Somewhere up there with the dreaded “I need some space” lies “you’re too nice” — which is possibly one of the most annoying phrases ever uttered in the dating world. What does it mean? Is it some kind of code for “I’m dumping you?” The unfortunate thing is that one little phrase can have potentially dozens of different meanings — especially when it comes from a woman’s mouth. “We don’t reject guys because they are nice,” confides Claudia Maittlen-Harris, 33, the writer and comedian in Los Angeles who blogs at TheZerosBeforeTheOne.com. “Often, ‘nice’ is our code for needy, boring, insecure, socially awkward or bad in bed. We’re just too nice to say it.” If you’ve just been blown off by a woman into the friend zone with a Nice Bomb, read on for an explanation…
Meaning #1: “You’re too safe and predictable for me.” “When a woman tells someone, ‘you’re too nice,’ what she really means is that she wants a man who is a little more adventurous and risky,” explains Dr. Miro Gudelsky, a Manhattan-based sex therapist. “She is being polite. Instead of saying, ‘You have no sex appeal’ or ‘You will never get my juices flowing,’ she wiggles out of that uncomfortable space by presenting the other person in a ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ light. It’s a question of swagger.”
Meaning #2: “You’re kind of boring.” “‘You’re too nice’ could mean many things, but most commonly, it’s ‘you don’t stimulate me mentally enough,’ i.e., ‘you’re too boring,’” says Paula Hall, coauthor of Improving Your Relationship For Dummies. “It is definitely one of those expressions meant to imply you don’t have a long-term romantic future together.” So what should you do when you hear this line from a woman? “If you have been 100% yourself, don’t change,” advises Hall. “Don’t try and act tough and unreliable in an effort to seem less ‘nice,’ because it will almost certainly backfire — and it won’t ring true for either of you.”
Meaning #3: “I don’t deserve you.” Not everyone is used to kind behavior from the opposite sex; perhaps you’re freaking her out by being a gentleman on dates. “Because of her past experiences — family/boyfriends/etcetera — she could think that she doesn’t deserve to have someone be nice to her,” says Christine Baumgartner, a dating coach in Laguna Niguel, CA. Either she’ll get used to being treated with respect and kindness over time, or you’ll have to find someone to date who feels more comfortable with your chivalrous ways.
Meaning #4: “Your personality seems passive.” “When she says, ‘You’re too nice,’ it could mean: ‘I’m not sure that you have ambition. I’m not sure you have the ability to stand up for yourself,’” offers Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, a family therapist in Mount Kisco, NY and author of A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage. The woman who says this to a man might be worried that he won’t be an equal partner in a long-term relationship. “You’re encouraging me to keep on being a brat that walks all over you simply because I know that I can,” agrees Alisha Young, 26, an online content strategist in Sydney, Australia. “I don’t need that; I need a relationship based on respect and mutual accountability — and so do you.”
Meaning #5: “You can’t seem to make a decision on your own.” “In researching my book, I couldn’t even count the number of single women who told me how frustrated they are with nice guys who ask them out and then can’t even decide where to go for a cup of coffee,” relates Elliott Katz, author of Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants. “When they finally get to a place, he wants her to choose where they will sit. He’s being too nice! She wants a man who can make a decision and show his share of leadership skills.” Women tend to get frustrated with men who always wait for them to take the lead on dates. “Having to make all of the decisions all of the time is both tiring and annoying,” confirms Dawn Dolobowsky, 32, a graduate student in Seattle, WA. “Speak up! If I don’t agree with your opinions, it’s better for us to find out sooner rather than later, right?”
Meaning #6: “I’d rather not corrupt an innocent man.” “It’s my younger self’s cop-out way of saying, ‘I’m not sexually attracted to you because you’re not sophisticated enough for me,’” explains Amber W., a saleswoman in Arkansas. “Mainly, [it’s meant] for someone with limited life experience... because I’d rather not corrupt the innocent — at least, not that innocent.”
Meaning #7: “You’re giving me too much power right away.” “It means you don’t have an opinion [of your own] and let me choose everything,” says Katelyn Ludwig, 22, a public relations professional in Thousand Oaks, CA. “There’s no compromise, no differences; it means that you’re a pushover.” Ceding power too easily to your date is a major turn-off for most women. “When women say: ‘He’s too nice,’ they typically mean that a man has no boundaries; in other words, it means a woman feels like she has too much control in a way that makes her feel uncomfortable with that guy,” says Jordan Harbinger, a relationship expert in Los Angeles who runs TheArtofCharm.com. “It’s not that women don’t like nice men,” insists Clay Andrews, 29, a relationship blogger at LovingBoldly.com. “They just don’t want to feel like they have complete control over you. [You’ve got to be] comfortable asserting your boundaries and saying ‘no’ once in a while when she tests you.”
Meaning #8: “I’m not nearly as nice of a person as you seem to be.” Dating involves a series of judgments, and one of the things that a woman must determine about the new man in her life is their moral compatibility. If she says you’re too nice, she might just mean you’re not lining up with her own behaviors. She’s basically saying, “I fear you will prevent me from being myself, because I am less nice than I imagine you to be,” explains Patty Newbold, 59, a marriage educator in Doylestown, PA who blogs for AssumeLove.com.
Meaning #9: “I am a bit too immature to appreciate a guy like you.” “She means, ‘I haven’t grown up enough to know that nice guys make better boyfriends than bad boys do’ just yet,” says Natasha Burton, coauthor of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags. “As women mature, they realize that dating a guy who is nice — as in, he’s dependable and treats them with kindness — is actually something they should both want and deserve in a partner.”