Being the “Nice Guy” Is a Problem

There are approximately 7.2 billion people on the planet. For the sake of posterity, let’s go ahead and split that number in half. That leaves 3.6 billion males, and 3.6 billion females. Now funnily enough, and realistically, these numbers are slightly skewed. The female population outweighs the male population by a margin of a few percentage points. Which means that females outnumber males. Which means your odds of finding someone that is meshable with your personality has a higher probability than a female finding a male who does.

So why haven’t you? Or how have you?

That’s the question we all ask ourselves right? And I am going to tell you a little story about why you haven’t, and for the guys that have – sit back, relax, and add your input as you see fit. Or don’t. I don’t give a shit.

A few weeks ago, I went to visit a college buddy in LA. Let’s call him Jeff. Jeff and I have been close friends since college, liking all the same shit, getting into too much debauchery every now and again. Usually involving too much tequila. And scaling to the nearest rooftop.

Anyway, Jeff and I like a lot of the same things. His obsessions and fandom go deeper than mine to be sure, but we both love a good comic or Star Wars story. So when Jeff invited me to an event in LA, essentially a fat party with a bunch of geeks dressed in cosplay and drinking, I jumped at the bit to take part. These sorts of events always have the best people watching and if I get to drink some whiskey while doing so, I’ll call that a successful night.

We get to this party fairly early, enjoying a few drinks downstairs before scaling the escalator to the rooftop bar. The place is jam packed, but we manage to find a standing table and I settle in for some good, old-fashioned, observation. There’s dozens of guys walking around, dressed as Boba Fett, various anime and manga characters I can’t name, and the occasional superhero. The girls are all dressed in the same fashion, walking around in groups of gals or clinging to their boyfriends’ arms, screaming “I’m taken” without saying a word. The single ones stood around, servicing a variety of guys’ conversation openers with the patience of saints, or chatting happily with the guys who caught their interest. It’s important to note that I was wearing no memorabilia that would betray my nerdy nature. I decided I didn’t necessarily want to blend into the crowd, and it’s always fun to fuck with the occasional person who thinks you can’t hang with the big boys based on the way you’re dressed. I’m easily entertained that way.

We spend a long while staring out into the crowd, laughing with the brave souls singing karaoke for the whole bar, and shooting the shit like we always do. At this point, I’m feeling the whiskey start to creep, and I’m feeling better with every passing minute. Jeff is feeling the same, and runs to the bar to grab some irresistible cheese balls and wings. Because, holy shit, cheese balls are incredible.

Naturally, as all human beings who live in the USA and are by themselves for longer than 12 seconds, I pull out my phone and sit on a nearby stool. Remember how I said I looked out of place? Well I must’ve looked like a disinterested baby deer in a pack of uniform-clad group of…possums? I have no idea. All I knew is I stuck out in the worst possible way.

I felt a soft tap on my shoulder and turn to see this cute female Hufflepuff staring at me with a concerned look on her face. Almost like how a cop used to look at you when you were a kid, wandering the suburban streets too late at night by yourself. Her first question, and the one that made me audibly chuckle: “Hey, are you ok?”

“Yeah of course. How are you?”

“Good, I’ve had a bit to drink, but you looked a little lonely.”

“Nah. My buddy is up at the bar. But thanks for checking in.”

“Yeah! Just want to make sure you’re having a good time!”

“Absolutely. The best. Have a great night.”

Hufflepuff!
Like this. But nicer.

She walked away. End of conversation. That’s when I decided to do what I do best and observe the people she was with. Want to know what I saw? Sure you do. I saw four or five angry looking geeks, scowling in my direction as she walked back over toward them, collapsing their costumed circle around her person as she sat back down, smothering the shit out of the Hufflepuff before she should whisper, “Accio booze. Accio as much booze as you can possibly give me.”

I talked it over with Jeff when he got back with those delicious cheese balls. There were even tater tots, so you know it was a party. Between handfuls of cheese balls Jeff and I talked about the hilarity of the situation. What did those guys think they were going to accomplish? Were they saving Little Red from the Big Bad Wolf? I’m sure they thought they were.

But guess what? Not 10 minutes later, Hufflepuff wanders back up, and we launch into a conversation, not a care in the world. And still, her posse stood nearby, silent and ever-watchful, and with every opportunity, showering compliments or strange acts of “chivalry,” literally carrying her away from Big Bad. Aka, me. Yet, here she came, wandering up and back toward us again, eventually confessing that she keeps visiting the table to, “avoid the creepers.”

