Playing ‘Hard to Want’ since 1986

Column: Takin’ Care of Business
by Scott L. Clark


I thought I’d take a break from my usual “business” column and share some thoughts with all of you in regards to relationships. As many of you are aware, I’ve been married to my wife for over five years now. Although I was the first person she ever dated (or even kissed), I waded through my share of girlfriends before finding her. And I got to where I am by being (gasp!) a nice guy.

Yes, believe it or not I didn’t land a gorgeous, trustworthy wife by being an arrogant jerk, a bad-ass biker dude or an abusive boyfriend. Yet the years of dating I experienced up until I met her proved frustrating, as many of the girls I was attracted to went for this kind of guy. Since this made no sense to me, I asked some of my close female friends about it, and the response I got was something to effect of girls liking the challenge of changing a rough-around-the-edges guy into the man of their dreams. I’m sure many of my single young professional friends out there can relate to how frustrating this can be when there’s a perfectly “good” guy standing right there vying for her affection. Why bother going through all the extra hard work, when the work’s already done for you?

A close personal friend of mine recently revealed to me that some guys have figured out this formula and are exploiting it. In his words, he’s been playing “hard to want” for years. From what he’s told me, cute girls are used to being told that they are attractive to the point that it doesn’t phase them anymore. Any positive advances are just another attempt that’s been done more times than Charlie Sheen has said the word “winning”. Conversely, his strategy was quite the opposite. He gave them something that they weren’t used to experiencing: being treated like crap. I’m not talking about physical abuse, mind you. But he would purposely make himself out to be the least desirable guy in the room, insulting pretty girls and saying nothing nice to them.

The funny thing is, it works. I’ve seen it happen. Although the girls would act all offended at first, they seemed intrigued by the newness of the situation and wouldn’t leave him alone after that. Drove me BANANAS.

Fast-forward to present day where I overheard one of my 19-year old female coworkers talking about her boyfriend. During a discussion about Facebook, this girl actually said “I mainly use my Facebook account so that I can manage my boyfriend.” Swallowing down the anger from that phrase, I asked her what she meant. Her response was one of keeping tabs on him in case any of his ex-girlfriends decide to talk to him or if he starts flirting with another girl.

This set me off to no end. First of all, if you have to be worried about your boyfriend cheating on you, then why are you with him in the first place? Secondly, do women really think like this? That they have to “manage” their significant other like a lost puppy or a small child? I was enormously insulted by this comment, especially when I see so many pretty girls going after the plethora of jerks out there while I can count on more than two hands a number of decent guys that aren’t “bad” enough for those same girls.

So please, ladies, explain this conundrum to me. It makes absolutely no sense to me. Why do you like the guys that treat you like crap and look like unshaven drug addicts? I’ve got news for you: you’re not going to change them. A woman once told me that men marry women hoping they will stay the same (but they always change) and women marry guys hoping that they will change (but they never do). Go for the guy that is who you want him to be right now, because changing him is a lost cause.

In all reality, the real reason I wanted to write this post was to brag about my wife and how I landed such an amazing woman. I’ll tell you how: I won her heart (and it wasn’t easy). Unlike many husbands out there, I don’t have to worry about whether or not she’s flirting with other guys. She loves me unconditionally, and I’m grateful to be married to her. And I didn’t have to be a jerk to get her.


~ by Scott L. Clark on March 28, 2011.

19 Responses to “Playing ‘Hard to Want’ since 1986”

  1. I wrote about this topic last year, so I won’t recount my entire blog post in the comments section of your post. You can just read it here: The part that I will summarize is that I think many girls go for the boy because, whether they know it or not, they want a man who can take care of them when the chips are down, and bad boys exude a toughness that nice guys don’t. That’s not to say nice guys can’t take care of their ladies; they just don’t demonstrate their ability to do so because 1) there are very few opportunities to do so and 2) they are being nice and respectful. Bad boys demonstrate their ability to be tough by being bad boys. Yes, they’re giving a horrible example of how tough they can be, and they are also showing they won’t necessarily use that toughness to take care of their lady, but we women don’t always think about relationships all that logically. I think the time when a woman realizes she’s found a nice guy who can and will take care of her whens she needs him to (even if that need never arises), that’s when she makes her way out of bad boy land and enters the world of real relationships.

