I think one of the biggest problems with talking about Nice Guys™ (I’m using the term gender-inclusively) is that there are several different kinds of people who fall under the Nice Guy™ umbrella. Admittedly, some forms of Nice Guy™ will evolve into other forms of Nice Guy™, much like Pokemon, but if you don’t know your Charizards from your Charmanders, you’re just going to end up confused.
Therefore, I will now break down the four types of Nice Guy™ I have observed in the wilds of both meatspace and the Internet.
Stage One Nice Guy™, or the Pseudo-Nice-Guy™
A stage one Nice Guy™ is a person who for whatever reason behaves in a typically Nice Guy™-ish way, but without actually having the characteristic personality traits of a Nice Guy™. By “behaving in a typically Nice Guy™ way” I mean not asking people out, befriending people and then expecting romantic relationships to happen by magic, expecting all the problems in your life to be solved by Twoo Wuv, “joking” about how if the person they liked dumped their partner and went out with them everything would be perfect, observing that women only like assholes/men only like bitches… all that stereotypical shit. Not all people who do that are true Nice Guys™!
The stage one Nice Guy™ is usually somewhat socially awkward and highly afraid of rejection; they may be prone to some pedestalization of people they want to date, but not to extreme levels. Although their traits may pattern-match to those of the true Nice Guy™, they are usually not any more sexist or objectifying than the average person. They often make quite good partners if you don’t mind making the first move.
Stage Two Nice Guy™, or the Objectifying Nice Guy™
This is, in my experience, the most common type of Nice Guy™. According to this type, the people they want to sleep with ought to work according to a formula, and if the Nice Guy™ fulfills the formula, they ought to be able to date the person they desire. Common formulas include being nice, being physically attractive, being rich, and being willing to treat one’s partners “like a princess” or “like a king.” The stage two Nice Guy™ rarely asks people out, because they are still terrified of rejection; besides, as long as they fulfill the formula properly, people ought to be coming to them.
Many pick-up artists are stage two Nice Guys™ who acquired a new formula that involves actually making the first move.
Stage Three Nice Guy™, or the Entitled Nice Guy
The stage three Nice Guy™ deserves a relationship, and they are pissed the fuck off that they haven’t got one. Of course, they’re not going to ask people out or anything, because they just know that everyone despises them for being so nice and so successful. They have done everything right according to the formula, and since they still don’t have the romantic relationship of their desiring, clearly the problem must lie in all those people who are running about refusing to sleep with them.
It may be somewhat difficult to figure out the difference between a stage two and a stage three Nice Guy™. The big difference, I think, is in the response to being rejected. A stage two Nice Guy™ will respond by beating themselves up and trying to figure out what they did wrong; a stage three Nice Guy™ will get very angry. How dare someone not recognize how awesome you are and reward it with sex!
Stage Four Nice Guy™, or the Misogynistic Nice Guy
I say misogynistic, because I have only seen straight men ascend to this form. The stage four Nice Guy™ knows why he can’t get laid: because women are BITCHES and SLUTS and WHORES and FAT and UGLY and ENTITLED and he DOESN’T WANT THEM ANYWAY and he is going to get a woman from ASIA where they are OBEDIENT and know how to TREAT A MAN, or maybe a SEXBOT, and oh god he is so alone. Many of them infest or even write the more obnoxious pick-up artist or men’s rights activist sites.
Aww… I wanted you to toss in a link to that Nice Guy email that’s been floating around under your Stage 3 heading. But I concede that everyone here probably knows about it already anyways. Damn.
#5 The Genuine Nice Guy™ – One who does not objectify, is not misogynistic, is humble, knows how to treat people and are generally liked. Those exist, you know. Actually, usually when a normal person labels someone as a Nice Guy, I’ve observed they genuinely consider them as such.
What’s the point of this taxonomy? All I see is contempt here.
@Fingenieur – Maybe call that person a “decent human being” instead?
FWIW, some of us end up between a rock and a hard place. In the limited engagement I have with women in my social spaces, I am FAR too worried about ruining the social dynamics to ask a lot of people out. BUT, all that loneliness starts to wear on you.
I wonder if the narrative about predatory male sexuality feeds into this. Many times, I avoid indicating attraction to women because I am worried it will destroy a friendship (even if I’m okay with rejection, I worry she will be uncomfortable). As such, you try to appear non-threatening and friendly, only to quickly find yourself in a place from where you can never escalate a relationship even if you should care to do so (the so-called “friend-zone”).
Of course, I have female friends who continue to flirt and lead men on due to the fear that if they make their disinterest plain, their guy friends will abandon them (which I think also comes from the cultural narrative that guys and girls can’t be friends, not necessarily inherent evil on the part of women), which provides feedback into the “she’s kind of into me” machine that fuels a “Nice Guy”‘s engine of misplaced hope.
Personally, I think if many of these guys reflected on their friendships, they’d come to a realization that maybe these women are worth having as friends as much as lovers. That’s usually the conclusion that I come to. Besides, relationships require commitment, and if I do that, who’s going to watch this anime/play all these videogames/collect all these magic cards? Seriously.
@Fingenieur: Just to be clear, I guess you omitted “but still has difficulties getting laid/getting a relationship”?
“Besides, relationships require commitment, and if I do that, who’s going to watch this anime/play all these videogames/collect all these magic cards? Seriously.”
There are actually ladies out there who would be interested in helping with those endeavors!
@Patches: Don’t you 8like the general “you”) actually play Magic against anotherplayer, instead of just collecting them? The latter alternative sounds really lonely … 😦
@Atheist, @Watson: Eehehehehehe! That was more an attempt to be glib and upbeat. Suffice it to say, I know what you’re saying but have personal reasons for keeping to myself a bit, ATM, which would be OT. 😛
I’ve been recovering from a flu lately, and it meant that I was laid up in bed when I should’ve been commenting on Part 1 of this series. I find the “Nice Guy” phenomenon to be massively interesting from a gender perspective.
What I find most surprising is that no one, thus far, has made the connection with “Nice Guy” phenomenon and men in the “friend zone.”
Watch this totally non-scientific video, it’s short:
There seems to be an alarming disparity in (straight) men and (straight) women and their tendency to become platonic friends with a person of the opposite sex. I think this is the “loophole” that Nice Guys think they can exploit to find romantic love with women – and when it doesn’t work, they become frustrated.
For example, I cannot fathom a woman whom is physically attractive, who shares my world-view, and whom I enjoy their personality enough to call them “friend” whom I would NOT want to have a romantic relationship with (if I were not married.) I understand many men tend to share this view.
The female friends I do have who I would NOT be interested in romantically are either not physically attractive to me, have a world-view that I find offensive, or have the type of personality that I can only handle in small doses.
Women, as the video above suggests, seem to have no problem finding a man who is physically attractive and compatible enough with them for them to be “friends” but yet only manage to feel about him as if “he were a brother.” In other words, logically speaking, women seem capable (intentionally or not) of turning off their sexual attraction to a man regardless of if he is emotionally and physically compatible with them.
This is bizarre to me. I don’t know if it’s an evolutionary instinctual thing, but it is definitely a gendered phenomenon that I believe explains, in part, why “Nice Guys” exist and feel cheated.
I’ve mentioned it before on here, but I was a former “Nice Guy” of the stage 2 variety – before I learned that my intentional “muffling” of my sexuality towards women I was attracted to was directly creating the frustration I experienced with those women. I thought I was doing them a favor, in reality I was shooting myself with an arrow in the knee. (Skyrim reference.)
That was only after a few painful and desperate conversations with my female friends who had “friend-zoned” me. There was something massively frustrating about not getting a good answer to the question “Why don’t you feel ‘that way’ about me?”
The answer those girls and women should’ve given lay somewhere in the vicinity of “Because you weren’t presenting yourself as a man sexually interested in me early enough, I imprinted you as a non-sexual man, and I can’t turn that on by will or logic alone.”
Anyway, back to the post at hand, I’d really like to hear people’s opinions of “Nice Guys” and their ability to attract platonic female attention – because to me it seems to be wrapped up in the same issue. Doesn’t a “Nice Guy” of nearly any stage (except the last) seem to have no problem finding female friends who enjoy spending time with him?
Fingenieur.. I tend to differentiate by calling these ‘decent’ guys or ‘small-n nice guys’
Here’s the thing, and I’ve seen this mentioned in conversations on the ‘Nice Guy’ phenomenon as well.. Women can be socially awkward too. We can have crappy luck in romance and be unable to get a date as well. I know a lot of guys who are awesome, genuinely decent small-n nice guys. And they won’t date me. Believe me, I’ve asked.
Girls get friend-zoned too.
There’s a fallacy that women can get dates/laid/boyfriends/husbands with a snap of their fingers. It’s not true.
I’ve had guy-friends say to me “You’re pretty, smart and a lot of fun. Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” and all I can say is “I don’t know. You tell me”. And the only conclusion is that for some reason that may vary from guy to guy that they do not have romantic feelings for me. And I don’t get to force those feelings on anyone. Just because I might fit the all the guidelines, I can’t force chemistry and no one has an obligation to date me.
Just like I don’t have an obligation to date someone because they, on a general level, are nice, somewhat attractive and interesting if I don’t have any romantic interest in them.
Let me ask you. Is there a vocal group of men telling you that you get what you deserve? That you are single because men can sense that you are genuinely an asshole and therefore avoid you?
EasilyEnthused: It’s impossible to explain why you don’t feel “that way” about someone. You just do or you don’t. I would call all of my male friends physically attractive, and I enjoy spending time with them, but I am not attracted to them. It’s very easy for me to have enough in common with someone to call them my friend, but not nearly enough in common with them to want to have a relationship with them.
Incidentally, my husband and I were “just friends” before we were in a relationship (in fact, I was in a long-distance relationship with someone else and it wasn’t going all that well). I ended the relationship, and I made the first move. He didn’t make any direct indication that he was sexually interested in me (I have gossipy friends to thank for that knowledge), but I was attracted to him and I investigated the matter. I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough to do anything if I hadn’t found out from friends that he was interested in me.
I don’t know if I buy the “imprinting” argument. I think that I am either compatible in a relationship with someone or not, and that’s more or less permanent. The longer I know someone as a friend, the longer I have to assess whether I can picture myself in a long-term relationship with them or not. While there have been guys who were interested but missed the boat on making any indication that they were, I know myself well enough to know that the relationship wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Even if they had presented themselves as interested, and we had dated, the fact that we are not compatible isn’t going to change. It would not have lasted long.
But, that said, you never know for sure unless you try, so it’s good to give at least some indication! I feel sorry for men with all the societal pressure to make the first move. I’m all for more women asking men out. But, it is nice to give us something to work with first. Asking someone out is terrifying for everybody! 🙂
I think the main general difference between a Nice Guy™ and an actual nice guy is intent. I’m a nice guy, I like to be friendly with people including those of the opposite sex, whatever. I have no ulterior motives besides friendship. I’m not hoping to slip in their in a vulnerable moment and convert “friend” to “girlfriend”. Now, I’m sure most guys have been in Stage One mode at some point with some person, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as you stay on the right side of the line with reference to the other person. Also if you don’t get yourself too wrapped up in objectification or avoiding real relationships in favor of holding out for the hypothetical.
“The female friends I do have who I would NOT be interested in romantically are either not physically attractive to me, have a world-view that I find offensive, or have the type of personality that I can only handle in small doses.”
I think you’re seriously selling yourself short here – your definition of ‘friend’ is my definition of ‘people I avoid and fucking hate.’
The above was directed @EasilyEnthused
All of these Nice Guy ™ types seem to have the ‘not making the first move,’ contingency attached to their state of Nice Guydom. A lot of the men I know who get into their “no woman wants me; I’m probably too nice,” litanies have tried asking girls out and been shot down, or even had a couple of dates that went nowhere. Some of them are even getting sporadically laid.
I’d say the most common sign with some of my nerd friends that I’m about to get my shoulder all man-teared up is some sort of text communique that starts, “Well, I confessed to …” (where Jane can be whatever actual name.) That’s still a sort of first move, or relationship starter. The reason I feel like scolding said friend while I’m smooching it all better is that:
A) The operative failure word was ‘confess.’ You wanted Jane as a romantic partner from the get go, but you established an intimate bond first. So now instead of feeling rejected (bad enough feeling) you feel dumped. If Jane was a friend you just happened to think of romantically for the first time, you’d have suggested a date, been turned down, and just got a little down, not shattered. Instead, it’s like you built the dream home, planned the wedding, and adopted a couple of kids and then decided you out to actually propose to the woman.
B) It’s weird to think of something as X, when it turns out to be Y. How happy would you feel about it if this were real life, and, in the middle of all this hugging it out, I sniffed your hair?
C) You ain’t always that nice, John. I’m not going to say this last one out loud to someone who probably already has self-esteem issues, but maybe one shouldn’t pin one of one’s few positive self images of oneself on something so subjective.
Anyway, if total passivity is a requirement for the Nice Guy term, it sounds like it might be even more of a, ,”well, really all your problems are your fault,” statement than I thought it was supposed to be,
There’s so much missing in the feminist analysis of this whole thing, which is both a shame and highly ironic because there are many feminist concepts that tie in. Please excuse the following thoughts for being somewhat scattered.
-Pretty much all the Nice Guy stuff I’ve read in the feminist blogosphere treats the phenomenon as a superiority complex, when it is in reality an explicit inferiority complex. Yes people who feel inferior can sometimes act as braggarts as a defense mechanism, but the whole idea of “entitlement” stems from this idea that these men know they’re better and should get what they want. In reality they know that they’re worse, they just don’t understand why. In that way they’re like the scientist who gets increasingly frustrated at the one data point that doesn’t fit the theory, and spends all their time saying things like “that shouldn’t be there!” even though they’re fully aware that it is there and thus must be there.
-The narrative of “he only wants one thing” or “he’s faking a friendship to get into your pants” actually *feeds* the problem. It comes directly from this destructive view of male sexuality as predatory and exclusionary. It is the strong corollary of slut shaming (namely if women who have sex are sluts, then the men who want sex with them must see them as sluts). It is this world view that sets up the dichotomy that (genuinely) nice guys don’t desire sex, and bad boys do. There are a whole host of negative consequences to this scenario, but the Nice Guy situation is one of them. I have never seen a Nice Guy who only wants only one thing, and I’ve never seen a guy who wants one thing fake more than a conversation in order to get into someone’s pants.
-The hurt doesn’t come from not getting what they want (believe me, these guys are used to not getting what they want) but rather from the complete repudiation of them as a sexual being. Far beyond a simple rejection, it’s the “why would I even think that?” mindset that comes with the rejection from such a close friend that hurts so much. It’s the equivalent of being told that you’re not a man, by your best friend on a daily basis. From what I’ve seen, the friendships that survive a one sided crush are the friendships where the woman honestly appraises the man as a sexual partner and decides it wouldn’t work for X, Y or Z reason. The ones where the woman simply rejects the man’s sexuality out of hand don’t survive because there was no respect there to begin with (this lack of respect is evident in other aspects of the relationship as well if you care to look for them).
There’s more but my fingers are getting tired at this point and my thoughts are a tad muddled.
Are we talking just romantic relationships, or are we talking sexually too?
If we’re just talking about romantic relationships, I recognize the phenomena you’re talking about but I don’t think it’s necessarily gendered. I have a lot of guy friends who I find attractive and who I’m pretty compatible with but with whom I think an actual romantic relationship is a bad idea. On the other hand, if we’re talking about sexual relationships, that IS gendered. I mean, I have sex with a couple of my guy friends who I’ve “friend-zoned” (here used to mean “I don’t want to have a relationship with them) because I find them hot and also cool people to be around, but that’s because I actively and consciously rebel against the cultural stigma around women being freely sexual, and also because I have a lot of awesome friends who refuse to partake in slut-shaming. Still, that rebellion is not without consequences, and many women wish to avoid such consequences and so they have a lot of blocks, both social and mental, that prevent them from having sex with people they would otherwise love to have sex with.
@EasilyEnthused – HERE’S the conversation I wanted to have. Sorry the MTG thing distracted everyone. XD
I think there are two binding notions at work here.
1. Most of us “nice” guys tend to muffle their sexual attraction/presentation in order to appear “different” from other guys who are only out to sleep with them.
2. Women generally don’t pursue. Noah and Ozy I think have been over this a little, so I feel okay and in saying that the cultural narrative is that it is for “guys” to ask and so long as most women think that asking emasculates the guy (or want to be asked out themselves) we can end up in stalemate where two “friends” can go back and forth being interested in each other without either speaking up.
I know from my own point of view (solipsism FAIL, but what have you), I worry that an expression of interest and a subsequent rejection will poison the relationship and when faced with risking an enjoyable friendship against the possibility of something more… well my risk-averse nature wins out. It’s here where we run into the thing that turns us into “nice” guys in the reasonable sense: We choose to act non-threatening (non-sexual) ostensibly on behalf of the woman with whom we are interacting (see: Schrodinger’s Rapist and not being creepy), only to have that polite, non-objectifying behavior come across as “uninterested”. The frustration then becomes when more predatory guys, ones who appear to put THEIR wants (a relationship of some kind with that girl) ahead of HER wants get to ride off into the sunset with our friends for whom we pine.
I want to try an experiment once I start meeting more women in relaxed spaces: I am going to try ask more of them out. Frankly, non-threaneningly politely. I am curious as to whether I can retain/develop friendships with people while that’s on the table. Or at least I hope I can get there. I am SO risk-averse and fear rejection. :<
I loves that #A you’ve got there. That whole “confessing your true feelings” crap is a nasty place to be, on either side of it. If you’re the caring friend that you’re stuck being a shoulder for, it is almost as bad. I don’t think I ever had a hard and fast rule about how long to wait before making a move or giving up, but after being the confessor a couple of times I got to be the shoulder and realized what a jerk I was being.
Patches, several things about your comment.
1. The idea that sexual=threatening or asshole behavior. This is actually not the case, although I see how that can be difficult to see with a lot of the different and often conflicting narratives surrounding men’s sexuality. To be clear, as long as a guy is respecting boundaries and not acting entitled (But WHY won’t you date/sleep with me when I’m such a nice guy! counts as being entitled), there’s nothing wrong with being up front about his desires. This also goes for women
2. The idea that being up front with one’s needs/wants = putting one’s wants ahead of someone else’s. This is as untrue as it is counterproductive. You can both respect your needs and wants while also respecting someone else’s, and communicating what you want and need is desirable behavior. It’s when someone doesn’t respect another person’s boundaries that they are making their needs/wants matter more than another person and engaging in asshole behavior.
Jay Generally: You’re quite right, of course. “Not fucking asking people out” is, while common to Nice Guys(tm), hardly a requirement.
EE: I’ve been friendzoned twice by dudes. *grumblegrumble* One of whom apparently finds me attractive enough to fuck, and cool enough to be close friends with, but not cool + attractive enough to date. I wonder if it’s a high-libido/low-libido or a limerent/non-limerent personality issue…
Ferris: Cosigned, 100% agreement with that analysis.
Oh, and the bitter irony is that when I started just making my romantic/sexual interest known from the first inkling of it, I got to be an actual nice guy instead of a Nice Guy™. Not stewing in a soup of unrequited, unexpressed feelings takes a whole lot of pressure off.
“To be clear, as long as a guy is respecting boundaries and not acting entitled (But WHY won’t you date/sleep with me when I’m such a nice guy! counts as being entitled),”
This. A Capital-N nice guy may turn on a woman to whom he has professed his feelings for and declare that she’s a bitch or not the woman he thought she was etc, or demand to know why why why, and turn into a dick. He may accuse her of leading him on by doing such things as hanging out with him and having a good time with him, which clearly means that coitus is inevitable.
A genuine nice guy may get his feelings hurt.. and hell, sometimes he might not be able to continue a friendship, or may need to step away from the friendship to nurse his wounds (because nice guys have feelings that can be hurt, and they get to have boundaries that need to be respected too), but will generally accept that he is not entitled to a relationship to the woman of his choosing simply for being a ‘Nice Guy’. (Under the assumption that the object of affection in this scenario has not been a total dick about rejecting him)
oh, and Dr. Anonym
No, actually, there isn’t. Because I don’t date assholes.
I don’t associate with people like Amanda Marcotte either. That doesn’t stop her from writting things like how I am single because I deserve to be single. Irregardles of how much bullying I was subjected to, irregardless of my ADD and so on.
@Shora – You’re absolutely correct. And it’s on point 2 where I hope to grow personally. I have been operating under the false dichotomy for awhile, so, yeah. Maybe when I’m ready for relationships again. But, I read your and Fenris’ posts and realized I should have just shut mah trap and waited for the more articulate to weigh in, oh well. 😛
Also, I missed the slut-shaming bit: SO KEEN!
There’s more but my fingers are getting tired at this point and my thoughts are a tad muddled.
Please continue when your fingers are working properly again 😉 . You made some very good points. I don’t have anything to add because I completley agree with everything you wrote.
I think you’re mistaking me for someone else. I have not mentioned Amanda Marcotte anywhere in this thread, and nowhere have I said single people deserve to be single.
Perhaps many of you have hit the nail on the head – in a society that puts the pressure on men to “approach” women they are interested in, men lacking the sexual confidence (or somehow feel their sexuality is something bad) will opt for the “safe route” when approaching women – by hiding their sexual or romantic intents.
No one here is under the incorrect presumption that all you need to do to get women sexually interested in you is just “be nice” and “be good looking.” You also need to make their ladybits tingle. And how you do that is … a topic too long and detailed for a comment here. Besides, not all women respond to the same things. It takes practice. Patches, send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll help you overcome your issues you’re having.
Also wrapped up in this – as a few of you pointed out, is that the difference between sexual interest and romantic interest is important. In the small, southern town where I grew up (transplanted from New York), slut-shaming was HEAVY. Although hookups occurred, they were exclusively done within a “dating” relationship – even if you only dated for a week. Therefore “romantic” and “sexual” were one in the same. I can’t speak for all men in my school, but unless you were among the most popular/athletic/good-looking guys at the top of the pecking order, “sexual” interest had to be expressed by framing it in a “romantic” way.
So it’s possible that the gamut of female friends I had who weren’t interested in me for a “relationship” might’ve been down with a hookup if we were living in a more hook-up-friendly culture, for whatever reason, they weren’t interested in me.
Lastly, the “friend” in “friend-zone” is a relative term. Some people use the term “friend” for someone they chat with occasionally in the hallway at school. It could also be someone who you tolerate politely at your after-school thing you do. It could ALSO be the person that knows you and likes you enough to come to your birthday party, call you on random nights just to chat and knows what kind of food and music you like.
I don’t have any “friends” like the last group that I would not consider dating – UNLESS I had a very specific, easy-to-vocalize reason for not wanting to date them. I don’t have a single female “friend” in my life who I “don’t feel that way” about for unknown, mysterious reasons – and I’m still throwing down the gauntlet to anyone here who claims this is a valid way to feel about the opposite sex.
You are basically proving my point (I’m assuming you’re a woman) that women are the only magical mysterious creatures capable of knowing why you are or aren’t “sexually/romantically” attracted to the men in their life. Why is it impossible? I know exactly why I do or don’t like all the women in my life. My guy friends are usually able to express it to me as well.
Put simply, I don’t think there are a substantial number of conversations between two men that go like this:
Tom: I’m so sick of being alone. Why don’t I have a girlfriend?
Bill: What about Amanda?
Tom: Oh – I couldn’t.
Bill: Why not? She’s attractive, you guys get along great, you have a lot of similar interests.
Tom: Oh – I just couldn’t. She’s like a sister to me.
Men simply don’t say this to each other. Tom would probably say to Bill: “No, Amanda’s got these hangups about her boobs that is a total turnoff – it’d never work.” or “Amanda has unrealistic expectations of what she wants in a boyfriend.” There would be some reason other than “she’s like a sister to me, ewwwww, gross!”
Now, in conversation between Tom and Amanda, he might try to tell her “you’re like a sister to me” if she professed her interest to him. But he’s just bullshitting her – he either finds some aspect of her repulsive in the context of a relationship or she’s not physically attractive to him.
Which is why I am very, very doubtful of women who say that some man in their life “is like a brother to him” – because men and women aren’t THAT DIFFERENT. There’s some other thing at work here – it might be cultural, it might be instinctual – but there’s SOME reason that women get the “sibling” effect around the opposite sex more than men do.
I didn’t say do did. I pointed to the difference in how women who strike out are met and how men who strike out are met.
I wonder why it is so hard to just accept that sometimes people are hit with bad luck without it being their fault.
“There’s some other thing at work here – it might be cultural, it might be instinctual – but there’s SOME reason that women get the “sibling” effect around the opposite sex more than men do.”
I’m intrigued by this statement. Saying this is instinctual for a woman to put a man in the “friend-zone” because they don’t find them attractive brings up thoughts of evolutionary psychology and the line of thinking that women would ensure some males were not potential partners. My opinion is still unverified on evolutionary psychology for several reasons mostly dealing with the lack of sound science behind what I’ve read.
Saying this is cultural for a woman to put a man in the “friend-zone” leads me to think of all the ways in which family and peers and society in general have influences on what we prefer in a romantic and/or sexual partner. Women in the past were expected to accept suitors with the best of everything to offer, regardless if they liked that man or not. (ex: “You’ll never find a better catch than a rich, attractive man like Richard. You should marry him before he picks someone else and you loose your chance.”)
Obviously that kind of thinking worked poorly for both genders.
I myself have never really thought about why I prefer some people as friends and some as potential romantic interests. Perhaps I should.
@Ozy: You know I love you to death, so I hope this doesn’t come across as dismissive: I would not be surprised that a genderqueer woman would encounter being friend-zoned. I think for cis-gendered, conventionally attractive women, though, the experience is completely alien. While for conventionally attractive cis-men such as myself (cringing while writing that) the “friend-zone” is really, really well known.
Now, if a bunch of Kim-Kardashian look-alikes suddenly storm the comment section here and claim to be friend-zoned, I will retract my position. But I know quite a few very, very attractive men who end up in the “friend-zone” continually in their lives. And THAT is why I think it’s a gendered issue and so intriguing.
But I am sorry to hear that happened to you 😦 I know how much it sucks.
You seem to be leaving this “approach by confession” as the only way that “Nice Guys” approach, when in reality it can run the gamut from A to Z. The reality is that the dynamics of this sort of courtship can be much more complex. It doesn’t matter how he asks her out, she can put him in “The Friend Zone” anytime she wants. I’ve been put into the “Friend Zone” even after a 2 year monogamous relationship. And one of the key features of an early-onset “friend zone” relationship (let’s call a duck a duck here) is that there is a constant scrimmage where she makes it as difficult as possible for him to broach the subject of sex. So you get the “confession” as a last line of attack, the punt on your last down, to try to score something after you couldn’t get past her defense any other way. But I really think it takes a concerted effort to make it that difficult for a guy to ask you out for so long. It usually has something to do with the daily reminders of “we’re just friends right? I mean you’re different than all the other guys… I know you’d never want to sleep with me like all those other sleazeballs…” How are you going to tell a girl you love if she preempts you every day? My real female friends don’t do this – they don’t feel the need. They’re not “Friend Zone” relationships, they’re just friends.
I have plenty of platonic friendships with women. If I do them a favor, they do me a favor. If I give them money, they pay me back. If I am moving, they come to my apartment and carry fucking boxes with me. I’ve been friends with women like that who I found incredibly attractive, but it was never a problem. In fact, they’d even bring their boyfriends over to help me haul my shit. On the other hand I’ve had “friend zone” friends who I wasn’t even attracted to in the first place but I felt myself under a constant bombardment of, “you’re like a brother to me!” Whenever I hear a woman tell me, “I think of you as a brother,” I look at all the shit she asks me to do and I add up all the impossible feats and then I look at all the times I asked her to do even the smallest of favors and she said no. That’s what a “Friends Zone” relationship usually looks like. If women really can’t tell the difference, well, then I just think they’re lying their asses off.
Fact of the matter is it takes two to tango. I’ve seen many Nice Guys serve as veritable lap dogs for women who were clearly taking of a “friendship” as a very flexible term in terms of boundaries – anything goes, except for sex. By the time the “confession” comes around, she practically owes him her life. Of course it was uncomfortable for her. She took advantage of him for so long and he finally called her out on it. What the hell would anyone expect? When most of your girlfriends’ boyfriends won’t even do the kind of shit for you that your special “friend” does, chances are he’s not “just a friend,” it’s more like a dysfunctional, abusive relationship. Just because it’s sexless doesn’t mean it’s not a relationship.
FWIW, I disagree with Lydia; I always know precisely why I am or am not attracted to someone, even if I have to contemplate on the exact reason for a while. So I don’t think that’s a silly ladybrain thing
I don’t really know what you mean here. And do you feel this in a dating/romantic sense or a sexual sense? Are you really sexually attracted top every single one of your female friends? Because I find that incredibly unlikely, unless you select your friendships for looks too.
And as far as the whole sister/brother thing… You’re right, it is bullshit. But line this up with the common complaint that women are so stuck up they’ll only go after assholes who look like movie stars, and it starts to make sense.
I wonder if a lot of the “well, I like them well enough, but ewww” thing has to do with women being less allowed to use physical criteria to turn down men? I know I dated a guy in high school because he was my friend and we got along really well and had the same interests, but the fact is that he was NOT attractive to me, and I know I hurt him more having to end things than I would have if I had just said “no, I don’t feel like we have chemistry” in the first place.
Personally, I tend to define Nice Guy-ism by the entitlement. Its one thing to admit that you’re single and that it means you’re lonely, and another to frame it about how you DESERVE a relationship and its everyone else’s fault that you don’t have one. I just know I have friends who fall into the first camp, and they generally try to go out and meet people, hoping to click on that “next” level, while those who fall into the second camp just seem to be on the lookout for someone, anyone they can squeeze into the significant-other shaped hole in their life.
How does one know they are conventionally attractive? Even if I were to say that I was, would I have to provide proof in order to be believed?
I have been told I’m passably attractive to some men. Some of those same men have put me in the friend zone because of various reasons that usually came down to me being compared to other women and found lacking despite being told that I’m actually much nicer and kinder than those other women. Just, you know, not the man in question’s type.
It’s pretty painful when someone you find yourself drawn to doesn’t feel the same way you do regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, any of that.
One of the blogs I’ve found myself enjoying lately, Captain Awkward, deals with someone who writes in about having no “friend-zone.” I think she handle’s his question quite well. I’ll share it here:
Yea, no. That’s just… no. I’ve definitely been friend-zoned (here used to mean “Wanted to have sex/a relationship with an available guy who didn’t want to have sex with me”). Rejection happens to everyone. And at the end of the day, that’s what a friend-zone is; rejection.
Admittedly, I experience much less rejection than a cis guy of similar attractiveness, but I really cannot stress enough how big a part slut shaming plays into this.
@Ferris: Great comment! Your point about kind but romantically/sexuaqlly unsuccessful men being seen as asexual reminded me of o bit in “The Lion In Winter”, where the middle son Prince Geoffrey (whose older brother is the future Richard the Lion-Hearted, and whose younger brother is John Lackland, who are both pushed by one of their parents to become king after Henry II dies) is a bit peeved that, when talking about succession, he is *always* left out.
In this clip , the bit starts at about 2:20.
It’s not so much that he won’t become king, but that no one even *considers* him for the office (despite him being the son with the fewest issues of the three). To rewrite the bit for the Nice Guy situation:
“Noone ever thinks of getting laid and mentions Geoff, why is that?”
“Isn’t being my best friend intimacy enough?”
“It’s not the intimacy I feel deprived of, it’s the mention I miss. There’s no affection for my sexuality here. You wouldn’t think I want that, would you?”
@Shora, thank you! I think EE meant exactly what you said – that it’s not a silly ladybrain thing. If you don’t like someone, you should know why. I will throw down my gauntlet on it as well.
I’m friends with a couple girls I would never date, but I know exactly why, even if I’m reluctant to tell them because it might be very hurtful. But if they asked, I would find some way of telling them why. If I didn’t, I would think of myself as a liar and an asshole. My policy is that if you can’t tell someone why you’re not attracted to them, it’s because there’s something about you that is actually a lie. I’m not about to go around telling everyone I know that I am attracted to funny girls with great personalities and then clam up when the funny sweet fat girl asks me out. I’m never going to tell a girl that “it’s just not meant to be” or even that “I just don’t feel the chemistry between us.” I’m going to tell her the truth. Hopefully the truth will help her on her own path through life. Truth is something I’ve always felt that a lot of women never gave me the benefit of.
@Shora: (I just poked around on your blog, I really like what you write, I wish there were more women like you in the world!)
I’m sorry I’m being so confusing. It’s hard to write this out. Here it goes:
Let’s say I have 100 “Friends.” who are single and live in the immediate area.
I’m straight, and half my friends are female. I have 50 female “Friends.”
Of those 50 Female Friends, 10 of them are physically attractive to me.
Of those 10 female Friends, 7 of them do not have personality issues that I could identify that would make a relationship “not work.”
Of those 7 female Friends, 4 of them share my religious/world views.
Of those 4 female Friends, 3 of them seem sexually compatible.
For those 3 friends, I would pursue a relationship with them if I were single, unless there were one or more specific reasons why I was not attracted to them and/or did not think a relationship would work. I cannot imagine a scenario where I would not want to pursue them sexually/romantically and not know why I felt that way.
Many women feel that giving away their “milk for free” is unfair – that they should be getting something in return for sex, and the only way you will have sex with them is through the frame of a romantic relationship. Thank ye gods, not all women are like that. I’m pretty sure it’s cultural, and it’s bullshit.
But that still doesn’t change the fact that many, many women are like that – although I, personally, don’t want sex OR a relationship with a woman like that, I can’t pretend that they don’t exist for the purposes of this observation about a gender-related issue. So, I’m lumping them in together. That said, it changes nothing for me – it’s just an extra hurdle to jump – I might sex you if you’re attractive, but I wouldn’t have a relationship with you if I don’t think we could deal with the day-to-day realities of each other’s personalities. Make sense now?
I think it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of times people (including women) aren’t dishonest because they want to yank someone around by the nose. A lot of people are really empathetic, and spitting some hot fire of truth at someone can seem needlessly cruel.
Personally, I don’t want a list of my own character flaws handed to me along with a steamy plate of rejection. I think “We don’t have chemistry” or “I don’t feel like we click very well” are perfectly valid things to tell someone when rejecting them since they both have an air of finality to them (unlike “I’m just not ready for a relationship right now”) while still not saying anything bad about the person.
I would tell anyone why I’m rejecting them unless they insisted I do. Even then I would hesitate, because that whole scenario would be extremely uncomfortable for me. There have been a lot of times when someone has told me to be honest with them and they won’t get mad, and then they get extremely upset and start screaming at me or calling me stuck up, or start arguing with my about how my reasons aren’t “good” ones.
AH, YIKES! I’ve been foolish with my words!
I want to clarify – YES, WOMEN CAN GET FRIEND-ZONED BY MEN. My Kim Kardashian example was not worded thoroughly enough. What I was trying to say was that I don’t think women get “friend-zoned” for unknown, mysterious, sibling-feeling reasons. I think if a man says that to you, he’s lying or deluded. Also, all people have the right to want to keep a friend of theirs as a friend without having romantic/sexual parts. Of course you do.
But for some reason (not all, but ONLY) women seem to get the “brother” vibe from men in their lives who are Attractive to them, Compatible with them and meet other, reasonable, expectations.
I want to reserve “friend zone” for the place that you put friends who could/would be relationship material but for some weird, unknown mystical reason where you don’t feel “that way” about them.
Men don’t seem to get the “sister” vibes around attractive women they get along with.
@Shora, okay, but to this, yea, no.
Rejection is when you don’t talk to the person afterwards. Friend Zone is not rejection. It’s a dysfunctional relationship that features one person being used, even if they aren’t being led on in an overt manner. A lot of times, it’s when one person says, “You’re a friend… you know I would do it for you if I could,” when they know it’s not really true but they also know that you want them. At least that’s how I define a “Friend Zone” relationship. I often find myself being the person on the receiving end of all the begging… beg beg beg…. do this, do that, help me help me… I often find my guy friends in that same predicament. But I don’t really see any gorgeous woman in that place – not unless they have serious self esteem issues.
I’ve placed people in the friend zone but what I didn’t do is come up with rationalizations for why they deserved to be there.
Yeah, but saying “we don’t have chemistry” makes you sound like an airhead. And I don’t want to sound like a liar and an airhead. At least they won’t walk away from the dating scene thinking that everyone they ever met is a complete idiot because they’re too unwanted to meet anyone normal.
Dungone; I wasn’t using your definition of “friend zone” (although I think it’s a very useful one). I specified that I was using it to mean “Wanted to have sex/a relationship with an available guy who didn’t want to have sex with me”. So here, “rejection” means someone telling me “I don’t want to have sex with you” or “I don’t want to have a relationship with you”. In other words, I’m not being rejected wholly as a person, but I’m being rejected only as far as sex goes (which still leaves room for friendship – REAL friendship)
The specific pattern you describe with friend zones I’ve not seen happen with genders switched (which doesn’t mean it never happens, of course) and I’m inclined to believe is gendered. But keep in mind there are other, equally damaging, equally prevalent, equally manipulative gendered dynamics where a man is stringing along or otherwise taking advantage of a woman.
Also, MANY women have serious self esteem issues.
It does? How?
