Posted by: robinsonwarner | February 1, 2009

The Corollary

Meet Larry.  He’s a really sweet guy, does well in school, is really funny and is incredibly nice to people, but he doesn’t have “swagger”.  He is almost too nice because he figures, “Well heck, there’s nothing wrong with being nice to people; especially girls.  That should work.”

Larry is what some girls would call “cute”.  He cleans up nicely and has a girl or two that like him, but he is not a stud.  Larry knows this and thus he carries himself with a certain level of modesty and humility.  Women, generally, find this self deprecation and aggressive modesty unattractive.  Larry doesn’t understand this.  People aren’t supposed to like people who are overconfident, right?

Larry likes a girl.  Her name is Michelle.  Michelle is very pretty, used to getting lots of attention from guys, enjoys the attention, and likes to flirt.  She is a very good friend of Larry’s. She has always considered him a friend and nothing more.  Oh, and one more thing:  Michelle dates assholes.  Larry knows this, but doesn’t quite understand it.

Now, as you can probably guess as time goes on Larry begins to develop feelings for Michelle.  Larry spends many hours listening to Michelle’s boy problems, showering her with compliments, making her laugh, remembering her birthday and trying his best to be appealing to Michelle.  He does what only what he thinks might work and should work.  Be nice and funny.  Girls should come around because all he’s heard his whole life is that the things women find most attractive are sense of humor and doing gentlemanly things; like holding doors.

Larry also nurtures a foolish hope.  Larry hopes that maybe, just maybe, Michelle has feelings for him, but she hasn’t said anything yet.  She is waiting for Larry to make a grand gesture.  Grander than the thing we previously mentioned that Larry does.  It is the source for his greatest strength and his greatest insecurity.  It goes on like this for a while.

After months of having feelings for Michelle he decides to finally tell her how he feels.  He walks on eggshells every time he talks to her, is nervous around her and spends an inordinate amount of time listening to songs he would like to slow dance to with Michelle.  So something needed to happen.

Larry decides that today is the day.  As he holds the phone in his hand he gets nervous.  He wants to throw up.  No.  He wants to sit down.  He definitely has to pee though.

Larry walks up to the cliff.  He presses the send button on his cell phone.   After an eternity Michelle picks up.  She was on the other line with Brian.  This guy she likes but is having “trouble” with.  Larry is always there to listen. They exchange greetings.  Larry puts one foot out into mid air.  Quickly, before losing his nerve, Larry puts his other foot out … and jumps.

 “Michelle, I need to talk to you about something.”

“Sure Larry, anything.  What’s up?”

“Well I don’t know how to say this.”

“Say what?  You know you can tell me anything.”

“All right.  I’m just going to go ahead and say it.  I like you Michelle.”

“Oh Larry, I like you too.  You’re such a good friend to me.”

“No, Michelle, that’s not what I mean.  I like you more than just a friend.”

“Oh.  Well thank you.  That’s really sweet of you.  How long have you felt this way?”

“A few months.  It was getting to be too much.  I had to say something.  It was killing me inside.”

“Wow.  Well Larry, I don’t know what to say.  I value your friendship so much I wouldn’t want to ruin it.  It means too much to me to have it potentially get ruined by us dating or anything like that.”

“Right.  Of course.  I understand where you’re coming from.  I just wanted to tell you because you mean a lot to me.”

“Oh, Larry.  I just don’t want to ruin the friendship is all.  It’s too important.  Plus, I just like jerks.  I know that about myself and I think you deserve better than me.  You’re such a great guy I want you to be with a girl that deserves you.”

“Oh.  All right.  That’s cool.  I understand.  Forget I even said anything then.  I have some laundry I need to do so I guess I’ll just talk to you later or something.”


It seems as life often goes we are not satisfied with what comes naturally.  We push our bodies, our minds and our souls to strive for things no rational human being should want.  This is, of course, where the rub lies. 

