The Harm In Being Nice

I’ve resisted posting things based on my personal life mostly because I don’t know who reads this site. (Or paradoxically, because I know exactly who reads this site). However, I think the following observations might be useful to enough loyal readers to warrant revealing part of my personal life to the public.
Skipping most of the back-story, I recently went out with someone. We had a total of two dates in the span of roughly three weeks1 and things were going relatively smoothly.2 This past Friday, I called her up to wish her a “Shabbat Shalom” and to shmooze for a bit. Long story short, after telling me how nice I am, what a great guy I am, and what a great time she had, she said she didn”t want to continue dating because she couldn”t see it going anywhere, or in her words, “I can”t see us raising grandchildren together.” 3
This is hardly the first time this has happened to me, and I think it”s happened to several other guys as well. We”re nice, considerate, otherwise great guys and perhaps what a person is looking for, but for some reason this isn’t enough.
This used to frustrate me greatly. Honestly, I don’t hold a grudge against anyone – everyone is entitled to make decisions which they feel will gring them the greatest happiness. However, being at U of C pretending to be an academic, I decided to analyze this phenomenon. And like all good pseudo-academics, we have to first define our terms. What makes a guy a “nice” guy” My experience is that generally they will have several of – but not limited to – the following characteristics: kind, polite, sensitive, considerate of others feelings and emotions, often funny, often intelligent, good sense of the world, and will treat someone with respect. Sounds like a “nice guy,” no? If you’re female, it might sound like a typical shidduch offer, and odds are you’d be turned off immediately. If you meet someone like this in a normal setting, you might like him, but only as a friend – even though he might be a perfect match for you.4
Why then is it that the nice guys so often finish last? How can being nice actually be a turn off and harm someone”s chances for a meaningful relationship? I think the answer can be found in an old adage which usually has a different connotation:

“Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?”

The usual interpretation is that since men are only interested in one thing. Once they get it, they would see no need for a commitment i.e. marriage. I think the same logic holds true for women. Assume the popular myth that women want an emotional connection of some sort. If there is a “nice guy” around, she can the emotional support she needs from someone without having to commit. She may be able to confide in him, have him work around her apartment, help her with just about any crisis, and she doesn”t have to make any sort of commitment back to him. The guy will obviously put up with it, because after all, he’s “nice” and this is what nice people do.
So if there’s a person who is willing to do all this for you – with nothing in return, why would you consider a serious relationship with this person” You can go find someone else who is cooler, richer, better looking, or anything else and still have that “nice” person around when you need him or if nothing else works out.
Cow, Milk, Free.
I should note that there can be exceptions – in my case roughly 1.5 exceptions.5 But overall, I see that there can be a few options and I”m opening this up to discussion. What should people like me – us “nice guys” – do to get out of this?
The poll is open and will be for about two weeks. Comment as necessary below.
Poll Has Been Closed
See the followup post: Waiting On A Friend
The poll has now been closed, You may still view the results or if you’re too lazy to click the link:
43% – Stay nice – Something good will turn up eventually (29 votes)
3% – Stay nice – might not work for you, but why should everyone else lose out” (2 votes)
49% – Stay nice – just stop being such a wimp (33 votes)
6% – Get a complete attitude adjustment – might require mental reprogramming and/or labotomy (4 votes)

1. We were supposed to have had a third date sometime in there, but I got stood up.
2. Intentionally omitting details.
3. Which reminded me of the most comical breakup line I once got from someone in Israel: “I can”t go out with you anymore, because if I keep speaking to you, it would be bad.” How true. How very true.
4. I’m not talking about guys who come on too strong. I can understand how guys who throw themselves at women aren’t terribly attractive, and could probably use the system
5. No, I will not elaborate.

Posted in Jewish Dating, Personal, Society.

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