Honestly, I am not a fan of the phrase “Nice Guy” denoting “entitled little whineries who think the nice things they do for their female friends should be considered transactions for make sexy times.” While I love the irony and understand the need for shorthand, after a while it gets overwhelming to discern “Nice Guys” from “sincere guys” and “guys who are actually pretty good folks, but slip up and make huge mistakes sometimes because they’re people too.” Especially in spoken conversation.
All the same, though, the whole issue is well worth reading about, because it involves an attitude toxic to humanity that needs curbing. Here are some more detailed explorations of the topic…
With all the variances in human behaviors and motivations and margins for well-meaning-but-wrongly-executed error out there, I can understand how people sometimes find themselves living in a shotgun shack exhausted over the whole “Nice Guy” thing.
Also, pardon my heteronormativity here. I acknowledge that the phenomenon occurs across different situations, perpetuated by individuals of every gender, gender identity, and sexual preference. “Nice Guys,” however, appear to be predominantly endemic to heterosexual arrangements, with the male considering himself entitled to the female. For simplicity’s sake, that is how I choose to frame the discussion.
But basically, it all comes down to this…
This is what your female friends do not owe you:
As feminist porn star Aeryn Walker (link NSFW) points out, “‘Friendzoning’ is bullshit because ‘Girls are not machines that you put Kindness Coins into until sex falls out.’” Friendship isn’t about transactions. It’s about doing what you do because you genuinely care about the other person and enjoy spending time with them.
- Just one date, c’mon!
Nor do they owe you “a little time to at least think about it.” Again, just because you do nice things for them and maybe trash-talk the men they dig and find confusing so you puff yourself up, that doesn’t mean they’re obligated to date you at any point.
- A show.
Some women like kissing other women. Sometimes they like kissing other women in public. Sometimes they like doing other things to women. Sometimes they like doing other things to women in public. They don’t have to let you watch, and they don’t have to “perform” on your command. If they want to let you in on it from time to time, that’s their prerogative. But if they come to that decision, they come to that autonomously and for their own personal reasons. They are not obligated to provide as “a reward for good behavior.”
The same sentiment applies to body parts. If she isn’t comfortable flashing you, she isn’t comfortable flashing you. Honor that boundary.
- Love (romantic).
Ties back into sex and dating. Good deeds performed merely as tools of manipulation are not good deeds at all. If you think the proper formula to landing a woman involves behaving like some obsessed, socially-stunted rom-com creepazoid, enjoy jail.
- Access to information she doesn’t feel comfortable sharing.
Unless there’s an actual emergency unfolding and you absolutely need to know as much as you can to ensure everyone’s health and safety…what she wants to keep private, stays private. Admittedly, asking questions is sometimes the only way to gauge boundaries within friendships. But you are not owed an answer if she doesn’t want to give you one. Especially if what you want to know are facts about her lady bits.
- Access to her body.
Unless you absolutely know you have consent, don’t grope your female friends. They hold exclusive rights over decision regarding who touches what at which given point. Nobody else.
Here’s the thing. In the States, one out of every six women experiences either an attempted or a completed rape. The likelihood of you knowing a survivor at some point in your life is tragically high. You can’t just assume it’s permissible to grab her T or her A or her both, because if you act all entitled and “just go for it man YOLO LOLOLOL,” you could very well trigger a panic attack, flashback, or other serious emotional and/or physiological reaction.
But this is what your female friends do, in fact, owe you:
Rejection is not an inherently disrespectful concept. The mechanisms through which rejection might occur can be disrespectful, however. It’s the difference between, “I’m sorry. I don’t think of you as more than a friend.” and “HA! Why the HELL would I EVER go out with YOU?! Ugh!” Everyone ought to be treated respectfully…until they present valid reasons to have that respect invalidated, anyways, but that’s delving into a different ethical discussion altogether.
Unless you’re a lousy little face-punch worthy jerkface, anyways. But even then, it’s usually within your victims’ best interest to ignore you outright rather than go for the retaliation-through-humiliation route. Usually that sort of thing only works in wacky ‘80s movies.
Deliberate lies and manipulation are both pretty valid reasons to sever a friendship.
- Love (platonic).
Here’s the thing about how friendship works. You give kindness, empathy, and compassion to someone you care about when they need it. True friends who care about you return these gestures by doing the same whenever they’re called upon to do so. Or at least showing support if extenuating circumstances prevent them from delivering. What kind of person complains when they give niceness and receive niceness back?
- Delivery of explicit promises.
She might allow you into her big heart and treat you with the utmost niceness, but that does not implicitly promise you bouncy bedroom fun-fun times. That promises you friendship. Nothing more than that.
But if she explicitly promises something like acting as the designated driver at a party and decides to get tanked instead, that’s a perfectly legitimate reason to feel angry with her. You are owed what she outright says she will give. Especially when it comes to your…
Likewise, a real friend will never intentionally place you in potentially harmful, uncomfortable, or dangerous situations. Without your consent, anyways…you’re the one who has to sign the release forms before skydiving, after all. You’re expected to respect your female friends’ boundaries, but they should be expected to respect yours as well.
What “Nice Guy” detractors ultimately try to say is…if you would not ask it of your male friends, don’t ask it of your female friends. I guess if you would demand the first list of both sets and throw a tantrum when life pulls a life on you and doesn’t unfurl exactly as you desire, then you’re still a narcissistic, selfish piece of shit…but at least you’re a narcissistic, selfish piece of shit in the most equitable fashion possible.