Incels Should Exist
swallowing the biggest blackpill
Note: I define an “incel” as anybody with persistent romantic or sexual difficulties with the opposite sex, I don’t restrict it to those who have never sexually interacted with the opposite sex.
Almost all human psychological traits are distributed on some kind of bell curve - most people will be centered around the average, while there will be outliers at both ends who are very high or low on that trait. While this concept is often invoked when discussing intelligence, it applies to a lot of other human characteristics like height, weight, and personality.
This is because most human traits are the product of a large amount of additive factors - the more additive factors are involved, the more the trait distribution will be a symmetrical bell curve.
Because of this, there will be a range of people who will be outliers when it come to socially desirable traits like intelligence, emotional stability, attractiveness, psychopathology, and conscientiousness. Generally, there are clear cases where the socially desirable element of a trait is biased in one direction - there is no downside to becoming increasingly intelligent or attractive. In others, the optimal trait value is somewhere close to the mean; overly high levels of agreeableness could lead to low levels of agency, while people who are too low in agreeableness may become what is conventionally known as an “asshole”.
In some cases, the best trait value for a given trait can be distant from the mean. For men, the optimal height is about 188 cm, which is the 97th percentile of height within American men. Within women, a BMI of about 19.5 is considered ideal, which is roughly the 4th percentile.
For personality traits, opinions on what is considered an optimal personality vary, but there still seems to be some degree of agreement between raters. The existence of “socially desirable personality trais” is fairly uncontroversial within psychology, with extraversion, openness, agreeableness, emotional stability, and conscientiousness being considered traits that are considered valuable in society. Nonetheless, there are downsides to extremely high levels of prosocial personality traits - extraversion is associated with shorter relationships, drug use, and criminality; openness to experience is associated with belief in astrology and drug use; neuroticism is related to higher levels of self-awareness; and conscientiousness is associated with increased levels of OCD.
Within relationships, there are a generally agreed upon set of “optimal” outcomes that most people want - for example, humans want to have a relationship where they communicate appropriately, don’t verbally or physically abuse each other, and exchange services like sex, resources, and favours. Because human variation in intelligence and personality will contribute to somebody’s ability to have a high quality relationship, and because these traits are highly heritable and stable, there is going to be a subset of people who are innately unable to have a high quality relationship.
While people do tend to mature as they grow older, there is no guarantee that they will mature within their fertility windows. Anecdotally, there is still a reasonable subset of people who are still immature and unstable past the age of 25, and are unlikely to develop their personalities past this point.
Let me try to stop beating around the bush for a second. There are simply some people who either have such bad personalities or low value in some other respect that they have a net negative effect on the the well-being of whoever is dating them.
This is even demonstrated statistically. In a large (n = 40k) sample of German and Dutch couples, the partner who started off being happier than their partner was eventually dragged down to their level, while the less happy member did not change at all.
A similar finding was reported in a Norweigan study, where the presence of one mentally distressed partner was enough to greatly increase the chances of divorce, regardless of the sex of the mentally distressed partner. Interstingly enough, couples where both partners were mentally distressed were actually less likely to divorce than what you would expect from the main effect of each partner.
Ideally, assortative mating for prosocial traits or stability should be large in magnitude. This is because it will incentivize people to be more stable, as if they are more stable, then it is more likely that their romantic partner will be stable as well. Also, less stable and happy people drag down the happiness of their partner, so if people match on happiness, that will increase the net amount of happiness in the society.
If assortative mating for personality traits is strong, then at some point the least stable and adjusted people will have to choose between dating other unstable people, getting lucky and dragging down a stable person, or being stone cold truecels. Socially speaking, at some point of the stability distribution it would be optimal to have a subset of people who do not date or reproduce due to their low levels of stability and value. The case for this is also strengthened when you consider that parents and children tend to resemble each other in personality, for reasons that can be left unspoken.
Nevertheless, I sympathize with “incels” for several reasons:
Dysgenic fertility - the relationship between a socially desirable trait and fertility is generally negative, especially for women.
Assortative mating for personality and happiness is relatively low, so there is no guarantee that stable partners will attract other stable partners.
The value of people in the modern dating market is lower than it used to be, especially for women.
