I was the consummate “nice guy” in college. I gladly befriended many women, not to actually be their friend, but to work my way up to “date” level of romantic interest. After time, when that didn’t happen, I became frustrated and angry, proudly (and crankily) proclaiming I didn’t need any more female friends! So am I still nice today? Well…you’ll have to skip to the end to figure that out.
So, ladies, if you are reading this, let me just tell you now: if you are thin and relatively attractive, odds are a lot of your guy friends would date you and that may be why they seem so interested in your friendship. As I explain in the book Eleven Dating Mistakes Guys Make, this is a bad way to be a friend, and a horrible way to get to “boyfriend.” (Dear guys: women don’t owe you a date…being nice to them as a ruse just to get a date isn’t going to work. And being “nice” is the basic requirement for being a decent human being: it doesn’t mean a woman has to give you anything!).
But back to our male readers: it is pretty much assumed that “nice guys finish last” in our society, because that is what we see all around us. While many women still claim to look primarily for guys that are nice when choosing romantic partners, for the most part, even among women, it is a common joke about how fun “friend-zoning” an overly nice guy can be. And even women that may say they want a nice guy often end up falling for edgy “bad boys.”
Thus, as any “nice guy” can tell you, despite what we have been told in school, church, and by our parents, niceness alone won’t get you dates. It won’t get you ahead at work, and it barely even wins you friends. In short, despite everyone saying how important it is to be nice, everyone knows that niceness is overrated as a strategy for life success.
Recently I finally figured out why. Niceness has nothing, and I mean nothing, to do with attraction. Not a thing. In fact, being too nice might actually make you less attractive, because by agreeing with her all the time, or being extra passive, you are showing you are not confident, and therefore not a good “provider and protector.”
Do the screaming throngs of Justin Bieber fans care whether he is nice or not? Not one bit. Do fans of famous actors stop being fans if they treat somebody meanly? Not likely. Men think the same way. Who are you more likely to date, the hot blonde bitch you met at the club or the friendly obese girl you met while shopping? When you fantasize about a girl, does her level of niceness even come into play?
Obviously, men and women both prefer to be with nice people. Even women who perpetually date jerks probably don’t like the meanness associated with this. What they do like, however, is that the guy is attractive to them. Jerks set off many of the “attraction” buttons in women. He is exciting. He is charming. He is “does his own thing,” and may be handsome and in good shape. He has traits like dominance and (pseudo) confidence that turn women on. Even though he may scream at her in public, treat her like crap, stop her from seeing her friends, cheat on her regularly, and even once broke up over text, he is so hot and wild in the bedroom, everything becomes okay.
Attraction is a limbic system function, which means it happens in the older parts of our brains, which we share with lower animals. So, just as a peahen can’t help but want to mate with a peacock with the largest and most vibrant colors, we find ourselves mysteriously drawn to people that the advanced parts of our brains know “aren’t good for us.” The peahen doesn’t care whether the peacock is a nice guy or a cock (I just had to throw that joke in!), just that she wants to mate with him.
The same is true of attraction in people. The advanced part of our brains (the neocortex) knows that the best person for us is nice, calm, and stable, but our limbic systems are telling us the hot and exciting person is what we really want. And guess which is going to win? The older parts of our brains. Why? They are the parts of our brains more closely linked to our survival. Mating with a confident and dominant guy has been more important to survival throughout human history than mating with a guy who is adept at solving math equations.
Sure, today the female neocortex knows that the dominant jerk may be bad for her, and settling down with the accountant good for her, but good luck telling that to her limbic system which evolved during a really long period when the dominant guy (who could provide and protect her and her offspring) was the best bet for survival in the jungle (or desert or wherever). Most accountants I know wouldn’t last a second in the jungle. Most bad boys wouldn’t either…but their behavior signals to the female limbic system that he would.
So, being nice is great. I’d much rather deal with you than some jerk. Being nice just has absolutely zero role in the attraction process. So, to get a date, you’re going to have to do more than be the nice agreeable guy. You may have to actually try to be attractive. If so, you are in the right place. Take a look around our website.
And…am I still nice? Well..I am a pretty cool guy. I treat people right, but I prefer “cool.” If all you have is nice (the basic requirement for existing peacefully in society)…you’re going to be dateless.