“There was only one rule. Work hard and be nice, and everything would go just fine. That should be the rule for life, too… But, of course, that wasn’t how things went.”
― Author Lisa Unger
We all love nice people, at least I do.
But there is such a thing as being “too nice.”
We all know that person who bends over backward and does anything for other people but forgets to look after themselves.
There are many things that can go wrong when you’re too nice.
Here’s a list.
15 bad things that happen when you’re too nice
1) Your time gets wasted
Being too nice can lead to a lot of wasted time.
There’s all the polite greetings and making sure everyone is doing just perfect in every situation, but then there’s also all the added burdens everyone throws on you.
- Talking about their problems
- Bringing up work issues with you
- Expecting you to deal with family drama
- Asking you for help on topics you don’t even know about
- And so on…
Those extra times you agree to go pick up a friend’s kids or clean the house for your friend all add up.
And when you get to the end of the month or the year if you really add it all up you’ll see that it’s pretty one-sided.
You’ve been giving out a lot and not getting much coming in.
2) You get taken for a ride
When you’re too nice, you are much more vulnerable to being scammed and manipulated.
Even people who are generally honest or decent may sense an “easy mark” with you and take you for a ride.
Kindness and consideration of others combined with toughness and competence can be a winning combination.
But being overly agreeable, affectionate, and open (“too nice”) unfortunately gets viewed by some people as a way to get an edge.
You’re too nice? Cool, they just took your job, your wife, and your self-respect.
If someone is in your life who you respect but who’s begun treating you poorly? Cut them off.
Being nice isn’t exactly a bad character trait… but you also need to bring more to the table.
To help you find out your best character trait, I’ve created a fun quiz. Answer a few personal questions and I’ll reveal what your personality “superpower” is and how you can utilize it to get the most out of life.
Check out my revealing new quiz here.
3) Your limits get crossed…repeatedly
When you treat people with respect that’s a great thing, especially if it’s met with respect in return.
But being overly nice is something else entirely.
It often comes out of a place of low self-worth and feeling guilty for being inadequate or not doing “enough” to help and serve others.
This can go from being an enthusiasm for being there for others to an outright toxic obsession, including in romantic relationships.
One of the bad things that happen when you’re too nice is that you get stepped on and have your boundaries violated over and over.
Until you learn to put your foot down and just say no, you may feel like you’re some kind of homing beacon for negative energy.
But really it’s just that predators and unstable people see someone who will put up with their bullshit.
Don’t be that person. You’re worth much more.
4) Your needs go unmet
When you’re too nice you get left behind.
You may look back on months and years of always being there for friends, family, and your partner and see that you’re like an invisible silhouette.
If you’re truly honest with yourself you’ll have to admit that there are things you need including the basics like love, conversation, and fun.
People who are too nice need to learn the power of no writes Dr. Pat Aitcheson.
“Weak boundaries invite others to walk all over you. Everybody uses the doormat, but nobody really notices it.
Each time you put your needs second, or last, you add another small piece of resentment to the pile. It drags you down, lying heavy on your back where you probably don’t see it. Sometimes you almost say no, but you swallow it — and agree.”
5) Your own well-being plummets
The cost of always putting other people before yourself can be very high.
Your own well-being may plummet and reach new lows.
I know from years of being too nice that it made me feel all of this and more:
Even though I reached out to others all the time and cared about their lives, I was still on my own.
It took years to realize I was putting all my power outside of myself instead of focusing on what was in my control first.
When you’re too nice you get sad and mad.
This then makes your niceness come across even more fake and disingenuous.
6) You attract unwanted romantic attention
One of the most annoying and bad things that happen when you’re too nice is unwanted romantic attention.
You treat people kindly and in return, you get asked out, hit on, and catcalled.
I know this is more common for the fairer sex, but it happens to guys too.
Being nice gets misinterpreted as a romantic interest.
Then when you explain that you’re not actually “into” this person you may be met with bitterness and anger.
“But what about when you…”
Yes, you were just being nice…
The thing is, being “nice” won’t make you successful in love. Far more important is understanding what your partner really wants from a relationship.
7) People distrust you and think you have an ‘agenda’
Another of the bad things that happen when you’re too nice is that many people distrust you and think you have an agenda.
Even if you are being as genuine as possible and just trying to be a nice guy or girl, certain people will react negatively.
This includes in the dating world where being overly nice can often come across creepy.
Women wonder what a “too nice” man is hiding, and men wonder what drama could be under the surface of a “too nice” woman.
Their fears aren’t random, either:
Many of us have been burned in various ways by people who were very “nice” but ended up being a waking nightmare after you get to know them or get involved with them.
8) You agree to things you don’t actually want to do
People who are too nice constantly find themselves agreeing to do things they don’t actually want to do.
They may feel obligated to care for a sick friend, talk for hours on the phone with an annoying old acquaintance or take on added volunteer and work responsibilities that are too much for them.
The solution to this is to know your limit and stay within it.
All of us only have so many hours in the day, and being overly agreeable to take on tasks you don’t have time or energy for is a losing bet.
In fact, sometimes it’s not even that you don’t have time or energy, it’s that you just plain don’t want to.
Read psychology author Robert Taibbi on this:
“If you’re asked to be on a church committee, for example, and don’t want to, say no. Better yet, be proactive and let others know where you stand before they come to you.
If it’s too difficult to say no in person, call and leave a voicemail, or send a text. Just get it done.”
9) You live in an unrealistic dream world
Another of the bad things that happen when you’re too nice is that you end up living in a bubble.
