Nice Guys (or are they?)

In reading the comments that Nice Guys leave on various social media, it is apparent that we need to have a very honest discussion, without any snark, about the challenges faced by Nice Guys.
Challenge 1
Nice Guys often lament that they are left comforting their female friends during and after relationships with guys who are, well… not nice.  I do not doubt it is true.  I myself had a male friend who was always there for me while I struggled to extricate myself from a not so great relationship.  These fellows talk about the ways in which these other guys mistreat their friend, and how frustrating it is for them.  They watch this woman/girl putting up with all sorts of things that are not right, from controlling behaviours to cheating, meanness to violence.
What this challenge gets right:
On the one hand, they are right in that people do not always choose their intimate partners wisely, and often find themselves being mistreated by the person they are with.  And it is frustrating to watch someone you care about make disasterous choices and to be treated vilely.
What this challenge gets wrong:
This perspective is very judgemental, in which we are watching what our friend does and making a judgement about their choices.  If you want to be a supportive friend, you might want to strive for unconditional positive regard: viewing your friend as a wonderful, intelligent person, who is human.  Be supportive, which means not giving them advice, but when they ask for help that is within reason for you to give, then give it.  Friends do not judge their friends for their romantic or sexual choices
Gender Based Myth
Women always date bad men, the rebel, the bad boy <———>Rebellious men are attractive because bucking the norms is attractive (for men).
FACT: We are raised in a society that values masculine men and feminine women, meaning that strong, virile rebels are idolized in popular media and even children’s stories, while helpless young ladies swoon in their presence.  This may influence dating choices to some degree, but it is important to realize that not all female persons seek out ‘bad boys’, and that relationship skills are typically improved over time, and as people develop these skills they tend to seek partners who are equally skilled.
Challenge 2.
Nice Guys seem to never ‘get the girl’.  No matter how patient, no matter how nice they are, they are sidelined, watching these girl’s date other, not so nice guys.
What this challenge gets right:
I do not doubt that Nice Guys feel as if their niceness does not yield them the rewards of romance and or sex.
What this challenge gets wrong:
I believe the point that is often missed is that if you are being someone’s friend in order to prove that you are relationship worthy, or sex partner worthy, that you are not actually being a friend, and you are not actually being nice.
For me, finding out that my friend was merely waiting for me to want to have sex with him was hurtful.  It showed me that he was not a friend and did not value me as an individual, but instead saw me as the goal.  His offer of comfort, advice, friendly ear-these were all strategies he used to show me he is a desirable mate.   And I am not alone in feeling this way.  Women all over are speaking up against this type of “Friendship Expectation”.
Gender Myth:
Women are things to win in a contest, and being nice is a valid strategy to winning.
FACT: We are taught this from a very early age.  Men who rescue the damsel in distress are then rewarded for their efforts with the damsel. I assume it goes without saying that women have bodily autonomy and are not things to win.
Challenge 3
Women constantly friend zone guys, particularly Nice Guys.
What this challenge gets right:
I am sorry, but none of this is right.
What this challenge gets wrong:
There is no friend zone.  When we talk about degrees of intimacy I view it as a spectrum, with the far most lef form of intimacy is what I refer to as “less than”.  These are people on the bus, your neighbour six doors down that you have never spoken to etc.  They are less than acquaintances, less than coworkers.   Then as we meet someone and know their name they might move into the acquaintances part of this spectrum.  These are people you might know something about, can chat about their grandkids, dog or business, but you don’t know them and likely would not disclose personal information to them.   Then, as you get to know an acquaintance they might develop into a casual buddy.  These are people you might choose to spend time with, but have not developed trust with.  You might go to the movies, or even have sex with them, but they are unlikely to know your secrets.   The key here is you choose to spend time, but not to share your inner self with them.   Then there is friendship, which involves mutual trust and respect, disclosure and shared interests.  This is an actual relationship as both parties must engage in order for this to grow, they will need to share of themselves and value what is shared with them by the other.   Friendship covers a wide part of the spectrum, with everything from that long ago buddy you only see once a year, but it’s like nothing has changed, you are still close as ever, to deep abiding friendship that you invest a great deal of time and energy into, and get a great deal of comfort from.  Friendship overlaps with buddies and Intimate Relationships.  Intimate relationships are those that involve intimacy: the sharing of one’s personal thoughts, feelings and time with.  This does not require sex, but often lovers fall into this category, so it can include sex.
Again no friend zone, and friendship is not a consolation prize for not getting an intimate relationship.  Friendship is a valuable part of our lives, creating a support system for us.
Gender Myth:
Friendship is a second place to being in a relationship
FACT: Friendship is only viewed as second place in a relationship to those that are not really interested in friendship, but using the tools of friendship (being supportive, listening) in order to get something else, be it money, sex, romance
Challenge 4
Women do not like nice guys
What this challenge gets right:
It is true that many/some people dislike those who identify as a ‘nice guy’.
What this challenge gets wrong:
What we are describing on this page are not actually nice guys, but are persons who feel it necessary to point out that their lack of aggressive behaviour equals them being ‘nice’.
Gender Myth
Nice = not being a violent or non consensual aggressor
FACT: Nice is not the absence of violence, but instead is the presence of compassion, empathy, ehtical behaviour.  It is not nice to bait and switch (offer friendship but actually mean you want intimacy), it is not ethical to use your role as a support (friend) to gain you sexual or romantic acts.  Feeling friend zoned indicates a lack of empathy for the misogyny women face on a daily basis, from a very early age, in which they are constantly being reminded that men see their bodies as something to win, own, take.
Nice Guys are a byproduct of gender stereotypes that reinforce the notion that women (at least the desirable ones) are sweet, helpless little things that need rescuing, and once rescued are the reward.  I don’t even blame Nice Guys for feeling so put upon.  They too have been socialized to view women as a prize you win for specific behaviour, and that men are entitled to the reward of intimacy with women.
It is my most fervent hope that someday we will live in a society where these gender myths non existent, where the friend zone refers to somewhere you can hang out with your friends, (like an arcade), and in which people realize that nice is an actual quality, not the absence of a quality.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.