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Jan 06 2014

The trials and tribulations of a single man

We’re all flawed human beings. As a single male constantly on the lookout for female companionship, I can readily admit one of the flaws inherent in the hetero-sexual Y-chromosome community is we, that is men, are easily manipulated by looks. It only takes a few months of puberty to go from painting No Girls Allowed signs on our tree forts to suddenly noticing the pretty faces and shapely bodies quickening on the other side of the sexual divide. But we spend the rest of our lives learning, or trying to learn, how to deal with the consequences. That knowledge doesn’t come easy. To this day, at age 51 and even as a hard-nosed cynical skeptic, I occasionally find myself wanting to give a pretty girl a pass for behavior and actions that wouldn’t be available to other ladies and certainly denied to my fellow man.

At least I’m aware of it, I know it’s a weakness, and as any recovering alcoholic or reformed gambling addict can attest, recognizing you have a problem is half the battle. So I wonder, are women as equally aware that they have a similar weakness for jerks?

Years ago I was a lifeguard for a summer in a water park in Central Texas called Schlitterbahn. It was a pretty good job for a college student. Lots of girls wearing next to nothing. Lots of other people trying to skirt the rules and kill themselves. You have to be attentive as a lifeguard, 99 times out of a 100 you get false alarms, but that one real one will leave a memory.

I remember one time watching a kid treading water, which was kind of weird because it was only three feet deep where he was, there was little danger, but something about the way his eyes bulged and the way he was moving his arms jumped out at me. Then a little trickle of blood appeared by his face. I yelled at a nearby adult, who turned out to out be his father, to check on him. Everything turned out fine, but the kid was epileptic, he wasn’t’ treading water, he was having a seizure. Another time a little girl disappeared below the ledge in front of my stand, she was gone for longer than she should have been. I was just starting to climb down to look when another guard on the other side suddenly dove in and swam over, the kid had somehow wedged herself between the ladder and the side of the pool. Her lips were as blue as a pair of jeans by the time we pulled her out. Fortunately, she started coughing and breathing on her own as soon as we laid her out on the side. Between stuff like that and the usual crap, kids running, people trying to sneak in beer in glass containers, you had to pay attention.

Almost everyday groups of young women would sort of congregate around my stand and chat me up. Under any other circumstances, a flock of hot young babes wearing bikinis would command my full attention. But as a guard, I had to keep scanning my section, occasionally blow my whistle and call someone out. And I noticed a funny thing for the first time: the girls chatting with me would almost compete with that duty for more attention. It was as if not being able to pay full attention to them somehow made them more interested in getting it. And in the process of thinking about that I learned a cardinal rule about dating.

It’s not that women are pathologically attracted to tire-slashing wife beating-assholes, but if you give them too much attention, too soon, it does seem to turn them off. OTOH, if you remain distant, forget the occasional birthday, if you are less emotionally available, or at least preoccupied, they tend to respond by seeking more communication, greater openness, IOW, they seem to like you more. Sad to say, being new and back in the dating world for the first time in years, I forgot the hard won lessons of past youthful summers, and the consequences won’t come down hard just on me.

I was dating a girl over the last few months who lives in another town. She had just gotten out of a long term relationship with a bit of an asshole and, thanks to him, her self esteem was in the shitter. Which made me sad, because she’s awesome. So I was extra nice to her. At first she seemed to return the favor, but pretty quickly she started acting distant, didn’t call as much, didn’t seem interested in getting together as much, in short displaying the signs that she had either grown tired of me or met someone else. So, being in the nice phase, I deftly let her know several times that if she wanted to just be friends that was OK, that if she found someone else I would be happy for her. And every time I did that she denied her feelings had changed, said she wasn’t seeing anyone, and claimed she wanted to keep seeing me.

Until, a few nights ago, I get this weird, creepy message from her Facebook account that read, “She’s been lying to you and leading you on, she’s been with me the whole time, she’s passed out next to me in bed right now.” Someone had gotten on her account and sent that to me. Later that same night I got a weird email with a bogus return addy from the same guy that made it clear that he knew all about me, and he had info about our history he could only have gotten from her.

So, I was cool and calm, no big deal, I sent a note to her work email with the text so she would know what happened, what was said, and that this guy was doing creepy shit. I confidently expected an explanation, instead, she went some kind of shtick about how we guys are all assholes and I was being weird and she thought we were just friends. In short, she chose to stay with some clown who jacked her account and got pissed at me for asking what the hell I had been dragged into. That’s how it stands, my guess is she’ll never tell me what happened, or why she felt the need to keep me in the dark, or why this guy knows so much. My guess is she’ll simply not ever talk to me again.

And it hit me, of course. I had been nice. This lady has a lot of great attributes, but she got bored with me as a nice guy and was obviously attracted to a jerk. I had broken the cardinal rule, and not only would I pay the price starting with that awkward encounter and a mystery I’ll never get to the bottom of, she’ll be stuck liking a guy who now knows he can get away with anything and she’ll still come back.

I can’t say why some guys are jerks and some aren’t, because I don’t know. But ladies, I can tell you this, the reason many of us learn to pretend to be jerks is the same reason you learn to starve yourselves or wear uncomfortable shoes: it works. And as long as it works, we’ll keep doing it.

49 comments

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  1. 1
    WithinThisMind

    wow, that’s a lot of generalizations. So a half dozen girls have been convinced that their only value is in how much male attention they can grab, and suddenly all girls want jerks? You got a thing for a girl that has been messed up and broken and suddenly all girls want jerks? Patriarchy messes with women’s heads to fuck over their self-esteem and your answer is ‘it’s our fault guys are jerks’?

    Fortunately, plenty of men out there have come to much more rational conclusions and have not only decided not to be jerks, but to point out to other guys that they should stop being jerks as well.

  2. 2
    Blueaussi

    Well said, WithinThisMind!

