Mailbag: Candy and Coins

I’ve had many emails about my Candy and Coins post, and I’ve picked two of the most in-depth discussions to share here.

The first is from PP, who writes asking about the relationship between the “Candy and Coins” model and general social skills. He then asks what to do in the case of being in a bad mood.

The second is from Bliss, a good friend of mine in real life, who is the guy mentioned in the original post in the sentence starting, “So my friend is excellent with women…” This “guest post” is definitely worth a read!

Right at the end I discuss punishment via withdrawing coins, which I forgot to put in the original post.


PP writes:

saw this post and realized that, in a way, I already apply something that resembles your model as a way of socializing. To describe it briefly, I simply try to give whatever response is appropriate to my social environment. If its a situation where I would be expected to give a polite greeting and move along I keep it brief. If it seems apparent that someone has something they want to talk about, I ask questions about it, and conversely I answer questions when people seem interested in me. when people appear in the mood to joke around, I act accordingly.

Yeah man, it’s an integral part of just “good social skills”. I would say most people have a grasp of it in some way, and apply it in this way.

The model serves a few good purposes though.

Firstly, it spells it all out for those less socially able. There is a significant demographic finding my site who really struggle socially. This can come from one or a combination of the following things:

  • Social anxiety. A key part of overcoming social anxiety, for me, was learning “what to do” — having a default plan — in as many situations as possible, so I no longer feared being on the back foot if or when they arose. The “Candy and Coins” model gets guys process-orientated and thinking about their part of the exchange, rather than freaking out about what might happen. It’s proactive instead of reactive.
  • Being emotionally “out of sync” with the general population. For example, at school, when guys roughhoused, made fun of each other, or played practical jokes, I never understood that. When girls were mean-spirited little cuntbags, to each other, and to everyone, I never understood that. Of course, I now know they were just practising Circuit II so they could become the next generation of Homo sapiens non-contributors. (I like Koanic’s description of the introvert’s typical experience of early life, portrayed through the medium of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic 🙂 ). Furthermore, remember how kids at school used to laugh at stuff the teacher said, all at the same time, like it was some big obvious in-joke? I never knew what the fuck they were laughing at. I saw a documentary the other day where they were filming inside a secondary school classroom where they had a guest speaker talking about something or other, and it reminded me of that because the kids were laughing at stuff and I still have no idea know what they were laughing at. This total miscomprehension continued into adult life, giving me the impression for the first 20+ years of my life that I was on some alien planet. At least with the “Candy and Coins” model, if you’re emotionally out of sync, you can figure out via experience and logic what other people want in typical situations and just give it to them without investing too much of yourself in any interaction.
  • Being unemotional, emotionally closed-off, or lacking empathy. In any of these cases you may have trouble sensing the tone of a situation or responding intuitively. “Candy and Coins” means you can just copy the exchanges of people who are already successful, noticing which “coins” they give in what situation, and learning to mimic the emotional responses of the transaction.
  • Learning ineffective social exchanges from parents and other early role models. If your parents are socially clueless (in “Candy and Coins” terms, they try to trade the wrong coins at the wrong times), then chances are that those transaction patterns have been copied into you, too. “Candy and Coins” means you can think of social interaction in currency terms and swap the bad coins out for good ones, and learn when to trade and when not to trade.

Secondly, for those (like PP) who already operate the system (in a more fuzzy form), “Candy and Coins” really linearizes/formalizes social interaction into left-brain exchange patterns. That means you can optimize it by shunting it entirely into currency, allowing you to streamline, and notice which resources you have infinite supply of and can therefore best capitalize on in your exchanges. For example, actual money is a limited commodity, whereas banter or stories are unlimited. By analysing your strengths and weaknesses, you can figure out which coins you have plentiful supply of and which you don’t.  For example, if you’re a poor dancer, that’s not a coin you can easily spend. But if you’re great at telling stories, you have practically unlimited coins to spend in the many social situations where people would like to hear stories.

Most people are already operating this system as a combination of two things:

  1. Learned habits, just from copying socially-capable people — so the “please”s and “thank you”s and the small talk (these are the coins) picked up culturally. Obviously the quality of your parenting plays a huge part in the effectiveness of your learned habits!
  2. By some recognition of this “exchange system” in a more formal sense (which PP just wrote he already recognized and operated in some way).

