Nice Guys Vs. Bad Boys

This isn’t real. Nice Guys vs. Bad Boys isn’t based on the work of Jung or Maslow or on any research from Cambridge and Princeton. This one has been around longer than I have and James Dean (Rebel Without A Cause) was the example of the Bad Boy, so I speculate it is from the 1950’s. Ideas like this come from dudes like me trying to teach a little and simplify complex topics. That’s alright if it helps. But this is not reality. These are merely ideas to help crystallize an understanding of some important difference in how men present themselves to the world.

If this idea helps you become aware of your behavior and make better choices, then it’s a useful and helpful tool. Although, when you sort anything into 2 types, you’re oversimplifying it. You are dumbing it down. For example, I can sort emotions into 2 types. It’s my 2-bucket system for the 2 main types of emotions. But, we’ll put a pin in that for now. I think regular men like me need this stuff made easy so I can understand it and act on it. Meyers Briggs has 16 personality types. I don’t have that kind of time, attention span or the ability to classify different types of behavior with that kind of nuance. As for me, I like to keep it simple. 

Nice Guys vs. Bad Boys Is About Behavior, Not Character

Nice Guys & Bad Boys Explained

This is not about nice or bad. Actually, it’s not about character at all. Rather, it’s about behavior—how you show up in the world. A man that acts like a man. Of course, you can define this any way you want. But it deserves thought. For example, are you timid or assertive? Do you have and enforce personal boundaries or do you let people walk all over you. Behavior is largely a choice. If you don’t like being timid, you can learn to speak up for yourself. But you have to be self-aware of the topic, to begin with. That’s where models like this help. 

Who do you want to be in your own eyes and in the eyes of others? Actions speak louder than words so, how does your behavior tell everyone who you are and what you stand for? Honesty is a character trait. It’s knowing and believing in truth. Telling the truth is behavior. I rarely lie, although I am unlikely to tell someone, “Those pants DO make your butt look big” or “I really disliked your mom’s lasagna.” So I sometimes cut myself a little slack just to get along better. While my commitment to speaking the truth when I do speak is excellent, I do often hold my tongue when I should speak (behavior trait of a ‘Nice Guy’).  

Bad Boys Speak Up, Nice Guys Shut Up

Nice guys believe not lying is honesty. But honesty in action is about telling the truth. Nice guys consider concealing the truth as ‘not lying’ and, therefore, honest. But that is not true! Not telling the truth to a person that is entitled to the truth, is considered ‘concealment’ in the law and is no less deceitful than an affirmative lie. They both cause harm.

Imagine two couples at a restaurant. The men comprise one Nice Guy and one Bad Boy. Both the women are blatantly rude to the waitress. Which man would speak up? Nice Guys will often suppress their feelings to avoid conflict. That wouldn’t be the case with a more assertive and confident man, as he would likely call her out on bad behavior. It has been my experience that bad boys are more likely to tell a lie while Nice Guys are more likely to conceal the truth. Both are dishonest and both can cause harm.

Nice Guys Vs. Bad Boys Is A Continuum 

All men are both Nice Guy AND Bad Boy—it is not either/or. As you understand the ‘sliding scale’ nature of this, you can use it as a tool to understand behavior types and then evaluate and modify them.  Nice guys aren’t any nicer than bad boys. They just pursue their goals with people-pleasing behaviors rather than more assertive behavior. As a continuum, changing your behavior isn’t as drastic as changing sides, we can all make small steps to become a better blend if these two architypes.

Overt vs. Covert Behavior

Putting words to complex topics allows us to think critically about a subject. In broad terms, this model is more of a continuum between overt and covert masculine behavior.  Robert Glover, the author of No More Mr. Nice Guy, has done an influential job of articulating this distinction. In particular, in regards to the not-nice covert behavior of ‘Nice Guys’, the author talks in detail about how to break free of faulty trained behaviors. For example, when it comes to meeting women, nice guys often pursue a relationship by pretending to be their friend. They don’t act assertively to get what they want or make their interest and intentions clear. 

These men often have too little confidence to say no. I have a confession to make. I once spent an entire day helping my wife’s sister’s friend move to a new apartment. The nice guy stereotype is often a man with poor boundaries along with sneaky behaviors calculated to secretly produce what they really want. This behavior is generally more manipulative with a thin veneer of people pleasing.

On the other end of the spectrum, excessively overt masculine behavior is equally destructive. At some point, assertive becomes aggressive and then hostile and perhaps what is commonly being labelled ‘toxic masculinity’.

