Who’s exasperating whom?

I spend a great deal of time chastising the innocent little morons that live with me and their mother about fighting with each other. The conflicts that arise between them are excruciating to behold.  I’ve written elsewhere about how little my regard is for people who pick fights and stir up conflict with their own flesh and blood.

About half the time, they treat each other like this:

Aww. Cute, right? Even the nose picking.

But, the other half of the time looks more like this:

As you can hear, I start to get sarcastic with them, sometimes egging them on to even more conflict because, I guess its just my way. But then I think about this passage:

And, ye fathers, provoke [exasperate] not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

And I think, “wait a minute. I’m not exasperating anyone! I was just enjoying a nice drive to the feed store. They started it. (And started it, and started it and started it and started it…..)”

I don’t get it. The background here is relevant. I have two older brothers, and unlike most families with boys, I cannot remember ever fighting with them. I know it sounds weird, but we just never did. They are quite a bit older than me. They were more like demigods to me, so maybe that’s it. But growing up in our house yelling, fighting, or even raising your voice above 5 decibels was considered absolutely barbaric. It was a very calm household.

So, this stuff in the second video I cannot abide. I know dad is supposed to be the calm one–the one who offers the even keel of self-control. But when they act like this I want to throw them out the window. They are 4 and 8, so I can’t wax philosophical. “The two of you are behaving like Cane and Abel with your hatred and envy of each other. Like the Father of all creation, I should banish you to a life of exile!”

Usually, they end up with some kind of stupid punishment (bed early, losing something they love) but it has no real effect. Maybe they are too little.

Dads–what do you do here? I can’t keep being a smart ass to my kids.

June Cleaver might be unmarriagable right now.

Manosphere conventional wisdom: Any half-way decent looking woman, in her late teens/early twenties who is marriage minded can easily snag a good, hard-working provider to have babies with if she would distinguish herself by being sweet, and signaling a willingness to a be quiet, deferent, submissive, peaceful help-meet.

Alternative Hypothesis: When accounting for variables such as race, geography, church size, etc., the marriage market for such a woman is more complex and difficult to navigate than this.

A cross-post by Scott and Elspeth.

The authors have both had experiences that appear to challenge the conventional wisdom on the matter of whether or not it is a “buyers’ market” for a devout Christian woman looking for a husband.

For example, this conversation appeared on a Facebook post where an American Dad post was shared. It was between Scott and a traditionalist Orthodox woman who was softly but adamantly challenging this assertion:

Jess: I have a daughter who is halfway cute, not obese, has no “you go grrrrl” careerist attitude and was raised to understand and even welcome the traditional Orthodox Christian view of a woman’s role in marriage. She wants to be married, have babies, be a homemaker. My daughter is 25. There are a number of young men in our parish. She is interested in at least one of them. We have been attending that parish for four years now.

Scott: So what’s the problem? Are the men not interested in her? This is actually something I am pretty passionate about (some form of courtship/match making WITHIN the Orthodox framework.). How can we help marry her off? This is very important.

Jess: This particular young man that my daughter is interested in is a bit younger than she is. He comes from a wonderful Orthodox family. They embrace the traditional view of Orthodox marriage. In fact, the parents have one. This young man actually invited my daughter into a relationship with him a year ago. He was very serious. He wasn’t looking for a casual relationship. He was interested in marriage. They began to spend time together. Talking, praying, reading, discussing the future — not like let’s get married right away because she has already finished college and he is stil in college. He was talking about attending seminary… All of a sudden, a couple of months into it, he reneged. He said he just wasn’t ready. Really broke her heart. He wanted to be “friends”; she said no, thank you. But later she changed her mind because it was so awkward and painful. There are a lot of young people in our parish and they do a lot together. Some of them have married each other already… So now he is busy going to school. She and he do speak to each other. And she is basically waiting for him.

This is confounding because if the description was accurate, and if it is generalizable in any way, there may be more than meets the eye here. Elspeth, who has all daughters with a large age range has been having similar experiences, although not exactly the same.

We stipulate the following:

1 .The Donal Graeme LAMPS rubric for understanding male attractiveness is a more or less accurate reflection of reality.

