“I love him, she thought, I’m just not in love with him and can’t. I don’t love him. I’ve tried. I’ve strained to love him but I can’t. I am building a life with a man I don’t love, and I don’t know what to do about it.” Emma Morley, from the novel One Day by David Nicholls.
Have you ever felt this way? These five sentences describe so perfectly what it feels like to be dating someone who you know, deep down, is not right for you. After talking to hundreds of women who married the wrong guy, they often cite something like “He was a nice guy, but I wasn’t in love with him” as the reason for their ill-fated wedding. Before we get inundated with emails from all the nice guys accusing women of only loving “jerks,” please hear us out.
All too often women will remain in a relationship when it doesn’t feel right because they think they should like him. He’s considerate. He’s trustworthy. He’s respectful….yet…something is missing. Like Emma Morley, they “strain to like him.” And they feel guilty about it. But the real problem is the fact that there are important ingredients lacking in the relationship. And while others might encourage you to overlook these things, or to settle, we disagree.
Suzie dated a nice guy for months, but she couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong. In hindsight she understood what was missing. “Passion! Ambition! Challenge! Chemistry! Whatever you want to call it. It just wasn't a very inspiring relationship,” she says.
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Maria struggled with a lack of chemistry, too. “At first, I was attracted to him. On paper, he was perfect but there was no zsa zsa zuu (as Carrie Bradshaw would put it). I wanted to like him, but I didn’t feel that strong connection and more importantly, I didn’t feel the butterflies. And the worst thing about it was that there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH HIM!”
While the early feelings of excitement and butterflies might fade, authentic chemistry remains. And it’s important. What else do you need besides chemistry to ensure a relationship with a nice guy is more than just “good enough?”
Alicia weighs in on her ex- boyfriend: “I had a college sweetheart who was very, very nice. In addition to his sincere niceness, he was also quite passive and wimpy. He loved me dearly; but, I knew if we had married his passivity would have made me nuts and I would run the risk of being domineering in our marriage. I wanted a healthier relationship, so we broke up. When he married a few years later, he and his wife also relocated to the city I was living and they stayed a few years. As fate would have it, the very dynamic I feared for us plagued his marriage. He's passive; she's a 'super sea hag;' and, they have had trouble throughout their entire married life.” Alicia’s gut feelings were right on target. A nice( but passive and wimpy) guy was not what she wanted. Fortunately she found the courage to break it off. Far too many women remain stuck with the wrong guys and spend months—even years—in dead-end relationships. Most women agree that it’s harder to break up with a nice guy than a jerk.