Miss Information

Am I too nice for girls to like me?


by Cait Robinson

Have a question? Email missinfo@nerve.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.

Commentarium (126 Comments)

Nov 06 11 - 12:44am
Dee

I had the same thing happen in my last relationship; he was a trainwreck while we were going through the motions of moving out and I was steadfast. When I went over to drop something at his new apartment, he seemed in control and I started blubbering for the first time. I left the apartment, calmed down, drank a bottle of wine and now I'm sooo much happier.

Nov 06 11 - 1:32am
Myke

Let me just jump on this "nice guy" thing right from the get-go.

Girls like men with personalities. This, more often than not, includes "assholes." You know what I mean by "asshole." Call them frat boys, dumb jocks, bros, whatever. But this is where most nice guys give up on understanding women. Oh they just like those attractive confident douchebags, I'm clearly a lost cause. But you see, there's two other words there that turn women on, and they are "attractive" and "confident." "Douchebag" is incidental (god I'm using a lot of quotation marks). Confident and attractive people tend to see themselves as such, which also more often than not leads to douchebaggery. This does not, however, mean confidence and attractiveness are to be avoided. I think nice guys tend to jump to conclusions in that regard. There are ways to be confident and attractive without being an asshole about it, as many happily taken men can surely confirm.

They also have this rather arrogant belief that women should accept them for who they are, and that any woman who doesn't is just shallow and impatient. This is the dark side of niceguyism. The ugly truth is that nice guys aren't really the catches they like to think they are. Let's see: boring, unassertive, shy, passive aggressive, resentful, unkempt, and generally average-to-below-average in looks. Hm. I'm not even female, but if you give me that profile and tell me to pick between that and an attractive and confident asshole, it's not going to be much of a choice. I'd rather have someone fun and interesting with a few bad habits than a dime-a-dozen wet blanket who holds the door open for me.

So what's the solution? Nice guys seem to think it's "treat women badly." Clearly they love that, right? That's why they always date assholes, right? Actually no, they hate assholes too, they're just willing to put up with an asshole if he's entertaining and self-assured. And anyway, it's not like nice guys give much of a viable alternative. So basically, you need to boost your credentials. Pick up a hobby or two, try a sport, join some clubs, exercise, learn to cook, whatever. Be unique, be extraordinary, be FUN. But don't do things you hate just because you think women will like you for it. Try new things and stick with the things you like. Because women will like you when you start liking yourself. Anything less and you're just not worth their time.

Nov 06 11 - 10:44am
pars

" The ugly truth is that nice guys aren't really the catches they like to think they are. Let's see: boring, unassertive, shy, passive aggressive, resentful, unkempt, and generally average-to-below-average in looks."

Spot on, Myke. Let's also qualify that nice is not the same as CLOYING and is preferable when not coupled with teh total absence of sexiness.

Nov 06 11 - 12:59pm
anz

This is one of the best deconstructions of that stupid "girls like assholes" cliche that I have ever read. You rock.

Nov 06 11 - 1:41pm
babyjane

Agree with everything said above! I've dated one asshole, not because he was mean, but because he (seemed, at the time) hot, smart, and funny enough to make me ignore that fact.

Nov 06 11 - 2:04pm
jaycee

This. Good analysis and better advice.

Nov 06 11 - 8:05pm
LM

Myke,
I am so impressed.

Nov 06 11 - 10:47pm
s

Myke, awesome.

Nov 06 11 - 11:47pm
CT

As everyone else has said. DAYUM. This shit needs to be in its own POST. I have never actually seen someone sum it up like that. SO TRUE.

Nov 07 11 - 12:00am
eggshell73

Agreed, and would also like to respond to this:
"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. "
First thing I read here is "regardless of my actual interest". So, you're really not being genuine with these girls. You're putting on an act. That's not very "nice", in my book.

Nov 07 11 - 3:09am
MrZ

exactly, myke. most guys with any modicum of relationship sense eventually figure this out, at least intuitively if not directly.

Nov 07 11 - 8:31am
@eggshell73

I think what the person meant was, they got a not interested vibe. His friendlyness wasnt bold enough to come off as interest. This doesnt mean that he was putting on an act. It seems to me that he just makes a small attempt, and rather than persuing it by flirting more, he just decides to accept the friend zone. I too have taken an ass over the nice guy because they were more daring, very confident to the point of Cocky. Not the arrogant cocky, just cocky enough for you to grin to yourself and think, yea, i want him. Nice guys aren't that amazing. Many people describe my boyfriend as nice. However nice he is to them, he is Sweet, Thoughtful, Funny, Bold, and sexy to me. The nice friends i have, and would never date come across much like TooFriendly does. you need to make the effort to make an impression on someone. If you dont, yes, you will get friendzoned.

Nov 07 11 - 12:52pm
thinkywritey

Summed up very nicely.

Remember, guys: Deferential and without opinion is NOT nice. Passive is NOT nice. Scared is NOT nice. Like Miss Info said, we love kind, thoughtful, INTERESTING guys... not the passive/resentful guys Myke describes.

Nov 07 11 - 7:20pm
yougottabekiddingme

I disagree. This is not a good break down, but rather a truthful exposure of everything that's wrong.

For example: "I've dated one asshole, not because he was mean, but because he (seemed, at the time) hot, smart, and funny enough to make me ignore that fact."

That merely says you're a naieve idiot with poor judgement. I really don't care what you do in your own personal life cause it's not my problem or my buisness, but I really have no sympathy for someone who does that and I'm not going to sit here and be like "oh yeah,those "nice guys" just don't get it etc". Instead of lambasting "nice guys", which I don't claim to be, maybe you need to take a look at yourselves first. I mean,you give "nice guys" such shit over these things, but I never see chicks getting the same level of criticism or the push for being more smart,responsible etc. Maybe you should just encourage girls not to date "assholes".

Nov 07 11 - 8:26pm
yougottabekiddingme

"Girls like men with personalities. This, more often than not, includes "assholes." You know what I mean by "asshole." Call them frat boys, dumb jocks, bros, whatever."

Those are not personalities, those are falesly,superficial social identities blindly accepted by those with no sense of self who want to desperatley fit in, kind of like certain "nice guys".

"Confident and attractive people tend to see themselves as such, which also more often than not leads to douchebaggery."

Well,shouldn't we be doing more to discourage douchebaggery?

"They also have this rather arrogant belief that women should accept them for who they are, and that any woman who doesn't is just shallow and impatient."

Why shouldn't someone want to be accepted for who they are? Nice guy or otherwise? Are you really suggesting that people act like someone they aren't or act spineless just to fit in and adapt? There are asshole types who do that and are good at it and no one ever says anything about them for some odd reason(s).

"I'd rather have someone fun and interesting with a few bad habits than a dime-a-dozen wet blanket who holds the door open for me."

A few bad habits? That's minimalizing a major thing. I really don't care cause it's not my problem,not my buisness, but I've got no sympathy for anyone who chooses to get involved with someone like that. I mean,you date guys like that,your problem,don't come crying to me, you made your choice,not my problem,got no sympathy for you. Doesn't mean I want to see it happen to anyone, but it does.

"So what's the solution? Nice guys seem to think it's "treat women badly." Clearly they love that, right? That's why they always date assholes, right?"

Well,why not? Plenty of girls stay with guys that treat them like shit. I don't think it's right, I'm not trying to play white knight either, but you made the bed you gotta lay in it. They love being treated like shit by certain guys, and fall for it hook,line and sinker. Don't try to deny it either when you know it's true.

"Actually no, they hate assholes too, they're just willing to put up with an asshole if he's entertaining and self-assured."

"They also have this rather arrogant belief that women should accept them for who they are, and that any woman who doesn't is just shallow and impatient."

Well, it seems to me, this double standard of, if you're a self assured/confident/etc,it's ok to be an asshole/douchebag etc, but if you're a "nice guy", it's not, so why the double standard? I don't know about you, but if someone thought they were the type to walk all over me and be a douche to me,I'd beat the shit out of them.

I mean, and as much as I can't stand him, and I'm not even judging him or personally attacking him when I say this,his buisness,and those who get involved with him can deal with his shit cause I don't need too, but Tucker Max's books are filled with this sort of thing and he's celebrated for it, yet we condemn "nice guys" for the same things. I mean, his second book is called assholes finish first, and is filled with all sorts of arrogance and bragging and more than a few little bad habits.

Nov 07 11 - 10:01pm
Myke

I'm gonna ignore the raging misogyny and just focus on one important point: when I say nice guys should become more confident, that doesn't mean they should completely recreate their personalities. Confidence is grown. You're not born with or without it. You seem to think that's the case, but it's not. Confidence is a skill, and it can be acquired just like any other. And acquiring it does not fundamentally alter the character of a nice guy (and really, would it be so bad if it did?).

