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Wellness Wednesday for April 17, 2024

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Some sort of respiratory thing I got visiting a friend put me flat on my back for two days, brain fried, fever, hucking up gobs of firm yellow phlegm during coughing fits.

Luckily I've got precooked meals in the freezer, milk, Gatorade, and plenty of cough syrup, but I'm scared that if it'd gotten any worse I'd have had to call on friends who I really don't want to risk getting sick.

I'm normally an extremely healthy person in every way, but recently about once a year in the spring or summer some virus absolutely floors me. Last year one came on so suddenly I almost fell off a deck while installing a window.
What the hell, is this what getting old does to you?

What is the best way to access one's value in the dating market? I haven't been single for many years and my only real dating experience in the past decade is tinder. What is the best way to judge my realistic expectations in dating?

Now this is a place where you'll be hard pressed to find a useful answer, unless you wish to go the trouble of submitting a profile for someone here to look at it. Though you could definitely do that in person, with people you know. You could even DM me, should you deem me worthy of your trust.

Consider the following:

  1. Are you attractive? Be it yes or no, pick images that maximize it. People are much less picky in person, should things progress to a date. I'm not talking catfishing, but flattering shots are IMPORTANT.
  2. How old are you? For men, until the wrong side of your 30s, older can be better.
  3. Is your job one that signals social status or at least wealth?
  4. How tall are you?
  5. Do you have "cool" hobbies? Don't put MTG or video games here, for the love of god.
  6. Can you write an interesting or funny bio?

Sadly the most important step is number 1. Be VERY thoughtful about the pictures you put there.

The ideal photo has the following properties:

  1. Taken by someone else. In other words, not obviously a selfie. That signals having friends or a social life.
  2. You're dressed well. Or have a physique conducive to not having to dress much.
  3. You're doing something interesting.
  4. Got a pet? Especially a dog? Put them in there, ideally doing something cutesy with you.

If you're really down bad, get a professional photographer or a friend who's good at it to take your photos. I make do with my brother's obscenely expensive iPhone.

If you think you can make an honest self assessment of the other answers or tell us about it, even without a photo, I can at least roughly approximate your chances. Either way, if you're not naturally super hot, then you're going to be in for a rough time. But the degree of roughness can vary, and hell, it'll help you out if you're looking for someone serious for whom looks aren't the be all and end all.

Now this is a place where you'll be hard pressed to find a useful answer

Just the opposite, I feel like everytime someone asks motte for dating advise they get a lot of good replies. Yours is ironically one of them. I think this place is filled with smart guys who took a while to adjust to dating norms and in the meanwhile got to observe and think hard about the fundamentals

I appreciate the compliment, however, OP wanted to know his chances. What I provide is, I hope, sterling dating advice accrued through both observation and bitter experience, but until he can convince me or himself he's assessing himself correctly, nobody knows! haha

These are all steps you can take to help yourself on the apps, but how much they'll help and how badly he needs it? I have no idea. And I don't really trust self-assessments, I did better than I expected myself, so it's not like people just underestimate their chances. You'll never know for sure until you put it out there and see how many matches you get and how much you like them, until then no amount of mere talking, without showing someone else your profile, pictures and personal information, can help. I understand very well why someone won't want to show that to online strangers, but without that, what else can I do but pray he takes my suggestions seriously?

You will figure out your value fairly quickly if you make an effort to be objective. You will be able to judge by the quality of partners that you can attract for a second date (if using apps) or first date (if you met at an event). Set your expectations to that and you should be ok. Also stay away from Tinder. I've heard Hinge and Bumble are the apps to use in the West.

You can maximise your potential by working out, buying some well fitted (and not overtight) fashionable clothes (check out some fashion subreddits if necessary), and regularly socialising at mixed gender irl events. This single sentence covers about 80-90% of seduction theory on increasing your attractiveness.

A final word regarding apps. They can be soul crushing if you haven't had experience app dating. Matches will disappear for no apparent reason, or otherwise flake before dates. Try not to take this personally, and take breaks from app dating if you need to.

I find that meeting partners at irl singles or social events is much more productive. You get to show all facets of yourself and both of you can be more sure of what you are getting before you go on a first date. Your irl 'matches' are probably the best thing to calibrate your dating value expectations to.

There are many markets and your value will vary between them. App wise, if you are looking for anything serious, avoid Tinder (though it may vary by city) - I like Hinge. See who matches/responds/goes on a first date, see who goes on a second, see who makes it to a few months...I think the earlier in the pipeline there, the more it tells you about your profile and the app; the later, the more it tells you about you.

As to meeting people IRL, you'd, uh, want to ask someone else (though I'm working on it, in theory, a bit).

Some metrics are fairly objective. Height, income, even attractiveness. Personality gets more subjective, but still definitely has identifiable groups. Other than height, mostly it's things one can work on. As to where a particular set of category ratings puts you, harder to say.

You can in principle sign up as a woman and look at men's profiles, too.

You can in principle sign up as a woman and look at men's profiles, too.

At least in India, you have to go through phone number verification on the apps. All 3 of the big ones at least.

But in a pinch, set your gender to female and look for men, and you can see the competition.

Edit: As I've said before, avoid Tinder like the plague, Bumble and Hinge are far better for guys.

I have a partner who likes cities. He has always seen himself living in one, and has a certain affinity to the culture and outlook of many city-dwellers. I am having trouble understanding or sympathising with his viewpoint, and vice versa.

This might seem tangential, but bear with me:

I went to the Blue Mountains over Easter - for the unacquainted, it is a large wilderness area outside of Sydney and a World Heritage site. It’s probably one of my most frequented excursion spots due to its proximity to the city, yet it’s a completely different world out there.

The first thing I noticed, as is the case virtually every time I leave a major urban area, is that the silence and solitude is palpable. You can leave the window open and not be assaulted with a storm of noise (which occurs in the city even on the 13th floor of a building, I can attest to that). Leaving for the great outdoors is quite a good way to clear away the mental clutter that accumulates when you are overstimulated for a long period of time. I’ve done this whenever I get the chance, and it never fails to reset my brain. I listen to music a lot in my normal day-to-day life, but here it just felt wrong to do so.

Another thing that stuck out to me is that you can actually see the stars come out at night. The older I get, the more I appreciate this feature of being outdoors. The ability to look up into the heavens on a quiet night and see the universe above you is something that just doesn’t get old.

The natural environment is breathtaking, too. There are dry sclerophyll forests heavy with the aroma of eucalyptus and dotted with the golden blooms of wattles, rainforest-lined valleys and canyons that plunge to depths of 500 metres, beautiful little waterfalls and mossy creeks that swell after rain, and so on. One night when I was there, I did a night hike to a cascade named Cataract Falls, armed with only a headlamp, and when I turned off the light there were glow worms all over the place. The waterfall was like a natural amphitheatre covered in these shining little blue lights, and it was hard to tell where they ended and where the stars began.

I think this, along with many other experiences, has led me to an inevitable conclusion: I really detest city life.

They’re overwhelming, impersonal, noise-filled, cluttered environments, where you’re virtually forced to rub shoulders (in the literal sense) with people if you want to leave your house, and which are incredibly aesthetically alienating, especially ever since the utilitarian commodification of architecture got started, the trend that Bauhaus and other such design schools put into motion.

Keep in mind, Australian cities are probably less “vibrant” and less dense than, say, North American ones. I routinely hear Australians complain that they have no real cities, that everything closes early and that the nightlife is nonexistent, they consider Australia a country you go to for the outdoors and not the city life. Sydney itself is a reasonably well-maintained city, there are no seedy strip malls and it’s fairly walkable - but I still find it to be far too crowded and too noisy for my tastes, and find that the culture and views of the cosmopolitan urban-dwellers range from insipid to downright irritating.

The conveniences that cities offer are nice. But I am frankly struggling to think of any significant conveniences that are offered in a city which aren’t also offered in a small to medium size town that offers far greater recreation opportunities. If you can get a reasonable range of food and lodging, and some medical care, I find that sufficient. If the goal is thriving nightlife, constant activities, cosmopolitan feel and being able to go places at any time of the day then sure, cities are The Place To Be. But I place zero value on any of these things.

Cities are places I live in solely for work-related reasons. I have lived in many, and they are places I would never live in given the choice, and it makes it really difficult for me to even put myself in a frame of mind where I see it as the optimal way to live. Ask him about any of the things I mentioned, and he’ll reveal that none of it actually matters hugely to him. He finds these less urbanised places dead and depressing, a viewpoint which I could never understand - after you’ve lived in a city for any amount of time, it feels interminable - like an endless randomly generated series of the very same hedonistic pleasures expressed in slightly different ways.

Perhaps it really is just tribal affiliation - he identifies more with the outlook of those in the city and less with those in more rural areas. For me, it’s the very opposite.

I’m not sure what the point of writing this post is, I suppose I’m sourcing hot takes. It’s a difference that we’re both somewhat adamant about, and that may cause issues down the road - so maybe I’m asking to understand, or maybe I’m asking if anyone else here feels the same as I do.

I am largely indifferent to locale as long as it's got food, electricity, and decent internet.

Big cities? They're a slight pain, I don't feel suffocated or anything, but that's largely because I'm not the kind to go out by myself.

Absolutely rural places? Too fond of my creature comforts.

But barring the latter, I can be quite comfortable anywhere as long as I have friends or loved ones around.

I'm in the middle - I think megacities (e.g. New York, Tokyo, even Chicago) are terrible places to live, but nice places to visit. Likewise, I enjoy visiting isolated, rural areas, but have zero desire to actually live in one. The sweet spot is a decent-sized city that has all of the amenities that I want, but also has plenty of space for parks, not too much traffic, and that is easy to get outside of either by car or bike ride. In Australia, I'd be thinking of a place like Cairns.