  2. Glad you two are so happy!

  3. I am not sure why but your blog post kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I am not sure why you assume all women are like that. Not all women desire a “bad boy” type of man. Some women are looking for a companion someone to share in their interests and enjoy life with. Those women you are referring to may be a little more shallow than some of us. Just saying. I know I don’t prefer to be treated badly. I thought I found my one and unfortunately he changed not me. Good topic though. Got my blood boiling this fine Monday morning. Thanks for that. 🙂 I always enjoy your blog posts so keep them coming.

    • I would agree, Lazra. I don’t think all women want the “bad boy” type. Personally, I think some women just read the men they’ve dated incorrectly and unintentionally go for the bad boy. Other times, as you indicated, men change. I’ve dated a few men who started off exceptionally sweet and nice and who became abusive more than year into the relationship. I think the “bad boy vs. nice guy” issue is far more complicated than we give it credit for.

      • Exactly! There is really no black and white when it comes to personalities. I don’t like using stereotypes when it comes to explaining men and women, such as “the pretty girls” and the “bad boys”. I think people are a mixture of whatever they want to project and just because a guy maybe playing hard to get (which is what Scott is explaining about his friend up above) I don’t necessarily believe that would make him the “bad boy”.

  4. Amen brother. This is exactly why there are so many nice single guys and good girls just getting out of bad relationships. But not to generalize to much, Mika’s point does carry a lot of validity. Women need to see a man in all shades/situations and if they can be nice/bad/romantic/adventurous when they need them to be.

    Guys have to be chameleons, because what women want is everything!

  5. @Laura: I apologize if I over-generalized. There’s obviously exceptions to every rule, and you are apparently the proof of that. There are plenty of women out there that want/expect the nice guy, and (sadly) they are often times considered prudish.

    @Mika: Just because you’re a nice guy doesn’t mean you’re a wus. Guys can be tough without being a meat-head. Being tough with your mind should count just as much as being able to bench press 300 pounds,

    • Scott, I don’t think I said anywhere in my comments that being able to take care of business means you need to be a “meat head.” Conversely, I also never said nice guys are wusses. What I said is that bad boys do a better job of demonstrating their “toughness” (which can be a mental toughness, as well) than nice guys do — however, women need to be careful because bad boys demonstrate this toughness in the wrong way. They need to watch for those same abilities and characteristics in the nice guy, who just isn’t as obvious about it.

    • Perhaps I am wrong in this but did you just call me prudish? I beg to differ. I am just going to say this I have met plenty of nice guys who turn out to be bad boys in disguise. So, call me what you want I know I am very open minded and not at all prudish.

      • Agreed Agreed Agreed lazra and Mika!! Sometimes the nice guys are the worst because when they’re “bad” it catches you by surprise and you almost don’t believe it because they’re supposed to be one of the “nice” ones. Ugh.
        – Caitlin

  6. I’ve been wanting to comment on this post all day but I just got the chance to finally sit down and do so!!

    I have so many opinions on this post, I don’t know where to start. First, I’m happy you and your wife found each other and make each other happy. That being said, I think dating is far more intense, confusing and intricate than this post makes it out to be.

    As a single woman in the dating field, I will be the first to say I’ve given plenty of “nice guys” a chance. Actually, according to all the profiles I’ve read on Match, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM IS A “NICE GUY”. Let me tell you this, even the “nice guys” can be completely jerk faces.

    I had one of these so called nice guys refuse to commit to our relationship because he had already paid for his subscription to an online dating site and wanted to see how that played out so he didn’t waste any money. This is a guy that I’m sure considered himself to be a nice guy.

