Although I primarily work with men, my dating coaching brings me into contact with both men and women. Typically, I speak in front of large groups of women and they like to corner me and ask me questions about guys. They want an honest, insider perspective about the men who drive them crazy.
One of the biggest questions I’m asked is this: why are men players? It seems that everywhere I go women want to know. Almost all of them have stories of guys they like, and in many cases, love. But, the guys won’t commit to them. Instead, they are players who cheat on them with other women or “date around.”
The Player Paradox
I have two friends. One is pretty good looking, has a great job, and is funny and charming. He has lots of women giving him attention and he’s pretty upfront that he’s dating around. But, most of the women lament that he’s a “player.” They want him to settle down with them, and he won’t.
The other guy, however, is chubby, works an average job, and is shy and a poor conversationalist. He only wants to get into a long term relationship and find love. But, he’s lucky to get a single match when dating online and spends most of his days perpetually single.
This represents what I call the “Player Paradox.” It’s the fact that women tend to find the player types most attractive and pursue them. Then, when they won’t commit, they complain about how the guy is a player. But, paradoxically, they don’t usually want to settle down with the boring guys who want long term relationships or marriage.
So, let’s be clear. Not all guys are players. Not even all the attractive guys are players. But, a lot of the attractive guys you’ll like will be players. Here is why.
They Have Options
If you go buy makeup and have no money, you’re probably going to buy the cheapest brand. You might be able to pick between a couple of cheap brands. But, you’re not going to be able to load up on several types of amazing makeup. This metaphor explains why some men are players: they have options, so they exercise them.
If a guy is very attractive and has a lot of women lining up to date him, then some of them will pick the best of the bunch and tell the rest to go away. However, not all guys will pick one. So, instead of choosing one of the many, they prefer to exercise many of their options, whether “dating around” or a series of short term flings. In fact science backs this up: attractive people have shorter term relationships.
These guys are conscious players. They actively choose to pursue their options, whether openly or covertly.
They do this for a variety of reasons. Some guys want a lot of sexual partners. Others like the attention from a variety of women. Some guys are just jerks who enjoy the thrill of gaming women.
Paradox of Choice
However, not all guys consciously play women or seek to do it. Many men end up being players due to what psychologists call the “paradox of choice.” I know this article is heavy on paradoxes, but, with men, nothing can be easy.
The paradox of choice states that when people have too many options, they will be less satisfied with the choices they make and sometimes refrain from making a choice at all. And, why would a guy who has 10 women throwing themselves at him even bother to make choice among the ten?
Many regular guys find themselves with dating options and they turn into players because they simply don’t want to make a final choice. They might even genuinely like all of the women they’re dating. But, they don’t like one well enough to make a final choice. Or, maybe they don’t like any of them enough to stop dating around.
If this drives you crazy, just remember that women do it too. At some point in your life (maybe now!), you probably were messaging multiple guys, many of whom liked you more than you liked them. Guys do the same. It’s no fun when the shoe is on the other foot, though.
Women have complained about men being players since the dawn of time. You can see it throughout myths, religious texts, literature, and the historical record. It’s because desirable/masculine men ending up as “players” is a result of male evolution, and this is shown by the fact that testosterone levels in men are a good predictor of sex partners. And, throughout history, women have desired commitment from these guys, often not getting it.
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Evolution has given women a limited number of eggs that disperse over a relatively short number of years. So, eggs are valuable and offering one to a man is a huge investment. When you consider the 9 months of pregnancy and the difficulty of raising an infant, you can see why women would be wired to be very choosy and want a guy to commit to them.
On the other hand, men will produce roughly 500 billion sperm and can distribute them multiple times a day until old age. Men are literally built by biology to spread their genetics often. And, in many cases, they are going to do it. For example, do you think the guy you’re dating is a player? Compare him to Genghis Khan, who is the ancestor of 16 million people alive today. He really got around.
Obviously, as humans, we can move past our evolutionary history in a way other animals can’t. However, we are still driven by biology and evolution far more than we are willing to admit. I’m just pointing out that, on a basic level, biology ensures that many women want commitment and many men want to remain free to have sex with multiple partners. It’s an interesting dynamic and is the true battle of the sexes.
Women Let Them
When I look at my two friends I mentioned earlier, they are a huge contrast. One guy wants a committed relationship, but he can’t get it. The other doesn’t want to settle down, but he has multiple women chasing him. So, when women ask, “why are men players?” I often ask them to look in the mirror.
As mentioned earlier, paradoxically, women find the high value guys with options the most attractive. So, they chase them.
And, online dating makes this worse. If you look at data from online dating apps, most women are interested in the same 10% of men. So, you may think it was a great decision to only swipe right on those five guys (out of 50) who were handsome, used good grammar, and made six figures, but guess what? Every other woman is doing that.
That gives a guy more options and only validates his player behavior. It’s basic supply and demand. If a guy can act like a player, and have a constant stream of women coming to him, then he has no incentive to stop his behavior.
I’m not blaming the victim here, since there really are no “victims” of consensual activities. I’m just making the point that if you’re complaining about dating players, then ultimately you can do your part to stop bad player behavior by refusing to give them what they want. Not only you, but also other women.
Granted, most players are slick and able to manipulate. So, I’m aware that by the time you realize you’re being played, your feelings towards the guy are already well-developed and highly “complicated.”
So, this article should answer your questions about why men act like players. You might not like it, but at least you can understand men a little better.
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