Nobody likes the asshole, but…
And also gets the girl.
Or, at least, that seems to be the consensus among many men.
But is it true?
Do women love assholes?
Let’s find out.
Albeit we refer a lot to dating here, the same concepts apply to general socialization.
- Traits of An Asshole
- Advantages of Assholes
- Limitations Assholes
- 1. It’s not as universally effective
- 2. It easily turns confrontational and derails seductions
- 3. The “not interested”game makes it hard to move things forward
- 4. Fails to secure long-term devotion with emotional bond and connection
- 5. Makes for poorer, lose-lose relationships
- 6. Assholes get heartbroken (and can do little about it)
- 7. Assholes struggle with the highest quality women
- Research On Assholes’ Game
- High Power, Value-Adding Men At The Top
- Summary: Be High-Power, High-Warmth
There are three schools of thought when it comes to asshole’s effectiveness:
- Doesn’t work because women prefer good guys (belief often promoted by too nice guys)
- It works because women love assholes
- It’s better than too nice guys, but not as good as alpha male / high quality men
#3 is closer to the truth.
BUT… There are important exceptions.
So let’s dig deeper.
And let’s start defining “asshole”.
Definition of an asshole:
An asshole is an individual with the reputation and possibly the behavior for either taking advantage of others or disregarding others and/or offending their feelings
Reputation is crucial.
You only get labeled “asshole” when people feel like you or your actions are antisocial and/or offensive.
That’s an important difference between “asshole” and “value taker”.
You may not set out to offend or take value. And you may even add value or have people’s best interests in mind, and still be called asshole if you disregard or offend someone.
Some assholes may even enjoy, take pride, or encourage a reputation for brutal honesty that disregards other people’s feelings.
Instead, many Machiavellians and value-takers are more careful -even sneakier, in a way- and DO manage their reputation not to be thought of or labeled as “assholes”.
Asshole = High-Power / Low-Warmth
An asshole is inherently low-warmth.
And, to be a successful asshole, he must be high power -or, to be precise, high dominance-.
Otherwise, an asshole with low power is just a bigger loser.
See the “asshole matrix”:
Power Matters Most
The asshole who is high in power is (somewhat) successful.
That’s because power matters more than warmth when it comes to personal success.
Power is an ENABLER and PRECONDITION to turn warmth into success.
Warmth by itself leads to limited results.
So the asshole who’s high in power does get (some) results.
And that’s why the “too nice guys” sometimes look up at the assholes and think “wow, he has power, he gets results… Assholes win”.
Traits of An Asshole
“Assholes” are one or more of the following:
- Self-promotional / braggart
- Proud / conceited
- Sense of superiority towards people and institutions
- Power aware / Socially effective
- Disdain towards people and institutions
- “Facts don’t care about feelings” attitude
- Provocative, sometimes for the fun of it
- Brutally honest
- Sadistic, as in “enjoying to see others struggle or lose”
- Offensive / irritating
In dating the asshole has some of these traits:
Attitudes and mindsets:
- “I put myself first”
- I’m high power (and higher power than you)
- You want me (& I don’t want you)
- You need me (& I don’t need you)
- You mean little to me – and I show it
- Little or no investment in her (especially if he’s not sleeping with her)
- Sarcastic, biting, or demeaning humor
- Very critical with lots of punishment and little rewards
- Push-pull with the “pushes” stronger than the “pulls”
- Nasty social climbing
Advantages of Assholes
These asshole traits are attractive:
- Power: assholes’ focus on power and frame control makes them date high power, and women love that. Also, value-taking high-power often beats value-adding low-power
- High confidence is obviously attractive
- Pride has been shown to be attractive
- Uneediness sub-communicates value and options. Plus, people are hardwired to chase and value what’s scarce
- Ability to assert oneself: almost a precondition to personal success and power
- Polarizing and attractive to some: being a polarizer in a world where only the top 20% wins big is good. Among the sub-types the asshole attracts:
- Rebel types
- Fearful rebels who wish they had the courage to buck societal pressure
- Subset of younger women looking for transgression and that, often at the mercy of social pressure themselves, admire the guy who (seemingly) needs no social approval
Compared to nice guys:
- Putting oneself first beats putting oneself last: putting oneself first may not be attractive per se, but it’s often better than men who put themselves last
And in more fringe cases:
- Emotional-hooking potential: a subset of women are more hardwired than others to fall for high dominance (Norwood, 2014) while a few women are hardwired to fall for men who are more on the abusive end (Brown, 2008)
These are the limitations to the asshole game:
1. It’s not as universally effective
The first relates to general effectiveness.
