Plato, Jesus, and Nice Guys Everywhere

Nice guys finish last. It’s a cliche for a reason, and in my experience it’s very true. Honestly, I have yet to date a woman who honestly wanted to be with a nice guy. I know lots of women who say they want a nice guy. Who say they want to be treated well, cared for, etc, etc, etc. However, show them a nice guy who will do all of those things and they’re gone within a month or two. Jobs often go to the people who are willing to be underhanded to get them. Money goes to the people who don’t care about others. Suffice it to say that our culture isn’t particularly kind to nice guys unless they also happen to be incredibly rich or incredibly handsome.

Of course, part of this is because there are a lot of people out there who put on the guise of a nice guy when they really aren’t particularly nice at all. Some of them are trying to be kind and caring, but are failing. Honestly, in the world we live in this is pretty understandable, not ok, but understandable. Some people pretend to be a nice guy, but actually have no intention of being nice. They use this guise to find victims for whatever their particular version of cruelty might be. Some of them use their disguise to lure women into bed, some of them use it to advance their careers, some of them use it to trick people out of money. Then there are people who actually are nice guys, some of the time, until something happens and they pull a Jekel and Hyde. Ultimately, I’m not convinced that anyone is just a nice guy. We all have issues, problems, struggles, insecurities, etc. We all have things that people will, and probably should, run away from… unless they’re willing to love us. Last week I wrote about about the nice guy with a chip on his shoulder (a.k.a. me). The post was then used in someone else’s post about how it’s pointless to be a nice guy in this world and we should all strive not to be nice guys.

Nice guys get a bad rap. They are often seen as weak or pathetic, clingy, needy, false-faced, and fake. The general perception seems to be that if a nice guy isn’t perfect in every way then he isn’t really a nice guy, he’s just a bastard waiting to happen. As I write this I’m looking at the ‘related content’ page and of the many posts there are exactly three that have anything positive to say about nice guys. That being said, honestly most of these posts (even one of the ones about how nice guys are good) don’t seem to have a particularly clear idea of what makes a nice guy. I know many other nice guys, like myself, have often been lost when trying to figure out what a nice guy actually is, and the standard often seems pointless (because no one seems to want them) or hopeless (because it’s unreachable). So, what does it mean to be a nice guy?

Both Christ and Plato (two very important thinkers, even if you don’t believe that Jesus was the incarnation of the second person of the Godhead) spoke of the privilege of the virtuous. In a world where the powerful, the cunning, and the ruthless are the ones most likely to succeed in most forums, both of these men called us to be better. To put aside the world’s definition of success and seek something higher. Christ called us to abandon the pleasures of this world and find insurpassable joy in him. Plato called us to pursue virtue before everything else and seek eudaimonia (or human fulfillment or flourishing). Neither of them promised that the person who did this would receive wealth, gorgeous women, or worldly success. However, both of them promised to lead their followers to joy despite the lack of these things.

This is the key. This is what being a nice guy really means. The nice guy is the guy who doesn’t need all the trappings of success to be satisfied. He is the guy who can meet with tragedy or triumph and treat them both the same. He is the guy who will put you first, not because he’s trying to get something, but because he doesn’t need to be first. Does this mean that he’ll be perfect? Of course not, none of us are, but it means that he’s trying. That everyday he’s trying to be better, to be virtuous, and to put other people before himself. It doesn’t mean that he’ll never be hurtful, but it does mean that he’ll apologize when he is. It doesn’t mean that he’ll never get angry, but it does mean that he’ll handle it as well as he can. It doesn’t mean that he’ll never get hurt, but it does mean that when he is hurt he’ll give the one who hurt him the chance to explain. Ultimately, being a nice guy means being a guy who honestly cares about others. Who is willing to pursue virtue in his life, and inspires virtue in the lives of others. The nice guy is the guy that may not be particularly noticeable, but who is there when you need him.

The thing is, it’s easy to walk away from him. When the nice guy gets rejected he doesn’t get angry and throw things, instead he gives a smile and a hug, and tells you that it’s okay. It’s easy to say no to him, because you can be confident that he won’t hate you afterwards. It’s easy to hurt him because he’ll be okay. It’s easy to forget about him because he’s not loud and obnoxious, telling you everything that you need to do to make him happy.

