Can a ‘Nice Guy’ Ever Beat the ‘Bad Boy’?

A man asks Eli and Josie how to win the attentions of a woman whose other crush is a “bad boy”.

Originally appeared at She Said He Said

Dear Sexes: I am in competition to get a woman and my competition is a bad-boy. Please help me.

She Said: Why are you in competition? Is it the dating Olympics? Sounds weird. Not you, you sound fine. But the idea of pitting two guys against one another seems weird.

But assuming that there’s a good explanation for competition, I do have some thoughts. If you were to put on some affect to try to win her over, then once you won you’d have to continue some charade and that would be a nightmare for both of you.

So be yourself.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t gain some competitive edge. It never hurts to act a bit aloof. I don’t mean Pick-Up Artist bullshit. But try to show only about 85% of what you’re feeling. Be kind, be open, be interested in her, be funny. But try to take any element of desperation and just lock it up in a little box when you’re around her. Once you’re apart from her, journal all that excitement and desperation or tell a friend. It’s not good to lock it up, but you don’t have to share it all with her.

And the desperation isn’t innately bad… We all have that element of desperation when we really like someone. That’s what makes sex with someone new so freaking delicious—-that grabbing, clutching, eye-gazing, heavy-breathing desperation. That desperation also can have a bad side. Picture Pepe LePue from Loony Toons. If at any point in your interactions you find yourself doing anything that ol’ Pepe would do, back off!

Be sweet, be nice, be affectionate… You can do all of that and channel your inner cool. Just make sure it’s still you and not some guy you’re trying to be. Know what I mean?

He Said: Are you a bad-boy? Does this woman like bad-boys? There’s no rules in love and war, so if you’re desperate, take your safety gloves off and out bad-ass this bad-boy. Bad-ass behavior will surely get you noticed. But it won’t guarantee you the girl. The best path here is to be yourself (sure, it’s cliche, but it’s also true). You want this girl to like you for the man you really are, not for the adventurous jerk you can pass as for a couple weeks of courtship.

So, get a stupid tattoo if you must. Get into a bar-fight (and upload the video to youtube) if you the opportunity presents itself. Buy a motorcycle (NOT a Vespa) if the mood strikes. If this dream girl isn’t worth laser burns, black eyes, broken bones, sun damaged skin, and wind damaged hair, then just be your regular self, and see how things turn out.

Got a question for Eli and Josie? Ask it here!

A comment from this post was made Comment of the Day.

Photo of man bringing flowers to his girlfriend courtesy of Shutterstock
About She Said He Said

Eli and Josie, friends since college, realized how lucky they were to have one another—an honest friend of the opposite sex who tells it like it is. They wanted to share that with the world and so was born.


  1. Here is the truth. Women feel “sexy” with a bad boy. This guy releases their inhibition and allows them to experience freedom, at least their perception of freedom. This guy is confident on the surface, and seems like there is nothing he cannot dominate, right up until he is faced with any responsibility outside of his immediate self. The woman, believes that she is in the process of landing the biggest stud that in no small way plays into her natural tendency to reproduce with what appears to be the best possible mate. She believes that “love” will harness all of this alpha male bad boy studdiness and he will settle down into a transformed bad boy to great man. The problem is that the bad boy is really a child who has created the bad boy identity to hide deep and problematic self loathing issues that are tied to childhood attachment issues. Almost exclusively, these guys will bed women well in to their 40’s, and some might even get married, and then wham! The curtain is raised, the woman figures out that their stud mate is an immature child incapable of the most basic elements of being a man. If they have children, that only magnifies the issue for the female. She becomes distant, he feels that inner loathing and probably goes off to nail some other woman looking for a bad boy. Eventually, woman 1 finally comes to the conclusion she needs to end the marriage-relationship, which is a relief to the bad boy, and she ends up in her late 30’s early 40’s trying to restart her life all the while hating men in general for her poor decisions. Convinced all men are horrible, she perpetrated hate andtakes little responsibility for causing the mess to begin with.