The appeal of the asshole is quantitatively and qualitatively limited compared to the appeal of the high-quality, non-asshole man.
And since here we’re going for what’s most effective, that may already settle the argument.
2. It easily turns confrontational and derails seductions
Assholes’ seductions are very mercurial.
Their game is all about showing superiority, disdain and, at the extreme, even actively provoking and angering the target.
Those are win-lose interactions, and when you’re in win-lose interactions, your windows of opportunity get smaller.
Yes, she may be attracted, but since emotions are fleeting, once she cools off, she moves on for good.
I was a bit of an asshole with that girl.
She was horny, but her anger got bigger than her horniness and she left.
I successfully surfaced her horniness in texting, a good move.
But it’s still a low-odds interaction.
Once you’re in a major asshole frame, you can’t invite her “nicely” or her attraction comes crumbling down. You must invite her with something like “come and I’ll fuck you silly” or “come and I’ll make you shut up shoving this big cock in your mouth”.
That might work, but it’s still not effective dating.
PRO Tip: False rape allegation danger
You must also be careful of the after-sex when you’re dating like an asshole.
An angry woman might as well make up a rape allegation. It’s rare, but it’s not impossible.
3. The “not interested”game makes it hard to move things forward
The asshole never chases or professes his love.
If he does, the asshole mask slips and he comes across as a weak posturer.
And, with the mask, all the attraction he may have garnered disappears.
That’s a major disadvantage at two different levels:
- To seduce you need to lead and move things forwards
- To deepen relationships it’s often best to give at least some signals of liking, affection, and love
Forst the first point, see above.
Another example I have is a night out with an ex-girlfriend, a couple of her female friends, a few more guys.
One was your most stereotypical asshole, and extreme at it, including actively provoking women.
He got very deep under a girl’s skin with his provocations, but he couldn’t do anything with it.
The woman, even if she was hiding attraction, was more focused in showing publicly her deep dislike for him.
And him, prisoner of his own “I’m above you and you’re too stupid for me game”, couldn’t any take step that would move the seduction forward (ie.: talk to her, invite her to go get a drink for some 1:1 time, exchange contacts, invite her home, invite her for a date later etc.).
Result: he went home alone, and without anyone’s contact.
He also pissed off my girlfriend. And then he used the “poke” function on her on the social media that was popular at the time. My girlfriend was happy she poked him… Just so that she could ignore him.
For a dramatic example of the second, I will never forget the woman who told me “I really like you” on our third date.
And that night I was (shamefully) clinging to having sex without waiting, without compromises, and of course without telling her the same back.
Little later she walked out, both physically and figuratively. Forever.
That was one of the lowest points of my romantic life, at many levels.
For choosing a losing strategy, for dishonest betrayal of my real self, because I also really liked her, and in terms of what it means to be a man / human being.
4. Fails to secure long-term devotion with emotional bond and connection
The asshole approach makes it difficult to open up, bond, and connect.
And that makes it both less good for both, and less powerful for him.
Especially so in long-term relationships.
5. Makes for poorer, lose-lose relationships
Not an issue if one doesn’t want relationships.
But even FWBs are relationships, and assholes tend to have poorer relationships.
