More on Being “Too Nice”…

Do ItI’ve written before about the phenomenon of being “too nice.”  The other day a woman told me about her frustration with this tendency in men and how she actually has begun using it to her advantage.

Being too nice typically happens with men who try to be considerate by always asking their partner what they want. The classic example is a guy not being willing to choose a restaurant and continually deferring to the wishes of his partner. I’ve used the example so many times that it feels like beating a dead horse, but it is the example that is used probably 90% of the time with couples that come to see me. Women continually say, “he can’t even pick a restaurant!”

While men believe they are being considerate, women feel like they are always having to make the decisions, that the burden of choosing is on them. They get tired of that responsibility and feel that they don’t have a partner but rather one more person they have to care for.  That is a real desire killer.

The frustrating part for me is that men don’t want to believe this. They argue with me about their intent instead of listening to their partner say, “when you don’t make decisions it isn’t attractive. Is it any wonder I don’t want to have sex with you?” Women are giving clear instructions about what they are attracted to and men too often choose to ignore it.

What men fail to recognize is that there is a difference between making decisions and being a controlling jerk. You can make a decision AND be respectful of your partner’s feelings. Making decisions doesn’t mean forcing your partner to do something against their will. It means leading but also listening and factoring in your partner’s preferences and desires.

So how does the woman I mentioned use this trait to her advantage? She does online dating and has many men contact her, wanting to go out with her. At first she felt bad about having to say no when she wasn’t interested. But then she figured out that she seldom has to tell men “no.” She told me it was simple. If she isn’t interested or isn’t sure if she is interested in meeting a guy she just asks him to name a place and time to meet. The response? She says over 90% of the time she get’s responses like “why should I have to decide” or “where would you like to go?” When she tells them it is up to them, they simply stop communicating.

How telling is that? Given the opportunity to take the lead and make a meeting happen, men choose to defer. When the opportunity is reiterated they simply quit trying. The beauty for her is that it weeds out the men who aren’t willing to take some responsibility for making decisions. She feels that if they aren’t even interesting in doing that about something as simple as meeting for coffee or a drink, how will they ever do it for more important decisions?

I know there are a lot of reasons that men have been taught to believe making decisions or even expressing opinions and preferences is inconsiderate. But the truth is being a controlling jerk is inconsiderate. Being a person that helps shoulder the responsibility is attractive. Being someone that communicates preferences and desires instead of making a partner be a mind reader is attractive. So men, start listening to what women are saying…be nice, not too nice.

About awentherapy

I am Jay Blevins, LMFT ( I am a licensed systems therapist with a private practice in Madison, WI. While I work with individuals and partners around a wide variety of issues, my primary focus in on alternative relationship structures, alternative sex and sexuality, and power dynamics. I am a contributor to various relationship and sexuality blogs and publications and have been a frequent presenter at alternative lifestyle events and psychotherapy conferences.
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