In my 28-years of being alive and being single through a solid chunk of it, I’ve had the pleasure of dating a variety of dudes. I’ve dated the d-bags. Dated some good guys. I’ve dated some great guys but bad matches, and I’ve also dated some freaks, geeks and total weirdos (in the best and worst ways). It’s hard to nail down my type if you lined up a row of dudes I’ve dated, even if just briefly. It’s a wide array but there’s always certain types that I always run into. But you know what I’ve also encountered a lot of in my years of dating and have been plagued by lately? The self-proclaimed “Nice Guy” dealing with a heavy dose of “Nice Guy Syndrome”.
Cue the GROANs and prepare yourself for a slightly self-indulgent rant about “nice guys.”
Self-Proclaimed Nice Guys and the “Nice Guy Syndrome” Defined
The Nice Guy Syndrome MIGHT be my least favorite kind of douche bag. If you can have favorite douche bags.
The manipulation, level of entitlement and the overall degrading perception of women these men have make them a special kind of awful. What’s worse is, most of the time these types of men are so convinced that they are indeed the victim of any given situation, that they are utterly and completely oblivious to their superb level of asshattery.
Now, before I dive into how to recognize and avoid these special breeds of dickheads, let’s talk about the “Nice Guy Syndrome” and “Self-Proclaimed Nice Guys”.
This is not an official syndrome so I’m pulling an Urban Dictionary definition and quoting the Independent on your lovely asses:
“Men who complain that they are unlucky in love despite their ‘nice guy’ persona may have a sinister agenda… Dr Robert Glover, who’s studied the issue, says these men are often trying to form “covert contracts” with the target of their affections.”Rachel Hosie
According to Urban Dictionary:
“A condition where a guy feels he is entitled to dating a girl simply because he has been her friend and let her cry on her shoulder about the jerks. When she is not attracted to him, he chooses to blame it on the fact that he has been a “nice guy” and she only wants to date jerks. Really, not the mentality of a guy who is actually nice, because one should not be kind in the hopes of getting a girl and simply be kind for the sake of being kind. Any guy who tries to guilt you into dating him simply because you are friends has the mental affliction known as nice guy syndrome.”Urban Dictionary
Here’s another one cause it’s just too good to not share:
“A annoying mental condition in which a heterosexual man concocts over simplified ideas why women aren’t flocking to him in droves. Typically this male will whine and complain about how women never want to date them because he is “too nice” or that he is average in appearance. He often targets a woman who is already in a relationship; misrepresenting his intentions of wanting to be her friend and having the expectation that he is owed more than friendship because he is such a good listener. He is prone to brooding over this and passive aggressive behavior.”Urban Dictionary
Clo Bare’s Definition
Essentially, the “Nice Guy Syndrome” is a boy who believes he is a nice guy but is in fact not a nice guy. He views rejection as a moral injustice and feels entitled to certain women simply because he was “nice” to her and laments over her choices to date men who he deems asshole-ish.
Whatever “nice” is can range from being someone’s friend for many years in hopes of her someday waking up and realizing she’s in love with him to holding open the door or complimenting her when she posts something on the internet. The “Nice guy” hangs his hat up on the fact that he is a “nice guy” and laments over being misunderstood and unloved by a world where women just “love to date d-bags”. He’s jaded and blames women for not wanting to be with him.
Often I’ve noticed they also have a certain view of a woman and how she’s “supposed” to be or act which coincides with putting women on pedestals.
The Ever-Dreaded Pedestal
In my experience, the nice guy also likes to put certain women on pedestals. The kind of pedestals where he’ll worship her, thinking that it’s affection and treating her like a queen and showing her WHAT A GREAT GUY HE IS AND LOOK HOW GOOD HE WILL BE TO HER!?!
What’s the issue with that, right?
Well, there’s a few problems.
- If you put someone on a pedestal, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. We are all human and putting someone on a pedestal is taking away their humanity. The perfection of your expectations are bound to cause a long and hard fall for the person on top of your high pedestal. Pedestals aren’t safe. They aren’t real and they aren’t stable. One small move and everything comes crashing down.