The Creeper Epidemic

Creepers. Not my words, but hers. The nice guys, the “chivalrous” few, the ones showering her with compliments and attention, were now creepers. Eventually, she and I stayed together for the rest of the evening, chatting, dancing, kissing, before parting ways happily at the end.

This is the strange part. The part that really ground my gears down from vain amusement, to bafflement, to near anger. The creepers watched as Hufflepuff and I connected and still stuck around. They watched as she drifted toward us and still did everything in their power to win her back through faux niceties and compliment showers.

It wasn’t that they watched that irritated me, it was that I could see that their perception of their actions were that of the watchful protector. That because they stood and watched and waited that they were entitled to her time, her person, or even beyond, perhaps her heart. In their mind, they were the “nice guys,” so of course they deserved her time.

Wrong. Being a “nice guy,” especially in the modern, pop culture-ridden bastardization of the word, is a sickness.

Let’s back up here though. I’m not bashing the quality of being nice. As a matter of fact, I wholeheartedly believe that kindness is the quintessential quality for the world to run smoothly. However, I also wholeheartedly believe that you can be kind without being nice. Especially in the modern interpretation or usage of the word.

“Niceness” has evolved. I would argue even within our lifetime it has changed, adapted, and twisted into something that carries a negative connotation amongst many.

I can see you shaking your head. Maybe you don’t agree, maybe you’ve picked up what I mean and are nodding vigorously. Either way, there is truth that “nice” has evolved. And not for the better.

Don’t be “nice”

At some point in time, it meant exactly how the dictionary defines it: virtuous; respectable; decorous; agreeable; pleasant, the list goes on. In essence, it could be used synonymously with “kindness.” It meant holding open doors, donating to charity, loving your wife, being good to animals, kids, strangers, and projecting your goodness into the world through respect and quiet dignity.

As time has gone on, however, the word has manifested itself into something uglier. Now, the “nice guy” as he’s so called, uses this cover of traditional definition to conceal the true nature behind his actions: entitlement. He gives with the full expectation of reciprocation. He opens doors for a smile. He buys flowers for a kiss. He puts his card down on the dinner check for a one-night stand. The “nice guy” now operates with the sinister underpinnings of a person who believes he is entitled to a woman (or man), never giving without the expectation of a gift in return.

I guarantee either you or someone you know has said something along these lines:

“Well this is bullshit. I took her out to dinner and she said she wanted to be friends? Why? I’m a nice guy, what’s wrong with being with me?”

Or even cringier, and the worst of the worst:

“Milady. How about you dine with a nice guy like me?…No?…Well you’re a fat, ugly bitch anyway.”

What’s wrong with these two scenarios? The first one is easy: men often believe that money or the sacrifice of personal effects will lead to the inevitable romp in the sheets. The second one is trickier, but it falls along the lines of the nerd party story above. When “milady” originated it would refer to women of nobility or grace. Ergo – and correct me if you believe I’m wrong – it was intended as a title, and a compliment.

Oh and I just want to state the obvious just really quickly – don’t call women bitches. Especially one you’re trying to win over – that just makes you the dumbest of dumbasses.

I look up 'emotional anime' and the first thing that comes up is this x'D                                                                                                                                                                                 More
Looking at you, buddy.

Let’s circle back to that compliment shower we spoke about above. There’s a misconception that has plagued the dating world and traditional social circles in general, that introduction, flirting, or beyond has to be suave and complicated. That it’s an elaborate dance of sexual mental chess between two opponents like every, single one of James Bond’s interactions. That you need to come up with an earth-shattering, knee-shaking comment in order for a woman to interact with you.

Guys, the compliment shower isn’t necessary. Nor is it necessarily warranted, nor wanted.

Guys are shallow. It’s just how we are. When we get compliments on our appearance, we relish it. We’re visual creatures, and base a lot of our decisions about ourselves and our potential partners based on we/they look. Naturally, we believe that all people should feel the same, it’s part of the reason why verbal sexual harassment toward females is so rampant. So as the “nice guy,” most of them believe that saying, “wow, you look so beautiful tonight,” would evoke the same emotional response as it would if they were told that they are looking handsome.

Surprise! It doesn’t. Women are inundated with so many compliments on their appearance daily that hearing a “wow, you’re beautiful,” doesn’t cut it. So when you stand in the back, arms crossed, angry that the compliment shower that you’ve rained upon your potential prospect hasn’t made her panties drop immediately, you look like an ass. What you’ve perceived as “nice,” she’s perceived as routine. Everyone and their mother has called her beautiful, so what makes you special?

