Having just read a great post on the subject from Crommunist, I have decided to discuss my own background as a Nice Guy, and how I saw through my own foolishness to become and actual nice guy. Like any of the myriad changes to how I perceive the world that I’ve had to make, it wasn’t easy. I didn’t “get” that my world view was wrong instinctively, and I had to come to grips with that. But first, lemme paint a picture.
Now let me make something perfectly clear; there are women that totally want this, just as there are women who want overweight men who do nothing but smoke weed and spend all day playing Zelda. To say that all women want x is as rich with folly as any other stereotype. Still, it’s what I saw. Everywhere I went, it seemed, I would meet a wonderful girl who had a boyfriend who I thought of as a jerk.
Of course, it never occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t a question of their jerkiness so much as my jealousy. When you are busy covetting your neighbor’s wife, when other people have what you want, jealousy is a natural and human reaction. Sure, there were times when the guy was legitimately a jerk, but how often was I leaping to that conclusion based on the typical less-than-perfect interactions of the men and women I knew? It’s not like every guy I knew who was dating a girl was the stereotypical motorcycle-driving bad boy who got drunk and punchy. Most of these interactions were the regular back and forth of any relationship, but my own jealousy made it into something it wasn’t.
It’s just confirmation bias mixed with a rather embarassing case of egomania. All the girls I knew who were dating guys who really were great didn’t figure into the equation. When my male friends who I genuinely knew to be good people had girlfriends, it didn’t count. But some girl likes some guy who I think treats her bad? OMG WOMEN ONLY WANTZ BADMANZ
But then I got into a relationship and wound up getting married young. It wasn’t a worry for me anymore. Yay! For many years, I was simply not bothered with this whole flawed belief from a personal perspective, but I certainly noticed that friends of mine were single who “shouldn’t be” because they were a lot like me, and obviously, that made them incredible catches and they were clearly owed some sort of wonderful love story. Y’know, looking back on it, it’s really quite troubling to see how I was thinking about things.
Here I am, a guy who doesn’t buy into notions like karma and predestination and the loving hand of a kindly creator, but I still was clinging onto this notion that people deserved happiness, or that people shouldn’t be single because they didn’t deserve it. I hate it when you look back on your thoughts and realize how stupid you can be…
But (to get back to the point) then one day I wasn’t married anymore. I brushed myself off, licked my wounds, and returned to the pool from whence I came. I was a wiser, more confident version of myself. I had done stand up comedy, played in bands, shook hands with CIOs of major corporations, and generally been someone really special. What woman wouldn’t want me?
Well, lots of them, actually. I had so little luck with dating at first, and I mostly (and I think rightly) chalked this up to being way out of the loop. I wasn’t exactly a pro when I removed myself from the pool at age 19-and-funny-looking, and I’d spent 14 years totally removed from the experience. I persevered, learned important lessons, and got better at it.
But women were still the same, or so I would have myself believe. I met some wonderful women who didn’t see me “in that way”, and obviously it was because they were secretly looking for jerks. It couldn’t possibly have been that I was a divorced father of four. It couldn’t possibly have been because I ain’t exactly handsome. It couldn’t possibly have been that my incessant need to make jokes was grating. It couldn’t possibly be that I just wasn’t their type. Nope, those thoughts never crossed my mind.
A friend of mine loaned me one of the “The Game” books, and it was a major breakthrough for me. Oh, not in terms of using the sick philosophies within to make women feel bad enough about themselves that they would date me, that would be disgusting. But it made me think seriously about the kind of person I wanted to be. I wasn’t a nice guy because I thought that’s what women wanted, I was a nice guy because I’m a nice guy. I like people. I could never be the kind of jerk outlined in that book, and I wouldn’t want to pretend just to meet women. I still had that feeling like nice guys wouldn’t get the girl, but that book made me feel better about the fact. I don’t define myself by whether or not women want me, I define myself by who I am.
Around that time, I read an article by a woman who was frustrated at a friend who was pulling the “you don’t like me because girls heart jerks” card. It wasn’t a great article full of cunning counterpoints, but it was enough to make me question that stereotype I’d been holding. And believe me, I didn’t like the answer to my question.
For the first time, I really got that I was the problem. These women didn’t like me, but it had nothing to do with them being defective and everything to do with me. And instead of accepting that, I had spent years blaming them for simple incompatibility.
My success with dating didn’t change when I made this discovery. I was the same. I was good with that. What changed, though, was that I was able to kill off that negativity. It wasn’t like I was spending days on end lamenting over each girl that wouldn’t give me the time of day, it was more just a defeatist attitude that I finally let go of. I kept on being a nice guy because that’s who I am, I just stopped maintaining this very wrong notion of what that meant in my mind.
Today, I have The Lovely Lady in my life. She’s wonderful. But I didn’t “earn” her by being a nice guy any more than I could have negged her into loving me. She loves who I am, just as I love who she is. Warts and all, as they say. Not that she has warts. It’s just a saying. It took me a long time to find someone who was right for me because frankly I’m kind of a weird guy. I’m nearly 40 and I still play in a punk band. I’m poor. I smoke. I think performing stand up comedy is way more fun than watching Lost. I listen (on purpose, even) to jazz and classical music. I book shows. I have emcee’d everything from weddings to funerals to awards shows. I’m a weird guy. Not every girl is going to like me, and not every girl who likes me is going to take a chance on me.
But thank Pesci that The Lovely Lady did. It took me a long while to find her, but she’s so worth it.