Do Nice Women Finish Last? Absolutely Not!

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,


Dear Tamara,

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.


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  1. 61

    I think this happens with men who have emotional availability issues because I’ve experienced it myself. It’s usually with self-proclaimed nice guys, who I had no real interest in at first, but when I begin to reciprocate (in ways that a man genuinely interested would appreciate, not acting overly eager, etc. ), they go cold. Then they go after these women who disrespect them, manipulate by crying crocodile tears, complain a lot and walk all over them. The women they like fulfill their negative beliefs about themselves and they’re so addicted to the “chase” that they never allow the intimacy to take place.

  2. 62

    I would like to thank everyone of you ! As I read through the comments here, I have a greater understanding of what I have been going through. I am 52 yrs old and I have to tell you , Its rough out here. I was just dumped by yet another woman I dated for six months, who I thought was the one. We met on a dating site, hit it off right away, had many things in common. So much so that it felt I was looking in a mirror, ( only a female version ). After about 2 months we both said I love you. Now mind you, we had our own lives and never spent every waking hour together, which was fine. I am and always will be a gentleman, I opened doors, brought flowers for no reason, etc……. after about the 4th month, suddenly things started happening that made no sense to me, she no longer wanted doors opened, and expressed this, questioned why I brought flowers over , started fights over very minor things, started fights over what she said she knew what I was thinking instead of hearing what I actually said. Told me I wouldnt let her talk , when I responded to something she said , and so on. She broke up with me soon after that by text. After 2 weeks I contacted her , she said she was glad I did, we talked and got back together, only to have the same thing happen a week later this time breakup was by e-mail. Now I am a nice guy, and I also am the type that can take charge when needed. So I consider myself far from a wuss. Now not every moment in a relationship can be spontanious, or exciting, we will have down times. I get all of that. But putting it out to the women out here, and Evan thank you for this forum. What do you see as the problem ,  I dont see as nice guy’s and women us finishing last, but for gods sake when is it our start? 

  3. 63

    I had this experience with my most recent boyfriend. When I was unsure about him, he was constantly pouring over me (almost too much) and once I began to fall in love with him, he pulled away. I don’t believe, however, that all men are like that. When I think back on the relationship, there are so many reasons why it was wrong and that was one of them. I have never been one for playing games, because it seems exhausting if that is the only way the relationship will work. I strongly believe that the right man will come along who appreciates me for who I am and does not want to play the dating games.

    1. 63.1

      I know how you feel right now, and believe me I can understand that it is confusing. I don’t understand why games have to be played either. It would be a better world if people could learn how to just be honest and straight forward, and show the other person a little respect. 

  4. 64

    I have the same situation with tamara at the moment. Im searching thru google, asking advices to my friends of how can we still survive this relationship since my boyfriend became complacent while I always want him at my side. The last time he’s actually breaking up with me I’m just begging him to stay. I didn’t know if its real or he’s just missing up with me. What I did was fight for our relationship. Better try than regret. But til when? 

    I always wonder why some partners become complacent..
    because I can’t afford to be one. 

  5. 65

    It still does not explain my dating experience still. I was asked out by a guy and that ‘relationship’ if We could call it so lasted for 7 months. It was my first dating experience, and I was not the one who jumped the wagon. He asked me, I said yes since…well he was a good friend. 

    I put in my effort. We talked the normal way, though there were a little more corny statements coming from his side. But we did not meet during those 7 months for more than 3 times. At all. He would cancel our dates for something or the other. The dating business was a secret, so our common friends did not know how to censure his activities, and after it ended I came to know whatever projects he was supposed to be working on were not even there. He lied, broke up and then begged me to take me back for more times I can count (which was emotionally exhausting) and always cancelled our meets.

    Now why do I say this here, since he is obviously an ass? Because he was supposedly one of the ‘Nice guys’. He is the kind who you can text each night and talk your heart out and all that niceness that comes along with being branded that particular term. If I told the extent of his asshole syndrome to anyone, no one will believe me. 

    Now I do not understand where I went wrong. I didn’t clock in every hour to ask him what he ate, drank, where he went. I did not start talking of marriage and shit. I tried pretty miserably, as I said, this was the first time I had entered the dating scene, gimme a break I had no idea, and he knew this. It was not me who caused the break, it was not me which caused the entire relationship to be a sham. 

    I know it takes two to clap. I know being an asshole is not the way to keep a guy hooked, but being nice has never seemed to help me, and when, after 20 years of my life it seemed it might have, I land myself in a soup. Does this not mean there is something wrong with being nice?

    Just so you know, my male friends all give me advice ranging from “Be a little slutty” to “Be a little docile”. If that is how it works, then I guess the hypocrisy about guys asking for “Nice, smart girls” should stop. Just saying. 

  6. 66
    Dina Strange

    I can relate. Been friends with a guy for 6 years, who i knew liked me as a girl. Finally, gave him a chance (because he was a nice guy, even though i wasn’t initially attracted to him), dated for 4 months. The minute i started having feelings for him, he breaks up with me.

