‘Nice Guys Finish Last’

Lydia Paynter discusses the idea of being a ‘nice guy’ and the effect that has on relationships of any kind.

Nice guys finish last’ has to be one of my least favourite phrases in the English language, pipped to the post perhaps only by ‘the friend zone’.

Yet time and time again, in conversations, online and in films and TV, the idea that women ignore the ‘nice guys’ in favour of a bad boy  is pervasive in our culture.

To the guys who are respectful and kind to women, the ones who will go to Women’s Marches, lift up their female colleagues at work, and call themselves feminists I will say this: it’s great that you’re a feminist, it’s great that you respect women, but that still doesn’t mean that woman you catch eyes with over the morning papers on the underground simply must date you.

Being a ‘nice guy’ is a reward in itself, it makes you a better person, and society better as a whole. But the whole ‘nice guy’ thing isn’t even genuine if you think that your respectful behaviour, and sharing aesthetic snaps of your female friends you accompanied to a recording of the Guilty Feminist podcast, means that a woman has to choose you over the guy who never calls her back.

History is full of women who pick the wrong man, the bad guy, the serial killer even. But rather than getting angry at women for not falling for you, the saint, why not try to make your ‘nice guy’ persona, less of a persona and more of your actual personality.

Call out your guy friends when they catcall a woman on a night out, tell your sister that you’re proud of her achievements, and thank your mother for all the sacrifices she has made for you. Not every woman is a saint, of course, but neither is every man.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ve been ‘friend zoned’ because that woman you always treat to a coffee when she’s had a rough day at work is now complaining to you about the guy she’s dating instead of you.

Be the ‘nice guy’, and tell her she deserves someone who treats you right, without assuming that the right man is you.

Maybe she will see you for the great guy you are, maybe she won’t. But if she doesn’t, then relish the gift that is female friendship. Tell her about your problems, tell her about the women you are dating, tell her about that colleague at work that you can’t stand.

Wait for the cloud of her rejection (that may not even be a real rejection, as she may have no idea you ever liked her as more than a friend) to pass, and bask in the glorious warmth of a genuine friendship, where the reward for being a ‘good guy’ is having a friend for life.