Nice Guy Syndrome: What it is and why you should kill it with fire

October 24, 2011 | 33 Comments » | Topics: Dating

nice guy syndrome



A woman has a close male friend. This means that he is probably interested in her, which is why he hangs around so much. She sees him strictly as a friend. This always starts out with, you’re a great guy, but I don’t like you in that way. This is roughly the equivalent for the guy of going to a job interview and the company saying, You have a great resume, you have all the qualifications we are looking for, but we’re not going to hire you. We will, however, use your resume as the basis for comparison for all other applicants. But, we’re going to hire somebody who is far less qualified and is probably an alcoholic. And if he doesn’t work out, we’ll hire somebody else, but still not you. In fact, we will never hire you. But we will call you from time to time to complain about the person that we hired.

This reasoning right here is the epitome of “Nice Guy” thinking.

Basically a “Nice Guy” is someone who wonders why if they are so nice and good to women, why they won’t reciprocate (sleep with them)? The reason is: because they don’t have to, and no force in the world can change that. Let’s now get into the nitty-gritty of what’s wrong with being a “Nice Guy” (hereafter referred to as an NG).

Some quotes that are helpful:

Vulvarine posted:

I think it’s really important to distinguish between niceness and kindness. Kindness is a real, positive, desirable trait in a romantic partner. Niceness is just the ability to be inoffensive. Most women who don’t like “nice guys” are perfectly affable toward kind men as a dateable group.

Ionic posted:

One of the keys to understanding the Nice Guy vs. the clueless innocent is that the Nice Guy’s definition of himself as such is usually the result of repeated romantic failure and a resulting, crippling bitterness. The clueless innocents eventually bumble their way out of that stage. That’s the difference.

I don’t want to make this into more than it is, but I think many men fail to grasp exactly how uncomfortable and, potentially, vulnerable a woman can feel in the face of persistent attention, flattery, and the like.

It flies in the face of years and years of social conditioning to tell an outwardly “nice” man – one who has in no way technically threatened, harassed, or intimidated you – to “get the fcuk away, I’m not interested.” It’s one thing to tell off the drunk who’s trying to cop a feel on the subway (and even that isn’t always easy). But rejecting the friend who just won’t stop hanging around looking for more? It’s not a simple situation.

So, many women just don’t do it. Especially confident and assertive women can do it easily, but even a woman without self-esteem problems could understandably find it difficult to be ruthlessly direct in that situation. All too often, we opt for subtlety instead.

And that’s where the real problem with Nice Guys comes in. A regular guy would get the hint, see it as a matter of compatibility and not take it personally, then move on to someone more likely to return his interest. A Nice Guy, on the other hand, will stick around and attempt to wear you down. Often Nice Guys will pursue “‘hard luck’ cases” – women who are perhaps not the best-prepared to stand up for themselves.

And in the end, if the Nice Guy doesn’t get what he wants? He invents a scenario that makes his wasted effort a noble quest to overcome (what he tells himself) is his target’s shietty taste in men. Because admitting that he wasted his time pushing for something that was clearly never going to happen is just plain cognitively uncomfortable.

To sum up, the “perfect storm” that goes into creating a self-described Nice Guy is a mix of a sense of entitlement, a mark who is too kind and/or passive to outright reject the NG, and the NG’s persistence in the face of what many other individuals would recognize as subtle signals of mark’s disinclination to mate.

NG behaviour is manipulative. NGs basically do everything they can to ‘make’ someone fall for them in an underhanded way. It makes every “nice” act revolve around the ulterior goal of getting with ‘that’ girl. They do it so hard that it becomes a second nature and they’re not even conscious of it.

NG behaviour ultimately reduces women to objects. While they would vehemently deny it, NGs project all their romantic fantasies on one (or sometimes multiple, or successive) girls, which blinds them to the fact that these women are independent people.

NGs are not nice for the sake of being nice. They’re nice because they think they’ll get something in return. Granted that many people behave that way, but the Nice Guy often has a particularly bad case of this, which sometimes even veers straight into a type of co-dependency or creates a massive entitlement complex.

Most women and many men can sense that you’re a “Nice Guy”, and think it’s creepy. Also, it plain just doesn’t work. Even if you insist on having some sort of mathematical formula for “women like X, Y and Z so if I do that, I’ll get laid”, the Nice Guy Technique has appalling success rates.

Nobody likes assholes, and any women who says she prefers “bad boys” past age 25 is probably sort of broken herself. However, most women who end up with guys that have glaring flaws don’t date them because of their flaws. They end up dating them/sleeping with them because they are self-confident, have interesting stuff to say, are attractive or act like actual people instead of a scripted doormat. Also, maybe her SO is acting hostile towards you because he can sense your true motives.

