In the wake of the NiceGuysOfOKC tumblr (currently down), the discussion about Nice Guys has flared up again. The Nice Guy is a category of human which can be–and often is–entirely mutually exclusive from “guy who is nice”: Nice Guys are men who consider their lack of dating success to be down to the fact that they’re “too nice”, often bemoaning the fact that they end up in the dreaded “friendzone”, wherein women want to be their friend but nothing more.
Every so often, the world will get together and argue about Nice Guys, with one side seeing Nice Guys as figures of pity, victims of shyness, while the other finds Nice Guys creepy as hell. The lovely @RopesToInfinity–an actual guy who is nice–wrote an excellent piece on the matter, addressing Nice Guys, and there’s a few points of his I’d like to expand upon some more, though you should really read the whole thing:
5) The Friendzone Is Not Really An Actual Thing
If a woman is just your friend and not someone you’re having sex with, that is what we in certain circles call a ‘friend’. Yes, what you have there is a friendship, one between you, a man, and a second person, a woman. This can sometimes happen. The chances are she’s not ‘put’ you there because women get off on torturing men, but because she simply wants to just be friends with you, like you might be with a dude. Sex is not the default interaction between men and women. Sex is a thing that happens between two (or more!) people that express a sexual interest in one another and then gratify it by mutual consent. It’s not something you’re supposed to expect, but which women then cruelly decide to deny you from their lofty position as the gatekeepers of the sexual realm. Friendships with women that feature no sex can be rewarding. Try viewing said woman as a person rather than a target for your dick, and see what happens.
6) You May Not Actually Be That Nice After All
Look, are you REALLY that nice? You’re complaining about women refusing to sleep with you, but you haven’t told them how you feel. Is that nice? You’re friends with a woman, but whenever you do something for her you note it down mentally as yet another thing you’ve done which inexplicably went unrewarded with blowjobs, as if it should have been. Is that nice? Think long and hard about your expectations of women, and whether they’re reasonable. And consider whether you’re maybe acting with an unearned sense of entitlement. Be aware that what you think of as ‘nice’ (reluctantly listening to a woman’s problems while wishing she’d shut the fuck up already and touch your penis), may not be what she defines ‘nice’ to mean. Perhaps she thinks of a ‘nice guy’ as someone who likes her with no ulterior motive and who isn’t concealing his true feelings for whatever reason.
These two points get to the crux of precisely what is creepy about the Nice Guy: male sexual entitlement. The complaints, bitterness, resentment about the friendzone all boil down to the fact that the Nice Guy believes that, having completed all of the appropriate rituals, he is owed sex and didn’t get it.
We’ve got to the point now where most of us have no sympathy for the man who believes he is entitled to sex because a woman wore a short skirt, yet seem to be lagging behind on men who believe they are entitled to sex because they’ve been really, really fucking nice. There might be a difference in consequences on the latter: rather than raping, he’s more likely to just write long screeds about how females want douchebags and he’s sick of those bitches wasting his time. However, there is the same root cause here, and it’s not something we should be tolerating or indulging.
Being nice isn’t the cheat code to a woman’s knickers, and it’s not OK to be resentful about this fact. Nobody is entitled to sex. Absolutely nobody. If you are a genuinely decent human being, you need to be prepared to hear the word “no”. And you need to be prepared to deal with that “no”, and accept that. If hearing a “no” is soul-crushing, or enraging, or likely to cause resentment, then you really need to work on your own issues before attempting to connect with other human beings in a non-coercive capacity. Rejections happen, and they’re a product of the other person expressing their autonomy. It’s nice not to resent another human’s articulation of non-consent.
However, there is more than just individual responsibility to these Nice Guys: society shares its fair bit of blame. The straight dating scene is mired in icky gender politics and is so patriarchal it hurts. With these patriarchal expectations in place, male sexual entitlement is ever-present, and so of course the Nice Guys have internalised this, too.
Furthermore, the straight dating scene denigrates the importance of friendship, demoting it to “just friends”. In fact, friendship is awesome: you get to hang out with cool people who you like and do interesting and amazing things even if you’re not having sex. Friendship is a deep, emotional connection, and it is a beautiful thing in and of itself.
Once upon a time, when I was a dorky 17-year-old with all sorts of queer thoughts which I didn’t yet understand, I developed a galloping crush on my BFF. She was hetero. I went all Nice Guy on her arse, having been socialised among straights and believing queer sexuality worked pretty much the same way as it does for straights. I was creepy as hell at the time, and I’m kind of ashamed at how I behaved at that time.
Now I’m a dorky 27-year-old, and I got over it. I am still very good friends with the lady in question, which I’m relieved about due to the aforementioned being creepy as hell. And you know what? Being friends is really, really awesome, because I get to hang out with that cool person and do interesting and amazing things, even though we’re not having sex.
Someone wanting to be your friend is not an insult, unless you feel entitled to sex. It should be a fucking honour.
How do we solve a problem like the Nice Guy? We must acknowledge context, but also that this behaviour is not OK. And if you are a Nice Guy, why not do the nice thing, and try to be better?