A few years ago I wrote a series of posts about happiness hormones and how they affect Daygame. That was all based on an interesting book I read: Habits of a Happy Brain by Loretta Breuning. Recently a friend recommended another, similar book, to me: The Molecule of More by Daniel Lieberman and Michael Long. That book is all about dopamine, and this post is going to try to summarise that and link it, where it can, to Daygame (as well as update the knowledge or those earlier posts wherever possible).
I’d recommend you read the book yourself and it’s now on my recommended reading page. In fact, there’s a whole section on politics and dopamine inside the book which I didn’t include here as I thought it wasn’t related enough to Daygame, so let that be some extra motivation. One thing struck me from that particular chapter: in my opinion, and this carries throughout the book, he authors try to explain all human behaviour through dopamine. They try to explain everything using that hormone and how it impacts other hormones. Whether that’s true or not, it feels as if they’re extrapolating a bit too much. For example, they’ll take studies on animals and then say something akin to “having higher dopamine therefore causes X in humans and so can be linked to ABC…” So take it with a pinch of salt, and take this post with a pinch of salt too.
There are two worlds we live in: the up world and the down world. The up world is the realm of the imaginary: it’s what we want and it’s where we live when we’re in the pursuit of better things. This is where dopamine operates. It’s the hormone of wanting.
In contrast there’s the down world: the here and now, where we appreciate what we have. What’s within arm’s reach. This is the world of serotonin, oxytocin (moreso in women), vasopressin (moreso in men), endorphins and endocannabinoids. The authors call these the “here and now” (H&N) hormones.
Dopamine pushes you to pursue a world beyond your grasp. It motivates you to obtain what you don’t have. Whether you’re reaching for the salt shaker, dieting down to a specific bodyfat % or walking the streets looking for sets, you’re motivated by dopamine.
But don’t confuse it to be “the pleasure molecule.” It’s not about enjoying what you have – getting pleasure out of it – it’s more about the anticipation. Dopamine does nothing for actually enjoying what you’ve obtained. When the goal is complete, it’s dopamine’s time to leave. When you’ve got that lay dopamine takes a bow and now for you to enjoy the moment you need to experience your H&N hormones.
Dopamine fires when we spot something that will aid in our survival or replication. It wakes us up to the thing and draws our eyes to it. This is called salience. Something that’s salient is noticeable. Daygamers would say that a girl swinging her hips is salient: we realise that our chances with such a girl are higher and so when we see it we release dopamine. That dopamine motivates us to approach her and contributes to a better vibe. That is part of a virtuous spiral: we spot a good set and release dopamine which motivates us into a better vibe; a better vibe improves our conviction which helps the seduction; the girl reacts positively and so we release more dopamine, etc. This is also helpful the describe the opposite: if you’re in the habit of approaching girls who give you a signal before you approach then if you approach without that signal you’ll lack the good feeling dopamine would have provided elsewhere.
This raises an interesting point: to learn how to be good at Daygame and dating the textbooks are only a starting point. They give you cues to look out for and actions to perform. In order for those cues and actions to become permanent you need dopamine. We all have mental models of the world, and being imagined they require dopamine to build. Then each time you experience dopamine your brain alters that model to better suit reality. In fact, since dopamine allows us to abstract better it is those who release more dopamine who are better at building and expanding these mental models.
Now some things stimulate more dopamine and quicker. Approaching and number closing a strong Yes girl will lead to more dopamine release than an unexciting one. The former is much more exciting and we understand it to be more beneficial to our sexual odds. Unfortunately after such a big high, you have a comparative low. You start to crave getting back to the good feeling. This can explain why, for some, the sensation of spiking a girl’s emotions on the street can become addictive. The same could be said for pursuing extreme sexual highs. At the point of addiction performing the action becomes more about avoiding the pain of not performing it. This is where Daygamer Guilt comes in: the “down” sensation of not going out to Daygame, even though you can logically see that it wouldn’t be worth your time due to rain or extreme cold or heat. And the risk of addiction is heavily linked to the ease of access. Many more people, as the authors point out, are addicted to alcohol and cigarettes compared to heroin. Now think about Daygame and what might trigger that dopamine release: perhaps even looking at a street?
I touched on this earlier: the amount of dopamine which is released and when. It seems to come from unexpected positives. You think it’s going to be good, but then it turns out to be really good. This is called “reward prediction error.” Every session of Daygame is like this: you expect for it to be fine, but every now and then you come across the set of glory. It’s that element of chance which stimulates dopamine. But the problem arises when the unexpected becomes expected. Just imagine a guy starts out Daygaming and he believes himself to be on the sexual scrapheap. Over time his mental model readjusts but he is constantly being surprised in a good way. Eventually he hits a ceiling: his skills can’t really get any better and he’s already at his potential SMV. At that point dopamine stops getting stimulated. The hormone that was driving him to get more and better can no longer take him any further.
