Danger zone friend zone: when you think you’re a nice guy

I keep hearing people say “nice guys finish last” as if it were some sort of tragedy, some inexplicable idiosyncrasy of human (female?) nature, and it baffles me.

Well, for one thing it’s not actually true. Nice guys do just fine in the marital stakes. But let’s talk about perceived niceness versus genuine goodness and what that actually means.

Whenever someone says: “Oh, X is such a nice person”, I sit up and take notice. Not in a good way, mind. If further probing “how so?” yields a more concrete answer like “he’s very considerate” or “her integrity is impeccable”, then never mind. Otherwise, the alarms go off.

The problem with “nice” as a descriptor is that it’s 99.99% used when the person speaking can’t come up with a better adjective.

It’s a passing grade, a low D- rather than an A, but so many people brandish their niceness about with the entitled expectation of joy and happiness as a result of being called “nice”. It’s more of “I can’t think of anything objectionable about this person” rather than “this person is simply amazing”.

Then there are those who treat “nice” as a benchmark for behavior when it’s really the lowest common denominator, made worse by the fact that there are those who tick things off on their list of “nice person behaviour” without really pausing to think about the required empathy behind the gestures rather than the actions.

I’ve met a lot of self-termed nice guys and I just have to point out: any man who uses the term friend zone is automatically not truly a nice guy in the sense of genuine goodness.

When I say that on Quora, that gets a lot of indignant yelps.

Friend zone complaints:

I keep seeing “how do I get out of the friend zone” and the question often implies (malicious?) deliberation on a woman’s part to keep a man on a leash for favors while withholding sex, but all that could change if you just entered the right cheat code (sufficient application of …something?) and the guy is asking for hints as to said cheat code.

  • if you’re my friend, I do not actually owe you sex for nice things you do for me. Look up general reciprocity in friendships. If you don’t understand that friends do nice things for each other and you treat a “might have sex with me” friend differently from a “normal friend”, then you’re not actually a nice guy.
  • if there’s no chemistry, no amount of nice things you do for me is going to change that. Assuming that there’s a cheat code somewhere that will change your experience into god-mode is insulting on multiple levels: I’m not a whore. I do know my own mind and my preferences. If you can’t manage to respect a woman’s agency and the right to her decisions about who to have sex with, you’re not a nice guy.
  • complaining about how I’m lacking as a friend because I haven’t put out when you’ve been so nice to me is terribly objectifying and insulting and hurtful. If you don’t value me as a friend for my conversation and brain and spirit and other things I do for my friends and you’re just hanging around lying to me in case I might have sex with you – you’re in fact not a good person.

She only sees me as a “nice guy” and put me in the friend zone; how do I make her see me as someone she could date?

  • have you asked?
  • no, sorry, being nice is the lowest standard there is. You don’t get whatever you want just for being nice. Entitlement isn’t nice.
  • if you’ve asked and she said no, then respect the woman’s choice.
  • she didn’t “put” you in the friend zone. You did that yourself by offering yourself up as a friend. If you were upfront and said “it’s dating or nothing, baby”, then stick to it and get the hell out of her life. Take some responsibility for your life.
  • if you genuinely think she’s a user – then get some self-respect and GTFO. Otherwise, don’t whine about it.

Let’s talk about nice guys versus bad boys. Nice guys finish last; girls always go for the bad boys – that trope gets a shit ton of play all over and it’s beyond passe. All right. Maybe girls go for bad boys, but most women don’t.

I like a man who knows what he wants and is unapologetic about it.

I like a man who is direct, who doesn’t wiffle-waffle over something as ridiculously banal as what’s for dinner.

I like a man who is competent and who is confident in his capabilities.

I like a man who knows his goals and how to achieve them.

I like a man who has leadership capabilities and the ability to fix things if they go wrong.

I like a man who is self-aware and who is straightforward about his desires and his needs.

I like a man who is man enough to do emotional labor and take pride in it.

I like a man who has a life and hobbies of his own and doesn’t need anyone to complete him as a person.

None of that translates to “I want an alpha-hole man-whore player who will run roughshod over all of my sensibilities”. (what some of these dating sites seem to imply)

For that matter, substitute “woman” for “man” and “he” for “she” and you have a list of attributes I like in my friends.

This isn’t that difficult, people.

If the best thing anyone can say about you is “nice” rather than any of the descriptors I’ve used above… do you see the problem now?


2 Responses to “Danger zone friend zone: when you think you’re a nice guy”

  1. thene


  2. kyrias

    Stop fixating on Quora :P
    Quora is just a platform where these questions get asked. What really made me want to blog about this is my own experience with a guy friend thinking that I somehow owed him sex rather than having a fling with a rando just because of all he ever did for me.
    Yeah no.

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