Do Men Like Bitches Or Nice Girls?

Do Men Like Bitches Or Nice Girls?
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Evan,

When it comes to dating, what do you think works best for attracting a man — and making him want to commit? In the world of dating advice, there are two opposite schools of thought on the subject: one is coming from the likes of Sherry Argov’s “Why Men Love Bitches” where the “nice girls” get passed over the more edgy, less giving women; and the other is from Tracy McMillan’s “Why You Are Not Married”, proclaiming that kindness gets you to the altar and the “nice girls” finish first with the ring on their left hand. Example (one of many) is that cooking for a man is a sign of caring and nurturing from McMillan’s point of view, whereas it’s a number one sign of a doormat from the Argov’s. In your experience, what works?

—Stephanie

Dear Stephanie,

I’m thrilled that you asked this. Honestly.

Because you’ve outlined the central dilemma that most of my smart, strong, successful clients face: should I be a bitch or a nice girl? What works better? What do men like? What if I’m naturally one way? Should I try to be the other?

These questions are all completely misguided.

The people who are happily married all figured out which trade-offs were worth it. The people who have not figured out their tradeoffs still struggle.

They reduce female behavior to a binary choice, when, in fact, behavior can never be compared to an either/or proposition.

We see fallacies like that all the time on this blog.

When I tell you to dial down chemistry, it becomes: “Oh, so I should go out with someone who is entirely unattractive to me?”

When I tell you that if you have your own money, you don’t need a man to make more than you, it becomes, “Oh, so I should find myself some slacker deadbeat who can’t support himself?”

Sorry, but the world is grey and these are weak straw-man arguments that women use to defend why they need a man who is taller, smarter, richer, funnier, etc. Except it’s simply not true. Men don’t need women who are taller, smarter, richer and funnier, and the fact that women think they do — as if anything else is “settling” — is the main source of the problem. The people who are happily married all figured out which trade-offs were worth it. The people who have not figured out their tradeoffs still struggle.

So here’s the deal, Stephanie.

Argov’s book doesn’t tell women to be “bitches”. It tells them to have boundaries, so as to avoid the fate of all the women who read “He’s Just Not That Into You”.

If you have boundaries, you won’t sleep with a guy until he’s exclusive.
If you have boundaries, you won’t stay with him for four months without being his girlfriend.
If you have boundaries, you let him know how he disappointed you and how he can please you better, instead of silently stewing that he unknowingly mistreated you.

This is basic assertiveness — and this is what prevents you from being a doormat.

Remember, men are about feelings. How we feel around you determines whether we want to stick around for life.

NONE of this prevents you from following the McMillan “Why You’re Not Married” model (which I wrote about in my 2006 book, “Why You’re Still Single”).

She and I (and pretty much every good, sane man on the planet) agree that the best way to a man’s heart is to treat him well. Support his dreams. Accept his flaws. Laugh at his jokes. Let him be himself. Cook him dinner. Give him oral sex. We’re really not all that complicated, y’know.

Anyone who tells you that this will make you a doormat (as opposed to the perfect wife), has absolutely no understanding of what makes men tick.

Remember, men are about feelings. How we feel around you determines whether we want to stick around for life.

I can assure you that if you interpreted the Argov book to mean “don’t support his dreams, don’t accept his flaws, don’t laugh at his jokes, don’t let him be himself, don’t cook him dinner, don’t give him oral sex,” you’ve got it 100% wrong.

And if you want a shorter way to get the formula right, let’s consider what it takes for a man to do well with women.

You don’t want a weak, needy, bland man.
You don’t want a raging, difficult, selfish asshole.

You want a nice guy with balls.

We don’t want a weak, needy, bland woman.
We don’t want a raging, difficult, selfish bitch.
We want a nice girl with boundaries.

That about sums it up, doesn’t it?

Join our conversation (140 Comments).
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Comments:

  1. 21
    Heather

    @ Ruby,

    Exactly.   I really thought I’d had some boundaries, with my last serious relationship, but really, I didn’t.   Once I left him, I realized that I had to learn basic stuff like: never allow a guy to ask you out at the last minute.   It means that he probably had nothing else better to do, and you’re better than “nothing else better to do.”

    I learned to turn down dates if I got a bad “gut feeling”, and to expect nothing less than kind, respectful behavior from a date.   Even with my current boyfriend, when we first started talking online, he sent me his number.   I sent a funny reply back and said, well tell ya what, here is MY number, I’m not that kinda girl, ya know! 🙂   He called me, 20 minutes later and said he respected that kind of mentality from me.