I'm another Australian and I'm also on the anti-city side, actually. I don't live all the way out in the country, but on the fringe of a city, and I cannot imagine living somewhere that isn't within walking distance of nature. I really value the ability to walk somewhere and just experience... silence. Or not even silence, but rather the absence of artificial sound. Take away the sounds of the human-created world and there is still sound, but wind, water, birds, the creaking of trees, it's all of a different character.

I've travelled a bit and lived in small villages for a time, and I enjoy them much more. I generally find that the extent to which I enjoy being in a settlement in another country is inversely proportional to that settlement's size. New York, London, etc., contained things I wanted to see, but the cities themselves were fundamentally unpleasant places to be. By contrast, living in a small, lightly-settled area for a time has something rejuvenating about it.

One thing I might suggest - have you ever visited a monastic community? Some monasteries, abbeys, etc., host guests, often if their religious tradition values hospitality. They're usually built in quiet places away from major population centres, and you can stay for a week in the guest room. Better yet, they're also often cut off from the internet or telecommunications, so even those distractions are removed. I find it an experience that really helps to restore me to myself, if that makes sense? For the first day or two it can be a bit difficult, but by the seventh I can feel almost a bit brokenhearted to have to go back into the world.

I'm the same in living on the outskirts of a city. I'm just done with congested inner city living. I recently lived in a secure central city apartment (through COVID) and I will never go back. I was so sick of walking out my apartment door and having to talk to people while all I wanted to do was have a walk in solitude in a natural environment. I couldn't have it. Everything from the overly polite suit wear concierge to service people, or people from all over the world talking incessantly over the din of city vehicles. I just couldn't stand it any more and moved out and will not go back.

I think city outskirts (or an hour away from a city) is probably the best of both worlds. Enough access to peace and quiet, with proximity to all the amenities you could want (at least if you were willing to make the trip).

I agree with your partner that rural places feel like they're dead and depressing. I've lived in villages, and it feels so isolating, it's awful. I like hearing people around me, even, and in fact especially because I have no interest in actually interacting with them. Then there's the other side, where instead of being isolated, people will try to be friendly even when you don't want that.

And at least in my experience, villages are not quiet. There's lots of animal sounds, especially bugs which I personally despise. And if you have a house and some land, there is always work to be done.

I live in a very small city, so it's not a good comparison to Sydney, I can take the bus and be in a big forest in 15 minutes, but I would never go live rural.

Different strokes I guess. I think the following points you’ve listed as downsides of living in a rural area are, to me, upsides:

I've lived in villages, and it feels so isolating, it's awful. I like hearing people around me, even, and in fact especially because I have no interest in actually interacting with them. Then there's the other side, where instead of being isolated, people will try to be friendly even when you don't want that.

To offer the perspective of someone else I know, my dad grew up in a village in Malaysia (that has significantly modernised since) and spent his childhood riding up and down forest trails. He remembers that period of his life as being extremely idyllic, and the nostalgia he has for it is clear.

Similarly, I enjoy being isolated, I enjoy proximity to natural spaces, and vastly prefer the “depression” of the outskirts compared to my daily experience of being shoved in with hundreds of people in a tube, packed like sardines. That’s how my morning commute is, and I always come out of the experience mildly frustrated.

When I’ve been in the outskirts I’ve always enjoyed when people have been friendly to me, or when the odd local has tried to make conversation. It’s felt welcoming without being utterly and completely overwhelming the same way the city centre has been.

And at least in my experience, villages are not quiet. There's lots of animal sounds, especially bugs which I personally despise.

To me, this is a bonus: I welcome most if not all animal sounds, including those of insects; crickets and even cicadas do not bother me. Birdsong is especially welcome. I find it much harder to ignore ambient noise in the city, which is far louder in general and much more unpleasant in terms of timbre.

I live in a very small city, so it's not a good comparison to Sydney, I can take the bus and be in a big forest in 15 minutes, but I would never go live rural.

Perhaps I should’ve been more clear as to what I mean when I say "city", which is a major urban hub. I find small cities somewhat fine as long as there are adequate outdoor recreation opportunities in close proximity to the town. But I think you’re underestimating just how much density my partner prefers - he actively enjoys going downtown, and his idea of a “depressing and isolating” place is living in a suburb of a major (and I mean major) North American city. He has some level of flexibility around this, but he does enjoy the density of urban cores quite a bit, and doesn’t enjoy when he’s too far distanced from it.

To me, this is a bonus: I welcome most if not all animal sounds

It would be nice of dogs could STFU somewhat, but otherwise I agree.

Had a second date today. She's great. I mean, great. Just objectively an obscene number of things in common, but different enough to be interesting, and the chemistry was there. Never felt this way really, although one other time was in the ballpark (...and then I moved out of state).

Unfortunately, she learned today that she's "definitely" leaving the state for work related reasons, permanently, in a month. If I had any sense, I'd've walked away when she gave me this news, early on in the date, along with the suggestion that I do so. Instead, I'm going to just ignore this fact, I guess, despite my dating goal being "a very serious relationship at a minimum" - next date Saturday. Why ignore this fact? Well:

  1. there's some reasons (omitted for anonymity) to believe it's more "probably" than "definitely"

  2. genuinely enjoying the dates

  3. market research

And it's not even a "well, let's at least get laid" kind of thing (or I'd just text my ex instead of being back on the apps...). I wouldn't be shocked if we do sleep together, but I might actually try not to, in the interest of not getting hurt more than necessary. Might, anyway.

At a minimum, I think I've just found the bar by which future secretarial interviews will be judged. At a maximum, hell, I work remotely and make rash decisions sometimes - maybe I leave the state, too. I "definitely" won't do that. Even if she stays, I think long term she leaves, but by that point it'd be not crazy to imagine following.

I do in fact realize the above is rashly strong, I really do. The saner takeaway here is that I should approach dating more seriously, more optimistically, and with higher standards - women like that do exist. But damn, if not for the atomization of society, the tendency of high achievers to move around so much; if we'd met in some small town before the internet, the outcome would, with reasonable probability, be the obvious and happy one.

I did some napkin math. With 3.5M people in my greater metro area (~1 hour driving radius), I estimate 22 potential matches (though she clears a bar more than a bit higher):

| constraint  | frequency | dating pool |
| human       |           | 3500000     |
| female      | 2         | 1750000     |
| 25-34       | 5         | 350000      |
| 99% iq      | 100       | 3500        |
| attractive  | 3         | 1167        |
| attracted   | 3         | 389         |
| politics    | 2         | 194         |
| single      | 3         | 65          |
| personality | 3         | 22          |

I can't decide if 22 is good news or not. I lean "good news" but finding 'em is a bit elusive.

I hate to tell you this, but a lot of those variables go together. The odds that a woman who is age 25-34, smart, attractive, and good personality is also single are... not high lol.

My advice is to focus less on looks

I hate to tell you this, but a lot of those variables go together. The odds that a woman who is age 25-34, smart, attractive, and good personality is also single are... not high lol.

Yeah, the single filter should probably be stronger, given the correlation you point out. But, most other places, the math has the opposite problem, so maybe it cancels out.

focus less on looks

Attractiveness is really not the thing I'm being picky on - I don't think this advice is relevant to me here. This particular woman is quite sufficiently attractive, but (to repeat myself) she could be significantly less attractive and I'd still feel this way. Even removing that filter entirely, the numbers don't shift much. If anything, IQ is the interesting point to argue over I think.

99% IQ? I know we are supposed to be kind in this particular thread. But...are you sure you're in the top 1%? What is going on with this filter setting? It is nice to have a smart partner, but I think expecting top 1% is a bit of a high bar and not worth it. Are you starting a biotech company with her or just looking for a bit of sparkling conversation on a car ride?

That being said, on an unrelated note, I did appreciate your arguments against sexual intercourse with black out drunk women and I agree that is a bad thing. Unlike a lot of people in that thread.

But...are you sure you're in the top 1%?

Top 1% is good, but it's something you see all the time.

If you imagine a typical 100 people in whatever school you went to, take a random 100, and on average, one of them is in the top 1%. That's over 3 million people in the US!

I expect a website that filters for willingness to write longform text might easily get to the point where top 1% IQ is far more commonly represented than among the general population. I'd also expect people with the username "@lagrangian" to have higher IQ.

That said, I'm slightly less willing to trust the 145 IQ, though it's still very possible. Looking it up, 0.1% of people are at 145 or higher. But I don't know how lagrangian evaluated his own, as I wouldn't trust random internet IQ tests, especially on the tails.

It's also worth keeping in mind that each unit of IQ might not be the same (whatever that means), as it's just forced into a bell curve.

99% IQ? I know we are supposed to be kind in this particular thread. But...are you sure you're in the top 1%?

Yes. I'd guess 140-145 IQ, based on various standardized tests/competitions/comparison to peers. I'd wager she's smarter. (Insert some standard disclaimers about IQ being stupid, especially out at the tails; I mean all of the above more about intelligence than IQ, let alone IQ as measured by any particular test.)

What is going on with this filter setting?

It's possible that it's a pure coincidence that the strongest connections I've felt to people, platonic or romantic, male or female, have all been to people this bright. But, I doubt it, and the causality isn't difficult to imagine. Shared life experiences and interests, and a sense that they can see more of me than "that smart guy." Somehow this all matters even when we're not talking about anything that requires being smart

That being said, on an unrelated note, I did appreciate your arguments against sexual intercourse with black out drunk women and I agree that is a bad thing. Unlike a lot of people in that thread.

Thank you, shit, that was not the proudest of themotte I've ever been. OTOH, it's nice to know I don't quite fit every stereotype here, and to have something to point to as foil to when I explain to someone "look I'm really not that conservative, it just sounds that way sometimes".

