Nice Guys Again

I am, Feminist Jesus help me, going to commit an analogy that compares dating to economics here. I’m so sorry. I’ll say an Our bell hooks and three Hail Audre Lordes in repentance.

Imagine that you are a sentient curtain at Sears. (This metaphor may have been born of me spending way too much time restocking curtains at my new job at Sears.) All the people that might date you are potential buyers.

If a person wants to buy a purple throw rug, and doesn’t want to buy a curtain, they are not going to buy you. Even if you are a very nice shade of purple. They may agree that you are a lovely shade of purple! They just want other qualities in their throw rug, such as not scrunching up when you step on it. It doesn’t mean that they’re lying about liking purple. (This holds true even if they end up buying a blue throw rug instead. Maybe other traits of the throw rug were more important to them than the color. Or maybe they made a mistake and would actually prefer curtains to the throw rug. Or maybe they are lying and actually hate purple, which brings up the question of why you want to be their curtain then.)

People not wanting to buy you is not a judgment on your excellence as a curtain. It may be you have flaws that keep you from being purchased, such as being full of holes. But there might be other traits of yours that are unpopular but not wrong– maybe your pattern doesn’t match anyone’s color scheme. Your pattern is perfectly beautiful, it’s just that the people shopping for curtains don’t want it. Or maybe you’re hiding in the back of the shelf and people who would really like to buy you don’t know you exist. Or maybe your right buyer is stuck in traffic and hasn’t come along yet. (Of course, none of this means you have to keep searching for a buyer if you don’t want to. It’s perfectly okay to give up if the buyer-search is taking more out of you than you’re getting back, and to be sad that no one wants to buy you despite giving up.)

And the nice thing about buyers is that you really only need one. (Maybe more, if you want to be shared between a couple people or borrowed occasionally, but even then the number of people who can use the same curtain is somewhat limited.) It doesn’t matter if your pattern doesn’t match anyone’s color scheme: if you find the one person who happens to have a room that you’d be perfect for, they can buy you.

Photo credit– je@n/Flickr. A sign that says “SEX in progress.”

About ozyfrantz

Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary. Ozy can be contacted at or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.


  1. Has anyone tried putting a request for accurate rejections into their dating profile? If so, what was the result?

  2. it’s easy for people to attack others as being dishonest about what they want, when a lot of the time, people tell half lies in order to spare others’ feelings. Both men and women do this. If forced to say exactly why they are rejecting someone, most people don’t want to say it’s because they find you unattractive, they can tell you’re desperate, or you don’t seem to be smart enough to keep them interested. Some “truths” are easier to say than others.. if the reason is something like: you don’t follow the same religion as me, or you’re not the gender I’m attracted to, it’s easier to admit that than the above reasons. So then you might say something else that isn’t actually the main reason, to spare their feelings. There are also self-lies: some people aren’t self-reflective enough to realise when they do actually have flaws that are making them single. they aren’t capable of really putting themselves in another’s shoes to see what they’re offering. Again, both genders can be like this.

  3. I was at a lecture the other day, by an alpinist climber who at least in the climbing community is pretty well known all over the world for his abilities and for pushing the limits of human endurance.

    But when asked about fear, and ever being afraid, hanging on a shard of ice all alone and days from any form of rescue, he retorted “My biggest fear is the fear of not being deserved of love.”

  4. There is always the possibility that this is part of a larger break in social institutions. We have Presidents that are almost always elected by razor-thin margins. Nearly half the electorate stays home, because they don’t think (and not without some cause) that the results will impact their life. We have towns that barely have any claim to that title, with no real sense of shared history or community. We have police that few trust (and often, for good reason), and we have families that are flat-out broken. There is no trusted authority in much of anything anymore.

    Back in the day, socials were held for young people to get together while still maintaining a comfort zone – they had friends and family as support to help give men the confidence to approach women (with the assurance that social stigma would prevent those young women from being too harsh in their rejections) and provide women with the room to take a chance on saying yes (without being abused or pushed into something she wasn’t comfortable with). Young people used to be introduced to each-other, and the rules of courtship essentially mandated some level of familiarity before any outward move was made.

    Now, we just throw single people together, give them gallons of alcohol and no other social guidance, and expect that to work out for the best. More often than not, it doesn’t. There has never been a time in history where *most* or even a majority of men would have felt comfortable enough in that kind of situation to both walk up to a woman they didn’t know and project the requisite level of confidence to have a decent shot at success with her.

    To put it another way, there is some chance that ‘nice guyism’ – as described here – is just an attempt on the individual male level to recreate what society used to provide for them: a safe space to pursue while still being allowed to save face if they fail. However, there are to pitfalls to that. First, they lack older, wiser adults to help steer them away from girls that are out of their league (and to keep female expectations realistic; movies and music have everyone thinking that they deserve it all). Second, the few men that do have that level of confidence are no longer pressured to settle down. Whereas once they simply had a wider variety of possible mates to choose from, now they don’t have to choose at all, so they don’t, leaving men to perpetually compete against them for EVERY woman’s affection.

    I don’t think viewing this through the lens of feminism or MRA (PUA, whatever) is appropriate. As should be obvious by now, that prism just leads to more division and hostility. Everyone has legitimate gripes here, even if nobody is willing to acknowledge that fact when it comes to anyone else. Making it about Sneaky Men and Stuck-Up Women isn’t going to help anyone. What we need to do is find a way clear of this mess, not bicker about whose fault it is that we’re in it in the first place. I’m not sure how we do that, but I can’t help but feel that any discussion on the matter would have to be more productive than the current paradigm of standing around and pointing fingers.

  5. I don’t understand why people have avowedly platonic friendships with people they’re romantically interested in. If you want a romantic relationship you’re wasting your time with the avowedly platonic friendship, and if they reject the possibility of a romantic relationship with you then unless you have exceptional toughness and compartmentalizing abilities you probably shouldn’t continue the friendship, just to save yourself the pain.

    • Back on topic, I think Nice Guy resentment really comes from the fact that they eventually realize they’ve been sold a lie their whole life: what their friends, mothers, and society as a whole told them would get them laid actually doesn’t. Resentful Nice Guys either haven’t quite got to this realization yet or are still in the “denial” stage.

      • Haha, yeah. It’s basically coming to the conclusion that everything women have said to us in terms of “how to get women” is a total nonsense lie.

        • OK. Here’s the deal. A list of “Things that can help you out with women-in-general” is just that–a GENERAL list. Women, being individuals, want different things out of relationships, and also generally want additional qualities that they don’t think to tell you off the bat.

          For example, when I have a boyfriend, I like to go out to restaurants or movies with him. Therefore, while I don’t care about his exact income, I need my boyfriend to have a job of some kind, so that I’m not the only person paying all the time. I’m a modern woman, and I certainly don’t mind paying for dates sometimes, but when I’m the only person paying, it gets old.

          Now, if you ask me, “L, what are you looking for in a man?” having a job probably isn’t the first quality I’d name. I’d probably mention honesty, humor, and shared interests if you just randomly asked me. That doesn’t mean that a job isn’t also a qualifying trait. Nor does my failure to think of one of the factors that influences my dating choices make me a liar. If I asked you for a list of all your likes and dislikes, and you left out your favorite casserole but mentioned your favorite TV show, that doesn’t mean that you don’t like casseroles. It just means that you have a long and complex list, and that listing everything on it would take too long.

          And again, some women need their men to be independently wealthy, because they’re looking to bag a rich husband. The kind of woman who has that goal is generally not stupid or heartless enough to out-and-out SAY, “I mostly care about how much money a guy has,” because that makes her look like a shallow bitch. But that doesn’t mean that a homeless guy off the street, or an average working-class guy, would have a chance with that particular woman.

          Some women place a very high value on their religious beliefs, and a prospective husband must share their beliefs. Such women are generally raised in such a manner that it never occurs to her that anyone would ever want to marry or date someone from a different religious tradition. So to her, “I want to marry another member of the XYZ Church” seems so obvious that she doesn’t think it even needs to be said.

          Different people come from different backgrounds and have different expectations. What works for one person won’t work for another. If a particular woman turns you down for whatever reason, then that particular woman was not a good match for you. Find someone else and move on.

          It can also help to look at your personal list of “What I Want In A Significant Other.” Decide which traits are deal-breakers, which ones are nice, but not necessary, and which are absolute musts. Then, try to find a woman who will make YOU happy. Other people may judge you for your choice, but other people don’t have to live with your SO, so unless your SO is doing something horrible and abusive and they’re trying to help you out of that sort of situation, you can safely ignore idiots who mock your tastes.

          • Pretty spot on.
            My gripe is not so much with people omitting important factors in a potential mate’s “profile”, so much as straight out contradicting their own behaviour.
            (i.e. saying that “I don’t like people who say or do X”, while repeatedly hooking up with different people who do nothing much than X. 😉 )

            • *shrugs* Some individuals are very “self-blind.” They don’t bother to examine their behavior or standards in order to improve themselves. I was extremely self-blind as a teenager, and as a result I was miserable. I’m a wee bit better now, but this is the sort of thing one is never perfect at.

              There’s also the possibility that one trait was important enough to override a previous “don’t.” People aren’t always rational in love, after all. 🙂

          • “If a particular woman turns you down for whatever reason, then that particular woman was not a good match for you. Find someone else and move on”
            “…try to find a woman who will make YOU happy.”

            I really think you’re oversimplifying this. It’s not that I don’t agree to an extent but you’re making this sound much easier than it is. I don’t think you understand how difficult for some of us to actually get a date. Sometimes that alone feels like a success. It’s as easy for us as it is for you but with the added burden of having to do the initiating.

    • I agree with you CmE. I have said before that PUA stuff is a mixture of good and bad but I think they are absolutely correct when they counsel men not to get into plantonic relationships with women hoping for something sexual. You only have a limited amount of time in your life and if finding a sexual relationship is a priority, you need to make your romantic/sexual interests known to her right away. If she’s not interested, move on to the next person. Don’t agree to just hang around with a woman and be her friend, make it clear up front that you are going on a date and that you have a romantic/sexual interest. All the hours you are spending being her BFF, you could be using to meet other people.

      • This, so much. There’s a huge difference between “I was friends with her for a long time, then found myself becoming sexually attracted to her,” and “I basically started hanging out with her and acting like her friend so I could get in her pants.”

        • This, so much.
          So why is it that (almost) every time a guy comments on acting according to your first example, but failing to have his awakening romantic/sexual attraction reciprocated, he gets accused of deliberately acting according to your second example?

          (P.S. Rethorical question. I don’t expect you to sit on every answer.)

          • I’d like to know the same. I explained the first example and what did CmE say? That that was an alien (as in different or unexpected) thought process.

            I’m starting to wonder if the first excample (that L mentions) is being ignored in favor of the second as the exaplanation for why guys find themselves in that position.

          • There is a difference between (a) becoming friends with a woman, then after some time of being her friend, trying to make it sexual, and (b) making it clear from the beginning that you are not just hanging out, you are going on a date.

