Monday, May 19, 2008

Revisiting: The Submissive Male Construct and Nice Guys

Several days ago I posted an essay The Submissive Male Construct and Nice Guys and recently received a very nice comment related to the essay that I felt was well worth sharing and discussing. The author of the comment, remained anonymous, so I felt comfortable posting the comment here in its entirety because I think the writer makes some excellent points.

“This is such an interesting post. I can definitely emphasize with your frustrations. But, I also understand where your friend is coming from.

I do think that women want nice men, but I also think that many men who describe themselves as nice are actually engaging in a form of emotional blackmail.

There is a difference between nice and codependent. A lot of the behaviors you describe (the sucking up, the insincere compliments, the clinginess) are really designed to put the other person in a sort of emotional debt, which the "nice" guy will later try to collect with interest.

It's a horrible situation to be in, because you either immediately have to reject the niceness and be a bitch, or later you are labeled as a user for not, say, sleeping with a guy after he has carried your groceries to your car. Is this really "nice" behavior?

Interestingly, women who go out with bad boys often play this "nice guy" role, and try to trap the bad boy with emotional debts.

Anyway, there's nice and there's "nice," just like there are sincere and insincere submissives.”

While I don’t know this for certain of course, I assume from the content of the comment that it was written by a female reader. But whether the writer was female or male, I found this comment to be very instructive and I very much appreciated being given insight, really for the first time that explained something I have never really been able to understand before. The writer did such a superb job in my estimation of explaining why some women are hesitant to engage in relationships with “nice guys” because past experience had shown them that sometimes at least, the “nice guys” are only nice in an illusionary way rather than a sincere way. Certainly it registers with me that a woman would not at all be enamored by a man who was clingy, and that sucked up by offering insincere flattery disguised as “emotional blackmail” with the intent of achieving satisfaction of his own agenda by making the woman feel that she was in his debt so to speak and owed him something in return.

When you get right down to the heart of the matter, no one owes anyone anything in a relationship beyond complete and total honesty. If that is given then everything else I think pretty easily and naturally falls into place. And what this writer described was an utter absence of emotional honesty on the part of men who would treat a woman in this rather distasteful manner. Certainly it is very easy for me to say this, but I will say it anyway, I do consider myself to be a “nice guy” and when I offer to do something for a woman, I do so with no expectation of getting something in return. And when I choose to offer her compliments, the compliments are always sincere and heartfelt. A part of this of course relates to the fact that I am a submissive man, and being a pleaser is an inherent and innate part of my submissive nature. The strokes, or benefits I take away from this are quite candidly the fact that pleasing a woman is what gives me pleasure. A very gifted woman who writes a blog I enjoy reading regularly, has recently written two very insightful essays on the topic of “entitlement”. I really think the thoughts shared by the person who posted this comment certainly do describe that very thing. Some men do of course have a sense of entitlement when it comes to women so much so in fact that there are lots of men who believe that if a woman is merely friendly towards them or smiles at them, they assume immediately that she wants to sleep with them. Also, as the writer pointed out, many men who project themselves as “nice guys” have expectations for having their own needs met in return for proffering a favor or compliment and when they don’t get it, they do put women in a difficult spot of being labeled either a bitch or a user. Still when you get right down to it, as correctly observed, these men aren’t “nice guys” at all. In the sense of being a nice guy, they are simply adopting and attempting to project the illusion of being nice to get what they want.

It isn’t any great mystery then why over time, exposure to these not so nice “nice guys” can cause women to feel a bit cynical about “nice guys” in general. But hopefully, being a sincere nice guy myself, I do hope that most women look at me as an individual and give me the benefit of the doubt as I think if they would do so, they would quickly come to see that this is my true nature. Initially any person may be able to fool another with regards to their personal agenda or nature by representing themselves as someone they are not, but at least in my own experience, it doesn’t take long before the true person emerges. I would think that in the case of the not so nice “nice guy” that would become apparent rather quickly.

I also very much appreciated what the writer had to say about how some women use the same “nice guy” tactic when they choose to engage in relationships with “bad boy” types and then use that tactic as a form of emotional manipulation. Those comments for the first time also gave me a bit of insight into that circumstance which I’ve never had exposure to previously. The downside of all of this illumination however is that now, relationships seem even more complicated to me than ever before! But then I suppose that is how life actually is. The more you learn the more you are required to learn. And after all I think that is what makes life such an interesting proposition. Thanks so much to the person who took the time to write this excellent and well thought out comment. I find myself a bit wistful thinking that not knowing you prevents me from the pleasure of some further very interesting discoveries that I am certain I would happily make if given the opportunity to discuss life with such an intelligent and insightful person as you appear to be.


Anonymous said...

There is a man at my company that I notice all the time. He's very very cute (6'0", dirty blond, hip, east coast, well dressed) and he's VERY quiet and sweet. Each time I pass by him I smile and get the biggest smile back; I've wondered about him and have considered more about "nice guys" than in the past.

I tend to like a man with an edge, however, this guy really catches my eye. He's one of only two at work that I'd consider going out with. He just strikes me as super sincere and a gentleman.

M said...

As a women, I hear a lot of men whine about not being able to find partners. This rant sounds almost exactly the same, with just a couple words changed here and there. They are all self-described "nice guys" or "submissive guys". Then they attribute the single fact that prevents them from romantic success. They ignore their choices, their personality, their lifestyle, their emotional and mental state, their cock size, their hygiene, their hair color, their dating habits, their finances - everything. If he can't find a woman to date it's because he's so "nice/submissive" and women secretly want "dominant/macho/jerks" men. Isn't that pitiful?

I have also found that there is a species of "nice guy" who seems to be remarkably emotionally manipulative. I think men can find themselves self-identifying as nice, when the truth is they are unable to assert their needs and boundaries in an honest, direct, and healthy way. When their unspoken needs are unmet, they can become passive aggressive.

This is the single most common reason I choose not to enter into relationships with "nice guys". I *like* submissive men. I do *not* like whiny passive aggressive guys reeking of desperation. I'd often rather date an honest "jerk".

(I am not trying to say that all nice/submissive men are like this. Just that there are reasons women put "nice guy" in quotes.)