Today’s post is 100% inspired by some old post-it notes that I found in a box while moving. The notes were a gift from a friend and were the sort that allowed you to address and leave a message for someone along with your current mood. There was even a fun numerical gauge for expressing how strongly you were feeling about whatever little message you were leaving for the recipient. While I lived with my friend Katie we pretty much left each other snarky little messages daily. It’s always fun to find messages from your BFF4L declaring her prowess at salad making or to take your frustration out on the worst co-worker ever in the form of a post-it note. There’s something satisfying about slapping that little note up on the fridge even if it is only for you and your roommate to see. It was in the notes that I found one that evoked memories of a long ago friendship and the assumptions of a “nice guy”.
Among all the inside jokes and random one-liners that Katie and I exchanged I found a note declaring, “To: Katie For: Always being the Scorpion. You can’t help what your nature is.”
I looked at the note in my hand and suddenly I remembered who had written it, and the conversation that note had sparked in our house. The note’s author was a self-proclaimed “nice guy” who just didn’t understand why Katie wouldn’t return his attention. He was the kind of guy that fell for nearly every single girl that crossed his path even I had even been on his list at some point before he realized that I just wasn’t in the cards. Sure, he was pleasant enough, but conversation always felt forced almost like he wanted something from you except that you weren’t quite sure what. Every conversation seemed to hang on an unasked expectation, which led to awkward interactions and misunderstandings. He would drive nearly two hours in to town to hang out on your birthday but then end the night complaining to you how he just didn’t understand why your best friend wouldn’t date him.
“I’m a nice guy. Why don’t girls notice that? Why do you all like jerks? Is there something attractive about that? I guess I won’t ever be a hit with the ladies if that’s the case because I was raised right. Maybe one day I’ll find a girl who appreciates a nice guy.”
Dating and relationships isn’t always clear cut and navigating love and friendship is a part of life that consists of pretty much one giant gray area. You can’t help who you are attracted to and in turn you have no power over who returns your affections. Knowing that you are not able to control who reciprocates your feelings is a part of life and, well, free will. Just because you are into someone doesn’t mean that they have to by default feel the same way. It doesn’t matter if you are single and they are single, it just doesn’t work that way.
Too bad for the “nice guy” he never seemed to understand this and just went about targeting every female friend he happened to make until he was alienated within our group of friends. All the girls knew that he was “that guy” and just rebuffed or never took any of his attentions to heart. It was standard procedure to brief any new girls about his tendency for infatuation, but for some reason no one ever talked to him about his behavior. Once after a night out I sat down with him and made an effort to set him straight about things. “Girls don’t have to like you just because you’re a nice guy, you know.” I told him in a low voice to avoid waking my roommate while we sipped on lukewarm beers in my living room. He looked at me with a confused look on his face, “What are you talking about? I’m not saying that every girl should like me…it’s just that A GIRL should like me.” His voice raised slightly as he said A GIRL.
I sighed and motioned for him to lower his voice, “A girl will like you when you’re yourself. You don’t have to use this “nice guy” card to get a girl to like you. I think it’s actually doing the opposite because we can tell that it’s like..I don’t know…”, I faltered over my words before continuing on, “It’s like a gimmick or something and it just makes things feel cheap.”
“It’s not a gimmick, it’s who I am. I can’t help who I am and all I want is someone to see that I’m a nice guy and appreciate that, that’s all. I thought you would understand that.” He was mumbling now and set his beer down with a sigh. “Look, I should go. I’ll talk to you later or something.” And just like that he was gone with an indignant tone and we never brought up our conversation again.
I talked to Katie after that and we agreed that something needed to be said and she even point blank told him that she just wasn’t interested in him like that. Still, it didn’t stop his indignation or entitled behavior concerning her affections or that of any woman that he felt should be attracted to him due to his “nice” guy qualities or his self-proclaimed gentlemaness. There was no making him see that his actions were not those of a “nice” person, never mind a “nice guy”. We made sure to avoid situations where he would be in the mix and made it very clear that we wouldn’t tolerate his actions anymore.
Even though we cut the “nice guy” out of our lives it was like a slap in the face from the past when I saw his passive aggressive note to Katie. It wasn’t in her nature to be the scorpion, a name that he gave her, and explained to me was based on the fact that scorpions stung and hurt everything around them because it was what they were made to do. My friend wasn’t made to hurt people and she certainly wasn’t made to lash out at everyone around her. However, she was made to like, love, hug, or kiss whoever she wanted. She was made to be free from pressure or the expectations of someone who felt entitled to her affection and attention. She was not made to feel guilty because she didn’t care romantically for someone she thought of as a friend. Nor was she made to “give him a chance” or bow to incessant badgering to date, kiss, or hold hands.
I write this today because not all “nice guys” are nice. Not every boy or man that crosses your path is entitled to your affections, body, or attention just because they treat you decently. Sometimes, a woman can feel pressured to like the “nice guy”, to give him a chance and to stop wasting her time on jerks. You can’t help who you are attracted to and if it isn’t there, it isn’t there. Don’t force things because you want to prove that you are different or because maybe all that pressuring is starting to sway you. Date whoever you want and do it free from judgement because truly “nice guys” are first and foremost, nice people and what nice person wants to strong arm someone else into doing what they want?