So, Sasha touched on this a few days ago, but it’s time to touch on this again. And we’re going to keep touching on this until people learn. I’m patient.

The most insidious form of douchebag is the Misunderstood Douchebag. You know the type: he’s really not that bad, people just don’t understand his ways. If only people got that what he was doing was noble and not at all in the blind pursuit of getting into girls’ pants, the world would be a much fairer place. The Misunderstood Douchebag is the genus of the species Nice Guytm.

What set me off was this:

Normally, I'd discuss his data collection, but really, the whole chart implies "I'm a douche"

You see, children, there is a subfaction of people who think a number of incorrect things, all of them leading to each other. They seem to believe:

  1. Being nice to girls is automatically physically attractive.
  2. Listening to girls is payment for sex
  3. Girls have no judgement of their own, therefore…
  4. Nice Guystm will never get laid despite all the work they put into it and girls just don’t notice how hot puppy dogs are.

The thing is, there are a lot of people out there that are nice guys, really and genuinely. And then there are Nice Guystm  who are nice to attractive women because they’re so in love, and it’s so pure that their manipulative attempts to get these women into bed don’t really count as wrong.

Listen, I’ve been there. I used to have that same self-defeating, martyr-complex attitude of “women always want the bad boy no matter how much they say they want a nice guy, because if they really did want a nice guy, I’m right here.” The thing is, it’s not accurate, and is only there to give an excuse that simultaneously absolves you of the shame of not having sex (BTW, there’s no shame in not having sex) and makes you seem noble by comparison.

We’ve covered this time and time again. Unlike a lot of posts, though, I’m here to tell all you Nice Guystm  out there that there’s hope. I used to be one of you, but I escaped. There are ways to get out of this particular hole you’ve dug for yourselves, and I’m here to point them out. Actually doing them is up to you, but I promise that while this may not help you find a woman to love and care about that returns those feelings, it will make you a better person, which increases the odds of that happening by about 7,003 times (my math is incalculable).

This happens more often than I'd like to admit.

First, realize the following things. Before you can do anything positive, you have to get out of the mindset that predicates this particular form of douchebaggery.

1. You are not entitled to sex. How many long nights of listening to a woman complain about her boyfriend equals a blow job? If your answer is anything other than “trick question,” you’re answering wrong. No amount of listening, comforting, advice giving, or chick flick watching is equivalent to any sex act. Not even a hand job. Not even a kiss. Nothing that you do entitles you to sex of any kind and in any way, so stop thinking that it does. They have people for whom payment for sex is an option. We call them “sex workers” and I wouldn’t recommend acting like a jerk to them either.

2. You’re not being a friend if acting friendly is an attempt to form a romantic relationship. I hate to break it to you, but if you examine your motives, I’ll put dollars to doughnuts that the reason why you maintain this friendship with this particular woman is that you’re always hoping that she’ll come around and see you for the amazing guy that you are. You may not have even realized it because you’ve built a mythology in your head of how this fairy tale romance grows, so anything that you’re doing is just being dictated by your emotions and the glorious story you’ll tell your great grandkids from the terminal your brains have been uploaded into after your bodies died.

This is where you take a moment and realize that being kind with an ulterior motive is not being kind at all. Stop playing the rising music movie scene in your head so that it’s easier to hear what’s being said by the person you claim is your friend.

3. Women are not all the same. Realizing this is an important step in being a really good person, especially where women are concerned. All women do not like bad boys. All women do not reject nice guys. All women don’t do anything. Not even menstruate. Not even live, really. When you start your inner monologue with, “girls always want…” anything, you’re immediately dehumanizing her. Women are like any other human being: complex, multifaceted, with a range of thoughts and emotions that affect the decisions they make. They don’t “always” or “never” want anything. Try thinking of women as people.

Notice how they all look different? They all think different, too. And not just different from you.

4. You are not the cure to all of her ills. I know you paradoxically think you’re the underdog and the best guy ever to live, but you may not be just the guy that the object of your affection needs. It’s easy to believe that because it’s what you want to be true, but she’s not going to take up an interest in your interests that she’s never shown before just because she sees how awesome you are. Similarly, she’s not going to be attracted to you when she wasn’t before. And if she is, she’ll let you know, and no amount of hint dropping on your part is going to change that.

5. If a woman is making bad decisions, it’s not an offshoot of not being with you.  So, yes, some women date assholes. Some seem to be attracted to assholes because the guys they date always treat them poorly. Like any other human being, they might make bad decisions. Their bad decision, however, was not “not dating me.” As a friend, it’s your job to point out these decisions honestly, try be kind but firm, and to be objective. Keep in mind that you’re only hearing one side of the story, too, and it’s human nature to tell things in such a way to absolve themselves while placing blame on other parties. Take yourself out of the situation and realize that her problems wouldn’t be solved simply by dating you.

So, now that we’ve covered the errors in your thinking, let’s discuss positive steps you can take.

