DO NICE GUYS REALLY FINISH LAST? YOUR GUIDE TO BEING JUST ENOUGH OF A JERK.

I hear it all the time. “Why do women only like jerks?”

It’s the battle cry of nice guys everywhere lamenting their sweetness stigma. Treat a girl like gold and she walks all over you. She loses interest. She tells her friends she’s just not that into you. Make yourself inaccessible, mysterious and aloof, and BAM! She’s all over you. Ignore us and we’re giddy, be a player and we drool. It defies logic. It sucks. And also, it’s mostly your fault.

There’s a difference between being a good guy and being a Nice Guy. Good guys are decent, know they can get laid by other women, but still choose to be with us (swoon). Nice Guys don’t exude the confidence we look for telling us that they’re a catch. Nice guys put it all out there too soon, don’t leave us with anything more to learn about you down the line, and usually go home alone. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In order to determine the exact right equation for precisely how much Jerk + Nice Guy = You Getting The Girl, first we have to start with the basics, boys. And that all centers around one indisputable fact: There are two kinds of women out there. Those that have learned-slash-matured, and those that haven’t yet.

In the spirit of female camaraderie, I’ll add this disclaimer…No judgment regarding the latter group. None whatsoever. It’s just that whether your nice guy ways bore us or bait us has everything to do with what side of the invisible line that divides every female’s dating life we happen to be on.

In the simplest of terms, it’s not you, it’s us.

When we’re younger, we love the chase. The “Does he or doesn’t he like me?” intrigue. The sick challenge of whether we can be the one to capture your full attention and reform you, or whether you’ll cling to your bad boy ways. Let’s face it, broads dig the drama. (I know, I know, we suck). But at some point, whether it’s in our late 20s, early 30s, or just after we’ve endured one too many crying sessions, we throw in the towel and put both feet over the line.

From then on, if you dog us, lead us on or just don’t appreciate what we have to offer, you’re dead where you stand. Dating roadkill, it’s true. You can be as much of a nice guy as you’d like, because we’ll just keep lapping up how fantastic a guy you are, lucky for us. We’ll never look back or stop to pine away over the jerks in our rear view mirror. The trick is knowing which side of the line the girl you’re into is on, and only you can be the judge of that.

But then, most of you won’t encounter this evolved type of girl in your daily dating lives anyway. Unless you were born before 1985. So for those of you still dabbling in the former group, here’s what you need to know about mastering the nice guy handicap.

*Always start out nice. When first we encounter you, be on your best behavior. Seem engaged in our conversation, interested in our company, and generally just be yourself. We need this initial reassurance to want to pursue something romantic. Then after you’ve gotten our attention, you can always dial back on the good guy routine.

*Be available, but not too available. There’s a fine line between making us feel like a priority, and making us feel like the only thing you have going on in your life. When planning a date, get at least one face-to-face in the books. This gives us just enough of a sense of who you are to get us hooked. But the next time we try to arrange a meet up? Be busy. Tell us you’ve got a work thing, you’ve got a friend’s dinner, whatever. Then suggest another day, perhaps next week.

Just leave us anxiously waiting to see you again (but not for too long), so that when we finally do, we’re excited. Try to always leave us wanting more. And it wouldn’t hurt to be the first one to call it a night, either.

*Remember the big things, like what our siblings’ names are, but forget the little things - like how we went to a wedding last weekend out of town. Oh, you did? Oh I hadn’t even noticed that we didn’t speak, I was too busy having a fun weekend with my friends. Oh right, you did say something about that. It’s not like I was sitting around wondering how many of the groom’s single friends you were dancing with and when you’d be back home or anything…

Repeat after me, boys. Play. It. Cool.

*Text, don’t call AT FIRST. But after you’ve hooked up? Call, don’t text. This shows you respect us. Also, ask us about our day when we do speak. It shows that you care what’s going on in our world. But make sure to space those calls out, and let us be surprised to hear from you when we do. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Also, it makes us wonder what the hell you’re up to or if you’re thinking about us, too.

