You’ve heard it before: nice guys finish last. Nice guys never get the girl. It’s always the assholes who do.
You know that guy who can’t win with women. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how old he is: he exists. Maybe you know a lot of those guys. Maybe you’re one of them. Maybe you’re even that girl, if you’re me. Whoa, crazy stuff man. Crazy stuff.
Or perhaps you are that chick who turns away all the “nice guys” and goes for all the “assholes.” I’m just going to tell you up front that this isn’t at all about grilling you on how terrible you are. In fact, the opposite may happen.
For the guys, if it appears that I’m railing on you, understand that I’m pretty much writing a letter to myself here. For the most part I’ll spare specific examples, but I’m guilty of pretty much everything I accuse you of. My writing is just about always intended for an audience of at least one: myself.
Nice Guy Syndrome
I don’t want to focus too much on the “nice guy” vs. “asshole” thing, but I’ll probably have to. I’ll take care of that now.
It’s hard to define these terms because the way they’re used often seems misleading. Most of the time “nice guy” seems like another way of saying “passive,” though it really means “passive-aggressive.”
The typical “nice guy” tries to just get along with and be friendly to everyone. He doesn’t mean to do anything wrong. He won’t say anything to “rock the boat”: he’d rather do as people expect and want him to do without having to ask them. He just wants to make women happy. When they reject him, he can’t understand why. I mean, he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet!
The problem, you see, is that “nice guy” is just a smokescreen, or façade, our guy has used into deluding himself. He is so caught up in the image he has created that surely he has done nothing wrong, and it must be these crazy, cold-hearted women who are at fault.
What we have here in essence is an Honesty problem. For one thing most nice guys never actually ask what people expect from them, so there’s no way the ideas they have about this could be accurate. Still, it is his highest aim, whether he is aware of it or not. The dude has so bought into having to be liked that everything that comes out of his mouth is basically bs.
He doesn’t mean to be a bullshitter, though: in fact, the mere thought of being dishonest would probably throw him off his rocker. Yet he’s in so deep he can’t see that this is precisely what he is doing.
So it goes on. Our guy remains trapped in disgusting indirectness. He tries to people-please without ever actually asking people what they want. He’ll almost never reveal his desires: he does so only in a roundabout way. He probably doesn’t even let himself know what he wants. He just couldn’t bear the thought.
He can’t understand that women want to know what you want. They want you to come right out with it. There’s nothing more frustrating than a guy who beats around the bush for weeks on end (perhaps literally and figuratively. Ha! Sorry). You don’t always have to speak your intentions word for word- particularly if you’re already in a relationship- but do communicate them somehow. She might have wanted you, pal. She really might have. But of course, when you keep sidestepping the situation, you get angry when she turns you down.
The “aggressive” piece of “passive-aggressive” comes in when the guy wants to speak his mind- such as when he is angry- but the “passive” piece means that he still is doing so indirectly. Of course, it is difficult to speak your mind when you have no idea what you really think.
The best example of passive-aggressiveness I can think of is when my mom wants something from me or one of my siblings. If my sister is going to Dunkin’ Donuts she’ll say, “Oh, it would be nice if you got some coffee.” My sister doesn’t drink coffee.
The meaning of such a statement is only apparent if you understand its context. I understand the context because I know my mom and my sister, but to an outsider my mom’s intention might not quite jump out. But this is a light-hearted example—passive-aggressive tends to run much deeper and more intensely.
The nice guy cannot understand on a deeper level that people probably don’t want some polished-over semblance of who you really are. When no one wants to hang out with you, it’s probably because you’re trying way too hard to be average. Some people might even call you “boring.”
When you sacrifice honesty, you kill your ability to form enjoyable connections with people. While some people may like self-suppression in the name of so-called “social harmony,” most people aren’t exactly fans of dishonesty. Yes, that includes women.
When you say one thing but do or mean another, you’re just making things more difficult than they need to be. If you have trouble keeping your word- whether it’s meaning what you say or doing what you say you’re going to do- you probably have an honesty issue. Perhaps there’s something about yourself that you’re ashamed to let out, or squirm to even bring up in your thoughts.
Where I suspect this happens most often is with sex. Most “nice guys” would probably never lay out on the table what they want from a woman. If there is going to be sex, it’ll just have to happen on its own, hopefully with few words said on his part. The mere thought that he wants to have sex might make him think he is dirty and impure, just like those “assholes” who get all the women.
