Zombie Playa Revisited

You know Spring is truly on its way when media outlets pick up every story matching the keyword, “Dating”. The latest being so-called “Nice Guys” seeking assistance in cultivating their inner jerk in order to rid themselves of such despicable qualities as: empathy, respect and appropriateness.

There is nothing new here; same rehash of the nice guys get nothing/jerks get everything false dichotomy. It seeks to frame the issue as a matter of female partners – since nearly all “Nice Guy” articles are written from a heterosexual perspective – finding “Nice Guys” categorically undesirable without any analysis as to why.

Frankly, it’s a bit cheeky to frame the issue in this manner when doesn’t explain WHY women tend to shun these men; only blaming women for doing so. In fact when closely examined I find there are little differences between so-called nice guys and the jerks they believe are getting all the ladies.

Skim through any dating forum and see folks hashing out this very issue without much in the way of clarity or resolution. For one thing, few can agree what is meant by the term “Nice Guy” and I suspect that’s merely a derailing tactic, rather than legitimate debate.

Look, here’s what is meant by “Nice Guy”:

  • A guy whose niceness is used in order to get something from you.
  • A guy who quietly seeks to infuse every atom of his being with yours without directly stating his intentions (when asked)
  • A guy who believes it’s possible to fake care his way into your heart and underpants
  • A guy who is unable to discern subtle cues of disinterest or willingly ignores said cues.
  • A guy who believes he is entitled to a certain level of treatment simply because he’s pick a specific woman as his mark. Often leading him to behave in decidedly “not nice” ways when his advances are decisively rebuffed.

From the above linked article:

Dean Melcher was the kind of guy who befriended girls easier than boys. He was a tad shy, consistently thoughtful and surrounded by women, but he still couldn’t get a girlfriend.
“I think I was kind of clueless and oblivious,” admits Melcher, who spent his early 20s lingering in the friend zone. “Women wanted the bad boys.”
Everyone probably knows a Mr. Nice Guy like Melcher, who is now 46. He’s the guy who patiently listens to a girl complain without interrupting her. Because of his sweet nature, he puts the girl’s demands first, altering his weekend plans to fit her schedule. He may be uneasy about making a decision for fear of being domineering.

So much fail going on here.

Newsflash, Mr. Melcher, you lingered in the friend zone because these women were simply NOT attracted to you. There was nothing short of a gun and rope that was going to motivate these women to date you.

Moreover, I suspect some of those women felt it odd that you did not play well with those on your end of the gender spectrum. That is one of my GLARING red flags for anyone. If you can’t play well with folks in your own sandbox, I view it as a HUGE SCARECROW and I run out of that cornfield ASAP.

Also, nothing here has suggested why you feel you’re in fact – dateable. I mean chow chow about your perceived qualities – all of which are easily framed as manipulative when viewed through the “nice guy” lens – I’m not seeing anything approximating “great catch” at all. What I am seeing, however, is a dude who was secretly a jerk all along finally ditching his faux nice guys ways in hopes he can better attract partners who are still NOT GOING TO DATE HIM. I’m seeing a lot of “me” in all of this. Where are the women? Oh yeah, it’s not about them!

Since my name is Snarky’s Machine I’m going to reiterate the “ugly” truths of dating for the dudes in the cheap seats:

  • You get what you get.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, lower your damn standards.
  • You get someone if you’re actually willing to adhere to points 1 and 2.

It would appear in this case, the “Nice Guys” have told themselves lots of fantastic tales using evidence such as the catalog like set up of most dating sites and the fact that lots of schlubs such as themselves have hot girlfriends in Gross Out Comedy films to support their flawed world view. Far too much celluloid has been wasted instructing men that hounding the hell out of a women after she’s repeatedly rebuffed his advances is just one tool in a well stocked dating arsenal.

Want to see a “nice guy” turn jerk faster than potato salad goes bad at a picnic? Ignore his unsolicited emails on a dating site or tell him directly that you do not find him attractive and he has no hopes of ever securing a date with you by any means except coercion.

When his eyes light up, remind him most forms of coercion are in fact – illegal.

As for why women pretend they don’t notice or give the appearance of actively encouraging the behavior? Well I can’t speak for all women who have their own hell to raise, but I do it because I’m not about to have a motherfucker go all Dressed to Kill on me simply because I do not find him dateable.

It’s just not worth arguing with that strain of stupid.

The premise of the “nice guy” defense is they are entitled to whatever women they are attracted to as long as they have devoted sufficient effort and resources in the form of performing “niceness”.

And, honestly, how nice does that sound to you?

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crossed posted at my pop culture blog I Fry Mine In Butter

246 thoughts on “Zombie Playa Revisited

  1. He’s the guy who patiently listens to a girl complain without interrupting her. Because of his sweet nature, he puts the girl’s demands first, altering his weekend plans to fit her schedule.

    But after all his diligent efforts to be a gentleman, she turns him down, and he is left to wonder: Do nice guys finish last?

    “He listens to her complain and sometimes he does what the girl wants to do. What the hell do you bitches want? It’s like you think you deserve to be treated as a person with thoughts and feelings deserving of respect!”

    Holy Hell.

  2. Ugh. I just hate the sense in this article that treating women like full-fledged human beings is somehow going above and beyond. Thanks for another great post, Snarky!

  3. All I can say is HELL YEAH. Awesome post. I used to use okcupid (that’s actually how I met my boyfriend) and for a while I tried to educate the Nice Guys on the forums. I can honestly say that before that I had no idea that type of mindset was so prevalent. “If I’m nice* to you, then you have to be nice** to me. If you aren’t nice** to me after I’ve been nice* to you, then you’re a frigid bitch and probably a lesbian.”

    *Appear to be attentive, caring, polite, etc.
    **Put out.

  4. Oh I forgot to say, the worst was the guys who sent a gazillion form letter messages (usually “hey bb wats up” or “hey you’re hot wanna chat??” or something like that) and expected a positive response from every. Single. Woman. I argued that ignoring messages from people you aren’t interested in was simply common sense, but they saw it as this huge personal affront. I had several men tell me flat out that women OWED them responses. And that I was a BAD PERSON if I refused to answer every single message, even if it was just a picture of someone’s cock.

  5. Hmm. I actually don’t see the guys who send me IMs on dating sites like “hey bb wat’s up?” or “hey UR hot wanna chat?” as nice guys. I see them as players. The lazy text message typing style and simply the fact that they’re IM-ing me instead of sending me a well thought-out e-mail through the dating site says one thing and one thing only to me: player. If they get their knickers in a twist because I don’t respond back to one of their pointless IMs and choose to harangue me with further IMs, calling me all sorts of names for ‘ignoring them,’ I tell them directly that I’m not interested (duh), they need to stop IM-ing me, and if they continue, I’ll report them to customer service and ask that they be banned. If they need further education, I let them know that the woman will always win in this situation because *we’re* the ones actually spending money on dating websites (the ones that charge, anyway), and if it’s a free site, customer service wants to keep the women happy because the more women they have on their site, the more men will come to visit. So customer service will always honor my request and shut down the guy’s dating profile. If he doesn’t want that to happen, he needs to back the hell off.

    …Anyway, my *point*, besides all this ‘online dating etiquette,’ is that a nice guy wouldn’t send me an IM on a dating site, only asshole players do. A real nice guy would send me a well thought-out message, responding to at least one or two of the things I wrote in my profile and telling me something about himself. IM’s and insta-chats on a dating website? It’s a player’s market.

  6. I had several men tell me flat out that women OWED them responses. And that I was a BAD PERSON if I refused to answer every single message, even if it was just a picture of someone’s cock.

    I never responded to the emails of men I did not find attractive – “nice guys” or otherwise – since it has always been my experience that men on dating sites just do not know how to handle even the most polite rejection and will then seek to argue you out of your assessment, which only further supports it.

    I am also troubled by the entitlement mentality involved with thinking one is owed a response to their unsolicited attention, and I realize we’re treading into dangerous waters, so hopefully we can all stick to this particular topic and not rehash previous ones.

    As far as turning nice guys into jerks, I honestly can’t see why this would prove more successful or why a supposedly “nice guy” would feel this to be a viable option.

  7. …Anyway, my *point*, besides all this ‘online dating etiquette,’ is that a nice guy wouldn’t send me an IM on a dating site, only asshole players do. A real nice guy would send me a well thought-out message, responding to at least one or two of the things I wrote in my profile and telling me something about himself. IM’s and insta-chats on a dating website? It’s a player’s market.

    I disagree. Most folks on dating sites have some real problems with the concept that NO RESPONSE is in fact a response, just not the one they hoped for. Moreover, even if a dude is genuinely a nice person, if I’m not attracted there is really no point in responding even with a “Thanks, but no thanks.” message, be it in real life or online.

    That’s the problem I have with the messaging around mating – the assumption effort alone is worthy of attention, which removes agency from the recipient of the attention in a way I find problematic.

  8. “The premise of the “nice guy” defense is they are entitled to whatever women they are attracted to as long as they have devoted sufficient effort and resources in the form of performing “niceness”.”

    This is the whole Nice Guy thing in the glorious little nutshell I’ve been trying to get it in.

    Psst, you’ve linked to the wrong blog at the end.

  9. The premise of the “nice guy” defense is they are entitled to whatever women they are attracted to as long as they have devoted sufficient effort and resources in the form of performing “niceness”.

    I second Katrina: this is the best summary of nice-guy-ness in a nutshell I have read!

    I love this post, Snarky’s Machine. Not least because I finally joined a dating website this weekend (I’ve been single for 9 months and it feels like it’s time) and I have all this joy ahead of me.

    I’m really depressed by that CNN article, though. I know it’s the usual lightly-researched trend piece, but still… it comes to something when the person who makes the most sense in your article is Neil Strauss: “Strauss quickly figured out that women desire someone who is kind but also has a backbone and is confident.” (And if he could “quickly” realise that, why doesn’t the author expect other men to realise it too?)

    And this: “Being too nice landed him in divorce court.” Yeeeeeah, ’cause a lot of people break up because one of them is too nice.

    Still, at least I have learned how to write an anti-woman trend piece. The structure seems very simple:
    Interview with man with no self-esteem or self-awareness, setting up why the dude’s problem is actually the fault of women.
    Quote from person (or persons) who stands to profit financially from the thesis of the article if it is, in fact, true.
    Quote from person with name recognition factor (in this case, Neil Strauss).
    Quote from rent-a-quote “expert” with a book to sell, in this case willing to blame mothers for making men so wet.
    One citation of a study supporting your hypothesis. Do not use actual statistics or link to the study itself.
    Quote from one (and ONE ONLY) woman, reinforcing what you have said throughout the article, and making it clear that all women do in fact think this way. You may also mention other women, but only quote one.
    Final summary. Remember to underline why it’s women’s fault and ensure there’s a passive-aggressive accusation in there! (“Sometimes all it takes is for the girl to give the nice guy a chance.”)

  10. Moreover, I suspect some of those women felt it odd that you did not play well with those on your end of the gender spectrum. That is one of my GLARING red flags for anyone. If you can’t play well with folks in your own sandbox, I view it as a HUGE SCARECROW and I run out of that cornfield ASAP.

    Why is that? Does it imply that they’re only interested in friendships that can lead to relationships? Or make them more likely to view other dude friends as competition, and get overly jealous?

    The red flag for me is the opposite- if their friends are all dudes, they’re more likely to view women as some species of mythical creature to capture. Homosocial folks in general give me the heebie-jeebies.

  11. Why is that? Does it imply that they’re only interested in friendships that can lead to relationships? Or make them more likely to view other dude friends as competition, and get overly jealous?

    I believe folks benefit from having friends of all genders.

    I’m really depressed by that CNN article, though. I know it’s the usual lightly-researched trend piece, but still… it comes to something when the person who makes the most sense in your article is Neil Strauss: “Strauss quickly figured out that women desire someone who is kind but also has a backbone and is confident.” (And if he could “quickly” realise that, why doesn’t the author expect other men to realise it too?)

    This piece is another shining example of CNN’s commitment to clown horn journalism.

  12. I never responded to the emails of men I did not find attractive – “nice guys” or otherwise – since it has always been my experience that men on dating sites just do not know how to handle even the most polite rejection and will then seek to argue you out of your assessment, which only further supports it.

    SO TRUE. I probably still have a profile on OKCupid, which I signed up for to save my quiz results. (I am really into silly little personality quizzes. I can get stuck doing them for hours at a time.) I unchecked all the “looking for” boxes, even “friends”, and under “how you should contact me” or whatever I talked about how I only used the site for the quizzes and I really didn’t want any contact. When I got engaged, I put in the profile that I was engaged; when I got married, I put in that I was married. Six months later I get an email from this dude negging me by letting me know that I am being “deceptive” for only putting up a photo that was taken in 2002, and that this was a “red flag”.

    I sent him a response asking him if he had read my entire profile, he said he had, and I said something to the effect of, “If you know I’m married, and I don’t want any contact, then why are you contacting me?” Then he was all, “Oh I just wanted to be friends,” and I was like, “UM, if you just wanted to be friends why the hell do you give a fuck what I look like? And how can it be a ‘red flag’ for me to put up an old photo IF I’M NOT LOOKING FOR CONTACT?”

    He sent me back some long and involved response that I didn’t read. It was a mistake to bother replying in the first damn place, but sometimes I get it into my head that I can make some kind of progress educating dudes like that. It never works.

  13. THANK you. Fantastic post. I am dating a guy now who is absurdly soft hearted and he doesn’t appear to be a “nice guy”. It’s because it’s genuine and not the put on bullshit niceness that men use to manipulate themselves into a relationship. Fascinating how quickly they scream WHORE when a girl turns them down. Also, and I mean this seriously, there is a reason why so many abused women say they DIDN’T SEE IT COMING when they married this wonderful guy and he turned into an abusive fuck. Rawr.

    <3

  14. I wish I could link to this whenever there’s whining in newspaper article comments* about how the evil local women force men to find wives abroad because they (ie the foreign women, often from Thailand) appreciate “nice guys”. I don’t think they’d understand it though :-/

    *I really shouldn’t read article comments, but sometimes I can’t stop myself.

  15. They keep describing themselves as “nice”. To overuse the idiom: I do not think that means what you think it means.

    All their behaviour is predicated on the idea that women are interchangeable objects with no right of refusal. This is not “nice”, this is “entitled, selfish, and demeaning”. But then we knew that, which is why they have a specific designation.

    What scares me is the anger they harbour towards women for being people. Sometimes I really think they’d be better off if they all bought silicone “companion” dolls and took themselves out of the dating scene. I know women would be considerably better off.

    My husband is seriously the kind of man these guys would describe as a “jerk” – he’s imposing (despite being average height), he’s got a very colourful past, he’s dated a *lot* of women, and he’s got some great stories about motorcycle accidents. But he’s also completely monogamous, awesomely cool, has tons of friends, respectful, loving, and very tuned in to feminism. He’s also respectful of his exes, and doesn’t trash them in front of me. Hardly a “jerk”. Nice Guys[tm] call this kind of man a “jerk”, because they’re jealous without understanding what it means to be in a real relationship with an equal partner.

    Sure, relationships break up all the time, but not just because guys are jerks, even though in the heat of the moment, one might be moved to describe them as such to a friend, because you need a sympathetic ear. The Nice Guy[tm] doesn’t see that, though, and just assumes that guys who get women are jerks, and if only women were smarter, they’d see what a catch he is. His problem is that women are much smarter than he gives them credit for, and don’t find his antics attractive in the least. Compounding this problem, the NG really buys into the idea that all men deserve the hot model (as you point out), so not only is he unable to handle an autonomous woman, he disappears 90% of all women because he feels he deserves only the best even though he has nothing in particular to recommend him.

    I think women are better off not being noticed by NGs – it’s not like they’ll ever have a satisfying relationship with him, despite all the media and books telling women they need to settle and not keep looking for Mr. Right when Mr. Nice Guys is right here. They always fail to look at it from the woman’s point of view, which rightly asks why in hell they should “settle” for a guy that clearly hates women and won’t ever see them as an equal? I’d rather be single than still married to my ex, who was a quintessential NG (I was young and in love).

    But the NG doesn’t want to know that – look at all the sites that discuss this phenomenon, and how the NGs inevitably find them and start defending themselves without paying any attention to the people (men and women) trying answer their questions about why women won’t date them. What they really want is someone to tell them “hey, women is bitchez, bro – who the hell knows what they want?”, because then it’s not their fault, and they can go on telling themselves how nice they are and never deal with their consuming contempt and hatred for women who dare to have opinions and requirements of their own.

    Long comment is long.

  16. The premise of the “nice guy” defense is they are entitled to whatever women they are attracted to as long as they have devoted sufficient effort and resources in the form of performing “niceness”.

    I third this. It articulates it so clearly.

    Part of me really wants to send this to a fellow student, a “Nice Guy” who is really a picky jerk about dating and doesn’t get that his passive-aggressive “all about ME!” attitude is why he can get dates, but the women don’t stick around past one or two dates. (Really, what woman wants all dates to be training sessions for his triathlons, and have him ignore her pleas to do other things, criticize her for being so high-maintenance as to wear makeup -gasp!-, refuse to attend social events with her friends, etc. Yet he doesn’t understand this because he’s “such an nice guy!”) The other part of me realizes that if I DID send this, I’d have him in my lab all morning trying to understand why I sent it (he treats all of us like his personal therapists/life coaches). And I think he’d miss the point anyway. Not worth my SAUs.

  17. Over the years I’ve had several friends with NiceGuyTM tendencies, and what struck me was that they were always fixated on a particular woman. I can maybe-sort-of-slightly understand “I bathe regularly, read widely, and am kind to animals, so the universe owes me a girlfriend” – that’s just pointless whining about life’s unfairness , and who doesn’t indulge in that occasionally? But what NiceGuysTM are saying is “I bathe, etc, so Susan owes it to me to be my girlfriend”.

    Now, I deal unbelievably badly with rejection, but at least I, like most women, understand that when it happens it is I, MissPrism, who is being rejected by him, Clueless Volefucker. NiceGuys instead turn “Susan will not go out with me” into “women will not go out with nice guys”. This softens the pain of the current rejection, and suggests that there’s no point in making overtures to anyone else either, thereby eliminating the risk of any future rejection. So NiceGuysTM stay in that safe, but lonely place. The “friend zone” thing is mostly projection.

    (I’ve never been on a date off the internet, but many years ago I did have a profile on a dating site. I replied to, I think, two messages and got one stern lecture for having been so RUDE as not to reply to him sooner and one stern lecture for having been so DISHONEST as to not include my full, real, name. I never went near the internet for dating-related purposes ever again. )

  18. “Glover said that nice guys, like himself, were often nonconfrontational and constantly seeking approval — both destructive behaviors in a relationship. Being too nice landed him in divorce court.”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I am unfamiliar with the definition of “nice” that hinges on being passive-aggressive and clingier than a live octopus over a frying pan.

  19. Hint for Nice Guys: If you are treating a woman as a human being only because you want to get into her pants, you are not an actual nice guy. And they can often tell. And try to stay away from you. That’s not being mean, that’s self-preservation.

    Snarky, awesome post. You always manage to put into perfect words so many of the thoughts swimming around in my head.

  20. I’ve had a problem with attracting Nice Guys since I was about 9 years old. This is the one area that has been hardest for me to deal with because I feel guilty about hurting seemingly-nice people and it has been hard for me to admit to myself that they really are just playing on that guilt to make me tolerate them.

    Rejection sucks, and social rules and interactions can be very awkward. I get that. But sometimes asking someone out is like ripping off a band-aid: you should just do it fast and get it over with. If a guy who isn’t my type asks me out right away and I say no, then that’s that and we can both move on with our lives. But if a guy I’m not interested starts creepily rearranging his class schedule so he can show up in my classes, sit thisclose to me, and then politely make boring small talk with me hoping that when he finally gets the courage to ask me out I’ll somehow feel obligated, then it’s just that much worse for everyone involved because those Nice Guys aren’t hiding their interest as well they believe but of course I never jump the gun and just tell him I know what he wants and I don’t want the same thing, because then I’m just arrogant for assuming that some man who obviously likes me actually likes me.

    There was a time in college when I was actually hiding out in the bathroom between classes and having my friends act as look-outs to avoid one guy because it’s socially unacceptable to tell him to leave me alone when he has only admitted to wanting to be my friend, and it’s also socially unacceptable for me to assume he’s lying even though it’s blatantly obvious to everyone that he wanted something other than just friendship. Really, the only way for me to get out of it is to be the “bad guy”, or to date someone who I’m not interested in which would be even worse.

    Sorry about the rant, but this is an issue that I have dealt with for a long time and it’s only recently that I have realized the misogyny and manipulation inherent in it.

  21. And now to make an actual point. I would much rather a jerk become interested in me than a Nice Guy because when I turn down a jerk then society is ok with that, but when I turn down a Nice Guy society thinks I’m terrible for doing so. Give me an arrogant, insulting douche any day. I won’t go out with him, but at least I’ll have a “legitimate” reason to refuse his offer for a date.

    And I think this ties back into rape culture. Women feel like we need to have a “legitimate” or justifiable reason to turn down an offer for a date, and Nice Guys play on that internalized guilt. I shouldn’t need a reason to say no to a date. It doesn’t matter if I’m not interested in some guy because of a “real” reason or because of some “shallow” reason. I have no obligation to date anyone that I choose not to.

  22. I always think that a man who really believes himself to be a “Nice guy” and wears it as a badge of suffering is a passive aggresive timebomb waiting to blow.

  23. Great post. I know a few guys who are friends with my larger friends group who consider themselves Nice Guys, but also consider it a compliment and not an insult. They don’t understand why, when they show no signs of being an entire person themselves (ie: by doing whatever the girl wants to do, by never having an opinion) and are only offering the girl a chance to be put on a pedestal by a guy who will expect affection in return for the least amount of “niceness”, they don’t get dates and they can’t find a girlfriend.

    *headdesk*

  24. The words “He’s such a nice guy! Why don’t you give him a chaaaaance” trigger an immediate gag reflex and eyebrow twitch. No. No, I will not “give a chance” to someone that makes me feel icky, who I do not like being around, who frightens me or who smells like dirty feet. Not again. Not any more.

    Yeah, that whole “nice guys wah wah” script, repeated over and over and over all across the whole of effin’ creation? That sank into my brain and got to me, as a wee little Lamp. “Oh no!” I thought. “If I don’t give awkward and shy guys a chance, I’m being a HORRIBLE BITCH. I don’t wanna be that.” And in the name of avoiding being horrible and also a bitch, I put myself in all kinds of uncomfy-making and unpleasant situations.