“I often find my guy friends in that same predicament. But I don’t really see any gorgeous woman in that place – not unless they have serious self esteem issues.”
To me this reads that your guy friends, despite them being attractive or not, deal with this issue. But only unattractive women have some kind of problem that makes them undesirable have to deal with this? So it only matters if the woman is attractive but not the man? Can an attractive woman be put in a friend-zone because she’s just not your type?
Your definition of “friend-zone”, meaning “a dysfunctional relationship that features one person being used, even if they aren’t being led on in an overt manner,” seems to be a good interpretation of the word considering the experiences you’ve described. But I’ve often encountered other definitions that mean something quite different due to different experiences.
I think a lot of the reason things like this should be discussed is because of how often people use interpretations of words or phrases that don’t mean the same thing to someone else they might encounter. Offense is often given by accident because of the casual use of words.
My best friend – and friend since childhood – is an attractive man. He’s also shy and seemingly asexual – not aggressive toward women. He has also been friend-zoned by every female friend he’s had.
I’ve tried to talk to mutual female friends about why they don’t date him – and they all told me the same thing – he’s like a brother to them. They think he’s attractive, they know he is kind and considerate. He’s respectful, intelligent.
What he lacks is the same thing I lacked when I was younger – sexual energy. The ability to make some women feel funny in their ladybits without touching them (there at least.) My friend is deeply religious and believed that God would send the right woman to him. I’m an atheist – so I realized that if I was going to fix my situation, I’d have to do it myself. I started listening to (intelligent) women who were in tune with their sexuality and realized that male sexual energy is not automatically harmful to women. It just has to be respectful of boundaries, appropriate and light-hearted. My love-life changed almost overnight after I discovered this.
Be warned though, it’s hard to turn off.
My definition of “conventionally attractive” is basically lacking widely unattractive traits. Morbid obesity could be included depending on severity, but things like facial deformities, obvious physical handicaps, speech impediments, or the like could make it hard to include them in “conventionally attractive” groups. That’s not to say that people with the above mentioned things could not be considered “attractive” – by no means is that the case – but their beauty would be “unconventional” to say the least.
I, frankly, love freckles on women – but I realize that isn’t “conventional.”
wow, …you’ve really never met a female #4 before, Ozy?
Lucky you, I guess.
Well, for starters, it’s gibberish. What are you now, a chemist? Standing there in a lab coat over a beaker full of pheromones going “Aha! The reaction took place!!! I’m in love. And found the cure for AIDS! It’s Alive, It’s Aliiiiivvveee.” I mean, no, seriously, what does it mean?
It’s just this silly convention we have of communicating with each other. It basically means, “Well, I think you’re fucking ugly but I don’t want to tell you that… so I’m going to pretend I’m a scientific expert who has an unfathomable understanding of things that you will never get. Or… maybe I’m an idiot.”
@dungone – you said:
“But I really think it takes a concerted effort to make it that difficult for a guy to ask you out for so long. It usually has something to do with the daily reminders of “we’re just friends right? I mean you’re different than all the other guys… I know you’d never want to sleep with me like all those other sleazeballs…” How are you going to tell a girl you love if she preempts you every day? “
That really really really sucks but has never ever ever ever happened to me. The only friendzoning I have ever experienced ever in 17-odd years of being interested in sex more than computer games has been as a result of me lacking the confidence to make the first move. Ever.
Now, I think the reasons for this are interesting, because they do tie into those gendered and misogynist/misandrist views of what sex looks like. I totally swallowed the “male sexuality is inherently threatening to women” line somehow, and this made me constantly de-sexualise myself in order not to be a threat – because I sure as hell didn’t want to threaten anyone.
I also observed that I fell for girls without them necessarily having to do anything (though to be fair, they might have been flirting their little butts off and 15-year-old-me wouldn’t have noticed) so it seemed logical to me that if I could present myself as interesting and unique (dark and brooding, natch) as well as non-threatening, then girls should totally fall for me the same way. Cue several years of me trying to attract women solely through the power of attempting to look like I was thinking about something important, and doing the FOREVER ALONE face in private.
EE: (Thank you! I’m glad you like my ramblings :P)
I started listening to (intelligent) women who were in tune with their sexuality and realized that male sexual energy is not automatically harmful to women. It just has to be respectful of boundaries, appropriate and light-hearted.
Oh my god this. This right here. Pure Truth
No, no… I think you’ve got a few things confused. Not by my definition of the Friend Zone. What I was saying is that attractive women are better able to remove themselves from the Friend Zone situation than the typical Nice Guy, mainly because they have a high enough self esteem to expect better luck with other equally or even more attractive men. To correct myself, I’ve seen women who were in the “Friend Zone” for a day or two and move on. I’ve seen guys who were in it for years on end.
Dungone; The English language has many turns of phrase that are not to be taken literally. Do you have the same objection when someone says “You know, we don’t really *click*” or “There just wasn’t that spark”? There are no literal clicks or sparks involved in either of those statements. People often use metaphor when talking about feelings like love or romance (or the lack thereof). That’s what “chemistry” is; a metaphor. In this case, a metaphor for “I don’t really feel the urge to have sex with you/” Intelligent people use metaphors all the time.
@Shora, yes. I have an objection to all of those. Those phrases are destroying the entire fucking planet. Ever hear of George Carlin? My hero. Seriously though, here is my generic mockery of all of them: “I think you’re fucking ugly, but I don’t want to tell you that, so I’ll just use this turn of phrase… okay here it goes… turn of phrase! Do you get it now? Because I’ve explained everything… Turn of phrase… see? You’re not even hurt! You just have that confused, deer-in-the-headlights look on your face, that’s great! I feel good about myself now!”
If I have enough in common with them that we’re compatible, count me in, that’s my criteria. If I wait to get “tingles”, sorry, not ever gonna happen. Ever, with anyone.
I can make the “tingles” happen. Just trust me on this one, I know where I’m going with it…
I once had a woman use so many turns of phrase she got a Ford Fracture.
@EasilyEnthused: “Women, as the video above suggests, seem to have no problem finding a man who is physically attractive and compatible enough with them for them to be “friends” but yet only manage to feel about him as if “he were a brother.” In other words, logically speaking, women seem capable (intentionally or not) of turning off their sexual attraction to a man regardless of if he is emotionally and physically compatible with them.”
I totally suck at turning off my sexual attraction to men. A lot. If I only want to be friends with you, it’s because I’m either not attracted to you, or you bother me in some other way. (Or you live on the other side of the planet.)
As for Nice Guy Ex, one of the reasons he had so much trouble is because before dating me, he focused almost entirely on befriending the girls who looked like supermodels–despite the fact that he’s a mega-nerd, they weren’t, and they basically were using him as a way to play DDR for free and get free sodas (no booze allowed in freshman dorms). He picked girls who were obviously not compatible with him in any way, and then wondered why he was stuck in the “Friend Zone.”
BTW, pretty women get Friend Zoned in the worst possible way: guys assume she’s got to be already dating somebody, because–look at her, damn! -_- Which makes it annoying when she isn’t.
@Patches: I am absurdly risk-averse. I have a decent amount of $$ in savings and refuse to touch it for anything. I freeze and cannot speak when in the physical presence of someone I find attractive. I agree with the Occupy Movement wholeheartedly, but am terrified of going down there because what if I get tasered or pepper-sprayed or my conservatard parents see me on the TV and stop paying my car insurance or my boss finds out and fires me or or or or…?
Dungone; George Carlin was a hilarious man, but I don’t find his humor to be something I base my world view on.
I don’t want to have sex with you =/= I think you’re fucking ugly.
Softening a rejection is actually not a horrible thing. Not wanting to hurt someone unnecessarily is also not a bad thing. Giving someone false hope that there is a chance when there isn’t IS a bad thing, but these things are not mutually exclusive.
It’s called the MHC – major histocompatability complex, a group of immune-system genes which are known to function in individual recognition (including and especially kin) and mate selection in most mammals, including humans, as well as many non-mammals. Humans presented with body odors from numerous individuals were most attracted to those who had the optimal difference in MHC geneotype for high immune system in offspring (heterozygosity in MHC = strong immune system, which is why inbred animals/people have weaker immune systems).
Obviously, MHC issues aren’t the only thing involved in attraction (as evidenced by attraction to those who one has never met in person), but they are likely the source of the subtle, subconscious “feeling” that someone isn’t attractive.
Frankly, I’m actually more suspicious of the so-called “reasons” than the claim that “we don’t have chemistry” – given what we know about how the human brain works, I’d bet $20 that those “reasons” are post-hoc rationalizations (probably at a level beneath conscious awareness) of simpler, deeper aversions based on biochemistry, imprinting, and conditioning.
TL:DR – Humans are animals, not robots. “Why are you not attracted to me?” is no more likely to have a straightforward, logical answer than “Why do you like Cherry Garcia ice cream?” or “Why are you left-handed?”.
@Shora, well if you don’t say that it’s not because they’re fucking ugly by giving them a good reason to believe something else, then you can’t blame them if they jump to the most obvious conclusion. Which is why I think turns of phrase are not intelligent at all when they just take whatever hope there was left for deriving meaning from an encounter that was already fraught with difficult non-verbal communication. Look, I mean okay, I might think it’s because I’m fucking ugly until I get home and look in the mirror and realize that a pigeon shat in my hair… at which point I’ll smile and be like, “ohhhh, it’s because I had birdshit in my hair…”
Well, let me put it this way. I suck at picking up when someone is flirting or not, I don’t read body language very well, stuff like that. You may be really great at those things and think that you’ve already made your point perfectly clear, so the little turn of phrase at the end is just a cherry on top for you. But for me, I might only get to see that cherry and wonder what the fuck the desert was supposed to be. So I just try to treat people the way I would want to be treated myself. I give them more than one chance to understand things.
@Shora, also, George Carlin was a comedian but he took his stance on language very seriously. It extended well beyond his standup and had implications on his political worldview. He saw it the creeping influx of Orwellian doublespeak as a danger to public life. Listen to his skit about PTSD sometime.
I’m guessing that that conclusion is not “She’s not attracted to me for whatever reason, so it’s a good thing attraction is subjective, not objective, and I should go concentrate my energies on someone who may be attracted to me”?
dungone, I’m having trouble understanding what you’re trying to say with the whole cherry metaphor. Is the desert sex? Then what’s the cherry… being nice? If someone is nice to you you wonder what sex with them is like? I’m honestly confused.
@Mok, there is chemistry but it’s a) not proven and b) not an overriding factor. You’re talking about pheromones and no one has actually identified a single human pheromone responsible for attraction nor have they identified a biological pathway in which humans respond to it. They have found similar things in some animals but not us. There is no scientific reason to believe that it has any effect on us.
Here’s how it works for us, in my experience. When a girl likes punk rockers with blue mohawks and I get a blue mohawk, chances are she’ll take it like it’s going out of style. In fact I once dated a girl who dumped me right after I shaved off my blue mohwak and got a job. For a guy who gave her a 2 foot long blue dildo as a Christmas present that she unpacked in front of me at a Christmas party, right before she told me it was over. That’s how it works for humans.
I have a friend who is actually a psychologist and she swore to me that the reason she knows when a guy isn’t right for her is because of pheromones. She says she knows this because when they smell bad, she’s not attracted to them at all, so she knows it must be pheromones. I asked her if maybe the reason she’s 45 years old and still can’t find a stable relationship is because she bases potentially life-long decisions on whether or not a guy wore Axe or Old Spice that day. Because you can’t fucking smell pheromones. They don’t “smell.”
I’m saying that all the nonverbal communication – the smiling, the gazing, the grooming of hair, the crossing of legs, the blushing, the laughing… that’s a huge body of information. Usually when a guy asks you out and you say “no,” it’s because he never got a real taste of all the other ways in which you were already saying “no” before he even asked. So the verbal communication is just the cherry on top – it’s supposed to be your chance to explain to someone why you don’t like them without using cryptic metaphor. Ironically, it’s cute/funny that you don’t understand my metaphor! 🙂
I don’t see how “I’m not feeling any chemistry” Is at all cryptic, or leaves any room for “So if I do this she’ll date me!” though…
Also, calling a woman “Cute” during a serious discussion is kind of condescending, so I’ll have to ask you not to do that. FWIW, the irony was not lost on me, either xD
MASSIVE thread hop here:
Speak for yourself; I totally have female friends who I think are physically attractive and don’t want to have a romantic relationship with. (I also have female friends who I think are physically attractive and do want to have a romantic relationship with, but that’s neither here nor there.)
But I should point out a quibble on “physically attractive”: It’s not really a thing you can talk about independent of your interest in someone. I know women who would objectively be “physically attractive” but who I just don’t feel any chemistry for, and conversely some women who I’m attracted to despite them not being “physically attractive” in any objective sense. People are weird like that.
(Oh, and: I would never use the phrase “like a sister to me” but I don’t think that just because that specific phrase is gendered that the emotion it refers to is. I’m pretty sure I know exactly what “like a brother to me” feels like, and have observed it in other men.)
I’m sorry, it was actually a dong. And no it has nothing to do with my handle.
Oh I didn’t say you were cute. I said the confusion (it) was cute. Don’t get carried away… lol
I’m curious about dungone’s opinion/theory when applied to asexual or demisexual people, where non-attraction may or may not have anything to do with anyone else and just *is*. Were I not engaged, what would I tell someone I wasn’t interested in? “I’m sorry, but my brain chemistry and hormone levels have created in a me a concoction that makes me quite unable to discern general sexual disinterest from sexual disinterest in *you*. You might be funny and nice, but I cannot for the life of me tell if you are attractive, nor can I completely conceptualize sex at the moment in any concrete way.” I would honestly rather just say “I’m not interested”.
You’ve read that Nice Guy email, right? Because you’re starting sound a lot like him…
“Tingles” are extremely secondary for me. It’s not fucking durable. So I’ll go with emotionally, sexually and socially compatible 100,000,000x more before I even CONSIDER how much tingling is going on.
If I even consider the tingling, which probably means I’m pretty drunk, it’s because I’m up for a one-night…which happened all of once in my life. To my credit, I’d never been with a guy before, and we were compatible to a point (maybe not completely), and thought that a relationship could develop…I was hoping against the wind apparently. Too naive.
I decided since to make my resolve stronger that I would only have sex or sexual activity with my relationship partner, possibly an additional person, but not a third party without my partner. And this also means that nothing sexual is going to happen outside a relationship. I benefit all of zero from sex, except from the cuddling, the closeness, and slightly from the sensations – most of which are only obtainable with someone I can reasonably expect to comfort and cuddle me.
I can’t orgasm and need to have substantial trust to do sexual stuff with someone.
And a close friend you can tell everything that happens to be socially, emotionally and sexually compatible, is the epitome of a companionship to me. Much likely to last longer than a small fling because it’s based on more than being turned on at first sight.
@L, oh look, another personal attack… “You’ve read that Nice Guy email, right? Because you’re starting sound a lot like him…”
I’ll tell you what, L. I swear I actually know the guy who wrote that email. I have this friend who didn’t get a call back after a date and I tried to tell him to play it cool, but he has generalized anxiety disorder that he’s been getting treated for since he was a kid and not hearing back from the girl practically killed him. So he wrote an email very similar to that one. He sent it to me after the fact and I was really upset at him for doing that even after I advised him that it won’t solve anything. But I’m not a cruel, coldhearted bitch so I’m not going to post it on the internet for everyone else to mock.
As an conventionally attractive asexual female, something that always interested me was that I got so few romantic overtures from my (overwhelmingly) male friendship group. Considering that some of the situations we’ve been in have been quite intimate, I never got the feeling any of them thought of my ‘that way’. So yes, I would be of the opinion that there is something, whether pheromones or something, that does communicate sexual interest.
@dungone: “It’s just this silly convention we have of communicating with each other. It basically means, “Well, I think you’re fucking ugly but I don’t want to tell you that… so I’m going to pretend I’m a scientific expert who has an unfathomable understanding of things that you will never get. Or… maybe I’m an idiot.””
Do you really think that simple physical attractiveness is the sole reason people decide whether or not they want to have sex with someone? You’ve never spent some time talking to a woman and found yourself desiring her even though if you’d just seen a picture of her you wouldn’t have looked twice?
“I’m saying that all the nonverbal communication – the smiling, the gazing, the grooming of hair, the crossing of legs, the blushing, the laughing… that’s a huge body of information. Usually when a guy asks you out and you say “no,” it’s because he never got a real taste of all the other ways in which you were already saying “no” before he even asked. So the verbal communication is just the cherry on top – it’s supposed to be your chance to explain to someone why you don’t like them without using cryptic metaphor. Ironically, it’s cute/funny that you don’t understand my metaphor! :)”
Of course all this is assuming that anyone *has* to give a concreate reason for not wanting to have sex with/go out with someone. Sometimes you just don’t want to, and that’s fine.
Personally I would much rather someone just say they wern’t interested in me than give reasons why they’re not interested (unless of course it’s that they’re not attracted to people of my gender or they’re already with someone or something like that, those would be ok). If I have to do the rejecting I’ll just say that I’m not interested, I’ve never felt the need to give any reason for it (of course if the person was a mean bastard I might tell them that, but thankfully I’ve never been in that situation).
Great… comment stuck in mod. Hope the mod gods don’t think it’s too bad. L, if you’re actually curious, if you said that then that would be fine. If it’s true then what do you have to be ashamed of? On the other hand you don’t have to share your entire personal medical history. Actually, saying “I’m not interested” is pretty much perfect. Not only is it literally true, but it’s also unambiguous and confident.
Yeah there are some folks out there that just *don’t* experience primary sexual (or romantic) attraction, and it’s hard to come up with a laundry list of reasons for some of those people, myself included. The one time that I have been propositioned for a relationship and gave a reason, he saw that as a challenge to meet that expectation, and whatever friendship we did have was ruined because he couldn’t just take my no for an answer.
I hope it’s understood that I have a problem with the vague meaningless language that pervades the dating culture. I don’t think anyone owes anybody any explanation. It’s actually tangential to this thread. I just think that meaningless language is in itself harmful. There’s enough people out there who are already confused enough about what’s going on that we don’t need to have them walking around thinking, “what did that mean?” It’s important to be clear, concise, and authoritative. “We don’t have the right chemistry” is really weak because it’s perfectly clear that you’re not interested, but it’s not perfectly clear that you feel comfortable just saying so. Why don’t you feel comfortable? Is it because you know you’re wrong? Or am I really horrible to you? And now it’s a mind game.
You’ve never met a female Stage Four before?
IMHO they are the ones who rationalize their romantic failures by saying that men are perma-adolescents who just want to play their X-Boxes and hook up with bitches at clubs.
This discussion is really fascinating, a lot of y’alls comments have given me a lot to think about.
@L, “The one time that I have been propositioned for a relationship and gave a reason, he saw that as a challenge to meet that expectation.”
I think that would be true for a lot of people: when you’re rejected your first instinct is to know why! As if once you fix that thing then there’s hope again, and that’s so tempting an avenue to pursue yet is definitely the wrong road to be stuck running down. “I’m not interested” is the most direct/honest/respectful way to go, not providing any insult and not leaving the road open for useless hoping, either, so you can get on to the real task of being friends, or not, as it happens.
@ the other conversation: I never got told “you’re like a sister to me,” but I did get told “but you’re not a real girl.” Which in the context was referring to how I was “one of the guys,” all tomboyish and nerdish and such, and it wasn’t supposed to be an insult, it was supposed to be a sort-of-compliment. But it did indicate really clearly that I was in a separate category from the group of women that my friends wanted to date and for a while that really screwed with my self-esteem and made me wonder what about me was just so un-desirable anyway.
“Which in the context was referring to how I was “one of the guys,” all tomboyish and nerdish and such, and it wasn’t supposed to be an insult, it was supposed to be a sort-of-compliment. But it did indicate really clearly that I was in a separate category from the group of women that my friends wanted to date and for a while that really screwed with my self-esteem and made me wonder what about me was just so un-desirable anyway.”
Nobody’s ever said that to me, or anything like the sibling line, but I’ve understood it pretty clearly for most of my time being “one of the guys”. Desexualization happens to all genders, but in my case I was pretty okay with it due to the aforementioned lack of heteronormative/normophilic sexuality. Which I find kind of interesting, just from the contexts I’m reading about in other people’s comments here, given that I’m apparently very conventionally attractive and I still get put in this friend category a lot. I’m sure it also has to do with my being intimidating (so I’ve been told) and not really ever expressing an interest in sex or relationships. What really clued me into just how desexualized I am with my friends, though, was when I announced that I had a boyfriend; the first thing one of them said was “Wow, really? This whole time I thought you reproduced by budding.”
@dungone: Wow… we actually agree on something!
That’s a good definition of the different type of Nice Guys(tm) but you forget something : Slave morality. Misogynistic or entitled Nice Guys(tm) are slave moralists : It is a system for generating excuses for your own failures and to attack those who have success. Nice Guys(tm) believe they are special, different and superiors – that’s why they call guys that have a girlfriend Bad Boys or beta-losers. And they are convinced they cannot be like the other, they develop a specialness around their condition. It explain why these guys claim proudly to be Nice Guys(tm) while most people think that Nice Guys(tm) are creepy dudes. Normally these guys should define themselves as genuine nice guys, or socially awkward guys or guys that have some form of personality disorder – there’s a lot of support forums for these people. Instead they prefer to see themselves as Nice Guys(tm) and they gather together to bitch against women and wallow in self-pity.
And it explain why they are fascinated by PUA lifestyle as well. Guys in the manosphere are constantly complaining they don’t have enough sex with different women with her which means they can only have casual sex – many of them never had a real girlfriend. A guy like that will usually feel like a loser compared to guys that have a girlfriend, but instead of that, they claim they are PUAs and are happier and have more sex than guys with a girlfriend.
There’s a women equivalent of the entitled Nice Guys(tm), it’s the Alex character in the movie “Fatal Attraction” and there are women like that and usually it’s because they are Borderlines, not because they are socially awkward.
More thoughts! The further I go the less developed these thoughts get, and may be venturing into the realm of “I think there’s something to this idea, but I haven’t worked through it all the way.”
-What I call “the equality paradox.” The basic gist of it: In such a situation there is a friendship between male and female. They are of similar intelligence, have many shared interests, and a general compatibility that speaks to their similarity on a lot of levels, or at the very least they have complimentary traits that roughly balance. This is a feature of the majority of close friendships to one degree or another. In an asexual world (or a gender equal world) they would be on the same social plane. But they are not. The girl is on a much higher social plane than the guy, and this is demonstrated by her sexual opportunities, and more importantly by her sexual choices with respect to those opportunities. The illusion of equality in the friendship is put under severe strain by the fact that she consistently chooses the sexual company of his “social betters” and rejects the sexual company of he himself. In this way the relationship no longer hinges on the relative equality between him and her, but rather the strong disequality between him and the men she chooses to date or have sex with. Her sexual choices are seen to validate the social order that places him below these other men, and in that light the supposed equality of the friendship comes to be seen as a sham.
-Continuing on the idea of the corollary to slut shaming being asshole-branding, there is some degree to which women associate “not-nice” behavior with sexual dynamism. That’s not to say women are going out trying to find the biggest asshole they can to sleep with, but rather that when a woman goes looking for something sexual, she has to some degree acted on an internalized belief that if she plans to commit “not nice” behavior, she will do so with a “not nice” man. I know in my experience there have been women who have displayed sexual interest in me because I come off as a “bit of a dick” (sidenote: still trying to figure out why I come off that way, when everyone that knows me well says they realize how wrong that surface impression was). In the same way you don’t mind if your drug dealer isn’t all that friendly, but would never ask “the nice boy” if he could sell you drugs because drugs are a not-nice business, there is a subtle pull towards accepting “not nice” behavior in a sexual context, but never asking the “nice boy” if he would want sex. Further, any attempts by him to express his own sexual interest seem out of character and create a dissonance that undermines him, as it is not seen as legitimate as that of someone who is “supposed” to display sexual behavior.
Agreed so much. I have an aunt who, according to the rest of the family, has always needed someone to help. As a child, she dragged home stray cats and made friends with the smelly, unpopular, working class children in her class. She once dumped a boyfriend after he pulled himself together and got a job. I’ve heard it said that the only reason she’s still with her husband is that he never really amounted to anything. But I doubt she’s able to tell someone “I need to take care of someone so much that I have trouble dating successful people”, because she probably doesn’t know.
In the same vein, I once had a friend who was very dominant, and couldn’t stand people opposing him. But at the same time, compliant people bored him to death. The only way to handle him was to disagree without disagreeing. So whenever he said something he considered brilliant, the way to handle was to say “But then don’t you also think….?/Wouldn’t that also mean….?/That reminds me of….”, bringing something new and different to the argument without making it sound like he had been wrong.
But whenever he talked about his preferences, he always focussed on how he liked smart girls who challenged him. Because in the end, people don’t always know themselves, and he was no exception. It was quite obvious to the rest of us that he became way more offended than what was normal whenever someone told him he was wrong, or otherwise directly opposed him, that he simply couldn’t back down gracefully, and needed to be given an opening, and needed a girlfriend who would shelter his ego for him.
Not to mention that factors like “humour”, “intelligence”, and even “appearance” are highly subjective. I’ve had guys teary-eyed with laughter telling me how much they enjoyed the way I could make everything funny, but also a guy who told me I had no sense of humour. Different strokes and all that. It’s easy enough for people like dungone to say he’s attracted to (quote) “funny girls with great personalities” here, but honestly, telling someone “I’m not attracted to you because you don’t have a great personality” is twice as vague and several times as insulting as “I just don’t feel a spark between us”.
I’ve always divided Nice Guys – standard caveat here, I am defining Nice Guys as “people who sit around complaining about how unfair it is that members of their preferred gender never want to date nice guys/girls like them,” I mean no disrespect to guys who are nice and don’t do that – into two basic categories:
1. People who only think of themselves as “nice” because they have a skewed idea of what niceness entails; what they call “nice,” other people call “massively, unbelievably passive-aggressive” or “obsessed with acting ‘chivalrous’ in a weird, anachronistic Ren Faire kind of way,” or “never expressing even a hint of sexuality or sexual interest around others.” (The last one is especially common with Nice Girls.) In this case the supposed “niceness” often really is what is driving away potential partners.
2. People who actually are nice according to the normal definition, but don’t get dates because either there is something else unattractive about them (which may or may not be their fault; could be poor hygiene, could be just not very good-looking, whatever), OR they are just unlucky.
I think it’s important to distinguish, because (a) Category 1 Nice Guys are very, very common, so it’s useful to explain what could be wrong with their conception of niceness, and (b) Category 2 Nice Guys really don’t deserve to be lumped in with them.
+1 to everything Shora has said, especially at 7:06.
No I don’t think that, but it’s the one thing that most people are most insecure about. And I mean that in both ways – it’s both hardest to reject someone on physical appearance alone as well as to accept rejection without thinking it has something to do with appearance.
Your second question is really interesting, though. I don’t think that has ever happened, no. I’m pretty honest with myself about which women are attractive enough. So there really haven’t been any surprises like that, no. I mean at the extreme end of the spectrum, I think a couple women I know IRL actually believe that there are only 2 or 3 men alive who they could ever find attractive. I kind of think that this is the problem really. They don’t understand their own sexuality going into it and half way through getting to know a guy they realize “damn, I’m getting horny.” Of course they’ll have sex and orgasm and still think that the guy was unattractive. No, really, I just don’t get that. With me, everything pretty much just lines up the way I think it’s supposed to…
Your version of Friend Zone sounds a little like this Unattractive Man Just Like A Brother To Area Woman and lot like this But If We Started Dating It Would Ruin Our Friendship Where I Ask You To Do Things And You Do Them
I’ve never been in any such relationship, either way, and it’s probably not easy to spot as a third party. But you’re right; it takes two to tango. In my example I assume the woman in question was reasonable enough to make her feelings clear and the “courtship” should stop. A woman could be some sort of manipulative taker, a bad friend who just absorbs what you do for them without ever giving anything back.
However, people like that exist in both sexes. When the relationship is taker male/giver female, one of the things the male usually tends to take is sex. He winds up the asshole boyfriend that women get yelled at for always preferring to nice guys. (So Badboy Loving Women Theory means it’s the female victim’s fault, and when the taker is one of those women who take without giving, the Badboy Loving Women Theory comes back around, making it the female perpetrator’s fault.) Its only in the platonic scenario with a taker female/giver male that it’s implied that the scenario would be more fair if it wasn’t platonic. That attitude treats the sex like it’s a favor being given as a return for another favor. A man who is sleeping with a manipulative, self-absorbed woman who only takes, takes, takes isn’t luckier than the so called Average Frustrated Chump/Nice Guy ™. Hell, in my mind he’s less lucky; he probably thinks his relationship was deeper and more legitimate because sex gets spun that way. When he finally figures out he’s being used it’s just going to hurt more, and there’s always the chance that he could have wound up having children with someone bad for him. Likewise some poor woman who has a friend down the hall she keeps inviting over to play her Xbox 360 who just can’t sink the deal, isn’t unluckier than the woman who got used sexually during said visits if the woman who got laid also wanted a valid relationship.
People who encounter and fall for users are unfortunate. Talking about sex like it ‘evens the score’ just makes it seem like women are the only ones who have the ‘good’ sex commodity and they owe it as trade for services rendered.
Actually, I think group number two kind of do deserve to get lumped in with the others. If they aren’t getting dates because of some unattractive quality, but still insist on blaming it on their niceness, they’re expressing the kind of entitlement characteristic of most descriptions of Nice Guys(TM). They’re basically saying “I have quality X (X in this case being niceness). Quality X should be all that’s required for women to be attracted to me, period. When women aren’t attracted to me, it must be solely because they don’t like quality X.”, and there are just so many insulting and harmful implications in that.
Also, I think there’s a third category (or perhaps just an expansion of category 1), consisting of people who make some effort to be nice, but lack the social skills to be pleasant for most people to be around, and fail to understand that an intention to be nice is not the same as succeeding in being nice.
That’s a really good point, and I thought about writing something similar. I’ve always found it weird that Nice Guys(TM) complain so much about being treated badly by women they’re attracted to, while at the same time complaining about women who keep being attracted to men who treat them badly.
I can only think of two reasons for why that is. Either the Nice Guys(TM) believe women are all interchangeable, or are at least so alike in their non-niceness that finding a nice woman is futile, so they have to put up with whatever this homogeneous lump of she-people do to them if they want to date someone, unlike women who can choose one of the many Nice Guys.
Or they believe that only the moral qualities of men matter, and women are defined solely by their appearance, so the high quality (i.e. pretty) women should be with the high quality (i.e. nice) men, and it’s an injustice when it doesn’t happen. This would explain why so many Nice Guys(TM) talk about Nice Girls as being synonymous with pretty girls.
“I mean not asking people out, befriending people and then expecting romantic relationships to happen by magic, expecting all the problems in your life to be solved by Twoo Wuv, ”
But well, isn’t that the way women have been conditioned for decades, if not centuries? The whole Cinderella complex?
I always wanted a woman to sweep me off my feet. I never thought that they preferred jerks, however.
@Jay, I wish those links to The Onion worked, the titles sound hilarious!
Your comment was incredibly thought provoking, but to be perfectly honest I spent the whole time wondering why it didn’t sit well with me and how I could pick it apart. I mean I almost want to agree with you because there are some great parallels that I never thought of but in the end… I can’t do it.
I think that you made one mistake. You forgot to unpack that other gender myth – the one where women’s sexuality is a valuable resource and men’s sexuality is that they take that resource. To be perfectly honest with you, if I’m in a completely sexless relationship where I’m being used, there’s no way that I will ever think that someone who is having sex on a regular basis has it just as bad. No – sex is a validating act. So the way I look at it is that at least that “asshole guy” has the common courtesy to fuck her once in a while. I’ll take that over “Friend Zone” any day. I
I’ve been with asshole women because the sex was just out of this world. I will even admit something that I am ashamed of – I have been with physically abusive women because I found them incredibly attractive and when things were good, they were real good. I also have been in relationships with women that I really wasn’t all that attracted to… and the thing is, I didn’t want to have sex with them but I always felt pressured into it. In fact I currently have a friend with benefits who, in between girlfriends, sort of comes over and forces herself on me. She always has pretty bad breath because she owns a restaurant and they make everything with so much onion and garlic it’s sick. So I hate kissing her. But I do it when I do it, I don’t even know why, and she gets off on me even though I don’t really get off on her. So silly me, one day I actually felt a little guilty about this set up and I thought that if she wanted for it to become more than it was, I should give her a chance. So I asked her out. Do you know what she said? She told me she wasn’t interested in having a boyfriend. Talk about the tables turning on that one.
So getting back to my point… sex is better than no sex.
“…and the thing is, I didn’t want to have sex with them but I always felt pressured into it. In fact I currently have a friend with benefits who, in between girlfriends, sort of comes over and forces herself on me. She always has pretty bad breath because she owns a restaurant and they make everything with so much onion and garlic it’s sick. So I hate kissing her. But I do it when I do it, I don’t even know why…”
“So getting back to my point… sex is better than no sex.”
That… really isn’t the conclusion I would draw from what you just described, dungone. How does being pressured into sex that you don’t want and don’t enjoy make the relationship any LESS about being used?
Durn. I’ll try again. Like a Brother, Ruined Friendship. If nothing else you can copy-paste the titles into the Onion’s search function they should come up for you.
sex is better than no sex.
That’s a valid opinion and I’ll accept that it’s true for you. It could be true for more people than not. I’ve never really been in a sexless relationship where I had wanted sex to happen to a degree that I got hung up on it. I’ve actually had women yell at me for giving up too fast; that they wanted me to push past their reticence, to have made a move on them, or to have just continued at the level where we were at because she wasn’t ready for the next level yet. Like I discussed with f in the open thread- without very, very clear signals from any form of media depicting women I tend to keep my libido out of things, or at least keep any mild fantasies I may have in my head and realize they’re my own problem, and my real life interactions with real life women work very similarly.
Buuuut, I think there’s a reason that the worst of the MRA’s seem to be comprised largely of sexually frustrated men AND divorcees.
@Pteryxx, hmmmmm… tough question. Well, in the end it was still because some sex was better than no sex. I imagine that if I had a better option at the time, I would have just said no and taken the better option. So when I say that I didn’t really want to have sex, it’s because I would have gone with another girl at the drop of a hat. And that’s not the best feeling in the world because it makes you feel like you’re getting used and using at the same time. But I’m not describing situations where I had no agency. I’m not describing rape. I’m describing situations that I consented to because when it came right down to it, I did want the sex. They were weird situations, yes. They were situations where I was using them a little and they were using me a little and I guess in the end that made them fair. I knew what would happen when they came over. I told them to come over. The alternative was loneliness and rejection. Which is how I feel in the “Friend Zone.” Even when I’m in the “Friend Zone,” it’s strategic in nature – I don’t see a better alternative, someone I might love more, so I do what my teachers taught me and try turning lemons into lemonade. But it definitely sucks a lot more to get beat up the way you do in the “Friend Zone” than what happens when you’re willingly having sex.
Yeah, I really don’t know if I’ve ever done much Nice Guyness, but I’ve definitely been guilty, when I was younger, of thinking that women were largely homogenous. That whatever exceptions there were, were so rare and wonderful that they’d have their pick of a pool of guys like me, which was bound to have better options, so I’d better either stop being like me or go ahead and get used to celibacy. So I couldn’t blame any Nice Guys if they went to a similar place with their bitterness.
I’ve been in those relationships as well, but to be perfectly honest with you, they only yelled at me after they got married. And let’s just… not even get into what happened after that. If they have to yell at you, it’s because they fucked up somehow and now they’re full of regret.
@dungone, thanks for your considered answer. …I’m not sure what to say, but that you’ve given me something to think about.
The difference is that some people who take great issues with NiceGuyGals are simply insisting that NiceGuyGals stop being NiceGuyGals. What is starkly missing is introspection. Why are these people who complain about NiceGuyGals keep meeting and befriending NiceGuyGals?
So as much as some people need to learn to not be a NiceGuyGal people should learn how not to create NiceGuyGals. Try doing simple things like engaging in honest discussion and stating your intentions. It’s best to avoid misconceptions. Try to avoid stringing people along and playing other head games with them. This breeds resentment.
The point is asking yourself what you can do instead of insisting that other do all the changing. You have a lot of power over your own personal relationships…probably more power than any other aspect of your life.
I want a sexbot. Does that automatically put me in stage four?
You know, I just had this exact conversation with a male friend recently. He told me the same thing you wrote, that if he happened to have female friends that were attractive/ compatible, he would feel at least a little attracted to them. It was a wild kind of concept, you know.
It’s just, well, bizarre to me. I pretty much do feel the same way, but from the other side. I can’t wrap my mind around the idea of being attracted to every person I think is fun and (physically) attractive, just like that, like it’s some kind of binary and the only two options are “I am attracted to this person” and “This person is unattractive.” I get the concept from an intellectual level, but I can’t relate on an experiential level at all. For me, there’s a lot of “I can recognize that this person is attractive, but I am not attracted to them.”
And I think the idea that you’re not being honest with yourself if you can’t articulate some kind of specific reason is bullshit. You know, I went out with that guy. Twice. The guy who is you friend and you’re not attracted to him, but he asks you out? Well, back when I was in High School, before I knew what it felt like to actually be turned on by/attracted to someone, I dated two guys who were like that. Why? Because they were nice people, and I liked their company, and they were decent looking guys in both cases. In other words, because I didn’t have a reason not to.
