please help me be a nice guy and still get the girl
January 2, 2013 6:01 AM   Subscribe

Can the hive mind confirm that men need a dark side to seduce women ? I’m a nice guy and I’ve not been lucky in love. Have I not been lucky in love because I’m a nice guy ?

I’m male, early 40’s, never married, I’ve had some relationships, never moved in with anyone. Way too often for my taste, girls I meet "like" me or even like me but they do not love me.

I suspect my personal history is at least partly to blame : being a first-born, growing (a little bit too) close to my mother with a loving but shy and kindly lovingly dominated-by-my-mother father. I tend to believe that this way of growing up without a strong male role model made me someone who can and will listen to girls and even advising them on their relationships. I have more female friends than male friends. Whenever I need relationship advices I have a network of female friends who will lend me sympathetic ears.

My Myers-Briggs type is somewhere between INFP and ENFP. I have a mix of curiosity and empathy that makes me the kind of guy who will tirelessly listen to sobbing stories and offer advices.

One has never enough friendship but I think I have mastered the art of making female friends. Now, for once, I’d like to be able to seduce at least one woman.

I've been told (by a woman) that I need to show more of a "dark side" to seduce women. Where on earth do I find that dark side in me ? How can I even be sure that I have one ? Can the hive mind confirm that this dark side is absolutely necessary to master the art of seduction ?

If that « dark side » is indeed necessary where/how do I grow one ? I don’t want to betray the nice, empathic person I am. My sensitive side has given me so much in the past I don’t want to lose it.

I’ve seen some therapists at various stages in my life. Should you advise additional therapy could you say exactly, precisely what kind of therapy you have in mind ?
posted by Baud to Human Relations (64 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Have I not been lucky in love because I’m a nice guy ?

I can absolutely guarantee that any problems with your love life are not caused by being too nice. The Nice Guy / Friendzone fallacy is a particularly pernicious one, and I recommend abandoning it as soon as possible.
posted by miskatonic at 6:05 AM on January 2, 2013 [120 favorites]

You should perhaps read this for an expansion on miskatonic's statement up there. Also: Captain Awkward, all of it. Or at least all of the dating-advice bits.
posted by Andrhia at 6:10 AM on January 2, 2013 [11 favorites]

First off, fuck nice. You're someone's friend. That's not nice. That just is.

Second, you absolutely don't need a dark side to seduce women. Women have a whole host of things that interest them. A man having confidence in themselves is a more universal turn on than a man having a dark side.

So be honest with yourself why you're hanging around with your female friends. Is it because you want to have a relationship with them, but you're too insecure to ask them on a date? Get off the fence and realize that it's not wrong to ask for what you want. Get shot down. Move on. Be honest with yourself and others.

And do yourself a favor and google "nice guy syndrome". Avoid that.
posted by inturnaround at 6:11 AM on January 2, 2013 [21 favorites]

I've been told (by a woman) that I need to show more of a "dark side" to seduce women. Where on earth do I find that dark side in me ? How can I even be sure that I have one ? Can the hive mind confirm that this dark side is absolutely necessary to master the art of seduction ?

This is a horrible, disgusting, juvenile, and sadly pervasive myth. Please don't fall for this utter bullshit.
posted by elizardbits at 6:11 AM on January 2, 2013 [67 favorites]

Mid thirties woman here dating an almost-40 year old male for over a year now.

I've been told (by a woman) that I need to show more of a "dark side" to seduce women

-------> Can I suggest a revision to this?

I've been told (by a woman) that I need to show more of a "dark side" to seduce THAT women at which is not only a red flag, but means I should run the other way.

No. Seriously!

Nice guys rock! Relationships don't need drama and secrets and darkness to survive and thrive. They do need honesty, happiness, no drama and positivivity.
posted by floweredfish at 6:13 AM on January 2, 2013 [13 favorites]

Absolutely untrue. What you need to do is to forget all the pop psychology IENFPDwhatever, stop thinking about anything in your past being 'to blame', and stop thinking about being a 'nice guy'.

I was a 'nice guy' once, and it does something absolutely horrible - it makes you feel like you're entitled to affection and/or sex because you're nice - regardless of whether someone wants to give you them. You might not realise it but this is definitely something that gets picked up on by members of the sex you're interested in, and they find it very offputting. If taken far enough it can result in resentment and worse.

Instead, find something you love doing for its own sake, and do it with other people. People are attracted to other people who have common interests - shared experience is really good for building bonds. Then you can ask one of the friends out. If you want to do a bit of flirting first, that's fine.

Honesty REALLY is the best policy.
posted by fearnothing at 6:13 AM on January 2, 2013 [44 favorites]

I am a nice guy and I am happily married to a woman who loves me in part because I'm nice. I'm not aware of any dark side unless you count all the shit I resent from my childhood that I've kept bottled up for years and years.

If you're unlucky in love it's not because you're nice, unless you're so nice that you let people walk all over you. I would look elsewhere for any faults you might have. Also, just being nice isn't enough. Being nice is sort of the average. You need to stand out.

Be nice and interesting.
posted by bondcliff at 6:13 AM on January 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

Being genuinely nice will not impede you. Being a doormat will. So will pretending to be nicer than you really are because you think it will score points. So will pretending to be less nice than you really are because you think it will score points.
posted by Longtime Listener at 6:15 AM on January 2, 2013 [13 favorites]

Noooooo, nobody needs to seduce anyone, ever. In fact it's a bit of a 70's porn douche-chill word isn't it? I took the liberty of e-stalking your profile (sorry) and you're cute, so that's not the problem. Work out, keep well groomed, keep a good wardrobe, and most of all have enough self confidence to sack up and tell a woman "I like you as more than a friend, what do you think?" If she doesn't reciprocate move on and meet someone else who does.
posted by last night a dj saved my life at 6:16 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

I was a 'nice guy' once, and it does something absolutely horrible - it makes you feel like you're entitled to affection and/or sex because you're nice. You might not realise it but this is definitely something that gets picked up on by members of the sex you're interested in, and they find it very offputting. If taken far enough it can result in resentment and worse.