  3. 3
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    It’s not a generalization based on “half a dozen a girls” who ‘all want jerks,’ it’s millions of men and women who encounter this puzzling phenomenon all the time and there are TV shows, books, and forums full of enough examples of it to keep one busy reading for the rest of one’s life. You can go to sites based in Tehran written in Farsi and find the exact same kind of discussion, it is a universal human phenomenon. There are guys who are jerks, they get away with it time and time again, they know how to manipulate women, and the amount of damage done that I and every other normal guy I know has had to witness and in some cases try to deal with because of these assholes is tremendous.

  4. 4
    Rowan vet-tech

    Too much attention too soon can make a guy seem like a creeper/stalker type.

    But.

    There are plenty of women who do like “nice guys” and stay with them. My boyfriend is one such. We’ve been dating for 5 years, but I’ve loved him for 13. If I hadn’t been in a committed relationship with another very nice guy when I met my current boyfriend, I most certainly would attempted to start one.

    I know you’re upset, but your generalizations are of the sort that make me avoid a man when I encounter this in person. And that makes me sad, because I enjoy your blog very much.

  5. 5
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    Well, I learned my lesson, and romantic intrigue is one way to stay young, eh?

  6. 6
    jambonpomplemouse

    Wow, I had to double check what website I’m reading. One woman did something mean to you, without actually providing any explanation. You created your own explanation without anything close to sufficient evidence to suggest that “women only date jerks”, and then went ahead and applied that line of reasoning to literally half the world’s population. Way to skeptic, bro.

    I suspect you’re just hurting over a bad relationship, and a month from now you’re going to look back on this blog entry and cringe with embarrassment.

  7. 7
    Pteryxx

    There are guys who are jerks, they get away with it time and time again, they know how to manipulate women…

    …and your conclusion from this is ‘girls *prefer* jerks, sucks for nice guys like me’ and not ‘predatory guys prey on women and get away with it because almost everyone thinks this is just normal’ ?

    Seriously?

    Here’s an alternative reading of this string of events, from my admittedly biased viewpoint as a survivor.

    At first she seemed to return the favor, but pretty quickly she started acting distant, didn’t call as much, didn’t seem interested in getting together as much, in short displaying the signs that she had either grown tired of me or met someone else.

    Or she was intimidated, or felt she didn’t deserve to be treated that well and payback time might be coming (as per previous relationship and low self-esteem above); or, she was already dealing with this other guy’s attempts to monopolize her time and interfere with her freedom. The predator types often claim unilaterally that they’re ‘in a relationship’ as soon as they fix on a target – see also how stalkers behave.

    “She’s been lying to you and leading you on, she’s been with me the whole time, she’s passed out next to me in bed right now.” Someone had gotten on her account and sent that to me. Later that same night I got a weird email with a bogus return addy from the same guy that made it clear that he knew all about me, and he had info about our history he could only have gotten from her.

    Or he got that info from reading her private accounts or snooping on her without her permission, or pressuring her to reveal who she was calling that interfered with his attempts to monopolize her time. Don’t assume that this awesome person willingly gave him info just to play you off each other. (Also, ‘passed out in bed’ doesn’t inspire confidence about her willingness to be there, either.)

    I confidently expected an explanation, instead, she went some kind of shtick about how we guys are all assholes and I was being weird and she thought we were just friends.

    And while I’m really guessing here, it’s plausible that the jerk may have intercepted that email also, or more likely he told her some sort of story about what a nosy creep *you* are, to make sure that him sending you that sneery ‘she’s mine’ email wouldn’t rebound upon him when you, an above-board type, contacted her about it. I don’t know what the details would be, but I know from first-hand experience with my abuser that they pull this kind of stunt.

    And that’s why I seriously question your conclusion:

    In short, she chose to stay with some clown who jacked her account and got pissed at me for asking what the hell I had been dragged into.

    I don’t know what if anything you can do about the situation, but assuming people (who aren’t always ‘girls’ btw) just stay with manipulative abusers because they LIKE it, is… shall we say… not. helpful.

  8. 8
    WithinThisMind

    —the amount of damage done that I and every other normal guy I know has had to witness and in some cases try to deal with because of these assholes is tremendous. —

    So, your take-away from this isn’t ‘wow, we should do something about rape culture so that this behavior stops being acceptable’ but rather ‘hey, those guys get laid, I should be like them?’ With a hefty dose of ‘why you gotta make me be mean to you, baby?’

    Fuck that.

    —-So, I was cool and calm, no big deal, I sent a note to her work email with the text so she would know what happened, what was said, and that this guy was doing creepy shit.—

    Cause sending relationship drama to her WORK email, the email her bosses may very well monitor and question her about, is totally cool, right?

    And in spite of all your ‘just friends’, when it turned out that’s what she wanted, you what? Got your ‘confident expectations’ aka entitlement dashed so bitches be crazy, amirite?

    — I had broken the cardinal rule, and not only would I pay the price starting with that awkward encounter and a mystery I’ll never get to the bottom of, she’ll be stuck liking a guy who now knows he can get away with anything and she’ll still come back—

    Yeah yeah, you put in nice tokens and didn’t get sex out of it. She has to deal with a manipulative, abusive, controlling jerk in a patriarchy dominated world, but still, you didn’t get laid and have to wonder what if so you are the one we should be feeling sorry for. Cause she deserves what she gets for not putting out after you were so nice to her, right?

    ‘Nice guys’ can do the world a favor and just go fuck themselves.

    Posts like this make me glad I’m bisexual. If something ever happens to my wonderful husband, swearing off men forever is probably my best option.

    Here is a hint on a lesson you should learn – patriarchy is fucked up, and many of the ways it fucks up women’s lives has damaging consequences to men as well. Maybe, I dunno, instead of contributing to the problem and blaming women, you should look at how your own behavior contributes to the cycle.

