Do You Suffer From ‘Nice Guy Syndrome’?

Above: Urban Dictionary's definition of 'Nice Guy Syndrome'
Above: Urban Dictionary's definition of 'Nice Guy Syndrome'

The word “nice” is defined as an adjective meaning “pleasant, agreeable, and/or satisfactory”. Lots of people describe themselves as “nice” in a vague, kind of general way, but the word suddenly carries a lot more hidden meanings, and possible contradictions when it’s used to describe a type of guy. The whole “nice guys finish last” thing may have started the shift from “nice” as a positive to a negative attribute.

One Urban Dictionary entry defines “Nice Guy Syndrome” as “an annoying mental condition in which a heterosexual man concocts over simplified ideas why women aren’t flocking to him in droves. He is too stupid to realize the reason women don’t find him attractive is because he feels sorry for himself, he concludes that women like to be treated like shit.” Basically, a guy who doesn’t understand that women don’t owe him anything simply because he’s nice to them, has Nice Guy Syndrome.

One recent, albeit extreme, example of a “nice guy” is Elliot Rodger. On May 23, 2014, Rodger went on a violent spree, killing 6 people, and injuring 14 others. Weeks earlier, he uploaded a video on Youtube explaining why he planned to do what he did. He also emailed a 100,000 word “manifesto” to various people further explaining his motivation for the attacks. One of the main reasons Rodger snapped was due to his lack of success with women. He explained, “you girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime, because… I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.”

Rodger saw himself as worthy of female attention, and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t getting it. He blamed women for not seeing how great he was, and other men for stealing the affection of those women away from him. That sense of entitlement is the basis of “Nice Guy Syndrome” and continues to be something that a lot of guys fall back on when it comes to their failures with women.

Obviously, not all self-described “nice guys” are spree murderers waiting to happen. But the idea that if you treat a woman a certain way, she should automatically like you is something a lot of guys believe. If a guy helps a girl with her groceries, or lets her vent about her work problems, or is there to pick her up when her car breaks down, there’s no reason she shouldn’t fall head over heels in love with him, right? As if accepting his nice gestures means she’s somehow in his debt.

There’s nothing wrong with being a gentleman, and going out of your way to be a good friend, or even hoping a girl you like might eventually like you back. The problem starts when you begin adding up all those nice things, and expecting them to eventually pay off in some pre-determined way that she’s completely unaware of. No one can control who they have feelings for, and just because you do nice things, doesn’t mean you’re entitled to expect anything in return.

Being genuinely a nice person means you do nice, generous, kind things because you want to, not because they are a means to an end. “Nice guys” don’t finish last because they’re nice, they finish last because they think being nice makes them the man of every girl’s dreams. Nice is now more synonymous in most women’s minds with something to be suspicious of than it is with “perfect boyfriend material”.

Getting a girl to date you by trying to create a debt she must pay off isn’t a path you want to go down. Women can tell the difference between a guy who is genuinely nice and a guy who is just “nice” for show. Just like a woman can’t expect a man who sleeps with her to want a serious relationship, a man can’t expect a woman to sleep with him because he did something nice for her. It goes both ways. Ditch the expectations and just be yourself. Women are a lot more interested in honesty and respect, than they are in fake “what am I going to get out of this” delusions of grandeur.  That should be a given, but apparently, it’s not.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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