Ellingson: Just being nice is not enough


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First impressions are very important when meeting new people. The best way to create a good first impression is to “be interesting and keep a conversation going.”

Caitlin Ellingson

One of the bitterest sentences ever said in today’s dating scene is: “Nice guys finish last” or any variation of that phrase. People usually say this because they are upset about someone (who they probably have nothing in common with) who has rejected them (because they have nothing in common with them). If you’re the person who’s saying that, you need to just get over it. Not one of your friends wants to listen to your sob story, but they’ll be kind enough not to share that detail with you and continue to listen like a good friend. Side note: You should probably buy them a drink for putting up with you.

Now, you can continue to irritate all your friends while you ramble on about how the “love of your life” wants nothing to do with you because he or she just doesn’t want to date someone as nice as you are, or you can find someone who actually likes you for you. But you need to understand that how you come across when you meet someone for the first time is important.

To put it simply, how you come off in a first impression is often the only impression you will get a chance to make. That’s not just true for dating but for life in general. If you are not appealing in some way to the person you’re talking to, you probably won’t get a second chance to change that, especially in the world of dating.

That isn’t because the person you’re talking to doesn’t like nice people or isn’t a decent human being. It’s just because you have come across as a person they don’t want to date, whether that feeling is neutral or negative. Your first impression showed them that you have different interests than they do, and they might just think you’re not their type. Your degree of niceness is irrelevant in this situation. Your degree of not being interesting, on the other hand, is a factor.

A good way to leave a good impression is to have a skill, true stories or something impressive about yourself to talk about that someone else would be interested in hearing.

To put it bluntly, be interesting and keep a conversation going. If your chosen topic is clearly not reciprocated in interest by the other person, you should switch topics before he or she leaves the conversation completely. Better yet, find out what the other person is interested in and build a conversation based on the responses you receive. Keep in mind that not everyone is the same. What sparks interest in some people could completely bore someone else. This is why you need to learn to read people decently and pay attention to their reactions.

There are also “anti-skills” that should never be talking points in conversation. For example, you graduated from high school? Congratulations; so did everyone else. Not a skill. You’re a nice person? I’m glad you’re so upfront about possessing basic human qualities. And, while I’m sure you are a nice person, that’s not exactly praiseworthy. If you’re nice, that will be apparent on its own without being said.

If you keep targeting people who have made their disinterest in dating you clear, or they like you just as a friend, don’t be offended by their choice. It’s not because you’re just “too nice,” and that person just doesn’t understand how perfect you are for him or her. It’s probably because you’re actually not perfect for them, and they’ve realized that first. So instead of forcing yourself on someone you hardly have anything in common with, move on and find someone who is actually interested in you. You’ll like that person a lot more.


Caitlin Ellingson is a junior in journalism and mass communication and environmental studies from Milo, Iowa.