5 Things Girls Don't Seem to Understand About 'Nice Guys'
Hi, ladies! It's good to see you all here, and in your underwear, no less. To thank you for your thoughtfulness, I'm pulling back the curtain to reveal five secrets you always suspected about those male friends you would take home to ma, but never home from the bar: the nice guys.
First, let's define terms. The word "nice" originally meant "foolish or senseless." So right there: core concept. It later acquired such meanings as "delicate," "careful" and "agreeable" before becoming "too great a favorite with the ladies, who have charmed out of it all its individuality and converted it into a mere diffuser of vague and mild agreeableness."
Really, it's the perfect summary of guys like your best male friend, and formerly me.
Thankfully, niceness can be corrected with a newspaper smack on the nose, or a couple of solid heartbreaks. I'll explain why ineffectual schlubs act a certain way, and what you can do to correct them. These are my tips for turning the sweet guy you say you want into the brute you actually do.
Nice Does Not Equal Good
A great number of nice guys are -- to use the polite term -- hollow-balled shitbirds. Too timid to grab what we want, we rely on coy tactics. A nice guy will ask you out via cutesy note, call your dates "hangouts" and say he just wants you to be happy when you leave him for a jerk (which is sensible of you). They think this is noble and selfless.
It's not. As Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, "Hey, you! STOP HITTING THAT HORSE! WHHAARRRRGGARHABLGLL!" (Nietzsche suffered a lot of mental decay.)
But before syphilis ate his brains, he more famously said, "Of all evil I deem you capable: Therefore I want good from you. Verily, I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws."
Nietzsche's mustache had little sympathy for people who labeled their weakness a strength.
This army of clumsy lovers means well, but always manages to drop the ball in the clutch. Worse still, nice guys think their good intentions make up for their pathetic failure to deliver. They're the Democratic Party of boyfriends.
The point is you can be the nicest guy on earth and still be a total dick. I used to have a sweet, sensitive pal who spent most of his time waiting for his chance with my girlfriend. When I wasn't around, he set himself up as her proxy boyfriend and enjoyed the intimacy of her friendship without ever making a move on her -- after all, only a jerk would hit on his buddy's girl! He was happier in the safe, lonely position than he ever would have been risking rejection for something real.
They want to be liked. They see themselves as gentle, balanced and honest -- and to preserve that image, they suffer a surfeit of consideration. Nice guys hate to think they've caused any trouble. They don't make decisions that require unwavering certitude. They'll let a huge train wreck happen just to avoid causing a fender bender.
What you want to do here is encourage some cocky behavior. A jerk would have no shortage of this, because he never questions his decision, no matter how many other people's loved ones it kills.
You have to show him there's no ledger accounting the good we do against the harm. He'll soon realize most people talk great game but do very little to help others, and many are awful bastards in private (again: Democrats).
If we as a nation can only agree on one thing, let it be that possessing John Edwards would give Pazuzu food poisoning.
I suggest a sharp rap on his skull from the reality stick. Try breaking up with him a week before you take a spring break trip together. Then, while he tries to wear the mask of sanity, hook up with a mutual friend. If his dedication to you remains strong, you may have to subject him to a 24-hour bus ride home staring at the back of your snuggled heads.
Sure, it sounds cruel. But believe me, in the weeks that follow, he'll wander zombielike through the most vicious neighborhoods at dim hours, seeking his own destruction. When he can wake up without gasping like a drowning swimmer every morning, balance is restored, and he is now a man willing to roll the dice. Or your new boyfriend will, as Community pointed out sometimes happens to adults who assert themselves, get the back of his head grabbed and pushed through a jukebox. Either way: No scuff on your shoes.
That's not nice.
With time, he'll realize there are no "good" or "bad" actions -- only those that benefit or threaten his own interests. In the middle lies his pH-neutral former nature. In fact ...
Nice Guys Are Utterly Passive
When the action starts, nice guys wait quietly for someone to do something. Give them an instruction and they'll pursue it doggedly, but ask them for a decision and they'll want your opinion, plus deep analysis from every angle. That's great for some things: democracy, pharmaceutical research, cunnilingus. But it is absolutely awful for courtship, which is what nice guys call negotiating the tongue-mining rights to your wisdom teeth.
