Nice Guys Finish First

man playing chess

Just got off the phone with a client and became inspired to write this piece.

My client is a nice guy. Mid 30’s, intelligent, successful, and serious about finding a relationship.

We’ve been working together for a few months and he’s been lamenting his lack of success.

I reiterate old themes, try to put things into a much-needed perspective.

I remind him that it’s a competitive space, that it’s a buyer’s market for women.

He tells me that he doesn’t want to have to lower his standards for online dating. The same women he can get in “real life” don’t respond to him online.

I remind him that at a party, she doesn’t have a hundred men lined up to talk to her. On, she does. The strength of online dating lies in its ability to give us access to total strangers; the downside is how difficult it is to keep their attention.

We go over an email that he wrote to a woman. She didn’t write back. He wonders if he did anything wrong. I assure him that he did not.

He muses that it must be nice to have hundreds of people writing to you. I let him know that it’s a burden for these women – and that lots of great guys get lost in the shuffle.

He reminds me that each letter he writes that goes unanswered is a blow to the ego. I told him it shouldn’t be. You can’t take online dating personally. Just like a baseball player fails 7 times out of 10, an online dater is going to get a lot more rejection than acceptance. Don’t let the process affect you; just be grateful for the potential that it presents.

Finally, we get to talking about the woman he’s writing to. They spoke on the phone last night for the first time. The conversation lasted for an hour and change. She asked for his number at the end. Mission accomplished. But my client wants more pointers.

“What do I do next?”

“Email her and tell her you had a lot of fun last night. Mention something specific from your conversation. Ask her a question or two. And find out the next time she’s available to talk on the phone.”

I’m a big believer in the phone.

“But what about creating mystery? I don’t want her to think I’m too interested.”

An old wives’ tale, I assure him. But he’s citing references:

“I read in David DeAngelo that nice guys finish last. And “The Rules” talks about waiting a week in between conversations to build up anticipation and establish that you’re busy.”

I’m paraphrasing, of course. But the gist of it is that all of the experts out there have people believing that the way to forge a happy relationship is by playing games.

I wrote about this extensively in a chapter from “Why You’re Still Single” creatively called “Don’t Play Games”, but to reiterate: NOTHING GOOD COMES OUT OF PLAYING GAMES.

Playing games attracts people who plays games. It repels people who don’t want to play games. And everything that you do that is in the least bit calculating is pushing you farther and father from what you claim to want – an authentic relationship where you can be loved and accepted for who you are.

Nice guys don’t finish last. Nice guys without any balls finish last….

Ask most women what they’re looking for and you’ll get some version of “a nice guy with a little bit of an edge”. They value his ability to be a man, take control, make decisions, speak his mind and march to the beat of his own drum. None of those things prevent a guy from being nice. They just mean that he’s not a desperate kiss-ass.

Nice guys often confuse these two things. Because they’ve tried to “nice” their way into women’s hearts and failed, they’re convinced that they have to start being jerks. Uh uh. Decent women have no tolerance for jerks. They just don’t want a guy who values himself so little that he has to try so very hard to impress.

The confidence that a man projects is the magnetism that draws women.
The kindess is what keeps women there.

Confidence without kindness describes “bad boys” that smart woman have long ago given up.
Kindness without confidence is the charge against the wishy-washy “nice guys”.

But if you put confidence and kindness together…well, I’d say you have a pretty irresistible combination of traits for a man.

So let’s sum up:

Confident men treat women well.
Confident men keep their plans after they make them.
Confident men can express vulnerability and caring without seeming weak.

This territory isn’t exclusive to nice guys who finish last. This is for guys who won’t bend over backwards to the point where they are spineless.

And in case you don’t believe me about the game playing, here’s the best example I can provide to make my case:

You know what a woman says when a guy she likes calls her the day after a date?

“He’s so sweeeeet!”

You know what a woman says when a guy she doesn’t like calls her the day after a date?

“He’s a creepy, needy, stalker.”

The phone call doesn’t change her opinion. She’s already made up her mind.

So if you’re a nice guy who went on a nice date with a nice girl, try being authentic and call her the next day.

It would be a nice change of pace.

Join our conversation (119 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Great points Evan.

    And love the quote:
    “Nice guys don’t finish last. Nice guys without any balls finish last.” That’s SO true.

    The myth that women are attracted to “bad boys” is due to the fact that “bad boys” tend to be (or at least appear to be) confident.

    And people notice women being with these confident men and thing it’s the part about treating women badly that attracts women. Not so (well, not in most cases anyway).

    People notice that stark contrast, but aren’t so quick to notice the confident nice guys. Women don’t like to be treated badly, and they’re not looking for a jerk to treat them badly.

