What The “Whatever” Podcast Gets Wrong About Nice Guy Syndrome

The “Whatever” podcast has been going viral over the past few months with inflammatory clips and toxic dating advice. While this might be good for rage clicks, it perpetuates harmful dating myths under the guise of having a productive conversation.

By Meghan Dillon4 min read
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Shutterstock/Darya Chacheva

The Whatever podcast has the potential to be a positive force in dating culture by bringing several points of view together to have a conversation about relationships, but it often misses the mark by ignoring how nuanced many of these topics are. One of these topics is “nice guy syndrome,” and it missed the chance to have a productive conversation about what women really want from men in relationships.

The “Whatever” Podcast

You’ve likely seen clips of the Whatever podcast on your YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram feeds over the past few months, but why do these podcast clips keep going viral? It all has to do with the format of the podcast. Brian Atlas hosts the show, titled “Dating Talk,” live on Sunday and Tuesday nights at a studio in Santa Barbara, California. Each episode lasts between three and six hours and features a panel of guests to talk about all things related to dating culture, relationships, and the way men and women interact with one another in modern society.

Most panels are dominated by young women with various political and social views. Some of the women featured are OnlyFans models or work in the sex industry, some are influencers in spaces ranging from lifestyle to politics, and some work more traditional jobs in the service industry or the corporate world. Many (but not all) episodes also feature male guests who range from content creators to entrepreneurs to bartenders to dating coaches. While the male guests aren’t as diverse as the women, the majority of the panels have a varied group when it comes to opinions. You might think that this would be a great opportunity for meaningful discussions, but it’s not. Whatever has the potential to be a platform for productive discussion, but it’s mainly popular for inflammatory or controversial clips that go viral.

Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with a lot of the women who appear on the Whatever podcast to talk about how they love to be on OnlyFans, have sugar daddies, and have multiple sex partners. Since host Brian Atlas has a habit of purposefully cherry-picking unintelligent women, they don’t need any help making themselves look bad. Many of them are likely on the podcast to gain followers and aren’t interested in having deep conversations, making them easy to scold and embarrass, leading to social media clips that routinely go viral. He doesn't ever intentionally choose panelists to challenge on his show that have a similar intellect (he does, however, sometimes underestimate his guests). In addition to setting up an unfair advantage by choosing his guests, Atlas goes into the show armed with evidence to back up his points, making it nearly impossible for his arguments to get shut down in any rational way.

Do Women Want To Be Dominated?

Now that we’ve established what the Whatever podcast is, it’s time to get into a clip titled “Why Women Never Fall For The Nice Guy” and discuss how they had the potential to have a productive conversation but blew it.

The clip starts with 21-year-old Sydney, who had been speaking of her negative dating experience before the clip began, saying, “Personally, I feel like when they tear you down enough, you genuinely feel like you can’t get out and you can’t do better, so you stay and you handle it because you think, ‘Oh, no one else will put up with me.’”

When Atlas brings up that she’s attracted to guys like that, she confirms and says she doesn't know why she does it. He then asks 18-year-old Savannah (who also spoke about her past dating experiences before the clip began) if all of the guys she dated were a**holes. She says that they were, but they were also charming and good-looking, emphasizing that some were “way too charming, and I didn’t see through it.”

Panelist Brandon, 40, goes on to suggest that some women like it when a man treats them poorly because they like a challenge – they want to make the man simp for them. He also makes the valid point that some women will tolerate poor or even toxic behavior from a man because of their past broken relationships and insecurity. He argues this fuels the attitude that “whoever cares less wins” in a relationship. 

The conversation derails from there, especially with Atlas saying that some women like to test men by being dramatic because they want to be “checked” and “put in their place.” Brandon chimes in, arguing that women have an evolutionary biological desire to be dominated – either in or out of the bedroom, verbally or physically – and they won’t be satisfied until they are. 

Brandon argues that women don’t fall for the nice guy because of their innate desire to be dominated, but the examples of domination he gives go to the other extreme (being slapped, being choked during sex, etc.), and he completely missed the idea that healthy femininity desires masculine leadership – which is not the same thing as domination. Domination is more likely to happen with the immature “bad boy,” and immature young women are more likely to mistake the “bad boy” for someone who exhibits leadership. Some women are attracted to the “bad boy” because he’s exciting and attractive, and the masculine edge they have is undeniably sexy. Other women fall into the trap of wanting to “tame the bad boy,” only to learn the lesson that you should never date someone with the intention to change them

After experiencing a failed relationship with a “bad boy,” some women realize that what they thought was confidence was really arrogance, and what they thought was leadership was really toxic domination.

Unfortunately, Atlas and Brandon are feeding into the false belief that most women desire guys who treat them poorly, and therefore, the best way to get a woman’s attention is to treat her poorly, i.e. to dominate her. This line of thinking is popular in the “red pill manosphere” and can encourage toxic or abusive relationships

The Difference Between a “Nice Guy” and a Good Man

If a man isn’t the “dominating” type, he might opt for another strategy to get a woman’s attention – being the “nice guy.” But “nice guys” aren’t actually all that nice when they think they’re entitled to sex or affection just for showing respect.

TikToker @organicallykylie explains it best. She says, “The stereotypical ‘nice guy’ is usually not a good man. The reason being is when a ‘nice guy’ does anything even slightly respectful, chivalrous, or kind, he needs praise. He needs validation. He is constantly seeking validation through other people because he’s not even sure that he’s a nice guy himself.”

She continues, “A good man knows that about himself because his character represents that. He’s very sure of himself, very grounded, and he exudes confidence. You know that he’s a good man. He does the right thing even when no one’s watching. He doesn’t need everyone to be like ‘Oh, you’re a good guy’ because he knows he’s a good man. The nice guys are very performative and putting on a show, whereas the good man is not. You can see in the stability of his character that he is not putting on a show just for praise.”

Nice guys expect good things to come to them because they’re “nice” and believe that they are entitled to things like sex and affection from women. A good man knows that respect is earned and that he’s not entitled to anything; therefore he is kind to others because it’s the right thing to do. A good man isn't necessarily "boring", either. He can still be undeniably sexy and exciting without being toxic.

But how does this relate to the Whatever podcast? This podcast clip is perpetuating the myth that nice guys finish last, which falsely encourages young men to go down one of two unhealthy paths. The first path is to treat women poorly to impress them, and the second is to be nice to women for their approval. It completely ignores the third – and happy medium – option of healthy, respectful masculine leadership. If the Whatever podcast truly wants to have productive conversations about relationships, they would have, at the very least, acknowledged what everyday women actually desire in a healthy relationship. 

Closing Thoughts

The truth is that there’s a difference between a “nice guy” and a good man, and between a “bad boy” and a good man, and knowing the difference is key for both men and women.

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