They overanalyze. Nice guys pit worst-case scenarios against unattainable ideals, and can't accept the gap between. Like NASA engineers, they're not going to launch until the odds of success exceed 97 percent. Before that happens, a more aggressive authority usually forces their hand. Then what happens? Years of dedication explode in your face.
The nice guy is exemplified here by the courtly love of Cyrano de Bergerac, who was so devoted to his beloved Roxane's happiness that he fed his best lines to his rival, Christian. And this, by the way, was after he saved Christian's life, only to stand there smiling while the ungrateful prick made fun of his nose. For this
neurotic romantic, it was enough to know that his intended liked his poetry.
If Cyrano didn't use a mirror to shave, he'd never see any pussy.
But it gets worse! When Christian de Handsome died in battle, he left the key wide open for an easy layup. All Cyrano had to do was tell Roxane that the man she loved was still alive. Instead he let the bereaved damsel join a convent and lied about his affections for years, even after she had figured it out on his deathbed.
Oh, for -- this is the kind of utter devotion people call purest love, and Nietzsche calls some serious slave-value bullshit. It's selfishness of the worst order: denying the person you supposedly care about a chance to be happy because it's safer to live with your fantasy than face your fear.
What you want here is to direct his selfish nature to a place where he can act without overthinking the situation.
Haw! You thought it would be confidence, didn't you? No, self-assurance is like whiskey neat: great the first half-dozen times, then a very steep endurance challenge.
We've all been there, girls: 2 a.m. at Shaky Jake's Tavern on a summer night, the moon is half full, and you throw a Hail Mary glance at a guy who normally pings your douche-radar so hard that the president has to call Russia and assure Putin it's just a flock of geese.
Not so fast! Women are better off with the shy guy, says a bunch of mathematicians no one believes. But let's pretend that Tennessee math whizzes aren't heavily invested in convincing you that this is true. We can still report that a nice guy is a high-pressure canister of pent-up lust in a steel shell of fear.
Since he sees you as a pure angel (more on that in a moment), he fears his own corrupting fantasies of you ... or maybe he fears your disgust, should you learn his gruesome desires. But you, me and the sales figures on Fifty Shades of Grey know that women's only problem with dirty sex is the same one circus elephants have with peanuts: there's not enough, and the only way to get any is to obey some jerk with a whip.
Idealistic, sensitive, respectful of women ... God, teenagers are the worst.
Ladies, your grandma marched all up and down the '70s to give you other options. (Your grandma is Gloria Steinem.) Exercise your rights and help some nice guy find his inner slut. Let him into your bed, and once he has your permission to uncap Pandora's box, he'll be just as self-centered and stupid as Christian. O, glorious day!
Nice desire is a good combo for you! If love whispers, "I would do anything for you," lust grunts, "I'ma use you like a fast food napkin." Together they're the Starsky & Hutch of desire. When you love someone enough to let them eat coleslaw out of your armpit (Hi, Allison!), you build trust for tomorrow, when it's your turn to reduce them to a fantasy.
It's beautiful, really. You get all the thrill of a selfish mauling, but none of the bleary dread when a one-night stand asks if your blood's polluted by inferior races.
Hey, speaking of selfish ...
Nice Guys Have You on a Pedestal
Nice fellows think women want someone to worship them -- and to an extent, that's true. Many a dame wants a guy who holds her in awe for who she is, flaws and all. But that kind of romanticism has to be earned, or it's untrustworthy. It's way less creepy to treat a woman like a goddess when you view her as an equal.
100 percent creepy: treating her like a concubine.
More to the point, you can love anyone, but being in love requires permission -- or at least vulnerability, which is why, to make someone love you, you need either a patient heart or some really good blackmail.
They're romantics who fall short of their own ideals. As we've seen, nice guys are too timid to approach their crushes directly, so they flood in a lot of missing details. Until they actually date a woman, they're in love with who they imagine her to be, not who she is. And who they imagine you to be is who they wish they could be.
Sure, we all lie to ourselves a bit to embrace the best in our partners: You imagine that your boyfriend is a great guy when he's not drinking, Romeo had to pretend that Juliet had hit puberty and my girlfriend doesn't ask questions about all those scratch marks on the inner door of the shed.*
*I'm totally kidding. I don't have a shed, because it would be larger than this Manhattan apartment, and I don't have a girlfriend, because New York women get angry if you don't try to have sex with them by the third date.
