Thursday, March 02, 2006

Nice Guy Woes I -- Why do girls always end up with jerks?

Two students from previous years were concerned about the plight of the "nice guy." As such, they used their term papers to explore why nice guys don't get the girls and why, on the rare occasion they do, they end up getting dumped.

Both authors were male and, as such, chose to focus on the challenges faced by nice guys. Thus, nice girls are, sorry gals, regrettably going to be ignored here. Some of their points are probably generalizable to nice girls, but I haven't thought through these issues completely.

Why do girls always end up with jerks?

Last year, Wei-Jen Yuan tried to answer this question in his term paper. Wei-Jen assumed that there are two type of guys -- players/jerks and nice guys. He further assumed that the dating market has two stages -- an acquisition stage and a commitment state. Jerks are assumed to have high cost of commitment, but low costs of acquisition. Nice guys the opposite. (One can argue that these differences stem from differences in preferences. Nice guys prefer to maximize the quality of their relationships and thus invest in the skills required to improve and maintain any relationship. Jerks seek to maximize the quantity of relationships and thus invest in the skills required to acquire women (see the book "The Game"). Alternatively, we could assume that these differences reflect differences in "natural" abilities.)

Next, girls stated preferences for nice guys are assumed to be correct, so that if they end up paired with a jerk they suffer a loss. Incurring the loss of being with a jerk leads girls to drop out of the market (at least for a few periods) and leads them to erect barriers which make it more difficult for any man to obtain them.

Assuming that there is asymmetric information about who the nice guys and jerks are, nice guys end up alone because the market unravels. In the initial period, jerks obtain more girls because it is easier for them to do so. This alone, suggests a reason for why disproportionate numbers of nice guys are alone. However, it gets worse. As relationships move into the commitment stage, jerks dump their girls and these girls drop out of the market. Now, the nice guy's expectation of obtaining a girl falls even further because their are fewer girls to go around. Even if these girls should re-enter the market, they now make themselves more difficult to obtain which only makes it more difficult for the nice guy to obtain one of the available girls.

As the process repeats, nice guys expectations of success in the initial stage get lower. At some point, the expected benefit of being on the market no longer justifies the cost of trying to get girls. This leads the nice guys to drop out of the market and hope that they will just "luck" into a relationship with out having to "apply for the job."

This model is not unassailable (e.g., why don't the nice guys realize the problem and go out and buy "The Game" and use its secrets to increase their probability of success in the initial stage?). However, it still provides a nice economic story for an "observed" (anecdotally) phenomenon.

I must agree with your last point questioning the model because " (e.g., why don't the nice guys realize the problem and go out and buy "The Game" and use its secrets to increase their probability of success in the initial stage?)." is so me. While I definitly consider myself a "nice guy", I grow weary of being beaten in the acquisition stage of the game and seek ways to improve myself in this area. Overall, I think the problem with this model is that its not analyzing the mean relationship time each type of guy experiences. There is always the old saying that "nice guys" win out in the long run which indicates that nice guys will be the ones who succeed in the marraige market. This is supported by the fact that while jerks might have great acquisition skills, they often lack the skills to maintain a relationship. As the market unravels, it is unlikely that girls will exit the market entirely. Rather, girls will spend more resources looking characteristically nice guy. Things like approaching the shy guy in the corner, and agreeing to go out with a friend of a friend on a blind date show that the female is willing to endure a higher cost to find a nice guy the more that she has been hurt by the jerk. Unfortunatly, this means that we have two pools of women with a flow that takes place in a singular direction. So, nice guys often will only win in the long run after a girl has ended up with jerks multiple times and learned her lesson. Their skills at maintaining relationships will allow them to hold on to the girl and therefore probably lead to longer term relationships.
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