Friday, May 9, 2014

Nice Guys: Fact and Fiction

According to the dictionary, "nice" is defined as "pleasant, agreeable, or satisfactory".  A "guy" is defined as "a man".  So, together a "nice guy" is a "pleasant/agreeable/satisfactory man".  There doesn't seem to be anything terrible or loaded in that definition, at least in my opinion.

Why am I going through this whole exercise?  Well, to their great credit The Good Men Project published an article on their site written by a self proclaimed "nice guy" who had decided to become less than "nice" because he was dissatisfied with his life as said nice guy.  It's a well written article, and if you're someone who doesn't mind reading about someone else's heartbreak and pain, I highly recommend giving it a read.

My usual take on nice guys vs bad boys (or however you wish to call the dichotomy) is that I've met quite a few seemingly nice guys who have had no problems getting into relationships with women.  These guys generally run the gamut of looks, money, and style so it's not like they're compensating for their niceness with some other quality.  But while some nice guys do struggle to get dates and get into relationships, very few "bad boys" struggle to do so.  If you really were sitting on the fence as to whether or not to be nice or bad, it makes much more sense to be bad.  I know it sounds terrible but I think reality bears that out.

Some of the responses though, both in the comments and in other articles online (like this one on the same website) seem to fundamentally misunderstand the nice guy lament.  They misunderstand why some men are nice guys, and misunderstand why they're upset.

Most men my age were taught growing up that if you were a nice person (meaning you treated strangers with respect, you didn't kill kittens, didn't take other people's stuff, didn't do mean things to others, etc.) that for the most and with rare exception you would receive the same treatment in return and would attract similar people into your life (both friends and lovers).  In regards to dating in particular, women who wanted meaningful, long term relationships, who were kind and interesting individuals wanted those same traits in the men they date and eventually marry.  Sure, some women might prefer the guy with a leather jacket and a Harley who gets drunk every night, but you don't want to date those kinds of women.  You want the other kind, the kind that likes that you are responsible and don't harm others, yet still funny and interesting.

It makes sense because the nice guy is trading the short term benefits of being a bad guy for the long term benefits of being nice.  There are true benefits to being a selfish asshole, but like the benefits of eating junk food while watching TV on the couch, they tend to be short term.  Eventually things catch up to you.

Unfortunately, sometimes the logic doesn't add up.  Sometimes there isn't any long term payoff to being nice.  And you were a chump for believing there was.  You were a chump for believing that it was better to go home early because you had work at 7 am, instead of staying out partying.  You were a chump for calling her at a reasonable hour instead of at 3 am for a booty call.  All of that stuff about nice women liking nice guys was horseshit to get you to feel better.

It's not a transaction. Nice guys aren't upset because women aren't video game machines at an arcade where they do whatever you want as long as you insert enough "nice" coins.  They're upset because like apparently doesn't attract like.

The great irony in this is that the guys who do view it as a transaction, they aren't the nice guys, and they definitely aren't the nice guys complaining via eloquent online opinion pieces.  It's likely the guys who write the articles are guys you never even gave a second thought to.  In fact if they didn't write these musings, you'd probably have never even known they existed.

And they're certainly not being rejected for being "boring".  Unless not in the way that you're thinking.  When most people use the word "boring" as a pejorative they're usually implying that the person does nothing all day except watch TV or post on the internet without any other interests, hobbies, or activities and so when they go on dates they have nothing to talk about.  In reality "boring" is a subjective term.  There are lots of things I find boring that you reader might find extremely exciting and entertaining, and vice versa.  Does that make you or I "boring"?  I don't think so.  These guys aren't being rejected for being boring; very few people are boring to the point of turning off every single romantic partner they ever had.  That's a little extreme here.
So what does this all mean?  I don't know.  It's hard to argue with the facts as presented.  Lots of seemingly great guys with lots to offer are finding a tough market for what they're selling.  Lots of guys with seemingly no future and plenty of bad qualities are snatched up faster than Silly Bandz in the summer of 2010.

I don't know what's happening for sure, and I don't know how to fix it.  But it kind of scares me.

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