That being said, on an unrelated note, I did appreciate your arguments against sexual intercourse with black out drunk women and I agree that is a bad thing. Unlike a lot of people in that thread.

Thank you, shit, that was not the proudest of themotte I've ever been. OTOH, it's nice to know I don't quite fit every stereotype here, and to have something to point to as foil to when I explain to someone "look I'm really not that conservative, it just sounds that way sometimes".

Wait, where was that?

E.g. here, although in fairness 1) "sexual intercourse with black out drunk women" isn't quite what was being advocated for by others, and 2) I freely admit (as I did then) that my (extremely sleep deprived) prose on the subject was not super well organized. Still, yeah, shocking to me to see how the votes settled.

Wow, that's bad. Some of that's probably attributable to the thread starting with "what's rape?", meaning that some people certainly thought "that's immoral, but it's not rape, properly speaking" but yeah, that's worse than I was expecting.

Bit of a digressive tangent here.

I feel like there has kind of been IQ inflation along with grade inflation in this kind of space. I have some smart friends. One might be in that range but he needs to run a "human suit/suite" program to operate on regular human level and it is just so funny that I can't help but make references and ask how his calculations are going when he stalls out.

He did, finally, by trial and error, snag an autistic Asian wife who works at MIT and believes 100% that mermaids are real things, they have a beautiful baby girl now. Which begs the question. Wouldn't a truly genius level intelligence be able to seamlessly navigate any waters? John von Neumann being a good example.

My understanding of IQ is holistic, I'm not a believer in being good at emotions and bad at math or a great wordsmith and terrible shape rotator, or working on space lasers and believing in Merpeople. If you're smart, you're smart, if you can truly model the future quickly in your mind you should be able to handle any information thrown at you, regardless of type.

About a month after I met my husband, I got a great job offer that would have required me to move out of state. I turned it down because it had been a long time since I had met anybody I liked as much as him. A lot can happen in a month!

I don't have anything to add, but love the post and the math. Makes me think of a Fermi paradox equation for incels!

I don't have anything to add, but love the post and the math. Makes me think of a Fermi paradox equation

Ha, thanks, yeah.

for incels!

Uh, not-so-thanks? I wonder what fraction of this board is any way incels. I've had at least reasonable luck with these things over the years, and maybe I'm projecting, but wouldn't expect otherwise of most people here. We've got a lot of articulate and gainfully employed people - I picture mostly NEETs when I hear "incel."

Incel isn't really the word I was thinking of, I'd edit to "romantic relationship matching" if you hadn't already replied to the post.

Quick story of long-distance relationship success - I started dating my wife about three months before she was scheduled to move to another city. Within a month of us getting together, I had her just move in with me since she was at my apartment nearly every day anyway and could save on a couple month's rent by leaving early. She moved, then we flew back and forth for two years before I finally got a job in her new city. We still live in the new city a decade later and have happily ever after.

I'm going to be corny and say that while your math might be wrong on the specifics of the 22, if you're actually infatuated with her, it's entirely possible that you'll never meet another one like her, or that it'll take years to do so. Unless you have a history of demonstrating unusually poor judgment in relationships, I say fuck it, do everything you can to be with her. I did and it made my life immeasurably better.

I've liked your advice before, we'll see. Thanks for the anecdote. I'm surprised to find that your comment here, and the similar sentiment in a few others, has at least moved me from "obviously not happening" to "very unlikely to happen." It's not really my MO to take risk or be able to picture life being great, but maybe that's stupid in this context. Patiently always buy index funds may be a better strategy in the financial case than the romantic one...

22 is fucking terrible. Way too many filters.

  • Lower IQ filter down to >120 (80thp) as opposed to ~135(99p).
  • Attractive.. okay keep this one, but don't be a k-drama protagonist about this
  • Politics - For the most part, drop this.

Also I doubt this woman meets all these filters. I mean what are the odds right? You have rose tinted glasses on.

Lower IQ filter down to >120 (80thp) as opposed to ~135(99p).

I really don't think so. It's easy living in a bubble of smart people to forget what p80 intelligence looks like. The least smart person I've ever dated was a first grade teacher, and presumably she was at least above average, leaving not a ton of room, if any, from her to p80. I really wanted to believe it wouldn't matter, but it just did. My real preference is probably steeper than p99, and Ms. Definitely clearly is past there. I'm fairly sure she's smarter than me, and I know I'm comfortably past p99. It doesn't hurt that often, and in this case, IQ correlated with gainful employment.

Attractive.. okay keep this one, but don't be a k-drama protagonist about this

I'm really not trying to be, with my factor of 3 on that. Note that I didn't put "top 1/3" attractiveness - the intention is to filter out some at the top, filter out more at the bottom, and aim for some objective notion of at least modestly above average. She easily is, and fits a number of my specific preferences that are neutral to most people. She could be a fair amount less attractive and it wouldn't have changed my reaction.

Note also that by "attracted" (factor of 3), I meant "attracted to me" not "I'm attracted to her". I'm alright looking, but appearance certainly isn't my top selling point.

All that said, I think there may be some redundancy between these two factors, and between them and everything else. I.e. women who are smart, age appropriate, personality match etc are more likely than random women to be attractive/attracted to me.

Politics - For the most part, drop this.

I put a light factor here (2) intentionally. I don't need her to be a Mottizan, just not to hate me for having weird opinions on things from time to time. This also filters out e.g. strongly religious people.

Also I doubt this woman meets all these filters. I mean what are the odds right? You have rose tinted glasses on.

Rose tinted glasses in general, entirely possible. As to the specific factors, I think they're all there, but it's possible she misses on "attracted to me" (I don't think so, but hard to say, and these things take time especially for women sometimes), "politics" (we've gotten into it some, but not that much - the lack of it coming up is in itself actually almost enough to check this box) and "personality" (I don't think so at all, but don't know her that well just yet). There's zero doubt that she's within an hour drive, human, female, age appropriate, highly intelligent, attractive, and single.

first grade teacher

Based only on this, aren't the average elementary education majors IQ's 108 based on the old SAT data? The gap between 108 and 120 is still pretty healthy.

120 (80thp)

Am I messing up the IQ quantile conversion, or was there an error up-thread? Using a normal with mean 100, and SD 15 I get:

|  IQ   | p     |
| 140   | 0.996 |
| 135   | 0.990 |
| 120   | 0.909 |
| 112.6 | 0.800 |
| 110   | 0.748 |
| 108   | 0.703 |

So a relaxation to a requirement of 120 would only be a 10x wider filter rather than 20x.

Yeah I dun goofed, I came up with those off the top of my head.

  • Lower IQ filter down to >120 (80thp) as opposed to ~135(99p).
  • Attractive.. okay keep this one, but don't be a k-drama protagonist about this
  • Politics - For the most part, drop this.

I do wonder about these filters.

For IQ it depends on how much you value producing high IQ children. I assume it's pretty hard to estimate the distribution for outcomes, but if you were to go down to 110 like @2D3D suggests, it might be unreasonably hard to relate to both your wife and your children... I suppose if you're willing to go down the embryo selection road, but then you would also have to find a partner who would also be into that.

Attractive—where does 1 in 3 here conditional on 25-34 and high IQ place them on absolute attractiveness? I would assume given youth, iq, and contentiousness the person would be well above average in attractiveness to start with. Even if only from the correlated likely socioeconomic advantages they enjoyed growing up. I mean, how many ugly people do you see walking around the campus of say Stanford?

For politics a 1 in 2 filter would be compatible, but not necessarily exactly aligned? Given how niche the politics of someone who posts regularly on the Mott probably are, I suppose it would be hard to filter any more generously without admitting intolerable incompatibility.

Attractive—where does 1 in 3 here conditional on 25-34 and high IQ place them on absolute attractiveness? I would assume given youth, iq, and contentiousness the person would be well above average in attractiveness to start with. Even if only from the correlated likely socioeconomic advantages they enjoyed growing up. I mean, how many ugly people do you see walking around the campus of say Stanford?

That's valid. It's plausible I could weaken this filter. Some of the point of it was to remove women who are too attractive to be into me. I tend to find them paradoxically unattractive anyway: give me a t-shirt over gratuitously well put together outfits and makeup any day. The personality filter also does some of the work on that front.

I don't think I could remove it, though. Especially by my age bracket, a fair number of people are getting out of shape, and that's not ideal.

As to the specific question re: absolute attractiveness, I guess the target is 6-8, although I've always found the numbers weird. Like, is this linear? Are we measuring against only the same age, or if not, how broad a range? Do we include my specific preferences? At any rate, Ms. Definitely is great on this front, very much my cup of tea.

110 is too low? Goddamn this forum really is full of bigbrains.

I kind of assumed, based on a vague recollection of OP's claimed achievements, username (as implied major), and desire for a 135+ IQ partner that their (maybe self assessed?) IQ was at least 140. In that if it were "only" 135 it would be unreasonable to set a lower bound at 135.

At 140, the gap to 110 is 30 points, which is the same gap as 100 to 70. Or average to borderline intellectually disabled. I do think it's possible for 140 paired with 110 to work, which is why I put it as conditional on the relationship you expect with your children. Like there is a whole set of life experiences you likely will never be able to share with your children. That's sort of based off of a crude model of averaging parents IQ and assessing a 10 point regression to the mean, (140 + 110) / 2 - 10 = 115. I'd be pretty interested if someone has a less ad-hoc way of calculating this.

It can at least work in fiction though, season 6 episode 9 of House "Ignorance Is Bliss" has an IQ 178 married to an IQ 87.