One particular reason why the “friendship” between an NG and their ‘one true love’ or whatever is shallow and questionable is that NGs typically don’t go in against their object’s opinions (unless their position is threatened somehow), even if these are wrong or questionable. It’s pretty passive at best and sycophantic at worst.

NGs often describe themselves as being “nice”, and oddly enough, so do many people around them. Well, if the first thing that comes up in your mind, or in others’ if you need to be described, is “nice”, then you have a problem because it means you’re not particularly seen as having personality.


If you are, then why are you moping how girls only “want you as a friend”? Also, a variant of this excuse is NGs who go out of their way to not do anything or act on their feelings as long as their object of desire is in a relationship, but prefer pining in the shadows, bottling up massive frustrations.

Popular culture tends to feed the idea that the NG thing is somehow cute, worth empathising with or even truly romantic. Like so many clichés about love and relationships in pop culture, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Pop culture loves exploiting NGs because it tugs on a few heart strings and is good for drama. It doesn’t make this sort of behaviour mentally healthy or advisable, and if you’re going to take dating advice from pop culture, well, then I don’t know what to say.

Nice guys make an advance that cannot be rejected in a socially acceptable way. If a guy says, “Hey, how about a date?”, then it’s perfectly socially acceptable to say, “Nah, I’m not interested.” But instead he might say, “Oh, you’re moving? I’d love to help. When? Hmm, I’m working that day, but I can call out sick. It’s really no problem! I don’t own a truck, but I could rent one of those ones from the Home Depot.” Is this guy really helpful just generally, or is there some subtext there of him trying to impress you? Should you say, “That would be really helpful, but since I am not attracted to you, I am honor-bound not to accept your offer of assistance”? Of course not. So you don’t say it, and then there’s this weird THING sort of hanging in the air in your dealings with that person in the future. You’re like 85% sure that he’s into you, but every time he has an opportunity to actually say it, he passes it up. Eventually, you relax a little, and then one day one of your dumber girlfriends lets on in front of this guy that you have car trouble. You try to hiss at her or step on her foot or something, but you’re too slow or she’s too clueless, and his eyes brighten. “Can I look at it? I’d be happy to help!” Ugh.

Apart from being a non-argument/false dichotomy (it’s not one or the other), in fact, NGs are already assholes, but with a mask of niceness. You can certainly be a nice person without the deeper layers of manipulation, self-pity and self-entitlement.



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  • Fred Brocaa

    That first paragraph alone deserves a Pulitzer.. Jussayin..

  • V.

    Fuk all that. Woman don’t want chivalry. They actually do want assholes. And not all nice guys are push-overs or passive-aggressive or hopeless romantics that pine over women. The nice guys are the confident guys who just want to make the girl happy. Because they know they can do that. The girls are too fixed on the bad boys and its true. The girls don’t want an open book kind of guy who will talk openly and honestly, they want a mystery novel who gives only bits and pieces.This is some piece of shiet rationalization of why women aren’t attracted to nice guys and why there is something wrong with the guy. Let me say something, there has been more stories and heartache over a girl who constantly goes for the asshole and the “NG” helps her out. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be as big of a cliche as it is. So to all the girls out there who have that nice guy who listens and helps and brightens your shiet-tastic day, give him a shot instead of that asshole who made you cry in the first place. I have a strange suspicion that you won’t be disappointed.

    •  LMAO at you V…you are such a Nice Guy.  puke

    • It seems you’ve gotten friendzoned so hard that you can’t even think straight now, ur probably crying and masturbating right now, wishing that you have that perfect girl that you’ve been chasing for months doing “nice” things to her, while she won’t appreciate you, sleeping with assholes and not “realizing” what a nice guy you are, blla blla blla, cut the bullshiet and be a man. 

      • Mr. Jonesy

        Being an asshole is easier, stop gloating about your masturbation rituals.

    • Hellfire

      To be fair he has a point. Although I agree with most the article states, it still leaves out generally nice people. This could make woman discard men (or the other way arround) as a NG, which in this case is a bad thing. However this person might aswell just be pleasing you because thats the way he is. It doesn’t mean he’s a push-over just because he does things for you. It is possible that he just doesn’t mind doing it.

      For example: Person A complements Person B on multiple occasions. This does not neccesarily mean that A wants to have a relationship with B, it could also be that Person A just believes in giving creddit where it is due. I see no fault in complementing a person on their looks repetetively if I actually like how she looks, because who does that harm, even if I have no interest in dating her.

