But I don't want to be an alpha male!
February 14, 2010 3:18 PM   Subscribe

Questions about male-female attraction and my validity as a man.

After reading Intimate Connections last year I decided a few weeks ago to try a few online dating sites. I haven't managed to get a date yet (in part, I hope, because I live in a medium-sized town near a small city) and I've been feeling discouraged (is my profile too honest? am I just unattractive?) which has caused me to look for some dating advice online. (I'm a bit socially isolated, so my real-life dating prospects aren't good - I go to classes and have a couple of friends, but I don't have many contacts to draw on in this regard).

The sort of stuff I've been coming across seems to suggest that I'm too nice, respectful, polite, kind etc and that I'm an unattractive 'beta' male, if indeed I even classify as a male at all. It also suggests that I'm the sort of person who gets 'friend-zoned' rather than boyfriend-zoned, or whatever the term is. (A lot of this stuff also has quite a misogynistic tone, which I find very difficult but am overlooking for the moment.)

If this sort of stuff is correct (and I intend to do further reading - recommendations welcome) then it means that my whole world-view is fundamentally wrong and that the reason I have little success with women is that I'm doing everything wrong and should try to become a completely different person in thought and deed. Suffice to say, this is a little bit upsetting.

My questions are:
1. Do I need to totally change as a person in order to have any realistic chance with women? (Obviously you don't know me, but you know my type, I guess.)
2. How is this pick-up-artist/ladder-theory stuff regarded outside of its community?
3. Does the scientific evidence support its conclusions?
4. Is there a 'moderate' version that might be better suited to someone like me? (from what I've read, alpha-males sound evil, I don't want to become one!)

(Male, straight, English.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (58 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

1. No.
2. Horribly.
3. No.
4. Be yourself, stop stressing about it and the right girl will find you. It's a cliche because it's true.
posted by youcancallmeal at 3:24 PM on February 14, 2010 [14 favorites]

Forget about dating advice… it's obvious you don't much like yourself, which is possibly the most unattractive quality someone can have. That's problem numero uno. Two ways to deal with that are therapy or—if that's not an option—gradual exposure to your fears (of rejection, embarassment, whatever).
posted by mpls2 at 3:25 PM on February 14, 2010 [21 favorites]

Do you really want to date someone who isn't looking for a nice, respectful, polite, kind man? What kind of decent person wouldn't want a partner with those qualities?

Please don't change who you are. You may not be flashy and you may not get as many casual dates as the "alpha male" type (whoever they are), but you will attract a better quality of person by remaining true to yourself.
posted by something something at 3:27 PM on February 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

From people I know who have encountered it in the wild, that pick-up-artist stuff is bunk -- especially with women in the 'dating scene' who get that crap put on them all the time and see right through it. The purpose of those, in my opinion, is to manipulate a woman for the short-sighted goal of casual intimacy, not a relationship and not considering the woman's needs. The upside is that "beta" guys who do that crap because think they have a plan thusly come off as more confident and assertive, rather than shrinking and second-guessing themselves because they feel unprepared. Find how to be assertive (not assholey) and you'll get the benefits of that PUA crap.

As for finding someone: stop making finding a partner the goal, and things will go smoother. Pick-up-artist stuff is also designed to cover up the smell of desperation, which is unappealing as well. Also, it's difficult to get friend-zoned without your help: you need to be clear that a relationship is what you're looking for; again, a smidge of assertiveness helps.

All this sort of stuff has been discussed on AskMeFi before, too -- keep digging, you'll figure it out.
posted by AzraelBrown at 3:28 PM on February 14, 2010 [5 favorites]

A lot of this stuff also has quite a misogynistic tone, which I find very difficult but am overlooking for the moment.

There's your mistake. The misogyny on those kinds of 'theories' is the unavoidable core; they're not "what women want," they're "how women are untrustworthy, awful subhumans who react according to this set of calculated inputs."
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:32 PM on February 14, 2010 [26 favorites]

Don't believe the hype.
posted by flabdablet at 3:36 PM on February 14, 2010

1. No
2. With disdain
3. Limited - and for what you desire (an actual connection with another person), scant to negative
4. Lower your standards, broaden the 'type' of women you interact with/contact, abandon as many preconceptions as you can

Also seconding mpls2 hard. Loosen up, try not to think so hard about it, and try to enjoy yourself. Smile! After entering a comfortable social relationship (the "ok, he's not creepy and he isn't going to murder me" stage), open up with your communication, share what you're feeling. It feels/sounds like it sometimes but women aren't mind readers - and even if they were, they can get it wrong.

"I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard." (Brave New World) Don't take it the wrong way, and yes, I am quoting out of context.
posted by porpoise at 3:43 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

From a recent Ask-MeFi,.. quite a few female responses about the pickup artist strategy. ( tl;dr = predominantly viewed negatively)
posted by jmnugent at 3:44 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

What you want is not a pick up strategy, but rather confidence in yourself so that when you are with other people, your best qualities shine through.

Stick with your strengths. Build on them. They're what make you stand out. It's better to take something you're 80% good at, and get to 90%, than to try to address every way in which you're not a standout.

