RE: The Nice Guy Syndrome

Lisa Dusseault (
Fri, 12 Jun 1998 09:40:30 -0700

Bing! Right on the button.

Nice/passive/boring guys are much more frustrating (to me) than guys with
whom I can have a sharing between equals.

Sometimes it seems that the "Whatever you want to do, my dear" kind of guys
have this highly unequal view of women as being either above or below men:
- She's some kind of goddess whom I must placate at any cost.
- She can't voice her own opinions so I must guess what she wants and do
- She might lie about what she wants to placate me, so I must guess what
she wants and do that even above her objections.
- She couldn't possibly enjoy doing the things I enjoy so I won't even
suggest the activity that I would enjoy.
- She couldn't possibly understand my arguments, so I won't even argue with
her statement and instead I'll say "Whatever you say, my dear".
- I'm the one with all the power in this relationship, so I must make sure
to meet all her needs first.
- Women are "sensitive" or "touchy", they have "whims", and men have to go
out of their way to avoid offense (I hate this one! especially when it comes
up at work!)

It can end up sickeningly patronizing rather than touchingly concerned. It
can turn into a one-sided relationship with one person doing all the
"giving", or it can turn into a frustrating competition of who can be the
most giving in the relationship. It can feel like being treated as a
fragile piece of porcelain rather than being treated as an equal.

I'm a strong woman. I'm perfectly capable of letting my preferences and
feelings be known. I am capable of working out a balanced relationship
where sometimes we do what I want and sometimes we do what he wants, and the
rest of the time we do what we both want without gaming each other about it.

Turn the situation around (if you think you're at risk of doing this to
women) and ask how you'd like a totally passive woman, immersed in her
boyfriend without a thought of herself, always "yes dear, yes dear".
There's enough of those too. You might even like it, at first, but it would
become galling over long periods.

That said, I'm with a widely-acknowledged "nice guy". Nice doesn't
necessarily mean passive. There's a balance to be found between "jerk" and


-----Original Message-----
From: Dr. Ernest N. Prabhakar []
Sent: Friday, June 12, 1998 6:31 AM
Subject: The Nice Guy Syndrome

Hi all,

I'm off to Pasadena for the weekend. My email seems to be back up, but
if I have time I'll see if I can swing by Caltech and ask them why it was
down this last week. In the meantime, you can also write me at
"" which goes via my local ISP. It may not be quite
as permanent as my alumni address, but I'll probably keep it for a long
time anyway.

I did want to report on my visit to "Tuesday's at Trish":
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Tuesdays with Trish in Match.Chat
Tuesday, June 9, 6:00 p.m. PST

The Nice Guy Syndrome

Can it be true that women prefer jerks to "nice guys?" Many
men think so. And just what makes a "nice guy" nice? When it
comes to women, there is such a thing as "too nice," although
few men are aware of this. Where does a woman draw the
line? We'll hear from nice guys who can't catch a woman's eye
and from the women who are leery of them. This chat, like the
subject matter, may be a bit controversial--all the more fun!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The discussion was pretty informal, and held in an open chat [ichat]
room, so there was some problems with 'background chatter' (chatters?).
The moderator just asked a handful of questions over the course of the
hour, but for the most part it was just discussion. I did end up taking

The first thing I realized is that there are several distinct types of
Nice Guy Syndrome (this caused a fair amount of confusion). They all
share the general characteristic of a guy who at least seems nice but
consistent gets rejected by women.

- The guy who thinks/says he's nice, but he's really a jerk
- Women say a guys nice, but that's just a euphemism for some other
character flaw
- Guys who are "nice" in the sense of passive or boring
- Women who subconsciously -do- desire a jerk, and therefore seek out
men who'll treat them badly (usually due to dysfunctional parenting)

Filtering all that out, though, there's a residual core of reasonably
healthy women who will think a guy is nice enough to have as a friend,
but not attractive enough to date. Which, of course, is my usual
situation. The question is, why?

The one definition of 'nice' which seemed to apply to me was "too
concerned with what the girl thinks, and not confident enough in what he
feels and wants." That is, a guy needs to make sure he has as much
respect for himself as he does for the girl, and (suprising as it may
seem) is not overly willing to sacrifice his needs for hers.

This makes sense to me, for several reasons. One, I realize (while
generally a mountain of self-confidence) I don't have a lot of confidence
in dealing with women on a romantic basis. I've been burned enough
times -- and been in 'target poor' environments for so long -- that I
tend to subconsciously (if not consciously) assume that a woman isn't
interested in me, and I have to "justify" myself in the relationship.

Second, I do have a tendency to pursue women who aren't exactly what I
truly want. When I step back and think about it, I realize the kind of
woman I would consider a true equal is a quantum leap from anyone I've
known to date. However, I have enough self-doubt that I wonder if that's
being too picky.

Third, I myself know that I find a women less attractive once I'm sure
she's interested in me, to some extent. When I -suspect- she's attracted
to me, I find it very interesting, but once that's "proved" I tend to
freely entertain second thoughts.

Fourth, this ties in with my other issue of being in touch with my
emotions. In at least one sense, I tend to over-analyze - well,
everything - but specifically my dating relationships. Which is perhaps
helpful in "off-line" situations like this, but in the context of
actually dating someone, it blinds me to what *I'm* feeling. If I'm
trying to respond to or persuade *her* emotions, I'm no longer accurately
reflecting *my* emotions. Which is both cause and effect of not
knowing my own emotional state.

Anyway, I have to run catch my plane to LA, but it certainly gave me
something to think about.

Talk to you all later,

--- Ernie P.

Dr. Ernest N. Prabhakar
"And ourselves, your servants for Jesus' sake." -- II Cor 4:5b