PQ 24.1 — Am I excited by the prospect of being with this person? Is he a “Fuck yes!”?
Today’s prompt is referring to the premise of a blogging mega hit from Mark Manson, “Fuck Yes or No.”
These days Manson is fairly well known, especially in light of his very good and very popular book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. But once upon a time, Mark Manson was just another one of us obscure weirdos with a blog who wouldn’t shut up. It’s been fun watching his meteoric rise.
In hindsight it’s understandable that he got to where he is. Because he said some things that really resonated with people. That they really needed to hear.
And one of the things that people found the most helpful was what he says in “Fuck Yes or No.” That most dating advice is a waste of time because it focuses on that grey area where you’re getting mixed signals. Or where you feel mixed emotions about them. Or both. Frustration with this ambiguity tends to devolve into game-playing, manipulation, and wildly unproductive behavior. Traps that are set. Tests that are conducted.
It’s a load of hooey, frankly. But it’s a load of hooey that a lot of us get sucked into.
The Law of “Fuck Yes or No”
In his essay, Mark Manson proposes a different approach: To start abiding by The Law of “Fuck Yes or No.” Per Manson:
The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.
The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” also states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.
As you can see, The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” implies that both parties must be enthusiastic about the prospect of one another’s company. Why? Because attractive, non-needy, high self-worth people don’t have time for people who they are not excited to be with and who are not excited to be with them.
Manson concedes that on its face it does seem like a bit of an idealistic proposition, but he does a pretty good job addressing the scope and limitations of the law. He freely admits that it doesn’t take away all of your dating problems, but he says it does tend to limit the potential list to the following two scenarios:
- Never feeling a “fuck yes” for anybody you meet
- Never meeting other people who feel a “fuck yes” for you
Manson has brief advice in the essay about how to tackle both of these problems, and if you’re interested in the solutions to those, I’d advise reading his essay. I’m not going to rehash them in today’s post. They are his premises, and I see them as sensible and consistent with what I’ve observed as well but ultimately for him to defend.
Polysaturation Did Me a Heckin Confuse
In today’s post, I’m just going to say that I was someone who never used to look at relationships this way. I was a person who prided myself on being easy to date. I felt like it was possible to make any relationship work if you just put in enough effort. My picture of “effort,” too, was rather unhealthy… it wasn’t normal compromise or emotional processing but instead involved making unhealthy sacrifices that crushed my soul and I’d never want someone I loved to make.
I was proud that I could make relationships work that other people likely couldn’t. And I was so busy being proud of myself over that, I never stopped to wonder: But should I?
Becoming polyamorous didn’t change this maladaptive behavior I’d developed dating as a monogamous person, at least not right away:
Keeping with my earlier pattern, I’d predictably attracted multiple difficult people, who were now all lovers. And I suddenly was in a position where no matter how much any given wheel squeaked, their desires often conflicted. I began to encounter situations where I couldn’t say yes to everyone:
It wasn’t until I experienced multi-commitment as a busy poly hinge and discovered my previous level of self-sacrifice was untenable that I started to figure autonomy out. What it meant to me. To tease apart complete dependence from complete independence and foster a sort of healthy interdependence in relationships.
Because while my normal instinct when monogamous had been to just go along with what my partner wanted, as a busy poly hinge, I couldn’t do that anymore. I ran into situations where I couldn’t say “yes” to everyone.
And rather than self-destruct on the spot like a robot stuck in a logical paradox, I was forced to appeal to a higher court to help break deadlocks: What I found reasonable.
And after circumstances forced me to do this enough times, I gradually came to do so instinctively.
And this wasn’t the only change that resulted. As I became polysaturated and had little to no room for additional relationships, I stopped paying any attention whatsoever to prospects that fell into that gray zone. People I was kind of “meh” on.
A “Fuck Yes” Emerged From the Gray Ambiguity
No matter how busy I was, I did continue to speak with friends who I valued, however. And one of those very close friends was someone that over time I realized I was “fuck yes” about.
As did he. He was also a very busy, nearly polysaturated person.
But when the time came when we could make time for one another, we made it happen. For me, this meant cutting deep into my precious scarce alone time — a gamble but one that worked out great since I found that unlike my other partners he actually recharged my batteries as if I were alone.
For him, this meant that he was driving into work quite sleep deprived, having spent most of Monday nights and Tuesday mornings with me hanging out, swapping stories, making out, and giggling.
We’re still together. I live with Justin now.
He was the “fuck yes” that I could finally hear because I wasn’t wasting my attention on the gray ambiguity.
It Took Me Forever to Listen for the “Fuck Yes,” But Now That I Do, I Can’t Un-Hear It
And once I heard that frequency, it was never one I could un-hear. I don’t date people anymore who don’t get me excited. My girlfriend Ro is a wonderful human being. Funny, pretty, incredibly level headed, strong, responsible.
Dating Justin ended up causing a lot of big changes in my life (I suppose I could call that time in my life P.J.E., the Post-Justin Era, or A.J. anno Justin which would make it 8 AJ right now). The way I approached new lovers when I started dating people after him was radically different. Not just with Ro, but with others who I’m no longer with. Sure, we’re exes now and things didn’t work out (sometimes my conclusion, sometimes theirs, sometimes both), but I was ridiculously excited about them at one time. Otherwise, I never would have dated them in the first place.
I wish I could have figured it out sooner. How to listen for the “fuck yes.”
My dumb ass didn’t understand this lesson until I inadvertently walked backwards into it while doing completely the opposite.
But you know, better late than never, right?
And now that I know this, it’s something I’ll never forget.
This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions and answers, please see this indexed list.