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Continued thoughts on Nice Guy Syndrome

I recently wrote a post about Harold Lauder, a character from Stephen King’s The Stand. I mentioned that Harold has a thing called “Nice Guy Syndrome.”

One criticism of that post came from a man who complained, “Can’t be nice, can’t be a jerk! It’s tough being a male!”

I’m truly sorry if anyone else got the vibe from my last post that I don’t like nice guys. That wasn’t my intent. In fact, I love nice guys. I’m dating one. I appreciate any man who goes out of his way to be kind to others. I am not talking about those men when I talk about men with Nice Guy Syndrome.

Because men with Nice Guy Syndrome are NOT nice guys.

Here’s why:

Being “nice” just to get something isn’t really nice: A man with Nice Guy Syndrome will go out of his way for his “lady fair. He will rush to her side when she’s sad, listen to her problems, and let her cry on his shoulder.

But when she starts dating someone else, what happens? The man with Nice Guy Syndrome complains about being stuck in the “friend zone.” He may even become hostile, referring to her as a bitch, or a whore, or more likely he will insult her intelligence, calling her an idiot for not picking him.

We see that his niceness was not  his nature, but was simply a means to an end.

Men who are only nice until a woman turns them down aren’t nice guys. They’re just manipulative Harold Lauders, hiding their true colors in order to receive their reward (note: you can often diagnose Nice Guy Syndrome early on by paying attention to the way a man treats others besides his object of affection–does he respect other women? How about men? Or is he only “nice” to one woman?)

Objectifying women isn’t really nice: Men with Nice Guy Syndrome act as if the world is a vending machine that trades niceness for women. If they are nice and don’t end up with a woman, they feel that they have been cheated.

A man with Nice Guy Syndrome feels that his niceness should entitle him to a relationship in the same way that a man who goes to a prostitute feels that his money should entitle him to sex. A man with Nice Guy Syndrome doesn’t view women as complex human beings. He views them as objects with a price tag, so naturally he is frustrated when he learns that his niceness cannot be used as currency to buy a relationship.

Invalidating a woman’s choice isn’t really nice: A man with Nice Guy Syndrome is quick to judge any other man that his love interest starts dating. He will become skeptical and over-protective. He will speedily label the other man a jerk, and will tell his friends that the girl is stupid for dating him.

Rather than allowing the woman to make her own decisions, he treats her as a foolish child.

Blaming women for being stuck in abusive relationships isn’t really nice: Now, sometimes women really do end up in relationships with jerks. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. But does the reality of domestic abuse excuse the actions of the “nice guy?”

No.

A man with Nice Guy Syndrome ridicules, with an “I told you so” manner, the women who end up in these abusive relationships. All other factors are ignored in favor of a “You could have had me, but you picked him. You deserve what you got and I’m going to sit back an laugh” mindset.

Never mind the complex, crippling problems that keep women in abusive relationships. Never mind the fact that the jerk the woman is dating likely started out as a “nice guy” too…

Contributing to rape culture isn’t really nice: At the center of rape culture is the idea that a woman’s (or a man’s) “No” should not be taken seriously. If she consents to some things, or if she sends certain “signals,” a man can assume that he is free to sleep with her, regardless of her opinion on the matter.

A man with Nice Guy Syndrome, even if he does not rape a woman, is participating in rape culture when he repeatedly pursues a woman who has turned him down. He does not take “No” for answer, and will not back off once he is rejected because he feels that her friendship with him should eventually entitle him to a relationship. He accuses the woman of leading him on, even if she has made her feelings toward him clear. He may even stalk her or publicly humiliate her.

Men with Nice Guy Syndrome are products of and participants in rape culture. Like Harold Lauder of The Stand, they can even be dangerous–becoming hostile and abusive toward women who do not return their affections or toward men who “steal” their women. They are manipulative men who objectify and feel entitled to women–who think that women can be bought with a price.

Men with Nice Guy Syndrome are NOT nice guys.

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The Stand and Nice Guy Syndrome

One of my favorite books of all time is Stephen King’s The Stand, an epic tale in which 99% of the human race is killed by a super-flu. The story follows the survivors, as they fight to make their way in a post-apocalyptic world.

My favorite character in the book (and one of my favorite female literary characters of all time) is Frannie Goldsmith, a strong, pregnant, college-aged woman who loses everyone she knows to the super-flu- everyone, that is, except her best friend’s brother, Harold Lauder.

Harold goes out of his way to protect and care for Frannie. He impresses her with his resourcefulness and hard-work, and she is thankful. However, when she learns that Harold is attracted to her, she does not return his feelings, and she later falls in love with Stu Redman, another survivor that they meet later on.

When Harold learns of Fran’s attraction to Stu, his true nature is revealed. He is furious–he was the one who took care of Frannie from the beginning! He is the one who worked so hard for her and went out of his way for her! He deserves Frannie because he was such a nice guy. How dare Stu step in a steal Frannie from him!

Over the course of the novel, Harold’s anger and bitterness deepens into a murderous hate.

