Nice guys finish last. We’ve all heard the oh so sad story. Women want bad boys, we want charisma, we want edgy and thrilling. We want Mickey Rourke, growling up on his bike and throwing us up against the alley wall in the wild rain, making brick wall sex look, well, doable if not natural. We want men who as part of their wild thrill filled mystique will inevitably leave us in the greasy dirt, hanging on to scraps, crumbs, the leg of their new chaps. Crying into tissues, restaurant napkins, the actual sleeves of —you guessed —the nice guys. Sniffle sniffle. Honk.
But this week, let’s take the Mickey’s out of the limelight for a hot minute and turn our attention to Mr. Nice guy and what he is all about. Because here is the thing. Mr. Nice guy is not always, drumroll, wait for it, so nice. Sometimes “nice guys” and the sad story they wave around like a department store credit card, are not actually what they seem to be. Sometimes there are actual, solid, valid, and very WISE reasons why we don’t want to get involved with the nice guy. Sometimes NICE isn’t actually so nice.
What does that even mean, Erin? Aren’t we all in training to choose nice? And if not nice, is there anyone left? Can I only date medium guys? Is there a litmus test? Are you selling it? Can I get a ten pack?
Well Friend, slow your roll, slow your roll. What this means is that so often I have women confessing to me as though I was a Priestess behind a black curtain, their terrible horrible deep down secret sinful aversion to nice guys. “It must be my past. I must be self sabotaging. Maybe I like the drama. Maybe it’s my fear of intimacy. Maybe he’s just like my father.” Well of course PATTERNS ARE A THING. I can help with them. But today, I want to help you right now and in this very moment, get a little closer to your Spidey senses, and a little less quick to blame your aversion to the nice guy on your muddy soul and Great Great Grandpapa.
Sometimes ‘nice’ is a moniker for the dis-empowered man. It is a BIG HUGE RED FLAG alerting us to the manipulator who chooses to hide behind acts of do-gooding. I do something kindly or charitable, but I don’t do it with sincerity but as something of an emotional tax shelter, so that I can be the good guy, sympathetic, while I don’t show up in a meaningful way romantically and blame women for not choosing poor little old me. We’ve all met this kind of man. We applaud his humility, but he isn’t humble, he is playing the long game. He expects that we should all fall to his knees because he has taken care of his mother, or donated to the orphans, or because he is the quiet guy in the corner at the bar who isn’t peacocking. When we really TUNE IN to this kind of vibe it’s pretty gross. It’s like an attention grab disguised as a wave of “Oh, who, me, no aww shucks”. It’s desperate and yucky and attention seeking. He drops good deeds faster than a social climber drops the Kardashians.
Sometimes nice is there to disorient us, red fish us away from unacceptable behaviour. “But I helped her in her garden, I washed her car”, glossing over the twenty jealous texts when she was out with her girlfriend.
Sometimes it is used to create a reputation of moral upstandingness in a community, to mask a deeper pathology. A diplomatic immunity if you will. You see this in men (and all genders) with positions of power, the Emperor’s Syndrome, where no one can afford to question your integrity and they get behind your nice guy story with pom poms for fear of either your wrath, or losing your hand out, or generally going against the confused populace.
Or an excuse…I run around manically buying you flowers you don’t care for and lining up my list of kindnesses so as to avoid or cover up for my unwillingness to address your fundamental needs or concerns in a relationship or dating scenario.
“Nice guys” let’s call them FAKE Nice Guys, or FNG’s operate on a spectrum of “aww shucks who me” to downright entitlement and even aggression. They blame their “luck” on women’s pathology. They can use the facade to mask inappropriate behaviour; to cover for a lack of confidence; to obscure emotional avoidance; to blame for lack of initiative or follow through. For expectations that “niceness” entitles them to attention, gratitude, involvement or even sex.
If I NICE ALL OVER YOU, then you should put out, put up, date me or revere me.
Yes, WE ALL want to feel good about our good deeds. But we don’t want to use them to manipulate another’s romantic response to us. When we are healthy we want genuine connection. We want our date to be intrigued, fascinated, even a healthy interest is a good start. We want equal and reciprocal. If we have to BEND them toward us, we don’t want it, it feels cheap and artificial.
The actual position of the FNG, is “I deserve or earn your attention by my behaviour whether you want it or not”. It is inherently harassing.
FNG Syndrome power trips. It controls. It harasses.
FNGS objectifies. It makes YOU (recipient of any gender) a commodity that can be earned by points on the good deeds card.
