How to Find Legit Friends: The Ten Year Test

Dear Danger & Play:

Most guys my age are really lame. You have written somewhat abstractly about the important of “building your crew,” but never gave any practical tips on how to do so. What is your advice?

Someone could write a treatise about friendship, and I encourage you to read the Nicomachean Ethics. I’ve distilled all of the writing down to one heuristic. Like all heuristics – which are just thinking shortcuts – this rule is not 100% accurate. There are exceptions. NAMALT.  This rule will serve you right more often than it will steer you wrong.

Does he have friendships dating back at least ten years?

Why is this so important?

I hate to break it to you, but we are all diseased. 2Wycked is one of my favorite manosphere bloggers and he writes about narcissism. Yet he seems to miss the joke: He’s every bit as narcissistic as those he observes.

That’s not a dig at him. It’s simply a recognition of reality: A man cannot escape his culture. We all suffer from varying degrees of sociopathy, narcissism, and alienation.

I, for example, am not particularly narcissistic. But you could tell me that your mom died and I wouldn’t feel anything. It takes a lot for me to register anything approaching emotional pain. (One exception: Sarah McLachlan Animal Cruelty Video.)

My friends tend to be highly narcissistic and needy. They need “fed,” as I like to put it.

Yet my friends and I are all self-aware. We know we are sick and we’re OK with it and we form symbiotic relationships based on our respective psychopathologies.

The relationships work because I’m not needy. I don’t need fed. Thus we’re not competing for attention/ego feeding. In public they can go seek out attention and I just do my own thing.

Men who do not realize they are sick are users and parasites. They cannot have functional relationships because they lack the self-awareness to understand that they are takers. They do not “even the ledger.”

Someone who doesn’t have meaningful friendships dating back ten years (for you younger guys, maybe it should be the Five Year Rule) have blown everyone out. What do I mean by blown out?

We all know the guy who shows up at the bar and never buys the first round. Using a form of game theory, he optimizes his free drinks by always letting someone else buy the first round. If you buy the last round, you aren’t immediately spotted as a cheat because you did buy a round. Yet look at a game involving 3 men and 5 drinks.

  • A: Buys 1st round
  • B: Buys 2nd round
  • C: Buys 3rd round
  • A: Buys 4th round (his second round)
  • B: Buys 5th round (his second round).
  • C: [Everyone goes home; avoids buying second round].

There’s always that one guy who puts himslef in C’s position, right? We all know that guy who is never the designated driver. He never buys the first round. He never greases the door guy. He never wants to do something that everyone else wants to do. He always looks out for himself, foolishly unable to recognize that it’s better to be long term greedy rather than to skim off the top in the short term.

Those freeloaders and mooches can get away with that for a while, but eventually your brain picks up on it. We have evolved to play tit-for-tat:

Tit for tat is an English saying meaning “equivalent retaliation”. It is also a highly effective strategy in game theory for the iterated prisoner’s dilemma. The strategy was first introduced by Anatol Rapoport in Robert Axelrod’s two tournaments, held around 1980. Notably, it was (on both occasions) both the simplest strategy and the most successful.

An agent using this strategy will first cooperate, then subsequently replicate an opponent’s previous action. If the opponent previously was cooperative, the agent is cooperative. If not, the agent is not. This is similar to superrationality and reciprocal altruism in biology.

Much of this is subconscious. Men don’t usually do a full accounting of the meal when the check comes, unlike women. We are “rough justice” animals. Sure, maybe one guy had a glass of wine while you drank water, but why not split the check 50-50 anyway? Or why don’t I just grab it this time and you can grab it next time?

Who keeps track of who bought the last round? We don’t consciously note it.

When some guy is always in position C, you start resenting the guy, even if it’s only subconsciously. You don’t return his calls and he falls off the shelf.

The guy who can’t name friends he has had for several years has been person “C” in every relationship.

So my advice is this: Look for men who have several long-lasting relationships. Even if the person is a nut, he at least understands how to even a ledger. He’s not going to skip out on checks, use you for your cash, try banging your girlfriend, or pull any of the other bullshit that 90% of modern guys try pulling.

And if you do not have friendships going back decades, perhaps it is not other men who are lame. Perhaps the problem is you.

Read next: Building Your Crew.

  • rivelino

    this of course applies to girls too.

  • Shenpen

    This sounds like everybody is an extroverted neurotypical who needs friends, who needs to go out with people. I wanted to be someone who hangs out with people when I was young because I had low self esteem and I thought if I don’t do this, if I don’t have a social life, I am a loser. However I never enjoyed it.

    Now at 35 I have a career, pregnant wife, no social life at all, yet nobody considers me a loser. In fact I think the fact that I coldly turn down every attempt of my coworkers to chat or to talk anything beyond strictly, rigidly official stuff commands a certain sense of respect. I did make a few friends during my life but generally we just talk philosophy through e-mail, don’t really feel the need of much facetime. Let’s call them pen pals. We all are focusing on our families, and help the pen pals out with loans or something.

