Disclaimer: I wrote this in 1998. My views on the subject have changed (see my 2013 essay on the subject), but I am leaving this document in place for historical reasons (and because it has gained some appreciation).I am here to talk about a plague that has been ravaging the world since man first clubbed woman, who promptly fell for him (or maybe just fell). It is as insidious as it is diverse, and like alcoholism, cocaine habits, and Ronny Weiss, those with the problem are often the least likely to notice its existence. I speak of asshole addiction.
If you are perceptive, you have probably noticed symptoms of the dread disease. For those who care about the afflicted, one of the most frustrating to observe is chronic "I can't seem to find a nice guy" syndrome, bouts of which tend to occur in the presence of nice guys. An even more frightening symptom (and, regrettably, an all too common one) is the occurrence of the "All my friends warned me that he's a psychopathic stalker, but he'll treat me differently" mental spasms.
Nearly every woman is infected by asshole addiction. It is the source of The Game, a subject that continues to perplex and crush men of virtue. "Why," they cry, "must she play hard-to-get with someone for whom she has feelings?" There is something lacking in the simple answer that the object is to make him try harder, ensuring that he really wants her. It is this: Anyone who has any love for the woman in question will, out of that love, respect her expressed wishes, no matter how much it pains him. And while this seems to make the ubiquitous Game not only pointless but extremely stupid by eliminating those men who act with honor, consideration and caring, this is, in actuality, the point of The Game.
Asshole addiction is not a choice. I know very few women who consciously want to spend their lives seeking ill-treatment. It is not brought about by bad experiences. That's what learning from mistakes is for. The true culprit is: Evolution.
In Carl Sagan's Contact, it is pointed out that a thousand years of science have a hard time overcoming a million years of evolution. This applies here. Nice guys, in modern times, are good to pair with. They provide love and emotional support, and will do nearly anything to make their loved ones happy. Wife-beaters suck. There should be no contest. But think back to the eras when neighbors Ugh and Urrgh proved their dominance by beating each other senseless. The genes of the meanest, roughest assholes were the ones most likely to survive, and natural selection eventually eliminated the DNA of all females except for those who were inclined to mate with the meanest, roughest assholes. The amount of time for which humankind has been civilized enough to make the security and happiness of being with nice guys worthwhile is but an eyeblink compared to the hundreds of millions of years over which we learned that you will have more territory if you barbarically pound people into the ground (now called "Football").
The one saving grace in the Asshole Addiction plight is that nature is not perfect. There still exist genes, found in 0.001%1 of women, that grant them at least partial immunity to this sickness. Sadly, the denial inherent in the addiction makes these exceptions difficult to distinguish from those who merely claim to be such exceptions. Remember that actions speak more loudly than words.
1. This figure is an exaggeration. It has also been pointed out to me that this rule applies far more to heterosexual women than to bisexual and homosexual women. This makes perfect sense. Evolutionarily speaking, homosexuality (and presumably, to a lesser extent, bisexuality) is a form of population control. When a species gets overpopulated, the percentage of homosexuals of the species born increases dramatically. As nature has specifically not burdened these individuals with the task of spreading their genes, they are not subject to natural selection regarding attraction. (Also, the relatively subtle inherited property of asshole addiction most likely gets scrambled beyond recognition amid such a huge change as a shift of sexual orientation.)