My name is Ozy, and I was a Nice Girl ™.
I had tangled, unbrushed hair that fell limply to my shoulders; my skin was a pizza crust of acne; my glasses were unflattering; I wore stained and torn clothes. I slouched and spoke in monosyllables. I’d spent the last fourteen years reading instead of learning to socialize, which meant that I was familiar with the complete works of Plato, but not with the fact that other people were not interested in the complete works of Plato. In middle school, I’d had my first major bout of depression, which meant that I was too busy not killing myself to have friends. In fact, I spent several days in middle school without saying a single word to anyone and once was invited to a sleepover by a girl who forgot that I was coming and went over to her friend’s house instead.
In short, as high school began, I was ugly, depressed, and about a decade behind on social skills. I outline this not to incur sympathy but simply to explain where I’m coming from. When I talk about creepy people and Nice Guys ™, I talk about myself.
High school began with rather more social success: I was forcibly befriended by a cheerful, outgoing girl who liked vampire novels and bad TV. I trailed along behind her like a shadow to sleepovers, parties, water polo. In exchange for tagging along during her entire social life, I gave her unswerving loyalty in the face of all the complicated friendship dramas of high school.
Although at that point I had figured out I was queer, I went to Catholic school; a friend’s sister, when told a girl had a crush on her, said that “lezzies are disgusting.” So the only option for sex (and I did want sex—I have always been very high sex-drive, and masturbating to slash fanfic was getting old) was for me to get A Boyfriend.
Every boy I knew was assessed for the crucial signs that he liked me. Asked to borrow a pencil? He liked me. Looked at me? He liked me. Said something to me about what we were studying in class? Ohmigod he so totally liked me!
Of course, once I had determined that a boy liked me (which generally involved him existing in my general direction), I then decided that I was going to get his affection. Of course, this didn’t involve actually talking to him or anything. Instead, I would stare at him longingly. I would drop my pencil to get him to pick it up. I would time when I changed out my books and ate lunch so I could see him. I would “happen” to sit next to him in class. If we were outside of school together, (for instance, for a play) I would put on makeup, do my hair and wear a short skirt, and then wait near him for him to initiate a conversation.
My friend mentioned above had a harem of gamers, most of whom wanted to date her but were too shy to say anything. I was in love with all of them at one time or another: I laughed at their recitations of South Park quotes and quietly watched them play Brawl for hours on end and—yes—listened to them talking about the girls who wouldn’t date them or wouldn’t give them any more than a kiss goodnight.
One time I planned to randomly kiss a boy (we’d exchanged about ten words at this time) and say “your move.” I’m cringing writing this. Thankfully, I chickened out, so I don’t have to wear a bag over my head for the rest of time.
And then there was the time I (as a former middle-school rebellious pagan) did a spell to make the guy I liked break up with his girlfriend and date me (I’d never actually spoken to him either).
All I wanted, I told myself, was a nice guy who liked me and showered regularly—it didn’t matter if he was smart or entertaining or attractive. And I would treat him like a king, far better than those other girls: I’d have sex with him whenever he wanted, I wouldn’t require all sorts of presents to keep dating him, I’d compliment him constantly.
Most of my Nice Girl ™-ness was innocuous, if probably rather disconcerting to the boys who were finding themselves stalked by a girl in badly applied eyeliner. I was creepy, but harmlessly so. However, whenever I read the more misogynistic ends of the pick-up artist or men’s rights community, I cringe. Because if I had found that gender-reversed when I was sixteen or so, it would have made sense to me. Of course boys like assholes, that’s why I can’t get laid! Of course American men are fat, entitled and worthless, that’s why they treat me so badly! There’s nothing more seductive than an explanation in which it’s all someone else’s fault.
Instead, because they claimed that all women could get laid whenever they wanted (and that clearly was not true), I had discounted their explanations pretty quickly and instead drifted through life being confused and vaguely resentful.
The takeaway here is that being a Nice Guy ™ is not a guy thing—it’s a people thing. Specifically, Nice Guy ™ is what happens when you get someone who is not sure how this whole “relationships” thing works exactly, who is petrified of rejection, and who doesn’t fully understand that people of the other primary gender are actually people and not some kind of complicated relationship-granting automation.
I think for a lot of people it’s a normal developmental stage on the path of figuring out how relationships work, and there’s nothing wrong with that (you get amnesty about any relationship mistakes you make before the age of 18). The problem is when some people of any gender get stuck there.
Note: I know I referred to myself as a girl all the way through this, but my pronoun is still zie. Thanks!
First. Thank you for your story. Really.
Then. I don’t like to rain on your parade, but
we knew that, didn’t we?
I’m sorry if I come off as overly cynical, or just a plain jerk, but it’s late, I’m tired, and stressed sleepless.
“once was invited to a sleepover by a girl who forgot that I was coming and went over to her friend’s house instead.” 😦
@Flyingkal: well, there’s a Part Two still coming, yeah?
Heh, I remember showing up at school in a suit in 5th grade just to impress some girl…she flipped me off and said some not-nice things.
Sadly, the one thing that was enough to break that whole “girls are magical unicorns of perfection” spell was to, you know, actually have a girlfriend to hang out with. Social anxiety not directly related to girls was cured at the same time.
Ozy: If you do consider yourself better now, what do you think caused the change? Did you just grow out of it?
I thought Ozy was a Cool Chick.
Ozy, could you please provide a definition of who you include in the group, “Nice Guys TM”? Your passage here …
… kinda sorta implies a definition, but it isn’t really one (or if it’s intended to be, it’s not a very good one).
There are numerous problems with the Nice Guy TM meme in feminist discourse, IMHO, and one of the biggest is its definitional ambiguity.
I think your post here has some good insights, and the empathy with which you discuss the phenomenon of “Nice Guys” is a refreshing change from the way some others discuss it. But I think aspects of your post are problematic … or at least raise questions … and the whole ‘definitional’ thing is the most foundational.
@Ozy, I liked your story at first because it was so sympathetic towards guys, in a sort of “we all had the wrong ideas at some point and we’re all in it together” sort of way, but I knew there would be a catch. And sure enough there was a catch:
That one sentence comes dangerously close to transforming a really cool post into yet another attack on “Nice Guys(tm)” that once again uses very broad stroke to blame the whole lot of them for being failures on the dating scene. I could go two ways with this. I could look at “doing something wrong” as being inclusive of being too fat, too skinny, or whatever that a person isn’t actually “doing” so much as something they have no control over. Or I could look at it as it never being that a person is too fat, too skinny, etc., but that it’s always that the “Nice Guy” is actually doing something ridiculously ineffective, just as you were doing in your case. Either way, I don’t see any way of applying that sentence to everyone without being flat out wrong about most.
Back on your old Blog you posted a link to a really awesome article about nice guys vs Nice GuysTM.
You’re right though.. it’s not just a guy thing.. I know a lot of women (and have fallen prey to it myself) who fall into the “I’m awesome and guys just don’t like me because all they want are the shallow bitches who look like Barbie” type of bitterness.
Ozy, I knew I liked you for some reason. Now I know: you were one of those girls who followed me around in high school as I created havoc and started trouble, and as a special plus, did my homework for me! YOU SWEET GIRLS! I loved you all so much!!!! (This is still happening? 30 years later? Wow, who knew?) I found a parcel of em on Facebook!
Although in fairness, I don’t know from water polo. This is working class/public school Midwest we are talking about, during the dreaded “bowling league” era. (Also, Harlan Ellison, not vampires. Bad TV, yes. Still!)
Really, not kidding! xoxoxo.
It is weird how if you look back and can remember how you felt about dating/sex/social/whatever stuff when you were a kid, how weird and creepy a lot of the stuff is from an adult perspective. And we don’t really ever talk about it, do we? And it is usually OK, so long as we grow out of it.
@Ballgame: I don’t think is ambiguous so much as everyone has their own slightly different definition that they adhere to.
My personal definition of Nice Guy™ is a dude that feels entitled to sexual and/or romantic attention for simply not being an asshole (or believing he’s not being an asshole when he actually is). When that attention is not given, he plays the blame game, directing bitterness and ire towards women for not giving him what is rightfully his. It has nothing to do with social inadequacy and everything to do with entitlement.
I’d like to see how Ozy’s looks next to mine?
Thank you, Ozy!
The messy hair, bookwormness, poor/non-trendy fashion, poor social skills, being forgotten by friends (real and imagined), depression/anxiety/self-destruction, and “trailing” behind close friends parts is exactly what I experienced. However I was moved from a school in my lower/working-class background to an upper-middle class school district yet lived in The Projects for most of the time. I wasn’t interested in boys after being shot-down by my crush in fifth grade though, and although I’m bi, I didn’t know then but enough people thought I was a lesbian because of my obsession with Neve Campbell and my preference for black clothing. It didn’t help that I had huuuge, noticable breasts by the time I was 10 and had no idea how to control my backne/chestne/hairlinene either. Ugh…
Unlike you though, I was fine being unattached and tended to think there was something wrong with me rather than others. At least as far as relationships and friendships were concerned. I also was independent-minded, not a follower, which people expressed admiration for. So I always had close friends and got along genuinely with boys and girls; my abandonment issues just interferred.
Anyhow, I’ve become infuriated from reading PUA and Nice Guy(TM) material because it completed erased me. Not just that but I found that it often exploits boys and men that may just need treatment for depression and anxiety. Yes, the dating and relationship scene has some dark sides but the PUA and Nice Guy(TM) material validates enables the symptoms of depression and anxiety for the sufferer and everybody affected. As somebody from a dysfunctional home that grew up without a lot of money, I would have given so much to have knowledge I do now, so that has a special place on my Poo-Poo List.
This is part one of the series! Issues of definitions and how I got out of being a Nice Guy will be covered later. Seriously, I am going to say SO MUCH about Nice Guys that by the end of the series you will be begging me to never discuss Nice Guys again. 🙂
debaser: I was ALL THE THINGS.
dungone: Hmm… perhaps that was wrong phrasing. Perhaps “it’s someone else’s fault”? Because the thing I’m getting at is that whether the explanation is “I’m creepy,” “I haven’t found someone attracted to people like me,” “I don’t put an effort into dating,” or “I’ve had shitty fucking luck,” (to pick a few examples) the explanation “those men/women are assholes/bitches” is way more tempting.
Daisy: Apparently it’s a fairly common high-school-chick friendship structure? I dunno. But, yes, I confirmed alibis and did homework and listened to far more than my fair share of “I’m cheating on him, but if I stop dating him he won’t buy me handbags anymore…”
“My personal definition of Nice Guy™ is a dude that feels entitled to sexual and/or romantic attention for simply not being an asshole (or believing he’s not being an asshole when he actually is). When that attention is not given, he plays the blame game, directing bitterness and ire towards women for not giving him what is rightfully his. It has nothing to do with social inadequacy and everything to do with entitlement. ”
That’s mine as well, except that he may aquire cookie-cutter ideas of how (straight) men and women “are” based on stereotypes (and perpetuated by PUA and Nice Guy[TM] Apologia). When confronted with the fact that there are girls/women that like him, he dismisses it often with some crap “evolutionary-biological” rationalization for the fact that he thinks his feelings and wants/needs are more important.
@ozy: “Blaming someone else” sounds better than “not believing it’s one’s own fault”.
And wrt “cheating girlfriend confides in you”: I admire your strength of character that you dodn’t go “well, just hand him over to me, and I’ll give you all the handbags he buys me, so you can have bad conscience-less sex with your other guy and it’s win-win-win-win.”
Which is, more or less, the gender-reversed version of this song .
I like this essay by Paul Graham called Why Nerds Are Unpopular:
He says that popularity takes a lot of work, especially for teenagers, and that most nerds prioritise learning over it.
@Ozy, ah, I see what you were saying. Indeed, if a guy blames everyone else for being an asshole, rather than saying to himself, “truth is, I’m just incredibly unattractive,” then that guy is no closer to the truth and no closer to getting laid, either.
But, what if some people really are assholes? At least, they’re immature and inexperienced, which is easily confused for asshole. Try having a couple dozen people in a row tell you that the reason they didn’t call you back in a month was because they were “busy” or that their phone “fell in the pool” while in the meantime their Facebook wall gets filled with “I’ll call you tonight! Can’t wait to see you xoxo!” The typical Nice Guy that I have met has girl after girl reject him that in ways that challenge reason and logic and so they sit there at the other end of the line turning red because they know they’re being lied to.
Getting rejected can really, really suck in ways that are incredibly hurtful and cruel. So instead of getting upset at Nice Guys who develop a negative attitudes towards women, a more effective strategy might be to acknowledge that they do get rejected a lot and that they do experience unnecessarily cruel treatment. After all, rejecting someone can be hard, too, and girls are scared of guys getting angry. So they lie. And there’s an arms race effect – Nice Guys are used to being treated so cruelly that when they encounter the one girl who tries to be honest and nice, they start to really get their hopes up. Just like you did, Ozy, whenever a guy looked at you or asked to borrow a pencil. If everyone else treats you like shit and ignores you, then woe be to the one girl who tries to be nice.
I’ve actually been thinking about doing a post on Nice Guys soon, namely on where they come from. Personally I think while its easy to write them off as entitled assholes that doesn’t get down to the heart of where they came from therefore not doing much to help prevent their existence in the first place.
Some people lie. Some lie to be malicious, some lie because they’re conditioned to spare others’ feelings, some because they fear the reaction they’ll get if they’re honest, some because who they lie to conveyed that their self-worth depends on the call and the person makes a judgment call right then to avoid the long-term task of being responsible for the feelings of another. Or maybe the person put that status on Facebook before their phone fell into the pool or you’re seeing why that person is busy.
One is going to encounter people that will lie or be a jerk and one must learn to move on, but one also has to consider that people also may be dealing with their own issues. Being angry at the jerks is fine but emotions are not an accurate portrayal of reality; it doesn’t mean everybody ever has been a jerk.
The other part is if somebody’s rejection has had that much of an impact on a person then that person must consider there is something more at work (low self-esteem, preconceived notions about women, existing anger issues). If they choose not to consider as much or simply aren’t enlightened about the possibilities, it still doesn’t become the responsibility of women to take care of them, even if said women are to acknowledge it is okay to be upset. Who knows with what those women are already dealing because they’re people, too.
In any case, being upset does not justify treating others poorly, even if one has been crapped on and it is understandable that it’s the only thing one knows. After all, we’re beyond that now; we know the problems exist so the next move is to step back and change all one can first: onself.
@dungone: I’m a firm believer that there are just some folks out there that have just the right kind of narcissism to merit being called a genuine asshole. I think the clincher is the deadly combination of inability, for whatever reason, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and inability to take no for an answer (which I forgot to add to my Nice Guy def above). In that light, I think we’re talking about two different kinds of people– yes, there are those that grow bitter from having being given the runaround, or being lied to or toyed with. But the difference is in thinking “some women are assholes and that’s just the way it is” vs “all women are assholes and I’m gonna hate those bitches until one of em puts out”. Know what I’m saying?
I wish I could contribute more to the conversation, but the only thing I can really relate to in the OP is being a henchgirl. 😛
@Danny: Ahh now see, that’s what I tried getting to in talking about Eagle33 a couple days back in the gender-nonconformity post before getting shut down. Where does victimhood end and perpdom begin? I’ll be interested to see where you go with that.
It’s interesting to see this, I hadn’t thought of it but apparently “Nice Guy Syndrome” isn’t necessarily a male thing. At least stereotype wise, one would assume that only men have to possess the confidence necessary to break free. Many ideas of dating suggest that excessive confidence, or at least excessive assertiveness is unnecessary or even harmful for a woman. It would seem it doesn’t work out that way in reality.
This inability to actually ask people out seems to be the defining feature. It’s certainly a climatic moment where you can get a yes or a no. Ironically the “no” doesn’t actually do anything. When ‘rejected’ you end up in the same place you started, you just lose the hope of ‘yes’. Nevertheless it seems part of the human condition to fear ‘rejection’ of this sort, as if you as a person were being rejected and not just the possibility of a particular kind of relationship. Perhaps it’s too easy to assume all the boys and all the girls like the same thing, so if you aren’t good enough for one person, you are good enough to anyone anywhere. A lot of ideas about dating and hook ups suggest this, either you’re awesome-beautiful wanted by everybody, or you’re a loser wanted by nobody.
So to avoid that possible rejection you get the kind of stalking mentioned above, and often friendship when you don’t really want a friendship. Of course you would want to hang out with the person, i.e. actually get to know them. Though you still need to indicate what you want, subtly at first, but eventually with a frank discussion as things progress.
