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Dr. NerdLove @DrNerdLove
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Right so, some thoughts about one of the biggest mental stumbling blocks that interferes with dating on a surprising number of levels.

The Just World Fallacy. /1
The short version of The Just World fallacy is that good things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people.

Slightly longer and more in depth version is here:… /2
You may have seen a twisted variation of this on Twitter recently with the whole “if someone abused you, it’s because God has a plan for you” bullshit that went viral recently.

“Sexual/emotional/physical abuse is good, actually…” /3
In this case, it’s a way of trying to address The Problem of Evil (…).

In dating, however, we get similar examples of how the Just World fallacy screws people up. /4
The most obvious example are Nice Guys. They believe that because they are Nice, they are supposed to be rewarded. Sometimes literally - the way that, as @JohnDiesattheEn put it, Daniel-san gets a girlfriend AND a trophy at the end of Karate Kid. /5
Now, the obvious issue is that Nice Guys, well, aren’t.… /6
Now there’s a whole lot to dig into when it comes to Nice Guys (and I have…) but a lot comes down to a fucked up form of nominative determinism. What they do must be right because they are Nice, end of thought. /7
But then they see the Assholes getting the girl. Never mind the they don’t know anything about that person or the relationship between the two.

Asshole may actually be an asshole. He may not be. But he’s not The Nice Guy because he’s got The Nice Guy’s reward. /8
This leads to a lot of guys getting twisted up because the System has failed! Where’s their reward for being Nice??! Why’s the Asshole getting the reward? This isn’t just!

And instead of a moment of stunning awareness, they decide it’s the SYSTEM that’s wrong.
A lot of incel beliefs stem from this. Instead of realizing the system is bullshit and non-existent they believe they have failed the system.

You may recognize this “the system doesn’t fail, you fail the system” as showing up in a LOT of places. /10
But Nice Guys aren’t the *only* way this shows up in dating.

You see it just as often when relationships go bad. Cheating, abuse, etc.

More often people’s first response: “What did you do, Ray?” /11
Here’s where it gets complicated in ways that make people uncomfortable.

First are the folks who will blame, say, a philandering spouse, on the person being cheated on.

S/he must not have been satisfying them, didn’t take care of themselves etc. /12
Why is it their fault? Because Cheating Is Bad and bad things happen to people who deserve them, so clearly they must deserve this.

(Put a pin in this, we’ll come back to it.) /13
But more often than not, the person who’s doing the blaming… is the person who’s being wronged. “it must be my fault that they hit me/yell at me/cheat on me.”

Why? Because bad things happen to bad people therefor… /14
If that sounds like abuser talk, well, that’s where you’re right.

Abusers use this. A LOT. They may not know the term for the fallacy they’re hitting, but they know getting someone to believe that they’re at fault for their own abuse keeps them compliant. /15
When you believe that bad things happen to people who deserve them, then you believe that you deserve the bad things that happen to you.

And if you don’t have a reason immediately to hand, you *will* find something to point to because welcome to the human experience. /16
And it gets especially insidious because humans have an inherent negativity bias. We believe negative thoughts and feelings more than positive ones. It takes 5 positive experiences to outweigh a negative one. /17
Now here’s where it gets especially twisted. Because as much as it crops up when someone is cheated on, it *also* crops up when someone cheats.

Because part of the fallacy is that only Bad People do Bad Things. /18
This is where things get difficult because it gets into moral grays.

Monogamy is difficult. It’s made more difficult by the belief that it’s supposed to be easy and effortless and intimately tied to love. /19
But it isn’t. Monogamy is the promise not to have sex with anyone else. It doesn’t stop you from wanting to.

And you aren’t going to stop wanting to because welcome to being a mammal. /20
The Just World Fallacy causes problems in this case of the moral absolutes. Someone who cheats must be a bad person because they do a bad thing.

Just as importantly: because they are a bad person, they must suffer for wha they’ve done. /21
It’s understandable. We want to see wrongdoers punished. When we don’t see it happen, we get upset.

Which leads to an interesting dilemma: what happens when punishing the wrongdoer *also* punishes someone else? /22
This comes up when, for example, someone has a one-off encounter with someone other than their exclusive partner in a moment of weakness.

It’s a thing they regret and don’t intend to again. What do they do now? /23
To a lot of folks, the answer is “confess and take your punishment.” Because hey, bad person must pay.

Except, if it’s truly a one-off, this causes harm to the other partner. The other partner now has to live with this knowledge. /24
Everyone *says* that tHEY would want to know in that hypothetical situation.

They rarely say that *after* it happens to them. Because even knowing that it will never happen again and it was a mistake, they can’t NOT know it. /25
Now a relationship that might have survived, even thrived, gets damaged.

This creates a conflict. The person cheating did something bad so therefore they must be punished. But what did the partner who was cheated on do to deserve the harm THEY are receiving? /26
There are other examples of this too; the primary caregiver of an invalid who steps outside the relationship because they still have needs. A person in a now sexless relationship who - for a multitude of reasons - doesn't want to end the relationship. /27
These are times when cheating is the Less Wrong or Less Bad option. But if cheating is bad and bad things happen to bad people, then where does this fall? /28
We can even circle back around to The Asshole/Nice Guy divide. Assholes are supposed to have bad things happen to them. But what does it mean when it doesn't? What does it mean if the dude continues to *be* an asshole and never suffers consequences for it? /29
This is especially true if their partner continues to stay with them *despite* them being an asshole. Does this mean that they're "rewarding" them for their assholery? So does that make *them* bad too? /30
You can see why this causes problems. The Just World fallacy is an attempt to apply moral reasoning to things that are inherently random or amoral. We get upset and angry and twisted out of shape because we perceive injustice being done. Somehow. /31
We end up punishing ourselves for imagined or invented sins, or getting angry that the sins of others AREN'T being punished sufficiently. Or worse, that sinners are being "rewarded" by *not* being punished. /32
We make ourselves miserable and angry because it's easier to believe in a universe that rewards the "good" and punishes the "bad" and then get hoist by our own petards because we are being "punished" somehow. /33
(This is why I hate shit like The Secret. And let me tell you I *really* went off on someone who wanted to tell my dad about The Secret when he had cancer. Because apparently he was dying because he just wasn't WISHING TO LIVE hard enough.) /34
Whether you believe in a higher power or not, the fact of the matter is that humans are complex, complicated creatures, full of internal contradictions and inconsistencies. We contain multitudes, which bely the existence of perfectly consistent universal rules. /35
Good people do bad things, bad people do good things and folks will often not get their rewards - just or otherwise -for their actions. Which is why it's important to be understanding. To be compassionate. To recognize that shit is rarely simple. /36
The sooner we figure that out, the easier it is to be compassionate - to others and to ourselves. The more we can develop that compassion, the better we can make each others lives.

To quote a wise woman: it's chaos. Be kind. /37
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk. /fin
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