Emotional Payoffs vs Real Gains

A few years ago, I read a series of blog posts on ribbonfarm.com that he ultimately turned into a book called The Gervais Principle. When I read it originally I thought it was a really interesting post, and I thought that it was a good model for corporate reality.

But outside of the corporate world, I didn’t see much application.  So, let me VERY briefly explain…

The article is based on the idea of taking something called the McLeod hierarchy and seeing how it plays out in the American version of the tv series, The Office.

Here’s a visual:

I’m going to briefly explain what these labels mean, because they have separate meanings from what they typically mean in every day conversation.

Losers are basically clock punchers.  They put the minimum effort into their jobs necessary to get a paycheck and get meaning from elsewhere in their lives like family, outside hobbies, friends, etc.  They don’t care about their company and are just going through the motions.

Clueless are usually the overachieving team players who end up in middle management for their dedication and going the extra mile for their company.

Sociopaths are not clinical sociopaths…these  are people who are bent on climbing the corporate hierarchy.  They are clever, hard-nosed, tough and very logical and are always looking for an angle or an edge over other people and are willing to break rules or not play fair to win.

The main difference between these 3 from my perspective is how they see  value in life and social interactions.

Clueless seek tangible recognition like job titles, badges, honors to put on their walls, certificates of achievement, etc.  Many conspicuous displays of wealth like expensive cars and obvious brand label clothes could also fall into this category.

What they want is to be respected for their achievements in out-performing others.  This is the kind of person who likes to have lots of initials behind their names, and will make sure that if they have a PhD, that you call them Dr.

In contrast, the Losers care primarily about emotional payoffs.  Emotional payoffs come from the regard of their peers so this is things like being a valued member of the team, being a pillar of the community, and generally getting praise for being a “good person”.  Cheap fame like landing a spot in a reality tv show, or having a lot of followers on social media could also fit into this.

What they want is to feel good about themselves and for other people to affirm them and their life decisions.  This can be in whatever their social circle is so winning a drinking competition at the local pub, and running in a marathon for cancer would be exactly the types of things that Losers love to do.

Lastly, we have the Sociopaths.  Sociopaths, care about what I call, “real” gains.  And “real” gains are anything that checks out from a cost-benefit analysis.  It’s a bit difficult to tease these apart from the accolades that Clueless seek, but the difference is that a Sociopath wants the accolades in as much as they help him achieve some other aim.

They are a means, not an end in that they don’t care about the accolade itself.  They care what it can do for them.  In this regard, a fake would be just as good as a real one if they won’t get caught.

The Clueless wouldn’t be satisfied with a fake, because they want the achievement, itself, and in fact, would be quite upset to find that someone else cheated to get it, while a Sociopath would likely respect a person as clever for finding a way to get the same benefits without any of the hard work.

Now, you might be wondering why I’m even talking about this and how this relates to dating and women and especially how this relates to dating Asian girls so keep reading…

In the dating world, some girls are mainly going for emotional payoffs and others are going for “real” gains.  The smartest girls are going for “real” gains while making it seem that they are after emotional gains.  After all, girls who are only going after “real” gains are called: whores, gold diggers, social climbers, etc.

Now this is where the real difference in dating in the west vs dating in Asia comes up.  Asian women are much more looking for “real” gains than western women.


Well, in the west, if a girl wants a nice car, expensive brand goods, to go on exotic trips, and have a big house, she’s supposed to work hard and get it for herself.

She’s an independent woman and she doesn’t need a man…

So why do they bother with men at all?  For the emotional payoffs of the Loser.  The attention, of course, and then the biological desire for sex is there, but with the modern idea that women shouldn’t try to get “real” gains from men, they are going for the most emotionally exciting experience.

There is no need to take into account practicalities in a western woman’s dating and sex life.

Contrast that with Asian girls who, for the most part, care a lot more about family and don’t want to be spending all day at an office (who does, right?).  So they are looking for “real” gains because that will allow them to stay home with the kids and go shopping and drink tea with the girls once the kids are old enough to go to school.

They also need to lock down a man who is going to stay with them because if you’re a 39yo divorced Asian woman raising your kids as a single mother, people will think you’re a damn fool for not being able to hold on to your man, or for choosing a dud in the first place.

And good luck having a dating life or getting remarried!

Now, whether you agree with this or not is irrelevant.  This is how Asian societies think and it shapes behavior, big time.

On the other hand, the 39yo divorced western women is still hot and can party after the kids are tucked in or the baby sitter shows up.

Once again, you can agree or disagree, but it doesn’t matter…these ideas are out there and they influence behavior.

This is why when many western guys who are awesome with girls back home come to Asia, they have a hard time understanding Asian girls.  They think that a hot club make-out while they’re grinding her clit through her jeans is going to go somewhere (and of course, sometimes it does,) but a lot of times it doesn’t and the guys is baffled when he goes home empty handed.

On the reverse, the reliable guy who may not be very emotionally compelling can get action in Asia like he can’t back at home because he has “real” gains on offer.

