7 Fixes For "Nice Guys" Who Can't Get A Date

Barry Davret


Photo by Freddie marriage on Unsplash

Nice guys struggle to get dates, and it's mostly the guy's fault. I should know because I lived that life until my late twenties. Relationships were rare and short-lived. And sex? Frequent dry spells. That’s all you need to know. But my life changed at the age of 29.

My nice guy persona pushed me to a life inflection point — a moment of clarity where your faults become so obvious, you wonder how you hadn’t noticed them before. It happened one night while hanging out with Susan — a friend of mine who I not so secretly loved.

Susan and I had become friends two years earlier. I felt nothing for her at first, but my feelings for her steadily grew. I showered her with niceties, hoping she’d catch on, but I had never verbalized my feelings.

A year into our friendship, a guy she liked shunned her. She came over to my apartment, and we talked while we downed a bottle of red wine. It was late, so she asked to crash at my apartment.

That’s when we kissed — awkwardly.

For a brief second, she attempted to slip her tongue into my mouth. But I was unprepared, and so her tongue flicked somewhere above my chin, rubbing against two days of stubble.

In a panicked attempt at recovery, I opened my mouth wider, trying to align our mouths. Susan yanked backward and made an awkward joke — something about how our kiss lacked the passion of Kate Winslet and Leo Dicaprio in Titanic.

Although brief and disastrous, that kiss heightened my affection for her.

That’s when I poured on the niceties. I cooked Susan dinner often, pretended to like what interested her, and bought her drinks at bars. One decision, however, proved disastrous for my mental health — becoming her unpaid therapist. During one of our sessions, I learned of the anonymous guy she liked.

The night of reckoning arrived, and I learned the identity of this guy — a good friend of mine. She had coaxed me into inviting him out, and now I knew why. They huddled alone most of the night, exhibiting unmistakable chemistry. When I saw them make out in the corner of the bar… Damn, it crushed me. So much for being an obedient friend.

The next day, that moment of clarity manifested. Not only did I make myself unappealing by showing excessive niceness, but I did it in a manipulative way. I had been using niceness as a device to get what I wanted, and it never worked.

That realization motivated me to give up the pumpkin pie spice persona. For a while, I compensated by becoming indifferent, pretending not to give a shit.

But that phase passed quickly, giving way to a more productive outlook. I learned to embrace niceness because it felt right. I also learned to assert my needs and opinions. In time, I began to believe in myself.

Over the next two years, I dated, had a bit of fun, and then fell in love and married.

These are the seven changes I made to become that new person. Although I’ve written this from the male perspective, women, too, fall prey to manipulative niceness and can also benefit.

1. Don’t pretend to like everything they like.

There’s a scene from the movie Coming To America, where Eddie Murphy’s character gets introduced to his arranged wife. When he asks what kind of music she likes, she responds, “whatever music you like.” She gives the same answer to any other question he poses about her interests. He tires of her in minutes.

Sure, that’s an exaggerated example, but it’s not far off from the super-nice, always accommodating guy.

Compromise, yes. Accommodate, sometimes. But have a mind of your own and use it. An always agreeable persona makes you appear dull and shiftless. Expressing yourself is a positive trait. We desire people who show character and passion.

2. Resist the urge to play the white knight.

Super-nice guys earn doctoral degrees in passive-aggressive behavior. It stems from deep-seated insecurity. Instead of telling a woman how he feels, he’ll leave hints. He’ll trash-talk other potential suitors and position himself as a white knight who rides to her rescue.

One of two things will happen.

They’ll exploit your niceness, leaving just enough bait to keep you around while you perform favors. Or, they’ll resent your attempts at manipulation and dismiss you from their lives.

3. If they need a therapist, don’t pretend to be one.

It’s stereotypical of the sweet guy persona. When their female friend suffers a break-up, guy trouble, or gets passed over for a promotion, they want to rush over and offer a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board for them to vent their frustrations.

The nice guy likes the attention. It’s fine when they do it from a place of good intention. It becomes problematic when they exploit their role as an unofficial therapist to position themselves as the white knight.

It’s admirable to assist a friend when you do it for the right reason. Offer emotional support out of a desire to help and not because you sense an opportunity to swoop in and rack up romance points.

4. Avoid the backdoor strategy. Nobody wins.

This advice will sound hypocritical since I married someone I had been friends with before we dated. But if you’re going to be friends with a woman, do so because you want to build a friendship, not because you think you can burrow your way in through a backdoor.

Sneak attacks never work. They waste both your time and leave you miserable in the end. If love grows from friendship, then fantastic, enjoy the storybook romance.

But be honest with yourself. Is friendship what you want? Or is it merely a ploy to win them over later?

5. Become the bad boy.

Nice guys tend to shake their heads at women who supposedly like bad boys. Here’s what I learned after becoming bad myself.

A bad boy who doesn’t smother a woman with kindness isn’t rude; he’s giving them space to breathe.

A bad boy who asserts his needs and opinions may come across as harsh. But it’s honest, unlike the nice guy who’s super-accommodating, always yielding and never showing individuality.

A bad boy who sacrifices time with a woman to restore a car or play ball with his friends is not dismissive; he’s showing he has other passions in his life.

Yes, there are plenty of rotten dudes out there. But what nice guys think of as bad boys aren’t bad at all. They’re just well-adjusted people.

6. Grow your most valuable currency. It solves everything.

As a former member of this club, I understand how a lack of self-esteem and confidence f*ck with your mind. If you don’t feel worthy of a lover, you resort to sugary-sweet things, thinking you have nothing else worthwhile to offer.

So, here’s a message to all the super-nice men. For a long time, I believed I had nothing to offer, and as my struggles mounted, that feeling became more entrenched. When I committed to believing in myself, my life transformed.

Your self-worth is your most valuable currency. If you invest in it and grow it, you remove the underlying cause of manipulative niceness.

7. Remember the golden rule of real nice guys.

Act nice as a matter of honor and goodwill, and expect nothing in return for it. Do it because it’s the right thing to do, not to manipulate others into getting what you want. That’s the golden rule for recovering nice guys.

When I saw my two friends kiss that night, it broke me. The woman I adored took advantage of my niceness. Worse, I had set it all in motion. But the reckoning served a needed purpose.

If you’re the nice man or woman always coming up short in romance, know this. Change can happen in an instant. Take a leap and believe in yourself. That’s when beautiful things happen.

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Experimenter in life, productivity, and creativity. My work can be found in publications across the internet

Summit, NJ

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