The Problem With “Nice Guys”

I always appreciate it when a topic for an article happens to fall into my lap. It saves me all of the time and anxiety that comes with writing a thrice-weekly column that usually culminates with the 3 AM insomnia-inducing panic that leads to my brain screaming “I HAVE RUN OUT OF IDEAS!” as I try to force inspiration into my face through judicious prescriptions of Macallan from my good friend Dr. Whiskey all the while cursing my laptop for betraying me by not magically producing the pages that the DMT elves promised me.

 

In fairness, that really only happens every other day…

In this case, the kernel of an article came to me via Twitter as one of my readers linked me to a post on Tumblr with a rant and blistering response between a “Nice Guy” and one of the many women who bought into the “Nice Guy” schtick. The issue of the “Nice Guy” is one that is close to my cold, mercenary heart if only because I’ve spent so much time in that mindset and every “I’ve been friendzoned” rant brings familiar echoes of ones that I wrote myself and broadcast to the uncaring world wide web – ones that fortunately have been lost to the universe, never to be seen again1

As much as the issue of the Nice Guy forever continues to rise, phoenix-like from the ashes of self-destructing friendships, as someone who has been there, done that and literally printed the t-shirt (another college experiment that has been destroyed) I feel the need to educate my Nice Guy brethren as to just what the big fucking problem is with the Nice Guy world view and just why it’s so goddamn toxic.

 It’s Fundamentally Dishonest

Let’s start with the most obvious issue here: the supposed “Nice Guy” is a liar from start to finish.

A Nice Guy traditionally finds himself in the Friend Zone in one of two ways: either he asks someone out and gets the Let’s Just Be Friends speech or else he never asks her out in the first place. Either way, he strikes up a friendship with her instead – a friendship that is, at it’s core, predicated on her eventually realizing what a great guy he his, how he has all these amazing sides to him that she just has never seen before and that he’s actually pants-wettingly sexy. The Nice Guy spends his time trying to be as close to his designated crush as possible – after all, the more time he gets to spend with her, the more opportunities she gets to recognize his inner stud-muffin. He goes out of his way to do nice things for his “friend”, earns her trust and her confidence, provides a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen with…

… which is all well and good if he were being a genuine friend to her.

He is not.

All of this attention is done, not with the desire to support his friend but to ingratiate her to him. He’s engaging in what is, for all intents and purposes, a transactional relationship or a particularly grind-y MMO quest line. In his mind, by acting like her friend –  doing her favors, spending time with her, giving her emotional support at times when her real boyfriend is acting like a raging asshole – he’s collecting as many pork-asses as he possibly can until the end of the quest when she breaks up with her boyfriend and he can trade all of those hard-earned pork-asses in for a relationship… or at least one night of vulnerability-induced sex and an incredibly awkward morning after full of regrets and mint-schnapps-flavored vomit.

Then there’s the “don’t blow your load early” quicktime event…

All this would be bad enough if she were the only person he were lying to.

Unfortunately, she isn’t. Y’see, the “Nice Guy” is also lying to himself.

Check any of the many “I’ve been friend-zoned” or “Nice Guy” rants on Facebook or Reddit or Tumblr – no, seriously, go ahead. I’ll wait – and you’ll see a recurring pattern: “She doesn’t want a nice guy, she only wants those assholes who treat her better. She needs to be dating me, I actually respect her!”

No son. No you really don’t.

The “Nice Guy” has usually bought into the lies that he’s peddling: that he’s really being a good friend to her, that he respects her in ways her asshole boyfriends don’t, that his love for her is a purer, more deserving love than anyone else she might know.

Except of course he isn’t, he doesn’t and quite frankly, he’s probably not really in love with her anyway. A true friend doesn’t make his relationship with a person conditional to the idea that some day – maybe not today, but some day soon – that person is obligated to fall in love (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) with him.