I honestly would say 110 is a tolerable minimum. Super smart partners are nice to have, but what relationships are maintained on are graciousness and patience, on top of the other normal social capabilities like geniality. I specify IQ in relation to graciousness and patience because low IQ people really have little concept of delayed gratification and so will want to address any perceived slight immediately instead of stopping to let the incident stew a bit and decide whether confrontation, much less escalation, is necessary.

I am surprised that geographic distance is not a listed function here. Its easy to daydream about your ideal Croatian waifu waiting for you to sweep her off her feet, but that has little connection to reality when you're still slaving at a bulge bracket in Midtown or whatever.

See the thing is, I get real tired of hearing stupid people talk, and there's an awful (or delightful) lot of that in dating. It's great being able to talk about things in my life and know she has context on them. I hear this point about overvaluing a woman's intelligence/career frequently (e.g. here), but strenuously disagree. At some point I'd try proving myself wrong on that again, but I am not there.

I specify IQ in relation to graciousness and patience because low IQ people really have little concept of delayed gratification and so will want to address any perceived slight immediately instead of stopping to let the incident stew a bit and decide whether confrontation, much less escalation, is necessary.

Not that I know much about IQ but it’s hard to believe that character is circumscribed to this degree by intelligence. ‘Patience is a virtue that can be cultivated’ seems to hold true below the 110IQ cutoff point, even if there are retarded people who can genuinely never grasp it the best predictor of whether someone is patient (above or below that threshold) is simply whether they value patience (whether through religion, personality, experience, and so as not to disagree too much with you - reasoning).

He said 1 hour drive in his metro.

My bad, I saw 3.5m and mentally added 3 0s to reach 3.5b and went 'hmm every woman in the world. ok I respect that but damn'

If this guy filtered down to 22 from 3B, I would personally find him and slap him

Yeah, I think that'd be evidence I pulled a Peter from the lab leak debate. OTOH, 22 from my metro area makes me think my filters are somewhere between reasonable and slightly picky, especially in context of being myself somewhat of an atypical individual (but a fairly "modal Mottizan" - I can't seem to find that post...)

If it turns out that that she rates you as highly as you rate her, why not go with her?

30 year fixed rate mortgage is a helluva drug. I've also finally started making local friends in the last couple years, since buying the house, which was half the point of buying the thing: to make myself stay put.

And, she's leaving in a month. If it were even three to six, I could have enough data to not feel like a crazy person. Stranger things have happened, but I just don't see doing it.

That said, it wouldn't be the first time in recent history I failed to predict my own behavior re: moving and major life decisions, although the other time I decided to stay rather than take the much better job out of state. I suppose I'm going to not think about this possibility too hard, keep going on dates, and see if it feels even modestly less crazy closer to D[efinitely leaving]-day.

It's also not obvious if she rates me as highly as I her. Highly I think, but there's some gender asymmetry here where, especially once she moves to $EVEN_LARGER_CITY, men like me are somewhat common (albeit still not super common); women like her aren't common, anywhere (...I think, pretty strongly, but ??). The assumption that she's leaving town makes it hard to read certain things, since all I can trivially infer from her going out with me is that she like me enough to burn some time with before the move.

99% iq looks like a major bottleneck. Are you that certain you can't be happy with 90%?

How does one go about finding a "Dr. House" kind of specialist for very treatment-resistant conditions? Specifically, a psychiatrist. Money is no object.

I'm having a four-month-long episode of severe anxiety and panic as a result of getting off of an SSRI I had been on for 25 years. I was totally fine before getting off of it. Getting back on the medication has not gotten me back to my prior normal. My psychiatrist has tried many different adjunctive medications and either nothing resolves it or I get intolerable side effects. My psychiatrist today described my prognosis as, quote, "poor", on account of repeated medication failures.

My ideal vision is a team of multiple experienced psychiatrists, ideally who specialize in anxiety, who can spend a few hours reading about my case and consulting with each other about what might be going on and what might help. I just have no idea how to find such a thing. I'd also be happy to see a single psychiatrist if only I had some way of knowing whether they're especially brilliant or perhaps specialized.

Any advice - even wild speculation - about how to find the care I need would be appreciated. I'm pretty desperate.

Look up medical concierge services, find out who’s best if money is no concern. You pay them, they find the specialists.

I mean, you could always go to Scott? (Or put yourself on his waiting list)

Dr. House doesn't really exist, the equivalent in real life is something like a specialty tumor board at a premier research institution, which is a group of knowledgeable specialists "discussing" the specific approach to a known problem (and rarely trying to figure out what the problem is or arguing over what it is).

Your situation is different in that you know what the problem is, and it's a basic diagnosis, but you can't seem to get it treated. It's not unreasonable to be like "okay what's up we need more options, more heroic measures."

However, my suspicion is that you need to go back to basics.

Basically - you need therapy. Medication may not help in the way you want it to help.

This doesn't mean you should give up on medications, you can always try more/different SSRIs etc. to find something that hits for you, but at a basic level you have to keep in mind that some things are more responsive to medication than others and this includes in psychiatry.

The classic example non-psychiatric example is insomnia (well some consider this psych). We have meds. We have a lot of meds. We have really expensive meds. We have really dangerous meds you should never use but people demand anyway and have really bad outcomes. What works for insomnia? Behavioral modification and therapy. Works (maybe an exaggeration, maybe not, I'd have to review the data) orders of magnitude better than meds.

In psych - for people with certain types of depression (terminal cancer? live in an active war zone and your family all got blown up?) medications aren't going to work for a lot of people. Therapy is generally going to do more.

Back to anxiety.

Anxiety often requires higher doses of medications (sometimes to the point where the side effects outweigh the value), but best practice is essentially to have medications lighten the load enough for therapy to be useful and helpful.

You don't need a genius psychiatrist, you need an excellent therapist (can be a psychiatrist), which is not the same thing and is something you can absolutely pay for if you wish in most metro areas (and a cheap, serviceable therapist may do). It is possible that a slightly more clever psychiatrist would throw something on that would solve the problem but that should be a secondary goal.

Now I don't know what your relationship with therapy is but you might be skeptical about it and might be asking why that would suddenly be a thing you would need now later in life after medication worked for so long. Additionally, if you are posting here you are probably intelligent, high resource, and rational - and thinking because of all that therapy shouldn't be needed. Unfortunately that's not how this work.

For example: a lot of anxiety related behaviors and experiences are basically just good old Pavlov fucking with your nervous system. Don't matter if you are mucho smart, if the bell goes off you'll salivate.

I wonder if a process like that happened here - you went off the med and expected something to happen or something happened, you felt like the safety net was gone, you had experiences, they rapidly reinforced themselves now you are in an anxiety spiral..... one you'll be able to get out of with time and space maybe, but faster and more effectively with some skills training, CBT, whatever - all with medication as a supportive factor. The meds are often a crutch, and therapy skills can be more definitive treatment (one of the reasons why you may want to avoid meds for anxiety).

Keep in mind that other conditions often work very differently.

It may also be reasonable to see your PCP to rule out any medical problems (not that they are likely) and assuage any health anxiety.

I'm not sure how to get a group of specialists, but as a backup, go on Reddit or Twitter some other forum and post a bounty for whomever gives you the best advice.

My wife is getting fat. She’s not obese or anything, maybe barely overweight, idk. But she’s very clearly growing in her upper pelvis to a degree that’s very obvious if you’re married to her, and still obvious if she’s wearing tight waist-high pants while seated. She looks pregnant in certain clothing, and she’s buying new clothes at an increasing pace to replace her old clothes.

No, she is in fact very beautiful and very fashionable. But I’m worried that I’m not seeing her do anything about it. Her weight gain has been real and obvious over the last year, and I’ve been able to maintain my weight within a 5-lb. range in the same time thanks to my strange eating habits (I often tell her you should adopt normal American eating patterns when you want to look like a normal American. I haven’t convinced her yet.)

She hasn’t gotten to the “I should do something about this,” phase yet—she’s coping somehow. The bigger boobs are helping her do that. She is upset she doesn’t fit into old cute pants and dresses, but she simply jokes about getting fat and is fine because, for now, her clothes mostly still hide the weight gain.

Here’s where I come in. I am absolutely not going to sit down with my wife and tell her that she’s gaining too much weight and should slim down for my sexual gratification. I gently broached weight loss once, when she brought it up, and it didn’t go well. Now I just nod my head or otherwise remain silent when it comes up.

Observations: Couples get fat together. There is never one obese one and one skinny one. Couples get hot together. If a guy is ripped, his partner at least looks like she knows when to put the fork down.

Strategy: All I want is for my wife to have a flatter belly. Flat bellies are hot. My girl’s got hips for days—they drive me crazy, and I want them to shine without her waist getting in the way. This shouldn’t be an impossibly hard problem to solve given the realities of CICO. The mechanism? I think I need to get ripped. Right now I am solidly skinnyfat. Most of my clothes from 5+ years ago still fit comfortably, I’ve been able to avoid growing or even threatening to grow a gut, but my chest is very small and my waist is 1-2 inches bigger than it was when were were newly-weds. I must fix these things. Maybe not get jacked out of my mind, but I need to be toned and lean and look fantastic naked. To silently encourage my wife to achieve the female ideal of “be slim,” I must reach for the much higher male ideal of, “Fully develop every muscle group.”

That’s my plan for this summer I think. (If I fail you’ll never hear about this project again.) I do not want to be a gym rat or get humongous. I just want as much progress as you can possibly get with a pull-up bar and regular time set aside for a serious workout.

What could go wrong? Worst case, my wife has a hotter husband. Am I being mind-blowingly vain? Women, would you be incredibly hurt if you found your husband writing these things about you? If your husband started working out and getting hot out of nowhere, would you feel compelled to act?

