Introduction to the Basic Five Types of Guys
Despite efforts by some elements of society to convince us that women and men are basically similar – and any apparent differences are due to the ruthless domination of the patriarchal society – it is abundantly clear that guys and gals are from two different planets. (Just ask John Gray, who made a fortune from his wildly popular Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus books and seminars.) While I do support many of the initiatives of feminism over the past decades, and I get a kick of the rash of recent films depicting busty women acting like men by kicking butt, toting automatic weapons, and blowing things up, I want you to know that the minds of men do not work like yours. Not even close.
In his book, Understanding Guys, A Guide for Teenage Girls, author Michael Gurian explains that men – especially teens – are truly dominated by testosterone, the hormone of aggression. Females, in contrast, experience high levels of the bonding hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Guys, in general, exhibit significant differences from gals, including the urge for quick release of tension, repression of feelings, dominating behaviors, outbursts of aggression, delayed emotional reactions, immediate problem solving, and many fewer words. Gurian also notes significant differences in the workings of the male and female brains, including greater overall activity in the female brain, and he helps us understand how the survival behaviors of cave men and women are translated into modern living.
As the old saying goes, “women want relationships; men want sex.” This information tempts us to conclude there are only two kinds of guys: those who are hot to snatch your bootie, and those who are not. And the majority of guys are in the first bucket. While I won’t bicker with that viewpoint, it is too crass and simplistic, even for me. Surely, there are many types of guys on a planet of four billion men. I bet you can’t remember any more than five, so I’ve narrowed it down a bit for you. I’ll be impressed if you can remember these five. To get down to five, we have to restrict our focus to ways guys relate to women. In other words, from the perspective of how they think about and relate to women, we can classify men into five categories. As you will see, there are a few sub classifications within the basic five. Yes, of course, I am oversimplifying the topic. I’m a guy, remember? If you disagree with me, fine. On the other hand, knowing these five types of guys can save you a lot of time, effort, and heartbreak.
The Basic Five Guys
As I see it, there are five basic types of guys. Bear this in mind and you’ll be able to see through the smoke screens and navigate the subtleties, if there are any. The five types of guys (based on how they relate to women) we are going to explore are
- The Guy’s Guy
- Mr. Shy
- The Ladies Man
- The Truly Good Guy
Today, we will talk about Narcissus.
Did you learn about Narcissus in Greek Mythology class? He was a strikingly beautiful young man who fell helplessly in love with his own reflection in a stream. He loved no one but himself. (As the story goes, he fell into the stream and drowned.) For our purposes, think of this first type of guy as “Mr. It’s-All-About-Me.” Simply put, he is self-absorbed, and you’ll have trouble believing just how much. While this might sound like a complete turn-off, Narcissus has many attractive qualities. He is driven. He wants to be somebody. He wants power and recognition. He is polished and articulate. He looks good. He works hard to earn the appreciation and envy of others. He appears to have his life together, and he seems like a good “catch.”
He sees you as a reflection of his special wonderfulness. He wants you on his arm because you make him look good; you add to his attractiveness. He will be gracious and charming to you, because he sees himself as a gracious and charming guy. He wants you to love him because it proves (once again, for all to see) he is lovable, even irresistible. Surprisingly, this type of relationship can last a long time, especially if you are good at making him the center of attention.
Some folks will tell you this type of man is very insecure, and therefore he is fixated on making himself successful enough to be lovable. He is driven by a harsh and relentless internal Judge. They say he pretends to be better than everyone else to make up for his deep feelings of inferiority. I suppose this is true in many cases, but not all. I firmly believe that a fair number of self-absorbed guys really do think they are better than everyone else. Each has convinced himself that his view of the world is the correct one, and the way he lives is always the right way. He is very sure of his perspective, even to the point of being a self-righteous bigot.
It is easy enough to tell the difference between these two guys – the secure and the insecure. Watch how they respond to criticism. The insecure Narcissus will be defensive and resistant. He will bristle and might argue or attack. The Narcissus who does not entertain any self-doubts will merely raise an eyebrow and shrug off any unkind remarks, believing that the attacker is a sadly misinformed loser.
