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LoveFAQ is a weekly advice column for geeks, by geeks about love, life and maxing out your romance meter. Got questions for LoveFAQs? Send them to [email protected].

Dear Love FAQ:

I read with interest your comments to “Pressed A Too Fast” in last week’s column, “Stop Camping Your Girlfriend for Sex”. I’m shocked at your attitude towards “nice guys”- yeah, there are “nice guys” who are actually not so nice and use mind games; but you actually suggest that stereotypical nice guy behavior is actually fundamentally wrong!

I hear this time and again at the moment (must be trendy) to put down the nice guys: they try too hard, they want to be your friend first, they think about how to approach a relationship as a developing thing rather than rushing in based on gut feeling. And yes, there are certainly nice guy traits which are common which are bad (e.g. they moan about losing girls because of their approach, or they are just pretending to be the nice guy). But seriously, are we really at a point where “Nice Guy” behavior should be frowned upon!?!

I’d like to think of myself as a nice guy. I don’t sleep around. I work hard. I want to get to know someone and discover feelings for them, rather than go on gut feeling and work out there’s no future after 3 days. I’m not lucky in love, though I realize that’s born of social anxiety issues rather than the “nice guy burn”.

So I guess my question is: am I doomed as a Nice Guy™?

Thanks,
I Am A Nice Guy

Dear Nice Guy,

You weren’t the only one to call me out for my apparent disdain of “nice guys”. And while I stand by my answer, I thought it might be best to clarify a little.

In this world, there are nice guys and Nice Guys™. The nice guys are genuine, honest, likable people: Men of generosity, of kindness, who treat those around them with respect. Nice Guys™, on the other hand, are passive-aggressive babies who feel entitled to a woman’s affections simply because they’ve “been there for her”*.

A nice guy sees a woman as an individual with the capacity to make her own choices, even ones he may or may not agree with. He does not begrudge anyone her self-determination.

A Nice Guy™, on the other hand, sees a woman as an Achievement to unlock. He thinks that as long as he mashes the right sequence of buttons (Listen to her problems! Give her presents! Cheer her up when she’s sad!), then he’s entitled to collect his just reward-and if he doesn’t get it, then he’ll whine about what he perceives as bugs in the game. What a woman wants or chooses makes no nevermind to a Nice Guy™, because should she have the gumption to actually want something different than what he wants, then clearly, she’s only trying to torture or take advantage of him.

A nice guy likes you for who you are. A Nice Guy™ likes you for what he thinks you represent, or what he wants you to be.

A nice guy complains that the pretty girl who he asked out didn’t say yes. A Nice Guy™ complains that the pretty girl who is the love of his life and he’ll never meet anyone else like her again, who he didn’t ask out but just pretended to listen when she talked about her problems for three hours because he was too chicken-shit to ask her out didn’t say let me completely validate your existence for you and by the way why hasn’t anyone ever realized what a Nice Guy™ you are?

See the difference?

This behavior is often bundled with a fearful, passive, or insecure approach to dating and women, which shouldn’t be surprising, considering that Nice Guys™ are nothing if not insecure. Nice Guys™ confuse fear with respect; dependency with devotion. They hide their feelings, because they don’t want them damaged. And that’s okay, for a little while-but if you’re ever going to find love, the kind that changes your life and makes you the man you were meant to be – then you must be honest with yourself, and everyone around you, about who and what it is you want. You’ve got to put yourself on the line. Because love only comes to those who earn it.

So if you want to fall in love, don’t be a Nice Guy™. Those guys are dicks.

But you know what? I don’t really recommend busting your ass to be a “nice guy”, either.

Generally, I think being “nice” to attract a mate is overrated. “Nice” is great if you’re a Disney Princess, but come on, everyone should be nice to each other. That’s just standard practice for living in polite society. And just because people often aren’t nice to each other doesn’t mean that when you are, it somehow makes you more distinctive or desirable. I mean, it’s like flossing. You really want to hang your hat on the fact that you floss, and other people don’t? I mean, sure, you’ll have nice teeth. But… what else?

A woman who tells her friends that, “well, he was nice” is damning you with faint praise, because it means she can’t think of anything else to remember you by.

So don’t settle for being “nice”. Strive for “amazing”, or “unforgettable”, or “the greatest man I’ve ever met”.

Yes, be respectful, generous and kind. Be nice. But also: Do the things you do well. Don’t apologize when you win. Tell jokes in a crowd. Take the mic in Rock Band. Be the DM. See the world. Laugh loudly. Dance badly. Try the things that scare you. Wear a stupid hat. Share your opinions freely. Share your kindnesses even more freely. Love yourself first, and without restraint. Just burn, burn like a flame that can’t go out; burn brighter and hotter than even the sun.

Fuck being a nice guy. Be a supernova instead.

*I’ve called men here, but Nice Guy™ behavior is gender-neutral. Ladies, don’t be Nice Guys™ either.

Disclaimer: LoveFAQ is written by Lara Crigger, who is by no means a trained psychiatrist or therapist or even a middle school guidance counselor – just a smart gal who wants to help out her fellow geek. LoveFAQ is meant for entertainment purposes only, so don’t take it as a substitute for professional advice. If you have real problems, consult your physician.

Got a burning question (or a question about burning) for LoveFAQ? Send your emails to [email protected]. All submissions are confidential and anonymous.

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