Last night, or maybe this morning, I had a dream that I was in a hotel lobby. A fancy one, with dark walnut panels and leather wingbacked chairs, you know the type. Like, before they let ladies in and banned it, cigar smoke and old jazz filled the room. Brass tacks.
There was a man there. He wasn’t particularly handsome and I wasn’t drawn to him. He was at least a decade older than me but he was nice. Rich too, but mainly just nice. Doting. I had the sense in the dream that he considered me to be very special to him but I also had the sense that we’d not known each other very long. We were on a boat (amuthafcknboat!), it was a cloudy day but not cold. He had his arm around me. He presented me with a ring.
You know how in dreams time slows down and you have all the moments you need to process thoughts that would normally require your best friend, about four High Lifes and $5 in requests from the juke box? This was like that. My first thought was that I didn’t love this man. My second thought was how kind he was, and how safe. He’d provide for me and probably never once make me feel sad or horrible about myself. I strongly considered accepting his proposal, in spite of the acute awareness of the lack of chemistry between us (or at least me to him). Oddly, the dream ended with something involving zombies and murder. Coincidence? Discuss.
The older I get, with yet another failed relationship for the list, I start to think about compromise. I’ve long since forgotten the whole “love at first sight” and “love is all you need” idioms, they are lies told to us through movies and pop music. I don’t say that in a cynical way, I have just come to understand love in a very realistic light. There is simply no way that something as vastly complicated and, yes, ever-changing as love could ever be summed up into something immediate or omnipotent. Not human love, anyway.
So if we know that love by itself is not enough, and that just because we hunker down with the same person for the remainder of our days, it is impossible to remain who we were in that moment that we met, then what are we hoping for when we meet someone interesting? What gets me now isn’t really what got me previously. Yes, I tend to be taken in by charisma and humor naturally, but how I view those two things now have changed from even just five years ago.
I fear the Nice Guy, which is probably why I go for the clown. With the clown you get confidence. It’s easy. It’s even a little safe sometimes, until the mask wears thin and you get a glimpse of all the raging insecurities that shine through. Nice Guy though, well, he’s kind of the secret weapon once you learn to appreciate his quiet nature and passive stances. I think. Girls veer from the nice ones because biologically, we’re pretty sure they’re too nice to beat the crap out of another guy who may threaten our safety. So the jerks and the a-holes win out because they WILL start a fight if poked (even with us). Somehow innately, it makes a little sense. Overcoming this natural tendency means work. It means not sacrificing interest and attraction for security.
Most girls beyond the age of 27 have done it at least once. Some even married those guys and as great as they are, the girls wear ever pair of pants in the whole bleedin’ house and they are BORED. They’re the ones in the bars later than they should be, out dancing on a Wednesday night, desperate to get tattoos even though they’re too old and square for them. They’re unchallenged, uninterested. I know these girls. I myself narrowly avoided being one.
Problem being, in avoiding the Nice Guy Settle, I jump towards the Jerks. The narcissistic, selfish, borderline-sociopaths. I have many in my wake (fortunately, in my wake). Most are settled down themselves, now. Of the last say, 10 guys I dated casually or otherwise, eight married girls they dated immediately after me. No, I don’t get it either. I had a therapist ask me once if I saw that as significant. I thought that was a stupid question because…well… what are the odds?
She said something else I still think about pretty often and this is where I think my ideas on the Nice Guy are slowly changing: some people have friends in their lives who they provide for (emotionally, financially, etc) and those friends take. When they need support however, those same friends are not around. I don’t think all relationships have that dynamic, but they are more common than not. The Nice Guy is used to supporting everyone and in that, comes the very real chance he sports a very attractive mix of martyrdom and victimhood. If the Nice Girl and the Nice Guy can manage to find one another however, they can support each other in alternating ways successfully. They won’t feel used or taken advantage of by the other because there is mutual respect for the others’ feelings and gifts; there’s the mature discussion of differences. This must exist.