We asked self-proclaimed ‘nice guys’ what being the ‘nice guy’ actually means
‘Nice guys come last sadly’
We’ve all had the misfortune of encountering a self-proclaimed ‘nice guy’ during our lives. Men who, despite the misleading name, often turn out to be anything except nice.
These men are a consistent aspect of the dating scene – existing everywhere from your Tinder matches to the Love Island villa. It’s safe to say that most women can spot a nice guy a mile away, but what do guys think of the term?
Is it valid to criticise men as using the term as a façade to pressure women into having sex, like some say they do, or should we stop seeing being nice as a character flaw?
On a quest for answers, I went to the most readily available source of men – Tinder – to find some real life nice guys and to ask them what it actually means to be a nice guy.
The true dividing line amongst men in 2021 appears to be based on whether you align yourself as one of the nice guys, or whether you’re simply “not like the other nice guys.”
Here’s what the nice guys of Tinder had to say:
James: ‘I’m not one to try and put too much pressure on a person to do something if they’re not comfortable’
James, 22, from Worcester, said he’s a nice guy because, he’s “not one to try and put too much pressure on a person to do something if they’re not comfortable.”
While James thinks being a nice guy is about “treating others with respect,” he said he wouldn’t describe himself to others as a nice guy because “that would be a bit self-obsessed and cocky.”
James wasn’t sure if nice guys suffered in the dating scene, saying, “Each person is different and wants different things in people.” While in general, he thinks girls prefer nice guys, he concedes that people might be attracted to someone “more toxic and not as understanding of others’ feelings.”
James thinks that “people like the thought of being with someone who is a little broken, and like to heal them and grow together.”
Byron: ‘Nice guys come last sadly’
Byron, a 21-year-old single dad, falls into the nice guy camp, saying: “I like to think I’m a nice guy. I’ve always been raised in the way where you treat people how they want to be treated and if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all.”
He sees nice guys as being “genuine and not only after the one thing that most lads are after,” adding that he would “want to get to know someone before anything like that happens.”
However, he admitted that in the past he’s been “a bit of a knob”, including cheating on someone. Byron regrets this, saying, “everyone makes mistakes and you’re entitled to a second chance in life.”
Byron thinks that being the nice guy may have disadvantaged him on the dating scene. “I’ve been told I’m too nice sometimes, which is a bit weird,” he said. “I don’t know how you can be too nice”.
Byron believes it’s “less expected in today’s society for lads to be nice, so women often think, ‘why is this guy being nice? I think he’s being a bit of a weirdo.'”
This is why Byron thinks, “nice guys come last sadly.” He still wouldn’t change his behaviour, saying, “my relationships have always been long-term, so I must be doing something right.”
Alex: ‘Nice guys are usually second-choice for the girls’
Alex, a student at UEA, is another self-proclaimed nice guy. His receipts of him being a nice guy include: “arranging surprises for my ex” and being “on the other side of a phone every day for a week or two when my female friend has been upset by something.”
Sadly, he felt this could be considered negative in dating since nice guys “might be considered pushovers and are usually second-choice for the girls”. He thinks that being “too nice” is seen as negative because “everyone likes a challenge, whether they know it or not.”
He said he’s experienced this in his own dating life, with one of his relationships ending because he was “too nice.”
“She thought I was up to something because I was nice, even though I hadn’t done anything to betray her trust,” Alex said.
Nonetheless, he wouldn’t change his behaviour. “At the end of the day, if I think if I am nice I’ll attract the girls that I’m perhaps suited for, so it’s just a waiting game.”
Stephen: ‘Nice can sometimes be confused with weak, cowardice or a pushover’
Nice guy Stephen, a 23-year-old graduate from Sheffield, said the traits which made him a nice guy were being “fair, honest and integral.”
But when I asked him what the nicest thing he’d done was, he thought this was the “toughest question,” before adding that “nothing major” came to mind. He did once take a flatmate home after she got rejected from a night he’s had “planned for months.”
Stephen felt that “nice can sometimes be confused with weak, cowardice or a pushover” since it “doesn’t subscribe to the traditional nuclear family model where man provides, dictates and heads decision-making.”
He also thought women would “always” have “an attraction to what may be a perceived ‘bad boy'” in certain situations.
Stephen thinks negative ideas about nice guys come from “spite”, saying: “Many young men have grown up in households where all the wrong behaviours are exhibited. So when they see nice behaviour it’s not normal, and thus not to be trusted.”
Rory: ‘I’ll be surprised if anyone outright said they didn’t think they were a nice guy’
Rory, a student at Bournemouth University, sees himself as a nice guy as he is “loyal, respectful, and honest with his intentions and obviously kind to people.” But he wouldn’t outright tell other people he’s a nice guy.
Rory was aware of some of the negative connotations of nice guys, saying: “I do feel there’s this nice guy persona a lot of people put on with an obvious intention underneath it. I’ll be surprised if anyone outright said they didn’t think they were.”
James: ‘I don’t want to be considered a nice guy’
Other men were much more cynical towards the concept of the nice guy, with James, a 22-year-old student at Leeds, saying he sees the term as “derogatory” and “negative.”
He said that a nice guy is one whose “sole reason for being nice to girls is to gain something from, like a date or sex” and that he doesn’t want to be considered a nice guy because he “doesn’t expect anything for being kind.”
Fynn: ‘Nice guys like to think they’re alphas when in reality they’re not’
Fynn, 21, from Suffolk, agreed. “I don’t think I’m a ‘nice guy’ because I realise that women can say no and don’t have to be attracted to me,” Fynn said.
He characterised nice guys as “not liking taking no for an answer” and criticised them for thinking it’s “a woman’s obligation to like them.”
“Tthey like think they’re the alpha when in reality they’re not,” Fynn said.
Fynn understands why nice guys “get a bad rep” because they are “pushy”, “arrogant” and “kinda creepy and weird.” He compared the phrase, nice guy, to the “Karen” stereotype.
“There’s just this image of a big sweaty, neck beard dude wearing a fedora that no one wants to be so it becomes negative,” Fynn said.
George: ‘Nice guys are a bit incel-ish’
George, from Cambridge, also said he would never describe himself as a nice guy, which he defines as “ a guy who acts ‘nice’ or friendly towards women, then expects this to lead towards a romantic or sexual relationship, but then gets angry or sulky when that doesn’t happen.”
He added nice guys tend to be “more likely than average to call themselves feminist and less likely to actually be feminist.”
George said: “In the past, I might have had thought processes along the lines of a ‘nice guy’, but I think (hope) I didn’t act like a nice guy. Once I’d heard of the concept of a nice guy and saw that it was derided and wrong, I avoided thinking like that.”
George doesn’t think women inherently dislike guys for being “nice” but said the problem was many of these men portray themselves as nice “solely to have sex” and then “react badly to rejection”, which he describes as “a bit incel-ish”.
George pointed out that “this nice guy stereotype isn’t as much of a thing in same-sex relationships”, nor with women, reinforcing that being nice in itself isn’t inherently seen as a negative trait in relationships.