Step 1: Stop pretending to listen and actually listen. There is a fine line between listening and “listening,” and it’s one that happens between your ears. When you’re “listening,” you have an internal monologue running that says things like, “I would never do that to her,” “why doesn’t she want me?” and “why doesn’t she see how much better I am?” This also applies to good stories, and the wonderful things done by boyfriends become things that aren’t quite good enough, that you could improve on, etc. When you’re doing that, you’re not listening, you’re proving to yourself how wonderful you are.

The way to really listen is to pay attention to the words being spoken and not compare yourself to anybody in the story. Stop looking for a way to express how amazing you’d be. Listen and give honest advice, even if it doesn’t benefit you. And on that same note…

Step 2: Actually be a friend. I don’t ever, ever want to hear “friendzoning” ever again. First of all, it’s a terrible word, an awkward verb, and will one day be shortened to “frezening” which is atrocious. Don’t believe me? How do you think we got “goodbye“? Don’t do that to my language.

Moreover, this implies that there’s something wrong with being friends with a girl, as if you got the loser consolation prize while Pecks McFucksalot gets the sexins. If that’s your attitude, then leave that friendship now because you don’t deserve it. Women make incredible friends when you actually try to be friendly. They can give you an alternative perspective, they can be there for you, they can do everything a guy friend can, really.

You know what else they can do? Listen to you vent your frustrations and help you find solutions. That’s not a one-way street, you know, and all those things you complain about on the internet can just as easily be said to your friend, the woman, who might be able to offer you specific advice about how to approach other women who may be attracted to you, who can help build your confidence the way you think you’re building hers, and who can generally be the kind of person you pretend to be to get into her pants. She also might know other women who are looking for nice guys and be willing to introduce you to ones you might get along with, though please don’t go in with this attitude.

Also, I no longer have to see passive-aggressive pie charts about how being nice is what your problem is. I consider that a huge improvement.

Step 3: Stop trying to get laid. Sex is great. We all know this. We all like sex. Stop chasing after it whenever you’re in the same room as the object of your affection. She’s not an idiot, she knows how you feel, she can tell when you’re staring at her breasts, and it comes off as creepy. Don’t do it. Just be cool. Hang out. Be a friend, not just some guy who is too afraid to be rejected so he tries to get her to make the first move. So long as your objective is sex, you will fail to get it, not because “women are only attracted to the challenge,” but because always looking for sex without saying anything is creepy as hell.

This is the subtext of every conversation you're having. Stop it.

Step 4: Be confident and sincere. This is sort of an offshoot of steps 2 and 3. I’m going to share a hard truth with you: this is not the girl of your dreams. Please absorb the wisdom of Tim Minchin. This is not the one person for you, this is not your soul mate, this is not everything you’ve ever wanted in a human being. One way you can tell: she doesn’t want to be with you, which I guess is a requirement for “perfection.”

Instead of pinning your hopes and dreams on one person, sure that if you can only say and do the right things she’ll fall madly in love with you, consider instead that this is one person among many and her friendship is worth your time even if she never realizes how amazing you are as a romantic partner. There are lots and lots of people out there and if this isn’t the person for you, then you need to have the confidence to keep looking.

But even more than just believing that you’re not some sort of social reject who is incapable of finding another person, be sincere. Don’t try to hide your emotions, be up front about them, and avoid melodrama. You won’t always get the answers you want, but you will come across as more human, more real. Again, this relates back to the idea that if you have a woman friend, she can just as easily listen to you complain about your lack of relationships and offer advice and sympathy, even if she doesn’t want to be the person you end up with. In fact, part of a friendship is often trusting your friends to listen to you and not be offended by what you say. It’s more friendly to share and be honest than to be some sort of pillar of strength that never has problems but always listens to everybody else’s.

Sincerity and confidence go a long way with any human being, man or woman. There is nothing wrong with being honest, and there’s something appealing about somebody who feels secure enough to show that honesty.


Those are just a few suggestions, but they’ll go a long way toward helping make you less of a creepy jerk and more of an actually nice guy. The thing is, when somebody says, “nice guys always finish last,” they’re kind of right. Nice Guystm do and should finish last. They’re manipulative jerks who think that niceness is a means to an end. They don’t appreciate their friendships, treating them as burdens imposed by women who are too stupid to understand how great the   Nice Guytm  really is and also too dumb to notice the pining, staring, and wistful sighs.

However nice guys, genuinely good men who treat women with respect and don’t expect anything other than friendship from their friends, can do very well. Even if none of their friendships ever becomes romantic, they still have a ton of great friendships, and that’s a wonderful thing. It’s not settling, it’s a whole new category of awesome.

So take the time to really think about yourself. Nothing is so difficult as self-realization, but you may find out that you’ve been doing this stuff without even noticing. Or maybe your friend has, at which point I suggest sharing with him this witty and pointed article. Regardless, you don’t have to be a douche. You can be a really great person who anybody would be proud to have as a friend, but it requires that you stop seeing friendships with women as some sort of stepping stone into her bed.