    While I’m not criticizing the seduction community, it’s important to understand where they fit in. If you’re looking for one night stands, looking to pick up that hot girl just for tonight, looking to be a pickup artist – that stuff will do wonders. But you can’t beat that quiet inner confidence which doesn’t compare to the fake stuff.

    In the end, she’ll meet the real you. And starting off by playing games and pretending to be something you’re not will get you single over and over again.

    Have an awesome day!

  2. 2

    So well said!

  3. 3


  4. 4

    Agree w/Evan.

    Since Evan said my input was valuable (sigh!) I’ll try and reconstruct my thoughts of yesterday, when my old-fashioned Netscape 7 just wouldn’t cooperate with google blog land.

    I’ve dated the so-called, “bad boy,” and it is GREAT to be with someone who KNOWS WHAT THEY WANT and TAKES ACTION.

    I’ve thought about this “issue” lately, and decided there may be something rather primal going on. Women, being actually smaller, physically less strong, and perhaps more vulnerable when, “with child,” perhaps look for some show of action, confidence, bravado, in a mate. Protection is a resource. Not to mention the allure of true, active partnering.

    The behavior this “nice guy” is exhibiting…having to get an opinion before making each move…wowee. I have seen this before and what I have seen is this behavior attracting a very controlling mate, who WILL make all his decisions for him. Then he marries her, then she divorces him a short time later.

    It’s not really all that “nice” to put the burden of proof, or responsibility for your happiness, on the other person. If you like someone, move on it.

    Go for BOLD, with ethical behavior. Women are dying for this; for men who know what they want, and STEP UP! Even if you are rebuffed, you’ll know the truth, and can course-correct and carry on.

    Good luck! We’re waiting!

    1. 4.1

      I just think it’s a burden on men that they have to do everything.   Can’t a woman show initiative and put some kind of effort towards finding a nice man?


      And to all the men reading, just think about the “nice guy” situation in reverse.   Aren’t women who are indecisive and needy, aren’t they annoying?   It’s the same for men.   NO BODY wants to have to baby some body else.   So it must be a pain for men to have to walk women through every step.

  5. 5


    You are so right on about this. I can feel the fear and insecurity radiating from this man – who keeps putting up excuses and is avoiding just taking a step.

    That alone can turn a woman off. Some swagger, some honesty, some caring, and some basic grooming….the recipe isn’t really so complex. Everyone is looking for a formula and step by step guides-

    Some daring and responsibility? Some raders may be amused by my commentary: Why Women Don’t Want Nice Men- meant to be “When Nice is not so Nice”

  6. 6

    Great advice and so true! I’d like to add that what attracts me to a guy is somone who knows what he wants and goes after it when pursuing a relationship. If he’s into you he shows it – this doesn’t mean incessant stalking or pursuing after you’ve said ‘no’, this means making the effort to want to get to know you if there’s a click. Too many guys out there don’t make the effort because they’re afraid of failure, and many women view this as a turn-off.

    Evan, just wondering, if your client had a connection with someone online, why did you advise him to continue emailing/calling instead of just setting up a date? Because that’s the only way to know if you click, otherwise you just set up your expectations. If I meet someone online, we have a nice chat and he doesn’t suggest meeting I assume he’s either not interested, not really single or just playing games. This is because – in my experience – if the guy is really serious about wanting to be in a relationship he’ll make the effort, even if we meet online.

  7. 7

    All of Evan’s reply iare so humorous I am beginning to prefer reading them to dating!

  8. 8

    All of Evan’s reply are so humorous I am beginning to prefer reading them to dating!

  9. 9

    Nice guys are commonly mislabeled. What is often labeled as a nice-guy is really someone who is just insecure and needy, a completely different type of man. Just like there is a difference between a “bad boy” -who likes to date and is upfront about it, and a “player” that misleads to score with as many women as possible. A nice guy is the one that calls when he says he will but doesn’t call you ten times a day. The needy guy is the one that will call you ten times a day and apologize profusely for missing your call or not responding immediately to your text.

    1. 9.1

      OMG right.    I have dated the needy guy.       You are spot on.    That’s what we don’t want.   But that is not a nice guy.

    2. 9.2

      Women always  twist their bad behavior into mistakes on men’s part. The reality is that confident, kind men get shot down all the time, with women absurdly managing to conclude that they are needy wimps AND arrogant jerks at the same time!

      Sometimes you just suck at evaluation, ladies.


