Do Nice Guys Finish Last?
Q: Three months ago I found someone that I would like to be in a committed relationship with. We've been together almost every weekend and have talked every day. She is 23, three years younger than me, and had just come out of an 8-month relationship. After a month of dating, I asked her if she would consider a relationship with someone living an hour away from her (that is, me). She thought she would but it was too soon after her last relationship and she didn't want to "mess things up with us." We have been on a weekend vacation together and have stayed together for the last month of weekends. When I questioned her as to where we stand, she replied that she still enjoyed spending time with me but was concerned with the distance. We both seem to be looking for a long-term relationship. I just don't know if she still needs time off after her ex, especially since he and their mutual friends are still giving her a hard time about it. Should I just keep giving her time or is she just keeping me around for companionship until something better comes along? I'd really like to make it with this girl since she has values that I haven't been able to find in another in a very long time. By nature I'm a very nice person when it comes to significant others, I've read articles about how you shouldn't be nice to better attract a mate, and it makes me wonder if I'm taking the wrong approach. - Jeremy, 26
Dr. Susan: I'll begin with your last question first because it's one that makes me grind my teeth whenever I hear it. Do you honestly believe you are too nice to capture the heart of a woman with good values? (I assume your current female friend has what we'd call good values, rather than secretly being a slutty vampire, for example.) Those articles you mentioned offer tips to insecure men who want to believe there are simple tricks and games that will make them irresistible to women. I don't even know where to begin to tell you how manipulative and insincere that approach sounds to me. Be yourself, be honest to this woman about liking her, and let her know you value her for who she really is. End of "tip."
What you might be doing is trying to close the deal before laying all the groundwork. There's no need to be in a big hurry to get her to commit to you. Three months is nothing when you're getting to know a person. If the two of you find yourselves ready to make a commitment, it wouldn't hurt to live closer to one another, but until you're ready, the distance shouldn't be a huge obstacle. As to whether she needs more time to get over her ex, I don't see any real signs of that, regardless of what her friends are telling her. Anyway, she shouldn't be in touch with him now, if she wants to "get over" him. She may be more confused than you are, but if you hang in there and behave with dignity, there's no reason that she won't appreciate you for who you are. There's no such thing as "too nice." You can be humorless, boring, rigid, perhaps too goody-goody, but no, not too nice.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.