            I can tell you from my own life experience that I have known a lot of men in both category (a) and (b). The men who get the most “action” are the men in category (b). They generally don’t have female “friends.” They don’t pal around with women, they go on dates with women. I’m not saying they take women on expensive or awkward dinner-and-a-movie dates all the time. But they will call, and schedule an activity (Farmer’s Market, the zoo, whatever), and take you there, and then at the end say “I’d like to see you again” and then maybe call a few days later for another activity. When they call, it’s to schedule a date. They don’t get into long chatty conversations with me on the phone (even if, as a typical woman, I want to chat on the phone.) Or I will call a few days later and suggest something. And then if we “click” the relationship quickly progresses to kissing/making out/sex. If we don’t click, he doesn’t call again or I tell him I’m busy and that’s that. (For the younger generation, I assume that texting thing may be involved instead of the phone, but using the phone still has advantages)

            I’ve also known guys who call and say “do you want to hang out, maybe go to a movie?” Then you end up going to a movie with a group of friends, and this goes on for months. It is always casual and ambiguous, and I am never sure if we are on a date or not.

            • @Sarah:
              There is a difference between (a) becoming friends with a woman, then after some time of being her friend, trying to make it sexual, and (b) making it clear from the beginning that you are not just hanging out, you are going on a date.

              Yes it is, I totally agree on that!

              But that is not what the question was about.
              As The_L clearly pointed out in an earlier post, not all people (men or women or anything in between or arbitrary) fall in love at first sight. And I believe it’s pretty difficult to be clear from the beginning about something that you yourself ain’t even aware of yet.

            • I’m not sure if your part A is “I became attracted to her after we’d been friends for a while,” or is a separate, third category. It may very well be one–people are complicated. 😛

          • I’ve seen men do both, and sometimes it can be hard to tell the two cases apart. I do think that a young man who’s been turned down by a friend needs to keep his difference from her (or him, if we’re talking about a gay man) for a while, if only to avoid further emotional turmoil on both their parts.

            There is also a very real human tendency to assume the worst about other people. Some folks find this tendency easier to overcome than others. You’ll notice that quite a lot of religions basically have dozens of rules focused around overcoming this one human tendency–because none of them have quite figured out HOW in a way that works for everyone.

    • I have platonic friendships with people I have been romantically interested in, and I don’t find it difficult at all. The fact is that the qualities that made me want to have a relationship with them also mean they are people I want to spend time with generally. I don’t actually understand people who feel differently as a blanket rule.

  6. wellokaythen says:

    There’s some joke here about whether the carpet matches the curtains, but I can’t quite figure out how to make it work…. : – )

    • It’s the one about them closing the curtains so that the neighbours not being able to see you treated like a door mat. … or is that watching your best friend being treated like a door mat in front of you as you just hang about ! P^)

  7. Boy Oh Boy! – The more I read of how people react as males to furnishings and choices the more I become convinced that this Ozy post is nothing more but a clear manifestation of The Great Agenda.

    The Great Agenda is of course the Great Feminist Plan to control the Universe and to prove that all women and gay man are good at furnishing, and you can’t take a straight guy shopping and end up co-ordinated.

    I also have to say from the point of being an espionage expert and as a Uber Straight Pouf who gets treated as both one of the Boys and one op the Girls – you get Nice Guys and Nice Girls who both get shafted by wolves and bitches. It’s quite fine by me for guys to be pissed off by being treated badly, but I always bear in mind that biology and breeding beat most other issues hands down – and Girls complaining that Guys are all crap get the same sympathy and enlightened treatment.

    So men are bastards and dogs – and women are bitches and snooty indifferent users – Yaddah – Yaddah – Yaddah – and biology imperatives are the biggest bitches of all – and they aint house trained either.

    You will note I have not used the word “All” about the genders, cos all you need is to find one house broken puppy to be happy. Try the pound and forget the pedigrees. Mutts are more interesting, intelligent and even live longer.

  8. In practice, the analogy is more like:

    Curtain: What do consumers want? I can’t seem to get bought!

    Typical consumer: Well, consumers like fabric!

    Curtain: Well…ok. Thought I already was kinda fabricy, but ok, fabric, hearing you loud and clear!

    *time passes*

    Curtain, increasingly frustrated: Ok, what’s the deal here? I asked what consumers liked, I was told ‘fabric’. I’ve really tried to ask for advice and to listen, and I tried to be more fabricy, but I’ve still not been bought? Maybe the customer isn’t always right a-

    Typical consumer: Ermahgerd, you are such an entitled ‘Fabric’ curtain ™! Stop being anti-consumerist!

    • Amen to that.

    • Curtain: So tell me, honestly, why won’t you buy me?

      Consumer: Honestly? You shed these weird polyester fibers that give me hives, and I really like that other curtain better because it’s a pretty shade of purple.

      Curtain: Bitch.

      • But what if a woman HONESTLY can’t say what it is that she wants. I don’t have a preference for race, hair color, level of jerk-itude, college education, wealth, weight, body shape, etc–not even gender. Sometimes it’s there with someone, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes chemistry and a bond develop, sometimes that don’t. Sometimes it’s strong, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes I find that person nice, sometimes I don’t. The only thing I can truly put my finger on is age. Actually, there are some personality traits that I could put my finger on–but they are a matter of compatibility. Other women find them awesome. For example, if I said, “I don’t like you in that way because you go to the gym too much.” I wouldn’t want the guy to stop going to the gym. That’s his thing and a lot of other women find that incredibly attractive.

        • Tell them you don’t feel the spark. For the gym guy you can maybe say you’re not attracted to big strong men but there are plenty who are. No one can fault you for not liking big muscles. This is why kids need to be taught of individuals and not universal beauty.

        • @Aya:
          But what if a woman HONESTLY can’t say what it is that she wants.

          I don’t even think that’s an “IF”… 😉
          I think that most people have it much easier to talk down on things (or people) they don’t like, than to ‘fess up on things/qualities/people they DO like.

          (Which brings us back to the topic of all these articles that are a dime a dozen telling us men what NOT to do to stir an interest in women, compared to the rare useful ones actually telling us what we can *do*!)

        • “For example, if I said, “I don’t like you in that way because you go to the gym too much.” I wouldn’t want the guy to stop going to the gym. That’s his thing and a lot of other women find that incredibly attractive.”

          To me, if that’s actually the reason you’re not attracted to him, that’s what you should say. Honestly, (I think) most men know that women are individuals, and that what works for one woman doesn’t necessarily work for another, and if you’re assuming that he’ll act on your stated opinion as though it were a female universal, then you’re already assuming that he can’t tell the difference between one woman and another – you’re attributing misogyny to him that may not be present.

          If a reasonable guy hears “You go to the gym too much for me to be attracted to you” from one woman, he’ll attribute it to a personal preference on your part. If he hears it from a dozen women though, he’ll start considering that maybe he should stop going to the gym so much. If none of the women he asks ever tell him this though, how is he going to find out that going to the gym for 4 hours a day every day is generally unattractive among those women he finds attractive? Even after he does find this out he still has a choice to make – namely whether or not he wants to reduce his gym time in order to be more attractive – a choice he never would have had if nobody told him these two aspects of his person might be in conflict.

          Obviously it’s up to you what you want to say, if anything, and chances are the effect of your choice in isolation from everything else will be minimal. The problem is, as so often, all else is not equal. The cumulative effect of nobody being honest with a person regarding the reason for their unattractiveness is that the person is condemned to remain unattractive even though, with the right information, they might have been able to change this. (Note: I don’t mean to suggest that “attractiveness” is some objective criterion, but I do believe that for any given person, there are qualities that will be found attractive by a large proportion of those people to whom that initial person is attracted, and this is what I mean by “attractive”. Also, if you can unscramble that sentence you should be studying math or philosophy.)

          • “Feedback” really amounts to advice, and in this case I think the old saying, “wise men don’t need it and fools won’t heed it” applies.

            Reasonable people know why they’re not succeeding socially. They may not like the things they know, but they know. People clamoring for answers are often ignoring answers in their search.

            • Whether or not a person is reasonable is a matter of learning methodology. Wisdom is gained, and virtually always includes advice incorporated from others. Foolishness need not be permanent. You can be a reasonable person and still have bad information and/or blind spots. Most people, reasonable or not, have blind spots when it comes to themselves.
              Also, you can be a reasonable person and have a mental or social disability.

              Yes, feedback does amount to advice, and I’d challenge that old saying by simply asking how the wise man became wise in the first place.

              In the modern world nobody can be well-informed on every topic and certainly not on their own. Nobody begins life wise, so they must have acquired it along the way. Once they were a fool (everyone was) and eventually they either heeded someone’s good advice or discovered for themselves that they were a fool, and began to consider the advice of others regarding topics of which they were previously ignorant.

              Ignoring all advice is foolish regardless of how wise you actually are, as there is no upper limit to wisdom.

              Sometimes you just don’t even consider something until somebody else suggests it.

              Some people do ignore answers in their search. Some don’t. I don’t know the ratios, do you? Either way, are you willing to condemn genuinely baffled people to perpetual ignorance just because other people are willfully so?

              • I qualified my comment with “in this case” for a reason. In this case, meaning challenges men face dating or forming relationships, the answer to the question “what do women want?” is that there is no one answer. The things that are frequently important to women and which are within men’s control, like basic hygiene, fitness, social skills, self sufficiency, and being a decent human being aren’t all that mysterious, are they? If a man lacks any of those qualities, he already knows that obtaining them can’t hurt him socially. If not, he’s beyond simple advice.

                Those things also help you in all aspects of your life, so if someone really thinks that bathing once a week and asking potential dates for handouts is OK, then I guess he does need some guidance. However, having developed beliefs that are so far from the norm usually indicates an issue that requires more intense guidance than advice can provide. Likewise for people who are severely lacking in social skills like reading cues or carrying on a conversation. If they know they face those challenges, telling them won’t help. If they don’t know, simply telling them won’t help either.

                Beyond possibly enjoying a man’s company (basics above) most other things are preferences that vary from woman to woman. I don’t know these ratios, but isn’t it likely that for every woman who doesn’t appreciate your guys time spent in the gym, there might be a woman who has a similar interest in working out, or a woman who sees and likes the results he gets and is willing to live with the cost in terms of time? I suspect there is. Even if his working out severely limits his options, should he really give it up to curry favor with a particular woman?

                While it doesn’t make a man a fool to consider changing fundamental aspects of who he is in order to do better with women, doing so seems foolish to me. Likewise, a man (adult) who doesn’t get the basics of presenting himself is likely beyond mere advice. And regarding more substantive aspects of who he is, if a man is willing to morph into someone else to score with more women or hotter women or one women, I think that’s a shame and I don’t want to participate.

                • There’s a reason I didn’t phrase this as regarding a question of “what women want” and it’s the same reason for my clarification regarding my use of the word “attractive”. While it may well be true that for every woman who thinks a guy isn’t working out enough there’s one who thinks he’s working out too much, that doesn’t necessarily hold amongst the women he’s attracted to. This isn’t about becoming more attractive in some abstract sense to every woman, this is about becoming more attractive to those women whom this particular man finds attractive himself, and there way well be commonalities in what those women find attractive which are more specific than the basics.

                  Let’s take a hypothetical example – a tall, thin man who’s attracted (for whatever reason) to extremely muscular women. He might find the advice for him to work out more to actually be useful, as it might not be something he finds natural, but also isn’t a fundamental shift in his being and so he can undertake it.

                  “However, having developed beliefs that are so far from the norm usually indicates an issue that requires more intense guidance than advice can provide.”

                  Granted. How will he know that it might be a good idea to get that more intense guidance? Oh yeah, it might be suggested by another person.

                  “If they don’t know, simply telling them won’t help either.”

                  Simply telling them is not sufficient to change their behaviour, true. That doesn’t mean that it is useless or meaningless however, as it can be a start along a path that will change their behaviour.