As far as assholes go, there's a reason there isn't much therapy for assholes out there. They're perfectly happy being awful. Nice guys are unhappy and seek help, so we give it to them. Assholes don't want help and wouldn't know how to seek it even if they wanted to. Assholism should certainly be discouraged, don't get me wrong, but it's a lost cause. You either prevent it early or it becomes pretty much permanent. Nice guys can change, no matter how much they'd prefer not to. I guess theoretically assholes could too, but it would take a lot more effort on both sides to make it happen.

Nov 07 11 - 10:54pm
yougottabekiddingme

Misogony? Where and how was I misogonystic at all? Cause I pointed out some uncomfortable truths? Btw Myke, I did want to say I do think you make alot of good points which I agree with in some of your other posts I did not first read.

I also want to be clear: I don't think those who are more successful/agressive etc when it comes to all this are assholes,when I say assholes, I'm deliberatley talking about and refering to those who are such, and the women who fall for that. It does happen. General base example: The jock/captain of the footbal team type and the chicks who fall for that.

I don't have anything against confidence. Whether you're born with it or not is another story.

Well,as far as the asshole thing goes, you really going to tell me that there are lots of guys out there who are awful in ways beyond a few bad habits, and yet chicks fall all over them? You really gonna deny that?

Nov 07 11 - 11:15pm
Myke

It's your assumption that women are just powerless before badly behaved men that I take issue with. That was one of the main points in my original post. Confidence and attractiveness go a long way toward overriding blatant asshole behavior. Women aren't masochists who are happy to be crushed under the thumb of the first asshole they can find. Yes SOME women are like that, but hell, so are some men. It's too small a minority to apply to a whole 50% of our planet's population. Assholes have some redeeming qualities, and it's those qualities that get them the girls. You may know a few women with low self-esteem and willpower, as I'm sure many people do, but it's a mistake to assume their faults are fundamentally tied to their femininity.

Nov 07 11 - 11:27pm
yougottabekiddingme

I never said they were powerless,when did I say that? I did say it was there choice, meaning they chose to do this of there own free will. And not that I think they're powerless before badly behaved men, but isn't that why girls say they like the asshole/bad boy types? The nurturing thing etc where they think that if they just take care of the guy he will change etc? They want to mother the said person etc.

I also don't think there faults are related or tied to there femininity,again,when did I ever say that? There faults are there faults of there own personality/being. They are responsible for it and what and who they deal with and all that.

Well,when I think assholes,I don't think redeeming qualities,or vice versa. If I think someone's an asshole and they're mistreating me or trying to walk all over me, I'm not going to let it happen. If other people let them,that's there problem,not mine. And isn't one of the constant complaints about "nice guys", which I'm not claiming to be that sort of nice guy, that they're door mats and should stand up for themselves more?

Nov 06 11 - 1:51am
sympathizer

'Fence-sitter' seems to be a reflection of my life right now. Two exceptions to it though, the guy she's seeing is one of my best mates and also my flatmate and I haven't been able to talk to her about how I feel because it puts the awkward 'trying to interfere' spin on it when everyone is friends. It's difficult enough having to only see her when I want so much more, but having to see them together. Makes me a little bit crazy, and it's noticeable. Friends have commented on my change in behavior. I don't want to be that, but it's so difficult to rise above it.

Nov 06 11 - 1:27am
Kevin

Your "best mate" is a dick for seeing her, and she's a bitch for going after him.

Nov 06 11 - 3:45am
shadows

amen.

Nov 06 11 - 4:13am
neh

Agreed.

Nov 06 11 - 5:04pm
Myke

Actually no, guys, all she did was go after someone available. Just like any girl is entitled to. That does not make her a bitch. Don't let these three delude you. You don't deserve her anymore than your flatmate does, at least not objectively speaking. Whether or not you're a better person/potential boyfriend than your flatmate isn't for me to say, but you're right to conclude this isn't the time to find out. It sucks that you missed out, but definitely don't go throwing a wrench into this because strangers on the Internet are telling you to. Not that I think you will, but goddamn do I hate echo chambers like this. The illusion of unanimity makes people do some crazy stuff sometimes. This situation sounds awful and I definitely feel for you, but the only real option is to wait it out and see if she ever becomes available again. Don't do anything rash, and definitely don't get resentful. This is luck, not fate.

Nov 06 11 - 6:55pm
@Myke

You're wrong.

I don't subscribe to "bros before ho's" under all circumstances.

But when your "best friend" and roommate is broken up over a girl, you don't go date her. That's cruel. I guess if you want drama, and want to make your "best friend" feel terrible, you do, but otherwise not.

With "best friends" like that, you don't need enemies.

And yes, she is a bitch, and is probably doing it to get even or cause drama for some reason. Your ex is all broken-up, so you date his best friend & roommate? No, that's cruel. Or she's addicted to drama. Or needs the ego boost of seeing the unhappy ex. Or half wants the ex, half doesn't.

Gee, what a coincidence, your broken-hearted ex isn't right for you, but of all the available men out there, the only one that is just HAPPENS to be his "best friend" and roommate? Nope. She's being a bitch on purpose.

>"the only real option is to wait it out and see if she ever becomes available again."

Wait it out? Now THAT would be being a doormat. Kick her to the curb permanently. And probably your "friend" as well.

--Kevin

Nov 07 11 - 8:56am
Myke

You're really just seeing things that aren't even in that comment. They may or may not be true, but there's to support your claim that this girl has deliberately chosen his flatmate to spite him. This poster hasn't even talked to the girl about his feelings, so there's no reason for her to feel his flatmate is off-limits. As for the flatmate, maybe he does know, in which case that would certainly make him a dick. Even then, there's nothing in this commenter's post that hints at his flatmate knowing about his feelings toward the girl, so I'm not comfortable even drawing that conclusion from it. As it stands, from what we know so far, the girl is at no fault here. It's kind of frightening how quick you are to assume she's doing it for attention and to hurt the commenter.

He certainly could kick her to the curb, as it doesn't seem like there's much of a meaningful relationship between them at this point, but he also lives with his flatmate, meaning he'll see her no matter what. So yes, being a doormat is the best answer in this situation. Better than causing a rift between two people out of jealousy. Flatmate situations get pretty ugly pretty fast when a mutual object of desire is introduced. Fanning the flames is definitely not advisable.

Nov 08 11 - 12:42am
@Myke

Errr...we're each making different assumptions about the situation, so we'll never meet in the middle. "Sympathizer" says Fencesitter is a reflection of his life with just 2 exceptions. Well, Fencesitter was dating his girl, who is now dating a new guy. So I assumed Sympathizer was dating his girl, who is now dating his flatmate. I could be wrong. Or maybe you are. But unless Sympathizer posts a clarification, I guess I'm not going to follow this thread anymore.

--Kevin

Nov 06 11 - 1:04am
Betty

Spot on advice for both letter writers. To LW1: To a certain extent there is a time limit with girls on when to show interest, because (for me at least) if I think that a guy isn't interested I move on mentally. There are subtle things that you can do to let a girl know that you're interested (proximity, leaning towards her rather than away or neutral, casual "bumping" of hands, smiles when making eye contact) that are small enough to send a message without being creepy or overly aggressive.

Nov 06 11 - 1:36am
Caitlin

To the first guy: I don't think you have nice guy syndrome yet, but you're heading there... be careful. "Expecting" for girls to show interest in you just because you're nice is a stone throw away from "I deserve to have girls show interest in me"
There are probably other reasons. Unless you wear t-shirts with "I prefer to date men" written on them, most single women aren't taking friendliness the wrong way.

Nov 06 11 - 3:08am
well

I was expecting the worst from LW1 -- often the "nice guys finish last" questions are really passive-aggressive moves to shift the blame for their relationship shortcomings onto all women -- but he actually seems genuinely inquisitive and objective about his situation. I'd just add a note that some people think "being nice" means coming across as a doormat. Not saying he is definitely this type, but the comment "[i]f anything, I should always be trying to do more" is a bit telling. Sometimes people feel awkward if you come right at them with over-the-top generosity and an eager-to-please attitude. Better to start off fun and a bit mysterious while conveying confidence and interest. Impress them with your giving nature after you've gotten to know each other a bit more (e.g. in bed).

Nov 06 11 - 11:49am
@well

>the comment "[i]f anything, I should always be trying to do more" is a bit telling.

I took that as him doing the opposite of "blowing his own horn". I thought he was trying to avoid bragging saying "I'm such a great person to everyone".

--Kevin

Nov 07 11 - 11:29am
Too Nice

I appreciate everyone's comments. To Caitlin, I want to assure you that I very much do not expect girls to like for any reason. I deserve nothing and if I haven't earned someone's interest, that's my own issue. I am honestly just trying to figure out the disconnect between having a good number of friends, many of whom are girls, and having girls be interested. Again, I do not blame girls for this, if they all tend to agree that I'm not "whatever", then it's on me to figure out why that is and improve. And thank you Kevin, for picking up on that. I'm really not that great of a person, so I certainly didn't want it to come across that I was trying to look anything more than average.