      The only things wrong about V’s comment is the fact that he generalizes woman to all like bad guys but then so does this article in generalizing nice guys as a bad thing.

      PS: another thing wrong about his comment is “Because they know they can do that”. Because they don’t. it’s just an assumption and if they “know” they can they are just naive.

      • Pestimouse

         “I see no fault in complementing a person on their looks repetetively if I
        actually like how she looks, because who does that harm, even if I have
        no interest in dating her.”

        Well, for a start the problem is it might harm you, insofar as B thinks you’re a doormat, if you like her, and you’re pushing yourself into the friend-zone before she can even think of you differently – and what if you DON’T like B, but keep telling her how great she looks, how skilled she is at a task, or whatever – isn’t that a bit confusing? Women can get friend-zoned too, and I’m guessing your logic there is part of how that can happen, looking at my own experiences.

        Why the “repetitively” – surely that’s about you trying to take your own inner judgement and make B accept them as part of her internal self-image?

        Person A might be trying to “give credit where it’s due” – but does B really want, or NEED, to be “given credit”? It may run counter to media projections, but most women don’t actually run round with their tongues out, gagging for praise from every male we meet.

        Confused? How would you feel is a woman kept repetitively giving you compliments, yet either had no interest in you whatsoever as a sexual person, OR, she starts praising everything you do like your shiet smells of lilies… do you want a doormat, or a decent partner who doesn’t put you on a pedestal?

        Just asking these to give a bit of outside perspective, I have noticed when men dish out compliments, it tends to be very much about them, and their perceived “right” to do so, which is provable by the way men react when told or asked politely to stop doing it – something we see when someone is doing this in the workplace and is asked to stop, but also, more subtly, in a case like this.

        If a compliment is solely about making the other person feel good, then surely stopping the minute you see that it might not is the best choice – so, why defend it here? TRUE niceness is more about deeds than words, anyway. JMO.

        • Hellfire

          “Well, for … own experiences.”

          I see what you mean but to be fair I still have my own boundaries so even if person B would see me as a doormat I still would not do anything I do not want. and in the case I dont like B it’s true they could become friend-zoned which I think is a stupid concept cause it can always be avoided by speaking your mind.

          “Why the … internal

          “why repetitively” I think you misunderstood me there its not like I tell them every day or every week but seeing as you know people for years. besides there are many ways to compliment someone perhaps they just bought some new clothes you like saying you like them is basically a complement on their looks. I can imagine you doing this multiple times a year which is repetition.

          “Person A … we meet.”

          I know most people dont “NEED” to be given credit and some people dont want this but I again dont see how this is an issue, you are able to tell someone you dont like it.

          “Confused? How …a pedestal?”

          the point of my post was saying that there are guys that are generally nice and that being nice is not automatically a bad thing. To be fair what I see as giving compliments is not the same as praising everything someone does I think you could tell the difference. and I dont mind someone giving me repetitive compliments without sexual interest.

          “Just asking … anyway. JMO.”

          I dont see it as a right to give compliments. I agree with you that it is proveable by the way men react but then again aren’t these then the “nice guys” that actually are bad. instead of people that are generally nice. the entire point of my post was saying “a compliment is solely about making the other person feel good” that this still is a possibility.

    • are you twelve?

    • Amy

      Yeah that’s bullshit as the nice guy could be an arsehole in disguise like the article is saying I totally agree with it.

    • Madeleine

      “The girls don’t want an open book kind of guy who will talk openly and
      honestly, they want a mystery novel who gives only bits and pieces.”
      – Oh how wrong you are. I’ve had “mystery novel” men, who can’t express their damn emotions even if they got slapped in the face with them, do you know how incredibly difficult it is to lead a real relationship with someone like that? How childish it is to not have the maturity of your own emotional knowledge…?
      There’s nothing more attractive than a person who can openly speak their feelings clearly, affectionately and sincerely.

      It’s lovely how you take aim at “rationalization” towards NG’s but you at the same time pull all women into the same box of bullshit yourself. You’re so far stuck in your bitterness, I hope you can get clarity on that and become happier.

      Also, it’s not about “giving anyone a shot” – It’s about emotions. You cannot force yourself to fall in love with someone who you have no romantic chemistry with.

    • isis1769

      Not all women want or don’t want the same thing. Stop with the “women want” or “women don’t want” “XYZ” bull.

      Besides, this article was not about nice men, but about men who pretend to be nice to get what they want.

  • Snapoutait

    “Ionic” is genius (from the set of quotes at the top).

