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February 10

The Nice Guy Defense

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:05 pm

Classic LetterFrom the December 1, 1997 column…

Dear Breakup Girl,
Hey, I’m the guy that got the sledgehammer to the heart this time! What is it about them loving you, but not being in love with you and just wanting to be friends? I’m such a nice guy, you just don’t want to fall in love with me? What’s up with that?
— Jilted Guy

Dear Jilted Guy,
Ah, the Nice Guy thing. Definitely a fair question. There are two situations in which women employ the Nice Guy defense. One is used to explain why you don’t want to go out with someone in the first place. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you; on the contrary, it means she honestly likes you. But it does mean that for her, something about the two of you together fails to create that inexplicable combustion called chemistry. Women get the “nice” dis too, by the way. If you don’t believe me, just observe the Janeane Garofalo character in “The Truth About Cats and Dogs” (unless you’ve seen it already, which could explain why your ex called you “nice”).

“Nice Guy” is also used as part of a breakup explanation. This is the kind of breakup we all – both dumper and dumpee – hate in a special kind of way because it’s total gray area. Here, the use of “nice, but…” indicates that she is fumbling for a way to describe what is basically an inexplicable gut feeling that it’s “not working” (as opposed to something she could really put her finger on, like if you’d run off to Cozumel with her cell phone and one of her wood shop students). Thus, it is also nearly impossible for you to understand what her problem is.

But listen, Jilted, I promise you, if women are telling you you’re a nice guy, you’re on the right track. Don’t change. You might not finish first, but you’ll cross the line with the right person.

Breakup Girl


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