But that's not what nice guys do. They mix up a batch of Ideal Mate and pour it into a you-shaped pitcher. It's usually an updated version of the Victorian elegant creature -- noble, graceful and more boring than a box of rocks, which are at least capable of hurting people. Not so, the idyllic angel that is fantasy-you! On your proud bosom rest the values he wishes he had for himself: purity, goodness, quiet honor, no-mess orgasms.
You can tell how badly a culture treats women by how high a pedestal it puts them on.
A nice friend of mine used to moon around school sighing heavily wherever we could hear him. After much coaxing nobody wanted to do, he'd "reluctantly" share how heartbroken he was because he was in love with our classmate -- let's call her Ruth so you don't find out that her real name was Ann.
It didn't matter to him that they barely talked, she didn't love him back, he didn't know her as a person, or they'd never even shared a moment. All he cared about was how pure and beautiful this angel was, and that she didn't know his passion for her. All her boyfriends were jerks because they weren't him. And most inconsiderate of all, she never read the poems he didn't show her.He wasn't in love with her; he was in love with the idea of her. He preferred the drama of longing for her to the high-fivery of sliding a hand under her shirt. And unless you're thwarting a nuclear disaster, declining second base* is a serious cause to question your values.
Exactly HOW BAD a nuclear disaster are we talking about?
*I use the commonly accepted bases here. In my stadium, second base is sex with a time-traveling ninja, and third base is giving her my real name.
Break the spell! You don't want to be loved for who you're not, so teach him to loathe you for who you are!
I know, I know -- it's completely counterintuitive. But his disrespect must exist in order for you to defeat it. You know how every movie says that without darkness there can be no light? And how every particle physicist says that's just not true? Well, that's why movie stars get laid while physicists get killed by their experiments in the first act of every sci-fi film: because love does not give one damn for truth or logic.
So break down his illusions in order to build up his perceptions. Stop dishing to him about your crush on the varsity quarterback, and instead tell him horrifying stories about the time you traded sexual favors for cigarettes to the quarterback's dad (who's in a coma).
When you're done with your nice guy, his smoldering gaze should pierce a heart at 200 paces. Only after he can criticize you honestly should you trust his deep devotion. And even if that's completely facetious advice you shouldn't follow, isn't it better he disrespect who you are than quiver loyally to who you ain't?
Nice Guys Are Sensitive, and C'mon, You Don't Really Want That
A lifetime of romantic fantasizing has rendered your nice guy capable of some pretty terrific romantic gestures. I once fist-fought a legion of demons (I won) for the love of a good woman (I lost). Other grand displays I have made to woo hearts include:
The secret to both rickrolling and romance is mixing surprise with banality.
So if I can have a solid week like that, there's no reason why your nice friend can't summon one or two great displays of devotion. He may start out with clumsy romantic surprises, like holding a stereo up to your window or quitting his job to build a future with you in another city, but if you cry enough times in front of him, he'll get really scared and up his game.
For your happiness. Jeez, it's not all creepy ulterior motives.
It's the same reason poor people make delicious recipes out of the worst parts of the animal: This is all we have, so we'd better make it great. I'm not saying you're the pig snout of dames; I'm saying hunger taught us not to waste an opportunity. Also, you specifically are the pig snout of dames. But that was coincidental.
But hey, pig snout is cute and tender! Much like your vagina, which is where we come to the problem: Nice guys are often as sensitive physically as they are emotionally.
Nice guys can be pretty selfless. They're excited to be with you. Maybe too excited. Many people's first sexual experience is shorter than the 100m dash. If you pour over that a mental cocktail of nice guy traits, you're talking about the most attentive, caring four seconds of your life. And I should know: I've hidden enough cameras in cheap motels to watch a variety of hook-ups. But enough about the only way I can get angry enough to achieve orgasm. You're going to cure a dude's mental sensitivity by eliminating his physical one. Here's how to bypass your guy's attention to -- and excitement at -- your pleasure.
First, admit that the problem is you: Stop enjoying sex. If you can't do this, at least fix your deliriously silky vagina; coat it in stucco to bring a classic Mediterranean flair to the place. In a few weeks' time, your guy should have an impressive callous on what's left of his penis, and no interest in sex whatsoever. Problem solved!
