not so nice

A short while ago there was quite a bit of controversy over a Tumblr blog called “Nice Guys of OK Cupid” that shamed the so-called “nice guys” of the popular online dating web site for being clueless trolls. Many loved it. Others derided it as unfair because it targeted the emotionally clueless, already handicapped from getting proper dates, now up for public ridicule. The site has since gone defunct, but part of the reason why it struck such a chord with one group and a nerve with the other was the reality that there are some men – shy, painfully clueless, unfortunate types – who struggle to grasp signals and signs and believe sex and/or a girlfriend are luxuries and privileges, not Constitutional rights.

It’s about the pursuit of happiness. Nowhere are you promised the actual thing. Yet the frustration is real and comes from a place of tragic, misplaced entitlement.

Like, the other day a man said “hello” to me on Twitter. I didn’t immediately say hi back, so he wrote some diatribe about the “rudeness” of black women and how he had tried to be “nice.” So I blocked him because … why?  Nice people don’t flip out on strangers over shouting things on Twitter and not getting immediate responses.

But people having trouble adjusting to everything not being about them, of women not owing anyone attention just because you said “hello,” is very real.

Some still haven’t learned nothing is owed when you can’t buy it in the first place.

Society often treats women as if we are part of the marketplace, none too dissimilar from the latest model car or an expensive pair of designer sneakers. That we’re something or someone who can be had for a price – whether that price is actual currency or “niceness” treated like currency. It’s not that women don’t lament how the “hot” guy or the “rich” guy or whoever the “ideal” guy is is more fixated on looks and you’re too short/fat/plain/unsophisticated/whatever and he doesn’t see you. But the response is different. Men are supposed to have clear opinions on what they do and don’t want. Women are supposed to be passive actors who can be bought with stuffed animals and on-time child support payments.

But if you’ve ever interacted romantically with a woman, you know this is not true.

This idea that if you are “nice” to a woman – say hello, open a door, call her pretty – a man is entitled to time, attention, a phone number, a date, sex, whatever is woefully ridiculous as it presupposes women aren’t human beings, but products. That if you put in enough money or niceness tokens in them you can have the date you desire, but in no other part of your life this technique works. You don’t get the raise just for showing up at work every day. You don’t (or shouldn’t) try to buy friends. And friendship with someone of the opposite gender isn’t supposed to be a way station leading to friends-with-benefits-sex … unless that’s something you both want and agree upon.

It’s not guaranteed.

There are simply too many factors that come into play when talking about things like attraction, desire and romantic interest. There is no mathematical formula or method of give and take that will promise you a woman’s love. If she’s not interested she’s just not and interest is not “owed” out of kindness. Dating is not a marketplace even if we call it the “Meet market.”

There is no legal tender promising true love. And if you want a promise of sex in exchange for good, cash or services, there’s an entire sex industry for that.

I get why some men are reluctant to embrace this idea. It’s an excuse. Rather than deal with what’s going on inside, with what their issue is, they’ve projected it on the women around them. It’s easier to say “all women are crazy” or “all women want thugs or bad boys” or say “all men are cheaters” or “all men are assholes” than deal with the reality that love is hard to find, keep and come by. We feel powerless when we can’t get the love we want.

And some of us take that powerlessness and take it out on strangers they’re trying to screw on OK Cupid.

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