Print Story "Why Nice Guys Finish Last"
By gzt (Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 12:00:12 PM EST) gzt, psychopath, nice, cruel, sadistic (all tags)
Some guy on some Christian advice board somewhere that I troll around when I'm terribly bored was asking about why nice guys always finish last in romance. He was all like, "Girls always go for chemistry over true friendship when it comes to romance, and when I'm nice they only want to be friends with me. When I try not being nice, they dig me, but when I go back to being good and nice, they only want to be friends. I see this all around me, too." What a whiny wanker. I told him he's not actually nice, he's using a bunch of words as if they mean something ("chemistry", "friendship", "nice", "good"), and that truly nice guys usually do pretty well for themselves.

Seriously, though, what do you say to somebody like that? I'm nice, I'm good, and chicks dig me. Or, dug me, now my wife digs me, and she's pretty good, as far as chicks go. And I'm pretty nice to her, I think. I know a lot of nice guys who also do pretty well for themselves. I said as much in my reply, too.

But, I'm interested in what Husites have to say. A lot of you are married and are pretty decent blokes, in your own way, or are married to decent blokes, or know pretty decent blokes who are married to decent girls or are otherwise not "finishing last". So, what do you say?

Then again, am I "nice", by any stretch of the word? Now that I think of it, historically, I might only be traditionally construed as "nice" to women I'm trying to woo. To everybody else, I'm cold-hearted and cruel, perhaps even sadistic and psychopathic. Well, whatevs.

< I had so much to say I think. | How do we fail it? >
"Why Nice Guys Finish Last" | 43 comments (43 topical, 0 hidden)
metafilter says by garlic (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 12:11:21 PM EST
that most dudes who complain about woman not likeing them because they're nice guys are just passive jerks instead of active jerks.

My nice guy friend, that everyone will agree is such a nice guy, also was terrible with woman not because he was nice, but because he was all needy whenever they showed him any attention. That's certainly an option too.

I don't think nice guys finish last. I think dudes whining about how they're nice guys finish last.

Agreed. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #2 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 12:14:13 PM EST
They're not nice. They're not even very good friends to these women. IMO.

[ Parent ]
"Nice guys finish last." by nightflameblue (4.00 / 1) #3 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 12:16:32 PM EST
The problem with this statement is it isn't completely inclusive of the actual subject.

I felt the same way through much of high school and just after. I grew up with a bunch of girls, so I had the "being friends" thing so down I couldn't break the pattern to save my life. There's something I didn't realize until I literally gave the hell up on EVER trying to date. Then I started getting calls from women I would have otherwise been interested in.

I think the "nice guys" syndrome is more a systematic attempt at self-failure. For example, does the nice guy go looking for romance from a nice girl? Not usually if he's one of the "finish last" set. No, he goes looking for romance from some hot looker that has a penchant for always picking the asshole. And it's not always because of the looks. A lot of the time it's because he's trying to save her. I know, it's about 95% of my attempted dating history. Damsel in distress = HAWTNESS. Don't know why. Don't particularly care at this point.

Until I started dating my wife I had a very lackluster dating history. Plenty of "dates" (quoted for a reason) with girl (large space) friends, with absolutely no potential for girlfriends. Except for one, which I'm not going to bother describing again. The number of times these "dates" resulted in a hug and a "I wish I could meet a nice guy like you" at the end of the evening is shocking, even to this day. I still remember how often I would respond with something like, "I'M RIGHT HERE." and got a laugh and a "you're so funny," or something similar.

What was my point?

Oh, um, something. THERE IT IS. You wanna date girls that are looking for the next guy to beat them up either emotionally or physically? Be a prick. You want to date women, with some actual brains and a decent sense of self-worth that won't tolerate shit yet are willing to be caring and kind when treated the same? Stop aiming for the damsels in distress and be a decent human being yourself. It'll fall into place.

Incoming, Knight in Shining Armor theory by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 12:21:34 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Very true. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 12:22:56 PM EST
I think that might be a large part of this guy's problem, actually. He sets himself up as a good guy, an altruist, who sacrifices himself, as (get this) a PALADIN. Sounds like somebody who got burned trying to rescue a princess. I mean, a PALADIN?! WTF.

[ Parent ]
sounds like too much D&D by garlic (2.00 / 0) #26 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 06:50:31 PM EST
maybe he should look for dates at the ren faire. other girls mostly aren't down with that.