Moreover, he continues to lie to himself because, quite frankly, most Nice Guys know how their lust-object feels about them. Now to be fair, confessing your love for someone can be absurdly intimidating; after all, you are deliberately making yourself vulnerable to rejection. However, the Nice Guy may dress his hesitancy up as a failure of courage but deep down he knows exactly why he’s not going to say anything: because as soon as he does, the illusion is ruined. All of the Nice Guy Points he’s accumulated drain away along with the fantasy that he might wear her down to the point that she would give in and he’s forced to acknowledge the ugly truth that it’s just never going to happen. At this point, the Nice Guy has two options: continue to hang around knowing that he never stands a chance or to run away.

Small wonder most Nice Guys choose to run away and complain about it on their social networks instead.

Welcome To The (Pity) Party, Pal!

The inevitable end result of the “Nice Guy”‘s relationship with his supposed friend is tragedy – at least as far as the Nice Guy is concerned. Either the Nice Guy sees an opportunity and makes his move – and gets shot down –  or his crush gets a new boyfriend; this is usually seen as the last straw for the Nice Guy. This event is celebrated in the manner traditional to the Nice Guy’s people: blowing up at the object of his affection for her “betrayal” of him or a long and often embarrassing rant on the Internet all about the perfidy of womankind.

Allow me to present you with an actual Nice Guy rant, as posted to Craigslist in 2007:

I see this question posted with some regularity in the personals section, so I thought I’d take a minute to explain things to the ladies out there that haven’t figured it out.

What happened to all the nice guys?

The answer is simple: you did.

See, if you think back, really hard, you might vaguely remember a Platonic guy pal who always seemed to want to spend time with you. He’d tag along with you when you went shopping, stop by your place for a movie when you were lonely but didn’t feel like going out, or even sit there and hold you while you sobbed and told him about how horribly the (other) guy that you were fucking treated you.

At the time, you probably joked with your girlfriends about how he was a little puppy dog, always following you around, trying to do things to get you to pay attention to him. They probably teased you because they thought he had a crush on you. Given that his behavior was, admittedly, a little pathetic, you vehemently denied having any romantic feelings for him, and buttressed your position by claiming that you were “just friends.” Besides, he totally wasn’t your type. I mean, he was a little too short, or too bald, or too fat, or too poor, or didn’t know how to dress himself, or basically be or do any of the things that your tall, good-looking, fit, rich, stylish boyfriend at the time pulled off with such ease.

Eventually, your Platonic buddy drifted away, as your relationship with the boyfriend got more serious and spending time with this other guy was, admittedly, a little weird, if you werent dating him. More time passed, and the boyfriend eventually cheated on you, or became boring, or you realized that the things that attracted you to him weren’t the kinds of things that make for a good, long-term relationship. So, now, you’re single again, and after having tried the bar scene for several months having only encountered players and douche bags, you wonder, “What happened to all the nice guys?”

Well, once again, you did.

You ignored the nice guy. You used him for emotional intimacy without reciprocating, in kind, with physical intimacy. You laughed at his consideration and resented his devotion. You valued the aloof boyfriend more than the attentive “just-a-” friend. Eventually, he took the hint and moved on with his life. He probably came to realize, one day, that women aren’t really attracted to guys who hold doors open; or make dinners just because; or buy you a Christmas gift that you mentioned, in passing, that you really wanted five months ago; or listen when you’re upset; or hold you when you cry. He came to realize that, if he wanted a woman like you, he’d have to act more like the boyfriend that you had. He probably cleaned up his look, started making some money, and generally acted like more of an asshole than he ever wanted to be.

Fact is, now, he’s probably getting laid, and in a way, your ultimate rejection of him is to thank for that. And I’m sorry that it took the complete absence of “nice guys” in your life for you to realize that you missed them and wanted them. Most women will only have a handful of nice guys stumble into their lives, if that.

So, if you’re looking for a nice guy, here’s what you do:

1.) Build a time machine.
2.) Go back a few years and pull your head out of your ass.
3.) Take a look at what’s right in front of you and grab ahold of it.

