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I used to be a Nice Guy. Not kind, generous, open, and honest. But "nice." The one many of the dating experts warn you about. And yet, too often, you still fall for because ... well, he's just so damned nice.
So, here's what was true about me. I was desperate to be liked. I was afraid of hurting anyone. I was friendly and agreeable. I listened well. And once I had my first girlfriend, I didn't want to be alone.
Except that, I also wanted "space" a lot of the time. I shared my thoughts and ideas, but not really what I was feeling. I was afraid of conflict, and the possibility of loosing someone as a result of conflict. If I was upset with a girlfriend, I'd stuff it until I couldn't take anymore and then would blow. Not violently, but more of an unleashing of a litany of wrongs she had done - and which I'd kept tally of, but hadn't mentioned until then. I took almost everything that happened in the relationship personally, even though often whatever it was had nothing to do with me.
I was, throughout my teens and 20s, depressed more often than not. I had no idea how to ask for what I needed, and was afraid that if I did start asking sometimes, I'd be considered "needy" and ultimately get rejected. The joke is that although I presented myself as almost selfless, and generally did give a lot - both in my relationships and in the community - I also was pretty needy emotionally. However, instead of getting those needs met directly, I'd occasionally suck energy from folks through over the top ranting, or I'd get my needs met through sideways asking that probably was more manipulating sometimes.
Now, the thing is that despite all of that, I was fairly well liked. I had a good circle of friends, got along well with co-workers and classmates (when I was in school), and generally was a productive, engaged member of society. But something was off. I wasn't quite real or authentic. And as a result, many of my relationships and dating experiences weren't so great.
What happened? Well, a lot of things. I began a serious yoga and Zen meditation practice. I had a long term relationship crumble in a way that exposed many of my "Nice Guy" flaws. I decided that I'd use my online dating experiences as opportunities to take risks. And eventually, I committed to being myself, and letting the chips fall as they may.
Let's consider the Nice Guy in more detail now. Here's a good list of traits, from an article exploring the nice guy stereotype.
They believe that if they are good, giving, and caring, that they will get happiness, love and fulfillment in return.
They offer to do things for a girl they hardly know that they wouldn’t normally do for just anybody else they know.
They avoid conflict by withholding their opinions or even become agreeable with her when they don’t actually agree.
They try to fix and take care of her problems, they are drawn to trying to help.
They seek approval from others.
They try to hide their perceived flaws and mistakes.
They are always looking for the “right” way to do things.
They tend to analyze rather than feel.
They have difficulty making their needs a priority.
They are often emotionally dependent on their partner.
Now, say you're out on a first or second date. And perhaps you're wondering how to discern the difference between a mature, kind man and a Nice Guy.
Here are some questions to consider.
What happens if you disagree with him on something? Does he rush to agree with you?
Does he seem "too perfect"?
Is he overly quick to offer to help you with some issue that no other person who barely knows you would? Or is he overly giving right off the bat?
Is most of your conversation about ideas and intellectual interests?
Does he seem to be seeking approval from you a fair amount of the time?
These are all questions based on the traits above. Here are a few more, based upon how I used to be.
Does he paint himself as the underdog much of the time, in order to seek sympathy?
Does he struggle to make eye contact with you when talking about anything more serious?
Does he shut down, go quiet, or change the subject when emotional topics are brought up?
Of course, none of these alone mean a whole lot. But if you've got someone who fits several of the patterns these questions are getting at, then chances are you're dealing with a Nice Guy.
I could say more, but I'll stop there. Thoughts? Anything to add?