This is who I used to be. Being a nice guy isn't a bad thing; it's the baggage that can come with it. I used to feel that if I checked every "nice guy" box, then of course girls should flock to me! It was juvenile and selfish, among other things.

Being nice is great. But if you wear it on your sleeve like that, it can be toxic.
posted by SNWidget at 6:17 AM on January 2, 2013

master the art of seduction

As a woman, can I say that seeing seduction as (1) and art and (2) something to be "mastered' is not necessarily an attractive thing? Generally I think the "art of seduction" is meant to get someone home with you for the night, not finding a really rewarding long-term relationship.

You say you want to "seduce at least one woman." For a one-night-stand or for love? Because those are two different goals, and will generate different types of advice from people.

Personally I'd ask you, if you are looking for love, where and how are you meeting all these girls you end up friends with? Maybe you're meeting girls who are only looking for one-night-stands, and if you're not the type to want that (which is fine -- I am not that type of girl, either) then of course you're ending up with just-friends out of those interactions.

Find confidence in yourself, find things to involve yourself in that mean meeting similarly confident women with similar interests and goals in life, and make sure you're finding ways to hang out with single women. If you're friends with so many women, why aren't they introducing you to their single friends? Have you asked for feedback on why this is? Have you asked them for feedback on how and where you could meet women that would be right for you?

Being "nice" is sort of a minimum for being... you know... a decent human being. Being dark and mysterious will get you a certain type of woman for a certain type of relationship but, if dark and mysterious is not who you are, that will not be a long-term fulfilling relationship. I like what bondcliff says -- be interesting. If you're not currently interesting to the women you're hanging out with, find a way to meet other women to whom you will be interesting. There are lots of women out there. They are all different. Find the ones that are right for you.

Also, advice for "nice guys" everywhere, a wonderful quote I saw somewhere as part of this discussion, "Women are not machines that you put 'nice coins' into until sex comes out."
posted by olinerd at 6:18 AM on January 2, 2013 [38 favorites]

It is confidence, not darkness, that is attractive. But are you really wanting to just seduce women, or do you want a relationship with one?
posted by tomboko at 6:19 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Not a guy, but I have, uh, seduced women and done so without a dark side. I reckon that lesbian and bi women are not *that* different from straight women. I have also been seduced by women, no dark side apparent for either of us. Confidence? Yes. Being interested and interesting? Yes.

Being "nice" is not the same as "do whatever the other person says, always agree with them, laugh at their unfunny jokes, etc." To me, being nice is being kind, listening, not being manipulative, using words to make your feelings clear, and so on. It's been a winning plan for me.
posted by rtha at 6:20 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don’t want to betray the nice, empathic person I am. My sensitive side has given me so much in the past I don’t want to lose it.

Whatever you think you will get out of somehow imposing changes on yourself, such as being "dark," "interesting", whatever, will not be as valuable as what you yourself have described. You're not missing out on as much as you think you are. Also, you don't need to "stand out." Otherwise we wouldn't have so many very average people falling in love with each other all the time!

Agreed with many other commenters that you shouldn't be listening to a lot of sob stories. That's people dumping on you, not you being "nice." Every so often, it's OK to offer a sympathetic ear, but don't let this become your primary mode of being with people. Tell people you'd rather keep it positive, and if they don't want to listen, you have something on the stove or have someplace to be.
posted by Currer Belfry at 6:21 AM on January 2, 2013

I see a lot of statements here about how goshdarned NICE you are, but not a lot of actions to back that up. Mix of curiosity and empathy--how do you demonstrate that? (If the sole way you demonstrate that is by listening to women's relationship troubles, in the hopes that they'll realize you'd make a much nicer partner, that's a problem. ) Just saying that you have a particular trait doesn't automatically make it so. You don't need a "dark side;" you need to actively show that you're a good person, and that your "niceness" isn't just a means of trying to get dates.
posted by ActionPopulated at 6:22 AM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

You are starting off with the flawed assumption that men need to "seduce" a woman in order to charm/fool/trick her into giving you sex or a romantic relationship.

You've obviously had some romantic relationships and are probably vaguely aware how to find one, if that's what you want. So what exactly is your problem, here, that you're trying to solve?
posted by deanc at 6:23 AM on January 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

I think you should consider what kind of "nice" you are. Are you letting other people drive the relationship or are you driving once in awhile? Do you ask for what you want directly? Do you express your emotions or do you keep them bottled up for fear of losing someone? No one wants to be with a doormat. People want equal partners and that includes a person who can stand up for themselves, express themselves and be direct. If you are too much never rocking the boat, always acquiescing to someone else's desires, going along to get along, that gets boring in a partner.

Also, there's no such thing as a "friend zone." But, if you want to date a woman and she isn't interested, you don't gain much by being her sounding board for all her relationship troubles. If you keep hanging around women who you would like to date but they don't see you that way, you're wasting your time. Which is not to say that you shouldn't have women friends. But those friendships should be two-way streets where you both get something valuable from the friendship. Don't turn a woman into a friend in the hopes of seducing her.

Maybe your woman friend who said the stuff about "dark side" meant that you should try to be less a malleable lump of warm clay and find some edges -- some passions, some convictions, some desires, some action.

This is what I'm reading between the lines, you can decide whether any of it applies to you. Best of luck!
posted by amanda at 6:23 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Forget the nice/dark thing: Do you take care of your personal hygiene? Are you in reasonably good shape? Do you dress well? Are you confident and assertive? Those things matter a lot more than 'having a dark side', whatever that means.
posted by empath at 6:24 AM on January 2, 2013 [15 favorites]

I am woman who dates men, and I heartily agree with rtha. Communication is key. At this point in my life (late 30s) I absolutely do not have time for someone who makes me guess at what they feel.
posted by cabingirl at 6:24 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

There is no such thing as being too nice. There is, however, being too passive.

Passivity is a turnoff to most women. Are you sure you are being assertive enough?ie. "Oh I don't care where we go for dinner. What do you want??" Don't do too much of that. Be confident.
posted by Pademelon at 6:25 AM on January 2, 2013 [18 favorites]

You call yourself "nice". Could you please explain what does it means exactly?
posted by Oli D. at 6:36 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Maybe a good way to think about this is that like the rest of us you already have some negative emotions and thoughts and there are some unconventional/taboo/risque things that intrigue or excite you. All these thoughts that you would not share with your boss are your 'dark side'.

