I usually don’t write on the weekends, but this email from a regular reader made me change my mind – especially since it’s thematically relevant to my most recent post, as well as my new book that’s coming out in a few weeks:
All right, Evan, so I’ve been following your blog and advice for quite awhile now and I sure learned a lot from it. You are right on most things, but I must say I was right on this one: Men care more about women who don’t care for them.
Take my latest relationship, for instance, I started “duty dating” this man and eventually we went out for 8 months. For two months, I really wasn’t that into him, and for those two months he was very sweet to me, went out of his way to please me, compromised for the relationship and was very considerate of what was important to me. He told me he loved after 2 months (before I told him) and was already talking about a future together. In return, I gave him the least I could to keep him in the relationship. As our relationship evolved, I started falling in love with him, compromising, going out of my way to make him happy and even doing things that went against my beliefs.
Men care more about women who don’t care for them.
He, on the other hand, stopped putting any effort in the relationship. He would not only do the least possible to keep me around, but also started ignoring anything that was important to me. So while I’ve heard you say that “men like the woman who treat them nicely and makes things easier“, my experience has been completely the opposite. I usually don’t put any effort until I know where the relationship is going, yet most men I dated were really into me right from the beginning. The one time I become the “nice woman,” he feels he doesn’t have to do any work. Does it mean the saying “nice guys finish last” applies for girls as well?
Thanks for your help,
I love your thought-provoking email and take great pride that readers like you have the ability to find the tiny loopholes in my dating advice. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to close that loophole right now. Thanks for playing.
So here’s my take on why “men care more about women who don’t care about them” is about the worst relationship philosophy I’ve ever heard:
First of all, I don’t think that “nice guys finish last”. As I wrote in one of my first blog entries ever, nice guys finish FIRST, as long as they have the balls to make decisions. Nice guys who are only nice are boring, but the proverbial “nice guy with edge” is the holy grail for most women. I’d like to think you can be a nice, generous, thoughtful, devoted man without kissing your girlfriend’s ass and losing all semblance of self-respect.
At this point, I’d like you to pay attention to this important nuance, as you seem to be ignoring it when you make your declaration that “nice girls finish last”. The world is not that black and white. Alas, your previous relationship has led you to conclude otherwise. Here’s your supporting evidence:
You had a boyfriend for two months and were basically indifferent towards him and gave him the least you could. Finally, his kindness and consistency won you over, but he started to become complacent and selfish. Your conclusion: “this relationship was a lot better when I was being a selfish bitch. Maybe it’s a good idea to always be a selfish bitch!” End scene.
Your solution is to beat men at their own game? To be equally distant and indifferent, under the theory that he’ll try harder?
Can you see why this is an exhausting, and ultimately unsatisfying path to finding a long term relationship? Relationships are built on trust and comfort. Being seen by your partner as your best self. Being accepted by your partner as your worst self. It’s about letting go, and building something that’s greater than either of you.
Can you see why this is an exhausting, and ultimately unsatisfying path to finding a long term relationship?
Why am I sitting home writing on my blog on Saturday afternoon? Not because there aren’t hundreds of things I’d rather do. But because my wife is just out of surgery and wants me around. That’s why I’m here now. That’s why I didn’t go out on Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night or Friday night as well. Does she actually NEED me here? Not at all. But she wants me here, so I put her needs (my presence in the house) above my own (going out and having fun with my friends). I’m not claiming to be a martyr: this is exactly what she would do for me if the roles were reversed.
Imagine a world in which everyone arrived at your conclusion, Tamara. Would YOU want to have a relationship in that world? Where men give less, you give less, and it becomes a battle of indifference until neither party can take it any longer? Because that’s the slippery slope you’re proposing. Or maybe you’re just proposing that ONLY you give less, so that he constantly has to win you over but never gets the security of knowing that he’s “got” you. Either way, this doesn’t sound to me like the foundation of a successful relationship, does it? In fact, it sounds more like a grade school pissing match to see who can get away with more by caring less.
By now, you’re probably on board with the idea that being selfish isn’t a great strategy, but you’re still faced with your empirical evidence: your boyfriend was more devoted when you were ambivalent about him. Therefore, you think that, to keep him hooked, you should continue to act that way in perpetuity. Interesting philosophy.
Imagine a guy asked me for advice and said the same thing: nice guys finish last. Jerks do better with women. Should I start being a jerk?
By your standards, Tamara, the answer would have to be yes. After all, it would seem to be a good bet. Millions of women have signed up for relationships with such men, who keep up their indifference forever, never letting you feel safe, never letting you rest easy that he’s going to stick around. Do we really need more of this? I get hundreds of emails from women complaining about men like this and yet you want to FOSTER this same behavior in womankind?
You have to break the cycle of insanity, sweetheart. Otherwise it’s an eye-for-an-eye, where everyone is left blind. Or single.
Your logical mistake is in thinking that there’s a correlation between how nice you acted and how your boyfriend withdrew. Because if you were the perfect girlfriend, and he pulled away from you during this time, it just means that he’s NOT the man you want to marry. End of story. Good men respond to good treatment. And if he can’t take you being unconditionally good to him, I’d say that’s a fatal flaw in the relationship, wouldn’t you? Same way I’d tell any nice guy not to put up with bullshit with a woman who actually wants a bad boy. Let the bad boys and bad girls terrorize each other. I’m trying to foster good, healthy, nurturing relationships. That begins with being a giver, not a taker.
You can be smart. You can be strong. You can have your opinions. You just have to put your ego aside for the sake of a relationship that’s bigger than you.
Your belief in “Why Men Love Bitches” is a very simplified version of the world, but it’s not that much different from my Nice Guys With Balls theory. You can be smart. You can be strong. You can have your opinions. You just have to put your ego aside for the sake of a relationship that’s bigger than you. Since I know you, Tamara, I have a feeling that your boyfriend isn’t entirely at fault here and that you let your ego and worldview of how things are “supposed to be” get in the way of your relationship. You’re more interested in being “right” than you are in keeping the peace. But that’s another conversation for another day.
The real point is that if you’re going to be building a life together, the ONLY way to do it is through empathy, generosity, and selflessness. Your suggestion might lead to some smitten guy who chases you around like a puppy dog because he thinks you’re hot…it just doesn’t lead to equality or long-term peace. Take your ego out of it, start thinking long-term, and realize that the guy you want to keep will LOVE being treated well.
Thanks for your question. Your comments below are appreciated.