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January 19, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

The thing I fear most in life is "I just want to be friends." Or "I don't want to ruin our friendship with a relationship now."

I have been trying to get to know these women in college. I did all the things a "nice guy" does. I helped move big stuff into their dorm rooms, set up computers and bed lofts, what have you. That's how I am: When I like a woman, I try to help her out. Well...then I get to be her best friend. I've tried not to be a "nice guy," but I just can't. It's instilled deep within me. So what can I do to not be the best-friend/older brother/father/confidant and be someone's boyfriend?

-- Broken Heart Bob


Dear B.H. Bob,

Of course you can't not be a nice guy. You are a nice guy, whether you like it or not. And trust me, women do like it -- I mean, even LIKE like it.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: when women say "he's NICE, but..." they are not speaking some weird cryptic secret Woman Language. In most cases, it's just a lame generic catch-all phrase for that no-chemistry feeling that's otherwise impossible to describe. (Come on, surely you know some girl whom you think is perfectly, yes, NICE, but who just doesn't happen to do that voodoo to you. That's all it is.) That, or there's some Oprah self-esteem issue going on where they think they "don't deserve someone so NICE." In which case, it's really her problem, not yours.

But listen: the thing for you to do is to be a nice guy, not a Nice Guy. Be nice because you are, not because you're trying to. It's your character, not a campaign. If Miss Thing needs help plugging in her PC, then MacGyver will be glad to help her -- if he's free. If Miss Thing's roommate is feeling weepy, then Uncle Bob's shoulder is available -- usually.

And reconsider your approach -- you've got a role in setting the tone, you know. The next time a girl piques your interest, ask her out on a date before you fix her loft.

Breakup Girl

P.S. Same shout goes out to "Friendship King." You know who you are.



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