This doesn’t mean that he’s weak, or that he doesn’t need your attention. It means that he’s willing to put the needs of others before his own needs. If you find this guy, you should do the same. Ask him what he wants and what he needs from you. Show him that you care about him. Take the time and make the effort to take care of him as much as he takes care of you, and when you find his flaws don’t write him off. Instead love his flaws in the same way that he’s loved yours.

I can’t honestly say that I’ve always been this guy. There are times when I’ve been needy, clingy, possessive, angry, frustrated, etc. There are times when I’ve been hurt and unwilling to forgive, and there are times when I’ve been angry and not handled it particularly well. That being said, this is the guy that I’m trying to be, that I want to be, and I hope to find a woman who will help me become this guy, even as I help her become the woman that she wants to be.

That Little Chip the Size of the Moon

I’m the guy who’ll do your shopping for you. I’m the guy who’ll give you a massage when you’re tired. I’m the guy who’ll catch you when you fall, and I’m the guy who’ll make sure he’s on the bottom if we both fall. I’m the guy who opens doors, let’s you go first, and pays whenever he has the money. I’m the guy who will hold you when you cry, respect you even when he doesn’t want to, fight for you even when he thinks you’re wrong, but let you know what he thinks to. I’m the guy who’ll make dinner and clean up afterwards. I’m the guy who’ll wait ’til your ready for a first touch and a first kiss. I’m the guy who’ll buy flowers for no reason. I’m the guy who’ll text you in the morning to let you know I’m thinking of you. I’m the guy who’ll take the lead when everyone else is lost. I’m the guy who’ll apologize when I’ve screwed up, and the guy who’ll ask for your forgiveness when I’ve hurt you, even if I don’t think I should need to. I’m the guy who’ll forgive you when you ask, usually before. I’m the guy who won’t hold the past against you. I’m the guy who’ll love you even when you don’t deserve it. You say I’m not what you’re looking for? What’s wrong with you?

… Yeah, I know, it sounds pretty arrogant, doesn’t it? This popped into my head and it’s true… well, most of the time at least. I am all of those things and more. I was thinking about posting this on my facebook page, but my goodness it sounds so stuck-up. Proof that I’m also a jackass I guess. That being said, I think I’m fairly solid evidence for the saying that nice guys finish last. I am a genuinely nice and I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a girl tell me that I’m ‘just not what she’s looking for’.

I probably have a chip on my shoulder. Honestly, I think that’s what happens whenever someone has a repeated pain in their life. I’ve known lots of people with chips on their shoulders, and I have yet to find one who got rid of it on their own. We are all weak people and we all have pains that we can’t deal with on our own. It’s easy to assume that this pain is valid, that other people have done this to you, or that it represents the way the world ‘really is’. It’s easy to not even notice that the chip is there, and even when you do notice it, it’s very difficult to get rid of.

The chips that people carry around generally have a good reason, and they generally take a mixture of love, patience, and truth to heal. Until a person realizes their carrying around this thing that looks ridiculous to everyone else, there really isn’t anything that they can do about it. And even when they do realize it, changing the way you look at the world is incredibly hard, even when you have help. It’s that much harder when you’re trying to do it alone. It takes people, sometimes lots of people, of the right type and temperament to help lift that chip off of your shoulder and help you see the world the way it really is.

So, I am a genuinely nice guy, but I think I have a chip on my shoulder about it. I’m frustrated, even angry sometimes, especially when I see women choosing not-nice guys over me. Guys that treat them poorly, guys that are controlling, emotionally and physically abusive, or that demand sex at the earliest opportunity. Yeah, it makes me really mad, not just at the guys, but at the girls who choose them over me. I’m also simply frustrated with the consistent rejection that I’ve received from women. It’s hurtful, it’s frustrating, and it has created quite a chip on my shoulder. It’s also tempted me, many times, not to be a nice guy. Honestly, I’m happy that I haven’t done that. I’ve been a confused guy who didn’t know what I wanted, but I’ve never used a woman to make myself feel better. I hope I never do.