2. All things being equal, “chemistry” should be very intense between a couple looking to marry.

3. Most American Christian women have not been raised to have the kind of sweet, endearing qualities that the Bible proscribes for them.

Yet, there is a disconnect somewhere.

Elspeth brings a perspective to the topic because she is black and the specifics of race and her Christian sub-culture has highlighted and even amplified some of the urgency here. Contrary to popular lore, 75% of black women do marry by age 35. She is making peace that her girls (as special as they are to her) are probably going to be more like the average black woman than they are like their mother who married on the fly at age 22. It is now clear to her that she was always in a position to marry quickly as opportunities were more abundant for her in the early 90’s.

She originally believed that raising her girls in a heterogeneous environment is the reason they have had such a difficult time meeting someone of similar faith, values, and with whom they felt a connection. However, that same heterogeneous environment has afforded them the opportunity to become intimately acquainted with several young Christian, and non-Christian women. What they see is a statistical -albeit of a small sample- revelation. Her girls aren’t the only ones having a difficult time meeting men who are interested in marriage, or even in dating. They do have one friend who is not sure if she wants to marry right away.

As the media began to pick up on the ways our dating scene is slowly beginning to resemble the much publicized dysfunction of the Japanese mating culture, a light bulb came on for Elspeth. A significant percentage of the men and women who write on these topics are over age 35. Many had children later in life and are not yet familiar with the drastic change in the mating culture among today’s young people, and as such are framing their assertions from a perspective which is largely disconnected from reality on the ground for devout young people today.

For instance, many of today’s young people raised in Christian homes feel little to no compulsion to feign a devotion to the faith for the sake of their parents. Conversely, those who are truly devout are the ones more likely to hold fast to their commitment to chastity. In every represented generation, the stratification between believers and non-believers is starker than it has ever been. (People are no longer inclined to feign faith or attend church for social validation. There is little acknowledgment among the general population of even the social utility of Christianity). Couple that with the marked decrease in devout Christians as a whole, and the assertion that any attractive submissive woman can land a husband with great ease, and without compromising her chastity beforehand, rings patently false, at least in the aggregate. One must cast a larger net, or define “Christian” dating in such broad terms as to render it meaningless.

In the case of the young Orthodox girl and the man who left for seminary, would she have likely been proposed to had she slept with him? Probably not. It seems that this young man might be among the few devout men who actually values his own chastity as highly as hers. But our experience has been that even good, devout young men seem to wilt when it comes to sex if it is available. And then, because they have had sex with the young woman in question due to their own weakness as well as hers, they end up marrying her. The vast majority of men (including Christian men) marry women they are already sleeping with. A woman doesn’t do herself any favors by “offering sex” to get a ring, and this is not what we are advocating here. That would be a disastrous strategy guaranteed to backfire. However, young women who give in to a –sincere Christian- man’s desire for sex absolutely increases her chance of ending up as his wife.

Therefore, it appears there are a number of variables contributing to make an already dire situation look even more hopeless.

We are not convinced as of this moment that the problem with the Christian marriage market is one of carousel-riding girls who go to church on Sundays and pretend to be “good girls” surrounded by a bunch of monk-like, super disciplined chaste men waiting for the women to get their act together and notice the awesome catch who has been sitting next to them in the pews all along. This MAY be the case, but there might be some other, just as valid explanations for what is happening that are not incompatible with a basic red-pill understanding of hypergamic drives and such. We would agree—to the extent that there are women like that in the Sunday pews–they are not marriage material. Again, we assent that biological drives–which are amoral and intrinsic–result in different mating strategies between the sexes and these are not being channeled in godly ways almost anywhere in society.

For example, what if the culture (and by this we mean “conservative Christian culture”) has failed to produce young people of either sex who are aware of what marriage is, what it is for, how to find/make one, etc in numbers large enough to create a healthy pool of possible choices for them? Haven’t most men in those pews been conditioned to be pedastlizing, obsequious orbiters? Are there natural “alphas” and leaders in those pews who’s potential has been stymied? Is the average man in today’s church prepared to say “no” to his wife? To be the calm in her irrational emotional storms?