Nov 07 11 - 8:41pm
yougottabekiddingme

"I was expecting the worst from LW1 -- often the "nice guys finish last" questions are really passive-aggressive moves to shift the blame for their relationship shortcomings onto all women"

Define shortcomings.

Nov 06 11 - 3:45am
shadows

amen.

Nov 06 11 - 3:47am
the truth

girls like assholes who abuse them, deal with it.

Nov 06 11 - 5:40am
Dee

That sounds like something a future date rapist says.

Nov 06 11 - 7:44am
txt

seriously, i want to see that statement debunked once and for all. it's the same line every single lame unfunny sitcom uses, but i haven't found that to be true in the real world. everyone wants to meet someone who appreciate him or her.

Nov 06 11 - 1:46pm
babyjane

Some girls do like assholes who abuse them, often because they have been abused before and don't realize what's wrong with the relationship before it's too late. Most girls, the ones with senses of self worth, don't like assholes or being abused. Don't pretend that the exception is the norm.

Nov 06 11 - 1:54pm
@txt

If you rephrase the OP's comment as "SOME women like assholes who abuse them", I don't see how there's really any room for argument. Some people think a real relationship has to involve drama, and they get hooked on the massive ups and downs and attendant rushes of emotion. Something that doesn't get talked about much is that being with an abuser can make life a lot simpler; instead of having to deal with the messy realities and ambiguities of living life as an autonomous, independent human being, you simply build your entire existence around another person's whims, moods, and needs. So no, not everyone wants to be appreciated; some people want to be dominated, or want the roller-coaster ride, or want to feel any number of other things that are less important to them than appreciation.

Mostly, though, the "asshole" trope boils down to a couple things: first, Henry Kissinger's old dictum that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac; second, that most women lose sexual interest in a man if he doesn't make her feel some degree of anxiety. LW1's problem isn't that he's too nice or kind -- though being nice and kind aren't particularly effective ways of getting laid. His problem is that he doesn't convey power, or dangerousness, or any of the things that women actually want (which can be totally different from what they SAY they want -- hardly a sexist notion, as some of you are no doubt chomping at the bit to claim, since after all most human beings aren't very good at actually identifying what they want).

Nov 06 11 - 11:26pm
JO

I think the problem (well, one of the problems...) with the OP's comment is that it makes it seem like only women are ever susceptible to unhealthy relationships. Men have also written in for advice about always ending up with the "crazy girlfriend". No, there may not necessarily be the same threat of physical abuse when a woman is "crazy" (which is, itself, a pretty lazy way to describe what's likely a mutually awful situation), but there are plenty of guys out there who serially date women neither they nor anyone else should be dating.

Nov 07 11 - 12:55pm
thinkywritey

"Girls like assholes who abuse them" is only as true as "boy like girls who like to be abused."

Which is to say, it is true for people who are fucked in the head, in both directions.

Nov 06 11 - 4:21am
nope

Most girls will assume that if you don't show interest in them, it's because you're not interested in them. This whole "friend zoned" concept is bullshit. If you never make any attempt to move the friendship into something more serious, how the fuck do you know whether or not you've been "friend zoned"? Make your move! Until you do, the only person "friend zoning" you is yourself. If you are actively rejected with that "I don't want to hurt our friendship" line, the guy/girl saying it is just trying to be kind to you. You weren't "friend zoned," they just aren't that into you.

Your friend was also trying to be kind, because when someone asks "Why do I have so much trouble in relationships?" the truth is rarely an easy pill to swallow. I don't know you, so I can't tell you the actual problem your friend was skirting when they said, "You're just too nice." But I do know a lot of guys who used to be just like you, and the problem is usually less that they're Too Nice, and more that they're Too Afraid to Make a Move. Too Expectant. Too Ready to Give Up.

Nov 07 11 - 11:21am
Too Nice

I think that's a very good insightful comment that probably applies to many people out there. But as for me personally, I wouldn't complain about a situation where I Didn't even make that move. I have done so several times over the years and largely been met with rejection. Now, seeing as this is a common response I understand that the issue lies with me, whether its picking the wrong girls, moving too fast, too slow, whatever it may be. But the issue most certainly has not been lack of trying.

Nov 06 11 - 6:49am
Heather

I agree with Miss Info. I had a male friend like that too. You need to show the girl you're interested. Tell them something personal about yourself. Ask personal questions about herself. You need to OPEN UP. Verbally. And stop playing cool by pretending you're not interested. Be expressive. Be open (verbally, physically. Smile. Accidentally bump hands. Gaze at them (though not at their privates). Show you're interested. Tell them what your (positive) first impression was. Talk about what moves you, what you are passionate about. LISTEN. Ask for more. If you follow my advice you will definitely get someone. (Unless you are a secret psychopathic creep).

Nov 06 11 - 11:52am
Jud

we prefer the term sociopath.

Nov 07 11 - 11:16am
Too Nice

@Heather That does sound like good advice, Thanks for offering it. I've noticed a lot of people misinterpreting some of my words. I'm definitely not trying to "play it cool by pretending you're not interested." My concern that they just assume I'm interested because of how I act. I wouldn't purposely try to sabotage my own cause, that just makes things even harder.

Nov 06 11 - 9:48am
kelly

It's true, nice guy. You just need to show interest, make your intentions clear, and put your best self forward (obviously, if you're rebuffed, you need to quit gracefully, but still I think it's always better to take your shot in as clear a way possible). When I was younger, I wondered why the only men interested in me were assholes. I finally realized that it wasn't that nice guys weren't interested; it was just that they were afraid to express it directly, mistakenly thinking that doing so would transform them into an asshole, and this left me thinking that they just wanted to be friends. And I certainly wasn't going to pursue someone who clearly wasn't interested, right? The thing is that even after realizing this, the shy nice guys still just feel like a lot more work. If I have to make the first move, I worry that I'll have to make the second move and every move thereon after. No one, however nice, is worth doing all the relationship work by oneself, and when a guy can't even take a risk in the beginning, it makes him seem like he'll be a big sink for relationship energy.

Nov 06 11 - 11:51am
Scott

"If I have to make the first move, I worry that I'll have to make the second move and every move thereon after."
Way to keep outdated gender role stereotypes going. Is it fair for the man to assume the same thing then by the mere act of making the first move towards a woman? Should he be proud that he found a doormat? Talk about a double-standard.

Honestly, all of these platitudes about nice guys are so misguided--perhaps partially accurate, but only just that, partially--as to be insulting and tend to feed into their resentment of developing social relationships. "Well, clearly there's something wrong with you" is the condescending vibe thrown their way. 'Nice guy' usually means 'shy guy who doesn't happen to be a prick', as MI alludes to, which is probably right, but doesn't really go beyond the superficial and at the heart of the matter of why someone has poor social skills and difficulty approaching the sex of attraction. The general attack on nice-guys as 'sociopaths-in-hiding' is probably the most damaging and over-reactive, which hasn't happened in this thread (at least, not yet), but I've seen it around the web quite frequently (particularly at The Good Men Project) to the point that is has permeated our demonizing opinion of shy/nice people in general.

A lot more empathy could go a long way towards helping these guys out instead of treating shy people as a bunch of lepers who just need to 'get over themselves'. I think a whole lot of people here do not understand why people are shy/introverted to begin with, and how difficult some of these overly simplistic prescriptions are for them to actually go through. Putting yourself out there may be much easier for some of you, so the notion that a shy person is unable to do these things just as easily is obviously confusing to you, and really demonstrates little understanding, if not outright contempt. Unfortunately, most of us would just rather admit that we just wish shy people would just get over themselves and be more like us, and leave it at that. Get fucking real.

Nov 06 11 - 12:01pm
@kelly

>the shy nice guys still just feel like a lot more work. If I have to make the first move, I worry that I'll have to make the second move and every move thereon after.

Interesting how you come to a certain conclusion without ever even testing it once. But you're dead wrong. Yes, there are lazy guys, losers, unappreciative ones, etc. who will do as little as possible in a relationship, no matter who started it. They'll be energy sinks. But I've known shy or geeky guys that are dying for a relationship. And after some girl broke the ice and semi-aggressively got the ball rolling, the guys were very giving and seemed to handle a relationship "normally".

No matter your gender, I don't think passivity is the best way to go about turning your life into what you want it to be.

--Kevin

Nov 06 11 - 12:03pm
Renata

This is so true. Being the one never making a move and the one always making a move, there has to be a balance.
People just have to be clear with their intentions and stop with the games.