See the human, not an object

Step into her shoes for a moment, that’s all I ask. Don’t be a sniveling, entitled, cookie-cutter looking, blob person that’s looking  to get into the pants of every female that walks past you at the bar. Instead, try this revolutionary approach:

“Hi. I’m Joe. How’s your night?”

Holy shit. The simplicity, the grace, the humanistic opening. Wow. What’s a spectacle.

You’d be surprised by the response you get from being a human fucking being. And treating the other person as a human fucking being. There’s no entitlement, there’s no expectation, there’s no exchange of money or bodily fluids. There is only pure introduction, which is always the first step to a fruitful interaction.

No one owes you a damn thing. Just because you throw down money, just because you rain compliments upon a person, just because you wait on them hand and foot for a few hours doesn’t mean that you are owed their time or presence. No one owes you their time and respect even if you keep up the charade up for years.

Stop begging for it. Stop wasting time on being the “nice guy.” Start just being the guy who enjoys buying a drink for a friend. Start being the guy who likes talking to a girl at a bar to simply get to know her. Start being the guy who can go out to dinner with a human being and not expect them to hop in the sheets after you. Give your time, energy, and kindness to the people who you truly want to, and if someone doesn’t want your time, then it’s not worth your effort.

Remember: giving with expectation leads to entitlement, and if that entitlement leads to empty hands, you’ll inevitably feel a cold bitterness toward the person/thing you gave yourself or your possessions for. You’re better than the man who begs, or who stands in the corner and cries when he loses.

And if you’re not…well then best of fucking luck to you.

Throw Your Shoulders Back

As you probably gathered from the last entry, I’m a huge fan of superheroes. DC, Marvel, indie shit like Invincible, it doesn’t matter, I love it all. I’m also a massive fan of Star Wars and its affiliations – the stories of the extended adventures of Han and Chewie also gets my goose cookin’. Throw in a healthy mix of Greek and Norse mythology/history and hoo boy, you’ve got me against the ropes in terms of interest. I’m powerless against all of it.

By all accounts though, none of the aforementioned subjects are historically known as objects or subjects of complete sex appeal. Most women aren’t going to drool as you talk about that one time that Captain America was worthy enough to pick up Mjolnir. Or when Odysseus fired an arrow through axe heads to win his wife, kid, and throne back (trust me, I’ve tried, and have watched as the life left the poor girl’s eyes. Sometimes I dream that it was a violation of the 8th Amendment to put her through that verbal onslaught). I talked briefly about the danger of idolizing badasses in the last entry, and how it can negatively impact your opportunities for fruitful encounters in the dating game. Especially if it doesn’t mesh well with your personality.

However, this is one of those cases where idolizing a strong figure will always come in handy. Commonly taught (but rarely heeded), is the simple advice of straightening your back. No one has ever looked at a man or woman with shitty posture and said, “ooo stay that way, you’re looking hot!” Most of our favorite people, especially those we admire greatly, will either consciously or unconsciously hold themselves in “power poses.” Superman holds his shoulders back, and we all love standing like him. Clark Kent doesn’t hold his shoulders back, puts some glasses on, messes with his hair, and it’s considered a secret identity because no one would believe that Superman would have a rounded spine.

Image result for superman stance
Thanks for the demonstration, Chris!

Besides the medical reasons, aka not being a slave to a shitty back for the rest of your life, there’s a surprising amount of research that correlates posture to increases of attractiveness. And I’m not talking about peacocking – strutting your stuff like a walking romantic comedy jock asshole stereotype (here’s to you Kenny, ya dick). I’m talking about simply taking a moment, and being consciously aware of where your shoulders are.

The power of posture

Posture and being acutely aware of how it’s being held, is crucial to success in the social game. Not even necessarily for you becoming more attractive – which you will be, but more so because of how you and your brain behaves toward yourself when you stand straight.

There have been dozens of studies conducted over several decades that have confirmed the direct correlation between posture and confidence. These studies have also gone as far as showing that posture has a direct effect on mood. That a person who holds themselves upright will generally let negative comments slide off more easily, and let internal/external positive reinforcement manifest within themselves. People who slouch, biologically put themselves into a more “fetal position.” This is where they feel the most vulnerable, or can even feel worthless in extreme contexts.

So it’s no coincidence that standing straight like the Man of Steel will seriously improve your chances of finding – or even better – attracting your Lois Lane.

The gist is this: human beings have always had a complex associating power with height. The larger the stature, the more intimidating or powerful a person or a thing seems. Mammoths were scary because they were so large compared to our paleolithic brethren. Mice, not so much, considering we can boot one a solid 100 yards with a decent kick (don’t try this at home, kids). It’s evolutionary to believe the taller of the species is the one in charge, or the one that deserves to be. Standing with your shoulders back and spine straight will make you seem taller, and ergo, feeling stronger about yourself. It’s as simple as that.

