Here’s a touchy topic for a lot of men – can guys be too nice? Is it true that nice guys finish last?
There are several terms that men don’t like to be described as being. One of them is the word “cute”. You know what I’m talking about. When a woman says a guy is cute, she means she thinks he’s good looking. She’ll tell her friends he’s cute, and they’ll all know exactly what she’s talking about. Tell a grown man he’s cute, however, and you make him feel like a primary school kid with his mum pinching his cheeks still. Heck, even primary school kids don’t appreciate it. I don’t know any guys who take “cute” as a compliment, even though its use actually means you got it going on.
Another one of those terms that guys get touchy about is the phrase “too nice”. I was at a party the other night where someone was talking to me and said “Matt, you’re just too nice”. It’s not the first time – I’ve heard that comment many times before. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard it used before too. If someone calls you a nice guy, it’s a pretty decent compliment, right? It usually means you’re kind and genuine, and that it’s appreciated.
But it’s not always appreciated, is it?
Can guys be too nice? Is it really true that nice guys finish last? Let’s talk about it.
Defining a “nice guy”
I guess it’s worth defining exactly what we’re saying when a man fits in the category of a “nice guy”. I’ve already said it usually means a guy is kind or genuine. That’s a pretty handy quality to have. I mean, you don’t really want to be having a conversation and all of a sudden, the person you’re talking to says, “Hey Matt, you’re a really rude, discourteous sort of guy, you know?” Not exactly a desired outcome.
Think of that stereotype of a “nice guy”. He’s usually very jovial, very proper, always smiling. He offers to listen, he holds the door open for a lady, if you’re dealing with next level nice he’ll pull the chair out for you too. He’s a gentleman. He’s dependable. He’s always there for his friends and his loved ones. He’s very pleasant and well mannered to talk to, interested in what you have to say, has a respectful tone and is very complimentary. He plays by the rules. He doesn’t push you too hard – he lets you make your own decisions.
All of this shortened to describe someone as a “nice guy”. Sounds like a great guy to be around, doesn’t he?
The perceived problems
Of course, it isn’t these aspects of the “nice guy” that society has a problem with. There are a few problems society puts forward about men who are nice guys.
#1: He’s a pushover
First problem we have with the nice guy – he’s a pushover. He doesn’t have a spine. He puts forward ideas that get shot down. If someone says no to him, he just reluctantly says, “well okay”. He is seen to be his own worst enemy. Because he’s always desiring the good of others, he’s not always fighting for what he wants. He’s seen as weak-minded and unwilling to take charge.
#2: He’s not desirable
Oh boy. This one. This one is probably why guys often hate being told they’re “too nice” or “they’re just such a great guy”. I mean, yeah, he is. But there’s a perception that being “such a great guy” means he’s not seen as husband material. Or even boyfriend material. He’s just going to be that good ol pal of mine for the rest of our lives cause he’s just so nice.
Women don’t want nice guys, right? That’s the perception we have. And quite often, this is the experience of both the men and the women involved in this discussion. Some women find themselves having no attraction whatsoever to the nice guy, and the nice guy is frustrated because he thinks he would be good for her. I’m not making this up here, am I? I think we all have enough friends or family members who’ve been on either end of this conversation before.
#3: He’ll be taken for granted
And then there’s this one. “You can’t be nice like that because it’ll be taken for granted”. Because you’re going out of your way for people, doing your best to show them kindness, people are just going to presume on your graciousness. They’re never going to put anything back into you, they’re just going to take the free lunch you’re offering and continue on with their lives, with little to no regard for what you’re doing for them. Unfortunately, the courteousness, friendship, and love of men like this often does get abused and taken for granted.
A nice guy’s response to these problems
These are all pretty decent points, you know? That’s why I’m acknowledging them here. But as a guy who has been told he’s a nice guy before, I would like to offer some comment on some of these. If you’re a man reading this and you find yourself fitting into this category more than not, let’s actually give some thought to whether or not these criticisms have any merit.
This may be a bit of a rant in some ways, because honestly I’ve seen so many of my male friends hurt by these perceptions before, and I would like some comments in defence of the nice guy, while still trying to take on board what is being said.
#1: Don’t mistake kindness for weakness
My first thought in response to the criticism that nice guys are pushovers is to say, “Sustained”. In other words, you make a good point. Men shouldn’t be complete pushovers. I would argue you’re not being truly compassionate if you’re not strong enough on your arguments or on putting forward your ideas. It’s true that sometimes these guys can just be complete wimps.
Since when is it more desirable that we have men in our lives talk us down, constantly disagree with anything we say, and always demand their way or the highway?
Oh sorry, what’s that? No one actually enjoys that happening? I didn’t think so. So why are we criticizing great qualities in the men in our lives like patience, perseverance, and above all, kindness in a cruel world?
Kindness is not a weakness. Yes, be strong. Yes, don’t just let yourself get beaten to death or let your dreams completely die. But by the same token, kindness is actually selflessness acted out. If you want kindness, it does involve someone giving preference to someone else’s concerns and needs. I think that actually takes a lot of strength to be able to do, and I admire it because it demonstrates you are secure in who you are.
#2: Kindness is actually desirable
Here’s the problem I have with the view that nice guys aren’t desirable.
They are desirable.
“Oh but what about all the women who just want a bad boy and don’t appreciate someone being kind?”
Well, let’s talk about that. I have seen it so many times when a girl goes after a bad boy (and we all know a few), she spends the whole relationship blaming him because he’s not as kind as the guy she won’t date. His brash apathy may have gotten her attention, but it’s also destroying the relationship. Cruel and apathetic men don’t make good husbands or fathers, and there’s millions of women who can (unfortunately) attest to that.
Scripture gives several descriptions of what is desirable in a man, and what a man should desire to be. One of the Proverbs says that “what is desirable in a man is ‘chesed'”, with the Hebrew word ‘chesed’ being used throughout the Old Testament to describe God’s grace and lovingkindness. “Your ‘chesed’ is better than life”.
Among other things, it encourages us to be generous, look after our families, live an upstanding life, work hard, fight for what we believe in, stand strong as men of faith, and strive for peace with all men.
Just because one person didn’t find you attractive doesn’t mean those qualities aren’t worth pursuing, bro. And if you ask any reasonably mature or emotionally stable woman, she’ll tell you that she’s grateful for the love and support of her husband/boyfriend/love interest. I know that’s something I’ve had to remind myself of from time to time when I’ve felt belittled in my own approach to life. Kindness is desirable and celebrated, even if we don’t always feel like it is.
#3: Let them take you for granted… just don’t take yourself for granted
I guess all of us are a little afraid that the people in our lives will take us for granted. What if you do something kind for someone else, and they don’t notice it? What if you don’t get celebrated for what you’ve done? What if someone says they’re sorry, and they do it again?
Do the right thing anyway.
Doesn’t being kind or “nice” actually mean that we tolerate people’s faults? That we lay our lives down for their benefit? That we remain kind and courteous and respectful, regardless of how others treat us?
I mean, sure, there is a line there. Even the ultimate grace will pull back after continual, intentional, and destructive resistance. But we’re so afraid of that line that we don’t let anyone ever go anywhere near that point.
And if we want to see healing in our world today and be men who truly make a difference, it’s gonna take a whole lot of grace.
All this to say, I think “nice guys” get a bad wrap, and aren’t always appreciated as they should be.
But I’m just one guy. Curious to hear what you think on the matter. Do you think nice guys finish last? Agree with something I said? Disagree with something I said? Go for broke.