      1. 9.2.1
        same song

        the reality is good women get dumped after sex all the time. the reality is that women are judged unfairly all the time, unless you are here to tell me you routinely give the plain pudgy girl or the 38 yo divorced mom a chance. the reality is many men are incapable of honest assessment of themselves and would rather blame women than put forth effort on their part. for all the time you spend sending messages and setting up dates, she’s spending time weeding through boring, annoying, and downright abusive  messages.   for all  the money you spend on dates she’s spending money on looking good for you (you have no idea how much maintenance it takes even for attractive women!)  shes not obligated to respond to you any more than you’re obligated to keep seeing her once she decides to sleep with you.

        1. Sarah

          I think it’s important that you pointed out the gender differences.   There are faults to both genders.

      2. 9.2.2
        Juanita Foreman

        You’ve met some pretty awful women then,please don’t tar us all with the same brush.

        1. Mickey

          But it’s perfectly all right for women to scream from the rooftops how terrible men are, isn’t it?

  10. 10

    See Why Women Don’t want ‘Nice’ Men:

  11. 11

    For the women criticizing Evan’s client: he is not calling her and deferring to her opinion on everything or, from what I could tell, appearing needy to her. He is consulting with Evan because he wants to do what it takes to land a relationship. This is invivsible to the girl in question. He appears needy to you because you are reading his dialogue with Evan. In fact, he says that he was considering waiting a little longer before calling so as NOT to appear needy. Now, I’m not going to tell you that you all (or most of you) want to date jerks but it’s apparent that a lot of women want to date men who couldn’t care less. They’ll then complain about this too.

  12. 12

    Continuing to call/email but not setting up a date comes across as stringing someone along rather than not trying to appear needy. If a guy did that to me I’d think a big “wtf” and move on.

    1. 12.1
      same song

      it comes across to me as he wants to get in my pants with little effort and expenditure as possible. a mulitple exchanges without asking for a date alnost always ends with “why don’t you come over to my place and watch a movie?” he wants to get to c without having to go through a or b

  13. 13

    …the fact is,,,…women have been known to stay, with bad boys, a long, long time, before they come to their senses……by then mostly, they are in their 40’s…….

  14. 14

    The question that arises is WHY do so many women (and maybe men) stay with the ‘wrong’ person to begin with?

    Bad- meaning care-less? inattentive? criminal? Maybe women also have a ‘fix it’ complex. We think we are supposed to be able to love ‘uber ales’ and make it all good as a mother ‘should’. We confusing mothering and loving unconditionally with choosing and partnering to have our needs met too.

    Society supports it- as do media and films. (Look at all those enticing bad boys that soften and come around in the end long as the woman is beautiful enough, supportive enough, available, wating)

    None are perfect- so how much imperfection does one stick with?

    Many of these questions get answered differently after 40 when priorities, energy, and bodies change.

  15. 15

    young men(mostly nice guys) have been known to gather around, the mens county jail(bad boys), during visting hours, just to get a glimpse of the visitors who are mostly, hot babes/hunkettes…..yes,,,,

  16. 16

    to allison,

    why do people stay with the wrong person? ‘Cause they get bonded. Did you ever hear of the expression, “Having sex between two people, is like applying super glue at the short hair site?”

  17. 17
    That Single Guy

    All women say they want a nice guy. BUT, what they say and what they actually go after are two different things. Notice all the girls who date complete assholes. I’m not saying be a nice guy isn’t worthwhile, but to be honest, very few girls want just truly nice guys.

    1. 17.1

      I was a woman who was made uncomfortable when a guy was “too” into me. I used words like “clingy” or “needy” when in retrospect, someone was just probably being nice. I felt more comfortable when a guy liked me but didn’t pursue me too much. But the same thing kept happening, this tepid guy, after three weeks or months, wasn’t that into me! and by the time I was really into him….I didn’t like him because he was a jerk (and not sure he was) but I was made too uncomfortable by someone liking me too much. Finallly at 39, I made a vow to myself to just allow men to be nice to me even if it made me uncomfortable, because after 3-4 months that was the guy that was going to stay. I’m happily married now to a nice guy with balls, but i hear my girllfriends all the timme say, “eew, he called the next day!” or “eww, he told me I was pretty.” Women need to be more open to men being nice to them for them to find nice guys..

      1. 17.1.1

        One of the things I found refreshing about my girlfriend is that she never played games when we met.   Indeed, I was trying to follow all the “rules” and she told me in no uncertain terms to cut the BS and if I like her to show it and if not to move on.   I knew this was a keeper.   She wanted to get past all the “show” to the real me.  

