jim_p: (bricklayer)
I used to be a Nice Guy. Most of my friends will probably tell you that I'm still a pretty nice guy, but at one time I was a Nice Guy.

You know the type. You've heard the whine a million times before.... "I'm such a Nice Guy, why isn't anyone interested in me?!"

A lot of whiny Nice Guys are described as "desperate". But just what are they desperate for? Companionship? Sexual release? Validation?

Each of these plays a part, but for me I was after something deeper and more fundamental. I was seeking the unconditional love and acceptance that I felt I had never received in my life. Developmental psychologists like Alice Miller claim that if you missed out on something crucial at a particular developmental stage, there's no going back to get it; it's gone for good. Miller believes that it's the job of the parents and the parents alone to provide this unconditional acceptance from birth. According to her, no other experience in life can replace it. That doesn't stop a lot of folks from trying, though. They chase after things that feel like they might replace what was missed. Some chase after fame, some chase after accomplishments, some chase after money. And some chase after relationships.

Deep down I knew I was asking a lot (really, I was aking the impossible but I didn't know that at the time). So I offered a lot. I was Nice. I tried to figure out what women wanted and tried to offer it -- anticipate it even. I'd listen to women's complaints about their menfolk and vow to do just the opposite. He never brings flowers? Got your bouquet right here! Doesn't pay attention? I'm at your elbow hanging off your every word and move. Doesn't say "I love you"? I'm out with it practically on the first date!

Here's the deal: I'll do anything you want, be anything you want, if only you'll love me fully and unconditionally. Oh, and great sex would be a plus too, but I'll let you dangle me along on that if everything else is happening.

Creepy, innit?

Thing is, I thought I was being wonderful and generous and loving, and I couldn't understand why nobody wanted what I was offering. I thought I was offering the deal of a lifetime. And like with any incredible-sounding offer, people were rightfully wary, certain there was a "catch". I didn't realize at the time just how big the "catch" was in my plan. Not only was I writing blank checks that my ass couldn't possibly cash, I attached big-ass strings to them too. I thought I was offering up diamonds, but they were really only rhinestones.

When someone is described as a "Nice Guy", frequently it's because there's nothing else to say about them. There's no "there" there. In my case I was so busy trying to turn myself into whatever was needed at the moment that nobody had a clue as to who or what I was during any of this. Where was I, the real-life three-dimensional human with his dreams, desires, quirks, and yes, flaws? I was busy hiding that person behind a two-dimensional facade of Nice. Of course, that facade was only looking for another two-dimensional facade as well; I wasn't much interested in who someone was as long as they could do what I needed them to do.

Damn, it's a wonder anyone put up with me at all back then!

Undoing this did not take place overnight, and in fact the process continues to this day. One thing that helped was giving my Self time and space to heal by escaping those environments where it felt under constant attack day after day (first MIT, then a couple of toxic work environments). After that it was therapy and introspection and time. Time to gain the perspective of a longer view. Time to learn the ways of the world (I like to say that everyone else got social Clue with their mother's milk and I was a bottle baby).

I'm not nearly so Nice anymore. But I'm still pretty nice :)

March 2015

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