>LJ Classic: The Nice Guy Trap (Originally 10/10/06)

>As much for my edification as the enjoyment of my avid audience, I’ve been going through my auld Livejournal and re-reading the musings of a younger, fro-ier me. When I come upon something I particularly enjoy, I’m porting it over here.

Don’t fall into the trap. I’m constantly skirting the edge of the trap, but a desperate part of me still recognizes that the trap offers no succor.

I had a great conversation with a buddy the other night, it was high quality stuff. It mostly had to do with the nice guy/asshole dichotomy and how it seems that women only want the latter, and when you treat them shitty (or shittier) they’re suddenly all interested.

I argue for mitigating variables. I say that the reason “nice guys” don’t get girls is because we half-ass it. We really want a relationship but “Oh gee, she’s so keen…I’ll just…hang around. I don’t wanna push anything, and the friendship is really important. Plus, if I stick around for two or three years she’ll magically realize I’m worth it, and get with me!” Lies.

What reason does the woman have to pursue a nice guy, if he’s been there through every other great and shitty relationship she’s ever had? Odds are, he’ll still be there. If he starts to move away, that’s scary and gets her attention because he’s a cushion, but he’s a cushion with no demands, so there’s no reason to shake up the status quo by risking a relationship.

The nice guy approach does have its benefits, though, if you don’t half-ass it. Some, actually most, of my best friends are girls with whom I’ve never had a relationship. Another sliver are girls I’ve maybe made out with once, but never pursued anything further. But with all of them, I went ahead and settled into the friendship and embraced it. Sure, in some cases it took a little longer to accept than in others, but the end result has been great. I have loyal friends, I have a different perspective on my problems, I have girls who can threaten to beat up exes who done me wrong (and there’s something crazy comforting to that)…and most importantly, I have a critical link keeping me sane.

If there’s a thing I cannot stand, it’s women going “I hate guys! Guys suck!” especially if we happen to be hanging out. Last time I checked, I wasn’t smuggling bananas in my trousers-I’m a guy. I can understand wanting to rail against a particular group because of the wrongs of a subset therein, but just because one understands the impulse doesn’t make the action right. By having good female friends, I never reach that far, hairy horizon of utter misogyny. When I’ve made a typical Seth relationship mistake, it’s not that all women suck…it’s not even necessarily that I pick women who suck. It’s probably more specific than that…I just end up in relationships that are unhealthy, and probably contribute to making them that way. Depending on the relationship, more or less of that contribution may fall at my feet, but it’s yet to be a vast cosmic conspiracy where the universe is out to get me by breaking my heart. Female friends are a critical linchpin keeping that concept rooted in my head.

So the nice-guy gig is fundementally rotten, almost sick. It’s this attempt to keep yourself safe from any personal risk of rejection, while emitting this thin, feeble whining that is supposed to somehow render you irresistable to the target of your affection. I am a nice guy, a lot of the time…I get it, I understand why it has an appeal. But it’s still fundementally rotten.

Now then, the trap. The trap is in deciding that, since being nice and respectful and honest and loyal and all of these things doesn’t work, it’s time to switch it up. It’s time to go in Zach Morris style, over-the-top asshole style. If being respectful didn’t work, fuck ’em. Don’t give them any attention, don’t call them back, give them no end of shit.

I’m not gonna deny it, I’ve seen this whole style work. I’ve seen it work, and I’ve heard stories, and I’ve even had it work for me. I had a frat brother who accomplished amazing things, mind-boggling things. I once knew him to have sex with three different women in the same night, all of whom were friends, and all of whom came to the house together; yet they left, again together, in complete ignorance of what had transpired. When I was a searching youth, a lost freshman marooned in a very strange place geographically, socially, and emotionally, I apprenticed myself to this man. I wanted to learn his secrets.

His method was beautifully simple. You started the night, chose your target, and spent most of the evening insulting her. Everything she said. She opened her mouth, you talked over her. Or you ignored her. You walked away in mid conversation, and pursued other women. You went so over the top that she finally confronts you, or storms off all mad. That is when you approached her and said “Hey, I was just kidding with you! Gosh, I can’t believe you thought I was serious!”

That was it. That was the entire method. Now, obviously the method presupposes some sort of charisma or physical appeal on the part of the actor, and a certain willingness to be had on the part of the target. Presuming those qualities were in effect, though, the results were frighteningly consistent.

Yet I still say unto the congregation, forsake the path of the asshole. Why? If it works, if one could daresay that the conduct of the female population encourages, if not demands, such behavior, why would I shy away from it? Have I abandoned my long-trumpeted quest to get more nerds and nice guys laid (actually, yes, but that was a long-ago entry)? Of course not.

I disdain the assholery because, in part, of my earlier comments about nice guys. Let’s say that things in a particular woman’s life break down into two camps. Camp one is filled with the devoted male friends who’ve been around forever and aren’t going anywhere, but will never make a move, or make a single halfassed move, or took steps to scuttle things in other ways (such as complaining to the girl about some other girl they have an equally ineffectual and unrequited crush on). Camp two is constructed of basically every other male on the planet. These guys maybe don’t know the woman, or maybe they do. They could be in it for sex, or a relationship…none of that matters, though, because whatever play they make is at least novel in comparison to the nice guy friends. Basically, the nice guyage creates an environment which is singularly receptive to taking chances…at the early stages, the woman doesn’t have a lot to lose, and has a support group in place if things don’t work out.

Make no mistake, women still turn guys down. Lots of guys. They don’t snap for every asshole that comes into view, either. For the nice guy on the outside, it seems that way; but it’s sort of like centripetal/centrifugal forces, where illusory effects are created based on the position of the observer. There is also the central, and very confusing, fact that many women seem capable of just deciding not to like someone. I don’t know a lot of guys equipped with this particular feature, and fewer still who can’t be convinced to rethink things with the proper combination of garments, alchohol, and interest.

But there’s still a vast gulf between the guy who tells his female friend “Look, I really like you. We get along great, and I think you’re gorgeous. Rather than sit idly by and comfort you when someone else treats you like shit, I want to show you the appreciation you deserve.” and gets shot down….and the guy who sighs longingly while staring at his lovely friend, stays up till 3am listening to her sobbing about this or that, and figures this will one day blossom into her tearing his clothes off in a sympathy-induced sexual frenzy.

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