I Need My Daughter To Know That Nice Guys Aren't Necessarily Good Men

by Annie Reneau
Originally Published: 
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Dear Daughter,

You’ve reached the age where you’re starting to think about relationships with young men in your life. From here on out, you’ll spend years navigating the dating world. You’ll use time and energy figuring out what you want in a partner and how to find it. You’ll meet many, many men who will be attracted to your inner and outer beauty, and you’ll meet many men whom you’ll consider as potential future mates.

Since this is now where we are (how did we get here so fast?!), you need to understand that there’s a significant difference between a nice guy and a good man.

When I was in college, I had a friend who got seriously involved with a guy (let’s call him Kevin). Kevin was a gentle giant, with a physically imposing presence and sweet, charming demeanor. He bought my friend small, thoughtful gifts. They shared cute dates and inside jokes. He treated her like a queen, telling her she was everything he wanted in a woman.

He also had this habit of being a bit of a cheating douchebag. He’d lead her on, then let her fall. He’d say he was going to do XYZ, then do ABC instead. He’d go out and get hammered when they’d had a fight, and often end up making out — or more — with another girl. And the next day, he’d turn on the charm, apologize for whatever he did, promise that he was a changed man, and then the cycle would start all over again.

Kevin seemed like a “nice guy” to practically everyone who met him, but he was definitely not a good man.

So many women fall for “nice guys.” It’s easy to do. They’re adorable and easy to hang out with. They’re good conversationalists and make great first impressions. They brandish their boyish grins like concealed weapons. They know what to say to paint themselves as good men, even if they aren’t.

You will meet a lot of nice guys as you go through life, but it’s important to realize that not all of them will be genuinely good men. It can be tricky to sort between the two at first, so it’s wise to take the time to really get to know someone’s true character before diving in. And the more nice guys and good men you meet, the easier it will be to tell the difference.

A nice guy might know what to say to win you over, but a good man will prove to you that he’s worth going after.

A nice guy will make you laugh, but a good man won’t make you cry.

A nice guy will tell you you’re beautiful, but a good man will recognize, celebrate, and help you express your inner beauty.

A nice guy will hold the door for you, but a good man will hold your hair when you’re sick, your babies when they’re wailing, and your hand when you’re at the end of your rope.

A nice guy may offer you his jacket, but a good man will offer you his time, his energy, and his whole heart.

A nice guy will buy you flowers, but a good man will invest in your dreams.

A nice guy might walk you to your car, but a good man will walk by your side — through all the ups and downs — as you figure out how to build a life together.

A nice guy will tell you he loves you with words, but a good man will show you he loves you with his words and his deeds.

A nice guy will make you feel wanted today, but a good man will leave no doubt that you are wanted for life.

If my friend had married Kevin — and he did ask her — it would have been a huge mistake. When she asked my advice, I told her the truth: Nice guys are not always good men. You do not want to marry a nice guy unless you can say, without question or hesitation, that he is also a good man.

When you’re thinking about getting serious with someone whom you enjoy being around and who makes you feel good, make sure you keep the difference in mind. Has this guy shown you consistently that he is a responsible, truthful, kind, and caring a man of integrity? Or is he charming and fun and sweet, without proving by his actions to be much more than that?

It’s easy to fall for nice guys. Too easy, really. I’ve fallen for them before — I’m not sure if I know any women who haven’t. But when the time comes to start looking for a partner, pass on the nice guys and look for a good man.

There are plenty of them out there, I promise.



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