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 (118 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 61

    Spot on Evan.   I hate the dating advice that tells you to put down a woman in a “teasing”way or that you have to wait X days.   If you like the girl, tell her.   pull over on the side of the road and txt her.   Don’t be needy but be upfront and say “I had a great time and would like to see you again”… nothing needy there.       I find women prefer honesty over games any day.
    Oh, and don’t be a “nice” guy… be a “kind” guy.     Do things with no expectation of a return.     Trying to win her heart through nice acts never works.   Be kind and be confident… it makes for some lovely relationships 🙂

  2. 62

    So true. The man I was friends with was so nice and such a great guy. One day he decided he had to just let me know (the confidence piece) how he felt about me. It was so disarming to hear him say these wonderful things to me. He meant them, he took a chance, he wasn’t playing games. We have been together for ten months and there is no reason for games. I really appreciate the decisiveness he has, the gentleness that he has – what a great and kind man that most women would have slip away because he is so unassuming, kind and polite. But what a sexy man because of the confidence he has in who he is.

  3. 63

    Nice girl here.   This is a response to the guys who claim that jerks get all the girls or have girls lining up for them.

    What do you actually want?

    1) To have girls lining up for you? So you can date plenty of girls?
    2) To have an amazing relationship with one girl?
    3) To be seen as successful male (in front of other males)?

    If it’s (1) or (3) then don’t listen to any of the women commentators here who advise you to be a nice guy with confidence. That won’t work.   

    If it’s (2) then you may wish to reassess your point of view as it’s your point of view that is in the way of you meeting a nice girl to start a relationship with.   A nice girl wants a nice guy. (Whereas not so nice girls, drama girls, shallow girls, excitement-chasing girls want the ‘jerk’ or ‘slightly dangerous guy’ and then to want to change them into stable, reliable, husbands. Ermm,..Good luck, ladies!).     

    But for you nice guys out there who wants a good relationship, I am talking to you. For you to have a chance, you need to drop your bitter, resigned and cynical attitude (NO ONE likes that).   Sprinkle with some confidence (not necessary all the time but enough to ask her out, treat her well. Nice girls like to follow AND lead sometimes as well. That’s no problem for us.   

    If she is not responding 1) she is not in the right state of mind for a relationship with you due to various circumstances (e.g. recent breakup); 2) she is not attracted to you; 3) she’s not seeing your potential.

    If it’s 1) you can do nothing about that, move on;

    2) Flirt, flirt, flirt – be playful, tease her a little, respectfully – that’s the only way to build attraction.   Women are not fixated on looks but women respond very well to flirtatiousness.   It makes women feel wanted and attractive.    If she’s still not attracted. Move her to the Friend Zone and go find someone else;

    3)   Flirt, have conversations to share your values, ideals and ideas, sense of humor. Find opportunities for her to know you.

    *** Just because you find someone attractive/good romantic partner material, doesn’t mean they owe you anything.   (This goes both ways for men and women.)   She doesn’t owe you a date, doesn’t owe you a shot; doesn’t owe you a minute of her time.   Please don’t lose your kindness because you have not had a good response from girls in your past.   Your future partner is waiting for you to come and find her.   She is out there looking for you right now.   Don’t turn into a jerk that she won’t give the time of day (remember, she’s a nice girls so she doesn’t date cynical jerks.)

    Hugs from,
    Nice girl who found her nice guy (Dream man who is very beta, very nice and the best partner a girl can want)  

    1. 63.1

      Great gal:
      Let me ask this: do you think that most guys were born cynical? Or is it more likely that they’ve become sick and tired of women saying that they want a nice guy only to run off with:
      1) Thugs
      2) Drug Dealers
      3) Hell’s Angels Bikers
      4) Corporate Players
      5) Miscellaneous Felons
      Adding more injury to more insult, most of these same women then run around claiming that   men are no good, men are dogs, men are video game playing, beer swilling frat boys living in their parents’ basement,  and men bring nothing to the table in any relationship.
      Then, after they’ve had their fill of the “bad boys”by the time these same women decide they want someone who is decent, normal, & stable, those guys are long gone. I will be the first to admit, that my optimism got on the bus and left town decades ago. Yes, I am cynical and do not care.
      So, what chance does a normal, reasonably sane guy have???

