Sunday, 6 January 2013

Yes, Another Blog About Nice Guys And The Friendzone

In recent weeks there's been a lot of debate about the concept of Nice Guys and the dreaded 'friendzone' they inhabit, some of it sparked by the infamous and now-deleted 'Nice Guys Of OK Cupid' tumblr, which collated examples of men who considered their lack of dating success to be (somewhat counterintuitively) the result of them being 'too nice', while in many cases demonstrating attitudes towards women that were anything but.

I don't want this post to be a critique of that tumblr, or of anyone else's views on the issue, but a more personal take on why I think Nice Guys are a problem. For the uninitiated, when I talk about this stereotypical 'Nice Guy', I'm talking about those guys who think that women 'always go for jerks' and thereby 'friendzone' men who would be much better for them. By being 'too nice', these dudes think they've inadvertently locked themselves into a inescapable prison of friendship through which neither sex nor romantic love can ever be smuggled. Because Nice Guys, as you may have heard, inevitably finish last.  However, actual nice guys are, well, nice. You and I have no beef, nice guy.

Now, this may be hard to believe, but I haven't always been a confident, swaggering ladies' man, turning knees to jelly and breaking hearts on the reg. Reader, I've been rejected by women, I've been attracted to women that weren't attracted to me, I've had crushes on women and never actually told them, and I've felt waves of nauseating self-pity about the state of my love life, (and droned tediously on about it) in the past. When I was younger, I'd been the guy sat with a similarly unlucky comrade, complaining about how clearly I was lovely and awesome, and yet the object of my affection had stupidly spurned me for some kind of grotesquely horrible walking dick of a man. I wish someone had told me back then that this actually made me sound like the awful one, because ultimately, figuring shit out for yourself is hard. So this post will attempt to explain why I think 'friendzoning' is bullshit and you're an awful person, by giving you men out there some things to consider, should you find yourself one day explaining to some pitying observer about the quasi-masonic Great Friendzone Conspiracy that's keeping you from getting rightfully laid.

1) Being 'Nice' Isn't Everything
Look, a lot of things are 'nice'. Tea is nice. Hot water bottles are nice. Sheets of as-yet-unpopped bubble wrap are nice. Very few of these are likely to send you spinning into a lust-filled frenzy, though as ever, your mileage may vary on this, and I judge ye not. My point is, the kind of spark of attraction needed to make a woman interested in you is probably not going to be set off by niceness alone. Physical attraction is not the be-all and end-all, but the nature of attraction is complex and nebulous, not a simple one-item checklist containing merely 'basic human decency', which you can fulfill and expect to be rewarded with endless, dizzying fuckfests with the partner of your choice. So, what else you got? Are you smart? Are you funny? Do you have an excellent beard? If your answer to all three is 'no', then you're going to need to consider what your qualities are that a woman might like, and put them front and centre. Or just grow a beard. Either way could work.

2) Are You Being A Hypocrite?
So, we've established that you've not got much going for you in the personality department beyond that you're 'nice'. Now ask yourself if you'd date a woman who you felt no physical attraction to, and whose company you didn't particularly enjoy, if she were just kinda, y'know, nice. Can you honestly say that if a woman earned enough mate points, bought you enough rounds, helped you into enough taxis, you'd suddenly fancy her? If not, why are you expecting women to suddenly drop 'em as soon as you've 'been there' for them enough times?

3) Those Guys Dating The Women You Think You Should Be Dating Might Not Be As Bad As You Think
I know, I know, he looks smug as fuck swanning around with the woman who should be yours because you once listened to her cry about a break-up. But what do you actually know about him? You profess to like this woman, and yet you think she's intentionally shunning happiness with you in order to date some unholy mixture of Some Prick From Jersey Shore and Hitler? Have you stopped to consider that he may actually be nice in the conventional sense? Or that, even if he isn't, he may possess a lot of other positive qualities that she finds appealing? If you respect women, then respect their decisions, and understand that they're not playing some unfathomable game somehow designed to alienate you. Not everything is about you, and other people's consenting relationships are frankly none of your business. 

4) Declaring Your Intentions Is Hard But Important
This sucks, but honesty is a good quality. Are you attracted to your friend to the extent that it's eating you up inside? Tell her, if you can. It may hurt if she wants to just be friends, but it's not especially healthy to have an air of unspoken desire hanging between you and your friend. Ask yourself how many of the 'friend' things you do for her are actually because you care about her, and not because you want to get in her pants. Ask yourself if you'd want to know if your friend was in love with you. Tell her, and be prepared not to like the answer. Or, if you feel you can't, don't tell her. You don't have to. But don't fail to tell her, and then passive-aggressively complain behind her back that she's failing to read your signals, or putting you in the 'friendzone', or dating douchebags because she's a fucking moron. Accept that your inability to tell her is a problem YOU have to deal with, not her, and try your best to deal with the situation in a manner which is grown-up and not insulting.

5) The Friendzone Is Not Really An Actual Thing
If a woman is just your friend and not someone you're having sex with, that is what we in certain circles call a 'friend'. Yes, what you have there is a friendship, one between you, a man, and a second person, a woman. This can sometimes happen. The chances are she's not 'put' you there because women get off on torturing men, but because she simply wants to just be friends with you, like you might be with a dude. Sex is not the default interaction between men and women. Sex is a thing that happens between two (or more!) people that express a sexual interest in one another and then gratify it by mutual consent. It's not something you're supposed to expect, but which women then cruelly decide to deny you from their lofty position as the gatekeepers of the sexual realm. Friendships with women that feature no sex can be rewarding. Try viewing said woman as a person rather than a target for your dick, and see what happens.

6) You May Not Actually Be That Nice After All
Look, are you REALLY that nice? You're complaining about women refusing to sleep with you, but you haven't told them how you feel. Is that nice? You're friends with a woman, but whenever you do something for her you note it down mentally as yet another thing you've done which inexplicably went unrewarded with blowjobs, as if it should have been. Is that nice? Think long and hard about your expectations of women, and whether they're reasonable. And consider whether you're maybe acting with an unearned sense of entitlement. Be aware that what you think of as 'nice' (reluctantly listening to a woman's problems while wishing she'd shut the fuck up already and touch your penis), may not be what she defines 'nice' to mean. Perhaps she thinks of a 'nice guy' as someone who likes her with no ulterior motive and who isn't concealing his true feelings for whatever reason.

In conclusion, I'm not setting myself up as an expert on women, or relationships, or men, or indeed anything, because I am demonstrably an expert on none of those things. I don't know what to tell you if you can't find a girlfriend. I do know how tricky it is to let a woman know you like her in a way that's obvious without being aggressive. So if you do tell her, be considerate, because you're putting her in an awkward position. And think about how to deal with a 'no'. These things are all problems that will happen over and over again. Ultimately, though, my point is this: women aren't so incredibly stupid as to not appreciate you being nice. It just takes more than that. And it's not always palatable, but you can't just comfort yourself with the belief that women are just fucking ridiculous because they're failing to adhere to the clearly correct dating formula you've come up with in your head. But let's say you think that, that you firmly believe it. In that case, by all means say it, but be aware that saying it repeatedly does not make you any more attractive, or convince people that you're The Guy. It may just make you sound entitled, disrespectful and self-involved, with an inflated opinion of your own worth and a significant lack of understanding of what women are after. And that, sadly, ain't all that sexy.