Some people ignore, avoid and hide their 'dark side' from everyone including intimate partners. There's something very attractive about a person who is comfortable enough in his/her own skin and in the relationship to cheerfully accept and acknowledge 'dark' (angry, sad, kinky) thoughts/feelings/desires in addition to the polite, upstanding citizen thoughts and feelings that one would share at a business networking session.

Take the risk of letting your potential romantic partner see that you're a complex whole person.
posted by steinwald at 6:58 AM on January 2, 2013 [9 favorites]

I've been told (by a woman) that I need to show more of a "dark side" to seduce women. Where on earth do I find that dark side in me ? How can I even be sure that I have one ? Can the hive mind confirm that this dark side is absolutely necessary to master the art of seduction ?

This is one of the biggest loads of horseshit I have ever seen on AskMe. These sorts of myths are usually perpetuated by people who LOVE DRAMA. Sorry, I don't mean to be harsh but I get severely irritated at the thought that there's some magic secret to making women love you. Another thing: all the guys I have ever known who bitched that they couldn't get women because "women don't like nice guys" weren't as nice as they thought they were.
posted by futureisunwritten at 7:16 AM on January 2, 2013 [16 favorites]

Sometimes when people say "nice", they mean, I always subordinate my needs to yours, I give up so much for you. But now you owe me. People don't like to feel indebted in this way, it's a big turn-off.

I don't know if this describes you or not, but ultimately being kind is a basic thing you offer to friends and lovers. By itself, it isn't enough to start or sustain a relationship and you shouldn't put out the expectation that it is. You need to find something more than "nice" to offer.
posted by dave99 at 7:18 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm not looking for one-night-stands, I'm looking for long-term relationships. So "seduce" may have been a wrong choice of word (english is not my mother tongue).
posted by Baud at 7:26 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Being nice is awesome, but having "nice" be the only thing that pops into someone's head when they think of you, not so much.

There is such a thing as "nice guy" syndrome, but I don't think you've fallen into it. When I think of "nice guy" syndrome, I think of a dude who is infatuated with a female friend, not letting her know about it, exuding hostility toward her for not picking up on it, being hostile toward women in general, and being oblivious to the disrespect involved in maintaining a friendship with someone under false pretenses.

I don't get that from the way you describe yourself or your relationships with women, because you don't seem dissatisfied with your particular current friendships not moving into romantic territory, and because you don't imply that you should be getting romantic partners because of your niceness.

But you should be aware that dropping the phrase "nice guy" into a relationship question is likely to lead to some bad assumptions.

In any case, I'd have a look at your social network. How are you meeting women? Is it through your social network? Are the friendships you have with people right now based primarily on you helping them out with problems? If so, the people you're close to may not be the best people to go to for advice about relationships, and the people you're meeting through them might be less likely to be healthy.

But just to be sure... Do you let a woman know when you have romantic feelings for her, and are you willing to either cut things off or accept it and move on if she doesn't reciprocate?
posted by alphanerd at 7:32 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

"Nice" is a bare minimum of expected human behavior towards others, especially people they like - it shouldn't be your key selling point, even in your own mind, any more than having four tires would be touted in a car ad. My partner is one of the nicest people I know - but she is also silly, damned smart, enthusiastic about a lot of different and interesting things, and just all-around fun to be with; similarly, it would really help if you worked on what actual qualities you bring to the table. What interests you? How do you meet other people with those same interests, and how do you talk with them about those interests?

One thing I didn't see in your question is anything you have done to actively try to establish a romantic relationship with anybody; can you elaborate? Do you have any online dating profiles? Have you gone to any in-person dating/mixer events? Just being a good listener and treating people like friends isn't going to somehow turn them into romantic partners, you need to be more proactive than that. If you're not already on a dating site like OKCupid, definitely consider joining and making it clear in your profile that you're looking for romantic relationships, not just friends.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:09 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm not looking for one-night-stands, I'm looking for long-term relationships. So "seduce" may have been a wrong choice of word (english is not my mother tongue).

Thanks for clarifying. For future reference, when I hear someone talk about how they're too much of a "nice guy" to "seduce" women, (especially on the internet) it makes me think they're looking for some bunk pick-up-artist techniques where if you do A,B, and C the woman will want to sleep with you. Which is crap, hateful, and just downright icky. It's probably why you're getting harsher responses then you might have thought. There's a whole lot of cultural baggage associated with the phrase "nice guy" in the US right now, especially when it comes to people on the internet.

So, I don't know you. I don't know the women you want to date, or how you act towards them. I do know one thing. Women are individual people. Some of them may want a guy with a dark side. Several here have said they don't. It is however a hugely popular idea that they do. In fact, it's where the whole "nice guy" and "friendzone" BS came from.

With that in mind, here's my advice for getting into a long term romantic relationship: When you want to date a person, ask them on a date. If they say no, respect that. If they say yes, go on a date with them. Talk to her, see what she likes, see what she doesn't like. Be honest about what you like and don't like. If you each enjoy the others company, are compatible sexually (whatever that means for you), and are willing to compromise on enough of the things that don't mesh, keep dating. If not, stop dating. Keep up the dating part for long enough, and next thing you know, you're in a long term relationship.

Here's the caveat. This plan only works if you both are honest with each other, yourselves, AND willing to treat the other person as an individual person. Anybody you date will have a unique personality and life story, and won't just be "member of X group who therefore likes Y." That's why I phrased it "date a person." I mean, right from the get-go when you're setting up that first date, ask where they'd like to go, don't just assume "I'm taking a woman on a date, women like fancy french restaurants." She may hate sauces, she may not be comfortable with that high stake of a date right off, or she may feel that spark with you, and have the recipes for the mother sauces tattooed on her back. The only way to know is to ask.

BTW, the simplicity and vagueness of the plan is the point, if you go into a relationship with a super specific master plan, you're not going to be able to find what works for the both of you, and the date stops being a person with their own wants and needs and starts being an object to use because they fill your wants and needs.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:18 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm not looking for one-night-stands, I'm looking for long-term relationships.