*Introduce us to your best friend, but make sure we see that your other friends (read: female “friends”) are an active presence on your Facebook page. Women always want what other women covet, and your appeal will skyrocket if you seem like there are other prospects circling you, too.

*This goes double for your phone and our perception of your dating life. It wouldn’t hurt if you appear to receive a text or two while you’re with us, even if that text was pre-arranged with a buddy or comes in the form of a work email. Allow me to clarify: I don’t want you to actually BE texting other girls or multi-tasking other females at the same time that you’re pursuing us. But it won’t kill us if we wondered if you were. In a non-possessive, psycho way, of course.

Striking the right balance to get us hooked on you is all about figuring out just how much “jerk” to inject into the nice, respectful routine. Not the other way around. I repeat: NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. Because in the end, if you’re too much of a prick, i.e. treating us poorly when we’re together, the only girl that’ll be responsive to that is one with fundamental self-esteem issues. She’ll seek your approval because she lacks confidence, and derives much of her worth from other people. Yikes…major yikes.

The girl that lets you be too much of a jerk feeds off of drama, and not to sound like your mother, but you don’t want those girls anyway.

So don’t sweat the nice guy label, unless you’re only in it for the one-and-done hook up. In that case, D-bag away my friend, because tons of women fall for that shiz every day. But it’s beneath you, or at least it should be. The wise man knows when it’s time to grow up.

And hey, there are always outliers. My own personal dating experience strongly rebuffs the conventional wisdom that nice guys finish last, as every one of my ex-boyfriends have been bona fide sweethearts, total gentlemen and nice guys to the core. (Well, not every single one, a bad apple or two may have snuck in, but only by accident). But, I realize that this anomaly is the exception and not the rule, so ignore my penchant for good guys and stick to the advice above.

Whatever you do, recognize that we only get bored when we feel like it’s too easy. And hey – you guys should be familiar with that notion, you’re the ones who perfected it. So keep us guessing, keep us hungry, but keep being (sorta) sweet, too.

Because dating isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and you’ll want to have some nice guy gas left in the tank when we finally step over that line.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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THE FRIEND ZONE – POPULATION: YOU.

When it comes to relationships, there is no more dreaded “F” word in the English language than “friend.” As in, “oh he’s just a friend” (and not in a Biz Markie kind of way, either). Whether or not you’ve heard about the Ladder Theory, as I myself hadn’t until about a year ago, you’re probably still familiar with the idea that some people just seem to be branded with a capital “F” that won’t wash off, no matter how hard they try.

For the uninitiated (read: women), the Ladder Theory says that, while men have one hypothetical ladder, with women occupying rungs based on a hierarchy of hotness and how-badly-do-I-want-to-sleep-with-you-ness, women have two ladders. One is for men we’d consider romantically, while the other is for those we only consider friends. And never the two shall meet. So, employing that logic, if you occupy real estate on the latter ladder (sorry, it was too easy), you’ll likely never make it onto our relationship radars. But, I tend to think that logic is flawed, and I’ll give you a bevvy or reasons why.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve written about this topic before, and I’ve detailed all of the things that can relegate you to a life of Friend-dom: Being unmanly, too man-icured, a deadbeat man, etc. Basically, anything with an obvious “man” pun in it fits the bill. But, just in case this is a late-stage intervention and you’re already deeply entrenched in the Friend Zone, there are some things you can do to disentangle yourself from the vines of a platonic relationship.

I promise, it’s not entirely a lost cause.

First and foremost, let me reiterate the idea that you have to change the way we see you. Even if you’ve already been dubbed a womanizer in our minds, or a slacker, a metrosexual or a wimp, you can still try to distance yourself from those titles, if that’s what you want.

As I keep repeating over and over on this site, I’m the biggest proponent of the philosophy “Don’t listen to anything he says, just pay attention to what he does.” So, you can start showing us that you’re not whatever you’ve been labeled by making your actions contradict all that. Take some initiative in your career, clean up your appearance, whatever. Just take action, and stick with it.

