The Real Reason Nice Guys Finish Last

You’re gonna have to do more than be nice to get the woman.

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Photo credit: Dan Queiroz/flickr/photo

By James Michael Sama

You’ll notice a trend in my articles that speak about men being kind, respectful, and loving — particularly towards women. I don’t often use the word ‘nice.’ When I talk about ‘good men’ finishing first, that is a very different message than ‘nice guys’ finishing first. Why? Because it’s true what they say, nice guys do finish last.

But, how can I say that when everything I talk about seems to be in the direction of being nice?

To make sense of this, we first need to define what we mean when we say nice guy. I used to be a nice guy, and I used to always finish last when it came to women. I wouldn’t get the date, I wouldn’t bring someone to the dance, and I was always the best friend. But I couldn’t understand it because I was such a nice guy!

That was, and is, exactly the problem. When we say someone is a nice guy, or that we ourselves are a nice guy, what is it that we are really saying? What we are saying is that he is a people-pleaser. He is flexible, probably to a fault. He is a chameleon and can usually adopt the qualities of the people around him in order to fit in.

On the surface, this may seem like a collection of positive qualities, but is it, really? What’s really happening here is that we are describing a person who does not have their own defined identity because they are always trying to make someone else happy or to fit in with another group or make sure they don’t offend anyone by saying something out of line. What we get from this is basically a pile of silly-putty that the world around him molds into whatever they want him to be.

And he doesn’t even know who he is.

A man like this can never truly hold a woman’s attention or respect because all he will end up doing is conforming to her every want and need and sacrificing his own happiness to do so. She wants a teammate, she wants a man, not a puppet. And very often, that’s what being a nice guy makes you.

What men who describe themselves as nice guys are really saying, whether they mean it this way or not, is that they are willing to sacrifice their own standards and wants and needs to make other people happy — particularly a woman, because they think this is the only way they can keep her attention. They say this without understanding that it makes them not only boring but untrustworthy. How can you truly trust someone you don’t really know? And how can you really know someone who is always trying to fit into the mold of what someone else wants without defining themselves first?

A man who has a strong identity and knows who he is will stick with it. One of the strongest driving forces in human psychology is staying true to how you identify yourself. “I AM…” What comes after those words? If you are an athlete, your identity drives you to get up, lace up, and work out every morning — because you are an athlete. If you are an avid reader, the second one book gets finished you will be on to the next one because you are an avid reader.

But if you are a nice guy, you will be whatever the people around you want you to be. Society conditions us to think that being ‘nice’ is a good thing but being ‘too nice’ is a bad thing. What I think, is that they are very often one in the same.

Being nice does not get you respect. It does not get you noticed. It does not get you that promotion. And it does not get you the woman. If you are always trying to be nice, you probably will not always be honest. If honesty will hurt someone’s feelings or offend them, a nice guy will avoid it completely. This is avoiding the truth (which we call lying), and since when did that become a good thing?

Does this mean we should walk around being mean and offending people all the time? Obviously not, but we should be living a life of integrity which does not always entail making every single person around you happy. When you attempt to do this, you lose your own identity and wake up one morning wondering who the hell you even are. You will wake up wondering why you get mistreated when all you do is try to give everyone else what they want. You will wake up wondering why you never get what you want.

Trust me.

So, men, instead of being nice — be kind. Be trustworthy. Be strong. Be respectful. Be caring. Be honest. These are the qualities we should really take pride in.

This story was originally published on James Michael Sama’s Blog and republished on The Good Men Project.

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