This is a unique facet of human behavior:  our propensity to do one particular thing that is precisely irrational, detrimental to our psychological well being, crushing our spirits and dampening our will to persevere.  What could it possibly be?  What is the thing that we human beings do consistently that is so patently unreasonable?

What we do is that we develop romantic feelings for people that don’t like us back or treat us in a way that does not do justice to our own sentiments.  A few months ago I discussed with much fanfare and scathing criticism the sad reality that women date assholes.  Everyone knows this is true.  As I got to thinking I realized, as is often the case, there is always an equivalent in the male world.  There are always two sides to the coin.  Women have Sex and the City and men have Entourage.  Women have romantic comedies and men have action flicks.

For those of you who are shaking your head already, this is my disclaimer. I am not suggesting that only women like romantic comedies or that there aren’t any women who like action flicks.  I am just pointing out which crowd these movies target.  Let’s not kid ourselves.  Do you really think more men or women went to go see 300? 

But as I suggested there is indeed an equivalent to women dating assholes in the male world.  That corollary is nice guys who go for girls that don’t like them.  We will call this “The Corollary”.

It is important to understand the psychology about the Nice Guy (NG) who likes the Girl Who Dates Assholes (GWDA).  NG likes GWDA because of the way she makes him feel about himself.  GWDA probably has some status attached to her.  She might be “that girl” to many different guys and is universally admired by most of the men in her life.  Why would NG like GWDA?   If we use the transitive property we can see this:  

A)      All desire Michelle.

B)      Larry desires Michelle.

C)      If Larry dates Michelle, then all admire Larry.

What we see is that Larry just really wants to be socially affirmed and liked by lots of people. Being with this girl is a way of asserting yourself in the social sphere as someone to be reckoned with and respected. 

The first trap that Larry is falling into is that he wants to be liked by everyone (we all fall into this trap) and the second is that he thinks dating someone is the best way to do that.  NG’s want to date GWDA’s under the false pretense that they really  want is to date this particular girl and they admire qualities about her, when in reality they just admire the admirable qualities that are approved by other people.  If they approve these qualities and these qualities are associated with me then I will be approved by all people.  This is also why NG’s are so nice to begin with.  They’re incredibly insecure to begin with and require approval by large amounts of people.


One of the fatal flaws of the NG is to think that giving compliments to the target of his affections will translate into a relationship of reciprocity in feelings.  This is the first false assumption.   His compliments and the things he does for her create the illusion not only of control but of progress.   This is the part of NG that is still rational, “Compliments plus humor over time equals progress.”  Theoretically, for NG, this should work.  NG likes GWDA for all the right reasons, but continues to for all the wrong ones.

They are wrong because the girl is playing a very complex game with the guy.  The role NG serves for GWDA is twofold.  Like all human beings, GWDA is insecure.  This insecurity is exacerbated by media, society, and preposterously thin models.  Not everyone is sure of themselves, but GWDA has the means to find a way to alleviate the pains of insecurity.  Insert NG who not only adores GWDA, but likes her so much that he will do anything to make her feel good about herself especially in an attempt to win her affection.

Secondly, NG’s will always do things that The Asshole won’t do.  Doors will be held, birthday gifts will be sent, hair will be held for her when she gets too drunk, and buying meals are all things that one might expect NG to do for GWDA.  So she receives positive male reinforcement regarding her physical and social insecurities as well any number of romantic/chivalrous gestures of good will and affection.  She gets all the positives from NG, but none of the negatives.

What are the negatives?  Well, in her deep subconscious, GWDA does not think she is shallow at all.  In fact, she thinks herself a pretty cool chick and she would never go after a guy just for his looks.  It’s just a coincidence all her previous boyfriends are chiseled pillars of physical achievement, but tragically deficient in traditionally admirable character traits.  The negative aspect of NG, for GWDA, is that she doesn’t find NG physically attractive.  This in itself is not a crime.  Just because a guy is nice to a girl and does things for her she is in no way obligated to date him. 

This is not a crime, but what is reprehensible is that she, even on a near subconscious level, uses NG to deal with these insecurities and fill the void left by deficient character in the guys she typically dates.  How does GWDA use NG?  She uses hope against him.