Evolutionarily speaking, people who reproduce should be higher in valuable traits, though this is not the case for humans. Genetically speaking, people who pass on their genes in the UK are prone to:
Various mental illnesses (particularly in women)
Obesity (particularly in men)
Low levels of intelligence (particularly in women)
A similar finding was reported in Norway - men are selected for extraversion/stability, while women are selected for low conscientiousness and years of education:
Low assortative mating for personality/happiness
The ideal scenario of high levels of assortative mating for prosocial personality traits/happiness is not a reality, based on a meta-analysis of assortative mating for various traits:
There is bound to be some attenuation due to the use of self-reports, which are not perfect indicators of personality. Even if these are adjusted for the reliability of self-reports, it is unlikely that the true correlation is personality traits between partners is higher than 0.4, even for socially relevant traits like conscentiousness or neuroticism. Because of this, there is no guarantee that stable people will be able to find a partner who is as stable as they are. Fortunately, assortative mating for happiness is stronger in comparison to that of personality; the “dragged down” study I cited earlier claims that the correlation in happiness between partners is roughly .47.
Alternatively, people might engage in cross-trait assortative mating, where they trade certain traits for others. In other words, a beautiful woman might try to use her value to attract a wealthy or stable mate instead of an attractive one. This is certainly true to some extent, though quantitative research suggests that cross-trait assortative mating is very weak, if it exists at all (unfortunately, the figures of these studies are very hard to make out!).
Cross-trait assortative mating can also be an artefact of assortative mating and intercorrelated traits. In other words, if intelligent people tend to have less neurotic romantic partners, that could be because intelligence and neuroticism negatively correlate and the partners are assortatively mating on the two main traits. More complex methods (e.g. machine learning, regression) would be necessary to determine whether cross-trait assortative mating is causal or an artefact of the mechanism I described earlier. In addition, there could be cross-sex cross-trait (I know this is a massive headache, bear with me), where certain traits are mated for in crosses between sexes. For example, taller men could have more attractive female partners, but the same may not hold for taller women. There is some weak evidence that taller men have slightly more attractive female partners, (r = .11, n = 72), though height is arguably a component of attractiveness already, so again, this could simply be an artefact of assortative mating for attractiveness and the covariance between height and attractiveness within men.
Decline in mate value
Based on current evidence, people in the modern day are higher in the following traits compared to previous generations:
Depression (particularly within women)
Suicide (specifically within the young)
BMI (particularly within women)
Older (I don’t think I need a citation for this)
Left wing (in absolute terms)
Income (particularly women)
Beyond mate value, people are getting married less and having less children reasons that are usually involuntary.
Generally, men value emotional stability, attractiveness, shared political beliefs, youth, and a relatively low number of sexual partners. Women value similar things in partners, but place a greater weight on social status and a smaller weight on attractiveness, youth (if at all), and number sexual partners. Because of this, socially percieved mate value has dropped within both sexes. Some may argue that male value has increased due to increases in extraversion or income, but the truth is that these are indicators of social status, and the amount of social status cannot change in a society by the nature its definition. You could even argue that the decline in mate value as as strong in men as it is for women - modern men are less masculine and willing to take risks than previous generations are. Though it is not clear if women actually value these traits; I think they do, but I am unsure of how strong this preference is.
While some may object to some of these being indicators of value (notably political beliefs, attractiveness, and youth), I am merely saying that they are indicators of value to most of society, not that they should be. (Of course, I think that they should be indicators of mate value in a prescriptive sense, but that discussion is ancillary to this article).
I think a lot of people understand this truth on an intuitive level, but it is uncomfortable to articulate because there is a negative social stigma against men advocating for their interests or complaining about their lot in life. Instead, men are encouraged to overcome the situations they are in by the fruit of their own labours instead of having society help them overcome them. While it is true that exposing the truth of declining mate value is probably going to lower the average person’s willingness to try in the dating market, that may be actually be a net positive. If somebody tries hard to win in a game they percieve as fair or easy to win, and fail, they are probably going to feel worse about it than if they saw the game as hard to win. This discontent from losing in the dating market could result in a perception that 'the game' is harder to win anyway, so I believe suppressing this information is not helpful.