We have all heard it before from our mothers, grandmothers, happily married friends etc. “Why don’t you just find yourself a nice guy.” For years I deluded myself into thinking that it really must be that simple- there must simply be guys out there that are just “nice,” and if you found one you would have a “nice” relationship- no drama, no problems- everything would just be nice. However, through my intensive research as a skeptical single girl I have found that dating a guy that would be considered “nice” by society’s broad social standards, in no way means that your relationship will be pleasant. In fact, my research indicates that dating a nice guy is not actually preferable to dating an “asshole” in terms of the amount of frustration and drama experienced throughout the course of the relationship. So why do nice guys always finish last? I have summarized the rationale for my finding into 3 key points which will follow.
1. Dating an asshole is like buying something “As Is”- what you see is what you get. Dating a nice guy is like buying a used car…it appears to be in perfect condition, but you still run the risk of ending up with a lemon (if only they hadCarfax for boys…).
- A “asshole” wears all of his flaws on the surface. There are no surprises there- you know going into it that he is egotistical, cocky, and makes dirty jokes around his friends. With a nice guy, the flaws are not obvious; in fact he will often appear “perfect” at first glance. This is both intimidating and unnerving to women who have had it ingrained in their minds since birth that there is no such thing as a perfect man. Thus, the girl becomes determined to uncover whatever it is that he’s hiding behind his amiable façade. Mommy issues? Anger Management or alcohol problems? Creepy fetishes? No stone goes unturned.
2. The dumb kid will receive a much more positive response for getting a B than a smart kid will receive for getting an A-
- Because with an asshole you have low expectations (if any) from the get-go, he essentially has nowhere to go but up. Hence, every little sweet or not-douchey thing he does will improve your overall image of him. A “nice guy” on the other hand, has already been idealized in your mind. He is held to a higher standard. Therefore, he has nowhere to go but down. You expect him to walk you to your door and answer your phone calls, so when he doesn’t do something in line with your expectations, even if it’s just a small thing, you start to feel disillusioned and his overall image takes a major hit.
3. To man up vs. To shut up
- It is important to note that the nice guys are not entirely blameless here. It has been my experience while dating several different “nice guys” that communication is often a real issue. The nice guy will often want to avoid “making enemies” so he will try to avoid conflict by not addressing key issues. This backfires in a number of equally frustrating ways. One common misstep occurs when the nice guy doesn’t want to “make a big deal” out of seemingly small issues, so he lets them slide until it gets to a point where all of those menial frustrations catch up with him and he abruptly pulls the plug on the relationship. The second common problem occurs when the nice guy has for whatever reason decided that the relationship is not going to work out, he doesn’t want to upset the girl by actually telling her that, so instead he just falls off the face of the earth until she gets the hint.
In my experience the fastest possible way to turn a “nice guy” into an “asshole” is the threat of impending conflict. The key difference however, is in how they handle the conflict. An asshole is not scared to point out things that are bothering him and he doesn’t shy away from conflict. In my mind, these attributes are actually preferable and are definitely more conducive to a healthy relationship. Because if growing up in a family of WASPs has taught me anything, it’s that ignoring your problems NEVER makes them better (Ahem, “Just so you know, everything is fine…on a completely unrelated note your father has moved out. He just wanted to be closer to the ocean.”)
It really all comes down to efficiency: you can either endure a short, straight-forward and honest conversation in which you end the relationship and/or resolve the issues while maintaining mutual respect between partners, or you can spend months dodging calls, avoiding eye-contact, and feeling intensely awkward and uncomfortable when forced to be in the same proximity of one another (you know who you are). Your life, your call.
The bottom line is that every relationship has its challenges. How nice a guy is has little to no impact on the overall success of the relationship. Respect, honest and direct communication, and compatibility are key to a happy relationship, and those are not attributes which are exclusive to “nice guys.”