Heckles

Nice guys don’t finish last — boring ones do

It’s the kiss of death. A friend tells me about a guy she thinks I should date, I ask what he’s like, and she says, “He’s nice.”

I’m already trying to figure out how I’m going to get out of meeting this person. It’s really not fair because being nice isn’t a bad thing, but it’s often understood as synonymous with boring.

The hazard of being labeled a “nice guy” is real and most of my male friends would be offended if I described them that way to girls they wanted to date. All of this is ridiculous, since they are nice, and that’s part of what makes them great people to recommend.

But nice, by itself, is the most meaningless way you could choose to describe someone. Does he watch TV? Does he like pizza? Does he have a debilitating fear of Australia? All I know when a boy is recommended as nice is that he is basically inoffensive, but my friend can’t think of one interesting thing to say about him.

It’s insulting because this guy probably doesn’t want to be thought of as boring and surely has interests. I know I should probably give him a chance to prove that by going on a date with him, but the nice label has me already thinking of excuses for why I’ll be busy that night.

The truth is, I also don’t want to be thought of as the kind of person whose sole standard for dating is finding someone who’s a good human being.  Not because that isn’t a great thing to be, but because I can’t imagine trying to expand someone’s niceness into a conversation that can sustain a coffee or a dinner date.

Niceness itself isn’t a problem — a nice person is kind and pleasant — but dating and friendship require a little more. We all want to spend time with good people, but we also want to spend time with people who intrigue us and like doing the same things we do.

So, maybe I won’t write the guy off immediately. His kindness isn’t a bad thing, and if he turns out to be a dick, I definitely won’t want to date him. But if my friend wants to sell me on his personality, I think it’s worth taking the time to demonstrate that he actually has one.