    To hell with all of that. The “Nice Guy” talk, the one happening in this post… it’s not new to me anymore, but it once was. And it needs to be shouted from the freakin’ ROOFTOPS. It needs to be OUT THERE. Everyone NEEDS TO KNOW THIS STUFF. If I’d have been made aware of it as a teen I’d have been saved no end of awful times.

  25. Moreover, I suspect some of those women felt it odd that you did not play well with those on your end of the gender spectrum. That is one of my GLARING red flags for anyone. If you can’t play well with folks in your own sandbox, I view it as a HUGE SCARECROW and I run out of that cornfield ASAP.

    Call me another who was a little iffy on this. Obviously you’re welcome to draw whatever conclusions you wish and that’s cool, but the size of the sandbox (here comes a ridiculously mixed metaphor) isn’t always that black and white. Whether I play well with “men” or not is probably debateable, but I’m the kind of guy that was always crap at sports, short and wiry, and a little too focussed on niche interests to be a man’s man; I didn’t get a great reception in high school, let’s say. That said, I’m still firmly on the male end of the gender spectrum, but have typically had few male friends. To expect that people will get along because of shared anatomy (for that is essentially what you’re saying here; the sandbox you’re offering is “maleness” and the vast majority of males are the external genital kind) is at best, questionable.

    I agree with your statement in the comment above that people benefit from having friends of a variety of genders, but a GLARING (all caps) red flag for someone not to feel kinship with a certain group of people, just because they’re in same said loose group? Do you apply this view to matters other than gender? How would you feel about a Latin American without any Latin American friends? A carpenter without any carpenter friends? Obviously each individual group shares a number of life experiences, but must we identify with all groups in which we are members in order to gain your trust; even if we are in those groups not through choice but through nature or birth? On the whole it just feels a little unfair (and more than a little circular) to be expecting groups of people to like one another just because they’re groups of people.

  26. catgirl, I know exactly what you’re talking about because I went through the same thing in high school. All of my friends used to tease me loudly in class about it and every day was really awkward.

    What made it worse was after a particularly grueling exam he invited me to hang out for lunch. Cornered, I told him sure. It’s just lunch, right? Stupid move because of course he assumed it was a date. After I explained to him I just wanted to be friends I thought it was all over. Of course it wasn’t. For the rest of the year he continued to call me and ask me out, just unable to take no for an answer. He even called my friends asking for advice on how to get me to change my mind. It was a nightmare. But he was a nice guy so obviously I was just a bitch leading him on.

  27. O, Snarky’s Machine, this is a subject near and dear to my heart.

    The men who are able to date women successfully have a couple things that Nice Guys don’t right out of the starting gate.

    1) They generally ask directly for what they want. “I’ve really liked talking to you, can I take you to dinner sometime?”
    2) If you say no, they say “Ok, had to ask” and then they never bring it up again. The interaction goes back to being friendly and social with no lingering weirdness.

    The Nice Guy tends to:

    1) Agonize about asking the woman out. Catgirl has a great (and horrifying) description of that guy. XKCD also sums it up pretty well. http://www.xkcd.com/513/
    2) Invest so much time and energy into passively aggressively trying to get you to like him, that when he finally does ask you out if you say “no” he’s super-angry.

    I recently had an interaction on OKCupid where a guy chatted me out of the blue. I closed the chat window. He chatted again. I closed it again. He chatted again. I closed it again. He chatted again, and stupidly, I engaged. And then I engaged….too long, too long…. I kept hitting the block button and he kept popping up like a hydra.

    “Hi, I don’t want to chat with you. That’s why I keep closing the window.”
    “Why not, cutie?”
    “I am not interested in you. Goodnight.”

    Actually, let me go find that transcript: TRIGGER WARNING OUT THE WAZOO. And very bad language. Mods, I understand if this is inappropriate, but it is quite illustrative of a “Nice Guy” in action.

    (12:02:40 am)DUDE:beotch

    (12:02:49 am)DUDE:suck my balls

    (12:02:58 am)JENNIFERP:Take the hint dude.

    (12:03:15 am)DUDE:in your ass and then your eye cunt

    (12:03:29 am)DUDE:captain cuntface

    (12:03:58 am)JENNIFERP:Look, I said I didn’t want to talk to you, then you called me a bitch.

    (12:04:04 am)JENNIFERP:That tells me you hate women and are undateable.

    (12:04:08 am)JENNIFERP:Go away and stop harrassing me.

    (12:04:21 am)DUDE:i meant cunt and I only hate your type

    (12:04:27 am)JENNIFERP:What’s my type?

    (12:04:32 am)JENNIFERP:People who don’t like you on sight?

    (12:04:41 am)JENNIFERP:I closed the chat window when I didn’t want to talk.

    (12:04:43 am)JENNIFERP:You kept typing.

    (12:04:49 am)JENNIFERP:I said I didn’t want to talk to you.

    (12:05:08 am)DUDE:so blow me then

    (12:05:13 am)JENNIFERP:If you’re wondering why no one will touch your shriveled dick, this conversation is why.

    (12:05:28 am)DUDE:how intellectual you Arent

    (12:05:44 am)DUDE:pardon i assumed you had a brain

    (12:05:47 am)JENNIFERP:Go masturbate into a lonely sock.

    (12:06:14 am)JENNIFERP:Guys like you get one second of rejection and it becomes all about how much you hate women.

    (12:06:25 am)JENNIFERP:I don’t have to talk to you or like you.

    (12:06:33 am)DUDE:bitch Ive talked to normal hetero women al night

    (12:06:46 am)JENNIFERP:Whatever, I personally do not like you or find you interesting.

    (12:06:55 am)JENNIFERP:Pressing block button. Enjoy your life.

    (12:07:08 am)DUDE:youre just a serial dater.. noone likes you ,, u just eat for free and shake your hips and go home in the am

    (12:07:16 am)DUDE:BLOW ME LOSER

    (12:07:20 am)JENNIFERP:You know nothing about me.

    (12:07:26 am)JENNIFERPd:I always pay my own way, first of all.

    (12:07:37 am)DUDE:sure you do

    (12:07:52 am)JENNIFERP:Second, if I were a serial dater I’d be interested in getting some of that sweet money out of you, right?

    (12:07:57 am)JENNIFERP:But I said I wasn’t interested immediately.

    (12:08:03 am)DUDE:i know a cunt when i come across one

    (12:08:12 am)DUDE:your daddy didnt play woth you enuff

    (12:08:13 am)JENNIFERP:And I know a stalker rapist asshole when I see one.

    (12:08:21 am)DUDE:uh huh your daddy

    (12:08:30 am)DUDE:he says nice things about you

    (12:08:37 am)DUDE:and your throat

    So yeah….a nice guy.

  28. Mods, I just realized – I should have redacted that dude’s username in my post above, otherwise he’ll be able to have publicly identifying information. Can you delete or edit the post?

  29. It’s interesting to see how Nice Guys define themselves, isn’t it? For me, I found the best way to actually sort out the really nice guys was to watch how they handled themselves with others, not me. A really nice guy is polite and helpful to everyone, not just those he’s interested in or who can help him in some way. He acts in a moral way, just because it’s right; one of the things I really liked about my husband right off was that he absolutely refused to drink and drive, not even one drink. How does he treat waiters and other service people, like individuals or just robots (this can be tricky, it’s not about the tips, but about respect). Does he need to tear other people down to feel good? Does he *like* to tear other people down? What kind of gossip does he pass on? There’s good gossip which is just news about friends; and bad gossip which hurts people’s reputation.

  30. What made it worse was after a particularly grueling exam he invited me to hang out for lunch. Cornered, I told him sure. It’s just lunch, right? Stupid move because of course he assumed it was a date. After I explained to him I just wanted to be friends I thought it was all over.

    Fortunately, I’ve never been pressured enough to actually agree to a date. However, there have been many, many times where I have actually apologized for saying no to a date.

    But what if you don’t want to be “just friends” because you don’t want to be friends with him at all? I don’t want to be friends with someone who is late to class just so he can follow me around like a lost puppy. I don’t want to be friends with someone who sits thisclose to me in lecture even though my actual friends usually try to leave one seat in between (more conducive to conversation). I don’t want to be friends with someone whose entire schedule seems to revolve around mine. That’s not nice; it’s creepy. I also don’t want to be friends with some guy who has apparently been listening to me talking for the past few weeks but then asks me on a veiled date to do something that I clearly don’t enjoy doing. Maybe I’d be willing to go out with a genuinely nice guy who actually listened to me and bothered to figure out what I actually want (and a good way to find that out is to just ask!), but some guy who follows me around like a lost puppy and then invites me to baseball game when I have made it extremely clear that I have no interest in sports whatsoever is not the kind of guy I would ever go out with even if he bathed regularly and looked like Brad Pitt.

  31. @JenniferP: Holy hell. Yup, that’s NG-ism all over; be nice until you don’t get what you want.

    They don’t hate women because women won’t date them, they hate women. And that’s why women won’t date them in the first place.

  32. I don’t know how they always fail to remember one very important rule of dating:

    Getting a date/lover/partner is Not a Right.

    Sure, most people will at some point, but nobody’s entitled to get what they want in the lurve department, just because they happen to want it. I know that, and I know so many others know that. WTF is wrong with these guys, hmm?

    My BFF was a magnet for those guys in high school and college. One guy actually used, “I have cancer, go out with me” after MONTHS of “I like you as a friend only.” Years later, while she was with someone else, she (and her boyfriend) went to his graduation. He’d apparently gotten over the whole bothering-her-for-a-date thing and they were still hanging out as friends (I wouldn’t have, since I hated the guy, but band nerds stick together or something). They were even talking about renting a place all together–BFF and Boyfriend and Nice Guy, but then in the thank you note he sent her for his grad gift he mentioned, “I still think we would make a good couple.” :P

    @Jennifer P. This is what I try to remember when those dudes keep trying to chat: “Don’t get in a mud fight with a pig, because the pig likes it.”

  33. @catgirl (so jealous of your cute icon, btw!): but some guy who follows me around like a lost puppy and then invites me to baseball game when I have made it extremely clear that I have no interest in sports whatsoever is not the kind of guy I would ever go out with even if he bathed regularly and looked like Brad Pitt.

    I’ve gotten this, when I’ve expressed dislike of being basically stalked by someone who wants to date me: “You would like it if he looked like George Clooney!” No. No I wouldn’t. It’s not the looks, it’s the behaviour. Sure, most guys don’t look like Brad Pitt or George Clooney, but that’s not the point. Someone who stalks me, or doesn’t bathe, or spews filth at me when I gently turn them down could look like a freakin’ Adonis personified, I still wouldn’t like it.

  34. Oh, this is an awesome post! So were the linked articles and blogs! the Sodini thing was a scary thing, and I live in Pittsburgh, so we got to see and hear all the worst of it, unfortunately.

    I am one of those girls who, basically my entire life, has been attracted to pretty guys and beautiful women with personalities that range from “kind of a jerk” to “complete and total asshole”. Emphasis on attracted, though – almost all of my relationships that moved beyond casual talking were with so-called “nice guys”. These were the dudes that lulled me into the sense of false security – I could trust them, right, these (often church-going) polite, generic guys who said I was so great.
    Those relationships were *terrible*. It didn’t take long to see that the relationships were the kind where I was being used by them for whatever reason – thankfully, I was young enough that the early ones didn’t lead to any major consequences, but a later one resulted in me feeling guilty and disgusted with myself for a long, long time.

    The funny thing, though, is that my husband is one of the so called “complete jerk”, according to basically every person I know, but he’s wonderful and treats me with more respect than any of the nice guys ever did.

    I guess some of it is perspective, and some of it is how you treat and respect YOURSELF. When I dated nice guys, I hated myself. Now, even though I’m struggling with my self confidence and self respect, I have more than I ever did, and my husband shows me more respect than I show myself (most of the time).

  35. Oh, let me share another story about my dealings with Nice Guys. Rejection sucks, and I know it. I’m very empathetic so I always felt really bad for hurting anyone’s feelings. So when I was a teenager, I came up with a clever plan to get rid of Nice Guys without ever needing to actually reject them. I became a bitch, but never toward the Nice Guy. He acted like my friend so I would tell him horrible things about other people. It was all an act, but I pretended to be a complete snob. I’d tell him how horrible some girl’s clothes were or make fun of some guy’s hair. I would never make fun of the Nice Guy directly, but I would be as mean as I could muster about everyone else. More than once a Nice Guy said, “I used to like you but now I think you’re just mean.” Of course they were trying to insult me but they had no idea that I had known along they liked me and that I was secretly thrilled to be rid of them without making them feel sad and rejected. Of course this doesn’t excuse my behavior, and I gave up being mean because it was just too tiring. But I eventually realized that even though I thought I was such a progressive feminists (doing well in math and science, having casual sex for my own enjoyment), I still felt that it was my duty to bend over backwards to prop up men’s egos and make it my responsibility to protect them from ever feeling sad. I will feel truly liberated if I can get over this, but it really helps to read blogs like this. You commenters have no idea how much it really helps to hear your perspective.

  36. But to get back to the point of the post, rather than me reciting anecdotes from my pitiful past, it is really interesting (where interesting=really damn predictable) that these articles always blame women for not being interested. That is male privilege in brilliant action – men cannot be questioned as to why they might be undesirable, because the default assumption is that every woman wants a man, and if a man cannot find a willing woman, it is her fault.

    He can be a Nice Guy[tm] in all his glory, woman-hating, thinking he’s superior, massively picky about the woman he deigns to date and at the same time completely unconcerned with how he appears because he’s “nice” and that’s all that should matter, and he’s only being rejected by women because they like “jerks”. Riiiiiight.

    Men fail at dating = Women’s fault.
    Women fail at dating = Women’s fault.
    Men successful at dating = Women are too stupid to want to date Nice Guys.
    Women successful at dating someone else = Carry a torch for her always and get increasingly bitter and hostile to all women because one of them didn’t date you.

    And this is considered the proper construction of the dating scene as far as MSM is concerned.

  37. I always think that a man who really believes himself to be a “Nice guy” and wears it as a badge of suffering is a passive aggresive timebomb waiting to blow.

    Yeah, I have a few thoughts about that myself.

    Snarky, interesting point about no guy friends being a red flag. I’d never really thought of that before, but yeah. I have no problem judging women who brag about having all guy friends and not getting along with other women (ftr, I don’t judge those who, through circumstances, just happen not to have many female friends), but hadn’t classified guys with no guy friends the same way in my head. (Which might be because I’ve been lucky enough not to spend time with any guys like that over the years.) I mean, it’s not the same, insofar as women who reject other women are generally doing it to earn points with the patriarchy (whether they’re conscious of it or not), but the bottom line is, if you think an entire gender is unworthy of your friendship, there’s a fucking problem.

    JenniferP, I’ll edit your comment.

  38. @laura m: “What scares me is the anger they harbour towards women for being people. Sometimes I really think they’d be better off if they all bought silicone “companion” dolls and took themselves out of the dating scene. I know women would be considerably better off.”

    Amen.

  39. @JenniferP – yup, that sure is a NG(TM) in action. And your thread at least illustrates how, once you’ve reached some unknown tipping point, you CANNOT get out of the damn
    interaction with them.

    @Snarky
    “This piece is another shining example of CNN’s commitment to clown horn journalism.”
    Maybe they should just be upfront and change it to CHNN?

    And your point about how there is no parsing of WHY “women don’t like nice guys” is really important, because, to use some Jane Austen, there can be no tolerable motive for it. Any reasonable discussion, or presentation, of you know, actual women’s experiences in these situations will do all kinds of things that are bad for the patriarchy like aknowledging that women have the right to chose who they date, women understand perfectly well the difference between nice people and people who are creepy-to-potentially dangerous, give women equal agency in the dating game rather than being “game” to be “hunted”. Can’t have any of that shit floating around in the patriarchy pool now, can we?

  40. I too am tempted to pass this along to Mr. Ori’s “Nice Guy” friend. The guy who I asked to leave my house after we watched a TV show and his comment about every woman who appeared on TV was “bitch” or “Slut” or “yeah I’d like to fuck her.”

    Dude.

    The reason no one will date you is because you are fundamentally undateable. That’s not Women: The Monolithic Entity’s fault. It’s alllll you, my friend. Alllllll you.

    (Actually I will never ever do that because a) I’m afraid of what the friend will do and b) I’m afraid that Mr. Ori will get mad at me for being “mean” to his friend. Though, he’s getting better at realizing why Friend is not actually the kind of person that’s worth being friends with. Or even all that polite to.)

    Also, I can’t reccomend this Nice Guy takedown enough: http://tiny.cc/joi51

  41. Sorry for replying again without a response, but I realised that I stupidly responded to the part I was iffy about without responding to the part I agreed wholeheartedly with (like everything else and all of the commenters here). So here’s my proper, non-finicky response.

    As a heterosexual guy (did you guess?) I’ve probably experienced a lot less of the Nice Guy syndrome than most or all of those who seek (or more accurately in our scenario, are targeted by) males for romantic accompaniment–Nice Guys tend toward being guys, although notably not exclusively. As long as we’re sharing stories, I had a friend in high school who was newly integrating in perhaps the 9th grade or so after moving from out of town. Perhaps because I was perceived by my teacher as a nice guy (or perhaps a Nice Guy, I can’t rightly be sure) I was asked to show our new student around during my lunch break. This was fine by me, she seemed nice enough and it was high school, I’m certain I had nothing more appealing to do; although I must admit a fondness to standing around in what passed for a garden in a suburban Melbourne public school.

    So I happily gave her the tour and we chatted; when the tour was done she naturally ended up in the “garden” with me and my friends at the time, a characteristically lanky Chinese guy who outstood everyone else in his family by more than a head, and a Maltese kid on exchange whose English was a bit poor who had joined our little garden party in much the same way as this girl. I go into specifics not for the diversity brownie points (we wouldn’t have earned many in the melting pot of western Melbourne) but simply to demonstrate that we were not and likely never would be the popular kids; our mutual interests involved rapping on the steel portable and thinking we were smarter than everybody else (we weren’t).

    So it turned out that this girl became a regular in our little clique, and I got to know her; a couple months older than me, younger brother, practicing Wiccan, unhappy fat chick. I enjoyed her company about as much as that of my other friends, no more or no less, and I felt no physical or romantic attraction to her (at a time when I was in high school and not nearly as culturally detached with regard to acceptable bodies as I probably believed [rebellious I felt that being attracted to a Vietnamese girl made me quite the rogue], her large frame, I suspect, was a part of my lack of an impetus for physical closeness). I assumed she felt the same non-interest toward me, until my lanky friend began insisting (when she was not present) that she had been asking questions of momentous implications (when I was not present).

    As Snarky said above, no response is itself a response, and this was my attitude at the time. I wasn’t interested, had expressed no interest, and things would naturally peter out. What I hadn’t considered (and certainly not in such terms) was that I might be dealing with a Nice Guy. She would ask me over for dinner, or to go see a movie, etc. I would sometimes turn her down, and others, mirroring so many others above, let her guilt me into doing things (like the aforementioned, not those things) with her. My continued disinterest in her as a romantic partner was either not getting across or was being ignored (Nice Guy alert). On one of these occasions, she asked, pointedly, if I would be able to like a girl, even if she was fat. I still ache for her at having that be a question that was a) on her mind, presumably for some time, and probably long after her interest had moved on from me; and b) pretty reasonable.

    I said (with honesty, but I admit, begrudgingly, because I knew what my answer would mean to her; or else would be taken to mean), “Of course.” She was happy to hear this, taking it to mean that she still had a chance with me, rather than the opposite–I could like a fat girl, but I did not like her. I continued the dance of denying her a few times and finally breaking down and agreeing to something; once she came home with me after school and did not leave until after dinner, though she was not invited for dinner. My mother very politely made dinner for five, but unfortunately it was carbonara and she was lactose intolerant, which lead to an awkward meal with her not eating (despite offers of alternative food), which became more–exponentially more–awkward when, unprovoked, she offered “I can’t believe they found cancer.” Obviously someone had to ask, and since she was my friend, everyone looked to me to do it. “Sorry?” “Oh, when I was a kid they found a tumour in my ankle.” “Oh. I’m sorry.”

    Eventually she moved away from our school again, though still close enough to visit if by car, and she would call incessantly. In this time I began refusing to answer the phone, instructing my family to tell her I was out if ever she rang. She still continued calling, and on one day after calling multiple times on a day when we were being visited by relatives, the calls stopped for a time and I assumed she understood either that I was busy or not interested. Instead, it turned out that she was walking to my house (perhaps a two hour walk) when my cousin saw a girl walking up and down my front fence. My cousin moved the curtain to peek, and she moved on; hours later, she called again, to say that she had just walked by my house, and she knew I was home because curtain had moved. I expressed to her as delicately as possible that this had been extremely creepy and unappreciated.

    To be honest, the story (and I know it was so long to have no real pay-off, I do apologise) kind of peters out there; she continued calling for some months, during which I refused to answer any calls from her for any reason, at any time of day. The calls gradually trailed off and finally the ordeal was over. This Nice Guy had spent years of her high school life pursuing me despite my making it clear through actions and words that I was uninterested in a romantic relationship with her. It was a situation which was uncomfortable, made me feel unempowered, and which toward the end made me actually fearful as to her motives or intentions. It’s such a terrible shame that niceness has become so maligned by the scourge of the Nice Guy, to the point where it is in fact an insult and even something to be feared.

    I apologise again for the length of this comment, I hope someone at least found this alternative perspective on the Nice Guy interesting.

  42. @Oriniwen
    Yeah, my boyfriend has a “Nice Guy” friend I think should really take Snarky’s article to heart, but if I do it will just start a huge fight. Any time one of his friends says something abelist or sexist or racist or whatever he doesn’t want me to say anything because, “You might hurt their feelings or make them angry!”

  43. Oh yeah, I also thought of something else. If Nice Guys see that jerks are getting all the “chicks”, then why don’t they just become blatant jerks? They apparently know what works, so why don’t they just give that a try and see if it will work for them too?

  44. Snarky, interesting point about no guy friends being a red flag. I’d never really thought of that before, but yeah. I have no problem judging women who brag about having all guy friends and not getting along with other women (ftr, I don’t judge those who, through circumstances, just happen not to have many female friends), but hadn’t classified guys with no guy friends the same way in my head.

    I just haven’t had many good experiences with folks of any gender – though particularly men, as women like this don’t tend to flock to me since I smack down the “women are too catty/vapid/tiresome” meme as soon as I hear it – who aren’t able to maintain friendships with others of the gender they identity with. Obviously, since I don’t frame gender as a binary there are lots of ins, outs and whathaveyous, but for the most part it feels creepy to me and says more about them and less about the perceived lack of worthiness of others of their gender identity.

    I mean at least with women there are systems in place actively encouraging us to fight among ourselves like jackals, smacking down women perceived to be “lesser” and in many cases reaping benefits when we do.