  9. 9
    WithinThisMind

    —it’s millions of men and women who encounter this puzzling phenomenon all the time and there are TV shows, books, and forums full of enough examples of it to keep one busy reading for the rest of one’s life—

    If you think this phenomenon is at all ‘puzzling’, you haven’t been paying attention. This is 101 level shit. Here, take two of these and call a rectal-cranial inversion specialist in the morning

    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/
    http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/

  10. 10
    ludicrous

    ” And as long as it works, we’ll keep doing it.”

    Hi Stephen,

    No, it does not work in the long run and “we” will not keep doing it. If you build up a stereotype of women based on this experience you will shoot yourself in the foot and you will be very unfair to the next woman you meet.

    You implied in the beginning that looks are very important to you. Perhaps you think there is nothing you can do about that. Might I suggest that it is possible to go beyond that or at least to minimize that restriction you place on yourself and the women that you meet. I think of it as a social disability. Why do you think so many men give so much importance to physical appearance? What does it do for them? Do you need that? Question yourself about that as you observe women from a distance.

    You can safely assume that there is nothing crooked about the great majority of women. You can keep yourself safe by not ignoring the warning signs as you did in this relationship. Go over those warning signs that you related and ask yourself what motivated you to look past them.

    Start fresh with women, let go of what you think you have learned, allow the next women you meet tell you what she is like.. She will like that a lot.

  11. 11
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    Everytime I bring this up, there’s always one or two folks who seem like they’re trying out for applause lines on doctor Phil by saying some politically correct, popular soundbytes that give us the warm fuzzies. For whatever reason, there is resistance to the fact that there are some guys who are assholes and there are some women who reward them for being assholes. I don’t know why that is, but as long as its taboo and we’re not allowed to discuss it out without being personally attacked, it’s not going to get better for anyone. Except the assholes.

  12. 12
    WithinThisMind

    —For whatever reason, there is resistance to the fact that there are some guys who are assholes and there are some women who reward them for being assholes.—

    Yes. Some people are assholes.

    You pointing that out isn’t what anyone is objecting too. You stating that isn’t why anyone is ‘personally attacking’ you.

    Go back to my first post. Look at the very first sentence. That should clarify for you the response you are getting.

  13. 13
    mudskipper

    It’s not a generalization based on “half a dozen a girls” who ‘all want jerks,’ it’s millions of men and women who encounter this puzzling phenomenon all the time and there are TV shows, books, and forums full of enough examples of it to keep one busy reading for the rest of one’s life. You can go to sites based in Tehran written in Farsi and find the exact same kind of discussion, it is a universal human phenomenon.

    You should know better than this. After all, millions of men and women have had personal experience of God. There are tons of TV shows, books, forums, full of examples of personal experiences with God. Must mean that God exists, amirite?

    Or, everyone knows that women talk more than men. That’s just a universal human truth, testified to by millions of men and women. Until, of course, scientific studies show that it’s probably not true.

    If you want to determine truth by personal testimony, here’s mine: in my 60 years of life, I have known very few women who prefer to be with jerks. The vast majority of the women I’ve known have chosen to be with men whom they like and trust.

  14. 14
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    Mudskipper, if you’re saying I have to first prove to some arbitrary metaphysical certainty that relationships exist and assholes walk among us before we can talk about them, then I guess you got me :)

    Here’s the problem with this kind of discussion: it always gets sidetracked into someone thinking it’s an attack on women, or trying to shoehorn it into an attack on women, or something like that, and then, after manipulating it into that narrative, others come bravely come riding in for the rescue against the mean man who is attacking women. It’s not an attack on women, it’s an attack on assholes. It’s the assholes that are causing the problem here and it always has been. For the most part, not always but more often than not, the assholes are men, the women are usually the victims. And they’re not the only victims, other men also pay for the assholes, just like I did this very weekend.

    I’m sorry if that story above made someone unhappy, or if I wrote it poorly, but that’s what actually happened, it’s not fiction. I don’t get to change the plot or swap out characters and tie it up with a nice ending. I wish I could.

  15. 15
    Brandon

    For whatever reason, there is resistance to the fact that there are some guys who are assholes and there are some women who reward them for being assholes.

    You understand that this is often the result of women repeating the cycles of abuse that they’ve suffered in the past, right? That the women that keep doing this over and over are pretty clearly victims, not perpetrators? I understand your frustration with this circumstance and the situation in general, but there needs to be some more empathy here.

    It’s also worth noting that if this is what you experience with women every time, then it’s a result of the selection process you’re using. I’ve observed this sort of behavior too, but it’s not something I encounter with every single woman I’m interested in. If it was, I’d be a bit worried that I was doing something, subconsciously, that resulted in me gravitating primarily towards women who were abused, that I might actually be predatory. If this is your experience, it may be time for some introspection on why you’re not dating women that don’t behave in this fashion.

  16. 16
    Brandon

    Well, I wish I could edit that post, since you made it pretty clear that you do, in fact, understand that this pattern of behavior results from being victimized. Still, I think it’s worth thinking about why it is that the women you’re attracting exhibit this pattern of behavior. This is not something that’s common to all women.

  17. 17
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    It’s no problem, Brandon, I was editing it and hit post too soon.

    So if I could get this back on track, I’m aware that I am flawed, I have a weakness that can and has been exploited, specifically, and especially when I was younger, one of those flaws is a pretty girl could manipulate me, particularly if I’m not careful (And please, fellas, let’s not all pile on Steve here declaring how you are the one in a thousand guy who doesn’t even notice looks). I’m wondering if women are likewise aware and vigilant that SOME OF THEM might have a similar weakness for jerks or jerk-like behavior.

  18. 18
    Chaos Engineer

    Another possibility is that the woman herself is a jerk: In this scenario she was never seriously interested in you, but was just using you as a foil to make the other guy jealous. It might be that the other guy is also a jerk, or he could be a nice guy who normally enjoys all the relationship drama but didn’t want to see you hurt by her machinations.

