an open letter to nice guys

is that a v-neck i see?


dear nice guys,

saying that nice guys finish last is like saying you found your left Beatle boot in the last place you looked.  well, duh.  of course you did.  when you find what you’re looking for, you stop looking.  it may take her a while to get to you, but a good girl will find you.  eventually.

you are the catch.  you are the prize in the Cracker Jack box.  if Ed McMahon were still alive, he’d deliver you to someone’s door with balloons and a giant check.

but you have one glaring problem that sets things back and probably frustrates the crap out of you.

being put in the “friend” box. and unless you’re Criss Angel, you’re not getting out.

you heard me.  you know it happens.  i know it happens.  if it were a crime to do that to a guy, i’d have spent my prime high school years in jail.  guilty as charged.  throw the book at me.  make it War and Peace, hardcover.

am i going to tell you to be less nice to break the cycle?  yes….  no…. sort of.  but not really.  it will just kind of feel that way.

1.  you’re a good listener, not a receptacle for all misery – when you allow a girl to constantly dump her every woe on your head, she’s never going to see you as a “guy”.  you won’t want to hurt her feelings by cutting her off, but believe me, you are not doing her any favors by letting her wallow.

2.  making her uncomfortable can be sexy – the next time a girl starts to tell you how much she hates her retail job, or how her BFF always takes advantage of her by stealing her clothes, instead of empathizing and making soothing noises, say something like, “how’s that working out for you?”  when she gets mad at you and asks what you mean, and she will, just remind her both those situations are fixable, she just has to decide to change them.  put it back on her.  you’re not letting her be a victim and she’s looking at you totally differently.  you’ve just shocked your way out of the friend box.

3.  you’re not always available – stop dropping what your doing to be her girlfriend.  you know exactly what i mean by that.  don’t lie.  she snaps, you hop.  she pouts, you pet.  quit it.  it diminishes your value to her when you appear needy.  and let me tell you, being constantly ready to jump when she calls, seems needy.  knock it off.

4.  no more pedestals! – you think you’re making her feel special by putting her on a pedestal.  she’s feeling like she’s got farther to fall.  she’s not perfect.  you know it and she sure as shootin’ knows it.  quit idealizing her.  treat her like a person, flaws and all.  when she says something dumb, feel free to laugh at her.  when she does something really right, tell her “well done” but don’t fawn all over her.  pedestals = sucking up.  give her a reason to feel like she’s earned something from you instead of throwing all your adoration at her.

you’re a nice guy, not a pushover.  don’t fear the conflict.  you can’t strike a spark without hitting a rock. being 100% non-threatening, is BO-RING.  keep it between 90 and 95% and you’re golden.

you are the win.  start freaking acting like it.

sincerely yours,


what did i miss?  what are some other nice guy issues?  ever found yourself stuck in the “friend” box?


46 comments on “an open letter to nice guys

  1. Douglas says:

    I’m making some slight changes today. Thanks

  2. Matt Gates says:

    I sometimes get my mail forwarded to the friend box.

    Here’s a nice guy issue that I had to deal with a couple years back; women that I liked constantly asking me to introduce them to/how best to attract my best friend after I had been putting in the time and talking to them for a bit, trying to get to know them a little better and whatnot. I did this all while doing my best to be a good listener WITHOUT becoming a receptacle for all misery (Which I’ve gotten much better at, thanks for asking). This happened to me like 4 or 5 times over the course of 2009. Boy, did that year suck in the romance department, but at least I didn’t give them any advice on him which is what I would have done even just a couple years before that.

    Now whenever this happens I just say, “Maybe you should ask him.”. That’s usually the point when they stop talking to me… :o) <===That's the nice guy slightly bitter, but still hopeful and still evolving emoticon

  3. Matt Gates says:

    What’s with the formatting issues, btw? Why does your new comment template not recognize double spaces after a period or a space after a comma anymore?

