Having considered myself a Man Going His Own Way for some years now, one of the consistent underlying themes I have noticed in the occasional (and in most cases pointless and unnecessary) flareups between Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) and Men’s Human Rights Advocates (MHRAs) seems to revolve, consciously or unconsciously, around whether or not intimate relations between men and women (boyfriend/girlfriend, cohabitation, producing children, etc.) is actually possible, functional, or desirable in the modern world. These conversations are rendered more difficult because many foolish people try to guilt or shame MGTOWs into such relationships. Such guilting or shaming is more than pointless, it’s genuinely abusive of men who’ve made a rational choice for self-preservation. I cannot gainsay any man who says “fuck you” to people who visit such abuse and scorn upon their heads.
That said, if we get past the nonsense and think of time horizons 5, 10, 20, 50 years into the future, it should be worth considering why intimate relationships between men and women might be a desirable thing, and what social attitudes about such relationships would have to change–culturally, not just legally–before a healthy intimacy between the sexes can reappear as a commonplace thing. And I think if we look to other cultures and to ancient history, we can start to see what that might look like.
Feminism promotes a neurotic vision of what constitutes true love. It takes its model directly from the Age of Feudalism which saw vassals bowing down and kissing the hands of Lords. In the 12th century that model served as the basis for a new kind of love in which men were to play the role of vassal to women who played the role of an idealized Lord. C.S. Lewis, back in the middle of the 20th Century, referred to this historical revolution as “the feudalisation of love,” and stated that it has left no corner of our ethics, our imagination, or our daily life untouched. “Compared with this revolution,” states Lewis, “the Renaissance is a mere ripple on the surface of literature.” 
Not only has this feudalistic notion of love permeated almost every corner of the globe today, it continues to be vigorously promoted by both feminists and traditionalists alike. The love we are referring to is what Hollywood, romance novels, and other media refer to as “romantic love,” the fantasy to which every modern man and woman pledges blind obeisance. Here are two descriptions of romantic love from modern scholars:
“Everyone has heard of courtly love, and everyone knows it appeared quite suddenly at the end of the eleventh century at Languedoc. The sentiment, of course, is love, but love of a highly specialized sort, whose characteristics may be enumerated as Humility, Courtesy, and the Religion of Love. The lover is always abject. Obedience to his lady’s lightest wish, however whimsical, and silent acquiescence in her rebukes, however unjust, are the only virtues he dares to claim. Here is a service of love closely modelled on the service which a feudal vassal owes to his lord. The lover is the lady’s ‘man’. He addresses her as midons, which etymologically represents not ‘my lady’ but ‘my lord’. The whole attitude has been rightly described as ‘a feudalisation of love’. This solemn amatory ritual is felt to be part and parcel of the courtly life.”
C.S. Lewis wrote that many decades ago; I’m not sure “everyone” knows it today. We ought to remember his words, because in the long sweep of human history, what we think has been with us forever is something people only a few generations ago knew to be mostly an artificial, idealized notion.
“The knight’s relationship to the Lady is thus the relationship of the subject-bondsman, the vassal, to his feudal Master-Sovereign who subjects him to senseless, outrageous, impossible, arbitrary, capricious ordeals. It is precisely in order to emphasize the non-spiritual nature of these ordeals that Lacan quotes a poem about a Lady who demanded that her servant literally lick her arse: the poem consists of the poet’s complaints about the bad smells that await him down there (one knows the sad state of personal hygiene in the Middle Ages), and about the imminent danger that, as he is fulfilling his ‘duty’, the Lady will urinate on his head.” 
Feminism’s mission today is largely the promulgation of this “love,” and it is right that men learn to reject it, as MGTOWS and MHRAs are doing. It is a “love” that dehumanizes males by turning them into masochistic servants, while simultaneously dehumanizing women by idealizing them to the extent that their humanity is obliterated and replaced with an image of divinity. It’s a recipe for disaster on both sides; the occasional lucky couple for whom this works is about as rare as a lightning strike, with no evidence that even that lucky few are really happier or more productive than anyone else.
