Let me tell you about the Nice Guy. He’s no one individual. The Nice Guy is everywhere. He’s your friend, he’s your acquaintance, he works with you. If anyone were to ask who the nicest guy you know is, you’d think of the Nice Guy immediately. The phrase ‘salt of the earth’ springs to mind when you think of him. He wouldn’t hurt a fly, the Nice Guy.
You’ve met the Nice Guy many times. When you’re running away from, or nursing the bruises from a Bad Boy, the Nice Guy finds you. He offers you a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen to your tales of woe, a kind word to cheer you up. He tells you you’re worth more. Perhaps there’s a story about the Nice Guy’s own heartbreak, it makes you lower your defences a little. The Nice Guy has been through the same as you, he could never treat you like the Bad Boy. He understands.
He’s tried to find out everything about you. He’s interested. When you’re talking about silly things like the songs you like, the Nice Guy actually listens to them and tells you he likes them too. He learns about your past, he sees you’re not as strong as you claim to be, he says he likes you, he says he doesn’t expect more, but he’d like it. You’re glad you’ve always been drawn to the Nice Guys. You pity those poor women who are attracted to Bad Boys.
The Nice Guy knows how much that means to you, the lack of expectation. He knows you worry about Bad Boys only wanting one thing. He promises you it won’t change things. He cares about you as a person, not what you can offer him. The Nice Guy doesn’t believe in playing games where he leaves you hanging, not knowing where you stand. He knows you’ve experienced that before and what impact it had on you. The Nice Guy just wants to be your friend. He wants to be there for you. You trust no one, but the Nice Guy thinks maybe you should trust a little. The Nice Guy can be trusted, he’s a Nice Guy after all and he’s not going anywhere. Promise.
The Nice Guy has a family, he has children, the Nice Guy has a daughter. The Nice Guy is a good dad. He thinks you’d get on well with his children. The Nice Guy has told them about you and they approve, but he doesn’t expect anything more. He just wants to be a friend. You don’t get rid of him that easily. You consider breaking your own rule and seriously think about meeting up with him.
You’ve had your first disagreement with the Nice Guy, he’s disappeared. You worry about him and check he’s alright. The Nice Guy appreciates it. He feels bad about what he did. He won’t make the same mistake again. He says he knows now how to be a better friend to you next time. You hate silence, he knows that now. Got it. Won’t happen again.
It happens again. You believe it won’t last, the Nice Guy told you so last time. The Nice Guy will be there. He’s promised not to walk away. He told you several times. You’re so confident he meant it, you tell people how nice he is even though you’re not speaking. He cares. He’s a Nice Guy, he wouldn’t lie to you.
Image via anamorphosis-and-isolate.tumblr.com from the film ‘About Time’
It’s been a week. No word from the Nice Guy. You accept you won’t hear from him again. You tell him to leave you alone, knowing he already has. It’s as you suspected, he was only interested while it was easy. You made it easy for him. You were the first one to show an interest in him. It’s not fun anymore, with disagreements and hurt feelings and no opportunity for him to take things further. It’s an effort. The Nice Guy doesn’t *do* effort without rewards. Friendship comes at a price.
You don’t want to look stupid, you don’t want to cause trouble, you say nothing. You’re not sure you’d be believed anyway. You certainly wouldn’t have believed it if someone else had said the same. Everybody loves the Nice Guy. Who would believe you anyway?
The Nice Guy has been talking. You find out when a friend stops speaking to you. You start to feel paranoid about what’s been said. Innocent messages feel like they’re aimed at you. The Nice Guy was your friend. You spoke about everything and everyone. You trusted him. You get angry and upset, but you don’t name names. You sense some people backing off. You’re not sure who knows what. He’s telling them it all went wrong and he can’t fix it. You know he hasn’t even tried. People tell you he’s upset, but only you know the truth and you also know who everyone will believe.
Others have found out, so the Nice Guy makes a token gesture that’s passed on to you, a gesture that could’ve been done privately, but then others wouldn’t know how nice the Nice Guy is. He sounds sincere, but he wants to meet you, something he knows you’re uncomfortable with at the best of times, but seems unthinkable to you under these circumstances. Is it an ultimatum? Your instinct is to pass a message back saying no, but you can’t leave him waiting there and you feel you owe him a chance and an explanation.
Alone, the Nice Guy is different. He shrugs his shoulders and repeats it’s too late. You tell him everything that’s hurt you, he has no defence. He has no fight, he’s just another guy, saying things because he can. In all this time, several important things happen in your life. The Nice Guy doesn’t once ask if you’re alright. Relative strangers by comparison, find new ways to get in touch with you when you go off the radar, to check that you’re OK.
You ask for answers. You ask again, after some more time has passed, this time for closure, because you know this can’t be fixed. He says there was nothing he could have done and isn’t it enough that he’s hurting too? You don’t believe him and it isn’t true. There was plenty he could’ve done, he just didn’t want to. He made no move to try to sort things out. It’s all about his hurt pride and dented ego. You ask him how he’d feel if someone treated his children like this. The Nice Guy doesn’t believe hypothetical scenarios are helpful. He knows how he feels, that’s enough. There’s no mention of your feelings.