[ Parent ]
Incoming, ladder theory! by georgeha (4.00 / 2) #4 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 12:20:36 PM EST

I once had to explain ladder theory by houser2112 (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 01:52:17 PM EST
to Mrs. Houser2112 in a discussion about her culinary skills.  She couldn't seem to grasp that there can be (in my mind, anyway) only one "favorite" dish.  A particular dish may change its ranking as my tastes change, but there is never more than one "#1".  "Favorite" is an absolute term.

[ Parent ]
What ladder theory is that? by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 02:01:02 PM EST
I'm talking about the friends ladder, and the lovers ladder, and it's rare to move from the friends to the lovers.

Not that I believe in it.

[ Parent ]
I don't believe in it, either. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 02:19:19 PM EST
It's like Ptolemy, though. It's pretty good for most purposes. Men and women really do think about these things differently and that's a crude representation of how it works.

[ Parent ]
The ladder theory that says by houser2112 (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 02:45:48 PM EST
Women have two, (like you said) and men have one.  I was extrapolating from the "lover" ladder theory to the "culinary" ladder theory that, as a man, I have one only l ladder onto which every dish occupies a rung.

[ Parent ]
interesting theory. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #14 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 02:54:01 PM EST
I think you're probably right when it comes to me.

I, for instance, have favorite fruits, favorite vegetables, favorite meats, etc, but those are only considered as subsets of one tall ladder. For some people, choosing a favorite between apples, broccoli, and ham is probably nonsensical because ham in not a fruit and apples are not a vegetable, but for me they are all on one big ladder.

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 12:35:08 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by yicky yacky

i'm an asshole and i've done pretty well by 256 (4.00 / 2) #8 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 01:22:36 PM EST
Seriously, though. When he says "chemistry" he means "charisma and confidence".

It doesn't seem strange that charisma and confidence attract people. But that's only enough to start a relationship. To maintain a good one, you need depth and character.

the dichotomy this person is seeing is really indicative of his worldview. he's focused on the initial hook-up where, sure, the brash do well regardless of what's behind the veneer. but he's not noticing the fact that, while these charismatic jerks may be able to attract the most desirable girl, they aren't able to hold her interest. whereas the less charismatic "nice guys" have a harder time attracting her attention, but have a much better chance of keeping her when they do.

Of course, there's no reason you can't have charisma and character. And, really, i suspect that the people that complain about this the most are the ones with neither.

I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni

I think there's lots going on by ucblockhead (4.00 / 4) #12 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 02:22:52 PM EST
I think for both women and men, there's a difference between the quick fuck and the relationship.  I hesitate to fall into the evolutionary biology trap, but I do think there's some truth in the notion that the markers one looks for in the pure sexual relationship are very different from what one looks for in the long-term relationship. 

The issue is that different people do much better at different things, for men, "nice guys" (i.e. relationship fodder) and "bad guys" (i.e. sex fodder.)  This causes frustration for people who are less attractive in one schema than the other.  Add to this that many people confuse the two.  Lots of "nice guys" are upset because they can't get a fast fuck, not realizing women say they want in a husband will not attract quick sex.

The other issue is that a lot of people have over-idealized notions the opposite sex, and overestimate their own attractiveness.  Lots of "nice guys" who "can't get women to look at them" are pushing off women who they find unattractive, probably without realizing it.

My own dating experience was one long fiasco full of disconnects and lack of chemistry.  There were times when I might have bought the "nice guys don't get dates" thing, but looked at rationally, there were plenty of times where there was a girl after me who I felt no interest whatsoever in.  There was also a time after a bad breakup where I went through a "screw anything that moves" phase, which was sad and regrettable but help me realize in subsequent dry spells that it wasn't that I couldn't get laid.  It was that I couldn't get laid by the people I was interested in.

[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

What that guy said -^ by greyshade (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 03:32:40 PM EST
That's pretty much my take on it.

"The other part of the fun is nibbling on them when they get off work." -vorheesleatherface
[ Parent ]
yeah, he pretty much gets it right by BlueOregon (4.00 / 1) #17 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 04:18:40 PM EST

And re: the evo-psych stuff, I'd say it provide plausible reasons and reasoning, even though I'm skeptical of the field as a whole, etc.

Also, I agree that it's quite possible that some 'nice guy' or similar is aiming too high, while around him there are interested women in whom he is not interested and/or whom he does not find attractive. That's perhaps an accurate description, but it does not necessarily offer a prescription, which could be "lower your standards" or "broaden your horizons" ... but often that person around you interested in you but in whom you are not interested is not a 'diamond in the rough,' is not a 'hidden gem.'