Nov 06 11 - 12:08pm
@Scott

>A lot more empathy could go a long way towards helping these guys out instead of treating shy people as a bunch of lepers

I think an even better perspective, instead of looking at shy men or women as an object of charity...look at them as an un-tapped resource...for yourself! If you never break the ice with a shy guy or girl, there's a whole population of people you are taking yourself out of the dating pool with. Most of them are going to be perfectly good people, maybe better than who you have been dating, maybe great in relationship, and one of them may be perfect for you. But you'll never know if they don't fit your stereotypes, or your dating strategy. I don't get the impression that Microsoft's Bill Gates would've been great with the ladies...but he might have been great to get into a relationship with.

--Kevin

Nov 06 11 - 2:03pm
A Mom

I have a female friend who is married to a shy engineer. They met in college, and his friends recognized his interest in her, yet had to coax him repeatedly to even ask her for coffee. They are now married and have kids. He's a great dad and husband and they are very happy. He's also very much like many male engineers who are married to my girlfriends - they start out fairly quiet and shy (so did my husband). So shy guy - ask your male friends for help and encouragement when you meet a girl you are interested in.

Nov 06 11 - 2:05pm
@kelly

"nice guys weren't interested; it was just that they were afraid to express it directly, mistakenly thinking that doing so would transform them into an asshole"

In fairness, there are a hell of a lot of women out there who think that a man who expresses unwanted interest IS an asshole, or "creepy", or any number of other things, because they resent the awkwardness and the fact that the guy doesn't already know where he stands. Men get some seriously mixed messages about this stuff, partly because the exact same behavior is interpreted differently when it comes from a buff blond 23-year-old surfer (so hot) vs. a balding 38-year-old nerd (what a creep).

Nov 06 11 - 2:58pm
nn

Eh... I think I understand what the poster above was saying. I've run into guys who are generally "nice," and consider themselves nice, but also seem to expect women to do all the work. They're passive all the time, and in doing so generally fail to ever express a great deal of interest in another person (which is not flattering). And for some women, maybe that's fine, but I like someone who can meet me half way. This from the perspective of a women who is willing to do the asking for the first and sometimes second date.

Nov 06 11 - 3:44pm
Scott

@nn

So are you suggesting that because you made the first move a few times (or are at least "willing" to), that resulted in men who are always passive, that therefore every one that you would meet from there on out would also be "passive all the time"? I'm not sure the point of what you're saying, aside from "I dated a few doormats, so any nice guys out there will be doormats." Anecdote is never convincing as an argument. As I mentioned before, by that logic, it would be assumed that men asking out the woman would result in her being "passive all the time", but it's obvious that this is insanely wrong and proves that this relentless railing on 'nice' guys demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of shyness and introversion.

Maybe there are guys who are shy at first, but open up immensely when they gets to know someone a little closer, and become more assertive accordingly? I know that's how I used to be. The problem with that narrative is it doesn't fit into the black and white observation that shy means 'always a pushover', and suggests that some guys might actually be far more complex than that.

Nov 06 11 - 3:53pm
@@kelly

>there are a hell of a lot of women out there who think that a man who expresses unwanted interest IS an asshole, or "creepy"

Yep, women do encourage "nice guys" to not make a move. Because a perceptive/sensitive guys picks up that some women will react harshly to unwanted interest. Even if she "hints" at receptivity, he'll assume she's just being friendly, and be looking for a more clear signal that she's receptive. Meanwhile the "assholes" don't care if the woman is disinterested, or doesn't notice, and doesn't care how she might react to his advances. Which helps get the ball rolling. But if he's too insensitive in relationship, it all goes downhill.

--Kevin

Nov 06 11 - 4:04pm
nn

Sure, some guys might be more complex than that. It's just unfortunate that the way a shy person acts is essentially the same way that a disinterested person acts, at least for the first couple of months. I think that's why shy guys, and to a lesser extent, shy women, generally wind up on the short end of the stick. I'm just pointing out that if you yourself are shy, you're best off working on becoming more assertive as opposed to complaining that other people won't give you more chances. To that end I think most of the advice on this page has been spot on.

Nov 06 11 - 4:16pm
Scott

"Sure, some guys might be more complex than that."
Clearly not enough to put down the stereotype though it seems.

Nov 06 11 - 4:17pm
@nn

>It's just unfortunate that the way a shy person acts is essentially the same way that a disinterested person acts, at least for the first couple of months.

Whoa, for a couple of months?!? Any guy or woman that acts disinterested for months isn't just "average shy"...they're like cripplingly shy. And yeah, they're going to need to work on themselves to have more success at building relationships. But this is ignoring the large population of men and women that are just "average shy". They may not be great at reading "hints" or receptivity or taking a risk when they have no clue if there's any receptivity, but once the ball is rolling, they're relatively "normal" in relationship.

I know a LOT of men and women that are "average shy". I've known VERY few that were cripplingly shy. You've had a weird run of bad luck if every shy guy you've dealt with is cripplingly shy. Maybe your radar is off and you're actually seeking them unintentionally?

--Kevin

Nov 06 11 - 5:02pm
nn

I think that if the shy people in question were showing adequate signs of interest, they would not be writing in to complain to begin with. So call it "cripplingly shy" call it ever you want, but I'd say that's what we're talking about, some mix of people who are very shy and/or very scared and/or just very bad at reading signals.

Nov 06 11 - 5:54pm
Myke

A few months of shyness is hardly crippingly shy. I've acted shy for longer than that. nn is right, disinterested people and shy people are hard to distinguish between. Which is why the onus is on the shy people to prove they are the latter and not the former. Women already have enough advances to filter out without having to consider everyone who DOESN'T make a move as well. Again, the only solution to this is working on your social skills. If you make a move, you're at least in contention for a little while, maybe even only a few seconds. But if you sit around and wait for a woman to fall in love with you, you're never in contention. It doesn't happen that way. Nor should it have to. Because it's hardly patriarchal or anti-feminist to say that women appreciate a man who makes the first move. It may violate your safe zone a little, but tough shit. That's life. You should get used to being made uncomfortable early, because life sure doesn't get any easier. Start young, get good at it, and hopefully there'll be a point where strangers won't even think of you as shy when they first meet you.

Nov 06 11 - 7:11pm
@nn

I disagree. There are plenty of "average shy" people that may be shy, or not read receptivity well, may be tired of rejection, or possibly disrespectful rejection. And what do they do? They turn to online dating, speed-dating, or emailing people they meet through Meetup.com. The "rules" are simpler. And any rejection happens through email in the privacy of their own home.

Once the ball rolls, they are "normal" enough people that dating proceeds "normally".

But they may still write in, because they want to solve their "real world" meeting issues.

When I say "cripplingly shy", if you can't handle the first date (regardless of who got it going), and subsequent dates...well, then your shyness is very strong and will really hamper developing a relationship.

But I've known plenty that are just "average shy". I used to be one of those too.

--Kevin

Nov 06 11 - 7:24pm
@Myke

>A few months of shyness is hardly crippingly shy.

The scenario being discussed was appearing disinterested for the first few months of dating. You don't call that cripplingly shy? I mean, if by the 3rd date you can't loosen-up, I think that is cripplingly shy.

>Because it's hardly patriarchal or anti-feminist to say that women appreciate a man who makes the first move.

I agree. OTOH, a woman that complains she can't meet a good guy, or the right guy, should try being less passive (which so many women are).

--Kevin

Nov 06 11 - 9:28pm
nn

"I agree. OTOH, a woman that complains she can't meet a good guy, or the right guy, should try being less passive (which so many women are)."

I'd agree this bit applies to both almost equally, with the caveat of course that many men ARE aggressive and DO make the first move. It has nothing to do with whether or not women would prefer it in some hypothetical gender-equal world but that it is simply the reality. So shy guys should learn to contend with it. As a woman, I've experienced guys aggressively pursuing me. So if a guy I'm trying to show interest in getting to know doesn't so much as ask me out (or flirt with me if I invite him out to coffee once or twice) I'm gonna feel a bit down on myself and move on.

To clarify the bit about acting shy for a couple of months, I'm referring specifically to cases in which I've shown interest in guys at group get-togethers, spent time talking and flirting with them, and asking them to get coffee with me, go to concerts, etc. These are usually self-described shy guys who also complained about how they thought girls didn't like them, etc. You may or may not call what I was doing with them dating, but if they were in fact interested it seems that I would have had to basically proposition them to get to a more official dating stage, judging by how little feedback I was getting.

Nov 07 11 - 9:07am
kelly

1. I am a shy and introverted person who had to learn to "get over myself" in order to sometimes make the first move and thus not limit my dating pool to the very most aggressive men.
2. There's real data behind my correlation of "nice" with "probable black hole for relationship energy." Like any correlation, it's not necessarily always true or causally linked, but if you're asking why women don't seem to be interested, you should know that the suspicion that you'll be ever passive might be part of the impression you're making.
3. Showing direct interest in someone is indeed scary, and being rejected doesn't ever feel great, but it's very possible do it in a non-creepy way, and the more you do it the easier it is. I'm certainly not advocating the kind of game-playing suggested above, but it actually does help to make the whole thing more like a game, that is, more playful and light. That's what flirting is. If you make every encounter into a referendum on your essential value as a human, it does make expressing interest difficult.
4. Myke, who are you? I love you.