In both cases, the main point to accept about Narcissus is his heart is already taken. His loving gaze is turned inward. If you support his relentless need and efforts to glorify his “self,” you can win his lifelong loyalty. Yet, at the end of the day, it will never be about you. It will always be about Narcissus. In the parlance of literature, some women are happy to play the “foil” to their man’s leading role, and thus a Narcissus appears perfect for them. In their latter days, after many years with Narcissus, such a woman might feel a vague sense of emptiness, as she realizes her man never did develop any emotional intimacy with her. We can only hope they raised a family together, and the children give her the reciprocal love connection she needed – or she had a clandestine but fulfilling long term relationship with her fitness trainer or pool man.
I should mention a variation of Narcissus, which lacks most of the admirable traits of the fellow we just discussed. He is charming and attractive, maybe, but this guy is a freeloader, a Sponge. He is self-absorbed, but he is not driven to achieve anything of merit. He simply wants you to take care of him, while he self-actualizes and does whatever he pleases. Once such a guy latches onto you, he can be difficult to shake loose. How can you tell if a Sponge is trying to attach to you? Easy, if you find yourself paying on your dates to the places and activities he likes, watch out! If he asks to park on your couch for a few days because he has nowhere else to go, show him the door – regardless of the story he tells you. If his male friends won’t take him in, there must be a good reason. If he says he needs time to “find” himself, help him find the door out of your life.
There is another variation of Narcissus, which is the most dangerous of all the types of guys. Let’s call him the Dominator. He is very attentive to you, especially in the beginning. He might lavish attention and gifts on you. But he gets more and more controlling as time goes on. He wants to decide how you dress, what you order in a restaurant, when you visit your friends, who your friends should be, and on and on. He says he just wants the best for you. He might tell you how important you are to him and how much he loves you, but you will feel suffocated. This guy can become abusive. He can wear down your self confidence to the point where you start believing his destructive lies.
My sincere advice is to get away from the Dominator as early and quickly as possible, even if you have to lie and tell him you have a highly contagious venereal disease and you don’t want to give it to him. If things start to get out of hand, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.787.3224 or check out their website http://www.thehotline.org/.
As you can surmise, all types of Narcissus are my least favorite guys for you, despite the security and status they can provide. You’ll know you are hooked up with Narcissus if you find yourself saying, “He’s nearly perfect in every way, but I just don’t have a feeling of connection with him.” It is difficult to give up on Narcissus, because the future could be so bright, if only…
The Guys’ Guy
There is a joke going around that encapsulates the Guys’ Guy. In his girlfriend’s diary entry for the day are several long pages about how aloof and distant the guy was all through dinner. She wondered if the relationship was over, did he have another lover, had she hurt him somehow, and so on. But, surprisingly they had passionate sex later, she felt close to him for a time, and then he grew distant and went to sleep. She was in turmoil and needed to talk to her best friend about it (which they no doubt did for an extended period). Did he still love her? Was their relationship falling apart? Was he in some kind of trouble?
The guy’s entry in his diary is much shorter: “Played like crap on the golf course today, and the Sharks lost at the buzzer, but at least I got laid tonight.”
The Guys’ Guy is the textbook, testosterone-driven caveman who morphed into the twenty first century as the red-blooded, meat and potatoes American male. You know the guy. He has passion for some combination of sports, working out, video games, computer technology, music, cars, motorcycles, and TV. Hanging out with his bros is a major, major priority. Women are third or fourth on his list of interests, and they primarily serve as the sole source of valuable and much appreciated nookie. He doesn’t actually have a good handle on how to relate to the complexities of women, but he does have an adequate sense of how to go through the motions well enough to keep one around.
This guy is basic and easy to read. He does not say much, and he likes to keep things simple. With the Guys’ Guy, you often wonder if you have his full attention. Heck, you might wonder if he even has full attention. There is plenty of research suggesting that the male brain, while 10% larger than the female, does not simultaneously light up all over the place like the female brain. There also is less communication between the two hemispheres of the male brain. So, perhaps we safely can extrapolate that men are less complicated than women. This certainly is true on the emotional front. Don’t bother expecting the Guys’ Guy to engage in lengthy and moving discussions about how he feels about things. He can probably describe his feelings in a few words or a short phrase – and then he’s done with it. If you try to delve into an emotional sore spot regarding him or someone else, he is likely to advise you to get over it and move on with your life. If you want to talk on and on, he most likely will tune you out and mumble “uh-huh” a lot.