Unfortunately I’m pretty guilty of these things too. Asking out somebody usually seems like an impossibility. Actively flirting is so much harder than just “normal conversation” i.e. entirely platonic conversation. Also I’m sometimes afraid that admitting to attraction would scare somebody away. Then again, many women do avoid men if the man has a crush, but the woman doesn’t feel the same way. I understand that it can range from awkward to threatening, but it still hurt when it happened to me.
I doubt it’s often a conscious plan like this, but this does happen
Much of the mainstream feminist discourse centered on so-called “so-called Nice Guys” appears to be a widely-adopted form of emotional auditing.
As one MRA put it:
Of course, that wasn’t actually an MRA saying this. It was Melissa McEwen. For reals. Her whole post is worth reading (particularly if you keep in mind its broader application beyond the one she probably originally intended).
The takeaway here is that being a Nice Guy ™ is not a guy thing—it’s a people thing.
I partly disagree with this, I mean there is a reason that Nice Girl (TM) is almost never used. What you describe in your post is obsessing over someone, overthinking things, building a imaginary version of a person in your head, etc. I agree that’s something especially teenagers are prone to and it’s a part of Nice-Guy-ism.
But there is also gendered aspect to it and that aspect is very important especially because the term has a feminist background. Nice Guys (TM) fail at performing masculinity. They are passive when they should be active. I always felt that the Nice Guy(TM) trope is a way to police masculinity. Nice Girls(TM) might behave in the same way but it’s different because women and men have different roles in the prevalent dating script.
I think it’s laudable to try to push the discussion in a more gender neutral direction, something like ethical dating, but I also believe that the term Nice Guy (TM) has too much baggage for that discussion. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the other posts in this series. Let’s solve the Nice Guy(TM) issue once and for all 😉 .
@Collette, you’re making excuses for women you never even met and you seem to be sure that they were right and we (the guys) were wrong. Like you are convinced that the phone really fell in the pool. Did I mention that this seems to have been somewhat of a meme – I have heard 3 or 4 guys complain to me about that excuse last summer alone? Gee, there’s some weird coincidence where women who reject guys all have their phones fall in the pool that month… anyway forgive me for being so snide, but what bothers me isn’t that it’s a lie, it’s that it’s a stupid lie. It might as well not be a human being saying that particular lie but a clown head attached to a spring that’s bouncing around the room laughing at you.
And one thing that I really didn’t like about your response is the way in which you began to treat one single anecdote as if it was an exhaustive retelling of all of my experiences with the opposite sex. In other words if you dismantle the phone-in-pool excuse, then my whole argument sinks. But it doesn’t, because there are more such stories where that came from. Anyway you’re trying to invalidate the experiences of a male reader as well as lecture him on things that he already knew and thought of, which are rather obvious (to twist “mansplaining” around: “femsplaining”).
This statement is rather problematic not only because it is so dismissive and poorly thought out, but because of how easily it could be turned around to invalidate the experiences of women just as easily. First of all, yeah, of course there are self esteem issues involved. But it doesn’t come about from getting rejected once, but hundreds of times with very little success.
I honestly spend a lot of time wondering about why women have such perplexing notions about men, especially the Nice Guy(tm) stereotype. It’s as if (maybe) most women manage to ask a single guy out once in their life, so they must conclude that the way that experience has affected them is no different than the way a thousand such experiences affect a man.
Okay, here it is:
Just like some women want “bad boys”–some men want “mean girls”. Fact. Maybe we should examine why this is? A certain brand of low self-esteem and self-worth? Reminds them of the parent who loved/rejected them? Imprinted by early relationships? Etc? But they *are* mirror images.
My AA sponsor once used this anecdote: in a room fulla people, everyone says you are fabulous, but ONE PERSON says “You suck”–are you elated that a whole room (except one) loves you, or do you obsess over the one person you couldn’t “win over”? And WHY? This seems to be a cornerstone of the syndrome.
@ballgame – haha you tricked me! 🙂 I was just thinking about how everyone was going to question your feminist cred for quoting an MRA person at such length, but then, it wasn’t an MRA at all but a feminist – such a hat trick!
Dungone, how would you like a woman to reject you? I’m being completely serious here, rejecting someone is really difficult to do, and the added pressure of knowing that doing it badly could fuck with a man’s head for his life certainly doesn’t make it any easier, so any advice you could spare would be greatly appreciated.
@ocelot, thanks for being earnest and I’d love to help if I could. I’m under no illusion that it’s easy and I want to be the first to tell you that, when it comes down to it, you’re probably screwed. No, really, because it’s not really your fault as a woman, but because we all have to follow this really toxic dating script.
But you know, just don’t be an asshole. That’s all. What more can you do? It’s not actually your responsibility to ensure that no one ever gets hurt. I don’t think that Nice Guys have collectively said “What is Love? Baby don’t hurt us, Baby don’t hurt us…” All that most people really want is the truth and for you to accept how they feel as real. Maybe they won’t react well, but short of ensuring your physical safety, if you don’t want to date them then why do you still care what they think of you? All you have to do is accept the fact that they will react to it somehow and that there is no right or wrong way for them to react, and if they react poorly it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, it just means they reacted poorly. See ballgame’s comment, I think it’s prescient. So why lie, why put in all the effort to make up excuses? Just be honest.
Thanks for this post. I was indeed the archetypal Nice Guy in early-mid high school. I think you’re right that it’s an essentially immature outlook that most people need to go through before they figure out that all people are people regardless of which bits they have and that sexual attraction and love really don’t respect artificial social strata.
I think another important factor in Nice Guy-ism is that it remains really seductive even once you’ve mostly got yourself out of it.
I had a really bad breakup about 5 years ago, and in the wake of that a lot of my old Nice Guy thought-patterns started to resurface. I started to get clingy, to get re-interested in people I’d been interested in in high school (always a bad sign) and to resent my flatmates’ sex lives. I became fixated on the fact that many people pick up for casual sex in clubs and bars, but I can’t because I don’t function well in high-noise environments, particularly when drunk or high (which I was often, at that point in time).
Being a “Nice Guy” is a morbid thought-pattern, which can (at least for some people) “suck them in” – similar, I suspect, to an alcoholic “falling off the wagon.”
I think one aspect that is gendered is the way many women/girls openly fawn over bad guys and bad guy behaviour, be those guys real or fictional, which IMO isn’t true the other way round (to that same extent).
Here’s a guess: Bad Guy Behaviour is often seen as a display of sexual adventuriness in men (and one of the few ways heterosexual men can send out the signal “hey, I’m totally awesome in bed!”); the female counterpart would be, sorry to use the word, sluttiness.
And I guess that would be more accurate, Daisy. I think Nice Girls (TM) are more likely to complain that all the guys go crazy for the girls who have zero shame in the way they dress and act rather than that the girls guys go for behave in an assholish way.
Maybe another guess: Bad Guy Behaviour got fetishized in media because male sexuality could not/still can not be fetishized itself, but this didn’t hinder the fetishization of female sexuality per se.
?? I acknowledge that people/women can be jerks and maliciously lie. I say that in the post. I’m just also acknowledging that being a jerk is one of many possibilities and, quite frankly, you’re the one that is saying these nonspecific, abstract women that you may not know are always wrong and the men always right. You even accept without question the boys’/mens’ versions of events to begin with.
This doesn’t even only apply to women; that’s what you don’t understand. I’ve been on both sides. I realized this myself.
“And one thing that I really didn’t like about your response is the way in which you began to treat one single anecdote as if it was an exhaustive retelling of all of my experiences with the opposite sex.”
I’m stating that accidents do happen. My friends have dropped phones in toilets, run them over, set them into their cocktails, and launched them into the snow. It has nothing to do with the rest of your argument or experiences. I didn’t even know you were talking about yourself. If you’re hell-bent on believing accidents don’t happen and that these women were all terrible, terrible jerks, then fine. I did the same thing, but with men, and I thought something was wrong with me instead. I’ve been there and this is what I learned. Take it or leave it.
“This statement is rather problematic not only because it is so dismissive and poorly thought out, but because of how easily it could be turned around to invalidate the experiences of women just as easily.”
It has nothing to do with invalidating an experience, it has to do with one’s reaction. And yes, it does apply to women. You do understand that I’ve experienced this, right? I have depression and anxiety, self-defeating tendencies, and problems with low self-worth. I filter my experiences through this. I’ve lost months and years to this.
Ugh. I was that person in high school myself, Ozy. It took until I was 20 to get past the Nice Girl phase, partly because I’d had ZERO success getting the attention of local guys up to that point. Being flirted with on the internet by people who know nothing about you except that you sometimes type funny things and you have a vagina…doesn’t really work out.
@elementary_watson, that is exactly it. I could never reconcile the notion of a woman who I would love to date telling me that all men just want large breasted blonde bimbos. But then when I ask her out, she says no. She wants a particular kind of guy – not the kind of guy who asks her out, but the kind of guy who chases after big breasted blonde bimbos. Which is the same complaint that she has about me, which may or may be right – after all, I admittedly think she’s really really hot. So I guess we’re both totally screwed.
And a lot of the girls who complain about how men are shallow also complain that those very same men can’t take rejection like a man. Hence the Nice Guy(TM) trope: a superficial asshole who only wants hot babes and gets really upset when you reject him because, by circular reasoning you’re a hot babe when you reject him.
But that’s just what I think the Nice Guy(TM) definition really boils down to, which is what I come away with a lot of times when I see groups of women discussing these men among themselves.
The old “I don’t want to join any club that would have me as a member” syndrome?
“But there is also gendered aspect to it and that aspect is very important especially because the term has a feminist background. Nice Guys (TM) fail at performing masculinity. They are passive when they should be active. I always felt that the Nice Guy(TM) trope is a way to police masculinity. Nice Girls(TM) might behave in the same way but it’s different because women and men have different roles in the prevalent dating script. ”
THIS, a hundred times over. The most common and conspicuous attribute of the “Nice Guy (TM)” that so many women and feminists rail against isn’t his bitterness or his supposed sense of “entitlement,” it’s how stereotypically feminine his behavior towards the opposite sex typically is. The typical” Nice Guy (TM)” is a guy who is uncomfortable with and/or inept at the standard male role of being the one who initiates, and so he tends to favor a more passive strategy- he makes himself visible to women whose interest he would welcome, is pleasant towards them, tries to present an appealing image, perhaps gives off some demurely ambiguous hints of romantic/sexual interest, and hopes that she’ll make the first move. Or, alternately, he becomes friendly with a woman out of platonic motives but later develops a romantic interest, then places his hopes in the same passive strategy.
In other words, the typical “Nice Guy (TM)” is a guy who acts like a typical woman. Even his means of consoling himself after repeated failure, lamenting the opposite sex’s shallowness and unreasonable standards of beauty and attractiveness, is stereotypically feminine. Combined with his other failings of masculinity, as a man who is sexually unsuccessful and who publicly talks about his pain and distress (and mere emotional pain, at that!) in public, and it’s no wonder that- just as most any school of feminist theory would predict- he inspires so much hostility and disgust.. I don’t buy into the idea that contempt for gender non-conforming men is actually disguised or redirected misogyny, but if I did and was going to argue for that position the intensity of the hatred and contempt directed at the figure of the “Nice Guy TM” would be one of my go-to examples.
How do you reconcile this:
“All you have to do is accept the fact that they will react to it somehow and that there is no right or wrong way for them to react, and if they react poorly it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, it just means they reacted poorly.”
“Getting rejected can really, really suck in ways that are incredibly hurtful and cruel. So instead of getting upset at Nice Guys who develop a negative attitudes towards women, a more effective strategy might be to acknowledge that they do get rejected a lot and that they do experience unnecessarily cruel treatment.”
On the one hand it sounds like you’re saying that rejection is rejection, and the onus is on the rejected to not use it as an excuse to act out, and on the other, you’re saying the onus is on the rejector to not reject too much otherwise, oops, they’ve contributed to the creation of a Nice Guy and it’s their fault that people like them exist.
Sorry, there’s this too:
“I’m under no illusion that it’s easy and I want to be the first to tell you that, when it comes down to it, you’re probably screwed. No, really, because it’s not really your fault as a woman, but because we all have to follow this really toxic dating script.”
And then you say here that there is no such thing as a healthy rejection and that, following the logic your above statements, Nice Guys are going to get made by said rejection regardless, but that the people doing the rejecting should still feel bad about it.
@ocelot, here’s one thing that I think should be a big no-no in your rejection script:
Millions of people have over the years tried to justify that statement and all have failed. Whatever anyone says the difference is, they’re just full of shit and possibly don’t comprehend grammar. What’s the difference between “He speaks” and “He is speaking?” Nothing. They are just different tenses of a word which shares characteristics of both a verb and an adjective, a present participle versus a progressive participle. Same with love. The people who will say that there is a difference are doing what ballgame has called out in his comment above: emotional auditing.
Do you know what the worst thing about feeding that line to someone is? The very next thing that they will try to do is prove to you that they are, in fact, in love with you. Because you have just opened yourself up to the possibility that if they were only in love with you then you might just live happily ever after. And the funny thing is that it’s very easy to prove: if you love someone, then you’re in love with them. The rules I will reference is the English Language and the fact that Words Mean Things and Grammar Was Taught To Us In High School.
So my advice is, just don’t do it. Don’t tell someone that you accept how they feel when what you really mean is that you don’t accept how they feel. And don’t use word tricks to try to confuse them. And for crying out loud, just stay the hell away from, “well we went out, but we weren’t seeing each other, and definitely not dating” especially when the guy took you to a restaurant and paid for your dinner. It’s fucking dating. If you went out with him, don’t deny that you ever went out with him just because he’s not who you had hoped before you went out. So don’t mince words and butcher the English language to throw your adversary (the guy who wants you) off track. It will just piss him off, unless he’s even dumber than he looks.
Just tell him that in spite of how he feels, you don’t feel the same way. And that you’re sorry if that makes him feel hurt, but that’s just the way it is.
Also, don’t tell him that he will find someone else. Seriously. Let me ask you a question. Did you ever hear of a boss who fired someone by saying, “Look, you’re really nice, so I’m sure you’ll find another job. It’s not you, it’s us.” No, and do you know why? Because the couple of times that someone was stupid enough to say that, t the person who got fired came back with a gun and went postal. So don’t try to tell him what his future will be like after you did him this really amazing favor of dumping his ass? Is it really that important to you to try to make yourself look good when you’re rejecting a guy? Why? That’s what most guys actually have a problem with – that you’re ripping out their heart but you’re still trying to make yourself look good.
What I like about your post is that it emphasizes some of the commonalities of socially awkward young people regardless of gender. It also points out how people of both genders can become obsessed with people they desire, and act in weird or minorly stalkerish ways.
Like several other folks in the thread, I’m getting tripped up on the term “Nice Guy(TM)”. I think that people who self-identify as “nice guys” or “nice girls” have a wide range of traits and attitudes. Some these people match the template of “Nice Guy(TM),” but some of them don’t.
Like you, my “nice guy” behavior was so internalized, and I was so inhibited, that it was harmless. Consequently, I resent the implication of the “Nice Guy(TM)” label that because I identified as a “nice guy,” I was also entitled, and engaged in angry, passive-aggressive, blaming, or assholish behavior.
I am glad that you are talking about where you are coming from, but I don’t understand why you are shoehorning your experience into the concept of “Nice Guy/Girl(TM)”. To me, your account sounds more complex than the label.
The Nice Guy(TM) label lumps together a lot of unflattering stuff. Here is L’s definition:
Was this your attitude? That’s not the sense I got from your post. You had a lot of problematic attitudes, but I’m not sure you had these particular ones. If you didn’t feel that way, then why stick a label on yourself (“Nice Girl(TM)”) implying that you did?
And if you did hold those attitudes, then that’s your experience, but not everyone who self-identifies as a “nice guy/girl” thinks that way.
Although your “Nice Girl(TM)” concept helps avoid stereotyping “nice” people based on gender, the label still encourages stereotyping people based on identifying as “nice,” and assuming attitudes (e.g. entitlement, blaming) that might not actually be true. There is some truth in the “Nice Guy(TM)” stereotype… but then, there is some truth in a lot of problematic stereotypes and slurs.
If we want to talk about awkward “nice” people, can’t we just talk about “awkward nice people”? And if we want to talk about entitled “nice” people, can’t we just say “entitled nice people” or “entitled assholes who call themselves ‘nice'”? Instead of using a label that lumps them all together, and encourages misconceptions about your experiences, and mine?
I’m glad to see a discussion of the struggles and dysfunctional attitudes of self-identified “nice” people, and romantically unsuccessful people, but I feel that the “Nice Guy(TM)” term inhibits understand and lets to stereotyping… even if you degender it. I oppose stereotyping of self-identified “nice girls” also!
They need to be reconciled? If you ask me, they are is corollary to the other. Each one is true because the other is true.