I suppose the other possibility is that you STILL don’t really want a nice guy, but you feel the social pressure to at least appear to have matured beyond your infantile taste in men. In which case, you might be in luck, because the nice guy you claim to want has, in reality, shed his nice guy mantle and is out there looking to unleash his cynicism and resentment onto someone just like you.

If you were five years younger.

So, please: either stop misrepresenting what you want, or own up to the fact that you’ve fucked yourself over. You’re getting older, after all. It’s time to excise the bullshit and deal with reality. You didn’t want a nice guy then, and he certainly doesn’t fucking want you, now.

Sincerely,
A Recovering Nice Guy

So while I’m sure the whining felt good to get off his chest at the time, it’s also a great big insight into just what’s going through a Nice Guy’s head. Here’s a hint: it’s “ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME ME MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME”. In ira veritas, after all.

The entire rant says exactly two things:

1) How dare you like someone who is not me?

2) You owe me for all the time and effort I put into you.

There isn’t a word about her needs, her desires or feelings except as how they relate to the Nice Guy. The insinuation that she must have had feelings for him but reused to acknowledge them, the unfairness of not being attracted to him just because he doesn’t look anything like the people you’re usually attracted to. This is the person who was supposed to be her friend – except this was evidently a friendship where “emotional intimacy” is supposed to be reciprocated with access to her body.

Entitlement issues, much?

How much do you want to wager that this “Nice Guy” neglected to mention that particular aspect of his friendship to his “friend”?

It’s ironic that the Nice Guy complains about having been “used” by the object of his crush, considering that he all but admits that he was using her trust and affection for him as a means to try to fuck her. But again: it’s not about her. It’s about him and his complete abdication of responsibility for the situation he’s found himself in. It isn’t his fault that he’s bitter and resentful, it’s her. It’s all her fault that he’s now forced – forced, I tell you! – to be an asshole against his will and to unleash his cynicism2 on the faces of the young, more attractive3 women he’s now compelled to seek out.

Of course, when a Nice Guy dumps a screed like this online, he’s doing so knowing that there will be other Nice Guys out there eager to pat him on the back and commiserate about how evil women are and how much it sucks that Nice Guys like them can’t get a break. After all, the Internet loves a Nice-Guy-done-been-wronged story; witness the ongoing love for the patron saint of Nice Guys.

Fucking Duckie. John Hughes knew not what he wrought when he unleashed his creation upon the world.

The more Nice Guys bitch and moan on the Internet to their fellow travelers, the more it validates their ongoing persecution complex that they’re the victims in this equation. There’s nothing like an Internet circle-jerk of sadness to reinforce the idea that somehow it’s unfair for women to stubbornly refuse to reward being a friend by giving up the pussy.

It's a pity party and all of the Internet is invited!

It’s a pity party and all of the Internet is invited!

Look At It From Her Perspective

You hear from the Nice Guys on a regular basis about how bitches ain’t shit, but it’s not very often that attention is paid to the woman’s side of things. After all, it’s worth remembering that there are two people involved in this situation. More if you want to include everyone involved in posting memes in the Nice Guy rants on Reddit.

"Sorry, couldn't hear you over our pity party."

“Sorry, couldn’t hear you over our pity party.”

This is one of the things that I especially liked about the Tumblr post: the reminder that while the Nice Guy is busy getting back-pats for unleashing torrents of butthurt, there’s a young woman out there who’s feeling confused and hurt when she found out that someone she trusted, someone she thought she could confide in and rely on was wondering how long he was going to have to put up with this emotional shit before she let him get to second base.

As horrible as the woman’s “betrayal” may be for the Nice Guy, it’s worse for the person he’d been lying to; she’s not the one who accepted the offer of friendship under false pretenses, whose honest response of “I don’t feel that way about you” is met with a torrent of abuse, in person and online. She allowed herself to trust him, to share secrets and fears, to make herself emotionally vulnerable only to find out that he’s just trying to collect fuck-points. Meanwhile he’s the one getting the sympathy and support while she’s reviled for being a dumb castrating bitch who deserves the misery she will surely get when she realizes how much of a prize she missed out on.