To your questions. 1) only to the extent that you're unhappy with yourself, and change would make you feel good or address some fundamental problem that keeps you from being happy. 2) It's creepy. 3) No idea, though Richard Feynmann has some anecdotes in one of his books about trying a pick up strategy. 4) Be yourself. Be a better self if possible. Have confidence. This doesn't mean trying to be a world leader if you're not. Even hedgehogs find mates. Just work on your internal happiness (therapy can do wonders here) and let yourself shine a bit.
posted by zippy at 3:46 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Your problem is not that you are too nice, kind, and polite. I don't know you well enough to know what your problem is, but it's not that. I'm sure there are individuals -- male and female -- who are screwed up enough that they can't be attracted to men who are nice to them, but they're in the minority.

I know lots of nice, kind, and polite guys who are in relationships. I know for certain that they didn't meet their partner by putting on a ridiculous hat, calling themselves "The Dream Farmer" and acting like assholes at clubs.

In my experience, people who think they're too nice to have a girlfriend have one or more of the following problems.

* They equate "nice" with "totally hiding any romantic or sexual attraction from the object of their desire."

* They sit at home playing Warcraft and being "nice" by giving people who claim to be women help in the game.

* They turn "nice" into a compulsive obsession with weird, creepy anacronistic chivalry. (If you've ever seriously used the term "milady," this might be you.)

* When they say "women," they mean "this one particular woman" or "two or three particular women," and those women just aren't attracted to them. Rather than accepting that sometimes the person you think about while jerking off isn't doing the same of you, they come up with these ridiculous ladder theories.

* They're not as nice as they think they are. They're self-obsessed, callous, thoughtless, or oblivious to the feelings of others. But because they write love poetry, they think they're "nice."

* They reek of desperation. Very common.

It's hard to say anything specific without knowing what sort of person you are, but I'll take a shot at answering number four. Alpha Males are annoying. Assertive People are fun to be around. If your version of nice involves shit like "agree with what she says so she'll like me better," or "say bad things about myself so that she knows I'm not an egotist," or "don't do anything even vaguely in the realm of flirting because I don't want her to think I just want her for her body," then what you need to do is be better at being you, instead of being better at being Her Theoretical Boyfriend.
posted by lore at 3:48 PM on February 14, 2010 [153 favorites]

There is a moderate version and the fact that all that pickup artist bullshit bothers you means that you definitely have a chance at being a moderate guy. It doesn't sound like you are bitter however, it does sound like you may have some Nice Guy(tm) tendencies, which is what lore is talking about. Stop reading that pickup stuff and go over to Heartless Bitches. They generally tell it like it is. Here's their introduction to Nice Guys. They are quite blunt about everything so some of this may be as much of a mind fuck as that pick up stuff. However, it focuses on having good self-esteem, being assertive enough to make yourself clear with being an ass, etc. The kind of stuff that will make you be a better you, not change who you are.
posted by Procloeon at 3:52 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

After reading Intimate Connections last year I decided a few weeks ago to try a few online dating sites.

Are you doing the exercises? Because your comments seem to indicate otherwise. That book works when you do the exercises. But boy, does it work.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:52 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

1. No
2. With equal parts snark, disdain, and creep-out
3. surely not
4. I don't know. What's a moderate version? Does "talking to women" count?

Also, what Lore said.

Meeting people can be very, very hard, especially if you're shy and live in a small town. You may need to expand your search circle, and consider something long distance...

... or move to the US. We ladies are suckers for British accents!
posted by kestrel251 at 3:53 PM on February 14, 2010

It's possible that there are certain changes you could make that would help you be more successful in intimate relationships, but those changes probably don't involve becoming a jerk. And by trying to be someone you're not, you'll only find people who like that fake person instead of the real you.

I think for someone who has been single for a while, getting back into being vulnerable, outgoing, communicative with strangers, etc can be pretty challenging. Instead of approaching this as a "what's wrong with me" problem, or a "how can I trick women into liking me" problem, how about treating it as a personal challenge to grow in a way that welcomes more people, including women, in?

Group activities, clubs, volunteer work, gaming groups, sports teams, group hikes etc are all tried and true ways both to meet people, and to practice how to meet people. Psychotherapy, including group therapy, are well known ways to explore the ways you might be holding yourself back from meeting people.

In terms of your online profile, take a look at a bunch of other guy's profiles and make some mental notes about what seems interesting, compelling, etc. You don't need to change yourself to be attractive, but writing is a skill, and writing profiles is hard. Nothing wrong with trying to make yours show yourself off better. I also have the sense that women don't contact guys as much as vise versa, so I wouldn't assume that your profile is unatractive just cuz you haven't had bites yet.

Good luck! You're brave, and I have faith you'll find something.
posted by serazin at 3:54 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Don't rely on others for your self-worth, because it doesn't come from there.

As mpls2 says, you need to like yourself more. For a start stop calling yourself 'failuremale'.
As a good friend of mine once told me "Don't ever put yourself down, even in jest. As the world does a good enough job of that". I've taken that on board, and its really helped.

I'm suggesting you give the whole pick-up thing a miss, and concentrate on a) what makes you, you and b) personal assertiveness.

Potential Befinets from this:
We are all individuals, which is great. This is what attracts the other sex. Let's say you meet this hot lady, who you wish to get to know better. What are you going to bring to the table? Being adored over, and followed by a pushover gets tiresome awfully fast.
"It's hard to respect someone, if your constantly kissing their ass"/

You need to be able to stand you ground with any relationship (romantic or otherwise). That's not saying be an ASS just assert yourself.

Recently I've been meeting a lot of new people, not in a formal date setting. And beyond the obvious what do you do for a job, the one I ask is along the lines of "what do you do for fun?".
My view is that if the person can't answer that, then there is an issue.

