Friday, July 18, 2014

The Problem With Nice Guys

Earlier this week I mentioned that the Friendzone is a concept fabricated by Nice Guys. This time, I want to talk about what a Nice Guy is, and why being a Nice Guy actually isn't all that nice.

What Is A Nice Guy?

A Nice Guy is a man who pretends to be friends with a woman in the hopes of getting sex or romance from her at some point down the line. On the surface, he will hang out with the woman in question, listen to their problems, support them, and sometimes even buy them gifts. In other words, a Nice Guy acts exactly like you would expect a friend to behave, which is what makes Nice Guys extremely difficult to identify.

I say that a Nice Guy "pretends to be friends" because a Nice Guy isn't actually a friend to the woman in question, he's just using friendly behavior to, in his mind, build favor with her. A key component of an actual friendship is caring for the other person, and a Nice Guy doesn't really care for the woman he's manipulating, only about his own desire to be with her. He sees her not as an individual person with her own agency and desires, but rather as a prize to be bought once he's built up enough friendship tokens.

Prize tickets
Just 200 more and I can get a drunken handjob!
photo credit: Paul Wittal via photopin cc

Ultimately, the feature that defines Nice Guys is their sense of entitlement. They believe that they are somehow owed sex/romance/whatever from these women because they were "nice" to them. Never mind that being nice is baseline expected behavior of a friend, if not just of being a decent person. The problem is that Nice Guys don't usually realize that they aren't actually being friends. They either refuse to realize, or are oblivious to, their entitlement and lack of empathy.

Not-So-Nice After All

The term "Nice Guy" comes from the often-heard complaint these men will make that "women don't really want a nice guy" like them. They claim that women don't appreciate them for being kind, or friendly, or respectful. How can all of these women not see that these guys are gentle, caring souls worthy of their love? Some even go so far as to say that women intentionally shun them in favor of assholes and "high status" men.1

The irony here, of course, is that these guys are so deeply entitled and disconnected from reality that they can't even see the dissonance between what they're saying and how they're behaving. They lament the fact that women don't recognize the respect that these guys have for them, and call these women stupid and ignorant for missing it. They claim that they respect and support women, and in the same breath they berate these women for choosing to be with someone other than themselves.

Man being supportive.
I support women's right to make "their own" decisions!
photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg via photopin cc

The truth is that these Nice Guys aren't nice at all. They don't respect women's agency and right to decide for themselves who they want to be with and who they give their affections to. They view women as objects that can be bought with good deeds and kind words. When those women don't throw themselves at these guys every time they hold the door open, they get upset and start labeling the very women they claim to respect with names like "bitch," "whore," or worse. The incredible hypocrisy would be funny, were it not so destructive.

Being An Actually-Nice Guy

To clarify, there is nothing wrong with being nice to people. Actually, that's highly encouraged, if not necessary, for healthy human interaction! So how do you be nice without tipping into Nice Guy territory? You have to be genuine.

The fundamental difference between Nice Guys and guys that are actually nice, is that Nice Guys have neither respect nor empathy for the people they desire. So, if you want to avoid falling into that trap, a surefire way to do it is to develop empathy for women. Look at things from their point of view, and respect that the decisions they make and the things they do are motivated by their own desires and needs. Nobody decides to date somebody else because they're trying to hurt you,2 they're doing it because they're interested in the person they're dating. Nobody chooses not to be intimate with you because they want to see you suffer, they choose not to be intimate with you because they're not feeling attracted to you in that way.

Woman whispering to a man.
"Psst, put your arm around me so that I can make that other guy feel jealous and hurt..."
photo credit: keyofnight via photopin cc

Besides, just being nice isn't enough. There's so much more that you can, and should, be able to offer a potential partner than just being nice, and if you can't then, well, maybe you shouldn't be dating at all while you work on improving yourself.

1 Because, you know, women like to be demeaned and disrespected.
2 And if they do, then they're just being an asshole and not worth the energy to hate.

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