Why Nice Guys Ignore the Girls They Like

June 11, 2009


I found this bit of humor at Buzzfeed, but I suspect  know that many guys would call it 100% accurate. We call them jerks and douchebags, but we go for them anyway, don’t we? If we didn’t they’d be forced to stop acting so nasty to get laid. Do we force nice guys into last place?

I hear from a fair number of  young men who are just as frustrated as many of you are in the search to find meaningful relationships. One reader here commented that when he got to college and acted like the nice guy he really is, he got nowhere. Not until he assumed the identity of Selfish Prick did he start scoring with the ladies. So this post is dedicated to Douche Baguettes everywhere. You’re guilty because you keep sending the message to men that they need to be cruel and uncaring in order to get anywhere with you. You know who you are, and I want you to tell me why you do it. Let me say up front that many lovely women get blindsided by a bad boy once. Maybe twice. After that, you have a lot to answer for.

The British have a saying:  “Be mean, keep ’em keen.” Why are we shooting ourselves in the foot time and again?

Here are the most common explanations for why women fall for guys who treat them poorly:


Jerks have many qualities that are attractive to women.

  • There’s the mystery surrounding a troubled soul or an enigmatic rebel.
  • They exude confidence, though upon closer inspection it is really arrogance.
  • They are extraverts.
  • They have a lot of charm, i.e. player skills.
  • They appear passionate. Usually, they are most passionate about fulfilling their own needs.
  • Their intense pursuit is flattering and makes women feel special and desirable.


It’s a challenge.

  • Women feel that any love worth having should be earned first.
  • They enjoy outplaying a guy (or trying to) at his own game.
  • Jerks keep us guessing; we can’t decipher them.
  • On the flip side, nice guys are boring and predictable. 


Women have a “fixer-upper” complex.

  • They look into a guy’s soul and see more than he is showing of himself, and they become hooked on the idea of getting him to open up.
  • A flawed man gives this type of woman someone to work on and mold. They wind up viewing the jerk as someone who is misunderstood and unloved, a lurking lonely soul.


 It’s emotional.

  • Women feel excited, disappointed, and confused. The rush of emotions is exciting and addictive.
  • The process inevitably follows this pattern:

1. Jerk shows interest.
2. When woman returns interest, jerk draws back and appears nonchalant.
3. Jerk waits until woman is confused, then provides attention.
4. Repeat.


Weak women attract jerks.

  • A jerk will not waste his time on a woman he knows respects herself. He preys on the vulnerable.
  • It requires two parties with low self-esteem. The jerk uses a bad boy demeanor as his cover. His snide remarks and sarcasm are defense mechanisms.


Selfish women choose jerks.

  • They are just as shallow, prioritizing pursuit and excitement over a real connection.


Women subconsciously replicate their childhoods.

  • If a key male figure in your life was a jerk, you’ll seek out jerks for relationships as an adult.


Dating a jerk is the best way to avoid getting into a long-term relationship.

  • Until you are ready to settle down with a sweet guy to have babies with, why not have fun with a jerk? Maybe even be a jerk?


It’s a vicious cycle.

  • Women are attracted to jerks, form relationships with them, and then try to justify their choice by seeing things in them that no one else can.


Do these reasons ring true, or is there something else going on? Carole Lieberman, MD, coauthor of Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live with Them, and When to Leave Them says:

“They can be unpredictable, dishonest, or downright mean, but scoundrels have always had an undeniable appeal to us–an erotic edge of danger that’s hard to resist.” 

As long as women choose jerks, there will be nice guys converting to jerkdom, especially if they’ve been dumped for a jerk. Nice guys who admit to employing this strategy don’t like it much; they say it’s exhausting to act like a jerk all the time. Let’s give the nice guys a break. Look deeper. Don’t settle. Respect yourself. All of womankind will thank you for it.

Have you ever dated a jerk? How’d that go? Are you cured?

Update: Though it’s no longer feasible to answer each and every question on old posts, I encourage you to post your question at the Forum, where I and other readers can see it an respond: