This is a much more elegant way of making the criticism I was vaguely gesturing at in my comment. It's not an objectively bad post, but I agree it feels something like unwelcoming
It seems to me unlikely that women don't care at all about making their partners happy, and I'd argue that the google search is approximately the same level of evidence as the existence of the "female dating coach" in the original post.
You're definitely right on housework not being the same thing as investing in a relationship. That was my bad.
It feels like women do an equal amount of the work in emotional support / close connection / engagement / etc realms (at least once already in a relationship), but a cursory search on JSTOR hasn't turned up anything useful as far as proof, and I guess it's possible that I've just been very lucky in relationships so far.
So everyone has approximately the same optimal strategy for creating a healthy & stable long-term partnership. But in the process of finding partners, women optimize more for attractiveness, because physical attractiveness matters more as a selection criteria for men, whereas women traditionally are looking more for traits like success and commitment. Is this more correct? I feel like that does address my objection above.
[Edit: from the following quote: "Women who are excellent lovers, girlfriends, and wives presumably pick up these skills in private [...] there is almost a universal pact to prevent any of this from becoming part of mainstream culture." This quote makes it look like you really did mean that women in relationships also have no info on being good partners, not just during the searching phase. It seems like the only evidence you present is that you couldn't find any books on how to be a good wife, which do seem to exist, even ignoring that all the best books like Nonviolent Communication are completely gender neutral.]
Some of the problem could just be in how the market is structured. Whenever I've gotten lame answers to messages on dating apps (short self-focused responses with no questions in return), my default assumption is not that the women aren't taught how to have interesting conversations / don't know how to contribute to starting a relationship, but more that they have many, many matches and I have fewer, so they can afford to be lame conversationalists and only go out with the guys willing to sweat over prolonging a dry conversation.
Something about my model of the situation must be deeply confused, because if both of the charts you include are accurate, I don't see why women would bother spending time on hair/makeup/whatever. It seems like all >=20th percentile women have an easy enough time getting matches, and if higher attractiveness doesn't lead to more fulfillment in relationships, why not just not bother too much with that part and then spend more time enjoying whatever matches you do get?
Anyway, thank you for the post and the reply. Apologies if I'm talking past you; something about this topic in particular is making me notice a lot of confusion, and I'm no longer sure to what extent I'm properly moored in your original argument.
I read Putanumonit somewhat frequently and and generally enjoy your writing, so I was surprised how much this essay made me automatically bristle.
As one generic critique: I disagree with the "Standing There Looking Hot is not a Love Language" section, exemplified this quote:
There is almost no advice for a girl on how to actively contribute to a relationship, or that it’s even a goal.
This seems very obviously incorrect. Googling "how to make boyfriend happy" brings up a lot of articles about showing trust, making romantic gestures, giving compliments, doing extra chores, etc. There are also the perennial arguments about how most women do more housework and childwork. It's possible I'm misunderstanding the thrust of this argument somehow, but it genuinely confuses me.
I have vague negative feelings about some other pieces, but I imagine any other nitpicks would be more likely to be motivated reasoning than useful commentary.
In any case, this piece generally seems well written, and I really do usually enjoy your writing. This is a useful self-prompt in trying to figure out why my emotions are mismatched with my reasoning.