  4. Jenn says:

    Thank you – I know there are lots of good men out there, they just are for the most part still chained in friend boxes all over North America. So dear wonderful smart men break yourselves free for the sake of all the sane women out there.

    Sharideth – the making uncomfortable is completely necessary. Just like men apparently like the chase – I believe most women are looking for someone who isn’t a doormat – respectfully challenge me, make me think, make me grow – if you can make us do that now, good chances you always will and for me and my single female friends that’s a huge plus.

    • agreed. to all of it.

    • Katie M says:

      Jenn, I totally agree. It’s not that I want to date a jerk or anything, but I can’t stand guys that kiss my ass and never give me a hard time if I’m doing something stupid/dumb/weird/irritating/wrong/etc. I like a challenge. But if a guy kisses your ass and tries to be everything for you, is that really a “nice guy”? Or is he trying to manipulate his way into your heart by trying to be “the perfect guy”? I’m not looking for a nice guy. I’m looking for a real guy. If a guy doesn’t have the confidence to be himself no matter what…then he’s not for me.

      • Jenn says:

        I had never even thought about the whole ass-kissing as that kind of manipulation but that is totally true.

        I think it is a lesson we’ve chosen not instruct our dear young men – we’ve often turned it around on the women and have told them to be more submissive… sigh – instead of just saying don’t be afraid of the girl you like – if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work, move on to the next.

        • Too Many Mind says:

          guilty of trying to be “perfect” and it usually left me broke, exhausted, and confused. always seeing her as the prize with no regard to my real value… manipulation, sure. did it work? no, i was super impressive in the begining to her, but never could keep up with the false image i tried to project. also, i never really stopped very much to consider if i really and trully thought they would be good for me or if i even liked them. thanks for the encouragement! i needed that.

  5. Tyler says:

    Very awesome. Wish I had read this while in college so I could’ve stopped listening to Green Day and getting lied to.

    Ps Love the new look. We changed together. Fate? No, it’s fate.

  6. kelybreez says:

    Now that’s amusing. Good stuff.

    I don’t actually know if nice guys finish last, because there’s got to be some really old geezers who can’t keep up, and probably a few grunge artists just because they slipped in their ackihol…

    But I’m sure you’re mostly right, it’s mostly last. Mediocrity would require them not to finish totally last because that would draw too much notice to them.

  7. ChadJ says:

    Have any of y’all read Paul Coughlin’s awesome book No More Christian Nice Guy? It helped me tremendously with my people-pleasing ways. But, and here’s the kicker, this friend I had for like 8 years, despite being told–after I lent him some books–not to, kept it. I realize now I was too nice to him, became a dumping ground for his misery.

    You know what’s cool now? It’s when I’m not a nice guy, and it totally freaks the heck out of my wife. 😉

  8. […] – Sharideth Smith and I frequent some of the same blogs, but I never read hers until last week. Now I’m hooked. She’s hilarious and has some great insights on her site A Woman’s Guide to Women: A Blog for Men. Last week she posted the 10 worst gifts and the 10 best gifts for Valentine’s Day. Also good: The Keeper and An Open Letter to Nice Guys. […]

  9. Tony Alicea says:

    I used to be a nice guy. I was constantly in the “friend zone”. I didn’t have a whole lot of male encouragement in my life telling me how to interact with women other than “sleep with as many chicks as possible” and I knew that wasn’t EVER going to be my deal.

    The pivotal factor for me was one thing…CONFIDENCE.

    I realized that as a nice guy, I allowed myself to be a doormat because I wasn’t confident. I didn’t understand my own value, so I allowed women friends to determine it for me. Plus, women can smell desperation and self-pity a mile away.

    Once I got a hold of who I am and got some self confidence (it all came from God), I was able to make clear divides in the line in my relationships with women. I stay out of friend zone these days.

    I can definitely be nice…but I’ll never again be a “nice guy”.