So anon what do you do for fun?
Do your classes interest you? Could you describe them to a stranger?
Is there anything you wished you did but haven't got round to?

And something to think about: if you did meet said hot lady where would you take her? Get out there, find the places that interest you. I've taken women to science museums, art galleries, feeding ducks in the park, a cathedral, a river cruise, rock climbing, hikes.

Just my opinion. I've been single for most of my adulthood, surounded by coupled-up friends, so does that make me a failure? No, I don't think so.

Finally have some fun, in life don't count the years, count the moments.

ps. My answer would be pretty much the same if you were female.

On preview: go back and re-read lore's comments.
posted by 92_elements at 3:55 PM on February 14, 2010 [5 favorites]

You've only presented one hypothesis here, but not the actual profile/description of yourself on these dating sites. There could be any number of problems with your writing. If you want to be super careful, you could consider hiring a consultant/profile writer who sounds like someone _you_ would respect.

Here are a couple of pages about avoiding common mistakes, like having a long, meandering, non-specific profile, or over-specifying the physical attributes of the women you're looking for, or having a photo that has worse lighting than 99% of all profile photos (not saying you're doing that, just saying that we here have no idea):

How to Avoid Online Dating Profile Mistakes that Men Make (skip to #4, probably);

Avoid Common Mistakes article;

another one;
posted by amtho at 3:56 PM on February 14, 2010

Yeah, look around at AskMe and you'll see just how well people have treated the pickup artist crap.

You mainly sound like you need a bit more confidence. Not only do a lot of women like-as-in-romantically someone who is kind, respectful, polite, but a lot of people in general like-as-in-friends that kind of person, which in itself is attractive, I would suggest.

Now, the issue is that being respectful and polite can look more like you're reserved and not willing to engage with people. I'm not sure what to suggest in that regard, but mpls2's comment above mine might apply.

So just get out there. I've lived in small towns, I know how hard it can be. But you comment that you go to classes - that means college or something similar? Use those friends (in a nice way), especially if they're at school with you - if any of them are female friends, ask them if they know anyone looking to be set up on a date. They're your friends, they probably know someone, or will have good, tailored-to-you advice.

Or hell, just start talking to another classmate. Expanding your circle of friends/contacts is generally how I've gotten dates - and trust me, I'm less attractive than you.

Whatever you do, do not fall into that pickup crap. It's just setting you up for a lifetime of being a tool.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:57 PM on February 14, 2010

I just favorited lore's comment so hard.

In my experience, the only guys who complain about having the "friend zone" problem are the ones who establish in their heads certain physical criteria for their hypothetical girlfriends, and then follow girls who fit that dream profile around like puppies. They're shooting themselves in the foot in two distinct ways: first, as a woman, it's really pathetic and disturbing to have a guy try to "friend" his way into your pants, so the girls these guys pursue usually end up being weirded out to the point where a relationship is out of the question. Second, these guys are blinding themselves to the girls who actually are interested (believe me, there are always some).

Girls like confidence. The pick-up artist model isn't being confident; it's a mask that guys use when they are too afraid to be themselves. Don't go down that road.
posted by oinopaponton at 3:58 PM on February 14, 2010 [18 favorites]

Data point: I'm a non-alpha male; I don't try to hide this or change who I am; in fact, my profile on dating sites strongly hints that I'm a non-alpha male; and I've had success with dating sites. So, do you have to be an alpha male to successfully use dating sites? No.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:58 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

That pick up artist stuff works on scoring one-night stands with dumb club/bar sluts. Is that the type of dating life you want? Is that the type of woman you want to attract? If not, don't follow that advice.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:59 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another thing... You asked: "is my profile too honest?" There's no way for us to know this without seeing it. If you want to email me your profile, I'll take a look at it and give you my opinion on whether anything's drastically wrong with it.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:00 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's a difference between self-confidence and being a misogynistic asshole.

An anecdote from this weekend:

I was supervising a group of undergrads pulling an invasive variety of ivy for the community service portion of a course. Two of the undergrads, un-ironically referring to each other as bro and brohan, did almost no work and had the loudest possible conversation about how awesome they were and how they'd seen so many women fail at manual labor. Meanwhile, the other two dozen students, mostly women, are toiling away at pulling up thick mats of ivy. The two bros were completely ignored by every woman there. The rest of the guys, though, who just quietly got to it and started yanking vines, got included in the word games and conversation the women started up after we'd been working for a while. Most of the group did not know each other when we started, and I saw some of the guys and gals who had been strangers a few hours earlier talking to each other as everyone left.

The alpha male, pay-attention-to-me-I'm-a-huge-douche thing only works in situations where everyone else has been encultured to accept that as the social standard. Thankfully for you, you're not cut out to be a brohan.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 4:01 PM on February 14, 2010 [7 favorites]

Just wanted to add-- women can usually tell whether you're being their friend because you genuinely like them as a person or you just want to sleep with them. Real friendships with women would be great for you and you should pursue them. Fake, waiting-around-until-she-changes-her-mind friendships aren't good for anyone.
posted by oinopaponton at 4:02 PM on February 14, 2010 [8 favorites]

The comments so far are well-meaning, but as one "beta" male to another: it's not unreasonable for you to want to change. You recognize that what you've been doing has not created the life you want. (You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results...)