    However, since there is no benefits I’ve observed from men doing the same I am just not entirely sure why the “nice guys” believe it to be useful.

    I find the most mansplainy mens tend to be no-other-menfolk-friend-having “nice guys”. They also tend to be ones actively trying to suggest otherwise, which reads as extra crispy creepy to me.

    I can walk into any ________(insert the name of a place were average blokes congregate) and find ten guys mansplaining for fun and profit, but when it’s called out they aren’t going to try to gaslight me into believing they aren’t doing it, since they aren’t likely to frame it as problematic. On the other hand, Mr. I Don’t Like Other Guys is still benefiting from male privilege and the fact he actively seeks out venues where he is mostly likely the only one with that delicious goodie, he’s got no peers to modulate his behavior, thus is able to engage in his fuckery unabated.

  45. To quote the great Sondheim: “Nice Is Different Than Good.”

    Also, I love this post, the only thing I don’t totally love is the exortation to “lower your standards.” It makes sense but it bothers me, because I don’t think people should have no standards at all for who they date, I just think their standards should be based on compatibility, not looks or money. My standards are ridiculously high, some people would not see this because they only see that my boyfriend is fat and currently unemployed. So on a superficial level, not that great, but on a compatibility with me level, he ranks extremely high. (Which is not an easy thing to do.)

    But I guess before any actual nice guys got to where I am they’d have to start treating women as actual people… so yeah… ignore me.

  46. Snarky, great article…ugh, Nice Guy entitlement. Science should look into applying its sheer structural strength and imperviousness to outside forces to something useful.

    @catgirl: Yeah, I’m dealing with one of the ‘just wanna be friends’ guys as of a few days ago at work. When he decided to chat me up, I made it very clear that I am Not Dating Right Now, On Purpose, and reiterated that when he asked for my number, to which he replied that he didn’t want to date me, he just wanted to talk to me. I am admittedly horrible at reading people and social situations, but this one is obvious enough to merit a rousing, “yeah, right.” I don’t know what’s worse, his lack of respect for my current life choices because they conflict with what he wants, or the fact that he obviously thinks I’m clueless enough to fall for his line. Getting dates: ur doin it rong.

    (Add to that a heaping side order of Schrodinger’s Rapist issues–he’s one of the evening maintenance dudes, and decided to approach me when I was working late and was the only one left in my part of the office. So freaking sensitive. Thus I’m kinda apprehensive about telling him exactly where to stick it if he persists, as the whole being alone in the office thing is likely to occur again fairly frequently. )

  47. Also, I love this post, the only thing I don’t totally love is the exortation to “lower your standards.” It makes sense but it bothers me, because I don’t think people should have no standards at all for who they date, I just think their standards should be based on compatibility, not looks or money.

    Exactly. Three things: compatibility, shared belief system/life values, commiserate levels of attractiveness. I think these are the things that are often present in partnerships that “go the distance”. Obviously, it’s not simplistic, but overall it’s the elements I’ve examined specifically when studying mating habits and such.

    “Lower your standards” has nothing to do physical qualities specifically, but a notion that simply because a man wants an astronaut Barbie doesn’t mean he’s entitled to one. You can want whatever you want, but at the end of the day you get what you get, and the choice is yours as to whether you’re gonna let go of the fantasies and be a grown up about what the mate options available to you if long term partnership is the stated goal.

    I do believe most folks set their standards unrealistically high and a) do not know the kind of person who would truly make a great partner for them b) use this unicorn hunt to deny appropriate and wonderful partners already in their environment because they do not meet this rigorous standard. (e.g. writing off folks simply because they are fat, of color, Trans, disabled, whathaveyou)

    There’s actually a whole piece I wrote about dating and such, but I didn’t want to cite a 1500 word rant in this piece. So your point is duly noted and hopefully I’ve unpacked it here more thoroughly.

  48. @catgirl: I had a similar experience in high school. By “a”, I actually mean multiple experiences that never stopped, oh my god. I was supremely socially awkward as a teenager, which sometimes translated as “shy”, but other times translated as “blunt and tactless.” I told plenty of Nice Guys in these exact words: “I don’t like you sexually or emotionally and I’m not ever going to date you, and I understand if that makes you upset and you don’t want to be friends,” because I figured, hey, if it was me, I’d want somebody to be honest. And it was *exactly* as effective as hiding in a closet. Actually, less, because now I was talking to them.

    Only once in high school did I ever find the magic button-mash combo that made the Nice Guy go away. It was a class with assigned seating and a very snotty teacher who did not allow you to move your seat due to “social” or “personal” problems, so I was stuck with dude. I tried being shy and I tried being honest, and then I finally tried being mean, which I thought would make the earth crack open and swallow me into “YOU ARE A SHITTY PERSON” hell, but he just went on showing me his poetry like I hadn’t just said, “You’re ugly, I want to puke when you come near me, leave me alone.” I said it a few more times just to make sure I had, in fact, said these words out loud, and he just kept on nattering about Yeats and clutching at his dragon pendant. Oh my god, that fuckshit.

    One day, I was with a group of friends when I saw him approaching, so I put my back to him and started loudly talking to my friends. “You guys, you know that dude in English class? He is the ugliest. I hate him so much. He is boring and stupid.” My friends were desperately trying to signal that he was RIGHT BEHIND ME, so I just kept going. “He talks to me every day, and I told him I hate him, but he just ignores it because he is ignorant. Oh my god, don’t you just wish guys like that would die?”

    He finally stopped bothering me after that, and I overheard him telling some people that he had been “eavesdropping” on me and heard me gossip about him “behind [his] back,” so I was like a total bitch now and he didn’t like me anymore. :D All I could figure was that taking a straightforward rejection from me would have made it look too much like I had some kind of social power to define my own boundaries, and the narrative would have been that a woman had rejected him because he was somehow inadequate as a man (man being defined as somebody who talks to women like they’re stuffed animals at a tea party and expects swoony kissy-face in return). But if his narrative was that he had sneakily acquired access to my personal feelings without my consent and found my secret intimate thoughts and feelings to be inadequate, he maintained the social power and was able to reject me as a woman (woman being defined as somebody properly performing their role as a bouffant Yeats receptacle).

    Or maybe he just thought telling him I hated him and hated his face and hated his teeth and how much I have to look at them because YOU ARE ALWAYS TALKING was some elaborate mating ritual. Maybe he was only able to take me at my word when he saw me repeat these things in a social context in which there was no conceivable way I could be trying to acquire his cock as an end-goal. Like, as long as sex with the creepy man was a possibility, however remote, everything I said and did was pre-determined to be in pursuit of that goal. Once that possibility was out of the picture (because I was hanging out with a bunch of ladies and presumably didn’t know he was there), suddenly when I said X it meant X, instead of “I love you secretly, sticking my finger down my throat and making gagging noises every time you talk is just how I show I care.”

    God. GOD. So much wasted time and resources these guys spend “cultivating” inner jerks when they are already rich with assholes. It’s like they’re laboriously panning for gold with jewel-encrusted buckets.

    @Snarky and everybody else who’s said it: I used to be one of those girls who had no friendships with other women. I have dim memories of those days — looking back, it’s just a soft flashback frame of X-Men movies, pot smoke, and Zappa albums that never end. I do not blame other women for not wanting to hang out with me. I am shocked and amazed that there were men who did. Sexism — making your friendships crass and formulaic!

  49. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am unfamiliar with the definition of “nice” that hinges on being passive-aggressive and clingier than a live octopus over a frying pan.

    preying mantis – you made me laugh out loud. As a Pratchett fan, that immediately made me think of Maskerade and Senor Basilica’s supper.

    Now, I deal unbelievably badly with rejection, but at least I, like most women, understand that when it happens it is I, MissPrism, who is being rejected by him, Clueless Volefucker. NiceGuys instead turn “Susan will not go out with me” into “women will not go out with nice guys”. This softens the pain of the current rejection, and suggests that there’s no point in making overtures to anyone else either, thereby eliminating the risk of any future rejection. So NiceGuysTM stay in that safe, but lonely place. The “friend zone” thing is mostly projection.

    MissPrism – Clueless Volefucker is clearly exactly the kind of chap sans clue who molests small mammals if he rejects a woman of your genius. Anyway, yes, you’re absolutely right – it is a man’s privilege to judge all women by whichever one has somehow failed to see that a clingy and obsessive person such as himself would make a great life-partner.

    I have a friend with Nice GuyTM tendencies. He tends to meet a woman who is in some kind of vulnerable place, fall absolutely obsessively in love with her, work hard to become her bestest friend in the whole wide world and go-to person, to the point where quite a few of them have just started to take advantage of him (one of them had him babysit her child free once a week for four years), never makes a move, and then is utterly devastated when they inevitably recover from their period of low self-esteem and meet someone new.

    The other day when I was having dinner with him, after hearing another story of how he’d fallen in love with a woman who clearly wasn’t interested, I found myself bursting out, “Why can’t you just find some nice girl that you like who likes you back?” He was a bit taken aback, but seemed open to the idea that the difficulty he had in finding relationships was partly down to the fact that he kept going after the sort of women who were either (a) way out of his league (if you’re 38 and not all that handsome, don’t try to hit on the gorgeous 25-year-old who already has a boyfriend and who has done everything other than scream “Get away from me!” to make it clear that she isn’t interested), or (b) in such a bad place right now that they will accept any kind of interest in order to make them feel better about themselves, but they still don’t want to be in an actual relationship with him, they just like having him around because it reassures them that they are still attractive (I’ve been in that low-self-esteem place myself, so I’m not judging them too harshly).

    He is genuinely a nice guy. It’s just that he has these Nice Guy tendencies as well. His saving grace is that he’s too intelligent to tar all women with the same brush – but he still seems to think that the universe owes him a superhot girlfriend and said girlfriend will just fall into his lap without him ever having to take a risk and ask her out as long as he can inveigle his way into her life as a “friend” first and be the bestest friend that ever was.

    I ended up saying to him, dude – when it comes to love, life is not fair. There’s no rule that says if you work really hard, this girl has to love you. You think that because you put a lot of effort in, you deserve for something to come from it, but attraction has nothing to do with the amount of work you put into getting someone’s attention. You should put the effort in, yes, but put it in to making the best of yourself; be the kind, good, funny, intelligent person that you are, and trust that there is someone out there who is looking for someone just like you.

    Of course, it’s largely the fact that he is so insecure and has no confidence that puts women off in the first place. I mean, he’s a funny, geeky guy who is obsessed with Doctor Who, loves gadgets and music, reads Murakami novels and is really, really kind. There’s a lot of women out there who would like a man like that, but he’s either sighing after some unattainable woman or freezing up in panic when anyone shows an interest in him. I keeping telling him, women are people too. You have loads of female friends and you don’t freeze up when you talk to them – just to talk to the women you fancy like you talk to us. But he’s out of practice and I know it must be terrifying for him.

    Ah, it feels good to have got that off my chest. Sorry for the long splurge… I think there was a general point in there when I started to write it, but it got lost.

    Anyway, shorter me: my advice for borderline Nice Guys like my friend:
    (1) Work hard to make sure you like yourself and don’t expect a relationship to fix all your problems – it won’t. Don’t look for validation in other people.
    (2) Look for people who are on your wavelength and whom you find attractive, not just people who fit social definitions of hotness.
    (3) Take a risk. Do not bumble along forever in the Friend Zone (hereby renamed the Denial Zone, as both parties know exactly what’s going on). Either ask her out or accept that you are only ever going to be friends and believe it.

  50. Just taking this opportunity to say I <3 Snarky's Machine.

    Also, I am currently married to a nice guy (I'm not capitalizing it, because he is actually a really nice person, not the douches we're talking about). He did have a lot of trouble getting dates in high school and college (so did I), but here's an interesting thing: he never blamed women for it. It was never, "What more do they want from me?" He didn't really blame anybody. He said, "Well, this sucks. I am lonely. Guess I'll do my best and see what happens."

    And, you know, he ended up with me. So it worked out pretty well for him, treating women like people and all.

  51. Far too much celluloid has been wasted instructing men that hounding the hell out of a women after she’s repeatedly rebuffed his advances is just one tool in a well stocked dating arsenal.

    YES YES YES!!! I am sick of these “Gross Out Comedies” as you mention, that feature some dweeb guy turning the head of the most popular hottie. Dweeb women NEVER get the hottie guy unless they transform themselves from ducklings to swans. But dweeb guys are just inherently awesome, apparently. I hate these trophy girlfriend types of movies with a passion.

    In my experience, “nice guys” are comparing themselves to true assholes; they don’t seem to realize that not beating a woman, not cheating on a woman, not refusing to work, and not going to jail doesn’t make you awesome.

    I have a few male friends who are nice + single, but I have far, far more nice female friends who are single, so I totally see the nice guy finishes last trope as just another aspect of male entitlement.

  52. @i-geek

    The criticism of make-up (and other similar things such as hair dying) has been something common to every single Nice Guy I’ve known or dated. All those I’ve known have had a fixation on women being “natural”. They’ve all complained about women wearing too much make-up which they don’t “need”, and another common comment I hear is how they’d love to know what those women really look like.

    My Nice Guy exes would inspect parts of me to check if they were untouched, as I’d said they were. One would fuss around in my hair, exclaiming, “the colour looks too uniform to be natural… are you sure you haven’t dyed this?”. Another had an obsession with my eyebrows and would accusingly tell me they looked as though I’d plucked them since he’d last seen me.

    They were always looking for some sign of deception from me.

    It still embarrasses me somewhat that I never noticed that kind of behaviour for what it was. Although something about it bothered me at the back of my mind, I was never able to put my finger on what it was until years later.

  53. About lowering your standards to a reasonable level:

    Once at an adoption seminar, I attended a workshop on the “consumer” mindset you see with some parents and agencies. An agency head told us what he does with consumer parents. Note, this was his humorous take on how he does it, pitched to a room of professionals who are well-versed in the mindset of consumer parents and what they (un)secretly believe about adoptable children. IRL, he pitches it very differently.

    Consumer parents will come in and say, “We are looking for the perfect child. We don’t want damaged goods. The child must ride horses and get A’s in geometry. They will enjoy the piano. They will not throw tantrums too often, and will listen to me when I tell them what’s what. They will not develop lots of physical problems, and will not act in ways that require me to learn more about children and parenting.”

    In response, he will say, “Okay, that’s great. We have that child. But we are only giving that child to parents who own a stable full of horses, and can provide transcripts from college that show a 3.9 GPA or higher. These parents are also required to know and be able to discuss music theory. They can’t get angry, and they will listen to other people who tell them they are wrong. Also, they have to never be ill or disabled, and can never ask another person to learn about them or what they want or need. So, unfortunately, I’m going to have to deny your application, because you’re obviously imperfect, damaged goods parents, and we only give perfect children to perfect parents.”

    The basic idea being: you don’t get to demand something of a partner/child/friend/family member that you refuse to exhibit yourself. *Your* standards are *your* standards — they have to apply to *you.* Nobody deserves to receive in return something they have never given, especially if they want to receive that from a real live human being with real live thoughts, feelings, and needs.

  54. In my experience, “nice guys” are comparing themselves to true assholes; they don’t seem to realize that not beating a woman, not cheating on a woman, not refusing to work, and not going to jail doesn’t make you awesome.

    Good call. I often frame this as “wanting a cookie for being a half-decent human being”. Like, “Hey, I’m not an axe-murdering rapist! Give me a goddamn award!”

  55. In my experience, “nice guys” are comparing themselves to true assholes; they don’t seem to realize that not beating a woman, not cheating on a woman, not refusing to work, and not going to jail doesn’t make you awesome.

    Exactly. They cling to their false dichotomy like a life preserver. And I’m sorry, but a lack of self confidence is another part of the act! They’ve seen that work movie hottie girlfriend magic too. Like Lloyd Dobler who has never read as anything other than freaking CREEPY to me (sorry gals, that shit is really problematic).

    Also the “low self esteem” thing is the equiv of “white women’s tears”, a means of derailing any critique of problematic behavior.

    I’m sorry, dude, but your lack of self awareness and inability to see yourself realistically is not my problem. Buy a freaking moleskine, a Pilot G2 and get to unpacking!

  56. @Takver – that’s the story with my dude, too. After being rejected by a girl he liked, and having his business go under, he went through a 7-year slump. He was 17 at the time and took these two failures pretty hard. But when he decided to try dating again, he let his two fashionable friends (a straight couple) pick his wardrobe and get him a good hair cut. He talked to his few female friends a lot to try and correct some of his assumptions about women, and read books by women about women (e.g. Dr. Elaine Pagels). He went on a few dates with one woman who was long distance, and then my mother set us up – and the rest is history! I should add, that he was only 24 when we met, and I am five years older.

    A nice guy with too many superficial “rules” about who he’s willing to date is probably not that much of a nice guy – not being able to get a date does NOT make one a nice guy.

  57. The thing about the realistic expectations/commisurate looks thing is that the patriarchy allows doodz only a very narrow range of cis-women to find attactive. Think “Circle of Friends”. Yeah, I know, the movie had Minnie Driver who was mos def not fat, but I’m thinking about how jock-guy was NOT ALLOWED to like fat girl – even though he really did.

    There are lots of derogatory terms for men who are attracted to women who do not fit the Beauty Standard, and among doodz, there is a lot of policing to enforce this. Desiring non-BS (har!) women is acceptable IFF it’s strictly for a hit-it-and-quit-it kind of thing. I’ve known boys/men (this shit starts early for them too) to represent girls/women to their friends as if it was just a booty-call thing, when it seemed to me that they really did like/want/love whathaveyou the woman. Or maybe that should be rephrased that they could have better sorted out what their true feelings for those girls/women were, were they not getting ‘ounded for it by their friends, team-mates, sibs, coaches etc.

    So, if you’re a NG(tm), and already buying into a HUGE stream of patriarchy poop, it seems to me that it’s likely that a ton of that crap is about the ‘right kind’ of woman you’re supposed to like. Or that if you like different kind of women, it has to be in an even MORE objectified way. So “lowering your standards” is not so much about if you’re a 5 on some hypothetical scale, stick to 3.5s- 6.5s, but that HEY, JACKASS! Stop looking for PERFECT BEAUTY WOMAN who is YOUR JUST DESSERTS! Start thinking about how A) women are real people and b) what kinds of these real people do you like who C) really enjoy being with you?

  58. Re Lloyd Dobler – Oh snap! I am so glad I’m not the only one! I finally saw Say Anything a year or so ago and was like WHAT THE EFF?! The whole time I was shaking my head at the screen thinking, “Girl, you do NOT need to date him! You don’t need to date anybody!” And while her dad was kind of a jerk, he’s still her dad, and way more important than this goober who wouldn’t be giving her the time of day if she had a hairy upper lip or a flat chest.

  59. “white women’s tears”

    Do they have a unique power above all other women’s tears? My two chinese friends when wishing to derail anyone or anything can cry an instant river that would drown everyone standing within flooding distance, and boy does it make people sit up and do what they want…it’s impressive.

  60. paintmonkey, I don’t know about your friends, but term speaks to a phenomena in e-circles where conversations are shut down (like the one about Sandra Bullock here) because white women reframe the discussion to center around their hurt feelings about being called on something rather than the merits of what they were called on.

  61. Once again, women are being told all the ways we have to bend, twist, lower our expectations, and generally become someone we are not in order to “get a man,” while men are being told the exact opposite: be who you are, and if that lucky gal you’ve got your sights on doesn’t respond in kind, fuck it! That bitch doesn’t deserve you, and did we mention she’s a bitch?

    And, seriously, what is all this “League” crap in our culture?!?!?! “You’re not in her league.” “He’s out of your league.” Unless we’re talking about sports, I don’t wanna hear the word “league.”

  62. Thanks for the explanation, Snarky’s Machine. I hadn’t thought to google the phrase.

    I’m still mulling over your “too high standards” comment as well. I would always have said, before, that most problems come from people setting their standards too low, but I hadn’t realised that the concept often conjugates thus: I have standards; you have preferences; he has prejudices.

  63. Call me another who was a little iffy on this. Obviously you’re welcome to draw whatever conclusions you wish and that’s cool, but the size of the sandbox (here comes a ridiculously mixed metaphor) isn’t always that black and white. Whether I play well with “men” or not is probably debateable, but I’m the kind of guy that was always crap at sports, short and wiry, and a little too focussed on niche interests to be a man’s man; I didn’t get a great reception in high school, let’s say

    Framing “maleness” in terms of a lack of popularity/lofty social status in high school or the ability to toss the pigskin just speaks to a lack of imagination in terms of grasping gender, not a flaw in my assertion. Besides, there are countless dudes out there who have said the same thing, like at every hippie college I ever went to. Surely, amongst that crowd there are a few mens to commiserate with, no?

  64. @Catgirl, re: rejecting nice guys before they make a move. OH DEAR SWEET CHRIST! Yes! It’s not hard to tell when Nice Guys are into you, and I always want to go “I know, you like me, you’re waiting to ask me out, I get it. I also know that when I try to imagine having sex with you, it makes me feel physically ill, let’s just stop now, because this will get very ugly indeed.” But then they get to hurt you if you do it, because they can turn the rejection back around on you and tell you that they were just pity flirting with you or whatever. Even when you know it’s a lie, that shit fucking hurts.

    Re: whoever mentioned people who say things like “You’d love it if they looked like George Clooney” fuck to the yeah. It seriously has little to nothing to do with looks. I used to believe it did, and I’d beat myself up for being shallow. Then over the summer I was hanging out with one of my old high school friends. Now, the boy is fucking gorge-y, beautiful beyond belief. Seriously, I can’t stress this enough, he is so hot it’s unbelievable. Movie star hot. Now for some reason he was into me, and at first that was awesome!!! Then I spent more time with him and came to realize he was a Nice Guy, and that he pretended to care about what I was saying but retained none of the information and really just wanted me to sit there while he bitched about paint ball guns. Once I realized this I stopped answering his texts and refused to hang out with him but he could not get it through his head that I wanted him to leave me alone.

    I actually came out of a movie one night and found a note on my windshield that said “I’m at (restaurant at the same outdoor mall) text me.” I got really freaked and drove home checking my mirror the whole way. It has nothing to do with looks, it has everything to do with actions.

  65. I’m still mulling over your “too high standards” comment as well. I would always have said, before, that most problems come from people setting their standards too low, but I hadn’t realised that the concept often conjugates thus: I have standards; you have preferences; he has prejudices.

    What problems are you having? I do find people with more privilege tend to have difficulties with this concept, as it ties into unexamined entitlement concerns.

    I’ll use a crude example. I have frienemies or past coworkers who mentioned on more than one occasion their desire to “marry a doctor”. (all of them white women, btw).

    I would say, “Are you planning on going to medical school? Cause that’s where they keep them – the doctors. If not, don’t hold your breath, because it’s NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.”

