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The Incel Breakdown: Why Being Incel Is Really Voluntary

Post From http://www.askmen.com/dating/dating_advice/the-incel-breakdown-why-being-incel-is-really-voluntary.html

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. 

Dear incel,

Let’s begin this discussion by staring the truth in the face. Despite the fact that I think inceldom is voluntary, celibacy totally can feel like an inescapable condition that’s forced on you. Trust me, I’ve been there. I grew up poor, in a non-ideal family situation, with bad social skills and ill-fitting clothing. I was bullied constantly. Girls looked at me like I was a piece of moldy bread, for years. Long, painful years in which it was impossible for me to attract anyone. And I certainly didn’t feel like this was my choice.

RELATED: Tips That Will Help You Develop Self-Confidence

Meanwhile, some guys, blessed with good looks, can basically raise their hand on a Saturday night and get attention. During a couple of depressing months of my life, I lived with an insane roommate with no money who was miles away from being boyfriend material, who was, despite that, forever bringing hot girls back to our apartment. It’s going to be a lot harder for people like former incel Omar, who told me, “My face is odd and deformed, it looks melty and gross and just generally awful. If I ever catch sight of myself in the mirror it can ruin my entire day.”

You see everyone else being rewarded for gifts that they haven’t earned. Meanwhile, you’re not being touched. Which is one of the most basic human needs. Also, unfortunately, we live in a society where a big marker of male status is the woman you’re with. These are difficult circumstances to confront.

But there’s a huge difference between being “involuntarily celibate” and “mostly not voluntarily not laid yet.” Both are garbage states of being, and they look pretty similar, from the outside. However, there’s an internal difference that’s important.

The difference is that incels have taken not getting laid and turned it into a philosophy that changes the whole way you look at the world. You take the fact that it’s really hard to find companionship and craft it into a certainty that you won’t get laid, ever, ever. So, you might as well, as the acronym goes, “LDAR” — lay down and rot. Also, you start disbelieving that you’re in a world with three-dimensional people, who have varying degrees of success in a dating world — and, instead, you place yourself in a world of Chads and Staceys. There are the people who find romance, and the people who don’t. It’s you and the enemy, or, if you’re a less aggressive kind of incel, you and the out-group.

We don’t even need to address whether this is true right now. What’s more important is that this worldview is scientifically proven to drive you insane. What do I mean? Well, these beliefs depend on two kinds of thinking that have been identified as destructive by cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, an empirically backed way of looking at psychological health.

First, dividing the world into Chads and Staceys is “black and white thinking”: the idea that the world is composed of two states of being, and one of them is terrible, and the other is unreachable. This makes you depressed because it makes it seem like there’s a promised land where everybody is happy, and you’re staring at it from the other side of an impassable pit. You’re either maximally desirable or not at all.

This is both untrue and totally unhelpful. Everyone has problems to some degree. I know lots of fairly attractive people who feel or have felt unloved or unlovable, and who have gone through years of loneliness in between periods of happiness. Everyone can do at least a little better, or a little worse. Including you.

Second, the idea that you’ll never get laid is “catastrophizing” — taking an unfortunate situation and assuming you’ll come out with the worst possible outcome. This is the worst thing you can do with a dire set of circumstances. It makes the bad into the irredeemable.

So, where do you go from that? If you’re an incel, I know where you think this is going — towards the “normie advice” of “just improve yourself.” Lift yourself up and you’ll eventually find a great girlfriend. Blah blah. The kind of advice you ridicule on your forums, all the time.

I’m going to get out ahead of that ridicule by acknowledging two things about this advice simultaneously. First, it’s good advice. Second, it can be totally infuriating to hear it, especially from an Internet writer with a cute headshot, or a girl who doesn’t want you. “There’s someone out there for you,” says a Stacey who doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, who’s dating three people at once.

Improving yourself can be hellishly hard. Most people don’t do it except very gradually. It takes discipline, and after years of rejection, the discipline to improve yourself won’t necessarily come because someone tells you to do stuff on the Internet, even if they’re Joe Rogan. While it’s true that your romantic prospects will be massively improved if you go to the gym, get a better job, obtain more social status, and do interesting things, that’s four hard things to do. It can take years.

There’s also no guarantee of success, or at least success as how you define it now — as having a hot girlfriend. Life can be rough for a while. It still is for Omar, now in his early twenties, who says: “I’m a published writer and I read 100 books a year and I travel all around the world. If it was a question of ‘personality’, surely I’m doing enough. I have hobbies that make me happy, sure, but all of them feel hollow without someone to share that sense of affection and validation with.”

It’s mathematically possible, although unlikely, that he’ll never have a chance to go out with someone he’s really attracted to. This might not be true of you, either. And I’m not about to tell you to lower your standards, although you may find them changing over time. Having difficult-to-meet standards of attraction doesn’t by itself make you cruel — nobody has a right to your desire. After all, it would be unfair to tell a hot girl that she’s a man-hater because she doesn’t want to go out with you.

But do you know what will happen, I one-hundred-percent guarantee it, if you improve your circumstances even a little, and shake off the incel mindset? Even if you never attain the relationship of your dreams? You’ll be happier, if not chipper. You’ll be further away from isolation, depression, and the risk of self-harm. You’ll have bad circumstances, but you won’t have a totally destructive mindset. At the very least, like Omar, you’ll have an interesting life. To take an extreme example, think about the difference between a celibate monk thinking cosmic thoughts and a bitter incel posting memes. It’s a huge gap.

You will eventually rot in the grave, and, yes, again, it’s possible — though, again, really unlikely — that you’ll end your life a virgin. But you don’t have to lay down first. You can go out with friends who will mourn you, colleagues who will recall your competence, and maybe some muscle on your carcass. This is inarguably a better fate than spending all of your time on forums that focus on the vilification of women and the worship of misery.

Ultimately, it’s not that you can just choose to bust out of celibacy, at any time. It’s that you can choose not to embrace suffering.

The Incel Breakdown:

  • Here's What Incels Are
  • Here's How To Deal With Constant Rejection
  • How To Talk To Your Incel Friends
  • How To Stop Being An Incel

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