Allow us to elaborate a bit—if a modestly dressed, 19 year old chaste woman, who has been taught to sew, clean, do housework, be sweet, be frugal with her potential husbands money, walked into any random Christian church tomorrow—forget about any specific denomination or faith tradition—what are the chances she would meet a man who is decent looking, (remember—red-pill orthodoxy says that she should not marry a man she does not pine for) has also been saving himself, is signaling potential provider status, is working on leadership skills, etc? (In short–a traditional/red-pill man who is devout and wants to lead and love a family).

Not likely. And if they were in individual families, they would be (and are seen) as boorish Neanderthals. This is not a dig on them per se, it is evidence of a problem that may not be solvable in one generation, as it took several to create.

Is it possible that parents of the last several generations, responding to the cultural cues from blue-pill pastors and other sources have raised both sex children to be pretty useless at “traditional” marriage, and therefore a different approach to finding matches for them may be required?

(All of which begs a slew of questions about the future, society, what do we mean by “traditional” that have yet gone unanswered by even the deepest thinkers of the NRx)

At the very least, don’t parents who are aware of the situation have a moral obligation to assist their children when they are of marrying age? Are they (both sexes) trying to find a needle in a haystack and then entering a world as a married couple that thinks they are freaks? It has been discussed by both authors here that this assistance probably should come in the form of getting the young couple on their feet financially and offering mentorship to them in those early stages, which most teen and twenty somethings may not actually want.

If all the rhetoric of the manosphere/NRx/Traditonalist blogger and commenters has uncovered something, then it seems there is way more work to do on defining the solutions then “women who want to marry just be June Cleaver.” This is as oversimplified as Dennis Pragers “men who want to marry just be Ward Cleaver.”

We have only just begun to open this can of worms.

How Middlebury students are created

Just a quick note on this topic, as I have some experience that can add to the mix.

When I was in graduate school, we were required to apply for and join a research group by the beginning of our second year. I was a member of two of them while I was there.

A university research group basically consists of a faculty advisor and a team of half a dozen to maybe fifteen students. The group is generally focused on several pet topics within the broader field of study that the advisor has carved out for him or herself. The point of the research group is to publish journal articles, book chapters, etc. in those areas.

A prolific faculty member will usually receive solicitations from journals and other publishing outlets to write on specific topics. Those requests and the advisors ideas make up the bulk of the intellectual impetus for what is produced. The students themselves can bring topics, but they are generally on the back burner, unless that student is advanced (3rd and 4th years). Often it is their dissertation and is being turned into a manuscript for publication later.

In both research groups I was a part of, it worked like this. During the weekly meetings, the advisor would sit at the head of a conference table and discuss the progress of projects and papers and divvy up new ones.

“I want Scott, Jess and Tammy to work on this paper. They are asking for our thoughts on psychological first aid and on- site disaster management.”

What would happen next is Scott, Jess and Tammy would write the rough draft manuscript and it would be edited by the advisor for final submission. The advisor would be first author, with the rest of them as 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. In the primary group I was a member of, we were told we would have at least 3 publications by graduation.

But here’s the thing. Whatever the topic was, it was understood that it would be written from a left-of-center political and/or philosophical perspective. The language of leftism and social justice permeated the discussions pre, in-process, and post production of all the writings. And believe me, even “disaster management” can be peppered with social justice mantras.

And remember, in my class of 40 something entering first years, I was the lone conservative.

My own dissertation has a dig on the Reagan and Bush administrations for being “anti-science” and therefore causing a dearth in mental health research and treatment for servicemembers. I didn’t write that. It was snuck in by the committee.

The university system is awash in leftist thought. That was 12 years ago. Undergraduates for the last 3 decades have been brought up in this environment and are effectively brainwashed to think that way.

If you send your kids to one of these places, be aware that they have refined the art of creating social justice “antifa” warriors.

The sad part is to now watch the creators of the Frankenstien monster be so counfounded by what they created.



