As a kid, I think I was probably a handful. But in general, a good kid. It’s interesting because you might expect that a good kid would grow into a nice guy, and a nice guy would end up with a good girl and everything would work out. Somewhere along the way though, nice guys became not so nice.
I always had a close circle of guy friends, but back in early high school, I started hanging out with the ladies as well. I genuinely respected and appreciated them as friends, but there would usually be at least one girl in the group I was crushing on. As a kid, I really wasn’t sure how to approach the situation. All I really knew is that if I spent time around them, I could probably make some progress. I’d eat lunch with them. Talk with them on the phone. Help them with their homework. Help them with their guy problems… And I literally got friend-zoned every time.
In grade 11, I met my first girlfriend. We met at a driving school and I’m pretty sure she had both hands on the steering wheel. I was lucky because she clearly knew what she was doing and didn’t mind that I was just along for the ride. It only lasted a few months but at least I figured out how to kiss a girl. My grade 12 girlfriend was about the same.
I could’ve very easily graduated high school a virgin. Probably would’ve had I not been easy prey for a pair of girls who weren’t afraid to go after what they wanted. Instead, I had a couple relationships under my belt and was ready for university. I remember during orientation week, seeing a girl in my dorm who had the face of an angel, the body of a goddess, and the personality of a cartoon character. We’ll call her Grace. She was pretty awesome, and we started hanging out. Just when I thought I may have been making some progress, she detoured towards an upperclassman. Not only was the guy a legit womanizer, his personality was mostly cardboard. It was extremely frustrating for me because I was athletic, I was academic, she and I got along really well, her friends liked me, her family liked me, and I was a nice guy. Yet she ignored my interest to chase after a guy who literally treated her like an after thought unless he was trying to get laid.
Towards the end of my first year, I started dating our dorm’s resident busty blonde. There was one point at which she came back to the dorm with another upperclassman, looking a little flustered. I was a little suspicious. He was the type to take advantage of a situation like that and she was probably the type to be into it. We did a little long distance over the summer, where she cheated on me again with her ex back home. As revenge, I strung her along until she thought things were good, then I broke up with her. Effective revenge, but a complete dick move on my part.
Ironically, Grace started reaching out to me that summer, telling me about how I was the one she should’ve gone after. To make matters more confusing, she had just gotten into a relationship with a childhood friend from back home, and the guy was actually treating her well. She ended up sleeping with him, and then he ended up sleeping with her best friend, who happened to be a gay guy. As entertaining as that was for me, I felt a little bad for her.
When we got back to school for our second year, everyone was back to being single. I had been thinking about Grace a fair bit so I told her. She didn’t have much of a response. We went out to the big dance in the first week and within the first few dances, she was all up on another guy, so I decided to get all up on another girl. We were mutually upset at each other’s behavior, and that seemed to undermine any possible momentum we may have had. From there, she started pursuing a buddy of mine. This guy was also a dick. He was easy enough to get along with as a guy, but he also treated her like an after thought. The more she wanted him, the more he didn’t want her. I think they slept together a few times, but he had no interest in a relationship. By the end of the second year, she was dating another buddy of mine who I shared a wall with. He was much less of a dick, but also the kinda guy who partied way too hard to make it into his second year.
WTF was going on? What did these guys have that I didn’t? In my head, I would go through the qualities that I had learned women respected: Physically fit, good hygiene, doing well in school, good circle of friends, social status, respected women, polite, gentlemanly… what else was there? Leaving university after my second year, I had concluded that women were more attracted and more responsive to men who treated them poorly than men who treated them well. I knew that I didn’t completely understand the dynamic, but I was fully ready to give up on being the nice guy who was doomed to live out his days in the dreaded friend-zone.
When I got back home from university that summer, I really wasn’t focused on girls. I was focused on being bad. Money for school had run out and because of a few other issues between me and the university, they really didn’t want me back. So I didn’t go. Instead, I started doing the kinda things that bad boys do. I spent the next 18 months with ‘the wrong crowd’, doing the kinds of things that people go to jail for. My inner-circle knew what I was up to but for everyone else, I would just tell them, “don’t worry about it.” And it worked surprisingly well.
I still wasn’t the type to chase after women, but I started noticing that girls were into me. Girls who would’ve friend zoned me before were now interested. My plan was working.
I didn’t even have a clearly defined plan. All I knew is that when I was a ‘nice guy’, women weren’t interested in me. When I wasn’t a ‘nice guy’, I was much more attractive. I gave that a lot of thought. Maybe the nice guy was too vanilla? But then it occurred to me that for the most part, nice guys were harmless. And harmless was unattractive. There was a lot more to it than that, but maybe I was on to something.
When I got back to university to complete my degree, I proceeded to date 3 of what were probably the most eligible females on campus. I thought the first was probably a fluke, right place at the right time. By the third, I knew something was different from my first two years at the school. I had manifested into the mysterious, hardened, conflicted, complicated guy who still managed to have a bright future, great friends, and a good heart. Girls were totally into that guy. I have to admit, it was a lot easier trying to figure things out as that guy than as the guy who could only watch from the sidelines.
When I graduated and came home, I started training in MMA 6 days a week. I had watched a ton of it on TV and wanted to start competing ASAP. Within months, I had added a new dimension to my personality. I now knew that if I ended up in a physical confrontation with another person, there was a very good chance that I would come out on top. I can’t stress how impactful that state of mind has been on every element of my life. I spent the first half of my life avoiding violence, fearing that I wouldn’t know how to handle it. I’ve spent the second half of my life avoiding violence, because I know how to handle it. The confidence that comes from that state of mind was the final step in building myself into the ‘perfect guy’.