Nice Guys vs. Assholes: Both Lose
When I speak critically about “nice guys,” I’m not implying that you should go the opposite way and be an “asshole.” Instead of seeking worldwide approval, “assholes” may seek disapproval and be generally rebellious. If they are trying to create a certain image for themselves and are totally unaware of the fact, then being an “asshole” is no better.
If you’re a “nice guy,” switching poles may seem better since the “assholes” at least can get girls. But ask yourself: do you really think they’re really having enjoyable, loving relationships with these girls? How long do these relationships even last? Maybe they get lots of sex, but how fulfilled do they feel by that sex? Is fleeting pleasure really something to be jealous of?
The Nice guys vs. assholes conflict is similar to the poor vs. the rich. The poor (I know, not all of them) are upset that they don’t have money and don’t see what’s so great about the rich that makes them rich. The rich (also not all of them) have lots of money, but they never have enough. No amount of money can fill the emptiness within them. Somehow, though, they think it will, so they ask for more, more, more.
You can transcend the nice guy-asshole spectrum and move on to honesty. Sometimes honesty will win you approval; other times it will paint you as a rebel. The point is that you don’t actively seek either. You don’t have to be brutal with people, but what comes from it will come. Your best results will come from first being yourself rather than someone that you are not.
Dr. Robert Glover refers to the whole nice guy issue as “Nice Guy Syndrome,” and he has written a book on the subject called No More Mr. Nice Guy. I have not read it, but a good deal of what I have just written overlaps with his ideas, and I trust that they have changed the lives of many.
Well, I said I didn’t want to contribute too much to the nice guy issue, but now that I think about it this covers a whole lot of what I want to say. So, I shall continue onward with it.
I think what happens to a lot of guys- maybe even relatively honest guys- is that they get caught in another smokescreen. This smokescreen is the belief that they are in charge, they’re making all the decisions, and women are simply responding to their desires. They believe that women are falling all over them because they are just so attractive. There could not be a bigger lie. Well, or half-truth.
Perhaps due to the expectation that men carry the standard, guys fail to see that the women in their lives often hold the dominant role.
One way this happens is that a man turns a woman into his therapist, failing to express and tend to his emotions effectively throughout the day and then dumping them all on to her at night. He might try to show his best “nice guy” face to the world each day, and then fall apart when he is alone with her. She is the only person he can show himself to. When you put such a heavy load on one person can you really call her your lover, or is she your caretaker? Can you truly be a man for her when you need so much from her?
Another way is when the man leaves much of the decision-making to the woman. Perhaps he is trying to be “nice” by letting her have her way. This one is pretty straightforward. Of course, she may see him as frustrating, irresponsible, or passive rather than “nice.” She might even prefer that he makes more of the decisions, since she’ll probably be okay with whatever he chooses. She just wants you to pick something and move already. That is more likely to please her than making her do everything.
The dominance of women runs deeper than this, however. The guy may be relatively honest, have decent emotional health, and appear to be making most of the decisions. What he can’t see is that most of those decisions are not his exertion of his power over her; rather, his decisions reflect her power over him.
I’m not suggesting that this is a bad thing. Her power over you arises from your desire for her, and there is nothing wrong with desiring another person. It’s when you can’t see this situation for what it is that you may run into problems.
When you can’t see a woman’s power over you, you are bound to become frustrated with her at some point. You’re likely to run into that darned passive-aggressiveness, too. You want her to act in a certain way and you get annoyed when she doesn’t. You feel anger toward her. Maybe she’s just a stupid woman. Maybe you don’t even need her after all.
It can look like the guy is calling the shots when he isn’t at all. The almost-good-for-nothing husband who gets mad when his wife doesn’t have dinner on the table seems old school and unreasonable, and it definitely appears that he is in charge. But maybe this guy doesn’t even know how to turn on the stove and refuses to go grocery shopping. If that’s the case, can he really claim himself to be “dominant” over the person who he relies on for his physical needs? If she stops moving, he’s done for. Where’s the power in that?
A woman’s power tends to be more indirect than a man’s. She might not have to deliberately pull any strings to bring you under her spell. Sometimes it’s hard to say whether she does. Her power might take the form of saying cutesy little things like, “Sorry I bother you so much. This is the last time I’ll try talking to you, then I’ll go away.” You think that by reassuring her and talking to her, you are demonstrating power. That’s one big, fat-assed lie, boy. You’re responding to her desires, even if you do want her also. She initiated contact. She reeled you in, sucker. She got you good with that one.
