If I could just go on a date with her… If I could just get my ex back… If I could just lose my virginity…
As men, we often fall victim to trains of thought just like these. We find ourselves thinking, and actually believing, that we will find happiness through women – whether that means sex, a girlfriend, marriage, or something else.
This is complete bullshit.
Yes, women can add value to our lives. Yes, sex is amazing. Yes, being part of a healthy relationship can be fulfilling, exciting, and comforting. I’m not arguing against any of these things.
But if you aren’t happy being alone, no woman can ever change this.
I’m writing this article because I’ve been there. And because I’ve met LOADS of other guys who are still victims to this toxic mindset: “Pick up artists” who think sleeping with 100 girls will ‘complete’ them… Virgins who think finally having sex will ‘cure’ them… And tons of other dudes who think finding the one will magically ‘transform’ their lives.
Our Memories Are Often Distorted
One of my favorite books on psychology is The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt. This book covers many different psychological concepts, most of which relate to happiness.
One such concept is the fact that often we ‘mis-remember’ past experiences. We tend to remember ‘good’ things being better than they actually were. And we tend to remember ‘bad’ things being worse than they actually were. We exaggerate our memories.
The way this plays into men thinking that women will bring them happiness is quite simple: we tend to have overly positive recollections of the good times we shared with women in the past. You remember something like going on an exotic vacation or decorating a new apartment with an ex-girlfriend, and it seems like that was one of your happiest moments ever. In reality, it was probably a good time, but most likely you didn’t think it was ‘heaven-on-earth’ while it actually was happening.
Or maybe you remember a particular time you had sex. And it seems like it was the most amazing, pornstar-level sex ever. In reality, it probably was good sex, but nothing you won’t be able to experience again.
And this doesn’t just go for experiences related to women… It goes for ALL of our past experiences. We simply have a tendency to romanticize the past.
I’m not saying these things to be a cynic. The fact is that the same way we tend to ‘inflate’ and exaggerate stories that we tell other people, we do the same with our own memories… The map is not the territory, as they say.
We’re prone to remembering past experiences we shared with women as more amazing and happy than they actually were, and this is one big reason we can fall into the trap of believing that they have the potential to do the same for us again in the future.
We Romanticize the Future
Another big idea this book covers is the fact that we romanticize the future, just as we do the past. And this feeds into the false belief that women will bring us happiness for the same reasons that ‘mis-remembering’ the past does.
When we think of the possibility of finding a new girlfriend, getting married, or having sex with a new partner, we imagine it as being fucking amazing. And I’m not saying that these things aren’t fucking amazing. But, as the book stresses, we tend to maintain a baseline level of happiness despite our changing circumstances.
This means that when we find ourselves in bed with, or dating, a beautiful girl, we regulate our response… We regulate how happy we become as a result of this new circumstance. It usually does not feel as amazing or fulfilling as we thought it would. And again, this is not limited to women, but also anything else we look forward to, from getting a promotion to going on a long vacation.
I mean think about: how often do you find yourself bothered by the same little things or experiencing the same little anxieties even when you’re traveling somewhere new or dating an awesome new girl. It’s simply human nature.
The danger here is that we’re prone to incorrectly believing that finding a girlfriend or having a one night stand will be the best thing ever and make us oh-so-happy for ever and ever. In reality, these things are usually quite good and exciting, but they aren’t going to have a lasting impact on our happiness.
If there’s one thing we’re all naturally good at, it’s finding something else we want to have or accomplish before we can give ourselves full permission to relax and be happy.
So… What’s the Solution?
This has been a pretty bleak and depressing article so far. I’ve basically told you that current scientific literature suggests that we think of the past and future as ‘better’ than they actually are. So the question begs to be asked: are we doomed to live a life of underwhelming experiences that always fail to live up to our expectations and make us happy?
While I do stand by the title of this article – women will never make you happy – I think that there’s actually a very positive, empowering message to be found here…
Nothing external can bring you happiness. No new possession, relationship, or achievement is going to ‘complete’ you – it will only be replaced by a new goal or desire. Instead you must learn to love yourself and love your life exactly as it is right now. Only by doing this can you increase your baseline level of happiness.
Yes, easier said than done I know. But we need to stop tricking ourselves into believing this type of BS. We need to start focusing on enjoying the moment. We need to start focusing on enjoying today instead of clinging to yesterday and longing for tomorrow… Because clearly we don’t have accurate perceptions of those things to begin with.
How do we do this? I’m not 100% sure, but I believe through practice. When we catch ourselves romanticizing the past or the future, we should stop ourselves and consciously accept reality – that this is a natural human tendency – and then re-focus on where we are, who we’re with, and what we’re doing RIGHT NOW…
Because one thing is for sure: no amount of thinking about or hoping for a beautiful women to stroll into the room, strip naked, and become your girlfriend is going to make you happy. No, it doesn’t work like that. And even if she did… What next?