The Secret Life of Nice Guys


I want to take the discussion in a serious direction for a minute. There was an awful piece of news on the wire today: a man walked into a ladies’ fitness class and started randomly shooting.

He killed three women and injured many others before killing himself.The media quickly found an online diary that suggested his reasoning behind the massacre: he couldn’t find a girlfriend, and he blamed women.

Actually, he blamed the world for his problems: women, his family, his boss. Really, looking at his writings, he was in need of professional mental help. But a recurring theme in his diary was that he saw himself as a normal, “nice guy.” Not once in his diary did he stop to think he could change his results by doing something differently. By trying something new. Very sad for all concerned.

My point in going there is that I’ve seen flashes of anger in many men — ironically, always the “nice guys” — because they blame their loneliness on women (“they all just want a ‘bad boy’ who’ll treat them badly”).

“Your Friends Are Supposed to Be Nice to You” Part of this issue is conventional wisdom: Be nice. Just be yourself. Show you care. The problem is when niceness becomes neediness, being yourself becomes not growing, and showing you care means heaping giant gobs of suffocating sugar on the one you want. TV and movies show the nice guy winning, because it’s what we want to see — we don’t get to see them years down the line, when the nice guy won’t leave the house without his special one, won’t let her go anywhere without him, and won’t try anything in bed that isn’t mom-approved.

Your friends will tell you you’re awesome and any woman should be honored to be with you, because they’re your friends, they’re supposed to be nice to you, and they get uncomfortable when you’re unhappy. Your female friends won’t suggest that what backfired about your last date is that you wore a suit and brought a bouquet of roses to a first meeting at Starbucks. They’ll tell you “it’s romantic, she just wasn’t worthy.” And your guy friends usually don’t know enough to be much help, aside from buying you a beer. So with both the media and your friends telling you that being a nice guy is super awesome and absolutely nothing’s wrong with your approach, the problem must be with the women, right?

“Own Your Stuff”  When was the last time you were brutally honest with yourself about what you must improve? When was the last time you sat down in a quiet room, or a quiet outdoor setting, cleared your mind and just listened to the wind? When was the last time you made a full effort to see yourself as someone else does? I have a saying I use with my friends: “everyone’s got their stuff.” Your stuff is your issues, our baggage, from childhood and beyond. Something someone said to us that was awful but we took it to heart, or something we know we do wrong yet we keep on doing it, or a security blanket we just can’t give up. The important thing here is that no matter where you picked it up, it’s your stuff. You can keep it or reject it. Sometimes it’s hard to reject it — there’s zero shame in getting help with that, whether it’s someone like me or a psychologist or dream analyst. If you can’t deal with your stuff, you have no right to expect to bring it into a relationship. When you’re happy with yourself, when you have a manageable level of stuff, and when you can love and respect yourself, then it’s time to start thinking about a relationship.

Dating is an Efficient Market”  In days gone by, we often didn’t leave our small towns. If we dated or got married, it had to be within the relatively small pool of women where we lived. Maybe there were far more men, meaning you either lost out to some other guy or had to “settle” for whoever you could get. Or maybe there were far more women, and all you had to do to get a date was to say “yes” when asked. That’s the way it was and you liked it. In marketing terms, the market was inefficient. The product — you — often sold for far more or less than it was worth. Now there are online dating sites featuring thousands of members, Meetup groups and mix-n-mingle events in every city. There are matchmakers with hundreds of women in their portfolios. You can meet a woman in your town, or New York City, or Miami, or Belfast or Sydney. The market is now efficient, especially within a country like the US. If millions of women reject you, I can assure you the problem is not with your customers. If your product isn’t selling, you have two options: Improve your product. Work on your marketing. The obvious best choice here is to improve your product; that is, improve yourself. Get out into the world, become more fit, better dressed and groomed, more social, and build confidence. The upside is incredible and goes far beyond dating, while the downside is next to zero. Start meditating. Learn some basic “pickup” skills and practice them. On the other hand, if you’re trying to date the old-fashioned way, you’re not using your full market. Take some classes, go to mingling events and Meetups. Sign up for or Plenty Of Fish—I can help you there with some online dating tips.

Stop Being Nice, Start Being Great” If you take away anything from this article, it should be this: being “nice” isn’t enough. Let me tell you something else about me: I am, and have always, had the qualities of a “nice guy.” When I was a teenager, those were most of the qualities I had, as evidenced by the girls I dated who realized I was “too good” for them (recognize that rejection?). But over the years I’ve also developed skills and talents beyond “niceness” that make me what I am now. I’m comfortable in my own skin; I can get out of my comfort zone. I interact with women I like in ways that let them know I have high value, like teasing and not putting up with “games.” I am not a “nice guy.” I’m a complex, multifaceted guy who also happens to be nice. I take responsibility for my life and my happiness. That’s what women want — and what you should give them. Because it’s also a gift to yourself.