I get that rejection hurts; I’ve been rejected more times than I can count and I’ve got the wangsty emo LiveJournal posts to prove it. But the Nice Guy’s self-involvement denies the fact that someone else has been hurt in this self-inflicted drama – and she’s been cast as the villain through no fault of her own.

Side note: yes, there are people out there who are users and manipulators. The fact that assholes exist does not change the fact that the Nice Guy is a shitty person for trying to hold onto a friendship only so he could fuck someone. And I say this as someone who has been The Nice Guy several times.

What’s Wrong With Friendship Anyway?

Now, I will be the first to admit that there’s a certain level of irony inherent when someone who teaches guys how to escape the Friend Zone talks shit about guys who hope to do just that – but as I like to point out, ending up in the Friend Zone is a matter of choice. You aren’t held there against your will – after all, you could always be honest and walk away instead of pretending that you’re happy to be there.

The inherent message of the Nice Guy complaining about being Friend-Zoned is that there’s something lesser about friendship – that it’s a consolation prize for not getting his dick sucked on the regular. And yet he’s willing to fake an interest in friendship in hopes of finding the back door to your front-door if you know what I mean.

(I mean vagina.)

To most people, friendship is an awesome thing; close friends are your family by choice, after all. They’re the people who help you move, you support you when you’re down, the people you have fun with, share the good times with…

But to a Nice Guy, this isn’t friendship. This is going above-and-beyond, at least when the friend involved gives you boners and politely ignores it when she catches you staring at her tits. Again.

The Nice Guy wants extra credit and applause for doing what anyone else would think of as “part of being a friend”, and as my mom has said to me more than once, if you want applause for doing your job, learn to fucking juggle.

Treating friendship as the crappy substitute says everything about how much the Nice Guy really values the woman he professes to care about… and a lot about himself. Just as women aren’t obligated to fall in love with you just because you really want it, neither are you forced to stick around if that’s not what you want. It may be a little cold-blooded to say “No, thank you, that’s not the relationship I want with you,” but it’s a damn sight more respectful and honest than sticking around because you’re willing to put up with it in exchange for the vague chance of fucking her in the future. Sticking around – knowing that there’s no chance – is just self-inflicted martyrdom in the name of the bullshit idea that attraction and friendship are somehow mutually exclusive.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

It doesn’t take much to avoid being a Nice Guy – just some basic honesty, integrity, a little bit of courage and a willingness to treat women as people instead of an obstacle course that leads to pussy. It’s better in general – both in the short term and the long term – to be up front with your attraction and your intent. There’s nothing shameful in wanting to sleep with someone, only in the way you go about trying to achieve it.

 

Even in practical terms, it’s far better to fess up early and, if necessary, move on. Those months or years you spend as a Nice Guy, pining after someone you’ll never sleep with could be better spent finding someone you will hook up with.

I spent far more time as the Nice Guy than I care to think about, and I know for a fact that I hurt some people very badly because of the way I treated them. Once I matured enough to get over the idea that the way to a woman’s heart (or vagina) was to pretend to be her friend and wait until I ground her down, I learned how to appreciate that just because I wanted to fuck her didn’t mean that I couldn’t still be a genuine friend – or that an attraction to someone had to be consummated at all costs.

If she’s cool enough for you to want to sleep with her, odds are good that she’s cool enough to be an awesome friend too – and if that’s all that it’s going to be, then that’s fine. There will be other women who are just as awesome… and she may well be the one to introduce you to them.

  1. And while I’m tempting fate, I would like to say that God has shitty aim. []
  2. And, y’know, his backed-up semen []
  3. Extra points for an “and you’re ugly too!” stinger []