So you found a guy and he’s nice, he has a great job, you get along and you know your mom would love him, but you’re still not sure. So what’s the problem? Do you keep seeing him just because he’s “good on paper?” We’re asking our expert to weigh in on the pros and cons.
Psychotherapist and relationship advisor Christina Steinorth, author of Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships (Hunter House, 2013), says there are good points and not-so-good points to the guy who seems perfect, but might not be what you really want.
Who is the “good on paper” guy?
“In the most basic sense, it means on the surface he checks out,” explains Steinorth. “He’s got a good job, a nice car, a nice place to live, good family and seems to do well and/or be popular in other areas of his life,” she says. This means that he is likely active in community activities like church, or he’s involved in charity work. Basically, he’s perfect — or at least seems that way on the surface.
Another aspect of the “good on paper” guy, notes Steinorth, is that his family seems nice when you meet them. “They are cordial and seem to treat you well.”
So what’s the problem?
There can be a couple of negatives to this type of guy, says Steinorth. “The most glaring one is that he could be ‘all of these things on paper,’ but when you’re one-on-one with this person, he doesn’t treat you the same way he seems to treat others,” she explains. “He may be verbally and/or emotionally abusive to you when he doesn’t have an audience he feels he needs to impress, and if you’re ‘good on paper’ yourself he may actually be only interested in you because you help further his cause by making him look better to others.”
Another issue that often comes up with guys who seem “good on paper” is that even if he is a great guy, he can be so distracted by the need to keep up this image, that he’s unable to fully relax — not exactly fun to be around or easy to connect with. Steinorth says she once dated a guy like that, who was never interested in doing things that didn’t have a “purpose” because he was all about gathering credentials and gaining knowledge. “Whereas I saw things as having fun on the weekend and enjoying a day at the beach as rejuvenating, he found things like that to be a waste of time,” she says. “In short, he can be so focused on achieving that he may see other activities as unimportant and have no interest in doing anything else regardless of if they are important to you.”
But all is not lost
Making it work with the “good on paper” guy isn’t always impossible. If he is an all-around good person and you are interested in the same things that make him look good on paper, there are benefits. “He can expand your social network and perhaps introduce you to people who you would like to get to know,” notes Steinorth. “Also, if you are into the same things, you can share many activities together, which is a great thing for any couple to do,” she adds. Having similar interests is always a good thing for any relationship.
A guy like this (as long as he’s legit) also lends himself easily into what Steinorth calls “bragging rights” since he has so many positive points — whether it’s the great job, the weekend charity work, or totally super-nice family you hope will adopt you. In the end, it’s up to you. If he’s good both on and off the page, then he may be for you.
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