This is in action on a jaunt: new city, sights, sounds, smells, etc interests your brain and you get an inkling that your chances are higher here. That leads to a positive spiral of vibe. In fact, those people who release more dopamine than average appear to have moved further and further from our evolutionary/ancestral homeland. The problem for Daygamers is that over time you revisit the city and it becomes the same old same old. Eventually you’ve been everywhere enough times and dopamine isn’t firing anymore. You’ve lost your mojo.
This is the same problem that serial monogamists get. They go from relationship to relationship and believe that the new person is perfect. This is the honeymoon period and lasts between 12 and 18 months. But when the dopamine fades away and you can’t live in the here and now (and enjoy those H&N hormones) you’re desperate to find someone new.
Daygamers seem to experience this universally once they hit a certain number of lays. They can no longer enjoy the sensation of achieving the lay and are immediately looking forward to the next one. Or better yet, the next big goal they have in mind. This is why I believe that any guy who wants to transition from being a player to settling down will need to go through a kind of depressive phase. The phase where they are no longer being stimulated by dopamine through progressive conquests but don’t have the ability to enjoy the here and now.
The authors point out that finding and obtaining something takes a very different skillset and hormones to keeping it and enjoying it. In fact, these two sets of hormones (dopamine vs the H&N) suppress each other.
Here’s a direct quote taken from the book:
“Human beings who have genes that produce high levels of dopamine have the highest number of sexual partners and the lowest age of first sexual intercourse.”
This fits into something I’ve been considering recently: that each person has an r/K set point. Maybe that point is defined by how much dopamine you release genetically. Much like how someone has a set point for their bodyfat % and homeostasis kicks in whenever they are too far above or below that level, I think each person has an r/K set point. I think that this might play a large role in deciding what kind of results we can expect from Daygame and whether we can form the kind of bonds which support long term relationships.
Leading on from that genetic point: some people seem to produce more dopamine and others less. For those who produce more they are motivated to work longer and harder – obsessively even – and leads them to always want more and more (money, fame, sexual partners, etc.). For these people it’s easy to get lost in the future, constantly planning out their next move. Have you ever not been able to sleep because you’re planning the perfect seduction for your new lead?
That’s because dopamine doesn’t get experienced in one way, there are two. First there’s the desire circuit. When dopamine interacts with this circuit in the brain we feel motivated towards instant gratification. You see the donut, you want the donut and so you eat the donut.
Then there’s the control circuit. This is the one for delayed gratification and motivates us to forego pleasure in the moment, and in return promises more in the future. The control circuit is “cold, calculating and ruthless” and allows us to dominate our environment. When we’re dieting to improve how we look we might feel hungry, for a moment, but then we imagine how we’ll look when the diet is over. At that point dopamine fires and we’re motivated to push on. When we’re doing a long Daygame session we might be tired and our legs ache but we keep on going, motivated by that set of glory. The control circuit leads us to obsess and optimise. It’s the people with higher dopamine release who activate this circuit more and will work longer and harder to achieve their goals even if the work is physically tiring. On the flipside those who tend to release less dopamine don’t want to put in the effort. Nothing in their environment – real or imagined – excites them.
Actions made under the control circuit tend to lack emotional content and the people who use this circuit more tend to show emotional detachment. To them, keeping the dopamine flowing by moving towards a goal is more important than anyone’s feelings or experiences in the here and now. These kinds of people likely have poor relationships because all that dopamine is suppressing the H&N hormones. We can easily see examples of this in the Game/red pill community where people become, for want of a better term, arseholes, to the men around them but put on an entirely different face to girls. Interacting with girls stimulates the dopamine, it’s moving them towards their goal, but not with other guys.
The danger for these people is that they become addicted to the buzz of activating the control circuit. They’re not so much “addicted to achievement” but moreso addicted to moving towards achievements. Once they’re there they’re already looking towards the next one because they physically can’t enjoy the moment. It’s always struck me that if someone with obsessive tendencies wasn’t obsessed with one thing, they’d simply be obsessed with something else.
Lastly I want to draw attention to something: foregoing pleasure now doesn’t elevate you morally. We like to say that r-selects are impulsive pleasure seekers: they tend to send their dopamine to the desire circuit. Then we like to paint the K selects as being the good guys. The thing is that the K selects are more involved with the H&N hormones. It’s like how the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference; these two types of people aren’t opposites: they’re perpendicular. If you’re the sort of person who obsesses over things and activates the control circuit you’re still a slave to dopamine, just in a different way. The authors put this succinctly: the impulsive pleasure seeker, detached planner and creative genius are all highly dopaminergic and prefer abstract thinking to sensory experience.
What’s the answer then: in my opinion it’s to find the balance. There are dangers to dopamine and there are many benefits. We wouldn’t be here today without dopamine but if we use it too much then there are dangers to it. We need to learn how to strive for our goals and enjoy them once we’re there.