  10. David says:

    I can’t believe that the whole nice guy/bad boy debate is still going on. Look, its really simple: if a woman is attracted to a man then he IS a nice guy in her eyes. It doesn’t matter how he treats other people (its just his way of getting what he wants). It doesn’t matter what her friends say (they just don’t understand him). Heck, it doesn’t even matter how he treats her. As long as a woman is attracted to a man she will consider him to be a nice guy no matter what.

    When a man realizes this, he will conclude that, as long as he can make himself attractive, he doesn’t have to bother with being considerate. Being a jerk isn’t a means to an end. It doesn’t even enter the equation at all. On the plus side though, if you are a nice guy then that fact doesn’t hurt you either. The problem isn’t that you are nice, its that you haven’t made yourself attractive.

    • wow. what kind of busted women do you hang out with? lol.

      is attraction necessary? absolutely. but it isn’t even close to being the only thing necessary for a girl of worth and reason to choose him. an emmotionally healthy girl won’t stand for being mistreated even if he’s sexiest guy on the planet.

      • yeah right says:

        The thing with bad men is they don’t start out mistreating you, though. Even if they once in a while say something a little bit off or do something that annoys you, guess what? That’s everybody. Everyone screws up, everyone has a disagreeable day, everyone snarks once in a while. You CANNOT make a judgment call about someone’s character on the basis of one mood episode, especially when you’ve known them for less than six months.

        That’s what makes me in. sane. about all these people wagging tongues and judging women who end up with bad news guys. Try actually LISTENING to women’s accounts of the time they wound up with an abusive guy. Almost universally you will hear that the guy seemed awesome at first, and frequently he also seemed awesome to her friends and her family.

        Because, that’s what bad guys *do*. They flatter. If they started out punching a woman in the nose, they’d never get laid. The flattery is bait.

        And you know what else it is? While the Nice Guy’s sitting at the back of the room feeling sorry for himself and letting his shoulder dry, the A-Hole is pretending to be interested in the woman. He isn’t really–in the end, it’s all about his ego–but he puts on the act. Nobody likes to be ignored. People like to receive positive attention. The guy sitting at the back of the room whining about the “friend box” he chained himself in? He’s not giving positive attention. That’s why he loses out. It’s not because women are bad or because women prefer bad men. It’s because the bad men act like good men at first and the actual good men sit there and are lumps.

        And that’s IF they are good men. They might not be. Look at them sitting there moping, trying to trigger your maternal instinct. You know what? I give a damn about Nice Guys. I’d rather have a Good Man any day.

        • Heather says:

          I see I’m a little late to the party here, but … 😉

          This is why I never trust a charming man. If you’re charming me, you’re not being yourself … and generally that’s because there’s one amazing jerk behind that charming veneer.

          My father is a very charming man.

  11. Trevor says:

    Great post. Lots of modern young men (sorry young men but it’s true) are a particularly wet bunch (I am always ranting about this). For example, they’re in a pub, at a group birthday gathering, and instead of darting round trying to find seats for people who’ve just turned up or do other manly things they kind of just stand there, gazing into the mid distance, thinking about Twitter probably… Nice guys have always existed but our aimless Western lives and culture have now made their numbers grow, I feel.

  12. […] for some added wisdom on getting her to think of you as a man instead of her girlfriend, read this. […]

  13. susan says:

    hhmmm i think I’m the nice girl…does that mean I need to stop listening to my male friends problems and be less available?
    thinking yes….

  14. […] some tips on how to end the string along, you should read an open letter to nice guys.  it’s all […]

  15. Just me says:

    It’s not about being more or less nice with the opposite gender. It’s about being real. Infatuation Vs Loving someone. I have known some guys who complained about always being “The Friend” They were aiming for the stereotypical “ Hot girl “who was a 10, but these girls were selfish, and unkind, and satisfied pretending to be dumb. These guys had girls that were a 6-7 who were good, sweet, kind girls who Liked THEM. But the GUY Put THEM in the friend zone. It goes Both ways. So I ask some of the Male guys reading this. What KIND of girl are you going after? Why do you like her? And do you like this girl warts and all. Or are you upset because you’re not getting the drop dead gorgeous bombshell? Girls Same Question, but masculinized. lol

  16. Flucksy says:

    This is a waste of a post. If by “nice guy” you mean “socailly awkward guy who calls himself ‘nice'” you might be on to someone. Not all dudes who are nice are push overs, they just aren’t people who like to hurt other people.

