kate_nepveu linked to a number of things, and among them were two more articles on the phenomenon of the Nice Guy; that is, not an actual nice guy, but the type of person who spends a lot of time whining, "I'm a nice guy; why don't women like me?" These discussions tend to become sloppy and wide-ranging, and I think some distinctions need to be made. Following james_nicoll on primary, secondary and tertiary Engineer Syndrome, I think I can detect similar syphilis-inspired stages of Nice Guyism:
Primary Nice Guyism is just being a shy, awkward teenage boy, not entirely clued in yet to the idea that you can sometimes attract girls by relating to them as people rather than by knowing some secret seduction information, and not fearless enough to blunder ahead anyway like more successful boys do. I think that's all the guy who wrote the Pandagon article ever was. Really, it's kind of normal to be clueless about women when you're 14. Worrying about it too much is just going to make a budding Nice Guy susceptible to...
Secondary Nice Guyism, which is the stage (usually beginning in the late teens or early twenties, but it can continue for decades) in which the Nice Guy starts worrying that he's been inexperienced too long and that this is a source of shame. He starts thinking in terms of some sort of massive project to remake himself, which is scary enough to provoke conscious procrastination. He acquires an unattractive funk of desperation and gets serial crushes on his female friends that make him behave oddly. My 2005 "Desperado" essay applies here, and explains why I think some of the advice in these articles isn't going to be very useful. You might just have to grow out of it. I had some serious Secondary Nice Guyism going on in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It's no fun. But it doesn't necessarily always lead to...
Tertiary Nice Guyism. This is the full-blown, misogynistic delusional complex that the benighted soul mocked in the Mightygodking post is suffering from. The key feature of Tertiary Nice Guyism is that the Nice Guy blames women, often as a class, for his problems. There's nothing wrong with him at all; it's just that women are too shallow to recognize his greatness and give him the sex he deserves. I think I was too self-aware to ever get this bad.
I'm not sure what the precise risk factors for falling into Tertiary Nice Guyism are, but I think that, while being brought up with a sincere feminism may actually be a mild risk factor for Primary and Secondary Nice Guyism (by leading one to worry overmuch about the problematic aspects of sex and romance), it probably inoculates one against Tertiary Nice Guyism. On the other hand, if one has adopted a stance of feminism as a means of scoring with chicks, the failure of this stratagem often leads directly to raging Tertiary Nice Guyism.
Tertiary Nice Guyism may be irreversible.
Matt McIrvin's Steam-Operated World of Yesteryear
- Stages of Nice Guyism