Forgive me, where do you see the contradiction?? Getting rejected sucks because it hurts. There is no right way to reject someone because it hurts
Conclusion: don’t make it worse by trying to make yourself look like you’re the “good” girl who never hurt anyone. If you want to make yourself out to be a saint when you reject a guy, he’ll think you’re just an asshole as he nurses his broken heart.
No, I’m not saying that the onus is on the rejected to behave the way you want. Where did you get that idea? And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t reject someone. Where did you get that in anything I said?
I’m just saying this: accept it. Accept that because you are participating in a fucked up dating script as a passive vessel, there is going to be no way out. You can’t manipulate them, you can’t convince them that you love them as a friend, you can’t really walk around thinking that you never hurt a guy’s feelings unless he really deserved it. As a woman, you’re going to hurt a lot of guys who didn’t deserve to get hurt. It’s a fact of life. Yes, you are responsible for the Nice Guy, because of your gender role – you never had a choice. But neither did they.
Thanks for clarifying that you are talking about the more misogynistic ends of the pickup and men’s rights communities.
I think it’s unusual for pickup artists to think that men’s failures with women are women’s fault. PUAs tend to be highly critical of men’s mating behavior, and they call unsuccessful men “AFCs” (“Average Frustrated Chumps”). The dominant view in pickup is that men are unsuccessful due to lack of accurate information, and repression. They advocate men to rebuild their behavior and appearance from the ground up.
If you had run into pickup, rather than learning that everything is someone else’s fault, it’s more probable that you would have been pushed to remake yourself in the image of what other people find attractive.
Actually, PUAs get flak from some MRAs for supposedly being too tolerant of women and for trying to adapt to women’s behavior rather than criticizing it.
I totally agree with @dungone that the vast majority of this problem is due to the current dating paradigm, wherein men are almost totally responsible for initiating, and women are almost totally responsible for rejection. It’s so easy to just say “women don’t understand, and thus they’re bitches,” or “men don’t understand, and thus they’re assholes,” because the first parts of those statements are true, at least to an extent. Many (or even most) men do not have the experience of having to reject on a regular basis, and feeling really bad about the potential hurt they’re causing even though it was no particular fault of theirs. Many (or even most) women do not have the experience of being rejected on a regular basis, and feeling like a failure through no particular fault of theirs.
The solution, as I see it, is largely on the women, sorry to say. Women have to initiate romantic encounters more often, and men have to be receptive to this. If everyone is rejecting and being rejected in equal measure, the aggregate amount of rejection may not decrease, but at least we’ll be able to empathize with one another.
@ocelot, to clarify what I said about denying that you even went out with the guy – that is just an added sting of rejection that I think is completely unnecessary. Is it really going to hurt your reputation if people know that you went out with some sort of nerd freak, to the point where you cannot even acknowledge the temporal-spacial reality of having gone out on a date with him? Just give him the satisfaction – yeah you went out on a date. How bad is that? A lot of times, that little bit of recognition can soften a lot of the pain, especially if you’re going out with a guy who really doesn’t get a lot of girls. Chances are he’s really just looking to feel like he’s part of the human race, you know, like, “I managed to get a date once in my life.”
Just to give you an idea of how manipulative it gets, I have had girlfriends who literally denied that they were ever my girlfriends after we broke up, and months later admitted that they were in fact my girlfriend, but not anymore, even though we were actually back together, having sex, neither of us dating anyone else, and we were on a vacation in Europe alone in a hotel on New Year’s Eve, with her wearing the lingerie I bought her. This seems to be a problem for American women more than anyone else. It’s like they think they’re Sleeping Beauty waiting for Prince Charming to wake them out of their slumber, and until then none of their relationships count whether it’s dating or fucking or anything. I actually love hot, seductive foreign women who have no problem saying, “Lover, I’ve had many lovers before you and I’ll probably have many lovers after you.” I don’t mind that at all. It’s real.
I would like to continue to disentangle the perspectives of MRAs, PUAs, and self-identified “nice guys.” There is a lot of overlap, but also a lot of differences, both within and between those camps.
All of those groups believe that women are attracted to manifestations of traditional masculinity in men, and some behaviors that can be characterized as “assholish.” Yes, some (but of course not all) self-identified “nice guys” believe that these preferences a “problem” with women that is their “fault.” Yet PUAs are more likely to think that women’s preferences aren’t a “problem” with women, but rather the product of evolution. Consequently, men should just adapt their behavior to women’s preferences in order to be successful with women.
To me, the dialogue of some of the dominant camps looks like this:
Self-identified “nice guys” (of a certain type): Women go for jerks! There is something wrong with them!
PUA Type 1: Yup, so take advantage of how messed up women are, and get laid!
PUA Type 2: Nah, women go for masculine alpha males. There’s nothing wrong with that; women are just evolutionarily and culturally programmed that way. Stop being a whiny AFC and improve yourself!
MRAs (of a certain type): A truly masculine guy wouldn’t be catering to women like that. Women are spoiled, and you shouldn’t support their entitlement by trying to give them what they want sexually.
Feminists (of a certain type): What are you guys talking about? Women don’t go for jerks or alphas any more than men do! You’re just overgeneralizing and being entitled.
Anyway, the point I’m making is that while a lot of male perspectives (e.g. PUAs, MRAs, self-identified “nice guys”) might superficially look the same to feminists who don’t share the same premises, there is a lot of disagreement between and within those male “camps.”
Most people are not in love with their family members, if you get my point.
“Anyway, the point I’m making is that while a lot of male perspectives (e.g. PUAs, MRAs, self-identified “nice guys”) might superficially look the same to feminists who don’t share the same premises, there is a lot of disagreement between and within those male “camps.””
I wasn’t breaking down the perspectives of different groups of mostly males and the disagreements among them still. I was noting these are groups where a disproportionate amount of perpetuating damaging symptoms of negative mental health and gender stereotypes exist compared to other groups and are thus problematic. Unfortunately, boys and men with mental health issues are targeted and exploited by them. Rather than these boys and men learning that some girls and women are assholes just like some boys and men are, that the dating scene sucks for everybody, and to consider having their anxiety/depression/awkwardness/self-esteem addressed, they’re enabled and validated. Sad and infuriating.
Dungone: I tend to go with Captain Awkward on this one (http://captainawkward.com/2011/11/13/lies-we-tell-ourselves/). Rejection sucks however you’re rejected; there’s not that much you can do about it.
@John Markley, that comment really took me back. I think you’re right. In fact, “Nice Guys” sometimes do fail at performing at masculinity. When feminists rail against these guys for feeling “entitled,” they are railing against a philosophical position that is nearly identical to that of the passive woman that most of those feminists adopt for themselves. They put on some makeup, try to be really demure by winking and smiling at some attractive guy, and then the guy comes over and asks them out. But why? If a woman can expect for that strategy to work for her and there was equality in the world and life was fair, then why couldn’t a guy do the same thing and expect the strategy to work just as well for him? I do believe that feminists should support the notion that passive men should get the opportunity to be successful in the dating game. From that perspective, in that light, it makes as much sense for Nice Guys(TM) to be angry and disgruntled as it does for women who suffer from sexual harassment to be angry and disgruntled. In both cases, the anger comes from not wanting to conform to your prescribed gender role. It comes from not liking the way the opposite sex carries out their gender role with regards to the non-conforming man or woman.
Yeah and most people are prude so they equate fucking with love because they can’t imagine one without the other. So it’s not my fault that they can’t fit these concepts into their heads without butchering the English language.
@Druk, let me put it this way. A girl I know had her mom die the other year. Since then, she’s been a dysfunctional anorexic mess, suffering through so much bereavement that it would make you pale. There’s really no difference between the depth of that relationship, the love that existed in that parent and child relationship, than there is between husband and wife. In fact I would say that most sexual relationships emphasize more of the sexual aspects than they do the love itself. I can fuck someone without loving her, I can be attracted to someone without loving her, and I can do any combination of those things at the same time – except with a family member, where the only thing I do is love.
Certainly, our prude society has created a compunction towards being “in love” and so you wouldn’t say you were “in love” with your mother any more than you would be “in love” with your motorcycle. But fundamentally this is an irrational guilt. It’s not caused because there are different kinds of love, it’s caused by the fact that our society refuses to admit that fuck happens.
@ozymandias42, that’s exactly what I said. Getting rejected sucks no matter what. But that doesn’t give someone carte blanche to do whatever they want, right? I mean just because it sucks no matter what does not mean that while you are at it, take your knife and stab his thigh and then shoot him in the face with your gun, since you’re already rejecting him anyway. At the same time, for women who are faced with having to reject guys on a regular basis, it means that you can’t expect to come out of it like your shit doesn’t smell. It’s stupid to try to maintain that perfect record of never having caused any undue harm to anyone. Just don’t make it any worse than it has to be. That’s all. Is that controversial or do we basically agree?
Hugh Ristik says: “Like several other folks in the thread, I’m getting tripped up on the term “Nice Guy(TM)”. I think that people who self-identify as “nice guys” or “nice girls” have a wide range of traits and attitudes. Some these people match the template of “Nice Guy(TM),” but some of them don’t.”
Self-identifying as “nice” is far from the only factor in the “Nice Guy(TM)” label, as you can see in explanations above & elsewhere. It’s capitalized and “trademarked” to distinguish the concept from “actual” “nice guys”, or even just “guys who self-identify as nice but otherwise lack Nice Guy(TM) behavior”. I’m sure self-identifying as “nice” may raise red flags for anyone who’s encountered enough “Nice Guy(TM)s”, but I think they’ll figure out you’re not a “Nice Guy(TM)” if you’re not acting like one.
If we want to talk about awkward “nice” people, can’t we just talk about “awkward nice people”? And if we want to talk about entitled “nice” people, can’t we just say “entitled nice people” or “entitled assholes who call themselves ‘nice’”? Instead of using a label that lumps them all together, and encourages misconceptions about your experiences, and mine?
“Nice Guy(M)” isn’t about awkward nice people, and I think most people (certainly those who use the NG label) would agree that “entitled niceness” isn’t all that nice. “Nice Guy(TM)” is shorthand for a set of behaviors that would be awkward to type out in full every time.
It hadn’t occurred to me while reading the piece, but I think I agree with you that the behaviors presented in the OP don’t quite fit the “Nice(TM)” mold.
“There is some truth in the “Nice Guy(TM)” stereotype… but then, there is some truth in a lot of problematic stereotypes and slurs. … I feel that the “Nice Guy(TM)” term inhibits understand and lets to stereotyping…”
I’m not sure I agree about the effect of the NG label, but I do think it’s worth double-checking one’s use of labels anyway to guard against this.
@Danny: Ahh now see, that’s what I tried getting to in talking about Eagle33 a couple days back in the gender-nonconformity post before getting shut down. Where does victimhood end and perpdom begin? I’ll be interested to see where you go with that.
Well namely that Nice Guys don’t occur in nature all on their own, they evolved from something. To borrow from your icon when’s the last time you saw a wild Umbreon or Espeon? You haven’t. What you have seen is someone deciding to take the path of light or path or dark when they got to the fork in the road of trying to choose what to do with Evee.
Lots and lots of actual nice guys go through those rejections, feelings of hurt, and pain. Its all about which way you go when it comes time to decide what to do with those feelings. A guy can either fight on, get bitter with women, shut down altogether, etc… I think the ones that get bitter with women are the ones that become the Nice Guys that people go on about.
I often see people who talk about Nice Guys basically start at “he’s whining because the hot women don’t want to sleep with him”. The Nice Guy didn’t start at that point anymore than those two pokemon I mentioned above. At some point I believe that he was a nice guy that became bitter over time.
What makes it hard to resolve is the fact that the resolution is to get the Nice Guy to realize that:
1. Yes there are a lot of terrible women out there but they aren’t all like that.
2. No he is not going to fit the desire of every woman out there but that doesn’t mean something is wrong with him because of that.
I’m just not confident enough that capitalizing and trademarking is enough to make the distinction. It gives the impression that if a guy identifies so strongly as a “nice guy” that he treats it as a badge, then he has the problematic traits associated with the label. But I disagree that men who strongly insist they are “nice guys” necessarily have those traits.
Likewise, I think using Feminists(TM) to point out the feminists I don’t like would be a use of weasel words, not a real distinction. Feminists(TM) could indict anyone who strongly identifies as a feminist, rather than specifically selecting the feminists with problematic views.
But “acting like one” isn’t well defined. Yes, there is a lot of writing on the subject, but there is variation in definitions. So I’m not at all confident that if a guy identifies as “nice,” people using the “Nice Guy(TM)” will avoid or abandon faulty assumptions about him.
Even if they do abandon those assumptions, it sounds a lot like “guilty until proven innocent.” If a guy identifies as “nice,” then he is assumed to hold the other elements of the “Nice Guy(TM)” stereotype until he proves otherwise. That’s the attitude that such an unspecific term as “Nice Guy(TM)” will lead to.
I guess I would just like to see people be a bit more specific and descriptive about which behaviors they are criticizing, rather than just lumping everything into one label that many people identify with and changing the punctuation.
The notion of a single “set of behaviors” is overgeneralizing and stereotyping. I simply disagree that the behaviors being criticized necessarily hang together as a set (identification as “nice”, anger, entitlement, resentment, blaming others, passive aggressiveness, etc…). Yes, when they do, it’s very noticeable and annoying for whoever has to deal with it. But I think a lot of those behaviors occur by themselves, or just a few at a time. And many of those behaviors also occur in people who don’t identify as “nice.”
Cool, looks like we agree on something.
For a particularly egregious example of the abuse of the ‘definitional vagueness’ of the Nice Guy TM meme, see this appalling post over at Pandagon where a significant segment of a cohort of young men are labeled Nice Guys TM/douchebags/assholes based solely on the fact that they purchased Axe cologne.
This is not the ranting of an obscure radfem, but a post from one of the most popular feminists in the blogosphere.
@Hugh: The root of the NG(tm) label is the phrase “I’m a nice guy, why don’t women want to go out with me?” A peculiar combination of entitlement (why should they?) and cluelessness (why do you think nice is the only qualification women look for in a mate?) is therefore part of the definition. And I don’t think most of the rest of your argument stands up, because the whole point of the (TM) is to distinguish these guys from actually nice guys.
On the whole I don’t particularly like arguments over terminology; [[http://lesswrong.com/lw/np/disputing_definitions/ if we both agree on what a word means any argument over what it should be called is essentially a waste of time]].
@the various people who argue that Nice Guys fail to perform masculinity: That’s certainly not true; I have totally done the stupid “waiting around for a date” thing and I have also never been a Nice Guy (TM) because I have never been bitter at women for failing to give me a date. (Otherwise it wouldn’t be a feminist concern, would it? If this was just a thing men did feminists wouldn’t have any need nor any right to talk about it. There’s plenty of other Dating Behaviors That Don’t Harm Women that feminists ignore; there must be a reason that they pay attention to this, and it’s exactly because THIS dating behavior DOES harm women.)
@Collin, As Hugh Ristik said, the use of Nice Guy(TM) can often come down to nothing more than weasel words. The problem with “Nice Guy(TM)” is that it’s often the response dished out at guys who self-identify as nice guys in order to invalidate their experiences with women. So first they might get treated like shit, then someone calls them a lying asshole because the felt the pain. As Danny said in his comment, the “Nice Guy” doesn’t come from a vacuum, but from a fork. No, but seriously. Something made them that way. So it’s not cool to use the Nice Guy(TM) label just to rob the self-identified nice guys of their voice and invalidate their concerns and criticisms.
@BlackHumor, that’s because the first nice guy known to have said, “I’m a nice guy, why don’t women want to go out with me?” was saying it in response to a girl who just moments before said, “I just want to date a nice guy for a change.”
Some people get bitter really easily, others have a seemingly inexhaustible capacity to kiss ass. If it were a choice between the two then I’d rather spend an eternity in hell laughing it up with the sinner than to spend a day in heaven with the saints.
And what do feminists say about guys who just want to play XBOX and MGTOW? Oh, right, they’re man-childs who need to grow up and find a wife to support.
Just call that type of dating behavior something else.
And what do feminists say about guys who just want to play XBOX and MGTOW? Oh, right, they’re man-childs who need to grow up and find a wife to support.
Since this is apparently LessWrong day, I am curious. Can you think of three feminists who have expressed that opinion* on MGTOW? I’ll take either implicit or explicit feminists, but they must hold some real feminist beliefs, not merely an obscure cultural sense of “girl power.”
I ask because I suspect you can’t; in particular the complaint about the adultifying effects of marriage is contrary to much contemporary feminist understanding (as I’ve seen it), and only contemporary feminists confront the dreaded cross-product of XBOX and MGTOW. (That tone should be understood wryly.)
