In this country, you gotta get the money first. Once you get the money, then you get the power. Once you’ve got the money and the power, then you get the woman.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve been sold this line. Tony Montana delivered it in Scarface, but it’s everywhere. It’s the plot of most ads directed at men: you spend the money and a hot girl throws herself at you. In films the underdog wins the girl by proving himself stronger and wealthier than she thought. In army recruitment, girls love the power signalled by the uniform. It’s repeated in wholesome-sounding cultural narratives, where a real man needs to be able to defend and provide for his wife. It’s repeated in less-than-wholesome ones, where frustrated guys blame their dating problems on women who only go for wealth and power. It’s the simplistic evolutionary psychology story where males fight over resources they then use to impress the females.
There is an underlying truth in Tony’s line: we all want money and power, in one form or another. But it’s his first words that I find really interesting: ‘In this country.’ It’s kind of funny that Tony himself should provide us with a reason to not follow his advice, but here it is.
What is Tony Montana’s country? What was his time? What was his world? It’s the US, or specifically the Miami underworld of 1980 (or even 1929, if you focus on the novel that inspired the film). In that world, women either did not work or mostly worked in low-paid jobs with few career development opportunities. While they could run for office, in 1980 there were only 16 women in the House and exactly one in the Senate (3.7% and 1% respectively). At 25, an unmarried woman was already a spinster and likely found it harder to access many social circles and opportunities. The law was way less effective than a husband at protecting women from harassment and rape. Divorce, although legal, was still very much frowned upon and a divorced woman was likely to find herself in a precarious social and financial situation. The contraceptive pill which allows women control over their bodies and power to decide to focus on their careers rather than babies, has only been available without restrictions for a couple of years.
Long story short, Tony Montana’s world was a world where women had little money and less power. So what can a woman who doesn’t want to be poor and powerless do?
Find a man. Ideally a rich and powerful man. And this is basically Tony’s life hack: you get a woman by giving her something she can’t get herself.
The question is:
Do you live in Tony Montana’s world?
The world has changed tremendously over the last few decades. There are still many places where women have it worse than in 1980s Miami, but I’d wager that if you’re reading this, in your world women have access to well-paid jobs, are much better represented in politics, face significantly less social condemnation for divorce or never marrying in the first place, have easy access to birth control, and can increasingly count on justice if they are harassed.
My guess is: in your world, if a woman wants wealth and power, she can get it herself, thank you very much.
If you act like you lived in Tony Montana’s world, you simply did not evolve with the times. You might find others who are stuck in the past but their pool is shrinking, because this is how evolution works: if you do not adjust to the changing environment, you select yourself out of the gene pool. And I don’t even want to begin any discussions on whether these times are better or those, if we have enough equality or not, if Tony Montana was ever right and if he was, was that a good thing, and so on. The point is, the change is huge and even if it were possible to go back to the old world, paddling back history might take you as long as it took to get us here. Do you personally have 42 years to spare before you can start dating?
The world has moved on and so must you, or you will be left behind, with the lobsters.
Don’t scar your face
If Tony’s advice is no longer valid now, what is? How can you ‘get a woman’?
On the one hand, you can’t. That’s because the great majority of women no longer think of themselves as objects that can be got. They think of themselves as people (shocking!), and thus they simply don’t have a price tag. You can’t pay or force your way into getting a woman any more than to getting anything else that doesn’t and shouldn’t have a price tag, like justice, education, or respect. If you try to buy or brute-force those things, you will get something, but it will be fake. It will not be the real thing. And if you find a woman you can get with wealth and power these days, you will not get a real relationship: you will most likely get a gold digger, a spoiled princess, or a very quick way to find yourself used and left behind. Check out this article for some good examples of what I’m talking about. I am guessing that this is not what you really want. (Incidentally, if sex is all you want, then, by all means, go buy the services of a woman sex worker, no judgement on you or her — but that’s different)
On the other hand, you can — just not ‘get’ women but ‘attract’ them. Tony’s line implies that once you have money and power, a woman will magically just appear. It’s pretty daft, really — you might as well expect to magically have a great job the second you graduate. In real life, there are no guarantees and nobody owes you anything, but you can certainly make yourself into a more attractive employee or partner. And oddly enough, the gist of Tony’s advice stands: you still attract a woman by offering her something she wants but can’t get by herself. Just that it’s not wealth and power anymore. So what do women want from men?
Shockingly, it’s pretty much the same as what men want from women: a good relationship and/or good sex. It’s almost as if we were all just people!