Some are just plain fugly; they're single for the same reason(s) that guy is single. Tough. And unless you're the co-dependent or needy type, you don't need to be in a relationship these days.

It's hard to say "hrm, only fugly women are interested, so I guess I'll make myself find them attractive." I'm not familiar with the human attraction machinery working that way.

Perhaps some people need to hear: you do not deserve anything; you are not 'owed' anything; not everyone finds happiness; you might be better off alone.

[ Parent ]
Interestingly enough. by nightflameblue (4.00 / 0) #18 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 05:02:13 PM EST
Being happy being alone leads to much more attraction from the opposite sex. I jokingly say it's because of that fine aire of indifference. In reality it's probably some level of confidence or something somehow related.

[ Parent ]
I must admit ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #19 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 05:22:37 PM EST
... that the only people I know who find desperation and lack of confidence attractive either have savior-complexes and/or are abusive sadists who want/need somebody to control.

So, yeah, if the kind of person you want to be with is the kind who will try to fix you or the kind who will use you up, go ahead and be insecure. :)

apologies ahead of time: today is my be-a-mean-spirited-asshole-day

[ Parent ]
you're not very nice by gzt (2.00 / 0) #20 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 05:30:53 PM EST
you must be rolling in it. Seriously, though, I find this pretty insightful.

[ Parent ]
well, you see ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #21 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 05:41:03 PM EST
... today is my mean-spirited asshole day, so I should be rolling in it today, but due to a statistical and astrological anomaly it's also avoid-assholes-day for women around here, so things cancel out. And at midnight my assholitude runs out, so who knows how tomorrow will go ...

I will leave you, however, with a link that I'll re-post in tonight's overly-verbose boiary: "The Case for an Older Woman" ... it's got numbers and graphs and interaction!

[ Parent ]
Mean or honest. by nightflameblue (2.00 / 0) #22 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 06:01:15 PM EST
Sometimes it's a really, really fine line.

[ Parent ]
skeptical by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #28 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 07:16:38 PM EST
It's hard to say "hrm, only fugly women are interested, so I guess I'll make myself find them attractive." I'm not familiar with the human attraction machinery working that way.

Really? Have a couple more beer and tell me that.

[ Parent ]
oh, indeed ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #29 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 07:45:41 PM EST

And (without fugliness being an issue) already note uc's comment about having a "screw anything that moves" phase.

But beer-goggles wear off when the beer does, and how often do you say, "had I been sober I would have found her heinous, but because I was inebriated I went after her, and now that I'm sober again I'm so glad I did, she was a real catch"? (adjust he-she, him-her as necessary) I can't speak much to the almost Jobsian 'reality distortion field' power of beer-goggles, having never worn them myself, so I could be wrong about the above comment.

And I'm certain, too, that one can and will say, "hey, not hot, but I've got to get some." Or guys or girls who will nail anything, but that's not the same as 'attraction'. Or, "well, I can't do any better." But I'm not sure whether that morphs into "you know, I'm attracted to that now where I wasn't before."

[ Parent ]
the almighty beer goggles by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #30 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 08:07:36 PM EST
I can't speak much to the almost Jobsian 'reality distortion field' power of beer-goggles, having never worn them myself

Well what are you waiting for? Hie thee to the nearest watering hole and observe the inhabitants. Have 2-3 beers to recalibrate your sensors, and then keep observing.

It'll be entertaining and educational.

And actually a buddy of mine did end up dating a girl for a couple of months after he'd picked her up at closing time.

[ Parent ]
oh ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #31 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 08:16:09 PM EST

... I have experience watching other people make fools of themselves, make shitty decisions, demonstrate questionable taste ...

Most recently: a few weeks ago w/ roommate B, who, after a few beers, was making his moves on someone the rest of us called Train Wreck. Her boyfriend was one of the bouncers it seems, but anyway: once sober again B's thoughts gravitated toward, "what was I thinking?"

Especially once he saw the pictures.

It is, however, a work night, so I'll have my beer at home, and when I do go out I just don't drink enough to impair my judgment that much. As for entertaining and educational ... for whom?

[ Parent ]
dat's easy by clover kicker (4.00 / 1) #33 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 09:05:02 PM EST
As for entertaining and educational ... for whom?

If you do it right... the whole bar!

