Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last?

Do women really prefer rebels, or do sweet, thoughtful men have the edge? Listen in to this discussion for the answer.

By Matt Schneiderman

t’s every single guy’s nightmare: He’s on a date with a woman he digs and he’s doing everything right, from asking “all about her” to paying the check before she’s even returned from the restroom. He calls her promptly the next day for date number two… only to hear her confess that she’s obsessed with some guy, despite his flaws—like never paying for dinner or returning her calls. Indeed, it’s enough to convince any sincere, sweet guy that he can’t win at love… and wonder why, in this day and age, women still fall for that bad-boy shtick? What is it about them that turns women on—and how can a decent guy gain an edge? We asked a couple of experts and three women with bad boys in their past to unravel the mystery.

The panelists:
  • Sherry Argov, author of Why Men Marry Bitches: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Her Man’s Heart
  • Dan Indante, co-author of The Complete A**hole’s Guide to Handling Chicks
  • Lisa Firestone, 22
  • Judy Coleman, 24
  • Marcelle Karp, 41
Q: Bad boys. What’s the allure?
Dan Indante: Women are lying when they say they want a nice guy. Their mothers might want them to meet Mr. Right, but they all want the bad boys. The nice guys are too accessible, and women really want what they can’t have. When a guy treats a woman poorly, it makes her think she can’t have him. It’s the thrill of the hunt, the forbidden fruit.

Sherry Argov: I pin it on low self-worth. The allure is that she believes she deserves a guy who treats her poorly. Two-thirds of women are insecure and will gravitate towards
“My tastes definitely changed. Bad boys slept on futons, good guys slept in real beds—after a while, I started wanting to sleep in a real bed.”
bad boys. Women with high self-worth wouldn’t put up with bad behavior for thirty seconds.

Marcelle: A bad boy has a bit of danger about him—that and if you fall for him, you’ll have a long drop. My first bad boy, Erik, had a quick sense of humor, a tragic family history, and gorgeous green eyes. His best friend Steven had the hugest crush on me and was such a good guy. I went for Erik.

Lisa: As a high-strung type, I was always attracted to bad boys because they were relaxed and didn’t care about anything. I thought maybe it would rub off on me. I dated a guy who dabbled in illicit behavior, and I became mysterious and bad by association.

Q: Are there certain times women are more drawn to bad boys—say, when they’re young and not interested in a serious relationship?
Sherry Argov: Women are more attracted to bad boys when they’re in their twenties. Bad boys put women they’re seeing into a holding pattern where they keep the relationship from progressing. For younger women, this is a way to avoid ever having to get that close.

Marcelle: My tastes definitely changed over time. Bad boys slept on futons, good guys slept in real beds. After a while, I started wanting to sleep in a real bed.

Q: How does a guy give himself away as good or bad on a first date?
Lisa: I can tell if he’ll be a good guy or a bad boy before we even go out. If he’s too shy when we make plans, he’s going to be a lame good-guy date. But if he takes charge and tells me what we’ll be doing, I know I may have found a bad boy.

Judy: The number one sign of a bad boy is someone who says, “We’re just having fun” or “I like hanging out with you”—the same way you’d talk about a friend.

Sherry Argov: The bad boy is smooth, slick—rehearsed. Chances are, he has his con down pat. He’s also impatient with regards to sex. At the end of the night, a bad boy will come on too strong and say things like “You’re a prude,” “You’re too uptight,” “You’re not trusting me.”

Q: Can a bad boy turn good? Or a good guy turn bad?
Lisa: I could never turn a bad boy good, even though I tried and had fun trying. I didn’t want to make him all good—just a little bit so I could have the best of both worlds. But I have definitely turned good guys bad. They’re so eager to please; they’ll do anything you
“How can a good guy gain a little bad-boy mystique? Don’t be too obvious about your feelings for her. Do most of the pursuing—but not all.”
want. Good guys are normally afraid to try fun stuff in the bedroom, but that’s usually the first place I could get them to change.

Marcelle: Once you tame a bad boy, there’s nothing bad about him—he becomes human. The really, really bad boys could never be scared straight, though.

Judy: I succeeded in turning a bad boy good once. We dated for six weeks, during which time he was flaky and treated me badly, until he ultimately broke up with me. But we never fell completely out of touch. He says he wants to get back together, calls regularly and checks in, and his tone is completely different. But he had his chance, and he blew it.

Q: Can a good guy get a little bit of the bad-boy mystique? Should he?
Sherry Argov: A little bit of bad boy is OK—like salt in your diet. Don’t be too obvious about how much you like a woman; leave her wondering a little bit. Do most of the pursuing, but not all. Keep her guessing about your whereabouts to a certain degree. Be a little bit mysterious.

Dan Indante: He should save the chivalry for his mom or sister. When he’s out on a date, the woman should wonder a bit about how he feels about her—like, if she weren’t there, someone else would be.

Q: In the end, who really wins: the nice guy or the bad boy?
Sherry Argov: The good guy—who is also smart enough to sustain intrigue by keeping the woman guessing a little bit.

Lisa: I’m with someone now who’s a good guy with a hint of bad boy. He’s not afraid to challenge me, but he’s totally trustworthy, supportive, and treats me right—none of which I’d get with a bad boy.

Judy: The guy I’m dating right now is a hundred-percent good guy—and I could not be happier. I don’t have to ever think about nice things he could be doing for me, because he’s already done them.

Freelance writer Matt Schneiderman has written for Stuff and Sync magazines. He is a pretty good guy.
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