By describing this model I am really making this whole process very explicit, and having people think of something they already do in a formal, optimizable way. It allows one to take any lingering ambiguity out of it. This brings me to the third and final benefit:

Now my main problem socializing came in the form of bad moods. When I say this, I mean there were times when I could recognize that I was meant to socialize in some way, but there was something about my mental state that made me adverse to it. I can think of a few situations where I actually missed out on talking to girls due to my own bad mood. I havent had this problem since I started meditation though, so hopefully it is a thing of the past.

Exactly. Your bad mood is your “taking” behaviours kicking in (withdrawal; “taking some time for yourself”; or trying to “get” in order to feel “good” or “full up”). By formalizing the model around a “you go first” currency exchange, this gets you into the “giving” mindset again. It means you identify bad moods as bad form with respect to the model. This means you will be able to have a dialogue with yourself that goes something like, “Okay, I’m in a bad mood. HOWEVER, the transaction system doesn’t care about that. I still have to give in order to get the transactions going. So I can put my bad mood to one side and figure out a good coin to give and get some positive transaction going.” And then doing this, barrelling through the initial inaction caused by the bad mood, will actually change your mood once the positive transactions start to flow. Also, proactivity itself is a general mood-lifter.

So it gets your mind working with the solution, via a plan, rather than focusing on the problem (the bad mood). Focusing on a problem just makes it grow, since your focus is like fertilizer. Focusing on the right action (giving them a candy coin) puts the focus on moving forward and getting things done.

And now you have your meditation, and things like first jhana, to take the sting out of your bad mood and get the positive exchange going on even quicker!


Bliss writes:

This is a great introduction into the fact that men and women will often want distinctly different things from an interaction. Illuminatus again “hits it out of the park”. Thinking of giving people what they want as “coins” will help to make people that have not considered this way of operating into a way that will appeal to them.

However, like most metaphors, it can lead you to still think very one-dimensionally. So I would like to outline some of my thoughts, pointers and elements to look out for which will show you that you are going in the right direction.

The crux of the blog post described a concept which, for me, is the first guideline for social situations: “give the other party what they want, unless it will negatively affect yourself”.

The term “negatively affect yourself” could easily be misconstrued so I want to clarify this. It means acting in a way that will undermine your integrity or morals. There is no point or value in changing your views just to “try and get on well with someone”. In fact there is even magic in tasteful disagreement. Of course you would usually mould the conversation into a topic of agreement.

I would consider myself to be both selfish and unselfish. I put myself first and I wouldn’t forgo my dreams for someone else. At the same time I would also do all within my power to help others achieve theirs as long as it doesn’t affect my chances. I also don’t want results at the expense of others; I want them to be of my own merit. Therefore I wouldn’t put others down to get a “leg up”. You should understand that the best way to get the results you want is by giving people a situation where everybody wins. The best transactions happen when both parties are trading what the other desires! In these situations you must realize that treating others with respect, care and affection does NOT affect your chances of achievement.

If we break it down, everything in life can be considered “goal driven” even if that goal is as simple as “relaxing and having fun”. Whenever any social interaction is going on both parties will have a reason for doing it and if both parties’ needs are not met then it is in fact a failure (unless your goal is to teach the other a lesson).

I know what you are thinking. How can this metaphor be deemed one-dimensional? Aren’t you just agreeing with Illuminatus? The problem with how the post was presented is that regardless of the situation the goals appear the same and they don’t change with the environment. Social interaction is as much about realizing the mood and “going with it” or “massaging it into the right place”.

The showman “coin” which would be appropriate in a nightclub would likely be too much in a supermarket. So there is an element of adapting to the situation. One of the problems with much of the pickup scene is that transaction is viewed through a nightclub lens. One of the reasons why the games and show are so effective is that people in nightclubs are often trying to “escape” their mundane lives, and giving them a bit of light-hearted and relaxed entertainment is exactly what they need. Also in a nightclub people are bombarded with music, dancing, alcohol and people, therefore you have to compete for their attention. The gist of what I am saying is that the effectiveness of the showman “coin” is also due to the fact that I have picked the right currency for the right occasion. US dollars are harder to spend in Europe! The individual’s mood also has a significant effect on what “coins” they will respond to.