In my opinion, Harold Lauder is one of Stephen King’s most terrifying characters (and Stephen King writes some pretty terrifying characters), and it’s all because he has an extreme case of what we feminists call Nice Guy Syndrome.

I see Nice Guy Syndrome everywhere.

I obviously don’t expect every guy who has it to become as bitterly hateful as Harold Lauder. His is an extreme case. But in this extreme case, we see the subtle problems with Nice Guy Syndrome brought into focus.

Tomorrow, I’m going to take some time to talk about Nice Guy Syndrome and why I shudder and picture Harold Lauder every time I see a Facebook rant about how women are “idiots” because they “date jerks” and “won’t go out with nice guys like ME!” 

Until then, in honor of a belated Halloween, what’s your favorite scary book/movie and who’s your favorite character? 


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Why I Shouldn’t Write (According to Me)

Writing is hard work sometimes…

Like right now, for instance.

I’ve always felt called by God to write. That’s my part right now in this race that we call the Christian life. But I must admit that I’ve spent most of my life on the sidelines. Why?

Because I made too many excuses.

But lately, as I’ve been pondering these excuses, and as I’ve been reading advice from writers that I look up to, I’ve been learning something. Most excuses aren’t legitimate.

These are my 5 most commonly used ones, and why they are not, as the kids are saying , “legit:”

1. I don’t have time: Now, in my defense, I did spend the last year of my life working full time and going to school full time. But now that I’ve quit my job and am home for the summer, this excuse makes like a penguin and doesn’t fly. I’m pretty sure I’ve played Resident Evil for 15 consecutive hours on more than one occasion this month (remember the episode of Spaced where Simon Pegg plays Resident Evil 2 so much that he hallucinates that everyone he sees is a zombie? I can sort of relate). So, it’s not that I don’t have time. It’s that I waste time.

2. No creative ideas have come to me: I’m not sure why I take such a passive approach when it comes to writing. Sitting on my couch watching PBS and eating Combos, hoping that Creativity shows up on my doorstep isn’t going to help. For one thing, my doorbell is broken. But, seriously, if I want to fill my creative energy gauge, I should go out and do it. It’s not like creative energy costs $4 a gallon. I know exactly what inspires me- a Harry Potter novel, a Queen music video, a Beethoven symphony, a Serious Wednesday post at Stuff Christians Like…Inspiration is all around me. I just have to turn off Elmo’s World and go get it!

3. I can’t write too often. I’ll use up all my good ideas: It’s funny. I’ve never heard a pianist say, “I can’t practice too often. I might learn all the best sonatas.” I’ve never heard a baseball player say, “I can’t play too well. I might run out of home-runs to hit.” Why do I think that writing more is going to make me less creative?

4. It’s not going to make a difference: I wrote my first blog post in August of 2010. It got 2 views. But, one of those two original readers sent me a message telling me how much my post had helped her. I thought, “Every person is worth it. If I help just one person, that’s more than enough.” Now-a-days, my blog usually gets about 200 views a month. I get messages similar to that first message on a regular basis. You’d think I’d be happy. But then I look at these other blogs that get thousands of views a week and think, “Why am I even bothering?” Silly me. I answered my own question months ago: Because each person is worth it. If I help just one person, that’s more than enough.

5. I’m afraid: This one’s usually the killer. See, God could have asked me to blog about movies or video games or other, more impersonal topics. But he didn’t. He wants me to write because he wants me to be transparent. He wants me to get people to think differently. He wants me to be discerning. He wants me to give the gift of going second. Sometimes those things offend people. Sometimes those things kick my pride in the kidneys. Sometimes they make me feel vulnerable. Writing is scary. And it’s hard to crush the excuse of fear.

But writing is not a job for the faint of heart. We have to face, not only our own excuses as to why we should not write, but other people’s opinions on our writing ability. It takes courage.

And furthermore, following Christ is not a job for the faint of heart. Taking up a cross takes courage too. If I want to follow Christ with my writing, I need to put my excuses down and face my fears.

Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

I won’t be alone.



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When Stephen King Punched Me in the Face (figuratively speaking)

For the past four days, I have been blogging daily. I know that may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but if you’ll take a look at the dates of my other blog posts, you’ll notice that this is a new record for me. My previous record for most consecutive days in which I blogged is probably a whopping 1.

But, a couple weeks ago, I finished reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing (which is a must-read for anyone who wants to be a writer, by the way). It inspired me, encouraged me, but most of all, it whipped my lazy butt into shape. Stephen King doesn’t use fluffy, inspirational phrases that make you believe in yourself as a writer. The man tells you like it is:

“If you don’t want to work your ass off, you have no business trying to write well. Settle back into competency and be grateful you have that much to fall back on.”

Ouch.

That hurt.

But it was exactly what I needed.

And since then, I’ve been writing every day. It’s taken me awhile to actually work up the courage to publish something everyday, but I’m hoping I can make it a habit.

So, tune in tomorrow! I’ll be writing about some of the excuses that we make for not creating! I know I have a few of my own, but if you’d like to share your own excuse of choice, do so in the comments section. I’d love your imput!