A friend of mine shared the above meme on social media a few days ago. It represents a fairly commonly held core principle of the non-liberal right. By “non-liberal right” I mean to be inclusive of pretty much everyone from alt-right nationalists to hard monarchists and pretty much the entire so called new reaction. Where I place myself on that spectrum, I still don’t really know yet, but I do know I agree with the basic premise. If the problem with societies rising and falling is nothing more than a predictable, natural arc of history, then it makes sense that all of these sub-groups have been asking the question of late, “is there something more stable and enduring?”

It is one of maybe a half-dozen themes that provides an undercurrent for all of what drives me these days. There are others, but this topic, and the solutions you come up with should impact everything you do–at least in my opinion. That is, if you are able to envision a world more than 8 seconds into the future. Kids will do that to you.

Commenter Novaseeker posits:

To me it’s fairly simple — most people who are not in the “oppressor” class prefer the cultural Marxist narrative of oppressor/oppressed for clear reasons — it makes them the good guys of history in a transcendent, epicly moral sense. And for people in the oppressor class who turn the tables on themselves, they, too, can get the satisfaction of being on the right side of history, despite their obvious infirmity of being born the wrong, oppressive, sex, race, etc. This is more attractive, in a dramatic sense, than the older ideals of ordered liberty, because a system of ordered liberty has no dramatically exciting paragons of the better morality of the future — it simply offers a limited government model, with a lot of room for everyone to succeed or fail. That pales in comparison to the drama of being part of a world-historical movement to eradicate all human oppression, and usher in an era of, if not utopian, far better human relations, and far greater liberty of personal action, with fewer negative consequences, and more hedonic self-actualization. They claim, of course, to see the seeds of this in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but in reality their movement and means of identity are both inherently rooted elsewhere, in a system of ideas concerning oppressor and oppressed which are not rooted in the Constitution at all, but which rather have a much later provenance, and one which is directly hostile to the assumptions about human beings which are built into the Constitutional order.

This piece of the puzzle concerns human nature itself as [one of] the culprits of our dilemma. The dilemma, as I see it is how can you (we) provide an environment for our kids (or as the framers called it “progeny”) that is predictable, stable and perpetuates a values and cultural continuity that will last?

Another meme:

Set the obvious truths contained in this one aside for a moment and look at the priest. Limp wristed, barely clutching his crucifix, lower lip quivering while the social justice spokesthing says mean stuff to him. What the hell is the matter with you, cartoon priest?

The guy needs to stand in front of a mirror, and repeat some affirmations:

There is no such thing as gay marriage

There are only two sexes

It matters how a single mom became a single mom

All parties involved in an abortion are guilty of sin


And so on.

I am not sure if you can blame the guy, in light of the opening image. All things considered he was raised, as all of us western Christians in opulence. I’m no different. I was “deployed” to Afghanistan, but we had Tim Hortons donuts and a TGI Fridays. The only bad part was saying goodbye to my family for a year.

Consider Saint George, venerated by all three of the major confessional traditions–Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and the Anglicans. (He’s also the patron saint of the Klajic family). He was a decorated general. The guy was given two options–renounce Christ and be given hereditary titles and lands–basically the 3rd century equivalent of a kick ass active duty army pension. Or, we will kill you.

He chose the latter.

Yesterday I had a bowl of ice cream right in the middle of the Great Lent. Why? Because I wanted to. Friggin’ weak.

Saint George watches over the Klajic home.

I’ve discussed elsewhere the vanishing or decimating of the institutions. An institution is only as good as it is able to move the ball down the court. If the next generation does not learn AND internalize the values it is supposed to champion, it has failed. Unfortunately, everything from “marriage” to the church to the Boy Scouts have failed in this regard.

Novaseeker suggests that ultimately this may be inevitable. I think it’s related to this text:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears…

It seems almost a cruel joke that living a life that is not much different from your parents is ultimately boring to most people. Or as Novaseeker describes it “limited government with a lot of room for everyone to succeed or fail.” There is a desire to “improve” upon the backwards ways of old. This process appears to be accelerated by affluence and technology. How boring to just repeat your parents life.

So, what can be done? We can form NEW institutions, in secret I suppose (no 501c3 corporations). We meet in the modern version of the catacombs while we wait for a fierce leader like Saint George to fight against the decaying of the culture. Or?

I don’t know. It seems like the course is set for a great deal of misery and there is not much any individual family can do about it.

