Dear “Nice Guy,”
I don’t have to use your real name because you already know who you are: you’re the nicest guy in the world! Or at least you’re the nicest guy I know — a guy I heartlessly refuse to give a chance, if you don’t mind me summarizing your very detailed Facebook message about my issues…. Or, to be more clear, your issues with the issues you think I have.
Maybe it’s rude of me to respond to you here in a public forum, but how would a “fool” like me know better? I wanted to write back in a way that wasn’t as formal as an email but still lacked the rude abruptness of a text message. Since you already did the Facebook thing, this was the best I could come up with. But I’m clearly not as nice of a person as you. In fact, some might call me a bit of a sadomasochist for the ways in which I like to disrespect myself for dating “guys who always treat [me] badly” and “don’t pay attention to [me]” while giving guys like you the “cold shoulder.” After all, you were only trying to be nice, right?
But see, that’s the problem right there. If you were only trying to be nice, we wouldn’t be having this pseudo-conversation. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate what I believe “nice” is, and maybe we’re not on the same page. For instance, on first dates with the “losers” I tend to go out with, I watch how they treat the wait staff, along with homeless people and strangers who clearly have no impact on their personal or professional lives. Being a nice person, at least according to a girl like me whose love life is composed of a “series of self-centered dickheads,” is about how people behave when they’re not expecting anything in return for their actions and gestures. Sure, I’ve dated some guys who I thought would have a better handle on — let’s say — monogamy, for instance, but I’ve never gone on a second date with a man who made a waiter feel like dirt or made a mean-spirited remark about a homeless person.
You definitely made a few valid points about how I should expect to be treated in a relationship, and you certainly seemed irritated that I didn’t want to accept your offers to fulfill the needs you think any self-respecting woman should have. I’m the first to admit that I’ve got some shit to work on when it comes to my views on relationships, but a nice boyfriend, at least as far as I’m concerned, isn’t someone who tells me I’m “beautiful every single day” (because some days I have hilarious monster pimples that I’d prefer to be lovingly poked fun at for having) or treats me “like a princess” (because what kind of sick puppy wants to be treated like an inbred descendant of an antiquated elitist dynasty, anyway?).
Despite what you probably think, I’ve thought about the idea of dating a “nice guy” quite a lot and have often wondered if I fall harder for men who seem to have less time for me than I’d like. There’s definitely a small but nevertheless twisted part of me that confuses my egomaniacal need to be loved by someone who doesn’t love me as much back with actual feelings. Maybe I need to put up a bit of a fight for it, and maybe I’m being my own version of a “nice guy” to pricks who seem to be giving me the cold shoulder. Isn’t that just a common human tendency? I think Chuck Klosterman put it best — for both sexes — in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs when he said: “Every relationship is fundamentally a power struggle, and the individual in power is whoever likes the other person less.” If you ask me, the “nice guy” in the dating world isn’t a man who tries to give a woman everything he thinks every female would ever want; it’s just the person who cares more.
Call me cynical, if you will, but I’ll sign off this quasi-letter by saying that I’ve dated a lot of nice guys. Every serious relationship I’ve ever been in has been with a nice guy — men who were kind to the people around them when they had no idea I was even paying attention. Sure, maybe some of them could have paid a little more attention to me at times, but those were issues specific to each of those relationships and not testaments to the overall characters of the men in question. They were all standup fellas, ethically speaking, regardless of their romantic shortcomings. They would never have sent me an angry Facebook message outlining while I’ll “never be happy.”
I don’t like the expression “nice guys finish last” but it is very telling, especially when it comes to the people who tend to use it. Love isn’t a race you can win by bestowing the most amount of compliments on someone, or keeping your shoulder available to lean on. It’s not a video game with a precise set of tasks that win the hero, let’s call him “Nice Guy,” the hand of the princess at the end. Love is confusing, at best, and there are no set rules to guarantee results because every person is different. I just wish “nice guys” understood that more. Maybe then they’d stop treating women like we’re all the same — all fated to be unhappy until we finally accept the love of the “nice guy” who’s been there all along.