Insisting that women always handle men's egos like precious Faberge eggs puts the blame on women for not reciprocating sexual interest, because their safe response is seen as a coy tease. A straightforward "I'm not interested in you because X," whether X is a strongly held political opinion, different standards of domestic cleanliness, or just some weird intangible element, is dangerous for women to say and painful for men to hear. And Nice Guys are going to continue existing until we don't punish women for saying it, and teach men that it's not the end of the world to hear it. But for now ...
This All Creates A Punishing Loop
So what do you get when you add this all up, aside from a much younger and dumber version of myself who spent an embarrassing amount of time Googling what "normal" romantic milestones were and freaking out at the results? You get guys who feel like they're fundamentally broken, and therefore believe they're being denied what they're constantly told are normal life experiences.
Have you ever seen that joke about how being a straight white man is like getting to live life on easy mode? No, I'm not going to launch into a screed about how straight men are actually the most oppressed people if you really think about it. But the message to Nice Guys is that they're failing at the one thing that should be easy for them. No one likes to fail, but it's especially painful when you're being told both that it's important and that only total losers would fuck it up.
At the risk of ruining the timelines of the countless erotic fanfiction that's been written about me, I was a bit of a slow starter in the romance department. I've since figured it out as much as anyone has, and have made love at enough woman to realize that the whole thing is kind of overhyped (although the fanfiction is correct about how excellent I am at it). Relationships and sex can be fun and rewarding, but they shouldn't define you, and there are far worse things in life than being single.
But until you learn that, you really do feel like a failure. And with every day that passes, you believe that you're falling further and further behind the curve. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You lack the relationship experience that everyone else has, but you swear you need some experience to start a relationship. You feel like you're trapped in the bottom of a deep, dark pit without any tools to begin the long climb out. And part of you doesn't even want to start climbing, because it's scary. So it eats away at you, making you a less healthy person with every little bite.
This can be a difficult subject because, to some extent, it's understandable that romantic inexperience is punished. That inexperience can make a woman feel awkward, uncomfortable, or even threatened, and no guy's sob story can or should take priority over that. No one is entitled to sex and love, even if you're a nice person and even if the lack of them in your life is painful. Nice Guys have to accept that doing the right thing and becoming a better person is a process that could mean that they'll have to keep dealing with that pain for an indefinite amount of time. But it's better than continuing to cling and hope for the impossible.
A major turning point in my dumb life was when I finally worked up the nerve to express romantic interest in a friend, she said no, and then instead of spotlights emerging as people gathered round to mock me, we continued to be friends and life went on. And once you start to get some dating experience, you understand rejection because you start giving it instead of receiving it. You'll date women and like them, but not love them or want to sleep with them, for all sorts of different reasons. And that doesn't make either one of you a bad person. Unless you're rejecting them because they're, like, super racist.
We're in the middle of a sea change, as powerful men are being taken to task for sexual abuses that were once swept under the rug. This is an opportunity not only to clean house, but also for men to reexamine the fundamental ways in which they view women. For Nice Guys, that means understanding that women owe you nothing, that there is nothing wrong or shameful with simply being friends, and that you should be honest about your emotions and accepting of the fact that, while rejection sucks, your life will go on. Because in the end, men and women are all just human beings who should buy my book.
Mark on Twitter and wrote a funny book that The New York Times called "We do not accept unsolicited material for review."
Mark Hill forgot to actually name his book in this article, it's "Confessions of an Average Boy" and available here.
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For more, check out 5 Things Girls Don't Seem to Understand About 'Nice Guys' and 5 Confessions of a Female 'Nice Guy.'
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