Kaoru is a complex beast. There is both too much and too little to say. “Kinky bisexual atheist feminist geek” just doesn’t seem to cover it. I hope to change small parts of the world with judicious application of sarcasm and reason. Feel free to follow me on Twitter or Google Plus for updates and random commentary. Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on Reasonable Conversation.

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DavrosLivesFebruary 15, 2012 6:33 pm

Excellent post. I had a similar reaction to that exact same picture. Though my only response (because I didn’t want to start a thing) was that perhaps they were single because they designed pie graphs about why they were single.

I HATE the Nice Guy meme. I have sympathy for the “friend zone” concept in general, but I think it is wildly misused. There have been females I was interested in, but they weren’t interested in me. That sucks, but we were still friends, and I enjoyed the friendship. Technically, then, I was “friend zoned”, but all that means, translated, was that this particular person liked me, but didn’t LIKE LIKE me (to go all middle-school). That’s all. There are other people. It’s not the end of the world. It just didn’t work. We’re still friends. C’est la vie.

Kaoru Negisa February 16 2012 07:12 am

First, let me express my shock that you were unaware that pie charts are, in fact, the sexiest graphical representation of data and it's known the world over that ladies love them. %)

To an extent I have sympathy for the friend zone idea, but only to an extent. The first is that there's the underlying assumption that it's a bad thing, as if the nature of friendship is automatically inferior to the nature of sex, which I think is part of what you were saying.

The other reason is that you can have sex with your friends. You can date your friends. I hesitate to say this because I don't want people to think "Oh, I guess that means I still have a shot." The difference is between being a friend and sex or romance actually happening (on the occasions it's happened to me I've been genuinely surprised every time), and waiting around for your friends to have sex with you. You miss out on actually enjoying the friendships when you do the latter.

Friends may one day be romantic or intimate partners, and the idea that there's this place where that's impossible is kinda a euphemism for "I'm not interested in you." Unfortunately, women who say, "You're just too good of a friend," rather than, "I'm not interested in you" in order to spare their friend's feelings aren't actually doing that guy any favors. They're just convincing him that there's a mystical area of the brain, The Friend Zone, where awkward male sexual fantasies go to die.

kristycatFebruary 15, 2012 10:10 pm

Kaoru, I have to say, as one of the genuinely nicest people I know, as well as easily one of the sexiest, you’re pretty much the perfect person to dispel the Nice Guy myth!

Even more than the “feigning friendship to get into someone’s pants,” the idea that refraining from being a douche = being desirable kinda bugs me. It’s an entitlement thing – like, “I’m here, I haven’t done anything too terrible, that means I should get a relationship, right?” Uh… no. You have to actually bring something to the table other than a lack of asshattery. I don’t necessarily mean good looks or money or any of those typical things, but SOMETHING. Be funny. Be smart. Think of fun things to do. Be surprising. Be someone who the girl you want actually WANTS to be around – someone who makes her life better, not just someone who manages not to make her life worse.

Because I’ve had guys pursue me who had nothing else to offer besides “I’m nice.” And even as a lonely, insecure teenager convinced that no one would ever love me or find me attractive… no. Didn’t really do it for me.

(Which also reminds me – guys. I know how shitty it is to have a thing for someone who doesn’t thing back. I know first-hand. I know how it feels to watch and wait and hope that maybe one day they’ll stop dating people who are terrible for them and realize that you’re The One. But, uh. I also remember the day when it finally became crystal clear that that was never, ever going to happen. I cried. And then I moved on. And I STAYED GOOD FRIENDS WITH THE GUY, because our friendship was a good and worthwhile thing in its own right even if it never led to romance and sexytimes! And to this day, I’ve never regretted that. Think about it. Please. For your female friends’ sakes.)

Kaoru Negisa February 16 2012 07:26 am

First, thank you very much on both counts. The feeling is absolutely mutual.

The thing is, I used to be a Nice Guy(TM). Ask the girl who I lost my virginity to. When we broke up, I was absolutely heartbroken and used to do all sorts of douchey, manipulative bullshit to try and get her back. I was convinced that what I was doing was right, it was just like in the movies, I was so in love, she's the only one, etc., etc., etc. And it's taken me years to be able to look back on that and realize what an awful, manipulative jerk I was being. On the other hand, I think it means that people who are doing it now have a chance of not being such assholes.

I think you hit on something important. The idea that being nice somehow makes a person sexually worthy is really out of whack when you think about it. Putting it into slightly different terms: "I think you should sleep with me because I consistently act how we expect human beings act at the very minimum."

Just being nice should be the standard, not some amazing thing. You don't go to a job interview ready to tout your ability to be stunningly minimal in your job performance, able and ready to accomplish just enough to not get fired. You present yourself as the greatest thing ever, with a range of skills and knowledge that could be useful in a number of situations, all with the goal of making the company more successful.

...reading that back, I thought it was a pretty good metaphor. Then I realized that it was at the very least inspired by Isaac Asimov, and that explained why it was.

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