6. Assholes get heartbroken (and can do little about it)
Well, many assholes aren’t really 100% insensitive and emotionless.
Many are playing up their insensitivity.
And those who play the asshole get their hearts broken the most.
Assholes can’t be honest about anything emotional-related as that would sub-communicate they’re sensitive, emotionally invested, that they like her, and that they care -the ultimate taboo of assholes-.
A good example from “Reality Bites”:
Nice guy: (to her) let’s go, you don’t need this
Asshole: you don’t know what she needs (the asshole mask first cracks, he wants to do something good for her, but just can’t bring himself to)
Nice guy: I think I know what she needs in a way that you never will
Asshole: (looks at them leaving, pained and lost)
The asshole in that scene is trapped by his own asshole game.
Being honest or offering any form of commitment would sub-communicate caring, and his mask of “power without feelings” would crumble.
He can’t even compete with the “nice guy”, because competing would also sub-communicate “I care”.
All he can do is provoke her hoping she’ll choose him and love him.
The asshole often watches the woman struggle to move away from him, incapable of doing anything except making her feel even worse.
And albeit that sometimes works, it’s not very reliable.
The only hope is that the attraction -and the lack of high-power male alternatives- will be enough to keep her close, emotionally hooked, and sexually available.
In the “best” case for the asshole that turns out to be a rather toxic relationship.
In the best case for her, she breaks free and either ends it cold turkey, or moves to another option.
This is a movie scene, but it’s quite realistic.
It’s the same dynamics with the woman I described above.
She stood at the door and said “I need to protect myself”. She was strong and high-quality to choose the short-term pain for her long-term benefit.
And that’s another con for the asshole game:
7. Assholes struggle with the highest quality women
Relationships with assholes tend to be more confrontational, win-lose, and toxic.
And the highest quality women aren’t exactly lining up for that.
The highest value women have more leverage and power, so they can choose an equally confident and high-power man, who is not an asshole.
And albeit exceptions always apply, that’s what they prefer.
Also, as in the example above, higher quality and emotionally healthy women will take the short-term pain of ending a relationship with an asshole rather than the long-term toxicity of staying.
Research On Assholes’ Game
It’s difficult to run realistic research on this topic.
But the insights we can glean support this lesson’s claim.
The literature is mixed and there are some studies where “nice guys” win:
- In Urbaniak and Killman’s study, women picked a stereotypical “nice guy” over a stereotypical asshole both for themselves and for their friends (albeit a few picked a nice guy for other women and a bad boy for themselves)
- In a similar study women preferred men who exhibited altruism with keywords such as “I volunteer at a food bank” or “I enjoy helping people”
Here’s how researchers explained the divergence:
Assholes Win Against Pushovers
Social psychologist Viren Swami concludes his overview of the available research by saying:
If the “kind guy” is unconfident and looks like he lets everyone trample him, then the bad boy might be the preferred option.
So if we’re pitching pushovers against assholes, assholes win.
That makes sense.
The need for survival and surviving offspring beats the pleasure of being treated nicely by a lower-power man who can’t ensure the same.
In simpler words: in evolutionary terms surviving and thriving are a need, courtesy and white gloves are a nice to have.
Horgan reaches a similar, and even more enlightening conclusion:
To make sense of the divergent literature on the subject we need to understand that women desire men who exceed a certain minimum of bad boy qualities. This would allow us to argue that bad boy qualities are a requirement that must be met, and that nice guy attributes are attractive only once an individual has proven himself sufficiently “bad.”
Yep, exactly what we embrace on TPM.
Similar topic, also read:
High Power, Value-Adding Men At The Top
Assholes do well compared to doormats.
But everything being equal, a high-power non-asshole man beats the asshole (on average).
There might still be a fraction of the female population that prefers the asshole. But since dating is a number’s game, you’re better off aiming for pro-social high-power (and better outside of dating, too).
Example: Asshole VS Higher Quality Man
I’ll give you now two examples.