Image result for empire state building
It’s why these are a thing.

Much like smiling, good posture is an instantaneous and barring a medical condition, an easy ass fix. It’s a constant work in progress, to be sure, but remind yourself of the importance of a straight back with even phone notifications, a post it note, or a tattoo on your forehead. Remember that positive posture begets positive emotions, which is a crucial component to social success.

You have a lot to offer, but you’re holding yourself back by believing that your negative aspects are the dominant ones. Start yourself on the right foot, stand up straight, and watch the confidence flow.

Making a person feeling good about you starts with you treating your own person as best you can. All the rest follows easily. So throw your shoulders back, stand straight, and own whatever room you walk into.

 

References:

Brinol, Pablo, et al. “Body Posture Effects on Self-Evaluation: A Self-Validation Approach.” European Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 39, 25 Feb. 2009, pp. 1053–1064., doi:10.1002/ejsp.607.

Elsesser, Kim. “Power Posing Is Back: Amy Cuddy Successfully Refutes Criticism.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 4 Apr. 2018, http://www.forbes.com/sites/kimelsesser/2018/04/03/power-posing-is-back-amy-cuddy-successfully-refutes-criticism/#7aa82aab3b8e.

The Intoxicating Power of a Smile

Picture the biggest badass you know. Who are you currently envisioning? Clint Eastwood? Jean Claude Van Damme? Logan? Bruce Wayne? Whoever it might be, I’m sure you’re drumming up a laundry list of characteristics that make you generalize said person into this “badass” category. Strong, hardened, sharpshooter, daredevil, sex machine, what have you – that person is ingrained in your brain as a certified, dick-kicking, hard ass.

Generally, especially males in particular, envision heroes or badasses as characters who are stoic, upright, vigilant, even possibly angry. Their furrowed brows and Greek statuesque qualities are the envy of men all over. What can we say? We’re cavemen at heart. And the strongest caveman wins. But here’s the issue. Most of the men listed above, and many of the men you probably drew up in your mind, have one thing in common – most don’t seem human. Maybe they even aren’t human. Whether it be through literal incapability to be happy, or you know, knives in your fist, they’re detached from what we perceive as human.

Image result for wolverine site:pinterest.com
Adamantium skeleton? Exception applies.

So stop acting like them.

I’ve noticed, particularly in the community of geeks who attend cons or costume parties often attempt to act as the people they dress as. They miss the mark once they get into costume. As much as we all hate to admit it, 99% of us aren’t badass vigilantes or secret agent sex gods. So when it comes to introducing ourselves to women at bars or our geeky gatherings, why do we adopt these personas when we clearly don’t fit the role? Why do we stand with our backs to the wall, pretending that our brooding moodiness is just enough Batman to attract our Catwoman?

This is even applicable to the guy who believes the suit will make the man, a tie doesn’t change much in the badass category.  Sure, maybe your confidence is increased in the three-piece, but what good is confidence if we don’t know what the first step should be down Confidence Lane? Hell, many of us may even judge the guy who lets it all go on the dance floor, acting like a goof, smiling like an idiot, looking like a…but what the shit is this? How does he have the girl??  It’s supposed to be me!! I’m the guy dressed like Tony Stark!

Funnily enough, it’s not rocket science, nor are there magical strings being played by the dancing guy. But there are a few steps that he’s probably taking to armor himself before doing battle with with impossible dragon that is “talking to a girl.”

Let’s start with a smile. This will be the helmet of your armor. And it’s easier than even putting a damn helmet on.

The Duchenne Smile

Smiling is as disarming as it is energizing. A genuine smile can serve as a great tool in any boardroom, a bar, and can even heard over the phone. It’s contagious, comforting, and inviting. A woman with a beautiful, genuine smile can turn a man’s legs to jelly. A man with a true, happy smile can make friends with anyone in the room and approach a woman with the grace of James Bond.

Social psychologists refer to this graceful, genuine smile as a “Duchenne smile,” which is aptly named after the French anatomist Guillaume Duchenne. Duchenne’s examining of the human emotional spectrum began years of study to see if a smile could truly have a social impact and unintentionally, a physical impact as well. It starts with the crinkling of the eyes, and can be most accurately seen when someone experiences something they love or something that brings true happiness. It’s automatic when seeing an old friend, the family dog, perhaps your mother or father, a sibling, or simply when you sit down to draw, write, or recreate your favorite song on guitar. Experience what you love, and you can truly flash the Duchenne smile.

