Have you ever heard the saying “nice guys finish last?”
It’s a bit flippant, but there’s a lot of truth to it.
But why do nice guys and nice girls so often finish last?
I’d say one of the top reasons is that many people get a little uncomfortable around overly nice people.
I know I do.
And I want to explain why you should also be cautious about overly nice folks.
1) Overly nice people tend to be fake
There are times when being nice and compassionate to others is extremely important and valuable.
But there is such a thing as being too nice.
This happens when somebody basically represses their real self and tries to appeal to what they think they “should” be like in order to receive approval or love.
This is part of why overly nice people are often rejected or dismissed:
It’s because they’re too desperate for validation and affection, and they are often hiding their true feelings and frustrations under a nice mask.
Acting harmless or like you don’t sometimes have violent and angry impulses is, frankly, fake.
We all do. That’s why you should beware of anybody who claims to “never” get angry, or be against “all hate” and similar blanket, purist statements.
Sure, we don’t like hate, but you’re telling me you’ve never hated a person or group even temporarily? That you’ve never felt tempted to hit somebody out of anger?
Give me a break…
As Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson put it:
“A harmless man is not a good man.
A good man is a very, very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control.”
2) Ultra nice people often try to spare your feelings at the expense of truth
The next of the top reasons you should be wary of overly nice people is that they often won’t give it to you straight.
By trying to spare your feelings, the overly nice individual tends to prefer a beautiful lie to the ugly truth.
For example, say you ask your girlfriend if she’s still in love with you and she says “yes, I think so,” even though she knows for a fact that she’s not.
She’s so “nice” that she wants to spare your feelings and doesn’t want to break your heart.
But the price is that you’re now going to stay together longer while she’s unhappy and faking it and while you are getting more invested in a relationship that’s already flatlined.
Be very cautious about overly nice people who only tell you what you want to hear: it can do some serious damage.
3) Overly nice people are often scammers
Have you ever been subjected to a pushy salesperson who’s overly friendly and extremely nice?
It’s one of the most annoying things in the world.
Even if you’re rude or express a lack of interest they talk about you being attractive or interesting or compliment where you’re from or what you just said even if it was totally bland.
They are the flip side of toxic and negative people, instead engaging in toxic positivity and trying to drown out your resistance with compliments and niceness.
Of course, if this is just to sell it’s at least somewhat understandable.
But the next level of this is when niceness is used to scam.
Common examples include Romeo’s pimps who seduce and are very nice to young women in order to lure them into a life of being sex trafficked…
Or loan sharks who are all smiles about offering payday loans with exorbitant interest rates and how they are “helping,” but will not hesitate to set enforcers on you down the road if you don’t pay on time…
4) Niceness is often a mask for much darker things
Have you ever looked back at historical photos of the Third Reich and Nazi Germany?
You’ll notice quite a few photos of Adolph Hitler at rallies and waving from his car, but
You’ll also see him shaking hands and accepting flowers from a lot of small girls.
Or shaking the hand of a proud young Hitler Youth member and smiling broadly.
Many Germans at that time considered Hitler to be very nice and to have a selfless servant’s heart.
He was perceived as a kindly uncle figure who cared about kids and wanted to help the nation.
Just a few years later he’d be orchestrating the murder of masses of innocent Jews and minorities in death camps and sending German teenagers to die in the war.
But for a certain amount of time and despite his fiery speeches, Hitler was indeed seen as a very “nice” guy at heart.
Case-in-point: being a smiley, nice guy can unfortunately sometimes mask much darker impulses underneath.
Beware somebody who only ever smiles. It can be a mask for something much more sinister underneath.
5) Mega niceness is approval-seeking behavior
In life, it’s enough work worrying about our own decisions and behavior than to have to also keep track of somebody else’s.
The problem with many mega nice people is that consciously or unconsciously they are seeking approval.
This is often linked to a pattern of anxious attachment style developed in childhood when this individual was neglected or didn’t receive the attention and love they felt the need for.
The problem is that the ongoing search to fill the “hole” of the attention and validation they want can never be filled.
Which is why this approval-seeking behavior can be such a turn-off:
It feels like you’re just being used to try to fulfill a function, because in a way you are.
6) Overly nice people engage in and spread unhealthy behavior
Being too nice is bad for your health.
The reason why is because it represses emotions that need an outlet.
“Toxic positivity is unhealthy and forces you to silence negative emotions, dampen grief, stifle authentic emotions, and places you under pressure to pretend to be happy (even when you are struggling).”
