The Sex Column: 'Should I stop being Mr Nice Guy?'

‘My ex dumped me at the beginning of summer and recently got in touch to meet up. She then cancelled, which reignited some old anger and resentment.

She’s asked to meet up again and although her reason is to simply catch up, I wonder what her motive is.

‘I’d say I’m your typical Mr Nice Guy and I don’t particularly enjoy being that way. I feel that it hasn’t served me well in relationships.

‘I’ve been on some dates with another girl, who is lovely, but it’s early days and I’m overthinking constantly about whether I’m being too keen.

I would mostly just like peace within myself. What’s your advice?’

It’s all about them, isn’t it?

‘What they’re thinking. What they’re doing. What they want. But what about you?’ asks James McConnachie. ‘Instead of wondering why your ex called, consider whether or not you would have called her.’

Before you agree to her request again, ask yourself: do I even want to see her?

‘Think carefully about what you would get out of this meeting with your ex,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘You may realise that you only agreed to it because you were asked — in which case let her know that you’re not available.’

When someone is always ‘nice’, they are able to swiftly put their needs aside in order to accommodate another’s.

‘Putting yourself out for your partner is fine if they are also doing the same for you but if they’re not, a relationship can quickly become unequal, leaving you with a very limited sense of power,’ Rudkin adds.

In the traditional storylines, Mr Nice Guy always gets the girl in the end but what we aren’t always shown is how damaging it is to feel used and exploited.

‘It’s a story as old as time: the nervous, self-doubting lover in pursuit of the callous, rejecting ex,’ says Rupert Smith. ‘Perhaps she does want your adoration again and now she’s pulling you back into a game of come-here, go-away that fulfils her basic emotional needs.

‘If your template for intimate relationships involves always chasing someone who’s pulling away, this will be familiar territory so you may also be getting what you need.’

We suggest you consider any patterns that emerge in your significant relationships, journeying all the way back to infancy, and — with professional guidance if necessary — start focusing on how to break those patterns and how to connect with your needs and desires.

‘As for your current date, are you overthinking how you’re “being” or are you overthinking how you’re coming across and being perceived?’ asks McConnachie.

We don’t know what people are thinking about us and when we guess, we often just project our hopes or fears.

‘If you can learn how to turn down the volume of your projections and speculations, and start focusing on how you feel instead, you might start hearing the sound of your own heartbeat,’ says McConnachie. ‘That’s not being selfish. It creates honest, authentic relationships.’

The experts

Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor

James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)

Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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