Do Nice Women Finish Last? Absolutely Not!

athlete on the track

I usually don’t write on the weekends, but this email from a regular reader made me change my mind – especially since it’s thematically relevant to my most recent post, as well as my new book that’s coming out in a few weeks:

All right, Evan, so I’ve been following your blog and advice for quite awhile now and I sure learned a lot from it. You are right on most things, but I must say I was right on this one: Men care more about women who don’t care for them.

Take my latest relationship, for instance, I started “duty dating” this man and eventually we went out for 8 months. For two months, I really wasn’t that into him, and for those two months he was very sweet to me, went out of his way to please me, compromised for the relationship and was very considerate of what was important to me. He told me he loved after 2 months (before I told him) and was already talking about a future together. In return, I gave him the least I could to keep him in the relationship. As our relationship evolved, I started falling in love with him, compromising, going out of my way to make him happy and even doing things that went against my beliefs.

Men care more about women who don’t care for them.

He, on the other hand, stopped putting any effort in the relationship. He would not only do the least possible to keep me around, but also started ignoring anything that was important to me. So while I’ve heard you say that “men like the woman who treat them nicely and makes things easier“, my experience has been completely the opposite.   I usually don’t put any effort until I know where the relationship is going, yet most men I dated were really into me right from the beginning. The one time I become the “nice woman,” he feels he doesn’t have to do any work. Does it mean the saying “nice guys finish last” applies for girls as well?

Thanks for your help,


Dear Tamara,

I love your thought-provoking email and take great pride that readers like you have the ability to find the tiny loopholes in my dating advice. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to close that loophole right now. Thanks for playing. 🙂

So here’s my take on why “men care more about women who don’t care about them” is about the worst relationship philosophy I’ve ever heard:

First of all, I don’t think that “nice guys finish last”. As I wrote in one of my first blog entries ever, nice guys finish FIRST, as long as they have the balls to make decisions. Nice guys who are only nice are boring, but the proverbial “nice guy with edge” is the holy grail for most women. I’d like to think you can be a nice, generous, thoughtful, devoted man without kissing your girlfriend’s ass and losing all semblance of self-respect.

At this point, I’d like you to pay attention to this important nuance, as you seem to be ignoring it when you make your declaration that “nice girls finish last”. The world is not that black and white. Alas, your previous relationship has led you to conclude otherwise. Here’s your supporting evidence:

You had a boyfriend for two months and were basically indifferent towards him and gave him the least you could. Finally, his kindness and consistency won you over, but he started to become complacent and selfish. Your conclusion: “this relationship was a lot better when I was being a selfish bitch. Maybe it’s a good idea to always be a selfish bitch!” End scene.

Your solution is to beat men at their own game? To be equally distant and indifferent, under the theory that he’ll try harder?

Can you see why this is an exhausting, and ultimately unsatisfying path to finding a long term relationship? Relationships are built on trust and comfort. Being seen by your partner as your best self. Being accepted by your partner as your worst self. It’s about letting go, and building something that’s greater than either of you.

Can you see why this is an exhausting, and ultimately unsatisfying path to finding a long term relationship?

Why am I sitting home writing on my blog on Saturday afternoon? Not because there aren’t hundreds of things I’d rather do. But because my wife is just out of surgery and wants me around. That’s why I’m here now. That’s why I didn’t go out on Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night or Friday night as well. Does she actually NEED me here? Not at all. But she wants me here, so I put her needs (my presence in the house) above my own (going out and having fun with my friends). I’m not claiming to be a martyr: this is exactly what she would do for me if the roles were reversed.

Imagine a world in which everyone arrived at your conclusion, Tamara. Would YOU want to have a relationship in that world? Where men give less, you give less, and it becomes a battle of indifference until neither party can take it any longer? Because that’s the slippery slope you’re proposing. Or maybe you’re just proposing that ONLY you give less, so that he constantly has to win you over but never gets the security of knowing that he’s “got” you. Either way, this doesn’t sound to me like the foundation of a successful relationship, does it? In fact, it sounds more like a grade school pissing match to see who can get away with more by caring less.