                  “Even if his working out severely limits his options, should he really give it up to curry favor with a particular woman?”

                  That’s his choice, and hers. If he consistently hears from women that he works out too much, then he has to evaluate whether or not he is willing to change. If he never hears it but they’re often thinking it, then he may never be aware of that choice.

                  “While it doesn’t make a man a fool to consider changing fundamental aspects of who he is in order to do better with women, doing so seems foolish to me.”

                  I never said anything about fundamental aspects of who he is. My point is that he is the only one who gets to decide what is and what is not a fundamental aspect of who he is, and he should be informed of what these aspects will cost him socially. If he clearly is already informed, that’s one thing, but to assume that everyone knows themself perfectly well and already understands all the consequences of both superficial and fundamental (and in-between) aspects of their person is simply wish-thinking.

                  “Likewise, a man (adult) who doesn’t get the basics of presenting himself is likely beyond mere advice.”

                  I wasn’t.

          • “If a reasonable guy hears “You go to the gym too much for me to be attracted to you” from one woman, he’ll attribute it to a personal preference on your part. If he hears it from a dozen women though, he’ll start considering that maybe he should stop going to the gym so much.”

            or he could work out where or how he could meet the kind of women who would be attracted to that. If going to the gym everyday is important to someone and makes them happy is giving it up really going to make them more attractive as a partner?

  9. QuantumInc says:

    It’s odd to think of myself as purple curtains, however the analogy does help illustrate that whether you’re looking for house textiles or human beings different people have different needs and so there’s a long list of possible reasons why they’re looking at one item/person and not another. In the same way there’s a long list of reasons why someone you’re attracted to might be more compatible and/or attracted to some third party than yourself.

    Many people do seem to believe in the absolute value model of dating. Certain people have a high value, and they date other people of high value, others attempt and fail to date high value people before eventually settling on people of similar value, and generally only the high value couples have good relationships because the low-value people fundamentally suck. Of course this model is mainly compatible with the idea that all men are supposed to be one way and all women another way; people who live up to gendered expectations are high value, and those who fail are low-value, and doomed to unhappiness. To be conventionally attractive is to perform those gender roles. Of course being nice is not part of being a “proper” guy.

    • This, so much. I became a much happier person when I started dating people who were compatible with me, instead of settling for “well, he doesn’t have anything else in common with me, but he acts nice and has a cute smile!!”

      • Dr. Anonymous says:

        Would you be just as accepting of a 40-year old man who said that big boobs, youth and a thin waist is an absolute necessity for compatibility?

        • Well, what do you mean by “accepting”?

          Sure, I can accept that that’s what he wants in a woman, no problem. I can also accept that his criteria would exclude me, since I’m older than he is, and don’t have the thin waist of my youth. I don’t expect to appeal to every man out there, and I’m fine with that. However, I may still think he’s an idiot to consider those conditions to trump other conditions, and may also think that he’s unnecessarily limiting his options for future happiness by so filtering his pool of acceptable women, but really….that’s his lookout, not mine.

          Any person’s dating pool is the intersection in the Venn diagram where Person A’s “circle of people I find attractive” overlaps the “circle of people who find Person A attractive”. That overlap may be very small, or very large, and its size is determined by two factors: Person A’s (semi)objective attractiveness, and the breadth of Person A’s criteria for what s/he finds attractive in others. So, using myself as Person A, there are two ways I can improve my chances of meeting someone and falling in love, and those are 1) improve my attractiveness to the people I, in turn, find attractive, and 2) broaden my own criteria for what *I* find attractive in others. That’s it. I can’t change what other people find attractive in order to make them include me, not even if I know, deep in my own heart, that they are making a huge mistake by overlooking me. I also can’t make them tell me what things I could do that would make me more attractive to them because the very fact that I would be eager to change who I am in order to get with them would, in itself, increase their lack of attraction for me.

          Like so many things in life, if you want to become a more attractive person, you have to do it for yourself, not for some real or hoped for Other who you hope to acquire once you’ve “fixed” your problems. Losing weight because the object of your affections thinks you’re too heavy to be attractive, dying your hair some odd color because the woman you like thinks you’re too white-bread, taking up tennis because you’ve got a crush on a tennis player, all those sorts of things just reek of desperation, which is the ULTIMATE anti-attraction factor. If you think doing those things will make you more attractive, do them…but do them for yourself, and for your own self-image, and *then* start looking for someone who might find the new you attractive. Most people are looking for the person who attracts them *now*, not the person who might be able to attract them, if they did some work.

          • I have no idea what demands you’re talking about. I don’t want ALL men to be My Ideal Mate, because then we wouldn’t have lots of different men in the world, and life would be boring. I’d much rather find someone who already meets my criteria and date him, than pick Mr. Randomguy off the street and try to force him into my Mr. Right mold.

            Generally speaking, each (monogamous) person wants to find ONE person, of the desired sex, with the desired traits. Some of us find people like that fairly early on. Some of us find The One in our old age. Some of us are unlucky and don’t find the right person at all.

            This is not a personal failing of men or women. This is simply a fact: each person wants something different. You cannot please EVERY woman, and thank the gods, you don’t have to. You only really have to please one at a time (again, the dynamics of a poly relationship are different).

          • By the way, I’ve dated a man who was unemployed, overweight, and poor. None of those factors were ever the deal-breaker; this particular individual happened to have a personality that didn’t mesh well with mine at all.

  10. Yeah, I also felt like this missed the point a little. So, there are definitely a number of attitudes you might hear from self-proclaimed nice guys which suck. Attitudes like “female friendship is worthless,” or “people I’m nice to owe me sex.” But I think there’s also a legitimate complaint buried in “women don’t want nice guys,” and it’s maybe not what you think.

    Let’s say I ask out three women I know, and they all reply with “no, sorry, but you’re a really nice guy, you just need to find the right girl.” They then proceed to date other guys, who, while they may have many sterling qualities, don’t seem as nice. Obviously, what the women said wasn’t the whole story. Now I’m upset, I feel like I’ve been lied too, and I’m complaining that “women don’t want nice guys.”

    Suppose instead that the women had said something like “you’re a really nice guy, but I just don’t find you physically attractive.” Okay, that probably hurt a little, but now I have something to go on. I can go to the gym, buy some new clothes, get a haircut, whatever. In this context, “women don’t want nice guys” means “it’s very frustrating that social convention prevents me from obtaining constructive criticism.”

    Obviously, there are plenty of reasons why people don’t say that kind of thing, ranging from “it’s rude” to “I’m worried they might expect me to sleep with them once they’ve lost weight.” I’m not suggesting any particular change here. Just trying to point out that sometimes “women don’t want nice guys” is an understandable, if slightly indirect, complaint.

    • I’d prefer a girl to tell me straight, we’re not all attracted to everyone and we just don’t have that jazz. I’m just not attracted to you in that way is a better thing to say than “You’re such a niceee guyyy”.

      • Agreed 100%.

        I think a big part of the problem stems from the fact that people, on both sides, see dating/flirting/etc as a value market. That is, if you’re “good enough” you will get this girl (or guy, as is less often the case). If she isn’t interested in you, it means you failed somehow – you weren’t good enough for her.

        Its really ridiculous when you think about it. Its like saying your house key just isn’t good enough to unlock someone elses door or to start your car. Attraction is about compatibility.

        The other thing that frustrates me so much with the issue is that women tend to think they’re doing a guy a favor by turning him down for some “good” reason. Its like “Saying I’m not physically attracted to him will hurt, or saying I just don’t feel like we mesh will hurt (back to the value thing again). So I’ll turn him down for something that wont hurt him – I’ll tell him he’s too nice or I don’t want to mess up the friendship or I just don’t think I deserve a guy as good as him.”

        Which, of course, just makes guys think “Okay, so what I did wrong was.. be nice? be a good friend? I guess women must want assholes, since being nice or a good friend disqualifies a guy from being attractive.”

        • drew: Standing ovation. When talking about dating, people seem to completely forget about chemistry and connection. I wish we could stress that more. Some people mesh, some don’t. As you said, “attraction is about compatibility.” On the other hand, women are raised to not hurt feelings, to be sensitive. Make the blow hurt as little as possible. Keep that in mind. That might be why some women say “you’re such a nice guy.” Mediahound: maybe for some people attraction isn’t about compatibility. There’s no universal. But goddamn, is it for me. Chemistry and connection trump EVERYTHING.

          • Aya, you use another code word that means something different for men and women – “chemistry.”

            To men, “chemistry” tends to mean, “we have similar interests and have a fun time together.” A lot of men, they have “chemistry” with their female friends, but they’ve not pursued it for one reason or another.

            To women, as far as a lot of men can tell, “chemistry” means, “you have that something-something that makes my panties wet.”

            There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, of course. But it’s a strong source of miscommunication, and it’s something that we as a society continually lie about to young men.

            • Ben Lehman says:

              Wow. I … always sort of assumed everyone knew that “chemistry” was a polite word for “boners.”

            • To women, as far as a lot of men can tell, “chemistry” means, “you have that something-something that makes my panties wet.”

              To some extent, that’s true. But it’s not the whole story. It’s also about having that something-something that makes you think about them all the time, that makes you feel warm inside, that makes you feel like you can both talk to them when you need to, but also be silent and comfortable together, that makes you smile when you see them, that allows you to fight but then make up, that makes you feel safe but excited at the same time, that makes you feel as if you’re on a similar level when it comes to conversation, that the situation is fitting and interesting. It goes far beyond a simple fun and physical attraction. And although for some women, it does–for a lot of us money, popularity, muscles, swagger, and a pretty face have nothing to do with that. Nothing at all.

              • To add: Keep in mind, what does what I said above for one woman will not do it for another. There’s no universal that will make the factors all fit together or that that guarantee chemistry. Men seem to be more likely to say “I want a girl of this race, with these sized breasts, of this level of geekiness, with these interests, and who enjoys these things.” I can’t do that. Chemistry comes when it comes. The sexual part is very important, but there’s more to it.

        • So, if you were to read me a poem that you wrote and I hated it, should I give you a line by line critique of what I don’t like about it, or just say that it’s “interesting” ? It would depend on how well we know each other, wouldn’t it? If we were best friends, I would tactfully give you the critique. If we had just met or were casual acquaintances, I’d be more likely to go with the “interesting” comment.

          I’m not sure why it is that social conventions and little white lies are considered fine in most situations, but in the context of dating, they are Absolutely Evil.

          • @Vicky…

            There is such a thing as being polite and decent. There is such a thing as constructive critique.

            Telling little white lies is not considered fine by me. What we should exercise is simple decency and manners.

            Why would you want to tell little white lies in the context of dating anyway? Why not just tell the damn truth? Is it OK for guys to lie their asses off to women just to get laid? According to your logic, I presume so.

        • @drew…

          Yes, drew you make some good and valid points. I am a pretty blunt and to the point guy. I prefer similar people. However, I have to maturity to know that most people are not like me. So, I cannot expect as much.

          It would be most helpful if women would just start being honest with men on why they are rejecting them. All it does to a lot of men is foster resentment.

          Also, the use of “nice guy” is a dirty word for many men (I will speak for myself). It is code used by many women who are really seeking other attributes in men. Again, why can’t women just be forthright?

          You wrote,

          ” Attraction is about compatibility.”

          Could it be the other way around, compatibility is about attraction? I really think this is how most women view it. Men whom women think they are compatible with (in their minds) are viewed as attractive. It’s really about likability. If she likes you (for whatever reason) she is going to find you attractive. That’s why I focus on likability.