But there are some other ways to flee the Friend Zone, too, and they are the following:

Determine why you’re in it in the first place, if you’re unsure: How do you do this? Easy, find a trusted source (read: a female friend, preferably one that both of you share) and get her to spill. A woman who is even remotely compassionate will help you out, especially if she thinks that, barring this one impediment, you’d be a good match for her friend. She should be able to nudge you in the direction of what the roadblock is without running straight back to her friend to betray your trust. Also, if she gets the feeling that what’s keeping you there is unable to be fixed, she should also give you a heads up, if she’s kind…and especially brave.

What’s unable to be fixed, you ask? Fundamental differences. For some people, it’s religion (but that’s another post entirely, and one that’s forthcoming), for others it’s your career path (i.e. your club promoting ways are too much for her to keep up with, or your job causes you to uproot and move every two years, etc). If the issue is your career, try dropping hints that you don’t intend to keep that pace (or job) for life, and will eventually settle down. This helps reassure her that she won’t have to ride that roller coaster with you.

Still other reasons would be that you used to date someone she’s very close with, therefore rendering you untouchable. Or maybe your marital past or the fact that you have a child (we’re not that young, it’s plausible) is more responsibility or baggage than she’s willing to take on at this point. If so, you can’t blame her for that. People get there when they’re ready. No sooner, I’m afraid.

Or it could be something physical holding her back, like height or weight. *Note: Miss Wingman doesn’t believe that height is really an across the board deal breaker, unless the difference is REALLY egregious. If weight is what keeps you platonic, unless moving you requires a fork lift, emergency personnel and door removal, it shouldn’t be that big a deal. If it is then trust me – you don’t want that woman anyway. Also, I’d reconsider even being friends with someone so superficial, for what it’s worth.

Or maybe there’s a slight chance that you’re just too awesome for her to risk losing: If what you two have is the kind of thing movies are made about, perhaps she’s scared that hooking up will destroy your good thing. Guys have been known to let sex ruin friendships, so it’s also a possibility that she’s terrified of what would happen if things didn’t end up working out (read: you freaked and went all “guy” on her). If that’s her fear, then that’s a valid reason for pause.

Maybe she thinks it’s the other way around, that it’s you who’s put *her* into the Friend Zone, and she doesn’t think she can get out: Are you really shy? Do you tend to not be overt with your flirtation? If you haven’t made it clear that you’re into her “like that” despite spending ample time with her, or if you’ve been known to date a steady stream of 9′s and she’s afraid she’s a few points shy, this could also be what’s stalling your romantic progression. Try to make it clear that you want more, if she’s into you she’ll get on board.

Or if it’s a new person in your life, don’t fret: The best relationships start out as friendships, so if you’ve just come onto her radar and she’s not all over you, be careful not to assume that it’s because she’s not into you. Maybe she just needs a minute to trust and get to know you, it doesn’t mean she won’t try to move things along once she’s comfortable with you (and when she does, you’d do well to reciprocate, and fast). But, if it’s been over six months and still a cold spell, then this description may not necessarily fit the bill.

Whatever the reason that you’ve seemingly planted your flag atop Mt. Friendistan, if you want to change addresses then heed this advice: If you want her, then go out and get her.

I know, this may sound borderline restraining order-worthy, but what I mean is that for some women, especially the mature ones, sometimes the best quality a guy has is how much he loves you. As in, the sexiest thing a man can prove to a woman is that you’ll do what it takes to stay in her life, and that you won’t change your mind when something shinier/better comes along. If you’re really serious about your intentions, she’ll see it and give you a chance, at least most of us would anyway.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I think in matters of love, it’s never too late and nothing is written in stone. Well, almost nothing. You should do your damndest to change your situation if you believe in it enough. You just have to ask yourself one question before deciding whether or not take the leap: Is she worth it? Only you can answer that.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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