  2. Jamie Parsons says:

    Well, first of all, it isn’t a competition, it isn’t a game and women aren’t prizes to be won. You aren’t in competition with a bad boy.

    And in answer to the title of the article, yes, good guys can win, unless of course you think all your male ancestors were complete dicks and everybody who dares to be nice ends up sad and alone. The nice guys finish last stereotype is really getting annoying.

    And if you think yourself nice and get annoyed by the women who prefer bad boys to you, why don’t you try and go for women that aren’t attracted to these bad boys? I’ve been looked over by girls I’ve liked before, but I’ve also turned down girls that have liked me before. And the girls who have turned me down haven’t necessarily ended up with ‘bad boys’. It’s actually quite a tiring stereotype.

  3. icanonlybejm says:

    Stephan and John D hit the nail on the head. Timothy, your understanding of women is quite limited. I’m a woman in a relationship with a good guy, the kind Stephan described- he’s observant, thoughtful, assertive and strong. He’s confident while remaining humble. He doesn’t start fights but he’ll finish ’em.  He is as strong as he is gentle & I find that incredibly sexy. It doesn’t hurt that he’s good-looking, talented, smart, etc. 
    I didn’t choose him because I wanted to settle down. I chose him because I was enamored by him, because I found him interesting, because he turns me on, because he makes me laugh, because I can be myself around him, because he treats me like a queen & makes me feel beautiful even when I’m sick. I chose him because I wanted to spend more time with him, kiss him, love him. I chose him because he treats people with respect, he tips well, he loves his mother dearly. I chose him because he is not threatened by a strong, beautiful woman with dreams (his mother meets this description)- he motivates me & I am a better woman because of him. He is one of my closest friends and it’s a distinct honor to have him by my side.  Who was I turned on by before him? Women. I’m rarely interested in men past platonic friendships- good, bad or anything in between. I don’t know why there was & is such chemistry between myself & this wonderful man I’m with, but I did know I had a choice- to not pursue my feelings or to follow my heart and see what happens.
     I don’t consider myself gay or straight or bi- I just am me and I’m in love with a person who is a man, a very good man who I hope to be with for many, many years. I don’t mean to confuse anyone but I needed to point out that: not everything is black & white and nice guys don’t always finish last.  
    As far as the kind of women that flock to the “bad boys”- those women still have plenty of insecurity & other issues to work through and wouldn’t be able to appreciate a good person and a healthy, loving relationship. “Bad boys” are the ones who are afraid to get hurt so they’d rather not open up their hearts & care. Some of them used to be good guys but got jaded. This refusal to move on is a sign of weakness that only blocks the evolution necessary to attract a good person who is capable of appreciating another good person & ready for a healthy, loving, and, ultimately satisfying, relationship. 

  4. Timothy says:

    Women who say they are in long term relationships with ‘nice men’ are the ones who have had a fair share of Bad Boy c*ck (the men they were REALLY attracted to ,sexually) but either couldnt secure them for long term or realized its not viable to settle down with them. Later they rationalize by saying they have ‘matured’

    Whats interesting to note is that women get the best of both worlds. They get to have their fun with sexually desirable men ad settle down with an ideal LT mate as well. Women get both options in the realm of dating, sex & relationships.

    • Jamie Parsons says:

      I love how you generalise so much. Every woman who has a ‘nice’ boyfriend/husband has been around the block with bad boys huh? What shit.

      And yeah, saying bad boys aren’t ideal long term mates and nice guys aren’t sexually desirable is equally as stupid and sterotypical. And who is to say men don’t get ‘the best of both worlds’? What an idiotic, generalistic statement.

  5. I enjoyed this article and I like the advice that was given. In my opinion women do want a “good guy” but they don’t want a punk or a pushover. If a man can learn to be sweet, kind, and attentive while still being assertive and putting his foot down when necessary, then he can beat the so called “bad boy”. Too many men are either super sweet or just a big asshole. The guy who can learn some balance will be desired by many women in my opinion.

