An open letter to Nice Guys

(Originally posted at ToughxCookies.)

In my lived experience, there have been two categories of nice guys: the genuinely kind, sensitive, gentle men to whom I often find myself attracted (like my current boyfriend – shout out to your awesomeness), and the sort of creepy, obsessive ones who continually self-proclaim that they are genuinely kind, sensitive, gentle men.

This one goes out to the latter – to the ones who whine about the friend zone, to the ones who tweet about how girls always go for the assholes, to the ones who complain that nice guys finish last, to the ones who constantly wonder why their female friends don’t want to date them.

Because here’s the thing, nice guys: we don’t not date you because you’re nice.  We don’t not date you because you’re not enough of an asshole for us to feel challenged.  We don’t relegate you to “the friend zone” because we’re teases or because we’re bitches – and certainly not because we’re sluts.  It’s not that we don’t know what we’re missing or that we can’t see how great you are.  It’s not that you’re not an amazing person for us to have in our lives or because you have some gut-wrenching physical deformity.  Nope.

We don’t date you because we’re not attracted to you.

“But wait!” you, nice guy, say.  “I have everything that he has and more!  We hang out every single day, so obviously you think I’m some kind of awesome.  And I’ve asked you if you think I’m hideous, and you’ve said no.  So you think I’m cool, I think you’re cool, you think I’m not entirely grotesque, I think you’re hot as fuck, I… don’t understand the problem.  Let’s date?  Or at least bang?”

Okay.  Hold on.  Let me try this again.

Ahem.

We’re not attracted to you.

Call it pheromones, or call it having a “type.”  Call it coincidence, or call it luck.  We cannot force ourselves to be sexually or romantically attracted to you if we’re just not attracted to you.  No matter how awesome you are, no matter how funny you are, no matter how good you are to us.  From the moment we laid eyes on you, we thought, “This guy could be a cool friend.  Buuut I don’t wanna bone him.”

Are you attracted to every female friend that you have?  Do you want to fuck every girl that you know?  Don’t you, too, relegate people to “the friend zone” based on whether or not you’re attracted to them?  Aren’t there some women in your life at whom you look and think, “She’s attractive, but I’m not attracted to her?”

Why is this a sentiment that is a-okay for men, but not for women?  How come when we want to hang out as just friends, and then reject you when you make a move on us, we’re somehow “leading you on” because we weren’t interested – and made you aware of that fact in the first place?  Why are you allowed to pick and choose who you’d want to sleep with, but we’re supposed to fall all over you the second you hold a door open for us or pay for dinner?

“Ugh,” you, nice guy, say.  “But what am I doing wrong?  Every girl I’m ever interested in rejects me.  There must be something wrong with all of them, because I’m just so nice, and they must not want to date nice guys, or else they’d date me.

Um—wait a second, nice guy.  Every girl you’re ever interested in rejects you?  And you think it’s because you’re too nice?  So you’re assuming that we don’t date nice guys?  Because here’s a news flash for you: we date plenty of nice guys.  Real nice guys.  Genuine nice guys.  Guys who are so nice that they don’t feel the need to flaunt their niceness around all the time.  Ya know.  Because they’re nice.  Haven’t you noticed a trend, nice guy?  The only constant in these rejection situations is… you.  Have you ever stopped to think that maybe (gasp!) you, nice guy, are the problem?

Because here’s the thing.  In my experience, a lot of the “nice guys” who complain about finishing last are creepy as fuck.  They run around telling everyone about how nice they are, but in reality, they’re obsessive.  Yeah, you’re so nice when you stalk me, or when you repeatedly tell me that I’m beautiful, despite my explicitly expressing that it makes me uncomfortable. And it’s so nice when you tell me that you think about me when you masturbate or when you text me just to tell me you like what I’m wearing. And it’s so fucking nice when you threaten to cut yourself if I don’t date you or when you take me out to dinner, or to a dance, and then actually have the nerve to express your distaste that I didn’t kiss you afterward.

All things that have happened to me by men who claim to be “nice guys” who are sick of “the friend zone.”  Yeah.  Real nice.

Because (again, in my experience), part of what has come to be known as Nice Guy Syndrome includes an awkwardly (and sometimes frightening) obsessive approach to wooing, whereby these “nice guys” act like proverbial doormats. They are oftentimes rather desperate (if not completely and utterly pathetic), and they offer no challenge whatsoever – intellectually, spiritually, or otherwise.  This leaves strong, smart women like myself to wonder, “Why would I want a partner who bends at my every need and agrees to my every thought?”  Because a lot of these self-proclaimed “nice guys” are actually yes men.  And there is nothing attractive about being waited upon.  When you become someone’s #1 priority (and not just anyone’s #1 priority, but a man who you aren’t dating), it’s more scary than flattering.  If all you, nice guy, can talk about is how much you love someone (someone that you’re not even dating!), then maybe it’s time to check yourself and get a hobby.  Because that’s, uh, relatively socially unacceptable.  And creepy.