By now, you’re probably on board with the idea that being selfish isn’t a great strategy, but you’re still faced with your empirical evidence: your boyfriend was more devoted when you were ambivalent about him. Therefore, you think that, to keep him hooked, you should continue to act that way in perpetuity. Interesting philosophy.

Imagine a guy asked me for advice and said the same thing: nice guys finish last. Jerks do better with women. Should I start being a jerk?

By your standards, Tamara, the answer would have to be yes. After all, it would seem to be a good bet. Millions of women have signed up for relationships with such men, who keep up their indifference forever, never letting you feel safe, never letting you rest easy that he’s going to stick around. Do we really need more of this? I get hundreds of emails from women complaining about men like this and yet you want to FOSTER this same behavior in womankind?

You have to break the cycle of insanity, sweetheart. Otherwise it’s an eye-for-an-eye, where everyone is left blind. Or single.

Your logical mistake is in thinking that there’s a correlation between how nice you acted and how your boyfriend withdrew. Because if you were the perfect girlfriend, and he pulled away from you during this time, it just means that he’s NOT the man you want to marry. End of story. Good men respond to good treatment. And if he can’t take you being unconditionally good to him, I’d say that’s a fatal flaw in the relationship, wouldn’t you? Same way I’d tell any nice guy not to put up with bullshit with a woman who actually wants a bad boy. Let the bad boys and bad girls terrorize each other. I’m trying to foster good, healthy, nurturing relationships. That begins with being a giver, not a taker.

You can be smart. You can be strong. You can have your opinions. You just have to put your ego aside for the sake of a relationship that’s bigger than you.

Your belief in “Why Men Love Bitches” is a very simplified version of the world, but it’s not that much different from my Nice Guys With Balls theory. You can be smart. You can be strong. You can have your opinions. You just have to put your ego aside for the sake of a relationship that’s bigger than you. Since I know you, Tamara, I have a feeling that your boyfriend isn’t entirely at fault here and that you let your ego and worldview of how things are “supposed to be” get in the way of your relationship. You’re more interested in being “right” than you are in keeping the peace. But that’s another conversation for another day.

The real point is that if you’re going to be building a life together, the ONLY way to do it is through empathy, generosity, and selflessness. Your suggestion might lead to some smitten guy who chases you around like a puppy dog because he thinks you’re hot…it just doesn’t lead to equality or long-term peace. Take your ego out of it, start thinking long-term, and realize that the guy you want to keep will LOVE being treated well.

Thanks for your question. Your comments below are appreciated.

Join our conversation (107 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    if you can’t who you want to you are in a relationship the problem is not with being nice, but who you are in the relationship with.

  2. 2

    I think the?following is the translation for Steve’s comment:

    If you can’t be who you want to be in a relationship, the problem is not being nice, but whom you’re in a relationship with. Sorry, Steve!


  3. 3

    A woman can be nice and treat a man well; just set healthy boundaries and enforce them.? A man respects a doormat no more than a woman respects a wimp.

    1. 3.1

      Absolutley Starthrower68! No one really wants a doormat they cant respect. You can be a nice girl who treats her man right and still maintain your standards and speak up in your relationship. My boyfriend is a good guy but wont tolerate bs and will make decisions like a man. Im happy in my relationship and so is he because we know how to treat each other.

      I love this post because it finally addresses the toxic cycle relationships take these days. Everyone is trying to maintain power over their partner by withdrawing and making that person feel insecure. This is supposed to result in a healthy balanced relationship you can be healthy in? I think not!