But there is no simple checklist that will magically fix this. Not PUA manuals, not smiling more, not "being yourself". You may not even know what "being yourself" even means in social situations yet. Your introversion has prevented you from fully developing socially. We "nice" guys use niceness to reduce friction created when we don't understand how to operate in social situations. Don't focus on dating just yet -- you're going to need to work on developing yourself socially. Whether that means therapy for social anxiety or finding the strength to push yourself into uncomfortable social situations each day, failing, and learning -- over and over and over -- this is the way forward.

Feel free to MeMail me if you'd like.
posted by the jam at 4:03 PM on February 14, 2010 [7 favorites]

By the way: any time anybody finds themselves paying any kind of serious attention to any question involving identity or even validity "as a man" or "as a woman" or "as a liberal" or "as a $CATEGORY_DESIGNATOR", they're Doing It Wrong.

Am I a real man? Am I a real woman? Am I a real conservative? Am I a real lover? The real question that should be asked instead of all of those is: Am I paying far too much attention to somebody who wants to sell me something by taking advantage of my feelings of insecurity or inadequacy?
posted by flabdablet at 4:04 PM on February 14, 2010 [11 favorites]

The misogyny on those kinds of 'theories' is the unavoidable core

This. The misogyny is not an unfortunate side issue of or distraction from that PUA shit - it's the value system upon which it is based.

I think what others have said here is right on - insofar as PUA tactics work for shy guys, it's because it helps them "fake it till they make it" with women, and the "it" is confidence. Even if you're not some uber-manly man, there are bound to be women out there who are jazzed about your strong points - actually, lots of women aren't even interested in manly men at all, especially not for relationships. And I'm not just saying that - I've seen it over and over again.
posted by lunasol at 4:07 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

The not-so-awesome minus of PUA is that if you're really trying it, people you are not trying to pick up will notice. They will comment about it. A lot of their comments will have to do with how you're obviously trying to follow some kind of guy template to mask your insecurities.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:12 PM on February 14, 2010

Sometimes guys say "I'm too nice" or "I'm too beta" to mean I never actually ask anyone out. You need to start doing the job of finding someone. The problem is not where you live; it's not that you're too nice.

You need to start meeting women - not online profiles - in the flesh women. That means you need to push yourself outside of your safe zone and approach women. That may mean adding some friends or going to new places.
posted by 26.2 at 4:17 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

For a different take on the types of males and females who attract one another, I suggest reading "Why Him? Why Her?" by Helen Fisher. She believes that people fall into one of four main types of personality traits, and the book goes into great detail as to who matches up best with who.

As a "nice guy" you may fall into the Nurturer category. Nurterers pair up well with Directors (who tend to be intelligent, direct and ambitious and need the softer Nurturer type to balance them out.)

Read the book and then check out Chemistry.com which is a dating site based on this concept. There you would be likely to meet women who know they are Directors and that the type of man they are best matched with is a Nurturer, and presumably would not be on that site if they were looking to be matched up with alpha males.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:24 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Our mothers were right: Just be yourself. Don't apologize for anything, have some confidence, and be willing to walk away from a situation. Desperation and lack of confidence are two of the most unattractive qualities someone of either gender can have.

As for being "too nice," I'm not sure I get it. I'd agree with lore's comment: that's a smokescreen to help convince yourself that there's some other reason for a lack of success with meeting and connecting with women. Maybe low self-esteem, being too scared to tell a woman how you really feel, being too self-deprecating (there's a certain amount of salesmanship involved in dating - you want to put your best foot forward, not start trying to convince someone why they shouldn't date you), whatever. I have no idea if any of these apply to you, but hopefully you get the idea.

Our mothers were also right about something else. When I was younger and wanted to tell a girl I liked her but was too scared the sensible adult response was always, "What's the worst that happens, she says 'no'?" Which, at 15, was exactly the worst that could happen. But we're adults now. You can put it out there, let someone know you like them, you're into them, want to get to know them better, think they're beautiful. Worst that happens? She doesn't reciprocate. So you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue the search. It's the only way. Time to man up and start projecting some confidence out there, it's the MOST attractive quality in a prospective partner, in my opinion.
posted by fso at 4:45 PM on February 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

Well, here's what you need to know:

1) A lot of the PUA stuff is totally creepy.
2) A lot of the PUA stuff is really important to understand.
3) A LOT of people don't want to admit how the world really works.
4) F*ck 'em.

I'm not going to go into any particular depth, because frankly this is a pretty hostile place for that sort of discussion. I will tell you this: Be social, not antisocial. That is where the PUA stuff falls down. But know what you want, and do not be some hapless dude that things just happen to. That is where romantic comedies are lying to you.
posted by effugas at 4:51 PM on February 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

Female perspective here, and sure to be very politically incorrect... Some of the PUA sites on the web could be helpful in finding a relationship -- the ones that focus on just getting comfortable approaching women, risking rejection, staying relaxed and in the moment, etc. Those are skills that every man should have, and they're more than battle-of-the-sexes skills, they're overall social skills.

The sites and "systems" that focus on "funny and cocky" behavior, "negging," etc, are likely to be helpful if your goal is to go to a hot club and get a "same night lay" from a (probably drunk) stranger -- er, sorry, an "HB10." This is where "alpha male" (read: asshole) behavior will probably net results.

However, you should know that women who go to clubs every night and routinely go home with men they've met that night are not turned on by the same thing as the women who want a husband, a picket fence, and 2.4 kids... and there are all kinds of women in between.

I've been following PUA culture on Usenet/the Web for about 15 years and it's not monolithic; some is really geared toward helping shy, nice guys meet kind, nice women, and some is ragingly, nakedly misogynistic and flat-out rapey. Surf around, and your gut should tell you which advice will help you be Johnny Depp and which will help you be Ted Bundy.

