No One Likes a Jerk

Why do women go for jerks instead of nice guys? This common question presupposes that women do. But no one likes a jerk.

I’ve noticed that on dating sites, being funny seems to be a top trait women say they want. But humour has nothing to do with whether you’re a jerk or not.

Self-confidence also stands out. But self-confidence isn’t necessarily what one might think. It doesn’t mean being arrogant or always insisting you’re right. Years ago the executive director where I worked proposed a plan that was clearly flawed. When it was pointed out she displayed no embarrassment and no defensiveness, saying in a matter-of-fact way, “Ok, we’ll do plan b instead”.

Asking a woman out with self-confidence doesn’t mean being certain she’ll say yes, and certainly not that she must. Rather, it’s a willingness to accept rejection knowing that really it’s just a numbers game: the majority of women men ask out say no anyway. And a woman who’s a jerk about it actually did him a favour. Men have the harder job here, and a woman who doesn’t understand this lacks empathy is simply not relationship ready. A man who accepts that with grace is a man of self-confidence.

I will add three caveats. One is that there are narcissistic individuals who are charming, funny, and outgoing. They fool people easily. Serial killer Ted Bundy is a good example. Many of us, men included, have been in relationships with someone who turned out to be quite different. And as we get older we become more attuned to red flags.

Second, there are people who grew up in abusive homes, alcoholic homes, etc., and these individuals often seek romantic partners to replicate their history.

But these specific situations are a far cry from the generalization that women like jerks.

The third caveat is that a potential mate’s social status is more important to women (though this is far from absolute), and alpha males are relentlessly competitive. Women who attract alpha males are the beneficiaries of this competition, but other males pay the price for losing the competition. These men, of course, think the alphas are jerks. And sometimes they are, but not always.

My opinion is that a lot of nice guys are too deferential. A nice guy may seem uncertain about what he wants because he constantly yields to her wishes; he says what he thinks she wants to hear because he’s afraid to disagree with her; and he’s afraid to ever say no.

For example, a nice guy might ask a woman what restaurant she prefers while claiming he has no preferences beyond hers. But many women actually respond better to a man saying, “I want to take you to this restaurant”. He doesn’t even need to ask her if that’s okay – doing that could appear uncertain. If she doesn’t like the restaurant she’ll probably say so anyway. And besides, if he’s paying for it (and most likely he is) the choice of a restaurant is his prerogative.

In short, nice guys often fail to set boundaries with women.

Overall, I don’t think women are nicer or jerkier than men. But a man isn’t being nice to himself when he fails to tell a woman directly and firmly when her behaviour is unacceptable.  He must do so respectfully, however.

Women need to be challenged from time to time.  A glance at any women’s magazine shows the popularity of “how to change your man”.  But change is a euphemism for control.  So-called nice guys too often let women control them, which in turn causes women to lose respect for these men.  Why respect someone who doesn’t respect himself?

It’s human nature to test each other’s boundaries.  So step one is to respect her boundaries from the start, then defend your own.  And be willing to walk out the door if she doesn’t respect you.

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4 thoughts on “No One Likes a Jerk

  1. You make a great point that women will not respect their partner if they believe he doesn’t respect himself. Mutual respect is definitely a cornerstone in a healthy relationship. Great post!!

  2. That was nicely said. Women really don’t like jerks, but they tend to not like nice guys either, passive guys, guys who are too appeasing. I enjoyed you last paragraph, too, well said.

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