    Well, let me clue you in, there was nothing nice about that. There is absolutely nothing “nice” about what your friend is doing. All he’s looking for are girls that perpetuate the stereo type and apparently looking to get some rather than start a relationship built on trust and honesty.

    The few actual nice guys out there are usually dating girls that would be the equivalent to the “bad boys” you’re describing. I’m a “nice girl” and let me tell you, I’ve been looked over plenty of times by these supposed “nice guys” because I’m just that – nice. Girls have learned (actually I’ve even read a book about it) that they have to play the games. I’ve witnessed it over and over and over again. These “nice guys” won’t pay attention because they want the chase or they want the hot, slutty girl that looks good on his arm and doesn’t ask a lot of questions. Once again, not nice.

    I think relationships have a lot more to do than if a guy is “nice” or not. Am I attracted to him?? Do we have a connection? Can he make me laugh? I need a lot more out of a relationship than a guy who will pull my chair out and be completely predictable. “Nice guys” don’t finish last because they’re “nice”. There’s something deeper there…

    Just my thoughts… I’m sure I have more…


  7. @Caitlin — I agree with the epidemic of “nice guys”. They’re everywhere! I think something that we (men and women alike) fail to realize in the moment is that typically the first one to scream “nice guy” or “low maintenance woman” is the first to suddenly switch gears as soon as the honeymoon phase is over. They’ve heard that they’re not, so they’re trying to advertise appropriately to get what they want. Every nice guy I’ve dated never even thought to give himself the title. Every guy who’s turned into (or even started as) a douche liked to really let me know that he was a great, nice guy.

    • Taylor…that was perfectly put! Nice guys just are nice guys they don’t proclaim they are nice. Awesome response!!!

    • Isn’t that the truth!! Good point, Taylor. “Nice guys” aren’t usually the first to advertise it. The other problem is the definition of nice. Sure, you don’t cheat on me or abuse me but you also don’t call, show up two hours late for our date and constantly burp in my face. Is that nice? I think not…

  8. The first problem is with the generalization of the word “nice”. It can mean a lot of different things to different people. And one person’s impression of themselves is rarely the same impression that other people have of them.
    That being said, dating is not a “nice” field. Either you find the exact right person for you the first time you date someone, or you don’t and someone is going to end up hurt. There really isn’t a smooth, nice way to get out of a relationship. I, myself, have been a downright bastard, at times. This is only to say that even if a person really is generally nice, it’s almost guaranteed that’s not how you’re going to feel about them after the end of a relationship.
    Scott, it sounds like you’re more frustrated with the manipulation of people than you are with their choices in who they date. I have definitely stopped and looked at people (male and female) and wondered how the heck they are dating someone like that, but what really kills you are things like the co-worker who stalks her boyfriend and your friend who plays a role until he gets the girl. Either way, someone’s going to find out the truth about who they are dating and they’ll be okay with it (in which case i pity them) or they aren’t (in which case they’ve learned something, hopefully).
    Trust me, I’ve been up and down, left and right on this argument and as infuriating as it is, I’ve learned that I’m not going to change who I am or act a role to find someone. I am me and I am here. Take it or leave it.

    • I think you summed it up perfectly, J! I wish people were more just who they are at all times rather than end up playing all these relationship games. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, dating sucks!!!

  9. I thought it was well written. As well you can tell that there are more than a few scorned women here. I think ALL of dating is a game until you find the right person, anyone who says otherwise is stuck in a life of empty Harlequin romance novels. Nice guys get passed up all the time because they’re ‘too nice’ . Bad boys get passed up because they’re too dangerous. It works both ways and preconceived notions will always happen and keep someone of quality from getting a fair shot. So as long as you are upfront and honest about where you stand, then no one has a right to complain how things play out. Use whatever advantage you have. Its not hard to find someone, but it is hell to find someone worth having.

  10. […] not a bit of regret, though. I’m not saying that I regret not being with her today (I love my wife and am completely happy). But I feel like I missed out on memorable experiences, not only because of the restraints from my […]

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