Now, I have read feminists who critique and even downright mock MGTOW. Usually, however, it’s for the practice of producing voluminous and ongoing material in the comments sections of feminist websites about how they are going their own way, and do not care about women anymore. Which, we can agree, is a little silly by the premises. Admittedly there’s a bit of a double-bind–for a feminist site to become aware of MGTOW, a man must not entirely go his own way, but has to leave some sort of document for them to respond to. But, again, I think a cultural movement dedicated to the “we no longer care what you think” principle may rightly see some ribbing for it. After all, the premise is that they are now immune to such ribbing.
* Specifically, 1) MGTOW are man-childs who need to grow up and 2) they should find a wife and support her.
That question does show clueless, but why do you think it shows entitlement? Surely it could, but I find your assumption that it does problematic. Wondering why someone is doing what they are doing doesn’t mean you feel entitled that they “should” do something different.
If someone has had such negative experiences with self-identified “nice guys” that they take “I’m a nice guy, why don’t women want to go out with me?” as an indication of entitlement, then I feel sympathy for them, but I can’t support that sort of trigger-happy assumptions and stereotyping.
By painting confusion and cluelessness as sinister entitlement, you’re already failing to make the relevant distinctions. Men who identify as “nice guys” often express confusion, you assume that they feel entitled, and then you label them with a slur that defines them as entitled, without any real evidence that they actually feel that way.
@Colin… now are you starting to see why I’m so wary of this sort of stereotyping?
I’m just not getting why there is so much defense of stereotyping and judging groups by their worst elements on a social justice blog.
Schrodinger’s Rapist, “creep,” and now “Nice Guy(TM)”. I think there are valid points to be made with those discourses, I’m just skeptical that it’s so necessary to hang onto those slurs. If people feel they need those concepts in their daily lives, then fine, but I don’t know why we are trying to defend that sort of stereotyping here (many people find terms like “b!tch” or “cr@zy” to be useful, too). Can’t we just talk about what specific problematic attitudes and behaviors are, without constantly trying to lump them inside a label?
I’m noticing that a lot of this stereotyping is towards men. Ozy is trying to be more fair by extending the stereotype towards “nice girls,” too, but I think the solution is less stereotyping, not more. I don’t want romantically frustrated “nice girls” to feel like they are part of a deviant and sinister group either!
This is a well written post. It hits very close to home. I think you’re being a little hard on your young self, Ozy.
I trailed along behind her like a shadow to sleepovers, parties, water polo.
The break-up that hit me hardest of all in my life was when the boy I thought was my best friend in fifth grade told me never to hang around him anymore. I evidently made him look gay.
I can relate to your longing, but I can’t relate to the hope or your strategy for Nice Girl ™ seduction. Outside of ‘Dear Penthouse’ letters and porn-women willing to invite any old pizza guy or plumber in for sex, there wasn’t a lot of outright female aggression demonstrated in most narratives unless it was presented as humor. The option for a passive approach to romance felt nonexistent to me. I’ve tended to ingratiate myself to people out of a desire for approval from both sexes, even if the way I felt regarding female attention was different from male. On the other hand, I have no idea how typical my story is, even from a nerd’s perspective. Rather than trying like sin to hide queerness, like yourself, when I got labeled ‘the gay kid’ something inside me snapped and I refused to deny it, which was the same as admitting it. Then I began to play along with it, The concept of being so deep in the closet you didn’t know it, or couldn’t admit it, had been introduced to me and I latched onto it as a possible explanation for my unorthodox sexual views of women. Then, oddly enough, when I started catching shit for something I didn’t think anyone deserve to catch shit for, I started standing up for myself, which, instead of a happy movie ending of realizing all bullies are cowards and standing up for yourself gives you all the confidence in the world, turned into a self-destructive spiral of me trying to get someone else to kill me for me, and hating myself for being a big violent ass. Depression: not a movie.
I have sat there and whined about having no girlfriend but my internal answer was always “And the thing you’re doing to get a girlfirned is..?”
I think for a lot of people it’s a normal developmental stage on the path of figuring out how relationships work, and there’s nothing wrong with that (you get amnesty about any relationship mistakes you make before the age of 18).
I agree with you so much there that I think I might be disagreeing with the premise of the post, Ozy. You were a kid. As a juvenile who moved past that problem, it feels a bit like you’re saying you had Peter Pan Syndrome when you were nine, or if I refer to myself as a total manboy at 14 when I was, you know, a boyboy.
My opinions of a Nice Guy are rather closer to L’s, anyway, I think, Whoever wrote this Nice Guy has the ™ tone so hardcore part of me can’t believe that it’s not trolling. Daisy’s link in the open thread was also pretty spot on.
Can you think of three feminists who have expressed that opinion* on MGTOW? I’ll take either implicit or explicit feminists, but they must hold some real feminist beliefs, not merely an obscure cultural sense of “girl power.”
Oh, this ought to be entertaining… thankfully my intellectual schadenfreude is honed to a shaving edge.
I’ll be honest, I cringe every time I see a woman write about “Nice Guys.” It’s like watching stereotypical Europeans discuss American Football; they may have a general idea of the shape of the thing, but they really don’t know anything about it on any significant level.
@Hugh Ristik: (Let’s tread carefully, folks, we got two Hughs commenting in here, and we don’t want to cause offense via misidentification) I think you’re overlooking the nature of the entitlement that often accompanies NiceGuyism.
Allow me to quote from critically-acclaimed comics writer and right-wing douchebag Bill Willingham, who stopped his (genuinely fun) miniseries Proposition Player for two pages in order to have this exchange (which I wish I could just post images of, but my scanner’s on the fritz):
This is a speech Willingham felt it necessary to pause the whole narrative for, and it’s presented as a brilliant comeback moment, where the audience is supposed to go “Oh, SNAP” and agree with the brilliant knockdown argument that’s just been presented. (Again, scans would make this clear, but for now please take my word about the presentation. I know the narrative tropes of comics pretty darn well.)
Now, you’ll notice that it is, like so many complaints on this general topic, coming from a place of fundamental hostility toward women. It opens with “all you women” and closes with “fuck you”, which is pretty hard to misinterpret, I think we can agree. That basic hostility crops up a lot in these discussions, as we at NSWATM have, god help us, learned firsthand.
The entitlement is subtler; very few guys actually come right out and say “I was not directly horrible, therefore I am owed sex!” (This guy did, though, which makes him useful as a sort of enlarged cutaway diagram of the problem. Note, again, the hostility.) It’s more that the basic math they’re using is implicitly based on that assumption. The complaint is that they are friendly and decent and polite, but “women” do not then have sex with them. This can, logically, only be phrased as a complaint if the assumption is that friendliness is SUPPOSED to be greeted with sex.
By analogy, it makes no sense for me to complain that I did a Charleston on my rooftop dressed as Benjamin Franklin, and nobody paid me. Nobody has the assumption that that behavior should result in pay. If, however, I complained that I put in an eight-hour day for Those Bastards and didn’t get paid, everyone would immediately understand the nature of the complaint.
The communication breakdown between Nice Guys(TM) as evidenced in the Willingham excerpt, the Craigslist rant, and many less overt phrasings, is one of differing assumptions. Nice Guys are, whether they know it or not, operating on the assumption that basic friendliness and human decency should be “reciprocat[ed], in kind, with physical intimacy.” Otherwise, complaining that this has not transpired would be gibberish. Hence the reaction of so many people, that this complaint is gibberish.
Tom’s big hero speech, as quoted above, is a classic example. Boiled down to its structural elements, and sieving out all the overt misogyny, all that’s left is “Here I am being a decent human being, and nobody’s fucking me. That’s unfair and I’m mad about it.” There’s no way around that intrinsic structure, and that is exactly the entitlement that’s being referred to.
Now, I am a notorious cynic, and it may be fairly said that what many of these fruitless piners seek is not mere sex, but true love, a deep and sincere romantic connection with another person, as seen in television and film. That may even be true, except for Craigslist guy, obviously, who’s just an asshole. However, if you replace every use of “sex” in this comment with “romantic love”, all the sentences still parse, you know what I mean?
I have an episode that I think demonstrates how missused the word Nice Guy(tm) really is. I used to follow a blog (left-wing feminist) where nice guy discussion was taking place.
A male poster tells his story about how his female friend has a new boyfriend and how the male poster no longer spends time with the female friend because he just wants to cry when he sees them cuddling. This was instantaneously labeled as Nice Guy(TM).
Now I am probably a Nice Guy (TM) as well. I volunteer at a charity helping high-school students with math. I run a small charity that scavenges usable computers from dumpsters and hand them out to people who can’t afford computers of their own. We don’t differentiate on gender, it is strictly first come first serve. However, I have on one occasion told a female to f-k off and leave me alone after she treated me like a machine she could just hand problems to and then come back for the solutions she didn’t even say thank you. While she literally was sitting in the lap of the other males in the group and grinding up and down when she wanted their help. This probably makes me an entitled asshole since why do I expect some kind of similar treatment.
@Dr. Anonymous: Well, there’s a simple test. If you just refused to help her because she was rude to you, then maybe you’re a little fuzzy on the charity thing, but that’s also pretty understandable. I’ve worked enough customer service to empathize with the “You’re rude to me, fuck off” impulse. Sometime ask me about Half-Price Fajita Night.
If, on the other hand, you were attracted to her, and felt personally offended that she did not act attracted to you, then yes, you were acting entitled. If you told her to fuck off because she chose who to behave sexually with and it wasn’t you, then yes, you were acting like an asshole. If you did both then that does make you, in that interaction at least, an entitled asshole. That judgment, however, is ultimately between you and your conscience.
This was outside of the charity, and as I said, I told her to f-k off after she treated me like a machine she just handed me her problems and demanded I solve them for her.
The other guys she wanted to help her were treated to lap dances.
Got an idea. Lets deal with this intolerable growth of men’s rights awareness the following way:
1) We start a feminist blog that focuses on men’s issues
2) We take every men’s issue and relabel it gender neutrally. All we have to do is find a few examples of women affected by it and conclude that it’s the same for both genders.
3) That way we’ve turned all men’s issues into “gender issues” and left the women’s issues untouched.
4) Now any MRA saying that feminists don’t care about men’s rights can be pointed to this blog because it’s specially for men’s issues. But at the same time *grin*, we can shut down discussion about men’s issues and deny compassion for men because, well there are no men’s issues (see point 2 for evidence).
5) Now all we need is to write it in such a way so as to retain plausible deniability (even to ourselves) and get some moderators to make sure anyone who figures it out is either removed or labeled with something drawn from our arsenal of labels we so love to stick on everything we don’t like.
That pandagon link really wanted me to hurl.
Talk about white successful people getting to frame the life experience of everyone else.
@noah: Wasn’t it really douche-y and begging for a “fuck you” of the woman in that strip (which I never saw before, but can imagine) to ask the man why she never can meet a “nice man”, when the man is (usually, I guess) willing to lend her a shoulder to cry on?
The man also didn’t say that women *should* be attracted to “nice men”, but they should stop pretending (to themselves and others) to want a “nice man for a drama-less relationship” if actually they are bored by those men.
What is a genuinely kind man who happens to be single to say to a female friend who complains to him that all men she knows are only into her for sex, but never listen to her or care for her? In most cases, it’s not a problem with the male gender as a whole but rather the men she’s sexually attracted to, and, as you once quoted your mother saying, when it comes to sexual attraction, “girls are dumb”.
Which, translated from a detached point of view to one a little hurt by being ignored as a male individual, can take the shape of “Well, you chose to screw with those kinds of guys rather than genuinely kind guys, so maybe you should rethink your criteria for future sexual mates”.
Which, of course, instantly gets classified as entitled Nice Guy (TM) behaviour …
@dungone: Sounds like the Nice Guy I dated for a while. I am conventionally attractive, so he was already fucking a cute girl, then I made a comment about an Orlando Bloom cutout we saw at the mall once and he went off on a tirade about how hot girls are only into pretty boys. Hello–don’t say that to the pretty girl you’re fucking! Obviously she wants you, or she wouldn’t fuck you!
I would never even have known the guy was interested in me if a mutual friend hadn’t told him to tell me how I feel and get it over with already. He’ll tell you anything on his mind, except apparently for “I think you’re really cute and would like to have dinner with you.”
As for denying past relationships, I’ve never seen the point. Even when I believed in The One, I still wasn’t going to deny that I dated someone. After all, generally people have seen you together. It’s not that hard to prove that yes, you did go to the movies with That Guy. It’s stupid and petty to deny trivial things like “I spent time with him in a romantic context in the past, but I don’t have feelings for him at the present.”
And in re: guys who just want to play Xbox, if he’s willing to play Wii sometimes too, he’s a keeper. 😉 I go for nerd/gamer guys primarily.
@John Markley: both Nice Guys and Nice Girls are way too fucking passive for their own good. Cultural mores aside, there is a limit to how little agency you can have as the initiator and still enjoy romantic relations, simply because if you don’t do anything, then nobody knows you’re interested. I’m 26 and still trying to get over my passivity programming, because I know that until I do, the only sex I will have will be over the Internet. (This because, thus far, I’ve only been able to avoid completely locking up over attractive people when they’re communicating to me via text.) I’ve been lucky so far–I came across enough guys who actually talked to me and interested me romantically and personality-wise. I can’t count on being lucky again, nor can I expect passivity to work on girls who don’t even know that I like girls.
@dancinbojangles: Exactly. Once the ideas of initiation and rejection become gender-neutral, you’ll see a lot less of this whole dysfunctional Nice Guy/Nice Girl thing.
@ballgame: Ugh. I personally hate the smell of Axe, but if someone wants to use it, that’s their business, not mine, and it’s based entirely on what smells they like, not their attitude toward women (right?). I think the weird stereotype comes from all those horribly oversexed Axe ads around 2006-7: Axe Will Make Beautiful Women Unable To Contain Their Lusts In Your Presence! Look At That Girl, She’s All Over Him, Grinding Like A Porn Star! Buy Axe Today!!!
@Ferris: What about women who have dated and fucked Nice Guys? Do we also “not know anything about it on any significant level?” I will say it again: I was dating, and in love with, and having frequent sex with, a Nice Guy. I broke up with him because, in his mind, his obesity and poor social skills meant that I didn’t really want him and was just engaging in pity sex for some unfathomable reason. He also believed that “tact” was synonymous with “lying.” You can’t fix someone like that, and all the love in the world will never convince them that they are, in fact, worthy of love and respect as a human being.
****tell me how HE feels
This ex wasn’t quite stupid enough to try to tell me that I wanted him, nor was our friend the type of person who condones that sort of thing.
@noah, sounds like you feel threatened.
@erl, I’m not here for your personal indulgence. So you’re the host of this game show now? Who died? Let’s see, you want me to name feminists, who you will then judge based on Ain’t A Real Feminist Yet standards (gee, where have I seen that before on a feminist blog?), and just to make it even more fair to feminists, right off the bat you’ve discounted some vague instances of feminists who mock MGTOW as some sort of snazzy fun-seeking agent provocateur-ism that doesn’t count against feminism.
Interesting post, Ozy, thanks.
About the term “Nice Guy(tm)”, I think I have seen at least 4 definitions being used.
(1) a man who believes that “Nice guys finish last” in dating
(2) a man who pretends to be interested in a person as a friend when he is only interested sexually/romantically
(3) a man who follows a non-active dating strategy, i.e. instead of directly asking someone out, he adopts a long-term “wait and see” policy, often hoping that the other person will send clearer signals
(4) a man who believes that his acting in a particular (“nice”) way should be rewarded with romantic and/or sexual involvement
While there is certainly some probabilistic overlap, falling into one of these definitions does not mean that one necessarily also falls into one of the others.
For example, someone may believe that nice guys are not significantly disadvantaged at dating (because he has friends who are both nice people and in a relationship), and who is only friends with people that he wants to be friends with and does not think that this friendship creates any obligation of sex or romance. He does, however, think that it would be cool if it would, yet does not come clean about it and waits to see if something happens “naturally”. Is this a “Nice Guy(tm)”?
Or someone who does not pretend friendship, does not expect any reward for kindness except kindness of a similar type, and actively asks people out, but believes that people behaving like jerks have a significant advantage in dating. Is this a “Nice Guy(tm)”?
Now, I don’t think that any of these is a healthy form of behavior. I do think that they are different, though, and the “Nice Guy(tm)” discourse often seems to treat them interchangeably.
Regarding this part:
“There’s nothing more seductive than an explanation in which it’s all someone else’s fault.”
There is a lot to that, but my impression is that many (not all, certainly) of the nice guy crowd are deeply aware that everything is their fault. Being able to pass at least some of the causation off to others can be quite cathartic, because you can hate yourself a little bit less. Look at how desperate they seem in their argument; to me it seems like an attempt to forget, if just for a brief time, the thought that “If I wasn’t such a pathetic failure, I could have everything I want”. Given the choice I’d rather hate myself than others, but I find it hard to judge them for wanting a bit of solace.