But this does not imply that Guy’s Guys are dumb. Some are and some are not. Some are very sharp, focused, and successful. Some are brilliant. However, these guys are literal. They won’t spend much energy contemplating the enduring mysteries of life, love, and the hereafter. Likewise, the Guy’s Guy won’t ruminate on what you mean to him. When you are not around, he probably won’t think much about you. Don’t take it personally; it does not mean he does not love you or care about you, in his way. The Guy’s Guy simply does not make a very compelling leading man in the steamy romance novel of your fantasies.
Nevertheless, being involved emotionally with a Guy’s Guy can be liberating for you, provided you understand exactly what you are getting into. Since he is not worrying about you, you don’t need to worry about him. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to pursue your many other interests and spend time with your girl friends – who will give you the emotional support, rapt attention, and long talks that he never will. If you can take him as you find him, and like him the way he is, the Guy’s Guy offers an honest, dependable – if sometimes predictably boring – relationship.
Under no circumstances should you plan on changing the Guy’s Guy. You might think he could be ideal for you “if only” he would…blah, blah, blah. Put that possibility out of your mind! Because he sees things simply, he gets pretty set in his views and in his ways. The phrase “often wrong, but never in doubt” comes to mind, but maybe that is unfair. He considered things and made up his mind, and that is that. This applies to politics, religion, marriage, social issues, raising children, career matters….you name it. He likely will become set in his ways at an early age, so either appreciate those ways, or find another guy.
You’ll easily recognize Mr. Shy, as there are a lot of guys in this category. While he might be outgoing in other aspects of his life, Mr. Shy is very shy, even sheepish, around women – not his mother, aunts, sisters (if he has any) – but around any girl that could remotely be considered a potential love interest.
Mr. Shy might be interested in you, but don’t expect him to make the first move. In his mind, he might be making the first move, but it won’t be direct enough for you to notice it. His “moves” are unlikely to include the words you, me, or I. For example, he might work up his nerve to say, “Who’s going to the game this weekend?” Don’t expect much more than that.
One modified version of Mr. Shy will appear very outgoing. He will act goofy, a real crowd pleaser, or maybe he’ll even tease you mercilessly. He might hang around predictably. Maybe he’ll even be great at long, heartfelt talks. You could even start to think of him as your best guy friend. But when it comes to actually expressing romantic interest in you in any straightforward way, forget about it. He’s deeply afraid of rejection. This reticence, of course, can become maddeningly frustrating if your fantasy is to have this guy sweep you off your feet. You keep waiting for him to step up and act like a man. Not likely.
Why is Mr. Shy so shy? Lots of possible reasons. Maybe when he was young he had no sisters or female friends and no male mentors, so women are a foreign species to him. Maybe he’s hanging around with Guy’s Guys who don’t talk much about girls, or perhaps he’s hanging around with a real Ladies’ Man (described below), who is intimidating him into inaction. He could have low testosterone levels, or he could be preoccupied with other interests, such as math, science, technology, chess, music, video games, and so on. Most likely, though, the main reason for his shyness is he believes he is unattractive, even ugly and pathetic. He cannot imagine why any decent woman would be attracted to him. For sure, he thinks you are too good for him.
Think of Mr. Shy as a turtle. In any intimidating situation, he will pull back into his shell and wait for the crisis to pass. If you find yourself smitten with a Mr. Shy, at some point you’ll ask yourself if he is worth pursuing, because your pursuit is pretty much the only way you’ll get him to come out of his shell.
- Shy guys can become loyal mates.
Is Mr. Shy worth pursing? Possibly. It depends on the cause of his shyness. If he just lacks experience, there is hope. Look for some spark of energy in other areas. Does he show initiative in any other dimensions of school or social life? Is he active in any social outlets, networks, organizations you respect? Is he passionate about anything that you and he might have in common? If yes, then hope is justified. If not, if he is shy, withdrawn, and ill at ease across the board, you might be highly tempted to rescue him and nurture him and bring him to life. Watch out! Even if you succeed in getting him to poke his head out of his shell to be your one-and-only, he might become morbidly fixated on you. You’ll become the center of his life, and he might even threaten suicide if you want to break up with him later on. In this situation, I suggest you turn your dreams of romance elsewhere, the sooner the better.