        1. Stacey

          Keith @ 17.1.1

          What if you are newly dating a man and you tell him exactly that, if you’re into me, show it, if you’re not please don’t waste my time and then he doesn’t end up showing it? I had to recently tell a guy I’ve been dating that I need affection, i need him to show me he is into me – we went out to a fair and it was like I was there with a friend. In my eyes, no intimacy means we are not dating. When asked point blank if he is even into me he was quick to answer in the affirmative, but…..why won’t he show it? I have lost a lot of the excitement I felt leading up to our first few dates and these last 4 or so have been pretty lackluster. After telling him what I needed in re affection he said he’d give it some serious thought, but honestly, it all just feels very lackluster. I guess I’m answering my own question which is to move on, but it’s still sad.

      2. 17.1.2

        Yes Amy. You make some great points.

        That has been my experience as well. That is why I and many other guys are not so nice anymore. In fact, there is a whole subject, pickup, that is devoted to helping nice guys stop being so nice and change into players so they can attract women. One problem I have is that deep down inside I am nice but I am steadily working on changing myself.

        Your statement, “my girlfriends all the time say, “eew, he called the next day!” or “eww, he told me I was pretty.” Women need to be more open to men being nice to them for them to find nice guys..” is 100% spot on. I once told a woman she looked attractive, and she actually got not only turned off but angry with me. I told another woman, who appeared to be attracted to me, that I considered her attractive and she immediately got a completely disgusted look on her face and lost all attraction.

        Ladies, guys are not so complicated. All we do is simply copy who you find attractive. You get it. If we aren’t successful with women, we look at who IS successful and copy them. We don’t listen to you. We look at who you are actually sleeping with and copy that behavior. That means that if you sleep with jerks and bad boys, what are you going to get? An army of guys who used to be nice who are now jerks, players and bad boys.

        1. twinkle

          Hi Adam. First, let me say I sympathise and understand what u’re saying–about how women didn’t respond well to your niceness in the past. It’s very ridiculous and also rude of those ladies to have gotten angry/disgusted when u called them attractive.

          That said, I honestly don’t think being a jerk is gonna get u the kind of girl u probably hope to end up with.

          I’ve been dating a terrific and attractive guy for a few months. He tells me I’m beautiful on every single date ever since the 2nd or 3rd date, often more than once per date. I am so not turned off by that!! Lol. I compliment him too, at least once every 1-2 dates. (I’m not in the habit of complimenting so much, I’ve been consciously putting in the effort to do it more–thanks to Evan’s advice). He seems to enjoy it too. 🙂 It’s a mutual admiration society.

          We both agree that these have been some of the most enjoyable dates of both of our lives. Unfortunately I may end it soon, because I’m seeing some incompatibilities–eg he’s a bit too ‘alpha’ for me, and he cares about style and designer brands while I’m very low-maintenance. But it is Not due to him being a nice guy!

          I feel maybe u told those ladies u found them attractive a bit too early, & came on too strong for them? (Still no excuse for their rudeness) Likely they weren’t compatible with u anyway. I agree nice guys may benefit from toning down their overt niceness and being a bit more ‘alpha’ & ballsy, but not to the point of being a jerk. That stops being cute once a guy has left high school. >.<

    2. 17.2

      Because they are the guys that pursue us.      At least offline.    As what I would consider a fairly attractive woman, those are the guys that approach me.   When I try to talk to or hit on nice guys, average guys, they get nervous and don’t pursue no girl wants that.       Even online, I have accepted and gone on dates with   what I thought were some really great nice average looking guys and I scared them to death just by being me because I learned that hot guys were jerks! the first and second dates were brutal.   Like pulling teeth, they were so nervous.   The ones that I did go further with I had to spend most of the time convincing I was into them and just them.            If you are a good looking female, for whatever reason a lot of nice guys cannot handle you.      Or they are way too into you.   Like I have never had such a beautiful woman before, and they put you up on a pedestal etc for your beauty and what not.      You think that is great right, but the problem is it’s a lot of pressure.    I want an equal, not a servant.    And someday I am going to fall off that pedestal.

  18. 18

    TSG, I think you’re right, but for those girls it’s a maturity thing. When they get to a point when they start realizing what makes for a good LTR partner, the assholes don’t stack up. especially when they start dating someone who actually treats them well.

    Women are attracted to ‘bad boys’ because of their confidence. I think it’s the same reason why nice guys date bitchy women. But at the end of the day it’s about confidence for both sexes. What attracts me about a guy is how well he treats me and how comfortable he is in his own skin, enough to pursue me and show his affection, not play games or act rude.

  19. 19

    to downtowngal,

    we are attracted to the bitchy girl, but, as soon as reality hits, we say, wait a minute….it is either that, or, we just plain get tired of the assertiveness, nagging, etc…

  20. 20

    Confidence is the key either way…..but it has to be balanced and not overbearing…..but lacking any at all just makes you part of the crowd..

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