          Just my view of how things really work.

          • I think it would also help if men weren’t conditioned to take it as a personal judgement against them when they get turned down.

            In fact, when you really think about it, no one person needs to justify not being attracted to another person. It would be ridiculous for me to sit you down and make you look at or talk to some arbitrary number of women and demand that you have good reason for not being attracted to the ones you don’t feel attracted to.

            If men weren’t trained to judge themselves based on their ability to attract women, then (I believe) a woman saying “I’m sorry I just don’t feel that way about you.” wouldn’t be such a harsh thing to hear.

            Of course there are universal things: brush your teeth and wear unstained clothing, be in decent shape and shower, etc. But maybe you’re a big muscular guy and she prefers skinny dudes, or your idea of a fun date is talking for hours about eastern vs western philosophies and hers is going to a club, or you’re politically active while she hasn’t ever voted.

            • Lucy Montrose says:

              Why do men take it as a personal judgment when they’re turned down? Because ALL of us, men and women, are getting the message every day from society, media, and especially pop health and pop psychology, about how vitally important relationships are. Because we’re being told, constantly, that without relationships we will not only be lonely; we’ll be sicker, may die younger, are more prone to cardiovascular disease, more prone to poverty, less employable, more likely to have our character called into question, more likely to be listened to and taken seriously compared to the not-so-well connected… I think even that organ transplant recipients are knocked further down the list if they have few social or family connections.

              That’s a lot of serious pressure.

              And most of us DO, subconsciously, take the presence or absence of relationships (especially romantic ones) as a referendum on that person’s likeability and social skills. That may be one of the reasons married men still make more money than single men; we feel, deep down, they’re more “interpersonally qualiifed”.
              Certainly, we think less of our public figures if they’re not coupled up or familied. Which makes me wonder; how many unhappy marriages and dysfunctional families begin only because someone wanted to be a politician and felt they had to do whatever it took to “connect” with constituents? Or wanted to prove to a boss that they could be responsible, dependable and sociable?

              With all this pressure today to be good at relationships,a lot of us can’t help but crack, and go to ever-more desperate lengths to get favor from others. But it is not by any means restricted to men. ALL of us are having this fuckery shoved down our throats.

              • Lucy Montrose says:

                I mixed things up there: that should have been, less likely to be listened to and taken seriously compared to the well-connected. My bad.

              • “ALL of us are having this fuckery shoved down our throats.”

                But it seems that only men are condemned for it.

              • wellokaythen says:

                The pressure is even harder to deal with when you’re naturally introverted. One’s deisre to be left alone then looks pathological in our extravert-centric society.

            • Good point Drew. I think the difference isn’t that men think they are the only ones that get messages about needing relationships (thus thinking that don’t go through it). It’s that women have had about a 40 head start on being told it’s okay to not be in a relationship. A 40 head start on being told that attracting a mate isn’t a core necessity.

          • @Jules

            Having just been through a round of online dating, here are some of the honest things I could have said to men I chose not to meet:

            “I spent considerable time and effort crafting a profile that says a lot about who I am, and what I want, and the best you can do for a response is “Hey. Gimme a call if you want to chat”?”


            “Thanks for responding to my ad, but language skills are really important to me, and you can’t write a coherent sentence.”


            “You seem like a lovely person, but your response to my ad has the temperature, flavor, and consistency of microwave oatmeal, and has already bored me to tears.”

            You may be an exception, but most people (of either gender) would not receive that sort of honesty well. So, how do you walk a middle path? Its easy enough to put off respondents who, in my case, talk about their religious faith, send what I consider inappropriate pictures, or clearly indicate that they want someone who shares a particular hobby that I don’t do. In those cases, i can give a clear and honest reason why I’m not interested without risking hurting someone (although, the ones who send the pictures can get testy, even if you say they look really great, but that you don’t want to see that much of them at this point in the relationship.) But how would you, as a man, want to be responded to when the reason you don’t get picked is because you present as stupid, or illiterate, non communicative, or just plain boring?

            I’m dead serious about this, guys: What do you WANT to hear from a woman who doesn’t pick you?

            • @jam-today

              (I’m not sure why my previous comment got moderated. I have gone back through and re-written it in case my tone was misinterpreted.)

              The key point everyone has been saying is to be respectful. Whether or not your response is appropriate will depend on the reason you are rejecting the guy; there is no clear-cut answer. While some guys appreciate a straight up answer, and that’s my preference as well (although even I would have a hard time being told my personality is like luke-warm oatmeal,) there is a difference between being straightforward and being condescending or even just outright cruel; this is especially true in the case of Mr. Boring where it isn’t necessarily anything wrong with his personality, yours and his personalities just don’t seem to match.

              In each case, I recommend focusing on your criticism towards the message that was sent off and not on the character of the man himself, because 1) you can’t glean much from a person in one message, and 2) it’s really about the fact that the approach turned you off, and maybe for another girl instead of Mr. Boring coming off as boring he will seem like the sweetest guy she’s ever met.

              The goal should be to avoid murdering the guy’s ego. It’s okay to bruise it a little bit; in fact that’s good for personal growth. Just remember that they’re the one’s taking the risk of putting themselves out there and approaching you, and that effort is a positive.

              Now how can you respond to each guy in a way that gets your point across without leaving his ego shriveling into dust?

              Your response to the first guy is an appropriate response:

              “I spent considerable time and effort crafting a profile that says a lot about who I am, and what I want, and the best you can do for a response is “Hey. Gimme a call if you want to chat”?”

              Your criticism is on the message and the approach, not on the guy himself. His message doesn’t really tell you anything about him as a person; it just turned you off.

              For the “boring” guy, let’s not crucify the guy for his personality. Use something that either emphasizes that you are not compatible and the reason why such as:

              “Thanks for your interest. I took a look at your profile and I don’t think we’re right for each other; I’m really looking for someone who’s more adventurous.” or “…I’m a really loud, up and get going sort of girl and your message just doesn’t sound like you would keep up with me.”

              If you think that is too corny you can go with a more direct response that also has some advice in it, such as:

              “Thanks for your interest. I took a look at your profile and I don’t think we’re right for each other. While I appreciated your message, it came off as a little boring and just didn’t make you stand out as someone I’d want to get to know better.”

              Still we are critiquing the message, not the man himself. It’s his action that is criticized not his character.

              For the poor speller:

              “Thanks for your interest. I had a really hard time understanding what you were trying to say. I took a look at your profile and I don’t think we’re right for each other.”

              If you simply can’t come up with anything tactful you can use a generic solution:

              “Thank you for your message, and I’m flattered that you took the time to express your interest. I took a look at your profile, and I don’t think that we’re a match for each other. Best of luck.”

              Clear, simple, polite, gets your point across, and doesn’t shun the guy for trying.

              In each case I recommend adding in that you “took a look at their profile” because then they hear: “Your approach was bad, but I took a look anyway, and even after looking I’m sure that we won’t work out.” This decreases the chances that they will try to send a “Wait let me try again” response email, or will think that you are flirting with them; you probably will get a few on occasion and then you can just follow up with a firmer and more straightforward “I’m not interested.” (As an aside, please don’t say that you looked if you didn’t actually look. It only takes 30 seconds to click on their name, give them a quick glance over, and then hit the back button.)

              Also for the guys who send you photos, don’t tell them they look great, that will get interpreted as you “giving them mixed signals.” When bad behavior is the problem don’t beat around the bush, just be straight with them:

              “I really don’t appreciate it when someone sends me photos that I didn’t ask for. That type of behavior really turns me off.”

              or a

              “I’m really not the kind of woman who wants to get photos like that from a man I don’t even know. That kind of behavior really turns me off.”

              You can add a “I’m not interested in pursuing anything further with someone who behaves like that. Please don’t contact me again” if you want it to be crystal clear that you’re not interested.

              • @KC Krupp

                Thank you! Those are really great responses that would never have come naturally to me. I will keep them as examples of how to respond more usefully, but without offense, in the future.

                The part about looking at their profiles is less useful to me, in particular, but probably quite appropriate in other situations. In my case, I was posting on Craigslist, so there was no corresponding profile to check out, and all I had to go by was the person’s response. I prefer that format, because what I’m really looking for is someone who will actually engage with the content of my post, not just the fact that it represents an available female.

                I hear you, though, about mixed signals, and will try to be more aware of that when interacting with people. I guess, what i was going for with the one guy was to let him know that my rejection wasn’t about what he looked like (because, honestly, he really did have a great body, and clearly spent a LOT of time and effort on it) but because I found that level of exposure inappropriate for a first contact. I can see, however, how the compliment could be misconstrued, and won’t do that again.

                Thank you very much for such a constructive response!

              • Nice job there, KC. 🙂

              • Personally, I much prefer it when someone just tells me they’re not interested. I hate it when people start going off on one and trying to give reasons for saying no. As far as I’m concerned, everyone is perfectly entitled to say “no” to anything without having to give a reason for it. I actually think a lot of these problems would be much reduced if this idea was more widespread.

                as for online dating, I think the best rejection response is a simple “thanks for the message, but I’m not interested. Good luck in your search though!”

            • “I’m dead serious about this, guys: What do you WANT to hear from a woman who doesn’t pick you?”

              If she’s got any reason at all for not picking me, I’d like to hear it. When about 10% (on OKCupid, which for me is the best of all possible dating sites) of the women contacted can be bothered to say anything at all in response, you come to appreciate even a negative response.

              I get that sometimes there’s no expressible reason for a rejection, and that’s fine – if there’s no reason then no response is probably the best way to go – but if there is a reason that has anything to do with me at all, then keeping it to herself is simply denying me the opportunity to improve myself because she’s worried she might bruise my ego.

              Okay, if there’s some other reason for not telling me the real reason then I can understand how no answer is better than lying to me, I’ve certainly preferred not hearing back to some of the false reasons I’ve been given. But if it’s just out of consideration for my feelings, then I suggest that I be allowed the opportunity to deal with that for myself.

              I find it impossible to believe that every single woman who has ever rejected me has done so for reasons that have nothing to do with me. While I’m sure that none of them intended this by their actions, the aggregate effect of this constant need to spare my feelings is to deny me the agency every person should have in their relationships – the ability of self-determination.

              Telling me what you think is wrong with me isn’t an act of control over me, I still have the option of whether or not to do something about it. On the other hand if nobody tells me what is wrong then I never get the opportunity to decide whether or not it’s something I want to change.

              Bleeping bleep, every time I read this site I get so depressed and angry at the whole human species.

              • Sorry, I just realized I missed a word in what you wrote. I thought you said “Do you WANT to hear from a woman who doesn’t pick you?”

                What I want to hear is the honest reason she didn’t pick me.

                • jam-today says:

                  I think I, and many women, are genuinely afraid that you speak for the minority, and if we speak our minds, we’ll end up regretting it, though. I can tell you, from experience, lots of men do NOT want to hear any negative feedback.

                  • Yeah, I understand that there’s a danger posed by at least some men in this regard, I just don’t understand why that affects online-only interactions. If you’re sitting next to someone you’re afraid may be volatile or violent, by all means do what you need to do to get yourself out of there safely. When you’ve given no information to a guy about your location or identity and all communication has been mediated by a website which has as a primary purpose the protection and safety of that information, I don’t understand the reluctance to be honest.
                    Now obviously our social instincts have not developed to take the internet into account, and there’s always some risk in anything you do or don’t do, but that just underscores to me the need for more people to actually think about their actions and make decisions based on information and contemplation rather than instinct. (Note: Making rational, logical decisions takes your emotional state into account as one of the variables under consideration, probably a very important one – I am not advocating for emotionless decision-making, I am arguing for decision-making that also includes things besides emotion, such as consideration of realistic outcomes.)