Women love sex as much as men do and they are just as keen to have a great time. But what if you’d you like a girl to do it with you? Sure, good looks will help, but there is something far more important. It’s simple, really. You offer her what she wants: a great time. Let’s break it down.
Firstly, you signal clearly that you will not give her a shit time. Why would anyone want to have a shit time? You wouldn’t want to sleep with a girl who is aggressive, tries to manipulate you, or forces you to do things you don’t want — and without lube! That’s an instant ‘no’ from me. Sadly, women are very used to guys doing all of the above and more, so you need to find ways to make it abundantly clear that this is not what you would do. I know if feels rotten and you shouldn’t have to prove your innocence, but women are totally justified in being overcautious, and you have the hosts of shitty men who hurt them to thank for that.
Secondly, once she feels safe and you’re out of the ‘instant no’ territory, you need to work on showing that you can give her a good time. That’s a subtle game — don’t bring a spreadsheet listing the impressive number of satisfactory intercourses you had! Flirt, laugh, speak and act with confidence, show interest in what she wants and be attentive. All of this is a promise that sex with you will be fun, that you will not bore her and that her experience matters to you. If she feels you don’t care if she has a good time in conversation, why would she think you’ll care if she has a good time in bed?
Thirdly and most importantly: deliver on what you’ve promised. If you do end up in bed with her, be a man of your word. Do not make her feel shit, and if you unwittingly do something bad, acknowledge it, apologise and have the decency to let her decide what to do next. Do all you can to give her as awesome a time as you promised: pleasure her, tease her, give her what she wants and if you don’t know how to do any of the above, ask the expert: her.
Finally, learn and improve. Even if it didn’t go well, even if you screwed up, you can learn to be better next time. If it was awesome, you can focus on the best parts and make it even more awesome next time. And if she says she wants you to do something differently, don’t treat this as an attack on your skill — it’s a learning opportunity. She is literally handing you a chance to become a better lover, and thus actually increasing your chances of attracting her and other women in the future. What a great gift!
And in case you think this all sounds quite one-sided and places a lot of responsibility on you as a man — absolutely do expect all of the above from every woman you date!
When you choose a partner, you don’t exactly focus on the same things as when picking a one night stand. There is good research showing that men and women look for the same main things in a long term partner: someone reliable, someone who will support you, someone who will make you laugh, who is a good lover, who will inspire you, who is mentally resilient, who will not be too high maintenance, who will pull their own weight… Basically, we all want to be with a good person who has got a grip. (That often doesn’t work out, of course, but it’s not because we actively seek out the bad ones, we’re just mistaken in our search for the good ones.)
The important thing about being a good person is that it is an end in itself not a means to some other end. This is what all the ‘nice guys’ get wrong. If you are only being nice because you want women to date you, then you’re not really a good person, are you? You’re pretending to be one. Being a ‘nice guy’ is just a façade, a means to your real end. It’s not only lying, it’s also ineffective — this trick might have worked a few decades ago, but by now most women can see right through it. You can’t fake it, you need to be it.
Why wouldn’t you want to be it, anyway? What, if you won’t find love, will you say: ‘damn, I became a better person with a stronger grip on life for nothing, what a waste of time’?
And sure, women will have some bigger and smaller personal preferences when choosing a partner. They might prefer guys with similar political views, similar hobbies, a certain education, and so on. That’s OK. People are different and there is no way to match with everyone. But you don’t have to. You may be inspired to satisfy some such preferences if you think it makes you grow as a person, but there are many enough people in the world to find someone whose preferences you will fit well enough. So don’t sweat the little things, focus on the big picture.
Finally, women might have some petty preferences: for a given body shape, height, morning routine habits, music taste, and so on. That is also OK. You shouldn’t worry about them too much, because in the grand scheme of things they don’t really matter. If you found a wonderful person who ticks all the boxes but is a bit shorter than you like, you’d be an utter fool to discard them. And if you are discarded for such a petty reason — good riddance, you saved yourself dating an utter fool.
The New Line
Let’s piece this together. Recall the spirit of Tony Montana’s line: you attract women by offering them something they want but can’t get without you. It is not wealth and power, not anymore — since history rarely goes backward, it will probably never be. And frankly, good riddance. I certainly don’t want to be constantly fighting and proving my strength just to deserve some affection.
So what should a modern line be? How about:
In this country, you gotta become a good person who’s got a grip first. Learn what women want in sex and get good at it, too. Once you’re a good person and good at sex, then you’ll be attractive to women.
Is that a life hack? Not really. The truth is: you can’t hack it. No shortcuts, no magic pills. You need to actually go the whole way. But in the end, you’re a better person, so I can’t see how it’s not worth it.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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