So, I choose to find brevity in the fact that my son left this small herd of plastic livestock animals in my truck which made me smile when I got to work this morning.


Identity formation, for boys

As recently as four years ago, if someone had asked me to list the various “who are you” items in order of importance, I probably would have said something like this:





Army officer


and then maybe…





Today, the list would look more like this:




American of Serbian descent





Army officer…

See what happened there? My guess is, it will continue to change over what remains of my lifespan.

Identity, understood as a western psychological construct is supposedly formed in conjunction with personality. Some might argue they are synonyms. Regardless, the two map onto each other pretty well, and are a function of predisposing temperament interacting with an almost infinite number of variables in the environment. This is the diathesis-stress model.

The topic of how all this comes about is enormous. I am interested these days in two parts of it, which by themselves are a huge undertaking. The first is related to the topic of where the shifts in focus come from, as demonstrated in my intro here. Note how Colonel Ludlow, played here by Anthony Hopkins resigns as an army officer in disgust, throwing his sabre down into the mud after a long proud career of service:

I couldn’t find a better cut of this scene. Fast forward it to about 1:40. Anyway, he retires to Montana with his boys and its a life of quiet solitude and grumpy “pissed off at the government” mentality to the end of his days for the colonel. It may occur to the reader why I like this movie. I just hope I don’t have a stroke and then have to open up on the local sheriff with my double barrel someday.

I do not wish to sing my own praises too much here, but there is a balance between the ability to remain grounded in your values or what Beck calls “core beliefs” and having absolutely no sense of self to the point of being all over the place, unpredictable and as a result, unreliable. I have changed much of this over my lifespan, but the core of me remains, for the most part, intact. I remain constantly open to the possibility that more change is coming. Still, my wife once asked my mom what I was like when I was a boy and she replied “shorter.”

The second part of this is wrapped up in the development of this identity. If the personality can be roughly described as the way we are and come across to most people, then identity is the inward processes that we reflect on–sometimes consciously, sometimes much less so. Identity is the running script that we tell ourselves about who we really are, and the outward message–a manifestation of that script–is either consistent with it or all kinds of weird things happen in our relationships and so forth. The theories about this are never ending–object relations, our “inner child,” Freud’s psychosexual stages, Piaget, etc.

Who will my sons become and what modifications will they make, (or allow to be made) to their inner core over their lifetimes? To what extent can I really have an impact on that other than the inherited traits I give them? I am so much like my father that the similarities between our life trajectories are eerie. Mychael didn’t get to know him very well before he died, but its not hard–she knows me.

I have made some choices, however, that were deeply inconsistent with that archetype. My dad was not an academic (he was an engineer), he would have hated it. I decided to go along for almost 12 years of college and graduate school collecting degrees and credentials and heading down the path to academia. This is how I ended up with a PhD and pretty much hate everybody with a PhD. I would rather be a farmer/rancher. I am not sure why I did that.

Personality and identity as constructs are still heavily debated in the behavioral sciences. And looking back to my training as a nouthetic counselor, where I was taught to reject everything modern psychology has to say about it, it gets even more difficult to develop a coherent theory. More and more, I think those Bible belt scholars at the seminary were more right about this then they were wrong. Psychology as a discipline has intruded upon a field of study that at one time belonged entirely to the clergy and the church. Who better to explain the nature of man than The Creator and His appointed representatives?

A little detour, then about revelation. If you ask the average Christian “do you believe the scripture is the word of God,” pretty much all of them will affirm it. Where it gets tricky is when you try to operationalize its meaning. There are a number of theories (which have deep hermeneutic and interpretive implications) about this. Some say that it means, in a very tangible way that back when whomever was writing any particular piece of what is called “scripture” (think Paul sitting in a prison cell with his quill and scroll by candle light) God was guiding his very hand to write exactly what was written. Others argue that God, in his sovereignty brought Paul, through his life experiences and personality to exactly the place where he would write what he wrote. There are other theories, but most fall into some version of those two.