Similar situations, but one I handled with an asshole attitude, and the other one with more of a high-quality man approach.
The asshole turns the girl on but ruins relationships
Years ago I was an exchange student.
One night it was a bunch of us at one of our places, drinking and talking.
I was sprawled on top of a window’s sill, trying to look cool.
One guy was monopolizing the conversation, and not in a good way.
I felt everyone was getting bored, and that I was losing power by letting someone else lead, and making it worse for all.
Someone had to take the lead to change things.
But I wasn’t sure how to.
So I did the most asshole thing I could think of: finished my can of beer, crumpled it up, and emphatically threw it across the room.
The absurdity of the move plus the noise of the beer can bouncing across the floor took everyone by surprise.
And I played the ashole part, with an expression that sub-communicated “whatever, you’re tiring the sh*t out of me”.
Everyone stopped, for that matter. And he looked at me lost, not sure what to say.
And the girl I was kind of seeing back then couldn’t stop laughing.
It “worked”… kind of.
The high-quality man turns the woman on as a leader
Flash forward to many years later.
I was sitting in a group of people and a guy next to me was talking the ears off of a girl, not letting her get a single word in.
Another “too nice guy” sat there as a wallflower.
I knew that the group was being hijacked and needed rescuing, and someone had to take the lead.
Plus, I knew and liked the woman, so I felt it was on me to “do something”.
I turned around and with high-intensity poise said “mate, can I give you some unrequested advice please”.
I let a pregnant pause pass, then added emphatically: “let her talk”.
Even this time, the woman cracked up laughing.
Then I went on to discuss some basics of conversation, and made sure to power protect him saying that I teach this stuff, and that I used to be far worse than he was.
I gave some advice, let everyone talk, and then also changed the topic and stayed a bit more in the conversation to rebuild some goodwill and social capital.
This also worked.
You see the huge difference?
The higher quality approach worked at least as well with the woman (probably better), 10x better socially, and 1000x better with the recipient of my power move.
Instead of making my relationship worse, I improved my relationships with everyone.
While the former was just an antisocial asshole, the latter was a leader.
And while the asshole move could only work in specific settings and with a younger crowd, the high-quality approach can work anywhere.
Why Men Over-Estimate The Asshole Benefits
Many men overestimate the advantages of the asshole strategy.
This is because most men are unassertive. Some are doormats.
So they look at a higher power asshole and think “wow – that guy rocks”.
What they don’t see is the level yet above that.
Part of the misunderstanding also stems from gender differences. And what men respect is different than what women prefer.
Research by David Buss shows that women more than men rated prosocial dominant acts as more socially desirable.
Examples of prosocial dominance in the research included:
- “taking charge of things at the committee meeting,”
- “taking a stand on an important issue without waiting to find out what others thought,”
- “soliciting funds for an important cause,”
- “being active in many community and campus activities.”
This is plain and simple leadership, and with plenty of pro-social cues.
Read more on leadership:
In contrast, men more than women tended to rate egoistic achievements as more desirable, including “managing to get one’s own way,” “flattering to get one’s own way,” “complaining about having to do a favor for someone,” and “blaming others when things went wrong.”
So while men valued individualistic or “ass-holish” pursuits more, women valued pro-social leadership.
This is a recurring pitfall for men: they seek more of what they think is “more dominant” or, as they’d put it today, “more alpha”. And albeit that’s better than a pushover, it’s not what’s most effective.
Summary: Be High-Power, High-Warmth
Asshole beats pushover, but high-power and prosocial (or at least, non-asshole), beats the asshole.
So, you don’t need to turn into an asshole to succeed AS LONG AS YOU’RE HIGH-POWER.
We go back to one of the fundamentals of this website: to be good, you need to be bad.
So if you use this lesson as an excuse to be meek or submissive, you got it totally wrong.
You should be able to be an asshole, but decide to be better.
This is an excerpt from Seduction University, where you will learn how to become better and more successful than assholes.