By David Futrelle
On Reddit’s IncelTears — a subreddit devoted to mocking and critiquing the toxic incel subculture — someone claiming to be a former incel has posted an account of their escape from inceldom. It’s a throwaway account, but the story he tells seems pretty convincingly true to me.
“In the wake of the horrific events in Toronto,” he begins,
I wanted to share some of my experiences as a former incel, and how I eventually changed my behaviors to become a better person.
Being an incel is awful, it’s an awful predicament, with an unhelpful community to back it up. Often when people describe an incel, the general description is “Involunaty Celebate”, someone who can’t get girls, etc. This is the most glaring issue and the one bought up by the community but it isn’t the only issue in most cases.
When a guy can’t get a girl to save his life there’s usually some undelying social issue at play and that issue has an affect on that individuals entire social life, not just the intimate aspect. You don’t feel important, you don’t feel valued. This starts to play on your self esteem and is partially to explain for the very self-hate low IQ trodding nature of the community.
Unfortunately, the incel “community” only makes this self-hate worse.
The community’s biggest problem is that it does nothing to fix the problem and only goes to reinforce ones already held beliefs. So you’re someone who can’t get a girl, shunned from society (to various degrees) and you go online to find people like you, and when you get there you find false explanations for your problems and an echo chamber of your ideas.
You confide in this group and as a result, you start to inherit some of that group think and ideas. These ideas don’t help you in the real world but rather make things worse, it’s a downward spiral.
So what was it that led him to start questioning incel dogma — and eventually extract himself from this morass? As he explained in a followup comment, he literally got off of incel forums and into the real world, where he quickly found that most of what the incels say about men and women and dating and pretty much everything is just plain wrong.
One of the things I did was get out there, almost in a literal sense.
When I was an incel I never went out. I had never been in a bar, never been to a club, I didn’t know that life in the slightest. So when I went online it was very easy to believe the things you read about bars/clubs/women/chads/stacies/etc because I had no comparison in the real world to call bullshit on one way of the other. The first time I went out to a bar, 20 minutes in and getting a drink I saw a guy, probably 3 inches shorter and twice as round sitting in the VIP section with a bunch of hot girls nearby. Seeing that shattered by worldview because according to the incel community, that guy was doing something that was fucking impossible in their eyes.
I’m not sure that the VIP section of a nightclub is what I’d call a representative sample of reality, but it’s certainly the case that the easiest way to challenge many of the central myths of incel is to simply open your eyes to the evidence all around you in the real world, where you’ll find men of all sizes, shapes, heights, and ages happily paired off with women of all sizes, shapes, heights and ages. You have to be willfully blind to believe that women won’t date short men, or men with improperly angled eyebrows, or men with inappropriately sized wrists (and yes, these are real incel beliefs).
The former incel continues:
After that I kept going out and every time I went out there was always something different, not a single night was the same. Always different characters, different situations, different interactions. I started to see that there wasn’t just one pre-disposed type of person to get a particular girl and I learned that anything could happen, literally anything.
I’ve been thrown out of a bar on to the street only to be invited to an afterparty 5 minutes later, I’ve gotten harshly rejected by a girl in front of her boyfriend only for her to run back to me before the bar closes and give me her number. I was in the corner of a bar talking to a girl telling her about where I was from before some drunk guy decided to roundhouse kick me because he thought I was lying about my nationality (that a was fun night). Countless upon countless situations where I’ve walked out of it going “what the fuck just happened”
I guess this is one possible escape from incel. But you don’t have to get into bar fights or get invited to any afterparties — or even set foot in a nightclub at all — to see that incels live inside a collective delusion that only vaguely resembles life on this planet.
Overall, it was just replacing the knowledge I had acquired from places like incel subreddits and forums with real-world experience. You can read PUA and incel forums all day long and get two totally different ideas of nightlife, or you can go out and get another idea entirely.
Yep. All it requires is that you just GET OUT of the incel subculture for a short time — whether you literally start going to nightclubs or simply free yourself from incel thinking long enough to see that what the incels are telling you is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Our former incel admits that this can be more difficult than it sounds.
When I finally came to my senses it involved me throwing out all of my previously held beliefs and ideologies. In theory, it sounds easy but if you’re a Democrat or Republican, imagine making the intellectual leap from one side to the other, it’s like doing that. Here you’ve been told to despise women, despite attractive guys that get those women, despise pop-culture and the things around it, now you have take all that and conclude that it was all wrong and you need to listen to the other side. And all the while you are trying to do this the community that you had around you is pointing to reasons why you shouldn’t make that ideological leap.
Nonetheless, it is possible. This guy did it. Others have done it.
The former incel ends his post with some words for those still caught up in the incel cult:
From this I want to leave a bit of advice for Incels that might read this. It can be hard to embrace advice from a side of society that has ostrizied you. But at the of the day what side do you want ot be on. Give whatever excuse you want but at the end of the day you know where you want to be. My journey from that community took years of standing the corner at parties, getting rejected by girls, getting into fights, it was painful. But from my experience, the pain is worth it.
I’d be curious to hear more stories from former incels who got out. If you’re someone who was once (but no more) under the sway of incel ideas — whether you were a regular on some incel forum or just someone who found themselves being drawn in by their rhetoric, please drop me a note (dfutrelle at gmail) or post your story in the comments below. Tell us what drew you to incel in the first place, how you got pulled in, and how and why you ultimately rejected that way of life.