- A pedestal is an unrealistic view of the ideal version of a person, whether or not that IS the actual person. It’s a perfect idea of a partner, and besides being unrealistic, it’s controlling because the pedestal is built on ideas of how a partner should be, not how they actually are.
- It’s another way of not treating women like an equal partner. I don’t WANT you to treat me like a queen. What I want is to be treated like an equal. I want you to treat me like a fucking partner and a fucking human being. And I am sorry that society and toxic masculinity and traditional roles have made you believe that i need to be treated like a queen. WHO WANTS TO BE A QUEEN ANYWAY. I WANT TO BE A MOTHER FUCKING KING WITH ALL THE POWER.
Woof. Got carried away there.
Self-Proclaimed Nice Guys
There’s another type of nice guy I’ve noticed too though, and I think they fall under the same category. These “self-proclaimed nice guys” have no issues in telling you what a nice guy they are and they really do seem like nice guys. They use their charms and apparent niceness to take advantage of women looking for a “nice guy”. Turns out though, often the over the top niceness is really a mask of sorts to hide his general disdain for women.
What I’ve noticed about both types of “nice guys”? Well, for one, they aren’t super nice. And for two, they don’t seem to really like or respect women as equals.
My Experiences with Self-Proclaimed “Nice Guys”
I have had far too many experiences with so-called “nice guys” to list them all out here but below, in no particular order, are some of the creme de la creme in my recent interactions with self-proclaimed nice guys, and the “nice guy syndrome.”
1. The DJ
I know, you tapped out as soon as you read “DJ.” But bear with me.
The DJ seemed like a “Nice Guy” when I first met him. He had kids and he talked positively about them and the mother(s) of his children. Decent job, listened intently, and seemed genuinely curious about me and vice versa. He politely made no moves but extended hugs and cute little gestures on our first date like coming to my side of the bench to sit closer to me.
He seemed “nice” and had no problems telling me he was “nice”. The DJ showered me in compliments and did things that felt nice too, like picked me up my favorite Starbucks or stocked my favorite beer at his place.
For the first time in a long while, I was dating a man who complimented me nonstop and it felt so friggin good. He’d tell me how beautiful I was and how smart and how boss and how overall badass he thought I was.
FINALLY someone who got me and appreciated it felt like. What I didn’t know is that’s something the experts like to call “love bombing”, but that’s another topic for another time.
When Things Stop Adding Up
Anyway, very soon after I started to notice a few things that didn’t really add up to what “real” nice guys would do.
He’d talk about his ex’s and baby mamas, claiming they were “crazy.” He’d call them names and shit talk about how they were when he was always just “trying to be a good guy.” Then the lies started peeking through the cracks in his facade. I caught him in several lies early on, and he’d flip the tables on me saying he didn’t want to tell me because he was afraid I’d freak out.
Eventually he told me his work suspended him for harassing a female colleague, and he lied to me about where he spent his days. He started pressing my boundaries, seeing how far I’d bend, and when I’d call him out for it, he’d find a way to push the blame back on me. But he kept showering me with addicting love and affection as long as I was the type of girl he envisioned me to be in his head. As soon as I stepped outside those bounds– the respect I thought he had for me shot right out the window.
Warning Signs and Endings
Turns out compliments have nothing to do with respect.
Add those warning signs to the refrigerator filled with chocolate and water next to his bed, and a graveyard of stray earrings under his mattress– I started to realize I was not indeed dating a nice guy.
When I ended things with him, I told him not to contact me again because I was afraid he’d gaslight me back into the nonrelationship we were in like he had done before. I blocked him and in a true show of his colors and lack of respect for boundaries, he tried to contact me on the dating app (unmatch), via an email text message to my phone (blocked again), and by sending me flowers to my home all within 24 hours of me ending it.
