One of my coaching clients said to me recently, "I just want to find a nice guy." I had to call bullshit on her. Especially since she had just finished telling me that the most significant relationship of her adult life was this sexy but slippery beast of a man whom she couldn't say no to. And he knew it. This was a man whom she had dated, then not dated, then sorta dated. Just when she was thinking it had subsided, she'd get the text that would make her heart jump.
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The point is, this dude is not a nice guy. He's not a great communicator, he's not even honest. She's moving on and it's probably for the best. But when she tells me she just wants someone nice, as we all have said at one time or another that we do, well, I don't believe her.
The Problem with Nice
Here's how I know: She has met several nice guys. And has zero interest in any of them. If I had a penny for all the women who say, "But he's so niiiiice, why can't I like him?" (Complete with the long, whiny emphasis on the word "nice," and paired with the crinkling of the brows, and caricatured heart wrenching that girls tend to do when they have complete and total access to someone they don't want, but feel they should.)
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That's like saying, "But broccoli has so many vitamins and minerals and powerful phytochemicals that will make me healthy and strong. Why can't I like it?" Because you don't. Period. Amen.
We think we have control, or should have, over the kinds of people we desire. We don't! We don't even have control over the things that make us hot and bothered. And it comes much to our chagrin, and sometimes our shame. But one thing won't change it: Wanting and trying to like someone.
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I realize I'm dealing with two different issues here. Some people really do want nice guys. But I'm not alone when I say that most of us are bored by them.
I will add here that the opposite of "nice" isn't "mean." Not in my book. It's exciting, thrilling, a little scary. It's decisive and masculine. Though it's not unkind. Kind is important.
In her book Mating in Captivity (a must read), Esther Perel talks about the importance of distance and uncertainty, and that you can only have as much passion in your relationship as you can tolerate uncertainty (an idea she borrows from Tony Robbins).
Nice is a chair by the pool. The opposite of nice is a long path that curls out of view, somewhere cast in sunlight and shadow--and entices you to follow it. Even though you're a little scared. No relationship just stays put--and if it does, it's dead in the water. So you have to move--and my idea of thrilling is someone who invites you to find your edge, and then push past it.