    So based on what we’ve got so far, I think we can break women (and men) up into three categories:

    1 – People who like a lot of senseless relationship drama in their lives. You can make yourself appealing to this sort of woman by acting like a jerk — but remember that you’ll have to deal with a lot of senseless drama. That might or might not be a good thing, depending on what you’re looking for in a relationship.

    2 – People who don’t like senseless relationship drama. You can make yourself appealing to this sort of woman by NOT acting like a jerk.

    3 – People who don’t like senseless relationship drama, but find it difficult to extricate themselves from bad relationships. (Pteryxx described some of the psychology of this up above.) Using jerklike behavior to force yourself into a relationship with this sort of woman is unethical, even if you think you can get away with it. It’s better to just present yourself as a decent human being and let it be known that you’re available for a healthy relationship if the other person ever gets tired of dysfunctional ones. It’s better still if you move on and look for people who are already available for healthy relationships.

    Also, about this bit:

    I had broken the cardinal rule

    Wasn’t the cardinal rule to keep some emotional distance? You’re the one who kept the rule, by hinting several times that you just wanted to be friends and that she’d be happier if she found someone else. Her ex is the one who broke the rule, by refusing to take “no” for an answer and forcing his way back into her life and Facebook account. (Not that I’m saying you should have done something like that. That sort of obsessive behavior will come across as creepy and threatening in most contexts, and it’s a bad idea unless you’re 100% certain that it will be welcomed.)

  19. 19
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    Good points, kudos.

  20. 20
    zombiemoogle

    ” I have known very few women who prefer to be with jerks. The vast majority of the women I’ve known have chosen to be with men whom they like and trust.”
    @mudskipper: If this is a genuine statement, then I am truly envious of you

    This is an unfortunate pattern that many, if not most people have been acquainted with at one time or another. As evolved as we may be, we are all animals & this appears to surface most often when pair-bonding is concerned. I don’t consider negative social paradigms like this to be inevitabilities (or at least I I like to think they aren’t), but they’re existence within our culture is undeniable.
    As the last sentence in this article brings up, we all do things to make ourselves seem more “appealing” to a potential mate; this includes modifying our behavior. Much as it pains me to admit this, displaying disinterest is one of the more affective means of attracting attention from a desired partner; left-over instinctive “pack alpha” B.S., I figure (& also why I don’t much enjoy the dating scene).

    Thing to take away is self-reflection, I suppose. I’ve been both those guys at one point or another. I’ve been that woman as well, gravitating to abusive relationships because if they treated me poorly, then they could probably do better than me, so they must be of value. Step back from it & the patterns emerge. Nothing to do but try not to repeat them

  21. 21
    Deen

    This experience clearly sucked, but please don’t take the lesson that it’s better to be jerky than nice. It’s not niceness that turns people off, it’s neediness. And it’s not jerkiness that attracts people, but confidence. You know, like being confident enough to boss people around in a pool. That probably got you more attention than being “disinterested”. Unfortunately, people often seem to confuse the two, definitely including the jerks, and yes, including some people who fall in love with jerks – but also the nice guys who secretly wish they could be more like the jerks.

    And I have to say, this:

    So, being in the nice phase, I deftly let her know several times that if she wanted to just be friends that was OK, that if she found someone else I would be happy for her. And every time I did that she denied her feelings had changed, said she wasn’t seeing anyone, and claimed she wanted to keep seeing me.

    is not being nice. Asking repeatedly for confirmation of her interest in you, and not taking her word for it so you have to ask her several more times? Not nice. And not confident either.

    So please, don’t become a jerk, and don’t pretend to be one either. You’ll just end up with someone who won’t appreciate the real you, which is bound to fail one way or another.

  22. 22
    leni

    So I wonder, are women as equally aware that they have a similar weakness for jerks?

    I don’t have a weakness for jerks. I, much like many other humans, have a weakness for men I’d like to “sleep” with. Some of those men have been jerks, most of them haven’t been. But there haven’t been too many occasions where being nice to me made me attracted to someone I wasn’t attracted to. That’s just me, I’m not saying it is a bad strategy (being nice is mostly a good thing), but it can feel manipulative and even smothering- especially if you are giving a lukewarm response. There are times when I have become attracted to someone I wasn’t initially attracted to, but that is genuine personality clicking. It’s not really about niceness, but it hasn’t happened ever with a jerk and never will. In that case niceness is necessary but not really sufficient.

    Similarly, there have been no occasions I can recall where being mean to me made me want to have to sex with someone I previously didn’t. It just moves them from probably not to definitely not.

    Again, just me though.

  23. 23
    Michael Brew

    I sympathize with you. I’ve had a few experiences like this, too, where I was rejected for someone I perceived as a jerk when I thought I was being “nice,” and I had the same kind of thoughts. That’s natural, I suppose. Thing is natural isn’t always correct. You’re seeing it from your perspective, and while you may know you have pure intentions, the other person certainly doesn’t. I’ve thought I was being nice and funny and cute to a girl I liked and then mutual friends will come up to me and say, no, I was being a little weird. It looks different from the outside. In the same way, while you may perceive the other guy as a jerk, you don’t know that much about him or how he interacts with her. He’s a “competitor” for you, so of course your bias is going to make you see his actions, what little you’ve seen, in a negative light and apply that to him in totality. He could also be very much a jerk and manipulating her for all you know. Finally, you seem to be under the impression that women select their partners on a basis of niceness vs. jerkiness. They don’t, any more than men do. I’ve liked nice girls and I’ve liked mean girls, myself (heck, I actually had a huge crush on a girl who was a terrible bully to me and others… didn’t like it, but I couldn’t help it). Maybe there are other factors that have a cormobidity with jerkiness that women are attracted to? Confidence, perhaps (emotional detachment can read as this, too, which is why your more psychopathic abusers might be found attractive)? Other heterosexual women may go for powerful men or men who seem “exciting” or men who “need to be fixed.” Any of these types can overlap with the jerky type. The best you can do is try not to seem like you could be a creeper rapist type, because in this world that will get you rejected real quick regardless of how nice you think you’re being.

