When we hit a particularly bad streak in romance, sometimes dating can feel like jumping from one morally compromised guy to the next. “If only I could meet a good guy,” we lament to ourselves. Ehhh . . . not so fast. I hate to be a downer, but the "good guy" isn't the magic bad-boyfriend remedy you might think he is.
While I too used to fall for this "good guy" cure-all, the description of, “He’s such a good guy!” which often precludes, “Let’s set you up with him,” now makes me cringe. No, not because I am attracted to the dangerous allure of “bad boys” (OK, well, sometimes). The problem with this thinking is that many people categorically assume that if he’s a “good guy,” he’s the right guy.
They believe that if he means well and seems to generally have his ducks in a row, that’s all that matters. The "good guy" trap fools us into thinking we won't have to look critically at his shortcomings, our compatibility, and even his emotional availability. Furthermore, it assumes that “good guys” will make good boyfriends. And that's not always the case.
“Guys are usually not angels or jerks,” shares Anita Chlipala, MA, M.Ed., LMFT, founder of Relationship Reality 312 in Chicago. “Too often, women can create their own problems, and they can prematurely set a guy on a pedestal if they see goodness in him.”
In other words, “good guy,” doesn’t actually mean “good fit.” In fact, labeling him as such can confuse how we think about him. It was only recently—when a friend asked me if I knew any good guys I could set her up with (and by my mistake, I did) that I realized how flawed this thinking was.
Sure, he was a “good guy,” but that certainly did not make him a good boyfriend. And it made me wonder how many heartbreaks were elongated with the weak and misleading defense of “. . . but he’s a good guy.”
By all means, if someone sets you up with someone whom they think is a nice guy, go for it. But do yourself a favor and keep an eye out for these three types of “good guys” that make bad boyfriends in the end.
01. The Good Guy Who’s Just Too Busy
Not gonna lie here: There’s something kind of enticing about that stuffed-schedule guy. Perhaps it’s our culture’s weird worship of busyness, or maybe he just seems superhuman because he can routinely function on only four hours of sleep. But beware. Just because he makes himself busy doesn’t mean that he actually has his priorities in order. A flourishing career and a fun social life or fascinating hobby is definitely a bonus in a man, but you have to ask yourself: At what point is it too much? Remember, as a potential girlfriend, it will take time to get to know him, and if he’s going to commit, he’ll need to start prioritizing you, too.
If he seems unwilling to restructure his schedule, chances are, he won’t make a good boyfriend—at least at this juncture in his life. And if meeting you doesn’t shift his prioritizes, it’s not your job to convince him otherwise.
02. The Good Guy You Can’t Connect With
Sure, he’s patient, kind, dependable, and reliable—but the conversation isn’t exactly lighting you on fire. While your rapport might be entertaining, it’s clear that sparks are definitely not flying. For example, if you find yourself wishing that the date would end so you could finish your book or most recent Netflix obsession, that’s a sign he is probably won’t make a good boyfriend for you—and that’s not either of your faults!
With the caveat that some people simply take their time to warm up to each other, if things are particularly flat, it could also be a sign that you’re trying to force things simply because you think he’s a good guy. After two or three dates, you should know if it's nerves or just how you two are. In this case, don’t make yourself—or him—feel guilty for simply not feeling it. In these situations, it’s best to thank him for his time, and end it before it gets even more awkward.
03. The Good Guy Who’s Incapable of Making Decisions
Life gets messy, and if you’re looking for someone to start sharing a good portion of your life with, you’re going to need someone who’s willing to jump in and make some decisions—even if those decisions aren’t perfect or lead to mistakes. If you feel like he’s just along for the ride, and you’re the one making all the calls and doing the heavy lifting—be it DTR-ing, deciding what to do tonight, or where to go next weekend—all of his good-guy goodness is going to get old really fast.
While his moral compass might be sound, if he’s not giving the relationship as much as effort as you are, this relationship path is headed toward disaster and some serious resentment.
While no “good guy,” is ever going to be perfect, you have to be realistic. “You can’t get everything you want, so pick your core negotiables,” Chlipala says. As the old adage goes, “Good is the enemy of great,” and it’s particularly applicable when it comes to relationships. So don’t fall into the “good guy” trap. If you find yourself defending him or his goodness, it could be a sign of the relationship’s lack of greatness.
Photo Credit: Fernando Farfán Photography