What are your own experiences?

Have you tried reframing your conversations about this topic? Instead of saying focusing on her weight gain, how about taking a health angle? If your wife (and maybe you too) have unhealthy eating habits like eating too much processed foods/takeout, you could say that you're worried for your (collective) health and want to eat healthier. That way you'd be both addressing the problem of her gaining weight, but also involve yourself so that she doesn't feel she's getting attacked by you.

I'm going to give you advice from a woman's perspective and from the perspective who's been paying attention to the latest in nutrition.

Diet will have more affect on weight gain than exercise, especially as you both age. To stop gaining weight, decrease mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fat. Dairy, coconut, palm kernal oil, and tallow are good fats. Everything else is on thin ground.

To lose weight, cut protein down to around 50g/day. This is a temporary measure, but it will rev up the metabolism quite nicely.

One thing to check before all else - is your wife pregnant? Have you really ruled it out? Are you sure? Ok then, read on!

How to get your wife to join in: Tell her you are interested in contributing to Science! (TM) You are getting really interested in SMTM's Potato studies, and you would like to help provide more data on what the effect would be on someone in the healthy weight range. This would involve eating only butter and potatoes for a month straight, but most people who try it like it.

Just one problem - There's no way you'd be able to do this if you have someone eating normal meals in the house. The fridge space of preparing two meals, the mental effort to avoid eating other food, it's too much. Would she be able to try it with you? It doesn't have to be for the whole time, just long enough to get in the groove. Would she like to weigh herself with you every day so she can be a trial participant as well?

I don't think this is a good representation of the "latest" in nutrition.

Meta-analysis indicates that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated or even carbs results in weight loss.

Protein restriction does not "rev up the metabolism" and is bad for maintaining lean mass.

How much protein do you need?

Isoleucine and valine are specifically the Amino Acids that are problematic, but really to avoid them you need to avoid protein.

The difficulty with meta-studies on saturated fat vs unsaturated fat is that studies use lard or chicken fat as their example of saturated fat, when in reality those two fats are highly unsaturated. This leads to farces like "Learning and Memory Impairment in Rats Fed a High Saturated Fat Diet" They analyze the fatty acid composition of their lard and it is only 30% saturated. Despite this, the study uses lard as their Saturated fat intervention.

Specific to Hooper et al. (2020) that your linked article uses for it's argument, I am looking at their studies and am having trouble finding which showed a benefit from substituting polyunsaturated fat with saturated fats. At the most, I see some that show benefits from reducing fat entirely, which I would agree with. Reducing all fat will reduce the amount of total linoleic acid and a High Carb, low fat diet would be good from my understanding. (Low fat means < 15% calories from fat, most low fat studies have 30% of calories from fat, which is practically the normal amount of fat intake in a SAD, but that's another story.)

Hooper's results don't seem really indicative of anything. Your link extols the results of this figure, but outside the couple tails where they got the Saturated fat intake really low, there doesn't seem to be a clear correlation between increasing Sat Fat and disease. Under 9% of Sat fat only has data on a few risk events, which makes me think that there are only a handful of studies with that amount of sat fat. I'm trying to figure out if this data point reflects the studies that went with High carb, low fat.

However, the figure in question still shows that when dietary saturated fat reaches >12% of calories, markers improve! Risk of Stroke goes way down. CVD goes down.

Weight isn't studied in the Meta-analysis at all.

This leads to farces like "Learning and Memory Impairment in Rats Fed a High Saturated Fat Diet" They analyze the fatty acid composition of their lard and it is only 30% saturated. Despite this, the study uses lard as their Saturated fat intervention.

You can hardly hold this random rat study against me.

I encourage you to check the studies in the meta and see that this is not going on.

Specific to Hooper et al. (2020) that your linked article uses for it's argument, I am looking at their studies and am having trouble finding which showed a benefit from substituting polyunsaturated fat with saturated fats.

Review says:

Eleven RCTs (11 comparisons) assessed SFA intake during the study period and showed that SFA intake in the intervention arm was statistically significantly lower than that in the control arm (Black 1994; DART 1989; Ley 2004; Moy 2001; Oxford Retinopathy 1978; Simon 1997; STARS 1992; Sydney Diet‐Heart 1978; Veterans Admin 1969; WHI 2006; WINS 2006).


There was a 21% reduction in cardiovascular events in people who had reduced SFA compared with those on higher SFA (RR 0.79, 95% CI 0.66 to 0.93, I² = 65%, 11 RCTs, 53,300 participants, 4476 people with cardiovascular events, Peffect = 0.006, Analysis 1.35). This protective effect was confirmed in sensitivity analyses including only trials at low summary risk of bias (Analysis 1.36), that aimed to reduce saturated fat (Analysis 1.37), that significantly reduced saturated fat intake (Analysis 1.38), that achieved a reduction in total or LDL cholesterol (Analysis 1.39), or excluding the largest trial (WHI 2006, Analysis 1.40).

Table 4 additionally shows that reducing total fat has no impact on cardiovascular events.

However, the figure in question still shows that when dietary saturated fat reaches >12% of calories, markers improve! Risk of Stroke goes way down. CVD goes down.

It would be a big surprise indeed if a moderate amount of saturated fat is bad, but a small or large amount is good. The relationship is most likely to be linear.

Weight isn't studied in the Meta-analysis at all.

It was, of course.

There was evidence that reducing SFA intake resulted in small reductions in body weight (MD ‐1.97 kg, 95% CI ‐3.67 to ‐0.27, I² = 72%, 6 RCTs, 4541 participants, Analysis 4.3), and body mass index (MD ‐0.50, 95% CI ‐0.82 to ‐0.19, I² = 55%, 6 RCTs, 5553 participants, Analysis 4.4).

How much protein do you need?

This appears to be a study on untrained men? I agree that if you're okay with the average untrained physique, 44g is enough (and also not that far from the recommendation of 54g for a 150lb person).

Isoleucine and valine are specifically the Amino Acids that are problematic, but really to avoid them you need to avoid protein.

Most of these are mouse studies, so let's look at the first one.

The restricted protein group in this study was eating protein at the RDA of 0.8 g/kg, which again is fine for people without aspirations to build muscle (which doesn't apply to OP).

The study doesn't seem to report if the change in weight loss between PR and CR is significant or not. However, looking at figure 1, id suspect not, especially when removing the 300 pound guy in the PR group.

As far as metabolism goes, figure 2 shows that the CR had a much lower metabolic rate at baseline vs the PR group, so the randomization seems to have failed. The PR group's variance is way bigger too, perhaps due to the aforementioned outliers.

Here's a more sophisticated metabolic ward study with three isocaloric overfeeding diets with varying protein content. They're using dexa scans, CO2 respiration rate, and doubly labeled water to measure body comp, resting energy expenditure and total energy expenditure, which are gold standard methods.

Overeating led to a significant increase in resting energy expenditure in both the normal and high protein groups. This increase occurred mainly in the first 2 to 4 weeks and the slopes of the regression lines were not significantly different from each other (Figure 4). In contrast, resting energy expenditure in the low protein group did not change significantly with overfeeding, and the slope of the regression line was not different from 0, but was significantly less than the other 2 groups (P < .001; Figure 4).

The metabolic efficiency of weight gain (defined as the excess energy intake divided by weight gain5) was significantly higher in the low protein group (75.1 MJ/kg [95% CI, 54.1-96.0 MJ/kg]) than in the high protein group (38.0 MJ/kg [95% CI, 18.6-60.5 MJ/kg]; P = .04).

Lean body mass decreased during the overeating period by −0.70 kg (95% CI, −1.50 to 0.10 kg) in the low protein diet group compared with a gain of 2.87 kg (95% CI, 2.11 to 3.62 kg) in the normal protein diet group and 3.18 kg (95% CI, 2.37 to 3.98 kg) in the high protein diet group (P < .001).

Overall, higher protein intake is more favorable for body composition (holding calories equal), and increased metabolism more than lower protein intake.

Are we looking at the same Hooper study? It's funny how we can both look at it and zoom on different things:

We found little or no effect of reducing saturated fat on all‐cause mortality (RR 0.96; 95% CI 0.90 to 1.03; 11 trials, 55,858 participants) or cardiovascular mortality (RR 0.95; 95% CI 0.80 to 1.12, 10 trials, 53,421 participants), both with GRADE moderate‐quality evidence.


There was little or no effect of reducing saturated fats on non‐fatal myocardial infarction (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.87 to 1.07) or CHD mortality (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.16, both low‐quality evidence), but effects on total (fatal or non‐fatal) myocardial infarction, stroke and CHD events (fatal or non‐fatal) were all unclear as the evidence was of very low quality. There was little or no effect on cancer mortality, cancer diagnoses, diabetes diagnosis, HDL cholesterol, serum triglycerides or blood pressure, and small reductions in weight, serum total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and BMI. There was no evidence of harmful effects of reducing saturated fat intakes.

I looked through a few of the studies they reviewed but most don't really demonstrate a low PUFA/high Sat Fat diet anywhere.

The Black Study reduced fat entirely (not substituting PUFA for Sat fat) and found that keeping fat under 20% of calories helped reduce skin cancer.

The DART Study advised men to increase ratio of PUFA to SFA, but: "The advice on fat was not associated with any difference in mortality." Men who were advised to eat fatty fish did better, but I'm open to the idea that it's the O3:O6 ratio that matters, meaning increasing O3 might be beneficial to people (especially in the context of a high O6 diet).

Then we get to the Houtsmuller study, which look like it's going to actually address the PUFA thesis. Two groups of people fed a controlled diet, one diet has 4x as much Linoleic acid as the other. Sounds good. He doesn't give a lot of details about what is in each diets how he assessed the Linoleic acid quantity in the study. But let's take him for his word. There are a couple details that stand out to me:

First is, "The linolcic acid content of diet II was 4 times that of diet I, being 20.4 gr/1000 kcal for group II and 5.3 gr/1000 Kcal for group I."

