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Am I too nice for girls to like me?
by Cait Robinson
Have a question? Email email@example.com. Letters may be edited for length, content, and clarity.
Dear Miss Information,
I was recently talking to a friend of mine and the subject of relationships came up. I haven't had many relationships, and the few I have had weren't very serious. My friend believes the reason I've had so little success is that I've been too nice. As in, I was being friendly with new girls I met and giving off a "not interested" vibe, regardless of my actual interest, and then getting friend-zoned.
I do think of myself as a fairly "nice" person. I try to always think of other people's needs before my own, and I'm always ready to offer a helping hand. So while part of me understands what my friend is saying, another part of me doesn't think that's a fair assessment.
Is being too nice really a thing? Do girls move on quickly if they think you're just trying to be a friend? Is there a time limit before which you must establish yourself as a potential mate, as opposed to just a friend? I've always been somewhat at a loss to explain my dirt-poor record with women. While I don't think of myself as a particularly great catch (given that I'm below average attractive-ness but have a nice enough personality, as I have plenty of friends), I'd expect that in twenty-five years someone would express more than a cursory level of interest.
It would be difficult for you to tell me whether I'm too nice, because naturally, you don't know me. Personally, I don't think of myself as too nice. If anything, I should always be trying to do more. But if that truly is a possibility, I'd at least like to know so I can maybe stop wondering what about me is flashing a neon "not boyfriend material" sign.
— Too Nice?
Dear Too Nice Question Mark,
In almost every context, I hate the word "nice." "Nice" means nothing other than "the absence of mean behavior." Think about it: if someone asks, "Do you know Alice?" and you reply, "Yes, she's very nice," what are you actually saying about her? You are saying that she has never set fire to your house or told you your haircut looked stupid. You are also implying that she has no other standout characteristics — she's not funny, sharp, profound, or otherwise impressive. She's just "nice."
As it pertains to that old chestnut, "girls don't like nice guys" — I think you're misinterpreting "nice." Girls love kind guys. Girls love thoughtful, giving, good guys. It's the "nice" (read: forgettable) ones that get passed over.
If you want to get past being "nice," focus on being noteworthy. There's a bit of defeatism in your letter. Why should a girl want to date you if you yourself don't think you're a catch? Nobody calls home to breathlessly exclaim, "Mom, Dad, I met somebody! He's kind of eh, whatever, and we're so in love!" If you can't get excited about yourself, getting others excited about you is hard. You're good enough with people that you have a lot of friends. Now, approach girls with the belief that you are a great person to know and have a lot to offer. Lead with your strengths, not with a shrug.
In dating, there are no set rules or rigid etiquette. Above all, just be accessible. It's not a game of poker where the most evasive person wins. To that end, this statement — "…giving off a 'not interested' vibe, regardless of my actual interest" — seems like the biggest problem. Vulnerability and honesty are big turn-ons. If you stay walled-off, you won't make connections, and nobody will notice what makes you cool. You will just be "nice."
You don't have to be a perfect ten to find love. Most of us aren't. You just need to find your angle, and work it. To paraphrase David Sedaris, "If you're not cute, you may as well be crafty." I can't speak for all girls, but I know I'd rather date a fun person with an idiosyncratic point-of-view than a super-attractive puddle of oatmeal.