Let’s go back to the more hopeful situation, described above, where you see some passion in Mr. Shy for other areas of his life. This can be good. Your strategy should be to approach Mr. Shy cautiously, slowly. Give yourself a longer time to “coax him out.” If you can find a casual reason to hang out with him, not saying a whole lot, that’s ideal. That is, don’t try to make up for his shyness by “carrying the water” for both of you, by being super lively or animated. That could lead to a dysfunctional relationship where he expresses himself through you. This might sound ok, but most likely it will leave you unfulfilled in the long run.
I recommend matching his energy, being low key and shy initially. Make small talk, but leave reasonable periods of silence. See if you can find a topic that lights a spark of interest in him. If one does, and you like what you see, then this Turtle might be worth waiting for. His more confident self will emerge and he might prove quite charming. In time, you will be able to discuss his (former) shyness and other worthwhile topics. This could be a case where “still waters run deep” and you’ve discovered a sure-and-steady winner.
One interesting variation of Mr. Shy might more appropriately be called Mr. Awkward. In the animal metaphor, he’s a hyena. He’s making a valiant, if clumsy, effort to overcome his shyness, and he ends up being obnoxious. This guy is easy to spot as he’s always trying to be the center of attention. Instead of being suave like Narcissus, he’s ANNOYING. He might make rude remarks about your breasts, butt or other body parts, or say provocative things like “Got a minute? Sit on my face!” You want him to stop, shut up, go away – or worse.
Unfortunately, some otherwise cute/attractive guys turn into these Hyenas as they struggle to gain the attention of females. Are they worth bothering with? Believe it or not, in some cases, YES. Remember, these are actually shy guys awkwardly trying to overcome their insecurities and garner female attention. At least they have the (misguided) guts to try. Some of them simply need coaching or training on how to attract women.
If – for reasons you yourself have trouble understanding – you want to take a chance on a Hyena, and you are willing to invest some time and effort to get him to calm down and act more normal, here’s what to do. Arrange to spend some time alone with him, a bit away from the crowd he needs to show-boat for. When you feel the time is right, ask him what type of girls he finds attractive. Drill down to get as much detail as he’ll give you, especially after his initial wisecrack answers. You can ask some questions to clarify your understanding, but do not challenge or argue with him. Tell it all back to him to show you were listening. When he’s talked out, allow for some silence, and hopefully he’ll reciprocate and ask you what kind of guys you like. This is your chance to do him a huge service. Avoid the temptation to say, “I hate guys who are obnoxious loudmouths!” Instead, describe a sincere, down-to-earth guy who has “dynamic range” – the ability to be outgoing sometimes and low key at other times. With the air of great secrecy, confide in him that most girls prefer guys who contribute to creating a relaxed, upbeat-but-casual atmosphere, and who encourage everyone to “just be themselves.” Even if he blows you off and ridicules you, you’ll have given him valuable food for thought. Try the broken record technique on him over the next couple of weeks – giving him the same basic message – and I bet you’ll see a changed man before long.
Hyena might surprise you and immediately change his behavior in group settings. If he does, be sure to “reinforce” his behavior – but not by drawing attention to him in front of the group. Simply give him a little extra positive attention and appreciation, either alone with him or in a very small group. A tiny, tiny smile and nod can go a long way. The goal is to support his calmer nature without encouraging him to become dependent upon you for on-going direction.
Two other variations of the Shy Guy are Momma’s Boy and Puppy Dog. They are similar. Momma’s Boy literally has a domineering mother who is central in his life. He might be a very wholesome, good natured guy, who, ironically, is afraid of women. He might make an interesting “project” for you, as you try to wean him from his dependence on Mom and realize he can stand on his own two feet. If you succeed, you’ll have a trusted friend for life and maybe a good mate. There are risks, of course, because his mother might view you as competition and strive to make you miserable. Proceed with caution with Momma’s Boy, and don’t expect him to change in a snap. It might be wise to give yourself an unwritten deadline, say three months max, for how long you’ll give him to become his own man.
