I really appreciate all the comments and responses I’ve gotten to the thread about nice guys, assholes, and female preference. The Boss over at The Collar Purple had a bit to say on the subject, and I’ve received numerous thoughtful emails on the subject as well. For instance, Sharon wrote that I got it wrong:

No, no, no, “doormat” is not the same as “attentive, considerate, emotionally involved, willing to
talk about feelings”.

They *are* different things. It is perfectly possible to be all those latter things (which women generally DO want) and NOT a doormat. I know many examples.

The big problem is: most men who do do the attentive, considerate, etc. thing are ALSO doormats. The challenge for a man is to be that stuff whilst also NOT being a doormat. I won’t say that it isn’t difficult, but it is possible.

It’s finding the difference between “attentive”, and “always pays more attention to her than to himself”. We don’t want the latter, which is doormatty. We want someone who can stick up for himself. We don’t want someone who always pays more attention to himself than to her, either. There is a middle ground!

Perhaps there is, but I’d have to say it sounds like a very narrow middle. In any case, the “we want someone who can stick up for himself” meme appears to have legs. Amber suggests:

Girls don’t like nice guys because they are almost always self-deprecating. That’s the crux of their “niceness,” they’re modest. Understand, that societal pressure lead most women to believe that they need to be protected, or at least have to marry someone who COULD protect them if necessary. When a guy puts himself down, a girl generally thinks “he’s nice, but if I were in a vulnerable position, would he stick up for me?” The answer is invariably no, because it’s obvious that the man will not even stick up for himself. While nice guys will argue that they WOULD stick up for the woman, she has no proof that this is fact. So she dates an asshole, feeling that if worse comes to worse, he’ll go to bat for her. This isn’t true, but there is more evidence to support that than the nice guy doing it.

Which sounds like a plausible theory. At least, it explains why those guys who are always picking fights in bars never lack for dates.