People tend to conflate being nice with being a doormat. These are not the same and a solution to people treating you like a doormat is not to stop being nice. It’s to develop some healthy self-respect.
A few months ago, I met this girl on Feeld. Normally, I’m not much for using dating apps as I find them rather soul-destroying, but I decided to give it a go.
She was from the US, visiting Berlin for a month. She was nice, hot, and we were both up for some casual fun. We arranged a date and I picked a bar close to where she was staying.
I was there at the arranged 7pm, but she didn’t show up. No reply to my messages or calls either. I waited for half an hour and went home.
A couple of hours later, she sent me a message saying that she overslept. Turns out she went clubbing last night and, Berlin clubs being what they are, she partied well into the next day. She offered to meet up at another time.
I said no.
Lesson from my partner
I didn’t use to be like that. Back in the day, I would definitely try to rearrange. I mean, this was definitely going where I wanted it to.
But I learned better from my partner. When she wants to meet up with somebody and the person doesn’t respond, is late, takes ages to reply or just is a bit lukewarm about it, she just says: whatever, plenty of fish. If they’re not respecting her and her time, she has no time for them.
I thought: easy for you to say! A beautiful girl will always find a fish if she wants one. When you’re a straight guy, you need to be much more flexible. You need to go out of your way, play nice and bend over backwards, because gods only know that those fish won’t be chasing after you.
Or do you?
What my partner was doing, was having some basic self-respect. She treated people who don’t reply, don’t show up, or otherwise waste her time, as not showing her the respect she deserves. That means they’re not dating material, case closed.
Likewise, when she wants to meet up with someone but they don’t reply with the same enthusiasm and she feels she needs to do all the work, she decides: they’re clearly not that interested, I’d rather go with someone who is.
And you know what? I find it hot as hell. The way she holds herself, says what she wants, and doesn’t let people mess with her, is incredibly powerful and power is hot.
Moreover, I found that this makes her much more mentally healthy. She doesn’t fret over guys not responding to her messages and doesn’t feel worthless, unlovable, or not enough.
But are we so different? Why should I chase people who do not show the same enthusiasm? Make allowances for those who don’t respect my time? Humour those who expect gods know what without giving anything in return?
Why can’t I have enough self-respect to tell such people to get lost?
Well, I can.
By the time my date stood me up, I was well-versed in the art. Seriously? Overslept? For 7pm? I understand Berlin party mode and all, but honestly, if you can’t set an alarm or write me at whatever hour you got home that you need some sleep and might be late — if you get me to ride across town to see you, don’t show up, and then say ‘oops, can we pick another time’ — then you can go stuff you entitled ass full of someone more desperate than me.
Well, I did phrase it more kindly, of course.
How hot is a doormat?
When you allow people to walk all over you, well, they will walk all over you.
This is not a gendered issue, by the way. Women do it to men, but men do it to women, as do people of any gender.
It happens in dating, but it’s no different to what will happen at work, in school, in a sports team, or in any social setting. Once others figure out that you don’t respect yourself, they won’t either. They will waste your time, throw their work on you, pass you for rewards that you deserve… It’s not that men or women can be shit. Humans can be shit.
(#NotAllHumans, of course)
But in dating, there’s an additional layer to it. Because how attractive is a doormat?
By allowing people to treat you without respect, you show them that you do not have much self-respect. And this kills you not just on one but on two fronts.
Firstly, it shows that you don’t have the confidence to say you deserve better than that. I don’t need to convince anyone that confidence is sexy, I hope.
Secondly, women might not do it consciously, but there will be a part of them that wonders: Why don’t you have self-respect? And then a whole Pandora’s Box of unsettling questions appears:
Are you in fact so desperate that you’ll swallow any disrespect? But why are you desperate? Is this your only chance? Do you have nothing else going on? That is suspicious, is there something wrong with you? Did other people try? Did you hurt them? Did you bore them? Did you creep them out? What is wrong?
If your date is wondering what’s wrong with you before even meeting you, it’s probably not a good start.