Nov 09 11 - 8:47pm
boop

SO TRUE. I've just fallen for the asshole-that-isn't, and I completely get this.

Nov 06 11 - 10:18am
lb

Myke and kelly nailed it. I also felt "too nice" when I was younger -- had lots of female friends, was too shy to make a move, and so watched from the sidelines as they dated jerks. As I got older I kept learning new things that made me more interesting, got braver and more confident, and was astonished to find that women found me attractive. It can happen. Women don't want jerks, but they don't want guys whose personality is passive beige. Learn to cook. Learn to dance. Learn to do stuff outdoors. Be curious. Be willing to try new things. Have adventures. Be the kind of person you'd be excited to meet. Don't loose "nice" -- it's a huge plus -- but build on it.

Nov 06 11 - 1:50pm
Beth

This comment advice and discussion is great, and really interesting to read from the position of a "nice girl." I know I'm a considerate, attractive, personable girl, but I feel like I can't explain why my luck with men has been so bad. Like nice guy, I feel like I'm sitting on the sidelines while my girlfriends seem to effortlessly fall into relationships. I find the advice of making your move to be really helpful, but I was wondering if it's equally applicable for women?

Nov 06 11 - 3:54pm
Kevin

Which advice to you want to know is equally applicable? Quote it so we can answer you.

Nov 06 11 - 2:36pm
local

There is a huuuuge difference between "nice guy" and "doormat". Unfortunately, too many "nice guys" are so willing and eager to do anything and everything that it feels more like dating a puppy. On the other hand, guys who aren't doormats tend to really toe the line of being assholes. It is pretty difficult to find an alpha male who isn't an arrogant dick.

Nov 06 11 - 3:56pm
Kevin

I think there's a HUGE middle ground of guys that do exist. I wonder why you're not finding them. Have you actually dated a lot of "nice guys" and found most of them to be doormats?

Nov 06 11 - 11:22pm
Dee

Sexism is a two way street, local.

Sometimes I think if someone keeps ending up with a type of personality, it shows more about them then the people they end up with. Just saying.

Nov 07 11 - 4:47am
local

Unfortunately, I tend to attract the extremes on either side of that fence, its either "total asshole with lots of confidence" or "really sweet guy that sorta reminds me of a puppy" I end up being friends with the guys in the middle

Nov 06 11 - 3:02pm
nn

Also, from the perspective of a "nice girl" I have to say, sometimes it really is about looks and/or personality incompatibility. I've been rejected by my fair share of guys. I've also rejected my fair share of guys. Something a lot of people don't realize is that nearly everyone is rejected the majority of the times they put themselves out their romantically. The key is to keep plugging away, or so I'm forced to believe...

Nov 07 11 - 11:53am
Too Nice

I think this is something very important to keep in mind. Just because someone isn't interested doesn't mean it's a flaw with you or them. It could just be a lack of compatibility. The part that gets hard to deal with is when this is nearly constant.

Nov 06 11 - 3:03pm
Steph

So, i dated a nice guy... and i'm kinda a bitch... and it turns out he's got a lot of quirks that he doesn't like.. and he can be an asshole.. he's just not to me. And that's really something that attracts me to him. Keep on being the nice guy, but remember we don't mind to be thrown up against the wall and fucked :)

Nov 06 11 - 3:58pm
JCF

Being shy is being safe. You can always remain in your comfort zone, and bad things happen rarely if ever. It's just that incredibly good things don't happen that often, either. If you want those, you have to start taking risks, and that means more bad things will start happening as well. Start slowly. It's worth it.

Nov 06 11 - 4:23pm
RD

I can understand that a woman doesn't want to go out with a boring guy, but going out with an asshole shouldn't be an option for either gender. Just because you're physically attracted to someone doesn't mean you have to go out with him. Perhaps we can eliminate assholiness from our species by not allowing assholes to mate!

Nov 06 11 - 4:57pm
Myke

I'm finding it funny how it's almost exclusively men who are disputing this unattractive nice guy phenomenon. There doesn't seem to be much dissent from the ladies' side, probably because they're the ones who actually have to sleep with them. And frankly, if you're a dude defending the merits of being a nice guy, there's a pretty good chance you yourself are one.

Nov 06 11 - 5:02pm
Scott

Because the sample of responses from, what, 15?, 20?, users on Nerve is clearly a defining argument to back up your own point. Your abrasive war-on-nice/shy-people rhetoric is solely for people like you to marginalize people who aren't like you.

Nov 06 11 - 5:04pm
Scott

"And frankly, if you're a dude defending the merits of being a nice guy, there's a pretty good chance you yourself are one."
And the negative connotations of this statement only confirm that you are more interested in marginalizing these individuals. How about be proactive and help these people out instead of stepping on them while they are already down?

Nov 06 11 - 5:13pm
Myke

Okay listen, I'm not just some bully here to bust the balls of the socially awkward. I was a nice guy once too, and I'm currently gently coaxing my best friend out of becoming one. It's not that I don't have sympathy for nice guys. It's just that sometimes you need a good hard kick in the ass to get yourself fixed. Nice guys have essentially cocooned themselves inside of a lifestyle of safe decisions and sexual frustration, all from fear of being hurt or mocked. I get where it seems a little paradoxical to aggressively push them from that safe place, but that's really the only cure. Plus, I think a lot of nice guys spend a lot of their life getting positive feedback for their niceness. From girls who feel guilty for not liking them, and from guys who are in the same situation. This circejerkin' doesn't get anybody anywhere, though. The pity party needs to stop somewhere. I can get a lot meaner, but the OP doesn't seem like an asshole, and he seems genuinely curious about trying to improve himself, so I'm playing nice. It's the offended male commentators here that are a little less worthy of my time and patience.

Also, just to be clear: there's nothing wrong with being nice. You just need to have other things going for you as well, which is what Cait advised. Nice is nothing. Nice is just basic human decency, which any real contender for a woman's affection should be assumed to have. Nice is a good starting point, but you have to push a lot harder to make yourself dateable. And let's not even get into fuckable.

Nov 06 11 - 7:31pm
@Myke

>There doesn't seem to be much dissent from the ladies' side, probably because they're the ones who actually have to sleep with them.

Some of the lady posts have been from women who are just jumping to conclusions based on stereotypes and no actual experience.

>It's just that sometimes you need a good hard kick in the ass to get yourself fixed.

Or, more likely, coaching, training, explanation. A "dose of reality" doesn't necessarily equal a "kick in the ass".

>It's the offended male commentators here that are a little less worthy of my time and patience.

It seems like some of us have lived the same track you have, we just have a different idea of how other "nice guys" should be helped. Or how dating can work better for both genders.

--Kevin

Nov 07 11 - 9:06am
Myke

I don't know, I think a fair amount of these girls are speaking from experience. Most have specific examples to back up their claims.

As for the 'kick in the ass' bit, let me rephrase it: there's only so much impact I can have over the Internet. As much as I'd honestly be willing to talk it out in person and deconstruct the thought process step-by-step, I can't. I just can't. If that's your method, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. I opt for sarcasm and irony, because that's what catches peoples' eyes on the Internet. Anything less and nice guys can just ignore it and keep themselves safely in stasis. Actually calling them creepy and socially maladjusted hopefully hits hard enough to spur them into action, or at least self-examination. I'm not here to give -any particular nice guy- a hard time, I'm just here to give -nice guys in general- a hard time so nice guys in particular can continue the process on their own. The OP was perfectly civil and humble about his problem, so I responded accordingly.

Nov 07 11 - 12:02pm
Too Nice

Myke, your comments may be a tad strongly worded, but a majority of what your saying is sound advice. As it's difficult to paint a complete picture in such a small window, I would simply like to add that I don't feel that being shy is one of my major issues. I don't really "play it safe". If I'm interested in someone, I tend to let them know, because you don't know you don't try, right? I appreciate your candor, and I understand that everyone has their own methods for handling things, so don't worry about coming across too strongly.

Nov 07 11 - 3:39pm
Myke

Splendid :). Glad to hear it. Anyhow, you're on the right track as long as you make your intentions clear. Getting there in the first place is the biggest hurdle, really. The rest is a lot less counterintuitive. It's not so hard to go exercise, try new hairstyles, and find new hobbies. As long as you're motivated and you believe in what you're doing, it should become second nature after a while. Just keep on keepin' on.

