Are Nice Guys Really Unappealing?

In my last post, "Changing Etiquette Between the Sexes," I discussed how many courtesies that have traditionally been extended from men to women should now be considered common courtesies. Both men and women should be courteous to each other. Several men commented that they try hard to be courteous and nice, but women don't find it attractive, as if being courteous and nice are negative traits when it comes to dating.

This is a common belief. There are often complaints in my men's workshop that women don't want the nice guys; that we want the bastards who don't treat us well. I've heard many versions of:

• "I bent over backwards to please her but she stopped taking my calls."
• "I try so hard to do things that will make her happy yet she said she wasn't happy with me."
• "I let her make all the decisions, spent a lot of money on her and she dumped me for a guy who doesn't do nearly as much."

And the comment I hear most: "Women don't give nice guys a chance!" This is NOT true. While there are women who gravitate toward men who don't treat them well, I believe that most of us like true nice guys. But through my work I've learned that the so-called "nice guys," the ones who go out of their way to please, aren't "nice." They're doormats, people pleasers who come across as insecure, which IS a turnoff, just as people-pleasing women turn off many men.

For example, when I met a guy at a business event (I'll call him Wayne), I found him attractive and interesting. When he asked for my number and called to invite me to have dinner with him, I was excited. But from the moment he arrived, his "niceness" was overwhelming. All evening long, everything was about me. He let me know in many ways that his needs were unimportant.

Wayne asked what restaurant we should go to. I asked what kind of food he liked but he said it didn't matter, since he just wanted me to be happy. I explained I'd prefer to go somewhere that we'd both like but he insisted that he wanted what I wanted. His manners were over the top as he jumped to do everything for me. When I asked Wayne to lighten up and stop doing so much to please me, he said he was just trying to be a nice guy.

But his behavior wasn't nice since he made me uncomfortable. Wayne even subtly let me know that if we had sex, he'd put all his energy into satisfying me and needed nothing for himself. When I said I like pleasing my partner too, he assured me I wouldn't have to do much for him. All night long this attitude told me Wayne didn't value himself enough to think about and share what made him happy besides pleasing me. He thought he was being very nice but his behavior screamed insecure.

I said I wasn't interested when he called to ask for another date and Wayne indignantly said I proved the theory that women don't appreciate nice guys. I tried to explain that completely ignoring yourself and going overboard to please someone else is not nice. A true nice person understands that while it's nice to please someone you like, it's also nice to let them please you. True nice guys are a catch!

I used to gravitate to bad boys but learned to appreciate, and only want to be with, a truly nice guy. Bad boys seem more exciting but I no longer find getting hurt exciting or want to tolerate a guy who doesn't treat me with respect. They say wonderful things that I've yearned to hear but these days my ears only want to hear what's for real. So in the long run, I'll take a nice guy over a bad boy any time. I can live without the excitement of wondering where the pain or disappointment will come from next.

What self-proclaimed "nice guys" don't understand is that a good relationship is based on both people. I've found that most men who proclaim themselves to be "nice guys" are usually people-pleasers. They pride themselves on catering to a woman's needs with no concern about their own. When someone does so much for you, male or female, it creates pressure to reciprocate in some way or to be careful not to hurt their insecure feelings.

Compromise and give and take are key in a good relationship. Courtesy, respect and confidence are attractive qualities. Going overboard to please isn't. I like to be with a courteous respectful guy who knows what he wants but also wants to know what I want, just as I do the same. A confident guy who is also a healthy definition of nice is a great catch for most women.