For me it’s always been a humiliating gauntlet suspended between fear of looking weak and fear of getting hit with a harassment lawsuit or something similar, trying to be the person the opposite sex wants you to be but always being afraid they’ll see through you. It’s like an audition for a job you don’t want and aren’t qualified for.”

        This is exactly how I feel, but it also extends to socializing in general for me. Its going to take a lot of effort to unfuck myself, and at 30, its hard to find the motivation to do so.


  2. Not directly on-topic, but related enough that maybe I can ask here: I read your articles on using OKC effectively a while back, but they’re mostly obsolete now. OKC noticed that their service didn’t suck enough and decided to fix that. What service do you use or recommend these days, if anything?


  3. I’m very grateful for your blog and specially for posts of this sort, you may have single-handledly saved me and others from becoming too resentful to enjoy dating.


  4. I’m not celibate, I enjoy interacting with women, I think a large portion of the redpill content is too resentful, I learned a lot thanks to Putanumonit, I have read most of the dating-related posts on this blog. Here’s my personal understanding of The Jacob Method:

    Ensure you’re not in the top 10-20% – otherwise you’ll find somebody without much effort, just keep on having many dates.
    Ensure you’re not in the bottom 20-30% – otherwise you might be really doomed to loneliness or unbearable mistreatment in the current circumstances, sorry.
    Are you in the middle of male attractiveness hierarchy? OK, you’re the target group of this blog: focus on improving your looks, financial status, social skills, being strategic and making often disproportionate efforts.
    Target promising niches, lower your standards, consider relocating, go for less attractive and older women.
    Be willing to abandon the expectations of sexual exclusivity (for many men, it may resemble gaslighting into cuckoIdry).
    Be willing to risk half of your resources in a marriage (see statistics and documentaries).

    Not sure if it’s worth it…


  5. Great article!

    With regards to the usefulness of your advice, I think the “young Jacob” is a particularly good category to focus on.

    I’ve always felt that the overall vibe of the “Red Pill” community felt off to me. I feel that it’s more generally toxic, but even if it wouldn’t be, it’s aimed towards people very different from me. Perhaps if you’re more rigid, output-oriented and stubborn, gymming while focusing on “frame” and becoming alpha red-pilled chad is really the way to go.

    However, if you’re like me.. I am quite unconscientous, the whole “self-improvement” attitude feels very unnatural. I am humanities-oriented, reading books “to develop yourself” feels like blasphemy. The pseudoscientific, self-serious “masculine” writing style and aesthetic of the manosphere made me cringe.

    By trying instill their “teachings” I handicapped myself, cutting off my strongest tendencies (openness, extroversion, curiosity, empathy). But there was simply “no alternative”, or so it seemed. As if I was forced to choose between the ugliness “that worked” and sentimental naivety. I was stuck in a ridiculous dichotomy.

    Your articles about dating and other things (mostly “do women like assholes”, but also for-example “top-left mood”) convinced me that the alpha chads were not just evil, but mostly wrong. That that kind of stuff would never work for me, while advices like “ask a girl out the moment you feel like it” would. That’s the difference with stuff you get from some feminists, who seem to agree with the incels that they are indeed not worthy of sex and antagonistic towards society at large. “Yes, @HerculeanGame might be right, but he’s evil and you’re suspicious for even considering this. Eat not from the forbidden fruit!”

    You and some others fulfill a niche that is in desperate need of filling – people with “lefty” personalities that don’t feel at home anymore in the modern left. People who spend more time in the “explore” than the “exploit” stadium.

    Anyway, I went through this whole thing, together with most of my friends. The same dudes that a couple of years ago spent their hangover mornings bragging and overanalyzing last night’s “game” now advice each other on “the power of vulnerability” and such cringe. Anyway, some personal take-aways after reading, contemplating and discussing way too much of this stuff:

    Confidence and courage matter. When I was 15, my mom (!) told me that I should just “be myself”. What, being shy and awkward? That didn’t really work. I looked at some of the popular kids and tried to copy the “brash” part, instead of the internal confidence. Now I know that “being yourself” is not some passive orientation (“don’t change!”) but actually actively being, showing, representing yourself. My views regarding these things are pretty “blue-pilled” now, but I feel 0 nervosity with flirting/asking a girl out. There is no magic “pill” that will make you confident or brave, it’s a question of experience I guess. Just keep on trying – also age works.
    If “instrumentalizing” women feels wrong, it is because it is. Rival Voices wrote an excellent article about this: if you see yourself as something that needs to be “fixed”, others will too. There is a reason we distinguish between “romantic”, “playful”, “professional” and “intellectual” use of language. There are probably ways of speaking/writing/thinking that don’t make you feel like you’re optimizing peanut butter supply while still communicating the same. Don’t make something beautiful ugly.
    There is this trope of a naïve romantic that is ultimately blue-pilled/friendzoned/whatever and thinks he can “get the girl” by declaring his love in a poem in front of her window. Recently I realized that probably no one talking about this has ever tried such a thing, and that it is actually pretty ballzy. If you’re an aspiring poet, you should probably find someone who’s into that. I’m quite verbal (you wouldn’t say haha, but also I am on modafinil please forgive me), but long thought that “silent/mysterious” was attractive. “Words take away the magic”. Well, if you go want to perfectly capture and define everything, sure, but you can also use them to create colour, narrative, meaning and romance in the world. Use your strengths, whatever they might be.