Nov 06 11 - 5:07pm
nn

@Myke Flip the roles though. I hear plenty of women complain about how guys would rather go out with a glamorous crazy bitch than an average nice stable girl. Humans, men and women, are a sucker for drama and intrigue. Humans, men and women, are attracted to good looks and adventure. That doesn't mean being nice it's bad, it just means it's not all you need, like Miss Information said. It's really not that insulting of a concept.

Nov 06 11 - 5:23pm
Myke

This is true, but it's also rather defeatist, and it's where a lot of genuinely nice guys/girls give up. You act like people are just incapable of ever appreciating human kindness and compassion, which is a hefty assumption to make. In fact I'd venture to say dramatic/abusive relationships are a lot like drug addictions in that way. The highs justify the lows. Hardly a healthy ideal to which all nice guys should aspire. You and others seem to making a false binary between 'nice' and 'asshole.' Like people can only be one or the other and people can only like one or the other. This is the kind of thinking that deludes nice guys into thinking they're hopeless, which can lead to all kinds of depressive and angry behavior. The truth is much subtler. There's a thousand gradients between those two poles, but you're not going to find them if you just insist that you're perfect being imperfect. Self-improvement is so demonized these days, and I just don't understand why. Shouldn't we all want to be as attractive to ourselves and others as possible? Is there really any concrete reason why we shouldn't lose those twenty pounds or join that interesting new club down the street? Other than fear of wasted effort and fear of rejection, two common nice guy concerns. Well guess what: life involves failure and hard work. Shielding yourself from it keeps you nice and comfy, but it also deadens you inside and keeps you from appreciating the best life has to offer. Justify it all you want, but in the end, the confident people are still having more fun. That's all the proof you need.

Nov 06 11 - 9:14pm
nn

I agree with you. I'm not sure where you got the impression I wouldn't...

Nov 06 11 - 10:50pm
Myke

Sorry, you're right. I guess I interpreted that as being 'men have it just as hard as women.' Don't know why, especially as I agreed with you earlier.

Nov 06 11 - 5:21pm
AR

Personally, I like assholes because I can treat them poorly and not feel too bad. Can't be a bitch to the nice guys...

Nov 06 11 - 5:27pm
Myke

That's because nice guys basically are just puppies and anything you do to hurt them makes you look and feel like a terrible person. It's basically involuntary motherhood (except they're the same age as you and you're expected to sleep with them). How's that for outdated gender roles? Nice guys don't defy them, they perpetuate them.

Nov 06 11 - 5:29pm
Scott

"Okay listen, I'm not just some bully here to bust the balls of the socially awkward."

"That's because nice guys basically are just puppies and anything you do to hurt them makes you look and feel like a terrible person. It's basically involuntary motherhood (except they're the same age as you and you're expected to sleep with them)."

Well, glad we settled that.

Nov 06 11 - 5:33pm
Myke

And glad you evaded my entire argument in favor of a witty one-liner. And way to also avoid the second half of my comment, which was directly addressed to you. Your conflict avoidance is surpassed only by that of nice guys'. Also I'm a little mean, you're probably gonna have to deal with that. Just because I'm not candycoating it for you, doesn't mean you get to ignore it.

Nov 06 11 - 5:45pm
Myke

Also that's really not that mean. There are many worse names I could call a nice guy than 'puppy,' which is ambivalent at worst and sympathetic at best. I'm exploring the comment made by AR, this time from the female perspective. And I could go a lot farther along this whole Oedipal route if it so pleased you, Scott, but I think that's a little beside the point. So yeah, sorry if the sarcasm distracted/offended you. I assure you there's a perfectly good argument lurking underneath it.

Nov 06 11 - 8:16pm
AR

Myke - Freudian interpretations notwithstanding, having nice (i.e., kind, ethical, reliable, etc,) people around is a good thing. Still, everyone has aggression, some more than others, and I prefer to take mine out on people who "deserve" it. Deserve in quotes because of course it's not cool to hurt people or jerk them around just to express one's darker inclinations... but if I MUST behave badly, I'd rather do it towards guys who behave badly themselves. So I'm nice to my friends and nice guys who are into me... and sometimes not so nice to the assholes I attract. I can't speak for all women but I've definitely seen this behavior in friends of mine - assholes to play with and use as emotional punching bags, nicer dudes for more civilised relationships.

Nov 06 11 - 10:58pm
Myke

Oh certainly. I'm not anti-kindness. I'm just talking about the puppy boys, who are so harmless and desperate for affection that it's hard not to give it to them. Assholes are less vulnerable and therefore much better suited to being punching bags. Like I said, there's a line between 'nice' and 'doormat.' I don't mean to lump the two together. I just think that a lot of people consider themselves 'nice' but are actually talking about 'doormat.' 'Nice' is fine, but it shouldn't be anyone's defining characteristic. 'Doormat' should just be avoided altogether.

Nov 06 11 - 11:17pm
Scott

"And glad you evaded my entire argument in favor of a witty one-liner"
No problem. Glad you were willing to contradict yourself by saying you're not looking to bully or bust balls and within minutes of that post you do EXACTLY that, regardless of degrees of 'meanness'. But no matter, we get it. You've proven that you're the alpha-male here…on the Internet. Congrats.

"And way to also avoid the second half of my comment, which was directly addressed to you."
It was? You know, for someone who tells it like it is and is fancies his bluntness in conversation, I sure didn't see my name in there. So it's a bit of a stretch to call that a direct address…quite the opposite, in fact, more fitting rather to call it a sarcastic comment of your own, passive-aggressive as it was. Not very assertive of you. Now yeah, I know I suppose I should have just inferred it from the point itself, but I mean, shit, it wasn't even in the same reply thread when I originally made that comment, and someone else could have made the point elsewhere.

Anyway, there's really nothing to refute, you made a (snarky) statement of opinion, not one of fact backed by any evidence that isn't anecdotal, so I don't know what you want me to say to your nonsense. I'm sure something along the lines of "You know what, you're right, I'm wrong. Thanks for showing me the way Myke spelled with a Y." was probably what you are looking for, and if so, I'm happy to disappoint you.

In all seriousness, I hope you're not a counselor or anything like that in your professional life, because your style of rhetoric is the kind of thing that really does nobody any favors, and in fact likely makes people feel shittier than they already do, feeling guilty that they are the way they are, like they don't feel like enough of a tool already and that somehow some bloviating mouth-breather is supposed to whip them into shape like some psychological drill instructor.

The problem is self-important types like you see matters like these in black and white, and are only all-to-willing to push-back with equal force to what you perceive as nice-guys getting babied and instead requiring tough-love. You see, I also was once the shy nice-guy, and overcame these things on my own with zero help by any arrogant assholes, and whenever I encounter someone who is going through the same things I had gone through, I empathize (I know, I know, an un-American trait, if ever there was one…it's easier and evidently more assertive to simply be a judgmental prick about it) and am willing to give these guys a helping hand and advice without the judgment or condescension, which is something you seem entirely incapable and unwilling of doing based on your posts here, particularly this one…

"Also I'm a little mean, you're probably gonna have to deal with that. Just because I'm not candycoating it for you, doesn't mean you get to ignore it."
You see, the beauty about the Internet is I don't have to deal with that, and I can ignore it. I just choose to be a counterpoint for anybody who stumbles on in here and thinks that your in-your-face asshole approach is somehow the end-all be-all to solving the nice-guy conundrum.

Nov 07 11 - 8:48am
Myke

You, a nice guy? I'd never have guessed.

You really don't seem to have much of an argument beyond criticizing my style of delivery. I don't know what about it strikes such a nerve. I mean hey, I got over my niceguyism without being kicked into shape by the Internet, so it's not just you. But we're the exceptions, not the rule. And we're not the worst of the nice guys, not by a long shot. Your faith in the capacity for change is cute, but just because you bootstrapped yourself to normalcy, doesn't mean you can extrapolate your experience onto the entirety of nice guys. You were so quick to call out my claims of consensus earlier based on 15 or 20 people. If you're such a statistician, I shouldn't have to tell you how reliable a sample of 1 is.

The fact of the matter is that nice guys are resistant to change, mainly because they don't tend to see a problem with their behavior until years of failure have made that conclusion incontrovertible (i.e. OP). Since when has being nice ever been a problem? Isn't that what mommy and daddy and TV shows always told me to be? Yes, but once more, nice is only one facet of a real personality. And a small one, at that. Nice guys structure their entire lives around their niceness and expect girls to fall over them for it. Some realize early that this will never work, some defend it to their dying day. It would be nice if everyone snapped to sense on their own, but believe me, until someone from an outside perspective calls you on it, it just never occurs to you. So that's what I'm doing: calling attention to the problem. Sarcastically, abrasively, unkindly, whatever you want to call it. That's really beside the point though. This is the Internet, not real life. I'd be much kinder about it in person, but there's no need to water it down for someone whose reaction I can't even see. Harsh language gets the point across more forcefully than words of encouragement. I'm not telling these nice guys to hang themselves and put us out of their misery. I'm just saying snap out of it, you're creepy and girls don't like you, here's why.

