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7 Symptoms of “Nice Guy” Syndrome

Upon re-reading Pride and Prejudice, it becomes pretty clear that the late great feminist/goddess Jane Austen was definitely onto something. Referring to her suitors Darcy and Wickham, she remarked, “There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.”

What Jane so eloquently describes is what we today would call Nice Guy Syndrome. According to Geekfeminism, Nice Guy™ or Nice Guy Syndrome are terms used to describe “men who view themselves as prototypical ‘nice guys,’ but whose ‘nice deeds’ are in reality only motivated by attempts to passively please women into a relationship and/or sex.”

Being in college, with dating/hookup culture in our faces and the growing popularity of apps like Tinder, it’s almost inevitable to come across a Nice Guy. Lots of Nice Guys have mastered the art of appearances, so sometimes it can be hard to recognize the difference between liking the idea of a guy and actually liking a guy. While authentic nice guys do exist, look out for the following red flags:

1. They use children or puppies to show off how sensitive and gentle they are. Remember that episode of Friends where Joey and Chandler used Ross’ baby to get dates? It’s a popular TV trope, but guys actually do that to attract women. Since all girls apparently love babies, puppies, and guys who present themselves as husband material, there’s no better way to make a great first impression than by parading around a baby or puppy.


2. They do not conform to societal norms of traditional masculinity. Because they cannot use their appearance to attract a partner, they overcompensate by using their “niceness” which is normally exaggerated to the point of inauthenticity.


3. They have a diverse group of friends, specifically the token Asian/black/girl/gay friend. Nice Guys want you to know they’re cultured. Their diverse friend group reflects their fierce dedication to political correctness.


4. They’re typically momma’s boys who make sure everyone knows that they love their family. Basically they project “I’m good to my mother, so I’ll be good to you.”


5. They make their quirkiness obvious. If they tell you, “I’m not like other guys,” chances are they actually are. Nice Guys try really hard to be quirky, but you either have quirkiness or you don’t, and truly quirky people aren’t self-aware. Wow you know how to cook eggs benedict and you only drink cold brew coffee in your mason jar! So quirky!


6. They write poetry because they’re so in touch with their feelings or are artistic to the point of pretentiousness. Here’s a poem written by an anonymous Nice Guy my friend knows (She found this on his blog):

Rainy Day

Drip drop

Pitter patter

The rain is falling


7. They constantly apologize. Saying sorry millions of times over something not worth apologizing for is like The Boy Who Cried Wolf–too many times and it starts to seem superficial. A guy can prove that he cares about a girl’s feelings in many other ways besides asking for forgiveness over the littlest things.

It may seem like almost every guy you meet in college is a Nice Guy, but pretty soon you’ll find your Mr. Darcy, like Lizzie did in Pride and Prejudice. So steer clear of all the Wickhams and the Collinses out there, and call out fakeness when you see it.

If you would like to write for Her Campus Mount Holyoke, or if you have any questions or comments for us, please email mt-holyoke@hercampus.com.


Kalea Martin

Mt Holyoke '19

Buongiorno! I'm Kalea. I love dogs, ice hockey, and breakfast. My skills include giving hugs and singing Les Mis in the shower.
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