    Firstly, they don’t want to “marry a doctor” they want to marry someone with power, prestige and a strong income potential.

    Secondly, they don’t share the values of Mr. Fantasy Doctor, otherwise they’d BE in MED SCHOOL, which again, is where they keep those cats. Doctors it seems have started to get wise to the fact that it’s best to marry someone with SHARED LIFE GOALS and who gets that one doesn’t go into 300k worth of debt to come home for dinner at 5pm sharp every night. Guess what, my friend didn’t grasp that concept.

    Thirdly, we’re back to “I want someone so therefore I deserve it” and I’m sorry, but that’s just not how it works. Though it seems folks with lots of privilege have a harder time than others at getting this concept.

    So back to standards. You can have all the standards you want, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get what you want. You’ll get what you get. If that’s upsetting, well then I just don’t know what to tell you.

    You can cling to your hope, but I prefer to deal in reality. I didn’t make the news, I just report it.

  66. “Thirdly, we’re back to “I want someone so therefore I deserve it” and I’m sorry, but that’s just not how it works. Though it seems folks with lots of privilege have a harder time than others at getting this concept.”

    I was kind of struggling for a moment with why we always mention Nice Guys and not Nice Girls, but this sums it up well. Men are used to getting what they want because of their privilege so they end up being Nice more often than women end up being Nice. White women are also often Nice, so I’m seeing the pattern emerge.

    Also, Re: “In my experience, “nice guys” are comparing themselves to true assholes; they don’t seem to realize that not beating a woman, not cheating on a woman, not refusing to work, and not going to jail doesn’t make you awesome.”

    Nice guys and girls alike seem to have an overall difficulty with understanding it’s not what you DON’T do but rather what you DO do. I don’t have negative qualities does not equal I do have positive qualities.

  67. Very true. A friend of mine was hellbent on marrying a doctor/surgeon/bank manager or anyone else with a huge income and “the right” social standing. She planned for this essentially by sitting down a lot, eating chocolate and flicking through bridal magazines while she waited for him to find her. You can guess the rest.

  68. I was kind of struggling for a moment with why we always mention Nice Guys and not Nice Girls, but this sums it up well. Men are used to getting what they want because of their privilege so they end up being Nice more often than women end up being Nice. White women are also often Nice, so I’m seeing the pattern emerge.

    Yes, why do so many of these articles feature predominately privileged folks? Well, from my experience it’s because marginalized folks don’t expect a cookie merely for showing up. Or if they do, they will soon get their harsh “marginalized person wake up call” and be left with nothing to dunk in their milk.

  69. I was making a list of AWESOME AWESOME phrases that neatly and concisely describe things and then I got lost in the general awesomness in the post and its comments.

    I will have to adopt:

    “clown horn journalism”

    “clueless volefucker” (and also, Miss Prism, self-awareness is both liberating and joy inducing, even when circumstances suck, as your whole para shows)

    “live octopus over a hot frying pan”

    “passive aggressive timebomb”

    In addition this: “work hard to like yourself and don’t expect a relationship to solve your problems” is among the best advice a person could hope to take. I seem to be friends with many women who know that being lonely can indeed suck. But, life not being dichotomous like that, you can be lonely and still live a rich and fulfilling life most of the time. Nice Guys never seem to believe that you don’t need a lady-accessory to be a whole person.

    Lastly, Snarky’s Machine, the term “performing niceness” deserves to enter the vocabulary of folklore and anthropology because it’s so, so, exactly describing a Real Thing in the World and the fields could do well to adopt it.

  70. “I’m still mulling over your “too high standards” comment as well.”

    I get the difficulty of negotiating that sort of thing, but we’ve probably all run into that guy. His standards are stratospheric, he isn’t too concerned about what he’d bring to the table in a relationship, and this is all woefully unfair as opposed to the natural consequence of restricting your potential dating pool to Saint-Astronaut-Millionaire-Rock Star-Ballerina Barbie while not being even close to Saint-Astronaut-Millionaire-Rock Star-Olympic Gymnast Ken.

  71. Yes, why do so many of these articles feature predominately privileged folks?

    Oh shit, is it too late for me to marry a doctor and get in at that country club?!

    I’m still waiting for the movie about the black hooker whose high society john makes her bonafide.

  72. I notice there’s a lot more mainstream chow chow about how women get the wrong idea from romcoms and they should quit holding out for a perfect man, than there is about how men get the wrong idea from grossout comedies and they should stop thinking that a “hot chick” will fall into their lap if they just keep on being schlubby yet hilarious.

    I WONDER WHY THAT IS.
    (except I don’t)

  73. Re: To: “I’m still mulling over your “too high standards” comment as well. I would always have said, before, that most problems come from people setting their standards too low, but I hadn’t realised that the concept often conjugates thus: I have standards; you have preferences; he has prejudices.”

    snarky’s said: What problems are you having? I do find people with more privilege tend to have difficulties with this concept, as it ties into unexamined entitlement concerns.



    So back to standards. You can have all the standards you want, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get what you want. You’ll get what you get. If that’s upsetting, well then I just don’t know what to tell you.

    Yes. Yes, exactly, yes.

    I was thinking about how women in academia in my mom’s generation really got smacked with the “choice” of “have a Research I/ Liberal Arts academic career OR have a marriage and family with someone in a similarly prestigious job (in my family, that was USAF officer).”

    There were many, many fewer opportunities for women to have both. If women wanted to hold to their marriage “standards,” they did it at the expense of their career ones.

    And that’s an example of (usually white, always educated, often economically privileged) women forced into “you don’t always get what you want” situations. We haven’t even started to include in that mix class, race, disability status.

    Which takes me back to wanting to ask Nice Guys (TM) why they think they’re entitled to perfect relationships with perfect women and how they can NEVER NEVER be happy and fulfilled if they don’t have them? Guess what? Lots of people have lives worth living without getting everything they want.

  74. Chiming in again about lowering your standards. (I am having a stressful work day and procrastinating, is the thing.)

    You either accept things as they are, or you change them. If your standards result in you not finding a partner, you can either accept being alone, or you can change your standards. There is no third option, as in: maybe if I whine enough and blame everybody else for my troubles I will magically become more attractive.

    For example: My boyfriend, many many years ago, had a painful break-up with The Girl He Might Have Otherwise Married. One of those. He took about a year off dating to recover, re-examine himself, etc. After that, he decided he was open to dating again, but it just didn’t happen. He had multiple opportunities, some subtle, some as blatant as a girl stripping naked in front of him and requesting sex. He turned them all down because none of them were “right,” which was something he was sometimes able to verbalize and sometimes it was just a feeling.

    He spent a lot of hellish introspective time wondering if there was something wrong with him that he couldn’t seem to romantically connect with other people, but when looking around his life, he saw that wasn’t true. He had friends, male and female, and he got along really well with them, and was able to be open and honest and non-sexually intimate with them, so he was obviously able to accomplish emotional closeness. Eventually he came to the conclusion that he wasn’t just looking to date; he was looking for something very long-term, which required somebody who was very compatible. That narrowed his field significantly, but he just decided that he wasn’t willing or able to change his standards. That was what he wanted, and anything wasn’t acceptable to him. This was a really, really high standard, and it meant that he was alone for many, many years. It also meant that when he finally decided to go for somebody — me — he was binding himself to a partner who shared his values about long-term commitment, which has made our relationship incredibly wonderful.

    He still sometimes laments about all his missed opportunities, but he knows that if he hadn’t been willing to miss those opportunities, he wouldn’t have me. He also knows that, even if he hadn’t eventually found me, the other alternative would be to date somebody he wasn’t fully into. He felt he could have eventually gotten desperate enough to accept that for himself, but thinks it would have been too unfair to ask another person to commit themselves to somebody who really wasn’t that dedicated to them.

    So, that’s the thing about high expectations. You can have them, and keep them, if you are willing to graciously accept the natural consequence. If you aren’t willing to do that, you aren’t meeting your *own* expectations, which means the only people you’re going to click with are other resentful hypocrites. If the natural consequence of an indeterminate period of loneliness is too much for you, you lower your expectations and you graciously accept the natural consequences of that: namely, the extra effort it takes to negotiate needs with somebody who is something less than your perfect match. If you can’t accept consequences, you will still be accepting consequences: that is, you will now be doomed to date other people who refuse to accept the consequences of their decisions.

    Basically, whatever your expectations are, you’re going to end up with somebody who has the same expectations. If you want the perfect mate, you’ll end up with somebody who expects you to be perfect, and you will be in for a boatload of fun the first time one of you farts or leaves your socks on the floor. If you have rigid, inflexible standards, you will end up with somebody else who has rigid, inflexible standards. If you don’t think you ever have to negotiate, you will end up with somebody else who doesn’t negotiate. Sometimes that can be a happy thing, but if you’ve never really examined your standards or why you have them, you may discover how unlikable you are once you start dating somebody who shares your values.

  75. Snarky, does it matter how I frame it if maleness as sports/popularity/punching shit is maleness as encountered in the lower-to-middle class suburbs of a major Australian city? It’s a matter of social framing and not my own. As I said, I’m male by any reckoning of my own and don’t judge my maleness based on those factors (or any, really), but I’m simply pointing out that there are positions in which a person can find few or none among those of the social groups they are lumped into by chance that they wish to associate with, such as when spending long periods in social groups where the individual is an outlier to the group. Your statement didn’t really seem to allow for this and rather appeared to lean toward an snap judgement (“running from the cornfield ASAP”) rather than a commitment to acknowledging a person and their surroundings. If this is not so then I’d be glad to hear it.

    As for commiserating with peers at a hippie college; for one, I have no need for commiserations and am quite content with myself and the friends I have (some of which are male), and for two, not everyone is afforded the opportunity to attend “every hippie college”, as you say. I went to college in what by comparison with home was a country town; considering it was a college, it was still a very white, working class, macho atmosphere in which I had one male co-student who I considered as a friend, and who dropped out in his second year and was never heard from again. I did have a number of acquaintances male and female who I was on good terms with, as well as a number of female friends, several of whom were from the city suburbs like myself. Perhaps that would be enough to quell your concerns, or perhaps not. I just hope that such considerations come into play before you run.

    Now, obviously, if someone were to say “I have never and will never associate with people from x social group, of which I am a part,” then yeah, that would be totally screwed up; I’m just injecting some grey into the issue. Thanks for the response.

  76. When I think of “low standards” being the problem, I think of the Nice People (male and female) who are dating or married to various substance-abusing and people-abusing relatives of mine. Like my one relative– the men she dates have too-low standards, to be dating an abusive criminal like her.

    I do know some people who are too picky– I don’t know if that means their standards are too high or just too idiosyncratic, but they’re definitely too narrow.

  77. PS: I just clicked over to my NPR affiliate and misread a headline as “ICELAND’S VOLCANIC ASS HAT HALTS FLIGHTS” instead of “ash halts flights.” I guess I am in hyper-nice-guy aware from of mind.

  78. When I think of “low standards” being the problem, I think of the Nice People (male and female) who are dating or married to various substance-abusing and people-abusing relatives of mine. Like my one relative– the men she dates have too-low standards, to be dating an abusive criminal like her.

    That’s not what’s being discussed here. Sounds like you’ve got a bit of the false dichotomy going there.

  79. I’m starting to wonder how much the “I married my BFF” narrative plays into this. I mean, Mr. Ori and I were very good friends before we dated and we enjoyed each others company and found out that we had lots in common so when we both found ourselves single we gave it a try.

    I think maybe that’s the Fairy Tale these Nice GuysTM see their life as being. And that factors into their “fake it til you make it” style of pseudo-friendship.

  80. Almost certainly it’s coming from seeing this through fish-eye privilege-lenses, yes. I’ll try to unpack it (oo, I feel like such a social-science impostor when I use that word not in reference to luggage):

    My immediate thought was that I know more people who stay in unhappy relationships because they think they don’t deserve better, than I know people who are unhappily single because they’re holding out for perfection. And I thought that “too low standards” meant the first lot and “too high standards” meant the second.

    It hadn’t occurred to me that unhappily partnered people might have “high standards” in that they would rather be with a thin person (or a doctor, or a blonde, or whatever) who bored them than a fat person who shared their interests. And now, OF COURSE, I suddenly notice that I’ve had miserable relationships myself with men who matched my standards of “hard science or maths PhD” and “more musical than me” and “doesn’t write it’s when he means its” and “must not watch football on telly” and whatever other cub-scout badges were lurking on my list in the guise of “standards”.

    Hmm.

    Thankfully, I found an utterly lovely, musical, correctly apostrophe-deploying scientist nine years ago and we’re blissfully happy together. Except I have to leave the house when he watches football on telly.

  81. @snarkysmachine Re: Lloyd Dobler, I so hear you on this. The other night we rented the first season of How I Met Your Mother, since everyone always talks about *how* funny it is. Three episodes in, I’m horrified and definitely the furthest thing from amused. The main character is 110% Nice Guy TM, he’s obsessed, narcissistic, creepy, everything that an actual nice guy shouldn’t be. But it’s played for laughs like, “Isn’t is so cute how dangerously obsessed he is with this girl he just met who’s already *repeatedly* told him to his face that she doesn’t want to date him or anyone else right now? Look, he’s stalking her now, awwwww! That’s totes normal, it’s what women deserve and what men want, yay!! Women should never be creeped out by this behavior, after all he’s just a Nice Guy who LOVES her!” WTF?? I turned to my husband, horrified out of my head and said, “This is supposed to show good, happy, healthy, funny relationships?!?” We turned it off and promptly sent it back.

  82. WTF?? I turned to my husband, horrified out of my head and said, “This is supposed to show good, happy, healthy, funny relationships?!?” We turned it off and promptly sent it back.

    !!! I mean a certain degree of push-pull exists in relationships but usually it tends to involve negotiations between partners who have come to some consensus as to the existence of the relationship and not dictated by one lone dude fighting for his right to creep folks out.

  83. @MissPrism: You are just setting bells off in my head. I have a couple of ex-friends, married to each other, who are the most miserable people I’ve ever met. They both work in helping professions (god, all the miserable people do), and are professionally very kind and compassionate and empathetic. But in their personal relationships, I’ve always found them very snooty and very elitist. You’re eating donuts? You shop at Target? You’re wearing that? You’re dating him? You want what for a career? You weigh that much? You said that? You didn’t see Crash? This is why they are ex-friends.

    I’ve always put this unnatural division between their personal relationships and their relationship within their marriage. In their marriage, I’ve always thought they didn’t have high enough expectations, because look, they ended up with somebody who makes them miserable. With other people, I always thought their expectations were too high, because look how much they seem to like to pick on everybody. Now these two things match up. They have unnaturally high expectations all around. They expect very perfect enactments of certain character traits from their friends, and they expect it from their spouse, too. Their expectations for personal relationships are so high that they are maintaining an unhappy marriage because they have finally found a spouse who doesn’t eat donuts, only shops at co-ops, dresses fashionably, presents as conventionally attractive, espouses conventional career ambitions, weighs very little, doesn’t state opinions clearly or assertively, and watches any movie that is nominated for an Oscar. And they’re not willing to give up a spouse that does all that — or the friends they’ve found who are willing to do all that — in exchange for happiness.

    I like this idea that lowering your expectations is as important in *ending* relationships as it is in *forming* them. If my expectations are unreasonably high or difficult to achieve, I’m never going to end a relationship with somebody who meets the bare-bones minimum, even if everything else they do makes me miserable. If my expectations are regularly achievable, I am going to be willing to end a relationship with somebody who just isn’t doing it for me, even if they are meeting my minimum, because there are going to be lots of other people who fulfill my standards.

    This also reminds me of an argument my boyfriend had with a friend of his who was dating a junkie. He was asking her why she didn’t dump the guy, and she was offering up all sorts of feeble excuses about how she just couldn’t, it wouldn’t be right, he was so nice, he was so good-looking, her mother liked him, her friends liked him, etc., finally saying, “The sex is really great!” “There are A LOT of people who can fuck you right,” he said, “Not all of them are intravenous drug users.” There are A LOT of people who can make me happy; I don’t have to stick with the one who plays the bagpipes to relax.

  84. Just wanted to chime in about standards.

    Nobody on this thread is doing this, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard some dickwicket tell a woman to “lower her standards,” when all she wanted was a little honest, respect, or emotional warmth from her partners.

    The message seems to be that if you’re male, insisting on dating a tall, skinny blonde with D-cups is a completely reasonable standard.

    If you’re a female, and you just want your date to treat you like a human being, you’re expecting way too much.

    Drives me crazy every time…

  85. I think JenniferP’s post captured the problem pretty well.

    There are Nice Guys who are really jerks or worse that just try to disguise themselves as nice people. But a lot of Nice Guys are genuinely nice people that are just clueless about getting a date.

    Generating romantic interest and a date from someone of your preferred sex is a skill. In some respects, it’s no different from driving, balancing a checkbook, playing chess, or changing a tire. You need to practice, you practice by asking people out, and you’ll have far more failures than successes. That’s life – 100 refusals and 20 failed short term relationships and 2 failed long term relationships and 1 successful long term relationship is still an overall win.

    I’m no Casanova, I have typical self-confidence issues and mediocre looks and I got rejected many, many times. But I kept trying, and now I’m happy in a committed relationship that’s over ten years old. I have college friends and relatives in their late 20s and early 30s that have yet to reach their third dating relationship, ever, and it saddens me. If they aren’t willing to get rejected repeatedly, they’ll never be there when someone says yes.

  86. One thing I’ve noticed is that guys who have to talk about how nice they are tend to fall into the “Nice Guy” category. Genuinely nice, considerate, caring guys? They don’t have to say how nice they are. It shows.

    I haven’t really met any guys who have no close male friends. (Well, we had only one guy in my core group of friends in high school, but he found plenty of male friends in college and afterward, so I think it was just one of those high school things.) I can see why it would be an indicator of issues, but I had always seen the opposite as more of a red flag. One of the things I liked best about my fiance before we were dating was that he had plenty of female friends. It made it harder for me to tell if he liked me back, but I thought it spoke well of him that he clearly saw women as people with personalities and interests and opinions and not just as beings who you’re friendly with for sex.

  87. I like this idea that lowering your expectations is as important in *ending* relationships as it is in *forming* them. If my expectations are unreasonably high or difficult to achieve, I’m never going to end a relationship with somebody who meets the bare-bones minimum, even if everything else they do makes me miserable. If my expectations are regularly achievable, I am going to be willing to end a relationship with somebody who just isn’t doing it for me, even if they are meeting my minimum, because there are going to be lots of other people who fulfill my standards.

    I use “standards” because it’s generally the way people frame their relationship fail. as in “I can’t date a guy with no education! I’ve got high standards!” never mind they at times they lack the very traits, click box items they feel their partner ought to have. This attitude takes a fair amount of cheek and usually results in the acquisition of self help books, forming feminist -esque collectives and deciding the problem with relationship is with unicorns who don’t come when they’re beckoned.

    But I like the word “expectations”. Though I find in many cases folks find it easy to make “unreasonable expectations” the domain of other folks, rather than what’s on special at their own little shop of relationship horrors.

  88. There are Nice Guys who are really jerks or worse that just try to disguise themselves as nice people. But a lot of Nice Guys are genuinely nice people that are just clueless about getting a date.

    I don’t find this to be true at all. If they are clueless about how to get dates then in many cases – setting aside any other relevant factors such as ability status – their cluelessness comes not from a lack of clues, but a distaste for what those clues add up to.

    I have college friends and relatives in their late 20s and early 30s that have yet to reach their third dating relationship, ever, and it saddens me. If they aren’t willing to get rejected repeatedly, they’ll never be there when someone says yes.

    I bet donuts to dollars in many cases these are folks who have an unrealistic view of their dating potential and viability as a partner or an unreasonable list of demands required of their potential mate, many of which have NOTHING do to with a person’s ability to be a loving, supportive, kind partner.You don’t need to be rich, smart, successful, able bodied, cisgendered, beautiful, thin or “default status” to be a loving, supportive, kind partner, regardless of what folks might have been led to believe.

  89. “I can see why it would be an indicator of issues, but I had always seen the opposite as more of a red flag.”

    This didn’t come out the way I intended. I can see why no male friends would be a red flag. I have more experience with guys with no female friends, so that is the red flag I am more familiar with.

    I think both actually lead back to the same problem; an essentialist view of gender.

  90. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am unfamiliar with the definition of “nice” that hinges on being passive-aggressive and clingier than a live octopus over a frying pan.

    This is exactly why I love SP so much. ♥

  91. I’m not trying to be combative with this question, I’m just asking: What do those clues add up to?

    Are you speaking in terms of standards? In that respect, I agree. I’m not sure that’s it, though. Maybe it is. Maybe my brothers and my friends bypass perfectly good opportunities because the woman is too religion/not religious enough, too liberal/too conservative, too fat/too thin, etc… etc…

  92. In my experience, most of my friends who are actually genuinely nice, awesome dudes? They don’t spend a lot of time talking about how nice they are — in fact, they tend to call themselves assholes and jerks, because they’re not actually aware of the fact that they are genuinely awesome people who treat women with respect. Treating women like human beings is so utterly obvious to them that it would never occur to them to actually remark on it.

    Stunningly, most of them aren’t single.

  93. Excuse my going off the rails here, but Harriet? Did you ever shop at Murder Ink in NYC? I worked there for many years.

  94. I married someone I realise now was a Nice Guy. Like Snarkymachine’s OP, he’d rearrange his whole damn life for me – mostly without my knowledge or desire. And I paid for every ‘no’ he was unable to say to me and everyone else in his life.

    He turned out to be ‘Passive Aggressive Guy’ (a.k.a. ‘Exploding Doormat’) who very quickly turned into ‘Paranoid Guy’ which segued neatly into ‘Abusive Guy’. And when we split up he became ‘Stalker Guy’ who tried to get me back by telling me he had cancer. (He did have cancer. But it’s not a reason to get back with an abusive husband.) Now he’s merely ‘Ex-husband’.

    I am now married to a nice guy. You know, your basic decent human being who doesn’t expect a cookie every time he does something I’d reasonably expect from a decent human being.

  95. But I like the word “expectations”. Though I find in many cases folks find it easy to make “unreasonable expectations” the domain of other folks, rather than what’s on special at their own little shop of relationship horrors.

    Yeah, but ditto “unreasonable standards”… or pretty much anything preceded by “unreasonable.” :) I mean, the core problem here is people being totally unrealistic, but thinking they’re not.

