Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Birds and the Bees Gorillas

Single people in their 30s tend to be a bit nuts. We think we've missed the boat or something, or that there are few players left still in the game and we've got to find new strategies to be successful at it. We create theories to explain why things work the way they do and why other things aren't working, and we seek theories for guidance. And so I present...

Bird Theory

Bird Theory is a philosophy for describing certain human coupling behaviors using bird behavior as an analogy. It can be used to explain observed behavior, and it can provide a strategy and an attitude for approaching dating, that is very positive and potentially very satisfying. Bird Theory is based on various advice from friends, including other published theories they've come across, as well as some very loose observations of evolved instinctual animal behavior.

The theory applies to both men and women. It's been successful for women who've tried it, and so far has improved the attitude of male test subjects (results forthcoming).

Bird Theory vs. Gorilla Theory

Gorilla Theory in a nutshell is that women are attracted to the dominant male of a group, and that in courtship people generally behave the way apes do. It describes the "bar scene" fairly well, and unfortunately, a lot of people play the game using the theory. It is natural for single thirtysomethings to accept it as fact. However, it's not an attractive theory for anyone but the alpha personalities who just want to mate with other alphas, and are happy to do so. For people wanting more than that, or for people who feel like they're losing when they compete against the apes, it's completely dissatisfying. Luckily, playing the game as a gorilla is a choice, and you can choose to be more bird-like, leaving the gorillas to their old miserable games.

People who seem to find relationships easily and seem to go through their whole life always happily in one, probably naturally play the game as birds.

The Rules of Bird Theory

Rule 1: Choose potential interests, don't preselect a desired mate.

Rule 2: Keep your options open until an option is where you want.

Rule 3: Girls attract, guys act.

In Gorilla Theory, you choose the mate that you want, and then you go after them until you get them. This requires you to seduce them, and that is not easy for all of us to do. Likely, you are hoping you don't have to seduce them, that you'll somehow pick one person who against all probability just happens to also pick you from amongst all others. This makes a lot of people miserable, asking questions like "Why doesn't this ever seem to happen for me?!" This question only applies if you have big expectations from specific individuals, and bird behavior avoids that. Not only does the gorilla strategy simply not work for most of us, it also is often disappointing when it does. "I finally got whom I want, but I'm not happy." This is quite likely to happen because you've selected your mate before building a connection with them, and it is this connection that determines how good the relationship will be. You won't be able to tell until you actually start building the connection. You may even find that the gorilla you've selected isn't what you really want, but unfortunately you've already selected them and it's hard to give that up. To be more bird-like, don't select a mate that early in the game; instead build connections and strengthen them. The selection comes later.

For women, selecting a man and then trying to get him to chase after you is a common thing and can be frustratingly futile. You basically have to play both male and female gorilla roles, taking actions to initiate things while hiding your directness. It feels unnatural to you, and the guy may feel pressured, which can signal his brain to abruptly and permanently block any potential attraction.

None of these problems matter much in Bird Theory.

Imagine a bunch of cute birds interacting in nature. Imagine the females ruffling their feathers at the males they like, and the males going after the females that catch their eye, possibly scrapping it out a bit over her with the other male birds. Any bird can find a mate. Imagine that all of these birds are happy, because they know there are birds all around them, so they need not get hung up on any particular one. They don't have to beat an alpha male gorilla to death before they get some. This isn't exactly how it works in nature, but let's ignore that. If you believe in it, and you live it, that's all that matters.

The correct behavior for you as a girl bird is to attract any of the guys you are at all interested in, through typical bird behavior like smiling and flirting, and even just feeling a sense of openness to the guy, which sends off subtle vibes. You should do this to any and all guys you want to try building a connection with. Don't expect any particular guy to chase you without you first raising some kind of green-light feathers. It should not be forced, but feel completely natural, so that you send off weak vibes to guys you're not sure about, and stronger ones the more interested you are, and never end up sending wrong signals to guys who feel creepy.

After the flirting, you leave it at that. Wait for them act on it, and forget about any and all of the ones who don't act, no matter how cute. Don't try to decide which one will act, just flirt with all the ones you want. Build connections with the ones who act. Don't settle on anyone until you're ready.