      1. 63.1.1

        Don’t worry about the girls who run off with those people you claimed. Find nice girls who DON’T find those men exciting. (I.e. Most nice girls) .   The girls who complain and are cynical about men are this and that are cynical. Don’t date them either!!

        Not all women are like that!   (I am not! and I know I am not THAT special, I am one of many!)

        So you are   cynical. I get it. But you DO care, and that is why you are posting here.
        You do have tons of chances, tons of options. But only if you are not stopped by people who are wrong for you. Then you can have a chance of finding someone decent.  

        1. Mickey

          Great Gal:
          I happened to stumble upon a post on You Tube over the weekend that addresses this issue. If Evan doesn’t mind my posting the link, here it is:

          I think this video is a pile of steaming crap, but I would love seeing other people’s opinion of it.
          In the meantime, I’m still cynical and I still don’t care.

    2. 63.2

      In short women get both options: They can have their fun and find one guy to have meaningful LTR as well. But most men can only have one option, right?    

    3. 63.3

      GreatGal: I’m so happy you found your dream guy and you decided to go with a nice guy beta. You are certainly very unusual and my hat is off to you. I also appreciate your advice.

      Now having said all that, I have to disagree with your larger point. You are attracted to good guys, but your idea, that most women are like you is flawed. This is obvious when you look at the number of players, jerks, felons and other bad boys around with not only tons of female attention, but these guys have the pick of most women, even in relationships. If their bad boy behavior was unattractive, they wouldn’t get any women, but they essentially have their pick of women. On this point, I completely agree with Mickey.

      Nice guys are to women what obese women are to men. Men have nothing against being platonic friends with an obese woman. They don’t hate these women and if they have friends that are obese women they think these women are good people, they just feel absolutely no sexual attraction to them. There is certainly a subgroup of men that are attracted to obese women, but the vast majority of men aren’t. The way some women settle for nice guys is the same way some men settle for obese women after giving up home of getting someone they are actually attracted by. In the same way, women who really want bad boy alpha males, can end up settling for beta males. But what can happen is since they aren’t attracted to these men and don’t find them sexually attractive, the relationship is really doomed to fail before it really starts.

  4. 64

    “a nice guy with a little bit of an edge”
    Can someone describe/define what this “edge” is?  

    1. 64.1

      @ScottH64:   I think Evan defines  a nice man’s  edge as “…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.”
      I think on a primal level, women  want to feel safe with a guy.   That means he’s nice (bc a guy who’s unkind and disrespectful is inherently unsafe) but that he also has a backbone so that she knows if sh*t goes down, he’s capable of defending her (or ~ at the very least ~  of defending himself.   This can be shown in really small, symbolic ways.  
      Here’s an example:   More than a decade ago, I went on a date.    The guy had  made a reservation for 8 but by 8:30, our table still wasn’t ready.   He spoke with the restaurant hostess about it and  and  at 8:45 she  snippily showed us to a terrible table right beside the bathroom door.   He asked to speak with the manager, explained the situation  and a few minutes later we were taken to a lovely table and our desserts were “comped” at the end of the meal.   To me, this is an example of a nice guy with edge; when he sees something amiss, he does not sit back and take it in silence nor does he throw a fit.   Rather,  he remedies it in a calm and respectful manner (and, trust me;  the woman he’s with will be taking mental note).
      I would add to this that an edge is what stops a nice guy from being a pushover. Eg.   He’s polite but if someone is rude to him, he calls that person on it.  

  5. 65

    Scott H: In Evan’s ‘Why Men need to court women’ blogpost he states, “There is so little competition from men out there that it’s easy to stand out just by being a good guy who takes control, follows through, and does what he says.”

  6. 66

    Henriette and GreatGal-   thanks.   That makes sense. I always thought the edge meant that there was a little “bad boy” in him just to keep things interesting.   I thought women subconsciously (?) liked a little badness in a guy, just a little though, and by having a good guy with a little badness, they could have the security they wanted and also the variety to keep things from getting stale/boring. I guess I’ve always been self conscious about not having any badness to me and hence women eventually get bored. I’ve been told that I”m a good guy and sometimes that I’m a good guy but not the goody good guy, which i guess is good   When she said that, she also wondered why I wasn’t already taken since she thought I was a good catch.    One day….