Now, don’t get me wrong: it sucks to be rejected.  We’ve all been there; we’ve all had our hearts broken by friends in whom we were interested who took no interest in us.  And that’s fine.  Be sad.  Feel heart ache.  But frustration?  Rage?  The single moment of thought when this comic actually makes sense to you?  That’s when your nice guy façade is shattered.

Because here’s the thing, my “nice guy” pals: by virtue of being your friend, I do not owe you romantic or sexual access to me. So please take your entitlement elsewhere — because getting pissed about being my friend means that you don’t deserve my friendship.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted June 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Melissa,

    Strong language! I take your points, but I will offer a critique.

    You use the term ‘nice guy’ interchangeably, which sometimes makes for confusion. Having reread your post, I think I understand that you make a distinction between ‘genuine nice guys’ and ‘creepy nice guys’. Fair enough, but a little close to essentializing, no? (I think that is the term, right?)

    After all, you could easily talk about ‘genuine redheads’ and ‘creepy redheads’, or ‘genuine intelligent guys’ and ‘creepy intelligent guys’. And your remarks apply equally to those other groups.

    Let’s agree that the ‘creepy nice guys’ should be rather seen as part of the ‘creepy’ group, than the ‘nice guy’ group.

    Now, why are ‘nice guys’ so upset with women (some guys, some women, some of the time)?

    I think it boils down to this (and I tend to agree with the complaint): the way women talk about nice guys (the non-creepy variety) suggests that that group is particularly attractive to women. Nothing individual; simply a suggestion that nice guys, as a group, should have more success than say ‘handsome guys’, or ‘sporty guys’, or ‘outgoing guys’ (note that intersections between the groups are not forbidden).

    Now, is that so?

    I don’t think it is. Not based on any philosophy or any large-scale statistics; simply observation. And I think most women, if pressed, will agree.

    Experiment: imagine that 100 nice guys are let loose, and another group of, say ‘handsome guys’, are also let loose. After one month or one year, which group will have had most success with women? Using objective criteria (number of, err, conquests, or long-term relationships, or dates, etc.).

    I will bet on the ‘handsome group’. And if pressed, I believe women will concur.

    How is that possible? ‘Nice guys’ are supposedly the bees’ knees with women: as a group, they should beat the ‘handsome guys’. And yet they don’t.

    I believe the explanation lies in the self-reporting. A woman will convince herself that her man, though handsome, is attractive because he is nice. And maybe he is indeed nice.

    But – and here come the killer – niceness is not a public characteristic. Whereas handsomeness is. In practical terms, this means that the handsome guy will be noticed when he walks into a bar, or any public place, or even at the office, but the nice guy will not. In order to ‘sell himself’ (can I say that?) a nice guy will have to make an effort, whereas the handsome guy will not – women will have noticed him and will therefore be more willing to engage in a conversation (at the bar, by the watercooler, etc.).

    In the same way that an ‘attractive’ women will have more ‘success’ than ‘nice’ women. (But that probably merits another thread!)

    A variant on the experiment: if 100 men (of all kinds) were offered a choice between being ‘nicer’ or ‘more handsome’ or ‘taller’ or ‘more athletic’, how do you think you choose to be ‘nicer’? 5? 10? Certainly not more.

    And why. Based on observation, they think that ‘niceness’ is not such a good thing.

    I shall now stop!

    • Posted June 29, 2012 at 3:17 am | Permalink

      “Nice Guys” or “Nice Guys ™” is a colloquialism that’s been around for years due to a lot of these types of people repeatedly stating things like “Women don’t date me because I’m too NICE! Women only want jerks who will treat them like crap” There’s a bit of sarcasm to it too, as these guys are never as nice as they seem to think they are.

      But I think I explained that the last time this subject was written about on here.

      The redhead or intelligent analogies don’t quite work because there doesn’t seem to be a plethora of guys claiming to be redheads (when they aren’t really) or intelligent (when they aren’t really) and believing that it entitles them to sex.

  2. Posted June 25, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    I like that you use the term “genuinely nice guys” as your distinguishing category. I feel safe, comfortable and appreciated by these “genuinely nice guys” whereas I have to question the motives of the “creepy nice guy.” Are they only nice to me because they want to get in my pants or are they just being nice? In my experience, if they have reached the point of creeping me out, they aren’t just being nice.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the Nice Guy Syndrome problem. I want to have debates with people who challenge me to reconsider my positions. I want to learn new things from people. If a guy is going to agree with everything I say, just because that’s what he thinks I want to hear, then I’m not interested. And of course there has to be physical attraction. I like what you wrote, “Are you attracted to every female friend that you have? Do you want to fuck every girl that you know?” There is more to attraction than personality, but that’s the same for everyone. So no, it’s not shallow to want to be attracted to your lover, and I don’t think a woman should be criticized for dating someone handsome.

    And sometimes, though there may not have been attraction to start off with, a “genuinely nice guy” can stir up those butterfly feelings, but it’s not because of the things he does or says to “be nice” to me, but who he is.

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