Susan (name changed) matched with Tim (name changed) on a dating app. He asked her to meet him in a restaurant. Due to time issues, she refused. He seemed okay about it. He messaged her a few days later. After exchanging formalities, he started cussing for not saying anything and accused her of leading nice guys like him on.
Tina (name changed) was horrified when her close male friend, Raj, told her that her boyfriend was cheating on her. She wanted to confront him, but Raj stopped her and suggested breaking up with him. All this while trying to get close to her. When Tina did confront her boyfriend, he denied it. She realised the story behind Raj’s lies.
People, mostly women, have come across these so-called nice people as friends/ acquaintances or on dating sites. Often, the over-helpful and really nice people, who gain others’ trust easily, hide their intention. Sometimes when one becomes emotionally dependent on them, do they show their true colours.
Polite to a fault
A nice guy will be excessively well-mannered and polite, says Deesha Sangani, author of The Diary of My Love. “He is someone who believes that he is inherently a good guy. Everyone must like and appreciate him. He goes on to poke, prod and try to know more about you in the politest of manner but ends up crossing the line and irritating you,” says Sangani.
Tanushri Baikar Talekar, clinical psychologist, Masina Hospital, Mumbai, dissects such behaviour. She says it is a phase when a guy who is interested in a girl whom he is friends with and does all the good things for her without being asked. “The intentions are purely motivated by a desire to be in a relationship/ sexual relationship. So perhaps it comes from what has been taught to all of us that can lead to such concepts. If you do something good for someone, you are bound to be rewarded. But doing something good out of their heart with no intention of returning and doing something to get a return at the end are two completely different concepts,” says Talekar.
These individuals view relationships from the viewpoint of ROI (return on investment). They also know their own shortcomings. Shivani Sanghavi, founder, Baat Pakki, marriage bureau, says such people have low self-worth and compensate that by being ‘nice’. “However, this is done with a covert intention of being rewarded with love, affection or sex after careful investment of generous niceness,” she says.
PR professional Gehna Sharma has had a few such run-ins. “I thought they were concerned about me at first. But they were total control freaks who wanted to have complete control over my life.”
Compensation for kindness
Zahir Chauhan, author of The Girl I Met Last Night, says emotion and people play an important role. “Sadly, in most cases, people are going through loneliness and so get easily attracted to nice guys or girls. It is an emotional need. The so-called nice people are well aware of the situation and hence in their terminology, It’s the low hanging fruits. The impact is something which can take someone’s life on a different level.”
Awareness is the keyword here which results in this behaviour getting called out. Sanghavi says, “With dating options becoming more acceptable, one ends up meeting people in more ways than one. In search of a partner, there is a give and take of personal information and when a ‘nice’ guy and girl see the vulnerability, they operate through an invisible contract where they are nice but expect to be ‘compensated’ for kindness. They are a menace because while the person at the receiving end has no clue of the real intent or the invisible contract, the lashing out when not being reciprocated can scar the other person.”
Such individuals have the knack of appearing when least expected and in unusual places. “There has been a growing trend in people presenting a different persona, a nice persona, in public while hiding their true self. This persona fades soon enough once you get to know them. However, it might be a bit late by then. You might be stuck with someone who you do not like anymore,” says Sangani.
Brand consultant Ankita Sule feels good meeting such people but regrets it later. “You start trusting them. But with time, you slowly realise they just act nice because they don’t want anyone to think bad about them. This results in fake compliments, commitment and promises that are white lies. The person always seemed to support me, compliment me and was happy with my achievements. It was followed by a simultaneous track of fat and colour shaming and character assassination behind my back.”
Maintain boundaries Chauhan suggests a mantra to deal with ‘nice’ people – maintain boundaries. “Healthy boundaries help sustain relationships for a longer time without causing harm to the other.” Sharma advises to tell them upfront your likes and dislikes.
“Otherwise, they may become accustomed to being in control and begin creating a toxic environment.” Recognise the fact that the person has a problem, advises Sanghavi. “The roles could reverse and you could end up being the nice guy/ girl. Monitor your own emotions. Be in control of how much time, energy and emotions you can invest in helping this person and it will be fair to point it out and step back at the right time.”
Sule says she keeps a distance when she sees goody-two-shoes behaviour. “If you confront such people, they start blaming you and the people around you. Occasional apologies and gifts are thrown. They are ready to be in our good books once again.”
Detecting them early can work hugely, Sangani suggests. “Test them a bit before you allow them into your inner circle. Once you have identified them, politely but firmly show your disinterest in being in their circle. If this does not work, block, ghost and run.”
According to Talekar, they should realise that being nice is not the right way of wanting to be in a relationship. “One should focus on what is wrong, even if it seems impossible. If you are not comfortable with it, it is better to be upfront about it. Temporary heartbreak is better than a life filled with unhappiness and compromises.” Self-confidence plays a vital role in one's well-being. Talekar says, “If you change your personality to be in a relationship, it will not last.”
Is it you?
If you are one of those nice persons yourself, it is time to straighten things out. Sanghavi says, “Sharing stories and introspecting can make you self-aware. If you feel that you are caught in this loop, start making conscious changes. Monitoring your emotions, being assertive, validating yourself and working on your self-esteem and choosing real friends are steps in the right direction.”
At times, just speaking out before it’s too late can do the needful. “Don’t try and be a hero because it can backfire in the long run,” says Chauhan.
But it doesn’t mean that every person you come across has a hidden motive. Each individual is different and so is his/her experience. It doesn’t mean that if you come across a genuinely nice person, he/she has an underlying agenda. It’s about being mindful of our own decisions and actions.
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