This is my primary piece of advice. It’s one of the most important things I wish I could go back in time and tell to Younger Me. “Past Self: Only date people who are nice to you!” It would have saved me from so much grief.
Here are some reasons I have dated people who weren’t nice to me:
· Didn’t realize I had the option to reject him
· Thought I needed to have a boyfriend
· Wanted validation as attractive/desirable person
· Deluded myself about his intentions
· Thought I could change him
· Felt competitive toward all the Other Women
· Wanted revenge on different guy who was also not nice to me
· So critical I assumed he must be smarter than me
· Intense physical attraction
· Took me to cool places
· Fell for his BS
· Didn’t ask enough questions
· People with something to hide are good at hiding it
· Rationalized and made excuses for him because of his few good traits
· Thought tolerating mean behavior showed tolerance and acceptance on my part
· Didn’t really know what it was like to date a truly nice guy who was nice to me
One day, I was complaining to some friends about a cheating boyfriend. One of my girlfriends exclaimed, “It sounds like he’s just being mean to you!” It stopped me in my tracks. That was definitely a Road to Damascus moment. I loved him and we had a history; that was all we needed, right? It had honestly never occurred to me to evaluate a romantic partner based on his behavior.
“Nice guys” (or guys who think they are nice) are always complaining about girls who go for Bad Boys. The fact of the matter is that young women haven’t learned to distinguish between the two yet. We may also miss the signals and not realize that there is a “Nice Guy” waiting in the wings. (The other option is that the guy who prides himself on being a “Nice Guy”™ may really be passive-aggressive and unwilling to take No for an answer).
What’s mean? Dishonesty. Demeaning comments. Flaking out and being unreliable. Withholding vital information, affection, communication, or physical presence. Playing reindeer games. Ultimatums. Tantrums. Jealousy. Interfering with your friendships. Expecting you to be involved with his interests while refusing to participate in yours. Shutting down your interests. Pouting and sulking. Badgering you to do things that make you uncomfortable. Pressuring you to change your appearance. Double standards. Picking fights. Any kind of threats, intimidation, or anything that scares you or causes you physical discomfort.
A person who is nice to you: Treats you like a friend. Cares about you. Cares about your physical safety. Feels sick at the thought of ever hurting you or scaring you. Wants to spend time with you. Enjoys talking to you. Feels safe opening up to you. Shares feelings. Likes to make you smile and laugh. Wants to do things together. Likes you. Thinks you’re cool and interesting. Is proud to know you. Wants to introduce you to other important people in his/her life. Wants to impress you and be there for you.
Of course, the most important part of dating people who are nice to you is to be nice to other people! Treat others the way you want them to treat you. Try to get to know them and find out what’s important to them. Be a good listener. Be supportive and emotionally generous. If you have a kind heart and you protect it and keep it safe, eventually another kind heart will come along for you.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.