The Real Reason Nice Guys (Should) Finish Last


In pop culture, the quintessential Nice Guy is a romantic underdog. He’s usually a well-meaning dude who puts his love interest on a pedestal and, through a series of trademark Nice Guy moves, hopes to save her from the clutches of his nemesis, Mr. Jerk. However, his lady love is blind to the kindness and adoration he shows her, missing out on the good deal that’s right under her nose, if only she could see him for who he is.

We all like to root for Nice Guy.

Photo: Jonathan Potter/Creative Commons

We all know we shouldn’t be Mr. Jerk, even if he gets the girl sometimes. No woman deserves to be stuck with a guy that uses coercion, various forms of sexual and emotional abuse and other strong-arm tactics to get what he wants. But we all see why we don’t want to be Nice Guy, right?

However, despite unlucky-in-love Nice Guy’s puppy dog eyes and wounded expression, he isn’t what he’s cracked up to be. In fact, in extreme cases, he can be just as (or perhaps even more) dangerous, destructive and misogynistic than Mr. Jerk from a relationship standpoint. Let us explain (and the truth might hurt).

Boiled down, the nice guy stereotype has made it socially acceptable for a guy to expect sex or relationships in return for kindness, affection or attention.

Of course, viewing relationships as a transaction is destructive, and leads to all sorts of complications. When a nice guy showers his love interest with kindness and affection, expecting sex or favors in return, it’s unlikely to be out of sincere love—and almost certainly out of a sense entitlement. No man has the right to think of women as paid-for objects, even if his currency is that of adoration.

The nice guy is also a masterful social manipulator. He doesn’t shower every woman he meets with equal kindness, just the ones he wants to hook up with. He identifies her weaknesses and insecurities (poor self-esteem, she’s dating Mr. Jerk, etc.), and rushes in to fill those cracks with what resembles friendship on the surface. He unjustly makes her the object of his pity, and that’s what he treats her as.

In fact, he may have even manipulated himself into thinking what he’s doing is out of the good of his heart. The nice guy stereotype has allowed a generation of guys to delude themselves into thinking that they are white knights, making the world a better place for women everywhere, whereas they are in fact just looking for a way to justify their own insecurities with the opposite sex.

When the nice guy does manage to manipulate a woman into entering a relationship with him, things look good from the outside. However, going deeper, he may be in the habit of doing nice things only to later use to guilt his girlfriend into sex, and think that it’s okay. He will also never connect with his partner on a deeper level, preferring to passive-aggressively avoid confrontation to keep up the illusion, and also so that he can never be made out to be the bad guy, keeping the blame-game in his court (rather than working things out like a mature man should). But chances are that he will be rejected, which is an outcome he is actually prepared for as he martyrs himself on the jagged rocks of romance.

You see, if the nice guy gets rejected, he’s already got a load of safety nets built up for himself ahead of time (“Chicks only date assholes”). He feels justified blaming the woman instead of himself for his lack of success, and that’s hardly fair. This blame-shifting has gotten so normalized that we have delusional nice guys shrugging off responsibility for their actions (or lack of action), thinking that’s okay. Setting themselves up for failure also wreaks emotional havoc on the nice guy himself, as he internalizes each rejection. Some guys break down and go to great lengths to change their own personalities in order to “fix” themselves and be more like, well, assholes like Mr. Jerk.

Nice guys use their acts to justify their insecurities with the opposite gender and, by doing so, create a self-fulfilling prophecy. They will try, and try, and try again, each time getting increasingly disillusioned with womankind, fueling their own insecurities and causing the nice guy to re-enter a cycle of subtly abusive behaviour ad infinitum. What’s worse is they raise their expectations higher with each rejection, so that they’ll never be satisfied, even if they do enter a loving relationship. You know who else keeps repeating the same thing, despite never being satisfied with the results? Serial killers.

The thing is, women don’t hate truly good men with truly good intentions, but they do have a bit of a sixth sense when it comes to avoiding so-called nice guys who want to manipulate their way into their pants. At least assholes are up front about it—the nice guy thinks he’s putting on a good show, when he’s really being more transparent than most suitors by trying to convince his interest that she likes him through a shallow transaction.

Just a reminder: this is the worst case scenario. You’re a genuinely nice guy, and yes, we believe that you’re the real deal.

But before you decide to stick with the routine, make sure you really think over your intentions. Do any of these examples remind you of how you act towards your significant other? Do you really have her best interests at heart? Are you being authentic with your own feelings, needs and desires?

Be honest with yourself so that you don’t end up a lost cause. Assholes don’t finish first, but nice guys always finish last.


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