The correct behavior for you as a boy bird is to take action and initiate interactions with girls who attract you. Naturally, the most alluring girls will tend to be the ones who are showing interest. A mutual interest tends to make it easier to build better connections faster, and can even give you that feeling that something magical is happening. But you don't have to admit your interest to her; in fact it's better not to, and you may not even know yet how interested you are. But you don't have to know yet. You just have to initiate the interaction and see what can come of it, what can be built by both of you. So guys, don't worry if it's hard to do; another more compatible opportunity will feel easier. If there's competition from another male, don't focus on the male and on defeating him, just focus on the girl. If you lose her to him, let her go very easily. Another will come along. There are a lot of fish in the bird kingdom's sea.

The birds go through a little mating dance, where each comes a little closer, shakes those tail feathers, and sees how the other reacts. They get to know each other, and slowly figure out compatibility, rather than deciding it once and for all in a single moment. The birds don't have to worry about what the other does, they only have to care about their own actions. Part way through the dance your potential partner may fly away, or you may decide to fly away, or another bird may cut in and disrupt the whole scene for either of you. The birds just continue flying about, dancing, meeting other birds.

Basically, to play by these rules, you are choosing to concentrate your attention on whatever bird is connecting best with you at the moment, rather than focussing on a single ape you'll have to fight for and even fight with.

How do you actually do this?

All that is required is an acceptance of the theory as positive and beneficial, and then adjusting your attitude and actions to follow it.

- Don't put all your interest in just one person. If you do, you're depending on them to give you all you seek. You can't rely on someone to provide this until you've built a very strong connection, and you can't force any individual to take an action you want or to feel the way you want. So, be interested in multiple birds, and focus your attention on whoever tries to build a connection with you. Focus on the interactions, not on the intended results. It's called falling in love because you fall into it, you don't plan it out and execute your primary action items on it. You will get so much more out of unexpected interactions than you will from schemes that involve steering other people's behavior.

- Talk to whomever you want. Don't think of it as hitting on them, think of it as simply announcing your presence to see if there are signs of a potential connection.

- Flirt with whomever you want. It doesn't mean anything more than what you want it to be, and it doesn't matter if it succeeds or fails. Build connections with anyone you want a connection with, any kind of connection, and don't worry about those who don't want to build a connection with you.

Avoid feeling bad for flirting with a lot of people. If you're playing as a gorilla, then flirting with someone may feel like you're saying they're the one, and you want them to drag you off and go apeshit on you, which makes you hold back on being a flirt. If you're being a bird, then flirting may mean you're just interested in learning something more from that person. How you feel about the person will be projected. So, you can pretty much act however you feel, and if your flirting feels innocent then it probably is. It is just a little signal that you're interested in making a connection.

You may have to get used to turning down apes who read too much into your behavior, but it will be a good lesson for them.

- Birds spend more time doing, and less time thinking. Do your thing when you're around your crush, and avoid thinking too much about them when you're not. Thinking can be a substitute for acting, and makes action easier to avoid. Imagining how interactions will play out can be bad, because the real interactions will be different than what you envisioned or planned out, which can mean false expectations and disappointment. Plan to always act, but don't plan out your actions too much, and never plan out another's response.

- Don't sweat those who aren't interested in you. It's not worth it. It doesn't feel good to give attention and get none back. If it takes too much work just to get some attention, it'll probably be a lot more work to get the next thing you want from them. Forget about the bad and immerse yourself in the good. "The good" is a combination of things... attraction, returned interest, sense of excitement, feeling of satisfaction. Enjoy everything good you receive and let different types of connections be built with different people.

- Don't let a moral interest in monogamy prevent you from building connections with more than one potential interest. You can build multiple connections while having a clear idea of when it will be appropriate for you to begin concentrating on only one. Until then, don't let one love interest that feels like it's not going anywhere exclude you from building something with someone else.

- Don't sweat pressure. If a situation is uncomfortable, don't worry about it, because this situation doesn't matter. If you happen to be on a date and can't simply force yourself to chill, just reaffirm a commitment to be chill about everything, and it will seep in; it will affect future dates.