But as it turns out that just doesn’t cut it. All that resulted in was having to endure completely unenjoyable physical contact and a few years of sporadic crying and angst, wondering why I just couldn’t make myself feel the same way about them as they obviously did about me. Wondering why I was apparently frigid,** and it honestly couldn’t have been a joy-filled walk in the park for the guys either. We all deserved better than to be with each other.
So, fuck that, quite frankly. I am unwilling to put myself or some unsuspecting guy in that kind of a position ever again. “I’m not (sexually) attracted to you.” is the reason, the honest, be-all-end-all reason, why I would now reject such a person. Dissecting it into it’s component parts isn’t going to change anything, and, as AB said, “…honestly, telling someone “I’m not attracted to you because you don’t have a great personality” is twice as vague and several times as insulting as “I just don’t feel a spark between us”.” .
**Happily, I wasn’t. I really can’t tell you how happy I was, the first time it happened, to learn that I wasn’t broken, and that I really could have actual love and lust type feelings for someone.
I think you’ve got this utterly backwards. It seems to me–just in my experience–that it’s usually the guy who drags it out and delays the inevitable for as long as possible by being very, very, careful to never just come out and say how he feels or ask the questions he really wants to know the answer to. It’s frustrating and I feel like it must take a phenomenal amount of effort to dance around the issue for so long, constantly denying the girl the the option of giving him a clean rejection so they can both move on, or even knowing for sure how he feels about her, and giving her pretty much no socially acceptable choice but to respond in kind with obvious hints and hope he takes them.
I mean, just what exactly are you supposed to do in this situation? What is the right way to handle it? No really, tell me, because right now, right at this very moment, this is happening to me. I have, apparently, friend-zoned someone, though I didn’t fully realize it (beyond a doubt) until a few months ago.
For a lot of people, being blunt like that is difficult because they have empathy, and they don’t want to hurt the other party necessarily. Also, and I’m pretty sure this is applicable accross gendered lines, really blunt statements like that (even/especially when asked for) can turn into really ugly situations. I find language like “Stuck up worthless bitch” to be way more damaging than “Yea, I don’t really feel any chemistry with you.”
Hello everyone. This is my first post here, or on any blog in the sphere of gender discussion; I’ve been lurking such websites for about two years now, however.
I’m male, but I’ve never been a Nice Guy. I’m not without my own self-esteem issues for certain, but if I put them aside and take a reasonably objective look at my romantic and sexual past, and dating habits, I can’t say I’ve done too poorly for myself. I’m no Adonis, but I don’t feel I’ve ever been friend-zoned, I don’t have issues making my romantic interests clear for the women at whom they’re directed, and I have no trouble interacting with women in general. My perspectives on the topic are mostly those of an outsider to the whole phenomena. I have a few problems with the Nice Guy discussion in feminist circles, which I’ll try my best to outline coherently here.
Note: Here I’m using “feminists” to refer to the average feminist discussing this topic on your average feminist site where you might see comments from which the title of this blog is derived.
One of the things that seems to be omnipresent in all definitions of Nice Guys is their alleged sense of entitlement to the affection of those they desire. While I agree that no person is entitled to the affections of any other person, it seems that to bring this up is a non sequitur in the context of this discussion. I’ve never seen an expression that could be construed as entitlement that wasn’t actually a sort of mystified frustration.
Person A: “Why doesn’t she like me? I’m always there for her and she just keeps going for other guys who treat her way worse. I’m way more deserving of her than they are.”
Person B: “You’re not entitled to sex or romance.”
When is this ever helpful? I mean, ever? You have to be looking for hairs to split to think it’s in any way relevant commentary. The sentiment expressed by Person A here, and all similar sentiments, are justifiably confused musings of people who believe (however incorrectly) they are living up to the standards of a desirable romantic and/or sexual partner, yet are not seeing the expected results. If I truly think it’s righty-loosey, lefty-tighty, and I can’t get a screw out even after hours of turning it right, it’s perfectly reasonable for me to be frustrated that my performance isn’t producing for me the results I’m expecting. Telling me that I’m not entitled to the screw coming loose misses the point entirely. What people like Person A are saying is not a comment on some divine birthright, but rather an expression of their perplexity at 2+2 somehow only adding up to 3. The correct response is to point out that they’re actually adding 1 and 2, or that screws come loose by turning left, not right. My best guess as to why this is such a commonly misinterpreted sentiment is that feminist enculturation seems to accidentally teach people to look for negativity in anything produced by men. No feminist is explicitly telling anyone to look for the worst possible meaning behind anything a man says or does, but it just kind of happens.
Following from that reflex to look for the worst in men (and a mirrored reflex to deny that a woman could ever be at fault in any given situation) comes quite a few double standards. If a woman came forward with the exact same issues as the stereotypical Nice Guy, most feminists would be quick to accurately label the specific man in the Nice Girl’s life as a user on some level. In any relationship there needs to be some form of give and take. It’s not a person’s fault if someone else is dead-set on showering them with favors, but they’re lying if they try and purport ignorance to the expected take after so much giving. If someone starts investing a lot of energy into you (even between two people who’s sexual orientations wouldn’t permit a romantic relationship), and you know you’re not going to give that energy back in some form, you have to make some reasonable effort to stop them if you want to be able to say that you weren’t using them. Those same feminists would also understand that the woman’s comments regarding how she deserves the guy more than the girls he’s actually dating are expressions of frustration with the practicality, not the ethics or morals, of the situation (i.e. “The instructions say that if I do A and B, C will happen, but instead D is happening!”, not “I exist, therefor C should happen.”). Expounding on the reflex of feminists to deny women’s fault: I’m not saying that feminists believe women can do no wrong, full-stop, but in practice I rarely see feminists do anything other than side with women in most all specific scenarios brought before them.
I had more, but the Hydrocodone is kicking in (I had my tooth pulled yesterday) and I seem to have forgotten what that more was. I guess that’s it for now!
P.S. This blog has, overall, been very enjoyable to keep tabs on. Thanks for having it.
You know, I think I came off a little too blame-y in my post. A lot of this stuff is close to home. I would like to stress that I hate the “Nice Guy” script, and the social system that creates these situations that are painful for everyone involved, and not the (non misogynist) “Nice Guy” himself. I agree that many people get absolutely NO accurate information about how to actually do this “interacting socially/romantically” thing, though I stipulate that a great deal of those people are also women.
And I have to say, that by this point, I think I’ve basically come to agree with Hugh and others that the label really needs to be discarded, perhaps? I get that there are unpleasant logistical issues involved in trying to switch to another word to describe the phenomenon we are talking about, which is, in my opinion a real phenomenon and very toxic in the later ‘stages’…. but it is an indisputable fact that the term causes so much confusion, despite repeated (constant) attempts to clarify it, and that, point in fact, whatever the intent, it has the absolute tendency to be immediately perceived as applying the toxic attitudes of some onto an undeserving group of people, by many who hear it.
Even if you aren’t persuaded by the argument that the use of the term causes emotional harm to others, surely you can see that this decreases its de-facto utility. From a practical standpoint, what is the actual use of a word that immediately derails every conversation into semantic hair splitting about what the phrase really means and warring anecdotes about everyone’s personal idea of who is meant by such-and such. I am guilty as charged, of course for participating in all that, but it bears pointing out.
So yeah, I pretty much feel conflicted on this issue. I agree the current discourse is toxic to many people, and I think it ought to be changed, but I can’t see an adequate solution that would take into account the need to actually keep discussing what is a real issue. Because it is true, perhaps, that whatever term was chosen instead would eventually come to be seen in the same way as the current one, as is the way of such things. In the end, it’s not really about the terminology.
I’d like to throw my hat in with the others who would consider dating any person (of the gender(s) they’re interested in as romantic and/or sexual partners) they found attractive and also meshed with well enough, personality-wise, to be friends with. The kind of love I’m after (familial love) is the kind you build, and I don’t think the presence of “sparks” (which I’ve always assumed is just concentrated lust, based on how I’ve seen the term used) is a good indicator of whether or not you’re compatible enough to craft the former and use it to carve out a shared path through life.
Regarding the discussion on rejection etiquette: I don’t think the rejected is owed a detailed list of reasons by the rejecting party. The rejecting party shouldn’t lie, I don’t think, but I can’t see why “I’m not interested.” isn’t a more than adequate explanation.
If a woman came forward with the exact same issues as the stereotypical Nice Guy, most feminists would be quick to accurately label the specific man in the Nice Girl’s life as a user on some level.
I was looking for a counterexample… oh hey found one. I’m glad you like our little blog; enjoy reading. 🙂
@dungone “They don’t understand their own sexuality going into it and half way through getting to know a guy they realize “damn, I’m getting horny.” Of course they’ll have sex and orgasm and still think that the guy was unattractive. No, really, I just don’t get that. ”
if that’s true you know some very wierd people. That seems like completley bizzare behaviour that I’ve never heard about before.
“No I don’t think that, but it’s the one thing that most people are most insecure about. And I mean that in both ways – it’s both hardest to reject someone on physical appearance alone as well as to accept rejection without thinking it has something to do with appearance.”
But my point was that you were saying that when someone says “there’s no chemistry” what they really mean is “I think you’re ugly”. What it really means is “I don’t feel sexually attracted to you/don’t feel a desire to have sex with you”. These are very different things, though I guess some people may consider “ugly” to mean “not sexually desirable to me”.
“The instructions say that if I do A and B, C will happen, but instead D is happening!”
The thing is though, I think this *does* show entitlement on some level, someone who says this thinks that being nice and being there for someone automatically means they should want to sleep with them/go out with them. I think this is partly because of the “men and women can never truly be just friends” trope, so a guy ends up acting in a way that would be considered “friendly” to most people thinking that it will inevitably lead to sex. I think the stories we are told since we’re children emphasises this as well, with the gallant knight/prince killing the dragon or engaging in whatever tasks he has to overcome, then recieveing the prize of marrying the princess. The knight/prince in question is entitled to be with the woman because of his actions, but you never have the woman in these stories turning round and saying “actually I don’t really fancy you”.
I guess for most people who would object to this behaviour from people think that this is completley obvious and doesn’t need explaining, though saying “just because you slayed the dragon doesn’t mean you’re entitled to the princess’ hand” is still pretty accurate.
“Maybe call that person a “decent human being” instead?”
@Andie: “I tend to differentiate by calling these ‘decent’ guys or ‘small-n nice guys’”
No. There is nothing wrong being nice. And it is sick as fuck to reclaim an obvious compliment to be an insult. No, nice guys often have no trouble establishing relationships. Maybe only the 1st category of people in Ozys post would actually think of themselves as “nice guys”. WTF? How on earth your generic PUA would fit to Niceguyism? Pretty much every school of seduction is about killing off the mr. Nice guy! Those are _not_ nice guys! And they make considerable effort to not be one. Neither is the misogynistic internet troll. If he was a nice guy, he would not act like an asshole.
The nice guys are the ones who treat you with respect and consideration. Often they have issues forming relationships as well. When they drop the respect and consideration, they are no longer nice guys. And in 9/10, the people know it themselves. And it’s just mean and counterproductive for anyone really wishing to advocate for fair and equal treatment to start shaming niceness.
In the real world, a person says “he’s such a nice guy…”, it means the guy is actually nice and treats people with respect. Sure, some people get illusioned. It’s not a good excuse us to shame and pick on the good ones as some kind of schrodingers psychopaths.
“In the real world, a person says “he’s such a nice guy…”, it means the guy is actually nice and treats people with respect. Sure, some people get illusioned. It’s not a good excuse us to shame and pick on the good ones as some kind of schrodingers psychopaths.”
But in the internet world guys often say “I’m a nice guy” while exhibiting the kind of behaviour described in the OP, which is why the term is used (sarcastically, with the TM) to refer to that particular kind of person.
Okay, you don’t really mean succeeding in being nice, you mean having their behaviour interpreted as nice. I know this, because I lack social skills and my sister interprets for me quite a bit. For example, she tells me I need to smile all day for people to not automatically think I’m pissed off and I can’t just say yes if I mean yes, I have to say “yes, that’s great, no problem” or people will think I mean “I’ll do it but I won’t be happy about it.”
I don’t really think it’s fair to lump in people with poor social skills with “Nice Guys” simply because they aren’t good at getting their intentions across. That’s got nothing to do with the way we think about relationships; it’s a communication breakdown.
I don’t see how being frustrated that the formula you were enculturated into doesn’t work is the same as being entitled, or at least not entitled in the same sense as the word is being used in the context of the Nice Guy discussion. If you want to use entitled as synonymous with “reasonably expected output based on given input”, then I guess you could say these guys are entitled, but that’s not how I’ve ever seen the people engaged in this discussion (anywhere) use it. Within this discussion entitled is normally of the “I’m a spoiled rich kid and my daddy better get me a boat for my birthday because I want one… because he better!” variety.
The distinction seems important to me because I don’t see how any person can find fault with the first type of “entitlement”, and the two groups of people talking past each other is causing the discussion to go nowhere. Nice Guys are saying, “I want (a) romantic and/or sexual relationship(s), yet the characteristics and mannerisms I was told I’d need to embody and make my own to be considered a suitable partner for those types of relationships are failing me. This is frustrating, and the frustration is compounded by seeing sexual and romantic rivals, who ostensibly shirk everything I was told was proper etiquette, succeed where I’ve failed.” Of course, they’re not saying it in such an exact manner because they’re regular people who use language as regular people do, and so (many) feminists read their words as, “I’m not hitting this girl or anything, and I’m being totally nice (but secretly I’m an emotionally manipulative bastard, tee-hee), so why won’t this dumb bitch realize she’s my property as the implicit, ironclad contract we sign by being born states?” This leads them to attack the Nice Guys for a sentiment they didn’t hold, at a moment when they’re already frustrated, which then devolves into more uselessness from both sides. If, after the first expression of frustration by the Nice Guy camp, those listening made very clear the Nice Guy’s input values were incorrect (and provided suggestions for more correct values), then things would probably move forward more productively.
Could you clarify a bit which part of that post, specifically, is your counterexample? I think I know, but I’d like to make sure before I respond.
@AB, yeah, I don’t mean to imply that the ones in Category 2 are entirely outstanding individuals; if they didn’t have some fucked-up sense of entitlement, they wouldn’t qualify as capital N Nice Guys at all. They’re usually jerks of a slightly lesser caliber than Category 1, is all.
@Ella: No, “succeeding in being nice” is accurate, because “nice” is a descriptor of how you treat other people, not of your intentions. Good intentions are a fine start, but they only go so far on their own. People can still be hurt regardless of whether or not you mean to hurt them, and as a general rule that’s your responsibility, not theirs. I say this as someone who is medium-bad at social skills myself; realizing this was an important development for me. Now this doesn’t mean everyone with poor social skills is a Nice Guy, but there are plenty of people with poor social skills who think things like “well, I meant well, that’s really all that matters,” and that’s basically expressing the same kind of sense of entitlement.
Could you clarify a bit which part of that post, specifically, is your counterexample? I think I know, but I’d like to make sure before I respond.
That would be a feminist “coming forward with the exact same issues as the stereotypical Nice Guy”, which was the specific scenario you were hypothesizing about. You predicted an outcome wherein feminists would “label the specific man in the Nice Girl’s life as a user on some level” and that quite specifically has not been part of the conversation from Ozy or any of the other avowed feminists in this conversation. Thus, with respect, you might want to adjust your conceptual model, because the current one evidently has limited predictive value.
That would be a feminist “coming forward with the exact same issues as the stereotypical Nice Guy”, which was the specific scenario you were hypothesizing about. You predicted an outcome wherein feminists would “label the specific man in the Nice Girl’s life as a user on some level” and that quite specifically has not been part of the conversation from Ozy or any of the other avowed feminists in this conversation. Thus, with respect, you might want to adjust your conceptual model, because the current one evidently has limited predictive value.
Nah the model just doesn’t work here and as far I’ve been able to tell the folks that hang around here aren’t exactly the dominate voices in feminism (but damn I wish you folks were sometimes….). The thing is I think Parker’s point may have some relavence but not in the way they present it. I don’t think it would be a matter of feminists trying to “label the specific man in the Nice Girl’s life as a user on some level” but rather that a lot of feminists don’t seem to want to talk about Nice Girls. or at least not in the same tone as they talk about Nice Guys…
(And speaking of Girl/Guy I’m really surprised no one has made a fuss about using girl/guy in the naming in regards to a term for a young female being interchanged with a term for a male of any age.)
A) Within my first post I specified a type of feminist I was talking about. Ozy (and probably any feminist who posts on this blog regularly) are not part of that group.
B) From her post it doesn’t seem so much like she conformed to the stereotypical Nice Guy role. She passively pined for her crushes, sure, but that fits within the conventional female role, no? One of the sexist aspects of the Nice Guy mythology is how they’re looked down upon for using what is a rather female approach to dating. People who actually are female seem as if they would be inherently excluded from being able to claim that as proof of being a Nice Girl. Furthermore, her one recount of being used for emotional support seems less like the stereotypical one-on-one support Nice Guys provide for their desired partners, and more like she was hanging out with a group of people and, as the group was mostly male, heard them talking about girls. There is a world of difference between the two scenarios.
@Wolf, AB, and chrislittlesun,
I’d like you to read what I wrote on the Part One thread. Is the attitude I describe also entitlement? Or is it somehow different? If so, I’d be curious as to hear the reasoning why.
You know, I don’t really see where we disagree, at least, I don’t see where I couldn’t fit your personal examples into what I have been saying.
But you see, later on you said this:
So there is a reason, after all. You just weren’t aware of this at first. I’m not saying it was your fault, but you did seem to deny your own sexuality as a driving force behind your actions. This is what a lot of the Nice Guys seem to be doing as well.
Well it does happen the way you describe, too, although the guy may not see it the way you do. If he is denying his own sexuality, something is working against him, just at a different level than you yourself doing all of the grunt work. It could still be you, partly… you could have given him the idea that you wont react well to overt sexuality so he’s avoiding it like the plague. That’s just hypothetically speaking, I mean. I have encountered girls who seem to build up this wall of asexuality around themselves in what seems to be a gambit designed to throw everyone off track. I don’t always have a way of knowing what it is they’re thinking to themselves behind that wall – perhaps, why isn’t this guy asking them out? But the interesting thing is that I mentioned that it’s downright inconceivable to me that a woman who found herself in a Friend Zone relationship is unaware of it. You seem to be well enough aware of what’s going on so that we could use your story as an example of what I was talking about.
Drop the dating script and bring it up yourself. Right now, you may not feel that you are asking anything from him that he wouldn’t do for a friend, but he may not be seeing it that way. So it’s possibly not a good place for you to be in. Ultimately, getting out of the predicament is up to you, whether or not he wants to broach the issue himself.
If Ozy is representative of feminists, then the FC bloggers are representative of masculists, “MRA’s”, or what have you. Any generalization made of the latter must, therefore, be applicable to those guys specifically.
@pocketjacks: Well, uh…yes, that’s entitled. If you think “I have acted according to the formula, therefore I deserve sex and the people not offering sex are committing an injustice,” that is an unjustified sense of entitlement. (The “therefore injustice” part is important; if you’re just thinking “I acted according to the formula and it’s not working, I am confused and upset that I was sold false beliefs about how these things work” that’s different.) It’s understandable that some people end up with this kind of sense of entitlement, and often not entirely their fault. But you could say the same thing about the spoiled rich kid who grows up being taught that it’s an injustice if they don’t get what they want for their birthday.
It’s very late where I am, so it’s entirely possible I’m not getting something about the distinction you’re trying to draw.
Yes you have: Nice Guys(TM). And Cactuar just gave us an example of it going the other way, where she tried to have a relationship with someone only to realize later on that she wasn’t attracted to them. What’s so unusual about people who don’t have a handle on their own sexuality? I think that’s pretty common.
Which is why it’s important to say you’re not interested instead of beating around the bush with vague phrases. Although to be perfectly honest with you I can’t understand the difference.. There definitely isn’t for me, not in my sexuality. If you were sexually attracted to money, let’s say, then that’s a weird kink to me but I wouldn’t want to deny you that. I can find someone unattractive for numerous reasons, but if it’s strictly for sexual reasons then it probably has a lot to do with their physical beauty.
I think you’re confusing pocketjacks with me. I never said “therefore injustice” was part of the thinking though, so I think we’re on the same page.
The rich kid wants things because he thinks he deserves them by his simply existing. The Nice Guy is frustrated that the role he’s been enculturated into and has spent his energies working with is a dud. These roles have been nailed into him for so long that changing isn’t as easy as just picking up a new manual. In fact, it probably takes a while before the Nice Guy has the perspective to even realize that it’s his entire paradigm that needs shifting, which I imagine adds to the frustration (especially since his first reaction to failure is probably going to be to double down on what he still thinks is the correct course of action, which is going to lead to even more stress for everyone involved).
@chrislittlesun, in re: fairy tales: When I discovered the story of Tam Lin as an adult, I felt cheated for not having heard it sooner. Not only does the woman do the saving, but they actually have a chance to get to know each other (and presumably, fall in love–I can’t imagine clinging to a guy who’s changing into horrible things if I don’t already have feelings for him) BEFORE the whole danger/rescue scenario.
Unlike other fairy tales, it didn’t imply that you had to rescue or be rescued to earn romantic love. It didn’t make women look like powerless pawns to be married off at men’s whims. And it was more analogous to the way real relationships happen–you fall in love, and then that love is challenged in some way. (It was also made into a kickass S.J.Tucker song, but that’s beside the point.)
@Park S.: But there’s a huge difference between being viewed as a suitable partner and actually getting laid. Nice Guys don’t think of it as “this behavior will make me a suitable boyfriend* and give me a chance at sex/romance,” they think of it as “If I treat a girl in this manner, she is obligated to fuck me.” That’s why it’s called entitlement–they think that the girl’s feelings don’t matter, that if they obey the script, then whatever girl they choose to use the script on MUST fuck them, regardless of her own feelings and desires, or she is a frigid bitch unworthy of the title of “Woman.” Surely you see the difference between that and what you typed about.
* Yes, I know that Nice Guys come in all genders and orientations. Using hetero cismales as an example, simply because they are the most common Nice Guys out there.
@Danny: I am biologically female. I rather like having girly bits. I have absolutely no problem with being called a “guy.” The only possible reason I can think of to find it offensive is because the slang term originated from the name of Guy Fawkes, who was caught attempting to commit an act of terrorism.
I want to say how much I appreciate Cactuar’s input here – she is echoing something that many (but not ALL) women I have spoken to seem to understand – that somehow a man can become sexually neutered to them in a way that men I know don’t seem to encounter. There is actually another female contributor here that mentioned the same thing to me a few weeks ago.
Secondly, I want to point out that I have never been taken advantage of in the “friend zone” the way dungone has mentioned above. Although I unfortunately went out of my way for those women – it was always of my own volition, and in hindsight, those girls probably would’ve rather had me not do those things.
Lastly, I’ve made a big deal in the above posts about “physical/emotional” attraction – but the reality is that for me they are very, very closely related. In other words, you could be 250 lbs, have acne and frizzy hair – but also be a caring, charismatic person with charm, and I’d probably still want to sex ya.
On the other hand, you could look like Christina Hendricks and have the personality of Paris Hilton and I probably couldn’t get it up – even if I was being paid.
My wife and I are both like this – a person’s looks is only like the decor and graphic design on the menu at a restaurant. If the food and service suck, we won’t be ordering second courses.
My point was, that it’s very easy to claim in the abstract that you oppose female entitlement too. It’s another to actually hunker down on specific examples and specific complaints, lifted out of the mouths of real women the kind of complaints you can hear every day, and *then* state an equal opposition to it. That takes actual consistency. This isn’t limited to just feminists or just this topic, also. So many people can agree with something their opponents say in principle, but never when confronted with real life examples. That makes them no better than the caricatured true believers on either side.
Because of that, I’m a little bit disappointed that you didn’t reference the actual attitude I was talking about, merely continuing to talk about it in general terms. (You keep talking about gender neutral “formulas” but don’t actually say the words “Strong, Independent Women”, nor the specific entitled attitudes they can espouse. As I said, it’s easy to be even-handed in general terms but not specific.) It’s great that you started by saying it’s entitled, too, and maybe I’m just being a bit too picky – it’s also getting late where I am. Or, not really, but it’s kind of late and I’m also very tired.
You also switch to talking about deserving “sex” specifically whereas before you just called it “dating”, and are adding new caveats such that the condemnation of “entitlement” doesn’t have to apply, whereas right before you were coming off with a more “oh, make no mistake, damn them all” sort of vibe. I think you want to be consistent but I’m also sensing some rhetorical re-positioning.
Public Service Announcement:
“Tired, drunk or on pain medication is no way to go commenting on internet blogs, son.”
Just wanted to throw that out there.
I’m assuming that was aimed at me? Don’t you think it’d be more productive to respond to a post you have an issue with, rather than vaguely insult the poster? I don’t feel I’ve acted in any way that warrants such backhanded belittling.
No, that was directed at me. Two of those three apply to me right now, haha. And that’s enough for me tonight, nighty-night.
LOL, no I’m not trying to call out anyone, honest. I thought I had just seen the third post in the past few hours where someone said “Maybe it’s just that I’m Tired/Drunk/on-Pain-Meds but …”
And trust me, if I disagree with you, I’ll let you know in a polite, respectful way.
You know … cause … I’m … a … nice. guy. 😛
Whoa, whoa whoa! I’m not saying that it’s impossible that there are Nice Guys our there who think that – but – Really? Maybe I’m wearing rose-colored glasses, but I don’t think that is a *common* way of Nice Guy thinking. I know I never, ever felt that way.
What I felt more like was a waiter or waitress who had given extremely good service, gotten their order right, re-filled their drinks quickly and made sure their food was brought out promptly – only to find a meager 5% tip. I dunno if it’s entitlement, it’s certainly not a simple input=output mathmatical formula, but you certainly expect to be rewarded in some way, right?
Also, it’s a nitpick, but I don’t think that it’s “I did this for her, therefore she should fuck me/date me.” I think it’s more like “I did this for her, therefore she should want to fuck me/date me.” If she doesn’t want to – then why the hell not? “I know if some woman treated me like that, I’d want to be with them.”
I don’t think this way anymore, of course, but I think there’s a difference between what you “deserve” and “would be an appropriate way of showing thanks” like bringing a house-gift when someone has you over for dinner or returning someone’s car full of gas after borrowing it for a day. Does that make any sense?
Haha, alright. My apologies for the misunderstanding.
As has already been said multiple times, this is actually a form of entitlement. I spent a good deal of my youth thinking boys weren’t into me (turns out some of them were, but I wasn’t very good at either approaching or making myself approachable, and unlike what guys here seem to think, it’s quite possible for girls to be overlooked if they don’t make the right efforts), and one thought that never, ever crossed my mind was “I’m a way better catch/way more deserving than the other girls are”.
I always knew that I was inferior, that the girls who got the most attention from boys must have something I didn’t. It never occurred to me to believe that I knew all the buttons to push, and that it somehow broke the laws of nature when the buttons I pushed didn’t give me the result I expected. I just figured I had pushed the wrong buttons, or failed to push them in the right way. Or mostly, that I just wasn’t pretty enough.
So from my POW, it must be a sign of a huge amount of self-love (or self-absorption) if what you take from your own romantic failure is “There are objective criteria for what is attractive. I fulfil all of them. When someone prefers other people than me, it must be because there’s something wrong with them, or at the very least, that the world doesn’t make sense”. It’s one thing to admit you don’t know what you do wrong or why people aren’t attracted to you, it’s something completely different to conclude that you’re attractive (even though no one is attracted to you), and that people’s failure to be attracted to you is as objectively illogical as 2+2=3.
As it has been pointed out, Ozy herself has had many of the problems faced by typical Nice Guys(TM), and she blames herself. But more importantly, do you realise the irony? The number one complaint from Nice Guys(TM) is that women are only attracted to jerks who treat them badly, but at the same time, they complain about how badly they’re treated by the women they’re attracted to, the ones you want to us label as users.
This is a really entitled, hypocritical, and unsympathetic attitude. “When I’m attracted to a woman who treats me badly, I’m the victim because I’m getting hurt by that woman. And when a woman is attracted to a man who treats her badly, I’m the victim because I don’t get to have sex with that woman”. Why do you think so many women hate Nice Guys(TM)? It’s because they have no problem blaming women (often collectively) for everything they failed to do for them, but whenever women are treated badly by men, they twist it around to imply they (the women) were asking for it.
This is an interesting sentiment from someone who accuses feminists of always looking for the worst possible meaning behind anything a man says or does. If a man starts doing favours for a woman, it couldn’t possibly be because he just likes being helpful, or because he thinks she’s a wonderful person who deserves every one of those favours. No, he must be expecting something in return, and that something must be sex. Women might act out of the goodness of their heart or an honest admiration/appreciation for the person they befriend (I know I have), but we should always expect an ulterior motive where men are concerned.
I don’t know if you realise this, but (barring the slight chance that he’s a serial killer looking for his next victim) in the eyes of many women, believing that a man who express fondness for a woman only does so because he believes that doing so makes him entitled sex with her is looking for the worst possible interpretation of his actions. And you’re not just encouraging it, you’re saying that it’s downright amoral to not expect this ulterior motive from a guy.
Actually, I’ve never heard anyone declare that they’re flat out superior to someone else and thus more deserving of that person’s lover, and be met with a positive reaction for it. Again, look at Ozy’s first post on the subject.
Sorry, but if your approach to love is to believe a set of simplified instructions can give you the exact same reaction regardless of which person you use it on, you’re already way beyond simple confusion and so far into mindless stereotyping that it’s no wonder you fail to grasp the basics of human interaction. But more importantly, it’s not asking questions that’s the problem, it’s believing you have the answer. Especially if the answer is something as stupid as “People of a certain sex all like jerks who treat them like badly”, which it usually is.
I couldn’t find the lyrics online, but compare the common attitude of Nice Guys(TM) with this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jua1OwLQgrU
Especially “How did she get into the arms where I belong? What is she doing right, that I was doing wrong? What do you see in her, that you didn’t see in me?”
It’s heavy on the self-pity, and I wouldn’t recommend this attitude as a lifestyle, but for all that, at least the singer asks why she didn’t get the man she thinks she belongs with, instead of claiming that she knows. She’s open to the possibility that it’s not some defect on his part, unlike the way Nice Guys(TM) are quick to point to women’s lack of attraction to them as some sort of logical failure, and she frames the questions in terms of what she lacks, instead of assuming it’s some positive quality (like niceness) which she possesses that he can’t appreciate.
OP: “By “behaving in a typically Nice Guy™ way” I mean not asking people out, befriending people and then expecting romantic relationships to happen by magic, “
I think this is a vicious slur. In plain experience, the dread “Nice Guy TM” label is often applied to guys who do, in fact, go through a lot of effort to ask people out and don’t expect things to happen by magic. This whole post and a large majority of the thread that follows, in fact, seems dedicated to defending the “protected conclusion” that, if a man ever complains about his lack of success, that always, with 100% certainty, indicates that he has a disabling problem or shortcoming of some sort: he doesn’t take the initiative, he has poor hygiene, his entitled attitude is off-putting (yeah, same went for Warren Beatty, I’m sure), etc. etc. There’s always some way to turn the blame back on the man, even if it means resorting to pure, base speculation; the imperative is to protect the conclusions, that women as a group are not at fault, women as a group are not hypocritical about what attracts them, women as a group are not rejecting of genuine niceness as a thing in itself.
Alexander: “What’s the point of this taxonomy? All I see is contempt here.”
I agree completely. This post, and most of the thread, are pure female supremacy, and it’s acutely embarrassing to have them appear under a “we care about men” banner. Really, we already have one Pandagon in the world; how many more do we need?
The binary is “I am attracted to this person” and “I am not attracted to this person”, synonym of the second: “This person is unattractive to ME”.
I am not attracted to most people, regardless of them being models or ‘fun’ people. Compatibility is pretty small. Maybe 10-20% of the people I meet COULD be compatible. And then, off that small sample, I have to be attracted too. And they have to be attracted back. That gives me odds similar to meeting Martians apparently.
Whoa, whoa, slow your roll there Jack. As an overall note, you seem to be trying to make my post out as a personal thing, rather than the intellectual exercise it is. I’m neither a Nice Guy, nor do I endorse how people like that go about dating (I thought that was pretty clear).
“So from my POW, it must be a sign of a huge amount of self-love (or self-absorption) if what you take from your own romantic failure is “There are objective criteria for what is attractive. I fulfil all of them. When someone prefers other people than me, it must be because there’s something wrong with them, or at the very least, that the world doesn’t make sense”.”
How did you get this from what I wrote? My whole point is that the Nice Guy’s frustration stems from the realization that his enculturated dating paradigm doesn’t work, rather than entitlement. He doesn’t think he’s perfect, or even close to it. He realizes something is very wrong and is now lost as to how to move forward.
“and that people’s failure to be attracted to you is as objectively illogical as 2+2=3.”
“Sorry, but if your approach to love is to believe a set of simplified instructions can give you the exact same reaction regardless of which person you use it on, you’re already way beyond simple confusion and so far into mindless stereotyping that it’s no wonder you fail to grasp the basics of human interaction.”
““When I’m attracted to a woman who treats me badly, I’m the victim because I’m getting hurt by that woman. And when a woman is attracted to a man who treats her badly, I’m the victim because I don’t get to have sex with that woman”.”
Again, I’m in total agreement that the stereotypical Nice Guy method of dating is a poor one. I was arguing that they’re not entitled jerks, but rather just frustrated that the ideas they’ve absorbed up until such a point as they fall into the marked relationship dynamic with their desired person were completely wrong. I further pointed out that a positive step would be, instead of shaming, suggestions as to a better set of behaviors with which to interact with women. I have just as much sympathy for women who fall into abusive relationship patterns (if that is indeed what they’re falling into – the friend-zoned Nice Guy is likely to hear only about a woman’s boyfriend when he’s being a jerk, giving him a biased view of the guy).
“If a man starts doing favours for a woman, it couldn’t possibly be because he just likes being helpful, or because he thinks she’s a wonderful person who deserves every one of those favours. No, he must be expecting something in return, and that something must be sex.”
Maybe you should re-read the part where I specifically included relationships where sex was, by definition of the respective party’s sexual orientations, not a possibility. With very few exceptions (parents up until a child is considered an adult would be about it), any relationship where there is too much give going in one direction is a poor one (relationships include platonic friendships in addition to romantic and sexual relationships). I also never said anything about sex specifically. However a relationship is leveled is truly none of my business, but if it’s not leveled somehow it’s going to be ultimately damaging to the sapped party.
“Actually, I’ve never heard anyone declare that they’re flat out superior to someone else and thus more deserving of that person’s lover, and be met with a positive reaction for it.”
Really? If a friend told you they were crushing on a guy who had an emotionally cold girlfriend who was taking advantage of him, and that they just wished he would see what she was doing to him and that your friend and the guy would be so much happier together, you wouldn’t agree?
I’m not trying to be condescending, but you misrepresented so much of what I said that I can’t help but suggest that it might be helpful if you’d take just a little more time to read the posts you respond to. Between your post and this post I’m writing right now, we’re now back at square one, having spent so many words to make exactly zero progress.
It’s funny, because I try to deflect attention by actually NOT smiling all day. I’ve never been conditioned to smile all day, but not smiling and looking purposeful (ie busy) is how I avoid being talked to by strangers. This is how I avoid triggering my social anxiety.
I (and many medias here at least) use ‘girl’ for a female of any age. I use it for myself. I use it for my mom (she’s 53). If I don’t know the person, I will be more polite and reserved, though I NEVER say Mister or Madam anyway. It’s easy to avoid using any pronouns even. Just omit the pronoun or always use 2nd person sentences.
This only works when you’re discussing with one person one-on-one, and not necessarily about another person. If I’m talking to multiple people, I’ll use 2nd person plural. And I won’t make unnecessary sex distinctions like saying “hello, boys and girls”, probably ever. I’d rather say “hello, humans”. In practice, I’ll just say hello in their direction. I bet they’ll understand.
My problem with the Nice-Guy-script, is that it can be applied to you merely on other people’s perception and interpretation of what you do, and delusions that they can read your mind about what you’re up to. Which may or may not have the slightest connection to your actual intentions. And it comes down to a circle argument too. Because any show of feelings of distress or disappointment about being (mis)judged on a whim (and unfounded and unexpectedly being labelled an asshole and/or a creep), is taken as evidence that the judgement was a correct one in the first place.
Example: I, in my early 20′, had a very close girl friend who had a really bad breakup with her BF, destroyed property, being cheated on, the full works. She really hit an emotional rock bottom and I hated to see her like that. So to show her that there were people in the world who cared about her, I organized a party for her, threw a full night out, all expenses paid, with me and a couple of friends whom she knew from before.
Well, it backfired, quite spectacularly! A little later she told me that she didn’t want to hang out with me anymore. Because she couldn’t believe that being so kind and generous to her that I’d been, was impossible unless there was a creepy under-the-surface romantic interest from my side.
And of course I was dumbfounded, speechless and most of all sad. I think I was mostly “What…do…you…mean…you…can’t…be…serious?” and some other things out of sheer confusion and frustration, which probably were interpreted as textbook Nice-Guy behaviour after being called on it, only confirming that she made the right decision.
