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May 21 2010

The Dr. Horrible syndrome (horribly nice guys). The Slap and The Tickle blog looks at why the Doctor put Penny on a pedestal.

Whoa, wait! I show the same symptoms! Aww, crap, I'm doomed.
I was exactly like that as a teenager. Maybe we all have to choose between freeze rays and being a dick.
depressingly accurate.
That's great. I've known far too many guys like this. The worse one being my husband's cousin. I don't talk to him directly, but my husband likes to share the blindingly pathetic facebook status updates.
I'm kind of like that. Only I'm a girl, but you know, same idea in reverse.
Yep, that was insightful and probably very true for 'nice guys' too shy to step up.

Still, there also has to be a term for 'nice guys' who do try/make their intentions clear, but still get put into the 'we're just friends'/'no thanks' category. Because that was totally me in my teens, and I can't think of any feeling quite as frustrating as that.

At the end of the day there is - unfortunately - a real 'girls fall for jerks' bias when we're young. I think the same would be true, though, if girls took the initiative just as often as guys: then guys would fall for the hot-girl-with-enough-self-confidence-to-come-on-to-them as well, without first taking a good, long look at their personalities ;). Heck, there's some of that going on as well without clearing the initiative-bias, but I'd say it's slightly skewed overall because of that gender/initiative inequality.

What's also going on is that (although it's in no way a universal rule), the best looking/most popular people don't need to be nice (they can be, but if they're not, they at least don't have to pretend to be nice). And in 'nice' I mean: kind and considerate to the opposite sex. In fact: Captain Hammer is almost a good example of that. I'd have no trouble imagining him being a genuine good guy, helping the helpless (so to speak), out of an altruistic streak, but still being a jerk to his rivals and still being a pompous ass in relationships, simply because he can. In fact, that describes a few of my - both male and female - friends, who are very kind and social people, but horrible boyfriends/girlfriends, because they know - sometimes actively, sometimes passively - they can get a new bf/gf without much effort. In the end, the best thing is often for two of those people to meet; they tend to keep each other on their toes, if they do really like each other ;).

I have found, though, that the 'nice guys' and 'nice girls' (who, really, aren't all that nice, every single day, like the name suggests ;)) simply have to wait out this phase because as life progresses, this social order interplay becomes less and less important and at some point, personality starts to come into the equation more and more. Probably around the same time people start looking for more stable and lasting relationships, instead of wanting to flaunt boys/girls as social trophies for friends.

Of course, the 'nice guy'/'nice girl' in question then does have to live in reality, unlike those people who have developed the Dr. Horrible syndrome; because they've probably already turned into sour super villains by that point ;).
GVH hit the nail on the head: "Probably around the same time people start looking for more stable and lasting relationships, instead of wanting to flaunt boys/girls as social trophies for friends."
During High School all the boys want the most popular girl/cheerleader and no one else will do, and all the girls want the validation of a guy their parents won't like.
College is usually way easier because most people move past that, dating becomes much more spontaneous, plus it is easier to find people with similar interests.

Then after the divorce it all becomes REALLY difficult! Sigh.
Well, GVH, those people probably qualify just as nice guys/girls. There's nothing wrong with being shy (I'm extremely shy) or not finding the right person yet. I didn't date in high school, and my first kiss was at the age of 18. My first boyfriend (a shy guy who hadn't dated in high school either) only asked me out after I said, "I really want to see this movie. But I don't have anyone to see it with." My second boyfriend I asked out (I was on anti-anxiety meds at the time, so not as shy). That was ten years ago, and now we're married.

The problem with Doctor Horribles is that they adopt a misogynistic attitude. That and the despair and the bitterness. Not attractive. There's a difference between not finding the right girls, and blaming the girls for not falling for you.

It's fine to go through the phase in your teen years, with the hormones and the awkwardness, but you should start growing out of it in your 20s.

(Apologies for rambling. My cat kept me up all night and it's put me in a rambling mood).
I do know a guy who proposed to a girl he only saw in church. They occasionally went out for coffee afterwards and after 2 years of this (in his mind) courtship, he proposed. Only to be told that she was already engaged.
It always confused me - how could he not know? But this did make it clear. She was on a pedestal and he never actually got to know her.
GVH, in response to your request for a term other than 'nice' (since this has been a tainted word in this context for a while, quite often used as a synonym for boring before the 'creepy and bitter' connotations of recent discussions) I've been using the word 'decent' to delineate the middle ground between the poles of 'nice' and 'bastard'....

