Sex Roles, Vol. 53, Nos. 5/6, September 2005 (
Young Women’s Dating Behavior: Why/Why
Not Date a Nice Guy?
Anita K. McDaniel
The purpose of this study was to investigate why some women report a desire to date nice guys
but prefer dating jerks. Speciﬁcally, young women’s dating choices based on their reasons for
dating in general and the attractive/unattractive traits that they perceive that a man possesses
were explored. Popular texts offer evidence that young women may/may not select nice guys
as dating partners because nice guys may/may not be able to provide them with what they
want from their dating experiences. Scholarly texts offer evidence that the answer may lie
in how the young woman perceives the nice guy—does he possess attractive or unattractive
personality traits? The results of the present study suggest that reasons for dating (i.e., not
wanting physical contact, wanting stimulating conversation, and wanting an exclusive rela-
tionship) and perceived personality traits (i.e., sweet/nice and physically attractive) inﬂuence
a young woman’s desire to date a nice guy, and that perceived personality traits are better
predictors of her choice of a man to date than are reasons for dating.
KEY WORDS: nice guy; women; dating behavior; reasons; traits.
Women are not people that you have honest,
reciprocal relationships with. You “keep” a woman.
You “play the game” with a woman. There are
certain things contrary to the spirit of true, honest
companionship that a guy must do in order to
attract and have women, and no woman will ever
love you for who you are, no matter how nice a guy
you happen to be. You must ﬁrst have A, B, and
C ...regardless of the fact that A, B, and C (insert
social status, money, etc.) have nothing at all to do
with what a person is actually like.
A common refrain among men is the observa-
tion that women do not like (or more appropriately,
University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Wilmington, North
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Depart-
ment of Communication Studies, University of North Carolina
at Wilmington, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, North
Carolina 28403-5933; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The anonymous man’s statement came from a personal email
communication written November 4, 2003. Permission was
granted by the author to use the statement in this paper and in
subsequent publications if anonymity was guaranteed.
do not want to date) nice guys. Popular cultural
texts that range from Kuriansky’s (1996) The Com-
plete Idiot’s Guide to Dating to Internet articles such
as Overthelimit.com’s “The Myth of the Nice Guy”
(Guy in a Trenchcoat, 2002) suggest that women
claim they want a “nice guy” because they believe
that that is what is expected of them when, in reality,
they want the so-called “challenge” that comes with
dating a not-so-nice guy. Scholarly texts seem to echo
this general claim, as does the opinion of the anony-
The gentle, compassionate man who reads maga-
zine surveys indicating that his qualities are the very
ones that most women prefer in a mate may be
the same man who is repeatedly turned down by
women who seek the company of more atavistic
males. ...Women go for heroes while saying they
want vulnerability and later try to persuade their
partners to become more sensitive and vulnerable,
rather than initially pursuing sensitive and vulnera-
ble men (Desrochers, 1995, p. 376).
However, when women are asked about the
subject, they almost always claim to desire a nice
2005 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.