Nice Guys Finish First


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 (116 Comments).
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  1. 41

    The last two posts couldn’t have said it better. A happy medium.

  2. 42
    match sites

    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.

  3. 43

    Match, what part of “nice but confident” did you not get?

  4. 44

    I find this hard to believe, Reality is very different, I have to believe my own eyes and ears. The jerks have women lined up to see them, then complain about how they are treated by the same jerks. Of course they get right back in line for more of the same. The next woman that I date will not see quiet the nice guy I have been up to now. I agree with match sites, women talk “nice guy”, but when it comes to do…total differently story.

    1. 44.1
      Karl R

      You’re right … up to a point.

      Women say they want a “nice guy”. Women actually go for a “confident guy”. The two are not mutually exclusive.

      If you’re a confident, nice guy, women will be interested in you. If you’re a confident jerk, women will be interested in you.

      If you lack self-confidence, you’re out of luck. Becoming a jerk won’t help you. Learning to project confidence might.

      And the quality women tend to ditch the jerks as soon as they recognize what they actually are.

      1. 44.1.1

        Agree Karl R!   Confidence, confidence, confidence!   Insecurity is NOT attractive.

  5. 45

    Wow, it’s good to know that ALL women are being lumped into the same “doesn’t want a nice guy” catergory. If that’s the maturity level with which you view the world, then perhaps that’s why you’re not attracting the right women.

    1. 45.1

      I have to believe what I actually witness, the empirical evidence. I mean after years of trying the “nice guy” approach, I have finally “seen the light”

      1. 45.1.1
        Karl R

        Mark said:
        “I have to believe what I actually witness, the empirical evidence. I mean after years of trying the ‘nice guy’ approach, I have finally ‘seen the light’ “

        Your experiences aren’t empirical evidence. They’re anecdotal evidence.

        Would you care to clarify what proactive steps you take to let a woman know that you’re attracted to her … and find out if she’s attracted to you?

        When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I felt the same way you did. As I’ve gotten older (and more knowledgeable), I’ve realized that I was too cautious when pursuing relationships. That caution wasn’t a product of being “nice” (though I rationalized it that way). It was caused by my fear of getting hurt.

        A lot of nice guys wait until they become friends with a woman before asking her out. Is there anything inherently “not nice” about asking a woman out when you barely know her? It’s a lot more effective than waiting.

        If you’re doing nice things for a woman (buying her flowers, helping her move) with the ulterior motive of getting her to like you, does that make you a “nice guy”? I would say a nicer guy would be the one who helps people without the ulterior motive.

        And finally, you said, “after years of trying the ‘nice guy’ approach, I have finally ‘seen the light’ “

        If being “nice” was just an “approach” that you tried and are subsequently abandoning, then I have to wonder if you’re actually a nice guy, or if it was just an act you were putting on in order to attract women.

        1. JoeK

          Hey Karl, ya know I love ya and all, but I’m gonna be a little nitpicky.

          Technically speaking, Mark’s evidence *is* empirical-According to”derived from or guided by experience or experiment. ”

          Yes, it may also be anecdotal, but it’s certainly empirical as it’s from his “years of observation”.

          Actually, I’d say his data is accurate – the women he’s observed often attracted to the “bad boys”, and often repeat the mistake of dating them. I think we’d all agree this happens. However, it’s his *conclusion* we disagree with.

          He concludes women do this because they actually *want* bad boys, while we (you, me, star, evan) argue that women want “nice guys” but end up dating “Bad Boys” because it’s hard to know in advance if the man is a bad boy or a nice guy who also has confidence.

  6. 46

    I am a nice guy and no I don’t buy gifts etc. to try get woman to like me. Just don’t see the appreciation.
    I think I’m done with the whole process.

  7. 47

         Mark, you and I are in the same boat. I do not believe that I was afraid of
    rejection ( it happened a lot!) , but I finally   ” saw the   light” and figured out
    that I was one of the guys who women did not want. Understand it, live it
    and leave this game to guys who really “enjoy” it.
         My time became more important to me and so did I. I am appreciated
    in other ways and God gave me a GREAT enjoyable life. I hope that you,
    too, can find comfort, because I just gave up.  

    1. 47.1

      Oh  Dave don’t give up!   My husband and I almost did before we met each other online.    We were both very awkward from difficult childhoods.   We both help each other heal and gain confidence.   Been married 10 years and both of us are so thankful for each other.   Try dating a variety of women.   Don’t just go for the hotties!   Best wishes.   

