5 Confessions of a Female 'Nice Guy'
I don't know if you have heard the term "Nice Guy." Ironically, it does not actually refer to any nice guy. It refers to a sort of Internet phenomenon of a guy who complains about how girls won't date him and prefer jerks, and therefore all women are bad and shallow and are too dumb to know who's good for them. Such guys existed before the internet, but their inescapable public complaining is the part made possible by the miracle of technology.
A lot has been said about the Nice Guy and what is wrong with him, so I don't feel the need to repeat it. What I do want to talk about is his mirror image, the Nice Girl -- the female who goes a little nuts after failing to get guys. I know a lot about this type, because I was this type for a long, long time. It's pretty sad, but I always say: if you can't mock the embarrassing parts of your past, what's the point of having lived them?
Now, Nice Guys and Nice Girls aren't exact parallels, as men and women have different roles and expectations in society or whatever, but there are some similarities. Let's play high school English class and compare and contrast.
There Is A Type of Girl Who Cannot Get Any Guy
One of my pet peeves is guys who assume all women are all getting it on whenever they want, and that it's only guys who worry about not being able to get a date. There's no such a thing as a woman who can't get a man, the view goes, and if she doesn't have one, she must just be too picky.
If you're a woman who can't get anybody interested in her, like I was for a long time, this is confusing, because apparently you don't exist. Or at least, you're not a woman -- you're just some weird technicality that is nitpicking a nice rant about actual women.
Now, you might be thinking, "If you had trouble getting dates, you must be a real ugly and/or fat woman!" Nah. In all honesty, I'd say I'm pretty average. My big problem is probably how I can't talk to people (a little bit Rain Man, less so now), I dressed pretty stupid for a long time, and I was an asshole (more on that below). But if you're angry at me for any reason, and it makes you feel better to think I'm fat and ugly, that's okay, too. If you're feeling crappy about life, do whatever you think will help.
Feel free to picture me like this.
And it's not just me. As a woman who talks to women, I can tell you there's plenty of women boo-hooing to their girlfriends during girl talk time about not being able to get a date. Maybe men miss out on this wonderful experience because it's more embarrassing to boo-hoo about it to a man. I don't know.
Part of the disconnect is that the guy who "never gets any" is not getting any sex, and the girl is complaining that she can't get a relationship. Now, I'm not saying all men just want sex and all women just want relationships, but the deal is that society shames men most for not having sex and shames women most for not having a dude on their arm. Society considers the sexless man and the mateless woman failures. Society is mean.
It's not generally an insult to call a lady a virgin, while it's fighting words if you say a guy "can't get laid." In fact, for the crude, insulting a lady means going the other way and say she has been boned by too many people. But it might hit harder to tell a single woman that no one will date her and she will be an old lady with 50 cats, or basically, "you'll never have a relationship."
Healthier people can shrug it off and be secure about who they are and why they're not dating or having sex. This article is not about those people.
I Chased Guys (Badly)
So in order to not become "that cat lady," I had to resort to desperate measures, like making a move on a guy. I know guys think, "Big deal, I always have to ask girls out, deal with it," but the dynamics are a little different here. Girls aren't supposed to pursue guys. If you succeed, it's no big deal, you're just a confident woman who knows what you want. However, if you get rejected, especially multiple times, everybody sees you as this pathetic, desperate, man-hungry dick chaser. Basically Lena Hyena from Roger Rabbit, except without the good body.
Her opening line is "A MAAAAYAAAAAN!"
In movies, girls that chase guys unsuccessfully are pretty much always crazy and/or ugly. Lena there hits both counts, then you have Wayne's ex in Wayne's World (crazy), Eddie Murphy's fat lady character in Norbit (both), Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding (crazy, but learns her lesson at the end), Sandra Bullock in All About Steve (crazy), Uma Thurman in My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and then your all-out nutters in Fatal Attraction and Disclosure. I'm not saying these characters or movies were bad; I'm saying they're easy to think of, while I can't name a movie where a girl directly went after a guy (openly, not pining secretly and following him around and dropping hints) and was not crazy or a laughingstock.