  4. 4

    Being nice to a man could be interpreted as being needy and emotional. It depends on how nice you treat him Tamara…

  5. 5

    Evan, I hope your dear wife is doing well. It is always interesting to read so many different perspectives on relationship issues.
    It sounds to me as if Tamara is not meeting the kind of men that she is truly interested in, but she tolerates them to a point. Maybe she likes the powerful feeling she gets from how these men are immediately into her, while she can be nonchalant and noncommittal about it all. Yes, it does sound like a role reversal.? Then she met someone that caught her off guard, and she fell for him, only to become overtly nice and have him slack off. This doesn’t mean nice girls finish last. It means he wasn’t the right one for her. He’s likely this way with every woman he wins over.
    Maybe he chased her so hard because of wanting sex. A lot of men come on strong in the early stages, and then flame out. When Tamara’s feelings began to deepen, she may have compromised herself too much, such as going against her beliefs. I wonder if those beliefs were also sexual. There is such a thing as giving too much. Sometimes people start to lose respect for you. They treat you poorly and take advantage of you because they know they can.
    As starthrower said, it’s about having healthy boundaries. It should be an equal give and take throughout the relationship. If it’s not, then they are not the one for you, unless you enjoy being a doormat.

  6. 6

    Thanks Evans for the nice answer!

    Actually, its true….if the guy is like that, probably he is already comfortable with the relationship.

  7. 7

    I’ve been in Tamara’s situation. When the guy was hot after me, I appeared confident and happy. ?When the tide changed and I became more vulnerable to the guy, all my insecurities surfaced. I appeared nice and giving, but was, in fact, very desperate for love. ?The right guy will still love you when he realizes you are not perfect. The wrong guy will run. Of course, the best solution is to find a way to feel more secure about yourself. ?*Evan, your advice constantly reminds women like me that men aren’t the enemies. ?Just reading your blog has created major shifts in the way I approach men. And, yes, the men are responding positively. I cringe at times when your advice exposes the fatal dating mistakes that I’ve made in the past. ?I’ve only been a fan for a few months and for the first time ( I’m in my mid ?30’s) I did not get derailed when that Tall, Hot, Young Investment Banker did not return a call. ?Heck, I should buy something from you soon as a token of gratitude. Years of ?therapy $$$ hasn’t been as helpful as your simple blog.

  8. 8

    I’m so glad I just found this blog! There are lots of insightful information regarding men, women, and relationships. Everyone’s comments are great too!
    My past relationships wasn’t exactly the same, but I felt similar feelings to the OP at some point. Hearing a new perspective on the whole thing gives me a better understanding then going to my girlfriends to reinforce my “guys love bitches” attitude I fell into sometimes 😉
    I think the main thing is when you do fall for someone, to not lose yourself in the process. This is something I will be working on myself. Compromise, be loving, be generous, be thoughtful.. which (to me) equates to being nice… just don’t turn into someone you’re not.

    1. 8.1

      “I think the main thing is when you do fall for someone, to not lose yourself in the process. This is something I will be working on myself. Compromise, be loving, be generous, be thoughtful.. which (to me) equates to being nice… just don’t turn into someone you’re not.”

      nice advice, Luxe!
      Never lose yourself in the process of loving somebody too much.   

  9. 9

    I’m sorry, but she dated the guy for TWO MONTHS while having little or no interest in him?? I’ve never heard of a man having to endure this type of torture – and this is my problem with the whole human courtship thing.? It simply is not fair.? Women who give the guy they aren’t particularly interested in a shot for that long of a time are not only nice, they are saints!

    And … if he gets all comfortable with the relationship that quickly, perhaps her initial instinct not to be interested was cluing her into something.? What a jerk!? It all goes to show that desperation to woo or to change one’s opinion gets us nowhere in love.

    1. 9.1

      Sometimes guys feel taken for granted after that long a chase or exhausted.

  10. 10

    @ EMK –? you know those “advice” sources for men that you always talk about?? You know, the ones that teach men how to be “players” and “keep women in line?”? Guess what, that’s EXACTLY the kind of “advice” they are giving to men.? And you know what else?? A lot of men are eating it up.? Maybe we don’t want to perpetuate the same sort of thing for women,? but in my experience, men respect me when I let it be known upfront? that I don’t think they are all that, and that I am about no BS of any kind.?? Oh, and that they aren’t getting any from me.?? I don’t see it as being a bitch, but merely as self-protection from being used and abused, then cast aside for the next conquest.