It really shouldn't be that purple. Consult a doctor immediately!
Or is it? If not, try staying silent in bed. Many women make encouraging noises during sex, such as "Oh," or "Aah," or weeping for their fiance who died at sea. That's very helpful, but at this stage, you're better off smashing his enthusiasm. Gaze deeply into his eyes as he enters you the first time, and laugh at him.
You can also wait until he's near orgasm, thump him on the back, and cackle "THAR SHE BLOWS!!!!" This is especially effective if your fiance died on a whaling expedition.
If none of that helps, many men think about baseball to delay orgasm; when you're talking dirty in bed, narrate that hot action in your naughtiest Don Orsillo voice.
Using these techniques, I developed my frightened 2.7-inch Catholic penis into a roaring 3.1416-inch engine of hellbound pleasure. Now I do lots of sex, and very rarely cry afterward.
Nice Guys Keep Learning
Now for the good news ... if kindness is its own reward, your guy will turn out OK. Or life will strip him of everything he ever invested himself in. But hey, if that happens, at least you can point to the breaking news bulletin and say "I know that dude!"
Sadly for your fame-bragging rights, he is much more likely to keep learning and improving his endgame strategies for making you happy.
They want to impress you as much as you awe them. Many times in a day, a nice guy asks himself, "I wonder if that dame knows how great that dame is." Then he gets hit by a bus. Ho-ho! Didn't see that coming, did you? That'll teach you to be all-consumingly beautiful.
Life, aye, that's a hard game, full of rough surprises. You've got to roll with the punches, unless they're coming from your jerk boyfriend, in which case, don't stand there taking punches! Get out of there! Find a nice guy to treat you right. But if these punches are metaphorical, dish some out to toughen your nice guy up.
In fact, adversity is a catalyst to greatness. Help him along by making life terrible for him, won't you?
Let me tell you a story about a young asthmatic whose doctor told him he had a serious heart condition (presumably: too much of it). The 19th century doctor said, "Asthmatic, you must in every circumstance eschew stressuation of the heartular organ. I recommend gnawing a cold sheep's liver each day. "
The young dandy thought about this, and elected instead to embrace stress, losing his mother and wife on the same day, leaving him with a two-day-old child and nothing else to lose.
That man ... was Teddy Roosevelt (although he hated to be called Teddy, because it reminded him of his lost Alice).
Attaboy, Roosie! Now you are invincible!
Do you see how all the stress attending the first five values funneled into manly fury at the universe itself? You can bet that when Roosevelt got to the pearly gates, he hollered for God to come out and take His licks for stealing what didn't belong to Him. My advice to you is to do what TR's second wife and childhood playmate, Edith Carrow, did:
1) Mark a nice guy early on. Prowl your school's chess club, computer lab, and all the sports that nobody makes any money playing in the real world.
2) If you're out of school, try church fundraisers or yoga studios or-or-oh God, it's too late, isn't it? You're 34! Why did you wait so long? Our mothers told us we could have it all, but we were fools! FOOOOLS!
3) Subtly manipulate the most beautiful, sunny girl in the world into falling in love with him. Let her do the grunt work for the next five years via the tips above.
4) On their anniversary (Valentine's Day), kill her.
5) And his ma for good measure, see?
6) Better run over his dog, too. You don't want to risk leaving him any hope now that your soul's damned.
7) Do this near an untamed wilderness, where he may escape to punish nature and pursue criminals.
8) When his rage is expurgated, he will emerge from the shrubbery. Be there to remind him he once was gentle.
Circle complete! Follow these tips and I guarantee you will find yourself the proud owner of a manly champion -- a right gentleman and bastard. Yet when he comes home to be his true and tender self, he is a man who belongs only to you. And though a titan conquer the world, he doth so only to make a better surrender to thy heart.
And isn't lending a twerp half your power only to see him collect all the glory what happiness is truly about? Because if it's not, John Edwards owes his wife a very serious apology.
Brendan McGinley tackled this nice guy thing in She's Famous Now.
For more from Brendan, check out 5 Ways the '90s Made Us Strong and Understanding Lazy Eye, Other Parts of Kristen Bell.