Sex and the Single Mom: Why Nice Guys (and Girls) Finish Last


nice guysMy most recent first date was with an absolute Mr. Nice Guy. We went to a diner which, by the way, is my favorite place to go on a first date. If I show up and he’s awful, I can just order coffee, and I’ve lost nothing except 30 minutes and a coat of lipstick. If he seems OK, but the conversation is lagging, I’ll order an appetizer and see where it goes. If things are going splendidly, then there is dinner, drinks, and a cozy booth where you can talk late into the night. But that’s beside the point. This guy made it to dinner but no drinks. Why? Because he was too much of a nice guy.

He showed up on time and texted as soon as he got there. Mind you, my last few dates were late (one 20 minutes late). That guy certainly didn’t feel it necessary to text me to let me know, so this was – to say the least – new.

I pulled up a bit nervous, and there he was greeting me with a smile. He opened the door when we went inside the diner, picked out the table, and was perfectly polite to our waiter. In fact, he was perfectly polite about everything, but something just didn’t feel “right.” I chalked it up to being nervous. That night we texted. I asked for a second date, wanting to see what it would be like when we both weren’t so nervous.

As we continued to get to know each other over the next week, the nerves calmed, and he only got nicer. I found out that he went to all his nephew’s basketball tournaments, helped his dad keep the books for his small business, and was divorced in the most amicable of ways.

On our second date, he surprised me with a small but thoughtful gift. On our third date, I was feeling sick after some bad Mexican food I’d eaten just before he picked me up. He didn’t hesitate when I asked if we could turn around, even though we were halfway to the movie theater, and he’d already bought tickets. On the couch that night, I held my stomach in the fetal position. I kept repeating over and over in my head, “He can’t be this nice.”

So, like every modern woman, I reached out to friends via group text to see what they thought. I explained all his nice guy behavior and asked for their help in figuring him out. “I keep waiting for the shoe to drop,” I explained to them. “There must be something wrong with this guy? He can’t be this nice, and this cute, and pay for dinner.”

We brainstormed what could possibly be wrong. Then I tried to wrestle with whether or not I could live with it. Maybe he needs his green card (been there before, wasn’t sure I wanted to go there again)? What if he has a micropenis (size isn’t everything)? Maybe he’s hiding a secret family in another country (depending on the country, and if we could vacation there, I might be ok with being a sister wife)?  The maybes became more outlandish. Yet they all seemed more plausible than him just being a nice guy.

“Kev, he sounds like the male version of you,” one particularly smart friend texted before bed that night. “You’re not hiding some deep dark secret or hidden agenda, are you?”

She was right. All the things that made him a nice guy were things I would have (and in some cases had) done. I got him a coffee mug from a college I’d visited before our first date. I texted as soon as I arrived (on time). I love my family and bent over backward for them, just like he did. If my date was sick, I would have certainly done whatever it took to make sure he was comfortable. So, I wondered how many men went home after our first second or third date and tried to figure out what was wrong with me?

No matter how much we try to fight it, in dating, it seems like kindness is often seen as weakness. There has to be a reason behind it instead of authentic goodness.

How many times have we questioned a dater’s motives? Told ourselves that he/she was just trying to get something (sex, a free meal, etc.) or cover-up for some defect they have? But, using myself as my example, that isn’t always the case. There are genuinely nice people in the world; I had been texting with a few of them that night. So maybe, just maybe, I was dating one. I pushed my phone and my cynicism to the side and went to bed, smiling at the thought of another date with  Mr. Nice Guy.