Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Nice Guy Paradox

I’ve been male for 39 years now, and in that time I’ve learned a thing or two about other males and how we function. For the good of all I’m writing a three part series about why men generally do what we do. I write “generally” because there are many broad generalizations in what you are about to read; generalizations, anecdotal evidence, conjecture, and my own personal insight as a straight male of color. I hope you find this somewhat useful. 
Neither Russell Crowe nor Ryan Gosling appear in this essay
There is a popular saying that Nice Guys Finish Last, and they usually do. Gen X was taught that if nice guys persevere and are nice enough, we would win in the end. In the minds of the undersexed girl-crazed teenage boy, winning meant getting the girl and living happily ever after. Of all the problematic outcomes of this train wreck of thinking, one of the worst is the Nice Guy/Bad Boy Paradox. The Paradox is that in trying to be a Nice Guy, many men end up becoming a worse person than the Bad Boy. The Nice Guy Lie, that being a nice person will bring you sex, has negatively influenced male behavior for 30 years. It was a lie that I chafed against and caused me no end of cognitive dissonance. Changing yourself to fit what someone else’s idea of the perfect person is puts you on the fast track for emotional implosion, but many men don’t figure that out until it’s too late. If you were a guy for whom attracting women didn’t come easily or naturally (like me) you were always looking for some kind of an edge to make up for whatever your perceived shortcomings were. Over time as our desperation increased jealousy and anger at the more fortunate but seemingly less deserving men of the world increased in kind. We could not understand how seemingly intelligent women could choose unevolved pond scum over Nice Guys like us. Eventually we were filled with directionless rage magnified by society, men and women, telling us that we are single losers because we don’t want to change. Instead of help, society invalidates the negative feelings of men who by society’s standards don’t qualify as men. Guys like me thought that changing into something we weren’t was the only way to succeed, because being ourselves wasn’t getting us anywhere.
I didn’t choose the Nice Guy life, the Nice Guy life chose me, and it rubs me the wrong way to this day. I am not a nice guy. I’m an angry, self-centered, hedonistic, gluttonous, ball of negativity masquerading as a real live boy. I was slapped with the Nice Guy label mostly because I always try to do the right thing, whether I want to or not, and most of the time I don’t want to. I was often called a Nice Guy mostly because I wasn’t a dick to people, and I hated it. I can’t tell you how many times girls told me they weren’t romantically interested in me because I “was too nice.” Nothing is more confusing than telling a teenage boy that being a good person is stopping him from being able to touch a boob. Trust me; no teenage boy is choosing altruism and a life of servitude over touching a boob. It’s not outlandish to think that a Nice Guy shouldn’t have trouble dating but for guys like me that was often the case. I believed that if I became friends with a girl I liked and was the Nice Guy that people said I was eventually she would let me touch her boobs. Simple guy logic. If you glean nothing else from this exercise in apologist narcissism, remember that guy logic is simplistic, almost infantile. Lots of boys saw being a sensitive, caring, and sincere person as a means to an end, not a goal itself. It didn’t matter if you actually were all of those things or if you even believed in them; if you could become (or fake) those traits women had to want you. “I SHOULD be able to get a woman as a Nice Guy” is what we were told and told ourselves. The word “should” has caused more and bloodier violence than any other word in any human language.  If you wanted a girl you had to be the kind of guy you thought she wanted.
The problem every Nice Guy encounters is that at some point the Bad Boy comes along and easily scores the woman you’ve been plotting on for months, sometimes years. Inevitably the target of your affection will Uber over to your swanky apartment in the Friend Zone and tell you all about how Bad Boy screwed her over. After she has soaked your shirt with her tears, you’ll get a hug and stuck with the Uber bill as she goes straight back to Bad Boy. You discover that you overplayed the Nice Guy thing, and now that trait is seemingly all that’s holding you back from getting to second base. The frustrated energy this cycle generates could power Las Vegas for a month.  Being the simple creatures that we are we think “well if that’s what she likes, that’s what I’ll be.” The tragedy is that a lot of times it works! I speculate that there is some horrible lie that woman are told that attracts them to the Bad Boy, but whatever the cause it’s bad for society on general. The only thing worse than a fake bad guy is someone who overshoots Bad and hits  True Evil.
This guy never ended up in the friend zone. Be like this guy.
This is the Nice Guy Paradox; in trying to become a Nice Guy many men become actual bad people. The lying and pretending behavior becomes second nature, and gradually more and more shady behaviors become acceptable in the name of “love.” Guys at this level will see the Bad Boy with the girl they like, and think that they will do anything possible to separate those two because, after all, we know who is best for that girl right? Sometimes, like with me, this frustration and anger turned into depression and self loathing. In other cases men take that anger and frustration out on the target of their affection, with violent results.
