“I'm just an honest, old-school gentleman. Seems like women these days don't appreciate that, though. Guess they'd rather date assh*les instead of giving a nice guy like me a shot.”
Sound familiar? These days, it seems that online dating apps are more crowded with desperate, bitter dudes than a pick-up artist's weekend seminar. You know the type: the guy who insists he's kind, thoughtful, patient, and exactly what any smart, self-respecting woman should want. He's baffled as to why girls consistently pass him over in favor of jerks.
As a hetero man, I actually understand the appeal of this mindset. Despite believing myself to be a decent person, I spent adolescence struggling to find and keep a girlfriend. That kind of chronic disappointment -- coupled with the havoc that puberty can wreak on your ability to think clearly -- could make it easy to adopt this “Why won't girls date nice guys like me?” attitude.
But it's an extremely flawed way of looking at relationships, and at its core, it's not all that nice. Yes, there are men out there who are genuinely good-hearted. This isn't about them. This is about the men who claim they can't understand how women could be so blind as to not see the "good guys" right in front of them.
These dudes have a lot to learn about romance. Especially these five lessons.
1. The attitude is condescending.
While a vast number of specific qualities and behaviors go into making a guy “nice” to the opposite sex, a key one is the willingness to accept a woman's intelligence. Believing that girls are just as capable of making rational decisions as guys is a basic requirement for respecting them.
So, when you accuse women of always going for the wrong guy, you're implying that you know better than they do. You're rejecting the possibility that they can make the right choice for themselves.
Let's say the typical nice guy is right about girls. Maybe they don't date gentlemen. Maybe they do prefer bad boys. Maybe they constantly ignore the man who'll always be there with flowers, while chasing the one who'll never treat them like a princess.
This theory has its problems, but let's give the nice guys the benefit of the doubt, and run with it.
It's still massively condescending. It still assumes that you know what a woman should be attracted to. It doesn't allow for the possibility that maybe girls prefer those qualities. And if you truly respected them, you'd respect their right to pursue the men who possess them.
You're allowed to be upset over the fact that you don't – I'm upset that I'm not Michael Fassbender – but that doesn't mean you're in the right if you want to insist that women should be more interested in a guy like you.
They have brains. Those brains work. They can, as it turns out, make up their own minds.
2. You're probably not the only nice guy.
Did you know that the idea of only getting one phone call when you're arrested is a Hollywood myth? It made for a convenient storytelling trope, and leaked out into general knowledge to the point that we all started to accept it as fact.
Pop culture can have that effect. See something happen often enough on screen, and you'll start to assume it's common in reality as well.
Hence, the belief that women constantly fall for guys who blatantly mistreat them and overlook the ones who truly care. We've seen it in “Spider-Man,” “10 Things I Hate About You” and more 80s teen movies than we can count.
And it seems like some of us have begun to accept it as the truth. Girls date jerks, while persistent nice guys stand by their side, knowing that one day, their crush will realize she's made a terrible mistake.
Yeah, that's probably not what actually happens.
The truth is, you're not the only nice guy on the planet. Again, while you should appreciate the fact that a woman can make her own romantic choices, odds are good that she's choosing other nice guys. Sorry, but the sad fact is, maybe those men have more to offer than mere kindness. And maybe they realize…
3. Being nice shouldn't earn you sex.
The entire premise of the nice guy argument – that their behavior should be rewarded – relies on an incorrect equation.
Being a decent person isn't something you should do with the expectation of getting a relationship out of it. Sex isn't something you're given in exchange for good behavior. People date one another because they're attracted to each other. They have sex for the same reasons.
A dude who's nice because he thinks it'll get a girl to go out with him isn't really that nice at all, is he? He's not treating women right out of any natural strength of character. He's doing so because he wants something in return.
A legitimately nice person isn't nice because they want something from someone. That's called being a politician, salesman or any other type of inauthentic schemer.
A legitimately nice person is just nice. And they're cool with not getting rewarded for it. It should be its own reward.
4. Life isn't fair.
Listen, this next point isn't that fun to accept, but sometimes, the truth hurts.
We don't choose the bodies we're born into. Sure, through a combination of exercise, diet, and fashion, you can make the most out of your physical appearance, but some people will never be Abercrombie models.
That can make a guy bitter. He's got biological urges telling him he needs to be with the prettiest girl in school, but she'll likely opt for someone of similar attractiveness.
He doesn't think this is fair. He thinks that if he's nice, she should make an exception and give him a shot. Sure, he's not as good-looking as the men she typically dates, but that doesn't mean he isn't deserving of a fair chance.
Except that life isn't fair. Women have biological urges, too, and if a woman was fortunate enough to be beautiful, she shouldn't be expected to ignore those urges simply because some guys aren't as lucky. You're pursuing her because you like the way she looks, and you're probably ignoring less-attractive girls in the process. And she has just as much right to pursue men who look good to her.
If you won the genetic lottery, you probably wouldn't settle. A gorgeous woman shouldn't have to, either. The fact that you're nice does not change that.
And while we're dealing with unpleasant realities, let's wrap this up with the most important point of all.
5. The problem is probably you.
Most of these so-called “nice guys” are angry. They got that way because they've suffered from rejection, failed relationships and a perpetual inability to attract the women they're interested in.
But, if we go back to our original point, if you honestly respect women, you then have to respect that they're smart and know what they want out of a partner. They aren't making as many romantic mistakes as you'd like to believe.
Which then means that you may be somewhat responsible for your own disappointments. If women aren't dating you, you're doing something wrong.
This isn't to say that you're a bad person. Maybe you're not naturally charming, maybe you're not great at conversation or maybe you've got poor social skills. These aren't moral flaws, but they can make you less appealing to a potential partner.
Admitting that can be tough, though. It's not easy to accept your own shortcomings, because then you have to accept that, before you find the kind of relationship you're looking for, you may need to do some hard work to improve yourself.
It's easier to fall back on your one reliably positive trait: the fact that you're nice. You've got that going for you, right? And if that's not enough, women are at fault for your lack of romantic success. You can blame them for not seeing what a great guy you are, avoiding all responsibility.
But that's not what's going on. Again, there's only so much you can do about your appearance, so no amount of self-work will score you a date with a supermodel if that's not in the cards for you.
Appearance isn't everything, though. You might like to think it is. That way, you can assume that if you looked good, being nice would be the only other quality necessary to earn you the affections of your dream girl. In reality, there's more to attraction than looks and being a good person.
Hey, maybe you genuinely are a nice guy. But that doesn't mean you don't have more work to do.