When I consider this disastrous state of affairs that has lead men to boycott relationships, a few questions arise; are we being too rash in our rush from love, and if yes is there a better model, a new model, or perhaps an older model for relationships that we have forgot?
The field of attachment science concludes that an absence of close and consistent human attachment causes children to literally wither and die, refusing to thrive despite being provided with clothing, food and an adequate number of toys. Likewise adults literally commit suicide to escape feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially after a relationship separation. Even if we don’t end up suiciding from loneliness we have to ask ourselves if the absence of an intimate relationship in our lives leaves us limping, or somehow unfulfilled? Some would suggest we can fill our intimacy void with friendships, but this leads to a further question of whether there is an adequate formulation of friendship that can satisfy our needs – a relationship that doesn’t rely on the usual vassal and lord model at the core of romantic love.
In ancient cultures friendship was a more lofty aspiration than it is today. It was synonymous with love and it often involved sexual intimacy. In Ancient Greek, the same word was used for “friend” and “lover.” In our culture we have succeeded in separating friendship from the category we call love, and excised all trace of sex from friendships. Today when we say, “They are just good friends” or “she’s only a friend” we are indicating the absence of both intimate love and sex.
But to older classical cultures, friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of the different kinds of loves, and for that reason I wonder whether it’s worth reintroducing it here as a guide to relationships between red-pill men and women?
Suppose that rather than running from intimacy we were to demote our idea of “romantic” love from its pedestal, and elevate friendship-love in its place. Suppose also that we steal back sexual attraction and sexual intercourse from the neurotic clutches of “romantic” love, and allow it once again to be part and parcel of friendship if and when relationships call for it.
Before we consider elevating friendship as a replacement for romantic love we need first to detail precisely what it is and how it looks in lived experience, and to that end here are three salient points of definition.
Friendship is based on shared interests
Friendship is based entirely on things people have in common, like some shared insight, interest or taste. It might be cooking, sport, religion, politics, sex, or gardening, and in the best friendships there occurs a handsome combination of these. No friendship can arise without shared interests, because there would be nothing for the friendship to be about. Furthermore, that “something” is generally located outside oneself and one’s relationship – at the football stadium, church, chess-board, or stamp collection. Friendship differs in this respect markedly from “romantic” love in which couples perpetually focus on each other and talk to each other about their love.
Friends hardly ever talk about their friendship. C.S. Lewis captures this with his remark that friends stand side-by-side rather than face-to-face:
“Friends are not primarily absorbed in each other. It is when we are doing things together that friendship springs up – painting, sailing ships, praying, philosophizing, fighting shoulder to shoulder. Friends look in the same direction. Lovers look at each other – that is, in opposite directions.”
This kind of friendship, this love, is not something we can have with anyone we meet. We can no more choose in advance who we are going to be close friends with than we can choose what sort of skin colour we are going to be born with. Friendship arises organically when we discover that a previously casual acquaintance, or perhaps a new person we meet, shares significant interests with us; “What? You too? I thought I was the only one!” The pleasure derived from cooperation in that shared interest, and of getting to know them through that activity, provides an avenue for deep bonding and human attachment.
Friendship is based in personal authenticity
Friendship is based on true identities and interests, not on some narrow and dehumanising role we might play. Friendship invites you to speak out about your interests in order to find potential areas of commonality. This is not allowed in so-called “romantic” love lest your interests threaten the narrow feudalistic fantasy. In “romantic” love the main “shared interest” is that script which insists the man play the role of masochistic utility, and the woman an idealised goddess. It is an objectification of both parties.
Friendship is not based on the feudal model: not vassals and overlords, but partners in crime.
Friendship is highly compatible with sex
Sex does not belong to romantic love – it belongs anywhere you want it to belong. Modern culture has begrudgingly allowed for this possibility under the risqué concept of “friends with benefits,” but to the ancients it was not daring at all, it was perfectly normal. Friendship also allows for a kind of quasi-romance–or dare I say, a possibly more authentic romance? Have you not had a good friend give you a gift, take you out for a meal, or to the movies? Sex and romantic gestures need not remain colonised by feudalistic notions of romantic love alone.
