So recently I heard a song by Sean Mendes aptly titled “Treat You Better”. This song frankly encapsulates how guys (especially young guys) often see the dating scene completely wrong. Especially “nice” guys. Especially Christian “nice” guys. I know this, because for a long time, longer than I care to admit, I was this guy. In my teen years (Mendes is 18) I could have written this song. Heck, I wrote some songs like this.
When I was a teenager, I always liked the girl that dated the guy that was “bad” for her. Pretty much literally all of my high school crushes could be summed up in that. I was the good guy friend. Sometimes I actually was a real friend, but other times that was just the line they told me to be nice instead of telling me to get lost.
I was seen as the nice guy. The guy who would make some girl happy one day, just not that girl. She instead dated the guy who was crazy, dangerous (read exciting) and who they were typically sleeping with (read sexually attracted to). I was none of those things.
Now when things went bad, I was confided in often. I was their ride home, their “brother”, or the type of guy who they wanted to end up with, but not date.
In my mind I wanted to rescue them. I was better than that guy who treated them wrong. I was holier than the guy they were sleeping with. I loved them after all. And if they would just see that I was right for them everything could be better. But that’s not how it works.
As I got older this became less true. Although I still had no understanding of how to be attractive to the girl that I wanted to date/marry, by my late 20s I wasn’t trying to get the girl dating the “bad” guy so much.
But today I want to share some thoughts for all of the young men out there who are faced with these similar scenarios, many of whom I’m sure are feeling the Mendes song deeply. I know I would have felt this song.
Here is my first thought. If you listen to that song and think it’s you – you are in trouble and you need to seek something different – now. It’s time to grow up a little.
Here’s where you are at.
You’re attracted to a girl. You see her beauty and you see that she needs saved from dating someone other than you – the “bad for her” guy. You are there for her, listen to her, give her advice. If you are a young Christian you might call it “ministering” to her. You of course tell her how great she is and that she deserves better. She’s not into you, but you want her to be and if you can just convince her she would be. You may or may not have told her how you feel.
Worse, in Christian circles we actually often set you up for this. We’ve taught you that women’s sin is tied to men’s. So anything she is doing bad is actually the “bad” guy’s fault. We’ve taught you that it is your job to man up and chase her. Even more devastating, we’ve taught you that if you are a good Christian nice guy, she should like you.
But, that’s not the truth. Pretty much none of that is the truth. I’m not saying that out of any sort of anger or bitterness from my story. I’m saying it because deep down you know it too and part of being a man is seeing the truth, owning it, and doing something about it. Don’t beat yourself up, just be willing to learn.
She isn’t attracted to that guy because he’s bad. She just is attracted. Attraction is not a choice. Maybe she shouldn’t be with him. But it doesn’t really matter. She is with him and not with you. Maybe she wishes she was attracted to you. But she’s not. And despite what a lot of really cheesy movies, songs, and Christian speakers say, she probably won’t be. And if she were to end up with you, it won’t be because you are going to “treat her better” as it were.
So here is what you need to do if this is where you are at:
- Stop chasing this girl. Right now. She isn’t the one. There will be someone else.
- If you are legitimately friends with her and you are a teenager – that’s ok. You can be her friend. But don’t be her special friend or her confidant. You are done being the one who does all sorts of things for her as if you are a boyfriend without being her actual boyfriend. If you are over 25, stop hanging out with her. Now.
- Quit being the nice guy. Don’t be the “He’s nice but” guy. Avoid that. Grow out of that.
- Become a student of attraction. Not romance, not sex, and not marriage. The Church can teach you all about being a husband. But that has nothing to do with attraction. Learn what attracts women.
- Think about how you act with girls you hang out with every day, vs. how you act when you are chasing a particular girl. How do you view each, and how do they view you.
- Do not become a “bad” guy. That’s not actually what is holding you back. Good and bad have nothing to do with it. It’s about confidence both in who you are, and in how you interact.
- Learn to avoid the friend zone – even if it means walking away. Again, you can be friends, you can’t be “that friend”. Don’t allow it.
- Work on how you view your self. Your insecurities. Your sin. What you think of your looks. What you think of your sexual ability.
- Work on being respectable instead of likable.
- Figure out where you are going, and go there. Find someone who wants to go with you. Not someone you have to chase or drag with you.
I have no idea if Mendes is singing from the heart of his own story or not. I don’t know if the video is personal. What I do know is I’ve been there. What I do know is that a lot of young men feel this. What I do know is that the guy in the video does not end up with that girl.