Guys that chase girls unsuccessfully are split 50/50 -- some are portrayed as stalkers or losers, while many are the noble protagonists trying to get the dumb/damaged lady to see they obviously belong together (a la Breakfast at Tiffany's). Their persistence is supposed to be sweet. If a woman is persistent, it's either comical or horrifying.
"One more try. I'll get the mouth this time, I know it."
So that's it. It was a choice between being the crazy stalker lady and being the crazy cat lady. It was pretty tough. If I liked a guy, I'd try to hold it in as long as I could to avoid looking desperate, but at a certain point I just had to know. Everybody always says that this dynamic (girls can't pursue) means that there's these hilarious misunderstandings where a girl and a guy are interested in each other but neither one is brave enough to bring it up, so they miss their opportunity. So I'd always give in eventually and make the first move to make sure it wasn't one of these little accidents. It never was.
Most of the time it was the old, "I really respect you as a friend, but I just don't feel that way" line, which I always took to mean I wasn't attractive enough, or at least I didn't fit his idea of attractive. If only I had known the term "friendzone" back then, I would have realized that I just failed to use the right moves and say the right lines that would obligate the guy to accept me as a girlfriend, no matter his preferences.
But I'm pretty sure I used all the right techniques, which are "copy everything the guy does." I would try to get into his favorite video games, despite being completely hopeless at any game with street cred (action, RTS, FPS). I would try his favorite hobbies, like cycling or hiking. I would wear the kinds of clothes he liked to wear (baggy jeans, hockey jerseys, surf tees). I'm not sure why this didn't work. What guy doesn't want to bang Kevin Smith?
Much much later (I'm very slow), I learned that I would have gotten a lot more mileage out of showing a little leg or not wearing giant glasses or not constantly talking about how everybody else was so fake.
But in the end, it's a good thing this didn't work, or I could have ended up marrying a guy who had a Kevin Smith fetish. Or the guy I tried to pretend to be outdoorsy for -- he ended up marrying an athletic woman who actually enjoys the outdoors, while I married a guy as lazy as I am. We're both probably a lot happier than we would be if we'd been stuck together, hating the things the other person wanted to do.
I Had A Really Insulting View of Men
Important note: the Nice Guy or Nice Girl might come across as a person who hates themselves, but in most cases, it's misleading. I thought I was great. When I talked about how I sucked, I really meant how I sucked in the eyes of the dumb world out there that couldn't see how great I was.
So since I wasn't letting go of the assumption that I was great (just nobody could see it), I had to explain why the other, less-great girls were getting all the guys. There's two popular ways to tackle that: (1) decide the other girls are manipulative bitches tricking all the guys into thinking they are great, or (2) that guys are all dumb and focus on dumb traits and don't know a cool girl when they see one (or both!).
There is obviously a third choice here, that maybe I'm not that great, and that maybe the other girls are cool in their own ways. This was clearly impossible, so I dismissed it.
I dabbled with the first option for a while (manipulative bitches stealing all the men), but had to abandon it because I had really cool best girlfriends who each had a lot of suitors, and they were too kind and real to be cynical man-stealers.
So I settled on a worldview I held for maybe 10 years, that men are dumb and all they care about is looks, and they want stupid, boring women because smart women make them uncomfortable. In retrospect, I guess this was also extremely uncharitable to my girlfriends.
"I wish I was as dumb as you, so guys would want to go out with me."
You might notice that this made me into a sort of hero or martyr for not being able to get a boyfriend, because I was this lone woman bravely being honest about who I was (smart and cool) instead of spending hours on clothes and makeup and giggling at every dumb joke a guy made and never correcting him. Men would stupidly fall for that and go out with girls who made them go shopping and watch chick flicks, when I would have played video games and watched sports and had clever debates with them.
As long as I kept believing that fantasy, I didn't have to change. It was up to everybody else to change. I wasn't wrong; the WORLD was wrong. If I had been on the Internet at the time, I might have written a whiny rant about how guys are dumb, shallow pricks who only like stupid, fake, giggly women who ooh and ahh at a guy's shitty achievements so he can feel like a big man, and oh by the way will one of you guys go out with me.