[ Parent ]
a few thoughts by BlueOregon (4.00 / 0) #40 Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 10:21:50 AM EST
Have you investigated it much?

To some extent. Roommate R has a greater interest than I in the topic and has a small library on the subject.

I suggest reading some of David M Buss's works.

Indeed. One of the authors introduced to me by R.

Everything he writes about has the ring of truth about it.

Lots of things have the "ring of truth" about them, but that doesn't 'make them so'. I find string / M-theory interesting and on certain days plausible. And at this point I would still consider it 1) basically a mathematical model and not a physical or scientific model, and ) I would say I'm right to be skeptical of it because it offers no evidence, no experiments, etc. Of course that might change.

Of course, its hard to do 'science' when people might have various social reasons for lying about their behaviours. However. well designed experiments can counteract this.

That is quite true. But usually I wouldn't put "evolutionary psychology" and "well design experiments" (or "experiments," even) in the same sentence. Though I just did.

Evolutionary psychology explains almost _every_ human behaviour.

Theories of everything are a dime a dozen. But explaining and explaining correctly or reasonably are different things.

It really is almost all about getting laid, one way or the other. At least, that's my take on it.

This, however, highlights one of the major methodological problems of EP: a tend toward hyper-adaptationism. As Gould and many others have argued (pointed out?) not ever feature is or needs to be 1) a positive adaptation or 2) the result of adaptive/selective pressures.

Its often highly enlightening to try and attach evolutionary psych based rationales to one's own activities...

Let me fix that for you: "It's often highly entertaining ..."

In any case, instead of continuing my rambling, I'll end with a list or two. As for my views of EP:

  • I am skeptical in the sense of questioning and being wary of over-broad claims with regard to EP's weak evidentiary basis, as I am regarding M-theory, but of course this view is open to change.
  • I am more strongly skeptical of EP to the extent that much of it consists of just-so stories, because its weak methodological foundations, and because Pop Evolutionary Psychology is no better than astrology.
  • I do not discount the possibility of good EP; I think under the right circumstances studying the mind / psychology from an evolutionary perspective can be both reasonable and scientific.
  • While the better practitioners of EP (though they might still be wrong), like the better ones of 'sociobiology' (like E.O. Wilson, whose work I really rather like) avoid such problems, it's hard to deny that a great deal of popular EP (as well as sociobiology) commits the naturalistic fallacy like it's the best thing since sliced bread. And so it is necessary to be skeptical (critical, questioning, not too quick to accept) just about all EP claims.

I'll leave you with: Evolution of the Mind: 4 Fallacies of Psychology (and Evolutionary Psychology - why it is fundamentally wrong), Africa is filled with people too dumb to live, according to the LSE, The impeccable logic of evolutionary psychology: spit or swallow?, Why Evolutionary Psychology is Wrong, Evolutionary psychology gets evolution wrong, Evolutionary Psychology - The Good, The Bad Or The Ugly?, and What's wrong with evolutionary psychology?

Or, to steal a great line from that last link: "because EP is the nexus of unfalsifiable claims with confirmation bias."

[ Parent ]
I noticed by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #27 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 06:51:48 PM EST
dating got a lot less crazy once I got into my mid 20s - when, I suppose, most people have gained adult levels of self-confidence, meaning all the game playing starts to drop off. My self centered whinging (why can't I be the quick fuck guy once in a while) dropped off too. Now at 32 there's no drama in dating for me at all.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
I only pretend to be a decent bloke by FlightTest (4.00 / 2) #16 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 03:53:29 PM EST
I'm the poster boy for failure with women.  I've only ever been with my wife and ex wife.  Didn't date in college at all.  Except for Mrs FT and my ex-wife, I've never been aware of any woman having any real interest in me.  I presume some did, I was just too stupid to see it.  Mrs. FT and I were friends commiserating over our divorces with no real intent to even date one another.  Our interest in each other was purely as friends.  We hung out a lot, and one might even say we got married on a lark.  I couldn't pinpoint if I had to when she started to have an interest in me, whereas with my ex-wife it was probably the first time we met and danced together (country/western dancing), it was THAT obvious.

Would I have liked to have dated / had relationships with other women?  Absolutely.  It's always been easy to blame it on being a "nice guy", but the truth is, I'm horribly shy around people I don't know, and have quite low self-esteem.  I'm way overly analytically of everything (kinda like what I'm doing here) and have a very difficult time just relaxing and having fun.  So yeah, I wouldn't want to date me either.