And let’s be honest here. Women in particular have sadly very good reasons to wonder about all of that. You might be the nicest person on Earth, but some guys are creepy, boring or abusive. None of them have it written on their foreheads and neither do you, so your date needs to figure it out from other cues.
Lack of self-respect is such a cue.
Being nice is not being a doormat
This is a thing the real reason why so many guys who call themselves ‘nice’ and try their best to be as accommodating and forgiving as possible, finish last.
It’s not the niceness that’s the problem. The problem is that they conflate being nice with being a doormat. They try so hard to be accommodating that they let people walk all over them. They signal that they don’t have self-respect.
I can see why that happens. If a guy who has become a doormat wants to speak of his problems, he obviously won’t admit to being a doormat. He’ll just say he’s too ‘nice’. This way, nothing is his fault and the others are to blame.
That’s a great defence mechanism, but it’s a lie and a lie with implications. The implication is that now everyone thinks there is a problem with being nice.
So if you think that you’re too nice to get dates, take some time and just think to yourself without telling anyone:
Are you too nice?
Or do you just lack self-respect?
Many guys who talk about this subject correctly recognise the problem: if you’re a doormat, women won’t treat you well or find you attractive. But they then blame it on the wrong people and offer the wrong solutions.
- Passing the blame
Women as a group are not to blame. They don’t want to exploit you any more than anyone else wants to exploit you.
This is not to say that some of them won’t — but the same goes for your colleagues, schoolmates, and so on. This is not a gender problem, it’s a people problem. If you show a lack of self-respect, then sooner or later some people will start exploiting you, simply because it’s in their interest and they can get away with it. If you must blame anyone for it, blame the innate selfishness of the human species. Though I don’t think that’s very productive.
And if lack of self-respect means that women don’t find you attractive, well, sorry to say, but maybe it’s because lack of self-respect does in fact make you unattractive. Again, this is not their fault.
- The solution is not the other extreme
The ‘solutions’ I see thrown about are equally mistaken. Many present this as an either-or situation. Either you’re nice and a doormat, or you stop being nice, demand respect without giving anything in return, and treat them rough so they won’t even think about hurting you.
As with any black-and-white thinking, this is a false dichotomy. There is a huge greyscale of options in between, pretty much all of them better than the extremes.
You absolutely can be nice, kind and accommodating, while at the same time being firm about people respecting you and your time.
You can be a fountain of understanding and accommodate those who treat you well, even if sometimes they make mistakes that hurt you (hey, we all make those). Assuming they own up to the mistakes and don’t repeat them.
For example, if my date wrote me ahead of time to say: Sorry, I messed up and won’t manage tonight, can we reschedule?, I’d be very understanding and reschedule.
But since she wasted my time without a second thought, I won’t. Instead, I wrote a very polite yet firm message saying that that this was not OK, I didn’t want to meet her now, and I wished her a great time in Berlin.
That’s an example of assertively telling people off if they don’t treat you well. They might see their mistake and change. But if they won’t, then don’t waste your time on them. Kindly tell them to get lost and move on with your life.
Self-respect is sexy
Since I started behaving more like my partner, I have become stronger, more confident, and have more self-respect. This in turn clearly makes me more attractive — despite turning some women down, I actually have more opportunities than before.
Plus I just don’t feel crap when someone turns out to be a time-waster. I tell them to get lost and don’t let it get to me. Since I’ve seen the Barbie film, I even have a name for this: it’s easier to be Kenough when you don’t feel dependent on your flaky date’s validation.
At the end of the day, your life is like a house. If you let in people who will drink your booze, break your chairs and shit on your carpet, then that’s the kind of people you’re going to have in your house. If you don’t have the confidence to demand respect or throw them out, they will stay. You will feel horrible, you’ll get a reputation, and more people like that will come. And trust me, none of them will want to have sex with you.
But if you ask people to take their shoes off, take care of the furniture, and confidently yet kindly throw out a couple inevitable troublemakers… Well, then you can go on having a fantastic time with the good, respectful people who stayed and – yes! – be nice to them.