Sometimes FNGS manifests as the man who is nice in his career, or great as a bud, wreaking devastation as a romantic partner and expecting a free pass on that.
A bulletin from up above: THERE ARE NO FREE PASSES AND NICENESS IS NOT TRANSFERABLE. If you bought Bob lunch that does not mean you can treat Karen like dirt.
If you save lives all day long, that does not give you a pass inside Karen’s britches. Neither does the round you bought the bar. And buying Karen jewelry doesn’t mean you can objectify her, which you are doing the second you expect her to tolerate your disrespect, your manipulation, your avoidance, your infidelity, your mistreatment or your abuse in trade.
AND ALL OF THIS is not to say there aren’t genuine KIND and HUMBLE men out there. Who don’t have an agenda. Who want to be appreciated, but don’t have a manipulative bone in their body.
How do you spot them? Well you LIKE them. Because they aren’t making the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and your senses get all she-wolf. You feel safe with them. You aren’t questioning your sanity or your anger or your revulsion or your frustration five minutes inside of the gate.
I’m not angry at FNG’s. I even know some actual REAL LIFE FAKE NICE GUYS, or misguided guys who don’t know how to fix their shit and desperately want some kind of positive feedback from a world that imposes a shitty bullying model of masculinity upon us wee humans. I KNOW why you fake it. Because the World has set you up for failure, truly. Because it’s painted you in a corner where you need to outdo and out-compete and feel nothing doing it, and by you I mean all of us, because you can’t be in it and not be part of it, and you can’t fix part of it and not all of it, and you don’t want to. I’d much rather you feel confident, and able to be respected for what and who you are, to feel worthy and stop hiding behind your cloak of good deeds. The best way to outsmart the enemy is to save him from himself.
So what is the alternative? It’s not actually a gym pass and a motorcycle.
Turns out it is being real. Brave. Honest. Sharing from the beating red heart in your chest, even if it takes MOFO courage to do it. Learning to love and respect the inner you, so you can stop hiding already.
Entitlement is gross. No matter how you slice it, or which side of the pendulum you swing to.
What is ACTUALLY nice???
Actual niceness is without agenda. Or without trying to be without agenda. Actual nice guys are not pouting in their beer about the women who don’t appreciate their niceness.
Listen. I know it’s hard. But you aren’t going to win the war or the game with all of the reasons why it was unfair.
And you know what? Your entitlement won’t get you there either. Your amazing prowess or celebrity won’t make you a catch. It won’t make you subject to your own set of rules that escape ethical considerations. If you think you want to lead with your wallet, to skim the surface; to have women choosing you for the bag you will buy them, or the surgery you will afford them, please know that YOU DESERVE BETTER. You won’t have affection or love; you will have an arrangement. And you can tell me you want this until the COWS COME HOME, but I won’t believe that at the end of the long long day, you really want this. Because I know what it looks like when THIS wears off. And if you treat anyone along the way like they should suffer your shit because you are “successful” then you will have nothing more than an ARRANGEMENT. You’ll be a big gun, but you won’t be an equal, and you won’t be loved as one.
Being nice doesn’t make you a catch any more than being an asshole makes you sexy.
If you feel like a victim in relationship, if you feel excluded from meaningful romantic connection, then that is something to look at, regardless of how you got there. It may seem easier to pitch yourself a story, it may seem easier to hide, but you don’t want a plaque on the pavement in Pleasantville. You want REAL respect and love and to get that you have to come out of hiding.
This doesn’t mean you have to stop saving kittens from trees in your dungarees and muscles. Duh. It doesn’t mean you can’t like a little attention or validation or appreciation. We aren’t really wired to be secret Santas. This isn’t a competition for who can be the most altruistic. Don’t even get me started on that GARBAGE.
But don’t trade NICE on the emotional stock market.
Don’t hide behind it.
Don’t use it to blame or mistreat.
Don’t expect a woman to want it and then disparage her because she doesn’t.
You have something GOLDEN in there and infinitely loveable. Find that instead.
If you hear the victim song singing in your ear, it probably means that you have believed in a lie, and that there is a better path, that we need to get you off the Mickey Rourke Mickey Mouse pendulum and on your way to feeling worthy, confident in your ability to be a solid partner, respected and loved, and even sexy in your britches.
We need to leave the wild rainstorm brick wall sex to the professionals and grow you a little growl on the inside.
Wouldn’t that be NICE?
— Love Erin
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