Back when I was first looking for love, I often heard a lot of dating advice that made me feel uncomfortable. I always heard that “nice guys finish last,” and that in order to be attractive, you needed to act like a jerk because — supposedly — women secretly love men who mistreat them (even if they tell you otherwise). Then, after the first date, you should wait… um, how long was it… three days before you call her. That way she won’t think you’re needy and she’ll start to miss you. Or something like that.
Hearing all this really terrified me. As an INFJ personality type and a highly sensitive person, I didn’t want to act like a jerk in order to make myself more attractive. I could never intentionally hurt someone else, and I was afraid that I would have to behave that way if I wanted to find love.
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It’s not true, is it? Do women really prefer to date jerks? Do nice guys finish last?
Self-Proclaimed Nice Guys Usually Aren’t Nice
You might hear men complain, “I’m a nice guy, but women don’t like me.” The reality is that self-proclaimed nice guys tend to not actually be very nice. As Dale Carnegie writes in How to Win Friends & Influence People, the infamous gangster Al Capone never thought himself guilty, but instead saw himself as someone who helped others. Nobody thinks that they’re not a nice person. However, someone who is genuinely nice doesn’t need to tell people that. If someone calls themselves “nice,” you ought to take that with a grain of salt.
What does it really mean when a man calls himself a “nice guy”? They’re really saying that their “niceness” entitles them to a woman. To them, relationships with women are transactional. He treats her like a friend by being close to her, being supportive, or doing favors for her. However, he may not be doing this out of the goodness of his heart or because he genuinely wants to help her out. He may have an ulterior motive. To him, he thinks that he’s accumulating brownie points by spending time with her, and that someday, he’ll be able to cash them in and win her over. And then if he can’t, he complains that he’s in the “friend zone” and that women prefer to date jerks. Because he’s a nice guy. Or, at least he thinks he is.
Of course, relationships don’t really work that way. Just because you’re friends with a woman doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s eventually going to be interested in you romantically. If you do find yourself falling for someone who you’re close to, let her know! Hopefully she’ll reciprocate, but you should be open to the possibility that she won’t and be strong enough to accept that.
She Might Not Be Looking for Anything Long-Term
If you’re looking for a relationship, you probably have some qualities that you hope to find in your ideal match. For example, Brenda Knowles wrote that her ideal partner would be intelligent, have a willingness to help, be respectful and validating, understand her need for space and connection, and be both sensual and kind. Those are all great qualities for someone who you’re hoping to have a long-term relationship with.
On the other hand, how much of that matters if you’re just looking for someone to have a casual fling with? None of it! It wouldn’t matter whether or not he can connect with you emotionally or be willing to support you. It doesn’t matter how kind he is. Really, all that matters is whether or not the two of you are attracted to each other.
Imagine that you’re a man who’s looking for a one night stand. That scantily-clad woman at the bar who’s flirting with all the other guys might catch your eye. Now imagine that you’re looking for a girlfriend or a lifetime partner. Does that woman still seem like the kind of person you’d want to introduce to your mom and dad? Probably not.
It’s not too different for women. If she’s just looking for a hookup or short-term fling, she might be into that one callous guy at the bar who acts dominant toward all the other men there and seems full of himself. However, if she’s looking for someone who’s boyfriend-material or husband-material, then those same characteristics might be a turn-off. Instead, she’ll go for the “nice” guy.
She Might Not Be Well-Grounded
Finally, there actually are some women who will go for jerks. A female friend of mine whom we’ll call Rebecca is one of those people. Rebecca has been single for a long time but she would like to find a boyfriend. However, she mostly goes out with jerks or “bad boys” who end up treating her poorly. Invariably, she ends up getting hurt and eventually breaks it off with him only to find another jerk to go out with. If Rebecca genuinely wants to be in a relationship, why does she keep doing the seemingly illogical thing of dating jerks?
Even though I respect Rebecca, I have to say that she’s one of the most self-centered people I know. Most of her other friends are the same way. As the saying goes, “water seeks its own level.” The people she surrounds herself with reflect her own personality, and the men that Rebecca goes out with tend to be as self-centered as she is. Rebecca isn’t self-aware enough to realize that she can be self-centered, nor is she able to see this in the men she goes out with until after they end up hurting her.
Some women do seem to prefer dating jerks. Maybe she enjoys having drama in her relationships. Maybe she believes that she can make him change. Perhaps, sadly, she feels that she deserves to be treated that way. Maybe she reads too much into fiction such as Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey and she believes that’s how relationships actually work. If she does enjoy dating jerks, then she’s not coming from a place of feeling whole or grounded within. Women who truly love and respect themselves won’t put up with men who don’t treat them well.
Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last
Is it true that nice guys finish last? Of course not! When I went on dates, I found that I succeeded when I behaved authentically. How do you behave around the people you are comfortable with? What is it that they like about you? Those same traits are what’s most attractive about you when it comes to dating. As an introvert, you have your own strengths that are uniquely yours. You may be more creative, a better listener, and more perceptive than many extroverts. Play to your strengths!
Don’t worry about the idea that nice guys finish last. In reality, women appreciate someone who is genuinely nice and doesn’t have any ulterior motives. There aren’t enough men like you out there.
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