[ edited by Alex_Jamieson on 2010-05-22 13:19 ]
There's a difference between not finding the right girls, and blaming the girls for not falling for you.

That's very true, theclynn, though I have to confess to having trouble with that concept in my teens. Although, to be fair, I never blamed women, I think I always used to just blame biology and our social constructs ;). Thanksfully - like with embers - the world started looking radically different when I went to study at university.

Alex_Jamieson: I like 'decent'. Has a lot less added weight than 'nice' does.
Oh, the painful truth in this article...

It took my friends a long time to get it through my head that being compassionate and considerate actually is appealing, but it'll never do on its own. If a "nice guy" wants to get with a girl, he needs to strike some kind of spark. And that spark only comes with confidence, really. Which is not the same as arrogance.

GVH, you're quite right that the same pattern plays out when confident girls go after the guys they want. That was my first relationship; she initiated it, controlled it the whole way, and then ended it. It was fantastic for me (in retrospect; not so much fun at the time), because it broke the ice for me, and made me realize that she wasn't perfect just because she'd slept with me... which made me see some of her other flaws. A few more failed attempts later, I'm with someone new, and we're vastly better for each other.

Basically the Dr. Horribles of the world need to realize that there's exactly one person on the planet they can control, themselves, and that they need work on themselves before they can go get the girls.
This article hits painfully close to home. It's absolutely a case of just needing to step up and take initiative, which I've slowly been working on recently. It's either that or get fitted for a lab coat.
Nothing helps a guy more with the ladies than good looks. . .
Nah it's all confidence. You need to create a reality that's safe for girls and where you happen to be the best thing in it. If you know about General Relativity, how spacetime curves around bodies of mass, I see it a lot like that. Perception curves around confidence, and if you're the most massive confidence in the area everyone else will fall into orbit around you, subjectively seeing reality in straight lines but actually it's warped around you. Girls love that.

[ edited by fraac on 2010-05-22 23:37 ]
Confidence is a byproduct that comes from the warm positive regards the good looking receive. And yes, it starts in childhood.
Trust me, the most awesome girls don't care about looks. But only so long as you don't. Having issues of any kind will hurt your chances, because then it's so much harder to create a stable reality that you can invite people into.
I suspect you're pretty young and that's okay. For stable relationships though, that is, relationships that last longer than 3 months, people pair off with people of their own level of looks. 8s marry 8s, 4s marry 4s. I'd rather not be involved with a woman in an artificial reality because that usually entails eventual major expenditures for psychtropic medication.
Good luck finding a real reality.
Oh there is definitely a real reality. Here's an experiment for people who think that reality is a social construct: imagine that that a curvy mountain road is really straight, take a car, and drive straight as fast as you can. You'll find real reality (albeit briefly).
But you know it's a curvy road, so that doesn't work. You don't see space bending around massive objects because the light bends with it. Perceived reality works likewise. You can choose a reality that persists for years, surround yourself by people with the same beliefs, have 8s doggedly marrying 8s, and still it'll be as articial as an awesome reality where hot girls want you. You'll know that on your deathbed, if you were never lucky enough to realise it sooner.
Wow, this comments thread has taken a turn for the weird :).

I'll ignore the philosophical reality argument here for the moment, and say: I think you're both right. All the confidence in the world won't raise your status if you look truly horrid. But at the same time enough confidence really does help you 'raise your status'.
I know right ? It started off with the fairly simple advice that (to boil it down) "If you want to get the girl then don't be a dick" and now we're questioning the nature of existence. W'esque rules ;).

Agreed though, some people almost seem able to "bend" reality around them, it's like they're slightly too "big" to get bogged down in the same quagmire most of the rest of us spend most of our time in - confidence can overcome many (but not all) obstacles (I bet we've all known some fairly average looking guys that are seemingly never single, just because they've mastered the ancient art of being themselves++ ;). I also agree with fraac that in human affairs (and that's so italicised that I actually want to make it lean over a bit more ;) much as i'm loathe to admit it, perception is reality. There's still an actual reality though (however difficult it may be to determine). And no, ultimately I can't prove that, it's an article of faith (if you can disprove it i'd be pretty interested to hear how though).

That said, it tickles me that someone talking about general relativity can in the same breath talk about the unrealness of reality (it's the most "Einsteinian" of Einstein's theories and old Albert was very into real realities) - melding him with fundamental unreality is a sort of a metaphorical quantum gravity ;).

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