Do Nice Women Finish Last? Absolutely Not!

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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,

Tamara

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.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Dria

    Oh my!? I am SOOOOO glad you wrote about this topic, Evan.? My boyfriend and I have been dating for 3 months, but we have been friends for years.? Last night, he was kind enough to sit through a program with me that I knew most men would not enjoy-including my own.? It was tied to community service I perform in the local community, and because he knows how important my civic interests are to me, he not only attended, but he also refrained from complaining about the length of? the program-although he had a very early flight this morning.? Take my advice ladies, Evan KNOWS what he is talking about.? He has saved me from making many mistakes with this wonderful man, and Evan has truly directed me in alleviating the “negative spin syndrome”.?When?my guy?returns from long trips (he travels with his job) I make certain that I do something extra special for him each time. ?I do not know whether my guy and I will marry, but he is truly a dream boat- and he happens to be one of the “nice guys”.? Thanks, Evan.

  2. 22
    Chery

    I was in a similar relationship to Tamara’s?last year that ended in September…it has taken me 6-7 months to finally see that it wasn’t me being too nice or caring it was that he wasn’t the right person for me because he didn’t appreciate what I had to offer and I agree, that was his “fundamental flaw.”? Keep the faith ladies, I’m going to stick with the mindset that there are still good ones out there that will appreciate all we have to offer! Have a great week!

  3. 23
    Karl R

    Lorianne said: (#10)
    “in my experience, men respect me when I let it be known upfront? that I don?t think they are all that,”

    By reversing the Pick-Up Artists’ strategy you will have exactly the same kind of success that they do.

    PUAs?get plenty of one-night stands. They get plenty of short relationships where the men get what they want out of the relationship (usually sex).

    That’s why I don’t have any interest in what?PUAs do. My goals are different. They don’t teach men how to build a sustainable long-term relationship. Some of the PUAs’ strategies seem to sabotage that kind of goal.

    Lorianne,
    If you want a series of short-term relationships, you’re probably on the right track. If you’re looking for a long-term relationship, you’re approaching it the wrong way.

    Lorianne said: (#16)
    “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.”

    There are some daters (men and women) who play games. There are some who don’t. If you start the relationship by playing games, you’re going to keep the interest of the men who play games and?lose the men who don’t.

    After you spend enough time with one of these game players (the ones who are hooked on “the chase”), you’ll either realize that’s what he is (and ditch him), or you’ll mistakenly believe he’s worthy of your love and open yourself up to him unconditionally.

    The game is over. The chase is done. What do you think will happen next?

    Lorianne said: (#16)
    “But just to lay myself bare and make myself vulnerable to every yoyo who?s read ‘How to Be a Player?’ Thanks but no.”

    It’s possible to avoid playing games without throwing yourself heart-first into every relationship. I don’t have to be emotionally involved at all to tell a woman that I find her attractive, that I enjoy being with her, that I think she’s a wonderful person.

    If the lady doesn’t reciprocate, if instead she tells me that she doesn’t think?I’m “all that,” I move on to another woman who is more interested. There’s no point in wasting my time and energy on someone who is clearly not interested.

  4. 24
    sayanta

    Lorianne-

    Just curious- I assume you have female friends- when you meet a new woman, do you automatically act distant and unfriendly just in case she might be a bitch who might sleep with your husband (for talking’s sake) at some point down the road? I hope not. And for some reason, I doubt you do that. See- it’s the same line of thinking re: men.

    Putting up your defenses is exhausting, and it tends to drain? your warmth, friendliness, and everything else that makes people want to get close. Take it from someone who’s learned that the hard way.

    1. 24.1
      Cindy

      Again, there’s a range of responses needed for the wide variety of men out there and situations a woman can encounter.   No one size fits all.   Sometimes one needs to be very assertive but usually this is not necessary.   I tend to naturally be more of a giver in a relationship, as a result I still believe I need to keep up my guard.   I strongly suspect that women that have been criticized here are the same but they describe their situation in a way as to “talk tough” since the wounds are still fresh.  