I'll leave you with these thoughts: Manipulative, poseur game-playing will be very successful at helping you date manipulative, poseur game-players. Trying to fake being a so-called "alpha male" will help you temporarily attract women who only care about your perceived slot in the social pecking order and will dump/cheat on you as soon as someone more "alpha" happens by.

But learning to be relaxed and keep your sense of humor in the face of the inevitable rejections of life will help you date women who are relaxed and can keep their sense of humor in the face of the inevitable rejections of life. And yes, shy, respectful nerds do get the girl... my husband managed to snag me, anyway!
posted by ROTFL at 5:02 PM on February 14, 2010 [17 favorites]

You don't really have to change anything about yourself, but in order to avoid the friend zone, you need to be more honest. If you find someone attractive or interesting, just say so. Actually, saying "I think you're attractive/cute/interesting" might be kind of a turnoff, so instead say something like "I was wondering if you would like to go on a date sometime." Then it's a date, which is not in the friend zone.

They may be polite and say "yes" and go on a date with you, because it's difficult to say "no" to such a request. However, if that's the case, they won't go out with you a second time, which helps you avoid wasting time. If they do like you, they will go out with you again.

By the third date, you can be honest again and say you think they are attractive. And then you can kiss.

You just need to be more direct and more strategic. And persistent. Don't give up.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:08 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Have you read the saga of the banjo? Have you seen how that guy was being "nice", rather than nice, and how creepy most of the women reading that thread found his self-serving-gesture-under-the-guise-of-being-nice? When you read and really understand the distinction outlined in that thread you might be on the way to meeting women on an equal footing without any PUA crap.
posted by MsMolly at 5:57 PM on February 14, 2010 [11 favorites]

If you want to be successful in the dating world, you simply need to view yourself as an equal with the women you want to date. Not below, and not above. If you can do that, everything else will fall in place.
posted by kaizen at 5:57 PM on February 14, 2010 [9 favorites]

Seconding kaizen, and noting particularly that "not below, not above" has nothing to do with whether or not a given woman is "in your league" or not. It's about people taking each other seriously, not whose facial features are closest to the species average.
posted by flabdablet at 6:40 PM on February 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

ROTFL pretty much sums up this thread, but I just have to add my two cents: I was once like you. This was because I didn't have a hobby. I leeched off other people's lives, and there was no reason for anyone to find me interesting. I don't know if you're in the same situation because you have no details, but a major thing I've learned in my life is that once you start to care about something other than demanding people pay attention to you, it's much easier to start conversations and keep them going.

And yeah, don't worry about your identity.
posted by shii at 7:10 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Try this site for some misperceptions that result because of the seduction community. Those mindsets are pretty real, like the brohan brothers but worse.
posted by iNfo.Pump at 7:12 PM on February 14, 2010

Also, try No More Mr. Nice Guy - a book that describes the nice guy syndrome. Maybe you are not it. Read the reviews if that resonates along with nice guys website link given by Procloeon
posted by iNfo.Pump at 7:16 PM on February 14, 2010

If you found a girl who was just perfect for you, what would she enjoy?

To answer this, you need to make a list of what YOU enjoy.

For example: I enjoy watching the A-Team. I enjoy biking to the next town and back. I enjoy WoW. I enjoy tennis.

Then think about a friend who enjoys doing those things with you.

Then imagine that friend is a girl.

For example: I want a girl who I can debate with for an hour about the merits of BA Baracus vs Face. I want a girl who can keep up with me on a five mile bike ride. I want a girl who has her own Level 40 Rogue and knows how to use it. I want a girl who can school me with her lightning fast backhand.

Examples of things that are verboten when writing this list: I want a girl to take walks on the beach with. I want a girl to read poetry to. I want a girl I can bake cookies for.

The above are allowed on the list if and ONLY if: You live near the beach and go beachcombing on your own every week, but really wish you had someone to help carry the metal detector. You recite at open-mic poetry nights and wish you had someone to practice with. You are training to be a pastry chef and need a taste-tester.

Why? Because the examples in the first list are all things you'd do on your own or with a friend, so if you meet someone who shares those interests you've got a real basis for a relationship. The second list are all things you could do with ANY girl, regardless of whether you have any interests in common, and girls see this and think, "geez, he doesn't really care about how well we get along TOGETHER, he just wants someone who he can play at Boyfriend/Girlfriend with. I'm gonna go look for someone who seems to have some interests of their own."
posted by MsMolly at 7:20 PM on February 14, 2010 [11 favorites]

Are you looking for a relationship or to get laid? If it is to get laid, use the alpha male shit and the theory of numbers. Try it a lot and you will find some takers. If you are looking for a loving long term relationship, learn to like yourself first then be yourself. I have found that until you like yourself you cannot love someone else. Too much conflict, self doubt, self sabotage, etc. You sound like a good catch.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:47 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't worry -- you'll find the right girl as soon as you stop looking for her.
posted by spilon at 8:00 PM on February 14, 2010

1. No.
2. So badly.
3. Don't read self-help books in order to learn about what kind of man you are. Suitably the best environment of experimentation about effect is trial and error.
4. Woman like introverted guys. I am total extrovert. Luckily, women also like ridiculous confidence, great toothy smiles and curly salt and pepper hair.
posted by parmanparman at 8:02 PM on February 14, 2010

When people say they are too nice what they really mean is they are too passive. There is no such thing as being too nice. Passivity is very irritating, though.
posted by Flying Squirrel at 8:16 PM on February 14, 2010 [6 favorites]

The singular of data isn't anecdote, but I'm married to a guy who pretty much fits the so-called "beta male" description to a T. I love him like blue fire, and he's so sexy he makes my toes curl. The "alpha male" types, on the other hand, make my entire skin try to crawl off my body and leave me in an emotional state best described as a combination of aghast and disgusted. (Aghusted?) I'm pretty awesome, so I don't think my husband "settled" for me, either.

