Nice Guy vs Bad Boy- What Does She Want?

Dear Toni--

There is something about dating that I just don't understand. I believe in being a gentleman on a date, and treating a woman like a lady. I can treat a woman to a nice evening and enjoy what I think is a mutually good time. However, when I contact her for a second date, I usually get the "you're a nice guy, but you are not my type" answer.

I have been dating for a long time, yet I still can't figure out what women are looking for or the qualities they expect in a man. Even though women tell a man they are looking for a nice, honest guy who doesn't play games; I have a theory that women are subconsciously looking for a "bad boy" who is sexually aggressive and sometimes treats them badly.

Am I doing something wrong and should I adjust my dating game plan?
--Coming In Last

Dear Coming in Last--

Your question is a very good one.

Let me start by saying that women really do LIKE to be treated well. They find manners and thoughtfulness a turn-on. Who wouldn't? However, there are many layers to this and I will attempt to address these.

Relationships move forward when there are several things present. Romantic love requires friendship, respect, sharing, AND attraction. If any of these is not present, the relationship will not progress. First dates are a kind of screening process. We "interview" the other person to see if they could be a good match for us. We consider:


similar goals

general compatibility

ease of interaction


ability to communicate

religion, race, political affiliations, etc.

Being a "nice guy" should help you pass that question with an A+.

However, nothing (and no one) is simple and uncomplicated. There are the issues of challenge and excitement. Some women (and men) require a larger dose of these. They can't be as turned on if the other person is too readily available. This can be a sign of immaturity, low self-esteem, or just a lack of readiness for a real relationship. Whatever it is for the other person, it should be a red flag.

The problem is in knowing what is really going on with a particular date. Is it that she is not ready? Maybe you present no challenge and she cannot feel an attraction because of this. Or perhaps, she just didn't feel the right mix of chemistry with you on your first time out together.

Whenever there is a pattern, you should be asking the question you asked. However, the answer lies not just in the women you date, but also in how you choose them, and what your attraction is. This is an area that I recommend you take a closer look at. Are you choosing women based on a very narrow list of criteria? An example would be, very attractive, thin, masters degree or higher. If so, I suggest you open your mind to dating women who don't appear at first glance to possess the EXACT qualities or criteria you now seek.

There are many attractive, available, wonderful women out there looking for a "nice guy" like you. Don't limit the possibilities.

Check out my article on this subject at:

(from June 2004)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"Haunted by HER Past Sexual Encounters"
List of more
"Compatibility Issues"

"Is it Religious Incompatibility or Something Else?"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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