@The_L, thanks for responding.
This one is really tough to judge. As Doug S. put it, there really does exist the old “I don’t want to join any club that would have me as a member” syndrome. It’s really insensitive to go off the way he did because, as you’re pointing out, it’s kind of like telling you to your face that you’re ugly and that what he really wants are all the other girls who are just as into Orlando Bloom as you were at that moment. Doesn’t really matter if you’re conventionally attractive or not, IMO.
But then again I can’t say you’re coming off smelling like roses either. As a guy, I myself have been conditioned to walk around on eggshells when it comes to female vanity. That’s what the traditional dating script calls from – make the girl feel like she’s the only one in the world with downright ridiculously lavish displays of affection. In other words, I sure as hell better not point out other girls who I think are attractive, ever, under any circumstances, even under intense truth serum induced torture (Try responding to “Do I look fat? Do you think she’s hot? Be honest… I can take it…” a thousand times a day.) Which you may or may not have picked up on.
Where I think you may not have been considerate enough in is recognizing that while you would like to be free to discuss other men who you are attracted to, the guy would probably also like to be free in that way, and also feels like he really can’t. When it comes to someone like Orlando Bloom, there’s also this element of asking guys to fall on their own swords, masculinity-wise. Femininity-wise, it’s sort of like the way middle-eastern men demand that their women wear hijabs and niqabs, but then they come home and watch American porn all night. I mean, it’s really hypocritical. What you may not even be aware of is that you might be pressuring your boyfriend to behave in a gender-normative way, you may even behave as a sexual gatekeeper who denies him the use of your body except as a reward. But then when you walk past the Orlando Bloom cutout at the mall and try to express your desire to just “give it away for free” to a guy who you’ve charged a pretty hefty price to. So just because he happens to be fucking a conventionally attractive cute girl doesn’t mean that he’s automatically on the same playing field as Orlando Bloom.
I hate to be all cliche and ‘men do this too,’ but, men do this too. As it so happens, the last guy I dated was, last I checked, publicly insisting in front of our mutual friends that he’s still a virgin. I basically consider that entire relationship the karmic retribution for all the clueless shit I did to my first boyfriend(s) when I was in high-school.
Eh, I want to stress that the ‘highschool’ thing is not a dig on his maturity. I get that experience does not just sprout in your head when you hit your 20s. I’ve had to learn what scant social skills I do have one embarrassing mistake at a time, and I’m still not nearly ‘there’ yet. He got started way later than I did. I mean, Godspeed, it’s not a very easy road.
@Adi: Oh no, you figured out our master plan with your mighty brainmeats. Better get out of here before one of our zombies bites you and you get infected. No, please, don’t let us keep you. Save yourself, I’ll hold them off as long as I can.
I say this every time this sort of dating game topic comes up. At some point in my life I realized that I wanted nothing to do with MeanGirls. I wanted a NiceWoman.
A NiceWoman thinks MachoMan is a jerk. A NiceWoman sees right through the come on’s from a MachoMan. A NiceWoman is skeeved out by MachoMan.
A NiceWomen also thinks MeanGirls are jerks. A NiceWoman sees the MeanGirls as insecure, vapid, and entitled.
NiceWoman and NiceGuy both think that MeanGirls and MachoMen deserve each other. NiceWoman and NiceGuy both feel that ‘mating rituals’ and ‘dating games’ are juvenile nonsense.
A NiceWoman appreciates a genuine NiceGuy. A NiceWoman is confident enough in herself to seek out a NiceGuy who is showing interest in her.
I have never liked the term Nice Guy, because I’m a guy and try to actually be nice. But I think there’s some disconnect here, because there are some genuinely nice guys who get walked over and ignored. In fact, I don’t think the Nice GuyTM trope could exist without it.
The poster boy for this is Duckie in Pretty In Pink. He is Andie’s best male friend, he constantly listens to her and stands by her whatever she does. Nudge his sexuality a little, and he’s the Gay Best Friend. But the fact is that he really loves Andie, but she wants the rich dude. (Blaine is actually not a bad guy, which complicates things further. John Hughes could tell a nuanced story when he wanted to). What’s frustrating is that Duckie goes out of his way to show his interest, but Andie likes him as *ugh* “just a friend.” I think anybody of any gender can relate to this.
What’s really interesting is Hughes originally wanted Andie to get with Duckie, but test audiences hated this. So they reshot scenes in which Andie gets with Blaine and Duckie gets a trophy girl instead. Sure, she was played by Kristy Swanson (billed as, sigh “Duckette”) but she ain’t Molly Ringwald.
Even more interesting, Hughes switched the genders on Some Kind Of Wonderful, and in that the Nice Girl (Mary Stuart Masterson) ended up with the guy (Eric Stolz). Again, however, Hughes made the rich girl not a bitch but a genuinely nice person.
This might be how Nice GuysTM see themselves, and they don’t examine their own emotions to think ” do I really like this girl, or do I just want to f*ck her?” But there are guys who genuinely get hurt by women because they are considered “safe” and not sexually complicated. Someone once called this (in a take on the Madonna/Whore Complex) the Predator/Priest Complex, but that… has unfortunate connotations now. I’ve suggested Eunuch/Predator Complex, basically that some guys are considered “just friends.” Again, I think this is something both (sorry, ALL) genders can relate to.
Oh, and BTW, I don’t bother with Amanda MArcotte on anything.
That was something I used to tell myself some years ago as well. People end up with the partners they deserve. So cool guy who could only tell us about his drunken escapades and what new unexplained bruises he had acquired during yet another drunken escapade when we were discussing Hawking’s radiation and the ultra-violet catastrophy, that guy had lots of female company and I used to think they were probably the very same kind of personality that he was. However what I don’t understand now a days is why a man like Hugo Schwyzer, a prime example of a Nice Guy gets loads of female support and admiration, especially from the same kind of women talking about how bad the Nice Guy ™ is.
So I have more adopted the view that I don’t care anymore, I’m rather single than stuck with users.
“Conclusion: don’t make it worse by trying to make yourself look like you’re the “good” girl who never hurt anyone. If you want to make yourself out to be a saint when you reject a guy, he’ll think you’re just an asshole as he nurses his broken heart.”
“I’m just saying this: accept it. … As a woman, you’re going to hurt a lot of guys who didn’t deserve to get hurt. It’s a fact of life. Yes, you are responsible for the Nice Guy, because of your gender role – you never had a choice. But neither did they.”
I keep getting the feeling that you’re arguing that we should pity the Nice Guy, excuse their behavior, and blame women for turning them into the poor souls that they are? You’re totally hung up about the honesty thing–which IMO, in this world, is a little ridiculous, especially if we’re talking about near strangers–and you seem to be thinking that’s going to solve all the problems. Either that, or you’re nursing your own personal wounds from when a girl lied to you that one time about why she didn’t call you back. But really, honesty and lying really has nothing to do with the creation of Nice Guys; the fact is that they’re rejected, and their bitterness turns them into assholes. You’re making a very full argument, but there’s a piece missing because you don’t want to say it, even though the rest of your position points to it: that women should feel responsible for the Nice Guys of the world, and by extension, they need to cater their rejections and interactions with men to this notion of responsibility. Yes?
Anyways, I found this hilarious too:
“And what do feminists say about guys who just want to play XBOX and MGTOW? Oh, right, they’re man-childs who need to grow up and find a wife to support.”
Personally, I think 20-somethings who spend hours a day playing video games are people-children that would be better off redirecting their energy to more productive things, but that has nothing to do with work or dating or family.
We need to be careful with saying “Women should be confident enough to approach men they like.” I have a severe lack of confidence in this sort of area, so it’d be brilliant if someone I liked approached me. However, it’s quite possible that they’re thinking exactly the same thing…
Basically, it’d be great if people were confident enough to approach people they like, and able to go “OK then” if they get turned down. Some people won’t be, but I feel like we should at least encourage this sort of attitude in everyone.
(Also, phrasing it as “people” instead of “men/women” is a little less implicitly heteronormative, which is probably an advantage. Don’t know if that’s actually bothering anyone here, but I may as well point it out.)
@Cactuar, yeah there’s no doubt about it that guys do that too. I think that in keeping with the theme of Ozy’s post, once you remove the dating script and gender roles, all of us really think the same exact way and suffer from the same faults. Once you apply the dating script, though, more often than not it’s the woman who finds herself in the position of having to reject someone. But I would give that advice to anyone who finds themselves in a position of having to reject someone. And I’ll be the first to admit that as a guy, with as little practice as I’ve had doing it, I’m a blatant hypocrite when it comes to giving advice to others about how to say no without being an asshole. I practically freeze up when I have to reject a girl, thinking of all the things that had ever been done to me and not wanting to come off the same way. It’s hard.
@the various people who argue that Nice Guys fail to perform masculinity: That’s certainly not true; I have totally done the stupid “waiting around for a date” thing and I have also never been a Nice Guy (TM) because I have never been bitter at women for failing to give me a date.
Ok, but as others have said the problem is that the term is applied for a wide range of male behavior. For example I don’t necessarily see any problem with a guy who says: “I’m a nice guy, why don’t women want to go out with me?” Maybe he’s an entitled asshole, maybe he’s not. Without knowing the guy, without more context it’s impossible to say. The thing is, if you label any man who complains about his lack of romantic success or shows hints of Nice-Guy-ism as a Nice Guy (TM) it becomes impossible for them to express sadness or confusion without getting shamed for it. That’s what I mean with policing masculinity, because Real Men don’t complain they suck it up.
(Otherwise it wouldn’t be a feminist concern, would it? If this was just a thing men did feminists wouldn’t have any need nor any right to talk about it. There’s plenty of other Dating Behaviors That Don’t Harm Women that feminists ignore; there must be a reason that they pay attention to this, and it’s exactly because THIS dating behavior DOES harm women.)
That’s a good question: Why is it such a big concern for some feminists for example Marcotte? Or better is the harm Nice Guys (TM) cause in any proportion to the contempt for them? Obviously there is a reason that feminists pay attention to this but it’s not solely about the harm. There is more to it.
Yeah, but unfortunately feelings are not a substitute for reasoned discourse. Because I’m not saying that and don’t know where you’re getting it from.. It would be a false dichotomy for you to suggest that the only choices you have is to skewer them with hateful Nice Guy(TM) labels or else “pity” them and realize how amazing and lovable they are and strip down naked and jump in their beds.
If you’ve been listening, you’ll note that I emphatically said that it’s not up to you as a woman to have to do anything for them if you don’t want to. My argument, if you’ve been listening to anything that I’ve said, is that Nice Guys are an inherent product of the gendered dating script, which is not your fault, but also contrary to what you’re saying, it’s not their fault, either. Simply put, don’t blame them for finding themselves in the predicament that they’re in. Don’t mock them, don’t disparage them, don’t go out of your way to invalidate their personal pain.
Think about it this way. If all of these Nice Guy(TM) that you hate so much suddenly found themselves in a position of having to sift through numerous dating requests and reject all but one, how do you think they would act? Would the Nice Guy(TM) stereotype that you rail against have any significance in a different set of circumstances?
I have rarely, if ever, met a feminist bothering with that kind of distinctions before putting the Nice Guy-label on someone.
I have had (non-romantic) girlfriends dump me as a friend after being “too nice” to them when trying to put the pieces back together after a bad break-up, e.g. being cheated on, etc.
After telling that story in discussions , I’ve been told that they had probably had one too many “Nice Guy” trying to sneak their way into their (the girls’) pants, and that they were totally entitled in thinking that I was probably doing the same.
I’m curious as to why some people seem justified to let previous experience have influence on their expectations and prejudices on others, while others are just plain creeps and assholes if they allow themselves to do the same.
@L, incidentally, the word “pity” is loaded with condescending overtones. If you pitied them, it wouldn’t really be much of a change from your current attitude.
Citation granted. You just said it. How fucking hilarious is that?
I know a guy who makes $150,000 per year, drives a Mercedes, but he lives in his parent’s basement and plays Marvel Vs Capcom day and night and practically worships the big name players that finish on top in the tournaments. But you still say that he’s a “people child.” I guess making it “gender neutral” lets you off the hook, right? No, it doesn’t. You just implied that there is something missing from his life. That he’s not productive enough. And why is that? Is it because he never gets a date and he is that Nice Guy that you hate so much? Yes, why yes it is. The only thing that he’s not working hard enough on is the quest to try to find a wife and support her. In fact, he absolutely hates the idea of supporting a woman. And he never heard of MGTOW, he just decided on his own that women have always treated him like shit and he wasn’t going to give a fuck anymore.
Um, a guy who makes $150,000 per year who still lives at home *is* a manchild. I’m sorry, but really? I lived with my parents until I was 27 because either a) I was still in school, or b) couldn’t afford it. What’s this guy’s excuse.
@dungone: You’re getting unnecessarily hostile. No, really. All I’m trying to do is fucking understand what you’re saying, and asking you about points you’re making where they don’t seem clear to me, or they appear to contradict. Jeso Christo. God forbid I ask what you mean instead of going all Cosmo on you and making assumptions about your intentions and ideas based on what direction you look when you talk or something ACTUALLY irrelevant to the words you’re typing.
“Simply put, don’t blame them for finding themselves in the predicament that they’re in. Don’t mock them, don’t disparage them, don’t go out of your way to invalidate their personal pain.”
Okay, this is all well and good if this is your ultimate argument. I don’t think anyone here would disagree with you, so I don’t understand why you continue to phrase your claims as though everyone is jumping down your throat about it.
I, and no one else here, it appears, is taking umbrage with the -situation- that Nice Guys (even though our definitions of Nice Guy seems to be at odds because you seem unable to acknowledge that there -are- guys out there that are nothing but assholes, even though those are specifically the breed of Nice Guy that I’m talking about, so I’m going to go with your implied definition of “hurt, wronged, and bitter dating scene participant”), but it’s still entirely their responsibility to not take out their bad luck on others. That’s basic human decency. Being irritating, abrasive, offensive, and disrespectful are choices. What we do to others is completely within our control, not what others do to us. So get mad at the rude, disrespectful women who contribute to the creation of a Nice Guy, and then get just as mad at the Nice Guy that’s chosen to act like a disrespectful cad.
Yes or no?
“I know a guy who makes $150,000 per year, drives a Mercedes, but he lives in his parent’s basement and plays Marvel Vs Capcom day and night and practically worships the big name players that finish on top in the tournaments.”
For someone that’s constantly railing against the heteronormative narrative that prescribes narrowly-defined gender roles that disadvantages men, women, and everyone in between, I find this attempt to impress me quite funny. You are assuming that a man that makes a lot of money and drives a nice car is successful; I don’t. When I said productive, I meant something creative, be that a hobby, or a job that requires problem-solving, or being involved in activism/community-building, or doing volunteer work, etc. Salary and cars mean absolutely nothing to me, so I based on your description of this individual, I would still consider him a person-child. And I’m so sorry that you took offense to my including non-males in the equation. I guess my knowing female examples that fit the bill isn’t good enough for you.
I’ve noticed an odd commonality between some women’s (The_L’s for example) experiences with Nice Guys, and the more or less vintage male Nice Guy complaint that Noah Brand discusses a ways above.
I call it the “what am I, chopped liver?” factor.
And I think it illustrates a very common kind of rudeness that goes both ways. In the stereotype male case, it is a woman who uses the man as a crying shoulder about other men as if he himself were not a sexualized being in her eyes. In the female case, it is a Nice Guy who still proclaims himself to be a virgin (!) or continues to lament his inability to date attractive women, as if the women he was with simply did not rate or did not count in some way.
Now I have had many, many platonic friendships with women and basically this story line did not happen to me — maybe because I am an intellectual and I love to talk about ideas, so there was always a basis for the friendship that did not involve talking about their love lives. Maybe I deflected the conversation if it was going there.
People are limited and fallible beings, and it is the beginning of compassion and empathy to understand that. They will have resentments and envy that they “shouldn’t,” and real friends will understand this and not fall into treating the other person like “chopped liver.” In the heterosexual world, I think that women’s fears of not being attractive are something men should avoid tripping on, while women need to understand that for many men the humiliation comes from feeling oneself to be a eunuch-ized being who is never thought of in a sexual light.
To me person-childs are those who expect society to conform to their individual comfort levels. To these people I say, “grow up”.