  24. 24
    Four Sided

    You shouldn’t be having sex anyway. Sexuality is an immoral practice, because all sexual interactions necessarily involve privileging some people over others. You treat those you are having sex with better (in some ways) than those you aren’t. This is not egalitarian. It is the same reason that friendship and familial fealty are immoral. You should only love/hate individuals based on their actions and traits. Treating someone better because you know them better is counter to social justice. Loving your own child more than someone else’s child is not rationally justifiable. It’s simply treating someone better due to genetics. In this way, it’s similar to racism.

    In other ways, sex involves thinking untoward thoughts about the subject (or more often object) of sexual desire. Sexual thoughts are necessarily ones which fail to properly evaluate others. You evaluate someone for arbitrary characteristics which appeal to primitive, base desires, as opposed to evaluating them based on their more objective merits. Sexual thoughts are therefore always a form of objectification and should be avoided to the maximum extent biologically possible.

    Never have sex and don’t masturbate either. Purge sexual thoughts and desires from your mind as quickly as possible. This is the only way to be moral. If you are too weak to reject all sex, at least have the moral decency to be homosexual. Homosexuality is morally superior to heterosexuality. While it still involves the moral failings of sex, it is not inherently patriarchal and inherently counter-egalitarian. It CAN be, but it does not have to be. Exodus international had it completely backwards. They should be trying every method possible to make all children asexual or, failing that, homosexual.

    Lastly, you may wonder how reproduction is to occur. IVF, for the moment, is unfortunately the least of all evils. However, it still requires masturbation and it still requires using a woman’s body as an incubator, 2 despicable forms of objectification. In the future, the only moral choice will be the use of technology to produce artificial incubators and the use of saliva (or other non-sexual DNA samples) to produce artificial spermatozoa and ova. No sex, and no sexual parts needed. No need to force a woman to undergo the degrading humiliation of childbirth.

    In addition, the state will be able to have complete control on the population levels, allowing us to ensure all children born are perfect race mixtures (this eliminates race and therefore racism), that all unfair genetic disadvantages are eliminated, and that every child is born without sex, gender, sexual desire, or any other anti-egalitarian and anti-civilization traits. Technology will allow for much greater fairness and equality. Everyone will be born nearly identical, removing any basis for hatred or prejudice.

  25. 25
    Marcus Ranum

    The trick is to tell yourself from the assholes.

  26. 26
    Holms

    “For whatever reason, there is resistance to the fact that there are some guys who are assholes…”

    Uh no, no resistence on that point

    “…and there are some women who reward them for being assholes.”

    None, or very little here, as well. No, the resistence kicks in when you use these two points to make generalisations such as:

    “So I wonder, are women as equally aware that they have a similar weakness for jerks?”

    Which has the added bonus of being massively patronising. “Say grrls, are you aware of this weird character flaw I have discovered in you?” Yeah, that’s where the objections come from.

  27. 27
    ludicrous

    Deen @ 21

    I woke up this morning still appreciating your response, incisive, concise with no negative edge. How did you learn to do that? Do you have a relationships blog?

    Ed, PZ, invite this Deen person to start a relationships blog here on FTB

  28. 28
    =8)-DX

    It seems, at 51 you haven’t learned much. It’s also odd that you consider “dating girls” rather than adult women at that age.

    remain distant, forget the occasional birthday, if you are less emotionally available, or at least preoccupied, they tend to respond by seeking more communication, greater openness, IOW, they seem to like you more

    If you act like a jerk as described, and a partner asks for more intimacy/openness, etc: it’s because they like you more and are therefore interested in improving the relationship as well as more likely to notice possible threats, it’s not the cause of their liking you.

    There’s no “jerks vs nice guys” in play here. Acting patronising, clingy or “extra nice” is just further jerky behaviour – its hypocritical and annoying.

    And furthermore I don’t think that other man was acting a “jerk” in this situation – it was actually quite a thoughtful thing – he saw his partner’s facebook open, knew that you thought you were in a relationship or something and wanted to let you know the actual situation.

    Another mistake you make here is universal – considering there to be categories of “just friends” and “dating”.. relationships are a continuum, and people don’t “belong” to anyone but themselves.

    Meh. But then I guess after two more decades all be all experienced like you.. meh.

  29. 29
    robertbaden

    I’ve noticed in my lady friends that complain about how their current male friend treats them that they aren’t much different than those called “nice guys.” They can’t accept just what is freely given; they want and feel they are entitled to more.

  30. 30
    Holms

    Ah, you’re just in time to pay no attention whatsoever to the preceding conversation.

  31. 31
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    It’s not that women are pathologically attracted to tire-slashing wife beating-assholes, but if you give them too much attention, too soon, it does seem to turn them off.

    This is as far as I got. This conclusion is so fucking twisted. Thought you were a decent person. Turns out you’re a sexist jerk who stereotypes and objectifies women.

  32. 32
    WithinThisMind

    You know something funny?

    Years ago, when I was a lifeguard, I had all these guys coming over and trying to get my attention. Lots of guys there, wearing speedos and posing.

    And when I didn’t pay attention to them, it wasn’t because I was, ya know, trying to be a good lifeguard or anything. It was obviously because I was a frigid lesbian bitch who just needed a good dicking whether I wanted one or not.

    Later, I got a bit older and stopped being a size 0 with large boobs. And now, if I didn’t want their attention, not only was I a frigid lesbian bitch who just needed a good dicking whether I wanted one or not I was also a fat ugly old cunt who should be grateful they paid me the slightest bit of attention at all.

    So the take away I got from this is ladies, get plastic surgery and lipo and act like a giggly, airheaded brat who puts out for anyone who buys her jewelry. It doesn’t work any better than any other option, but at least you get jewelry and hey, for ‘girls’, that’s almost like winning, right?

