It’s always interested me to note that girls like nice guys but rarely seriously date or marry them.  A nice guy is easy to control.  He’s safe, makes a great friend, can always play or laugh right along with the girls, never asserts himself in the uncomfortable role of leader or head, avoids those often embarrassing shows of male dominance and aggression, always is a good listener, and even offers a shoulder to cry on.  Who wouldn’t want a friend like this?  Nice Ned is quick to roll over, shake, and play dead in order to keep the waters from being stirred up and generally offers very little resistance to the every whim of Girly Gretchen.  He might think he impresses her by being so easy-going; he might even see marriage on the horizon.  Unfortunately, he’s the only one; and he’s usually bewildered when Gretchen starts going out with Macho Mike—who is a whole lot tougher, cruder, and rougher than he is.

Seems like Gretchen didn’t want to date someone who was identical to her girlfriends after all.  She throws her easily conquered Ned to the winds and binds herself to Mike despite his inability to listen well, his insensitivity, and his macho antics intended to impress that only embarrass.  Why does she do this?  I offer to possible reasons.


  1. The thrill of the chase:  Perhaps Gretchen is bored with guys like Nice Ned who she already has wrapped around her little finger.  More than Ned’s listening ear, his eternal laugh, and his caring heart, Gretchen wants a challenge and would sacrifice all those things for the chance to tame Macho Mike and bend him to her will.  Of course, once Mike is under her control, she’ll begin looking elsewhere for a bigger thrill, a harder hunt, and a more glorious trophy.


  1. The desire to be mastered:  It may be that Gretchen really wants more than a friend.  She wants a lover who seeks her out, woos and wins her, and makes her his own.  To be sought in this manner appeals to her vanity as she is made to feel immensely valuable, being the end of the pursuit of the man who will stop at nothing to have her for a wife.  Nice Ned only offers as much as her other girlfriends, while Macho Mike appeals to entirely different part of her psyche.

It seems that the wife of Bath nearly got it right when she stated that “women desire to have dominion over their husbands, and their lovers too; they want to have mastery over them.”  However, she goes wrong in implying that women desire to have dominion over their husbands because they are control freaks.  If this were the case, the large number of women who also desire to be valued, led, protected, and cared for would have to be written off as anomalies.

My own conclusion is that indeed women desire to have dominion over their husbands only because in the struggle for control they are assured, so long as there is a struggle, that their husband is a man and not just a girlfriend with different plumbing.

But I could be wrong…I am, after all, still very single.

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Posted by Tex


  1. Hey Tex, Hmm, I think I don’t agree with all your assessments here… Maybe it’s because I just watched Fight Club and read Wild at Heart in my quest to understand men…or maybe it’s just b/c I’m a girl, but I think the real point of most women’s dissatisfaction with “Nice Ned” is that they want real strength – purposefulness, boldness, clear-mindedness, ability to pursue and conquer. On the other hand, I would content that they (we) actually don’t want “Macho Mike” b/c the strength needs to be submitted to God’s ways and lived in the love and gentleness of God as well – selfish, brutish behavior doesn’t make anyone very happy.

    I don’t mean this as a slam, I mean rather that our culture, as women and men, we encourage a kind of softening of men and then are dissatisfied with them when they act softly. Eldredge offers some comments that might be helpful (forgive the length of my post, but I believe your comments deserve conversation)

    He talks about men being men, not “manly men” who don’t shave, who play with guns, and drive big trucks, but real men of whatever variety. Strong, brave, willing to fight the world for the sake of Christ, for their wife, for goodness, truth, and beauty. Willing to test their integrity, make risks, find a little adventure, live outside of niceness or Christian boxes and really live. (this is VERY attractive but is neither Ned nor Mike) The summary is three things a man needs – A battle to fight, a Beauty to rescue, and an Adventure to live.
    Battles come in all shapes and sizes, but require a fair amount of courage, a willingness to get hurt and suffer along the way, a willingness to take risk, and a desire to protect. The beauty to rescue part – that’s generally us – the damsel in distress, or more accurately, the beautiful lady high up in her tower needing a Man to be her protection and fight for her. It can also be fighting for the beauty and mystery of God or to preserve beauty in the world. The adventure to live part is the finding purpose in life, finding a calling, a telos if you will. Not being blown by the wind wherever life seems to take you, but taking risk, looking to something bigger, something wilder, something dangerous – like God, “he’s not safe, but he’s good.”

    For us ladies, he suggests several different, but related things – that we want to be fought for, that we want an adventure to share, and we want a beauty to unveil. Fought for – we want to be chosen, to be wanted and pursued. The adventure – we don’t want to BE the adventure, we want to be caught up in something greater than ourselves. Beauty to unveil – God-given beauty that is the highest beauty of his earthly creation, something to entice and inspire and share with our man, something that will captivate him, something that can be recognized as truly beautiful.

    Then, that we need to know that we’re lovely. Lovely, exquisite, exotic, and chosen. We ask, “Will you pursue me? Do you delight in me? Will you fight for me?” Interestingly, he points out that we reflect God in this way – God wants to be loved, he wants to be a priority to someone. God wants to talk, he loves developing the relationship, he desires shared adventure. God also has beauty to unveil – as he created each stage of creation more beautiful than the one before “Eve was the crown of creation” David asks to look upon the beauty of the Lord, he too wants to be noticed, to be adored and worshipped (more rightly than we females I dare say).

    Again, I’m sure I’m not doing justice to the poor man’s book, but so much of it struck me as common-sensically true. That much of our culture does try to feminize men b/c they are dangerous seems true – it is largely to men that we owe violent crime, rape, the spread of pornography, street fights, but it is also largely because of men that we won WWII, that we have policemen and firefighters willing to take risks to keep us safe, that America was discovered, that the west was explored and won, that Everest was scaled, that we have Beethoven’s 5th…

    I think his main point was that as a man you’re not doing anyone a favor, least of all yourself, your wife or God, by simply burring your strength, sense of wildness and adventure, roughness, even carefree risk-taking, that’s simply weakness. The best thing you can do is cultivate all of that into the tools of God’s handiwork for His purposes. He doesn’t want a weak tool, He wants a useful, but obedient tool.

    Anyway, there’s my 2 cents for what it’s worth (hmm, maybe 4 cents!) ;)


  2. Good points. I think the feminizing of men in our culture has caused many women to revolt against the nice guys all around them and seek for something different. Often times, the other alternative is something like Macho Mike–an attempt at manliness that falls short by being mere machissmo. A man like the one described by Eldredge would bring all the good aspects of both Ned and Mike to the table and avoid the cariactures by walking the middle line. Of course, that golden mean is so hard to find and adhere to. However, a move in that direction might be the sort of thing that would solve the problem of nice guys who sometimes seem to be women in disguise on the one hand, and tough guys who are hardly human on the other.

    The necessary correlation to the proposal that men become more wild at heart, is that women be prepared to give up their position of power and control. This is where I think that the Wife of Bath had things figured out. The feminist movement was little more than a power grab, an attempt to let women start calling the shots and take on traditional male roles. Surprisingly (or not), most men were only too happy to comply by giving up all their responsibilites and becoming the classic couch potato dad. Women may want to be in control, however, in doing so they push men out of their role and leave them with the schizophrenic split of becoming Ned or Mike.


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