He’s past the point of caring, you’ve seen it in others when the shutters come down and nothing you say can change the fact that they don’t care about your feelings, it was never about that. He wasn’t thinking with his head when he told you what you wanted to hear in order to get what he wanted. This is why he was so easygoing, laid back and devoid of passion. You’re frightened by the change in him. You don’t know him. The compassion has gone and you feel like you’re barely being tolerated. Your judgement has let you down again.
His tone has changed, all the warmth of the last few months gone, along with the two things he said he admired about you, morals and a conscience. His words are careful. “I should have.” “You wouldn’t believe me anyway.” The subtext is ‘So I didn’t bother’, but all you hear in your head is “He didn’t want to. He had a choice and he didn’t want to.” You want him to be honest for once. To admit none of it was real, but he doesn’t. You ask why you? He struggles to answer, eventually saying something about you being engaging? But he’s asking, not telling. He doesn’t know, but you do. It’s because you just happened to be there.
His tone says he played you and you need to get over it because he’s bored. He’s getting impatient now. Hasn’t he said sorry several times already? His icy demeanour says there’s no point in going around in circles and dragging things out. It’s done. These things happen. Move along now, 2 whole weeks have passed. The Nice Guy has moved on. He denies it, but you know the signs and he doesn’t try very hard to hide them. You remember him saying he’d be better with the next person to show an interest in him, because he’d learned from this. Even the Bad Boys were never this ruthless, this quickly, to your face. He’s started to betray your confidence now. Things you told him in private have been shared with others. You could do the same, but choose not to. What would be the point? He repeats once again that there was nothing he could’ve done. You both know this isn’t true. You ask him to stop. He does.
You go on the internet. You say beware of the Nice Guy. All the Nice Guys tell you not all Nice Guys are like that. You give up and remove the Nice Guy from your phone and your life, to stop the temptation of repeatedly asking “Why me?” This is a good sign. It shows you’re stronger now. You don’t have feelings for the Nice Guy, but playing with your trust like this feels like a betrayal and a heartbreak of sorts. You get the feeling your reaction only serves to boost the Nice Guy’s ego. His sense of entitlement means his needs will always come first and a less than heartfelt apology will mean he’s done his bit and no further action will be necessary for nearly 5 months of lies because he’s otherwise distracted now, by the next conquest. You are a fool.
You think back to all the signs you missed. The giving and withdrawing of affection. The suggestion of more, then backing off. The initial forwardness followed by nothing for weeks, to the point where you thought you’d imagined it. You always put it down to shyness and nerves. Whilse confusing, it was never a problem because you believed he cared about you as a friend, a close friend, maybe even a best friend. After all, who would use their children to get you onside for anything othef than the best of intentions? Who would even mention love in passing if they didn’t mean it?
It’s time now to mentally put this episode in a box, stick on a label that says ‘Experience’ and bury it. Perhaps the lines between the Nice Guy and the Bad Boy are blurred or maybe, just maybe, the latter is more honest. You know that even in future, the Nice Guy will jump on any bandwagon about treating women with respect. You know he will retweet about being kind to people, share thoughts on how it isn’t difficult to be nice, ‘don’t be a cunt,’ knowing that it’s only meant conversationally and not in how he treats others. He was vocal on International Women’s Day. He stands up for women’s rights. He is a Nice Guy.
You return after a break, feeling refreshed. You’re ready to put things behind you and move on. After all, people have disagreements all the time. YOU have disagreements all the time. They’re not the end of the world. Almost immediately you see threads of conversations where some of the messages are missing. Out of curiosity, you check why that is. You find out you’ve been blocked by several people. You start to feel paranoid. Blocks from locked accounts, people whispering about you. You no longer know what’s been said and to whom. Everything starts to feel loaded, every comment feels like it’s about you, you sense or maybe imagine people backing off, you hate that they feel uncomfortable or caught in the middle. All because one man couldn’t take no for an answer without punishing you for it. And he’ll still be there, with women on his side, talking about being kind to others, while you distance yourself from people to stop them feeling torn. Or maybe they distance themselves from you. Everyone looks the other way. Nobody wants to take sides. Not yours anyway.
You don’t want to be there anymore, but you stay. You stay because you know it’s not acceptable for someone to treat you like this because they didn’t get what they wanted. You stay because despite having fallen out with people countless times, you’ve never encouraged others to get involved. You stay because you know it’s sexism that suggests women are here to please men or women owe something to the Nice Guy for being nice. You stay because this happens to women every single day and it has to stop. Women being driven off social media for saying no. Women losing their jobs for saying no. Women being torn apart in the media for saying no. Women being punished for not wanting to date someone is unnacceptable. Women should not have to worry about the consequences of saying no. Being a Nice Guy does not give you the right to expect something in return. That’s why you stay and you continue to stay with your head held high and actually, it starts to get easier even before bigger events render it insignificant.
The format of this post may have been inspired by this far superior blog, I’ve just realised. http://putupwithrain.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/blameonenotall.html