Now that I’ve outlined this basic dynamic, I want to shift to talking about why women run circles around guys in the dating world using another ribbonfarm.com diagram.

So, check it out in a few days…

Attachment Theory vs (S)He Just Isn’t That Into You?

Just yesterday, I finished reading the book, Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find and Keep Love (that’s a mouthful), and while I enjoyed reading it, I’m always really skeptical of anything I agree with too much.

If I agree with it then I’m reinforcing my existing beliefs which means that my brain is probably not critically engaged enough to pick up on what doesn’t match and I’m missing out on learning opportunities.

There’s a quote that goes something like:

If you and I both think the same thing, then one of us is redundant

Anyway, I enjoyed this book quite a bit, and there are a few things that are interesting about it and a few things that I think are adequately explained with how they fit in.  In fact, maybe all of the interesting points from my perspective may fall into the category of not being adequately explained, which is probably why I find those particular things interesting.

To VERY briefly explain attachment theory, there are 3 basic attachment styles:


Secure people are just like you would expect…they are comfortable with intimacy, trust their partners easily, and assume the best in conflicts which helps keep them from escalating out of control.

Anxious people really crave intimacy with someone, but at the same time tend to be continuously concerned that their significant other doesn’t care for them enough and any small detail that could potentially mean that they are less loved than they want to be is highlighted and is cause for major concern.

Avoidant people want to be attached, but when they actually find someone the closeness is suffocating and they do various things to sabotage the intimacy they have in their relationships.

Now that we have the basics, we can  go into some of the weird things that come to mind when you think about this more closely.

A lot of the book is focused on what anxious and avoidant people can do to be happier in their relationships and the problems that they face and how you can manage those if you are with one of those two types.

One of the most surprising pieces of advice that I found in this book was the advice for anxious people that they date multiple people simultaneously.  It’s rare that a mainstream, (somewhat) scientifically rigorous book recommends that.  The authors’ reasoning is that anxious people put too many expectations on others early on and by having more than one prospect they reduce that anxiety by having a “plan b” (my words, not theirs).  They mention this kind of in passing, and they don’t go into detail about what this might look like.

It’s unclear if they are advocating some form of polyamory or they just mean for people to “play the field” before settling in on one person.  Either way, those kind of arrangements often open up other problems that are totally not addressed like how to manage multiple people, and how to pare down to one once you’ve selected a person from the pool to be with.

The next thing that struck me is that their characterizations of an avoidant person don’t distinguish between a person who has problems with intimacy and a person who just doesn’t want to get too intimate with a particular person for whatever reason (usually because that person doesn’t meet their minimum threshold for a serious partner because of looks, temperament, geography, religion, finances, education background, etc.)

There definitely is a difference between someone who has problems with intimacy and someone who really likes a person but doesn’t wnat to be serious about them because they have a major black mark against them like a drinking problem, for example.

Under these circumstances, the securely attached person might appear to be avoidant, when actually they are just being prudent.  What this highlights is that these types are really about a person’s INTERNAL experience, but since those aren’t visible to outsiders, they can mis-characterize your attachment style and then interact with you in a sub-optimal way.

Ultimately, the books seems to say that the conflicts that come when these three types interact with one another are the differing levels of intimacy with Anxious at one end, requiring lots of intimacy and Avoidants at the opposite end wanting a lot less intimacy and a lot more freedom.

Secures are..?  Able to be flexible according to their partners?  it’s quite unclear where secures fall into this, but I guess the authors may be saying that because they are secure they can negotiate their intimacy needs and make sensible compromises and trade-offs to (mostly?) satisfy their own intimacy needs and those of their partner.

The last thing, I want to mention is that they imply that the avoidant type uses seeing other people as a way to reduce their attachment to a given partner and to maintain their autonomy as they might also do by long absences, for example.  What’s not clear to me though is if someone engages in those behaviors but hides them from their partner.

So, an Avoidant might maintain contact with an ex and want it to be known so that the other person is on notice not to get too close, but a secure might maintain a relationship with an ex just because they like that person.  And I think that this can be even more confusing if you think of the case of a person wanting to and deciding to have sex with someone else.

From what he book seems to be saying, if the person is Avoidant, they would want their partner to know to keep them at bay, and if they were anxious they would either be doing it for some perceived slight and may or may not want to keep it a secret, or they are doing it to get more attention by trying to create jealousy in their partner in which case they would want their partner to find out.

But what about the securely attached person…

Theoretically, they are satisfied enough with the level of intimacy they are able to negotiate to stay with their partner and be calm and supportive but that doesn’t mean that their personal needs are being met at the level they want them to be met at.  So, if a Secure was seeing someone on the side, presumably they would work to keep it a secret because they don’t want to hurt their partner and aren’t playing any games to try and change their partners behavior because they can negotiate directly around their needs and wants, right?

The authors don’t say.

So ultimately, why this book is very interesting and while I found myself nodding along on a regular basis, I also felt that they conflated intimacy needs with these attachment styles but I suspect that even securely attached people have different intimacy preferences or, they may want to keep a low intimacy relationship because (s)he isn’t that into you at the moment…though that can definitely change with time.