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Nice Guys Are From Uranus?

Why do so many women want a bad boy instead of a nice guy? Even models and actresses turn to these bad boy types when they are absolutely gorgeous and could get any man they want. Doesn't this encourage nice guys to turn into bad boys to get girls?

--Nice But Reconsidering

LET'S GET something straight: The polar opposite of a bad boy is not a nice guy, but an overly-nice guy. The difference is in the desperation. Nice guys call when they say they will. Overly-nice guys call every 20 minutes "to thank you for just being you, Kristin." ("My name is Kristine," their prey corrects.) Going out with an overly-nice guy is like being beaten to death with a Hallmark card.

Bad boys, on the other hand, are The Undesperate. They never call or drop by when they say they will (unless they need to mooch a twenty). A typical bad boy might even claim not to own a phone, then expect his woman to apologize for recalling otherwise. To a bad boy, truth is made of Spandex. The only absolute he knows is that he's absolutely never wrong. Bad boys are unpredictable, unavailable, underfunded, and serially unemployed. (Classic bad boy joke: What's a drummer without a girlfriend? Homeless.) Dating a bad boy is dangerous, exciting, and fraught with drama. The only reliable thing about a bad boy is his unreliability.

To fully understand bad boy allure (beyond the ever-present element of surprise), open your economics book to page one: "Supply And Demand." Bad boys are in demand because they make themselves scarce, thus driving up their value. They're like half-naked people. Half-naked people are generally sexier than totally naked people because the suggestion of what could be is usually better than what actually is. Truth be told, if a woman ever got as much of a bad boy as she thought she wanted, it would be only moments before she stopped sitting by the phone waiting for him not to call.

Bad boys appeal to three types of women: Thrill-seeker girls, girls who can't commit, and "Near Zeros" -- girls who aren't operating on a full tank of self-esteem. To thrill-seeker girls, bad boys are merely whoopee cushions in a sea of La-Z-Boys. Girls who can't commit enjoy bad boys' special non-stick coating which closely matches their own. Both thrill-seeker girls and Teflon enthusiasts can leave at any time and do -- generally when they've been stood up, mooched from, or cheated on one time too many. "Near Zero" types have the hardest time showing bad boys the door. Like Joan of Arc, they hear voices in their heads: "You're not worthy, you're not worthy." Any man, nice or overly-nice, who treats them otherwise is assumed to have something wrong with him, and is deemed unworthy of their unworthiness.

For success in love, look for women who appear to be completely happy without a man. These women want nice guys. For best results with them, borrow the bad boy's better qualities; namely, drama and surprise. This translates very simply: DON'T BE BORING. Call and show up when you say you will, but always keep a woman guessing about what you're going to say and do. You should also keep in mind that desperation is not an aphrodisiac, and saccharine, in large quantities, has been shown to be deadly to lab rats and single women. If you smother a girl in flowers, romantic dinners, and phone calls before you've known her for more than 22 minutes, she will rightly assume that you are trying to bribe her into loving you; probably because she is your last chance to offset lifelong celibacy. Unless she is in the market for an oversized boot-scraper, you're history.

Copyright ©2000, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, Ask The Advice Goddess, which appears in 60 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.