    But whatever you do, don’t dare be a woman who doesn’t want to fall on a guy’s dick just because he thinks he’s being nice, because then you are frigid bitch and there is something wrong with you. But also, make sure you aren’t a woman who falls on a guy’s dick just because he thinks he’s being nice, because then you are a slut and there is something wrong with you. And don’t point out the problem, because then you are a fat ugly feminazi and there is something wrong with you. And don’t get fed up with the crap, because then you are a hysterical bitch personally attacking innocent people and there is something wrong with you. And don’t let the fact that you can’t win make you despair, because then you are a damaged bitch who obviously likes being mistreated and there is something wrong with you. And if you aren’t an ‘alpha’ female you don’t actually exist at all because there is something wrong with you. And if you are an ‘alpha’ female don’t you dare think you can have standards because that just means you are an uptight, arrogant, uppity bitch and there is something wrong with you.

    And remember, ladies, when you hit 30, let alone 51, you are completely worthless and if you think you get to be on the dating market at all then there is something totally wrong with you.

    Just stand there and be a pretty object for whatever guy wants you and don’t develop any thoughts, feelings, opinions, or life of your own. Because if there is ever anything wrong with you, it’s okay for patriarchal society to punish you for it.

  33. 33
    WithinThisMind

    Sorry, but the unexamined privilege of the initial whine is just so… I mean, seriously.

    You are a 51 year old non-’alpha’ male fresh back to the dating world and can still reasonably go somewhere and hit on a ‘pretty girl’.

    I’m a 33 year old non-’alpha’ female. What do you suppose would happen if I went out and started hitting on ‘pretty boys’?

    So why is it if the pretty girls aren’t interested in you, it’s because there is something wrong with them, but according to society, if I mirrored your actions, it shows there is something wrong with me?

  34. 34
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    This is as far as I got. This conclusion is so fucking twisted. Thought you were a decent person. Turns out you’re a sexist jerk who stereotypes and objectifies women.

    Word. I think you can add “manipulative” in there too.

  35. 35
    MadHatter

    This entire thing read very much like nearly every “nice guy” rant I’ve ever heard. And that’s not a good thing.

    The emotional distance stuff is just game-playing. Pretty much straight out of PUA books at that. Which isn’t nice at all. And instead of questioning your ability to pick potential partners you turn it around on the potential partner. She (or women generally since you’re generalizing) is at fault for her poor pick of potential partners, because she didn’t pick you.

    Interesting that. Also awfully typical.

    You know what I can generalize as a 36 year old single woman? That all of my women friends who have consistently dated jerks were abused and often continue to get involved with abusive men. That the couple of men I dated who were jerks turned out to be abusive, they just seemed nice at first. I can also generalize that every man I met who cried “but I’m such a nice guy” really wasn’t.

    Despite that I’ve had no trouble dating perfectly friendly, respectful, straightforward men who don’t play games. Go figure. Also…I date men. Not boys.

    I’m really disappointed to read this rant here. In general I’ve enjoyed your writing, but this is such a stereotypical sexist attitude and I really didn’t expect that.

  36. 36
    skeptifem

    Most of the objections here are that this isn’t true. I don’t really care if it is or not, because I used to be a cute young girl with a thing for jerky dudes. It was because all I knew was abuse, and the culture around me normalized it so much that I didn’t know anything was amiss for years. I thought it was The Way Things Are. My entire concept of what relationships are supposed to be and how they work was forged in an extremely dysfunctional situation. This is the reality for a lot of girls, they are dealing with something you can’t even begin to comprehend unless you have been through it. If you are criticizing them for the way that they deal with an unbearable situation then you are just kicking these girls while they are down. That isn’t cool with me.

  37. 37
    Daniel Schealler

    I disagree with some of the conclusions in the OP.

    If you give someone everything they want up front on a silver platter, then two things kick in:

    a) They stop investing in you, because they’re already getting everything they want, and;
    b) They stop respecting you.

    This is, I feel, true of all humans regardless of gender. The ways in which men and women express this pattern in terms of specific behaviours is different, because men and women are shaped differently by culture and gender roles. But the underlying pattern is the same.

    Note that for many people, respecting someone is an important requirement for feeling romantic and sexual attraction towards them. So if the respect goes away, they lose interest. This is as true of me as it is of anyone else.

    The question becomes: What do do with this information?

    One obvious move would be to intentionally under-supply a person with something they want – attention, sex, affection, whatever. So long as they continue to want that thing they will try harder to get it. This works, but there’s two big problems:

    a) It’s an asshole move, and;
    b) That’s not how I want to feel about or relate to someone I care about.

    The conclusion I’ve come to myself is a bit different:

    I am of value.

    I deserve to be respected.

    I deserve to be treated kindly.

    I deserve to receive affection.

    I am prepared to put in some initial effort to signal to a woman in whom I am interested that I think she is of value, and that I am prepared to offer her respect, kindness, and affection.

    But I damn well better be met half-way on that, and soon. If my regard isn’t reciprocated then I’m out. Being lonely is better than being taken for granted.

    I find that with that mentality in place, not only do I get more out of my relationships – but I actually seem to please my partners more than I did when in the days when I was desperately over-eager to please them.

    Sometimes, less is more.

  38. 38
    Numenaster

    I wondered about the “girls” phrasing too. If you’re dating 20 years outside your age group the term might be appropriate, but you’re not likely to find someone who understands your jokes and shares your view of how the world is. My 58-year-old boyfriend is 12 years older than me, and sometimes it seems like we grew up in different worlds when they were actually neighboring states separated only by the societal change that took place between 1955 and 1967.

    That said, I have observed that when I pay him less attention he pays me more (after a time lag). This sounds (and used to feel) manipulative, but I pay him less attention when he’s consumed by his own problems and becomes grouchy unpleasant company. I’m just finding more rewarding things to do with my time than listen to him complain. When he’s done focusing on himself he comes looking for me, and we both enjoy our time together then.