              • jam-today says:

                I’m with you, about the depression. I really appreciate the *idea* of the site, but the reality of it makes me want to cry, and give up.

              • You have to remember that women on dating sites tend to get inundated with messages from men, and most of them don’t have the time to go through each one and explain to the guy exactly why she’s rejecting him.

          • It would be most helpful if women would just start being honest with men on why they are rejecting them.

            No, it really wouldn’t. How does it help you to be told “Sorry, but those jug ears make you look goofy”? Or “I just started sleeping with your roommate?” The only information you need is, she does not want a relationship with you.

            Yes, I get that it’s frustrating when what you’re hearing is “You’re a wonderful guy; you’re just not good enough.” But that’s not what she’s saying. When a woman starts in telling you what a nice guy you are, what she’s trying to do is soften the pain of rejection by saying that you’re a decent guy and probably some other woman will find you to be a worthwhile SO.

            • Dr. Anonymous says:

              No it is not. It is about her protecting her own feelings. She doesn’t want to feel bad about dumping you, so she engages emotional defences.

            • Yes it actually could be for some people, but maybe not for others.

              If you have a problem with me being fat then even for as much as it would hurt I’d rather you just say you have a problem with my being fat instead of trying to beat around the bush.

              I think it’s a mix of what you and Dr. Anonymous are saying. Sometimes she might be trying to soften the blow while at other times she’s trying to protect her own feelings.

              Yes, I get that it’s frustrating when what you’re hearing is “You’re a wonderful guy; you’re just not good enough.” But that’s not what she’s saying.

              It’s frustrating because sometimes that is just what she/he is saying. Sure some people hear that when that is not being said but simply put there are folks out there that actually say just, that the person they are rejecting is not good enough (not even good enough for them, just plainly not good enough).

              No, it really wouldn’t. How does it help you to be told “Sorry, but those jug ears make you look goofy”? Or “I just started sleeping with your roommate?” The only information you need is, she does not want a relationship with you.

              If nothing else the reasoning, if it comes up enough and the person is mindful enough, might just clue them on why they are getting rejected so much. And if it’s something that should be reasonably (now of course “reasonable” changes from person to person so for example I think its reasonable for a person that has poor work ethic to look into changing while it’s not reasonable for a person that doesn’t pull a 7 figure salary to look into changing) looked into they might think about changing it.

              • Yeah it’d suck to be told your weight is an issue but at least you know not to try again and it’s a tip that losing weight may help.

                • Exactly! I have found that a lot of my personal growth has come from when women are HONEST about why they are rejecting me, why they don’t want to go out on another date with me, etc. It helps me to figure out what I should change and when.

                • Funny. Isn’t some of the advice given to guys that are having trouble in the realm of dating something to the effect of listening to women and paying attention to the signs they give off (I know that’s come up in the Nerdlove articles that have popped up around here lately)?

                  Well if they aren’t saying anything it makes it a bit hard to pay attention.

                  Sure a woman doesn’t owe you an explaination but if she’s going to give one then wouldn’t be best for her to be as honest and open as possible?

                  So now it sounds like guys need to pay listen to women when they talk about why they are turning him down but since it apparently wouldn’t do the guy any good to here why she is turning down its okay to just say “I’m not interested.”

                  Now me I’m of a different mind.

                  A woman not explaining her rejection because she doesn’t feel like she owes him such information would be perfectly valid. If she doesn’t want to explain her feelings that fine, they are her feelings.

                  A woman not explaining her rejection because she has already decided that it won’t do the guy any good anyway is an invalid cop out. At that point she is not making it about whether she wants to open up about herself or not (again perfectly valid) but is trying to make the absolute judgment as to whether the explanation would do him any good or not. She’s no longer thinking about herself (again perfectly valid) she’s trying to think for him.

            • I don’t get all this talk about “trying to protect his feelings/ego” when rejecting an approach from someone.
              Most of the times I’ve just been met with a long blank stare from head to toe and back up, followed by turning around without a word.

              • You could try asking a friend for their honest opinion of what it is about your “approach” that constantly recieves such a reaction. Could be you’re unknowingly coming off as a creep-inducing douche.

        • Ben Lehman says:

          @drew: I find that this is a pretty good explanation. Sadly, girls are trained to “be nice” which gives them the mistaken impression that they can’t be critical.

        • Shouldn’t you just assume that when someone turns you down, you should take her stated reasons with a grain of salt? You really want to be told that she feels no sexual attraction for you? She’s trying to let you save face and not say anything that will be critical and hurtful.

          • The problem is it ends up being much more hurtful (not to mention frustrating and confusing) for a guy to be told he’s “too nice” or “too good a friend”, or the other usual suspects of excuses.

            On one hand, you can be direct without being hurtful. “I just don’t feel the same way” means you aren’t interested in dating him. He feels rejected for a day or two and gets over it.

            Saying “You’re such a good friend and I don’t want to mess that up” tells him “You had a chance but you fucked it up by being a good friend”. Saying “You’re too nice” tells him “You had a chance but you fucked it up by not being enough of an asshole.” Even worse is something like “I’m just not ready for a relationship right now” – which gives him a false sense of hope that maybe you’ll want to be with him when you are ready for a relationship.. and ends up being much more hurtful when you eventually find someone you are attracted to, and it isn’t him.

            “I just don’t feel a spark with you” might sting a bit. But, in a broader way, it’s a lot less hurtful than a false excuse that saves yourself a bit of acute discomfort in exchange for his longterm discomfort and resentment.

            • Lucy Montrose says:

              Being a person no one feels a spark for is a desolate prospect. You really DO feel like a less valuable human being if you cannot create magic with another. You know what the best, most beautiful thing about humanity is; and nothing is so depressing as feeling like due to who you are, that beauty is closed off to you forever.

              Quite simply, we do a lot of our growth through our relationships. Therefore, when someone rejects us, it feels like a lot worse than just missing out on sex– we’ve been denied life experience, memories, practice of life skills, the learning to be a lover or partner, at least with that person. And the only acceptable response, we are told, is to move on. Move on and hope that someone else down the road will gift us with love and favor.

              We need to do more than move on. For all the trumpeting that relationships are the most vital thing in our lives, almost every relationship still ultimately boils down to luck and serendipity. Every person in a relationship is lucky enough to both (or all) be attracted to each other, and that they all chose freely to like each other.
              We cannot allow ourselves to be dependent on the hope that gifts will come and the attraction lottery will be in our favor.

              If a given person rejects us– or many people do– we have to find alternate pathways to becoming the person we want to be. That’s why I am strongly against hiring for cultural fit; the most important decision you will ever make is how you will make a living; and why should any of that be left up to serendipity? And why I am also in favor of a strong social safety net; so that whether we have dignity and personal growth does not depend on whether our relationship overtures are requited.

            • @drew “The problem is it ends up being much more hurtful (not to mention frustrating and confusing) for a guy to be told he’s “too nice” or “too good a friend”, or the other usual suspects of excuses.”

              The thing is–this might actually be a very honest answer. There are a couple of male friends that really ARE too good friends to me–to the point of almost being in brother territory. It’d be weird as heck to hook up with them. There’s nothing wrong with their personalities or physiques–so I couldn’t honestly give them any constructive criticism on that. We just have a very different dynamic and it’s hard to put your finger on how we got there. I tend to go for people who are friends or who I know in some context, BUT, there is a point where it does get *weird,*

              As for the “you’re too nice” thing. It’s a stupid thing about human nature. There has to be a bit of a challenge, just a bit of push and pull–and trust me, this goes for both women AND men. As an attractive woman, I should have no trouble, right? But let me tell you a story. I remember a very specific situation where I was into this man and did everything in the world for him. I doted over him, bought him things he needed/wanted, took time away from my life to spend it with him. He wasn’t interested. The minute I lost interest, I was the love of his life. I didn’t lose interest as a game, I simply got tired of chasing after him and moved on. For years he was MADLY in love with me after that. Personally, I’m over that kind of thing. If a guy were to act mean or disinterested, I’d take it as it is and move on. But it’s a thing.

          • @Sarah….

            How is telling a lie allowing him to save face? Just who anointed her to be the one to allow him to “save face….”

            Again, you are simply pretending that it does not matter to him.

            • Well he kind of annointed her as the one to let him save face, by choosing to interact with her. Heston, I think most women in this situation are trying to be polite. Maybe there are better ways to go about it but personally I’d have a really hard time honestly telling someone “I don’t like you because of x, y, or z” — that just seems mean. I agree that saying “you are too nice to date” is bad and unhelpful, but I don’t think it is socially appropriate to give a critical run down on everything you don’t like about someone either. The truth is, being rejected hurts, and nothing you say can really take away that sting.

              I had a female friend once at work who wanted to be my BFF outside of work, but I hated hanging out with her and her friends. Her social group consisted of a bunch of vain, shallow, aging sorority-girl types who drank too much and never talked about anything except shopping and their ex’es. Should I have told my friend that directly? “I just don’t like you that much because you and your friends are too shallow and the conversation bores me?” It was an extremely awkward situation. I finally had to extricate myself by always being busy and finally telling her that I like to keep work and my personal life separate. Even that much hurt her feelings. These are just always dicey situations.

          • Because they tell you that you’re hot whilst rejecting you without saying they don’t find YOU in particular hot. SO you sit there wondering why you’re hot but she doesn’t want you. It’s worse when you’re young n naive, especially if multiple women do it to you and you don’t get a gf you’ll start to think they might be lying. No one teaches us that we aren’t attracted to everyone, the universal beauty myth was pushed on me in highschool so I took it personally until I realized we aren’t all attracted to everyone. Being told you’re nice n sweet by a woman who says she wants a nice n sweet guy without knowing there are a heap of other factors at play that she never talks about…

            I think it’s probably common amongst young people 14-25ish.

          • You don’t understand because you aren’t FORCED to take the initiative and approach the opposite sex (or whatever sex you’re attracted to) if you ever want anything to happen. As someone who is, nothign is worse than constantly being rejected and not knowing why, or constantly being rejected and just being told, “You’re nice.”

            One woman tells me something, might not be a big deal; but if I get feedback from 3, 4 women along the same lines, then maybe I need to work on something. If I’m too fat, I can lose weight. If I don’t make enough money, I can look for a better job. I can learn to drive, get a hair cut, carry lotion to keep my skin from being ashy, learn how to tell a good joke, get a couple of hobbies so that I’m less boring, etc. but I need to know, and tactful silence, or “you’re nice,” doesn’t tell me anything.

            No woman is ever under any obligation to TELL me anythign she doesn’t want to. But if women don’t speak up, how are men supposed to learn what they’re doing wrong?

            • For what it’s worth, Steve Barnes asked the woman in his social circle who most resembled the sort of woman he was looking for what she wanted in a mate, then made such adjustments in himself as were feasible.

            • That wouldn’t be a lot of use though really, considering that attraction is completley subjective. What happens when one woman says you’re too fat, then another says you’re too thin? Also I’m a pretty short guy, and I know for some women that can mean they don’t see me as boyfriend material. What good is it going to do me if they tell me that? I could get around it by only going after women who are my height and shorter, but then I’d miss out on chances with tall women who don’t care about it.