I am not sure what to say about Puppy Dog, because I don’t relate to the guy at all. I believe Puppy Dog is more common among the early high school years, although they do exist in smaller numbers well into the adult years. In a nutshell, Puppy Dog is the passive, subservient guy who gets a crush on you and follows you around, hoping for a crumb of attention. Perhaps he thinks you are the best thing that ever happened to him and he does not want to risk losing you. He does not know how to relate to women, and he fears making a fatal mistake, so he just rolls over and shows you his belly like a puppy dog. He might make a good first boyfriend, but you probably will tire of him quickly. You are likely to have some inner conflict when dating a Puppy Dog, because you won’t find much to complain about someone who always lets you have your way, yet you soon will be bored with him. If he is a thoughtful guy, you could have a frank conversation with him and explain that his excessive passivity is frustrating to you. If you can, articulate specifically what you want from him, explain it carefully, and give him one or two chances to “emerge.” Beyond that, you’ll know when it is time to move on. Who knows, a few years later he might re-emerge into your life as a Truly Good Guy (described below).
In general, the Shy Guy in his various forms is worthy of your consideration. If you are surveying the guys in your school or social circle for prospective boyfriend candidates, Shy Guys have some compelling characteristics.
- They can make very loyal mates and are less likely to have wandering eyes.
- You probably will have less competition from your female peers, as they might be unaware of the hidden potential of Shy Guys.
- There are a lot of Shy Guys, especially in high school and early college years. Develop some skill at helping them out of their shells, and you will always have a potential boyfriend in your midst.
The downside of course, is you will be coaching or even training someone how to “man up” when you really just want a real man. If you have patience and appreciation for Shy Guy’s issues, you’ll probably succeed in helping him come out of his shell. If you lack patience, don’t waste any time on Shy Guys.
Another unavoidable risk is – after you help him overcome his shyness around women – he morphs into a Ladies Man. We’ll talk about him an a future blog…
In the meantime, keep your eyes open for Mr. Shy.
The Ladies Man is the womanizer, the Wolf. He is deeply interested in women. Unlike the Guy’s Guy, he puts woman at #1 on his list of earthly desires. The Ladies Man is on constant lookout for some action – some female interaction. Perhaps wolf is the wrong metaphor, because the Ladies Man is more like a bumble bee flitting from flower to flower in relentless search of precious honey.
What exactly does the Ladies Man want? Well, that depends on what type of Ladies Man he is – a woman lover or a woman hater. Many Ladies Men are looking to “score,” to conquer women, to prove themselves desirable. Some are looking for excitement simply for the release of pent up sexual energy created by their heightened testosterone levels. The motivations of other Ladies Men are more harmful. Consider these traits of woman lovers and haters:
– Fascinated by women
– Attracted to their beauty
– Intrigued by their natures
– Obsessed with sex for pleasure
– Great company, good listener
– Helps women “blossom”
– Roving eye
– Loves many women at once
– Hates to be hurtful, but cannot commit
– Mostly cares about control and domination
– Wants women under his spell
– Women’s adoration is his ego gratification.
– Likes to be hurtful
– Fundamentally incapable of trust
– Deep seated anger beneath the charm
– Can be abusive
In both cases, the Ladies Man is not likely to be monogamous – at least not for long. He wants to experience all the fruits of the female orchard. Whether he is trying to “conquer” you to satisfy his male ego, or just driven by insatiable curiosity, most likely he won’t be satisfied with just one girl for very long. He’ll say, “There are billions of women on this planet; how could I settle for just one?” He might entertain ideas of marriage and children, but that means sometime in the hazy distant future. Right now, he wants to sow his wild seeds.
The Ladies Man is the most seductive type we’ve discussed so far, because his interest in you is genuine and his attention to you is rapt. He wants to know all about you, and he’s truly engaged in your conversations. He’s very smooth, sharing your interests, having long, serious talks about whatever is important to you. (He’s reading you like a book to figure out what makes you tick.) All in all, he seems like a great catch. That, of course, is the irony: he cannot be caught – at least not easily. Asking the Ladies Man to be in a monogamous relationship is like asking a butterfly or bumblebee to stick with one flower. Ladies Man wants to “pollinate” as many yonis as possible.
