I’m as nice to people as their behavior will allow me to be. But I’m not a “nice guy.”
All my life, I’ve heard men complain that women don’t like them because they’re too nice. In a few rare cases, this is even true. In my early 20s, I dated a woman a few times and things didn’t work out. Her best friend told me the woman was so accustomed to being abused by men that she didn’t know how to accept the decent way in which I treated her.
But in most of the cases when I hear this, I quietly judge things to be very different. These guys might think they’re “nice,” but I can think of better words.
Weak. Uninteresting. Subservient. Even loser.
I have this on my mind lately because of a situation I’ve watched play out involving a man and a woman. The guy is “nice.” The woman is strong-willed and aggressive. She’s the sort who you would see as a winner in all that she does.
He’s crazy about her. She really wants a good relationship with him. He meets a lot of her objective criteria. But she can’t get past something she has trouble putting her finger on.
He’s weak. He’s a “nice guy.” He’s a loser.
I know this sounds harsh, but I don’t know a better way to put it. In human cultures, there are hierarchies. It’s built into our DNA. You can even see it in children from a young age. Some little kids lead others or at least go their own way.
On the opposite end of the scale are those with no ambition. No spark of charisma or leadership. No desire to step up and be first at something. No burning desire to win.
There’s nothing wrong with these guys, either as kids or as adults. They serve important roles in the economy, in social structures, and in family life. But no matter how you look at it, these men will always be the generic average (and less) of any culture. They’re never going to be leaders or winners.
Humans love winners. That’s not my value judgment. It’s not something terrible that my culture taught me. It’s built into human nature to love winners. We want to associate with those who have status and power in the groups we care about, whether we like to admit that to ourselves or not.
When it comes to relationships, women are typically the ones who do the choosing. Men can make a great show of going after a woman, but in the end, it’s almost always the woman who decides the answer to one unspoken question.
“Is he good enough for me?”
The women with the highest status — the smartest, most beautiful, most successful — tend to get to choose the winners. Unless there are other compensating factors, men and women pair off at roughly equal levels of desirability. It’s always been this way and always will be.
And here’s what the “nice guys” don’t understand. The women whose attention they seek are the ones who are beautiful, smart and successful. Those are the women with the most choices — and it’s very rare when this sort of woman chooses a self-proclaimed “nice guy.” He’s out of her league.
When most of these “nice guys” complain that women don’t like them because they’re nice, what they really mean is that they don’t like the choices that are available to them. They’re left to pair off with less-attracted and lower-status women — when they had their eyes on someone prettier and higher-status.
People don’t consciously make these choices, but it seems to be the way we’re wired.
I intend to be as nice and courteous and empathetic toward others as their behavior makes it wise for me to be. I’m more loving and decent to others than I might have been when I was younger and more callous. But I’m not “nice.” Not in the way that phrase implies.
A man who wants to win in the world has to be dangerous, not nice.
I don’t mean that a man should be nasty or conniving or Machiavellian. But a man has to have a dangerous side — and others need to know that he could be dangerous if it’s required.
I know that I can be dangerous, but I choose not to be dangerous to others. Not to show them what I can do. At least not today. Not unless it’s required.
The self-proclaimed “nice guy” is never going to be dangerous to anyone except himself. He might be a very decent man. He might be loving and kind. He might serve a wonderful role in his community.
But he’s going to be a loser, as human societies define that. And if that’s what he is, he’s smarter to accept what he is — instead of whining that the women who are unattainable to him simply don’t understand how nice he is.
We humans like to see ourselves as civilized, but this is one of the brutal truths that are hidden just underneath the civilized veneer.