It's nice to tell myself that "nice guys finish last" because that means I'm actually a nice guy, and it's all those women's fault that they don't see me for the great guy I am.  But the truth is, being nice has nothing to do with it at all.  Besides just plain not being very attractive (short, not athletic, egg-shaped head) if I had to guess I think the largest detractor would be the lack of self-esteem.

Nice guys finish last?  Some do, some don't.  Being nice has about nothing to do with it.

You've only been with two women? by ammoniacal (4.00 / 0) #23 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 06:11:15 PM EST
Not to be a dick, but I'd be curious to hear from your wife if she finds that to be an endearing quality. I've only seen this before with people with religious objections to pre-marital sex, so I'm intrigued by your situation.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
I have no such relgious objections by FlightTest (4.00 / 1) #24 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 06:31:09 PM EST
I simply lack good looks, charisma, self-confidence, and social skills.  To paraphrase something posted here by someone else; looking back over my life, I've made a series of decisions, that in hindsight, have mostly all had the effect of greatly reducing my chances for getting laid.

I believe it's a non-issue for my wife.  I honestly don't think she really cares about it.  I think she's happy it's not 20 women, but I doubt she cares if it's 1 or 10.

[ Parent ]
Well, you landed a nice lady. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #25 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 06:47:04 PM EST
So you got that going for ya. I appreciate your candor, FT.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
I have ZERO religious objections. by nightflameblue (2.00 / 0) #39 Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 09:11:10 AM EST
I've only been with two women.

My reasons though were pretty simple. I never saw the point in hooking up unless there were some sort of relationship potential. Sex never crossed my mind as a just for fun activity.

Now, you can see my other comment as to why relationship potential was usually nonexistant for me.

[ Parent ]
So, by curmudgeon (2.00 / 0) #42 Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 12:55:01 PM EST

Since "Sex never crossed my mind as a just for fun activity", why did you get snipped?  Why not just stop having sex?  Obviously if you don't want children and it's not a "just for fun activity" why bother?

Oh, yeah, because it turns out it's quite fun after all, isn't it?

Actually, I understood your meaning, though I think that if you weren't in a relationship where sex was a regular part of that relationship, you might have a slightly different outlook.

Get over it.
[ Parent ]
Well, there's levels. by nightflameblue (2.00 / 0) #43 Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 01:48:02 PM EST
Sex in a relationship = fun. Sex outside of a relationship = headaches and bullshit. I even thought that when I was a virgin.

[ Parent ]
Orly? by curmudgeon (2.00 / 0) #44 Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 03:58:49 PM EST

That's not quite what you said before.

I actually didn't go looking for that comment, I was looking for another comment of mine and stumbled upon that response.

Yes, I'm being a troll today.   Don't worry, I'll stop soon.   I can't even reconcile all the thoughts in my head, let alone everything I've ever written on the internet.
Get over it.
[ Parent ]
I can see your perspective. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #45 Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 04:01:15 PM EST
I can tolerate a lot of feminine bullshit in exchange for good sex, but that's just me I guess.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Me too by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #46 Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 04:09:32 PM EST
I haven't decided if it brainwashes me, or if it's a sign the relationship is going well.

[ Parent ]
yeah by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #34 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 09:21:02 PM EST
Low self-esteem and always analyzing everything is what has sunk any hopes of me finding that special one.  Oh well.  I'm mostly okay with that.

[ Parent ]
I don't think many people know how to be nice by lm (4.00 / 0) #32 Wed Feb 17, 2010 at 09:00:15 PM EST
What passes for nice these days seems to me to be candyassery rather than nicety.

Take the art of the gentle let down.  That's not being nice. That's being too much of a candyass to have the honesty of what one really thinks.

Not that one needs to be jerk about one thinks. (If someone is bragging about being `brutally honest' they're just being an asshat.) It is possible to be both honest and tactful.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Nice guys by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #38 Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 07:14:18 AM EST
Beat around the bush too much and expect the women to pick up the signals. If you act all nicey-friendy that's what she'll think you are, a nice friend.

Find people who like you by duxup (4.00 / 2) #41 Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 11:07:57 AM EST
It is that simple.  Most folk worrying about why someone or others of the opposite sex don't like them are spending time making up reasons about people who don't like them that way.   Nice guys finishing last and such are just excuses.

People should rather find other people who do like them in that way and move on.

"Why Nice Guys Finish Last" | 43 comments (43 topical, 0 hidden)