    1. 66.1

      I’m marrying a certified nice guy. He adores me but he is no wimp, he made me understand how he felt from day one, he never hesitated and acted with confidence. That’s what he mean by edge. Little things like taking the initiative to kiss a woman rather than asking her, etc.

    2. 66.2
      Karmic Equation

      Maybe I can help shed some light on how NOT to be a nice guy WITHOUT an edge 🙂
      I’m on a pool team with a guy whom I figured out was somewhat interested in me. He asked me to join his team without really knowing me. We literally spoke about 20 words to each other before he asked me to join. He bought me drinks the first night we shot pool. We went to another bar to continue chatting after league night was over, just the two of us. He bought me a few more drinks. Then we kissed passionately good night before going home. Rinse and repeat for the following league night a week later.
      Then a couple of weeks of coolness (no prob) – we both have lives. Then another week where we chatted a bit and he bought me a drink. Then another week where we made out again. Then the next week there was a very pretty lady on another team at pool league that he was obviously smitten with and he hung around/hovered over/chatted with her all night. But she was probably used to that attention from other men not just him, so I’m pretty sure he didn’t make the cut in her book. She was gorgeous and a former teammate. Maybe they were catching up. Maybe there was history there, who knows. Then I was recently at a pool tourney where he also was. There was another pretty lady there. He hung around/hovered over her like he did the other girl. He was obviously interested in her BUT he didn’t have the balls to EITHER outright flirt with her and make other conversation NOR did he have enough “game” to walk away and hang/chat with his other friends ignoring her. He just “hovered near her” and I think it creeped her out. She didn’t look comfortable with his hovering. There was no friendly flirting that I could tell. Believe me, I was very curious.
      So after these two “hovering-over-but-not-really-chasing pretty ladies” incidents and not getting either gal, he’s also dinged MY ego in the process, which means from possibly having a 1/3 shot at A woman, he now has 0/3 cuz I’m no longer interested. I didn’t like or know him well enough to have my “feelings” hurt, but my “ego” is another matter. How DARE he show attention to other women while I was around! That’s ego talking, ladies. Not hurt feelings. Not disrespect. E.G.O. I have a good relationship with mine, so I can laugh at myself when she gets outraged 🙂  
      So dumb move on the part of this “nice-but-no-confidence” guy. During our talks he confessed that most of his exes are “crazy”, particularly his ex, who’s the mother of his children. He dated another crazy after her. So yeah. If he’s hunting 9-10’s, he’s gonna get the crazy ones more likely than not. I’m an 8 at best, so he backburners me when the 9/10s are around. Wrong move. I told this to my bff (a straight guy) and his statement was “Yeah. It takes a LOT of skill to work a room with multiple targets. This dude doesn’t have that skill.” My reply, “No kidding.”


      1. 66.2.1

        Interesting read.  
        Can you tell us how you rate him on looks?      

        Also, Id like  give my hypotheses here  and say that maybe  when he ignored you for the hot girl he hovered around, he had already figured out that you werent that into him and it was no  use investing further into you? Do you think that’s true?

        As for the skill to work with multiple targets. I think that comes naturally and depends on  ones social value.    

        1. Karmic Equation

          I’d rate him around 7/8 in looks. About 5’10”. Athletic build. Receding hairline (the  “widow’s peak” kind) so it doesn’t detract from his looks. Nice cultured voice, not deep, not nasally or squeaky. Superb 8-ball player.

          Before we went our separate ways the last time we made out, he said he would be in touch and I asked “Promise?” With a flirty smile and head tilt. He said yes. But he hasn’t contacted me since and that was before the two hot women I mentioned above. He had disclosed in one of our chats that he’s used to being chased. And it appeared only the crazy ones chased him. I don’t initiate, regardless if the guy is beta or not. So that “Promise?” was as close to chasing as I’m willing to go taking into account his disclosure.

          Am I into him? I could have been. I made out with him heatedly for goodness sake. If that doesn’t tell him I’m attracted, then he’s an idiot. And now that my ego has calmed down if he makes the effort, I might be interested again. But MY attraction to men only gets jump-started when THEY initiate and are consistent in their efforts. So if he doesn’t make the effort, my attraction is going to hover in neutral. OTOH, once my attraction is jump-started, I’m willing to initiate occasionally. But I do expect the man to initiate about 90% of the time until we’re in a relationship. Once in a relationship, I don’t concern myself with who’s initiating.