    I initially bristled at the “standards” thing, too, though I got what you were saying — because I still have a wicked hangover from the Lori Gottlieb hype and all of the back and forth on what “settling” and “standards” really mean. My whole problem with her argument goes right along with what you’re saying, Snarky: that when she said she had “high standards” she was actually talking about a fucking ridiculous sense of entitlement — and acting like all single women end up alone because they also have a fucking ridiculous sense of entitlement. But I still have a soft spot for the concept of “high standards” in the sense of “boundaries I won’t cross because being in a relationship is not worth putting up with that.” (But maybe that’s not so much “high standards” as “what should be basic standards.”)

    I see it like this: I would say I have high standards, and I am not one to “settle.” (And to an extent, I did choose to accept the consequences of that, as Harriet says, and spent many years single.) But those standards are indeed about compatibility and chemistry and the way I’m treated, not about looks, money, education, race, etc. My standards are based on self-respect, not rigid ideas about What Kind of Man Would Be Acceptable, apart from a man who respects women and shares my values. And maybe they’re not so much “high” as simply “firm.”

    In any case, Al met my standards to a T but would almost certainly not have been someone Lori Gottlieb would have “settled” for in her younger days, let’s say. And I think part of the reason I’m loath to characterize my standards as not-high is because I don’t want anyone to get the impression that Al is somehow less than what I wanted, or that I could have done better if I’d had more going for me or believed in myself more or something. That’s what’s so troublesome about the “settling”/”standard-lowering” construction to me: it frames finding the right person in terms of not getting everything you want, as opposed to realizing that what you thought you wanted (if you ever did) was never really the thing. At this point, if you told me I had an opportunity to be with a guy who’s exactly like Al, but with George Clooney’s looks and bank account, I wouldn’t be interested because he wouldn’t be Al. And Al is exactly what I want.

    So I can understand why some people are like, “Lower your standards? Whaaaaa?” — especially since women are so often told that we want too much and don’t deserve half of it. And so many of us have witnessed or been in relationships that seem held together by one person’s lack of self-esteem/belief that zie does not deserve to be treated better. But I think it’s just a semantic issue — and perhaps not one that’s entirely resolvable.

    I mean it’s resolvable insofar as I think we’re all clear on the concept now, or bloody well should be by this point. But I’m not sure if any word choice can get all the nuance across in a single sentence, because some people will always see “standards,” “expectations” or even “entitlement” as “What I actually do deserve because I am a human being” and others will see all those words as “What I think I deserve because I’m a special snowflake used to getting what I want.” And of course, the people who think they deserve a bunch of crap because they’re special snowflakes used to getting what they want are never going to get the point anyway.

  96. “I have college friends and relatives in their late 20s and early 30s that have yet to reach their third dating relationship, ever, and it saddens me.”

    I find it odd to think of this as a bad or pitiable thing. I’m in my mid-30s, have never dated, and can’t imagine dating someone who I didn’t know well enough to think there was a realistic chance the relationship might end in marriage. Perhaps it’s the influence of my parents (who only ever dated each other, and had a solid and practical marriage) or the cultural community in which I am enmeshed (where dating is not encouraged), but the idea of dating without a serious commitment in advance kinda squicks me out, personally. It would feel to me like I was ‘being used’/’using someone’, even if it was kept romantic but non-sexual.
    So, on behalf of the never/rarely dating folks, I’m going to say that we really don’t want pity.

  97. Re: the standards thing, this is how I look at it: if you have certain standards, and you cannot get someone who meets them to date you, you don’t have to lower your standards. You could just accept being single. But it seems to me that the people we are talking about do not even see that as an option, because there is a certain subset of Dudebro that believes the Universe owes him pussy, and not just any pussy, but that of the hottest woman in town.

  98. Ooh, ooh, nobody’s even really gotten into the whole “women are money-grubbing bitches who only want the rich guy” thing!

    I have been faced with the supremely irritating experience of men buying me a bunch of shit I didn’t ask for and didn’t want and then whining about how I just used them for their mad cash or whatever. Seriously, a guy once bought me lunch AT MCDONALD’S and then offered this as a reason why I was a bitch for refusing to sleep with him, yet seem completely unaware that, while he was professing to be deeply in love with me and be the nicest guy EVAR, he was treating me like a (less than) five dollar hooker.

    It creeps me the fuck out that it seems so normal to everyone that a guy will buy (through attention, gifts, whatever) a woman’s affection. I don’t love people because of the things they do for me. I love people because their personality is such that I want to do things for them, and they inspire all kinds of lovely feelings in me just by being the way they are, and this is the fundamental bit that Nice Guys miss out on. They treat love like it’s a business transaction, and in thinking they have to buy a woman with XYZ, really dicount a woman’s ability to genuinely and selflessly love and care for someone else, since even if the woman gives them what they want, well… they still had to buy her to begin with.

  99. Huh, others have already said what I just said. Hey, that’s what I get for leaving the window open, going off to my appointment, and coming back and commenting without refreshing the page…

  100. Re: the standards thing, this is how I look at it: if you have certain standards, and you cannot get someone who meets them to date you, you don’t have to lower your standards. You could just accept being single.

    Seriously! I mean being single isn’t a punishment; just the outcome of being unable to find someone who meets your rigorous standards/expectations/whathaveyou who actually wants to make fuck with you.

  101. Of my list of “non-negotiable-s” – some serious: must have shared value regarding education and some fatuous: must like wearing argyle, my partner has all but 4.

    out of 102 qualities of which NONE are physical traits nor prescribe a specific level of ability, race, age, gender expression (except male. no qualifiers, any and all identifying as male were encouraged to apply!), class or require express written permission from Major League Baseball.

    And I found the babbycakes on the net on a dating site, so there you go.

  102. “Must like wearing argyle”
    I will sleep deeply and sweetly having read this strangely comforting phrase.

  103. It’s not that women go for men who are jerks, though some do. It’s that a lot of us have no interest in don’t go for men who have no self-confidence and yet expect us to find them fascinating, who want to control our reactions and thereby render our agency moot, who feel the need to tell us how “nice” they are and talk about how much they do for us as if there is a quid pro quo system at work. No idea why we’d be put off by that… At the same time, the “nice guys” will not acknowledge that other men, including some who may not fit their definition of nice, also do things for us – such as entertain, excite, engage, intrigue, and lots of other words starting with vowels – that make us want to spend time with them and/or date them.

  104. Oh wait, there was one quality that could have been perceived as physical in nature:

    48. Must in some way remind me of James Gandolfini.

    Of course to me this meant any number of things: brings me a box of tide, hangs out with Tony Scott, rides a motorcycle, 6’1, fat, squints when he’s annoyed, has cute teeth, wears shiny warm ups, owns a strip club…

    you see where I’m going.

  105. I had to skip ahead, I promise I’ll read the whole comments thread in a moment. Let me tell you about dating Nice Guys™ cause I’ve kissed that frog a few too many times. First, I hate having to initiate everything which is what far too many Nice Guys put me through. I don’t mind asking someone out, but making the first move in everything is tiresome. Having to come up with everything we’re going to do on a date, then what we’re doing in bed at every fricking step is boring. It’s draining! Have an opinion, have a skill, have a kink, I don’t care just give something back.

    Second, too many Nice Guys are not honest about what they want. If you want a relationship, you need to be up front about it, and not just go along with what the girl says. I spent too much time trying to get rid of guys who said they were cool with a one night stand or FWB but really wanted a reeeelaaaaashunship! Double asshole points for those guys who guilt tripped me because I’m female and I’m supposed to want twu wuv. The guy who tried to slut shame me won the asshole trifecta. I was like “Dude, I didn’t just fuck myself, I remember you were there too.”

    “But he’s such a nice guy!” Really, a boring milquetoast with no personality or opinions, few skills in bed, and a nasty judgmental attitude about women that will rear it’s head the second you shatter his shallow fantasy of you. Just ’cause I occasionally like sausage doesn’t mean I want to spend a lot of time with pigs. Ok, now that I’ve raised the slut flag like my own personal Jolly Roger, I’m going to read the other comments.

  106. @Snarky: One of the things I like best about being in a relationship is how much I learn about my list. When my bear and I first started dating, we were on a long road trip during which time was of the essence. We passed through a little town with an awesome playground. He saw me looking at it and said, “Do you need me to stop so you can go on the swings?” “But we have to be there in three hours!” “If you need to go on the swings, we can stop. I’ll push you! Ooh, they also have a slide. Do you need to go down the slide?” And now there was a new thing on my list: dude must dig my inner child. I didn’t have that expectation before I suddenly saw that it was possible, and what a feeling of warmth it brought. Which, now that I’m thinking about it this way, is a great reason why I should try to remain conscious about my own capacity to be an accidental role model.

    I remember in 8th grade, all my girly friends were obsessed with making “Perfect Guy” lists. I don’t know what that shit was about. I gave it a game little try, because I was also a girl so I must have to do this thing all the other girls were doing. I would have killed to know the phrase “compulsory heterosexuality” at the time.

    Anyway, I made my list, and it was full of ridiculous things. Like, “Must think vampires are cool,” and “Must like mismatched socks.” It was a really long, really detailed list. Many years later, while in college, I met a guy in my classes who *was* my list. Mismatched socks, had read The Vampire Diaries, knew how to ride a motorcycle. And he was an *asshole.* Because on my big list, I forgot to write important things like, “Also, I have to be able to stand the fucker.” So I had technically met my perfect man, and it was like staring into the popped-collar abyss.

  107. @Harriet Jacobs, for the most part I drafted mine as a “ha!” to friends who suggested it and to the universe as a “dare”.

    I think most people can find a person who has all the cute little thing that matter provided they’re open to the possibility its packaging might surprise them.

  108. Snarky’s: James Gandolfini, or Tony Soprano? The world will be in some sort of Art Meets Life Situation of Gandolfini owns all the shell suits in the world and a strip club to keep them in.

    Because I am attracted to Wendell Pierce, (Bunk from the Wire), and am now trying to decide if it’s The Bunk or The Pierce for whom I have the Hollywood Hots. Haven’t seen Pierce in anything else, so it’s hard to say…

    In a more topical vein on this thread: I was single for a long, long time. Until I unclenched my “standards” and realized “has PhD” is not the same as “values education.” And did a whole lot of other growing up. Funny how that worked out.

  109. Vidya,
    I don’t mean to make a generalization that every adult should have had several romantic relationships or should want them. In the particular cases I was describing, these guys specifically want long term relationships and just can not or will not take the necessary steps to try to get them.

    You wrote “can’t imagine dating someone who I didn’t know well enough to think there was a realistic chance the relationship might end in marriage”. I think it’s difficult to get to know someone well enough to evaluate your chances of a long term relationship if you don’t date casually first. That doesn’t mean you have to accept casual sex, or even casual kissing or holding hands, if you aren’t comfortable with it. If you know someone you have at least a little chemistry with and the two of you can hold an intelligent conversation together, then dating may be the best way for you both to figure out if marriage is a realistic end goal.

    I like Kate’s post about standards as reasonable bare minimum requirements (e.g. “Must be honest, must not be abusive.”) versus standards as absurd requirements (e.g. “I could never date anyone that likes Britney Spears’ music.” or “I could never date anyone with a big butt.”).

  110. But a lot of Nice Guys are genuinely nice people that are just clueless about getting a date.

    This is not helpful. Women already feel bad enough for turning down anyone because they have internalized the script of being shallow or bitchy. If a guy wants a date, it really helps tremendously if he actually asks for it. If he can’t figure that out, then it’s really sad but not my responsibility to help him become better at dating or feel better about himself. I feel bitchy even for saying this even though I shouldn’t feel that way, but it’s really not my problem to deal with. It is not my responsibility and I have no obligation to make men feel better about themselves or to teach them how to be better at dating, especially when they don’t listen to me talking anyway. I am really sick of hearing “you should feel sorry for this poor, awkward man who can’t help it if it likes you and you’re a terrible person if you reject him because he’s so fragile and sensitive and why not just give him a chance and you’re being shallow and it’s not his fault he smells bad and on and on.” It’s not my problem anymore.

  111. Perhaps some of the standards/expections confusion comes from lumping together those for a person and those for a relationship. If your standards for the person get in the way of having the kind of relationship you want, maybe your standards for the person are to hi/low/rigid, and vice versa.

    I often find that standards for the relationship tend to skew a little more reasonable: expectations for how you want to be treated, how you want to spend your time together, how you want to cooperate on big life things (school, career, family, etc). Standards for the person can often be superficial, although not always. Perhaps it’s just that people who think in terms not just of the person but the type of relationship dynamic they want tend to be a bit more mature about the whole set of choices?

    For me personally, if I had been too rigid about the level of shared interest, I would have missed out on someone who treats me the way I would like, who supports me, etc (I won’t bore you with my list).

  112. The top of my list was “must be able to keep up.” It was amorphous, because that meant everything from willing to do things at the spur of the moment, even (or especially) if ill-advised or dangerous to able to talk me out of doing ill-advised or dangerous things using only logic and humor. I wasn’t going to lower my expectation that my partner enjoy reading, be able to play well alone (my husband has this down!), do his own laundry, and have a wicked sense of humor. Oh, and consider me a fully realized human being, but that sort of went without saying. The only other requirement was that I find them attractive – according to my criteria, not anyone else’s (because Brad Pitt does nada for me, nor do the majority of pretty boys). I would happily have remained single because I liked being single, but the mister came along and encouraged me to do the ill-advised thing of marrying him without ever having lived in the same state. I wouldn’t recommend it to most people, but that’s sort of the point of expectations – they should be actively considered and individual.

  113. Ooh, ooh, nobody’s even really gotten into the whole “women are money-grubbing bitches who only want the rich guy” thing!

    This is why I rarely let men buy me drinks except for my close friends where it’s an ongoing reciprocal thing. Turning down a drink offer acts as a great test. If the man insists on paying, then I won’t bother with him anymore. One time my friend was casually dating a guy and the three of us went to 7-11 and he insisted on paying for my ice cream sandwich and it was sorta creepy. Right now I’m dealing with a potential Nice Guy, and he paid for a Slushie the first time we met (going somewhere with a mutual friend who may or may not have been trying to set us up). We both went into 7-11 to get one, and he was in line to pay first so he just told the cashier that he would cover both of them. He hasn’t gotten all Nice Guy creepy yet even though we see each other regularly through the mutual friend, so for now I think he was just trying to be nice because we were in a hurry and also I was a little sick (and slushies cure that somehow).

  114. Because I am attracted to Wendell Pierce, (Bunk from the Wire), and am now trying to decide if it’s The Bunk or The Pierce for whom I have the Hollywood Hots. Haven’t seen Pierce in anything else, so it’s hard to say…

    DITTO. He’s dreamy beyond words. I also have a massive problem in this regard with Don Cheadle. He’s so foxy. I talk about him and people are like, “wait do you know him?’ and I’m like, “No, but I’m friends with someone on facebook who claims to be his cousin!”

    Ooh, ooh, nobody’s even really gotten into the whole “women are money-grubbing bitches who only want the rich guy” thing!

    To me this just falls under the “cooks not wanting to eat their own creations” and is dismissed with a shrug. Patriarchy dictates that women (well besides WOC who should be available to clean and child rear for everybody else) need to stay home where it’s safe and boring and unprofitable.

    You can’t get mad at me for then assuming since I will be the one chained to my stove, I’m gonna want you to give the clown at the Burger World drive thru a fiver.

    Don’t like it, dudes, well help us dismantle the patriarchy. Otherwise, I want that shit supersized and tell them NOT to skimp on the jimmies on my hot fudge Sundae.

  115. @Harriet Jacobs, you have a name similarity and also a similarity in writing style (and eruditity) Eruditeness?

    So just thought I’d ask!

  116. It’s frustrating and terrifying at the same time. I’ve had to end a few friendships over the last decade because of the Nice Guy syndrome (even though I didn’t know that’s what it was) and some of the abusive behavior I’ve seen from Nice Guys who don’t get what/who they want.

  117. Snarky’s: Well, I am very happy to be in such good company, Famous People Crushwise.

    Pierce has, among other things, a gorgeous voice, a handsome look, and a lovely sense of community ethics. I just re-watched Hotel Rwanda and had the same fall-in-Hollywood-Love all over again for Cheadle. Oh, yes.

    Funnily, after reviewing my Famous People Crush Standards, I find that they tend to conform to my Not Famous People Crush Standards in an important regard:

    Has strong, demonstrable, commitment to improving the state of the world. Matt Damon, Pierce, Cheadle… they’re all alike that way.

  118. catgirl,
    I did not mean to make it your problem or your responsibility. I was just venting.

    I was also just venting, and I’m not mad you personally. It’s just that I hear stuff like that all the time, and I don’t think it’s even true in most cases. A lot of those Nice Guys know exactly what they are doing.

    I guess the bigger problem isn’t that these poor guys can’t figure out those strange wimmenz, but rather the social pressure on women to protect anyone from any pain ever is just too strong.

  119. One more note on How I Met Your Mother: They even went with the old “this girl is new in town and even though she knows this guy is a complete creep who’s stalking her and won’t leave her alone and won’t take NO for an answer (and would quite possibly get dangerous IRL), she’s going to tell him that she’s *sooo* lonely for friends that she’s desperate to become friends with Nice GuyTM and his circle, all the while Nice GuyTM tells all his pals that her inclusion in their group as a friend is his plan to get her to *love* him back.” I nearly passed out from shitting myself over the gargantuan amount of FAIL contained in this program. Thanks show, great messages for everyone, hooray!!

  120. To the commenters who mentioned being single by choice: THANK YOU.

    As a 35-year-old woman, the pressures to get married and have kids are VERY strong* and it would be nice, just once, to have someone believe me when I say I’m happy without a man. I’m not in denial; I’m not covering up a deep hole in my heart/soul that would be patched by some dude giving me a shiny ring; I don’t go home and watch rom-coms and eat ice cream and cry. (People are very concerned about my “coming home to an empty house.” This comes up ALL THE TIME. You know what? I work a 12-hour day, then go to the gym. An empty house = heaven.)

    * I realize this reflects considerable privilege: straight, cis, temporarily able-bodied, middle-class, etc. I do recognize this, but on a personal level I haven’t gotten past wanting to scream when people try to push these choices on me. If I’ve got a big privilege-fail going, feel free to delete.

  121. Um, and that was almost totally OT. Sorry about that. I was just so happy to see other people saying “maybe a relationship isn’t the end-all be-all blah blah blah” that I wanted to chime in.

  122. When I was single I had a list of a bunch of ridiculous and not-so-ridiculous requirements for potential partners. As I have explained to some of my friends since meeting the man who became my husband, part of the purpose of a comprehensive list of traits is that you eventually meet someone who does not meet all the requirements, but you don’t care about the ones zie doesn’t meet. Not the important stuff like treating you well, that’s not negotiable. But you know, the more trivial crap.

    I guess what I’m saying is, if you are inclined to make a list, go for it; if you find someone who ticks all the boxes and you’re using the list to convince yourself that this person is “right”, zie isn’t; if you find someone who doesn’t quite meet the list but you want to be with hir anyway, congratulations, you win.

  123. @KateHarding – a million thank yous, we did not need that dude coming up in here.

    @AnthroK8, I am a fellow lover of Wendell Pierce/The Bunk – have you seen Treme yet? Because now I love Antoine Baptiste, too – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen The Bunk/Pierce/Baptiste handle a horn.

    @All commenters – thanks for being the best commenters on the internet.

  124. Oh, oh, we forgot the whole women as saviors meme, though Catgirl and Mike have brought it up in drastically different ways.

    I hate those movies where the main character is this asshole guy who cheats on his girlfriend, has no social skills, is sexist and often racist, always classist or constantly complaining about elitism and rich fat cats, then the lady comes along and sees who he really is and brings it out. Fuck what?

    Yeah, like guys can act like complete fuckasses and then a girl will come along and redeem them. Because all women are looking for a worthless loser to take home and polish. And that’s also our responsibility, we have to give our love to assholes or they will never blossom.

    “He’s clueless about dating and is bad at being social, give him a chance, you can teach him.” I don’t want to give him a chance, my number one standard is that I don’t have to teach a guy to be a human being. I’m not looking for a project, they need to make themselves better, not go from Nice Guy to jerk so that the threat level goes to red and I have no choice but to take care of them.

  125. @AnotherKate – not off topic, because the default assumption of the article and the Nice Guy set is that we are (heterosexual and) predisposed to being in a relationship, to the point where we will date “jerks” rather than be alone, and what’s wrong with us for not seeing the great person stalkin….er, sitting next to us patiently waiting for us to fulfill them??

  126. “But a lot of Nice Guys are genuinely nice people that are just clueless about getting a date.”

    I’ve heard this a lot and I think it is contrary to the way that the world actually works. If those dudes liked, say, video games. They would learn about them, and practice playing them, and talk to people about how awesome they are, and generally hone their video game skills. Social skills are NO DIFFERENT, and if a person, male or female, isn’t doing anything to better their social skills it is not because they have some internal flaw that we should pardon and feel sorry about, it is because they don’t think it is an important topic to spend time and energy learning about.

  127. Not including people with actual problems like social anxiety or overwhelming shyness or anything like that, of course. :)

  128. AnotherKate: I am also very happily single. Everyone is concerned about my well-being, living alone, etc. However, when I got sick and had to have surgery, friends came out of the woodwork to help me. I had to stop answering my phone so I could recover. I think that alone shows that I am not missing out on great relationships in my life; mine are just non-sexual.

    Whenever I agree to go out with someone (usually male), I realize that I don’t want to make changes in my life for someone who a) doesn’t respect me as a human being, b) wants me to change, c) wants me to fix him, etc. And so I remain single, happy and fulfilled with my life. Maybe someday I’ll meet someone who fits into my life well enough that I don’t mind making room, but in the meantime I’m not sweating it.

    I’ve been reading the comments all day, and I was just so glad to see someone else who is happy to be single, I just had to chime in, even if it is off-topic.

  129. (*delurks*)

    @snarky’s machine and Alibelle

    Nice Girls

    Thank you both for coming up with this term and description. I’ve been having so much trouble coming up with a term and describing to someone what I mean by it, but “Nice Girls: privileged + performing niceness” just hits it on the head. Though I think Nice Girls aren’t necessarily doing it for male attention, just a general (positive/awed) attention.

    Unrelated, but it took me an hour(!) to understand that ‘Playa’ = ‘Player’ and not Spanish for ‘beach’ (one of the few Spanish words I know). … Zombie Beach Revisited kind of sounds like a bad horror b-movie.

  130. My beau has more checkmarks on my list (it is an actual googledoc)than anyone else I know/knew. We joke about how he’s never going to get that “handy” checkbox because he just plain isn’t- but that’s ok. I’ve learned that “verbalizes thoughts occasionally” and “willing to look like a fool in public while sober” are vastly more important. As a side note, I’ve run former people, friends and family through the list as well and none of them fare as well, even without counting the “man bonus” section (smells better than neutral is not an important characteristic for most of the people in my life.)

