12 February 2020 by Foysol Meare

Outcome Independence: The Art of Not Giving a Shit

What the conversation between Foysol (left) and Jack (right) looked like.

"Sophie's not really interested in having sex anymore..." said Jack, his body-language and tone following as the conversation changed course. We'd been catching up over drinks. Six months is a long time for busy guys, but although unexpected, this wasn't surprising.

Jack was only confiding this relationship secret to me because he wanted a solution. But before I reveal that, it's important we take a brief detour...

What makes a man attractive?

Everyone repeats some combination of confidence, integrity, status, looks, height, muscularity etc.

They're correct. BUT they usually miss one powerful quality:

Outcome Independence (OI). This is the ability to view a particular outcome from a situation as being irrelevant.

In other words, the ability to not give a shit.

Let's use the example of a first date to illustrate what OI looks like. Ross is outcome independent, and Kevin is outcome dependent.

She's fun, interesting and very attractive.

Ross: That's fine.
Kevin: She's amazing. I better do my best and not mess this up.

She's annoyed that you're not paying for all her drinks.

Ross: That's fine.
Kevin: She's being a bitch, but I won't make a fuss because she's very attractive. It's only a drink, I'll grab the next ones.

She asks you for your honest views on a controversial subject but gets pissed off at one of your beliefs.

Ross: That's fine.
Kevin: That was a bit strong for her. Let me be extra nice to show her that I'm a good guy.

You're very interested in her, and tell her how much you enjoyed the date. She misinterprets that as being too keen and she'd rather you play hard to get. She loses interest.

Ross: That's fine.
Kevin: That's really disappointing. She's probably busy, let's text something funnier later to grab her attention.

She's looking for something serious and you're not, so it seems best to wrap things up.

Ross: That's fine.
Kevin: I'll tell her a small lie that I'm open to the idea of something more serious. Would be a shame to end the date over this.

Ross is fine with any outcome. Kevin chases someone who isn't enthusiastic about him. He lies and even compromises on his values for the fear of missing an outcome. Who's more attractive?

So how does one become more OI and what the hell does this have to do with my friend Jack?

You may be thinking:

"So he told Jack to learn to be OK with having a sexless relationship? That's pretty shit advice."

No, the advice I gave him will blow your mind. And it isn't even mine, you can thank the Stoics instead.

Stoicism is a Greco-Roman philosophy with the aim of accepting reality as the key to inner peace. When facing a problem, a stoic determines whether it's something they can control. If they can control it, there's nothing to worry about since they can change the outcome. If they can't control it, again there's no point worrying about it because it's out of their hands. For example, there's no point worrying about death because you can't control it.

Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.

A quote by Marcus Aurelius, capturing the stoic approach to death.

So far this is obvious, because we're talking about control vs no-control situations. It gets interesting when you consider a partial-control problem, like Jack's problem. Although he has some influence, Sophie can do whatever the hell she wants. Guys are often unable to accept what is outside their control in this situation. They try too hard to change the outcome. For example, they may rationalise 'if I take her out for a nice evening she'll be interested in sex after'. Attraction isn't so simple, and when it fails they become whiny, desperate and pathetic.

The stoics came up with a trick to regain OI in this situation of partial control. It comes by exercising a power we all have, irrespective of our circumstances. No one can take it away.

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. Marcus Aurelius

We can redefine our problems. We can choose to see them from a different perspective. We don't have to accept someone else's definition of our problem.

The trick is this:

Redefine a partial-control problem to one that is completely under your control. You regain outcome independence because you no longer depend on anyone else to solve it.

So what did I tell Jack?

His initial problem was:

"I want to have sex with my girlfriend more often."

This is a bad goal, not because of his girlfriend's behaviour but because he defined it wrong! He can't control someone else, and trying will only lead to worry and resentment.

Instead, I told him to redefine it to:

"I will become an attractive guy who has no problems finding women who want to be in a sexual relationship with me."

This is a great goal because he has complete control over it. He can start working out, improve his diet, fashion, social circle and focus on his career. This will make him happier and be OI, which will increase his girlfriend's attraction for him. Even if his current relationship situation doesn't change, it's no longer a problem. He can find someone new who is sexually interested. By redefining the problem, no other person, not even his girlfriend can prevent the outcome he wants!

I've illustrated how OI can solve Jack's specific problem. But the purpose of this article is to make you aware that you have the power to redefine any problem in your life. In doing so, you'll feel the following benefits of being OI:

  1. You're no longer desperate for an outcome that depends on someone else. You're happy and have positive emotional state either way.
  2. You begin to take responsibility and action to realise your goals and life purpose. You know that success depends only on YOU. This is the most effective way to achieve anything meaningful in life.
  3. Since you don't need anything from others, you're authentic and not afraid to be honest and direct. This makes you more attractive and worthy of respect.
  4. Stronger connections with friends and romantic partners. The people that you draw into your life are more aligned with your true values and interests. The ones that aren't will leave.

Redefining the problem can be scary because you now have no excuses. It forces you to accept full responsibility for your life and not be a victim of others' actions. You may even feel guilty because society has taught you to not prioritise your needs. But the benefits of outcome independence will transform your life.

For the purposes of the main point of this article, I'm assuming everything is fine between Jack and Sophie. Jack should always have an honest conversation with her about the issue. She could be experiencing difficulties, e.g. mental/physical health. Maybe Jack is always home too late and drunk etc. These kinds of possibilities should be investigated first.