Help me get more awesome.
September 12, 2005 10:03 PM   Subscribe

What, in your opinion, makes someone a "great guy"? Not just romantically, I mean in any sense.

I don't feel like an exceptionally cool or likeable person. Maybe I am and have low self-esteem, whatever. That's not what this is about.

I want to become someone that people say is a "great guy." What kind of qualities would you say makes someone such? How to they act in everyday conversations?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (45 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This is the impossible question. How about, always stand up for yourself, admit your mistakes, drink whiskey, and in every situation talk to the prettiest girl in the room.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:08 PM on September 12, 2005

Oh, and "never let them see you sweat."
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:08 PM on September 12, 2005

Dude no way. Low self esteem guys are so lame when drunk. It's like watching Bill Cosby turn into Dr. Dre, everyone is all "WTF?"

Everyone's definition of a great guy is different. A great guy is the guy who brings Xanax to your party even if it's really lame and no one shows up. He acts like it's the best party in the world and keeps complimenting you on it. You can't try to be this guy you just are.

A great guy also doesn't ask questions. You know if you're on a party and your best friend is getting on the ugly chick and someone like me would run a cockblock route and stop it at the pass. A great guy would not do this he'd just let be and never mention it. He'd let you have your own guilty secret. See a great guy can't be defined.

The best advice I have is be you 100x. So if you're a nerd and you're depressing and no one likes you, really play that up. As long as you have a non-annoying personality or a personality that's not too mainstream you'll get invited to all the cool parties.
posted by geoff. at 10:15 PM on September 12, 2005

There are many types of "great guys". I think in general though, honesty, kindness, firmness and generosity are involved in there in some mix.
posted by edgeways at 10:15 PM on September 12, 2005

posted by Kwantsar at 10:17 PM on September 12, 2005

Are these last four posts related?
posted by atom128 at 10:18 PM on September 12, 2005

A similar thread: How can I become cool? Melissa May had the best response, hands down, in that thread. Feel free to read the whole thread, but I'm reprinting her comment because it's that damn good:

You are a man, so I am talking to you like a man, because an interest in cool is generally inspired by one thing, and that is to be catnip to the members of the sex that gives you those catnip-related feelings. I am also going to respond as though you wanted an answer instead of a hilarious zinger. If I am wrong about these things, my apologies.

Young cool guys are a dime a dozen. Cool doesn't age well, either -- at least snarky, pop culture reference-heavy, detached, one upsmanship-type cool. I associate real cool with self-knowledge and lack of fear.

An older man who is cool this way is rarer and far more exciting, because he's earned it by living well -- his mind, body, and spirit having grown more sophisticated but unjaded by experience. He's effortless, because he's spent a life exploring in the world, cultivating his tastes, and learning how to engage people without overwhelming them with all his toys of coolness. In his presence, you know you will eat, drink, and talk well, and that you will not be insulted or unappreciated, because he wouldn't bother with you at all if he didn't think well of you. He knows himself, so he is no longer obsessed by himself, and his comfort in his own skin means his interests and relationships are sincere.

But you don't get to be this man if you try to be cool. Be adventuresome instead, be sweet, be brave -- be all the things that are so much rarer. Once the question ceases to matter to you, it will have happened. And if really is the point of interest, the ladies will love you, and not in that neurotic way inspired by insecure men thinly shellacked with the right clothes and phrases. They will relax, they will be bright and happy, they will kiss you with abandon, because they won’t be thinking “I wonder if my breath is winterfresh enough for Mr. Cool here”-- they will be too busy abandoning themselves to you for that. It’ll work on men too, if that would be better. It’ll work on anyone. Best of luck.

posted by Happydaz at 10:18 PM on September 12, 2005 [5 favorites]

Are these last four posts related?

I think Matt just saves up anon Askme's and spews them all at once. Eww, four in a row, sort of ugly.
posted by Happydaz at 10:20 PM on September 12, 2005

This week on MetaFilter.
posted by cribcage at 10:23 PM on September 12, 2005

Someone who takes care of himself competently, who you don't have to worry about.