And it’s not the only time similar things have happened.
@elementary_watson: “@Fingenieur: Just to be clear, I guess you omitted “but still has difficulties getting laid/getting a relationship”?”
No. A persons sex life and whether he’s content with it should have nothing to do how we value their kindness. Generalizing people by their sex-lives is *objectifying* as hell. The only thing even remotely connectable to niceness is the first definition in the post. Even there the conclusions are wrong. A nice guy can be genuinely nice though having problems in his life. With sex or other stuff.
The cultural dating paradigm doesn’t work because it presents women as rewards for men’s behaviour. Once you get over that, it’s really quite simple: Everybody who thinks that just intending to be nice enough to be likeable is wrong, and so are everybody who think that niceness by itself is enough to be sexually attractive.
It’s really not that hard to figure out. If you’re nice but aren’t considered attractive, it’s either because you lack something else besides niceness (and since most Nice Guys are attracted to girls based on some other quality than niceness, they already have the tools to figure that one out), or you’re not doing a very good job of being nice.
I’m curious about what kind of ideas that is. Because most of the time, all I hear, from everybody, is “Women don’t like nice guys, they only like bad boys”. And while it’s true that Nice Guys have absorbed that message to the fullest (that’s a big reason they’re Nice Guys after all), I don’t see them realising that those ideas are wrong, ever. They just keep going “Women must not like me because I’m so nice, it’s unfair that I don’t get sex out of being nice”, which, apart from not being nice at all, seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Part of growing up is getting shamed when you do something hurtful to others. I once pointed at a fat man and commented loudly on his weight. My mother told me I was being very rude and that you weren’t supposed to say something like that. I tried to explain that I’d heard an older girl say the same thing, but my mother wouldn’t hear it, and even when I started crying she let me know that I’d made her sad and ashamed. I got over it, and I didn’t make those kinds of comments again.
When people act like many Nice Guys do, treating them like victims only makes it worse. They usually identify as Nice Guys out of self-pity to begin with, and telling them that it’s all culture’s fault for giving them the wrong ideas and strengthening their delusion that pro-social behaviour will keep them from being sexually successful will just turn them into the stereotypical “Women didn’t reward me for being nice, so now I don’t care about them” former Nice Guys.
But in these cases, it’s often a matter of choosing sides. Because you can’t really tell someone “I sympathise with what you went through with your abusive boyfriend, but I also think that the guy who pretended to be your friend and then started writing nasty internet columns about you when he finally realised you weren’t in love with him has a point too. I mean, normally I wouldn’t blame someone for staying with an abusive partner because I acknowledge the psychological mechanisms that are often in play, but when someone else is in love with you, that changes everything, and you really should have taken some responsibility for it by somehow realising what went on earlier”, and still count yourself as being sympathetic towards them. It just doesn’t work that way.
The problem is that deciding how giving is too much can be very difficult, and it’s really not unusual for people to have such low self-esteem (or so little understanding of other people) that they don’t actually know why half their friends even bother to be friends with them, just like other people will vastly overestimate what they bring to the friendship (or in the case of Nice Guys, overestimate their own saintliness).
It’s also really not that unusual for people to be there for each other in times of need, giving more than they receive. I’ve had friends with depressions who couldn’t give to me half of what I gave to them, and on the other hand, I’ve also relied a lot on other people’s support when times were tough for me. If someone choose to stand by me during a troubled relationship, I’m not going to push them away because I distrust their ability to decide for themselves how much support they’re ready to give, let alone suspect them of only doing it to heap some kind of reward.
I would lose a pretty big amount of respect for them if they didn’t at least acknowledge that their own interest in the guy could make them biased, and that a guy who’s attracted to someone who was emotionally could exploitative was probably not the best guy to be crushing on to begin with.
And all of that is beside the point, because the Nice Guy concept isn’t about being in love with this one girl, who likes this one abusive boyfriend, and realising that this is one just individual situation. It’s about subscribing to an overall idea that women, in general, prefer assholes, and that guys who’re kind and selfless, in general, are rejected and taken advantage of by girls.
@Uncalledfor: “I think this is a vicious slur. In plain experience, the dread “Nice Guy TM” label is often applied to guys who do, in fact, go through a lot of effort to ask people out and don’t expect things to happen by magic. This whole post and a large majority of the thread that follows, in fact, seems dedicated to defending the “protected conclusion” that, if a man ever complains about his lack of success, that always, with 100% certainty, indicates that he has a disabling problem or shortcoming of some sort: he doesn’t take the initiative, he has poor hygiene, his entitled attitude is off-putting (yeah, same went for Warren Beatty, I’m sure), etc. etc. There’s always some way to turn the blame back on the man, even if it means resorting to pure, base speculation; the imperative is to protect the conclusions, that women as a group are not at fault, women as a group are not hypocritical about what attracts them, women as a group are not rejecting of genuine niceness as a thing in itself.”
I think this is a load of rubbish. I would consider myself a nice guy (no capital or TM), and I am also someone who has had little succsess with dating/relationships. The difference is that while a Nice Guy TM will think that they must be doing everything right and therefore it’s that b!tch of a woman who’s at fault for not seeing how amazing he is and going with jerks instead, I’m well aware of the fact that the problem lies with me, my lack of confidence when it comes to chatting people up and my complete inability to flirt or pick up other’s flirting signals. These are things I’m working on.
Generally if someone consistantly has bad luck with dating, as with many other things, the problem at least partly must lie with their own behaviour. It’s much easier to change yourself than to change other people, even if that’s directing your attention towoards a different kind of person or trying things in a different environment. I once heard that the definition of a lunatic is someone who does the same thing and expects to get different results, something people who exhibit this kind of Nice Guy TM behaviour should take to heart.
“@chrislittlesun, in re: fairy tales: When I discovered the story of Tam Lin as an adult, I felt cheated for not having heard it sooner. Not only does the woman do the saving, but they actually have a chance to get to know each other (and presumably, fall in love–I can’t imagine clinging to a guy who’s changing into horrible things if I don’t already have feelings for him) BEFORE the whole danger/rescue scenario.”
That sounds like an interesting story, I’ll have to look it up!
I do wonder if maybe “dragon slayer” would be a good alternative phrase to “Nice GuyTM” for those who don’t like it? ie, someone who feels like they are entitled to the object of their affections because they feel they’ve done everything they are supposed to and they are their prize?
So I guess your advice might be that they should all study PUA stuff, even for long term relationship meetings, because then they’d be trying something that works to an extent. Faking confidence works to a point where you don’t have to fake it afterwards. And for many, if it’s a trade-off between being socially awkward but genuine vs having a sexual or romantic life and being a mask, then being a mask is worth the cost (I personally disagree with that, I would have died before changing the basis for who I was…probably before my mid-20s).
See, I would have died for my principles. Some would call it stupid. I would have called it deliverance from hell.
@AB: I don’t want to dogpile, you don’t have to respond to me if you can’t be bothered, but …
Um, isn’t that kind of the whole POINT of this blog and masculism in general? Identifying the way our culture creates pain and suffering in men and the way it can cause men to inflict pain and suffering on those around them?
You know, it’s the patriarchy that says only men are the ones capable of doing things – men act, women are acted upon.
Cause gender is mostly a social construct, right? Then either “Nice Guys” are a creation of our culture or it’s something instinctual evo-psychy.
Nice Guys are not Uruk-hai – evil birthed from the earth itself.
I mostly agree with your response to Park S. – I meant to say that in my comment. I don’t want to sound like I’ve discovered some chink in your armor that negates your whole argument – I just wanted to explore it more.
“So I guess your advice might be that they should all study PUA stuff, even for long term relationship meetings, because then they’d be trying something that works to an extent.”
I was talking to a friend of mine about flirting recently, he’s a very sucsessful flirter and has many lovers (he also does tantric BDSM workshops). He joked that maybe he should do a flirting workshop, but said he wouldn’t know how to teach it. He said that it just comes easily to him. It seems to me that the key to being sucsessful with flirting and sex is to genuinley believe that people will be interested in what you have to offer (and also to not take rejection of your advances as a crushing blow). If you don’t believe it’s possible that people could see you in a sexual light then you’re not going to be able to see the signals either way unless they’re an outright yes/no. My friend however is not conventionally attractive and quite a big guy, but because he’s confident in his sexuality people respond to that.
I guess it’s that old cliche of having to love yourself before anyone else can love you.
Catching up with the thread, guys.
This is true only if you think social plane is dictated ONLY by sexual opprotunities. I only have to think about all the times I’ve been shut down by a group of friends, or dismissed by them or talked over, when my male friend is much more likely to be listened to and respected about the same exact topics to know that this isn’t true.
Actually, I have huge problems with the rest of the comment as well.
People are responsible for themselves and their own self-reflection. While everyone should always do their best to treat people well — especially the people they have sex with — it is no one’s fault if someone becomes bitter and entitled except the bitter and entitled person.
We’ve all had heartbreak, and we’ve all had people be completely shitty to us, and most of us have grasped that not everyone is exactly the same and that no one owes us love and a relationship
See, no. Because if I do this (and I have done this) All I get is an angry “Don’t flatter yourself!” or some variation of denile that any such thing is going on, and I really just don’t want to deal with that.
When I find myself in such a situation, I generally limit my contact with them a lot and rarely ask them for favors.
Then I can see where you’re confused, but I have to tell you that this definitely isn’t the case for everyone.
The other week I was on a date with a perfectly lovely guy. He was an utter sweetheart with a good grasp of boundaries and really, really cute. The thing is, I couldn’t be the least bit sexually attracted to him (and I tried) because we just could not hold an interesting conversation the entire date.
On the flip side, I once went on a date with a guy who I initially wasn’t attracted to physically at ALL, but once we got to a quiet corner of the bar and started talking there was INSTANT chemistry (yes, dungone, I know you hate that word, but I find it really useful).
So yea, some people can be really different.
Jumping into the whole Nice Guy (TM) Debate”:
(I’m focusing on Nice Guys because I think the dynamics of Nice Girls are slightly different, and all of my examples are specific things I’ve seen men do but not women. Feel free to jump in if you think I’m wrong/missing something):
The Defining Characteristic of a Nice Guy (TM) is that they are not actually nice. The phrase was actually coined because people where using the term “nice” to describe themselves when really they were demonstrably not nice people at all, and only did “nice” things to be manipulative. Nice Guys (TM) don’t do nice things for you because they want to be nice, they do nice things for you so that you owe them and hopefully pay that debt in sex or a relationship. (This is, incidentally, what is wrong if the “If I do A and B, C should happen!” School of thought. You’re not doing A and B because you genuinely want to be nice, or to do something kind or right, you’re doing A and B to get C.)
If someone says “Women always wonder “Where are all the nice guys”. Well, ladies, it’s because of you.” They’re not actually nice, and they probably never were.
If someone says “Women are stupid and only go after assholes. Why don’t they want nice guys like me?” They’re not actually nice.
If someone violates a woman’s boundaries (verbally or physically) or pesters her that they should date him because they are just so nice and they’d be horrible and stuck up if they didn’t, they’re not actually nice.
If someone goes on and on about how some girl gave them mixed signals and how she’s a tease if she doesn’t go out with a nice guy like them, they’re not actually nice.
If a guy grumbles about how women are all so stuck up and will only go for Alpha Assholes instead of a nice guy like him, he’s not actually nice.
If a guy say that he has to act like an asshole to get women to pay attention to him, he’s not actually nice.
IF YOU DON’T DO THESE OR SIMILAR THINGS YOU ARE NOT A NICE GUY (TM). Each of these examples have entitlement to a women’s sexual attention because they are so “nice”, usually while saying or doing things that are not nice at all.
Nice Guy (TM) has nothing to do with the awkward guy who has trouble getting dates or sex unless he blames women for not dating or sexing him.
“On the flip side, I once went on a date with a guy who I initially wasn’t attracted to physically at ALL, but once we got to a quiet corner of the bar and started talking there was INSTANT chemistry (yes, dungone, I know you hate that word, but I find it really useful).”
That kind of chemistry is also known as “raport”, so maybe people who have a problem with that phrasing could replace it with that and it would make more sense to them? I guess you could call sexual chemistry “sexual raport” to distinguish it from social raport.
@ Schala – I do the same normally. But I recently got a job with my sister in customer service and now she’s training me to “act like a normal person” for my own good in the future. At least, that’s what she says. I can’t really afford to fly under the radar at work anyway.
Then maybe we need to change the social narrative that says that all men have to offer is their money, or a chance to bask in their social status, not their company, their knowledge, their humor, the aesthetics of their body or the chance to also have sex with them (ie, both give, both receive, not some crap about men only receiving and women only giving).
The social narrative says men start off useless, and can ‘bonify’ over time through achievements, good charisma, or innate good looks. That’s not too conducive to seeing yourself as worth anything, including someone else’s time passed in your company (which, under this culture, can almost be seen as an ordeal to be suffered, rather than good time to be had, for the woman – from the man’s point of view, he’s imposing his unwanted presence).
Sounds like those programs that aim to cure autism, or at least, the behavior of autism, including all stimming, and being forced to make eye contact with people, wether this feels natural, good, or wether this feels forced.
I hate those programs. They don’t aim to help parents deal with their kid. They aim to help parents “have a more normal-appearing kid”.
I say screw that.
I will just not work with the public, ever.
I mean I could, but it just doesn’t really *fit*. Because it’s not just conversation; it translated into a real, physical attraction. I like the word chemistry to describe sexual attraction, so I think I’m just gonna keep using it xD
I had a bottle of wine (from the bottle) last night. For what it’s worth.
I think it’s hard to say where the boundaries lie on that one. I used to always tell myself that it was my personal choice, until things slowly started to add up in a way where I could no longer convince myself that the situation was one of my own making, one where I was in control. It’s hard as a guy to admit to yourself, “I have no agency int his aspect of my life” because we are so conditioned to always accept what happens to us as a consequence of choices we made. But you have to go back further and ask yourself why you were given those choices and not some other choices. Then it starts to look really spooky.
A lot of female readers have come forward to say that they have been put into the “Friend Zone” but you have to really consider the context. I know they are being earnest, but I don’t think they really understand that aspect of what both you and I are talking about, where you as a male, because of your gender role, feel compelled to do stuff for them just because that happens to be a part of the dating process for men. It’s not a part of the dating process for women, not nearly to the same extent. So women tend get really indignant that some Nice Guy got disgruntled after he did all this stuff and it didn’t work… but they don’t get why. They think they’ve been in the same predicament themselves, but they really haven’t. They were someplace that looked the same, but for some magical reason they never felt the need to do anything that they weren’t perfectly happy to do for the guy. Sure, it still hurt their self esteem a little, but not very many women can write down book-length lists of impossible feats that they did for a woman who they were hoping would finally notice them, sometimes even being manipulated into doing those things by women who were all too happy to take advantage. The kinds of experiences in the Friend Zone that you and I are talking about, although different in nature, are still on the opposite end of the spectrum from what the typical female experience in the Friend Zone amounts to.
If a guy grumbles about how women are all so stuck up and will only go for Alpha Assholes instead of a nice guy like him, he’s not actually nice.
Pitch-perfect recitation of the feminist position.
So, Shora, do pray tell: what can a guy actually grumble about, with regards to women’s general dating behavior, and still remain within the realm of “nice” as you define it? Anything? Anything at all?
Let me save you some time and just fill in the answer: nothing. Women’s dating behavior in general can never legitimately be criticized by any man, any where, any time. Any criticism therefore proves that the complaining man is not “nice” and so can be disregarded as so much spoiled trash. Female supremacy, pure and simple; thanks for the textbook illustration, it’s really clarifying.
“Then maybe we need to change the social narrative that says that all men have to offer is their money, or a chance to bask in their social status, not their company, their knowledge, their humor, the aesthetics of their body or the chance to also have sex with them (ie, both give, both receive, not some crap about men only receiving and women only giving).”
It’s interesting that the things you talk about aren’t things that even occured to me when I was talking about this – though I guess that comes from being raised female. When I was talking about “what I/they have to offer” I was talking about your second list. I see what you mean though, and I agree.
I get all indignant when this happens (fortunately rarely) because I didn’t ask you to do that stuff for me. If someone does or offers something nice for me out of the blue, I don’t want to have to look into all of the passive ulterior motives they might have for doing that. Or even if I ask a favor; I ask favors of friends all the time! If they want to give the favor, they do, and if they don’t, they don’t and that’s cool! I don’t need or want someone to bend over backwards for me any time I ask for any small thing.
And yet, sometimes, that’s what I get. I don’t want it, but I get it. And now I have this thing I don’t want and some guy is looking at me expectantly like I should sex him up all over the place in sheer gratitude. The fact that I didn’t even want these things to begin with doesn’t seem to factor in to the assessment that I am taking advantage of their niceness by not sleeping with them. It’s like all of their gifts and favors and emotional support were a trap.
I totally understand that men are socialized to give women stuff or to do stuff for women as a part of the dating game. It’s a shitty socialization that helps no one except women who have no problem taking advantage of other people (and I’ve seen faaar to many of those women). I just don’t see how it could ever be thought to be a good idea to proceed with Dating Behavior with a woman who has not made it explicitly clear that she is receptive to Dating Behavior, and then get all mad when it’s time for dating (or sex) and she doesn’t want that at all.
“Let me save you some time and just fill in the answer: nothing. Women’s dating behavior in general can never legitimately be criticized by any man, any where, any time. Any criticism therefore proves that the complaining man is not “nice” and so can be disregarded as so much spoiled trash. Female supremacy, pure and simple; thanks for the textbook illustration, it’s really clarifying.”
In my opinion, anyone who seriously buys into the whole “alpha male” thing in the first place is not genuinly nice. Anyone who makes sweeping judgements and criticisms about the way people react to them without considering what they are putting out there first is not genuinly nice. And someone who spends their time blaming other people for not sleeping with them is not genuinly nice.
That’s right, I still don’t like it and think it’s a terrible way to communicate. Let me throw something else out at you guys. About why this language is extremely problematic.
Take a look at all of those phrases that women seem to find so useful and break them down into the grammar. Let’s start with the pronouns. They’re always plural, such as we: we have chemistry. It’s talking about both people, not just yourself. Then there are the nouns: chemistry, rapport. These are things that are external to yourself.
So when you tell a guy “sorry, we just don’t have the right chemistry” what you are really doing is invalidating whatever he may have felt. Saying, “we had great chemistry” is also usurping his feelings. These phrases are awful because they reinforce every notion of gender roles that are baked into the mating process. What is chemistry? Well, whatever it is, having it seems to be good. But how do you identify it when you see it? Well, you can’t, not unless you’re an expert in chemistry. And the expert is always the woman. Read the email that Hugh Ristik linked to yesterday and think about why it strikes you as so preposterous. I mean here was a guy who was telling a girl that they had a good time on the date. The guy, telling the girl that the date went really well. Isn’t that outlandish? Somebody should take that guy aside and tell him what his place is.
Saying I am not interested says nothing about the other person, so it’s perfect. Saying I had a really good time once I got to know him is perfect because it leaves room for him to say how he felt. But saying we had rapport has a subtle way of being audacious. “Chemistry” and “clicking” and “good energy” are even worse because not only do they speak for the other person, but they’re completely meaningless. So when some girl tells me that we had good chemistry, I feel like she’s pissing on a tree to mark her territory. It’s right there in the language being used.
I’m married with children. My wife is awesome. My life is awesome. In the relationship department I feel like I’ve already won the grand prize. But to get there I had to learn many things. I learned how not to feel entitled to someone’s affection no matter what I do or don’t do and I learned how not to lead people to believe that they are entitled to my affections.
So from my perspective. If you are finding yourself involved with people you’d rather not be involved with then you certainly do have the power to do something about it. Something more than just telling other people how you’d like them to act. So if you keep attracting and befriending the wrong type of guy or gal then that’s a signal to look inward rather than outward. And, in general it’s easier to change yourself than it is to change others. You (the general you that includes me too) might also find that personal grown is something to embrace rather than fight against.
Well, I guess. I mean, I am a feminist, but we don’t ALL think the same. This kind of thing is generally broad enough to be wildly applicable, though.
Well, actually I would say the problem with this is not so much criti– oh, wait, you’re not actually interested in my actual position and just want to create a StrawShora to bat about for a bit? By all means, do continue.
*mumbles incoherently as if her mouth is full, holds up a finger in a “One Moment” gesture, and spits into a garbage can*
Wow, those sure were a lot of words you put in my mouth! They’re all where they belong now though, so it’s cool.
What I was ACTUALLY going to say was that it’s not so much criticizing women’s general dating habits so much as the fact that in order to do so you must assume that all women are exactly alike. Such an assumption is, of course, sexist. Sexism, as we all know, is Not Nice.
Claiming that women should date you (instead of all those assholes) is entitled. Entitlement is Not Nice. Calling women who don’t date you stuck-up just because they’re not dating you is just straight up douchebag behavior.
Saying things like “I really dislike it when some women expect men to pay for them all the time. That’s really entitled behavior” Is perfectly legitimate because it a) doesn’t assume all women do this, b) doesn’t imply that all women are terrible and stupid and c) does not suggest that women are REQUIRED to act differently just because you don’t like it. You’re simply stating a preference.
(Note: “Women are such stuck up princess bitches because they always expect men to pay for things and whine all the time” is not legitimate. And Not Nice. I don’t really have to explain the difference, do I? Good)
“So from my perspective. If you are finding yourself involved with people you’d rather not be involved with then you certainly do have the power to do something about it. Something more than just telling other people how you’d like them to act. So if you keep attracting and befriending the wrong type of guy or gal then that’s a signal to look inward rather than outward. And, in general it’s easier to change yourself than it is to change others. You (the general you that includes me too) might also find that personal grown is something to embrace rather than fight against.”
“Um, isn’t that kind of the whole POINT of this blog and masculism in general? Identifying the way our culture creates pain and suffering in men and the way it can cause men to inflict pain and suffering on those around them?”
But it isn’t to reinforce it! Once one has acknowledged that culture tells (hetero and cis) boys/men that girls/women are rewards for certain behavior, it defeats the purpose to continually reinforce it if in fact that is the problem rather address what may be the real problem. I find myself surrounded by women that call other women sluts. Whereas I understand they’re absorbing the culture around them I do not say, “well, the culture tells you to so keep doing it.” For her own sake and the sake of the women, you just don’t do that, and it’s the same with the boys and men in this case.
What makes this even more puzzling is that many of the MRA/PUA/anti-feminist types acknowledge how cultural gender roles prevents boys and men from seeking the physical and mental health care they may need. But then they turn around and reinforce it when it comes to Nice Guy™-ism! Ugh.
“So, Shora, do pray tell: what can a guy actually grumble about, with regards to women’s general dating behavior, and still remain within the realm of “nice” as you define it? Anything? Anything at all?
Let me save you some time and just fill in the answer: nothing.”
To begin with, there are problems inherent to any types of generalizations, particularly with false, harmful gender ones that negatively complement each other. I’d like to say, for starters, that doesn’t mean men aren’t allowed to complain and that nobody is saying that but it appears you’re not trying to hear it.
“In my opinion, anyone who seriously buys into the whole “alpha male” thing in the first place is not genuinly nice. Anyone who makes sweeping judgements and criticisms about the way people react to them without considering what they are putting out there first is not genuinly nice. And someone who spends their time blaming other people for not sleeping with them is not genuinly nice.”
If we would judge people by their worst qualities, we wouldn’t have survived for one generation. People have a mix of strengths, opinions, biases and weaknesess.
“If we would judge people by their worst qualities, we wouldn’t have survived for one generation. People have a mix of strengths, opinions, biases and weaknesess.”
I don’t really understand what that has to do with my comment… Elaborate please?
Right! That’s what I think, too. What I can’t wrap my head around is this:
Nice Guys (TM) are a bad thing to have in a society. Not only do they create suffering for the women in their lives, but they, themselves are undoubtedly lonely and sexually frustrated.
So we can work on prevention and treatment.
Prevention could include going all the way down to the very core of the gender system and changing the man/woman myth of what a person must “do” to be loved/sexed.
Yeah, we’re working on that – we might be a while.
Less-long term prevention could be doing a better job right now in sex ed classes and through outreach programs to help boys and girls develop healthier attitudes about the opposite sex.
But – what’s the treatment? Right now their only seem to be two “camps” who even identify these men:
The Feminists call them Nice Guys. They point their fingers at them, with understandable frustration and anger, and tell them they are entitled. “Stop feeling entitled and you won’t bothering these poor women in your life!”
But we’re still left with a man with his untouched dick/broken heart in his hand asking, “Telling me what NOT to do doesn’t tell me what I should be doing.”
Up rolls the giant pimp-mobile with topless women and a skinny man with a top-hat sitting in the sunroof.
The Pick-Up Artist calls him Average Frustrated Chump. He promises to the unloved man, with a twinkle of gold in his eye, “My dear man, women are just evolved animals, with a psychology able to be picked as easy as a lock – the simple things. Just buy my book and follow these sure-fire-guaranteed-to-work-or-my-name-isn’t-some-anonymous-screenname tips and tricks and you’ll be banging so many super models you’ll have to buy your condoms straight from the manufacturer.”
SERIOUSLY? Is this the BEST we can do for these men? I know I might sound like some kind of inner-city social worker, but these guys could possibly be turned into loving, affectionate, truly nice men. They don’t have to be doomed to either a life of loneliness and suffering or objectification and misogyny.
I still look back at my life and am amazed I escaped the Nice Guy cycle. It shouldn’t be that hard and no one looking to make a change should have to do it alone.
Well, that’s generally good advice all around, whether you’re looking for a wife or making a career move. I don’t disagree with any of it. But that’s what it is – generally good advice. It doesn’t really mean that there are no external forces that affect our ability to reach any of those goals. There was an article in Forbes recently where some crazy CEO was telling “inner city” black kids that if they’re the very best at their school then they will have find just as much opportunities in their lives as the top 1% of people like him and his own kids. It makes sense generally when you talk about things in an abstract sense but when you really get into concrete comparisons it becomes really obvious that things aren’t actually the same way for everyone.
“I don’t really understand what that has to do with my comment… Elaborate please?”
A person can be a decent person, even though one might have controversial qualities. Of course “niceness” is nearly always subjective and observed. Making simple judgements like “[person] who seriously buys into the whole “alpha male” thing in the first place is not genuinly nice.” is misleading and lazy at best. We all have “faults”. Gandhi was very likely considerably racist, Dalai Lama is a known homophobe, a lot of people consider Jesus as a narcist… I doubt there is a single decent person in the world if we don’t tolerate considerable “flaws” in character. Neither would we proceed as a species, if we don’t value radical disagreement.
People can complain for a ton of reasons, have drastically incompatible world views and still treat each other with kindness and respect. E.g. priests tend to have made such kindness to a profession.
I agree with your characterisation/definition, Shora. I think you summed up the problems with “Nice Guys™” quite eloquently.
It pretty much boils down to being a decent human being (or just acting like one), and demanding a medal (or in this case, access to a woman’s body) for it.
I’m not quite sure if I’ve been a Nice Guy™, or just a plain old antisocial misogynist, when I was younger, but I do feel a bit of sympathy. Rejection is always difficult, and I still have a hard time dealing with it, to be honest.
However, I found that being nice and helpful in general (not just to people who I’m interested in) was a lot more satisfying. It probably depends on the person, but for me, being kind to people and knowing that maybe, you made someone’s life just a tiny little bit better, is reward enough. And now, girls actually ask me out!
I think it’s important to remember that women aren’t some kind of an irrational alien race. Like the “women are only interested in assholes/jerks” mantra. Why would they choose a partner solely for being an asshole, or a jerk? That would be pretty silly as a requirement for a suitable partner. So there’s gotta be something else. Something that just being “nice” can’t make up for. I don’t know if it’s the “chemistry”, or the “spark”, or something else entirely.
It doesn’t mean that you failed as a human being, even though you did everything “right”. Human beings (and that includes women) are more complex than that .
Another thing to remember is that women can’t just give you sex or love: they have to be actively involved in it. Because it’s part of their mind and their body.
I would reckon that lending someone a game or tool or whatever, since they were being nice, isn’t quite the same. They can’t just be like “welp, you were nice to me, so, I guess, you deserve my love and my vagina for now. I’d just like to have it back until next sunday!”
….I hope that made sense?
“A person can be a decent person, even though one might have controversial qualities. Of course “niceness” is nearly always subjective and observed. Making simple judgements like “[person] who seriously buys into the whole “alpha male” thing in the first place is not genuinly nice.” is misleading and lazy at best. We all have “faults”. Gandhi was very likely considerably racist, Dalai Lama is a known homophobe, a lot of people consider Jesus as a narcist… I doubt there is a single decent person in the world if we don’t tolerate considerable “flaws” in character. Neither would we proceed as a species, if we don’t value radical disagreement.”
True, though to be fair every time I’ve read anything where someone has been seriously talking about alpha males and the like they have always come acros as at least a bit of an arsehole. And my other examples involved blaming other people for things that actually stem from you, and to me this behaviour definately puts someone in the “not nice” catagory.
“And my other examples involved blaming other people for things that actually stem from you, and to me this behaviour definately puts someone in the “not nice” catagory.”
We all tend to be impervious for our own flaws. And what else this whole thread has been but shaming and blaming the people for wrong perspective. I mean, how difficult it is to acknowledge the possibility, that people can be generally nice and considerate, but still be uncontent with aspects of their life? Such as their sex-life? It’s cool to blame society for being hostile to any other sexual minority, but being shy and non-intrusive is a character flaw? You know, a lot of cultural narratives and external factors often are pretty abusive for non-conforming individuals. Often there are legitimate reasons to blame others. Sometimes there’s less. And it’s okay.
“Such as their sex-life? It’s cool to blame society for being hostile to any other sexual minority, but being shy and non-intrusive is a character flaw?”
Noone’s saying that. But blaming an entire gender for the difficulties in your love life certainly is in my opinion. Especially when you start writing abusive colums and blog posts and the like on the subject, as several people in this thread have pointed out.
There’s a big difference between someone being “uncontent with aspects of their life” and the blaming the entire gender of their preference for this fact.
Just ask people who study autism. To many savant skills are a DEFICIT, imagine that.
How do you reach that conclusion?
1) Posit the non-autistic brain as the default, AND the superior position.
2) Present ANY deviation from that default as a deficit.
So being less resentful, usually a trait called naiveté, becomes a negative trait that we must destroy in autistic kids, lest they become less cynical about their everyday interactions.
“There’s a big difference between someone being “uncontent with aspects of their life” and the blaming the entire gender of their preference for this fact.”
True. Though I interpreted the first part of this post pretty much being all about shyness and social non-conformism being something bad to get rid of. And this Marcottian niceguy-shamishm looks awfully lot like enforcing the perverse norm (being nice is suspicious).
Loneliness is a huge and troubling issue. I’m not that surprised that so many get bend beyond the snapping point.
@Schala, also, not being able to read body language -> deficit. Communicating in a clear, direct manner, versus reading between the lines -> deficit.
It’s funny how unprepared modern society is for the internet… everyone is reading into what everyone else is saying, twisting it around based on unspoken assumptions… this is what happens to people with regular brains.
In a sense, the same argument is extended to women’s brains. Women = default. Docile, sits still in class, follows orders? Default, good. Competitive, short attention span, questions authority – we’ve got meds for that.
I think that there is something to be said about the merits of normalizing to a degree. Similarities are a good thing in social interactions. Small numbers of differences are good, but the larger the number, the worse things get; certain differences are better than others. I certainly wouldn’t want to be an identical clonebot repeat of someone, but I also wouldn’t want to be the only fire breathing water buffalo in the world either.
@Schala Dec 16, 2:27pm
“And for many, if it’s a trade-off between being socially awkward but genuine vs having a sexual or romantic life and being a mask, then being a mask is worth the cost”
I’m one of those people, except my trade off is “no social contact” vs “being a mask”. I even have layers of masks that I slowly take off as people get to know me so I don’t send them running and screaming. Yes it’s actually happened before, and even with the slow revelations, I get a lot of shock, fear, and/or disgust.
“I’m one of those people, except my trade off is “no social contact” vs “being a mask”. I even have layers of masks that I slowly take off as people get to know me so I don’t send them running and screaming. Yes it’s actually happened before, and even with the slow revelations, I get a lot of shock, fear, and/or disgust.”
Doesn’t everyone do that to at least some extent though? I mean, I interact very differently with people I’ve just met or are just getting to know compared to friends I’ve had for years. I often feel like the process of getting to know someone turns into a series of “coming outs” as I let them in on various parts of myself and my life.
How many people are completely different though? In my experience most people wear the metaphorical equivalent of a neat hat and colorful clothes, you can still see who they are through all of it if you try. Sometimes it takes more effort, sometimes less, but it’s mostly just a distraction to let others fixate on. I’m talking about a complete persona change, the metaphorical equivalent of a full-face mask and robe with deep hood.
On a different note, I agree with Park. When everything you have observed, been told, absorbed unconsciously, are told by your instincts, and was imprinted upon you; is telling you that you should be getting SOME kind of positive response. You have every right to complain. Life isn’t making sense. You’re probably wrong/uninformed/missing something, but I sure as hell wouldn’t blame such a person for feeling frustrated and confused. When the instruction manual says “lift handle to open” and you life the handle and get an electrical shock, wouldn’t you be a little peeved? I realize that it is an oversimplification, but I’m using metaphor. I don’t feel like enumerating a large list of quantities, with a bunch of steps and qualifiers.
As for this “entitlement” thing, I don’t think the attitude of many Nice Guys™ or even nice guys is one of entitlement, but of frustration that This Ain’t Making Sense. What they have observed, learned, or been told most of their life — at the very least, what they believe — says that what (they think) they are doing should be resulting in something other than what they are getting. If it is not entitlement to think that when being nice, you should not get yelled at and called a jerk; then it should not be called entitlement to think that by following the guidelines presented and being as close to yourself as you can, you should be getting some noticeable progress to your goal of a relationship.
That is not to say that I think Nice Guys™ are right! Just that I understand their position. The later stages of Nice Guy™ are deluded, toxic, and dangerous — and need serious help. But the early stages have some justifiable complaints that we could do something to alleviate. We can’t change other people, we can only change our own actions and hope to help others do the same. In this case, I think more concise and/or clear dialogue would be helpful. Quit using mysterious doublespeak, stop giving vague statements that engender hope, try not to react badly to misunderstandings.
Instead be honest about your reasons (you don’t have to be harsh), If you have a reason and can phrase it tactfully, then tell them! They can’t improve if they don’t know what they’re doing wrong, or even that they’re doing wrong at all.
Hmm, I agree with your second paragraph pretty much completely. I feel the same way, I think, and well, the same way about my odds.
But, and please forgive me for possible semantic hair-splitting here, I don’t agree that “This person is unattractive to ME” is the synonym of “I am not attracted to this person” … From my perspective, I make a distinction between whether or not someone is attractive, and whether or not I feel attracted to them. I can find someone to be (physically, personality-ly) attractive without being (sexually) attracted to them. I just wouldn’t characterize my not being attracted to someone as thinking they are unattractive. They are two separate axis.
I guess part of it is that saying someone is unattractive (even with the ‘to ME’ qualifier) feels like a judgement, whereas saying that I am not attracted to someone is just an accurate report of my own subjective feelings. They mean two very different things to me.
The_L: I am biologically female. I rather like having girly bits. I have absolutely no problem with being called a “guy.” The only possible reason I can think of to find it offensive is because the slang term originated from the name of Guy Fawkes, who was caught attempting to commit an act of terrorism.
I meant that in regards to how some women point out how guy, which is a generic reference to males of any age, is analogized with girl, which is a specific reference to young females. Like what April touches on here (http://www.ethecofem.com/2011/08/female-equivalent-to-guy.html).
I don’t have a single female “friend” in my life who I “don’t feel that way” about for unknown, mysterious reasons – and I’m still throwing down the gauntlet to anyone here who claims this is a valid way to feel about the opposite sex.
You are correct—there isn’t anyone (that is well into adulthood—teenagers and less-experienced folks in their early twenties may honestly not be able to articulate their reasons) who has unknown, mysterious reasons for not finding a person of their preferred gender attractive. But here’s the thing: the “I like you like a brother” cliche is the, hands-down, socially-acceptable means for a woman to let a man down easy in a way that he is unlikely to perceive as insulting. A way of affirming his masculinity and attractiveness….while also communicating that the woman is question does not find him sexually attractive (hence, the “like a brother“).
Men have more latitude for expressing why and how they are not attracted to a particular woman. Oh, no, not to the woman in question of course! Men will suffer the same social approbation that women do for being unnecessarily cruel—but to their family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers? Men are far more free to reveal that: her voice is obnoxious, her ass is too fat, she’s a New Ager, her politics suck, she’s not too bright, she has too much body hair, she’s a country (or city) girl, she’s too self-centered, she’s loud (or quiet), she’s a slob, she wants too many (or not enough) kids, whatever. There is the tacit societal acceptance that for a relationship to work, the man has to find the woman sexually attractive.