      • Consider there might be a reason other than “bitches be crazy” that these women are not being honest about why they are rejecting you.

        For example, she has been raised to be “nice” and to “let him down gently” and “not hurt his feelings”, and similar stuff without any concrete way to go about this, as rather a lot of women are. She may be concerned that if she is straightforward that you will not accept her reasons or will try to talk her out of them or be angry at her.

        Yes, it is frustrating, but I doubt she is doing it to torture you.

        • You can let someone down gently by saying you don’t have a spark with them. You’re a great guy but I just don’t feel that chemistry, spark, that attraction yadda yadda for you. Leaving him hanging by saying he’s such a nice guy n how women would love him can make you feel like you’ve failed with her, messed something up but to know the chemistry isn’t there could help. Rejection sucks but false hopes or the feeling that you had a chance n blew it realllly sucks.

          Rejection isn’t the major annoying part, it’s when they’re all over you, flirting with you then acting like friends. Like someone I know had a woman telling him of her underwear yet had no interest in romance with him, the mixed signals where your instincts are saying she wants you, then she says she doesn’t and you end up confused wondering if your instincts are right. But then you realize she’s doing stuff friends don’t do. You become this person in between a boyfriend and a friend, without the benefits of a relationship.

          • Uh, so, where’s the official list of Things I’m Allowed To Do To Platonic Friends?

            Because I do have platonic relationships where I discuss my underwear with people! And that doesn’t mean that I’m leading them on or flirting or anything, it’s just that I have Thoughts On Underwear, okay.

            What this sounds like is that you need to set a boundary with your friends. “When you do [insert SPECIFIC behavior here– don’t say “flirting,” say “talking about your underwear”] it makes me feel like you’re flirting with me, and since I know we’re platonic it makes me feel uncomfortable. Would you mind not doing it?”

          • @Archy, you’re all over the place here. If the problem is that she’s flirting and messing with your head, “You’re a great guy but I don’t have a spark with you” is not going to be any nicer, or any letting-down-gently-er, than “you’re such a nice guy but…” They’re exactly the same thing, and you’ll get exactly as mad when you sit there and seethe “then why the hell were you talking to me about your underwear?!”

            • I meant that separately, some will do that whilst others won’t. The ones that mess with your head are gonna piss you off either way, but for decent people who just tell you you’re such a nice guy I think it’s probably better to also mention stuff about chemistry n a spark and find some way to remove doubt.

              • Why? I really, genuinely do not get the difference between “you’re a nice guy, I just don’t have any spark for you” and “you’re a nice guy, I’m sure some other woman will adore you.” It sounds like what you are looking for is reassurance that your chances were always zero, not that you blew it, and….really neither of those sentences says anything of the kind. Either one could be her not wanting to tell you that you had a change that you screwed up.

                Archy, what I’m getting from your comments is that you are spending a lot of time trying to read minds: what does she mean by that signal? Is the exact phrasing of her rejection meant to indicate that she had interest in me once, or not? Is she just messing with me? (And you seem very ready to assume that she’s just messing with you, rather than assuming there was a failure to communicate.) Also, you know that you can just ask. “Okay, I appreciate and accept that. Can you please tell me whether you were interested once and I blew it? I’d like to avoid making the same mistake again.”

                Are there women who are manipulative jerks? Most assuredly! There are also women who, like you, do not read minds and do not always know that you have some interest in her, or that you will interpret her behavior as a display of interest. She might believe that you have *zero* interest in her and so it doesn’t occur to her that you think her jokes about underwear are a ‘signal’. She may hug all of her friends and not understand that you interpret that as ‘being all over me’. She may be trying to parse your mysterious signals and failing to communicate clearly! (And again, as Ozy says, you can talk to her. “Hey, are you flirting with me?” Or, setting boundaries: “No offense, I’m just a little uncomfortable with that much contact from a non-girlfriend.”)

        • I’ve had the non-acceptance of my rejection issue with past self proclaimed nice guys. For some of those guys I ended up with guys making lifestyle changes or changes in appearance to try to appease me even though I said I’m just not that into you along with my open/honest reasons why. Even if I leave it with there’s just not that spark is problematic. It’s akin to saying that someone is just too nice. Still vague. Still I don’t leave guys hanging with a “you’re just too nice” ending.

          I think there is also a difference between a genuinely nice guy and a self proclaimed nice guy who uses that as an excuse for why relationships don’t start or go anywhere etc. A lot of the self proclaimers I have encountered tend to exhibit a level of self pity and self loathing that makes him uncomfortable to be around. Some ooze loathing for women after how they’ve been treated in the past. Some of the self proclaimers I’ve been with have spent a lot of time trying to “save” me and from what I’ve heard from them their past girlfriends as well. Some of them get anxious and change every time I say I’m not into something or I am into something instead of maintaining their own points of view, thoughts, or even hobbies (ie become a door mat). To be fair I’ve dated some self proclaimed nice women who are a lot like this as well and in talking to my straight male friends they find those same traits to be problematic as well.

          There are a lot of legitimately nice men out there. However, there are a lot of men who use their nice aspects as a reason why they aren’t getting the chick. Or in other words I’m looking for a purple curtain and I go to find a purple curtain only to find fuscias and blues with a hint of red wondering why I didn’t pick them.

          • I’m kinda glad you said something along these lines, because as I was reading the comments from men here saying “Just be honest,” I was thinking of men I’ve known, and men whom my friends have dated, who would just not back off after a rejection, even if they’re told the reasons why. They argue, they hang around, they try to prove they can change by reacting to the particular point of critique, etc. In short, they don’t take rejection for an answer, no matter what the reasoning behind it – gentle or cruel, honest or little white lie.

          • You can’t control what other people do. You can only control what you do. If you do right, then it’s on them when they do wrong. Maybe things don’t always work out the way they should, but that’s not the excuse you seem to think it is. It’s just a crappy part of life.

            I’m sorry that you can’t accept that. Let me it in terms that every good man has had drilled into them since they were about knee-high to their daddy’s leg: Life isn’t fair, but that don’t mean you shouldn’t be.

    • Dr. Anonymous says:

      The thing about friendships, that most women hurling the Nice Guy(tm) argument seem to forget is that I am as free to terminate a friendship as I am to terminate a relationship. If I have a friendship with a woman that I no longer gain anything from, then I am free to terminate this friendship be it out of any reason whatsoever, I don’t like spending time anymore, I don’t like the way the friendship is turning and so on.

      • You’re right. No one is owed friendship and there’s no law that says two people must stay friends. The only thing to keep in mind is that you were leading this woman on if you pretended to be her friend just to get sex. You were cruel and lied to her. I get that some people don’t care what others feel, but it’s something to keep in mind if you do. Friends drift apart all the time or their values change. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you say you want to be friends with her, but really only want sex–you’re not a very nice guy at all.

        • I really don’t think that “the ‘good friend’ represses his attraction and disappointment into some dark corner of his heart and acts as if nothing has happened” and “the ‘evil friend’ instantly breaks up the friendship, because it was all just a lie to get into her pants” are the only two possibilities here.

          That’s a false dichotomy. Most situations are more complicated.
          And there are two persons who have to act as friends.

        • Ben Lehman says:

          Have you ever been rejected by someone romantically and tried to remain friends with them?

          I manage this fairly regularly, but it fucking hurts. And it’s difficult. And I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to go through it.

          This has nothing to do with “the only reason you wanted to be friends was to sleep with them” and everything to do with “rejection is quite emotionally painful, and to be reminded of that frequently is not something everyone can stomach.” Which is a totally fair reason not to hang out with someone anymore.

        • You’re assuming that the man is pursuing the woman for sex, and not a relationship. I think you’re also conflating being friendly with being friends.

          • Also, think about it like this. What if a woman *did* say ‘to heck with it’ and had sex with all of her male friends. How would she be treated?

            • Doesn’t really follow from what I’m saying. The point is that the guy may be pursuing a woman for a relationship (sex & friendship, to use the terms already in play, though that’s a incredibly reductive description of a relationship) if he really likes her, and then when rejected the hurt can sometimes be so intense it prompts distancing from her as a form of self-preservation.

              Nor does it mean that they’re necessarily “lying” – as I said, there’s a difference between being friendly and being A Friend. In addition, friendships wax, wane and drift all the time. Sometimes the person you think will be a cool new friend will turn out to be a colossal bore, or maybe turns out to have opinions you strongly disagree with, or intolerably opinionated, and the relationship lapses – sometimes forever. This happens all the time, and is entirely controversial – and no-one considers either of the participants to be “lying” if it happens. But apparently when a man does it to a woman he’s sexually interested in who’s rejected him, he’s a massive douche for doing so.

              I’m not at all saying that a woman should just sleep with all her friends (although not having any notion of a friendzone myself – i.e. a bunch of people that are of the gender I’m interested in but would never consider material for a sexual/romantic relationship – I can’t say I’d personally object) – my issue is more with the automatic assumption that NiceGuyism is just plain nastiness. It’s a lot more complex than that – and I wouldn’t keep repeating myself in the comments to articles like this one if they made more acknowledgement of that.

              • The real problem comes when a guy keeps hanging around in the hope that he might get sex/a relationship then gets angry at the woman when she refuses to give them to him.

            • It depends on the group of friends. Among my friends, I think she’d be treated respectfully and appreciatively by the (straight and bi) men and resented by some of the women. But then I’m often a poor judge of social outcomes.

              Then again, if you expect that someone would treat you poorly if you did have sex, why would you want to be friends with them?

      • Why do you think “most women seem to forget” this?

        • Dr. Anonymous says:

          1. What was said was most women HURLING the Nice Guy ™. And that I believe this comes from observations that somehow a man who is rejected is supposed to still be friend with the woman who rejected, instead of protecting his own emotions and moving on.

      • I can see this happening. Guy meets woman and starts friendship. Guy begins to feel like he wants to go past friendship and go to a more personal level. Woman rejects him.

        At this point he is left in the awkward position of should he go back to the friendship or cut off all ties after having his feelings hurt.

        As you say doctor women that toss around the Nice Guy label seem to think that all guys that get to that position got there by starting friendships with women with the intent of eventually getting to sex. Yes that does happen a lot but at the same time there are plenty of guys that actually develop deeper feelings for women after the friendship has started.

        I don’t think any less of a guy who gets to that point and decides to cut all ties. If he sticks around and goes back to friends and holds resentment he will be blasted for it so why should he bother with the pain?

        • This is fascinating because it’s such an alien thought process to me. I’ve never met a woman I wanted to sleep with without knowing I wanted to do so basically straight away. I can’t imagine forming a friendship with a woman and only then deciding later I wanted to have sex with her.

          • “I’ve never met a woman I wanted to sleep with without knowing I wanted to do so basically straight away”

            This is fascinating to me. See, I’ve never ever met a man (or woman) I wanted to sleep with straight away. I always need the context and the friendship first. I need a story. I need to know something about the person, to know if we have chemistry. And I’m high libido and I value sex very much. Attraction just takes some time. Most of the people I developed incredibly strong sexual and emotional feelings for–I barely noticed at first. It wasn’t until I got to know something about them or was in an interesting situation with them that it became a thing.

