How to Be Popular

If you want to impress somebody (or a group of people) and get them to like you, tell them “no” to 3 different suggestions / opinions / proposals, etc in close succession. No explanation. Just a calm, non-aggressive “no.”

The reason why such refuseniks are so magnetic is that being around them protects us from our anxiety. Their capacity to say “no” shows inner independence and authority. Being close to that kind of authority is soothing.

For the same reason, prospective romantic partners who are very eager to please end up losing all attraction. We perceive that they have no inner strength, which makes them lousy partners. If they are very eager to arrange their lives around our whims, they won’t be able to help us in a bad situation. A vine that wraps itself around an oak can’t stand up without it, let alone hold it up in a storm.

Nobody wants to carry another person through life. People pleasers practically demand to be carried. That’s why they are so annoying. They demand things we aren’t ready to give.


6 thoughts on “How to Be Popular

    1. Beautifully written. I liked this part, in particular:

      “To be a woman is to be on a lifelong sexual developmental pathway organized around the production of large immotile gametes. This path starts at birth and ends in death. The vastness of this lifelong embodied developmental cycle can’t be reduced to any single primary sex organ or secondary sex characteristic. Men are on a completely different pathway, having a lifelong sexual developmental process organized around the production of small motile gametes.”

      Again, it shows how inept the education system is that many people have no idea that chopping off a man’s penis doesn’t make him any less of a man. The whole physiology is male. It can’t be changed, any more than we can turn ourselves into cacti.


  1. Kids grasp this very early. We joke about it– it could almost be declared a developmental stage when toddlers discover the word NO. We refer to it around the house as “the Dreadful N-Word” or “The Word of Power”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s why parents who don’t know how to say no to their children engender great anxiety in them.

      “But what can I do if she says she’s a boy!” Just say no, that’s what.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. “The Word of Power”

      Michael Korda had a little section on this called “No power”. Roughly, most large organizations need someone who will say “No” to every request regardless of practicality, profitability or rationality (9 out of 10 times they’re right and they’ll be forgiven for the 10th). Such a person will never rise to the top but they’ll have one of the most secure positions going as long as they don’t become just another decision maker by saying ‘yes’.
      Where I work used to have someone like that (and he was sooooo very useful – a rock we could depend upon). Unfortunately he was promoted into a position where that was no longer viable and we haven’t had a “no!” person for years… (we had a bad cop but he wasn’t in a position to say ‘no’ to enough people) and it shows….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. About luxury ideas: they’re not a luxury to you because they cost you too much.

    They’re a luxury to someone else as an activity they can afford but you can’t.

    It’s easy to say no to luxury ideas because you can’t afford them.

    It’s much harder to say no to luxury ideas that other people are paying for.

    Think of all of the “progressive reforms” that essentially amount to making the rest of the platoon do push-ups because Private Pyle sneaked a jelly doughnut out of the mess hall.

    (You’re doing movies, so here’s mine: “Full Metal Jacket”, directed by Stanley Kubrick.)

    Progressives love finding someone who administers “tough justice” so they can get you to pay for their jelly doughnut.


    This never ends well.

    But people naturally gravitate toward those who have the strength to say no to people pushing luxury ideas that other people are paying for.

    It’s especially popular for people who want to maintain that “good person” style.

    There are more kinds of “people pleasers” than the most obvious ones.


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