“I’m a Good Guy”? Pay Attention to His Actions, Not His Words

Posted by in dating after divorce, self-esteem in dating, single women over 40 | 6 comments

“I’m a good guy. I may seem like a d*%#ck, but I’m really a good guy.” These are the words that my client Sue’s boyfriend, Bob, would say after he screwed up. He didn’t remember her birthday? “I’m a good guy. Please believe me. My computer crashed, so I couldn’t sign into Facebook for the birthday reminder. Let me make it up to you by taking you out Thursday night.” Sue’s sister was ill, and she was under tremendous emotional stress. Where was Bob? Aside from a perfunctory call at the beginning of the week, “How’s your sister?”, he wasn’t there to support her. When she brought it up, she got the same line, “I’m really a good guy. I’m so sorry, my phone was stolen and I didn’t get your text messages until a few days later when I got my new phone. Please trust that I’m a good guy.” It is so easy to believe a man’s excuses when you’re crazy about him. You want to trust that he’s sincere. But it’s far more important to pay attention to his actions.

In my practice as a dating coach, I see this happening so often. And it starts at a young age. I’ve been observing my 17-year-old daughter’s friends and their boyfriend issues.

Ali has been having boyfriend problems. The guy who used to chase her and call every day has not been calling as often. He doesn’t make the effort to see her. They almost broke up last week over some hurtful texts.

Saturday night, when they got together to talk things through, he promised he’d call more often. He promised he’d stop being so flirty with his best friend, who just happens to be a girl. He’d get together with Ali more often. And he would text less, which is where much of their relationship currently takes place (and leads to disastrous misunderstandings).

His promises sound promising, right? But they are just words. Empty words. He has told her this many times. And he soon goes right back to his old patterns. They have the “talk” again, he makes empty promises, and so on and so on. Ali cries, Bob concedes, and I hope that she breaks up with him very soon.

As an adult, I hope that you like yourself enough to walk away from a man who makes empty promises. Adult women are mature enough to use better skills when dealing with men whose actions don’t match their words.

I encourage you to have higher standards. Don’t forgive a man for being an a-hole. If he doesn’t mean what he says, if he continues to make lame excuses, walk away. Pay attention to his actions. How many times do you need to be hurt in order to learn this valuable love lesson?

The sooner you cut loose from guys like this, the less heartache you’ll experience.

So listen carefully to his words and then observe what he does. If he shows himself to be a truly good guy, he’s worth your time and effort.

If his actions follow his words, he can’t prove he’s a good guy by trying to convince you.

You’ll know.

Have you experienced the “good guy syndrome”? I’d love to hear how you dealt with men like this. Please share your comments below.




  1. Yes, I was with a man for 18 months who seemed genuine and likable. Everyone loved him. I have always had a saying that i live by “do what you say and say what you mean”. So many inconsistencies, so many phone calls not on time, so many excuses like I had a headache I fell asleep. We we were planning on getting married and we had a time table, but he didn’t practice what he preached. How was he going to relocate if he did not fix his coop to sell or rent? Never did. The more I kept pressing the more excuses I got and then he dropped the bomb of “Im never going to marry you” and blamed it on my neediness and my frequent calls to make him do what was right. A guy should not have to be told to do what is right. Number one red flag. Beware commitment phobes, they preach a good sermon but their actions are lacking food for the soul

  2. Debbie,

    Your story is painful. I totally understand how easy it can be to believe a guy’s words, even though his actions don’t match.

    Here’s where the change takes place for you and anyone else suffering because of this kind of heartache:

    Know your standards up front. If he makes too many excuses, draw your line in the sand about what you’re willing to be with and what you’re not willing to be with.

    This takes all the neediness out of the relationship. You are not pushing for him to change. You are merely stating your standards for how men can treat you.

    Be willing to walk away if a man doesn’t treat you well.

    This is the work I do with my clients. Increasing your self-awareness, setting your standards, and sticking to them.

    Contact me privately if you’d like to learn more.

    My best to you.

  3. I have the reverse situation, so it makes no sense to me. He is such a great guy, will listen to me forever, is coming to visit me across the country, wanted to fly me to his Grandparents ranch in Montana to see me (which I couldn’t work out, but we met in Vegas on his drive back home, spent a day there, then he drove me home), drove 4 hours to spend a day helping my sister and me get ready for a party that he couldn’t even stay for, etc…and yes, we’re intimate. However, he says he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me. I thought at first that it was because we live across the country from each other. He’s just an hour from our hometown and I’m 30 hours from there. But, he swears that even if I lived there, we still wouldn’t be together, because he just wants to be single…but only wants to sleep with me. So confused.

  4. Christine,

    I understand how painful it must seem that your guy does so many wonderful, kind, things for you, shows you affection, but doesn’t want to be in a relationship. If you could step back from the situation, you would see that he’s been telling you the truth all along. It’s not confusing – it’s clear. He likes being single, but he also likes you a lot. He likes to sleep with you, visit you, and spend time with you. But he also wants to be a free man. Have you asked him what he likes about being single? What single means to him? I would get curious to find out his “Why”. And then if you’re not happy with the relationship the way it is and you know it won’t change, you’ll have to decide if you want to walk away to find a man who is “all that” and wants a relationship with you. That’s the guy who you’re not going to have to question. He exists.

  5. I avoided confronting a 10 year friend, that a month of dating things were “good guy syndrome” he stopped texting so often, he fell through on a bunch of things, saying he wants to see me more and 2 more weeks of nada ladies. That “hey pretty girl” text that once drove me to not wanting to talking to him, to finally missing it. When I decided to tackle these issues, it must of been a week of not seeing him. But getting through the day was easy enough I just didn’t want to be intimate with him, of course, he did. Finally after too many cocktails later at my brothers birthday in a home setting around a fire pit. I told him, there’s some compatibility issues I’m having a hard time with and listed my observation I then began to talk to him like a friend more, which was comfortable. Until I popped that; after hearing all of this what do you think? I mean if you really don’t see thing going further anymore let’s not “beat around a bush.” and call it an end….I also asked if he was shopping around still, sites like okcupid, and he told me “he wasn’t.” That following week a colleague was really wanting to see his photo so I suggesteed she log in and looking and privately looked. To my embarressement after disclosing the above to her, he was actually logged in and actively responding to emails. I was P.O.d confused and hurt, so I went an entire week of no feedback. (cold and disengaged from him) I was neutral. Halloween friday hits and he’s asking to see me (last minutes) honestly a pet peeve of mine he’s aware of. I wanted to see him, but he phoned me last minute by which time I already had plans with friends who know me (good bad and ugly) and enjoy having me around regardless true friends. So I do not flake out even for love if the person I’m dating is treating me horribly. We make these pseudo alternative plans for Saturday, at 2pm. Not only does he not text me sooner than later to tell me he’s not feeling well, he waits until 3pm to which point I’ve had enough. I calmly break off dating him but because we’ve had this decade friendship I at least felt compelled to standup for what was wrong with his treatments. A) He said “I really miss you, and I like you a lot,” but ladies his treatment towards me was not the way you treat someone you “miss a lot” and “like a lot.” I explained to him that it was emotionally abusive and a mind-f. It is. I finally faced it and had enough of his bs treatment towards me and my feelings. Face held high- You can do it if you’re in the same position, and if he’s not fighting for you back (no excuses)…then you know that letting him go was WORTH IT. <3

  6. Thanks for sharing your story about leaving a man whose words and actions don’t line up. Talk is cheap, as you have witnessed. Look for a man with a steel core of integrity, a good guy, not a hot guy with poor character. Best of luck to you!


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