To be able to successfully manoeuvre through this maze of emotions and environment you need to remember that:

  1. You shouldn’t assume everyone is like you.
  2. You shouldn’t try to work this out with logic.

Illuminatus goes into depth about why point 1 is misinformed. However, point 2 is something which was missed. Those people with a gift for social activity don’t really have to engage the logical mind. When you are in a more “logical mode” your instincts are dulled and will therefore miss or wrongly diagnose subtle signals which would show when you aren’t using the right currency. When you aren’t engaging the logical mind so thoroughly the signs will actually act as interrupts. You will suddenly “snap into” the logical mind and think “gosh maybe that was a mistake”. Mistakes happen no matter how good you are at socializing, but the more you do it the more you will realize that people are generally very lenient and forgiving as long as the sentiment is right. So if you see a cue for a certain behaviour or topic of conversation angering them, moving it quickly to an area of mutual benefit is almost always enough to keep the interaction going.

Anyway I am spending too much time on this email as it is. Hope this has been useful.

Illuminatus replies:

I don’t have much to add to the body of this email and will let the readers analyse it of their own accord.

However, I certainly take issue with point 2 above, ” You shouldn’t try to work this out with logic”.

If you have the kind of social blinders on I described in reply to PP’s email at the very top of this post, you will certainly need to spend some time working transactions out with logic. Through experience and practice, these behaviours can then be passed over to the right brain for intuitive, automatic use in future.

One of the main purposes of the “Candy and Coins” model is to help readers think logically about social interaction. I have specifically and intentionally reduced social interaction down to a left-brain symbolic “currency” model. I know Bliss himself is extremely intuitive and right-brained and never had much trouble working with emotional nuance in social situations. This is simply not the case for many of my readers.

Perhaps Bliss meant, “Don’t work things out logically while out in the field“? Meaning one should avoid logical thinking while out socializing in order not to break the emotional flow of a situation.

This is still wrong in my opinion. “Candy and Coins” can definitely be used as part of a checklist system while out, e.g.:

  • Energetic girl on dance floor –> she wants “dancing” coin
  • Bored girl sat at table –> she wants “interesting conversation” (read: stimulating distraction) coin
  • Man proudly talks about job –> he wants “recognition” coin

Logic can also be used in retrospect to debug situations, e.g. “What coins were wanted in that situation? Did I try and trade the right coin?” Transactions can be honed via this recursive “experience–>analysis–>experience…” loop.

Yes, this will all be passed over to the right brain to be used intuitively (without “logical thinking”) in the future. But to say “you shouldn’t try to work this out with logic” is misleading in my opinion and goes against the grain of the purpose of the model.

Coins and Punishment

Something important I missed from the original post is when to withdraw coins, as a form of punishment. This can be used on both men and women, but if you are a male reader you will be using such punishments on women more than anyone else.

Obviously this only works on people who have become accustomed to receiving a steady stream of coins from you.

As Blackdragon reminds us non-stop, women like attention more than anything else — and even negative attention is still attention. So giving her attention is giving her a “coin”. If she is not giving you the coin back that you want (i.e. she is giving you a “drama” coin when you don’t want that), rather than trying to trade a different coin (placating her) or trying to tell her off (which is just another “attention” coin), to get her trading again in the way you want you will often be required to withdraw your coins entirely (via freeze-outs/soft-nexts) for a period of time. The same goes for men who are creating drama, too.

Temporary withdrawal of coins is also the premise behind Mystery’s “takeaways”. We value higher that which we had and then lost.

Coins and Actual Money

Finally, I feel obligated to say that we are rarely talking about actual money when mentioning “coins”.

If you are trying to trade actual money for sex (in the form of cash, gifts, or expensive dates), then your trade system is more efficiently employed via going to a prostitute.

If you are trying to trade actual money for friendship, don’t be surprised when the friendship coins stop flowing back to you when your actual money runs out.

Refer back to the “strengths and weaknesses” section of this post to determine where your supplies of unlimited coins are.

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9 Responses

  1. Bliss says:

    I just read your update and for the purpose of having a discussion that will help the most people, I thought I should reply as I can see how my comment on logic could be misconstrued.