            • This is an interesting discussion. You say you need chemistry: chemistry is a reciprocal word. It is implies mutuality. For me whether or not I want to sleep with someone is not contingent on whether or not they want me too. My attraction triggers go off very quickly. Briefly, they are some combination of looks, clothing, and most of all body language – you can tell so much about a person from their body language, and certain vocal tics and body language tells send my desire into overdrive.

              • “For me whether or not I want to sleep with someone is not contingent on whether or not they want me too.”

                For me, it’s necessary. To sleep with someone who finds you unattractive sounds absolutely miserable.

                • There’s a difference between “want to sleep” with someone and “actually will sleep with someone”. Obviously on a practical level sex with someone who finds you unattractive isn’t going to happen. I’m talking about what sets off my initial attraction triggers, not what leads me to pursue things further. Obviously if they show no signs of interest then it’s time to look elsewhere, no matter how sexy I might still find them.

                • ““For me whether or not I want to sleep with someone is not contingent on whether or not they want me too.”
                  For me, it’s necessary.”

                  That sounds to me like the luxury of not having to take the initiative. If you don’t want to sleep with someone until after you already know that they want to sleep with you, you have to realize that this state of affairs cannot be universal or nobody would ever want to sleep with anybody else and the species would die off, while this is not true of CmE’s (I can’t find a good way of saying “way-that-things-are-done” that’s appropriate to this context so I’ll just say) thingamawop..
                  Either that or the two of you are using different meanings of the word “want”, which is what I suspect is going on here.

                  • like Aya, knowing that a guy is attracted to me is a major part of the mutual chemistry I need to want sex with him. I can ‘t imagine having sex with a guy who didn’t really want me. How humiliating! If I knew that ‘s how he felt, I would completely lose interest.

                    I think this is why 99% of women would never pay for sex. It just wouldn’t ve enjoyable.

                    • That’s why I think you’re using different meanings of the word “want”. I think you and Aya are saying “I don’t consider it a good proposition to sleep with someone who might not be attracted to me”, and I think CmE has already agreed with that sentiment. I think what CmE is saying is that his (I assume) feeling of physical, primal attraction is not dependent on whether or not said feeling is mutual, whereas his evaluation of whether or not said feeling is worth acting on is.

                      If you are also saying that the feeling of physical, primal attraction is, for you, dependent on knowing that the other person feels that feeling before you can, then I fail to see how you could be at all surprised that this (like what I said before) thingamawop is not universal. If further this difference in thingamawops is fairly close to gender lines, it’s very easy for me to see how attraction has become the clusterfuck that it is, and it still looks to me like women have a highly privileged position in this regard, whether that privilege comes from hormone levels in-utero or cultural constructs in childhood and early adulthood.

                    • 99% of women probably never NEED to pay for sex. Reading the comments here it’s pretty clear the women have engaged in casual sex and a few have said it was easy to get. I haven’t seen any men say casual sex is easy to get.

            • So, imagine you develop incredibly strong sexual and emotional feelings for a friend of yours, and that friend doesn’t feel the same way.
              What’s your solution? Do you just grit your teeth and pretend your feelings don’t exist, and then cry yourself to sleep at night? Do you have some kind of reset button at the back of your head that can make strong feelings go away? What makes you think that these situations are never difficult to the point of shattering a friendship?

              I really can’t reconcile your first post with your second one, first you imply that “friendships then stronger feelings” is equivalent to “pretended to be her friend just to get sex”, now you’re saying that this is basically your own modus operandi.

              • It can be either. Friendships can turn into stronger feelings. On the other hand, if you’re simply faking a friendship to have sex, that’s different. I absolutely understand needing to end a friendship if the feelings don’t match up or it hurts too much.

                • Let’s be honest though, not too many folks really have the time to pretend to be friends with someone in an attempt to get sex. I mean, you seem to really have a very low opinion of men and some pretty inconsistent thoughts on dating with regard to men, Aya.

                  • You’d think, wouldn’t you? But when you look at certain comments/posts that’s exactly what a lot of the self proclaimed “nice guys” are doing.

                    • I don’t see anyone here pretending to be friends? There is a big difference in being a friend n hoping for more vs pretending to be friends. There are those who are told to be friends first then ask someone out, but that still isn’t pretending to be a friend.

          • This is fascinating because it’s such an alien thought process to me. I’ve never met a woman I wanted to sleep with without knowing I wanted to do so basically straight away. I can’t imagine forming a friendship with a woman and only then deciding later I wanted to have sex with her.
            Funny because from what I understand plenty of women go through just that process. They connect with someone and get to know them and then they may or may not develop the desire to want to have something deeper with the guy in question.

            This is exactly what happened with a woman I went to college with. We were classmates and friends for about 2 years and it during that time that I developed the crush on her. It wasn’t a case of developing a crush at first sight, it was a (fairly) long drawn out process.

            I’m wondering if all this talk of telling guys they are playing mind games with women to get sex are people forgetting that yes there are guys out there that actually do form some sort of preexisting bond or friendship with a woman and actually develops feelings for said woman over time instead of crush at first sight.

            These types of guys seem to be getting tossed in with the Nice Guys because they all stand a chance of ending up at the same place of being turned down and having to figure out if they can continue the preexisting friendship or would they have to move on because it’s too painful. I think this is a matter of looking at the guys that get to this place and blanketly saying that they all got there by the same means of crushing at first sight, feigning friendship in hopes of sex, and getting those sexual hopes formally dashed. That is not the case at all.

        • @Danny- Your scenario about a man and a woman becoming friends and then the man realising he has feelings for the woman is a very plausable one, as attractions often develop after people have known each other for a little while. This, however, makes me think that a reason why women might use the ‘you’re such a nice guy’ thing when they reject a man they are already friends with is that they genuinely like the man, value his friendship and want to keep it. It is up to the man to decide if he can still be friends with someone he is infatuated with or if it would be easier for him to be away from her, so of course the ‘nice guy’ response doesn’t always work, but I bet there are many, many women who genuinely just want it to and that is possibly one reason why it’s so common.

          • This, however, makes me think that a reason why women might use the ‘you’re such a nice guy’ thing when they reject a man they are already friends with is that they genuinely like the man, value his friendship and want to keep it.

            Let’s rehash what happened when your friend confessed his deeper feelings for you:

            First, the underlying parameters of your friendship suddenly changed. This will probably result in changes in how the boundaries in your friendship are set: he might not be comfortable with you making jokes about your underwear or gushing about that cute guy in accounting. You might be uncomfortable with sexual banter from him, because you’re no longer sure it’s just innocent banter.
            Terribly awkward and uncomfortable conversations to define these new boundaries lay ahead.

            Secondly, your friend goes though something of a rough spot right now. Not only is there the usual suckage of rejection, but he probably fears that he has just wrecked the friendship as well. He might be emotionally exhausted because he fought his feelings tooth and nail (he is your friend and knows you, that you don’t feel the same way about him is probably not a big surprise for him) and/or from acting normal around you to keep his ‘secret’ for some time.
            It is somewhat traditional to support friends.

            Do you really think that uttering meaningless clichés like “…, but you’re such a nice guy!” is really the appropriate reaction for this? Sometimes you’ll have to *work* for a friendship.

          • @Danny- Your scenario about a man and a woman becoming friends and then the man realising he has feelings for the woman is a very plausable one, as attractions often develop after people have known each other for a little while.


            This, however, makes me think that a reason why women might use the ‘you’re such a nice guy’ thing when they reject a man they are already friends with is that they genuinely like the man, value his friendship and want to keep it.
            Certainly possible.

            It is up to the man to decide if he can still be friends with someone he is infatuated with or if it would be easier for him to be away from her, so of course the ‘nice guy’ response doesn’t always work, but I bet there are many, many women who genuinely just want it to and that is possibly one reason why it’s so common.
            If he decides to be away from her he is accused of having nefarious intentions from the start but if he stays and it turns out he probably would have been better off leaving (as in he turns bitter despite his best efforts) he’s accused of having nefarious intentions from the start but if he stays and somehow doesn’t turn bitter he may still be accused of having nefarious intentions (namely that he is sticking around in hopes that he still has a shot or is working on “wearing her down”).

            Of course it’s understandable that those many many women you metion would want things to work out. But that understandable desire doesn’t make it okay to, in the event that it doesn’t work out, to go perscribing nefarious intentions on the guy.

            If this were gender swapped (meaning a woman that became friends with a guy, developed feelings over time, but when she made her feelings known it didn’t work out) would we put up with rushing to judge her motives as ill?

            A woman that has to make the choice for herself in that situataion and matter how badly the guy values her friendship and would like to keep it I’m sure we would agree she has to choose for herself right? Why isn’t that same consideration extended to guys?

            …so of course the ‘nice guy’ response doesn’t always work, but I bet there are many, many women who genuinely just want it to and that is possibly one reason why it’s so common.

            So, even though it doesn’t work it’s still allowed to pass because she wanted it to work out so badly?

            • “If he decides to be away from her he is accused of having nefarious intentions from the start but if he stays and it turns out he probably would have been better off leaving (as in he turns bitter despite his best efforts) he’s accused of having nefarious intentions from the start but if he stays and somehow doesn’t turn bitter he may still be accused of having nefarious intentions (namely that he is sticking around in hopes that he still has a shot or is working on “wearing her down”).”

              this can be solved through the wonders of communication. “im sorry, but I’m feeling really emotionally hurt that you’re not interested in a relationship with me and I really need some space from you” or “it really hurts that you don’t want to be more than friends, but our friendship means a lot to me so I’d like to try and make it work”

              the problem with all these scenarios comes if the guy starts resenting the woman and blames her for his feelings when he never bothered to actually talk about them like a grown up.

    • True, but like Ozy pointed out, “nice,” for most people, is necessary but not sufficient. My cousin is very happily married to a redneck kind of a guy, who loves sports and hunting, and isn’t a fan of reading or sci-fi movies. I am happy for her; she and her husband are genuinely compatible with each other, and they’re happy. However, I don’t want to marry that kind of guy. My current boyfriend loves Legos and Doctor Who, and we’ve swapped favorite books on more than one occasion. My cousin wouldn’t be interested in a guy like that; she’s not a nerd, so she wouldn’t be happy living with a nerd.

      Different people have different tastes. Just because we all want to date someone who’s nice, doesn’t mean that “nice” is the ONLY important characteristic! My boyfriend is nice. My cousin’s husband is nice. But if we woke up tomorrow in some Bizzaro World where each of us was with the other’s significant other, we wouldn’t be satisfied or happy, because we are different people with different tastes.

  11. Yet another woman who misunderstands the nice guy issue. I dunno how many people have to say it for it to sink in, but…in your analogy…The problem is the woman complains that her room needs curtain, goes to the store, looks at the curtain n says how much she wants one then buys a floor rug instead.

    • I disagree. The nice guy issue seems to stem from the fact that a particular shopper wants a floor rug, but a curtain gets upset because the curtain has certain qualities the shopper has expressed in wanting for a floor rug.

      To step out of the analogy: a woman may want a boyfriend who can make her laugh, or a boyfriend who will do nice things for her, or a boyfriend who will listen to her. But that doesn’t mean that making her laugh, or doing nice things, or listening to her is qualification for being someone she wants as a boyfriend.

      No more than someone wanting a purple striped floor rug means they should buy a curtain because it is purple and striped.