Being extremely nice when you don’t want to be is disrespectful to yourself and your need to honestly feel, and sometimes express, difficult emotions.
It also tends to spread to others as well, which is something I’ve noticed, for example, in many anglophone cultures.
Being polite and “nice” is paramount, and it leads to feeling like you must always remain pleasant.
This, in turn, often leads to feeling like you are being fake and being exhausted and drained even more than usual at the end of the day from the strain of hiding your frustrations and emotions.
7) Overly nice people are easy to manipulate
Another reason to be wary of overly nice people is that they’re easy to manipulate.
The issue is that the person you’re dealing with is often a puppet for others.
You can’t be sure if it’s them talking or somebody else twisting and using them for their own designs.
The problem with over-niceness, at heart, is that it’s not sincere.
And with that lack of sincerity comes a host of other problems, including the fact that the individual may easily become a stalking horse for other people’s agendas.
8) Overly nice people suck up your energy like a vacuum
Overly nice people can be some of the most selfish folks you’ll ever meet.
What makes it even more exhausting, however, is that their egotism and selfishness are buried under all these layers of outer niceness.
But behind the smiles and understanding comments and agreeableness is a shark.
There’s a reason why some of the most insulting comments and interactions can happen with outwardly nice words and comments meant sarcastically.
It’s because it’s one of the most aggravating things in the world to be super nice to people when you don’t really mean it.
It’s also because this is so often meant as a transaction:
They will be nice to you in various ways, but in return you must do ABCD.
“They maintain a façade of selflessness and servitude, putting other people’s needs ahead of their own, and demand to be lavished with appreciation and praise for their behavior in return,” explains A Conscious Rethink.
9) The ultra nice tend to have a martyr complex
Another huge problem with ultra nice people that should cause you to beware is the martyr complex.
What this is is basically where they feel the need or compulsion to do everything for you if you’re their partner, friend or colleague…
…With a smile on their face and a big thumbs up.
But under the surface of this niceness and service to you is a person who’s dying inside.
And that resentment and anger is fuming away inside as they press it down and selflessly serve you, eventually bubbling up in a big explosion and leading to a breakdown of the relationship or interaction.
They were being nice because they felt they “had to,” not because they truly wanted to.
They martyred their well-being on your behalf without you even asking for it. Not cool at all.
10) Being overly nice is really, really confusing
Lastly and importantly, being overly nice is confusing.
How can you communicate clearly with somebody when you can’t tell what they’re really thinking or feeling?
If you’ve dealt with somebody like this then you know how awfully annoying it is as well.
They may say everything is good on the worst day of their life, or give a thumbs up about doing something they really don’t want to do.
When you aren’t sure how sincere somebody is being about their desires and intentions it makes interacting with them a confusing mess.
There’s basically no definite way to know where the extreme niceness ends and the real person begins.
And this makes every interaction, discussion and decision a huge headache of confusion and stress.
How nice is too nice?
This is a question worth asking, and the answer is that “too nice” depends on the context.
If you walk into a store, for example, it’s pleasant and agreeable to be treated with politeness and kindness.
But if it reaches the point where you’re being interrupted and chased by people praising you and telling you how great you are and how healthy you look, it becomes false and intrusive.
If you date somebody and they treat you with respect and consideration that’s very nice.
But if they tell you everything is fine all the time and never open up about struggling even on their worst days, you may feel a real lack of closeness that ends up sabotaging the relationship.
The truth is that “too nice” is anything that crosses the line into repressing or falsifying who you are and what you feel.
It’s not always a good time to admit to being angry, sad or confused and so on. But it’s also necessary to at least acknowledge difficult emotions and states of being instead of masking or repressing them.
The final verdict
Being kind and considerate of others is great, as long as it’s balanced with respect for yourself and standing up for what you want and need.
Many times, people who are overly nice have more below the surface, as I’ve written about here.
In some cases, they are hiding a darkness of their real and more difficult emotions.
In other cases, they are repressing feelings and states in a way that leads to poor physical and psychological health.
The overly nice person runs after approval and looks to be liked, often allowing themselves to be the tool of somebody else’s agenda.
Alternately, they may use their niceness as a way to try to scam you or get you to buy into doing what’s in their own self-interest.
These are all reasons to be cautious around overly nice people.
They’re usually not being authentic with themselves.
And at the very least this makes it potentially risky and dangerous to get too close to them or get involved too deeply.
Until they learn to come to terms and be honest about their whole self, the over niceness can be a detriment to authenticity and honesty.