Dating coaches make the point that women may "like," or "appreciate" a nice man, but they aren't likely to be attracted to, or fall madly in love with such behavior (until fairly late in the relationship, e.g. steady dating or engagement).

One such person, Leil Lowndes in "Undercover Sex Signals," noted, "A woman subconsciously listens to her genes." That one quote opened up a whole new way of thinking to me.

For instance, a domineering, hard-as-nails man might not be pleasant to live with, but a woman might be attracted to him because he is signaling that he would be a good (protective and providing) father for her children. Likewise for the "bad boy," who is unconventional, independent, and seemingly courageous, even though he may be "independent" to the point of being unfaithful.

Is it true that at some level, women and men who are dating "rate" each other based on the other's presumed parenting ability (e.g. that men prefer good looks as a sign of good "motherhood")? And that members of the opposite sex that aren't perceived as good parenting material are often "friend-zoned" despite their other virtues?

Of course, dating coaches have their points of view, but they are "street smart." More to the point, they sometimes cited scientific studies to prove their cases. So what to the "scientists" have to say about this matter?

Edit: This question is not about "externals" preached by pick-up artists like Pellicer, using such techniques as body language, eye contact, or good conversation skills. This is about the theory of a woman (Lowndes) who hypothesizes that we are only one step (in evolutionary terms) away from "cavemen," and that therefore evidence of good cavemen traits (toughness and self sufficiency for men, physical appeal for women) still makes one attractive (at a visceral level) to members of the opposite sex. Even though other traits such as intelligence, humor, and empathy might be more relevant in the modern world, they might not do as good a job at sparking immediate attraction as the more primitive traits.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ This was one of the (many) questions covered in Has anyone formally tested Josh Pellicer's theory on human sexual behavior? - about dating coaches in general, that evidence does not support these conjectures. From the answer: "... many studies have demonstrated the importance of honesty, niceness, ... for establishing Comfort and Trust." $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 15:48
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It is really good question from viewpoint of evolution. There may be evolutionary significance. A man need not to 'bear' the child in womb but a woman have. Also the duty to fed the kid breast-milk is duty to her. At the same time more duty comes to the mother to protect the kid and teach some basic social structure. So, maybe evolution selected women tend to be more 'restrictive', cautious, dutiful and future-conscious. That sort of selective pressure is less on men. May be this caused more frequency of rape-activities, love-craziness etc in men than women. $\endgroup$
    – user13859
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ This caveman theory is BS. People lived in large groups rather than in couples with children. Yes, every group increases its cumulative fitness if it has protectors and nurturers. But there is space for further division of activities which cannot be grasped by a two-archetype model. But "physical appeal for women" is self-proving. It's a circular reasoning. It presupposes that some men are physically more attractive to women than others (i.e. these women given the knowledge only about these men looks will choose the one who is more attractive). Others are subjective. Every woman is different. $\endgroup$
    – rus9384
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 6:22

1 Answer 1


This isn’t a literature answer but a qualitative clarification. “Nice guy” is a conflation between two distinctly-separate behavioral patterns:

1) Passively begging for approval points via virtue-signalling in order to become her most favored suitor. This signals weakness, insecurity and/or cowardice because the male lacks thr courage to take action, risk rejection or be vulnerable by making his intentions clear.

2) Being kind, generous or gallant without expectation or necessity, as a king banking social capital and goodwill with his subjects as a demonstration of his abundant power and good character to lead and provide.

Clearly, these are two vastly-different approaches that should be considered entirely different strategies. One is genuine, while the other is wishful and deceptive.

Furthermore, considerations of how much sexual (genetic) vs. social/status (partner) value is demonstrated in order to elicit various respect and/or attraction responses. For example, males with mostly sexual value but little partner value will quickly gain mating opportunities, whereas low sexual value but high partner value males will be expected to invest much more time, money and energy before mating opportunities and be held to higher behavioral standards than the former group. Social value only demonstrated males without enough sexual or status value will be friend-zoned. Too high of status men also risk friend-zoning to protect her ego, ie auto-rejection. High sexual value men may also be initially pseudo-rejected, but it’s unlikely that a female would pass on an opportunity to gain superior biological father genes considering the time and energy commitment risks involved in child-rearing.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Psychology.SE @Barry. Do you have any references to go with your answer? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 10:06
  • $\begingroup$ A very good summary of existing literature. $\endgroup$
    – Tom Au
    Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris Reread the first five words. Thank you, come again! $\endgroup$
    – dhchdhd
    Commented May 19, 2018 at 10:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.