Ever hear this silly notion that nice guys always finish last. Well, it’s somewhat true, unfortunately. The weird thing about the way society, especially in the United States, seems to condition folks is that people doubt anything that seems “too good”. We live in a culture of fear where anything that doesn’t seem believable has to be questioned and maybe even opposed. In just about any human relationship, this matter of managing expectations once again comes into play.
Do you go in guns blazing or test the waters first? How much effort do you put forth before you expect a reward? Consider this approach: undersell and overdeliver.
Managing expectations is all about setting a reasonable bar for yourself. From day one, you want to make a good enough impression that you will keep the door of communication open but you don’t want to overstate any of your actions or intentions. Failure to do so may make you the subject of scrutiny. Really, you have to keep some tricks up your sleeves (I’ll repeat this, BTW), be spontaneous, and avoid laying things on thick. I know there are already some people out there thinking to themselves that such an approach to relationships, especially those between two people that want to spend the rest of their lives together, is ingenuine.
I’m all for the authenticity movement but, unfortunately, it will likely make some of us rather lonely.
Truth be told, lies are welcome when they are the kind that downplay things that, in themselves, are great but, collectively and to the superlative degree, can be overwhelming, scary, and cause for alarm or doubt.
I know the few nice guys out there, the ones that genuinely care about their life partners, see these jerkwad guys with great women and wonder how they ended up with them. The women are treated like crap, often regarded as mere personal property and not people with emotions, and they stick with the men that do the dirty deeds. I want to avoid generalizations and stereotypes as much as possible but I see this very reality all too often: the man abuses the woman or just under-appreciates her but then he has little isolated moments of awesomeness and all is forgiven. It is cliche, sad, and true.
I know I ate your favorite cat.. But.. Here are some flowers and chocolate!
So, all that being said, what is the trick to being a nice guy but still getting appreciated? Well, you could either give up being a nice guy and try to be that bad guy that all parents worn their daughters about yet they seem to gravitate towards.. OR you just learn to ration out the affection. To me, the trick seems to be this: don’t use affection as a band-aid fix because then it becomes predictable. Show affection “just because” but space it out so that people have something to look forward. It’s a shame but not only is our world cultivated to be fearful and doubtful at every turn but there are also people that do not feel comfortable in their skin, are not used to lots of affection, and have a very big personal space zone. It’s tricky to gauge any given individual’s comfort zone and limits but chances are that your loved one may have a weird thing about certain types of affection for one of two reasons (usually): they had a bad experience with said act of affection or they are simply not used to that level of affection.
Do you use affection and other ploys or gimmicks to keep relationships on life support? Is it worth it?
I do not condone any sort of abuse in a relationship but, sadly, people seem to respond better to this than they can to overwhelming affection. I guess that saying about the devil you know being better than the devil you don’t is true. It’s easier to deal with a known challenge than wonder what awaits at every turn and have that anxiety consume you. I guess that’s the logic that people arm themselves with when assessing the viability of a relationship.
They say love is not enough. The truth in that is that spoiled people, showering them with love, is hardly ever enough. Once upon a time, being nice and sweet was great but the bad boy appeal is in and is not going anywhere. Spit on the ground, scratch your junk, chew on a toothpick, ride a motorcycle, and never show your soft side. Do this and you may very well get lots of fans knocking at your door. Now there are nice guys that get lucky and don’t subscribe to such barbaric means. Once again, we may find ourselves asking, “What is the secret?”
There are no magical tricks or “one size fits all” solutions in human relationships but…
The secret is in this rationed affection stuff that people have cleverly labelled many different ways. Playing hard to get, being manly, being tough, being cool, being a bitch (hey, some folks are proud of this and that’s fine).. The synonymous terms go on and on. The common threads are easy to see: be adventurous and spontaneous, rather than just hanging your hat on simply being in love and being nice towards your significant other. I think all of us, no matter how conservative we may be, like a break in the routine unless you happen to be one of those dreadfully boring stiffs that I’ve heard about. Scary thought…
Now it’s not just being adventurous, edgy, or full of surprises, there are countless ways to keep any type of relationship alive, rekindling those sparks and such. There’s a simple matter of human nature here: we like what we cannot have. When something is kept at a distance from us, we tend to want it more. That is why playing hard to get often works. People tend to take for granted whatever is thrown on their lap, even if what they have there is absolutely awesome. That’s just how it is. It’s important to set the bar low so that people have something to look forward to. Don’t get me wrong: some people will love ya’ regardless but other folks just don’t open up much when they feel they already got the whole package. They just stop trying hard, if they even try at all.
So, if you play hard to get, eventually you are gotten unless the person gives up. At that point, you have to keep some tricks up your sleeves and be as unpredictable as possible. Again, it goes back to breaking out of boring routines. If all your intentions are always known, you’re an open book and no one will read a book in it’s entirety if they can just skip to the good parts. That metaphor blows, I know, but you get the point.
One thing to consider is also this: in any relationship, romantic ones inclusive, there is almost always a fight for control or dominance. Those metaphorical pants represent who is calling the shots and setting the tone or pace. Dating in these crazy times is all about of finding ways to claim your stake without being a control freak but, be careful, you may be dating a control freak, in which case, you need to do what you can to make them feel in control or just move on to somebody new. It’s the ‘ol giving enough rope to hang oneself with.
Maybe it’s simply just time to move on.
The more I ramble on about it, the more this seemingly illogical rationed affection thing makes sense to me and I don’t know if should be scared. I mean, who doesn’t like to be pampered and spoiled rotten? Apparently, not many people anymore, or at least not too often. Some people just feel weird about it because of timing or past experiences, so that is another big thing to look out for. Timing can say things are going too fast and it can also put up a sign that says “hi, I’ve been touched that way before by a total creep so now you’re a creep too” and you may only be giving a foot rub, which is innocent in itself (yes, I am speaking from personal experiences in this particular scenario). Those variables are the sort of things that can drive anyone insane!
If you’re looking for my all-conclusive finale, it’s not here, but I think I provided some good rules of thumb for contemporary daters (self-marketing at it’s best.. or worst), those looking to settle down, and people persons. Just remember: keep a little something-something up your sleeves. Give your lover, life companion, or special person (sure, mancrushes and potential business partners count) something to look forward to!
Since I made a couple of card-playing references (sorta), don’t show your hand. Keep ’em guessing!
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, only because we are all cynical, jaded creatures at heart…
- Do you believe this relationship-building tactic works?
- Is “nice” a word or quality you appreciate?
- What excites you most and keeps you interested/engaged in relationships?
- Do you think this is completely wrong?
- How do you think relationships, dating, and marketing relate?
Share any thoughts you may have! You’d be surprised how the aforementioned concepts apply to business and friendships too…