  • Snapoutait

    “Apart from being a non-argument/false dichotomy (it’s not one or the other), in fact, NGs are already assholes, but with a mask of niceness. You can certainly be a nice person without the deeper layers of manipulation, self-pity and self-entitlement.”

    Oh my God, this article is seriously perfect. 

  • Pestimouse

    I had been enthusiastically enjoying your lulz posts of images and yet cringeing at a few of the jpgs that seemed to defend “nice guy-ism” – until I read this post. FYI I am a happily married former nudie model with a bullshiet radar and this post has finally disarmed my fears that you, good sir, and your readers (no comment on “v.”) are falling into the worst trap of all.

    Did you know, women do this shiet too – I was one of them in fact?

    A topic for another time, perhaps (or not) – anyway hats off to ye, and may all good things come your way!

  • Adam

    A lot of women get cheated on, but not very many women get cheated on by nice guys.  Just sayin’.

  • Its nice to finally see someone address the fact that so called “nice guys” are really just jerks who act nice to get what they want and then play victim when the girl see through it.

    I first realized that this nice guy stuff was false when I saw how this so called “nice guy” would do nice things for this one girl, but would be a jerk to any other girl.

    I knew a genuinely nice guy. He never had to tell the world he was a nice guy. He also didn’t finish last. He got married and now has a child.

    True nice guys are nice to everyone and don’t have trouble finding someone, its the faux nice guys that get finished last, why? Because no one likes a poser.

  • Pestimouse

    Let’s make this simple – you meet a woman through work, friends, whatever. You DON’T want to have sex or a romantic relationship with her, either she’s not your type or she’s really unattractive, generically.

    But she’s – NICE – funny, interesting, there for you with stuff, helpful… okay, sometimes that “helpful” feels too passive-aggressive or too stalkery, but more often than not, she really makes your life better by being a part of it. You actually do care about her – in a totally non-sexual way.

    Do you change your mind, sleep with her, marry her – even though there’s no chemistry? Just because she’s “NICE”?!

    No, of course you don’t.

    Now let’s move this out of beginner level – you meet a girl, as above – except, she’s not bad looking, she’s not a definite No – you maybe rate her as 7 or 8 out of ten on your personal scale.

    But even before you can try any mores, she makes it clear her schtick is to trail round after you when you have nothing better to do, helping out, trying to please you – she sympathises about your past/current GF, generally acts like your sh*t smells of roses… do you find this MORE attractive?

    I’ve been that girl – and the answer is No – chemistry is as much about wanting someone who doesn’t give themselves away TOO easy, doesn’t try to fill every niche in your life for you, doesn’t s/mother you (in the case of women) or act like you’re her gopher, if you’re a guy.

    No-one wants what’s handed to them on a plate, be it partners or material objects (which is why the highest-priced or rarest stuff is valued, duh) – once I learned this lesson, and started acting like I was a commodity worth having, I was married within 15 months.

    Okay, I’m female, maybe don’t know what you’ve been through, blah bullsh*t… “game” or “the rules” are about valuing yourself ENOUGH that you don’t just hand all the benfits of a relationship: the company, support, etc over, without getting anything in return.

    Take whatever you rate your OWN looks as out of ten, and ratchet that right up to at least 9 right away, if you can summon up self-respect, boundaries, honesty about why you talk to a female; and above all, lose the people-pleasing around girls you like.

    Women can get friend-zoned too, maybe take a look at your life and see if you ever did it to a girl, even one you thought was so unattractive you didn’t think of her as a woman – or maybe even a gay guy.

    The way out of the friend-zone is BOUNDARIES, and the self-respect that gives them birth.

    I’m speaking from the heart here, so ignore it if you like but so long as you’re dishing your own heart out all over town, hoping to “give in order to get” then you’re just that loser of a friend. Sad, but true.

    • Dick

      Speak for yourself. I’d give her a sympathy bang.

      • Molly

        Dick Your name suits you for thinking like that!!!

  • Jimbob

    I’m honestly sick of being the nice guy , for the right reasons just to plutonicly show girls there are nice guys out there … I have no intentions of sleeping with these girls but they always get that impression! it’s fuked why can’t I just be the nice guy who is purely just the nice guy! Fuk!!

    • The Mouser

      If you just want friends, then the fact they’re “girls” shouldn’t matter – but you’re acting like it does by brining in dating/sexual paradigms here.

      If you want friends with prospects open to more, then look at your intention. Can you drive to a city 300 miles away if you don’t know where you want to go? No.

      I think with respect you’re a bit muddled what you want, and by the way the greatest error of the 20th Century has been to mistake “nice” for “moral” or for worthwhile, or great or the good, best, etc… it’s NOT!

