Several years ago, I went on a date with a guy who I knew through a group of friends from college. He’d always been one of the nicest people I’d known. And as much as I’d like to say I was attracted to him because of his kindness, his height, and cute smile are what got me.
But after our first date, he left for a six-week work trip to India. I wouldn’t fault you for assuming that our connection fizzled out, that we texted every now and then, or when he got “signal.” Or that work consumed his life, and he was just too “busy” for a relationship.
But you’d be wrong.
Instead, we texted each other every day. We didn’t miss a single one. We got to know one another, from our biggest dreams in life to our favorite foods to that time when I accidentally became friends with a gangster in China (long story).
Our connection stayed strong, even with 8,711 miles between us.
That was over three years ago, and since then, he became my boyfriend and now, my fiance. Most importantly, we’re really freakin’ happy.
I had my reservations, though. He was your typical “nice guy.” I’d heard every cliché about the stereotype, from being a pushover to lacking passion.
And to be frank, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to date a nice guy. I’d been so used to dating assholes that my current boyfriend’s consistent texts felt awkward and a little scary. But I stayed in the relationship, and I’m beyond glad I did.
From choosing to date a nice guy — which went against my entire dating history — I learned a few lessons about life, myself, love, and what a real “nice guy” is like.
Being respected feels pretty damn refreshing. Not once has my boyfriend raised his voice at me. Not once has he called me a jerk or stupid or a bitch (which I can’t believe I ever put up with). I didn’t realize it before, but respect is now a non-negotiable in my life.
On that note, I need to work more on being respectful. I’ll be the first to admit that I picked up some nasty relationship habits over the years. My worst one? That I’m the one who will call my boyfriend a jerk during arguments. It’s not nice. And when he doesn’t retaliate by calling me names back, I realize how I need to change the way I argue because it’s not fair to him.
If I’m not careful, I’ll take his kindness for granted. Sure, he’ll get me a cup of water whenever I ask, but there’s nothing wrong with my legs. I can get up and pour myself a cup of water. My laziness isn’t a reason to take advantage of my boyfriend’s generosity.
When my body changes, my boyfriend’s love doesn’t. I don’t weigh myself, but I imagine my body has morphed from the months of spending nights at home, watching Avatar and Schitt’s Creek. And though men in the past have criticized my body and made me feel less worthy of love, my boyfriend never has.
It’s OK to do our own things. As a result of my boyfriend’s revival love story with gaming on his computer, I’ve also had a spark rekindled with my old hobbies. I’ve drawn and painted more this year than I have in the past five. And while I love spending a night cuddling with him on our couch, I also relish alone time doing what makes us happy.
My love isn’t too much; I just gave it to the wrong people. Who would’ve thought! All those times when my partners said I was “too emotional” were just their inability to talk about and experience emotions. Having my emotions respected, validated, and given space has been an eye-opener for the crap I put up with in the past.
I thought I was myself with my past boyfriends, but boy was I wrong. I was merely a tamed version of myself with my past boyfriends. I mean, my current beau and I talk like babies half of the time we’re together. We wrestle and make poop jokes, and I sing silly songs well into the night. And neither of us ever tries to stop the other from being our weirdest selves.
Arguments don’t mean his love for me changes. My anxiety used to make me assume the world was freakin ending whenever the slightest bit of chaos ensued. An argument with my boyfriend would send my mind spinning. But, from the beginning of our relationship, he told me, “An argument isn’t going to change how much I love you.”
Sometimes, we really do need our opposite. Going back to my lovely anxiety, I’ll be the first to imagine the worst-case scenario whenever I read stories of people dying on the internet. I’ll feel sick to my stomach, imagining something happening to my boyfriend. But his positivity helps calm my worries. He’ll be the voice of reason while I’m the voice of doom.
I had absolutely no idea what would make me happy in love. That blonde-haired, outdoorsy surfer I wanted to date? Yeah, no. Been there, dated that. He didn’t make me happy. And trying to stick to a “type” while dating never did me any good. My boyfriend now is nothing like the person I thought would make me happy, and I’m glad I opened my mind to the possibility of love looking different.
A “nice guy” isn’t a pushover or boring. Seriously, why is this stereotype a thing? A truly nice guy (not a jerk whining about how he is one and women never give him a chance) is an emotionally safe space. He’s fun without having to hurt people along the way. He’s able to set boundaries without being an asshat. He’s simply a nice f*cking human being.
Playing games really sucks. Wonder if you’re interested in me? Worry about when, if ever, you’ll text back? Be mean to me, so I try to gain your validation harder? Pshhh. Please move on. You know what’s sexy? A man who knows what he wants. A guy who makes plans for when they’ll see you next before your current date is even over. Regular communication. All of that is sexy.
You have a ton of energy for other parts of your life. Instead of feeling drained over a fight where your boyfriend called you “crazy” and ignored you for hours, you can use that energy for other parts of your life! Maybe you’ll bake something. Perhaps you’ll take up a new hobby. Or maybe you’ll run for mayor because the newfound energy you’ll have from a relationship where your partner respects you will feel like you can conquer the world.
Walking on eggshells is a thing of the past. I don’t have to worry about my boyfriend blowing up on me because I forgot to empty the dishwasher. I don’t need to worry that an argument means he’ll threaten to leave me. I can relax in our relationship. I can experience peace and calm with another person that I’ve always wanted.
Their success doesn’t feel threatening. I used to worry that my boyfriends’ success would make them think they’re better than me, most likely because I had boyfriends who said that exact thing. But in my current relationship, I’m proud of my boyfriend’s achievements. His happiness makes me happy. And vice versa.
We all deserve a nice guy. Not a single person deserves someone who mistreats them. When you choose to give your affection to someone, it should be met with kindness and genuine care for your emotional well-being. My younger self couldn’t see it then, but I always deserved the kind of nice guy I’m with today.
Let me be clear: not every nice guy will make for a great partner. You still need chemistry, the right timing, and sexual attraction. But think of the above as guides to experiencing a new kind of love—a sort of standard.
Because nice guys get a bad rep when, in reality, everyone should be dating someone who is a good person. The fact we run away from these kinds of people says a lot more about us than it does about them.
So now that you’ve learned these lessons, it’s time to go out into the world and hopefully find your own nice guy.
If you struggle with feeling insecure and overthinking when you date, check out my free dating anxiety journal prompts.
If you want to move towards feeling confident and secure when looking for love, grab your copy of my 30-day dating guide, "From Anxious to Secure."