  8. 48

    I’ve thought a lot about this topic. I think in general women just need/want to be loved more than men even. Seek romantic love, not sex just more often than men. It’s a type of status thing I think. Watch the old film (musical)  “Oklahoma” sometime. Laurie spends all her time trying to snag the seemingly elusive, cool  Curley when all the time he is  HOT for her.

    It’s a game really. Dating is a game, much like life in general. Life is also a joke really when you get down to it. NOT real and a total illusion, but my Hindu influence is coming into play here, sorry. 🙂

    For a lot of women, if she snagged the “hard to get”, successful, handsome guy despite his initial indifference, unavailability, it’s a “score” somehow. As in “see my engagement ring”, the big wedding etc. A lot of emphasis is on snagging the best guy if possible.

    If a guy is too nice initially I don’t look down on him, but wonder about his confidence a little (else why is he trying sooooo hard?). But I agree with the poster that women hate men who act cool. A hell of a lot of men do in order not to be rejected I think. In the end I find women generally braver than men emotionally.

    Also, if you are a very smart, sophisticated woman, easily bored, maybe you like a challenge once in a while and it all boils down to what’s in my paragraph 1- the triumph of getting the guy emotionally. Men seem to want to get the woman first sexually and then later emotionally if he deems her “the one”. God help her if she doesn’t make the cut though. The guy will stick around for the sex, but will have written her off early on, unbeknowst to her!

    I read comments by guys like Mark and Dave and feel so sad. There are a lot of women too who have given up on men ’cause they don’t feel pretty enough, “in the game”. Recently a fortyish, single male friend turned me onto the website. It’s all about men today. There is a lot of discussion on this topic- fairly young guys just giving up on women ’cause they don’t feel good enough, are passed over too much.

    1. 48.1

      “In the end I find women generally braver than men emotionally.”

      Really? How many women face rejection constantly in the dating world?

      Men learn this early on if they want to get lucky – ya gotta get past rejection.

      I’m not saying “men are emotionally braver than women”, because that’s a nonsensical comparison. Just that even the most basic aspects of dating deny that men are “less emotionally brave”.

      Men and women live in very different worlds emotionally. Such comparisons aren’t exactly useful.

      1. 48.1.1

        Online dating is the worst place if you have low self esteem.   You have to be a strong person to do it.    There is rejection and judgement left and right on both sides, but it is more so for the men than the women I totally agree.

  9. 49

    @ Dave 49 & Mark 50:

    I agree completely!!! I’ve had similar experiences seeing women claim to want “nice” guys only to end up the the “players” of the world.

    Contrary to popular misconception, “nice” is not synonymous with “bland” or “gutless”. Whatever the true definition of nice might be, I’m sure it’s connected with a regular guy going things without any ulterior motive.

    I too gave up on the dating farce many years ago. I found it to be an exercise in futility to keep trying only to have ZERO success. I  quickly came to realize that if there’s no realistic chance at finding someone who likes you for you, it’s time to stop the bleeding and get out of Dodge.

    Like Dave, I’m fortunate and blessed to have a wonderful life without the  guranteed defeat that comes  from  trying to find a non-existent partner.

  10. 50


    Listen up – women do want nice guys,as long as they come in the right package.
    Yes, they are incredibly shallow. Men are attracted to beautiful women, but at least they exist. Women will hold out for Prince Charming who, last I heard, was a character in a fairy story !  

    Women say “just be yourself !” What they mean by that is be yourself, as long as you are Prince Charming.

    So all you have to do is BE Prince Charming, or at least a decent  facsimile.

    What are the characteristics of this character :
    Charming – goes without saying
    High Status
    Self Assured
    Colourful/ Interesting

    My view is that the first and last on the list are the most significant.
    Unfortunately you have to sell sell sell. Women interpret humility as weakness.
    Take up hobbies and pursuits that will make you more interesting.
    Put photos of yourself engaging in these on facebook
    Smile, even when depressed
    Wear expensive clothes – they will notice
    Be the centre of attention
    Flirt unashamedly.

    You may not be tall or handsome, but women will ignore this if you have enough of the above qualities.  
    I am appalled that women respond to such  blatant hard sell tactics, but it is what it is.

    Are women attracted to bad boys ? Jesus was surrounded by women wherever he went. Why do you think that is?

