Women interpret male niceness as proof that the male is not good enough for them. As The Chateau said – commenting on a study that revealed exactly this way of thinking by women – if you’re nice to her she takes that as evidence that she’s too hot for you.
Thus it seems reasonable on the surface to think: Women are the choosers, so you’d better be nice to them. However, the reality is: Women are the choosers, so you’d better be mean to them.
You haven’t understood female evolutionary psychology until that last sentence makes sense to you. If it doesn’t make sense to you – if you think that evolution implies that women should make choices that make them happy – remind yourself of this:
Evolution doesn’t select for happiness. It selects for reproductive success.
So much male confusion about women results from a failure to understand this point. Quite a lot of female sexual behavior is driven by this fact. Women are compelled by their genes to have sex with men who won’t make them happy. An indifferent jerk who places a low value on a female makes her experience a fierce desire to have sex with him.
Presumably the evolutionary driver of this is as follows: Alpha males are the desirable mates (because they can protect and provide for a woman and her offspring). And for that reason, alphas receive sexual attention from many women. This surplus of sexual attention makes an alpha indifferent to any particular woman. Thus women evolved the “short-cut” algorithm of concluding that a man who is indifferent to them is alpha. I don’t mean that women think this through explicitly and “draw conclusions.” Hardly! Rather, it’s an emotional response to indifferent men that evolution has hard-wired into the female brain.
Additionally, women seem to be hard-wired to put out for men who don’t give them much affection in the hopes that the sex will earn the man’s affection. Needless to say, this doesn’t work, but evolution has wired women to think that it will work. It’s one of the motivations women have to mate with alphas. By the way, ladies, this makes no sense, as should be obvious. If I treat you like dirt and you give me sex, do I have any incentive to change how I treat you? Try to answer by thinking with your brain, not your vagina. Your vagina is genetically programmed to come up with the wrong answer. Anyway, a woman is wired to think that if she just puts out for the guy who treats her with contempt, he’ll stop treating her with contempt. (Yeah! And if you give someone a thousand bucks every time he throws a brick through your window, he’ll stop throwing bricks through your window!)
It is also true that in some ways, being with an alpha man makes a woman happy. Many (all?) women are suckers for emotional roller coasters. Some aspects of being with an indifferent man make women happy and some make them unhappy. Evolution doesn’t care about the “principled consistency” of all this; evolution is the ultimate ideology-free pragmatist. Seeing her boyfriend flirt with the waitress and the waitress flirt back may make a woman unhappy and wet at the same time: Unhappy because it’s a threat to the relationship. Wet because (1) it’s social proof of her man’s desirability, and (2) if she has sex with him ASAP she can yank his attention away from the relationship threat.
Once in a public library I walked past a group of around eighth-grade girls, one of them crying. And it wasn’t gentle weeping.
“Why is he so mean to me?” she wailed.
“Did you break up with him?” one of her friends asked.
“No,” she said through her tears.
God, it is funny, isn’t it? If you look at it from a certain point of view? I remember the incident because it was soon after I started to acquire a clue about female behavior. A couple of years before I would have thought, “Huh. If he’s mean to her I wonder why she doesn’t just break up with him.” This was one of the first times, maybe the first time, that I thought, “Yup. Standard female behavior. She didn’t break up with him because he’s mean to her.”
Anyway, the point is that women aren’t wired to do what will make them happy, but what will optimize the propagation of their genes. These can be the same thing or they can be totally different things; evolution doesn’t give a fuck. It will wire women to be made happy by reproductively optimal behavior if that’s the easiest hack, and will wire them to be deluded about what will make them happy if that’s the easiest.
This is also true for men, at least in principle, but the contradictions don’t seem as important for male sexual behavior as for female sexual behavior.
Jim in the comments at his blog:
(Backup link for WordPress’s magic Disappearing Links feature: https://blog.jim.com/culture/women-like-sexual-coercion/ )
Female behavior in sexual matters is not well described by utility maximization. They react to stimuli, rather than optimizing long term utility. They want what they do not want, and do not want what they do want.
Male sexual behavior is pretty much utility maximizing – or, which comes to much the same thing, pussy maximizing. Female behavior not so much. What women “like” is not consistent with behavior, nor predictive of behavior.