  • Listfull

    great article! there is a big difference between a truly nice, kind person, and a “nice guy”, that being their motivation for being nice, and who they are nice to. Truly kind people are kind to everyone (unless they have a good reason not to), whereas a lot of self-described nice guys are only nice to women they want to bed, so they can sleep with them. Truly good men are capable of being “just friends” with women, even though some of those friends may be attractive. If they want more, they try to find a way to make that clear, so the woman can tell them clearly whether she’s interested or not. if she doesn’t want more than friendship, a good man will accept that, and then decide whether he can handle being just friends after that rejection or not. it’s sad that there are some truly good men who are too shy to make a move on women, but instead of placing all the blame on women for not being psychic, they should try to work on that and learn to be more open.

    I also feel sorry for “nice guys” because they apparently don’t know any genuinely happy good couples, or so they claim. I don’t know what circumstances they live in to not know of any happy hetero couples, but ONLY ones between women and bad boys who just hurt them over and over. it doesn’t look anything like the world I live in, where most of my male and female friends have found great relationships with kind, caring people who generally treat them very well.

  • Candid cuisine

    thanks for sharing this info. I have a friend I thought was having middle child syndrome but then he’s needy and expects his affection to be returned. I hate him.

  • saganhill

    This is all bullshit. A total generalization.

  • anna

    Oh god yes! THIS!

  • Clambino

    Every relationship requires the participation of at least two people, or it isn’t a relationship. Relationships are eternally complicated and their negotiation is regularly painful, this is uniquely true of unrequited affections. It is no less so just because we desperately want a rationale that lets us off the hook while making the other person out to be the problem. There are plenty of narcissists to go around, plenty of men who use “nice” as a strategy, plenty of women who do this as well. There are plenty of men who are callous, entitled, jerks, plenty of women who are shallow, greedy, and self-involved. The vast majority of people however, are just trying to figure out how it works, amidst crippling anxiety and an enormous opportunity for misstep. Unless you are truly cold, calculating, and single-minded, it is all too easy to spend your affectional capital in the wrong way, or on the wrong person. Most people have done that.

    Sadly, we live in a culture that immerses us in wildly conflicting messages. “If s/he isn’t interested you should just move along and not make a big deal out of it.” – which is good, rational advice – but it gets countered in every Rom-Com and Coming of Age story by some version of “persistence pays off,” “some day the scales will fall from his/her eyes and s/he will notice you the way you desire.” This is also a culture where we generally deal with our own feelings of guilt and inadequacy by blaming someone else.

    So this kind of rant, where it seeks to heap additional opprobrium on the heads of self-styled “Nice Guys,” and exonerate the unfortunate victims of such sad, pathetic, chumps, just isn’t helpful. It promotes a handful of tired cliches, it is deliciously mean spirited, and naively one sided (which may be the actual intent) but it isn’t helpful.

  • clyph

    If a person doesn’t reciprocate your friendship, they are not your friend… they are using you, cynically and intentionally exploiting unreciprocated feelings in order to get something of value out of you. What they are getting from you could be emotional support, favors, gifts, whatever. Taking without giving is predatory behavior and a type of emotional abuse. While male abusers do this sometimes, this pattern of abuse seems to be one that women in particular seem to have no problem rationalizing to themselves and each other. What makes it abusive isn’t what is being taken, but the fact that nothing is being given in return.

    If you give a gift to someone, or do them a favor, there is a natural social and moral obligation to reciprocate. That doesn’t mean sex… but if someone gives you something then the polite and decent thing to do is to give SOMETHING in return. If you do not intend to reciprocate a gift you should not accept it.

  • David Atchison

    some good points were made in the comments, but i have a problem with the tone of this article. The person who wrote this seems very cynical almost mean. Perhaps there is some personal story they should have shared. Cynicism is not a good foundation for such an article. Overall i find this article is amateurish and shortsighted.

  • st.matt

    What this article is describing is not a typical nice guy, its a caricature made up of the worst sociopathic traits that explains away every nice action as an ulterior motive to get something they want. In reality, a man can act however he wants – as nice as he wants or as douchey as he wants – as long as he is hot enough, women will have sex with him. If you are rich enough, women will marry you. This article is just the male version of victim blaming, putting the responsibility for the womans actions on the rejectee.

  • Clarence Benedict Romero

    Wow! this is a nice article. Anyways, just for the sake of sharing, I have a fictional dystopian book that relates about this so-called “nice guy syndrome” stigma… here is my kindle link, try to check it out: