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Why Women Love Jerks, & Why You Should Be a Nice Guy Anyway

Do women truly prefer jerks — men who treat them rudely, who act like they could take ‘em or leave ‘em, or who actually do take them…then leave them?

If it weren’t for the stories and letters, I’d have to wonder; I myself prefer good, true, honest, loving, kind, faithful men—most especially the nice guy I married. I’d choose him again and again.

And yet we all know women who can’t seem to get excited about anyone but a jerk. So yes, it’s true: Some women want jerks. The bigger question is why.

The Status

Think back to your high school days. Now shudder. Now remember the guy who got all the girls. Yeah, him. I’ll bet he was a jerk.

On personality inventories, jerks aren’t sociopaths — they’re just really disagreeable, per scientific studies on personality. If you want to test your own personality traits, you can look here before continuing.

High school rewards jerkiness. Abundant science plus your own experience back this up: Girls dig status. In high school, status comes from having the quickest wit or the most athletic prowess, or both. All humor is pain redefined. The funniest guy in high school is typically hilarious at others’ expense. And jocks are not always known for throwing their weight around in the kindest possible ways.

The Money

The reason girls love status is the same one women do: In study after study, it’s associated with a man’s ability to provide and protect. Just as the toughest jock would have made a great protector in the ancient past—where all human mating psychology comes from—women today are drawn to whoever gets them and their kids/genes to survive. In today’s terms, that means money.

And jerks have money. Across a series of studies, the “jerk perk” is worth about $10k a year on average, or 18% more than more agreeable male peers. They aren’t better employees, but they have no hesitations about putting themselves or their interests forward. And that leads to ka-ching.

The Panties

There’s an industry directed at teaching men to be jerks—to alternately fake long-term interest, feign indifference, and/or pretend they’ve got more money (or degrees, cars, houses) than they really do.

There’s probably something to this; in studies, some women admit that when they have casual sex, they maintain high standards for a guy’s high resources. A cocky attitude may in itself tell a woman a guy has the goods, and lying can cover the rest.

Your Mission?

Jerks probably do get women more easily in casual sex scenarios. But they don’t get or stay married more easily; they aren’t loved more, or longer. Factually, their lives and loves are crappier—not happier. And studies show that very few men want to play the field all their lives; men and women alike want lasting, true love.

But jerks often lack what it takes to sustain that. In numerous studies, jerks are, by their own admission, less relationship-oriented, friendly, forgiving, trusting, helpful, warm, caring, cooperative, and sympathetic than non-jerks—precisely the opposite of the kind, loving, loyal heart women in 37 cultures and countries say they absolutely require in a mate. Jerks are less well-liked, they have more stress, and they have less happy lives. Basically, they have a little more money, and that’s it.

And money isn’t everything. Nice guys are good breadwinners, and in many decades of science, it’s clear that once you have enough money for the basics, you won’t be substantially happier with more.

No, everything is actually the way two people in love relate to one another.

Jerks aren’t into relating. But nice guys tend to show a woman that they genuinely like and care about her. They take the brave risks of saying that they’re in love, and backing it up with their behavior.

I can’t overstate this: In studies, the most attractive thing you can do is to openly admire the person you’re with. Liking leads to liking.

So, nice guys, keep being nice. If you’re going to change something, change your idea that somehow, being a jerk will give you a better life or love, or guaranteed success with women. It won’t.

In reviewing 40+ years of solid science on long-term love, here’s what I know for sure: If you can find and be someone kind and respectful, your relationship will work well, and if you can’t it won’t. Getting together with a woman who needs you to be a jerk so she’ll be into you is a guarantee of misery.

LoveFactually-Final-CoverUpshot? Your character counts. Nice guys finish first in every way that matters. Be one, openly.

About the Author:

Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do (2015). The book is available now. You can get a free chapter and learn more at