Someone who can teach you something about something.

Someone who does not spend all of his time chasing girls and being competitive with other guys.

Someone who has some interest, pursuit, or accomplishment worth the effort going on in his life.

Someone who enjoys the finer things, like relaxation, food, drink, music, art, and can tell a decent story.

4 or more of the above required :)
posted by scarabic at 10:29 PM on September 12, 2005

How about, always stand up for yourself, admit your mistakes, drink whiskey, and in every situation talk to the prettiest girl in the room.

How about, pick the right battles, help others avoid their failings, get drunk people home safe, and in every situation talk to the person in the room who could use someone to talk to.
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:06 PM on September 12, 2005

That's more like parenthood, I think. There's being a "great guy" and there's cooking a grilled cheese sandwich for every drunk shitbag at the party.
posted by scarabic at 11:13 PM on September 12, 2005

We've all heard the old chestnut "friends help you move; real friends help you move bodies" right? It's more than a little silly, but the sentiment is right on. I've never found politeness, or cheeriness, or empathy, or any similar things to be good indicators to awesomeness. An awesome dude is the one I call at midnight Sunday night cause I have to get to the airport cause my car is broken and he drives me there, even though he has work in seven hours.

People that go the distance, and do it with self-effacement, flair, and wit--those are great guys.
posted by hototogisu at 11:19 PM on September 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

Good guy? What scarabic wrote.

Decent guy? What cribcage linked to.

Great guy? Honour, man. Just honour.
posted by converge at 11:34 PM on September 12, 2005

Listen. Listening is an art and few ever master it, but those who do are most awesome. He who truly listens is beloved. Hear me now, and believe me later.
posted by wsg at 12:31 AM on September 13, 2005

Halley Suitt's How To Become An Alpha Male In 18 Easy Lessons is great reading, and hard to argue with.
posted by evariste at 12:36 AM on September 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

If you buy a round of drinks, you're a good guy. If you're the sober one who drives your buddy home, you're a really good guy. If you're the one who sees your buddy bust in with bloody clothes on, and your only thought is to swap clothes with him and get him out the back way, you're a great guy.
posted by Saydur at 12:45 AM on September 13, 2005

Incidentally, Bill Cosby lives near here and I've heard he's a mean drunk and always brags how much money he has.

You heard it here first.
posted by abcde at 1:33 AM on September 13, 2005

Alpha male is for dogs not humans. Arrogant people like to portray themselves as some kind of primal badman, but if you went round acting like that in a hunter gatherer society you'd get a spear in the back of the head.

'Alpha males' are people who've never grown out of their secondary school mentality, hiding behind civilisation to protect them.

Yeh, a lot of it goes on and there are slags who like that sort of think, but simply opt out of the ridiculous farce and you'll be a lot happier.
posted by lunkfish at 2:08 AM on September 13, 2005

sort of thing
posted by lunkfish at 2:09 AM on September 13, 2005

Someone who cares for their family and friends. A friendly smile helps. A guy who can flirt/or gentle teasing without going overboard.

Also, what scarabic said.
posted by Chimp at 2:19 AM on September 13, 2005

Oh, I forgot to mention remembering birthdays.
posted by Chimp at 2:24 AM on September 13, 2005

Be an Mensch

A mensch is a someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being "a real mensch" is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.
posted by filmgeek at 4:10 AM on September 13, 2005

Good guys help you move.

Great guys help you move bodies.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 4:23 AM on September 13, 2005

Don't call attention to the nice things you do.

I mean, there are a lot of guys who do nice things, but the dealbreaker is when they sit and fucking tell you about it afterwards, or gloat and expect you to suck their dick just because they picked up a pint of ben&jerry's for you when you've had a bad day at the office. When that happens, it's like they only did nice stuff so they could brag about it, not because it was a nice thing to do.