  131. @HarrietJacobs: “I must be able to stand the fucker.”= Brilliant, awesome, and you are a goddess!!!!

  132. @ Alibelle: Um, I don’t think you want to see what happens when an asshole blossoms. Just sayin’. I’m pretty sure assholes don’t really turn into roses just ’cause you love them enough. :D

    And have we really gone this entire thread without bringing up the Heartless Bitches website and their lovely collection of Nice Guy reading material? It’s both entertaining and useful to throw at people quibbling over definitions of Nice Guy-ness.

  133. OT: Just got home after that long day at the office. Thanks, Snarky and the shapelings — that was way better than a eating a bag full of sunflower seeds for trapping my nervous energy. Because of internet threads, I was almost able to act like a normal person at the office today, and I didn’t have a seething pile of seeds coming out of my nose.

  134. Is there any way to subscribe to e-mail notifications of comments without actually making a post yourself? Because I have nothing to say and would prefer not to make a post, but the comments are interesting.

    TRiG.

  135. Snarky’s, you are made of awesome.

    I especially love this:
    “The premise of the “nice guy” defense is they are entitled to whatever women they are attracted to as long as they have devoted sufficient effort and resources in the form of performing “niceness”.”

    Absolutely. I’ve followed a few online discussions in which self-professed “nice guys” bemoan their lack of dating success, and invariably the thinly veiled misogyny comes out into full view after a couple pages, when the whole thing degenerates into a rant about how stupid women are to fail to appreciate the *extraordinary* niceness of these men who actually, you know, pretend to listen for five minutes and stuff.
    Even without that, the implication that women should be falling over ourselves with gratitude because some guy is “nice” (even though he may have no other redeeming qualities whatsoever) is damn insulting.

  136. Is there any way to subscribe to e-mail notifications of comments without actually making a post yourself? Because I have nothing to say and would prefer not to make a post, but the comments are interesting.

    Not that I know of, but I don’t mind people doing what you just did (as long as threads don’t end up totally overgrown with “Hi, nothing to say, just want comment notifications!” — but I doubt that will be a problem).

  137. It’s not her best book; but Georgette Heyer wrote a book called Powder & Patch about a man totally changing his looks and style to dazzle a woman. I’d rate it mildly enjoyable.

    You know, that whole movie theme about the schlub who is picked up and transformed by a hot woman; it’s all knotted up with the romantic theme that if a woman just works hard enough she can change a man to be perfect. It’s a woman’s job you know, to do not just the relationship work; but the personal work for men. Like a character valet, dressing it up, polishing it, and generally keeping it spic and span. Or just picking out the clothes and running them to the dry cleaners… Very fifties, eh?

  138. Reading through this thread has brightened my day (despite the not-so-happy topic) because it made me realize that the “friend” I’ve felt so bad about avoiding is a textbook Nice Guy. I’m invisible on Gchat and Facebook because he talks to me every.single.time. I go online. I used to not mind the fact that he was clingy, until I discovered that whenever my then fiance/now husband was around, he got mean–poking me so it hurt, calling me names. Ignoring him hasn’t helped…after about a year of being hard to get a hold of, I still get voicemails asking me to go visit him (of course, my husband can come too, if necessary…) Throughout all of this, I’ve felt like I’m the bad guy, for resenting his “friendliness,” and for not spelling out explicitly that I can’t stand him anymore (while simultaneously feeling like saying so would be too rude). Hmph! Just because he feels entitled to my friendship (and/or to unseat my husband), I shouldn’t feel bad for not agreeing that he is so entitled!

    So, thank you.

  139. Mike S I call mansplaining. Vidya described her feelings on dating and we should respect that. She doesn’t need a lecture on why dating can be a good thing. Its clearly not something that she is comfortable with. The end.

    Also, I’m a little surprised to see words like junkie and hooker on here. Those aren’t okay words to use in reference to those marginalized populations.

  140. @Piffle: I loves me some Georgette Heyer, I does. glad to see I’m not the only one!

    @Snarky’s Machine: this post is made of awesome.

  141. First off, I just have to say that ‘Clueless Volefucker’ is now officially my favorite epithet in the entire universe. ‘Clownhorn Journalism’ is also entering my dictionary pronto.

    You know, I have a brother who is a Nice Guy. He keeps moaning to me about how women don’t want a really decent guy at all, since they aren’t all lining up to be with his clueless volefucker self. Of course the fact that his sister married a damn decent guy who actually treats her like a human being, and the fact that our two mutual brothers (NG and my brothers, not Mr. Twistie’s and mine because that just… nu uh.) are both really great guys who have been happily married for multiple decades to women who feel loved and cherished and – wait for it – RESPECTED in their marriages. Way to disparage three wonderful marriages, dude, because Helena Bonham Carter isn’t breathlessly waiting for your call and the nice ladies from the Edward Burne-Jones painting aren’t coming down that golden staircase toward you personally. Oh, and if those ladies ever did walk his way? He would shit himself in horror when they started having opinions of their own that don’t agree with his mansplaining.

    Meanwhile, here I am with a great husband I adore and who heaved a huge sigh of relief the first time I told him I didn’t like a song he’d written. Why? Because then he knew I would be completely honest with him. He finds that attractive. I find the fact that he finds that attractive equally attractive.

    After all, before I started seeing Mr. Twistie, I had a couple of boyfriends who wanted a beautiful, strong, independent-minded woman who agreed with every single opinion they had. No fucking thanks.

    On standards: I love how SJL dissected the matter into expectations on how you will be treated vs standards for the person. Looking for someone who respects your opinion is important and reasonable. Assuming that person will make six figures and look like an underwear model is trivial and unlikely.

    Would I like it if Mr. Twistie made more money and used correct grammar? I certainly wouldn’t have hated either of those. In the end, though, it’s far more important and attractive that he nurtures my interests, laughs with me, and is insatiably curious.

    If I hadn’t found Mr. Twistie, would I be single now? I don’t honestly know. I do know that if I hadn’t met someone who could respect me the way he does, someone who could make me laugh, someone who would be emotionally supportive of me and someone who could make my heart melt with a smile, I would absolutely be single now.

    There are a hell of a lot worse things in life than being single. I would much rather be single than wind up with a Nice Guy.

  142. This post reminds me of a conversation I was having with a friend, years ago. He was going on about how his ” idea woman”; what she must look like, how much she should weight, her height, temperament, etc. It was pretty freaking stupid. At the time, I didn’t realize that this person had the whole “nice guy” thing in spades.

    But I do remember the look on his face when I finally said to him.” Ok, great. And what makes you think that you’re such a prize?” Cause he certainly never bothered to improve his own situation in any way. Yet he was always on my arse about my weight.

    Thank Gods we lost contact with one another.

  143. Twistie said,” After all, before I started seeing Mr. Twistie, I had a couple of boyfriends who wanted a beautiful, strong, independent-minded woman who agreed with every single opinion they had. No fucking thanks. ”

    That so describes my ex-husband! He was also one of those ” Nice Guys” who would hit the wall if he didn’t get a standing ovation and the key to the city for taking out the trash. Or washing a freaking dish. And Gods forbid if my eyes wandered while he was talking to me, because he got very bent out of shape if he suspected that he wasn’t ” being heard.”

    Ugh……

  144. I don’t mind asking someone out, but making the first move in everything is tiresome.

    @Godless Heathen, I read “I don’t mind asking someone out, but making the first move in every threesome is tiring”. So thanks for that moment of awesome.

    I was the friend/NiceGuyTM all through highschool, I can see in retrospect. I wised the fuck up; you can too.

  145. “I have college friends and relatives in their late 20s and early 30s that have yet to reach their third dating relationship, ever, and it saddens me.”

    I find it odd to think of this as a bad or pitiable thing. I’m in my mid-30s, have never dated, and can’t imagine dating someone who I didn’t know well enough to think there was a realistic chance the relationship might end in marriage.

    Vidya – I’m in my mid-30s and have never had a romantic relationship of any kind, unless unrequited crushes count. I’ve been on a handful of what I call dates, meaning I went into the evening thinking of it as dating rather than hanging out. But like you I really do not want casual dating, and it’s difficult to find that unless the lightning bolt strikes. I get frustrated sometimes by the loneliness and lack of sex, but I also accepting that this is *how I am* and I don’t need to take shit from anyone for that.

    Mike S. – what fatsmartchick said.

    I’m not in denial; I’m not covering up a deep hole in my heart/soul that would be patched by some dude giving me a shiny ring; I don’t go home and watch rom-coms and eat ice cream and cry. (People are very concerned about my “coming home to an empty house.” This comes up ALL THE TIME. You know what? I work a 12-hour day, then go to the gym. An empty house = heaven.)

    AnotherKate – that x1000. I don’t like people and need to be alone a lot of the time. I get to manage my life so that I can do that. End of story.

    DRST

  146. “After all, before I started seeing Mr. Twistie, I had a couple of boyfriends who wanted a beautiful, strong, independent-minded woman who agreed with every single opinion they had. No fucking thanks.”

    So well said. I think I’m only now with my very first boyfriend who isn’t that guy, and holy crappola that is a relief.

    And fatsmartchick, thank you for speaking up. I wanted to say something but I didn’t feel totally comfortable jumping in and potentially starting a fight, but I think you are right on.

    (Re: this post, if it wasn’t clear:
    “Mike S I call mansplaining. Vidya described her feelings on dating and we should respect that. She doesn’t need a lecture on why dating can be a good thing. Its clearly not something that she is comfortable with. The end.

    Also, I’m a little surprised to see words like junkie and hooker on here. Those aren’t okay words to use in reference to those marginalized populations.”)

  147. Oh no! the women are on to my whole ‘misrepresent my desire to get into their pants as friendship by being a ‘nice guy” strategy! Next thing you know, they’ll realize I only pretend to cae about their ‘feminizmz’ problems to score chicks! :[

  148. Thanks, assorted Shaplings!

    @AnotherKate, I also don’t understand the whole pressure around the ‘empty house’. For the various phases of my whole life, I have always lived with other people — parents, sibling, and companion animals; roominghouse co-tenants/friends (plus a bonus evil landlady); and a roommate/friend plus cats. Who says a romantic partner as the only solution to ‘an empty house’ (if, indeed, one even wants a solution)? Why are these other relationships considered inferior to such a partner? They sure aren’t in my eyes.

  149. Another empty house enthusiast here! I am very good at dating relationships, but I am not good with living with someone. I NEED more space than that to feel like I am not just playing a walk-on role in their world. Does that limit the people who are interested in dating me seriously? Hell, yes. I am probably never going to be able to handle a house in the suburbs with 2 kids playing in the yard and tons of activity. A lot of people, completely correctly, want that. But the up side is, I get to live in a way that makes me comfortable right now. And my understanding that, makes me a lot more pleasant to be in a relationship with.

  150. Nice post and wow, so many issues brought up in comments.

    First re: the “nice” guy – The “nice” guy meme has always made my blood boil. Thank God, though, when “nice” guys are clueless and unattractive rather than pretty and smart. I’ve seen the more extreme end of the spectrum – the female relative closest to me was abused and eventually put in her death bed by her husband, who was “so nice” to all outsiders, and one of my best friends is currently in a relationship with an emotionally abusive “nice” guy (“I’m so nice but all my friends have ditched me!!! And no, you can’t go out with your friends or talk to them on the phone cause I’m so nice and what am I gonna do at home alone without you??”). And you’re right, I find this kind of “niceness” so manipulative, it shouts about itself so much and quickly turns into anger when one sees through it or doesn’t respond. And yes, these nice guys are ALWAYS going on about how much they don’t get despite their niceness and how much they’ve been robbed of, and I get so angry when they actually manage to find someone who falls for it. Yeah – the people who fall for the “nice guy who doesn’t get anything” talk is a whole other, and more upsetting topic!

    And who even describes themselves or anyone else as “nice?” I’ll say I’m generous and loving, but I’m not “nice,” per se. That kind of “niceness” is always going off with rage about how much they don’t get, whereas the rest of us don’t ask the world to repay us for our “niceness” because we realize everyone has shit to deal with, not just us. It’s like, yeah, I occasionally indulge in “why are all these assholes getting everything so easily!!!??” mentalities in certain contexts, but I don’t impose them on anyone else as a request for their attention.

    I do, however, want to go against some of the “well no wonder these ‘nice’ guys are single!” comments, as being single isn’t indicative of not having meaningful relationships. I’m single for a variety of reasons. I would say I have high expectations, though those expectations are the following: Nice smile, nice eyes, is funny, thinks I’m funny, similar values, can sustain amazing conversation, and respects me. I’d rather be without a romantic partner than settle for one without all those qualities. I absolutely realize you’re talking about other kinds of “expectations” in this post, but I just say this because I’m still kind of invested in the language of expectations and not settling or compromising, as it seems like so many would rather date anyone at all than be single.

  151. Trig-lookit the area under the comments section; you can subscribe to the comments via an RSS feed without having to post.

    And now onto the topic at hand.

    As always, a tad late to the party but delighted by the sheer volume of awesome in the comments here. Really REALLY tired but will try to articulate as best as I can.

    I too am really REALLY frustrated over the whole notion that women should “settle” for a guy just because he is “nice” to them/worships the ground that they walk on. If the feeling is mutual then boy howdy go for it, but but sheesh, if I wanted a dog slobbering all over me I’d go to the pound and get one.

    The BIGGEST context that I see the whole “settle for a nice guy” thing in glorious technicolor in is in the context of TEH SEX. Sweet guy who loves you and professes to love your body also, until he actually has to do anything sexual with it. We’re somehow supposed to settle for mediocre sex because “everything else is so good” and “it’s not that important in the long run.” I had this drilled into me during my upbringing and it made me miserable until I had the mental fortitude and a string of events/relationships that helped me to ditch that crutch.

    This is especially true for women in that men are EXPECTED to be satisfied, and there’s a lot of infrastructure to support that. While adultery by men is seen as a no-no, it’s sort of expected or excused away in a lot of cases, and one is considered a “jealous bitch” if she’s upset that her man went for a lapdance or three once in a while. Note that there’s no real equivalent where a woman can just go after work, knock back a few drinks, and writhe on the perfect body of a man whose entire livelihood depends upon catering to women’s ideals and fantasies before dusting themselves off and going home (added bonus: to a house that’s clean with a hot dinner on the table prepared by her male partner, who is supposed to be gushingly grateful to see her) *snark*

    I can’t tell you the number of times I dated–and twice almost married–”nice guys” who claimed to adore me where the sex was meh. It’s like women aren’t allowed to have good sex be on the list of mandatory relationship attributes. Thanks to whomever posted this xkcd comic, because it says it all: http://www.xkcd.com/513/

    That comic was me about ten minutes before I started rampantly cheating on a former fiance ages ago when I was back in school. B was a nice guy. He loved me. He sent me cutesy little Hallmark cards. He was in fact a great conversationalist, even though he didn’t have my breadth of interest on things that were important to me, and he made himself there for me. He pushed the relationship very fast emotionally (not physically). Once things got sexual and I realized that he was crap in bed, I tried to end things. He was so upset that I felt sorry for him and gave him another chance. We slumped into a routine where he practically lived at my place, on my student budget, while he fumbled along in life (he could barely hold down a job and almost made it a point to be late to EVERYTHING and fuck up even the simplest tasks–he couldn’t even manage to hard-boil eggs when we were making deviled eggs for a potluck, among other things).

    Every weekend–everything that we did, every meal we ate, I had to make the decisions.

    Fast forward two years later. Average-looking guy moves into building. Chatting with him while he unpacked, I realized that he was much more intellectually astute than B, knew how to DO things (like not fuck up changing a lightbulb), and was obviously ATTRACTED to me.

    He made this last point known in subtle, very sexy and exciting ways. I told him that I was engaged, but much to my own shame, I realized that there was a huge sexual chemistry there. When we finally acted on it, I hid it from my (now) ex as long as possible, and finally fessed up when I couldn’t take the secrecy anymore. Shortly afterwards, I stopped seeing both guys, but I felt so much…freer. I had been afraid of hurting Fiance, and actually loved him a lot at the end of the day, but the something missing was becoming the elephant in the room.

    Fiance #2 was a lot like #1 but even worse in bed. We’re still friends (not fwb) but again, after I broke up with him and had a few partners who really Rocked My World, I realized that I have to have Good Sex on the Must Have not the Nice to Have list. And, sadly enough, #2 still hits on me once in a blue moon. I always decline, but he has NOT moved on mentally from our relationship. It’s been 10 years and he hasn’t seriously dated anyone else since.

    Note that the Current System doesn’t even want to hear about polyamory in any way.

    Now, I’m in yet another situation where I have a long-distance relationship with a guy who is very nice, whom I love talking to, and so on. Alas, when after several visits when we finally got together physically, things were just…meh. I had told him well in advance that I didn’t think monogamy ever really worked for me, but part of me knows that he says he’s OK with it only because he knows that his only other choice is walking. I’m not having sex with anyone else right now at the moment, but that may change; I have another relationship slowly developing closer to home with a man whom I am genuinely excited about the prospect of having sex with.

    Mind you, if my Long Distance Guy and mine’s genders were reversed, it would be seen as perfectly OK if he ditched me for not being the hottest thing between the sheets. No reason would be needed, no explanation.

    OTOH if I were to tell Long Distance Guy “lookit, the sex just isn’t working and that’s important to me. I still want you in my life, but I really need to take it elsewhere if I’m going to get what I want physically” I would be seen as any number of stereotypes–slut, nympho, bitch, etc etc etc.

    At the end of the day, in many relationships, one party usually has more power in the relationship than the other, but this becomes toxic in a society where men are assumed to (and given the tools to) have the upper hand in any situation. Women having power in a situation where a man is involved=evil perversion of someone’s Imaginary Natural Order.

    Which is why I’m convinced that THIS is why the Right hates contraception and abortion rights, as well as rollbacks of anti-discrimination laws in hiring–they NEVER want a women to have a CHOICE to pursue good sex. “Hey, I’m a good provider, she’s STUCK here with her brood, she won’t/CAN’T leave me even if I’m a selfish/crappy lover and I go out to the strip club to get wiggled on/blown every once in while.”

    I don’t want to get married. I don’t want kids. So, the “reasons” for having someone around would be, among other things, to have good sex with them. However, according to the ManRules, this makes me a bad person.

  152. @ Alix
    I totally agree with the idea that if you have to say you’re nice, you just might not be. If you can name the tao, it ain’t the tao and all that. My husband has a theory that all public declarations are ironic. If you have to say how great, how principled, how fair-and-balanced you are, you’re not. Actions will speak and you needn’t say a word.

    I don’t know about everybody else, but I’m about all niced out. Nice-girl syndrome is a patriarchal blight upon the sisterhood that trains us from birth to be complicit in our own subjugation. Nice-guy syndrome is an emotional pathology that does real, mortal damage in the world. I’m all for chucking “nice” out the window for the raging inauthenticity it really is in most cases; “kind,” “compassionate,” “considerate,” and “humane” are the real deal. I can haz that, please?

  153. I read “I don’t mind asking someone out, but making the first move in every threesome is tiring”

    I wish. Well no, I don’t wish, I’m not a bedroom cruise director.

    @Jenonymous: I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to talk about sex in this thread.

    Being the object of a Nice Guy crush sucks, but being the friend of a Nice Guy and listening to his toxic bullshit about other women sucks hard too. I had this friend in college who would whine about how he wasn’t getting any tail. He could have had a lot of girls if he’d tried to date women who shared his interests (me!). He wasn’t bad looking IMHO, he just expected models and cheerleaders instead of average-looking fellow geeks. Of course, he also thought there was no reason for men and women to be friends if sex wouldn’t be involved so, yeah. Ok, to be fair I hung in the friend zone a lot longer than I should have, but I was young and hadn’t yet learned that I could use imperative sentences without the universe exploding.

    I’d forgiven him yesterday, thank you Snarky’s for reminding me of why I don’t talk to him anymore. He turned out to be a fat hater too. Ugh in retrospect, I think I spent my late teens and early 20′s with loser magnets embedded in me.

  154. Godless Heathen: I agree about how much it sucks being the crush/friend of a Nice Guy.

    I have a friend (who rarely brings this up and that’s why we remain friends) who claims he doesn’t have a girlfriend because, “All of the girls at my college are sluts.” Yeah, THAT’S why. Never mind that you’re going to school in California on a huge campus, I’m sure they’re all sluts. Yup. (And really, I object to him saying the slut thing too!)

    I met my ex online several years ago and we decided to live together. I moved to his state and met his friends, one of his best friends immediately formed a “Nice Guy” crush on me. It was terrible!

    He was always buying me things (that I didn’t want!) and then reprimanding my boyfriend for not buying something for me first. He’d always insult my boyfriend (Note: HIS BEST FRIEND) for not bending over backwards for me. When we were unfortunate enough to be alone I’d be asked, “Why are you dating a guy like Matt anyway?” It was infuriating.

  155. Caitlin – I was the friend/NiceGuyTM all through highschool, I can see in retrospect. I wised the fuck up; you can too.

    I think a lot of people are the Nice Guy/GirlTM when they are young (I’m sure I was too). It’s part of the maturing process. The first time you are rejected by someone you like, it’s a huge kick in the teeth and you scrabble around to find an explanation other than “I am so hideous and pathetic that no one will ever love me” and quite often people settle on “Men/women are so shallow that they don’t want nice people like me” because it’s part of the cultural narrative and it salves their ego. I think it does tend to seesaw between “I am so hideous and pathetic that no one will ever love me” and “other people are too shallow to appreciate people like me” for most people – for some reason, “this is a perfectly nice and likeable person who just isn’t attracted to me” is not something you can consider as one of the options when you’re a teenager.

    Also, the younger/less-experienced you are the harder it is to take a risk and tell someone how you feel, so the more likely you are to hang around being “friends” with people you fancy, hoping that you just somehow fall into a relationship with them, possibly via osmosis or similar because you can NEVER TELL THEM how you feel. The idea of being rejected outright by the person you have been crushing on is devastating, and quite often you’re in an environment where people genuinely will mock you for being rejected (ah school, the best days of everyone’s life). So you choose the safe option and say nothing.

    But most people get over that phase. You realise that the attraction thing is actually pretty complicated. You recognise that people are individuals and that the actions of one person isn’t applicable to everyone who happens to share their gender. You are rejected by a few people and you survive. In short, you grow up. Shame some people don’t ever get past that initial immature blame phase when it comes to relationships.

  156. To clarify, by the “hooker” comment, I meant:

    He was treating me like a prostitute, prostitutes are generally scorned, therefore he was treating me scornfully, and so that’s why it was bad.

    Not: he was treating me like a prostitute, prositutes deserve to be treated badly, and so that’s why it was bad.