    Of course logic is important, I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t feedback information to yourself. It is crucial to growth. However in my opinion the time for that is “after the fact”. If an interrupt happens, then go with it otherwise analyse later. So more accurately what I meant with that statement was that you shouldn’t try and work it out with logic, when “in the moment”. In the field could relate to the whole “night out” where I simply mean during that specific interaction.

    The reason why I believe trying to analyse too much whilst it’s happening is because you tend to stay “more” detached from others and they feel you as more clinical and calculating rather than genuine.

    As well as this tend to turn it into a “chess game”, “if they do this, i do that” which can easily become reactive rather than proactive. It also stunts development rather than building genuine rapport (there are so many people not gelling with one specific person is not a big deal). Plus I think it is a good think to start to learn to let your instincts/feelings guide you, I think many would be surprised when they “kick back in to logical mode” at the right time to solve a problem.

    A final note is that some deep routed problems would take more work like Illuminatus says. However, I think that everybody should try to let their instincts take over “in the moment” and see where it gets them. Do it 3 times and if each one is a train wreck it’s probably a good indication that there is more “structural” changes to make.

    Cheers
    Bliss

    • Illuminatus says:

      I agree with that. Calculations can be made before the interaction, and after the interaction. If you do it during you’ll show “eye access cues” (eyes moving to the corners as you perform calculations) and that is what gives people that “shifty eyes” look. Yet sometimes that is inevitable if “interrupts” happen. Yes, go with the flow as best you can during the interaction.

      Ultimately the number of calculations you will have to do will be a factor of practice, since successful calculations will get passed back over to the right brain for integration and intuitive use in future, and you won’t have to make them explicitly once that has happened. They will be put in the “grid”.

      An analogy is taking a golf shot: do analysis pre- and post-shot, but if you analyse during the swing you’ll break the flow and mess it up.

  2. dwayne08 says:

    Really cool article! I kind of intuitively do this already, but I’m glad you spelled it out, simply for the fact that I have a “plan” now.

    On a slightly different note, how do you not beat yourself up about your faults? Is it just as simple as focusing on the solution and not the problem for you these days? If so, how did you get there?

    • Illuminatus says:

      Hi dwayne!

      What kinds of faults are you asking about? The kinds of faults you experience and the way you think about them might be completely different to me so if you give me a common thought pattern you have maybe I can help.

      Generally though I never really attributed failure to some core essence of myself. I was never really that self-hating. I always looked at it in terms of probabilities of some action achieving some outcome. My faults (which I really just saw as non-mainstream character traits since they served me so well in other areas) were just a negative modifier of some of the probabilities.

      So when I got depressed, all the probabilities went down to zero, so: “It’s hopeless!” — as opposed to blaming some core essence of myself, “I’m useless!” (or “I’m hopeless”). I would rather have the “It’s hopeless” script than the “I’m hopeless” script because the latter inherently has a lot more ego, duality (sense of separate self) and logical fallacies of some immutable “essence” (permanence; an unchanging self) tied to it — all of which would likely require a lot more work to fix. It’s a bigger perceptual knot to untie. But I see it a lot in the various people who are depressed who I talk to in real life and online.

      So I always asked, “Why didn’t this work?” and tried to answer that. My answers were usually wrong, but eventually they tend to hone in on something given enough cycles. This is far better than asking, “What’s wrong with me?” That’s a dumb and unskilful question, from the perspective of mental management.

      I also used my past successes as a reminder that things could be done.

      Finally, regarding approaching chicks and what not, I can’t quite put my finger on the point at which my feelings changed about it, but there was a definite moment when I just stopped caring what they think for the most part, and I stopped feeling any kind of shame for doing it. It became just a matter of seeing what works, probability maps, etc., with basically none of the “little me” voice attached. I noticed that was the case around the time I first wrote “Candy and Coins”. I think the most likely catalyst was really taking the Red Pill and being uncompromising and unfiltering about which female behaviours I observed and let into the “reality model” (guys tend to tense up and cling onto the idea that “Not all girls are like that!!” in the face of such information. I simply noticed that and stopped tensing). Once that happened, which entailed a few dark nights, it just became a probability map, very dry and statistics-based (like how Heartiste, Krauser etc. write about it), seeing it all as a marketplace and figuring out what I’m there to buy and what I have to sell. Hence: Candy and Coins. Most girls don’t have what I’m looking for anyway (I can’t do just looks; I need some non-mainstream convo at a minimum) which also took the focus off my faults, since I’m now being more picky about THEM.