    Finally, as for the “easily top 20%”, I spent half of my youth being researched by child psychologists etc, being tested for ADHD, ADD, Asperger’s, NLD, etc. Always heavily bullied. Guys would run towards the girls, saying “PT likes you” after which all the girls would go “AWL NO GROSS”.

    In the end, now with a beautiful girl, which I chased for 2,5 years. I got out of the friend zone by the alpha chad act of “declaring my feelings” and saying that “we could do this at whatever pace she felt comfortable with” because “I would go nowhere”. Oh, and she’s muslim, which of course is very TRAD AND BASED and makes me an EPIC CRUSADER I guess.

    (actually Sufi, which should gain me major post-rat creds)


    1. Ironically, one of the few things I read that made sense was in the comments of the old Roissy in DC blog, back when it was a pickup blog and not a Nazi blog. (I wonder what the ratio of guys who want to get laid to guys who want to be fascists is. Maybe I’m fooling myself but I imagine it’s pretty high. Well, I’m sure he had his reasons.)

      The guy made an analogy to the various Jedi lightsaber combat forms in the Star Wars RPG. You had to pick a form that worked for you–Mace Windu was strong and aggressive, so he used Form VII, which focused more on offense. But another form might work better for someone else. You had to pick the form that worked for you. Similarly, IRL, people pick martial arts that fit their body type better–some work better for tall people, others for short, women do better with martial arts that focus on kicking to compensate for their lower upper body strength, etc.

      Could be that Jacob’s technique works better for high IQ, high openness, moderate agreeableness, and moderate conscientiousness types. The redpill stuff, as you say, works for low openness, high conscientiousness types, and so it’s popular with the political right (conservatism has been correlated with low openness and high conscientiousness). Similarly, I suspect some high extroversion, high agreeableness, high openness types actually can make feminism work for them, because the self-confidence and creativity makes up for the lack of masculinity. (A table of the various strategies for various men’s personality types might be useful, though I guess it might get dated quickly.)

      I’m going to keep going with the inspiration of the Taleb quote that you don’t need to just talk to people who succeeded, you need to talk to people who failed, because otherwise you have survivorship bias. Here’s what did me in (according to me!):

      I was afraid to start until I was 29, partly because of a lack of common interests (so there wasn’t enough of a ‘carrot’), partly because of fear of harassment accusations (so there was a greater than average ‘stick’ in addition to the standard approach anxiety).
      I was afraid to enter into a long-term relationship with anyone with a lower income, because I was afraid of having to pay alimony for the rest of my life, or at the least losing my savings.
      Do not explore kink. I wound up discovering I had a kink (dominance) that was at variance with my actual personality and was dangerous to explore in an area with a high proportion of feminists.
      Online dating favors women for reasons described elsewhere, but in short you have to make a large number of approaches and it loads heavily on physical appearance.

      So, if you want to not to do as I have done (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-43lLKaqBQ):

      Start early.
      Decide if you are going to pursue a high-income career and if so plan to accept that your partner will also have to do so–or have a high savings rate to mitigate the effects of the divorce.
      Stay away from interests that may limit your options.
      Find ways to approach women offline.


      1. @SFG,

        Interesting what you say about being afraid of harassment charges. Reminded me of the articles on this topic by Scott Aaronson and Scott Alexander. Not only being afraid of charges, but being afraid of actually “being creepy” and that intervening with your romantic efforts.

        I’m Dutch and in the Netherlands this is no issue whatsoever. I’ve never experienced this, never heard of anyone who has experienced it, etc. My social circles are full of feminist girls, right-wing culture warrior dudes and nerds – if this would be a major topic here I would know. Is this typically American? Or typically Californian/Bay Area? How does it work, how big of a deal is it? Do people talk about it publicly? Is it a justified fear?


        1. It’s not a justified fear. It’s complete hogwash and cope for not approaching women.

          I’ve lived in the progressive West Coast for 7 years, said the most upfront and direct things to women ya’ll can probably imagine, and haven’t had a single problem.


  6. Sounds pretty miserable bro, sure you don’t wanna devote your life to video games? Meditate on it for a bit, trust me


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