“Would you recommend this stuff to your own daughter?”
I occasionally get that question. The answer is yes, but that doesn’t really give you any context. Moreover, what I seem to get more often is men saying something like “Well, yeah, that’s true, and you make good points, but when I have daughters I’m going to tell them to do things the old fashioned way.”
I’ve always thought that strange, since this is usually coming from men who are well aware the old fashioned way doesn’t work any more and simply creates legions of divorced, angry, thirtysomething women, along with a bunch of really screwed-up kids. Since I love my daughter and want her to be happy, my advice to her is congruent with the goal of having her not become a divorced, angry thirtysomething, constantly stressing out about money and kids.
This is a letter I wrote to my 15 year-old daughter “Indie” regarding men. It’s also an open letter to all young women under the age of about 20 or so. I mean every word of it. I removed a few parts that were personal between my daughter and I, but the rest is word-for-word what I wrote.
I love you. It is my greatest hope and goal for you to be a happy person throughout your life. Not only happy now while you’re young and carefree, but happy as you get into your 20s, 40s, 60s, and beyond. I want you and your brother to live lives of long term happiness. When you’re 60 years old, I’ll be 85, which means I’ll still be alive and healthy (barring an accident). If, when I see in your eyes you’ve lived a truly consistently happy life, then and only then I will know I have succeeded as a father.
If instead I see in your eyes the weariness of life that I see in the eyes of most women over age 30, the weariness of failed relationships, failed marriages, raising children without the help of a man, financial struggles, and all the other problems women today wrestle with, then I will know I will have failed as a father, at least a little.
To help you on your journey, I’ve come up with a list of 5 pieces of advice for you when it comes to dealing with men. These are things you should pay attention to not just now, but for the rest of your life, from age 15 to age 65.
Some of these things we’ve already discussed, others we have not. Some of these other people will agree with, others will flat out horrify people. I’ve told you a little bit about Societal Programming…this is why.
As I’ve always told you, listen to people when they give you advice or opinions opposite to my own, lend your ear to them, and understand their point of view. But be sure to ask lots of questions. Make them defend their opinions, just as I defend mine. Most importantly, make sure they can back up what they say with facts and reality, not with feelings and reactions. (You and your brother have become pretty good at doing that, so I have no doubts about your ability in this area.)
Okay, here are my 5 items, listed in no particular order.
1. Do not get pregnant before age 18. If you do, daddy will not help you. Of course I can’t monitor you 24/7 to make sure you don’t have sex. Neither can your mother. But what I can do is tell you exactly what will happen if you are stupid enough, weak enough, and so disrespecting of yourself if you chose to actually get pregnant before you turn 18 years old.
You’ll ask me for help, either financial help or babysitting help or whatever. I will simply throw you and your baby into the car, drive you downtown to the welfare office, and drop you both in line with all the other losers. Then you can wait in line for the scraps Barack Obama will throw at you as you begin your new life of stress and poverty. I will then shake my head sadly and drive away.
I will always love you. Always, and unconditionally, no matter what you do. But I will not reward you for ruining your own life on purpose. And if you get pregnant and have the baby, I promise you, it will be because you did it on purpose. You knew what you were doing. You understand how the human body works. In a world with abortion and 11 forms of birth control, some of which you can get for free, there is no such thing as purely “accidental” babies. That’s more false Societal Programming.
You already know why many other girls are having babies in your high school well before they’re 18. It’s because everyone, all their friends, and particularity their parents, kiss their asses, congratulate them, and help them out when they do. I want to make it very clear to you that you will receive no such support or help if you choose this terrible, destructive life path. (At least not from me; your mother is free to do whatever she wants.)
I’ve already told you that women who have babies before age 18 are almost guaranteed (as in over 90%) to live their entire lives in poverty. I don’t want you to live a life like that. I love you too much. Hopefully if I make that option terrible enough for you, you won’t do it.
Of course, once you’re 18 years old, you’re a legal adult, and can do whatever you like and have all the babies you want. I’m talking here about having babies before you’re 18.
Now let’s talk about having babies after age 18…
2. Wait until you’re 30 years old before you have any kids. I know you want to adopt children at some point, and I think that’s beyond wonderful. But please, please, wait until you’re at least 30 years old before you have any kids, whether they come from your womb or not.
You’re a strong, intelligent, passionate woman. You have great things ahead of you. Your 20s is a very precious time. It’s the only time in your life when you have no kids, no spouse, don’t live at home with your parents, have youth and vitality, are attractive to the opposite sex, and are free to do whatever you want.
You destroy almost all of that by having kids before age 30. You’ll regret doing it for the rest of your life. Most people who have kids before age 30 do.
Moreover, at age 30, you will have a much stronger sense of who you are. You will also have more discipline, maturity, and financial resources, and you’ll need all three of these things in abundance to raise small children.
I don’t care if you’re married or not…wait until you’re 30 to have kids. There is no rush.
3. Until you reach age 50, do not plan on any man being with you longer than 2 – 5 years. No matter how wonderful a man he is, no matter how much you love him at first, human nature will eventually take over. This applies to him, and it applies to you. None of us are angels Indie. I wish we were, and it would be wonderful if we were, but we aren’t. We are human beings, frail and flawed, with brains hard-wired with behaviors that are 150,000 years out of date.
What is overwhelmingly likely to happen when you get into a relationship with a man is that within 2 – 5 years, he will eventually cheat on you, or make you very angry, or hurt you in some major way. This will likely end the relationship.