    Not to totally derail, but I’ve known people in the sex industry and never once heard that the term “hooker” had become verboten. If someone who actually knows something about/is a member of this marginalized group would like to correct me, I’d love to learn, but I’m wary of people not from marginalized groups getting to decide what is and isn’t okay to say (for instance, white people getting their knickers in a knot when people say “Indian” instead of “Native American,”which no one who actually is Indian gives a flying frizzle about.)

  157. To all the other “single ladies” not overly interested in “putting a ring on it” – WORD. And word to the Nth power on being single rather than staying with a guy who wants to change you. Dude, if you want someone different, go find her! Can’t get who you want because your sense of entitlement is off the scale? Not. My. Problem.

    For example, I had one guy tell me that I was “great,” but his friends’ opinions meant a lot to him and they wouldn’t “get” why he was with me. So I could change the way I looked, or accept that I’d never be more than a secret F buddy. When I showed him the door, he said he knew I wouldn’t understand. Actually, I do – you’re a douche!

    Re the empty house: I love my friends and family, and like the commenter above, have plenty of go-to people. That said, I’m happy as hell with my “empty house.” My choice of decor! My choice of what to eat! My choice of what to watch on tv! Selfish? You bet!

    I try to be a generous person…but this does not include cooking for someone and picking up his socks while he complains about his job, his ex-wife, or my failure to look like Pornstar Barbie. (A relationship need not look like that, but most of mine did, which is why I don’t have them anymore. I haven’t totally ruled it out, but if I wind up filling the empty house with a dog, or nothing at all, that’s ok too.)

  158. Paintmonkey, I still love you and want to have your babies in a totally sci-fi futuristic way.

    If we ever wake up from cryo-sleep, write me?

  159. My daughter and I went to her elementary school’s talant play last night; and one of the girls sang Taylor Smith’s “You Belong With Me”. Just one of those moments.

    Heyer is wonderful, I particularly like The Grand Sophy; because Sophy reminds me of my daughter.

    And an empty house is only a bad thing if you’re lonely there. Otherwise it’s a Room of Your Own on a grand scale.

  160. *Channels Gilda Radner/Emily Litella*

    Hey, making the first move in every threesome is tiring. Making sure everyone is interested in each other — hell, just coordinating the gay/straight/bi-ness so that everyone is sexually interested in the other’s sex/gender identity! And then finding a good time and place for the threesome to happen. And making sure there’s enough lube, condoms, toys, and all that. It’s hard work!

    What? Oh, nevermind.

    */GR/EL*

  161. Um, sorry the Taylor Smith song is the epitomy of NGness from a female NG. Meant to mention that….

  162. On a totally unPaintmonkey-related note (it’s a totally platonic crush, I swear, she’s just awesomesauce with a side of queso!*)…

    I’ve dated/known my share of Nice Guys, the most recent of which came up in a conversation a few months back for whom I got totally called out upon here. This particular NG is the most blatant of the lot.

    He’s called me on the carpet for dating my current boyfriend, let’s call him L, because he doesn’t see any difference between himself and L. He’s pointed out L’s flaws, mostly L’s weight which, due to his sociability and activity with people who love cameras and Facebook, is public. I could spend all day talking about L because I think he puts the stars in the sky while I’m looking for my glasses, but that’s not the point, the point is my ex-friend is a jerk.

    Anyone who tears down your current relationship without good reasons isn’t your friend. (My best friend spend a year trying to get me to leave someone who was hitting me, this is the obvious exception.)

    RE: bellacoker; I’m on the autism spectrum (2 siblings diagnosed with full-blown-doesn’t-talk-autism, I’m too old for the Aspergers trend, got diagnosed with a lot of crap that mostly I don’t think fits)…. and I’m totally clueless most of the time socially. I’ve tried very hard to rectify that with no real results. I’m still clueless! I rely on my friends to tell me when I’m being extra-weird. Us perpetually clueless folks aren’t ALWAYS mean and horrible… sometimes we’re trying our hardest and it’s all just baffling. It can be pretty hard for a “normal” person to tell, too. If you’ll pardon the parlance I usually pass for ‘neurotypical’-but-weird.

    I realize that if you’re socially savvy creepo NG’s prolly seem different to you than autism-spectrum wonder-nerds, but they don’t to _me_. Well, at least on first sighting… which is why I end up dealing with so many horrible self-centered jerks. It’s just so hard to tell and I try to give strange-seeming folk the benefit of the doubt because heck, _I’m_ weird! If my friends hadn’t all given me the benefit, I doubt I’d have any.

  163. That was a huge comment for me.

    *I love queso and can be tricked into performing odious household chores with it. Dusting, cleaning bathrooms, clipping coupons…

  164. @Pala
    Both terms are not okay at the needle exchange/sex worker outreach program that I volunteer for. The women don’t use hooker and law enforcement is actively discouraged to not use it when dealing with the women. It could be the white lady running the program is the reason for all of that but a) even on here we know words matter and she’s very keen on using terms that aren’t dehumanizing b) the women are tight enough with her that they wouldn’t see her as ‘nice white lady’ but someone who makes their needs a priority. In general hooker also isn’t used in the harm reduction world and if memory serves people like Annie Sprinkle use the term ‘sex worker’.

  165. I’ve heard this a lot and I think it is contrary to the way that the world actually works. If those dudes liked, say, video games. They would learn about them, and practice playing them, and talk to people about how awesome they are, and generally hone their video game skills.

    Again, it is not anyone else’s responsibility if a guy who wants a date cannot get a date. And also again, there’s nothing wrong with choosing to be single. But in the specific example you picked, if you play the video game and lose your feelings are not hurt and you can play the exact same game again as many times as you like. In that respect getting dates is unlike many other skills.

    Some people seem to develop a crush on someone, ask them out, are refused, and are so hurt by the refusal that they stop asking anyone out. Some become jerks who use passive aggressive acts, threats, or other methods to try to get a relationship another way. But others just become lonely. And for the nth time, I’m speaking of people who want a relationship but lack the skills to get one, not people who do not want one.

    If Vidya chooses to remain single, that’s fine. But I was specifically addressing her dislike of dating when the date is not with someone who is a serious candidate for a long term relationship. For anyone else that does want a long term relationship, I think that approach is not practical.

  166. In high school, I had a friend who was the typical Nice Guy. He taught me how to drive, we’d have pizza together, hang out, etc. But he always wanted more. And I was made to feel like a user and a cock tease when I didn’t give it up. I thought about going out with him, more than once, but he made me feel kinda icky . XKCD cartoon actually sums it up perfectly. On the eve oh his wedding, we wrote me a long, long letter stating he would call the whole thing off if only I’d agree to be with him – we’d be perfect together. After his son was born, he invited me over while his wife was out of town and told me they never had sex anymore and he propositioned me. I was in him home no longer than 25 minutes before I had to leave. Now he’s divorced. Doesn’t sound like a nice guy, now does he? A couple of months ago, I come home from work and he’s left a message on my home answering machine. I don’t know how he tracked me down after 15 years. I was pissed at my husband for not paying extra to keep our number unpublished, but he has a megafuckton of white male cis privilege and doesn’t always think about stalkers or rapists or icky men creeping on you. I have NOT called Nice Guy back and I won’t. Dude, we went to HS together 23 years ago and I’m still not interested. Really. We don’t need to “catch up” or “reconnect” now or ever. And you were never really nice.

    I’m happily married to super nice man now. He is kind and patient and accepting and understanding and compassionate. He embraces feminist ideals. He supports my work. In turn, I try to do the same for him. Did I lower my standards? Yes and no. I held true to the qualities I wanted in a mate, I just accepted that he might not come wrapped in a Daniel Craig package. Once I made that realization, I was free to accept the awesome guy standing right in front of me.

    Another fabulous Snarky’s Machine post! Love that!

  167. Godless Heathen: “Ok, to be fair I hung in the friend zone a lot longer than I should have, but I was young and hadn’t yet learned that I could use imperative sentences without the universe exploding.”

    This made me laugh out loud in my office. My distinguished office-neighbor is probably wondering what is wrong with me.

  168. Sorry for the bad grammar/ wrong words. It’s my day off and I ain’t spell checkin’ or correctin’ jack shit.

  169. Amen to pretty much all of this.

    I’m married to a genuinely nice guy who, when I first met him, set off one or two caution bells as a possible “Nice Guy” — all his closest friends were women, never had a real relationship, etc. Except that it turned out that he wasn’t “Nice,” just actually nice. He mostly hung out with women because it’s hard to find college-age guys who like Tori Amos, Dar Williams, and the Indigo Girls. (We have a deal: he only plays his Tori albums when I’m not around, and I do likewise with the Pogues.) He’d never been in a real relationship because he’d never experienced mutual click-age.

    And he understands the difference between preferences and requirements. His requirements were for somebody smart, funny, and into reading, with the same fundamental values that he has. On a preference level, he really has a thing for redheads. (This doesn’t, incidentally, leave out WOC — the red can be massively, manifestly fake. He just likes red hair.) He also likes teh boobies, particularly if there’s a bit of visible cleavage. But he somehow never got the idea that the universe owed him a smokin’ hot, stacked redhead for being a decent human being. What he got was a chubby brunette who usually wears high-necked shirts to help subdue a Rack of Doom. And who also has a compatible sense of humor, similar interests, and the same fundamental values.

    So I’m not so sure it’s as much about lowering one’s standards, other than purely on a physical/financial/status level, as it is about massively readjusting one’s standards. My standards were and are pretty fucking high. They just don’t have anything to do with bank account, nifty possessions, or the shape of my partner’s chin.

  170. @Paintmonkey: Did I ever STOP snorting ginger beer from my nose? (I loooove ginger. Well no I hate ginger but it fixes my motion sickness… so I love it, even though I hate the way it tastes. If that makes sense?)

  171. It makes sense to me. I drank Ginger Beer only this morning while feeling cavalier and slightly retro, so I did a little fizzy burp to celebrate.

  172. To clarify the use of “junkie”:

    I hang out with a lot of recovered addicts. They comprise my entire family and most of my friends. I can’t say if this is standard usage for all addicts, but I will say that with all the addicts I know, “junkie” is used as a term that denotes a person is addicted to heroin. It’s not used as a general synonym for “addict,” and it’s not used as a slur to dehumanize, anymore than the words “addict” or “alcoholic” are used among addicts to slur others. Those words are, among the recovered addicts I know, simply used as accurate descriptions of their disease. I’ve understood, from them, that owning those words and understanding that they denote illness instead of badness has been a huge part of their recovery.

    Anyway, my intention was to use that word to denote that the guy I was talking about was a heroin addict. I don’t consider it a derogatory term because I don’t think there’s anything shameful about being an addict. But I’m not representative of the general population with that opinion. I am really immersed in recovery and addiction, and there’s no reason for me to assume that my context is coming across clearly to others who have not had my experiences or education with these topics. When I say “junkie,” I mean “a sick person for whom heroin is their drug of choice.” When other people hear “junkie,” they may be hearing (and assume I’m using) the more common definition of “a bad person who uses drugs.”

    Intention doesn’t trump effect, so I apologize to anybody who believed I was insulting addicts. When you’ve heard your mother, grandparents, and best friends frequently and freely refer often to themselves — without fear or shame, and often joyfully — as junkies, you start to forget that it’s an ugly word that shall not be spoken or applied to other people.

  173. @ Harriet @Pala

    I’ve been mulling this over all morning. I think its just a difference in where we’re coming from in terms of ‘knowing’ addicts and sex workers. My experience is in an institutional setting where you’re up against a criminal justice system and legislature that just want these people to go to jail. They use ‘junkie’ and ‘hooker’ to write off these populations. Terms like sex worker and IV drug user force you to recognize that there’s a human being with agency behind those words.

  174. Oh and as for the topic at hand… I wish I had Snarky’s post 10 years ago. Then I would have been able to name the behavior I saw in two of my former guy friends. I’m also reminded of instances where my family basically said I was too picky and mean when I refused to date certain guys that I wasn’t attracted to. Just recently my mother told me my standards were too high when she ran into a a guy who had a crush on me in high school. How do you tell your mother ‘Mom, actually he told my friends that he jacked off to my year book photo so he’s kinda creepy.’ I guess I should be flattered by that attention as well…

  175. I do, however, want to go against some of the “well no wonder these ‘nice’ guys are single!” comments, as being single isn’t indicative of not having meaningful relationships.

    You’re conflating two issues. Nobody has judgment towards folks who are single and like it that way, but if one actively seeks to be in a relationship and finds their methods not working, well those methods are fair game for examination.

  176. To clarify the use of “junkie”:

    In my experience, the only folks who are labeled “substance users” are nice, rich white folks who buy coke and use prescription drugs. Marginalized folks get called junkies. Ditto for “sex workers”. marginalized folks get called hookers.

    I’m not sure why using such language is problematic, particularly if you’re not into trading in euphemisms that make nice white folks feel less uncomfortable.

  177. Some people seem to develop a crush on someone, ask them out, are refused, and are so hurt by the refusal that they stop asking anyone out. Some become jerks who use passive aggressive acts, threats, or other methods to try to get a relationship another way. But others just become lonely.

    And for all those people, their reaction and their choices to continue having that reaction or to change it belong to them. I am not in the business of pitying people who do not have the self esteem to make themselves happy. When one becomes an adult, one gains responsibility for one’s own happiness and for one’s own problems.

    I say this as someone who has had all the responses to rejection described above. You get over it, or you don’t. It’s nobody else’s job to hold your hand about it. And it’s certainly not the responsibility of others to date someone they’re not interested in so that zie doesn’t feel bad about hirself.

    If someone is that affected by rejection, the rejection was not the problem in the first place.

  178. JenniferP – oh man, that brought back memories of when I used to hang out on those dating sites. Man, there are some real winners there! I’ve had many a conversation like that.

    Just for contrast, let me show you how a “real, live, actual” nice (_not_ TM) guy goes about it. I met a guy through a Meetup group I’m in and we got to talking about something unrelated to the usual Meetup discussion topic. So we agreed to meet on our own outside of the Meetup group, which I took as a “friends” outing, and thought he did too. I’m seeing someone, which I hadn’t had the opportunity to tell him yet, and couldn’t find a way to drop it into conversation without being totally obvious. He then proceeded to flirt, hit on me a bit – but all in a friendly, respectable way, and it wasn’t 100% clear if he was just being friendly or flirting. He even insisted on buying me a couple drinks – I tried to pay my own way, but he insisted, and hey I’m a poor grad student and he makes good money in the corporate world, so I let him buy. Then, some more flirting which I politely rebuffed while continuing to be friendly, hoping that he would get the message. But when he walked me to my door and tried to kiss me, it was clear he hadn’t caught my signals, so I turned it into a cheek kiss, then politely told him that I liked him and would like to hang out with him as a friend, but I was already seeing someone.

    Did he go all ballistic and start calling me beotch? No, he just said ok, acknowledged being a little disappointed, then we went back to being friends again. No hard feelings. That’s the way real nice guys do it – take note, men!

  179. @fatsmartchick: I get your perspective better now, thanks. It makes sense to me where your objections are coming from.

    @Snarky: I sometimes use “slut” in a playfully positive way among friends. As in, “Ooh, girl, way to slut it,” to a friend who’s getting happily sexed by one or multiple partners of her ecstatic choice. But I have had the experience of accidentally saying that in front of somebody who is something less than a cool person. I say slut and mean “woman who is fulfilling her sexual needs with vigor,” they hear slut and think I mean, “dirty, dirty unmale.” Then, suddenly, they are like, “Oh, hey, you are my new misogynist ally! Let us discuss how women are diseased and wicked beasts,” and I have a new unfriend that I can’t get rid of.

    I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to clarify there, but eventually I decided to clarify because I don’t want any lurkers who are all, “Yeah, addicts, they are worthless people,” to think I was on their side because my meaning of “junkie” is different than theirs, and I didn’t make that clear. I don’t expect this is the kind of forum that draws those people, but you never know.

    I tend to agree with you when it comes to prettifying language. I’ve had too many white (now ex) friends who say “ghetto” or “inner-city” or “urban youth” or “impoverished” when, by the context of their statements and the tone in their voice and the drop in your gut, you know they mean “n-word.” I hate that because it’s a quick and easy cookie-generator for the privileged and bigoted, but I also hate it because I like accuracy. If we are talking about a real person, a subject, I want to use an accurate descriptor. If we are talking about objects — stereotypes, belief systems, concepts, social tropes — I want to use an accurate descriptor.
    So, a person (subject) is a sex worker, but the way she is viewed/the social concept of her profession/the way she is depicted in media/the general belief about women who sex a lot (objects) is “whore” or “hooker.” I don’t consider those words interchangeable synonyms, especially not in a feminist space. They’re separate and distinct concepts with particular meanings. The meanings don’t get erased if the words do, though our ability to dissect and discuss those meanings does, and that drives me fucking bonkers.

    So everybody else knows why it drives me bonkers: I get at least ten booted comments a week from mansplainers trying to tell me my feminist arguments are bunk because I say “bitch” a lot. You know, when talking about the concept of “bitches.” Erasing that word from the lexicon doesn’t erase the concept, but now suddenly I’m rendered unable to dissect the concept (and I also think, in most cases, it makes the concept even more powerful. How much worse is it to know you meet the silent cultural definition for a word that is so wrong no civilized person will say it out loud?). To me, it’s like hiding the smoke and laying off the firefighters.

  180. Re: Nice White Euphemisms. In MN, the NWE for “incarcerated person” is “Offender.” (Now, you have to imagine that said Upper-Midwest style- O-ffender, with a side of Prairie Home Companion.)

    A student of mine once rolled his eyes and said “I wish they’d get over it and call me what I am, which is a criminal. I guess inmate is okay, too.”

    And there was a lesson for me, oh yes. Nice White Euphemisms, to him, anyway, were a red flag that someone was glossing over an issue. I think he thought that you could be hostile towards inmates, or supportive of inmates, but when you used the word “inmate” or “criminal” or “prisoner” either way, you were at least speaking straight. You might be an asshole, but you were an honest one.

    I still found myself walking a Which Noun When tightrope, and still was massively uncomfortable when hearing COs use “inmate” as a synonym for “sub-human.” But his perspective helped me out a lot in understanding how Institutional Doublespeak can work.

  181. Another problem with the term sex worker is that it’s broader than prostitute. Sex work encompasses stripping, “exotic” dancing and other things that aren’t prostitution.

    It’s all about nice use of language.

    TRiG.

  182. @thegirlfrommarz —

    Really spot-on comment that rang true for me about falling into Nice Girl/Nice Guy-behavior when young … then growing up.

  183. @ Kristie

    “I’m all for chucking “nice” out the window for the raging inauthenticity it really is in most cases; “kind,” “compassionate,” “considerate,” and “humane” are the real deal. I can haz that, please?”

    I second that statement 1000%.

  184. @TRIG
    True true. Sex worker does include a wide variety of activities (althought I also think a lot of the other jobs you mentioned are a little too neat because sometimes those jobs DO contain elements of prostitution. There is some grey there). But sex worker is the preferred term among sex worker activists like COYOTE for example. To be honest the only people I know who object to the term sex worker are in the abolitionist camp like Dworkin, McKenna, and Farley.
    But I didn’t mean for my comment to be a threadjack so I’m going to bow out of this discussion and let the topic at hand prevail.

  185. sex worker – my thoughts:

    “Uptight comes in a variety of strains but the one I’m referring to is of the liberal ally variety. They often send what they believe are helpful emails designed to get me to do whatever puppetry they see fit. Maybe it’s to clarify my stance on the term “hooker boots” because it problematically frames sex workers as people who wear a lot of boots. Or my stance that hookers in the 70s wore fur chubbies. I should stop that because it erases the sex workers who were anti fur and outspoken about it. Newsflash – I don’t give a shit how strip-to-pay-for-Barnard types feel about the way in which I frame hookerdom. They aren’t the boss of the hoedown. I’m not diminishing, dismissing or invisibilizing the very real plight of working class sex workers (of which there are many) – and I’m certainly not trying to frame their experience from a privileged-sex-work-is-transgressive perspective, which I find decidedly more offensive than me saying that hookers on 70s cop shows rocked a lot of fur chubbies. Oh yeah and that “sex worker” label, in my experience only gets applied to nice middle class, cisgendered, straight abled women, folks who don’t realize framing “sex work” as a choice and all the chow chow about “agency” (wtf, do we work for Charlie now?) doesn’t mean they’re transgressive, it just means they’re privileged! Now the rest of us (in or out of hookerdom) just get called hoes.”

    From “What I’ve learned from blogging (so far)”

    And with that, we end this derail. Thanks and let’s get back on topic.

  186. Nice Guy = Sucking blackhole of need.

    As with many here I’ve gone on dates with NiceGuyTM and was even second-hand stalked by one. It sucks.. sucks outloud!!!

    And I don’t get the “… a lot of Nice Guys are genuinely nice people that are just clueless about getting a date.” Umm…no. If a guy likes theatre–I’m pretty sure he can find someone to go out on a date to see a play with. Like art?—ask someone if they’d like to go to an exhibit, a museum, a gallery. If these so-called genuinely nice people can’t get a date it’s because, to me, it seems they’re not out there enjoying what they like to do to meet like-minded people who would be interested in doing it with them (ooer obviously).

    Oh, and very fast we might see if this nice guy is really NiceGuyTM in disguise. Although they don’t really disguise themselves very well with their passive/agreesive needy/ overbearing behaviorial suckattude. For some people 12 steps aren’t nearly enough.

  187. Snarky’s, the only people I have ever met who wanted to be called “junkies” were rich white boys who wanted to be cool. The people I have known with addiction issues strongly preferred to be called “addicts” or “people who are addicted to {whatever}.”

    As for “substance abusers,” that is a common term in the caregiving world and it is used because it is a way to describe alcoholics, people with drug addictions, and people who do not have physical or physiological addictions but who use alcohol or drugs in ways that have negative impacts on their day-to-day lives in one group. You can dismiss it as a “euphemism” if you like, but I would suggest that it’s a lot easier for the people providing services to refer to “substance abusers” than to say “drug addicts, alcoholics, and people who aren’t actually addicted to drugs or alcohol but who use them incautiously enough to have negative impacts on their daily lives” every time they refer to the population.

    Similarly, everyone I have ever met who has sold sex has self-identified as a “prostitute” (or “pro”) or a “sex worker”, not a “hooker” or a “whore”.

    Obviously, your experience and my experience are not going to overlap perfectly, seeing as we are two different people, but I have never heard anyone who was a person of color and/or a poor person self-identify as a “junkie” or a “hooker”, whereas I have heard many many privileged white people use those terms as terms of derogation. My general principle is to use people’s preferred self-descriptors rather than the terms of derogation applied to them, so.

