Two recent posts, one by Roissy and the other by RooshV, touch on the effectiveness of a guy behaving like an asshole toward his girlfriend, wife, or one-night-stand-to-be. Why is it that women of all stripes don't just tolerate, but often respond positively to jerk behavior?
Very few people are masochists -- think how quickly they would be weeded out of the genepool -- so we should look for a more rational explanation. To me, the situation seems similar to frat boys who put up with, and often look forward to the hazing process. Psychologists have speculated that frat members insist on hazing the inductees so that afterwards the newbies will think the frat is much better than it really is. *
We rationalize our choices after the fact in a way that makes us look good. We think something is better if we have had to sacrifice and endure more in order to get it because, otherwise, we would view ourselves as dupes. People likely think a nightclub is cooler if they're forced to wait outside for 30 to 60 minutes and get treated like scum by the doorman. I'll bet we think the same food tastes better when we're first treated like scum by a snobby maitre d' than when a peppy hostess welcomes us as her bestest new friends in, like, the whole world.
The new frat member may think the frat is cool, but is it cool enough to suffer the hazing process? If he admits the truth and says, "it's pretty nice, but I definitely got scammed," cognitive dissonance kicks in to salvage his self-image: "This place is so awesome, totally worth that silly hazing!"
Frat members can't go overboard during hazing, though -- and not just due to legal restrictions. Even if it were legal to really turn up the hazing, at some point the prospective members would say, "I'm not that stupid" (he's stupid, but only up to a point). They have to strike a balance between no hazing -- which would be a lost opportunity to exploit cognitive dissonance -- and overkill hazing -- which would prevent anyone from rushing at all.
Something similar could be going on when a desirable guy gives a girl the jerk treatment. Not just any guy can do so, just as frat inductees only accept hazing from frat members, not from any old group of strangers. That said, it forces her to inflate her rating of the guy, since otherwise she would think, "Wait, I just let myself get treated poorly to interact with a guy who's nice but by no means my dream guy -- I am a world-class sucker." Cognitive dissonance to the rescue! "He is acting a bit like a jerk, but he's so cool that I can overlook it." And again, the guy must strike the right balance of jerkness to get this result.
We are surrounded by examples of the grotesque, but when you scratch at it, human behavior appears more rational and less perverse than you first thought.
* There may also be a sunk-cost fallacy at work: "I've already invested so much during hazing, I can't eject now." In the case of the mistreated girl: "Well, I've already been insulted, so I might as well stick around and try to get something good out of the interaction to balance things out."