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Do nice girls also finish last?

The age-old saying goes “Nice guys finish last.” But do nice girls finish last too? This popular maxim implies that being too sweet, generous, and unassertive can undermine your chances of success – especially in dating and relationships. However, does this sentiment also apply to women? Let’s analyze typical ‘nice girl’ traits and whether they could hinder female ambition and aspirations.

What defines a ‘nice girl’?

First, we need to establish what constitutes a ‘nice girl.’ There are a few commonly cited qualities:

  • Agreeable and eager to please
  • Avoids confrontation and conflict
  • Puts others’ needs before her own
  • Goes out of her way to help people
  • Very empathetic and caring
  • Shy, modest, and reserved in nature

In many respects, the ‘nice girl’ aligns closely with typical feminine socialization – namely to be sweet, polite, nurturing, and not challenge the status quo. Of course, these traits exist on a spectrum. Not every conventionally ‘nice’ woman exhibits them to the same degree.

Potential downsides of being ‘too nice’

While niceness seems intuitively positive, several potential drawbacks can stem from taking it too far:

  • You may be taken advantage of or exploited
  • Your own needs and priorities get neglected
  • You avoid healthy conflict that could lead to growth
  • You struggle to ask for what you want or need
  • Your career progression stalls due to being overly deferential
  • You sabotage your success to avoid outshining others
  • You struggle with confidence and self-esteem

Being too selfless or conflict-avoidant can clearly undermine your ability to attain your goals and maximize your potential. But does that mean all nice girls are destined for frustration and failure?

Do nice girls always finish last romantically?

One area where nice girls are said to finish last is dating and romance. The belief is that being too passive, accommodating, or ‘easy’ makes you undesirable to potential partners. But is this assumption valid?

Research on mate preferences offers mixed evidence:

  • Some studies show that both men and women prioritize kindness in a long-term partner over traits like physical attractiveness or social status.
  • However, other research indicates that men are more attracted to assertive, dominant women for short-term relationships and value agreeableness more in long-term mates.
  • Dominance and assertiveness tend to rank higher than niceness for women evaluating men as short or long-term partners.

So while being nice may support long-term romantic success, more assertive traits seem advantageous for initial attraction, especially for women pursuing men. This aligns with the old adage that ‘nice guys finish last’ dating-wise. But it’s an oversimplification.

Key factors impacting dating success for nice girls

Several variables influence whether niceness helps or hinders women in dating and relationships:

Factor How It Impacts Success
Relationship goals Niceness supports long-term bonds but may undermine short-term connections
Mate preferences Some, but not all, partners prioritize assertiveness over agreeableness
Communication style Voicing needs and boundaries attracts healthier partners
Self-esteem Confidence and self-worth maximize choices and satisfaction

As the table illustrates, being assertive and learning to communicate needs and boundaries in a relationship can offset potential downsides of niceness for women seeking romance. Confidence also plays a pivotal role in romantic fulfillment for nice girls.

Professional costs of being too nice

Beyond dating, do nice girls also lag behind career-wise? Some research suggests they do:

  • One study found that more agreeable people earn significantly lower incomes, even controlling for occupation and industry.
  • Another study showed that highly empathetic medical residents were perceived as less competent by faculty and patients.
  • Women who adopt feminine speech patterns associated with niceness, like uptalk or vocal fry, tend to be judged as less competent and capable.

This data indicates that excessive niceness can undermine perceptions of competence and limit professional advancement, especially for women. However, it’s not an inevitable outcome.

Strategies for nice girls to also finish first professionally

Nice girls can proactively counteract potential career obstacles by:

  • Learning to advocate for themselves and voice needs
  • Seeking leadership opportunities to increase visibility
  • Building negotiation skills to earn fair pay and rewards
  • Networking strategically to find supporters and sponsors
  • Owning their expertise and contributions
  • Aligning with company values but not at personal expense

With the right strategies, nice girls can achieve great success in male-dominated fields like business, technology, and politics. For example, consider leadership styles like servant leadership that merge niceness with courageous decision-making. The bottom line is that professional achievement and interpersonal kindness need not be mutually exclusive.

The importance of balance and boundaries

Rather than view niceness as a weakness, it may be more constructive to consider it a dimension of character requiring balance. As positive psychology pioneer Martin Seligman proposed, over-deploying a strength can become problematic. The key is to temper niceness by:

  • Learning to set healthy boundaries and say ‘no’ when needed
  • Speaking and acting with self-assurance when required
  • Believing in your inherent self-worth and value
  • Moderating people-pleasing tendencies appropriately

With self-insight and skillful calibration, nice girls can leverage their social intelligence to forge meaningful bonds, while also pursuing self-actualization across all life domains. Rather than finish last, they can have it all.

Tips for finding balance as a nice girl

Here are some concrete tips to help nice girls strike the right equilibrium between care for others and care for self:

Area Balance Tips
Self-talk – Challenge negative self-beliefs with affirmations of self-worth
– Celebrate your unique gifts and talents
Relationships – Evaluate whether people deserve your help or empathy
– Learn to say no and set boundaries
Career – Quantify your contributions to validate your worth
– Research fair pay rates when negotiating salary
Stress management – Make time for self-care activities
– Monitor physical and emotional energy levels

With concerted effort across these spheres, nice girls can absolutely thrive socially, romantically, and professionally.


The core qualities of genuine niceness – care, empathy, and conscientiousness – are unequivocally positive. However, taken to unhealthy extremes or not balanced with boundary-setting and self-care, niceness can impede personal success and satisfaction.

By leveraging their social strengths while also asserting needs appropriately, nice girls can absolutely finish first where it counts – in love, work, and life. A thoughtful, multidimensional approach to niceness that integrates self-worth, communication skills, and strategic thinking is the key.

So do nice girls finish last? With insights, intention, and a little more gumption, nice girls can have it all – fulfilling relationships, rewarding careers, and deep self-esteem. The potential pitfalls of excessive niceness can absolutely be circumvented. Rather than view it as a weakness, nice girls can reframe it as a strength deserving thoughtful stewardship. With balance, authenticity and courage, there is no limit to how far niceness can take you.