One of my more popular posts from a year ago, updated for the Fuckonomics series of articles discussing the Sexual Marketplace using economic concepts.
While pondering the Sexual Marketplace using economic metaphors, I had an interesting insight that many relationship problems have "credit" in common, and there's a simple way to avoid many of the problems men face.
Pitfalls like Briffault's law and Covert Contracts can be avoided by engaging the sexual marketplace on a cash basis.
Don't offer your prospects easy relationship credit. Remember the fundamental SMP transaction: Men are the gatekeepers of commitment, women are the gatekeepers of sex. Parse out your commitment of time, money, etc in exchange for tokens of affection already received, like you're paying cash for services already rendered. Of course, you'll usually need to inject some seed capital at certain points of a transaction, from initiating contact, touching etc, to time/money in an LTR. You want to make sure not to invest so much at any point that you've built up a "debt" you're not willing to walk away from without regret. A man offering way too much upfront commitment in exchange for not enough affection/sex is not only a poor SMP negotiator, supplicating like this makes him downright unattractive even to low-value women.
To clarify, cash is a metaphor for whatever value you provide in exchange for her sex; not necessarily literally paying cash for sex. The principle applies whether you give back "nothing" but access to your Alphaness or a bag of skittles, all the way to the opposite extreme of maintaining a mistress. The point is to make sure whatever you give is present-oriented (cash basis) as opposed to past or future-oriented (relationship "credit.")
In the short term, keep a balance of IOIs, touches, etc. If you touch her a few times and there's no touching back, don't keep investing in a losing game, she's not buying what you're peddling so switch up your presentation or move on to another prospect. Once you've established some push-pull, the amount of her touching, kissing etc should settle into a pattern of 3 from her to 2 from you; this is the Golden Ratio of flirting.
In the long term there can be some credit latitude scaled to the amount of time you've been together and how well she's maintaining her share of relationship maintenance over time. As a man, though, you can NEVER relax your vigilance toward keeping the relationship balanced. Deadbedrooms and AskMRP are full of examples of men who became complacent once settled in a LTR or marriage, to the point of starfish sex or none at all becoming the norm. This is NEVER cured by the man putting more benefits on the table in hopes of future improvement of her relationship performance. The correct move is to withdraw your commitment of resources and attention, and to only restore it in exchange for improvements after the fact. This is like declaring relationship bankruptcy when her credit is maxed out, so she can't borrow any more and must live within her (your) relationship means by paying cash as she goes forward. In finance and love, it can be amazing how reasonable a person can become when they suddenly have to behave responsibly by paying as they go.
Covert contracts and the sunk costs fallacy depend upon your anticipation of deferred rewards from her in exchange for current performance by you. Both of these amount to offering "relationship credit" that never becomes redeemable on favorable terms for you if at all. The book [No More Mr. Nice Guy](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_More_Mr._Nice_Guy_(book) is a good resource if you have a problem with these.
Sunk costs are an easy trap for men to fall into after overinvesting in the past and expecting rewards in the present, for example staying with a woman who has become frigid, selfish and bitchy, because of all the time and effort you've invested into the relationship. The correct way to manage this is to forget the prior "sunk" costs and only consider the future costs needed to maintain the relationship against benefits received, in deciding how much more to invest or cut losses.
Covert contracts arise from overinvesting in the present expecting rewards in the future. For example, thinking "She'll (behave better/love me more/go back to the Rockstar sex we used to know) if I just (spend more time, money, attention) on her.
Aligning your expectations on a cash basis (Present commitment from you for present affection/sex from her) systemically prevents these traps from becoming possible by eliminating the root cause: unearned and unjustified relationship credit.
According to Briffault's Law, any past benefit provided by the male does not provide for continued or future association from the female. Any agreement where the male provides a current benefit in return for a promise of future association is null and void as soon as the male has provided the benefit.
In practice, this means that overinvesting time, attention, gifts, validation etc in a woman because you HOPE she will give you affection and sex in the future is a very poor bet. It's an easy pattern for well-meaning men to fall into, for we are socialized to care for women. However, TRP knows this leads to blue balls and empty wallets, and the emergence of the dinner whore, women who troll dating sites just to get fancy dinners for free on first dates they have no intention of even kissing. She doesn't have a relationship credit counter adding points for your future; only offer benefits or rewards after she has delivered what you want.
Briffault's law can be beaten by offering your "relationship benefits" in exchange for tokens of her affection that she has ALREADY given you.
Delivering your rewards on credit flies in the face of what is known about motivation and behavioral change.
Nobody places a high value upon that which comes easily; conversely, even an insignificant or token investment can magnify the perceived value. Experiments and studies consistently show people are more satisfied with, and more posessive of the same thing, if there is some cost involved, as opposed to it being "free."
Operant Conditioning depends upon the feedback (payment or punishment) being delivered after the target behavior. This operates on a primitive level, whether it is a couple establishing boundaries, or teaching a child to behave, or teaching a chicken to play a toy piano. Timely rewards strongly reinforce behavior. Rewards delivered regardless of behavior/performance result in extinction of desired behaviors, and emergence of undesired results like complacency/demotivation, disobedience, and undesired/unexpected behaviors. Wives seldom start out as demanding shrews, and bedrooms don't start out dead; these are the culmination of many failed transactions/tests. With a mindset of paying cash as you go, consistently holding your partner to expectations before delivering rewards, a relationship has a chance of improving over time, or at least not devolving into the shitter, one unjustified concession at a time.
Cautions and caveats
Engage the sexual marketplace on a cash basis, and you'll avoid many of the pitfalls of relationships, from Briffault's Law, to Oneitis and Covert Contracts.