According to the PUFA hypothesis, it's more like a cliff than a gradient. Humans naturally eat around 4-5 gr a day of PUFA without seed-oil or mono-gastric animal sources. This study has the Sat Fat group get twice that.

The other detail is they mention one of the sources of Sat Fat, "except for 4 patients of group I who preferred butter over saturated margarines." The Sat Fat group's intervention included getting fed partially-hydrogenated margarine. Which means lots of transfats. The negative effect this study found can possibly be explained by the amount of transfats in the Sat Fat arm of the study.

I'll admit I didn't check every study, but the ones I checked aren't really applicable to anything I'm concerned about. The only one I saw that clearly substituted Linoleic Acid for actual Sat Fat was the Sydney Study, which showed that substituting Margarine for Butter actually increased risk of Cardiovascular disease.

That said, the Sydney study Margarine probably had transfats. I'm not going to state that the Sydney study proves Sat Fat is the best, but it does support my primary point, which is that nutritional studies on fats are Terrible, do not account for common confounders, and a meta-analysis of a bunch of terrible studies does not make for good data.

which again is fine for people without aspirations to build muscle (which doesn't apply to OP).

I'm talking about OP's wife. OP seems to want his wife to become slimmer, not a body builder. I'm indicating that to lose weight might require cutting protein down to the bare minimum (around 50g), something that is left out of a lot of advice. Losing lean mass when losing weight can actually be quite good, as you don't want a lot of extra skin hanging around.

Yeah, the meta shows no effect on all cause mortality - but that's not the question we're discussing. I only brought it up since you responded to the graph of mortality outcomes rather than weight outcomes.

To stop gaining weight, decrease mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fat.

In fact, the meta shows that substituting unsaturated for saturated fats reduces weight and there's no association If the studies were actually controlled metabolic ward studies, they'd probably show no effect with isocaloric diets.

According to the PUFA hypothesis, it's more like a cliff than a gradient. Humans naturally eat around 4-5 gr a day of PUFA without seed-oil or mono-gastric animal sources. This study has the Sat Fat group get twice that.

This seems like an extremely specific and unusual claim, perhaps a result of undeniable studies chipping away at the upper limits of what people can defend. We definitely shouldn't privilege weird rat studies over human ones to defend this claim. Linear relationships should be the default assumption.

Losing lean mass when losing weight can actually be quite good, as you don't want a lot of extra skin hanging around.

The lean mass lost is not skin, it's internal organs, muscle mass, water weight, etc. The amount of skin remaining after weight loss does not depend on the diet.

If you could wave a magic wand that would make you attracted to your wife regardless of her weight, would you? You could still be concerned about the health side of things, just the attractiveness wouldn't be an issue.

It's important to the hypothetical to know that the magic wand has a resale value of $3500 and you can sell it whether you use it or not.

Edit: also don't do any hint dropping. Don't be direct either. The most you can do is go on walks with her and organize healthy meals. But there has to be plausible deniability. Not just plausible deniability, probable deniability.

Women don't like to be told! Chapter 87 of HPMOR, Harry and Hermione.

Ozempic. If you can afford it. Nothing easier and simpler, or trendier.

There's nothing wrong with wanting your wife/husband to take care of themselves. Like, sure, being eye candy and a good lay aren't everything in a marriage, but goddamn if someone's letting themselves go, there are polite ways of telling them it's not making you happier.

Getting buff yourself? Not the ideal way, IMO. Sure, that's worth it for its own sake, but you're better off whispering to her that you think you're gaining weight and need to diet, and hoping she takes the hint. But I while I don't know her, or you, my experience is that when a woman self-conscious about her own looks sees her husband working his ass off at the gym all of a sudden, she's more likely to think he's trying to look better so leaving her is easier. Ignore if you guys are so happily married that this isn't a concern, but I would not recommend this route myself, unless you make it a point of hitting the gym and then do your level best to convince her to tag along, so she knows it's not like that.

Ozempic. If you can afford it. Nothing easier and simpler, or trendier.

So, what's the deal with Ozempic? My doctor suggested that it might be worth thinking about at some point because I'm diabetic, and the nice side effect is it would help me lose weight. But the thing I struggle with is that... well, food is delicious. Is the drug really going to help lower my desire to eat tasty things?

Yes. Yes it will.

It won't make food taste worse. But it will reduce your craving for it and make you feel full earlier.

It just seems too good to be true, haha. I also feel like it's a moral failing if I have to resort to drugs to solve my willpower issues... but maybe I'm just being irrational and I should look at it as "this will significantly improve my health if it works".

I'm all for better living through medicine. Or medication.

And to the best of my knowledge, Ozempic is true, or I wouldn't go to such immense pains to start my mom on it.

That's how it's supposed to work, though I heard somewhere that chronic nausea is a common side effect (yay, even more weight loss!).

I don't think it's unfair to want your wife to stay reasonably slim if you are also making effort to stay reasonably slim. If there is some genuine medical reason for her being unable to maintain her weight (eg hormonal/depression) then that should be addressed first.

The mechanism? I think I need to get ripped.

Not a bad plan, but consider getting into proper weightlifting. 3 x 30-45 minute sessions per week can do wonders without needing to radically change your diet.

No offense meant, but it sounds like something is going on with her if she's gaining weight but doesn't want to talk about it. You should be able to talk about it, even if the conclusion you reach together is that she likes food more than being thin. That might be all that it is (and there is definitely a lot of shame in our society around excessive weight gain), but she might also be communicating some other difficulty. It's worth asking if there's been any emotional trouble recently, whether from family or work.

I don't think there's much to be gained in trying to psyop her this way. Of course, having a better body is it's own reward, but it might shift the dynamic in other ways. She might feel ashamed or insecure, and those feelings might cause resentment. That's the worst case scenario. I think it's unlikely that she'll be inspired to join in.

I do not want to be a gym rat or get humongous.

Don't worry about this, you don't accidentally get humongous.

The low risk move is to say you're worried that neither of you is getting enough exercise and push to go to some Pilates classes together to live a healthier lifestyle.

I said that so I wouldn't get powerlifting advice, not because I thought I would accidentally become a bodybuilder.

Right, but the reason you don't want powerlifting advice is... Because you don't want to be humongous. Which is totally fair, but if you eat like a normal person and lift weights, you'll just look "toned".

Regardless, it's entirely possible to effect great changes in your physique just through calisthenics. I know some people who do calisthenics with incredibly impressive physiques.

Hyperpalatable cheap food means staying fit often requires active decision.

There are people to stay fit to be hot to the opposite sex, and there are people who do it to stunt on them hoes (ie primarily for status among the same sex).

Generally people in the former category are much more likely to get fat after marriage, because they’ve got their person. Of course some people think that staying hot for your partner is an important part of marriage, but that’s not a universal position. While some people are more vain than others, our vanity tends to vary across a lifetime and often declines with age.

By contrast, someone whose primary objective in staying fit is status within largely same-sex platonic communities and relationships (your gym bros, your group of girlfriends) is more likely to stay fit. The people with the best bodies at 50 usually aren’t doing it to get laid.

Middle aged women who take the best care of themselves are typically more status-conscious in my opinion. Your wife is probably more likely to lose weight for status with other women for her own reasons than she is for you.

Women are generally fearful of men’s vanity, and as ever that fear can lead to resentment. I stay skinny because I like the way people treat me better when I am. I don’t know if there’s a way to make someone more self-conscious, care more about what others think.

Unfortunately I think she's not likely to pick up on your message and if she does it might just annoy her. And it might make you resentful if you're doing all this work and she's not getting the message and keeps putting on weight. As tough as it will be I think the only thing that has a chance of working is if you find some way to make your feelings clear to her. Maybe suggest couples counseling? Many women put a lot of stock in therapists so bringing it up in a quasi medical setting might take the sting out.

That said it can never hurt to look good.

I feel doubtful about this strategy, though of course it depends on specifics.

My husband is both taller and more hyper than me. Sometimes, he would cook a pound of bacon, and suggest that he should eat it all himself, since it doesn't really affect his weight. I was not happy about that, and did in fact eat the bacon. If he were to suddenly start doing a bunch of pull ups, then making extra food for himself, I don't think the aesthetics of a better looking chest would make up for the annoyance of eating meals together with him consuming twice as much food as me.

You might get farther by taking over dinner more and cooking things that are hard to overeat. I lost a decent amount of weight before by just living with people who would eat beans or lentils for dinner instead or burgers or piles of pasta. Inconveniently, my husband lost too much weight doing that, and making two different meals is annoying enough that I've mostly given up on it. Or taking up an outdoor hobby together that involves fairly basic packed foods.

The way we solve this is that we just schedule different snacks. My wife and I have the same meals, with calories planned so that they make sense for her, and then I have more significant and more calorie-dense snacks to fill out my requirements. I work from home, and she goes in about half the time, so I may even just have basically a "fourth meal"; e.g., if the plan for lunch is just a 200-300 calorie soup or salad, I'll just eat that at like 10:30 and then make myself another quick meal around 1-2.

She helps in this by making sure that I have plenty of prepared snacks available. She'll make tasty and protein-full snacks like chicken bites with various seasonings that are easy and don't lend themselves to overeating, like potato chips.

If you like food (and I do) it is easy to get resentful of someone eating 50% more than you for every meal. It doesn’t make sense but I know how you feel. I do reframe it as just an unfortunate reality, if I happened to be ultra short like 4’10 or something I wouldn’t accept getting fat just because I wanted to eat the same 2,000 calories a day as much taller people.