It's the difference between "anonymous" philanthropists and oil magnates who have to have university buildings named after them. But I digress.
posted by elisabeth r at 5:02 AM on September 13, 2005

A good guy is humble.

This is the one quality of the greatest man I know that I have yet to emulate. It's not easy to throw off the desire to be seen as cool.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:03 AM on September 13, 2005

A great guy probably isn't as macho as many of these replies suggest.
posted by OmieWise at 5:48 AM on September 13, 2005

If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
posted by driveler at 6:54 AM on September 13, 2005

If you want to be the guy who everybody adoresand people talk about in wistful tones then all you really have to do is be as generous possible. Share, share, share. Be generous with everything you have: your money, your time, your thoughts, your feelings, and your body. Buy people gifts for their birthdays even if they're strangers and toss out the occassional free lunch for your colleagues and friends. Buy people alcohol and then buy them more alcohol. That said, be careful. People will take advantage of your generosity. Being liked and popular, you may find, is very hard work.
posted by nixerman at 7:11 AM on September 13, 2005

Well, personally, when I think of the guys I've known (mostly friends, so this isn't romantic) who make me pause and go, "He's really special," it's often tied to the guy being upstanding. And it's funny, I don't mean "moral" in some Puritannical sense--these guys can drink and smoke and have lots of sex, granted--it's that they say what they mean and they keep their commitments. If they say early in the week they want to hang out, they don't blow people off when something better comes up. They call when they say they will. They don't forget information about the people they're with or conveniently forget they said they'd do x thing at y time. And they're thoughtful--they don't forget about people the second they're out of visual range (for some reason, a lot of young people seem to do this). They stay supportive even when their friends are NOT currently the life of the party--they don't smack of the sense they're only going to be around as long as everything's mega fun and shallowly stimulating. They're capable of thinking in the longterm, not just "what can I do to gratify myself tonight?" Granted, the latter question matters, but there's more to life than just that, and guys who've figured that out impress me.

A wry or a good sense of humor, one that isn't full of bile is also appreciated, though not essential...unfettered dancing and general goofiness/good natured lack of self consciousness is way too rare among the young men I've known, and it always makes me smile too.

But really, thoughtfulness and emotional/social maturity are what I really find striking. This is going to seem really kiss ass, but for examples of it on MeFi, well, grumblebee and mathowie's responses to a lot of social AskMe questions and the general attitude towards others that they bring to the MeFi table are refreshing to me.
posted by ifjuly at 7:15 AM on September 13, 2005

thank you, lunkfish - that 'alpha male' link was really dumb. Your goal shouldn't be to 'be with the prettiest girl in the room'. The goal should be to find the person in the room who's most intriguing to you, who you connect with most, who makes life interesting again. And, no girl is the prettiest girl in every room, every time, in everyone's eyes. Don't try to make yourself by comparative and competitive responses to others around you; discover it from the inside out.

what it comes down to is simply being who you are, but more so. Like Melissa, I think the most important thing is being comfortable in your own skin - and when you're truly comfortable, you're less likely to feel inhibited or unsure, so your personality develops outward, becoming more adventurous and interesting, since you don't really care about your rank and external markers of coolness anymore. You amplify yourself once you stop worrying about how others see you, and ironically that is often just what makes others think you're pretty cool.
posted by mdn at 7:22 AM on September 13, 2005

My husband is a great guy; everyone loves him, and in fact it even gets a little bit irritating sometimes to constantly hear from people how great he is, and how I should appreciate him - as if I don't! As if I didn't know him better than anyone else in the world, or somehow can't quite possibly appreciate him enough. pfft.