  7. 67

    Why is physical attractiveness taken out of the consideration here?

    “Niceness” or “badness” dont create  sexual  attraction on their own.     
    Its just that men who  are not blessed with great looks  feel the need to be extra nice to women in order to attract them and it rarely works (except with insecure women who don’t value desire). Meanwhile men  who are attractive can treat women as  equals and not bow down to them and  they get called arrogant and ‘bad’.   

    1. 67.1
      Karmic Equation


      My last bf was a player when I met him. I figured this out the 3rd time I saw him. But he was NOT your typical good-looking guy. He had broad shoulders, slim hips but a big gut. A very interesting face, not chiseled by any means, but eyelashes thicker than on any woman. So thick he’s been accused of wearing eyeliner. He had a double-chin, with a goatee. Salt-and-pepper hair in a small faux-hawk. He was 6′ 250 (a LOT of muscle tho, his only “fat” was in his belly area.)

      Anyway, after we became a couple, during a heated discussion, he admitted he had banged over 200 chicks in his 20s. Not dated, but banged. I believe him. In another discussion he admitted he had dated a stripper for about 7 months.  (He was 33 when we were dating and I saw a pic of him in his 20’s, he was smoking hot then, not fat at all).  There was also a time when he had a girl Monday, girl Tuesday, girl Wednesday, girl Thursday, for months, without them knowing about each other. He had girls (several) that threatened to kill themselves if he broke up with him. He had a stalker ex. Another that threatened to call the cops and report that he raped her if he DIDN’T “do” her again. Another whose bf called him up and said that the girl had AIDS (he had to get tested — I could barely contain my laughter on this one. Served him right, I thought). Another that tried to kill him by running him over with her car. I could go on. His stories were highly entertaining.
      What made him attractive to all those women and to me was his unparalleled confidence with women, imo. He knew how to handle them. I never thought I could be handled but he surely did to that. And I didn’t care.  

      He was a great flirt and conversationalist. He knew when to be sweet and when to be aloof.  He knew how to look into a girl’s eyes and make her think unholy thoughts.  

      But he was NOT good-looking objectively. Looks-wise, I’d place him as a 6-7. But his confidence (“game”) zinged him up to a 9 easily. Once you got a whiff of his personality, you forgot about his looks. His confidence in his ability to handle women was the turn-on.

  8. 68
    L Ross

    Dating a man with no balls
    It’s hard! You may love him, but you don’t respect him.
    A man with no balls may allow his…
    –                   ex-wife to run (and ruin) his life, well after the divorce is over
    –                   significant other to treat family and friends like shit
    –                   children to behave badly due to his lack of discipline
    –                   lack of balls to get in the way of making tough decisions
    What do you with him, especially when you love this ball-less man? He has been one the most thoughtful and emotionally generous person you’ve met, yet you feel like punching him in the fucking face.
    Sadly enough you most likely will leave this man due to his inability to take a stand.   The situation becomes pathetic and you feel bad, but also want to be with someone who is going to be able to make tough decisions and make you a priority in his life.
    I fell in love with my ball-less man, but I was also able to say goodbye to him.   Now that it’s over I feel sad, but the reality is that until he realizes how many things that he will lose out on due to his deficit, the situation will not change.

  9. 69

    Nice guys with confidence can be winners. However, women are absolutely full of crap. They say they want a nice man who will treat them right, love them, cherish them, blah blah blah.   Either they really want the bad boy because  he will treat them like dirt(because that’s what they truly want) or they stick with the nice guy and treat him like crap. Its better to be the bad boy because you get a larger variety of women and you look good on your Harley


    1. 69.1

      Please refrain from making blanket statements about the female gender. It’s disrespectful. What if I told you that men are losers, or lazy, or full of crap, or whatever negative opinion  i’ve made myself believe? You wouldn’t be too happy about being included in that statement.

      1. 69.1.1

        Noemi: Men are called losers, lazy, and full of crap all the time.