With all the information that I had collected in the first 25 years of my life, I had what I thought was a pretty good idea of what women wanted. They wanted a guy who’s nice to them, but not to everyone. They wanted a guy who’s good, but is capable of being bad. They wanted a guy who can fight, but isn’t violent. It was like they wanted someone who was a threat, but not a threat to them. So I literally became the university educated, former bad boy, MMA fighter, investment advisor, who was complicated but with a good heart and a bright future guy.
It would be an exaggeration to say that at this point, I got every girl I pursued, but not by much. I’ve never been the type for one night stands or picking up girls at a bar so that’s not what I’m talking about. All I’m saying is that I haven’t been put in the friend zone since.
So how has that worked out for my dating life? Am I happier?
For a while, it was nice. Tinder worked like a charm. Ironically though, the last time I used it was when I landed what many men would think was the holy grail of dating. I ended up going on a date with a girl who had blonde hair and blue eyes, who looked like a porn-star, worked as a model, and on our second date, tried to bring another girl back to my place. The second girl she brought back was way too drunk so I took her home, came back, and did the deed. And felt so gross. I literally had zero interest in who she was and I’m not the kind of person who looks to date or sleep with someone I’m not interested in.
It was like I had climbed this mountain of self-improvement, so that women would pay more attention to me, only to to realize that the person I had turned myself into was finally capable of landing the kind of woman I had no interest in. Well then.
That was about 3 years ago. I’ve had time to reflect. With the rise of r/niceguys, I’ve thought a fair bit about the path I’ve taken.
The first thing that I had to face was that I spent most of my adolescent and adult life trying to become the kind of guy that girls would be interested in. When I was young, I modeled so much of my behavior after prince charming. The good guy, the hero, the gentleman, the nice guy. That earned me as many female friends as I wanted, but no real relationships. The girls I did date either got disinterested or cheated on me. Once I realized being nice didn’t work, I modeled myself after the reformed gangster. The bad boy, the outlaw, the guy who had seen some shit but didn’t wanna talk about it, and the guy who did bad but now chose to do good. That earned me as many dates as I wanted, but again, no real relationships. I was a fixer-upper that women were keen to get to work on, but I had no interest in being fixed.
There’s a dynamic here worth exploring.
There seems to be this cat and mouse game going on between men and women. But who’s the cat and who’s the mouse? As much as personal preference came into play, there would always be a few guys that almost all the girls were into. There were also more than a few guys who almost all the girls were never into. To some degree, there was a male hierarchy, that was determined by female preferences in dating. It was the alpha males and the beta males.
In an age where people are talking about women needing to be more powerful, I can’t help but think this is a dynamic we’ve yet to really appreciate. Men, in their formative years, model so much of their behavior after what they think will give them the best chance of being with a woman.
As with most major issues in the world, I can’t help but think that this would be easily solved with the use of blatant honesty. I think a good starting point would be for women to be completely honest about what they find attractive, and communicate how that changes over the course of their lives. I suspect that most girls grow up thinking that they want a prince charming but as they start to grow into women, they start to realize that life’s a little more complicated than the fairy tales they grew up with. Turns out that prince charming doesn’t actually exist, and even if he did… meh. At this point, it becomes an exercise in women exploring what they do want. It can be tough to be honest about this though. Especially when you’re trying to maintain an image of innocence, sexual exclusivity, or any other quality that women tend to assume they should be projecting. It’s not honest though, and it’s confusing the hell out of the guys.
Men aren’t off the hook. Not even close. Maybe, in a roundabout way, women facilitated the creation of the ‘nice guy’. But seriously, how about we don’t play the victim here? The modern ‘nice guy’ is no longer defined by being a good person. He’s now defined by the pain and frustration that comes with years of rejection. And perhaps a mistrust of women, betrayed by the nice guy philosophy which he was convinced would lead to that elusive girlfriend and social acceptance. I understand where those emotions come from… I’ve experienced that same frustration… but get over it.
If you had focused on you, focused on becoming an interesting and accomplished individual with the patience to wait for the right woman to come along, you probably would’ve been fine. Instead, you tried to become who you thought women wanted you to be. You got it wrong. You thought they just wanted someone who treats them well. They want more. A lot more. They want someone they feel safe around, they want someone who can make them laugh, they want someone who can make them think, someone who can introduce them to new things, someone they can introduce to new things, someone who will truly understand and support who they are. And etc., and etc. Not to mention, they want to feel that physical chemistry. If all you got is nice, it’s not enough. If all you’ve got is nice, you haven’t earned shit. Even when a girl says all she wants is a nice guy, they’re still not talking about you. Until you’ve figured out who you are, found your reason for wanting to be a good human being, and are no longer projecting your issues onto others, you’re not ready for dating.
So what happens when you figure out that women aren’t really looking for just another nice guy? Well I’m not sure if it’s the default, but a lot of nice guys are becoming assholes, thinking, “shit, well if I’m gonna get rejected, I might as well be an ass about it.” And maybe there’s this sense of karma where you’re thinking, “You want to date a jerk? I’ll show you a jerk!” All that’s really happened though, is you went from the uninteresting nice guy, to the uninteresting asshole. Or, maybe you were always an ass, but thought that being a nice was going to sweep her off her feet. Stop it. It’s not working. It’s never worked. It’s unlikely to ever work in your lifetime. Focus on being a good person, through and through, and move on with your life. That was my saving grace. I was always more interested in being a good person than being a boyfriend. While I was able to play the role of the disinterested bad boy, I think it’s unlikely that the girls I dated would’ve stuck around for as long as they did if there wasn’t more to it.
Thinking back on it all now, had I focused on being the best version of myself, it may have led to fewer relationships, but it probably would’ve led to more meaningful relationships. Healthier relationships. The kind of relationships which weren’t, in-part, defined by trying to be what I thought someone else wanted me to be, when in reality, nobody really understood any of what was going on.