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being too nice in dating
Dating | Understanding Your Type
Why being “too nice” is unattractive in dating

In dating, is it possible to be too nice? The answer is Yes! A male client was discussing a woman he had been out with on two dates. While he thought she was lovely, he was uncertain about his feelings for her. He and this woman shared a common love for dogs and on their first date he mentioned that he had gotten a new puppy. On the second date, she showed up with a bottle of champagne, a dog toy, and a card congratulating him.

While he appreciated the gesture and told her so, her gift made him feel uncomfortable. When I pushed him to understand why he couldn’t put his finger on it, but it felt like pressure. His date also mentioned that she loved pet sitting and would like to meet his dog in person. By the end of the date, he felt that she was over-committed to the outcome and worried she could be easily hurt. He was a confident man and wasn’t shy about letting women know he was interested. He ended up telling her by text that he didn’t see a future with her and wished her luck with her search.

So when can a good thing be too much? I teach my clients a big lesson in dating that I call matching pace. How do you rate your friendships on a scale of 1-10? An acquaintance might score a 3 while your best friend is a 9. If a friend is treating you like a 4, would it be appropriate to treat her as if she were a 10? You make bold gestures for your closest friends, not someone you scarcely know.

Think of dating the same way. Suppose a guy is showing you a minimal amount of interest. If he calls you at the last-minute for a date and asks, “Where do you want to go?” or better yet, “Do you want to hang out?” recognize that he is neither putting in much effort nor has strong intentions. Responding to him with greater intensity will likely chase him away.

Have you gotten feedback to ensure that your date feels as strongly about you as you feel about them? Slow down and try to read the level of interest correctly. While it may be in your nature to be thoughtful, your date doesn’t know that you give cards to everyone.

I recall being on the opposite side of a man being too nice. On our second date, he picked me up with a bottle of wine, flowers, and a CD he made for me. While I was flattered, he also told me that he had requested a copy of my dissertation through my graduate school and read it. All 100 pages! My own friends and family had never read my dissertation. Instead of being impressed, I felt uncomfortable that I could not match his grand gestures. It felt like he was trying too hard. Unfortunately being too nice can backfire for men as well as women.

SECURE note:  In dating, save your nice behaviors for when it is appropriate. If partners are equally matched there will be lots of time for thoughtful gestures. If there is a possibility your gesture could backfire, don’t do it!
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9 comments to " Why being “too nice” is unattractive in dating "

  • Clive

    Dr Diane,
    You are spot on with this one. I remember one woman that I met on match. We had a nice first coffee date and it turned out we both had an interest in hiking. So we arranged for a follow up hike the next week. When I met her for the hike she brought me a Yosemite t-shirt. This was all very nice but it made me feel really uncomfortable because it was just too much too soon. I didn’t ask her out again.

    Clive

  • Diane Strachowski

    Clive,
    Thanks for the comment. I hope things worked out best for you with the next one.
    Dr. Diane

  • Julie

    I don’t want to hold myself back. If a man is freaked out by a simple gesture than he’s not right for me. I like giving and receiving. I think because I’m a giver I really appreciate when a man puts effort in. I don’t think you should tell men or women not to give.
    Julie

  • Diane Strachowski

    Julie,
    Please don’t misunderstand me it’s not about whether or not to give, it’s about timing. If you are a giver look for men who are givers as well. Watch out for the men who are takers. You set the tone in your relationship and teach men how to treat you.
    Best to you ,
    Dr. Diane

  • I love the comment about pacing yourself….. My sister always said that it is a “Marathon not a sprint”…. In addition, being from a different Culture (Not born in the US but been here long enough to understand and appreciate the American Culture)and the fact that as a Kid growing up in a family that moved every year (My Dad was in the Air Force and was never at a Air Force Base longer than a year) I do notice a very similar trait between the too — The need to get close to someone new ASAP and not step back and let things happen at their own pace/naturally. That said once folks get close it is hard to “slow” down the relationship and what normally happens is that folks go different ways vs. just taking it easy and let the relationship happen/develop at its own pace!!

    • Diane Strachowski

      Navy,
      Agreed, I think there is a lot of pressure in the US in particular to “date” versus getting to know someone in a more organic way. You are also correct once it’s going down the track too fast, it’s tough to put on the brakes, relationships often end up derailing.
      Life definitely is a marathon not a race.
      Best,
      Dr. Diane

  • This is so true, it’s what I teach my clients (after I solve their sex problems) and is one of the most basic rules for how attraction works. When we give too much of ourselves too soon, we deny the other person the exhilarating adventure of unravelling our mysteries.

  • Cheryl

    When gifts and too much attention are given before feelings have a chance to develop, then the gifts and attention don’t hold value because you don’t care about the other person yet. I think it is best to wait until mutual affection is established, that way gifts and attention have greater meaning!

  • Cheryl,
    Well said, thanks for your comment,
    Dr. Diane

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