Nov 07 11 - 8:16pm
Scott

First of all, I'd like to respond to one dickheaded statement you made earlier:
"Your conflict avoidance is surpassed only by that of nice guys'."
This being the Internet and all, yes, I could have typed something longer and waited until later to do so, but alas, I caught your reply moments before I was out the door and on the road for about 3 hours; I suppose I made the mistake of not waiting to post it later. Considering I have stuck around since, I suppose we can rule out that I'm demonstrating 'conflict avoidance'.

One other reason I'd particularly like to bring this up is that suggesting that backing away from an argument when one or both parties are set in their ways, and will not be changing either one's mind anytime soon (on the Internet of all places), is demonstrative of "conflict-avoidance" is simply fucking bananas. For starters, we are not doing a face-to-face, and if we were, I think you'd be surprised at the person you'd be talking to; I think we'd both agree that a face-to-face carries more weight, and that Internet conversations are rather inaccurate at informing one's oratory abilities. In the real world, I don't back down provided the discussion doesn't devolve into idiotic snark, which you decided to resort to by making more sweeping comments against an entire sect of men, whereas I addressed your hypocrisy directly (and I'm the one avoiding conflict?). Of course, the point of the statement is to suggest that I'm scared of the discussion for whatever reason, and that accordingly makes me a nice-guy poster boy, when really the two would have nothing to do with each other. The fact that we are two guys who don't know each other personally, likely never will, sniping at one another behind a computer screen and ethernet cables, should really factor into the matter.

Finally, sometimes the more assertive move IS to step away, which I'm inclined to do after this post, since this seems to be going absolutely nowhere. Does this make me afraid of conflict? Of course not, and to believe so is insane. Two bloviating alpha-males could argue an endless loop with each other; their doing so doesn't suggest anything noble on their own behalf.

"You really don't seem to have much of an argument beyond criticizing my style of delivery."
That IS the argument. I don't disagree with the ends, but the means. I don't understand how you could not have grasped this by now. Never once have I suggested that anyone who sees themselves as a nice-guy and has trouble getting dates, to not change and suddenly expect different results.

"I don't know what about it strikes such a nerve."
Well, perhaps you should do some introspection, because you likely have the most posts in this article, or at least the most volume, if not tied with me.

"Your faith in the capacity for change is cute"
Then what exact purpose does YOUR posting serve? And is my stance merely 'cute' because we disagree with each other?

"doesn't mean you can extrapolate your experience onto the entirety of nice guys"
Does this statement apply to your own philosophy too? You sure seem to think it does. I am suggesting quite the opposite, which is a personalized, tailored approach to each person, thinking of them as individual human beings and not one part of an identical collective.

"The fact of the matter is that nice guys are resistant to change"
Just curious, not that I completely disagree with the statement, unless you are suggesting 'resistant' in absolute terms of course (which in that case, why bother at all?), but are you licensed or trained to have the authority to make this statement a matter of "fact"?

"Harsh language gets the point across more forcefully than words of encouragement."
Another statement of authority based on 'What' exactly? This does not factor in the litany of personality types, those within different Jungian/enneagram/whatever based testing methods, many of which respond differently to different kinds of social feedback. Your one-size-fits-all approach is over-simplistic to the point of being wrong, and is likely damaging to some of those people. Of course the hyperbolic example would be if someone killed themselves, but you also rule out the possibility of causing far more insidious harm; maybe someone could get discouraged even further than they already are, and in turn think the situation is hopeless, and instead of two steps forward, they took two (or more) back.

If you would just concede and say something to the effect of "Yeah, being harsh 'some' of the time might be necessary, whereas a different approach might be necessary for someone else, and with this being the Internet, I'd do good to not lump all nice-guys into one sweeping category and accept their varying degrees of niceness (whether it be shyness, a lack of assertion, fear of criticism/rejection, all of the above) as well as their potential for taking overly-critical and harsh advice the wrong way", because some of your other posts in here do NOT make you come off like the self-important asshole that you're trying to convince me that you are, but instead someone who is genuinely helpful and empathetic…if you would do that I'd be willing to see eye to eye with you.

Nov 06 11 - 8:04pm
QS

Im also a nice guy, and I find the whole issue a bit tricky. I think the OP has to work harder about putting himself out there to meet girls. If you are so cocooned that you don't feel any anxiety/tension when you are meeting a girl, then you really aren't doing enough. I don't expect a girl to say 'yes' if all she sees is a blank canvas in front of her. On the other hand, I feel that people ought to accept that there are different types of guys out there and plenty of great guys who are not type A extroverts and maybe a little effort can help coax him out.

Nov 06 11 - 8:57pm
cs

While I don't go for the doormat nice guys (honestly, who wants to date a glorified houseplant? seriously, dudes, get it together), I LOVE me some nice nerdy guys--often, the desirable type of nice and a distinct nerd tendency go hand in hand... they can be the sweetest men you'll ever meet. However, I'm very extroverted and tend to terrify them... that said, you'd be surprised what a bit of confidence can do. And don't worry if the confidence is real or not--we won't be able to tell the difference, and by the time we realize it's fake (if we ever do), we've probably been won over by your awesome personality. And putting on a little bit of fake confidence to win over a girl? Very endearing.

Nov 06 11 - 9:35pm
nn

And yet another perspective, for those self-described "nice guys." Several times in my life I have become really smitten by shy guys who seemed nice and who showed various levels of interest in me (from the "hey, cool, some girl's interested in me" to "I'm totally head over heals in-crush with you.") Each time, the fact I thought they were big-hearted, emotionally mature, whatever you want to call it, was a significant factor in my attraction to them. Each time, as soon as their feelings about me started to change they morphed into various levels of asshole (sexually selfish, dishonest about their feelings, not telling me they had decided to break it off until well after the fact, hook up with another girl in front of me, flaky, you name it...)

Moral of the story? On average, it's a lot easier to be nice to someone you haven't slept with yet. And how well someone treats you as a friend is a poor predictor of what you two will function like in a relationship.

Nov 07 11 - 1:02pm
thinkywritey

I'm really interested in reading through all the discussion here, but before I can get to that, I have to ask "Too Nice": When you show interest in a person, how do you do it? I mean, specifically? Someone here recently said that we've taken the intentionality out of DATING to such a degree that no one even knows if/when they're on a date any more. Instead, they're "hanging out," often with a bunch of people. It sounds like you have, in fact, put yourself in a position to be rejected -- which, believe it or not, is good! Often, people will see the neutral position as "rejection," simply because no one has made their intentions clear enough.

Nov 07 11 - 2:55pm
Too Nice

I try to be as clear as possible, because as I'm sure anyone can relate, it's fairly awkward when people have different ideas of what's happening in a situation. I try to be as up front as possible with my intentions so there isn't any guess work on the other person's part. "Would you like to go out to dinner?" and things along that line.

Nov 07 11 - 3:19pm
thinkywritey

That's great, I'm glad to hear that. I'm sure you're getting a lot of tips from this comments thread, too.

Nov 07 11 - 4:07pm
Too Nice

People certainly do have a lot to say on the matter

Nov 07 11 - 4:34pm
thinkywritey

Yeah, welcome to the internet. :)

Nov 07 11 - 4:47pm
Too Nice

Indeed

Nov 07 11 - 3:56pm
Myke

One last comment before I let you to your own business, Too Nice. There was a comment up further about minor touches and small flirtations that you should study in particular. That's really one of the biggest differences between 'just friends' and 'boyfriend material.' Occasional, brief touching shows that you're confident enough to assert your attraction, and it's also something a 'friend' wouldn't do. That simple step should go a long way in breaking down the barriers you find yourself facing. The worst nice guys are notorious for their sexual awkwardness and inability to make any kind of impression, so defying that common stereotype will win you a lot of points in the long run.

I've already covered the inward and outward factors of attractiveness, but here are a few specific tips: if you have long hair, cut it all off. Or at least trim it to a shorter and more stylish length. If you have a beard or a mustache, shave (especially if they're patchy/obviously post-pubescent). Both can be pulled off occasionally, but more often than not they're instant signals that a guy doesn't care enough about his appearance to actively maintain his facial hair. Similarly, if you wear really baggy clothing (i.e. sweatshirts, oversized T-shirts), consider a wardrobe redo. Nothing says 'insecure' like hiding your body underneath several layers of clothing (this goes for girls too). If you don't like your body, consider new shower products, anti-perspirants, and exercise. Do whatever it takes to become comfortable in your own skin. Apply these tips as need be. But really, if you're out there risking rejection and humiliation, you've already made the first and most important step. The rest of this is optional and dependent on your own personal circumstances. So, good luck :). Hope all goes well.