  11. 51


    Unfortunately, it’s a zero sum game.

    Like in pro sports, for every team that wins the championship, there’s another team that finishes dead last.  If you’re on a team that finishes last every year, the collateral damage that comes from perpetual losing adds up over time and takes its toll.    

    Consequently, the only choices one has are to either continue with the losing or retire from the game.

    So, when you try to “sell sell sell”  only to have no buyers, what’s left? One can only take so much failure/losing.

    At this point in my life, I just don’t believe. Sorry.           

  12. 52


    “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”
    A quote by the famous  philosopher  Friedrich Nietzsche, which I think shows just how stupid philosophers can be.

    The truth is that humans are damaged by trauma, and the damage is cumulative  with  each new episode. So much you know.
    Your ego is crushed and you do not believe that you have what it takes to win and worse, that it is impossible to win.
    That belief is obviously in error though, as simply by shear luck you have a chance. Is there any way you can help luck ?

    You suggest you have two choices. Keep losing or give up.
    Sorry, but what about the third – start winning ?
    What you were doing didnt work – so start thinking of something that might.

    Lets use your analogy of the pro team. They could keep on losing, or they could change their strategy, or buy better players.
    Yes, there may be a cost. Winning doesnt come cheap.

    Lets not make it personal. What about women who complain they are too ugly to find love ?
    Sad, but that is true for many. They have no chance do they ?
    Plastic Surgery – My God, have you seen what these guys can do ?
    Yeah but you don’t see sex goddesses like Megan Fox or Marilyn Monroe having to resort to things like that ! Oh actually …….   

    So bottom line. Your belief is wrong.


  13. 53

    @micky I’m a huge sports fan.   My NFL team was amazing during my childhood.   I grew up with high hopes.   During most of my entire adult life they have been horrible, if not dead last.   I still showed up to games year after year.   Now they are having a complete turn around and I’m on cloud nine.   That’s one of the reasons I love sports and sometimes equate it with my love life.   One year you are a joke and the next you are the underdog hero.   I still think even with the bad luck I’ve had in love that I’ll be on top soon enough.   I keep trying to be great and adjusting my expectations of people.   I’m a woman by the way and don’t hate men.

  14. 54


    ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger’
    “A quote by the famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, which I think shows just how stupid philosophers can be.”

    That’s why I  was never  a philosophy major. LOL

    “What you were doing didnt work —  ”

    You’re right. Being friendly, respectful, having confidence…tactical disasters all.      
    So bottom line. Your belief is wrong.”

    If I was the  only guy who felt this way, you might be right. But as many other guys have expressed the  same frustration, are they wrong, too?  I doubt it.

  15. 55


    “What you were doing didnt work — ”

    You’re right.  What I’ll do instead is  1) get fired from my job; 2)  start a drinking habit; and 3) join a motorcycle gang.  

    After that, I’ll just sit back and (quoting Robin and the Seven Hoods) “watch  those dolls lining up single file.”

    HELL YEAH!!!

  16. 56
    Blonde outside, beautiful inside!

    Hunter! You are so right!!!!! i would like to real-literate our point and also give the people on here some reassurance!  The only thing stopping this guy is confidence! on two rare occasions I have had nice guys approach me on and they are the ones that managed to get dates all the rest of the 80 messages a week I get are from creeps and perverts and believe me they get deleted immediately!   I have a good friend who is doing a socio-Pyschological experiment of sorts he was hurt in his last relationship and thinks now he has a year abroad he can trial being a player see how things go! Sadly what he doesn’t realise is that it’s he new found confidence that is getting him the attention not the sleazy comments! I find him most attractive when he is the real thing and he doesn’t realise that if he goes down this path he will just end up with insecure women who are trying to manipulate the situation for validation! How can we get your word out to more people? Many thanks Faye, Msc Pyschology, Durham, England x

  17. 57

    Once your confidence is shot, there are absolutely  NO “rah-rah” speeches that can ever bring it back. Sorry.

  18. 58

    You mean it’s a “seller’s” market.

    A buyer’s market would mean it’s NOT competitive for men.

  19. 59

    PERFECTLY WRITTEN.   from a woman’s point of view.
    We like nice guys not assholes or jerks.   While we don’t want no desperate guys, we do want a quality man.   

  20. 60
    Christopher G

    “She has already made up her mind.”
    This is what makes interacting with most women, in any way shape or form futile and a bad idea.   Just stay away from bad people.

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