    Boundaries saved me a TON of drama in dating and while it meant usually just 1-2 dates from alot of guys, it saved some good-sized heartache, and allowed me to enjoy my life.

    My boyfriend says I am definitely ballsy and not a doormat, and I am glad I FINALLY learned those lessons.   Otherwise I’d still be letting men take a mile, if I gave an inch.   Oy.

  2. 22
    BeenThruTheWars

    Anyone who has actually READ Argov’s book knows that, to her, “BITCH” is an acronym — for “Babe In Total Control of Herself.”   She doesn’t reveal that until very late in the book, which is unfortunate for those who give it only a cursory glance standing in the “Dating & Relationships” aisle at Barnes & Noble.   Because, as Evan points out, it’s all about boundaries.   Being in control of one’s own behavior (as opposed to trying to control other people, a futile endeavor) is the definition of “having boundaries.”   Argov’s book is a humorous, fun and thought-provoking read for any woman who’s wondered how she can be a loving member of a relationship without becoming a doormat in the process.

  3. 23
    Helen

    I wish the term “bitch” did not get intertwined with the concept of setting boundaries. The two have nothing to do with each other. “Bitch” is a term used by abusive sorts to bully women who do not conform to their wishes. Women sometimes use this term themselves as an expression of empowerment, but it seems silly: going overboard, if you will.
      
    There is no insulting term to describe a strong man. There should be no insulting term to describe a strong woman. Strong men and women can both be kind, goodhearted (even tenderhearted), and reasonable. As Evan suggested, it’s not an either/or proposition. Be true to yourself and decent to others. That is all.

    1. 23.1
      JoeK

      Bitch” is a term used by abusive sorts to bully women who do not conform to their wishes.


      “Bitch” is also used to describe a woman who is a…bitch. Someone who uses insults or aggression to get her way. Someone who thinks it’s only ok if it’s done “her way”. Women I learned long ago to steer clear of.


      The closest insult for men could be “dick” or “asshole”, or “overbearing”. It’s hard to say “equivalent” because a woman acting like this is, in her mind, emulating male aggressive behavior to get her way (what she percieves as a positive expression…like “it’s ok for men to behave this way” when it isn’t). That’s why she gets the label “bitch”. It would be hard to have an equivalent label for a man, because it’s predicated on the misperception of male aggressive behavior being tolerated or acceptable in circumstances where it really isn’t. So a guy behaving this way, say at work, would get known as a “real dick” or “an ass” or even labelled “childish”.


      A truly strong woman isn’t deserving of such a label, and isn’t likely to receive it, except from some immature people. If a woman believes she’s a “strong woman” and not a “bitch”, but most people react to her like she’s a “bitch”…guess which category she probably falls into?
        
      I’ve met, dated, and worked with both categories, and there’s a distinct difference. Strong women don’t fear being mislabelled, because they trust their own inner dialogue, their own principals and values, and accept that occasionally someone (weak) will misunderstand them (which is frustrating). Bitchy women don’t, so have to aggressively defend what they see as incursions against those values. Some of the strongest, non-bitchy women I’ve met at work were absolutely amazing to work with/for, and I never felt like they were bitchy.

  4. 24
    Heather

    BeenThruTheWars,

    I did some serious skimming of that book a couple of years ago, and found that out about what she means by being a bitch.   It’s totally spot on.   We can’t control what a guy is going to do, but we CAN control how we respond, and can determine if what they did or said, works for us, and take action accordingly.

    I used to be a real doormat, let guys jerk me around about dates, let them fool me into thinking they were into a relationship with me when they clearly were just looking for a hookup, etc.   I finally learned to have a voice and say, “I’m sorry but that kind of behavior is upsetting to me, hurtful, inconsiderate, etc.”   That book really helped me set boundaries for myself.   Doing that really gave me more freedom than I ever imagined. I didn’t feel so used, and abused, and victimized.   I felt in control and more powerful.   Sure, I couldn’t “make” a guy call if he said he would, I could not make a guy not disappear.   But I learned last year, that I could control how I handled the disappearing acts, especially the ones who would say, “I hope we can be friends” and instead of my doing the “Oh sure, we can do that!” mentality I used to have, I would politely say, I’m sorry but my friends treat me with respect and kindness and courtesy.   I wish you no ill will but I also do not want to see nor talk to you again.