  17. […] guys, for more on picking the lock on the friend box you’re in, read an open letter to nice guys. […]

  18. […] written about how to get out of the friend zone here and here, but realized i haven’t much considered the “why” of the whole […]

  19. Sis says:

    Reblogged this on Passionate Christian Marriage and commented:
    I thought this was so true in many ways.

  20. Just discovered this blog and will defo be taking time to look at it more.
    ust a word of warning to any girls out there about some ‘nice guys.’ They can be very bad guys in disguise. The listening to you, and helping you, doing chores for you thing is a way of making you dependent on them, and can be a way of gaining control over you.
    It is later in the relationship when you try to become more independent and his control wanes that you may begin to see his darker side. A lack of male friends can be a good way to spot people like this (other men can spot these wierdos a mile away) along with constant texting during the start of the relationship.
    Good advice for genuine nice guys, nevertheless.

  21. Gigi says:

    Copying to Facebook and linked in…
    Social media, here we come!

  22. Gigi says:

    Sorry -wrong blog. I meant to write to write to yours that you have amazing strength. Your words, while clearly describing the pain from the past, are beautifully written for us to read and be inspired from your resilience….
    I won’t copy this to either FB or linked-in, this is your personal journey…
    But I really thank you for sharing it.
    Sorry to post the last comment before my coffee, and with too many blogs windows open)

  23. JackWisdom says:

    Good post. Short and sweet. I wish they taught this type of stuff in school. I was a nice guy for many years and didn’t have the foggiest idea as to what I was doing wrong. I’ve experienced a gargantuan change in how I act around women after I discovered/ outlined my goals and became more comfortable with who I am, as a person.

  24. Very interesting, I have been oblivious to the manipulation/suck-up behaviour. It is like walking on eggshells in my imagination; don’t talk about “this topic” or there’s a five minute rant, remember they don’t like onions and pickles on their burgers, say nice things about them, listen without giving advice, be emotionally available, watch her when she’s talking to you, even if she’s wrong let her learn life lessons for herself, etc. , etc..

    Why, so I can be close (intimate like), without threatening her existence. How foolish (arrogant) I am to think I could do that. People change all the time, and I think now it’s helping people change, and changing together that is more valuable than being supportive and invisible.

    Thanks for the post, it’s invaluable the changes you are making. ( I actually mean that, It’s not an attempt to make you like me. trust me, or believe me; I just want to say, I appreciate your blog, I think it’s great to share these things or else, with the absence of grandparents and two parent role models, men and wome may end up alienated from each other altogether.)

  25. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this. I’m not a man, but I read this (and took notes) because I am very nice (but not very attractive) and I get used all the time. I will make changes today.

  26. The Bitter Consumer says:

    I think that there is something to be said for acting on your desires as a guy. A “nice guy” often will not act on his sexual urges and falls into the friend category because what is a girl to do when she is confronted with a man who is nice, but isn’t aggressive enough to put his arm around her, to make a move to kiss her, or even ask her on a real date or express his actual feelings?

    If he’s happy being a friend, then be a real friend whose emotional needs are also met in the friendship. If he’s just secretling hoping a girl will one day realize he’s there for her and she will don sexual favors upon him for his loyalty, he has another thing coming.

    He has to man up, show his interest and then let the chips fall where they may. The first lesson is to get out of a hole you’re in, you have to stop digging.

    To nice guys out there, do yourselves a favor, tell that woman you’ve got a crush on that you want her, you like her, as more than a friend. Then if she says no, you know exactly where you stand.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s