@monkey, I knew someone would say that, which is why I saved the best for last: he owns the house. It’s his. Sure, he grew up in it since he was 8 years old, but the mortgage has his name on it and he pays for it – both of his parents are officially retired. Not only that, but besides working full time at his $150,000 a year job, he also spends the weekends working to keep his dad’s carpentry business afloat. So he actually renovated the entire house from the ground up, installing a sauna, a smoke room, a pool table, his own kitchen, bathroom, a patio, doing all the tile work, flooring, drywall – everything him by hand, with a level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that can only be described as obsessive. In fact, he’s not even a 20-something, he’s in his 30’s. So yeah, he lives with his parents. And he’s probably more of a “man” than the most dotingly devoted father This is just your gender-normative expectation talking and I wanted to wait until it came up in order to point out just how much gender enforcement goes into this whole Nice Guy thing.
Though I myself have never had a “nice guy” interested in me, I have been friends with one or two men who would complain to me about how their other female friends would complain to them about guys that they’re dating. Irony thy name is people.
Anyway! Most of my advice revolved around telling them to be straight forward, taking no for an answer and steering conversations to new topics when their female friends wanted to once again complain about the men they dated or liked or whatever.
It never occurred to me, however, that “nice guys” could also be alienating or even bashing other men with their commentary about women only dating assholes.
See these four comics for examples:
@dungone: Whoa hoh! You certainly got us. Wow, aren’t you clever for withholding all of the important information and getting us to judge a completely different person than who you were initially describing! All of my arguments are now invalid.
That’s like me saying “I know someone who killed their dog” vs “Well actually their dog was really old and had a brain tumor and was in a lot of pain so she took him to the vet and him put down”. Ha! You originally called her a horrible person that should be locked up at first but now that I reveal to you the whole picture you find out that your initial assessment was wrong! I sure showed you!
So, in fact, you deliberately described him inaccurately to get a reaction, and are now going “Haha! Tricked you!”
Rather dishonest, in my opinion. If you’d presented those facts to begin with, the judgement may have been different.
I suggest questioning one’s own assumptions first.
Dungone: She wants a particular kind of guy – not the kind of guy who asks her out, but the kind of guy who chases after big breasted blonde bimbos.
You reminded me of a line by Jay McInerney in his novel Bright Lights, Big City: “Why am I going to a place like this, looking for the type of girl who never goes to a place like this?”
I think this sums up the problem, from the perspective of both genders.
How do we change this situation? More self-awareness?
L, I don’t find many of your questions to be genuine and it certainly doesn’t helps when you add little embellishments such as “I found this hillarious, too” in response to things I said that you disagreed with. Doesn’t sound like you’re just looking for a clarification to me.
Bottom line is this: this is why I had to pull one over you. It’s not me who told you, “I know someone who killed their dog,” it’s you who mades the assumption that you can’t be a good man if all you do is play video games. You said,
and if I had told you the whole story up front, you would have turned around and said that it’s really more like the “dog had a brain tumor and it was so humane…” But all it took for you to call someone a “man child” is the idea that he spends a lot of time playing video games. As if video games are not a hobby, can’t be creative, don’t require problem solving, or being involved in a community? I don’t even play video games, but I know that you are wrong on all counts. So I had no choice except to prove to everyone that you would call someone a “man child” based on a stereotype alone.
“it’s you who mades the assumption that you can’t be a good man if all you do is play video games.”
The problem is, that guy does a lot more than play video games, and that’s the *whole damn point*. You’re going after a total strawman, here, I’m sorry. I’m a 23 year old college graduate who’s lived with a bunch of guys these past 5 years, been friends with mostly guys my entire life, and grew up gaming in a nerdy family. I’m not speaking from an outside perspective AT ALL. I know exactly the stereotype, and they exist. I LIVE with one.
Surely someone who has a $150,000 job does more than play video games by definition: he does his job. Why should he have to have hobbies unrelated to video games to prove he’s grown up?
Listen Hanna Rosin had to say about gender non-conforming guys in her article, The End Of Men. Once again, for those who wanted evidence of feminists who are out to enforce male gender roles:
Ironically, it’s those guys who play video games in each other’s rooms that are going to end up bringing home the bacon and supporting women like Ashley Burress when she decides to drop out of the workforce sometime in her late twenties or early thirties. You see, she reserves that right for herself because she is a woman, but she cannot accept that a man has an equivalent right of self-determination. No, she could never bring herself to accept sexual attention from a man who isn’t an out and out provider. Which is the whole damn problem. Women with high school educations are still getting married to doctors and lawyers, but all of a sudden when Dr. Burress decides that she’s every bit a man’s equal, suddenly she’s too good to be a provider to a “lesser” man.
That is a problem – with what you said, not with what I said. You demand that men do “a lot more than play video games” and consider them worthless if that’s all they do. You even made an assumption that a guy was worthless based on knowing nothing more than the fact that he LOVES video games. The fundamental problem is that you’re wrong and I am saying that in no uncertain terms. Wrong. It’s something that men do, and you don’t like it. That’s all that this entire thing boils down to You want men to conform to who you expect them to be instead of accepting them for who they want to be.
This is why I found the Feministe post, “The Sexual Appeal of Non-Gender-Conformity” so ironic and idiotic. In that post, a woman who has a kink for muscular men who wear tutus, so for her, men who are non-conformist by wearing tutus are hot. Because she wants them. Hooray for men in tutus! But you know what the vast majority of sexually non-conformist men do? THEY PLAY VIDEO GAMES. They don’t “provide” for anyone – not society, not women – they don’t sacrifice anything. They’re just happy enough to be themselves and have fun! And here you are getting all mother superior about it, telling me that you know just how useless these men are and that I just don’t get it, I don’t understand the way you do. Oh yeah, I understand it alright…
I think that comic is interesting and it’s given me a new idea about Nice Guys TM.
To run with your analogy, it would be somewhat sensible to dance a Charleston on the roof and expect to get paid, if there were people who kept going on and on about how they wished the Charleston were danced upon said rooftop and that’s what they were truly waiting for, someone to dance the Charleston upon the rooftop dressed as Ben Franklin that they could then shower with money. If however, you only THOUGHT that people were saying this and in fact, nothing of the sort was going on and your assumption was based on a cultural meme and occasional frustrated comments from people about how other people need to take life less seriously and do things like dance upon the rooftops every now and then, then it wouldn’t really be sensible. And when you got frustrated and started bitching about how no one was giving you money, then other people would call you entitled, when really, what your problem is that you actually need to listen to what those other people were actually saying (not listening to other people and instead going on your idea of what they’re saying is also kind of a dick move, but it’s not necessarily feeling entitled).
To apply this to the comic, Tom’s reply isn’t completely crazy considering Lucy’s set-up of “I only date jerks. I wish to date a ‘nice guy,’ something that has eluded me in my dating life.” The question is whether this is something that women consistently say and not just a sitcom meme. In my experience, most women I know don’t say that and I’d guess that this is true for many feminists who ascribe to the Nice Guy TM idea. Other people’s experience may differ.
In short, I think that Nice Guys TM have this idea of women who are constantly having their hearts broken by macho jerks and going on and on about how they want a nice caring guy, who is oh so rare in their dating life (which is an idea that does exist in our culture). However, I don’t think most women (and certainly most feminists) describe their love lives like that, aside from maybe that short time period right when you break up with someone and you’re pissed at life.
Depends on the Wii games. I’m willing to play certain Wii games, much less others (most games on that console) and not willing to pay either the games or the console. I own a PS3, and am reluctant to buy games or the PlayStation Move stuff even when it’s more of my game genre (Japanese Role-Playing-Games mainly, like Final Fantasy main series, or Star Ocean series).
I play mostly solo though I’m not against games with two players, even an occasional bout of Super Smash (whichever version) for an hour, but party games aren’t my thing.
Back in my college days they had these little devices called answering machines that had a little tape in them that would record things for you before the invention of “voicemail.” I had one of those machines and the little tape in it got filled up from women bawling their eyes out for 15-20 minutes per message because some “jerk” they were dating had “cheated/dumped/lied/ruined everything.” I still have those tapes, so maybe I could upload them to NSWATM one time and we could all listen to them and decide for ourselves. I will be quite interested in hearing what you will say about the one woman who left me such a message where she literally said, “why can’t I meet a guy like you (boo-hoo, boo-hoo).” I remember immediately calling her back and asking her out and she said “I’m sorry… we are just friends.”
I frankly don’t get how videogames are considered less creative, less interesting, and how in fuck are they supposed to be productive? Stamp collecting is productive? Model-assembling is productive? TV-watching is productive? Playing some sport with your friends in the street is productive? No, it’s probably something you do because you like it and derive some form of pleasure from it.
I personally wouldn’t consider someone who chose to live with their parents, yet is autonomous (can do their laundry, feed, clothes themselves etc) as a “man-child” (or the gender-neutral equivalent).
Though I do consider the notion that people who can’t for certain non-physical reasons (ie not because you’re in a wheelchair) are just children pretty ableist. I couldn’t live alone. Doesn’t necessarily mean I would stay with my parents, but between being trans, being aspie, and not knowing anyone else, I’m either with my brothers (who are now all adults), or with my mother, or with my boyfriend (as like now). I could NOT live alone, I’d forget half the things I have to do. Be unmotivated to do anything and other problems, not to mention feeling lonely as heck.
I’ll respect someone who has a good relation with their parents, enough to not resent one or both of them, and prefers to stay with them as opposed to staying alone in some place or having housemates they don’t know half as much as their parents (at best). Your parents are either the best or the worst housemates, but having lived with them before, you know the deal beforehand. Housemates not so much.
We are staging a Hugh invasion here.
I’m pretty sure that I’ve acknowledged the entitlement attitudes of a subset of men who identify as “nice guys.” I think where are views differ is that the evidence I require before calling a guy “entitled” is a lot stricter than for you.
I feel that self-identified “nice guys” often hold all sorts of dysfunctional and misogynistic attitudes. But that doesn’t necessarily mean “entitlement.”
For instance, the part of Tom’s speech you quote reads as misogynistic (for calling all women liars, and saying “fuck you” to them from all men), but it doesn’t demonstrate entitlement. Could Tom hold entitlement? Yes, it could certainly be consistent with what he said. But is that obvious? No.
Well, if they don’t come out and say that how, how can you be sure? You see “subtle” indicators of entitlement. But I think that if you are going to make a label to slur a group of people who are in a tough place, you might want to stick with what people say directly. As you’ve shown in your links, there are already plenty of resentful and misogynistic attitudes in some self-identified “nice guys” that we can pick on, without needing to infer entitlement that might not be there.
And no, just because a guy is misogynistic, it doesn’t necessarily means that he feels entitlement. Misogyny, like any form of prejudice, has many forms.
To me, that assumption doesn’t look logical at all! Yes the complaint because “I am friendly and decent and polite, but “women” do not then have sex with me” could be followed up by “but they should, because behavior that way entitles me to female attention.” But it could also be followed up by other views:
– “Why?” This guy is simply making the complaint because he is confused, not because he thinks women should act differently. He is trying to figure out which piece of his worldview is wrong, or what he is doing wrong.
– “But they should, if they want to date guys who treat them well.” That’s not entitlement, because the “should” is in reference to her potential desires, not due to some obligation. This guy doesn’t think that women “should” date guys who treat them well, but that if they want such guys, then they should date guys like him to satisfy their own preferences. That view might be false: women might have no trouble finding guys who treat them satisfactorily, other than him. It might be patronizing, because he thinks he knows how women can satisfy their preferences better than they do. But it isn’t showing entitlement.
I think the nature of the complaints of “nice guys” varies, so I don’t think it’s fair to make assumptions of entitlement without evidence. As for actual evidence of entitlement, look at something like this, where the guy (though not identified as a “nice guy”) clearly says that she “should” have rejected him a different way, which I would be comfortable calling “entitlement.”
Yes, the notion of “reciprocating” human decency “in kind” with physical intimacy is the closest idea we’ve seen to entitlement. Still, there is another possible non-gibberish explanation.
Some people have been socialized with exchange notions of sexuality, might believe that decency being reciprocated with sex is just how things work. So if you see your decency not being reciprocated with sex, you might be confused, but that’s not the same thing as being entitled.
Yet “reciprocation” does carry a moral connotation, so I think you can make a plausible case for entitlement here.
Still, I don’t know what proportion of self-identified “nice guys” hold this attitude of reciprocation, and I have trouble assuming that they are operating with this attitude “whether they know if or not.” That’s way to much of an assumption to serve as a fair basis for a stigmatizing label. Can’t we just stick to criticizing what people actually say, rather than inferring motives using skimpy evidence and our own biased assumptions?
As a cynic, you might not be so worried about assuming the worst, in which case I expect that you would be similarly eager to read entitlement and other sinister motives into women’s dating complaints, also.
@Hugh Ristik, about that link with the email, I can’t help but agree with the writer at least on principle, if not the method in which he tries to justify himself. Not calling someone back after a date is immature behavior that may lead someone to feel humiliated. Those are pretty legitimate feelings to have, especially for a guy who has a very difficult time dating. So I don’t see a very strong sense of entitlement. He repeatedly opens himself up to the idea that she might not want to date him and he just wants to know if it’s true or not. It seems to me that he is really confused and is doing a lot of back and forth on what’s going on. He obviously does not know what to expect and he’s desperate to understand. The main thing that I disagree with is not the what he said, but who he said it to. He should have told his therapist, not the woman he’s trying to date. Oy Vey…
No, that letter shows a total misunderstanding of human nonverbal communication, and about our nonrational being in general, which is just as much a part of us (and in my opinion to be treasured) as our rational being. We do not “send signals” that can be “decoded,” half the time we don’t know what we want, we find out what we are doing in the doing and what we are saying in the saying. We learn that we cannot easily fix ourselves for others’ expectations (or even “to improve ourselves”). Asking for an itemized list of why you are rejected is asking for trouble. Just assume it is a flaw in that other person, that she for some strange reason does not appreciate one’s own special snowflakeness — and if she doesn’t, wouldn’t the worst thing be to be involved with her?
I used to think that not calling someone back after a date was rude, but nowadays, I feel differently. After dating and socializing a lot, and learning about the concept of “flaking” from pickup, I feel that not calling someone back appears to be a common way to reject someone. And you know? After being on both ends of it, I think it’s actually reasonably efficient.
I’ve gone on online dates with people, but been disappointed by finding out that (a) they didn’t look as good as their photos, and (b) they weren’t particular interesting and were emotionally draining to be around. After the date, I didn’t contact them. They didn’t contact me, either because they weren’t interested in me either, or because they assumed I wasn’t interested.
I couldn’t lift a finger to type out a message. Just thinking about what to write was emotionally draining. And I started to understand why people often don’t call back.
If you don’t want a second date with someone, you can just leave it, and not call them back. If they are socially experienced, they will get the picture. Likewise, if someone doesn’t call you back for several days or a week, then you can assume that they aren’t interested.
Yes, it’s tough to whoever has to wait around by the phone. And it can often be a good thing to give a more explicit rejection. I just disagree that giving an explicit rejection should be an obligation.
Explicit rejections can be tough to give. Someone like you or I might be able to take them well, but not everyone is like us. Furthermore, if things are so dysfunctional that you want to reject someone, sometimes the interaction was so dysfunctional that you don’t want to explain why, because you are worried about how they might react.
In this case, she said that the first date was “horrible,” and I’m sure the guy had revealing his lack of awareness of social norms. If he was so unaware, then she could have expected that explicitly rejecting him would have led to a horrible discussion, also.
The guy in the example seems to feel that she is obligated to give him a certain sort of explanation, and I do think that sounds like entitlement.
Nevertheless, I do feel that the guy has suffered a great injustice. Not from her, but from society for failing to educate him about the actual norms that people use for dating. In general, I think that initiating is harder for most people, and people who don’t understand why they are rejected are in a tough spot.
Rather than expecting rejectors to be educators, I think the solution is for society to educate people better about preferences and norms in dating. If society educated people better, then they would be able to handle rejection better, and rejectors would feel more comfortable explaining why, or they wouldn’t even need to.
Part of the disconnect between Nice Guys TM and the feminists who mock them could be in part because Nice Guys TM may actually be a party to those experiences and the above-mentioned feminists usually aren’t.
@humbition, treasure it if you want but I’m avoiding that at all costs. Worship of the irrational seems like a one way ticket to, well, the way life on this planet is already heading.
I agree with you about that letter, though. It shows an incredible amount of confusion about body language. Even though he comes off as trying to tell the woman what she was communicating, the fundamental reason why he wrote the letter in the first place was because he’s utterly confused. I’m going to quote myself from another thread because this came up there as well:
I think it changes your perspective a little if you can read a letter like that with some of the possible context. Generalized anxiety disorder can be pretty crippling, especially when it’s time to wade through the intricate nuance of the dating scene. Which is why I think it’s important to think of people who you might encounter on the dating scene who are mentally ill or disabled, who just can’t understand things, and if you want to go to sleep at night thinking yourself to be a compassionate human being, try to communicate with them on their level. Call them back, say you’re not interested. Those things are not about entitlement, they just boil down to basic human decency. I have personally dated one girl who was agoraphobic and it was really difficult because she would get really angry and upset when we were walking into a crowded place and I didn’t always realize why right away. But I don’t think it was entitled of her when we sat down on the sidewalk together and talked it out and possibly just turn around and go home if things weren’t right. Those are just basic things that we perform for other people as a matter of course and they are a sign of maturity.