    Boundaries are awesome!   And men DO like a girl with a sense of boundaries and who loves and respects herself.

  5. 25
    Kathleen

    Yes   you are right   Been thru the WarsI #22
    loved Argovs book It was hilarious but really makes great points It became my dating bible after I became single …. Plus Ive recommended it to my friends.

    That was before I knew about Evan of course !!

    Now if I can just get over how extremely unattractive most of these guys are that are contacting me on line are….LOL

  6. 26
    Miranda

    @Paragon

    I never said I am NOT looking for love, I actually REALLY am. But no matter how much  oxytocin is flooding my body: I won’t fall in love with somebody who doesn’t make me feel good. All good relationships I had started easy, without much insecurity. If a guy doesn’t make me feel good pretty soon and leaves me hanging on, he is not somebody I want to committ to. But I guess that is the core issue of most people on here, they prefer to chase a dream or an illusion…

    Speaking of boundaries, why would any woman want a guy for a relationship who clearly doesn’t know how to love her? Why not see him as what he is, a person not able to give her what she needs.

    And all I am saying is: If he is not treating me well as a person, we might still get along in bed,   and I would like to enjoy that type of thing while it lasts.

  7. 27
    Ruby

    Heather #24
      
    Agreed. Unfortunately, I learned that “I hope we can be friends” too often means, “I know I acted like a jerk and I hope you don’t hate me.” Or the man has a hidden agenda; I’ve sensed that some men weren’t happy in their current relationships, and wanted to keep the door open in case they decided to reconnect in the future.

  8. 28
    Kate

    Well, I have slowly learn how to enforce boundaries too (I hope). However, some times I am wondering whether the way you enforce the boundary makes all the difference between make and break in a relationship. For example, Evan says that men will want sex and it is up to us women to reveal little by little and playfully. I have been known to act insulted if some men wanted sex after a couple of dates, thinking they are only after that, but retrospectively maybe the way I refused was a deal-breaker for them and this is why they vanished when they did not get it?
    Also, other times, I think is it best perhaps to just give a “mulligan” (I read that wonderful letter written by Evan’s wife when she was still his girlfriend) and remember that men are human too and make mistakes? If we give them grief and enforce our boundaries and show our disappointment about too many things again it cannot be good, isn’t it?

  9. 29
    Catherine

    I agree we want a nice guy with balls and I concur that when it comes to a long term relationship men want a “” nice woman””. however, you do need to   hook the guy in initially, ie look hot so he will then discover all your good personal qualities.
    if you just look hot and then he discovers you are a bitch  , he will be outta there pretty fast.

  10. 30
    Heather

    @ Kate,

    Well I hear where you are coming from.   However, if a guy is really misbehaving, or is really pushing the issue, then you have every right to be insulted, if he’s truly insulted you.   I’ve been insulted on a few first dates and I made it pretty damn clear that I wasn’t going to put up with that kind of behavior.   If they felt it was a dealbreaker that I stood up for myself, well then, too bad.   We have the right to stand up for ourselves and if a guy has a problem with it, well then there’s a red flag right there.
    @ Ruby:
    I agree with you.   I got the vibe when I’d get the “I hope we can be friends” line that what they’re saying is, yep, I was an idiot but I don’t want to be the bad guy.”   I had no problem with letting them be the bad guy, if they misbehaved.   Which was why I told them, “No, we cannot be friends, since my FRIENDS don’t treat me like you just did.”   I can forgive, but I don’t let people off the hook for their behaviors, cover for them, nor make excuses.   If they did wrong, they did wrong, and they need to own that.   I don’t want a man who can’t be accountable for his behavior, that’s cowardly.

  11. 31
    maria

    PERFECT TIMING!!!!! LOVE THIS! THANK YOU!  

  12. 32
    Bill

    Women and men spend a lot of time trying to hook a person who is out of there league. Wouldn’t it just be easier to date someone who is actually interested in having a relationship with you in the first place. Yes some women have the powers but most do not. If it has not worked out for you maybe it is time to either date a guy who is actually interested in having a relationship with you or make yourself two points hotter because being physically attractive will make a difference no matter how you change your personality.