The second one seems the most reasonable to me. I think man looked around him and noticed the world was a pretty neat place and wondered to himself, “what is the deal with this place? How did it get here? What is the purpose of it all?” He then gazed up at the heavens and started writing down his observations about life, the Creator, His character, etc. The miracle is how it was all collated and delivered to us now. This is truly divine inspiration.

The wisdom of the ages, however is not seen as having overcome the rigor of being “discovered” “scientifically” and in the age of reason, (hilarious) this makes it all just voodoo and witchcraft.

But is it really? As we swing back around to parenting, the proverbs are full of instruction. “Spare the rod, spoil the child” and “train them up in the way they should go” are a part of the great observations I mentioned above. Simply put, the author looked around and it occurred to him “it seems like the kids who receive corporal punishment are the best behaved ones. I think I’ll write that down in case nobody else notices.” Or, “hey doesn’t it seem like kids who receive the most rigorous moral instruction turn out to be pretty decent adults?”

Knowing that this is how these writings came to pass helps me apply them and be ready to engage with outliers and other specific situations with my own kids that do not seem to be generalized from these great passages. That seems pretty scientific to me.

Likewise, when writers of “red-pill” and “manosphere” blogs write stuff like “dorky guys with money and power still get cute chicks” are they not simply noticing natural phenomenon and putting it down on paper?

Young Bill and Melinda gates. Will The Rational Male be canonized 1000 years from now for noticing this?

Young Bill and Melinda gates. Will The Rational Male be canonized 1000 years from now for noticing this?

Maybe the problem is, noticing isn’t enough and someone has to write it all down once in a while so we don’t forget. After all Hamurabi’s code seemed to project magical power to transform society because “it is written.”

Getting back to the subject at hand. How do you help your sons develop goodness, strength, discipline, fortitude, reason, accountability, curiosity, or whatever other traits you think are important for what’s coming (and it doesn’t look good) when we are clearly a culture in decline? The conventional wisdom on just plain old resilience is that the arc of a decadent society means each generation, almost by definition gets weaker. I know for a fact I am a moral and character midget compared to my parents and grandparents. I have never had to suffer or struggle for anything, really.

And secondly, can you also give them the flexibility within that internal framework to roll with changes as they come, even anticipating them giving them a fighting chance to make the necessary adjustments? Colonel Ludlow has a sea change moment, recognizes that his own values are not consistent with what he is being asked to do, and dramatically storms off. I get its a movie, but I have had a few moments like this. They have no music and cinematography, (and sometimes take longer to realize) but they do happen.

Your identity tells you not only who you are, but it informs you how to relate to the world around you. If it is not basically morally intact and consistent with Gods mind and character you will not be able to detect when these moments are upon you or what to do about them. I fear we are not helping our boys navigate this problem.



How the interview felt

Me and my wife, 2007.

Me and my wife, 2007.

Yesterday on the Dalrock blog, Elspeth shared this story and asked a question:

Good morning Dalrock. I wanted to drop this right here for your consideration and for perhaps the purposes of inspiring you to perhaps revisit this subject for young men including practical wisdom on how to carry this out.

Our daughter (22) has a good girlfriend that we have known since the two of them met in a 10th grade class together. In other words, we’ve gotten to know her pretty well. She is a Vietnamese, Christian young woman with a gentle nature, very quiet, and highly family oriented. She has abandoned her college ambitions several times in response to her family needing her to direct her energies toward assisting in family businesses, sick relatives, etc. She just wants to meet one Christian, Vietnamese young man to settle down with. She is not fat (far, far from it) and is cute enough. Like our daughter, she has never had a boyfriend.

Her parents are divorced. Whether or not her mother was a good wife, I do not know. I do know that when her father left their family (it was his idea), he left wife, kids, all, left the country, took up with another woman, and never. looked. back. This tells me that whatever was going on, it wasn’t all about a bad wife kicking husband out of the house.

So…she meets this guy via her sister’s husband and the first date is to a local attraction where they got free tickets. In other words, he didn’t spend a lot of money on her. As the date unfolds, she finds herself basically going through an interrogation of sorts. He is asking all kinds of questions about why her parents aren’t together and her thoughts on it and just all kinds of wierd stuff for a first date. The kinds of stuff that this girl would surely be uncomfortable getting into on the first date, and she was understandably reserved at the interrogation.