    I would be lying if I would say I am happy this way. After all if I was, I would not be commenting on the Internet, talking to strangers. I would be happier being a social person, but that would take an entirely different person than I am. Simply the pain and pleasure parts of social life do not balance favorably for me, and my point is that today at 35 this is OK, because it longer hurts my self-confidence, my self-esteem to have no social life, neither me nor others think it makes me a loser anymore. And probably it was true back then, too – I should not have been afraid of it.

    So… focus on the other option as well. You can have no social life and yet not fail at life. Maybe you will be a bit unhappy – to me happiness has always been much less important than shame – but iti is not shameful.

    • Greg

      “This sounds like everybody is an extroverted neurotypical who needs friends”

      I needed to wikipedia neurotypical, never seen it before. Result:
      “a term coined in the autistic community as a label for people who are not on the autism spectrum”
      This will go… deep.

      “If I don’t do this, if I don’t have a social life, I am a loser. However I never enjoyed it.”
      Not, maybe I haven’t found people who are like me. Not, I enjoy spending time with people when we only do certain activities, realizing that not every friend is a total grand slam. No, a rejecting the entire world’s judgement, substituted with your own.

      “no social life at all, yet nobody considers me a loser”
      No scales weigh me, and nobody thinks I’ve heavy! Dissolve the judgmental, and the judgement disappears!

      “commands a certain sense of respect.”
      Distance. Refusal to understand plesantries is not professionalism. In the most professional 1850’s businessmen they still understood there’s more to a business relationship than just business. (hint: relationship)

      [Don’t become ‘face’ friends, just pen pals with loans]
      I don’t know anything about autism, but refusal to put yourself in a non-text, subjective based situation made me flip back to the wikipedia tab.

      Man, I wish i took some more classes in college! Corporate finance seems like a waste when I might be able to help you. Sorry bud, I’d like to wish you the best of luck bud, I actually do. I’m so happy for you that you found a woman for you, enjoy your life my good man!

    • gary smith

      I’m 60 this month and I don’t know what I want. I think nice pussy good looks, young etc…

  • Greg


    I reviewed my comment and I don’t know whether or not I would add or remove from the positivity in the man’s life I spoke to. I’ve read your thoughts on mental illness and I trust your judgement. My tone transitioned from equal to man-on-ledge, and if you sensed it to be too much, please delete it.



    • gary smith

      Man I don’t know. It’s nothing I have ever done.

  • Ron

    If I were starting out in a brand new city and needed to build up a crew from scratch, I’d first look to gain a foothold in social circles you are likely to come across successful, red-pill men – bodybuilding/MMA gyms, bar owners, club promoters, etc. When deciding who to associate myself with out of those groups, I’d certainly look at the 10-year rule as a filtering mechanism, but only after putting effort into gain initial entry/access into the said social circle For instance, proving my skills on the mat would be a starting point at an MMA gym. If you get to a new city and join a kickball league like most guys, you’re still going to find plenty of losers/blue-pillers with friends going back 10 years.

    • gary smith

      I don’t feel sorry for myself but I hurt so badly I can’t do those things. I have been looking for help but no Dr. will touch me with a 10 ft. pole.

    • gary smith

      I know I need help but I don’t know where it’s going to come from. I really don’t think I’m into the gay relationships

  • Badger

    I used to be something of the “never buy the first round” guy – I would go to parties in grad school, bring a six-pack, then take the remainder of the six-pack from the fridge on the way back out the door. That went double if I brought a bottle of wine that nobody wound up opening. I got good at sneaking my goodies home. Never got laid at those parties either. Probably not a coincidence, my whole mindset was fucked up. Although we did have a kegger in grad school, an usual amount of fun for our environment.

    • gary smith

      You sound depressed. I hope not.

  • Badger


    “If you get to a new city and join a kickball league like most guys, you’re still going to find plenty of losers/blue-pillers with friends going back 10 years.”

    I’ve done the kickball thing and found it just like that – there were some good guys, but lots of partying bros and the girls who like that kind of thing (exactly the girls D&P says he wants to avoid and I do too). Self-improving men do well to get out of extended versions of high school social structures. The most annoying thing was drinking all the free light beer. So not worth it for fun or for health. It wasn’t all bad, but I found myself counting the minutes until I could go home from the postgame bar. Life’s too short to do activities that feel like obligation.

    • gary smith

      I agree. It’s all about love and a permanent relationship. I have never been gay but I don’t know since my wife died.

  • Owen Gilmore

    This hurts but I have to recognize the truth. I’ve blown out eveyone

  • gary smith

    I have excruciating pain in my back due to a plane crash. The DR’s say they won’t touch it with a 10 foot pole. I need help asap; I can’t live like this.

  • gary smith

    I can’t exercise or even walk or stand. I need help in the worst way.

  • gary smith

    Please address me at

  • gary smith

    Thank you….

  • gary smith

    I was married 12 years until my wife died of cancer. I still miss her and am so lonelyl

  • Feracitus

    hah at current time my circle of friends dates back at least 15 years, some more. Same crew that has stick together since childhood. I’m going trough a major life change atm, droped a good job to start my own business, and going trough a tight spot with money, all the freeloaders fell off, while crew childhood is still going strong! we see each other and gather for drinks once every other week.