Women don’t get that latitude. Women are generally expected to give any man who (a) isn’t violent, (b) has the usual markers for stability (job, education, friends, etc.) and (c) not physically repulsive a “chance”. “He’s a Nice Guy; why don’t you like him!” is how the well-meaning lecture goes, and how the name came into being. “Nice Guy” means there isn’t any obvious, universal dealbreakers (like a criminal history), just dealbreakers of the everyday, idiosyncratic kind—the kind that women aren’t supposed to have, because (under sexist mythology) we are supposed to subsume our identities into his. (the converse doesn’t hold; men who subsume their identities into anyone else’s are perceived as ceding their masculinity)
In other words, the “imprinting as nonsexual” hypothesis is complete bullshit. Most women are strongly socialized to assume that all men are sexual (at an early age, too)—even more strongly than we are socialized not to induce rage in men (hence, taught not to reply as dungone would prefer—blunt, frank, discussion on the details of why and how we don’t find a particular man attractive, straight to his face).
Now, for the good part: this whole “Nice Guy” thing disappears with age. Both men and women become more comfortable with their sexuality and better at expressing themselves to their intended audience in a way that intended audience can/does appreciate. Both men and women tend to shed some of the toxic socialized behaviors (like slut-shaming or people-pleasing) with more experience (translation: realizing that those sexist behaviors not only don’t help, but actively hurt).
As for the female version of the “friend zone”—setting aside the whole problematic terminology (I loathe the term “friend zone”—there’s no such thing!), the dynamic plays out differently for women than it does for men. Women who are “friend zoned” by a man can/will still get laid by him—he just won’t girlfriend them. He will keep them at a certain personal distance: occasional sex is ok, but public appearances as a couple is not (and in that sense is comparable to what the men on this thread have described as the “friend zone”, which to my ears sounds like the “exploitation zone”—exploiting someone else’s emotions to feed oneself).
Hold on a second, this is socially acceptable? Well that’s news to me, I had no idea… geeze, no wonder I’ve been reacting to it so badly. I should have known it was okay. I will tell this valuable information to every other guy I know – don’t get pissed off guys, it’s socially acceptable. Here’s the deal: it’s dishonest in a very transparent way that it takes “insult” and “humiliation” to a new level. Off the top of my head, it’s as if I rejected a fat girl and told her it’s not because she’s fat, it’s because she’s big boned, and then smiled lovingly and expecting for her to take it as a compliment that proved how much I really care about her.
First of all, see my comments about vague, meaningless language that pervades dating culture and how damaging it is. I’ll put the “you’re like a brother to me” bullshit is right up there among the worst offenders. You know, when I got the “you’re like a brother” rejection, I’ve often asked women to please, please don’t say it. But instead of saying, “okay, I’m sorry… I just don’t want to date you…” they go, “nooooo, really, I so seriously mean it and think of you as this amazing brother that I never had… really… I really want you to know just how special you are.” Me: “Please, just let it go…” Her: “You have to understand, I DO love you… I love you SO much that you can’t even imagine… just not in that way” Me: “Alright, please, stop.. just stop… before I go jump off a bridge…” Her: “Why are you taking this as if it was a bad thing… it’s such a good thing…” I’m sorry, but this is how every “like a brother” conversation I ever had went down. I just want to hear, “I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in that.” When I am asking a girl to take things to a higher level, I am not inviting her to twist the laws of reason and logic in order to make it sound like it’s a good thing that she’s rejecting me.
Well, if your only knowledge of someone is their dating rants on the internet, then a lot of people of both genders are going to look like arseholes.
Judging them that way would be a classic example of the fundamental attribution error, the tendency to look at people’s situational behavior and make assumptions about them as a person.
If you have been told to behave a certain way romantically, and you get no positive responses and rejection instead, that sort of situation will make many people respond in a way that doesn’t look very graceful (especially on an anonymous forum on the internet). I consider that an entirely human response, which doesn’t necessarily give a good representation of what sort of person they are.
Also, the “like a brother” has become a red flag to me: stay the fuck away from this girl. Every time I’ve been told I’m “like a brother,” it’s been a code word for, “guy who does stuff for me and I don’t give him anything back in return.” Because there’s a reason why she isn’t saying that I’m just a friend and nothing more. It’s because she knows that I’ve done enough favors for her that she basically owes me her life. So there’s really no way for her to claim that we are “friends.” By the time I hear “like a brother,” what it really means is “dysfunctional abusive relationship that’s going to suck every last drop of life out of my soul in order to make this woman feel special about herslef.” It’s Friend Zone in a bad way. And just because women find it socially acceptable to treat guys that way, well, it doesn’t mean guys like it, and it doesn’t make it okay.
Also, for me to be like your brother, you have to be like my sister. If you’re not a sister to me, because, well, I’m fucking asking you out, then what makes you think I’m like your brother?
That is the same thing that I was talking about above. It’s this controlling and invalidating way of expressing their feelings that women use to reject men, where she takes her internal feelings and externalizes them onto the entire relationship. I see this type of thing so often and hear it in the language that women use, I’m pretty sure there’s got to be a name for it.
Exactly what are you doing for her, and what do you expect her to do in return? Are you moving furniture for her? Do you expect her to help you with Christmas gift wrapping?
“But here’s the thing: the “I like you like a brother” cliche is the, hands-down, socially-acceptable means for a woman to let a man down easy in a way that he is unlikely to perceive as insulting. A way of affirming his masculinity and attractiveness….while also communicating that the woman is question does not find him sexually attractive (hence, the “like a brother“).”
What dungone has said, I agree with. It’s dishonest doublespeak. Quit prevaricating and call it like it is. (NOTE: for the rest of this paragraph I’m using a general or hypothetical ‘you’, I am not referring to any commenter) I’m not your brother, I’m the friend you are currently exploiting (unknowingly or not). You are obviously treating me as a safe haven and free favor dispenser, shoulder to cry on despite how awful it makes me feel when you twist the knife in deeper by rubbing my nose in what I want but can’t have being trashed (remember, I’ve asked you out).
Now on the socially accepted latitudes of expression? I agree in principal, though my own experiences are somewhat reversed. The women in my life are more frank about what precisely they don’t like than the men. I get a lot of highly general statements from my man friends.
As for your next paragraph… the use of absolutes is a bit of a pet peeve for me, and “universal” is an exceedingly absolute word. Other than that: see previous statement.
Maybe women don’t imprint men as nonsexual, but there is most assuredly a “friend zone” where once you’re stuck, your only options are to stay there, or stop being friends. If you develop sexual feelings? Sucks to be you. Romantic notions? Not going to fly. You hit a brick wall in the evolution of the relationship, and your only options are to tread water, or reverse course. I can understand the sentiment that you were “imprinted as nonsexual”, because I’ve also heard it described as “exuding no-sex pheromones”, “chasing my own tail”, and “running in circles”. Not that there is anything wrong with just being friends, but sometimes: that’s just not what you want in the situation.
Wouldn’t know about the fades-with-age thing, because I don’t hang out with many ‘older’ folks that aren’t in a serious relationship of one flavor or another. I also avoid the common hunting grounds for Nice Guys™, and will try to forget their existence once their personalities become known.
As for the male “Friend Zone” you must know different guys than I do, because the opposite is true in my social net. Typical non-sex relationship behavior is common, but casual sex is not going to happen; no way, no how. While you may not have experience with a Friend Zone, I know plenty of people (myself included) who have been put there, of both genders. Hell it’s almost my schtick, I get stuck in the Friend Zone all the time, and it’s annoying when I realize that I’m attracted to this friend or that one. I’ve broached the subject, and been told lines like much like the ones in the onion article linked earlier, which I will re-link: http://www.theonion.com/articles/but-if-we-started-dating-it-would-ruin-our-friends,11473/ or I am shot down because of mismatched sexual preference, but that’s something I knew would happen a lot when I realized I was bisexual.
I don’t know Solo, why don’t we ask her? Why am I her “brother” and not just her friend? She should probably know…
I’m not talking about what I do for her, I’m talking about what she expects for me to do for her, versus other people who are just friends. If I am not going to be dating a girl, then I want it to be perfectly clear that we are either going to be friends, with very clear, well defined boundaries as to what constitutes as friends, or we’re not going to be friends at all.
I’ve seen this kind of shit turned around on guys too many times… yeah, so they did something for her that really inconvenienced them greatly, but only after she begged them to do it and flirted and told them just how much she’s going to appreciate the favor, maybe even kissing them on the cheek afterwards…. but then people still say that this was completely the guy’s choice, because he’s super-agency-man who doesn’t have feelings that can be subverted and exploited for personal gain.
So anyway, “you’re like a brother” is a red flag to me because of that. I’ve heard it too many times, naively thinking that it was a sweet thing of her to say and meant that we had a special relationship, when what I really should have done is stopped talking to her. I didn’t make the connection until much later in life – I didn’t think of her as my sister. So we couldn’t be friends any more than we could be lovers. Now it’s simple – if she calls me her brother I’m saying goodbye.
Off the top of my head, it’s as if I rejected a fat girl and told her it’s not because she’s fat, it’s because she’s big boned, and then smiled lovingly and expecting for her to take it as a compliment that proved how much I really care about her.
Ahh, but see….you don’t have to. All you have to do, is passively reject her. Simply don’t come on to her, or perhaps talk about women who you do find attractive in front of her. She will do the connecting of the dots (“dungone doesn’t think I’m hot; I stand no chance with dungone”) on her own. How she behaves from there on out is up for grabs; she can either keep it moving (“well, dungone can just be my friend; no biggie”) or not—she could be a female “Nice Guy” (if I stick around and put up with enough of his shit, as soon as he hits a dry spell he’ll turn to me!”)…but she will always, in her bones, know beyond a shadow of a doubt, where she stands with you. Whatever else she does, she isn’t likely to lie to herself about that, even if her behavior masks that.
Men aren’t socialized to think that women are very sexual beings*. Sexuality (in a sexist society) is seen as the province of men. So, even open rejection by a woman is up for grabs. Since women aren’t supposed to be very sexual, their sexuality is seen as more malleable by the “right kind” of guy—that women want love instead of sex, so if a man makes himself out to be “loveable”, she’ll be up for the exchange of sex.
Meantime, women are heavily socialized to not deliberately enrage men. Women are socialized to be the ones who control the violence level via their actions and words (we’re also taught that if this doesn’t work out as intended, that we’ve failed in some way—that we have more control—and more knowledge, i.e.: “women’s intuition”—than we actually do). And so here we are, put in the midst of this backdrop in which we don’t have the option of passively rejecting men, the way men have the option of passively rejecting us. We don’t have an automatic face-saving routine; we actually have to come up with a script. Hell, not just a script, but an entire pantomime.
How does one convey nonsexual attraction? The “you’re a cool guy, but no, I don’t want to go to bed with you”? “Like a brother” fits pretty damn well. “Brother” implies trust and respect—while at the same time also unequivocally transmits the message “ain’t no sex happening here”.
It is what is is, dungone. If a guy is a total asshole, she doesn’t have to soft-pedal the message. But relatively few men are total assholes. Most of the men she’s going to be rejecting don’t have any of the universal dealbreakers; she just—like her male counterparts—doesn’t find the particular individual in question attractive, or her type, or he has traits that would make him an incompatible partner for her. Her male counterparts seldom have to overtly reject anyone; even if a woman they aren’t particularly interested in “comes on strong”, they have the backup plan of suggesting that she isn’t feminine enough, or perhaps too slutty (because her aggressiveness is already breaking the “rules” of the sexist script).
*which is exactly why “Nice Guy-ism” is a young man’s problem. Once a man has been around the block a few times, he realizes that women are indeed sexual beings, that—as Easily Enthused pointed out earlier—the sexes don’t really think that differently, and ends up drawing different conclusions than he drew earlier.
I’ve heard that a million times, it’s just as unconvincing every time I hear it as it was the first. Look, if you want to be actively rejected, then come up to me and ask me out. Otherwise don’t complain about how I’m rejecting you. That’s my policy. The idea that there is such a thing as “passive rejection” betrays a sense of entitlement as screwed up as the most unflattering version of the Nice Guy(TM) that we’re talking about. Actually, I think Ozy really made that point perfectly clear in Part One of this series.
I’m not talking about what I do for her, I’m talking about what she expects for me to do for her, versus other people who are just friends.
Well…..look, I get what you’re saying. But this is like the old Ann Landers drop of advice: that no one can take advantage of you without your permission. If she, or anyone else, expects any nonreciprocal favors? May I recommend liberal use of the word, “no”? “No, I’m busy.” “No, I have other plans.” “No, you only seem to call me when you need something, and I’m tired of being used.” “No, and by the way, if you were a street your name would be “One Way”.
That’s my policy.
Oh please. How often have you actually told a woman (who you found unattractive) who asked you out, “Sorry, but you aren’t good-looking enough for me.” or “I don’t find you attractive. What? Why? Are you kidding me? (list of appearance-related flaws)”.
Look, the men I know that have this happen? Are just as tongue-tied as the women. They are in the unenviable position of having to find some face-saving way of telling someone they genuinely like, just not sexually, that they don’t find that person attractive.
I think what you are describing is simply an entitled person with no qualms about using people to get their stuff done. Trust me, there’s plenty of those in all shapes, sizes and genders. Why would you ever want to consider a deeper relationship with someone like that? Just tell her no, I bet that will feel pretty good.
Women don’t ask me out often, but when they do, I don’t tell them any of that. I tell them that I’m not interested and leave it at that. I never found it difficult at all.
Ah, but I am not super-agency man, wearing a cape and behaving in a rational manner completely removed from my deep seated feelings and desires. It’s a toxic myth about the male gender, we are not infallible, we make mistakes. I’ll readily admit that.
Second of all, I don’t actually want to consider a deeper relationship with someone like that. I’ll tell you what happened to me, actually. I went through a transitional period, where I started to wake up and realize how I was being treated. What happened is that I would say no, sorry, I don’t think we should be friends. But she would tell me how much she didn’t want to lose me from her life. That was eye opening to me. It wasn’t just me alone who was maintaining the dysfunctional relationship, but the woman who had an active role in it as well. Frankly, she knew I had asked her out, that we had drunk sloppy sex and random make out sessions, but when I asked her for a more meaningful relationship, she went out on dates with guys she met that same day. And when I asked her to let go, she begged me to stay. She guilt tripped me, actually, about all the things we’d been through already, all the memories, about how it wasn’t just her but her whole family who thought of me as one of their own. It was all of that for months. So that’s when it finally clicked. This wasn’t me. I was not in control over my life, I was letting someone else take control over me That sick feeling in my stomach lasted for months afterwards, and yeah, I struggled to get out, but at that point my intention had become to get out and never go back.
I have a longer reply to you from upthread, for later but I’m already late IRL, because, internet, so I’ll make this brief.
That’s really, nice for you, but, since we’ve been talking about gendered expectations, in my experience, women have it drilled into them that that’s not good enough. I don’t agree with everything La Lubu has said, but she’s right here. We need a reason.
Why? You have a boyfriend? No? You’re underage? No? (seriously this happens.) You think I’m ugly, don’t you?! No? Then whyyyyyy?
Have you seen the dismissive way people talk about women actually using the presence/lack of sexual attraction to a man as a decision criteria? ” ‘gina tingles” and all that.
Ugh. I’m sorry, but I still have a hard time being honest, because I have been told over and over again in a variety of ways that I’m a bad person for not “giving [him] a chance” when it’s not like I have an actual “real” reason to turn him down or anything. That’s part of why I misinterpreted the point you were making about vague language upthread.
I will still be honest, because I feel it is the ethically right thing to do, but it is a damn bitter pill to swallow, and I don’t really think you actually grasp that.
Not to be too glib or anything, but to paraphrase a certain someone,
I honestly spend a lot of time wondering about why men have such perplexing notions about women, especially about rejection. It’s as if (maybe) most men manage to reject just a few women, maybe a couple of times in their lives, so they must conclude that the way that experience has affected them is no different than the way a thousand such experiences affect a woman.
Curse my inability to be succinct!
@La Lubu, Ann Landers is the kind of advice that gets old. Here’s from an episode of Seinfeld:
George: What do you tip a chamber maid.
Guy: I don’t know, five bucks a night.
Jerry: No, a dollar, two tops.
Guy: A dollar a night?
Jerry: Yeah, that’s a good tip!
Guy: That stinks!
Jerry: I read it in Ann Landers.
Guy: Oh, Ann Landers sucks!
@ dungone and Tome Wyrm
Not to be pedantic, but I’ve also got to repeat that rather than argue over the semantics of the sexual rejection (don’t say ‘brother’; say’ uninterested.’ Then I won’t think you’re a b … ad person), the issue is: why is the sexual rejection brought up in the context of her existing relationship to said “brother?” There’s an evident-You got the sex. I need the sex. Give me the sex or I’ve wasted my time- mentality that’s too easy to track.
Look, I don’t think a guy who did some nice things for a woman before he makes a move is insane. It makes more sense to help a woman move out of her apartment and then ask, ‘Intercourse?’ than to serve her a subpoena and ask, ‘Intercourse?’ But hey- an apple martini, an extra large spritz of Axe, juggling- whatever the set up was, the answer wasn’t some kind of yes; it was some kind of no. If the guy wants to complain, fine, but he may want to avoid suggesting to anyone other than his close personal friends that he found the one morally pure way to request nookie, and/or she was morally impure for her no, unless he wants to catch a little justifiable heat for his complaints.
As for the female version of the “friend zone”—setting aside the whole problematic terminology (I loathe the term “friend zone”—there’s no such thing!), the dynamic plays out differently for women than it does for men. Women who are “friend zoned” by a man can/will still get laid by him—he just won’t girlfriend them. He will keep them at a certain personal distance: occasional sex is ok, but public appearances as a couple is not (and in that sense is comparable to what the men on this thread have described as the “friend zone”, which to my ears sounds like the “exploitation zone”—exploiting someone else’s emotions to feed oneself).
I would double down on this and reiterate opinions differ, but I don’t think getting laid is the mark for whether any given relationship was emotionally abusive or not.
I’m sorry you were exposed to a cruel manipulative woman and am glad you broke away from her but for your own sake you can’t phrase it as “she basically owes me her life”. To an external observer that makes you seem like the problem person, not her.
I’m not sure if this is an argument to say that they are owed a reason, or that they just want a reason.
Either way, I’m not so sure that it’s a gendered expectation. I totally begged to know why when I was a teenager and was first starting to ask women out. At times it bordered on the psychotic… I didn’t want to know why, I wanted to know what was wrong with me. I think that one time I asked a girl to tell me what part of my face she didn’t like. So I don’t know why you think that this is a gendered expectation. I find that people with low self esteem have that need to know why, of either sex. I don’t think that low self esteem needs to be entertained, just as long as you aren’t the cause of it in the first place. As in my exchange with L, I told her that the best thing she could say to men is, “I’m just not interested.” I didn’t say it because I felt that this is all that guys would like to know. It’s because I know full well that telling someone you’re rejecting anything more than “No” can be a Pandora’s Box that should not be opened.
There are occasions where I would tell them more. That’s if there was already a relationship there. I think that warrants a heart to heart talk about why the relationship isn’t going well. But here’s the thing… if you’ve already fucked someone and told them you loved them and they introduced you to their mom and dad and have a social life built around your presence… at that point if you come out and say “Sorry, I’m just not interested,” then you’re some kind of a psychotic monster.
That really made me smile! I don’t claim to have experience rejecting women day in and day out. Unless of course you want to count the “passive” rejection that probably means I turned down the cleaning lady that walks by my desk every night about 365 times in the past year… But look, I do know what it’s like to be on the receiving end, and I do know about having to reject people for other things. The things I learned from doing interviews at work have helped me handle myself in a mature fashion in the few times that I have had to reject a woman who was asking me out.
I actually had to reject a girl recently, namely because I found myself back in a relationship that was much older and deeper than that one, which was a mutually accepted casual sex relationship. But we had already been having sex for a while, so I felt that I should tell her more. We went to get brunch at a chocolate shop and had coffee and desert, at which point I told her I was getting back with my ex. She told me “Oh that’s such a relief! I thought maybe there was something wrong with the sex…” I have to give that woman a lot of props.
Okay, let me phrase it differently… she owes me $15,000
I don’t think getting laid is the mark for whether any given relationship was emotionally abusive or not
Oh, I don’t think so either. But whether it’s “getting laid” or “talking someone into helping you move from your apartment on the unspoken pretext of getting laid” or whatever—if you are strategically engaging in any behavior in order to get your needs met by manipulating someone else’s emotional attachment to you, you are an asshole—whether you’re a sir or a madam is irrelevant.
As is the Seinfeld take on Ann Landers—she popularized the expression, but it’s damn good common-sense advice: don’t participate in your own manipulation. Don’t cede your power. Saying “no” does not make you impolite. You “no” is a powerful force for your own mental health. And again—this is why “Nice Guy-ism” is for the young. The older you get, the more able you are to recognize manipulative techniques, and the less tolerant you are of people who engage in them. That’s a good thing.
Women don’t ask me out often, but when they do, I don’t tell them any of that. I tell them that I’m not interested and leave it at that. I never found it difficult at all.
That’s wonderful. I wish I had the same luck, but I don’t. I grew up in the midst of a larger society that teaches men that a woman’s “no” means “try harder”. Be more bold. Start showing up in all the places she goes. Be everywhere. Do everything. “Say Anything”. Christ. Look, as much as I prefer an egalitarian outlook, the fact is that women and men aren’t always handed the same messages or scripts. Women are taught that if a man isn’t interested, he isn’t interested—it’s you, not him. Move on. Men are taught that if a woman isn’t interested, he can make her interested by…..doing something that gets her attention, “proving” himself, flashing some money or social power, whatever. The sexist scripts basically read the same way: men are the sexual actors, women the sexually acted-upon. Men want sex not love; women want love not sex. So on, so forth. “Nice Guy-ism” would not exist without the presence of those scripts. Sure, people would still have unrequited crushes, people would still wonder “why me?” or “why not me?”…..but they’d move on rather quickly from those spots because there wouldn’t be this larger cultural script (and, face it, direct messages from other people) pushing them towards what they would otherwise readily experience as non-working tactics.
It was a figure of speech Solo, anyhow. People where I’m from sometimes use the term “you saved my life,” which in ancient times would mean that you would become your savior’s fateful savior for the rest of your life, as an expression of indebtedness after a big favor. So what I meant is that she had asked me for a lot of very big favors, each time intimating that she would owe me. After she had asked for enough of these favors, it was clear that she was in no position to ever pay me back on a tit for tat basis by the time we both got old and married and went our separate ways. Basically, she couldn’t pay me back, even if her life depended on it. Which is another figure of speech.
Actually, I really don’t like Ann Landers. I find that her form of advice is very smug and one dimensional, which is why I think people find it so seductive. No matter how complex a problem is, if you can summarize it in a 3 sentence question, Ann Landers can give you a simple, unfalsifiable solution.
So anyhow, what makes you say that saying no has to do with a fear of being impolite? As a matter of fact, what makes you think it has anything to do with saying no? That’s where it gets really tricky. Have you ever read Tom Sawyer? It was written by a man who was much cleverer than Ann Landers, Mark Twain. There’s a very famous account in the book of how Tom tricks his friends into Whitewashing a fence by manipulating them into wanting to do it and not only that, having them give him their small treasures in exchange for the rare privilege. Unlike Ann Landers, who deals with life 3 sentences at a time, Mark Twain understood that sometimes manipulation is not about somebody’s failure to say no.
Oh my god… I’m so tired. “fateful savior” was supposed to say “faithful servant” Goodnight everyone…
That wasn’t my take on the advice—I saw it as behavior based. In other words, if you don’t behave as the manipulators would like you to, you take away their power to manipulate you—-and that’s just as true for Tom Sawyer’s whitewashers as it is for frustrated folks writing in to an advice columnist because they’ve just been played again. Don’t do what your would-be manipulator wants you to, and boom! you aren’t being manipulated.
Shora: “Wow, those sure were a lot of words you put in my mouth!”
So, my mind-reading powers have failed. Yours, however
“oh, wait, you’re not actually interested in my actual position and just want to create a StrawShora to bat about for a bit?”
appear to be intact! Thank goodness, at least one of us is a super-being who can reliably detect other people’s motivations over the internet. It must be the feminist training that has given you such perfect telepathy; in fact, it seems to be quite a common trait among feminists on the internet, that they feel sure they can read the internal motivations of anyone! anywhere! even that they’ve never met, even including fictitious people. Do try to use your powers only for good.
Now, back to our program already in progress:
“What I was ACTUALLY going to say was that it’s not so much criticizing women’s general dating habits so much as the fact that in order to do so you must assume that all women are exactly alike.”
This is non-responsive, of course. I didn’t say anything about _all_ women being _exactly_ alike, I discussed (quoting myself) criticizing “women’s dating behavior in general”. Note, “in general” is not the same as “universal” (if you’re new to English I can send you some literature). One can sensibly criticize or analyze the behavior of many identifiable groups — politicians, baseball players, cable news anchors — in general, without saying, or needing to say, that the criticism applies to 100.000% of everyone in that group. This is just a silly evasion; and so, really, it’s you who are serving up straw by the bushel to avoid engaging the main point.
But let me understand _your_ main point at least; your main objection is to the over-generalization, the implication that _all_ women, down to the very last one, meet a particular definition, right? So, you wouldn’t object to a statement that stops short of that? For instance, if we take your initial example of bad behavior:
“If a guy grumbles about how women are all so stuck up and will only go for Alpha Assholes instead of a nice guy like him”
then this is plain proof that he’s Not Nice. But, what if we tweak that slightly to
“If a guy grumbles about how 99% of women are so stuck up and will only go for Alpha Assholes instead of a nice guy like him”
then does he get a Shora pass? After all, he’s not saying _all_ women are the same, just the vast majority; so you don’t find this objectionable, right? Or, if 99% still puts the guy in the “Not Nice” bucket, then what percentage would be OK by your lights? 90%? 60%? 10%? Let’s see if we can bracket what level of generalization is really bothering you here — or if it’s really something else entirely.
I agree that rejecting people can be difficult. I’ve actually said the words, “it’s not you, it’s me” before. Verbatim. I had something better planned, but when the moment came up, I froze, and defaulted on the easiest thing I could think of, even if it’s such a cliche that calling it a cliche is itself a cliche. Getting a rote line like that may have felt very insulting to her, like there’s something else insufficient about her that I’m hiding, and I can’t even give the courtesy to hide it properly. But it’s very difficult to be in that position of rejector, and I can’t bring myself to agree with the few people recently who have argued that there needs to be a protocol and Robert’s Rules of Order for rejecting someone, even if I agree with them on a lot of other things. It’s one thing to talk about it in the abstract, another when you’re actually put in the emotional thick of the situation.
However, the exact same is true for the other side. It’s hard being in the position of being rejected, and a lot of what’s said in places like these amounts to trying to enforce a protocol on how someone’s allowed to deal with rejection. Someone, somewhere, on either of these two threads, tried to draw the line at, you’re allowed to be confused or upset, but not cry injustice. On first glance, this may sound right to you. But tell me, did the person you’re complaining about ever actually use the actual word, “injustice”? Because the vast majority of times, it seems, that he’s crying injustice is being inferred, and the basis of that is that he’s acting too upset. The two aren’t neatly differentiable. Who gets to decide how upset is too upset? Some may say that it’s not that he’s upset, but who’s he’s upset at: the entire world, which includes 7 billion -1 people who never did anything to him. But what’s the alternative? Focusing that same intensity of upset on the one girl who rejected him? That’s actually a whole lot worse, for a host of reasons. At women in general? I can agree with that, but only if he’s only about generalizing about women in general. The Craigslist rant may qualify, but a lot of these I’ve read also blame the men in his life for lying to him growing up, other groups of men for bullying him even if most weren’t culpable (“jocks”, etc.), the media, religion, what have you. In this case, it sounds like what’s being said is that making a few hasty generalizations when you’re venting is okay, except when it’s about women. I’m not going to go along with that.
So what else is left? He’s only allowed to be angry at himself? Please. Like no one else vents about others when they’re upset. It’s temporary, it’s emotional, and as long he restricts this hurt to himself, it should taken as just one of life’s things. (If you’re going to say that it’s not okay to start badgering other people with this meme or putting up angry rants on public places like Craigslist, I’ll agree, but the sense I’m getting is that even those who only think it, temporarily and in the heat of the moment, are “still douchebags, just lesser ones”. My point is, no, they’re actually not douchebags at all. If they are, then anyone who’s ever been a bit “too” upset in a difficult situation and thought angry things is also a douchebag, which dilutes the word so much it loses all meaning. And also, can you say the same thing about the rants of women who have been hurt by men in the dating world, such as the “Strong, Independent Women” I talked about in the other thread? Without suddenly adding a metric ton of new caveats?) Saying that he’s only allowed to be upset at himself is a ridiculously narrow emotional criteria to be setting on someone who’s trying to deal with being rejected, something you wouldn’t accept if it were halfway proposed on someone who’s trying to deal with rejecting someone.
And finally, you may say that you’re not talking about people who are venting temporarily, just those let it consume them and make it a full time thing. I say, if dungone and TomeWyrm aren’t allowed to make blanket prescriptions on how people can reject for the sake of those few who abuse passive, noncommittal rejections for favors, you’re not allowed to make blanket prescriptions on how people can deal with rejection for the sake of those few who elevate it into a hateful ideology. Of course you think the latter group is bigger than the former. People who would harm those you empathize with more always seem like a greater threat than those who would harm others. I’ve never actually heard a Nice Guy rant in real life (as opposed to the Internet). From that, can I conclude that they don’t actually exist? No, because as a het man, those rants aren’t meant for me, so of course I don’t hear them as much. You’re in similarly no position to decide that passive rejectors who abuse the “friend zone” don’t actually exist/or if they do their number is negligible, and certainly not to leap from that to a double standard where enforcing a strict emotional protocol on how to deal with rejection is okay because of a few bad apples that ruined the bunch is okay, but not the converse.
“But here’s the thing: the “I like you like a brother” cliche is the, hands-down, socially-acceptable means for a woman to let a man down easy in a way that he is unlikely to perceive as insulting.”
In line with the above, I’m not going to tell anyone to stop using this line if it’s what’s most comfortable for them. (So long as they’re saying it because they genuinely think it’s the nicest thing to say and not to be malicious, but I should think that’s a given.) But if you’re curious the reason men don’t like this is because prospect of doing anything sexual with your siblings isn’t just merely not to one’s taste, it’s downright repulsive. I have a feeling that there’s a disconnect between what women think men want to hear and what men want to hear. There’s probably a line out there that women think sounds too mean but is actually vastly preferred. I’d say “thanks, but I’m not interested”, or some variation of that, is by far the best one.
“Now, for the good part: this whole “Nice Guy” thing disappears with age. Both men and women become more comfortable with their sexuality and better at expressing themselves to their intended audience in a way that intended audience can/does appreciate.”
I agree. Part of the problem, though, is that everyone’s taking longer to grow up. Time was, those a year or so from graduating high school had to start seriously making hard decisions and commitments about the rest of their lives. Many people graduate college and even enter grad school without that much these days. Many also move back home to their old rooms in their mid-20’s, and hang out with the same people all over again. And so the high school mentality, with all its petty status jockeying, lingers for longer. (Not that this ever completely goes away, but it’s worst during adolescence.)
My advice to those caught on the outside of this is to be among the first to mature. I mean mature along traditional lines – building an adult resume, with adult hobbies, and most importantly a subtly more adult demeanor. Don’t envy the “lovable slackers” and try to be one of them. These types of people are often not very lovable at all; their position is one of extreme historical privilege, they got there by lucking into the right social space at the right time, and are insanely cliqueish and will do everything to try and keep you from breaking in. Take the other path. No, it doesn’t mean that for you, “the fun’s over”, and you are now the stodgy Bill Pullman to his . It means it is easier for you to build respect and social capital this way, and from there you can go any direction you want. You may even use it to come back and break into that world, if you still want to at this point. Chances are, I’m guessing you won’t.
“As for the female version of the “friend zone”—setting aside the whole problematic terminology (I loathe the term “friend zone”—there’s no such thing!), the dynamic plays out differently for women than it does for men. Women who are “friend zoned” by a man can/will still get laid by him—he just won’t girlfriend them. He will keep them at a certain personal distance: occasional sex is ok, but public appearances as a couple is not (and in that sense is comparable to what the men on this thread have described as the “friend zone”, which to my ears sounds like the “exploitation zone”—exploiting someone else’s emotions to feed oneself).”
Yes, and I’m surprised it’s you who brought this up. Generally, feminists try to shy away from the “sex is to men what relationships are to women” construct, even when it’s more appropriate and more descriptive of the real world than a doctrinally forced equality. “Nice Girls” aren’t really a thing – I’ve only ever heard of them in the context of feminists “admitting” to the label so they can go on to attack guys with more impunity, never in a truly organic or spontaneous context where you’d expect an idea accurately descriptive of the real world to spring up. (For the record, I’m *not* counting Ozy among this group – my post on the other thread makes things more clear.) Women who sleep with a man in the vain hope that this will lead to a serious relationship are most definitely a thing. It’s kind of sad, not healthy, and deserves its own discussion.
“Not to be too glib or anything, but to paraphrase a certain someone,
I honestly spend a lot of time wondering about why men have such perplexing notions about women, especially about rejection. It’s as if (maybe) most men manage to reject just a few women, maybe a couple of times in their lives, so they must conclude that the way that experience has affected them is no different than the way a thousand such experiences affect a woman.”
Replace the burden of having to reject with the burden of always having to make the moves, risking rejection, with no plausible-deniability backdoor, or of almost always having to be the first one to initiate sex, even within a relationship, and reverse the genders as necessary. But I suspect you’d agree and are only trying to shine a light on a similar situation for you, which is what your “paraphrase” comment is about, while I’m trying to do the reverse. I think we’re in agreement here.
Uncalledfor(how aptly named you are)
No telepathy required. The fact that you demonstrably put words in my mouth to create a strawman to beat was quite clear enough.
You’re right, it is something else entirely. That something else is the expression of hostility towards women as a gender. I don’t care how many mealy-mouthed ways you (both general and specific) couch your hostility towards women, or how many verbal acrobatics you make so you can look with wide eyed innocence at the person who calls you out and say that you didn’t mean that ALL women where dumb and manipulative, certainly, but you have to admit that quite a lot of them are?
Your post and manner are pure disingenousness and until you decide that you want to argue in good faith I shan’t be engaging you any longer.
Anyone else thinking it’s a bit ironic that on a site devoted to gender equality, the site owner/contributor is doing a multi-part focus on a poorly developed caricature of “needy, emotionally immature, virgin” men?
You know, if I weren’t over this kind of shit already, I’d be disturbed to say the least.
“Hold on a second, this is socially acceptable? Well that’s news to me, I had no idea… geeze, no wonder I’ve been reacting to it so badly. I should have known it was okay. I will tell this valuable information to every other guy I know – don’t get pissed off guys, it’s socially acceptable. ”
Um… Just because something’s socially acceptable doesn’t mean it’s ok. I thought the rest of the post made that pretty clear. There are many things that are socially acceptable that are completley fucked up.
Unlike dungone, I actually do find it difficult to reject people (due to the same people-pleasing tendencies that made me used to identify as a “nice guy”). Unlike La Lubu, I’m not convinced that giving rejections is necessarily easier for men. It’s not true that giving a rejection as a man is so cut-and-dried; at least, if you don’t want to feel like a horrible asshole. In the wider world than women who post on feminist blogs, men can face negative reactions, such as gay-shaming, in response to rejection.
@La Lubu: “In other words, if you don’t behave as the manipulators would like you to, you take away their power to manipulate you.”
This sounds simple in theory, but remember that some of us don’t know anything different, and for us, behaving differently is really, really hard.
@Jay Generally 10:49pm
So I want sex? That’s supposed to be a BAD thing? Say I am not currently having sex, and I currently have an overabundance of friends (which I feel bad about because I cannot reciprocate all the helpfulness in the manner I prefer). I have set myself a goal to have a relationship which must include a sexual component (remember, too many platonic friendships, I don’t want yet another one and all the stress I’m going to cause myself), and I would GREATLY appreciate not being lead through the Cretan Labyrinth on my way from one end of the football field to the other. Why is this evil behavior to be loathed and corrected? I’m not expecting sex out of anyone, I’m expecting a non-****ed up answer one way or the other.
In any case, sex COMPLETELY off the table (which in my experience never happens, but everyone I know has strong libidos and permissive standards of sexual attractiveness). Being treated as a family member is exploitative behavior. You would ask MUCH more of a brother than you would a good friend, without expecting to give any significant return favors. Entirely too much take when measured against the give. I have a friendship like that, I tolerate it because being helpful is rewarding in and of itself. Probably doesn’t help in the least that I am in love with that friend (like husband/wife/life-partner. Not family and/or close friends). It’s exploitative, but I know and accept that. Sure I find the friend sexually attractive, but ALL of my friends are sexually attractive to me. If I didn’t like them that much, they’d be friendly/tolerated acquaintance. The sex has nothing to do with the exploitative relationship.
@La Lubu 11:31pm
All relationships are manipulative to one degree or another. That’s what give-and-take is: You’re both trying to get something you want with as little negative as possible. You’re both using every tool you are willing to bring to bear in an effort to come out with a situation which favors you.
@La Lubu 12:03am
“That wasn’t my take on the advice—I saw it as behavior based. In other words, if you don’t behave as the manipulators would like you to, you take away their power to manipulate you—-and that’s just as true for Tom Sawyer’s whitewashers as it is for frustrated folks writing in to an advice columnist because they’ve just been played again. Don’t do what your would-be manipulator wants you to, and boom! you aren’t being manipulated.”