Another thing that helps is intermittent fasting, I’ve partially stopped eating lunch and eat no breakfast, so I can eat a large dinner and it’s chill from a caloric perspective.

I used to do intermittent fasting and part time veganism for Orthodox fasts, and generally liked it. Their feasts are more fun after fasting as well. At some point when I'm not pregnant/with small children, I'd like to get back into it.

To silently encourage my wife to achieve the female ideal of “be slim,” I must reach for the much higher male ideal of, “Fully develop every muscle group.”

Of note on this front - the equivalent isn't actually fully developing every muscle group, it's just developing biceps, triceps, pectoral muscles, and lats. Sure, the ideal is higher than that, but the equivalent to "be slim" isn't being a Greek statue, it's just being lean and lifting enough to have noticeable upper body definition.

Am I being mind-blowingly vain?

Absolutely not. Maintaining your body and expecting the same from your wife is perfectly reasonable, particularly if you entered your relationship with that as a shared understanding and it's just degraded over time. I genuinely don't know how I would handle it if my wife just decided to let herself go. I would be thoroughly annoyed and looking for solutions - I think it's great that your starting point is focusing on what you can do directly.

biceps, triceps, pectoral muscles, and lats.

You really just gonna skip delts like that, damn.

Thinking about it, I don't know if I've ever looked in a mirror and thought I wanted bigger pecs. But I've definitely wanted bigger shoulders. A guy could go quite a ways with just supine-grip chins (on a fat bar, for forearms) and ohp variants.

I like this idea because you actually do see a lot of scrawny guy-fat chick couples (every meme about "polycules" features them), but rarely muscular guy-fat chick.

But imo the most important thing for women is having a friend group of healthy women. The deep fried crab bucket effect is real, and a circle of fat friends will actively undermine a woman trying to stay fit.

muscular guy-fat chick

Idk I think you do see this at least sometimes. A larger proportion of black couples are like this, but some white and Hispanic ones are too.

I wouldn't put too much stake on 'the realities of CICO'. No matter how much the public hears 'calories in, calories out' the obesity epidemic continues unabated. If it was as simple as choosing to eat less, we'd see far fewer fat people than we do. Nobody wants to be fat.

Maybe your wife will be able to reverse her expanding waistline, but if she does, it might be because she's started taking ozempic rather than through sheer force of will. Hoping that the latter will work has a good chance of disappointing both of you.

If it was as simple as choosing to eat less, we'd see far fewer fat people than we do. Nobody wants to be fat.

As @Walterodim said, you're confusing "simple" with "easy". Eating less to lose weight is indeed very simple, but it's not at all easy.

Does it matter whether you use "easy" or "simple"? The question in my eyes is: "Is it probable"? And statistically speaking, CICO is not likely to result in success.

statistically speaking, CICO is not likely to result in success.

This is basically useless evidence. Statistically speaking, most people don't get jacked. It doesn't mean that weightlifting doesn't build muscle. It's a pretty "simple" biophysical phenomenon, but it's not particularly "easy" to dedicate time and effort to doing it.

Moreover, we have good evidence for why CICO is not likely to result in success, because we can see a stark difference between studies of in-patients, where the researchers have complete control and ability to strictly account for calories consumed, and self-report studies, where they don't. The conclusion is that it's unquestionable that CICO absolutely completely works; it's that people do all sorts of shit to convince themselves of little lies here and there rather than wholeheartedly embrace truth and reality and take agency for their choices.

Two examples I've talked about here are my wife and a friend of ours. When I convinced my wife to just count the calories and see what the deal is, she still mentally rebelled against it. She would see the line tracking her weight (weekly average) not always dropping immediately, and be all, "MAYBE IT'S NOT WORKING ANYMORE!" I had to say, "Shut up and just keep doing it," more times than I can remember, and sure enough, it always kept going down. I don't know how many times it took for her to mentally "get it". At some point, she was like, "Yeah, I 'knew' that it worked like this, but I didn't 'know know'." Because society has been lying to her for decades.

Our friend literally went to her doctor and basically begged for advice on how to plan diet/exercise, but doctors hate to tell people to diet/exercise, because they know that most people have been lied to for decades and simply won't believe it enough to do it, so what did her doctor say to help her? "Ya know, you're just getting older." Even the fucking doctors contribute to the constant lying that people experience. It's no wonder that the statistics are what the statistics are, even if it works 100% of the time when you do it.

WaPo just had an article a couple weeks ago detailing one of the industries that are literally dedicated to lying to people about how the world works. These are the bootleggers. The baptists are the lying gyms and diet people who say shit on big signs like, "LOSE 30LBS IN 20 DAYS!" Everyone is constantly lying to people, and we shouldn't be surprised that, statistically, people get confused by those lies rather than doing the simple, but not easy, things that are necessary to lose weight.

And statistically speaking, CICO is not likely to result in success.

I don't know that this is a conclusion we can draw based on our observation that most overweight people in the west have failed at losing weight, though. First of all, because even though CICO is widely known, there's still also an incredible amount of other misinformation about stuff like "healthy foods" and various diets. There's also the fact that many people receive this very type of message along the lines of "CICO is trivially true from a physics standpoint, but the hard part is actually keeping to it due to self control and hunger" and as such, when they do diet, they pursue strategies for tricking themselves through other diets instead of literally just counting calories in and calories out.

All this means that the overall population of "overweight people who try to lose weight" does not necessarily look like the population of "overweight people who try to follow a CICO protocol for weight loss." I'd actually wager that overweight people who follow a CICO diet strategy while having a genuine belief in CICO and their ability to succeed by using it have higher success rates than overweight people who follow the strategy while being terrified by the prospect of failure due to their inability to control themselves in the face of hunger pangs. And as such, spreading the message that CICO is trivially true but ineffective actually harms people's ability to lose weight.

In any case, this particular comment was about manipulating the commenter's wife to following CICO via mechanisms other than just telling her CICO (i.e. the commenter getting ripped). This seems likely to fail for plenty of reasons, but those are different issues to whether or not [following as a diet strategy] CICO is likely to result in success.

That's fine, but that's not the implicit claim that was being made. The implicit claim was not "CICO isn't likely to work", it was "CICO is not simple". As such, the distinction between simple and easy is relevant.

If it was as simple as choosing to eat less, we'd see far fewer fat people than we do.

Lots of things are both simple and psychologically difficult. There really isn't any good reason for a couple making six figures to be broke, they literally just need to elect to spend less than they make, and presto, they won't be broke. And yet! Really though, for any individual, it actually is that simple and straightforward if they're capable of recognizing their own impulses and acting to break the autopilot actions that are causing them to be broke and fat.

I think that (monogamous) couples have an obligation to maintain their attractiveness, within reason***. When you entered the relationship, you gave up the ability to have sex with anyone else on the pretense that that you will get your sexual satisfaction from your partner, and part of that satisfaction comes from their physical attractiveness. If they choose to erode their attractiveness, they are hurting you and violating their relationship obligations. IMO, like sexual fidelity, this should be made explicit at the start of relationships, but should otherwise be considered implicit unless the obligation is explicitly waved,

***"Within reason" = within the ordinary bounds of aging, illness, and unexpected events. Obviously people are not going to be as hot at 50 as at 25, and obviously we can't completely control the course of our aging.

Which is to say that I think you should consider yourself in the moral right here. You have a moral right to be dismayed by your wife's fading attractiveness. This doesn't make your wife a horrible person or anything, but you shouldn't feel bad for wanting to nudge her back in your preferred direction.

I think that this is a tough one. On the one hand, one should love their spouse without regard to physical appearance. But on the other hand, there reaches a point where you just don't find your spouse attractive any more, even if you still love them. And that's not good. These two things are obviously in tension, and it's really hard to say what the right balance is.

I don't think that there's a good answer for you here as far as the situation with your wife goes. I think you have seen already that the impetus for change must come from within her if it's going to work. So you're kind of stuck waiting for her to realize "hey I need to change". Right now it sounds like she's ok with the situation, or at least dislikes the idea of changing her lifestyle more. The problem is that everyone has a different trigger that causes them to change their mind, and it's hard to know in advance what hers will be.

If you do decide to hit the gym, I would focus on doing it for your sake rather than to inspire your wife. You might inspire her, it definitely happens! But I think that if you start working out with the explicit goal to inspire your wife to do better, she might pick up on that and resist it. Plus, you might start to feel resentful if you put in the work to get ripped and she doesn't care to join you. So I would say that you should focus on doing fitness for your own sake, and if your wife decides to join you that's a nice bonus.

On the one hand, one should love their spouse without regard to physical appearance.

I have trouble with this sentiment, not because I disagree with it across all parameters, but because someone's physical appearance reflects real elements of someone's personality and character, it's not just something completely exogenous to who you love. The woman I love is fit, she was fit when I met her, she got more fit during our time together, and we like doing physical things together. Her fitness is reflected in her appearance - she's toned, slender, tanned deeply in the summers, carries herself with the posture of an athletic woman, and so on. You can see this at a glance, the same way that you can see that someone is sedentary from their chubbiness, lack of musculature, slumping posture, and uncoordinated gait.

Contrary to the saying, there's a lot you can tell about a book from its cover.

Sure. But on the other hand that's not always the case. Sometimes people get disfigured in an accident, and I think most would agree it's immoral to leave your wife because she's not attractive any more after a tragic accident. And of course, we all get old and ugly in the end (or die young I suppose), and your relationship needs to be able to withstand that inevitable change. I think that age in particular makes it worth emphasizing the idea that you should love your spouse regardless of what they look like.