Here are his major qualities: He is relaxed - not a "worrier", thought he can be pretty exacting about work-related things. He is kind - he always gives everyone the benefit of a doubt, and willl help you out even if he doesn't know you; he does help people with their (technical/mechanical) problems a lot. Not once in 16 years have I ever seen him be cruel in the slightest thought or deed. He's not jealous or envious at all, ever; he's funny - but he's not always telling jokes or trying to crack people up; he's very smart, but he never tries to show anybody up or prove how smart he is; he's very unselfconscious, and what you see is what you get - he doesn't act differently in different situations. He doesn't nag, he doesn't judge, he never tries to dominate social situations or conversations.

Which all maybe makes him sound like a doormat or something - and this is totally not the case. Whenever he puts his foot down about something or tells somebody off, they listen up, because they realize how serious he is since he never blusters or pulls the macho stuff normally. Also, despite being seemingly such a white-hat guy, he's just cool (not in the forward-edge-of-fashion way, but in the creative-lifestyle, everyone-always-wants-to-hang-out-with-you, party's-not-complete-without-you way). Young guys tell me that they admire him, and that he gives them hope about being able to grow older "in a good way". And if it sounds like this kind of personality wouldn't attract women... wrong. Totally wrong. But he also has that ineffable "confidence" thing we've talked about so many times here.

If I had to sum it all up in a catchphrase, though, I'd call it "generosity of spirit", but it's important to note that there's nothing "saintly" about him. He's more like a groovy, groovy angel. And if I had to give very concise advice about how to be more like him, I'd say "try to expand your heart outward, try to think about yourself less, and have a good time".
posted by taz at 7:39 AM on September 13, 2005 [2 favorites]

Some of these definitions sound like they come out of bad buddy flicks. Great guys are consisten in public and private--consistently decent. I can actually think of a number of people with dignity, decency, humility, hard working, etc. who are kind of boring and not that fun to hang with. It's tough to find all of the above along with a little cultural awareness and a killer sense of humor. Who can do magic tricks in restaurants that are actually cool.
posted by mecran01 at 7:41 AM on September 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

Be quiet when nobody is speaking to you. Silence is not an invitation to shout about yourself or your interests.

Be punctual. Treat people like their time is important.

Be dedicated. If you say you're going to do something then make damn sure you actually do it regardless of how difficult or bothersome it is. If you can't do it, then you shouldn't have said you would.

Be interesting. Find something that fascinates you, learn as much as you can about it and try to draw connections between it & the rest of the world. Knowing a lot about Malaysian grubworms can make you the most tedious person in the room, or the most absurdly entertaining. It's not the subject matter, it's the application & elucidation that makes things interesting (in my view, anyhow).
posted by aramaic at 7:51 AM on September 13, 2005

Upon asking, "Can you do me a favor?" I find that most people generally say, "Well, what's the favor?" A great guy says, "Yes, of course I can" even before knowing what they're getting into.
Here are a few important personality traits that make a great guy:

-Honesty. (That includes being able to communicate clearly)


-Humor (even a little dark, mean streak is fine. Being a good person doesn't mean the same thing as being a nice person.)

-A great guy can tell you what you want to hear when it's not that important, but will always talk sense into you when it matters.



-If you call someone at 3am with a problem, a good guy will call you back first thing in the morning. A great guy will answer the phone and help out right then.


-Asks for nothing in return.

-But in doing these things, he's not a sycophant or a weenie about it. He's not foaming at the mouth to be helpful, and his efforts always appear effortless. A great guy isn't a puppy who needs to please everyone. A great guy does great things because they're necessary and never a big deal.

But as to how to make yourself a great person, just following some vague checklists won't quite cut it. Find a person who you think is great and spend your time with them. They'll rub off on you. The more that they do great things for and with you, the more you'll want to reciprocate and, pretty quickly, it'll stop being a sort of emulation or "pay-back" and you'll find yourself being good to everyone.
posted by Jon-o at 8:35 AM on September 13, 2005

A great guy has interests and passions he loves to talk about, but also is always interested in learning something new. He always treats people with respect but doesn't take any shit from anyone. He treats women the same in front of them and behind their backs. He's not interested in demonstrating that he's the big cock on the block.
posted by miss tea at 8:59 AM on September 13, 2005

People without hobbies are boring.
posted by cribcage at 9:15 AM on September 13, 2005

they say what they mean and they keep their commitments.

