Does dating a slew of duds make it impossible to accept a genuinely nice guy?


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I’ve dated a lot of duds in my life. If you want to commiserate about ghosting, orbiting, or the woes of being in a relationship with a narcissist, I’m your girl. After breaking up with my long-term boyfriend, I quickly learned that putting yourself out there is really just a shortcut to feelings of disappointment and, well, emotional pain. But none of this seems to explain why I’m having such a hard time with the perfectly nice guy I’m currently seeing.

Seriously—I’ve finally found a man (or should I say unicorn) who seems to be selfless, texts me on the reg, and treats me like a queen. He’s basically acting how I wanted guys in my dating graveyard to, but better and with no games. So why am I wasting time looking for the catch?

I’m not alone in the needless neuroses, either. Whenever I share my happy news of seeing a genuinely nice guy being clouded by my expectation that the other shoe—whatever it may be—is bound to drop, people seem to get me. In fact, many others have issues accepting sincere kindness from a new flame. It’s a problem because all of us could totally be manifesting an obstacle that wouldn’t otherwise exist, simply because something seems too good to be true.

What gives? To dig deeper into the problem of, well, looking for a problem where there isn’t one, I turned to the pros for some insight.

Here are 4 reasons it’s so hard to accept the real, good-guy deal—and how to change your mind-set.

looking for a catch
Photo: Stocksy/Javier Diez

1. Trust issues

No surprises here, but having difficulties trusting kindness in a romantic relationship might stem from generalized trust issues. “If someone’s skeptical of dating a person who is extremely nice, it’s possible they’re experiencing issues with trust,” says New York–based clinical psychologist Jordana Jacobs, PhD. She adds that the struggle could originate from any number of things, including childhood experiences or situations with past significant others.

Dealing with bouts of dishonesty makes the genuine kindness appear as a facade that’s simply masking lies. And waiting for those lies to present where they don’t actually exist is a great way to compromise the integrity of an otherwise great thing.

2. Fear of intimacy

For some though, it’s the fear of attachment that’s the stop sign for letting in a perfectly nice person. “People may look for the catch in someone very nice because they are simply not really ready to go all in, and are, on some level, avoiding deeper connection with a partner,” says Dr. Jacobs.

“People may look for the catch in someone very nice because they are simply not really ready to go all in, and are, on some level, avoiding deeper connection with a partner.” —Jordana Jacobs, PhD

After all, if you keep your distance, you’ll never have to be fully committed—and, because of this, you’ll never get hurt.

3. To avoid pain

Speaking of getting hurt, you can avoid that too by finding someone’s faults before they self-present. At least, if you’ve been hurt before, that’s what you may try to do.

“Over time, if someone experiences one too many bumps in the road, they may become distrusting of nice and try to preempt anticipated pain by searching for the catch before it catches them,” says Dr. Jacobs. “It’s a form of protection someone may think serves them at the time, but may ultimately prevent solid relationships from forming with good people who have no intention of hurting them.”

4. Negative perspective about love

Subconsciously a pessimist about love? You might be self-sabotaging as a method of self-preservation. “I see men and women do this because their perspective on love is not a positive one,” says Caitlin Cooper, a matchmaker at ThreeDayRule.com. “They associate love with rejection, and think things such as, ‘There are no good guys out there.’ It becomes your truth, and when you’re presented with a good guy, you’re not mentally prepared to accept them because you’ve created this idea of operations that doesn’t involve a functional partner.”

Essentially, you manifest your own destiny—whether or not that includes a love connection.

How to accept the good that you finally have

Rework your perspective so you can be open to the healthy relationship you totally deserve. “You have to let people be themselves, allowing things to surprise you,” says Cooper. “Don’t go into something with an idea of what it’s going to be. Shut down the negative language in your head and understand that just because something bad happened in the past doesn’t mean it’ll be your future.”

Try your hardest to really start fresh and not bring your past (or your inner naysayer) into a new relationship. If you can accomplish that, it’ll be easier to accept being treated with the love that you want—and deserve—rather than letting nerves and negativity stop a totally good thing in its tracks.

For some more dating assistance, these are first date questions you should avoid. And this is the one trait to look for in a partner

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