You said you've actually had relationships before, so it's not like you've never been through the process of dating a woman.

Pivoting off wolfdreams01 a bit, my suggestion is to not "collect" female friends like you are doing. Presumably you have enough friends. Meet a woman. Go out on a few dates. If there's no romantic spark there, on either side, meet someone else, rather than sticking around as a "friend", convincing yourself how "nice" you are. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes. You are purposely investing time in and hanging on to pseudo-platonic relationships with women who aren't interested in/attracted to you instead of going off and seeking relationships with women where there's a romantic spark involved. Your current habit of spending socially intimate time with women who have no romantic interest in you isn't a sign of your niceness, it's a sign of your refusal to actually make progress towards what you (claim you) want.
posted by deanc at 8:20 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Most likely you're unlucky in love simply because lots of people are.

But because our cultural narrative doesn't really offer up any kind of appealing role for a person who's unlucky in love everyone casts about madly for reasons and formulas and ways to explain the misfortune. And these formulas, the "nice guys finish last" formula among them, are often damaging, reductive, and counterproductive.

Everyone wants it to be a "secret" or a trick--if it's a trick, you can learn it, and fix the situation. But there's no trick. And you might never fix the situation. Because nobody owes you love, and nobody owes you sex.

Being a helpful and kind person is merely your obligation as a member of civilized society, not a ticket to romantic success. That's basically down to luck and timing and awareness. So work on maximizing those three things: up your odds by meeting more people, keep yourself generally available (busy, but not so busy you absolutely can't fit in a date ever), and keep your eyes open for connections that have potential.

It's literally all you can do. And it might not work, ever. Acceptance of that possibility (not inevitability, but possibility) will suck, so very very much, but it's pretty well mandatory.
posted by like_a_friend at 8:21 AM on January 2, 2013 [53 favorites]

Do you ask women out? Ask women out! Befriend women all you want, if you like their company in a platonic way, but don't do it if your goal is to eventually pluck up the courage to ask them out.

You don't need a "dark side," you just need a little confidence and assertiveness. Confidence + empathy = prime boyfriend material.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:46 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

From, 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person:

"Name five impressive things about yourself. Write them down or just shout them out loud to the room. But here's the catch -- you're not allowed to list anything you are (i.e., I'm a nice guy, I'm honest), but instead can only list things that you do (i.e., I just won a national chess tournament, I make the best chili in Massachusetts). If you found that difficult, well, this is for you, and you are going to fucking hate hearing it. My only defense is that this is what I wish somebody had said to me around 1995 or so."

Contains sweary words and a picture of Lenny Kravitz wearing a gigantic scarf. But it's worth a read because it will speak directly to you.
posted by disconnect at 8:49 AM on January 2, 2013 [21 favorites]

Women are not some kind of game you play that you put kindness coins in until you win a prize.

You mentioned English is not your native language, so I am not sure if your wording really indicates that you view women this way. You mention "mastering the art of making female friends" which is a little cringe-inducing. Women aren't something you collect. Anyone can make friends, but being a good friend is different. What makes you a good friend?

I tend to believe that this way of growing up without a strong male role model made me someone who can and will listen to girls....
So...if you had grown up with a strong male role model you believe that you would be less inclined to treat women like people who deserve to be listened to? Doesn't that sound kind of silly?

Forget the pop-psychology and forget about being "nice" as your most defining characteristic. Everyone should be nice. Everyone should be a supportive friend. You can be nice and assertive, intelligent, interesting, funny, caring, witty, etc.
posted by inertia at 8:54 AM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

My Myers-Briggs type is somewhere between INFP and ENFP.

Can you explain what this is? Few of us are sufficiently conversant with Myers-Briggs for this to be useful shorthand for anything. It would be easier if you could explain to us in what ways you would consider yourself 'nice'.
posted by mippy at 9:06 AM on January 2, 2013

Nthing the fact that there's nothing wrong with being nice.
But being nice is not the attribute that will necessarily create the spark; it will definitely fuel the fire, though.

But you need to know what creates that spark - and as many people mentioned above - it's how you present yourself - you need to exude confidence - in how you dress, in how you speak, in what you do. People are attracted (romantically or not) to confident people.

But you also need to give people that confidence. People love others who inspire them to be confident themselves. You probably do this already, and do it well.

But if you do the first without doing the second, then you risk being aloof or snobby. If you do the second without being the first, then you end up being their buddy or friend, or "nice guy".

While I don't think you need to have a dark side (that takes drugs or kills cats), it's always interesting to have an aura of mystery - it's always good to have people ask "what makes Baud tick? He's so steadfast and confident!" I wonder it that's what your friend meant by having this "dark side..." You gotta stimulate people for them to notice you. You need to have a "presence".

Good luck!
posted by bitteroldman at 9:07 AM on January 2, 2013

Ugh, that "nice guy" thing is bs. Every guy I've known who considered himself a "nice guy" was not a nice guy.

Exhibit A: While we were getting to know each other, he was sleeping with other girls and didn't think I deserved to know.

Exhibit B: I was the "other girl."

Exhibit C: He was a friend. I guess he could be considered "nice," but he was always trying to get with the hottest girls and failing. He didn't care about their personality -- he just wanted to have a trophy to tote around, and ended up alone. He was a perfectly nice person, but kind of chauvinistic, which is not a nice quality in a potential boyfriend.

So drop the "I'm a nice guy" thing.

If you're looking for a long-term partner, you either a) haven't met the right girl yet, or b) you've got to work on yourself.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:08 AM on January 2, 2013

It also occurs to me that this amazing Cracked article, Six Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person, might also help clarify your situation. What awesome qualities and skills can you offer to a potential mate beyond being a nice human being?

Niceness is necessary but not sufficient.
posted by Andrhia at 9:11 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

chicks dig confidence, and a degree of assertiveness. Pursue life, grab it by the balls, and stand up and say 'this is what i want!' I exaggerate slightly, but jobs, fame, and women seldom fall into your lap. Learning to communicate interest and set up situations with women that are EXPRESSLY ROMANTIC will get you far more romantic situations than a billion 'friend' conversations
posted by Jacen at 9:18 AM on January 2, 2013

Here's another great (and funny) article on the subject: The Nice Guy's Guide to Realizing You're Not That Nice.
posted by capricorn at 9:21 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Metroid Baby has the best advice you can get for this situation. Ask women out! On dates specifically not just hanging out or activities that can be misconstrued. Don't be afraid of doing it.