  13. 33
    Michelle

    “I have been known to act insulted if some men wanted sex after a couple of dates, thinking they are only after that,”

    Once you can accept that this is how men are  instinctively and  biologically, and they have no control over their desire for sex, you might get more light hearted about it.   I think you’re right, it’s the insulted  attitude that gave them they  impression you don’t understand men and how fun are you really going to be over the long  term?   They don’t need it then and there (and can’t blame  a guy for trying), however, they DO want to know it’s coming soon.   And if they press after being told  no, then that’s the time to get FIRM  (not bitchy) about your boundaries.

    Boundaries are about  replacing holes with doors, so you control what you let into your  ‘personal space’ (not just physical space, emotional as well)  or not.   That has nothing to do with a man making mistakes.   Come from the heart, assume good intentions unless  he actually PROVES otherwise–and you can never go wrong.    Look for BIG character flaws and significantly different beliefs, compatability–the rest of it is  going to have to laughed at or tolerated, no one is perfect.   And believe me, he’s having to tolerate too, men just seem to do that better than women.          

    And switch it up…would you like a man constantly calling into  question your intentions and integrity (I’ve had that happen, NOT pleasant and it was offensive to me)?   Would you like a man to constantly show disappointment in you, that you were  constantly making him unhappy?  

    Finally, men are NOT women.  

  14. 34
    Mia

    I find it interesting that so many women who comment on this blog talk about the experience of being pushed or propositioned for sex on the first couple dates. That has actually NEVER happened to me. About half of my dates in recent history have been from online, the other half through friends, professional circles, bars, or set ups of some kind, but in any case none of these men (age range 27-35) so much as brought up sex even though they clearly  found me attractive and eventually tried to kiss me and definitely after 4-6 dates went for more. It really hasn’t come up for me as a tenser issue until maybe the fifth date or so, and even then hardly anybody has been disrespectful. One guy on the third date – a very handsome one, at that – did keep slobbering over me while having drinks  and repeatedly telling me how I had a sexy body and a nice chest, etc. (I wasn’t dressed revealingly)  which was really gross and crass, but that was an anomaly.

    I’ve never even had a guy I met through online dating lie to me about his age or height or look different than his photos – everyone I’ve met on match so far is fairly cute and can carry on a normal conversation.

    The tougher thing has been finding a guy who follows up promptly, who wants to see me often and incorporate me into his life and is in the right time in his life for a relationship. I think that’s why it’s been harder for me to set certain boundaries – I’m not running into guys who are overtly propositioning sex, or who are stalkers, freaks, or liars, and I have been maintaining such an independent outside life that I’m definitely not viewed by anyone as  some doormat that is giving up her life for any guy. The situations that call for me to be more of a “bitch” seem to be a lot more nuanced, like men who don’t call to see you at the last minute, but still give only 24 hour notice. Or … who call you just often enough to be passable, but not often enough that you feel entirely comfortable with his effort. Or let eight dates go by over more than a month with no talk about where things are heading or exclusivity. Ugh!

  15. 35
    Rachael

    Michelle: “And switch it up…would you like a man constantly calling into  question your intentions and integrity (I’ve had that happen, NOT pleasant and it was offensive to me)?   Would you like a man to constantly show disappointment in you, that you were  constantly making him unhappy? ”

    Bingo!

    I’ve never experienced this, but I can imagine it would not be pleasant. So why, I wonder, do some women think this is ok? I did it alot myself to my ex-husband, but only after he cheated and it didn’t go on long before I realized the street I was headed down and asked him to leave. I couldn’t live with MYSELF acting that way. I’m not even sure to this day why he did. Maybe he thought he’d get the old me back eventually…

    Never again.

  16. 36
    nathan

    Michelle, men are not all sex hounds unable to “control” themselves. We are not all rushing to get in a woman’s pants – that’s such a seriously tired old cliche. Why is it that some women play this higher moral ground card all the time? Women and men both want sex. Both are considering it when going on dates with people they are attracted to. It’s just that we are sometimes on a different page when it comes to timing.  
      
    Oh, and to Stacy back at #2 – stop dating toddlers. They’re making you bitter. Men don’t require “training,” but we do require some respect and understanding. As adults. You want to date an adult, drop the toddler mindset. Class dismissed.

  17. 37
    Paragon

    @ Miranda

    ”  I never said I am NOT looking for love, I actually REALLY am. But no matter how much  oxytocin is flooding my body: I won’t fall in love with somebody who doesn’t make me feel good.”  

    That’s a pretty ironic statement, considering what oxytocin has been demonstrated to do.