It doesn’t work like that. It is quite similar to the advice of “Ignore the bully and he’ll leave you alone”. Might have worked if you’d been trying that ahead of time, but sure as hell isn’t useful advice in this situation. Another problem: They wouldn’t have manipulated you (and you objected to it) if it was that simple. They manipulated you in a blind spot, in a way you couldn’t see coming, and hence couldn’t avoid. Not to mention it’s tautological. Might as well say “Don’t get hurt, you won’t get hurt!”.
Well, I think most girls and women who employ slut-shaming do so at least in part because they’re insecure/ashamed of their own sexuality and try to compensate (why men do it, I have no idea). I’ve noted that the sexual behaviour many women label slutty is exactly one level (possibly two if they’re being generous or have more promiscuous friends) above their own in promiscuity (again, I have no clue about men).
It’s obviously culture who tells them that this behaviour is OK, just like it’s culture who instil in them the insecurity and shame of their own sexuality which causes them to lash out at other women in an attempt to define some concrete level of ‘sluthood’, to convince themselves that they don’t fit that definition. And it’s the culturally instilled fear of sexual assault which makes these women look for surety, some indication that the victims did something to ‘deserve it’, because that means they still have some control left, some way of acting to ensure that it doesn’t happen to them.
And you know what? I don’t care. What they’re doing is unacceptable, end of story. If they recognise that the slut-shaming stem from their own insecurity and resentment, and try to improve, I’ll be right there next to them offering sympathy and support, but there’s no way I’ll look at a woman saying that women who have one-night stands are cheap, that prostitutes are dirty, and rape victims probably dressed wrong and go “It’s not really malice, it’s probably just culture giving her the wrong idea. We should try to support that kind of women more, and have sympathy for how she’s been mislead”.
One time, I was hanging out with my regular gaming group, and one of the guys, known in the group as being extremely promiscuous and flirtatious, left early. Not long after he was gone, the group’s resident Nice Guy started talking about how the real reason this guy was popular with women was that he wasn’t a nice guy, and didn’t respect a no. The Nice Guy had never been hit on by the “Bad Boy” in question, so he had no way of knowing, but he said it with complete surety. Because if he, the ‘Nice’ Guy, couldn’t even get the sexual interest of one girl, then the guy who had the interest of dozens must per definition not be nice.
None of the guys opposed it, so as the lone unattached girl it fell to me to explain to him that I had actually been the target of the bad boy’s flirtations, and they had never been anything but respectful. In fact, he was the only guy I knew who’d not only backed off on his own volition after I told him certain things which could give the impression that I wasn’t up for anything sexual, but also never pressed the matter, and never stopped being polite, friendly, and interested in me even when he believed there was no prospect of sex.
I directly told the group that if anything, I believed I big part of this guy’s attraction was that women felt more safe with him, and if I was planning on a casual sexual relationship with anyone from the group, he would be my go-to guy, not because he was the one I found most physically attractive, but because I believed he would handle it the best. A while later, I asked another girl who knew this guy about it, to make sure I hadn’t misjudged him, and the moment she heard that someone had said he didn’t respect a rejection she exclaimed “What?!? That’s exactly what he’s so good at!”.
I have no doubt that the Nice Guy has gotten the wrong cultural messages. He’s learned that it is more important for men to deserve women than to be attractive to women, and that making oneself a good sexual partner should be based on (often fairly abstract, and sometimes even damaging) morals, not pleasure, safety, or practical concerns. He’s been taught that nice guys finish last, and that women are stupid when it comes to choosing the ‘right’ man.
He’s been taught that women’s value as people is tied mainly to their physical attractiveness and sexual purity, and that overt, non-romanticised male sexual attention is inherently degrading to them, leaving him confused as to how a guy can get away with treating women completely without reverence and with open sexual interest, and still meet women willing to have sex with him. And of course, he ends up finding the answer to said confusion in the previously mentioned assumption that women are stupid and don’t choose the right men.
But in my mind, that doesn’t justify the way he views women, or men for that matter. In fact, I don’t get why more guys don’t get offended over the implication that if they were nice, they wouldn’t have girlfriends. Perhaps it’s just that being a bad person isn’t considered as big an insult to men as to women, perhaps it’s that insults against sexually successful men don’t cut very deep because of the status associated with bedding women, or perhaps women are more sensitive to the insult, due to their greater likelihood of having blame directed at them because of it.
No matter what, I don’t think the behaviour is any more acceptable than slut-shaming. The people who engage in Nice Guy behaviour may be the victims of a harmful and untrue stereotype about the nature of sexual relations, but they’re also the main perpetrators of said stereotype, and in order to stop it, you need to target the perpetrators, not make it all about how non-perpetrators don’t show enough tolerance towards the use of the stereotype.
I know most guys here will disagree with me, but I actually think the guy who was called a border-line rapist (i.e. “doesn’t respect a no”) behind his back by his own alleged friend, with other alleged friends never stepping forward to defend him, needs more sympathy and backup than the guy who made the accusation.
But if you’re curious the reason men don’t like this is because prospect of doing anything sexual with your siblings isn’t just merely not to one’s taste, it’s downright repulsive.
Oh yeah, pocketjacks, I can see that! Just sayin’ that the women using that phrase are focusing on “brother” because of the I-genuinely-like/respect/appreciate-my-brother inference, and the men hearing it are receiving the “eeww! my brother!” inference. But—the phrase itself is a relic of the past when women were assumed not to have sexual desires and appetites of their own. It didn’t carry the same baggage that it does now, but it’s still repeated in pop culture enough to be a crutch to reach for in that moment when one has to overtly reject. (fwiw, I’ve never used the phrase; I’m an only child, and just assumed the phrase would not work for me because of that).
Unlike La Lubu, I’m not convinced that giving rejections is necessarily easier for men.
Good thing I didn’t say that, then. If you’ll scroll above, you can see that I was very specific to dungone in explaining that men get just as tongue-tied as the women when forced into the scenario of overt rejection—-a scenario they get a lot less practice with than women, as women are still—even after feminism—taught that if a man isn’t asking them out, it’s because he isn’t interested in them (passive rejection). Move on, he doesn’t like you. No biggie, more fish in the sea, yadda yadda. If a woman takes on the “Nice Guy” role, she’s already breaking the social script in numerous places; when men don the “Nice Guy” role, they’re stepping into a social script written exclusively for males and designed to demonstrate masculinity. Trust: I’m not saying that women are saints and men are sinners, and that’s why there are fewer female Nice Guys; I’m saying that women aren’t as likely to step into roles designed for men, particularly if they are trying to attract the sexual attention of heterosexual men.
In the wider world than women who post on feminist blogs, men can face negative reactions, such as gay-shaming, in response to rejection.
Nice example of passive-aggression, there Hugh! Fortunately, I live in a world that does not share anywhere near the demographics of feminist blogs (and in fact, if you visited the feminist blogging world more often, you’d see that’s one of my standard critiques of mainstream feminism—basically, the upper-middle-classness and whiteness of it all. It wasn’t too long ago Racialicious posted a one-off quote I made somewhere else (Feministe?) that grew legs of its own). Anyway, we’ve been down that road before, with you faithfully donning the mantle of Middle America™ and its supposed nonfeminist mores and practices; it’s really tired. You and Mitt Romney have about the same handle on Middle America™. Maybe you can road-trip with him through the Rust Belt in some authentic older Chevy or Ford that still has the dirt of some country roads on the undercarriage. Maybe it’ll give you a clue as to what the other side of the tracks really looks like. FWIW, gay shaming isn’t really a feature of my world—not because there’s no homophobia here, but because everyone is assumed to be heterosexual. Save the statements on gosh-darn-regular-folks for someone else; you’re about as authentic as that white douchebag talkin’ ’bout what all those poor black children in the inner city can do to improve their chance.
And Nice Guys? There’s plenty of ’em out here, because the trope of “winning her over” is one of the standard rites of passage of masculinity for young men. They don’t have to succeed at it; they just have to try. It’s like getting into his first fistfight—he doesn’t have to win, he just has to not back down. That’s what the Nice Guy performance is all about—not backing down. “Manning up.” And that is the reason fewer women are doing it—it simply isn’t the same performance when women do it.
No, I completely agree with AB here about the behavior of the guys in the group. The guys in her group were deluded, in the first place, and spread baseless rumors. Especially for the spreading of false witness — an action, a behavior — shaming is appropriate. I agree with her that shaming has a place in dealing with overt actions for which we can be responsible.
For worldviews and especially for personality characteristics, shaming however doesn’t work. And the shaming should be moral and never feed back into toxic masculinity ideas, though this is something I’ve seen all the time — shaming “nice guys” for lack of sexual achievement in itself, for example, even by feminists, or using terms which are part of the toxic masculine complex to shame them.
But yeah, for overt bad actions, shame away.
But where exactly does the line between shaming and not shaming go? I don’t consider what I did in that group shaming, but it seems like you do. If correcting someone on an erroneous assumption is the same as shaming, how are you supposed to deal with someone who’s convinced they’re something they aren’t?
At some point, I know I tend to feel the need to scream “It’s one thing to treat me like dirt, but at least have the decency to not pretend you’re being nice!”, and even though I rarely do, I’ve yet to find a more effective method.
AB what you did in that group was fine. I am sorry that you took my general caveats to apply to you.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to suggest you were saying it unacceptable, but it sounded to me like you were saying that it was an acceptable form of shaming.
“Anyone else thinking it’s a bit ironic that on a site devoted to gender equality, the site owner/contributor is doing a multi-part focus on a poorly developed caricature of “needy, emotionally immature, virgin” men?
You know, if I weren’t over this kind of shit already, I’d be disturbed to say the least.”
You’ve hit the nail on the head of what was sort of bothering me about these posts… “Nice Guys(TM)” is more often than not a strawman pumped chock full of negative assumptions about motivation and behavior, and discussions around it usually end up stereotyping anyone who displays *any* of the associated behavior. It’s just an “Guys who are sexually unsuccessful always deserve it because they’re actually horrible, manipulative people.”, so I’m kind of disappointed to see NSWATM discussing it by starting out with the assumption that it’s widespread behavior. The “nice guys finish last” comment by a frustrated guy might be common, but guys who fit even half of the vitriolic “Nice Guy(TM)” stereotypes are not. 95% of the guys who call themselves nice genuinely fit into category one.
A lot of times when young guys are using “nice” in the context of dating, what they actually mean by nice is “not being sexually assertive/aggressive”.
Reversing the genders doesn’t work unless you’re also reversing the gender roles. Keeping in mind my last paragraph about adolescent confusion of “nice” with “not sexually assertive”, the equivalent complaint would be a woman complaining that guys don’t like women who are assertive and forward, or woman who are smart, or about how a guy was only using them for sex. I’m pretty sure that happens all the time… but there’s no “TM” built up around it because in those cases, people don’t make assumptions about *motivation*. If someone develops feelings for a casual hookup, it’s not a “Well, you *must* have only been sleeping with them because you wanted them to fall for you, so you deserve it that they don’t feel the same way you do”.
I’m not having the easiest time understanding you, so I hope I don’t answer anything you weren’t asking.
I don’t mind anyone wanting sex, or not wanting sex, with anyone or anything on any level. When, where, how, and whether the desire is acted upon is where respect and propriety in one’s actions come in. So you want a relationship with sex? Good. Hold on to that honesty. You don’t want to be “lead through a maze?” When you find yourself in one, remember where the exit is and take it. Hopefully you’ll eventually find a minotaur quite happy to lead, or follow, you through the short maze of a bedroom door. (Mind the horns.) I wouldn’t advise setting up a friendship to get the sex, anymore than I’d advise someone to put out to make friends.
Being treated as a family member is exploitative behavior. You would ask MUCH more of a brother than you would a good friend, without expecting to give any significant return favors. Entirely too much take when measured against the give
Hm. I have a brother. I am very, very close to my brother. If he just took and took without giving, not just from me but from anyone, then you’re right – he wouldn’t owe me anything half as much as I’d owe him something: a swift kick in his ass. You may want to polish your loafers for some of those ‘sisters’ of yours, since my sister could expect a size 13 footprint on her backside too.
Honestly though, your argument strikes me as specious. Like if someone called me a big cuddly teddy bear and I responded with, “Teddy bears don’t have dicks. Thanks for the insult, ass,” I’m the one misinterpreting the statement and trying to position myself as the one in the right for getting upset. I don’t care if I’m like her brother, like her velociraptor, or like a cyborg to her, unless she’s screwing her brother the cybernetic velociraptor, the answer was no. Then, if that hurts my feelings, I can go get upset without needing to justify my anger, frustration, and sadness by villainizing her or trying to scientifically, logically or linguistically prove how she’s wrong, not me. And again, bringing sex and friendship into the argument and standing them side by side you begin to imply that the friendship means the sex is owed and the friendship is a waste without the sex. When I said:
“You got the sex. I need the sex. Give me the sex or I’ve wasted my time,”
The worst part of that was:
“Give me the sex or I’ve wasted my time.”
Especially a guy who does that and then unironically thinks of himself as nice. The correct form of that solicitation should be more along the lines of:
“I want the sex. Do you want the sex? If yes, then can we have the sex?”
I’m honestly not out to see a world where ‘sweet wonderful women’ are free from ‘horrible whiney virgins.’ I’d rather see it as trying for a world where an unfortunately unadept man who’d like to get laid doesn’t accidently waste his own time lying to himself about what he’s doing, getting himself set up for a harder rejection than he deserves, and then turning around and putting his foot in his mouth so he comes out like the badguy when he is legit hurting.
And a lot of the time they don’t. Or they don’t even bother to make the distinction. And it wouldn’t bother most of half as much if it wasn’t because it’s inevitably used eschew responsibility to blame uninvolved women. Here’s a prime example of the Nice Guy mentality, with a heavy does of PUA on top:
Re your anecdote. It’s pretty clear that the Nice Guy in your story envied the other guy and took a cheap shot at him. There is a analogy to slut shaming, IME. Most of the times I’ve heard a woman call another woman a slut was because she was hotter, dressed sexier or better at flirting. The promiscuity of the woman in case wasn’t really the point and most likely unknown. Lashing out at someone in this way says more about the attacker and their insecurities than the one who gets attacked.
I directly told the group that if anything, I believed I big part of this guy’s attraction was that women felt more safe with him, and if I was planning on a casual sexual relationship with anyone from the group, he would be my go-to guy, not because he was the one I found most physically attractive, but because I believed he would handle it the best.
“Safe” is an interesting wording, because there is probably nothing more safe than a Nice Guy who feels ashamed of his own sexuality. Trust me the last thing you want to hear as a man is “you’re safe”. Apart from that, I’m sure there are women who hooked up with your promiscuous friend and felt played by him. Who do you think they complain to? (Their Nice Guy friend.)
…whether it’s “getting laid” or “talking someone into helping you move from your apartment on the unspoken pretext of getting laid” or whatever—if you are strategically engaging in any behavior in order to get your needs met by manipulating someone else’s emotional attachment to you, you are an asshole—whether you’re a sir or a madam is irrelevant.
Right. I don’t mean to imply that the a guy who does a “nice” thing to just to get laid is doing something without morally shakey ramifications, or that a gal who knows a guy is amorously into her and deliberately strings him along to get favors is not doing something just as morally shakey. I can just follow the logic processes of both.
However, in the latter case, if the woman who was using the man to pay her rent, move her stuff, help her launch her music career, etc., then shrugs, lays back and goes through the act while she files her nails, I wouldn’t view her as less of user just because, ‘everyone’s happy.’ Maybe that guy wants more than sex and he doesn’t realize sex doesn’t equal love; for me, that guy’s even worse off for the sex. If this was a case of user meets user, and they really are satisfied, but they weren’t honest about this exchange of goods and services, then they’re going to walk away from each other with their worldviews reinforced and they’ll do it again and again until they do meet someone who doesn’t understand the ‘unspoken transaction.’ Maybe I have a qualm or two about the concept of sex work, but I can at least appreciate the honesty.
Anyway, when the concept of sex being withheld is brought up as one of the complaints about one’s user, it sounds to me like any other complaint about a failure to remit. It’s just downright mind boggling for me when someone tells me what would have been a really sad story of emotional abuse, and narcissism, and then they slip in the implication that they’d mostly forgive her if she’d put out.
“because it’s inevitably used eschew responsibility to blame uninvolved women.”
If a guy is struggling with and has problems with the gendered dating scripts society has, and his ability to fulfill them, but doesn’t have the language or social justice experience to *realize* that what he’s actually struggling with are gender norms that require him to be assertive, I’m not going to be surprised when he mistakenly says “The problem is women don’t like guys like me” instead of “The problem is I’m not good at fulfilling the dating role society expects of me, and that’s a burden both genders share – I’m just on the wrong side of the script for what comes naturally to me”. The problem is ignorance and frustration more often than it’s malice.
There’s a reason I used that comparison. But I think there’s a difference in who it’s usually directed against. Most women who slut-shame direct it at other women, and if they mention that men are fond of sluts, it’s usually not framed as blame, but more in the vein of “Of course men will leap at the chance to get sex for free”, indicating that even though men differ from women in that regard, their behaviour still makes sense.
On the other hands, most Nice Guys don’t direct their ire at other men for being jerks, but blame women for not conditioning men into niceness by rewarding them with sex (seriously, read the link in my previous post. I can find you others if you want). In the case of both slut-shaming and Nice Guyism, someone is dissatisfied with the level of sexual attention someone else receives, or their own lack of same, and in both cases, they blame women for sleeping around with whoever they want to, instead of deliberately using their sex appeal to affect men’s behaviour.
Actually, a guy who’s self-loathing, insecure, and emotionally fragile (which many Nice Guys are) are by no means safe. Neither is a guy who fundamentally views his own sexuality something dirty for women to endure as a reward for his behaviour (and if someone sees their own sexuality as dangerous or damaging to the person they have sex with, but still wishes to have sex with others, that’s basically what they imply).
If a guy don’t expect you to enjoy yourself to begin with, he’s less likely to stop when you show a lack of enthusiasm. If a guy invests so much of his self-esteem in whether you like him or not, he’s not only placing a huge emotional burden on you, he’s also more likely to become jealous and controlling. If you’re not sure of what you want or how far you want to go with a guy, the last thing you need or want is for him to start planning the wedding after the first kiss, and the second to last thing you want is for him to constantly go “Is there something wrong? Don’t you like me any more?”.
When I talk about safe men, I talk about men who want sex a lot, and don’t mind showing that they want sex a lot, but who also don’t need sex. I’m not good at dealing with those needs. I want guys I can experiment with, knowing that I always have the option to back out. And more importantly, that I don’t need to focus overly on how to back out (I’ve found that it’s a huge turn-off for me if I have to constantly establish my own boundaries with a guy), and don’t have to worry that he’ll get mean or vindictive because of it.
Nice Guys are not safe. They’re not safe as friends, and they’re not safe as lovers. I’ve gone through the pain of having to wonder if my male even friends even like me, because it’s completely standard behaviour for many guys to not actually like the women they want to have sex with, and to never bother to befriend a woman unless they want sex from her. I don’t much care for that feeling. I’ve also dated a guy who didn’t see anything wrong with sex being something I did only for his sake, and who put me on a pedestal and then took out his own feelings of inadequacy on me, violently.
I don’t feel safe with anyone who believes that niceness and safety is a matter of formalities, not how the receivers actually feel. “Sure he says a lot of mean and sexist stuff, but he’s just socially awkward, so that makes him completely harmless and a good guy” or “That guy couldn’t possibly be abusive, he’s always so chivalrous” bothers me to no end, and I see nothing safe in the people who take advantage of it
What exactly do you mean by this? Do you think that just because the guy was promiscuous, he must have treated some women worse than Nice Guys do? Or that even though the guy is by no means a bad person or disrespectful towards women, Nice Guys still find themselves in situations they can use to strengthen their world-view? Because either way, I think you sort of prove my point.
“Of course men will leap at the chance to get sex for free” is similar to “Slut” in the sense that both are used as excuses for bypassing a partners consent (s/he wanted it). The belief that men will leap at the chance to get free sex is likely a big reason why in the US men now are just as likely as women to get raped (NISVS 2010 report by CDC p.17-19).
AB, your life and your feelings about categories of men makes perfect sense from your own individual standpoint and it’s an object lesson that certain social preachings can have counterintuitive consequences. Though not all men who have been called “Nice Guys TM” on feminist blogs are that much like your group, or very much like them at all. Your bunch actually called themselves Nice Guys and guys who self-designate as such AND say sexist crap AND bear false witness AND are violent against women — well, go for it feminist community, have at those guys! do your worst!
I tend to have much more sympathy with the Nice Guys TM who may not self-designate as such AND who are respectful to human beings in general including women. Believe it or not, in the seven or so years that I’ve seen the concept used on feminist blogs, many such guys have gotten that name attached to them.
If Ozy’s master plan with her Stages One to Four in this post was to try to narrow down this meme, since (as I am beginning to realize) it is almost impossible to get rid of it entirely, then maybe she has a good plan. If the ultimate goal is to restrict the use of the term to Stages Three and Four, and maybe some of Two, then… that might do a lot. And perhaps downgrading Stage Two from a “felony” to a “misdemeanor” — or for Catholics, from a mortal to a venial sin.
From my perspective it’s maybe a decent plan B. Plan A would be to get rid of the meme entirely, but according to Dawkins this tends to be kind of hard to do (not that I am Dawkins’ biggest fan, on other grounds).
I agree that men get more practice having their overt advances rejected, rather than doing the rejecting, so they don’t always know how to handle giving rejection. Likewise, I suspect that women get a lot less practice having their overt advances rejected (and no, being overlooked is not the same thing).
Consequently, I suspect that when women do make advances and get rejected, they aren’t necessarily as graceful about it as you suggest.
Well, I’m a guy, and the message I absorbed was the same as the one you absorbed: if someone isn’t interested, they aren’t interested, so move on.
Yes, men are socialized with the pursuer role, and don’t always know to respect consent and rejections. Yet even though women aren’t socialized with the same role, some women are socialized with toxic ideas towards male consent: like if men don’t want sex, there is something wrong with them, or they are gay. And I think plenty of women absorb scripts that advocate trying to “win someone over” who rejected them (especially if they were formerly dating and broke up), since toxic notions like that are so ubiquitous.
Furthermore, even when women are told “it’s you, not him,” some women may not be able to handle that, because they aren’t used to having their direct advances rejected, which could lead them to lash out at the man, and question his masculinity or sexual orientation.
To me, the notion that “Women are taught that if a man isn’t interested, he isn’t interested” and “move on” doesn’t match my experiences, or what I’ve seen from my male friends. I’ve seen and experienced several cases where a woman didn’t just “move on” after a rejection.
Are these women exceptions to your theory? Are they bucking the general trend? Or is the situation more complex (and less gendered) than you make it out to be? That seems like an empirical question.
Making such a broad generalization like “Women are taught that if a man isn’t interested, he isn’t interested” risks erasing female behavior that doesn’t respect men’s consent and agency, and erasing men who have been on the receiving end of disrespectful or coercive female behavior.
The reason I brought up feminism is that you and women who post on this blog are likely to respect men’s rejections, and absorb messages like “if he’s not interested, then he’s not interested.” Yet other women aren’t necessarily like that, and they absorbed a more toxic view of consent, leading them to have less respect for men’s rejections. Since they are women, they don’t initiate so much, but when they do, they don’t always handle rejection gracefully.
Heh. I *have* talked with dudes who had “the sibling effect” with women in their lives, so I don’t think you can say it never exists. Variations of this include:
* I’ve known her since we were kids. (She’s too familiar!)
* We’re housemates. (Awkward)
* We’re co-workers. (Also awkward)
* I taught her to do something, which is more of a mentor/student relationship, so it’s weird.
* There’s an age difference (10 years difference, even if it’s between a 25 year old lady and a 35 year old man, can make someone seem more like a sibling. We might have the same general interests, but we’ll use different slang and watched different TV shows as kids.)
Actually, most of my experience with Nice Guys are from the internet, where they complain that women only like assholes.
The issue is that the stages are connected. I was preparing a longer post to tovyasagain about various links dealing with the Nice Guy phenomenon (which I probably wont get done because there’s so much material), and I re-discovered this site: http://www.the-niceguy.com/
After looking around a bit, I came upon this article about the 7th woman he slept with: http://www.the-niceguy.com/articles/NumberSeven.html. And later: http://www.the-niceguy.com/biweekly/2002-Feb-08.html.
There are so many things wrong with the first article (from when he was between a Stage One and Stage Two) that it would take the better part of a day to describe, and the second article (when he was between a Stage Three and Stage Four) seems like the direct consequence of his attitude in the first. While I can see that there’s a huge difference in attitude between “Squeee! I love this woman so much, and so want to be good enough for her and make her feel special!” and “Women are worthless!”, the underlying attitude is identical.
In the first article, he can’t figure out why a woman he’s not sexually compatible with doesn’t feel like he’s the right guy for her, and despite the woman in question having already done several nice things for him and giving no indication that she’s a mean person he concludes “Last night, I bet she was looking at me, thinking to herself: ‘How am I going to break this to him? I know, I’ll do it via email! The second coldest, most detached method after the Post-It Note!! I’m so brilliant! I can totally purée his feelings without ever getting any guilt that might come from seeing his reaction!”.
The idea that breaking up with him was emotionally hard for her doesn’t occur to him, he insists that she’s doing it out of sheer female evil. Perhaps it’s because everything he’s done for her has been done explicitly to make her like him (he even states “I was really glad to get points for doing something nice”), so assumes the same of her, that each and every one of her actions is taken based of the emotional impact it will have on him. He’s not in the latter stages, but then again, people who use ‘faggot’ as a slur are also in a different category than those who beat of homosexuals for fun, so if we can call all of them homophobes, what’s so wrong with relating the earlier stages to the latter?
You realize that the dating complaints on internet select for the most angry and dysfunctional people? Right? If you judge any class of people by the internet dating complaints of some of their members, they aren’t going to look good.
In some places, there is a norm that breaking up with someone via text or email isn’t classy. Other people don’t hold that norm (personally, I disagree with it because I think it makes no sense: email can be a superior communication tool in some cases). Apparently he did, and he judged her to have violated it. His anger is not (at least, not obviously) due to sexual entitlement, it’s due to holding a common norm about ethical ways to break up with someone.
On the other hand, it’s disappointing that he never learned that sometimes an email breakup can be appropriate, and even his more experienced version called her an “eater of souls.” Such a sentiment would be understandable right after a breakup, but not years later. Now that he knows how incompetent he was at dating and how clingy he was coming off, he should have been able to understand why she preferred to break up via email.
There’s a reason I used that comparison. But I think there’s a difference in who it’s usually directed against.
I agree. In this regard it’s consistent to blame women because they are seen as sexual gatekeepers and morally superior to men. If someone believes in this two assumptions naturally they will address women with their slurs. But the two assumptions are also hurtful to men.
Actually, a guy who’s self-loathing, insecure, and emotionally fragile (which many Nice Guys are) are by no means safe.
I think I understand where you coming from, but making this strong connection between Nice Guys (TM) and abusers is problematic, IMHO. As humbition pointed out it often doesn’t take much to get called a Nice Guy (TM). It’s one thing to get called a loser because you can’t get laid but it’s another thing to get told that you are a danger to women.
Your anecdote had this dichotomy between the awesome promiscuous guy and the awful, virginal Nice Guy (TM). I assume you told it to point out that promiscuous men are not necessarily arseholes or jerks. But it can also come across as “men who can’t get laid are bad people” and the connection between Nice-Guy-ism and abusive behavior also comes close to this. I’m not saying you believe this, but I would like to make it clear that sexual success is independent from the question if someone is a good person or not.
I’ve gone through the pain of having to wonder if my male even friends even likeme, because it’s completely standard behaviour for many guys to not actually like the women they want to have sex with, and to never bother to befriend a woman unless they want sex from her.
I can follow you here. That many men want to have sex with women they don’t like is not my experience. I think it’s especially not true for Nice Guys, I think they genuinely like their crushes and like them for more than the potential of sex. When things go south strong affection can reverse into contempt, but that doesn’t mean that there was never affection in the first place. It’s generally unlikely that someone sticks around often for month just because of sex.
What exactly do you mean by this? Do you think that just because the guy was promiscuous, he must have treated some women worse than Nice Guys do? Or that even though the guy is by no means a bad person or disrespectful towards women, Nice Guys still find themselves in situations they can use to strengthen their world-view? Because either way, I think you sort of prove my point.
What I mean is this: In the stereotypical Nice Guy scenario the woman complains to her Nice Guy friend about the jerks she dates or hooks up with. Now if someone believes in the moral superiority of women and this is IMHO a widespread believe especially regarding romantic, sexual relationships they will take every complaint at face-value. In reality it’s more often the case that both partners made mistakes. When people are hurt they like to rant and that’s ok, but you shouldn’t take these rants too seriously. I know it’s problematic to say this because there are obviously cases of abuse which should be taken very seriously, but that’s a different level than “I slept with the guy and now he ignores me. He’s such a jerk.”
There’s a writer on E2 I follow who is largely asexual said that women tend to assume he’s gay, and make friends with him. When he tells them he’s straight, they apparently often feel “betrayed”.
@smith; perhaps the women in question need to examine their entitlement to having a “gay friend.”
A few personal stories:
I think I escaped some version of “NiceGuyTMism” in high school by virtue of the fact that although the girls that I had crushes on were in relationships with other people, their boyfriends were also people I liked and respected.
Once upon a time, I told a girl that I was friends with “The only reason I didn’t ask you to go to the prom with me was because you smoke.” (And it really was.)
That your experience with “Nice Guys” is mostly from the Internet is very, very telling.
When I was a “Nice Guy” my level of frustration never reached the point of misogyny and hatred to the point where I would go online to rage at women over my situation. I can imagine it escalating to that point, theoretically. I think many men who, for one reason or another, spent a time in their youth not being sexually aggressive/assertive have at least a notion of what it means to be at least a Stage One Nice Guy.
I think that Ozy has a much better point than I even originally thought – although I don’t know if there are four distinct “stages” of NiceGuyism, it is definitely a mentality that incubates, develops and, if there is no intervention, could result in the advanced-stage Nice Guy who really, truly is not “nice” by any sense of the term.
There is a time and place for nuance, and also a right audience. In some situations, and I believe that discussion is such a situation, there is a case for blanket prescriptions. It happens when people are screwing things up so badly and on a very consistent basis, that you just have to tell them that this is what you do and if you don’t do it, 99% of the time you’re wrong. It may very well be the case that when faced with rejection, Nice Guys(TM) are also 99% in the wrong.
With “Friend Zone” rejections, failing to return a call of someone you have gone out with, and with murky, meaningless language, women are 99% in the wrong. But to those who say that the art of rejection is hard – well, it’s not as hard as having to suffer from a horribly enacted rejection. There’s also another side of it – that not every rejection is done in good faith. It would be great if all the women in the world who ever said “you’re like a brother to me” were merely trying to be nice, but their notions of being nice may in fact be based on a sense of entitlement. And the fact is that there are other women, and enough men who have been manipulated by those women, that the only way to control for the bad actors is to call out the bad actions.
Here’s observation about what I have been saying this whole time… what I am asking women to do, is to be “meaner”. Rejection is hard because nobody wants to be mean. But that’s just the thing about it. You have to share in some of that discomfort when you are rejecting someone because if you don’t, what you are really doing is pushing all of it off on them. It’s easy to say “you’re just like a brother to me” and let the guy connect all the dots, then feel hurt, while you have the plausible deniability of not having said anything to hurt him. But the reason it feels so much easier to say that instead of, “Sorry, I’m not interested,” is because it is a manipulative thing to say and it it’s easier to be manipulative than to be honest.
This is a mixed bag of things and it would be a stretch to call it evidence of a “sibling effect.” As far as professional and academic relationships, you might as well add “I’m married” to your list. You could say the same for housemates in some circumstances – if you consider the cost of rent in places like New York City, you don’t want to find yourself out on the street because you were stupid enough to date your new roomie.
That leaves the first and the last point. The last point, I will just indicate the fact that men are very open to age-disparate relationships as evidenced by the fact that there are lots and lots of age disparate relationships. And if a guy merely wants to date within his own age group, then that’s the excuse. It’s not “you’re like my sister.” As far as “I’ve known her since we were kids,” I can tell you as a matter of fact that tons of guys literally have a fantasy about “the girl next door,” so much so that it’s a regular feature in Playboy Magazine. It would be strange indeed if knowing a girl for a long time induced a “sibling effect” because by and large it doesn’t. So if you do hear it, it’s probably a lie – you’re being manipulated.
Also, in my experience, girls who I’ve known for a long time only want me when I’m already taken, but when you’re single again, they don’t want you anymore. I cannot even stress to you how obvious that pattern is, except to tell you that it really sucks to have to go through it if you’re sane. Whenever a girl like that tells me that I’m the one who rejected her instead of the other way around, I laugh.
This is commenting on both blogposts and both threads re Nice Guy TM. As the thread is not very lively anymore, I hope the masiveness of it is not disrupting the flow much. The subtopics are somewhat jumbeled, and I don’t have references to the comments that inspired me. Bad work planning, sorry about that. The most on the spot description of a real, toxic Nice Guy TM I have found is http://www.heartless-bitches.com/rants/niceguys/niceguys.shtml
The Strong, Independent Woman (pat. pending) and the Nice Guy (not necessarily TM) have things in common:
The gender perspective:
They are going against traditional gender roles
They are doing it in accordance with by feminists, and to a large part, society, explicitly epressed goals for changes in gender roles
They are doing what is explicitly wished for and getting punished for it
The biologist perspective:
They are not fitting the average genetic programmes for their sex
They are getting punished for not fitting the average genetic programmes for their sex, as most persons of the opposite sex don’t, on an instinctual level, recognize them as fully fitting the desirable mate protocol
The relative importance of these two factors I’m not sure about, but I am sure they are both valid.
As to the Nice Guy TM sidetracks, I think there are at least two ghost I don’t think i have seen mentioned in this discussion.
Many women FEAR that men will feel entitled to intimacy and sex for paying for dinner, for being nice, for supporting and protecting the family, for being their bosses, for other various reasons. That fear has to a considerable degree valid roots, especially when viewed in a historical context. Historically there has also been a certain amount of no available defense for a woman if a man felt entitled to sex with her. That historical background (and to some degree todays reality) links men feeling entitled to a threat of abuse and rape. That fear of men feeling entitled now often results in both an averse reaction that in todays society is disproportionate to the threat, and probably also some all out projection when there is no such feeling of entitlement. I think this is part of the explanation of why the entitlement aspect of Nice Guy TM evokes such strong feelings in so many women. Actually I even think many women still carry a small amount of “If he feels he is entitled, I am obligated.” somewhere inside, which makes it even more of a percieved threat. Tradition dies hard.
Another ghost in this is that much of modern feminist reasoning don’t allow a female to be weak and insecure. If she is, it is a fault that ought to be corrected. But in the first steps in matters of sex and love, as in so many other settings, it is very natural for women (and men) to be insecure. A confident and assertive male allows the woman to relax a little from the high standards, without it being too obvious. On this theme is also a general contempt for weakness and insecurity in both men and women, that to me is very obvious in many definitions of Nice Guy TM. This aspect of the underlying value system in parts of the feminist movement (and american culture) I loathe.
“– but there’s SOME reason that women get the “sibling” effect around the opposite sex more than men do.”
There are a few things that seem to fit my experience in this, in addition to what others here have said. I think there is quite often some attraction, just not enough for them to label it “someone I want to have a romantic relationship/sex with”, and admitting to that some attraction would complicate things because of the hopes it would inspire. To many women a friendship seem safer and closer than a romantic relationship, and they don’t want to risk that by mixing sex/romance into it, as the risk of the relationship ending increases thereby. And I think some women use it as a reserve option. Most of them very well know that we are very open to this, anytime. And also it is probably to varying degrees a self esteem/power balance thing. He wants you more than you want him. Feels good on some levels. And it is, in general, a warming thing to have an admirer about. Personally I can also find it warming for myself to admire, even when there is no prospect of anything more than that.
One apect of friend-zoning I think actually is the traditional attractiveness features. I vary notably in this over time, for example re working out, success at work, financial status and enjoying my life in general. When I am somewhat down on these (often) I seem to be labeled “good friend material”. But when I am up, I notice my female friends starting to act differently in the nonverbal department, and I think I have at least one experience of being friend, boyfriend and then friend again to the same person clearly matching ups and downs in the above factors.
Re chemistry as a metaphor: As a very well educated person in human behaviour I would say chemistry is a good word for it. Not the chemistry of the classrom, with a few easily defined substances, but the chemistry of really intricate gumbo or bouillabaisse. I think I could name at least 45 dimensions contributing to what most people mean by chemistry in relationships, and there would probably still be loads of unnamed and unsuspected ones.
I think many women use the NG TM label inappropriately, to demonize the guys they reject. So they don’t have to feel bad about rejecting a real vulnerable person. And so that they don’t have to feel bad about prefering the Traditional Strong Male when their ideology tells them they shouldn’t.
And I would recommend Alice Millers The Gifted Child for clues as to where many Nice Guys TM come from.
That should be The Drama of The Gifted Child. Sorry.