But that’s actually the least likely of the two relationship-ending outcomes. What’s even more likely to happen is that you will start losing your sexual and romantic attraction for him, even if he’s a really nice guy. As a matter of fact, it will happen especially if he’s a really nice guy. Then you will leave him.
This does not make you evil or bad. It makes you human, and a woman. Nor will these guys be bad guys out to hurt you or lie to you. They are also human, and men. It’s how we are.
Over the course of your life you will see people of all ages attempt to deny, with their actions, everything I just said. And over and over again, you will see them fail. You will see them divorce, break up, fight, argue, and cheat on each other. You will see them with new lovers every few years. “This time it will work,” they will say. And they will be wrong.
My hope for you is that you will not be part of this dreadful cycle. My hope for you is that you will be happy.
Love men. Be with them. Make commitments to that one special man if you want. That’s wonderful. I’m smiling right now thinking of you with a wonderful, strong man at your side.
But as long as you’re under the age of about 50, don’t make any solid plans that rely on that man to be around longer than about 2 – 5 years or so. The odds are overwhelming, overwhelming Indie, that he won’t. When you part company from him, it will cause far more damage to him, you, and any children between you if it was not planned for in advance.
Of course you could end up with a guy longer than 5 years before you turn 50. It’s possible, and if it happens, that’s fantastic. Just don’t plan on it. Don’t rely your entire life, emotions, long term plans, and finances on the outcome that he’ll be around longer than 2 – 5 years. If it happens, consider it a nice bonus.
Once you enter your 50s, much of this dynamic will change. Once a woman reaches 50 or a man reaches 60, “till death do us part” really does take on some actual, real-world meaning. But rarely before then. It’s just not how people are, and it’s not the kind of culture we have any more. Plan accordingly.
4. Never believe a man when he says he’ll never have sex with anyone else. Just about every man you date will promise this. 40% of these men will be lying to you. The other 60% will be lying to themselves. Again, if you ever do have a long term relationship where a man never cheats on you, then consider it a nice but unexpected bonus. Don’t plan on it.
Yes, men can be monogamous, but only for short periods, and even then it’s painful. I was faithful to your mother while we were married, but as a strong, driven, masculine man it was extremely painful and unpleasant for me. I had to constantly work extremely hard at it to the point of exhaustion. (And by the way, you might notice your mom and I aren’t together any more.)
I could advise you to adopt a lifestyle like I have, where cheating doesn’t exist because monogamy doesn’t exist. But you need to make your own decisions about that. What I can advise you to do, regardless of the path you take, is to never, ever assume that a man will be sexually exclusive to you in the long term, regardless of what he promises, how convincing he is when he promises it, how nice he is, how religious he is, how much he loves his children, how sexually inexperienced he is, how polite or compliant he is, how wonderful his parents are, how much he loves you, or how good of a girlfriend/wife you are to him.
He’s still a man, designed to act the way men have been programmed to act by nature and society for 150,000 years. Again, this does not make him bad or evil. It simply makes him a man. We are very simple, predicable creatures.
5. Do not expect men to “love you for you”. Men will love your appearance first and “you” second. Therefore as a woman, your physical appearance should be a very high priority throughout your life. I don’t have to tell you that the prettier a woman is, the easier her life is. You see that all over the place as often as I do. No, it’s not fair. No, it’s not right. But that’s the way it is, and neither you nor I can change that about society.
One of the many things I hope you learn, and one of the core concepts I’ve tried to teach you and your brother, is to take action within the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. It would be wonderful if men out there were attracted to women purely based on their personalities, intelligence, and kindness. But you and I know that’s not how the real world works. I would be lying to you if I told you to just “be a nice person” and you’ll attract a very high quality man. You might, but the odds of this are low if you don’t have a pleasing appearance.
When a man looks at you, even if he’s a highly intelligent, fair, nuanced, educated, kind man, he will look at your face first. He will look at your body second. Everything else, your personality, your skills, your accomplishments, your feelings, your wonderful spirit, your caring, and everything else you have to offer the world he will look at only if your face and body meet with his approval. If they don’t, those things won’t matter to him.
It gets worse. He will judge your worthiness based on his quality. If he’s a good looking, athletic, high-income, responsible, successful man, you’d better be very attractive or he’ll move on and find another woman who is. If he’s a fat, ugly loser with no money and no future, then he’ll take you no matter how bad you look. The quality of the man you attract is based on your appearance more than any other single factor.
No, it’s not fair, but this is how men work in the real world. Again, it doesn’t make them evil or misogynistic. It simply makes them men.
The more pleasing your physical appearance is, the easier things will come to you, the less hard you’ll have to work, the higher quality of men you’ll attract, and the nicer men and women will treat you.
You’re already beautiful, so you have a head start on this. Keep it up. Don’t ever let your appearance waver. I told your brother when he was younger that as a man, his primary focus should be to make as much money as he can. As a woman, you need to look as good as you can. Again, this is how society is, and these are the realities you will face when you leave home.
Now don’t get me wrong. Of course I’m not saying you shouldn’t make a lot of money. Hell yes you should! Remember item number three above…it’s going to be difficult to rely on a man for consistent, long term financial support pre-50, so you need to make sure you’re as financially independent as possible. My next letter to you will be about making money. For now, I”m just saying that the better looking you are, the easier this part of your life will be.
That’s all for now. Again I’ll repeat that a lot of this advice is going to rub people the wrong way, and they will tell you I’m wrong. That’s okay. Listen to them, but make sure they can defend what they say with facts beyond just defensiveness or anger.
I love you Indie. You have such a wonderful life ahead of you. I’m so envious.