Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nice Guys, Part II: A Diagram

I've seen some men claim that women say they know what they want, but they don't really know what they want. These ladies say they want a nice guy but then they date jerks. Some thoughts:

  1. Many people (men and women) date jerks when they are still entering the dating world. There's no substitute for experience, and without experience you're a lot more likely to overlook red flags that would warn more experienced people not to bother dating someone. This doesn't mean inexperienced people don't know what they want; it means they haven't yet learned how to locate what they want. You'll notice a lot of people may date jerks for a little while, but once they realize their partner is, in fact, a jerk, they move on--because a jerk isn't what they want.
  2. On the other hand, some people date a jerk, learn that the person is a jerk, and then...keep dating that jerk. I don't pretend to have a good explanation for this. In fact, it drives me crazy. However I'm not convinced that a) this is a phenomenon exclusive to women or b) that most--much less all--women do this.
  3. There is a lot more to attraction than whether someone is nice or a jerk. Off the top of my head (in no particular order), there's work ethic, ambition, passion, physical attraction, honesty, loyalty, playfulness, confidence, optimism, sense of humor, education, religious views, political views, socioeconomic status, family history, and so on. There are all sorts of combinations of these traits and more that may lead to initial attraction and/or long-standing relationships.
When people talk about the "nice guy" situation no one seems to bother to define "nice guy," but in my experience it tends to mean a thoughtful man who is not all that confident. Those two traits seem to be consistent in "nice guys," while I've seen everything else vary. 

I hope it's obvious that the following diagram is a simplification. Not every single woman wants a confident guy necessarily, and I've known women who stayed and seemed satisfied with guys that weren't all that thoughtful. Also, the diagram doesn't take into account the myriad of other possible factors in attraction. Just assume they're all lurking in the center somewhere.

The only point I'm trying to make here is that the options aren't simply "nice guys" or jerks. Most women who say they want a nice guy do, in fact, want a nice guy, but that doesn't mean "niceness" is the only thing they're looking for.


  1. So, one of my college roommates was a "pick-up artist", and I have since been pointed to a number of these guys. Some of them are so good at what they do that they write books, and some even have TV shows. The basic gist is that certain actions and treatment of women can strongly influence them to sleep with you.

    What kinds of actions? Holding open doors, buying flowers, asking how her day was and listening to her problems? Nope. Pick-up artists use a mixture of insults and withholding attention.

    Apparently if you treat a woman terribly enough and make her feel bad enough about herself, you can successfully get her to sleep with you. And apparently it's much more irresistible to that end than being "nice".

    Whereas the "nice" guys who glom on to women in hopes of winning her heart in the long game, they get to hear stories of these people coming up and insulting and debasing her and yet sleeping with her, then "oh, you're a really nice guy, but I just want to be friends".

    I guess you could adopt a strategy of initially treating her like crap and putting her down, and then once you've won her over, to be sensitive and caring and supportive? But even then I'm not convinced she'd stay with you if you weren't a domineering idiot.

    I'm kind of bitter. Sorry.

    You do make some good points. It isn't a nice/jerk dichotomy when it comes to attraction. What needs to be given more attention is that females are capable of being attracted to men for reasons other than their personality. And you're right about lack of experience; that certainly plays a role in the discrepancy between stated relationship ideals and reality.

    1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but pick-up artists aren't going for relationships. They're going for sex. I'm dubious their methods would work to achieve your goals, which sound more like meaningful romantic connection.

      I also wonder how their goals inevitably change the selection of women they interact with. Some women are more willing than others to sleep with guys they don't know that well, regardless of what specific traits they find attractive. Maybe it's old fashioned, but I still think interest in a long-term, meaningful relationship and willingness to sleep with people tend to be loosely inversely related, especially for women.

      And, at the risk of being repetitive, I don't buy that most or all women respond the way you say to insults and withheld attention. I know some do, but I'm dubious it's inherent to my sex. Certainly none of the women I'm close to find that remotely attractive. Certainly I don't, and I never did--even when I had zero experience and was incredibly naive in other ways. Maybe my personal experiences are just biasing me, but I'd need to see some kind of convincing stats before I'd believe this is such a widespread phenomenon.

    2. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but pick-up artists aren't going for relationships. They're going for sex."

      You are correct. And they do have different goals from me. It doesn't make it any easier to hear that a woman you actually care about and want a relationship with is being abused and mistreated by men with whom she's more than willing to have sex.

      And pick-up artists might specifically target a particular type of woman. I don't think they do, but then I don't know.

      Sorry, I realize you're a woman and so all this complaining might be raising your hackles. I'll stop now.

    3. No apology needed. I was just thinking after I wrote my previous comment that I always learn new things when people interact with my blog posts. I really know nothing about pick-up artists and sort of forgot they existed.

      And yes, it's infuriating to watch anyone you care a lot about put up with terrible treatment. I've never experienced that in terms of a woman I was interested in (obv) but I've had somewhat similar experiences with guys I've liked, platonic friends (men and women), and siblings. It's horrible to watch.

      Personally, though, I may start off upset with whoever is treating them badly but if the bad treatment lasts long enough though, I start to feel more upset with the person putting up with it.

      I wasn't suggesting pick up artists target a particular type of woman. I was suggesting their methods are only effective with particular types of women.