The other night I was perusing some old videos of a great teacher named Bishop Fulton Sheen. He is actually really entertaining. In this particular video he was talking about the difference between nice people and awful people. At one point he said this, “A nice person who drinks too much is an alcoholic. An awful person who drinks too much is a drunkard.” It’s funny and it’s brilliant.
One of the things I’ve tried to help guys with here over the years is the idea that your goal is not to be a nice guy. In fact I’ve said that you need to just quit being the nice guy. I’ve talked about avoiding the nice guy trap. I’ve talked about how women say, “He’s a nice guy but . . . ” when talking about a guy they are not attracted to.The bottom line is that women are not attracted to nice guys. I’ve shared all of this from the perspective as a guy who has in the past, and in fact still, struggles with being the nice guy.
I’ve talked about how being the nice guy in order to get the girl is just another form of “gaming” the system to get the girl. As I’ve said, that is dishonest and frankly completely counterproductive and a huge waste of effort and energy.
Now this has caused some blow back from time to time. Oddly that blow back comes only from nice guys. Hmmmm . . . doesn’t seem nice to give me blowback . . . .
Some of this is because of a misunderstanding of what I mean by “nice guy”. Some of it is because we have been so conditioned, perhaps especially in church culture, to be nice, gentle, accommodating guys. So I want to again tackle this.
First let me say what I don’t mean. I don’t mean that you should be a “bad” guy. Nice and bad are not opposites. That’s part of the Bishop’s point. “Nice” people don’t think they are bad, when actually they are just as bad – they just don’t come off that way. We are all fallen. We all sin. None of us are good on our own. Just because I’m nice and accommodating doesn’t make me a good person. Being good can be attractive to women. Being nice is not.
We have in our mind that being “nice” is more Christian. Nice is not a virtue. It’s not a fruit of the spirit. It’s ok to be “nice” now and then. But for it to be a virtue you have to be capable of being not nice. In other words, always being accommodating because you have no power, no presence, or no ability to fight, is not a virtue at all. Being a harmless, weak person is not a form of being holy. Now being a strong powerful person who uses that power for good – that requires virtue.
Here’s another way of looking at it. Jesus, who we are supposed to be following and emulating, was not, and is not today, a nice guy. Now to be sure Jesus is good. But Jesus was not weak willed, accommodating to a fault or a get along and go along guy. He’s not interested in accommodating our sin or letting everything go. He knew who He was, what He was there to do and went about doing it, regardless of the cost. He stood up to people and for people. He wasn’t arrogant but He was confident. He was strong.
It’s important for a lot of reasons for men to understand this idea. There are times to be “nice”. But it’s important to not be harmless. Its important to be able to not be nice. And when it comes to dating, and even marriage, as a man, it’s important to know when to be both.
The movie Roadhouse has a great scene that is a picture of this. Patrick Swayze is the new head bouncer at a really out of control bar. He’s cleaning house. He is not nice. Here he talks about “being nice” . . . until it’s time to not be nice. Tell me you don’t want to be Swayze.
No I’m not comparing Swayze to Jesus. Jesus was not a bouncer. Swayze was not a savior. But I am suggesting that if you really want to follow Jesus you need to learn the difference between good and nice. As a side benefit it will make you more attractive.