Provocative opinions aired on the clothes line of life.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Nice Guys Finish Somewhere In The Middle

Everyone is familiar with the aphorism, "nice guys finish last". It's become as ubiquitous a concept in the dating game as the concept of dating itself. We all have friends who we consider to be the quintessential decent guy, (in fact I have a few), and we all agree that they shouldn't still be single. Yet, despite their keenness to attract a long-term girlfriend, that's exactly what they are. Which is endlessly frustrating to them, because they're of the opinion, (like everyone else), that single women are desperately yearning for a special man in their lives. I mean, of course they are. Right?

Well...yes. There are of course, varying degrees of desperation, depending on the individual. (I, for instance, am not explicitly looking for a boyfriend, but am not averse to being found - so yes, pretty desperate). But allow me to shine a clarifying beam of truth into the dark recesses of your understanding of women: being a guy with amiable qualities doesn't automatically make you boyfriend material. Women don't want to be treated like your grandmother. They also don't want to feel as though you're only interested in entering into a relationship with them because they meet a basic criterion, i.e they're single, straight and live nearby. They want to feel as though you've chosen them based on individual merit. Complex isn't it?

This isn't to say that amiable qualities can't be endearing. Of course they can. The trouble is words such as nice and amiable harbour both attractive and unattractive qualities. The attractive are that of caring, respectful, committed and virtuous. With the unattractive being boring, lacking in confidence and essentially a door-mat. So, when faced with the prospect of a man who is nice but unsure of himself, and a man who is confident and assertive, yet lacking in any qualities that a loving relationship can be built on, women will choose the latter. Or the bad boy, as he's often referred to.

Yes, confidence really is that attractive a quality to women. Even if it is accompanied by, selfishness, an aversion to fidelity and arrogance. Women don't take pleasure in experiencing any of these qualities, but they often feel it's a small price to pay for the sexy appeal of a man who is self-assured and assertive.

Here's the key: women don't want a man who is too nice. Someone who encompasses a little of both is a far more attractive prospect. We'll call him, Mr. not-so-nice. A man who knows he's a catch and isn't afraid of rejection, but who doesn't objectify a woman and isn't conceited enough to assume she will respond to his advances because it's worked for him before. I'm just as likely to reject the affections of an unassertive nice guy, as I am to ignore the arrogant presumptions of a bad boy.

A popular misconception though, is that women enjoy being treated poorly. I can't stress how vehemently untrue this is. When it comes to affairs of the heart, there's a difference between liking a person's behaviour and tolerating that behaviour. The treat them mean to keep them keen philosophy only works to an extent. It shouldn't be abused to justify hurtful actions. Instead, it should be used as a precursor. You see, women, as with men, enjoy feeling a sense of achievement. Make room for her in your life by all means, but still show her that you actually have one, i.e. commitments and responsibilities. It's important to keep a woman on her toes and not to be constantly available to her.

Because even though, women are more successful, intelligent and independent than ever before, their emotional needs are still the same. They don't need to be protected, or depend on someone else. But they do want a man who can offer these things, which they can then rely on - should they ever need to. 

Over the course of my adult dating life, I've experienced both sides of the equation. I've been both the enabler of bad behaviour and the callous objector - with each being equally unfulfilling. I've tolerated having no contact for weeks, being lied to, being cheated on and being stood up. Not because I took any pleasure in it, but rather I was holding on to the idea, that if I kept tolerating it the person in question would soon grow to reciprocate my infatuation with them. Of course they never did, and eventually I either had enough or was dumped for being so uninteresting to them. Which was a good thing, because it taught me to respect myself and stop pursuing people who weren't prepared to treat me the way I deserved to be treated.

(NB If you're a man reading this, gleefully thinking you've found a loophole and you'll just find a woman who will tolerate your appalling behaviour, because it appears to work for a while - then you might want to consider the fact that by not wanting to make someone happy, you're yet to discover what makes yourself happy. So, I suggest you concentrate on that first, before you attempt to pursue a mature relationship with a woman).

And as a semi-reformed Ice Queen, I've also doled out my fair share of hurtful behaviour. I knew instantly what behaviour I could get away with and what I couldn't. If I ever met a nice guy, sure, I took advantage of their patience and understanding. And like a little puppy who has been spitefully rapped on the nose, after I displayed a hint of remorseful kindness, they were all too willing to come back for more. Because, even though I wasn't interested in them romantically, they were a significant ego boost for when I was feeling lonely, depressed or generally bored. (Usually because I was being kept waiting for a response from a bad boy I was relentlessly hounding at the time).

But, sometimes it doesn't matter what you do - she's just not going to be attracted to you in that way and will exile you to her safe place: the friendship zone. Sure, it might seem as though you're making head way; she refers to you as, "sweetie", sometimes replies to your messages at lightning speed and seeks you out for advice. But, face it, you've got predictable, vulnerable and eager-to-please written all over you. She's never going to regard you as that person who will be strong and take charge of a situation.  Sure, when she pulls that cute expression with those big innocent eyes, you'd swear butter wouldn't melt behind that perfectly formed pout. But she knows she can have you, and therefore doesn't want you. So, stop wasting your time fixated on winning over this girl, because that's exactly what it is: time wasted.

Here are a few helpful hints, which the nice guy should consider the relationship weapons of mass destruction.

She says:
  • You're SUCH a nice guy."
    Translation: I'm never going to have sex with you. Not even out of pity. Maybe if I'm horny or depressed. But probably not even then.
    • "I wish I could find someone who understands me the way you do."
    Translation: I'm looking for a guy who is going to have sex with me and never have anything to do with me ever again.

    • "You're going to make some girl very happy one day."
    Translation: And she's going to be a less attractive un-funny watered down version of me. 

    • "I feel like I can tell you anything."
    Translation: And everything about all the men I'm actually interested in.

    • "I just don't deserve you."
    Translation: I just don't find you physically attractive.

    • "I'm really nothing special." 
     Translation: I really am, I just don't want to be special to you. 

    • "I've reached a time in my life where I want to focus on me and my career."
    Translation: Please stop asking me out on dates, I'm trying to let you down gently here but you're making it damn near impossible.

    And by she said, of course what I really mean is I've said. Yes, it's true. I really have said ALL of those things, at one time or another. 

    But, don't get disheartened. You're a catch. Really, you are. Women do appreciate nice qualities. It's just sometimes, they don't believe it's real unless they're made to work a little for it first.