You see, to put a name to NG again, Larry thinks about Michelle a lot.  He thinks about her when he’s running or when he’s in class and sometimes before he goes to bed.  But there is always that rational part of his brain that is tells him to move on and that she is using him to make herself feel better.  Larry can leave at any moment, but he doesn’t because hope is kept alive.  It is a very dangerous thing. 

Think of Larry floating in an ocean and he doesn’t know how to swim at all.  All he has to survive is a life preserver that has been gradually losing air.  In order to keep afloat he, will require another life vest.  Did I mention that Larry is floating next to a boat he can’t get into? Also, the engine is broken so the boat can only go as fast as Larry can swim. Plus Michelle is the captain.  Michelle needs Larry because he is the only one who knows how to keep the engine from breaking altogether.  So until Michelle knows how to fix the engine herself, she has to keep Larry afloat by throwing him more life preservers.  These come in the form of compliments, hugs, and flirting.  It is these kinds of things that keep Larry interested in Michelle.

 Larry needs Michelle because he likes her and wants to be with her and Michelle needs Larry because she’s insecure and needs positive male reinforcement.

When Larry confronts Michelle and pours his heart out, he is saying either let me in the boat or let me drown. 

Now when NG lets GWDA how he feels she does have some common decency to not want to emotionally destroy NG. She doesn’t tell him she doesn’t find him physically attractive or that she’s simply not into him, but she saves face, yet again, in the eyes of NG, by trying to pass off her rejection as something humbling to her while also paying a compliment to NG.  It sounds something like what we heard Michelle say, “You’re too nice of a guy” “I don’t deserve you” “I don’t want to ruin the friendship” “I only date jerks and I’m messed up and you deserve so much better than that because you’re such a great guy.”  These are all last ditch efforts to smooth things over with NG who, if he has any common sense, will realize that she is completely hosing him and saying those things only to not destroy a human soul.  What we’re hearing is something that smacks of the old standby excuse, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

What have we learned?  Well we’ve learned that men will act against their own best interest just as women do.  What is it about human beings that we consciously will do things that will hurt us?  Is it the spirit of competition?  Do we like a challenge?

I’m thinking I could plug the notion that we can’t help who we like or that we’re all insecure, or blah blah blah, but I think it would be more poignant to bluntly state that things get complicated like this when people are using each other to achieve ends they either can’t admit to themselves or because they simply don’t know what they are really after.  When this happens situations arise where people are being used as means and as ends unto themselves.  The problem comes up when we don’t know who are or what we want or what really makes us happy so we take a stab in the dark by trying to get  attractive, popular, GWDA to date us when we’re really all just looking to be accepted.  This is the most difficult part of affection: discovering if what you’re after is the person themselves or what that person could potentially bring to you.  Hold onto your life preservers.


  1. The research both scientific and personal that women are attracted to what we will have to call Alpha males and not to Beta males is starting to fray at the edges. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the sensitive, emotionally fluent, considerate, and relational male is starting to replace the more aggressive, isolative, disconnected male in the great survival hierarchy. While women continue to resort to the “bad boy” as a romantic choice, evolution is against them. NG’s need to claim their evolving status in the style that suits that status. When Michelle says she doesn’t want to ruin a friendship by getting romantic, NG no longer needs to retreat into polite longing. Rather, he must develop and implement a new Relational line of engagement (aka–seduction, remembering that men have basically one thing in mind in the presence of a woman they find attractive.) All NGs will immediately “get” this approach since it is natural to their evolutionary nature. It might go something like this: “I agree! Friendship is the most important quality. You can imagine my confusion at finding myself so deeply attracted to you. How do you handle feelings like this?” 9 times out of ten this approach will produce the desired result since the woman involved is simply testing us to see if we are sincere in our approach and not just an Alpha male in Beta clothing, thinking that this approach might work after having read about it in a spy novel. Sure, sure there are psychological forces at work, but first, try good old primary survival directives. Who knows, you might get lucky

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