      So there’s probably some gold in the above stream-of-nonsense I just wrote; you’ll have to filter it. 🙂

      • Illuminatus says:

        I’ll summarize my method for finding out the correct ways to think about things. It is more based on finding out what DOESN’T work, realizing that fully, then stopping thinking that way.

        So if you imagine all the ways of doing something and/or thinking about something as a tree, with all the different paths you can take being branches going off to one side and also splitting. If you figure out that one way of doing/thinking simply does not get you to where you want to be, you have to uncompromisingly prune off that branch. That leaves you with branches either tested (you know they can get you to where you want to be) or untested (requiring exploration).

        My growth was always driven more by the mistakes. I didn’t plan it that way; it’s just what’s happened. So I try lots of things and life shows me where those branches end up. If they don’t go anywhere helpful, they get pruned. That usually requires some dark event to finally make me prune it. But it does inevitably happen. Life keeps bringing the same lesson till you learn it. That could be the same pattern of, say, relationships (any kind of relationship). If life keeps bringing you the same pattern of relationship you don’t want, you know you’re on a branch that needs pruning. It’s a function of the path you’re taking.

        This requires a lot of self-honesty. The ego’s ability to delude and edit the truth is what keeps people on wrong branches for so long (tricking themselves into believing they’re still on the right branch). So if you find that thinking a certain way about your “faults” — or even approaching them as “faults” in the first place — leads to repeating negative outcomes, then you realize that entire thought/behaviour branch is wrong and you prune it.

        Ultimately after you prune away the wrong branches, you’re left with the right ones.

        Other people seem to have a knack of finding right branches early and cultivating them. If you get on one or two of those early in life, you can do very well. I was always an explorer, going down all the branches out of curiosity as well as cluelessness. E.g. right now I’m exploring a branch of “psychic powers”. That seems ludicrous to many people. But it’s my tree, so they can fuck off. Good parenting seems to be the main factor for what gets you on those “right” branches early. Seek out role models (people who are on the right branches) so you can grow some of those branches yourself. Looking around at successful people is often how you figure out that those “right” branches even exist in the first place.

        • dwayne08 says:

          Wanted to add – I can mimic the behaviors needed to get the outcomes I want often. It’s just that it feels like I’m “faking” it. I’m not sure if this just my current situation (lack of sleep, stress) speaking. With respect to girls, that’s an entirely different story, I have to rely upon alcohol haha.

      • dwayne08 says:

        Appreciate you taking the time to write all that out! Yes, I very much did used to have the “what’s wrong with me” mentality. I’ve gotten over most of that however, but there are still times where I feel emotionally disconnected from a large amount of the population, which just feels plain weird. This is where I start doubting myself, and fall into a trap of “it’s always going to be like this”.

        I agree with what you said about figuring out which patterns don’t work, and not doing them anymore. What I would like to improve upon right now is my lack of sex life and make more friends. The biggest hurdle for me currently is simply a lack of time – I’m in med school right now, which is extremely time-consuming and stressful. School is my biggest priority (which is how it should be), and it prevents me from meeting new people outside of school who I share interests with (hiking, sports, video games etc). I also signed up for online dating, and I’ve had some cute chicks that I could have spent some time with…but then midterms/practicals kick in all over again. I suppose my mindset is one of resignation for the upcoming 2-3 years…which kinda sucks haha.

        To make things a bit more complicated, I am also picky when it comes to who I choose to spend my time with. A lot of the social life here revolves around getting sloshed, which I’m not interested in right now. At the same time, I’m not sure my feeling of “different-ness” is just my ego speaking like you said. Hope that jumble of nonsense makes sense to ya haha

        • Illuminatus says:

          “I’ve gotten over most of that however, but there are still times where I feel emotionally disconnected from a large amount of the population, which just feels plain weird. This is where I start doubting myself, and fall into a trap of “it’s always going to be like this”.”

          I’m going to lose my elitist tone for a moment and try and just be as observant as possible about this: I think if you’re a person of higher than normal intelligence, which I am going to say everybody finding sites such as mine are, then there is always going to be SOME sense of disconnection/alienation from the general population. And it actually is always going to be there, to some extent.