The truth is that although the Bad Boy is 9/10 a genuine piece o shit, he is genuine. People like authenticity, even if it’s a negative sort of authentic. People know what they’re getting with a terrible person, and when things inevitably end in tears and lawsuits, no one is really surprised. When dealing with a guy who is an objective piece of shit a woman at least has the option of keeping her guard up, though whether she does or not is varies because human brains hate their human hosts. The guy who is secretly an awful person masquerading as a Nice Guy is seen as an affront, a violation, a fraud. A lot of times these Nice Guys have so lost track of who they really are they feel more and more victimized every time one of their manipulative efforts is ineffective. I know that cycle; the obsession with women and the compulsion to do anything to win her over creates a cycle of frustration, rejection and rage that often bubbles up into emotional or physical violence towards any women available.  Men really are toddlers with guns in many ways. I was out there trying to become the sensitive caring guy that got laid all the time which, shocker, may not even be a thing. Crazy thing is I do possess those traits naturally, but I still felt I had to manufacture a me that women wanted. We do this because we are never really told what women want. I was raised by all women and I still had (and possibly have) no clue how to be in a relationship with one. Men focus so much on how to get women and never talk about how to be with a woman. 
look at this sociopathic piece of shit
John Hughes lied to us. He lied to you, to me, to everyone.  If 80’s pop culture taught me anything, it’s that all women go for the rich/handsome/athletic guy, but what they really yearn for in their heart is the nerdy, awkward sensitive guy.  All we, the awkward, homely/unpopular nerds of the world had to do is try, try hard, and never give up. The Grand Gesture always seemed to work, and the girl-of-our-dreams would immediately leave the guy who by all traditional standards of success was the far superior choice, and fall in love with us forever. When you look back at 80’s pop culture, The Grand Gesture always worked. Think of the movie trope of a Person B leaving Person A’s life because he can’t commit. In the climactic scene, Person A confronts her at the gate to her flight wild eyed and short of breath. He proclaims his undying love for her, and the woman always says “I love you too” and purposely misses her very expensive flight out of town. It’s such a guy way of thinking; if she doesn’t like me the way I am I’LL ROMANCE BIGGER AND HARDER TIL SHE LOVES ME! In reality these actions often frighten women away, and the rejection intensifies. Now I am devaluing her and directing anger at her. Since my behavioral pattern is to take anger on women out on myself, I would get depressed and stress eat or do something else self-destructive.
when Nice Guys snap you get Michael Douglas
Nice guys don't finish last, or first. Like everyone else who has ever lived, all nice guys do is finish. If you finish alone and unloved or surrounded by family is up to you. And further also, when we come across guys who complain about not being able to meet women, the exact wrong answer is to call them losers for not fixing everything about themselves to make themselves more attractive to women. One of the reasons we are all crazy is that society sends us mixed signals. Being gay has always been used as a pejorative for men. Sharing your emotions with other men was “gay.” As such we are strongly encouraged to not share our feelings or ask for help. When men do complain about the difficulty they have with women, they are belittled, especially by those calling themselves feminists. Many times the insults are warranted because of the way men complain about things, but consider this;
I've only had one teacher who every got me, and his name was Nathaniel J. Pallone. He told us a story in class that was relevant here. People who try to eat lobster and crabs use tools to do so. You need tools to crack open the shells to get to the delicious meat inside. If you don't have tools you have to use your fingers and fists, smashing, breaking and tearing the meal apart until you and all your dinner companions are covered in crustacean goo. Lobsters are like emotions; if you have the proper tools., you can deal with them clearly and efficiently. If you don't you're just going to make a big mess. Many men do not have the social and interpersonal tools necessary to deal with the opposite sex and consequently make a big damn mess everywhere they go. And that's what we do. 
One of the most confusing aspects of reality to me is that no one ever believes me when I say that I have INCREDIBLE difficulty attracting and retaining women. It's one of the most traumatic areas of my life, but no one has ever been what I'd call sympathetic to my issues and with few exceptions I've always had to deal with them on my own. It's hard. I'm a pretty modern insightful dude though so therapy has helped in this area. At this point in life it's pretty hard to unlearn all of the mistakes and faulty cognitions, but progress has been made. For many men it's too late to see that the problem isn't everyone else, but sometimes honest listening can do a lot to humanize a Nice Guy. It's a start. This whole clusterfuck of good intentions and shitty strategy has to end somewhere. I think the only way to start is for men to be more transparent and for society in general to stop making us feel shitty for it. Trying to be a nice guy to get sex hurts everyone, and often leads to the unfortunate circumstance of being trapped in the friend zone. Speaking of...