The date went on and got better, they seemed to hit it off, and she expected that she would hear from him again. She didn’t. She tried to reach out to him, but got a tepid response. The only thing she can figure is that she failed his interview. An interview she was ill-prepared for and frankly, not at peace with getting into on the first date.

As I heard about it I was struck with the notion that it sound eerily as if he had been online collecting information on how to vet for a wife. That’s all well and good, but perhaps some of these guys need a crash course in how to get the answers they seek without a harsh interrogation which will only serve to cause a woman to clam up or lie.

For instance, given this guy’s connection to the BIL, there were a lot of details he could have gotten about her parents’ split over time, and without putting her on the spot on the first date. My husband had asked plenty of people about me and my family history and I was none the wiser for quite some time.

Additionally, any discreet young woman is not going to want to divulge the details of her family’s baggage to a guy until she is fairly certain the thing is going somewhere. Maybe in addition to questions to ask a prospective wife, you might offer some avenues to get answers in a less combative way.

She may have dodged a bullet, or they may both have lost out to his understandable zeal for caution which was unfortunately coupled with a lack of skill and charisma.

It caused me to remember that I put Mychael through a similar vetting process, so I shared the comment with her.

But before I get into that, my bias: The story Elspeth shares here presents itself as the poster case for why “dating” is the stupidest form of mate selection ever developed by mankind.

It is truly amazing to me that any two people of similar values, religious convictions, and good personality compatibility/chemistry ever meet, and have a lasting stable baby producing marriage using this system.

I’ve been writing about it for about 4 years now.

Ok, with that out of my system, lets begin a discussion about Elspeth’s central question which put in my own words is–accepting that men today do really need to protect themselves from what is a very risky proposition, is there a less cumbersome way to vet a potential wife than the third degree line of questioning?

I think the answer depends on so many factors it may not be completely answerable. Even in her own relayed story, Elspeth points out, for example the relationship with the brother in law may have made gathering collateral information easier–had the young man thought of it.

But if we assume for a moment that most of the information is going to be gathered via simply talking to each other, we may be able to glean what it could look like in real life.

When I met Mychael, I was 100% blue-pill “conservative” nice guy. This means, at 35 years old and divorced I assumed:

  1. The only lessons that needed to be learned from the divorce were on me because women only leave men who deserve it.
  2. There is no value in trying to get to the bottom of how a particular woman became a “single mom.” This is none of my business because it happened before we met. It was part of “her journey.”
  3. All women are more emotionally sophisticated and intuitive about relationship related issues than all men.
  4. I would keep going, but do I really need to?

Anyway, even in that state, I instinctively knew that I needed to get to the bottom of some things and set out to try and do so. But here is the context–and this part matters too because it may or may not have provided an easier route through the process:

I was a graduate student in a program that was highly lopsided in favor of men (for dating purposes, that is). The ratio was about 1:4 men:women. I actually considered asking one or two out, but I had a pretty serious commitment to political and values compatibility. I was the only non-leftist in my program of about 40 incoming students. I had an online profile with 2 services: ConservativeMatch.com and Match.com. I have no idea what that world is like now, since it was 11 years ago, but those were considered to be the “conservative” sites at the time.

Most readers here are also aware of the logistics and basic male/female math of online dating. The distribution works out exactly as the now infamous OKCupid study shows. About 80 percent of the women are interested in only about 20 percent of the men. And the opposite is not true in the other direction. This means that if you are a woman, you will receive 100s of interest emails per week and you must use some kind of sorting criteria to find those 20 percent. If you are a man, you will send out hundreds before you get one response–even if you are in that 20%. (Or about 80 percent will get, basically, none). This is hypergamy on steroids without all the ickyness of having to actually see the guys face who you are rejecting.

I guess I did OK in that lottery because for the entire time I was on there, if I wanted a date by Friday, I had one. Mychael also had profiles on both sites, and I remember seeing both of them, matched up with me on interests including match.com’s proprietary matching system. I remember the distinct thought–“both sites have matched me with the same girl. That’s a good sign.”

