I have a little story for you. It’s a story that’s probably all-too-familiar to a lot of you, but I’m guessing you haven’t heard it from this perspective as of yet.
So, I had this friend. A guy-friend. He was smart, fit, relatively wealthy, helpful, thoughtful, quietly charming, and possessed of a fabulously dry sense of humor. All in all, a very nice guy.
We spent most of our waking hours together, and pretty much everyone assumed we were dating.
Instead, he was the one I talked to about the cute guy who flirted with me in Philosophy class, or the guy who was PERFECT for me but already had a girlfriend, or the player who rocked my world and never called again. He was the one who came driving up in his shining Toyota Camry to rescue me when the chain came off of my bike on my way home from the grocery store. Who brought me a thermos of hot soup when I’d been in class all day and had to go straight to play rehearsal with no break. Who helped me move. Three times.
That is, until…
There’s always an “until” in lop-sided relationship like this. Now, at the time, I didn’t see it that way. I thought I had won the friend lottery. I mean, he did all that and never asked for a damn thing: what a sweet guy! In retrospect, I realize that by making his help and company available all the time without asking for anything in return, he devalued it. That’s just basic economics.
In my case, the “until” came when he’d had a few beers, and showed up on my doorstep to tell me off. He said a lot of things that night, none of them easy to hear, but two things caught my ear:
1. He told me that he had only gone out with “Samantha” in the hopes that it would make me jealous, and that he dumped her, over the phone, the morning after I let him stay over (because it was snowing).
2. Something of this ilk: “Why do you insist on sleeping with these assholes, when I’m right here, always there for you, just waiting for you to wake up and realize that I’m your soul mate?”
Rather than waking me up to our soul-matedness, what his sloppy confession made me realize was:
A. He had broken the heart of innocent-bystander Samantha (who was quite lovely, BTW) just to get a rise out of me.
B. He had been completely dishonest with me about the nature of our relationship, and his feelings for me, from the beginning. And he thought little enough of my taste to refer to *everyone* I dated as an asshole.
That was the end of our “friendship.”
Why did this “nice guy” finish last?
It *wasn’t* because:
– Kindness isn’t sexy (it is)
– No good deed goes unpunished (there are plenty of clichés to counter this one, among them “goodness is its own reward”)
– Women are all a bunch of masochists (we’re not)
So why do women always end up breaking the hearts of Nice Guys (TM) and giving the best years of their lives to Bad Boys (TM) (read: assholes)?
Because, in reality, they don’t.
Now, it may seem that way from the perspective of a guy like the one in my story. But I have some important news for the self-labeled “Nice Guys” in the crowd:
Nice Guy vs. Bad Boy is a false dichotomy. In other words, these are concepts that are pitted against one another when in reality they are not opposites. They aren’t even real. They are convenient labels that men apply to themselves and the guys who are sleeping with the women they want.
People have desires, men and women. To try and dictate what those desires should be is not nice. It is invalidating and disrespectful.
Take the “Nice Guy” who tells a woman that “just friends” is just fine, when in reality he is simply waiting less-than-patiently for her to open up the gates of pants paradise. He believes he is justified because “Women should want [nice] guys like him.” But, there are a lot of people, myself included, who think this misleading behavior is anything but “nice.” Manipulative? Yes. Passive Aggressive? You bet. Cowardly? Boy howdy. But “nice”? Hardly.
“But wait” (some of you are probably thinking), “I thought you said not to show interest at first! Isn’t that ‘misleading?’ You know, be desireless and all that.”
Oh good, you *have* been paying attention! But here’s what you’re not getting: “at first” means until you have sufficiently piqued her interest to the point where she starts to show interest in you.
It’s a basic rule that the socially intelligent understand to the core of their being and animals live by: “That which retreats is chased and that which chases is retreated from.” So if she doesn’t show interest in you? You retreat from her. You MOVE ON. You don’t stand around like her valet, waiting for a chance to hold her shopping bags in hopes that she’ll toss you some sugar like it’s some kind of tip. That’s as creepy as it is ineffective.
If you want to buy sex, take a trip to Reno. Or Amsterdam. You can’t, and shouldn’t, purchase sex from a woman with acts of kindness. It’s demeaning to the whole concept of friendship.
Meanwhile, BE DESIRELESS means exactly that. BE. Don’t simply ACT desireless or cleverly disguise a desperate desire to be with a woman as a casual inclination to be pals. Meaning: you need to get to the point where you are happy enough with your own life, and comfortable enough entertaining yourself, that you don’t NEED anything from these women. YOU have something to offer THEM, and if they aren’t ready to accept it, that’s their loss.
In retrospect, I realize I was, in fact, taking advantage of my “friendship” with the Nice Guy in question. I allowed him to spend more time and energy on me than I was willing to expend on him, or on our relationship. If I were his dating coach instead of his love interest, I would’ve advised him to get that girl to show interest in him by being valuable (not devaluing himself by making all his support totally available at no cost) and being fun (by creating tension in addition to comfort). If he had, he and I might have made a lovely couple.
So, why do “Nice Guys” finish last?
Because instead of racing, they stand along the sidelines, waiting for someone to hand them a medal.
But worse than that, they hurt people. Themselves, mostly, but also the women they are “friends” with and the women they use to bait, and then to try and get over, these “friends” when it becomes clear that that’s all they will ever be.
That said, I do recognize that they do all this with the very best of intentions. If I am harsh here it’s because I love these well-intentioned, often-hurt fellas, and want them to get out of this harmful pattern NOW. I want them to start owning what they want, and to recognize that giving away their valuable time, energy, help, companionship, etc., for free is NOT the way to get it.
In short: I want them to WIN their own medal. And to realize they don’t have to stop being nice in order to do it.