- Go with your subconscious. Be aware of the other's subconscious. Analytical thought doesn't play a huge role in any of this, as it's the subconscious that decides in whom you're interested. It's not that dumb people have an advantage, it's that intelligent people have a disadvantage if they try to use reasoning and planning in this game. Women like decisiveness and certainty, so guys: avoid asking them questions and making their brains feel like they have to figure out the next step. That's not to say you can push them around; you simply provide concrete solutions and she can determine if it's acceptable or not. Men like problem solving and feeling in control, so give him an easy problem to solve and let him come to his own decision about it. Problems that end with a lightbulb going on in his brain and an answer of "Make a move", are especially satisfying to him.

Be direct in your language. You're talking to the subconscious, which is very literal. If you ask, "Would it be okay if I got your number?" her brain may chew on "Would that be okay or not?" If you ask, "Why don't you ask me out?", his brain may get to work on finding reasons why he doesn't. There are lots of ways to ask the same questions, and you don't have to be forceful if it doesn't feel right. Just make it as easy on the other's subconscious as possible to answer you. "Can I have your number?" is easier to answer, and "Give me your number and I'll call you in a couple days" is direct and diffuses some of the pushiness. "When will I see you again?" gives a guy a great problem to work on solving. If he wants to see you, his brain goes into action to solve it and doesn't spend as much effort on how he really feels about it.

- Take risks. Girls: Be willing to admit that you're interested. Guys: Be willing to take chances even when you expect them to fail. If you're interested, go with it. Don't presume that the other person isn't interested. That's like throwing away tiny seedlings before you've even watered them. Sometimes, the other's interest only grows after you take that first step. Also, it's better to try, fail, and move on, than it is to get hung up on someone.

- Accept whatever feels right about this theory. Hopefully it will give you hope and optimism, because pessimism can be a relationship killer. Try things out, and let experience build your belief that it will work out for you. Remember that failed connections are insignificant compared to what you're building elsewhere. Change your attitude to something positive, let your actions reflect your attitude, and good things will happen. Let your optimistic attitude carry you through anything that doesn't work out as well as you'd hoped.

Why does this work?

- When you act like a bird, you will be more interested in having fun, and less concerned with the results. So you will end up having more fun, and will have a cheerier attitude towards dating. People will see this and it will be attractive to them. Besides the main benefits of increasing your statistical chances by not closing yourself off to all but a few opportunities, and of letting you have an upbeat outlook on relationships, you can actually make yourself more attractive.

How do you want to be seen?

- You avoid concentrating on the ones that are hard to get, which will likely be hard to keep and hard to be with. You focus on the ones where everything feels easier, more satisfying.

- You can avoid simple problems. With gorilla theory, by focusing all your interest on only one person, you force yourself to constantly be only in "win or lose" situations. Your potential interest becomes over-important to you. Your need to obtain that person will prevent a feeling of ease around them, and that can give off bad vibes, like desperation or pressure. Since it is win or lose and they're the only person for you, you'll naturally want to evaluate them completely, and potential flaws or imagined future problems will make you hesitant. You'll avoid taking chances when you're uncertain. It may make you feel like you're not willing to settle on anything less than perfect, and your search for perfection will keep turning to disappointment. This means that gorilla behavior can sabotage even relationships that had natural potential. But statistically speaking, choosing a single potential mate with little built-up connection, will likely mean choosing someone who's not interested, just as you're more likely to be not interested in any given random stranger.

Bird behavior on the other hand lets you build connections before choosing them, lets you put connections on hold instead of abandoning them, and lets you focus more on comfortable, easygoing, and enjoyable interactions. By having multiple potential connections, you won't feel a pressure to settle for any single one, or a need to run away from one that doesn't seem perfect enough at the moment.

- Men and women react differently to different things. Encouragement works great for men. We like to know that a girl is interested, that if I make a move she will be receptive. We'd much rather focus on someone who is giving us attention. So giving a guy hints on how you feel about him is a good thing. When men rationalize this and assume women react the same, we screw it all up. Women respond better to actions. If a man tells her he has feelings, but won't back that up with an action, it tends to feel creepy to her. So a guy who thinks that he can tell a girl he likes her and expect her to take the next step, might as well be drinking dating-brand drain cleaner. Similarly, if a girl is trying to take actions to get a guy to do what she wants him to do, this tends to feel like manipulation to him. Whether he wants what she's doing or not, his brain will be wary of it, and that can form a relationship-brand spike strip.

