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Thursday
Jun112009

« In Which All We Want Is Someone To Be Nice To »

Looking For The Nice Guy

by TYLER COATES

I consider myself to be a Feminist in the sense that I've always thought, "Yeah, ladies are just as good as dudes, right? I mean, why not?" I never was one to shout about it, though, mostly because I've never been a very politically correct person. It's pretty hard to be politically correct and hilarious. I'd much rather be funny than someone who pretends to respect everyone.

But seriously, folks: womyn really got it rough these days! And not just in the political, economic, and social departments. Fuck the glass ceiling; I'm talking about how the guys that try to date girls are dumb shits.

Now I feel like I can write about this because, even though I'm not a girl, I do date guys, and right now I am severely anti-men. Sure, that's mostly gay guys, but generally, I don't like men very much. Also, I've been reading Jezebel a lot lately, and all of that feministing has really started to affect me. This Recording favorite Julie Klausner once had an essay in the NYT's Modern Love column. I spent all day thinking about it because I've been there, lady.

Julie describes a brief, unsatisfying fling with "an indie rock dreamboat," which began in the most modern way: emails and text messaging. If you're a gay man living in a city, you've most likely gone through this routine, and I found Julie's descriptions of her first impressions pretty damn accurate:

"He already annoyed me, and we hadn’t even met. I would soon learn a lesson men have known for years: that it’s possible to be attracted to somebody you don’t like."

julie & smiley muffin

I wasn't really aware of that until recently. I'm admittedly new to the gay thing, having spent most of my post-adolescent awkward stage (which, um, just ended about two years ago when I was somewhere between 22 and 23) thinking I liked girls. When I had crushes on girls, I fell hard, spending months pining after them with, obviously, very little success.

I didn't think I'd ever want to date a guy until I found myself in my first relationship. It turned out to be a disaster, but part of me kept that relationship going because I liked the challenge of having to make an effort to get what I wanted. I wanted this guy to like me. And I realized later that when I entered into those courtship rituals with other guys, I was more interested in the ones who didn't like me than those who put a lot of effort into the pursuit.

Back when I was going after girls, I considered myself to be a Nice Guy. You know the type: the nice guy is the dude who is your friend, who is a little too shy to make a move, whom you would never call "a player". Look at Coop from Wet Hot American Summer, for example: Michael Showalter's character is the quintessential nice guy pit against Paul Rudd's bad boy.

The nice guy is the cute, skinny, nerdy guy who listens to The Decemberists instead of Dave Matthews Band, who would rather watch Amelie and cuddle than drink and beer and watch "the game." Of course, the nice guy is full of shit, and this is coming from someone who thought he was that guy.

Sure, I'm no philistine, but that doesn't mean I didn't break my fair share of hearts. Did I end brief, month-long relationships by not calling someone back? A few times, actually. Yeah, I feel bad about it now, and try not to be such a jackass and consider the thoughts of others occasionally. I wasn't doing it before on purpose, or out of some sociopathic game I was playing. No, I was just a dipshit who didn't know how to treat the guys I was courting.

From Leigh Dragoon's Nice Guys 101 Series

There's a great quote that is floating around from an interview with author Amanda Marcotte:

"The Nice Guy syndrome arises from men who are really conflicted about women’s equality. They get angry real fast when, after being 'nice,' they don’t get rewarded, or they are rejected. Guys are oblivious to the fact of their entrenched privilege, the very notion that women are there as available eye candy for them. It is unnerving and uncool."

It's almost as if sometimes men think they should be rewarded with sex simply because they didn't actively (or at least aggressively) pursue it.

But that idea is completely the opposite of what one looks for in the nice guy. The nice guys shouldn't be calculating and manipulative of your feelings just to get you into bed! That's the bad boy, the one you're not supposed to like. So why is it when someone like Julie Klausner falls for the unassuming, sensitive musician, she gets spurned just as if he was that bad boy in disguise? That's because nice guys are the bad boys in disguise.

Now, I'm not saying all guys suck; I'm sure there are a few out there that are genuine and respectful of whomever they pursue. But if you're with someone who calls himself "nice," nip that shit in the bud. And if you're uncertain, here are some helpful tips to see if your potential mate is an actual dickhead nice guy:

1. Does he think he's awkward? If he describes himself as awkward, there's a problem. (To quote Edith Wharton: "[T]he inner vanity is generally in proportion to the outer self-depreciation.") We're misusing that word most of the time anyway. If everyone's awkward, then no one's awkward, okay? (That's the closest I'll ever come to Ayn Rand Objectivist thought.)