          Now, Koanic has his “it’s because of the Neanderthal genes” theory (which I really like, evidently from my writings), and then you’ve got a million other models e.g. Myers-Briggs personality types and so forth which attempt to explain it. But explaining it doesn’t make it go away. It’s real, and it’s there. The book L’Étranger (translated to English as either The Outsider or The Stranger) by Albert Camus is perhaps the most elegant and concise literary encapsulation of that feeling. It’s very short and is well worth a read.

          So once that is accepted (harder for some than others), we next move to adaptation. It is at this point that the script changes from, “What’s wrong with me?” to, “How can I make things work enough to be happy?” It’s a shift from idealism to pragmatism. You are currently in that transition, and all your questions pertain to the goal of just doing enough (rather than trying to have it all). I believe it’s an important marker of the shift to adulthood.

          Ultimately this stage is about figuring out who you are. Then making plans for what to do, based on that information. The more self-honest you are in finding out who you are, the more accurate your plans will be, and the stronger your actions towards just doing enough to be fulfilled and happy. It is a lifelong iterative process. So, it never ends.

          “The biggest hurdle for me currently is simply a lack of time”

          Mark Manson’s latest article is worth a read here: No, You Can’t Have It All. In recent years Mark’s writing has fallen victim (in my view) to “accessibility”. He is now writing for the mainstream, so you have to wade through a lot of societal-meme stories and corny jokes to get to the actual message. He is still on-point most of the time however. In this case, he definitely is. The message is: you can’t have it all. Time is the primary unit of currency in your life and it is limited. So you’ll have to accept you can’t do everything you want to do, and decide what’s most important to you to spend your time on at the moment.

          So find out your strengths and weaknesses, and what can be improved and how much time you are willing to spend to make those improvements, then optimize your strategies around those data points. You are literally doing this process now.

          “Wanted to add – I can mimic the behaviors needed to get the outcomes I want often. It’s just that it feels like I’m “faking” it. I’m not sure if this just my current situation (lack of sleep, stress) speaking.”

          What I have found is that if some behaviours are mimicked long enough, they become “genuine”. I had a renaissance with my social skills this year by mimicking good social skills from people I felt were successful at that. Just being kind and open and interested in other people. Those behaviours became natural far quicker than I thought they would. For the previous ten years, I had shunned that option through feeling it was fake and “beneath me”. I was wrong. You are lucky that you’re figuring out this knowledge at such a young age. Personally I’m just glad I got it handled and it’s been one of the factors which has given me my future back. I’m not the sort of person who laments the past as it is a completely pointless and unskilful behaviour.

          Then there are behaviours and aspects of socializing you will find you aren’t willing to mimic. That is going to come from deeper (and even more self-honest) studies of your character and experiences. For example, I’m not willing to play status games and try and knock people down to raise my own relative position. It’s just distasteful to me. I literally feel dirty when I do it. I had to try the hat on to see if it fits, though. So many people are out there doing that though that it does seem at first like something “normal” you “should” be doing. It’s that alienation feeling again, when I found I simply don’t want to be like that. We’re back to that same iterative cycle again of finding out who you are. To me that kind of behaviour is revealed as a child script. It’s Circuit II toddler games.

          Another thing I found I can’t do is be sexually interested in someone who’s dumb. It’s just a deep-level turn-off for me personally. It was only recently I really discovered that. It has made so much of the past make more sense. Some guys seem to be okay with that though. These are all individual tastes. The good thing about discovering all these aspects of your character is that when you take away the things you don’t want, you’re left with what you do want, and the path towards that becomes a lot clearer.

          “With respect to girls, that’s an entirely different story, I have to rely upon alcohol haha.”

          Alcohol has been part of the mating ritual for both men and women since time began. The original saying of “Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” was “Women, wine and song.” So I would hardly feel bad about using alcohol as a sexual lubricant. Again, however, it is all about how strongly you feel about this trait and how much time you’re willing to spend trying to change it. If someone wants to be able to do absolutely anything they want without any substances at all, and they feel really strongly about that, then that’s part of their own personal journey towards such goals.

          • dwayne08 says:

            You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about. Glad to know that I’m not the only one out there who feels this way or thinks these things 🙂

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