I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos recently. A black man inspired me the other week. I can’t remember exactly what he said but his vision was that if you delve down the rabbit hole of what the other side are saying then perhaps you can finally reach an understanding, or at least know thy enemy. It was a good video; he was telling us how he challenged his biases constantly by checking out different views to his rather than hearing the same views fed back to him by his like-minded friends. Now if you’ve read me recently you’ll notice that I’ve been doing a lot of this kind of digging.
One thing that particularly struck a chord with me was when I came across a video of Karen Straughan talking about the nice guy syndrome and how we vilify men for this. Not all of us, but a large portion of us do. She had a lot to say on the matter and I’ll say that it’s shaped my entire narrative towards the nice guy syndrome from her viewpoints. It was interesting, and it was also very compassionately worded. It made me think carefully of how I’ve spoken about the Nice Guy syndrome in the past.
Since I made the transition myself I’ve always viewed the nice guy as weak, pathetic and needy, because this is essentially what I was. I had no spine to stand up for myself, yes was the most common words that I used, and I’d be the whipping boy for any girl that I liked who happened to brush paths with me. I look back on that with squirm; I remember the thoughts in my head, that if I did what people wanted then they would do what I wanted them to do. This always fell short when it came to having sex with women though. And quite rightly so, most women look for strength in men of some sort. Strength in the sense that he isn’t a pushover; that doesn’t mean he has to walk down town punching everyone he sees with his two tree-trunk fists, no. All it means is that the man in question has enough backbone to stand up for what he believes in. Strangely, women don’t want their own way all the time, and they enjoy being resisted against. Whether that’s subconscious or conscious, I’ve yet to decipher.
Karen beautifully added another dimension to my thinking though. I’m not the only one in society that views nice men like this, and she shone a light on some of the women that think like me. One passage said,
“MEN WHO SAY THEY WERE FRIEND ZONED ARE THE SAME NICE GUYS WHO THINK THAT IF THEY HAD TRIED HARDER THEY WOULD HAVE WON HER OVER. THESE MEN VIEW WOMEN AS PRETTY SPARKLY PRIZES WITH VAGINAS.”
And yet, I can’t help but think how far detached from reality that phrase is; as a nice guy myself the process went something like this. Get attracted to someone, be nice to them, get friend zoned, and then feel disappointed that I was friend zoned. I don’t see anything uncharacteristically wrong with this. I mean anyone would be disappointed after liking someone more than a friend and then being put in the friend zone.
Which brings me to my next point. The media views nice girls in a totally different light. If we look at movies and TV shows where the hapless girl has fallen in love with the married man, and yet we feel bad for her, we cheer her on when she gets success, and we cry for her when it doesn’t work out for her. I don’t know about you, but this seems rather unfair. It’s a crazy double standard, and not that I’m trying to say we need to vilify these women, only that we should have a little more empathy and compassion for these men.
I also can’t help but think that most women know when men are sweet on them. As a man myself I usually walk around aimlessly not knowing who is interested in me or not. A woman can claim her undying love for me tomorrow and it would be out of nowhere for me. As far as I know, no-one has been interested in me since I hooked up with Natalie. But as a woman, I think a lot will know. Personally, I think a lot of women are more in tune with this than what men are, and some women will take advantage of their situation.
As I was recovering from my state of alcoholism, my nice guyery, and general life fuckery, not one woman that I had pegged as a friend (that I wanted more from) came over to ask me how I was doing. Not one. Not one took the time out of their day to ask how I was, just sit in my house and be present with me as I did countless times with them. No-one. It was then that I realised that as much as I was using them for their beauty and compassion, they were also using me for the advantages that I was affording them; emotional support, help whenever needed, help with work, and so on. If it was a bi-directional friendship, then, of course, they would come to see me knowing that I had spent so many months alone.
No, I grew a beard and smelled of stale cigarettes. I spent two years alone. But I did learn the true meaning of friendship then. The very few that did come to visit, men and women, to get me out the house.. those… those were my friends.
So, I think from now on as I move forward I will view the nice guy syndrome with more empathy and compassion. I will stop vilifying these men through my old lens and cringe-worthy memories, and I will extend a hand of support, rather than one of suspicion and concern.
It’s tough being a nice guy. I seem to have forgotten that.
Previously published on We Are The Mancave