  6. William says:

    Funny thing is acting aloof IS Pick-Up Artist bulls…
    It’s sad that we’ll ignore a person’s message just because of the image they portray.

    If “yourself” isn’t confident, is desperate, is anti-social and lacks exprience with woman, than the advice “Just Be Yourself” isn’t gonna do you any good.

    A Bad Boy has the positive qualities every woman wants in a man.

  7. The best advice I could offer the guy in this scenario is to repeat this refrain in his mind and eventually come to believe it..”It’s no big deal if she doesn’t like me. I am a good man and will find someone else.”
    When you believe that statement you will not be shackled by fear of rejection and are more likely to display confidence, which is a positive trait most women are attracted to and respect. Men should let women choose a bad boy if they want and not shame them or resent that decision, just like women should not resent men for choosing a bimbo. It’s not an outright rejection of you or an indictment of your qualities as a mate. Its just 1 person deciding what they’re interested in at a particular moment in their life. It may be a mistake, they may regret it, but that’s not for you to determine. Live your own life and don’t fear the decisions that other people make which are entirely out of your control.

  8. sugared says:

    I have been torn between a “good” guy and a “bad” guy, so I can imagine that the woman in the scenario is still attempting to make her choice. There’s nothing here to indicate whether Mr. Bad merely enjoys being cocky or is a thoroughly bad lot, and nothing at all on the crux of the matter: whether either man can provide this woman with what she’s actually looking for. Maybe she wants a wild fling that she knows won’t last but will result in great stories to tell. Maybe Mr. Good just isn’t the right man for her. I wound up saying farewell to both men when I was in that situation, and looking back, I’m glad I did. But you can’t go into this with a “why do girls always go for bad boys?” approach as it’s not only unproductive, it leads to troubling implications about people and relationships. Approach it as a “what is this woman looking for, and is it something I want to provide?” question.

    • “…you can’t go into this with a “why do girls always go for bad boys?” approach as it’s not only unproductive, it leads to troubling implications about people and relationships.”

      You cut to the heart there. Something no man would ever do advising another man. We’d treat the problem as pure cause/effect, action/reaction. We might reason to ramifications. But implications? Never. Not in the world of relationships. That is Pandora’s box…

  9. Forget about the other guy. What’s he got to do with anything? If she likes you, she likes you. Just do whatever you’d do if he weren’t a factor – because he really isn’t. (And if she’s the one who keeps bringing him up, then either she’s already made her choice or she’s being a jerk.)

  10. This is really awful advice by both the man and the woman. Want to know the most important difference between a bad boy and a nice guy? A nice guy asks what can I do to win this girl. A bad boy either sees himself as the prize or doesn’t believe women are a prize. Why are you fighting for a woman’s affection? They aren’t magical angelic creatures made from God’s tears. They are human beings, just like men are. She is no more worthwhile than you. The problem nice guys have is they put women on pedestals and themselves in a pit.

    • PursuitAce says:

      There’s nothing wrong with nice guys. Their rightness is not determined by the opinion of either gender. If they tend to think women are great than that’s alright too. And when bad boys get out of hand who do you think takes them out? I’ll always go to war with a company of nice guys versus a battalion of bastards. Still have any questions see “Band of Brothers”.

  11. Terence Manuel says:

    Why is there such a paucity of comments from women on this piece?

    I would think they would have a fairly unique perspective. I think I know the answer. But, I will keep it a secret:)-

    • PErnaps we just know folks like you will tell us we are wrong when we tell uou we love good men and nice ones to boot. I married one. The whole women wNt to fuck assholes gets so tedious. Also, the question provides no details to comment on.

    • Yeah. A lot of us are just sick of being told what we like and not being believed.

      • Most of the time what women say is at odds with their actual choice. I tend to judge someone based on their deeds not their words.