Jo, I was going to leave a long, point by point response to everything you had to say … but …
MY MOTHER READ THE DRAMA OF THE GIFTED CHILD AND QUOTED FROM IT OFTEN. More research must be done on this book. As a former Nice Guy – could it be possible that there is a mentality that literally creates Nice Guys?
I’ve been a stage 1/2 NG. Turning into a true NG actually requires opposite sex members to be friends with and lure them by being nice — and I just didn’t have any. My failures were more easy to explain: I’m not in shape, poor, not interesting, have weird/nerdy hobbies.
So I entered dating as already bitter, cynical, hiding behind mask and working like hell on my disguise — not nice or “Nice” at all. I actually miss my former self — with all his naiveness, he was a better man. Yet, whenever I try to explain my problems, I get accused of NG-ism so often, that it’s not a valid term to me anymore — just a convenient label to stick on ones forehead — no matter how formally you define it.
Do think about how to save NGs: they could turn in something worse than stage #4: into me.
” – could it be possible that there is a mentality that literally creates Nice Guys?”
I think there is a range of both inborn traits and early life experiences that drastically increases the likelihood of someone becoming a Nice Guy TM.
The one described in The Drama … is a strong one. It is (simplified) about a child having so self-absorbed parent/parents that their only way of getting any kind of affection is to largely neglect thier own wants and needs, focusing solely on those of the parent/parents. That patterrn carried on into adulthood to me matches some NG traits very well. But as the pattern of giving is not chosen, but forced on them at an early age, the giving is not genuine, just a means perceived necessary for emotional survival. Not being seen/validated as a person when you are a child messes with the psyche i many ways, and makes it harder to really see/validate others.
Another predisposing factor I think is the trait of literal-mindedness. If you build your worldview too much from what is said and written, and too little from what you observe, what is in your head is a poor match to what is outside. You get stuck in how it OUGHT to be, according to the verbal descriptions. I am not sure if querulant is a good word for the principle, but in that general direction at least.
At an early age being rejected when striving for physical intimacy, for example because of the mother having some kind of ill health, is likely to be a predisposing factor.
Being subjected to sexual abuse could be one, as it, among other things, is likely to taint the whole concept of sex with the concept of hurting someone.
Being by temperament shy, soft and gentle should not in itself be a predisposing factor in a healthy environment, but there are lots of unhealthy environments.
Different degrees and combinations of those and others I think makes Nice Guy TM understandable. And understanding makes it easier to help, if one should want to.
“Jo, I was going to leave a long, point by point response to everything you had to say … but …”
I would like that, if you feel like it. This is my first activity on this blog, and all kinds of responses are much appreciated.
yzek: You can do like me, and opt out of dating altogether.
It is lonely sometimes, but it is also liberating. Most of the pressure for being “interesting” in a particular way and for avoiding weird/nerdy hobbies comes from the observation that potential partners tend to prefer people who are “interesting” in a particular way, and who do not practice “weird/nerdy” hobbies. Your need for material wealth reduces to what you need to maintain your own life (since you no longer need to amass excess wealth for impressing prospective partners), and your need for staying in shape reduces to reaching and maintaining a level of health that is acceptable to yourself – you no longer need to think about looking attractive for prospective partners. As I have said in a different thread, when you remove the “act in this particular way, and you will be attractive to women” motivation, you have essentially disarmed the male gender police.
I do not regard this as MGTOW, since I do not hate women, and I do not avoid contact with women. I just do not date and do not seek out romantic or sexual companionship, and have worked to remove all the considerations relating to that from my life.
For what it is worth, I was also a Nice Guy once, I would probably put myself as a stage 2 on Ozy’s scale, with the caveat that I tend to regard all social interactions in the algorithmic, formulaic manner outlined – including social interactions with people I have no romantic or sexual interest in at all. I did not really fear rejection, though, I simply did not have any clue about how to make my interest known. I tried simply saying it directly once, when I was younger, and in the process, I made a fool of myself. So instead, I later tried to modify my behaviour, mannerisms and mode of speech to become more attractive. Also unlike the malign form of the Nice Guy, I did not turn cruel against my crushes when they found a real man to be with – in fact, with a single exception, I would usually just be happy for them. In the case of that exception, I knew the man, and knew him to be an unpleasant and abusive thug, who had been picking on me for a long time, so I selfishly regarded the woman falling for him as a kind of betrayal (until I had time to sit down and work the situation through logically).
Also, I do not think you are worse than a “Stage 4 Nice Guy”. You have not expressed a sentiment of bigotry or hatred towards all women, which is the defining characteristic of such a person: He has failed in the romantic and sexual aspect of human life, and has very strong emotions about that. His way of dealing with these is through his bigoted hatred for all women, and all things considered womanlike.
Bigotry is, in my opinion, one of the most loathsome of all human characteristics, and since you have not expressed bigoted thoughts, I regard you as better than a “Stage 4 Nice Guy”.
I generally find Nice Guy bitching to be the height of misandry. Are you passive? Do you admit to emotional dependency? Do you feel stress being alone? Do you want someone who is a compliment to you as opposed to a fuckbuddy who does romantic things for you? Well, we have to fix you because what you are doing is wrong, and if you would try just not being gay, trans, aneurotypical, not-creepy then you magically would.
You want to talk about there being a fallacious formula? Stop preaching a different one.
Dangit, there were supposed to be strikethroughs….
One thing that I don’t understand about these Nice Guys is this : According to them they are put in the friendzone by a woman that constantly bitch against her boyfriend to them. Why they don’t leave her ? She doesn’t give him anything in return and she doesn’t care about him. There are married guys that have a mistress because their wife is constantly complaining and bitching against everything, so why these Nice Guys don’t leave these women ? Is it because they see themselves as “different” from other men and a case of slave morality ? Even if you are alone, you’re suppose to identify yourself to other guys and other guys will not tolerate a woman that is constantly complaining and bitching.
Another predisposing factor I think is the trait of literal-mindedness. If you build your worldview too much from what is said and written, and too little from what you observe, what is in your head is a poor match to what is outside.
That’s very interesting. I’ve thought the same thing before, but you put it in the immediate context of:
It is (simplified) about a child having so self-absorbed parent/parents that their only way of getting any kind of affection is to largely neglect thier own wants and needs, focusing solely on those of the parent/parents.
That is- a submission to authority to receive ones social needs. I’ve seen a lot of accusations against Nice Guy TM’s stating that they’re passive-aggressive. One of the interesting things about passive-aggressiveness, it was a term coined by a military officer to describe insubornate tendencies among the enlisted. Passive-aggressiveness is usually acquired, typically by living in an environment where the subject is, or at least feels, powerless to negatively express themselves. Enlisted soldiers, housewives (more in the past than present), corporate employees, children: these are all groups I’ve read documents on regarding their supposedly valid problems with passive-aggression.
Now Nice Guys are routinely lambasted for complaining. (It seems to be the source of the meme, in fact.) Nice Guys are frequently accused of passive-aggressiveness, a state of mind where one feels like one is not allowed to express frustration, or complain. ( There’s a pretty hilarious cycle evident there.) Nice Guys are also accused of being entitled, but a sense of entitlement typically runs counter to actual passive-aggression; it’s a sense of oppression that creates passive-aggressive behavior.
Your interesting theory of an environment where an inflexible individual voluntary suppresses themselves to achieve social accomplishment does a lot to explain those rather contradictory complaints. A person used to submission being a succesful tactic would only find passive-aggression as their outlet (you couldn’t well express frustration in such an evironment as you describe) and the dissapointment of a normally effective strategy that fails could explain the notes of entitlement.
In re the entitlement part I also think it is important to consider the depth of the need. As many have said, expecting one result from your actions and not getting it normally creates frustration. But many of these severely self-suppressing people have a degree of loneliness that is almost impossible for regular people to understand. They may never have known love at all, and don’t even understand the concept. Their highest ambition in that field, their dream, the thing they express something that seems to be entitlement regarding, is what to us could best be described as being subjected to severe emotional abuse, just like the one they grew up with. When the best you know, your highest ambition, is to be severely abused, you are not lonely. You are LONELY. And what looks like entitlement might be a misfiring deep, deep desperation.
I don’t think that goes for all Nice Guys TM, at least not to the degree above. But I think it does for many. And I think this calls for a moments thought about who is worst off. The solution should never be to accept being drawn into the horrid world of a severe Nice Guy TM. But some compassion I think is in place. And maybe a moments thought about if there may be something we can do to help.
“I do not regard this as MGTOW, since I do not hate women, and I do not avoid contact with women. I just do not date and do not seek out romantic or sexual companionship, and have worked to remove all the considerations relating to that from my life.”
‘I do not avoid women, Mandrake… but I do deny them my essence’
Sorry, I had to do it.
“I just do not date and do not seek out romantic or sexual companionship, and have worked to remove all the considerations relating to that from my life.”
Actually you describe my early 20s pattern.
“You have not expressed a sentiment of bigotry or hatred towards all women, which is the defining characteristic of such a person”
O RLY? Maybe that’s because I haven’t put my opinion yet. Let’s say it’s like: “General dating preferences of opposite sex are against me, exceptions are rare.” Is it biggory enought or not? Angry Dudes way of thinking is (Mr. Spock voice): not logical, thus requires a lot of negative emotion along with a non-analytic mind (I’m overanalytic myself).
BTW: I probably met a Nice Girl, who tried to play “friendship” card after 2 or 3 dates we had; it was like “we’re friends now so you could tell me everything” — too bad for her that conversation was A) online B) when I was really depressed… Otherwise, who knows: maybe she could snare me ;>
General dating preferences of women are against me, as well. This is just a fact.
The difference between a man who has realized this and a malign Nice Guy is that the latter believes that it is *niceness* that general dating preferences of women are selecting against. I do not believe this, and it does not seem to me that you believe this either.
But the fact remains that what I have to offer is not something most women want in a romantic or sexual partner. I have often received remarks (both by men and women) that I am not a “real man”, which I believe has something to do with my different body language, my preference for activities that are not considered “manly” (and disgust with many of the activities that are), as well as my almost complete absence of competitive drive and complete lack of wish to fight for position in social hierarchies. I am not very good at keeping in mind what is expected of a “real man” in various contexts, and tend to just do my own thing.
It is *this* that I believe that the general dating preferences of straight women are selecting against: Unmasculine, non-gender-conforming and “weird” men (in the thread about “the hotness of non-gender-conforming men”, note how the Feministe article referred only spoke of the attractiveness of men who were in fact so secure in their masculinity that they could choose to deliberately transgress against it!). The same women do not generally have any problems about having a friend with said characteristics – and that is also their right. I enjoy the company of my friends, male and female, and do not (unlike the malign form of the Nice Guy) view my friendship as something I give in the expectation of getting sex or romance in return.
When you are a fundamentally unattractive person, then you are in a position where you have two options. You can try to edit away the unattractive parts of your personality, or you can make peace with being alone. The reason “Nice Guys” are considered entitled is that they do neither. They do not work to make themselves attractive in the sense of “real men”, and yet they still expect sexual and romantic success.
But many of these severely self-suppressing people have a degree of loneliness that is almost impossible for regular people to understand. They may never have known love at all, and don’t even understand the concept. Their highest ambition in that field, their dream, the thing they express something that seems to be entitlement regarding, is what to us could best be described as being subjected to severe emotional abuse, just like the one they grew up with. When the best you know, your highest ambition, is to be severely abused, you are not lonely. You are LONELY. And what looks like entitlement might be a misfiring deep, deep desperation.
This really struck a chord with me.
It is *this* that I believe that the general dating preferences of straight women are selecting against: Unmasculine, non-gender-conforming and “weird” men (in the thread about “the hotness of non-gender-conforming men”, note how the Feministe article referred only spoke of the attractiveness of men who were in fact so secure in their masculinity that they could choose to deliberately transgress against it!).
And this, right here, is what all the continual kvetching about Nice Guys is: Shaming the amascuiline male-presenting who don’t fit the criteria of success object. And you see a lot of what we would typically call misogynistic or femmephobic rhetoric backing up the shaming, even when it comes to code phrases like ‘take responsibility,’ which, while good advice, seems to sub in for ‘man up.’ The real message is, “Stop expressing upset, stop asking for help and romantic attachment as a supplicant, because we can’t really be bothered.” I know not everyone thinks this consciously, but it’s yet another internalized kyarchial message about men and women that’s bubbling to the surface.
I suppose it’s fortunate for me that I was trans as well, because transition, hell, for that matter, coming out, really was the best dating strategy, looking back on it. I didn’t change my personality one iota other than I ceased to police myself when it came to feminine behavior, and, not to brag, but I have not really suffered for want of other women hitting on me now, at least by my standards. Now I’m not saying that Nice Guys should take estrogen and all their problems will be solved… more implying it, really. ^_^ (that face right there is my kidding-on-the-square face)
Anyway, I’m really rather sick of seeing people attempt to hold up the bars of gender-policing jail, especially on a feminist site. Go ahead and be your own person, don’t let anybody tell you different, and eventually, the odds are good, that you’ll find someone who loves you for who you are… Though it doesn’t hurt to put up a personal ad and keep a profile or two online. This is coming from someone who got her first kiss from a girl who meant it at twenty-six, while watching Citizen Kane and spent the rest of the evening weeping like a scar had been removed.
It’ll be worth the wait.
PS: If any of you Nice Guys are potentially Nice Girls… you could drop me a line… (See what I did there? I declared my romantic intentions. But then, you’ve done the same.)
Actually, I think that is is precisely that latter aspect of their world-view that makes Nice Guys so loathed: They expect something for nothing. They believe that “being a nice person” is enough to come into consideration as a romantic or sexual partner – it isn’t, one has to be attractive as well.
Some people are not attractive, due to any combination of physical features and personality defects. One of the central fallacies of romanticism is the thought that “there is someone for everyone” – unfortunately, this implies that there is also someone for utterly unattractive people (or downright harmful ones), and this is clearly not true – nor would it be desirable, since nobody should be in a relationship with someone they feel no attraction to. A Nice Guy has bought into this fallacy, and believes that solely by being “nice” (which, reasonably, would be the bare minimum expectation for *any* personal relationship, including friendship), he will find a romantic partner. The central fallacy of romanticism has led him to believe that he *deserves* a romantic partner, whereas in reality, no person is an object to be “deserved”.
Having bought into this central fallacy of romanticism, the unattractive Nice Guy expects something for nothing, and this is why he appears entitled. He is frustrated because the actual world does not conform to romantic expectations. Depending on whether he perceives this as an unfair slight by the world against him and his kind, or whether he perceives himself as an inadequate actor in the world, he may then descend further into bigotry or cynicism.
So let me get this straight …
We have these people who were taught that if they are “nice” they will be “loved.” Unfortunately, in the real world, being “nice” isn’t all you need to be “loved.” And if you are bitter about this, you need to shut up.
We have these people who were taught that if they are “educated” they will be “employed.” Unfortunately, in the real world, being “educated” isn’t all you need to be “employed.” And if you are bitter about this, you need OCCUPY WALL STREET.
I find it funny that Nice Guys are entitled while the 99% are “courageous.”
That, I believe, has to do entirely with who they are railing against (all women vs. the top of the economic system) – and also that social economics *can* be changed through political dissent, I am not sure that women’s general dating preferences can (or should).
But for what it is worth, *I* do not think Nice Guys need to shut up. In contrast, I think they need to be heard and, more importantly, *understood*.
Inherently unattractive? I don’t really believe that, and I can’t believe you do too. Maybe not conventionally attractive.
Oh and “nice” is interestingly being used as a hominym in any of these discussions. It’s so easy to mock someone for expecting a relationship simply by being polite and non-abusive (despite many relationships we see that don’t match those standards,) but not so much to mock someone for being solicitous, respectful, and attempting to, on some level, center the desires and needs of one’s romantic partner. Then it comes down to masculinity and does one have it in sufficient quantity to display or transgress… that’s the subtext.
But no, nobody’s inherently unattractive to their entire romantic interest-group. To an individual person? Yes.
The worst part is that people fed me this language for a long time, until I’d started to believe it was true… and then I came out… and I discovered that, yes, to some extent, what you call ‘inherently unattractive’ was a misandristic double-standard.
As one of my favorite Lore Soberg T-Shirts says: “I’m somebody’s fetish.”
I don’t know if we *should* try to change women’s taste in men OR our economic system.
I do, however, think that we should be informing young people about what employers and potential mates *probably* will expect.
I don’t think people are entitled to love from any one specific person, or entitled to any one specific job. But people who are jobless or loveless are deserving of our compassion, empathy and charity to get them on their feet.
I don’t think Nice Guys are railing against all women. Expressing hurt and confusion and frustration, maybe, but these discussions once again strike me as making that-which-I-do-not-like antithetical to my beliefs through the use of theory. As much fun as that would be, I think it’s a bit of a trap.
And yes, I think it’s unfair to have a society in which heterosexual men are expected to be employed to receive romantic attention and heterosexual women are not. Ultimately though, that’s partially a symptom, and partially the cause, of objectification of men as success objects. You could say both sets of dating preferences should have to change, or perhaps just one, depending on how much you feel it’s fair that class play into romantic attachment at all.
@valeriekeefe. THANK YOU. Much hugs if you want them. I have never believed that I was attractive to anyone for a long time, and when two women called me either cute or sexy, it was like a shot in the arm.
I would go further and say that EVERYBODY has something to offer another person. EVERYBODY.
“When you are a fundamentally unattractive person, then you are in a position where you have two options. You can try to edit away the unattractive parts of your personality, or you can make peace with being alone. The reason “Nice Guys” are considered entitled is that they do neither. They do not work to make themselves attractive in the sense of “real men”, and yet they still expect sexual and romantic success.”
And part of why they don’t work to make themselvese attractive (and a really big part, I think) is that there’s another very strong narrative floating around that says “Just be yourself, there’s someone for everyone out there”…
(This is not unique for “NG TM”, but goes for most shy or socially awkward people out there.)
And this, right here, is what all the continual kvetching about Nice Guys is: Shaming the amascuiline male-presenting who don’t fit the criteria of success object. And you see a lot of what we would typically call misogynistic or femmephobic rhetoric backing up the shaming, even when it comes to code phrases like ‘take responsibility,’ which, while good advice, seems to sub in for ‘man up.’ The real message is, “Stop expressing upset, stop asking for help and romantic attachment as a supplicant, because we can’t really be bothered.” I know not everyone thinks this consciously, but it’s yet another internalized kyarchial message about men and women that’s bubbling to the surface.
Q.F.T. Though, I wouldn’t go so far and say that this all what the kvetching is about, but it’s a big part of it. In another discussion about Nice Guys I half-jokingly suggest that the contempt for them is internalized misogyny.
I don’t know if we *should* try to change women’s taste in men OR our economic system.
Well, I guess the most important thing to realize is that it’s not fair, neither the economic system nor dating. “Good things happen to good people” is a fallacy. Something that annoys me about how the Nice Guy issue is often handled is the underlying assumption that dating is fair: “If you were really nice (and not only nice as a means to an end) you would find a partner”. It’s ironic when this argument comes from a feminist perspective. Let’s think this through, if people get what they deserve, good people will end up with good partners. But there are undeniably many good people who end up in abusive relationships. Blaming them is blaming the victim as feminists tireless and rightly point out. So what is it now? Is the dating world just or is it not?
(Well, since I forgot to send my comment above when I wrote it, you had the time to state something similar yourself, although in a different setting.)
I think there is a lack of cross-cultural and historical awareness in this. Todays North American culture is sick with the ideal of through dating being spontaneously attracted to the strong, confident alfa male as grounds for a female wanting to establish a relationship. Seen across cultures, time, and yes, even todays reality in north america, that is NOT a necessary standard. Matchmaking can be done so many other ways, on so many other grounds. Reliability. Kindness. Humour. Good family. Relatives opinions. Ability to support a family. Being sensitive and caring towards children. Not being a bad case asshole. Being the only one available. Not even the last one is necessarily a bad thing.
The strong, confident alfa male as a norm for a “good catch” (both through being subscribed to by the female in question and/or through being a pressuring norm in the females social setting) is bereaving both reasonably decent men and dito women of opportunities for romance and sex. This is of course not creating the Nice Guy TM problem, but it is worsening it.
As is the corollary norm for what constitutes a good female catch for a man.
As to Nice Guys TM wanting something for nothing, that is rarely the case. Often they are paying heavily. Just not in the, in that setting, right currency for what they are trying to buy.
I know there have been many bits and pieces of it above, but I think it could be VERY useful if we could put together some kind of list or description of what heals a Nice Guy? To larger or lesser degrees?
Being loved anyway is one I have seen do good more than once. Better understanding of how it really works is another. Compassion and respect I think is useful.
That’s a good sentiment, but I don’t know that this is the place to do it, seeing as, well, the discussion isn’t remotely prefaced from a place of respect… there are dissenters, but we’re conflating personality with stress with traits that many find unattractive. (not me, but YMMV)
I stumbled across this discussion the other day, and I wanted to say how much I’m enjoying the discourse, as well as chime in with something I think has been partially overlooked (not hard with so many fine points being brought up).
For some insight on my perspective, I’m a hetero male in my early thirties, married and loving it. I guess you could say that I self-identified as a Nice Guy for a long time during my high school and college years, although my definition was naturally much less negative than it seems the larger feminist/internet definition is. I never went online to post or rant about my troubles, though I would say over the course of my (for lack of a better term) romantic history I have been both a stand-up individual and a self-centered jerk at various points, but it didn’t track in one direction. When it comes to failed romances I think it’s easy to forget that the devil is in the details and each case is unique, not just the people. A Nice Guy does not necessarily adopt the exact same strategy for every romantic prospect, and some times he handles it better than others. I might feel compelled to write a little about my personal experience at a later point (apologies in advance) but if I do so, I will say that most of those tales are well and truly behind me and my story has a happy ending of which I am very aware. Nonetheless I suppose I firmly fall on the “compassionate” side of how I think Nice Guys (TM) should be treated.
That went on too long. Points I wanted to bring up:
Much has been made of “Nice Guys” becoming bitter over failure to have sex. This is skipping a huge portion of the Nice Guy mentality, which is that they are seek “romance”. Yes, sex is a part of it, and yes some individuals mean “sex” when they say “romance”. But I believe that, if we accept the original idea of Nice Guys progressing in stages, the vast majority begin in youth as desiring romance and all that goes with it, with sex possibly becoming the primary goal as certain individuals age and give in to cynicism. When I was a teenager, putting crushes on pedestals and daydreaming about having a girlfriend, it was as much about feeling validated by someone else’s affections as the promise of physical intimacy. I would also say there were points where the though of sex was intimidating, while the idea of emotional closeness would cause me to feel more excited and lapse into daydreams. I would also suggest that for many Nice Guys there bitterness and disappointment is further fueled by the loss of that “purity” in their desires. A guy starts out at 13 or 14 years old, wanting a girlfriend who will literally be his best friend, like who he is as a person, laugh at his jokes, and kiss him. 9 years and many failed attempts later, at 23 he’s telling himself he’d settle for a one-night stand, because at least it’s something. And odds are he’s lying to himself, because if he got that one night stand that girl will then immediately become his heart’s desire, even if he knows she shouldn’t be. So self-loathing at his own base desires, and the self-perception that he has fallen from his own standards feeds into his anger at himself, and the ranting he presents to the world.
Also, I think there are several sources of the term “Nice” in describing these individuals, and it is not always the “I’m gonna say I’m nice because that’s what will get me laid” duplicity it seems a lot of internet observers assign to Nice Guys.
1) “Nice” is the closest these people will allow themselves to get to bragging, at least consciously or in mixed company. Bragging goes against the romantic ideals these individuals prescribe to. They find a person talking themself up to be tacky and distasteful. Their idealized dream-girl/soul-mate will be able to tell what a good person the Nice Guy is without him having to verbalize it himself. Also, in order to get the emotional validation they crave the Nice Guy needs the girl (or any outside party) to be the ones to praise him, preferably without any prompting. A Nice Guy refers to himself as “nice” if asked to describe himself, because he wants someone else to say he’s “awesome”, because that’s what will make it true. When a former Nice Guy is ranting about how awesome he is online, that’s probably a sign that he’s given up on being recognized as having value from an outside source. But just because he says it, doesn’t mean he believes it. He’s probably just shouting his own praises hoping somebody, somewhere will echo them back at him. “I tried to be a great guy, and no one ever acknowledged it. Please tell me I’m a great guy.” It’s not healthy, and it’s not right, but there it is.
2) “Nice” is also the term applied to these individuals in the pre-internet age, unironically, by the objects of their affection. It’s the original damning with faint praise. The “She has a great personality” for the male. A girl is asked what she thinks of this guy, who is always polite to her, offers her help unsolicited, and never turns her down when asked for a favor within his power. He makes it clear that he thinks she’s the bee knees, which may or may not mean she’s aware of his romantic aspirations. At the very least she knows he thinks highly of her, and I feel as much for girls who think they’ve found a true platonic friend as the guys who think it’s just the infancy of the next great romance. Both parties are fulfilling needs, and I belive more often than not idealism and wishful thinking leads them to believe they’re on the same page. But anyway, this girl is asked, what does she think of this guy? “He’s nice.” she says, because he’s been a great friend to her, but she doesn’t have romantic interest in him for whatever reason. The guys in question get used to this description of themselves. When sharing stories with other guy friends in similar situations, it becomes clear they are all “Nice Guys” and they feel comforted that they’re not alone in their situation. Eventually, as they meet more and more “nice guys” the sentiment becomes less a consolation prize that “at least she thinks positively of me” and more “oh, all the effort I put into earning her affections and it can be summed up in one generic word every other girl in the world uses for every unwanted guy”. Nice Guy becomes a self-deprecating identifier. “Yeah, I’m a NICE guy. Go me.”
Nice Guys crave outside validation, they have somehow absorbed the notion that there is nothing intrinsically valuable they have to offer, so they assess what they have a shot at changing to create that value. Faces and body types are hard to change, behaviour (at least superficially) is easy to change. TV, novels, church, movies, and school tells us that we should all aspire to be considerate of others, generous to those in need, and humble in our achievements. Nice Guys think, I got the humble part down already, I’ll work my way up until others praise me, so I’ll never have to praise myself. But life and dating often disappoints, and many Nice Guys go on very divergent journies towards maturity, possibly never achieving the thing they want most, to be recognized as valued romantic partner.
Sorry for the length, and if it ramble too much.
That’s true. But I think that’s also a part of the problem. When you can’t find a match or even a date despite all of that, you’re running a high risk of starting to internalize the notion that you don’t posess any of the qualities above, and neither any other good or redeeming qualities whatsoever.
That’s a good point… at that point externalizing one’s self-hate seems almost a rational response. Of course, that something’s understandable doesn’t make it a good thing to do.
Not everybody externalizes their self-hate either.
But maybe that’s not the kind of people we’re supposed to be talking about here.
Indeed, but you can see that’s what’s happening here. We’re marrying the idea of non-alpha/non-success-object male-presenting people with less successful romantic strategies to behavior we find off-putting to behavior that is unacceptable. And then calling them uppity to top it off.
Remember folks, socially awkward amasculine guys are creepy and weird and undesirable and need to take responsibility (read: man up) but socially awkward girls are unconventionally attractive. (They totally are… ♥)
To be sure, I’m not into socially awkward guys, well… not into guys, though socially awkward guys often make me wish they were closeted girls, but I’m weird that way and I know it’s my own preference talking, as opposed to generalizable romantic advice.
Also, Jo, many of those traits are things that are only recognized in emotionally mature women. Maturity, itself, is something that tends to develop with age (not always, as some women, like Ozy, show profound maturity at a young age, and some women in menopause still don’t know what makes for a good mate).
Hopefully I can say this without sounding too much like Susan Walsh (Hooking Up Smart) – but it’s not unheard of for young attractive women to spend their youth attempting to monogamize attractive, successful non-monogamous alpha men who have no desire to settle down. If they mature (and coincidentally as their good looks fade) they begin to realize the attributes you mention above make for good men to settle down with. Many of those men are the types they passed up on when they were younger.*
Which would be fine, it’s not necessarily too late for them to turn over a new leaf – except, as Flyingkal pointed out, some of those men might have become bitter or otherwise ruined by extended periods of time alone and lacking in self-confidence.
* There is another obvious corollary with the stupid things men do to the women in their lives when they are younger – this is not a gendered problem – but it’s still a problem.
I think that a woman who puts on a short skirt and lipstick and hangs out at a coffee shop hoping to meet an attractive success-object man is expecting something from nothing. At some point it becomes a tautology – if you didn’t get a date, then obviously it’s because you have nothing to offer. To say that most Nice Guys have nothing to offer is simply not true. And to say that reality is the way it’s supposed to be is a fallacy, the naturalistic fallacy. To even suggest that the vast masses of Cosmo consuming women have realistic notions of relationships is every bit as laughable, if not more, as the notion of Nice Guys that it shouldn’t be just so damn hard. There are other cultures where men and women expect different things out of relationships than we do and they do just fine. I have lived in cities where women focused more on physical appearance and masculine roles, and I have lived in other cities where women focused more on financial success, and I have lived in cities were women didn’t try to judge men within the first 15 seconds of meeting them. So to say that “reality” is any one thing is simply not true. I know plenty of Indian couples and by and large, they seem a lot happier than most of the white American couples that I know, even though they got married through arranged marriages.
“That’s a good sentiment, but I don’t know that this is the place to do it, seeing as, well, the discussion isn’t remotely prefaced from a place of respect… there are dissenters, but we’re conflating personality with stress with traits that many find unattractive. (not me, but YMMV)”
Any suggestions for a good place to do it? Sorting out conflation and designing ways to work with the strongest contributing dimensions in parallell is part of my daytime job.
Seriously, fuck generalized romantic device.
Maybe if we didn’t chastize men and women who speak out about the unconventional things they like in the opposite (or same) sex, we wouldn’t have so many men and women who are down on themselves.
I’ll go first: I love women with big noses. And women taller than me (I’m 6’2″). Also, women who speak up against me. I also like women who don’t always wear makeup.
As a matter of fact, I was speaking with an Indian friend and his wife at a party and they explained to me that they couldn’t even imagine going through the American dating process. They view our dating culture immature and entitled on the whole, not just the “Nice Guys” or any other such thing. The wife explained that in her culture, it’s acknowledged that whomever you marry, things won’t be perfect, and that both men and women are brought up from childhood to be accepting, loving, and to have good conflict resolution skills. She views our culture of “following your heart” to be ultimately selfish and entitled, full of people who do not posses the skills to maintain a mature relationship or even try to work out their own problems. So in their culture, they focus on finding happiness through personal growth and maturity, not through marrying the “right” person. I have always thought that as well, as a problem with our own culture.
Dungone, 2:35 pm:
Spot on 🙂
I love women with big noses. And women taller than me (I’m 6’2″). Also, women who speak up against me. I also like women who don’t always wear makeup.
Ditto on every count. (Though I also like small noses… really it’s the uniqueness of a feature I find alluring, typically.)
It does make me smirk, thinking about that, and transition… I’m living the great reply to an argument I had with a radfem back when I was 17… she asserted, after running out of evidentiary claims, that I had a problem with strong women. Every once in a while I just want her to be here so I can say, “Hah!” with a cheerful spitefulness.
“I suppose it’s fortunate for me that I was trans as well, because transition, hell, for that matter, coming out, really was the best dating strategy, looking back on it.”
It fixed the gender role for me. Suddenly I didn’t need to approach, didn’t feel I couldn’t express feminity to a paranoid level, and didn’t think I was worthless.
People apparently agreed with me at some point, because I’ve been in an almost 3 years long relationship since. And have only had sexual contact after transitioning.
I like them any size and form, both top-down and sideways. Preferably no makeup, not overly shaved, temperamental, smart, likning to dance and with a strong silly side to their personality.
But the most basic is decent and respectful.
But we are still in the “I want this kind of candy!” mentality here. Dungones recent posts makes for a completely different perspective, that might be very well worth considering.
Well, I still think Jo, that we can have our cake and eat it too, when it comes to romantic love. We need to stop universalizing preferences is all… or at least, consider it an important form of activism when we fragment that. Because everyone is inherently desirable to someone… evolution works nicely that way.
Came to think of a quote, that I don’t remember exactly, but it goes something like this:
“You want to see a fool? Look for the ones who always go for the best of it.”
The prettiest girlfriend. The most succesful husband. The winning lottery ticket. The amazing bargain. Etc. A surefire recipie for failure, at least statistically.
I’m not sure exactly what it has to do with this discussion, but I think it has.
Here’s a slightly different take on things. Nice Guys (TM) are a form of People Pleaser, that is to say, codependent. Googling provides a search result such as this: http://www.candaceplattor.com/articles/recovering_from_codependency.htm
I’ve read plenty of things that are similar, but basically if you look at it this way, Nice Guys (TM) have pathological behavior that is self-defeating. If any of you have been severely depressed over the long term, you may recognize that depression has a cyclical pattern, it’s self-reinforcing.
This is similarly self-reinforcing and as a form of codependency it often causes the Guy to feel victimized, because they have no idea of the cycle they’re trapped in. Several factors compound this:
Despite human beings being able to perceive other people’s behavior, no one is psychic. If two people have different perceptions and thus different expectations of the outcome of certain behaviors – but surprisingly similar outlooks on that outcome, as they view the other person as some kind of user. Thus we arrive at the commonly used definition of the Nice Guy (TM) and view that those Guys hold.
Additionally, this cycle compounds and so these Guys become victims of PUA thinking, furthering that destructive meme by attempting to carry it out (like a depressive trying to self medicate via drinking, they’re engaging in an unhealthy an counter-productive behavior that society encourages).
Hopefully that makes sense, I’m tired and having read most of this thread, my brain is a bit fried (I know, EE). I think the common critique of Nice Guys (TM) is a bit ableist, since I do think that it sincerely is a mental health issue. I’m not trying to erase the negative experiences of women who’ve dealt with these Guys, but I think there’s more than one way to perceive them. I view them as being the product of a cycle of abuse and potentially the continuer of that cycle.
Eh, I hope this has been inoffensive, but as a recovering codependent and someone who still struggles with over a decade and a half of depression, that’s my take on it.
But that is not what evolution says at all. The two primary selection mechanisms in evolution are natural selection and sexual selection. In natural selection, individuals who are ill-adapted to their environment tend to die before having offspring. In sexual selection, individuals who are unattractive to the other sex are selected against in mating (except in situations where no other mates are available, eg. animals in captivity), and also do not have offspring.
In human terms, this means that people who are unattractive (for reasons of poor physique or personality defects) are selected against, and go on to live lonely lives. However, not all Nice Guys belong to this group, nor do all male members of this group become Nice Guys. The Nice Guy is just an example that both feminists and “alpha males”, curiously, both tend to find particularly despicable and offensive.
As for your earlier post:
Well, I do, as a matter of fact. My apologies for becoming personal, but I am an inherently unattractive person, at least in comparison with other males in my age group (and social class, I guess). While I am not exceptionally physically ugly (although I certainly am no prize pick!), I do suffer from a neurological disability and a number of co-morbid illnesses that work together to make me a thoroughly unlikable individual. I am not very good at understanding social expectations or non-verbal communication, and many day-to-day activities are difficult for me to deal with. I rigidly follow a predictable daily routine, mentally rehearse all my social interactions, and have difficulty keeping in mind which activities and mannerisms are considered “appropriate” for a man. I have none of the “natural charisma” associated with what some would call “alpha males” (or even “beta” ones – I am a prime example of what the PUA crowd calls an “omega”). Most importantly, I have no natural capacity for empathy, making it completely impossible for me to intuit a partner’s needs, desires, boundaries or emotional state – and my former partner found it downright insulting that I had to try and analyze these things intellectually, since this was a sign that I did not truly love her, but just regarded her as a mental puzzle to solve. I simply am ill-equipped to function well as the love interest of someone.
Given a choice between an autistic man like myself and a non-autistic man, it would not be reasonable for any woman to choose the former – and it would not be reasonable for such a man to expect any woman to. This is in fact precisely how evolution selects against such things! And that is all right. Of course men like me have “something to offer”, and that is why we can still make good friends for women – just not good love interests.
I am not sure I understand why you find it a misandristic double standard? It is just a fact of life that some individuals are selected against sexually. It happens in every species that has sexual reproduction (which is largely why sexual reproduction exists at all, it adds an additional selection mechanism as opposed to asexual reproduction), it seems to me bizarre that humans should be the only species where it does not.
By the way, while I hate being male, I am fairly certain that I am not trans. I have two friends who are trans (a transman and a transwoman), and the feelings they have expressed about their body image and their gender identity are not something I can recognize in myself at all – I do not feel female or even non-male, I just feel like a male who is not terribly good at being male. I do sometimes find myself wishing that I was a genderless creature – but unfortunately, I am not.
I completely agree. Since we human beings are imperfect creatures living in a harsh, imperfect world, compassion, tolerance, forgiveness and charity are what we all deserve most of all, and thus also what we all should strive to give one another.
I will join in, in the “unconventional things I like in my preferred gender”, although as outlined above, in my case it is fairly irrelevant:
I have a thing for women who do not wear makeup, who do not shave their legs or armpits, and who dress comfortably. I prefer small breasts to large ones, and very much like women with a little more upper body musculature than what is commonly considered classically feminine. I like slight asymmetry in facial features, and I also like large teeth. My primary personality turn-ons are kindness, humour and intelligence, all three of which are in fact prerequisites for me being romantically interested in someone at all.
