Dear "Nice Guy",
Hi! Yes, I see you there. You've made a point of being around me, and like lots of nice guys I've known through the years, you're interested in being more than just the nice guy who's hanging around me.
Maybe you've watched me dating guys who are, in your opinion, vastly inferior in what they can offer me compared to you. Maybe I've been dumped, heartbroken, even possibly abused by guys like that, and there you are, so nice, so perfect for me if I'd only open my eyes and see it, waiting in the wings for me to notice you.
And I never have. Or I never did.
And you are pissed about it. Maybe even years later, you still get pissed thinking about it. I'm here to tell you now: You have a perfect right to feel that way.
Here are the qualifiers, and they must both be present:
- You told me—verbally and clearly—exactly how you felt, andasked meif I returned your feelings in the same way.
- I told you that yes, I wholeheartedly returned your feelings, wanted a romantic and sexual relationship with you, started that relationship with you and then dumped you in the dirt or used you as my fallback guy between other romantic pursuits.
If both those things have happened, then instead of being pissed, you should be grateful that you are well rid of me, because you probably are a very nice guy and (had I done any of that) am truly a manipulative bitch. The problem is, though, most of the time, that's not how it happens. Most of the time, you're the guy who's hanging around because he's hoping I'll like him back, and then we'll have sex.
Image: Thomas Hawk via Flickr
You're the guy who does nice things for me—not because you're a nice person who enjoys doing nice things for others, but because if you're nice to me, I'll eventually have sex with you. Maybe I'll even end up being your girlfriend, and we can have sex regularly. You're the guy who sits there simmering as I date a guy you term to be "bad" for me, and you're the one who blames me when things don't work out with that guy—since I could have had you instead, even though you've never outright asked me if I want to be more than friends with you. You tell everyone I've "friendzoned" you, when the truth is that you friendzoned yourself by not asking.
You're the guy who lavishes me with attention, then gripes about how I love all this attention, but won't give you what you want in return. Who doesn't love attention? Who doesn't love to feel important, in the spotlight, worthy? How am I taking advantage of you when you're the one who decided to throw it all my way? And what you may deem "special attention that deserves special acknowledgement," I may be logging as "What a great friend" in my brain.
Or maybe you're the guy who did work up the courage to ask me out, and I told you I didn't feel that way about you, or I wasn't ready for that kind of relationship with you (which is a nicer, ego-saving way of saying we don't feel that way about you, or so we think). But you can never go back to being just my friend even though sex is now off the table.
For every one of you "nice guys" (by the latter definition) out there, there is some nice girl sitting in the background, looking at you and wishing she could be more than your friend. And you don't even know she exists. Maybe she's shy. Or maybe, she's too geeky, too chubby, too flat-chested. Maybe her nose is too big, her teeth too crooked, or her mother makes her wear clothes that are too conservative. Maybe she's perfectly okay by whatever standards you set for attractiveness, but for whatever reason, you've ruled her out. She's watched you date bitch after bitch after bitch, and she's kept her silence, knowing she could be the right one for you if only. If only you'd notice her that way.
But she doesn't call you an asshole for it.
She doesn't think you're a jerk for not having sex with her.
She doesn't assume that because she's been so nice to you, you owe her something.
She's not going to hate all men because you won't put out.
I've dated some jerks in my time. Chosen the wrong guy. It happens. Sometimes you realize pretty quickly and sometimes, it takes a while longer. Not everyone is a good fit. Not everyone is a jerk right away—otherwise, I damn sure wouldn't be dating them. That they're having sex with me when you're not doesn't automatically make them jerks, either. Not to me, anyway.
Am I attracted to "bad boys"? Sometimes. Bad boys are frequently very, very confident, and that's sexy. Bad boys usually know how to talk to a woman and say things that she wants to hear. Bad boys often have a killer sense of humor. And thanks to movies and TV shows, thousands of steamy romance novels and hundreds of panting, dewy-eyed young adult novels, we girls are told over and over again that reformed bad boys are the best possible partners.
We look at that bad boy who makes our blood pump hot in our veins, and we wonder if he has a heart of gold under that charismatic exterior... because we want to find it. We want to help him find it. We want to have that dream of intense, kinetic attraction and deep, soulful connection. Many of us, especially when we're younger and haven't seen so much of life, think we can make that happen, and we learn—eventually —that it only happens if he wants to make it happen. I'd blame it on all that junk the movies are feeding us, but really, we need to own our choices.
What about what the movies and TV are feeding you guys? You want the hot chicks just like we want the bad boys. You think if you work out, if you make the money, if you drive this car or wear those clothes, you'll get a hot chick. And someday, when you're ready to settle down, you'll become the sitcom dad with the beer belly and the receding hairline who's still married (surprise!) to a hot chick after all these years.
Reality, unfortunately, works a little differently. While I'm flattered that I meet your definition of attractive, and I appreciate that you're nice to me, that doesn't entitle you to anything, including my body.
Some people say that men and women can't be "just friends." I think that's true, for some people, but not for all. I've had some great male friends over the years. Some were gay. Some had girlfriends who were friends of mine as well. Some were single when I was single—and yes, if I'd made an offer, it's possible, maybe even probable, that they would have been receptive to it. But I never did, because I didn't want to, and they decided that our friendship wasn't going to go there and found someone else to have sex or a relationship with. Our friendship continued on anyway, because they knew me, and valued me for more than what they hoped I might give them.
They are the true nice guys, and they're out there. Now that I've gotten a few more years of living behind me, those are the guys I look for. The ones who know and value all the women in their lives as a whole package, as a whole person, and not just the sum of the parts they want to visit.
If that describes you, keep on doing what you're doing, and raise your sons to do that, too.
If you're not a guy who can be "just friends," than you're probably not the "nice guy" you think you are.