Sexual attraction and desire also need to be put in their place. They may generate some chemistry and may be the first thing that attracts you to a person, but like the shiny trinket that catches your eye at the shopping mall, you will first stare at it in wonder, maybe have a feel, and then decide whether you really want to take that thing home and share your life with it. Friendship is much the same, and if a person you meet has little in common you will be inclined to leave them on the shelf and move on, despite their sexual attractiveness.
Romantic-love and friendship-love are clearly opposed relationships with opposing motives. A woman might say: “I don’t want to be friends with my husband because it will take all the drama and intensity out of our marriage.” That is true enough, friendship does take some of the neurotic drama and intensity out of a relationship. But it also takes away the masochism and narcissism, and replaces that sickness with something human and real.
One of the worst-kept secrets about married couples is that they often treat their friends with more kindness, compassion and generosity than they ever do for each other. When best friends are together they are charming, engaging, helpful and courteous, but when they return home to their spouses they appear resentful, angry and uncooperative with each other. Hardly ever do we see this pattern reversed, where people are horrible to friends and at their best with their long term romantic love partners.
Friendship-love not only existed throughout the world before “romantic” love was invented, but it remains active in some pockets of culture today – for instance in China and India. Author Robert Johnson, for instance, writes about the presence of friendship between couples in India, recounting a Hindu marriage rite in which the bride and groom make the solemn but hopeful statement, “You will be my best friend.”
Johnson goes further, telling that “In a traditional Hindu marriage, a man’s commitment to his wife does not depend on his staying ‘in love’ with her. Since he was never ‘in love’ in the first place, there is no way he can fall ‘out of love’. His relationship to his wife is based on loving her, not on being ‘in love’ with the ideal he projects onto her. His relationship is not going to collapse because one day he falls ‘out of love,’ or because he meets another woman who catches his projection. He is committed to a woman and a family, not to a projection.” 
Friendship-love appeared long before “romantic” love and it worked. The “romantic” version of love is full of narcissism, corruption, entitlement and despair, where dreams collapse and lives are shattered. On the other hand go ask the happily married octogenarian couple who their best friend is – they will look at each other and smile knowing the answer has been beside them for sixty years. Our lives, loves and families fare much better when we base them on this very human kind of love called friendship.
With freindship MGTOWs have an opportunity to truly go their own way while keeping the option of healthy intimate relationships with either sex alive. Having your cake and eating it too. That would be my suggestion of how we might cure the malaise.
I once again note that the breakdown in relations between men and women has been painful, and men have suffered the most in this I would think; in the current socio-political climate, marriage and even cohabitation is like jumping out of an aeroplane with a chute you’re not even sure is going to open. And all change can’t simply be political. Still, if we are ever to look forward to a cultural change that might make for a new era of improved relations between the sexes, ditching these feudalistic attitudes about “romantic love,” and restoring the ancient tradition of seeing intimate friendship being the highest ideal for a relationship, would probably by a major step in the right direction culturally. This will require a shift in the attitudes of men and women alike, but the evidence for this being possible is strong; we’ve done it before, and we still see it in some cultures today. It’s not impossible for human beings to think and act this way. So can we return to a culture where that’s the more normal way of thinking? I’d like to believe that possible for us today, or at least in the future.
 C.S. Lewis, Friendship, chapter in The Four Loves, HarperCollins, 1960
 C.S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love, Oxford University Press, 1936
 Slavoj Zizek, The Metastases of Enjoyment, Verso Press, 2005
 Robert A. Johnson, Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love, HarperCollins, 1983
 Robert C. Solomon, Love: Emotion, Metaphor, Empathy, Prometheus Books, 1990
 Marcus Tullius Cicero, Cicero’s Essays on Old Age and Friendship, Translation Publishers, 1926
 Lorraine S. Pangle, Aristotle and the Philosophy of Friendship, Cambridge University Press, 1986
 Irving Singer, The Nature of Love: Plato to Luther, University of Chicago Press, 1966
 Irving Singer, The Nature of Love: Courtly and Romantic, MIT Press, 2009
 Alan Soble, Eros, Agape and Philia: Readings in the Philosophy of Love, Paragon House, 1998
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