@Hugh, I often compare dating culture to work culture. I hold work culture as my benchmark for mature behavior and I ask myself why dating culture should deviate from it.
Walking off the job without notice. Usually, young, immature workers do this. “Flakes.” They’re unemployable and walking off the job is bad for future job prospects. Likewise, younger, immature daters are more likely to be the ones who walk off and you never hear from them again. Again, there is a strong correlation between maturity levels as well as this form of rejection. It is immature by association.
Likewise, when you interview for a job, they always call you back and tell you whether you got it or you didn’t. Not calling back a candidate who put in a lot of effort to take time off from his other job, dress up, put his best foot forward, it’s considered extremely unprofessional and is frowned upon. Usually someone from HR does the calling. It would be a really great idea if instead of ignoring the person altogether, young people would at least ask a friend. In several cases, I had a mutual friend call me back about a date that didn’t go well. No sweat and much appreciated. But the only reason I got those calls is because the mutual friend was the one who found herself in a bit of a bind.
And certainly, when they fire you, they let you know. It’s not like the movie Office Space where they tell the guy to move his shit to the basement and stop depositing his paychecks. That would be illegal. But it’s perfectly acceptable in dating culture especially among younger, immature daters. Again, it’s immature by association.
Generally not calling someone back is not something I respect. If you want to meet an amazing person and have a relationship, you need to do some hard work and spend a lot of time and effort. It’s pretty fucking selfish to only spend that effort when it’s in your own best interest. Be courteous to others as well. You gave them a couple hours of your life, make those couple hours represent who you really want to be as a person.
Ah, the things people just leave you to figure out on your own. I remember when I was, like, 21 or 22 or something a guy I’d asked out and gone on one date with, did this to me, and I actually did that whole leaving a message to the effect of “So, hey, you didn’t call me. What was up with that?” thing. More than one message. Yes, I was like a less obnoxious Dmitri the Lover. God, I cringe thinking about it. It actually took this happening with two different people before I got the hint that this is just how it works. Now I can just skip right to the, “Oh, I’ve been rejected,” Disappointment with less of the “Why is this happening? What’s going on?” in the middle.
Yeah. I pretty much agree.
@Dungone, it’s good to take into account that the reject-ee may not necessarily want to hear the rejection either, especially if they’ve already deduced that they have been rejected. It’s like when you screw something up really obviously in front of other people, sometimes all you want is for them to pretend they never saw it happen so you can dust yourself off with slightly more dignity.
Hmm, I think I’m correct in thinking this was a reference to my anecdote? If not apologies. Just wanted to briefly note in defense of the guy in question, that I never described him as a Nice Guy TM and I don’t think he was. I do think he did some uncool things, but mostly because he just didn’t know what he was doing. And how could he have? I was the first girl he ever dated. Sure, I was/am annoyed, but I’m not going to dislike him as a person or write him off as a Nice Guy TM because of it. Amnesty for the mistakes of inexperience, right?
@Cactuar, when I really screw up royally on a date and just want to pretend it never happened, I usually don’t leave 2-3 messages on her phone asking her to call me back about our next date xD Other than that I agree with your point. But if they want some feedback, I just think it’s common courtesy to say you’re not interested.
Now, about the thing that Hugh Ristik said about the PUA techniques… I really just disagree with their point of view. Just because people act a certain way doesn’t make it right. I don’t think anyone should tolerate flaky behavior and just accept it as the way things are. I think it’s a really undesirable quality in a person. Let’s put it this way: even if she was in love with me, I just don’t want to date a woman who would do that to others. If she did it to others, she’ll do it to me eventually. I don’t want to be with a woman who just treats me with dignity, but one who treats all people with dignity.
This is what I don’t like about PUA approaches, something that I have come to realize more and more – they’re about getting laid from whatever choice of women that happen to be available at the time, even if there aren’t any good choices. They put a bandaid on a bigger problem and don’t really teach men how to find the woman they can have a long term relationship with. They just show them how to find any woman. That’s never been my prerogative. I want to have an impactful presence in the world around me. If there aren’t any good options, I want to be a force that makes the world better and creates those options. I believe that, unlike PUA, the only way to truly get what you really need is to be true to yourself and accept no substitutes..
If “Nice Guy ™” is allowed to be agendered, “Sixteen Year Old Girl” is allowed to be agendered.
Humbition, Hugh Ristik, Cactuar… my comment came out of mod. Please consider it… from December 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm
Also, and perhaps more pointedly, I feel like these are the growing pains of most normal social behavior. “I like only the best stuff” extends to “I like this person, therefore they must be the best person.” And it sort of warps from there.
Ozy, you’re my favorite blogger here and I do believe this post was made with the best of intentions. However, I have to disagree with the fundamental premise of the OP, which is that socially constructed, problematic “Nice”-ness is gender neutral and that Nice Girls are the exact female equivalent to Nice Guys. The behavior that’s being derided as (non-)Nice refers to a specific way certain men have fell back upon to circumvent the need to lead the way to sex and relationships. Its history, no less its real world manifestation, is gendered; “Nice Guy” is a term that evolved organically out of existing cultural memes. “Nice Girl” is forced, reverse-engineered, and artificial. I have no doubt that true Nice Girls, opposite sex clones of stereotypical Nice Guys, exist, but I think they are greatly outnumbered by, well, actual stereotypical Nice Guys. You may be sincere, but that’s why some people want to push the term – they want to say that women are part of the problem, but it’s still mostly men. I think there is a more salient female equivalent, but some of the same people who pat themselves on the back for “conceding” that Nice Girls exist would fume at the comparison, because it’s actually defining an expression of female entitlement on its own terms, rather than designating it as a subset of a larger male one.
Because to back up a bit, where did the term “Nice Guy” come from, anyway? It’s what hard luck guys, fresh off a rejection, refer to themselves as when they’re telling their story to their guy friends. If the guy doesn’t say this himself, it’s what his best bud may console him with. And yes, it could serve as the title of some rather ill-advised, prejudiced rants on the part of some men. There is a female equivalent to all this, and it’s not “Nice Girl”.
I call it the “Smart, Independent Woman”. It doesn’t roll off the tongue the way “Nice Guy” does, but as a comparison it is the true counterpart. There is definitely a huge litany of female complaints out there that men don’t want smart women, or accomplished women, or women who “challenge” them, and they’re all rife with entitlement and problematic assumptions. Why exactly an advanced degree should be the primary factor, or even a primary factor, that a man looks for in a woman is hard to explain, unless the woman is just being entitled. Why does she get to dictate when men go for? And the idea that men only want bimbos and that we can’t “handle” real women, or strong women, is very misandrist – not to mention the misogynist undertones of “bimbo”. Both types, Nice Guy and Strong, Independent Women, go contrary to certain gender scripts and feel like they’re punished for it. And they both sort of represent the “default” complaint that men and women fall back upon; men say they are too “nice” for women to be attracted, and only rarely do you hear a woman complaining the same. Women say they are too “independent” for men to handle, and very rarely do you hear a man gripe using the same terms.
Andie references a similar idea early in the thread:
“You’re right though.. it’s not just a guy thing.. I know a lot of women (and have fallen prey to it myself) who fall into the “I’m awesome and guys just don’t like me because all they want are the shallow bitches who look like Barbie” type of bitterness.”
… and perhaps you may say that the OP covers what I’m talking about, that it’s a specific manifestation of it. But personally I’m not going to go along with calling it “Nice Girl”-ness. Beyond the fact that the women I’m talking most often *pride* themselves in acting non-stereotypically nice, “Nice X” is a gendered phrase and calling it this comes too close to saying that problematic and prejudiced female attitudes are merely derivative of male ones. I think “Smart, Independent Woman”, or something similar, is a much better description of women who make the types of complaints Andie alludes to, how they self-identify emotionally, and the narratives of victimhood they construct in their head. If my use of the term bothers anyone, perhaps you should examine why, and compare it to how so many men react to the term “Nice Guy”.
Personally, I actually do think Strong, Independent Women have legitimate complaints some times, and I exaggerated some of what I wrote above for the sake of sounding like a reverse counterpart to the way some people talk about Nice Guys. Feel free to ask me more about these are. But for now, I’m asking you, Ozy, specifically, whether or not you think my analogy works better, and why, because I’m interested.
In re: the cardboard cutout story:
OK, a lot of people seem to think that I was making some sort of mention about how attractive Orlando Bloom was. I was insanely clueless about social interaction and gender roles back then, but I did at least know enough to realize that that is very insensitive. So here’s the entire story, including some details that I left out that apparently turned out to be major.
We were passing by a store that sells cardboard cutouts, around the time one of those Pirates of the Caribbean movies came out. One of the new cutouts in the window was Orlando Bloom as Will Turner. I said, “Oh. It’s Orlando Bloom.” He flipped his shit over a casual observation that the store had set out an Orlando Bloom cutout since the last time we were there. We had watched the first movie together by that point, and both enjoyed it. I had made it clear that his pinups on the wall didn’t bother me (he had some old magazine cutouts of popular female video game characters in very sexy outfits). It was like, somehow it was OK for him to fantasize about other women he could never have, but it wasn’t OK for me to casually mention the existence of a man whom most women consider attractive.
If that doesn’t have Nice Guy written all over it, I’ll eat my hat.
@Schala: I was referring to the Wii and games that I already own. >.> It would be kind of stupid to ask the guy I’m dating to buy a whole new console and games that I already have. And I’m certainly not asking for him to become a mindless Nintendo fanboy–I enjoy 360 and PS3 games too, I just don’t have the money to go out and get a 360 or a PS3, so instead I buy used Wii games that look entertaining.
“We were passing by a store that sells cardboard cutouts, around the time one of those Pirates of the Caribbean movies came out. One of the new cutouts in the window was Orlando Bloom as Will Turner. I said, “Oh. It’s Orlando Bloom.” He flipped his shit over a casual observation that the store had set out an Orlando Bloom cutout since the last time we were there.”
Yeah, that’s not normal behavior. You’re better off without him.
That’s a surprisingly good suggestion you’ve made there and, I agree, a bit more equivalent to what’s happening i.e., one gender deciding what the other gender should be attracted to.
At the same time tho’, the women I hear complaining about how much their strength and intelligence is just too much for men to handle tend to have rather assertive type A personalities. Most of the complaints about women not liking nice guys seem to come from more passive, depressive types. Other than the cross-gender lecturing and control issues they’re quite different groups.
Re: Nice Girls, I haven’t heard this in a while, but women used to say “She has a nice personality” to try to setup their boring unattractive friends.
Re: Nice Guys, the underlying implication is that they’re not very nice at all and get over-attached and display threatening or stalkerish behavior. The female equivalent is usually described as “the creepy girl” rather than “the nice girl”. The part about casting spells struck home and reminded me of a couple creepy girls. Also, weird glaring across the room, long rambling non-sensical letters/emails, hang-up phone calls (pre-cellphone), etc.
@ The L
I’d never be nuts enough to bark at someone for enjoying the eye-candy of their choice (Yelling at someone in public? Why that’s another way to make noise in public. Someone might look at me! Complaining to my girlfriend?! Doesn’t he know that if you do that she’ll totally know what he’s thinking? :O Noooooooo! Yeah, I was messsed up. ), but your ex’s refusal to see the reality contradicting his own self-pitying narrative sure sounds familiar. I used to tie myself in knots trying to figure out how some lady being into me must actually be making some sort of mistake, that she would really be like ‘most women’ if circumstances were different, and that somewhere deep inside she was probably quite sane and there was some reason I wasn’t understanding forr why she was making such a crazy choice.
I don’t think I’ve ever nice guy’ed anyone, but its funny how similar the logical dissonance can be for any sort of emotional instability.
My boyfriend had a Xbox 360 “Arcade” when we met. I had a PS2 slim in white. I quickly enough bought a PS3 slim in black. For Final Fantasy XIII mainly, but eventually Star Ocean International and Gran Turismo 5. We don’t have a Wii. If we ‘won’ a Wii, we’re not sure what we would play on it.
I was a Nintendo fangirl in the 8 and 16 bits era (and still own a working console of each – from back then, when I did play as a kid and teen – I just don’t trust the consoles to work good enough so it’s emulator for nostalgia). In the 32-64, 128 and 512 bits era (512 bits is now until a big player decides to get out a 8th generation console), I’m a Sony fangirl.
It’s funny some because my inner child is pretty ‘present’ let’s say. But that doesn’t make me like Nintendo more.
Interesting fact: Nintendo set up Sony to become a competitor when they asked them to design some data+audio+video CD system that could work on a console, but later cancelled the deal when it was almost completed (mainly due to something about the contract they signed giving too much power to Sony). The PlayStation was born 2 years later, in 1995 (for us not in Japan). The name for the joint project was Play Station, with a space.
Work culture has norms that are efficient for work culture, while dating culture has norms that are efficient for dating culture. Work culture is a lot more regimented and impersonal: “it’s just business.” That’s a tougher attitude to take towards interpersonal relationships.
In work culture, there are also norms for rejected applicants to take the rejection is a classy way. If they lash out, it could hurt their job reputation.
In contrast, in dating culture, my intuition is that rejected people are more likely to lash out or try to badger the rejector into changing their minds, or criticize their reasoning. Most rejected people don’t do this, but if it’s more of a risk in dating culture than in work culture, it could explaining why people are shyer about giving rejections in dating culture.
Furthermore, in work culture, as you point out, often the interviewer and the rejector are not the same person. That’s a completely different structure from dating: it’s a lot more impersonal, which makes giving the rejection emotionally easier. In dating, people don’t have HR departments.
As you also observe, it can be efficient for a friend to act as a go-between, serving the role of the HR person. In some situations this can work, but unlike HR professionals, friends aren’t getting paid, so it’s not always fair or efficient to use friends as go-betweens.
If there was a norm in work culture that if you don’t hear back three days after an interview, you didn’t get the job? As long as people agreed on the norm, it could work. Or maybe sometime in the future, every company and dating person will run a website, and you can check the status of your employment or dating application on the web.
There can be multiple ways of doing things that all work fairly well. It’s not clear that any of these solutions are morally superior to another. What mainly matters is which one people accept as the norm.
In summary, I think that giving rejection carries more potential costs in the dating world than in the corporate world.
I’ll continue my response in another comment.
You’d be surprised. Ironically, I just came back from interviewing a young woman who, sadly, won’t get the job. The director liked her so much, he wanted to HR rep to pass on some feedback about how to do better in the future. HR rep said yeah, no. Given the opportunity, candidates would love to badger an employer and debate the merits of the decision they’ve made not to hire them. I find that it’s up to the employer to ensure that the candidate does not get the opportunity to lash out. So if you get the impression that there candidates manage to restrain themselves, it speaks more of the professionalism of the interviewer and the process that got put in place. Calling them back and letting them know if they got the gig is mandatory, it prevents badgering. It’s not less personal than what we are comparing it to, which is dropping off the face of the earth. So let’s use that as the comparison – even in an impersonal, strictly business atmosphere, they still respect you enough to call back.
But what I’ve been wondering, is why is it actually so bad to reject someone by not calling them back?
And first, I should clarify that I’m only talking about cases where people initially met, or perhaps went out on one date. Any more interaction, and I think an explicit rejection is warranted, for reasons that I’ll explain below.
You are referencing notions of politeness and courteousness, but the fact is that a large percentage of active daters don’t hold those same notions. Why is it impolite to not call back after a bad first date, other than the fact that some people think that it is?
Personally, I realized that the only reason that someone not calling back after initially meeting or a first date was harmful to me was if I had the belief that they should call back, leading me to feel wronged. However, after inspecting that belief, I’ve concluded that it is baseless.
I will outline some of the potential problems with dropping some cold and not calling back:
1. The rejected person doesn’t know the reason for their rejection. That’s tough, but as I’ve argued, it’s not fair to automatically expect the rejector to give this information, so it can’t be unethical for them to not give it. And as you’ve pointed out, even when people give an explicit rejection, they don’t necessarily give useful information.
2. The rejected person is left in a state of uncertainty. They sit there waiting by the phone, and put off making plans—except, wait! If they are an experienced dater, they shouldn’t be resting their hopes and schedule on someone they just met, or just had one date with. As long as you just set a mental deadline that if you don’t hear back with a week, then they aren’t interested, then your emotions and schedule shouldn’t be too inconvenienced.