Q and A (Hint: The answers are all 'no')

Does this mean that women have to let the guy pick? No. As in the animal kingdom, women actually select the men that they want to attract. You can flirt with as many guys as you want, from one to three billion. It is your choice, and is a balance between getting only exactly what you want, and getting no one at all. All of the guys that you flirt with should be acceptable... basically, whatever boy bird you've winked at who makes a move is the one who gets to build a connection with you. You should avoid thinking things like "I'm going to decline bird-B for now while I wait to see if bird-A makes a move". Bird-B is the one building a connection right now, and bird-A may not ever, so why deny yourself an unknown potential while waiting for another? Forget about bird-A for now. This doesn't necessarily mean that all birds are equal. You may be willing to go on a date with bird-A and only want to have a conversation with bird-B, so don't feel bad about turning down a date with bird-B.

So, choose the guys you're interested in, and let them figure out which one will choose you.

Does this mean that men have to let the women pick? No. A man can always make a move before he gets any indication from a woman. The best way to do this is to make your move at whatever pace feels natural, but still look for signs of interest or the feeling of a good vibe from the girl. You can proceed without this, but chances are that if she doesn't show any interest, you will always be working hard to get any from her. Make it easy for her to be willing to feel and show interest. A guy can flirt with a girl first, but it should be done to say "I'm interesting!", rather than "I'm interested!"

Both the guy and girl birds are choosing whom they want, they just go about it slightly differently. It's in the overlap where things happen.

Does this mean I have to settle for whatever happens to be available? No. You build connections with whomever you want who's available. You don't have to choose to take "the next step" with any until you're ready. In the meantime you can build connections with other people. You never know which one is going to be exciting enough that you want to build on it more, and which will go nowhere.

Are you saying we should all be polygamous? No. For most people, monogamy makes for better relationships and is therefore more satisfying. People should always have connections with multiple people, but they don't all have to be sexual. You have to be wise and observant enough to separate different connections, to know which are friendship, which are potential love interests, which should be exclusive, etc. When your interest is strong enough, and the return interest is strong enough, AND a connection has been built strong enough, you will feel ready to risk focusing all your attention on that one person, and letting all the other connections go while you do that. When to do that is a judgment call.

Typically, only one connection at a time will have that "magic" feeling of potential. But it may not always be the one you expected, or the one you were planning on. Sometimes something that feels magical one day will fizzle the next. Now and then, either one of you may feel hesitant for some reason that you first need to work through. Don't force yourself to push ahead if you're not feeling it, and don't think that all is lost if the other is hesitant. Let connections fade instead of clinging tightly with claws, and go with whatever feels right over time, whether that connection comes back to you or another becomes your main focus.

Are you trying to say that genders are not equal? No. Having different roles does not make us unequal, and we can balance the roles to any level of equality that we want. Besides that, everyone is free to choose which role they want to play. If you're a dominant woman, play a dominant role. But if you try to initiate something with a meek man, with an expectation that he'll "cowboy up" later and start being more manly, you're probably going to be disappointed. So be consistent and true to yourself. Don't step out of the role you like, simply to stir up a situation that isn't naturally forming. We choose to leave certain things to the other gender, not because we're giving up rights, but because we're doing what works best for us.

Does this apply to interacting only with other birds? No. Many people are used to Gorilla behavior and may not respond to your bird dance with more dance moves. But that's okay, because the application of bird theory governs only your actions, not those of others. You may find yourself drawn to people who play the game the way you want. You may have to give additional signals that it's okay for others to behave like birds. When others see you behaving like a bird and not an ape, it will be appealing, and they'll naturally tend to want to mirror your behavior. So act like you want to act around people, regardless of how they're acting at first.


Okay all you lonely singles in the house. Get out there, show your feathers, and flap your wings! Stop throwing shit and start flying.

For your health!

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