      • Enoch Smith says:

        I can’t comment for other men, but the “nice guy” thing for me doesn’t sound like your analogy. To give one example, I had a girlfriend who claimed she wasn’t interested in sex because she was asexual. I told her that would be an issue eventually, but for the time being, I was happy to forego, and she agreed to those terms. Later, she said she wanted an open relationship because she knew I had a sex drive and she’d rather I have sex with someone else honestly rather than cheat on her. I tried to assure her that wasn’t necessary and under no circumstances would I cheat, but she insisted, so I accepted (though still refused to date anyone else). Then, a couple weeks later, she told me that since we had an open relationship, she wanted to have sex with some guy she met, even though “he was kind of an ass.”

        Obviously, the relationship didn’t last long after that.

        THAT’S the kind of situation I see on a regular basis – not a little white lie here and there, but clear, repeated dishonesty to a “nice guy” because I’m the only one polite enough to pay attention to them. This wasn’t the only time this sort of thing happened – in fact, every relationship I’ve had so far has followed a similar pattern of a women expressing attraction to me, us getting in a relationship, and her cheating/ask to have sex with some other guy that *she herself repeatedly complained about*. It’s possible that it’s just really bad luck, but I figure if it has happened to me in every romantic/sexual relationship I’ve ever had, similar things may have happened to other men.

        Again, other people complaining of “Nice Guy Syndrome” might really be complaining about female friends of theirs not wanting a sexual relationship at the time, but in at least one man’s perspective, it’s a result of repeated lies and subterfuge on the part of women.

        P.S. I want to be clear that I don’t blame *all* women everywhere for this, I don’t claim to know *why* my exes have done this, I’m just sharing my personal experience and perspective on the issue. I’d also like to add that although I have seen a pattern in how my relationships end up, I’ve made a point of not dating the same “type” of woman – some were very physically attractive, others not, some were very aggressive, others passive, some had high self-esteem, others not, and so on.

        • Ben Lehman says:

          My condolences on your horrifying relationships.

          This has never happened to me. I’m not absolutely “nice” but I’m far from an asshole and I’ve certainly got the “you’re too nice to date” talk more than once*. I wonder what the determining factor is?

          When you talk about “type variance” you talk about it in very social mainstream ways (more or less attractive, more or less dominant.) That doesn’t seem to me to be the thing that needs variation, here. It may be that you have a thing for inaccessible women? Or that you have a thing for women who, themselves, have a thing for jerk types? Clearly there’s something, though, if it’s that repeated a pattern.


          * My response to this has generally been “thank fucking God.” I’d really rather not been in a relationship that requires me to enact jerkdom in day-to-day life.

          • Enoch Smith says:

            I don’t know. I’ve talked to other people about it (including my therapist) and they’ve all concluded that I’ve just had really crap luck. It could hypothetically be any number of things, but that’s beside the point. The point is just that there are (or, at least it seems to me) plenty of douchebags out there of both genders and it’s possible (or even probable) that many of those experiencing “Nice Guy Syndrome” aren’t just douchebags who expect their female friends to put out for them.

            • “and it’s possible (or even probable) that many of those experiencing “Nice Guy Syndrome” aren’t just douchebags who expect their female friends to put out for them.”
              Yes, it’s actually very common. Probably more common than the douchebags. But hey in these discussions women are always innocent and never lie to men, use them etc, there is no group of dbag women that cause the world of hell for some poor schmucks who call emselves “Nice Guys (TM)” who’s only fault was being naive n trusting the wrong women. It’s always about how the nice guy is entitled and is an asshole without accepting the possibility that both act like asses at times. There’s no one nice guy type, there’s a bunch of people who call emselves nice, some are nice, some are told they are nice often, some are wolves in sheeps clothing, some are just douchebags.


              • wellokaythen says:

                “There’s no one nice guy type, there’s a bunch of people who call emselves nice, some are nice, some are told they are nice often, some are wolves in sheeps clothing, some are just douchebags.”

                Hell, yes. It’s a really vague, diverse category, like the word “nice” itself. “Nice” has so many meanings that it’s virtually meaningless as a word.

                If I may take Ozy’s analogy further, some “nice guys” (some!) act like doormats. They will tend to attract people who are looking for doormats. Some “nice guys” act like assholes but think of themselves as doormats.

                Self-reporting of “nice guy’ status is ridiculously unreliable. I often mistrust anyone who refers to himself as a “nice guy.” Everyone thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor, but we can’t ALL have good taste and a sense of humor…..

                • Hey, I KNOW I have a terrible sense of humor…

                • I call myself an asshole, I get told I’m nice but I can be an asshole (shit stirrer at times mainly for mutual laughs) n pretty selfish. I am me, a mixed bag, I use to think I was nice but as you say it doesn’t really work and too many others describe emselves as such.

                  • I always considered niceness to be like humility: if other people say it of you, then it’s probably true, but if you hear someone describe him/herself that way, then it’s probably false.

                    Or to put it another way: If you have to tell me that you’re a “nice guy” for me to know about it, then you probably aren’t really as nice as you think you are. 🙂

              • @Archy, so, you’re not actually interested in a discussion per se, because anyone who disagrees with you is pretending women are angels and guys are all scumbags. Thanks for clearing that up so that nobody wasted time thinking it was possible to have a productive conversation. Sheez.

                • Strawmannnnnn. Did I say that? NO, I’m referring to a common theme on discussions similar to this by some people in a sarcastic manner. Maybe I didn’t make it clear enough but part of that was generalizing as a joke. Maybe I should have used /sarcasm instead.

                  • A joke? You finished your post with /endrant. When you go on about how these discussions ALWAYS end up with men picked on and women treated like angels, the sarcasm doesn’t mean “ha ha, just kidding”, it means “I’m serious and really pissed off.”

                    • Well I was wrong on the always of course, change it to sometimes. It’s a sarcastic post detailing my annoyance at some who treat women as innocent n blame the guys for it. It’s pretty damn common to see nice guys generalized as assholes vs being a wide variety as I said.

                  • wellokaythen says:

                    Let’s be inclusive, now. Shouldn’t it be “strawperson”? Or, after centuries of the word “strawman,” how about calling these bad arguments “strawwomen” arguments? For a little historical leveling. : – )

        • Speaking as someone who has had and escaped a youthful series of “horrifying relationships” I can tell you exactly why your exes have done things like this: In short, you let them. In your story, the relationship she offered wasn’t the one you wanted, but you went along with it. You phrase this to yourself as if you are being the hero, as opposed one of those “assholes” who “only wants one thing,” but you did want that one thing, and although you had no right to expect her to give it to you, you also didn’t have to stick around and tolerate getting less than you wanted. Then you say you “make a point” of not having a type, which sounds way better than saying you’ll latch onto any woman who pays a little attention to you and treat it like a favor to them.

          That behavior doesn’t make you a hero. It makes you a doormat with no spine, standards or boundaries. You said an asexual relationship would “eventually” become a problem, but you’d never “pressure” her no doubt, and you wouldn’t leave, or even take up an offer to get your sexual needs met elsewhere. So when, exactly, was “eventually” going to be? You thought your fine example of heroism would eventually be rewarded by her “coming around” and giving you what you wanted, and if not, then you go from the hero to the martyr, victim of a bad woman.

          In reality, this sort of passive-aggressive ethical quid pro quo is brutally unattractive because an externally imposed moral obligation frankly just ain’t sexy. And while I would agree that the woman in your story behaved badly, taking advantage of your no-strings attention until she found something better, you could have avoided this by refusing upfront to accept less than you want and deserve, openly rejecting and openly accepting rejection when you encounter somebody who isn’t on the same page.

          Bad partners are out there, but finding them isn’t luck. The good ones tell you directly “I don’t want that relationship with you” and you move on so maybe the next one doesn’t say that. Men and women both get entangled in these miserable relationships where they feel mistreated because, through desperation and/or misguided principle, they lack the confidence to ask for what they want and the will to say “no” and walk away, and they imagine their virtuous tolerance will eventually be appreciated and rewarded. You’re safe enough assuming that never happens.

          In short, standing up for yourself is not being an asshole. Try it and see if it doesn’t work better.

          • @rob…


          • @rob bravo from me too

          • Enoch Smith says:

            I appreciate your efforts to make her lying to me repeatedly anyone’s fault but her own, but I respectfully disagree. I did NOT expect her to “come around”. I expected her to most likely remain asexual as she had long claimed this as a sexual identity. “Eventually” means marriage wasn’t an option, but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a relationship for a few years. I was clear to her about all of this. And no, I wasn’t pressuring her for sex. Believe it or not, men are capable of wanting relationships with women for things other than sex. I genuinely liked her, was honest about what I was looking for, and she manipulated me (for what reason I don’t know, since she later claimed to never have been attracted to me in the first place).

            And no, I’m no hero, but this isn’t about me. This is about the fact that some women are douchebags.

            • I guess I don’t see where this is a problem, then. You say you genuinely weren’t into her for the sex, and she found someone else with whom she mutually wanted the sexual relationship you were content without. If she’d never wanted such a relationship before this other person expressed an interest, I don’t see how that’s a lie. Meanwhile, you had accepted the relationship would end over the issue of her professed asexuality, and it did. Sounds to me like everybody got more or less the relationship he or she consented to. If not, please explain how you anticipated this working out.

              Regardless, clearly I have made some unfair assumptions about your character, and I stand well corrected. I apologize and wish you the very best of luck with your future relationships.

              • I’m absolutely sorry, Enoch, for what you faced. But I don’t get one thing. You claim that she lied to you. It looks to me like she was honest with you every step of the way while also struggling with her own sexuality. I don’t doubt that she truly felt that she was asexual when you started dating–and it’s not like she hid the fact that sex was not part of your relationship. When she did want to have sex with this other guy, she was also upfront.

                I’ve known people who genuinely thought they were straight for a while and only later in life did they understand that their sexuality was homosexual or bi. There was no malicious intent, just a lack of understanding of themselves. I doubt that what she did was malicious, and like I said, she seemed to be honest every step of the way. You had the choice. I honestly don’t think I could stay with someone who was asexual (at least monogamously), but I would appreciate very much them being upfront.

          • /cheer

          • Excellent!

            This is one of the best summaries of the problems faced by self-identifying ‘nice guys’ that I’ve seen. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have personally fallen into a trap of not standing up for myself for fear of being an arse hole in the past. I figured it out a couple of years back, as I left my teens behind (I’m a pretty anxious guy, so I was a slow learner). Being honest and up front about things saves a great deal of frustration and unhappiness.

            I wish I’d had someone explain this properly to me years ago.

      • You disagree? I’ve been a nice guy before, I wrote what I experienced. I was told I had the qualities she was looking for, told I was a great guy then she routinely chose others on top of her flirting with me n being amibiguous in her behaviour. The way she acted was half the time interested, half the time not. You don’t pull the curtain down n put it in your shopping bag then throw it back out and repeat this a few times do you?

        • Did you ever actually speak to her about this? Did you ever sit her down and say “i feel like you’re blowing hot and cold with me, this isn’t fair, I need to know where I stand” or something similar? People aren’t psychic, and people don’t always know how their behaviour affects others. It could be she was maliciously using you, or it could be she didn’t think you had a problem with the situation because you stuck around and never complained. It always seems to me that a lot of the “nice guy ™” rants you see could have been solved by simple communication and boundary setting.

          • Yeah, didn’t work. I dunno if all who do it are being malicious, there was plenty of communication but she has issues. I don’t think she meant to do it but it was very confusing.

  12. Not sure If I should market myself as a Billy Bookcase or a Shabby Chic Chesterfield Sofa. Which is better, studiously up against the wall or folks sprawling all over you in Ox blood red leather?

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