In contrast, if you’ve had multiple dates with someone or you were actively in a relationship, then I agree with you that it would be bad form to drop someone cold. What’s the difference? The difference is that in an ongoing dating situation, the other person has a lot more emotional investment, and they have started making plans based on hanging out with you.
In short, there are reasons that dropping someone cold can be discourteous. I’m just not convinced that these reasons apply very strongly to a new acquaintance or someone I went out with once.
Yes, if someone isn’t aware of the norm among experienced, social daters that not hearing back = rejection, then it’s tough. But I think the solution is to make them aware of the norm, because as long as everyone knows about it, it actually isn’t a bad way to run things. All we need to is tell people that if you just meet someone or go on one date, don’t start rearranging your emotions and schedule, and if you don’t hear back from them in a week, then assume they aren’t interested.
That’s an interesting comment. Maybe that could be a norm, but it certainly wouldn’t work very well and there are good reasons why it’s not the norm. First off, an employer would be shooting themselves in the foot if they didn’t extend an offer as soon as possible. Especially in a competitive marketplace. My company routinely competes with companies like Google and Microsoft for qualified candidates. You want to be the first to make an offer. If you wait more than a day, it might as well be a no because you’ve lost any candidate worth their salt. So saying yes or no as soon as possible is, again, a way of respecting the candidate. It acknowledges that they have other options.
I have been in situations where I did not know whether I should schedule a date with the next girl on my list or wait for the last girl to call me back. It helps all around in subtle but positive ways. Knowing what to expect out of an interview situation (date or job) allows you to focus on the jobs/girls that you think would be the best fit. Not knowing what to expect means that you will have to cast a bigger net. It then places an even bigger burden on employers/women to sift through the increase volume in applications they receive as a result.
Placing a 20 second call to say “sorry, I’m not interested,” prevents 3-4 good natured inquiries where the candidate spent 20 minutes wondering to himself and 2-3 minutes talking into your voicemail. That’s a good hour or so that they’re thinking about you when they could have gone back to OkCupid and looked for a new date. It’s also a good hour where they are committing to the idea of dating you, whether they want to or not, because they’re putting in that additional effort to follow up. Which will make them more pissed than if you called them back right away. This is basically what employers figured out a long time ago about job interviews. The employers that wait a long time to reject a candidate end up having the most pissed off candidates harassing them. I’ve been in that boat… where I gave out an interview and my boss wouldn’t give me a thumbs up or thumbs down for a week… the candidate kept badgering me the whole time and I had no HR department to fall back to because it was a 20 person company. So it costs you less to say no than it does for them to keep wondering about it, and in fact on average I believe that it costs you less to call them back than to not call them back.
Here, the norm of HR departments or just ‘people who hire you’ is to say that they’ll only call those they pick for an interview (after applying), and if they pick you for an interview, same deal about calling you: Only if you’re picked.
So you could wait a day, two days, a week, a month, or forever, for that call. People generally don’t count on a single company to hire them. They go apply to a dozen, and then wait for a call from at least one.
Looks like we wrote past each other since we commented at the same time. Let me address your comments directly:
1. The rejected person doesn’t know the reason for their rejection.
They should never be given the reason, they should just be informed of the decision that was made. Giving a reason is actually bad. Inexperienced women give reasons, which is always an opening for the guy to fix the problem and try again. Jaded women who always cause a lot of additional grief for themselves are inexperienced women who decided to lie or to flake out after the first bad experience of rejecting a guy. Smart, mature women are the ones who call back and say “I’m not interested, sorry.”
2. The rejected person is left in a state of uncertainty.
This is true, and it’s a reason to call back. Making adjustments (“I’ll just wait a week”), even if it’s handled in a good natured manner, is an imposition on the person waiting for an answer. It’s also a week. It’s a long time, and it does have costs of opportunity. When I’m in a mode of starting from scratch and meeting new women, I sometimes go out with 1 new woman per day. Waiting a week not only wastes my time, but it wastes their time. Those additional women have no idea that I’m waiting on someone else to call me back. Of course I can’t tell them up front that they’re already my secondary choice. It’s not fair to them. So I’m being forced to basically lead someone on or I’m being forced to drag out my own dating process from weeks to months because I have to include these buffer zones to be able to differentiate the immature, unreliable, flaky women from the ones that I have a legitimate chance with.
In contrast, if you’ve had multiple dates with someone or you were actively in a relationship, then I agree with you that it would be bad form to drop someone cold.
But, as a matter of fact this happens as well. I was not aware that we were only talking about the first date. I have seen it happen after 2 weeks of dating as well as a way of walking off on a relationship. I have seen other guys experience, and experienced myself, a woman I was dating walk off, start dating someone else for a month and not say shit to the guy she was just with. Strangely, perhaps, I don’t see that much of a difference between the women who are capable of doing this and the ones who don’t call you back after date 1.
Furthermore, I want to make a point about ableism.
Abelism, and I will use the term rather unconventionally to include anyone who struggles to get a date, is the mistreatment of people who are not in a position to handle things that average, everyday people can take in stride. If you read my comment above about my friend who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and the way it torments him when he waits around for a girl to call him back. Whereas a regular guy might spend 1 hour over the course of a week wondering about a girl he went out with who hasn’t gotten back to him, my friend will spend 12 hours and possibly miss work. Like I said, he is the kind of guy who will write exactly the kind of email that you linked to and said that it was entitled. He will also stay up at night wondering if an actor in a movie he just watched is dead in real life – it freaks him out. He’s a really nice guy and has a lot to offer, but he does not do well on the dating scene. I also have another friend, an ex girlfriend’s younger brother who is wheelchair bound. He hasn’t had a date in his life, but he has had brain surgery at least 15 times. When I was dating his sister, he would always give me gifts. Absolutely nicest guy ever. But he is at the age now where he tries to talk to girls, and the way that girls treat guys, I feel really sorry for him. He doesn’t know how to deal with it. He feels lucky to be in the Friend Zone and he gets really philosophical about his lot in life, but when he talks to a girl online and she stops emailing him when she finds out he is wheelchair bound… man, that fucking sucks.
Exactly! That’s a horrible system, which is why it’s virtually unheard of for me, at least in my industry. It takes more work for anyone looking for a job, more stress, and employers suffer as well because they get more applications – they don’t get the benefit of the best way to filter job candidates there is – the candidates themselves.
Oh no… total fail on the font weight markup. Sorry about that.
I agree. But if enough people are acting a certain way, then I think it might indicate that there is a coherent moral view behind it. In this case (rejecting someone after an initial meeting or one date by not calling back), there is a coherent case justifying it.
Strangely, your argument reminds me a bit of some of the stricter feminist arguments about consent. For instance, the view that you should ask explicit verbal consent for everything, including the smallest touch!
If that was the norm and everyone agreed to it, would it be a better world? Probably, just like it could probably be a better world if people would agree to give explicit rejections, even after a first date.
But in the real world, right now, such a consensus doesn’t exist on either of those points. So we can’t judge people as insensitive, selfish or immature as if such a consensus did exist.
Rather, we must observe that these people are operating under different norms, instead of judging them as miscreants.
What bothers me much more is if someone is flaking on me during an ongoing interaction. Or if they don’t call me back after dating for an actual length of time. Then they are asking me to put up with disrespectful behavior. But if someone doesn’t call back after meeting once, then they aren’t asking me to put up with anything: they are just rejecting me.
Here is the sort of flake situation that bothers me:
For instance, I know someone who I’ve kissed in clubs a couple times, and we always talk about hanging out, but when I actually send her a message, I never hear anything from her. The first time I didn’t hear back, I assumed she wasn’t interested. Then I see her in a club, and she is all touchy with me and we talk about hanging out. Of course, she doesn’t get back to me. Unless I’m reading her wrong, I don’t know how she can expect me to want to hang out with her if she never gets back to me, and it makes me think less of her.
And there are all sorts of flake scenarios where people do get back to you, like when someone cancels a date the night before (annoying, but tolerable) or hours before (uncool). One weird pattern I’ve seen is that someone will tentatively agree to plans a week in advance, and then cancel later in the week, with this happening multiple times. Even if someone is attracted to me, they can still be busy, or be getting attention from guys they consider awesomer than me. That explains why they want to hang out with me at some point, but they are too indecisive to make or keep any plans in the present, even if they are getting back to me.
Strangely, ambivalent women who do get back to me are actually capable of wasting far more of my time and energy than women who just flake completely after one encounter.
I think a critique of flaking behavior in modern dating culture would be very valuable, but I think that flaking after one date/meeting is actually pretty low on the list of behaviors that deserve criticism.
I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Not calling back after one date or an initial meeting is a common method of rejection, which doesn’t necessarily mean that someone will flake out in other ways, or drop an actual relationship partner cold. It’s just not the same thing.
Heck, as I mentioned, I didn’t respond to a couple people who I went out with once from an online dating site, because I judged that to be the most appropriate way to reject them. But I would never dump a partner that way.
Couple more things about the broader context of society, in response to Hugh Ristik,
Urbanism and Sociopathy
When you lived in a village with 300 other people and you went out on a date, you always knew how it turned out. The whole village knew. Also, things such as lying, stealing, backstabbing, and bad table manners were discouraged because it took a very short time for everyone else in the community to catch on. So there was a lot more cooperation and a lot less crass opportunism going on.
But then we invented cities. A sociopath can easily take advantage of cooperation and good manners in a large enough population, because they can always stay one step ahead of the people who catch onto their bad behavior. If you ask me, not calling someone back is a new phenomenon – made possible with the advent of anonymity. And it’s going in the wrong direction, towards a place where people are told not to care about each other. Teaching someone that they don’t have to be considerate to someone because they’ll never see them again anyway is a bad thing. It’s also a bad thing to teach people that they shouldn’t feel upset when they get treated poorly because, hey, find a new date… that is also a bad thing. We’re creating a pretty dysfunctional society that way.
I don’t think this is an either/or scenario. Someone who gives you the runaround presents an entirely different set of antisocial behaviors that have to be dealt with in their own way. It shouldn’t be that we must accept the lesser of two evils. Especially because, first of all, they’re two different people motivated very differently. The person who promises you dates and doesn’t follow through doesn’t give a crap about you, but they still want something. The person who never calls you back just doesn’t give a crap.
My girlfriend actually has a room mate who gets off on being solicited. Any given week, she’s talking about how many guys she “had to” blow off. One time, she proudly told us about how she went out with a guy she started dating a month ago in order to dump him, and as he was sitting there telling her how amazing and beautiful she was, she had her “real” lover walk into the restaurant, sit down in their booth beside her, and without saying a word start making out in front of him. She was proud of this, telling us all about it after she got drunk. Obviously didn’t give a fuck about that guy – either one of the guys, really, since she got a new boyfriend a week later. More likely, though, you’re not dating an outright monster but a girl who doesn’t have the first clue about walking out of her house to go somewhere without having a guy to escort her and pay for it. Lonely, insecure, immature women who basically schedule time with one guy who they treat as a stand-by in case they can’t make more solid plans by the time date night rolls around. A more attractive guy can come around at the last minute and they wouldn’t dream of passing up the opportunity to go out with him instead of you – all of a sudden their schedules are very flexible whereas for you it was like combing through a labyrinth for a way to make something work. These flakes aren’t merely telling you that they don’t want to be with you. To those women, if you were just one rung lower on the desirability scale, they wouldn’t have called you back at all. Anyway I’ve been with women like that… in fact that’s what a lot of Friend Zone relationships are like.
Yay, cross-posting. You’ve convinced that if giving explicit, timely rejections was the norm, then it would be a better system. Where I still disagree is on how to judge people who flake on a new acquaintance as a method of rejection: even if a different system would be better, I don’t necessarily think these folks are immature people merely for behaving according to present norms.
Even under the system I was proposing, you could still get back to someone immediately if you are worried about them finding someone else. Actually, if candidates have an incentive to look multiple places, then employers have an incentive to respond very fast.
This argument is correct, and I was actually going to make the same point. I do agree that flakiness hurts people in your same class (whether employers, or a gender). For instance, if women are flaky, then it actually shoots other women in the foot, because men have an incentive to constantly be pursuing multiple women in order to get one date who doesn’t flake. That’s just a different argument from the notion that flaking is impolite or disrespectful to their person getting flaked on.
As for acknowledging the candidate’s options, that makes sense in work, because less sense in heterosexual interaction. As we both know, young women simply seem to have more options than young men, on average. Flaking represents a disparity in perceived options.
Ironically, thanks to hypergamy, the sort of men that women on average are interested in would be insulted by this sort of behavior, and exercise their other options. And highly attractive men often flake on women, making them think it’s just what people do.
That’s completely true. Yet for a lot of highly social people, they are already constantly dating multiple people (even if they are eventually looking for monogamy). Needing to date a bunch of people to weed out flakes isn’t such a big deal if you want to date a bunch of people anyway.
So, within a population of avid daters, dropping someone after a single meeting or date isn’t a bad system. If you are in such a culture, and you are flaky or wait too long, then you are mainly hurting yourself. For people with different goals and values (e.g. less social people looking for monogamous dating), it would be a bad system. There really need to be multiple dating cultures for different sorts of people.
Maybe a week is the wrong time frame. Maybe it should be 4 days. And anyway, for people who are busy and/or dating multiple people, it can take a few days to make up your mind and get back to someone, anyway.
That’s an excellent argument against the efficiency and ethics of flaking to reject a new acquaintance. Everyone reading this thread should make note of it. Cactuar, I know we were agreeing earlier… do you find dungone’s argument here persuasive?
While I consider this argument weighty, I think there are still other considerations that we must observe:
Except in dating, “sorry I’m not interested” is really not the norm for rejecting someone. Giving a direct rejection is not well supported by norms, making the person who gives it look and feel like a jerk. This makes giving a direct rejection much more costly than it needs to be, which needs to be factored into our moral calculus.
If giving rejections wasn’t so costly due to current norms and the potential of disgruntled people, then the system you are describing would be ideal. But that’s not the culture we live in.
You are quite correct that there is a lot of ableism in conventional dating scripts. Yet this runs both ways: a person with generalized anxiety disorder might have trouble waiting by the phone… but someone with generalized anxiety disorder could also have trouble giving the sort of direct rejection you are advocating. As you know, some feminists argue that “vulnerable women” have trouble giving explicit rejections.
I think there is a lot of ableism in both male initiator role, and even in the female rejector role. Eliminating this ableism is a much broader topic that would require rewriting the norms from ground up, and it would really be hard to make a set of rules that works for everyone.
People are supposed to call you back when you don’t get the job? Really? Because I can think of only 2 calls I got back from jobs I didn’t get last summer (these are professional teaching jobs, not retail/foodservice) out of at least 20 applications I sent out to every public and private school I could find in three counties (that didn’t require me to go to a certain church or synagogue). Both calls were two months later, after the school year had started.
@dungone: I fully agree with everything you wrote about urban sociopathy and ableism. People suck in large groups. 😦
Yeah, I’ve even made internal job applications with companies where I didn’t get notice that I’d been passed over as an option.
I’ve never received a clear rejection from a company I didn’t already work for.
As far as calling back after a bad first date: I don’t think I’ve ever done that, but for a bad first date I always said, “You have my number; call me.” The- I think it was actually only one- time I actually was called I just went out with them for a second date. Every other date, I already had the girls number so I called her. I don’t know if the women from every flop first date I had just weren’t fond of the ball being in their court, or if every bad first date I’ve had was just mutually unsatisfying. (I suspect the latter.) So, from a dating perspective, I’ve never actually sat waiting by the phone. Now, I’ve sat pining by the phone from a relationship perspective because I was so enamored that I wanted to talk to them again, but I’d already called them once that day and burned up an hour or so of their time talking about nothing, and I didn’t want to be all ‘smothery’.
An application is not the same as an interview. Think of it like smiling at someone from across the room in hopes that they’ll come talk to you. At this stage, they may have intimated that they’re willing to talk to new people, but they did not agree to talk to you, specifically.
@Danny: Ahh now see, that’s what I tried getting to in talking about Eagle33 a couple days back in the gender-nonconformity post before getting shut down. Where does victimhood end and perpdom begin? I’ll be interested to see where you go with that.
I finally got to making a post (after being pushed by a small exchange in part 3 of this series). The thing is though its not so much about victimhood/perpdom. Its more about the the feelings that CAN be generated by being a victim and feelings that CAN lead to one becoming a perp.
Dungone, your “obviously my own preferred norms of directness and transparency will solve many of these problems” just makes me think of this:
And as far as your friend with Anxiety disorder goes, I suspect the asymmetry of society’s gender expectations are making you miss something – for someone with mental illness and romance-problem-triggered symptoms, it can work both ways. Having to reject people can be just as awful as being a person experiencing or waiting on a rejection. I should know; I’ve personally had serious mental health episodes associated with both.