Being confident, direct and having someone interested in you is flattering and makes the person asking more attractive. It's also way better than having a friend who secretly likes you (or worse doesn't like you in particular but is always wondering why you won't date him anyway).

I have a good friend who is a great guy but he has a really really bad luck with women and its not just a fluke. He never asks women on dates, I've asked. He seems to be waiting for one of his many male-female friendships to spontaneously turn into a relationship.

He's a great friend and would make someone a good boyfriend but he takes no initiative and at this point women who know him are concerned that he'd date anyone and no one wants to feel like their the consolation prize.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:24 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another thing.

Way too often for my taste, girls I meet "like" me or even like me but they do not love me.

Sometimes you fall in love with someone instantly upon meeting them or shortly after, and love them even more as you get to know them until you just know: they're The One.

This is extremely rare and is not the norm for most people.

A lot of people (regardless of gender) will be a little taken aback - and possibly feel rather uncomfortable - if you get way too intense before you are even dating. Remember to step back and keep things casual. Love and like aren't in opposition. One can grow into the other. But give it time. Don't wait for people to fall madly in love with you. Have fun, don't take dating too seriously (take it seriously, but don't skip straight to hanging out 100% of the time, thinking about marriage, thinking about moving in together), and get to know the people you date. Figure out if you're going to love them as a person, if you have the same ideals and the same goals in life, if you really do work together well and understand each other.

That is a much deeper love, if you can find it build it together.
posted by capricorn at 9:29 AM on January 2, 2013

It would be interesting to learn where and how you meet women. I'm pretty sure a successful 40 year old would be in demand from a wide range of women 30+, so maybe you should join a club (dancing? hikining?) or something.

You should also be clear with dates about the fact you are dating and what your goals are: you're looking for a serious relationship, and you're dating right now to find the right person.

If you state this right away you can eliminate some folks right away. As well, you can establish a benchmark that your date can help evaluate at the end of the date - "What do you think? Is there some chemistry here? Would you like another date?"

I wish I had known this when I was 20 years old!
posted by KokuRyu at 9:36 AM on January 2, 2013

I think "dark side" might be a misleading term, but there is nothing wrong with honing your skills in being sexy, in a non-manipulative way. I've seen this problem with guys who really legitimately do want to be nice - as in not sleazy or pushy or rapey - and maybe also are prone to falling back on a joke or goofiness to defuse any sort of intensity, even when it's the good kind. Sometimes there is also a problem with being exceptionally passive as a means of avoiding rejection.

If you shy away from intimacy, it is worth developing your confidence, and your basic intimate behaviors like eye contact and active listening and sincere sharing of your thoughts and feelings. Those things are important for relationships, and they're also important for bridging the gap between the couch and the bed.

I think David Wong's Five Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women is incredibly important reading. Folks here are giving you a hard time about the "nice guy" thing, because it so often goes hand in hand with this belief that if you are just "nice" enough at somebody, she'll give you what you want without you having to make yourself vulnerable or accountable or reject-able in any way because you are owed it by the world.

You have to take chances. You have to make your interest known. You have to be willing to make another person feel desired and interesting and awesome and somebody whose world you want to rock. You don't have to be dark to do that, but sometimes you do have to be serious and focused. Having a man be serious and focused on you, and willing to acknowledge his attraction, is powerful juju in the appropriate setting. (And the best way to reach an appropriate setting is to make it clear that dates are dates and you are asking people out because you are interested in them. In fact, you might want to stop friend-dating - no one-on-one socializing with women for purposes other than dating. Go out with all these female friends in groups only.)

Unfortunately, a lot of "nice guys" instead just pay for a lot of things, resent it, and all they want is for someone to please please please just touch it. This has never been sexy to anyone outside of some very specific types of role-play, and it's not the sort of game you should be busting out on the fourth date.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:46 AM on January 2, 2013 [12 favorites]

Still not sure if you are trolling with this question because it seems like something a 13 year old would ask not a 40 year old.

Woman like different things. Some like bad boys, some like angry guys, some like douches and some like other women and some of us, all told, prefer chocolate. There is no one type of guy that gets all women and while you think that you are going to have problems.

Thinking a woman should like you just because you are nice is manipulative, nice should be the base state of pretty much most grown men. You are a grown up so you are not a dickhead to people, you can talk to them you use manners you help out people, these are all things grown ups do it is not part of being nice it is part of being human. You don't get extra brownie points in the dating game for being nice that's the starting point.

Be nice and something else. Nice and a good conversationalist, nice and the guy that makes them laugh, nice and the guy that has done interesting things. Heck start out being nice and the guy that doesn't expect women to fall for them just because he is being nice to them might be a good start.

I say this as a woman married to the nicest, kindest, sweetest guy in the world who is also funny as all get out and well read and interesting to talk to. He's a nice guy AND those things.
posted by wwax at 10:10 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are you sure you're genuinely empathetic? Because if there was a woman who just pretended to be a friend so she could hook up with you (and other people she was nice to) until someone she had real feelings for and wanted a relationship with showed up in her life, wouldn't she be using you?
posted by discopolo at 10:28 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Still not sure if you are trolling with this question because it seems like something a 13 year old would ask not a 40 year old.

I'm sorry to tell you that this isn't a far-fetched problem, going by some of the men I've met in their late 20s and early 30s at the time. I have been to a lot of awkward parties. There is a reason why Nice Guy Syndrome is a cultural trope, because there are a lot of men who are very very awkward around women - some channel this into PUA like behaviour in order to feel less insecure and turn human interaction into a game, whereas some tend to turn it inward and feel as though it is a personality flaw. Neither is healthy, but both are common. I've known many men who are so keen to be In A Relationship that the actual girl with whom they will be in the relationship with is almost secondary.
posted by mippy at 11:10 AM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

There may be some women that are attracted to seductive, bad-boy type behavior, but there are also plenty of women who like men that are honest and open and no-bullshit about their pursuance. There will never be one kind of behavior that attracts all or even a majority of women.

