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The Difference Between Being Nice and Being Kind

Why only one is needful

I recently had a conversation with a friend about being kind vs. being nice in the context of “nice” men not finding girlfriends. My explanation for this — being nice isn’t necessarily genuine. It’s also passive.

Being kind, on the other hand, is real and active.

A nice guy will pay for dinner because he thinks this will get him what he wants. He may expect sex in return for her steak and ale. But he’s not honest about it. He pretends to value her when he’s just out for himself. That is objectification and it’s disrespectful.

How would a kind guy act?

He may or may not pay for your dinner. If he does, he will do so because he wants to, and he will only treat you to what he can afford. If you question him, and he is gracious enough to answer, he will be honest.

“I am not budgeting more for dates because I’m paying off my debts” is a valid answer, though, of course, he doesn’t owe you an explanation.

If he doesn’t want to see you again, he’ll honestly tell you that as well. In person. Whereas a “nice” guy might ghost you or keep dating you while looking for someone he likes better. He will do what is best for him without considering how it hurts you. A kind man considers what is best for both of you.

This comparison between “nice” and kind is valid in other contexts as well, including family dynamics, friendships, or workplace interactions.

For example, a friend of mine who owned a small business was torn about firing an employee. Eventually he realized this would actually free the man to find a job that would better suit him. In the long run, this was good for both parties, particularly because my friend made sure to do it the “right” way — by giving enough notice, allowing time off for interviews, and giving honest feedback to help him in his career.

I also had a friend who agreed to a favor and then resented it. In the long run, that hurt our friendship. Once he felt free to honestly say “no” when necessary, our relationship improved.

Being kind places the emphasis on what is best for the other person in the long term as well as for yourself. Being nice, on the other hand, may avoid conflict but it also hurts the overall health of the relationship. It can be manipulative and selfish even if it appears sweet and caring.

Ultimately, motives matter. If you have doubts about whether or not your words or actions are kind — ask yourself if they will ultimately benefit the other person. Then only speak or act if you are giving their needs as much value as your own.

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