Monday, July 07, 2008

Vassar on "Nice Guys"

Michael Vassar at Overcoming Bias makes a foray into the Beta question:

[W]hen women grow up, they find that they aren't attracted to the men they were told to look for. Maybe they believe, with reason even, that such men are 'boys', not 'men', and find this unattractive (ultimately because it was and still is evolutionarily unfit). Instead, most women spurn the timid advances made by the 'nice guys' they think they should prefer. But since they believe they should be choosing such men, they also decide that the men they reject cannot be the type they were told to prefer. This may explain why 'nice guys' might end up labeled 'liars'.

In this model, the nerd's sense of thwarted entitlement comes from recognizing that he has the traits X, Y, and Z that authority figures told him to display and that women claim to want - which does nothing to change the fact that feelings of thwarted entitlement for ANY reason are extremely unattractive.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: as Bobvis has noted, Overcoming Bias has a lot of great material


trumwill said...

One of the questions at hand that complicates this whole subject greatly is "What is it that the nerds want that is being thwarted?"

If the answer is finding a life partner, I'm not convinced that nerds are particularly thwarted absent some exigent circumstance. Almost all of the nerdy men I know are either married or had the chance to be and declined for whatever reason. The exceptions are people with particularly unattractive traits (that would be unattractive to anybody) that are independent of their non-alphahood. The exceptions also notably have trouble maintaining same-sex friendships, too.

What the nerds seem to be missing out on most is a lot of sexual partners, but that's somewhat outside the scope of what we're told we will get if we are X, Y, and Z.

The in-between area is probably where the nerds have their best case to make. When I was young and single, it was hard just finding a girlfriend.

I half-reject the notion put forth by the article's authors that women convince themselves that nice guys aren't nice simply because they're not otherwise desirable. To claim to be nice is something that is extremely easy to do. The banner of Nice Guys Finish Last is an easy one to carry. A lot of guys that aren't really nice carry it. They convince themselves that they are nice because they have often had limited or no ability to actually do any damage. I almost never broke any hearts when I was a teenager because I never had the opportunity. My 20's were a different matter.

I don't think that the author's point is completely without merit, though. Attractive guys get a lot more leeway then unattractive guys do. They get the benefit of the doubt ("They're really a nice guy deep inside!") that others don't get. It's worth noting that it goes the other way, too (I've more than once tried to convince myself that an attractive girl was a lot more than she was).

I also think that the ev-psych explanation is rather unnecessary. Whining is unattractive. Being seen as undesirable by others makes one undesirable to people that otherwise might not hold that opinion. It works with cars and it works with people, too.

Φ said...

Trumwill: there's a lot to unwrap here, but you are correct that the market does clear . . . eventually. Markets tend to do that. And there is much truth to your observation that many people are "nice" for want of alternatives, although it begs the question of what evidence (or lack thereof) remains to convince women that such men are "liars".

But Vassar's paragraph on "thwarted entitlement" really spoke to me.

trumwill said...

I wrote another big long comment but Blogspot doesn't like me and I forgot to put it in the clipboard which I usually do because Blogspot often does this when you want to change accounts.

In any case, it basically said that I did like the quote, thought it encapsulated genuine male frustration well, and agree about the dangers of supposing that any man that complains about being unable to find someone is inherently unworthy.