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Hello dear readers,

I was raised to be a nice girl, often to my own detriment. Nice girls don’t argue. They never talk back. They don’t have controversial opinions that could upset others. And they never, ever rock the boat. God forbid!

When I left my hometown, I was desperate for friends. I’d grown up in a close-knit pack, and life felt empty without that camaraderie. Unfortunately, as most of us know, “desperate” is not a good way to enter any relationship. As a result, some of my friends made enemies seem more appealing. Whenever I told my mother I intended to discuss my grievances with these “frenemies”, her response was always the same: “Do you really have to say anything? Can’t you just let it go? What if they get upset?” Never mind that I was upset. It was all part and parcel of being The Nice Girl. The same went for abusive boyfriends. Best not to rock the boat; best to stay with them forever rather than risk change. Um, no.

It didn’t take long for me to see that my Nice Girl ways were turning me into a doormat. I started demanding more of my friendships. Yes, I lost a few friends, but none that mattered. I dropped the abusive jerks and stopped giving all of myself to people who never reciprocated. Nice Girls who don’t learn these lessons are one step away from turning into Bitter Girls.

Still, I can’t always avoid the Nice Girl trap. It’s ingrained in me. Example: I met a group of writers recently. Most of them were fabulous people, and I’d like to think I made some new friends. However, there was one person who did his best to humiliate me whenever possible. He was patronizing and rude. He interrupted people and brought every conversation back to himself. As much as I miss the other writers, I was very happy to get away from this guy.

The Nice Girl side of me feels sorry for him. He was desperately trying to fit in, any way he could. He never meant to offend me–he was attempting to joke with me and be my friend. He didn’t mean to fail miserably; he just doesn’t know how to interact with people. He’s a beginning writer and he’s asked for my help. He wants to keep in touch.

It is difficult for me to turn my back on anyone who asks for help. I forgive and forget all too easily. But every encounter with this guy made me unhappy in some way. Why would I willingly sign up for more of that?

My upbringing is urging me to be nice. My guilt complex is rearing its ugly head. I feel the need to write to the person who introduced us and apologize for the fact that I don’t feel I can sustain a friendship with this person. A person I found to be a highly negative influence.

Do any of you struggle with this kind of thing? Do you ever feel guilty for cutting someone out of your life, even if that person is clearly no good for you?

I’d love to stand strong and say, “No More Ms. Nice Girl”, but I know she will always be there, somewhere, waiting to jump out and turn me into a doormat.

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8 Comments

  1. Kim

    I’m kinda with you on your need to “help” everyone. So I can understand your dilemma.

    I see it as two choices though…

    1. Some people make bad first impressions when anxious. Maybe under calmer circumstances and with time this person will prove to be postive after all.

    2. First impressions are always correct.

    I think I would always err on the side of giving someone too many chances. I would rather be that person than the person that writes everyone off and never lets anyone in.

    People who make sarcastic remarks and appear to be insulting are often that way because of some deep personal wounds. Sometimes the challenge can be to get them to share what those wounds are. But, yes, there is a limit. And on that count your mother was wrong. There are some things you should not let go of.

    I don’t know if I am making any sense or if I am just restating the problem. My other motto is go with your gut. The gut is always right.

    Reply
  2. Laura Best

    I don’t think there is anything wrong in being a nice person. Some people are nice by nature. But when we don’t set our boundaries we end up, as you say, being a doormat. There is nothing wrong is saying no or declining someone’s offer. It can still be done in a polite way. You can still retain your “niceness status”

    I used to think I always had to agree to anything that was asked of me. I’m learning that no isn’t a dirty word. And guess what? People still like me, but they like me for who I am and not what I can do for them.

    Reply
  3. Story Teller

    Thanks for your comments, Laura and Kim!

    @ Kim – I agree, but I think that living with someone for a week constitutes far more than a first impression. If anything, he was worse at the end of the week than at the beginning. If I thought there was the chance for a great friendship, but some of his behaviors irritated me, it would be worth working through those deep personal wounds. As it stands, we have absolutely nothing in common, so I don’t think it’s worth it. He wasn’t sarcastic, just clueless and lacking in tact.

    @ Laura – boundaries are certainly important, but I can’t see a polite way of declining someone’s offer of friendship. No matter what I say (or don’t say), feelings are bound to get hurt.

    Reply
  4. Lisa

    Does he live in the same city as you? If not it is a little easier to keep the distance.

    As for helping him out (Am I safe in assuming he wants you to be some sort of mentor for him?) – you said to Kim, you have already formed your impression of him. I would ask myself how objective I could be in this situation. No matter how unfavourably you may feel about him I’m thinking you may not want to unintentionally hurt him.

    How to tell him this diplomatically is a different story…anyone??

    Reply
  5. Story Teller

    Hi Lisa! Thanks for weighing in. Unfortunately, he does live in the same city, but I doubt I’ll ever see him again. I definitely can’t be his mentor. There are too many other people who want my time who deserve it much more. I’m sure there are groups in his genre which will be of much more help than I could ever be. I’m hoping that ignoring and blocking the friend request will put an end to it.

    Reply
  6. Elspeth Cross

    There is one person I don’t regret cutting out of my life but I do regret how I did it. Looking back, I could have used a little “nice girl” then.

    Reply
  7. Story Teller

    You are an incredibly nice girl, Elspeth. You were probably just pushed too far. It happens to all of us. Try not to beat yourself up. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Kold_Kadavr_flatliner

    Just wanna share everything I write if you’ll lemme share everything we write in Heaven. God blessa youse -Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL

    Reply

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