Thursday, February 17, 2011

Do Kind Guys Finish Last?

Now that I'm back on the dating scene, I figured it might be fun to do a blog post about dating and the Love Project theme of the week: Kindness.

"Nice guys finish last" is a common theme in dating circles. Here are two variations that basically say the same thing:

Free Online Dating Tips: Why Nice Guys Finish Last
Heartless Bitches International's: "Nice guys" = Bleah!

Basically, after reading these, I'd say they are equating "Nice guys" to "Insecure guys." It appears that in the context of dating, the term "nice guys" has come to mean the socially awkward, spineless, passive guys who put the women they want to date up on pedestals and don't know how to think for themselves.

(For the record, I don't think we should abuse the adjective "nice" this way. Nice is nice. It's not insecure. A guy CAN be both confident and nice... but I digress.)

What about "kind guys?" Since "kind" and "nice" are pretty darn similar adjectives, are "kind guys" also considered undesirable low-lifes that don't have a back-bone?

I checked one of my favorite blog sites about dating, Hooking Up Smart. (Susan Walsh, the author at this site, practically does a dissertation with every well-researched blog post.)

In The Nice Guy Dilemma, Susan covers not only "nice" but "kind." From the post:

Research also demonstrates that women prize kindness in men. Last month the British Journal of Psychology published a Canadian study (link here) that showed online dating profiles to 300 volunteers. Some of the profiles were altered to demonstrate kindness and altruistic interests. The women showed a strong preference for those profiles, even where the clues were fairly subtle. Dr. Pat Barclay, author of the study says:

This suggests that women are attuned to generosity, and that altruism serves a purpose in mate selection. If a man is kind and generous towards others – even strangers – then there’s a good chance that he’d make a good and generous parent.

Dr Viren Swami, a specialist in interpersonal attraction from the Department of Psychology at the University of Westminster had a similar take:

Our research has found ‘agreeableness’ to be particularly important to whether people are attracted to each other. Altruism could be regarded as one component of agreeableness.

It’s been suggested that men deliberately play up their altruistic tendencies as a way of demonstrating that they’re not just after sex. I think that sounds like a good strategy as long as it’s not completely fabricated. A man’s being eager to reassure women about this is probably a tip-off that he is a man of good character, and wants that to come across in his profile.

Interestingly, while men valued signals of kindness when looking for a LTR, they found it off-putting when looking for something short-term. One researcher hypothesized that men don’t want their hookups distracted by other interests, but I’d venture a different idea. I think it’s much harder to f*ck over a woman when you know from the start that she is kind. It feels just a bit crappier if you can’t pretend she’s a cold-hearted wench.

Susan also makes reference to the Sexademic blog post: Kindness and Hot Sex are Not Mutually Exclusive. In this post, once again, kindness seems to come out OK. You can still be kind and good in bed. (Phew!)

I guess bottom line here is that "kindness" seems to be a desirable trait, particularly if you're seeking a long-term-relationship. Being "kind" doesn't seem to get the same negative connotation that being "nice" does. (This is a relief since I instructed those participating in The Love Project to Be Kind this week. I'm thinking I should stay away from a "Nice" theme...)

And what about "bad boys?" Is it true that in order to get the girl, you have to be a jerk? While it's true that there are jerks that get women, I don't think it's the jerk behavior that gets her, I think it's the confidence. Jerk, nice, or kind, if you don't have confidence, you're gonna strike out... or more likely, you'll never even get up to bat because you'll be sitting on the sidelines.

Of course, we all look for certain traits in a romantic partner. Positive traits, in my opinion would include kindness, confidence, and yes...even niceness. Negative traits would be jerks (or disrespectful behavior) and insecurity.

So, in answer to the question, no, it doesn't look like kind guys finish last. In fact, if they're confident, they'll finish first -- at least in my book.


Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities said...

I have never thought about the distinction between niceness and kindness, but I think it is important particularly when it comes to romance. I think we all want to end up with kind people, but we also want a little edge, a little layer, and these things seem to be at odds with "niceness."

Anonymous said...

You're hot.

And I'm not just being "kind".

Yvette said...

Yeah... I guess you're right. I do like a bit of a mischievious, playful spirit, which isn't what I conjure up with "nice." On the other hand, the opposite of "nice" is usually "mean" or "rude"-- two traits which would totally turn me off.

Anonymous... Wow! Thanks!

Obsidian said...

Hi Yvette,
I got wind of your blog by way of HUS. Interesting stuff, I think I'll bookmark your blog for further reading.

As for the current topic, I will say this: Nice Guys can finish first - IF - and ONLY IF - they have GAME.

A lot of guys and gals alike make the serious big mistake that a guy being nice and all that, alone, is what will win the day - when we have all manner of eyeball evidence to show us that this is simply not true. EVERYTHING starts with sexual attraction; without it, the guy gets nowhere.

I speak a bit about this recently on another blog I frequent from time to time, called Very Smart Brothas; check it out:

And holla back


PS: I think the dynamics change ever so slightly for Women such as yourself. I intend to deal with this in the coming days as well.

Yvette said...

Obsidian, thanks for point me to the Smart Brotha's Blog and to your response! I think the psychology on all this is fascinating.

And you're right! I'll have to learn more about what exactly "Game" is, but I'm thinking that's the key!

I'm also curious about whether all this discussion about the downsides of being "nice" also applies to women. Being "nice" is considered feminine, but may not be much of a turn on... Seems like just like the women who have some spunk get a lot more attention than the demure and proper "nice" girls...

Anonymous said...

You might do well to look up the "No true Scotsman fallacy", a classic logical error that I think is shot through all your writing here.

no more mr nice guy said...

You're talking about genuine nice guys while Heartless Bitches talk about Nice Guys(TM). It's not the same thing. Nice Guys (TM) always finish last. Genuine nice guys may or may not finish last.

Anonymous said...

You're right Yvette.

As counter-inuitive as this might sound to some men, women are most attracted to guys who put themselves first.

The Alpha males of this world. Not the Betas. Men with their own identity who are not submissive lackeys to their girlfriends.

Yvette said...

Yeah, I guess I'll have to read up more on this whole Roissy theory of Alphas/Betas, etc.

Not sure I really buy-in to all of it or fit into the norm of what women supposedly want.

I do like mischievious flirts (I guess that would be your alpha male with "game.") But he better be a kind, generous, honest guy, too. (Not sure if that would make him "beta"?) No wonder I'm having such a hard time finding the perfect mate... I want him to be everything!

David said...

Discussions of "nice" in this context remind me of a passage from the Narnia series. The children has just met Aslan the lion, who is more than a little intimidating-looking:

Lucy: "Then he isn't safe?"

Mr. Beaver; "Safe? Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good."

"Niceness" in common usage today, seems associated with being "safe" more than being "good."