Two anecdotes from guys I have dated. Guy #1, we were flirting at a party, he was fairly physically assertive and "pursued" me. We had a relationship. Guy #2 awkwardly told me he thought I was cute, and then at another party where we'd been talking, said "You know, I'd really like to kiss you right now" and I said "I think you should". We had a relationship.

At the time and in hindsight, I liked Guy #2's behavior more. He wasn't trying to be suave or seductive. He was awkward but he was honest and I really, really liked that he asked and cared about whether I wanted to be kissed. In hindsight, I don't think Guy #1 did anything 'wrong' but I actually wish I had told him to back off a little.
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:26 AM on January 2, 2013

If by nice, you mean "kind, caring, and polite" - almost all women without majors issues find these to be highly desirable traits so they are not the problem. When your friend says "dark side" it's very probably code for "be more confident". It's definitely not a cue to start acting jerky.
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:36 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

You've already chosen a best answer, so I'm not sure if you'll be back again to read this. I've been thinking about your question for a few hours, and I still don't know if I can adequately convey my thoughts, but I would like to make an attempt.

To answer the specific question you asked, no, you do not need to cultivate some "dark side" to woo women. I'm not even sure what "dark side" means, although a few individuals above did take a decent stab at defining that.

To answer the implicit question (why am I alone?) I would say:

1. Definitely read the "5 Harsh Truths" article linked above. I was going to link to it if it hadn't been done already.
2. Think about why your relationships didn't work out. What could you have done differently? (Hint: Be more nice is not a correct answer). What went well? What didn't?
3. Check that you're bringing the bare minimum to the table. Are you well groomed? Smell decent? (Not necessarily cologne - soap smell is great, and all that's really needed). Have a steady job? Have a hobby? (I would put "be a decent person" in this category, but I will take you at your word that you are nice). These are things you need to have just to be invited to the table. You need more to be interesting to others, to be interesting enough that women want to date you (see #6).
4. Check your assumptions and requirements. I have an acquaintance who routinely laments the fact that he's coming up on 40 and is unmarried. Yet, he's had 3 relatively long term relationships in the last 5 years. He's unmarried because he has very specific requirements in a wife - she must be model-beautiful, less than 25 years of age, 100+ IQ level, and able and willing to bear him a child. The problem is that the women he dates are closer to his age, generally don't meet any other requirement, and end up leaving him when they realize that his chronic lack of showering, his chronic unemployment, and his chronic dissatisfaction with the fact that they don't meet his requirements are things that aren't going to change anytime soon. He WANTS and thinks he DESERVES the model-beautiful brilliant 25 year old, but he has nothing to offer in return.
5. Do you believe that you should be loved for who you are, without needing to change for any reason? Do you believe that you should never have to change, or adapt? Are you using flirting techniques that worked when you were 20, without noticing the difference between a 20 year old woman and a 40 year old woman? It's ok if you don't want to have to change at all, ever - but it does certainly limit the dating pool.
6. What do you do? All of the genuinely decent guys I know don't describe themselves as nice guys. They take it for granted that that's the base level, the given just to be in the dating pool. They describe themselves by what they do: I'm a photographer, I'm an amateur physicist, I do Crossfit, I play rugby, I'm active in community theater. What do you do besides be nice?
7. I noted your Myers-Brigg and looked it up (I'm an INTJ). In one of the write ups that I read, I found this:
"Because ENFPs live in the world of exciting possibilities, the details of everyday life are seen as trivial drudgery. They place no importance on detailed, maintenance-type tasks, and will frequently remain oblivous to these types of concerns. When they do have to perform these tasks, they do not enjoy themselves. This is a challenging area of life for most ENFPs, and can be frustrating for ENFP's family members."
and also this:
"ENFPs who have not learned to follow through may have a difficult time remaining happy in marital relationships. Always seeing the possibilities of what could be, they may become bored with what actually is."
Married life isn't only boring mundane tasks, but I've definitely left guys when I'm the only one who consistently does the mundane chores that need to be done. It's not the only reason, but if you're constantly looking over your mate's shoulder for the fun and interesting stuff, and not chipping in on the day-to-day, that could be a contributing factor.
8. The nicest guy I know has been married almost 20 years. It is possible. But again, he isn't just nice - he's a person, well rounded, with many different facets. He's interesting to talk to, and the focus isn't just on me (or any woman with which he converses) - it's on the conversation, it's a give and take.
9. Double check that the women you're interested in you're legitimately interested in as people - not because they meet the bare requirements (single, has vagina). That sounds harsh, but I've also known men who were so desperate to date that it didn't matter who was in the girlfriend seat, and no one wants to feel like an interchangeable doll who happens to be wearing the girlfriend shirt this particular month.

So no, you don't need to be dark, or stop being nice. But you do definitely need to be more than nice.
posted by RogueTech at 11:44 AM on January 2, 2013 [8 favorites]

TL;DR - I don't think seduction is what you're after. I think clarity of intent is.

This thread got TL so I DR all of it (I'm babysitting repair people today so my focus is split). So I apologize if someone made this point and I didn't see it.

If you're like I was, the main problem is that you are not making your desires for the nature of the relationship you want to establish clear to the women you are trying to "seduce". In my case, my earliest intimate relationships arose out of shared group social activities so "cold calling" was not a skill I had to develop. It was difficult later to learn that most of the world doesn't work that way.

You may be shy, or you may think you are giving clear signals, but if you keep ending up with women who are surprised when you tell them you're interested in an intimate relationship after your "friendship" fails to lead where you want it to, then you are not being clear. In fact, you are being passive and hoping the woman in question will dare to step across a threshold that you are unwilling to cross yourself. That is not fair, and it almost never works.

Do you prefer to get clear signals from women that they are interested so you don't have to guess and speculate about how they feel? Well, women also prefer clear signals. Someone in the interaction has to take responsibility and risk rejection. Since you're the one looking for a solution it's up to you.

Of course it's scary, but you'll feel better by taking action instead of passively hoping something will blossom from friendship.

