The latest trend in a long line of identities in modern masculinity is the high value male. The high value male is defined as a man “who is authentic, emotionally intelligent and lives his life with “purpose,” according to the Daily Mail. The high value male seeks to differentiate themselves in a crowded dating landscape through the competency of self awareness and emotional intelligence. Social media has taken to this term and given a rise to lifestyle coaches and influencers who purport the values of the high value male.
Clubhouse dating rooms, Youtube channels and Facebook groups have all formed to teach men how to become a high value man and to guide women on how to date and eventually marry a high value man. One such lifestyle coach, Kevin Samuels recently collaborated with Future in his music video “Worst Day.” suggesting this trend has reached mainstream influence.
Samuels boasts a Youtube following of over a million subscribers. He hosts weekly live sessions where he invites subscribers to his platform to discuss the idea of the high value male and why some women struggle to access them. These sessions quickly devolve into theater where cruelty becomes the rubric of analysis. There is a meanness disguised as truth telling which is the social currency of these sessions–with a comment section populated by men who feel that women need to be put in their place.
Samuels is an equal opportunity dealer sharing his space with men who are exploring the dating space. But belittling the brothers are not his bread and butter, they don’t drive this spectacle of cruelty. What drives the numbers are sisters who offer themselves on the pylons of media scrutiny. Men in need of validation use Samuel’s platform as a battery in their back. Cheering him on as he does their dirty work. These men are not looking for love, they want revenge. The pursuit is not romance, it’s reprisal. Theirs is a poisoning of the well, payback for a social landscape that has made it increasingly difficult for men that refuse to update their emotional software. The emotional and social ground is slowly shifting under our feet and instead of undertaking the work of interpersonal review have pivoted to retaliation.
What becomes increasingly clear about the idea of the high value man it’s not a lifestyle brand or new way to interpret masculinity, but rather a collective exorcism of bitterness waged in the public square. The principles of the high value man is not about personal improvement for the sake of wholeness but rather creating an imagine of inaccessibility and exclusivity as punishment to those who have denied them. It is the John Hughes’ification of identity to repackage oneself as desirable, progressive and upwardly mobile enough to repay social slight and woundedness from bygone rejection.
The U.S. Secret service released a report after investigating targeted violence against women who rebel “rising threat from men who identify as ‘involuntary celibates’ or ‘incels’ due to their inability to form intimate relationships with women.” This group routinely forms bonds in social media spaces that affirm the idea of victimhood and entitlement. Victimhood and entitlement are shared identifiers that connect incel culture to the culture of high value men. Both incels and high value men believe themselves to be owed the time and affections of women. –And given this identifier, the conception of the “high value man” is on the spectrum of male grievance culture that is more interested in punishing women than understanding, hearing or loving them.
A guiding principle of high value men is a doggedness of self referential wisdom. An inability to consider the impact and effect of ideas beyond the centering and satisfaction of self. It boasts authority without the consciousness of a greater community as a whole. The tenets of the high value male suggests they need to be in charge. Leadership and dominance is the only real marker of value and importance. It teaches us to step on and step over people without concern because our personal self actualization is the most important outcome in the equation. It is an emaciated conception sustaining itself on ego and authority.
And it brings the witches brew of egomania to an already toxic dating landscape. If the obsession with ego wasn’t enough the high value man is preoccupied with the failings of women as a diversion, a smokescreen for insecurities they haven’t found the courage to confront. Any loose thread, frayed edge, becomes fair game for exploitation and manipulation because you can’t harm a man who thinks so much of himself that they make no accommodations for anyone else.
The high value man is not a myth because there is no worth there. It’s not a myth because there is no substance there. The high value man is a myth because it is an investment in ascetics over substance. We have been taught that dating is the work of preparation and putting on. To create the best possible version of ourselves–a self that is manicured and completely ready to turn on charisma and charm at the drop of a dime. We are told that dating is the performance of self. What is missed in the pomp and circumstance of putting on is that the true work of emotional engagement is found in divesting from performance and daring to walk in authenticity. The idea of the high value man misunderstands that his value is not in the putting on, but the bravery to take off. That the work of self is the work of authenticity to bear ourselves, flaws and all, ready to love and be loved. You are not of high value because of your ability to be cruel but because of your capacity to care.