  188. I wonder if part of the “problem” with Nice Guys is that so many women are Nice Girls. I know that was always my issue. I can recall maybe 4 “nice guys” who pursued me in Lloyd Dobbler-esque ways when I was in high school. And, they *were* genuinely nice guys, good friends, people I enjoyed spending time with. I just wasn’t attracted to them. And, I’ve always liked nice guys, so it wasn’t their niceness that I wasn’t attracted to. I was just attracted to nice guys who happened not to be them.

    But, I was such a Nice Girl that I couldn’t come out and say, “I do not want a romantic relationship with you.” I tried to let them down in subtle (and increasingly passive-aggressive) ways, all in an effort to not hurt their feelings (and, probably more importantly, not think badly of me). So I can’t really blame them, in hindsight, for not getting the hint, because I shouldn’t have been giving hints. I should have just come out and been direct. Then, if they kept going, it would have been their bad, but as it was I was so invested in being a Nice Girl that I can’t blame a Nice Guy for having thought that he just had a try a little harder and I’d fall madly in love with him.

    This was from waaaaaaaay upthread but I wanted to comment on it:

    Getting a date/lover/partner is Not a Right.

    I get that, I do, but the idealistic part of me wants to cry out, “But it should be!!” Not that I really think it should be a right, but for most people (not all, but most) having a partner is so important and such a fundamental part of their life that I can understand why people will despair over being able to find one. I have single friends who are wonderful, kind people, and they really long to find a person to spend their life with, and I imagine I’d feel the same way in their situation. Having never dated as an adult (I met my husband when I was 18 and married him at 22), and looking at it from the outside in, it seems mostly miserable. So I’m probably going to err on the side of cutting people a lot of slack for wallowing in a bit of self-pity if they can’t find a partner when they really want to.

  189. Obviously, your experience and my experience are not going to overlap perfectly, seeing as we are two different people, but I have never heard anyone who was a person of color and/or a poor person self-identify as a “junkie” or a “hooker”, whereas I have heard many many privileged white people use those terms as terms of derogation. My general principle is to use people’s preferred self-descriptors rather than the terms of derogation applied to them,

    Maybe that just means you need to get more. I didn’t say self identify, I said folks can use language that works for them, particularly as far as language that has been used against them. If that feels problematic for you, again, that’s your deal, not mine.

    as far as marginalized folks having to alter their language (specifically language used against them) simply because privileged folks used in a problematic way, yeah I’ll take a hot bag of “no thanks” on that.

    Sounds way too much like, “If white people can’t use the n-word then black people shouldn’t either.” again, no thanks.

  190. “I wonder if part of the “problem” with Nice Guys is that so many women are Nice Girls.”

    Uh, fuck no, let’s not do that. Let’s not blame a woman’s lack of agressiveness as the reason why so many guys are not respectful of women’s boundaries. Maybe consider why a woman would not want to be aggressive, and also go back and look into feminism 101 and find the term enthusiatic consent. It is a man responsibility to look for that rather then assume lukewarm rebuffs mean he is about to get some pussy.

    I’m not really interested in any victim blaming bullshit about how I deserved a creepy stalker because I was trying to be nice to someone I thought was my friend, and made it clear I only wanted to be friends with, and didn’t scream “I DON’T WANT TO FUCK YOU!” at him.

  191. Brilliant post. Also: OH MY GOD. I think… um… I think the Phantom of the Opera was a nice guy? Fuuuuuuck. I had that damn musical memorized when I was a kid. I mean, seriously, I was in the Michael Crawford International Fan Association at age thirteen. When we went on a family trip to London my very indulgently longsuffering parents included a stop at the London chapter’s summer lunch. No, Michael Crawford wasn’t THERE, but I did get to hang out with some kinda cool middle-aged women. This would have been in like 1990.

    As far as my own experience with Nice Guys, well there’s plenty, but one that comes to mind is that I once got asked out once on a Friday, for Saturday. I said (honestly) that I’d otherwise love to but I had a lot of stuff to do at home that I’d put off for a while and I had set aside time on Saturday to do. One of them was cleaning my room. Dude got SO PISSED OFF that I was ditching him for my room. Unfortunately I was bereft of clue at the time, and figured that this was EXACTLY why books like The Rules (“Never accept a date for Saturday after Wednesday”) were such a good idea. God. Snarky’s, I wish my preteen, teenage, and twenties selves could read this.

  192. “So I can’t really blame them, in hindsight, for not getting the hint, because I shouldn’t have been giving hints. I should have just come out and been direct.”

    Eh, Lori, jonestly, I think it was your prerogative to spare yourself the hassle of a big confrontational blowup if that’s what seemed best at the time. Likewise it would have been your prerogative to say “NO, NOT INTERESTED. PLEASE LEAVE NOW.”

    I mean, I did a lot of mincing of words and letting-people-down-gently-to-the-point-of-leading-them-on-almost when I was in high school and had attracted hangers-on, but I guess the only thing that I regret about that now, was not knowing that my options were wider than that, that other responses were available and might have worked.

    I mean, I was having a hard enough time exercising self-care, at 16. I had my own crushing inner darkness to protect myself from; I didn’t have the resources to hold some insecure teenage boy’s hand and say “There, there… You have no idea who you are, but it will be okay, and you’ll find love, maybe.” That’s his job.

  193. I’m not really interested in any victim blaming bullshit about how I deserved a creepy stalker because I was trying to be nice to someone I thought was my friend, and made it clear I only wanted to be friends with, and didn’t scream “I DON’T WANT TO FUCK YOU!” at him.

    Agreed, particularly given that simply breathing can cause a woman to become the object of a stalker’s affections.

  194. I mean, I did a lot of mincing of words and letting-people-down-gently-to-the-point-of-leading-them-on-almost when I was in high school and had attracted hangers-on, but I guess the only thing that I regret about that now, was not knowing that my options were wider than that, that other responses were available and might have worked.

    It’s so awful how women are supposed to be responsible for ensuring that other sentient beings don’t stalk, harass or nice guy them.

  195. Serial commenting, sorry, but the upthread conversation got me thinking about something and then a quick Google search didn’t yield anything for me. Anyone know of people explicitly likening Nice Guys to Nice Allies? (under the common heading of “People Who Say, ‘But I’ve done X, Y, and Z thing to win you OVER. Dispense approval now, please!’”)

    I’m sure someone has, but as I say, my google skills are deficient.

    Okay, I’m off to go have a hunky cute doctor look at my toe.

  196. diane:

    “If a guy likes theatre–I’m pretty sure he can find someone to go out on a date to see a play with.”

    Going to the theatre with somebody is a date? I never knew dating was that easy.

    Well I assume you didn’t mean it that way, but that sounds to me a bit like the idea that a women agreeing to go on a joint social activity with a man automatically indicates a romantic interest from her in him.
    (and from him in her, otherwise he’d asked his male friends.)

    Well, I don’t believe in that.
    So it might well be that Mr. [nN]ice Guy goes to see quite a few theatre plays with his female friends, but still has difficulties with dating.

  197. A Sarah, what a great point.

    My name for people like that has been “cookie monsters” because their interactions seem to consist of saying things they think will cause people to give them a cookie. I admit to having been one myself on occasion, although I hope I no longer spout as much privileged piccalilli* anymore. Anyways, I’m not sure where I picked it up, but Nice Allies is even better…and doesn’t require associating these douche nozzles with a harmless blue puppet guy from a kids’ show.

    *(an homage to Snarky’s Machine and “chow chow.” I just find the word “piccalilli” funny, and am trying not to curse as much so it’s been very helpful.)

  198. “So I’m probably going to err on the side of cutting people a lot of slack for wallowing in a bit of self-pity if they can’t find a partner when they really want to.”

    Lori, I’m not sure that anyone would argue that it’s not okay to feel sad and lonely sometimes. It’s okay to feel sad after a breakup; it’s okay to feel sad after being turned down for a date; it’s okay to feel sad if you see lots of couples and have no romantic prospects yourself (and want one). I’m sure almost every commenter here has had a broken heart at one point or another.

    What is not okay is to act like someone you’re interested in owes it to you to be interested back. Or to act as though the universe owes you your fantasy partner. Nice Guy behaviors are rooted in that sense of entitlement, and that’s the real problem. It’s fine to want to be in a relationship, but you can’t act like anyone owes you one.

  199. What is not okay is to act like someone you’re interested in owes it to you to be interested back. Or to act as though the universe owes you your fantasy partner. Nice Guy behaviors are rooted in that sense of entitlement, and that’s the real problem. It’s fine to want to be in a relationship, but you can’t act like anyone owes you one.

    Agreed. Nobody is owed a relationship, that’s why we have to make sure we’re decent enough folks so others will want to date us, if that’s our goal – and since that’s the focus of this post, we’ll assume it is. It is really interesting to see folks wanting to engage in semantics as though making the language as polished as possible is somehow going to distract from the behaviors, which are in fact at the root of the problem.

    standards, expectations, shit I’m entitled to have or whatever… if your list or world views don’t result in bringing forth that which you actively desire – again, not talking to people who want to be single or who identify as asexual or any of that – you can either refine your standards/expectations/shits I deserved based on what I believe I’m entitled to or you can be single.

    Playing the hand you’re dealt is really your best and only option, though folks who have unchecked entitlement stuff really can’t wrap their head around the concept nobody owes them shit. It’s pretty hilarious actually, watching folks make up all kinds of reasons, excuses as to why they are single – when they clearly desire companionship – yet none of them ever seem to suggest a fair % of the problems lie with them.

    And this might make me unpopular, but if a person seriously believes the reason they are single is 100% due to other people’s shit, then well, I guess it’s probably best they be single. (obv there are instances where this would not apply, but for the most part that’s not what’s being discussed here. I can’t believe I have to actually INCLUDE this, but given that privileged folks have real hard time giving marginalized folks the benefit of the doubt, my normally direct manner of communication must be littered with freaking chow chow.)

  200. So much great stuff here.

    I am in a relationship in which many people tell me “I can do better” and sometimes I wonder if they are right.

    Much to think about.

    Thank you all.

  201. mcm – Are you happy in the relationship? Are you being treated well and does your partner feel well-treated by you? Is treating your partner well something that feels easy and fun or is it a chore? Is treating you well something your partner finds easy and fun or is it a chore?

    Do your ideas of what a relationship should be and your roles in it mesh?

    IOW, don’t take other peoples’ words for it: evaluate your relationship for yourself.

  202. @liz I have been trying to evaluate the relationship myself for a year and have not been able to come to any conclusions. It is a bit of an odd relationship and he is a bit of an odd duck. Did you ever see the movie Real Genius? Well, he is like the guy that lives in the closet.

    The relationship meets many of my needs. Mostly the ones that include coming and going as I please, someone to laugh with, as much alone time as I want, no pressure to cook/ clean, someone smart enough to teach me things when we talk “important stuff”, a companion for game playing…

    The needs it does not meet include a companion for social situations (he refuses to get dressed up for weddings and such and can often be completely inappropriate when faced with meeting new people), family approval (my only sister calls him creepy), and sex (which I think may be a medical issue on his part though he refuses to discuss it)

    So, it is all about what is important to me and I just don’t know if the “needs that are not met” are enough to overcome those that are along with the fact that I love him.

    Anyway, this thread has had a lot of food for thought.

  203. I find it interesting that Nice Guys in pop culture are almost always sympathetic, and that women who act like Nice Guys are almost never sympathetic. Consider the obsessive ex girlfriend, the woman in love with a guy who’s utterly not interested, the bitter spinster who’s through with men, the ring-hungry harpy. They’re like stock baddies and losers, and those issues are their fault, while the dude’s issues are the ladies fault too.

    It’s strange, because it seems like Nice Guys who feel entitled to a relationship or an invitation to the pants party, and get all pissy when confronted with reality, are more common in the real world than women who act like that.

    (I may just have forgotten or missed out on large swaths of pop culture though. Inglourious Basterds exposed a Nice Guy for the pit of entitlement he really is, for instance.)

  204. mcm wrote in part:

    The needs it does not meet include a companion for social situations (he refuses to get dressed up for weddings and such and can often be completely inappropriate when faced with meeting new people), family approval (my only sister calls him creepy), and sex (which I think may be a medical issue on his part though he refuses to discuss it)

    ZOMG that sounds like Long Distance Guy minus the family part, and one of my exes where the sex was actually pretty good but absolutely could NOT take him anywhere because he REFUSED to make himself presentable. Both men in this case (GoodSexEx and Long Disance Guy) were fun geeks to hang out with, build shit with, and go get drunk with, but there were gaping holes there.

    Then, of course, I’m the wicked one for suddenly feeling a rush of attraction when I go out to some event that interests me (but which my NiceGuy would be totally out of place at/be fidgety like a 2-year old/refuse to go to) and meet someone who is Properly Groomed, Appropriately Dressed, and has an air of…I dunno, sexual ZING to them.

    I don’t know if I will EVER find someone “ideal.” I know that in the long run, I would want someone whom I could take places but still have my own downtime when needed. I’m far from perfect myself. However, it seems like every guy out there thinks he’s entitled to Astronaut Billionaire Supermodel Barbie, and I’m a psycho for wanting someone who shares my interests, is good in bed, AND actually knows not to leave the house for a fancy dinner dressed in a velour shirt with toothpaste stuck to it.

  205. “A 2008 study at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces examined how college students perceived “dark” traits such as thrill-seeking behavior, deceitfulness and narcissism. The study found the female students preferred the males with these traits.”

    Because most college students have such maturity in what they look for in a mate.

    Good god.

  206. “And this might make me unpopular, but if a person seriously believes the reason they are single is 100% due to other people’s shit, then well, I guess it’s probably best they be single.”

    Maybe Snarky’s, but I think it also makes you right.

  207. About not having same-sex friends: To me, it depends on why. Certainly if I heard somebody say it was because all women are shallow and catty/all men are pit-scratching troglodytes, that would be a turnoff, because I think anyone who makes sweeping generalizations is an asshole. (ducks)

    But if the person is autism spectrum, I can see how it could easily happen, without conscious intent. Not only don’t most of us know the secret NT handshake (which seems to change every week), but in many ways, our lives don’t resemble those of our NT peers in crucial ways that cause them not to trust us. It’s my experience that most people (not all, but most) when it comes to close meatspace friends, don’t choose people all that different from themselves. (And yes, I’m well aware that fat-acceptance people, being already ahead of our time, are more likely to be exceptions.) A little different is fine, but most people will gravitate to similar age range, educational level, socioeconomic status (which is different from actual income level), presence or absence of children or religion in their lives, presence or absence of drugs or alcohol in their lives, dietary choices, language choices, aesthetics, sartorial choices, and probably a bunch of other things I’m forgetting at the moment. They might not spit in your face if you’re not enough like them, but you won’t be on the short list for dinner, either.

    A lot of NTs have as many “dealbreakers” for same-sex friendship as they do for those they pair-bond with — “I could never be friends with anyone who hasn’t dropped acid/doesn’t have a current passport/hasn’t read the classics/wears Crocs/watches baseball/doesn’t watch baseball/is over 30 and a virgin” — etc., etc., and very frequently, we’re supposed to know all this without being told. Autistic people tend to have been rejected a lot socially, and some people respond to all that rejection by just giving up. I certainly don’t blame anyone for responding that way, even if I’m a stubborn bish and I won’t.

  208. Dang, Meowser, I always learn so much about being NT when you describe how we seem to you. I don’t know if it’s tremendously exhausting to have to keep teaching NTs about ourselves, but I could imagine it could be, so I just thought I’d say thanks.

  209. lot of NTs have as many “dealbreakers” for same-sex friendship as they do for those they pair-bond with …

    So true, Meowser. So true.

  210. A little different is fine, but most people will gravitate to similar age range, educational level, socioeconomic status (which is different from actual income level), presence or absence of children or religion in their lives, presence or absence of drugs or alcohol in their lives, dietary choices, language choices, aesthetics, sartorial choices, and probably a bunch of other things I’m forgetting at the moment. They might not spit in your face if you’re not enough like them, but you won’t be on the short list for dinner, either.

    Meowser, I’m not sure if your post is directed to me, but since I was the one who initially presented my feelings on folks with an inability to form friends with those of similar gender identity, I feel compelled to address this point.

    I definitely stand by what I say, and while I feel it goes without saying, I wasn’t speaking about those with any sort of disability, but otherwise able bodied folks who can’t get along with those who share their gender identity for reasons that usually have do with some pretty problematic assumptions about gender.

  211. oops, I forgot to say, “You rawk, Meowser!” cause you do. You definitely painted a pic of NTs that rings true as one and with a compassion and patience that definitely speaks to your general awesomeness.

  212. “I disagree. Most folks on dating sites have some real problems with the concept that NO RESPONSE is in fact a response, just not the one they hoped for. Moreover, even if a dude is genuinely a nice person, if I’m not attracted there is really no point in responding even with a “Thanks, but no thanks.” message, be it in real life or online.

    That’s the problem I have with the messaging around mating – the assumption effort alone is worthy of attention, which removes agency from the recipient of the attention in a way I find problematic.”

    I agree that no response to a person’s IM is a response in itself, and that the IM-er is not deserving of my attention simply for sending me the IM. My point was I don’t view any guy who IM’s me as a nice guy. I don’t IM because my intent in using dating websites is not to make a quick connection and find a quick hook-up. Therefore, the kind of guy I want to date doesn’t send IMs either. Using that reasoning, a nice guy doesn’t send me IMs. Whether I choose to respond to the IM or not, it still does not change my opinion of the guy. If he’s sending me an IM, he’s a player and not the kind of guy I want to date.

  213. Valerian: I’m sorry, I did not think of autism specifically, but I did place a caveat for other medical reasons + general catch-all phrase.

    I’d also like to clarify by moving the line a bit from where you are thinking it is, I was not referring to anyone who has trouble performing social skills, but is aware of there existence and thinks their lives would improve if they knew more, those people, NT or not, are great, self-aware people. I’m talking about people who act like assholes but can’t understand why people are always so rude to THEM. They don’t even see that there IS anything to learn; those people generally suck. Hope that’s clearer. :)

    Mike S: 2nd point first, yes, sometimes people develop intense crushes on other people, and those emotions have a great deal of value. But it is possible to carry those feelings past the point where they are useful, past the point where those feelings of love feels good and too the point where they are healthy. I’ve had my heart broken, being older than 12, I understand that kind of love is hard to let go. But if a person’s actions are being decided by how much they love and miss their last crush, they are not ready to date.

    Ok, video games. I love extending a metaphor :). Imagine is someone DID play a video game one time and get so upset by their failure that they threw down the controller and vowed, “Never to play stupid video games again.” And when people started talking about how they liked video games, they were like, “Video games are stupid, and everyone who likes video games is stupid.” And sometimes when he thinks the idea that video games might be fun and rewarding come through, they are already primed to fail which will reinforce their hatred of video games. I think that is exactly like some people’s views of dating. And every degree of that between your metaphor and mine, as well, because people are extremely varied.

    Jenonymous:

    If it helps, I always thought the closet guy in Real Genius was incredibly endearing, and if your guy has endearing qualities as well I can see why he could be attractive. :)

  214. Thanks, Snarky’s. I figured that’s what you meant, but I just thought I’d throw in an alternative POV, especially since multiple people in this thread (and yes, I read it all!) have brought it up. And I did really love your take on Nice Guys (TM). I’ve known a few of those, although I actually tended more to be the one the Nice Guys complained to that the New Hawtness Chix they craved didn’t crave them back, not the one who was on the receiving end of the craving. Sounds like I didn’t miss much.

    A Sarah, I look at it this way. I was diagnosed only 2-1/2 years ago; that means I spent the first 44 years of my life assuming I was NT (as if I even knew what that meant!), and that I just sucked out loud at it. Therefore, as things stand now, I’m not going to seethe with resentment over people “not getting it,” because it wasn’t so long ago that I didn’t understand any of this stuff either. (Ask me again in 10 years if I still feel that way, though. :-P)

  215. @Meowser:

    I love your post above regarding NT. Thank you for writing it and giving an alternate perspective.

  216. Meowser: Thanks for writing up how you see NT’s. I feel a lot the same, but I’m not so good at the whole “concise expression” thing… I tend to either ramble or not talk at all.

    I miss most of the social cues that everyone else takes for granted. When I say I have no idea what that person thought of me, I’m not being cute, I’m serious. People are forever getting angry at me and refusing to tell me why, saying that I should know. I don’t know. I didn’t do it on purpose. How can I stop doing it if you won’t tell me what I did?

    It’s very frustrating. Oddly, I don’t have any problems getting dates.

  217. I’m going to hop on the “Meowser rocks” bandwagon. As a parent of a child who has been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder you paint a picture for me that not only says what I want to for him, but also you teach me different ways to look at what is going on in my son’s world.

    So, keep on rockin’, you’re doing a great job!

  218. I think one way to avoid any ableism with the friends thing is to look at how many friends they have overall. I could be wrong, so feel free to smack me down, but if not being NT is the problem there would probably be fewer friends rather than just less variety. The thing that would set off warning bells with me would be someone who has a huge amount of female friends showing that they have “social skillz” but no male friends meaning that there’s something rotten in denmark.

  219. I could be totally wrong about the above. I might be universalizing my experience as a decidedly unsocial person. Maybe having few friends is an even bigger red flag, though I hope having interests makes up for that somewhat. I dunno, maybe something I should work on?

  220. @Meowser, I really appreciate your perspective.

    I don’t want to be a Jensplainer, but all kinds of things can be red flags in dating that don’t add up to a undateable person. And I agree with you that we NTs have many dealbreakers for friendship as well.

    No same sex friendships? Red flag.
    Very few or no friendships? Red flag.
    Same age as me, still lives at home? Red flag.
    Same age as me (36), has never had a relationship before? Red flag.

    In the case of a person I’m not clicking with anyway (no physical attraction, conversation doesn’t flow, etc.) the red flags can easily become dealbreakers. The red flags become the story, when really the story is “Unattractive, couldn’t keep up.” But it’s easier to point to smaller reasons. “Doesn’t have a TV – mentions this FREQUENTLY.” “100 of 100 Facebook friends are women – where are all the men?”

    In the case of a person I’m really liking, a red flag is something I take note of and file away. I’m going to hold onto some reservations until I know more about that.

    Someone who still lives at home at 36 could be a manchild who can’t support himself, or could have moved home to take care of an ailing parent or to save money while going back to school or starting a business. Someone who has very few friends could be somewhere on the autism spectrum or new to the area or just a discerning person who really digs solitude. If I like the person and am having a good time on the actual time spent together, this kind of information can unfold naturally and I’ll evaluate it through the rosy filter of attraction.

    A few years ago, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to date anyone who wasn’t as cool as my friends. The time spent on the date had to actively be as fun as time spent with my good friends. The person had to make me feel as good as my friends make me feel. Following that standard has never brought me in a bad direction.

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