To add icing to the cake, he blasted me on his public Facebook page, playing the victim and wondering why a woman would take advantage of a vulnerable “nice guy” in the way that I had. I, the fake-intellectual, promiscuous bitch with a web-rag of a blog that was hardly worth a read from a 6th grader’s journal let alone a self-paid for website.
That is what nice guys do, isn’t it? Skewer and roast their sort-of-exes on Facebook?
No? I must be doing this dating nice guys thing wrong.
Spoiler alert: I was.
But on to the next “Nice Guy”.
2. River North
River North and I had one of the best first dates ever.
We talked about politics and travel and ate too much Italian food. We had a great time on the best date I had ever been set up on and I was feeling optimistic. He was nice, opened doors, chatted with the women eating dinner next to us and super fun to talk to. We got along, had a lot in common, and he seemed refreshingly genuine. No red flags that I could see.
Self-Proclaimed Nice Guy
Like the DJ he described himself as a nice guy, and would roll his eyes at how “guys are these days.” Not holding open doors or picking up checks. Not driving women home or picking them up. I thought it was kind of refreshing meeting someone who prided himself on being a gentleman. It was one of the best first dates I had been on, and I was pumped for date number two.
The Second Date
In the days leading up to our second date, conversations were pleasant and enjoyable. He continued in his niceness and we made plans for him to pick me up. That night we planned to hang out with some of his friends and on the way to the event, he told me that he had told his friends we had been dating for a few weeks and had been on 7 or 8 dates.
Overt Racism and Other Fun
I laughed and told him I was a terrible liar, but I figured I’d roll with it. When we met his friends, I noticed River North turning icy towards his friend’s girlfriend, making rude comments and passive aggressive side remarks framed as jokes.
And then the racist jokes started. Then the rudeness to the host at the restaurant. And then the overt shit-talking to people he had never met before.
By the end of the night, he had exploded at his friend’s girlfriend (after she got upset that he asked her if she had tried to commit suicide) and stormed out of the party only to then complain about how he wasn’t wrong for asking her if she had ever slit her own wrists (long story). The next morning he text me to apologize and then tell me that he told his mom everything, and she thought he did nothing wrong.
Did I mention the man was almost 40?
Fucking, River North.
3. The Farm Boy
Oh, my GOD. The Farm Boy was one of the sexiest men I have ever had the privilege of seeing naked. The man looked like Channing Tatum only MORE muscular. He once lifted my chair while I was sitting in it over his head so that he could sit next to me.
Swoon, right? I am a dumb sucker for muscles, one of my many faults.
And he seemed SO NICE to top it all off. He acted sweet and talked about his feelings and his parent’s relationship and how he wanted a nice woman. He oozed niceness in the farm-boy, small town kind of way.
For a few weekends, we spent hours talking until five am and a few weeks after meeting, we spent the night together.
And as cliche as it gets, the next week got a little weird.
For the most part, I stopped hearing from him. His messages were short and felt like a friend contacting another friend. He rescheduled our next date and then last minute moved it up to a lunch.
At the lunch, he told me that he couldn’t do what he was doing with me because he was a Christian. Christians didn’t do things like hook up and date non-Christians. I could do it, he told me, because I was a free spirit. He couldn’t because that’s not what Christians do, but if possible, he’d like to keep me in his life as a friend because that would be great and lovely.
Great and lovely.
So he used me for a hookup and then decided that we could be friends because he believed in God and I did not? Being friends meant that we were cool, right? Even though he slut shamed me for sleeping with him and then cushioned the blow by labeling me a free spirits, allowed to enjoy sex while good people (ie Christians) don’t do that? See– he’s still a cool, nice guy though since he wants to be friends, obviously.
Very nice. Great and lovely.
4. John Doe
John Doe is a special kind of nice guy. The kind of nice guy that lives under bridges and comes out of the woodwork to troll on blogs.
For example, he’s the kind of nice guy wants to let people know that he’s a nice guy. He does that by commenting on The Bare’s post, “Why I Don’t Date Nice Guys”. Clearly not reading the piece and noticing the title alone he scrolls far past the introspection and trying to own one’s own problem in order to solve it.