“Toxic positivity” plays into this as well. That’s when you’re so positive that it leads to repression and actually becomes a way to push down the concerns and experiences of yourself and people around you.
Being too nice can just be a form of what Freud called denial.
You push down your own negative feelings, ignore those of others, and create a fantasy world where everything is hunky-dory all the time.
Being too nice in this way can honestly be really annoying.
Just because an ultra-nice person chooses to see the world with rose-colored glasses doesn’t mean they have the right to impose it on everyone else.
It’s great to see the beauty and wonder of life, but pretending nothing is ever upsetting or angering is…upsetting to the rest of us.
And if you want to live your best life, then you need to see reality for what it is.
10) You help people who misuse your help
Another of the bad things that happen when you’re too nice is that you can end up helping people who use your kindness for bad things.
Always seeing the best in people and treating them with respect may sound good on paper, but in the cold, harsh world it can pan out a little differently.
A classic example would be enabling someone into a spiral of self-pity where their depression and problems get worse because you’re so “nice” that you never call them out and don’t want to hurt them by telling the ugly truth.
Maybe you see how they’re doing it to themselves partly, for example, but are too nice to say this.
Another example would be tolerating or being nice to someone who brags about mistreating or harming other people.
Your niceness is enabling and allowing their bad behavior to go unchecked. It’s not nice to give a free pass to assholes, it’s weak.
11) It can lead to repressed frustration and resentment
When you’re too nice one of the bad things that happen is that you repress resentment.
This leads into a cycle of being even more outwardly nice while feeling even more inwardly not nice.
You blame yourself for feeling down about taking on the weight of the world and try even harder to win the approval and appreciation of those around you.
But instead, you just end up as an emotional wreck who feels unappreciated.
Extreme niceness isn’t nice, it’s codependent.
Counsellor Marcia Sirota has great insights on this:
“At the root of extreme niceness, however, are feelings of inadequacy and the need to get approval and validation from others. Overly-nice people try to please so that they can feel good about themselves…
Nice people stuff down their feelings and needs, not wanting to be a bother to anyone, but the problem with this is that what’s inside us can’t be kept down indefinitely.”
12) You get into the habit of saying sorry too much
Saying sorry too much is one of the bad things that happen when you’re too nice.
For one thing, it’s just plain annoying.
Secondly, saying sorry overly often reflects the mindset and emotional state of someone who feels low self-worth.
Every time that you’re saying sorry there’s a part of you on some deeper level that’s basically apologizing for your existence and the space you take up.
This isn’t modest or wise, it’s self-destructive, and it can often bring out the worst instincts in other people.
They see you basically apologizing for the space you take up and your own life and they instinctively devalue you on a subconscious level.
Don’t devalue yourself and apologize all the time. You belong here and you’re worthy of a good life.
13) You get slammed with extra duties and tasks
When you’re too nice, you get used as a doormat and slammed with everything that other people don’t want to do.
Every little thing that comes up somehow ends up on your plate.
You may wonder what you did to end up being the go-to-guy on every extra job or clean up that needs doing and the answer is simple:
You were there and had a smile on your face.
Other people were firm and said no.
As I wrote above, learning how to say no can be one of the most important things you ever learn in life.
14) You become a magnet for losers and whiners
The problem with being too nice is that it often makes you a target of people who have issues and want somewhere to air them out.
Listening to friends or family and their problems can be a kind and thoughtful thing to do.
But there’s a fine line between being a good listener and becoming a doormat for other people’s issues.
When I say losers, I do not mean that anyone having problems in life is a loser. Far from it.
Being a loser means wanting to make excuses and garner pity rather than find solutions.
And these types tend to flock to those who will put up with and enable their addiction.
Being too nice can often make you a punching bag for others who just want to vent instead of really come up with answers and action-oriented responses to their problems.
15) You get passed over for promotions
Another problem with being too nice is that you can lose out at work.
It’s wonderful to get along with colleagues and foster a positive work environment.
Where it becomes a problem is when you’re so nice that your superiors and coworkers don’t see you as “serious” and start treating you more like an office plant that occasionally needs watering with a bit of chitchat.
You become invisible and forgettable and often lose out on being considered for promotions.
As Helen Snape writes, being too nice can cost you a promotion.
“You don’t say what you would honestly like to say for fear of p***ing off the boss or a colleague. And other people, at least some of them, will have good bulls**t detectors.
So they will know you aren’t being straight with them and won’t trust you.”
What’s the difference between “too nice” and “just nice enough”?
There’s a saying that nice guys finish last, and I agree with it.
But it all depends on what you mean by “nice.”
I believe that kindness, considerateness and common sense are appreciated by almost everyone.
But niceness in the sense of a performatively happy exterior and constantly positive and agreeable persona can be downright aggressive.
Like Moreno Zugaro writes, there’s a big difference between being nice to get something or out of low self-confidence than being nice because you choose to be and expect nothing from it.
“My girlfriend constantly tells me she’s in love with me because of how nice I am, and she appreciates it big time. It turns her on — not only emotionally, but sexually as well. She jumps me almost every chance she gets. But this is because it is genuine niceness, not fake.
When I buy her ice cream or randomly text her, I don’t do it because I hope for some horizontal tango that night. I do it because it’s a genuine expression of my affection towards her.”
The same goes on the other side, too.
Guys want a woman who treats them well for who they are, not as a way to get things or win their favor. We all want to see the real person underneath, not the surface presentation.
Whether it’s career, relationships, friendships or just everyday interactions, the same rules hold true on niceness:
Being too nice is inauthentic.
Being too nice hurts yourself and other people.
Life’s too short for being too nice.