You might be wondering how I thought I could get away with insulting all men and asking a guy out in the same breath, and the answer is simple. And dumb. My plan was that the guy I was talking to would be ashamed to be lumped in with that group and would be motivated to be "one of the good ones" in my eyes, one who rejects the bullshit his entire gender had agreed to abide by. Surprisingly, shaming a guy into going out with me was a less effective tactic than I had expected.
Quick note: This type of "negging," recommended a lot by pickup artists, does seem to work on people who don't value themselves very much, but that just seems despicable -- morally equivalent to scamming the elderly.
I Mostly Just Stewed Silently
You might be wondering why there's less whining on the Internet from Nice Girls than from Nice Guys. They're both pissed-off, bitter groups of people -- the Internet should be their time to shine.
Well, for one thing, it still seems like it's more shameful for a girl to confess to not being able to get a boyfriend than it is for a guy to confess to not getting girls. Guys can compensate partially by pointing to their various other achievements, whereas people still don't seem that impressed by girls' achievements. Women are still kind of mainly defined by their sexual desirability. Thanks, society! Work on that, will you?
Also, whether because of genetics or society or whatever, women tend to be more comfortable holding in anger, while men tend to need to act on it. I don't think this is necessarily something to be proud of, as some people speculate that this is why women are more prone to depression than men. But it does mean there could be 100 women silently stewing about this for every one that lashes out.
"I wish he could just read my mind and know that I think he is a moron with bad taste."
The combination of shame and societal conditioning to hold in the anger is probably good news for the Nice Girl's "victims," though. She's probably less likely to try some of the more terrifying stalker behaviors and less likely to confront the guy that "owes" her a relationship. Nobody wants to get the nickname "Fatal Attraction."
Nobody Could Straighten Me Out
A lot of people told me I was wrong and tried to help me, but I bravely refused to listen.
Think about what I would have had to give up if I admitted they were right. Remember that in my worldview, I was this last bastion of integrity in a society of giggling airheads and shallow men, willing to be myself and say what I thought, despite what it cost me.
If this was wrong, I would have had to admit to myself that I had been wasting my goddamn life. That I was the dupe, believing lies about how refusing to respect other people's decisions is heroic faithfulness. That guys didn't want to date me because nobody likes to date sour, superior jerks, and that's exactly what I was.
I had to take off this exoskeleton that'd been keeping me propped up so long that what was inside was basically jelly.
Use your imagination and pretend it's blood jello.
The only way I was finally able to back down was, counterintuitively, people being kind and supportive to me about other, unrelated things. This way, I had something to fall back on when I lost the high horse of "nobody will date me because I'm too special." When I had friends being cool and good things going on in other parts of my life, I had something other than my martyr story to lean on.
In a movie, I guess I would get into a perfect relationship right after I learned my lesson. In real life, I didn't. I was still kind of lonely and all that, but I wasn't angry at the world. I didn't justify my inability to get a date by blaming men for being dumb and not knowing what's good for them, or see other women as "jerks" who didn't deserve their men. I just tried not to dwell on it and got working on a successful ... well, let's say satisfactory, career in CG.
The point is that, even though I did find a guy and get married eventually, that's not what solved the problem. "I'll stop being pissed at the opposite sex when one of them agrees to go out with me," is basically you holding your own happiness hostage. You're probably hurting yourself more than anybody else, unless you're actively harassing someone about it, I guess. If you knew you had to go the next 5 years of your life without sex or a relationship, regardless of what you do, what's a better way to spend it: being bitter and mad, or tabling that issue and getting a ton of other shit done?
That's right, being bitter and mad. It takes less effort. Well, pick what you want. My goal was to get more embarrassing stuff out in public to reduce the risk of someone blackmailing me, and I say mission accomplished.
For more from Christina, check out The 5 Biggest Mistakes Women (Like Me!) Make On The Internet and 5 Reasons Women Are As Shallow As Men (According to Science).