Years ago, I knew a Jim that wasn’t all that different from The Office’s Jim.
Like Office Jim, this Jim had a huge crush on one of his co-workers who was taken. They chatted every day. He helped her move and did other favors for her. When she complained about her boyfriend, he was quick to offer a consoling ear. He was just so “nice,” she told him. “You’re such a good friend.”
The thing is, Jim wasn’t all that nice or even actually her friend. He was being purposefully deceptive and manipulative by using their “friendship” as a guise in the hopes she’d leave her boyfriend for him.
Urban Dictionary defines “nice guys” this way:
“Not to be confused with a nice guy (that is, a male that is nice)- When used as a noun instead of an adjective, Nice Guy refers to people (men or women) who believe basic social expectations are currency for sex.”
“Nice” guys finish last because they’re assholes.
There’s nothing wrong with being friends with a woman, but there are many differences between a “nice” guy and a “friend who happens to be a guy.”
A “nice” guy
- Intends to move the relationship to the next level, whether it be to have sex or date.
- Gives with an expectation of getting something in return, whether it be now or in the future.
- Usually makes insulting comments or little jabs about his woman “friend’s” partner, positioning himself as better in comparison.
- Drops whatever he’s doing to cater to his “friend.”
- Often neglects other aspects of his life for the sake of his “friend.”
- Usually is angry and resentful.
A “friend who happens to be a guy”
- Truly wants to remain friends and does not want the relationship to change.
- Gives when he can, while not neglecting his other priorities.
- Will share his opinion about his friend’s partner if asked, but tries to keep out of it.
- Doesn’t prioritize his friendship over his other primary relationships.
I’ve had too many clients who were the “nice” guy because it was the only way they felt they could get close to a woman they liked, but it’s icky, immoral behavior you should absolutely avoid.
If you feel like you might be a “nice” guy, here are some ways to help you stop:
1. Be clear about your intentions.
If you like a single woman who you’re not friends with, express that upfront. You become sleazy when, instead of putting it out there, you play this whole nice game in the hopes of bringing her in.
You also are automatically sleazy if she’s taken and you become her “friend” in the hopes of being there when her relationship ends.
If you’re already friends with her, and feelings develop, then you have to be clear about your intentions in a different way.
My friend Jack fell in love with his best girl friend, Sara. After he realized how he felt, every time they hung out felt fraught with sexual tension. He even sometimes had trouble speaking to her. She, though, had a serious boyfriend that she was most assuredly in love with.
It was hard for Jack to admit this, but he had to be clear with himself that he was no longer her “friend” in the way he’d been able to in the past.
2. Set boundaries.
You deserve to be with a woman who wants you. A woman who is taken doesn’t want you. A woman who wants male friends, but not boyfriends, doesn’t want you.
Set boundaries with yourself so your self-esteem doesn’t get hurt in the process. You will not be “friends” with someone you want more from. You will not do favors for someone in the hopes of getting something in return.
Jack realized early on that every time they hung out, he left feeling crappy. How else could he feel listening to the woman he’s in love with rave about her boyfriend?
Because he didn’t want to keep feeling crappy, he set boundaries with himself. These were not things he told her because she didn’t need to know. He simply took a big step back and chose to spend more time with his guy friends than her.
3. Keep your feelings to yourself.
Some people might advise you to go ahead and express your feelings, but I’m going to tell you to avoid doing that if she’s taken (If she’s single, go for it, but prepared to end the friendship if she’s not interested (see #2).).
Jack knew Sara was really happy with her boyfriend, and he cared about her enough to know that it would have been really shitty for him to then spring this on her.
The other reason why I advise this is because you may be saving yourself from a relationship that’s just going to fizzle.
Let’s say Jack had told Sara. She felt the same, and she immediately dumped her boyfriend for him. Jack would have been elated, but what would be the long-term effects of that?
In all likelihood, Sara would have had some mixed feelings about leaving her ex. There’d likely be some back and forth Jack wouldn’t like. She may even need to process some things about that previous relationship as most people do. Processing your previous relationship while in another relationship is going to tax it.
What you were hoping would turn into “forever” might end in a couple of months. And your friendship with it.
4. Work on building up your self-esteem.
No one — and I mean, no one — should feel like they have to resort to manipulative tactics to find love.
If you feel that way, you’re likely operating from a mindset that you’re unlovable and don’t deserve a healthy, loving relationship. I promise you that you do. We all deserve relationships like that.
To overcome that, work on affirming yourself on a regular basis:
I’m lovable. I deserve a healthy and loving relationship.
Say them until you believe it. Do things that are kind for yourself. Eat healthy. Exercise. Hang out with people who love you. Whatever it may be, remind yourself that you deserve more from this life than transactional relationships.
5. Remember that you can’t always get what you want.
I’ve always loved the Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” for the lyric: “But if you try sometimes, well, you might find/You get what you need.”
You may believe that the woman you’re friends with is your forever someone, but she just may not be. The same can be true for jobs, cars, homes, geographic locations, whatever. Sometimes what we get after we don’t get what we want ends up being a hell of a lot better.
Be a guy who happens to be nice, not a “nice” guy. Don’t be manipulative and dishonest. Give things because you’re generous, not because you’re hoping for something in return. Be honest and upfront, and let things go as much as you can. You’ll be a heck of a lot happier, I promise, and you may even get exactly what you need.
This article was originally published via PS I Love You. Relationships Now.