  5. 25
    Joe

    I read a book years ago by Judith Sills, called “A Fine Romance” that describes stages of relationships.? Her theory is that there is an initial pursuit phase, and at some point there’s a Switch phase, where the pursuer starts to retreat, just as the pursued person is warming up to the pursuer.? At that point, the couple enters the Negotiation phase where they work out their differences and whether or not they can continue together.? The OP’s case sounds like a Switch to me.

    Oh,?also: I know this is teh intarweb, but I’m sure I’m not alone in that if?a post isn’t reasonably formatted, making it difficult to read, I just skip over it.

  6. 26
    JerseyGirl

    I don’t like “bad boys”. And I don’t like “nice guys”. I like “good men”. I suspect it’s the same for most women and men. However, sometimes external factors sway our perception into wanting to believe someone is good when their not, and unfortunetly, sometimes it sways us into thinking someone isn’t good that might be. Being “nice” isn’t enough and?I wouldn’t want it to be either. Can you imagine the romantic?wedding speech there? “I married her/him because she is so nice”. Boring and passionateless.

  7. 27
    Lorianne

    @Karl — I have been played exactly once in my life.? I learned my lesson and I haven’t been played since then.? And I don’t do one night stands.? So to answer your question, no, I don’t let down my defenses just because someone is patient about being a player.? There has to be more to it than that.??? I have several men friends as well.? I actually like men and get along well with them.? I just don’t let them get away with BS.
    ?
    @sayanta — yes, I do have female friends.?? But I don’t trust anyone immediately.? For me, trust hast to be earned.? I was betrayed, badly, by people I should have been able to trust when I was quite young,? so trust is a major issue with me.? My closest friends understand that.? Casual acquaintances, not so much.? But no, I don’t act distant and unfriendly with ANYONE initially.?? On the other hand, I do tend to be reserved, and that does put some people off.? But I figure that’s the price to be paid? for keeping myself emotionally safe, and I’m willing to pay that price.

    1. 27.1
      Christina

      Lorianne,

      I understand what you mean. I am in that phase myself – finding a good balance of trust and being realistic. We do go through different phases, sometimes we prefer to be more protective because we are still healing and cannot afford to be so vulnerable. I do also believe trust begets trust. Love is a risk, just like anything else. Sure, we all meet some duds. We might feel betrayed and hurt. But I have found that when someone does that to me, the best thing I can do for myself is to not lose faith in future possibilities. That doesn’t mean I don’t need time to think, recoup and recover. I will take the time but I know that especially since that person has taken away so much already, even more so I should not let him/her take away my faith in people. That will be the saddest thing for myself. That said, the right person will work through this with you if you at least trust enough to explain why you are in this phase and be patient while you work things out. Sorry to hear about your past, I hope you find the special someone who can be there for you, earn your trust and have a fulfilling relationship.

      Good luck.

  8. 28
    Honey

    The LW’s logical fallacy is called post hoc ergo propter hoc (after the fact, therefore because of the fact – aka “false cause,” “coincidental correlation,” or “correlation not causation”).? It is simply not the case that because his loss of interest occurred after she opened herself up to him, that his loss of interest necessarily occurred because she opened herself up to him.? It just means, as EMK and others here have observed, that he’s not the right guy for her.

  9. 29
    sayanta

    Lorianne-

    Ok, do what suits you. This is going to sound a little new-agey, but the price of having a closed heart is high. Then again, you’re willing to pay that price, so I guess it’s all good.

  10. 30
    Honey

    It’s impossible to tell what happened?for sure from the letter, mostly because she doesn’t explain how/why they finally broke up – who ended it, etc.

    However, it’s definitely possible that during those first two months, the guy was going out of his way to make her happy and doing things that went against his beliefs in order to be with her.? Perhaps?once she started caring about him, he assumed that things would be more balanced.?

    If she wasn’t willing to do that (or if she did it grudgingly and with poor grace),?it could be that the relationship ended when (after 6 months) he didn’t receive the same amount of compromise and consideration that he’d given for the first 2.

    Again: obviously impossible to tell for sure, since she doesn’t give many details about the breakup.? But definitely a possible interpretation.

  11. 31
    Ruby

    Nothing wrong with Tamara giving this relationship a chance to develop, but it sounds like her initial instincts that the guy wasn’t quite right were accurate after all. I think women are often told to give a man a chance, even if we aren’t feeling it. The thing is, the man we’re not all that into can end up being just as much of a jerk as one we’re crazy about. And I also agree that compromising your beliefs is never a good idea.

  12. 32
    Kelly Seal

    Hi Evan,
    Really nice article.? I’m glad you pointed this out, because dating is confusing enough with all of the games.? If we enter into a relationship with the expectation that the guy will not treat us well, likely it will happen.? And NOT treating him well first to avoid it seems silly when you think about it…of course it’s disaster waiting to happen.? Respect, kindness, and compassion are fundamentals of healthy relationships.? Manipulation and fear only cause us to avoid real intimacy with a partner.

  13. 33
    Shay

    Hmmm…I think its not right to swing to?either of the?extremes. Like “not putting in anything at all before knowing where the relationship will go” or giving it all up front.

    I always remember what Evan said about the mirroring. I guess its same thing in the emotional aspects. I won’t determine so quickly to like or not like a guy.

    Slowly, upon discovery then I guess I will mirror the guy’s efforts as trust builds up. Opening up and trusting is a gradual process. Not all or nothing. Unless, of course, I totally don’t see myself?with the guy for long.

  14. 34
    Laine

    Relationships are never at a standstill, but? are either moving closer together or moving apart. This is known as? relationship dynamics..or the dance that continually goes on between a couple. It is needed to have? healthy relating between a couple, in fact to have a loving and exciting relationship. Trouble occurs when it becomes unbalanced and one party starts to do all the pursuing, and the other distancing. The energy and control shifts. If you are aware of this, you need to pull back a little from the distancer. Just enough to give a healthy psychological space. This invites the one doing the distancing back toward you.

    It sounds like the beginning of? Tamaras relationship was unbalanced…and now the balance of power is shifting to him. This can develop into a more healthy dynamic…but the psychological space is needed. I do not believe it is helpful to suggest that men/women are the wrong one for us..but rather take responsibility for our own behavior and accept how often this very behaviour is what pushes a partner away.

    So Tamara, I dont think all is lost. Just pull back a little and create that space and see what happens.

    Good luck !

    1. 34.1
      Cindy

      I really like that response.   I think it is right on the mark.  

  15. 35
    Selena

    I think this was a case of Tamara’s guy revealing his “true colors”.? Many of us are on our ‘best behavior’ when we?start dating someone new, we want to make a good impression. As the relationship becomes more comfortable, our truer selves are revealed-flaws and personality defects included. This guy likely knew instinctively what it would take for him to win a woman, then when he got her he could relax and be himself -? a guy who puts in?only the?minimum effort to keep her around. Two to?6 mos. sounds about right for that to happen.

    Tamara thinks because she was mainly indifferent during the first two months, and more into him the next 6, that influenced his behavior.? That if she’d stayed indifferent, then he would have stayed eager and attentive for the duration of the relationship. I disagree, I think he would have become tired of pretending to be a great boyfriend and reverted to his true self regardless.?An example of the ?”correlation not causation”? fallacy Honey wrote of in #28.

    1. 35.1
      Cindy

      I disagree.   Let’s just look at this from his point of view for a change.   This is what I think happens in this situation.   Could this guy just be a player?   I guess it’s possible but I don’t think so or perhaps it might have started out that way.   I think he really, really liked Tamara.   So much so that he pursued her like crazy and did whatever he could to win her over because   he just couldn’t help himself, he fell for her.   I’ll bet her indifference increased his attraction to her because as we all know, we want what we can’t have.   Is this his fault?   Is this her fault?   NOOOOO!   Tamara was indifferent to him…. because that’s how she felt about him, she didn’t try to be indifferent, she tried to be nice to him even though she wasn’t all that attracted to him but with all his pursuing she tried to make him happy and give it a chance.  
      “In return, I gave him the least I could to keep him in the relationship.”   Oh my God, she is such a cold bitch!   Really?   Or is that just how you react when you’re trying to be nice to the guy for the sake of giving it a chance and dating someone that treats you well in the hopes that maybe it will turn into something.  
      Is it this guy’s fault that he liked Tamara so much?   NO!   He just did.    
      “A wise man said, only fools rush in, but I can’t help falling in love with you.”
      Then a magical thing happened and Tamara’s feelings started to change.   Then as Laine and Joe said, everything just flipped around.   That’s a natural phenomenon.  
      There’s a couple of things to keep in mind here.   This initial stage of a relationship will not last forever.   This guy is not going to worship you for all eternity but you have to work out this flipping around of the power / attraction in the relationship and the harder you two fall for each other, the harder it is to do this.  
      The best way for a woman to handle this situation is to try to pace the relationship.   Try not to see too much of him in the beginning and try not to loose yourself in the process.   This is so much easier said than done.   It’s easy in the beginning but it changes.   If and when that fails, as Laine said, distance yourself and see what happens.   That will tell you whether there is anything there or not.  
      I also take issue with whoever implied this was a one night stand, Tamara was not “played.”  
      This sounds to me like two people who fell kind of hard for each other but people can fall out of love too.  

  16. 36
    Jennifer

    #11 Mika- Love your comment. And I agree, it’s all about figuring yourself out first

  17. 37
    Kat Wilder

    Honestly, this relationship sounds dysfunctional from the beginning who wants to go out with someone you’re not into, who only gives “the least I could to keep him in the relationship” and only get swayed when he starts doting on her?

    Um, Tamara needs to grow up; there’s nothing loving or kind about her attitude.

    What it does reek of is game playing and one-upmanship. That’s not a relationship (although I’ve seen my share of those. Shudder! )

    And if she doesn’t put any effort until I know where the relationship is going , I don’t blame any man for running away … fast. She’s toxic or insecure or both.

    It’s not all about you Tamara, ever. Might as well accept that.

  18. 38
    Rivke

    Ok, I admit I haven’t read every single comment here, but…if anyone has read Rori Raye’s philosophies…I personally find them quite helpful and totally apropos to this situation. Basically, masculine energy is “giving” energy, and feminine energy is “receiving” energy. It sounds like Tamara started to give so much that there was no room for her man to give to her, as he had initially, so he was stopped from being “the man” in the relationship and lost interest.

    If you “lean back”, leave your heart open and allow a man to come to you and give, then you can receive and give back, and I think that is the ideal “dance” in a relationship and keeps the passion going.

    When women fall in love, I know from experience that my tendency is to want to do a million nice things, shower my man with affection and tell him how amazing he is. These things are great and shouldn’t be censored completely, but at a certain point you just have to leave some space between you for the man to make his own moves. Wouldn’t you want your man to feel INSPIRED to come towards you, because you are so amazing at living your own life, rather than always having to go after him to get some attention??

  19. 39
    Diana

    Rivke, I recently started reading Rori’s philosophies, and Tamara and her situation crossed my mind, too. Interesting! 🙂 Her letter seems to show that she went from one extreme (receiving, but indifferent, making him work harder) to the other extreme (giving too much and smothering any efforts he might would want to make, so why bother). The energy flow, or give and take is a delicate balance that is sometimes hard to successfully achieve.

  20. 40
    Laine

    Whats all this about Ronnie Ryan ? That was the point I was making @ # 34 🙂

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