  11. 11

    Yes, it’s true that when you fall in love, you lose control over yourself to a certain degree, depending on how well you actually know yourself. After my divorce from my ex husband of almost 11 years, I’ve come to realize that I barely knew myself when I got married and I barely know myself now after I got divorced. Life and relationships in particular are not about destination, it’s about a journey of getting to know your own self thoroughly. Don’t look at the person you are/were involved with as a destination, but try to look at yourself first and try to figure yourself out first. I bet there is a lot of people in the Datingland who didn’t figure it out for themselves yet, which exactly is the very reason why there are a lot of frustration and disappointment in that department. One thing I totally agree with Evan is that always look at yourself first. Your partner is not entitled to make you happy. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stereotypes and stigma surrounding the topic of relationships between men and women. However, ultimately it all boils down to one thing –if you can’t reach that equilibrium that makes both of you happy within your relationship, then there’s no point to blame anyone or even worse, try to become someone who you actually aren’t. It just isn’t a relationship for you. Good job Evan. I am very impressed.

    1. 11.1
      My own hero

      I REALLY DO LOVE HIM BUT I REMEMBER HOW LOVE USED TO FEAL WITH HIM AND I REALIZED HE LEFT ME YEARS AGO. I am a much better person even alone and not nearly the beautiful girl I was I’m much prettier on the inside than I ever was before..I actually like me as a person eben if I can’t look at my face and like it anymore…I will prob get over it eventually…

  12. 12
    Evan Marc Katz

    @Heather – So if a man strings along a woman whom he’s unsure about for two months, he’s a selfish ass; if a woman does the same thing, she’s a saint. Can you see how you’re naturally biased in favor of the woman, when the exact same behavior is taking place?

    @Lorianne – Keep telling men that they’re not all that, that you don’t put up with BS and that they’re not getting any from you. This is the exact opposite of my warmth, generosity and openness strategy and I’d be shocked if you found a guy who felt good around you.

    I’d highly encourage both of you to just absorb these messages, instead of always looking for the negative spin about what’s wrong with men. If I didn’t care about your well-being, I wouldn’t even comment here, but your perspectives on men are only going to lead to more fractured relationships. Leave the negativity behind, for your own sake!

    1. 12.1

      I man does not string along a woman he is unsure of for two months.   The guy Heather is describing is a guy that comes on powerfully strong in the beginning and it can be very difficult for a woman to know how to handle this.  
      Lorianne is simply defining very clear boundaries to thwart the type of guy that will try to hurt her.   She describes her behavior in this way to express these boundaries in no uncertain terms, which some men need.  
      You Evan, need to distinguish between being assertive and protective from being a bitch.   There is a difference.   You also need to recognize that women have to have a range of ways to express being protective and assertive to deal with the range of different kinds of men she will encounter when dating.   There is no universal response that works with all men all the time.   Men, just like women, run the gammit from being a big pushover to being a controlling jerk.   Therefor a range of responses are necessary depending on the person one encounters.  

      1. 12.1.1
        Karmic Equation

        If you’re dating a man where you find you must express yourself this way, then you’re already dating the wrong kind of man. Expressing yourself in such a manner is pyrrhic victory. You haven’t changed anything. You just feel falsely empowered.
        Better to not have date 2 with ANY man you to whom you feel you have to express yourself like this. They are NOT good men. Trust your instincts instead and don’t go on date 2 with them. Or even cut short date one.
        And then go start choosing better men to date.
        Good men don’t need these kinds of warnings. You don’t need to “protect” yourself from good men.
        A good relationship starts with a good choice. Not with choice words.

        1. Christina

          You got that right Karmic Equation, I have been there, Cindy’s need to be assertive and protective will only be triggered if the guy is the wrong fit and makes her feel insecure or uncomfortable.

          It’s tough not to let jerks change my mindset about dating and allowing myself to feel vulnerable/open hearted again. But I would be doing myself a disservice if that happens as well because my eventual goal of a happy marriage will not materialise.

