It’s Complicated: What’s the deal with nice guys?

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Dear Reagan,

I’ve been unlucky in love pretty much my whole life. No matter what I do, girls brush my advances off and leave me wondering what I did wrong. I think I’m a nice guy, but I keep getting told that I’m “just a good friend” while the girls I’m interested in go off to date other guys. I want to get out of this rut. Any advice?

-A Very Nice Guy

Dear “Nice Guy,”

Okay. There’s a lot we need to discuss.

I want you to ask yourself if you’re a “nice guy” or a genuinely good guy. Because there is a difference. I’ve described this before this way: Nice is the packaging. Good is what’s underneath. 

A lot of times, the “nice guy” label is used by men who are just performing kindness in order to slowly build up a woman’s trust, so that maybe one day that woman will date them. They might seem nice on the surface and turn out to be a complete jerk underneath. Doing something, even a good thing, with the expectation of something in return is generally considered jerky behavior.

Are you nice to women because you expect anything in return? Your first impulse may be to say “Of course not!” but please sit with this question and answer it honestly. Women are not vending machines that you insert kindness into to receive sex or relationships.

Here’s what I want you to do: First, stop labeling yourself a “nice guy.” Nice people don’t have to constantly convince others that they’re nice. They just are. Next, don’t look at “just” being friends with someone as a negative thing. You have a new friend! That’s a good thing! If a friend lets you know they aren’t interested, be glad that they still want you in their life in some way, and try your best to move on. If you really care about them and don’t just keep them around as a potential girlfriend, it will be enough.

I think you are likely a good guy and none of this underhanded behavior applies to you. But I do want you to be aware of the “nice guy complex” and put in the work to avoid thinking this way. Be a good person, develop the confidence to be upfront about your intentions with women, and the whole awkward thing can be avoided.

I wish you luck!

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