A lot of young men today lack role models. Even the shrinking proportion of men with fathers in their lives sometimes witness bad examples or receive poor advice: be yourself, it will just happen, one day a girl will like you as much as you like her, etc. Sometimes the father is silent and forlorn while the mother poisons her son with this garbage.

Why do so many of our fathers have so little sensible advice for us on the issue of love and relationships? The answer isn’t that our fathers, if present, have been emasculated (though they may have been). It isn’t that they are terrified of standing up to their wives (thought that might be a factor). It isn’t that they are fools, nor are they trying to turn us all into forty-year-old virgins who will not burden them with grandchild babysitting duties.

The reason the baby boomer generation has so little to offer us is much simpler: they lack salient life experience. How is it, you might ask, that a man in his fifties or sixties could lack life experience? If he has nothing else, surely he has that. He does, but it is not our life experience. He lived in the past—a foreign country.

The Old World

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If your father courted and married in the 1970s and 80s, he was a young man in a world where people communicated face to face or over the telephone. Reassuring a lady’s parents was essential. Feminism was still a fringe idea like Gaia or vegetarianism. “Game” was something involving a bat and ball.

Your father grew up in a world where being a provider was essential—not a strategy so much as a basic requirement for a male to even enter the mating game. Unemployed men, criminals, and assorted members of the underclass mostly consorted with mentally unstable or wayward women. Today many women are mentally unstable and wayward—drug dealer game or pimp game will get you much further than middle manager game.

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In your father’s recent world, a man needed a steady job in order to support his family. It would be irresponsible to marry without one, and it would be irresponsible for any lady to marry a man lacking such security. A “steady job” was one that might be expected to last for decades, probably for a lifetime. Today, a secure job is a two-year contract or a one-year contract with a good prospect of renewal. How does one bring up a stable family under such circumstances? Your father doesn’t know. We are in uncharted waters.

When your father strutted the streets of love, a productive, law-abiding man was a figure of respect. He got things done, kept the lights on and made the world safe for women and children. The fellow could hold his head high as he strode past the playground, not thinking for a moment that someone might eye him suspiciously and supervise their toddler with care until the intruder was out of sight.

He was not blamed for all the ills in the world: black disadvantage, domestic violence, war, and poverty. Rather, he, like all men, was seen as the driving force behind the development of the modern world, and for all the exciting improvements still to come.

Electronic Courtship

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Your father dated back when the word “tinder” was usually followed by the word “box.” He did not compete with every other man in his city for an evening with a moderately attractive woman and a chance of never-see-you-again lovemaking. He would have laughed if he read about such a practice in a paperback science fiction novel. Your father never posted degrading, semi-naked photographs of himself flexing his gym-trained, bronzed muscles in front of the bathroom mirror, trying to get the angle just right so that the toilet paper behind him can’t be seen.

Your father didn’t write an arrogantly flippant online profile in order to meet your mother. He didn’t receive nude selfies prior to their first date, either. He didn’t meet her in a chain cafe, asking nervously, “Are you Tracy?” He didn’t neg her or notice DHVs, DLVs and IOIs. And he probably didn’t take her home two hours later, spank her and call her a whore because it was the only way she could climax.

The Ladies Of Yore

Your father dated at a time when most young women were, by default, attractive.  They were slim, had long hair and dressed in a feminine manner. He is therefore unqualified to offer you advice for finding a mate in a world where every other woman is obese. When he looks around today and sees all the girls who have disfigured themselves with ill-considered piercings and childish tattoos, he might realize that things have changed a bit. 

Still, what could he offer you other than a lame, “Just find a good one?” He has never dipped his toes in these waters, and let’s hope the poor fellow never does.

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When your father made it to fourth base, did he nervously wait by his phone afterwards for the “you-didn’t-rape-me text?”  Of course not. In the rare occurrence that a one-night-stand did occur, he sauntered off without a care. No secret video recordings or paper trails for him. If a troubled girl did make a false allegation, she could only make it to people she knew. She lacked the technology to share the defamation with the whole world. And if she did attempt to do so, responsible friends and family members would insist that she contact the police instead.

Your father dated women who were virgins or who had only slept with one or two partners before, probably their steady ex-boyfriends. He dated women who generally wanted to get married within a few years, stay home to have a few kids, and then perhaps work part-time once the little ones were in school. These were women who appreciated their husband’s role, and who were appreciated in turn for their own role.

Your father did not date the kind of women you date—women who have slept with 20-100 men, who have had many, many one-night-stands, and who usually have a couple fuck-buddies on call at any given time. He did not date women who are alpha widows to DJs, thugs, bikers, married CEOs and (yecch) drummers. He has not enjoyed the delights of looking for love among the career women who have been told all their life that they don’t need a man and that husbands are a bumbling, absurd nuisance. Women who become desperate to settle down and start a family with a hapless fallback when nearing middle age. Your father probably never dated a woman older than twenty-seven.

The Big D

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Finally, your father married at a time when divorce was a new-fangled and disgraceful thing, something that respectable people didn’t do. Today, women are inundated with divorce porn and the practice is common. It is mostly initiated by women. Divorce is the biggest financial risk you face aside from complete and permanent disability.

Your children may be taken from you, to be seen only under strict conditions every second weekend. This is the one thing your father is likely to know about, but what does he know about dating or marrying in an environment when these risks are well understood from the outset?

Harden Up

On a more cheerful note, your father may not have had the opportunity to travel to greener pastures. He lacked the massive online resources that a man today can draw upon for advice, networking and everything else that used to be done locally and on a smaller scale.  Further, you may be more sexually experienced that he is.

So don’t go too hard on your dad.  Perhaps he did the best he could.  He just doesn’t understand how utterly the basic building blocks of human society have shifted in the last few decades. The path of love is one that we young men must walk without the aid of maps or guides. And if we have sons or grandsons, by the time they are young adults the world may have moved on again.

We will one day have to use our wisdom to recognize which of our life experiences are useful to them and which are dangerously archaic.

Read More: The World Will Teach You