Nice Guys Vs. Bad Boys: Balance Is Key

Always in life, too much or too little of anything is rarely a good thing. Good men behave assertively, have self-confidence, and demonstrate their character in a positive and proactive way. This is in the middle of the spectrum, truly at a place of your choosing.  Some men would do well to tone down some behaviors, while others need to develop behaviors that are under performing. Character can be molded and improved upon. But behavior that does not align with your character can be very uncomfortable. I have seen timid men pretend to be assertive and white-knuckle their way through some situations that are easy for more assertive men. Figure out where you are on the spectrum and make deliberate choices on the character and behavior that you want to improve.

Bad Boy Traits 

• Compulsive thrill-seeking and risk-taking.

• Supremely confident.

• Does not care about being liked.

• Makes women feel beautiful.

• Does not try too hard to please.

• Does not fall in line with societal rules.

• Strong and dangerous.

• Authentic without the need to pretend.

• Impulsive behavior.

• Highly independent.

• Physical Attractiveness.

• Clear intent regarding sexual relationship.

• Dominant.

• Confident attitude toward women.

• Selfish and Possibly narcissistic.

Nice Guy Traits 

• People pleasing behavior

• Lower confidence

• Less assertive

• Committed and faithful.

• Good listener.

• Empathetic and forgiving.

• Has good control of his finances.

• Humble and adaptable.

• A team player.

• Lasting friendships & Long-Term Partner.

• Dependable and has good manners.

• Hides real demands and needs.

• Prosocial behavior.

Who Are You?

Consider your natural behavior when you are alone in your apartment. You probably behave in a manner that aligns with your character. That is probably the real you. You are not adjusting your behavior for others. It’s only when we are out with others or at work, we calculate and modify our behavior to be seen as we want to be seen. Who do you want to be? What qualities do you admire in other men? Consider carefully and choose character and behaviors that reflect the ambition of the better man you are working to become. You can adjust your behavior accordingly. Small steps are just fine.

Awareness of Behavior

Self-awareness is the first step towards a behavior change.  Behaviors that are in line with your goals and values feel much better than the ones that are not. So by simply paying attention, you will begin to notice when the new behavior is truly beneficial. Each time you get a favorable outcome, the new behavior gets reinforced in your brain.  The main advantage of self-awareness is you can use it to reach your goals and be happier because you become a better observer of yourself.

Do Women Prefer Nice Guys or Bad Boys?

The Crazy Hot Matrix video is funny because men get it. In this YouTube video, men are advised to only date “hot and not too crazy” women. These women are considered rare and therefore called unicorns. A male unicorn is a balanced man with balanced behavior. Assertive without being aggressive or hostile. Self-confident without being arrogant. They tell the truth and speak up even when it is uncomfortable. 

Nice Guys Vs. Bad Boys

Although women say they want a nice guy, they often choose bad boys for relationships. They’re not lying. It’s just that they don’t know entirely what men are really asking about. Nice Guys get frustrated when women choose more masculine men. The truth is masculinity is a component of physical attractiveness to women. Confident, assertive, openly honest, and direct are all qualities that women appreciate. They also know when men are filling the role as ‘friend’ while secretly (but obviously) wanting more. Heads up guys, this behavior makes you even less attractive. 

Why Do Women Always Go for the Bad Boy?

Masculine men show up and honestly present interest and intent. More timid men show up as friends and conceal their intentions. women find reasonable levels of overt masculine behavior (i.e., acting like a man) very attractive. While the timidity of pretending to want to be friends is not attractive to them. PRO TIP: Knock that off. In the end, confident, assertive and authentic are desirable qualities in long-term relationships.

Women seem to want good men. Men that take responsibility for their lives, manage resources and create lives of happiness and meaning. A man like just might be worth hitching your wagon.


I find having honest conversation about our own behavior is helpful in growing and becoming better as a man. Knowing where you fall on this continuum allows men to objectively choose how they might alter behavior. For instance, speaking up when you have an idea in a meeting, sending an overcooked steak back or saying hello to an attractive woman. While I’m no dating coach nor do I offer much in the way of dating advice, men would have far more dating success if they could find their ideal spot on this continuum and confidently lean into it. 

Nice Guys vs. Bad Boys is not science, psychology, or even an accurate understanding of human male behavior. Models like this and the now popular ‘Alpha Male’ are crowd-sourced pseudo-science that can be useful in helping men see concepts they often miss. As such, it can be a teaching tool helping men on the journey of becoming better men.   

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