Nice guys finish last?

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December 17, 2013 by hollyhodgepodge

When I was in college, a friend of mine used the online handle “lastplace,” as in “nice guys finish last.”

When you think about it, it’s an idiotic saying. Try figuring out what a “nice guy” really is. The better question might be, what does “finishing” mean?

Keeping it in the realm of romance, it seems to mean that the nice guys are the last people to find someone who will love them. Someone to be his or her plus-one. Marriage, if it floats your boat. A home. Babies. White picket fences. Someone who will laugh at your bad jokes, rub your back after a crummy day and get up first to start the coffee because you’re useless in the morning without it.

“Nice guys do finish last,” one friend told me, “but women who pass them up to become victims to ‘bad boys’ will later become victims to their own regret as well.”

Well, this particular “nice guy” is happily married with a good job and an adorable baby boy. And he’s 30. So that sort of contradicts his “finishing last” theory. I think single nice guys just score less. And sex is great and all, but if racking up your Big Number is finishing, or winning, you’re not as nice as you think you are.

But I think there’s a misconception that “nice” indicates a man who has no backbone, or is a … well, let’s just say a pushover.

“If ‘nice’ entails being a doormat, not having your own opinion and unwittingly forcing the woman into making all the important decisions,” said another gentleman, “then those are surely unattractive qualities, so I kind of understand the usual complaint about this.”

And, yeah, so do I, but “nice” — as in considerate, thoughtful, is looking for a relationship of equals and not just an opportunity to show off — is not mutually exclusive to “strong” or “assertive” or “manly.”

A dear friend of mine recently wrote of a male friend who never became more: “He was smart, funny, sweet, held my hand on a long walk last year but never went for it. He later said he was too shy and hates making the first move. Well, that’s too nice in my book.”

But who knows, maybe if he’d made the move, gone for it, taken her, maybe it would have been too aggressive, not keeping a respectful distance. Sometimes there’s a really fine line between being “too nice” and being a jerk, and all I know is that it makes me really relieved I’m not trying to win a woman’s affections. We’re a lot of trouble.

Personally, I love nice guys. I want good things for you fellas, and I think you deserve to find happiness more than those other jerks. Sure, they might collect more of those bar bunny bedpost notches, but that’s not really happiness, that’s … well, you know what that is. It’s all very tortoise and hare.

“When the nice guy gets the girl (and it does happen), then he gets a relationship based on mutual respect and friendship AS WELL as the fun sexy parts,” said Meg, who has been married 5 years. “I’ll stick with my nice guy, who is not only my lover but also my best friend. I know he would tell you that he didn’t “finish last.”

Oh, and Mr. Lastplace is happily in love and headed to the altar. Keep hope alive.


Originally published Sept. 24, 2010 in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

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