A big fear might be that by making your desires clear, you risk negating any possibility of a future friendship with a woman if she does not reciprocate. But if you engage in a friendship with a woman in the hopes it will develop into the love relationship you want, but it doesn't go that way and you finally surprise her with the news that you've been pining for her the whole time, you pretty much eliminate the possibility of friendship. She will likely feel that you have been dishonest.

After a fair amount of fretting I finally decided to be up-front and say "You know what? I have a crush on you" when I was interested in someone, before too much time passed. A few times the feeling was not reciprocated but we formed friendships that continue to this day. A couple of times it led to two- or three-week fun makeout relationships that subsided into friendships that continue to this day. Only once did my declaration mark the end of a relationship. I was sad about that, but I respected her feelings and that was that.

It is absolutely NOT inherently selfish to be attracted to someone, or to desire an intimate relationship. An unreciprocated statement of your desire for the type of relationship you want does far less psychic damage and is much easier to get over for everyone involved than a false friendship with ulterior motives. Unless you're socializing with horrible people, it's highly unlikely that a woman will laugh at you, be mean or get grossed-out if you indicate romantic interest. As long as you accept the rejection, don't behave like a creep or pursue a friendship under false pretenses, everything will be OK. It will get easier.

I have a friend who was having a hard time meting potential love-interests. He finally started a website called "Boyfriend Search 2003" where he explicitly (and with plenty of his unique humor) declared what he wanted. He unabashedly told all his friends to look at it, send friends to it, and set him up with dates if possible. It was a big risk for him, but it worked (they've been together for 10 years now). That might not be your solution, but the point is nobody had to guess what he wanted. He was clear.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:56 AM on January 2, 2013

Being genuinely nice will not impede you. Being a doormat will. So will pretending to be nicer than you really are because you think it will score points. So will pretending to be less nice than you really are because you think it will score points.

Quoted for truth.

Here is what you need to do:

1- Be yourself. If that is not comfortable for you, become comfortable in your own skin. You can't expect other people to like you if you don't like yourself.

2- Be interesting. This can mean almost anything, because everyone finds different things interesting in their mates. Putting it another way, find people who find people like you interesting.
posted by gjc at 12:24 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sometimes there is also a problem with being exceptionally passive as a means of avoiding rejection.

This! This!

Some of the "nice guys" who can't get the girls (and some of the nice girls who can't get the guys, too) fall into this trap. You can't just ride in the back seat and hope you will get taken somewhere cool. You gotta get out there a bit. Risk rejection. Also, you'll find that rejection doesn't hurt so bad, really. You just dust yourself off and move on. Be kind to yourself and others in this process and go boldly. Not like a jerk but like a well-rounded person.
posted by amanda at 12:34 PM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm going to go against the grain and say there's a very important kernal of truth to your friend's advice. I think what she means isn't "dark" so much as "discriminating."

Women are usually more attracted to men who have strong opinions, enforce their personal boundaries and aren't afraid to express their negative thoughts about the world in moderation. Basically they like guys who are picky because it makes them feel special to be chosen by such guys. It's all a matter of balance, of course. You don't want to come off as a dick who hates everyone and everything, but it is important to demonstrate that you are a fully formed, human being with a full range of emotional responses.

To me one of the biggest turn offs is a guy who is ALWAYS smiley and upbeat because he seems dishonest (no one is that genuinely happy with everything, and it's hard to trust people who don't show their warts), conformist (he is afraid of taking an independent stance on anything), and boring (he is presenting himself as limited and shallow in his response to the world).
posted by timsneezed at 1:10 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I give the same advice to my recently single mom that I give to my straight male friends, my gay male friends, my straight female friends et cet.

Get. A. Hobby. If you already have passions and serious interests in your life, go find a group of people who regularly pursue it. Don't have any set interests? Take a yoga class, knitting, swing dancing, contra dancing, drawing class, volunteering, hacker spaces, or hiking. I guarantee that there will be some cool people you will meet. Maybe you will hit it off with someone, maybe you will become friends with someone through your hobby and you will end up hitting it off with one of their friends at a birthday party or happy hour.

Also, I think this comic from XKCD describes the "nice guy" phenomenon nicely.
posted by forkisbetter at 1:35 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Happily married to the Nicest Guy Ever. No dark side. Best decision I ever made! He just did Myers B for work, and he's an INFP too. (Nice does not equal passive.) Hang in there!
posted by jrobin276 at 1:37 PM on January 2, 2013

Another woman here in love (nearly 8 years and counting) with the Nicest Guy Ever, after having been in one too many tortured relationships with That Brilliant But Dark Guy. My partner is warm, kind, loyal, laid-back, confident, and considerate, to name just a few of the qualities I adore. The only dark side to him is his wicked sense of humor.

Be who you are. Cultivate the qualities in yourself that you seek in others, male and female alike.
posted by scody at 1:46 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

To me one of the biggest turn offs is a guy who is ALWAYS smiley and upbeat because he seems dishonest (no one is that genuinely happy with everything, and it's hard to trust people who don't show their warts), conformist (he is afraid of taking an independent stance on anything), and boring (he is presenting himself as limited and shallow in his response to the world).

I have never liked broody and depressed guys. I liked the warm, happy, genuinely friendly guys that aren't dicks to anyone and treats everyone nicely (male and female alike) because he likes being a good guy. That is the guy I trust will treat me well.
posted by discopolo at 2:05 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

> I suspect my personal history is at least partly to blame : being a first-born, growing (a little bit too) close to my mother with a loving but shy and kindly lovingly dominated-by-my-mother father. I tend to believe that this way of growing up without a strong male role model made me someone who can and will listen to girls and even advising them on their relationships. I have more female friends than male friends. Whenever I need relationship advices I have a network of female friends who will lend me sympathetic ears. My Myers-Briggs type is somewhere between INFP and ENFP. I have a mix of curiosity and empathy that makes me the kind of guy who will tirelessly listen to sobbing stories and offer advices.