  39. 39
    smhll

    For whatever reason, there is resistance to the fact that there are some guys who are assholes and there are some women who reward them for being assholes.

    I tend to think the women who fit this pattern are working out their “daddy didn’t love me enough” issues. This childhood rejection has crushed their egos and they are struggling to re-inflate them with male validation.

    But I also think that girls who like bad boys find there is an appealing power in getting the bad boy (the Beast in the fairy tale) to show his tender side in an intimate moment. There’s something transformative about getting the wild creature to eat out of your hand (or whatever) even briefly. And I think that may be why women in abusive relationships cling to the hope the the bad man is going to change, they’ve seen brief changes before.

    Before you dismiss what I say, I’ve been married to the world’s kindest man for decades. I do walk the walk about appreciating an empathetic egalitarian man.

  40. 40
    chiptuneist

    Well I think there’s a lesson to be learned here, Stephen, a much BETTER lesson than the one you think you learned in your youthful summers, and you are completely missing it because you’ve absorbed an obnoxiously common false belief in our culture: the “women like assholes” myth.

    I absolutely DESPISE that myth. I would say that it needs to be thrown into the sun at the next available opportunity, but I’d rather aim for a more distant star to head off the possibility that it will try to sneak back in disguised as daylight.

    I’m going to just skip right ahead to the story you’re telling here, and I hope you’ll recognize that I am sincerely trying to help you see where you’ve made a mistake in how you’re thinking about this. I’m not trying to put you down, I’m not trying to insult you, I’m trying to point out where you went wrong so that you can avoid this kind of situation in the future. Also, I’m trying to get you to let go of a toxic myth that isn’t just holding you back, it’s also a pretty terrible way to think about half of the population. Let’s see:

    I was dating a girl over the last few months who lives in another town. She had just gotten out of a long term relationship with a bit of an asshole and, thanks to him, her self esteem was in the shitter. Which made me sad, because she’s awesome. So I was extra nice to her. At first she seemed to return the favor, but pretty quickly she started acting distant, didn’t call as much, didn’t seem interested in getting together as much, in short displaying the signs that she had either grown tired of me or met someone else. So, being in the nice phase, I deftly let her know several times that if she wanted to just be friends that was OK, that if she found someone else I would be happy for her. And every time I did that she denied her feelings had changed, said she wasn’t seeing anyone, and claimed she wanted to keep seeing me.

    Here’s where you made your first mistake: instead of asking her directly WHY she was being distant, you tried to read ‘signs’. You assumed that her behavior was the result of her losing interest or meeting someone else, instead of the thousands of other possible reasons that she might have been acting this way. Hell, you KNEW she had just gotten out of a bad relationship, and you KNEW that she wasn’t exactly feeling that great about herself. It could have been that she was feeling more depressed than usual, it could have been that she really liked you but wanted to slow things down a bit given how bad her previous relationship was, it could have been any number of other things that wouldn’t even occur to you or I, it could have been something as simple as her just not feeling particularly sociable for a while. But instead of asking her straight out what was going on (unless you did, in which case you probably should have mentioned that because it’s sort of super relevant here) you jumped to the conclusion that it must have something to do with YOU. That was mistake number one.

    Mistake number two is the way you chose to respond to that assumption. You repeatedly told her that you would be totally okay with it if she decided she wanted to just be friends or if she found someone else. REPEATEDLY. And I’m sure you did this with the best of intentions, and I’m sure you meant for it to come across as you being understanding and cool about the whole thing. But you know how I’m guessing it came across to her?

    I’m guessing it sounded a lot like you weren’t really all that into her.

    I mean, like you said, her self esteem wasn’t at the healthiest level. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if what she heard was “I’m not all that invested in this relationship”. And, again, you said this REPEATEDLY. I know that isn’t the message you were TRYING to send, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what she got from it. I also wouldn’t be surprised if she found it incredibly confusing.

    Another possibility is that it came across as you being insecure about things, and that may have manifested in her mind as neediness. And neediness will kill attraction like Lysol kills bacteria. It’s 99.9% effective!

    Until, a few nights ago, I get this weird, creepy message from her Facebook account that read, “She’s been lying to you and leading you on, she’s been with me the whole time, she’s passed out next to me in bed right now.” Someone had gotten on her account and sent that to me. Later that same night I got a weird email with a bogus return addy from the same guy that made it clear that he knew all about me, and he had info about our history he could only have gotten from her.

    As someone else already pointed out, his having that info doesn’t mean she spilled it to him in the gleeful afterglow of sex while they laughed at how clueless you were. There are any number of ways that this could have happened. For all you know her ex knew her password, saw she was with someone new, read your personal correspondences, and decided he’d try to sabotage the whole thing.

    So, I was cool and calm, no big deal, I sent a note to her work email with the text so she would know what happened, what was said, and that this guy was doing creepy shit. I confidently expected an explanation, instead, she went some kind of shtick about how we guys are all assholes and I was being weird and she thought we were just friends.

    Someone else already pointed out that sending that to her WORK EMAIL was a bad move on many levels. As far as her saying she thought you were just friends, once again I wouldn’t be surprised if she got the impression that you weren’t really that interested in being more than that from your repeated insistence that you didn’t really seem to care either way. I hope you see how this might have all been a terrible misunderstanding, but if you insist on clinging to the “women like assholes” myth in order to confirm your perception and framing of this course of events, then all I can say is that I do believe there is some bias all up in that confirmation, yo.

    In short, she chose to stay with some clown who jacked her account and got pissed at me for asking what the hell I had been dragged into.

    That… sounds like an assumption on your part. There are so many ways in which this all could have been a misunderstanding that I’m not exactly convinced that you’ve completely nailed down the Way Things Are.

    That’s how it stands, my guess is she’ll never tell me what happened, or why she felt the need to keep me in the dark, or why this guy knows so much. My guess is she’ll simply not ever talk to me again.
    And it hit me, of course. I had been nice.