When women have called me a "great guy" this is almost always #1 on the list. Being practical goes hand-in-hand with this, it seems -- don't make commitments you know in advance you'll be unable to keep.

A wry or a good sense of humor

And this is usually #2 on the list.

(Not to toot my own horn, just to say I think you're really onto it.)
posted by kindall at 9:38 AM on September 13, 2005

Once the question ceases to matter to you, it will have happened.

Not quite. Sadly there are plenty of absolute pricks for whom the question doesn't matter, too. It needs to be rephrased as follows: "You can't be that guy until the question has ceased to matter to you".

I have no idea whether the things I personally feel make someone a great guy (or woman) actually do. Since I've never been exactly popular I have to assume I'm not particularly well-qualified in the matter. Still, for what it's worth, I'd say that empathy, compassion, reliability, honesty, punctuality, generosity, intelligence, humour and courage should all feature in the mix somewhere.
posted by Decani at 10:25 AM on September 13, 2005

Oh... add consistency to that mix.
posted by Decani at 10:26 AM on September 13, 2005

...and not having lots of afterthoughts about things.
posted by Decani at 10:28 AM on September 13, 2005

it's that they say what they mean and they keep their commitments. If they say early in the week they want to hang out, they don't blow people off when something better comes up. They call when they say they will. They don't forget information about the people they're with or conveniently forget they said they'd do x thing at y time.

I concur wholeheartedly.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:49 AM on September 13, 2005

Greatness, "being the best you can be," is the Greek value of Arete. Arete is best achieved not by merely being a one-note man, nor by fitting a universal ideal. It's a balance.

You know how in history, there are certain hardcore guys? Alexander Pope wrote his "An Essay on Criticism" before he was 23, maybe as early as 19. It's a witty metacriticism -- with impeccable rhyme and meter. Badass, and a demonstration of Pope's arete.

Ben Franklin, whose list of virtues were covered in the Blue, had arete. He was not only a fine statesman, but he founded the first public library, the first volunteer fire department, and a damn good newspaper. He held parties, revelled in debauchery, discovered (or at least brought us closer to harnessing) electricity, and even pushed a wheelbarrow around so people would think he was hardworking -- because all the work he did wasn't visible enough. This is a guy who had to FAKE WORKING HARD AFTER HE WORKED HIS ASS OFF. He acknowledged his strengths and weaknesses and learned to live with them. He spun himself well enough that few remember what a lech he could be. He found his arete.

I may be straying from "great guy" to "great man," but in the long run, if you fulfill your arete, you don't have to be the nicest guy in the room. Just do this: GET SHIT DONE. You get shit done and people find OUT.

Then just make sure you're not a TOTAL asshole. When you criticize, entertain. Let all your insults be funny, and constructive to the wise. Let your compliments be honest. Be quick to lend a hand, but keep it on your own arm. And when you find yourself bitching -- about anything -- either make the bitching damn entertaining, fix the problem you're bitching about, or move on to something cooler.
posted by NickDouglas at 1:11 PM on September 13, 2005

Become Comfortable in your Skin. In my mind this means: self-aware, confident, and real.

To accomplish this I'd vote for finding what you really admire and immerse yourself in that. Example: you have deep respect for lawers so you go to law school (or become a paralegal or...). The world you create for yourself by doing this will be fascinating, exciting, and empowering.

If you have flaws that irritate you, either fix them or embrace them. Example, reduce the beer gut but embrace the fact that your crooked teeth give you character.
posted by deanj at 7:49 AM on September 16, 2005

Can I just say that the Melissa May quote referenced earlier is the best thing I have ever read on Mefi. Full stop. It sums up in four paragraphs everything that any guy should ever aspire to be. Be good, be open, and then before you know it things will come good.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 1:24 PM on September 16, 2005

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