          Many ladies don’t understand this concept of “falsely empowered”, to be truly empowered is when someone has proven himself over time and not the initial chase. Sure, the guy can put in a lot of effort in the beginning, be on his best behaviour for the time being. All this indicates is that he is a possibility, not the one to marry. Also, there are some women or men who enjoy the thrill of the chase, enjoy envisioning possibilities and love falling in love more than falling in love with someone. When these people are actually in a relationship, they feel disappointed at the reality of someone, find no thrills and miss the falling bit.

          It is pretty common for women to fall in love hard and even sacrifice “their beliefs” as Tamara did. The right guy would not want you to sacrifice your beliefs for him, in fact, the right guy looks out for you as much as you look out for him. I do think there are people who get complacent or are clueless from time to time but have a genuine heart, so her responsibility ends as far as to communicate her needs and wants clearly to him. (isn’t mentioned here). If he persist on this road, then all bets are off and Tamara might as well cut her losses because she will not feel fulfilled.

          I also think there is no need to start to see men in general as deceptive or hurtful, it will just prevent you from allowing the right guy to come along.

          Guys and girls alike have to meet some duds before meeting the right one. This could very well make you appreciate a healthy and fulfilling relationship more when it comes along.

          Good luck, Tamara.

          Thanks Karmic Equation for sharing your insights.

      2. 12.1.2

        If a man is coming on too strong in the beginning, that’s a sign of being needy and desperate for something. Why wouldn’t you ask what he is after. Normal human behaviour is to mimick the other person. I’d be questioning what he is so desperate for.

  13. 13

    heheh, boy I’ve had this same problem and I see it tme and time again in women I know. The guy goes nuts in the beginning, girl falls in love, guy gets complacent.

    Next step is girl doing things that are super nice, not because she really wants to, but because she wants him to love her. He feels manipulated, starts to pull away…and on and on and on.

    Yeah, learning not to lose yourself is the key.

    I honestly think this pattern can cause people to end up with a fear or intimacy. Got to just slow things down and alway’s be oneself no matter what.

  14. 14

    IMHO, I didn’t find Tamara’s behavior during the initial two months to be nice or saintly. I don’t think she was sacrificing herself in any way. She simply tolerated him and strung him along, while receiving some kind of emotional payout. Exactly what I do not know. In a way, given her lack of interest in the beginning, and then his near the end, they both got a taste of their own medicine. What goes around comes around.
    Why would anyone “duty date” another person?? Somehow that doesn’t feel right to me. I think it’s misleading. Why give someone? the least you can, but just enough to keep yourself in a relationship, when it doesn’t sound like you’re interested in the first place? What’s the point? If someone doesn’t put in any effort until they know where the relationship is going, how does the relationship truly start to begin with?! And where’s the authenticity? What am I missing here?

    1. 14.1

      I couldn’t disagree with you more.   I have found that men and women have very different behaviors in this situation.     If a man is not initially attracted to a woman, nothing, and I mean nothing is ever going to change this.   Women on the other hand may start out being indifferent but sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes her feelings change.   A boyfriend I had long ago described this phenomenon as “guys fall first, girls fall hardest.”   I think it’s worth it to give any relationship a chance to see where it might lead.   I’ve been very pleasantly surprised sometimes by the guys I became attracted to after dating them for a while.   True, it doesn’t always work but I think it so worth giving it a chance.  
      I’ve dated guys that came on so strong in the beginning of a relationship and it was all I could do to try to be nice and not let it get out of hand.  

  15. 15
    Deanna McNeil

    Am I the only person who doesn’t know what “duty dating” is? Sounds bad. Can a relationship flourish when one person feels like they are there out of “duty”? Shrug, that was a flag to me that Tamara wasn’t approaching this with a positive attitude and EMK’s remarks seemed to agree.? I was so glad that Mika in the comments verbalized something I am still learning…all about me! The more I take responsibility for my own life, all of it, the happier I become. Thanks for the advice you offer here Evan.
    I too wish your wife a speedy recovery 🙂

  16. 16

    @EMK? I can be as warm and generous and open as anyone.?? And when a guy proves that he’s worthy of my love, he gets it, without conditions.? But just to lay myself bare and make myself vulnerable to every yoyo who’s read “How to Be a Player?”? Thanks but no.?? I do not have “WELCOME” stamped on my forehead.