    Do i feel bad? Not really, just confused, but it all comes down to one thing. He is simply not the right person for me. So, no bad feelings. But i do wish, men knew themselves better before they start dating a woman.

    I never say “I love you” before I am actually sure of it, but it seems a lot of guys use those words without even understanding what they mean.

  7. 67

    Thanks for running this article Evan ! I am so fed up with the other dating “gurus” feeding all of us (men and women) hard to get “rules”. Telling women to be snooty, indifferent, unavailable bitches and men to be arrogant a$$h0les.

    I am currently in an extremely new relationship, and my new sweetheart is neither a “bad boy” nor a “nice guy” but he so far is a GOOD MAN. And we both started off being excited and enthusiastic about each other, with no cat and mouse games. He even told me that one of the things he likes about me is that I was so affectionate right from the beginning.

    I didn’t chase him, nor did I play hard to get. He led, and I enthusiastically followed.

    We are still in that wonderful, giddy, limerence phase, (that I really didn’t think was possible at my age) and while I am very hopeful (he does ALL of the things on your “what a boyfriend should do list” and then some) who really knows what the long term future holds, BUT, if we don’t work out, it certainly won’t be because we failed to play the game of “whoever cares the least wins”, and I don’t care what any divorced author of “The Rules” thinks about that !

  8. 68

    Yeah. Tanks Evan. I am all the way from Nigeria and your blogs are simply realisitic and educative. You bring in a whole lot of perspective and clarity. I will like to agree with Steve also, The problem is with who you date. Pronto!

  9. 69

    It seems like you’re just picking the wrong men…I only say this because i did the same thing…I went out with guys that were into me in the beginning then after about 2-3 months would disappear, and i thought it was because i suddenly was into them.
    But the truth was more complicated. I was picking guys who wouldn’t be TOO into me, TOO crazy about me, so after the two three month mark, when i decided i was into them, they still acted the same – or maybe were turned off by my sudden interest.
    After the same thing kept happening to me — why was a guy i moved cross country for now blowing me off?? i had to admit it was me, not them. (Them, but me picking them)..
    I started to wonder what a guy who would be into me would look like. and he looked very different from the guys i was dating. i actually had rejected those type of guys.
    so the next timme i met a guy who scared me, who was “too intense” and “too into me” I gave him a chancce, and after three months he didn’t run away (in fact he married me).

  10. 70

    I think one of the important things to remember about the nice guy/nice girl finishing last idea, and equally (since it is related) the idea of “treating them mean to keep them keen” is this:

    When you are falling for someone, you are vulnerable. You don’t see so clearly when someone is doing something unkind, or is not being as caring as they perhaps should. This vulnerability can be bettered through experience and training some self-awareness, but at the end of the day, falling is falling. Entering into a relationship, after the dating phase has established the beginnings of serious feelings, is a really hard thing to do – it requires a certain amount of bravery in the face of risk. The risk that the person you are falling or have fallen for will let you down and not be right, compatible or ready to power-up to the responsibility of being important in someone else’s life.

    The key is to be able to move on and let go, and not look for patterns or faults in yourself. It is easy to say – I am too kind or open or caring and get easily abused, but this is just a soothing balm – it is a pretense to take control of a situation you can’t. It offers the feeling that if you are stricter, more closed next time, you won’t get hurt, which isn’t true. Freezing someone out constantly while they are attempting to date you will just end in a dead end. And it also triggers those feelings which are all too attractive for the the mind to settle in: self-pity, victimhood, and self-blame. It is, in a way, a fast track to depressive, self-sabotage behaviour.

    I have just finished with a guy who couldn’t stop the treating me mean keeping me keen thing through his self-confessed insecurities. Unfortunately, while we talked about them, he couldn’t get over them enough to stop doing things which made me feel unhappy. So despite the fact that he is a very brilliant person, I had to let him go. For a while I reflected upon the times when I showed care and love, and compared them to the opportunities he had to do so. It made me feel like I had been too giving, and that next time, I will be more cautious. But that is exactly what destroyed our brief relationship. He was so cautious, he killed the beginnings of something delicate and good. This is life, and I am moving on. It might be a while before I have the energy and emotional strength to date again, but when I do, I am promising myself now, I am not playing No-More-Ms-Nice-Girl – that way, the possibility of love is jeopardised from the start.

    You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince/princess, and to find a good person, you have to be brave – nothing worth doing was ever easy.

    1. 70.1

      That’s beautiful, and so on the money. I have similar feelings. I don’t feel that being mean really helps at all. It is an illusion that ends in misery.

  11. 71

    Well…the problem is… it doesn’t matter how nice or bad you are, at least in the first stages of dating. You can be the nicest person in the world, but if the opposite sex doesn’t consider you sexy enough… you are out.

  12. 72

    Nice women do finish last since they go for bad boys.

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