    ”  If a guy doesn’t make me feel good pretty soon and leaves me hanging on, he is not somebody I want to committ to.”  

    And what about if he is someone that DOES make you feel good(but still leaves you hanging)?

    ”  Speaking of boundaries, why would any woman want a guy for a relationship who clearly doesn’t know how to love her?  “  

    For a myriad of irrational reasons documented throughout this blog, and left by countless women who, in retrospect, claim they ‘should have known better at the time…’.

  18. 38
    Daria (Ria)

    Agree with Bill @32

  19. 39
    Heather

    @ Mia,

    You are seriously one very lucky woman, then.   When I left Match, I came very close to writing them a letter telling them that a more appropriate name for them would be “LiarLiarPantsOnFire.com” because unfortunately, that’s the majority of the men I met on there for my area.   Alot of them lied about age, weight, height, a few about marital status (I reported one to Match), or desire for a relationship.

    Many, many online dates I had, tried to push for sex on the first date, and would get downright upset if I politely but firmly said “No.”   One told me that I had trust issues.   I had to fight hard not to say, “Well of course I have trust issues!   I don’t trust assholes!”

    The “bitchiness” you describe about guys giving you notice about dates, well I think that’s totally warranted.   I’ve told some guys who see no problem with it: put the shoe on the other foot.   Would YOU like to be treated like that?   And most guys do say: No, actually I wouldn’t.   I said that once to a guy who cancelled a first date but wanted to reschedule.   He tried to follow up with me later to tell me “he hadn’t forgotten about me and still wanted to meet me” but I left that email unanswered.   They say that you teach people how to treat you, and the way I saw it, allowing him to reschedule at the last minute once, means that he might do it again, and I’d had too many experiences with that and didn’t want to do that.   I had to learn to set boundaries for myself, and that was one of them.

  20. 40
    Ellen

    Wow, Heather where do you live? I have a bf now, come here ’cause I’m fascinated by male/female differences, but hated dating in SC as well. 3 long, long years….

    In general the men here MIGHT be a little more respectful,  given it’s primarily a conservative state (the coast is liberal, Democratic more though) and Southern women  of a certain social class are intolerant of rude behavior, being asked out last minute,  etc.  so I was treated well for the most part. Once in relationships, though, esp. with “Yankees” and in particular I’m thinking of a guy from Seattle and  another from NYC, I was treated like total crap after a while. Oh, the NYC guy was a conservative Italian but that didn’t stop him from taking me for granted and thinking I would be ok with him having sex elsewhere occasionally.

    The Seattle guy was  awful about returning texts, calling, making firm dates. He was too tired all the time, pulled long hrs.  where he worked, but being a lifetime bachelor just didn’t care much about my feelings. Once openly stared at  other attractive females.  Had no desire to find “the one”. He was Hollywood handsome and apparently liked the lifestyle. Also, huge co%k so that  vanity…..  

    I have tons of self esteem, but swear I stayed with each a little too long (several weeks only)  so as not to jump back in that awful,  shark-infested dating  pool. 🙂          

    Here in SC I didn’t date that many men who lied I think, but if they did, it was mainly about wanting a relationship. Few actually did. They were the typically cynical, 50+ guy who just wanted to score- repeatedly. It’s why I went in the direction of younger men for about two years….

    Mercifully, I was not pressed for sex, but then I project a “good girl” vibe for the most part. I am probably very confusing*- I project this good girl, sophisticated, educated, sane, sweet  vibe but have a killer, 36C-D  bod I’ve been told. So, yeah, guys always wanted to have me, but knew instinctively not to press the issue maybe. Some were total gentlemen that way. Others, well, there was no second date, despite a great first, so I knew it was ’cause I didn’t “put out”. Most of the time, if I wanted to, I dated til I pulled the plug. Only two men pulled the plug first, and one of those was a golddigger. lol

    *two or three of my typically 7 online photos were provocative in the sense that I was wearing shorts, or fu*k me heels, or in a bikini. The bikini shot I  would only put online for a few days at a time  to see the reaction I got. lol Then I would think better of it and pull it for months at a time. I never could ultimately decide, but I wanted to get emails, attract men. My bad I guess.

    Because I am an alpha female, though, I was told by two men I was  “an acquired taste”, code for “you are not submissive enough” I guess. lol    
      
    From what I’ve read here I would NOT date in NYC, Southern CA and maybe a few other  areas. DC perhaps. Those men sound like nightmares to me.

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