But the main point is, we actually spoke on the phone, I would guess 3-5 times before we actually met. Mychael:

We talked a lot on the phone first. I remember feeling very comfortable because I liked the sound of your voice. You were funny, and even in the way you asked the questions you made it feel like an interview, not an interrogation. You told me about your divorce and I knew that this was driving a lot of your caution.

One of the things I do remember about the line of questioning had to do with changing–the other person. My ex-wife once told me, near the end of the proceedings something like this: “I looked at you and thought–that’s a good start.” And this always stung a bit. She saw me as an unfinished project, and there was an expiration date as well–if I did not reach whatever potential she saw in me by X date, I was through. On the other hand, I looked at her and had this thought: “There are some things about you that drive me crazy. But if you NEVER change them, I will stay. I have no desire to make you change.”

Mychael, on this topic:

I sensed that being asked to change was going to be a big one for you. You said you were going to be an army officer. You said that meant an internship in a couple years and you didn’t know where. You said you wanted to retire in the northwest on a big ranch with horses and a log home. You made it clear that you had certain personality idiosyncrasies that were never going to change. I appreciated the honesty about that, and still wanted to meet. I knew I needed to let you know–I will never require you to change or hold it over your head.

These conversations were blended with the usual hobbies/interests, blah blah. They drifted effortlessly from serious to light topics. Then we met. Mychael, again:

I got out of my car and walked toward you standing outside your apartment and I noticed your long legs and how tall you were. I was already in trouble.

We went on 3 dates, mostly around town there in the SF bay area. The third one was a drive out to the beach for a few hours and then I dropped her off at work. She had to be on a plane to visit friends in southern California for a week the next day. What I don’t remember is talking about much serious stuff during the in-person dates. It just didn’t seem like the place.

I don’t remember what we talked about on those first three dates. I just remember feeling so comfortable and loving being around you.

I think what’s important here is the chemistry was kicking in and by that time, it really didn’t matter what we talked about. When you are close proximity, all bets are off. I could have said “I killed a guy in prison for looking at me wrong” and I don’t think she would have noticed. And to be honest, I felt the same way. The cocktails of oxytocin and the star-struckness was already starting.

Then the week apart began. We both knew by the first day of her vacation that this was going somewhere, because her vacation was totally monopolized by evening phone calls with me. She was being rude to her friends to talk to me on the phone. I think they were OK with it, but it is what it is.

On the phone that week, the serious questions started again, but it was fun. I didn’t feel pressured and I was totally happy answering them. I do remember thinking “this guy must have really been hurt by that divorce.” But I already liked you a lot and it was worth it. I also got plenty of chances to talk about what I was looking for, wanted, didn’t want. It wasn’t a one-way street.

Mychael also points out that in the modern age, we were able to get many of the particulars out of the way in those first few emails. No deal breakers–proceed to step two.

It is really hard to know what went wrong in the case of Elspeths daughters friend. How awkward was it? What was it really like? What were the particular questions? The body language, the tone, the inflections, all of it matters.

Or maybe emailing, then talking on the phone, then meeting was what worked for me an Mychael, and there is no way to generalize that beyond us. We both tried to maximize the potential for compatibility by even choosing the same two dating sites. The rough screening measures we both employed have resulted in a success, I think. We have been together for 11 years and even made it through the extremely perilous “red-pilling” that began at about 5 years in.

From a parenting perspective, this really makes it difficult to talk to your late teen-early twenties kids about what right looks like. I know we have some pretty high expectations of our littlest ones, but what Elspeth is asking is truly unique. Because most of us in this situation decided in mid stream that typical “dating” methods are not working, and those kids are coming of age now. Its a little hard to say to a 20 year old “I know we never talked about this, but we want you to participate in a courtship framework that no one has used in 100 years or more.”



Mark is 55. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is an emergency roadside assistance tech for AAA. He has 4 children. 3 boys and 1 girl who are 25, 20, 18 and 12.  Here he is with his granddaughter.

I want my children to know that how they do their job is what’s important. So I tell them that they should do their job to the best of their ability to the glory of God! I always try to set that example.

Your example has no doubt already paid off. It is your turn to be honored for the guidance and stability you gave them.