The Problem With ‘The Nice Guy’

He calls back. He doesn’t play games. Hell, he even offers to do chores. But do ‘nice’ guys get more chances than they deserve, asks Samantha Rea...


by Samantha Rea |
Published on

I recently started dating the nicest guy I’ve ever met. On our first date, we went for a lunch

that flourished into an impromptu theatre trip, and on his way home that night, he texted to say it was,

‘the most mega first date in my 20 years of dating’.

The next day, he booked us into a restaurant with a six-week waiting list (thus announcing his intentions to see me for the foreseeable future), and when I mused aloud about decorating, he offered to paint my walls (no euphemism).

Only one thing festered – his fungal nail infection. I tried not to look, but at least two of his fingers were adorned with what looked like decomposing bark off a gnarly tree. I felt sick when he ran his fingers through my hair, as I imagined the strands running through the ridges of his rotting nails. When he put his hand between my legs, all I could focus on was which fingers he was touching me with.

I lived in fear of a fungal infection in my vagina. I tried to push it out of my mind because he was nice – and we’re told a nice guy is the ultimate prize.

But when I cancelled a date, he spent 10 days revelling in the role of the injured party, as I sent apologetic texts. Then he seemed to forgive me – reprieve! – before dumping me via WhatsApp and blocking me.

'Steady Eddie' in 'Big Little Lies' ©Netflix

Fungal Fingers was as nice as a 'nice guy Gus', the passive-aggressive 30-something on Netflix’s rom-sitcom Love – one of a glut of Nice Guys recently gracing our screens, like Steady Eddie of Big Little Lies and Ray in Girls. In an attempt to come across as nice, Gus declines to assert himself in any situation, and consequently accumulates a shitload of anger. When in the pilot episode, his girlfriend Natalie dumps him, saying, ‘You’re not nice, you’re fake nice… I just want you to be true to yourself,’ Gus loses the plot, screaming: ‘You want me to be true to myself? I want you to f**king die!’

Sex with Gus (shown prior to the break-up) looks about as pleasurable as a smear test conducted with a cactus. And unpleasant sex seems to be something we put up with when we think a guy is ‘nice’.

While I dreaded a dry-rot infection from Fungal Fingers, my friend Emily dated a guy who wore a lumberjack shirt to bed. She says, ‘Even during sex, I wasn’t allowed to remove it.’ The shirt turned

out to be the least of Emily’s bewildering disappointments. She says, ‘Although he’d slept with a lot of women, ultimately he didn’t believe in sex before marriage. So every time we did it, he felt guilty, and went on about how morally awful it was. He was also terrified of menstruation. When I was on my period, he referred to my vagina as a strange and dirty place.’

Emily is clever, pretty and successful, so why was she sleeping with a meltdown of a man who dressed like Ed Sheeran under the sheets? ‘He was a lovely guy, and great to talk to, so I overlooked it all.’ But was he really lovely? That’s the question. ‘Well, no. He wouldn’t call me his girlfriend or say he was in a relationship with me. He said it would mean I’d start nagging.’

Self-proclaimed ‘Steady Eddie’, husband to Reese Witherspoon’s neurotic Madelinein HBO’s Big Little Lies, likes to think he’s nice. Ed does 50% of the childcare and wants to come across as a good guy, but his bitterness brews beneath. ‘I’m stable, I’m grounded, I’m good old Steady Eddie!’ he seethes, after setting the table and serving dinner. Is it any wonder his sex life with his wife is defunct?

Paul Rust plays Gus in 'Love' ©Netflix

My friend Abigail spent several years with a guy who sometimes went three or four days without showering, or changing his socks and pants. She says, ‘I feel it should be done daily, but he did it every other day at best. At the weekend it might not happen at all. He couldn’t see the problem, but I’d feel queasy when I was close to him.’ As a nurse, with high hygiene standards, why put up with this?

‘He was nice and we got on well. I wanted it to work because he was a decent person.’ So you’re still together? ‘No, he was lazy, complacent and flaky, and other stuff started to piss me off.’ Not that nice then.

It seems women are paying a bad sex tax for going out with self-proclaimed nice guys, who don’t even turn out to be that nice. It’s an even shadier deal than the tampon tax. Has our elevation of

the nice guy to No.1 on our desirability list allowed some terrible habits to slip through the net unchecked? Do we really have to sacrifice orgasms at the relationship altar, in thanks for a boyfriend who isn’t an axe murderer?

Great men and amazing sex don’t have to be mutually exclusive: I say we raise the bar and demand to have it all.

READ MORE: The Dating Glossary: Your Terminology Guide

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