It’s when you fall on to the sucker-side that you get the sense of being stepped on, misused, and thrown to the curb. When you are generally passive-aggressive you may experience these things not just in your romantic relations, but in all of your relationships (hence your lonely Friday nights). When you unwittingly put yourself in a position for these things to happen, they happen.
When I think of guys who are “suckers,” both single and taken, I almost want to laugh and cry at the same time. You wouldn’t believe they can’t see what’s happening. When a woman can parade the fact that “I’ll have to be the one to end the relationship, because he never will,” you know who is wearing the pants.
Perhaps women see that once they have played the dominant role long enough, it is time to move on. There is not much for them to gain from such a flimsy man. Maybe they don’t articulate that consciously, but instead almost-naturally lose attraction through bearing witness to your submissiveness.
You know how it is: one day she’s crazy about you, the next she’s lost the flame, and then the next day she won’t even talk to you. Probably every guy has heard it before: she doesn’t like you anymore. What the heck happened?!
You just didn’t show up, pal. She didn’t get the real you. She only got a played down, sold-out version of you. That’s what happened.
You don’t have to totally beat yourself up about it, however. When you live dishonestly (and no one is perfectly honest) you tend to attract people into your life who aren’t exactly perfect matches for you. If she only fell for some image of you and not the real you, then it’s better that she is not in your life anyway. Unless it’s what you need to come to terms with yourself, it’s better that such a relationship goes down the tubes fast.
When you realize that you are in the submissive role and you don’t think you ought to be, there are a few things you can do. You can leave the relationship, though you’re bound to walk right into the same situation again. This Class-A sucker can assure you of that.
You can try to articulate what’s happening, though if she isn’t consciously aware of it herself she’ll probably think you’re nuts and hit the road. I’m sure that conversation would be interesting. J
I basically said it before, but I’ll say it again: probably the best thing you can do is to be all-around more honest. If you are honest you will soon enough chase out a woman who is not right for you. If you are honest all day long you will not have to rely on a woman to be your therapist (though you certainly can still share your deeper feelings with her).
If you are honest and you act with integrity, women will likely see that they have come across a powerful man, and thus step down from the position of dominance. They will have no need for you as their puppet. Instead, they will be genuinely enthralled by and attracted to you, and you can then each have your way with each other (provided you both consent to it).
I know I’m probably pushing some sensitive buttons here. Allow me to clarify.
For one thing, you know I’m not preaching the idea that men and women are unequal as human beings. I know that, physical tasks aside, I can be just as smart and able as a man. If I labelled the title of a section “Women Dominate,” clearly I don’t believe that women are, by default, submissive. :P
In addition, I don’t want to drive the idea that romantic relationships are a power struggle. There must be, however, some balance of power. But it’s really quite basic: when I talk and you listen to me talk, I’m in the dominant role and you’re in the submissive role. I’m creating, and you’re giving your attention to my creation. Then when you talk and I listen, I become submissive and you become dominant. It’s simple and mundane. You can’t get away from it.
“Submissive” does not mean the same as “mindless.” The two certainly can overlap-I know many of us are mindlessly submissive to the lure of social media- but they don’t have to. I can choose to be submissive relative to other people, and I do. You do, too. Arguably, you are being submissive right now by reading the words I- another person- have written. But if you are actively doing so and are learning from it, is that really so bad?
It’s only when you take one of these roles unconsciously or unwillingly that you run into problems. This is true regardless of what that role looks like. Whether it’s in the bedroom or in front of the TV, if you take the role passively and without self-awareness you may be met with less-than-desirable results.
So when a man has the dominant role in a relationship, it means that he makes most of the decisions consciously and exerts his will actively. As long as she consents to his decisions, the woman’s desires are also being met. However, she lets him guide the journey. He may reveal to her desires that she was never before aware of. He may show her to whole new worlds.
Of course, a woman can do the same for a man, but it is likely to happen in a different way. It may be through being consciously submissive that a woman helps a man to learn. Perhaps it’s even to teach him that it’s okay to assert what he wants, which is the whole premise of domination-submission (D/s) “play.” There are a wide variety of possibilities here.
