The “Nice Guy” Trope

Everyone has heard about the so called “nice guy”. He’s the shunned friend, turned aside because he’s just too nice. In reality, the nice guy isn’t a nice guy at all. He’s a guy who feels entitled, who handles rejection badly, and who thinks whomever rejected him owes him something. Often in books and films we’re led to believe we should feel bad for the nice guy, and a good deal of the time the nice guy comes out on top, earning the affection of the man or woman in question. This is something that needs to end.

People don’t like the nice guy, because he’s not a nice guy. The nice guy is the guy who ruins a perfectly good friendship by telling you his feelings (which is a completely fine thing to do if the circumstances are alright) and proceeding to harp on your lack of return feelings. He does this till the friendship disintegrates into a massive pile of awkward. He leaves the other party often feeling a mix of guilt, anger, and irritation. He ruins a friendship simply because he feels he’s put in his time as friend and thinks you should like him back. This is an entitled and ridiculous view.

It’s aggravating and sends the wrong message to have the nice guy get what he wants. If he were a genuinely nice guy, as in he didn’t harass the other party with his feelings and he respected their views, then it wouldn’t be a big deal. But he’s not. In stories we don’t want to see the nice guy succeed, because he doesn’t deserve to. We want to see the guy who treats his partner with respect, and who doesn’t nag them into having return feelings, succeed in wooing his partner. We want the partner to be treated as a person, not as a trophy. You don’t earn their romantic love by putting in time as their friend first. Sorry, that’s not how the world works.

Books and films have a massive effect on a person’s perception of the world. By providing examples of the nice guy “winning”, the view that this is an acceptable way to behave is enforced. This isn’t something to be encouraged. By all means, use the nice guy trope in your work, there will always be “nice guys” out there. But don’t let them get the man/woman. Show what a nice guy really is. Show how awful he makes his friend feel. Show how it ruins a friendship. Then let that friend find love with someone who actually cares about what they want.

It’s time a stand was taken and that the meaning of the word NO was made clear. People need to learn this isn’t a word to argue with, or to try and wear down into a yes. Tropes that perpetuate that need to stop working. No one is entitled to another person’s feelings. Don’t let them think they are. Write characters who fall in love with people who genuinely respect them.


One thought on “The “Nice Guy” Trope

  1. I totally agree with this. I’ve been in situations where a guy was at first “nice,” and then became obsessive or angry because I wanted to only be friends. On the other hand, there was a guy who handled it the right way and took some time away to figure out his feelings, and now we’re good friends. I think it’s all about the way a person handles the situation. He or she can either be mature or immature. It seems like in movies, books, and television shows, we more often see the immature reactions, unfortunately. Society in general needs to accept that when a woman says “no,” she means it.


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