I had a drink with a friend the other night who spent the entire time pouting as he regaled me with the latest details of his most recent failure in the dating world. “Girls don’t like me because they don’t like nice guys!” he said. “Girls only like assholes. No one ever wants to date me because I’m too nice,” he whined.
I’ve had this conversation multiple times with lots of my guy friends, and the one thing I always tell them is this: women do like nice guys, because no one wants to be with a jerk, but there’s a difference between being aNice Guy and being a guy who is nice. Recognizing the difference between the two is key.
A Nice Guy is always there for you, in every situation, with a shoulder to cry on, a salve for your ire, the ultimate yes-man. A guy who is nice will be there for you when he can and only if you need him, and he won’t be afraid to tell you if you’re wrong. A Nice Guy will bend over backwards to be the kind of person you’ve always wanted, a guy who is nice will have a personality that is not forged from the ashes of your own, with interests that are entirely separate from yours. Nice Guys yell at you to “SMILE BEAUTIFUL!” on the street, and don’t understand why you scowl and pull your scarf tighter around your neck. A guy who is nice will just smile at you as you’re walking home from the subway. Women like guys who are nice. We want to date them. But Nice Guys, not so much. Why?
Nice Guys treat friendship as a carefully calculated series of hoops that they must jump through in order to defeat the final boss, and get in your pants. They show up at your door bearing magazines and Kettle Chips when you’re having a hard day, and will endure hours of “Dance Moms” just to be in your presence. These small acts of “kindness” are just the foundation for what will inevitably turn into a rebuffed advance. Nice Guys seethe when they are rejected, telling you that they deserve things because they’ve always been NICE to you. Nice Guys are bitter. Nice Guys aren’t really that nice at all.
Here’s the thing about being a Nice Guy: we can sniff that shit out a mile away. We have all been around the block enough times to see you bending over backwards to be the kind of person you think a woman wants. We are already anticipating the heat that we might catch if the date doesn’t go well, or if we gently decline your texted advance after the night is over. We are ready, but it doesn’t men that it’s not a huge pain in the ass.
The truth is that nobody really deserves anything, except for human decency, which, if you’re not a monster, is a perfectly feasible feat. No one has to like you because you were NICE. No one has to be interested because you held the door or awkwardly helped us take off our jacket. Hearts are not so easily bought, they are won, by guys who are nice.
A guy who is nice will to go dinner at a place that was chosen by both parties, perhaps even with some friendly banter over which restaurant is preferable. A guy who is nice will offer to pay but certainly won’t force the issue if you throw down your debit card and offer to split the check. A guy who is nice will disagree with you if he disagrees, and argue and talk and have a conversation with peaks and valleys, and intellectual stimulation, but will not make you feel like you’re being pandered to. A guy who is nice will walk you to your door, but will be content with a hug and a friendly wave goodnight. A guy who is nice will never make you feel obligated to do anything.
Beware the Nice Guy, and the occasional guilt that gnaws when you reject him. It’s OK not to like people. Not every person is right for you, and so, if you don’t have chemistry with someone in spite of the fact that they are exceedingly NICE, do yourself a favor and don’t feel bad. If you feel like someone expects something other than what you’ve already brought to the table in friendship or a relationship, there’s no need to feel pressure to do anything above and beyond what you’re already doing. A date is not a guarantee of sex — or anything. There’s no rule that says we must sleep with those that show us NICENESS. If you find yourself in a situation where you are somehow feeling guilty for ending the night with a pat on the shoulder instead of a five-hour sex romp, stop that! You are the captain of this ship, and there are no rules that you have to be NICE, either.
In the heat of the moment, it’s often hard to parse out what you want to do and what you feel like you should do. Say you went on a date with someone who seemed perfectly NICE. Say it’s your second date. Say you felt what might have been the brief stirrings of attraction, or maybe it was just the beer, or you’re not really sure, but he’s just so NICE. Maybe you feel a little bad because he’s so NICE, and so you let him upstairs, despite the fact that you’d really like to send him on his way. Beware this trap! Feeling guilty that someone has been NICE to you is precisely how you find yourself giving a desultory handjob while making grocery lists in your head. Don’t let the Nice Guy win. Wait for the guy who is nice and let him win you over.