Instead he dives face first into the comments where he can release his passive aggressive comments about how a “nice guy, like me, would never want to date a woman like you” (Clo Bare) and “So thank you for staying away because a nice guy would never want to be with someone like you.”
Lovely, right? Perhaps I am being too kind– perhaps he did actually read the post and decided– you know what? Someone identifying why she does something and trying hard to work through her own shit makes her shit. Let’s comment and let her know.
One time was a solid indication of his niceness. But in order to double the dosage of niceness, John Doe decided to comment twice. Kicker on the nice guy trifecta? He used a service that generates a one-time-use email so he maintained anonymity.
Courageous AND nice- I think I’m in love.
The Difference Between Actual Nice Guys and Self-Proclaimed Nice Guys
Alright, alright. Enough of my slightly self-indulgent run down memory lane with the self-identified nice dudes and men with nice guys syndrome. Self-proclaimed nice guys exhaust me, but they do help me identify the real ones from the fake.
Through my failures, bad decisions and dating mistakes, here’s what I’ve learned.
What Nice Guys Aren’t
- Nice guys aren’t bitter towards women. They don’t see them as a separate species. They don’t regard them with disdain for the hundreds of ways they view women reject “what’s good for them” ie, a “nice guy”.
- Nice guys aren’t going to talk shitty about their exes. They don’t talk about how crazy all the women they’ve dated are. They aren’t going to put the entire downfall of the relationship on their ex.
- Nice guys aren’t going to tell you that you’re not like any other girl they’ve ever met. They won’t say they’ve never met a woman like you before. They aren’t going to oversimplify and make sweeping generalizations about an entire gender.
- Nice guys aren’t going to make excuses for their bad behavior. They won’t blame you for why they are the way they are.
- They aren’t going to make you uncomfortable, push your boundaries or disrespect you and your choices.
- Nice guys aren’t going to say what they need to to get you into bed. They aren’t going to get upset if you decide you aren’t interested in dating them.
- Nice guys aren’t going to use you for a hook up and then use religion to excuse their behavior.
- They don’t disrespect other people or decide to be condescending to strangers for sport.
- Nice guys don’t think they’re inherently better than everyone else they meet.
- They do not put women on pedestals as another way to dehumanize them.
- Nice guys don’t shame you for your sex drive. They don’t try to insinuate that your past sexual experiences somehow hold weight on your value as a human being.
Now, I’m new at this whole “dating nice guys” thing so I’m still learning and this list is shorter. Here’s what I’ve noticed so far:
What Genuinely Nice Guys Are
- Nice guys are going to listen to your boundaries and respect them.
- Nice guys are not bitter towards an entire gender. They do not dehumanize them and they recognize that they are equal in human-hood. Not a thing on a pedestal, and not a thing to tame or conquer. They see women as human beings.
- Nice guys understand their own roles in the demise of their own relationships. They understand that relationships are always two way streets. They understand that their actions, decisions and indecision’s have consequences.
- Nice guys aren’t just nice to you. They’re nice to everyone because they are actually nice human beings. They aren’t just being nice to you to get you into bed.
- Generally, nice guys don’t have to tell you that they’re nice.
- They do not tell you that you’re not like other women. They know that women are as complex and unendingly different from each other and would never oversimplify an entire gender.
- Nice guys don’t feel insecure by a woman’s autonomy or independence.
- Nice guys don’t shame you for wanting sex or think that women should be less experienced then men.
And that, my friends, is my nice guy rant.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Clo Bare, not ALL nice guys are like this. Not all nice guys have “Nice Guy Syndrome” and not all men are nice just to manipulate women or get back at the woman who denied them in high school.
And you know what? You’re right. #NotAllMen and all that crap. This is not an attack on genuinely nice men. But what I’m talking about here ARE “self-proclaimed nice guys” and men with “nice guy syndrome” who use a veil of niceness to get away with bad behavior.
Dealing with your own version of a nice guy that’s not so nice? Leave your story in the comments below.