Stop blaming your parents. Stop judging your mother for being outwardly assertive and your father for not being more stereotypically butch, as if the dynamics of their (loving!) relationship damage your ability to pursue a successful romance as an adult. Stop regarding your friendships with women as evidence of your weakness as a man. When you described yourself as "the kind of guy who will tirelessly listen to sobbing stories," did you want us to applaud your selflessness, sympathize with your sacrifice, or pity you for being "too nice?"

Stop being so passive about your own personality that you let some woman tell you about a "dark side" that you should develop in order to attract other hypothetical women.
posted by desuetude at 7:47 PM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Being nice does not entitle you to sex. Also, there is being nice, and playing nice.

Sometimes it's just hard for some people. But the first and most important step in getting past it is eliminating the nice guy/friendzone thing. There's a difference between a nice guy and a Nice Guy. The nice guy is just nice to women, men, kids, everyone else in between. The Nice Guy is nice because he thinks that's what should get him laid.

Based off your question, you don't necessarily seem like one of those Nice Guys, but there's a bit of the Nice Guy philosophy seeping into your situation, which isn't awesome.

I think the general rule of thumb for me is to always be upfront about what you want, but the trick is to allow - GENUINELY ALLOW - the lady in question room to say no, without reproach. No expectations, your wishes are on YOU, not her. All you can do is state what you want and see if she agrees. No sense of entitlement, because none of us are entitled. All you can hope for is for someone to like the cut of your jib, which usually starts with you liking the cut of your own jib, etc, and then going out on a limb and taking rejection with grace and without dwelling on it.

Good luck!
posted by mooza at 8:35 PM on January 2, 2013

You sound a lot like my boyfriend, except that by his own admission he's not that interested in "seduction." I didn't exactly seduce him, either. Most of the guys I date are gentle and nice and good friends to me before we start having sex (which is usually pretty quickly once we're dating). Cultivating dark assholeness and adopting a bitter philosophy about women in order to seduce them is a grreeeeaaaat way to never have a fulfilling emotional and physical relationship with a woman.

My boyfriend has a lot of female friends, and they're not the kind of women he would date. Many of them are pretty cute looking but I think they're good friends with him because he's not overly "seductive" and thus they can be comfortable with him. I wouldn't worry too much about what your female friends think of you. If I listened to my male friends about "what men like," I would not be dating the kind of guys I like. There are women out there who will like you and be sexually attracted to you, don't worry.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:02 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

"Women" is a category so large as to not be meaningfully different from "human". Try to break down that category in your head. Anything you say to yourself about "women" is likely either also true about all humans, or a projection of your own imagination. Judging the truth-value of a statement about "women" is easiest if you just try the same statement about yourself and "any reasonable person, male or female". Here, let's try on some of the suggested attributes from up-thread:
  1. Of course "women" ("humans") like confident people. Think about anyone you've ever been hot for. Were they a doormat who never said anything spontaneously, had no preferences or opinions, always deferred to you, never spoke up?
  2. Of course "women" ("humans") like people who are well groomed, dressed ok and in good shape. Again, think about anyone you've ever been hot for. Were they slovenly, dressed in hand-me-downs from their siblings and ignoring their own physical wellbeing?
  3. Of course "women" ("humans") like people who present as whole human beings in possession of a spectrum of emotions, good and bad. Again, think about anyone you've ever been hot for. Did they have the "all positivity" vibe of a motivational speaker, all smiles and kindness and affirming words, never crossing into even a moment of naughtiness, anger, sadness, fear or vulnerability?
These are gender-neutral guidelines. Don't be bland or fake-nice, be as presentable as you can manage, and have your own interests, preferences and opinions. Is this a guarantee of successful relationships? No. It's a baseline for getting onto someone's -- anyone's -- radar, being noticed and considered. The rest involves asking people who interest you if the feeling is mutual, and being patient and accepting with the cycle of "sorry, no" responses until you find a match.

In short: in order for someone to honestly say "yes" to you, they need to be given a compelling option to consider, and allowed to say "no".
posted by ead at 11:29 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

29-year-old female married to a nice guy: he got me because he was confident in that moment that he wanted to "get" me. Please drop the pop psych crap and don't listen to your friend that said you need a dark side to get a woman. That's complete horseshit, as others have said. Women want confidence AND niceness. No one actually wants a dark, mysterious asshole. Be yourself but be confident about what you want. It may take a few times getting shot down by someone who wouldn't be worth it anyway, but you will find your moment and click with the right person. I can't personally tell you how this happens, but there will come a time when you will have the gumption to give it your all and some wonderful woman will take notice. Best of luck to you!
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 6:16 AM on January 3, 2013

I don't know if this applies to you, but thought I'd throw it out there.

I have a friend with a similar mother-dominated upbringing, who was so deferential to women that he was not able to demonstrate his desire for them in the early stages of attraction for fear that it was an affront to their personhood.

There is a certain amount of objectification in sexual attraction inherently. In my friend's case he had a hard time parsing respecting someone and sexualizing them. . . he had to find his own sense of masculinity rather than bouncing between being too passive, not expressing his sexuality, and the objectification of women which is too often conflated with male sexuality.

You can't share chemistry with someone if they cannot sense your desire.
posted by abirdinthehand at 9:23 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

What do you mean by "seduce"? Get a woman to sleep with you? Go find one who is open to that and ask her to sleep with you. Women aren't fragile things who can't handle being approached with bluntness. We don't need to be tricked or cajoled into sex. Seriously. Just talk to us. And respect that some of us are gonna say no. And that's ok.

Or do you want a relationship? That's different. Relationships need to be based on some sort of friendship (not saying you have to be friends for years beforehand, but you must at least respect someone on a friend level to be in a relationship with them).

Stop feeling as though you are entitled to have a woman, but can't because you are "nice" and women "need" a dark side. I can't even with that. Seriously. We need people who we like. Bad, nice, tall, short, fat, old, young, whatever. There are more facets to personality than "nice" and "dark". Start feeling as though you want to find someone whom you respect and care for and who respects and cares for you back. Think about the qualities you want in a partner and then embody those qualities yourself. Be the person you would want to date.

And drop the "art of seduction" line. That's red flag number one. It makes us feel interchangeable and like prizes at a carnival.
posted by picklesthezombie at 9:43 AM on January 4, 2013

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