But maybe this isn’t the best way to explain it. Maybe the relationship isn’t totally one-sided, and instead the roles switch from time to time. It’s essentially impossible to be either completely dominant or submissive all the time. What I’m trying to do is demonstrate how these roles work to a relative extent.
I know those terms probably are discomforting to some people. If you’d prefer, you can ask, “Who is leading right now?” In conversation, it’s whoever is talking. In the larger scope of a relationship, it’s whoever is doing more of the teaching and the decision-making. Certainly the listener and the student can learn actively, just as you can consciously consent to another person’s decisions regarding you.
We may be relatively submissive in our relationship with the federal government, for instance, but ultimately we must consent to the decisions it makes for those decisions to have any effect. Otherwise, they fall flat. It seems that many of us, of course, do not consent consciously to some of the government’s decisions. Perhaps this relationship is lacking in honesty? J
Ending: Loving Honesty
So if a woman does fall into a submissive role, this does not mean she is on the “sucker-side,” although she can be. I’ve seen it.
Women who consciously choose their role in a relationship cannot be stepped on, misused, and thrown to the curb. If you have the power to choose your place- wherever that may be in the moment-, you likely also have the ability to see whether a relationship is healthy, as well as the resilience to bounce back from a relationship that is unhealthy.
Typically it’s women who get with “assholes” or who are “nice girls” that get the sense of being stepped on, misused, or thrown to the curb. Women need to be just as aware of how they approach relationships as guys, even if girls appear to do less of the heavy lifting. “Nice guys” are apt to be hurt emotionally. “Nice girls” and girls with “assholes” can easily find themselves hurt physically and tortured psychologically, too. I suspect that abusive relationships often consist of an “asshole” and a “nice girl.”
Ladies, don’t be the girl who never says “no.” Even if you think you mean it, there’s a good chance you’re missing some honesty if you say “yes” all the time. Really think about whether you wanted to get with that guy whose shirt was covered in the remains of cheese puffs. If it isn’t a “hell yes,” you might be better off saying “no.”
If you can’t be honest with yourself, there’s no way you can be honest with anyone else. Sometimes the path to honesty will open through your interactions with others; but, at the end of the day, you alone must live with who you are. Only you can understand what is true for you.
Honesty is absolutely necessary to love, in both a romantic and in a broader sense. Just as you must be honest with yourself to be honest with others, you must love yourself to love others. If you can’t honestly tell yourself about your beliefs and desires- no matter how ugly they may be- how can you say that you love yourself? How can you say that you love anyone when you hold back from the world who you really are, which is really the only thing you can give to it?
If you feel like you just can’t win in your social life, the fix may be simple: be more honest. This may not be easy- it sure as hell isn’t for me- but really all you have to do is be more upfront about who you are and what you want. If you’re a “nice guy” and you’ve bought into a bunch of lies, you need to be honest with yourself about that. If you keep going around the problem just like you do with all problems, it shall persist. Dishonesty is a sure path to suffering.
Also understand that relationships aren’t really a matter of win or lose. Human beings aren’t some prize to be won over. If you think like that your love life will probably be miserable. When you try to win someone who doesn’t really want to be won by you, what good is there in it? If all you would get is a half-dead relationship, can you really consider that a “win”?
When you instead think in terms of how everyone can best grow, enjoy themselves, and love, you can do nothing but win. You’ll pass up on offers you’d rather not take and leave relationships that have reached a dead end, leaving those people free to find better matches. You are not here to secure the stability of another human object’s love. A need for security in this physical world indicates fear, and where there is fear there can be no love.
Long-term relationships that have “lost their flame” may be relatively secure, but what’s the use if there is no love and no growth there? Why should you subject yourself to a miserable living arrangement day after day when you could free yourself to find something amazing? Wouldn’t you rather finally embrace someone with love rather than fear? Isn’t love what you want?
In this physical world, there can be no such thing as security. Your so-called “beloved” could die tomorrow, and then what would you do? Underneath your mourning would you feel relief knowing that you’re finally free? Since you cannot take your relationships with you when you die, you might as well do your best to enjoy them while you’re here. Why would you want half-dead “love” while you’re alive?
Unless you reincarnate, you will have plenty of time to be dead before you know it. Choose the path of aliveness in your relationships and in all your life and see just how amazing life can become.
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(Written on 8 January 2015)