In conclusion? Alphas are awful, betas are best. Also, we spent Valentine's Day dinner in a rapt, sparkling discussion of Finnish history, and it was awesome. Man I love that guy so much.
posted by KathrynT at 8:17 PM on February 14, 2010 [6 favorites]

Is there a 'moderate' version that might be better suited to someone like me?

Will Cook for Sex.
posted by water bear at 8:26 PM on February 14, 2010

Get some real goals for yourself, and achieve them. I have no over-arching theory like those (pretty loathsome seeming to me) PUA people, but I can observe that among men who have done something with their lives, very, very, very few of them are single except by choice.
posted by MattD at 10:02 PM on February 14, 2010

Hey, I'm the nicest guy in the world and I landed the wonderful and gorgeous mrs. director a few decades ago. I mean she's a looker and had lots of guys pining over her. I was a young, dumb, nothing of a nobody. If a young man was described as "having prospects" they weren't talking about me. And yet I prevailed where many others failed.

Let me see if I can recall what I did.

As has been stated above, there's a big difference between being nice and being a doormat.

Honestly, I wasn't very imaginitive. I only had one plan: I found ways to talk to her. At first, just a comment here and there but gradually expanded over time. Any (valid) excuse I could come up with. Talking is where it all happens and if she's talking to me she isn't talking to some other mook.

Lots of guys would ask her on a date and then moon over her until she couldn't stand it. Just before I showed up she swore off dating entirely and she made her stance plain to all. So I didn't ask her out -- I was dead broke anyway. I spent time with her at her house, or did things with our group while always searching for a reason to talk.

Here's the big (no) secret about talking (mostly I mean asking questions then shutting the hell up): it let's you put attention on her in a good way, it gives you (sometimes critical) information about her, and it lets her think about you in a positive way. No creepy questions, though, and the point isn't for you to show off but for her to.

Then one night I asked her to dance. When it was over, I immediately asked for the next dance. Then the next, and the next, until the dance ended and she had spent the entire evening with me. That was February 29th, 1980. We've been together almost every day since.

So, no more whining about being too nice. Nice girls like nice guys but you have to show some strength of character, some confidence, some reason for them to feel safe with you.
posted by trinity8-director at 12:06 AM on February 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

'Nice, kind, respectful guys' also have a tendency to being self-deprecating. This is poison when it comes to wanting to stand out from the crowd.

Just be confident and be specific about what you are looking for. Of course, don't go on and on about how wonderful you are. But use positive, confident language.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 12:33 AM on February 15, 2010

Sometimes "too nice", "too kind", etc can mean something a bit different, like

- subsuming your own desires and interests to those of someone else
- failing to ask for what you want, or expecting people to divine your needs with their psychic powers
- being like an enthusiastic puppy and slavering over people
- getting in contact too frequently, disregarding signals that it's becoming overbearing, and so appearing like a stalker
- having no personal boundaries
- allowing people to take advantage of you

All of these things are extremely unattractive, in both men and women.
posted by emilyw at 12:50 AM on February 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

As usual, the web comic xkcd has a good one about "Nice Guys".

(That's "Nice Guys" with the quotation marks, as opposed to actual nice guys.)
posted by Asparagirl at 1:04 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Point by point answers:
  1. You may have to change how you act; whether you have to totally change as a person is a really complicated question. If you were like yourself but more confident, would you have totally changed? Here I'd like to throw in a standard suggestion to meditate and spend some time finding out what your self really is.
  2. The evidence presented upthread is not favourable. It reads like manipulation to me, as well, and manipulation is not so good.
  3. I don't know of any scientific investigation into these schemes; there are some just-so stories coming from the evolutionary psychology community about relations between the sexes, but evolutionary psychology is notorious for providing unfalsifiable hypotheses. Anyway, using the scientific method here would involve some studies across populations, making the results useful for predicting the results for large groups but probably little use for individuals because of the large variation in populations.
  4. Perhaps you would be better off trying to create your own "program" for interacting with people on an individual basis, instead of taking someone else's word for how your liaisons should go. Applying The Game, or The Rules, or whatever other system is internalising someone else's crude description of how things should go between the average man and the average woman and forcing it onto the special case of you interacting with a specific other.
The Game et. al. read as misogyny coupled with a deep seated insecurity and fear to me. Even without that, the problem with these systems is that they underestimate the differences between people. Imagine someone was trying to get to know you - would you prefer for them to base their interaction on a study of the mind of the average male from your culture, or would it be better if they tried to find out about you by talking to you and to figure it out from there. People are so varied that trying to condense all the nuances of personality into a few stereotypes and rules leads to vapid and unfulfilling interactions. One size does not fit all.
posted by larkery at 5:10 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Absolutely nothing wrong with nice guys. There's the running joke that alpha males, in times of old, were always running off to war with their clubs, and then who got to stay behind and comfort the weeping women? Beta males. Beta males often have quality (reliability, dependency, kindness) that make them suited for long-term relationships. So you'll ultimately win longer than a lot of "alpha males" if you play your cards right.