I am not generally in favour of arranged marriages (because I believe that a person should have the right to choose his or her partner, not have a choice imposed by authorities, however well-intentioned), but I agree that the perfectionism prevalent in Western dating culture is probably a large impediment to happiness. In the “part three” thread, people are currently discussing the “meat market” metaphor, and I ponder that perhaps market thinking is at least partially to blame for this perfectionist attitude: In a market with a vast supply of eligible partner material, why settle for anything less than the absolute best one can get? Rather than striving to become good at resolving conflicts with a partner, people in our part of the world seem to attempt to just find someone where no conflicts will ever arise (which is generally unrealistic and unreasonable).
@RocketFrog, for what it’s worth, some of the arranged marriages that I am aware of work differently than what you might expect. Sure, some of the more traditional groups still make arrangements from childhood, but not all, plus I know a number of people who chose not to marry their arranged spouse. Some other families go through a matchmaker who looks at a number of social and spiritual factors and presents lists of likely candidates. The family then sends their son or daughter on a date with these candidates until their son or daughter approves of one they like. After that, marriage arrangements are made. Basically, it’s like having a somewhat unbiased third party find someone they think you’d be happy with, let you sign off on it, and skip the entire dating game. I think that the most important goal of all of these traditions is to instill a sense of duty and mature responsibility into people. If you know you’re going to have to spend the rest of your life with someone and work things out, you tend to think differently. Flaky beautiful people don’t do well in that society.
Also, I think that Westerners really overestimate just how difficult it is for real love to form. Love is buy-in, sort of the way most people who buy a car can’t decide between 5 different models but once they drive one off the lot, they learn to fall in love with it and take pride in their choice. In Western culture we focus on the part of the decision process where we can’t make up our mind and teach, telling people to follow their hearts and look for the one and only spouse who is somehow perfect – without perfection, we believe that relationships will fail. In Eastern cultures, they focus on accepting your decision, realizing that it won’t be perfect and that people are responsible for making the best of the cards they’ve been dealt with. To Westerners, this might seem like a nightmare – having to accept another human being who is less than perfect. But Westerners aren’t necessarily any happier. Marriage in the Western world is a failing institution, with less and less people choosing to get hitched. So it’s hard to say which mating system is really the superior one. Personally, I feel like we’ve gone back to the caveman days where our baser instincts dominate the process.
dungone: I did not mean to indicate that *all* arranged marriages are necessarily of the imposed variant. I have known many people from India and Pakistan (I work at a university with a very international faculty and student body), and am well aware that that particular custom comes in many different forms.
I am also not certain which system is superior – or even if it can be considered a simple matter of superior vs. inferior. In smaller Western communities in the not-too-distant past, you would find a similar mentality that love was essentially buy-in (…because otherwise, it is an awfully convenient coincidence that everyone’s One And Only True Love just happened to live in the neighbouring village!), and would involve adjusting to sharing one’s life with a less-than-perfect person (the corollary of which is accepting that one’s self is also less-than-perfect). I have sometimes reflected that people (at least in the West) seem to have much more realistic standards with basically all other lifeforms they share their lives with than their (prospective or actual) romantic partners: They are forgiving of physical flaws and personality defects in their friends, children, siblings, pets, parents and colleagues, sometimes even coming to appreciate said flaws and defects. But romantic partners are held to an unreasonable standard of perfection.
I think the malign and authoritarian variant of arranged marriage as well as current Western dating culture are both impediments to happiness for many people, and are in fact major causes of unhappiness. Speaking personally, the Western dating culture certainly was for me, until I opted out of the whole racket.
@EE: “… but it’s not unheard of for young attractive women to spend their youth attempting to monogamize attractive, successful non-monogamous alpha men who have no desire to settle down. If they mature (and coincidentally as their good looks fade) they begin to realize the attributes you mention above make for good men to settle down with. Many of those men are the types they passed up on when they were younger.*
I think you bring up a key point…for any gender, it takes time via trial and error to figure out what YOU want vs. what you think you want or what you have been told you want. Many men date a lot of teh crazee bitches before they decide that that quieter girl from the bookstore might be a better match. Adolescence and young adulthood is not the prettiest of times for most people…hormones and growing up and figuring shit out by the school of hard knocks, yikes! But many of us, judging from some of the very personal posts here and including my own experience as a sort of awkward introverted girl, sit on the sidelines observing, either by voluntarily or involuntarily, for a bit longer than other, but as people get a little older and a little wiser, a lot of the bumps get smoothed out and people are more approachable and more compassionate. So it does get better for many, but no guarantees in life in general
I think there is a real need for a new self-designator for people, especially but not only cis het guys, who share a certain set of experiences and difficulties with the current regime of “dating.” It has to be a term which is neutral and allows for self-respect and dignity.
“Nice guys” tends to be at hand but I think this is “unreclaimable.” The original use (from the so-called “nice guy whine”) is not a good idea, as it implies either a superiority or inferiority when what is wanted is to describe what is just a difference.
In general it is not good for people to consider themselves superior to others, and a lot of the problems that feminists see with guys who self-designate that way come from just exactly the “defensive” self-designation itself. But it is an equally bad idea for people to take on board the idea that they are worse than others, which is a likely outcome of using the so-called feminist “nice guy TM” concept against themselves. (Ironically this is the precise outcome also of using prevailing cultural concepts of masculinity against themselves.)
The “beta” and “omega” ideas imply a hierarchy and ranking which is also inappropriate and which set up self-reinforcing dynamics which can self-sabotage the person who applies them. The PUA “average frustrated chump” has the mark of a con-man salesman to it, if he can sell you on thinking you are that he can get you to buy whatever he is selling.
“Loveshy” is better but still defines people in terms of a lack. Ideally we want a term which applies to a difference in processing and approach, and somewhat in self-presentation, a difference which may persist after romantic success (and which may have features in its favor otherwise).
I don’t have such a term yet. And there is something to be said for not labeling people, others or ourselves, at all. Labels channel perception and create fallacies, and all people are different. Still, my discussion of the problems with labels can point us to something important. There is a universal human need, and right, to the kind of self-acceptance that we need in order to be good to others. Negative and labeling terms work against this kind of deep self-acceptance and they should be avoided. Positive self-designators, especially those which do not imply some rank vis-a-vis others, can be helpful in this process.
I appreciate the sentiment, but considering the words that have been reclaimed, I don’t think any word is truly beyond reclamation, but then, this is just one trannydyke’s opinion.
Honestly, I think most Nice Guys primarily perceive themselves in terms of a lack. I know I did.
I just wanted to say I’ve really enjoyed reading your comments over the past couple of days. They feel personably warm, very well written, and well thought out.
Perceiving yourself in terms of a lack is a trap. It is also wrong. The world presents itself differently to different people, and we can’t know exactly the situations and contexts another person is in, nor the kind of “equipment” they bring to it, from their personal nature and history. Situations which are easy as pie to some people are difficult and contradictory to others. This is not wrong. What it is, is diversity — something which people say they value, but in practice most people think that others should be just like themselves. (That is in THIS culture, others are different this way. I have heard this blamed on the verb “to be,” which may not exist in more tolerant cultures, or that’s the theory…)
Simple words of contempt that apply to an identity are ripe for reclamation. Words which already relate to a ranking system in society, or which are automatically translated to “good person” or “bad person” are not so reclaimable. Now, if we wanted to call ourselves “cis het faggots” — that might be interesting (though Quiet Riot Girl is doing something different with that term).
Good post, humbition.
Love-shy isn’t broad enough, anyway… it describes men so shy that they can’t date at all or even consistently have female friends, not guys who can get female friends, or make failed advances.
@Humbition: Good post! I enjoyed it.
The associations to the word “nice” seems to be a large part of the debate.
I’ve often discussed this with women who’ve said “I don’t want a NICE guy! Nice guys are indecisive and “Mawkish”(can’t find a good english word for it), and where’s the attraction in that?!”
To which I retort “I don’t mean “nice” as in indecisive and “mawkish”. I mean “nice” as the opposite of anotty and unpleasant”.
Here is the flaw with the Nice Guy (TM) theory is that any guy who fears rejection, finds way to attract women, is frustrated with rejection, and likes Asia is going to consider the Nice Guy (TM).
And what is a Nice Guy (TM) according to so many people it’s a manipulative, closet misogynist.
But why are some consider a closet misogynist just because he wants to be friends with a woman first before becoming something romantic? Why is he manipulative for not liking rejection? Or find ways to attract women he likes? I find to be incredible hypocritical since Nice Girls also complain about being friend zoned and also fears rejection. Who also finds ways to attract men. Who are friends with men and hoping that he will return her feels. Yet I rarely see any articles about the Nice Girl (TM).
Would it make the argument any better if there were about talks about the Nice Girl? I’m afraid not. Since the core of the argument lays with critcizing the shy and the introverted for not conforming to traditional ways of courtship.
It’s so fascinating to me that the “Friend Zone” is seen automatically as rejection in this discussion. And yet there is no sense of entitlement from Nice Gals/Guys that it *should* have gone a different way? Absolutely none? The commenter above who said that if he didn’t want to sleep with his female friends he wouldn’t be friends with them at all made me sad, because it seems like one more way of saying that a person’s worth is in her fuckability.
I think we live in awesome times, when men and women can be friends, and we don’t have to want to fuck each other (or have gone through a cycle of attraction/rejection) to be friends. A friend isn’t someone I don’t want to fuck but can’t think of a good reason to ditch from my social circle, a friend is a relationship on its own, with excitement at seeing the person and affection and shared happy experiences and leaning on each other in hard times. Our parents and grandparents didn’t have that, or if they did it wasn’t sanctioned by the larger culture and they had to put up with a lot of awkwardness and teasing and suspicion about what was “really” going on.
One of the best decisions I made for myself (in dating/friendship) etc. and something that cured some of my own Nice Guy/Gal tendencies was to stop being friends with people I don’t feel actual positive friendly feelings for and whose company I don’t actively seek out/enjoy, regardless of gender. I don’t have to have a good reason and the person doesn’t have to do anything specifically objectionable, it’s just, life is short, why hang out with people you aren’t really excited to hang out with? So when a first date goes ok but not well, and the other person is like “Ok, but can we still hang out as friends?” if I’m not feeling a strong click of “YES, THIS IS ONE OF MY PEOPLE, I WOULD TALK TO THIS PERSON FOR HOURS ON END,” I politely decline. And when someone rejects me and says “but I’d still like to be friends” I say “Sure, thanks” (to be polite and end the conversation) and then I don’t get in touch with that person for a good while, if ever. If we’re meant to be friends, we’ll run into each other again, because we truly like the same stuff and travel in the same circles.
I have male friends who I genuinely love and count on a lot more than my actual brothers, and I have to say all of them are pretty foxy specimens with good manners and handsome faces and hilarious and talented and intelligent (just like my badass female friends) but what brings us together isn’t mutual groiny longings for one another, it’s a shared love of stuff we love. We have friend chemistry. We have simpatico. We have surviving grad school and being broke together, and making movies, and being kind to one another, and loving the same pop culture. I don’t emasculate them and try to keep them in “their place” as my friends, it’s just never occurred to us that we would have a different kind of relationship. It’s a subtle reframe, from “She sees me ONLY as a friend (like something got lost)” to “She sees me as a friend! Cool, let’s go to the movies!”
What I would love to see is the whole idea of The Friend Zone get retired. Date or don’t date. Be friends or don’t be friends. If someone is viewing friendship with me as some lesser kind of relationship, chances are that this is not a good friendship that either of us really wants to be in, so let’s set each other free from that whole idea?
JenniferP: It occurs to me that the “Friend Zone” concept might in fact be the key differentiator between the benign and malign forms of the “nice guy”.
The benign form is a romantically passive, frustrated man who has female friends that he sometimes develops unrequited crushes on. The malign form is a romantically passive, frustrated man who befriends women, in the hope that it will lead to sex or romantic companionship.
The situations are similar, but the underlying psychology is very different. The former type appreciates his female friends as friends, the latter does not.
“The benign form is a romantically passive, frustrated man who has female friends that he sometimes develops unrequited crushes on. The malign form is a romantically passive, frustrated man who befriends women, in the hope that it will lead to sex or romantic companionship.”
I’d say the benign form is a romantically passive man who befriends someone and might later develop feelings for her, or might not know how to express interest in her, while not wanting to be too forward (because it might be seen as sexual harassment, even if only in his ethical system) about it.
It has nothing at all with feeling entitled to a relationship because they’re nice. They can be smart and good-looking too. The point is they don’t make a move for a reason or another. And she doesn’t either, regardless of how she feels about him, probably because the script says he ought to.
The malign for is a demonization of that guy because he expresses any frustration at all of his lack of success, or the fucked up gender roles that lead to his lack of success.
Other representation taken as Nice Guy TM? Strawmen that assume the state of mind of people and presume entitlement or that calling yourself nice is enough to qualify as being nice (ie benign nice guys above, they don’t claim to be nice, they’re told they are, by pretty much everyone they know).
Oh and “being nice” is not being a tasteless, uninteresting person. Or even ‘basic decency’. It’s actually the positive trait of being nice. Like being generous, attentive, studious taken together can mean “good person”. Being nice is not the basic state of non-murderers. It’s a positive state that is probably accompanied by other qualities, that people he has a crush on never get to discover, because they don’t ask him, and he won’t tell them without it coming to that (because that would be bragging).
Leonard Hofstater (typo?) has a freakishly high IQ, no doubt, discovers stuff about physics that few people can do. And he’s treated like so much trash usually, because people don’t get past his looks to even get to know about that…or if they do they even treat his genius as a negative.
Because everyone knows knowing everything about reality shows and reading Cosmo is millions times better than being somewhat geeky.
Thankfully, now with online dating, a geek like Leonard could easily find a match. A geek that isn’t as gifted as Leonard (ie that don’t have the potential to earn Nobel prizes, or become the next Bill gates) could also rather easily find a match. Because anti-geekdom from mainstream unites geeks, at least more than it does not. Making a geek+geek couple more stable, or at least less conflicting on the hobbies heading – while maybe even eliminating the presumption that he has to dominate or initiate everything or bust.
The normal way that people enter in relationship is by being already in relationships. Friends introduce you to other people or invite you to party where you meet other people. So having friends is normal. But on the other hand if a Nice Guy(tm) obsess over a woman that is not interested in him, she will not introduce him to other women, she will not invite him to parties and she will probably tell all other women that he’s a creep. That’s the Friend Zone.
Not really, the Friend Zone is someone with a madonna/whore complex mentally putting you in the box labeled madonna. Unfortunatly someone got the idea that all women have a madonna whore complex and confirmation bias did the rest.
Perhaps I screwed up the pragmatics, but that is what I meant. By “unrequited crush”, all I meant was that the benign nice guy develops feelings for his female friend that she does not share (and she might in fact be unaware of his feelings).
The malign form, in my opinion, is exemplified by “former Nice Guys” who roam PUA circles or become MGTOW and then rant about how their former nice behaviour did not succeed in getting them what they wanted. They are psychologically unlike the benign form for precisely this reason: An actual nice guy befriends his female friends simply because he likes them and wants to be their friends, a “Nice Guy” does so as a means to an end. This is why I do not like the “stages” terminology Ozy uses in the OP; I do not think a “stage I Nice Guy” is at all a precursor to any of the other “stages”, he is a completely different kind of person who just happens to share the same mate-seeking strategy. He does not deserve being lumped in with the others.
Definitely not. Nearly all the people I personally find interesting are rather quiet, nice people, who are good to others because it is the right thing to do, and who think interesting thoughts, and make interesting things. On the contrary, many people who superficially seem like “interesting assholes” – who loudly boast of their many interesting exploits in life – frequently turn out to be incredibly bland.
Yes, it is actually rather sad. Many genuinely good people are rendered unattractive in practice because of a stupid, culturally mandated dating script that makes no sense. When I identified the benign nice guy as a “frustrated romantically passive man”, this is because he is placed in a situation in which it is very easy to become frustrated. He is not frustrated because he is a bad person He is frustrated because he is thwarted by stupid social conventions.
I think his name is spelled “Leonard Hofstadter”, I remember one of the show’s creators mentioning that he was a fan of the computer scientist and writer Douglas Hofstadter. Howard Wolowitz from the same show even dresses like Douglas Hofstadter and has an identical haircut, which is probably not coincidental.
Unfortunately – although I may be wrong – it seems to me that there are more straight male geeks around than there are straight female geeks. This means that unless they are open to polyandrous relationships, there will necessarily be some male geeks that still go alone. A Leonard, who is less awkward, would have a higher chance of success than a Rajesh or a Sheldon (well … a non-asexual Sheldon, at any rate). Some (of any gender) will be too shy to use online dating services, or consider it shameful or a cop-out to do so.
A semi-related observation: The happiest, most stable and harmonious couples I have personally known started their relationships as close friends centered on shared interests, and had known each other for a long time before any romantic bond or sexual relation formed. These people are also complete geeks.
An even less related observation: I think geeks are more generally united about their geeky interests and activities, rather than as a response to anti-geekery.
A nitpick: I personally think that the only thing having a freakishly high IQ means is that a person is freakishly good at solving IQ tests.
An aside: I admire your compassion for romantically unsuccessful, awkward men.
I don’t think that women can have the Madonna/Whore complex the way some men have it. I think guys Friendzone themselves.
no more mr nice guy:
Then I have misunderstood the Friend Zone concept. I thought it meant the state of being permanently “friend material, but not romantic partner material”.
If someone tells others that a friend of theirs is a creep, then I do not really think that that person can meaningfully be considered a friend at all.
“Unfortunately – although I may be wrong – it seems to me that there are more straight male geeks around than there are straight female geeks.”
I think you’re off there. Admitting you’re a male geek can be a form of rebellion against mainstream culture. Sort of saying “screw you sport-obsessed masculinity mandate people, I’m my own person!” It’s something you do AFTER you lost cultural value, when you think cultural value itself is a lost cause.
There is less incentive for women to reject the beauty-obsessed mandate, at least this overtly, because you still have cultural value (as a popular person, to a point) in comparison. A geeky guy is considered undateable. A geeky girl is considered a geeky guy’s dream girl (even if Big Bang Theory sometimes portrays the geek girls on it as ‘second choices’ for the geek guys – I also don’t really know why, given a non-geeky girl would think pretty much 95% of the guy’s interests is boring and loser stuff, while a geeky girl would probably participate herself.)
And that’s before looks. I’m considering average looks geeky guys and girls here. Being geeky itself is considered to make a guy undateable, while it doesn’t a girl on its own (I’m not considered undateable and I’m trans, aspie and a major geek, so yeah – femaleness gives me major points on that front).
I’m a pansexual trans female geek though, not exactly a straight cis female geek.
I don’t know, maybe this is in left field, but my experiences with self-proclaimed ‘nice guys’ I felt like it was more an issue of people struggling with what society tells us to value in a partner that was causing a problem with the ‘nice guy’ finding love than that he wasn’t trying to ask people out or expected it to come his way. Maybe that’s not the case for everyone obviously, but what I observed is that society puts emphasis on prettiness and success as the key factors for finding a partner. At least in reference to Het relationships (as I don’t know enough about other types to have an opinion), couldn’t we all agree there’s an expectation for both men and women to be beautiful and hopefully wealthy to be worthy of being wanted? Again, in my experience, being a Nice Guy or a Nice Gal is also code for ‘I know I don’t look a perfect 10, but I’m interesting/smart/funny/kind/etc. so being nice should help bring me to par and be desirable to the opposite sex!’ and bitterness follows when it doesn’t. I don’t think that the phenomenon of getting angry at the opposite sex for rejection (real or perceived) is a solely male experience, though we hear about it a lot I think because of the idea that all women must be automatically desirable because presumably they may have boobs and a vagina available and presumably that’s all men really require. (Obviously not accurate, and obviously damaging to all sexes and persuasions, but obviously a fallacy that people buy into or we wouldn’t be here.) so it’s only men who have trouble finding a partner because all they’re looking for is ANYTHING whereas a woman is desirable to all by being a woman and can therefore be choosy? I call BS.
If I had a dollar for every “Nice Guy” I asked out because I thought that being a Nice Guy meant he wanted to fall in love and prioritized personality over appearance and therefore he’d give me a chance, only to be turned down and informed what they were looking for was someone skinnier, shorter, blonder (or once more red-headed) I’d be offering the next round of shots on me. I also think, for the record, that unlike the conventionally attractive women in the video EasilyEnthused linked, I don’t think that any of my male tabletop RP group wants to sleep with me, which is too bad cause I’m fucking rad.
So basically, every time later that those guys that denied me would complain about how Nice Guys never win and all the women they pine after don’t want them because they want Johnny Goldencock: Football Star instead and how women are shallow for not wanting a Nice Guy, I just wanted to crack a twig over their head. SOMEONE DID want them and she was into the same stuff and was kind and fun but apparently she wasn’t pretty enough and the same bullshit rejection that women give the Nice Guy for not being the Cool Guy is the same bullshit rejection that the Nice Guy gives the Nice Gal for not being the Hot Chick. Evil, vicious cycle and it all comes down to the fact that we admire standards of appearance and behavior that not everybody can or wants to emulate in order for acceptance. Or, at least, that’s been my experience on it.
“Friend Zone” can means many things:
— A woman can be interested to be friend with a guy – not to become a girlfriend.
— A Nice Guy is too shy to ask a woman and he put himself in the “Friend Zone”. That was Ozy example.
— A Nice Guy(tm) believe that because he’s doing all sorts of thing for a woman, he’s her friend and she will become eventually his girlfriend while in fact she’s not interested at all by him. The guys think that he’s in the “Friend Zone” while for her he’s in the “Creep Zone”.
What you’re describing are Nice Guys(tm). Guys that believe they are entitled to a woman. The guys have high standard and obsess over some type women and reject all the others women. A few years ago, in alt.support.shyness, there was a guy that had a woman that was chasing him and was constantly calling him. He refused to return her calls because he found her boring and after that he started bitching that women are picky.
The “Friend Zone”, at least as I use it, is not a congenital thing. A specific woman(presumed) “friend zones” a specific man(presumed), and she(etc.) does it by rejecting him or dumping him with the phrase “but we can still be friends!”.
It’s not a MALICIOUS thing; it actually SEEMS (at least to people who do it) like a very nice thing, because, hey, who doesn’t want more friends? Unfortunately this is a case of good intentions paving the road to hell, because what actually happens is usually that he can’t get over his romantic feelings for her and goes through a lot of pain and UST before some kind of FEELINGSBOMBS eventually drop and the friendship ends. (Quite possibly with him feeling used afterwards! Because he’s been treating this as a trial period while she’s been assuming he’s totally an actual friend who is doing nice things for her out of the kindness of his heart and not because he thinks he’s in some kind of Love Audition!)
Purely anecdotally: Nearly all the “geek communities” I have had any contact with have had vastly more men than women. This might be a function of local culture, but it seems to me that other geeks, of any gender, say a similar thing.
Women who are not considered physically beautiful might have such an incentive; I can imagine that the beauty-obsessed cultural mandate may cause such women a lot of suffering.
And unfortunately, that often means that he becomes undateable, out of a combination of women not being interested in him (because they consider him undateable) and the self-destruction that some such men eventually succumb to.
Yes, and I actually think many geeky guys agree with this consideration. I certainly did. Before I decided to remove myself from the dating pool entirely, when I was younger, I dreamt of meeting a woman who would not just tolerate (or try to “fix”), but actually appreciate my odd and nerdy thoughts and interests and mannerisms, and have her own odd and nerdy thoughts and interests and mannerisms that I could appreciate as well.
The unfortunate flip side, though, is that a geeky guy is not exactly considered a geeky girl’s dream guy.
I suppose I was being unnecessarily exclusive, my apologies for that. I should have written “male geeks interested in female geeks” and “female geeks interested in male geeks”, as that would also include bi- and pansexual people.
I am undateable, but then, I am a cis, autistic male major geek who did not exactly win the body lottery either. As we have discussed in other threads, this is why I chose to stop tormenting myself by trying, and instead focusing on being a happy undateable cis autistic male major geek who did not exactly win the body lottery. 😉
@ RocketFrog : “The unfortunate flip side, though, is that a geeky guy is not exactly considered a geeky girl’s dream guy.”
Really? I’m not trying to detract from the conversation, but I don’t see that so much. But I also think things like that can vary really wildly within smaller societies or regions within a community, but I’ve felt like all the popularity of geekiness with the internet and games and such has been actually increasing the desire for either geeky guys or guys that at least mimic some geekiness (referring to traditionally hetero matches, anyway.)
I agree, although it seems to me that the typical cultural expectation is highly gendered: Women are expected to be beautiful, men expected to be wealthy.
Furthermore, I think there is an ill-defined personality component involved as well. A wealthy man is still not considered worthy of being wanted if he fails at being sufficiently “cool” and “manly”. A beautiful woman is still not considered worthy of being wanted if she is insufficiently “feminine”. And your preferred deity or lack thereof forbid that either of them was “weird”. Success or beauty are apparently regarded as necessary, but not sufficient, for being considered worthy of being wanted.
I think this is one of the differences between the benign and malign forms of nice guy / gal. The benign form is nice because it is their nature to be nice, and because they think that their nice behaviour is the right thing to do. The malign form regards it as a way to make themselves more desirable. But both can become frustrated or bitter over their loneliness and over their non-functioning mate-seeking strategy.
I personally think lots of women are angry at men for exactly the same reason. They just tend to frame it differently. I certainly have personally heard lots of women rant about how all men only want large-boobed skinny blonde bimbos, or that men can’t handle strong successful women. This is, in my view, precisely an instance at anger directed at the other sex because of rejection.
And that is in fact an utterly horrible idea, because of its implications about both sexes. It implies that men have no other criteria for choosing a romantic partner than “any random person who has a particular genital configuration” – it completely erases the fact that women’s personalities even have importance to men. Furthermore, it implies that women who happen to not be considered desirable must necessarily be extremely horrible people, so horrible that their horribleness (horribility? 🙂 ) outweighs the fact that they have female genitalia.
It is obviously not a situation I have personally been in, but I can imagine that the idea that all women are automatically attractive because they are women must be very, very painful for women who are not considered attractive, whether for reasons of physique or personality. The success expectation does similar things to unsuccessful men.
I think that many sufficiently desperate people, regardless of gender, will eventually delude themselves into thinking that what they are looking for is ANYTHING. But I do not really think anyone ever actually reaches the point that they are looking for anything; there are always caveats (as there should be!).
It is an instance of self-loathing, in fact, if a person has developed an opinion of him- or herself that he or she considers him- or herself willing to go out with ANYTHING with his or her preferred genital configuration (including a hateful, racist, sulfur-dripping ogre).
The only time in my life I ever asked someone out, she literally just laughed out loud at the suggestion. I am not entirely sure why. I felt very hurt at the time, but have since considered the situation, and concluded that she of course had every right to not feel attracted to me.
I hope you do not find this offensive, but those men also had the right to not feel attracted to you. Of course, this does mean that they do not get to later say that they cannot find anyone, without being assholes and liars.
I agree. Not being the Hot Chick seems to be more or less equivalent to not being the Cool Guy, and both states can lead to some quite ntense personal suffering in a culture that does not really value “nice” as much as it claims to. As I have said before, I think the best thing such people can do for ourselves is to learn to be happy despite not having the things in life that come so easily to the “hot” or “cool” (actually, it is quite amusing that those two words both denote a desirable state, yet are antonyms!), and learn to appreciate ourselves nonetheless.
(Oops. Sorry for poor sentence quality above n…n)
At that point in my discussion with Schala, I was trying to think in terms of “cultural expectations” – something that is admittedly not my strongest side.
Judging solely by popular culture and personal observations, a “geeky girl” is not considered an inherently undesirable creature, whereas a “geeky guy” is. Schala brought up the series “The Big Bang Theory”, which (although more markedly in its first season) frequently parodied this scenario. The geeky woman characters in the show (Dr. Leslie Winkle and Dr. Amy Farrah-Fowler) can and do pick up geeky men whenever they want, whereas the geeky men have a much, much harder time. This seems to me to be consistent with the general cultural consensus about these things.
Of course, real life is more nuanced.
@ RocketFrog : “Success or beauty are apparently regarded as necessary, but not sufficient, for being considered worthy of being wanted.”
Agreed with you. And although I also agree with your statement that there’s more of an expectation of beauty from women and wealth from men as the primary expectations for suitability- I think men are still held to the beauty standard (although different kinds of beauty) on top of the wealth standard where women don’t seem to be held to a wealth one because it would probably be seen as emasculating for a man to rely on a woman for her money, but sometimes even expected that a woman would on a man- which angers the egalitarian beastmaster. But I think in general we agree there, yes.
“And that is in fact an utterly horrible idea, because of its implications about both sexes.”
I do hope that I made it clear that I actually intended with that comment to point out how that was horrible for both sexes, cause if I didn’t, let me stress that I totally do. I’m completely in the camp that sexism and unhealthy attitudes about inter-gender relation or unhealthy relations between any partners just hurts everyone all around.
As for your comments about “I can imagine that the idea that all women are automatically attractive because they are women must be very, very painful for women who are not considered attractive, whether for reasons of physique or personality. The success expectation does similar things to unsuccessful men.” I say…. yes. And I recognise your response that it feels similar for a man, but that’s also part of why I routinely get so confused as to why that didn’t lend to making those two groups totally up for it with one another and why they keep chasing ideals that just make their lives harder. I mean yeah, obviously you can’t expect to fall for someone from a similarly disenchanted group just because they’re disenchanted, but you’d think maybe people might go, ‘you know, screw that! Who needs to chase ideals when there’s plenty of people just as tired of it as I am right here?’
Personally, I married someone I have an emotional and creative connection with and have been not only happily married for six years, but started a family and the whole nine yards and it’s been really awesome. Neither one of us is wealthy or beautiful to the standards of society and neither one of us performs femininity or masculinity ‘properly’ either- and these are things we personally feel improves our connection rather than strains it. Both of us have also had our brushes with trying to approach people who turned us down for not ‘meeting standards’, which in a way I think also gives us a sort of sense of solidarity as well. Like a solace in one another in addition to the solace in turning to building our own self esteem and happiness within ourselves, as you mention and which I agree with. However, as much as I cite knowing geeky men who can’t seem to conceptualize of something short of a 10, I have had some female associations in the past who balked that I didn’t ‘choose’ my husband for looks first, as they did, and that they “couldn’t imagine dating someone who wasn’t super hot.” It reminded me how pervasive all that crap really is, regardless of how we personally choose to deal with it in our own lives, which is a bummer for those trying to navigate it.
“I felt very hurt at the time, but have since considered the situation, and concluded that she of course had every right to not feel attracted to me.
I hope you do not find this offensive, but those men also had the right to not feel attracted to you. Of course, this does mean that they do not get to later say that they cannot find anyone, without being assholes and liars.”
No offense taken! I don’t get especially hurt or bothered if I’m turned down (or I should say ‘the times when I was turned down’, as I my partner and I choose a monogamous lifestyle) but I meant to imply was exactly what you finished with- that it wasn’t that a person turned me down who wasn’t attracted to me, but a person who claimed they were a Nice Guy that never got asked out and nobody wanted them who turned me (or someone I knew who had asked) down and then continued to say they couldn’t get anyone. It doesn’t bother me if someone’s not into me, it bothers me if my offer is seen as not existing because they want to keep complaining or maybe worse, that my idea was somehow laughable. Not interested=fine. Cruel=not kosher.
“(actually, it is quite amusing that those two words both denote a desirable state, yet are antonyms!)”
Ha! Yes, it is. Never thought of that.
Not sure whether to post this really quickly or hold out until I see another response so we can consolidate our two convos into one. XD I’ll go for really quickly!
@ RocketFrog : Gotcha- I understand what you’re saying. Although I haven’t seen much TV so I am not super familiar with the show you’re talking about, but I’ve definitely seen the trope. On the flip side, there’s characters like Liz Lemon on 30 Rock who have a terrible time getting a date or characters like Lem and Phil on Better Off Ted that are married or frequently dating- but I think it’s so rare to see that sort of change of pace that that’s part of what makes those two particular shows fun to watch. You’re right that the situation in that show you mention is probably the most common.
Referring to Geek Girls though, I definitely notice there’s some weird stuff going on where there are some really vocal “Geek Girls” that are also overtly traditionally attractive and hetero and into displaying for the male gaze which, one could argue, makes it easier for them to pick up a date when they want to because the behavior that’s going on there really isn’t a lot different than what’s happening in mainstream hetero male-female interaction. It’s just doing it with a video game controller and some 1up t-shirts on. I think that can give the impression that it’s easier for geek girls to get dates than it might actually be- as there are obviously fewer “geek girls” that look like what seems like the mental image of a geek girl a lot of people seem to come up with – but then that statement has a lot of assumption in it, so I’m not putting too much weight in it. I guess I’m just talking. However, considering what I suggested, I wonder what would be found if there was some way of observing the actual likelihood of truly geek women and truly geek men who aren’t Geek Superstars and how likely they are to be able to find a date. XD Oh well.
@BlackHumor, I’m nodding at your description here, and glad to see that the FEELINGSBOMB concept is spreading across the internet.
Someone who views a friendship with me as being Friend-Zoned will not be my friend very long, probably, and I’m glad that I’m of an age where I’ve grown out of my NiceGal “If just hang out here longing for you and being nice you will want me” tendencies, which believe me, were embarrassingly rampant in my youth.
I’d just like to stop by and point out that some people like the geeky guys. Me, for instance. Y’all are hardly undateable now and forever amen. Some people are looking for a guy to share their nerdy interests and weird quirks with. 🙂
no more mr nice guy:
“I think guys Friendzone themselves.”
In my case I have done that a lot. Everybody is different, but many women need the man to nonverbally (tone of voice, eye contact, body stance, etc.) send the message “My body wants your body for sensuous and sexual contact. That is part of why I am attracted to you.” to register that there is a potential suitor around. Making a move, as in initiating some kind of body contact (a hand on her arm, or anything not too rash really), though ideally a second step (after “- My body wants your body. – It does, hah? Well mine is quite iterested in yours, too. – Nice!”), can also substitute for the non-contact “wanting” message.
If the woman in question doesn’t register any of those, there is nothing for her to respond to. The guy himself has, in effect, said “I’m not interested in you as a woman, just as a friend.” Tragicomically, this means that it is the guy friendzoning the woman first, and she, in essence, says “So you want to be just friends? OK.”. If he later goes verbal and says that he wants her anyway, but still doesn’t show the nonverbal signs, she often is inclined to trust the nonverbal communication ahead of the verbal. As so many of us do in so many aspects of life. Luckily people are different. For some men and women starting out verbal and then start in on the nonverbal communication works just fine.
My friendzoning myself consisted of 1. Hiding, and even shutting down, my body wanting her body. 2. Not making a move, either. Because I was very afraid of the potential negative reaction. That fear was even, VERY irrationally, sometimes so strong that I shut out awareness of the womans (or girls, the first instance of this pattern I can recall is from when I was twelve years old) “My body wants your body” advances. Friendzoning HER, in response to her advances. Of course this is not how I perceived it at the time. I was convinced I was unwantable, couldn’t understand why, and felt miserable. (Wrote a song about it too, that I still 30 years later sing occasionally.)
I have later learned and realized that there were at least four or five occasions (possibly more) where I would have gotten a girlfriend if I hadn’t been too afraid to show and do, and too blind to see. Thankfully there have been instances of unusual circumstances through the years, so I have had a few girlfriends anyway. And the pattern has, by understanding it and working to change it, weakened considerably over the years. But I have friendzoned myself enough to have been involuntary celibate for the vast majority of my life.
But I don’t think I have ever felt entitled, thank (insert prefered diety/dieties here.).
As I was reading my favourite humour website today, I noticed that someone had thrown a link to this odd little piece of gender policing:
Number 7 on the list of undateable men? Lo and behold, it is our friend, the Nice Guy: “The Guy Who Can’t Get It Together To Ask You On A Date”. Why does he fail? Because his passive approach is an indication that the author of that stupid little list will be forced to “steer the ship” and “take charge”. Also, she mentions that if she “drops signals”, then she will “probably say yes” – this seems to me to be basically saying that a man is undateable if he is not a mind reader.
Of course, given that number 1 is to stay away from men who are not certain about their future careers, this should probably not exactly go into the deep wisdom for the ages file. But I think that number 7 ties nicely into our discussion here about cultural perceptions of romantically passive men.
I touched on this in the comments on Part Four, but for me and many other guys I know, the causation goes the other way: “a person’s fuckability is in her worth.” The things that attract me to someone as a partner vs. as a friend are pretty highly correlated. If I find someone awesome but am uninterested in dating them, it’s usually because they have something that I seem to be just wired to not be attracted to. (Family, students, co-workers, men, unavailable folks, or anyone at all if I’m unavailable.) I
Re geeky dating and undateability: I tend to agree that no one is undateable, but that neither is everyone equally dateable. In particular, I don’t see any good reason to believe that if there are 25% of men who are Type 1, then 25% of women will want to date Type 1 men; this applies in the current conversation to geeks. It’s not that there aren’t women who are attracted to geeky men, but basically that the supply/demand ratio is worse. And the level of dateability can and does get smaller than epsilon, for all epsilon > 0.
That is basically what I have been trying to say. As epsilon approaches zero, it eventually becomes wiser to simply not bother, and seek out other sources of happiness. Apparently, people think that this makes me a cynical monster of some kind.