    1. 16.1


  17. 17

    I don’t think Tamara was wrong for giving this man a chance. After all, she did fall in love with him. Some people only want what they can’t have, though, and isn’t that what most commonly-held “theories” of dating are based on, i.e., “play hard to get”, and “men love bitches”? In any case, he was the wrong guy, and often that’s not something we can know after only a couple of months.
    Someone else seemed surprised that she dated him for two months before she became truly interested, as if that’s a shocking thing to do. Seems odder to me that at the point she decided she had feelings for him, he started to turn off, and yet HE kept it going for another SIX months while becoming increasingly disinterested.
    Evan’s right, he doesn’t sound like such a good guy to me either.

  18. 18

    This was a great read. A year and a bit ago, I might have taken the egoistical low road and agreed with the lady, right now i totally agree with your comment. my bf and i had a slump of that nature when my egoustacal friend couldnt stand the mutual respect my bf n i had and would say how i am too nice n how i should be a bitch. needless to say, it was tough being a bitch abd always being unhappy because it was a constant chase, a game that was mentally n emotionally exhausting. i told the friend one day that i was flying solo n worked on the ego issues with my bf. i havent been happier. he is now comfortable to be nice too knowing its no game but is a nice guy with balls who wont let me be all i’m gods gift to royalty. its mature and good. as for the friend. well her ego helped ruin great relationships and she has now settled with someone who couldnt have found a girl anyway. giving isnt such a bad thing. women think giving makes them worthless. in a right relationship giving makes the guy comfortable to want to give in return eventually, it just takes time n patience. men arent all emotional and giving right from the word go as wmen tend to be. great post. hope the girl who sent it getts off her high horse n decides happiness n content relationship is easier n better than a power play of genders

  19. 19

    As difficult as it is for both parties to walk into a new date with no baggage or pre-concieved notions, I think that it has to be done in order meet each other on an equally healthy playing field. Check your baggage at the door, and yes men are vulnerable. We ladies have all went on dates with men who?exhibit their dating?trauma on the 1st date. I just walk away from those situations because they need time to sort it out or heal themself. There are so many theories that could suggest what may have or have not went wrong with Tamara’s situation, and everyone has touched a little on the possibilities. Our individual reasonings and personal experiences are not black or white…I think that she is just going thru that mourning period where we always question what could we have done differently, but unfortunately it was done a little to late after the guy probably realized that she was serious and he wasn’t. Sorry to say, but for all we know he may have been having sex with her just to punish her for rejecting him…who knows…guys have angry sex or just for the chase,?if a guy has sexual a.d.d. don’t beat yourself up about it…just move on.?It wasn’t her fault, other than the early dating went on?with a wall up & facade, that maybe if she wasnt busy protecting herself ..she could have been trying to really take a look at who this guy was in the 1st place. We learn something everytime we get hurt….I hope :)?? I’m no expert as I’m still single, my fault is that I don’t use my “feminine wiles” but I would definatley try to get to know everything about who he is, without making it obvious…in casual conversation..picking up small cues, before you decide to put yourself in a completely vulnerable position. Some vulnerability is necc obviously to build the relationship, but like someone is a give & take

  20. 20
    Ronnie Ann Ryan - The Dating Coach

    1 . Wow – duty dating?? If you aren’t interested, why bother dating the guy? I do believe in giving a man a chance but it sounds liek you might have been daitng this guy, just to date someone .

    2. You don’t give of yourself until you see how things go? I think it’s smart not to overdo in the begining so you don’t scare a man away with too much nuturance. But it makes me wonder if you are you the co-dependent type who gives only to get??Do you bend over backwards to obtain love?

    3. You did things that went against your principles? That’s a danger sign right there. When you compromise your principles, you undercut your self-esteemThat’s never a good thing for yourself or for a relationship

    Evan, I agree with you – Tamara needs to revised the way she looks at relationships and get clear on what? healthy relationship looks and feels like. That’s my focus as a dating coach for the over 40 crowd.

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