I'm a woman, and I have to say, the only thing I see wrong here is that you *really* don't like yourself ("failuremale", "If indeed I'm a male at all", "unattractive"). I'm going to assume you know yourself well, and if you don't like yourself, how I am expected to like you? It's like buying a car from someone who thinks it sucks. Why would I do that? If you project that you like yourself, and start working on yourself, then I'm much more likely to believe you when you tell me you're a good prospect for me. You are what you project yourself as, you are what you think about yourself.

So, right now, today, start re-imagining yourself as awesome, attractive, kind, reliable, you're going to be that guy who will one day be the one to make that gorgeous, smart gal everyone wants forget alllll about that tall, dark, and handsome alpha male who left her in the dirt. Start doing what "the new you" would do: attractive people work out and take care of themselves, right? Do that. Kind people open the doors for others when they're in a difficulty. Awesome people are always ready with a smile because they are just so happy to be here each and every single damn day, and ready to see what the world has to offer them today. Reliable people return phone calls, follow up, are dutiful. . . . . It's all just "fake it 'til you make it." :)

I wish you much luck, winning beta male.
posted by Dukat at 6:44 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

People like confidence. Confidence comes from doing things you like and are proud of. (Confidence without achievement is 'arrogance' and people don't like that.) The way to meet and date interesting people is to (1) do cool things and share them with others and (2) ask neat-seeming people if they wanna hang out. Don't petition - just invite.

Humans value continuance and involvement. Get involved with people, find ways to be a meaningful part of their lives, and you will grow as a person. If all you want is to get laid there are avenues for that, but the good stuff comes from just being a person among people. Start with, say, an affinity group - stuff you like doing among others. Tango? Contract bridge? Habitat for Humanity? Be real and real things will happen; sit around posting to the Internet and things will happen according to that logic instead, which fucking sucks.
posted by waxbanks at 7:51 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

nth-ing the whole self-confidence thing -- even if you are a completely awesome, attractive, intelligent guy with an intriguing assortment of interests, if you loathe yourself, people will pick up on that and not really want to be around you.

Additionally, how are you selecting women to approach (online or in reality)? A lot of the "nice guys" I have known (especially college-age "nice guys") have selected potential girlfriends based solely on their physical attributes (such as being slender, large-breasted, and generally unusually physically attractive), rather than on anything like shared interests, or even the hint of interest on the girl's part. Unless you live in a cave and see nobody, there are probably a few women who actually do think you're cute/charming/whatever. They might have escaped your notice because you've been busy pining after women you think are beautiful, but who aren't interested in you at all. This isn't to say that you should date women you find unattractive, but that you should look more closely at the women you meet in class, or people who don't have great profile pictures but who sound like women you'd actually like to hang out with. If you look for mutual attraction, rather than randomly going up to women and asking them out just because you think they're insanely gorgeous, you're much more likely to go out on a couple dates (and a lot less likely to get shot down and sustain massive ego-bruises.)
posted by kataclysm at 8:58 AM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

What kind of relationship are you looking for? I'm not familiar with "Intimate Connections," but if you want a one-night stand with a skanky and/or very young girl with self-esteem issues, try a sleazy pick-up technique. If you want a real relationship, be who you are, and be confident about it. Smart women over age 17 (okay, maybe 20) are looking for good men with good heads on their shoulders, not manipulative assholes. We sleep with the macho jerks when we're 19 and stupid. But we marry the kind, considerate, creative men we can spend hours talking to. Since evolutionary pseudo-science seems to appeal to you (and please take any science about sexual attraction with a mound of salt) - we're looking for a man who will take care of our children. Not one who will run off with any floozy in a bar.

And not even "a male at all"? Don't be ridiculous. As others said above, it's that lack of confidence that will hurt your chances with women more than anything else.
posted by walla at 12:22 PM on February 15, 2010

I'm pretty late here, but I have quite a few opinions about this. I've only read a few of the replies, so I apologize if I'm repeating anyone. I also apologize if I come off as overly critical; tone is hard to convey.

I'll start here: 3. Does the scientific evidence support its conclusions? (The conclusions of the pickup-artist stuff.)

As far as I know, the PUA stuff has never been scientifically tested- that is, tested in a rigorous and soundly designed way by a serious scientist/researcher who knows what they are doing. And as far as I know, not even an amateur has made a decent attempt at testing it rigorously. It seems to be just a bunch of anecdotes- probably some true, some false, some exaggerated- bandied around on message boards, blogs, and in books. It's become a cliche to say around here, but the plural of anecdote is not data. And I think there's probably a huge amount of confirmation bias and placebo effect in play there.

If you go ahead and try it I suspect that not only will you not get more interest, you will actually get less. (But at least then it will be out of your system and you can stop wondering about it.)

(I think if you do try it, you should do it in a methodical way so you can distinguish what is correlated with doing the PUA stuff, from what is caused by doing the PUA stuff. In other words- you may decide to do the PUA stuff, and go out and try it on 100 women. And you may get a phone number. But it might not have been because of the PUA methods themselves- it might be because you were simply getting out of the house introducing yourself to women, and hadn't been before! It may have worked in spite of the PUA methods, not because of them. So I think it would benefit you to watch for things like that. Maybe even record what you've tried with and without PUA stuff for comparison.)

