What “She’s Too Nice!” Really Means

“You’re nice” is a compliment, but “you’re too nice” sounds suspiciously like a polite way to soften the blow of rejection. So what’s he really trying to tell you? Read on...

By Laura Schaefer

othing sounds more like a needle scratching across a record in the middle of a date than hearing, “You’re too nice.” It’s jarring, because it’s hard to determine exactly what someone really means by that. Is it an off-hand compliment? A veiled critique? Such an oblique statement should really be banned in the world of dating, but short of that, here are some ways to decode it. What does a man really mean when he says you’re too nice? Read on…

Meaning #1: “You seem too interested in others’ approval.”
“When a man tells a woman she’s too nice, he usually means that she is too
Men can easily get turned off by doormat behavior in a woman.
eager to please,” explains Jennifer Degler, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and coauthor of No More Christian Nice Girl: When Just Being Nice — Instead of Good — Hurts You, Your Family, and Your Friends. “She tries too hard to make people like her, and in the process, loses her grip on her own identity. This makes her less interesting and definitely less challenging to pursue.” In other words, men can easily get turned off by doormat behavior in a woman. “When it comes to male-female relationships, a little effort goes a very long way,” says Christina-Lauren, 30, the voice behind Inspirations & Celebrations, a lifestyle blog based in Carmel, CA. “Men perceive women who are more independent and self-confident as being more interesting, challenging and intriguing — and thereby more attractive.”

Meaning #2: “I won’t be able to make you happy.”
“When he says ‘You’re too nice,’ it means: ‘I’m worried; I don’t think that I can be that nice to you, if I’m really honest with myself,’” says Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, a family therapist in Mount Kisco, NY and author of A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage. Some men feel panicked at the prospect of you expecting better treatment from a man than he’s realistically ready to offer. Bobbi Palmer, founder of, agrees with this assessment: “He likes you, but knows something about himself that tells him he will never be able to make you happy. Either he doesn’t want you to be hurt or disappointed, or he doesn’t want to get involved with a woman who complains and wants to change him...either way, it’s not going anywhere.”

Meaning #3: “I’m just not very attracted to you.”
“When a man says a woman is ‘too nice,’ he really means that he’s not attracted to her — either physically or mentally,” says Christan Marashio, the blogger behind “Men tend to use compliments or humor when trying to convey dissatisfaction with a woman. They’ll make jokes in an attempt to avoid hurting the woman’s feelings.” He knows that you don’t want to hear: “I’m just not that into you,” so saying “you’re too nice” is a way to get that same message across, but in a gentler way. Since it’s so easy to misinterpret things, however, it’s not a bad idea to ask him what he really means… just be prepared for a slightly unpleasant truth in his response.

Meaning #4: “You’re not being genuine.”
“Obviously, tone makes a difference,” offers Alex Pfeiffer, a yoga instructor in Madison, WI. “But I’m basically saying, ‘I
Just don’t come off as being too eager to please him all the time.
don’t feel the real you.’ I particularly don’t feel your emotional side in a way that seems natural. I am experiencing your behavior as trying too hard rather than being your natural self; therefore, at a deep level, I don’t trust it.” In other words, too nice can be guy-speak for not real. “Because sooner or later, [any pretense] will have to drop and give way to the person underneath all that trying; I won’t know who might show up at that point,” explains Pfeiffer. “And besides, what I long for is a connection — which I cannot have with a cardboard cut-out of who you think a proper person is supposed to be.”

Meaning #5: “I’m not ready to settle down yet.”
“It’s an unfortunate reality that many men still split women into two categories: 1) wives and mothers who are nice, reliable and loving (but probably don’t like sex), and 2) sexy, spontaneous women who will be rampant in bed,” says Paula Hall, coauthor of Improving Your Relationship for Dummies. “It is, of course, a misguided fantasy, and women are much more complex — but the result is that for many men, unless they’re ready to commit to a relationship, they tend to avoid dating the ‘nice’ girls.”

Meaning #6: “You’re coming off as too prim and proper for me.”
“If a guy is turned off by [a woman’s] niceness, he’s interpreting that to mean she’s not in touch with her dark/sexual side,” explains Roy Biancalana, an author and relationship coach in Florida. “In other words, she’s a choir girl.” If this interpretation feels accurate, think about what you might be doing to give off such a buttoned-up vibe on dates. Consider experimenting with a more relaxed style, both in your dress and attitude around men. You don’t have to bust out the stilettos, ladies; just think about how you can better convey to others that you’re comfortable in your own skin.

Meaning #7: “You’re not enough of a challenge.”
“When a guy says that a woman is too nice, it really means that she’s not posing enough of a challenge for him,” explains Clay Andrews, a relationship coach and blogger from Portland, OR. “They may not want to admit it, but men don’t like it when things are too easy for them. They enjoy the back-and-forth game of flirting. They enjoy the uncertainty of not knowing if they really have you hooked.” So if your date says you’re too nice, you may simply be showing your cards too soon. Think about becoming less available and more reticent about admitting that you like him as more than a friend. “This doesn’t mean that you need to be difficult or act like a tease,” warns Andrews. “Just don’t come off as being too eager to please him all the time. Have fun and enjoy flirting! Being overly available kills the tension of mutual attraction.”

Laura Schaefer is the author of Notes to Self and Planet Explorers New York City: A Travel Guide for Kids.

For the other side of this story, read: What “He’s Too Nice!” Really Means.

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