      2. 69.1.2


        Well, if I had a nickel for every blanket generalization women have made about men, on this blog alone, I’d be drowning in nickels! Want to take a guess how many times I’ve read here how ALL men in my age group (over 60) are ______(please fill in laundry list of every undesirable physical appearance/behavior/sexual dysfunction, etc. here), when the only one that matches me is grey (mostly) hair. Guess how I feel about that. Doesn’t matter, because I know that inside of a week, I’ll be treated to a reprise from yet another woman here who decides to unload her frustration on every older guy who can read it. It’s the internet, my dear, and people, (both genders) indulge in sweeping generalizations and stereotypes…because they can, without consequence, and without ever meeting anyone they hurt. You need a thick skin here, and in online dating as well, cause emotionally, it’s a contact sport, with damn few rules.

  10. 70

    Just to add to that last part Evan about where you said that a woman has already made up her mind and if the guy she likes calls her the next day after a first date he’s a nice guy and if not he’s a creepy stalker, I disagree.      That’s a big immature if a girl says that.    My answer would be, he’s a nice guy, but I am not interested.   But a nice guy I really like and am very attracted to can turn into a creepy stalker, or became really unattractive if he acts spineless and needy too.      So yes you have to walk a balance between being too needy and too interested and playing games.   To be honest I have rarely run into guys that were too needy and too interested and spineless, but when I have it was a huge turn off.   Guys so let me tell you a few things that are.       Don’t make me your whole life and your whole happiness.      Don’t cancel plans you already have to spend time with me.    Don’t stalk my social media page and ask me questions about every single picture on there. Don’t invite yourself to attend plans or events that I already have when we have barely known each other for a few weeks. Don’t buy me expensive gifts on the second date, don’t text me more than 30 times a day.    My point is these are extreme things.    So guys that are concerned about being too nice, most of the men that get dumped for being too nice are doing pretty extreme stuff, and that is not things like not waiting a week or three days to call!    And as far as online dating guys yes I am sorry it really sucks for you, but it really sucks for us too and Evan is right, I am bombarded with emails and I am sure I look past a lot of really great guys, and I am sorry I can’t respond to all of the emails, but I am trying to weed through the 50 others, and fielding off creeps, and cheaters, and rude and explicit emails.       Trust me yes I have a lot of choices, but it is also a lot of work. m

  11. 71

    If a man want to attract a woman of quality he needs to take charge. Start with: Invite her out with a message of dress sharp and act as a gentleman.

  12. 72

    I’m encouraged to learn that men actually read books (David D’Angelo, The Rules). I have a bookcase filled with such titles but have yet to meet a man who has even heard of any of the author/titles… I’m learning patience, I trust he’s on his way. Thank you for this article!

  13. 73

    I’m really glad I found this article, and your site.   I’m a so-called “nice guy”- good looking (so I’m told), successful, fun, intelligent, yada yada, and most of what your client spoke to you about in this article has also been my experience, which is dejecting to say the least.   But you make some really excellent points, like good guys getting lost in the deluge and how a great baseball player fails 70% of the time at the plate.   It’s really tough when I browse tons of profiles,  finally narrow choices down to women whom I think I’d have a pretty good connection with  (at least based on what’s in their profile), take the time to write a decent intro email, have them check out my profile and… nothing.   That wouldn’t bother me so much except for countless times that that’s happened.   And after a while, you stop barking up the trees so much, because you more or less know what the outcome is going to be.   As I say, dejecting.   But your analogies are good ones, and at least keep the hope going, so thanks for that.

    1. 73.1

      I should add here, by “nice guy” I mean just that – nice, thoughtful and focused on who I’m with.   As I believe nice guys should be.   Hardly needy or lacking balls  – a  man should preserve his self respect at all times, for himself.   The rest just comes naturally from there, I think.

  14. 74

    I’ve really enjoyed reading through the above comments and I do agree with one thing: dating is a total bitch.

    I am 37 and never had a girlfriend before. Frankly, I suck at dating, know nothing about women and I’ve made my peace with that. If I can’t even get myself a girlfriend, imagine me trying to maintain a marriage for 20 years.

    Maybe I should just pursue my hobbies and interests, live a happy life  and not bother dating altogether. This stuff is just too complicating and I’m clearly too stupid to get my head around it.

    1. 74.1


      You are not stupid at all. You are astute enough to recognize a situation where the alleged reward may not be worth the risk.

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