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Do Women Really Prefer a Man Who Treats Them Mean?

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Most men who consider themselves to be ‘nice’, will tell you that at some point they’ve pursued a woman, only to find themselves fast tracked to the ‘friend zone’. But is this really because women want a guy who treats them mean, to keep them keen?

Over the last few weeks, I have been carrying out some research on this by getting different women’s opinions and by carrying out research online, in order to find out if there is any truth in this.

Firstly, my research online led me to a paper that was published in 2003 by Urbaniak and Kilmann. They carried out 2 studies to try and find out if women preferred ‘nice’ men. In the first study that was just based on the level of niceness, they found that the ‘nice’ guy was selected far more than the ‘jerk’. In the second study, they also factored in physical attractiveness to see if this had an impact. They found that despite the ‘jerk’ being more physically attractive, most of those asked, still chose the ‘nice’ guy. However, the ‘jerk’ did get a similar number of votes when they were looking at one night stands.

The above contradicts the saying, but there are other factors to take into consideration which Urbaniak and Kilmann also talk about in their report: “If these men pursue women more aggressively than do nice guys, they may end up with more overall dating successes (especially sexual success) through sheer determination. They may be more able to ‘talk women into’ dating them, even if those women would ideally prefer to date nicer men,”.

They also talk about how although a woman wants to meet a nice guy, nice on its own is not enough to sustain a relationship if other factors are missing: “Women are likely to reject even men who are nice if they do not meet other expectations, such as sharing similar interests or having other exciting/interesting personal qualities. Niceness by itself may not be enough in a real dating context, and the overall “package” presented by these men may be lacking in some way for which their niceness cannot fully compensate. Hence, the notion that “nice guys finish last” may actually be a misnomer for “dull guys finish last—no matter how nice they are.”

After looking at this report I then spoke to women of different ages and relationship statuses to get their thoughts on this. Nearly all of the women I spoke to agreed that ‘being nice’ was an absolute essential quality when looking for someone to have a romantic relationship with, but that they felt that they would also need to have things in common with them, and would need to still be sexually attracted to them to a certain degree. However, most of them did state, that when it came to having a fling or a one night stand, they would base their decision purely on physical attraction. A few of the women I spoke to though, did interpret the word ‘nice’ to mean ‘boring’, ‘passive’ or ‘needy’, and explained that these were definitely not attributes they would want in a prospective partner.

After carrying out my research, I feel that some men don’t have as much luck with the ladies as others, but not because they are nice. I have found that most women do want a ‘nice’ guy, so I feel it is more down to the other factors. I think it is the bigger issues that cause some men to strike out, such as lack of confidence or appearing too available. My advice to all the ‘nice’ guys out there would have to be, to ensure that you still have a wide range of interests, and try and find the balance between being ‘nice’ and being too passive or full on. However, keep positive, as this does show that nice guys can, and often do, strike it lucky!

Written By: Liz Harwood


Urbaniak, G.C. & Kilmann, P.R. (2003). Physical attractiveness and the “nice guy paradox”: Do nice guys really finish last? Sex Roles, Vol 49, No 9/10: 413-426.