Sure, those stipulations make sense, but they don't lead to agreeing with the statement that "one should love their spouse without regard to physical appearance"; evaluating what caused that degradation of appearance is showing regard for their physical appearance. Ailments and disfigurement are tragic and it is obviously the morally correct thing to maintain your love for your partner through them. Aging is not only acceptable, but something that we should do our best to look on with some degree of dignity and appreciation. Neither of these is similar to having a spouse that just decides to stop dressing nicely, stop eating reasonably, or otherwise shows disregard for their own appearance.

Thinking over the examples you provided and the ones I provided, it seems like the key distinction is the underlying cause. In the case of gaining weight it seems like what is a problem is not the physical appearance per se, but rather the fact that your spouse isn't taking care of him/herself any more. In that light it seems fair to say physical appearance isn't important except insofar as it is the symptom of a problem one considers to be a character flaw. What do you think?

I think that's the majority of it, yeah. Falling out of love with someone because they've lost some physical luster is something that has been known to happen but should be vigorously resisted. Falling out of love with someone who has changed their behavior and character is a much deeper challenge.

It would be a tragic irony if I try to induce internal motivation in my wife if I had none for myself.

Thanks for the warning.

Couples get fat together. There is never one obese one and one skinny one.

I’m surprised at this assertion, as I personally know several mismatched pairings, and I’ve witnessed quite a few more. I know a few fat man/skinny woman couples, but, perhaps unfortunately for you, I see far more fit man/fat woman couples.

This is bad news.

Hmm you’re right that men get away with rounding out in a way that keeps them still within socially accepted bounds even if their wives are thin.

I guess I see some men with fat women, but in my experience these men are still kinda husky, even if they manage to keep anything from draping over or being tucked behind their belts. Otherwise I can’t say I can think of real-life examples of what you describe.

Either way, hopefully being indisputably in shape can partly counteract any effects that cause natural mismatches.

I'm in my early thirties, dad of a 2 year old, and I want to start really shifting my habits to establish a real enduring sense of contentment, happiness, health, agency and the like to define the rest of my thirties. What physical and mental activities are worth pursuing, what to purchase or do to pursue those things against an NYC upper-middle class budget? I'd like to explore outside of the baseline of diet and exercise as those are no-brainers.

I've spent some time over the past couple months getting back into meditation (after fizzling out with TMI-based meditation, which I think is honestly poor instruction for westerners in retrospect), particularly into the development of the brahmaviharas (this lesswrong post really convinced me of the power of these efforts:

  • Loving kindness
  • Compassion
  • Empathetic joy
  • Equanimity

I've been doing a couple meditations a day, one walking and one formal sit, alongside some more casual attempts at cultivation of brahmavihara cofactors. I just sort of say the phrases internally with some kind of intention, and I've coalesced around something like:

  • May I be truly happy and peaceful.
  • May I embrace myself and others with acceptance and care.
  • May I rejoice in the joys and beautiful qualities of all beings.
  • May I meet life's challenges with grace and equanimity.

... these have been generally good, though I'm setting a very light intention when internally saying the phrases, as overefforting was a big problem in the past. I do not concern myself with whether any feelings arise, sometimes they do and sometimes they don't.

I'm looking to really pile onto this and my exercise habits with a bunch else to make my life fuller, richer, more mystical, to make time move slower, to increase my perceptive skills patience and kindness, and prevent health issues from developing as best as I can.

I realize I'm being a bit vague here, and that's partially on purpose: I want to discover what I can do for myself to make life better if I'm willing to put in time and money and effort to do so.

I believe they call these questions the human condition. If you find an answer, please let the rest of us know.

This is from my personal bias but creating time to escape to nature would be something I would mention.

Meditation working for you is great. My equivalent has been hearing utter silence but for the growing rush of wind through trees.

Trekking to isolated campsites is difficult from Manhattan though, I understand. I'd say stay up late on a rooftop every once in a while but maybe that's not even peaceful for ya!

My suggestion: More friends.

We are social creatures, and a kid/wife isn't a substitute for a healthy social life.

When I was a teenager I found a community of fanfic writers who I adored. They had their own shared canon and one of them was a Powerhouse of writing. Spitting out chapters longer than some books, filled with classical and pop-culture references, philosophical musings, good-vs-evil clashes, tense heroism, etc.

I would check their bio pages every day. Eventually they got a forum and I lurked there too. I watched them talk amongst each other and I wanted so badly to be their friend. A couple of problems:

They were clearly adults, and I very much was not. My parents forbade me from reading fanfiction. Obviously I ignored this directive, but I wasn't able to make an account because my parents also managed my email address.

But it would not be an exaggeration to state that this group of fanfic writers had a strong impact on my outlook today. These fanfics formed me the same way the Aeneid formed generations before me.

And more than that, I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to be their friend so badly. They were the coolest people ever.

By the time I was an adult and could sign up for an account, they had slowed down publishing. I re-read the corpus of work, commented on chapters, joined the forum, but I was an interloper, an outsider. I never could explain to them just how much they meant to me. I tried not to be weird, but I think I was probably very weird from their perspective.

Around the time I created an account, fewer chapters were published. Eventually it was all gone. No more posts on the forum, no more chapters published. They all knew each other outside the forum. Maybe they moved to discord.

Ten years later, I still have dreams where I find them, they welcome my presence, and we become online BFFs.

My husband thinks it's not weird that I had a fandom interest that defined my adolescence, but the damaging part was that I thought I could be one of them. The biggest Star Trek fan never harbored delusions that they would one day be friends with Gene Roddenberry, but through the magic of the Internet and semi-public spaces I had a sense of intimacy with these people who had no idea I existed. To some extent the Internet is mostly lurkers and I am certainly not the only kid who lurked on their forum.

I think people call this a Parasocial relationship, and it is one of the dangers of the Internet that was never explained to me as a kid. I knew not to share my real name or address. I knew not to talk with strangers. I didn't know not to lurk and pine for a friendship I would never form.

I think I came out of it mostly unscathed except for the occasional twinge of sadness or embarrassment.

I feel you. I think these "scenes" just come and go. Either they blow up and the core group becomes big, famous professionals who are way too famous for a regular person to approach (like a punk band selling out to go on MTV and fill stadiums) or it just dies out all together.

I was also into fanfiction as a teenager. Maybe not as much as you, but I had a phase when I was reading a lot of it. Mostly on this one site dedicated to one show, which has since become unpopular and the site shut down. No idea what happened to any of the writers there, I assume they all just left and went their own separate ways. Oh, and I was using it with absolutely no filter. I don't think the site even had a filter. Good ol 90s internet...

When I was older I dabbled a little in writing fanfiction. Nothing too serious but I did my best. It was a fun experience, getting to express myself, seeing the view counts go up, and even getting (a few) positive comments. But it was pretty lonely just doing it on my own, and then throwing out to the anonymous internet. It definitely would have been better with a real community of peers to give me feedback, or at least let me know that there's real human beings on the other end reading this stuff.

I think about it like that rule in fight club: "If this is your first night at fight club, you have to fight." Those communities don't work when there's too many onlookers just hanging around spectating without participating. There's something magical that happens when everyone is at least trying to participate, regardless of how good or bad they are. In fact, part of the charm in fanfiction is that the barrier is so low- there's tons of really bad writers writing garbage, so we don't feel shame at putting our own bad writing into the mix.

My parents forbade me from reading fanfiction.

That's strange. How did that happen?

For context, my parents started at a high baseline of paranoia and desire to control my cultural inputs. My mom forbade me from reading Harry Potter books. At first the kids shared a computer that was in a public area, eventually I received my own computer in my room so that my siblings and I could play online games together.

I discovered fan fiction when I finished reading Artemis Fowl The Eternity Code. I was very upset at the ending and I wanted to know if another book would be forthcoming. I found a forum discussing the books which had a link to Before I knew it, I found fan fiction for all my favorite books and shows.

I was a very timid reader. I recognized that I was under the age of 13 and wasn't supposed to be in most places on the Internet. I was very good at avoiding any stories tagged Romance. I only read stories rated K/K+ (equivalent of G/PG). I was the model child on the internet, studiously avoiding things that were beyond my comfort level for cursing, violence, and sex.

But there was something naughty about fan fiction itself. I knew about copyright in general terms. Most fan stories had a line up top saying "I'm not making money off this, don't sue me!" I wasn't 100% sure this was more legal than pirating a book. So I kept it hidden.

Eventually, my parents finally figured out I wasn't spending 2 hours a day playing solitaire on the family computer and was instead going to the same website every day. Because I kept it hidden, it was automatically suspicious.

My dad went to and looked up a book series he was familiar with (Discworld.) He changed the filters to Rated M and Romance. It took about five minutes before I was forbidden from returning to the site.

I got better at hiding it and to this day I don't think they ever learned that reading fan fiction was one of my main hobbies as a teenager. I read library books fast enough that it was reasonable to assume that is what I was doing in my room.

Strange to think that in a few years this space, too, will be a memory for most, possibly all of us. We'll move on to whatever (if we are lucky) and The Motte may or may not continue in some form, but not like this.

(edit: by "if we are lucky" I mean if we continue to live and have fulfilling lives where we interact socially)

It can be quite disappointing to think about what could have been. Sometimes these types of internet communities only exist for a brief window, and then they’re gone.

Do you have any interest in writing your own fanfiction now? Maybe that could be a vehicle for forming new relationships that become valuable to you in their own way.

I've written some fanfiction, but I think I'd rather make friendships in the physical world. It's better for my kids, better for networking, better to have someone who can lend a hand in real life from time to time.

If someone in the community I lurked on reached out to me and said, "Hey, I saw your post on TheMotte and recognized that you were talking about us, would you like to join an online game together?" I would accept in a heartbeat. But I don't necessarily want to create a new online attachment.