Nice Guys and nice guys: There's a difference.
Every woman has encountered a Nice Guy. Let’s be clear from the outset: There is a difference between a nice guy (we know lots of them) and a Nice Guy. The latter camp includes the one who wants to be there for you during a tough time, then tries to drop the hand; the one who’s a big fan of feminism and female empowerment until you say no to him; and the one who suddenly unleashes a string of choice slurs when you forget to text him back.
While there are many types of Nice Guys, the central idea remains the same: They’re men whose kind deeds or offers of friendship are directly motivated by their desire to get you into bed. Often, this is underscored by a resentment of women that can rear its ugly head as soon as it’s clear you’re not going to play ball.
“I met a guy in a club years ago who had some sob stories about his exes,” recalls Karen, 31. “They cheated on him with ‘bad guys’ and generally messed him about, while he was nothing but lovely to them. In hindsight him saying that should definitely have been a red flag, but at the time I felt sorry for him.
After texting for a few weeks, he asked me on a date, but to be honest I felt no real spark. I was upfront with him about it but he got REALLY mad and started ranting that I was ‘just like the rest of them’. I was baffled. We barely knew each other.” Sounds like a Nice Guy, alright. Hannah, 24, has a similar story:
I was friends with a guy from work, or at least I thought it was. I genuinely never got any hint that he might have wanted something more. One day I told him I was seeing someone new and a er that, he got really cold and basically stopped talking to me. Did he ever really want to be my friend at all? It was so strange.
The Nice Guy is closely associated with the concept of the ‘friendzone’; a situation in which one friend (usually a guy, but the term is gender-neutral) develops romantic feelings for another, but the feelings are not returned. Joey mentions it on Friends (about Ross, naturally, the original Nice Guy), Scrubs did an episode about JD being in the friendzone, and the film Just Friends was literally all about Ryan Reynolds trying to convince a female pal to be his girlfriend. Usually, the Nice Guy was portrayed as a loveable hero, something the object of his affections fails to realise until it’s too late. It’s only recently that more and more women have begun questioning this idea – since when are we obligated to have sex with someone because they’ve been nice to us? Since when are we automatically horrible people for turning these lovely boys down?
The most recent example of a Nice Guy is Love Island’s Alex George, the pink young doctor instantly and then consistently rebuffed by the girls of the villa. But we didn’t notice his Nice Guy tendencies at the beginning, distracted as we were by Adam Collard, who went through a succession of brunettes like a snake devouring prey. “Adam is terrible!” we all cried. “Why do none of these girls go for Alex? Alex is nice!“
So we rooted for Dr Alex, egging him on when new girl Ellie came in and expressed a bit of interest. Everyone wanted it to work, especially his mates in the villa (remember the cheering as they kissed?), but eventually Ellie admitted to Alex that try as she might, she couldn’t conjure up any real romantic feelings for him. Some would say fair enough, at least she was honest, but Alex. Was. Fuming. “I’ve made all of the effort. I’ve never said a bad word against her or about her,” he raged at the other Islanders. “I just wondered if her heart was ever in it at all. I think she’s being rude at the moment. I wouldn’t treat someone like this.”
His angry response stank of entitlement (it didn’t help that he did exactly what he accused Ellie of doing to Alexandra a couple of weeks later) and his ranting in the Beach Hut about girls only saying they wanted ‘nice guys’ but going for the opposite just made it more apparent. e theory that ‘nice guys finish last’ is a core belief of the Nice Guys, and it’s not totally untrue – studies have found that women can initially be more attracted to the confidence and excitement of a bad boy, leaving meeker lads in the dust. Even so, this theory was more or less disproved on that very same Island by IRL Disney Prince, sweetheart, and eventual winner Jack Fincham.
The internet turned on Alex pretty quickly, but to be fair to him, he doesn’t display all the traits of a typical Nice Guy. He was respectful of his initial partner Samira Mighty when she suggested they just be friends, and had sweet, genuine friendships with Dani and Laura. But he’s learned (if not in the villa, as soon as he checked Twitter on the outside) that being ‘nice’ isn’t a one way ticket to the heart of a lovely gal.
As have we. A couple of years ago, we wouldn’t have been having this conversation at all. We’d have let that entitlement go unchecked and Ellie would have been a wagon who wouldn’t give a lovely lad like Alex a shot. But we’ve come a long way since then, and most of us realise now that, as the oft-repeated Tumblr quote says: Women are not vending machines that you can put kindness coins into until sex comes out. You don’t owe anyone anything, regardless of how ‘nice’ they are to you. And if they’ve got a problem with that, maybe they were never very Nice at all.
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