The following deals with heterosexual relationships, since they’re the ones I can talk about with any sort of experience. I’m betting the principles apply to non-heterosexual relationships as well, though.
“Why do girls never date the nice guys? Why do they always date assholes?”
It’s a question you’ve probably heard before in your life. Most likely, it was asked by a guy who has deemed himself a “nice guy” and is frustrated over being single. In a rarer form, it could simply be spoken by a friend concerned by a female friend’s poor choice in significant other. Either way, though, the term “nice guy” is tainted in its rather unfortunately liberal use. It’s become meaningless and, in fact, has started to gain negative connotations.
Now, I understand where the complaints come from. There are people, men and women, that are in some rather terrible relationships. Sometimes, it’s because we don’t want to be alone. Sometimes, it’s because we have a low opinion of ourselves. “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Whatever the reason, there are several people that are trapped in bad relationships, relationships that can be emotionally, psychologically and/or physically abusive. I’m not psychologist, so I’m going going to get into why people do that, or why people stay in them, but it happens to nearly everyone that dates. The longer you date, the more likely it is to happen.
And I definitely understand it because, well, I’m practically a professional single man. I’ve had three relationships ever. My first, in the 9th grade, lasted three weeks. My second, my sophomore and junior years of high school, lasted one year, two months and three days. (It’s easy to count it up like that because my LiveJournal was QUITE clear about the day we started dating and even MORE clear about the day we broke up. And, yes, LiveJournal. This was 2004.) My third and final, which happened in post-college 2011, lasted two days short of two months. In all that down time where I was single, I got a lot of, “You’re a great friend” and “You’re a great guy” and “I would date you, but” and, my favorite, “You’re an amazing, wonderful person, but I’m not the right person for you. You’ll find someone.” Having had that one a few times, it’s getting tiresome.
So, yeah. I totally get it. You’re single, you don’t want to be, you think you’re actually a decent person and people keep telling you you’re a decent person and why won’t anyone ever give you a chance? What is it about you that’s wrong with you? Then you see some abusive jerk or inattentive douche with a great girl, together in a relationship that HAS to make her miserable, and you go, “How the hell does THAT guy have someone?”
Here’s problem number one with this obsession over “nice guy” v. “asshole.” It can very easily turn an actually nice guy into one. For example, this rather catchy song and music video, “Nice Guys,” by KevJumba and Ryan Higa. We’ve all heard that phrase, right? And there are so many “nice guys” that seem to continuously fail, right? And when you follow that line of thinking, you end up deciding, “If I’m a jerk, then that’s how I’ll get girls!” And that’s not where you want to end up.
Do you know why the assholes seem to get the girls? They have confidence. If there’s one thing you can say about an asshole, it’s that they’re confident. And, usually, they just don’t care. If you can take the confidence, but keep the caring, you can work that to your advantage. If you can be a genuinely nice person, and a confident person, that can help. …this is, of course, do as I say, not as I do. Confidence isn’t the easiest thing to muster up, but it’s better than treating people like crap. Not to mention, it leads to massive stereotypes.
This whole post was basically spurred on by a Twitter exchange earlier today. Danielle Corsetto, artist for the webcomic Girls With Slingshots, was trying to figure out where this whole “Girls date assholes” thing comes from. And she’s brought up the whole “nice guy” thing before in her webcomic. Look what happens when you start to paint with a wide brush.
The second problem with the whole “nice guy” thing is painting with a wide brush… on yourself. Letting yourself mask your faults and say, “I’m a nice guy.” I used to do that. I used to think, “I’m a good friend. I listen to people’s problems. I’m caring and compassionate.” Now, I don’t do that. I realize, I’m screwed up. I have the potential to hurt people, whether I want to or not. At one time, my best friend and I started exploring the possibility of being a couple. My being in love with her certainly didn’t help. When she called things off to be with another guy (a guy that I actually don’t think is an asshole, but rather was afraid she’d pick over me because he’s essentially perfect, particularly for her), my emotions got ahead of me. I hurt her. In my pain, I caused her pain. And as things continued to fall apart, I became the villain of the story, without ever meaning to do anything harmful. Her friends and she agree that I’m the the bad guy. As do I, now. And where are we now? From talking every week, often multiple times, to talking maybe once in a while, with that while steadily growing to two, three, four-plus weeks. To where she doesn’t even consider us friends anymore.
If you let yourself get caught up in your own “I’m nice” mentality, you might not be able to stop yourself and recognize when you’re doing things wrong. You might lose something or someone intensely important to you. Speaking from experience, you don’t want that.
So, here’s my advice: Stop calling yourself a nice guy. Let the people around you decide if you’re nice. Let the women you want to be with decide that. Instead of trying to be a nice guy, or trying to be who you think they want to date, be yourself. And be confident. And maybe, just maybe, you can be a nice guy that doesn’t finish last. Otherwise, you might end up alone and giving advice from your own life’s mistakes that you’ll never be able to take. And who wants to be THAT guy?
But, seriously. This “nice guy” thing? Let’s all just let it go. Being a nice guy for the sake of getting laid or dating someone isn’t really being a nice guy. Let being yourself just be nice.