You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Where Have All the Nice Guys Go-o-one?

Posted in Miscellaneous, Sociology by Stacy McMahon on December 14, 2007

I claim that the title of this post is only tangentially ripping off the title of Dr. Helen’s post linking this smartly-worded blast from the LA Craiglist. The subject is the endless debate on whether flaky women or nice guys themselves are to blame for male-friend blues.

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.

From there flow a predictable and rather intractable set of arguments and counter-arguments. Having given a bit of thought to it myself over the years, I’ll start off saying that if we’re going to have a serious discussion, then right from the outset everyone needs to buy into the following:

[the platonic male friend] 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.

To make sure we’re on the same page, let’s break that down. The poster is talking about the proverbial “nice guy” who is his female friend-and-secret-crush’s shoulder to cry on, ready helper, best friend and fill-in non-date-on-a-moment’s-notice. He’s probably on the schlubby side physically, hopelessly shy (around women anyway) and has a heart of gold. He genuinely loves his female friend, but at the same time spending time with her is slowly working out that shyness. To put it another way, the clock is ticking every day that our heroine doesn’t notice her “puppy dog” (as the Craigslist writer put it)

Someday he’s going to “clean up his look” and be able to skillfully pursue the women he’s interested in, thanks in large part to the girl our Craigslist flamer is gleefully throwing under the bus. Once he does this, he’ll find that he is in fact getting laid, and that this seems quite paradoxically to be happening because he shows less, not more, devotion to the object of his affection. From that paradox comes much great art and music, but that’s beyond our scope here.

Instead, I’ll just quickly touch the state-of-the-art in today’s nice guy debate. The canonical counterpoint is that any self-described “nice guy” is really an unattractive wuss who’s ducking responsibility for his own failings by blaming the woman. There’s some truth to that. Another truth, contributed by my lovely wife, is that they’re both right — very few women, especially at younger ages — are able to tell the difference between confidence and arrogance or assholishness. But they really want a confident guy. And the nice guys want confident girls, which is why they’re attracted to their unobtainable female friend, as this HotAir commenter notes (no direct link; just scroll down a few pages):

Nice guys who befriend nice girls finish first, but nice guys who chase snotty conceited princess types will get their hearts broken every time.

A lot of well-adjusted nice guys fall into that trap — because the snotty conceited princesses appear at first blush to be smooth and confident, just like Chandler’s leather-jacketed alcoholics initially attract women with their cocky, carefree ways. I’ve counseled plenty of my buddies, including some women, to always keep in mind that the opposite sex are only human and not to assume that anything that goes wrong is their own fault — it’s probably the other person. In a way, that gets back to the Craigslist post’s premise. Assholes, of course, never blame themselves for anything. A big part of “confidence” is finding the sweet spot in the middle.

Insights like that get lost quickly though, in part because these debates are always well attended by “nice guys” like this:

“Women: Take note! Asian men treat Asian women like furniture, and Asian women look at American men like we’re gifts from summit of Mt. Fuji.

Hope you enjoy dating that two-timing, lying piece of human waste you call a boyfirend, because when the nice guys figure out how much Asian women LOVE US, you will be a long-forgotten memory.”

I don’t think that really needs a comment. Anyway, life is a learning process, and we can all take some comfort in that, as another commenter on Dr. Helen’s blog reminds us:

“why are you hanging around with a woman who has no romantic interest in you?”

Well, as someone who has been in the situation, I chalk it up to being young and stupid.

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4 Responses

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  1. Matt said, on December 16, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Great post….ahh, how many nights over the last 9-10 years did we spend having this very conversation, eh? I’ll have to bookmark that article just to remind myself of those things in the future. Of course, even though I work very hard not to be an asshole, I don’t think I can safely call myself a nice guy anymore either. I think I’m somewhere in the middle now, an “accidental asshole,” as I call it–I don’t mean to treat them badly or screw things up or (*gulp*) push too hard, but it happens nevertheless. Sure, maybe you and a few other people from our, uhh, shared past would say it’s just a severe lack of experience on my part, but I really dunno anymore. I’m old enough to better now, and I still occasionally do…well, you know. And another thing, congratulations once again on getting yourself one of the dozen or so good girls left remaining on Earth! 😉

  2. Clint said, on December 16, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    This doesn’t express the totality of how I feel about the whole of this post and all it’s comments, but in reasponse to this “asshole” business —

    I actually think being a *little* of an asshole can, in optimal cases, make you less of one. Politeness, cordiality, manners, and avoiding a fight can actually be damaging. The people who have their significant others leave and *never saw it coming* generally never did because issues were never brought up. Fights were never started. Annoyances were kept to oneself to avoid “not being an asshole”. Niceness can in some cases be a major flaw, and people who are pushovers that do not create a challenge can end up creating a false sense of security. It’s good to have a quick fight now and then. I hope there’s a point somewhere in this.

  3. Matt said, on December 16, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    Nah, Clint, you do raise a good point. I’ve had that experience, too. Whether it’s some woman I’m chasing after or just a friend, sometimes I’ll put up with a lot of shit from them for a long time without a word of complaint. Then some random day, something in my head will just snap. I’ll go off on them, and they’ll sit there with this amazed look on their face, and sometimes that changes things for the better, and sometimes it doesn’t because I’m dealing with a person that just can’t be reasoned with. Of course, as they say, with friends like that, who needs enemies…

  4. Nice Girl said, on September 15, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Sound like an awful lot of thought put into something so trivial. Wait….I can’t talk since I am posting on this Blag. But I digress. If you are so easily offended by something posted on Craiglist you should probably stay off the internet.

    But hey, I did like your detailed analysis. I love it when trolls get trolled.


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