Nov 07 11 - 6:22pm
nn

I suppose the "touchy flirting" tip goes for women too. I have a really hard time bringing myself to do this (which, as you say, probably stems from insecurity), but I've had a couple of friends recommend I work on it.

Nov 07 11 - 10:05pm
Myke

You're right, it's a good skill for both genders to pick up. The problem, as I see it, is that I imagine most intelligent people are aware of the consequences of unwanted touching. And those should be taken extremely seriously, don't get me wrong, but a little nudge or brush on the arm is generally quite acceptable. You'll almost always get away with it. Of course, it depends on the two people involved, and any uncomfortable reaction should be taken into account immediately. But more often that not, a light and playful touch is a good first step in establishing interest. It takes some practice, but it's invaluable once you've learned how.

Nov 08 11 - 12:58am
@nn

Yes, a light subtle touch is extremely valuable. Changes the whole dynamic, breaks down barriers.

And for women specifically, they can get away with it with greater abandon than guys can. Sure, a given guy might not welcome your touch/interest, but he isn't going to feel threatened by it. Some guys are going to worry whether it's "right" to touch because they know if done to the wrong woman or the wrong way or time, it can feel threatening.

A clueless guy won't know what it means when a woman touches him. Or leans really close. But a guy who's gotten a clue, he's going to know instantly what it means.

If you're a woman, and afraid to break the touch barrier...if you're interested, you can at least keep yourself in a position to make it easy for him to break it. Don't sit across the table from him, sit next to him if possible. etc.

--Kevin

Nov 07 11 - 8:22pm
lb

This is one kind of "nice" that will make any sane person flee: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aUbGGFySdU

Nov 08 11 - 1:27pm
@Myke

I can't reply directly to your 2:56 pm comment for some reason, but: keep in mind that not everyone is trying to date mainstream, conventional women. Obviously good personal hygiene is important no matter who you are, but there are plenty of women out there who like things like long hair and beards -- some even prefer them. It'd be silly to try to make yourself into Mr. Polished if you're chasing a woman who wants something different.

One thing that hasn't been discussed is this widespread message that people are supposed to love someone for who they are on the inside, and that making a priority out of physical appearance makes you a shallow shit. That message permeates a lot of children's lit and TV, right? So naturally, a thoughtful, empathetic guy hears this, and thinks to himself that this is the way the world is supposed to work, and that if he brings that attitude to the world -- trying to love women for who they are as people, rather than as objects -- then he'll get the same in return, and will be recognized as the big-hearted person he is.

But of course that's not true, and never has been: life isn't a fairy tale, and sexual desire isn't a fundamentally ethical phenomenon in men OR women. (If anything, sometimes we want the exact opposite of what we think we should want; sometimes we even want the exact opposite of what we say we want.)

Nov 08 11 - 5:10pm
Myke

I can't see this as anything more than justification for laziness. Long hair and facial hair just aren't attractive, infrequent exceptions notwithstanding. It's like arguing for the attractiveness of being overweight. You can make all the excuses and give all the examples you want, but at the end of the day, few people are going to intrinsically find excess weight attractive. Same thing with unkempt hair. It just isn't a turn-on, unless you're uncommonly good at wearing it.

What I've been saying over and over is that nice guys are ugly inside and out. Nice guys are not oases of perfection in a world of imperfection, hindered by their inability to look good by society's cruel standards. They are underdeveloped individuals who need to keep improving themselves if they ever want the attention they seek. Your remark about mainstream conventional women is just a strawman; there are plenty of women in this comment section who have agreed with many of the things I've said, and I'd dare to venture that they don't all look and think like Jessica Simpson or Paris Hilton. Women want good men, and how you present yourself is a big part of whether or not they give you a chance.

Additionally, the underlying message I'm getting behind a lot of nice guy defense is that women should just settle for less, because that's all nice guys have to offer and asking anything more of them is vain and unaccepting. This is unfair and ridiculously male-centric. It implies that women's desires and attractions are illegitimate and wrongheaded, and that only men should be able to decide what an attractive man looks like. You yourself may not be saying that, but that's the message you're sending. Women want (and deserve to have) the best men possible and men deserve to be the optimal choice for their objects of affection. Your 'love people for who they are on the inside' is cute and all, but what I'm saying is that there tends to be a correlation between how people are on the inside and how they present themselves. If someone looks lazy, sloppy, insecure, and awkward, how likely is it that they're a tidy, efficient, confident, assertive individual underneath the catchphrase T-shirts and untamed hair? I'm sorry if this goes against your Shallow Hal understanding of the world, but human beings make quick and decisive judgments about each other all the time. No they're not always fair, but they're correct often enough that we continue to do it and get good results. We dress ourselves to reflect who we are on the inside, and how we do that sends a message to the rest of the world. It's a game, and you have to play it. And what's more, it's a pretty fair game. For every few genuinely good people that get overlooked for not being presentable enough, there are legions of people that deserve the passing-over. There is of course room in a compassionate person's heart for a few imperfections, and I'm not saying everyone should just make themselves into supermodels. I am, however, saying that there certain signals a person can send that will rightfully prevent them from consideration, no matter how 'alternative' the woman in question is.

Your central argument seems to be that nice guys are the victims of an unjust society and unfair standards of beauty. There is a kernel of truth in that, but it takes the responsibility off the nice guys themselves and puts it on external circumstances, which doesn't do anything except allow more self-pity for nice guys. Which they really need to stop doing, for everyone's sake but mostly their own. And as far as unfair standards of beauty go, attraction isn't quite as varied as you idealistically believe. Skinny people are generally considered more attractive than larger people, clean shaven (or well shaven) faces are generally considered more attractive than unshaven ones (and I'm not talking a day or two of stubble, by the way, I'm talking neckbeards and patchy pubescent-looking scruff), and good hygiene is pretty universally preferred to bad hygiene. And again, despite the rare few people this unfairly excludes, it also gives us a reasonably accurate internal guide of who to avoid. Again, this does not mean ugly people should just kill themselves because no one should ever be forced to like them. It just means improve yourself to the best of your abilities, accept the things you can't change, and be confident once you've done all that.

Or, more succinctly, Joss Whedon once said "Always remember to be yourself. Unless you suck." I'm no Whedon disciple, but that's a bitesize truth we should all remember. There's nothing wrong with being yourself, but that doesn't mean how you are at this exact moment is the best possible version of yourself. Aspire to more! Everyone wins when you improve yourself! There's literally no reason not to!

Nov 08 11 - 10:42pm
KS

"Long hair and facial hair just aren't attractive, infrequent exceptions notwithstanding." You would have seemed so much smarter if you had just stopped after your first post.

Nov 08 11 - 11:10pm
Ariane

I can be an awfully shy girl, and have often come across as aloof, serious, definitely in the "friend-zone". I was once given great advice: "to feel sexy, imagine everyone, yes, everyone in the room finds you sexy." It has worked for me - I feel more confident, more relaxed, and I have less fear of rejection. It's the attitude you project that matters.

Nov 09 11 - 1:22pm
TJ

1. Women are lying to themselves, or to guys, or both. Many if not most women do like jerks better. Don't believe the myriad excuses -- it's only obsfucation for the obvious truth. They like jerks. Stop lying or making excuses. The lying about it is the pathetic part.

2. Women don't just like jerks, they mostly ARE jerks. Just because they are all pretty and soft doesn't mean they aren't assholes as human beings. As jerks, they are attracted to jerks. A woman who would admire some asshole who cuts people off, is a dick to waiters, doesn't respect other people, etc. is simply not a decent human being. Turning a blind eye to aggression is itself a form of aggression. The women with these assholes are assholes themselves.

This is a valuable lesson. Truly nice people are a rarity. Finding good people is hard. Being a good person is hard.

Nov 10 11 - 12:22am
yougottabekiddingme

Took the words right out of my mouth. Yeah,it's there life,there fault,there responsibility.

Nov 09 11 - 5:41pm
AnonymousDoofus

@ Myke

"I can't see this as anything more than justification for laziness. Long hair and facial hair just aren't attractive, infrequent exceptions notwithstanding."

Do you have poll numbers/social science data to back up this contention, or do you just "know" it to be true? The world is a complicated place and different women like different things. Methinks thy generalizeth too much.

Nov 16 11 - 3:20pm
Bob T.

Interesting thread. It is certainly true that our culture has far more role models for confident assholes that for confident normal guys. In fact, acting like a frat boy jock is in many places taken as a signifier of confidence, even if you are neither and everybody knows it.

So my plan is for everybody to walk into every new situation with woooos, fist-bumps and shoulder-punches, and call everybody Chuc-kieeeeee. That way it will become the norm, the new so pleasant to meet you but it's got that confidence thing going for it.

But first somebody tell me if irony is confident or creepy.

Nov 20 11 - 3:11pm
Diandra

Please keep trohwing these posts up they help tons.

Nov 21 11 - 2:29pm
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