2. Is he a currently attractive former geek? That's a red flag. He's probably not looking to settle down, even if he plays you Sufjan on his guitar. He's most likely looking for help discovering his newfound hotness.

3. Does he perform improv and have a huuuuge crush on Tina Fey? Look out! You might think those loose-fitting khakis paired with Nike sneakers are endearing and the prospect of having a guy watch Mean Girls with you sounds like a dream come true now, but it's only because he thinks she's a hottie on 30 Rock. Would he have dated her in college?

4. Does he still listen to The Shins? All I'm going to say is that the dude from The Shins roughed up his America's Next Top Model girlfriend. I didn't even see that one coming.

5. Does he have a blog? YIKES.

Be wary, ladies, of the seemingly sweet, inexperienced guy who declares his emotions, because beneath that nice guy exterior is a guy who just doesn't know how to be around - or, hell, even respect - women (or other men, for that matter). Klausner wrote about this on her year-end blog post, where she included "Emo guys who have crushes on Pam from The Office" in her list of enemies. She said:

I get it, fellas. She's not intimidating, like one of those women who wears make-up and styles her hair, and has a good job that she enjoys, and confidence, and a...what do you call it...an adult woman's sexuality. There's nothing scary there, because there's no mystery: she's just like you! Mousy and shy. And one day your fantasy will come true. You'll meet a nerdy, cute girl just like that (like you), and NOBODY BUT YOU WILL KNOW SHE'S PRETTY! Shhh! It's a secret! And she'll melt when she sees your record collection, and she'll swoon when you play her the song you wrote, and she'll never want to go out to a party where you'll be forced to talk to people of social status, or comb your hair, or buy grown-up shoes, or demonstrate a hearty handshake, or make eye contact, or basically act like a man.

So what's the moral here? Does a guy have to spout out misogynistic bullshit about women to reveal some kind of deeper evil? Absolutely not! Take this speech from my favorite movie, Broadcast News, for example:

What do you think the Devil is going to look like if he's around? Nobody is going to be taken in if he has a long, red, pointy tail. No, I'm semi-serious here. He will look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation and he will never do an evil thing. He will just bit by little bit lower standards where they are important. Just coax along flash over substance... Just a tiny bit. And he will talk about all of us really being salesmen. And he'll get all the great women.

Tyler Coates is the contributing editor to This Recording. He tumbls it all right here.

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Reader Comments (15)

pretty sound check list, i think

June 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersarah

i made the mistake of wanting a nice guy for a long time. but nice guys usually don't know things, like how to get ahead, or how to make love, or how to say no, or how to have self esteem. so. in the end, i only want a guy who's nice to me, and probably also nice to babies and puppies, since i will someday want those.

June 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstephen

This is scary in it's accuracy.

June 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRed

this is astoundingly true:

2. Is he a currently attractive former geek? That's a red flag. He's probably not looking to settle down, even if he plays you Sufjan on his guitar. He's most likely looking for help discovering his newfound hotness.

guys that were geeky most of their lives and then come into their own basically go around acting like the high school seniors of life- even if they are like, 31

June 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermeredith

Yikes! This is so true. A nice guy friend of mine recently made a move on me in a totally passive-aggressive way that really bugged me. It was so shitty I refuse to even contact him again. I felt like all the friendliness was just a cover for trying to get in my pants. I can't tell what's worse passive-aggressive douchebags like this or assholes who can't commit to a haircut.

June 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBecks

another thing that compounds emotional distress is the classification of people according to types. my guess is that the more "accurate" you can be in describing relationship behavior, the worse you will fare in accepting people on their own terms, ie having a successful relationship

June 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertracy

nice guys are assholes. asshole guys are assholes. everyone's an asshole. except gay guys. they're cool.

June 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpatrick

I think this whole "nice guys aren't really nice guys" sentiment is passe. How about "guys are guys, and some deal with that in a truly mature and constructive manner, and some don't". That's what it simply boils down to. Of course 'nice guys" have an aggressive, sexually preoccupied Id. That's the male sex-drive for you. Tell me something I don't know!

June 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

In other words: this article just seems to deconstruct a generalization with another generalization, and I want to make the most basic, obvious generalization be known!

June 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

where does Scientology figure into all of this?

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