Thursday, May 31, 2012

This Relationship Corner: Nice Guys and Good Men

Talk about relationships enough, and you'll come across the same question: why don't girls like "nice guys?" It can be frustrating. You're in the dating world, you see yourself as a Nice Guy, but it seems that all women hate you. They'd rather date jerks who treat them badly. Meanwhile you're ready to put them on a pedestal and worship them. Why can't they see how great you are? Especially after all the nice things you've done for them?

And this is where I start to see a problem with this attitude. The longer I hear a self-proclaimed "nice guy" rant about women, I hear the same thing come up over and over. "I'm nice to that woman, so I'm entitled to date her." You nice guys may not realize this, but that's basically your attitude. You are owed a girlfriend, and you are owed the affections of whatever female you find attractive.

Internet writer John Cheese came up with an interesting theory about this attitude. In movies, television shows, and video games, we see example after example of a man "winning" the affections of a women. She may not notice him at first. Perhaps she even hates him. But by the end of it, he does enough good deeds to completely win her over. In effect, she's his prize for all the good things he did. It doesn't matter what she wants or thinks. He's the hero, he's entitled to her.

This was a prevailing attitude for most of human history, and it was accepted back when women were considered property and you didn't marry for love, but for power, wealth, political or commercial reasons. Women were awarded to men who proved themselves worthy due to their wealth, military prowess, or status. Whether it's fairy tales or even the Bible, a man kills a dragon or a giant and the king awards one of his daughters to him.

Yes, sometimes in these stories the man is motivated by love, and that love may or may not be requited. And while the notion of marrying for romantic love was not completely unknown back then, it wasn't the only reason. Women were property, and if you wanted one, you traded a few cows, sheep, and maybe threw in a sturdy anvil.

Human society, in large part, was based on the idea that a man was owed a woman. In the last few hundred years, however, women decided that they'd like to be more than a womb auctioned off to the highest bidder. They wanted, and are entitled to I might add, all the same life choices that men are able to make, and that includes who they want to date and possibly marry.

And this is why nice guys are going to be forever frustrated. The nice guys feel entitled to women, but women have a say in the matter. If they don't feel like dating nice guys, they don't have to. Even if the guy helped them move and bought them dinner and helped them study for that test or sat up with them until four in the morning after their latest jerk of a boyfriend dumped them. Even after all that.

And this is when nice guys reveal that they aren't very nice at all. Talk to any nice guy about women. (If you're really brave, go on the internet and find a place where all the nice guys like to hang out.) What you'll hear will shock you.These nice guys are more than willing to go on a rant about how all women are awful, how they're too stupid to know what's good for them, how they must be mentally defective to always date jerks, and then they get really nasty.

What these nice guys don't realize is that while they think they are worshiping women, they are actually dehumanizing them. They are turning them into objects, possessions to be obtained. When something you own doesn't work like you want it to, we might try to see what the problem is and fix it. But if it still doesn't do as we want, we are tempted to destroy it in a field with baseball bats. (Yes, that was an Office Space reference.)

That same attitude carries over to women. Rather than try to see from her point of view, or even realize that she has a point of view, the nice guy just assumes that she's defective. That all women are defective. And the more that attitude festers, the more apparent it is to others, especially women. They realize that while this guy might be nice, he also gives her the creeps. She might not know why, but it's possible she's picking up on this attitude.

It's also possible that she realizes that she and this guy just aren't compatible. The reasonable man accepts this, deals with the disappointment, and moves on. The nice guy often can't wrap his brain around the idea that they aren't compatible. They project their own dreams and ideals onto the woman they're after. It's a common habit with any kind of attraction; we assume that the people we like are just like us and completely compatible. For a nice guy, his adoration is all the compatibility she needs, and if she can't realize that, then she must be defective. Again, he sees her as an object, not a person.

Nice guys have several options. Some double-down on their bitterness and misogyny. This can lead them to trying to become pick-up-artists, completing the process of treating women like objects, this time without the pretense of worship. I recommend against this path, because I have a better one. Leave behind the life of a Nice Guy and learn to become a Good Man.

The easiest way for me to define a good man is to compare him to a nice guy Goofus and Gallant style.

A Nice Guy does favors for others expecting something in return. A Good Man does a favor because it's a good thing to do and doesn't expect anything in return. 
That's the most important lesson I can teach a nice guy. If you are only doing things because you are expecting a return on your investment, stop doing them. Stop doing favors for women hoping they'll notice you or go out with you. This doesn't mean you can't be altruistic or caring or a good friend, but do things for the right reason. And sometimes it's all right if you don't do other people favors. You do have to worry about yourself, your time, and your well-being, too.

Not to mention, there are women out there who will take advantage of you. They know exactly how to string you along and keep you on the hook. If you want to keep yourself from that situation, ask yourself this: would you do her these favors if you knew, in no uncertain terms, that you'd never, ever go out with her? Of course, having just said this, I'm led to my next point.

A Nice Guy believes all women are the same. A Good Man recognizes that each woman is different.
Nice guys have a lot of theories on women, and they tend to start with the phrase "All women." The truth is that women are human beings, and humans are insanely complicated. Some of us are good, some of us are evil, many of us want to be good but have small and large flaws. Nice guys don't see these nuances. For them, all women are the same. All women date jerks over nice guys. All women only want to date rich men who can buy them expensive gifts.

If you want to be a good man, you have to realize that every woman is her own person. Get to know her and understand who she really is, flaws and all. A good man will realize when he isn't compatible with someone, and he'll accept it if a woman doesn't see him as compatible with her. It doesn't mean that it won't hurt to be turned down like that, but a good man doesn't turn rejection into hatred of all women. This leads me to my third point.

A Nice Guy sees himself as a victim. A Good Man accepts that rejection and relationship issues could be his fault.
Ultimately, when it comes to nice guys, they see themselves as the martyrs and women the ones throwing them to the lions. Nothing is ever their fault. If they are rejected, it's because women are incapable of recognizing someone who's good for them. It's because all women want jerks and reject the best guys for them. Not only does this mean that they blame women for rejecting them, but it's even worse if they actually get into a relationship.

It does happen. A nice guy can find himself on a date or even in a relationship. But the problem with seeing yourself as perfect, with believing that you are the best guy on the planet because you're so nice, is that when you have a conflict, when your relationship hits an inevitable snag, you never stop to think that you might have something to do with it. A good man will first look to himself to make sure that he isn't at fault, and he'll accept responsibility if he is.

Not so for the nice guy. The nice guy immediately blames his girlfriend. It's her fault they argued. It's her fault they're having trouble communicating. It's her fault that he got mad and called her those names. He's done everything for her, so clearly it's her problem. She's just as defective as all the women who turned him down. And when she breaks up with him, because why would she want to put up with that, he'll blame her and chalk it up to all women hating nice guys.

There is a lot more I could say on this subject, as each one of these points could be it's own article. But I hope that my basic point is clear. If you're just a nice guy,  maybe you aren't so nice. It's not always the women. It's you, and the sooner you accept this fact and learn to be a better man, the better.

I know this may not be easy to hear, and it's even harder to put into practice. I know this attitude all too well because I've been there. I've been the nice guy wondering why women weren't noticing me. I've also been the clueless martyr who didn't realize that I was the one causing my relationship problems. I get where you're coming from, nice guys, I do. The good news is that there is a better way. Stop being a nice guy. Be a good man.

What are relationships like in a fantasy universe? Find out in the book I wrote. 
Read it for free right now.

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