Here’s the kicker – when you generate a Duchenne smile, you make others smile with you. You and other people can literally feel good because of your genuine expression. Try observing it the next time you follow a friend to watch their favorite band, when someone holds a puppy, when a mother picks up her baby, whatever. Watch them for that smile, and if you see it, I guarantee you will mirror that same happiness, if even for a moment.

Why so serious?

Back to the brooding. The largest takeaway here is this – smile, and see yourself become magnetic. Beyond the studies done by Duchenne and those in his wake, there are multiple studies on the benefits of smiling in attracting people, lifting others around you, and even improving your long-term chances at marital longevity and health. Ergo, enjoy what you enjoy with no apology (unless that shit hurts other people, then you may need to re-prioritize), and let if reflect on your features. Who cares if you’re dressed like Luke fucking Skywalker? Han Solo gets the girl anyway, and that dude smiles often and big.

Image result for han solo
Proof: Babe magnet.

When it comes to dating, or even meeting people in general, your genuine nature will attract more people to you, rather than your feeble attempt to fill a badasses’s shoes. You’ll never hear me say this again, but listen well – stop being Batman. Being the brooding protector of Gotham hasn’t been proven to increase your confidence, health, and have the same magnitude in the same way that a simple smile can. Plus, smiling most likely isn’t going to lead to a premature death via plummeting from an extreme height or you know…being stabbed.

So the next time you walk into the bar, and every gorgeous person you’ve ever dreamt of is in attendance, do me a simple favor – smile. Truly imagine your favorite moments, and project that sumbitch out to the world with those pearly whites and genuine eyes.

As far as first steps go to achieving some social success and dating clout, it’s a pretty easy fix.

 

References:

 

1. Durayappah-Harrison, Adoree. “What Science Has to Say About Genuine vs. Fake Smiles.” Psychology Today, 5 Jan. 2010, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/thriving101/201001/what-science-has-say-about-genuine-vs-fake-smiles.

2. Riggio, Ronald. “There’s Magic in Your Smile.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 25 June 2012, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile.

 

An Introduction

To start this whole thing, I can’t stop mulling over the concept of just doing anything. And doing it for the sake of it. And enjoying the doing. What I’m discovering as I word vomit all over this laptop, is that I kind of enjoy this shit.

I’ve never been a writer by any means. I think the closest I ever got was actually being a history teacher for a few short years before getting bored and moving on to the next thing. I loved the content creation, and I loved the simple act of answering questions with an open ear or two. But the classroom felt confining at times, and didn’t allow for as much expression as me or my students would’ve enjoyed.

I used to consider myself more of a creative person, however, when I was a teenager – I would often explore and romp through my town and the surrounding wilderness with a video camera and a few friends to film homemade action movies and other stupid shit. Beyond that, when I was a kid I would read comics, draw heroes, and glue myself in front of every movie or nerdy TV show that I could get my hands on. To be totally frank though, that hasn’t really stopped – my college notebooks are filled with more drawings of a perched Dark Knight than notes.

I’ve read and reread Greek and Norse mythology, I’ve torn through pages about witches, wizards, knights, gods, and goddesses every chance I got, and even tried my hand at my own story or two that that has included elements of all of these.

Spoiler alert: my dad found one and I was so embarrassed that he read it that I deleted the whole thing and nearly burned the family computer. Probably was the first time I almost considered vaulting off a cliff.  

Image result for poseidon
My main man. Jason Momoa (Poseidon).

I lovingly embraced the blossoming geeky culture, and showed it off whenever I could. But as far as writing goes, after the horrific incident of being discovered to be a J.R.R. Tolkein wannabe, I abandoned it all. It wasn’t until recently that I looked at this laptop, a blank page, and said “fuck it.”

So here I am, just doing. Giving this a shot, unapologetically thinking out loud and not really caring what other people think about it. If you like it, wonderful, glad we can share some views together. If you don’t, even better, I’m happy to try and make the writing better so no one’s eyes are bleeding.

But my thoughts are my own, my opinions the same. And while I am happy to share them, I’m hoping some of my past fuck-ups and little victories have actually lead to tangible, actionable steps that can help someone else avoid those same mistakes or experience those same tiny victories. Or that some of my thoughts actually make one guy or gal in the back nod once or twice.

Take all this with a grain of salt of course. I like to pretend I’m Thor every now and again (everyday), but as I’ve disappointedly found out, I’m pretty human. Which means I can be an idiot. Feel free to let me know whenever that happens.

Either way, I’ll just be here, just trucking along, and doing one new thing at a time.