    • U If Woman here. Frequently, the problem with guys who identify themselves as “nice guys” have less confidence than “bad boys”. Furthermore, these guys tend to lack a certain…. slightly scoundrelry lustre in their eyes. Which is not to say that I want an asshole, but I do want someone who will flirt, be witty, charming, suave. In the bedroom, I do not want a guy who is too afraid or insecure to read my hints and trust that I mean what I say. Occasionally, I want a man who will (pretend, frankly) that he is the dominant one.

      Advice? Be yourself, as everyone else is saying, but start faking confidence (note: confidence does not equal cockiness. Cockiness is displayed by insecure guys and is obnoxious). As a girl, I have to assume that a man I’ve just been introduced to know himself better than I know him. And if-through being insecure, having poor posture, etc – you communicate that you don’t think you’re worth it, then why should I? I know that’s not entirely fair, but it is nonetheless going to be used as a measure, and not just in dating. It’ll also affect your future employment, raise negotiations, etc. Again, it’s not fair, but start faking it until one day, you realize that you truly do deserve it. Also, do try to start meeting others. Dates are not solely to win her over but also to see if you two truly fit.

  12. (R)Evoluzione says:

    If you’re asking yourself how to keep one specific girl, you’ve already lost. Men with the abundance mindset don’t think this way. The irony is, when you don’t need her (i.e., are not needy), she’ll be much more likely to dance your way. But again, the idea of doing any particular thing to ‘win’ a particular girl, you’ve already put her value above hers. Better to start over.

    Go out and meet a bunch of new people, male & female. Expand your social circle. Stretch your wings, do new things. Meet 2 or 3 (or more) women who tickle your fancy, start exploring what you really like in a woman. Explore what it’s like to manifest the best of yourself. Then you will know what abundance is like, and won’t bet likely to settle.

    • AnonymousDog says:

      “Meet 2 or 3 (or more) women who tickle your fancy……….”

      How does one do that, exactly? If it were possible for a guy to meet women at will, dating would be a lot simpler. Just having an ‘abundance mindset’ does not create available women where none existed before.

      • Speaking as a recovering Clingy Clyde myself, I can’t see just snapping into the abundance mindset. Try that as a Clingy and you’ll convince yourself the next step is to totally devalue women as humans and go full PUA. Which will leave your heart projectile vomiting like a 14yo who’s just snuck a pint of dad’s bourbon.

        The way out is slow and steady. Self-acceptance, starting with the idea that it’s OK to accept yourself (honestly, that stops a lot of people right out of the gate). Then practicing it when it fails, because it will fail, but it is always OK to gently pick it, and yourself, up again. In the process, desperation fades to a background hum instead of a daily siren call. This is where it’s possible to begin the abundance mindset – that there are a world of good people to know out there, exactly half of whom are female.

        The line you have to walk now is to constantly balance your expectations, needs and fears. Even after self-acceptance, it’s easy to stay by yourself if you have a history of it. You need to drag yourself out, gently but firmly, and often. You need to learn it’s a journey, and learn to enjoy the journey. You need to keep the goal of “relationship” as an ultimate – not for now, but to be easily and steadily approached, always in the background until such time as…well, I can’t help you know the right time. It’s different for everyone, and besides, I’m 45 and still recovering.

        Oh and! Bad boys are just another flavor of the Great American Asshole. You don’t need to be involved with assholes in any way. Especially not letting them live rent-free in your head, grinding out butts on your heart.

  13. Terence Manuel says:

    My Dad taught me to never get in a pissing contest with a skunk. Because, even if you win you’re going to still smell like shit!

    It is a lost cause for him. These are the men women throw themselves at until they reach their 40s. He has harem probably, but she still does not care.

    Later in life she will go this emotional thingy and start bitching, moaning, and whining about the paucity of good men. Blah, blah, blah. She isn’t worth it.

    You’re wasting your time. Her mind is already made up. There really is NO competition here.

    • You can tell all that from the description of her? Did I miss the part where he described the woman in some way?


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