Dear Anon-O-Box: Mr. Nice Guy or Mr. Bad Boy?

amy pondDear Anon-O-Box,

Everyone says that you need to be a total a**hole for girls to like you.  But geeks girls are smarter than most so they should know better, right?  But the “Mr. Nice Guy” approach doesn’t work either.  What gives?

J answers:

Okay, first of all, I’d like to meet the “everyone” who says this.  More specifically, do they tend to be male or female?

Here’s the thing: NO ONE likes to be treated poorly.  Some people might be drawn to certain personalities that wind up being negative, but hardly anyone consciously seeks out someone that they think will treat THEM badly.

So, what about all those women that say they like “bad boys,” you ask?  We’ll delve a little into that, but the main point?

When women say they like “bad boys,” or “dangerous types,” they are expecting to be the exception to the rule.

Sure, he’s a rough-and-tough biker, but not at home!  He’ll get in a knife fight, but is protective of women and children!  This is – dare I say, a trope?  – that is portrayed over and over again in movies and literature.

In fact, think of most modern depictions of vampires.  Sure, he was already 170 when you were born, and most humans resemble a Dairy Queen cookie-dough Blizzard to him, but!  Not you.  With you, it’s Twoo Wuv.

Why might a woman be attracted to a “bad boy” in the first place?  Well, our preferences are often shaped by the life we’ve led.  Maybe she was once taken advantage of by a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Now, she prefers guys who have their flaws out on display, as horrible as they may be, because she feels she’s made an informed decision (and is taking control of her life, in a way).

Maybe she’s led a life in which she has felt unsafe.  Someone “dangerous” and willing to take care of her might make her feel safer.

The problem, of course, occurs when the woman is not the exception to the rule, and the “bad boy” treats her just as poorly as everyone else.

Oh, and then there are the women who are able to see the wounded creature under the roaring and bravado, and for whatever reason seek the challenge, with mixed results.

So that covers the type of guy that is very obviously intimidating or unstable.  However, the arch-nemesis of the geek is more often The Douchebag – the jock, the arrogant one.  The guys that are scrawny but nonetheless look like they belong on Tool Academy.  Why might a woman find herself with one of these guys?

Women who are attracted to The Douchebag tend to mistake bravado for confidence.

It’s in our nature to be attracted to confidence, but sometimes we make mistakes, plain and simple.  It’s not limited to women – haven’t you ever noticed that sometimes it’s the loudest kids on the playground who become popular, regardless of what kind of people they are?

Other times, they might be attracted to an aspect other than personality – looks, social standing, whatever.  The underlying rule remains, though: typically they are expecting to be treated well, even though the guy is… well, a douchebag.

At this point you’re probably thinking that all women are misguided or easily led or psychologically damaged.  The fact is, most women can see right through the douchebags and the bad boys.  “But my Mr. Nice Guy routine doesn’t work!” you think.  Well, maybe it’s because you were consciously affecting a character – Mr. Nice Guy – instead of, you know, being yourself.

Pretending to be nice, when you’re not, is creepy.

Ever see the movie Just Friends?  Aside from being worth a watch just for the hysterical Anna Faris, there’s actually some interesting commentary as various characters attempt to be the Nice Guy, the Jerk, and everything in-between.  I’m getting creeped out right now, just thinking of Chris Klein being a “sensitive guy.”

When guys actively try to be what they consider “nice,” they tend to venture into a world of negative behaviors: deferring opinions and decisions, holding conversations where every word is calculated… sometimes they even get an unnatural voice going on.  When you’re acting all the time, you’re mentally removed from the relationship.  You’ll probably wind up building resentment and losing respect for the woman, instead of forming a bond.  It’s just as bad as pick-up artist techniques.

Ultimately, pretending to be something you’re not might work in the short term, whether it’s being a “jerk” or being “nice,” but it’s not going to find you love.  If a long-term relationship is what you’re looking for, then being genuine is your best bet.  And most women can tell the difference – smart geek girls especially. ;)

Stay gold, geek friends.

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