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Ask a Lady: Sugar, Spice and Dudes That Are Nice

"Nice Guys Finish Last." A decent Green Day song, sure. But a universal truth? Hardly.


- Author

So what exactly makes a "nice guy?" To be clear, I'm not talking about spineless doormats; I'm referring to respectful, amiable gentlemen with interesting lives and unique opinions. These are the guys you want at your dinner parties, the guys you want to introduce to your parents, the guys who take showers and clip their fingernails. Well, that seems like a decent portion of the population (I think), so maybe it’s best to define what nice guys are not. Nice guys are not the bad boys—which is to say they’re not the aloof, mysterious, skulking body in the corner looking to bag another babe out of sheer boredom. And bag he will. The bad boys always do. Meanwhile, the nice guy’s still standing there, holding a beer, talking to some buds, being, well, nice. 



The Bad Boy vs. Nice Guy paradigm is certainly one of life’s crueler ones, a confusing and unfair battle so old there are countless songs and Google search queries bemoaning our senseless gravitation towards jerks. And given the success rate of the former, there seems little incentive to being decent when it comes to dating.

As a girl who has, time and time again, fallen for bad boys—you know, guys with tattoos who ride motorcycles, drink too much, have sad eyes... the Jim Starks of the world—I take full responsibility in helping perpetuate this disparity. I’ve had a small handful of nice boys treat me, well, nicely. They returned my text messages, invited me to dinner with their friends, talked about plans two months in advance. But—and I’m ashamed to admit this—there’s nothing quite like winning the affection of a bad boy. Why? Well, you feel like you’ve earned it, like you've bested one of those carnival games that is rigged for failure, the odds skewed so impossibly out of your favor. That’s what the bad boys are: a ring toss from hell with a .000005% success rate. The nice guys, meanwhile, seem like a sure thing; and this girl loves a challenge… even if it usually ends in tears.

So, what if you're what society would deem a "nice guy?" Should you switch up your game? Start treating the ladies poorly? Of course not. If you're the type who fights back urges to introduce a girl to your mother by the third date, faking your way towards bad boy status just won't work. Plus, forget everything I’ve written for a second – there are lots of great ladies out there who’s given up the games and nonsense of the bad boys for good. (Strong, they are.) After all, good guys are the guys to settle down with, right? 

But whichever camp you fall into, there is one bad boy trait that nearly all ladies love. And that, dear friends, is mystery. And achieving it is simple: Show restraint. (Yes, even if you want us to have your babies 15 seconds after buying us a beer.) Don't respond immediately to our text messages. Carve out solo time for yourself and stick to it. Be attentive, but make us wonder (just a little) if you'll be around next weekend. Yes, practice the art of mystery, and you’ll likely find yourself edging forward in the race – without feeling like a real jerk.