Next issue:

It also suggests that I'm the sort of person who gets 'friend-zoned' rather than boyfriend-zoned

In my opinion, there is a certain kind of person who gets friend-zoned, but it has nothing to do with personality or looks. The kind of person who gets friend zoned is someone who does not recognize/will not accept the fact that the object of their attraction is simply not attracted to them in return. The person lingers on as a friend in the hopes that the object of their attraction will eventually become attracted to them. Any guy, even David Beckham would find himself in the friend zone if he did that. It is my opinion that 99% of the time when someone is simply not attracted to you there is NOTHING you can do about it,*** and either way, it's a better use of your time to find someone who is attracted to you from the start.

The point of this is, nobody puts you in the friend-zone. If you are in the friend zone it's because you put yourself there. You didn't have a choice between the friend zone and the boyfriend and/or sex zone- the boyfriend and/or sex zone was never an option for you with this person and never would be. You had a choice between the friend zone and nothing and picked the friend zone.

The good news is that this means staying out of the friend zone is entirely within your control. The way to do this is easy- don't become friends with people who aren't attracted to you (unless all you really and truly want is friendship.) Stop wasting your time mooning after people who aren't interested. (Not saying you in particular do this- I don't know if you do or not.) If you can't tell who is attracted to you and who is not, that is a concrete skill and anyone can become much better at it.

(***I think the exception is if you become *radically* better looking. If you become suddenly rich and famous, if someone wasn't attracted to you before, they still probably wouldn't be, but they might go ahead and sleep with/use you anyway.)

1. Do I need to totally change as a person in order to have any realistic chance with women?

Short answer- no. All women are different. Different women like different things. I strongly believe that no matter what a person looks like or what their personality is like, there is another person who would find them very attractive. So: you have a chance with a certain number of women exactly as you are right now. If you totally changed as a person, and say, became a loathsome jerk, you would have a chance with a certain number of women. But then, you'd probably lose the interest of the women of the first group. Personally, I find the guys who practice the PUA stuff generally transparent and repellent when I encounter them in life. I despise sleazeballs and frat types. I *prefer* intelligent, friendly, well-mannered guys with nerdy qualities. In fact, I've never dated someone who wasn't like that.

What I think you have to do is, again, get better at figuring out which women are in the group that likes you exactly as you are right now. And stop wasting time with the women who aren't in that group. (More on that below).

I think it was Eddie Van Halen who said something to the effect of "I don't get the women I like; I get the women who like me." This is a guy who has plenty of women wanting to sleep with him because he is a rock star. Yet, if a woman doesn't care about that and finds him very unattractive? Brick wall. He could not just walk up to say, Beyonce and sleep with her. Even being a rock star won't get you everyone, or even most people. And if he persisted? Friend zone.

In that vein, although I couldn't agree more with almost everything lore said, when it comes to this- They turn "nice" into a compulsive obsession with weird, creepy anachronistic chivalry. (If you've ever seriously used the term "milady," this might be you.) -- I don't think you necessarily have to change if this is you. It's just that you couldn't expect it to work on all random women. You would have to find the kind of woman who would be into that. In this case, for example, if I were a guy who was really into weird anachronistic chivalry and loved calling women "milady", I think I'd have the best luck trying to meet women at Renaissance Faires and things like that.

On the other hand, though, I think you could widen the circle of people who are attracted to you by simply becoming a better version of you. I think something concrete like improving your physical appearance might help a lot. If you don't get much exercise, if you're not healthy, I think turning that around would definitely help you. Also, if your interests are things that mainly only guys are into, it might help to broaden that- in a genuine way, not an I'm-just-taking-this-class-to-meet-chicks way, which won't help you seem interesting.

A bit more on not wasting time with women who aren't into you-- the OKCupid blog has been linked on this site a bunch of times before; I think this entry might be appropriate here. From the entry: Site-wide, two-thirds of male messages go to the best-looking third of women. So basically, guys are fighting each other 2-for-1 for the absolute best-rated females, while plenty of potentially charming, even cute, girls go unwritten. Hopefully, you're not falling into this trap.

Related- when I've done the online dating thing, the overwhelmingly vast majority of the replies I got seemed to be from guys who hadn't read my ad at all or considered whether we'd have a thing in common; they seemed to have just focused on my pictures and thought I was attractive enough. So I think you might have more success if you consider why she is interesting to you, and why you would be interesting to her. Just finding someone attractive and being willing to worship at their altar is not enough for them to find you interesting. (Again, not saying you necessarily do this, just that it's a common thing.)

Last issues:

Questions about ... my validity as a man ... if indeed I even classify as a male at all.

Uh... I think you can check under your clothes for this one. This really does make it seem like you have some very odd ideas about men and women, and manhood. It sounds as if you've never had a good male role model. It might be helpful to find an older guy whose character, life, and accomplishments you admire, and befriend him.

A lot of this stuff also has quite a misogynistic tone, which I find very difficult but am overlooking for the moment.

Aside from all this other stuff, on a personal level-- this is a kind of troubling statement. The idea that a person would feel that something is wrong, but is readily willing to overlook it if it might help him get something he wants. It might be good to rethink this. It kind of suggests a sort of weakness/lack of conviction, which does not seem to be really true of you.

Carpal tunnel has now kicked in; best wishes and good luck ...
posted by Ashley801 at 11:12 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Read this article from Wired:

The Nice Guy's Guide to Realizing You're Not That Nice
posted by fso at 1:54 PM on August 4, 2010

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