Ellie knew what her problem was in dating:
She was too nice.
She kept exchanging messages even when she was no longer interested.
She said yes every time a man asked her out, because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
She had long conversations where she listened and nodded and encouraged—only to realize, by the end of the evening, she hadn’t said a single thing about herself.
But the thing she wished she could stop the most was this:
Trying to make every man like her, even if she didn’t like him back.
She couldn’t help it. She felt like she had to.
It was his job to contact her and start a conversation. It was her job to reply in a way that made him smile and feel good about himself.
If she didn’t reply, or she told him she wasn’t interested, he’d feel bad about himself, and that’s the last thing Ellie wanted.
It didn’t matter that she rationally knew she wasn’t responsible for anyone else’s feelings. She felt responsible, and that’s what mattered.
She’d read about how women were supposed to “treat him mean to keep him keen.” She admired the confidence it took to keep a man on his leash. But that wasn’t her.
She was a nice person. And she’d always been that way.
People like Ellie make the world a better place.
She thought before she spoke. She considered the impact of her words on people. She was a wonderful friend.
But in some ways, Ellie wasn’t very kind.
Her inability to say no dragged out relationships that should have ended long before.
Her inability to be honest sent mixed messages.
Her inability to set boundaries created an unhealthy dynamic.
It was time for Ellie to make a mindset shift. Being nice was great, but being kind was even better.
Kindness is so much bigger and more powerful than niceness. It’s about considering everyone’s wellbeing, including your own. It’s about considering the long-term consequences of what you say and do, rather than making people happy in the short-term.
The problem with niceness, as Ellie had discovered, is that it turns you into a people-pleaser.
You focus on how other people feel and don’t consider how you feel. You say the nice thing and avoid mentioning the difficult thing. You do what you think is best for others, even if it’s not what’s best for you.
I wanted Ellie to have her happily-ever after. I wanted her to meet someone who was as much of a giver as she was. I wanted her to show up authentically, so she could be loved for who she truly was.
The following 3 Kindness Principles helped her do just that.
Kindness Principle #1:
Respect Your Limits.
Ellie was spending hours online dating and getting nowhere.
She wrote back to everyone. If a man “liked” her, she carefully clicked through and read his profile. She wanted to give everyone a chance. She didn’t want to judge anyone. How could she know if she was writing off a gem in the rough?
None of us have unlimited time and energy. We have to decide how to invest it. If we fail to make that choice for ourselves, other people will make it for us.
Not respecting her limits was making Ellie tired, resentful, and frustrated. She was burning out on online dating.
It was kinder to set limits on how much time she spent online and only reply to men she was genuinely interested in. She didn’t have to give everyone a chance; she just had to give the right people a chance.
Kindness Principle #2:
Balance Giving with Receiving.
Ellie was a giver.
She’d rather do something nice for someone than have someone do something nice for her.
No wonder her relationships were unbalanced. Even if she was with someone who wanted to make her happy, she felt uncomfortable receiving anything from him.
Kind people don’t hoard to themselves the pleasure of giving. Especially where romance is concerned!
Expressing pleasure in his gifts is one of the quickest ways to a good man’s heart.
Kindness Principle #3:
If You Can’t Say Yes with Your Whole Heart, Say No.
Ellie thought the secret to making people happy was to always say yes to them.
If you never said no, you never made anyone mad or upset!
But she often found herself doing things she didn’t really want to do. She’d end up feeling resentful.
If you want to do something, you should absolutely do it.
But if you know that deep inside you don’t want to do it, don’t agree just to be nice.
Saying no to a good man won’t turn him off. It will earn his respect. He wants to know what you like and what you don’t like. If you never say no, he’ll never learn.
As Ellie came to learn in the end, making people happy isn’t about being agreeable and accommodating them.
It’s about sharing your true self in a way that makes everyone—including you—feel good.