    Well, I think you TRIED to be nice, yeah. I think you also should have been more direct and straightforward, and you should have asked what was going on directly instead of jumping to the conclusion that it had something to do with you, and I don’t think it was very nice to send the message you received to her WORK EMAIL.

    This lady has a lot of great attributes, but she got bored with me as a nice guy and was obviously attracted to a jerk.

    And since we’ve come back to that thing I despise, let me just say this: THAT IS NOT AT ALL OBVIOUS. And even that is what happened, it does not at all follow that she was attracted to this person BECAUSE he was a jerk.

    As someone above pointed out, confidence is a universally attractive trait, and if there is one thing many assholes have in spades it’s a confidence unrestrained by self awareness. On the other hand it probably didn’t come across as particularly confident on your part that you felt the need to tell her repeatedly that you were going to be just fine if she found someone else or decided you were just a friend (quite the opposite actually, it reads as insecurity, whether that was what you were TRYING to convey or not).

    I had broken the cardinal rule

    Are you sure? Again, I think it may have been a case of coming across as too UNINTERESTED. It’s a matter of framing and interpretation, and obviously you would have much more information to work with than anyone here would, but given that the conclusion you’ve drawn is just simply wrong, I think you are probably missing something here.

    and not only would I pay the price starting with that awkward encounter and a mystery I’ll never get to the bottom of, she’ll be stuck liking a guy who now knows he can get away with anything and she’ll still come back.

    Say it with me, folks:
    You.
    Are.
    Assuming.

    That appears to be part of a pattern in all of this.

    It sounds to me like the lesson you should learn from all of this is to be more direct about what you want and where you stand when you are in a relationship. From the (admittedly limited) information in this post, it appears that you may have come across as being:

    1: Not as emotionally invested in the relationship as she thought you were, which I can easily imagine someone who had recently had their self esteem badly injured by a shitty ex reading from your response.

    OR

    2: Insecure and requiring constant reassurance that she still had feelings for you and wasn’t with someone else. I can definitely see how someone could get this impression from the way you reacted. Neediness is not attractive.

    I can’t say why some guys are jerks and some aren’t, because I don’t know. But ladies, I can tell you this, the reason many of us learn to pretend to be jerks is the same reason you learn to starve yourselves or wear uncomfortable shoes: it works. And as long as it works, we’ll keep doing it.

    Would you please, PLEASE, not pile on even more wrong by implying that eating disorders are about trying to be more attractive and that they WORK?

    Seriously, I take issue with a lot of what you’ve written here. I’m actually seeing a lot of incredibly toxic attitudes about women in all of this, but from a purely pragmatic point of view those attitudes, regardless of how wrong they are or aren’t, are NOT going to work in your favor if you’re seeking a woman as a romantic partner.

    They won’t work in your favor for a simple (and somewhat ironic) reason:

    It is a myth that women are attracted to assholes.

  41. 41
    trina

    Congrats. That whine would not be out of place on an MRA website.
    This makes me glad I’ve never given money any of the times you needed it though I felt bad at the time I now sm relieved none of my money went to a ‘Nice Guy’.

  42. 42
    jean-nicolasdenonne

    Many of the things that strike me as wrong in this post have already been addressed but this particular bit bugs me out:

    For whatever reason, there is resistance to the fact that there are some guys who are assholes and there are some women who reward them for being assholes.

    Speaking as a guy, I do not enter relationships, sexual or otherwise, with other people to *reward* them. I do it because I want to and because I think it will be beneficial for me. I do not suppose it is any different for anyone else, you included. There is nothing to *win* in the relationship game, some people click, some don’t and you need two people to make a relationship. Maybe you should question the mindset that makes you think returning affection is a reward and withholding it a punishment.

    Maybe you should also question the urge to think you are objectively a better fit for her than the other guy. That is her call to make and an eminently subjective one. You may think she gets it “wrong” but you then set foot on a rather patronizing slope. Do not try to strip people from their agency and respect their choices when it comes to questions of intimacy. You are not helping them and you are not helping yourself by dismissing their choices.

  43. 43
    ludicrous

    “I was dating a girl over the last few months who lives in another town. She had just gotten out of a long term relationship with a bit of an asshole …….”

    Onion version:

    51 year old nice guy with theory that women prefer assholes to nice guys, meets “girl”(age unspecified) who had been long term with an asshole. He sees opportunity to test his theory by pursuing her using tactic of being extra nice. Drama ensues, she doesn’t want him and finds another asshole, theory upheld.

  44. 44
    johnhodges

    All I can add is an anecdote. Some decades ago I read a feature article in the Washington Post, about the women (some young, some old) who lived at a “boarding house for women” in the DC area. All of them were colorful characters. One was a woman in her 20′s, who made this comment: “Of course I’m engaged. But my man is so damn kind. Ya know? I mean, when a man is kind you feel like you can walk all over him. So I date other guys here in DC.”

  45. 45
    jean-nicolasdenonne

    Quoted for truth, from Shakesville, “I have a suggestion”:

    Talking about women as targets, as objects, as things to be approached this way and not approached that way, is not humanizing. It’s othering.

  46. 46
    embertine

    trina, I DID give money when Stephen needed it, and was pleased to help someone who was in trouble through no fault of his own. But seeing this Nice Guy™ rant is very disappointing and not at all what I would have expected.

    For future reference, S; if you can’t even speak about me and my entire gender like we’re people, you can pay your own damn bills.

  47. 47
    pandora

    I never realized the plural of muddled, angry, sexist anecdote is data.

  48. 48
    Four Sided

    Why are you trying to help this person obtain sex? What is wrong with all of you? This is supposed to be a social justice website. You should be opposed to the inherently immoral objectification and dehumanizing favoritism that sexuallity brings about. So muc for caring about human dignity and human rights. You people disgust me.

  49. 49
    Holms

    …What? No one has been giving Steven pointers on how to get laid. You must have skimmed the comment section pretty heavily to come to that opposite-of-correct appraisal.

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