How Being Too Nice Got Me Screwed Over

I’m a nice person, I can’t help it, but that doesn’t mean I’m a pushover — at least not anymore. There’s a fine line between being a nice GF and becoming soooo nice that guys take advantage of it. I’ve had that happen one too many times, but here’s how I found a balance:

  1. I stopped giving when it wasn’t matched. After dealing with lots of a-holes, I realized I was always the one giving way too much of myself and they weren’t giving back even half of all the love and support. I set a rule for myself: I’d only give what I got. This was also a good way to see if guys were meeting me halfway so if they weren’t, I’d stop wasting all my goodness on them.
  2. I realized that nice doesn’t mean being a doormat. I’m a sweet person who will try her hardest to make people happy and help them out during a tough time, but that doesn’t mean I can be walked all over. If someone doesn’t appreciate my help or keeps sucking my resources dry, whether my energy or material things like money, I’m out of there. I won’t be treated like that because even nice has its limits.
  3. Niceness is like trust — it has to be earned. I used to think that trust was earned but that I could just throw on the niceness from day one. This was a bad idea because it made me an easy target for opportunists and manipulators. I realized that trust and niceness should have the same rule: they should both be earned. If someone’s not nice to me, like hell are they going to get my niceness.
  4. I stopped taking on people’s problems. Being a nice GF in the past made me a fixer. Yup, I was the woman who would try her best to help men going through tough times to the point where I took on their problems as if they were mine. I’d get dragged into hell and often my efforts weren’t even appreciated – or they were taken out on me. I learnt I needed to protect myself. I had to have boundaries or else I would emotionally deplete myself. I still had a life to lead and I wasn’t doing myself any favors by pushing it aside.
  5. I only try if there’s a mutual effort. Being nice had the side-effect of making me try really hard to make relationships work. I’d be the one putting in lots of effort, even when my exes didn’t really deserve it. Friends would say how nice I was, what a stand-up girlfriend. Whatever. I was just putting all my effort into situations that were too small for me. I was the only one doing all the work, so my niceness screwed me over. I learned that I had to put in work, obvs, but only if my partner was also fighting for us, otherwise there was no point.
  6. I wanted approval. Being too nice for my own good was really my lack of confidence showing up. I thought if I could be the Nice Girl, that at least I had something to offer. But I really had so many other great qualities to give and I was just limiting myself to this one role. I didn’t have to try so hard to get approval either because people who really liked me would like all of me, not just the fact that I was nice to them.
  7. I’m nicer to myself. As important as it is to be nice to others, it’s equally (if not more) important to be nice to myself. This prevents me from settling, reminds me of my worth, and keeps my dating standards up where they belong.
  8. I stopped smiling and settling. The problem with me was that I grew up being told to be nice all the time. I learnt from a really young age that I had to slap a smile on my face even if I wasn’t really happy, whether it was to keep the peace or not be disliked. I continued that into adulthood without realizing I was doing it. I would smile and compromise or try to see the best in a really crappy situation even though I wasn’t happy. This was all just a way of falling into settling for an unsatisfying relationship when I should have GTFO. Forget being nice — I’d rather be real.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.