The word "incel" wasn't really common knowledge until the spring of 2018. These days, it's something you hear a lot more. But what does it mean, and why is it a part of the discourse around gender, dating and sex? We decided to investigate. This article is one of five parts of AskMen's The Incel Breakdown. You'll find the other four linked at the bottom.
So, you’re thinking about ending your time as an incel. But nobody’s telling you exactly how to do better. On one side of you, incels are telling you that you’re delusional for thinking anything could ever change your life. On the other side, there are countless thinkpieces talking about how evil you are. How do you move past the noise and figure out how to get to a healthier place?
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Here’s a five-step plan for a difficult but far from impossible journey.
When you’re dedicated to a belief, it’s important to ask what that belief is getting you. Let’s say you’re terrified of spaghetti. Okay, that’s interesting, but feeling that way doesn’t do anything other than make you nervous when you walk by Olive Garden. Similarly, it’s important to realize just how much value you’re deriving from the incel ideology. And the answer is: probably next to nothing. Holding this ideology is just making you sadder than you already would be.
Sure, you’re getting some degree of companionship and sympathy. And you’re also getting answers to the question of why your life is the way it is. But the companionship and sympathy are of the deranged and unhelpful variety, and the answers won’t lead you in a positive direction. Whether or not you think you’ll be celibate forever, you can at least agree that incel forums are a sad place. All you’re getting is a chance to feel like a heap of disgusting flesh in the convenience of your own home.
Also, keep in mind that you tend to become the average of the people you hang out with. Don’t drag down your average.
When you’re an incel, you decide you’re an unfixable case. The first step to getting out is realizing that you are fixable. You’ve got to think of the life you want, and examine how to get there, in concrete terms.
But you have to do it the right way. First, break down exactly what you don’t like about yourself. Then, divide those things into two categories: things you can control, and things you can’t. It’s true that there are a lot of things you can’t improve: you can’t pick your family, you can’t pick your face. But, equally, there’s a lot of stuff you can improve. Isolate those areas, and ask yourself what improvement would look like — figure out your destination. Set that as a goal, and then break that massive goal into tiny little chunks.
This chunking part is important. It’s impractical to think of self-improvement as a giant quest that will transform you into the Chad you want to be. While that view might seem inspiring, it’s also way too big to take on, especially if you’re feeling pessimistic about your chances in life. Make it manageable.
For example, if you’re upset with your fitness, schedule a light workout every day — emphasis on light. We’re talking about three pushups. Anything’s fine, as long as it’s better than what you were doing, and you’re doing it every day, so the habit gets locked in. It’s way better to start improving yourself at a reasonable pace, rather than throwing yourself at a new life like a maniac only to quit after a week.
Also, examine your beliefs about women. Are they based on a breadth of real experience with adults? Or a few unfortunate encounters with girls your age, along with a bunch of stuff from Reddit you took at face value? Can you really say that you understand “women,” period? Would you take a girl your age seriously if she said she understood all men, and thought they were uniformly awful? These questions might have tough answers.
And you are on Reddit, right? That’s where most of the incel action happens. Well, Reddit happens to have a bunch of toxic waste dumps like the incel subreddits, but, lucky for you, it’s also host to a huge number of great communities. There are tons of Redditors whose hobby is giving people support.
Just look around. On r/Askmen, you can find lots of dudes who are happy to give you advice from a male perspective, or to just blather on about whatever. If you’re working out, and you’re making progress, everyone on r/Progresspics will give you a million compliments when they see that you have a slightly more muscular torso. Struggles with depression can be dealt with in a supportive environment at r/Depression. And so on, and so on.
Whatever your specific problems are, you’re not alone. Just like a little bit of incel complaining can make you a lot more desperate, a little bit of Internet reinforcement can make you a lot more hopeful.
Ultimately, though, there’s no substitute for real-life friends who can help you and provide you with companionship. But this can be difficult if you’re socially isolated, like a lot of incels — if you don’t get along with your family and don’t really know anybody else.
Fortunately, if you live in any place larger than a small town, there’s somebody doing some sort of group activity they’re enthusiastic about. Yoga is healthy and relaxing. Martial arts are healthy and not relaxing. Improv classes can be great for bringing you out of your shell, as long as you’re willing to engage in some stupidity If you’re a more introverted type, lots of bookstores hold book clubs, where you can engage in deep, guided discussion with intelligent people.
Then, just get a beer or a coffee with the people you like there. Making friends is work, but it’s not as much work as staying alive when you’re spending all of your time on a truly depressing Internet forum.
This is the last step for a reason. If you’ve built your whole mindset around the idea that you’re an unsuitable mate, and that women are hateful creatures who hate you, that programming is going to take a long time to erase. So, if you ask out the girl of your dreams a week after you’ve decided to stop being an incel, and you get shot down, you might just want to give up and become an incel again.
Take some time. Maybe a year or more. Get to a place where you’re a little happier, and a little more comfortable with yourself, and have a less crazy view of the opposite sex. You don’t have to be Chris Hemsworth. You just have to be a little less insistent about your self-loathing. This will make you a lot more attractive — there’s nothing that women like less than desperation. Ask your male friends for advice on how to approach women. Read any one of the millions of articles or books about general male-female relations, as long as they aren’t written by pickup artists.
Then, when you’re at a point where one rejection won’t shatter you, talk to a girl you’re into. Keep it light, keep it casual. Just make it a regular conversation. If it seems like she’s having a good time, casually suggest that the two of you get a drink. If she blows you off, it’s no big deal, in the scheme of things. You have fifty years of life ahead of you, give or take. And, if she doesn’t blow you off, you could be voluntarily incelibate very soon.
The Incel Breakdown:
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