When you find yourself are being charmed by a dynamic, funny, sweet talking guy who appears very “into” you, remember two important things about the Ladies’ Man.
- He’s very likely trying to snatch your bootie.
- It probably won’t be very long before he gets preoccupied with finding a new book to read, flower to pollinate, bootie to snatch…
The Ladies’ Man allows himself to get only so close to you; if he starts getting closer, he pulls away. It is useful to think of a bull’s eye – the center of the bull’s-eye signifies the guy most likely to let himself get truly close to you. That’s the Truly Good Guy, about whom I will have more to say shortly. The Ladies Man is better than the other types of guys, but I predict he generally will pull away from you just when you feel that the two of you are really growing close.
The Ladies’ Man can be a lot of fun – considerably more than the other types we discussed thus far – so long as you understand whom/what you’re dealing with, and you don’t get overly committed. When you’re in your earlier man-dating years, the Ladies’ Man can be an ideal friend and lover, provided he’s the Woman Lover and not the Woman Hater. He’ll be a great partner for dates, road trips, just hanging out with friends. He’ll be an attentive lover because your approval will be important to him. If you’re having trouble becoming orgasmic, count on a Ladies’ Man to devote himself to your noble cause. But, again, don’t be surprised to see his eyes and heart wander to other females just when you thought things were really starting to click.
Even when the Ladies’ Man feels the need to move on, he’ll probably have trouble letting you go. There likely will be many breakups and reconciliations. It’s not that he’s completely selfish, it’s just that he really does appreciate and perhaps even love you. It might be equally if not more difficult for you to shake off the wandering Ladies’ Man. You’ll be utterly blinded by the perceived potential for a long-term relationship and find yourself wishing and hoping, despite consistent feedback from your friends saying, “Move on!”
You might think I am exaggerating, but the Ladies Man can be awfully difficult to rid yourself of. I know, because I was such a guy, and I caused my fair share of emotional distress to women who deserved better. They loved me because I truly cared for them and treated them well – when I was with them. Unfortunately, I always had one wandering eye and was looking for another flower to pollinate. At some points, I was like the guy in the circus who has all the spinning plates on poles, and he runs from one set of plates to another, spinning and spinning. It can be exhausting for everyone involved – especially on holidays like Valentines Day!
So, how should you cope with the ambivalence you feel when you’re hooked on a Ladies’ Man who wants to play the field? If you will agree to date “non-exclusively” (meaning you each can have multiple dates, partners, lovers concurrently), you can hang with the Ladies’ Man. You might have to “play some games” and be intentionally unavailable from time to time to keep him hooked and respectful. I advise against just going along blindly, waiting by the phone, taking second or third place, because that can become a downward spiral, where you end up being his fall-back, call of last resort. You’ll need to set limits on your availability and keep a clear image of what the Ladies’ Man is all about. Wishful thinking won’t work!
There will definitely come a time when you need to cut all ties with the Ladies’ Man, probably after he runs you through the gauntlet of broken dreams and dashed hopes. How best can you do this, especially if he continues to come calling with his genuine concern, wit, and affection? This will be a lot easier when you’re in your thirties and your biological clock is ticking, but it can be very, very difficult for younger gals who can’t get the Ladies’ Man out of their thoughts.
As with other pernicious habits, you’ll need to go cold turkey. Cut off all ties – no calls, texts, chat, emails, snail mail, chance meetings, slow dances at parties, etc., etc. NADA, nothing, ZIP! When/if the Ladies’ Man continues to dominate your waking thoughts, you’ll need to use the “broken record” technique on yourself. Counter every longing with the same thought. “He’s a good guy, but he cannot give me what I need. “ Say it a zillion times, until it sinks in or somebody else comes along.
You might be tempted to jump right into another relationship to take your mind off the Ladies’ Man. I guess it is worth a try, but it might backfire. You might continuously compare your new guy to the Ladies’ Man, and end up wishing wistfully for his attention and affection. A better idea might be to throw yourself into other activities you have enjoyed over the years that let you mix it up with larger groups of people. This gets you out of your lonely space, where the demons of lost romance will haunt you. The more active you are, the less likely your mind is to wander to your fun times with the Ladies’ Man.